Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful For The Little Things

This time of year we always take time to be thankful for the things in our lives.
Such as my nephew who announced at the Thanksgiving dinner table years ago, at the age of 3, that he was thankful for his penis.
There was a time in my life when I would have been thankful for the big house I owned, or the new furniture that filled it, or the hot tub in my back yard, or my brand new pickup truck. Or the expensive vacations I was able to take.

But as I've mentioned before, the combination of becoming single again and the craptastic economy over the last four plus years has really brought me back to the basics in terms of what I'm thankful for.

Today, and every day, I'm thankful for...

My beautiful sons, who teach me almost as much as I teach them each day.

The roof over my head. I know firsthand how easily that can be lost.

The food I can provide for my sons.

The job I go to each day, happily, because it is so much better than the alternative.

My friends, perhaps some of the best people on this earth if you ask me.

My family. They have been there for me when I needed it, and even when I didn't.

Being able to see a special someone's smile or hear their laugh, and feel a butterfly in your stomach.

Music. The sweetest sound to my ears, which can soothe my soul easily.
Laughter. The second sweetest sound to my ears. Medicine.

That I was born in the greatest country on this Earth.

The fact that I'm an Iowan. Forever. No matter where I live.

And the list would not be complete without Iowa Hawkeye Football!

As you sit down to feast tomorrow, and begin listing off the things that you are thankful for, let me challenge you with this closing thought.

Why do we only do this one day a year? Why can't every day be Thanksgiving. Because let's face it, each and every day we wake up is a gift to be thankful for in and of itself.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and enjoy the Tryptophan!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Time I Got Sprayed By a Skunk

Growing up, my best friend Jeff and I got into plenty of trouble.

Like the time we decided we were going to build a baseball stadium in the front pasture of his farm. My mom arrived to pick me up and found Jeff sitting on a fence post, yelling at me for what part of the project I had to do next.

Or the time that we decided to add a fireplace to the fort we built right next to the farm's gasoline tanks. A fireplace would be bad enough, but we built a fireplace without a chimney (such things are lost on 10-year-olds). Jeff's mom returned from an errand to find us putting the fire out, wondering if she'd ever be able to leave us alone again.

But there is no memory with Jeff more vivid than the time we got sprayed by a skunk.

It started innocently enough. We were going snake hunting.

Jeff lived on a nice farm just outside the city limits. A rolling piece of land was our playground. And on this day our chosen form of entertainment was snake hunting.

So he and I built our weapons of choice. We whittled long sticks to have a spear on one end. Primitive, yet effective. Jeff's two older cousins joined us in our hunt. We set out and found a series of holes along a hillside path that looked like they needed further investigation.

When we came upon a slightly larger hole, we looked at each other, and Jeff said "I think this might be a really big snake living here."

We all decided the best tactic was to attack as a team. As we moved closer, a set of eyes peered out of the hole at us. "Wow, that's a big garter snake," I remember thinking to myself.

The next thing we knew, a little black cat with white stripes came bolting out of the hole and immediately turned around to run back into the hole.

Or so it appeared.

This was no cat. This was Pepe Friggin' Le Pew. A skunk that was not at all happy that we woke him up from a nap looking for snakes.

Before we knew it, we were all sprayed by Pepe. And it burned our eyes. And stunk. Worse than nearly anything else I've ever smelled in my life.

We made our way slowly back to Jeff's house. As we arrived, Jeff knocked on the kitchen window to tell his mom to come outside. Upon learning of our situation, she quickly called my mom. My mom arrived and took Jeff's cousin and me back home. She made us ride in the back of the station wagon. Many moms may have made their kids walk home.

A few tomato juice baths later, and many repeated loads of clothes washing, my world returned to normal. But in that short time, I learned a very valuable life lesson.

Don't go hunting snakes if you're not ready to be sprayed by a skunk.

Monday, November 8, 2010

From The Mouths of Mini-Me's

*WARNING: This blog entry contains material that may be inappropriate for those who have not been around young boys who like to discuss topics like testicles and poop. Please do not read it if you are scared by the mere mention of those topics.*

So I'm sitting in the living room, minding my own business, because that's how I roll.

My mini-me's and I had just finished discussing the fact that their neighbor friend at their mom's house was going to be having surgery because one of his testicles (not the term they used) was larger than the other.

They giggled as they told me of course. And I tried to explain to them that while the topic can be funny, not when someone has to have surgery for it. My oldest mini-me then asked me "Dad, if one of mine is a little bigger than the other does that mean I have a problem?" I told him I didn't think so (he's my hypochondriac).

So a few minutes later from the bedroom I hear my youngest mini-me yell out "Daddy!"

"What, Gman?"

"My balls are dangling and they look like a butt crack."

At which point I realized that I was doomed.

Which made me think about a few other times over the years that these two have made me wonder how much karma could come back to bite me in the butt for the things I said as a child to my mom and dad.

There was the time a couple years ago, when they were complaining about whatever horrid dinner I cooked that night. I pulled a "I sound like my father" moment, and exclaimed "You know there are kids starving in China who would love to have that food!"

My oldest mini-me shrugged his shoulders at me and said "Well good, then lets just send it to them."


Or the time we sat down to fill out a fun survey together, and when the question came up "What's something your Dad is not good at doing?"

And my oldest mini-me answered with a crap-eating grin, "Picking out girlfriends."

Freaking. Doomed.

Then there was the time shortly after I moved into my own townhouse following my divorce. My mini-me's had a propensity to use the toilet and not take care of flushing on a regular basis. As I walked into the half-bathroom off my kitchen, I noticed a package left for me in the toilet.

I walked back out to the living room and interrupted a very intense Lego construction project. "Hey guys, which one of you left that in the toilet without flushing?"

Both mini-me's in unison announced "Not me!"

The only response I could think of was, "Oh, so it must have been a ghost."

About an hour later, as we were driving to the store, my youngest said, in his still little boy voice, "Daddy, I fink I know who pooped in your toiwet."


"It was a goat."

Short pause.

"Or a pirate."


I'm definitely doomed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Get Out And VOTE!

I tend to listen to advice from my mom.

Two things you don't bring up at the dinner table: politics and religion.

And in this virtual dinner table we call the interwebz, I tend to follow those rules as well.

But since I brought the topic up, let me first tell you I'm a complete mish-mash politically speaking.

I've been a registered Republican, and I've been a registered Democrat. I've worked for campaigns for both parties. I've left both parties when extremists inside the party push out those who are more moderate.

And I've become very jaded about the system.

Good people don't run for office anymore, and the few that do end up being corrupted by the money/lobbying game soon enough.

Getting re-elected has become a full-time job for nearly every politician, as opposed to doing the right thing. Or doing anything.

And the political debate in this country has become a shouting match full of name-calling, finger-pointing and half-truths.

And both sides of the aisle have become so obsessed with maintaining their power hold, they've forgotten how to work together and compromise on the things we can all agree on.

Yes, the American political machine is a bit like a hot dog...I don't really want to see what goes into it.

But I still vote.

Because the day I stop caring enough to vote is the day that our already fractured system may as well just be declared obsolete.

So I don't care who you vote for, or why you vote for them.

But for God's sake, just vote.

It's all we've got left.