A few minutes ago, my neighbor caught me sitting on the porch with bags of frozen yeast rolls shoved under each arm pit.
Yep, that’s right.
One minute, I’m living life.
And the next minute, I might as well be rolling around in the clothes dryer.
Oh yeah. I’ve got ‘em, alright — hot flashes.
And they bring out the worst in me.
Because my body so frequently catches fire, I strip out of my clothes faster than the speed of lightning. I stop, drop and roll on cold linoleum. I have no shame. And I mean it.
Before perimenopause ruined my life, I was the queen of flannel jammies. All winter, my furnace was full throttle. I wore old lady sweaters inside air-conditioned restaurants.
But now? Well you can see your breath inside my house. And since I so frequently disrobe, you can also see my naked, barn door-sized hind-end, whether you want to or not.
Even with friends around, I’m known to say with a sweaty face, “Hold that thought.”
Then I excuse my flaming self and head for the kitchen, where I drop ice cubes down the front of my shirt. If that doesn’t do the trick, I step outside and blast myself in the face with the garden hose before I reappear in front of my guests, dripping and hateful.
“But what does a hot flash feel like?” My son recently asked.
“It feels like 183 blow dryers are aimed at my chest and face,” I snapped. “It feels like being rolled up like a burrito in an electric blanket, then dropped in the middle of an active volcano. It feels like being shoved inside a giant broiler while wearing a parka and itchy wool pants.”
He squirmed in his chair.
“What?” I asked. “You can’t handle the truth?”
“That mean look is on your face again,” he said nervously. “Sometimes you scare me.”
“I feel like a walking torch,” I snapped. “If you were me, you’d be honked off about it, too.”
“I’m not unscathed, you know,” My son said in a shaky voice. “Every time I visit you, I suffer frostbite.”
— Sherri Coner
Award-winning journalist and humor columnist Sherri Coner is the author of six books — all fun and heartfelt with a signature sprinkle of sarcasm. Her stand-up comedy gig is another avenue of entertainment (R-rated since nobody censors that potty mouth). A recent survivor of breast cancer, Coner shares the journey on her blog. Through her posts, you will see the moment when Sherri finally found humor hidden behind a million tears. “Remember, girls, that laughter heals the soul,” she says.
He came into my life at a time when I needed him most and without a second thought I clung to him for many a night. It wasn’t like we had a relationship, the kind where you want to spend every waking moment together. It wasn’t like we would get lost in conversation, uncovering deep-seated feelings that connected us on an emotional level. We didn’t go to dinner. We didn’t catch a movie. We never went out — were never seen in public.
Truth be told, I didn’t give him much thought as I went about my day, but as night would begin to fall I felt a yearning inside me I knew only he could satisfy. As I climbed in bed, I needed him with every fiber of my being. The thing is, I don’t regret a single night with him.
For most, childhood memories of bedtime present images of favorite jammies, soft blankets, a certain bedtime story that could be told time and again before drifting off to sleep.
Bedtime was always a tough time for me as my imagination without fail would choose that specific time to kick itself into overdrive, instilling fears in me so powerful I would hide under the covers ensuring not a toe or a brown curl was unprotected from what lurked in the dark shadows of night. I would stare at the inside of my Strawberry Shortcake blanket, focus on the pattern of my warm breath…inhaling…exhaling…inhaling…exhaling. Once drenched with sweat, gasping for air and believing I would face a fate worse than what existed beyond the safety of my blanket (passing out into permanent darkness), I would peel a tiny corner of the blanket away from me, turn my head, and take in a large breath of fresh air before returning to my former state. At some point I would pass out, not from lack of oxygen or imagination but from sheer exhaustion.
It wasn’t until Louie came into my life that things changed for me.
Prior to Louie, I would choose one or two stuffed animals to join me each night, but with the innocent mind of a young girl I felt guilty each time I chose them. It was bad enough I would have to face all the night’s scariest creations; I was subjecting them to the same rather than leaving them cozied up in the basket with the rest of their friends.
Which is why when my grandmother presented me with Louie the Monkey on my 10th birthday I was relieved — no matter that I was probably well past the age when children cuddled up to a stuffed animal. He was soft and brown, and looked into my eyes with a hint of a smile on his face. He was about the size of those body pillows they sell nowadays, or maybe that’s how it seemed through a scared little girl’s eyes. With Louie, I no longer hid under the covers. Instead, I held on to him for dear life. The fears were there still, but somehow they seemed a little less daunting with Louie by my side. I breathed a little easier and found a bit of peace before drifting off to sleep each night. His presence helped me sleep better through my high school years and even some of my college years.
Some nights, after a particularly rough day, I still yearn for Louie. I miss him. Not in the physical sense, but in the sense of peace he gave me so many years ago. As grown-ups, we take so much to bed with us each night with no surefire way to let those fears, those worries, those feelings just sit on a separate plane while we relax and get the rest we so desperately need. Wouldn’t it be nice to find something that would ease our minds each night?
I still have Louie, though you’ll be relieved to know I no longer sleep with him. He is in a box in the attic which does make me a bit sad now that I think about it, but he served me well. Ironically, he was the first one I thought of when my daughter was younger and had nightmares.
He served her well, too. How was I to know at the age of 10 that my nighttime companion would one day ease my daughter’s fears as well?
— Leah Vidal
Leah Vidal, author of Red Circle Days, is a writer whose work appears weekly at www.littlemisswordy.com. Her writing covers current events, health and wellness, parenting and daily tribulations. She is most at home sharing life’s little moments — those that plant the thought-provoking seed of self discovery. Leah’s blog has been featured and syndicated on BlogHer, Freshly Pressed on WordPress and fitness and parenting sites. Leah paused a career in public relations to raise two children and has never looked back, except on the days when it would be nice to have an office to escape to or at least a desk to hide under. Her family currently lives in Puerto Rico, where she is a fitness-focused (physical, spiritual and mental health) mom of two and wife of one, who enjoys combing the beach for sea glass, avoiding the kitchen and making words come to life.
(Vincent O’Keefe’s piece first appeared in The Huffington Post. Reposted by permission of the author.)
Can we be honest? I know many people adore dogs, but I have mixed feelings. In fact, in 10th grade, I had to present a five-minute speech on a pet peeve for my Public Speaking class. I explained four reasons why I did not care for canines back then:
1. They bark. Near my childhood home, there lived an intimidating German Shepherd named Hook. Whenever anyone walked by his house, he would bark fiercely and barrel out of the garage, only to be snapped back at the last moment by a thick rope. Neighborhood lore included a morning when the rope failed, and the newspaper delivery boy had to climb a rose trellis to escape attack. Some accounts added a “Hook-bite,” but that was never verified.
2. They bite. See Hook story above.
3. They shed. Another neighbor’s dog, Bilbo, was a lovable but shaggy gray blob who left hairs wherever he went, including across my clothes when I would visit.
4. They smell. Sorry Bilbo, but you stunk.
As you might imagine, my audience did not love my speech, especially those students who owned dogs. At the time, my family had an indoor-outdoor cat, but he was as low-maintenance as a fish. So, I was neither a dog-person nor a cat-person, but the slight edge went to cats. Looking back, however, I see that my “public” speech at age 16 was based too much on my private experience.
Fast-forward to stay-at-home fatherhood, and I’m faced with two daughters lobbying hard for a dog. My first mistake was taking them to the local pet store “just to learn about different pets.” Unless you plan on getting a pet, don’t do this. My search was for a low-needs, non-allergenic pet, and we came close to settling on a guinea pig, which I argued was very dog-like. But when I realized they frequently trudge through their own urine and feces, I cancelled that search party.
Then, I researched small dogs, and we inspected a few. During one trip to a pet store, my daughters, my father-in-law, and I squeezed into the little observational cubicle to test the personality of a pug puppy. That adorable pooch behind glass, however, became a pint-sized terror in person! As he nipped at our ankles, my daughters (and possibly me) started screaming and standing on the seats like proverbial 1950s housewives afraid of a mouse. My father-in-law, who had just recovered from heart surgery, tried to calm the puppy, but the dog scratched his forearm and drew blood. From her perch above the scene, my medically savvy 11-year-old surprised me when she started crying “He’s on a blood thinner!”
After a store employee rescued us from the pugnacious pug, we did more research and finally settled on a Yorkie due to its non-allergenic, indoor-trainable and “cat-like” nature.
Now that I’ve spent some time with our semi-beloved Benny, please allow me to revise my 10th grade speech and present four reasons why I sort of like dogs now:
1. They bring out the animal in you. I admit, I love to live vicariously through Benny’s simple, instinctive pleasures: reveling in horseplay, feasting like a pig and sleeping like, well, a dog.
2. They bring out the kid in you. Each time someone enters the house, Benny politely jumps straight up and down alongside them until they agree to get on the floor and play with him.
3. They bring out the parent in you. My wife adores Benny, and my kids now know their mother’s “baby voice,” which she once used with them but now reserves for the dog. She enjoys the chance to be maternal to a “baby” without all the incessant mothering (and fathering) an actual baby demands. On a disturbing note, she has started to claim publicly that her canine “son” looks like Brad Pitt. While Benny does have long hair parted in the middle and a seeming soul patch on his chin, my concern is growing.
4. They put pet peeves in perspective. One of my other pet peeves has always been “morning people” (who I secretly envy). But I admit that due to Benny’s energetic morning greetings, one of my pet peeves has neutralized another. On a larger note, the vision of my daughters proudly carrying their dog around the house redeems all the peevish Hooks and Bilbos of the world. I even allowed them to put an “I Love My Yorkie” sticker on our car, which makes it even harder to be a stay-at-home tough guy.
I don’t remember what grade I got on my presentation back in Public Speaking, but I think about my old pet peeve on certain days with Benny. For example, the uncanny canine got his revenge for that speech the day we leased a new car and shortly thereafter, peed and pooped on the back seats (of absorbent cloth, not easy-to-wipe leather). Then he climbed all over me with wet fecal matter in his Brad Pitt hair.
— Vincent O’Keefe
Vincent O’Keefe is a writer and stay-at-home father with a Ph.D. in American literature. His writing has appeared in The New York Times ”Motherlode” blog, The Huffington Post, The Shriver Report, Brain, Child, The Good Men Project and Role/Reboot, among other venues. He is seeking an agent for a humorous memoir about a decade of at-home parenting. A chapter on colic is currently titled “Take This Onesie and Shove It.” Watch/read/listen to more of his work at www.vincentokeefe.com or follow him on Twitter @VincentAOKeefe.
On my way to get my first cup of coffee one morning I spotted my silver fruit bowl that had long been in need of a good polishing. Grabbing my favorite coffee cup, I stood on my kitchen stool to search for the silver polish in an upper cupboard next to the refrigerator. I sometimes forget things so decided to get the polish out now to remind myself to polish the bowl after coffee.
At the front of the cupboard were the cleaning items I use most everyday, or at least weekly. In the back of the cupboard I noticed a variety of old and nearly empty containers of various cleaning products, some worn out sponges and a partially full bottle of houseplant food, all of which were not visible to me (being only five foot two), until I stood on the stool.
I set my cup down on top of the refrigerator and because I tend to forget things, while I was on the stool I thought I might as well get rid of the items no longer usable. Suddenly I spotted a motionless furry looking thing in the midst of it all. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it was a partially hairless scrub brush before I flew off the stool. On the stool again, having regained my composure, I moved the keepable items over to the top of the refrigerator and wrapped the disintegrating shelf paper around the fuzzy thing and the containers too large for the kitchen trash and headed to the garbage bin on the side of the yard.
On my way there I noticed a few weeds sprouting up and knowing how I forget things, I decided to pull them before they had a chance to multiply. I set the bundle of items from the cupboard down on the patio table and began to yank at the weeds. The phone rang, and I hurried into the house to answer it while still holding the weeds. It was my best friend, and as we were talking I unconsciously began to twist the plant life in my free hand shredding them onto the carpet. We ended our chat and, when I saw what I had done, I got the vacuum cleaner out and cleaned up the green fuzzy pieces. I might as well do the whole room, I decided, since I had the vacuum cleaner in hand.
As I put it back in the broom closet, I noticed the knob on the door was coming loose, so I went to the garage to get a screwdriver out of my toolbox. In my search for the tool I noticed that my car was in need of washing. I was going to a meeting later that morning and didn’t want to be seen in a dirty car.
I got the car keys from the drawer of the umbrella bench in the hall, set the screwdriver down on it and went to back the car into the driveway. I turned the water on, only to find that the hose had several holes in it. Water was squirting in every direction. Turning off the faucet, I unscrewed the hose, and because I sometimes forget things, rolled it up and put it on the workbench to repair at another time. I would go to a carwash before the meeting.
After the meeting I passed a grocery store and remembered that I needed several items for a family potluck on the coming Saturday. As I put the items in the refrigerator I spotted the silver bowl that I was going to polish. The bowl that led me to clean out the cupboard and then to the patio table where I left the trash items to answer the phone while dropping weeds on the carpet, causing me to get out the vacuum cleaner, leading me to search for a screwdriver to tighten the loose knob after vacuuming, and on to discover the holey hose.
I needed to sit down with a cup of coffee, contemplate my day and try to remember some projects I think I started this morning. Now, if I could just remember where I put my favorite coffee cup…
— Lenna C. Wyatt
Lenna C. Wyatt, of Scottsdale, Ariz., has written dozens of short stories, many with O. Henry-style endings. She’s nearly finished with a mystery and continues to work on an archaeological novel about the first 2,000 years of human history.
Now that Madam and I are home from our 10-day caper on a dairy farm, it seemed like a perfect time to debrief about the trip. It was, after all, an uncommon winter adventure — an agrarian version of Will Steger’s dogsled journey to Antarctica. Rather than slip away for a week in Key Largo, we hoofed it across the Wisconsin border to care for eight broodmares and assorted pets…in a sustained blizzard.
“So tell me,” I asked Madam. “How does it feel to be home?”
“Easy,” she replied without hesitation.
“Could you elaborate?” I asked, recalling that our wintery jaunt did not in any way resemble an Odyssey luxury tour.
“Yup,” she said. “I’m finding it easy to remove snow from my sidewalk with a shovel instead of a Bobcat Skidsteer Loader. And it’s easy to sleep with one Jack Russell terrier instead of two. It’s also easy to thaw my frozen garage door with a hair dryer instead of burning out the motor on someone else’s,” she added.
True. I recalled one frozen garage door episode at the farm. It resulted in a power outage and a visit from the local LiftMaster mechanic. But, then Madam is resourceful, though not mechanically savvy. Even the TV croaked the minute she picked up the remote.
“Well, how about the weather?” I probed, recalling sub-zero mornings. “Might you have enjoyed a cozy afternoon of Mahjong with friends instead of battling a stiff wind and a pitchfork?”
“The calves were good company,” she offered. “They bucked and galloped their appreciation every time I drove past in the John Deere gator. The broodmares chatted me up each time I came over the hill,” she added. “And they enjoyed cluttering up their beds the minute I cleaned them.”
Hmm ….Perhaps I should have been helping her with the pitchfork instead of flirting with a filly named Nicca Cat. And my Canasta tournament didn’t fly with the mares either. I made a mental note to call the University Extension about gender-sensitive training for geldings.
“And the sub-zero weather?” I probed. Frankly I expected Madam to say that next year we would be heading to Key Largo instead of dairy country.
“The Carhartt coveralls and earflap hat ensured 10 blissful days sans hair styling,” she chirped. “No make up. No TV nightly nightmare news. No Save the Squirrels phone solicitations. No Facebook flaps or analyzing Google Analytics. Gee, a person could pay a lot for that kind of peace and quiet.
She did make a good point. So, I’ve decided to call Odyssey Travel and suggest they add winter dairy farm touring to their offerings.
— Noah Vail
Noah Vail and Mary Farr have collaborated on a book, Never Say Neigh: An Adventure in Fun, Funny and the Power of You. Noah, author, philosopher, humorist, gin rummy ace and all-around “good news sort of guy” blogs here. Never Say Neigh won an honorable mention in the 2013 Paris Book Festival.
I love being a woman.
The cramps, backaches, headaches, pimples, bloating. The if-you-even-come-near-my-boobs-I-will-knock-you-the-eff-out-because-they’re-killing-me days. Sorry, kids, no hugs from Mommy today. The gas. Then again, with all this gas, maybe you don’t really want a hug. The forgetfulness. The cravings and newly sprouted chin hairs. Oh, look! That’s a really long one! Crying my eyes out because of a sad story or video. Those poor puppies!! Then realizing the tissue box is empty and no one got out a new one or wrote it on the grocery list and now I’m super pissed because Seriously! How hard is it to write it down when you use the last one? and How am I the only one who can ever do that?! and Do you WANT me to go on strike because I will?!! I totally will! You do not want me to go on strike. And it’s back to crying because now I feel bad because I just remembered that the Girl is sick and probably used up all the tissues with her poor, red, little faucet of a nose and she didn’t have the energy to get up and write it on the list … and I’m a terrible mother that I forgot about that and I didn’t even make her soup … and I was yelling at her in my head when she was so sick and I’m an awful person … and I’ll just write it on the list myself and maybe I’ll get her favorite cereal to make it up to her. So, yeah, the run-on mood swings. And, of course, the week-long blood-letting.
Where was I? Oh, yes. I love being a woman.
We also have the annual humiliation and discomfort visit with the gyne. You know how it goes. Conversation and examination. Talk and poke. Chit chat and hit that.
Gyne: “So, how are the kids? Everybody doing well? Can you scooch down the table some more?”
Me: (scooching ‘til I feel like my entire nether region is dangling off the table) “They’re fine. He’ll be in high school next year, so that’s –”
Gyne (interrupting): “Sorry, I need you to move down more. So, high school, huh? That’s a big adjustment.”
Me: (more scooching. seriously??) “Yep. Hard to believe it’s already here. I remember kindergarten so clearly.”
Gyne: “Yes. I know what you mean. Mine are in college. You’re going to feel a little pressure. Deep breath in and blow it out.” Craaaaaannnnnnkk. “Perfect.”
Me: (Groan) “Wow. College. I can’t even wrap my mind around that idea yet.”
And so it goes for what feels like a little bit of forever when in reality, it’s about 10 minutes. It just seems to last so much longer with all the stretching of the cervix and groping of the bewbies. So. Much. Longer. Glad it’s only once a year.
I love being a woman.
If you’re an extra lucky lady, you also get to have a yearly round with the old Smashinator. The Squish-o-rama. The Pancake Maker. The Boobie Press. Good times for the girls!
I love being a woman.
(Those were my confetti cannons celebrating all my lady parts and the joys of womanhood.)
And now let’s finish out this party time with Kool and the Gang because it’s time to ceeeeellllebraaaaaate good times. You know what?! NO! There will be no singing. Not today. Absofrickinlutely no. Just give me the damn quart of Ben and Jerry’s, a spoon, some Ibuprofen, the remote, some tissues and leave me alone to watch the Hallmark channel.
I’ll be back to my usual self again in a few days. And then we get to start the process all over again.
I love being a woman.
— Jennifer Hicks
Jennifer Hicks is a mom, wife, dork and fluent speaker of sarcasm. She has spent some of her adult years as a stay-at-home-mom and others as a high school teacher. She writes about the good, the bad, the ugly and sometimes the very funny as the mother of two teenagers at her blog, Real Life Parenting. She was the Blogger Idol 2013 runner-up, has been featured on Parents Space and Bonbon Break, and is a contributing author in the book The HerStories Project: Women Share the Joy, Pain, and Power of Female Friendship.
Reading with my 5 year-old is kind of like playing password.
The sentence is… “Mac can tag Mag.”
“Okay,” I encourage. “Let’s sound it out. What’s the first letter?”
“M” He shouts with confidence.
“That’s right, and how does M sound?”
“Mmmmmm” He says, making a funny face.
“Great! Now what’s the next letter?”
“Mmmmm” he continues, totally amused with himself and the sound.
“Yes, yes.” I say semi-patiently. “But what’s the next letter?”
“Right again!” My boy grins like he just bought a vowel and got four. But that’s a different game.
“And the last letter?”
“C. Cacacacacaca” He automatically sounds out.
“So we have Mmmm, aaa and cacacaca.”
He listens to me intently and repeats, “Mmmmmmm aaaaa ccccc.”
“That’s right!!” I say, bouncing a little in my seat with excitement. “Now put it together.”
“Mmmmaaaaccccc. Cat!” He says triumphantly.
“Cat?” I ask, incredulous. “Cat? Where the…” But I have to stop myself and regain my mommy composure. “Uh, no. What does cat start with?”
“C!” He says.
“Right! And what’s the first letter here?”
“Right. And how does M go?”
“Mmmm” He says and starts with the silly face.
“Right again.” I say, ignoring the fact that he’s still mmmm-ing. “So let’s sound it out again. Mmmmmm aaaaaa ccccccc.. Say it with me.”
Together we say, “mmmm aaaaa ccccc” pulling it closer and closer together until we get…
“MAT!” He cries with happiness.
My face twists up in agony. “So close!” I say, gritting my teeth, “But the last letter is a C, remember? Not T. So it’s Maaaaaaaa…” I feed him the sounds and stare at him bug-eyed, nodding freakishly. He looks at me and then looks at the word, and then to me and back to the word.
Finally, with uncertainly he says, “Mac?”
“Yes!” I jump up and kiss his face. He smiles warily. I think he’s afraid of me.
I lean back in my chair and puff out in relief like we’ve just finished Homer’s Odyssey. Wow. We worked our way through it and got it!
Oh wait. I come down off my reader’s high, look at the book and sigh. There are still three more words on the page.
Gathering my strength, I return my attention to completing the sentence.
Mac can tag Mag.
“Okay. So we’ve got the first word.” I look at my son expectantly and point to it. He looks at me expectantly, eyes wide.
Please don’t say it. Please don’t say it. My brain whispers.
“Oh my God. Pass!”
— Alisa Schindler
Alisa Schindler is freelance writer who chronicles the sweet and bittersweet of life in the suburbs on her highly entertaining blog www.icescreammama.com. Her essays have been featured on Mamapedia.com and Bonbonbreak.com as well as in the book, Life Well Blogged. She is a member of “Yeah Write,” an online community for writers, where she has won the Jury Prize multiple times in the group’s weekly essay writing contest. She has just completed her first novel that she feels comfortable showing to someone other than her mother.
(Dan Zevin’s piece appeared in The New York Times on Jan. 30, 2014. Reposted by permission of the author.)
A Southwest Airlines jet touched down at the wrong Missouri airport this month, a mix-up that comes two months after a cargo jet landed at the wrong airport in Kansas. How will the industry bounce back from the embarrassing publicity? Herewith, some suggestions for an emergency P.R. campaign.
1. Your Fitness Comes First.
Our award-winning pilots know what sitting on a plane can do to your spinal column, and that’s why we unveiled our heart-healthy Fly n’ Walk© program that not only gets you where you want to go, but also gets you in shape! Here’s how: On select flights, we’ll “go that extra mile” for you by landing the aircraft at an airport several miles away from the one on your boarding pass. After some gentle calisthenics, lace up your sneakers and follow our flight attendants on a brisk fitness walk to your original destination. Not only will you burn calories and work those tough-to-tone glutes, you’ll also receive bonus frequent flier points.
2. Safety. Our Promise to You.
Like fire drills or tests of the emergency broadcasting system, our Passenger Protection Preparation Procedures (PPPPs) include occasional unannounced — but 100 percent planned — landings at neighboring airports, or “safe havens.” Whether you’re flying to southwest Afghanistan, southwest Syria or southwest Missouri, these landings are completely 100 percent planned. It’s just that we make them look unplanned in order to simulate the unlikely event of an actual emergency landing. So relax! Your safety. Our planes. All planned.
3. Pay Less, See More.
How do we keep our fares so low? It’s simple. We have a vast network of partner airports that grant us last-minute deals on rock-bottom runway prices. And the more last-minute, the more savings we pass on to you. It’s all part of our “Pay Less, See More” initiative. More exciting destinations. More sizzling attractions. More surprising airports. After all, isn’t that what travel is truly about?
4. No Hidden Fees or Vendettas. Ever.
We pride ourselves on never engaging in New Jersey “Bridgegate”-style shenanigans. For example, if one of our co-pilots flying to, say, Branson, Mo., had a vendetta against his captain because his captain selected a pilot 10 years his junior for the plum flight to St. Croix that day, you can bet that this co-pilot would never, under any circumstances, have sent the following email to his buddy Mort in air-traffic control: “Time to land the plane at the wrong airport in Missouri!”
— Dan Zevin
Dan Zevin is the 2013 winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor. His latest book, Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad, along with his previous one, The Day I Turned Uncool, have been optioned by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions. He has followed his readers through each phase of life, from post-college coping (Entry-Level Life) to tying the knot (The Nearly-wed Handbook) to developing a disturbing new interest in lawn care and wine tastings (Uncool). And that was all before he had kids.