School Days, Here Again

It’s September. That means transitioning from vacation to school. Hopefully, it will also mean having a few more uninterrupted conversations with my wife now that the Miracles of Christ are back in school.

School has returned.

Everyone is adjusting to the new schedules. Some children are dealing with the harsh reality of not waking up at noon. Other children are adjusting to a morning of getting dressed and leaving the house instead of rolling out of bed and going on autopilot to the television, generating just enough energy to stay vertical until they reach the couch.

I’m adjusting, too. I need to make sure I’m up early enough to get the little cherubs out of bed and on their way to the car or bus. I’m helping children get their breakfast and find their things so they can be on time for school. The first day of school was tough. Kids had tons of supplies to see themselves through the school year. Usually, we can get to the school a day or two before the official first day and drop the things off so children can just walk to their classrooms on Day One and not worry about anything else but making it to the classroom and seeing who they were sitting next to.

It didn’t happen this time. Oh, well. I dropped off The Oppressed and The Boy with their gear. Luckily, things fit in their bags and they were able to remain upright on their way into the building. I went home and did my work, patiently waiting for the time I could return to the school and find out about their day.

That glorious time came and I eagerly waited at the school parking lot for the doors to open and release the children from the temporary adult oppressors to the permanent oppressors. The Oppressed was in relatively good spirits and gave about as much information as I could expect. The Boy, on the other hand, was none too happy. Apparently, his teacher took his things from him as soon as he got to his room and locked them up on him. The Boy didn’t understand why the teacher had to take his things away from him without any explanation. I decided to find out more about this and asked The Oppressed, who just happened to be an alumna of this teacher. It turns out this teacher allows the students to keep what they need in their desks and the excess stock is kept in a closet. When the student needs something, the teacher will fetch it from the closet, thereby making sure that everything is accounted for, nothing gets lost, and the student has everything they need for a successful school year. The Boy didn’t exactly see it that way and was upset with his teacher for days because she, “stole” the things he needs for school. The Oppressed and I tried to explain what happened. The Boy said she should have spoke to him about it and asked him if it was alright to take his things before she took it. After all, The Boy reminded us, it’s his stuff.

Despite my inexperience and lack of know-how when it comes to parenting (I just live here with my children), I have learned there are times when it is best to just let kids sulk and stew about the cruel lot cast upon them by fate. At this point, all I can do is patiently wait for The Boy to need something and, at that time, the teacher will go to the closet and retrieve what he needs from the supply closet. Maybe then he will understand the grand scheme of the teacher and her classroom.

Time will tell. As of now, there are other things to deal with. Another round of the Homework Wars will be descending upon us. There are flag-football, cheerleading, and cross-country practices to attend. Wife and I have our own jobs. I know I said something about having uninterrupted conversations with my wife while the children are away, but there may be other things lurking in the shadows and waiting to snatch whatever chance I have to talk to her without someone or something jumping in and fill what I thought was an opening.

Messages from Above and Beyond

I am a husband, a parent to five children, and a baseball coach. I take care of a dog and a cat. I help with homework and give driving lessons among other duties fulfilled. For all of these duties, some of the most exciting moments occur in my own home.

Wife and I try to keep a clean house. Some days are easier than others. Those easier days are usually when the Miracles of Christ are at school or the whole family is out of the house for the day on an excursion. We try to enlist the cherubs’ help from time to time, that’s easier than obtaining answers regarding discoveries Wife and I make around the abode.

King Tut's tomb, still sealed.
King Tut’s tomb. Almost as exciting as what we find at home.

You may already be familiar with the story of King Tut’s tomb. In 1923, an archaeologist named Howard Carter found the tomb and discovered what it contained. The discovery was magnificent in both archaeological and historical terms. The discoveries made that day in February of 1923 answered many questions and led to some new ones. The discoveries I make at home produce many questions but don’t answer much.

I go to one child’s room to wake them up in the morning. They have an alarm but they either sleep through it or just ignore it. On my way through the room to their bed, I notice several items laying around the room, usually in the form of empty cans. Thankfully, these empty cans are non-alcoholic, so it could be worse. Since these cans are actually in someone’s room, it’s hard for them to deny them or not now where they came from. Questions regarding this discovery usually produces answers such as, “Oh, yeah,” or, “Um, yeah. I was gonna get those.”

Open seltzer cans on a dresser in a bedroom.
They told me they were going to take care of these… a month ago.

Of course you were. Right after you finished your video game or the television show you started streaming for the tenth time this week. I’m sure it was right at the top of your list. Right after the mountain of laundry that’s been sitting there for weeks going on months, waiting for you to scale it. I’m sure it was just a matter of time. It’s not like you’re in the room sleeping all morning and you walk past them when you finally get up out of bed.

Other discoveries are a little difficult to pinpoint. These are the ones made in the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen. Upon entering these parts of the house, the visitor is met with random scraps plastic left from opening powdered drink mixes. No one can explain these mysterious phenomena. Empty chip and snack bags. Again, no one can explain this. Water bottles. Juice boxes. More miracles of God. Things people have certainly seen but weren’t around to witness the actual happening. “I don’t know.” “That was there when I got here.” I wonder if we’re on some sacred burial ground of an ancient civilization long forgotten and the spirits are somehow communicating with us with these objects and items randomly left about the house that trespasses on said sacred ground.

Food and crumbs on furniture.
Gifts for the gods.

Sometimes, there’s food and crumbs left with these mysterious packages. If you’ve seen the movie “Coco”, you know that people leave food for the spirits of their departed relatives. Maybe people in this house have been leaving food for the spirits. It’s also possible that people in this house are eating snacks and leaving crumbs but we don’t want to offend the gods, do we?

I’m not sure who to speak to about this. The Oppressed? The Gaggle? Discovery Channel? The Boy? Wife? National Geographic? I’m sure someone from PBS would love to know about these strange occurrences randomly taking place all over the house. Doggie doesn’t care where it’s coming from. She’s just happy to have an extra snack now and then. I wish these mysterious spirits wouldn’t leave so many signs. It’s hard enough for our dear children to clean the house as it is. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe they really are cleaning but Ida Know and Not Me from “The Family Circus” are dropping by and leaving subtle reminders that they were here. This much I know: It couldn’t possibly come from our children.

A dog eating crumbs off furniture.
Not everyone in the house is upset about the crumbs.

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What I say (What I mean): Communicating with your children

Parenting’s tough. Anyone who has children knows that. Sometimes it takes more than a larynx and diaphragm to get a message across to our little cherubs. Sometimes it only takes a slight variation of the vernacular to reach them. Here I would like to share with you my little nuggets occasionally bestowed upon our miserable little darlings. I’ve also included the intent of said nuggets. As an intelligent human, I’ll let you figure out the desired result(s).

I can’t even. (The words to describe this tomfoolery have yet to be invented.)

I will violate my parole. (I will find a cop and confess to whatever unsolved crime they are investigating if it means a couple of days to myself.)

I’m out of medals. (How nice of you to put your plate in the dishwasher this time. Your job this week was all of the dishes, which I have done twice in as many days so we could have clean dishes for dinner. I’m sorry you were up texting your friend until 12:30 this morning but some of us had to be responsible people today. But thank you for gracing us with your presence this mor- afternoon.)

I want proof of life. (Come out of your room and into the kitchen so we know you are actually out of bed and dressed.)

We’re not translating “The Divine Comedy”. (You have to write a sentence about a cat. Put on your big boy/girl pants and suck it up.)

Who’s on Dish Duty? (There is a mountain of dishes in the kitchen that’s about to topple over. how about putting the phone down and washing those dishes we told you to do three days ago?)

Who’s on Laundry Duty? (Everyone’s out of clothes again. How about pausing that PS4 and taking a moment to load the washer? It’s alright. You’ll have a solid 15-20 minutes of gaming before you have to move the load to the dryer and reload the washer.)

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Cats and Dogs

There’s never a dull moment in our house. Me, wife, five kids, a cat, a dog… Oh, yeah. We got a dog.

I’m still not sure how this all came about. One of the children, I think, started talking about how nice it would be to have a dog. The Miracles of Christ don’t think we quite have enough going on in our house or in our lives. Between elementary school and high school, we have someone at home learning remotely five days a week. Wife is still working from home. Someone needs to go to school for a tutoring session at least two days a week. On top of that, there are the daily responsibilities of keeping the house clean. Now the children want to throw another pet into the mix.

We got a dog.

I reminded the children of the additional responsibilities that come with a dog, responsibilities that require getting out of bed before 11:00. No problem. They can do it. They will remember to feed the dog and walk the dog. These kids can’t remember to turn off a light when they leave a room but they’ll remember to take care of another animal.

It’s okay. They’ve got this. They’re going to take care of the dog. I voice my concerns, which are seriously considered by all before we start looking online for another member of our ever-growing family. We find a puppy at a local shelter. We sign up for our socially-distanced appointment. Before that, it’s off to the bank for a second mortgage and then the pet store where we buy up every dog supply the store has to offer. Wife and I are a little apprehensive now since there are no guarantees we will go home with a dog.

Who’s walking who?

We get the dog. Doggie hangs out in the office with wife where she whines and whimpers. Wife stops her business presentation to explain to the listeners we have yet another addition to the family and God forbid we don’t give her our undivided attention every waking moment.

Walking the dog is a treat. The dog fights us leaving the house and down the driveway and around the block. I’m trying to get Doggie to pee or poop. I don’t need to clean another mess in this house. Wife and I had a dog before. That dog took out three chew toys, five rugs, two mats, a bookcase, and the entire floor of one room. Some of these casualties are from chewing. Some are from peeing. Wife and I are especially vigilant about walking the dog.

We took Doggie to a check-up to make sure she’s healthy and alright. She has an ear infection. Fun times. The vet said we need to make sure her teeth are clean. The Oppressed has offered to share her toothbrush. I immediately vetoed that offer.

On the plus side, we have a fenced-in yard and our compost pile (We’re such good citizens of the Earth) is also fenced off. We have that to give Doggie a space to run around and expend some energy.

The family, especially the children are excited about this addition, especially one of the Gaggle, who has immediately adopted Doggie as yet another support animal. Speaking of support animals, Kitty is not pleased with this fellow four-legged creature. She is on alert every time she sees Doggie. Bristled fur, arched back, puffy tail. The whole bit. The truth is Puppy is just as scared of Kitty as Kitty is of Puppy. They’re both little timid animals who want protection from the other. What could possibly go wrong?

2020 Hindsight

There’s been a lot of talk about 2020 and how glad people will be to see it leave. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but Coronapalooza isn’t going to disappear when midnight strikes and the ball drops to ring in 2021.

But that’s not why I’m here with you this week. I’m hear to tell you that 2020 hasn’t been all that bad. Not for me, anyway, and I want to share with you the memories of the year that was all about toilet paper, homeschooling, and wi-fi bands that were tested time and time again.

The year 2020 was a year that saw us as a family of five. One left us and two more came. One more came after that and we are now a happy family of seven. We made a jump from dealing with elementary school problems to dealing with teenagers, high school, Driver’s Ed and the multitude of happy experiences and memories that spawned from everything teenager.

Wife finally got one of her wishes. She got to spend more time at home. Granted, she was working from home so it wasn’t exactly ideal, but she didn’t have to fight traffic or deal with coming home after children had gone to bed. I even got to have lunch with her sometimes.

Youth sports got me out of the house with The Boy. We got to spend some time on the baseball diamond where I saw other ways to use a facemask besides protecting your face. Chew toys, sling shots. It’s amazing what kids can do if they’re bored enough. I also spent my time dodging errant throws and thrown bats as well as directing traffic on the base paths and making sure there was one person not chasing a batted ball so the up-and-comers would have someone to throw to as soon as they were done jumping on each other while trying to get said batted ball. Speaking of happy days on the diamond, I would like to take this time to thank a certain neighbor for taking over a couple of times so I could go on vacation with my family.

Vacation. Ah, yes. Vacation. Those glorious weeks spent with my wife, children and my wife’s cousins… and four additional children that belonged to one of those cousins. It was a good time. Swimming and campfires and no wi-fi. I think The Oppressed is still traumatized by the wi-fi-less week. Those therapy sessions are going to be epic.

We spent some time swimming at a nearby beach. We took walks. We dealt with the outdoors and the elements as best we could. It wasn’t Disneyland (our first choice for vacation before the Coronavirus fiasco) but we were able to spent some time together.

Summer vacation ends and we are back to homeschooling and The Homework Wars. We have a small break between homework and dinner where The Boy and I go to flag-football practice. I was an assistant coach. I get another chance to do something with him. The Oppressed has sworn off sports for the rest of her life. I need to find something else to do with her.

Driving lessons. Just one
example of our “fun” this year.

The sports seasons end and the weather gets colder. I move from coaching youth sports to helping one of The Gaggle as they start their driving lessons. There have been plenty of white-knuckle incidents and missed turns and slamming on the brakes when someone realizes halfway through an intersection that there was a stop sign. Good times. We will soon have another child starting Driver’s Ed. My liquor cabinet won’t be empty for a while. The colder weather brings a change to the seasons. We celebrated Thanksgiving. I won’t say how many were there because I’m still not sure what the limits are for gatherings at the time. Whatever they are, I’m sure we were WELL within them.

We gave candy at Halloween. We helped shovel out neighbors. I started to tell my stories to the world about parenting and all of the joys that came along with it. I also took another job writing. A friend of mine took me on to write some feel-good stories about the good people at Northeastern University and their accomplishments. I immediately said yes because I don’t have anything else going on right now. Sounds like fun. It has been.

There was no such fun when I pulled a deck of “Uno” cards out of my Christmas stocking and looked at The Oppressed on Christmas Morning. Playing cards is right under Batting Practice on the list of Cruel and Unusual Punishments she is seeking to have permanently banned. I’m hoping she will change her mind. In the meantime, there will be more stories to tell about me, Wife and our five kids who fill our home with love, memories, and ulcer-inducing stories.

So, what exactly will 2021 bring to us? I have no idea. I’m stuck with you here in 2020. I know there will be three in high school and one wrapping up elementary school and getting ready for middle school. A child in middle school. What could possibly go wrong?

I do have hopes for the new year. One hope is that we can finally get back out to doing normal things. Go out to eat. Take a vacation. Send my children, all five of them, to school full-time. Whatever 2021 brings us, I will be sure to let you know about it. Thank you for being with me this year as I share the ups, downs, and adventures in Parenting. The year 2021 should be an interesting year and, if anything goes wrong, there’s always 2022. Right?

Happy New Year!

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Christmas Spirits… and Wine… and Beer

As you know, I take my drinking very seriously. I fancy myself to be somewhat of an expert on beer. I am still learning about scotch and bourbon but I’ve always thought learning is fun.

During the Christmas season, I always try to read “A Christmas Carol” and one or two other stories of the Season written by Charles Dickens. Christmas in Victorian England seems like a fascinating thing to me and Wife. The Spirit. The decor. One time wife had to go to London on business not long before Christmas. She returned with mini mince pies, Christmas pudding, and some catalogs that featured some dinners you could order and pick up in time for Christmas dinner. Turkey. Goose. Beef. I asked wife if they shipped international orders.

Okay. Back to the drinking. I like drinking and I also like history. I have a book on what they drank during Colonial America. Colonists took what they had and turned it into delightful and delicious concoctions. Everything organic and made from scratch. Ever have a Rattle-Skull? Delicious.

One of my favorite recipe sources.

I first learned about a drink called a “Smoking Bishop” the first time I actually read “A Christmas Carol”. I was intrigued enough to look it up. It looked interesting and easy enough. I made a batch and it was wonderful. I try to make some every year. There are lots of variations on the recipe. I don’t know if there is one “original” recipe but this is the one I use.

Photo: toriavey.com

Speaking of “A Christmas Carol”, Fezziwig served Negus at his Christmas party. I’ve looked for a recipe to this drink. The easiest one calls for a mixture of port wine and boiling water. Add some nutmeg and cinnamon. A little lemon juice. Some suggest you mix the nutmeg and wine and let it sit for an hour or so. I make it and serve immediately with a lemon wedge.

I’m always looking for new things to try. I don’t need to look for reasons. The Miracles of Christ give me plenty of those by themselves. What do you like to make and drink? I know a lot of people like egg nog. Wife has a special recipe for that that has been handed down for generations. I like to sample some of that to. After all, ’tis the Season.

Words of Thanks

Pilgrims

We are celebrating Thanksgiving this year. There are a lot of things, actually everything, that is different this year. Coronapalooza means plans for everyone being disrupted. Instead of travelling to a relative’s house, we will be home. All of us: Wife, children and me will be around a table sharing a Thanksgiving meal. One will complain about having to share potatoes although there is enough to feed more than the number of people at the table. Another will complain about not being able to check his phone. You see, we have a teenager who is a secret agent for the federal government. He can’t tell us what branch or what exactly he does for fear of blowing his cover.

The Oppressed is a vegetarian. I am grateful for this because it means more turkey for me. Then again, there are three teenagers I will have to fight if I want turkey. Wife and I have stocked up on wine and beer, so after the festivities conclude, maybe we can have a drink together and enjoy a second or two without children. We will celebrate and be thankful. What are we thankful for? Plenty. I, for one, am thankful I got to coach baseball and football and got to spend more time with The Boy. The Boy is grateful there is no more games and he can go back to watching YouTube videos instead of wasting his mornings outside playing a stupid game.

I’m grateful for The Oppressed, who is healthy. Years ago, when she entered this world, she was in the NICU for a few days. She made it and now we are blessed with her unsolicited advice on how we can be better parents and constant reminders about how we only had children so we can have people do work around the house and yard.

I’m grateful for our life and house. It’s a house that is filled with children, including our Gaggle of foster children. Our life has allowed us to take in additional children. They have brought with them additional challenges such as road lessons, more school, more classes and more teacher conferences. There’s also the occasional teen melodrama from time to time, but my wife and I are able to see it through and recover just in time for the next melodramatic issue.

I’m grateful for Wife. She is constantly working long, seemingly endless hours to support us. I’m pretty sure her work schedule violates labor laws and I am glad when she can walk away from her work so we can reconnect and see what new crisis is waiting in the wings.

I’m grateful for Kitty, our fierce and wild pet who protects us from dangers outside our home. I’m grateful for her jumping on my lap and keeping me warm.

There is plenty to be grateful for and we will celebrate that this week. We will celebrate among children attacking each other, among insults and other barbs travelling across the table. I just hope the banter and rancor will stop long enough when I want another helping of something. I hope there will be a word or thought of gratitude between the shouts of, “I like your cut, G!” and the incoming slap that immediately follows. Maybe a word of thanks instead of shouting, “You’re so sus!” Maybe a word of thanks instead of the usual words we hear when one is chasing the other around a table or around the house.

I’m also grateful for you visiting. Thank you for reading. Happy thanksgiving.

Little Pilgrims

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Daddy’s Guide to Beer

Last week, I gave you a little glimpse of my thoughts on beer. This week, I thought I’d do a little public service and talk to you about what beers pair nicely with the type of day I’m having. As we head into the middle of November, the weather continues to decline and the temperatures continue to drop. Thanksgiving isn’t far away and Wife and I are still trying to figure out exactly how we’re going to navigate our way through it this year. Yes. Life is throwing us plenty to deal with and an evening pint is certainly appreciated from time to time. Here is what I like to reach for depending on the situation.

Ale – A little light something. Perfect for preparing dinner or cooking. A little something to take the edge off after the Homework Wars.

IPA – There’s nothing wrong with an IPA. I just need a break from the hoppiness from time to time. That doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. It is. A strong IPA can be particularly tasty, especially after a day of homeschooling.

Lager – Not too dark. Not too strong. Another great companion when working over the stove or grill. Also an ideal companion after the children come home from school and are less than motivated to get their homework done.

Stout – A nice, dark beer that’s not too strong. A stout is great at night after the Miracles of Christ have gone to bed after a day of mental anguish filled with, “Drink your juice.” “Read a page,” or, God forbid, “Write a word.” A stout almost makes you take your time with it. It makes you sit back and unwind as you sip it. Sometimes, that’s all you need. Just a couple of minutes to decompress.

Beer. I’ve earned it.

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What am I Drinking?

I am a self-described amateur beer and bourbon critic. I like to sit down and enjoy a glass or bottle of something. Parenthood has made me enjoy this even more.

When I have a beer, I like to have something locally made. Wife and I like to support the local businesses. The local breweries are no exception to this for me. I like the local stuff and I like to drink it at the local places. Coronapalooza has made going out to places a little difficult but I can still buy something and take it home.

What do I buy? Almost anything. I like lagers, ales. I like IPA’s but only so much. Sometimes I need a break from them. I like beers with fruit in them, usually blueberries or cherries. Chocolate. Coffee? Not so much.

Hoppy beers. Strong beers. Not too strong. I have five kids and I need to be up in the morning but a good, strong porter or IPA can make a nice nightcap, especially after a long day.

I want to know about the local stuff. I want to know what people like to drink (or brew). What are people selling? I’m the guy who can talk to the people behind the counter or bar about their beer all day. I used to work at a liquor store. I could help people find something new and I got to learn a thing or two from the sales reps.

I’m a beer geek. I like to research what I’m drinking. I like to see where it came from and what went into it. Where was it made? How far is it from where I am. If I go on vacation, I look for the local stuff first. I’m on Untapped. I like to see what’s out there. I take my vices seriously.

I like to have a little something after dinner. After the kids have gone to bed and as I am unwinding after a day of homework, dishes, and maybe while I’m preparing the next installment of my parenting exploits. I call The Boy my little reason for single-malt. I sometimes remind the kids it’s too early in the day to want to drink. Like most adults. I like to have a drink. I like it the most when it accompanies conversation with other people. One of the neighbors has a bar in their basement that I like to frequent. Before Corona, my family would go to someone’s house on a weekly basis for a pot-luck. We would sit around, have dinner and a drink and relax. We’d blow off steam for a couple of hours by talking about life and our jobs and the kids and how we have ruined their lives during that particular week.

I certainly miss it and I’m sure you do, too. We didn’t light the fire pit too often this past summer. We spent too much time cooped up in the house instead of in backyards and on front porches talking to neighbors and friends. One local place even shuttered its doors due to the ‘Rona. A new group bought it and re-opened it. That’s a good story. A lot of other places throughout the country haven’t been so lucky.

Technology has allowed me to keep in touch with some of my friends. We have a beer while we talk to each other and find out how we’ve been and what we’re doing to see ourselves through this. We can’t wait for this to be over. When it is, I hope you’ll do some celebrating somewhere local. There’s a business that would certainly appreciate it.

Doggie May Care

“Walkin’ the dog. I’m just a-walkin’ the dog.” – Rufus Thomas

My children are enterprising. They are constantly seeking new ways to be productive. Whether it’s a way to make money or a way to give back to the community, they are able to come up with ways to improve the world or save up for something they would like to buy.

The Oppressed is usually the one who comes up with these ideas. She thought it would be a great idea to have a lending library on our property. It has been a hit with people in our neighborhood and beyond. There is barely enough room to fit any more books sometimes. That’s when I make a few selections and make room for the next person who wants to come along and be generous. I help her help others.

The latest idea from The Oppressed was a dog-sitting service. Wife would see messages on social media from people looking for someone to take care of Spot or Fluffy for a period of time while they went away. They would come with their pooch a few days before the vacation so doggie and The Oppressed could get acclimated to each other. It seems like a good fit. Doggie returns at the set time for the actual visit and The Oppressed goes to work.

Wife and I help out at times with the dog. We have a little experience with keeping a dog. We had one a long time ago. This dog was a handful. He singlehandedly pulled up the floor on our porch. He chewed bookcases and clawed doors. I think we went through four rugs in our house because he kept peeing. I could go on and maybe I will in another installment of these fantastic adventures, but the point is that Wife and I are experienced when it comes to dealing with problem pets.

At least three dogs who have entered our house during this endeavor have left us presents at various times in various places in our house. One dog tried to mark his territory on a mesh-wire wastebasket. We’ve also had some other problems like a dog whose breath was so bad we could smell their breath from the opposite side of the room. I bought some dental chews hoping it would help things. It didn’t. The dog would want to lick us and we would have a stench on our legs or feet or whatever doggie was trying to lick. We felt bad about it but the dog smelled bad.

Small dog

I sometimes will join The Oppressed on a morning walk with the dog of the moment. It gives me a chance to get some exercise and talk to the Oppressed. Of course, nothing in going on and everything is great. The same story, by the way, with the older children. You’re obviously reading from half of the greatest parenting combo in the history of Parenting. Our kids are great. Nothing is wrong. They’re great. It’s obvious Wife and I are wonderful.

Of course, there was one time my status as wonderful, perfect parent may have come into jeopardy. In the middle of one night, one particular tenant was being restless and whimpering. Wife and I were woken up by the sounds of a pained pooch. I thought the dog maybe needed to be walked, so I got dressed and took the dog for a walk. This was a strong, good-sized dog and they posed some challenges for me as we saw a skunk up the street. I was able to hold on to the dog and save the both of us from getting sprayed. We returned home. The dog was still whimpering but not as much as before we left the house. Wife and I told The Oppressed about the midnight walk and she was most displeased when she found out I walked the dog without her. This, of course, was her job and she should have been included in this situation that had arisen in the middle of the night. I thought I was doing her a favor. I should have known better.

Big dog