So I noticed the girls were having a serious discussion the other day about favorites.  It sounded a lot like when my sisters and I used to do Mad Libs back in the day.  But different.  So maybe it wasn’t like Mad Libs at all.  Anyway, Kinz stapled together 14 Post-It notes.  Each Post-It alternated between a question and that question’s answer.  For example the first question asked you for your favorite TV show.  And she was quizzing Bails, Rye, our neighbor and anybody else who was around.  And well I couldn’t really help myself.  I mean she was essentially conducting an opinion poll and I really like opinion data and I don’t mind at all registering my opinion in said data.  So I engaged.

Favorite TV Show – Kinsey’s answer was Full House.  Yeah, that Full House.  Didn’t really watch the show back in its prime.  I mean how many 19 year-old college dudes are watching Full House?  The ones who probably played Dungeons & Dragons.  Not this guy.  Too busy trying to earn the Beers Around the World t-shirt.  Just by drinking 325 different beers from around the world you get a free t-shirt.  What?  I wasn’t a math major.  Anyway, now that I’m a Dad I have a whole new appreciation for Full House.  This, my friends, is a wonderful show for your daughters to watch.  DVR it and make them watch it.  Do it.  Not kidding.  Enforce it as a house rule.  I didn’t realize it at the time but it’s a late 80’s/early 90’s version of the Brady Bunch.  Excellent lessons and messages are tackled in every episode.  It’s like having an extra parent around.  Who knew John Stamos was a role model and not just a hair model?  All three of the girls are watching the show.  And remember they range in age from 9 to 13.  But my answer wasn’t Full House.  It’s not my favorite show.  But it is my favorite show for the girls.  Mine?  Person of Interest.  It’s got a little bit of LOST in it.  Totally sucked into The Following too.  Also love The New Girl.  But Person of Interest, that’s my favorite.  Well, I mean if you aren’t including the NFL Network’s coverage of the Combine this weekend.

hedgerow cutterAlthough I gotta admit I’ve spent most of the last two weeks catching up on The Walking Dead.  Don’t do this.  Not being flippant here.  You can’t watch 15 episodes over 3 days and be the same guy.  This show changes you.  I backed out the garage on Sunday night to pick Bails and Kinz up from softball camp and I was seriously checking for walkers.  I was running through scenarios in my head about how to react if I came upon a herd of them.  Front of the truck needs to be modified with those hedgerow cutters our boys welded onto the fronts of their Shermans back in the Normandy bocage in ’44!

After all those episodes its pretty damn apparent that I am completely and utterly unprepared for the Zombie Apocolypse.  I don’t have the right kind of weapons.  Well, really any weapons of note.  I don’t have any supplies.  Not only would I have to keep Mom and the girls safe but myself too.  That’s five freaking people.  I wouldn’t last the first 48 hours.  Not ashamed to admit that its kind of stressing me out.  I spent ALL DAY at work on Monday thinking about The Walking Dead.  My house has way, way too many entry points that would need to be sealed off and barricaded.  It’s the suburbs so there are terrible sight lines.  There could be a herd of walkers down the street and we wouldn’t even know it.  No natural barriers exist.  And now I can’t keep myself from watching the trailer for World War Z.  Seriously, I gotta stop.

Next question was favorite band.  Kinsey’s?  One Direction.  Boo and boooooo.  Mine?  Close finish but probably Poison.  Def Leppard, Tesla, Guns N’ Roses and AC DC are all close finishers.  Kinda like Rick Springfield a little too.  And Huey Lewis.  Anway, it’s Poison.  Why?  Because they didn’t have any of the political statements or social commentary like all those asshat bands like Green Day.  They just wanted to rock out, drink beers and have a good time.   And when you consider that Poison was at it’s peak between ’88 and ’93 and when you also consider that I was between the ages of 18-23, I think the correlation is pretty clear.

Favorite Animal.  Hmm.  Well Kinsey’s was a dog.  Actually a puppy.  Mine?  Well I have two tied for first place.  Favorite animal 1A is one that isn’t my pet.  Love those animals.  Favorite animal 1B is one that will keep rabbits and chipmunks out of my yard, eat carrion and have the presence of mind not to live in the yard.  Used to be the Siamese cat that lived up the street.  Now it might be the opossum that lives in the neighborhood somewhere.  Both were pretty good enforcers.  Like Jason Statham but with fur.

Favorite Clothing Store.  Kinsey’s is Aeropostale.  I guess that’s fine.  If you’re 10.  And a girl.  Me?  Scheel’s.  Local sporting goods store.  Place has everything.  If it had its own microbrewery, I’d probably sleep in the store room.

Favorite Food.  This is a tough one.  Kinsey was really on target with her choice of donuts.  Can’t go wrong with donuts.  Some folks might go with pizza.  Myself?  Well, I considered a pizza made out of donuts.  But Donut Pizza isn’t really a thing.  Yet.  So naturally you’d move to cheesburgers here.  And I do like cheeseburgers.  But I’m really partial to one pot meals.  Or, in essence, a big pile of stuff I like mixed together.  Which is what nachos are.  Hence their perch atop my list of favorite foods.  Chips?  Good.  Cheese?  Good.  Jalapenos, black beans, onions, salsa, guacamole?  Also good.

Favorite Sport.  Kinsey had gymnastics.  Which I considered a small upset over softball.  But I’d venture a guess that Kinz’ favorite sport sorta moves with the seasons.  Mine does not.  Football.  Now if you were to ask me about my favorite sport to play then the answer would be cricket.  No, I’m kidding.  Cricket?  C’mon man you gotta be smarter than that.  Basketball.  Loved playing basketball.  But a couple of rearrangements to God’s design inside my knee kinda set that aside.  But nothing beats watching football.  Especially the NFL.  I even kinda miss the USFL every year around this time.  College basketball finishes a strong second.

Favorite Color.  Blue.  No, yellooooooooooooow…  Monty Python reference.  Kinsey’s is hot pink.  Not real sure here when it comes to me.  Probably Houston Oiler/Carolina/UCLA blue.  Do like cardinal and gold on Saturdays.  And black and gold on Sundays…

So I guess there you have it.  You’ve gained almost nothing from reading this.  Other than now contemplating how unprepared you are for the impending zombie apocalypse.



Foods or Communications & Media. This is the question we’re pondering. Which class is a better choice for our prospective 8th grader. Here are the class descriptions:

Foods: This semester course will provide students the opportunity to develop valuable kitchen skills as they work with others in the labs. Students will gain knowledge of kitchen safety and food sanitation through the preparation of items suchs as: pizza, muffins, biscuits, breads, vegetables, fruits, cookies and many other foods. Life long nutritious food choices are discussed and encouraged. The planning, preparation, serving and table etiquette are all life skills that are taught in the 8th grade food class.

Communications & Media: Unit of study will be chosen from the following media areas: newspaper, magazine, radio, television, and film making. Students will learn to recognize and understand the media’s importance and influence in the world and in their lives.

Or if I were to summarize:

Foods: Students will learn to make themselves actual meals without the injuring themselves and/or poisoning family or friends. They will learn how to make some healthy stuff along with pizza. Students will learn the fine art of Dad bribery through preparation and distribution of muffins and cookies. They will learn table etiquette skills that they will chose to ignore nearly always but will empower parents to scold them for simple etiquette infractions. Except for the whole hat indoors during meals thing. Because I’m a hat guy.

Communications & Media: Students will learn how to write for various mediums some of which may fail to exist by the time they graduate college. Skills they learn will allow them the ability to write in paragraphs instead of tweets. Hopefully. It will also allow them to update facebook and instagram with more informative posts and pictures.

I kid. And to be fair this decision isn’t being made in a vacuum. The 7th graders get to pick four electives for 8th grade. Each lasts a semester. Additionally, they have the option of picking an additional fifth elective which is scheduled opposite PE. Band, orchestra, chorus and study hall are the options here. PE and the elective alternate days.

Going into 7th grade Rye was doing both band and orchestra but with the way the schedule is set up, you have to choose. She chose to drop them both and have a study hall. We chose to change her choice. She was encouraged to pick sax or violin. She picked violin. Which was fine with me as the violin is about $70 cheaper to rent each month. That’s a win.

But as 7th grade rolls along it has become apparent that Rye is beginning to made decisions on activities that she is extrinsically motived to continue and which ones she is intrinsically motivated to continue. Softball gave way to additional dance classes/performances/other miscellaneous dance crap. Band gave way to orchestra which now is giving way to study hall. She doesn’t want to play violin anymore. Yes she’s invested 4 school years in learning how to play. And she’s not bad. But she has no plan or motivation to practice on her own or join the high school orchestra. And with her dance stuff taking up more and more time, and with her never complaining about going to any of those classes, I reasoned that a study every other day might not be a bad decision. Granted I wasn’t given the choice of having her take additional American History classes or anything on the NFL in the 70’s. You make the best decision with the options before you. I guess.

However there’s more to the story. We haven’t even begun to discuss the decision on the 4 electives. Here are her choices:

Foreign Language
Tech Ed which encompasses Graphics/Energy and Power and Exploring Technology.

She’s already decided to take Spanish which is a two semester commitment. That means she only has two choices left. She has expressed a great deal of interest in Drama. Personally I’m in favor of this. It will help her become comfortable in front of groups and teach her how to present herself, both verbally and non-verbally, to larger groups. These are skills that I want her to have. It’ll also sharpen my bullsh…crap detector. So Drama is approved.

At the parent info meeting I attended it was explained that Foods was the most popular elective choice for prospective 8th graders. And why wouldn’t it be? Without any additional electives on U.S. History covering the key period between 1898 and 1945, you are left to consider taking Foods.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do see value in this course and in the sewing course too as a matter of fact. Never learned how to sew. These classes actually teach some life skills and independence. Don’t underestimate how important teaching independence and self-reliance is to kids. Self-sufficiency and personal responsibility is not something in which Americans, especially parents, excel anymore. Too many parents are engaging in the wussification of our children. I blame the Baby Boomers. And the dearth of Saturday morning cartoon programming. Probably Oregon’s football uniforms too.

Anyway, In 7th grade the school exposes them to 4 subjects that they can choose to pursue as electives in 8th grade. They are art, tech ed, family consumer science, consumer education. Rye is just about done with the first three. Consumer ed starts in April.

In art they did, well, art. I guess. In Tech Ed they learned about power tools and built a clipboard and wood clock, engaged in computer aided design and discussed the physics of the rollercoaster. In family consumer science they had a laundry assignment, a cookie puzzle, some type of dish washing assignment, they had to make a locker caddy and a stuffed snowman. Waste of taxpayer dollars? I suppose you can make the argument. I’m not going to however. Kids need to learn this kind of stuff, at least some of it, in order to be self-reliant. Not everybody learns it at home.

But what it has come down to is Foods vs. Communication & Media. Graphics/Energy and Power and Exploring Technology were never under consideration. Sewing was also quickly dismissed by Rye.

She wants to take Foods. All her friends are doing it, the teacher is super nice and they get to go out to Mexican restaurant the last day of the semester. We’re leaning towards Communication & Media. I contacted the teacher and asked for some more details. She told me they look at newspaper, magazines, radio, TV, advertising and film. The class is responsible for the school newspaper. They publish their own magazine, create their own radio drama, and run their own newscast. Plus they spend time talking about the ways in which media affects their lives. I think this may serve her better than making cookies. Even if they are peanut butter cookies. Which I like. A lot.

It is a superpower…

I know where stuff is. At least within the confines of my house. Nothing is lost. You give me enough time and I find stuff. None of my kids have inherited this. Its infuriating. But maybe that’s a superpower that develops with age. Mom’s superpower is a bit more nebulous. But here is an example. Riley’s room is painted some shade of purple. On one wall is a small design that Mom painted back when Rye was little. It says “Dream” and it has some flowers. She wants it painted over now. No problem. Just need to find the paint can in the basement and hope it hasn’t dried up or worse. All we can find in our old paint cans is a color called Lilac Glacier. If the Titanic had hit a lilac glacier it would probably still be floating. Anyway, we open the can and it appears to be same the color. At least to me. Mom isn’t so sure. So we stir it up and she takes a sample upstairs.

Lilac Glacier, as it turns out, is not the predominant wall color. It’s too dark.

So she sends me downstairs to find the right color. Because I can find anything. After a thorough search reveals nothing, it is decided that we either used all the paint of that color or we threw away the can that revealed the correct color.

So we don’t know what the name of the correct paint color is. But we know it isn’t Lilac Glacier.


She spends a few seconds looking at the small sample that she painted with Lilac Glacier and quickly decides that while Lilac Glacier is in fact the wrong color, the right color is within the same family.

“What you mean like a cousin or a younger sibling?”

We originally bought the paint at Lowe’s and since we have to drop off Kinz and Bails at softball camp, we figured we’d drop by the store. Because Mom is pretty sure about this. So sure that she makes the bold statement that the correct color is two shades lighter than Lilac Glacier which means we just need to find the appropriate color swatch and buy the color two shades lighter.

What. Ever.

Nobody looks at two similar colors on a wall, conducts a scientific color analysis in their brain and correctly comes to the conclusion that the shade is two colors lighter. You need some kind of hypo-electric color analyzer to get that kind of accuracy.

Anyway we head to Lowe’s, Mom gives the paint guy the current wall color and he goes on a quest to find it.

Turns out the Lilac Glacier is discontinued but if we want it, he can mix it. Mom says no thanks BUT what we need is the color that is two shades lighter than Lilac Glacier. He pulls out the color swatch and the color that is exactly two shades lighter than Lilac Glacier is Ice Crystal. He says no problem he’ll mix it up. Mom asks for a sample in case she’s wrong.

“If you’re right about the color I will be seriously impressed. Like Dolphins-Chargers ’81 playoffs impressed when Don Strock came off the bench to throw for like 5 touchdowns and bring the fish back from a 24-0 deficit.”

“You know what, just give me a whole pint, it’s the right color.”

Who is that confident about eyeballing a paint color? Not this guy. You want to know who was in the ’86 Final Four, I can tell you.

Duke, Louisville, LSU and Kansas. Dad’s useless NCAA Tourney knowledge go boom.

But you want me to pick the correct color of the paint on my daughter’s bedroom wall by looking at it, taking a mental picture and then go to the store and match that mental photograph to a color swatch surrounded by a thousand other color swatches? No, I sincerely apologize, but I am unable to complete that task.

We pay for the pint of Ice Crystal and head home. Mom pops open the can, dips a paper towel in it and covers a small spot on the wall.


That, in case you don’t have a Mom translator, is the word she uses when she’s pleased with herself. She grabs a brush and covers the rest of the area she wanted to paint.

“Who is awesome?”

Again, for those of you without the translator, this is the question she asks when she expects, “you are” as the answer.

Seriously, there is no reasonable explanation for her ability to do this. It’s spooky. And weird. But it sure solves a lot of problems.

The Wind Chill and Birth Order

One of the things I found interesting both before and after we had kids are the theories on birth order and the resulting personality traits. For example, Parents Magazine says the first born tends to be reliable, conscientious, cautious, structured and an achiever. The middle kid is a people-pleaser, rebellious, thrives on friendships, has a large social circle and is a peacemaker. The last born is apt to be fun-loving, uncomplicated, manipulative, out-going and an attention-seeker.

All of the first born characteristics listed about can be confidently applied to Rye. She’s all of them. However, I think when you turn 13 your brain starts going through chemical changes and those changes continue for about a decade leading to, more often than not, questionable decision making. Unfortunately for us, this is just beginning with our oldest. This morning its -5 degrees outside as Rye is getting ready to walk to the bus stop. She puts on her winter coat, grabs her backpack and starts for the door. I notice that she’s as prepared for below zero weather as Chuck Hagel is to be Defense Secretary.

“Hey, what the heck are you thinking? Hello? Hat. Gloves. Other assorted military grade polar wear.”

“Hat will mess up my hair.”

“Good strategy. You know what else will mess up your hair? Siberian temps that freeze the moisture inside each strand making it brittle and susceptible to FALLING OFF! Put on a freaking hat.”

“I”ll wear my hood.”

“Fine. Do you have gloves?”


“Why aren’t you wearing them?”

“I don’t know.”

But she still proceeds to pull out these crappy thin knit gloves. Pretty sure your hands would be cold if it was 75 degrees out and you were wearing these. Her lack of brain activity now apparent, I just hand her some of Mom’s winter gloves and she’s off.

As you may recall Thursday is a big dance practice day. I do a good deal of taxi work. I also made the switch to picking up Kinz and Bails from school instead of having them ride the bus because it buys us an extra 10 minutes or so at home and helps us get to Bails’ dance class on time. Quick note, we have been on time exactly twice. Last week and yesterday. Class started in August by the way. Anyway, it was about 4 degrees outside when I arrived in the parent pickup line outside of school. There are about 15 cars in front of me. I was worried about being a bit late but the line of cars quickly relieved me of any concern. Then I see them. Bailey coming around the corner of the school, face cringed, coat unzipped, no hat, no gloves, backpack in tow. Kinsey in tears. Hat on, gloves on, carrying both backpack and clarinet. She opens the door and instead of unloading her stuff and getting in the car and thereby escaping the brutally cold weather, she immediately begins to scold me.

Talking through her tears she lets me know that I came too late and they were outside shivering. Shivering! I inquire as to why they simply didn’t wait inside the door instead of outside. Kinz explains they did but they came outside earlier to see if I was there and then went back in. So, just to explain, they get out of school at 3:55. They have to go to their lockers, get their winter coats on, grab their stuff and walk to the parent pickup door. I arrived at the school at 4:10. So its gotta take the them at least 5 minutes to get to the door. Than at least a minute to fight their way through the other kids to get outside in a spot where they can view the line of cars. Then another minute or so to get back inside the building to wait until I arrive. It took them less than 15 seconds to walk from the door to my truck. So, just to sum up, they were outside for approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

But she’s in tears. This is typical Kinsey behavior. Typical middle child behavior? Hmm, let’s review. People-pleasing? No, not in this case. Rebellious? Yes, but it doesn’t really pertain here. Thrives on friendship and has a large social circle, both true but not relevant. Peacemaker? Definitely but not real sure how that applies. Prone to exaggerate the effects of cold weather on human skin? Yes, yes she does exhibit that type of behavior. Overly dramatic when she wants to make a point? Yes, yes that is something at which she excels.

I look at Bails with what must have a look of disgust mixed with some astonishment and possibly a bit of indifference. Her response?

“Don’t look at me Dad. I wasn’t crying. Not even that cold.”

Uncomplicated. This is a last born child trait that I am going to reinforce in Bails with every fiber of my being.