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


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.

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.