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.

Follow me on Twitter @Greg_the_Brave or join my Facebook page “Drink Your Juice” for more updates.

Dog Days of Winter

We’re all continuing to adjust to the added responsibilities Doggie has brought to us and our happy home. Being a puppy with a small bladder, she needs constant walking day and night. Ever the trooper, wife handles the overnight shifts. I’m gone; oblivious to the world. Wife once told me a story of one of our children climbing on me, crying, hitting me and screaming, “Dad!” I didn’t hear them. Didn’t feel anything. Wife asked, “Didn’t you hear anything?” Umm…. No.

I am, however, awake early in the morning bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready to start the day. I spend these glorious mornings switching laundry, washing dishes, making coffee for me and Wife and pounding the keyboard about my glorious domestic exploits. So, as you read this, remember I woke up early to do this for you. You’re welcome.

If I am to take Doggie for a constitutional, I may or may not have one of the smaller children with me. There was one time The Boy and I were out to walk the dog around the block. There was some slight miscommunication as to how far we were actually going to walk. We both agreed we would walk around the block, but there happens to be a street that runs through the middle of our street. The Boy thought we were going to just walk around our half of the street but me being the taskmaster and architect behind the forced marches at Valley Forge and, closer to home, our own neighborhood after school, I decided we would walk the length of the entire block.

A boy and his dog. Photo by Sam Lion on Pexels.com

Keep in mind, this is the same Miracle of Christ who insists he doesn’t need a jacket in the middle of winter. I had Doggie. If the boy took her, I don’t think we’d ever see either of them again. I would miss the dog and would have to explain to wife what happened to The Boy.

We reach the intersection and The Boy is about to make a turn. I stop at the corner while Doggie sniffs curiously at a patch of grass or asphalt. Something incredible is down there and only she knows what it is. I call to The Boy and tell him we are walking the whole block. He eyebrows furrow. He looks at me with an open mouth. Do I not understand how cold it is? Of course I do. Why else would I invade his privacy everyday by telling him to put on a jacket. I’m not like other parents. I don’t love my children.

The Boy tells me we are curtailing this trek and heading home. It’s cold. There’s a YouTube channel that won’t watch itself. Why would I do this to him. Doggie hasn’t peed yet and I don’t want to clean the floor again. Plus, I’m still trying to work off the fruitcake that was calling my name and seducing me over the holidays. No excuses, says one of the child labor experts. It’s cold and he’s tired. My unfeeling ears hear none of this (They’re cold.) I tell him we need to walk the entire block. The Boy, in a fit of protest, sits down on the ground and removes his boots. Yes. Cold butt. Cold feet. That’ll show me.

We’ve now reached the point where I remind The Boy we could have been home already. He’s tired. He can’t do it. I need to carry him. I tell him I can’t I’m tired. He needs to carry me and walk Doggie.

What we did. (Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com)

The Boy picks up his boots and trudges onward. I’m imagining the story he’s going to have for his teacher at the next Zoom meeting. I interrupt my own train of thought to advise him to put his boots on. It might make his walk easier. After all, he did say he was cold.

What The Boy thinks we did. (Photo by Flo Maderebner on Pexels.com)

We get back home. Doggie has done her business. The Boy stomps his feet to the television where he basks in front of the warm glow of some mind-numbing drivel showing a walkthrough of Roblox or a Nintendo Switch game. As he thaws from the 30-minute session (five of which were actually spent walking), he curses my name and cruelty. He swears he’s going to be a better parent than me. Oaths are made. This resentment only lasts so long as someone, I won’t say who, but someone needs to read to him that night.

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?

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