I’m laying on the couch last night flipping between the Texans-Cowboys preseason game and a show about John Dillinger on The Military Channel. Mom is upstairs resting her eyes listening to a book on tape. Girls are downstairs watching a movie.

Kinsey comes bounding up the stairs, rounds the arm of the couch and plops down next to me and cuddles up.

“Hey Dad, watcha doing? Is this football? Awesome!”

Ah, yes, among the sweetest words a daughter can say to her Dad. Though I did quickly point out that team with stars on its helmets is bad. They represent all that is wrong the world. At least in the NFC. While that mantle has been passed from Raiders of the 70’s to the Patriots of the ‘00’s in the AFC. But that’s a lesson for another day.

Regardless, it’s cool that Kinsey and I are watching football.

“Hey Dad, some kids at school say bad words.”

“Yeah, I know Kinsey. But you don’t repeat them.”

“There are some fifth graders that say b-u-t-t.”

We don’t let the girls say “butt.” Or “shut-up” or “fart” or some other generally accepted words. If an adult says them, it’s no big deal. But if you hear a kid say it, well, it’s different. So we’ve listed them on the “Do Not Say” list.

“Dad, we say ‘bottom’ or ‘behind.’”

“Right Kinsey.”

“Sometimes I say bahookie. Or buttocks, cause that’s the real word for bottom.”

“That’s true Kinsey.”

“Dad, what part is the tocks? Is it the bouncy part right here?”

Yup, I’m still laughing about that.

Published in: on August 23, 2008 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Back to School Surgery

This week Riley and Kinsey went back to school. Rye to 3rd and Kinz to 1st. They were very excited. Mom had laser eye surgery on Thursday. So instead of three kids to take care of, I have four. Although you have to give Mom credit, she’s following doctor’s orders to a “T” and even did some laundry today while I was at work.

I like going back to school. Even when I was little I didn’t really mind it too much. Except for 9th grade. We moved and that’s a tough time to be the new kid. Anyway, Kinz gets back from her first day and says, “Dad, 1st grade is awesome! We had two recesses. And I have a new friend. Her name is Jordan. She sits right next to me. I asked her if she wanted to be friends and she said YES!”

Don’t you love how kids make friends? There’s no real vetting process. They get to school look at who sits near them and ask if they want to be friends. The vetting process consists of them making sure the other kid doesn’t smell like a foot, eat paste or steal their skittles at lunch. After that, it’s all good. You know since Obama is considering Joe Freaking Biden for his running mate, he might want to start thinking about using the 1st grader vetting process. It can’t be any worse than his.

I ask Riley how her day went and she tells me, “Dad, my teacher is really nice.” Her tone entirely suggesting that she expected the opposite. Did you ever assume your teacher would be mean? I don’t really remember doing that. It might be because on two occasions, I didn’t have to assume. My fifth grade teacher was a nun. And she was a bad mamma jamma. But she was fair. My seventh grade teacher just didn’t like me. I can’t recall because 1982 was a long time ago but I don’t think I had fully developed my sarcastic smart-alec skills so it’s possible I may have just been really annoying as a 12 year old instead amusing in small doses as a 38 year old.

Anyway, by Sunday night we should be back to normal. Mom will be able to keep her eyes open for extended periods and the kids will be ready to their first full week of school. And the Cyclones open Thursday night. Mmm…college football…

Published in: on August 22, 2008 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

We’re Back

Well, we’re back. Got back on Sunday. I’m still tired. I need a vacation from our vacation. 16 people of all sizes are a lot of people for two condos. I think what we really need is a third condo that is simply a large square room with padding on the walls and synthetic turf on the floor. A few jungle gyms and inflatable jumpy things in there and we’re all set. We need something to fatigue the girls at strategic points throughout the vacation. For example, after the Ozarlympics they were all charged up. Then we had a little birthday party for a 3 year old niece. And we fed them cake and ice cream. Yeah, I know, it’s our own fault and it’s hard to feel sorry for us. Kinda like every character Ben Stiller plays.

Anyway, in regards to the Family Olympics. The kids loved them. I did not. Weather was actually very nice and being wrapped in toilet paper wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. Unless that paper contained carcinogens or DDT, then I’m in trouble. I inhaled. I think Grandma went out and bought that macho-wipe stuff they used to put in the dorms. There were actual visible woodchips in it.

Kids competed in sack races. Kinsey bested her older cousin. Which caused a spontaneous outburst from me because at this point in the competition, we were still a team. And Kinz put us back into the lead. But soon after the whole structure just deteriorated into what I assume platform meetings at the Democratic National Convention must be like. Lots of screaming, rough usually ignored boundaries and complete lack of regard for the score. Cause we’re all winners.

Seriously, at the end Grandma and Grandpa had lost complete control of the scoring system and declared everyone winners. My response? “That’s crap.”

Made it through the rest of the vacation without incident however. Trip home was even uneventful. But once we got here it was like the Oklahoma land rush as scattered to different rooms. Even Mom and I camped out in different rooms. Space is your friend after vacation.

Only thing I’ve had to deal with upon returning home is the three story mega-plex complete with a convenience storel, tattoo shop and car wash some wasps built just under the lip of the railing on our deck. Wasn’t there when we left. Which makes these fellas squatters. ‘Round these parts, we don’t much care for squatters.

So I found some Hornet and Wasp spray and went to work. Laid out my plan of attack. Tested the distance and accuracy of the spray. Then let her rip.

Wasps are kind of scary looking when they lift off in unison, they’re big and with those legs dragging behind, they sorta look like those search and viper probe droids that the empire deployed to the ice planet Hoth in Empire Strikes Back. But instead of laser weapons they have a venomous stinger that they can used repeatedly. Probably feels the same as getting hit by a droid fired laser.

Anyway, I should have realized something but I didn’t. At least not at the time. But wasps have nature and instinct on their side when it comes hunting skills when they are up against me. I have technology and hopefully intellect on my side. I kind of felt like the British or French in the New World fighting against the Indians. Sure I can just whip out the musket and blow them away but by the time I find them, it’s probably too late.

Have you ever watched wasps when you try and Pearl Harbor them? They spread out, move into the sun so you can’t see them coming, and dive on you like Mitsubishi A6M Zeros. So the key really is to hit them in the evening when they’re kicking back, having a few nectar beeras and are all worn out and then hit them with your first shot. You can’t hit, run and hit again. If you do that you’ll end up like the Japanese in 1941 celebrating what you think is a great victory when in reality all you did was sink some obsolete battleships, miss the aircraft carriers and tick off the greatest industrial and power of the 20th century.

I chose a poor angle for my first shot. Should have spent some more time watching Mark Whalberg in Shooter. Anyway, my first salvo scrapped off 2 or 3 of them, knocking them into a spider web below the nest. But the shot couldn’t penetrate the nest. Result?


So I’m hiding behind the sliding glass door watching the wasps. They are stunned. Must have been the sheer audacity of my attack. Like General Doolittle in 1942. Actually I think they were just covered with the spray and couldn’t fly. So I landed a couple sniper snots.

Checked again this morning and four of them are still hanging around the nest. Not on the nest but next to it. Problem is I’m out of spray. So tomorrow I’m off to Lowe’s to load up. Those dirty wasps picked the wrong neighborhood…

Published in: on August 13, 2008 at 12:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Accidental Overload

Thursday was a full day. It really wasn’t supposed to be but that’s how it turned out. Despite our deliberate lack of planning and premeditated aggression towards anything programmed into our day as “intentional fun,” today turned into one of those vacation days where you’d like to lay the smack down on everyone in a 6 foot radius.

Grandma catches a lot of crap about over scheduling us on vacation. So this year she’s tried really hard not to do that. But asking Grandma not to plan and instead just relax is like asking General Custer to just lay low, wait for reinforcements and just avoid any sort of headlong charges.

So she sarcastically was referring to Thursday as “Grandpa’s Day” because nothing was planned except for a trip on the boats out to lunch. I don’t think she was upset about the lunch trip, I think she was upset that she didn’t have anything to do with the planning of the trip.

Anyway, lunch was good. Captain Ron\'s is a cool place. Takes a little long to get there, about 30 minutes in the boat but its worth it. They’ve remodeled the whole place since last year and they have good food and a beach where the kids can play. Plus t-shirts that say “Prepare to be boarded or surrender your booty.”

So by the time we made it back from lunch we’ve spent a lot of time in the sun on the boat, watching the girls play on the beach. Plus the girls went tubing in the morning. So, if you’re keeping a tally, the girls have exerted a good deal of energy through mid-afternoon. All which of course means we’ve unwittingly begun meltdown preparations and are well into the countdown to final meltdown ignition.

Plus it’s our night to make dinner. Each couple has to cook at least one night. Except for Mom’s younger sister and her husband. They have a two month old so their dinner was a trip to Applebee’s. So we have to drag our rear ends out to the grocery store. But only after Grandma peppered me with questions about when we were planning to eat, when we were planning to go the store, when we were planning to engage the action items on our dinner preparation checklist, and finally, when we were planning on going to Miner Mike’s and for how long.

Yeah, I know, I thought I was going to just unload on her like the AC-130 did on that Scorpion decepticon in Transformers. But I didn’t. I was so tired all I could muster were several “I don’t know’s” and a few “I’m really tired’s.”

By the way Miner Mike\'s is like a crack house for kids.

Anyway dinner was easy. Pesto pasta. Surprisingly the girls devoured it. Except for the vegetables. And we continued to blindly approach the failsafe on the Meltdown Countdown Clock. We had lots of clues with the needless, aimless, useless picking of fights with each other.

But we’re on vacation, which means our normal methods of dealing with such behavior don’t apply. Normally we’d just cancel whatever else we had planned for the evening, send the kids to bed early and let them recharge for the next day. Not so in the Ozarks. As evidenced by the inquisition Grandma put me through earlier, she really wanted to take the girls to Miner Mike’s. Plus we’d already told them we were going so there’s really no going back after that. You don’t just turn it off, as John Rambo would put it.

So to recap, the girls have had a long day. Their parents have had a long day. Everyone is tired. We’re feeling what is referred to in the seismology community as an earthquake swarm. Lots of minor quakes but none of which can be identified as the main quake. But you can feel it. Lurking. Waiting. Taunting you.

Bailey was first. But they were short. Burned themselves out quickly. Like Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign. Kinsey was next but it didn’t really reach very high on the intensity scale. In fact, she showed all the signs of de-escalation. It was weird. Anyway, Riley loves Miner Mike’s. She would have stayed all night. No seismic activity detected in her sector.

We get back in the car and it’s after 9 p.m. That’s pretty late for the girls to be out. But we got through the whole experience with only microquakes and some fake teeth, fun dip and plastic stretchy bracelets as our booty from the prize counter.

“When we get back to the condo, its bed time for girls. No arguments, jammies on, and lights out.”

“But Dad its vacation. Every night is ‘stay up late’ night,” says Riley.

“Yeah it’s a party,” adds Kinsey.

And they’re saying this in their new Minnesota/Scandinavian accents their aunt taught them.

Don’t find it annoying at all.

Once in the condo, the girls fell asleep so fast it blew your hair back. They threw up some protests but they were weak. Like the Bengals run defense.

Tomorrow is the family Olympics day. We gave Grandma so much crap about the toilet paper wrap that she moved the events from the state park to the lake house of some good friends of theirs. Still dreading it however. Report back later.

Published in: on August 8, 2008 at 9:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Poison Ivy and Conference Calls

So the family picture thing didn’t go as badly as I expected. We completed our individual family pics without incident as did the families of Mom’s sisters. Even Grandma and Grandpa got a couple nice ones in there.

Aside from Grandma telling Riley “not so fake” in reference to her smile during our pics, it was really a smooth process. We were in the shade with a slight breeze so even though it was already in the high 80’s, it wasn’t too sweaty out there.

Things were going pretty until Grandma announced that she wanted a pic with all eight grandkids and then a pic with just the grandkids lined up in chronological order. That’s hard enough to do when you decide to take that picture first let alone when you decide to take that picture last. This is when the kids are getting annoyed with each other and they’re getting fascinated with throwing rocks in the lake and your surrounded by poison ivy.

Seriously. Poison Freaking Ivy.

All up the tree providing most of the shade and all around the ground in which we’ve been standing. Including me. And as the memories of the summer of ’85 in Pittsford, NY quickly flooded my brain, I became exceedingly aware of how my skin doesn’t react so well to poison ivy. And when I say not so well I don’t mean like John Schneider’s and Tom Wopat’s acting in “The Dukes of Hazzard,” I mean like how the Hindenburg reacts to New Jersey radio towers.

The picture of all the grandkids by themselves disintegrates faster than Pickett’s Charge into the Union center on July 3, 1863. It even had the smoke and confusion and I can’t say for sure, but I think I heard artillery fire too. If that photographer managed to get one picture of all the kids looking at the camera and smiling, she deserves the Nobel Prize for Perfect Timing.

Anyway, we quickly got back to the condo washed everybody’s feet, ankles and hands. As of this morning we don’t have complaints of itching or rashes.

We also hit the outlet mall yesterday. But the girls only lasted about 24 minutes before they started melting down. I made the mistake of going into the Skechers store first. Why was this a bad decision? I have four females with me. Bailey left the store in tears stomping her feet because we wouldn’t buy her any shoes. It just got worse after that. Luckily, for me anyway, Mom had a conference call so she took all three girls back to the condo while I continued to walk around. Got some cool stuff including a new Steelers Hat and an old school St. Louis Browns hat with “1944” stitched on the back.

Work has a way of finding you no matter where you are and in the Geoffrey Beane store I received two text messages and two phone calls in about 90 seconds. The ladies working there said, “I hope one of those is from your wife.” Unfortunately three of the contacts were from my boss and one was from my mother-in-law. Which they thought was pretty funny. Turns out I had a conference call too. But I found a shady bench it wasn’t too bad.

Mom came back after her call and picked me up. I was there for 5 hours. On the blacktop of the parking lot it was 113 degrees. But I didn’t have to watch the girls for nearly the entire 5 hours and Mom only made me go into a few women’s stores. So it was good day. Although we did go back into Geoffrey Beane and upon entrance, the ladies both gave me a “Hey welcome back buddy. I hope this is your wife.”

Mom shot me a quick look. “You friends with the store clerks?”

“I’m a friendly guy.”

Published in: on August 6, 2008 at 10:12 am  Leave a Comment  


We arrived in the Ozarks about 3 p.m. yesterday. Eight adults including Mom’s folks and her sisters and their husbands. Eight kids including two 3rd graders, a 1st grader, a kindergartener, an almost 5 year-old, a 3 and a-half year-old, a three year old and newborn baby boy.

It sounds crazy but its not. We do this every year. 2008 is our 10th year in a row. Plus when we stopped at the Eighteen Wheeler Restaurant in Edina, MO and I grabbed a two six-packs of Miller Chill and bag of ice for our cooler. So I’m all set.

It was over 100 degrees when we got here. It’s about the same today. Unfortunately our Monday itinerary called for us to visit some friends who also happened to be down here this week at a place called Frankie and Louie’s. Great pizza and there’s a little beach where the kids can play. And get really dirty.

We ate outside.

You know after an hour or so you just accept the reality of situation. The sweaty, stinky, whiny reality. It actually wasn’t so bad.

Until we got on the boat for the ride back to the condos. We had our three girls along with their three cousins. Six little girls jockeying for position in the open bow of the boat. Normally something like would be slightly amusing and provide good fodder for this blog.

Not today.

Once we settled the disagreement using the same iron fist tactics so often deployed by Stalin’s secret police, we rode home. Literally, the second the boat slows down in the no wake zone, the girls start at each other. And it’s about 100 degrees without the boat generated wind. My brother-in-law and I “Miami-Viced” it as Mom put it on the way home to stay cool. Plus we looked awesome.

I had to carry Bailey off the dock, up the stairs, through the pool area and up another set of stairs into the condo. Did I mention it is hot? It is. We banished the girls to their room upon entrance to the condo. Which induced the normal whiny response.

While we’re all relaxing in the quiet air conditioned paradise of our condo, Grandma informs us of the Family Olympics that will be taking place on Friday. The 08-08-08 Ozarlympics. Sound fun to you? It doesn’t to me. Did I mention that Grandma has decided to conduct the events in the nearby state park.

It’s 100 degree out in case you forgot.

To make the teams even Grandma wants us to give Riley away to one Mom’s sisters. My reaction was both quick and decisive.

“That’s crap. You want us to give away our best competitor in the name of fairness? Hmmm…let me see…uh NO. If we have to trade Riley, we’re going to need to see a little something. A player of equal of value. Or maybe a package of an aging veteran like Ken Griffey, Jr. and cash considerations. Cause we’re not paying that salary by ourselves.” No idea what the White Sox were thinking there or what Grandma is thinking here.

Plus she told one of my brothers-in-law about the events last night. He’s had at least 18 hours to plan and prepare. How the hell am I supposed to train the girls for the events if we’ve had no time to guide, to teach, to coach?

Anyway, there is going to be at least six events. One is the frozen t-shirt unwrap and display. The kids have to unwrap a frozen t-shirt and then put it on. First one to get it done wins. Can you imagine the crying that’s going to take place as some of these girls put on a hard, frozen t-shirt. Although the heat will probably help with the defrost procedure and turn it into the slushy t-shirt unwrap and display.

Another event is the wet clothes in the bucket event. The girls have to take clothes out of a bucket of water and put them on over their swimsuits. That will actually be fun and probably go well. Kids always like to get wet.

Lastly is the Marshmallow Event. Originally the Mummy Wrap. But mummies scare Kinsey so Grandma had to rename it. In this event, each of the Dads get wrapped in toilet paper from head to toe by their kids and wives. First one completely wrapped wins.

And it’s 100 degrees outside.

Yeah, I’m not kidding. My mother-in-law wants me to stand still in 100 degree heat while my family wraps me in toilet paper. Oh yeah, that’s going to be great. Maybe it’ll rain too. Needless to say, I’m not excited about this. You ever accidentally drop a new roll of toilet paper in the bowl as you’re changing the roll and then try and actually unroll that wet roll? Yeah, that’s what it’s going to be like peeling that crap off me when they’re done.

And I’m not allowed to cuss at all during this whole ordeal. We’ll see how that goes.

Tomorrow we’re getting a family portrait done. At the state park. It’s going to be 95 degrees tomorrow. I’m looking at it as a scouting trip for the toilet paper wrap.

Published in: on August 4, 2008 at 5:26 pm  Leave a Comment