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Waterlogged Wedding Night January 9, 2018 keith

The events leading up to our wedding, the ceremony, and even the reception went as well as can be expected. We were married on November 21, 1981, at 2PM. Afterwards, we had a small reception with only a few of our closest friends and family. We aren’t much for big parties anyway. The festivities were over with plenty of time to make the drive to our rental house before it got too late in the evening. .

In late November the weather was getting cool enough for winter coats. We pulled into the driveway just after the evening sun had set. We had only been gone a couple days for the wedding, and preparations leading up to it. Neither of us thought about how cold it had become. It wasn’t icy or anything, but we didn’t know how well the house was insulated. Actually, how well it wasn’t insulated.

We debated whether we should do the traditional thing of carrying the bride over the threshold. Robin had already been living in the place for a month, but this would be our first time in the house together. Sure, why not?

Let me play out the events that unfolded in slow motion.

We stood on the porch, and I unlocked the door, and opened it. I lifted my bride into my arms. Being careful not to bump a head on the door post, or drop her, I stepped through the door, trying to decide whether to show off, and carry her all the way to the bed room, or just stand her on her feet in the living room, my decision was made for me pretty quickly.

“Put me down! Put me down!” she cried out.

My first thought was that Robin figured she was too heavy for me to carry around very far. As her feet hit the ground running, heading straight for what I thought was the bed room, happy thoughts sprang to mind as I reached behind me to close the front door.

Then I realized it wasn’t our bedroom that was her goal. Robin ran past it, and to the back door.

“Don’t you hear that?” she called over her shoulder, reaching the door in the kitchen that led down stairs to a landing. From there you could exit to the back yard, or turn to continue to the basement.

I didn’t hear anything out of the ordinary. Not until I took a few steps. It was the sound of rushing water. By the time I got to the back door, Robin had already shouted the news. A pipe had frozen and burst.

How bad could it be? How long had the pipe been pouring water into the basement?

Fortunately we had both been in the house enough, we knew exactly where the shut off valve was located. It was just at the bottom of the steps, in the overhead joists. Even on the bottom step, not standing on the basement floor, the water was 3 feet deep.

I got the water turned off, and it was time to assess the damage. Neither of us had enough household goods to store in the basement. The biggest thing that concerned Robin was the deep freeze. In the darkened basement, I could see it floating on our indoor lake.

With the flood, the pilot lights to the furnace, and hot water heaters were out. How were we going to get this pumped out? If it weren’t for the need for heat, we could consider just letting it drain slowly through floor drains, if there were any, or if it would drain at all.

Fortunately, our neighbor was our landlady’s son. He had an industrial strength sump pump, and told us that he’d get the water pumped out for us, and to go out to eat somewhere. By the time we got back, he would have it all done. Being early enough, we went to a local steak house for our first dinner together. With the thought of a basement full of water, it wasn’t particularly romantic. We just talked, wondering how to deal with the watery mess at home.

Things didn’t go entirely well once we got home. The water was gone, but the furnace and water heater were too water logged to get working. Fortunately we did think to pack some of our wedding gifts in the car. An electric blanket, and a crock pot being the most handy.

Once the damage was repaired as much as possible, we spent the next couple weeks keeping warm together under that electric blanket, with quilts piled high on top. You aren’t supposed to do that, but we were careful to keep an eye on the settings.

The crock pot came in handy as a miniature hot water heater. It was kept in the bathroom, on the countertop, to use for washing up at the sink. For the kitchen, water could be more easily heated on the stove to use for washing dishes.

Within the month, probably about a week or so later, the heat was restored. We only lived there for the following month, maybe to the end of January, but due to other changes in jobs and schooling, it wasn’t going to be somewhere to stay for long.

With all the water that was piped in for the flood, we worked out an arrangement with the water company, and the landlady to whittle the expense down, and get it paid off before we moved.

Through the years, especially if we’ve just moved to a place, when our anniversary rolls around, we joke that we ought to knock a hole in a water pipe, so we can snuggle under the covers, without heat or hot water. Just for a little while, but certainly not to fill the basement, or actually put out any pilot lights.

Baby Names – Nathan Part 4of4 December 30, 2017 keith

Baby names, the finale. Read the previous articles in the series for the full account of how our kids got their names.

After having three kids, all boys, I had reached my limit on how many children I thought would be appropriate for our little family. Not to mention, I had just left active duty in the military, and was trying to carve out my niche in the civilian world with boys ranging in age from 2, 4, and 5 years old. I joined the National Guard, to keep my foot in the door of the military, and as it turned out, to provide an occasional boost to my income over the next few years. Without a regular job, and no health insurance just yet, the thought of another baby was out of the question.

While I waited for a slot in the next training school for my new, Air Force National Guard military occupation, I managed to make a little money as an ice cream truck driver. Trust me, the pay sucks, the hours are long, but it is still my most favorite job ever. You’re a rock star with all the Kidds, everybody knows the ice cream man, and kids come running out of the woodwork at the sound of the ice cream bell. The celebrity status is only secondary to Santa Claus, and you never have to hide behind a red suit or beard. Of course, outside your truck, you have the anonymity of Clark Kent, and your secret identity means your private life is all your own. But I digress from my saga of baby names.

So, amid being grossly underpaid, and with few prospects, and waiting for a year long school to come my way to interrupt any job I might find anyway, Robin started showing the telltale signs of a woman with child. She vehemently denied it, but went to see her doctor, and the news was confirmed. Fast forward a little, and I get my orders to report to begin my training. We calculate the number of months before child #4 is to arrive, and it falls smack dab in the middle of my school term. How cool is that? The family can move to the base, since I’ll be activated, and be on base for so long. We get full benefits to the base facilities, including the hospital. Though the kid in later years might like to claim he was an accident, we have to point out that an accident is what happens when parents aren’t married when the unexpected event happens. He was a surprise. Not only that, but a surprise who happened to have the impeccable timing to be born at the most convenient time, regarding to employment and benefits.

His entire situation was nothing short of a gift… hence his name… Nathan. Continuing our bible themed names, we tried out a few possibilities, and thought Daniel gave a nice addition, and nice ring to his name. After my nicknaming of the previous kids, Robin insisted, “You are not going to give this kid a stupid nickname like all the others.” What? Me? Why mother, I don’t know what you’re talking about! None of my beloved children have anything but well thought out names, and nicknames. There’s nothing stupid about them.

Out loud I said, “That’s fine. This one is all yours to give a nickname as you see fit. I just don’t feel inspired to extend a prophetic name to him, as I’ve done in the past.”

Right up to the day he was born, I remained clueless on any kind of nickname for him. Within hours of being born, I was in the hospital room, mom was cradling the newborn, and a nurse entered to take some routine statistics or other. I have to admit, she was an attractive young nurse… and apparently Nathan thought so too. The instant she crossed the threshold of the room, he looked up at her, tracked her movement across the room to glance at the charts, move to the bedside to make note of some new vital statistic to record, and leave. The whole time, he never took his eyes off her. I still wasn’t inspired to come up with a nickname for the kid, but somehow I knew the moment was prophetic. It was.

The kid had a knack for wrapping womenfolk around his little finger as he grew up. Little old church ladies would offer him candy because he was just so cute. Despite Robin warning them off. Somehow he would come home with the forbidden goodies in his pockets, and a cheesy grin on his face in rendering the power of mom useless.

Robin somehow came up with the name, Nater Tater. Which morphed into variations. Nate Tate. Tater Tot, TT, or just T, or Mr T. (No relation, or resemblance to the star of the well known TV series, the A-Team… I pity the foo’ who thinks so!)

I tried my hand at it with a tough sounding name. Nate the Snake. It just didn’t fit. Skunk Face? Hey, the skunk in Bambi is a cute little critter… but no, it didn’t fit either. Besides, by the time I thought of it, he was old enough to toddle around, and gave me one of those classic, little kid eye rolls, with an exasperated, “dad. Don’t call me that.” I didn’t do it anymore.

I know this isn’t a long article, but there isn’t much else to tell in the naming story of Nathan. Combined with the full story of “The Brothers” as they collectively became known, the whole saga is a bit too long for one article to handle, but if you haven’t already done so… go back and read the other articles for the complete story.

Baby Names – David Part 3of4 December 29, 2017 keith

Yet another chapter in the saga of choosing baby names. To get caught up to speed, read the previous articles on baby names.

With 2 sons, I was content to stop;, and just raise my little family. There’s 14 months between the two boys. But after 2 years or so from the birth of son #2, another birth was in store for us. By this time I was on my second enlistment with the Marines, and stationed overseas in Panama. Given the exotic location, and hooping for a girl this time, we planned on the arrival of little Dominique Noel.

Instead, we found out we were to be blessed by another little boy. Turning to the pages of the Bible, because by this time we thought that would be our theme for baby names. David was a name we both liked, and there wasn’t any family members with the name, other than a cousin who lived in a different state than our home of record. Little did we know that Robin’s sister was about to marry a David, and others would creep into the family over time, as would other Michaels, and Christophers.

For a middle name, we landed on Isaac. I don’t remember the reasoning behind it, but whether it was a foretelling of his personality or not, we liked the idea of what it meant. Davidmeans beloved, and Isaac means man who laughs. It turned out to be prophetic, even if he may disagree.

During Robin’s pregnancy for the first two sons, her belly swelled up, nice, and round, and smooth. Babies are naturally active, and prone to kick, and move around, but generally mommy’s tummy doesn’t show many outward signs of the activity . Not so with kid #3.

The little bundle of joy was very active from early on. Kicks could not just be felt if you put a hand on the belly, but if too much pressure was applied, and it didn’t take a lot, a hard return kick could make your hand jump. Just think of what that means for mom. As the little guy grew, and room inside got less, the kid would push, and stretch. Sometimes you almost expected to see a little face outlined on the outside of mom’s tummy… or the image of a butt crack looking at you. Little, misshapen lumps frequently appeared, and the kid would suddenly shift to one side or the other. Robin already walks with a slight limp and waddle, due to back and hip trouble. When large with child, the waddle is increased as a natural result from the growing bulge in front. Add to that even further, a kid who insists on clinging to one side, poking her belly out noticeably further on that side than the other.

With all the prenatal gymnastics, and constantly rearranged lumps on mom’s belly, I told Robin, “I know you don’t like my choices for nicknames, but it’s a good thing this kid is a boy. Otherwise it would be weird to call a girl Lumpy.”

“You can’t call him that,” she protested. “that’s not a nice name.”

“What’s wrong with it?” I asked.

“I don’t want any child of mine named Spud.” She said.

“Spud?” I confirmed. “Sure thing, I promise I won’t call him Spud.”

Months pass with me intermittently referring to the kid as Lumpy, and my bride saying I can’t call him Spud. The day came and son #3 was born. I was surprised that his little baby muscles were pretty well defined, and buff. But what else did you expect from a kid who just spent most of the past nine months using mom’s insides for his personal gym?

“That does it,” I said, “this kid is definitely going to be called…” Robin cut me off, “You are not going to name him Spud, or Potato Head, or anything like that.”

I couldn’t help laughing. “I never said anything about Potato Head, but that’s funny. Fine, on his birth certificate, he’ll be named David Isaac, but to me he’s going to be Lumpy Spud Potato Head.”

“No,” Robin protested. “You promised me you wouldn’t name him Spud…”

“I never had plans on calling him Spud, and I never said anything about Potato Head… until now.” I said. “That part was all your doing.”

I think that Robin thought a name like Lumpy was kind of frumpy, or maybe belonged to the kind of a kid who was chubby, and built like a sack of potatoes. I get that, but Lumpy describes who the kid was while inside her tummy, and his little, lumpy muscles when he was born. Spud, and Potato Head was just a couple of unfortunate add ons. I don’t know where Robin got them, but it really was her who kept bringing those names up… not me.

Ever since that day, the kid has been any thing but frumpy or chubby. He was the fastest runner in his grade school classes. He has always been buff and thin.

But that’s the story of how we came to have a kid named Lumpy Spud Potato Head David Isaac. By far the kid with the biggest name ever in the family, and the smallest of his brothers once they reached adulthood. Mike is a little shorter, but lets just say, a bit more robust.

Baby Names – Michael Part 2of4 December 28, 2017 keith

Another installment in the saga of how our kids got their names.

I wrote earlier how our #1 son got his name, nickname, and even an alternate nickname that followed him through his childhood years. When our second child was on the way, the ordeal began again. Not sure whether he would be a boy or girl, his name could have been Amber Ashley, but as it turned out, he didn’t qualify for a name like that, and besides, my sister found out about the name and staked her claim on it for her second daughter, only she reversed it to Ashley Amber.

We settled on Michael pretty quickly, but couldn’t come up with a middle name. Should we name him after a grandparent? Come up with something that complimented his name? With such a common name as Michael, maybe we should tag him with a middle name that was unique, but not the kind that’s going to start any playground fights, should he want to go by it instead.

When son #1 was born, Robin already made it plain she didn’t want a Keith Jr running around. I honestly can’t remember any of the Alternatives we choose for Michael’s middle name, but it would definitely not be either Keith, or Eric.

As the time for the due date rolled around, i was facing a change of duty stations, and the race was on. My travel date was set. My date to report in was set. The thing that wasn’t set in stone was the date the baby was to be born.

Would he arrive before the movers came to pack our household goods for shipments? No.

Would he come before my leave was up, and shorten our stay in the base Hospitality House? No.

Time was running out fast.

I calculated the travel agenda to get me to my next duty station. I needed to drive #1 son to stay with grandparents, then make a return drive to the East coast where the car would be shipped from Charleston, SC. From there, I would hop a flight from the local air base.

Still no kid. I had to go, and so Robin moved off base to stay with friends and wait for the baby to decide to emerge.

It turned out the kid arrived about the time my flight was to lift off. I wouldn’t find this out for another 3 days. For the next few months, all I saw or heard from the kid was those initial baby pictures, and his little baby cries in the background, when making long distance calls. From all Indications, he looked like a Butch. A name I knew Robin was adverse to, but I knew it was going to be his nickname. Besides, Robin gave him his middle name, even though I thought we had decided against using my name. Michael’s middle name was Keith.

Robin told me she had second thoughts, and figured she’d give him my name after all. “What? No Keith Jr?” I probably asked. I suppose it would have been too much to ask. Plus we’d have two sons with the same middle name. We had already settled on the name Michael, so I guess that was enough to ask.

Time marched on and little Moose and Butch were filled with animosity towards each other from the beginning. Well, not so much from Mike to Chris, he was good with life, his big brother, and rising to the challenge to do more than kids his age were supposed to be able to do. Butch was a good nickname, even if Robin still wasn’t keen on it.

I think Moose was a little resentful that he wasn’t an only child any more. For the story on Moose, refer to the earlier article: Baby Names – Christopher Part 1of4.

But wait, there’s more in the way of nicknames. Just as with Chris, Michael ended up with an extra nickname.

It was dinner time. The kids were playing in the sand box in the park behind our base housing. I called out, “Chris! Mike! Time to eat!” Nothing. I tried again, “Moose! Butch! Come inside, its time to eat!” Nothing. Remembering my other nickname for Chris, I tried again, “Hey you!” Mike looked up. “Don’t you know your names? Your brother’s name is Hey You… you’re ‘No the Other One’ now both of you get in here.”

Thus was born the name and nick names of #2 son. Michael Keith, or Butch, or No the Other One.

Baby Names – Christopher Part 1of4 December 28, 2017 keith

Note: Before I get started, I want to say that I wrote a series of articles quite some time ago about how we named our kids, but after doing an online search of the site, I couldn’t find it. What follows, and following articles, is a rough recreation of that original series.

One of the benefits, probably the single best benefit of being a parent is naming rights. The name you give that little bundle of joy that you’ve just created with your spouse will stick with them forever. It’s going to be how they are known for life, so choose wisely.

Names have meanings, and you want that child to have the perfect name. A unique name, setting them apart from other kids. A name that’s descriptive of their personality. A name that everyone will be proud of carrying, and referring to for posterity.

The trouble is that almost every kid, at some time or other, reaches a point where they hate their name, even if it’s a cool, well thought out name. “Why did you name me that?” They may ask with a disgusted eye roll. Maybe it’s a common name like John, or Bob, or Bill, a name that a lot of kids are named. Maybe the reason was so they could blend into the crowd. Maybe the name is a rare find, unearthed from the deepest, darkest bowels of a baby naming book. But a kid named Wolfgang, or Griselda might end up in a lot of playground fights. The same could be said for family names like, Throckmorton or Lucretia.

With our own kids, I kind of wanted to have a son named after me, but Robin didn’t like the idea of a Keith Jr. She wanted each child to have a name that was theirs alone. Eventually, we settled on sharing my middle name when sone #1 was born. We thought a name from the Bible would do, but somehow Mephibosheth didn’t set well. We wanted one that might project the kind of person we wanted him to be, a good Christian adult who would carry on the good ethic of Christ like living. A bearer of Christ, which is what Christopher means. The only person in the family with that name, or one like it was a female cousin. That being the case, we figured that we could keep them separated when talking about Chris in conversation. We figured with some of the trendy names of the time, there might not be too many boys in his grade with the same name, so Christopher Eric got his name.

Once he was born, or maybe it was during the last months of pregnancy, we were watching a movie where the tough guy in the story was named Butch. I commented to Robin, “that’s pretty convenient that movies give characters names to suit them in the story. A tough guy named Butch, or a mild mannered guy named Wallace, or something. How did their parents know how their little 6 pound bundle would turn out 10 years later?”

” Her response, “You are not going to name our son Butch!”

“OK, I promise I won’t name him Butch.” But I thought it might make a good nickname…”

Robin’s mental telepathy kicked in, and continued, “And you’re not going to even nickname our son Butch!” How did she do that? How did she know what I was thinking.

I agreed, and Chris got another big,, manly, nickname… Moose. Robin was resistant at first, but eventually caved in. I just hoped the name didn’t prove out to be an ironic one. I could fore see a scrawny little kid in a middle school gym class with the monicker Moose. A far cry from the star of the sporting fields. Fast forward to the future, and Chris may not have ever been a sports star, but he’s a pretty tall guy.

There was a slight problem with this kid though. Chris didn’t seem to want to respond to his name, or nickname wall the time. Granted, some of that had to do with the need for tubes in his ears for proper drainage, and fighting off ear infections.

One day, he was playing with a house plant. Robin was in the kitchen, and warned me to keep an eye on the baby. “Don’t let him play with the plant. She said.

Just then I looked up to see little fingers reach for the plant. “Chris!” I admonished. “Get your hands off that!” What does a 1 year old know about not playing in the dirt… but he ignored me, being focused on the inviting flower pot. I tried again “Chris!” I called to him, but he didn’t even look up from his mission. I tried again, this time switching to his nickname, “Moose! Stop; it!” Still no indication he heard me. Finally I called out, “Hey! You!” He stopped in his tracks, looked up at me, and grinned. Chris had a new nickname.

Most of the time, our Kidds were known, and called by their given names, but even today they still get called by their nicknames. Usually in fun, and in memory of those early days. For Chris, he has revealed in not only being known as Moose, but the Wild Moose.

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