Sunday, July 23, 2017

What Have I Missed...?

It has been more than 6 months since I last wrote something on this blog. I've had some good intentions, but for some reason or another I haven't sat down and actually typed out anything. It's been too long, at least in my opinion. You might have a differing opinion, but nobody asked you. :)

Let's see, since the last time I wrote, some things have happened around here...everybody in our house has gotten exactly the same number of days older. I am not smart enough to know if that's just a coincidence or not... The Baby is now closer to 2 than to 1, and she can climb pretty much anything you put in front of her, even if it's not supposed to be "climbable". She also is starting to speak a little English, which is good because that's the language the rest of us in the house speak. If she starts to speak German or some other crazy language, it will make me wonder what's going on... When you think about it, though, me wondering what's going on is not that big of a deal, since I often wonder what's going on in life, even when I am supposed to know what's going on. If you didn't follow that last sentence, ask my Wife. That's what I always do...

Since the last time I wrote, everyone in our house, other than the Baby, has had a birthday. I think it is safe to say that we all got exactly what we wanted for our birthdays, however I also got about 15,000 more gray hairs/whiskers. The Wife keeps telling me I am starting to look sophisticated. Makes me wonder what she thought I looked like before all the gray hairs arrived... Maybe I don't want to know...

Not only did 5 out of the 6 of us humans in our house have birthdays, this very blog had a birthday. Yes, Chaotic Kids & Clutter turned 5 years old on May 12th. Nobody threw the blog a party, and in fact the blog'c creator, Me, didn't realize it had turned 5 until a couple of days ago. Back in the day I would have made a big deal about it, but now I haven't been blogging as much, so it slipped by without notice. The best I can do now is include some random party picture up and vow to do better next year. We'll see how it goes.
Random party pic

Friday, January 20, 2017

It Ain't Christmas Anymore...

It's been over a month since I last blogged here at CK&C. This might be the longest hiatus I have taken since I started this blog almost 5 years ago. I didn't try to take a hiatus, it just kind of happened on its own accord. I even started to write a post about our Christmas celebration a couple of weeks ago, but I only got about two sentences in before something came up and I had to put it on hold. I guess I could have gone back and finished that one today, but for some reason a recap of our Christmas celebrating seems a little dated now. If you are one of the people who were particularly fond of the aforementioned hiatus, I thank you to keep your thoughts to yourself!

I haven't taken the time to write because I have been spending some of my free time doing other things. Mostly tying flies. I have a fairly sizable order of flies I need to tie for one of our local fly shops, and instead of doing it my usual way, which means waiting until the last week and then tying them as fast as I can whilst funneling Mountain Dew down my gullet for a caffeine boost, I started tying a couple of months in advance of the due date, tying a few here and a few there, without the aid of any performance enhancing sodas. It's been very enjoyable, and I am getting closer and closer to having the 14 dozen flies tied well before the actual due date. What a novel idea! Why didn't I think of doing things this way earlier in life, like say in Kindergarten...? I guess we'll never know.
Toby's favorite Christmas present, a mini Toby. Too bad it isn't actually his present...

Since the last time I wrote we have had some other excitement in our house. First of all, the Baby got pneumonia, which is always a hoot. Then the Girl got a tummy bug, just like everyone else in her school, but thankfully it did not transfer to anybody else in our house, which is amazing.

I know I said I wasn't going to recap our Christmas, but we did have a good one. We even met our newest great-niece for the first time, which was awesome. And she didn't give us her RSV or strep throat, which was even better.

Now, I am ready for Spring. Hopefully I will write again before it gets here.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Respite

I was forced to take a few days off from life. Medical reasons. The Doctor told me to, and I almost always do what the Doctor tells me to do. Almost.

This time the Doctor told me to take it easy. Kick back. Put my legs up. And don't lift anything over 10 pounds for a week. Don't tell the Missus, but I was kind of excited about all of those things. I was looking forward to getting caught up on a bunch of TV shows that I have started to watch but then forgotten about. Instead of that, though, I have spent a lot of time reading one of my favorite books, The View From Rat Lake by John Gierach, for the 8th or 9th time. I'm sure you've read it... Not sure why I decided to read instead of watch, but I felt pretty good about my decision.
I was doing a lot of this for the past few days...

The one thing I was not anticipating during this medical time off was how much I would miss holding the Baby, who weighs much more than 10 pounds. She recently has been in a sort of "Daddy phase", following me around, calling out "Dada! Dada! Dada!", and holding her arms up to tell me she wants me to lift her up. During my medical respite, she would walk over to the chair I was lounging in, put her hands on my legs, and say "Dada! Dada! Dada!", but then look at me with a puzzled look when I didn't immediately grasp her in my arms. It kind of broke my heart...

So, I am currently on day 4 of my week-long medical sabbatical. I am slowly getting back into the flow of life. I am not kicking back with my feet up anymore. And I'm not completely taking it easy either. And, to be honest, I could only say no to my beautiful little girl for a couple of days. Hey, this might be the only "Daddy phase" she ever goes through! Don't tell the Doctor, ok?

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Car-tastic Weekend or Lucky Number 13

The past few days have been super-de-duper, at least as far as our vehicles go. Or, in some cases, don't go...

It all started at about 5:30 on a Friday evening. I was making my way from work up to my parents' place, which is about a half hour north of work. We head up there most Fridays for a family dinner, which was delicious, by the way. The brussel sprouts were exceedingly yummy, along with everything else. But, especially the brussel sprouts...

But I digress. As I was making my way up towards my parents' house on some back roads, a car's headlights appeared out of nowhere in my rearview mirror. I had not noticed anyone behind me just prior to that, so the appearance of these headlights seemed rather odd. They got closer and closer to the back of my car, which also seemed odd. It seemed like the person driving the car wanted me to speed up, but I knew better. I suspected it might have been a police officer, who would probably pull me over as soon as I sped up. I wasn't about to give him or her the satisfaction, though. I stayed right at the speed limit. And he pulled me over any way! Turned out I had a headlight that was out (I wrote "Turned out" to make it seem like I didn't already know about the dead headlight. Pretty tricky, huh?)

So, the nice police officer pulled me over for my headlight that was out. As I sat anxiously in my car while he was back at his car, checking out my info, I wasn't sure what to expect. You see, I have been tempting fate with police officers for a long time. In fact, the last 12 times that I had had the chance to meet a police officer face-to-face, they had only given me warnings, no tickets. I was on a great streak, but even I knew my streak could end at any moment. But not this time! Yup, for the 13th straight time, I only received a warning. I don't know what to attribute it to, but the police seem to like me. Let's hope this streak lasts for another 13 visits!

Later that same evening, before I had a chance to go to the store to get a replacement bulb for my headlight, the Wife took the same car to our local large retail grocery store, which happens to rhyme with "Dub", and on the way home one of our friendly local police officers pulled her over for the very same headlight. I am happy to say that she was only given a warning, as well. I am especially happy to say that because if she had gotten a ticket right after I had only gotten a warning, I may not be here today to write this blog post...

Throughout that whole evening of getting pulled over multiple times, I knew the car was getting low on gas. But I didn't really want to drive it anywhere that night to get gas, for fear of getting pulled over again. I didn't have a reason to drive it again until the following Monday morning, which was a rather cold day. On cold mornings I have the habit of going out to warm up whichever cars are going to be driven, which on that day included both the car and the van. After several minutes of warming up, I got in the car and headed to work. I got about a quarter of a mile from our house, and was still about a quarter of a mile from our nearest gas station, when the car abruptly ran out of gas. It was the second time this has happened to me in my life, but the first time was in the dead of summer about 25 years ago. This time, as I ran home to get my gas can, it was much colder, and not nearly as fun. If you ever run out of gas, I would suggest you try to do it in the summer. Thankfully, the Wife came and picked me up in the van, taking me to the gas station to fill the gas can. All was swell, and I even got the headlight replaced later that day. So, hopefully, my 14th visit with a police officer won't be for a long time.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Time To Give Thanks

A couple of weeks ago I was seriously contemplating writing a blog post that would have been titled "Things That Make Me Wish I Still Drank". You see, I don't drink any more, but sometimes there are things in life that make me wish I did still drink, like all of the sports teams in Minnesota, my home state. It would have been a slightly tongue-in-cheek list of things that tend to irk me more than other things, and I did start to put a list together in my head, but I never put it in writing, because it seemed as though a list of that sort might come off as a bunch of complaining on my part, and I typically don't like to complain, despite how it may seem here on the blog.

I really do have way more things to be thankful for than to complain about, and since it's Thanksgiving and all, I thought I would make that list instead. So, here is my list of Things I Am Thankful For Today, Thursday, November 24th, 2016:

Four great kids who are happy, healthy and who sometimes listen; A wife who I adore and who creates super cute kids who look like her; A couple of dogs that act happy to see me despite my less-than-optimal skills at being a dog owner; Brown trout; The ability to learn something new every day of my life; Friends who laugh at my silliness; Fly rods, the most amazing tool man has ever created; The grace and forgiveness offered to me by Jesus Christ; The ability to dream and be creative; Brook trout; Soft hair; The fact that goatees never go out of style, at least in my mind; Food of all kinds; Anxiety meds; Brakes that stop our cars even after I have changed the brake pads; A family who gets along with the Wife's family; Bluegills; Living in a country that has very minor problems when compared to other places; Springtime; Aquatic insects; Rainbow trout; Phones that are faster and more powerful than my computer at work; MyPillow; Playing catch; The Baby's giggles; The Little One's silliness; The Boy's goofiness; The Girl's thoughtfulness; People who read my blogs; The fact that the Wife and I pretty much have the same opinions about everything; Cheese (I know I already listed "food of all kinds", but cheese deserves special consideration); A working furnace; A great church family; Quality footwear; A high pain tolerance; Fast food; Slow food; Eggs (see Cheese, above); Lakes; Rivers; Creeks; Bass; Music with a good beat; Genetically-grown chickens (you would probably have to be a fly tyer to understand this one); Cousints; and countless other things that I thought of at 3:30 this morning but can't recall now that I am actually mostly awake.

Life is pretty awesome, and I am thankful for so much. I asked the three kids who are old enough to know more than 1 or 2 words of English to write down what they are thankful for. Here's what they wrote:
Not sure what kind of "drinks" he's talking about...
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Chaotic Kids & Clutter!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Birthday Baby

The Baby turns 1 today! Woot woot!! She has been waiting for this day for weeks. I could tell that she was sick and tired of being 0, and was super excited to finally be a real number. What a silly girl!

This first year of her life has flown by. I have two theories as to why that is. First, I am really old, and I recently realized that as I get older, time goes faster, making me get older much more quickly than I used to. And, that also makes the Baby get older much faster than our other kids did at this age...

The second reason that this first year of the Baby's life went by so fast is that her closest sibling, as far as age goes, otherwise known as the Little One here on the ol' blog, was such a stinker for her entire first year that that first year seemed to take about 12 years. And her second year didn't get any better. That seemed to take about 14 years. Thankfully, once she turned 2, some kind of internal switch got flipped, so she now is happy, kind, and silly about 92% of the time, and only makes us want to pull our hair out about 8% of the time. So, compared to the first year of the Little One's life, this first year of the Baby's life has flown by.

We aren't going to have a birthday party for the Baby today. Since it is so close to Thanksgiving, we will just celebrate on Thursday when everyone is already together. The Wife says that she will make the Baby a birthday cupcake for her to devour after dinner. Along those same lines, I think it would be cool to also make her her own Cornish game hen so she doesn't have to eat any of our turkey. Not sure if that will happen...Actually, I do know that that is not going to happen. Maybe next year, when the Baby will be double her current age. Woot woot!
I have a feeling we will be celebrating the Baby's birthday on Thanksgiving most years, so she better get used to this view...

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Movie Review?!?!

The Wife and I never go to the movies. Even when we were dating and she was known as the Girlfriend, we
hardly ever went to a movie. We will occasionally take our kids to a movie, but usually when we do, just one of us goes. If I take the kids, the Wife stays home and gets some stuff done. If she takes the kids, I stay home and nap. In fact, as far back as I can remember, the only times the two of us went to a movie together, we only went because I had won tickets via some kind of contest or on-air radio giveaway. But, we went to a movie last night!

And guess what! We won these tickets, too! Only this time, the Wife won them. She's so awesome! I'm not really sure what she did to win them, but I know it was some kind of contest that Visa was doing. I could make a typical wife joke and say that maybe they were giving them away to the person who charged the most $ on their Visa card, but in reality I probably charge more than she does, and I don't want to give her any extra ammunition to use at a later date. So let's just say she got us entered into the contest somehow, and she won! Woot woot.

So, we got exclusive tickets to a pre-screening of that new Harry Potter prequel that is opening today...what's it called? Oh yes, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. I have not read any of the Harry Potter books, or the prequels, so I had no idea what this new movie was going to be about, or if it would be something I would enjoy, but it was free! And, it turns out, it was pretty good. Not great by any means, but interesting and entertaining. I wasn't always sure what was going on, but hey, when am I? Almost never, that's when.

Did I mention that it was in 3D? When I found that out, right as we were walking into the theater, I got a little uneasy. My tummy, and brains, and every other part of me has been known to get a little queasy at certain times, and I was worried that a 3D movie might trigger an eruption. But, I got through it with no problems, so that made it even better!

Throw in a free popcorn and soda for both of us, and a collectible movie poster that we are sure to keep for the next 25 or so years before we finally decide to toss it, and the night couldn't have gotten any better. I give the free movie, free popcorn, free soda, free poster, and a barf-free night two enthusiastic thumbs up. We should win free tickets more often! 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Parenting Wins

If you think about it, parenting can be hard, but let's not focus on that. I prefer to focus on the things that go right in our parenting, otherwise known as parenting wins. Sometimes they can be few and far between, but recently I've had a few, and as always, I am happy to share them with you, whether you want to hear them or not...

All day long yesterday, all of our kids who can speak English, otherwise known as the Girl, the Boy, and the Little One, were walking around singing a song that I have occasionally sung to them at ni-night time. This is not your typical lullaby, or even a typical song that a parent would ever sing to their kids, or even a song that many people would probably know the words to. But I do, and since there is always a song playing in my internal jukebox, sometimes I just have to let them out for my kids to hear. That's what I did with this song a couple of weeks ago, and after singing it for them just a couple more times, they all seemed to get it stuck in their heads. The fact that my kids would sing one of my songs makes me super happy and proud, and the fact that my kids are probably the only 4, 6, and 7-year-olds at their schools who know this song makes me even happier. Take a listen to Cars by Gary Numan, my kids' favorite new song.

Saturday morning the Boy was being his normal Boy self, acting silly, sometimes raucous, teasing his sisters, squeezing the dogs, and generally being a blur of chaotic activity. This is all normal, but what wasn't normal was how he was saying "Hello!" in a high-pitched, whiny voice every time he entered a room. It was as
though his inner being had been taken over by TV's Squiggy from the Laverne & Shirley show. If you aren't as culturally advanced as we are, you may not know that Squiggy might be the best character in the History of  Television Sit-Coms, other than his sidekick Lenny, and he had a peculiar way of entering a room. If you need a refresher, watch this:

I have to believe that the Boy did not sit down one night and watch a Laverne & Shirley marathon on MeTV, so the only way he could have learned about Squiggy is from his Old Man. It makes me so happy to know that my kids actually listen to me once in a while. Win! Woot woot.

Those are my two recent parenting wins. Oh, other than the fact that all of our kids are brilliant, kind, obedient, and beautiful/handsome, but I would say those are more of their Mom's parenting wins than they are mine, although I am happy to take the credit...


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Election Thoughts

Oh man, I just can't get enough of this election. Hasn't it been fun? And here I thought all the fun would end after the results came in at the end of Election Day. I thought that once the results were in, and one of the candidates was declared the winner, life would go back to normal and everyone would stop talking about the candidates until January, when whoever won would take office. But no, now that it's over, people are talking about it even more, and some of them don't seem too happy about the outcome...I never knew how much fun it would be to hear half the country complaining at the same time. What a blast!! If you couldn't tell, this paragraph should have been read in a completely sarcastic tone.

Well, since everyone else wants to keep talking about the election, I thought we would hold our own election here in the Chaotic Kids & Clutter offices, also known as our kitchen. In the past month or so, we have become a family filled with English Muffin lovers, and we always get the best, Thomas' English Muffins, also known as "The Original Nooks and Crannies English Muffin". It's true that Thomas' muffins are filled with nooks and crannies, but which part of the English Muffin would win the popular vote, the Nook or the Crannie? I decided to go around the room and ask everyone which part of the English Muffin they would vote for.

Here are the results:

Obviously, since I am the only person in the room who would come up with an election like this, I went first. The Nooks are really fun, but then again, I've always liked a good Crannie...after as much deliberation as I could pack into the time it took me to swallow my bite, I decided to vote for Crannie.

Total: Crannie 1, Nook 0

Next I asked the Girl, who is right behind me when it comes to English Muffin love. I probably shouldn't have let her hear which one I voted for, but I did, so she seconded my vote for Crannie.

Total: Crannie 2, Nook 0

After the Girl, I asked the Little One. She does not eat as many English Muffins as the Girl or me, but she has been known to scarf one down if it's got a big ol' slab of hard butter on it (she is definitely her daddy's girl! Woot woot!) She didn't seem to know the difference between a nook and a crannie (remember, she's only 4), but after some careful thought, she voted for Nook.

Total: Crannie 2, Nook 1

The Boy was nowhere to be found.

Total: Crannie 2, Nook 1

The Baby crams bites of dry English Muffin into her mouth as fast as she can, without any butter, which proves that she might be deranged. Also, she can't speak a lick of English.

Total: Crannie 2, Nook 1

I think the Wife was tired of my shenanigans, or at least I assumed she would be, so I didn't get up enough courage to ask her...

Final Vote Tally: Crannie 2, Nook 1

The Winner: Crannie, in a landslide!

Congratulations to Crannie on its amazing win. I only hope that it doesn't let this victory go to its head and do something stupid like bomb North Korea. I don't want to regret voting for it...

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloweird

Today is Halloween. You would think that, with four young children in our house, my Halloween would probably be extremely busy, walking our kids around the neighborhood, rushing back to the house to get them ready for bed, handing out candy to the hooligans who drop by our house, things like that. But no. I had what turned out to be a very quiet and almost relaxing evening at home with the Boy and the Baby. Well, as relaxing as it could be with a very rambunctious and curious 11-month-old crawling around and getting into everything.

The whole family had gone to a local church's Trunk-Or-Treat event last night, which went fairly well, I thought, except the Baby did not like wearing her enormous, fuzzy ladybug costume AT ALL. The other three kids got a good amount of candy and saw some friends, and had a good time.
Writing about Halloween candy made me realize that I have never once gotten a Whatchamacallit bar, the World's Greatest Candy Bar, for Halloween. And my kids haven't either...We need to fix that next year.

For the Boy, though, that apparently was enough Halloween for this year. Today he decided he would rather stay home and hand out candy instead of putting his costume back on and walking around the neighborhood. I would understand if he had a very complex costume or if it required a lot of makeup or something like that, but his pirate costume is literally comprised of a bandanna and a blue vest, which he could wear over whatever clothes he already happened to be wearing. It is about the easiest and least cumbersome costume in the history of Halloween, yet he chose to not wear it.

Since we already knew the Baby also did not particularly like her costume, I decided to keep her home with me and the Boy while the Wife took the other two kids out to a friend's house, and the three of us had a fun time. We scarfed down some fried chicken, we handed out candy to the few people who showed up, we all yelled at the dogs to try to get them to stop barking whenever the doorbell rang...it was a fun night of bonding. Maybe this weird way of not going trick-or-treating will become a new Halloween tradition...Nah, I need them to get me some candy!