January 25, 2013

The Best Worst-Gift I Received for Christmas

Many people had asked me what was the best Christmas present I received last year. For weeks I’ve been trying to come up with an answer, but the truth is that the best Christmas presents are usually kind of dull. And they are dull because they are practical. Socks. Underwear. Gift cards. Cash. A Gift Certificate of Forgiveness (from your wife) to be played at any one event during the year where you forget to get her a gift, such as your anniversary.

Instead of showing off some of the best gifts (the Rosie Reds membership from my wife's aunt is pretty hard to beat), I'd prefer to share with you the Best Worst-Gift I received.

Every year, most of us get a gift from a loved one—typically an older member of the family—that is meaningful but usually kind of ridiculous. For example, a few years back my wife's grandma gave me a tool that you keep in your car's glove compartment to use, and I quote, "to break your window in the event you drive into a lake." I could only assume she had given me this gift based on her own driving experiences. Another year my mom gave me a tie that looked like a piano and actually played music. There were only two problems with this: 1) I don't know how to play the piano and 2) Guys who wear piano ties don't get invited to parties. (They get invited to sit home alone on Saturday nights, locked securely in a sound-proof room at least 70 yards from their wives.)

But this year's Best Worst-Gift takes the cake. It really puts all other gifts to shame. In fact, I previously mentioned that a gift such as this would be the ultimate in bad gifts. And, apparently, someone was listening.

So I'd like to thank my wife for giving me the Best Worst-Gift I've ever received, which I now proudly display (on the floor) in my office. It serves as a constant reminder that my wife is, and always will be, pure evil.1

1It's important to note that John Stamos is my arch enemy. It's also important to note that Kelly Kapowski would never have given me a gift like this. 
OK, so I can't keep it on my office floor forever. What do you think I should do with it? Comment below and perhaps I will take your suggestion.

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

* Subscribe to The Life of Dad via email or RSS feed!  
* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things. 

January 11, 2013

When Toddlers Develop 1,000 Hands

I don’t quite know when it happened, but sometime over the course of her first 18-months of life, my youngest daughter developed 1,000 hands.

These hands are used for many useful things, like giving hugs and blowing kisses. They are also used for not-so-useful things, like making messes at the dinner table and reprogramming the television so it only speaks Spanish. When there are two grown adults to keep the hands under control (such as my wife and me), it’s not so bad. One of us can try to entertain her while the other one stands guard like a pit boss at a casino, eyeing the crowd for any shenanigans. But when my wife is out of the house and has, against all logic and reason, left me all alone to watch our kids—which includes a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 1,000-handed toddler—I spend all night using one phrase:

“I turn away for TWO SECONDS and (fill in the blank)!!!”

Every parent I know has used this phrase at one time or another. And if they haven’t said it, they’ve thought it. Many times. Why? Because two seconds is the precise measurement of time it takes for any 18-month-old to use any one of her 1,000 hands to draw a picture for you ... on your freshly painted bedroom wall.

It’d be nice if the phrase was used to indicate something pleasant, like “I turn away for TWO SECONDS and she made us all dinner!!!” or “I turn away for TWO SECONDS and she reorganized the linen closet so all our towels are arranged by color and our toiletries are neatly tucked to the side!!!” Unfortunately it’s more likely that you are yelling, “I turn away for TWO SECONDS and she reorganized the linen closet by throwing all our towels in the toilet!!!”

This brings me to the other night. My wife left to help a family member who needed some help, which we all know is code for “Mario Kart Tournament.” She gave the kids hugs and kisses, and then turned to me and said, “Good luck.” Then she let out a loud laugh as she sneaked out the back door.

I turned to my daughters and noticed my youngest was missing.

“Where did she go?”

Then I heard a noise come from the dining room. She had pulled a box of crayons off the table and dumped them all over the floor. I started cleaning them up when she disappeared. Two seconds later I heard a noise come from the living room. She knocked over the toy bin. I moved my way in when I heard a noise from the kitchen. She somehow managed to reach a roll of tape that was placed on the counter—so far back on the counter that even I have trouble reaching it—and managed to unravel it and get tape on everything in sight. When I finally started removing the tape, I saw her trying to call someone on my phone. When I started apologizing to Time Warner Cable and explained that my daughter dialed them by mistake, another noise came from the dining room: She had knocked over the crayons again!

Keep in mind, at this point my wife had only been gone for about 4 minutes.

This game continued for the next 3 hours. Before I’d finished cleaning up a mess, she’d make another one. My older two girls even offered to help by watching my 1,000-handed toddler. It was the sweetest gesture in the world! It also lasted an amazing seventeen seconds before they abandoned this operation for something much, much more important: Bubble Guppies.

By the time my wife returned home, I was beat. The house was a wreck. I was sprawled out on the floor, all three kids sitting on top of me as if I were awkwardly-shaped couch.

“What happened in here?” she asked.

“Well, I turned away for TWO SECONDS and the house exploded.”

“I guess that means you didn’t have time to do the dishes?”

“That’s the one thing our 1,000-handed toddler didn’t touch.”

While I know this is just a phase, it’s an exhausting phase. It’s one that ends in chipped picture frames and broken bobbleheads and, occasionally, someone needing an ice pack. I’m sure one day I’ll miss her toddler hands and having to chase her around our house, but right now I don’t have time to do it. I’m too busy wondering what that noise was in the other room.

OMG—It’s the crayons again! I turn away for TWO SECONDS ...

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

* Subscribe to The Life of Dad via email or RSS feed!  
* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things. 

January 4, 2013

My Big Announcement - Oh Boy!

For those of you following my blog, you know from my Year of Amazing post that I set several goals for myself last year (if you missed it, check it out here). All were important to me, but the most challenging goal I set was to “pitch a Life of Dad book to agents and put myself out there.” It’s something I always claimed I would do, but made excuses as to why I couldn’t. Top excuses included “I’m too tired from taking care of the kids” to “There’s yard work to be done” to “Who’s Harry Crumb? is on TV? My wife would be crushed if I didn’t watch it—after all, she’s a big fan of viewing movies with me while I simultaneously recite each line of hilarious dialogue. (I think this may be a huge turn on for her.)”

After facing a challenging year of losing my Dad and losing my sister-in-law, I decided my excuses had to go. I ignored yard work (which my wife loved) and packed my Who’s Harry Crumb DVD away (which she actually loved). I stayed up late at night. I wrote. I worked. I (occasionally) slept. I put my heart and soul into developing an idea, which developed into a pitch, which developed into a full-out proposal, which developed into landing a literary agent, which developed into getting offered a book deal, which developed into writing a full-out manuscript—and working through the entire creative publishing process—which developed into this moment.

I am so humbled and excited to officially announce that in April 2013 one of my biggest dreams will come true, as Adams Media releases my first book OH BOY, YOU'RE HAVING A GIRL: A DAD'S SURVIVAL GUIDE TO RAISING DAUGHTERS.

The book has already received praise from my all-time writing idol, Dave Barry ("As the father of a daughter, I wish I'd read this very funny book sooner, if only to know that it's OK for a grown man to wear a tutu.")—which I still can’t believe—as well as several other humor writers whom I deeply admire. The shock of this all coming together and the sense of accomplishment still hasn’t worn off—and may never wear off. Hell, I’ll consider myself lucky if it doesn’t.

So if you’ve ever enjoyed this blog or have a daughter or are having a daughter or know someone who is having a daughter or are married to a guy who can’t believe he has a daughter or just want a reason to smile, I ask that you consider purchasing this book (you can preorder it now through Amazon or Barnes & Noble, which is my favorite store of all time!). It's written for both Dads and Moms to enjoy. You'll notice there's a new "PREORDER BRIAN'S BOOK" tab at the top of the blog. I’ll be spending a lot of time over the next year marketing the hell out of the book (I apologize up front for that), but I just want the thing to sell well enough so they continue to let me write more books.

Finally, from the bottom of my heart, thank you to every one of you who has ever laid eyeballs on this blog and supported my writing. If it weren’t for you guys, I wouldn’t have had the faith and courage to put myself out there and reach for my dream. I am, and always will be, forever grateful to you for that.

I’d like to leave you with this extremely profound quote from an incredibly wise gentleman, which sums up not only this past year, but the coming year as well:
You know Nikki, you and I are a lot alike. We're both traveling through life... [He presses the brake pedal and nothing happens] ... IN A CAR WITH NO BRAKES!” Harry Crumb
Happy New Year everyone.

* Subscribe to The Life of Dad via email or RSS feed!  
* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things.