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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Sep 28

The Hole

Hole

Forest

The Hole

Behind one of the houses we lived in was a dark and formidable forest. The trees were enormous and it seemed as if the limbs and branches intertwined, creating a canopy that blocked out every drop of sunlight. The darkness ran deep and long, probably forever. There was no telling how many children had been lost in this woody abyss.

 

The only thing that separated our yard from the woods, was a simple chain link fence. We played in our yard constantly but always wondered what it was like on the other side of the fence. On the days my brother and I walked to school, we followed the fence line as the imaginations of a nine and an eight year old boy ran wild. 

Could there be wild animals in there?

What about an undiscovered, lost tribe of people?

Maybe even mystical creatures like a unicorn or dragons?

 

There was something scary but magical about the wooded area that seemed to beckon us. It was as if we could hear it saying, “Come in, if you dare.”

 

If we did go in there, what if we got lost? No one would ever see us again. Our youngest brother would get our room all to himself. It was just too risky.

 

But every day the draw got stronger.

 

Resistance was futile and an excursion was imminent. It was no longer if we were going, but when and how were we going to get back there.

 

Gathering a couple of the more adventurous neighborhood kids, my brother and I told them “Today, we are going in the forest! Who’s with us?” All we were missing from this scene were some horses, swords, spears, blue warpaint, kilts, and Mel Gibson. Okay, so we had nothing.

 

Everyone agreed to go, so we headed off in the opposite direction of our normal school route. This was unfamiliar and uncharted territory. 

 

From the safe side of the fence, we traveled along the perimeter looking for a point of entry. Eventually we happened upon a section of fence where some of the links were detached. Some bold adventurer had breached this area before us.

 

We wondered:

 

Who could have done this and how long ago?

Did they ever make it back out?

Would we stumble across their bleached bones, with arm outstretched and finger pointing back to the entrance as if warning us, “Get out while you still can?”

 

Despite these fears we went in anyways. Probably because we had so much testosterone in the fifth grade.  

 

The darkness was damp and smelled of grass, moss and decaying leaves. None of us thought to bring a flashlight, rope, Rambo knife, food or water. We kept going, figuring we would just stay in for a little while. 

 

After walking for what seemed like an entire day and traveling many miles, I turned around to see our progress. There, about fifty yards away was our house. I could have sworn we were much deeper than that.

 

As we came to some sort of clearing, I noticed a large piece of plywood laying on the ground. It must have been at least ten by ten feet. As we all got closer to investigate, we could tell that the plywood was a makeshift roof placed over a massive hole. One of the corners of this roof had a square section cut out of it.

Wondering how deep it was and what was in there, I peered into the opening. What I found was the top of a ladder leading down in to the pitch dark depths of the hole.

As a group, we discussed the situation. “If there is a ladder then it can’t be that deep, right? Can we all fit in there? Who wants to go first?”

 

It was killing us not knowing what was down there, so I decided to be the first to go. As I stepped into the hole and on to the first rung of the ladder, I looked at everyone for the last time, wondering if I would ever see them again. Digging deep into my adolescent bravery, I descended the rest of the way down the ladder.

As I was being swallowed by the darkness, I noticed that the temperature was cooler and there was kind of an earthy, mildew smell. When I stepped off the ladder, my foot landed on something soft. When I hit the bottom, I found myself standing on a large mattress.

Why was this here?

Was this some hobo’s home or something?

Who made this place?

The hole was deep enough for me to stand up and not hit the plywood ceiling. It was still pretty dark but the light coming down from the opening revealed that the hole was square, with four walls. Looking up to the opening, I could see my brother and some of the other kids, trying to see me.

“Come on down!” I called out. “It’s safe.” I reassured them.

My brother came down first and the others followed him down the ladder one by one. We were all amazed that someone had dug this into the ground. We really weren’t sure what to make of it or how it could be used.

Maybe it could be our secret hideaway?

Or it could be a place to have club meetings?

We could bring stuff down here that no one would ever be able to find.

 

As my vision started to adjust to the dark, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.

A small movement. Near the roof.

Then some more movement.

Was the entire ceiling moving?

 

Straining to make out what was up there, I felt something tickling my wrist. When I looked down, a daddy-long-legs was making it’s way up my arm.

Hole

Daddy-Long-Legs

With chills running up and down my spine and my hair standing on end, I let out a blood curdling scream that sounded like a little girl, who just had her dolly taken away, and I brushed the spider off of my arm.

Everyone looked my way with fear in their eyes wondering what had happened.

And then I realized what was on the ceiling.

The entire sheet of plywood was covered with daddy-long-leg spiders!

“GET OUT!!!” I screamed.

With the speed of Flash, the neighborhood kids flew up the ladder. As each person made their way up, they smacked and bumped the plywood. This caused hundreds of thousands of spiders to rain down on my brother and me.

My brother was the second one down and so he was in front of me. Fate would have it that I would be the last one in line to climb out. If I could have ran through the other kids, I would have.

Once we broke through to the surface, I saw my brother trying to remove the hundreds of daddy-long-legs from all over his body.  As if he was on fire, he employed the stop-drop-and-roll technique.

I would have rather been engulfed in flames than to have masses of spiders crawling all over me. Not having a flame thrower, I mimicked my brother. There was a lot of flailing across the forest floor, while emitting a girly high pitched scream.

Arachnophobia doesn’t describe the trauma I was left with that day.

I can reassure you that we never went back down that hole again.

It took about 35 years to get over my fear of spiders.

 

Only click this link if you think I was exaggerating and you are very brave!

Daddy-Long-Legs

 

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Sep 14

Swimming Lessons

Swimming

Swimming Lessons

Swimming Lessons

Swimming has always been a major challenge for me. If there ever was an aquatic emergency, you wouldn’t want me jumping in to help. That would require the next rescuer to have to save two people.

For several summers in a row, my parents dropped me and my siblings off at the pool for lessons. I’m sure the expectation was, that when they came back to get us, they would be picking up trained dolphins, capable of thwarting sharks and detecting underwater mines.

Swimming

Trained Dolphin

Now, I would like to say that is what happened, but I would be lying.

It always began with the float.

The lifeguard / instructor spoke with a soothing and faint whisper,

“Just lay back and relax. 

Fill your lungs with air.

Extend your arms and arch your back.”

Knowing what was about to happen, I looked around at everyone else to observe their technique.

The other kids lay motionless on the surface of the water, resting like giant lily pads on a serene summer lake. They were basking in the sunlight, just soaking up the warmth, without a care in the world.

As I eased my head back into the water as instructed, I began an immediate descent. Having zero body fat and a figure similar to a science class skeleton, I could not float.

The water enveloped me and I plummeted in a rapid descent, to the depths of the pool. It was as if Leviathan had me in its grips and was pulling me quickly, down to Davey Jones’ locker. (Said in a crusty pirate’s voice.)

Swimming

Davey Jones Locker

Trying to hold my breath as I could see the light from the surface begin to diminish, my nostrils would always fill up with water. Having not been born with a set of gills, I would immediately start breathing in the water. Jumping up as fast as I could, I would then realize that I was still in the shallow end of the pool.

It always ended with the float.

Because I sank every time, the lifeguard float Nazi would not pass me to the next level.

My fear was realized and I was doomed to a life of swimming with life jackets and arm floaties.

Year after year as we got older I would watch my siblings use the diving board, splashing into the deep end with delight. They would frolic around in the advanced swimmers end of the pool, bobbing up and down so effortlessly. It was easy to see how much fun they were having down there, as a I dipped my feet into the toddler section of the pool.

After getting married, my wife informed me that her family took an annual vacation to what might be the deepest lake in North America. I believe that it is just about the depth of the Marianna Trench. She also informed me that I would be going every year.

Swimming

Mariana Trench

The first year I went, she showed me all around the place. It was a neat little vacation spot. As we walked down to a lake and out onto a pier, panic seized me. The water was dark and cold, there were green things swaying around in there. As I became mesmerized by the sounds of the gentle waves and hypnotized by the slow ripples, I could hear the voices of the lake sirens calling me to slide in to my impending doom. I almost fell for it but quickly came to my senses and ran back to the cabin.

When the family went down to the lake, I would stay back and read. There was no way I was getting in that water. The lake floor was probably littered with the bodies of other non-swimmers who attempted to get in. Because my skin was the same tone as milk and I never came out of the cabin while the sun was out, my in-laws began to think that I was a vampire.

It was in my thirties that I recognized the familiar panic in my oldest daughters face. While playing in the pool, she lost her footing and she sank in backwards. She was fine but it freaked her out. I realized that if she was going to survive the summers at this lake, she would need swim lessons.

So we signed her up and as I watched her grow as a swimmer I realized that now might be a good time for me to try again. Seriously, it can’t be that hard, those Navy SEAL boys make it look so simple.

Watching and learning all the elementary lessons that I blocked from my memory, I re-familiarized myself with the pool. Now that I was older, it seemed as if I was strong enough to pull myself across the surface of the water.

Water still got in my nose and I floated like a chunk of granite, but I could make it across the pool without drowning. Thankfully my children can swim and float so they won’t be needing my assistance.

There are times and circumstances in life that can cause you to shy away from challenges. It’s easier to run and hide from your fears, but they will still be there waiting for you.

Think about what you could do next, if this one thing was out of your way.

It might take a while, it could take years or even an entire lifetime.

So, when the opportunity presents itself, seize it! Unless it’s water, you can’t seize water. In that case you just go with the flow.

Do I feel accomplished by conquering the water? Maybe.

An author friend of mine says you need to, “punch fear in the face.” This is great advice, except when you do this to the pool, you kind of look like a baby who has just discovered how to splash.

What fear do you need to splash, I mean punch in the face?

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If you want to read more Humorous Life Lessons click on the link below.

Humorous Life Lessons

Sep 07

One Technique To Get Their Attention

Attention

Squeak

The Family Squeak, One Technique To Get Their Attention

We have a traditional technique to get everyone’s attention in our house. This method has been passed down by my father, through me and on to my children.

As small children, we used to grab my dad’s nose all the time. We couldn’t help ourselves because, it was a dead ringer to Corporal Klinger’s from the TV show MASH.

When we squeezed his nostrils together, we would hear a loud squeak. Somehow, he was able to make this noise with his mouth without moving it. We squeezed our own nostrils and nothing happened. We tried to get each other’s noses to squeak, but with no luck. He was like a master ventriloquist with that thing.

This was so much fun for my dad and so we did this a lot. We did this so much, that my dad found out that he could squeak and we all would come running or at least turn in his direction. So it went from being a fun activity to a command technique (shout out to Pavlov).

Whenever he would want to get our attention, he would squeak. If we were doing something in public that we weren’t supposed to be doing, he would squeak. Then he would give us “the look”. Double non-verbal communication jackpot! This squeak seemed to have so many functional uses.

When we used to go to K-Mart or Wool-Co for some family shopping, we would be released into the toy section with a command of “Don’t leave these aisles.” This was before all the televised and posted dangers of leaving your children alone in a store. Being the oldest of four, I was always in charge. So it was my responsibility to make sure my siblings didn’t wander away.

As we were playing with all the packaged toys, pretending that we were going to be able to keep them, I heard the squeak, signaling that It was time to go.

After assembling “the kids”, we ventured out in the direction of the squeak. My parents must have been in hurry because the sound was more frequent than normal. It felt like they were searching for us because I could hear the squeak moving from aisle to aisle.

Trying to catch up to my parents was becoming more difficult and I was having a hard time keeping the little ones all together. They kept getting distracted by every bright and shiny items we passed along.

“Stay together and hurry up!” I shouted. “We’re going to lose them.” They were nowhere in sight and no matter how close we got to the squeak, I just couldn’t find them.

The high pitched noise finally led us up to the cash registers, however still no parents.

And that’s when I saw him…

A small boy sitting in the toddler seat in a shopping cart. In his tiny hand he was grasping a little red ball. Every time he squeezed that ball, it emitted a sound that was identical to the family squeak.

Attention

Red Ball

This miniature person, in all his excitement, had led us around the entire store in a vain attempt to find our parents. He had no idea what was going on but I felt like every giggle was his way of mocking me.

Nanny nanny boo boo! Okay, he didn’t say that but it sure felt like it.

Even though this isolated incident made me look like a complete imbecile, I still decided to keep the squeak in the family.

In a crowed or in a store, if I yell out my wife’s or any of my children’s name, no response. If I squeak, they all look in my direction, simultaneously. This is a serious husband/dad win.

My wife does not agree. She feels like she is being beckoned like a dog. Maybe it’s payback for when she tried calling me “Babe” while we were dating. This was of course, her family dog’s name.

Sometimes, when I squeak at my wife, she will answer back by flapping her wings and squawking in her best bird imitation, “CUH CAW, CUH CAW!”

Attention

Cuh Caw

Point taken.

My five year old daughter has figured out how to do it. It’s so cute listening to her try it out. The problem is when she is trying to get my attention, I never hear it. After all these years of using it on everyone else, I must have become immune to the squeak.

Do you have a unique way of communicating with your family?

Share your special techniques for signaling your loved ones.

 

One Technique To Get Their Attention (Click to Tweet)

 

If you want to read more Humorous Life Lessons click on the link below.

Humorous Life Lessons

Aug 31

Epilogue: New Identity

Identity

Image used with permission from Lisa Bliss Rush. http://www.lisablissrush.com

Epilogue: New Identity

As time passed, I tried to get on with my life. Doing the best work I could at the hair school and staying out of trouble. Life was not perfect or easy and I still suffered from my human identity. This meant that I made mistakes from time to time. No one ever gets it right, only one man did and He was God so there’s that. So, I tried to be a productive member of society, a role model to the students that I taught, and a good man.

In Nov, 1997, I met a beautiful woman named Lindsay, who had an uncanny resemblance to the young Audrey Hepburn. She was enrolled in the Cosmetology program at Capitol and there seemed to be some attraction between us. I can’t say that I was a perfect catch for her, but everything about her intrigued me. At that time, my heart was hardened from a failed relationship and I even told her not to get close to me.

She captured my heart and we fell in love. On March 13, 1999 I married the love of my life. I truly feel that God put her in my life to complete some of the work that he was doing in me. Being married to her has been the best thing that could have ever happened to me. She not only made me a husband, but with the addition of three beautiful daughters, I became a father. The most terrifying role a man could ever take on but at the same time, the most rewarding. My heart swells with pride at the accomplishments they achieve, the beauty they possess, but most importantly the hearts that they have for others.

Lindsay challenges me to uphold the God given roles that I possess and just like everything else in my story, if I do it on my own I will fail. So I rely on God to give me the knowledge, wisdom and strength to live in the same house as these four women. It has never been simple or perfect but it is so worth it. Love is not a strong enough word for what I feel for my family.

On September 11, 2001 our country changed forever. After the attacks a huge wave of patriotism swept our nation. War was imminent and everyone backed our service members no matter what branch of service or what job they held. It was amazing seeing how much love and respect was shared with anyone wearing a uniform.

It was at this time I became very unsettled. My father, brother and sister were all veterans and my youngest brother had just signed up just months before the attacks. As America hailed and praised our men and women in uniform, I began to develop a deep sense of guilt and shame about the actions that led to my incarceration and dishonorable discharge.

This feeling wouldn’t go away and it cut deep into my soul. It was hard to go to work every day feeling like that. I was feeling like there really was no significance to what I was doing. That in the grand scheme of life, I was irrelevant. Men and women were going overseas to fight and die for a cause.

In no way, shape or form did I ever want to leave my family to go to war. It was in knowing that even if I did want to, I was blacklisted from serving. The time that I spent in the Army was good for nothing. The worst part was, every time someone said to me, “Thank you for your service” it dug the knife in even deeper. They meant well, but I just couldn’t shake these feelings.

This same thing would happen around Veteran’s day and Memorial Day. Holidays honoring those who serve or have served and for remembering the men and women who died while serving in our country’s armed forces.

A reminder that I live in a country that was fought for with blood, sweat, tears and lives. I know that I walk around every day with the freedom that was provided for me. My heart is heavy and my head hangs low because I was discharged from the Army with dishonor. My selfish actions are to blame and I accept full responsibility. Having failed my family, my country and God miserably, I deserve the death that each military grave represents.

Yes, I know now that I am forgiven, and I know that God doesn’t look at me this way. However, it seems, the consequences of my past still haunt me year after year.

Knowing that I am forgiven by God’s grace is not enough. I need to surrender my past to Him and rest in my new identity daily. My conviction does not have to define me. I have to leave my old identity and accept my new one.

It is time for me to step out of prison and into the arms of Jesus.

1Peter 2:9 (NLT) …For he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

You do not have to be defined by your past, you have been forgiven and can have a new identity in Christ.

 

New Identity (Click to Tweet)

Thank you for reading my story, please feel free to share with anyone that you feel needs to hear this message.

 

Also, this is the rough draft for my book. If you would like to help make this a reality, I need a sigifigant number of email addresses. If you have not subscribed, please consider joining the list. Add your email address to the field up at the top of the blog or the one that sometimes pops up when you are about to leave the site. Thank you so much!

If this is your first time reading my true life story and would like to start at the beginning click the title below.

The Fort Leavenworth Story

Aug 24

Second Chance

Second Chance

Second Chance

Second Chance

In September 1994, I received another official document from the Department of the Army. This time it was the best news I could possibly expect. The letter I found inside the envelope was my Certificate of Release from Parole.

It seemed as if my parole officer and the Army thought that I had done enough to complete my sentence. It was effective 9 September which was 20 days shy of my twenty-fifth birthday as well as two months earlier than my original release date. Essentially, I had been forgiven by the government and was being awarded my freedom.

The paper stated that I was hereby released and set at liberty. Nothing I could do at this point could ever send me back to Leavenworth. It was an amazing feeling, knowing that I was literally and completely free. Like shackles being removed from my arms and feet, there was nothing holding me back at this point. It had been a long five years of being in this mess and it was officially over. The State probation remained in effect, but that didn’t matter to me anymore. This chapter of my life was over.

Near the end of my State probation, the owner of the school wrote a letter to the licensing board asking them to consider letting me off probation early. Since I worked closely with him, he felt that because of my performance, dedication, and the fact that the Army had seen fit to release me from parole early, probation was no longer necessary. It felt so good to have someone other than my family stick up for me that way. The State agreed with him, and even though it was only a month early, it saved me from my last urinalysis.

There was a final sense of freedom and hope. My future was ahead of me and the path was open wide. One of the things I learned from this whole experience was that no matter what adversity I faced, I knew that I could make it. Not on my own strength or will, but by the grace of God. It was He who’d carried me through this journey. Everything I tried to do on my own turned out to be a disaster. It was crazy to think that five years prior to my release from parole, I was on a path of self destruction. A path that had I not been arrested, would most likely have led to my death.

Even though I had made quite a mess of my life, it seemed as if there were people around me that were willing to stand by me or stand for me:

Special Agent Thundercloud testified in my defense;

My father flew from Germany to be present at my court-martial;

Mary Sue Meeks, who didn’t even know me, wrote to me, prayed for me and came to visit me in prison;

My family gave up many of their weekends to come spend time with me;

The owners of Capitol School of Hairstyling, took my collect call and allowed me to enroll;

The ShopKo manager, gave me a chance when he hired me; and

Lyal McCaig wrote the letter to the Cosmetology board.

Ultimately, I feel as if God placed these people in my life and timed these circumstances perfectly according to His plan. So many events transpired over those five years to help me reach this place of freedom and new opportunities.

Even though I had to re-earn my place in society and also regain the trust of many people, none of this matters to God. I can never run far enough, dig a hole deep enough or screw up bad enough to hide from His love. He is crazy about me because I am His child. There isn’t anything I can do to make Him love me any more or less.

My past, present and future are in His hands and I know that He has a plan for my life. It wasn’t just people, but the situations as well. Starting with the arrest, every scenario led me to Him. I can say that now, because at the time, I was just thinking about myself. I’m so thankful to have this shot at starting over.

With this second chance, I was ready to launch into a new life and a new career. After completing the instructor program, I was offered a full time position at the school. Without hesitation, I accepted the job. Working at Capitol gave me the opportunity to share my passion for cutting hair with others and watch the students achieve their goals and dreams. To this day, I still work at Capitol School of Hairstyling. It has been so rewarding helping over one thousand students realize their dreams.

 

Second Chance (Click to Tweet)

Next post: Epilogue… (I know I said that before, but this will be the real epilogue.)

If this is your first time reading my true life story and would like to start at the beginning click the title below.

The Fort Leavenworth Story