Balloon Wars

Summer just got serious with this amazing invention “Bunch O Balloons” over on Kickstarter.  From looking at the profile, it seems like we might be able to get our hands on these suckers in the coming weeks, just in time for the summer and before school ends.  Josh Malone was only asking for $10K, but clearly many people thought it is a fantastic idea and have pledged $250K.

Balloon fight was just brought to the next level – I can’t wait to dominate my block’s water balloon war.

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Not the Wilderness Family

Although we love being outside and walking in the forest, hiking with the kids has only been a quarterly event at best, with a few small treks into the wilderness with the family St Bernard.  We are not the most avid trekkers, but do our best to be one with nature … blend in with the wildlife and pretend we know how to survive.  We watch “Naked & Afraid“, “Bear Grylls” and of course the awesome “Dual Survival“.  The latter makes me laugh just looking at the dude pretending to be a native indian.  I’m sure he can survive any environment, but not sure he needs to have braids!

It has to be said, the family dog is rarely impressed being dragged through the wide forest paths, shrieking at any strange sound or movement from the forest.  A squirrel runs across the path and one would think the dog would be flying after it, but not our dog!  When doing her business, her lazy gaze scouts the perimeter making sure no evil chipmunk or other animal with teeth is ready to attack.

Now, let’s talk about the family and how we “blend in” and become one with Mother Nature.  Let’s be clear, we are not the Wilderness Family!

Pale Alien Toes

Pale Alien Toes

I for one is probably 30lbs overweight, pale as chalk, dehydrated within the first mile and tend to forget my actual walking shoes and end up walking the entire trek in my flip-flops, plus sweating a fair bit which makes my clothes look like patchwork.  I’m a true tourist in this wast scenic country that’s build for proper explorations and not the back garden of a Dublin (Ireland) estate where the meanest animal is a black crow.

My wife, aka Amazing Gordita, tend to wear her runners, jeans and a designer t-shirt … you gotta look sharp in the wilderness.  She will often start humming and singing, pretending she’s in some sort of Disney movie, explore the berry bushes, snap some cool pictures and help our song along.

Our oldest daughter who one would think that, based on her eager involvement with the Girl Scouts, she would be naturalist in the family … and she is, but only through her obsessive iPhone photo lens or surfing National Geographic.  Well, most times she might be watching some strange Disney show.

My son hates walking in the forest, especially because the roads are uneven, there are way too many flying buzzers of all sorts, he dislikes the shrubs, sweats profoundly and he is determined to find the quickest way back to the starting point.

Then you have Xena the Warrior, our youngest girl, who is natural-born predator.  She hunts around in the forest, with stealth like tactics, sneaking up on wild life and various berries, exploring the undergrowth of the forest – and ninja punches mosquitos.  I’m sure if she got stung by any insect, she would pee on it to reduce the itching.

brixwitch projectDespite our in abilities to blend in with nature, we love exploring the wild.  At least from the safety of the Costa Rican tour bus or Six Flags Safari tour.  We do love spending time in the camp where we are members and have plenty of battles with the aggressive mosquitos when trying to visit the outhouse.  Any bug that might swoosh by will send shivers down our spines and cause uncontrollable arm movements, while trying to get the spray or zapper.

We are NOT the Wilderness Family, but we enjoy life :-)

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The evolution of cave drawings

cave drawingsIn the beginning there were walls that looked innocent and clean.  Man (and women I presume) decided to use these blank canvasses to express emotions and tell stories.  Bingo, we have wonderful ancient graffiti sharing their daily adventures, from killing animals, chatting with aliens, hands, animals and many more amazing drawings.

Just to be clear, this is not an archeology lecture or some other elaborate tale to explain how cave drawings appeared and what they might mean.  No, this is to illustrate that even in today’s technology driven society, cave drawings still haunts us – especially us parents as our kids evolve.

As you know, we have three beautiful kids; two girls and one boy.  Each child have unique skills and various levels of energy, and we fully support our kids in growing their skills further – unless it’s their ability to watch endless TV shows on Netflix about annoying ponies or playing ‘Temple Run‘.

But one of the kids is much more creative than her siblings.  And, she has hell of a lot more energy than the others which is most likely because she’s the youngest and wants to keep up with the older siblings.

The older siblings also expressed their artistic skills, but only on the paper they we using.  Yes, it did happen that they drew on the table, but nothing remotely as severe as the tiny artist.

She has taken drawing to a new level, which includes selecting new canvasses and expressing her emotions on walls and furniture.  Nothing beats coming home seeing a new creation on the family sofa, bathroom wall, dinning table or stairs.  Most times these can be “easily” removed with water and soap, but since she has moved from water colours to permanent markers, it has become increasingly impossible.

She has also taken her skills on the road, and we have now some drawings in the car and on her clothes.

When I catch her in the act, and demands she stops, I get the 1000 yards stare and being told that she hasn’t done anything.  It was her brother!  That is despite her standing with the marker, on the wall, drawing a long line.  Even the CSI team would support my accusations!

Although it is rather frustrating, it can be covered up with wall paint, which we will do once she stops using the walls as her canvas – if she stops!

From an artistic perspective, you have to applaud her skills and if you study her drawings in more detail, you can see how she is enhancing her abilities.  The earlier stages are simple lines, then X’s, faces and people.  I would perhaps go as far to state that some of her art works are more impressive than some of the new modern artists who pains a black dot on a white canvas … or nothing on the white canvas!

Michelangelo, Raphael, Da Vinci, and other artists of the ancient World would most likely look at my daughters paintings and discover her hidden talents.  In the eyes of (in my opinion) VERY suprematism artists, our kids are completely wasting their time actually learning the craft of painting or splash paint about like the great Pollock, or painting three stripes endlessly like Rothko.

Long story short, as a parent and house owner, I dread seeing my house covered in cave drawings, but I cannot spend too much time getting upset about it.  It’s only a few lines and we’ll be pairing the walls soon.  Anyway, judge for yourself :-)

How are your kids expressing themselves?

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Celebrating Independence

4 july small…or properly more accurately, the US is celebrating kicking out the British while holding hands with the Irish who also kicked out the British.  In reality, the British are most likely not too happy about being reminded about this every year, but tough!

Normally 4th of July is celebrated across the US using amazing fireworks, mouth dripping BBQ, loud music and family reunions.  It’s a time were neighbours reach out and get together for food and kids playing.

And this year would be no different if it hadn’t been for the arrival of Hurricane Arthur, who decided to kick off the hurricane season a little early by battering the East Coast.

We use 4th of July to celebrate our arrival to the US three years ago and a new chapter in our family adventures.  We still have many more chapters to write, but it has been a wonderful journey to date.

We can proudly say “Happy 4th of July” to all of our American friends, family, brothers and colleagues.  It has truly been a pleasure to get to know you and thank you for greeting us with open arms … especially after a few sips of the local moonshine :-)

Every good citizen makes his country’s honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its defence and is conscious that he gains protection while he gives it” – Andrew Jackson (American 7th US President1767-1845)

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Little Pony Nightmare

I’m not too sure how to even approach this topic, as I really don’t want to offend any known fans, and I’m certainly not interested in being bombarded by thousands of angry tweets about my attitude towards these creatures.

They obviously inspire millions around the World.  They have their own TV show, clothe range, toy selection, books, etc.  Deep inside I envy their success, but at the same time I curse them for making my time as a parent a living nightmare.  Thankfully the interest in them is only a few years, so I just have to bide my time a little longer, until my youngest daughter has outgrown these monster.

I know these characters are rather innocent and perhaps even funny at times.  It’s the obsession with the TV show (on Netflix) and the unrealistic expectation that I can remember all the names.

Seriously, I sometimes forget the name of the family pets and I can’t even remember birthdays and anniversaries of my immediate family.  The pressure on us parents is immense.

Let me introduce the characters I’m expected to love and know.  It’s of course the gang of ponies, known as My Little Ponies;

Honestly, who came up with the names?  The story line of the shows are rather dubious and celebrates (IMHO) some lesser qualities of our kids.  They portray these characters as less clever and some even as air heads.  Anyway, I know it’s futile to even attempt to justify the existence of these characters.  It’s a show and I just need to accept it!

But, try to dress a 4-year-old with the clothes she wants, and then get the stare of utter disgust when I get the name wrong.  Like, the other day when getting her ready for her school, she wanted to wear Rainbow dash undies.  OK, I gave her a pair with a horse on.

She grabbed the pair with both hands, exerted immense force and started to pull the undies apart.  Her anger was similar to the Hulk and she yelled “this is Rarity!  I want Rainbow Dash!”

The fear in me took over and i started to twitch my left eye.  What had I done wrong?  How could I ever live up to my daughter’s expectations?

I ran to the drawer and grabbed a few more options, but started to panic.  What would happen if I could  not find her beloved Rainbow Dash?  Would the local Kohl’s be open this early so I could get her the pair of undies she wanted?

Thankfully my 10-year-old daughter walked into the room.  She calmly picked up a pair of horse undies and gave them to the 4-year-old – who in return smiled, nodded and showed me.  “See dad, this is Rainbow Dash!”

Crisis had been averted, but I never know when the next apocalyptic event might happen.

You might sit there and laugh, or worse, shake your head because I even write about My Little Ponies.  Well, it’s very important to share my life experiences with other parents, and warn them that they need to know the characters and role models in our kids’ life – or even protect them from the wrong choices.

… btw, I hate Barney too :-)

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Camp Gyno

I had to follow up my previous post about the Full Moon Party – I’m a responsible parent who supports my daughters and will share good advice like this with them.  Although they don’t care much for my openness and believe it might be a better discussion to have with their mother!

Again, enjoy another funny ad from our friends over at Always!

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First Moon Party

I came across this ad some days ago, like about a million other people around the Globe (15 million people ±), and pissed my pants laughing.  So, like a loving and caring dad, I shared this video with my wife and 10-year-old daughter.  It was amazing, their reaction to this video were completely opposite of each other!

  • My wife also laughed hysterically and shared the ad on her Facebook page
  • My 10-year-old daughter rolled her eyes and left the room at a fast pace

Anyway, I thought you should have the chance too, of laughing at this.  Judge for yourself :-)

The person who thought up this brilliant ad should get a big bonus … and he or she has excellent sense of humor.  Fair play to Always!


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Wind Power

I recently got my hands on my first true dad gadget – a backpack blower!  It’s the ultimate tool for any dad out there and will help you get your yard in top shape.  In fairness it also give you some extra benefits, if you are looking for some alone-time.

  • earmuffs on a warm day keeps excessive noise out of your head while looking awesome
  • the noise of the blower blocks out screaming kids, barking dogs and phones
  • your wife will not have a chance in hell of getting you to do other stuff

wind makerWell, this was my first experience with such a powerful piece of equipment, and it happened to be a proper professional item.  Not one of these tolls you get in a general hardware store, but a miniature wind turbine strapped into a harness.  The crazy thing is, I was meant to tie this contraption on my back and be strong enough to withstand the awesome gale for winds it would produce.

Naive and with a schoolboy attitude, I prepared to start the backpack blower while it was of course sitting on the garage floor. 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 pulls before I realised I had to open the fuel line!  Then I adjusted the choke and pulled my shoulder out of joint, or at least it felt like that.

The engine spluttered and finally came to life, and I let it breathe a little before I lifted the 12lbs sucker up and swung t around to be on my back.  So far, so good!

As I accelerated the wind turbine, the garage floor started to move.  It was obviously not the floor itself, but all the stuff that was carefully placed there; leaves, papers, shovels, small bikes and kids.  The room was filled with dust and leaves, so I quickly placed a mask and goggles on my face – starting to look like a mad scientist.

It took a few minutes for me to get then hang of the controls, and I carefully started to blow out the garage, starting in one corner and managing the wind speeds to avoid items to become lethal projectiles … I obviously didn’t want to scratch my El Camino.

It wasn’t long and the garage was spotless.  Only problem, all the crap was now outside in my driveway and I’m certain neither my wife nor our neighbours would appreciate the post-nuclear war landscape I had created, so I had to clear that up too.

Now, this is probably where my personal-windturbine skills were lacking.  It started out well and I managed to gather most of the stuff next to the now closed garage doors.  As I slowly moved the pile into a corner, a few smaller things refused to move.  To encourage the items to move, I accelerated the wind power a little … then a little more … and then … f**k it!

tornadoI released the full power of the blower and unleashed a personal tornado in my driveway, full of debris, paper, leaves, small rocks, etc.  I was mesmerised that this was even possible, and stood there like an idiot looking at the man-made wall of dust that was rising before me – and not turning of the blower, so it kept getting bigger.  I suddenly realised that I should turn off the blower only to get caught in a shower of debris.

My head and shoulders were being barraged by thousands of small objects, and thick layer of dirt dust-covered me.  I was dumb enough not to move an inch, despite have front row seats to what was coming down at me.  The damn adrenaline got the better of me!

Oh well, had to start over again, and this time I was a little more careful.

After having proudly cleared garage and drive way, I stood at the top of the driveway with a silly grin on my face.  “I had achieved utterly manliness level #5 that morning”.  Next challenge will be clearing the gutters, but I’m not sure I how I’ll fare in that challenge; me, personal-windtunnel-created and on a ladder?  Not great odds!

Anyway, the next 12 minutes were spent pushing my 4-year-old daughter around on the street with the power blower, while she was on her tricycle.  I air-dried my 10-year-old daughters wet hair and tested the capability of rolling a golf ball into the hose and then full power air ejecting it out.

I did receive a few interesting looks rom our more mature neighbour fathers, who could clearly see that it was my first time … and they smiled while giving me thumbs up.  They had obviously been at this stage already and tried what I tried.  BUT, I could also sense that they told me telepathically (it must be some father-to-father rays) that this was a once off day – next time it’s serious.

It was an awesome day!  I can’t wait to try that sucker again.  And, imagine what it can do with snow :-)

What is your coolest daddy garden/DIY toy?

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I’m the best

It’s official – I’m the best dad ever!  At least according to my kids.

Father’s Day are awesome.  It’s a fact.  Well, only if you are a father of course.  I love being given hugs, kisses and presents from all the kids.  I’m finally the centre of attention again.

fathersdayThroughout the year, and as we get kids, a father is rarely the centre of attention as all the attention is focused on the kids’ activities, their needs and well-being.  That’s one of the glory full benefits of being a parent, you get to give and protect someone you dearly love, without being selfish.  You want to do your best to make their lives secure, and ensure they are happy.

Once your kids’ needs have been met, then you must look to your partner, in this case my dear wife for the 12 years.  You can’t admit to her face that she’s no longer the centre of your World, so you have to strike a delicate balance of sharing your love.  I think we all know that your wife is the main reason you have beautiful kids, so we need to appreciate our wives more.

My biggest regret is not show this appreciation for my own dad, who left this World too soon.  He knew I loved him dearly, but we never said it to each other.  It was just the way things were.  He had my back and he loved me.  It’s only when you lose someone you realise all the stuff you forgot to share and say.  Dad, I love you, wherever you are!

So, for 363 days of the year, I’m devoted to my family.  It’s only on my birthday and on Father’s Day that I get the attention my hidden vanity personality desire.  I get love and smiles.  Honestly, getting a present is just an added benefit – it’s the hugs that makes me soft :-)

Happy Father’s Day to all you cool dads out there!

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Funeral & Rabbit Stew

I never really bonded with the rabbit my 10-year-old daughter got for her birthday.  It wasn’t anything personal, other than I didn’t have the urge to hang out with this fluffy fur ball as I suspected that if we became friends I would be the one looking after it.

rabbitThe weeks leading up to the recent (and most tragic) event was marred by a few hygiene discussions with our 10-year-old, as she was finding it extremely difficult to maintain the cage.  Straws, saw dust, rabbit food and little poo pellets were found on the floor in most rooms, and I was starting to lose patience and threatened to remove the rabbit from her room and move it to the basement or shed.

However, my dear wife insisted that by moving a rabbit to such an area would breed a vampire / Jekyll & Hyde rabbit, which may attack people.  So, this plan was quickly eliminated.

Then the other day, while I was attending a workshop, I received a frantic )and yet scary) call from my lovely wife.  She was clearly an emotional wreck, crying a lot, while trying to tell me what happened.  At first I thought our son had been in an accident, and the blood drained from my head.  Thankfully he was alright, but our “dear” rabbit had died.

“Phew” – that was literally my reaction.  Only the rabbit had died and joined our two dogs on the other side of the rainbow bridge.  I sighed a big relief and exclaimed “is that all?”, to which my wife reacted with another minute of sobbing and tears, demanding that I came home immediately.  Not too sure what was expected of my healing abilities, but unless we visit the local “Pet Sematary” there’s no way of bringing it back.

Our youngest daughter had been carrying the little rabbit, when it decided to do a break for it and leaped off her arms, floating through the air like a gazelle and then landing on the outdoor decking tiles.

Well, let me just say, rabbits are not cats, and as such, they do not land on their legs.  The poor little warrior landed awkwardly and despite it being a fairly short drop, it was enough to unfortunately get severely injured.

My brave little 4-year-old quickly picked up the injured animal and carried it to my wife.  Only problem is, it was twitching a lot and as it was handed over it lost the fight and died in the arms of my wife.  Who obviously was very shocked and saddened by this incident.

The worst bit of the story was that our 10-year-old was still in school, and my wife had to break the news to hear.  She had developed a very close relationship with the rabbit, so this would be a blow of titans.

True enough, as my daughter was told, I received a second phone call.  This time from another upset girl, pleading that I come home.

As I finally arrived home, we made the necessary funeral arrangements.  The blanket to lie on, flower petals carefully selected, poems written and grave dug.  I even organised for a homemade tombstone.

The family gathered around the tiny hole in the flower bed, we (I) gently placed the rabbit on the blanket, while the kids started to either cry or say kind words of affection towards the little fluff ball.  The 4-year-old did request that we would wake it up so she could play with it again, to which the 10-year-old opened the flood gates of tears.

I may have attempted to add to the atmosphere by humming the tune from Lord of the Rings (Return of the King), where Aragorn sings an elvish song on the landing in Minas Tirith.  Somehow it was as emotional as Aragorn’s performance, but at least I tried something.

For dinner we had chicken, but it might have been more logical to have rabbit stew, but I don’t think that would’ve been a great choice for the family dinner.

It’s never easy to teach a life lesson, but sometime life teaches us a lesson when we least expect it.  Our kids appreciated all the time they had with the rabbit, and also realised that they are not ready to have another pet for some time … at least a week!

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