Friday, December 20, 2013

Top 10 Potential New Year's Resolutions

     As we prepare for the cross country trek to Wisconsin I began to look inward.  New Year's Day approaches, and with it there is the annual chance to change the upcoming year with promises of a new attitude or new way of doing things.  Technically, I will be driving back to the Great State of Alabama on New Year's Day so I'm throwing these potential resolutions out there a little early.  Here goes the Top 10 Potential New Year's Resolutions.  By the way my birthday is January 2, and all probable gift givers should be directed to 

#10- Start my own version of the "Daddy Day Care."  I got skillz in this area.

#9- Stop drinking coffee and using all caffeine containing products.  Yea, right.  That ain't happening.  I love Dunkin Donuts coffee too much.

#8- Audition for American Idol or America's got Talent.  Two problems:  I'm too old for American Idol, and I've got no talent.  Maybe I can become one of those "Audition Moms" and make my children become performers.  You have to be careful though, you don't want your kids to end up like Gary Coleman.

#7- To finally defeat my son on an Xbox game.  Any Xbox game will suffice.  My losing streak is epic.  I am a tenacious competitor, but the hand-eye coordination on that boy is disturbing.

#6- I will learn how to style little girl hair, and master the complexities of little girl clothes.  This will happen.  Oh, will!

#5-  Write my memoirs.  They will be entitled, "I Did it my Way:  That was my first mistake."  Look for it at a thrift shop near you!

#4- Pursue my love of professional wrestling, and become either "The Deadly Daddy" or "CJ Golden: History Dude."  It could happen.  Well, probably not, but a boy can dream, can't he?

#3- Drop out, move to a small Caribbean island, and start my own hippy commune/youth sports complex.  It would probably be the first of its kind, and for good reason.

#2- Stop the football madness.  I love me some Alabama football, and sometimes probably too much.  I am actually still on a media blackout from the Auburn loss.  I haven't looked at, read, or listened to anything pertaining to football since the game.  That's nuts.  I blame my father, but no matter how much I try I'll be saying "Roll Tide" till I die.

#1- Work every day to get better at everything I do.  Work hard every day to dominate every opponent and challenge that this life throws at me.  Work to be a better father, husband, friend, neighbor, and human being in general.  Yeah, I think we've found a winner.

     That's all I got before the Holiday season.  I truly love this time of year, and as long as we don't get snowed in somewhere like Manitscold, Indiana all will be well.  Everyone here at the home office in Mt. Olive, Alabama would like to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

     The other day while I was driving down the road listening to Christmas music a certain nostalgia hit me.  The song was, "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Andy Williams (the best version of the song in my humble opinion- anything by Andy Williams is top notch.)  Memories began to flow.....of my dearly departed Mother and Father, of my sweet niece Patricia who left this world far too soon, and of my childhood and past Christmases in general.  I thought about the first Christmas I spent with my lovely wife, and subsequently met my new family in the Great State of Wisconsin!  My dear sweet mama always used to tell me, "If you marry a woman whose mother doesn't like you then you are in deep trouble.  Make sure she has good parents before you marry her."  Well, Cheryl most definitely had that covered, and a fine extended family to boot.  I also began to think about how fired up my kids get this time of year, just like I used to, and a general "Circle of Life" feeling came over me.  Christmas memories are a good measuring stick on whether you've had a good life I believe, and I sure have some good ones.  There would be no way to share all the great memories of Christmas past, but this post is dedicated to three of them.  The best gift I have ever received is up first, an ode to Christmas lights is on deck, and the "New Perry Family Tradition" is in the hole.  That is the official transition from football to baseball in Ye Olde House of Perry, if you didn't catch the obvious baseball reference.  Here we go!  Merry Christmas to all!!
     What was the best gift that I have ever received?  A Jukebox style disco stereo system complete with light show feature in 1981?  No.  A brand new Honda XR 100 Dirt Bike in 1984?  Getting closer, but still no.  A picture of the 1992 National Championship team autographed by none other than Gene "Bebes" Stallings himself!!  You're are burning up, but as much as I love my Tide, that is still not it.  If I had to choose just one.....Hmmmmm.  It has to be a gift from my lovely wife on one of our first Christmases together.  She gave this old boy a trip to New Orleans.  That's right, an actual trip to New Orleans.  No one had ever given me a "trip" before, more less to one of my favorite cities.  I felt like I had won Wheel of Fortune or something.  Nawlins is my kind of town, and it was quite the trip.  We spent most of our time in The French Quarter during our stay, and I ate some of the best pralines, Crawfish Etouffee, and Beignets (at Café Du Monde of course) while we were there.  I had my fortune told by the famous "Chicken Man," but this was before my Straight Edge lifestyle choice and I don't remember anything the man said.....this was mainly due to the amount of Hurricanes that I consumed at Pat O'Briens.  Cheryl and I had spent the entire afternoon at the Piano Bar in Pat O's.  Those Hurricanes will flat out creep up on you, let me tell you.  Before I knew it I was in a bidding war with a guy from Tennessee over which song the Piano playing lady was going to perform.  For those of you that don't know, you write the name of a song on a napkin and tip the Piano player for your song to be played.  Mr. Tennessee wanted "Rocky Top," and I couldn't have that.  I countered with "Yea, Alabama," then "Sweet Home Alabama," and even threw in "Stars Fell on Alabama" for good measure.  This guy was a sly Big Orange fan, because he backdoored me and tipped the gal 10 bucks.  Wooooooo!  Rocky Top Tennessee!..........I hate that song.  Cheryl decided it was time to leave when I attempted to request a Jimmy Buffet song.  Not just any Jimmy Buffet Song, but the one with the title, "Why Don't We Get Drunk and ****."  I'll leave it at that.  Look it up.  We ended up in a fancy restaurant called, "The Court of Two Sisters."  Actually, we were recruited to go by some guy I couldn't understand.  I spilled a drink all over the white table cloth, dad-gum Hurricanes, I'm glad I don't drink anymore.  All in all it was an awesome trip, and it was by far one of the coolest things anyone has ever done for me!  Thanks Cheryl!
     Christmas lights are some kinda cool, that's a fact.  25,000 Imported Italian twinkle lights!  My brother, Frank, was a firm believer in the Christmas Light Sciences.  I'm sure Alabama Power used to love him every time Christmas light season rolled around.  These lights were an awesome spectacle, and probably only second to those of Elmo Matthews of old-school Fultondale lore.  If you lived in Fultondale at a certain time you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Elmo's lights were legendary.  My brother put on his light show in Graysville, Alabama or as the locals call it, Blossburg.  He had Santa Claus lit up, Reindeer lit up, blue lights, green lights, red lights, lights in the grass, lights on the roof, etc.  Daddy used to say, "I bet that boy put lights on dog poop in the yard."  Only he didn't say poop.  It was a spectacle of the light fantastic- Christmas style.  He was a bit Griswoldesque I must say, and Clark would have sure been proud of these lights.  They would just about blind you as you approached.  To use a biblical term to describe the brightness, it would be a combination between what turned Lot's wife to salt and blinded Paul on the road to Damascus.  Well, that may be a stretch, but it was quite an experience to see these lights.  If you drove by real slow and looked really close, and if the night was very quiet, you could see Frankie out there enjoying his creation of magical lights, and a Budweiser.  Scrooge he was not.
     Every year when Christmas rolls around my clan begins the preparation for the cross country trip to the great white North.  Wisconsin to be exact.  This is our tradition.  Some folks eat turkey, some folks eat ham, some folks sing Christmas carols, and some folks watch It's a Wonderful Life.  We travel across the country to visit the coldest place on earth.  That's how we roll.  Cheryl's people are from Wisconsin, and I'll tell you one thing:  You have to be one tough customer to survive the winter up there.  No doubt about it.  Great place.  Great people.  Awesome food.  Cold as hell.  I'm not kidding at all, trust me.  I'm a good old boy, born and raised in the Heart of Dixie, the great State of Alabama (Roll Tide) and I can handle 99 degrees with 100 percent humidity, but 20 below with snow is not habitable for this guy.  It's quite an impressive sight to see all the snow, and it is beautiful, I will not dispute that, but it's cold.  It's so cold it reminds me of a story I heard once.  It was a funeral.  A lady had passed away, and her husband was overseeing the funeral.  It happened to be extremely cold that day, and the husband leaned over and told the minister presiding over the service, "Get to the part with the dirt."  He said, "I love you baby, but it's cold out here."  That is Wisconsin.  I consider it my second home, but it will make a believer out of you, when it comes to weather.  Our yearly Christmas tradition has introduced us to some sites of interest ("Boobie Bungalow," the Corvette museum, the world's largest peach - no relation to Boobie Bungalow); sand paper sheets outside of Louisville, Kentucky;  and an amazing Windmill farm in Northern Indiana that has to be seen to believed.  Those are only a few things about our annual trek to the Great White North.  This is our family tradition, and to be honest while very cold, it's pretty dang cool.
     Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year, just like Andy Williams said it was.  To me Christmas is a pretty magical event all the way around.  The memories that are created will last a lifetime or longer if your traditions live on with children and family.  You should be with folks that you care about this time of year.  My sweet Saint of a Mother used to always tell me, "It's better to give than receive."  I thought she was pretty much full of it back then, but let me tell you....she was right!  Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

No Pain no Gain: 15 Painful Moments that defined my life as a parent

     Last night I was playing with my lovely daughter while attempting to dress her in pajamas.  I have found that the honey attracts the flies, and if the ultimate goal is putting the children to bed so I can watch America Unearthed or Ancient Aliens on the History Channel, then I will do what I have to do to get the job done.  I was playfully pulling Maddie off the couch, and at this exact moment my sole male heir, J-Jam the Genius decided to put me in a chin lock and pull me to the floor.  Unfortunately, I was not expecting this and I pulled Maddie down with me.  Her head flung backwards and struck me directly in the cheek bone.  A very painful moment.  I believe my face is warped now, and I have no hair to cover this flaw.  This put me in mind of some of the most painful moments I have experienced as a parent.  This list contains 15 that I haven't yet blocked from my memory.

#1- Stepping on one of those hard plastic alphabet refrigerator magnets.  This is similar to the pain caused by stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night, but worse in my book.  The letter E is particularly painful, and is a Trident from Hades.  It's kinda like being shot in the foot with a .45.

#2- Line Drive to the Shin.  Jesse can knock the mess out of a baseball, and whether it be Batting Practice or Coach Pitch when he was younger.  I have been able to master my inner Matrix-Keanu Reeves, and I have become adept at dodging these horrible baseball projectiles.  However, sometimes they get me.  Get me good too.

#3- Grabbing the business end of a Hedge-clipper will stick with you.  Don't ever do this.  Pain will follow.  That's a fact.

#4- Also, never allow a "hot" iron to touch any exposed skin.  If you do you will end up with a weird "Shark-fin" brand.  The burn pain is a creeper too.  It doesn't get on you all at once.

#5- A Plastic Shovel strike to the abdomen.  Especially, if this plastic shovel is wielded by a wild-eyed 5 year old girl hell bent on destruction.

#6- The Figure 4 Leg Lock as applied by a 10 year old boy.  Camel Clutch is bad too.  I tapped out.

#7- Having your bare feet stepped on by hard rubber cleats.  Baseball or Football variety.  The pain doesn't discriminate.

#8- The muscles that you are apt to pull by the avoidance of any of the following:  baby food or bottles, potato chips, skittles, vomit, children's body fluids of all types, donuts, Little Debbie cakes, balls of all sizes and shapes, shoes, socks, etc. etc.  I could go on, but you get the point.

#9- An unexpected, perfect form, living room tackle, and subsequent fall.

#10- Below the belt shots of any kind.

#11- The "look" I get from the wife when I have obviously done something that she doesn't like.  Pain will follow.  True dat.

#12- The act of dressing a little girl in little girl clothes.  Vexing.  Brings on a cascade of emotions.

#13- The application of sun screen, and then falling on the slippery hard wood floor after said application.  This pain is not lessened by the child laughing at your broken body.

#14- The changing of a diaper before the bodily function is completely finished.  You have to allow the conclusion of the process.  There is really no way around that.  You must stand your ground....No matter what occurs!

#15- The most painful of all is, without a doubt, seeing those sweet blue eyes (both kids have blue eyes) in any kind of pain.  That by far hurts the worst.

     Well, there they are the 15 painful moments that define my life as a parent.  I'm sure I have many more to look forward to: boys creeping around looking for my daughter, watching Jesse get his heart broken by some evil 8th grade hussy, and countless others.  Pain is part of it, and we must adapt, adjust, improvise, and overcome.  Winning is living.  Victory will be ours!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Thanksgiving Vacation Story

     This Thanksgiving my clan decided to go all rogue, and change our normal Turkey Day festivities.  We ended up going to lovely Orange Beach, Alabama for the extended Holiday Weekend and eat our turkey on the beach!!  Well, we didn't eat Turkey this year, but it was replaced with Filet Mignon for yours truly, Lunchables with Steak for Jesse, Mac and Cheese Seashells for Maddie, and Hashbrown Casserole, Golden Acorn Squash, and Asparagus for my dear wife, Cheryl.  It was the "Meal of Your Choice" Thanksgiving, and it turned out pretty good to be honest!  We had our share of events on this trip, and I want to hit the high points.  The trip down and back was noteworthy, and sandwiched in between were some interesting happenings involving children's snacks, outlet mall shopping, and a quest for a lottery ticket.  This is my version of the Griswold's Christmas Vacation, and we'll call it the Perry's Thanksgiving Vacation.....we're an imaginative lot around here.
     They say that the journey is the destination or getting there is half the fun...or at least something like that anyway.  Well, they can be right some of the time, but in this case they are wrong.  I spent the first half of our drive down to the beach trying to explain to Jesse that "Brent Muskenburger" did not play quarterback at LSU, and in fact he did not exist at all, as far as I knew.  Jesse was not easily swayed from his tale of "Brent Muskenburger" having a nice touch on the ball and one heck of an arm.  This was a mash up of Brent Musburger and Zach Mettenberger if you haven't guessed that by now.  He gets this type of misunderstanding directly from his mother, and she got it directly from her mother.  It's a vicious cycle of the misunderstood.  In other news from the misunderstood, there was the poor "Pint Size Bowlers" who were lost at sea, that we heard about on the radio as we approached Alabama's Gulf Coast.  It's extremely difficult to accurately absorb the news on the radio in my wife's Prius when you've got the Red Power Ranger taking on a Nighlok in the backseat, and the Clumsy Ninja doing his thing back there too.  Not to mention the Candy Crushin' that is going on right next to me in the passenger seat.  I could have sworn they said, "Pint Size Bowlers."  I pictured a bunch of short people who liked to bowl, but the news actually said, "Capsized Boaters."  Oh, yea.....  That makes a little bit more sense.  This car-chatter did not improve on the drive home, and we had Christmas music competing with Science homework, and a constant buzz of "Mom," repeated over and over.  Tough to think straight with all this going on, that's for sure. 
     Once the natives got restless in the backseat, and the need for gas arose we stopped over in Greenville, Alabama.  One of the few places along the route that has a nice selection of restaurants, gas stations, etc.  When we travel in the Prius the need for gas is limited, and the pit stops are normally only for extreme emergencies.  Like ole' Iron Bladder needing to see a man about a horse or the necessary evil of "snacks."  I may have written about my absolute disdain for "snacks" before.  Goldfish crackers are evil.  Teddy Grahams and Gummy Bears are the crack cocaine of the toddler to tween set.  Once you get started on these things pain will follow, that's a fact!  You cannot escape the wrath of the dreaded "Snack."  Reminds me of a time many years ago when we bought a 2 year old Jesse a video.  The video was a "Baby Einstein" production or something like that, but we soon found out that this programming was baby crack.  Jesse would absolutely throw a fit if you had to turn it off for any reason.  He was a very well behaved child, but whatever subliminal messages those "Baby Einstein" people were sending to him changed him into the kid from "The Omen."  I was scared for my life, and I thought I was going to wake up one night and he would be staring at me like Chucky from those Child's Play movies.  Anyway, back to the snack ordeal.....We stopped in Greenville to get gas and snacks.  I received a message from the wife while I was pumping gas and it said, "Get Jesse Cheetos brand cheese puffs and a water.  Maddie wants rainbow Goldfish crackers and a blue bug juice.  I want regular Chex Mix and a water."  Begrudgingly, I went into the store for these items, and of course they didn't have half this crap.  No bug juice and No Rainbow Goldfish crackers.  I thought about winging it and getting some of the cheap brand "Whales" crackers, and a blue colored drink of some kind, but I knew it would never work.  I asked the lady at the front register, "Do you have a gun back there?"  She looked at me very strangely and said, "Why?"  I responded, "You can go ahead and shoot me with it, and put me out of my misery."  Then she laughed and said, "Going to the beach with your kids for Thanksgiving, huh?"  Sweet lady.  I had to run back out to the car and arrange for some alternate foodstuffs to be purchased before we could leave the metropolis of Greenville.  Once I was back inside the store I received another message from my wife and it read, "While you're in there get me a bottle of cheap wine."  I knew where she was coming from for sure, and if I wasn't Straight-Edge I would have bypassed the wine and went to the liquor store in a heartbeat.  However, my lifestyle choice of not using any substances would prevent me from doing any of that.  We were able to escape without my wife drinking wine, and me having a nervous breakdown.  So, all things considered the trip down was a success.
     There is something special about seeing Christmas lights during the Holiday season, and seeing them at the beach is pretty cool I must say.  That was the first thing we saw as we arrived in Orange Beach, and it was very enjoyable.  While we were at the beach we spent some time at the Outlet Mall and bought some stuff.  Which is usual at these places, but the problem was that I kept setting off those theft detection things.  I was setting these things off when I entered the store, and of course everyone looked at me like I was Charles Manson or something.  I have a Titanium Jaw (long story) and I thought that was what was setting these things off.  My grand entrance to just about every store at the Outlet Mall went something like this...."BEEP" "BEEP" "BEEP" and then I would yell, "It's OK I've got metal in my head!"  The looks I got were priceless.  I only wish I could have gotten some of the responses on video.  You know the snooty women's clothes sales-girls who think they're Princess Diana or something.  I channeled my inner Cousin Eddie with my Metal Plate in my head.  Just don't turn on the Microwave!!  Also, while we were there we bought a lottery ticket.  This is a right of passage on the Florida-Alabama line.  Florida has a lottery, and Alabama doesn't.  Somebody has to win, so why not buy one. However, when you're at the beach in November the idea of "Beach Time" is very evident.  Nothing opens at the beach before 11am in November.  At least that was the experience we got on Saturday while in search of a lottery ticket.  It became a quest to find a ticket, and I was not going to give up.  We went to several places to buy this ticket.  The liquor store by the Flora-Bama was closed.  I couldn't figure it out.  Do the beach going drunk people not buy liquor before 11am on a Saturday in November?  Guess not.  We went to a gas station, and they had no lottery tickets to sell.  I began to think this was a conspiracy to prevent us from becoming Millionaires, and I continued on.  We were finally able to find a ticket deep into Florida.  Well, not really that deep, but it makes the story sound more interesting.  The results were given out late Saturday night, and I went to check our numbers.  Cheryl had the ticket buried in her purse.  The no mans land.  I hate going into her purse.  There are things in there that scare me.  I can never find anything in that pit of confusion.  She told me that the ticket was in her purse, and she knew by the look on my face that I was not pleased with this information.  She said, "It's not like I'm asking you to wade through the depths of Hell to find the lottery ticket."  I answered, "That is the perfect analogy, but I will take on this challenge like any other."  Thankfully, I found the ticket and checked the numbers.....drumroll........and we......Lost.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.
     The trip was a great success, and we may start a brand new tradition of doing this sort of thing every Thanksgiving!  There was some negative things however....As many of you know the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn was played on Saturday.  I am an Alabama fan, and just like the lottery experience....We lost.  Lost in dramatic fashion too.  It was a tough day, but that would be life.  Win some.  Lose some.  That's kinda the idea, I think.  Nothing can be too easy or you won't appreciate the good stuff to begin with, if that makes sense.  The ball bounces funny sometimes, and you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get right back after it.  I've been doing that pretty much my whole life.  Been knocked down quite a few times, and I always try to get back up.  That is unless I get knocked down by a child all geeked up on Goldfish crackers or something.  Then I'm down for the count.