A Return to Normalcy

classic MNFHey, by the way, just 17 days till this. Which reminds me that I really do miss Brent Musberger opening up the NFL Today.

I’m still getting used to being in the car by myself on the way to work. It really is weird. I think it must be how Vikings fans feel when they see a guy going through a mid-life crisis on ESPN quarterbacking their team. Confusing with sudden jolts of panic. The same thing would have happened if the Steelers had brought in George Atkinson back in the late 70’s, it would have caused serious weirdness. Him and Lynn Swann running out on the field together would have caused a Time Cop event. Remember when future Ron Silver and past Ron Silver occupied the same space? Yeah, that would have happened.

Anyway, one of the things that I caught myself doing in the car this morning was conversing with the radio. I mean after I turned around and drove back home to pick up my laptop. Because you can ruin a Friday pretty quickly by showing up to work and seeing an unoccupied space where your computer should be. Similar to how the President feels when he points to the 70th percentile and asks why his approval ratings appear to be missing.

So the guy on the radio is quizzing his listeners by playing them short samples of tunes. They get a few seconds of music and they have to guess the song. And he’s serious about it. He groups the songs into batches of four and each listener goes from there guessing both the artist and the song. Plus he’s arranged them by the age of his listeners. So if you’re 39 you get some 80’s and early 90’s. If you’re 29 you get that crappy swill that passed for music in the mid 90’s. And every now and then he throws in classic stuff from the 70’s.

Hmm…useless trivia…

First guy gets a song by Billy something or other from Smashing Pumpkins. Horrible. I’d rather listen to Walter Mondale’s acceptance speech at the ’84 Democratic convention. Next guy however is 40. My interest is piqued. First song. Second song. Third song. Fourth song.

He blows it. Seriously. I can see missing Temple of the Dog, that’s hard. It was Pearl Jam and Soundgarden collaborating which throws a big monkey wrench into your thinking. Plus those two bands are among the culprits who killed hair metal. But blowing Firewoman? That alone leads me to believe that while this guy was around when metal ruled the world he wasn’t paying attention. His jeans weren’t ripped, he didn’t have a Levi’s jacket and he didn’t own Appetite for Destruction. And missing Triumph? It is simply impossible to be in your late 30’s or early 40’s and not have been subjected to Triumph videos on MTV. It can’t be done. It’s like watching TV and somehow avoiding a commercial voiced by Gene Hackman or Alec Baldwin. If somebody throws out, “hey you know that band that kinda sounded like Journey…” you instinctively answer, “You mean Triumph?” It’s muscle memory. Like when you say “wide right” to a Bills fan or “Michael Dukakis” to a liberal, their heads sink.

Now missing Join Together may be understandable. But not to me. This is my favorite Who song. Even more than Baba O’Reilly. But this guy didn’t even know it was The Who. I mean why did this guy even call up? What the hell was his thought process? Did he wake up thinking that embarrassing himself before work on a Friday morning was a helluva idea? Why don’t you go to work without pants too?

Anyway, we’re a full week into school with the girls. Which means we’re back to after school activities. Kinz has gymnastics on Wednesdays and all three of them have dance on Thursday. Kinz and Bails in the same class. I had dance duty yesterday and it wasn’t so bad. I even mentioned to their teacher that they seemed to be doing well together.

This quickly led to a discussion about how dead I am in a few years when they are teenagers. Listen, I already know I will be ignored and in most cases will be irrelevant. But man, everybody with teenage girls really feels the need to point this out to those of us who will have teenage girls.

“Boy my daughter was the sweetest little girl but then she became a teenager and turned into a cross between Satan, Streisand and that sound Chris Matthews makes when somebody makes fun of Obama.”

So instead of leaving dance class genuinely happy about how the girls behaved and how Bails actually listened better as the class went along, I’m already thinking about 2015 when our girls will be 12, 13 and 16. Woo hoo! That’s going to a good year…

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First Day of School

I was kinda anxious all day wondering how school went. I was sure at least one of them would forget how to get to their classroom.

Turns out they all did.

Didn’t matter evidently. Here’s the briefing I received upon picking up the girls:

“Kinsey how was your first day of second grade?”

“GREAT! I LOVED IT! My teacher is the best teacher I’ve ever had. EVER!”

Riley how was 4th grade? Did you finally meet your teacher and find your locker?”

“My teacher is suuuuuuuuper nice. And she’s sooooooooooo pretty. And she said she’s not very strict so that’s good. Oh yeah, my locker is like a million feet from my classroom.”

Bailey, how was kindergarten?

“Good.”

“Anything exciting happen?

“No.”

The only smile I got out of her was when I asked about lunch. She was very excited about being able to pick out her own food.

Hot dog, Baked beans. Strawberry. Chocolate Milk.

So it was a good day

Prelude to School

Some people are lucky and others are lucky. For example some people play the Powerball on a whim and end up with $212 million. Other people, like me, get in the car to go to the grocery store, flip on the radio and hear their favorite REO Speedwagon song – “Roll with the Changes.” Then, as they are leaving the grocery store, they flip on the radio to an entirely different station and hear their favorite REO Speedwagon song again!

Both people are lucky. But it’s not really the same thing.

Anyway, school starts tomorrow for the girls. For the first time since mid-August of 2005 all three of them will be in the same building for school and before/after school care. Yes, this is completely and totally freaking awesome. An awesomeness that cannot be fully appreciated or even comprehended unless you have at least two children and more likely at least three.

For the last few days one of us drops the girls off in the morning. And then the other one picks them up. A simplification in logistics. Yes, I’m completely serious about this. One of us actually gets to drive to work or drive home from work by ourselves. Alone. In a car. Without any other people in it.

It’s true what they say that you don’t appreciate something until it has been taken away and then given back. Like Super Bowl 43 if you’re a Steeler’s fan. 2009 season opener just 22 days away by the way. Anyhow, in my case that thing is silence. Now the adjustment period is still on-going and I expect it to continue for a little while. On my way to work the other day I was suddenly stricken with overwhelming panic. Like a Democratic congressman at a health care forum.

I honestly felt like something was physically wrong with the universe. The air was somehow different. Turns out all it was a small tremor in the force that sometimes occurs when a major logistical shift takes place. In the immediate aftermath parents may sometimes experience feelings of unease and confusion followed by sheer glee.

Or it was because nobody was whining because their socks were too thick or because they didn’t get to wear a tank top, etc.

Today was open house at school when parents and students meet the teachers, etc. We go into each of the girls classrooms, find their desks and lockers and drop off the school supplies. Which really is the best idea public schools have had in years. Back in the day the nuns made us bring all our school supplies on day one. We’d lug those 80 pound packs onto the bus and into school. The smallest kids would just be dragging those things the last few feet, sweat pouring off them. By the time they’d reach the door the kindergarteners were like beat oxen after a long day the August sun. You’d get up to your desk and one of your buddies would have to help separate your backpack straps from your shoulders. Then you’d have to try and not look goofy when you put your cool new Trapper Keeper in your desk with arms that were completely numb from the lack of blood flow. Now the kids have their parents lugs those things into school the day before. But seriously does one kid really need four packs of 24 crayola crayons? Bailey’s backpack had more colored wax than Joe Biden’s forehead.

So our first stop was Bailey’s room. She has the same kindergarten teacher that Kinsey did. We quickly pointed out that Bails and Kinz are not the same. My advice was that if she needs to discipline Bails she should do it directly and use force. Because force is the only language Bails understands from time to time and at our house we’ve become fluent in force. No I’m kidding…seriously…I am…

Then to Kinsey’s room. Kinsey’s teacher is tall. Three kids to a table instead of individual desks. Must be some come kind of hippie teaching technique. I’ll have to keep my senses on full alert. If she starts bringing home peace signs or some crap like that I may to volunteer a few times as a guest reader or something just to make sure the kids aren’t being slowly molded into some sort of socialist hippie commune. First books to share with Kinsey’s second grade? General Patton’s biography, Free Enterprise for 7 year-olds and Steel Dynasty: the story of the 70’s Steelers. Seriously, I liked Kinsey’s teacher. But I have “eyes” on the room anyway. Fiber optic mini cameras on sale at Radio Shack by the way.

Down to Riley’s room. Her teacher had already left. Which I thought was odd but we were behind schedule. No big deal, Rye unloaded her stuff, explored the room and left with a general feeling of happiness regarding her impending 4th grade experience.

So all in all it was successful trip. Tomorrow, however, we’ll see how it all goes. Riley made sure she knew how to get to her room from their bus drop off location. Commonly known as the Main Door. She drew a rough map, added topographical features and secured it in her backpack. I asked Kinsey if she needed to walk from the bus drop off door to her room to make sure she knew the way.

“Nope, I’m good. Straight, right, left, right. Classroom.”

Bailey, for a first time kindergartener, couldn’t have bee more disinterested in discovering the way to her room. However she was deeply interested in testing her ability to take corners in the hallways at light speed. She may or may not physically appear in her room tomorrow. Luckily Kinsey has already volunteered to walk Bails to her room just like Riley did for her when she started kindergarten. So at least there’s that. And that’s not too bad.

Baby Dang

In my job I have the great fortune of being able to work with folks from all different professions. But the retired state troopers have the best stories. And the coolest lingo. For example, what would you call some folks sitting around in the middle of the day, drinking some PBR, growing their mullets and talking about the merits of Jerry Springer and bondo? Most people call these folks white trash. Troopers call these guys “whiskey tango.”

Anyway state troopers have a code for everything. For example if they arrest a complete dirtbag they refer to this guy as “Joe Puke.” If Joe Puke won’t exit his ’82 Camaro, then he is encouraged by the trooper’s “persuader.” Translation: The trooper grabs his night stick and introduces it to Joe Pukes face.

My favorite term for WT is still Whiskey Tango. As in “Whiskey tango on your six.” Translation: There is white trash approaching you from behind.

But then came “dang.”

As in upon entrance to Wal-Mart on a Saturday night, you look around, notice all the whiskey tangos in attendance, turn to your friend and say, “Dang!”

This of course led to the question, “what do you call a whole group of dangs?”

A “dangle.”

This all leads me to this – sometimes convenience and comfort will lead you to wander into danglike behavior and decision making. For example, if you’re on vacation in the Ozarks and instead of putting a swimsuit on your one year old you let the kid run around the pool or the beach at Captain Ron’s in just a swim diaper, your baby has just become what?

“Baby dang.”

Anyway, what’s the last thing you would want to happen when you arrive home from vacation? Aside from learning Nancy Pelosi is your new neighbor and she’s invited everyone over to party like it’s 1934. Or flipping on the TV and finding out the only station that works is the Scott Baio channel.

How about 70 mph straight line winds that knock down half of a big ol’ maple tree in your backyard? Yup. So now we have a big tree that once looked great but now it has a big hole in it and is going to take years to fill itself in and look good again? Like the Red Sox without Big Papi on steroids. Or Michigan with Rich Rodriguez as head coach.

The two little girls are back tomorrow. Which is going to be a shock for Riley. Especially since she turned their bedroom into her lounge/fashion/napping and game room. Here’s the sign she made.

Lounge sign

Here’s the bunk beds. Yes, that’s an “in-box” taped to the ladder.

Lounge

Published in: on August 11, 2009 at 9:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Water Park Hazards

Water parks are awesome. The first one I really remember experiencing was way back when I was about ten and we went to one in New Jersey with my cousins. It was great. Each of the slides had the names of rivers and each one had a different degree of difficulty. The Amazon was really long, the Blue Danube was really fast, the Hudson was really dirty, etc.

I really haven’t been to a really cool water park in a long time. And this one down in the Ozarks is pretty cool. Wave pool, lazy river, kiddie pool with kiddie slides, some really easy beginner slides and then there’s the slides that even stagger the grown ups. One is this nasty half-pipe. It feels like falling off a cliff. But the scariest part is that the half-pipe is bordered by these tiny one foot borders. And they look pretty small when you’re headed at them at the speed of sound and you can count the leaves on the TOP of the oak tree directly behind the slide. Riley, Kinsey and Mom did that one a few times.

Then there’s the toilet bowl. Seriously. You go down this ridiculously steep drop to pick up speed and you get spit out into this bowl. You circle around the bowl until you literally drop through a hole into an 8 foot pool. If you get enough speed, its awesome. If you don’t, you end up like my brother-in-law and me and you slow down so much you need to roll out through the hole.

Then there are the rapids where you go through a series of small slides into small pools. Except the physics and currents present in these pools at the bottoms of the “rapids” tend to trap people who have a large amount of mass and a small amount of mass. So the really big folks and the really small kids are getting stuck in these big groups and the rest us are honking for the right of way. Kinsey got stuck until I came down, completely inverted my tube, righted myself and slammed into Kinz. I felt kinda cool until I realized most of the contents of my nose had evacuated along a path down the right side of my face.

Then there was the yellow and blue slides. Yellow slide is open while the blue is totally enclosed. The blue is faster. It’s also really hard to judge how close you are to the end in total darkness. Veterans of water parks will tell you, as they told me, that if you arch your back really high and only have the backs of your heels and shoulders touching the slide you can approach NASCAR qualifying speeds.

Which is awesome. Until you hit the water at the bottom. You’re so amazed at your ability to approach terminal velocity you forget that upon entering the water at that speed, your nose is vulnerable.

Yup, it was nasty.

But I made such a big splash that Bails decided she wanted to try it. And Bails is in the 25th percentile for height and weight for kids about to enter kindergarten. She’s small. We climb back up to the top of the slide and she goes first. She sat up on her bottom the whole way down and you couldn’t even tell she hit water because her splash was so small. I go down and attempt to sit up the whole way. I hit turn one and firmly introduce the side of face to the side of the slide. The recoil knocks me onto my stomach. This is the point where I remember reading the sign at the top of the slide that read, “No riding on your stomach.” So I correct my position just as I’m hitting the corkscrew. This of course just turned me into this runaway spiraling depth charge. I’m sure if they checked the inside of the slide and my back the ballistics would match.

After my splashdown, Bails suggested that we ride the yellow one next.

We eventually made to the wave pool and skipped the lazy river because the lazy river was, well, just too lazy. I mean by the time made it all the way around the leaves started to change. But the wave pool is fun. Grandma got caught right at the exact spot where the largest waves break. It may have been because she was nudged into it. Eyewitnesses can’t confirm the culprit. Watching her was like watching the perfect storm. She just got pounded. And it’s a wave pool so there is no pause button. They just keep coming.

If you can manage to swim out past all the humanity and get up to the front of the pool where the waves begin, it’s pretty cool. You are going up and down about ten feet. It’s work to stay above water. But you’re also so far out there the kids won’t follow you. So it’s kind of a break even though you’re at serious risk of drowning. But it’s totally worth it.

Tubing is also fun. Especially for kids. This morning we went back into a fairly quiet cove and let six of the girls take turns tubing. Kinsey, Bailey and two of their cousins went first. It was fairly uneventful for a while if you dismiss Kinsey barking out orders and directions throughout the entire episode. She looked like a gunnery sergeant. Then my brother-in-law skipped them over a small wake and caught his first grader to be a little off balance. It was like he caught her leaning towards second base and picked her off. The only part of her body still in contact with the tube were her two hands clutching the handles. The rest of her body was airborne.

But the best part was the girls thought it was hilarious so nobody was crying. And that’s always a good thing.

We’re headed home tomorrow but with only one kid. Grandma decided she’d take Kinsey and Bailey home with her for Grandma camp for a few days. Which will be weird and cool. Bails starts her new day care on Friday and then school starts on the 20th. It’ll be Bails first day of kindergarten. We can’t wait.

It Sank

So far our yearly vacation has pretty much gone according to plan. The kids wanted to go swimming as soon as we got here. We went to Captain Ron’s for lunch on Monday. We went to the outlet mall on Tuesday to go shopping and the girls were really, really bad. The girls have been before 7 a.m. every morning. And Grandpa’s boat sank.

Seriously. Mom, Grandpa and a few of the eight children here went down to the dock to watch Mom go skiing Monday morning. Minutes later they were back. The boat was filled with water up to the steering wheel. Grandpa called the salvage guy and he cruised over in the “fastest tow boat on the lake.” That’s what he told him anyway. He can get it up to 37 mph if he’s not pulling anything and the water is calm.

Here’s a pic of them pumping water out. Reminded me of Rahm Emmanuel trying to save the O’s health care plan.

Ozark 09 pics 001

Turns out the boat is toast but they saved the motor so that can be used to buy Grandpa a new boat should he decide to get one.

Lucky for us Grandpa and Grandma have some cool friends and a couple of them have a place down here. They also own a pontoon boat. Which is more or less like a floating tailgate party. So we’ve borrowed that for the week.

We’ve sorta taken an informal vote and decided he’d enjoy a pontoon boat himself. And he should name it Liquid Smoke. Mmmm…waffle runoff…

We took it out for an evening cruise Tuesday. Kinsey told me she really liked the pontoon boat. “It’s like sailing in a living room.” We stopped to get gas which annoyed Bails because we had to stop for a little while. But our pitstop did provide us with the opportunity to convince the 18 year-old girl pumping our gas about to enter college this fall to finish. That’s what boating with seven little girls 9 and under will do to a teenager. When we finished and cranked up the speed, Bails turns around to Grandpa and says, “Now we’re cooking!”

Which is much different than how she was behaving a few hours earlier when we told her that she couldn’t go out on a boat ride in her uncle’s boat. She absolutely melted down. Lost her mind. She looked like George Brett when they took away his pine tar homer. Once Kinz gets going she can’t deescalate. She’s genetically predisposed against the development of an exit strategy. She’s like Dick Cheney dealing with liberals. Kinz deploys more and more force and anger. She just ramps up the crying and screaming until she either tires out or realizes her loudness strategy isn’t working.

Our trip to the mall was highlighted by this – we’re waiting outside Children’s Place as Mom loads up on the bargains. She comes out with a t-shirt for Bails that’s says, “Super Sassy” across the front.

To which Bails responds, “I’m not sassy. I’m a rascal.” She is a rascal. However she also sassy. If we were Irish her name would Sassy McRascal.

Anyway today is the day where Grandpa and my two brothers-in-law are golfing. So I’m in the condo with Mom and her sisters and all eight kids. I chose to stay here. It has nothing to do with the fact that I’d be stuck with a couple Hawkeye fans and one Cornhusker fan. But since my nephew just sneezed out most of the snot in his nose onto my leg which was quickly followed by Bails rubbing it in, I’m reevaluating that decision.

I know not golfing puts me in the minority of dudes and Dads, but I just really don’t have any affinity for golf. I’ve been golfing and the best thing I can say about it is that I just don’t get it. Kinda like Green Day. Or cheering for Colorado Buffalo basketball. I mean I like being outside, I like plaid and I enjoy hitting things really hard with a stick but there are other things I’d rather do. Plus golf takes time. It’s not something you can just do. It takes equipment. And a reservation. Plus you’re supposed to play with three other people. I guess it’s kinda like going out to dinner with little kids. You have the same amount of whining, swings and misses and spilled drinks.

Anyhoo, we’re headed to a water park tomorrow. It’s going to be awesome. And expensive.