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The Real Good Luck Charlie, Chapter 2: Parenting 101

18 Sep

So Charlie, here we are, 1 month from when you have been scheduled to make an appearance.  If you are anything like your sister and brother, you will be a bit early.  This is also the LAST time you will ever be a bit early (again, if you are anything like you sister and brother).  We’ve been real busy getting to this point.  We’ve been organizing, cleaning, washing, installing, and putting things together all in preparation for your arrival.  We also took a birthing class at the hospital.  We did this with your sister 14 years ago, don’t think you’re special.  We do it for all the girls.  We skipped it for the boy.  He was, is, and always will be easier than you two.  About 20 minutes into the class, I had a thought:  What are they actually teaching us?  To tell you the truth, not much.  Rather, they did teach us quite a bit about what to expect during the birthing process.  What they didn’t teach us was ANYTHING about parenting.  Not that the boss or I need any help.  We’ve successfully kept 2 kids alive for 14 and 11 years.  Believe me, that’s no mean feat.  What about the new parents, who don’t have other kids that they figured things out with?  What will they do?  Wing it?  Read stupid books that doesn’t really tell you anything useful?  Probably.  Which led to a second thought:  Could I teach a Parenting 101 class?  Would it be successful?  Would people pay me for the privilege of having the boss and I tell them all the little secrets?

This led me to think about what I would want covered in a Parenting 101 class if there were such a thing.  Here are the basics of what I came up with:

The class would start off with the moms and dads to be in the same room.  We would go over the basics: feeding, diaper changing, clothes changes, what to pack, how to not ever get a mini-van (provided you stay with less than or equal to 3 kids), etc.

Then the men and women would split up.  The men would go with me, the women with your mother.  There the real learning would take place.  The men would learn things like speed diapering, how to hold a beer and feed a baby (and how not to mix them up), clothes wrangling, avoiding getting peed or pooped on, etc.  I guess the women would learn things like how to swaddle, baby powder 101, breast or bottle, couponing while dealing with a fussy baby, etc.

At some point, I suppose the women and men should trade places and go over the same things.

Then we would all come together for a conclusion of some sort, followed by a celebration of some sort.

What do you think?  Do you think people would participate?

As always, Good Luck Charlie, your dad is obviously insane.

The Real Good Luck Charlie

6 Sep

An Introduction, or an Open Letter to Charlotte “Charlie” Ruth:

First:  Nothing

Then:  Blam!  Stars, planets, you know what?  That’s too far back.

Let’s skip ahead:  Dinosaurs, ice age, people, horse and buggy, the automobile, computers, cell phones, 1999.

1999, a year of firsts.  First time your mother and I were married (also the only time).  First year your sister was present on this planet.  No, I’m not sure if she was ever alive elsewhere.  Knowing her, probably.  So mom tells me she’s pregnant.  I flipped my cookies.  We were both in college at the time.  We got an apartment, started working while also going to school (I switched colleges), and got hitched.  Everything was great.

Then 2002 rolled around and your brother was born.  We were still both in school and working AND raising your sister and brother.

Fast forward to 2004, the year we moved to our new house.  We moved in January on the coldest day of the year.  In October of 2004 we got Sally.  You know her.  You know the one whose ears you’re always pulling.  Yes the old one.

We were continuing to be a happy family in our tiny house with our 2 kids and 1 dog.  Then we got Bailey.  Yes, the one who wakes you up from naps with her howling.  That’s mom’s fault.  I didn’t want a beagle.  She did.

Let’s fast forward to 2011.  During the summer of 2011, Mam and Pops decided that our house was too small.  That we needed more space.  We started cleaning EVERYTHING, and throwing away tons of stuff.

Then we started the addition.  We added mom and dad’s bedroom, you and your sister’s bedroom, and redid the whole house.  Don’t you love the kitchen dad built?  Yes, of course you do, it’s awesome.

By this time, your sister was 13, your brother 10.

One night at bedtime, mom slapped me in the chest and says, “Don’t freak out, but I’m pregnant.”  Yeah.  Right.  So I freaked out.  All.  Night.  I didn’t sleep a wink.  I was so worried about what to do.  Eventually, I came to be happy that our family of 4 was to be a family of 5.  Now I’m super excited to meet you and to see what person you will become.

That’s about as far as I can go with this since you’re not yet born.  All I have to say is:  Good Luck Charlie.  You’re going to need it.

So where have we been?

6 Nov

Have we fallen off the side of the Earth? (long-live the flat earth society!)  Did a herd of buffalo’s trample our computers into teeny tiny bits?  Did I just get lazy and say forget this whole blogging thing?

Nope.  None of the above.  We undertook a HUGE project, that looking back was insane, looking forward, totally worth it.  We basically gutted our whole house, put on an addition, and re-did just about everything inside.  Yes, I realize that I should probably have blogged all about the experience along the way.  Let me tell you something:  when you work a full day, then go home and work another 4-8 hours on your house, you’re way too tired to bother blogging.

So let’s play catch-up shall we?

Here’s what we started with:

this is what we were doing to the house:

This is how we did it:


The bathroom and kitchen became the kitchen, the old master bedroom became the kids bath and laundry room.

Framing and roof trusses:

Out with the old, in with the new:

Roof is on:

flooring starts to go in:

siding is up:

I install the kitchen:

drawers and doors:


almost ready for the sink:

now with more sink!

Were there trials and tribulations along the way?  You betcha.  Our electrician was a half-wit.  Our builder was 6 weeks past his deadline.  The floors in the kitchen didn’t match up to the hall, meaning I had to put in a threshold.

Oh, and some drunk did this to my car:

It’s okay, ’cause now I drive this:

Okay, if you’ve stayed with me this long, here comes the cool stuff (to me).

We’re wrapping our kitchen bar 1/2 wall in this:

So what is it you ask?  It’s 150 year old flooring from an old mill.  It’s beautiful, and so totally cool.

In the master bedroom we’re doing wainscoting from 100 year old flooring we got from The Bosses great-aunts house:

So that’s about where we’re at.  After almost a year of cleaning, renovations, building, and cursing our failed electrician, we’re back in business.


This weekend, I learned some things

3 Oct

That’s right.  Things.  Many, many things.  Yes, I will of course tell you all about them.  Let me build this up will you?

Now, where was I?  Ah, yes.  Things.  So in order of their happening, here are the things I learned this weekend:

1.  When my father-in-law and his brother are together eating at Wind Tiki, hilarity ensues.  My father-in-law is usually a pretty funny guy.  Get his brother and a few Mai Tai’s in them and he becomes hilarious.  I think I may have peed my pants.  Just a little.

2.  Installing a new front door is not too difficult.  Removing the old door prior to installing the new?  Not. Fun.  At least I remembered to remove the old one before installing the new one….

3.  Weddings can actually be fun.  After spending the entire morning, and some of the afternoon installing a door, the last thing I wanted to do was go to a wedding that we had RSVP’d to 6 months ago and I had completely forgotten about.  I didn’t even remember what I had put down for my dinner…  Turns out I had the steak.  And what a steak.  Perfectly cooked (rare thank you very much), with garlic mashed potatoes (with a bit of skin in there for good measure and the potatoes actually mashed not whipped).  A couple of Jerry Collins and a beer to round things off, and I was very content.  Getting to spend time with The Bosses family was awesome.  They are good people.  We should get together more often.  I’m not sure if my sides can handle it though.  I was laughing way too much.

4.  This may be the most important lesson I learned this weekend:  CHECK THE WATER DEPTH PRIOR TO DOING AN OTTER SLIDE WITH YOUR KAYAK.  Knowing me, I will have completely forgotten this the next time I try it.  Rather than sliding gracefully into the water and popping back up without getting wet, I torpedo’d.

Instead of doing this:

I did more like this:

Did any of the people I was with happen to get a picture, or even more funny a video?  No.  Of course not.  I guess I really will have to try it again….

Dedicated to Mr. B

24 Aug

This is in response to a comment I made in regards to today’s blog post at Lessons from Teachers and Twits.

I wrote that I had a teacher who pushed me to do my best, and challenged me to go above and beyond.  I also wrote that I had an awesome teacher who let me cheat on my final in freshman English.  I was asked to provide some details, so here they are:

My freshman year of high school I had quite possibly the best English teacher I’ve ever had.  Mr. B wasn’t a great teacher, inspiring me to write, to read, or to actually learn the material.  He was a good teacher.  He was a great drama teacher, a great director of plays, and an all around great guy.  I read some awesome books in his class, and did learn quite a bit, mostly about life rather than about English.  Sure we had to read a bunch, write papers, etc.  I think that’s the basic requirement of English class.  We also had vocabulary tests.  He would give us a list of words from some stupid vocab book and require us to learn each definition and how to use the words in a sentence.  Now, my vocabulary was pretty darn good, but HAVING to learn vocabulary words is BOOOOOOORING!  I hated that part of class.  Let me read a book of my choosing and write a paper on it, I can do all day long.  Make me actually have to learn new words?  Fugetaboutit.

So let’s skip forward to the final.  It’s one of the last days of school and I’m about to head off to camp to work for the summer.  I have visions of white water rafting, waterskiing, boating, etc in my head, not some stupid English test.  Our final consisted of 50 vocabulary words which we had to define and use in a sentence and a couple of essay questions.  What. A. Bore.  At the beginning of the test he asked that we all pass our vocab books up to the front of the class where he would collect them.  My best friend (who of course I sat next to) kept his.  I don’t know why, I don’t think he needed to cheat on this stupid test.  As I recall, he had great grades in English (compared to my solid B-).  I saw the book sitting there between the two of us and grabbed it.  I lift it up, show it to Mr. B, and proceed to open it and copy word-for-word each and every definition / sentence for each word on our final.  He looks up when I show him the book, shrugs, and goes back to doing whatever it is that English teachers do when a test is going on.  As I finish, I pass the book to my bud who does the exact same thing as I did.

Years later, when I was a tutor for an alternative education classroom, Mr. B was teaching English.  I sat in our office with the teacher grading math or something like that when Mr. B walks in and shuts the door.  We’re all looking out at our students, some of whom are cheating.  “Look at that!”  Mr. B exclaims.  “Those kids are blatantly cheating!  Eric, did you ever cheat in high school?”  “Yeah.  In your class for the final and in Biology.”  “WHAT!  What do you mean?”  So I refresh his memory about how I had cheated on the vocab portion of the final.  “Oh.  Yeah…  I guess I just didn’t care about what the two of you did.”

Here’s to you Mr. B.  For not caring what I did, and allowing me to pass your final with flying colors.  Any bets on how long before my mom calls to yell at me for something that happened 16 years ago?

Things not to say to or call your children

25 Jul

Mom, I’m going to stop you right here.  Do not read any of this post.  It will not be pretty and you won’t get it.  Actually, Boss, don’t you read this either…


There are certain things you should never say to your children.  There are certain things you should never call your children.  Most people know this.  Me?  Not so much.  Here are some of the things you should never say and/or call your children.  Most of these will be fictional.  Some I may or may not have actually said.  No I will not tell you which is which.

  • We really wanted a dog.  So for the first couple of years you slept in a doghouse.
  • No you really did like to eat dog food.  Why not try some now?
  • You know you’re really being a douche right now.
  • Why don’t you go find a busy corner to hang out on.
  • Sure you can play in the street.  Frogger is a perfectly acceptable real life game to play.
  • Boys are bad.  Throw rocks at them.
  • Girls are worse.  Throw bricks.
  • No bones are broken.  Get back outside.
  • Apply some pressure.  The bleeding will stop.
  • Your period?  You mean when you bleed out and die?
  • No you will not be allowed to have your period in this house.
  • You’ll just have to live in the shed when it comes.
  • Holy crap!  That was awesome.  Never tell your mother.
  • You did what?!?!  Can it be traced back to you?  No?  Well good.  You got away with it.
  • Will you please knock it off before I knock your block off?
  • Why don’t you go play parachute on the roof.  Take the big blanket.
  • Sure you can play with knives.
  • Cook it yourself, you’re 5 after all.  Gotta learn to survive sometime.
Heaven help me should my kids ever read this….

The big jump

22 Jul

Have I ever told you about the time I hit the big jump?  No?  Well.  That will have to change.  Out in the woods in my neighborhood was a motocross practice track.  The neighbors who owned the property were big into motocross, atv’s, and the like.  For us kids this was one of the best places in the world.  Utilizing their track we learned all about how to jump our bikes, land them correctly (this comes into play later on), and how to rebuild bikes when they break.  One fine summer afternoon we thought we would measure how far we could all jump our bikes.

Of course we couldn’t use actual measurements.  We were too cool for that.  We had to come up with “cool” names for the distances traveled prior to landing.  I think the first one was “Wuss”, followed by “You Suck”, etc, etc.  Eventually they got to be pretty good such as, “Damn!”, and last but certainly not least was “Holy S#!%!”  We would get up a good bit of speed and hit the jump with everything we had trying for at least a “You don’t suck as much as that guy does”.  Eventually we all started hitting the “Damn!” spot (I believe this was about 6 feet from the jump).  We were stuck there for hours.  Everyone had hit it, no one could get any farther.  There was no way I was going to hit any farther with my crappy, beat up, second hand bmx bike.  Not when everyone else had nice shiny GT’s and Kent bikes.

Oh how wrong I was…  Maybe it was peer pressure, maybe it was that I wanted to show the neighborhood that the kid with glasses WAS really cool.  Who knows how I decided to start much farther back along the trail than anyone else had gone.  I pedaled my butt off.  I hit speed unknown to man or machine.  I’m pretty sure that at some point I passed the Enterprise.  I hit that jump going at least 88mph.  If I had a flux capacitor on my bike I would have been instantaneously transported back to 1955.  Suddenly I was airborne.  I quickly passed “Wuss and You Suck”  “You don’t suck as much as that guy” wasn’t even in the cards.  “Damn!” was coming up fast!  Would I make it over?  Would I FINALLY be one of the cool kids?  Holy S#!%!  I’ve gone beyond “Holy S#!%!”!  I ended up landing just passed “Holy S#!%!”, about 7.5 feet or so from the jump.  That’s when things went completely wrong.  See the thing we didn’t plan for was the possibility of someone getting that far.  The track at that point turns 90 degrees and is banked.  I flew up and over the bank, flipped over my handlebars catching one in the gut, and thought I had died.  Then everyone came up to me to tell me how awesome I was.  Oh how quickly the body heals when the ego is stoked.  In the end I was the popular kid from the neighborhood for about a week.  Then Billy got a b-b gun and I was regulated back to second citizen status…

How to not get caught sneaking out after curfew

20 Jul

Time for another summer camp story.  Back when I was 13 I started working during the summer at Camp-of-the-Woods.  I worked there for six summers.  I came away from there with a greater sense of independence and a bunch of awesome stories.  My last summer working there, I was a Boat Guy.  What does that mean?  Basically it means I was a slave to a girls camp on the island in the middle of the lake, I gave sailing and boating lessons to people who probably had no business being out on the water, and I taught waterskiing.  I also learned that if you look like you are on official business, people will leave you alone.  Part of catering to the island’s every whim entailed carrying  a radio to be at their beck and call 24 hours a day.  While I hated having to carry the radio, it did have its uses.  My buddies and I loved late night boat rides and hanging out on the lake smoking cigars.  What better way to accomplish this than to leave our bunk house at midnight walking right past the curfew checkers and explaining that you were needed on the island and your buddies were going along to watch for rocks, logs, etc?  Nine times out of ten they didn’t have a radio, so there was no way for them to check up on us.

So kids what can we learn from this?

  1. Sneaking out after curfew is fun.
  2. Hanging out at night in the middle of a lake on a brand new ski boat is awesome.
  3. If you look like you are on official business, you probably won’t get caught.
  4. Make sure no one talks.
It’s that last one that will make or break you.

In which I jump from a perfectly good boat

19 Jul

Yup, you read that right.  I have repeatedly jumped from a perfectly good, moving boat.  Where did that land me?  Well in the water for one, and on one occasion in a heap of trouble.  Back when I was 14 I had a little 12′ aluminium boat with a 9.9 horse power outboard.  For me, this was just about perfect.  I had my own boat.  I could take it out fishing, swimming, etc.  A buddy of mine had a similar sized inflatable (think Zodiac) with a 9 horse power motor.  We would take them out, race each other, snorkel from either boat, and just have a great time out on the water.  Somewhere along the way we (along with my cousin) thought it would be cool to get the boat up to speed and jump off the side (ala Baywatch).  We did this for hours on end.  Sometimes we’d all jump with one of us having the kill switch strapped to our life jacket, other times one would stay in the boat and swing around to pick us up.  We never thought about the consequences of us jumping from a perfectly good boat with a prop in the water spinning at about 3000 rpm…  We never thought about hitting the water at 20+mph.  All we thought about was how much fun we were having.

Yeah sort of like that…

So we’ve been jumping from the boat for weeks.  We. Are. Pros.  We could put the “actors” on Baywatch to shame with our skills.  Then of course fate, or karma, or whatever has to intervene.  My cousin and I jump from either side of the boat while our bud stays on board to pick us up.  He swings around to get me, and turns just a bit too much.  I am hit by the front of his boat and forced under.  Fortunately, he has realized that he is going to hit me and pulls up the motor before I get chopped up into chum.  Unfortunately I am trapped under the boat by my life jacket.  I’ve never been one to panic in tough situations.  I also never panic when I’m in the water.  I very quickly assess the situation and realize that there is no way that I am going to get out from under the boat with my jacket on.  I remember unbuckling my jacket, swimming out from under the boat, then reaching back under the boat to get my jacket.  My cousin and friend were amazed to see me alive.  This is why I hate to wear a life jacket.  The only time I wear one is when I’m on our wave runners.  Kayaking, hanging out on the boat, swimming, whatever, I won’t wear a life jacket.

Driving Mr. Rums

7 Jun

Mom, you may not want to read this one….


I love driving.  I have since I first took my moms car without asking when I was 14.  I officially started driving on my 16th birthday.  In reality I’d been driving for a couple of years on and off.  I have driving almost every day since then.  Yes, I know.  Who cares about that.  You want a juicy, possibly embarrassing story.  I’m getting to it dang it.  Let me get some set up in here will ya?!?!

Once I got my license I was “forced” to play chauffeur for my brother.  I may have pissed and moaned a bit, but the reality of the situation is that I would get more time behind the wheel, and this was a good thing.  One night I picked my brother up from a dance at his school.  He told me that we needed to bring two of his friends home because their parents couldn’t come get them.  No.  Problem (I get to stay out later driving around?  SCORE!).

So we take off, flying down some country back road that used to be part of my bus route.  It’s funny how in 2 years you forget where the huge jump is in the road.  This is the kind of bump in the road, that at 25mph in a bus, you hit your head if you are behind the rear tires.  I think we were doing about 60…  Yea Haw!  (People wonder why I’ve always liked The Dukes of Hazzard)  This was the first time I had ever been airborne in a car while I was driving.  I’ll save the first few times I was airborne for another time.  CRASH!  We hit the road, compressing the shocks, then they rebound all the way, then compress all the way again.  Whew.  Made it!

Oh.  Crap!  A 90 degree turn?!?!  Seriously?  Here?  Now?  We’re going to die.  Hold on to your butts!  Needless to say, we made the turn perfectly and I got a quick glimpse in the rear-view mirror.  The two kids sitting in the back seat’s eyes were the size of dinner plates.  They were HUGE.  I’m surprised they didn’t pee or poo themselves.

Let’s here your driving stories!  Post below: