Hair: All a Dad Really Needs

19 03 2010
  • My four year old daughter’s first words to me this morning were, “I love you Dad.”  After returning the sentiment, I asked what it is she likes about me. She said, after a moment’s pause, “Your hair looks good.”  If only I’d known it could be so simple.  I could have saved myself the stress of worrying about being a good role model, setting boundaries and providing some tough love when necessary.  All I really needed was to make sure I have enough hair gel.
  • Cheating on Sandra Bullock is kind of like having a brand new Porsche and thinking, “This car just isn’t good enough.”
  • Hurray for the “little guy.”  Go Murray State and Ohio University.  Keep up the good work in the NCAA tournament!
  • I’m so thankful for my wonderful family.  I had lunch with most of late mother’s sisters and one of her brothers and one of my cousins this past week.  They are wonderful, open-hearted people, and it’s like being able to have lunch with my mom again.  Like many whose parents have passed, I wish I would have had lunch with my mom more often than I did as an adult (especially if she had made it…mmm!), but there are so many similarities between my mother and her sisters that I feel blessed to have the aunts still in my life.  (One of them gave me some holy water to use on my swollen legs, which I thought was very touching!
  • I love that spring is near and that it is sunny and 70 degrees here today.  Cardinal baseball can’t be too far away.
  • I resisted the Facebook craze for a long time and still find myself annoyed at status updates like, “I’ve been cleaning my floors today” or messages giving me the thrilling news that someone scored 8 billion points on a game called “Pork N Bean Shuffle.”  However, I am really enjoying a couple of rekindled high school friendships and am thankful to Facebook for them.  With all the crappy news we hear every day, it’s nice to know there are still some good people out there.




Technology Is Scary Unless You’re 4

1 02 2010

Saying that my four-year-old daughter does not come from a long line of technologically advanced people is an understatement.  I offer the following true stories as proof.

In the early nineties, I acquired my first personal home computer of my very own.  It was exciting, but I felt a little intimidated.  I know that I resisted going to any sites such as Playboy.com for the first few days.  At some point, however, it was time to find out what all the internet fuss was about.  Fate played a cruel trick on me that day with a strike of malicious, unfortunate timing.  Not more than ten seconds after going to such a site for the first time, I received my first on-screen message of “Your computer has performed an illegal operation and must shut down.”  I now know this has nothing to do with the government or decency laws.  At the time, however, I experienced momentary panic and even unplugged my computer.  I thought the police had been watching my online movements.  I realized a little later that I was just being an idiot.  Years later, I admitted this faux pas to a couple of friends and learned that I am not alone.  One friend’s father was once trying to play some sort of online game when he received this message.  He ended up hiding in his garage, thinking law enforcement was on the way to grab him.  This made me feel slightly better.

But back to my blood relatives.  My own mother and father were very afraid of technology.  One time, many years ago when I still lived at home, a twenty-something family member had come over from his apartment to use my parents’ hose and driveway to wash his car.  He left his beeper (yes, this was back in beeper/pager days) on my parents’ table.  It’s unfortunate that I was not home and that he was outside when the beeper went off.  My parents were alarmed and first did not realize from where the beeping was coming.  Once they located the thing, they of course had absolutely no idea what it was and grew nervous.  Long story short, they literally picked it up gently and set it in the middle of the back yard in case it was “going to explode or something.”  At some point later, my other family member came in and asked if my parents knew where his beeper was, thus solving the mystery.

Once I moved away from home, I had to return there any time the power had gone out because their VCR would reset in such a way that their cable tv was no longer coming in.  There was a better chance of my mother accidentally discovering a cure for cancer while making chicken and dumplings than there was of them being able to navigate the VCR menu and fix the settings.  I’m hoping that either Heaven is technology free or that you get some fantastic tutorial from St. Peter himself upon arrival or they may be floundering around up there.

I have an older sister who just recently added texting to her cell phone usage.  She sent me her first trial text (which took her about a day to “type out”), and I responded with what I thought was a very simple reply, just to let her know I received it.  I sent, “Texting rules!” back to her, as in “Texting is cool” or “Texting is good.”   I did not hear back from her but instead ran into her at a grocery store the next day.  She said, “Oh, it wouldn’t let me read the text you sent back. I think it thought there was something lewd in your text…it said something about breaking texting rules.”  It took me a second before I realized what had happened.  She thought my statement of “Texting rules!” was some sort of warning from her cell phone company police.  So, I explained it to her.  I want to make it clear that these are intelligent, sensible people otherwise.

So, you would think my daughter would be in trouble when it comes to technology.  However, she is not.  I think maybe God decided to add some technology savvy into the DNA for any children born after, say, 1985.  She seems to inherently understand devices.  She can easily navigate through my mp3 player to use album cover art to pick the song she wants.  I gave her a used digital camera to play with, and it took her no time at all to figure out how to switch between photos and recording moving video.  I’m telling you; I dread the day when she can read everything on the tv guide screen because I’m never again going to get to watch anything other than children’s animated shows once that happens.  I’m considering holding her back from kindergarten for just that very reason!  Then again, I should send her because you never know when my laptop could stop working, and maybe, just maybe, she’ll know how to fix it.





One Screwy Year Later

29 01 2010

I’m no blog expert, but I’m pretty sure it’s poor blog management when you “disappear” and pen nothing new in three months, six months, nine months, or (choking gasp) nearly one full year.  I have been charged with the following offenses:  Blog abandonment, neglect of a diary-like webspace, and being a blog-block.  I am here to readily admit to being guilty of these crimes, which are considered felonies in the justice system of the blogosphere.  Unsure of the punishment I deserve, I face you, the jury and give the following defense:

A conglomeration of events occurred, causing my creative energy to be squelched.  Some of you may remember that I was chronicling the mystery swelling that was wrecking my physical health.  (Unfortunately, it is still undiagnosed and is not improved, but I am dealing with it and currently trying some extreme dieting ideas to try to pinpoint the problem myself).  At some point, there simply were no more words to say about it and no good news to report.  I didn’t want the blog to be a wallowing pity party, and it was becoming clear that there was not a solution coming any time soon.  That was event number one.

Around a year ago, my then wife decided that she could not handle my illness any longer and informed me she had filed for a divorce.  There were some signs (big ones, actually), but it was still a shock.  I certainly felt betrayed.  That was event number two, which actually counts as about one million events rolled into one since I was worried about what this would do to my daughter, custody issues, quickly finding a new house, selling ours, figuring out how to afford health insurance, etc.

I’ve certainly thought about my blog since then, but I just didn’t know what to do with it.  I considered deleting it.  I considered moving some of the past entries into a brand new blog.  Most of all, I just couldn’t stomach coming to it.  Until now.  I am ready.  I love my new house.  My daughter is incredibly inspiring (I do have co-custody and have her half the time), and I am a happy person at peace (except for the health issue, of course).  My faith is strongly intact.  I decided to keep the blog the way it was, sans a couple of “couple” pictures and some obvious updates that were needed “about me” in light of the situation.  I could go back and delete any entries where I praised my wife or that sort of thing, but the reality is that whatever I wrote at that time was the truth in my world at that moment so I’m leaving it alone.

So I guess I’m back in case there are two or three people out there who give a crap whether this blog exists or not and are willing to forgive my neglect instead of tossing me in blog solitary confinement.  By the way, this will not be a blog to rip my ex.  She’s a good mother; that’s all that matters to me about her anymore.  We’re on friendly terms.  I’ve chosen for the sake of my daughter and my own peace of mind not to be bitter.  That will be the last said about that by me.

My daughter, nearing kindergarten age, seems to be taking everything in stride.  I am very thankful for this.  She is the light of my being, and I never want to see her hurt.  She is currently obsessed with the idea of me marrying Trish from the television show “Clean House.”  At least she seems to have good taste!  Oh, and my daughter just asked me to be her Valentine.  Life is beautiful.

It’s good to be here and to get reacquainted with you.  Hi, I’m Matt.





A Swell(ing) Journey

20 02 2008

When they stick someone else’s kidney in you so that you can go on living, you get used to seeing doctors and having lab work done, a LOT of lab work. Terms like creatinine, BUN, and urinalysis become common in your language. This is par for the course, and I gladly accept it. I have enjoyed nearly five healthy, fun-filled years since my generous sister readily agreed to let them cut her open and steal a kidney to give to me. (I have other amazing siblings who were willing as well.)

My doctors, nurses and lab technicians have been great. (I give my highest recommendation to the kidney clinic at the University Of Louisville.) I really can’t even complain about my health insurance. There were tense, frustrating times with them, but for the most part the amounts that have been covered have been reasonable. Without health insurance, I’m not sure I’d be alive to see the radiant smiles of my wife and daughter.

One interesting and somewhat annoying aspect of being a transplant recipient (besides the big pile of pills taken morning and night) is that you have to watch your health very closely. If you sneeze funny, you’re supposed to let someone know about it. The risk of kidney rejection never goes away, and the medications’ side effects can adversely affect the rest of your body.

When I recently woke up with some strange swelling in a part of the body that a guy really doesn’t want strange swelling, little did I know that a whirlwind of doctor’s visits, tests, labs and a mystery that Dr. House would appreciate was about to begin. In the past week, I’ve lived a life of health care. (The following is not a complaint, as my care has been excellent. It is more a journal of a strange journey.)

Day 1: I visit my family doctor’s office about the initial swelling. Besides the swelling, I’m feeling fine. They set me up with a specialist in that area, but the next available appointment is more than a week away.

Day 2: The swelling increases, enough that it affects the way I can move. I’m also feeling a littler weaker. I call to see if my appointment with the specialist can be moved up. It does get moved up a couple of days due to a cancellation. However, it’s still about a week away.

Day 3: I just don’t feel right. I still have the swelling. I also have some unexplainable weight gain (more than just a couple pounds). I call the Louisville kidney clinic to let them know what’s going on. They order the standard labs to check kidney function to make sure I’m not going into rejection.

Day 4: I get the kidney results, which are fine. That is great news, but the swelling has spread to most of the lower half of my body. It’s getting difficult to continue working. It’s actually getting difficult to walk more than a few seconds at a time. The specialist appointment is still off in the distance, but I will be seeing my local kidney doctor (a regular check-up appointment) the next day.

Day 5: I see the local kidney doctor. The swelling is bad and all over from my abdomen down. I now have gained over 15 pounds in just a few days. The doctor expresses extreme concern. While this could be a sign of kidney rejection, the recent labs show otherwise. The labs also seem to indicate that it’s not the liver. The doctor orders emergency tests be done right away at the hospital. I go and spend the evening at the hospital and, after drinking a bunch of goop, I have a CT scan, a doppler ultrasound test on both legs, and a chest X-ray. (Think lots of bills coming in the mail; gone are the days of a $250 deductible!) They are checking for blood clots and a couple of other possibilities that would explain the swelling. My local kidney doctor is great and is waiting for the results via his cell phone, even though it’s well into the night at this point. The results come back as normal. The doctor talks to me by phone and admits to being somewhat baffled. A water pill is prescribed to try to give some relief from the swelling. The doctor decides to consult with the Louisville kidney clinic doctors tomorrow morning and also instructs that I get the kidney lab work done again in the a.m since kidney rejection is still a possibility, though this doesn’t seem to exactly fit the situation.

Day 6: I start the water pill and go and have blood drawn again for the kidney check. I also give my urine sample to the lucky lady at the lab who always seems excited to get it. Let’s just say it’s good to be near a bathroom when taking the water pill. I speak to my local doctor in the morning. After the consult with the Louisville doctors (who are also somewhat puzzled), the next course of action is that I get an echocardiogram to check for heart problems. (This wasn’t one of the first tests ordered because my heart sounded fine at the appointment with my doctor and because I wasn’t having any other heart-type symptoms.) The test is scheduled for tomorrow morning.

Day 7 (Today): I have the heart test done in the morning (after some frustrating confusion in which the heart place thought I was coming next week. I had to call my doctor’s office, and they straightened this out). Just ten days ago, I was doing a daily cardio workout and looking longingly at my new tennis racquet, counting the days until spring arrived. Now I’m feeling like I have the legs and feet of an 80-year-old, and I’m counting the minutes until the next results come in. I’m praying and staying positive and determined to overcome whatever this thing is. I hope to hear something like: “The problem is ______, and we can fix that with a temporary medication or a simple surgery.” I don’t want to hear, “Your body is rejecting your kidney” or “You need open heart surgery” or “You have ______ disease, and it’s not treatable” or “You have ____, and you need to take a bunch more pills for the rest of your life.”

Regardless of the outcome, three things are certain. I am ever grateful to live in a place where medical advances have allowed me to overcome polycystic diseased kidneys that stopped working. I have an incredible family (some of whom I still hope to be beating at tennis in the coming weeks). I have enjoyed every second of the good things in life since my transplant. It’s kind of funny how much prettier green grassy fields along the highway look when you’re really appreciating being alive.





Why Kids Lose at Poker

1 02 2008

My daughter really, really likes poker chips. She does not yet understand when to fold. Here is her dramatic way of saying, “All in!”

This is the what-you-talking-bout-Willis-look she gives me when she finds out that a pair of twos does not beat a straight.





Toddler Translations: She Just Wants “Neminems”

23 01 2008

As with any foreign language, it takes some time to pick up the meaning of the sounds uttered by toddlers. Through hard work and diligent research with our own little miracle, I have come to learn the meaning of certain words and phrases. I thought I’d share.

First, I will list the word or phrase that she uses. Then, the real meaning will be revealed.

“Apple Poops” = Corn Pops cereal

“Uh Oh” = I broke something expensive while you were in another room

“I need to go poopy” = I actually already pooped

“I carry you” = You carry me

“The floor is wet” = I peed on the floor

“The floor is yucky” = I vomited on the floor

“WAAHAAAAA!” = You are a bad parent and a moron. How hard is it to figure out what would make me happy?

“I want one more neminems” = I want a whole bunch of M&M’s

“That’s Daddy’s boogers” = That’s Daddy’s face whiskers (5 o’clock shadow)

“You take it” = I have a booger on the end of my finger, and I’m going to place it on your shirt if I can catch you

“I don’t want night-night” = I will scream if you even think about putting me in bed

“I help Daddy cook” = I knock things over and try to get dangerously near the oven

“No…THIS chocolate” = Use chocolate syrup in my milk, not that nutritious chocolate powder stuff

(When being picked up from daycare) “That’s MY Daddy!!” = I love my Dad





My Kid Saw Me Naked

30 12 2007

Isn’t it great when your child is a baby, and you don’t have to hide or close any doors when you take a shower or change clothes? The baby does not care if you have an extra arm, scars, or even whether you are anatomically correct (just for the record, I am). It’s like the Garden of Eden before the apple biting.

I’ve heard that it’s somewhere around age 2-3 that you are supposed to start being more careful around your child in the “nudity” area. I certainly am not one of those that feels the body au naturale is shameful or dirty (unless you’ve taken a mud bath, but that’s a different story). However, trying to be a good parent, I’ve started being conscious of the situation when taking a shower or changing in our walk-in closet.

A few days ago, I was coming out of the shower clad in a towel and making the trek to the walk-in. Down the hallway, I spied our daughter, who is smack dab in the middle of that 2-3 age range, happily playing on the living room floor with books and toys. Surprisingly, she had not found yet another dangerous object that we thought we had placed in an unreachable place. No, she was actually enjoying items appropriate for her age. She seemed not even to notice me. Therefore, I thought I did not need to worry about closing any doors. After grabbing boxers from a drawer, I proceeded into the closet and picked out something to wear (no doubt something stylish, like jeans and a sweatshirt).

As I let the towel drop, ready to don the boxers, I looked up, and there she stood. (If you’ve ever seen the movie, The Ring where the scary girl could transport herself quickly to a new location, well, it was like that). She was looking directly at me. She was looking DIRECTLY at me (we’re not talking eye contact here; we’re talking her eye level, my midsection level – staring with a sort of contemplative look on her face.) Did I quickly pull on the boxers? Did I turn around to give her a somewhat less offensive view? Did I push the door shut? No, I turned into a deer on a midnight, two-lane highway with an SUV speeding toward it and froze in terror.

The ball (no pun intended) was absolutely in her court now, as it usually seems to be. I could see her thinking. At this point, it’s important for you to know that she likes to watch the Disney t.v. show, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. This is important because they end the show with a silly song that repeatedly uses the words “hot dog.” While my daughter continued to stare at my most private part, she happily burst out into song, singing “hot dog, hot dog” repeatedly. The only thing that would have made it funnier, more embarrassing, worse would have been if she had actually pointed right at me. This, she did not do. At some point, which seemed like a LONG minute to me, she walked back toward the living room, and I was left to finally put on my clothes.

Obviously, I do NOT think she is scarred for life or anything like that. However, I wonder if maybe I am. If that song pops into my head at inopportune times in the future, I’m doomed. I’m going to do my best to keep the hot dog, buns, and beans covered around her in the future.

(Yeah, I went with a humongous large hot dog pic.)





The Life and Death of My Father, a WWII Veteran and a Great Dad

24 12 2007

There are relatively few of the noble people who fought the Nazis left in this world. This past year, my father died, and he was one of them. I am lucky that I have never been in the position to make the sacrifices he and so many others made. This is my first Christmas with no parents here on earth (my mother died a few years ago). I miss them both. I decided to post something I wrote the night before my father died along with a wedding picture of my parents.

August 30, 2007

A Man, My Father

As I contemplate the impending passing of my dad, many thoughts pass through my mind. He was a man who loved God, loved his wife, loved his children, and loved golf (not necessarily in that order).

Born on May 13, 1924, many of Dad’s formative years were spent during the great depression. Consequently, he was a man wise with money and willing to find many ways to make an income. He caddied, worked as a delivery man, owned restaurants with my mother, and eventually retired from Prudential, where he worked the insurance game.

He was also known to occasionally take money from the poor saps who made wagers against him on the golf course. Dad was not averse to following the ponies or checking on an over/under on a college basketball game. I took special pride in being the only 2nd grader at my elementary school who had a working knowledge of point spreads, pools, and daily doubles.

Despite this vice, as some would call it, my dad was a consummately moral man. He was serious about teaching right and wrong to his children, and he passed on the importance of being a good, God-fearing person. My rear end was going to be in church every Sunday; that was NOT something that was up for debate.

I admired my Dad more than he ever knew for his religious conviction. I remember when I was a child, and he could no longer kneel in church due to the growing severity of his arthritis. I always worried that people in the surrounding pews would mistakenly think Dad was just being lazy or lacked devotion. Now I am sure no one at that church ever thought that about him.

Dad was blessed with a keen wit. I will never forget, many years ago when Dad answered what was obviously a call from a telemarketer. The caller was trying to convince Dad that a “special deal” could be had if Dad could correctly answer a trivia question. The caller then asked Dad if he could name the “Bluegrass State.” Dad quickly answered “Utah.” After the surprised telemarketer hemmed and hawed a bit, he asked Dad if Dad wanted another guess. Dad dryly stated, “No, that wouldn’t be fair” and hung up.

One of the most incredible parts of Dad’s life was his service to the country he loved whole-heartedly during World War II. Dad saw friends demolished by bombs and even experienced a shell land in his foxhole. Luckily for us all, it was a dud. Dad was held prisoner of war by the Nazis and survived interrogation from a German commandant despite not telling him what he wanted to know. Tom Brokaw said of the men and women from this time, “It is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.” I concede that I am a little biased, but I would tend to agree.

Nearly forgotten memories are returning to me like a flash flood: Dad working in his garden – Dad poring over a racing form at the local horse race track – Dad making his famous chili – Dad watching MASH or Barney Miller on TV and laughing that contagious laugh of his – Dad making the day of his grandchildren as they raced around the house while Dad called out the race-horse nicknames he had given each one of them (“Little Scratch” was one) – Dad giving me heck about the brown spot in the back yard where my wiffleball home plate and batter’s box were located – Dad requesting my assistance with resetting the clock on the VCR (I felt important back then as I was the only thing standing between my parents and a migraine-inducing digital clock blinking 12:00 for infinity).

Easily the most lasting memory I will have of this man will be a simple, yet magical one. He was a true father, and nothing was ever going to change that. He will be missed greatly, but I know that he has a nearing tee time on the most beautiful golf course he has ever seen, and he will be playing pain free for the first time in decades. Enjoy it, Dad.





So You Think You’re a Locksmith…

7 12 2007

(No toddlers were harmed in the making of this blog, but we were worried for awhile!)

Since it seems that many among us would watch any form of reality television, it is feasible that we will see a show called, So You Think You’re a Locksmith on the WB in the next season or two. If that does indeed happen, I have a nomination for the show. My nomination would be for an alleged locksmith who would provide comic relief (briefly) and would be kicked off Locksmith Island the first episode. I had the misfortune of dealing with this locksmith recently.

Backstory: My wife and I had a very unnerving toddler experience with our daughter recently. I was doing yard work (if you do not know me, picture a tank-top clad man ripped with abundant muscles; if you do know me, then you know better). My wife, who was suffering hunger pangs, came outside for about thirty seconds to check on my status so that we could soon proceed with our dinner carry-out plans. During said thirty seconds, our toddler, who was inside, turned the deadbolt on the door that my wife had exited. Much to our consternation, we quickly realized that we were locked out, and our toddler and all of our keys were locked in. (Okay, before you even have time to say it…yes, we should have had a spare key on the premises or with our neighbors and have now rectified that situation, but at the time we had instead given our overhead garage door code to our neighbors and usually did not lock the regular door from the garage to the house except when going to bed at night. That was the very door that our toddler locked. Additionally, my sister who lives a few miles away did have an extra key but was not reachable. We found out later that she was in a meeting with a customer and had therefore turned off her cell phone).

Back to the main point: After a short while of fruitless efforts with our neighbors, who are awesome, to either open one of our locked windows or coerce our child to turn the deadbolt the other way, we knew it was time to call a locksmith. We were pretty sure at this point that we sucked as parents and would have our parenting license revoked by social services. It was after regular business hours, of course, but we knew most locksmiths, if not all, would make emergency calls. Through the bad luck of the draw, we chose one from our neighbors’ yellow pages that was located pretty close by. I do not want to sound too petty so I will not even include the smaller details that made it obvious to us that we had called the worst locksmith in North America (I originally planned to say worst locksmith in the world but my attorney advised me that might be an overstatement. Apparently there is a much worse locksmith named Ned in Europe). I will only point out the highlights and leave it to the reader to decide if I am just a small, bitter man.

  1. He was unable to follow my directions to find the correct house in the neighborhood but did locate us after driving past each and every other house in the subdivision. I was the one standing at the corner waving him in.
  2. He was unable to budge any of the three (fairly standard) door locks on our house.
  3. He stated the locks were too dry and asked if we had WD-40. Apparently his official locksmith van did not carry this rare substance. I did have it and gave it quickly to him. He never tried it, and in fact, seconds after I handed it to him said he was going to just drill through our lock and that we would have to replace it. (We agreed immediately as we just wanted to get to our toddler as quickly as possible).
  4. He required cash only payment, and one of our aforementioned neighbors kindly made a run to the ATM. However, the locksmith, for lack of a more fitting title, did not have change, and our neighbor again quickly ran to the nearby convenience store and bought a drink in order to get change while my wife and I enjoyed our reunion with our child, who was unharmed.
  5. He gave us advice about what to do in case of being locked out of our house by a completely different type of lock, which we DO NOT HAVE on our doors.

I joke about these things now, but I really do not want to sound too petty. Bottom line is that we had to get in the house, and we did. At the time, we ONLY cared about getting to our kid. It was after that we started thinking about the locksmithing events. I am sure that some doors are more difficult to open than others, but still, come on, man…

   







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