Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Secret is Out!

Thanks to everyone who voted for Chaotic Kids & Clutter in this year's Bloggie Awards! If you haven't heard, we won the award for Best Kept Secret Weblog. Maybe with the newfound fame this win might bring, CK&C won't be such a secret next year. I guess we'll have to wait and find out!

If you saw my previous post, there was a slight mix-up in the date of the awards ceremony. I thought sure it was supposed to happen tomorrow, March 31st, but in fact it happened a day earlier, today, March 30th. Thankfully I noticed that some awards were being announced on the Bloggie Awards facebook page, so the Wife and I sat down to watch the happenings after we put the kids to bed.

The ginger ale tasted oh so good tonight!
When I thought the awards show was going to be on Monday, I had formed a little plan to dress up for it in my best suit, have the two girls dress up in their fancy dresses (the Boy is not a big fan of dressing up), and celebrate with a bottle of bubbling grape juice and a nice spread of cheese and summer sausage. I was going to have some photos taken of us "arriving" at our front door, just like the famous people do at the Oscars. I even had an idea to put together some bags of "swag" to hand out to all of us. My swag bag was going to have some good stuff in it, like a sleeve of golf balls, some Lindt chocolate truffles, and maybe even some hand-tied trout flies. It was going to be awesome!

Since the ceremony snuck up on me a day early, I didn't have a chance to put all that stuff together. We didn't even have any bubbling juice in the house, so the Wife and I split a can of ginger ale. We poured it in our best wine glasses to make the night seem fancy. To be extra classy, I added an ice cube to mine. Finding out we won made it taste oh so good! Thanks again!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

You Are Invited!

This is a special Bloggie Awards Viewing Party invitation!!!

What: The Bloggie Awards

When: Monday, March 31st, starting at 7:00 PM Central Daylight Time, going until approximately 10:35 PM Central Daylight Time

Where: Your favorite computer, tablet, or phone screen


Yes, you are invited to a special viewing party of the Bloggie Awards Presentation, and you don't have to leave your house, or even get dressed, if you don't want to! What could be better?!?!

This blog, Chaotic Kids & Clutter, is up for the award of Best Kept Secret Blog at this year's Bloggie Awards, and we'd like you to join us in celebrating. Just not at our house. See, our house is currently under construction, so it's really not in any shape to have a lot of people over. Plus, the kids will have to go to bed halfway through the ceremony, so everyone would have to whisper. It would really put a damper on the fun. But, you can help cheer us on, from the privacy of your own home!

Follow the proceedings in one of two places: The Bloggie Awards twitter feed, which is  https://twitter.com/Bloggies, or the Bloggie Awards facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/bloggies. A different winner will be announced every 5 minutes or so. It will be a hoot!
I hope you can make it!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sneaking Around Behind Our Backs...

That Girl of ours is a sneaky one, I tell you what!

Let me paint the scene for you... First off, it is imperative to know that both of our daughters, the Girl and the Little One, recently celebrated birthdays, their 5th and 2nd, respectively. Because of this they both received birthday cards in the mail from one of my cousins. If my cousin, who shall remain nameless, happens to be reading this right now, we always have intentions of sending thank-you notes, but it almost never happens, so I will say "Thank you!" from both of the girls right here. It was a very generous and thoughtful thing to do. You are the best!

So, both of the girls got a very nice card and a nifty monetary gift from my not-to-be-named cousin. The Little One doesn't have the first clue about money or what it is good for, so we had no problem taking it and putting it in her savings account. The Girl, on the other hand, does know what money is all about, although she hasn't totally grasped how much things are worth or how to make change. I think she has plenty of time to learn those things.

The Girl does know the cost of one thing, however, and apparently she can tell how much a bill is worth by looking at the number printed on it. I know that because she told the Wife the other morning that she knew what she was going to buy with her new-found birthday money. When the Wife asked her what she was going to get, the Girl told her "a sandwich at Subway, because they say '5, 5 dollar, 5 dollar footlong'..." I am thinking that, perhaps, she is sneaking around, watching TV behind our backs. The only thing I can come up with is that it must be when she is at one of the babysitter's houses, because we never watch TV at our house...
Perhaps the Girl learned about the 5 Dollar Footlong song from this statue of Jesus, but I kind of doubt it...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mother-In-Law to the Rescue!

We had a not-entirely-unexpected mishap this morning as we were all trying to get out the door. The Wife was heading off to work, and I was making my best attempt at hauling the two older kids to preschool and dropping the Little One at her grandma's house. We were only a few minutes late, so we were doing pretty well as far as we are concerned. All the kids were securely strapped into their car seats in the van, and the Wife was just about to pull out of the driveway in the car, when it happened: the van wouldn't start. The battery was totally dead.

This has happened a couple of other times this winter, but those times we were able to slip the van in neutral, roll it out of our single lane driveway and into the street, and jump it. Today, for whatever reason, we couldn't switch gears to get it into neutral, so we had to think fast. Thankfully the Wife was still in the driveway, so we unloaded the two older kids and flung them into the car so the Wife could take them to school, and the Little One and I went into the house to wait for grandma to come get us. Normally grandma could have just taken the Little One and left me, but I had some appointments to get to, and I wanted to get a new battery for the van, so I borrowed their SUV. Now that I think about it, their SUV is a lot nicer, or at least cleaner, than our van...maybe I'll just keep it for a few more days...
This is the state that the van was in when the battery went completely dead. The door won't close, but at least it's not raining or snowing. And, it's probably good that we got the door opened, otherwise the kids would still be in there...

This is the SUV my in-laws are letting me borrow for the day. It's much snazzier than our van. I'm thinking maybe the battery is not the only thing wrong with the van...perhaps the johnson rod needs to be replaced, too. That sounds like a 6 day job...



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Should Probably Be Ashamed of Myself...

Noise is something we have gotten used to in our house over the past 5 years. Before that, our house was really pretty quiet, except for the constant ear-ringing din of power tools from all the renovating we did, and the incessant barking by our two annoying and yippy dogs. I suppose there were some times when the Wife and I felt the urge to blare the radio till the cupboards rattled, too, but those times were few and far between.

All that noise paled in comparison to the noise three young children can make. When I look back on it, it probably would be more accurate to say that all that other noise paled in comparison to the noise one young child can make. When you add two more young children, the decibels can be mindblowing.

I should say that our kids aren't always loud. They are good sleepers, for the most part, and rarely do any screaming when they are asleep. And, if Mommy or Daddy have had a particularly rough day, and need some peace and quiet, we sometimes can get the kids to stop shrieking for a few minutes in succession.

The one time that the Wife and I really want them to be quiet is first thing in the morning. Being kids, they have a tendency to wake up before we do. And, being kids, the two older ones, who share a bedroom, tend to want to play. And, being kids, their playing almost always includes taking each others' toys, even though we have told them not to do such a naughty thing as that at least 4 billion times over the courses of their lifetimes. But it still happens every morning, which, in turn, causes the child whose toy was taken to erupt in a fit of overly-dramatic sobbing, which causes either their Mommy or I to wearily trudge into their room and calmly explain that they are being too loud, they woke up Mommy and Daddy, and if they wake up their little sister in the room next to them, Mommy and Daddy will be VERY ANGRY! Sometimes, this threat actually gets them to be quiet for up to 30-35 seconds. Those are some peaceful seconds, I tell you what.

Today, the early morning noise was multiplied by the fact that the kids' cousin, the Cousin, was at our house having a sleepover. She and the two older hooligans had all "slept" in the same bedroom, so they were all in there giggling, laughing, crying and shrieking. Since I was in and out of sleep, I am not sure how many times the Wife had already gone in to tell them to be quiet, but when I finally woke up enough to head in there, I told them that they had two choices: either they could be quiet and stay in their bedroom, or, if not, the only thing I could think of would be to put them in three separate rooms and cover their mouths with duct tape. I had no intention of actually doing that, not only because that would be overly cruel, but also because we don't have any duct tape in the house. It did seem to scare them a little though, since they were quiet for almost a minute. Even though I am slightly ashamed of my devious tactic, I would consider my threat to be a success! A dad has to do what a dad has to do...
I would never put duct tape on my kids' mouths, but seeing this, I might make them all a pair of matching socks with it...



Friday, March 21, 2014

The Development of a Brain, Hanson-Style

Have you ever really sat down and thought about your brain? Or, if not your brain, some other human's brain? Our brains are pretty amazing things. They can, you know, remember stuff, and figure stuff out, and, um, you know, other stuff. No, really, the human brain is the most amazing thing here on God's green Earth, as far as I am concerned. Our brains have a seemingly limitless capacity to store information, and learn new things, and solve problems, and retrieve memories you haven't thought about in 20 years or more. It's pretty wild!

My own brain has the innate ability to remember pretty much every song from the 1980s and who sang it, but can't remember to eat the tub of imitation crab meat in the fridge, despite the Wife reminding me every night for the past two weeks. What's that all about?
Is it weird that, whenever I see a picture of a brain, I get a craving for morel mushrooms...?

Being the owner of three small- to medium-sized children, I have had the great opportunity to watch three very different brains develop in three very different ways over the past 5 years. Our oldest, the Girl, seemed brilliant straight out of the womb, at least in my eyes. Particularly when it came to her speech. I remember going to one of her scheduled doctor visits -she must have been about a year old or so- when the Dr. told us she should be able to speak about 20 words. When we went home and counted all the words she could say, we got well over 200, which of course made me declare we had a Super Baby on our hands.

It also made me think that all of our kids' brains would be like that. Apparently, it doesn't work that way. Who knew that all of our kids would be totally different from each other? What a crazy concept! Both the Boy and the Little One have been more in the "normal" range when it came to their verbal skills.

In fact, the Little One's brain is just now in the process of becoming more fluent in the English language. The good thing is that she has a gameplan on how to become a better talker. She developed this plan all by herself, which shows that her brain is quite capable of brilliance. Somehow she seems to have figured out that practicing her talking will help her to become a better talker, so she can be heard practicing all the time. Her favorite way of practicing is by screaming the word "MOMMY!!!!" over and over at the top of her lungs for at least a half hour before the rest of the household is ready to wake up each morning. She is definitely a proponent of the idea that practice makes perfect. One of these days she is going to be a brilliant linguist. And I guess she'll let us sleep when that finally happens...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Really Should Be Working...

This is what happens when one of my kids has a birthday on my day off from work. I put together silly photo montage videos and record myself singing. Nobody wants that. I fully expect some kind of petition showing up at my door telling me I have to go to work on my kids' birthdays from now on.

Well, even if that happens, it's too late for today, the Little One's 2nd birthday. Watch the video below to see her grow from a surly newborn into a surly 2-year-old, right before your eyes. I apologize, ahead of time, for my singing. Sometimes I have delusions of having a good voice...



Monday, March 17, 2014

The More Things Change, The More Things Change Some More

I have always loved the month of March. Well, maybe not always... I remember very little about my childhood, so my feelings about March when I was, say, 3, are gone forever. But, going back to the days that I do remember, like from the end of elementary school on, I have always had a special place in my heart for the month of March.

Of course, March always means the end of winter, which, in Minnesota, can be the bleakest 8 months of the year. So that's always fun. March also means other things, too. Back when I was but a wee lad, March meant watching the Minnesota State hockey and basketball tournaments on TV with my parents, along with the Final Four in college basketball.

As I grew older, I continued to watch all those tournament games, but I also began to run my own NCAA basketball pool. I would try to coerce anyone I came into contact with to enter my pool, talking up the chance of winning a couple hundred bucks, while secretly hoping they didn't know their North Carolina Tarheels (a perennially good team) from their UC-Irvine Anteaters (not a good team). I ran my pool for something like 20 years, give or take a couple, and always had a great time running it, and an even better time when I occasionally won it.

March also meant the start of the trout season in Wisconsin. Any day that the air temp was over 25 I would try to find some time to sneak across the border and tease some trout. If I wasn't out fishing, I would busily be tying more flies for the next time I got out. I spent a lot of time thinking about trout fishing!

Now, March means something different. Take yesterday for example. It was a beautiful sunny day, the type of day that probably meant the trout were active and hungry. If I had been on a trout stream, I would have slayed them, no doubt about it. Yesterday was also the day that the pairings for the NCAA tourney came out. In past years, I would have been glued to my TV all day, watching all the conference championship games, and then heading off to Kinko's to make copies of the bracket to hand out the next day at work.
This is a totally undoctored photo of the birthday party. 

Instead of those things, I spent yesterday getting ready for, and then helping to host, a birthday party for both the Girl and the Little One. The Girl turned 5 last week, and the Little One turns 2 in a couple of days. It was a busy day, and I didn't even do a fraction of the things the Wife did. I just had to run a couple errands, set the table, and help lay out the design for the birthday cake. Oh, and then mingle with our guests. Of course, I had to help referee any fistfights that broke out between the kids, but that's an every day occurrence, so it's probably not even worth mentioning.

I didn't even have time for my normal Sunday afternoon nap. It was a long, busy day! But through the whole thing, I didn't even think about basketball or fishing. I was having too much fun! It's amazing how things can change...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Half of a Haircut

Things can get pretty crazy around our house. Toys can get left out. Clothes can be strewn about in odd places. Holes can be torn out of walls and/or floors and left uncovered for weeks on end. Dogs can leave "gifts" wherever they deem them to be necessary, whether we think they are necessary or not (they never are). And things can get halfway finished, as in the case of Toby's latest haircut.

If you don't remember, Toby is our annoying but friendly dog, not to be confused with Gromit, our annoying but grumpy dog. Both of the dogs need the occasional haircut, but Toby is the only one friendly enough for us (the Wife) to do it. Gromit is so grumpy about getting his hair cut that we take him in to a professional doggy stylist, and she earns every penny, believe you me.

 The Wife thought it was about time for Toby to get cut, since spring will soon be here, and the actual outside temperature has gone from frigid to just below freezing. That's known as a heat wave here in the Most Inhospitable Place On God's Green Earth, otherwise known as Minnesota. Us native Minnesotans have already started shedding our heavy winter coats and started wearing our bermuda shorts and flip flops, which can be a little slippery on the ice, but we're used to it.

Any way, it was time for Toby to get his haircut, which, despite his rather diminutive size, can take quite a while. The Wife set to work one evening after the kids went to bed, and worked at it hard for a long time, but soon she was to the point of utter exhaustion, and Toby was tired of standing still for such a long time. He was anxious to go leave us a gift in an unknown corner of the house.

So, the Wife called it a night, even though only part of Toby's hair was cut. His head and most of his right side were very cute and short, but his left side still looked like an unshorn sheep. He didn't seem to care. And, with all the craziness going on around our house, the Wife hasn't had a chance to finish it. Toby's been like this for several days now. I am definitely not going to complain, though, because his silliness makes me laugh every time I see him. And you can't put a price on laughter. I'm kind of hoping the Wife leaves him like this forever. Maybe I should pay one of the kids to hide her shearing scissors. No matter where they put something, we can never find it. This sounds like a brilliant plan...
It was pretty much impossible for me to get a good picture of Toby. Either he wouldn't sit still, or I couldn't stop laughing. So, I drew this. It's pretty much exactly what he looks like from the back. He is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Perfect Gift for a 2-Year-Old, Part 2, With Discourse and Little Lines

DISCLAIMER: I actually wrote this post almost two years ago now, right before the Boy was about to turn 2. It is warranted again, though, because the Little One is just a few days away from her second birthday. I have changed words here and there to make things more accurate, and because one of my favorite hobbies is to draw little lines through words.

The Boy's Little Ones' second birthday is in less than two weeks. In most regards, this will be a very joyous occasion, but there's one thing that his her Mommy and I are not really looking forward to. That is the fact that many family members and loved ones will soon be asking us what they should get him her for a present. How are we supposed to know what a 2-year-old wants?!?!

We know for sure that he she likes wooden Thomas trains Jake and the Neverland Pirates, so we have made arrangements for him her to receive Toby and Mavis, which are his two favorite trains in the Thomas series (don't tell him, please) her own pirate ship, to go with the billion two other trains, tracks, bridges, and buildings ships that he and his older sister, the Girl her older siblings already share. Other than that, even though I live with him her, I'm not really sure it's possible to find out exactly what a toddler with limited speaking skills really wants.

We try to limit his her television watching, although he and the Girl all the kids are allowed to watch the occasional video. But they always choose to watch one of the same three 15 DVDs over and over. So he's she's not all that interested in any licensed toy products unless they are Thomas or Bob the Builder Dora or Strawberry Shortcake themed. We have a whole bunch of books that he she loves, and he's she's perfectly happy reading one five books before bedtime, and maybe another one or two eight at some point throughout the day. Seeing that we own enough to fill a library, though, I don't think he she really needs any more.

He She liked doing puzzles for about a day and a half a few months ago, but he she quickly moved on from them, and we have a bunch sitting around the house, not being solved, so he she probably doesn't need any of those, either.

The only thing I can think of that he she will use and be happy with time after time, with little chance that he she will ever get sick of it, is bacon. That kid could eat a pound of bacon every day, if we didn't limit him her to a half a pound. Hey, we need the other half a pound for his her older sister siblings - she they need to eat, too! No, I'm just kidding, we don't feed our two three toddlers a pound of bacon every day. In fact, they usually only get bacon once or twice a week. But they both all eat as much as their Mommy can cook for them on those days that we have it. I think I have finally come up with the perfect gift for him her, at least until he's she's old enough that he she can tell us what he she really wants. If you're reading this, and are going to be celebrating the Boy's Little One's birthday with us next weekend, I will be very disappointed if you don't show up bearing a gift of bacon. Especially after all of this brain-racking I've done to help you out. You're welcome!
Everyone in our house loves bacon, which only proves that we are, in fact, human. I guess that's something.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Photo Opportunity

Last week I announced the winner of our big "It's Time to Name the Baby" contest. If you missed the dramatic video of the announcement, make sure you check it out here. The winning entry, which came from a concerned citizen who also happens to be the Wife, is the Little One, so from now on, assuming I remember to do so, the Baby will now be known as the Little One, here on the ol' blog.

Choosing the Wife as the winning entrant might have been reason for the other contest entrants to revolt, so I decided to throw everyone's name into a hat and give the fabulous prize to whomever I happened to pull out.
That person is Ashlee H. This morning I had the chance to give Ashlee her fabulous prize, and I have photographic proof to back me up. I would say she looked very happy to get it, wouldn't you say?



All I asked is that Ashlee promised not to take her 500 cent gift card and buy up a bunch of pseudoephedrine to start a methamphetamine empire. She agreed, so we were good to go. Keep your eyes open for our next big contest. You never know, the next prize might even be more fabulous than this one was...if that's possible!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Week of Firsts

If you haven't heard, the Baby has a new name, at least as far as this blog is concerned. We ran a big ol' contest here on the blog, with an actual prize and rules that were kind of thought out beforehand and everything. It was quite the well-run production if I do say so myself. If I happen to get sued over it at a later date I may change my opinion of the whole thing. But, so far, I would say it was a huge success.

So, the Baby will now be known as the Little One, provided that I remember to use that new name. As the Wife will willingly attest, sometimes my brain doesn't work all that well, so the Baby might slip into a blog here or there over the next few years, but eventually I should remember to use "the Little One" all the time. Wish me luck.

A new name is not the only new thing that's happened around here lately, though. The Little One has also thrown up for the very first time, and last night she was admitted into the hospital for the very first time. The doctors seem to think she might have pneumonia, or possibly RSV, or maybe the flu. Whatever it is, her oxygen levels are low, so they are keeping her in for at least another night to watch her. The Wife and I are wondering if maybe her oxygen levels have always been low, and that's why she's been ornery from Day One... That would explain some things! Hopefully she can get out soon. The Wife and I are not really looking forward to another night on the tiny pull-out sofa in her hospital room, but neither of us want to leave, either.
This is the approximate size of the "bed" the Wife and I are sleeping on in the Little One's hospital room. I am not trying to complain, I just want to clarify...

One nice thing about being in the hospital is that they have an awesome electronic "library" type system, in which they let patients and their families check out various electronic gadgets to play with in their rooms. This is my first ever blog post that I've written on an iPad, so that's pretty cool. Maybe if I write another couple hundred posts on one of these things I will get used to the strange "keyboard". On second thought, I think I'd rather get the Little One feeling better so I can go home and use my laptop. Sounds like a plan to me!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Bloggie Awards!!!!

Oh my goodness, I can hardly contain my excitement. Chaotic Kids & Clutter is one of 5 finalists for the Best Kept Secret Weblog at this year's Bloggie Awards! I think that means that this blog is one of the 5 best blogs in the whole world that nobody reads. Whatever the case, I am super excited about being a finalist! Please, please, please head right over to http://2014.bloggi.es/, look over all 5 of the finalists for this category, and vote for the one you think is best. Of course, if you are a true friend your choice will be Chaotic Kids & Clutter, but don't let that determine how you actually vote...unless you are OK having one less friend... :)