Planet Poopiter

Everyone knows that dogs are the gateway drug to having children, so I feel for couples who jump straight from couplehood to parenthood without going through puppyhood. It would be like if your first sexual experience was an orgy instead of an awkward kiss after a spin of the bottle, or if, instead of a cheap beer stolen from your dad’s garage, your first experience with drugs or alcohol was a line of cocaine at some glitzy LA party in the 80s.

I was reminded of the important role dogs play in preparing us to be parents when a friend of mine, who is expecting, sent me an email inquiring about cloth diapers. Now, if you’re one of the four regular readers of this blog, you’ll know that cloth diapers require a level of intimacy with human waste, not encountered by Disposablers. My friend seemed mostly concerned about how to get them clean. Here is my response:

The crap question.  Baby poop is pretty innocuous.  The washer can pretty
much handle it when they’re infants.  As they get older, and start to eat solid
food, there’s the dreaded toilet dunk.  I kept a stick – CLEARLY LABELLED
ON WHICH END WAS THE BUSINESS END –  in a container in the bathroom
to scrape off stubborn diapers.  There are also diaper sprayers that connect
to the toilet’s water line you can use.  We keep dirty diapers in a Rubbermaid
bin.  When they transition totally to solid food, most often than not, the turd will
just roll out of the diaper into the toilet.  Or it won’t.  At this point in my life, I feel
like a nurse at an ER – shit, puke and blood just don’t bother me like they did
before I had kids.


As I’m writing this, I realized that this guy doesn’t even have a dog. He’s never mopped up dog vomit. He has never stooped down in a public place, his hand sheathed in a plastic bag, and picked up feces. Dogs are like training wheels on the bike that takes you from the orderly everyday world where poop, without question, is deposited in toilets, leaving bottoms unsoiled, and is flushed discreetly away into the sewer, to a planet altogether different where a sentence such as “We do NOT use our poop like fingerpaint on the walls!” is shouted with a dead serious face.

So my friend is screwed. His everyday world is about to collide with Planet Poopiter and without a dog to ease him through the transition, that first diaper is going to be a shocker. And let me tell you, that first one – that meconium diaper – the one that looks like a roofer dumped a bucket of tar into your infant’s diaper, is a bit of a “Holy shit! What the hell is that?!” moment for every new dad (and it’s the dad BTW, because the ladies are usually still tore to hell getting stitched up, which isn’t to say I would want to trade places, but still, What the hell have you been eating in there kid?!). When my friend sees that meca diaper he’ll be  like a nun wandering into an orgy, or an Amish teenager on exchange in Los Angeles. You can bet that after changing that diaper, he’ll think twice about cloth.

I didn’t, because dogs normalize a lot of things. Carrying that warm and gooey plastic poop bag in my pocket until the next unwatched garbage can during my nightly walk with Clover prepared me. It’s not a huge leap from that to strapping down my kid to a Koala Station in a public restroom, peeling back a shit-caked cloth diaper off her butt, putting it in a plastic bag, and depositing it into my diaper bag. You can’t do that without confidence. You have to own it. You got to walk out of that restroom, back into the potty trained world of adults, and look into their eyes and be like, “Yeah, I got a bag of shit in my bag, what’s up?” I can do that, but it would’ve been rough without Clover.

The first time I cleaned vomit out of my daughter’s hair at 3 a.m., I remember thinking to myself, “Clover’s smells WAY worse!” And those sweet smelling breastmilk poopy diapers? Delightful! Feed my son raspberries all day? An odoriferous bouquet! Only after your kid is drinking cow’s milk, eating meat and cabbage do their shits start to rival your dog’s, but it’s okay, right? You’ve been there. You’ve been picking up warm and gooey dog shit and putting it into your pocket for years! Scraping feces off a submerged cloth diaper in the toilet ain’t that bad!

Except that it is. I can’t think of much worse except for the time I dug up and fixed my clogged side sewer. Maybe that’s why kids in cloth diapers are potty trained, on average, close to a year earlier than those in disposables. It’s not because they can FEEL it more, or whatever. It’s because parents using cloth have more incentive to get them out.

To those of you without dogs, it takes, on average, three YEARS to potty train humans. It took three MONTHS, on the other hand, to potty train my dog. At the time, it felt like forever. Three…MONTHS. This is one of the many reasons why, if you do not have children, you should not try to relate to parents using your pearls of canine wisdom. Good for you for having a dog – it will serve you well later, but don’t give us parents advice on poop (or anything else for that matter). Parents are playing on a whole other level of feces. And parents like me, who used cloth diapers, are on another level above that. There’s only one level higher that I know of, and it is reserved for those insane parents who cut the butts off their baby’s pants so their bare assed children can by rushed off to a toilet every time their six week-old squirms.Think about their upholstery…think about the family photo albums. I feel awful for these kids. They will not be visiting their parents in the old folks home.

But when you begin potty training your kid, or as many parents more accurately describe it: floor pooping, again, no big deal. Do you remember how back when it was only the two of you and your puppy, the puppy would occasionally poop INSIDE THE HOUSE? On the floor! The horror! HA! When I potty trained my daughter, she’d run around sans pants all summer, and I remember stepping out onto the porch one morning, coffee in hand, and looking down over the rim of my mug at a turd on the steps. I know what my family member’s turds look like, and this one was most certainly not Clover’s. I did not think, “OH MY GOD, THERE IS HUMAN SHIT ON MY STAIRS!!!!” I remember feeling a twinge of pride only hikers who regularly poop in the woods will understand, thinking to myself, as I returned with a wad of toilet paper,  “Now how did she manage to squat on the stairs like that and keep her balance?

So here’s my friend, with a baby on the way, sounding squeamish in his reply about the shit stick in my bathroom. To him, and to the rest of you, the dogless environmental couples engaging in unprotected sex, I say this: Continue your nighttime efforts only if, every so often, you can go into the bathroom, poop into a plastic grocery bag, and carry it confidently around the neighborhood. You can put it in your backpack if you feel self-conscious, but if you should engage in conversation with any of your neighbors, absolutely no one should suspect that you’ve bagged a brown anaconda and you are carrying it around. Be cool. Own it. If you can do that, by all means, continue your nighttime efforts.

God help you if you can’t, ’cause that first diaper in the hospital will blow your mind. Shit, it’ll blow anyone’s*


*The author would like to give a preemptive “You’re welcome” to his reading audience for neglecting to include any photos over the course of this blog post.



Boys are different

Bill Cosby once said that “all children have brain damage.” It’s true. However, boys are born with more. They come out underbaked. Girls do too – all babies could use a fourth trimester if it weren’t for their gigantic heads – but in my experience, the brains of girls were wired by an electrician who was getting paid by the hour, not by the job. He was an apprentice electrician, but still, you get my point. Baby girls are smarter. More careful. They learn from their mistakes and remember what they learn. They’re more empathetic and socially aware – immediately. By the time they’re towering over their 6th grade stick-weilding male counterparts in the back row of their class photos, the average 11 year-old girl probably has more social skills than I do as a 34 year-old man.

As an example, I’ll relate the following scene from last summer. I had taken Josie to the beach, which, thanks to the melee of boys whacking each other with sticks and leaping off logs, looked more like a scene from the beaches of Normandy than Port Townsend. We sat on a log, watching the boys, but to the left, ignoring the machine gun fire of the boy’s semi-automatic sticks, was a circle of girls, lying on their stomachs, facing in, quietly talking. Chronologically speaking, they appeared to be the same grade. From behind us a family approached from the parking lot. Like meerkats, all the girls raised their heads to ascertain the new girl. (The boys on the other hand, wouldn’t have noticed if a unicorn had galloped through the waves, ridden sidesaddle by a shimmering pink and turquoise mermaid.) One of the girls stood up, trotted over to the new girl, and after making her acquaintance, took her hand, and led her over to the circle of girls, where, I swear to god, she introduced her by saying, “Everyone, this is my friend Lindsay from music class.” The many outstretched legs of the circle moved like a caterpillar’s, scooting to make room, until the new girl was fully integrated into the group circle. To our right, two boys began arguing about who killed who, which, unresolved, devolved into an unholstered spray of spittle punctuated gunfire.

At the time my wife was pregnant, but we didn’t know if we were having another girl or a boy. Secretly, sitting on that log, I have to say, I hoped for another girl. Of course, the Universe has a funny sense of humor, so we got a baby boy. From 0-8 months, there’s not a lot of difference: just wobbly human larvae semi-fastened to your wife’s swollen milk bags. Then they start crawling. Now, if you’ve ever been in charge of a crawling infant male of our species for any amount of time you will agree with me on this point: although 30,000 years separates them from their cavebaby ancestors, developmentally, there hasn’t been much progress. If I gave my son a club, he would bash a hole in my sheetrock, laughing hysterically with every blow. If I gave my son a lighter, I have no doubt that he could somehow summon the fine motor skills to burn down my house in under two minutes. And the way he pulls at my dog’s fur any time they meet, you’d think he was getting her ready for the spit. But what continually amazes me, every day, about my son, is his unbreakable compulsion to put EVERY GODDAMN THING INTO HIS PIEHOLE.

If my son should crawl across the floor and encounter dirt, small rocks, dog hair, marbles, power cords, a domestic pet, a lit firecracker, open switchblades, of a rattlesnake…? Into the mouth it goes. I practice the choking-mouth-sweep maneuver from my first aid training about 1,723 times a day. My only theory on why this trait has persisted through the ages is that the immunity conferred by putting disgusting things into your mouth all day slightly outweighed the millions of cavebabies who must have silently choked to death on mammoth scraps in some shadowed corner of the cave while their exhausted parents tried to relax by watching the fire channel and eating some rotten fermented fruit.

My daughter never had this compulsion. By ten months I could leave her, unsupervised, with a gigantic bowl of marbles and when I came back out of the shower, she would have them all sorted by size and color. The thought that these small glass spheres might be food would have never crossed her functioning brain. When I finally took her binky away, I told myself never again. I never thought I’d need to use it as my mother-in-law (who also had a boy) refers to it: The Plug. It’s literally the only reason my son survives an afternoon in our yard.

Inside is safer, but not by much. When I get done writing this I am going to go down to the basement, haul up the fireplace surround, and reassemble it. Mind you, it is July. Why? Because my brain damaged son keeps throwing himself off of the bricks, face first, every time I turn my back for THREE GODDAMN SECONDS. Two minutes later, if left to it, he will do it again. Zero learning has occured between faceplants. I find myself wondering if he had brain damage to start with, or whether it’s just been the result of repeated head whacking.

Do you remember this scene from Parenthood? Rick Moranis’s character has a genius daughter. The choice of genders of the children wasn’t a casting accident.

I think of that scene often when my son engages in his new favorite activity, which is accessed via the aforementioned brick step of facial plantation. He was pretty tired in this clip, but this sound has become the soundtrack to my life. He comes back to it like a heroin addict – compulsively, unconsciously, and takes extreme joy in the sound, and then crashes. Literally. Looks pretty similar to the bucket doesn’t it?

Everyone says, boys are hard in the beginning, but they get easier. They say the opposite of girls. Or as Louis CK said, “Boys fuck things up. Girls are fucked up.” If you only have boys or you only have girls, you’ll only know what you know. Great, really, because you can’t compare. If you have both, though, you’ll compare genders constantly. Comparisons are relative of course, so there are two options by which you’ll compare: Older Boy/Younger Girl or Older Girl/Younger Boy.

The first is desirable, I would think, because a baby boy really lowers your intelligence expectations, so when the girl shows up, it’s like, Holy shit, she’s a fucking genius! She doesn’t lunge at outlet covers like those caged Velociraptors in Jurassic Park! I don’t have to helicopter parent her every encounter with a dandelion! Instead she’ll just sit there in the yard, humming the tune of some nursery rhyme, making a necklace out of them. But if, like me, you have a girl first, it’s absolutely confounding when you son engages in behavior that would draw stares from even the gorillas in the zoo if he were to, y’know, inexplicably crawl into their exhibit.

And trust me, if he could get into that exhibit, he would. I’ve seen the way he stares at them pooping. It’s the same way the gorillas stare at you from the other side of the glass, as you taunt them with your popcorn. My son would gladly trade them the popcorn for the opportunity to cruise the soiled faux-rock floor of their exhibit. Which just goes to prove my previous point: the popcorn would surely kill him, but if the ape shit didn’t, why even bother with the rest of his vaccination schedule, right? He’d be golden.


That Doll Ain’t No Lady

We have a lot of orchids. Thirteen in all, but we used to have more. Now their leaves emit more anxiety than oxygen, on account of them watching us give away their peers to Orchid-newbies (read: certain death. Or we’ve slowly killed the others out of neglect now that we have children. But somehow they bloom. I have a theory that by keeping them in a constant state of distress they bloom out of desperation in a futile effort to reproduce,kinda like the way salmon so selflessly do: laying their eggs and promptly keeling over. Unfortunately the long-nosed hawk moth of South Africa or whatever is never to be found fluttering inside our house at night so their flowers eventually drop, unfertilized, to the floor, waiting to be grabbed by the drooly hand of a passing baby and promptly gummed into oblivion. Fortunately none of them are poisonous…that I’m aware of.

I do have a favorite: Phragmipedium Sunset Glow 4N. Phragmipediums are the South American version of the more familiar Paphiopedilums native to southeast Asia. You probably know them better as lady slipper orchids, and indeed that is what they look like. So when this particular orchid, which has been reliably blooming for months, dropped its final bloom, I scooped it off the floor and gave it to my daughter. She asked me what it was, and in hindsight I don’t know why I didn’t tell her its latin name, since this is the three year-old who will drop “Pachycephalosaurs” or “Parasaurolophus” without blinking, but I said, “It’s a lady slipper orchid.”

She climbed out of her chair excitedly, and ran for her toy box. Confused, I watched her return and then realized what she was doing.


Adorable right?

But you don’t know this doll. If you knew this doll, you’d see one of Cinderella’s bitchy step-sisters – the one who skanks around in seedy clubs, goes home with the guy in the fishnet top, and is the bread and butter of Saturday morning cabbies – trying to fit her foot in a slipper, far too pretty for her cheap pedicure.

I smiled and, in my best, Clark Gable impersonation, made the comment, “I don’t know Josie. From what I know of that doll, she ain’t no lady.” And this is the problem with being a comedian to toddlers: they’re literalists, and even if they weren’t, they focus on words they’ve never heard their dad say before, like ain’t, and miss the punchline anyway.

I have my good friend Matthew Martz to thank for this and another doll’s personality, because one night he channeled their thoughts to the delight of Josie. Apparently they were quite catty that night, and ever since when I catch Josie playing with the two of them, they are just as evil as the night Matthew gave them voices. None of her other toys are like this. Every stuffed animal she has is an angel she loving tucks in at night with a napkin. These two though…they’re like the douchey spawn of Snooki and Kevin Federline. I have fears that someday Josie will catch a clip of Miley Cyrus twerking on TV and later that night, while I’m cleaning up the toy wreckage in the living room I’ll come upon one of these girls bent over, in front of her stuffed Eeyore, who for all intents and purposes, will appear to be giving it to her doggy style.

Thanks a lot Matthew.


When Girls Play with Dinosaurs

My daughter loves dinosaurs. I don’t know why because she plays with them wrong. Everyone knows that the correct way to play with dinosaurs is to grab one in each hand and bash them together over and over again while making noises in your throat that sound like a Rottweiler devouring a badger. My daughter prefers to tuck them in…

IMG_9959…dress them in tutus (even if they’re only puzzle piece tutus)…

IMG_0236 (2)…treat their boo-boos in her “Get Better Center”…

IMG_0325 (2)…make houses out of books for her Mama sauropod and turn Nerf bullets into hats..

IMG_0366 (2)…feed her T.Rex grape muscari blossoms, because everyone knows a T. Rex’s preferred diet consisted of flowers served with a splash of tea from a musical pink teapot… IMG_0434

So when I came upon this apparent feeding frenzy one day I had a glimmer of hope. Elmo’s days of infernal giggling had come to end. These adorable herbivorous dinosaurs from the Land Before Time had heard enough. I could almost hear his ligaments snapping as Petri tore flesh from his carcass. I could smell the stink of death upon Littlefoot’s breath. I could feel the bloodthirsty rage in Cera’s eyes. I looked down upon Elmo’s sad repose, imagining Ducky’s bill grinding his little red furry bones into dust. When I turned toward my daughter, with mocked concern for Elmo’s well being, she corrected me. “No! Kissing Dada! They’re kissing!”

IMG_0199 (2)Oh well.

Her dinos peaceful existence will come to a close soon enough. Soon my son will be able to crawl. Once he does, by the laws of sheer probability, the first thing he will put in his mouth will be dinosaur, and  I have a feeling that when that happens a battle will commence between the two of them that will rival anything ever seen during the Jurassic. And soon after that, unfortunately, some playmate of Josie’s will make an innocent comment about dinosaurs being “boys things” and they will be cast aside to Grant. He will undoubtedly pick them up with both hands, bash them together, and make sounds in his throat that will cause me to have the irrational fear that Clover is attacking a badger in the living room.

And I will be left in a pretty pink princess world awash in the nostalgia of the days when Josie was my baby Diplodocus and I was her Dada.



I know what it sounds like, but to assure you that I haven’t fallen into a literary rut of feces, here is a definition:

Logorrheaˌlôgəˈrēə,ˌlägə-/ noun. 1. a tendency to extreme loquacity.

One year ago, a friend of mine was over who has a son. He was three at the time and I remember very distinctly my friend watching my daughter playing quietly with some of her toys. He turned to me with a knowing expression and simply said, “Enjoy the silence.” Of course, at the time Josie was two and I was blissfully living downstream from the dam and had yet to notice its cracks. Back then, my wife and I were getting, maybe, three word phrases from Josie – simple sentences that we delighted in recounting to one another, which only parents could take delight in.

“You’ll never guess what she said today,” I would say to my wife upon arriving home.

“What?” she would say breathlessly, as if I had just returned from the reading of my rich dead uncle’s will.

“Ducks…fly…sky,” I would recount slowly, like a poet reciting halting lines of verse.

One year later, and that little speech center in her brain has gone supernovae. Before it happens to your two year-old, you never really think it’s possible – like when they were a baby, and you could never imagine them with teeth. But it happens. Oh does it happen. And I’m not saying that it always feels like drowning in a deluge of verbal vomit. Like yesterday, she said the sweetest thing, I honest to god wrote it down and read it to my wife when she came home: “One day, when I’m bigger, I will fly up to the moon. Not with one spaceships. With my wings.”

Adorable, right? Except that the other 99% of the time what comes out of her mouth is a stream of consciousness. But from a toddler’s consciousness, so it’s just a bunch of random words and ideas rattling around a garbage disposal and what comes out looks like what happens when I connect my shop-vac’s hose to the exhaust port by accident.

To give you an idea – a tiny taste of the endless train of mangled verbs and nouns I listen to all day – here is a transcript of a video I took today. She was reading a dinosaur book while playing with a T-Rex figure, and I just set the video camera on the table and walked away. This took the time it took me to make a cup of coffee, spiked with an unmentionable amount of Bailey’s. I added punctuation to make it intelligible, but I regret doing so now. There should really be no punctuation at all.

“…mouth this the beak of the triceratops mouth you ate the whoooole beak the whole triceratops you needed this you ate the tail to grow your tail you ate his mouth to grow your mouth you ate his eye to grow your two eyes you growed your feet for his feet you ate mate you ate yourself. Pretty sad to ate himself him just lay down and another one came and say, “What you doing laying on ground?”
“I’m just laying on the ground,” he say.
“I’m been talking something.”
“What you talking?”
“I don’t know. I’m talking another one of my friends.”
“You talking one swimming dino?”
“Yeah. I’m talking with triceratops. Right over there. (in pirate accent). I’m talking…I’m talking…um um um um um um uh um saying that they ate all meat this guy knocked hisself right over by the tail of this big dino and this dino will fell right down and this volcano erupt last time trannafaur rex last time him erupting. this dino died last year pretty sad your friend this guy flow then the volcano erupted then this guy had to five um I’m wanting to give one…(inaudible gibberish)…I’m pretending you get one shoot this dino you have a longer tail that you want I show you you grow this much.

This will melt your brain.

Not that I’m advocating the use of torture, but the U.S. government could save itself a lot of hassle from the likes of aggrieved death metal bands by recording toddlers talking to themselves and broadcasting that instead to the prisoners in Guantanamo. Better yet, ship a barge of toddlers over there. I hear they already play the theme song from Barney over and over and over and I bet the food is really bland too, probably a lot of plain pasta and white bread. They’d fit right in!

I realize this post sounds tantamount to a cry for help. It is not. It’s simply a birthday wish for noise cancelling Bose headphones.

Or, at the very least, a lock on the bathroom door.

Welcome Home Grant! (and sewage)

So I realize that the five of you who read this blog who aren’t related to me may have suspected that I died a few months ago. I did not. I did write a novel, which, if you’ve never written one, pretty much saps all available writing time and energy. I also had a son, which similarly also drains you of all your time and energy faster than a vampire bat at an overturned bloodmobile.

I started timing Sarah’s contractions around 10:50pm on November 4th.  By 12:15 I tiptoed downstairs to the guest room where Sarah’s mom was sleeping, nearly giving her a heart attack.  Luckily, she didn’t go into cardiac arrest, but still, we could have carpooled to the ER.  The hospital is two minutes away, driving 25 miles per hour.  I tried to crack a few jokes to lighten the mood, but Sarah’s sense of humor was way off.

Something to know about Sarah: she is the toughest woman I know.  When she delivered Josie, over the course of 19 hours, nurses who would come on shift would have to be told that there was a woman in labor one door away from their desk.  Still, I insisted on getting her a wheelchair this time, instead of listening to her assurances that she could make it to the elevator, only to have her slump to the floor half way there.  Once in our room – the same one we delivered Josie in (small towns) – the contractions came like waves.  Of course, Sarah barely made a sound, and the two nurses calmly went about their buisness fiddling with the computer, slowly strapping on the fetal heart monitor.  Shouldn’t they be checking her?! I thought.  But no, they’re professionals, they know what their doing.

Then four things happened simultaneously: the nurse checked Sarah and said, “You’re fully dilated!” then her water broke, then she said, “Are you pushing?!” and “Call Molly.”  Molly was the on call doctor the night, and I had talked to her earlier in the evening.  Luckily she’s a neighbor and a friend, so I knew that she also lived two minutes away.  A few minutes later, she jogged into the room strapping on her gown, and relieving me of my thoughts that maybe I would be the one to deliver the baby (in which case I was already crafting my case for a BIG discount on our hospital bill).

Fifty minutes after being admitted to the hospital little Grant was born.  We didn’t know the gender though, but even before I saw his ginormous swollen ballsack, I could tell it was a boy…or at least I was hoping there’d be a wiener, because that face on a girl would be really unfortunate.  Our mom’s were in the waiting room, where I announced it was a boy to their surprise.  Many photos later, I kicked them out around 4 am so we could all get some sleep.


The next day was full of visitors.  Grant slept most of the day, which was the total opposite of Josie’s first few days (and months).  By the end of the day, we got to sleep at a somewhat decent hour.  At 7:30am my father woke me up.  “Not to alarm you, but this morning the toilet overflowed.” He described a gurgling in the bar sink, which I’d known about for years, but by ignoring it, it always resolved itself after a week or two. Not this time.

I came home when my dad said there was a plumber, Jeff, in my basement attacking my sewage line with a sawzall. After snaking it, he couldn’t reach the blockage, so he needed to access my sewer line further down. Unfortunately I don’t have a clean-out in my yard. Fortunately, and unfortunately, I do have an angle grinder. So I grabbed a shovel and began digging a hole along my foundation, underneath my deck. About two feet down I found my cast iron sewer line. I grabbed my angle grinder, attached a cut-off wheel and began sawing into the sewer line. In retrospect, I don’t know why Jeff wasn’t doing this – I guess I just wanted to get this done ASAP and I must have figured I had more incentive to get it done fast, but either way it was me who narrowly escaped taking a geyser of poop water to the mouth when I finally did cut through it. So after burning that shirt and thanking my cat-like reflexes, he set to snaking the line from that point.

He snaked it, which took about an hour (translation: $80) and after he didn’t make any headway, he went to retrieve “the good one” from his truck. Why he didn’t start with the good snake, well, I have a guess. After it failed to clear the blockage (and bringing up dirt and roots) Jeff suggested using a “water wienie.”

“What’s a water wienie?”

“It’s this plug you can stick in your sewer with a garden hose attachment that you can use to pressurize your sewer line. Sometime it’ll blow out whatever is blocking your line.”

This, it turns out, was a terrible idea, because about 60 seconds after we attached a garden hose and turned the water on, my mother came running out of the house screaming that there was “water” coming out from behind the washer/dryer.

It wasn’t water.

Now, I don’t mean to trivialize what happened to Japan during the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that happened in 2011, but when I opened the door, the wave of sewage coursing across my kitchen floor looked eerily familiar.

Turns out, there was a Y downstream in the side sewer line we didn’t know about that came back into the house, so, yeah, that was awesome. After mopping up raw sewage from my floor we called it quits for the day. He said he’d come back in the morning and locate where the blockage was. Then I’d dig.

After showering at the hospital (before touching my newborn son) I spent the night there. Bless their hearts, the nurses at the hospital let us stay at the hospital an additional day. So I got up in the morning and returned to the house. Jeff showed up and tried to locate the line, but couldn’t, until he tried again with “the good one” which worked fine. Lucky for me, the blockage was just inside my property line (and not under the road) and was only four feet down.

I began digging. It wasn’t easy. In my short-lived construction career I encountered softer concrete. I casually borrowed a pick from my neighbor. After an hour I hit something that began filling my hole with black death. I donned boots, and unable to do anything else, I began bailing sewage with a bucket into my rhubarb bed. Eventually the line cleared, but not before I had emptied gallons of human sewage on my garden bed. Who wants Strawberry-Rhubarb-Hepatitis pie?! Anyone? Anyone?


A tree root had completely clogged my line. I cut it out and replaced a 7 foot section of the sewer line with some PVC sewer line I had in the garage. I added a clean-out and after flushing the toilet and jubilantly watching the water race toward the city’s gurgling trunk line, I returned to the hospital victorious, tired, and $900 poorer.

I also showered again. But of course, being calf-deep in sewage is appropriate foreshadowing to bringing a newborn home from the hospital.

Welcome home Grant. All that, and still, you insist on pooping in your pants.


I thought I would have a more masculine effect on my daughter being a stay-at-home dad, but after raising a girl who wants to be a ballerina, I’m not sure how much influence my gender is having.  I thought I’d be able to make some generalizations about children raised by stay-at-home mothers or father by now, but I can’t.  Kids come in all flavors and I honestly don’t think there’s much a parent can do to alter their fundamental personality.  I think I can say, given my wife’s numerous comments after coming home from work, that perhaps color coordination is not traditionally one of men’s strong  points.


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