Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2+1 = Disaster!

Apparently the Wife and I aren't very good at math. Even though one of us, who shall remain nameless, majored in Math Education in college. The other one of us was a Marketing major, and we all know people with a major in Marketing don't know their prime numbers from a rhombus, so I, I mean whoever the Marketing major is, shouldn't be expected to be good at math. But, it turns out neither of us are.

If we were good at math, we would have seen that adding another child to the two children we already had would not add up to a happy and content household. We pretty much learned that as soon as we brought the youngest home from the hospital 21 months ago or so, but if we were smart we should have seen it coming.
This is the type of math we do around our house. Seems logical to me... Courtesy of tonterias.com

Several of our closest fiends, I mean friends, warned us when we announced we were pregnant with the Baby that we were about to be outnumbered. Although that is true, the fact that there is one more child than there are parents in the house has not been a big contributor to the added stress levels. Most of the stress has happened when all three of the kids try to play together.

For some reason our kids are only able to get along nicely while playing when there are only two of them doing the playing. At first the Wife and I thought the problem was that the two older kids, the Boy and the Girl, didn't like their baby sister, the Baby, and didn't want her to play with them. When she would come around they would invariably try to push her out of the picture, metaphorically speaking, which would cause much consternation on her part, and lead to much consternation on our part, as well.

Lately, though, it seems as though the Baby isn't necessarily the problem. The problem is the math. Apparently three kids is not a happy equation, no matter which of the kids is the odd one out. If the Girl and the Baby are the only ones playing, they are starting to get along beautifully, for the most part. If the Boy and the Baby are the ones doing the playing, they can go for a long time, sometimes even an hour or more, without taking a swing at each other. But when all three of them play, it only takes a couple of minutes before someone is crying.

So, it looks like we have to do some creative math to make things work around here. Do we segregate one of the kids at all times? Do we find some toys or games that need three people to make them work? Do we ship one of the kids off to Istanbul for the next 20 years, and if so, which one? Should we flip a coin? Do we have another kid and then pair them off in groups of two? Definitely not. So, Istanbul it is! Anybody got a three-sided quarter I can borrow?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Missing: A Father's Intuition

I have absolutely no intuition, at least when it comes to the kids. I never know what's about to happen, or what should happen, or even what could happen. Most of the time, I don't fully comprehend what is happening, even if I'm seeing it with my own two eyes. I am a very reactive daddy, but at least I think I react in the proper way most of the time, except for those times when I don't. Thankfully you don't know about most of those times...
Generally speaking, I don't have a clue...

Yes, I don't know if there is such a thing as a father's intuition, but I know that I don't have one. Maybe other fathers develop an intuition, but I sure haven't.

The Wife, on the other hand, has developed one of the most amazing mother's intuitions I have ever witnessed. Or maybe she was born with it. Who knows. What I do know is that she can see things coming a mile away. Somehow she always seems to know what milestones are about to occur, and what we as a family should do to get ready for them.

Take last week, for example. One of the days that the Wife was home with the kids, she made the decision to try the Baby out in a bed during naptime, instead of in her crib. Remember, this is a child who has been ornery since the day she was born. Why would we ever want her to be free to roam around the room without any supervision, breaking, tearing, and ripping everything she can get her grubby little hands on? I was assuming we would probably keep her in her crib until the day she goes off to college.

But the Wife saw something in the Baby that told her it was time to move her into a bed. And, lo and behold, she was perfectly content and happy during her nap. She didn't roam around at all, and nothing was broken, torn, or ripped, at least that we could find. And she's been sleeping in her bed, both at naptime and at night, ever since, with only one minor catastrophe, when she fell out and bonked her head. Other than that, it's been the smoothest transition in the history of mankind.

But how did the Wife know? What did she foresee? What takes place in the minds of mommies? Us daddies may never know...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Public Apology to all of New Brighton, MN, and all Surrounding Communities

The amazing thing is that we have lived in our current neighborhood for about six months now, and this is the first time that I can think of that I need to apologize to all the neighbors. You'd think I'd be in double digits by now...

Yes, I feel I need to apologize to my neighbors for my behavior last Wednesday morning. Wednesdays are my day to take the kids to Preschool, but things weren't going all that smoothly. We were having a difficult time getting out of the house in a timely fashion. Actually, we were having a difficult time with life in general. It's funny that now, a week later, I can't even remember what everybody's issues were, but I can clearly remember that, as I was trying to get all three of our children into their boots, hats, mittens and winter coats, I was surrounded by crying. Not just one of the kids; no, not even two of the kids; but all three of the kids were in hysterics - crying, howling, and throwing themselves on the floor. I was very close to joining them. It was enough to make me want to pull my hair out. Or scream, which is what I did.

Yes, I reached my boiling point and let out a nice loud "AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!" at the top of my lungs. I'm pretty sure that anyone walking within a 12 block radius could have heard me, but thankfully it was bitterly cold and we had gotten about 10 inches of snow overnight, so nobody in their right mind would be out walking. My scream did just about scare the Boy out of the boots I had just worked so hard at getting on him, though. The fright only stopped his hysterics for a millisecond - he went right back to his wailing and gnashing of teeth as soon as he realized I was not a crazed homicidal maniac. Just crazed.

My cherubic angels were not any more cooperative when we went out to get in the van. We were already very late for Preschool, but none of them wanted to cooperate by getting in their carseats. Since I had already screamed once, I figured why stop now? So I belted out something along the lines of "WOULD YOU PLEASE JUST GET IN YOUR SEATS?!?!?!" That's when I looked over and saw my neighbor in her driveway, cleaning the snow off of her car. Actually, she had stopped cleaning the snow off her car, and was watching me, I assume because she wanted to see what her madman neighbor might do next.

So, any way, I feel I need to apologize. To anyone who was within earshot of my tantrum at approximately 9:10 AM last Wednesday, December 4th, I am sorry I acted that way, and I am sorry if I caused you or your family members any distress. I promise it won't happen again. Although to be safe, if you live within 12 blocks of us, maybe you should invest in some heavy-duty earplugs for Wednesday mornings... 
This is a very realistic artist's rendering of the situation that occurred last Wednesday, except the artist forgot the other two hysterical children...

 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Look Out, We're Having Another Stud Party!

"When is Scott going to post another one of his hilarious blogs?"

"Why hasn't he written very much on his blog lately?"

"Has there ever been any blogger in the history of the world who is as cool as Scott?"

You've probably heard all of these questions being uttered by inquisitive people over the past several weeks. Heck, maybe you've even been the one doing the uttering. And, who can blame you? My blog posts have been suspiciously paltry as of late: only three posts in the entire month of November, and this being just my second of December. I could go with the normal, boring excuses, like not having as much time because it's the Holidays, or my fingers froze in the -25 degree windchill so I can't type, or I'm actually spending some quality time with my kids for once in my life. We all know that those things wouldn't keep me from my computer keyboard, though, so there must be another reason.

There is another reason! I have been spending more and more time renovating our basement. Yes, the new house came with more mold than we anticipated, so I ended up tearing down most of the walls in the basement, and have started redoing them from scratch. Lately I have mostly been putting up new studs, so, since I am a very immature person, whenever I head downstairs to do some work I tell myself there's going to be a real "stud party" down there. I think it's good to have inside jokes with yourself. Mostly because when people see you laughing for what seems to be no reason at all, they tend to leave you alone. 

Aside from the seemingly limitless joke possibilities, we soon will be ready to hang new sheetrock. After that we'll get some new carpet; and in no time we'll have a finished basement that we can exile our children to when we need some quiet time. I need to stop blogging so I can hurry up and get it done!

Hopefully our house won't end up looking like this when I am done renovating things, but with my handyman skills, you never know what the end result will be...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Slowly Evolving Baby

"Having a baby is like having a dog...that slowly learns how to talk." - Chris Turk

"...Awesome!" - John Dorian

The above conversation took place between two somewhat dopey, and very immature, fictional characters on the fictional television comedy Scrubs. It may seem like an outlandish thing to say about babies, but in all reality, it's not all that far from the truth. In the beginning, a baby is really more like a pet than they are like an adult human, but very gradually they learn how to do things that make you think they may, some day, become a functioning part of society.

Take the Baby, for example. She is now over 20 months old. When she was a newborn she was essentially a blob, not able to do anything for herself except sleep, cry, and poop. Gradually she has evolved into a being who could hold herself up, then scoot around on the floor, then crawl, and eventually she began to walk. Now she runs around the house like a turkey. Sure she still falls over every once in a while, but who doesn't?

At birth she could hardly grasp anything, but she quickly was able to hold her own bottle; within 6 months she started feeding herself solid food; and now she regularly feeds herself soup and yogurt with a full-sized spoon, and hardly makes a mess. She eats way better than her older sister, who has turned in to the Pickiest Eater in The Entire World. At least on most nights...

The talking part of the evolution of the Baby has come somewhat slower. At this age the Girl was able to have adult-like conversations with us and regularly could be heard singing the songs that her mommy and I sang around the house. The Baby isn't nearly that evolved yet, but she is starting to be able to communicate with us verbally, at least some of the time. A lot of what she says still sounds like gibberish, but she has learned how to say "eeeeee!!!" (cheese!!!), "muh" (milk), "nana" (banana, duh!), and "ih-ih ee" (Christmas tree). She also is very clear when she says all of our names, and thankfully she has learned to say "nigh-nigh" when she is ready to go nighty-night, instead of just having a total meltdown, like she used to do before she discovered the English language, or at least her version of it.

So, as you can see, Chris Turk was correct. Having a baby is a lot like having a dog that slowly learns how to talk. And, John Dorian was correct. It is pretty awesome. Despite how I may make it seem in all of my other posts. Don't tell anyone I said that...
Only one of these two mammals will ever learn how to talk. Some days it seems like the dog might be the more likely option... Speaking of which, have you ever seen such silly hair in your whole life? What some people won't do to get attention...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Grandparents: Reasons to be Thankful

If you are living under a rock somewhere, or are in some faraway non-American land, like Azerbaijan, you may not know that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I suppose if I was a normal blogger I would feel compelled to make some kind of list of all the things I am thankful for on such an occasion, but let's face it, I am far from normal. The only normal thing about me is that I have 2.5 kids, just like the "average" U.S. family. But soon enough the Baby will turn 2, and I figure that's about the time she'll finally count as a whole person, so even that part of my life will become abnormal. To make a long story even longer, I am not going to make a list of what I am thankful for.

There is one thing that I am extremely thankful for, though. Actually, it's four things. Those four things are the kids' grandparents. They are almost always willing to take at least some of our kids if we get into a pinch, and have regular days each and every week in which they willingly take them for hours at a time. I never said they were sane, just that they were willing. And for this probable insanity, I am grateful!

Sometimes they are even willing to take one or two of the kids for a sleepover. Although, for some reason, sleepovers have become fewer and farther between than they once were. I blame myself. I haven't done the necessary work to make sleepovers happen. I may have mentioned this before, but the Wife and I have stumbled upon the best, most foolproof way to make sleepovers happen: we don't ask!

Yes, the best way to ensure a sleepover at the grandparents' house is to just show up with a bag packed with pajamas and whatever else your child may need to spend the night. Then, when your children walk in to say Hi to grandma and grandpa, just teach them to ask nicely if they can stay. What grandparent in their right mind could say no to such angelic faces? It is physically impossible for them to say no. It works every time!
I would get the kids some pizza sleeping bags for their sleepovers at the grandparents' house, but they have mushrooms on them, so our kids would probably refuse to get in them. Kids are so picky sometimes!
The only problem is, the Wife and I have to remember to implement it, and we need to make sure we have a packed bag waiting in the car at all times... Lately we haven't done those things very well. But, what better time to try again than the night before Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving morning is always a lazy day for grandparents, any way, right? Might as well have one, two, or three kids around to liven things up a little. Now, we just have to figure out which grandparents will be the victims, I mean, lucky winners. Yes, which ones.....?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Opposite of Fun...

This might make me seem like some kind of crazed, homicidal maniac, but I have found it to be very exhilarating, and maybe even a little fun, to kill the mice that live in our house. It's exciting to set the traps. It's thrilling to figure out where to place them for the optimum kill ratio. My pulse pounds when I sneak downstairs twelve times a day to see if I've caught anything. And it's a time for jubilation when I find one of the little buggers smushed within the jagged death-jaws of my plastic reusable traps. All in all, the whole process is surprisingly fun.

You wanna know what isn't fun? In fact, it's not just that it's not fun, it's that it is the complete opposite of fun. The antithesis of fun. It is completely void of all fun. It's abominable, awful, and totally terrible all rolled into one (can you tell who's been reading his thesaurus lately?). This calamity occurs when, instead of finding a nicely smushed, ready-to-be-disposed-of mouse corpse in the jaws of one of the traps, I find a very much alive, kicking and screaming mouse that's only been grabbed by one or two of its legs. It's the worst!

This has now happened twice in the past week. Instead of joyfully strolling out to the garbage can to dispose of a body whose life was sucked out of it without my having to witness it, I am forced to put on my executioner hat and do the dirty deed myself. So far, the best way I've come up with is to put the poor little rodent in a plastic bag and then smash the bag against the driveway several times. That might not be the most humane way to do it, but at least I don't have to look at it while it's happening. Even us crazed, homicidal maniacs have some scruples.
If you see me outside, swinging one of these around wildly, and then smashing it on my driveway, there's no need to be afraid. Unless you are a mouse. Then you should be very, very afraid...Mooooohahahahahaha!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

R.I.P. Gromit 2005-?

For those of you who don't know, we have two dogs, both of whom are annoying in their own way. Toby is annoying because barking is one of his favorite hobbies. He absolutely loves to bark, at anyone or anything that he happens to view as a threat. We can put him outside on his chain for the sole purpose of going potty, but instead of actually doing his business, he spends the entire time scanning the surrounding terrain for any and all dogs, humans, squirrels, or falling leaves that are apt to launch an attack on our home. If he sees any of these possible intruders, he is quick to fire off a preemptive verbal strike, at the top of his little yorkie-poo-sized lungs. In his eyes, he has successfully thwarted each and every planned invasion. In my eyes, all he really is doing is annoying me and everyone else in the neighborhood.

What really gets my goat is when I go outside to get him, and he looks at me with this sheepish look on his face, as if to say "Oh, ha ha, I was too busy thwarting all of the attackers...I haven't actually gone potty yet..." So then I have to stand there in the bitter cold, waiting for him to find a spot worthy enough for him to do his business. Remember, we live in Minnesota. It's always bitterly cold here.

Other than all the barking, though, Toby is really a very friendly dog. Our other dog, Gromit, is annoying in his own way. He may be the grumpiest mammal of any kind to ever walk on God's green earth. He doesn't like anyone, or anything, at any time, or under any circumstance, except for his food bowl, his ratty old tennis ball that he carries everywhere, and the Wife. He adores the Wife. If the Wife is somewhere in the house, Gromit wants to be there too. If Gromit thinks that the Wife is in a certain room, even if she isn't, he will sit outside the door, waiting for her, for hours on end. The funny thing is that the Wife has never really done anything special to Gromit to warrant all of this attention. It's almost like he fell in love with her the moment he walked into our house for the first time, and nothing will ever change his mind. It's weird.

If you, however, don't happen to be the Wife, Gromit would be just fine if you fell off the face of the earth. He is as grumpy as grumpy can be. One of his favorite activities is sitting under the dinner table while we all eat, waiting to attack any toe that has the audacity to wiggle, or any chair leg that happens to move. Don't get me started on how annoying he is when he attacks the vacuum any time we try to tidy up the place. I have come to the conclusion that pretty much the only thing that makes Gromit happy is not being happy.

The kids seem to have picked up on how grumpy Gromit is. Last week, the Girl got a very troubled
look on her face, and asked the Wife, "Mommy, is Toby going to die first, or is Gromit?" Although a very odd question to ask, the Wife composed herself and told the Girl that, although we never know what is going to happen in the future, Gromit is about a year older than Toby, so there's a fairly good chance that he will die first. Upon hearing this news, the Girl's face turned from troubled to ecstatic, and she did a little dance to show the joy that this news brought to her. We thought this was a strange reaction for a 4-year-old to have, but it just proves that it's better to be annoying and friendly than annoying and grumpy. I think maybe I better take note...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Top 5 1970s Wuss Rock Songs

I haven't done a Top 5 or Top 10 list in a while, but now I think it's about time to do so. I am a fan of music. I can find the good in almost all types of music: from disco to heavy metal; from new age to country; and from rap to grunge, I can find songs that really resonate with me.

Lately, for some reason, I have been hungering for the manliest of manly musical styles, 1970s' Wuss Rock. If you aren't familiar with 70s' Wuss Rock, it was a movement within pop music back in the 70s in which dudes wrote the sappiest guitar ballads they could think of, usually about lost love, a missing pet, or a rainbow or sunset they saw on the way home. If you can imagine a musical genre that contained negative testosterone levels, that would be 70s' Wuss Rock. But, some of the songs are so catchy that they have the ability to dig deep into your cerebral cortex and make a permanent home in your mind's jukebox. At least, that's what happens to me.

So, I have chosen the most addictive songs from the Wuss Rock genre, and have loaded up the links for you to listen to. Maybe you don't agree that these are the Top 5 Wuss Rock songs...Maybe you have others that I missed...Maybe you want to load up all of these songs and set them on fire...I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Let me know what you think. Here they are, the Top 5 1970s Wuss Rock songs, in no particular order:

 

 




Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Scourge of Q-Tips

Drugs are bad. You shouldn't do drugs. But there are a lot of other things, legal things, that are also bad for you. And, just because those things are legal doesn't mean they don't have the ability to take over your life and drive you to do things you know you shouldn't do.

Take Q-Tips, for example. Q-Tips are perfectly legal. Any red-blooded American, Mexican, Canadian, and even most French people can go into any corner store and buy as many Q-Tips as they want. I could send my 3-year-old, the Boy, into my local WalMart, and he could buy up as many Q-Tips as he could wrap his grubby little arms around, provided he remembered to bring his wallet with him. And, provided somebody helped him count out his money - he's not real good with numbers yet. But that's beside the point. The point is that it's perfectly legal to own and use Q-Tips.

Let's face it, though. There's only one reason any sane person would use Q-Tips, and that's the one thing that you're not supposed to use them for: cleaning out your ears. On the box it says you can use Q-Tips for such mundane things as applying ointments and creams, cleaning off your computer keyboard, and any household cleaning. With that last one they show a picture of a grimy bathtub. Who is going to use a Q-Tip to scrub a bathtub?!?! Nobody, that's who.

Ever notice how the Q-Tips box is the exact same color as the blue meth in Breaking Bad? Coincidence? I think not...
So, it is a proven fact that the only reason anyone ever uses Q-Tips is to clean out their ears. Personally, I am totally addicted to it. I love to clean out my ears! It feels so good to get in there and scratch my itchy ear canals in an unlawful manner with my beloved Q-Tips. It kind of makes me feel like a rebel, too. Just like James Dean. Oh yeah, I'm bad news. You don't wanna mess with me when I'm on Q-Tips!

Every once in a while I try to quit. It can be rough, though. I usually can only go a few days before the itch in my ears gets so bad, and I can't resist the temptation. If only somebody in the house would use all of our Q-Tips to clean the bathroom, so there wouldn't be any for my ears. But then the Boy would just go back to WalMart to get some more...seems like I'm stuck in an endless cycle of Q-Tips...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Trickle-Down Theory of Parenting

A few months ago I wrote a post on facebook about a silly theory I came up with called the "Trickle-Down Theory of Parenting." Back in the 1980s, then-President Ronald Reagan championed his "Trickle-Down Theory of Economics", in which tax breaks for the rich would mean that they (the rich), would spend more money since there wasn't as much tax, thus improving the economy as a whole, and the money in the vibrant economy would eventually trickle down to the poorer people of society. Or something like that. That's the best I can make of the Wikipedia entry on the subject.

My Trickle-Down Theory of Parenting had nothing to do with economics (thankfully!!!). Instead, my theory was that we (the Wife and I) were going to put every ounce of our parenting skills into raising the best first child we could (in our case, that first child is the Girl), and then she, in turn, would teach her younger siblings the ways of the world while her mom and I sit back and relax until the time we retire. Sure, this theory was just another way for me to be silly (mostly), since I didn't actually think that we could ignore our younger children and let their older sister raise them by herself, no matter how enticing that idea may have been.

Now, it turns out that my theory may not have been as far-fetched as we originally thought. The Girl is now 4-and-a-half, her brother, the Boy, is a little over 3, and her sister, the Baby, is 18 months. As I look back on things, the Girl didn't do a very good job of teaching the Boy anything, other than how to steal other kids' toys and how to throw a really good tantrum when things don't go his way. She seems to have taught the Baby those things, too, but the Baby seems to have learned some good things, as well.

Just the other day, the Baby watched her older siblings use the potty, and she demanded to get up on the potty, too, even though we haven't begun to start to try to potty train her. She sat there for several minutes without actually going potty, but that's beside the point. She only could have learned about it by having this know-how "trickle down" from her older siblings.
This is the third time I have used this photo on my blog. I have a really cute photo of the Baby sitting on the potty, but I want her to not hate me when she's a teenager, so I decided not to use it.
 
The Baby got her first toothbrush yesterday, and in her first brushing session last night, she brushed and brushed and brushed, and then "spit" into the sink, just like the Girl does. (I put "spit" in quotation marks because she had actually swallowed all the toothpaste, so nothing came out when she spat.) We haven't tried to teach her anything about spitting, or brushing, so it's obvious those skills must have "trickled down" to her.

Maybe this crazy theory of mine isn't so crazy after all...I think I will go with a "hands-off" approach with the Baby from now on, and see what else gets trickled down to her. She's already been the most difficult baby in the History of Mankind up until now. It's not like she could get any worse. Could she?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dogs Are the Worst!





Everyone has left me. I am all alone in the world. Life is sad...OK, just until Sunday. But, even in just a few short days I have the innate ability to get lonely and depressed when my wife and kids go on a trip without me. I went to a seminar last night after work, and when I got home I fully expected that our two annoying and yippy dogs would greet me and love me and keep me company, but instead they saw that I was the only one coming home, and they left me and went to wait at the door for someone better to arrive. I think they would have been happier to see a burglar walk in. Dogs are the worst! The above drawing is of my view from my sad and lonely chair. Maybe they'll come hang out with me when they run out of food and water. If they're lucky maybe I'll decide to fill their bowls.....

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mirror, Mirror...

I have developed a love/hate relationship with mirrors lately. Well, not just mirrors. Light bulbs too. Mirrors and light bulbs. Yup, they are the worst. Except for some of them, which aren't too bad. I suppose I should probably explain myself, huh?

Let's take a look at a couple of cases in point, shall we? At my house, which I share with my beautiful wife, three adorable-yet-exasperating children, two annoying dogs, and a seemingly endless plethora of mice, I almost always use the small, leaning-towards-miniscule, master bathroom which adjoins our bedroom. It is tucked away in the bowels of our house, so the kids, dogs, and mice hardly ever come in and bother me there. I consider it a small, crazy-free utopia within the confines of our own insane asylum. I do all of the usual bathroom business in this utopia, you know, like going to the potty, showering, and hiding from the craziness for hours on end. I also shave and trim my beard in this bathroom, two jobs that require me to look in the mirror in order to accomplish them. I can look in that mirror, in that fairly well-lit little bathroom, for hours on end, staring at my facial hair, and only count about 6 or 8 white whiskers in my beard. Now that's a mirror I like!

Another mirror that I am forced to look in quite a bit is the one in the bathroom at work. I don't know if it's the mirror, or the fact that there is only one small light bulb in the entire room, or what, but I don't like that mirror one bit. All I can see, when I can muster up the courage to look in it, is a sea of salt and pepper whiskers from one jowl to the other. It's like half of my facial hair is still sexy and black, and the other half is as white as white can be. There must be a billion of the stupid little albino buggers in there. What is it about that mirror or that light bulb that makes them show up so much? I don't get it. All that I know for sure is that I hate that mirror with a passion. And that light bulb. They are the worst.
This is essentially what I see when I look in the mirror at work. Despite the fact that it makes me hungry for delicious chicken, I don't like it.

Monday, September 30, 2013

There's a Giant Among Us...

Apparently I sleep directly across the hall from an enigma. Or is she an anomaly? Maybe a conundrum... Whatever she is,  I was totally unaware of this situation until just a couple of days ago. All this time I thought I was the proud parent of a beautiful, smart, and (usually) happy little girl, but, no, apparently she's also a giant.

I have known for a while that the Girl is quite tall for her age. She just turned 4-and-a-half, but she's already starting to grow out of some of her 5T clothes. She must take after the Wife when it comes to getting tall at an early age. I didn't know the Wife when she was 11, but the story goes that she was already at her current height at that age - 5'4". If I had known the Wife when we were 11, instead of gazing deep into her beautiful blue eyes, like I do now, I would have had to gaze deep into her really cute belly button, because at the age of 11 I was approximately 3 feet tall. OK, maybe I was a little taller than that, but I know for a fact that I didn't reach 5 feet until I had started the 9th grade, which would have made me 14 years old. I don't think I reached 5'4" until the end of my sophomore year of high school. Yes, as I have mentioned before, it's good that the Wife and I didn't meet back then. I don't think she would have been too impressed with my slow-to-develop manliness.

There have been other hints to the fact that the Girl is quite tall, too. Like when the pediatrician has told us that she's in the 95th percentile in height for her age group. And the several looks of shock we have seen on other parents' eyes when we have told them that she's only 4.

The thing that really cemented in my mind that the Girl is a giant occurred a couple of days ago. I was at the kids' preschool to pick both the Girl and the Boy up after their day of school. Both of their classes were still outside having some fun at the nearby park when I got there, so I was waiting in the hallway, along with a billion other parents, when they walked back inside. The Boy's class came in first, and, as he is prone to do, he completely ignored me as he walked into his classroom with all of his little classmates. After his class was snug in their classroom, another class came walking in. At first I assumed it had to be the Girl's class, since I didn't think there were any other classes in the preschool that day. But then I thought to myself, "Nah, those kids look too small to be the same age as the Girl. Maybe that's another class of  3-year-olds..." But no. There, right in the middle of the line of kids, was the Girl, towering over all of her classmates like Goliath towering over a bunch of quivering Israelites. It was a crazy thing to behold. She really is a giant among her peers! Next time I see her entire class lined up like that, I'm going to keep my eyes on all the tiny, little boys with scrawny arms, buck teeth and a unibrow. Who knows, maybe one of them will grow up to be my future son-in-law....

This is an artist's rendering of the Girl and her preschool classmates. Or is it a photograph? It's so real, I can't tell for sure... One thing I can tell: she towers over all those other kids. And dresses better than they do. Who knew we lived near so many hillbillies?


Monday, September 23, 2013

How to Build a Better Mousetrap

One of the things about myself that I am the least proud of is that I am very skilled at killing mice. It's not that I am not of proud of the skill itself; in fact, it's kind of fun to kill the little buggers. It's that I am a little sad that I have had to use that skill so often over the past few years. Yes, for some reason, soon after moving into whatever house, apartment, condo, or large box that I have lived in recently, the mice move in with me. I have had to hunt down way more than I my fair share of mice, and, frankly, I am getting pretty tired of it.
I don't care how much my kids love Mickey, I hate mice!

Our house that we just moved out of had been in foreclosure before we bought it, so it was sitting empty for at least a year or more. The basement was a disaster, so even after we moved in, we didn't spend much time down there except when we were working on fixing it up. It took us a couple of years, but we finally made it hospitable, and soon had a cozy family room down there, along with a bedroom, bathroom, and other facilities. We started spending quite a bit of time down there, which is probably why that's when we also started seeing "evidence" of mice. I caught a couple of them, and the mouse invasion seemed to be over.

Until the next fall, that is. For some reason, word got out amongst our neighborhood rodents that our house was a perfect place to spend the winter. Within a month or so that fall, I caught 10 mice and a mole in our basement. It was the worst! Things settled down after that, and only occasional, random mice would try to set up shop in the house. As far as I know, I was able to murderize 100% of them.

Now we have moved into our new house, which formerly was the Wife's parents' house. They had the occasional mouse problem, as well, but we all thought that the mice were gone when we moved in. Now we know that that was the most wishful of wishful thinking. While we were taking down the ceiling tiles in the basement, we found 4 tiny corpses, and this past weekend we found another 3 tiny corpses in the outside storage area. The Wife also has come upon some pretty fresh "evidence" in the pantry as well.

This all means that I need to buy some more mouse traps. If you look down the mouse trap aisle at your local mouse trap store, you will see that there are tons of different options for trying to kill mice. Poison works well, but shouldn't be used if you have pets that you love (I'm still trying to decide on that one...). The old fashioned spring-loaded mouse traps work pretty well, and are cheap, so I don't feel bad throwing them away if the mouse corpse they contain is particularly smushed and gory. But, then I have to go buy more... I started using sticky traps for a while, which, seem pretty cool, theoretically, but I found it to be a little too creepy when the traps mysteriously disappeared because a mouse that was stuck to it was still able to walk off. Finding sticky traps in other rooms with a mouse leg still attached is a little too unnerving for me.

I have settled on the Tomcat brand reusable plastic mouse traps. They'll smush a mouse real good, but then all it takes is a simple squeeze to drop the corpse in the trash, and you can re-set it to catch another. As long as you don't step on them and break them, or pack them away in some random box that is somewhere in the bowels of your house but you can't remember where, you should be able to use them to catch mice for the rest of your life. What a depressing thought!

 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Huh?

Life is full of questions. I should know. I am the mostly-proud parent of a very inquisitive 4-year-old, the Girl. Generally speaking, the Girl fills up each and every day with somewhere right around a billion questions. Some of them have been real thought-provoking doozies, too. Like "Where is heaven?", "Why is the sky blue?", and "Why do boys have one of those things and girls don't?" As you can imagine, I reeled off the same correct answer for each of those questions: "Ummmm....."

The Girl isn't the only source of all the questions, though. Deep, mind-blowing questions can be found in all walks of life, such as:
  • If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?
  • What is the difference between living and existing? 
  • Is it more important to love, or to be loved?
  • Where do babies come from?
  • Does this dress make me look fat?
And, of course, possibly the greatest question ever asked, by Barbara Walters when she was interviewing sportscaster Marv Albert, after he was caught in a rather compromising position with a certain lady friend :
  • Is wearing women's underwear part of your turn-on?
Another deep question has haunted me, off and on, for the past 20 years or so, ever since my first, failed, foray into college life. OK, it hasn't actually haunted me, but it does pop into my brain every once in a while for no apparent reason. Back then, I was succeeding at being a very ordinary student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. I was an Art & Art History major, mostly because I really didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had a professor, let's call him Dr. Bob, the Art Professor, because I don't actually remember what his name was. Dr. Bob, although not being memorable enough for me to remember his name, asked one of the most mentally probing questions I have ever been asked, the answer to which I have been unable to come up with, despite minutes upon minutes of pondering over it.

Perhaps you can help me figure out the answer. Or maybe the problem is that there isn't a right or wrong answer. Maybe I have been racking my brain over it for no reason. It wouldn't be the first time that's happened...Whatever the case, if you can figure it out please let me know so I can finally forget about Dr. Bob for good.

The question he posed on that fateful day back in the spring of 1993 was: "If you could erase your past, and tasted Coke for the very first time today, would you like it?" He claimed that our answers would unanimously be No, because he had stopped drinking it for several years, and had no yearning to have it again. He also thought that we, as a society, only liked Coke because we all started drinking it as young children, when we didn't know any better. I don't think I agree with him, but I have, so far, been unwilling to put it to the test. If anyone can tell me the correct answer, so I don't ever have to put it to the test, that would be fine with me. Let me know soon, please, so I can use my brain for more important questions, like How could there be anyone alive who doesn't like bacon? Now, that's a question worth ruminating on...
The question in question was about Coke, but I prefer Pepsi. Don't tell Dr. Bob...

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Demise of Whitey

If you know me well, you probably know that I am always walking the fine line that exists between being edgy and being racist. Sometimes I just can't help myself, and I find myself hurtling over the line into full-blown racism. This might be one of those times. I'm sorry if what I am about to write offends you.


We thought that when we recently moved into our new house, we were moving into a very racially diverse neighborhood that embraced all cultures equally. Just in our block alone there live several Asian families, an Indian family (would they be considered Asian, too? I can never remember...), an African-American family, a few older white couples, and a couple of possible serial killers (that's just my assumption from the limited interactions I've had with them. I tend to assume everyone is up to something until I get to know them better). And don't forget the All-American family with 2 dogs and 2.5 kids. (That's us. The Baby only counts for half of a kid until she is willing to do more chores around the house.)

Even the animals in our new neighborhood were racially diverse. Along with the millions of regular gray squirrels that live in the neighborhood, there was a family of albino squirrels that lived there, too. It seemed as though every time we drove up or down a certain street nearby, we would see one, two, or even four or five blindingly white squirrels running around from tree to tree. The world can be a dangerous place for albino animals, so it was fun to think that our quaint little neighborhood could be a safe place for a bunch of rodents that essentially glow in the dark.

Life can be hard, especially if you're a glow-in-the-dark squirrel...
Apparently the neighborhood is not as tolerant of albino squirrels as we once thought, though. Little by little, it seemed as though there were fewer and fewer sightings of our beloved white squirrels. Just last week, I thought to myself, "Self, I don't think you've seen an albino squirrel around here for a long time. I wonder what happened to them...Did a band of outlaw hawks move in and hunt them down, one by one? Did one of the local old guys shoot them with his pellet gun from his kitchen window (not that I know anyone who would do something like that...)? Did all the gray squirrels taunt them and spray paint racist images on their nest until they decided to move?"

I was just starting to feel sad about all the hatred and evil that exists in our world, when I looked over at one of the maple trees in a neighbor's yard, and there was a gleaming white squirrel scurrying around in its branches. Oh, what a sight to behold! Maybe this world wasn't such a bad place after all. Maybe there's a place in this world for all squirrels, no matter what color they are.

I had a spring in my step and felt really good about life, until the next day when I saw the smushed pile of white fur on the road that had been the last of the albino squirrels. Oh well, we didn't need those freaky squirrels around, any way.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Scott's So-Called Life

I think I may get too into TV shows. I let them play too large of a role in my life. Sometimes I even begin to think about life in terms of these television shows. As Hank Hill would say, "That ain't right."

Back in the day, I really loved the show Seinfeld. At least the first 5 years of it or so. After that it got kind of ridiculous. I still watched it though. And I still quoted lines from the show on a regular basis. I would throw a "Newman!", or a "But I don't wanna be a pirate!", or even a "Maybe the dingo ate your baby!" into conversations all the time, whether they fit the conversation or not. (Try to get "Maybe the dingo ate your baby!" to actually fit into a conversation some day. Hopefully for your sake, it never will...) Sure, throwing these lines into everyday life sometimes got a few chuckles out of my friends, but, I mean, come on. Couldn't I come up with my own lines? What's wrong with me?

Nowadays, I don't really watch all that much TV on the TV, other than the occasional sporting event. I do, however, let myself get sucked in to watching a show every once in a while on Netflix, which is probably even worse than when I watched TV. Using Netflix, I can get totally engulfed in a show and watch one episode after another after another, until hours, days, and even weeks have passed without my getting off the sofa. I wouldn't say it's the healthiest way to live, but, hey almost all of our kids can pretty much feed themselves, and if the dogs don't eat for a few days, it's probably good for them. A hungry dog is a healthy dog, I've always heard.

So, anyways, enough about the kids. Let's talk about TV some more, shall we? A few months ago, I was totally engrossed with the feel-good zombie apocalypse romp, The Walking Dead. I still probably would be totally engrossed in it, except I have already watched every episode on Netflix twice, and the next season doesn't come out for another month or so. That's probably a good thing, because when I watched it all the time I was starting to plan what I might do if there ever was a zombie apocalypse. Shotgun or crossbow? Run to the country or hunker down somewhere in the city? Should I go out and buy all the bottled water I can find right now, or wait until there's a sale? Finally I just stopped watching the show, and all these conundrums went away.

Everything was cool for a while, but then I started watching another feel-good romp, the gritty and dramatic Breaking Bad. If you are unaware, Breaking Bad is about a chemistry teacher who finds out he has lung cancer, so he decides to try and make as much money in the time he has left to help ensure his family's well-being once he's gone. To do that, he decides to make and sell crystal meth. This show is full of twists and turns and epic cliffhangers, so of course I got totally addicted to it. How could I not? Now, every corner I drive by I think I see drug dealers and meth heads hanging out. It was really bad when we were in Oklahoma recently. I went into the local WalMart late one evening, and it was full of hooligans that looked like they just walked off the set of the show. I was about to call the cops, but accusing someone of being on drugs because they look like a character on a TV show usually doesn't hold up well in court.

I suppose the healthiest thing to do would be to stop watching TV all together. I probably should even cancel our Netflix subscription, too. That seems kind of drastic, though. Maybe I should get another opinion from Dr. Phil. He always has good ideas...
Ever notice how every shopper at Walmart seems like they might be on drugs? Yeah, me neither, until I started watching Breaking Bad...

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Stinky Situation

The Boy is about as silly as a 3-year-old with limited brain power can be. Not to say that his brain power is limited compared to other 3-year-olds, just that all 3-year-olds' brains are limited, you know, because they're only 3 years old. In fact, relatively speaking, I would like to say that he is quite a brilliant 3-year-old, but what kind of a Daddy would I be if I didn't say that?

Any way, his limited brain power makes him say silly things sometimes, both when he is actually trying to and when he's not. The other night we were all sitting around the dinner table, having what I thought was a very pleasant time, when I said something very casual to the Boy, something along the lines of "Do you want any more carrots?" or something like that. He got a scowl on his face, and said with a very stern voice, "Daddy, don't talk at me like that!" I'm not exactly sure where that came from, but it didn't make me very happy. It was hard to get mad at him, though, when his Mommy was laughing hysterically in the next seat over.

I don't think he was trying to be silly that time, but most of the time he is, and a lot of the time lately he tries to be silly by using the word "stinky".

"Look at those stinky socks!" he will say to pretty much anyone he encounters who is wearing socks (that's most people, if you haven't noticed).

Or he will ask "Can I have some more stinky carrots?" A-ha! I knew he wanted more carrots!

Last night at the dinner table, it was obvious that he was enjoying his rice more than anything else on his plate, since the rice was gone, but the chicken and broccoli hadn't been touched. But, when asking for more rice, he said "Can I have some more yummy, stinky rice?" Most normal people wouldn't call their favorite food "stinky", would they? I'm asking you because I am far from normal...

I think he's trying to be silly during times like these, but maybe it's possible that his limited brain doesn't actually know what the word "stinky" means...Looks like it might be time for another Word of the Day blog!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A 200th Blog Post Retrospective

We here at Chaotic Kids & Clutter went a little crazy during our 100th Post Gala Extravaganza a few months ago. Maybe a little bit too crazy. But, we were young, dumb, and full of enthusiasm, and we like to think that we have matured since then, or at least gotten a few months older. And with age comes wisdom, I like to say.

So, for our 200th blog post, we are going to tone things down a little bit. Gonna keep things on the down low. Gonna stay within ourselves and just play our game. And we're going to stroll down memory lane and take a look back at some of the highs and lows of Chaotic Kids & Clutter throughout the years.

Me
We'll start this retrospective back at the very beginning. OK, it's not the very beginning, but it's the earliest memory I have during my time here on God's green earth. I was a shy but plump 2 year old, with the cutest little bowl cut you've ever seen.You would think that life couldn't get any better: I had a loving mom & dad who took care of me, and my older sister was just starting kindergarten, so she didn't have nearly as many opportunities each day to punch me. You would think that I wouldn't have a care in the world. Yet, I recently found this note that I had scribbled in one of my coloring books. I consider it my first "blog entry" even though personal computers weren't around, the internet was a foreign concept, and if you said "blog" to someone they probably would have thought you were making vomit noises. Anyways, the note I found said this: "How can I learn to be potty-trained if mommy forgets to buy more Cheerios? Doesn't she know I need something to aim at?!?!" It's funny how, despite all the years in between, I always seem to be writing about potties...Weird.

My sister, Squeaky, and me, being Native Americans
I found another "blog entry" I had scribbled on the back of a carrying case I kept all my Hot Wheels cars in when I was around 4. We had just recently gotten our first real pet, a cat named Squeaky. We had had a couple of goldfish and some hamsters before Squeaky arrived, but they quickly disappeared once the cat moved in. Squeaky and I grew to be very close, but at first I must have thought of her as a rival: "Mommy & Daddy brought a mangy old barn cat home the other day. Maybe if I let her use my leg as a scratching post, mommy & daddy will freak out and get rid of her..." Well, over the years Squeaky used my legs, my arms, and every other part of my anatomy as her own personal scratching post, but my parents never thought about getting rid of her. In fact, it almost seemed to draw them closer to her...hmmmm...

I like my tube socks the best!

Looking back at old photos, I now consider any notes written on the back to be a form of "blog entry". Here's what I wrote on the back of this one, from when I was about 8 or 9: "Today I caught the world's smallest trout. It looks even smaller compared to the world's largest hat that I was wearing." Apparently I considered the rest of my attire to be highly fashionable, as I'm sure it was back then...If you can't tell for sure, yes, I was quite the ladies man back in the day.






FYI, that's just a root beer that Eric is drinking.
I also wrote on the back of this next photo, which was taken during my High School graduation party. It's a photo of my good friend, Eric, and me in front of my parents' house. Here's what I wrote: "Sure am glad I got my mullet to grow out before graduation. Otherwise I would have looked like a complete tool. And I finally bulked up to 115 pounds. Woohoo!"




I must have had mean friends if they let me walk around like this...
Finally, I found a journal that I wrote in for about a week back in the mid-90s. I had stuck a photo in it, next to a passage that said this: "I think things are looking up for me. I found a beard style that's really cool, and this awesome t-shirt I got free from Blockbuster is sure to impress the ladies! I am truly living life to the fullest!" Why didn't anyone tell me I was such a dork?!?!





Any ways, I hope you enjoyed this stroll down memory lane. And I hope you have enjoyed the first 200 posts here at Chaotic Kids & Clutter. I invite you to stick around for the next 200. You never know what might happen.

Monday, August 26, 2013

330 Miles

This past week has been a whirlwind for us Hansons. Last Saturday was the start of the craziness, when we and 11 of our most gullible friends joined to help us move out of our old house and into our new house, about 5 suburbs away. Since we had already moved most of the smaller stuff over the past 3 months, pretty much all that was left to move was big heavy stuff, like beds, dressers, and the world's heaviest TV stand. Actually, one of the worst things was my old wooden work bench, which I didn't think was going to be difficult at all. It took 4 of us burly men to get it out of the storage room and to the bottom of the stairs, but then we ran out of room in the stairwell, so it was just me and my poor brother-in-law lugging it up the stairs. We got it up and out to the moving truck, with no damage to the walls or the workbench, and with only minor hernias for us. Thanks Boyd, and be sure to send your doctor bills to my old address...

After we packed our new house to the brim with all of our stuff, we spent the next couple days alternating between cleaning the old house and sobbing uncontrollably at the thought of selling it. Then, on Tuesday morning, the Wife and I went and signed our names approximately a billion times at the closing. The new owners seemed like wonderful people, and I am sure they will take wonderful care of our beloved house. I did cringe a little bit when they told us they were planning on putting hardwood floors in a section of the house, but when we got out to the car and I started to complain, the Wife reminded me that we hated the carpet that they would be replacing. So, I can't really blame them for that, even though I wanted to.

Before our billion signatures were even dry, we packed up the three hooligans and a large portion of our earthly belongings, and headed down to the blisteringly hot Southern United States to partake in our niece's wedding. You may remember that another of our nieces got married earlier this summer. You can tell these two nieces apart by the fact that the most recent niece married a really tall young man, whereas the earlier niece married a really, really tall young man. Both couples seem to be doing splendidly in their relatively new married bliss.

None of our children were a part of this most recent wedding, so our wedding duties were somewhat limited. That allowed us more time for fun things, like sweating and trying not to pass out from heat exhaustion. Did I mention it was blisteringly hot?

The wedding was lovely, and we had a lot of fun hanging out with friends and relatives, but the most amazing part of the weekend occurred on the drive home yesterday. Now, you have to remember that we are the sometimes-proud parents of three small children, one of whom has just recently become potty trained (the Boy), and another of whom is liable to become psychotically unhinged and start screaming at the top of her lungs for no apparent reason (the Baby). We never know when a frantic plea to stop the car might make its way up to us from the backseats. Nothing like that happened yesterday, though. I am being totally honest with you when I say that I am 100% sure that a miracle occurred in our mini-van, because the five of us drove from Liberty, Missouri all the way to Albert Lea, Minnesota, without stopping once! Yes, all three of our children, aged 4 and under, happily sat still, and didn't need a potty break, for 330 miles of driving. If you aren't good with math, that means we drove through the entire state of Iowa, which is known to take weeks off of people's lives, without once stepping foot out of our van. It might be the most amazing miracle ever to occur in the history of man. Or not. Whatever you want to call it, it was pretty cool. It almost makes me look forward to the next time we have to drive through Iowa...nah, I'm just kidding!
I don't know how to create a pretty, sophisticated map using google or other software programs, so I drew this one myself. I think I made Iowa look pretty accurate, don't ya think?

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Secret to a Good Night's Sleep

I felt bad leaving the house yesterday morning, for several reasons. First of all, it was Thursday, and Thursdays always mean that I leave the Wife home alone with all three of our toddler delinquents, which is never a fun thing, in and of itself. But, several things made matters even worse, which is hard to believe, I know. First of all, the Boy got some kind of germ a couple of days earlier, which seems to have turned his entire brain into a giant mass of green goo that is bound and determined to make its way out of his head through his nose. He is constantly asking Mommy or Daddy to wipe his nose, even though his pockets are crammed full of tissues for him to use on himself. I think maybe he thinks that having his brain turn into green goo is a good reason for Mommy & Daddy to show him some sympathy. Like that will ever happen...

Secondly, the Baby seems like she might be getting a second tooth in. It's difficult to tell for sure because teething makes most babies sullen, angry and despondent, but that's how she has been since the day we brought her home from the hospital. She seems like she has been a little extra sullen, angry and despondent recently, though. Whatever the reason, she's been waking up and crying, multiple times per night for the last couple nights like she might be in some pain, which is a good way to make everyone else in the house a little more sullen, angry and despondent, too. When I walked out the door yesterday morning, the Baby was letting out an audible shriek that was rattling the cupboards. I would have turned around to see what the problem was, but I was already running late for, you know, whatever...

The third reason I felt bad for leaving the Wife was that she, again, did not get a good night's sleep that night. For whatever reason, she does not get a good night's sleep very often. Oftentimes, I am told that she didn't think she slept at all. I need to be told that because I always sleep right through her not sleeping. More often she sleeps for a little while, but then wakes up after a couple of hours and can't get back to sleep. She seems totally miserable many mornings, and I feel very bad for her. I wish that I could sleep for her, since I am a very good sleeper, oftentimes falling asleep within seconds of hitting my pillow. But, that's not an option, unfortunately.

I may not be able to sleep for her, but I am able to devise a good crackpot theory every once in a while, and I have come up with a doozy this time. See, I think the problem with the Wife's poor sleeping is that she sees too well. She's got really good eyes, never needing glasses or contacts. She sees things clearly, whether she's really sleepy or wide awake. I, on the other hand, am pretty much as blind as a bat when I take my glasses off. Everything is blurry. I can see OK without my glasses, if the thing I am looking at is approximately 1/2 an inch in front of my eyes. Anything farther away than that is completely fuzzy. And that, I believe, is why I have no problem going to sleep at night. My eyes can't see anything anyway, so they just turn themselves off as soon as I put my glasses on my nightstand. If I could see better, like the Wife can, my eyes would probably want to stay on and look at things all night. So, my theory is that if you want to have a good night's sleep, have really bad eyes, like me. I thank my mom and dad for my terrible eyesight every time I hear the Wife hasn't slept well. She had the unfortunate curse of being born with good eyes. Hopefully age will start to rectify her situation.
This is pretty much what the entire world looks like when I take my glasses off. No wonder my eyes have no problem going to sleep at night! Who are those people, any how...?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fate

Some of you probably have heard how I met the Wife, but few of you know what an amazing story of fate it really was. A billion seemingly unrelated things had to happen to make it work, and somehow they all did. It boggles my admittedly easily boggled mind to think about it. Let's take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

First of all, I was not the first person in my family to meet the Wife. No, that would have been my mom. See, my mom was the Head Receptionist at a local assisted living facility. My sister worked there, too, as the Activities Director, but that's another story. Since my mom was the Head Receptionist, part of her duties was hiring the other receptionists, which there were quite a few, since the front desk had to be manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. My mom had interviewed the soon-to-be Wife for one of the receptionist jobs, but actually decided to hire somebody else, if you can believe that. Apparently it was quickly obvious to my mom that she had made a mistake in not hiring the soon-to-be Wife, so my mom actually went out and tracked her down at another place she was working. I guess we know where I get my super-creepy stalking skills from now, don't we? Mom must have been fairly persuasive, or maybe the soon-to-be Wife just wanted to get this crazy lady away from her, but she soon agreed to take the job, and she started her receptionist duties in short order. Just, think, if my mom wasn't such a stalker, the Wife and I would never have met!

This was still several months before I did meet her. Although I would occasionally stop out at the assisted living facility to see my mom or sister, it was never when the soon-to-be Wife was working. Eventually I started going there more regularly when my brother-in-law and I set up a couple of aquariums in the lobby for the residents to stare at. We did that for another several months before one fateful Saturday afternoon, when I just happened to be there, cleaning the aquariums, and the soon-to-be Wife came running in the front door, carrying a large bag, which I would later find out was full of products she sold at her other job. She was a few minutes late for her shift to start, so I just watched as this beautiful frenzied woman threw her bag down by the desk and then hurried off to wherever it was that employees had to go to punch the timeclock. I can remember it like it was yesterday. What a frenzied sight she was to behold!

Obviously, like any red-blooded human male would have done, I decided that I needed to make sure that I only went to work on the aquariums when this lovely lass was going to be working. Most of those days I spent more time bothering the soon-to-be Wife than I did cleaning the aquariums, a fact that my brother-in-law could surely attest to. Sorry Boyd!

Well, my bothering must not have been too annoying, as the soon-to-be Wife asked me if I wanted to play on her softball team that summer. I thought, "Whoa, this spicy vixen must really like me, if she wants me to play on her softball team!" A guy will tell himself anything, if it makes him think a hot girl likes him. Well, we did play softball together, but it was another several months before she agreed to go out on a date with me. Actually, we had several pseudo-dates before that, but she will claim that they weren't dates at all, we were just two friends hanging out together. It's the only thing she's ever been wrong about.
This moment might never have happened...

So, I kept bothering her at work and on the softball fields, and finally I wore her defenses down and she agreed to marry me. It's one of the most amazing miracles in the history of mankind! But, it very easily might not have happened. What if my mom wasn't such a stalker? What if my brother-in-law and I had never decided to set up the aquariums? What if I hadn't gone in to clean them on that fateful Saturday? What if the soon-to-be Wife had met me when I was a geeky teenager instead of a suave and debonair almost-30 year old? I don't even want to think about those options...

Monday, August 12, 2013

How to Deceive a 3-Year-Old

The Boy is three. That means that at any moment in time he might be cute, cuddly, funny, hyper, silly, adorable, sullen, cantankerous, ferocious, or diabolical, or anything in between. It's often difficult to know what side of him is about to show itself. Actually, it's always impossible to know which side of him is about to show itself. He can be goofy and giggling one minute, and some kind of weird switch can get flipped somewhere deep in his cerebral cortex, making the giggles turn into sobs, and the goofiness turn into crabbiness, without anyone knowing what just happened. I don't think he even knows what happened most of the time.

Often, when the Boy is in one of his moods, he just becomes really stubborn. Overall, I would say that the Wife and I are doing a pretty good job at teaching our kids how to help out around the house, but some times, they all can be a little stubborn about it. At this stage, the Boy is the worst of the bunch. They all probably get their stubbornness from one of their parents, but I won't say which one of us it is because I'd much rather blame somebody else.

He was in one of his stubborn moods this morning, but in the past 4 years I have acquired some mad parenting skills, as the kids say, and was able to get him to do what I wanted, without him even knowing. It was pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.

It happened like this: Today was his day to go to Grandma D's house, and I was to play the role of his chauffeur. We were getting ready to leave the house, but I needed to load up a pile of boxes and bags that I was going to bring in to work. The boxes, while not huge, were too heavy for a 3-year-old to carry. But the bags were just some normal-sized plastic bags like you would get on a shopping trip to Target or Cub Foods, filled with a few random pieces of toddler-sized clothing. Nothing too heavy. Easily carried by a strapping, young 3-year-old boy. So, I asked him to carry out one of the bags. This was a very reasonable thing to ask, I thought, since I was going to be nice enough to drive the Boy to his Grandma's house. You would think the least he could do was carry a couple of small bags of clothing out to the car for me. Right?

Wrong! You would have thought I had asked him to load up all the tea in China, to paraphrase my Grandpa. He picked up one of the bags, and then stood there, yelling "No Daddy, it's too HEAVY!!!!!" over and over. The thing is, he didn't drop the bag, he kept holding it, and with only one hand. So it was obvious to a trained observer that it, in fact, was not too heavy. He, apparently, just didn't want to carry it out to the car for me. He was being a stinker, and I wasn't happy about it. Nor was I going to let him get away with it.

I coaxed him out of the house with the bag, even though he kept yelling "It's too HEAVY!!!!" I was carrying two of the boxes, so I used that to my advantage. I told him, "I can't take your bag right now, Bubs, my arms are full. I'll take it when I put these boxes down." I knew that if I kept interacting with him, he probably would slowly follow me out to the car. He did, even though he kept complaining about how heavy the bag was. Finally, while standing next to the car, I said, "OK, I'll take your bag now." So, he walked over to the car and gave it to me. The yelling ended. I got him to do what I wanted. And he giddily climbed up into the car so I could drive him to his Grandma's house. I don't think he ever figured out what happened. I gotta admit it feels kind of good to outsmart my 3-year-old. I don't think I'll be able to for much longer...

Monday, August 5, 2013

"I Will Make You A Fisher of Toddlers"

I have had good intentions all summer, but have not followed through with them in a timely fashion. My intentions came about when my in-laws moved into their new house, and we moved into their old house, a mile and a half away from them. See, their new house is situated right on the shores of a lovely, medium-sized, picturesque, metro-area lake. And, although this lake doesn't have much of a reputation as being filled with fish, my intent was to spend many a night there this summer with my two oldest hooligans, the Girl and the Boy, teaching them the ins and outs of fishing.We could stroll over to Grandma & Grandpa's house after dinner, spend an hour or so hauling in bucketloads of fish (I'm a really good teacher) and the aforementioned hooligans would be back home in time to wash all the fish slime off and slide into bed.

That was my intention, at least. In reality, I spent most of the summer letting my mind and time wander towards other things, like selling our house, playing softball, and who-knows-what-else. We could have gone over and fished as soon as we moved into our new house, way back in, um, hmmmm, when did we move again? The whole year is kind of a blur...Or we could have gone over and fished back in late June/early July, when all the water in front of the in-laws' shoreline was filled with sunfish that were hovering around, protecting their nests in the shallow water. It would have been easy pickings, and the kids would have had a hoot. But, we never got over there. Daddy was too busy, or at least he thought he was.

Finally, this past Saturday night, which, if you aren't familiar with our calendar here in the Central Time Zone, was August 2nd, we made it down to the lake and fished for about a half hour or so. It was a delightful time, even though there didn't seem to be a single fish swimming in the thick weeds that now seemed to inhabit the entire lake. Nobody seemed to care. In fact, the Girl seemed downright giddy at the prospect of reeling in and seeing the long weeds stuck to her hook. "Can I reel in and see if I got any weeds, Daddy?!", she asked several times. Maybe my intentions didn't go as awry as I thought. And, I guess learning that you don't always catch fish is one of the most important things you can learn about fishing. I don't plan on teaching them that lesson ever again.
I know it's hard to tell, but this is actually a photo of the in-laws' lake. Now that's a lot of weeds!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mr. Poopypants, I Presume?

I need to be honest with you, right off the bat. The Wife and I really have no idea how to potty train our kids. To us, potty training seems like a crazy mystical bunch of hoodoo, and we don't have any idea how it works, or what we can do to make it work. With the Girl, she just magically decided to be potty trained one day, and to this day, we don't know if we actually had anything to do with that or not.

A couple of weeks ago we thought that the Boy had magically decided to be potty trained, too, but after a week the magic quickly turned sour as he stopped being potty trained. It probably is more accurate to say that he is still half potty trained, since he does one of his businesses in the potty, but not the other business. I will let you figure out which one he does and which one he doesn't.

I used this photo in an earlier blog post, but it works pretty well here, too. I just wish the Boy was as good at going on the potty as this bear is...
What really gets our goat is that he does do that second (there's a hint there) business in the potty every once in a while. So we get all excited and let him wear his underwear, but then he will go and do that business in his pants again. It's causing a large bit of consternation amongst his parents. We just want the mystical hoodoo to happen once and for all. Anybody got any ideas?

Speaking of not being potty trained, here is the transcript of an actual conversation I had with my two oldest children, the Girl and the Boy, while driving around town recently. I thought it was quite apropos:

The Girl (to the Boy): What is your name?

The Boy: My name is Ferdinand Reginald Hanson (he said his actual name, but I changed it here on the blog, you know, to protect the innocent).

Girl: Well then why do we call you Bubba?

Boy: Because that's my name!! (His name is not really Bubba, but everybody calls him that.)

Girl: I think your name is really Ferdinand Reginald Poopy!

Daddy: What?!?!

Boy: No, it's Ferdinand Reginald Poopypants!

With that, the entire car exploded in laughter, because, obviously, any use of the word poopy is hilarious, both to small children and daddies. It was a fun time. No wonder he's having such a hard time getting potty trained...



Friday, July 26, 2013

Buy My House, Please!

I don't think it's possible to really know how much stuff you own until you decide to sell your house and move. Once that happens, all of your stuff becomes apparent, and every new pile of stuff you find that needs to be packed up and hauled to your new house brings you one step closer to total psychological collapse. At least, that's the case with me. I kept finding more and more stuff that I had forgotten about, but even forgotten stuff needs to be moved. It seemed like moving was a never-ending process.

It hasn't helped my already meager amount of sanity that we were moving all of our stuff into our new house that still had some of my in-laws' stuff in it because their new house still had most of the stuff in it from the Wife's grandma, who was the previous inhabitant. So, essentially, all of us are trying to cram three houses' worth of stuff into 2 houses, which can be a very difficult thing to do, especially if you still want to have room to walk around and/or sleep.

We eventually did get all of the stuff out of our old house that we wanted to, while leaving most of the furniture to help it look "staged".  We also got most of the minor things fixed that needed fixing, and, lo and behold, our house was finally ready to go on the market. I think our realtor was beginning to think we may never get it ready, since we had initially contacted him about selling it almost 5 months ago.

We did get it ready, though, and when all was said and done, there were a lot of people interested in it. Showings were scheduled almost immediately, and we even got an offer within 3 days or so. Sure, it was way, way, waaaaaaaaay lower than what we were asking for, but it was a start. And, thankfully, there was another offer a couple of days later! Now we could choose between one really low offer and a second, even lower offer. What a conundrum we were in. Should we take the first offer? Should we take the second offer? Should we just burn the house down and take the insurance money? What should we do?
I'm going to miss the old place...

Selling our house was becoming more stressful than I had ever imagined it would. Why couldn't it just go smoothly, with one interested buyer agreeing to pay exactly what we were asking without any bickering, and paying us in one big bag full of cash? Isn't that how it's supposed to work?

Well, somehow, that is pretty much what ended up happening. A third, much higher, offer came in while we were hemming and hawing over the first two offers, for almost what we were asking for, and, lo and behold, they are going to pay cash. It couldn't get any better than that. We are very excited, except now we have to get all the rest of our stuff out of the house. I think we may have to buy another house to fit it all...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hi, My Name Is...

When I came up with the title of this post, I immediately started humming the tune to the rap song "My Name Is" by Eminem. I am not a huge fan of rap, but I don't hate it, either. In fact, I used to be the owner of several rap CDs, including Run DMC's Greatest Hits, and a couple of Beastie Boys CDs. I no longer own any of those CDs, not necessarily because I stopped liking rap, although that had something to do with it, but more because of the fact that I am an interminable seller of CDs. An evil part of my brain is always eager to tell me, "Hey, Scott, you'll never want to listen to this CD any more. Why don't you take it to Half Price Books or Cheapo Records and sell it for approximately 1/1000th of what you paid for it? If you sell enough of your CDs there, maybe you could afford to stop at McDonald's on your way home for a small order of french fries?" For some reason over the years, I have often listened to myself during times like this, and gone off and sold bins and bins of CDs for pennies on the dollar. Invariably, within a few months, I get songs from these CDs stuck in my head, so I go home to listen to them, and end up in a puddle of my own despair when I realize I sold the CD for virtually no money a few months earlier. I don't know how many times this has happened over the course of my life. You'd think I would learn, wouldn't you? For some reason, I don't.
I chose to use this photo instead of a photo of the rapper Eminem, because I've always thought Eminem kind of sounded like Kermit the Frog, and I'm not really into hearing Kermit the Frog rapping. That's just my opinion, though. I'm sure Eminem is a very nice person in all other regards...

Any ways, this blog post was not supposed to be about rap music, or my penchant for selling CDs that I shouldn't sell. Instead this blog post was supposed to be about my name, which is Scott, so let's get back on track, shall we?

Yes, my name is Scott. To me, it seems like a fairly straight-forward name. It's only got 5 letters. It only has one syllable. I think that it should be pretty easily remembered by people. Yet, for some reason, for some people, it isn't. OK, I probably should temper my rant right now, because it's true that a large majority of people do remember my name. Sure, when I was a kid, a few people called me Steve, but that's probably understandable, since my dad's name is Steve. I can see how some people could make that mistake.

Even now, every once in a while, people who don't even know my dad will still call me Steve. I guess that's probably because Scott and Steve both have just one syllable and start with "S", so I can kind of understand that too. It's the other names that people call me that I don't understand.

For some reason, I have been called "Mark" more than a handful of times over the years. What's that all about? I don't get it.

At my own wedding, a person who shall remain nameless (not because I don't remember her name, just because I'm trying to be nice) called me "Chris". Shouldn't someone at my wedding know my name? That one still boggles my mind.

Just this past weekend, somebody called me "Jeff". "Jeff" is nothing like Scott. I have no idea where that came from. It's almost enough to make me want to wear a name tag wherever I go...

Oh well, I probably shouldn't be too upset. I, myself, am terrible at remembering people's names, at least when I am first introduced to him or her. Whenever we meet new people, the Wife and I have to sneak off to have a secret confab where we both ask each other what our new acquaintance's name is. Between the two of us, we can usually figure it out, but if we meet you at a party some time in the near future, don't be surprised if we both refer to you as "Hey you." At least that's better than "Jeff", don't you think?