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Dad up! I once thought it took grit to man up. 



Star-Wars-Come-to-the-Dark-Side-ApronGrandma doesn’t want to visit because she loves you. She knows that she can use the holidays to release her vengeance and strike you down. Search your feelings. You know it to be true. Think back to when you visited their peaceful home this summer.

My step-dad likes to say, “The two greatest days are when your grandkids come to visit and the day they leave.” Every summer my chaotic clan visits their empty nest and turns it into a pigsty. After a week of nearly killing their pets with dropped legos and chocolate, we leave them to discover soiled pants and carnage after we’ve fled their hospitality. I assume it will take them a full year to forget and invite us back. But they have concocted a better plan. The diabolic geriatrics baked a revenge plot disguised as an innocent holiday visit to our home. They will arrive with gifts, goodies, and hugs. Yet I know they are really delivering a holiday basket full of…revenge of the grandparents!

How will they pay us back for a lifetime of torturing them? Easy: they wind-up our kids, form an allegiance and turn them against us. I’m not saying our grandparents share the same strategy as ISIS, but that’s mainly because I’m too scared. Of my Mom. Let me show you exactly their sweetly-veiled plan so you can attempt to defend it.

Tactic 1: The Phantom Menace: Master of guilt “No, go ahead, young Anakin. Desert your mother and run off to be a Jedi while I’m left to be a slave. Don’t worry about me.”

It took two months assuring my mother that we did want her to visit. Once you invite the vampire into your home…I know I’m crossing my movie references but I get all my wisdom from the cinema that raised me.

Tactic 2: Attack of the Sweets: Once you’ve invited the dark lord to your home, grandparents first strike by pumping your kids full of sugar. From day one of my Mom’s week long Thanksgiving/Hanukkah/Christmas visit, I noticed my 8 year-old guzzling Pepsis constantly. His Mimi let him buy a case at the store of the caffeinated, sugar-filled cans that he always asks for and we never give him. They went to the store to get the ingredients to make her “famous Mimi cheesecake”. We’ve all fallen prey to the cheesecake for years. This visit I discover them eating it for breakfast and in between every meal. The bottomless cheesecake kept returning as Mimi kept making new ones every other day. She even made one on her departure to remember her by. Then, like a good drug dealer, as soon as they get used to the daily treat, she leaves them wanting their next fix. And we try to return them to eating vegetables.

Tactic 3: Revenge of the Gifts: Gifts or time-bombs? When the kids were younger, grandparents would wreak their revenge with screaming, flashing toys and singing cards that drive parents bonkers. Now they have gotten craftier buying drones and advanced toys that make kids hug their grandparents in total ecstasy. Then when the grandparents are long gone, we are required to assemble, register the toy online, find the instructional video, and missing batteries. Then finally we attempt to fix the greatest gift ever when it breaks one day later. We fail. We are now the enemy that won’t fix the grandparents’ generous splendor.

Tactic 4: A New Hope? Spoils don’t only come as gifts. The dark side will use a new unfamiliar positive attitude to drive our children against us. When my kids ask Mimi for anything her answer now is “Ab-so-lutely!” The classics I grew up with like, “Life’s not fair.” And everyone’s favorite, “Because I said so!” would never come out of the mouths of these pseudo-positive-pie-makers. They save that soul-crushing negativity for when they are alone with us and their true identity is revealed. I try to unmask the grandparents by having kids to ask them about how they’d punish us in the good old days. The kids love those stories but they are no match for the spoils. In addition to gifts, there are daily trips to anywhere fun they want to go, sugar treats hourly, and restaurants nightly. One week of spoils and we’re left to re-install the word “no” back into our now over-stimulated, bratty babes.

Tactic 5: The Grandparents Strike Back with Technology Their trusty light saber that they always draw on us is tech support.  Any spare moments I have to plan a counter attack are spent teaching them their cell phone, finding them internet, printing directions, or “liking” their friend’s post on Facebook. When they are not at my house I can deflect their invites to join Candy Crush. But when they are around me constantly, their tech-support needs are too strong and wear me down to a venerable state.

Tactic 6: Return of the Self-doubt The Grandparent’s ultimate weapon. If Darth Vader’s Mom were alive to visit the Death Star he’d say, “I sense something, a presence of self-doubt I’ve not felt since-”. Yoda would instruct us criticism leads to doubt. Doubt leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Suffering leads us back to crying for our parents’ help and the more frequent phone calls they demand. Every decision me and the wife made about our home design, our finances, and our children’s upbringing made sense before the grandparent’s visit. It’s always innocently followed up with, “What do I know? Maybe it’s me. I just don’t get it.” I can only imagine the changes I need to make that were put in my spouse’s head when they went shopping. The grandparents pretend to be hard of hearing so that the children can easily overhear all of the family’s choices that come into question.

Now my kids have been turned into spoiled, sugar-raging maniacs and none of us know what is right anymore. Who can I trust? I begin to wonder if only our grandparents were in our lives more then we could see the helping power of the grey side.

Star Wars taught us our parents may have some good in them if we battle their negative light-sabers and forgive their years on the dark side. They may have removed their mask to reveal an old sweet face, but their motive is still to rule our universe. I’ve lost my point in a galaxy far away, but be warned: when they come to visit, they are coming for revenge. They will turn your children against you and break you down with helpful criticism. Though I felt pretty good about myself the other 51 weeks of the year, now I am unsure and need them once again.

Their strategic plot worked. I was shocked when I heard myself accept defeat and asked them to consider moving closer to us. Heck, I might’ve offered them to stay with us while we find an affordable home for them in our neighborhood. Their revenge is complete. They broke my house down as much as I broke theirs. You win this battle, grandparents. I’ll see you this summer.



*Oh, and thank you for everything and we love you.



the-children-1980 poster cult movies download

Cinema and I agree on one thing – children are terrifying. This deep-rooted fear of our offspring has been exploited in movies longer than people have been disposing dirty diapers(1961). That’s chilling. Here is my list. Like our children, it is scary and funny and probably needs to be changed if I spent more time with it.

Why 11? In the classic mockumentary, Spinal Tap, the band rocks so hard that their amps go up to 11 when most go to 10. My wife loves Spinal Tap. So, like having children, we sometimes have to do things that make no logical sense to please our women.

I could easily do a list of 50, but I only want a brief Halloween celebration before we snap back to reality. Some may be surprised that many creepy icons did not make the list including Satan’s sons, Damian and Rosemary’s baby. Maybe they’ll make the cut next year if they provide better clips. Here are the ones that did.


11.  It’s Alive!  

This came out the same year I did. Hmm. My viewing of this at an early age probably explains a lot about me and this site.  They made an actually scary remake a few years ago. I could have shown a gory clip from that but then I would lose my beloved female audience forever. Labor and delivery are freaky enough without blood-spattered walls and flesh-eating newborns.


10. Billy Maloney / Flatliners 

If you’re expecting that cute kid in the red hoodie to be Elliot from E.T., then you’re about to get a harsh kick in your baby-maker.

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They say children show you things in life you never imagined. I always thought that meant how fuming mad I never imagined I could get until I had children. Recently I returned to the city that made me an adult for the first time with my daughter. It turns out the greatest city on Earth that I called home for 8 years has places I never imagined until I experienced NYC as Dad.

I went to college at NYU and vowed to never leave Manhattan before being tricked into leaving it for La-La land. I fell in love with the world’s greatest metropolis the first time that my Dad took me at age 12. So when my Mother said she wanted to take my first-born for her 13th birthday, I demanded to chaperone.

There are the well-known parts of Manhattan that all people should see. There are always new parts to see every time one returns to the ever-changing megalopolis. But also there are places one might never know existed until seeing through a child’s eyes. As a poor college student turned starving artist, it’s amazing how many places I never visited in all the years I “suffered” there. Here’s a must-see list of everywhere I dragged my tween and hobbling Mother in a nonstop 3 day visit to the city that has it all for all ages.

1. Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island – All the locals told me not to waste my precious time on New York’s #1 attraction and I’m so glad I ignored them. In my years as a snobby New Yorker I even worked across the street from the tours and never bothered to visit these landmarks. Sure, it could take three hours to do it all. But you could brave the butt-crack huddled masses, run through both islands and be at Ground Zero in one hour. We did. Exhale.
2. Time Square – When I moved to NYC as a teenager I held my breath walking down 42nd Street. Residents laughed when they heard new Mayor Rudy Giuliani vowed to clean up the infamous block. A whole new world! Once lined with peep shows (continue reading…)


Do you know that recent blog where I shared my anguish as a losing little league coach? Remember how I vowed I would never volunteer to coach again? So try to answer this: only three weeks after those wounds had healed, why on earth would I volunteer to coach again?

A. I still sought the party, the thanks, and the joy I never got from my other coaching seasons.

B. This was basketball which, unlike soccer, I knew and could actually teach.

C. I’m a petty competitor and needed to put a win on my abysmal coaching record.

D. No one else would do it.

E. I am a martyr and, like the sick people who cut themselves to feel, I suffer the screams of unruly children to remind myself that I am a hero.

F. Despite my blog and all of my whining, deep down I’m a loving father who actually enjoys helping children learn valuable life-lessons.

G. All of the above

If you answered “G. All of the above” you are not only wrong but you are an A- hole and no longer my friend. The correct answer is “D”, jerk! Just like the last time I coached, and the time before that, and every volunteer job ever, I was the last one holding the “not it” coaching grenade when it exploded.

Three days before the first practice my 8 year-old’s coach ruptured his Achilles tendon.The bullying league gave us that familiar ultimatum: someone step-up or your kids will have no team. All of us parents waited for someone to blink in the volunteer show-down.  No one expected me to do it again. Perhaps they read my blog and took pity. Or more likely, they didn’t want me to coach their kids with my poor record and my very public dislike of children. I couldn’t blame them.

I agreed to take a car full of the neighborhood kids to the first practice and see if a solution had been found. I hoped that the league might have miraculously found some other poor sap to coach. Just like becoming a father, I guess I should have known what might happen when I went in there unprotected. Whoa! As I feared, the league rep confirmed that by showing up, I had the job and there was no help coming. As it is with parenting, the job plops on to your lap and you have the choice to either jump in and guide them, or run away and hope that someone else takes care of them. That first practice I walked into a trap. Eight boys with basketballs waited with only myself there to fall on the grenade. Boom.

That first practice confirmed three things:

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“You’re taking your family vacation where?!” That was the usual response when I told people I was taking my wife and three kids to the happiest place on Earth (for dads).

“Well, Disneyland is sick with measles. But Las Vegas has plenty to do for kids! It’s a warm paradise with rides for a fraction of the cost of Atlantis or a cruise. And it doesn’t waste two days of torturous travel to get there.” That was the pitch I fed the family. Then I had to back it up.

I did a lot of research and I figured I’d share my findings for the next parent desperately scouring the web to be a vacation hero.  It’s also a good excuse to show my photos. This is different from the sponsored travel sites I sifted through. This is a real list from a dad out to prove he wasn’t a degenerate dragging his family along while he gambled. Like my father used to do me.

To be fair, my Dad isn’t a degenerate. In my adolescence, there was no internet and the Vegas idea of fun was smoke-filled slot rooms not the Rainforest Cafe. My Dad, my Uncle and our Grandparents flew us to the desert year after year proclaiming that the seedy capital of sin had transitioned into a family friendly oasis. They would make their annual promise to do more family things together. Then my cousins and I would spend “vacations” burning through rolls of quarters in arcades, playing Keno in coffee shops and collecting free porn from all the trade magazines. Now that sin city and I have matured (slightly), I was determined to break the cycle of Vegas vs family abuse.

I succeeded. All my skeptic whiners had a blast and were exhausted so that I could sneak off to gamble after bedtime. Here’s how I did it. And you can too.

*Many of these you can buy a pass to bundle and get a better deal. Like when you split a pair of twos. Okay, maybe my Blackjack advice is not as proven.

  1. A pool – This is essential. It’s the best way to entertain, tire-them out, spend warm hours and not your bank. Except for all our poolside cocktails, virgin and real. Our vacation was still in winter when many hotel pools are closed. For February we lucked out with warmish weather. It’s very important to research which pools are open and heated. Your vacation pleasure may depend on the hotel pool you pick. click here for a list.
  2. Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden, Dolphin Habitat – This was awesome. Dolphins are adorable and do tricks. Siegfried was roaming around the tiger grounds checking on things. My wife was going to do the yoga class in the underwater dolphin observatory had time permitted.dolphins
  3. (continue reading…)

The Seahawks fought so hard to give us a chance to post our mockumercial another year. We got great response last year, and it seemed to bring the Seahawks luck. Amazing work, Ransom Cosper and cast of screamers. Despite what that old Hollywood adage says; never work with kids, animals, Seattle sun or pregnant wives. (No, that’s not my prego wife. Phew)

Please keep sharing before Dr. Dre pulls the plug. Thanks!

dad plane              adrift

Day 1: “Travel day” as my wife calls it. That means it doesn’t count towards the “hall pass” I was earning. (earning in my mind, that is) The visit is with all of her family in the outskirts of New Mexico with limited beer access, no Wi-Fi and only two local TV channels. In my mind that would earn me six months without kids in a Las Vegas penthouse.
Our trip did not start auspiciously. (continue reading…)

Santa’s little tattler, The Elf on the Shelf, causes fear in all of us.  Last year I announced on the social networks that I was going to take care of the creepy, peeping rat in Goodfellas style.


For those not familiar with the leering imp, let me alert you. (continue reading…)

loser ribbonYou wake up at 7:30am. Your head is pounding. It’s not from the Halloween celebrations the night before, it’s pounding with some screechy Ariana Grande song that hasn’t left your head since your daughter’s carpool days ago. Now it’s Saturday. “Dadurday”. In just three hours you will coach your son’s soccer team to their eighth straight loss, capping a winless season where they were outscored 49 to 1. At least your nine weeks of hell as a volunteer coach will be over. (continue reading…)

child brain


Thenkidshappened.com. Thanks Kym Campbell for illustrating these findings.