Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hello loyal dadlosophites! Due to our family's recent move, the worst flooding Georgia has seen in a century, and a bit of traveling over the weekend, I've not been able to prepare a new Dadlosophies entry this week. I'll be back next Monday with a new post. Please continue to remember in your prayers the many families who lost loved ones and suffered tremendous financial loss during the recent flooding. See you next week.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Pain of Moving

It's Sunday evening, just after 7:30pm. Tonight, I write my dadlosophies post from the public confines of a relatively quiet Books-a-Million. Normally, I would be sitting at my office desk or outside my house. But, this week, I don't have Internet access at home. No standard high-speed; no convenient wi-fi. That's because, just a few days ago, my family and I tackled a commonly undertaken, yet always dreaded endeavor. Hundreds of thousands of Americans do it every day. Almost all of whom find themselves pushed to the point of insanity and struggling against urges to turn to alcohol or narcotics for comfort before the task is complete. I am talking, of course, about moving. Packing up an entire household and moving to a new home is nothing short of a hellish experience that ranks just below unanesthetized castration and listening to George Michael CDs on the list of human suffering.

Meredith and I have moved many times. Before we had kids, we moved from apartments, to town homes, to houses. In 2002, we moved from Charlotte to Atlanta. A year later we moved with our baby daughter to Marietta. Then, buying our first home in Georgia, we set up shop in Kennesaw, where we've lived for the last five years. It was while living in Kennesaw that our two boys were born. And now we've moved to Powder Springs. It's only twenty minutes away, but--short distance or long--having to move all your crap is still having to move all your crap. It takes a lot of time, a lot of energy, and a whole lot of cardboard boxes.

This is the first move we've made with three kids. Let me tell you, as children multiply, so does the crap; and I'm not just talking about the kind you find in their diapers. The items that must be packed and transplanted are unending: Clothes, toys, cribs, beds, games, bikes, thousands of sippy cups, coloring books, barrels of play-dough, and so on, and so on, and so on. And God help you if you "accidentally" throw away a plastic toy that's been sitting behind a couch unplayed with for two years. I learned the hard way that deciding to discard such objects on the basis that they haven't been missed in twenty-four months is almost as brilliant as General Custer's "I'm sure there's not that many Indians over there," line of reasoning. Nope, if your kids see it, you're most likely packing it. And that's just the children's stuff. It doesn't even include all of your wife's stuff, your stuff, appliances, pictures, furniture... The list is overwhelming. It's enough to make a man reject worldly possessions and move to a Tibetan monastery. (Yak's milk, anyone?)

Thank goodness for the professional movers we hired. Sure, some of them weren't the sharpest knives in the drawer (when I pointed out to them that they had forgotten to load my television, they looked at me like I had just rushed through explaining a calculus problem). But, overall, they were nice, respectful, and did all the heavy lifting. So I'm grateful for the job they did.

Long story short, we survived the move. Now begins the challenging process of unpacking. Who knows what long lost items or undiscovered bodies will turn up. Right now, I'd just settle for finding my can opener. Staring at a pantry of canned goods and having no clue where your can opener is while three kids chant, "We want Spaghetti O's, we want Spaghetti O's!" is a cruel torture right out of a Twilight Zone episode. Anyway, wish me luck. Books-a-Million is closing. So, as much as I hate to rush, I've got to wrap it up this week. Take care my fellow dads. I'll be back next week. Provided I can find my router.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Children of the Corn

It's been a couple of weeks since my last entry. A lot has happened since then. Labor Day has come and gone. Football has returned to rescue Saturday and Sunday afternoons. And my wife and I have endured the always fun process of closing on a new home and packing to move. I also did something I'd never done before. Just over a week ago, Meredith and I took our three kids and my mother-in-law to visit a North Georgia corn maze. A corn maze is just what its name suggests. It's a maze cut out of a field of ten to thirteen-foot-high corn. People (of their own free will mind you) pay their hard-earned money for the "privilege" of getting lost in and trying to find their way out of a field of corn. If you think about it, a corn maze is really a monument to rural capitalism. Where else but in America can a down-on-his-luck farmer look at a field of corn, say to himself, "Hey, I bet if I took my big John Deere and cut a maze in that son of a gun they's people from Atlanta dumb enough to pay to walk through it," and proceed to rake in big bucks from folks who, because they've heard that this is what families do during the fall in Georgia, are eager to spend a Saturday meandering through corn. Somewhere, the agricultural entrepreneur who came up with this idea is sitting at a table, counting his money, and laughing it up with the guy who got rich proving Americans are stupid enough to buy water.

I can honestly say that I have never had a burning desire to go to a corn maze. But one of the magazines I occasionally write for asked if I would check one out in exchange for them flipping the bill for my family. So, my wife and I loaded up the minivan and headed up highway 400. After picking up my mother-in-law, we arrived at our destination about an hour later. Being a small-town boy from North Carolina, I'm a country guy. I love rural settings, country folk, and the quiet, simple life. But even for me, this place was out in the boonies--the kind of place where Deliverance is considered a romantic comedy and folks are shunned for marrying outside the family. Nevertheless, as we pulled up, I saw people smiling and laughing, apparently having emerged from the corn maze alive, so we parked and unloaded our crew.

One thing I learned fast: Don't go to a Georgia corn maze in early September. It's too freakin' hot. If you're just dying to navigate crops, hold off until October when the weather is more bearable. We entered the corn maze just after the sun reached its noon time peak (a tactical mistake on my part). As I led my children into the agricultural labyrinth, I was handed a map that, in theory, was supposed to insure that we found our way through without any problems. It proved useful for all of ten minutes before my family and I found ourselves lost in a Stephen King horror story. As sweat poured out of our rapidly dehydrating bodies, our tiny band wandered aimlessly among the ears of corn. Our only remaining connection to civilization was the occasional sound of another father somewhere in the field calling out in anguish, "Where the hell do we turn left! The map says we should turn left!" All the while, I'm certain that Vietcong soldiers are hiding in the jungle-like rows, waiting to ambush and kill us. The last time a group got so lost trying to find where they were going, an entire sea parted and their leader was given ten commandments.

As Meredith and I grew more and more frustrated (each blaming the other for failing to correctly read the map), my children proceeded to add to the "fun" with comments like: "Daddy, I'm tired... Daddy, I'm hot... Daddy, please carry me... Daddy, I'm scared... Daddy, can I pee in the corn..." (By the way, as a side note, before you eat corn on the cob again, you might want to find out if it came from a corn field near Dawsonville.) Of all people, it was my six-year-old daughter, Emerson, who finally led us out. Relieved to escape the dusty heat of Hee-Haw hell, we rushed the lone concession stand and loaded up on Gatorade and water as fast as we could. A few snacks and one hayride later, and we were back in our minivan--our first (and possibly last) corn maze experience in the books.

There were some good moments. Sitting with my arms around my sons and daughter as we rode on the hayride was one of those moments that, at the time, seems almost unnoticeable; but you know that when you look back one day it will be one of those special memories you always treasure as a dad. Even the corn maze, itself, had some endearing moments. Hearing my youngest son, Carson, laughing hysterically as he rode on my shoulders and stopping to take a few photos here and there as we traversed the corn-husk-laden trails made for some fun moments too. Come to think of it, I guess the trip wasn't a total bust after all. Anything that provides a few precious memories with your family can't be all bad.

So, if you're going to head out to a corn maze this fall, be my guest. Just be prepared. Go when the weather is cooler and take enough provisions to survive three or four days in case you get lost and don't have my daughter to lead you to safety. As for me, I think I'll spend my Saturdays playing with my kids in the backyard or in some other place where Deliverance isn't a love story.