Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ode to a Grandma: Millie Walquist, 1914-2012

I haven't had a grandma for quite a while. My grandma on my dad's side died when I was young, either 5 or 6, I'm not exactly sure. Unfortunately, I don't have very many memories of her. My grandma on my mom's side died in 1997, which sometimes seems like yesterday, but when I actually sit down with my calculator, I realize that it's already been 15 years now.

Almost 8 years ago I was fortunate to get a third chance at having a grandma. That was when I married my wonderful wife, who just happened to come with a grandma of her own, Grandma Millie. At the time, Grandma Millie was a spry 91-year-old who was active in every facet of life, even to the point of picking up her younger friends from church to drive them to and from whatever appointments they might have had.

That wasn't the only amazing thing about Grandma Millie, but it was one of the first amazing things I learned about her. Over the years I would learn so much more, from how she had shoveled her own 100-foot-long driveway by herself until she was almost 80, to how she had also taken care of all four of my sister-in-law's kids every day, when they were all under the age of 10! That, too, occurred when Grandma Millie was well past the age of retirement.
Grandma Millie, in March, holding the Baby shortly after she was born.

Throughout the past 8 years, I got to know Grandma Millie better and better, and quickly started to think of her as my own grandmother. She was an amazingly generous and loving woman, and I am proud to say she was my Grandma. We lost Grandma Millie this morning, just a few short months from her 99th birthday. It's been a terribly sad day for everyone in the family, but we all know that she is now celebrating in heaven with Jesus and her beloved husband, George.

I love you, Grandma Millie! Thanks for everything!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Daughter, the Artiste'

Did you know that the Girl's middle name should probably be "Ansel"? No, of course you didn't know that. None of us knew until a few days ago, when she picked up the Wife's digital camera and starting shooting. I know that you know that I'm not usually one to brag about my offspring, but I am inclined to say that she is pretty good. Or at least she's prolific! When I looked at the camera after she was done, I think I counted right around a billion photos that she took.

Obviously, I am not going to post all of her shots here on this blog, but I have picked out some of the better ones. I'm thinking about contacting one of the more prominent museums out there to see if they'd be interested in having her do a show. I have narrowed it down to the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Oakdale Public Library. Wish us luck!
"Blurry Bubba"

"Blurry Bubba, Break-Dancing"

"Blurry Daddy"

"Really Blurry Daddy & Baby"

"Daddy's Softball Wound That Won't Go Away" or "Look At The Pipes On That Guy!"

"Where Did Daddy's Eyes Go? Vol. 1"

"Blurry Christmas Tree"

"Really Blurry Christmas Tree"

"Chair: A Still Life"

"Self Portrait" or "Can You Find The Girl?"

"Where Did Daddy's Eyes Go? Vol. 2"

Monday, December 17, 2012

No More Bragging, Please!

You know how your eyes instinctively roll around in your head, and you feel the sudden need to suppress a little bit of vomit, every time some parent you know goes on and on and on about how brilliant their child is? Listening to parents like that might be the most annoying thing in the history of the universe. I can't stand parents like that.

I mean, what could these people's kids have really done that was so amazing, any way? Kids are kids. They all do the same things. Sure, maybe some kids learn to do things more quickly than other kids, and maybe they are taller and cuter and funnier than other kids their age, but does that mean they are brilliant?

Take, for example, my daughter, the Girl. She's only 3-and-and-a-half years old, but just the other day she successfully changed her little brother, the Boy's, diaper, without any assistance, or even knowledge of what was going on, by her parents. The act of changing a diaper by someone her age is one thing, but actually getting her little brother to lay still during the procedure is a whole different story. This was obviously a momentous undertaking on the Girl's part. But do you see me going around bragging about her to anyone and everyone within earshot? I mean, come on.

Or later on that night, when she decided it was time to turn their tiny lanterns off and go to bed, without the Wife or me telling her to do so, which is a very mature thing to do, since most 3 year olds would be more apt to put up a stink when their parents tell them it's time to turn the lights off. Do you hear me going on and on and on about that?

Seriously, some of these parents out there need to get a grip. Kids are kids! There's no need to keep bragging about yours. Do us all a favor, and just stop talking. Thank you!
On Friday morning I was just starting to decide what silliness in my life I could write about, when I heard about the tragedy that had just happened in Connecticut. The whole rest of the weekend I was just kind of numb. I wanted to get on here and write some kind of deep and meaningful essay, but there's really nothing I can say that would be of any use. Instead I will just say that our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of all the victims.
Luke 18:16-17:16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Blind Rage and the Number 12

If you are living under a rock somewhere, you might not have realized that yesterday's date was 12/12/12. I was hoping that something significant would happen in our household for me to write about, but nothing ever did. So I'll write about something else.

Being inundated with the number "12" all day made me think about my own life, and especially me at the age of 12. For some reason I remember being 12 much more than I do any of my other formative years, and yesterday I kept thinking that writing about it would make a good story.

I could write about the summer I turned 12, which would have been right around 1986. That summer was memorable for a couple reasons. First of all, that was the first year my Little League baseball team made it to the playoffs in all the years I had been playing baseball, or tee-ball, for that matter. We weren't a great team, but we were good enough to win our division, so we automatically qualified to make the post-season. I don't have the faintest recollection of how we did in the playoffs, but I know we didn't win the championship, so it must not have been too good.

That summer was also significant for me because it was the last year I played organized baseball, since I didn't make the cut to be on the traveling team the following year, even though I had been one of the best pitchers in the league the year before. Bitter much?

Another thing happened that summer that I would just as soon forget about, but I guess it's a part of who I am, so instead of forgetting about it, I'll write about it here so now everyone will know. I think it would be fair to say that I am usually pretty mild-mannered, if not teetering on the edge of comatose, but apparently even I have a boiling point, and that point reared it's ugly head one day in the summer of '86.

I'm not even sure of all the details of this story, and I don't know exactly what my older sister and I were arguing about, but I do remember that I was in our backyard, which could only be reached through a door in the back of the garage. For some unknown reason in the middle of our arguing, my sister thought it would be fun to lock that door so I couldn't get in, and for some other unknown reason, I felt it was imperative that I did get in. I really don't remember what happened next, because of the blind rage that completely took over, but for some reason I ran at the door with all my force, and put both my hands right through the glass window, shattering it completely, and cutting myself on pretty much every finger, in both my palms, and very close to the artery in my left wrist.

Needless to say, my blind rage quickly subsided. I don't know if it was the sight of my own blood dripping all over the garage floor or the sound of my sister screaming hysterically that made the rage leave. Whatever it was, it was very effective at scaring the rage so badly that it has never come back. So, that's a good thing.

Thankfully I was OK. The carnage could have been much worse than it was. And, actually, if my memory serves, I played a baseball game the next night with bandages everywhere. I guess getting a little dirt in an open gash never hurt anyone...

There were some other memorable things that happened when I was 12, but after writing about that last incident, I am tired of going through old memories. From now on, I'm only writing about the present. I'll take chaotic kids over blind rage any day!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The 2012 Version of the Snowstorm Of The Century

Well, I am officially tired of shoveling snow. I figure we got about 20 inches at our house. That might not be what we actually got, but that's what it seemed like when I was shoveling. It seems as though I spent every waking moment of the last day and a half with a shovel in my hand. Not only did I shovel our driveway twice, I also shoveled my grandma-in-law's enormous driveway (with help from a couple of nice ladies I know, one of whom is the mother of my adorable children, so props go out to her), I helped shovel the sidewalks around church several times while we were there, and I helped dig one of the cute little old church lady's car out of the church parking lot. All of the shoveling meant my old golf callouses got a nice workout, so that was fun. And I did learn one valuable lesson: if I shovel out my aforementioned grandma-in-law's 100' long driveway first, my own 35' long driveway seems miniscule by comparison. Not that I plan to do that ever again...

The last two winters, the Girl has wanted to come out and help me shovel whenever we have had any accumulated snow, but in reality, she has just waved her tiny toddler-sized shovel at the snowpiles for a few minutes, and then either moved on to cavorting in the snow, or going inside to have some hot chocolate.
The Girl and I conquered the Snowstorm of the Century with these meager implements. We are good!

Yesterday, she actually was helpful. We both got bundled up to head outside, and by the time I walked out the door, she had already started clearing off the sidewalk. (Reminder to everyone: she's only 3 1/2 years old!!!)  It was amazing! Every few minutes while we were out there, she would look at me and ask "Aren't you glad I'm out here helping you, Daddy?" What could I say, but "Of course I am!"

The Boy was another story. He didn't even want to go outside the first time we shoveled our driveway, which was yesterday morning. The second time, when it was really deep, he did come out, and he did wave his shovel around, much like the Girl had done the last couple years. But, for the most part, he was more interested in playing and having fun. And who can blame him? He was especially funny whenever a gust of wind would come up and blow a bunch of snow off our roof and into our faces, because he would yell out "It tickles, Daddy!!" I am not sure he fully understands what the word "tickles" means. I'll make sure he reads his dictionary before our next snowstorm.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Good Intentions Gone Awry

We had good intentions for this afternoon. We planned on taking our three kids to our bank, Lake Elmo Bank, which every year hosts a real live Santa and a real live reindeer for kids of all ages to meet and have their photo taken with. We have taken our kids every year since we only had the Girl, and have included the photo in our Christmas letter for all of those years. The plan was to do that again this year.

All of us looked really Christmassy today, dressed in either green or red. Except for the Baby, that is. She insisted on wearing pink. Babies can be so stubborn! We planned our afternoon around the event, and even had Grandma D. and Grandpa S. come with to help herd the kids, and to take the pictures.

Everything was going as smoothly as we could have ever hoped. And then we walked into the bank. As soon as the Boy saw Santa sitting there in the back of the lobby, he turned into a raging ball of angst. He did not want to go anywhere near that guy with the white beard, and clung to his mom with every ounce of strength his little body could muster.

So, with the Boy not wanting to be in the picture, the Wife and I decided to also sit out, and just have it be about the girls this year. Both the Girl and the Baby seemed excited to have their photo taken with Santa. The Girl stepped right up and told Santa what she wanted for Christmas, and then took her spot next to him. Then I handed the Baby over to Santa, since he was going to hold her on his lap for the photo. She seemed to like his long white beard and his red hat.

It was all going beautifully. And then Comet, the reindeer, entered scene. I don't know if it was his antlers, the fact that she had never been so close to such a large animal, or maybe he needed a breath mint. Whatever it was, the Baby did not like Comet. And that may be the understatement of the year. She screamed and kicked so hard I thought Santa was going to drop her. And who could have blamed him? Actually, Santa handled the situation like a pro. Probably because he deals with screaming kids all the time. We saw several kids, some of whom weren't even ours, having the same reaction. So he must get lots of practice.
This was right after Comet entered the picture. I think the Girl was the only one in the whole place who thought it was funny. Obviously Santa didn't.

So, the jist of the story is we aren't going to have a photo of our family with Santa and his reindeer on our Christmas letter this year. That's OK. Personally, I think the photo we did get is even better!

Update: 15 Days and Counting

A few days ago I wrote about how we are hosting my family's Christmas gathering this year, and how we only had 30 days to get the house clean and in a condition that would befit such an occasion, and I promised that I would have daily updates on how the cleaning process was going. I started it on that day by stating that, so far, we had done absolutely nothing as far as cleaning was concerned.

Well, I really had no intention of actually posting daily updates, probably because I knew there would be lots of days that we wouldn't get much, if anything, accomplished. And who wants to keep admitting, via such a public forum, that they are lazy? Not me.

But, to my astonishment, I have actually had several people ask me for updates. This fact blew my mind! People actually read and pay attention to what I write here. Will wonders never cease?

So, here is a quick update. First of all, I was informed by my better half that we are actually celebrating on December 22nd, three whole days before Christmas. If you are not good at math, that means that we have three less days to clean. This news was met with much wailing and gnashing of teeth by me, but I quickly got over the anxiety and got back to work being lazy.
This is an exact replica of the outfit I wear when I clean. I wonder how this guy found out about it...
No, we actually have gotten some good cleaning done around here. We cleaned up and re-organized all the toys in the basement, moving them out of the paper ream boxes they had been in, and into nice fabric bins we got at Target. The toy area was much more visually pleasing. That is, until the kids went down there and scattered everything around again. I guess it doesn't pay to clean up toys until the day of.

We've done a bunch of other cleaning, as well. I won't go into any more details, because I don't want to be the reason you fall asleep at your desk. Maybe I'll post some photos of our clean house when we get closer to Christmas. I may be too worn out to push the shutter button, though. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Warning to All Future Parents

When the Wife and I began our spirited quest to have kids, and lots of them, a few years ago, we thought we knew what we were getting into. We knew there might be some sleepless nights. We knew there would be some expense involved. We knew there would probably be some irritability at times, but for the most part, I've tried not to let my irritability affect my parenting skills.

Having children is not cheap. There are all sorts of things that you need to have, all of which cost money. Children need clothes, and, since they grow out of one size and into the next size just about every other week, you need to keep buying clothes. That can be expensive.

Children need to eat. Luckily, when our kids were babies, the Wife was able to keep them well fed, but we have had to buy some supplemental baby formula every once in a while, and that stuff is spendy, even if you get the generic stuff, like we do. (Also, here's a little tip for any new parents out there - every time you go to your pediatrician, ask if they have any formula samples. We got several medium sized cans that way. Saved us a lot of money.)

Children need things to do and toys to play with. If you haven't walked through the toy department at Target lately, you should. You will see that all toys, even fairly simple ones designed for babies, are astronomically priced. We have been very lucky that all of our kids' grandparents and several aunts and uncles live nearby. They have a tendency to lavish our kids with so many toys that we haven't had to buy many ourselves. Not everyone is so lucky, though.

We knew about all of the expenses I've written about here. But there was a child-related expense that we never thought about, and it reared its ugly head almost as soon as we brought the Girl home from the hospital 3-and-a-half years ago.

That unexpected expense was: batteries. I hate to even think about how many batteries we have had to buy since we became parents. There's a good chance that even the simplest of toys will require batteries, and all toys are notorious for using up their batteries' juice in a rapid way.
We don't have a Teddy Ruxpin doll at our house, only because I heard he runs on 25 "D" batteries, and we couldn't afford them.

We have a really fun mobile that has hung on our babies' crib since day one, but that stupid thing runs through batteries like nobody's business. It wouldn't be so bad, except it takes eight "D" batteries to run! So, every month or two we have to go out and buy another huge pack of "D" batteries, just for that one mobile.

We have toys that run on pretty much every battery you can think of. Along with the millions of "D"s we have had to buy, we also have toys that run on "C"s, 9-Volts, "AA"s, "AAA"s, and about 4 different types of watch batteries. Why can't all watch batteries be the same?!?! This is a question that I'm sure does not have a good answer.

OK, I will end my rant now. This was very therapeutic for me. Thank you for listening. But, really, I wanted to write this as a warning to all future parents out there. Start saving your money now. Teddy Ruxpin can only run so long on his first set of batteries.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Rise and Fall of the Nuk

As parents, the Wife and I love nuks. You may know them as pacifiers, or even binkies, but in our house we call them "nukies", (which rhymes with cookie) as in "Daddy, can you help me find my nukie?" (spoken in a whiny, 2-year-old's voice at approximately 2:48 AM, when all I want to do is sleep.)

Nuks are an amazing invention. Who would have ever thought that a simple plastic oval with a rubber nipple attached to it could bring so much calm to a household. We have given nuks to all of our kids, from an early age, and thankfully they took to them like a pack of starving hyenas to a bloated wildebeest.

We try to only give our babies their nuks at nap time or when they are on the verge of a nervous breakdown, which is often. Having a nuk in their mouth brings an almost immediate sense of calm to a screaming baby. At least some of the time. Once they are a year old or so (my wife may contradict what I say about how old they were - she remembers things better than I do, so that's cool), toddling around the house, we switch that to only at nap time and night time. We did that with our oldest, the Girl, because we thought that if she only had her nukie when she was in bed, it would be easier to ween her off of it when she got older. That wasn't necessarily the case, but she is finally almost entirely weened, now that she is 3-and-a-half.

The Boy, who is 2, still clings to his nukie like one of the aforementioned starving hyenas, but we are hopeful that we will be able to ween him off it in the coming months.

With the Baby, we have had an entirely different set of problems concerning her nukies. We lose them. She's only been on God's green earth for a little over 8 months, and we have already lost approximately 4,000 of her nukies. Who knows where they end up? We certainly don't. And we never had that problem with either of the other kids' nukies. I don't think we ever lost a single one of theirs. It's an odd phenomenon that can only be attributed to Mommy and Daddy's lingering cases of threechilditis. Hopefully we'll find a cure for that by the time all of our kids are weened off their nuks. Don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

An Ode to craigslist

I'm not entirely sure who Craig is, or how his list got started, but wherever he is, I would like to thank him dearly. We feel that is one of the best things ever. Not only have we pretty much furnished our entire house with stuff we bought on craigslist, but we have also found oodles of awesome, gently used baby and toddler things for our kids to enjoy, and we have spent very little money. And every transaction has transpired with ease.
Craig's list?
If I wanted to list everything we have purchased on craigslist, the list would be so long, and you would have to scroll so far down the page to see everything, that your index finger would start to cramp. So I won't do that. But, to name a few things, we got the beautiful bedroom set that we have in our room (which includes a gentleman's closet, whatever that is), our wonderful dining room table and chairs, the very comfortable sleeper sofa in our living room, and the awesome rolltop desk that I use for fly tying, which lets me just roll the top down to hide any furs or feathers that we don't want our guests to see.

As far as the kids are concerned, we got the two older kids' bunk beds on craigslist, as well several car and booster seats, almost all of their Thomas trains and tracks, and a boatload of clothes, to name just a few of our many purchases. We have been fortunate to receive a lot of the kids' clothes as hand-me-downs from friends and family, but we also have gotten several huge lots of clothes from people on craigslist, usually for a small percentage of what they would have cost new.

Hopefully this post won't cause you all to rush over to craigslist and buy up everything in sight. But, I would suggest you at least take a look the next time you are in the market for something. You may be glad you did.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Boy and His Shoes

The Boy got some new tennis shoes from Grandma D a while back. At the time, pretty much the only shoes we had that fit him were some well-worn sandals that he had been wearing all summer. And when I say "all summer", I mean all summer. Those were the only shoes he would ever let us put on him, so he wore them all day every day, no matter the weather, and no matter whether they matched his clothes or not. He wore them out in the mud, and he wore them with all of his dress clothes to church every Sunday. He loved those sandals.

He loved those sandals so much that we were a little worried about how he would react when he outgrew them, which kids are known to do. He just wanted to keep squeezing his feet in them, no matter how tight they got. Finally the weather was cold enough this fall that we decided we couldn't let him wear his sandals any more, and we would have to introduce him to a new pair of shoes.

So, Grandma D got him a new pair of tennis shoes. Initially he wasn't too keen on them, which is a nice way to say that he ran kicking and screaming and hid under the dining room table when we showed them to him. But, eventually he let us pry his new shoes onto his feet, and it didn't take long for him to realize they were comfortable and they were warmer than his old sandals were.

If these didn't have the fancy soles or the designer logo, they would look a lot like the Boy's new shoes. Photo courtesy of 
Now, he LOVES his tennis shoes. He can't wait to put them on every morning, and as soon as they're on, he is ready to run. He comes up to me and proclaims "I run fast, Daddy! Watch me!" And then he runs in circles around our kitchen, and in figure-eights through the kitchen and dining room. And up and down the hallway. And, if we're outside, he'll run around and around whatever vehicles are in the driveway. And he will do that for whoever happens to be close enough for him to show off to. He and his new shoes are a non-stop blur of activity. He loves those shoes. Let's hope he never outgrows them...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Most Tense Half Hour of the Week, Times Two

Tuesday and Thursday mornings in our house are filled with more tension than all the other days of the week combined. Actually, all the tension is packed into about a half hour period on those mornings.These are the days that the Girl goes to preschool. The fact that she goes to preschool does not bring the tension, although every once in a while she will decide that she doesn't want to go to preschool, which multiplies the normal tension significantly.

Even on days that she is happy about going to school, the tension is palpable. It all comes from one thing - trying to get all three kids ready to go at a particular point in time.

Even during breakfast, I start the countdown to the time we need to leave. I will tell them, "Okay, it is now 8:03 AM. We need to start to get ready to leave at exactly 8:48 AM. That means we have exactly 45 minutes." I think if any of them actually knew how to tell time, this announcement would have more impact.

When breakfast is over, and they get down from the table, I do it again. "Okay, it is now 8:27. We need to start to get our coats on in exactly 21 minutes. That means you have 21 minutes to play!" I then proceed to make more announcements every few minutes.

At 8:48 AM, I tell them "It is now time to get ready to leave. I will get the Baby's coat on. You (pointing to the Girl), please get your coat, along with the Boy's, and I will get your hats and mittens when I am done with the Baby."

At this point, the Boy disappears, usually down into the basement, where he will eventually  be found, playing with his Thomas trains, and the Girl heads off into their bedroom to get who-knows-what toy that she insists is vital for her to take with in the van, even though she will only be in the van for 6 minutes as we drive to school.

Meanwhile, the Baby heads off crawling under a nearby table, where she promptly ditches her hat, and then heads off to another corner, where she extricates one of her feet out of both its shoe and sock, both of which will soon end up in her mouth, at least until she grows tired of the taste of feet, in which case she will then deposit them in some random location, most likely underneath the sofa.
Notice the Baby has her hat and mittens on, but no coat. She must have ditched it somewhere in the bowels of our house. She's crafty, that's for sure.
When I finally get the Girl, the Boy, and the Baby fully clothed and into their outerwear, and think that we are finally about to be able to get loaded up into the van, I oftentimes catch a faint smell, which could only be emanating from the Boy's diaper. Not wanting to offend any teachers or parents that we may come into close contact with, I determine that I must try to set a new Guinness World Record for poopy-diaper-changing. I think my best time is about 8 seconds, but who's counting?

I would like to say that once we are all loaded up in the car, headed off to school, the tension ends. And it does, for the few minutes we are in the car. But then we arrive at the school, and it all starts back up again. I unleash the rascals from their respective car seats, and then have to corral the two older ones, while holding the Baby, while hundreds, if not thousands, of large high school students run amok (the Girl's preschool is adjacent to one of the local high schools). It is a wonder they don't get trampled.

Thankfully, this whole fiasco usually lasts just a half hour or so, and then I can head home with the two younger kids to chill out for a couple of days, when it happens all over again. Believe me, it takes all of Wednesday to recuperate.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Adventures at My Friendly, Neighborhood Mega-Mart

We love to shop at our local members-only mega-mart. Since I am not getting paid to advertise for them, I won't mention any names, but it happens to rhyme with Pam's Pub. If you are a really good detective, you may be able to figure it out.

We shop there a lot, because we can get really good deals on huge quantities of food, and when you have three children and two dogs living with you, you need huge quantities of food, both the human and canine varieties.

Usually I, and whichever of the kids I happen to be toting around that day, just go in, get what we need, look around just a little to make sure we didn't forget anything, and then leave. We can be in and out in 15 minutes or less. Today, the Wife asked me to look for a type of food that I have never seen at this store, freeze-dried strawberries, so I was forced to do some snooping.

The kids love freeze-dried strawberries. Unfortunately they cost about $96 per pound. These kids are going to send us to the poorhouse. Photo courtesy of
Did you know that the store that rhymes with Pam's Pub has pretty much everything you could ever imagine? At least as far as food is concerned. And it all looks delicious! It was all I could do to not spend hundreds of dollars on all the new food that I was discovering.

I found ready-to-bake chicken enchiladas, yummy looking cheese and meat trays with an endless variety of cheeses (cheese and meat trays are going to be my downfall some day), huge trays of imitation crab meat (which I love), a whole row of microwavable gourmet soups just waiting to be nuked and devoured, and fresh pastas filled with everything from lobster to squash goo. And that was all before I even got out of the refrigerated section.

They have two different kinds of sweet potato chips! I love sweet potatoes, but somehow I was able to pass on those. Actually I had a bag of one of them in my cart for a while, but decided to put it back.

Aisle after aisle of delicious looking foods, most of which I was able to keep from buying. I did get a few things that weren't originally on my list, but I am only human, after all.

So, I found a billion things that tempted me, but, if you can believe this, I did not find any freeze-dried strawberries. I guess it's something that they just haven't thought of stocking at Pam's Pub. Oh well. I just went to Parget and got them there.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

30 Days and Counting...

If my calculations are correct, there are exactly 30 days until Christmas. That means that I have 30 days to get all my Christmas shopping done. 30 days to get our two trees decorated (actually the Wife will do most of the decorating, but I will help). And 30 days to get the house cleaned, because we volunteered to have the Hanson family Christmas celebration at our house!!!!?!?!

We offered our house up for the celebration for two reasons: first, because our house is bigger than my parents' house, which has been our usual celebrating place for several years.The extra size is one thing, but the best part of it is that the basement at our house has been turned into a play area, so at any time we can send the hordes of small children downstairs to play, and we adults can get a break from the constant din, and maybe even take a nap if we want to.

Secondly, we have two bathrooms in our house, so there shouldn't be any issues in that regard, unless there is a mass outbreak of gastrointestinal unease within the family.

So, any way, we are having our Christmas celebration at our house this year. We have exactly 30 days to get the house cleaned, which will be a gargantuan undertaking for the Wife and me. If you don't have three small children running around your house, you probably don't know the messes that they can create on a daily basis. Even if we spend a couple of hours each night cleaning, the mess will at least partially reappear the next morning within a few minutes of the kids' getting up. So we will have to be diligent. We will have to work harder than we ever have on anything in our whole lives. We will have to hold each other accountable, and not take a single night off for the next month.

To that end, I am planning on listing, here on my blog, exactly what we do each day for the next 30 days to get our house in the proper order needed to host a really good Christmas celebration. Every time we lift a finger to do a bit of dusting, or whenever we pick up a single Thomas the Train toy and put it back in its respective toy bin, I will list it here. It will be an exhaustive listing of every single thing we do to get ready, and I will start the list right here today. So, to get things started, here is everything we have done today to get our house cleaned:


OK, look for my daily update right here on this blog. See you tomorrow!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thank You For Everything!

I have so much to be thankful for, and I can't think of a better time than Thanksgiving Day to write about it all. This list of things I am thankful for might be a little different than yours, but please bear with me.

First of all, I am thankful for high quality disposable diapers. Especially the Up&Up brand diapers from Target. They are inexpensive, super absorbent, the tabs always stick well, and they don't let whatever liquids they happen to be holding seep out through the outer layer, like some more expensive brands do.

Secondly, I am thankful for Velcro. Velcro makes getting shoes on our squirmy children's feet seem almost easy. Notice I said almost.

Thirdly, I am thankful for claymation. A great deal of children's videos utilize the art of claymation, and I am thankful that all of these clay-based videos do a wonderful job of holding my kids' attentions so well that you would think that the Wife and I had spawned a brood of zombie children. Not that we let them watch too many videos, but when we really need to get something done around the house, we can pop in a Bob the Builder, Little People, or some other claymation video, and know that the kids won't take their eyes off the screen for the next hour or so.

Of course, I have a million other things to be thankful for. I am so thankful for my amazing wife, the Wife, who is a perfect partner for me, as we hurtle through the craziness known as parenthood together. She always supports me when I write about the chaos in our house, even when I write about true facts.

And I am also so thankful that God gave us three wonderful kids. Sometimes it probably seems like I complain about them a lot, but that's just because the bad parts of parenting are funnier than the good parts. They really are great kids, whether I write that very often, or not.

If I was going to write about everything that I am thankful for, it would take forever. So, I'll leave it at that, other than to thank you, the readers of this blog. Way too much of my self-worth is based upon seeing the number of views of this blog go up, one by one. And it only does that when you read it.  So I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

This Baby is Slowly Killing Us...

OK, the title of this post might be a bit of an exaggeration, but only a small exaggeration. What is her problem, any way? Why doesn't she sleep through the night? Why can't she be a perfect baby like I remember our other two babies being? Why does my brain trick me into thinking our other babies were perfect? These and a myriad of other questions have been routinely popping into my head each of the last 4 or 5 nights, while up with the Baby at all hours, trying to get her to go back to sleep. Her lack of sleep, and the resulting lack of sleep for the Wife and me, are driving us to the brink.

Sure, she's been sick. But a little sniffle shouldn't be making her wake up, screaming, multiple times each night. And, as soon as we get her out of her crib, the screaming stops, so it can't be that there is a major health concern we should be checking out. I think she's just an ornery human being, and I don't like it.

The Wife and I have just about had it up to here (imagine me pointing at my forehead) with her. Tonight, if we have more problems with her, we will be taking drastic measures. The Wife is planning on putting in ear plugs, and I am thinking about running away. Hey, at least it would be better than dying a slow death from baby-induced insomnia. I'll let you know how it all works out.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The End Of Naked Time?

A while back I wrote about how the Boy loves to run around the house in the nude. Whether it's in the morning, when he has gotten out of his jammies, or at night when he has gotten out of his clothes, he always wants to take the opportunity to run from room to room, shouting "I'm naked!" at the top of his lungs. He usually makes several loops around the interior of the house, and probably would just keep running and shouting, if not for his mom or me telling him to stop. As of this writing, it is unclear exactly who he learned this from. At least that's the story that I'm going with.
This photo of the Boy having Naked Time was censored by the FCC. Too bad, because it was pretty funny.

We may have to put an end to Naked Time, though. Last night he was having a particularly fun time while streaking throughout the house. We all were laughing at him, which probably spurred him to extend the length of his run longer than usual. Well, this Naked Time lasted about a minute longer than it should have. I probably should have noticed that the three-foot-tall naked blur came running in one side of the kitchen that I also was in, but then never left through the other side. He stopped in the middle of the kitchen floor, and proceeded to leave a nice sized yellow puddle underneath a chair that just happened to be sitting there. The commotion that followed was frenzied but quick, and ended with the Boy being whisked away into an awaiting diaper.

We are tempted to let Naked Time happen at least a few more times. He really does have fun, and as long as we keep an eye on him, we should be able to keep the accidents to a minimum. Besides, I need to get at least one good Naked Time video. If I do, we'll be sure to play it at his wedding reception, whenever that may happen. Just one of the perks of being a parent.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Inside a Baby's Head

I have long held the theory that babies' heads are comprised of three things: a really thick skull, which lies above a 3-4 inch thick layer of jello, which surrounds a tiny, pea-sized brain. I now know that I need to revise this theory, because I didn't take into account the space needed to hold at least 5 quarts of snot.

My original theory was built upon the following facts:
  • Babies are not real smart, so their brains must not be very big.
  • Babies smack their heads on things all the time, and they make pretty loud "thud" noises, so their skulls must be pretty thick.
  • Even though they smack their heads all the time, they somehow continue to get smarter and smarter as they get older, so there must be some kind of protective layer that keeps their tiny brains from incurring too much damage. Jello is the obvious choice. Preferably red jello, whatever flavor "red" is.
Today, while home with the two youngest kids, I realized I needed to amend my theory. Yesterday morning, the Boy came down with a runny nose. I'm not sure where he got it, but I am sure that his runny nose quickly spread to his younger sister, the Baby. She seemed OK during the first part of the morning, but when she woke up from her morning nap, it was like she had mutated into some kind of snot-producing zombie baby. Snot was oozing out of every pore in her face, and no matter how quickly I wiped it, more came to take its place.

All that snot had to come from somewhere, so there must be a giant snot "locker" somewhere inside her head. As soon as I figure out where it is, I will come up with a new diagram. The most logical thing to do would be to make the brain smaller...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Wife, The Justifiable Murderer

The following story is almost entirely true. The name of the bank has been changed to protect the stupid.

We recently were able to refinance our mortgage. We were able to turn our 30 year mortgage into a 15 year mortgage, and pretty much keep the same monthly payment. We are totally stoked about this, as you can imagine. The only thing we weren't stoked about was the company we refinanced with, Goliath National Bank. The main reason we weren't real happy with them was because they were terrible, in all regards. And that's putting it lightly!

They did everything horribly. Their customer service was awful. They dragged their heels on getting the proper info required, and then blamed us. Their slowness caused the closing to be pushed back from late September to early October, and then they didn't tell us not to make our regularly scheduled October mortgage payment, causing us to get charged an extra $25, since our payment made the overall numbers change. And they wouldn't cover the $25 fee, even though it was their fault.

They lost things we mailed to them. They took forever to return calls. They wouldn't listen to us. They didn't do what they promised to do. And all of this happened, even though they already owned our previous mortgage! It took 136 days to go through the refinance process, according to my wife. And I believe her, because she was the one who had to deal with them on a daily basis. They made her madder than I ever have, and that's saying something!

We finally closed on the deal last week after yet another delay, and luckily, the only person who came to the closing was from a third party title company. I think if anyone from Goliath National Bank had showed up, my wife might have committed justifiable homicide. And I would have helped hide the body.

Other than the fact they are completely horrible to work with, I'm sure Goliath National Bank is a real fine company. Just don't mention their name around my wife for a few years, ok?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Got a Cold or Virus? Bring It On!

Since the Girl started going to preschool in early September, we have had approximately 482 colds and viruses go through our household. Most of them hit quickly, gave us all a few sniffles, and then made their way on to our friends and other family members. We tried to only aim them at our enemies, but colds very rarely do what you want them to do..

We have had some viruses that have lasted longer and/or caused more havoc, and those are never fun. Especially for me, because those longer lasting viruses really seem to like me the best. Sure, they might take a quick tour of the kids' gastrointestinal tract, but they really seem to hunker down inside me. My gastrointestinal tract must be prime real estate for viruses. If the other members of my family are sick for a day or two, I invariably get sick for a week or more. It 's nothing to gloat about. Believe me, I've looked at every angle of the situation, because I usually love to gloat.

Something magical happened last week, though, that has me giddy with delight. I got violently ill late on Thursday evening, which I was sort of expecting, since the Girl had gotten violently ill the previous weekend. But getting violently ill wasn't what made me giddy with delight. What made me giddy happened mid-morning on Friday. The violent illness went away! It didn't last for ten days. It didn't last for a week. It didn't even last for 24 hours. I was pretty much back to "normal" (I put that in quotes because, let's face it, how normal am I ever?) within about 12 hours of the first twinges of nausea.
Hopefully, when I get sick next time, I won't need to carry this around for very long!

I can't describe how giddy I am, thinking that maybe I have broken the cycle of week-long illnesses. It almost makes me excited to get sick again, just to see how quickly I can recover. See, this is why I put "normal" in quotes...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Baby Can Talk!!!!......?

I don't want to be one of those parents who claim that their child is a genius, virtuoso, prodigy, or whatever else you want to call it. But, in this case, I can't help it! The Baby is all of those, and I've got a witness to prove it!

I was home with the Baby and the Boy this morning, and we were all just hanging out, playing and/or crawling around in the living room. The Boy was shooting baskets on our 4-foot high hoop, which I can dominate on, just so you know, and the Baby was sitting next to me, playing with the Boy's Scout toy.

For those of you don't know, Scout is a stuffed green dog that you can hook up to your computer, and download personalized sayings and songs with your kid's name in it. So, each of Scout's paws has a hidden button; if you push one of his paws Scout will say something about your child, such as "The Boy likes broccoli. I like broccoli, too." If you push another paw, Scout will sing one of several short songs that includes your child's name in it. Another button does something else, and the fourth button turns Scout off.

Well, I was pushing random buttons on Scout for the Baby's amusement. She was giggling and cooing during the songs, just having a great time.

Then, it happened. We got to the end of one of the songs, a song which ended with Scout saying the Boy's name. As Scout said the Boy's name, the Baby made a noise that sounded exactly like the Boy's name, too! It was uncanny. And the Boy noticed it, as well. He looked at me and said "Baby said me!" (Before you get after me for his poor grammar, remember he's only 2.) I looked at him, and said "Baby did say you, didn't she?!"

I was flabbergasted, but it was the Boy who wanted to recreate the moment, when he said, "Make Baby say me again!" But I had to admit that I didn't know how to make the Baby say him again. I didn't know how she had done it in the first place. The moment passed, and we all went back to playing with our respective toys. But, it's one of those moments which I will never forget - the moment I first knew my baby was a genius! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hoodie Strings

I am really not sure why, but all of our kids absolutely love my hoodie strings. They attack them voraciously, like a pack of starving hyenas that has chased down a groggy, lethargic and skinny zebra. The kids don't actually eat my hoodie strings, but they do try to suck every last bit of hoodie string marrow that they can get out of them. It's an odd phenomenon. Oftentimes they have sucked my hoodie strings so hard and for so long that I have to wring out the drool when I get home.
The strings on this hoodie would look delicious, if you were about 8 months old. Go Golden Bears!

I don't mean that they all still try to eat my hoodie strings all the time. The two older kids, the Girl and the Boy, have outgrown the fascination. But, when they were from the age of about 5 months until they were a year or so, attacking my hoodie strings was one of their favorite hobbies. It was right up there with pooping and napping.

The Baby has just recently realized her fondness for my hoodie strings. But that doesn't mean she likes them any less than our other kids did. Whenever I pick her up to carry her anywhere, she instantly grabs my hoodie strings and starts the devouring. I probably should clarify that this only happens when I am wearing a hoodie, but if you know me, I am always wearing a hoodie, so there's no need to clarify.

Once the kids start walking, and there's no need for their Daddy to carry them around any more, the hoodie string love quickly subsides. I guess I'll have to find another way to bond with my kids. If I don't think of something soon, I may have to resort to talking to them. Oh no!

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Love Food

I love food. I love thinking about food. I love looking at food. I love smelling food. Of course, I love eating food. I even love watching food shows on TV. Not that I make an effort to watch it all the time, but I love watching the show America's Test Kitchen on PBS. And the Wife and I found another fun food show while we were watching the cable TV in a hotel room recently - Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, or something to that effect. Whatever it's called, they showed some delicious looking food on there. I was salivating while watching a guy eat a Juicy Lucy hamburger that was topped with carved roast beef and cheddar cheese sauce, when my wife gave me one of the nicest compliments she's ever given me. She looked at me and said "I can't believe you're not hugely fat!" Isn't she the best!

Since I am constantly thinking about food, I came up with a list of the Top 5 Restaurants That I Miss Since I Don't Work in Roseville Any More. I now work in Lake Elmo, which is home to a couple of nice restaurants, but the area does not have nearly the selection that the Roseville area has. So I often find myself daydreaming about the restaurants on this list. See if you agree with me. And if you don't, keep it to yourself! They are, in order:
The amazing fish & chips at Mac's Fish & Chips. I dream about this every day of my life. Photo courtesy of Mac's Fish & Chips

  1. Mac's Fish & Chips. I love good fish & chips, and this hole in the wall has the best anywhere.
  2. Eddington's. Endless bowls of delicious soup for under $8, and you can choose from any of the 12 flavors every time you fill up? Yes please!
  3. Khan's Mongolian Barbecue. This place is fun, and the food is awesome.
  4. Royal Orchid Thai Food. The best Pad Thai I have had, although they have since moved a few miles away.
  5. China Buffet. This place was just down the mall from where I worked. They switched from a buffet to a sit-down place. I don't think they lasted long after that... 
There are a lot more great places to eat in the Roseville area, but these are the top 5 that I miss the most. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Worst Weekend of the Year

I used to LOVE Daylight Saving Time. Up until I was 34, I spent every long and dreary winter looking forward to the Saturday night in late March when I could set my clock forward, which meant the days would instantly get longer, and life was filled with excitement. I could stay out later, doing whatever it was I was doing -fishing, hiking, golfing. Daylight Saving Time was the best time of the year!

Now, I have kids. Daylight Saving Time does not mean all of the fun things that it used to mean. Now, every March, it just means that our three kids will get one less hour of sleep on that Saturday night, be grumpy all day that Sunday, and won't be able to get back on schedule for at least a week or more. Sure, once they do, the longer days are nice and all, but I don't think it's worth the frustration.

And don't get me started on the return to Central Standard Time in early November, which just happens to be tomorrow for anyone who doesn't own a calendar. That's even worse! Sure, the idea of getting an extra hour of sleep is nice, but have you ever tried to explain to a 3-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 7-month-old that they should try to "sleep in"? That doesn't work! The entire concept is completely lost on them.

So, instead of Mommy & Daddy actually getting an extra hour of sleep, we really are getting an extra hour of time that we have to spend with our kids! Doesn't the government realize that we want to spend less time with our kids?!?! Mommy's and Daddy's entire days revolve around the hope we get knowing that our kids will soon be asleep and we can get some stuff done. Now, on this coming Sunday, we'll have to keep the rascals occupied for another whole hour! This is going to be the worst weekend ever.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dogs Are The Worst!

The chaos has been turned up a notch in our house for the past week or so. We've got a problem that really isn't our fault, but it's kind of embarrassing, so I have been hesitant to write about it up until now. But it's time to come clean. We have fleas. Or, more accurately, both of our dogs have them. We're pretty sure we know where they got them, but it doesn't do any good being angry about it. We need to focus our attention on getting rid of them.

To that end, we have already done several things to try and eradicate them (the fleas I mean, not our dogs. Although there have been times when I might have considered that. Like each night at 3AM when Gromit wakes us up with his relentless scratching and digging at the fleas. He is never that loud during the day. Why does he wait until 3AM to do it? Dogs are the worst!).

The Wife has taken the reigns on the attempted eradications. She has done all sorts of things, none of which have worked. Both dogs have gotten numerous flea baths, but those just seem to make the fleas squeaky clean, instead of killing them. Last night the Wife tried a "flea dip", which is similar to a bath, but you don't rinse the "dip" off of the dogs, you just leave it on them. That serves two purposes: First, the fleas get nice and clean again, and second, the dogs run around the house, smearing the toxic "dip" all over the carpet and any and all pieces of furniture they can find. What could be better?

Anyways, nothing has worked in the eradicating department, so we are going to try another approach. After googling "How to eradicate fleas", we came across an interesting all-natural product called Diatomaceous Earth. To me it sounded like an awesome name for a heavy metal band, but in fact Diatomaceous Earth is a naturally occurring powdery substance that dries out evil bugs from the inside out, effectively ridding your house of any pests. And it's safe to spread in your house and on your dogs, so hopefully we will be flea-free in a couple of days. Some people even eat the stuff, claiming that it makes them super healthy. I just want it to get rid of the fleas. I'll let you know if it works.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chaotic Kids: M.B.U. (Mobile Baby Unit)

I was kind of hoping that I would be able to post a video of this momentous occasion for my 100th post on Chaotic Kids & Clutter, but the 101st will have to do. The Baby has been close to crawling for what seems like a couple of months. Finally, this morning, when I didn't have my camera nearby, she crawled about 5 feet across the living room floor, from one toy to another. She finally did it again in front of the camera, although she didn't go nearly as far this time. She still would not be classified as a full-fledged "crawler", but she's getting there. Just what we need, another moving child in the house...

Monday, October 29, 2012

100th Post Gala Extravaganza!!!

No matter which party they're in, all politicians love this blog!
I wasn't exactly sure how well this whole blog thing was going to go when I first started it in May. And, maybe it's not going as well as I think it is, but I am having fun writing it, and some people seem to like reading it, so I would say it's going OK. If you are currently reading this, I would like to send out a great big Thank You for making the Total Pageviews number go up by one. I never thought I would get so obsessed with looking at a fake odometer-type thingie on the internet, but seeing the number go up really boosts my ego. So, thank you.

Of course, I also need to thank my family. Without my three crazy kids and the two annoying dogs, I wouldn't have had much to write about over these past few months. And my wonderful wife, who wrangles the kids while I go off in the other room to pound away on the computer keyboard, also needs to be thanked profusely. She is an amazing woman, and she also provides much needed counsel when I ask her if what I have written would offend her 98-year-old grandmother. The last thing I want to do is offend Grandma Millie, one of my most avid readers, and my wife helps to ensure I don't do that. Very often.

I also want to thank my good friend and pastor, Kory Kleinsasser. It was at an early morning breakfast meeting back in early May that he suggested I start a blog. While scarfing down my delicious Moon Over My Hammy sandwich that morning, I initially scoffed at the idea, simply because I, at one time, had read that blogs have an average readership of one person. But then I thought about it some more, and decided to give it a try. Now I am totally addicted to blogging, to the point of ignoring my family and all my household chores. Thank you, Kory, for helping me get to this point!

Well, it's been a fun first 100 posts. Who knows what the next 100 will bring. I guess we'll all just have to keep reading to find out. Have a great day!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Emotional Baggage

Don't get me wrong. The Boy is about as fun and loving as a 2-year-old boy can be. Just yesterday, we were out to dinner with the in-laws, and he got to sit next to his 98-year-old great grandma. Without any provocation, he leaned over, gave her a big hug, and then proceeded to kiss her several times. He just loves people, and is quick to give hugs on a regular basis. He's quite the boy!

But lately, he's also been going through some kind of emotional phase. It doesn't happen very often, but every once in a while he'll just start crying, for seemingly no reason.

When we ask him why he's crying, we enter into one of the sillier conversations we've had as parents, and we have had a lot of silly conversations with our kids. It always goes something like:

The Boy: (Crying and/or whining for no apparent reason).

Daddy: Hey Bubs, what's wrong?

TB: I'm crying, Daddy!

D: Yes, I see that. Why are you crying?

TB: I'm sad.

D: Why are you sad?

TB: I'm sad, Daddy.

D: Yes, but why are you sad?

TB: I'm sad.

D: Yes, I know that. But why are you sad?

TB: I'm crying, Daddy.

D: Yes, but why are you crying?

TB: I don't know, Daddy.

At this point, I either pull out some of my hair or turn up the radio loud enough that I can't hear him crying any more. Soon maybe I will learn to stop asking him why he's crying in the first place. That seems like the best option I can come up with right now.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Friday Top Five- TV Comedies

Yes, it's time for another list from the mind of me. This time I have scoured my memory to find the best television comedies of all time. It was difficult for me to pare down the list, because there have been so many funny shows throughout the years. I finally decided on a criteria that helped me get it down to a manageable number: I decided that, if a show was able to get me to stop my channel surfing every time I came across it on the TV, even just to see which episode it was before moving on to something else, then it was worthy of making this list. Here are my Top Five TV Comedies Of All Time (In no real order):
The late Dermot Morgan played the title role in Father Ted.
  • Boston Legal
  • It's Garry Shandling's Show
  • Father Ted
  • Arrested Development
  • WKRP in Cincinnati
  • Soap
  • Modern Family
  • The Office
  • 3rd Rock From the Sun
  • Psych
  • Scrubs
  • The Kids In The Hall
  • Seinfeld
  • Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist
As you can see, there are some old shows and some modern ones. Even a British show made the list! Actually, now that I think about it, there probably should have been more British shows included...

Well, this list is sure to be controversial. Let me know what you think.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Baby is a Lunker

Parents (or at least the Wife and I) treat their babies like they would a largemouth bass. The bigger the baby, the prouder the parent is, just like in bass fishing. When parents take their baby in to the pediatrician's office, it's more fun to hear that their baby is in the "98th percentile" in whatever they happen to be measuring at the time (weight, height, length, coolness, etc.), instead of hearing, "Uh, you have been remembering to feed your baby, right?" A chunky baby is a healthy baby, just like in bass fishing.

Along that same line of thinking, I am proud to announce that we switched the Baby, who is now a little over 7 months old, into her clothes that are labeled as "12 Months". She was still fitting into some of her 6-9 month clothes, but some of them were so tight that we were afraid she would have trouble breathing. So, last night, I brought up the boxes of hand-me-down 12 month clothes that were packed away in the basement, and the Wife went through them all. The Baby looks cute in her new clothes, and she seems to be breathing very easily.

This bass is in the 95th percentile in everything. Its parents must be very proud!
Having clothes that are labeled for your baby's age makes me wonder how that would work if they labeled adult clothes that way. Would I fit into clothes that were labeled for a 38-year-old, which I am? Would I be able to suck my gut in enough to fit into some 30-year-old clothes? Would I actually feel more comfy if I wore clothes made for a 45-year-old? Would I wear 38-year-old pants, but 52-year-old shirts, because all my weight is in my tummy? These are all good questions, but not good enough to waste any more time on. I'm going bass fishing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Looking For The Top 1%

I have come up with a very controversial theory that is bound to cause an uproar throughout the country, and maybe even the entire known and unknown universe. It will inevitably ruffle some people's feathers, and probably rub some people the wrong way, and countless other idioms that I can't think of right now. This might not be the best time or place to unleash my new theory, what with all the political savagery going on in the land, but if I wait for a more opportune time, it may not have as big an impact as it should. And I might forget it. So, without further delay, here is my Theory of the Top 1%:


I theorize that 1% of the newborn and baby sized socks in the world contain 99% of the elastic!

I know this theory might be too mind-boggling to grasp for some of you, so if that's the case, just nod your head to show agreement with all the parents.

Yes, my theory is that only one out of every 100 pairs of baby socks contains enough elastic to keep them on the baby's foot for more than 5 seconds. I came up with this theory because our house is home to approximately 1,000 pairs of baby socks, but only 10 or so actually work. The rest are useless. When we are fortunate enough to find a pair that has enough elastic, we make our baby wear them for between three and four months in a row, because we don't want to have to go through the piles to find another good pair.
These may be the cutest socks ever made. Unfortunately, they are useless. I can tell, just by looking at the photo, that there is not enough elastic in them to keep them on any baby's foot. Photo courtesy of

I have another theory that I haven't tried out yet. The jist of that theory is that, instead of looking for socks that stay on, maybe I should always dress my baby in socks that fall off. Then they will fall off outside of our home, and I will never have to be bothered with them again...This theory needs a little bit more work. Look for my manifesto on this subject at a later date.

I know this may be a lot to absorb right now. Your mind is probably spinning with all these theories flying around. The good thing is that you can just let me worry about all the useless baby socks we have in the world. I'm sure I'll be the only one. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Anatomically Correct

I just changed a very messy diaper on the Boy. The mess got everywhere, including all over his man-parts. Cleaning him off was not a lot of fun, but it did inspire me to really start to work on getting him potty-trained. Up until now, we haven't put a lot of effort into it, but after this diaper, we definitely will.

I didn't come here to write about potty training, though. There was a much more delicate situation evolving. The Boy is very inquisitive, so when I was cleaning off his tiddly bits, he asked me, "Whatcha doing, Daddy?" I wasn't exactly sure if he was ready for this, but I told him that I was cleaning off his (insert anatomically correct word here). I don't think he fully understood, because he kept asking me "Where's the peanut?" Peanuts are one of his favorite snacks, so I think I was just making him hungry.

The conversation ended there, but I think it was a good start to the discussion about the difference between boys and girls. We'll be sure and continue it this afternoon, when Mommy is home with the kids and Daddy has gone in to work. 
Too bad Leonardo da Vinci isn't still alive so he could teach the Boy about anatomy. I guess it will be all up to the Wife...  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

4 Hours And Counting...

Some of you may have read my blog these past few days, and thought to yourself, "Self, there's something a little bit off with Scott lately. He doesn't seem like himself. He almost seems too happy and energetic. I wonder what's going on?..." If you have thought that, you should give yourself a virtual pat on the back, because you are right, there has been something going on. We've had yet another weekend without the two older kids! :-)

The kids' Aunt Sonie defied all logic once again, and took our 2- and 3-year-old on a cross-country trip, all by herself. They went down to Oklahoma again to visit other aunts, uncles, and cousins. They also went camping for a few nights while they were there, which also defies all logic. I am not real keen on taking them camping when the Wife goes with. I can't imagine taking them camping by myself. That is kookie talk! I guess the other aunts and uncles helped out, but still. It seems insane.

Any way, they are on their way back home now. Should be here in about four hours. We have been fastidiously cleaning the house, so that the kids will have a clean palette to make new messes on. I think it's the least we could do to help welcome them home.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Top Ten Shows That I Used To Think Were Awesome, But In Fact Were Totally Lame

We don't have cable or satellite TV in our house, so we have to make do with the channels that are broadcast "over the air." Here in the Twin Cities there is a new channel that plays various TV shows from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and the Wife and I have watched several episodes of an old favorite of ours, Three's Company. Watching this show that we both loved during our younger years brings back a lot of memories, but it also makes me ask myself "How could I have ever liked such a stupid show?!?!"

It seems like that happens quite often. I will see a movie or a TV show that I used to love, and it won't quite live up to my memories of how great it was. In honor of this phenomenon, I have come up with my list of the Top Ten Shows That I Used To Think Were Awesome, But In Fact Were Totally Lame. See if you agree with any of them:
  • Three's Company
  • Gilligan's Island
  • Perfect Strangers
  • Too Close For Comfort
  • Three's A Crowd
  • Bosom Buddies
  • Diff'rent Strokes
  • CHiPs
  • The Facts Of Life
  • Mork & Mindy
  • The Ropers
I'm sure there were worse shows than these on the air, but at one point or another, and for some unknown reason, I used to really like these shows. I even remember being really sad when both Three's Company and its spinoff, Three's A Crowd, were being taken off the air. Now, looking back at them, I can't believe they were on the air as long as they were!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

That Plastic Monkey With The Jingle Ball Inside It Looks Delicious!

We have a pretty happy Baby in our house, at least most of the time. One of the things we do to try and keep her happy is to sit her down somewhere in the middle of the floor, and then completely surround her with some of the billions of baby toys that we have accumulated over the years. This usually can keep her occupied for at least 30 seconds or so.

No, she actually can stay occupied with her pile of toys for at least several minutes, and some times even up to a half an hour or more. When I say that she can stay occupied, I don't mean that she actually "plays" with them. No, she isn't quite to that stage yet. Instead, she'll pick up a toy, look it over very carefully, and then shove it into her mouth, where she will make every attempt at sucking any and all nutritional sustenance out of it. Unfortunately for her, toys aren't all that nutritious. Upon realization of this fact, she tosses that toy into the discard pile, and then does the same thing to whatever toy she happens to pick up next.

This can go on, like I said, for up to a half an hour or more. Thankfully, being part of the baby species, which is known to have a brain about the size of a craisin, she forgets which toys she has already tasted, so she will happily pick up, and try to eat, the same toys several times. When she finally starts to get tired of how those toys taste, we can just change out the toys, and it's like she has an entirely new smorgasbord in front of her. Bon apetit! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Drop-Down Crib of Death

As I have mentioned on this blog before, we moved the Baby's crib out of the other kids' bedroom a few weeks ago. This move has had a tremendous effect on everyone in the house. The Baby learned how to soothe herself and put herself back to sleep in the middle of the night through the use of the "cry it out" method, and this, in turn, has helped Mommy and Daddy get much more sleep than they had been getting. The other two kids have also been sleeping better, because their baby sister wasn't in their room, waking them up with her crying umpteen times per night.

Really, moving her crib out and letting her cry it out in the living room has been one of the best things we have done as parents. There has only been one drawback to the whole situation, and that is the fact that Daddy had to take the entire crib apart in order to get it out of the bedroom. It is about 1 inch too wide to get out the door, and that is even after I took the bedroom door off its hinge.

At first, when I was trying to move it, I thought I could just take one of the crib's sides off, and then jimmy the rest of it around the corner into the hallway, and out to the living room. It became obvious that would not work while I was in mid-jimmy, so I then had to take the rest of it apart, while it was stuck halfway through the doorway.

If we were common law-abiding citizens, taking it apart probably wouldn't have been such a major undertaking, but we are huge fans of the old-style Cribs With The Drop-Down Sides of Death, which are currently illegal. Apparently, a baby or two got their heads stuck in the drop-down side, so these cribs have been banned, but we have always liked having the ability to raise and lower the sides, which makes it easier to lay our ridiculously large babies down, without herniating ourselves. And we have never had an issue with the drop-down feature, either.

We never had an issue with it, that is, until I decided to take apart the crib and move it into the living room. It seems that having the drop-down feature on a crib adds approximately 4,692 extra screws to it. Taking it apart was a major pain. Then I had to put it back together in the living room.

The worst thing was that I knew that, eventually, the Baby would learn to be a good sleeper, and she and her crib would have to be moved back into the bedroom, so I would have to take it all apart again. Today was that day. I went ahead and did that, but part of me thought that it might be easier to take the bedroom door frame down in order to get enough clearance so I wouldn't have to take the crib apart. Either that or buy a new house with bigger doors. After wrestling with this crib, those both sound like viable options.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Wouldn't it be nice if life gave us parents a break while our kids are little? I mean, we are responsible for turning rambunctious, squirrely, careless kids, who don't listen, into well-behaved and thoughtful members of society, which sometimes can seem like an unattainable goal. And we have to do this, even while the other aspects of life continue to throw roadblocks at us in rapid-fire succession.

Wouldn't it be nice if you, as a parent, could put the rest of your life on standby, so you wouldn't have to deal with all the flat tires, and the leaky faucets, and the sumac trees that are invading your lawn, and the mice that seem to keep finding a way into your house, and the woodpecker that makes a new, different, hole in your siding every year, and the city that tells you that the simple fix you are doing to your house requires a permit that you didn't get so now you owe twice as much as you originally would have if you had realized that you needed a permit for such a silly thing in the first place, and the transmission on the van that would cost almost as much as you paid for the entire van, and the mess in the garage that you have let accumulate over the past several months so now there isn't any room in the garage for either of your vehicles, and so on and so on.

Why can't we just focus on raising awesome kids for a few years, and then come back to the other parts of life when the kids move out? I guess we probably should have realized we would be in this mess when we decided to have kids. It probably would be a good life lesson to teach the 2- and 3-year-old right now - that life doesn't stop, no matter what you've got going on. I think I'll sit them down and have a nice talk with them about it, as soon as they come in from cleaning out the garage.

Monday, October 15, 2012

It's The Great Pumpkin, Scooter Pot Pie

Today was the day for the kids' annual trek to the local pumpkin patch. Thankfully, yet again, Mommy & Daddy did not have to go, because Grandma D. and Aunt Stephie took them. I wouldn't say that either Mommy or I actually hate going to the pumpkin patch, but I would say that if it was up to us, our kids wouldn't know what the words "pumpkin" and "patch" meant.

Pumpkins, in general, when they are sitting out in a tranquil field, hundreds of miles from our house, are fine. Pumpkins, sitting in our house, waiting to be carved, are the Worst Things Ever.

Neither my wife nor I are fans of carving pumpkins, but, when you have a 2- and a 3-year-old in your house, and there are pumpkins on the premises, they need to be carved. If it were up to me, I would just give the kids my handheld jigsaw and let them go at it. But, even though I promise my wife that I would go over the finer points of saw safety with the kids first, she always says no.
This is NOT any of my children. Whoever took this photo has way too much time on their hands. I do not have that much time, so I stole it off the internet. From

So, Mommy and Daddy do the carving. Actually, the carving isn't so bad, other than the fact that we can never decide on a good design, so every pumpkin in our house ends up with the same generic jaggled-tooth grin. It's the digging out of the excrement that really stinks. Those pumpkin innards are the worst. The only thing that makes it even remotely tolerable is the fact that my wife, the Saint, digs through all the goo to get at the seeds, and then roasts them until they are deliciously crispy and crunchy. And then, being the good husband and father that I am, I pretty much eat them all myself. Did I mention that pumpkin seeds are delicious? Maybe carving pumpkins isn't so bad, after all....nah, now that I think about it, it's still terrible!