Father Figures: Perfect

“6 years ago in March, my wife gave birth to our first baby, a perfect little girl we named Annabel. I remember as soon as I saw her under the warming lights, I put my finger in and she grabbed it with a little tiny baby death grip. Best day of my life at that point.

Few days later, my wife was convinced something wasn’t right. Our baby’s oxygen levels were going down, and her lips would turn blue when she ate, which wasn’t often. My wife demanded they run some tests, which they finally agreed to, even over my objections that she was overreacting.

We had to to go home, leaving our little girl in the NICU, but we were convinced everything would be fine and we’d take her home the next day. The staff laughed as we left, saying to enjoy our last full night of sleep.

The next day, we were told they did some tests and found she had a serious heart defect. Had they not found it, chances were good at some point in very early childhood, she would have gone to sleep and never woke up. Talk about heartbreaking.

We were told she needed to have open heart surgery, pretty quick. So, we got scheduled for about a week later. They set us up in a little hospital room, close to the NICU so we could stay there.

The nurses were amazing, one namely: Natalie. Answered every question we had, and couldn’t have been sweeter in the process, making sure we understood everything. She spent many a long night with us, reassuring us that everything would be just fine. There was risk, and we were told we should have her baptized in the hospital before surgery.

Open heart surgery went great. Divine inspiration touched, and just so happened the hospital we were at had the best cardiac surgeon for newborns, not just in the country, but likely in the world. For him, surgery was just another day in the office, obviously not the case for us. Still blows my mind.

6 years and several checkups later she couldn’t be healthier. Typical little girl, energetic, goofy, loves to play, and fortunately got her mother’s good looks. She’s got me wrapped around her little finger, no question about it. We thank god everyday for people like Dr. Illbawi, and our nurse, Natalie, who stood by our side through everything, and saved our little girl’s life.

4 years later, we had another little baby girl, we named her Natalie.

Both kids are perfect, no health issues at all, and I learned to never take a day for granted. I’ve been a cop for the past 11 years, she thinks I’m a superhero. Little girl has no idea it’s just the opposite.

All she has to remind her is a little scar on her chest, which I joke and say no guy will ever see anyway, barring a *Bad Boys 2* type introduction to me, and a few of my closest work friends.”

– Bryan Harl

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

You Can Own an Inflatable ‘Christmas Vacation’ Station Wagon, Roots and All

Inflatable Griswold Station Wagon
(Amazon)

It’s hard not to appreciate the heart and passion of Clark Griswold when it comes to the holidays. The man wants to do Christmas and, dammit, he wants to do it right.

And what better exemplifies that fact than his methodology for getting the perfect Christmas tree – a tree that’s the “thymbol of the thpirit of the Grithwold family Chrithmath”?

In lieu of a saw, Clark famously rips the whole Douglas fir out of the ground—roots and all—in order to bring it home.

The sight of a Ford LTD Country Squire with an unearthed Christmas tree strapped to the roof isn’t a sight many forget, which is why just about everyone will recognize it inflated on your front lawn.

(Amazon)

For a measly $222.97 on Amazon (and free shipping!), the iconic Griswold station wagon can be yours.

Okay, yes… that’s quite a price tag for a vehicle that you can’t actually drive, but it has festive LED lights and can self-inflate and deflate in seconds. Can your car do that?

It’s a ridiculous 8-feet-wide and, while not exactly life-sized, your neighbors will probably still hate you for it (especially if they happen to be named Todd and/or Margo).

So, if you’re ready to plant this big, green monstrosity where everyone can see it, pick one up here. Just make sure to check the breakers before you plug it in.

You’re also going to want to check out this decorative Griswold home, because “Merry Christmas, Shitter Was Full!”

Father Figures: Life Was Complete

“The day we got married we started trying to have a baby.

After a year of trying with no luck we went to a reproductive specialist in Atlanta. We found out my wife has PCOS (polycystic overian syndrome) which can cause reproductive issues in women, among many other things it does to their body. The doctor started her on chemical medicines trying to offset the PCOS.

For two years, we went through this cycle of timing ovulation and her taking shots of female hormones. We had two biochemical pregnancies that naturally terminated before development. Heart-crushing to say the least. After losing my mind because I wanted a baby so bad and leaving her for a month, followed by the doctor looking us in the eyes and telling us we would never get pregnant naturally, we decided to end all reproductive medicines and ovulation timing. We just started living life and having fun.

Then, almost exactly a year to the day after stopping the chemically induced medicines, we found out she was pregnant. It was a high-risk pregnancy due to the huge fibroid tumors in her uterus caused by the PCOS.

At birth, one of the tumors was the same size as our 6-pound daughter.

Our daughter came into the world via emergency c-section, kicking and screaming. We were bursting with emotion. Five months after her birth, my wife had another c-section to remove the huge fibroid tumors. A few months after that we got the green light to try and have another kid.

It took a solid year, but she got pregnant again. This time there were no tumors in the way, pulling nutrition and blood from the fetus, so we ended up with a 9-pound baby boy. Our life was complete.

Our take away from this whole experience is: ‘When man says no, God says yes.'”

– Chad Beaver

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Toddler Adorably Sings And Dances With Dad

Golfer’s Heartwarming Response When a Fan with Down Syndrome Ruins Putt

Brandon Matthews Putt Ruined
(Instagram/brandonmatthewsgolf)

Brandon Matthews is a professional golfer and was recently competing in a smaller tour to earn a spot in The Open Championship. During a pivotal putt, he heard a fan scream and it was enough to cause him to miss.

Making noise is a major faux pas in golf and Matthews looked visibly upset that someone had affected one of the biggest moments of his personal career. After the round, a tournament official told Matthews the fan was a gentleman with Down syndrome who couldn’t control his emotions in the moment.

“Take me to him,” Matthews told the official. According to a statement he gave The Golf Channel, all of his anger in the moment melted, and he wanted to make sure the fan didn’t feel bad in any way.

Matthews said he had a soft spot for people with disabilities, as his mother managed group homes for the disabled and that his best friend’s sister has Down syndrome.

Matthews met the fan and gave him a signed glove and a hug.

“Those are really special people. I just felt so terrible that I was even upset,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure he didn’t feel bad.”

Matthews missed out on the big career moment, but his story has touched sports fans around the world. As ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt said, it invokes the adage of “adversity doesn’t make character, it reveals it”, and this moment showed Matthews is a professional athlete worth watching.

“Some things are bigger than golf,” Matthews said, “and this was one of them.”

Two-Year-Old Takes First Steps After Major Brain Surgery

2-year-old takes first steps after brain surgery
(Facebook/Heather Figueroa)

Learning your child has a serious condition can be one of the most devastating pieces of news any parent can receive. So when Heather Figueroa learned her son had Craniosynostosis, a birth defect impacting one out of every 2,000 live births, she immediately turned her attention to getting him help.

However, unlike other defects, Craniosynostosis can sometimes be very subtle. Changes in the shape of the head may become noticeable and is typically the first and only symptom. It wasn’t until Branson was 18-months-old that his mother noticed something that “felt a little different” while giving him a routine haircut. Her suspicions were confirmed by the family’s doctor, but initially, specialists told her that surgery wouldn’t be necessary.

Despite the diagnosis, Heather was still concerned. Surgery to repair the defect was invasive, but the window was shrinking as it must be done while the child is still young in order to work properly. Eventually, their journey led them to the University of Vermont Medical Center, where doctors confirmed her suspicions and recommended the reparative procedure.

After a nearly seven hour-long medical marathon, Branson’s surgery was deemed a success. Just two days after having the major cranial operation, the brave little trooper was alert and active. The nurses decided to get him up and out of bed. His mother, shocked by his progress, grabbed her phone and recorded video of Branson’s first post-surgery steps.

You can hear Heather choking up in the video, later sharing with Good Morning America she was “bawling with joy”.

Branson was released and has been recovering at home. His mother sharing that the “change in these short 4 weeks we have seen in him seriously are extraordinary.” While having their child home safe is obviously the most gratifying part of the entire ordeal, Heather said she was also floored by the outpouring if support and comments on the video-sharing in a Facebook update “Never did I think sharing such a special moment would travel around the whole world and have people reach out and be touched and moved like we are.”

She ended the update with gratitude and a call for more positivity and kindness in general. “We need more of this in our world. More positivity and good”. 

In a world of divisiveness and divide, finally something we can all agree on!

PBR Is Selling 99-Packs Just In Time for Thanksgiving

Pabst 99 Cans
(Instagram/betacollective)

Ah, the holidays. That magical time of year when you give thanks, celebrate, and try to ignore your drunk uncle Toby between helpings of mashed potatoes.

Things are tense right now. The country is divided, opinions can’t be reconciled, arguments ensue. Is Joker a good movie? Shouldn’t Mason Rudolph be suspended too? Ok Boomer.

Mingling with family members both nuclear and extended can be fraught with tension. Thankfully, an old friend is here to save the day.

Beer! Specifically, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. And don’t worry, they’ve got enough for everyone.

Just in time for your trip over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house, PBR has released a 99-pack of beer. That’s right. 99 bottles cans of beer to help you power through dinner and pass out before the Thursday night NFL game.

Take a look at this thing:

It will run you $175, require at least 3 people and 2 refrigerators to carry and store, and contains three kinds of PBR: Original, Easy, and Extra. (To be perfectly honest, I had no idea there was more than one kind of PBR, but with 99 cans, a little variety is fine with me.)

For now, it’s only available in the following states: Texas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Florida, New York, South Carolina, Montana, Virginia, California, Wisconsin, Iowa, Arkansas, and Colorado. It may expand, but until it does, maybe taking a little detour on the way to the in-laws would be a good idea? For some reinforcements. Just a thought.

Teen With Autism Surprised With Visit From Polar Express Conductor

Teen with autism receives special visit
(Facebook/ Angie Swartout)

Autism can make things very difficult for those on the spectrum, as well as their family and friends. Public events and activities can present unique challenges that often require unique solutions. Thankfully, there are good people all around us who go the extra mile to ensure all people have the opportunity to enjoy life to their fullest. 

So when 18-year-old Ty Swartout was recently unable to attend a special event, staffers and volunteers came together in an incredible way to make his dream become a reality.

A huge fan of “The Polar Express”, Ty makes a point to watch the movie monthly and has read the book literally hundreds of times over. So when Ty’s grandparents found out that the Polar Express rolls down the tracks just four hours away from his home, the couple planned a visit for the family.

While the trip to get to The Grand Canyon Hotel’s Polar Express went as planned, upon arrival, Ty was simply too overwhelmed to actually board the infamous train he has loved for so many years. After overcoming two prior meltdowns, Ty and his family were unable to enjoy the ride. But that didn’t stop the train staff from refusing to leave without him. After his parents insisted they continue on, the train departed. “The staff of the Grand Canyon Railway tried so hard to help,” Ty’s mother Angie wrote in a Facebook post.

“They even held the train. Finally, I had to say let’s go back to the room. Angie admitting the initial disappointment was devastating. “I cried all the way back. My heart was shattered,” she says. “I wanted this so badly for my son.”

However, upon arriving back at the hotel, the family had a knock on their door. It was a hotel staffer popping by to check in on Ty. The hotel assisted the family in rebooking their visit with free special needs accommodations. But that was only the beginning, as moments later, another visitor came knocking. While angie and Ty were curled up reading the book, the real-life conductor from the train entered in full attire. “He sat next to Ty’s bed and chatted with him. Ty was star struck. He was so excited and happy. Then the conductor gave Ty his pocket watch! They said that they wanted everyone to experience something special and magical.”

“They succeeded,” she continued. “We may not have gotten to ride a train but we got something even more magical… We got the gift of human kindness!”

With the holidays just around the corner, this serves as a simple reminder of how a small gesture can truly have a massive impact on not only those involved directly but to anyone who encounters the act as well. 

No, a Joker Sequel Isn’t Happening Yet, But Let’s Be Serious

No Joker Sequel, Yet
(Warner Bros)

It probably isn’t going to surprise you, but remember that Joker movie that came out like two weeks ago and broke all sorts of box office records, toppling the two Deadpool movies to become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time?

Well, guess what? It’s probably getting a sequel.

Shocking, I know. Usually, when something makes money, Hollywood gives it a round of applause and goes back to the drawing board to create original content, right? I kid, I kid. Everyone knew as soon as Joker made a mint on opening weekend that Hollywood was not only going to be making 50 different, increasingly bad versions of it over the next 5 years but that despite the director’s initial hesitations, there would be a sequel.

I’m not casting aspersions here. I enjoyed Joker just fine – though there’s absolutely zero chance we’d be having this discussion if it were a movie called “Arthur Fleck” or “Taxi Driver, Only Not” and had nothing to do with Batman. Besides if someone wanted to pay me millions of dollars to write a sequel to one of my The Dad articles, I’d sell out in about 3 seconds, especially if it was this one (DM me!).

Anyway, according to the Hollywood Reporter, director Todd Phillips (Hangover 3) and writer Scott Silver are in talks to bring the further adventures of Arthur Fleck to the big screen, though Deadline refutes it:

At this point there are no deals for a sequel, nor even any negotiations with director Todd Phillips or his co-writer Scott Silver to craft one.

Whatever.

Everyone knows this is going to happen, but what will it look like? Will Batman show up? Will it somehow tie into Matt Reeves’ The Batman? Who knows? But after a collection of hits and misses (mostly misses) with their DC comics characters, Warner Bros. has to at least be thinking about tying Fleck into the larger DCEU, right?

I personally prefer the idea of different directors taking one-off shots at various characters from the stable, without being beholden to continuity or uniting via one singular tone. You can’t out-Marvel Marvel! I say stick with the weird non-comic book movie comic book movie thing Phillips did with Joker. The Hollywood Reporter article even said that Phillips inititally pitched a series of origin stories for DC characters, but that has also been refuted. I say forget origin stories, just do standalone stories!

Can David Fincher direct a Zodiac-type movie in which Clark Kent investigates Lex Luthor’s ties to the corrupt government? Maybe Adrian Lyne can do something with Wonder Woman’s love life or Cronenberg can do a body-horror thing with Hawkman?

I’m just spit-balling here.

Walter-White-Wanna-Be Chemistry Professors Get Reaction From Police

Real Life Walter White
(AMC / Inside Edition)

Most of the time, when we worry about television being a bad influence, it’s about our kids repeating swear words, or taking up smoking. Adults should be old enough and mature enough to know the difference between fact and fiction, and to avoid emulating some of the behavior they see on TV.

Emphasis on “should be,” because there are a couple of guys in Arkansas who definitely didn’t get the memo. At least they have good taste?

Two college chemistry professors were busted by cops for following in the footsteps of one Walter White, the chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin in Breaking Bad. Bradley Allen Rowland, 40, and Terry Bateman, 45, both associate professors of chemistry at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, were arrested last week for manufacturing methamphetamine. One of them even was even known as “Henderson’s Heisenberg,” thanks to a mention in the college paper, in which he said he appreciated Breaking Bad for helping kids get interested in chemistry.

Not everything is the same, though. For one, they’re college professors, not high school. For another, they didn’t cook in an RV. No, these geniuses used a science lab AT THE COLLEGE WHERE THEY WORK.

That’s how they got caught, obviously. Someone reported an overwhelming odor emanating from the science lab on October 9th, when it was supposed to be closed. An environmental services company were the ones who knocked, presumably, when they came to campus to ventilate and clean the lab, shutting it down for nearly a month. Tests came back that the odor was caused by Benzyl chloride, which is one of the ingredients in meth.

Apparently it didn’t take the school long to figure it out as the two men were put on administrative leave on the 11th and are now awaiting their court appearances.

These guys may have taken inspiration from the show, but they clearly aren’t as smart as Bryan Cranston’s evil mastermind. I mean, they cooked where they worked. They might not even be as smart as Jesse!