Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year’s Resolutions are Stupid…

Even though I know I will never keep any of my New Year’s Resolutions, I shall declare them anyway for the entire world to see.

Here are my three New Year’s Resolutions in the order of least likely to be resolved.

1) Be More of a Man.

You would think that when you live in a house with three females, it’s pretty easy to find your masculine identity. This is not true. I find that with each passing day, I come closer and closer to complete emasculation. I hereby resolve to find ways to strengthen my existing male attributes and even introduce some new male qualities into my arsenal of manliness. Some of the things I plan on doing to achieve this are:

A) Growing a handlebar moustache. Nothing says “Man” like a Ringmaster. There is also a nice symbolic undertone to this gesture. My wife will also find this incredibly sexy and irresistible.

B) Hunt and Kill my own food. Back in the Caveman days, every male would have to hunt and kill to provide food and clothing for his family. I can’t even get to the local supermarket without my GPS. I vow to hunt and kill every squirrel, raccoon and pigeon that roams my backyard and cook them on my BBQ for a feast that could only befit my tribe of squaws.

C) Open the hood of my car. I have no idea how to fix anything. I inherited a workbench from the previous owners of my house and I received a toolbox with a full set of tools when my grandfather died. I can change a light bulb as long as it’s not one of those fluorescent bulbs. There is nothing more masculine than looking under the hood of a car. I will not try and learn anything about auto mechanics but I will make it a point to open the hood of my car periodically in the presence of neighbors, friends and complete strangers in order to project a stronger sense of masculinity.

2) Stop Being a Lazy Ass Dad and Husband.

For the most part, my parenting skills are strong or at least stronger than most. I pretty much get by, doing a little bit better than average. I’m good at being a little bit funnier than average, a little bit smarter than average, a little bit sexier than average (The moustache will most certainly push this over the edge). I often feel like I’m doing just enough to get by as a husband and a father. Sometimes I feel bad for my girls because they don’t know any better. I’m afraid that if I don’t get my act together and step it up, my kids are going to one day have a realization and figure out that I’m really a lazy sack of shit. Some of the things I plan on doing to improve are:

A) Stop pretending to be asleep when my kids or my wife need me to do something annoying. Most of the time when my oldest daughter calls me repeatedly with no answer she will stop and assume that I am sleeping or my wife will assume that I am sleeping and help her in my absence. I have mastered the fake sleep. I am convinced that if I was ever in the presence of a cold-blooded killer, I could easily convince him that I was either dead or sleeping. I resolve to make my best effort to pretend to be awake from now on.

B) I promise to make out with my wife for no good reason. I’m not even talking about sex. I’m talking about making out, necking, good old fashioned French kissing. My wife and I have been married for eleven years and we’ve been together for a total of sixteen. When you are with someone for that long and have two kids, certain things start to slip through the cracks. Kissing for no good reason was one of the first things to go in our relationship. I feel like we’re always in a rush. Kissing takes time and I’m gonna make time. Of course this is a two way street and I will give her the option to decline my vow of sensual lip locking. But with my moustache it will be virtually impossible for her to resist. I will make every effort to once again be the Chachi to her Joanie.

C) I will listen to my wife and kids when they talk to me. My wife is constantly claiming that I don’t listen to her when she talks to me. Why else would I not remember that we made plans to see Dan Zane in concert in the city on Christmas Eve Day at 12pm with our kids and another couple. She yells at me, “For crying out loud, I asked you if this was ok when we were in the Hamptons in July. I specifically remember because you were in the pool drinking with your friends and I said to you, is it ok if I buy tickets to see Dan Zane in concert in the city on Christmas Eve Day at 12pm with our kids and another couple?” Ok. So I was drunk in a pool with my friends in the Hamptons and she was asking me a question from 100 feet away, six months ago. I do listen. I just don’t remember. I’ll do anything. Just remind me. I’m not Raymond Babbitt constantly muttering, “Ten minutes till Dan Zane, ten minutes till Dan Zane.” Cut me some slack. Nonetheless, I vow to listen attentively to any and all oral communications coming directly from the mouth of my wife and or my two daughters.

3) Try and Dance More Often.

I am not a great dancer. I am not a dancing enthusiast. I feel embarrassed when I dance. One of the things that I feel badly about as a husband and a father is my lack of enthusiasm for dancing. Dancing is good exercise, it is supposedly fun and silly and it doesn’t cost anything. In these tough economic times, dancing seems like a pretty cost effective way to keep the family entertained, healthy and out of trouble. I would think that it’s a pretty good way to relieve stress as well. Some of the things I plan on doing to introduce dance into my daily routine are:

A) The next time my daughter asks me to do a ballet dance with her; I will wholeheartedly embrace the invitation. Instead of pretending to fall asleep, I will dance. I will even go online after I finish writing this blog ( and purchase a male Unitard, Ballet Slippers and a pair of Capezio Men’s Nylon Tights. My unwavering commitment to dance will be immeasurable in 2009. I will study the likes of Nijinsky, Diaghilev, Fokine and Baryshnikov. I will make my daughter proud. I will probably need to purchase a pair of tube socks as well in order to enhance my Unitard (See resolution #1).

B) I will sign up for Jazz Tap dance instruction and or Clogging. I feel that in order to fully embrace the art of dance in the New Year, I need to find a way to express my creativity through more than one form of dance. Only then will I truly find comfort in my self-expression. I will study diligently at a local dance studio and commit to a performance at the end of the calendar year.

C) I will unveil my new learned passion and skill set at either a family Bar Mitzvah or Wedding. My wife is always angry with me because I don’t like to dance with her at these types of events. She is a big fan of the Wedding / Bar Mitzvah couples dance. I’m not sure how she gets completely pumped up for Barry White’s “You’re the first, The last, My Everything” or Sister Sledge’s “We are Family” every time she hears them. It’s like some sort of an aphrodisiac to her. To me it’s quite the opposite but not this year. In 2009 I will lace up my $39.99 Tap Shoes and tap my way through the Electric Slide like it was my last night on earth and my wife will fall in love with me all over again…

Hopefully all my resolutions for 2009 won’t have me feeling too Out-Numbered…

Monday, December 22, 2008

My kid is full of crap…

Ah the holidays. There’s no better time to kick back, relax and spend some quality time with the family. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa or you’re waiting for the next Hale-Bopp comet to arrive, you can’t deny the spirit of the season. There’s something about the holiday music playing. It acts as a sort of, soundtrack to your life. I feel invincible walking down the street in time to Stevie Nick’s version of “Silent Night” blaring in my ear buds. Just when you had forgotten what an altruist Bono is, “Do they know it’s Christmas” hits the radio again. There’s something about the smell of New York City during the holidays. It’s a perfect mix of gingerbread cookies, pine cones and horse poop. The change of season is such an emotional trip.

For the last six months it’s been nothing but doom and gloom everywhere you look. All you hear about is the declining housing market, how greedy Wall Street has become, the struggles of Main Street, the credit crunch, and how can we forget the election. Even Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillipe got divorced. The sky is falling! It’s time to put all of our worries aside and come together. It’s time to give back to our fellow mankind. It’s time to…

…Administer child suppositories. That’s right. There’s nothing that says Peace on Earth like a constipated 2 year old. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any shittier… What does this have to do with my message of holiday cheer? Nothing. It just puts things into perspective that’s all. There’s nothing sadder than watching a little kid try to push one out the back door when it’s got the deadbolt on. It’s like trying to suck a meatball through a crazy straw. It’s like trying to flush a watermelon down the toilet. It’s just not going to work.

This is one of those instances where guys just don’t make great parents. I mean, to me being constipated would be a blessing. It would eliminate so much downtime. I could watch football straight through without having to take a break. I could eat three or four times as much food without having to empty the cargo. There would be no awkward moments at dinner parties (see: Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan). The mere thought that there would be less diapers to change would be incentive enough to turn a blind eye. But as my wife pointed out to me, it can be serious stuff if a toddler can’t “drop the kids off at the pool.” Sometimes you even have to call the doctor. What? Call the doctor because you can’t poop? I thought only old people have trouble pooping. Isn’t that why they drink prune juice and mix Metamucil with applesauce?

When you’re a parent, you learn to appreciate certain things. For instance, if you’re a father lucky enough to have experienced the wonders of natural childbirth, then you have seen the unthinkable. The mere sight of an 8-pound baby excavating itself from your wife’s fush-ney-ney warrants an instant replay and a smack in the face (not necessarily in that order). But what a little two year old has to withstand when the caboose isn’t loose is just heartbreaking. My little one was walking around the house for 2 days making the most unnatural faces. I couldn’t understand what was wrong. She would be in the middle of an activity and all of a sudden she’d stop in her tracks, start to grunt and turn purple. She looked like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. This is the classic poop face on a kid but it usually takes a few minutes and then there’s a definitive ending. There’s also that wafting stench that says, “I’m done.” The only problem was that nothing was coming out. Poor kid. After awhile, she started to resemble a combination of E.T. and Lou Costello. We would just find her waddling back and forth and making those faces. The only thing that was kind of nice was that for the first time, I started to see the physical resemblance she had to me. Everyone always says how pretty my girls are and how they look like their mom. But for the few days that she was trying to pass the brick, she looked like me. At one point I even put her on the toilet and made her hold the New York Times. My wife didn’t think that was so funny.

My wife decided to call the pediatrician and ask what we could do to help our little dump less truck. The doctor suggested we start adding prune juice and some Benefiber to her morning sippy cup. If that doesn’t help, try a suppository. If that doesn’t help, try a child enema. Holy mother of merciful mayhem! Prune juice I can handle. I’ve even been known to sprinkle a little Benefiber on my Apple Jacks but a suppository? You’ve got to be shitting me (sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Wait, what’s a suppository? I remember hearing my stepmother talk about that once for my little sister but she’s French. So I looked it up:

Joseph R. Duba, MD, posted the following:

Inserting a Rectal Suppository

OK, so you have never inserted a suppository before.
But you are desperate enough now that you have come this far!

I would assume that you have received medical advice regarding the need for the suppository you wish to use. Please do not self-diagnose.

First, you have to realize that the anal / rectal area is just another part of your body. (I would hope you agree). Get comfortable with it.

Relax, and follow these instructions:

You are likely already very sore and might be very apprehensive about creating more pain when you insert one of these things. Understand there will be some discomfort but it is minor and will only last a few seconds. You will not harm yourself.

Take a shower or use a bidet if you have one to clean the anal surface (and external hemorrhoids). Sitting in a very warm tub of water for a while will help relax the anal sphincter muscles and make suppository insertion easier. You might also apply a topical lubricant (like Vaseline, etc.) to the surface to make insertion easier.

Suppositories typically have a pointed end to facilitate insertion. I guess you can thank the manufacturer. It is common to feel a sharp ridge along the sides of the suppository, left over from the manufacturing process. If these are present, simply scratch them off with your fingernail.

The suppository will likely have a waxy consistency. Rub it with your fingers to make it smoother, and to warm up the surface.

Hold the suppository by the non-pointed end and insert the tip into the anal opening. This may be a little difficult to find at first, especially if there are external hemorrhoids there. But you will eventually feel the suppository begin to slip into the opening.
Now just gradually push, keep pushing (it may be further than you imagine) and at some point the suppository will be PULLED IN to the rectum by the anal sphincter.
Do not be surprised if the suppository POPS BACK OUT! You simply have not inserted it far enough. Once it stays in, it's in and will start dissolving.

Congratulations on a job well done.

Congratulations my ass. This is the part where my wife starts earning her money. Suffice it to say, it is almost as hard to force entry, as it is to force exit. I have to hand it to my wife. She really got her hands dirty this time (again, I couldn’t resist). When all was said and done or undone in this case, I learned one thing from this whole experience. Even if your kid is an angel, he or she might be full of crap.

Happy Holidays and a Peaceful New Year! May you all be Out-Numbered in 09…

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I checked all of my sources and found nothing. Nada. Zilch. Urban dictionary is usually a reliable resource. I also scoured the web and found zippo. Wikipedia came up empty. I could trek over to my mom’s house and thumb through her 1977 World Book Encyclopedia Collection but I doubt I would find anything. Those were the days. World Book was the bomb back then. I would sit in front of those encyclopedias for hours at a time, reading about lizards, World War Two, medicine and even the human anatomy. You could look up Vagina and see some crazy diagrams. Salesmen sold that crap door to door and made good coin. Man, we’ve come so far but have left so many important things behind.

Tonight at dinner, we were sitting around the table and eating. My wife had prepared a bit of a potluck smorgasbord for the kids and me. Basically that means that the freezer was getting way too full and she had to cook stuff to make room. It only happens about twice a year but when it does, look out! Some of the things on the menu were, stale cheesy meat bread, dried out pork cutlets, peas with just a touch of freezer burn and crunchy chicken legs. Sounds a bit like Thanksgiving at a homeless shelter. Anyway, I was gnawing on a chicken leg and looking quite the opposite of sexy, when my oldest daughter happened to notice me. She looked at me and said, “Gross-Arrhea!” I said, “What the heck does that mean?” She looked back at me with a straight face and said, “Gross-Arrhea is something that’s so gross that it’s worse than diarrhea. It’s like a combination of gross and diarrhea and YOU are Gross-Arrhea.” At that point there was only one thing left for me to say… “Can you please pass me the dried out pork cutlets?”

Yesterday I was taking my oldest daughter to the pediatrician because she has a cough. My kids don’t get sick that often and when they do, it’s usually the same thing over and over again. Sniffles, sneezing, general booger face type stuff. Even though I know that a bit of Delsym and some VVR (Vicks Vapor Rub) will do the trick, my wife always insists that I take them over to see the pediatrician for good measure. It’s funny though because she always asks me if I think we should take them to the doctor and I always say no. Then she says, “Do you think the pediatrician thinks I’m crazy because I always call them?” and I say, “Probably.” Then she says, “Ok, take them just in case…” Why not? You never know when the Bird Flu might come back and you can never be too cautious with that Whooping cough. I really believe my wife thinks we live on Little House on the Prairie.

So my daughter and I are driving to the Doctor and we get caught at a red light. My daughter says to me, “How do the lights change from green to yellow to red?” The truth is that I honestly have no idea how the hell the lights change. I’m not that tech savvy. I would assume it’s a Leprechaun or some type of troll that lives inside of the traffic light. But I wouldn’t dare try to pass that explanation off on her because then I would have to explain what a troll is and she might find that scary. So I do what any normal Dad would do… I make up some bullshit and try to sell it as best I can. “Well honey, it’s quite complicated you see. Every traffic light has a tiny timer inside of it and it’s set to change at certain points throughout the day. There is probably some sort of master control panel that connects all the lights in our town.” (Holding my breath… 3, 2, 1.) “I don’t think so Daddy.” She interrupts. “Do you want me to tell you how they really work?” “I would appreciate that sweetie pie.” I said. She continues on regardless of my response. “There is a really big room and a lot of people sit in it. Every person sits at a desk with three buttons in front of him or her. There is a green button, a yellow button and a red button. When the person wants the cars to go, they press the green button. When the person wants the cars to slow down, they press the yellow button. When the person wants the cars to stop, they press the red button.” She pauses, waiting for my confirmation. “That sounds like a very good explanation munchkin, I’m impressed.” Screw her. I still think the Leprechauns control that racket but I’m too tired to fight.

Oh and by the way, the Doctor said that she sounded fine and that we should just give her some Delsym and some VVR (Vicks Vapor Rub) at night to help her sleep. DOH!

Before I put my kids to bed we usually spend a little time on the couch and wind down a bit. Tonight we were watching some television. I don’t remember what program was on but there happened to be some Sharks involved. Some of you might be wondering how can you wind down two little kids by watching Sharks? I have one word for you… Educationalism. I think it’s important for kids to learn something right before they go to sleep. I believe there is a better chance of the information getting stuck in their tiny little brains if they see it right before lights out. But that’s neither here nor there. So my oldest turns to me and says, “I’m never, ever, ever, ever, ever going in the ocean ever again!” Man, that back fired. I might as well have thrown on Jaws. At least I would have been able to kick back and enjoy myself. So I asked her with caution, “Why don’t you want to go in the ocean, baby? Are you scared of the Sharks?” She looks at me like I’m a moron and says, “No dumb-dumb.” (Can’t really argue with the truth) “I don’t want to go in the ocean because when you pee it goes from the toilet bowl into a big pipe and then it dumps right into the ocean.” I looked back at her and said, “Gross-Arrhea!”

High five!

The dumb-dumbs in this house seem to be Out-Numbered…

Sunday, December 7, 2008

You look like a monkey and you smell like one too…

At Outback, our attitude towards life is down-to-earth, laid-back, 'no worries'. Our attitude toward food is another story. It's a story about big, bold flavors, a story about quality, consistency and preparation. We take great pride in serving the freshest, highest-quality food possible. At Outback, it's all about quality — and all about the food.
So let go of the worries of the day, and Go Outback.”

Damn straight. That’s the Outback way. That’s why Outback is my favorite restaurant in the world. That’s why I drag my family to the Outback once a year. You see, I’m pretty much forbidden to eat there all year round. Why would I possibly be kept from a Mecca such as this against my will? Because my lovely wife thinks it’s a shit-hole, that’s why. But… because deep down she loves me more than almost anything except her furry Uggs, she allows me one free pass. Every year on my birthday we drag the whole family to the Outback so daddy can stuff his fat face with the following delicacies:

Appetizer - The Bloomin’ Onion

Not much to say here except, “look out!” If you don’t have heart problems before you eat one, you’re probably going to have them after. Definitely looks the same coming out as it does going in.

Appetizer #2 - The Steakhouse Salad

This almost sounds like it could be healthy. NOT! What fun would that be? Birthdays are for being gluttonous and indulgent. Extra ranch dressing, Garson and don’t skimp on the croutons.

Appetizer #3 – Bread

Not exactly an appetizer but it’s so fresh and warm that it must be noted. They also give you a knife that you could hack off your own hand with, to cut it. Outback never “cuts” corners.

EntrĂ©e – 16oz Prime Minister’s Prime Rib

You haven’t had Prime Rib this good since you cousin Steven’s Bar Mitzvah. Cooked to perfection, fatty and Au Jus. Better pop the pants button before you dig into this baby.

Sides – Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Aussie Chips and Fresh Steamed Veggies.

That’s right. I order two items from the potato family. Got a problem with that? I didn’t think so, tough guy. I’d have them deep-fry my veggies but it’s not an option. That’s coming straight from Outback management.

Drink – 20oz Fosters, served chilled.

Nothing says Australia like a Fosters. Actually, my Australian business partner has told me that both the Outback and Fosters are for shit. It’s supposedly like having a Milwaukee’s Best at an IHOP. It beats hanging out with Hugh Jackman and that puss face Nicole Kidman, that’s for sure.

Dessert – Chocolate Thunder From Down Under.

This is irresistible but unfortunately I am Lactose intolerant. So I have learned my lesson the hard way in the past. Now when I come to Outback, I wear an adult diaper and pack a spare for good measure.

Bon Appetit.

If you haven’t guessed by now, it was my Birthday today. If you don’t believe me, check my wall on Facebook. Last time I checked I had at least 200 Birthday wishes. That sounds fairly impressive but when you take into consideration that I have 1269 friends, it’s pretty underwhelming. There’s a higher percentage of people responding to direct mail than that measly turnout. Woe is me.

I shouldn’t make fun. Facebook and the never ending wall posts were actually quite the highlight for me today. I actually think most people that attended my birthday parties between the years 1972 – 1980 sent me well wishes today. That was kind of nice.

The cold hard fact is that I never got to go to Outback Steakhouse today. Didn’t really even come close. My day started off pretty well. My wife let me sleep in. This isn’t ever as simple as it sounds. Before we had kids, we’d sleep in every weekend. Now in order to sleep in, one of us needs to get up with the kids and let the other one sleep. But my kids are so freaking loud that we need to turn on the exhaust fan in the bedroom-bathroom, leave the bathroom door open, close the bedroom door and then open the closet door all the way so it double barricades the bedroom door. It’s like the opening to Maxwell fucking Smart for god sakes. The most pathetic part of this is that my wife took the kids out of the house so I can actually slumber but as soon as I heard them leave… and I most certainly heard them leave… I jumped out of bed and hurried upstairs to exercise. This was my thought process. Would I rather sleep in peace or workout in peace? Thinking that I was going to Outback later that night, I chose the latter. I should have slept.

When my family came back, I was ready to roll. We were actually going to a birthday party. You’d think that on your own birthday, you’d be going to your own birthday party. Wrong! I was going to a 2 year olds birthday party. Double whammy here. Birthday party on Sunday = no football on the couch + annoying clown puppet show and Barney songs. I wasn’t very smart in school but I’m pretty sure this is the square root of SUCKASS.

After the party we headed back home. At this point we still planned on going to Outback. We were just going to rest for a bit, open my presents, then head out. Normally there’s no danger here. Rest and presents. It’s like bunnies and puppies. Harmless. Wrong again! Apparently I wasn’t supposed to get the presents that I got because my oldest daughter threw a shit fit. Now it’s tough times out there, so we kept the presents modest this year. All I wanted was a couple of DVD’s and pair of gloves that didn’t look like the Freezy Freakies I’d been wearing for the last 10 years. But apparently my daughter hadn’t approved the purchase and she was pissed that she didn’t get to pick out my present. So I got a tongue-lashing. Then my wife got involved and told her to apologize to me. Uh oh, not good. “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!” Most of the time I just respectfully decline the apology because when kids apologize (at least my kids) they don’t mean it anyway. I’d rather them just let me know they hate me so we can move on. It’s a lot simpler and quieter. Suffice to say the rest of the evening didn’t quite play out the way I had planned it. I made the decision to stay home for dinner. I told my wife and two daughters that my one remaining birthday wish was to have everyone stop yelling for the rest of the night. I said that I didn’t want to go to Outback with them because it seemed like too much trouble. I wanted Pizza instead, with sausages and mushrooms. Agreed!

When the pizza finally arrived, we all sat down at the table and my oldest daughter said to my wife, “Mommy, let’s go around the table and we’ll all tell daddy why we’re thankful for him on his birthday. Then he can tell us why he’s thankful for us on his birthday.” My wife went first.

Wife – “I’m thankful for Daddy because he works hard every day so he can earn money for us, so we can have the things we need and want. I’m also thankful that Daddy is still very handsome after all these years.” (I swear to Allah she said the handsome thing. She must be relieved that I didn’t catch the ugly train after our 10th anniversary or something.)

Oldest Daughter – “I’m thankful for Daddy because he works hard every day to bring home money for you, so you can give the money to me, so I can buy stuff from the school fair and buy all the other stuff that I want.

Youngest Daughter – “Thank you Daddy. I don’t want mushrooms!!!!”

Oldest Daughter – “Ok Daddy. What are you thankful for?”

Daddy (Me) – “I’m thankful that there are at least 6 – 8 hours in every day that I get to be asleep.”

Cue the laugh track…

Even on my birthday, I was still Out-Numbered…

Friday, December 5, 2008

Vote Out-Numbered for BEST PARENTING BLOG.

Everyone please scroll down on the left hand side of the site and notice the "Bloggers Choice Awards Buttons"and vote for in this year's Bloggers Choice Awards!!! Hook a brother up yo!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Second verse, same as the first…

This Out-Numbered is dedicated to my awesomely chill second kid. Happy Birthday!

When my wife and I were first discussing the possibility of having a second child, one of the questions that kept coming up was… “Do you think we’ll love it as much as we love our first?” Hmmmm. Good question. Totally impossible to answer without sounding cold and heartless but a very good question. I honestly didn’t know the answer. But I always heard from my parents and grandparents that you love each child differently. Not more, just differently. Yeah right. What happens when one kid is smarter than the other? What happens when one kid is prettier? You always hear siblings say, “I’m the good one”. It’s inevitable. What if the new kid gets all messed up like Jan Brady? Or even worse, Macaulay Culkin in, “The Good Son”. You remember… In a quiet town... In a comfortable home... In a perfect body... Evil can be as close as someone you love. It didn’t seem fair.

To make the decision even more difficult, by that point my first had already turned to the “dark side”. When I say “dark side”, I mean the point (usually 18 months – 2 years) at which a perfectly sweet, loving, snuggly, innocent little baby becomes a complete asshole. I know this sounds way too harsh when describing a little kid but it’s probably the most accurate description I can think of. It’s almost like the transformation happens over night or something. You never expect it. It’s almost like watching a cute little caterpillar walk around on its cute little legs, all happy and mushy. Then one day it wraps itself in this Chrysalis. Then you’re like, “ok, I miss my little caterpillar. I hope when it comes out, it’s still sweet and cute.” Then BAM! Asshole Butterfly! Just flying around, nothing at all like the sweet little caterpillar. Ok wait. I think I was thinking of the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with Donald Sutherland and Leonard Nemoy. Those pods that hatched the evil clones? Whatever. I think this stage is actually referred to by the “experts” as the Terrible Two’s. What these so called “experts” don’t tell you is that the Terrible Two’s never end. Seriously. They actually just rollover like vacation days you never use at work. The Terrible Two’s is just a name that sounded cute so they stopped there. What about the Terrifying Three’s? How about the Fucked up Four’s? You get the point.

Even though our little original was going through her transformation or “turning” as I like to put it, she was still our baby. No new child could possibly live up to her presence. So like any other parents of sound mind would do, we said, “what the heck!” Let’s go for it.

It’s funny how these things work. First pregnancy = easy. First kid = not so easy. Second pregnancy = hard. Second kid = not so hard. It’s almost like the first pregnancy wasn’t hard enough so they give you a tough kid to even things out. Then because the second pregnancy was hard, they make it up on the back end with an easier kid. Not sure who “they” are. But apparently they have control over just about everything. You know what “they” say…

Having the second kid was strange for me. It wasn’t at all like the first time around. Back then I was super involved. Even when our first kid was still in the womb, I’d religiously play music for her on those special headphones that fit on the belly. I was very meticulous in picking out the perfect music for her. Stevie Wonder (Songs in the Key of Life, Disc One of course), Peter Gabriel (SO, always omitting Sledge Hammer and Big Time for fear that it would make her annoying.) and Lisa Loeb’s debut album (Because for some reason I think she’s totally hot. Even after she did that lame reality show.) After the kid was born, I changed doodie diapers, did 2am feedings, bath time, you name it. I did it all. It was just like I had pictured it to be. I really connected with daughter #1 from the first moment I saw her. There was a special bond.

When I had daughter #2, it was as if I was a bit detached right from the get go. I can’t really explain it. I barely even played music for her when she was in the womb. I might have exposed her to some Phil Collins (No Jacket Required. God forgive me, Sussudio was on that album.) Or some Journey (Raised on Radio). It was pretty bad. After she was born, I wound up spending most of my time with my oldest daughter while my wife took care of the new baby. Could I have been experiencing some sort of Dad Postpartum? I don’t think so but there was definitely a natural inclination to increase my bond with my oldest kid. My wife just thinks that I didn’t want to change any more diapers. This was definitely true. But it’s not the only reason why I was feeling distant.

Everything was different the second time around. My age was different. My job was different. My home was different. My expectations were different. I didn’t realize it then but I was holding my newest baby to the very standards I had so consciously vowed not to create. I thought I had seen it all with the first kid and didn’t even think for a minute that the second time around could be as unique an experience. Maybe I didn’t want it to be. Maybe deep down I didn’t want anything to alter the bond that I had with my first child.

Then suddenly, things changed. I think it was when my second daughter was three months old. I started to notice the most amazing things about her. She smiled differently than my other daughter. She smelled different. She cried differently. Her hair was a different color. Everything about her was different. She WAS different. She was always different. I was just too jammed up to notice. From that point on I took great pleasure in observing all the little idiosyncrasies about my new little girl. As the months started to pass, her personality started to come out more and more. She was chill and laid back, where my other daughter was intense and focused. She was silly, where my other daughter was serious. It was amazing. For all the reasons I loved my first child, there were now a plethora of completely different reasons why I loved my second. It was like going to Wendy’s and always getting the Chicken Club Combo with Cheese but now I could add the Bacon Jr. Cheeseburger and Frosty to the same order and not have to settle for just one. Bliss… My parents and my grandparents weren’t just blowing smoke up my ass all those years ago. You really do love each child differently. Not more, just differently.

From the day our second child was born, my wife has always joked that she is “the sweet one”. There is that inevitability I was talking about. I always tell her it’s because she hasn’t “turned” yet. “Don’t say that!” she says, as she knocks on wood. This week my youngest daughter turned two. Like clockwork, it started. The yelling. The whining. The hitting. The temper tantrums. I even checked her neck for bite marks, thinking the older one “turned” her like a kiddy Vampiress. Ah, too much True Blood on HBO perhaps. Either way, the Terrible Two’s don’t scare me this time around. Even though my kids are different, there’s one thing that is exactly the same.

I’m still Out-Numbered…

Monday, November 24, 2008

Guilt or Guilty?

One of my guilty pleasures in life has always been the slow, methodical dunk of the Oreo cookie into a tall, cold glass of milk. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of attaining the perfect texture and saturation. Yum, Oreos… Now, my guilty pleasure is the slow, methodical dunk of the Reduced Fat Oreo cookie in an 8oz cup of cold, Lactaid Skim milk. Blah. It sucks getting old…

Why does this matter? It doesn’t. Not for any practical purpose that is. But when has this blog ever served a practical purpose? Easy now… That was a rhetorical question. However, it does make me wonder about the meaning of the word Guilty as compared to the feeling of Guilt. Here’s one definition of the word Guilt:

In psychology, as well as in ordinary language, guilt is an affective state in which one experiences conflict at having done something that one believes one should not have done (or conversely, having not done something one believes one should have done).

I don’t want to get too deep here but is it possible to feel Guilty without being Guilty? I’m not quite sure. To me it seems like you don’t necessarily have to do something wrong to feel Guilty. All you have to do is have a conscience.

I personally feel Guilty ALL the time. This could be related to my upbringing. I’m sure some of you out there have been exposed to the “Guilt Trip” once or twice, growing up. I actually feel guilty writing this. I certainly don’t want my Mom, Dad or Grandma to think that I’m referring to them. I also wouldn’t want them to think that I would imply that the Guilt I feel is the sweet and subtle styling of “Jewish Guilt”. Ok I’m probably in trouble now.

I can honestly say that I don’t do a lot of things that would make me FEEL guilty. I’m not Guilty of anything specific or terrible. I live by some pretty high but simple moral standards. I think my problem is that I’m always feeling guilty about things that I should have done but didn’t or couldn’t or forgot or whatever… I don’t remember feeling all this Guilt before I had kids. It’s hard to feel Guilty when you have no real responsibilities. Forgetting to lift the toilet seat when I was single was hardly a reason to cry myself to sleep on my pillow.

Now it’s different. Really different. When you have a wife and two daughters, you ALWAYS forget to do something. You ALWAYS forget to say something. You ALWAYS manage to could’ve, should’ve and would’ve. Sometimes all in the same day. Half the time I don’t even know what it is that I’m feeling Guilty about. Sometimes when I’m not feeling Guilty at all, I start to feel Guilty about not feeling any Guilt. So it goes…

During any given week, I see my girls in the morning before I leave for the office. Its like clock work. I get up at 6am. I tip toe through the house in the dark. I close everyone’s door so they don’t wake up. I grab a low carb Monster from the fridge. I open the gate to the upstairs (a stark but accurate metaphor to the gates of hell). I climb the stairs. I work out like a zombie, while I watch ESPN or CNBC. Flipping channels and sweating. Flipping and sweating. Then I shower. Then I get dressed. Then I eat a low sodium rice cake with reduced fat peanut butter and a half a cup of Lactaid skim milk. Oh my god. I think I just made myself cry. Sometimes I tell my wife that I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. My mornings are my routine. But the highlight of that pathetic and equally boring routine is the time I get to sit with my girls. Usually they are all snuggled in bed with my wife waiting for me to come down. I only get about fifteen minutes or so but it always does the trick. I think they look forward to it just as much as I do.

This past week was different. I had to be at work very early on Tuesday, so I skipped my routine and snuck out of the house before anybody was awake. That made me feel Guilty. On Wednesday I was flying to Chicago on Business very early in the morning so I had planned on getting home at a decent hour on Tuesday night to have dinner with my family and say goodbye. Unfortunately I got held up at work and missed my window. By the time I got home, both my daughters were asleep. This made me feel Guilty. The next morning I once again got up way too early to see my girls. I felt so Guilty that I wrote a note to my six year old explaining to her how sorry I was that I hadn’t seen her for a couple of days and that I had to go away on business until Friday. I taped the note to the sink in her bathroom so she would see it if she actually brushed her teeth. I thought this was a sweet way to tell her that I loved her and I thought it would make her feel special to get a note from Daddy.


When I landed in Chicago, I called my wife to tell her that I wasn’t dead. This is basically the only news she wants to hear when I fly. Not, how was your flight? Not, how do you feel? Just, “I’m not dead. Talk to you later.” But before I could let her know the good news, she interrupted me and let me know that my six year old was so hysterical when she saw my note that she cried for almost an hour. She didn’t want to go to school. She didn’t want to eat breakfast. All she wanted was her Daddy. She couldn’t understand why I didn’t tell her that I was going away or why I didn’t come home the night before or why I didn’t wake her up to say goodbye. That stopped me dead in my tracks. I felt Guilty. I was Guilty. I didn’t even need a trial. Just hang me. Fuck. Why didn’t I come home the night before? Why didn’t I tell her I was going away? Why didn’t I just wake her up to say goodbye?

Life is why. Every day I try to do the right thing. I go to work for my family. I exercise so I’ll stay healthy for my family. I eat the shitty reduced fat Oreos so I’ll be fit enough to play with my kids for a long, long time. But even though I do all those things for my family, it is still the things I DON’T do that make me feel Guilty. It’s hard to be a perfect dad. It’s hard to be a dad, period. But it’s the Guilt that let’s you know that it’s worth it every single minute of every single day. You’re not always Guilty when you feel Guilt. I know this because when I came home early on Friday, I was greeted with a running hug and showered with kisses from all of my girls. I was also given a note. This is what it said:

Daddy I miss you soooo much. I miss you soooo much. I want you now. I can’t wait for you to come home on Friday. You are so funny and nice. I love my daddy.”

As if that weren’t enough. Let me leave you with this parting gift from wikiHow:

1. Obtain a box of Oreo cookies from the local grocery store or gas station. Make sure they are the original cookies and not the new vanilla Oreo's. While at the store, pick up a gallon or half gallon of milk. (2 L - 4 L) If you think you are going to spill much of the milk, go with the gallon (4 L), but if you are a neat and tidy eater, go with the half-gallon (2 L).

2. Once you have safely arrived at home, place the Oreo cookies on the table. Grab a tall glass from the cupboard and fill the glass with milk to about a half an inch (12.7 mm) from the top. This is the optimal height for dunking the cookie.

3. After the milk has been poured, open the box of cookies. Pick one cookie up gently so as not to break or chip it. Raise the cookie until it is positioned approximately 1.5 inches (38.1 mm) from the rim of the glass.

4. Lower the cookie gently into the milk until about half the cookie is submerged. If you submerge the whole cookie at once, air will become trapped inside the cookie and will not allow the milk to soak in.

5. Be patient! Do not swirl the cookie around or move it around in the milk. You could risk breaking the cookie and losing it forever in the depths of your glass of milk. After exactly 6 seconds have elapsed, slowly remove the cookie from the milk.

6. Once the cookie has been removed from the milk, gingerly raise the cookie to your mouth, careful not to break the soggy cookie in half. Place the cookie on your tongue, chew, and enjoy!!

Why is it that the Guilt always makes the Guilty pleasures feel Out-Numbered?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Follow my blog...

Ok so this isn't a real post but a plea. If you enjoy reading Out-Numbered, why not scroll down a tad and on the left hand side, click "Follow this blog". Show the world how much you love to be entertained and educated by my musings. Also, don't be shy. Leave a comment if the posting gets you going... But if you're like me and you're lazy, you can check one of the "Reaction" boxes and give your feedback in a much simpler, slothier way. Let's turn this into an open forum where we can share advice, stories and experiences about our pain in the ass kids. Or any one's kids for that matter. I appreciate you and your loyal readership. Man, that sounds stupid. Oh well. Rock on! - Jay

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Heaven No’s…

This week, in fond memory and admiration, I find my inspiration for Out-Numbered in the strong spirit of Jordan I. Lane, affectionately known to my girls as PJ.

Six year old: “Daddy?”
Me: “Yes baby.”
Six year old: “Do people go to heaven when they die?”
Me: “I think they go to some place nice.”
Six year old: “Do they go to heaven?”
Me: “I’m not sure if they go to heaven but it’s definitely a place that’s nice.”
Six year old: “When people die, can they talk to other people who are dead?”
Me: “I don’t see why not?”
Six year old: “Is PJ going to talk to everybody in heaven?”
Me: “Sure. He’s probably going to talk to a lot of people. Anybody that will listen, I’m sure.”
Six year old: “If my best friend and I die at the same time, can we talk to each other in heaven?”
Me: “That would be terrible sweetheart.”
Six year old: “Whatever. Will we be able to talk to each other?”
Me: “I suppose so. Knock on wood though.”
Six year old: “What does that mean?”
Me: “You’re supposed to knock on wood when someone says something bad that you don’t want to happen.”
Six year old: “Why do you have to knock on wood?”
Me: “Never mind.”
Six year old: “If I die, I’m going to be really chatty up in heaven. I hope all of my friends die with me so we are all there together.”
Me: “That sounds like fun…”

Death is one of those things that you don’t plan on talking about with your kids. It’s not that you want to avoid talking about it. It’s just that you kind of hope to avoid death in general. It’s kind of not fun. Sometimes you try to throw a little life lesson in there along the way. Like when you win one of those Beta fish at the local carnival. The only thing that those miserable fish are good for is teaching your kids a little mini lesson about death. It’s pretty much a lock for heartbreak most of the time. The kid is so happy when they bring that fish home. Kids don’t really think about the circumstances. Like the tiny little bowl it comes in or the freezing cold water with no filter or heater or the lack of oxygen or the insufferable loneliness the fish must feel hovering in that sad sack of a studio fish apartment. You get the point. It’s inevitable that the thing will die within a few days. So you spend this time prepping the kid for the death experience, in the hope that it will come in handy down the road. It goes something like this:

Day One

Kid: “I love my new fish.”
Parent: “Great. He loves you too.”
Kid: “I hope he lives forever.”
Parent: “Nothing lives forever sugar plumb.”
Kid: “My fish will.”
Parent: “I wish that were the case but it’s not possible.”
Kid: “I think it is.”

Day Two

Kid: “Daddy, Daddy!”
Parent: “What is it pumpkin?”
Kid: “I think my fish is dead.”
Parent: “I think you’re right baby. I’m sorry. You see, it’s…”
Kid: “Can we get a new one?”
Parent: “But…”
Kid: “I want to flush it down the toilet.”
Parent: “Ok. Get your mother.”

You see, I always thought it was going to be a heart wrenching conversation. Maybe we’d be sitting on a rock by a lake somewhere. Kind of like my “On Golden Pond” moment. I’d touch my daughter’s shoulder and tell her about the Loons. We’d both cry and then hug. Not going to happen. Kids, like adults have their own ways of dealing with things. Death is one of them. I feel kind of inadequate talking about it with my kids. I think it’s because as a parent you’re supposed to have answers for your kids. But death is not like math or science homework. It’s about sadness and mortality. It’s about suddenness and faith. It’s about God and truth. It’s easy to tell them “Grandpa was sick” or “Grandpa went to sleep and he’s not going to wake up.” But those answers aren’t good enough. Little kids can be very literal. They don’t think like we do. The last thing we want to do is have our kids develop acute phobias of sleep and sickness. We need to be honest with them. We need to be open and truthful. It’s totally ok to not have all the answers to all of their questions. Kids are perceptive by nature. They can sense when you’re pulling the wool over their eyes. It’s ok to talk to them about faith. As long as we encourage openness and let them know that it’s ok to feel different things, they’ll feel comfortable and secure.

I remember when my oldest daughter was four years old. She asked me if we could get a pet dog. I said that we couldn’t because Mommy is allergic to dogs. She then asked, “If Mommy DIES, can we get a dog?” I said, “I suppose we could but hopefully we’ll have to wait a little while.” Kids are living in the moment most of the time but that doesn’t mean they don’t understand. They just have their own way of processing things. Not every emotion will be textbook.

This past week my wife’s Grandpa passed away. When we told our oldest daughter the news, she didn’t seem very upset. We asked her if she was sad that PJ died. She said, “I’m not sad.” We asked her why? She said, “We still have Nana.” We told her that was very true and a good way to look at things. She went on to tell us that she didn’t want to care that PJ died. When we asked her why she didn’t want to care, she said, “If I don’t care, then I won’t be sad. So I don’t want to care.” We told her that it’s ok to be sad and that she can care if she wants to. There’s no reason to hide the way she feels.

Kids are so freaking smart it KILLS me. Ok, not a great choice of words but it’s true. There is so much we can learn from our children even in the most troubling situations. There is no right way to act for a child. That’s the beauty and the gut twisting experience of being a parent.

This week was tough for my wife and her family. We all miss PJ. One of the things that made it bearable for us in our time of loss was the sights and sounds of all the kids running around the house. Even in death there is always life. It’s times like these that we should cherish the spontaneous dialogue we have with our children. If we listen to what they have to say, we just might find the answers that we were so desperately hoping to provide for them.

Surrounded by the memories of a loved one and my family, this time I was truly Out-Numbered.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dreamers, Discoverers & Dynamos, Oh My…

I took the day off from work today. I was thinking about planting myself at a neighborhood Starbucks with my laptop and start this week’s Out-Numbered but then I remembered I have no such flexibility in my schedule. I have a full plate of Daddy activities to partake in. First, Music Class with the little one, then off to school to pick up the big one and finally, Ice Skating lessons to finish up the day. I’m always jealous and yet suspicious of those people sitting in the Starbucks with their laptops and sketchbooks, passing the time away. Don’t they have stuff to do? Can’t they get their shit done at home or at work? Or are they so efficient with their time that they can’t even relax with their Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino without multi-tasking? Whatever. I’ll just have a cup of Folgers. It’s the best part of waking up, right?

Last night I started to read a book called “Dreamers, Discoverers & Dynamos – how to help the child who is bright, bored, and having problems in school.” Aside from being the longest title in the history of modern literature, you’re probably thinking, “this can’t be his choice for the book of the month club.” Bingo! It’s not what I would call light reading. I’d much rather be sifting through an issue of Captain America. Some Judy Blume, “Forever” would be pretty awesome right about now. But I don’t have much of a choice. My daughter’s first grade teacher suggested that my wife and I read this Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D. masterpiece. I’m sure this sounds awful. But I’m not totally sure if it is just yet. Not the book, the situation I mean. It all started a few weeks ago. My wife and I began receiving notes home from our 6 year olds’ teacher. We are well aware that she’s not a perfect little angel at home so it would probably be a fair stretch to assume that she magically transforms into “Gabriel” at school. Parents can dream though, can’t they? Anyway, it seems as if she has been acting out and at times, disrupting the flow of the class. I’m not sure what constitutes “flow” in a first grade class but I can’t imagine my daughter has the almighty power to disrupt it. On second thought… Divine intervention or Act of God sounds like a fair analogy.

At first the notes didn’t concern me all that much. I remember the same exact thing happened to her in Kindergarten. Usually it was just an argument with another kid or a hissy fit of some sort but in the end, it worked itself out. You see, my oldest is, how shall I say this… authoritatively challenged. She’s basically a three-foot tall ball buster. Kind of like Danny Devito in Taxi except with Crocs and a ponytail. She’s never been a bully and she’s never been rough or violent. She’s just always had a knack for “negotiating” and “influencing” people in certain situations. Back in Kindergarten I read, “Parenting the Strong Willed Child”. I also had a nice relaxing read through, “Raising Strong Daughters”. Although those books had substantially shorter titles than the recent suggestion, it still left me pretty much clueless about how to curb my kid.

I remember when she was in day-care; she was showing very clear leadership skills early on. When she was three it was pretty clear that it wasn’t just because she was a Leo. Why does everyone always ask what sign a kid is if they are causing some sort of trouble? It’s like the kid’s personality is all preset and packaged neatly in the Leo section of the wacko store. It’s funny though because here’s what they say about The Leo:

Element: Fire (She does have a Hot Temper…)

Ruling planets: The Sun (Is the sun a planet? I thought it was a star. Shouldn’t a freaking Astrologist know this, of all people?)

Symbol: The Lion (This makes total sense. King of the jungle, right? She’s exactly like a lion. I know this is freaky but if she were a boy, her name was going to be Simba…)

Stone: Peridot (I don’t even know what that is. I’m pretty sure it’s a typo.)

Life Pursuit: To lead the way (This is pretty on the money. She could definitely lead a horse to water AND make him drink.)

Vibration: Radiant Energy (Radiant my ass. If she radiates anymore, my town will be like Chernobyl.)

Leo's Secret Desire: To be a star (She does love to sing and look in the mirror a lot. I bought her a microphone for her birthday a few years back. Aside from being a little bit “pitchy”, dawg… she’s pretty good.)

No matter what level they have attained, all Leos are trendsetters, leaders and adventurers. Their weakness is their pride. This is one sign where the saying "flattery will get you everything" applies, but be warned criticism will slam the relationship door right in your face.

Well, it’s very nice that people are able to quickly and easily tag my kid as a Leo. It’s also kind of fun to point out the similarities, but it doesn’t come with a Leo owner’s manual does it? I didn’t think so…

Back to the notes from the teacher. We decided to give the teacher a call and find out if there was anything we could do to help remedy the problem. She told us that when we come in to meet with her for Parent / Teacher conference, we could discuss it further. She also told us that maybe we could make an appointment with the school guidance counselor as well. Screw that! My kid is six years old. She comes from a solid family environment. She’s super bright. There’s no divorce, no history of mental illness and certainly no need for a guidance counselor! I was pissed. Instead of making a stink, we decided to make an appointment and approach it with an open mind. It is our child’s well being after all. I also thought that it was about time I started putting all those tax dollars to work for me.

We went in to talk to the teacher and spent a good thirty minutes with her. She apparently cleared her morning to devote the proper amount of time to the parents of her arch nemesis. It would have been like Lex Luthor meeting Jor-El or John McCain meeting Barack Hussein Obama Sr. It was kind of awkward at best but she seemed nice enough. She did that, “let’s concentrate on the positives” routine. The good news was that my daughter is extremely literate and engaged in her curriculum. She is just having a problem relinquishing her apparent lust for power. It all started to make sense once we hashed it out a bit. Ever since she was little, she’s been the star child. She was the first kid in our little family unit. She was the first grand daughter. She always loved attention and she had no problem hamming it up in front of who ever was willing to indulge her. She was extremely verbal early on and never had a problem expressing herself on any level. Heck, she even has a little sister to boss around now. As parents, we were enabling her to take control over any situation she found herself in. We always thought this was a good thing. After all, don’t you want your daughter to be assertive, out-spoken and independent? I thought I did.

The long and the short of it is that my daughter isn’t in a free for all Day Care anymore. She’s also not role-playing her leadership skills in the playroom at home. She’s in a class with 18 other children that all need attention from one poor sap teacher that is a “No!” away from a restraining order. She needs to respect that authority and learn to adapt to her new environment. How do we teach our little drill sergeant to obey the rules without crushing her big spirit? I have no idea but I’m certainly going to give it my best shot. I don’t know if I’ll find the answer in any one book but I’ll read as many as I can to try and piece together a plan. I’ll also try and use some of my own instincts, as unpolished as they may be. They tell me that the Leo and the Sagittarius are extremely compatible.

Let me leave you with a bit of encouragement I found from the book, “Dreamers Discoverers & Dynamos”:

“Your child’s Edisonian mind gives him a distinct advantage in the business world of today. He can handle abundant incoming data, and scan it for opportunities, like new markets. He can turn innovation into profit, which is exactly what he needs to succeed in our accelerated, entrepreneurial twenty-first-century workplace.”

I’m screwed. Judy Blume, where are you when I need you? This is one Sagittarius who is astrologically Out-Numbered…

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Misty Water Colored Memories...

On Saturday night, my old lady and I hit the town... Levittown that is. We met some friends at the Diner and had a quick bite to eat. The Diner is a very tricky place. It's like an island filled with the mythical Sirens and a bunch of fat people. The Sirens just sing their sweet melodies, calling you and whispering sweet Tuna Melt temptations, luring you with the waking dreams of Gyros and Mozzarella Cheese Fries with Gravy. Evil I tell you. I myself am a fan of the Triple Decker Turkey Club Sandwich. I even had a little WTF moment and partook in the Matzoh Ball Soup. Dee-lish! Also, against my better judgement, I had a Corona to boot. No I don't need no stinking glass, thank you kind sir. The white trash meter was running high indeed. Anyway, you're probably thinking, why so fancy schmancy? Wasn't it your anniversary a couple of blogs ago? Yes mine kinder (Yiddish for small children - Shout out to all the Bubbies in the house, say yeah!). Be patient. Let the story unfold. This was a special night. After the Diner, we hurried over to the theater to catch the 9:00pm performance. Well not exactly a theater. It was a local comedy club. That's a pretty huge night out for us these days. The comedy club is such an under rated activity. I've only been to them a few times but what's not to like. There's booze and hysterical people that have only one intention: to make you pee your pants laughing. My wife got the tickets a while back. Kudos to her. Such a good call. The headliner comedian was Louis CK. He's the dude from the short lived show Lucky Louie. It was on HBO for about a nano second and then got canned after a most memorable season one. In a nut shell it was like The Jefferson's with white people, cursing and full frontal nudity. I'm pretty sure that sounds like the worst piece of garbage on TV but it was truly brilliant. Season One is on Amazon. I ordered it on my phone in the car after six pints but I'm glad I did. I swear there is a point to all of this gibberish somewhere in here... Oh yes, Louis CK. One of the reasons I love his comedy is because he has two daughters. Just like me. His girls are almost the exact same age as my angels, so it's particularly amusing to hear him rant in mostly Rated R mode about the trials and tribulations of parenting. Turns out he just got divorced, so on this night, he was in rare form indeed.

I'll let you pick up the DVD and check out Lucky Louie for yourself but there is one thing he said that got me thinking pretty good for most of the night. While kvetching (Yiddish for Whining. Sorry it's a theme. I get like this every year around Shavuot) about his divorce and his kids, he warned everyone in the audience that once you have kids, your whole life is pretty much over. He went on to say that when you have kids, you can basically forget about everything that used to be fun. Forget about all the things that you used to love doing. Just forget it. Done. He also said that all that's left is to basically follow around your kids and try to enjoy the things that make them happy. But that sucks too so screw it all.

Ok, so I don't exactly make Louis CK sound hilarious but he had me going pretty good during that schtick (Yiddish for bit, piece; comic act; eccentricity). I actually agreed with him one hundred percent that night. Maybe it was the beers and the euphoria from the Triple Decker or maybe it was kinda true, sort of. I mean, seriously. I can think of about a hundred things I used to love to do but can't, now that I have kids. For instance, I love Italian Zombie movies (I know, I'm a total loser). The bloodier the better. I love the cheesy Italian accents and creepy 70's music score that accompanies it. I used to watch them all the time. I'd stay up until all hours of the night, just laying there like a total burn out, watching away. But now, I NEVER watch zombie movies. Heck, I hardly watch anything that doesn't have dialogue that rhymes. If you can't sing along with it, It's probably not playing in our house. Zombies just aren't conducive to a kid friendly environment. Although I do fantasize about decapitating Caliou and feeding his intestines to Zombies. Another thing I used to love to do was read the paper on the weekend. New York Times, Wall Street Journal, didn't matter. I'd read them all. Cover to cover. It was so damn relaxing. Chillin' on the couch all day. Maybe even drink a Bloody Mary or two. I actually think that since my kids have been born, I've slowly become illiterate. It's hard to read the paper when little kids are jumping on you, ripping the pages right from your hands. I actually think my oldest daughter used the business section to paint with this weekend. It's probably for the best any way. You don't know your losing money if you can't read about it, right? There's one thing in particular that I used to take great pleasure in doing solo. How about going to the bathroom? No, really. I need to go there. This can't only be me. I can't remember the last time I went number one or number two without some sort of meeting or kid conference happening right in front of me. This morning, I played Miss Mary Mac with my boxers around my ankles, while my youngest kid wrapped me in toilet paper like a freakin Mummy. Seriously, I felt completely degraded. I'm worried that my kids don't have a sense of smell for god sakes. I want to take them to the pediatrician just to make sure but I can't bring myself to explain my concern to the doctor. I can't even take a pee without my little one sneaking up behind me and poking her tiny pea head through my legs. "Daddy making sissy?" Holy cow, I always thought I was King of my castle but now even my throne has been taken from me.

So I think that's what Louis CK was talking about. You do kind of lose your personal space. But then... Bam! As usual, I have a moment of clarity that always seems to come on Sunday for some weird reason. What happened was, I was thinking about it all wrong. I was thinking about it from a really far out perspective. What I didn't take into consideration is all the little things that my kids make me realize every day. Let's look at the flip side for a moment.

Today I got to spend some time alone with my two year old. She's so damn cute. I sometimes can't even stand it. She might be the most polite and gentle human being on the planet. Everything is a please or a thank you or a "Yes Daddy" or "OK Daddy". I'm not sure why God sent her to us. You'd think Charles Ingalls raised her. I really can only screw her up at this point. But I digress. Anyway, we did our favorite thing. We took a walk to the Pizza place. It seems like we do it every weekend. It's a great time passer and kids LOVE Pizza. While we were sitting in the Pizza place, I noticed two kids walk in. They looked like they just got finished playing football. They were wearing their Jets jersey's and bandannas on their heads. It made me smile. I instantly thought about all the times I used to ride my bike to the local Pizza parlor with my best friend and order the "Special". The "Special" is always two slices and a small soda. Still is today. Then I realized that before I started taking these walks with my kid to the Pizza place, I had not actually sat in one in years. As an adult, I'd always order Pizza in. Most of the time our nights are filled with Sushi or Chinese food. If it hadn't been for my little Laura Ingalls, I wouldn't have remembered how much I used to enjoy ordering and eating that two slices and a soda in those Orange / Red booths. Ahhh, misty water colored memory number one. Later in the day, when both of my daughters and my wifey were all home, we went outside into the backyard to let the kids run around and play on the swing-set. Usually, this is a good time for me to relax and watch the girls have some fun but today I felt compelled to join in. I got my fat ass on the swings, hung out in the tree house and even hit the slide a few times. The kids loved it. I loved it! It made me remember the swing-set I used to have in my backyard when I was a kid. It was the aluminum kind. It made so much noise that you thought the thing was going to collapse on top of you. It was red, white and blue and covered with rust. I think it was rusty out of the box. I'm surprised my mother didn't have to administer tetanus shots to my brother and me every time we played on that thing. I don't remember a ton from my childhood. As a matter of fact I don't think I've thought of that swing-set in thirty years. There was something about running around today with my girls that triggered that one. A doozie for sure. Last but not least came the trifecta. In some kid circles if you experience all three in the same day, you are guaranteed entry into the Kid Hall of Fame. This Sunday happened to be a bye week for my Chargers, so my football viewing was quite discretionary. In the middle of watching one of the other games, I heard the girls laughing hysterically. I popped my head up to see what was going on and I noticed the little one perched on top of her older sister. She was giving her the business and good. An all out, good old fashioned tickle fight. I couldn't resist. I rolled off the couch and crawled over to them and attacked! I definitely think that tickling little kids is the single most amazing activity in the history of fun. My parents got divorced when I was about nine. I don't have a lot of fond family memories. Certainly not with my Dad around. But the one thing that sticks out in my head is the uncanny knack he had for tickling. He'd get me really good in that spot on the knee. All he had to do was apply a little bit of pressure and I would lose it. Tickling is truly good for a kid's soul. Today it was good for mine as well. One thing led to another and before I knew it, we were playing hide and seek. Man, kids can play for hours at a time and never lose their enthusiasm. Again I realized that all of these things my kids love to do were things that I loved to do!

There I was drinking beers and listening to Lucky Louie bitch about how shitty his life was because he had kids. To think I almost fell for it hook line and sinker. Maybe his problem is he spends too much time thinking about all the things he can't do now that he's a Dad and not enough time allowing himself to dig just a little bit deeper and let his kids open up a place in his heart that most of us haven't been to since, well, since WE were kids. They say it takes one to know one. I say we all have a fair amount of Kid buried inside of us. Sometimes it just takes our kids to let it out. All we have to do is listen and pay attention.

The last part of the trifecta came after bath time. All of us got into our PJ's and snuggled on the couch. My wife had Tivo'd a program I hadn't seen in ages. "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" came on the TV and I think I almost cried. My two munchkins lying on me after a long weekend, like big fluffy marshmallows. There are a lot of reasons to love being a Dad. I might not be a comedian but I certainly knew at that moment the Pros had the Cons Out-Numbered...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Facebook Friend or Foe

I’d like to say to everyone who is reading, that I have truly missed you. I kind of bailed on the blog last week for a bunch of different reasons. One reason was that I was freaking exhausted. I always save my writing for Out-Numbered for Sunday evening when the kids are asleep. It’s a great way to wind down and put my thoughts together. It’s also fairly therapeutic most of the time. Last week I had a ton of shit on my mind and found that I was way to preoccupied to dedicate my pea brain to anything one track. Another reason was that I had arrived home late from a weekend excursion with my family and three other families at a resort in Pennsylvania. When I say families, I mean kids and all. That would be six kids and eight adults in one house. I probably shouldn’t get into the minute details of the trip. My wife and I have been friends with these people for longer than we’d all care to admit and I respect their privacy. There are really only two things from this trip that still resonate with me one week later. The first one is the bruise I sustained to my windpipe or larynx or trachea or whatever that thing in the middle of your neck is. Us guys decided to play a little football before dinner and forgot that we were kind of out of shape and soft. It wasn’t long before I was on my back, bleeding and unable to breathe. I’d like to think that my buddy purposely threw a wicked forearm but I think he just fell about a half second before I fell and bam! I pretty much ruined a good pair of jeans too. Who the hell plays football in jeans anyway? That should have been the first sign of unpreparedness but certainly not the last. I’m definitely getting old. I think I’m about at that age when any type of fall usually results in a broken hipbone. I always wondered why old ladies were always being rushed to the emergency room with broken hipbones. Now I know…

The second thing that sticks out in my mind about the trip from last weekend is Facebook. Yes, Facebook. Don’t pretend you didn’t get excited there for a second. I would be willing to bet that half of the people reading this blog still have their browser open with Facebook waiting and the other half stopped reading when I wrote the word Facebook and haven’t come back yet.

So we’re all sitting in the living room of this gorgeous country house. The kids were finally asleep. The fireplace was raging. The 80’s music was playing. Everybody was sipping on either a cold beer or a glass of wine. Five years ago we would have been playing some ridiculous board game, like Jenga or Pictionary. I’m really not a huge fan of the board game to be honest with you so I’m not completely disappointed. What struck me as very odd was that I realized that no one was talking to one another. Not a word. Not out loud that is. You see I picked up my phone by force of habit, I guess, and I opened up my browser to check Facebook. Just writing that down makes me feel like a complete loser. But when I checked the recent status messages of my friends, I noticed that at least five out of the eight of us sitting in the same room together had changed their status within the last ten minutes. What’s even more insane is that all of the status messages had to do with what we were doing right at that very moment. For instance, “ so and so is watching so and so on Facebook.” Or “I’m so hot sitting next to this fireplace.” Or “So and so is happy the kids are finally asleep so I can hang out with all my friends.” If I wasn’t in so much pain from my broken windpipe, I think I would have gone around the room and given everyone a good shake. It seemed absolutely ludicrous to me that the eight of us had traveled 150 miles away from home, paid a ton of money to stay in this gorgeous house, the kids were finally asleep and we couldn’t even muster up a game of fucking Charades? Come on now. Can we be that lazy? Do we hate each other that much? Or is Facebook that addicting? I know it’s extremely tough to stay out of the photo albums of your high school crush. It’s also pretty damn fun to read that guy from college’s status messages. After all, he was the funniest guy in Sigma Alpha Mu and you think you made out with him. Wait! Give me a second; I just need to send out one last Little Green Patch request. Holy Mackerel! This is too much. I was just doing some math and this is how it shakes out…

Let’s assume the average Facebook user / addict (that includes me and probably most of you.) spends about 30 minutes a day on the application. I think that’s a pretty conservative assumption for most of us, considering how easy it is to get lost for hours at a time on this thing. That would mean that most of us spend about 210 minutes a week, 840 minutes a month or 10,080 minutes a year talking to people that most likely haven’t even met our kids, seen our homes or shook our hands in… well, ever. Now don’t get me wrong. I just spoke at a conference the other day and I was asked, “What is the single most exciting thing about the future of your business? My answer was Facebook. I know that sounds stupid but it’s really pretty awesome. As far as the whole social networking phenomenon goes, it’s truly a miraculous tool for business. After all, business thrives on people and relationships. Facebook allows you to connect with people from all over the world with the click of a mouse. It’s a personal database management system like we’ve never seen before. It’s enabled us to reconnect with friends and acquaintances that for all intents and purposes could have be hit by a thousand Mack trucks and we would have never known if not for the “Friend Finder” or “People you may know” link.

But you know what? There are also a lot of things that suck about it. For one, I’ve probably spent a good 50 hours on the computer over the past year looking at useless garbage when I could have been reading a book or a newspaper or even talking to my wife. Go figure. I’m absolutely horrified to admit it but I have definitely called out to my daughters at bed time that I’d be right there to tuck them into bed and by the time I had finished checking my inbox, they had already fallen asleep. What a dick!

Sitting with my friends in that living room last week made me realize that not all of the latest technology is good technology. There has got to be a time and a place for everything. We need to keep the human element well within our reach before we lose it all together. Our kids aren’t like us. They were practically born with a playstation in their hands. They will grow up with the world at their fingertips. It’s going to be hard for us to understand just how much information technology will be in their collective consciousness’. But we CAN be the link to that part of the analog world that is still so important. I’m referring to the part of human nature that used to make us laugh and sing and run and play. I’m talking about touch, conversation, books, music and games that don’t have sound effects and “might” cause seizures. Jeez, didn’t any of us see Wall-E?

The real reason I didn’t write my blog last week was because I was so angry with myself for spending so much time in front of the computer lately that I took a vow of internet abstinence that night so I could tuck in my kids and talk to my wife without being distracted by which profile picture I would start the week with.

So my friends, I’m going to leave you with one very important piece of information for the next time you find yourselves sitting in a room with anyone you love and you have a choice between analog or digital… See Below:

***The rules of the acted charades used vary widely and informally, but these rules, in some form, are common to most players:

The players divide into two teams.

Each player writes a phrase on a slip of paper to create the phrases to be guessed by the other team provided with a randomly selected word or phrase in secret (usually on a slip of paper drawn from a container), and then has a limited period of time in which to convey this to his teammates.

No sounds or lip movements are allowed. In some circles, even clapping is prohibited, while in others, the player may make any sound other than speaking or whistling a recognizable tune.

The actor cannot point out at any of the objects present in the scene, if by doing so he is helping his teammates.

Usually, any gesture is allowed other than blatantly spelling out the word, but some play that indicating anything about the form of the phrase is prohibited, even the number of words, so that only the meaning may be acted out.

The teams alternate until each team member has had an opportunity to pantomime.

Hopefully when it comes to choosing Facebook over Family, we’ll never be Out-Numbered…

***The rules for charades were taken from Wikipedia.

Monday, October 13, 2008

All you need is love… and sleep.

I am very proud to boast to all of you that it is my wedding anniversary today. My wife and I have been married eleven glorious, blissful, harmonious years (for the most part). That’s right. You heard me. I’m not even just saying that to score points. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty certain she’s asleep by now. I’m sure you’re thinking that she’s probably exhausted from a full weekend; jam packed with romance and adventure. Well, not so much… We did get to go out for dinner last night. We actually got to use a gift certificate to a local restaurant that we received on our anniversary last year. Or was it from the year before?

There was a time when our anniversary meant long weekends out in the country or fancy dinners by candlelight. My wife could pretty much count on a few dozen roses arriving on her doorstep, usually followed by a lavish piece of jewelry to boot. I’m pretty sure my wife sold most of that jewelry last week for a nice amount of coin. Gold is at an all time high you know… You know what? It’s fine by me. Even though this year was an uneventful anniversary, it was very special all the same. I’m not sure there are any real secrets to a successful marriage. I certainly am not the one to write the book on it. But I do feel like each year I get closer and closer to understanding why a good marriage is so difficult to maintain. I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. For that matter I think that very statement is what helps me pull my weight day in and day out.

Marriage is something two people need to work at. Some days it’s easier than others. When my wife and I were newlyweds, (which I now believe is any time before there were kids in the picture) it was all pretty simple. We both had jobs that were slowly turning into careers. We both had hobbies that kept us busy and slightly independent. We went out to breakfast, lunch and dinner, most of the time on a whim. We’d see movies, sometimes two or three a week. We’d go away on spontaneous weekend getaways. We’d stay up until all hours of the night, only to sleep the day away without even bothering to change out of our PJ’s. These were the good old days. I’m sure some of you reading this are smiling and thinking about how easy it used to be. Marriage was a cakewalk back then. We hardly ever fought. Pretty much didn’t even argue. We could hardly keep our hands off each other. Why is that? Um, let me see… NO KIDS!!!

I’m not saying that kids ruin everything but they kind of mess things up a bit. Instead of going to the movies with my sweetheart, I watch the Doodlebops until I want to puke. Instead of spontaneous weekend getaways, I change dirty diapers in an alley behind the pizza parlor (seriously, this happened to me today and I’ll write about that some other time.). Instead of staying up until all hours of the night, I usually fall asleep at around 10pm with a fair amount of drool on my pillow. Not even sure if it’s my drool half the time. It’s funny, today we had some friends over for a BBQ and I walked in the house and my wife and my buddy were laughing over something that was just said. Before I could ask what was so funny, she asked me… “What’s the one thing in our marriage that we argue about most?” That’s a great question to have to answer on your anniversary. The funny thing is, I knew exactly what she was referring to. I turned to her and answered without hesitation. “Who gets to sleep late on the weekend?” My buddy was pretty impressed that we were so in sync with our answer and my wife rewarded me with a hearty high five. That’s what we fight about now. Eleven years of marriage and that’s what pulls us apart? It’s sad but true. My wife and I have had this conversation many times. It’s actually a pretty sore subject. We’re both equally as passionate about the topic. When we fight about it, we go at it pretty good. In the end we just wind up talking about how stupid it is to fight about such a petty thing. But it’s the one thing that makes both of us happy. Sleep. Precious, undisturbed, unadulterated, sleep. It has become our respective hobby. It’s the one connection we have to the old days. I sometimes pretend that there are no kids outside my bedroom door. If only for a few hours. Having kid is hard work. It’s hard. Did I just have a George W. Bush moment right there? I think I did. That’s what happens when you deliver some straight talk my friends. Wait, I think I’m going insane.

I guess the point I’m trying to make with all of this is that there doesn’t have to be a romantic dinner or a weekend getaway for me to realize how very lucky I am to have found my wife of eleven years. I’m reminded of it every day. She’s the one who keeps me honest. The one who still makes me laugh at myself when I get too serious. She completes me and she had me at hello. She’s my Renee Zellweger. Anyone can claim to have a great marriage but throw some kids into the mix and the going get tough. There’s no “I” in team. It takes two to make a thing go right. It takes two to make it outta site. All the cliches are right. That’s why today when I was wiping my 2 year olds ass in the alley behind the pizza parlor, I had to stop for a second and wish myself a very happy anniversary. I did this because I knew that somewhere at that very moment, my lovely wife was probably wiping our other kid’s ass thinking the same thing. That my comrades is true love. On this day, our eleventh anniversary, we were both Out-Numbered…

Sunday, October 5, 2008

This is the end of the innocence.

Who knew that when Don Henley released this classic back in 1989 that his lyrics would play such a HUGE part in inspiring this week’s edition of Out-Numbered? No one. The question even more paramount than the prior, is probably, who cares? Is it possible to have an amount of people less than no one?

Fast-forward almost 20 years to a beautiful fall afternoon at a local farm festival. The family was having a fantastic time soaking up one last bit of sunshine on this Indian summer day. There were tons of activities to keep the kids busy. Hay rides, pumpkin picking, smelly game farm animals that have no place on a farm, like camels and zebras and of course my favorite fall festival activity… Kid Karaoke. WTF is this? Don’t you need to be drunk to enjoy this? The most agonizing part about kids attempting Karaoke is watching them stare at the screen trying desperately to read the words fast enough to sing them in time with the music. This is extra heartbreaking because for most kids there is so much at stake. First of all, most of the little kids that do Karaoke can’t read. Those of them that are able to read are beginners at best. What kind of cruel torture is this? I think it makes sense to measure a kid’s height before they go on a ride or a bouncy thing-a-majig at these things. It’s a safety precaution. Why the heck wouldn’t you make a kid take a short reading test before allowing them to sing Karaoke? I think if the proper precautions aren’t taken, the repercussions could be more damaging to a kid than the rides. There’s nothing that says fun like a kid messing up twinkle twinkle little star because they can’t read.

Unfortunately for me, my kid CAN read. Even worse than her exquisite reading ability is her knack for picking inappropriate songs for a 6 year old to sing. Here is the little ditty she belted out in front of a packed farm festival house. I’m so proud. Oh, by the way, insert kiddie bootie shaking whenever you feel compelled because that was running rampant throughout the performance.

Lyrics to G.N.O. (Girl's Night Out):

Don't call me
Leave me alone
Not gonna answer my phone
Cuz I don't
No I won't see you

I'm out to have a good time
To get you off of my mind
Cuz I don't
And I won't need you

Send out a 911
We're gonna have some fun
Hey boy, you know
You better run

Cuz it's a girl's night
It's alright without you
I'm gonna stay out
And play out without you
You better hold tight
This girl's night is without you
Let's go
Let's go
It's a girl's night

I'll dance with somebody new
Won't have to think about you
And who knows
What let go will lead to

You'll hear from everyone
You'll get the 411
Hey boy
You knew this day would come


Hey boy
Don't you wish you could have been a good boy
Try to find another girl like me, boy
Feel me when I tell ya
I am fine
And it's time for me to draw the line

END of Lyrics…

Uh, awkward. Aside from being completely impressed with my daughter’s ability to tap into her inner Madonna, I was pretty mortified. Heck, I didn’t even know she was dating. Is this ok? Should my 6 year old be belting out musical rants about late night raves and bootie calls? Am I just a dad that doesn’t want to hear the noun that starts with a B and ends with a Y anywhere in my daughter’s vocabulary? When did we jump from sippy cups to sexy butts? I just find it to be a bitter pill to swallow.

I’m sure some of the more “liberal” parents out there are saying, “Dude, it’s just a song.” Well, it might be just a song but it’s a song that teaches my kid stuff that she doesn’t need to know just yet. For goodness sake, she’s only 6. She’s at least a year away from a cell phone. That was a joke by the way. She also has a 2-year-old sister that repeats everything she says. All I need is my 2 year old walking around the house in a thong diaper asking me if I have the 411 on her milky.

It’s not easy to keep our kids at a safe distance from all the contaminated info out there. I’m not a “Patriot Act” kind of Dad. But there are too many outlets for which the info can be distributed. Television, movies, video games, magazines, radio, internet, ipods and of course, the dreaded school. Come to think of it, when I was a kid, I did quite the rendition of Grease Lightning, right down to the white T and greased back hair. Wait a second; let’s take a closer look at that one. After all, I turned out just fine.

Lyrics to Grease Lightning:

Why this car is automatic
It's systematic
It's hydromatic
Why it's grease lightning (Grease lightning)

We'll get some overhead lifters and some four barrel quads
oh yeah
(Keep talking whoa keep talking)
A fuel injection cutoff and chrome plated rods oh yeah
(I'll get the money I'll kill to get the money)
With a four speed on the floor they'll be waiting at the door
You know that ain't no shit we'll be getting lots of tit
In Grease Lightning
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go

Go grease lightning you're burning up the quarter mile
(Grease lightning go grease lightning)
Go grease lightning you're coasting through the heat lap trial
You are supreme the chicks'll cream for grease lightning
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go

Purple french tail lights and thirty inch fins
oh yeah
A Palomino dashboard and duel muffler twins
oh yeah
With new pistons, plugs, and shocks I can get off my rocks
You know that I ain't bragging she's a real pussy wagon
Grease lightning

Go grease lightning you're burning up the quarter mile
(Grease lightning go grease lightning)
Go grease lighting you're coasting through the heat lap trial
You are supreme the chicks'll cream for grease lightning
Go grease lightning you're burning up the quarter mile
(Grease lightning go grease lightning)
Go grease lighting you're coasting through the hit lap trial
You are supreme the chicks'll cream for grease lightning
Lightning, lightning, lightning
Lightning, lightning, lightning

END of lyrics.


END of Blog.

You know what they say… The more things change, the more they stay Out-Numbered.