I Got 99 Problems…

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So I’m wrestling two ridiculous problems right now. I have my share of normal problems like deadlines and a conspicuous lack of funds in my bank account and a piss-poor mile PR and absolutely nothing to cook for dinner that my kids will eat, but the two problems that are currently demanding a lot of time and energy on my part are absolutely, utterly ridiculous.

Problem Number 1: There are zombies in the toilet.

At least, that’s what my daughter thinks. So she’s too scared to go to the bathroom alone. Instead, she forces me, or her mom or her brother, to come into the bathroom and watch her. “Because if you don’t come with me, the zombies will crawl out of the toilet and bite me.”

Obviously, this problem is a holdover from Halloween.

I’ve tried using adult logic (“but, zombies aren’t real”) and I’ve tried using kid logic (“but, I used the special zombie cleaner when I scrubbed your toilet this week”) but nothing works. So going to the bathroom is now a group activity. Awesome.

Problem Number 2: We’ve lost our Elf on the Shelf.

We moved. Apparently, our Elf didn’t move with us. At first glance, this seems like an easy problem to fix. Go buy a new Elf on the Shelf. The kids will never know the difference, right? That’s what I thought, too. The problem is, our original Elf on the Shelf was one of the Vaguely Ethnic Elves. He’s not black, but he’s not white. He could be Hispanic or maybe Middle Eastern or even Asian. I don’t know, I feel uncomfortable even trying to guess at the Elf’s ethnicity.

The point is, he’s definitely more tan than the standard Elf on the Shelf, which is great. We follow a strict “White Man’s Guilt” approach to race issues in our house, meaning we ignore race altogether. I’d like to say we originally purchased the Vaguely Ethnic Elf to teach our kids a lesson about race, but the fact is, I picked up the first Elf I saw in the store two years ago without realizing it was Vaguely Ethnic and then my wife and I debated for five minutes in the store about whether or not putting Vaguely Ethnic Elf back and getting White Elf would be racist. Then we felt racist and guilty just because we actually thought about putting the Vaguely Ethnic Elf back on the shelf…

So we have…nay…had a Vaguely Ethnic Elf on the Shelf, and we spent the last two years ignoring his race and all was right in the world. The problem is, I go to the store to replace this Elf and all I can find in the God damn store is White Elf. Boxes and boxes of White Elf. There’s a Girl Elf now, which is awesome, bully for women’s elf rights, but my kids are expecting a super tan elf to show up and judge their actions for the next 20 some odd days. Not a Girl Elf and not a White Elf.

Or maybe not? Maybe our kids never noticed their Elf was Vaguely Ethnic? Maybe our complete ignorance of race has worked and now our kids literally don’t see color? Or shit, maybe that means they’re even more racist because they can’t see the beauty and differences of different ethnicities. Jesus Christ. There should be a manual.

Meanwhile, I’m wandering around the store looking in every aisle for a Vaguely Ethnic Elf because I don’t want to ask the store clerk if they carry an Elf that’s, “you know, darker than this elf?”

Like I said, I’ve got plenty of problems right now, but the ones I’m mostly concerned with are utterly ridiculous.

 

 

 

 

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My Intentions With This Ladle Are Pure and Wholesome

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I got a new ladle at Ikea this past weekend, and I’m psyched out of my mind to use it tonight. Like, really really excited. I’ve been searching for the right soup recipe all day to break in this beautiful ladle. Maybe a shrimp bisque, or a watermelon gazpacho. I don’t know. Maybe I won’t make a soup at all. Maybe I’ll do a chili!

I’m giddy with the prospects.

Yep. Really excited about that ladle.

Is that sad? I can tell you think it’s sad. On the one hand, it’s just a big ass spoon. I shouldn’t get too worked up over something that simply transfers soup from a pot to a bowl. A soup transferring device, if you will. It’s not like we’re talking about a new puppy.

But it’s so shiny. And really solid. There are some kitchen utensils that are so heavy and sturdy, you just know you’ll be able to count on them for years to come. That’s how solid this ladle is. It’s heavy…like a weapon. If an intruder tries to break into our house, I could use this ladle to defend my family. That’s how solid it is.

But be honest with me, you think I’m pathetic, don’t you?

It’s not like I’m having dreams about the ladle. We’re not in a relationship. That would be silly. It’s a spoon and I’m a man. How would that even work?

And yet, I can sense you judging me as I write this. Maybe if you knew how flimsy my previous ladle was, you’d understand my enthusiasm. Listen, this thing could barely hold a half cup of chowder. And forget about a hearty stew—it couldn’t support the girth of meat and potatoes. Stupid, flimsy ladle.

And did you ever think that maybe I’ve reached some sort of weird “stay at home” Zen state of being, where I can finally appreciate the simple pleasures in life, like a big ass shiny spoon, or 10 minutes of not talking? Maybe my ladle infatuation is a sign that I’ve reached a higher level of spiritual awareness, and everyone else is pathetic.

Chew on that, Judgy McJudgerson.

No, you’re right, it’s sad. I need a hobby. In the meantime, hit me up with good soup recipes.

 

 

I Love You When You’re Fat or Welcome Home Daddy

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As a kid, I remember waiting for my dad to get home from work every afternoon. This was back when people used to get home from work at 5:30 like clockwork. Actually, shit, this was back when people used to have real jobs instead of just running boutique letterpress studios out of their basement, or quilting, or handing out business cards that say “Project Manager.”

Anyway, I’d sit by the kitchen window and watch for his car to pull up, then run as fast as I could out to the driveway to give him a hug.

It’s not often that I “go to work.” Usually, I just sit at the kitchen table trying to ignore the chaos that erupts from two five year olds with little parental supervision. Sometimes they play cards quietly. Sometimes they try to figure out what will happen if they put action figures in the toaster. Often, they do “parkour” in the living room, performing somersaults over the cat.

In other words, shit gets crazy. When it gets really crazy, I retreat to a coffee shop and leave the kids with my wife or a baby sitter or some random lady that I find walking by the house who’s willing to watch the kids in exchange for free wifi and all the microwavable popcorn she can eat.

Working in coffee shops has a couple of advantages. 1) I live in a weird town and weird people congregate in coffee shops in the middle of the day. So I get to watch old ladies in ornate, peacock-inspired hats look at vampire porn magazines Seriously. I see this lady at the coffee shop all the time. She’s like 80. Loves vampire porn. And peacock hats 2) I get to pretend like I’m a dad from the ‘80s who goes to work and comes home to a loving family. Punching the time clock. Contributing to the gross national product. Working towards my pension. That’s me.

Occasionally my kids will run out to greet me in the front yard, just like I did to my dad as a kid. It’s a big thrill, and it makes all the hours toiling away trying to think of synonyms for “velvety” worth it.

Anyway, one night recently I get home from “work,” and my daughter runs out to me and gives me a big hug, then pulls back, looks me over, and says, “daddy.”

I say, “Yes, honey?”

And she says, “I love you when you’re fat.”

And I say, “What do you mean, honey?”

And she says, “I like it when you’re skinny here (pointing to my shoulders and chest) and fat right here (point to my belly).”

Okay. So much for the loving family. I didn’t take it too hard though, mainly because my daughter is bat shit crazy. Two seconds later, she finished the conversation with this gem: “Also, my body is like a video game. When it goes like this, ‘beep,’ that means I won.”

Then she ran off to play with her brother. Occasionally I’d hear her beep from the playroom. I guess that means she won.

Welcome home, daddy.

Things I Said To My Kids Today

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One of the best aspects of being a stay at home dad, is that there’s plenty of time to have really deep conversations with my children. Having a conversation with an adult is okay, but having a conversation with two five year olds can be mind-blowing. You dig into all kinds of territory—houses made out of fruit, Baby Jesus’ texting habits, the various things you can and can not lick in life.

Here are five things I said to my kids today. Long live conversations with five year olds.

1)   No, buddy, we’re not going to have a birthday party for the iPad. The iPad isn’t a person. It doesn’t have a birthday.

2)   Don’t lick your sister.

3)   I like tiny crackers more than big crackers too. They make me feel like a giant.

4)   I think it would be fun to live in a house made of watermelon for a day, but after that, it would just be really sticky all the time.

5)   That’s really sweet honey, but it might be hard to send Baby Jesus a text message. I don’t think he has an iPhone.

 

The Twirl Factor (and other things I know nothing about)

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It’s safe to say I had no idea what I was doing as a parent when the kids were born. Changing diapers, burping, feeding them, even holding them was completely foreign to me. I’m happy to say that five years later, I still don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. You would think that after being a stay at home dad for almost three years, I’d have this parenting thing on auto pilot, but my kids still throw me curveballs on a daily basis.

For instance, at this point in my parenting career, I should know that it’s going to take my daughter 45 minutes to get dressed in the morning because she has to test out the “twirl factor” of each dress in her closet before deciding what to wear. Yeah. “Twirl factor.” Apparently, she has a closet full of dresses that are low on the ITS (International Twirl Scale). “Skinny dresses don’t twirl,” she says. “I don’t have any dresses that twirl,” she says.

And you’d think by now, I’d be prepared for unprompted tantrums of all kind. When one of my kids throws a fit because I won’t let him have marshmallow Peeps for breakfast, I’m prepared for the backlash. But when my kid loses his shit because I tell him that, no, he didn’t invent the game of “punch buggy,” that people have been hitting each other whenever they see Volkswagen Bugs since Biblical Times, I’m caught off guard. Why would he scream his head off and throw his shoes against the window because he didn’t invent Punch Buggy? Why, lord, why?

And why does it surprise me when my kids aren’t perfect 24 hours a day? Am I too much of an optimist? Or too naive? Or just an idiot? Maybe it’s a little of all three.

There are good surprises too. The other night at dinner, my daughter said, “I love chicken nuggets,” and then I said, “then why don’t you marry them,” and they both fell out of their chairs laughing, like it was the first time they heard that joke. Because it was the first time they heard that joke. How amazing is that? I had no idea that being a parent would allow me to recycle tired jokes from my childhood, so I guess it all evens out in the end.

 

 

5 Reasons Why Daddy Drinks Went MIA

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You’ve probably noticed a slight gap in my posting schedule for this blog. Like, a two month gap. There are several reasons why a person who blogs about the shenanigans that ensue when a man-child is put in charge of real children on a daily basis. Here are the Top 5 Reasons Why Daddy Drinks Went MIA.

1)   Coma: After an innocent pillow fight turned tragic, I fell into a coma for the last two months. Don’t feel sorry for me—I spent the time dreaming that I was the seventh cast member of Friends. It was lovely.

2)   Sugar Crash: During the holidays, the kids lived entirely on candy and hot chocolate. Since January 1st, I’ve spent 18 hours a day mitigating the massive withdrawal symptoms that occur when you force two five-year-olds to quit sugar cold turkey. It hasn’t been pretty.

3)   Lego Bender: The kids got so many Lego sets for Christmas, I’ve been hold up in the basement for the last two months putting together multi-colored block cafes, fire trucks, and helicopters. I didn’t even break for the Olympics. I drank protein shakes and wore a catheter. As soon as I’d finish a model, my son would begin deconstructing it. It was like some weird, tragic performance art.

4)   Work: I took a job as the Drink editor for Paste Magazine and liquor and beer started showing up on my doorstep at an alarming rate. At the same time, I put up a zip line in the backyard for the kids. Booze and zip lining don’t mix. See reason 1) Coma, above.

5)   It was ski season.

6)   Bonus Reason: Shit hit the fan after I bought my wife a vacuum for Christmas. At first, she was all like, “oh, honey, I love it!” But then she casually started telling me about all the great gifts her other friends got from their husbands for Christmas (“did you Tim gave Julie a necklace? Isn’t that wild?”) then started vacuuming up various personal items of mine. I just now pulled all my computer keys from the vacuum bag.

You choose the reason for my absence. Believe what you want. The important thing is, Daddy Drinks is back—“Daddier” and “Drinkier” than ever. I’ll catch you up on what’s happened in the last two months in the next post. Hint: there is a zip line involved, and the tooth fairy, and booze.

The Great Christmas Vacuum, Charlie Brown

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Okay, I’m going to ask your advice, Daddy Drinks readers, and I’m hoping you can steer me down the right path like the North Star steered the Three Wise Men so long ago.

I’m on the verge of buying my wife a new vacuum cleaner for Christmas. My question is, will this purchase secure my place on the long list of clueless husbands who got their wives terrible, thoughtless Christmas presents, or will I be celebrated across the land for choosing such a practical gift that puts a premium on household cleanliness?

I can remember my own father’s foray into really thoughtless gifts. Tires for the car. Speakers for the Hi-Fi. I think he gave my mom a chainsaw once. Am I doomed to repeat this terrible gift cycle?

Sidenote: The kids have spent the last week “practicing” for Christmas. They go around the house wrapping random shit up and giving it to each other. Remote controls, forks, pillows. It’s cute as hell. 

Now wait, before you answer, you should know that I do all of the vacuuming, so technically, the vacuum would be for me. So, I guess the real present for my wife here would be well-vacuumed floors, but that’s hard to wrap, so I’ll give her the vacuum and tell her that her that the vacuum represents well-vacuumed floors. No, an entire year of well-vacuumed floors. How about that? Maybe I’ll even write a cute card that puts the notion of clean floors into a sonnet. What rhymes with vacuum?

Does that information make the vacuum a better present for my wife, or a worse present?

I know, it’s a tough call. There’s no easy answer here. Let’s do a quick pro/con list to get to the bottom of this predicament.

Con: The Vacuum is a Bad Present For My Wife and I am an Idiot

1)   It looks nothing like the black boots or jewelry that my wife has asked for.

2)   Let’s be honest, even with a state of the art vacuum, the house will still be a wreck when my wife gets home from work because I have two 4-year-olds who behave like chimpanzees and literally throw banana peels on the floor.

Pro: The Vacuum is a Great Present and I am a Great Husband

1)   It’s a really sexy looking vacuum. It’s really more of a race car than a vacuum. I think it even has Bluetooth. (Scary thought: is this what stay at home dads buy when they suffer from a mid life crisis? Expensive, European vacuums that they don’t need?)

2)   Christmas is suffering from all the commercialism that surrounds it and what we need to give each other is genuine experiences and good will. Giving my wife a floor free of dog hair and banana peels is the closest my we’ll ever come to finding world peace. How can I deny her world peace?

Shit. It’s a tie. Help me Daddy Drinks readers. Help me.