Friday, December 30, 2011

New Years Edition

Well after last week's onslaught of posts we took some time off to reflect on 2011 and prepare for the year ahead (2012 if you were wondering). We came to the realization that all the good sites have already done their top 10's and it would dumb for us to do something like that. So as we close the door to 2011 we have some reflections on the year, but mostly want to look forward to 2012.

2011 in no particular order:

  • The State of Minnesota closed for awhile
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a kid with a maid and his marriage ended. Maria Shriver is still very thin.
  • The last Harry Potter was released in Theaters. I watched it in an actual movie theater with my wife. It was like a date. We had popcorn and diet soda.
  • US & Japan Womans World Cup Final was one of the most entertaining sporting events in the last decade. It was an incredible game even if the US lost. Hope Solo is still hot.

  • Steve Jobs - RIP
  • Gadhafi & Osama Bin Laden are killed after years and years of killing and pissing people off.
  • St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series. Game 6 of the series is deemed the best World Series game ever unless you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. 
  • To keep with the topic of STL baseball, God talked Albert Pujols to signing a contract for $250 million dollars with the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim Baseball. Now every time Albert's heart beats for the next 10 years it will cost the Angels $8* (*Assuming an avg HR of 60)
Image via
Ok I think that's it for 2011. There was some other stuff that happened but i think that's a good snap shot. Now some future aspirations for 2012 from the both of us:
  • We would like to monetize this damn blog. Someone please help us. We don't like our real jobs enough to want to do them forever.
  • Become more attractive
  • Lose a combined 50lbs. We are the sum of our parts or something like that.
  • Grill more pork
  • Wrestle a bear or get a Wii (either or, but not both)
  • Make more money. Like serious money. You know like Ballin'/Makin' it Rain Money. Or if we could just get a significant discount on Daycare that would be nice.
  • Review more Beer. We got away from that after Pumpkin Beer Season.
  • Question more Authority.
  • Teach our kids more about Star Wars and other life lessons

Thats it. We had a blast this year writing about stuff and are shocked we got over 10,000 views at our crap. Thank you all for reading, commenting, and spreading the SFA word. 

- John & Jamie

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: Christmas Vacation

Well folks you have endured an entire week of posts from us. I know, I know we are awesome. 6 posts in 6 days? Unheard of.

But back to business and in the words of Casey Kasem "...and back to the countdown."

With this being the final post before Christmas we thought we would save the best for last. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is not only the funniest Christmas movie out there, but can hold its own as one of the great comedies of all time. It is simple, wonderful, slapstick comedic genius with a cast of funny MF'ers. Chevy Chase's role of a dim witted father blinded with visions of holiday grandeur is spot on. His delivery of jokes is superb and should be studied by scholars or teenagers for years to come. However, no one can argue that this movie's main draw is Cousin Eddie. While he is featured in the other "Vacation" Movies (minus European Vacation), this is his moment in the sun. I really don't think you could paint a better portrait of what distant hoosier relatives look like than this:
So, mix in Cousin Eddie, Clark, and a number of other wonder characters you have what makes to be the most heavily quoted, laughed-at-hysterically holiday movie of all time. In fact, I am pretty sure while I am writing this on 12/23/11 this movie is on TV somewhere and is supplying joy and cheer to someone with cable (probably on TBS).

Today's Honorable Mention goes to Die Hard. If the movie above wasn't enough for comedic one-liners, Die Hard does not disappoint with Tough-Guy phrases none more than "Yippee-ki-yay, motherf**ker." It also introduces us to one of the more bad arse cops in movie history, John McClane who goes on in other Die Hard movies to kill lots of people. Finally I can't leave this out but what was it about the late 80's movies and their distaste for foreign people (mainly Russians and in this case Germans).

We thank you all for reading this week and on behalf of Jamie and me we wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and thank you tremendously for your readership. The only better gift you could give to us than reading this blog is large sums of money or free electronics and clothing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: Scrooged

So I love this movie. It is probably because anything that Bill Murray touches is brilliant, but the premise is that of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol." Frank Cross (Murray) is a TV Exec and is a complete a-hole driven by money with no care for those around them. Yes the premise has been done before but Murray makes this movie awesome. His ability to deliver dry witted callous remarks is tremendous in this movie. His mullet is also tremendous.

There isn't much more to say on this because Bill Murray is awesome. So lucky for you some dude on the internet compiled the top 10 moments from the movie. Enjoy.

Ok so for today's Honorable Mention we are going with It's a Wonderful Life. It supposed to be THE Christmas movie and I am sure it's been review at least 200 times a year since it was made in 1946. That is like a thousand reviews or something. So I will spare you the details and just say that "When a bell rings an angel gets its wings." Profound.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: A Christmas Story

Welcome to yet another entry in our Suburban Father Christmas Movie Countdown. We've already talked about Elf, and today's entry is A Christmas Story.

Everyone has their own favorite scene from this 1983 classic, but our favorite thing about the movie is how the film manages to convey the entire adolescent experience. The following themes are presented by Ralphie, et al,  in a tight 94 minutes.
  • Sexuality. This was a little before our time, but it seemed like the leg lamp was the Sears catalog and a Madonna video all rolled into one.
  • Male bonding. FUDGE.
  • Bullying. The boys, terrorized for years by an idiot in a coonskin cap, finally get back their dignity when Ralphie rages out.
  • Interpersonal relationships. Flag. Pole. Licker.
  • Disenfranchisement. If the nasty elves didn't do it, the reminder to drink more ovaltine sure did.
  • Crime and punishment. We still fear soap blindness.
  • Small arms safety. He did damn near shoot his eye out. 

In the end, this nostalgic tale does a great job of giving people something to relate to. Making a timeless period piece isn't easily done, but the Pink Nightmare came through to the point that the house used in filming has been turned into a museum. We leave you with a collection of memorable clips (Youtube sort of let us down, but it'll do).

Today's honorable mention (a film we don't have time to flesh out) is Trading Places. It seems that for this committee a drunk Dan Akroyd in a Santa suit trying to kill Eddie Murphy does not a Christmas movie make.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: Elf

We'll start the list of great Christmas movies off with Elf. Unlike my conspirator on here I have seen the movie. So with that, I have the street cred to review it. Elf while recently released in 2003 was an instant classic. A movie with Will Ferrell dressed up as an kind of mythical creature is worth the price of admission. However this movie has a lot more to offer. The story is that of Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) and how he set out in search of his real father (James Kaan) after 30 years of being raised by Santa and his elves in the North Pole. He treks from the North Pole to NYC and the movie shapes up from there. He meets a pretty attractive/fantastic singer named Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) along the way and everyone is happy in the end.

I probably didn't do the movie too much justice but I am really having an issue reviewing a movie that is 8 years old and that 95% of you have probably already seen. I can tell you that my kids love the movie. They think Buddy is great and they learned the words to "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" from this movie. Also, I have convinced them that I know Buddy the Elf personally and will call him to relay messages about what they want for Christmas or if they are misbehaving. Its really a nice break in the day from threatening Santa all the time.

Not all movies can be that great. So we are also instituting a Horrible Mention for every post. Today's is Polar Express. The movie is about a doubting boy who gets on a train and then with the help of Tom Hanks believes in Santa. I don't know why I don't like this movie outside of the fact that it boring and it looks like a really bad video game. Oh wait, now I know why I don't like it...

Ok so tune in tomorrow and we will have some more magical BS coming your way.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: The Ref

We hope you've been enjoying our Christmas Movie Countdown so far (check out our thoughts on Elf, A Christmas Story, and Scrooged). Now it's time to enjoy the more dysfunctional side of the holidays and look into 1994's largely forgotten The Ref.

Why is this movie largely forgotten? We're not sure. It has all of the elements of a classic 1990's era Christmas story. No-good hoodlum son home from military school for the holidays? Check. Hateful, dim-witted family members at each other's throats? Check. Bungling cops? Check. Former stand-up comedian trying desperately to finagle a film career? Check.

This movie did actually make use of every one of Denis Leary's considerable talents. He was snarky. He smoked. He smoked snarkily. You watch a movie like this and for a moment remember when we all thought Denis Leary was going to rule the world. And then we realized that no matter what, he could really only play one character: Denis Leary. To be fair, Denis is, and was, a very funny character, but he's probably best left to playing a crook who breaks into the middle of a dysfunctional family holiday and ends up salvaging everything. Unfortunately, he already made that movie, so we're pretty much done with him now.

This film actually had a great cast all around that included a pre-The Usual Suspects Kevin Spacey, who was pretty damned good. And the wife/mom? She's actually Australian. But she doesn't sound Australian. How is that even possible?

In the end, the film isn't challenging, it isn't dangerous, it isn't unpredictable, but you know exactly what you are getting yourself into, and it is a lot of fun.

Today's honorable mention movie is Bad Santa. The mom from Gilmore Girls making "requests" of Billy Bob Thornton isn't nearly enough to make us forget that it's still Billy Bob Thornton playing a miserable alcoholic who aspires to be a marginally-less miserable alcoholic, and we still can't forgive him for giving up on Angelina, weirdo that she may have been.

The week ahead

Seasons Greetings. We here at the SFA are working to make your holidays brighter one half-arsed blog post at a time. Through a IM session between Jamie and me we have decided you our reading public would really like to hear our reviews on Christmas movies that were released years ago. We also determined that Top 5 or Top 10 lists are kind of dumb, and would only take up 1 post. We need to stretch this out as long as possible so we don't have to write about other crap.

However if we are going to do this right, we need to get out as many reviews as possible before Santa arrives. So starting Monday and throughout the week you can expect some literary gold on movies you have probably watched already this holiday season.

Now while I should end the post right there, I am going to forge on because I am just that great. What I'd like to do is offer some wisdom or nuggets (apparently with a theme of "butthole") to think about while leading up to the Big Baby J's birthday.

  1. Remember what the Holiday is about. No I am not going to get all Catholic on you, but remember its the season of giving. So don't be a butthole this week.
  2. If other people are being buttholes, take it with a grain of salt and totally get back at them in March (but not too close to Easter).
  3. Spend some extra time with your kids and teach them how to be grateful for what they already have (read: Not Buttholes). Let them know and appreciate that other kids aren't as lucky and could not be getting anything for Christmas.
  4. If you haven't started the tradition, I cannot suggest enough the Elf on the Shelf. We have had some fun times with that elf (Jingle Bells) and my kids look forward to seeing what that tricky little butthole has been up to the previous night.
  5. Buy an ornament every year and put the year on it. It may seem pretty dumb right now but 20 years from now, It will be pretty cool to look back and remember that year of Christmas. My wife still has ornaments from the year she was born and I think its pretty incredible. And not to brag too much on my ornament collection, but I have a Willie McGee Jersey & Spuds McKenzie.

That's it. Looking forward to having your virtual faces staring at our poorly written blogs this week.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Split Personalities

If you haven't been here for long (you know, on this blog, that you most likely found through either Facebook or Twitter) you may not have realized how much I love social media. That said, I do occasionally have to hold myself back. Today is not one of those days.

For a long time I've been trying to maintain my work/life balance with one twitter account. Not really working out for me. As such, I'm splitting my twitter account into @OswaldXXL for my more SAP-related stuff, and @JamieXXL for my suburban/fatherly/alliancey type stuff.

For more info, check out the new online home of The Jamie Oswald Experience.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Cards

I don't really get "into" Christmas. My wife does, God bless her. From the beginning of October she's constantly abuzz, switching the house (and the kids) from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Me? I won't even help with decorations. Oh sure, I'll bring the boxes up from the basement, and I'll carry them back down, but aside from hanging 3 ornaments up one year, and helping with an occasional gift or two, I'm sort of scrooge-ish.

The exception? Christmas cards. I really enjoy a good Christmas card. I like the ones that show the whole family -- there's nothing worse than putting a card on the mantel and looking at some kids you don't recognize for a month because their parents were too insecure to be photographed themselves.

Because I enjoy Christmas cards, and because I get bored easily, I floated an idea past the wife that she actually jumped all over: non-boring Christmas cards. Nothing flashy, nothing obscene, but we decided then and there that the whole family would be on it every year, and every year we'd have a different shtick.

Our first year we came out with what is probably my favorite to date, the Pirate Card.

The next year we celebrated my favorite collegiate sports team, the Buckeyes of the Ohio State.

Last year we put my mad photoshop skills to the test and came up with this realistic looking card.

And this year we gave ourselves an excuse to buy me some footie pajamas.

When the kids get a little older we'll probably let them toss some ideas out there, too. I personally can't wait for the Disney Princess Christmas card. 

To see some of our more recent Christmas Cards, please visit this update.

Friday, December 2, 2011

They're going to Sizzler

Not us actually, but rather the winners (read: participants) from our Manniversary comment contest.

First up: Tom Wailgum
"Keep up the great work! My submission: One of my twin sons (now 8) has always had a passion for relieving himself outdoors -- doesn't matter where, the temperature, who might be watching, or if the authorities (DSS) might be nearby. My wife pleads for more discretion, but I typically don't discourage it. (It's one of the best perks about being a guy, I tell him.) Next to the Verizon Wireless store dumpster? Sure thing. The bush next to his uncle's house during the birthday party? Go for it. Outside the State of NH Fish & Game building? You gotta go, you gotta go, son. Some people might refer to me as Whiskey Tango, but the little guy just seems to enjoy it so much. When in Rome..."

To tell a family secret, I've had as many kids number two on the side of the road as not. You do the math.

Second up: My sister
"my story for this "manniversary" might be one of my trade secret, so enjoy. What I love about nephews/nieces is getting to teach them all the life secrets mom and dad won't. I personally liked teaching my amazing nephews catch phrases like "i don't care". It is amazing how utilitous and annoying it is to have "i don't care" become the response of choice. And you thought NO was bad. Ha!" (sic -- she's only a college professor, people)
And now you know why so many of my progeny seem so open to public evacuation.

I'll try to snag you each the smallest shirts we've got in inventory, but I'd recommend really, REALLY enjoying the holidays. When we first ordered them, we had assumed more of our readers were Jamie-sized than Shepard-sized. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who cares about last week?

Last week the nation celebrated the age old tradition of Thanksgiving. A day known for laying around, eating until you pass out, and yelling at your brother-in-law for his bad life decisions. It is one of my favorite holidays on Earth but who else really cares about it? I wrote this article last year and apparently America didn't listen to me because this year the retail chains were at it even worse than last. So with that I will refuse to link to these retailers in this article because they are destroying my favorite Holiday by creating a false sense of urgency for people to leave their families and spend money.

What I found this year was just terrible. Stores opening as early as 10pm on Thanksgiving Day or at Midnight on Friday. I think they have really lost their soul. It's one thing to schedule your workers to work these hours, at least they are getting paid. But when they create a competitive atmosphere for consumers, getting them out of their homes and away from their families on arguably the most family-oriented holiday there is, it rubs me raw. Yes it is at Midnight and kids are typically sleeping, but did mommy or daddy have to leave the party early so they could sleep for 2 hours before they went and tried to buy a TV? What also chaps my arse is that this year (I haven't seen it in previous years) is retailers were posting store maps so people could plan their attack throughout the store and on other consumers that got in their way. I mean how easy are they going to make it, at least let these people find the deals on their own.

Ok I am almost done venting, but before I quit, I would just like to urge you as a consumer to stop this BS and feeding the Walmarts of the world. YOU are the customer and YOU should be able to call the shots. Not the other way around. And who really gives a crap in 3 years that your broken TV cost you $300 instead of $600? Its still broken. Family is what matters on holidays, not cheap stuff.

So, with that and seeing how well our blog gets read by America, here's my predictions for next years Black Friday Retail Hooker-a-thon.

  1. Walmart opens at 8:30pm offers pumpkin pie so you can just eat dessert in the store. It does go oh so well with pepper spray.
  2. Target offers a Wake-Up Call service to ensure you are out of bed in enough time to shower and look your best when you tackle that beotch for taking the last electric smoker. 
  3. Lowe's will build a new house for the first person in America that buys more than $2500 of light bulbs on Black Friday.
  4. While I have no experience with BJ's Wholesale Club, they will offer their namesake to the first 30 people that buy a pre-lit Christmas Tree. Sorry I went there.
  5. Kmart will pay their workers in kitchen gadgets and tube socks for working extended holiday hours.
Ok that's it. Stop buying into this crap will ya?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Our Manniversary!

It's hard to believe our little blog is one year old today. It didn't give us quite as many late nights and early mornings as our children have in the same time frame, but it's been a lot of work nonetheless. 

To celebrate, we're giving ourselves the day off and turning you all into staff writers today by letting you tell us your stories. Best fathering/parenting/suburbaning/allianceing story in the comments by 12 midnight Central Time on Sunday, November 20 gets a free t-shirt. 
We can't promise you'll be this dimly-lit.

And don't worry -- non-best story submitters are still welcome to buy one

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beauty in the Ear of the Beholder

My kids (all of them) have been on a real music kick lately. Which is great. I'd love for them all to grow up with an appreciation for music. Their selection in music, however, really makes me worry about the generation that should be paying for my Social Security benefits.

In no particular order, here are the songs that my kids most frequently request.

I'd like it known here and now that I don't play all of these for my progeny; certain songs will only "work" in Mommy's car. Anyone who lets them in on the fact that I could technically play them are welcome to drive the wee ones around while they rock out to the Biebs.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Why exactly do you fear my 25-pound baby?

I got a phone call on Wednesday that I had to come and pick my 2 year old up from her daycare because she had bitten another child. This is the first such call I've received because apparently it was the first such one they had made. I wasn't thrilled.

The zombie baby resting after her cannibalistic tirade.
Since the caller opted to receive their earful when I got there as opposed to on the phone, I arrived pretty upset. Why have they created a new policy that a child must go home for the day if they bite twice? They already have policies that kids must go home if they have a fever or if they have two scooty poos. I'm gonna have a hard time paying for daycare if I get fired for leaving work every day before lunch until those molars come in because my baby is teething, which coincidentally has symptoms like biting, fever, and scooty poos. 

Adding to my frustration is that my daycare should share responsibility for behavioral issues (if there is one)  because they spend more time with her than I do. By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, she spends about 50 waking hours with them every week, and a shade under 40 at home (and half of that time is spent locked into her car seat). Part of what I pay for (beyond the whole "making sure I can reliably stay at work") is them making sure she grows up having reasonable boundaries during the day. If she can't behave, they should have to take her home.

As it turns out, this sudden change in policy is due to pressure from the state to crack down on biting. Why, you ask (and I certainly did)? Because some parents view biting as a form of bullying and abuse and so they've lobbied the state to start cracking down on daycare centers. That's our tax dollars at work preventing my child from going through a perfectly normal developmental phase. 

I want to be perfectly clear that I don't condone bullying or child abuse in any way. [Note: In a fit of horrible parenting a few years ago, when one of my children was being bullied, I gave his little brother (by far the craziest of the bunch) permission to rip the head off of any kid who messed with his family, and I warned his daycare that I had given such a greenlight. We never ended up needing to deploy young Mr. Wolf, and we had no further issues.] At the same time, I don't condone a government entity trying to prevent baby on baby violence. As with many government attempts to protect us from babies, it is both well-intentioned and destined to fail. The only centers that will pay any attention are the ones that were already responsibly handling biting and other behaviors while the centers that were shady will continue to be shady. 

And if you happen to be one of the parents who is standing up and protecting the right of your child (who is no doubt a hair-pulling eye-gouger) to not be bitten, please assume that I mean no offense when I say "just shut the hell up already." My two year old biting your two year old isn't abusing your baby. She isn't taking their lunch money or making them feel insecure about themselves. They aren't going to grow up to being a fraction of their potential for any reason beyond your complete inability to let them grow up. 

Your children would be far better served by learning how to handle themselves than by you trying to legislate me out of a job. I encourage you to invest your time into protecting your kids from the real monsters out there. Things like drugs, obesity, a sense of entitlement, and Justin Bieber. 

If this is the biggest threat your child faces, consider yourself lucky.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Half-Marathon of Parenting

I did it! I did it with no tears, very minor amounts of bribery, and I accomplished it before my wife did. I successfully put all 3 children down for bed with no assistance while my wife was celebrating not being pregnant anymore. I really don't know what else to compare this accomplishment to. I mean its not like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, but then again its also no easy task. So given the time of the event to occur (roughly 2 hours of alone time) I will go ahead and compare it to my recent half marathon finish. While this may seem like a novice task for you seasoned veterans out there. Let me at least try to build the credibility of this up before you don't acknowledge it as a huge win.

This is how it feels.

I love my 3 kids all dearly, but to sum them up quickly my  kids are as follows: Emotional 5 year old Girl, Volatile 3 year Girl, and Hungry 1 month old Boy.  The dynamic kind of works like this. The 3 year old almost runs the show in the house. She is the wild card. A large girl that weighs about 3 lbs less than the 5 year old and a propensity to pull hair and hit the 5 year old when the parents are out of the room. The problem is the 5 year old just sits there, takes it, and cries. Meanwhile the 1 month old is one of 3 things (along with the percentages of time throughout the day): 1) Awake and calm 10%, 2) Awake, Crying, Hungry 45% 3) Unconscious 45%.

As you can see there's essentially a 50% chance my little dude was going to be awake, hungry & crying for the 2 girls' departure to dreamland. the planning involved to accomplish such a task is tough. Not only do you have to focus on the little guy but you need to make sure the older ones are worn out enough to sleep, but have calmed down enough to be ready for bed. It was about 2 hours or playing, bouncing, shooshing, & correcting, but it happened. The 2 girls faded off to sleep with little intervention from me. Well, the 3 year old has the equivalent of restless leg syndrome in her entire body and it takes her about 30 minutes of flopping around in bed and asking for candy before she dozed off. Regardless, they didn't cry and it was magical.

I think I even surprised my wife when she came home and stuff was cleaned up. I rule.

Anyone have any amazing single fathering stories they'd like to share? Leave them in the comments or contact us and we'll let you blog about how awesome you are.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Zombie Apocalypse

Happy Halloween. We are now a month in to having 3 children in the house. The boy child is now a month old and is doing swell. However, physically (potentially mentally) I think the wife and I and completely are entering a vegetative state. While I believe there is scientific evidence that there is no memory associated to pain (just too tired to look said evidence up), I hold firm to the fact that there is also no memory associated with being so tired you can't talk without the aid of caffeine.

Well 3 out of 4 isn't bad

While I am stumbling around my house bumping into walls I do however get the occasional brilliant thought coming through my head. Like today I thought, "How can something that weighs 12lbs, completely shut down a 200lb man?" It's mind boggling... and makes my head hurt. Now I if I get any other wonderful ideas or thoughts, I'll be sure to share. Until then, sleep well. I am completely jealous of you.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Staying at home

Recently I read a blog from my buddy Abesh's wife talking about working after motherhood. It's a very honest and highly recommended bit of reading, but it made me think about my own path to validating that I should always work full time.

When my wife and I got married, she already had a 5 year old, who was (and is) awesome. He was absolutely the sort of kid you'd send over to someone's house if you were trying to convince them that having kids was a good idea. It was especially cool because his biological is a great dad, so we had him exactly half the time, which meant we could still, you know, go out and do things. Due to the ease of hanging with Michael and the part-time nature of that, being a stay-at-home dad still seemed like a possibility.

Shortly after getting married we had another child, [Note: But not that short -- the really magical magic happened after the honeymoon. Lucas was born almost exactly 1 month before our first anniversary. Stop judging me.] and everything changed. I mean, this kid was here every stinking day; I was like "When is his dad gonna pick him up from daycare?" Then I was like "You idiot, you are his dad." Then I was like "You need some damned sleep, man." I realized at this point that staying at home might have some drawbacks.

Then, when Lucas was about 6 months old, he got sick. Not deathly ill, just that sort of sick where they are too sick to go to daycare because they might give it back to the kid who gave it to them at daycare, but not sick enough to hang out all comatose on the couch all day while you work or nap or whatever. I had the schedule flexibility at work to stay with him the whole time, so he and I were home alone with each other for 3 days. I don't actually remember anything that happened during those three days, but we literally wouldn't talk to each other for 6 weeks after that. You may think you could never stay that angry at your own baby for that long, but trust me, it's much easier when he is even angrier at you. It was about this point that I knew being a full-time stay-at-home parent wasn't in the cards for me.

I am thoroughly convinced that the key to a happy child is happy parents (perhaps not drug-induced happy, but happy). What path is right for you isn't going to be right for everyone, and that is OK. What isn't OK is judging other parents for their decisions. At least not until you have some kids and have what I like to refer to as "grown up problems," then judge away, but know that those parents don't give a crap what you or anybody else thinks. [Note: I'm sure those without kids just read that last sentence and thought "Wait, I have grown up problems," and those with kids are just nodding and smiling. Because you don't.]

And whatever you do, don't be like this advice-seeker, who is obviously still a child.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Man Quirks

We are all human. Each of us wonderfully imperfect in our own way. With these imperfections comes little quirks that make us each unique (and annoying in some situations). I am here today to share a deep dark quirk of mine that very loosely relates to some marital frustrations on my wife's part. I will say before I go on here that 1) the "marital frustration" is very light-hearted and joked about in our house, and 2) will not cause me to get in trouble when I discuss.

So cutting straight to the point, I tier my underpants. What does that mean you ask? Well very simply put I rank my underpants and sort them accordingly wearing the lowest tiered underpants first and most frequent. Here are how the tiers break down. Oh and as a point of clarification, once you move down in a tier there is no way to move back up.

Tier 1: This group mostly consists of Size XL underpants that I have had lying around since I was about 70 lbs larger. These loin cloths serve as a basic barrier between my goodies and my pants. There is nothing special about them.

Tier 2: These beauties are just coming out of thier prime. They were once at a Tier 3 level and are in the beginning of the twilight of their career. They are used mostly for work and some special occasions depending on how many Tier 3's are in the rotation & clean. This is a very dicouraging day for me when they have to be moved down a rung.

Tier 3: This is why underpants are made. The big show. Much like socks, there is nothing like a brand new pair of underpants being put on. They have never wrapped themselves around anyone before (I hope) and they feel like fuzzy sunshine. Depending on the quality and the frequency of use, underpants typically last the longest in this tier. this is their time to shine on the weekends and for special events.

So, was that TMI? Probably. But the point is that we all have silly quirks that we think waaay too much about. At least these haven't made it into my rotation.

Now, please tell me I am not the only one with a goofy quirk....

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bachelor Party Preview

Following a summer which included a fraternity anniversary tour, I'm heading to a bachelor party this weekend in Nashville. While this is technically a two day expedition, I'll only be heading down for Saturday night. What can I say? Between blowing all of my reserve allowance at the fraterversary and having a youth sports commitment on Friday night I'll be driving my own happy butt to Tennessee on Saturday morning.

To help psyche myself up, I thought I'd fondly recall some of my favorite bachelor party memories for you all here.

Actually that's a terrible idea (and that isn't even taking the statute of limitations implications into account). Instead I'll just list 10 stupid things I promise not to do this weekend.

  1. Drive to the bars. My car will stay under lock and key at the hotel from the moment I arrive.
  2. Drink Jagermeister. Unless of course it is dropped into a glass of Red Bull.
  3. Dance.
  4. Go all night without making up an absolutely audacious lie to at least one complete stranger for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
  5. Sleep in a hotel room containing fewer than 4 other dudes.
  6. Fantasize that I'm going to spend less than 30 minutes Sunday morning throwing up. 
  7. Pretend for even one minute that I'm in a bachelor party movie.
  8. Say "What happens in Nashville stays in Nashville, brah."
  9. Eat a Panera Bread breakfast sandwich on my way home.
  10. Keep anything from my wife (although she is sworn to secrecy).
And to think that some of you were worried about me.
Wearing this t-shirt is also on my to-don't list.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Playoff Beards

Professional athletes have known for decades what most of us have only recently come to realize: extra facial hair gives us extra power. Everyone can keep their face as smooth as a baby's butt during the regular season, but when the time calls for it and you have to dig deep, you can't waste your energy on things like proper grooming.

Recently I found myself in such a dilemma. Or, more accurately, I put myself in such a dilemma. You see, this summer I skipped a regular haircut and thus skipped a beard-trimming (for any number of reasons, I usually trim my beard when I get a haircut). Once the hair on my face started getting a little longer than usual, I came to enjoy the added machismo of my beard and the extra power it gave me.

Drink in all that power.

Out of convenience I claimed that I was growing this beard as a playoff beard of sorts for the next release of some software I use (and, for the record, love). And that software went into full support.  And then it went into general availability. And then I went to a party to celebrate its release. And I couldn't really come up with any more software related excuses.

Plus my wife got tired of me looking like.. well, like that. Never one to miss an opportunity to be an idiot, I had to have some fun trimming it back to its normal levels and kept a photo journal.

My sister called this the reverse mullet.

Sometimes I like to participate in Civil War re-enactments.

If your daughter ever brings a face like this home, you owe her an apology.

Back to normal-ish.

Why not shave it all the way? Because while my wife may not like the Grizzly Adams look, she'd leave me if I ever went clean-shaven again.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Cost of Happiness

A few months ago I changed jobs. As an IT contractor this happens kind of frequently so I have learned. Contracts last anywhere from 6 months and up. It kind of sucks as typically firms don't have great insurance, you are thrust into new environments and have to establish relationships pretty quickly, and you have to learn new systems. So about 6 months in, you might just be getting your feet under you and you need to move along.


When I changed a few months ago the firm I was with had been bought out by a larger firm and the benefits went downhill. So with a pregnant wife, I was forced to look for new employment. I ended up with a new firm at a new place of employment. It worked out wonderfully. I got more money and killer benefits.


Well, as this contract is winding down to the 6 month mark I looked to evaluate my current situation. Where was I professionally? Was I happy with my current job? Were they happy with me? After some self-evaluation I realized I was not being optimized to my fullest potential. Now I don't want this to sound bad on my current employer as I have definitely contributed equally (if not more) to the overall feeling of funkiness of this job. As I was evaluated I came to the realization that I wasn't ready to leave my previous employer. Luckily I had kept some good contacts there and there was a need for me to come back in a better role than what I was in before. However, there's a caveat. I can't go back with my current firm & current firm's insurance. Also the money isn't as nice as it is here.


So that begs so many questions as the bread winner in the house:

1)       How much are you willing to give up for your happiness?

2)      Am I being selfish by putting my own needs in front of my family?

3)      Is money really the key to happiness? If not, is a good insurance policy?

4)      Damn, am I going to be a contractor the rest of my life? And what kind of pressure does that put on me & my family?

5)      Am I blowing this out of proportion and should I just be happy I am employable?


So starting next week I will be starting another new job back at the place I started as a contractor. There is some comfort knowing I am going into the situation with established relationships and a knowledge of their systems, but what happens in another 6 months – year? Well, here goes the gamble anyway, and wish me a successful stay and many many contract renewals.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Ollie Blog

You may have noticed recently a lot of new posts my wittier, more literary sound partner on this blog.* Well after 11 days of more or less sleepless nights and days filled of questioning my sanity, I think it is time to officially blog about my new kid.

Amazing that 9lbs of little dude can knock out a 200lb guy
We had John Oliver (Ollie) back on 9/29 as planned. It was a hideously gory delivery (as most are) with very minor complications. My wife and I didn't find out what we were having with any of our kids and the same was true here. So we were pretty content knowing we would be surprised with our 3rd girl. As the delivery was occurring things started moving pretty quickly. So, I didn't notice anything but a crying blob that had just been delivered. Then all of a sudden my wife says something I will never forget "Ooooh It's a Boy!" My head immediately popped up and went in for a closer look. Sure enough my kid had an extra leg. My jaw hit the floor and I haven't stopped smiling. I still don't know if it has hit home yet that we have someone else in the house the can (will be able to) pee standing up, but I am .

As you can recall from most of my blogs about my kids, I had been blessed with 2 lovely, mildly emotionally unstable girls. Up until now girls have been relatively harmless. Not very physical (although my second is getting there), a few breakdowns a week, and not too terribly pouty. The majority of the fights and crying spells they get into revolve around fashion decisions they are faced with during the day. Girls while not necessarily easy are at least predictable.

Now we have Mr. Dude and I am stumped. I am fired up to have someone to play catch with in 6 or 7 years, but until then, I have no idea what to expect other than balls, dirt, and cars. So, expect some posts in the near future or some dialogue between my blog partner and I on what I am supposed to do with he breaks his arm jumping off of the couch.

*Oh and I apologize in advance of you ridiculing this post and its lack of hilarity and tact. I am severely sleep deprived and it is only by luck and the desire of you to click on the google ads that are keeping me awake through posting this.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Devil You Know

My wife and I (Wait a minute, did I just start a post with the words "My wife" after including "The Devil" in the title. Yes, yes I did.) have practically the same job. Sure her work clothes are much smaller than mine and I have covered parking at my office, but other than that our experiences from day to day are pretty similar. Not only do we work both work in the same function, IT (that's "information technology" for those of you who probably have no business reading a blog on the "world wide web"), but we both work in the same discipline, BI (that's "business intelligence" for those of you who probably also work in IT and still have no idea what it is that we do). And, even though we work for different companies, we both work primarily on software sold by the same vendor.

Oftentimes, we even have the same leftovers for lunch. Freaky deaky, I know.

Every time I share this with someone, they immediately fall into one of two camps: that would be unfathomably awesome, or that would suck things that are really sucky. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

Unfathomably awesome

  • I can say things like "I'm on call" and  "Sorry, my meeting ran long" and she immediately understands that she'll need to pick up all of the kids and take care of them until I show up 3 hours later smelling like bourbon.
  • She makes fat bank. More than me actually. I'm progressive like that.
  • When we need to talk about work, we save a heck of a lot of time providing context with one another. To put it another way, we both really, really get Dilbert cartoons.
  • She forgives me my boondoggles. I've been doing a lot more traveling lately, and she's awesome at dealing with it. In fact, the house and kids are much calmer and more collected when I come back. Which makes me think I should leave a lot more often.
  • We can literally call each other in the middle of the day, ask a deeply technical question, get a deeply technical answer that we trust, and end the convo with an "I love you". Which is nice.

Suckety suck suck suck

  • She can say things to me like "I'm on call" and  "Sorry, my meeting ran long" and I immediately understand that I'll  need to pick up all of the kids and take care of them until she shows up 3 hours later smelling like tequila.
  • I recently realized that I don't ever really talk about my job at home. I think its because by the time she's unloaded her day, I've already been talking about work for an hour, and I don't really want any more office talk.
  • She also occasionally has big projects happen, which effectively leaves me as an ineffective single parent. She's actually in Miami right now wrapping up a project that left me a total bad a$$. PLEASE DON'T COME ROB MY HOUSE NOW THAT YOU KNOW THE HEAD BREADWINNER IS OUT OF TOWN!

Somewhere in the middle
Looking back, this really isn't much of a competition. Having a ton of common ground with my wife is hugely important to me and more than makes up for not flapping my gums about work and being forced to spend some extra time with my kids.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Boys are not girls

My buddy and co-blogger John recently had his first boy after a couple of girls (or as I like to call it, the "Reverse Oswald"). Since the only advice I ever got after having my first and only girl was "be sure to wipe front to back" I thought I might impart to him a little wisdom to help him raise the rougher-around-the-edges sex.
  • Boys love to be naked. This doesn't really stop until they are old enough that it's awkward just how ashamed of their own bodies they are.
  • He will, at some point, get a scar on his face. I recommend getting in front of it and cracking him on the eyebrow with one of your old fraternity paddles. Go ahead and let your daughters take a shot at him, too. Really relieves the pressure once the first one is out of the way.
  • He's gonna be a momma's boy. Deal with it early. Hopefully he'll think you are a lot cooler around age 3.
  • Baby boys' balls look weird. Don't worry about it.
  • You will screw him up somehow. Knowing that going in should hopefully make it easier.
  • Boys fight.
  • If you have hardwood floors in your bathroom, swap it out for tile. They have to learn to pee standing up, and that involves a lot of puddles that will be soaked up by porous hardwood.
  • A nice laminate would be fine, too. Seriously, your bathroom will always smell like pee.
  • Your boy will, at some point, carry a purse around the house. He'll want his toenails painted. He'll occupy himself with My Little Pony toys. Let him. What you consider a worst case scenario isn't really all that bad, and if it goes that way, HIS worst case scenario is probably having a homophobic a-hole for a father.
  • Don't be surprised when he doesn't like the stuff you do. You'll eventually learn to love the stuff he's into. Trust me.
  • If you want him to play sports, make your girls play sports, then tell him not to. Spite will get you further than encouragement.
  • Make him respect his mother, no matter what. If he doesn't eventually thank you for this, you didn't do it right.
Just remember, every kid will be different, and adding the gender variable will only make it more interesting. You may as well enjoy it while you can, because you have a son for 18 years, and a daughter for life.

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. And all in only 4 faces.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Brand New Baby from about 5 years ago

As those of you following us here know, John had some pretty good news pretty late last night. 

Since he's a little pre-occupied and not ready to share how all of that went down, I thought I'd start a share an email my good friend Karl sent out when my 5-year-old was born.

Dateline 4/13/06

According to reports that are coming in off the AP Wire, we are getting word that Jamie and Becca are the proud new parents of a healthy, happy, baby Boy.

Here is what we have been able to piece together at this time.

St.Peters, MO 4/12/06
Sometime around 6:30pm, Becca began feeling discomfort stemming from being 9 months pregnant.  This discomfort worried Jamie to the point he began sweating profusely and we believe may have rendered himself dehydrated.  Becca's pains continued for what seemed like days, but was really only 2 1/2 hours.  At that time, Jaime thought it would be best if a Medical Professional look into this pain as Oswald, as we all know is only qualified as an "Email Shooter" and not a Mid-Wife.

St. Louis, MO
Around 9pm (reports are still sketchy) the family of two arrived at ST. LUKES HOSPITAL.  There it was confirmed that Becca was indeed pregnant and that the Baby was no longer happy with the living arrangements made between son and mother and their living arrangements over the past 9 months.  Doctors being of sound mind decided to admit Becca to see if they couldn't come to some agreement through arbitration, or if that failed, actual labor.

Somewhere Indiana - 9pm ish 4/12/06
At the very same time that Becca was admitted to ST LUKES, Oswald's parents were beginning their hellish drive from Canton, OH to St. Peters, MO for the arrival of their first grandchild.  As the baby was not due until tomorrow (4/13) Dan and Georgia decided to be safe, call it a night and get a hotel room in Indiana.  It is at this point that his parents used a telephone to call and advise their son of their plans.  Panic set back in as Jamie alerted them to the progress that Becca was making and if they wanted to be present for the birth, they were to demand the money back, get back in to the car and drive, drive like the wind to be present for the birth of their grandson.

Back in St. Louis 4/12/06 - 10pm ish
Becca now feeling better due to the epidural that had recently been injected into her spinal cord was influenced by medical professionals not to push until Midnight.  If she could hold off until then, this nuclear family could get an extra day in the hospital.  Knowing how good hospital cuisine can be, all agreed and Jamie found himself watching South Park and Seinfield episodes from a very uncomfortable chair in a very bright room.

As midnight approached, Becca was told to begin pushing.  Jamie was warned only once that it was only she that needed to push.  She pushed for what we believe to be 6 cycles and after about a half hour of this, Jamie and Becca welcomed for the first time their new son - Lucas Dan Oswald at exactly 12:27am 4/13/06.

While this miracle of life was happening in a closed, secure delivery room.  Dan (a.k.a. Grandpa) was able to out run both Illinois and Missouri State Police and arrived at the hospital exactly 10 minutes before the birth.  While charges of speeding, evading arrest, and failure to use a turn signal are still pending, both Grandma and Grandpa made it to the hospital in the nick of time.

Tale of the Tape:
Lucas Dan Oswald
7lbs 10oz / 20" inches in length
He can read at a 4th grade level and thinks Harry Potter is a wus
Expected Left hander with a penchant for the knuckle ball

Everyone, including Jamie has 10 fingers, 10 toes and is resting and doing well.  Please join me in welcoming the newest addition to our extended family Lucas Dan.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bad A$$ of the Weekend

I'm a pretty big fan of the Badass of the Week blog (probably NSFW). The basic premise is that once a week or so a historical figure is praised for being, well, a badass, with descriptions often including tales of roundhouse-kicking and daddy-part-punching. I get to feel like I'm being educated (these posts are very thoroughly researched) and entertained (did I mention the roundhouse-kicking?).

What do badassery and I have in common? Historically, not much. But this weekend I stepped it up.

I watched 7 kids. All by my lonesome.

Due to a series of overlapping commitments, projects running over their deadlines, visiting relatives, and the fact that my wife and in-laws were all tragically born without a logistically-oriented bone in their collective bodies, I found out Saturday morning that I'd be watching my 3 youngest children and 4 of their cousins for the bulk of the weekend. This isn't normally a big deal -- surprisingly, this isn't the first time this has happened, and to be fair, the extra 4 kids are old enough, interesting enough, and well-mannered enough that they don't require much extra effort except for in the food preparation arena (it's like a damned Army mess hall at chow time).

There's also one next to me in the front seat.

What makes this weekend different, and what elevated me from a normal underpaid babysitter is the field trip I decided to throw in. You know, in addition to dragging them to church and a pair of youth soccer games (including team pictures!).

I took these guys roller skating. And it was awesome. Everybody had fun (even the 2 year old who I wouldn't let skate). They won prizes. They did laps. They had snacks. And practically nobody cried. Which is amazing. Because taking my kids in public usually leaves me bawling.

So, that is pretty much my whole resume. The ball is in your court, Ben Thompson. I figure that willingly taking 7 kids to a roller skate without once rolling up into the fetal position and sucking my thumb in the corner ought to put me in the annals of badassitude, somewhere between Attila the Hun and Dwight Johnson.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Drumpkin - Pumpkin Brew Reviews

Fall is upon us. Kids are back in school. Saturday's belong to little kids' soccer games. And every brewery and its sister has decided to put out a cooler weather-themed beer. Continuing in our tradition of trying to save you some time and money, we're reviewing a trio of pumpkin beers.

Third Place: O'Fallon Pumpkin Beer
It breaks my heart to give O'Fallon, easily my favorite brewer, last place here, but this is really a testament to the strength of its competitors more than to a misstep on their part. The one thing that did pull this to the back of the pack it'd be the way it felt in my mouth. It felt a lot like a Coke. Which is good. If you are looking for Coke.

Second Place: Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale
I'm not a big advocate of Blue Moon in general (wheat beers are too fizzy, light, and sweet for me), but this hit the spot. The least pumpkin-y of the three, it was really well done, although still not really my bag.

Winner: Schlafly Special Release Pumpkin Ale
Easily my second favorite brewery, Schlafly seldom puts out a bad beer and this is no exception. This beer is sweeter than I'd normally like, but it was the lightest on the spice that makes pumpkin pie pumpkin pie. A worthy winner.

Small Print
In the interest of full disclosure I should let you know that I haven't historically liked Pumpkin beer, but it's been a while since I've given it a shake, so I thought this would be a good start. Believe me, based on my memory any of these would  have been my favorite pumpkin beer to date. Individual tastes vary, so if you like pumpkin beer these are all worth a try. I had to stay pretty local because I couldn't find many national beers with pumpkin offerings. I could have gone all St. Louis, but I refused to buy the Shocktop pumpkin because everything that Michelob puts out that isn't Michelob (or Light or Ultra) sucks.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Name Challenged

Back in March. My wife and I officially announced that we were pregnant with our 3rd kid. Well as the October 4th due date has drawn closer, we have figured out a bunch of stuff. The most important is that the baby won't be born on October 4th. In fact the baby will be coming no later than September 29th as we are scheduled for an induction.

With pending babies and multiple SAP conferences we have been a little slammed and our writing & your reading enjoyment has suffered. With that consider this our first dream sequence post where we shamelessly recycle come old post and make it new again.

This one is pretty fitting since we are about ready to name our new kid. So here are the 8 rules in naming your child (from a Suburban Father Perspective). Funny how some of these sounded like a good idea 6 months ago.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Time For Savings

You will soon realize how terribly clever that title actually is. I am addicted to many things. Well perhaps addicted isn't the best word to describe it, but let’s say I can be a retailer’s best friend. I buy too much and I recommend stuff I like to everyone whether they want to know about it or not. Obviously running and shoes are the main sources for my addiction, but I also enjoy watches & timepieces. There is a difference between the two. A watch is something that you tell time with, put on your wrist, and will break in a few years. A timepiece is something different. It’s a forever watch. I already have my Big Boy/Forever watch and I love it. It is a Mont Blanc TimewalkerChronograph.
I don't want to hurt you.
It is wonderful and I enjoy looking at it. The problem with a Big Boy watch with me is that I don’t want to mess it up. While I lucked out and bought my Forever watchat a Mont Blanc store that was going out of business for 90% off, I still don’t want to hurt it. It is precious.

So my fear of effing them up and the fact that timepieces can be really expensive doesn’t help me (or my wife) wanting to collect them either. So I have to do what I can on a budget. For the last year or so I have been looking at the J. Crew catalogue and have noticed they are doing a bunch of cross brand selling. One of those brands is Timex and they the two companies have collaborated and come up with a great casual watch that can easily be worn to the office. 
Timex® military watch $150

The problem with this one, you guessed it, cost. While I don’t have a hard time paying $150 for a watch, I have a hard time paying $150 for a Timex just because it’s in the J. Crew catalogue. 

Now this is where my witty title comes in. So, finally my other work watch ran out of juice and I thought that I would explore my options. So I did some looking around the Timex site and saw that they have what I imagine are watches for old people called Easy Readers. Basically the have bigger numbers on them, but are just what I am looking for in an everyday work watch (Simple, classic, cheap). So knowing better than to buy anything directly from the manufacturer online, I hit Amazon and picked up a simple Easy Reader for $25. I didn’t like the black leather strap on it. So I did another Amazon search and found a wonderful Nylon band for $12 that would complement the watch well and that could go with brown or black. So, here’s what I came up with for $40. I think it looks just as nice as the ‘ol J.Crew version and with the money I saved I can blow that on more running shoes or diapers. Most likely diapers… and formula.

How Did I do for $40?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Red-Shirt year

A few weeks back we wrote about the right of passage into Kindergarten. Its a huge step for your kid, but what if your little angel is right on the cusp of heading into kindergarten or being held back a year? Well, we were forced with a decision this year that possibly could make or break our oldest daughter's future in school. As you can see by the witty title of this post, we are deciding on holding our kid back a year, but want to get some perspective from other parents on what they've done.

While the above paragraph is wonderfully written, its not enough for a full blog post so I'll go into our decision on holding our daughter back. My oldest has always been a girly girl since she decided to have a personality. Also like many first-born's (so I've heard) she has been very cautious, shy, and critical of situations before jumping in head first. We have never had to worry about her at a pool and just heading for the water. At times she can be kind of needy, but perhaps she is a bit more than most kids. She constantly seeks reassurance and needs a lot of pushing when it comes to trying new things. Its how she's wired. We love her personality and can think of 1000's of situations that would be way worse than our kid being a tad timid.

As this school year was coming up we knew we had a decision to make. We had already decided that our kids will go to the local private school* for grade school, but we just weren't sure that Hannah was fully ready for kindergarten. So the alternative would be sending her to the Public School for kindergarten for this year and then having her do a victory lap of kindergarten next year at the private school. After some thinking, debating, and just going back and forth on the subject, we decided on the "victory lap" theory and will send her to the private school to do kindergarten again next year. We have thought long and hard on this decision and after talking with a lot of parents we never once heard them say that they regretted holding their kid back. On the contrary we ran into a lot of situations where people wished they would have been held back.

So with that, we'd like to hear your opinion what you think or stories about the decisions you made as parents.

*Disclaimer: Before you pass judgement on the whole public/private decision, please know a few things. 1) St. Louis is weird and a ton of people go to private Catholic schools. 2) We live in an awesome school district that is rated very high and we are big fans of our Public School. My wife is actually an Occupational Therapist in our district. 3) I am not rich by any stretch of the word. Our Catholic school is about $2k LESS a year than day care.