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 freezedriedfruit.com
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:

Nothing.

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.