I’m not Hulk

The week had not gone as well as we would have hoped.  66% of the kids were down with severe cold & flu symptoms, and partial strep.  It had been 4 days of missed school and I wondered if this would have an overall impact on their scholarship applications missing a week of elementary school.  You never nowadays.

When I was standing in the shower that morning, I do not anticipate how manic my morning would become.

I left 66% of my kids in the care of my lovely wife, and 33% by the road waiting for the school bus.  Once she had jumped on the bus, I shot off in my “new” Dodge Charger.

I was early for once.  Only a few minutes, but it still gives a good start to any day.

tireOn my route to work, there’s a section where a few highways cross, and a diabolic like lane change happens.  There’s nothing around on this isolated piece of road.  For about a mile it is just barren wasteland – no-mans land – an area you would see as a battle ground in Mad Max as they fight for water.

On that particular strip of road, I suddenly started to feel sluggish steering capability and low air pressure on left front tire.  Deep inside, I knew I should’ve changed my tires some weeks ago.  It’s just one of those things you should’ve done, and didn’t do, and now shit comes back to haunt you!

Luckily I had all the necessary tools in the boot of the car – or trunk as the Yanks are calling it.  Either way, I was prepared for a DYI roadside assist.  Little did I know that was missing a key ingredient – wd40.  You cannot leave your home without it!

Within minutes of diagnosing the flat tire, I had whipped out the necessary tools needed to do the job effectively.  3 simple items that can make it so much easier.

  • A jack
  • A lug wrench
  • A spare tire

The only obstacle that you are never prepared for is how tight the wheel bolts.  Fear not.  I attacked those suckers with an attitude and a ferocity that would scare any WWE wrestlers.  I was gonna come out victorious.

As I attached the lug wrench to the first bolt, it was clear this was going to take a little more effort than earlier anticipated.  All five bolts were as welted to the wheel, and didn’t give a crap that I was pulling it.  If they had a voice, I’m sure I would have heard them laugh and mock me.

I pulled.  I stood on the wrench.  I kicked the tire.  I poured warm coffee.  I cursed. I kicked the wrench.  I kicked the tire.  I kicked the car. I kicked the ground. I scratched the wheel with my nails. I screamed at it. I used a large rock as hammer on the wrench.

I prepared for one final attempt.  I focused my anger at the bloody wrench.  Grabbed it with both hands, and mentally transformed into the Hulk.  All my powers were being directed to my hands.

hulkAs I pulled the immovable bolt, I let out my manly war-cry, which sounds like the Dementor from Harry Potter, and flexed all my muscles in my entire body who had been on holiday for the last decade.

Sweat was being forced out from various places on my body and forehead.  The war-cry quickly turned into a cry of agony.  I felt and heard something pop on my left side, from muscles I hadn’t used for a long time, and it was like being stabbed by Excalibur. Not that I have much stabbing victim experience, and not planning on it either, but this was painful.

Cars (drivers) flying by on the highway must’ve had a wonderful experience, seeing a guy dressed in a nice suit, jumping on a wrench attached to his car, and being totally animated.

I was in pain.  Tire was not coming off.  I had to call for reinforcement.

... to be continued.

Speed Dating Parent Teacher Meetings

The school year has flown by.  I can’t believe that there’s only a few months left until the summer break.  It seems as yesterday when my daughter started her middle school adventures.

In true school spirit, we have to meet the teachers every three months to really assess how our children are progressing … or not.

The first semester was awesome.  Our daughter was initially placed in AIS, much to my dismay, to assist her with math.

Academic Intervention Services are services required by New York State which provide additional instruction to students in English and/or mathematics based upon performance.

Nobody puts baby in the corner, but despite doing so, she showed them all how wrong they were.  She was was added to B honours roll in first semester – and to my absolutely delight, jumped to A honours roll in March.

She obviously has my wife’s intelligence, and good lucks.  Not too sure what genes she got from me.  Probably the rock music and playing games parts.

My wife and I went to the first parent / teacher meeting, but due to other parenting needs at the house, I went to the recent one alone while my wife looked after the kids.

speed-datingI was amazed with the new format of parent / teacher meetings.  I do not remember it being like that previously.  It was like speed dating, just with teachers.  You have a defined amount of time with one teacher, as soon as you get to the interesting parts, then you get pushed to the next teacher.

Ahead of the teacher conference, which they call it nowadays, we had to select specific times to meet key teachers.  It’s a bit like an interview for a job, where you have to speak to a series of potential colleagues to make sure you are the right person.  Except this time you talk about your child.

  • There’s an awkward moment when you look at the teacher, and they attempt to find your child based on your good looks.
  • You have exactly 6 minutes with each teacher, and spent more time introducing yourself, getting comfortable in the shitty chairs and look at a list the teacher has prepared
  • You stand in line until your name is called, hoping the parents ahead of you are not there or have few questions.
  • You rush to the next teacher on the list, running down the hallways.  I find the latter exciting as it reminds of my time in school, and teachers shouting at me “NO RUNNING” … so I ran faster today 🙂
  • You are late for the next session, you think, but realise quickly that some parent has abused the speed dating rules about timekeeping.
  • You try to do small talk, which fails as teacher is only interested in your child’s performance
  • You try to remember all the questions you had prepared in advance, but fail in every aspect and frantically text my wife before I sit down
  • The worst bit, you can hear how well the child next to you is doing … and in some cases they are not doing very well at all.  Both parents and teacher are trying to keep smiling, while delivering some scathing comments.

Keep-calmHonestly, I’m not too sure I got the full picture of my daughter’s performance.  All the teachers loved her.  Her grades are top, She’s a great friend to her class mates and she interacts with everyone.

I was proud when I heard all this, but more so when the teacher said she stands up for other kids, and defends some kids against bullies.  That’s my girl!

Next time I might dress up a bit, bring my chess clock and play some tricks on the teachers.  We gotta spice up the teacher speed dating thing a bit.

Or, perhaps I pretend to be the father of another child too, which would really confuse most teachers 🙂  It’ll be alright and we are all awesome.

Happy Birthday

Breakfast w/ scones

Today is exactly 12 years ago since our coolest and oldest daughter arrived.  She was 5 weeks premature, but that has certainly not stopped her from being an awesome child.

I’m very proud we were chosen to be her parents.  It has been, and still is, an honour to see her grow up and become the awesome individual she is today.  I know she will continue to grow and become an amazing woman with all the possibilities ahead of her.

She is excelling at school, which is obviously good genes from her mother.  She loves games, outdoors and has great sense of humour.

Happy Birthday my little girl!

Disclaimer / Warning

I do wish to warn all boys that I have a small forest behind the house, with plenty of wild life and areas not often visited by by-passers.  If any you hurt my baby girl, break her heart for some foolish attempts to be her boyfriend and then dumping her, you will probably not be walking away from it. 

I have several friends who would happily share their protective gestures and outbursts, if anything emotional harm would be afflicted on her.  Just like I would support them if their daughter’s were harmed.

We hare the clan of proud fathers.  We have viking blood running in our veins, and some of my brothers are trained in the art of pain.

Goodbye Jaws

A perfect smile is worth millions and opens many doors.  A smile has magical powers.  A big smile gives the owner of the pearly whites a sense of pride and confidence.

When our daughter was born 11 years ago (almost 12) we were informed that she had cleft palette and would need surgery before turning 1.  That’s a lot to take in when this was your first child, but we also knew that she is special and will succeed in whatever she does.

Some kids born with cleft may also have some dental challenges.  Challenges we never encountered until we met a great dentist in the US.  She had developed an underbite due to her cleft, but were told that it could be addressed somewhat easily.

All she needed to do was to get braces, up and down, and that would correct her bit.

That was more than two years ago, and after being presented with a bill of $8000 (USD) – $5000 after insurance covered their part.  Perhaps not too bad of a price to pay to give her a smile she could be proud of – it’ll last her a life time 🙂

I had noticed that she was not fully confident and she failed to smile on many occasions. It was not her real smile we saw.  She never mentioned if her underbite bothered her, but as she started to grow and mature, it was certainly affecting her confidence.

$5000 and 2.4 years later, and it was finally time to get the braces off.  Day of reckoning and moment of truth.

She had suffered for a long time.  Missed out on some of her favourite snacks, such as popcorn, and the constant dental visits to get the braces tightened.

Getting the braces off was like be released from prison … according to her at least.

The change was phenomenal.  Goodbye underbite and hello Hollywood.

She was over the moon and soooooo proud of her new smile.  Teeth were the same, but the braces had really done an amazing job.  The pain, tears and months of suffering had paid off.  It was a delight to see her beaming of confidence.

We bought a big bag of popcorn, sunflower seeds and chewing gum to celebrate her release.

She hasn’t stopped smiling since, and why should she.  Be proud and show off your smile.


Big Dumb Blond

ChiquiStPatrickWe have been blessed with a gentle giant for almost 10 years.

She was a small fluff ball when she joined our family, in the shape of a small St Bernard, and Beethoven era was upon us.  It was like a Gremlin hairy ball, who grew fast.

One important piece of advise, never go see St Bernard puppies with your kids!  That’s how we ended up with three dogs simultaneously; labrador, Bernese Mountain Dog and St Bernard.  Each dog become a bigger breed.

Nevertheless, we loved the dogs and they became part of our family.  Kids rode them like ponies, ran with them in the snow and cried as the parted us, walking across the Rainbow Bridge.

Chiquita (named after the banana for no apparent reason) was the last of the trio.  She was a gentle clumsy giant, who loved everyone she met.  Yes, she wasn’t the brightest bulb in the lamp shop, but that didn’t bother her or us.  It was the sheer love she gave us, in particular the kids.

It was a moving carpet and when she slept the neighbours could hear her snoring.  It resonated throughout the house.  At times I woke up in the middle of the night to move her, which only lasted a few minutes.  We had many fun filled moments with her … or at least on her account 🙂

  • If she was in the garden, and I would call, she would look the opposite direction.  Not to piss me off, but simply because she had no clue where my voice came from.  EVEN, if I would stand 10 yards from her.
  • When shaking her head, we would have slobber streaks on walls and ceiling, as well as furniture, windows, TV, furniture – that’s just part of having a large breed.
  • A few times she was running towards me, only to trip over her front legs, almost crash into the ground, but magically recover the fall gracefully.
  • We would throw her treats, almost hitting her head.  She either couldn’t see the treat or had not idea what to do when we threw them.  She just continued to stare at whoever was throwing it.
  • She had the ability to dig out treats hidden in her dry-food, and lick off all gravy, and still leave all the dry-food behind.  She was a picky eater.  In fact, she would only eat meats and treats while in heat.

You can imagine the sadness that fell upon the family, when we found her lifeless in the living room the other morning.  She had slept in during the early morning.  I gently petted her head and body, said a few loving words, and then woke up my wife with the sad news.

The girls woke up and broke into tears.  They knew she was old, but that doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye.  They hugged the fluffy giant while she slept, and my wife cancelled school that day.  It was simply too much for the girls.

keyringst_bernardLater that day, we carried her (not easy to carry 140lbs) to the car and I drove her to the vet.  One final visit and final goodbyes.  The girls had joined me, but couldn’t hold back the tears as they drove her away.  My oldest ran over to stretcher and gave her a strong loving hug, while tears were rolling down her face.  Then she came to me and needed a big hug.

Now the third dog has crossed the rainbow bridge, waiting for us to one day come across to play with them again.