Tales from the Dishwasher

I remember when my Mom first told my sisters and I that one of our new responsibilities was to clear our own plates from the table and put it into the dishwasher. Cleaning up your own stuff seems like a simple thing. But, as I’ve written previously, it is really humbling when your kids engage in the same annoying and maddening behavior that annoyed and maddened your own parents back when you were a kid. Riley somehow cannot see shoes and clothes all over her room. Seriously, I think she has a medical condition that prevents her ocular nerves from recognizing shoe shaped objects. They are everywhere. They might be breeding. And anything that can serve as a hook or hanger has clothes hanging off of it. Although she may get that from me…

I famously once hung a dirty shirt from the handle of the vacuum cleaner my Mom left in my room. What? She told me not to leave my clothes on the floor…

So Riley’s efforts to avoid using a hanger for any of her clothes are a bit familiar. But still unacceptable.

Anyway, for years the girls have been responsible for clearing their own place after meals. I assigned this chore when none of them were tall enough to reach the handle on the faucet. Therefore, Mom or I would rinse off their plates and load them into the dishwasher.

Time and regular growth spurts have rectified that situation.

Unfortunately, two things have become apparent. 1) I was unaware that they would need training to accomplish the rinsing and loading part of the equation. 2) The spray hose we have has a sticky trigger. So it doesn’t always shut off when you take your finger off the trigger. The girls have watered the kitchen floor and counters a few times.

Regardless, I shouldn’t be surprised at their slow progress. It did take them a little while to master the skills associated with keeping your forks and spoons on your plate while carrying them to the sink. There are very few things more discouraging than watching your kids eat an entire meal while keeping nearly all their crumbs and other food remnants on their plates…only to watch most of them dumped onto the kitchen floor when they fail to maintain a level plate surface while relocating it to the sink. Grrr…

But that is trivial when compared to their struggles when you add two seemingly minor actions to this process.

1-Take plate, utensils and beverage container from placemat to sink.
2-Rinse off the previously named items.
3-Take said items and place them into the dishwasher in correct location.

Our dishwasher is located directly adjacent to the sink. All they have to do is open the dishwasher and pivot to their right. Upon completion of the pivot they are in perfect position to execute a top rack or bottom rack plate, cup or bowl load to the dishwasher. Somehow they always end up like Roscoe chasing the Duke boys. Minus the moonshine and Waylon Jennings narrative.

At first, I was unprepared for the level of resistance. Kinda like when Harry Heth marched into Gettysburg and ran into Col. John Buford’s dismounted cavalry on Seminary Ridge. Luckily, this isn’t my first encounter with low level defiance from people shorter than me. Like Bill Walsh and the ’88 Niners, I adjusted my gameplan and expectations.

Instead of getting upset, I’m now pretty sure there is some kind of rare neurological ailment that is physically preventing them from loading the dishwasher. There’s really no other conclusion to draw. It takes less energy and movement to place a cereal bowl into the dishwasher than it does to whine about it.

The exasperation they’ll express upon being reminded about this task is stunning. Its like I asked them to give back all their Halloween candy and Christmas presents. Which is one of those threats you can’t ever really back up but it certainly gets their attention.

Anyway, we’re getting better at this. This morning they rinsed out their cereal bowls and placed them into the dishwasher. I had to rearrange everything but at least they were inside it. All progress is good…

Time’s List

You know what’s awesome? Hearing a Journey two for Tuesday when its Stone in Love and Ask the Lonely. Yes, I know, Don’t Stop Believing is a classic. I love it too. But then again, I love We are Family from Sister Sledge too.

You what isn’t awesome? Time’s story on the Top 10 Things Today’s Kids Won’t Experience. Last month they ran a story about this. I would have written about it when I first saw but I have three kids who started school at the same time and I was overwhelmed with the lifestyle shift from summer to school. Then I had my fantasy football draft and the NFL started and well you can see how things get away from you…

Anyway, you know when you read something and are just dumbfounded that somebody would write something so utterly absurd you laugh out loud in stunned wonderment? I do this every time I mistakenly read something by Paul Krugman. I’m sure the writers at Time put some thought into this list and probably even chuckled to each other in smug satisfaction after compiling it but their list is, well, dumb. I don’t think I’m alone in my assessment either. Read the list yourself:

1- Camera Film
2- Landline phone lines
3- Real Books
4- Being Lost
5- Music Videos on MTV
6- Walkman’s
7- Glory Days of Nick at Nite
8- Tan M&M’s
9- Czechoslovakia
10- Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Terminator

See you’ve already raised an eyebrow, frowned at the screen and said “C’mon, it’s Czechoslovakia. It’s not like we’re going to Moscow. It’s like going into Wisconsin.”

Stripes is awesome. You know its awesome.

Furthermore, Czechoslovakia was just the forced merger of the Czechs and Slovaks into a country that didn’t really want to be one. Kinda like the Big 12 South and Pac-10.

Seriously, how did this list make it past quality control?

Camera Film? You know what else kids won’t experience? Time Magazine if it keeps coming up with lame lists like this. Sure kids won’t experience camera film. But you know what? I experienced it and I don’t really miss it.

Real Books? Um, hello? Is no one else paying a real textbook fee for their three kids in elementary school?

Being Lost? Are you freaking kidding me? Do these perspectively-challenged buffoons really believe that every 1st grader is walking around with a GPS? Or with a computer locater chip implanted in their neck so their parents and school can track them on a hourly basis? Being Lost? Something so completely and totally stupid could only be written by some doofus twenty-something with no kids and a Smart Car.

Tan M&M’s. Really. Now say this in your best John McEnroe – “You Cannot Be Serious!” No one cares about Tan M&M’s. Kids don’t. Adults don’t. The other M&M’s don’t. You know why? Because there are now peanut M&M’s, almond M&M’s, Dark Chocolate M&M’s, and Reese’s Pieces and depending on the summer blockbuster super movie marketing tie-in, there is always a special flavor available only for this summer. And despite rumors to the contrary, color does not determine taste.

I don’t have any real complaints with Music Videos on MTV. That is an excellent observation. It was pretty awesome to come home from school, flip on MTV and watch Rock the Casbah, Pass the Dutchie and Hungry Like the Wolf. The only videos they see now are Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato since Disney has cross-marketing down to an absolute formula.

As you may have guessed, I have some of my own suggestions for inclusion on Time’s list.

1-Saturday morning cartoons. Scooby-Doo. The Superfriends. Thundarr the Barbarian. Spiderman and his Amazing Friends. You can even include the Smurfs here. Why? Because, free from government intervention or social programs, they were able to develop and maintain their own community. I always thought Gargamel was a metaphor for Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs anyway.

2-The NFL Today with Brent Musberger. You know why YouTube is awesome? Because there are other dorks like me who think it is awesome that you can find this:

Or this:

Sure Musberger is kind of a tool. But random highlights from week 10 of the ’79 NFL season? Awesome! Plus, if you’re my age you know that the best thing about Sunday morning when you were a kid, besides the end of the sermon, was hearing ol’ Brent say, “You’re looking live…” Plus back then the only time you actually could see games outside your home market was on shows like the NFL Today.

3-History Class. I’m not kidding. Go randomly ask a 16 year-old who the crossed the Delaware on Christmas night. I’m just spit-ballin’ here but my guess is that a fair number of them will say Santa Claus. We’ve allowed environmentalism to become part of public school curriculum but we don’t require anybody to actually read The Constitution.

4-Halloween. I know I’ve written about this previously. But what the hell has happened to Halloween? This is an epic national tragedy that has gone woefully under reported by major news organizations. There are kids who don’t dress up on Halloween. Even worse there are kids who dress up but have no where to go because an alarming number of so-called Americans do not purchase candy to distribute. Instead they choose to close their doors and turn out their lights. Maybe its just me, but if you’re going to behave like that on Halloween why don’t you just torch the Bill of Rights and recite Karl Marx while waving the hammer and sickle overhead.

5-ABC’s Monday Night Football with the real freaking MNF theme instead of the Hank Williams, Jr. crap. I know if you are in your 20’s or early 30’s you’re reading this thinking this guy is nuttier than faking a field goal down three in overtime. Listen, it isn’t MNF unless it starts with this and ends Frank Gifford saying “Tonight on ABC’s Monday Night Football!”

Speaking of football, I’m taking Riley and Kinsey to the Iowa State game this weekend. It’s a night game so they are pretty excited about it. Of course, promising them chips and hot dog for dinner gets them pretty worked up too. We’ll see how it goes…

Picture Day and the Sax

So today is picture day at school. Our 3rd grader and 1st grader laid out some options Monday evening.

(There should be a picture here of the girls’ clothes. However, since the USB cable for my camera is missing…so is the picture)

Top row are Kinsey’s. Bottom row are Bailey’s. Three guesses which outfit I said Bails should wear.

The outfit I liked consisted of gold mesh shorts and a Jerome Bettis jersey. I thought it looked sharp. Mom disagreed.

In other news, Riley is expanding her musical footprint. Through a liberal dose of encouragement from Mom and I, she has decided to continue with the violin and orchestra this year. As of yesterday, she’s added band because she wants to learn how to play the saxophone. When she first mentioned band I suggested she play something small. Like the triangle. When she went to the band meeting for first timers interested I joining the music teachers let them try out some instruments to which ones are the best fit. I was absolutely sure it was going to be the drums. Or the tuba. She came home with two options. One of course being the sax. The other was the trombone. My first question?

Which one is cheaper to rent.

It was the trombone.

So yesterday afternoon we rented a saxophone. The sax is not only more expensive to rent than the trombone but also one of the most expensive instruments to rent overall. I told Riley she has a lot of debt to work off because I was assuming our activities outlay for Rye would be down this year since she decided to replace gymnastics with the saxophone. Turns out the sax is just about as expensive as gymnastics on a monthly basis.

She also joined a singing club at school. Watching Glee with Mom evidently does have an impact. To our immense satisfaction however, all of these obligations take place before or during school.

I also had the opportunity to pick up Kinsey and our neighbor from gymnastics tonight. I only bring this up for two reasons: 1) I had to miss the Brandon Jackson sweepstakes at my first Fantasy Football weekly meeting of the season. With Ryan Grant out for the year, Jackson is the first free agent prize. But I have Rashard Mendenhall on my roster this year. Only thing more awesome than the Redskins return to gold pants this weekend was Rashard’s overtime TD run. You know the last time the Steelers won a September home game in overtime by the score of 15-9 was 1978. They won the Super Bowl that year. Just sayin’…

Anyhow, reason number 2 is that Kinz and our neighbor decided to speak in Russian accents all the way home from gymnastics. That’s not nearly as amusing as it sounds.

Three Days

Okay a couple things right off the bat. That game last night between Boise State and Virginia Tech was a good game. Unfortunately it was nearly unwatchable because of the uniforms each team was wearing. Nike is doing its best to destroy college football. And its best is winning. What the hell was Virginia Tech wearing? I’m sitting on the couch and turn to Mom and say, “It looks like some weird combination of Polynesian and Tron.” Later, I come to learn that Twitter was blowing up with a similar Tron observation. I didn’t know about this until today because, well, Twitter is weird. It’s a strange world. A world that seems to be populated by a great number of narcissists and stalkers.

Of course that might be bit harsh too.

Anyway, Boise State wasn’t much better with that oddly placed gray belly patch. Listen, if you want to change your uniforms every five minutes so you can sell more jerseys – fine. It’s an affront to the traditions of college football but I get it. What I don’t get is wearing uniforms that aren’t even your freaking school colors. Va Tech was in all black. Black is not one of their school colors. Boise State has eliminated orange from their uni’s. Orange IS one of their school colors.

Yes, this pisses me off. You don’t see the Yankees wearing red. You don’t see the Steelers wearing blue. But somehow in college football it has become okay to let Nike use the gridiron as fashion show runway. I hate Nike. I hope the NFL bans Nike.

Next, does anybody else think that vending machines are purposely designed so that the change you are due always falls so far back into the change compartment – and by compartment I mean that tiny metal box only big enough to fit baby fingers – that you simply give up trying to get your dime and just leave it in there?

Anyhow, on somewhat less disturbing note, it took three days for Bailey’s teacher to call us. Three days. I guess we should be grateful that she was good for the first two.

Bailey’s teacher asked the class to move from their desks to the carpet and sit quietly and put their hands in their laps. Bails decided she needed a few magnets and things off the calendar before she arrived at said carpet however.

In case you forgot, listening and following directions is pretty much the foundation for the entire first grade teaching curriculum. So began our renewed focus on making good choices and avoiding bad choices with Bails.

After thinking about it, I think we’ve fallen prey to one of the great parenting blunders. The first of which of course is letting your kids play soccer. The second is parenting all your kids to the age of your oldest.

It is easy to do. After all, Riley is almost 11 and she’s pretty darn responsible. She completes her homework without being asked and is on an impressive streak of good decisions ever since she figured out her days and nights when she was about 4 days old.

Anyway, last week Bails redeemed herself. She went the whole week without getting in trouble. This is an impressive streak for Bails. Not as impressive as the streak the ’76 Steel Curtain displayed by giving up just 28 points in the last nine games of the season, but an impressive streak nonetheless. To make sure she was telling us the truth, I traded emails with her teacher. Mom even got a call from her teacher letting us know how well she’s behaving in class. Score!

We’ll see how she follows that up this week.

In other news, Riley has come up with some sweet new sarcastic ways to ignore us. For example, she’s in the family room watching TV and Mom asks her put away the dishes. Her response?

“Beeeeeeep. I’m sorry Riley isn’t home right now. Please call back when she’s not watching TV.”

And we had a nice return to some classic drama from Kinsey. I pick her up from her first gymnastics class last Tuesday. Before she can even buckle her seatbelt, she’s in tears.

“I’m the worst one in the whole class. Our teacher talks funny and I can’t understand him and he just expects us to know how to do everything. The advanced class is too hard. I was just embarrassed the whole time. I hate gymnastics and I’m not going back.”

Well, quitting is something we hold in very low esteem in our house. It’s right down there with the Oakland Raiders, Woodrow Wilson and whoever cancelled Quantum Leap. So after some confidence building practices with Mom and Riley before gymnastics tonight, Kinsey headed back. And by the grace of tiny baby Jesus in his golden fleece diapers, she came home smiling.

“I’m so proud of myself! I did a front flip on the trampoline!”

I can’t help but wonder if this is one of those times where she’ll always look back and believe in herself. You know what? Sometimes this parenting gig isn’t so bad…