My Father, My Hero, My Captain, My Friend, My Mentor

Farfar5 years – At times it feels like an eternity. At times it feels like yesterday.

My beloved father passed away in April 2010, only a few weeks after my third child was born.  Thankfully he got to meet her during a quick Skype call, and I know he’s watching over her and the rest of the family from wherever he is.

I’m confident I’ve felt his presence many times during the last few years, as my little family have worked through our new life challenges and if I have been in a situation where his guidance would have been of great help.

In those moments, I have felt his calm hand on my shoulder; as if he was reaching down to say “it’ll be alright, and just do what your heart tells you”.

I miss him very much.  I know my sister and mother miss him too.  It is a great loss and we have been through too many things in recent years.  Some less positive, but even the negative moments have made us stronger as a family – even across the ocean from USA to little Denmark.

It is wonderful to think that my kids still remember farfar.  Not necessarily what he looked like, but his kindness and warm person he was.  When thinking of the few moments my children got to spend with him, and how the cherished these, it makes me a little teary.

As we originates from the vikings, it’s only appropriate to share an old viking prayer –

Lo, There do I see my Father

Lo, There do I see my Mother and

My Brothers and my Sisters

Lo, There do I see the line of my people back to the beginning

Lo, They do call to me

They bid me take my place among them in the halls of Valhalla

Where thine enemies have been vanquished

Where the brave shall live Forever

Nor shall we mourn but rejoice for those that have died the glorious death.

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The Rock

Once upon a time, while enjoying my childhood summer, I got trapped on a rock for what felt hours or even days.  It was actually rather traumatic experience, and I’ve been afraid of rocks ever since :-)

Setting the scene

cottageMany years ago, during the amazing 70s, my parents bought a small summer house cottage on a small idyllic island called Strynø. It was like taken from one of HC Andersen’s fairy tales. Small cottages with thatched roofs, cobblestone roads, wonderful fields and small village.  The village centre had a super market, school, municipal building, and supermarket-icecream parlour-post office (all in one building).  You could only get there by ferry and it only sailed a few times a day.  If you ran out of groceries, you had to live of berries :-)

We normally went during late spring and most of the summer.  The family Renault 16 (yellow of course) was packed to the brim with supplies and clothes.  In Denmark, you can’t be too sure you get hot weather during the summer, so had to be prepared for anything possible.

While visiting the summer house, we kids spent 98% of the day outside.  Danish parenting is somewhat different, as we (kids) are left to fend for ourselves and learn as we go.  Meals are served during the day, and my parents would open the door, tell us not to come back until dinner time.  We had time to explore, climb, play ball, eat berries and just be kids … without too much adult supervision.  IT WAS AWESOME :-)

Anyway, during one of these wonderful hot summer days, us kids went on a stroll and ended up by a huge field at the end of a dusty dirt road.  There was a big fence with a gate around the field, but that only means kids are allowed, or it meant something was so big and scary that it had to be locked away.

… but who cares about a gate when we can crawl over it and run in the field.  And so I did!

I was the first one not over, but through the fence, and ran laughing across the field with the sun baking down on me.  I turned around to shout for my sister and friends, only to discover that they were still by the fence/gate.  They had a strange look of fear and I could vaguely hear them shout “RUUUUUUUUUUNNNNN” (in Danish of course) and pointing at something.

My eyes followed their frantic pointing and suddenly I saw this beast with horns come galloping towards me.  I let out a loud yelp, turned and legged it towards a giant rock in the middle of the field.  The beast was gaining on me and I could hear it’s heavy breathing and hoofs hitting the ground hard.

ramboramI jumped the last few yards onto the rock – to safety – and turned around to stare right into the angry eyes of a ram.  He was not a happy camper.

Perhaps he thought I was trying to hook up with his lady sheep or just didn’t like intruders.

I shouted to my sister for help, only to be greeted by hysterical laughter and them pointing at me sitting on a rock, pinned down by an angry beast protecting his turf.

After what felt like hours, probably only a few minutes, my sister finally went for help. Another “hour” went by and I heard the wonderful voice of my dad.

My hero, my saviour had arrived.  My dad can beat and scare off any monstrous ram, or other vile creature of the devil.  Or so I thought.  He was muttering some elaborate escape plan with another dad who had come to help, but I wasn’t seeing any progress in getting me off the bloody rock.

Without water for several “hours” my body was getting weaker and I was not sure I would survive this.  In a panic moment, I attempted to crawl down from the rock, only to be greeted by the ram.  He had absolutely no intentions of letting me survive this.

Suddenly I saw the other dad at the other end of the field, shouting for the ram.  It worked and it started to run towards him.  A few seconds later, my dad was next to.  As he reached for me, the ram suddenly turned and starred a us.  No time to waste, my dad yanked me off the rock and started to run with me on his back.

gimliMy dad was not built for running, a bit like Gimli with short legs, but he was going so fast that his legs were a blur to me.  I could see the ram running after us, and gaining valuable ground.

As we finally reached the gate, my dad threw me over it and jumped up to climb over.  The ram hit the gate and then started to eat the grass my sister was feeding the sheep.  So much for a vicious smoke breathing beast!

So, I learned my lesson.  Never jump a gate to a fenced off field.  If you do, be sure to wear runners and large bunch of grass.

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My Childhood Stories

7080My kids are very keen on hearing more from when I was a kid.  Stories about their grandparents (farmor and farfar), my childhood adventures and why I’m so silly at times.

What better way than writing these short stories and share them with the World.

I will be releasing these adventures using the ‘childhood’ category and #mychildhood tag.

It will be proof that I survived both the #70s and #80s without electronics and smartphones.  There is a life without these gadgets although it is hard to fathom these days.

The morale of my life stories?

Share your stories with your kids will hopefully make them appreciate what we have today, not be afraid of the great outdoors and (fingers crossed) avoid making the same mistakes I made as a kid.

In the end, it just to share and generate laughs :-)   YOLO

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The Blob Reborn

blobIn 1958 and 1988 a classic horror was made (and re-made) called The Blob.  It was in reality a pretty shitty movie, but I still enjoyed watching the odd mesmerizing blob rolling over its victims.

Almost another 30 years have passed and I have prevented the return of the Evil Blob.

The joys of being a father and husband, and home owner, comes with a long list of responsibilities.  I’m not even going to attempt to share this lengthy list with you, as I’m sure you are fully aware of said responsibilities.

One of these involves cleaning the bathroom sinks, and is one of my less favourite activities.  Not that many house chores are a delight, but this one will eventually end up on Dirty Jobs.

To cut a very long story short.  Living with girls have a small hygienic side effect, especially if the girls have longer hair than Kojak.  As they spend time in the bathrooms to get ready for the day, then obviously groom themselves while looking in the mirror.  The mirror is strategically placed above the sink.

Ever so often your bathroom sink becomes clogged up and you might as well clean it regularly to avoid build up – or feel the wraith of your partner as it starts to smell from the sink.

sinkHonestly, I hadn’t cleaned any of the sink drains since moving in to the house almost a year ago, and the water was not leaving the sink quickly.  In fact, it was at times not draining, only to be followed with a few vile bubbles popping with a nasty smell of sewage.

The best way to clean drain is by taking off the trap, and clean it with a bottle-brush.  Please make sure to place a bucket underneath the trap, to catch water and gunk.  Yes, there will be plenty of odd smelling water and gunk.

Two out three sinks went rather well.  Not too much gunk, although I did get sprayed with foul-smelling water as I pulled out the bottle-brush.

The last and most dreaded drain was the kids’ sink.

As I disassembled the trap, and gently pulled it away, I was greeted by a flood of brown smelling water sitting in the trap.  The stench filled up the cabinet.  I was seeing strange colours.

The trap suddenly dropped and a ginormous hair-blob-gunk thingy landed on my hand.  It slowly slid down my fingers, stayed there for a few seconds before sliding off into the bucket.

I was horrified.  I swear I felt small bites and something stinging on my skin.  Not too sure what organism it was, but it was the Blob Reborn.  I quickly grabbed it with some paper and dropped it into the toilet.  As it flushed I could hear scraping sounds as if it was trying to survive.

Anyway, it’s dead now.  It’s probably roaming the local sewers swallowing rats and alligators.  Hopefully it doesn’t come back to haunt me for Halloween.

It’ll one a while before I dare to attempt that chore again.  My hand is still scared.  The ‘joys’ of having girls :-)

Doing the drains yourself does save you a few hundred dollars each time, so it is worth it.

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Technical Affair

elcoIt was an odd feeling when I drove my trusted El Camino to another mechanic.  Ever since I bought the beast, I have been seeing the same mechanic.  He knew her inside out and treated her really well.  I even got a discount on different services, and sometimes a freebie.

But, having moved 20 miles away, I felt it was difficult to commit to a long distance relationship, and had to look at alternative offerings.

Recently I was forced to going to another mechanic.  One of my tires was flat and it was clear I needed new tires.

I frantically searched for local mechanics and read all the reviews, before finally deciding to go meet the new prospective mechanic.  It was almost like a real interview during the first visit. I simply had to get a feel for the new place before trusting them with the beast.

The date was settled and I brought the El Camino to the shop.  At first I was reluctant to hand over the keys, and I suddenly burst out “change her oil too“.  Not too sure what happened, but I dropped my guards and opened up.  The mechanic smiled and I went home.

A few hours later I got the call.  I could pick her up.

It was like I had cheated on my mechanic, who probably was wondering what he had done wrong since I hadn’t been back from months.  Is it normal to feel guilty about changing mechanic?

I consider this a one-off affair and hope my trusted mechanic will take us back!  It was just an oil change and new tires on the front.  It wasn’t serious :-)

The Mechanic 2 Resurrection Movie

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Shotgun & Smartphone

guns-and-dadsI can’t believe how time flies.  It seems like yesterday when my lovely daughter turned five and hugged my knees.  She couldn’t reach much higher at that point, but it was a full tiny bear hug.

Now she has started middle school, purple braces, small purse and conscious about her appearance.  She has to look sharp in the morning, and as a result she now spends most part of 40 minutes in the bathroom before running down the stairs and out the door to catch the school bus.

Joining the middle school also opens up the possibilities of joining a huge variety of clubs. And of course, my little girl wants to join the jazz band, and also made it to the swim team.

Unfortunately this means that she will stay after school at times, to practice with the band, and some evenings to practice with her swimming technique.  And, not to mention her staying late on Thursdays to participate in math club.

The school has, and rightfully so, a strict policy on using mobile phones during school hours.  To be honest, I think it’s brilliant and kids should not need to chat, update Facebook, play games or call each other while in school.

However, as a parent, I want to be able to reach her, and I want her to contact us if her plans changes.

So, I succumbed and hooked her iPhone up with a SIM card.  But, we also enabled AT&T Smart Limits for her new phone number, so we can monitor her account.  It gives a little more control, but I still can’t prevent her from talking to boys.  With a SIM enabled iPhone, this could quickly escalate and the only way around this is to enroll her in the local convent.

But, I’m a modern man and father, so I simply have to monitor emails closer and introduce my Remington shotgun in case a boy stands on the porch one day serenading my daughter.  Not that I mean much harm, but I will explain some basic science to him.

"You can run fast son, but my shotgun shells will run faster"

before-you-date-my-daughter-shirt-previewI can’t help being over-protective of my daughters.  If any boy wants to take her to the movies, then he has to consider the consequences if he makes her upset.  It’ll take about 3-5 years to gain my trust, and I will be chaperoning (under cover of course) the first 25 dates.  He will know true fear if I catch him doing something inappropriate.

So, dear future-son-in-law, consider your plans and your future wisely.  If you hurt my little girl in any shape or form, know this (famous Liam Neeson lines)

"I will find you and I will hurt you!"


A protective father

PS – I know how to track your activities and locations on the internet.  I have a massive garden and live in the mountains.  I believe in the 1st amendment and have recently started trap shooting – the odds are against you :-)

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An All American Family Event

rocklandbouldersWe recently did something really traditionally American. We attended a minor league baseball games, supporting the local Rockland Boulders.

Our daughter had won tickets to a game, and was going to throw the first pitch.  It was part of a school challenge, and she won for having read most books.  Super cool and super proud.

As it turned out, it was actually a Guinness Book of Records attempt too, as they were going to have 126 kids throw the first pitch at the same time.  That meant that her and I were going to be on the actual pitch, in front of the crowd.  Very cool indeed :-)

I’ve attended a few New York Yankees games, but it is so boring to sit through 9 innings, drinking expensive bottled beers ($10 per bottle) and attempt to keep the kids entertained.  Don’t get me wrong, Yankee Stadium is an amazing stadium and a worthwhile visit.

Rockland Boulders stadium is much better and more family friendly.  They still have the less healthy fast foods, but they also have more activities for the kids.  And the seats are much better.  In fact, the kids loved going there and we even enjoyed the game.

We will absolutely be going back to watch Rockland Boulders again.  Thanks for a great evening Rockland Boulders.

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Stick Sex

While doing some serious gardening the other day with my wife, preparing to sew new seeds in the kitchen garden, we witnessed something amazing and yet disturbing.

I’m sure 78% of my readers will place to many sexual thoughts into the above paragraph, trying to link it to the corny header of this post.  This post has nothing to do with intimate moments we (my wife and I) have.  It’s a blog about 50 Shades of Nature.

As we were trimming the hedge and pulling out the weeds, I suddenly spotted a strange animal crawling slowly on the fence.  In fact, there were three of these strange alien like species, with elongated body, long skinny legs and even longer antennas.  It was a walking stick animal.

I had never seen one in the Wild, only in captivity at the local WOW place.  Always behind an inch of glass – never free.  It was a special moment, not only for me, but immensely important for the kids to witness this too.

Enough with Xbox and iPhone games.  This was nature at its best.

Listen, I’m no David Attenborough, but I still want to impress my kids with my outdoor knowledge, obtained when I was a boy-scout and lived off the lands.

Calmly I explained that what we had here was three Walking Stick animals (bugs), which is a rare sight.  I went on to proclaim that the bigger walking stick bug was carrying the baby, strongly followed by the husband … most likely.

sticksexLike some Japanese tourist (stereotype), my wife went paparazzi crazy on the poor things, and snapped 20-30 pictures, with the flash going.  In parallel, I quickly googled walking animals and suddenly discovered that it was in fact a mating scene we were witnessing and not a carrying mother lifting her baby on her back.

This was back garden porn!

The amazing part of this ritual is that it can last hours, days or even weeks.  Forget about Viagra!  This little dude was riding his woman for exceedingly long time.  No wonder the pair moved very slowly up the fence.  It was Natural Geographic or Animal Planet right there, and we were in the ‘pit’ with front-row seats.

I couldn’t explain the sexual act to my kids, so continue my little white lie about mother and child.  I had no choice.  Too many questions would come flying at me if I suddenly told them that the animals were having sex.

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Back to school(s)

It’s that time of the year again – school is back on the menu.

Time to wake up early again, prepare lunches and shop for all the school supplies.  Our kids are somewhat excited, although they prefer to go to the lake, stay up late, eat marshmallows, and do nothing that resembles school work for 8 weeks.

I want to kick off the new school year with a strong message – love your mum and respect what she is and has done for you.  This is really a message to all kids out there – a strong message from Mark Mero.

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Danish Firestarter

firestarterI love have visitors, especially my family.  I’m very close with my sister and her family, so it was an amazing experience when they came to visit us this summer.  Well, unless your brother-in-law attempts to burn by garden and house!!

Not intentionally of course, and he felt very very very bad about the incident.

He smokes the pipe, which is not so common in the US unless you live in Woodstock, is a hillbilly carpenter or simple organic creature that feed off the land … the latter would most likely live in Woodstock area, have long grey beard and sing Joe Cocker tunes.

I do have to add that Woodstock is a great little area to visit, and is not stock in the 60’s.  A few interesting characters does float around, but it’s fun for the family.

However, my brother-in-law is Danish, and smoking the pipe doesn’t make you weird.  I have absolutely no problem with tobacco smoking visitors, but they do have to smoke outside, and he totally obeyed that rule.

Ever so often he would step outside, with a cold beer, and take in the landscape we live in and ponder on life’s great mystery … how do we get a pool installed.

He would leave the pipe outside, in a secure holder, and tap out the old tobacco in the soil. Little did he (we) realise that this would be a terrible mistake.  We had been blessed with 85-92 Fahrenheit (32+ degrees Celcius) and little rain.

One morning, as my wonderful wife was going to get breakfast bagels, she returned to the house quickly as she had noticed smoke in the flowerbed.  I walk out with a cup of water, but quickly realised that I needed a hell of lot more water.

burning_flowerjpgA large patch (2 x 6 feet) of the flowerbed was literally smoking.  As I placed my hand on the soil, it was too warm and some bushes had started to collapse under the heat.

The scary thing is, my brother-in-law had been tapping out the left-over tobacco for about 2 days, and it had grown into a large pit.

We all noticed the smell of burned wood the night before, but assumed it was there neighbours who had been partying and enjoyed a BBQ.  Nope!!

My dear brother-in-law spent the next two hours with the garden hose and a small shovel, making sure the ‘fire’ had been put out.  He was so embarrassed and shocked at the same time.  No of us expected this.  It just shows how carefull we have to be with fiercest, BBQs and tobacco.  The smallest amber can devastate large areas.

The positive was that, due to his guilt, he cleaned the front area of weed, fixed the other flowerbeds, cut the grass, swept the porch and put up our outdoor clothes drying rack.

…and he made a safe ashtray for his pipe and tobacco, with sand and rocks.

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