December 31, 2011

Why 2012 Is Going to Be Amazing

I'm worn out. Completely worn out. I'm not sure whether it's lack of sleep, dehydration or Nintendo thumb, but 2011 really beat me up. I have more aches in my bones than ever before and I'm pretty sure that the only one sleeping at naptime these days is me, dear old Dad. But that is all about to change.

I'm tired of being tired, so I'm dedicating 2012 to be the Year of Amazing. That's right my friends. I've looked into my crystal ball and have seen the future. This is going to be a banner year at Klems Manor where a lot of amazing things will happen—Ella will start kindergarten, Anna will start preschool, Mia will take her first steps, my wife will learn to love bacon. There will be many, many reasons to celebrate and I plan to celebrate them all.

Though, as I looked into that giant ball, I noticed my family members weren't the only ones who will do great things in the coming year. I saw 8 Amazing Things that this Dad is going to accomplish in 2012. Here they are:

1. I am going to lose 20 pounds.
For the sake of my health it's time to cut my Dorito intake in half, so I'll only be buying 3 bags a week. Sorry Frito-Lay.

2. I am going to run a half marathon. Stop laughing. (UPDATE: COMPLETED!)

3. I am going to take part in a flash mob. Would love to do the first ever "Dad Flash Mob" where Dads across the great city of Cincinnati break out in dance to Motownphilly by Boyz II Men. Why? The band name says it all. Plus, that song is awesome. Who's with me?

4. I am going to find a way so that all three of my kids can sit on my lap at the same time and get a photo with all three of them smiling at the same time AND with all our eyes open.
This, quite honestly, may be the most difficult item on this list.

5. I am going to read my kids The Little Prince.
My Mom read this to me at bedtime when I was just a little Brian, and it's one of her fondest memories. I want a fondest memory.

6. I am going to beat Andy Uhl in Scrabble.
I'm not even sure this is possible, but I'm going to spend the next 366 days (thank you leap year) trying to do it.

7. I am going to get rid of my blue sleeping pants that sport a giant hole in the crotch
(much to the chagrin of my wife, I'm sure). I never thought I'd see this day. All hope is not lost, though: I see a thread beginning to break free in the crotch of my red pair. (UPDATED: COMPLETED!)

8. I am going to pitch a Life of Dad book to agents and put myself out there.
If millions come rolling in, I'm throwing a party and you're all invited. So long as you use the code-word Forehead Hickey. (UPDATE: Phase 1 COMPLETED!; On to Phase 2 - Book Deal)

Come success or failure at any (all) of these, one thing is for certain: Life is short and there's no more time for putting off dreams. If I'm not constantly trying to reach goals, then what kind of example am I setting for my kids? A boring one. Which is why I'm glad I looked into that crystal ball and saw just how amazing my coming year is going to be. I hope you have an opportunity to look into yours and see what amazing things you are going to accomplish in the coming year.

And if what you see is you taking part in a Dad flash mob, let me know. I can help make that happen.

December 16, 2011

Christmas Letter of Recommendation to Santa

Santa Claus
North Pole

Dear Santa,

How's it going at The North Pole? Participated in any flash mobs this year? Based on the increased number of Christmas specials on TBS, I'd have to think you have royalty checks overflowing your workshop. Hope the reindeer don't eat them.

Anywho, it's my pleasure to write you today and ask that you do, in fact, place my daughters on the Nice List. It's been an emotional year, one that's seen some loved ones bow out and new loved ones bow in. But all in all, save a few incidents of hair-pulling and not abiding by the rules of seat-check, our girls have been great. I'd like to tell you about it in this Christmas Letter of Recommendation.

Our eldest, Ella, is in her second year of preschool (which she loves). She comes home most days sharing what she's learned with us, like sign language, silly songs and jokes that, we're pretty sure, she's just making up. They make us laugh anyway. She worked really hard to write all her birthday thank-you cards by herself and can now do basic math, just like her old (yet incredibly handsome) dad.

My middle daughter, Anna, had a monumental year this year, becoming potty trained right around her second birthday. She was so happy. So were we. So were the blue M&Ms who had been living in fear during the potty training process and had been eaten at such an alarming rate that they started to hide—in our couch cushions, under the refrigerator, in plants, in pockets, up noses—anywhere they could to save their lives. She also learned how to spell her own name. Her Mom and I can no longer pass secrets notes about her anymore. Though, usually, those notes were about how much we love her, so we'll probably still pass them.

My newest daughter, Mia, is still just a babe at 6 months, but she is a smiley one. Her recent accomplishments include eating solids (that are anything but solid), sitting up on her own, and shaking her rattle so hard it slips out and sails at least 8 feet. Sounds like someone wants matching father-daughter softball gear for Christmas. That someone is me. She'd probably be fine with a hoverboard.

And, while my wife didn't ask for it, I'm going to put in a good word for her too. She's dealt with a lot of adversity this year and somehow, someway still finds time to wear those god-awful thermal PJs that I hate so much. I hope you take care of her by putting big smiles on our kids' faces—I know that's the gift she wants most of all.

As for me, I don't need anything. Just a loving family who gives me hugs when I need them will do. And for that, I will continue to be awesome.

I hope all is well and Mrs. Claus gets you that new Star Wars Blu-Ray set you've been wanting. If not, let me know. I'll get it for you so long as you take those thermal PJs back with you to the North Pole.

Thank you and Merry Christmas,
Brian A. Klems
Founder, CEO and Janitor of Team Klems

December 1, 2011

The 5 Levels of Dirty Diapers & How to Survive Them

When people dream about having babies, they only think about the fun things, like squeezing their cheeks and using them to practice ventriloquism. They don't spend much time focusing on the tough parts of parenting, specifically changing diapers. From what I've heard, this used to be an easy process. But then 9/11 hit and WHAM!, diapers became more dangerous than ever. That's why, with the help of the Homeland Diaper Advisory Board, I've developed the Dirty Diaper Threat Level Alert System.

This system is designed to help you diagnose the potential threat of each type of dirty diaper and advise on how to prepare for (and handle) each situation. No need to thank me yet—thank me after you've survived a Code Red.

The Dirty Diaper Threat Level Alert System: 
LEVEL 1: Code Green. This condition is declared when there is a low risk of bodily fluids escaping the diaper. Federal departments as well as your immediate household should consider taking the following general protective measures:
  1. Keep wipes and spare diapers close.
  2. Make sure changing pad is laid out somewhere away from foot traffic.
  3. Fake cramp in your diaper-changing hand and use sympathy to get mother-in-law to change it for you.
  4. Dispose diaper in any open garbage can or leave it haphazardly on the coffee table until the next time you go into the kitchen to make yourself some bacon.

LEVEL 2: Code Blue. Also known as "A Stinker," this condition is declared when there is no actual evidence of an explosion but there is a general risk of your baby dropping a load based on the terrible smell of her farts. Code Blue farts are toxic and can kill. I've seen a Code Blue take the lives of two doll babies, a Cabbage Patch Kid and one unsuspecting Potato Head. Consider taking the following general protective measures:
  1. Use latex gloves to slowly peek in the diaper to make sure there's nothing actually in there. If there is, you may have to declare a Code Yellow or Orange (see below).
  2. Remove smell by opening windows or cutting off your nose.
  3. Invite mother-in-law over for dinner, but only if she can arrive in next 4 minutes. Hand off baby, run out to pick up pizza. Text her and ask for Code Level before returning. Important Note: Don't forget to use $2-off pizza coupon.

LEVEL 3: Code Yellow. An elevated Code Yellow is declared when there is a significant risk of skid marks in the diaper. This is the type of diaper you offer to change because 1. It's not lethal, 2. It's not messy and 3. It will allow you to use the phrase "I changed the last one" when the big one drops. Consider taking the following general protective measures:
  1. Take off favorite sports jersey.
  2. Put on surgical mask.
  3. Sing Alma Mater fight song to pump you up.
  4. Make sure someone's purse is close and open. Dirty diaper + Open purse = practical joke enjoyed by all.

LEVEL 4: Code Orange. A Code Orange is declared when there is a high risk that the diaper is filled with a bomb but remains contained. Signs of a Code Orange include sweating, grunting, crying and foul odors—and that's just from you. The baby, likely embarrassed that she had to drop one in front of everyone in the living room, will pretend like nothing happened. Consider taking the following general protective measures:
  1. Also pretend like nothing happened.

LEVEL 5: Code Red. This is also known as a "Nuclear Attack." Slimy particles not only escape from the diaper, they leap and ruin anything within a 5-mile radius. Liked that onesie? Too bad, it's got poop on it. Liked that Green Day poster on your wall? Too bad, it's got poop on it. Liked your forehead? Too bad, it's got poop on it. Liked that 62-inch flat screen TV? Too bad … well, actually, you were wise enough to cover it in 11 layers of plastic and 4 rolls of duct tape to protect it during just such an event. Good for you! Consider taking the following general protective measures:
  1. Invest in Hazmat suit.
  2. Pray for a miracle.
  3. Man up and change that diaper, no matter what is clinging to your forehead. 
  4. Take picture and send to your wife while she is at work. She will appreciate it. 
  5. And finally, place all material that's fallen victim to a Code Red in a garbage bag, seal tightly, drive to neighboring state and bury it in the backyard of a Yankees fan. (Another practical joke enjoyed by all.)
The truth is, diapers are gross unless they are your kid's. And while I joke, I've changed every type of diaper imaginable, including a Code Erupting Volcano (details of this are too unfit to print). And I've survived—barely. I hope this chart helps you recognize and diagnose the proper threat level of dirty diapers and allows you to survive them, too.

I also hope you've perfected your ventriloquist skills.