Archive | December, 2012

The Xmas I Nearly $#!7 Myself

20 Dec

letter I‘m going to take you back to the Christmas of 2011. My then 5yo daughter had in her closet a treasure chest filled to maximum capacity with princess dresses. Every Disney princess was of course represented, as well as all sorts of other princess-y iterations of the same theme. They were all tattered and torn in a “velveteen rabbit” sort of way. For half her life she’d spent every day in one princess dress or another. Most days she had on 3 or 4 different dresses at different times during the day. But in recent months the princess dresses had stayed in the treasure chest. My little girl was growing out of her dress-up-phase.

We all gathered at the cousins’ house, as we do every Christmas Eve, for dinner and presents with that half of the family (Christmas day is typically spent with my relatives). When it’s time to open gifts we go round-robin, child by child, so that everyone gets center stage. We made it through a few rounds when it came to Episode IV’s turn again. She picked a big box from her grandma, and pulled off the wrapping paper to reveal a non-descript drab cardboard box.

She opened the lid and looked inside in such a way that nobody else in the room could see what was in the box. After furrowing her brow while examining the contents, the light bulb suddenly clicked on. Her eyes were as wide as I have ever seen them, and the smile growing on her face showed every one of her missing teeth. Without saying a single word, smile still stretched across her face, she picked up the box with its contents and ran out of the room to – who knew where – somewhere else in the house. We all sort of looked at each other amused. Nobody except grandma knew what was inside the box. We carried on with the unwrapping.

Fifteen minutes later I was engrossed in a conversation with my brother-in-law when I heard Episode IV’s grandmother say “Oh my goodness!” The entire room reacted the same. The look on my brother-in-law’s face cut our conversation short and I turned around to see this looking at me:

Game. Set. Match. FML

“Hi, Daddy!”

“Hi, Daddy” she said in a playful voice that made it clear she knew *EXACTLY* what she was doing to me at that very moment. She smiled over her shoulder and held my eyes in hers. While everyone in the room was ooh-ing and ahh-ing, all I could hear was the blood pumping in my ears. There was my little princess – my little pumpkin – my first born child – my only daughter – the sweet little baby that I brought home from the hospital – the little girl who made me a daddy… in THAT!!! She was watching me, waiting for my reaction, knowing full well how it was turning my brain inside out. And that smile on her face… that smile said everything.

It was one of those crucial parenting moments when you have to react in just the right way. Every molecule in my body was on the brink of total thermonuclear explosion. To my credit though I recognized the moment for what it was. Thermonuclear explosion wasn’t going to do any good here. Instead I sucked it up and said “Oh, honey. You look soooo beautiful. Soooo grown-up. Wow. You’d better thank Dabba for that beautiful dress.”

Check out Grandma cracking up at me in the background.

Check out Grandma cracking up at me in the background.

She did her little fashion show for the entire room, getting rave reviews from all the critics there. Although I don’t remember it – for me the whole room went dark and all I could see was my 5yo daughter walking around in THAT – I’m told that the rest of the room got as much amusement out of watching her as they did watching my reaction. Although I didn’t remember taking it, there’s a great picture of Episode IV wearing the outfit, with my mother-in-law, the giver of the gift, cracking up at me in the background.

I stayed calm. I held it together. But I assure you, just under the surface, this is what was going on:

HULKSMASH

Some of you right now may be thinking “Man, DorkDaddy sure is a drama-queen”. All I have to say to you is this:

Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Bruce Banner and gamma rays ain’t got nothing on the father of a 5yo daughter in a wedding dress.

DADDY SMASH!!!!

-DD

Wabbit Seaon! …No, ELF SEASON!!

19 Dec

letter Most of the world is painfully aware of the “Elf on the Shelf” phenomenon by now. For those of you like my co-worker, who is painfully tech-illiterate (therefore no Facebook/Twitter/etc.) and became a mommy for the first time at 48 y.o. (therefore no “young” mommy friends) the “Elf on the Shelf” is a relatively new Xmas tradition. If you’re into it, it’s something fun to do with your kids to build holiday memories for a lifetime. If you’re a Grinch, it’s another contrived holiday consumerism designed to wring even more money out of people by selling even more junk that parents feel obligated to buy because all the other parents are doing it.

Now available with two "X" chromasomes.

Now available with two “X” chromasomes.

Whatever camp you come from, the premise is this: Santa’s elf has come to your house to keep an eye on your kids and report back to the big man. He comes with a little book telling his story in which your kids are instructed to name the elf and never, ever touch him because he’d lose his magic. Then, each night while the kids sleep, the elf moves from place to place throughout the house and the kids have to find him every morning when they wake up. Today he’s on the Christmas tree. Tomorrow he’s hanging from the light fixture. The next day he’s sitting on the mantle. Etc, etc…

Know your Elves.

Know your Elves.

It’s a harmless bit of holiday fun that kids seem to enjoy. I’m happy to report that this year they even released a female version of the Elf. A word to the wise: If you’re going to do “The Elf on the Shelf” every year, be careful. When I was recently away travelling for work, and UnDorkMommy was swamped with all three kids by herself, I got back to my 6yo reporting “Daddy, the Elf on the Shelf didn’t move for three days while you were gone!”

At least the Elf wasn't *IN* anyone's undies.

At least the Elf wasn’t *IN* anyone’s undies.

As you might imagine, the potential for creativity with Elf-placement is tremendous. This morning my kids woke up to find that the elf had removed their Xmas stockings from the fireplace and replaced them with their underwear. Apparently our elf was inspired by my old friend Karen, who posted a picture on facebook of the same thing that happened in her house early this morning (before my kids were up). It seems Karen’s elf was, in turn, inspired by pinterest the previous day. Yes, I’m aware that my boxers looks like a freakin’ circus tent next to theirs. Yes, I’m aware that UnDorkMommy’s stocking is the only one still there. We don’t call her “UnDorkMommy” for nothing.

 

Spend any time on social media sites this time of year and you see all sorts of creative iterations of “Elf on the Shelf” placement. But as you might imagine, some people out there are a little more… creative… than others. Depending on how warped you want your children to grow up, the possibilities are endless. Babyrabies.com had their 2nd annual Inappropriate Elf Contest this year. There is an entire Facebook page dedicated to “Naughty Elf On The Shelf Photos”. For those of you out there with a demented side, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite “Elf on the Shelf” photos I’ve come across this year. By all means, feel free to share your own.

…and if you really want to freak out your kids, have ‘em sit next to you as you scroll down.

-Dork Dad

Wonder which audience Target is targeting *guffaw*

Wonder which audience Target is targeting *guffaw*

Hermie's grandson.

Hermie’s grandson.

Specimine from Snape's shelf.

Specimine from Snape’s shelf.

Elf in the off-season

Elf in the off-season

North Pole dancer.

North Pole dancer.

This is not part of the DVD that comes with the book.

This is not part of the DVD that comes with the book.

Hello Clarise.

Hello Clarise.

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz...

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz…

Don't know why this is creepy? Google wat Kevin Clash has been up to in the news lately.

Don’t know why this is creepy? Google wat Kevin Clash has been up to in the news lately.

 

 

 

-Dork Dad

Name That Tune

12 Dec

letter we are undeniably influenced in innumerable ways by our parents and their own sensibilities. When we were kids, at bath time, my dad would sit down with his banjo and play for us all his favorite music from his childhood. In his day folk music was huge, so we grew up with, for our generation at least, a better than average knowledge of Jim Croce, The Tokens and The Kingston Trio. I’ll bet there aren’t too many people in the world younger than 40 who can sing

This is my dad's dorkism. Not mine.

This is my dad’s dorkism. Not mine.

all the lyrics to “Tom Dooley,” “Tijuana Jail” and “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” (all on vinyl by the way) For better or worse, my Dad’s love of folk music imprinted on us, and even as adults my sisters and I all have “The Kingston Trio’s Greatest Hits” in our iTunes library (as well as an inexplicable understanding of short sleeved, pinstriped shirts paired with high-water pants).

Fast forward a generation and the exact same scenario is playing out in my own household. In my youth I loved 80’s glam rock and film scores, and since I’m usually the one in charge of the MP3 library at home, those genres are already leaving their indelible mark on my own kids. Episode V in particular will ask for Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Journey by name (so proud). But in my life (and in our house) it’s the film scores that trump everything. John Williams. James Horner. Bernard Herrmann. Danny Elfman. Hans Zimmer. Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Carl Stalling. Howard Shore. This is the musical talent that I geek out to and by extension, at least for the time being, so do my kids.

Superman-music

On occasion we like to play a little game at home. Similar to the oldschool “Name That Tune”, I get Episodes IV and V around the computer and I play a musical track, usually from a movie, that they should recognize. The two take turns trying to identify the music, and see how fast they can get it right. For something that must sound incredibly lame to you readers, the game is surprisingly effective at keeping my kids entertained.

“Beauty And The Beast!” “How To Train A Dragon!” “Star Wars!” “Looney Tunes!” “That Fantasia one with Mickey and the wizard!”

Episode V is freakishly good at this game. While his big sister can pretty well call the music from movies she’s seen, in just a few notes Episode V can identify music from movies he has never seen, and only knows because one time he asked me what it was from and I told him. “Batman!” (Tim Burton) “Batman again!” (Christopher Nolan) “Back To The Future!” “Star Trek!” “Indiana Jones!” “James Bond!” At 4 years old this kid has no idea who the heck Indiana Jones or James Bond, but he can sure identify the music with just a few stanzas. It’s freakish, savant-level stuff. Cool, but freakish.

Anyway, this morning as we were all getting ready to head off to work/school I had Pandora playing on my iPhone in my shirt pocket. The kids were guessing the music while they were getting their clothes on. “Batman!” says Episode V.

“No son, that’s to a movie called ‘Gladiator.’ I don’t think you’ve heard that one before.”

“Oh. But it’s by the same person who made the ‘Batman’ music.”

I stared at him, my mouth agape. “Yes. Yes it is, son. Good job. Wow.” (Hans Zimmer by the way)

Howard Shore’s score to “The Lord of the Rings” cycled next through Pandora, and both my kids got it right away. No, they haven’t seen those movies yet either. Remember the rule. Then we got to talking about how the new “Grown-up Hobbit” movie is about to come out, more or less on DorkDaddy’s birthday. Awash in the youthful, exuberant dorkiness of the moment, talking about the new “Grown-up Hobbit” movie and DorkDaddy’s impending birthday, Episode V blurts out “Mommy and I bought the grown-up Hobbit…”

“Gaaaaaaargh!!” came the urgent voice of UnDorkMommy from the other room, cutting off Episode V in mid-sentence. “That’s supposed to be a secret!”

“Oops,” said Episode V, putting his hands over his mouth to mask the sheepish smile of someone who knows a secret. “Sorry, Mommy.”

There are two morals to this story:

1)      If you want to share your inner dork with your kids, there’s no better way than to do it through music.

2)      If you went out and bought the special edition score to a certain movie that is opening more or less on your DorkHusband’s birthday, who happens to be a huge fan of film scores and is well aware of the exact date that certain soundtrack is available for purchase, it’s probably best not to let your 4 year old in on the secret.

Howard Shore conducting the LOTR Symphony

Howard Shore conducting the LOTR Symphony

Here’s hoping you all have a very 48 frames/second weekend.

-Dork Dad

Captain Solo

7 Dec

letter Three nights ago I read my kids a bedtime story, snuggled a little, and then kissed them before putting them to bed. Today is Friday, and I haven’t seen them since.

On rare occasion my work takes me away on travel. This past Wednesday I was up extra early for my weekly two hour drive to teach at the dental school (nicely extended to three hours thanks to inclimate weather). From there I went straight to the airport to catch a flight to a two day continuing education course. Now here I sit, heartsick, alone in a cheap hotel, in front of my laptop, feeling emptier than I can ever remember feeling in my life.

Carb loading -- and protien, and fat, and garlic.

Carb loading — and protien, and fat, and garlic.

As often as I grouse at home about not having a moment to organize a single solitary thought for myself, after three nights of nothing but thoughts to myself I’m struck by the irony of how unsatisfying they were. Sure, when it started I thought I’d make the best of it, loading up on carbs (and protein, and fat, and hops, and garlic) at the airport before my flight. I’m too old to eat that sort of garbage with any regularity, but I was batchin’ it for a few days so I thought I’d indulge. I should have taken the resulting gastro-intestinal distress as an omen.

I felt the tugs at the heartstrings when I finally made it to the hotel – checking in without my family. I set my alarm, crawled under the rough, paper thin sheets (alone), and watched bad late-night on unfamiliar channels. Up early the next day I went off to do my thing without the usual kiss from my sweet, wonderful, understanding wife to send me on my way. A quick phone call, a failed facetime effort and a few short words from my daughter were all I got that night, and they weren’t nearly enough.

Batman needs a family

Batman needs a family

Thursday nights are usually the tough ones at home. UnDorkMommy’s mom spends the night at my sister-in-law’s house, and on top of getting all three of our kids put to bed we also have to tend to my mother-in-law’s pets. When it’s me and UnDorkMommy, we can handle it no problem. But the thought of her having to manage all those kids without me, and her mother’s pets on top of all of that… all I can think of is how she shouldn’t have to do that all by herself. I should be there. Friday movie night – I should be there.

Superman has to go away on work sometimes too.

Superman has to go away on work sometimes too.

So again here I sit, alone in a strange town, in a cheap hotel, my wish granted. I have all the time I need to organize a thought to myself. And the price for that thought? Three nights without seeing or hugging my kids. Three nights alone in thin, rough sheets without putting my arms around my wife. I sit here watching bad TV on unfamiliar channels in an unfamiliar town, and I feel emptier than I can ever remember feeling.

Go home, Batman.

Go home, Batman.

I’ve always known exactly who I am, but at this moment I feel who I am especially acutely. I need my family. Say what you will about whether or not it’s healthy to define yourself by your family, but there it is. I need them. They are who I am. They are all I can think about. Three nights away from them and I’m completely empty. I ache for them.

Call me lame. Make fun if you like. But I love my wife and kids so much, three days without them hurts and the hurt is as real as anything. I’ve got one more night in a strange bed with thin, rough sheets and then I’m off to the airport first thing in the morning.

I love you kids. I’ll see you tomorrow. I’m coming home.

-Dork Dad

(I generally detest emo-crap blogposts like this. I promise, no more for a long time)

It’s A Skymall Christmas

3 Dec

letter At one time or another we’ve all been stuck on an airplane with nothing to do but pick up and thumb through the mangy old Skymall catalog crammed into the seat pouch by your knees. Generally it’s better used for comic relief than actual shopping. [[Seriously? Does anyone really buy this garbage?]]

Skymall. Ooooh yeah.

Skymall. Ooooh yeah.

But any true dork knows that somewhere between the front and back cover are usually 5 or 6 pages dedicated to the dorks among us. There’s always a section that sells movie-accurate prop replicas from whatever action/adventure/fantasy franchise is hot at the moment. Geeks can thrill at owning a Green Lantern ring exactly like the one that Ryan Reynolds wore in the movie. Want an authentic Christopher Nolan-era, sterling silver battarang? No problem. For $35.95 they’ve got that. Were you absolutely spellbound by the tiara that Kate Blanchett wore as Galadriel in “The Lord of the Rings”? You can have that too. I’ve never actually ordered anything from Skymall, but I always enjoy looking to see what’s new since the last time I was on a plane.

As it turns out, those movie-accurate prop replicas in Skymall are the product of one independent company called The Noble Collection, and naturally they have their own website. That’s right. Now dorks the world over can shop Skymall-style without cramming into a crowded 747.

How does that relate to raising well-adjusted children in the tradition of all-things dork, you ask? It applies on two fronts.

1)      We recently finished reading the first Harry Potter book, and at long last the kids got to watch the Bluray extended edition for movie night. Ever since, Episode V has been trying to use “wingardium leviosa” to levitate his dinner off of his plate and into his mouth. Needless to say it hasn’t worked for him yet.

2)      “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” have always loomed large around our house. Though my kids haven’t seen Peter Jackson’s trilogy (they’re way too young – and they have to read the books first), they have seen the Rankin/Bass animated version of “The Hobbit” enough times to know it by heart. They are also well aware of the fact that the “grownup” version of the movie is coming out in a couple weeks. Combine that with the fact that DorkDaddy usually buys Episode IV an age-appropriate piece of jewelry for Xmas every year and you can connect the dots.

The One Ring... but it'll cost you.

The One Ring… but it’ll cost you.

This year for Xmas, thanks in large part to The Noble Collection, under the tree my children will find two special little gifts – one to Episode V from Olivander (he’s the guy in the Harry Potter universe who gives all the wizards and witches their wands) and one to Episode IV from Smeagol (Smeagol/Gollum held on to The One Ring for 500 years before it came to Bilbo Baggins). Sadly Episode IV’s movie-accurate ring doesn’t turn you invisible when you put it on. Just as well though. But wave Episode V’s wand and the tip lights up (LUMOS!). Wave it again and it goes out. Sweet!

Straight from Olivander's.

Straight from Olivander’s.

This'll do the trick.

This’ll do the trick.

For those of you who go window shopping at The Noble Collection’s website after reading this blog, please note this disclaimer: I most definitely did *NOT* buy my daughter a $595.95 10K solid gold deluxe edition ring that she will likely lose on the playground within a week of returning to school. The gift to her from Smeagol will have in it a ring and chain in a velvet pouch that came with the deluxe edition of a Lord of the Rings video game I bought almost 6 years ago (bought it for the soundtrack… not for the chintzy ring and chain). The pouch has been sitting on my desk at work just waiting to be discovered by the right little Hobbit. It’s time has come. The ring wants to be found.

-Dork Dad

I couldn't resist.

I couldn’t resist.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,120 other followers

%d bloggers like this: