Catch the Wind

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After the kids ate all of the tiny chocolate pieces out of our trail mix, my wife declared that she had no reason to live. It may seem melodramatic to an outsider, but you have to understand we’d been in the car for a total of 67 hours at this point. Our kids had spent 65 of those collective hours singing made up songs about pooping on each other. Sometimes they sang songs about the imaginary squirrels and mice that live in my daughter’s head. But mostly it was about pooping on each other. Toots and the McGoots’ next album is going to be dark.

Just a few minutes prior to the trail mix incident, we watched two seriously cute chipmunks frolic in harmony at a rest stop, only to turn on each other over a leftover Cheez-It. They battled it out Thunderdome style.  We were beginning to turn on each other in much the same way when my wife noticed the lack of chocolate in the trail mix. She only buys the trail mix so she can eat the M&Ms. Her theory is, if the M&M’s hang out in the same bag as nuts and raisins, they become healthy too. Good by association. I’ve learned not to question her leaps of logic.

So it was looking dire in our minivan stuffed with over-priced inner tubes, a cooler with melted ice and questionable yogurt products. The landscape was classic Southern Utah—sand, scrub brush and the occasional mirage. It was the perfect place to bury a body. Not that any of us were thinking that.

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But then the scenery changed and great spires of colorful rock popped out of that depressing sand. My wife rolled down the windows and cranked Drivin’ n Cryin’ and suddenly, all was well. A happy family of mini-van gypsies cruising toward their next adventure, singing “catch the wind.”

Does this meatball make my head look tiny?

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Going Pro

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The first leg of our trip was in Boulder, where everyone commutes by longboard and adults lay in the grass and read books by the river on a Tuesday. The highlights play out like this: we saw a vegetarian stuff himself into a box, took a couple of runs through the campus of my alma mater (go Buffs!), ate at the same crappy Chinese place that I used to eat at daily while I was in graduate school (a big shout out to Tra Ling’s, where the food comes by the scoop, and the scoops are only a dollar), scrambled to the top of Red Rocks using a climbing technique I call, “shit, I hope this works.”

From there, we were lucky enough to hit Vail just in time to catch a piece of the Go Pro Mountain Games. If you’re not familiar with this festival, just imagine every Abercrombie and Fitch model descending upon one of the most expensive towns in America to compete in professional mountain sports like kayaking, slack lining, and mountain biking. It’s intense. Lots of people with tattoos who are “spiritual, but not religious.” Our minivan was the only vehicle that didn’t have a kayak on top.

We got to watch a bit of the kayaking action and a little bit of the slacklining. We ate PBJ’s while watching a couple hundred people do a massive yoga class in the middle of the village. They were all very bendy.

After stuffing our backpacks with free samples of beef jerky and organic energy drinks, the kids were psyched to try ziplining for the first time, climb the fake rock wall, and ride the gondola to the top of the mountain where we had a mid-June snowball fight. After pushing our kids beyond the point of exhaustion, we averted a massive tantrum at 10,000 feet above sea level by plying them with M&M’s. It’s comforting to know that even in strange locals, where social status depends largely on body mass index, old tricks still work. My kids will do anything if there’s the promise of hard chocolate on the other end of the deal.

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Six Signs You’ve Been Spending Too Much Time With Your Kids

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As parents, we consistently struggle to spend quality time with our offspring, but is there such a thing as too much quality time with your kids? With all due respect to the attachment parenting aficionados out there, hell yes. If you’re a stay at home mom or dad, you’re often spending 24 hours a day, seven days a week with your kid. I like my kids, but I also like riding bikes and having sex, and I wouldn’t want to do either of those things every single day all the damned time. My God, think of the chafing.

And that’s really what we’re talking about here, “parental chafing”. When you spend hour after hour with your kids, your patience gets thinner, your temper gets shorter, and your outbursts grow more frequent. You’re emotionally and psychologically “chafed,” so every little thing (fixing dinner, giving tubbies, mediating a property dispute between the kids) becomes as annoying as a marathoner’s sore nipples.

The trick, is to catch yourself before you go over the deep end become that mom from Mommy Dearest, or any Dad from the ‘50s. So, here are five signs you’ve been spending too much time with your kids. If you recognize any two of these signs, fly to Vegas without your children immediately.

1)   You have a temporary tattoo on your arm that says “I Heart Ballet,” even though you do not heart ballet. It will last for the next seven days.

2)   Your diet consists solely of tube yogurt and string cheese. Actually, anything shaped like a penis. Mini carrots. Hot dogs. Is anyone else suddenly concerned by the phallic nature of kid-friendly foods?

3)   When you’re in bed with your significant other, and things get heated, you accidentally recite the theme song to Doc McStuffins: “It’s OK if you giggle, this will only tickle a little.”

4)   Taking the trash to the curb while drinking a beer feels like a night out.

5)   You’re covered in glitter, but you have absolutely no recollection of how it got there. Like you’ve been roofied by fairies.

6) You’ve started prescribing “Time Outs” left and right, mostly for incidental infractions like “using too many conjunctions in a single sentence,” because the only peace and quiet you get is when your child is being punished in his/her room.

Drinking Games

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Anyone interested in the secret to happiness? Follow the link below to my new blog at Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine, where I discuss that beautiful intersection between booze and outdoor adventure. This week, I detail the recipe for true happiness (hint: the recipe includes six beers and one bicycle). Next week, I might talk about making bloody mary’s while backpacking, or doing a keg stand between laps at a mountain bike race, or doing a pub crawl on a standup paddle board, or…you get the picture. Adventure+booze=awesome. 

Check out this week’s goodness here. But don’t forget to keep checking back at Daddy Drinks, where I continue to discuss that even more precarious intersection where booze and parenthood meet. Booze+parenthood=judgmental glances from the other parents at the park. 

 

Grocery List

What are my thoughts on “The Greatest Generation”? (Hint: It involves their tendency to use profanity in public). How is the grocery store a lot like a strip club? Will I be arrested for dishing parenting advice like “make your kids run hill repeats before taking them out in public.”?

Find out the answers to all these questions by reading my latest blog at Breathe Magazine! 

 

 

 

 

Inappropriate Use of the Bjorn; Things you shouldn’t do with your baby strapped to your chest

Once you get used to having your baby strapped to your chest like a kangaroo, you’ll fall in love with the freedom that comes with hands-free parenting. (New marketing slogan for Baby Bjorn: Baby Bjorn, it’s like Bluetooth for your baby). Soon, you’ll begin to wonder if there’s anything you can’t do with your baby in a chest carrier. The answer is yes. There are things you can’t, or shouldn’t, do. Here are four.

First Person Shooter Games

Playing Wii tennis with a baby in the Bjorn: Cute.

Playing Call of Duty with the baby in the Bjorn: call social services.

Know the line and never cross it.

Downhill Skiing

This might sound like a no-brainer to most of you, but I actually had visions of skiing with my kid strapped to my chest. What’s even more disturbing, I’ve seen videos of other parents doing this very thing. The same rules apply for roller blading, ice skating, mountain biking…I think you could get away with nine holes of golf without doing any permanent damage though.

Cook Over an Open Flame

Okay, I’ve done this. A lot. And it can be a bit of a gray area. I’d say if you’re working with a charcoal grill, you’re relatively safe. But anything with compressed gas is questionable. Considering the number of times I’ve almost blown myself up trying to light my damn grill, it’s amazing my kids have lived to the ripe age of 2.5.

Flirt With a Woman Who’s Not Your Wife

Not even if the kid on your chest is sleeping. Have some class. Put the kid in his stroller and pull the sun shade down before you hit on the lonely stay-at-home mom at the playground.

 

Five Things That Aren’t Awesome About Parenthood

Parenthood is magical, there’s no doubt about that. Sometimes, though, it’s more black magic than “kiss the frog” magic. Luckily, 87 percent of the time, being a dad is awesome. Here are a few things that inform that other 13 percent.

  1. Scraping poop out of big boy underwear…three times a day.
  2. The nasty looks that other parents at Mighty Might Gymnastics give you when your kid coughs on their kid. In my defense: I don’t care if my kid is patient zero with a wicked strain of chipmunk flu. We’re getting out of the house today!
  3. Fishing random objects out of the toilet with chopsticks. (Sidenote: chopsticks make excellent retrievers of floating cars, candy wrappers, credit cards…all the little things that end up in the toilet.)
  4. Suspecting your kid loves iPhone “Paint Sparkles” more than you.
  5. The constant fear that your two-year-old daughter is going to ask the waiter if he has a penis.

Injury Free Work Days: 0

Can we get through a single day without one of my kids throwing a toy truck at the other one? It’s amazing what my kids can turn into a weapon. You’d think a bubble maker would be pretty benign, but if I leave the kids alone on the porch with a small bubble maker, one of them will get water-boarded by the other. And my daughter thinks the only way her fairy princess wand will work is if she puts her entire body behind it. She’s like a ninja with that thing.

It reminds me of the intense “Chinese throwing star and nunchucks” phase I went through as a kid. I have no idea why my mother thought it would be a good idea to let a 10 year old have half a dozen pointy metal discs forged with the singular purpose of killing people from a distance. I didn’t question her decision at the time, but now that I have kids of my own, I’m a little suspect. Of course, this was before safety was a real concern. Apparently, kids raised in previous decades never got hurt. How else can you explain our lack of bicycle helmets and seat belts? And yet most of us survived somehow. It was probably all the hairspray we used back then. All that puffy, crusty hair was like walking around with an airbag on your head.

Looking back, it seems a little strange to go through a “throwing star” phase. I can’t imagine my kids getting into that sort of thing. But all Southern boys growing up in the ‘80s went through this phase. Like every other kid I knew, I spent a lot of time in the knife shop while my mom browsed the consignment store next door. It was inevitable that I’d come out of that shop with something sharp I could throw at other people.

Basically, childhood for me was just a series of weapons-based phases. A few other notable phases: bow and arrow phase. Homemade slingshot phase. Poison dart gun phase. Throwing pinecones at other people’s faces phase. Booby trap phase. The list goes on. It’s the result of the laissez faire parenting techniques of the time. A lot of people look back on the fact that our parents simply opened their back doors and made us go play outside as a sort of idyllic period in history. In a lot of ways it was—Last Child in the Woods and all that crap—but the truth is, we just spent most of that outside time trying to figure out different ways to maim each other with the tools at hand. We didn’t want to kill anyone, but if we could cause serious injury without getting into trouble, then we were game.

So maybe a nation full of video game children isn’t so bad after all. The first person shooter games may be disturbing, but at least they’re not literally playing war like we did, fastening makeshift bayonets to our toy guns and loading our backpacks with grenades (heavy rocks). You don’t know darkness until you trap your best friend in a ditch and pepper him with rocks and pinecones. But we weren’t fat, so we had that going for us.

Lucky Bums: Baby stuff for dudes with babies.

If you’re looking for some really cool last minute Christmas ideas, check out Lucky Bums. It’s outdoor gear for kids. No diaper bags here, but you’ll find vintage sleds, kids-sized sleeping bags, fishing vests, skis and snowboards. Basically, all the stuff you need to help get your kids outside and doing all the stuff we wish we did when we were kids. Personally, I regret all those hours I spent watching Brady Bunch reruns after school. I got the kids sets of toddler skis in hopes that this winter, they’ll take their first turns. We’ll see how that little experiment goes. Check out the site and see if there’s anything that inspires an experiment of your own.