I lied … sorta!

I lied … sorta!

I lied … sorta.

On the 10th anniversary of Lis’ diagnosis of leukemia, which in turn meant the 10th anniversary of my blog, I told you that I would commemorate this milestone by doing a bunch of top 10 lists. If you haven’t noticed, I lied.

However, after a co-worker of mine told me that she spent hours reading through my blog I decided to add a few other pages and have slowly started to put some of my favorite posts from the last 10 years on those marked pages. What do you think?

I also told you that I would do my best to turn this blog into a ‘dad blog’ and start writing stories that had been on my mind for months. I lied … sort of.

So I didn’t actually turn this blog into a ‘dad blog’, but I did start a dad blog with a friend of mine from work.

He, also a father of three kids, and I were talking about how as dads of three we rarely got out because our world revolves around our wife and kids. And we’re cool with that! I told him about how I wanted to start a dad blog, he told me about how he’s built websites, and was knowledgeable on how to get traffic to the site (that SEO stuff), and possibly make money through the site.

We decided to combine our powers and create a dad blog called ‘United We Dad’. United we dad 2

We are just two weeks into our experiment, but I look forward to what this site might bring. I’ll write no matter if I’m making money or not, but it’s nice to start fresh and have it solely about being the shenanigans I experience while attempting to help raise our three kids.

With that said, if you’ve followed my blog long enough, and like what I have to say, I encourage you … scratch that … I beg you to jump over to United We Dad and subscribe to what we hope will become our weekly newsletter.

You can find our blog here at UnitedWeDad.com.

Also, please LIKE our Facebook page at facebook.com/UnitedWeDad.

Please follow us on Twitter @UnitedWeDad, Instagram @UnitedWeDad and Pinterest at UnitedWeDad.

My first real story about our kids was about Levi and teaching him Bathroom Etiquette. Check it out here!

Thank you for those of you that subscribed and followed along our journey. I will continue to update it here, but since most of my life consists of my life with three kids, and a husband, then most of it will probably be on the United We Dad site.

Thank you again for your support and we hope to see you there!

Ten Years!

Ten Years!

Nothing sums up my excitement for this day like one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies of all-time.

TEN YEARS!

If you’ve never seen the 1996 black comedy Grosse Pointe Blank then you’re kind of missing out. A movie filled with comedy, action, drama, romance and a flawless script, Grosse Pointe Blank features John Cusack (in a script he co-wrote) as a professional killer who returns to his old stomping grounds, and his 10-year high school reunion.

What does that have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing other than …

TEN YEARS!

Today, April 7, marks the 10th anniversary of Lis’s leukemia diagnosis.

TEN YEARS!

More importantly, this week will mark the 10th anniversary of me turning my personal diary into a blog. Okay, maybe not quite ‘more importantly’ but it’s a nice little feat if I do say so myself.

TEN YEARS!

What will we do to commemorate these milestones?! Well as I’ve done the past few years I’ve decided to take the day off of work and spend it with my family. Call it our annual “Pause and Reflect Johnson 5 Holiday.” If I go to work I usually end up daydreaming about what I was doing on this date 10 years ago, and well that doesn’t make me very productive because I end up wanting to spend time with the wife that I nearly lost, the son that sparked our fight, and the kids that weren’t supposed to happen.

TEN YEARS!

If you’re unfamiliar with our story then … well, you’re probably not reading this.

Long story short, if you think you may have a medical issue then go see the doctor ASAP. Don’t wait for the sprained wrist to never heal. Don’t wait for the headaches to continue for weeks. Don’t wonder about the bruises in awkward places. Don’t wait until pinpoint red dots appear all over your legs. And especially don’t wait until your blood is nearly depleted from your body. Get to the doctor ASAP!

Want the longer story? Start here with my first entry, “Like a Ton of Bricks” written two days later. Follow it there, but excuse all my grammar mistakes. I know I still make them but, kind of fun to see how far I’ve grown in 10 years.

If you are familiar with the story you’ve probably tired of it. I’ve shared it a ton, in front of family, in front of friends, in front of strangers, in front of a few, and in front of hundreds. I love sharing the story. It’s a story of support. It’s a story of friendship. It’s a story of faith. It’s a story of love. It’s a story of hope. It’s our story.

No, I don’t have a special reflection post to write.

I’m not going to get all teary-eyed sharing about how incredible my wife was and continues to be.

May 1 (7)I’m not going to share about how incredible Lukas was, and how his smiles at 6-months helped all of us survive the fight and how we recently joked that we all have our purpose in life, and that he served his purpose during those first few months of his life. He’s now excused.

I’m not going to share about Lia and Levi, and how TEN YEARS! ago Lis and I were just counting our blessings that there were three of us – and now there are five!

I will thank all of you that ever supported us either via visits, prayers, food, following us via my blog, financially, car washes, and everything else that went into Lis’s survival.

Here’s Lis’s five-year anniversary slideshow for those that want to flashback a few years:

TEN YEARS!

What I do hope to do is commemorate this blog by posting a Top 10 list about everything from my top 10 favorite blog posts, our 10 favorite movies from the last 10 years, 10 moments from the last 10 years, 10 things I learned the last 10 years, and more!

And now that we’ve reached this milestone, I hope to do my best to officially turn this blog into a “Daddy Blog” about life as a husband and as a father of three kids.

Along with the aforementioned lists I will be reintroducing you all to the characters in my life. I’ve also bottled up a few story ideas in my head the last few months. Things from how to both challenge and push my kids academically, the ease of access of nudity, and even circumcision. Things we all can relate to, but told in the wacky way my mind works, and in the wacky way I parent.

Any suggestions, please toss this to me via email at lifewiththreekids@hotmail.com, onr via Twitter @mylifewith3kids.

Thank you all once again for your support and here’s to another …

TEN YEARS!

The Padawan Outlasts the Jedi (and other March happenings)

The Padawan Outlasts the Jedi (and other March happenings)

It didn’t arrive in a giant pine box marked with the words “Fragile” stamped all over it.

It won’t be proudly displayed in our window, so our neighbors can admire it.

But like the leg lamp in A Christmas Story, this was definitely a major award.

So how did my 10-year-old son win an Xbox One, a Madden NFL ’15 Xbox One game and a $500 “Scholarship” check from the National Football League?

I’m so glad you asked!IMG_20150317_174935

As my avid readers – yes, all four of you – know, I’m a bit into sports and fantasy sports. Naturally, when my son became of age (and if he liked sports), he would join me in my fantasy football nonsense, much to his mom’s chagrin.

He joined me in a league in 2013, and then in 2014, when he placed fourth in a 16-team league (I finished eighth). While playing alongside me he joined NFLRush.com‘s (the official youth site for the NFL) weekly fantasy football game where you pick a quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, defense and a wild card player.

In Week 13 he scored 141 points with a roster of Aaron Rodgers, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Jimmy Graham, the St. Louis Rams defense and Andrew Luck. His score was good enough for sixth place that week. Sixth out of 35,000 that submitted some sort of roster. Impressive!

Oh, and to those that might have thought I helped him choose his roster. Nope! It was Week 13 so I wasn’t even assisting him by then. And second, I told him to focus on our fantasy football league because he could win about $300. In my face!

The winners are contacted via email by an associate of the NFL, and if they don’t respond within 10 days, it goes to the next person. Lukas was fortunate enough that the parents of the five kids above him don’t check their email as frequently as I do.

I received an email from the NFL and after quickly thinking it was a hoax, verified the email address, the LinkedIn account of the person contacting me, the address of the NFL, and talked to the gal that was on the email who confirmed, “I get this type of call a lot.”

The email stated the following:

IMAG3212

We were pumped! As I mentioned in my Five for ’15 post I had hoped to replace our GameCube with something more spectacular. Well, nothing could top winning a FREE XBox One from the National Football League!

After submitting the required paperwork, and left pinkie, Lukas and I attempted to wait patiently for our package to arrive. Attempted, because after four weeks we were starting to get anxious.

And then the check for $500 arrived. Kind of cool receiving a check from the NFL, have to admit. It went directly to his savings.

A few weeks later, mirroring the Parkers in the aforementioned A Christmas Story, we were sitting around the dinner table when there was a knock on the door. We had just had a visit from our neighbors, and we assumed it was the neighbor boy coming to see if Lukas wanted to shoot hoops.

Instead it was the FedEX dude running away from the package, and me saying, “Thank YOU!” with a glow on my face.

jordan-cryingLukas jumped up and down, and the two of us danced around in a circle as the rest of the Johnson Five laughed at us. Lukas would eventually fall to the ground and sob, as if he had just won a championship, a sight reminiscent of this picture of Michael Jordan after Jordan had just won the 1996 NBA Finals on Father’s Day.

In a way Lukas had won his own championship, and I was very, very proud of him.

Inside the Van
The name is a work in progress. I wanted something fun, kind of catchy, that would be like a “brief” update on how we’re all doing. For now I’m calling it “Inside the Van” but I’ll likely change it very, very soon. Any suggestions? Send them my way!

Another one of my goals this year was to read at least 10 books this year. For those of you that bust out books like we bust out kids, 10 is a large number. After all I’ve read maybe 10 books in the last five years (okay, let’s be honest, closer to 10). Still with my goal of being less committed to things outside of family and work, it can be accomplished. Well three months into the year and I’ve read three books – Glorious: A Novel of the American West by Jeff Guinn, followed by John Grisham’s Sycamore Row and Calico Joe.

What’s even cooler is that Lis has finally started to read, and has busted out Sycamore Row, The Confession and The Chamber. Cool because when Lis and I first met we used to read a lot together. She wanted to learn English, I wanted to … be friends with her. ;)

All that reading caused issues with her eyes. Okay, maybe not but she had issues with her sight (blurred vision, squiggly lines, black spots), went to the doctor, and found out she had toxoplasmosis, or the same thing she had in her early 20’s. A month later and the blurriness is disappearing, but c’mon! Can’t we get a break from these blood disorders.

IMG_20150329_192709Which reminds me! Next week will be 10 years since Lis was diagnosed, which means 10 years since this blog started. What to do, what to do to celebrate this milestone?

In late March we drove over to the Westside to spend Levi’s birthday with family. We had a wonderful drive there and back, and a nice time with family and friends. I even got to play basketball with the fellas, scoring 11 points, and more importantly, having a blast. Since we were up by nearly 30, Lukas had a chance to play, and he scored four points, including a decent outside shot that had both benches cheering. Thanks fellas!

Mini-Baseball Preview

Because I haven’t written a ton in a month I thought I would toss a mini-baseball preview onto the bottom of this post.

I’m mighty giddy about this baseball season. For the first time in ever the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners could be postseason contenders in the same season! I grew up a Padres fan, and have remained loyal to my favorite sports team, despite their awful rosters the last … what seems like for-ev-er!

When we moved to the Seattle area in ’92 the baseball lovin’ fan in me jumped on the Mariners, giving me an NL and AL team to root for. I will always root for the National League and the Padres, but that doesn’t take anything away from my love for the M’s. In fact, see last September’s post about my My Oh My Magical Mariner Moments!

If you’re looking to place bets, don’t … I haven’t been remotely close with baseball in years.

American League West: Seattle Mariners
American League Central: Detroit Tigers
American League East: Toronto Blue Jays
American League Wild Cards: Anaheim Angels and Cleveland Indians

National League West: San Diego Padres
National League Central: St. Louis Cardinals
National League East: Washington Nationals
National League Wild Cards: Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers

American League Champion: YOUR Seattle Mariners
National League Champion: Washington Nationals

World Series Champion: Washington Nationals – Their five-man rotation is incredible, as is their hitting. They can’t go four-and-out in four straight postseason series, can they?!

anthony-rizzo-swngAmerican League MVP: Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
National League MVP: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

American League Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
National League Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

American League Rookie of the Year: Dalton Pompey, Toronto Blue Jays
National League Rookie of the Year: Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers

Play ball!

Diary of a Delivery: Part 2 – Four Years Later

Diary of a Delivery: Part 2 – Four Years Later

As I may have mentioned I’m not one that usually likes to read my own writing, or worse yet, chuckle at my own writing. It’s like listening to your recorded voice, or your worse yet, laughing at your own jokes.

However every year at the same time I like to look back at my Diary of a Delivery: Part 2 – Showtime! and the birth of our third child, Levi. Oh, if you’re looking for Part I you can click here. It’s filled with me ditching my laboring wife for a fantasy baseball draft, McDonald’s and what it means to the outside world to have a third kid.

Before I repost Part 2, four years after it was originally ‘published’, I should probably say something about that little dude that made this possible.

He’s awesome!

That’s it. I’m going away from the bragging about my kids chatter that I’ve done in the past (though there will be a post about Lukas winning an Xbox One, because … well, did your kid win an Xbox One from the NFL? Probably not).

Levi is, well, Levi. He’s funny, smarter than the ‘Job with His Name On It’ label some have given him (don’t let the size fool you, he’s no dummy), has much love for his older siblings who he admires and looks up to, and can hold his own with anyone.

He’s … Levi.

And four years ago today our family had the day that follows. And four years later updates in bold and italics:

As Mom and new baby sleep, I thought I would continue my Diary of a Delivery with the second and final part (thank God!).

If you read yesterday’s post then you’ll know that I signed off the computer at 11:12 p.m. I should have gone to bed. Instead, I thought I would sneak in a game or two of MVP Baseball 2005. Stupid idea and let’s find out why!

Sunday, March 27, 2011:

3:17 a.m. – I wake up to what sounds like Lis having labor pains. I hear a lot of heavy breathing as she slides out of bed. I stay where I am.

3:38 a.m. – I wake up to the sound of more breathing and pacing. Stupid me! I decided to stay awake until 1 a.m. playing my Nintendo GameCube. I didn’t know this was going to happen so soon! Oh well, it was kind of worth it as Lukas went 4-for-5 with three home runs and seven RBI cementing his claim on the MVP race over both Erik and Randy. Don’t ask.

4:45 a.m. – I text my mom and Stephanie letting them know that Lis is having contractions every four minutes and she seems to be in pain. I tried to ask her but she just groaned. I’ll take that as a yes.

4:48 a.m. – Funny how the sounds she is making now resemble the same sounds she made when she got into this mess nine months ago.

Four years later, still my favorite line.

5:00 a.m. – Lis decides it’s time to go. She showers as I sneak in a 10-minute nap. When she gets out, she tells me I need to get ready. I take a lukewarm shower as we await my parents arrival.

5:30 a.m. – Mom (and Dad) arrived at the house. I give Mom the option to come with us or stay and wait for the kids to wake. She decides to come with us so I call Plan B – Stephanie (and Erik). She says they are on their way. They’ll watch the kids before heading out to the hospital. Dad will leave shortly before them.

6:02 a.m. – We’re on our way to the hospital. Lis seems to be having contractions every two minutes apart. I’m hoping the baby doesn’t pop out on Highway 2. (Little did I know what lay ahead).

6:09 a.m. – Leaving Monroe passing the Arco. (This was in Mom’s notepad. What she failed to mention was the new Jack in the Box that just opened a week or so ago).

Three years later Lis would actually work at this new Jack in the Box. Mmm…Sourdough Jack.

6:45 a.m. – We enter the hospital. Only one of us is allowed in – not including Lis. Mom and I draw straws. I pick the small one and head in to support my wife. We go over the checklist of items that usually surprise the nurses: Blood transfusions (too many to count), the special antigen in her blood thanks to those transfusions, cancer, prior C-section because of low platelets, delivered the second child with no problems, allergy to Tegaderm.

Four years later and more blood issues to add to the list. Oh, this will be in a future post as well, once we know what the heck is going on.

8:35 a.m. – The nurses confirm Lis is in labor so we book a room one floor down and head to Room 320.  It’s a nice room with a view of the parking garage. The doctor checks in with Lis and lets her know everything is going great.

8:48 a.m. – Erik, Stephanie and Dad arrive with the kids and more importantly donuts. The anesthesiologist finishes the epideral with Lis. He may have stabbed her in the back five times (there’s a joke here about me stabbing her in the back fewer but since that has never happened it doesn’t really work) before getting it right or giving up and saying that it was right. Lis and I have questions about this. He was a nice dude but Mom, Lis, Stephanie and I all agreed that the poking seemed to take some time. That coupled with later in the day Lis feeling pain she shouldn’t have felt make us think maybe something wasn’t done completely right.

10:26 a.m. – Our first non-Johnson guest arrives. It’s my good buddy Ian Barnes. Ian and I met working at the Boys & Girls Club in Monroe back in 1996 – I think. Wow…we’re at 15 years now! Ian was my first and only roommate and is explained best by saying “George Costanza”. He’s a good dude and he played topper at my wedding giving a nice speech after my brothers both spoke. Ian’s primary concern right now is that he was the first of my friends to arrive. He thinks this should move him above Josh in the rankings.

Good ol’ Ian. He really came on strong these last four years. Too bad he’s in China. Well not too bad for him. If you’re out there Ian, we miss you!

10:28 a.m. – Lis asks the nurse if she is having contractions. She must be feeling good. Lis asks the nurse for grapes. Supposedly, I was going to peel these grapes and feed them to her. Luckily, they never arrived.

10:30 a.m. – Lukas has an explosion in the men’s room. I think he’s got a mix of his Dad’s nerves and his mom’s unwillingness to hold it in.  Not pretty.

10:35 a.m. – Lis is getting her hair braided by Stephanie. First-class service!

10:55 a.m. – Dad and I feel like we just cleaned up a crime scene. We calmed down Lukas. We put clothes inside of trash bags, inside of trash bags, inside of trash bags. I scrubbed down everything. We soaped and sanitized everything. As we finish up two dudes walk in. We look back…there is no sign of evidence. Let’s hope this doesn’t play out later in life, though it was nice to have my dad there as a co-conspirator. Lukas whispers to us, “Don’t tell Mom.”

And my favorite story from that wacky day doesn’t even include Lis giving birth but Lukas destroying the bathroom, and my dad and I bonding over cleaning up after his mess. And we’re talking a mess!

Noon – The doctor pops in and decides to pop the water balloon inside of Lis. Things seem to be progressing nicely. She’s at 8 cm. This thing looks like it’ll be here within the hour.

12:15 p.m. – Dad, Erik and Lukas escape to go get lunch at Burger Stop.

12:40 p.m. – Ian and Mom strike up the most fascinating conversation of the day – peeing in a public restroom. I was about to go into detail but … do we really need to?

1:00 p.m. – There’s always the question of who’s going to be in the room when Lis gives birth? Just me? Do we include my mom? We included my mom when Lia was born so she was granted a free pass this time around. I thought it might be nice to ask Stephanie. She and Erik have done a lot for us this past year, helping with the kids, coming over every Tuesday to hang out with us so I thought I would ask if she would like to be in the room. Her face lit up, turned red and she said she’d be honored to be in the room with us.

This was nice to remember. Things were mildly sprained for a bit but they continue to support us, making a nearly once-a-month trek to visit us, and now get to experience their own childbirth in two months.

1:10 p.m. – False alarm. She’s not ready yet. Mom, Stephanie and I wait.

2:00 p.m. – The doctor comes in to do the hourly check up on Lis. Lis is still at 8cm and her contractions have calmed down. They are not as hard as they were or should be. This causes a concern for the doctor. The doctor is going to give Lis’s body one more hour to do what she does. If nothing progressed then there would be two options.

Option A) Give her Pitocin, a drug that would increase strength of her contractions but, because of her prior C-section, also causes a bigger risk of having a uterine rupture. If she has a uterine rupture then she would need an emergency C-section, which is a much bigger concern because of her prior blood/cancer issues. Lis would need a special type of blood that carries an antigen and is not found in blood banks near you but has to be specially ordered.

Option B) Just skip straight to a C-section, which is something Lis did not want to do. We all know what a C-section is – surgery and a few more days in the hospital. The plus…can we tie her tubes while you’re in there (thus getting me off the hook)?

The doctor gives us time to think about this. Lis, Mom, Stephanie and I sit in silence trying to figure out what to do. Meanwhile, Harry from church texted me saying that they are in the congregational meeting waiting to hear news. I had texted a few close family and friends at 7:45 that morning and it’s now seven hours later. The natives are getting restless. I tell Harry what the doc just said. He texts back and says they are stopping to pray for us. How cool!

2:35 p.m. – The nurse pops in and says we have a guest. It’s Ian, leaning up against the nurse’s desk. Like a little kid, Ian comes up from the lobby. Dad is pestering him with a toothpick. The chairs hurt his back. The room is a little tense and Ian thinks that it’s because of him being there. We fill him in and he becomes one of the ladies.

Classic Ian!

2:40 p.m. – I go downstairs to visit with Randy, Nayheli, Maddux and Josh, who have all arrived and been waiting for a while thinking that the end was near. Dad is on his phone; Randy and Lukas chase Maddux around; Lia is asking Nayheli 100 questions; Josh is relaxing from a day of softball and Erik has to take his “baby” out for a walk. It’s too much chaos for my mind at that time so I skip out on the fun and head back upstairs to the Room of Tension.

Classic my family!

3:00 p.m. – The doctor pops in again, does the ol’ lube and poke and says Lis is at 9cm and that she seems to be progressing. He’ll give us another hour.

3:30 p.m. – Lis starts getting serious contractions and is in serious pain. Her hands are so tense (and numb) that the veins on her hands are bulging. She wonders why she’s feeling this pain (see: 8:45 a.m.) after all she’s had an epidermal and he’s refilled it twice already. Oops?

And she doesn’t even remember me sitting by her side as she clamped on to my hand. And her hand is twice my hands size!

3:45 p.m. – Classic Ian! Ian pops his head in and we all shake our heads as if to say, “Not a good time.” Lis waves her tense hand in a, “Get the hell out of here!” motion and Ian quickly disappears.

Classic Ian again!

3:50 p.m. – Lis grunts out, “I think I’m ready to push.”

4:03 p.m. – The doc checks her and … can’t feel the cervix! We’re ready to proceed. A few tears may have arrived as I thought about my belief in the power of prayer. Two hours ago, this didn’t look like a strong possibility. Our church family prayed and well …

4:05 p.m. – Mom, Stephanie, the doc, three nurses and an EMT learning how to do on-site deliveries all stare at my wife’s vagina.

Another fun story to share years later. Some people are particular about who is in the room giving birth. Not us!

197945_10150126125368922_7470456_n4:13 p.m. – Levi Edward Johnson has arrived! Lis did great. It was only two forceful pushes and he was here! His head was turning as it was coming out of the canal. The doctor gave an explanation to my mom about what was going on. I cut the cord causing blood to squirt like a B-action movie all over Lis’s face, the bed, the wall and part of the nurse. Oops! “That’s what happens when you let two men try to do something,” jokes the Doc.

Another fun story to chuckle at. I still remember Lis’ face when the blood hit her between the eyes.

4:25 p.m. – My Dad brings in Lukas and Lia to introduce them to their baby brother. Lukas is excited to see him. Lia’s not sure what to think. Later she was wanting to touch him and was saying that, “He’s a good baby.” Erik comes in followed by our Pastor. He heard things were somewhat hectic so he thought he would drop by to represent the church. Pastor asks what his name is. “Oh…that’s right I should mention that to everyone…Levi Edward.” Edward is my dad’s middle name and mine. We gave Lukas Lis’s Mom’s family name of Stevanato. Lia is a Marie, after my mom.

5:30 p.m. – Randy, Nayheli and Maddux return. They went home when they heard it might be longer. The entire Johnson clan is here. The First Five, the daughter-in-laws, and now the four grandkids. Our little family has grown from seven to 12 within 2-1/2 years.

Since I don’t recall how everything else went down, I’ll summarize the rest of the night. Josh brought pizza for us so we all (minus Lis and Levi) went downstairs to eat. While we did that Levi got his first bath! Darnit!  My tired family left around 8pm and Josh hung out until 9pm or so. I received a ton of congratulations via text and Facebook. It made me feel special.

Levi has been great! He’s quiet. He sleeps and eats a lot (that’s all they’re supposed to do at 20 hours right?) and is pretty alert. He came in at 9 lbs and 20.5 inches long. And he was eight days early! Yikes! Everyone loves to compare babies when they first arrive. For the first time in three tries all the comparisons are with me. He’s got a conehead, just like I did when I was delivered. In fact, that went through my mind when his head arrived first. I thought of my late-great Uncle Jeff comparing my cabeca (head) to a football and how Levi’s head was similarly shaped. Actually after looking at him longer I thought his head looked like Grandpa Simpson’s.

He also weighed in at 9lbs. I was at 9lb, 7 oz. He’s got long feet like me and a little butt chin like me. He does have blondish hair so that’s different.

Four years later and he’s still registering at the 99-percentile in height and head size. I don’t like to get excited about having a tall kid, but there’s a lot of indications that Tank will live up to his nickname.

If you ask people that have kids what the best day of their life was they more than likely would say the birth of their kids. I thought this was cheesy at first. If you have multiple kids, would they all be your best day? Well yesterday (after Levi arrived) was a pretty darn good day. I got more emotional with the third one than I did with the first two. I will blame the long, long day and the mental and physical exhaustion it took on me. Lis’s family got to meet the baby just minutes after he was born via webcam – how cool is that?! It might sound funny but they often get lost in the shuffle because they are in Brazil. But this baby is as much a part of them (though this one looks like me while the other two resemble the Brazilians) as it is with us so it was special watching the happy Tia’s and Avo light up.

It was neat to see the Johnson clan together and happy. We have had minor issues in the past few months but we were all stuck together in a decent size hospital room smiling and sharing laughs. Babies can do that. This one sure did.

49 Things I Thought About Super Bowl 49 (and throughout the month of January)

49 Things I Thought About Super Bowl 49 (and throughout the month of January)

Finding 49 things about Super Bowl 49 was kind of tough, so since I’ve sworn off Twitter, and have decided to stay away from posting “nonsense” on Facebook, I thought I would create a blog post full of 30-something things I thought about Super Bowl 49, and 15-something things popped into my head this last month. Have fun!

1. If you’re not a Seahawks apologist: WHAT A GAME!

2. If you’re not a Seahawks apologist: WHAT AN ENDING!

3. If you are or are not a Seahawks apologist: WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!

4. You have the top rushing attack in the NFL. Your running back is known for pushing for those extra yards, despite being gang-tackled behind the yard of scrimmage. Your quarterback rushed for 849 yards this season, that’s top-5 for his position in NFL history, and has risen himself to a top-10 status in large part because of his ability to extend plays with his legs. I’ve seen him fake a handoff, roll out, and then skip into the end zone numerous times. But a slant, to your third receiver, at the one-yard line, against a secondary that covered you well all game long?!

5. Give the Patriots credit, they stacked the line, they (thought they) knew what was coming, and instead of allowing the Seahawks to score quickly (something I would’ve thought about doing), making sure Tom Brady would have the ball with nearly a minute remaining, they stuck with their defense. They were going to win or lose with their D and …

6. Bad play call or not Malcolm Butler made an incredible play. Take a look at it again. This isn’t an easy play, or catch, to make, but he did both, and no matter who you rooted for you have to applaud this (undrafted?) rookie for making a play like this in the waning seconds of a Super Bowl. By the way, great on-field video of the interception.

Chris Matthews' Super Bowl TD (courtesy of USA Today)

Chris Matthews’ Super Bowl TD (courtesy of USA Today)

7. Speaking of unsung heroes, through the first 2 1/2 quarters it was looking like a second straight unknown would be raising the MVP trophy for the Seahawks (SEE: Smith, Malcolm). Chris Matthews entered Seattle folklore with four catches, 109 yards and a TD. I know Russell Wilson was making the throws, but the 6-foot-5 receiver was going up and getting it done. The Seahawks exploited the matchup until …

8. The Patriots defense was overshadowed by the Legion of Boom. And somewhat deservedly so, but the Patriots aren’t too shabby themselves, and they showed it late in the third, through most of the fourth quarters by holding the Seahawks to three straight three-and-outs.

9. For the third time in (11) years, Lis, who could care less about American football, won my annual party pool. She won $12, and was the only person in the 12-person pool that picked the Patriots to win (worth two points), the first score to be a TD pass, nailed LeGarrette Blount’s rushing total at 40 yards, and other “closest to the pin” victories.

10. Nailed it! In my prior post I wrote “A Letter to Seahawks fans” talking about how the Patriots do this annoying thing taking “…your momentum and use annoying slants, screens, checkdowns and running backs from the scrap pile to slow your team down.” Since they couldn’t run on the Seahawks (nobody could) they used the short passing game to move up the field. I wasn’t sure if the LOB would allow them to do this, but the Patriots have been to six Super Bowls for a reason, they figure this crap out. And they figured it out.

11. While the Patriots were doing what do so well the Seahawks were doing what they do – extending plays, and converting on possessions that normal teams wouldn’t be able to. Seriously, you’re going to take a shot at the end zone at the end of the second half, without taking the nearly automatic three points? Touchdown pass to Matthews tied the score at 14 at the half. Matthews caught two other huge gains. Jeremy Lane picks off Brady on the first drive of the game. Bobby Wagner steps in front of Rob Gronkowski, leading to a score. Up 24-14 in the third quarter, and looking as though my buddy was going to nail his 30-17 prediction, the cameras caught Wilson and coach Pete Carroll with big smiles on their face as if to say, “Hey Russell! Do what you do and that MVP trophy is yours!” And then …

12. No. 12 as in Tom Brady. If you’ve read me long enough you know I’m not in love with Brady. But you have to give respect to history, and those that make history, and right now Brady is rewriting the history books. Despite his two picks, he spent the last quarter dissecting the Seahawks defense like nobody has done. Seriously, nobody has done. This was it, this was the game that confirmed his status as …

13. The G.O.A.T. Yes, the Greatest of All-Time. He has more Super Bowl appearances than everyone else. He tied Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana for the most Super Bowl wins. He’s thrown the most Super Bowl TDs. He’s won three Super Bowl MVPs (tied with Montana). He’s won four championships within a span of 14 years. I’m a Peyton Manning lover, but I have to admit, I can no longer compete. (And still won’t post a picture of him on my blog. Putting my foot down!)

14. Let’s step away from the Super Bowl for a bit, and waste a line or two talking about the party I attended, the food I ate, the halftime show, and the commercials we saw.

15. Thanks to our new friends for inviting us over for their Super Bowl party.

16. With a house full of kids both Lia and Levi were busy the entire time, allowing Lis some grown up interaction (and forcing her to watch football), and Lukas and I to enjoy the game with friends.

GoHawks17. Heck, we even dressed the part as 12th Men!

18. The party was great! New people to hang out with, and of course: Meatballs, chicken wings, Buffalo wings, little smokies, chips, dip, and cookies! Yum, yum and yum!

19. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth swore off Deflategate, except they kept talking about how they weren’t going to talk about Deflategate. Isn’t that the first rule of Fight Club?

20. Meanwhile our host nearly became deflated after leaping from the sofa after Matthews first score. He became light-headed, had to sit down a bit, catch his breath and then prepare for Katy Perry’s halftime show.

21. Have to admit, Perry surprised me and put on a pretty good show. Except that she opened with “Roar” when I predicted “Dark Horse” but whatever! Roar

22.  She kept it fairly tasteful, she sang her hits, did a duet with Lenny Kravitz, and brought out …

23.  Missy Elliott! Okay, so I may have been one of the only people at our party that knew who she was, but she looked good, did a nice job and made a little comeback.

24.  What?! I owned her Supa Dupa Fly album.

leftshark225.  Funny, I joked to Lis about the “Left Shark” saying, “Yes, mom I was in the halftime show! I was that shark on the left.” Now he has his own Twitter account and tons of memes.

26.  Move over Al Michaels, for the second straight game I impressed my son (and surprised myself), by throwing a stat, or fact, out of my head and then Michaels or Cris Collinsworth repeating it seconds later. For example, with 2:02 remaining I turned to Lukas and said, “This is the same exact time that they had the ball against the Packers.” Marshawn flanks to the left and I follow with, “And this is the exact play that Marshawn caught that pass down the sideline, watch for him here.” Wilson to Lynch for 31 yards. Setting up …

27.  Wilson misses on a receiver. Next play it appears he missed on another receiver, or the aforementioned Butler made a terrific play on the ball, either way for the second straight game it looked like the Seahawks were headed for another “miracle” finish. Butler deflects the ball, Jermaine Kearse falls to the ground, the ball bounces off his hand into the air and then into his arms. He has the sense to get up and run, however Butler’s series of amazing events continues as he has the wherewithal to not let Kearse just get up and run, instead pushing him out of bounds. Amazing! Unless you’re a Patriots fan then you’re devastated. Check out Deadspin’s super slow motion version of the catch by clicking here.

28.  Four touchdowns times seven points each (adding the PAT) equals 28. I did my own research (so I may be off a bit), but the last time a quarterback threw for four TDs against the Seahawks was on December 26, 2010 when Josh Freeman threw five in Tampa Bay’s 38-15 victory. That means the LOB had never allowed a QB to throw for four TDs in a game EVER! Did I mention Brady’s pretty darn good?

29. My choice for best commercial … this Doritos ad:

30. I liked the Mindy Kaling Nationwide commercial, but the second one put a dagger into the hearts of everyone at our party. Mixed feelings. As an ex-Nationwide agent you want to make a point with your advertisements, and they did that. Nobody forgot that commercial. However, how many people are calling up Nationwide for quotes now?

31. Back to football. Hate to say it, but if the Seahawks came away with that win, like they did the Packers game, 12th Men had to be thinking you were pretty darn lucky. For the second straight game the Hawks were outplayed. I know we can second guess that last play call, but c’mon, it took some mighty fine bounces, to get you that close.

32.  Even with the ball on the one, and the Patriots needing to kneel the ball, you wondered if they would end up with a safety, with Brady basically in his own end zone. And then Michael Bennett got trigger happy, encroached, and game over except …

33.  Classless. Frustrated a mini-brawl erupted with Bruce Irvin being ejected for instigating, and two dudes trying to take out Gronk. Gronk was on Kimmel and said, “Screwit! I’m throwing some haymakers!” Here’s the clip from Kimmel

34.  Speaking of Gronk … he’s a beast, and though the Seahawks did a nice job of somewhat containing him, he and Brady took advantage of him lined up on K.J. Wright, and really, the only way you’re stopping that is if Gronk drops the ball or Brady tosses a bad pass.

35.  I’m pretty sure Chancellor knocked Julian Edelman out, even saying that the reason he kept running despite his knee touching the ground, was that he had no feelings in his legs. Even after he kept running he wobbled back and forth.

36.  This Marshawn Lynch/Rob Gronkowski video with Conan was great, and convinced Lukas to wear his worn down Lynch jersey to our party. Careful NSFW and a little bit on the gory side.

37.  This list is harder than I thought it would be.

38.  Since I’ve run out of things let’s do this …

39.  Loving life lately. Love my new job. Love being a 509er (that’s what we call ourselves on this side of the mountain, based on the area code for the eastern part of Washington) I have awakened happy more times in this month than I have for the last couple of years. I recently did a devotional titled “One Word That Will Change Your Life” which mentioned trying to find your one word for the new year. If you read my Year in Review then you know what my one word is. Psst … it’s “Chill” as in relax! Life is good in 2015!

40.  Speaking of new job, I think I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up! Gone are the dreams of writing for Sports Illustrated, becoming a screenwriter, teaching a bunch of fifth graders, and owning my own business. Nope, my new goal is to become a trainer! No, not the kind that will help you lift weights and eat healthy! The kind that will teach you new hires about the services, and products that Liberty Mutual has to offer. And why not?! I’m patient with everyone but my kids. I’ve been a coach. I’ve led community events. Now it’s time to combine my 11 years of experience (will be close to 15 when I have the opportunity), with my dream of becoming a teacher! Glad to have a goal I’m excited about!

41.  One of my goals for the new year was to read more books. Nearing the end of my first book, Jeff Guinn’s Glorious. It’s a story based in the ol’ West.

42.  Speaking of the ol’ West, I’ve always been fascinated with that era. Though it’s my favorite time historically, I wouldn’t want to spend more than a day in it (a little too dirty and dangerous for my likings). Still it intrigues me (and even Lis) enough that we somewhat binge-watched PBS’s six-disc documentary The West. What have I learned? Okay, the Indians may have gotten a raw deal, life was rough no matter where you came from, it’s amazing how this part of the country has been transformed in just over 100 years, greed (land), greed (gold) and more greed (more land), and man we were violent back then (and we think we’re violent now…HA!).

43. There are many, upon many, things that my kids have done that have brought me great joy in my life. Near the top of that list is watching as the kids learn how to read. I don’t know about other parents, but somewhere around Lukas’s age 3 I became interested in the fact that some day, in the near future, he would be reading the books that I was currently reading to him. I was curious to see how they would go from not knowing any words to reading an actual book. What steps would it take? How would they do it? Will he actually know how to read? This fascinated me.

Good news! Lukas did in fact learn how to read, and continues to do so with slightly-better-than-grade-level success.

Now it’s Lia’s turn, and once again I’m amazed at how kids have picked up reading.

DISCLAIMER: I adore my daughter, and find her brilliant in many ways. I will probably brag about her in the following paragraph. If that bothers you, or makes you want to vomit in your mouth then stop reading, or skip to the section titled “When I Grow Up.” If you want to use the following paragraph as a comparison to your kindergarten, feel free. If you’re like, “My kid does that, and does it better,” then congratulations you’ve got yourself a superstar. 

I’m not sure if it’s the school system, or my lack of memory, but Lia started reading fluently two months into her first year of school. I don’t recall Lukas doing that until first grade. It’s been fun to watch, and impressive. She’s always had a gift with language, talking immediately (my sister-in-law remembers her humming as a baby, while she slept), speaking fluent Portuguese by age 3 (and with a perfect dialect), and enunciating each word (other than the letter R) perfectly, and usually the first time. I sat alongside her this week as she nailed a second grade reading level book, needing  help with a couple of words, but mostly sounding out every letter and every -ch, -ck or whatever other two-letter sound she needed to sound out to complete the word. As mentioned it’s a joy to sit alongside her as she reads her book, and to see her so excited to learn.

44. You can have Baby Einstein and Mozart, I like my chances with Curious George and Mickey’s Clubhouse, especially George. Lukas learned about cirrus clouds from Curious George, and Levi surprised us the other day by correcting me about the colors that combine to make green. Asked where he learned that from and he answered, “Mickey’s Clubhouse.”

45. My brother and sister-in-law announced that they will be having a baby girl. Awesome news for everyone involved! Unfortunately I’m down a point in the baby pool. That evens it out on our side of the family with three boys and three girls!

46. Despite the fact I watched the game with Seahawk fans, my close friends are fans of the birds, and my family all roots for the Seahawks, this was probably the best Super Bowl I had ever witnessed surpassing the Super Bowl XXXIV when the Titans, much like the Seahawks, fell 1-yard short of a title, along with recent Super Bowls that featured David Tyree’s football-to-helmet catch, and Santonio Holmes’ game-winning, toe-dragging catch in XLIII.

47. March Madness is a little over a month away!

48. Pitchers and catchers (for the teams that I care about) report to Spring Training in 16 days

49. I’m pumped for baseball season! Both my favorite sports team (the San Diego Padres), and my third favorite sports team (the Seattle Mariners), look like contenders this year!

Learning about Heartbreak

Learning about Heartbreak

So much to say, but I just don’t want to talk about it.

However, sometimes it needs to be said, so instead of wasting an entire evening diving into another post about how I tend to dislike sports about the same time, every friggin’ year, I’ll just briefly write about what’s on my mind.

NOTE: After finishing I’ve decided, I didn’t really briefly write about it. So here’s another sad post about football. I need a new hobby.

Learning about Heartbreak

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We were all smiles before the game. Afterwards … one of us was in tears.

My eldest son, 10-years-old, is a Green Bay Packer fan, has been since he became a sports fan 3-4 years ago. Why Green Bay? His favorite color is green. Now he owns two Aaron Rodgers jerseys, a Clay Matthews figurine, and a Rodgers figurine.

If you paid attention to football on Sunday I won’t have to tell you about how he learned about the heartbreak of sports, and really, just heartbreak in general.

His team was minutes away from the Super Bowl. But I warned him. I had seen these Seahawks pull off some wacky stuff in the fourth quarter. Tease teams for three quarters then turn them into a blowout. This was different, but still, teams are scared, extremely tentative when they face Seattle. Teams take the conservative rout, not running back interceptions, just running the ball for the last few drives. Afraid of making mistakes doing what they normally do, they instead make mistakes doing what they’re not used to doing (recovering onside kicks, playing defense on two-point conversions). Understandable, Seattle’s defense is scary, and allows just enough time for their offense to figure out what they need to do to win the game. And they did.

And when they did my son’s emotions of happiness and triumph, turned into sadness and defeat. It was crushing to watch. I understood it. I’ve been through what he’s gone through plenty, of plenty of times. (Like I’ve said before, teams I’ve rooted for in my 20 years of being a sports fan have won one title, and that was the Colts in 2006, after I had been a fan for a mere two years.) But to watch my son breakdown in tears, knowing that his team was one mishap from winning, was extremely heartbreaking to watch.

Watching this game sure felt like we were watching history. No, not in the miraculous way the Seahawks came back (Can we stop with the Russell Wilson is holier than now QB and that’s why they won?! C’mon!), but in watching my son experience his first heartbreak. Sure there will be other sports heartbreaks, heartbreaks from dumb girls, and girls he may have loved, but this was his first, and you always remember your first – especially when your dad blogs about it.

A Letter to Seahawk Fans

As my ex co-worker used to say, “Welcome to my world!” Yes, welcome to my world Seahawk fans. You now get to face my nemesis, the New England Patriots.

I know you’re excited. You think your team is a team of destiny. I’m always one to say that you need a little luck to make a magical season happen, and if you’re really honest, you needed some luck (or stupid football decisions) to get past the Packers. But now you face the one team that doesn’t care about your magical run. The team that looks luck (and Luck, as in Andrew) in the eye and says, “Thanks for coming.” The one team that will take your momentum and use annoying slants, screens, checkdowns, and running backs from the scrap pile to slow your team down.

Sure Eli was able to beat them – twice – making two clutch throws. Sure your quarterback is known for being calm and collective as well. But this is different. These are the Patriots. The Evil Empire. The team everyone loves to hate. You will learn to hate them too.

Yes, you beat them – in Seattle – in October of 2012, by ONE! Yes, that was the world’s introduction to Richard “U Mad Bro?” Sherman.

I talked about heartbreak well, let me, from a decade of experience, introduce you to these Patriots, the team that has caused me a few heartbreaks, and why they are so evil, because they are so darn good.

The Hoodie
bill-belichick-wearing-hoodie-470-thumb-470x338-89542He’s a slob. He has the same facial expressions whether they win or lose. He wears a hooded sweatshirt, and sometimes with CUT OFF SLEEVES! You think Marshawn gives “exciting” press conferences? Bill Belichick invented the “exciting” press conference! You think your coach is the greatest? Well Belichick – pains me to say this – is the greatest. I used to hate when they called him a genius, and now I just shake my head in agreement.

Why you ask? Look at last year’s roster and then think about a coach that would’ve won 12 games with that squad. We know it’s hard to be consistently good in this league – except if you’re the New England Patriots. I won’t break it down, but click here and look at the 15 seasons since “The Genius” became coach in 2000. As another leader of another Empire might say, “Impressive, most impressive.”

The Pretty Boy
gisele-bundchen-2-600Tom Brady is making his record sixth Super Bowl. That isn’t easy to do, ask my man crush about that. Tom Brady is handsome. Tom Brady married a Brazilian super model, after knocking up a not-too-shabby actress named Bridget Moynahan. The dude has a moat around his house. He has three Super Bowl rings and is looking to win a record-tying fourth. I know we consider Joe Montana the apple of the Super Bowl quarterback world, but Brady is in his sixth Super Bowl and if, just if, he wins he’ll tie Montana for rings, and outnumber him in appearances. He’s cocky. He’s good. He’s not easily rattled. And if he loses he still goes home to the world’s most popular Victoria Secret model.

Gronk
Not only does he have a nickname that sounds like it comes straight from a Marvel comic book, but he has the body, and attitude, to accompany it.

If you don’t know what Gronk looks like close your eyes … I’ll wait … and picture what you pictured a football player looked like when you were in high school.

Yes. It’s a perfect sketch.

Rob Gronkowski is healthy. He’s also 6-foot-6 and 265-pounds of incredible athletic ability. Earlier this year he tossed a Colts defender “out of the club” because he was mouthing off to him. Yes, straight picked him up and tossed him away from the sideline. This after Gronk caught a pass from the 18-yard line, knocked over four defenders, before leaping into the end zone. Yes, you have big, strong, and athletic defenders, but Gronk is a machine. Have fun with that.

Revis Island
You all have been enamored by your L.O.B. that you might not know about Revis Island. Yes, Richard Sherman is a great cornerback, but if you’re not familiar with Darrelle Revis, you can make sure your Dougie Baldwin, or Jermaine Kearse will soon be making themselves familiar with him. Revis can make an argument as the best cornerback in the game. He may not pick off passes like Sherman, but that’s mostly because passes aren’t coming his way. If I need a cornerback to shut someone out, I’m taking Revis. Sorry bro!

Oh, and it doesn’t stop with Revis. Fans of the Seahawks might remember someone named Brandon Browner. Yes, he’s on the Patriots this year, looking for a repeat Super Bowl title himself. They also have the best linebacker that nobody is talking about in second-year pro Jamie Collins. And then there’s Vince Wilfork, the 6-foot-2, 325 pound defensive tackle who’s much faster than his weight tells us he should be.

Be careful Seahawk fans. Don’t get too overconfident. Not with the Patriots. Belichick has two weeks to figure out your defense and how to contain Russell Wilson. He has two weeks to figure out formations that nobody else has figured out. Formations that leave coaches thinking that maybe the Patriots are cheating. You won’t know what receivers are eligible, whether they will be running the ball, and who will be running the ball. You won’t know what little white receiver will lead them in catches. You won’t know if Brady will toss the ball down field, or use quick little screens to both eat up the clock and eat up the field.

Like your team does to others, they’ll chew you up with third-down conversions, unexpected trick plays, running backs that bulldoze linemen, clutch quarterbacks, shutdown cornerbacks, and the Gronk. They will hurt your head and leave you frustrated and confused.

The Seahawks do things to teams that … well, that the Patriots do, so I won’t be making any predictions or bets.

It should be an entertaining and competitive Super Bowl. These were clearly the two best teams in football, and as a football fan with no real rooting interest, it will be fun to watch.

I’ll just say, don’t get too overconfident, not with this team, not with Belichick, not with Brady, not with Revis and not with the Gronk.

NOTE: Yes I made no mention above about the Colts loss to the Patriots. I wasn’t expecting much, holding out for that “any given Sunday” line. I was happy they made it that far. Give them a decent defense (hello Robert Mathis) or a running back and we’ll be right where these teams are.

Around the family (AKA non-sports stuff going on in our lives) …
Before Lis and I forget about what Lia always prays about before bed, I want to remind us about “…and pray that I don’t have bad dreams, and dreams I don’t want to dream about.” Every night for the last year. She’s awesome. That’s all. … Lukas (and I) lost our 16th straight basketball game. This time a 12-8 defeat in our postseason opener. The kids played their best basketball, and once again Lukas played hard. He continues to be one of the hardest working players on the floor. If only I can get him to control his anxiety. … Erik and Stephanie drove over the mountains just to watch the game with Packer fan Lukas. That was nice of them. I’m going to rat my sister-in-law out and say that with six minutes remaining she was ready to pack the car. … I started my new job today, and though I had a few lines that got some laughs, my favorite, which didn’t generate any laughs, might have been my comparison to us newbies walking across the service floor, and having all the current employees eyeing us like Andy Dufresne entering Shawshank State Penitentiary. The dude next to me said, “As long as they don’t start yelling ‘fish’ I’ll be alright.”

Last Stop?

Last Stop?

I teased in my “Five for ’15: The Year to Chill” that, in reference to building towards the future, “Things are looking promising already, so we’ll consider this a tease until next week’s post titled “Last Stop.””

I’m sure you’re all dying to find out what I was referring to. Am I right? Don’t answer that.

Last week I secured a position with Liberty Mutual Insurance working at their service center a block from my house. Yes, a block from my house. Did I mention “The Year of Chill!”? Well this most certainly helps!

Not only does this save close to $200 on fuel (and wear and tear on our new van), but this position offers me a sizeable pay increase, more benefits (like my two favorites – vision and retirement!) and opportunities to move up in a company.

Unfortunately when you work for a small insurance agency, room for growth is rather rare. You need to hope someone moves on (which they often do), dies (which they often don’t), or hope that their son or daughter doesn’t want to take over the family business (which they often do).

As much as I enjoyed the five months I worked for my current agency, and especially the people I worked alongside, the opportunities were too great, and as I inch closer to 40, I’m thinking more about how I need to start setting aside some money in planning for the future (three kids possibly headed to college; Lis and I being able to enjoy retirement).

Working for a large corporation is just another thing I can check off the “Jobs in the Insurance Industry” list that I’ve done. I’ve done personal lines, commercial lines, life insurance and, most recently, hardcore agriculture. I’ve been an office manager. I’ve had my own little office. I’ve worked for small agencies. I’ve worked for large agencies. Other than the two things I don’t care to do – claims and underwriting – I’ve pretty much done it all. Except taking a shot at the corporate world.

I actually enjoyed my last corporate job, with Eddie Bauer/Spiegel, and I liked it, not only for the friends I made but because I moved up through the company, from call taker, to contact person in the .com department. And then they shipped all of our jobs to Canada. Those darn Canucks!

I’m thankful for the opportunity I received from my current agency.

When we decided to move here last summer I didn’t have a job in mind. In fact, we were going to head over, job or no job. They were the only ones, out of the few that I either interviewed with or applied with, that offered me a position.

The people I’ve worked with are awesome, and I fit right in. However, it was my first drive into work that I realized how close I am to Liberty Mutual, and how I wish I had tried to find a job there. Months later I applied for a personal lines service agent, and was denied for lack of experience. Um … sure.

It’s fine, the hours would be all over the place. Holidays, weekends, nights, overnights. I wasn’t too bummed, like I said, I enjoyed the place and people I worked with.

Then my current position popped up. It was a day job, offered a higher pay, so I applied, and two long months later I was offered the position.

But before I left my old gig, there were some things I had to do first – like pull out a few pranks.

SIDEBAR: I truly believe I have a top-10 wife. Meaning she’s one of the top 10 wives in all of the land. Not only has she done an incredible job of raising our three kids, supporting me through tough times, fighting off cancer, and putting up with my crud, but she’ll also use the roller to crush Alka-Seltzer, so I can replace it with creamer for tomorrow’s coffee run. Oh, and she also makes Jell-O mold so I can put someone’s calculator and favorite pen in the middle of it. Yes, she’s clearly top-10 status, and I’ve learned that when you have that you need to not take that for granted. Oh, and she also thought of the idea to super glue the foam animals that my co-worker likes to throw at me to my co-worker’s desk. Brilliant!

Yes, so I replaced the creamer with Alka-Seltzer, I stuck a calculator and pen in Jell-O (though it didn’t work out well), I super glued a farm animal to a desk, I set the fart machine in the office next to the only other dude’s cubicle, and I changed the keyboards to US-Dvorak so they can’t type properly. How did it go? Ugh!

I was hoping to give a timeline of what happened, but since they (fine, I) sucked I’ll instead explain how each prank played out:

IMAG3179 - CopyJell-O: The calculator gal walked in and immediately tried to put something in the desk that had the not-that-solid mold with her calculator sort of inside of it. “What the …?” was her first question, followed by, “This better still work” and “You’re going to clean this up right?” FAIL! Later I employed her to ask the other Jell-O mold gal for a pen. She was nice enough to play along, unfortunately, when she reached for a pen it was in the wrong drawer, and then another wrong drawer. “Um … how about you try that other top drawer,” she suggested. FAIL!

Fart Machine: Not bad except that an hour into the day it started going off, fart, after fart, after fart, after … you get it. The two that heard it found it hilarious. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to push the button when I wanted.

Keyboard on US-Dvorak: This was probably the winner of the day. The new gal tried to sign in, and seconds later when she couldn’t, was ready to toss the keyboard. She grew frustrated until 15 minutes later another gal used Google to solve the issue and I whispered to myself, “Newman!” Oh, and I guess I never selected US-Dvorak as the default on the other two computers because it never worked. FAIL!

Creamer: Turns out three of the four coffee drinkers drink it black. Translation: We don’t use creamer. The other gal brings her own creamer, and the other gal uses the liquid creamer in the fridge. So who uses the powdered creamer that now rests in a Tupperware container in my drawer? Nobody! So my wife’s time crushing the tablets was a waste?! FAIL! (By the way, tried this with water and AWESOME if you can pull it off!)

Super Glued Farm Animals: The lady that throws them at me wasn’t there today. I think this one will be the best yet. Go figure it’s the one my wife came up with. I can’t wait!

Yes, I’ll miss these ladies and the jokes we played on each other. But I also look forward to the next batch of co-workers I will meet on Monday!

In the last year we’ve blown up a lot of stuff (SEE: Year in Review). Here’s hoping this will be the last KABOOM! Here’s hoping this will be my last stop!