To whom it may concern: Volume V


To Whom It May Concern:

Thank you for giving me a daughter who from sun-up to sundown has at least 12 mental breakdowns (do the math).  Thank you for giving me a daughter who raids and pilfers the snack cabinet like a starving Hyena.  Thank you for giving me a daughter who can barely take two steps without another bruise appearing.  Thank you for giving me a daughter who hides milk cups throughout the house – leaving a spoiled surprise when they magically appear.  I am especially appreciative of you giving me a daughter with the ability to use the worlds worse scream.  Thank you for giving me a daughter who thinks Macklemore gave her $20 and it’s in her pocket.  Also, thanks for giving me a daughter who refuses to have her hair brushed to remove rat-nests and knots from her head.  One more thing, thanks for giving me a daughter who thinks ketchup is used for painting walls.  Finally, thank you for giving me the greatest daughter a father could ask for.


P.S. – If you could get a hold of Jack Daniels and let him now I need another barrel of their sweet whiskey, I would appreciate it.



Funny Conversation…

TheBoy – Dad!!  TheGirl is on the coffee table!

Me – Tell her to get down.

TheBoy – She said she’s going to jump

Me – Talk her down!!

TheBoy – Too late…

Let the good times roll…

“Señor Brandon, that was a PISS, POOR, PERFORMANCE!”  I can still hear my high school Spanish teacher’s voice in my head telling me I was a TRIPLE-P for not properly using ustedes or nosotros in the proper form.  Yes, it was a shot at my oversized ego, but for some reason I knew later in life I would be able to use her saying and expand on the term.

I have come to the conclusion as a parent and observing other parents, we are all TRIPLE-P’s or PISS, POOR, PARENTS.  Allow me to explain (before I get a lot of SHIT for this) and give you my definition of PISS-POOR-PARENTING.  Like most parents, I don’t have eyes on the back of my head.  I allow my children to roam the pastures to explore – I let them be kids.  Sometimes, if I get distracted with Facebook, Twitter, lunch making, cleaning, or anything where I don’t have a constant eye on TheKids, a loud boom or cry can be heard across the Great Plains of our house on a regular basis.  After galloping up or down the stairs jumping over Legos, cars, and dolls to survey the lay of the land and question, “What the hell happened?”  I realize I failed as a parent by not being there in the moment of the crisis.  Therefore, I was a PISS-POOR-PARENT (PPP).

My wife and I have come accustomed to razzing, poking, and making fun of each other when it comes to the follies of our parenting.  We are team and when either one of us screws up, we both screw up.  We are not perfect; we screw up – WE ARE HUMAN.  But, we learn from our mistakes (sometimes) and move on to the next chapter of parenting.

When TheWife would take the kids to the park, store, or anywhere for the matter, she would return home with a story.  99.99% of the time she would start out with, “So, (insert story of how TheGirl busted her lip, or how TheBoy fell from a 10-story building (exaggeration)).  I would calmly listen to the story, chuckle, shake my head in disappointment, and tell her the events were PPP at it’s finest.

Until recently, I have had a clean track with zero PPP deductions and I was proud of my record.  The other day I was cleaning the kitchen when TheBoy came running upstairs from the basement to tell me he was going to his room to play with his Legos (not that there aren’t enough on the other 3 floors of our home to play with).  He ran to his room with a purpose and I continued to clean.  As I was cleaning, I could hear TheBoy playing with his Legos and failed to remember TheGirl was downstairs in the basement still playing.  It was eerily too quiet.  TheGirl is a rambunctious 2-year old who is rarely silent.  I made my way down the stairs and saw her playing with scissors.  Needless to say, my walk turned into jumping every other step.  With scissors in hand she tells me she’s pretty.  I agreed she was pretty and took the scissors from her hands and noticed a pile of hair on the ground.  As I’m looking at clumps of hair on the ground – I lost it.  I didn’t lose my cool with my daughter, but I realized I was a PPP at it’s finest.  My daughter was playing with scissors, she cut her hair, and I was too “busy” cleaning.

I immediately sent a e-mail to TheWife to let her know I was going to take TheGirl to get a haircut (it was that bad).  When it comes to our daughters hair, TheWife has absolute power.  Here is the e-mail:


SO…Today has been PPP day.  We are off to get TheGirl a hair cut since she felt it necessary to cut hers (it’s bad).  The sofa cushions are in the laundry with permanent marker marks on them.  I need beer, lots of beer…



Am I a PISS, POOR, PARENT?  Yes, but I’m also a great parent.  We all live and learn.  There is no trying to be a parents – Do or Do Not, There is No Try (Yoda).  We all fail, but it is how we tackle the situation and teach our kids the right way, even when we have a PISS, POOR, PERFORMANCE.

I’m going to have to re-learn my ABC’s


I haven’t written about this or put it on paper, but for some reason I feel compelled to do it now.

Friday, May 13th 2011 was supposed to be a special day.  It was supposed to be a happy day.  It was the day I was going to meet my daughter for the first time.  It was supposed to be the day TheBoy was going to meet his little sister.  It was the day for our family to be complete – until…

I heard TheWife in the shower, but I decided to lay in bed a little longer knowing it wouldn’t be another 3 to 6 months until the next time I had a solid nights sleep.  I heard her finish blow-drying her hair and felt her presence as she walked towards me to wake me up.  Her soft hands touched me on the shoulder; the ends of her slightly damp hair brushed my face as she kissed me on the cheek.  I was awake, but I didn’t want to get up, we were going to have a baby.  I mean my wife was going to have a baby; I was only going to be a cheerleader.  Our family of three was going to be four.  We were prepared, don’t get me wrong, but once again we were embarking on unchartered waters.  I opened my eyes and looked at TheWife and said, “Lets go have a baby.”

I got out of the shower, dried myself off, put on my Speed Stick and was ready to get dressed.  I opened the door and put one foot on my master bedroom carpet and heard a pop in my right ear.  I started to feel drunk, dizzy, disoriented…not right.  I tried to move, I couldn’t.  I collapsed to the ground.  What was wrong with me?  Did I need something to eat?  Was I having an allergic reaction to the allergy medicine I had taken before my shower?  I was paralyzed for a few moments and called for TheWife.  I heard her slowly climbing the stairs – she was 40+ weeks pregnant.  As I’m lying on the carpet, naked – she waddles into the room and asked, “What the fuck are you doing?”  I tried to get up, I tried multiple times but I couldn’t.  TheWife was getting frustrated at my “antics” and was getting mad; she thought I was joking around.  There I was, naked, getting zero sympathy as she is throwing my pants, socks, and shirt at me.  I couldn’t blame her!  I would be upset too, but there was something wrong with me.   It was as if I drank an entire bottle of whiskey.  There was something wrong.

I mustered up enough strength and put on the clothes that were kindly thrown at me.  With all the strength that I had, I got up off the carpet and headed downstairs.  If you have kids – Imagine watching your kids attempting to walk down a flight of stairs for the first time.  That is how I looked…cautious, careful, and wobbly with every step.  My head was moving in circles, my eyes couldn’t focus – I was struggling to complete a task I had done thousands of times.

As I handed over the keys and told TheWife I was unable to drive, I received the “look of death” from her.  She had all the reasons to be mad.  This was supposed to be her.   This was supposed to be the day we met TheGirl.  As we were driving I couldn’t concentrate or focus my eyes.  I decided to look down at the floor and tried to comprehend what was going on.  Earlier that year I remember watching the news coverage of a reporter having a stroke on live T.V. during the Oscars.

I finally put two and two together, looked at my wife and told her I think I was having a stroke.  We were still about 5 to 10 minutes away from the hospital and she asked me to squeeze her finger.  With all my strength I squeezed.  She told me to squeeze harder.  The best way to describe my squeeze would be when a baby grabs your finger while they are feeding.  Needless to say, I was no Arnold Schwarzenegger.  For the first time, TheWife had a look of fear in her eyes and a determination to get me to the hospital.  Noticing the fear in her eyes I reassured her she would be able to re-teach me the ABC’s – I’m a good student.

When we got to the hospital TheWife wanted to park the car in the parking garage and push me in a wheel chair to the E.R.  Could you imagine a pregnant woman pushing her husband through a hospital on a wheelchair?  I would have found it humorous.

Up to this point, I still had the function of speech.  My speech immediately went away as I started to explain what had transpired in the last 30 minutes to the nurse on duty.  I thought I was speaking fine until the nurse stopped me in mid sentence, when she picked up the phone and called a code blue, red, green, yellow (I don’t remember what the color was).  I do remember being greeted by 4 nurses and 2 doctors.

The emergency staff of the hospital worked like a well-oiled machine.  I smiled for them when asked (something you have to do when you have a stroke), looked at and read 3rd grade level pictures and words.  All the while, my wife sat at my side and she explained to them we were scheduled to have our baby.  I probably had 10 to 15 (exaggeration, it was more like 3 or 4, but it felt like 10 to 15) CT scans in a 60-minute time frame.  I was administered TPA, IVs were put in, I was surrounded by nurses and doctors.

During my time of being hooked up to every beeping machine, monitor, and gadget in the hospital my parents showed up with TheBoy.  Seeing my son brought a smile to my face and calm to my surroundings.  My Dad brought my son in and he sat next to me and kissed my cheek.  He asked, “Do you have an ouchy?”  I reassured him I would be okay.  He hugged me and he left the room.

During all this time, my main concern was for TheWife.  This was her day, not mine.  The nurses monitored her and me at the same time and when she had a contraction and her blood pressure rose, they sent her to the maternity ward.  I wasn’t going to be able to see my daughter born?

As they wheeled her off, they wheeled me off to surgery to remove the clot that had formed in my brain.  As I laid on the operating room and counted 100, 99, 98, 97, 96, the lights went out.  I wouldn’t lie and say and didn’t see “things” or “flashes of light” but I did and it was truly amazing.  When I woke up from my sleep, ceiling lights were rushing pass, my head hurt, and I started to freak out.  I heard a doctor tell to calm down.  When I finally realized where I was and what was going on I had two important questions.  1. Where is my wife? 2.  Why the FUCK did you put in a catheter?  Needless to say, a few of nurses got a chuckle out of my second question.

My beautiful wife who decided she wasn’t going to have our baby without me greeted me in the ICU.  She is one of the strongest women I know and I love her to death.

I spent 4 days in the hospital and had tests, more tests, and even more tests.  I had one rough night but through it all my family and friends were always by my side.

On May 18th our daughter was born and she is my saving “Grace”.  If she decided to come early I highly doubt I would be writing this.  She is a stubborn little girl and I love her for saving Daddy’s life.  Through all the drama my wife didn’t shed one tear until the night before our second scheduled C-section.  As we lay in bed together for the first time she put her head on my shoulder and wept…she deserved it.  Thank you for saving me.

If you would like to read more about this story click here

You want to give Mom WHAT for Mother’s Day


Funny Conversation…

TheBoy – Daddy, who’s your favorite Star Wars character?

Me – What kind of question is that? Han Solo of course!

TheBoy – Well, Han Solo isn’t cool until the snow movie.

Me – You mean the Empire Strikes Back and he was cool in all three movies.

TheBoy – But he was blind in the third one for a while.

Me – Is this conversation actually happening?

TheBoy – It is and I’m right, Bobba Fett is my favorite.

Me – He dies though!

TheBoy – I didn’t see him die! Did you see him die or get eaten?

Me – Is this conversation actually happening right now?

TheBoy – It’s ok Daddy, the Force will be with you…

Let the good times roll…

 As Mother’s Day is fast approaching I am lost as to what I should get TheWife.  I have asked both children what they would like to get Mom for Mother’s Day.  Here is the list I have compiled from each of them and reasons as to why I doubt we will get these really awesome gifts.

TheBoy –

  1. Lightsaber – I have a feeling if a Lightsaber is purchased, it will come back and bite me in the ass.  For some reason if TheWife and I get into an argument or disagreement I will end up like Darth Maul.
  2. Culver’s – Mommy is on a diet, I wouldn’t want to enable her and get her off track of her diet.
  3. iPad – she already has one.
  4. Hot Dogs – Uh, Mommy doesn’t want hot dogs.
  5. Shoes – Mommy already has enough shoes to supply a third world country
  6. Darth Vader – He would kick my ass and use the Force to choke me out.  Not a fair fight!!
  7. Han Solo – Are we talking about 1980’s Han Solo or 2013 Han Solo?
  8. Millenium Falcon – Dude, are you trying to break the bank?  We already have a Pilot.
  9. Christmas Presents – It’s May not December.
  10. 10.  I don’t’ know – I don’t know either.


TheGirl –

  1. Goodwill – We are not buying Mommy a gift at Goodwill
  2. Bring the Action Daddy – The action will be attempted to be brought, but it is Mother’s Day…
  3. Cookies – Are you guys trying to sidetrack Mom from her diet?
  4. Baby – First off, get that out of your little brain.  There are enough babies in the house – including me.
  5. Flowers – Now we’re getting somewhere!
  6. Spiders – We were making headway with the flowers then you brought up the whole spider thing.
  7. Batman – Are you trying to replace Daddy with a billionaire with good looks and who fights crime?
  8. Easter Bunny – It’s May not April.  There are enough bunnies in the yard for Mommy to look at.
  9. Lightsaber – Again, do you guys not like Daddy?  I will get my ass sliced in half.
  10. 10.  I dunno – I dunno either.

How about this?  We allow Mommy to pretend that she is sleeping and we will pretend to be quite on Sunday.  I like all of your ideas and think they are really cool.  But, it seems as if you guys want Mom to stop dieting, freak her out, replace me, and want me hurt.

I think we will just get a card….

The Saga Ends: Part V of Road Trippin’ 2013


Outside Washington’s Greenhouse

Once again, I would like to thank Mike and Kelly for opening their home to our family, feeding us, watching our kids so me and TheWife could go out (Maple Manhattans), advising us on what sites to see, and being great friends.  You are amazing friends with big hearts and our children love you as much as we do.  Thanks for everything – Houston 2015 Road Trippin’ is on the horizon!!


When we made the decision to visit Washington D.C., Mount Vernon was one the tourist destinations I wanted/needed to visit.  Not only did I want to walk the halls of our First President’s home, but Mt. Vernon was also a 7th grade project I worked on with my grandfather.


In 1997 my grandfather dedicated a weekend to help construct a scale model of Mt. Vernon as it overlooked the Potomac River.  I remember my grandfather being patient with with my every cut and paste.  It was an experience I still talk about today.  So, it was necessary for me to see the actual estate in person.  My only regret is, 5 years ago I threw out the model – it would have been cool to bring it on our trip and see if the museum would display it our something.

After the previous days stroller debacle, the first item out of the trunk was the stroller (no debates or looks of death today).  The sun was shining, the clouds painted the sky in a deceiving way to make one think it was a comfortable temperature.  Where were the kid’s jackets?  Yep, we remembered the stroller but not the jackets.  After a quick stop to the gift shop and $40.00 later, TheBoy and TheGirl had new Mt. Vernon sweat shirt.


The Mt. Vernon Estate is huge and has a lot to offer: Tours of the home, green grass for kids to run in, flower and beautiful back drops to take pictures, farm animals, and overall a great family atmosphere.  TheKids rolled down the hills, ran in the grass, played tag with Kelly, pet the sheep, and were infatuated with the pigs.


The overall experience was enjoyable and brought back wonderful memories of my grandfather.  It was also great seeing TheKids play and enjoy time with Mike and Kelly.  Mike and Kelly are wonderful friends and we appreciate them taking time out of their busy schedules to spend the afternoon with us and opening their home to us for the weekend.

Thanks for the DC memories!!!


Side note – We also went to visit Georgetown and the highlight was visiting the steps to the Exorcist.


Where’s the friggin’ stroller: Part V of Road Trippin’ 2013


As we pull into the parking lot TheWife and are in a deep conversation regarding, if we should bring the stroller on our final day on the National Mall.  It was seriously a meeting of the minds moment.  Pros and cons were debated, my fear of mental breakdowns, and the fact we might resent each other by the end of the day.  For those that don’t know, a stroller has many uses:

  1. It holds a lot of crap besides your kids
  2. It’s a bed if a one of the kids happen to fall asleep in your arms
  3. It’s a prison that you can lock a kid in when they are being a pain in the ass
  4. It’s easier to move from point A to B with little effort

As we wrap up our conversation and stare at the stroller in our trunk, we slowly closed the trunk with the stroller still in the car.  It was as if we were saying goodbye to a loved one as they slowly departed up the escalator and out of view.  There was a sense of sadness and fear as what the next few hours would bring us.  As the trunk closed, we both gave each other the look, “if this shit goes bad and we regret not bringing the stroller its all your fault.”

We made our way to the Capitol Building – it was raining!  TheWife was smart and brought two umbrellas – TheWife was not smart when she gave TheBoy an umbrella and not the TheGirl – breakdown #1 and where’s the friggin’ stroller #1.  As we walked our way up to the front of the building I was in awe by the beauty, craftsmanship, and architecture.  It was amazingly beautiful.


The rain turned to a drizzle and we had to pry umbrellas from little fingers – breakdown # 2 and where’s the friggin’ stroller # 2.  We slowly made our way around the building to get in line for our tour.  It literally took us 45 minutes to get around to the backside of the Capitol – where’s the friggin’ stroller #3.

We made all of our arrangements to tour the Capitol while we were still in Chicago and had tour reservations for 12:30 (lunch time).  We decided to eat in the Capitol Café until our tour started.  As we sat down to eat, I had to peel the shirt from my back due to the sweat that had built up from carrying the backpack around – where’s the friggin’ stroller #4.

TheGirl being the youngest and shortest had issues with keeping up with the adults in the group so I put her on my shoulders – where’s the friggin’ stroller #5.  When we entered the crypt of the Capitol (yes, there is crypt), the pillars that hold up the building were in the center of the room.  TheBoy wanted to make sure they were actually held up the dome and kicked them a few times to make sure they were structurally sound.  In doing so he also decided to turn on, “I’m going to be crazy and not listen” switch – where’s the friggin’ stroller #6.


We made it to the rotunda of the dome and it a sight to see.  I was more intrigued and interested in the great men and women who have roamed these halls.  Amazing, just amazing!!!  We unfortunately had a longwinded tour guide and had a lot of “old” people in our tour group that asked a lot of questions.  Which is fine and I respect that, but TheBoy and TheGirl were getting tired.  While holding the girl in my arms (I was afraid she might tip over Reagan’s statue) she fell asleep.  A daddy carrying his sleeping daughter while roaming the halls of the Capitol, isn’t that cute?  No – where’s the friggin’ stroller #7.  Carrying a sleeping child is like carry a 25-pound bag of wet cement.  WHERE’S THE FRIGGIN’ STROLLER!

We continued touring the rest of the National Mall and the amazing museums it had to offer.  To be able to view the Bill of Right and The Declaration of Independence was an amazing moment.  Towards the end of our day I thought to myself, “The National Mall is lot bigger in person than it shows on google maps.


We had fun on our adventure without our stroller.  I learned to be patient and realized we rely too much on things we use on a daily basis.  Regardless of the lesson’s learned, I will never forget the friggin’ stroller.  If the cons outweigh the pros, don’t listen to your spouse.


Or send them here…

If you would like to read more about traveling with kids, spending a night at a museum, or how to properly pack for a vacation check out Dad on the Run and DadNCharge.

They fixed it after Megatron crashed into it: Part III of Road Trippin’ 2013


With day one in the books, a plan planned out, we set out for a second day of adventure and culture.  We disembarked the Metro and headed to the White House.

Prior to us leaving Chicago we had friends let us borrow their stroller that was more compact than the running stroller that we have at home.  We appreciate them allowing us to borrow the stroller, but it turned out to be our Achilles heel.  For some reason it made pushing difficult no matter which kid was in the front or the back.  It had a starboard list (for you non-Navy types – it leaned towards the right), which made it difficult to maneuver.  Regardless, we appreciate our friends allowing us to use their stroller.

Our children were an awe of how “white” the White House was and they stared in awe at the enormity and beauty of our President’s home.  It was refreshing to see other families with smaller children “culturing” their children with the rich history of our Nation’s Capitol.  We stared at the White House for a long 2 minutes and made our way to the reflecting pool.

As a person who previously served his country, it was important for me to view all the War Memorials.  While we were at the Vietnam Memorial my son witnessed two veterans weeping as they were making a pencil rubbing of a fallen comrade.  It was a very moving moment and I was humbled by the experience.  TheBoy kept asking why they were crying – I couldn’t find the words to explain why they were crying.  I told him they were sad their friend was no longer with them.  TheBoy being TheBoy informed that their friend will always be in their heart.  Both of the children enjoyed looking at their reflections in the memorial and it brought a sense of calm to my heart to see the innocence, love, and fun they were having.


As we maneuvered our way through the crowds to view the most beautiful structure I have ever seen, The Lincoln Memorial, I was moved by the size and beauty of the structure built for our Greatest President.  As mentioned before, the stroller was a pain and we were not able to climb the steps of the memorial and stand in the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream Speech”.  We took an elevator (yes, there is an elevator) to see Lincoln sitting in his chair as he surveyed the beauty of the National Mall.  The initial reaction of my kids – jaws dropped.  Then TheBoy made the funniest comment of the trip.  If you like Transformers you’ll understand.  He looked up at Old Abe and said, “They must have fixed him after Megatron sat on him”.  Oh my boy, I can’t wait until I tell everyone about that one.  TheGirl thought she was an exception to the rule or being obstinate as she usually is tried to climb over the metal ropes to sit on President Lincoln’s lap.  Needless to say, security didn’t appreciate a two year old trying to sit on “Santa’s” lap.  We took a few pictures, thanked a few WWII Veterans who were visiting with the Honor Flight (click here to read more about Honor Flights) and made our way to the WWII Memorial – or so I thought.


On our way to the WWII Memorial, TheGirl feel and scraped her knee and leg multiple times.  It was the end of the world!!  Did I mention my wife is a great planner?  Well, she failed to bring bandages, anti-septic, and a suture bag.  With blood streaming down TheGirls leg, we briskly walked through the WWII Memorial with a sobbing child.  It was not fun and decided to end our adventure.

Also, we were not smart travelers and walked 7 miles instead of using public transportation to make our lives easier.  Instead, we carried a crying kid and pushed another in a stroller that wouldn’t roll in a straight line.