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...

Monday, September 26, 2016

Stuff I Read

I know how to read. But that doesn't mean that I actually read all that much. I very much prefer to write instead of read. I have often heard that people who like to write are usually voracious readers. I guess that, in this facet of life, much like most of the other facets of my life, I don't do what most people do. I'm cool with that.

I do read some things, though. Some of the things that I read quite a bit are books of short stories. Specifically fly fishing or outdoor humor stories. The two authors that I read the most are John Gierach and Patrick McManus. Mr McManus' stories are very humorous; Mr. Gierach's are not supposed to be humorous, but oftentimes some humor creeps in any way. Both men are prolific writers, and I have read and re-read most of their work.

I also like to read maps and atlases. Sometimes, if I need something to read for just a few minutes, for whatever reason, I will pull out one of my many DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteers, which are map books for an individual state. I have the DeLorme Atlas for eight or more states, and looking through them helps me to relive past trips, and daydream about future ones. If there's one thing I need to do more of, it's daydream, although nobody else would probably agree with that...

You would think that, since I am a blogger, I would read a lot of other people's blogs. But, really, there are just a few that I keep up with. probably is my favorite right now. Eddie writes great stories about his fly fishing adventures here and abroad, and I feel like I can live vicariously through his posts. is another fun one, and I am not just saying that because I was recently asked to write a guest blog post for it... I also read my buddy Bryon's blog,, which is a faith-based outdoor blog in which he sometimes writes about our ventures outdoors. You should definitely check that out, too.

Other than that I mostly go back and re-read my own posts here on Chaotic Kids & Clutter and my fly fishing blog, The Riffle. I do that so that I can find any errors or typos I might have made, and also because I am a normal human being and I find my own life to be highly entertaining. Hopefully my readers agree...

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Champ, No More

I got soft. I got weak. I didn't practice. I didn't do what I needed to do to remain the Champ. I found out what happens when I don't do those things: I get beat, like a drum. I would like to say that I put up a good fight, at least, but that would be a lie. I got demolished. I got annihilated. It was ugly. It was no contest. I guess all I can do now is wish the new Champ the best. And offer to get him a bucket if he feels like he needs to puke...

I am talking, of course, about the eating contest we have at the Endless Shrimp festivities at Red Lobster! Every year at this time, Red Lobster offers their Endless Shrimp deal, and every year I go and eat as many shrimps as it takes for me to feel like I am just about to die, and then I stop. My record is 11 plates of shrimp, which I figure was well over 100 shrimps, and nobody I had ever gone with had ever come close to matching my feat. OK, some had come close, but nobody had ever beaten me. I figured my record would stand until long after I was dead and buried, probably from overdosing on shrimp...But, no, it didn't even last until my 43rd birthday. Oh, the shame!

Having my record broken is one thing, but having it easily broken, by two people on the same night, is another. It was slightly humiliating. If I wasn't having so much fun watching those two guys, Keith and Dave, gorge themselves, I might have even gotten a little sad. But, as it is, when I woke up this morning, I was no longer the Champ. That title has moved on to my good friend, Keith, who ate 15 plates of shrimp last night. If he ever wakes up, I'm sure he will wear that title proudly. Way to go Keith!

My friend, Adam, showing off the remnants of a plate of shrimps he had just devoured.
Just some of the carnage I created whilst stuffing my face with shrimp scampi all night.
Adam, left, and the new Champion, Keith, on the right. This photo was taken about halfway through the meal. He still  looked this alive even after he finished his 15th plate of shrimp! It was a very impressive showing.

Monday, September 12, 2016

2 Kids, 1 Bus

Our two oldest kids, the Girl and the Boy, finally started school last week. I want to write that I had been looking forward to that day since June, but that would make me sound like a bad parent, so I won't. But they did start school, and for the first time, they both rode the same bus. Last year we had three kids riding three different buses at three different times, and let me tell you, our mornings were quite chaotic, if you couldn't already imagine that. Once the Little One's school starts later this week, we still will have two different bus times, but two sounds way more fun than three.

So, last Tuesday morning, all six of us went down to the bus stop to send the two oldest kids off in style. We got there a few minutes early, just to make sure we didn't miss it. It was sprinkling, so we all huddled underneath my giant golf umbrella. We talked about all the friends they would see on the bus, just to soothe any possible nerves. We talked about all the fun stuff they would learn and do at school. It was a fun time of bonding for all of us.

Then the bus came. I was expecting a long, drawn-out, mushy goodbye. I thought the Wife might shed some tears. I thought the Girl and/or the Boy might whimper a little as they got on the bus. I thought that I might be an emotional wreck for the rest of the day as I thought about the sadness that happened that morning. But no. Both the kids ran off to the bus and didn't even look back. They were ready to start the year. They were ready to be done with us for the next 8 hours. It wasn't at all what I was expecting, but it was kind of sad, too, only in a different way...

This is what happened when the two older kids went off on their first day of school...

Friday, September 9, 2016

Pigs, Pigs, And More Pigs

Getting back to the State Fair, as I wrote about in my last post, the first animal building we went in was the Swine building. "Swine" is Latin for pigs, if you have never studied Latin. The photo below is of the biggest boar at the Fair. "Boar" is Latin for "pig dude". This one weighed something like 1400 pounds or 6 tons or some crazy number like that. Everything about this boar was enormous, as you can see from the photo. I thought about censoring the photo to hide his enormous tiddly bits which are somewhat visible on the right side of the photo, but they don't make him cover them up in person, so I guess he's not embarrassed.

Staying in the Swine building, we watched some kind of competition between much smaller pigs than the above-mentioned boar. The competition consisted of about 10 people walking around in a large pen, each one with a medium-sized swine. I believe the judges were judging the pigs, and not the people, but it was difficult to determine exactly what was happening for sure. Each person had an implement that looked kind of like an extra-long fly swatter, and they were gently swatting their pigs in their behinds and/or flanks to get them to walk around in a dazed and confused manner. Most of the pigs seemed like they would much rather be taking a nap in the corner instead of parading around in a mass of pig chaos. I took the photo of the chaos below from well outside the pen, since I didn't want to get trampled by dazed pigs. I put my money on the older gentleman in the green shirt, because I figured he was the most experienced of all the pig people and therefore he had the best chance of winning the competition, but he was a little slow, physically I mean, and wasn't able to keep up with his pig very well. That meant he (the pig) was more chaotic than the rest, so, even though it looked like he would have made a delicious slab of bacon, he did not win this competition. Oh well, I will try to win my money back at next year's sheep round-up.
We spent way more time in the Swine building than I would have ever expected. Pigs are an interesting animal, when you get right down to it. If you ever have the chance to stare at one for an extended period of time, you may be amazed what you notice. The Baby had been staring at the pig in the photo below for hours, and now she gets mad if we don't have pork chops at every meal... It's a weird deal, I tell you what.
Speaking of a weird deal, we also walked through the Poultry/Bunny building. This building is filled with rows and rows of chickens. Now, I like chickens, but even I think there are too many of them in there. But that's not the weird part. Along one wall of this building was a small stage surrounded by some aluminum seating, like you would see at a little league baseball field. These seats were filled with people, so I assumed they were there to watch some kind of chicken competition. I made a beeline to see what was going on, and so I could try to figure out which rooster I should wager on, when I noticed that all these people were looking at...nothing. There was no judging going on at all. No Barred Plymouth Rocks were on the stage. No Blue Andalusians were strutting around. There weren't even any bunnies being shown off. Nothing. I guess all these people were either really eager for the chicken judging to commence in a half hour, or they just needed a place to sit down after hoofing it all over the fairgrounds all day. Perhaps they might be on to something...

Friday, September 2, 2016

It Was a Fair Day

We made our annual trek to the Minnesota State Fair the other day. For those of you who do not live in the Fair-obsessed state of Minnesota, you may not understand how integral the Fair is to life around here. The Fair is huge, almost everyone goes, some people go multiple times during its twelve-day run, and if you don't go local people will look at you as though they are quite sure you aren't hooked up right. For several years back in my insane bachelor days, I was one of those people who didn't go. I think it made me feel like a rebel, or even a bad boy, or at least a bit aloof. But now I am married, and there is no more need for me to appear to be a bad boy, so I go, and I even look forward to it most years.
Just some of the throngs of people we had to walk through on our way from one food stand to another at the State Fair.

There are several reasons to go to the Fair, most of which include eating copious amounts of fried food, usually on a stick. I know it happened just the other day, but I am having trouble remembering all the foods I ate, but I will attempt to list them all, in order of appearance: Egg-Sausage-&-Cheese Croissant Sandwich; 2.5 free Cheddar Cheese Sticks (mine + most of the Wife's + most of the Little One's); Deep Fried Crab Fritters (these are always stupendously delicious!); Deep Fried Monte Cristo Sandwich on a Stick (the Wife and I shared this); the World's Greatest French Fries (they gave themselves that title. I think they are very good, but not so sure they are the world's greatest...); Deep Fried Popcorn Shrimp; Gyro on a Stick. I think that's it...Like I said, I may have forgotten something. If I remember it before I am done writing I will be sure to let you know.

Another reason to go to the Fair is to people watch. I can't believe how many weirdos there are out there in the world, and during the rest of the year I tend to forget. They all go to the Fair, though, so I get my annual reminder. I also can't believe how many large children get pushed around the Fair in gigantic strollers. We pushed the Baby in an umbrella stroller, but she can't walk yet. All of our other kids walked the entire day like they are supposed to, and they have for a long time, but I constantly see kids that look like they are 4-, 5- and even 6-years-old being pushed around in strollers or pulled in wagons the size of minivans. Why would a parent want to do that? Kids who are bigger than a baby are heavy! I don't get it...

A third reason to go to the Fair is to see animals, specifically farm-type animals. If you want to see as many cows, pigs, horses, sheep and chickens as you can stomach, the Minnesota State Fair is the place for you. Our kids can stomach a lot of all of those animals, so we go through all of the farm buildings. I won't go into it now, but it seems like the Swine Building is our favorite. If you like swine, and who doesn't?, make sure you read my next blog post... How do you like that awesome teaser, huh?

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Story of Our Bathrooms

I am sure you have always wanted to hear the story of our bathrooms. Well, today is your lucky day!!

We have three bathrooms in our house, but when we first moved in only two of them got used. The tiny master bath in our bedroom was used by the Wife and me, and the medium sized bathroom down the hall was used by our kids, which we only had three of at the time. The biggest bathroom in the house, which is downstairs, almost never got used, because we are your typical American family, meaning we are all too lazy to walk down the stairs.

A year ago or so, that all changed, because the shower in our tiny master bath started leaking into the basement, but thankfully our big, unused bathroom was directly below it, so nothing of value got ruined. It did mean that we had to do something about the leak, though, so of course we decided to gut our tiny master bathroom so that we could fix the problem, and re-do it to our liking. The Wife and I considered forcibly taking over the medium-sized bathroom down the hall, and kicking our kids down to the bathroom in the basement, but we decided that making a 4-year-old go all the way downstairs every night in the dark when she wakes up at 4AM to go pee might cause much undue stress on the entire family, so we opted to move ourselves down to the bathroom in the basement, and leave the kids in the medium-sized bathroom down the hall.

Now that our master bathroom has been renovated, the Wife has moved back up there. I haven't been so quick to move my stuff out of the basement bathroom, though. It's kind of fun to have my own little oasis in the basement, if I must be honest. Plus, the fan in that bathroom is nice and loud, which is a bonus on those occasions when I don't want to hear any wailing and/or screaming from the rest of the house...

I was going to continue the Story of Our Bathrooms by going into the grim details of how children don't always remember that they need to flush the toilet after going to the bathroom, and how this fact continues to surprise me even though our children are all getting older, and how I often think that they should be old enough to remember such a simple rule, and how this is just one of the many things that I never thought about before I became a parent, and how I sometimes think I should write a book about all the things that have surprised me about parenting, but this post has gone on long enough already, so I will save all that stuff for another day. Keep your eyes peeled for The Story of Our Bathrooms, Vol. 2, coming soon! Oh goody!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Too Smart to Slide?

You might think, by the title of this post, that I might be writing about the sliding that can occur during a softball or baseball game. And knowing that I love to play softball, and that two of our kids, the Girl and the Boy, are playing baseball this summer, I can see how you might think that. But you would be wrong. Oh, so wrong! As I always do on this blog, I zigged when you thought I was going to zag. My zagging when you think that I would be zigging is a normal thing around here, so you better get used to it.

My first smartphone is on its way to my house as we speak. I have mixed feelings about this. For one thing, I have a strong feeling deep within me that it isn't all that healthy to be connected to the rest of the world at all times. It's good to have some down time every day to let my brain settle down and recuperate from the day's events. Some of you probably read that and thought "Scott's brain is always in down time...", but nobody asked you, so please keep your opinions to yourself, thank you very much!
Courtesy of LG

Secondly, I am going to miss my old slide phone. I feel like it and me have forged a special bond over the years. It seemed like my old slide phone always knew exactly what I was thinking. If I wanted to write a text, it would eagerly slide open to reveal its full keyboard. I knew where all the function keys were, so I could write a lengthy and boring text to any of my friends as fast as I could, even with my eyes closed. If I wanted to call someone, it would instantly advise me to hit speed dial number 2, because it knew that I almost never called anyone except the Wife. If I would drop my poor old slide phone and all of its pieces would come exploding off, which seemed to happen more often than I would care to admit, I would gingerly put it back together, and that old slide phone would seem to look up at me and say "Thank you for putting me back together with so much love!" Yup, we have had a special bond, my old slide phone and me. It's going to be sad to send it off to retirement...

But, on the other hand, once I get my new smartphone, it will kind of be fun to be connected to the world at all times. My kids will now be able to harass me at any time, trying to get me to let them watch their favorite Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons at all times of day. If one of the kids asks me why the wolverine is my favorite animal in all of God's Green Earth, not only can I tell them that they are as fierce as can be, but now I can find a youtube video showing one ripping the guts out of a grizzly bear 6 times its size. How much fun will that be?!?

So, as you can see, I have mixed feelings about getting my new smartphone. If you want to talk about it more, perhaps I can send you a long and boring text some day.