November 26, 2013

12 Things I'm Thankful For

With Thanksgiving here, I asked my daughters what they were most thankful for. My eldest daughter said "Family," a wise decision by someone who was plotting her way to negotiate a second piece of chocolate from the after-dinner candy bowl. My middle daughter said "light," another good choice because without it we'd have to play on the iPad in the dark—and that's just barbaric! And my youngest daughter, who is a mature 2 ½ years old, said she is most thankful for "Farts."

(Though I'm unclear if she meant her own or others'.)

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. My wife and kids are healthy. I had my first book published and it's selling amazingly well. I rubbed elbows with Nick Clooney, father of George Clooney, which means George and I are practically BFFs now. I moved into a new wonderful house after saying goodbye to an old wonderful house. Really, I'm not short on things to be thankful for.

So I've made a list. I want something to help me remember all these wonderful things, that way the next time my daughters are in the car screaming at each other at the top of their lungs over who gets to use the pink Magna Doodle and who gets "stuck" with the brown one, I can reference my list, smile and know that life is too good for me to pull over and leave them on the side of the road.

Here's what I'm thankful for:

I'm thankful for the "like" button on Facebook. Without it, I'm unsure how I would ever be able to judge my self worth.

I am thankful for walk-in closets. They provide ample room to camouflage this giant body during epic games of hide and seek.

I am thankful for Christmas music in August. How else would I know that Christmas is only 4 months away!

I am thankful for church. I mean, if God can't keep my kids quiet for an hour, what hope do I have?

I am thankful for eggnog breath. When my wife is out of line, I have very few resources to punish her. But thanks to two glorious months around the holidays, her unfathomable dislike of eggnog and three daughters who absolutely LOVE eggnog, I can keep her in check.

I am thankful for having a first name that is easy to spell correctly because, apparently, my last name is impossible to spell correctly. It's true. Just ask anyone who's ever sent me junk mail. (And they wonder why I never respond to their free-trails.)

I am thankful for naptime. This needs no explanation.

I am thankful for Movember. Prostate Cancer is a serious thing and we need to find a cure. Also, it gives me an excuse to do this.

I am thankful for Candy Crush. Without it, I'm not sure what my wife would do with all her free time. (Perhaps she could learn to acquire a taste for eggnog?)

I am thankful for Advil, which helps relieve the back pain from trying to hold kids over public restroom toilets without letting any part of them actually touch public restroom toilets.

I am thankful for my family and friends. From my wife to my kids to my mom to my grandparents to my sister (and her family) to my in-laws (and their families) to my aunts, uncles, cousins, friends from grade school, high school, college, Chicago and more—you all left 5-Star reviews of my book Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl on Amazon, right? Right? If not, you're all dead to me.

And finally …

I'm thankful for you, the reader, and the generous time you spend reading my blog. Whether you're reading it at home, at work, or in the bathroom, or if you just leave it open in your browser all the time to hide all the porn from your spouse, know that I am forever grateful that you turn to this site for a few laughs.  

Happy Thanksgiving. 

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

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November 12, 2013

Packing a Suitcase and the Car: A Dad’s Epic Journey

When it comes to family vacations, Dads are only in charge of packing two things: their own suitcases and the car. Sure, we offer to pack for our wives—quite the kind gesture, if I do say so myself—though time and time again our wives politely decline, claiming that if we were allowed to pack for them they’d arrive at their vacation destination with nothing but lingerie and a box of Combos. They make this ill-advised assumption without taking into consideration the fact that Combos are delicious.

Super delicious.

We also altruistically offer to pack for the kids, but that gets shot down too. I’m unclear why this gets such an emphatic NO! from our wives, but I can only assume it’s because our wives are thoughtful and know how exhausted we are from a long day of debating which wide receiver to pick up off the free agent wire in our fantasy football league. I’m sure our wives are also confident that this is the year our team, Men at Twerk, will break that streak of 17 consecutive losing seasons and, quite possibly, finish at .500. (Talk about a Cinderella story!)

So, like all dads, when we recently started getting ready for our trip to Disney, I focused all my non-fantasy football league energy toward packing my suitcase and packing the car. With our trip only days away, my wife gave me a deadline to have my bag packed and ready to go.

“No problem,” I said, as I meticulously piled undershirts, underwear, socks, shirts and shorts on the bed in neat little rows—a long way removed from my college days where I grabbed a pile of clothes from my (kind of) clean laundry basket and shoved it in my bookbag, hoping that there were at least one pair of boxers and one t-shirt (bonus points if it was my awesome Blink-182 concert-Tee1).

I was taking this trip seriously, letting my wife know I was grown up and could handle the responsibility of packing appropriate clothes for our trip. I left my Reds jerseys behind in favor of stain-free shirts that would not only be comfortable, but would look nice in family photos with Mickey, Minnie and Donald. I scrapped the athletic shorts and opted for cargos, allowing for enough pocket space to store tissues, sunscreen, Advil and all the other necessities of a trip to Disney. I even packed two spare pairs of undergarments “just in case.” That’s right, I’m now a prepared “just in case” guy, ready to handle any spills or unexpected kid vomit tossed my way. I spent at least two hours debating through clothes and packing what I believe most would call The Perfect Suitcase.2 And it was zipped up and ready to go, sitting right by the dresser with three days to spare before our departure.

Next job was to pack up the car. Packing a car is an underappreciated art-form, and only celebrated by Dads who recognize how difficult it is to pack everything you own except for the microwave—and believe me, when you have kids, your wife will pack everything you own except for the microwave—into the trunk of a car. Thankfully I have the luxury of owning a minivan, which means my wife also packs the microwave.

This is where all those years of playing Tetris (and your arthritic Nintendo thumb) finally pay off, as you maneuver piece of luggage in between piece of luggage, squeezing snack bags and DVD bags and potty seats all around, piecing it all together until you can push down the trunk door and it goes click. Ah, that sweet click. That sound signifies a masterful accomplishment, one that you will revel in as you recall every teacher who ever said “Frankly, Mr. Klems, video games are a complete waste of your time.” (Ah Mr. Miller, how wrong you were.)

My wife, impressed for the first time in our 8-year marriage, showed her heartfelt appreciation through her words:

“If you forgot something, you’re a dead man.”

“I love you too.”

For the 15-hour drive to Disney, I was proud of myself. Sure, we didn’t pack as many Combos as I would have liked and Men at Twerk were on the verge of another mid-season meltdown, but my suitcase was packed and the car was skillfully loaded—all thanks to me. With so much stress before any major trip, it’s important as a husband (and a Dad) to take care of everything your wife asks. If you can alleviate a little stress, even if it’s simply by taking care of yourself, then you should do it. And when you arrive at your destination, the stress will be over and the fun part begins.

Unless, of course, you arrive at your destination that’s 15 hours away from home and realize something is missing in the trunk of your car. And that something is this:

The Perfect Suitcase. Zipped up and ready to go. Sitting right by the dresser. 3

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1 Unless, of course, the road trip was to see a Blink-182 concert. Rock-show etiquette clearly states that you can’t wear a concert-Tee of the band that you are going to see. If you do, everyone else there will consider you a total loser. EXCEPTION: Rick Springfield Tees at Rick Springfield concerts. (If this is you, clearly being judged is the least of your concerns.)
2 Oooooh … sounds like a potential name of next year’s sub-.500 fantasy football team!
3 The Grant Street Target in Orlando is now $150 richer.

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.