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


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 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!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Book Fair, Times 2

I wrote last spring about all the craziness that happened when I volunteered at the Book Fair at the Girl's school. When you pack a bunch of small children into a small area and add in approximately 4 billion books, toys, and other kid-themed paraphernalia, it can get pretty crazy. Despite that craziness, I didn't not have fun at that Book Fair, so I decided to volunteer again this fall. I thought I was ready for whatever those kids could throw at me, and it turned out I was, for the most part.

This year all of the volunteers who were working my shift already had Book Fair experience, meaning we all knew how to run the cash registers, which is the trickiest part of the job. Since I was the last to arrive, and the other two volunteers were already ringing kids up on the two cash registers, I took on the task of roaming around, watching to make sure nothing got pilfered, keeping my eye on all the hooligans, and straightening up the messes after they left. This job made me feel like a tough guy enforcer, which is what I see myself as most of the time any way, so it was fun. I had the chance to work on my glare, which should reap benefits at home. If there are any new dads out there reading this, one of the most important things to learn is how to have a good glare. Your hooligans, I mean kids, will wilt at the first sign of your glare, if you practice it often, and soon they won't even think about being naughty. At least, that's a theory I am working on. Apparently my glare still needs some work...

Back to the Book Fair, things were going quite well, again almost to the point of being fun, and roaming around let me check out more of the books than I was able to last year. There was even a table of books geared towards adults. I can't imagine any of the kids actually thinking about buying their parents a book as a gift, so I can only assume these books were for the teachers to peruse. One thing I noticed amongst these "adult" books (There weren't any of those kind of adult books, you pervert! Get your head out of the gutter!) was that a lot of cookbooks nowadays are shaped like the food that they specialize in. Maybe it's always been this way, but it sure seemed odd to me. There was a chocolate cookbook that was shaped like a bar of chocolate with a bite taken out of one corner; there was a pizza cookbook shaped like a pizza; and there was even a pasta cookbook shaped like a box of angel hair pasta. I don't know if the recipes in these books were any good, but the covers sure made me hungry! Not hungry enough to buy the books, but definitely hungry enough to go out and eat whatever I could get my hands on.

Other than the cookbooks, the most memorable thing about the Book Fair was when a small lad of about 6 or 7 started leafing through the Monster Survival Guide, pictured below. It took him about 10 seconds to find what he needed in it, and then blurt out, not quite at the top of his lungs, "I FINALLY KNOW HOW TO KILL A WEREWOLF!!!" I had no idea that kind of knowledge was so vital for a young boy to have, but he seemed like it completely made his day. Knowing the proper way to kill a pretend creature, like a werewolf, is one thing. But knowing how to defeat a real-life beast, like a tough-guy dad with a mean glare, is another thing altogether! Excuse me while I go practice some more...

Friday, October 14, 2016

That Time of Year

Well, it's that time of year again. The weather is getting colder, the stores are full of Halloween costumes, I am forced to stop wearing shorts and put on some full-length pants much to my chagrin, and the mice are starting to move indoors again.

We have had a mice problem in our house ever since we moved in. Actually, we think it started well before we moved in, but don't tell the previous owners, my in-laws, that. I can't actually remember what kind of evidence first prompted me to think we had mice in our basement, but when we tore down all the walls down there during our renovation about 3 years ago and found 17 dead mice behind the old sheetrock, that pretty much cemented the idea in my brain.

Since then I have killed another 43 mice with my own two hands. Or, to be more precise, with the mouse traps I bought with my own two hands. If you aren't very good with math, I will take out my trusty calculator and tell you that 17 + 43 equals a total of 60 mice we have had in our house in the last 3-and-a-half years. To paraphrase my favorite philosopher Larry the Cable Guy, I don't care who you are, that's a lot of mice.
Just one of sixty.

If you were to inspect every inch of the outside of our house with a magnifying glass or a fine-tooth, mouse-sized comb, like we sort of have, you may think that there is only one place that they could be getting in: a small hole next to the back step that leads from the garage into the backyard. Knowing that, I recently filled the hole with enough steel wool to choke a rabid wolverine, which I am hoping is enough steel wool to keep the mice from getting in.

Proud of my accomplishment, I told the Wife that we probably won't be seeing any more mice any time soon. She didn't seem too certain of that, citing the fact that the pesky critters could already be in the house and we just haven't caught them yet. I know she could be right, and deep down I kind of hope she is. Killing mice is fun! I love this time of year!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Du Liebst Mich! Du Really Liebst Mich!

If you hadn't already noticed, the title of this post is not in English. It is supposed to be in German, or as the German people say, "Deutsch". I still can't figure out why we English speakers call Deutsch "German" when the Deutsch people themselves call it Deutsch. You would think that if a group of peoples wanted their language to be known as "Deutsch", the least we could do would be to call it that. I don't understand the English language sometimes...

I also really don't understand German, despite having taken 3.5 years of German classes during High School. If my teacher for all of those German classes, Frau Peggy (which translates to Mrs. Nancy in English) were to hear me speak German now, she would probably smack me upside the head with a schnitzel. I could always tell that she secretly wanted to do that to me back in high school, but thankfully, in America, we have rules against that. I'm glad I didn't grow up in Deutschland...

I am talking all of this Deutsch gibberish because this blog, Chaotic Kids & Clutter, was recently nominated for the Liebster Award! Woot woot! You may be asking yourself, "Self, what exactly is a Liebster Award?" Don't worry, I asked myself that too. Apparently the Liebster Award is a German blogging award, given out to bloggers across the globe who also don't know exactly what it is. But, really, when it comes down to it, an award is an award, am I right? And we here at Chaotic Kids & Clutter will accept any award they are handing out. Woohoo!!

There are rules that one must follow once one is nominated for the Liebster Award, and I am very good at following rules, as well as making up rules. Just ask my kids. So, here goes:

Rule #1: Thank the person who nominated me.
I was nominated by Jesse Zahrt, from the average jester blog. Jesse is one of my favorite bloggers because he is also from Minnesota, he is also 42 years of age, he also blogs about his children much of the time, and because he has a last name that is fun to say and that sounds German, or possibly Deutsch, depending on where he was born...

Rule #2: Display the Liebster Award logo in my post.

Rule #3: Write 150-300 words about my favorite blog that isn't my own.

I am not much of a word-counter, and I hope you aren't, either... Right now my favorite blog is Eddie Rivard is a fly fisherman like me, he lives in the same city as I do, he writes fun and interesting stories about his fishing exploits, and he fishes a lot because he is single, which is what I used to do when I was single. He helps me to reminisce, even though he isn't trying to. It's kind of a weird vibe we have going, whether he know that or not. I better stop writing before I get all sentimental...

Rule #4: Provide 10 random facts about myself.
I have pretty much already blogged about every single facet of my life, so I won't bore you with anything at this time. This Rule is optional, any way.

Rule #5: Nominate 5-11 other bloggers.
As I mentioned in a recent post, I really don't read a lot of other blogs, but I will go ahead and nominate Eddie Rivard and his Eddie Rivard Fly Fishing blog, and my buddy Bryon Tang and his Timber Of Faith blog.

Rule #6: List the Rules in my post.
I'm doing that right now, aren't I?

Rule #7: Let everyone know they've been nominated.
OK, I will.

That's all the rules. I still am fuzzy about how this all works, if you can vote, how they announce the winners, if there even are winners or just a bunch of nominees, and whether the title of my post makes sense grammatically in German/Deutsch. I am very thankful for being nominated, and to all of you, my loyal readers. If it wasn't for you I would be the only one reading this right now. You're the best!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Scott's Exploding Head

I felt like my head was going to explode for about an hour last night. Thankfully it didn't, but it was close. I think everyone around me was fully expecting it to happen. Some of them seemed a little sad when it didn't...
Me, about 2 minutes after we started playing.

Let me explain: I played basketball. Full court basketball. Full court basketball for the first time in about 12 years. We started playing at about 8:30, and by 8:32 my head had turned beet red from running around and gasping for air, and I felt like it was going to explode. For some reason, that's what happens to me nowadays whenever I do anything even remotely athletic, which isn't very often. I wasn't sure I would make it through the first game. Thankfully, there was a medical doctor on the opposing team, so I think that if my head had exploded, he would have been able to save me.

Amazingly, I made it through that first game, and then through the second game, and then the third, and even a fourth. When somebody asked if we were up for a fifth game, though, my brain finally kicked in and I was able to blurt out an emphatic "NO!!!!". I thought maybe the rest of the guys would keep playing without me, but some of them seemed relieved when I said no, and the games ended. I was in kind of a daze afterward, and to be honest, I don't remember the drive home, but I made it, and today only about 84% of my body is in total agony, which is much lower than I was expecting, so that's good.

For having a head that felt like it might explode at any moment, I can somehow say that I didn't play all that badly. I got a few rebounds, I made some nice passes, I stole the ball a couple of times, and there was even a short time that I had the hot hand on offense, making five 3-pointers in a row. That moment of glory was short-lived, though, but at least it helped me forget about my head for a while. I wonder if my head will have turned back to its normal color by the time we play again next week...