Hiring Molly Maids to come to the house once a month was supposed to make things simpler for us. With three little girls and two working parents, we didn’t really care what the cost was to have somebody else come in and clean the bathrooms and dust the house. And by the way, there are very few things I like less than dusting. I’ll let that stuff build up until its crusty. At least until we bought a Swiffer duster. With that purchase, dusting has elevated itself from near the bottom of the “cleaning activities I like the least” list up to somewhere between dirty diapers and vomit on clothes. Imagine your kid has just eaten peas and drank a glass of milk. Now imagine the peas and milk decide to break out of cellblock stomach.

Oh yeah, you know what’s up. One time when Riley was a baby I was holding her in our family room when she got this weird look on her face. Even though my Dadstincts weren’t as sharp as Swarzenegger’s in Commando, I was able to react pretty quickly. I had her in my left arm when she decided to heed the call of the walrus. And by the way, until your kid has 1) opened the bomb bay doors while you are changing them and 2) decided to reformat the tummy drive on you – you aren’t really in the new parent club.

Anyway, as Riley honked I was somehow able to catch all the vomit in my sweatshirt while holding her and keeping a single ounce from hitting the carpet. Yes, vomit catching prowess is impressive to other parents.

Regardless, vomit really doesn’t have anything to with today. We have a couple cleaning ladies who come by once a month and today was the day. Which means last night was the night we have to clean up before the cleaning ladies clean up. It’s really dumb. It’s like washing the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. It’s counter intuitive. Like watching Nancy Pelosi talk and expecting her face to move.

The deal is that if you put your stuff away and keep the floors and surfaces free from household debris, not a small task in our house, they do a really good job of cleaning your house. I’m not exaggerating. The place looks foreign after they leave. But the night before cleaning lady day is always chaotic because we have to have everything put away and picked up. Putting things away is not only tough for the girls, it is evidently complicated.

I’m helping Bailey and Kinsey pick up their room yesterday and we pull out a couple containers for their toys that slide under the bunk bed. I remove the lid to find inside the container socks, t-shirt, underwear. This doesn’t surprise me. Mostly because just seconds before this find, I discovered the partners to the container socks shoved between their dresser and the wall.

“Hey Bails, when I ask you to clean up your room it doesn’t mean relocate all the stuff in the middle of your room to the edges. Dirty laundry goes in the hamper.”

With absolutely zero confidence that she’ll remember this, we continue to remove the rest of the flotsam that accumulates in their room.

Assuming we’re ready for the cleaning ladies, we’re going through our regular morning routine. Things were going fairly smoothly until I told the girls, as I do every single morning, “Finish your breakfasts, get your shoes on, get your backpacks.”

I pretty sure that the girls have internal translators. It’s the only logical explanation. Because whenever I say it, I believe this is what they each hear:

“Bailey, stand on your seat and dump most of your breakfast on the floor and then go over and turn on the TV so it distracts Kinsey from getting anything done.”

“Kinsey, pull out every piece of paper in your backpack, even the stuff that’s been in there since Halloween, and put it on top of each article I’m trying read in the newspaper and then ignore me every time you hear the word ‘shoes.’”

“Riley, after your done getting ready I want you to point out all the really, really obvious things that are happening like how Kinsey isn’t ready to go and you are and how you were the first one to get your stuff ready and how long you’ve been waiting to go to school.”

We get Kinsey and Riley out the door with Mom but I still have to get my lunch ready, grab my suitcoat and put in my contacts. I get that all accomplished and and we’re about walk out the door when I remember that we have to leave a check for the cleaning ladies. I tell Bails to hold up and she gives me that look of pained disgust while she’s standing the doorway to the garage.

“C’mon Dad…10…9…8…7….”

Seriously, she’s giving me the countdown. Grrr…


“Hold on, I have to write this check.”

“1…zero and a-half…zero and a-half…c’mon…”

Did you see that? She’s giving me the countdown. She’s 5. Oh yeah, I’m really looking forward to junior high…

Published in: on March 30, 2009 at 10:59 pm  Comments (1)  
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Weekend at Bernie’s

Okay, funny story from work today. I work in a very old building. Beautiful but old. So old that some of the walls are literally a few feet thick with the floors not being much different. During one renovation of an office I previously occupied, I walked through during the demolition phase. The hole in the floor looked like a sinkhole. You couldn’t even see the bottom.

Anyway, my point it that there is a lot of space not visible to anyone but Superman or The Greatest American Hero. Possibly the guys who manned those sweet x-ray machines at the airport in Total Recall.

I get to my office this morning and a coworker recounts a story to me from yesterday. We have a small area in our office that is routinely called a kitchenette. I prefer to call it the galley. Its less HGTV and more HMS Bounty. Anyway, my coworker had put a box of Little Debbie snacks in a flip drawer shelf above our microwave. Cinnamon roll flavor. Individually packaged. Next to his snacks is old bag of Chex Mix. Not homemade but the commercially bought stuff. Sealed. Never been opened.

He gets hungry and opens the flip drawer and observes his box of Little Debbie snacks. After all they are a delicious pastry made with egg, cinnamon, a touch of maple flavor and a coating of light glaze. Or so they say. But the first thing he notices is that somebody has gotten into the Chex Mix. His first thought is, “Wow, somebody must have been pretty hungry because those things have been there awhile.” His second thought is “why did they leave a mess of them on the shelf?”

Then he noticed a small opening near the bottom of the bag. Hmm…

Ragged hole. Chex mix strewn about. Mice. Or really small custodial staff that were hungry last night.

He thinks to himself, “I wonder if they got into my Little Debbie’s?” He grabs the box and notices a very small hole in the side of the box. Almost of perfect circle. It would appear the mice may now be using cutting tools.

Opening the box he’s sees three things. 1) Both of his remaining cinnamon roll snacks are in there. But one is looking a bit scrawny. 2) The box is filled with chex mix and mouse poop. 3) There are a couple mice in there just rolling around like Bernie Madoff in your money.

I’m joking about that last one.

But you can see it. Couple mice make their way up to the shelf. One is telling the other, “Dude, seriously, I smelled something up here.”

“C’mon man, I’m like three inches long. My legs are built for scurrying not climbing.”

Then they see it. Bag o’ chex mix. Quickly they chew through the bag and then they notice it. The mother lode.

“Is that what I think it is?”

“If you think it’s individually wrapped sugary ecstasy in a cardboard box, then ‘yeah’ it’s what you think it is.”

“Dude, don’t tell anybody about this. I’m freaking dead serious. You mention it one time and I swear I’ll push you into one of those sticky traps and I’ll text that mangy scabby looking feline with the breath that smells like your cousin Chubs the rat who eats his own poop. I’ll do it.”

“Okay man, I got it. Silencio. No problem. But you better have brought that thing cuts plastic cause I’m not chewing through that stuff again. It’s nasty. And we’re mice, we eat anything.”

And with the amount of chex mix and poop that was in the Little Debbie box they must have been in there for days. How hilarious is it that they were actually moving the chex mix into the Little Debbie box? It was like Weekend at Bernie’s for vermin.

“Man, when we finish these round frosted twirly cake thingamajiggies, we need to invite everybody over. And I mean everybody. Pinky, Whitey, Bob with the gimpy leg, that guy who tried to eat the fake cheese last week. What’s his name?

“You mean Crazy Dave with the twitchy eye?”

“No the other guy. You know, the dude with half a tail.”

“Billy Ray?” No way man. That guy is a freaking psycho. He ate an entire cigarette. He hasn’t slept since the Dow was at 12,000.”

“Okay, geez, it’s cool ese’, it’s cool.”

I’m thinking when they find out my coworker threw away the box of Little Debbie’s and the Chex Mix, we’re going to find a small hole in the side of the fridge. I can just imagine a couple mice with gas tanks strapped to their backs with mini flamethrowers burning a hole through the metal…

Published in: on March 27, 2009 at 9:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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We’re off to see the Wizard

We’re on our way to dance class this afternoon and the girls are talking about a book Kinsey read today in school.

“Hey Riley, did you know that in Egypt people sleep on their roof?”

“They do? How do you know that?”

“Because I read it in a real book. A for real book. It was non-fiction.”

And she really stressed the “non-fiction.”

Plus they are sharing the Sun Chips and Propel I bought them as a snack. Which is a good way to start the staggeringly wearisome marathon that is dance class. At first I was going to describe it as monotonous but that really isn’t true.

I mean today was kind of different. The dance Kinsey’s class is learning is evidently based around the Wizard of Oz. You’d think I would have noticed this back in September when they first started practicing. But I didn’t. But you can’t really blame me. It was September. Football was back after seven months of anticipation and that is a whole of happy to take in. afljerseysBy the way did you see that next season the eight original AFL franchises will celebrate their 50th anniversaries by wearing some throwback uniforms when they play each other during the season? Plus the Buccaneers are going to roll out the orange creamsicle uni’s one more time to celebrate their new ring of honor. I’m a uniform dork so I’m pretty jacked about this. I mean how often do you get to see this: broncos-1960

Evidently they didn’t have quality control within the marketing department in Denver back in 1960.

Anyway, why did I notice that today was a bit different at dance class? Well the Dad next to me was singing softly to himself “We’re off to the see the Wizard.” All the words too. Not just the chorus. I was impressed. And a little troubled.

But that wasn’t it. Again, you’d think this would have all been apparent to me earlier but the class is going through all the freaking songs. Ding Dong the Witch is Dead. Some song called the Lolly Pop Kids. Or Guild. Or Collective.

The first time the girls watched the Wizard of Oz was when the babysitter let them. And it scared the freaking #*&@ out of them. So once I realized that part of dance recital was based on the Wizard of Oz, I became a little curious and started paying attention. The teacher wasn’t just playing the songs, she had the actual dialog going during part of the routine. wicked-witch

“I’ll get you my pretty!”

Yeah, its weird. I completely have no idea what the hell is happening. But the Moms are all watching like they are at the NFL Combine scouting running backs in the three cone drill. They are even discussing from time to time the order of moves. Or arrangement. I’m sure there is a term for it like cabriole or Cotton-Eyed Joe or something.

The only thing that knocked them off their game was when the owner of the dance school brought out a few examples of the costumes. Blue. Green. And Pink. It was like somebody brought a newborn baby into a room full of Grandmas. Then the girls caught sight of them. Imagine nine grizzly cubs going after a salmon stuck in a tree. The owner is trying to show the Moms the dress and 18 arms are trying to grab hold of it. Then they started staking claim to which color they wanted to wear.

Another thing I noticed was that the Dads outnumbered the Moms today. 6-3. It was peculiar. Four of us were reading books. Guy across from me has D-Day by Stephen Ambrose. Good read by a great history writer. Another was on his laptop while ordering a large pepperoni pizza for the price of a medium. He had a coupon. The other Dad looked more bored the Washington press corps at a John Boehner press conference.

I wonder if any of us besides the singing Dad knew what the dance was about?

By the way, today at Kinsey\'s Dance Class Restaurant I had apple juice, steak and chicken leg together with pickles and salad. Mmmm…

Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 10:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Candles and Me

I blew it by going against the CW on Utah-Arizona but I did pick Siena over Ohio State. Is there anything better than watching a school with 3,000 students knock off Ohio State?

Anyway, things eventually broke down the girls this morning with barbies and crying and slapping. But it didn’t really interrupt my breakfast so no big deal. But two of things that just grate on me are when the kitchen is wrecked on Saturday morning after the girls eat and our coat rack.

The amount of food and dirt that accumulates on the kitchen floor is astounding. At some point a broom isn’t going to be enough and I’m going to need some type of heavy industrial sweeper. The only thing deeper than the dirt under the kitchen table is the federal deficit after the President’s 38 bailout bills.

Our coat rack also tends to tick me off for no good reason until I fix it. I swear Mom’s coats are breeding. I left one of her coats on the rack while relocating 6 to closet downstairs and another to her closet in our room. The girls, since two of them can’t reach the hooks yet, have adopted a spot on the floor next to the rack as the spot for their coats when they get home from school. With the repositioning of Mom’s coats, I now had the space to transfer the girls’ coats from the floor to the rack. This move allowed me to begin sweeping the kitchen, foyer and study (where the rack is located).

I do this every Saturday morning. And I’m not afraid to admit it. I clean up after I’m done eating. Except today I caught myself doing something that made me a bit uncomfortable.

I’m done sweeping and I’m looking for my wheel barrow to load all the crap I’ve swept up. I needed a back hoe or at least a really big shovel. There wasn’t just crumbs and dirt, there was an entire intact poptart. You couldn’t really see it under the table because of the all the ham that was covering it. It looked like the poptart and the ham were at the beach together chillin’ on all the sand on our kitchen floor. So I move all that crap into the garbage and if this had been a commercial kitchen of some type, I’d call OSHA in here. I mean it was ridonkulous as Bailey is now saying.

As in “Dad you need to sweep under the table right now, that dirt down there is just ridonkulous.”

So I do that and then I’m cleaning off the counters, transferring a lot of girl stuff from there to the garbage, when I unconsciously grab some of the hundreds of Yankee Candles that we have in our house. There’s one in the kitchen and one in the study and since I’m cleaning off the surfaces in these rooms I grab the Mistletoe and Holiday Bayberry candles that have been out since Christmas. Since I’ve grabbed these two it occurs to me that I should probably go get the Balsam Fir that is in the family room. After all it is officially spring, no need for these candles to be out. I open the cabinet to put them away and there isn’t any room.


seaside-holiday1After a quick look I deduce that if I take out the spring scented candles like Clean Cotton, Hydrangea and Seaside Holiday there would be room to put the Christmas candles away. While I’m down there I notice the Spiced Pumpkin and Harvest scented candles that we have out in the fall. They smell pretty good.

Anyway, I grab the spring ones, put the Christmas ones away and the put out the spring ones. As I’m putting Clean Cotton in the family room, I just stop.

jams-shortsThen I tilt my head and get that look you get when suddenly realize that what you’re doing is totally not cool. Like when you bought that Frankie Goes to Hollywood album back in ’84 or when you were the only person still wearing Jams shorts in the late 80’s.

“Changing out the candles for the spring ones?”

Crap. Busted.

At this point I realized that the only way not to be completely uncool if you are busted doing what I was doing was if Yankee Candle came with Dude Scented Candles.

Like Timber. Or Locker Room. Maybe Tanned Deer Hide. Gunpowder. I’d buy Burning Leaves. They’d never keep Freshly Cut Lawn in stock. Don’t even tell me how much money they’d make on Keg Beer…

Published in: on March 21, 2009 at 4:29 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Return of Tocks

My Spring Break went well. Not as well as Riley’s trip to American Girl Doll dreamland or Valhalla or whatever the hell it was, but pretty well. I was able to read about how journalists with an agenda can shape historical viewpoints such how Richard Nixon is vilified over the Vietnam War while John F. Kennedy is not. Despite the fact that JFK not only got us involved but was responsible for escalating the commitment while Nixon ended our involvement and the war.

While Mom and Riley were able to have lunch at a place where dolls not only sit at the table in their own seats but they have their own plates and utensils. Seriously. And it gets weirder. If your doll has had some type of mishap like an unfortunate encounter with the family dog or an ill-fated meeting with a younger sibling, your doll can go to the hospital. Where she will not only be treated, but she will also be issued her own hospital gown. Now I wasn’t there, and everyday that has gone by I thank the dear Lord for dodging that bullet, but as Mom was recounting the visit to me, it sounded like this bizarre combination of The Stepford Wives and Dr. 90120. I was trying to think of some type of analogous dude situation and the best I could come up with is if the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio had a surgery wing.

Anyway, everybody got home Tuesday afternoon and things got back to normal. It was odd being alone for a couple days. It was so quiet I could hear the silence. You know what I’m talking about. It gets so quiet that you think you’re hearing something within the quiet. Sorta like when Smokey shows up on LOST.

Anyway, Riley has a friend over tonight and we went out to dinner. And despite what Chic says, little girls are not all cute pony tails and curls.

I remember when Riley was a baby, we were really apprehensive about going out to dinner with her. Not was she brand new but we were new parents. We got the hang of it and eventually became so desensitized to the childless family haters that had the misfortune of sitting near us in restaurants that we were regularly going out when both Kinsey and and Bailey were under 2. We could be in and out of a restaurant in 45 minutes. If we limited the mishaps.

Tonight we took 4 little girls – two third graders, a first grader and a 5 year-old and we were in and out in 43 minutes. When it comes to going out to dinner, we’re like Germans making cars. We know what we’re doing and we’re coldly efficient.

On the way out, there are some big stones near the entrance of the restaurant that are part of the landscaping. The girls like to get on top and dance to the music you can hear through the outdoor speakers. It can get fairly amusing when there’s some disco. Kinsey is up there today. We’re all walking away towards the car and she yells for me to help her down because her “buttocks” still hurt. Refer back to this post for some background with buttocks and Kinsey.

Anyway, she says to me, “Dad you have to help me down because if I jump and land, it will hurt my buttocks.”

Except she’s saying it with heavy emphasis on “tocks,” as in “buh-TOCKS.”

I crack a smile.

“Don’t you remember that I hurt my buh-TOCKS when we went rollerskating at daycare this week?”

“Really? I don’t remember that.”

“Yeah, I did. Hey, it’s okay to say buh-TOCKS instead of, um, b-u-t-t because it’s more words.”

“Is that right, Kinz?”

“Yeah, buh-TOCKS is the real word for your bottom so you can say it instead of b-u-t-t and not get in trouble.”

“I guess so.”

So now we’re home and the girls, all 4 of them, are downstairs playing barbies. We’ve already had one crying incident. Which really isn’t too bad. Although I’m not optimistic for the rest of evening. For two reasons – 1) Dinner went pretty well, then we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some things for breakfast including my 20 oz. Diet Pepsi. Aside from Bailey announcing to me that she needed to, um, back out the brown Volvo while we were walking past the dairy section, things went well. But man, that girl has a bionic metabolism. It couldn’t have been 10 minutes since she finished eating and she’s already playing sink the Bismarck. And if you have to release the hounds while you’re at the grocery store, then you know you really have to go.

Anyway, the number 2 (no pun intended) reason I’m not optimistic is because it’s the first weekend of the NCAA’s. And I want to watch. But I know I’ll be called in to resolve some type of Barbie dispute. And depending on how my bracket is looking, (I picked Dayton, did you?) will determine if the smack is laid down or not.

So the girls better damn well hope BC and Utah pull it out.

The Final Countdown

Girls are on Spring Break this week. Mom has been on Spring Break since she came home from work on Thursday. She goes back Wednesday. Mom and Grandma are taking Riley and her cousin to Chicago to visit the American Girl doll store there. Consulting my database of things I’d least like to do I came up with a quick list of three things: 1) Watching golf, 2) listening to grunge all day, 3) visiting the American Girl doll store in Chicago. Anyway, not only are Mom and Riley gone until Tuesday afternoon but Mom’s sister volunteered to watch the other two at her house until the American Girl doll pilgrimage is completed.

Which means today was The Final Countdown. And I don’t mean that horribly horrible hair metal song by Europe circa 1986. I have no idea what VH1 was thinking when they named it the 66th best hard rock song of all-time. Sure Joey Tempest had impressive hair but the only thing impressive about the song was the amount of cheese in it. I actually saw these guys live in July of ’88 when they opened for Def Leppard. It was even cheesier in real life.

I also don’t mean The Final Countdown starring Kirk Douglass and Martin Sheen circa 1980 when the USS Nimitz finds itself thrust backwards in time to December 6th, 1941. final-countdownThis is easily one the best time travel movies of all-time. Other awesome time travel movies: Frequency, My Science Project, Terminator, Back to the Future, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Time Cop.

Anyway, today was The Final Countdown to my Spring Break. I haven’t been on Spring Break since 1992. So since about 2:30 today, I’ve been on Spring Break. Well sort of anyway, I still have to go to work tomorrow. But I only have to get myself ready in the morning. Which may be the single most awesome thing about my Spring Break.

But I haven’t done a whole lot so far. Went to gym. Went to the grocery store. Watched some of Saving Private Ryan. Watched the NCAA Tournament Selection Show. I like Louisville and Pitt in the final even if Ty Lawson is 100 percent for UNC. Couple early round upsets I’m thinking about VCU over UCLA, Western Kentucky over Illinois, and Utah State over Marquette. High seeded team I have no confidence in? Kansas.

So here’s my plan – I’m going to watch any and all analysis of the tournament for awhile. Doug Gottlieb knows what’s up. Then maybe I’ll watch The Final Countdown. Because I own the DVD. WWII and time travel. Almost too awesome…


I remember a lot of worthless stuff. Like every number I wore in basketball from 5th grade through senior year: 31, 40, 4, 21, 30, and 44. I remember that Shawn Halloran was the quarterback who had the misfortune of following in Doug Flutie’s footsteps at Boston College in 1985. I remember that Perry King and Joe Penny played Cody and Nick on Riptide in the mid-80’s.

I also remember when bands like Poison and Motley Crue ruled the world. Perspective is a great teacher. That’s why being 38 is better than being 18. Lack of perspective is the bane of youth. When your entire life timeline consists of 17 years, you don’t have a whole lot on which to fall back. Two things happened today that reinforced my ever growing realization that I was a complete and total idiot until I finished college.

First, I’m driving to work and I’m surfing through the local radio stations and stop when I hear a familiar piano melody. It sounded a lot like “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue except it was different. And by different I mean sucktastic. I keep listening and it turns out I was right, it is “Home Sweet Home.” Except it is Carrie Underwood singing it instead of Vince Neil.

I almost drove off the road in abject horror. My ears started bleeding, hands began tingling with numbness, dry mouth.

The torture finally ends and I hear this playful banter between the two people on the radio:

Dude: “Well, that was Carrie Underwood covering Motley Crue’s Home Sweet Home. And, well, hey, I grew up with The Crue and I’m just not so sure about that.”

Chick: “It’s a remake? I liked it. I guess, maybe, I’ve heard the original but I really don’t know. Maybe if I heard it, I could tell you for sure. But I thought it was really good.

I’m screaming at the radio.

“What?! Pretty good! Did you also think Sheryl Crow’s cover of Sweet Child o’ Mine was good? Yeah you probably did…”

Bailey is in the backseat wondering what’s up.

“Daddy what’s the matter?”

“Well, this simpleton on the radio thinks its okay for Carrie Underwood to sing Motley Crue songs. And I think she should stop drinking this early in the morning.”

“I like Carrie Underwood. She’s pretty.”


Then I get to work and a co-worker sends me a email that Bret Michaels is going to be in town this August. Yeah, Bret Freaking Michaels. I know, I know, I’m pretty jacked up about it too.

Well my co-worker was so excited that she blurted it out in her office and the teenager who is in there helping out says, “Cool. Is he going to bring the Rock of Love bus? Nobody would know who he is without that bus.”


Are you freaking kidding me? Yeah, if your perspective began the year Ross Perot was debating Bush 41 and Slick Willie. Yeah, if the only time you saw the videos for “Ride the Wind” and “Nothing But a Good Time” was on Metal Mania on VH1 Classic. Metal Mania by the way is probably the third best show on TV right now. Lost is #1, then Burn Notice, Metal Mania and then America’s Game on the NFL Network.

So here’s my conclusion, when I was 18 I did a lot of things which would cause any adult around me at the time to question my ability to make sound decisions. I said things that while apparent to me, were just so deeply foolish, most adults simply ignored me or smiled the smile that I now give to 18 year-olds. And sometimes to newlyweds.

Like I was saying, perspective is a great teacher. And if your age ends in “teen” and you want to bring up Motley Crue or Bret Michaels, you better be damn sure you’ve spent some time doing your due diligence…

Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 8:14 pm  Comments (1)  
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Too Much AI and Browsing

randy jackson1How do you know your 5 year-old is watching too much American Idol with Mom?

She says, “Thank you, Yo!” when she sits down for dinner.

So now Bailey has added “boo-yah” and “Yo” to her lexicon.

Anyway, last night Kinsey and Mom are talking as Mom sits down at the computer to read the latest installments of Chronicles of Dad. Last night by the way was a good night. Our church has a “teachers night out” deal when all the Sunday school teachers can drop off their kids for 3 hours and go out. Naturally we took advantage and went out to dinner then over to a book store.

And browsed.

Browsing is one of the great pleasures in life for Mom and I. Also included on this list are silence and evenings that don’t include folding and putting away laundry.

But browsing used to be something we just did. You go to the bookstore and wander your way through the American history and current events section with no real timeframe in mind. Maybe you buy the book explaining how FDR’s programs in the New Deal extended The Great Depression, maybe you don’t. But you certainly don’t have an internal timer telling you when to bug out. If you have little kids, you know what I’m talking about. When you’re in a store that requires some level of quiet, the clock starts running as soon as you enter. You have to have pocket presence. You have to be like Montana back there.

Anyway, we haven’t been able to browse since the middle of W’s first term. At first you miss it, like an old friend you don’t see anymore.

“Man, I miss browsing. Used to see him a lot, we were pretty close too. Wonder what he’s doing these days…”

Then you get annoyed that you can’t do it anymore, like running on the treadmill without stretching out. Then you get brave and attempt to do it. “Kids aren’t going to prevent me from finding evidence that history does, in fact, repeat itself and The Chief O-xecutive is just widening The Great Economic Downturn.”

But you fail and finally just give up. Like conservatives in the ’06 election. And finally you just forget about it. Like your retirement since Obamanomics took over.

Browsing is not something you do when you have little kids. It is so rare that you savor it when it actually happens. Like winning for Bengals or Browns fans. We enjoyed it so much that upon entering the bookstore we immediately split up without saying a word and didn’t see each other for about an hour.

I think my next book, as soon as I finish the 4 or 5 I’ve started, is going to be 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents.

Anyway, time quickly runs out and we’re off to pick up the girls. They appear to have had a good time. When we get there the kids are sitting in a big circle and couple of the little ones have small bags that have random things in them. They are telling stories about what they find in there. 4 year-olds can tell some pretty good stories.

“Then Mr. Marigold came out and saw a dollar. But Mr. Heavy Thing walked by and said what’s all the noise in here?”

Laughter erupts.

We get home and Mom is reading this blog and grabs Kinz and tells her to put some things into the recycling container and then go downstairs to the fridge and get a Mountain Dew for her and Diet Pepsi for me. Kinz runs down, retreives them and returns.

Bailey jumps in, “No the recycling is my job!”

“Oh, okay, you do the recycling and Kinsey you get the pop.”

“Mom, I know why you ask us to do things like get you pop.”

“You do, huh. Why?”

“So we can learn to be responsible.”

How about that? We’re just thirsty, but still we’re able to do some good parenting…

Published in: on March 7, 2009 at 12:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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E-bay Mornings

There are times when your kids prove to you that they not only should they be put on e-bay but they also deserve to be put on e-bay. Then just when you’ve seriously starting thinking about the consequences of such a decision, they go and redeem themselves.

For example, Tuesday is show and tell day for Bailey. It’s “Y” day. Which means last week was “X” day. She has to bring something that begins with the letter of day. Unfortunately, our Tuesday morning routine has become the two of us searching her room for something just as I’m ready to walk out the door. It almost always ends in one of two ways: 1) badly, 2) with Bailey grabbing one of her Littlest Pet Shop figures and bringing it. On “W” day we brought in a wiener dog. Anyway, you ever try to find something that begins with “X” in your kid’s toy box? It’s easier to find a dude wearing a “Pelosi Rules!” t-shirt at Talladega.

So we got creative. Bailey brought Spider-Man on “X” day because Spidey is kind of a X-Man. At least he hung out with them once or twice. “Y” day, however, isn’t going so smoothly. Mom went to work early so I’m getting all the girls to school. You’d think I’d be better at this. They do the same thing every morning after they fight their way through breakfast. They have to put their shoes on, get their coats and get their backpacks ready. You’d think I was asking them to restore the original copy of the Magna Carta. The worst part, however, is that once again Bailey has left the show and tell decision to last minute. So Bails, Kinsey and I are up in their room looking for something that begins with “Y” while Rye is downstairs yelling up suggestions to us as she’s thumbing through the dictionary.

“Yarn! Yardstick! How about a yellow yardstick? Maybe a yellow crayon?”

“How about yarn Bails?”

“No,” says Bailey as she digs through her pile of Littlest Pet Shops with Kinsey.

“Hey Dad, what’s a yokel?”

“It’s what Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid call everyone who lives in Iowa.”

Meanwhile, Bailey and Kinsey are going through the pile of Littlest Pet Shop figures.

Finally, I’ve had enough. “Bailey, you’re bringing a yellow crayon or nothing. Let’s go.”

We head down the stairs with Bailey whining about how she doesn’t want to bring a yellow crayon. She wants to bring her blanket.

“Kiddo, that’s not a “Y” word. Sorry.”

“Well then I want to bring a banana.”

“What? Banana doesn’t…wait, it’s yellow. Sweet. Let’s go.”

“Boo-yah! I’m bringing a banana!”

Anway, Wednesday is PE day for Kinsey. Which means she has to wear her sneakers. This is a big deal because Kinsey doesn’t like to tie her shoes. It’s like they are made of broccoli. She just dreads doing it and when she manages to actually get them tied she whines about them being too loose and does this weird kid shaky walk to prove to me that they are loose.

“Kinsey doing that doesn’t prove your shoes are loose. It’s proves you have excessively flexible ankles.”

Anyway, our parent-teacher conferences were this week for Kinsey and Riley and they went really well. Which of course is all due to good parenting and blind luck. But we gave Kinsey some positive feedback from it. So she’s been super proud of herself all week. This confidence manifested itself in the form of punctuality.

I was stunned.

Thursday, she was the first one up. First one to brush her teeth and have Mom fix her hair. Then she went downstairs and got breakfast ready for the other two. I had to be revived using the defibrillator paddles. But she wasn’t finished. She put her shoes on, got her backpack ready and found her spring jacket without any whining! It was biggest upset since Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson. I had the same look on my face that Akeem had when he turned around and saw Lorenzo Charles throw down that off-target Derrick Wittenberg 3-pointer in April of ’83.

So we’re on a roll going into the weekend. Don’t jinx it.

Published in: on March 6, 2009 at 3:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Just a little patience

There are times I think God reaches down to test me. Other times to just teach me a lesson. But sometimes I think he’s just screwing around, hanging with Gabriel, and they see my granddad walk by and the three of them decide to mess with me. My Granddad’s nickname when he was young was “Sparky” cause, well, he liked to party. He also liked to poke people in the eye which might explain why he was a union member and a Republican.

Anyway, Saturday evening is the carnival for the girl’s school. Mom had mentioned early that morning that she thought we should go. I, however, had strategically ignored the comment in hopes that it would fade into quietly into history. Kinda like the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands in 1942.

Instead Mom announces that we’re going and the girls went freaking crazy. I couldn’t contain the blast. Too much momentum to hold back. It was like the Celtics trying to guard Michael Jordan in the Garden back in ’85 when in went off for 63 wearing those sweet black and red Nikes.

After about 75 minutes, we make it out of there. It really wasn’t too bad. Except some of the prizes the girls won were these inflatable things. We’re in the car they start blowing them up. Rye has a guitar, Kinz and great big set of lips and Bails has a bat. So that’s my first sign that God is messing with me. Bails has a bat. Really? C’mon…

So they start singing. Rye is working the guitar and Kinz is singing holding her lips up doing a credible Mick Jagger impression with accent and everyting. Anyhow, it’s about 6:45 and I’m pretty hungry so I foolishly say, “Hey, let’s go get something to eat. How about Applebee’s? They have Pepsi products. I’m not drinking any Diet Coke.”

We get there, park the car and Mom goes into the restaurant. We didn’t follow because evidently the seats either became really sticky or there was some type of giant vacuum sucking the girls into the car because they were suddenly incapable of leaving the vehicle.

“C’mon, what the heck is happening with you guys? Aren’t you hungry? I am and I’m cold. Let’s go.”

“Hey Dad, c’mere, I’m going to give you a REALLY big kiss.”

This cracked up Rye and Bails so thoroughly they couldn’t even make sound. Bailey physically fell over in hysterical silent laughter.

They managed to collect themselves well enough to walk into the building. 20 minute wait. Hmmm…this could be bad. Girls are already hungry and now kinda worked up. And we’re going to ask them to stand relatively still for 20 minutes. This, as all parents know, is what is called a “gamble.” It’s Tom Osborne going for two in the ’84 Orange Bowl against Miami – it’s all or nothing.

All the seats in the waiting area are taken so we lined them up against the wall and had them sit on the floor. We tried to separate them but we were about as successful as the Maginot Line against Germans in the spring of 1940. Bails simply could not keep from touching the other two. Which elicited several different responses. Retaliatory hits. Giggles. Whining. And tattling. So I pick up Bails and tell her that because of how she’s acted to this point, she’s headed to her room when she gets home and if she keeps it up, it’ll be right to bed. Bails hates going to bed first. Hates it. Sending her to bed first is like asking Dick Vitale to say nothing but bad things about Duke. Just can’t deal with it.

She shaped up for about 28 seconds and then she kicked Rye in the melon. Thankfully it was at just about the same time our table was ready.

As soon as we sit down, Kinsey starts whining because she didn’t get all the crayons she wanted. She didn’t get a blue one but Rye and Bails did. She actually manufactured some tears.

Mom dropped the hammer so fast it was a little disconcerting. People say “zero tolerance” all the time but rarely do you see it. Plus this wasn’t zero tolerance, it was like negative 8 tolerance.

Didn’t matter because then she started whining about how I was playing tic-tac-toe with Bails but not with her. Mom dropped a bag of hammers.

Like the 3rd Army relieving Bastogne, the food arrives just in time. Dinner goes pretty well mainly because we set a big basket of fries in front the girls.

Then this morning we’re teaching Rye’s 3rd grade Sunday school class. I actually like this class. We never have any problems and the kids are almost always good.

Not today. God evidently was testing the hypothesis, “How bad does a kid have to be at Sunday School before the teachers bring the pain?”

We had a boy this morning, who on all other occasions has been pretty good. He participates and genuinely likes being there. Today he was like a Terminator whose mission was to make noise incessantly, complain about all activities, and drop his paper and pencil on the floor every 12 seconds.

He was so bad the other kids started disciplining him. It was damn close to turning into an unruly mob. The scary part was I was the one holding torch and pitchfork. Mom had to step in and deescalate. She was like Kissinger in the Mideast. Thankfully we had a guest come to our room today to talk to the kids about summer camp. He had a video, a guitar (a real one, not an inflatable one) and some songs. By the time he got to the third song I thought he was going to all Pete Townsend on his guitar and go after the kid.

At this point I was pretty certain, that Gabriel was up there with my Granddad telling God, “Hey, hey…let’s have the kid say “boing” 114 times in row? Yeah, this is gonna be awesome.”

You ever try to teach nine third graders how to look things up in Bible while one of them is saying “boing” over and over while he’s tapping his pencil to each “boing?” If I had had Bailey’s inflatable bat…

Published in: on March 1, 2009 at 11:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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