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Wednesday, April 25, 2012 35 comments

You Know You're A Parent When... (#8)


In case you're new... I write an often-monthly post called “You Know You’re A Parent When…”
(You can find the most recent posts here and here.)

YKYA #8 is dedicated to all you writing Moms and Dads :)

You Know You’re A Parent When…

·         No. 1 Son wanders over from his bedroom, “forcing” you and The Missus to switch from the exciting new Blue Bloods, to a much-watched Blue’s Clues.

(During that same night, same Son expresses his desire to finish watching the last “Grey’s Anthony.”)
...Which is when you remember there were many valid reason why you didn’t want a television in the bedroom :)

·         Washing hands in the downstairs bathroom… you rinse, wash and rinse… all the while looking down (and moving) a very soapy, soggy parrot.

Leaving the bathroom, you stop suddenly in the hallway to ask the simple, but obvious question: How did a stuffed Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville parrot end in the sink?

You mull the question while starting a load of laundry; wiping two noses; changing a level IV stinkometer diaper and figure what’s for dinner. (Curry is removed from menu.) However, the answer eludes you – as do the two sons in the back yard.


·         Later that week, as Mama and No. 3 Son (infant) leave for evening Bible study, you promise to hold the fort, and send them off with a wink, and a jolly old I’ll-be-fine wave.

Peace and Quiet.

On both levels of the home.


Why Does He Need fingers To Keep The Truck In One Spot?

You start in on the book, your work-in-progress, (the WIP.)

An hour later, No. 1 Son wanders over (again :) Quick negotiations result in a glass of water (already waiting in the fridge) and a cleared spot on the couch – with the Cars comforter.

All is well.

You return to WIP.

·         Out of nowhere, No. 2 Son closes your sphincter with a huge scream… Rushing upstairs – with a highly dangerous universal remote control in hand – you prepare to assault the ninja intruders…

Entering with the stealth of a blind rhino, No. 2 Son’s room is quiet and he’s re-asleep in his crib – with nary a swish or a sway in the blinds denoting the departure of said ninjas.

As soon as your blood pressure drops below “pounding,” you holster the remote on the coffee table and...

You return to WIP.

·         Fifteen minutes later, a quick review of the troops confirms No. 2 is asleep and No. 1 hasn’t yet fallen off the couch. (Suh-weet!)

All. Is. Well.

Heading to the kitchen for a long-awaited snack, your clod-hopping foot unfortunately punts (“kick” is too small a word) the LARGE fire truck-transformer thing that sat *quietly* on the floor.

All. Night. Long.

In the millisecond before the thing lights up and springs to life with abundant and vibrating glee, you remember stepping over the darn truck – twice – while saying “Ohhh, I should move that (less than five feet over) to the side.”

(Italicized words added to emphasis current level of moronic status.)

The four wheelmen of the toy-pocalypse announce themselves with klaxons blaring: WHOO! WHOO!
Then shouts of: “GET THE ENGINE STARTED!!!”

Another klaxon (in case kids were still sleeping…WHOO WHOO!!)

"I'll Be Back..."

And more dialogue for neighbors who missed the first round… “DRIVER, LET’S GET GOING!!”

Transfixed in the middle of the floor, with evil, evil punting leg still stuck in the air, you cringe and wait for the non-toy screaming to begin.

Kiddos stir, but after two sets of up-and-down-the-stairs to make sure – the truth sets you free: They sleep. Still.

Following an impromptu white-man-can’t-dance to a hummed, instrumental version of “Joy To The World,” the adrenalin dissipates, and the fire-truck thingy is moved to the yard – the far yard.

Of course, the On/Off button is nowhere to be found. Instead, you run CAUTION – DO NOT CROSS tape around, above and under the Red Monster.

You slide the lanai doors closed, wash your hands (removing parrot) and then dry your hands (dropping parrot back in sink.)

You return to WIP.

     ·         …Just as The Missus opens the door and walks into the room.

“Hi, Sweetie, we had a wonderful night. How was your evening watching the two boys?”

Throwing a throw over much of No. 1 Son, you cover the rest of the little lad and nonchalantly say:

       “Oh, you know. Fine. Everything was quiet over here.”

"You'll Never Take Me Alive, Coppers!!"
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 45 comments

A Teenage Victim of Sexual Abuse

Kids get raped.

Kids, get lost.


Who listens to them?

Let me ask you... Have you got five minutes?

Can you spot me just one video (with no audio)?

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I understand that people of all ages are victims of sexual assault.

I can’t speak for everyone.

I can speak out for the kids who’ve been victims of sexual abuse.

One of the kids is now a young – brave – man called David.

Here is David’s story:

The nineteen-year-old tells us – literally – in his own words what’s happened to his life since he was first molested at the age of ten.


Ten-year-old boys are supposed to be climbing trees, playing video games, honing baseball skills and enjoying the last couple of innocence-covered years.
See no hope?

They are not supposed to be molested by two “friends.”

Watch David’s eyes – look into these weary, sad eyes.

Did you see his cracked, broken smile?

That smile is way too old to belong to a teenager…

This. Crap. Needs. To. End.



Why not start today?

Pass David’s story on.

Every parent should watch and learn to look for the warning signs.

Pass it on to the friend you’re worried about, the colleague who’s missed a few days, or the kid at school who doesn’t laugh anymore?

Watch and please share the video.

Tweet it.

Retweet it.

Forward it on Facebook.
Email it.
Share it.


Some of you might dismiss this because you don’t know David, so why should you care?

You know me, at least a little, right?

I don’t know David, but teenage victims of sexual abuse are around us.

Don't miss the signs should someone ever reach out to you.

I know I try not to, because my wife and I have three sons.

What sort of world are we leaving them - and their peers?

Thursday, April 12, 2012 35 comments

EuroDisney Opening Crew 20 Years Ago Today :)


(That's French for "This is not a post - I swear.")

Twenty years ago - today :) - and just outside of Paris, France, I helped open EuroDisney.

YES! The Spazz in the Pink Shirt in Front Row is ME (Photo Credit: Liw A. Letliw.)

Gosh, it was an amazing day (and an *amazing* year)

Here are a couple of pictures - of then and now :)

Derek, ME and Rory prancing..er I mean dancing (Photo Credit: Liw A. Letliw.)

Dude, please tell me you didn't keep these for 20 years??

Me (today) with my Opening Crew Hat & T-shirt...(& yes, that *is* ELMO hiding in the tree :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 18 comments

"Heart Warriors" (A Book Review - & a Birthday Request)


As parents, we love our kids with our whole hearts, but what happens when we're told the newest addition to the family is about to be born with only half a heart?

Amanda Rose Adams and her husband, Jim were given the devastating news that their unborn son, Liam, had a severe case of Congenital Heart Disease, a silent killer that affects more than two million families in the United States.
The young couple had, according to the doctors,  only two options: termination of the five-month-old fetus or hospice care for a child who would probably die before his first birthday.

Amanda and Jim chose instead to fight for life – a quality of life – for Liam, and the family’s immense struggles are shared in the newly released book, Heart Warriors, a Family Faces Congenital Heart Disease.

Written by Amanda, Heart Warriors is an absolute must-read for anyone living with CHD.

But Heart Warriors is also full of hope.
Hope for a little boy with the most amazing blue eyes and a huge, cheeky smile – even though Liam has already suffered through TWELVE heart surgeries – and he is still only eight years old.

As a debut author, Amanda’s passion and love for Liam is so gritty and real that – I’ll be honest – I nearly put the book down within four pages and two reaches (for the Kleenex.)

Those first few pages were tough to read – not because of the writing, which was excellent – but because it was so easy to understand that Liam could have been any of my three sons.
Reading this book also served as a huge reminder: I should never forget how lucky my wife and I are to have healthy, scampering kids – even when the little rug rats chuck the Lucky Charms on the ground for the gazillionth time.
(Trust me; I will never again complain about how long it’s taking No. 1 Son to be seen for his routine checkup at the medical clinic, or moan that No. 2 Son has to take this or that pill.)

Amanda finishes her book with her “Heart Warriors Field Manual.” Stuffed with information on how to find local resources (including volunteer groups), the manual includes a list of supplies for the “battlefield” (i.e. in case of an extended or unplanned trip to the hospital) and even discussion questions for book clubs and “Heartlanders.”

In the short video book trailer, Amanda explains, in part, why she wrote Heart Warriors.

“If this book shows one family that they are not alone, or convinces one nurse how important she really is, or steers one medical student to pediatric cardiology, then it was worth it.”

You can find Heart Warriors via a list of online retailers here.

PS: Here's that birthday request I mentioned in the post title...

Liam turns nine in a couple of weeks (April 28), and with Amanda’s permission, please join me in sending her little Heart Warrior some early birthday greetings :)
Click here to wish young Master Adams a very happy birthday (via Facebook) and THANKS from me – I’m looking up to this kid – even though I’m probably twice his size.


Amanda Rose Adams
Amanda Rose Adams, M.S., PMP, author of Heart Warriors, One Family Faces Congenital Heart Disease, combines her experience as a communicator with her passion to battle CHD.
Amanda is the president of the Colorado Chapter of the Children’s Heart Foundation, is the founder of the nonprofit Hypoplastic Right Hearts, and has organized dozens of charity events, informational campaigns, and planned or participated in multiple medical education conferences for parents across the U.S.A. and has mentored and supported families facing CHD all over the world.

Sunday, April 8, 2012 25 comments

The Easter Egg

The Easter Egg?


I know I'm not posting except for Wednesdays... but this is simply a picture, a greeting and a wish:)

Happy Easter (or Passover.)

And from No. 3 Son and the rest of my family: Only the best wishes for a happy, safe and fun-filled family day to you and yours :)
Wednesday, April 4, 2012 36 comments

In honor of Oma, and her 1974 A-Z Challenge :)


It’s D-Day today.

(If you’re not doing the A-Z Challenge, Wednesday is the fourth day of a fun, twenty-six post challenge based around the alphabet.)

If you are doing A-Z, and you’ve also posted today for Insecure Writers Support Group, more power to your elbows, that’s all I can say.

(Me? I did my early IWSG post here.)

So, in honor of A-Z, I wanted to share the last existing copy of “Mark’s Mixed Irish-Hollands Alphabet."

Written by my beloved grandmother, Oma Brinkerink, this precursor to the A-Z dates back to at least 1974.

I re-discovered this "post" from Oma the other day when unloading some boxes. (Note the cut and paste picture... when you actually had to Cut. And. Paste. :)

(Yes, we’ve been in the house since this past July, but we always try not to unpack toooo quickly…
Like good wine, packed boxes mature with age to where something marked “LIVING ROOM – BOOKS” can mean anything:)

In her day, Oma, who passed away in 2007, was an avid writer who wrote whenever she had any free time while raising four boys.

(Wow, that sounds familiar!!)

"D" *still* cracks me up :)

Oma lived all her life in and around Amsterdam, Holland. She was the one who imprinted on me a love of writing, and she later – God bless her – took me in as a wild nineteen-year-old who wanted to explore the many er, different districts and, er, bright red lights of Amsterdam J

Oma, if you happen to be looking down on me from your rocking chair in Heaven, I hope you’re proud of your eldest grandson.

I’m eternally grateful that you discovered this gift in me and that you read so much to me during my formative years.
Especially books like De Koe Die In Het Vater Viel and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (by some dude called Tolkien…)

And don't you worry, I’ll be reading these books to my three boys.
Oma, dank je wel, en ik hou van jou.
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