Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ode to a Grandma, Part 2

If you haven't noticed, we here at Chaotic Kids & Clutter are very analytical and scientifically-inspired thinkers. When trying to decide what to write about, we get out out protractors, gonkulators, and geothermally-activated thinking hats, and analyze every last inch of life, so that we can ignore all the normal things that go on, and write about the absolute silliest things that happen around here. At least, that's how it usually works. Some times we need to stop being so silly and write some serious stuff, too. This would be one of those times.

This is my third "ode" style blog post. The first one was an ode to the Wife's Grandma Millie, who died a little over a year ago. The second was to my good friend, Mike Alwin, who didn't die, but his role in my life was about to change, so I thought he deserved an ode as well. This one is an ode to the Wife's other grandma, Grandma Loris, who died last week, just a couple of months after celebrating her 90th birthday.

I didn't get to know Grandma Loris nearly as well as I did Grandma Millie. Grandma Loris lived several hundred miles away on the western edge of Nebraska, and the only time I ever met her was when she and several other members of the family came to Minnesota for our wedding, 8 and a half years ago now. It was fun to meet everyone, but with all the wedding stuff going on, I wasn't able to spend a whole lot of time getting to know them all that well.

Lots of varying circumstances kept me from going out to Nebraska to visit, but the Wife and all three of our kids made the trip in October to celebrate Grandma Loris' birthday. They all had a great time, and the kids really enjoyed meeting their other Grandma that they had heard all about.

Rest in peace, Grandma Loris!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Action Figures Are Not Dolls!

Action figures are not dolls. That is a declarative statement that is meant for a certain someone I live with who likes to tease me relentlessly whenever I play with the kids and their action figures. Dolls have flowing hair that you can brush, and interchangeable outfits that have glittery sequins and shiny baubles. Action figures do not. End of story.

The kids have lots of cool action figures, and being the doting Daddy that I claim to be, I find that part of my duties is to help the kids play with them whenever they ask me to. And whenever I ask them to. Usually the older two kids, the Girl and the Boy, are around during the playing, but sometimes they get a little bossy about which action figures I get to play with, and even what I can have my action figures do. It can put a damper on the fun. But tonight's action figure playtime was just for me and the Baby, since the other two were still in the bathtub. We had a great time playing, pretending, and laughing together; these things wouldn't have happened if we were playing with dolls, I'll tell you that much for sure.

I did notice a thing or two that was odd about a couple of the action figures, though. First of all, we have a whole bunch of hand-me-down Littlest Pet Shop figures that the Girl got as a hand-me-down a couple of years ago. If you don't know what those are, they are small action figures that look like animals of all sorts, and they come with various accoutrements that small animal action figures need. Some of you might question whether Littlest Pet Shop toys should fit in the "action figure" category. I looked it up, and if all of your children are under the age of 5, they do count as action figures. So, we're good.

Any way, the Littlest Pet Shop action figure that caused me some concern is pictured below. The problem is that I have no idea what kind of animal it is supposed to be. Is it a hamster? Maybe a guinea pig? Some kind of marmot? Perhaps a kitten whose tail was cut off in a freak miter saw accident? If you know for sure, please inform me so I can put my mind at ease.

The second oddity I noticed tonight concerned the Boy's new Incredible Hulk action figure that he just got for Christmas. It obviously is supposed to be the Hulk, as you can tell from the muscular, green body and the cut-off pants. But when you look at it more closely, specifically in the face, it looks more like a beefed-up version of Sprout, the Jolly Green Giant's tiny apprentice. I'm sure this is probably just a coincidence, but I am going to try to use it to get the kids to eat their peas. They won't do it for Mommy and Daddy, but maybe they will if their action figure tells them to. It's worth a shot...

Something about the Boy's Incredible Hulk action figure reminds me of Sprout. Either I'm on to something, or I'm on something...

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's The "It's Time To Name The Baby" Contest!!

The Baby is getting old. She's pretty much not a baby any more, despite the crying and whining that often emanate from her. She walks. She dances. She says several words. She brushes her own tooth. She puts other people's overly large shoes on her toddler-sized feet and hobbles around the house for everyone's enjoyment. She really isn't a baby. If you need more proof, take a gander at her birth certificate, and you will see that, within a couple of months, she will officially be a bonafide 2-year-old. So, at least for the sake of this blog, I think it's time to stop calling her "the Baby".

But what should I call her? Even at home, in real life, she responds to being called "Baby". The other two kids call her "Baby" all the time. If you ask her "What's your name?" she will pat herself on the tummy and proudly proclaim "Baby!!".

So, how should I refer to her here on the ol' blog? I already have somebody playing the role of the Girl. And, not only do we also have somebody playing the Boy, but the Baby has all the wrong tiddly bits for that role... I thought about "the Toddler", but the other two are still kind of toddlers, too, aren't they? Maybe not. I don't know.

I am at a loss, so I need your help in deciding what I will call her. If you have any ideas (good or bad) about what I should start to call the Baby as she continues to change from baby form into full-fledged human, let me know.

Send in all your ideas, either as a comment on this blog, or on facebook, or send me an email. All of the entries will be meticulously scrutinized by a totally partisan, completely biased panel of judge (me). Whoever comes up with the winning entry will win some kind of really cool, yet-to-be-determined swag that may or may not have a monetary value of somewhere between 1 cent and 1 billion dollars. The contest will run until the end of the month, or until her birthday, or until I choose a winner. You never know, so get your entries in soon. Thank you for your help!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The 12 Warnings of Christmas

In all reality, this post has nothing to do with Christmas, other than the fact that we recently got home from a trip to Oklahoma to celebrate Christmas with the Wife's family. It was a quick trip, taking a total of about 72 hours, 21 of which were spent in the car. We didn't have a whole lot of time to spend with the family, but our kids did get to open up about a billion Christmas presents each, so I would call it a successful trip. We barely had enough room in the van to bring all their presents home, but we got them stuffed in somehow, so they were happy.

Every time we make the drive to Oklahoma, which was four times this year alone, not that I'm counting, it reminds me of the very first time I made the drive. I was a happy-go-lucky bachelor, heading down to meet my then-girlfriend's sisters, brothers-in-law, and nieces and nephews for what I believe was the very first time. I was blinded by love, and had no idea where this burgeoning relationship would take me in the years to come. Despite the fact that the then-girlfriend had asked me how many kids I wanted on one of our very first dates, the chaos that has now engulfed our home never crossed my mind back then. I probably should have seen it all coming, huh? That's beside the point, though.

In the years since my first trip to meet the family, my limited brain space has really only retained one vivid memory from that first trip, and that was the fact that I got pulled over for speeding by the friendly local police three separate times, yet I didn't receive a single ticket. It's pretty amazing, huh? I know, right?

Thankfully, that's been the way life has been going for me for a long time. In fact, the last 12 times I've been pulled over, I've only gotten warnings. No tickets. And I have no sane explanation for why this has happened. It seems to defy all logic.

Although I find myself to be ruggedly handsome, I doubt that my excruciatingly good looks had much to do with it. And it's not like I have some sob story I tell the officers. I just tell them the truth. Maybe police officers throughout this great nation of ours don't come across many honest speeders, so they take pity on me. I don't know. Whatever it is I do to keep getting just warnings, I plan to keep doing it.

Almost makes me look forward to lucky number 13! I should probably watch what I wish for...
This could be me, if, instead of a gray Porsche, it was a gray minivan with a Thule topper, a Spam ball on the antenna, and three kids in car seats.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How To Ring In The New Year With Your Plethora of Small Children

Don't get your hopes up. It's not possible. What is possible is putting the kiddos to bed at a decent hour, and then spending a lovely and relaxing evening with your beautiful bride. That is exactly what I did last night. And it was wonderful!

Actually, the first part of our evening was spent crashing a New Years' Eve party for accelerated adults (that's a term I just came up with for old people) at my in-laws' house. We only stayed for 45 minutes or so before the excitement became too much to handle, and we loaded up the kids in the ol' gray minivan and went home.

All three of those kiddos were in their jammies and snoring up a storm in no time, so the Wife and I settled in to watch a classicly weird movie from the 90s, Being John Malkovich, which I had never seen. If you've ever seen it, you know that it may be the weirdest movie in the history of mankind. Before we watched it, the Wife said something to the effect of "It's strange. I think you'll like it." Not sure if that was a compliment or not, but I did rather enjoy it.

The excitement continued when the Wife and I played several rousing games of Yahtzee. Don't fool yourself, Yahtzee has the ability to turn friends into foes, and husbands against wives. Thankfully we got through the match with very few fisticuffs. If you ask nicely, I will gladly show you my scars...
If the Wife's Yahtzee skills are any indication, she could have rolled this in one try. Photo courtesy of frugal-science.com

After the movie and the grudge match, we had about 45 minutes to spare until midnight. We flipped the channels a few times before the Wife decided to watch the end of an episode of the acclaimed British drama, Sherlock, which she had begun watching earlier in the day. There was a problem with our DVD player though, as it didn't seem to want to communicate with our wifi, so the Netflix wasn't working correctly. We tried everything, including unplugging it several times, turning it off and on several times, and my tried-and-true way of fixing intricate electronic gadgets - banging it against the nearest concrete wall/floor. Finally, the Wife thought maybe we should unplug the modem. Lo and behold, that did the trick! Jubilation erupted throughout the two of us! Then I looked at the clock and realized it was 12:07 AM...we had missed the arrival of the New Year. Oh well, hopefully we'll have lots more New Years to ring in in the future.

Happy New Year from Chaotic Kids & Clutter!!