Mar 14

Scuba Dive Disaster

Scuba

Scuba Dive Disaster

Scuba Dive Disaster

It was my idea to sign us up for a bunch of excursions during our honeymoon. The cruise line offered so many and I had us signed up for two per island. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. My wife just wanted to lay out in the sun and relax on a beautiful beach.

St. Thomas has one of the top ten beaches in the world and so I made sure we went there. But only for a half day, because I just couldn’t lay there the entire day. The rest of the time we were touring, sightseeing, cave exploring, etc. For what we were spending on this trip, I wanted to make sure we crammed as much sight seeing and activity into the short week as possible.

Even though I didn’t know how to swim, one of the things I was super excited about was scuba diving. I know that doesn’t make sense, but I figured having a tank of air strapped to me while floating around the ocean would be easier than normal swimming. Sinking straight to the bottom and also figuring out how to keep water out of my lungs were my only problems, when trying to swim, so this was a perfect solution.

We were taken from the ship to a little lagoon, where we met our scuba instructor. He was waiting for us and all the other people from the ship who signed up for this adventure. We received a quick introduction with an equally quick lesson on how to use all of the equipment we were issued. Once we had all of our gear on, we waded into the lagoon to practice everything that we were taught.

The most important thing was how to grab the regulator if it came out of your mouth and how to clear water from the mask. He also told us that the best way to swim with the gear was to stretch your arms out in front of you like Superman while kicking your fins up and down to propel you through the water. We also had a vest that you could inflate and deflate with the push of a couple buttons. This was for buoyancy when under the surface. We were told not to touch the coral because it was harmful to the coral and potentially to us.

From there they put us on a boat and took us out further so that we would be in deeper water. We were told that the original plan was to swim around a wrecked ship. Because the water was a little rough, there was a change of plans and we would stay closer to the lagoon. The instructor told us that he would find something for us to look at. When the boat stopped, he told everyone to jump in.

We all splashed into the water and everyone headed down following the instructor. I however couldn’t seem to descend. Normally my issue was sinking to the bottom but because of the vest, I was now suspended near the surface. So I squeezed the down button on the vest and plummeted to the ocean floor. When I hit the bottom literally, I realized I was still holding the down button. Realizing, I was on top of coral, I panicked and hit the up button on the vest which rocketed me back to the surface.

Then I realized that if I just tapped the button instead of holding it down, I would ascend or descend a little at a time instead of being an underwater yo-yo. The rest of the group, including my wife, had taken off as the instructor led them to a different area. So, in my best Superman impression, I put my arms out and kicked myself over to their location. As I got closer, I saw that I was the only one using the Superman method. Everyone else was moving around like mermaids and Navy SEALs, as if they were born in the ocean. They were all looking at me like they were thinking, There always has to be one.

The group was hovering around the instructor as he was showing them something in the palm of his hand. It was some sort of creature. Not wanting to leave me out, he lifted his hand up to me to show me what looked like a huge spider. Fear gripped me and I remember being able to propel myself in reverse, rapidly away from the horror of an amphibious arachnid.

My wife remebers me shaking my head back and forth with lots of bubbles coming out of my mask. As well as an image of me running in place, as if in molasses. Thank goodness, screaming like a girl is silenced under the sea. In hindsight, it was probably just a shrimp or something, but I don’t like those either. For the rest of the undersea exploration, we were able to see more coral, some small fish and a sunken lawn chair.

Somewhere along the way, a problem developed with my mask and water started to seep in. Not sure what effect salt water had on contact lenses, I kept trying to clear the water from the mask. Nothing seemed to work and water continued to leak in. For the most part, I wasn’t drowning but I did manage to swallow several mouthfuls of salty seawater. Thank goodness, it was time to go back up to the boat.

Once we all were out of the water and onto the boat, we headed back to the shore. The water was choppy and the boat bounced up and down with each wave that it hit. With a combination of the Caribbean sun beating down on me, my head bobbing around in a circle and the sea water churning in my stomach, I began to feel the inevitable coming on. The neck sweats, the pressure rising in my gut and the queasy gurgling were a clear indicator that I was about to expel the contents of my stomach. Which I am sure was ninty-nine point nine percent sea water.

As I surveyed the group in the boat, I remembered a scene from the movie, Stand by Me. A character downed a bottle of castor oil and swallowed a raw egg before eating five blueberry pies in a pie eating contest. After puking all over the person next to him, a chain reaction resulting in every contestant and member of the audience puking on each other ensued. (Click here to watch the scene if you dare.)

I was sure this same thing would happen to everyone on the boat if I hurled in front of them.

So, when I finally couldn’t hold it in anymore, I threw up in my mouth and then I swallowed it.

You may call me a hero, but I was just trying to save everyone else.

On second thought, maybe my wife’s desire, to just lay out in the sun and relax on beautiful beaches, wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Stay tuned for the next part of the Honeymoon: Abducted on our Honeymoon

Have you tried something new a failed miserably? Share your story in the comments below. 

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Mar 07

The Honeymoon Is Not Over

Honeymoon

Honeymoon

The Honeymoon Is Not Over

The first compromise within our marriage was deciding where to take our honeymoon. My wife, Lindsay wanted to go somewhere hot. A place where she could lay on a beach and enjoy the sun. My idea was to go somewhere in which we could see as many sights as possible.

Put both of those together and you get an Eastern Caribbean cruise. Of course, only if we signed up for two excursions per island for every island we planned to visit. There was so much to pack into, such a small amount of time.

We had to wait a week or two to go on the cruise so after the wedding, we spent the night in a hotel to, you know, count all the money we made from the dollar dance. I was just so happy that Lindsay agreed to marry me after the incident. (Read about it here)

We were so excited to go on this cruise together, it seemed like the perfect get away for both of us. From Omaha, we flew to Florida and then on to Puerto Rico. It was here that we spent the first night. We toured the island and walked around Fort San Juan for most of the day.

Later we went to a beach and walked around absorbing the environment. However, my bride was so beautiful, it was hard for me to notice the surroundings at all.

Except the little person. For some reason, I was so intrigued by a little person swimming in the outdoor pool, that I kept zooming in on him with our video camera. So yes, he came home with us in the replay of our honeymoon video.

Before we left for the cruise, we both did a little bit of tanning to get a good base before heading out to the intense heat of the Caribbean sun. Having somewhat of a vampiric complexion, a good base is somewhat of a vague concept. So, I made sure slather sunblock all over myself before exposing myself to the blistering sun.

For some reason, I must not have thought it was important to put any on the recession area of my hairline. It only took about a half hour before that area was torched. It really added a nice touch to all of the pictures we had taken of us. Especially the ones that we got all dressed up for. The next day, Lindsay helped me cover my entire scalp with sunblock, just to be safe.

Honeymoon

Fascination

The next morning, we headed our Carnival Cruise ship, The Fascination. It was the biggest ship I had ever seen! We boarded and headed to our cabin. Somehow, our travel agent was able to upgrade us to one with a window. Excited to see what the room looked like, we opened the door and stepped in. We immediately noticed a problem. Instead of one big bed, there were two twin beds.

Did they not get the memo that we were on our honeymoon?

How were we supposed to cuddle?

Not wanting to lose a room with a window view, we decided to push the two beds together.

Situation, under control.

Later that evening, we sat at a table with other couples, none of which we knew. They kept trying to talk to us but I was unable to communicate.

Everyone’s words sounded like they were in a tunnel and my eyelids kept slamming shut. Each time I closed them, it was harder to get them back open. My head felt like it weighed a thousand pounds and it was nearly impossible to keep my neck from collapsing under the weight of it.

As I watched my bride get up and dance the Macarena, my face inched closer and closer to my macaroni.

On occasion, I have been know to have a little motion sickness. Before we left, someone recommended taking Dramamine. This was supposed to keep me from feeling the effects of the moving ship. Having no idea that these pills caused drowsiness to the point of narcolepsy, I took them for two days before figuring out that this was the reason I almost face-planted my entrée.

My wife may or may not have dragged me back to the cabin.

So much for cuddling…

 

Stay tuned for the next part of the Honeymoon: The Scuba Diving Disaster

Did you experience any hiccups on your Honeymoon? Share your story in the comments below. 

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Feb 29

Fear of Spiders

Fear of Spiders

Fear of Spiders

Fear of Spiders

I am afraid of spiders. There are many reasons why, but the scientific reason is that they freak me out.

It didn’t help much, that I lived in the south for a large portion of my life. Places in which the black widow and brown recluse both reside. Or that every time you turn a corner, you face plant a web. My fear probably stems from an incident in which I was almost buried alive by a mass of daddy long legs. But that is a different story. (Click here to read it)

Paranoia

It might have been about seventh grade that someone told me, “Spiders get into your house by dropping down on you when you walk through the front door.” Armed with this wonderful piece of information, walking into the house became an interesting routine.

  • Inspect screen door for spiders or webs

  • Open screen door and let it slam back shut, to shake loose any hidden spiders

  • Open screen door and quickly open front door, letting it swing inside, while simultaneously leaping backwards. So no spiders could have time to drop on me and also trying not to get hit by the screen door as it slams shut again.

  • Open screen door and fling myself through the open doorway as fast as the Flash, as to not allow any spiders who were trying to time their drop. Because I knew that they had been watching me do this for awhile.

  • Quickly slam door shut.

  • Breathe!

This went on for about a year.

I tried never to go out the back of the house. Since the way in and out was a sliding glass door, you could usually see a web that stretched from each of the four corners and from top to bottom. I’m 98.5% sure that it was that big in order to trap humans because in the south, the bugs are big, but not that big.

Torture

When people find out that you are afraid of spiders, they usually want to point them out to you or even put them on you for fun. It seems as if human nature is to torture someone with their biggest fear.

When I was in the Army, stationed in Louisiana, the guys in the barracks would catch spiders, put them in jars and leave them on my desk. After turning on the light, and finding myself face to face with the largest specimens you could imagine, I would usually let out a shriek, similar to that of an eight year old girl.

Mission accomplished.

While training in the Mojave desert, my fellow soldiers thought it would be hilarious to catch tarantulas to see what my reaction would be.

Maybe, it was the ninja-like reflexes, in which I’ve perfected the backwards flying leap.

Maybe it was, the crazed look on my face and the twitching of my eye.

Or it probably could have been the fact, that I had a machine gun in my hands, that they never actually put them on me.

Man-Up

Right after my wife and I got married, anytime I would find any spiders in our apartment, I made her go get rid of them.

Even if it was late at night and she was in her t-shirt and underwear and the spider was in the hall outside the front door.

Yes, we are still married, thanks for asking.

After we moved out of the apartment and into a house, it didn’t take long before we discovered that the home we purchased was infested with spiders. Everywhere we turned we would find them. They give me the heebie jeebies and I don’t like to kill them. Killing them meant getting closer to them than I’m was comfortable with. Besides, dead spiders are even grosser than live ones.

So I perfected the long distance, spider retrieval method. Otherwise know as, the vacuum hose.

If you put the longest attachment on, you can effectively keep your distance from the creature. For some reason, they must think is is a little cave or escape hatch because they always run right in. You have to make sure that you go straight to the trash and empty the vacuum or else they crawl back out. Oh, and make sure you take it to the trash outside your house.

One evening, while we were watching a movie in the basement, something large scurried across the floor and under the couch. There was no doubt that it was a wolf spider. Chances of finishing the movie were pretty slim because we both knew it was underneath us. And because, it would have been difficult watching the movie standing up on the couch.

So, I decide to be brave and save my wife from this monster. The vacuum was upstairs and I couldn’t leave her alone and so I scanned the basement for a weapon. Spying an over-sized pink plastic baseball bat in the kids’ toy area, I used the backwards flying leap to retrieve it.

You never want to turn your back on your opponent.

My wife jumped onto the smaller couch as I made my way around to the front again. Summoning all my inner strength, I was able to flip the couch on it’s back with one hand because I need to keep a death grip on the big pink bat with the other hand. There, poised for attack, was the gargantuan beast, staring back at me as if to say, “You’re going down!”

With a two handed grip, I held the pink bat above my head just like the poster from the movie, Conan The Barbarian. Only looking a lot less like him and more like Napoleon DynaMike.

With a crazed look on my face and a twitch in my eye, I shouted with a high and most shrill voice, “I am bigger that the spider, I am bigger than the spider!” while pummeling the monster into oblivion.

In that moment, I was the hero. Staring down my nemesis into all eight eyes and conquering my fear while saving the damsel in distress.

All I needed was a wild stallion to ride off on, to make the picture perfect.

Share your biggest fear in the comments below. Let me know if you have conquered it. 

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Jan 11

How I Almost Ruined My Wedding

Wedding

My Beautiful Bride

How I Almost Ruined My Wedding.

My wife Lindsay and I met in hair school. She was enrolled in the September 1997 class and I started working as an Instructor in November. There was a mutual attraction and we started dating. We didn’t know each other very long before I popped the question. Somehow we just knew we were right for each other though.

She said yes without hesitation and we set a wedding date for about six months later. When we started all the planning and visiting the various places to set up the wedding, a couple of the vendors made us seem like we were crazy to put a wedding together in such a short period of time. However, we were so enamored with each other, we just needed to be married right away.

Not wanting to feel left out, I went to almost every appointment; the florist, the photographer and the bridal shops. You may also find this hard to believe, but the wedding dress I liked the best was the one she selected. She was so beautiful and I couldn’t wait to see her wearing such an amazing dress at the altar.

Naturally since we were both hairdressers, one of our gifts for the bridesmaids was to do their hair at the salon that Lindsay’s mother owned. Of course, I would be doing Lindsay’s hair that morning as well.

That morning, I left my apartment that was soon to be ours. Needing to get gas before heading to the salon, I drove to the nearest filling station. I got out of the car, shut the door and as I reached for my wallet to pull out my card, I realized that the tuxedo pants did not have back pockets.

No back pockets meant no wallet. Sure enough, as I frisked myself in hopes of maybe finding the wallet, it was not there. This was not a problem; I would just go back to the apartment to get it.

As I walked back to the driver’s door, a sinking feeling in my stomach took over as I spied my keys in the ignition. What were the chances that the door would be locked? In that moment my worst fear came true as I grabbed the door handle, and nothing happened.

I had locked my keys in the car.

There was an extra key that I could use, if only it wasn’t in my wallet, back at the apartment.

Thank goodness, I had my cell phone.

How was I going to tell my future bride, that she needed to leave the salon, go to the apartment, get my wallet and bring it to me? So that I could unlock the car, get gas and make it to the salon to help with the hair already in progress.

Although this incident was a major inconvenience, I knew by Lindsay’s response in the moment, that she still loved me. Her only reply was, “We do not have time for this.” I am so glad that she showed restraint and didn’t say what she might have been actually thinking.

When I arrived at the salon, I was thoroughly embarrassed but there was hair to do and not much time left to do it. All the hair started at eight o’clock and we had to be at the church by noon. All of pictures were being taken before the ceremony at five. I was sure that everything was going to be fine, but then again, I am a guy.

The fact that I got to do Lindsay’s hair for our wedding was such a privilege. She was so beautiful, and I couldn’t stop staring at her in the mirror. They say it is unlucky to see the bride before the wedding, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Good thing I’m not superstitious.

Everything else went off wonderfully without a hitch. As we left the sanctuary, I forgot that I was wearing a microphone and so everyone could hear me utter a very loud, “Whew!” We didn’t discover this until we watched the wedding video.

It is possible that I was just relieved that the wedding went so well.

Or, it could have been that I was relieved that she actually married me.

Tell me about your wedding mishaps in the comments below.

Next post: Honeymoon Horror Stories

 

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Jan 04

The Vacation That Tried To Kill Me

Vacation

The Blarney Castle

The vacation that tried to kill me

For my twenty-eighth birthday I decided to take a trip to Ireland. Because I was already living in Europe at the time, I thought it would be fun, to visit the country that my mother’s side of the family came from. With a backpack, a Fromer’s vacation guide to Ireland and a plane ticket to Dublin, I took off on an adventure. There were a couple cities I wanted to visit and some sights that I wanted to see.

Arriving in Dublin first, I set myself up in a bed and breakfast. The rest of the day, I walked around the city and hit all the major tourist sites including; Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Trinity College Library where the Book of Kells is on display. It’s understandable why so many people take vacation here. It was an interesting place with lots to see.

After Spending two days in Dublin I bought a train ticket to Cork. One reason I picked this city was because some of our family comes from there. It made me feel more connected to my roots being there. The other reason I picked Cork is because it’s near the Blarney Castle. My grandmother gave me an awesome picture of my grandfather kissing the Blarney Stone and I planned on getting a picture of me doing the same thing. She also gave me a piece of stone that she took from the castle.

When I got to the Blarney Castle, there were a lot of older people there. Mostly Americans who were on the same vacation quest as me, to connect with their roots. To get to the top of the tower there is a spiral staircase made of stone, with enough room for one person per step. The tower itself is maybe five stories tall. The stairs were backed up with people all the way outside of the castle. So many people were waiting for a turn to kiss the stone. There were also many people outside talking about how they couldn’t wait that long or that there was no way they could make it up the staircase in their physical condition. To come this far and not go up to kiss the stone, must have been disappointing.

In another section of the castle, I noticed an additional stone, spiral staircase. This one had a sign on it that said, “Do not enter.” So I lifted the sign and headed up. Half way into the ascent, I noticed the steps were very worn down. The further I got, the worse they got. It got to the point where I was on my hands and knees so I wouldn’t slide down and tumble back several floors worth of steps. Somehow, I made it.

Vacation

Next

Once I got up to the top, I took my turn laying belly up with my head dangling back over a sheer drop to the ground. There is an iron grate that protects tourists from falling. I kissed the stone. My picture wasn’t as cool as my grandfather’s but I got one.

Vacation

The Blarney Stone

Two days in Cork was long enough, so I returned to Dublin. In order to catch a train to Belfast, I had to make it across the entire city to the other station. Having some time to kill, I decided to walk. My Fromer’s Guide to Ireland had a city map inside, so I opened it up and used it to navigate through the streets to make it to my destination.

With my backpack and my travel book, I must have looked like a serious tourist. Even though I was traveling alone, I felt pretty safe. It was the middle of the day and there was no indication that I was ever in any danger. Everyone in Ireland had been so nice, although many people asked me if I spoke English before they started talking to me. I found that very strange.

About halfway to my destination, I walked by two men crouched down beside a set of stairs. As I passed them, they both stood up and began following me. This made me very nervous. It seemed like they were either trying to catch up to me or maybe pass me. My heart started to beat faster as I tried not to look back at them. People were walking up and down both sides of the street as well as cars driving both ways. Figuring that I would just let them pass, I slowed down.

Coming around my right side, they kept turning until they were face to face with me. Backing up to avoid contact with the two men, I ended up in a recessed corner of a building with both men cornering me. One of the guys seemed like he was keeping watch. The other guy grabbed the collar of my jacket with one hand and as I looked down, I saw that he had a hypodermic needle about one inch away from my stomach.

In an instant, they were gone. This whole thing happened so fast, I didn’t have time to react or even process what happened. Pulling away from the building, I saw a cab half pulled onto the sidewalk with the driver’s door open. I turned around just in time to see the cab driver chasing after the two assailants while flailing a club like stick in the air. I’m pretty sure it was a Leprechaun’s Shillelagh. He must have seen them grab me at just the right time to take action.

I began to shake uncontrollably from the adrenaline and realized I hadn’t uttered a sound through the whole incident. The cab driver came back and asked if I was okay. With a quivering voice, I said yes. The two men must have been after money for drugs. I never expected to be attacked in broad daylight. After thanking the cab driver, I decided to stick closer to groups of people. Even though I was traveling alone, I made it look like I was with others.

Making it to the train station, I bought a ticket to Belfast and boarded. It took me awhile to completely calm down. Needing rest, I sat back and listened to the unfamiliar sound of Gaelic being spoken back and forth between the other passengers. The trip was long and I ended up sleeping for most of it. It was late when we arrived in Belfast. Playing it safe, I decided to get a cab instead of walking around this city alone in the middle of the night. The cab driver took me to the only hotel that had vacancies. The Holiday Inn had a room for one hundred dollars a night. At this point, it didn’t matter, I just wanted to be safe.

The next day, I traveled around to all the tourist sites, including the Ulster Museum and the ship yard where the Titanic was built. As I made my way through the city I made sure to stay close to other groups of people. This city was much different from the others. There were many police and military around because of a recent IRA bombing in a nearby town. So I felt safe and unsafe all at the same time. That evening, in my hotel room I decided to take a shower. As I stepped in to the higher than normal tub, I hit my shin and toppled in. It took my breath away and scared me. My leg hurt and I was a little banged up but I was okay.

This vacation was memorable on many levels. It’s undeniable that I will never forget the time I spent walking around Ireland. Everyone has heard of the luck of the Irish, but no one has ever specified whether it was good or bad luck. It could be said that I was having bad luck on this entire trip, however I am still here to talk about it. So there’s that.

Vacation

Stone taken from the Blarney Castle

After doing some internet research on the Blarney Castle, I found a link that may have explained what happened to me. Legend has it that a stone removed from Blarney Castle will bring misfortune and misery to anyone who possesses it. My grandmother had given me that stone that she took from the castle. It’s a good thing I’m not superstitious.

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Nov 23

My Explosive Daughter

Daughter

Milina

My Explosive Daughter

After being parents for a year and a half, we were now experts.

Just in time for daughter number two. We had this all figured out, so we were not worried at all. Since I now knew that babies came out face down, there would be no confusion this time.

Somehow, Milina ended up having blond hair and blue eyes, which was a little strange. My wife and I both have dark hair and eyes. Well, my hair used to be dark. Thank goodness, my wife is a quarter Swedish and both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law both have blond hair.

It was fun having another kid around especially for our oldest who quickly became a little momma. It was so cute watching Lydia take care of her baby sister. Except for the one time that Lydia bit Milina’s nose. My wife took responsibility for this incident due to her biting habit as a small child. I never bit anyone as a child so I had no problem letting her take the blame.

Then it started to happen. There was a terrible rumbling that came from my daughter’s lower region. Then a squishy noise that sounded like whipped cream coming out of the can. With the smell that followed we knew that she had soiled her diaper. What we didn’t know was that even the simplest touch to that diaper, would send the contents shooting up her back, all the way to her neck. Any slight twist or turn would also create the opportunity for what was inside to slide out of the sides. So when we laid her down to start the process, we set off the I.E.D. Icky Exploding Diaper.

We went from having normal pit stop style diaper changes to; change the diaper, bathe the baby, start the laundry almost every time we heard the squish.

If someone else were holding her and we heard the squish, one of us would shout, “Nobody move! Gently pass the baby to me!” People would freeze in confusion probably thinking that there was a cobra or tarantula in the room. Every parent would breathe a sigh of relief when we said, “Don’t touch the diaper!” Once they heard that, they knew what was up. Every parent has experienced the I.E.D at some point.

Our problem was that it was every single time. It was as if when Milina ate food it went from lips to diaper. Instead of always having an emergency outfit in her diaper bag, we had a what-do-we-want-to-have-her-wear-after-today’s-squish-outfit.

Swimming was a Problem

While swimming in her great-grandmother’s pool, we did not hear the squish. My wife was holding Milina and noticed some foreign substance that started surfacing behind her. When she realized what it was, we all evacuated the pool immediately. Thank goodness there was a shower there.

With no lifeguard on duty, no one else around, and no way to clean it up, I felt sorry for whoever showed up to swim next.

Truck Stop Triage

On the trip home we weren’t so lucky. As we were driving on the interstate, we heard the telltale squish coming from the back seat. Milina was strapped into her car seat which aggravated the I.E.D. There was nothing we could do. The smell, oh the smell. The first place I could find to stop was one of those trucker travel centers. Somehow we had to get her out of the back seat. The majority of the contents of her diaper had come out into the car seat, and of course it was all over her. My sister-in-law held a Target bag open, as my wife lowered her into it. They carried her like that into the truck stop restroom. They gave her a bath in one of the sinks. My task was to clean the car seat cover which meant I had to completely disassemble the car seat. Taking all the pieces into the men’s restroom, I gave the car seat a bath in the sink. Then with only wet paper towels, I had to clean the back seat of the car.

If you’ve carried your poop covered daughter, in a Target bag, to give her a bath in a truck stop sink, you might be a redneck.

The Wedding

We were at a wedding reception, waiting at one of the last tables to be summoned for the food line, when my wife heard the squish. In order to keep things fair, we would trade off on the bomb disposal. I could tell by the look on her face, that she was informing me that it was my turn. So I took her to the bathroom to change her diaper. There was nowhere to change her in there and I couldn’t bring myself to put her on the floor of a men’s restroom, so we went out to the parking lot. Using the back of the van, I went to lay her down and then I realized that I had thrown away the mat that usually comes with the diaper bag. There was no saving it from the last I.E.D. so I had to use the top flap from the diaper bag to lay her on. Of course too much movement had transpired up to this point and so it was all over her back. The only thing I could do was give her a baby wipe bath, using the entire container.

It was so bad, that I ended up throwing away her clothes, and I had to toss the whole diaper bag as well.

The Crib of Carnage

Unlike her older sister, Milina would go down for naps pretty easily. After laying her down, I decided to go outside to mow the lawn. We had a portable baby monitor so I knew she would be safe inside. After mowing for a while,  I turned off the mower to see if I could hear anything. Of course Milina was crying, so I sprinted into the house to make sure she was okay. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see. When I peeked in, Milina was looking at me with pitiful look on her face. She was covered from head to toe in poop! I’m not sure if she plopped on to her bottom setting off the I.E.D. or if she was just reaching in and throwing it around, but it was EVERYWHERE! The crib and sheets were covered. It was on not just one wall, but three. As I carried her out of her room to take her to the bathtub, we left a trail on the carpet as well as the hall walls. And yes, it was on the ceiling.

How in the world did it get on the ceiling?

The Revelation

After trying every diaper known to man, we finally discovered that Pampers Cruisers were the best diapers on the market for this situation. No matter what the cost, we needed hazmat quality containment.

But even with these diapers, we only had a window of opportunity.

We also discovered that milk was the culprit. When she drank it, kaboom! I.E.D.

At thirteen, she has finally outgrown her intolerance. This is a good thing because she loves milk. However just a few years ago, her requests for milk were always followed up by, “Milina, but you know what will happen next…”

Did your kids blow up when they were little?

 

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Nov 09

Mac and Cheese is a Scam

Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is a scam. 

Maybe you have the same child in your family.

You know the one that only eats mac and cheese. It doesn’t matter what restaurant you plan on eating at, if they don’t have mac and cheese, she will eat croutons.

It seems like every restaurant has their own version but at this point, she has developed a discriminating taste for Kraft mac and cheese. So when a waitress brings out a bowl of gourmet macaroni with some albino version of a cheese sauce, a flash of anger rises up in her eyes.

Of course we try to convince her that, “This will be so good! Look at those interesting shaped noodles.”

Really we are thinking, you had better eat that because it costs almost six dollars!

Six dollars for mac and cheese, I mean do they import the noodles from Italy and the cheese from France?

Are they milking a cow and churning butter out back?

Is Chef Emeril in the kitchen, taking it up a notch?

I don’t think so.

Isn’t a box of mac and cheese less than a dollar at Target? Even less if you buy the generic version.

But she knows, this is not the mac and cheese that she really wants. It takes a lot of coaxing and convincing to even try a bite. Many times she may tolerate it and eat a few spoonfuls.

However, we all know what dad will be taking for lunch the next day.

The worst part is when you’re forced to pay for mac and cheese at a restaurant and then when it comes out, you can tell that it is Kraft. They don’t even try to disguise it.

Could we take a couple boxes home to replenish our supply, since we’re paying for six boxes worth?

Our family’s relationship with mac and cheese is complicated.

Feeding it to our youngest beats the alternative of having her try something new, only to spit it out projectile style, like she just ingested poison.

What’s your family’s relationship with mac and cheese?

 

Or, what is the one food that seems to be the go-to for your special child?

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Oct 26

My Baby Was Born Without A Face

Baby

My Baby Was Born Without A Face

My Baby Was Born Without A Face

It finally happened, we were going to have our first child. A daughter, who would change our lives forever. It was an exciting time for my wife and me. One of Lindsay’s life goals was to be a mother and this dream was becoming a reality.

Impatient is not a strong enough word to describe how badly my wife wanted to see our baby. She developed a routine of jumping jacks and squats to try and induce labor. We figured that those movements had the best chance of telling the baby to come out. On a short trip to my parents, Lindsay pleaded with me to hit every speed bump to signal to the baby that it was time.

Apparently it worked. The next morning she woke up early with the urge to go to the hospital. We left quickly picking up the bag we had already packed for just this moment. We also grabbed all of the brand new items we purchased for this new life we were bringing into the world.

Settling into the hospital room, the staff of nurses made us as comfortable as possible. Everything was perfect and going so well. And then the contractions started.

 

Baby

Delivery Room

There was a monitor hooked up to my wife measuring how intense they were. I remember watching the numbers go up with each one, and thinking, Whoa!

Each time a nurse came into the room to check on Lindsay, she was so nice to them. At one point it seemed like she was in a lot of pain and so I reached out to touch her arm thinking it would console her.

In a flash, it seemed my sweet wife had changed into a snarling werewolf as she lunged towards me. Jerking my hand back, I narrowly escaped having my hand snapped off by her ferocious sharp teeth. There were no more attempts at touching.

This reaction could have also been because, when my brother came up to visit us in the room, he brought Arby’s for me and we both ate it in front of her. We also kept staring at that crazy contraction monitor, with our jaws dropping everytime the numbers jumped up.

As the doctor came in to check on how far she was dilated, we both were getting nervous. So many thoughts ran through my mind;

Will I be a good dad?

Will she love me?

Will she have all her fingers and toes?

When the doctor said he could see the top of her head, I knew it was time for our little Lydia to come out and meet us.

Now there are some people who say that childbirth is one of the most beautiful things to experience.

They lied.

An entire baby coming out of where they come out of is the most alien thing I have ever seen. It’s like nothing I’ve ever witnessed.

As Lindsay was pushing, more thoughts flooded my mind;

What color hair will she have?

What color eyes will she have?

Which one of us will she look like?

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

 

As her entire head popped out, I stared in horror because for the life of me I could not make out any features. No eyes, no nose, no lips. It was all supposed to be there, something was terribly wrong. My baby was born without a face!

The doctor, did not seem concerned.

Why hasn’t he said anything?

Surely he can see that this is a major problem.

He’s probably just trying to figure out how to break the news to my wife.

He just went about his business. The next step, was turn Lydia so that her shoulders could wiggle out properly. And then she just popped out like a baby doll made out of rubber.

As the doctor turned her around to show us our new addition to the family, I cringed because I was afraid to see what was not there. I wondered, how is he going to explain this to us? 

Then I noticed all the features that I thought were missing, seemed to magically appear.

She indeed had eyes, nose and lips and she was beautiful just like her mother.

Putting two and two together, I realized that what I thought was a faceless head was actually just the back of her head.

No one told me that babies come out face down.

Thanks for the heads up.

Well, you know what I mean.

 

Share your embarrasing delivery room moments in the comments.

 

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Oct 19

Roller Coaster Baby

Roller Coaster

Roller Coaster Baby

Roller Coaster Baby

When my wife and I got married, she was excited to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a mother. She was hoping to have a honeymoon baby. It didn’t work out that way and so we kept trying.

A short time after we got back from our wonderful Caribbean cruise we settled into the life of a married couple. Living together for the first time was awesome, but it had its challenges.

Much like every newlywed couple, we had to sort through; which way to put the toilet paper on the roller, squeezing the toothpaste from the middle or from the bottom, how to properly unload a grocery cart in order for the food to be organized into the bags and which family traditions would we take on as our own.

You know, all the cute stuff.

Not long after we moved into the apartment together, we decided to go to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. Trying out all the rides was a lot of fun. There was a really scary roller coaster called the Mamba. It is one of the tallest, longest, and fastest roller coasters in the world covering 5,600 feet of track, with nine drops. Needless to say, we were pretty nervous, but it turned out to be such a rush.

It might have been that same week, that we found out we were pregnant.

What an emotional roller coaster.

Wait a minute, roller coaster?

A wave of panic rushed over us as we realized that my wife rode the Mamba while she was pregnant. There is even a sign on the ride that says guests with the following conditions are prohibited from riding this ride, with pregnancy as one of the conditions. We hoped everything was going to be okay. Had we known, we wouldn’t have ridden the roller coaster.

When Lydia was born, she was so beautiful, just like her mother. It was so exciting, a brand new baby girl who needed us to take care of her. What a great responsibility. We were so new at parenting and were so worried about protecting and taking care of her, that we slept on the floor in her bedroom the first night. Everything seemed so normal at first.

Then it happened.

The dreaded mode of a newborn. She didn’t want to sleep while the rest of the entire world was nestled in their beds. Nothing seemed to soothe her. The holding her in our arms and bouncing method didn’t work. Taking turns didn’t work. Even if we got her to sleep, she woke up the second we put her in her crib.

Then I remembered that during the day, we put her in one of those electric swings in order to get things done around the apartment. I noticed that Lydia would fall asleep and stay asleep in the swing, as long as it was moving. If I turned it off, she woke up. Wondering if she would sleep all night in the swing, we tried it that night.

It was like a dream come true and a miracle all in one.

It was late in the night when I heard a child screaming. Scrambling out to the living room, I saw Lydia crying in anger that the batteries died and the swing was not moving. She gave me a look like, how dare I be made to sleep without movement, get this thing working right now! In my groggy stupor, I fumbled through our junk drawer looking for six D batteries.

Why, when you need batteries, there is always just one random C or D in the drawer?

She was not going to calm down until she was comfortably swinging back and forth again. So, took her out of the swing and quickly placed her in the infant car seat. Placing one forearm on the wall, I used my other hand to swing the car seat back and forth like a human pendulum.

Eventually she fell back asleep. It only took about two hours. Problem was, when I stopped, she woke up again. For a majority of the night, I just kept switching arms until they about fell off. Then next day, I stocked up on batteries.

I can assure you that whenever we went on vacation that year, I broke that swing down and figured out a way to make it fit in with the luggage. We weren’t going anywhere without that swing.

If you’re wondering why she couldn’t go to sleep without movement?

I blame the Mamba.

 

What extremes have you gone through to get your kids alseep?

 

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Oct 12

Family Road Trips

Trips

Family Road Trips

Family Road Trips

My father was stationed at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina. We lived there from 1973 to 1981. During this time we lived in a trailer for a few years which was quite an adventure to say the least. (Read about trailer life here.) It was nice to eventually upgrade from a house on wheels, to military housing.

Something we didn’t have around us was family. My grandparents and a number of other relatives lived in New England, mostly Connecticut and Massachusetts. Eventually, my dad’s parents moved to the Florida Keys. The area of the U.S. where the geriatric community goes to retire and expire. A.K.A. God’s waiting room. That meant, to visit everyone, there would be many road trips. We would spend lots of time in the car driving up and down the East Coast.

None of the trips were the same but here are some of things one could expect when traveling in the Mike family land yacht:

In order to leave South Carolina we had to drive through kudzu. It’s a large leafed vine plant that grows so voraciously that is climbs everything in its path smothering all other forms of vegetation. Reaching to the tops of buildings and trees, it is sometimes known as the vine that ate the south. Driving through this was like making your way through a valley of green, to the left and right of the car was an equally impressive wall of kudzu. I couldn’t wait to get out of it because I am sure, that that plant had swallowed up entire families while still in their vehicles.

We didn’t have internet or cell phones and so we had to come up with ways to entertain ourselves. This usually meant that we bickered, fought and basically created a less than relaxing, driving experience. This made everybody crazy. By everybody, I mean my parents. Trying to be proactive, they had activities for us to do. If we opted out, the alternative was SHHHHH!

One of the biggest sources of frustration was breaking of back seat rule number one. Don’t cross the line. An imaginary line existed on the seat between each person. My sister sat in the middle between my brother and me. When she dozed off her head would slump to the left or to the right. This meant she breached the line, breaking the rule. When her head would touch one of our arms she got an immediate shoulder launch in the other direction. Then we would yell out, “Mom! She’s touching me!”

One of the games we played was called license plate. Each person tried to spot vehicle tags from different states. The person who had the closest to all fifty would win. As far as I can remember, we never found them all. Alaska and Hawaii were always so elusive.

My parents purchased coloring activity books to preoccupy us. They always started out fun, but after a while they induced nausea. The smell of that ink on cheap newsprint paper, reading and the movement of the land yacht was never a good combination. It usually left us feeling like our eyes were swimming around in the back of our eye sockets.

We also had the magic hair toy. A piece of cardboard with a printed image of a cartoon man. Surrounding the image was a raised plastic bubble filled with tiny black metal shavings. Using a magnetic pen, you could move the shavings around dropping them into hairstyles and beards. That was good for about ten minutes.

And then there was everyone’s favorite, the alphabet game. Each person would take turns yelling out a name of a food item with each corresponding letter. It’s all fun and game until you get to the letter Q. Curse you Q! Why does that letter even exist?

Sometimes we stopped along the way at various tourist attractions. Not your typical tourist attractions mind you. Only the most obscure, off-the-beaten-path type.

Somewhere in southern America is a swamp. In this swamp grows Cypress trees. Looking like stalagmites, the roots of these trees protrude from the surface of the black water. This water is also home to tons of green vegetation and unnamed creatures that move about beneath the surface. Fashioned out of gray, splintery planks of wood was a make shift catwalk that curved through the swamp in a shape of a U.

We paid to walk through the swamp to look at these tree roots called Cypress knees. The whole time I kept looking down because the planks were not super close together and you could see the murky water through the space between the boards.

Knowing that I sink in water, my only concern was, one wrong step and they would never find me again. After making our way through the swamp tour, we were greeted by the gift shop. Hundreds of Cypress knees were there, some polished, some not. Many were carved with murals or designs. Yes, we all left with one.

There are various retired naval vessels docked on the coasts of the US. Being a military family, this was always a point of interest. Anytime we drove by one, we were guaranteed a visit. It was awesome getting to climb around on battleships and submarines. Pretending we were sailors, we would take battle positions while posing to have our picture taken by our father. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen them all.

The thing that stuck with me the most about these trips was the pitcher. Some of you may know what I’m talking about, but for those of you that don’t. Imagine traveling in a land yacht for hours upon hours. With a bladder stretched to the maximum, your dad says, “We’re making good time, we’re not stopping.”

You have to pee.

You have to really pee.

You’re going to pee your pants.

So your mom sends a pitcher over the front seat for you to have your brother hold while you relieve yourself. Now I’m not sure how we did this in a moving vehicle but I’m guessing I blocked the whole thing out of my mind. Were there even any seat-belts in the back seat?

You could tell we were getting close to Florida when we saw rows and rows of orange trees. Since it seemed like we had been traveling for weeks, the oranges were a welcome sign that it was almost over. Without stopping, the trip actually was only about eleven hours, but I could swear that my face had sprouted a long gray beard by the time we arrived.

Today, we have: Music play-lists, built in dvd players, multiple charging ports for electronics, 24/7 access to the internet and even seat-belts in the back seats.

Traveling has changed quite a bit, but do we have any really cool stories to tell?

What do you remember about your family road trips?

 

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