Somehow this involves Bob Seger

So this is the busiest time of the year for Mom and I. My job just gets stupid with the lack of a definable schedule and the girls’ activities get crazier than Biden at a Daughters of the American Revolution mixer. Got home from work around 11 last Tuesday night and then Wednesday I found myself driving back and forth on the same stretch of pavement three times within 90 minutes. Two girls at church, one girl at softball and one city cop running radar. He didn’t get me. But I felt like I should have been waving the last time I passed him humming The Last Mile by Cinderella to myself. Things could be worse though. I could have made fun of Mitt Romney and his claims that Russia is our greatest geopolitical foe in a 2012 presidential debate and laughed heartily with the media sheep when I jabbed him with a one-liner about how 1980’s called and wanted their foreign policy back. That would really suck if I did that and then found myself getting outmaneuvered and verbally punched in the face by Putin on a daily basis. Anyway, Kinz had to be picked up from softball at 7:00. Bails had to be picked up from church at 7:30. And Rye had to be picked up from the same church at roughly 8:00.

The sucky part was that each trip is about 10 minutes. Short enough that I could get each one of them home before heading back out to get the next. Well, you’re snootily thinking to yourself, if the church and softball fields are so close why don’t you just pick up Kinz from the fields, then head over to church and get Bails and then hang out and get churched up a bit while waiting for Rye to be done?

Sounds reasonable. If you’re dumb. And your kids all get along swimmingly instead of being total jerks to each other. You’re saying c’mon, all that driving back and forth is a waste of gas and it’s bad for the environment. Oh, is it? Hmm, really? You know what else is bad for the environment? The fallout from a nuclear freaking eruption. Because that’s what was coming if I had to deal with the girls unprovoked fights with other in that absolutely maddening teenagerly girlish method of jerkiness. Especially after a day when I had to work until 10:30. At night. I mean the uneccessary levels of fight picking are astounding. Like the levels of cheesiness from Kip Winger in the Can’t Get Enuff video.

Plus, and those of you with experience will back me up on this, any benefit gained from getting to spend some one on one time with the girls whilst driving them back and forth pales in comparison to the peace achieved by staggering their bathroom/shower times. Don’t underestimate this. The harmony achieved by doing this is stunning. Like Reagan and Gorbachev at Reykjavik in ’86.

So it was tough to decide if the one on one time with the girls or the peace and tranquility was better. It was a difficult debate. Like trying to pick a top 3 for Bob Seger. Night Moves, Even Now, You’ll Accompany Me, Against the Wind…wait crap that’s four and I haven’t even mentioned Hollywood Nights, Main Street or Fire Inside. Dammit. Or tyring to decide who has a better moustache between Seger or Sam Elliot. Or who is a better story teller – Seger or Billy Joel. Irrespective of all of that, I’m hoping my schedule is a bit more conducive to patience this week. We’ll see…

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Okinawa and our Basement

So we’re sitting on the couch in the family room watching The Goldberg’s on Tuesday night. Once again, the show was hilarious. Amazing how they nail it every single time. But while we’re enjoying the show a skinny blond 4th grader appears behind us. And she’s in tears. Sobbing. The kind of sobbing that is so powerful she can’t really form words without inadvertent snorts and the signs of hyperventilation occurring.

“I keep ruining everything!”

Now regardless of what is happening at the moment in time when you hear this, you are not expecting the result to be positive. All that you’re wondering is whether you’re going to be unhappy or pissed off when you find out what it is that has occurred to elicit this statement. I mean it is a 4th grader that uttered the words. She could have torn her favorite pajama pants. She could have let all her sharpie markers dry out by not securing the caps after the last use. Really, the words about ruining everything, and the volume at which they are spoken, are not themselves cause for rage.

magnumBut there are times throughout our lives when our mettle is tested. It happened to the marines in Hue back in ’68. It happened to the Steelers on that cold December day just before Christmas in ’72. It happened to Magnum in ’82 when he was forced to kill Ivan to prevent him triggering more Communist sleeper agents in the U.S. And it happened to Mom and I on Tuesday night.

“Bails, what are you talking about?”

“I was painting my toenails and…”

If you have girls, never in the history of parenting has anything that combined hysterical sobbing and a reference to toenail painting ever ended in something awesome. NEVER. No 4th grade girl has ever said while sobbing, “Dad I was painting my toenails and I remembered that you got a phone call last night from Bruce Willis, Lynn Swann and Paul Ryan. They wanted you to go lunch with them and maybe hang out afterwards.” That has never happened.

You know what does happen when a sobbing 4th grader tells you she was painting her toenails? You voice, in rising alarm, the following sentence:

“WHERE WERE YOU DOING THIS!?!?!?!?!”

The answer you’re looking for involves the phrase, “on top of a plastic tarp.” Instead we hear this:

“In the basement and…”

Quickness, turns out, is highly influenced by circumstances. Also turns out purple nail polish does not blend into the sandy colored carpet in our basement. What purple nail polish does do however is form itself into a stain roughly the shape of Okinawa. On a smaller scale of course.

Other relevant facts to this situation include the fact that during the fall Bails decided to paint her fingernails on the kitchen table. The only thing between the kitchen table and the nail polish was a single sheet of newspaper. Turns out newspaper is powerless against the destructive chemical agents present in Fuchsia Shock. Other things that yield to the power of nail polish? The finish on our kitchen table.

So, learning from that mistake and what was sternly explained to her, Bails decides that painting her nails on the brand new family room coffee table this winter is a better idea. Now in possession of the information regarding the uselessness of newspaper to defend against the muscle of finger nail centric cosmetics, she figured that a single paper towel would do the trick.

It didn’t.

Lucky for her I happened to walk into the family room at almost the exact instant she realized that some polish had found its way onto the paper towel and had begun the devastating process of literally eating its way through the paper towel, the coffee table’s finish, the coffee table itself, the first floor of our house and likely all the way to China. As a reminder we have a very small remnant of the aforementioned paper towel still stubbornly clinging to the coffee table. Damn thing is like the Congressional Dems insisting the IRS and Lois Lerner didn’t target conservative groups.

All of this is going through my mind as I look at the purple map of Okinawa on our basement carpet. So here are some things that don’t help remove nail polish from carpet. Swearing. It doesn’t help. I tested it. Repeatedly. Intuitively you think it should. But its just one of those weird things that just doesn’t do the things you hoped it would. Crying also doesn’t help. Bails tested it. A lot. Saying “This is the THIRD FREAKING TIME!” over and over again while increasing your volume doesn’t help. Also not helpful is your 6th grader sitting on the couch watching TV while all of this happens. Seriously. She claimed ignorance. Didn’t see the spill, didn’t see the botched clean-up effort from Bails, barely noticed she left the room in tears.

Turns out, thanks to the internet, I learned rubbing alcohol is helpful. Once I got to the stain and tested the swearing theory I ran back up the stairs, grabbled my laptop and googled “removing nail polish from carpet.”

Supplies needed: paper towels, sponge, rubbing alcohol. Also clearly outlined was the need to act quickly. You soak up any excess polish by dabbing, not rubbing, the carpet strands with the paper towel. Then you put some rubbing alcohol on the sponge and slowly and patiently dab the carpet until the stain is removed – providing you acted quickly enough in the first place. Then when the stain is no longer visible, you use paper towel to soak up any excess rubbing alcohol. Lastly you consume alcohol in beer form to celebrate your victory. I added that last part.

So it turns out getting nail polish out of carpet isn’t impossible. Who knew?

The Time Has Come

It’s called different things in different states. The Department of Transportation, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Condescending Slowness. Regardless, nobody likes to go there. Yet we must. A couple Fridays ago, I took Rye to get her learner’s permit. Yes America, one of my offspring is legally allowed to be on the road behind the wheel of thousands of pounds of steel. Oh and when you start running down the things that make stare your age right in the face, getting a learner’s permit for your child is right up there with not understanding the appeal of the Buccaneers new uniforms or realizing that Purple Rain is 30 years old.

Not a misprint. 30 years. Other things that are 30 years old? Ren’s battle with Reverend Moore for the right to dance in Bomont.

Anyway, the bonus was that it only took about 90 minutes to get the damn thing. Which, if your’re prepared for it, isn’t that bad. Plus there were plenty of seats for us to occupy while we waited. Because that’s what you do for nearly the entire time you’re there. You wait. You wait in line to get into the place, then you wait in your seat until they call your number, then you go back to your seat while your 14 year old daughter takes a written test, then you wait until they call your name in order to ask your daughter several questions before they can approve her for the learner’s permit. One of those questions for Rye was, “Do you have any mental problems?”

Umm…does butter fly? Does a picket fence? Did Falco once ask alles klar, Herr Kommissar?

I mean how are you supposed to honestly answer this question? Do you mean diagnosed problems? Well, no, but dude, she’s a 14 year girl. Mental problems are a daily thing. Like spandex pants in a David Lee Roth video. But just to keep the system moving, I confirmed her “No” as the correct answer. You don’t want to be the guy that slows down the efficiency of the Driver’s License system. It’s a well-oiled bureaucratic symphony. Thankfully once you are done with all the questions they finally, finally give a paper copy of the permit. The real permit won’t arrive in the mail for a couple weeks.

But that means she can drive legally with us in the car. So on the following Saturday morning we did just that. And we had a good time. Mostly because I stopped and bought donuts. And a 44 oz. Diet Pepsi. And that my friends makes everything better. We drove around our neighborhood. It was here when I discovered that at this point in her development, Rye needs to warm up. You can’t just ask her to back out of the driveway or to navigate major streets cold. She needs a little time to acclimate to the vehicle. How did I realize this? She tried to take a turn at nearly 40 mph. Lesson learned.

After that we kinda developed our own little course which was essentially a large rough triangle of roads. Inside said triangle she had pretty much free reign. But once we hit the major roads on the edges of the triangle, I limited her to right turns. What? No left turns is a good strategy for beginning drivers. We’re trying to build confidence. For both of us…