Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cheap, No Good Pens

I don't think they make ball point pens like they used to. When I was growing up, I remember ball point pens as being super strong. We could use them to pound in nails or prop up the hood of our car. That's what my juvenile delinquent friends and I did with them, any way. Maybe some of you just used ball point pens for boring things like writing letters and stuff. Not me. No, when I was a kid I was more of a rebel, and I made my ball point pens work.

Yup, ball point pens used to be made to stand up to the rigors of everyday life. They could take a lickin' and keep on tickin', so to speak. I had a Bic once that helped me out of many of life's travails. If I was lost out in the woods of western Wisconsin, I could get out of the elements by using my trusty Bic to stake up whatever lean-to I had fashioned; I could take the innards out of it and use it as a blowgun to catch me some supper; and then I could even use my trusty Bic as a skewer to roast whatever wild game I had happened to shoot. OK, nothing like that ever actually happened, but if it had, I would have trusted my Bic pen completely. Yup, that was a good pen.
Yup, they sure don't make pens like they used to...
They sure don't make them like that any more. Nowadays, ball point pens are cheap. They run out of ink too fast. The mechanism doesn't click back up when you want it to. They're made out of inexpensive, brittle plastic. I'll tell you how brittle they can be. There have been countless times that one of these cheap, new-fangled ball point pens has cracked right in half in my back pocket, just from my sitting down on a chair. That's not right. And the only reason I can think of that happening is that they don't make pens like they used to.The Wife has some other crazy theory about why those pens broke, but, like I said, it's crazy, so I won't spend any more time on that.

Well, my little rant about pens is over. I think I'll go and try to figure out why they've been making blue jeans tighter and tighter. I'm sure there's gotta be a good reason.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Art of the Sleepover

I don't like to brag. Well, actually I do. It's one of my worst character flaws. I really do try to suppress my desire to brag most of the time, but right now, it's awfully strong. So, I guess I will brag just this one time, and then I promise you I won't brag again until at least tomorrow.

The Wife and I are pretty smart, if we do say so ourselves. We have completely mastered the art of the sleepover. Now, I don't mean to say that we are really good about inviting our kids' friends and cousins over to our house for a sleepover, and then arrange them in geometrically-exact shapes in their sleeping bags. No. In fact, we aren't very good about inviting our kids' friends and cousins over for sleepovers at all. I think in the three years and ten months that we have been parents, we have hosted exactly two sleepovers. The thought of having even more kids in our house at bedtime gives the Wife and me an acute case of the screaming willies.

So, no, I am not bragging about our ability to host sleepovers. Instead, I am bragging about our ability to have other people host our kids for sleepovers! Our kids (at least the two older ones, the Girl and the Boy) get to have sleepovers all the time. It's awesome! The Wife and I have perfected the Art of the Sleepover, and I am happy to tell all you parents out there what our secret is.
The Art of the Sleepover, Rule #1: Always bring a packed bag!
Are you ready for the secret to the Art of the Sleepover? Here it is: We don't ask! If we know we are going to be spending an afternoon or evening at, say, one of the grandparents' houses, we just bring along an overnight bag for the kids, filled with jammies, toothbrushes, a change of clothes, etc. Then, after talking up the possibility of a sleepover on the drive over, the kids automatically go and ask Grandma or Grandpa as soon as we walk in the door. And what Grandma or Grandpa in their right mind could ever say no to two angelic-looking kids like ours? They can't! It's a perfect plan!

Next time you really need a night away from your kids, just follow the instructions I laid out here. The Art of the Sleepover is guaranteed to work 100% of the time. And if not, try it at somebody else's house. As long as it's not mine.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

That's a Spicy Baby!

Spicy is a fun adjective that can be used to describe lots of things. Meatballs, enchiladas, salsa, kung pao chicken, Indian food, and the Wife all come to mind. Normal people probably don't associate babies with spicy, but nobody ever accused me of being normal. Most people, in fact, accuse me of being quite abnormal, so this post should seem pretty normal for me.

I don't actually go around saying things like, "Hey, that's a spicy baby you got there!" There is a limit to my creepiness, after all. But I do associate spices with our babies. And I'll tell you why.

Every single one of the babies that I have ever lived with has absolutely loved spices. Not necessarily on their food, although they all have had very broad and eclectic tastes. Have you ever heard of another 10-month-old who drools at the sight of venison summer sausage? OK, she drools all the time, no matter what food is in front of her. Or even if there isn't any food in front of her. That's not the point. The point is that she loves foods that most other babies don't. But that's not why I think of spicy when I think about my kids.

All of our kids have loved spices that are still in the jar. We keep our spices in a lower cabinet in our kitchen, right between the fridge and the oven, and somehow, some way, all three of our kids have found that cabinet on their own, and learned that spice jars are some of the most fun toys they could play with. All three kids, starting with the Girl, have loved to open up the cabinet door, grab as many jars of spices as they can, throw them out on the floor, and roll them around. We have found spice jars in every room in our upper level. Too many jars to count have ended up underneath the living room sofa; the only reason we see them is because the bottom of the sofa is at eye level as we walk up and down the stairs to the basement. "I see a Cream of Tartar!", I shout to the Wife as I head down to get a can of green beans from the pantry. As long as we don't trip on them and severely injure ourselves, it's kind of fun to find them everywhere.

This probably isn't all that exciting of a phenomenon if you aren't either the Wife or me. But I find it fascinating that all three of the kids figured out where the spices are, and how much fun they are to play with, all on their own. I think it shows intuition. I think it shows intuitiveness. I think it shows aptitude. It also probably shows that Daddy needs to find a hobby. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Daddy and His Girl, Having "The Talk"...

Well, I finally had to have "the talk" with the Girl this morning. I wasn't really ready for it, and wasn't thinking I would have to have "the talk" for several more years. She is only three, after all. But she asks a lot of questions, and today I found myself in a situation where I was pretty much forced to do it.

I was in the bathroom, getting ready for my shower, when I heard a faint knock on the door. I knew the kids were awake, so I had a good suspicion that it was the Girl, needing to come in and use the potty, which she often does. So I opened the door and let her come in. We were having our usual early morning potty-time conversation: How did you sleep? How are you feeling this morning? Are you excited to go over to Grandma D's today? Things like that.

But then she asked me the dreaded question: "What is that?"

Not sure exactly what to say, I muttered, "Umm, it's just something that Daddy has..."

"Why don't I have that?"

"Well, because daddies and little girls are different."

"Will I have that when I grow up?"

"No, umm, only daddies have that."

"Does Mommy have that?"

"No, Mommy definitely does not have that. OK, time for Daddy to hop in the shower and for you to go get dressed. OK, bye-bye now!"

"But, um, why doesn't Mo....."

That was when I pushed her out of the bathroom and shut the door behind her.

Well, I think I got through that fiasco pretty well. I knew at some point she would ask me what my belly button lint was, and I think that, under the pressure, I handled the situation about as well as can be expected. Don't you?
If you want to see a lot of really strange photos, google "belly button lint" some time. I didn't think any of them were suitable for a nice family-friendly blog like this, so I censored this one myself. You can thank me later.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Daddy Likes Toys

The kids have a lot of toys. At this very moment, the Boy's favorite ones are his Thomas the Train wooden toys and tracks. Tomorrow his favorites very well could be his Jake and the Neverland Pirates action figures or his Hot Wheels, but today the crown goes to Thomas. Which is good, because we have a lot of Thomas toys.

Unless you are already a parent, or have young nieces and/or nephews, or you work at a daycare, or you are a lonely dude living in his parents' basement who likes to play with trains that are aimed at toddlers, you may not know that wooden Thomas toys are quite spendy. If you were to go to your favorite store, looking to buy a single Thomas-themed wooden train, it would cost somewhere between $12 and $25. And that's just for one train. If you wanted a set that included one or two trains, enough tracks to make an oval or a figure-8, and a building or two, it would cost around $60. These are some expensive toys!

Luckily, the Wife and I are old pros when it comes to finding deals. Over the past few years we have made some significant purchases, while spending only a small fortune instead of our life savings, so we now have hundreds, if not billions, of track pieces, and at least 40 trains for our kids to play with. And, thankfully, they actually play with them.

The thing is, as much as the kids like to play with their Thomas trains, I think maybe I like to play with them more. I like to set up intricate track layouts, and I get a little annoyed when the kids change them. "The Boy is messing up my layout!!", I think to myself.
I may have finally gone off the deep end with this photo montage...
And, even though we have upwards of a billion track pieces, I find myself looking online for more and different tracks, and dream about  the cool layouts I could make. I search for trains that we don't have. I look for roundabouts and new buildings, because, obviously, our trains need somewhere to hang out. I even built and painted an extra-large train table, because the tables that were for sale in stores were too small. I've got it bad.

So far, I've been able to control myself, and haven't actually purchased any of the aforementioned trains and tracks that I have ogled on the internet. If I did, I think the Wife may kick me out of the house. My main goal when I wake up every morning is to not do anything that will make the Wife kick me out of the house. But, if she ever does, at least I know there's always room for me and my trains in my parents' basement.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Difference Between Men and Women, In a Nutshell

I've got news for you, and it might come as a shock to some of you, so be warned. Here it is, are you ready? Men and women are different. Oh my goodness, can you believe it? I know that when the Wife and I first got married, I was totally shocked by some of our differences. Why hadn't anyone told me about this crazy phenomena? Was I just supposed to know this? I'm a guy. I don't even know how my brain works. How am I supposed to figure out a woman's brain?

No, of course, men and women are different. God didn't hook us up the same way, so we think, see, and do things differently. Women probably think that, not only are men hooked up differently, most of them aren't hooked up correctly at all. I know for a fact that the Wife thinks that about me, at least in one set of circumstances, if not more.

This one thing showed itself early on in our marriage, and I think at first it perplexed the Wife, but in the years since, it has grown to aggravate, irritate, and exasperate her, as well. I try to diffuse the situation the best I can, but remember, I'm a guy, so the best I can isn't always that good.

Here's how it plays out: I, being the manly man that I am, grow facial hair at the rate of about two inches per day. I have had a goatee for as long as anyone can remember, so every week or so I have to trim it, or else it will soon start to drag on the floor, and I would get tired of combing out the dust bunnies it would constantly be picking up. So, I go into the bathroom with my electric beard trimmer and my trusty Fiskars scissors, and I start trimming. Sculpting is probably a more accurate description of what I do, since it looks like a work of art when I finish.

After about 10 or 15 minutes, I emerge from the bathroom a changed man, full of confidence and animal magnetism, knowing that my newly coiffed facial hair has turned me into a handsome young buck, or at least it's made me look less like a hobo, which might be as good as I can hope for.

I strut around the house with renewed vigor, fully expecting compliments to be showered upon me by my beloved bride. Instead, I only hear gasps, wheezes, and snorts coming from the bathroom. I go in to see what all the commotion is about, only to find the Wife, a look of extreme consternation on her face, pointing at the bathroom counter immediately surrounding the sink.

"What's going on?" I ask, befuddled.

"Look at the sink" she groans through clenched teeth.

"I don't know what I'm looking at" I say, thoroughly confused.

"There are whiskers everywhere!" she explains.

"No, there can't be. I cleaned up after myself."

"Well, look again, Bartimaeus!"

(Sometimes we call each other by cute little nicknames to convey our love. This was not one of those times.)

So I looked, and, sure enough, there were a few whiskers that I missed. Not too many, though. It couldn't have been more than 10 or 200. I explained that those weren't there a few minutes ago. The Wife explains to me that A. Nobody else in the house has dark hair. B. Nobody else in the house has a beard that needs trimming. And C. Whose whiskers could they be if they aren't yours?!?!?! 
Can you see any whiskers in this photo? No, me neither...
Despite my theory that there may have been a rogue Sasquatch in the area recently, I give in and admit that they probably are mine. But, how did they get there? I thoroughly wiped up the entire sink, sending millions upon millions of whiskers down the drain. So where did these come from?

After battling the same issue for several years, I have come up with a theory. Men and women do not see things the same way! When I finish trimming my beard, there are literally millions of whiskers laying about. Upon cleaning them, the millions are gone, but apparently a few still remain that I don't notice. Only a woman's eyes can see them. It's a pretty strange occurrence, and has been the cause of many fun "discussions" between the Wife and me. If I figure out a solution, I will let all my bearded friends know. I could ask other guys how they handle the situation, but they're guys; they won't know. Maybe I should ask the next Sasquatch I see. He's bound to have better ideas than I do.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

73 Years Ago Today...

Seventy-three years ago, today, in a ramshackle shanty on the dusty plains of Kansas, a state that wouldn't know the luxuries of electricity, running water, and Coca-Cola for another fifty years or so, a baby was born who would change the course of history. OK, maybe she wouldn't change the course of history, but she would make her own history, as well as the history of all her descendants, interesting and memorable in her own way.

That baby would grow up and move away to the tiny burg of Le Mars, Iowa, which was only slightly ahead of Kansas, anthropologically speaking. She would graduate from Westmar College, which would confirm its place in the annals of education by promptly closing a few years later.

After college, this now-young lady made the trek to the sprawling metropolitan area of the Twin Cities, where she would find plenty of electricity, all the running water she could flush, bottles and bottles of delicious Coca-Cola, as well as work, love, and, eventually, two screaming children. Those screaming children were my sister and me, in that order, who have, in turn, given her a plethora of screaming grandchildren, whether she wanted them or not.
Happy Birthday to my wonderful mom. Thank you for all you have done over the years for me, the Wife, and more recently, our three kiddos. You are a great grandmother, and we are all lucky to have you in our lives! Here's to another 73 years, whether you want them or not!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Baby is NOT a Monkey. She Just Dresses Like One...

We have been very fortunate to have received countless bags and boxes of hand-me-down clothes for our kids over the past few years. And if we didn't know someone with hand-me-downs, we have been able to find cheap, gently-used clothes on craigslist several times, as well. I would have to say that 99% of our kids' clothes have been previously used. The only new clothes they ever get are from their grandmas and aunts, usually for their birthdays.

The Baby is currently in an in-between stage of clothes. She fits into some 12-month clothes, but others are way too tight, and some are still too big. Some 18-month clothes are doable, but a lot of them make her look like an 8-year-old trying to wear her mom's clothes. Some times I dress her in those clothes just so I can giggle to myself all day. I think that's a dad's prerogative.

The biggest problem we have going right now, and possibly the biggest problem in the known universe currently, is the Baby's winter coat. She was wearing a real cute fleecy deal all fall, but it was for 6-9 months, and it was fleece, so it was not nearly warm enough once winter hit. At first we moved her into an 18-month coat that the Wife dug out of one of the billion boxes of clothes we have in our basement, because there did not seem to be a 12-month coat anywhere in the house. The 18-month coat was really big, but at least it kept her warm.

The Wife knew there had to be a 12-month winter coat somewhere in the house, since the Baby's older sister, the Girl, was, at one point in time, a 12-month-old who survived the winter. So there had to be a coat floating around somewhere. But, where?

Well, the Wife finally did find a 12-month coat hidden somewhere in the bowels of our house , but it wasn't one that any of us had remembered ever seeing before. We are not entirely sure where it came from. It possibly was in a bag of clothes we bought off of craigslist, or maybe it was a hand-me-down from someone. Whatever the case, it appears to have come from a family of monkeys. The main body of the coat fits the baby very well, but the sleeves are at least four inches too long. And the sleeves look even longer because there are mittens that have been surgically attached at the end so they can't be removed. The mittens make the sleeves appear to be another 4 or 5 inches longer than they really are. It's really quite comical how silly the Baby looks while she's wearing this coat. But, like the 18-month coat, it's keeping her warm, and with the high temperature being -2 in a couple of days, we'll keep putting her in it.

She should grow out of this coat in a few months, so if yours, or any family you know, is a family of monkeys, let me know. We can hook you up.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Wife and I Are Exactly Alike. Except For...

I don't know how I found a woman that thinks exactly like I do, but I did. OK, not exactly like I do. Nobody thinks as weirdly as I do. Well, very few at least. Only a handful that I've come across, so far. You know who you are. But, when it comes to things that matter, the Wife and I are almost always on the exact same page.

Not that I came into our marriage with any preconceived ideas about parenting (I am a guy, after all), but now that we are parents, we always agree on how we should discipline the little buggers, and our overall philosophies on parenting are identical.

We also have similar tastes in food. We share the same beliefs. We like to watch the same TV shows, although I am much more inclined to watch sports than the Wife is. We usually like similar movies. She'll even indulge me in a Coen brothers' movie every once in a while. We share the same ability to put off doing the laundry. It's truly amazing how alike we are!

Except when it comes to our internal thermostat. We are far different when it comes to preferred temperatures. But even this rift really only shows itself intermittently - and only at night.

When we get under the covers at night, the Wife is almost always freezing. We have a dual-control electric blanket on our bed, so we can each control our own side. The temperature controls on this amazing human achievement are numbered: "1" is the least-hot setting, and then it gets progressively warmer with "2", "3", "4", etc. I should clarify that it's numbered until you get to the hottest setting, which, instead of being "10", which would be logical, is actually "H", which I presume stands for "HOLY MOLY, THAT'S HOT!" The Wife absolutely loves "H", at least when we are going to bed. She cranks that puppy up to "H", and leaves it there for a good while. I, on the other hand, am rarely as cold as the Wife, so even on days when I do turn my side of the blanket on, I never set it above a "1". "1" is just enough to take the chill out of the sheets and make me comfortable. And I almost always turn my side of the blanket off within a few minutes. If I don't, I will soon be drenching the bed in sweat. Not a pretty picture, let me tell you!
Mmmmmm, dual controls!

The previous scenario plays out at bedtime, but by morning everything has changed. When I awake from my slumber, underneath the covers all cozy and snug, I routinely find my beautiful bride without any covers on at all. At some point in the night, she goes from agonizingly cold to excruciatingly hot. I don't get it. I don't know if she gets it. If I was being silly I could say "Hey, my wife gets hotter throughout the night, heh heh!", but we all know that would be impossible, because she's already the hottest thing going. I think I may as well give up on my quest to understand this phenomenon, and just when I was this close to fully understanding women. Oh well.

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's Getting Stinky In Here

I have written, in the past, about how we begin our kids on solid foods. It's an interesting way of doing it, totally bypassing pureed foods, instead going right to solid hunks of food when a baby is around six months old. Our first two kids, the Girl and the Boy, took to this way of eating right from the get-go, quickly learning how to hold the food in their hands and how to manipulate the food in their mouths. The Boy, especially, started scarfing down food within a couple of weeks, and hasn't stopped eating since.

The Girl did go through a short phase when she was probably about 10 months old. She was just learning her first words, and the Wife and I made the mistake of teaching her the phrase "Uh oh!" These quickly became her favorite words, and her favorite time to utter them was whenever she "dropped" some of her food over the side of her high chair to the waiting teeth of our annoying, yippy dogs, Toby and Gromit. This game became more fun for the Girl than actually eating, so the Wife and I had to nip it in the bud so that our dogs didn't become more bloated and lethargic than they already were.

Fast forward to the present, and we can see that the Baby is finally starting to get the hang of eating solid foods. It has taken longer than it did with the others, but she is now getting pretty good at it. Especially meat. She loves meat! And it doesn't matter what kind, either. She loves pork chops, roast, hamburger, sausage, hot dogs, chicken, even venison summer sausage. She must have gotten her meat-eating genes from her Daddy, another ravenous carnivore.

Unfortunately, the Baby hasn't been utilizing her eating skills very well for the past couple weeks. She's been sick, and hasn't felt like eating all that much. She'll eat a few things each mealtime, but then the rest of her food goes, you guessed it, over the side of her high chair into the waiting teeth of our annoying, yippy dogs. They have been eating like royalty lately, getting bites of all the aforementioned meats, as well as peas, string cheese, orange and apple slices, freeze-dried strawberries and mangoes, noodles, my favorite smoked gouda, and whatever else we may have been eating during that time period. Actually, Toby is the one who has been eating the best, since he is much quicker then Gromit when it comes to food retrieval.
The annoying and yippy Toby, waiting patiently under the high chair for some delectable morsels.
All of this human food is new to the dogs, who typically only eat dry Iams dog food. It seems apparent that their gastrointestinal tracts maybe weren't quite ready for all this succulent food, and now we are paying the price. Toby, especially, has become extremely stinky, if you know what I mean. Somehow he seems to have developed the ability to hold it in until the point in time that he is sitting on my lap. Or maybe it only seems that way because the rest of the day I don't get close enough to the dogs to smell it. Whatever the case, the smell is terrible. I think I have figured out a way to fix it though. From now until we can teach the Baby to not throw her food overboard, we're only going to feed her Iams dog food. She's always wanted to eat it any way, so we'll kill two birds with one stone. I don't see any problems arising. In fact, this might be my best plan yet.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Great New Diet Plan

I have unwittingly stumbled upon one of the greatest, most effective, and easiest diet plans that has ever been devised. It has helped me to lose almost 10 pounds, and keep it off for more than 4 months. And it couldn't get any easier. Pretty much, all I have to do is live, and the pounds just keep coming off. No exercise, no special diet, no counting of calories; I don't have to do anything, but I keep losing weight. It's awesome!

What, you may ask, is this amazing plan that fell into my lap without my looking for it? I will tell you. All you need to do to lose weight is (drum roll, please)........register your 3-year-old daughter for preschool! (Ta-da!)

You are probably thinking to yourself, "Self, this Scott Hanson character is loony. What could putting his daughter in preschool have to do with his losing weight?"
This is the "After" picture of me. You can tell this is really me because I have that exact tape measure sitting here on my desk.
Well, I will tell you. Ever since the Girl started preschool way back in September, she has consistently been bringing germ after germ home from school, and giving them directly to me. Every week I am sick with one kind of illness or another. One week I will be hacking up a lung. The next week I will have a vicious tummy bug that makes me keep in close contact with the bathroom. After that my sinuses will be so stuffed up and drippy that I need to bungee cord a box of Kleenexes to my belt loop. It's been a never-ending vicious cycle that I don't see ending any time until summer vacation.

But, you see, the plus side is that, with all of the sickness that has invaded my body, I either am not able to keep whatever food I have eaten inside me, or I don't feel like eating anything to start with. So, the pounds have just been floating off! It's amazing!

I would recommend this diet plan to anyone. If you want to lose weight, simply send your kids off to school. If you don't have kids, borrow some from someone who does. If you're not married, get married, and try to start having kids of your own, if you know what I mean. In three years and nine months, you could be in the best shape of your life!

Who would have ever thought that signing the Girl up for preschool would make such a difference in my life? There's only one problem that I can see: next year, when the Boy goes to preschool too, there may be so many germs, and I may lose so much weight, that I will whither away. I better pack on the pounds this coming summer, just to be ready. Seems like a good idea to me.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Do You Think They Have facebook in Heaven?

If you know me at all, and since you are reading my blog, you probably know me at least a little bit, you should know that I am way too addicted to facebook. I don't actually look at it all the time, but I do have a tendency to log in in the morning, and leave it open all day while I do other things. That way I can easily check it any time the mood hits to see if anybody has posted anything interesting. Usually nobody has, but occasionally somebody will, and apparently I have a deep-rooted need to quickly post a (sometimes) witty or (usually) annoying comment in response. Without facebook, I never would have known this about myself!

I think that facebook is an awesome way to get back in touch with people from the past, as well as a great way to keep up to date on friends, no matter where in the world they might be. I post on facebook quite a bit, if you haven't already noticed, writing about anything and everything in my life.
What do you think? Do they?
Recently that has included a couple of posts about Grandma Millie, the Wife's 98 1/2 year old grandmother who recently died. I thought it would be a good way to get the news of her death out to people she came into contact with, whatever corner of the world they may be in.

What has surprised me is how many other people also wrote about Grandma Millie on facebook. I counted at least 19 posts by other people, expressing their sadness about her death, as well as excitement for her life, knowing that she is now in heaven. All of these posts were about a 98 year old, who was never even on facebook! Sure, she was about as hip as you could expect for someone her age. She had a laptop, and even skyped with her great-grandkids in Oklahoma every once in a while. But I don't know that she even really knew what facebook was. And, yet, here was a bunch of people that she touched in some way or another, writing about her for all their friends to read.

Heaven sounds pretty awesome to me, so I'm sure they must have facebook up there. Hopefully somebody can help her get registered. She's got a lot of fun reading to get to!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Would You Like Some Salt With That?

I promise I will start writing about my crazy kids again real soon, but I have (at least) one more story about Grandma Millie that I thought needed to be told. If you hadn't heard, the Wife's Grandma Millie died 9 days ago at the age of 98 1/2. I think elderly people have the right to start going by half years again, much like children do, once they get above the age of 90. I know that's what I'm going to do, if I ever get to be that old. Might as well celebrate any milestone you can think of when you're that old, I always say.

So, any way, Grandma Millie was 98 1/2, and, like many older people, she loved salt. I think people's taste buds must start to whither away when they get older. Maybe our medical professionals should start trying to figure out how to keep taste buds alive longer, to go with the extended average life expectancy of people.

Whatever the case, Grandma Millie had been losing her taste buds for a while, which meant that she was always adding salt to whatever she ate. She usually didn't wait to taste her food before dumping a load of salt on it. I can vividly remember looking over at her plate while we were having dinner together as a family one time, and seeing a visible layer of salt on top of her pork chop. This was a pork chop that had been simmering in a vat of cream of mushroom soup for hours on end. And everyone knows that cream of anything soups are some of the saltiest foods on earth.

Grandma Millie didn't care. She wanted to get some semblance of taste out of her food, so on went the salt. And it didn't seem to be harming her. She did live to be 98 1/2, after all. Maybe the salt was acting as a kind of preservative, keeping all of her internal organs fresh and spry. Who knows...The one thing I do know is that her doctors told her to cut down on her salt intake a couple of months ago, and now she's gone. Seems a little fishy to me.
If I ever get to be 98 1/2 years old, I am going to want a salt lick next to my favorite chair. Can you make sure that happens, please? Thanks 
Well, one of the last really salty things she had was some delicious chicken from KFC. So, in honor of Grandma Millie, I went to KFC for lunch today. I didn't add any extra salt to anything, like she would have, but believe me, I got plenty of salt. And my organs feel nice and spry. I think maybe I'll reach 98 1/2 after all. Hopefully my taste buds will accompany me to that ripe, old age.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Surreal Week

It's been a very surreal couple of weeks around here. First of all, we had a wonderful Christmas week, celebrating with all of our loved ones from both near and far. We had a great time with my family, but we spent a majority of the week with the Wife's family, since her two sisters who live in Oklahoma were in town, along with their families. We love to spend a lot of time with them when they are around, since we don't get to see them all that often. We pretty much spent every evening, and most of the the days, hanging out with them, and had a great time.

Christmas week was especially fun because the Wife's Grandma Millie was feeling well, and was able to get out and do a bunch of things that she hadn't felt like doing for a while. She came to church with us on Christmas Eve, she went to her International Bible Givers meeting that week, which she hadn't been to in months, she was full of good cheer when our church's Christmas caroling party was going on at her house, and she even stayed up late on the night of Friday, December 28th, watching and cheering on her beloved Gophers football team as they played in their bowl game. It was a wonderful week, and it seemed as though Grandma Millie was turning the corner in her recovery from her illnesses which had been bugging her for a while.
Grandma Millie with the Boy when he was about 5 months old.
Then everything changed. Our fun week of celebrating Christmas together turned into a week of sadness. Grandma Millie had a heart attack early Saturday morning, and she was gone by noon the next day. Everything switched from being fun to being sad. It's been a very surreal turn of events.

I recently read somewhere that it takes a long time to get over the death of a loved one; and there's no quick-fix cure-all you can do to make it go any faster. Having lost my fair share of loved ones, I can attest to that, but since I recently read it, it's been incredibly noticeable in this case. There will be a lot of little moments that we'll all have to deal with.

I was doing pretty well a couple of days after Grandma Millie's death. Going through life, everything seemed OK. Then I stepped through the front door of her house for the first time since she died, and saw her favorite chair that she always used to sit in. Talk about a gut-wrenching moment.

And then there was the time during yesterday's church service, when I realized that,  if she were still alive, Grandma Millie would have been sitting right in line between me and Pastor Kory, who was up on the platform, preaching. I'll never get to see her in her favorite seat in the second pew again. It's surreal.

I guess it's all just part of the grieving process. I know that it can take a long time, and eventually the memories and realizations will start to trigger happy thoughts instead of sad. At least we have each other to help get through it all. The surrealness will start to wear off, too.  I can't wait.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What a Celebration!

Today we celebrated the life of my wife's Grandma Millie. It was an awesome celebration, with beautiful music, touching remembrances, and hundreds of people who Grandma Millie had touched in some way over the years. Sure, there were a few tears shed, mostly by me, but I am getting a reputation as the family blubberer, so that's cool. Funerals have a tendency to do that to me, for some reason.
Grandma Millie getting surprised by two of her great-grandchildren a few years ago.
Despite the tears, the entire day went very well. We decided to bring all three of the kids into the church sanctuary with us for the funeral service, which some people probably thought was crazy, but we wanted them to be with us, as long as they didn't get too stir crazy. I am proud to announce that all three did beautifully during the service. The Girl and the Boy both sat quietly (for the most part) and colored, and the Baby fell asleep in her Aunt's arms.

The Boy did get a little whiny when his mommy and her three sisters all went up in the front of the church to sing. He wanted to go up and sing with his mommy, but I was able to get him to be happy just watching her.

Other than that, all three kids got through both days - yesterday at the visitation and today at the funeral and lunch afterwards - with flying colors. Both the Wife and I are very proud of them, since we both expected much more chaos than we got. Once life gets back into a more normal routine, I'm sure the chaos will return. For now, we'll just enjoy it while it's gone.