It Started at 6:05am

01.7.2009 | 12:46 pm

A Note from Fatty: Nominations are now open for the 2009 Bloggies. Ordinarily, I’d gross you out by begging for your nomination for the Sports category, the Most Humorous category, the Best-Kept Secret category, and Best Topical category. And maybe Best Australian / New Zealand blog category, because I really liked the Lord of the Rings movies.

But this year, I think I’ll ask you to nominate some other deserving folks instead. Specifically, I recommend you head over to the (very strange and hard to navigate [Side scrolling? Really?]) Bloggies site and make the following nominations (you’ve got to make at least three nominations or your nomination won’t count):

And after you fill in your nomination form, make sure you scroll all the way to the right edge of the page (?!) and do the following:

  1. Fill in the captcha nonsense.
  2. Check the checkbox saying you’d love to be on the panel that chooses the finalists.
  3. Enter your email address.
  4. Click the Submit button.
  5. Check your email inbox (and your junk mail folder) for the confirmation email.
  6. Click the link in the email to confirm your vote.

Thank you. Thankyouverymuch.

About That Mysterious Post I Wrote Yesterday Morning

Of course, yesterday’s main post was about the properties of ancient Shot Bloks. Earlier in the day, however, I posted a short message saying that I was going to be a little slow with my main post, because my morning had been “pure insanity.”

I did not, however, describe the insanity, nor how it had reached such purity. I was still too close. I hadn’t recovered from the trauma.

Enough time (24 hours or so) has passed now, though, that I think I can talk about it.

All times, except the first one, are approximate.


“Something’s wrong, Elden.” That’s how Susan woke me up. Well, actually she was considerably more specific about what was wrong, but I’ve decided to obscure a couple of facts because of Too Much Information Syndrome concerns.

Suffice it to say that it was a minor emergency that requires a nurse’s help, and that the emergency becomes more and more urgent with every moment. Also, this emergency had happened before — a number of times — so I knew what was going on.

I called the hospice number, which said they’d send out the on-call nurse for the area as soon as possible.

The thing is, the on-call nurse was an hour’s drive away (in Payson, for those of you UT County locals) on a dry-road day…and it had snowed about six inches during the night. It would likely be more like 90 minutes or two hours before the nurse got here.

Meanwhile, I had four kids to get up, ready, and off to school.


I ran downstairs and woke up the oldest boy. Luckily, he’s totally self-reliant in his school prep. He doesn’t need — or want — any help or company first thing in the morning. Having been married to Susan for twenty years, I totally understand (I’m chatty and awake right from the get-go in the morning; Susan is not).

I ran back upstairs. I have twenty minutes before I need to wake the next child. This gives me the time I need to help Susan get some temporary relief while we wait for the nurse to get to our house. This means some lifting, moving, pulling and removing, and then more moving and positioning that I would never have guessed I’d be capable of three months ago.

I get it done in a reasonable amount of time, then leave Susan to herself while I prepare to wake our second boy: the vampire.


I go to the cat’s known hiding places until I find it under my bed. Using a broom, I scare it into the open and pick it up. This may seem like a spurious step, but it is in fact very important. By bringing the cat with me when I wake the vampire, I effectively distract the thirteen-year-old and give him a new target for his early morning grouchiness.

My method is this:

  1. Open the bedroom door.
  2. Throw the cat onto my son’s sleeping form.
  3. Laugh as hilarity and hijinks ensue.

Sure, I could be gentler. But you shouldn’t coddle vampires.

After talking — lightly, carefully — about unimportant things (very important to keep the things unimportant) for a few minutes, I am confident that my son is awake and I head back upstairs to check on Susan.


Susan says that my efforts toward bringing her some temporary relief have failed. She says this apologetically, as if it is somehow her fault. The thing is, though, there’s nothing more I can do for her but move her back onto her bed.

I’m virtually panicked at this point, knowing that Susan is becoming more and more uncomfortable with each passing minute, and it’s now been an hour, and the only technique I had for helping hadn’t helped at all.

It sucks to feel helpless when all you want to do is help.


I have fifteen minutes before the vampire should be upstairs, at which point I usually make his school lunch and talk with him — lightly, carefully — for a few minutes before he heads out the door.

This is a perfect opportunity for me to shovel the driveway, making it possible for the nurse to park at our house, and making it further possible for me to drive to work once all the kids are off to school.

The snow’s deeper than I expected. It takes half an hour instead of fifteen minutes. I do not realize this until I come back inside.

More important than my own lateness, though, is my son’s absence from the kitchen.


I run downstairs and find — to my horror — that the vampire has gone back to sleep.

Something snaps and I punch the door jamb (because even in my fury I know that punching drywall is a bad idea) half a dozen times, yelling at the vampire that today is not a good day to sleep in.

My son has never seen me punch anything before, and hence realizes that he probably ought to get up.

A leisurely riser, he usually takes a full hour to get himself ready for school. Today, he has ten minutes.

Telling him — repeatedly — that there is no way he is going to miss a second of school today because he went back to sleep after I woke him up, I rushed him through the routine and get him out the door.


As my son heads out the door, the nurse — finally! — arrives. Traffic was even worse than she had thought it would be.

Luckily, she does not need my help, which is good, because right as the nurse enters, one of the twins comes downstairs.

It turns out that in a (common for her) burst of creativity after I put her to bed last night, she had gotten out several small hair rubber bands and had given herself around ten very small ponytails.

Leaving the bands in, she had then gone to sleep.

The women among you know what this means. My girl’s hair — which I usually plan on “styling” with just a brush-through and a mist of hairspray in the morning — was not fixable without a shower.

And I do not factor shower time into the morning routine.

Rushing both the twins into the shower, I tell them to wash each other’s hair, get clean and towel off. They had five minutes.

They took ten. But to tell the truth, ten was what I was hoping for.


I get the girls out the door, having gotten them cleaned, dried, dressed, styled, fed, and packed in record time.

I talk with the nurse, who is just finishing up — but with the same kind of equipment that contributed to Susan’s discomfort in the first place.

But that was all she had with her. I shook my head, saying that I’m sure they’d be hearing from us again soon.

I then got Susan comfortable, dressed for the day, and fed. Everything was caught up.

Except me. I hadn’t even begun getting myself ready for work.


I head out the door, calling my coworkers that considering my 40-minute drive (when the roads are good) and the 25 minutes I have until our scheduled meeting, I might be a little tardy.


The roads are better than I expect — no ice, no accidents — and I’m only half an hour late for my first meeting of the day.

All things considered, I’m pretty pleased with that outcome.

So, how was your morning?

PS: At 9pm, the exact same problem happened to Susan again, for the exact same reason. This time, I believe this time we’ve got things properly fixed.


  1. Comment by Isaac Ben-Moshe | 01.7.2009 | 12:56 pm

    You probably don’t remember, with all the people writing in, but I’m a Hospice Chaplain (and cyclist) in Austin, TX. The offer that I made before is still open-if you need to talk or vent in more detail than you can/want to get into on the blog, e-mail me or call. Whatever I can do from this distance. BTW, I plan to join Team Fatty for the Austin Livestrong Challenge. Keep up the good work. Prayers coming to you, Susan and the kids.
    Isaac (, (904)945-8374)

  2. Comment by dug | 01.7.2009 | 12:56 pm

    sounds like a fawlty towers episode. is your hospice nurse named “Manuel?”

  3. Comment by Sprite's Keeper | 01.7.2009 | 1:09 pm

    I believe the word “Oy” applies here perfectly.

  4. Comment by MikeonHisBike | 01.7.2009 | 1:18 pm

    Sounds to me like you’ve developed a new superpower.


  5. Comment by Kt | 01.7.2009 | 1:23 pm


    I have a dog, and he usually gets me up on weekdays, so I can’t even fathom what your normal morning would be like.

    Add in crisis of uncomfortable proportions, and it sounds like something out of a movie.

    You must be the world’s greatest dad/husband. Stop setting the bar so high, eh??

    And, yeah, Oy! totally covers it.

  6. Comment by XCTiger | 01.7.2009 | 1:34 pm

    I have one question. With a morning like this, how are you managing to gain weight? I lost 3 lbs just reading about it.

    Keep hanging in there, we’ll keep praying.

  7. Comment by bikemike | 01.7.2009 | 1:48 pm

    so, you have a new super power, the ability to awaken a vampire in the daytime and not get a bite on the neck. amazing.

    God Bless Susan.

  8. Comment by Jenni Laurita | 01.7.2009 | 1:51 pm

    I’m stressed out and I only had to read it.

  9. Comment by Lerjoy | 01.7.2009 | 1:58 pm

    You made me tired and teary-eyed all at once.

    We’re thinking about you.

  10. Comment by Woody | 01.7.2009 | 2:00 pm

    Definitely another super power.

    I can’t even get myself up and at work in a timely fashion – And I work at home!!

  11. Comment by Annie | 01.7.2009 | 2:13 pm

    Good grief. I’m glad Susan ultimately got some relief. I can’t believe all the things you got done in such a brief amount of time…

  12. Comment by rexinsea | 01.7.2009 | 2:19 pm

    Whew – I’m tired just reading this. Nice work on getting the family out the door and caring for Susan.

  13. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.7.2009 | 2:27 pm

    wow. Blame this on the mimes. It would not help to blame it on the vampires

  14. Comment by ricky | 01.7.2009 | 2:39 pm

    how many shot bloks did you have to take to get all that done? incredible. win susan!

  15. Comment by sharon | 01.7.2009 | 3:50 pm

    you’re a saint

  16. Comment by regina | 01.7.2009 | 3:56 pm

    good job. Well done. it is ok for the kids to see you vent (fist pounding) do not give it a thought. I too have a vampire and on that point you cannot coddle them. Someday, I am told they will be men, my husband assures me of this, and coddling will only be a disservice. plus everything rolls off a vampire, they are like ducks.

  17. Comment by Mark W | 01.7.2009 | 3:57 pm

    Elden: you are incredible and what you have achieved is 10 times our morning routine for 2 kids.
    Please be patient with the kids. Put them responsible for their own routine. They do get it over time.
    Thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Mark from slushy Vancouver BC

  18. Comment by KanyonKris | 01.7.2009 | 4:15 pm

    I need a nap after reading that.

  19. Comment by judi | 01.7.2009 | 5:00 pm

    eldon – you are an amazing human being. hang tough….

  20. Comment by Jeff&Jenn | 01.7.2009 | 5:33 pm

    Elden –

    You are amazing. I can’t believe that you did all of that in such a short amount of time. I am in awe of you. I would be glad to come and sort out any hair emergencies anytime.

    Thinking of you all,

  21. Comment by Bluenoser | 01.7.2009 | 5:59 pm




  22. Comment by carolyn | 01.7.2009 | 6:03 pm


  23. Comment by Charisa | 01.7.2009 | 6:07 pm

    Oh my. I will never complain about my busy morning again, EVER! And can you not just send the twin to school w/ pigtails? It might become the new trend? :)

  24. Comment by john | 01.7.2009 | 6:52 pm

    Hmm. I may try that cat technique on my two vampires. Fortunately we have two cats.

    Thanks for the idea Elden.

  25. Comment by snobound | 01.7.2009 | 6:54 pm

    Holy smokes – what a morning!

  26. Comment by Marla | 01.7.2009 | 7:24 pm

    Definitely a Fawlty Towers episode!

  27. Comment by Nina in Ohio | 01.7.2009 | 8:17 pm


    Those hills and canyons that you find so challenging on a bike should seem like a breeze compared to some mornings …true?

  28. Comment by Dobovedo | 01.7.2009 | 8:20 pm

    Kudos for not saying “I told you so” to the nurse the second time.

    Or did you?

  29. Comment by Don | 01.7.2009 | 8:38 pm

    Sounds like totally insanity! I know what you mean by the trying to help but not being able to… STINKS! *I censored that a bit… It brought me back to my father, he would cry when we had to ‘take care of him’ in his near death state and say things like he felt bad that he was putting us out.
    Hospice, by the way, is God sent, I swear!

  30. Comment by Kathleen | 01.7.2009 | 9:12 pm

    You are problem-solver extraordinaire! Throwing the cat in with the kid. Very clever. Having the twins wash each other’s hair. Brilliant. Way to handle an exceedingly challenging morning!

    Love the shot block experiments too! It IS fun to burn things.

  31. Comment by bobbieh | 01.7.2009 | 9:18 pm

    My heart and thoughts are with you all ~ you ARE an amazing human ~
    Hugs ~

  32. Comment by oilcanracer | 01.7.2009 | 9:31 pm

    your my new morning hero!!!!

  33. Comment by sassy | 01.7.2009 | 10:52 pm

    You are a marvel. I so admire your tenacity and spirit and then being able to lighten our days with your tales.
    Loved the shockblock experiments too.
    Prayers continue to be with Susan and all of you.

  34. Comment by jwbikes | 01.8.2009 | 7:33 am

    A true HERO is one who does the seemingly impossible on a regular basis with no fanfare or self congratulation. You, sir, are a true HERO to your family and an inspiration to those of us who think our days are tough.

    WIN Susan
    GO Fatty

  35. Comment by Hospice RN too | 01.8.2009 | 8:51 am

    WOW–you are amazing! I am a hospice nurse in NC–my husband is a cyclist and reads your blog. I have to say, I have learned so much from my patients and their families–and a lot of times, you are right and we deserve an “I TOLD YOU SO!” It is amazing how you all cope despite all you are being put through–just when we think, “how much more can this family handle?”, God throws something else their way and you all amazingly get through it! Keep up the good work and hang in there! If I could help from here with creative techniques for comfort, etc, please let me know. You and your family are in our prayers.

  36. Comment by Jodi | 01.8.2009 | 10:15 am

    You rock and your family rocks, even the vampire rocks in his own way. That poor cat even rocks though I can imagine that the cat wishes to not be used as yours and the vampires toy and you know what i’m talking about.

    Still, well done on another morning. Might I suggest shaving the girls hair? That may save around 10 minutes in the morning and I believe it may build character.

    Thanks for the bloggie shout-out. That would be awesome.

  37. Comment by Joni | 01.8.2009 | 10:24 am

    Any of us with a teenage boy totally understands the whole “waking up before noon thing”. Our 14 year old used to be the first one up in the morning. 6 am would have been a late start for him. Course this was when he was 3 to 11. What happens after that?? Cant even count the number of times we have full on conversations with our son (like you….all non important) just to “be sure” he is really awake. I swear….I barely leave the room and I hear him snoring again. Some may think…….get him an alarm clock and let him get himself up…….ahhhhhh….how then do you get him to not sleep thru the alarm? That is what our vamprie does :) We have a friend that has a deal with her kids….you can ride the bus for free….OR you can miss it….and pay me to take you there. She is not cheap either! You obviously would not have a second to bring them yourself and we applaud all you do for your family. I can only imagine how it pains Susan to not be doing all that herself….and am sure it is such a blessing and comfort for her to know that everyone’s needs are being met and her girls are not going to school with 10 pig tails ratted in their hair…..been there too! You all remain in our prayers. Win Susan!!

  38. Comment by sk8ermom3 | 01.8.2009 | 11:50 am

    As the mom of a 13 AND 11 yr old boy, and a 7 yr old girl, and two dogs, our morning is much the same except for the medical concerns and I’m exhausted by the time all the kids are out the door! Elden you are a saint, but even saints need down time. Please be sure to take care of yourself. Our prayers are with you.

  39. Comment by bubbaseadog | 01.8.2009 | 7:58 pm

    nice job elden kudos to the cat,you have to put this story in your susan

  40. Comment by Gotte | 01.9.2009 | 1:14 pm

    Just a note to say there’s a guy here in a dark rainy Manchester, UK thinking about you and yours. Keep it up, fella, keep it up.

  41. Comment by Mark | 01.9.2009 | 6:31 pm

    You win at mornings! Sorting the entire family like that and getting to work yourself as well!

  42. Comment by Jennifer | 01.9.2009 | 10:04 pm

    I know that particular technical difficulty from hospice with my dad. (if it’s the one I’m thinking of, and it sure sounds like it!) Not much to add, but ask hospice for whatever pearls of wisdom they have and keep on going!

    (BTW, our 15 year old vampire suddenly learned a new skill set when he discovered girls… early rising for extra grooming time! I’m sure yours will learn to rise earlier if he understands the need.)

  43. Comment by Penny | 01.12.2009 | 4:40 pm

    You are a far better parent than I’ve ever been! My kids would dress themselves in mismatched socks and other odd color combinations. When school staff would look oddly at me/them, my response, “Isn’t it great he/she dressed themselves.” Bwahahaha

    Nothing has to be perfect. So long as there’s some love and some laughter, you can get through anything.

  44. Comment by inadvertentfarmer | 01.29.2009 | 4:49 pm

    Ughhh the whole teenager in the morning thing gives me the shivers. Next to potty training I think it annoyed me the most!

  45. Pingback by *Ahem* F You. « Pistols and Popcorn | 02.6.2009 | 1:05 pm

    [...] from Jodi:  Please visit my brother’s post today to get some ideas about nominees for the Bloggies this year.  I point you there for no [...]


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