Category Archives: Humor

Raising an Exchange Son

My little bundle of alegría is getting bigger every day.

Nearly two weeks into his stay in our life forever, Sylvester – that’s my foreign exchange son – is already holding his head up on his own, walking erect, and babbling.  He might be expressing high level thoughts in a language not my own.  Who can say?

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One day we will teach you all about where you came from, son.

It dawned on me while I was brushing my teeth tonight that I should have asked him to call me “Big Daddy” as I called my father before me.  That would have been nice.  I suppose there’s still time; though he is growing like a weed.  He’s already over 5 feet tall, the little gremlin.  Someone got fed after midnight…

I’m already planning next year’s “Gotcha’ Day” festivities.  My wife says we may have to move them up to sometime in the next week.  “He has to go home,” she says.

“Honey,” I replied, “this is his home – his forever home.”

She mumbled something about delusions and international law.  I reminded her about our “passports and .45’s” discussion of the other day.  Ooh!  And my son, the biological one, picked up a nifty fu manchu-style fake mustache the other day!  I’ll bet one of us could use that at some point.

Our neighbors next door host a family get-together every weekend.  We sometimes walk out onto our porch late on Saturday night just to hear the authentic music and smell the grilling of fish.  Our neighbor on the other side calls it their “la familia parties”.  He says it with the thickest Texas accent and it sounds quaint.  We don’t mind because it’s all family and I think it’s neat to see how they celebrate that.  I’m from a big family too and we like to party.  What an unusual world we’ve brought you to, Sylvester.

Last Sunday my wife asked him how he could possibly sleep with the mostly mariachi-sounding music in the driveway outside his bedroom at 3AM.  “It’s OK,” he said.  “Maybe they are Mech-ican?”

Indeed, son.  He’s already learning so much about culture.

Took the lad to the batting cages yesterday.  He’s never swung a bat before but he did the old man proud.  Once he got into the swing of it (no pun intended; and note to self: begin working in more Dad jokes) he really knocked it out of the park.  Also note to self: stop using baseball metaphors when talking about baseball.  After a fastball came screaming down the line from the pitching machine, my little Spaniard knocked that mother back to the black hole it came from.  “Yay Sylvester!  White Daddy is so proud!”

Maybe I’ll get him a gun rack for his next birthday.

How You Say in English?

For some time now I have prayed and held fast to that elusive virtue of hope that God would bless our home with new life.  Our two saints in training have certainly given me a run for the money in supplying plentiful material for my practice of the other virtues.  But hope… Hope is a hard one to practice.  It’s so esoteric.  And certainly not for lack of trying; but we keep coming up empty.

Trust me, this is not going anywhere near where you think it’s going.

A few months ago my adoring wife asked me how I felt about taking in a foreign exchange student for a few weeks.  Her exact words were “We’re taking a foreign exchange student for a few weeks.”  Adorable.  The kid would be coming from Spain.  I like the Spanish people.  Perhaps he knows Brazilian pop star Xuxa!  Or perhaps she’s from a completely different continent and speaks Portugese.  Whatever.  I put nothing past Our Lord and Savior and recognize that He can answer prayers however He sees fit.  This, dear readers, might just be our little baby (at least for a few weeks).  Sure he shares none of our genetic code but we’re all European!  And he’s 15 so there’s that.

We got our home ready for our new arrival.  I think they call it nesting.  I made his room up for him.  I wonder if he’ll be a Mets fan like his old man host father family.  Of course we’ll have to call the church and schedule the baptism.  Imagine my shock when I found out that my wife had consigned the crib and that our new exchange son was 15 and would in all likelihood return to Spain after three weeks leaving us again childless except for the two we already have.  Since this would be baby’s first visit to his new home country we wanted to instill a bit of pride in our great land.  We hung the red, white, and blue bunting from our windows and raised Old Glory above the garage eaves.  Little Champ is going to love America.  I’m so freaking excited!

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Found this picture online of a generic orphanage in Spain.  How lonely must have been his days…

We waited at the delivery airport with American flag balloons and a copy of People for our new bundle of joy student.  He would need to be brought up to speed on culture quickly.  Also I do not speak Spanish except for a few dozen words I picked up in Newark as a kid.  I know just what to say in traffic.  Ordering at a restaurant, not so much.  They tell me his name was Javier but we have renamed him Sylvester after the second century pope.  I may have started legal adoption paperwork.  Who can say.

Sylvester arrived with a group of similar adoptees after a ten hour flight from Madrid.  I think that’s where the orphanage is.  His birth parents had left him there… to board his plane to the United States.  We wanted his experience of America and of Texas in particular to be spectacular.  We even arranged for 100 degree heat and spongy humidity.  He’ll never forget this.  In fact, none of his group are likely to forget any of these few weeks.

Adopting an exchange student whom you’re not really adopting is a challenge.  We had been told that his English was OK but that we weren’t to speak Spanish to him.  Again, that’s not really a problem for us.  But just to try some immersion techniques I turned the on the radio on our drive home.  Unfortunately it was a Justin Bieber song called Despacito.  He laughed.  Then he said “I think he’s just rhyming words.”  “Yes, son,” I told him, remembering so well all the little lessons I’m supposed to teach my young ones.  It comes back so naturally.  “That’s what most songs do.  They rhyme.  That means the words sound alike.”  My wife chimed in at this point.  “No, he means the words the song is rhyming are nonsensical.  Burrito, bandito, Frito.  It’s just a silly song.”  I’ll say.  Must remember where I put all the Baby Einstein DVD’s.

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His namesake.  Noble.  Pious.

When we got home I heated a bottle of milk.  Then we took Sylvesteriér to dinner.  Just something light.  We figured Cheesecake Factory would suffice.  My little boy’s eyes popped out of his head when he saw the portion sizes.  That’s right, little man, Mommy and Daddy will always take care of you in America.  We had also been told not to let him go to sleep until it got late on our time.  Listen here, orphanage, we’ve done this before.  I’ll put my kids to bed when I see fit.  Still there was some logic to their thinking.  He had been up for close to 24 hours.  Clearly we should force him to stay awake a few more and everything would be beautiful.

On a side note, another parent had taken a child from this group and texted us a picture of her girl petting a zebra.  I’m not even joking.  This was within two hours of landing.  I wondered if they had simply gone to the zoo.  Turns out the woman has a zebra on her property.  Apparently she bought the Neverland Ranch.

Over the next week or so we’ve gotten to know Sylvester quite well.  It’s amazing how much personality they have even at this age.  Since he appears to be a bit older than we were expecting in a baby I may have to have that certain talk with him sooner than I was thinking.  It’s a good thing I can just draw pictures since he still hasn’t learned to talk… English.

And I can’t believe it’s almost time to take the boy out to Sears for his portraits!  The time goes by so quickly.  There’s still so much to do with him.  I haven’t even taught him how to shoot a gun.  On that front, when I asked if he would want to go to a range with me he seemed afraid to even hear the word gun.  Oh the things they’ve done to you, Sylvester.  The tales from your orphanage are frightening, no doubt, and one day you will have to share them with American Daddy.

My wife tells me we’re apparently going to have to let go of him in a week or so.  I told her I have a passport and disguises.  No one’s taking my son from me!

We took him to an amusement park today.  He delighted in riding the coasters.  I think we shall also take him to an open pit barbecue.  He’d like that.  During the past week I started my new job.  I took Sylvester with me to the mall to get a few things.  He went to the Nike store.  And he pronounced it just like it looks.  I bought a sports coat from a respectable men’s clothier.  The next day I wore my jacket to work.  After work Sylvester came up to me and told me that I had looked very “elegant” in my jacket.  I don’t know what English vocab program they’re using but I like it.

Last week we took him to mass on Sunday.  Trying to immerse him constantly into our family life and Americana we figured we’d subject him to the stylings of Dan Schutte and Marty Haugen.  Fortunately for him the Kenyan choir was singing.  This must seem like such a strange place for him.

Oh, watching my boy grow up has been so exciting.  Before I know it the paperwork will be official and we can rest assured that no one will ever take our Sylvester away from us.

Perhaps tomorrow he wants to try Taco Bell.

I’m so proud.

Thanks be to God for hearing my prayer!

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Econ 102

A tip? OK. Don’t swim in shark infested waters. Dad humor 1 – Confused daughter 0

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Econ 101

Today’s lesson: the fungibility of money.

Typical Saturday Morning

My precious 7 year-old daughter just came stumbling into my bedroom.  It’s Saturday morning shortly before 8.  I am awake but not terribly so.  She has questions for me.

  • “Daddy, what can I do?”
  • “Daddy, why are you awake?”
  • “Daddy, what is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?”

I answer her.

  • “You may watch a little TV this morning since no one else is awake.”
  • “I have to drive some nuns to the airport.”
  • “What do you mean?  An African or a European swallow?”

I’ve been showing them clips from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  I consider it my duty as a dad to enlighten them and help form their senses of humor at the same time.

It’s called Nun-math and it’s awesome.

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Could she get any cuter?

Oh, the flying nuns…  Right…  Much love and thanks to my mother-in-law for volunteering me as a driver.  I mean that.  She knows I’m a sucker for the Missionaries of Charity.  For those who do not know; the Missionaries are the nuns founded by Mother Teresa.  They are the most adorable creatures on the planet.  Due to the sanctity of their founder (who IS a saint) the sisters receive an additional grace from God upon final vows.  That is, whatever they ask, people will not be able to say no.  As it turns out, one of the sisters is flying somewhere this morning.  However, they are required per their own rules to travel in groups of two or more.  And so taking one nun to the airport means taking three nuns.  It’s called Nun-math and it’s awesome.  Lest anyone think I’m complaining in a backhanded way, I really do love these women and will do whatever I can to help.

Perhaps I’ll chat them up about the Sally Field series The Flying Nun on the car ride.  They’ve always seemed to enjoy our conversations before.  Wish me luck!

Last Chance?

Sometimes a thing catches your eye and fills you with such a sense of absurdity that you laugh out loud.  Then your wife, sitting next to you on the couch, looks at you and seems about to ask what you’re cackling over but then lets out of muffled sigh instead as if to say “You know what?  Nah…”

But my wife would never do that to me.

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Nestled safely between box sets of Unsolved Mysteries and Lost is your LAST CHANCE!

As we sit next to each other on the couch in our family room I just noticed a DVD case on its side under the TV with about 50 other DVD cases.  Remember them?  There was a world before streaming.  This DVD says (in blazing, italicized letters no less) LAST CHANCE WORKOUT.

I’ve been doing so well with my fitness plan these past few months.  First I did Insanity Max:30 where I stripped a whole lotta’ fat off my frame and found out I have no muscle.  Now I’m doing BodyBeast where my aim is to bulk up and make some serious gains in mass.  Yes, I know I did it backwards.  I did it that way as a joke on my trainer.  Duh.  No, if I had been thinking clearly I would have done it the other way around.  Apparently you bulk first and then shred.  My trainer does both at the same time and he has telekenesis.  Guy’s amazing.  Sometimes he bulks in the morning and then shreds after lunch.
Just. Because. He. Can.
I got a lot out of the shredding part.  I got pretty lean – down to a set of abs that were almost perceptible to the naked eye.  In fact, it’s only because I know Im capable of doing that again pretty quickly that I don’t mind having almost completely lost them due to this bulk.  This is the part where anyone who’s actually seen me in the past month says “No way, man, you’re looking amazing!  Are you shred-bulking or bulk-shredding?  Whatever it is, sign me up!”  I’m eating a LOT of food these days.  I’m also lifting heavier and heavier weights.  My trainer ties  70 lb. dumbbells to his ankles when he does his 12 mi. run.  That reminds me that I’ve been meaning to ask him if I should do a little running while I’m trying to bulk.  He’d probably advise against it at least until I’ve been doing this long enough to know what’s what like, say, 18 years.

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This is the guy from BodyBeast.  He’s an Israeli named Sagi (pronounced Sah-GEE).  And that quote tells you he’s peddling some hard core bullshit even if he is unbelievably ripped.  My trainer friend looks kinda’ like him but not as douchey.

My point is that I’ve become very comfortable at this routine.  That’s comfortable, not complacent.  I enjoy what I’m doing and I enjoy seeing the results (not as quickly as I’d like but I’m the guy who stands in front of a microwave and yells HURRY UP!”).  And I’ll also admit that over the years I’ve been frustrated with fitness.  There have been times when I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and would never figure it out.  Not all of us were blessed to have gym access growing up on the streets of Compton.  I don’t know who I’m talking about since I’m from Newark but you get the picture.  Would I rather have figured this all out 20 years ago and been a stud with a full head of hair?  Would I rather have had girls beating down my door?  Would I rather have had a shot at achieving this goal earlier and getting it out of my way so I could legitimately cash in on my success and become a whale in my 30’s knowing I had already been jacked?  What was my alternative?  Oh yes, being me.  OK, so it’s not that bad.  But I’m comfortable with where I am with my fitness goals and progress here and now.  The downer in me says I’ll probably never reach my true goals but I need to murder him.  Bad downer.  Bad.

So why write all this?

How much do you have to hate yourself to do a workout called Last Chance?  I’m trying to picture anyone looking for a program.  “Let’s see… There’s Insanity.  Nah, too much cardio.  There’s P90X.  Nope, too many jumps.  There’s Tae-Bo. Too urban.  I guess I have no other options.  Oh look!  There’s a crazed woman on this box and she says it’s my last chance!  I don’t know what it is but something in her eyes is forcing my to believe it.  I’ll buy this DVD now because, having exhausted no other options, I realize I have no options left.  Thank God I found this DVD before it was too late!  What would have become of me?”

Yeah, that just happened.

My wife and I also watched a movie last night about aliens.  It stars Amy Adams.  I think it’s called Arrival.  Not bad.  The two aliens were called Abbot and Costello, no joke.  Unfortunately they weren’t remotely funny.

Mr. Euclid

First, thank you to everyone who has continued to offer their prayers for my family following the death of my dad two months ago.  They mean so much more than you know and I pray for each of you daily.

I want to tell you all that Dad’s been quite active lately, at least in my mind.  Over the past month especially he’s been showing up in my dreams.  As I told me wife today, the dreams make absolutely no sense on one level and more sense than anything I can think of on another.

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Artist’s rendering of a shape

Last night I went to bed as normal.  At 4AM I awoke from the following dream.  My father and I were in a very ethereal setting.  I can actually still envision all of this.  It’s almost like we were on a cloud but it wasn’t that hokey.  We were looking at, really examining, an equilateral triangle that was simply floating in the air in front of us.  He was instructing me on the properties of the triangle.  His words made perfect sense to me and I never liked math.  Dad was an actuary with a savant’s knowledge of all things mathematical.  I distinctly remember him saying (in this dream) as he had many times when he tried teaching me geometry in high school “According to Mr. Euclid…” referencing the Greek father of geometry.  What are you getting at, Dad?  Triangles?  Really?  Is it the Trinity?  I already believe in the Blessed Trinity.  Remember?  You taught me the sign of the cross as a four year-old when you taught me my first prayers.  Were you trying to show me something else?  Are you popping into the dreams of other people too or is it just me?  This is so strange.

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Hairy but solid

Another thing that’s going on (and I really don’t think the dreams are related) is that my Restless Leg Syndrome has intensified.  It’s now gotten to where the muscles in both legs cramp up about halfway through the night.  I get out of bed and, like this morning, leg down to see that my toes are curled and I have to physically unbend them.  It’s painful.  But, I’m getting it looked into.  This morning I’m going for an EMG/nerve conduction test.  I’ve had several of these done before.  Read about one of my experiences with it here.  In the meantime, enjoy this picture of my leg.  It may be the cause of great pain right now but at least it still makes my trainer jealous as all get out.  “Your calves seem to eat everything in sight” he told me.  Trainer?  My offer still stands.  I’ll happily trade you my calves for everything above your waist.  Then again he could just be messing with me…