Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Chaotic Christmas

I guess you could say any Christmas around here is a "Chaotic" Christmas, but this year's really was. As I wrote in my last post, we didn't actually celebrate on Christmas day. Instead, we drove 650 miles from home that day, in order to get to where the Wife's family was going to be celebrating. It was a momentous occasion, because everyone from that side of the family was going to be at the celebration, coming from all corners of the U.S.A. to Northeast Oklahoma. Nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins were all going to be in town, and that might not happen again for a long time, as kids grow up, move away and start their own families. It was a fun, but chaotic time, getting all those people together for a few days.

We made the celebration even more exciting by bringing something other than plain old presents with us on the long journey. We brought a fun, fast-moving version of the norovirus with us. Doesn't that sound like fun?! Actually, to be honest, and I am nothing if not brutally honest, I think the blame can lay squarely on the shoulders of the Wife's mom, since we had all gotten over our symptoms at least a day or two before we left. The Wife's mom, however, seems to have brought her symptoms with her. "Always blame others" is one of my favorite personal mottoes... While we were there no fewer than 8 of our relatives from other parts of the country got sick. In other words, we as a family may have single-handedly spread the norovirus across the entire country. No need to send thanks!

Thankfully it is a very quick to arrive, quick to leave kind of sickness, so if you get it, it shouldn't keep you off your feet for long. Just to be sure, though, I wouldn't go anywhere without a bucket for the next few days. Happy New Year!
A photo of the norovirus. It's really kind of pretty, don't you think?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

I've Made A Huge Mistake...

We need your help, ladies and gentlemens. We made a huge mistake last Christmas. At the time we had a paltry three kids, and apparently we made the foolish mistake of thinking we weren't going to have any more. So, we went to our friendly neighborhood major retail store, otherwise known as Target, and purchased three super-cute matching Christmas stockings. Now, as you may have heard, we have a bustling four children, but when we have gone back to Target to get another Christmas stocking for the Baby, we have been totally unable to find another. So, we are asking for help in rounding out our collection of stockings. Below is a photo of the three we already have. The two red ones are for our first two girls, so since our latest child is also a girl, we would like to get another one of them. If you happen to see one in your local Target, we will be happy to reimburse your money, all the way up to full retail price...Let me know if you find one. And Merry Christmas, again!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Baby's First Christmas

The Baby celebrated her first Christmas today, or more accurately, I should probably say that the Baby was alive for her first Christmas today. We didn't really do any celebrating of any kind. The celebrating will come later. Today, instead of celebrating, the Baby was rudely awakened at a time that was clearly too early for her liking, strapped into her car seat in our Standard Issue grey minivan that everyone with at least two kids is required to own, and accelerated at high speeds for a distance of almost 700 miles, where she was then squeezed and tweaked and passed around by relatives who had never met her before. Yes, we did some long-distance traveling today - the first time we had ever done such a thing on Christmas day. I enjoyed it very much. There wasn't much traffic. The kids were all relatively good. I didn't do anything to make the Wife too upset. It was about as good as a cross-country trip with four young children can go. I'm sure the return trip will have its fair share of controversies, but today, the Baby's first Christmas went quite well. Merry Christmas everybody!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Bed and a Bucket

I am not really sure how it can happen, but I have seen it twice with my own eyes in the past two or three years, and my eyes have never lied to me before, so it must be true. My brain sometime tells me a fib, but since it happened just last night, I think it is fresh enough for me to be quite sure that my brain is being truthful for once in its life.

Here's what happened: It was the middle of the night, and the Wife was up on one of her many excursions into the Baby's room to give her a snack. Upon the Wife's return to our room, she noticed the door was open to the bedroom that our other three kids sleep in. She also noticed a gross smell emanating from it, much like that of human regurgitation, if you know what I mean. A third thing she noticed was the Boy, coming out of the bathroom across the hall. Since the other two cohabitants of that bedroom were still asleep, she asked the Boy if he had gotten sick in his bed. "No. I just had to go to the bathroom", he said. When the Wife went into the room to investigate, she did in fact find "sickness" all over the Boy's bed, covering his several blankets, most of his stuffed animals, and all over his pillow. Yet he had no recollection of being sick. I wouldn't have believed it was possible, but I remember one night a couple of years ago when we found the Little One, sound asleep in her crib one morning, surrounded by sickness that had happened at some point during the night. What a crazy thing to sleep through...

So, the Boy was feeling quite a bit better tonight, but we still made him go to sleep with a bucket in his bed, just in case. But, knowing our kids, even if he does get sick again, he'll probably sleep right through it. If that happens again at least we won't have to wash out the bucket tomorrow...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Yes, Dear...

I just found yet another reason why it is always good for me to listen to the Wife. It's a bitterly cold day here in the Northland, and my main goal for the day was to stay inside and sit in front of the space heater we have in our TV/computer/dining room. The three older kids were already at their Aunt and Uncle's house, and the Wife was going to take the Baby out to do some Christmas shopping. So my plan to do nothing seemed like a slam-dunk. But then, right before the Wife left, she said, "Maybe you could pick up some of the dog poop...". Ugh.

But, of course, how could I say no to the woman who has birthed all four of our children? So, eventually, I went outside to pick up some dog poop, which there was plenty of. You know what? I'm really glad I did! With enough clothing and my heavy winter coat, it wasn't too cold out there. And the poop was nice and frozen, meaning it picked up nicely, and didn't have any lingering oderifousness, if you know what I mean. I got the whole yard picked up in about 15 minutes, I got some sunshine to help defeat the Shack Nasties that are bound to hit during the dead of winter, I had a nice talk with our next door neighbor, and now the yard will be just that much less nasty next spring. What could be better? Nothing! Always listen to the Wife...

Friday, December 18, 2015

Opposite Boy

The Boy has the uncanny ability to do exactly the opposite of what I ask him to do. As you can imagine, I am not a huge fan of this skill. It usually manifests itself either first thing in the morning, or when we are in the minivan. If you are not aware of how life can go when you have an infant in the house, like we do, sometimes nighttime does not bring as much sleep as one would hope, so oftentimes there are one or several people in our house still trying to get some shut-eye when the Boy decides it's time to get up and be loud. This is one of the few times in his life when he forgets how to be quiet, no matter how much "prodding" I do to help him remember. Sometimes my "prodding" can get rather loud itself, but it doesn't come close to the decibels the Boy can make. In the early mornings, he can definitely crank his volume up to 11.
The way he reacts during those mornings when people are sleeping is the exact opposite of how he reacts when he is in the back of the minivan, trying to talk to me while I am in the front of said minivan, doing my best to get us safely to our destination. During those times he cannot seem to muster anything louder than 'whisper". If you've never driven a 15-year-old minivan, it is just a little too loud to be able to hear a whisper coming from the far back seat. So, my part of our conversations are almost entirely made up of me saying "I CAN'T HEAR YOU. YOU NEED TO SPEAK UP, PLEASE." And he continues to say "mrmble mrmble mrfff mrff" as quietly as he can. One of these years, hopefully, he will get his early mornings and his rides in the minivan switched up. If you have any clue on how we can help to expedite that, I will welcome your thoughts. Thank you.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Our Apologies...

If you have lost count, like I do sometimes, we currently have four children, three of which are in school. The Girl is in 1st Grade, the Boy is in Kindergarten, and the Little One is in Preschool two days a week and Speech Class two days a week. And none of them ever ride the same bus. Which means, at this time of year, we have approximately 4,000 teachers, aides, and bus drivers to buy Christmas presents for. I don't want to make it sound like I am complaining about that. Really! I think they all do an outstanding job of teaching our kids, expanding their horizons, and giving the Wife and me from 4 to 8 hours of silence everyday (although now that we have the Baby in the house, the Wife gets almost no silence...Sorry honey!) And I am happy to give all these people a little something for Christmas. I just want to send out an apology to anybody we may have forgotten to get something for. With all these schools and buses and other learning-related activities, I am sure we have forgotten someone. So, if we forgot you, and you happen to be reading this, please accept our apologies. We will try to do better next year, but we probably won't, so I apologize for that too.

For some unknown reason, all this thinking about getting teachers gifts has brought up a nagging question that has lurked in my brain for decades, yet I always forget to ask...Are you supposed to leave a tip at a Chinese buffet? I mean, I get all my food, but there are servers who clean up after me and bring me my pop as soon as my glass is empty. Am I supposed to tip them? How about when I pick up take-out food? I never know what the proper thing to do is. Please, somebody let me know! And, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Photos of the Fourth

We are very cognizant of the fact that the fourth child, historically, never gets his or her photograph taken. Despite knowing that, we had been pretty bad about taking photos of our fourth child, the Baby, over the first two weeks of her air-breathing existence. But I decided to change that tonight. She was being very awake this evening whilst in my arms, and her big blue eyes were mesmerizing me. So, I decided to get some photographic evidence of them, as well as some artistic shots of her, since I fancy myself to be a very artistic non-artistic kind of guy, whatever that means. So, without further ado, I present my second-ever art show here on the ol' blog, and I am calling it Photos of the Fourth. Here it is:

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ten Days

The Baby is 10 days old today. It's weird to think that, for the previous 3-and-a-half years, our little family of 5 was as perfect a group as we could possibly hope for despite the way I write about it here on the ol' blog, and yet now that we've added another, it somehow seems even more perfect. But perfect is perfect, right? There aren't differing grades of perfect, yet that's what seems to have happened when we turned from 5 into 6. I can't describe it any better, and I don't really want to get all mushy and ruin my reputation as a burly man, so I'll just let it go at that.

In other things, life around the house has gotten at least one fifth more chaotic than it used to be, as you can probably understand. At first the Baby was sleeping very well at night, or at least that's what I was told when I woke up in the mornings, but lately she's been sleeping better during the day than at night. Again, I can't actually vouch for that myself, but my source is very reliable, despite her choice in men. She (the Baby) better figure it out quickly, I tell you what!

The rest of the kids seem to have accepted the Baby as a full-fledged member of the family, although we'll see if that changes once she's mobile and verbal. It's the mobile and verbal kids who can get under their sibling's skin the most, I have figured out. And the Wife says I don't notice things...
The Baby, sleeping like the proverbial baby, and she's got her clothes on, so this is obviously during the day instead of at night. She better figure out her days and nights soon, or there's gonna be trouble...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

5+1=6, If My Math Is Correct...

Well, we had a fun weekend around the CK&C worldwide headquarters, otherwise known as our house. First, on Saturday, we brought home a beautiful, brand new, shiny toilet for our master bathroom. It is super nice, especially at 2AM when I have to pee but don't want to move more than ten feet in the round trip back to bed. Now that I am well over 41 years old, that trip takes place more often than I would care to admit...

On Sunday we had an even better day than Saturday, if you can believe that. The Wife and I got up super early and went off to one of our local hospitals, where we had an appointment for the Wife to get induced so that our fourth child would FINALLY COME OUT!!! Those were the Wife's words, or a fairly good representation of them.

After what seemed like an eternity, the Baby finally came out about 7:30PM, joining us other air-breathers here on God's Green Earth, and changing us from a family of 5 to a family of 6. The Wife wowed everyone with her uncanny ability to have yet another child without the help of any pain meds, and hardly as much as wincing during the process. I again wowed everyone with my uncanny ability to blubber like a baby whilst holding my child for the first time. The Wife and I are a perfect pair!

Yup, it's been an eventful weekend here at the ol' blog. I wonder what kind of craziness next weekend will bring...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Life In The Hospital

Well, we are in the hospital, waiting for the Fetus to become the Baby. Our other three kids, the Girl, the Boy, and the Little One, each arrived in this beautiful world of ours faster than the previous one, with the Little One taking a total of 2-and-a-half hours from the beginning of contractions to the moment of squirting out (that's the actual medical terminology). So we were expecting this fourth one to arrive during a commercial break so we could get back to watching the football game. But, apparently she and/or God had different plans...

We have been sitting here for eleven hours now, and still no baby. Both the Wife and I are beside ourselves. We don't know what to do. We have watched countless football games, and there's only one more to watch today. What will we do if that game ends and we still don't have a fresh new baby to oooh and ahhhh over? Oh well, I guess there's another game tomorrow night, huh? I guess we can watch that one. Go Team!!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Real Time

I was going to title this post "Having a Baby in Real Time", but if I went with that, knowing me, my descriptions of things might get a little too graphic for most people, so I decided to just change it to "Real Time". That's a little more vague, and will allow me to divert from whatever my initial intentions were without anyone knowing. If you haven't noticed before, my main goal with this blog is to take you in random directions on a whim without you even realizing it. I think I am doing a pretty good job at that, wouldn't you say? Or am I......?

Well, now that I got that seemingly insane paragraph out of my system, let's move on to what's actually going on around here: the whole family is working feverishly to get ready to bring another baby into the house. As of right now, we have exactly 11 days until the due date, but signs are pointing to it happening earlier than that. The most obvious sign is when the Wife looks down at her swollen tummy and yells "YOU NEED TO COME OUT RIGHT NOW!!!!" I guess the Wife is getting a little tired of being pregnant...

So, we have been trying to get stuff ready. What is probably most important is making room for the crib. Despite the fact that we will soon have 4 children, we usually haven't used a crib of our own; most of the time we have borrowed one from our good friends, and we are doing that again for this fourth child. We picked it up last night, and the Wife and the Boy got it put together and in place in no time. I helped out by handing them screws and springs as needed, and generally just staying out of their way. The Boy showed natural aptitude at using tools and screwing things in nice and tight. He must get that from his mom, who is quite handy. I have learned how to use quite a few tools over the years, but I wouldn't say any of that knowledge ever came naturally... Instead of a handyman, I would be considered more of an elbowyman. But, I can get things built, or taken apart, given enough time and bandages.

What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, we're having a baby in eleven days or so... I better get back to getting things ready.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Brain Freeze and Other Myths

Brain freeze is a myth...
Everywhere I go I hear people talking about brain-freeze, which is some kind of alleged headache they get when they eat their ice cream too fast. Personally, I have no idea what they are talking about. I can eat ice cream as fast as my two grubby hands can shovel it into my gigantic cavernous mouth, and I have never once gotten a headache from it. I declare that this so-called brain-freeze phenomenon is hogwash.

One of my favorite hobbies is to go through the drive-thru at Culver's, which, for those of you who might be unaware, is home of the "Butterburger". Culver's is also home to some of the finest frozen custard on God's green Earth. Frozen custard is a lot like ice cream, only it's different in some way that remains a secret. When I go through the drive-thru at Culver's, I usually order a mushroom & Swiss Butterburger, along with fries, a pop, and a scoop or two of chocolate frozen custard. When I get up to the window, right after taking a large amount of my hard-earned money, the friendly Culver's employee usually hands me my pop, an order tag with a number on it, and my scoop or two of chocolate frozen custard. Then I drive up to wait for them to bring the rest of my food to me. Most people would probably take a bite or two of their custard, and then put it aside to wait until after they eat their burger and fries. Not me. I immediately shoot off a mythical gun that starts an imagined race I have with the Culver's employee. My goal is to have all that yummy custard devoured by the time they bring me my burger and fries. So far I have a record of 5,694-0. And not a single episode of brain freeze during my winning streak.

You guys and your silly brain freeze. I don't know where you come up with this stuff!


Monday, November 9, 2015

Basement Find

We found this lapel pin in a box of generic stuff in my parents' basement this summer. I think it's a good fit for this blog...

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hair, Hair, Long Annoying Hair

Knowing what is going on in my life, you probably thought my next blog post was going to be about babies, or spit-up, or diapers, or how I am running out of time to get our bathroom finished before the baby pops out. But no. I am going to write about hair. The hair that I know the most about. My hair. Please don't stop reading yet...

I would say my hair is interesting, at best. The one redeeming feature of my hair is that it is soft. Really soft. I'm talking like baby bunny who sleeps in a vat of conditioner kind of soft. I am thinking about calling the Guiness Book of World Records so they can verify that it is the softest hair in the History of Man. If you haven't had the good fortune of feeling my hair, make sure you do some time. I am happy to let you. Perhaps too happy...

Other than the softness, though, my hair is kind of terrible, or at least annoying. For one thing, it grows way too fast. As soon as I get out of the barber chair I need another haircut. I should probably make several appointments at once, spaced a few days apart at most. That's easier said than done, though, since my barber's appointment book gets filled up so quickly with making lunches, driving the kids around and having babies.

I could just let my hair grow, but when my hair gets longer than about 1/2" I start to get the blues. Instead of my normal, short-haired, bubbly self, I mope around the house like a sad extra-hairy sasquatch. I don't feel like my normal self, that's for sure. And who wants a sad, mopey sasquatch walking around the house? Nobody in this family, that's for sure. We all like Daddy best when his hair gets cut.

I also don't like the fact that my hair doesn't really do anything except grow straight out at a 90 degree angle from my scalp. It doesn't lay down. It doesn't flow. There is no waviness. It just grows. Straight. As can be. It's the worst. But it is soft. You should feel it some time...
As you can see from the "Before and After" photo, on the left I am listless and mopey, and I have long hair. On the right I am devious, bubbly, and full of cunning and guile, and my hair has been cut. Coincidence? I think not...

Sunday, October 25, 2015

It's The Final Countdown...

One month. 31 days. 744 hours. 44,640 minutes. That's all the time we have until the due date of our 4th child, otherwise known as the Fetus. One month until our house becomes even more chaotic. One month until we get even less sleep than we already do. One month to remember all of the stuff about babies that I have forgotten in the past 3-and-a-half years. One month to figure out where in the house we are actually going to have her sleep. In one of the other kids' room? In the living room? Definitely not in our room...

One month to finish renovating the master bathroom. One month to do all the other stuff on my Scotty-do list. One month to get all of the baby stuff out of storage and filled with batteries. One month to figure out where we stored all our bottles. One month to practice my diapering skills so I can quickly get back to my state-record level of speed. One month to stock up on diapers, and wet wipes. One month to teach the other kids to go get a diaper or the wet wipes on command, and not to lolly-gag while doing it, like they do whenever I ask them to do anything else. One month to figure out where we are going to store all of the baby clothes. One month to practice our swaddling techniques on the dogs. One month to decide if we want to unswaddle the dogs once they are swaddled (it will depend on the day and how annoying they have been...).

One month to find a new diaper bag, since the old one pretty much disintegrated when we retired it after our third, and what we thought was going to be our last, child. One month to buy a new SD card for our camera so we can take lots of photos. One month to empty that new SD card since the Girl will have filled it up with photos of the dogs' butts and other garbled images. One month to find all the bases for the baby car seat, oh and the car seat, too... we'll need that. One month to practice our breathing exercises so that they actually help and not just put me to sleep like they did when the Girl was born. One month to strengthen my hands so the Wife doesn't crush them during labor.

One month to choose a name. That's probably going to be the most difficult of all. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ice Age

Last week was what is known around these parts as "M.E.A. Weekend". I don't think anyone actually knows what "M.E.A." stands for, but we do all know that it always happens towards the middle of October, all the public-school kids in the state get that Thursday and Friday off from school, and that it is probably the last time to do anything meaningful as a family outdoors before the frigid and horrible Minnesota winter sinks its evil fangs into us all for the next 9 months.

Being the crazy folks that we are, we decided to make good use of the weekend by loading up all of our kids and most of their stuff, hitching the pop-up camper to the back of the minivan, and heading out into the Great Outdoors for one last camping trip as a family of five. First we thought about heading up into the northern part of the state to check out the headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi River at Itasca State Park, but when we checked to see if they had any open campsites available, we found out that most of the people in Minnesota had the same idea as us. So we checked at other state parks. Same thing. Finally we checked at a county park on the east side of the Twin Cities, the Lake Elmo Park Reserve. Apparently we were the first people to think of that park, because the nice lady on the phone said we could pretty much have our pick of any of their campsites. Hooray, a place to go!

The weather up here in the northland has been super nice this fall - unseasonably warm, very little rain, the leaves have been gorgeous. We were super excited to get outside and enjoy things for a couple of days. When we got to the park that Thursday, the sun was shining like it has been, but the wind had started to pick up, bringing a chill with it. That was OK, since we remembered to bring our jackets with us. By bedtime that night, the chill had gotten chillier, and the wind continued to blow, with a few howls thrown in for good measure.

We decided to try out the furnace in the camper, which fired right up and made everything inside toasty warm. I could get used to this type of camping! We settled in for a long, peaceful night. The next day got colder and windier. We went for a short hike, but otherwise we pretty much stayed around our campsite, playing games inside the camper, sitting outside by the fire, chipping the ice off of our eyelids, things like that. We were having a great time. And then it happened - the tank of propane on the camper went dry! Ahh, no more heat from the furnace! What would we do?!?! Thankfully we brought a little electric space heater with, which was able to keep us from freezing to death, barely...I decided there was only one thing to do: I drove the 4 minutes to the nearest gas station and got another tank of propane. It feels good to be such a capable provider for my family. I'm sure that's what Charles Ingalls felt like, too...
We found this crudely drawn face scratched into the ice on our windshield the last morning of our camping trip. Apparently one of our fellow campers, or the local sasquatch, is a fan of the blog...

Monday, October 12, 2015

Let's Rewind...

Remember my last blog post, where I wrote about being all sad and depressed because my family had left me and how I couldn't wait for them to come home and how all I was going to do while they were gone was sit around and eat pizzas and ice cream and how I was wallowing in self pity? I would like to redact that blog from the records and possibly even have it expunged, if anyone can actually tell me what "expunge" means...

Everyone got home safe and sound last night, and it was very exciting to see them all. We hugged, we gave high fives, we laughed... It was a very nice evening having everyone home.

Then, this morning happened. I woke up to much wailing and gnashing of teeth being performed by the Little One. Apparently she felt as though she had been wronged by one of her siblings. Things escalated from there. Both the wailing and the gnashing were multiplied at least a hundredfold, and moved from one child to the next to the next, and finally to Daddy. It was a rough morning for everyone involved, but finally they all got on their respective buses and headed off to school, most of them with tears and/or frowns still on their faces. I, now, am safe and sound, fully ensconced in my office at work, eating pizzas and ice cream. I wonder when their next weekend road trip will be...

Friday, October 9, 2015

Baching It, or Batching It, or However You Spell That...

My family left me. I am all alone. Mine is a sad and lonely life right now. All I can do is mope around the house in my underwear, trying not to cry into my tub of ice cream. I can tell the dogs feel sorry for me by the way they stand at the door, waiting for somebody, anybody, else to come home. That's OK. I don't need my dumb dogs to keep me company. I'll just curl up on the sofa and eat as many frozen pizzas as I can cram into my mouth. Pizzas are more loyal than dogs, any way...

Yup, everyone left. The Wife left, and she took with her the Girl, the Boy, the Little One, and the Fetus. They sped off in the Sister-in-law's car, and the Sister-in-law was behind the wheel at the time, so maybe I should blame her for my sadness. She took my family away...

If I still drank, I would probably be wallowing in beer right now, even though it's currently 9:33 in the AM as I am writing this. Since I don't drink any more, I'll just keep wallowing in ice cream and pizza and self pity. As George Costanza once said, "Pity is highly underrated", and I'll add "Self pity is just as good as other pity". I wonder how much ice cream and pizza I can eat in the next two days, you know, before they all come home from their weekend trip...
This is what happens to me when my family leaves. I sit around and get all depressed, my hair grows out, my glasses revert back to the 1990s, and I lose about 60 pounds despite cramming pizza and ice cream into my mouth all day. It's not a pretty sight...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Daughter, the Queen

I wasn't sure whether I should write about this or not. It's exciting, especially for my daughter, the Girl, but I don't want to be labeled as one of those parents who focuses only on physical appearances while ignoring the more important parts of child-rearing. I surely don't want to become one of those insane parents on the TV show Toddlers & Tiaras, not that I've ever watched that show....

We got some fun news on Friday. Apparently there was a great big rally at the Girl's elementary school with lots of excited kids and what I would assume to be agitated teachers. I would have been agitated, any way. I think they were trying to build school spirit and get the kids enthusiastic about the school year. Part of the rally was a type of pageant-type thingy, where they crowned royalty for each grade. Lo and behold, the Girl was crowned Queen of the First Grade! How exciting!

She has taken her newfound label of Queen and run with it. And maybe it's gone to her head a little
bit, too. Her first order of business when she got home was to have her younger siblings "knighted". I don't think any of them knew what that meant, though, because they all just pretended it was nighttime and they went and laid down for a while.

Later the Queen tried to get our two annoying dogs to do some tricks. When they wouldn't, the Queen yelled "Off with their heads!" Even though they are annoying, I didn't want that fate to befall the poor mutts, so I quickly shooed them outside.

This is not the type of Queen I am talking about...
At bedtime the Queen asked how long it would take to build a moat around her bedroom to keep the "hooligans" out. I wasn't exactly sure who she was talking about, but it very well could have been me, so I told her to cool it for a little while, and that maybe she should just go back to being the Girl, and not the Queen. She put down her tea and crumpets, looked up at me with her big blue eyes, and said "Yeah, maybe you're right, Daddy. Being a Queen isn't all it's cracked up to be any way. I think next year I will try to win Prime Minister of the Second Grade..." That's my girl!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Wedding Food Review - The Heights. And Other Stuff...

I haven't written on here in a long time. It might be the longest hiatus I have taken since I started writing the ol' blog. It wasn't a planned hiatus. I guess I just haven't had the inclination to write anything recently. I probably could use the excuse that I've been too busy, but if I feel like writing I always find the time. Like now. Now I feel like writing. So I better get started...

We went to a super fun wedding the other night. It was the wedding of some family friends named Trisha & Max. The wedding was very nice, the bride and groom were filled with bliss, all of our kids had fun dancing, there is a fairly good chance they were exposed to foot-and-mouth disease, and the food was excellent, which of course is what I am going to write about.

The reception was at the famed and historic Murzyn Hall in Columbia Heights, a suburb of Minneapolis. I am not sure if the food was catered by a restaurant or caterer or what, but it was delicious. First up was a yummy salad with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I don't eat raspberry dressing very often, but when I do I always like it... Some roasted red potatoes followed, along with two meat options: pork with a yummy gravy on it, or a lovely chicken breast in some kind of creamy sauce. Some brave souls took some of each option, and let me tell you, they weren't disappointed. Both the pork and chicken was delicious, but I would give a slight nod to the chicken, which some people ate copious amounts of. I have it under good authority that the people who did eat copious amounts left Murzyn Hall very satisfied.

In other news, we are getting some work done on our master bathroom. We had a leak in the shower, so of course we ripped out everything in the whole bathroom and started over. The walls are almost all framed in, some of the concrete board has been installed, and we have picked out some of the fixtures. We hope to have it completed by the time Baby #4 arrives towards the end of November. I think that should happen, no problem.

Speaking of Baby #4, the Wife is doing as well as can be expected being 7 months pregnant. She is suffering from fairly regular heartburn, she can't get comfortable in bed, and she is not quite as nimble as she usually is. One good thing is that we are having fun watching the Baby move around in her tummy most nights. Sometimes the Baby gets herself contorted in a position that seems to cause the Wife to be in a bit of discomfort, but that usually doesn't last too long. One time, when the Wife and I were talking about her abdominal unease, I told her that I knew what she was going through, since I had just eaten an entire can of black beans for lunch. That went over about as well as you would expect.

So anyways, now you're all caught up on our lives. I'll try to update the ol' blog more often from now on. I'm sure you can't wait...

Monday, September 14, 2015

Squeaky The Wonder Cat and her Log

When I was a wee lad we had cats. Sometimes just one, sometimes a whole mess of 'em. The first cat we got was named Squeaky. She joined our family when I was four. She was about 2 at the time, or at least that's what the guy who gave her to us told us. If that was true, and let's assume that it was, that means she lived to a ripe old age of 21. She was a fine cat, that Squeaky, despite the hundreds of times her claws perforated my skin over the years. I can't remember a single scratch I didn't deserve...

Yup, Squeaky was one of the best cats anyone could hope for. Sure, she was aloof, like cats are, but there were signs that she actually liked us, like when she would bring us dead mice or birds or moles. She usually would drop them at the door, after only gnawing on them for a little bit, so we assumed that she was giving them to us as gifts. What a cat! One time, when we were on vacation, she broke out of our basement via a window in one of the window sills, hunted down a robin in the backyard, then climbed back into the basement the way she came, and had the robin at the foot of the basement stairs for us when we came home. Sure, it wasn't the most fun thing to come home to, but it's the thought that counts. Right?

When we first got Squeaky, our backyard wasn't fenced in, and since Squeaky had been an outside cat at her previous residence, my dad thought we better do something to prevent her from running away. Thus was born what may be the only cat-log in the history of mankind. My dad found a harness that had two straps that went around Squeaky's body, then he stapled the handle end of the leash to a log he found that was about 6 inches in diameter and maybe 15 inches long. We would strap Squeaky to her log and she dragged that thing all around the yard. A couple of time she even climbed a tree with her log in tow, trying to catch birds. I'm not quite sure what our neighbors thought about our cat and her log, but I do remember that kids who came to play at our house were often awe-struck by the whole contraption. I just figured everybody had a cat who dragged logs around. I couldn't figure out what the big deal was.

Eventually my parents fenced in our backyard, so none of our other cats needed to use the log. And, eventually, Squeaky, and all of our other cats, did what every living creature does: they died. I figured my dad had probably unstapled the leash from her log and burned the thing in our wood-burning stove years ago, but we found the crazy old thing in the bowels of my parents' house when we were cleaning it out recently. The log was worn smooth from years of being dragged around, and the old ratty leash was still stapled to it. I don't think anything else we found in the house brought us all as much enjoyment as seeing that old log. Good ol' Squeaky...She was a fine cat, that's for sure.
From left to right: My sister; Squeaky; Me. Furniture wasn't as fashionable, and things weren't quite as politically-correct back then, as witnessed by the fact that we were all dressed as Native Americans. As you can imagine, Squeaky really loved it when we dressed her up. That's where most of my scratches came from...

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Run For the Border

It all started exactly seven years ago today. At that point in time our family was just me and the Wife. Oh, and our two annoying dogs. We had recently found out that the Wife was pregnant, so we knew life was going to change, but we didn't realize how much change there would ultimately be over the next seven years. If there's one thing I've learned over and over and over and over again in the last seven years, it's that life is full of change...

So any way, back to the story. Like I said, it was seven years ago. We were gonna have a baby in a few months, and we were as excited as could be. I was probably also a little nervous, you know, since I had never changed a diaper before, but I wouldn't have to confront that fear for a while. I also knew, maybe by instinct, that my pregnant wife should be pampered as much as could be. She was carrying my baby, after all, and my job in the whole process of "creating life" was pretty much done, so the least I could do was try to take some of the burdens off the Wife while our baby developed in her tum-tum. ("Tum-tum" is what all expectant dads call the uterus. Just to be clear...)

One way to do that seemed obvious to me. I needed to keep the Wife fed. Pretty much every TV show I had ever watched that featured a pregnant character taught me that pregnant women can have cravings for any known food at any time of the day or night. The concept of eating copious amounts of food at any time of day seemed natural to me. I had been doing that for as long as I could remember. So I made the Wife an offer I thought she wouldn't be able to refuse. I told her that at any point during her pregnancy, even at 3AM, I would happily go and get the both of us some tacos from our favorite local taco establishment, which rhymes with "Snocko Shell", if she had even just the smallest pangs of a craving. I thought that I was being a real fine husband to offer something like that, and I figured she would probably take me up on it, perhaps that very night.

But, here we are, more than two thirds of the way through our 4th pregnancy, and she still hasn't taken me up on it. Can you believe it?!?! What is going on? She is on her 34th month of being pregnant in the past seven years, and not once in those 34 months has she been craving a taco? I have been craving tacos the entire time...why won't she let me go get me, I mean her, some tacos?!?!

If you are a close personal friend of the Wife, I urge you to send her a note. Tell her to take me up on this amazing offer. Remind her that there is a very good, although probably not 100% chance, knowing us, that she will never be pregnant again. This might be the last couple of months that this offer will ever be on the table. And I really want some tacos! I want to make a run for the border! And I promise I will remember the hot sauce this time...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Time to Hose Off Your Flip-Flops!

I detest twirling, I spaz out at spinning, and I regurgitate at the thought of rotating. Yes, I do not do well at going round-and-round, since I get dizzy just thinking about it. I don't even like to watch other people going round-and-round. When the kids ask me to play Ring Around the Rosy, I get about half way around the circle before I do a preemptive "falling down", thereby keeping myself from getting physically ill all over the kids' flip-flops. For some reason they haven't asked me to play Ring Around the Rosy for a long time...

I am telling you all this to make my actions from the other day seem even more heroic than they really were, which is always a good enough reason as far as I'm concerned. We were at the Great Minnesota Get Together, otherwise known as the State Fair, the biggest conglomeration of weird people in the Upper Midwest, if you don't include the state of Iowa (Just kidding to all my Iowa fans! I only tease you all because I know you can take it! I hope...). We were in the Kidway, which is a small area filled with rides made for young kids, aged 8 and under. Since we had already spent an enormous amount of money on all variations of fried food on a stick, we only bought so many tickets for our kids to use on the rides. Thankfully none of our kids got their dad's queeziness gene, so they all were eager to go.

Then it happened. The Little One wanted to go on the merry-go-round, which has been a staple in all of our kids' lives since they were little. I have never minded, because I always get a front row seat with my butt firmly planted on solid ground while the Wife gets on the merry-go-round with the kids. That was going to be the scenario this time, too, until the ride attendant rudely told the Wife that she was too pregnant to get on. The nerve of some people! The Wife hadn't even told him she was pregnant! Isn't it rude to assume something like that?

Since we were unable to conceal the baby any longer, I decided it was time for me to step up to the plate. Time to strap on my boots and hitch up my britches, if that's a saying. And it was time to find a barf bag, you know, just in case. Because it was time for me to climb aboard that merry-go-round and do what a daddy is supposed to do: whatever it takes to keep my child from throwing a tantrum at the State Fair. It worked.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Backyard Safari

*My apologies to Patrick MacManus, since I stole the title for this post from one of his short humor stories. Hopefully he will never see this, so I won't have to worry about being sued. If you know Mr. MacManus, please keep this under wraps. K, thanks!*

I think every child should go camping in their backyard at an early age. My kids - the Girl, the Boy, and the Little One - just had their first foray into backyard camping, and it was a blast. I, also, had my first foray into backyard camping at the same time. I don't mean to say that my first backyard camping trip happened when I was my kids' age. No, I mean that my first backyard camping trip was just a couple of days ago, with my kids! I thought it was a blast, too!

Our backyard trip had all the fun of a regular camping trip, without the bears. We had a roaring fire which we used to roast both hot dogs and s'mores. The four of us ate an entire can of baked beans, and then heard about it the rest of the night. We sat around in our camp chairs watching the fire until all hours ("all hours" means about 9:30PM to a 3-, 5-, 6-, and 41-year-old). One of us even had a fitful night of sleep because he didn't notice that his sleeping bag was directly on top of an enormous root from the gigantic maple tree that sat a few feet from the tent. In those regards it couldn't have been more like a real camping trip if we had tried!

The best thing was that those of us with the weakest bladders (that would be the youngest and oldest, if you are keeping track) got to go in and use our nice, comfy bathroom when we needed to in the middle of the night. And we all could escape the frigid temperatures in the morning and go inside the house for a toasty breakfast (when I say "toasty" I mean it was warm inside the house, not that we actually had toast for breakfast. Just thought I would clear that up. I could see where you might be confused...)

So, to finish, we had a fun time on our Backyard Safari, and I would recommend all kids and their dad do it at least once. If I ever get the kinks out of my back, I may even think about doing it again. Next time I will make someone else sleep on the enormous tree root!

These are two pics from our Backyard Safari. You'd think I would have noticed the enormous maple tree and its annoying roots when I chose which side of the tent to sleep on...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Men Being Men...

I left the Wife home alone with our 3.5 kids last weekend, and I don't feel the slightest pang of guilt. OK, actually I do feel a little guilty, but not nearly as guilty as I usually do when I leave the Wife home alone with our 3.5 kids. And because of that lack of guilt, I feel terrible. Thankfully, I know I will get over it quickly.

I went down to Iowa and had a great weekend. I know, I know, "Iowa" and "great weekend" usually aren't used in the same sentence, but this time it's true! Cedar Springs Wesleyan Camp held its annual Man Camp, and since I am a man, I thought I would partake. Let me tell you, my testosterone levels went through the roof! They are just now coming back down into the normal "suburbanite dad" levels, after being up somewhere between "lumberjack" and "Bruce Willis".

A bunch of us guys from throughout Iowa and Minnesota got together and did manly stuff, like archery and fishing and shooting guns and snoring and learning about sled dogs and stuffing ourselves with deep fried fresh caught fish. It was a fun time, I tell you what. I would recommend it to any man who might be reading this. The best part was just hanging out at Cedar Springs Camp right on the banks of the Cedar River, a beautiful oasis amongst the cornfields of northern Iowa.

Now that I am back home in suburbia, I'm not quite sure what to do with myself...I want to climb trees and shoot squirrels and catch fish and do some chainsaw carving, but instead I need to take out the garbage and do the dishes. Maybe I'll watch Die Hard after I'm done...
"Men Shooting Things" by Duane Prior

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Marriage Secrets...

or Happy Wife, Happy Life...

I am not some kind of marriage guru, in fact I'm not really a guru of any kind. But, despite that fact, I like to pretend that I know what I'm talking about, and I'm not afraid to share my (limited) knowledge with anyone who is willing to stand still long enough for me to start yapping at them. Since you are reading this, I assume that you will be willing to stand still long enough to read my yapping. Thank you!

I think that the Wife and I might have inadvertently stumbled into one of the secrets to having a happy marriage. We stumbled into it right from the get-go, more than 10 years ago, without any forethought or real planning of any kind. Want to know what our secret is? We don't give each other gifts, ever! I know, right?!?! Not for birthdays, not for Christmas, not even for Valentine's Day. Oh sure, I have gotten her flowers every once in a while, but not for any special occasion, just for fun. Since we don't buy each other gifts, there's no worrying about what to get, there's no hard feelings over bad or poorly thought out presents, and we don't have to waste time with wrapping paper. It's the best! And don't get me started on cards...If we haven't already stated how we feel about each other in person, a $2 card isn't going to fix things...

So, that's our secret. Maybe you and your spouse should try it for a while. If it works and your marriage becomes super blissful, let me know. Who knows, maybe I'll become a marriage guru after all. I wonder what kind of benefits that job comes with...
Just look at how happy we were, not only because we didn't have any kids or dogs yet, but also because we had already chosen to not get each other gifts, for any occasion. We are living in a gift-free zone, and loving every minute of it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Shiny New (Used) Toy

Just a couple of months ago, right here on this very blog, I wrote a glowing testimonial about my beloved 40- or maybe even 50-year-old lawnmower, which, at the time, I was genuinely excited about because it had started up after a long winter. (Read that glowing testimonial here) Ever since then that stupid old mower has done nothing but cause me consternation. If I looked at it weird it would throw one of its wheels, and if I or a nearby chipmunk breathed too hard in its direction the carburetor would blow out a thick plume of black smoke, and then it would sputter and die. My weekly job of mowing the grass changed from a peaceful hour of exercise into an evening of muddled swearing and throwing things (usually the things that were thrown were the wheels that had fallen off).

Thankfully, I recently had the opportunity to get a new hand-me-down lawnmower to replace my old hand-me-down lawnmower, and this one is only a few years old, instead of several decades. I have good feelings about this new one, probably because it's so shiny and new-looking. I, and my neighbors, are excited for my mowing time to go back to being peaceful again. If you see me outside muttering to myself, though, steer clear. That usually means the wheels are about to start flying.
Doesn't it look shiny and new? And look at the wheels! They're still attached!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Top 5 Things I Am Not Looking Forward To With This New Baby

I'm sure you probably won't believe this, but there are actually a few things about having another baby in the house that I am not looking forward to. I know, I know, you may think an expectant father shouldn't say things like that, but I am all about the truth, no matter how blunt or politically incorrect it might be. So, yes, having a fresh, new baby in the house will not be all happy and bubbly; there will be some bad times as well. Here are the top 5 things I am not looking forward to when this new baby arrives, in no particular order:

1. Having to use the snot-sucking turkey baster-type thingy.
Parents use this contraption to suck the snot out of a baby's nose when they are sick. It's the worst
thing ever. And, I've never actually gotten it to suck out much snot. Instead, I think it forms a vacuum seal on the baby's brain, causing parts of the poor, tiny gelatinous mass to be sucked into the baby's nasal cavity. At least that's what the terrible crying seems to indicate...

The snot-sucking turkey baster-type thingy. I hate it.
2. Blowouts that shoot out the top of the diaper and get all over baby's clothes.
This is as gross as it sounds, however I have a theory that this problem is worse with boys, since they have more um, you know, anatomical "stuff" in their diapers, and there's less room for poop, so it (the poop) just goes on the path of least resistance, which happens to be out the top of the diaper. Since our fresh, new baby is going to be a girl, maybe this problem won't be as bad. That's my theory, at least...

3. Diaper Rashes
Those things look like they hurt! And the associated crying is loud!

4. Tummy Time
Our kids never liked it very much, but the "experts" say you gotta do it. It usually just made our kids angry, which in turn made everyone in the house angry. Since they didn't like it, we (the Wife and I) didn't make them do it very often. Yet they all know how to hold their heads up now, at least most of the time. I say that Tummy Time is overrated!

5. Getting pooped on whilst I am changing a diaper
This actually has never happened to me, yet, which makes me think it's about time it happens with this next baby. And, even though it hasn't happened yet, I just know that when it does, I won't enjoy it. That's why it's on this list.

I'm sure there are other things I won't like about having another baby, but these are the only ones I could think of in the 4 minutes I took writing this blog. If you think of any good ones, let me know, and I may write about it. After all, a blog just isn't a blog unless I'm complaining about something.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Truth About Global Warming

As you probably know if you are an avid reader of this blog, and who in their right mind wouldn't want to be, I love to tackle the controversial subjects. Over the years I've written about such timely and controversial subjects as: "Is it grosser that Jerry Lee Lewis married his cousin, or that she was 13?", and "Candy cigarettes - Malicious or Delicious?". Now I am going to tackle yet another doozy:
global warming.

I was not always a big believer in global warming. For one thing, everyone in the media thinks it's definitely true. That fact alone makes me suspicious. Have you listened to people in the media lately? They all seem insane. Secondly, it seemed to me that the scientists who were pro-global warming were making their claims based on a little over a hundred years' worth of weather data, but the Earth is a lot older than that. So, yeah, maybe it's warmer than it was a hundred years ago, but that's just a small blip in the overall age of the Earth. Perhaps it is more of a mirage than a trend...? It sure didn't seem any warmer than usual the past 5 winters in Minnesota, am I right?

But the last couple of summers have changed my mind. It seemed like things started to change right around the time I turned 40. Summer seemed hotter. Air conditioning felt nicer. I started to sweat buckets while doing the smallest bit of strenuous activity. Back in my 20s I could play game after game after game of basketball on the hottest day of the summer and just have a slight glistening afterward. Now that I am in my 40s, I am completely drenched if I shoot one three-pointer.

Along those same lines, I mowed the yard tonight, and my shirt was wet for hours afterwards. It was gross. The only reason I can think of for all this added sweat is global warming. What else could it be? So, if you were on the fence about global warming before, believe me, it's true. Just ask my sweaty t-shirt! I'm so glad I could clear up this big controversial subject for you. Next week I think I will tackle another controversy: Potty Training: Pull-Ups or Undies? You'll want to stay tuned for that one!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

That Is Some Weird, Wild Stuff

The house I grew up in will soon be just a memory, as my parents are getting ready to move into a new apartment. We've been over there doing a lot of cleaning and packing and reminiscing lately, and during the cleaning process we have found some things that I would classify as weird, wild, or even mildly disturbing. Not that I would have expected anything less!

Before my dad retired he was a chemist, and his laboratory was in the basement of the house. Nobody else in the family really knew what kind of crazy formulas dad was concocting down there, and I think we were all happy not knowing. Even though he retired about 10 years ago, there were still a lot of chemicals, beakers, mixing things and other chemistry paraphernalia that we had to go through. Plus it seems that he seemed to be more of a collector of stuff than I had ever realized. When I cleaned off his workbench in the basement I found receipts and instruction manuals that were from the 1960s. He even had the instruction manual from our old metal swingset that rusted into oblivion almost 30 years ago. The flimsy paper instruction manual far out-lived the actual object. Until I chucked it in the recycling bin...

What might get the award for the weirdest thing I found would have to be the pig made out of marzipan. I found it neatly stored on my dad's messy workbench, still in its original bag. I had never seen it before, and had no idea why my dad would have had a marzipan pig laying around. I don't think he even likes marzipan...even if he did like marzipan, why hadn't he eaten it, instead of keeping it for several decades? This pig looked old enough to have become petrified. I found out later that it had been a gift from my sister to our dad after she went to France or some other foreign land that is filled with marzipan pigs. I didn't want to tell her, but it seems to me that giving someone a souvenir pig made out of marzipan is kind of a weird thing to do. I mean sure, I've brought people licorice llamas and fondant goats from my travels abroad, but marzipan pigs? That's just weird.

This was the decades-old marzipan pig I found in my parents' basement. It was delicious, by the way...

Saturday, August 8, 2015


The odds were stacked against him. He was outnumbered at least 50 to one. But he had cunning and guile. And he knew how to fight. He only attacked at night, when his enemy was least expecting it. And he had sharp, jagged implements of destruction that he knew how to use. As well as his secret weapon, peanut butter. One by one he picked off his enemies, until soon his kills numbered in the dozens. Despite his proficiency at taking out the enemy, he received no accolades, other than the occasional peck on the cheek or pat on the tush from his adoring wife. He especially liked the pats on his tush...

Soon our hero found himself on the cusp of a monumental event: his 50th kill. It had taken more than two years, but now it was within his grasp. His plan had to be even more cunning, his guile had to have guile of its own, because his 50th victim had proven to have guile as well. This enemy was a smart one, that's for sure. He seemed to be laughing at our hero's implements, and eating our hero's peanut butter without leaving a trace. But a hero never gives up. He gets more clever. He gets more determined. He gets more peanut butter...

Today he came upstairs from the dark, cavernous basement with the taste of victory on his lips. He had made his 50th kill, and he was darn happy about it. He boasted to his wife, who gave him an extended tush pat. He liked that. It made him excited to kill his 100th...

His 50th kill... I apologize if this kill photo is too graphic for you. I have gotten used to death, being the vicious killer that I am...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Place to Hibernate

I'm sure you probably assume that life with a 3-, 5-, and 6-year-old in the house is pretty hum-drum and boring, much like a lazy siesta in the afternoon, or even like the groggy and lethargic feeling that lingers after a hibernation of several months in length. Not being Mexican or a bear, I'm not entirely sure about those two metaphors, but I can say that the Wife and I had been lulled into a false sense of blahness in recent months. I blame our three kids for this. It's not that they are just motionless blobs or anything, but it seems like the clatter that they make is always at the same level - not quite loud enough to make your ears bleed, but not quiet enough to let you have any deep coherent thoughts, this blog being proof of that. Since the clatter is always at that same level, the Wife and I were getting pretty bored, let me tell you.

So, we did two things to liven things up a little around the house. Both of which weren't really planned. First, we got pregnant. When the baby arrives, in about 4 months, there should be a definite rise in excitement, and noise, around our house. And, of course, what do sane people do when they find out they are having a baby in a few weeks? Duh, they start to demolish their house! Not the entire house, just important parts of it, like the bathroom. Since the Wife and I like to pretend we are sane, that's exactly what we did.

We tore up the master bathroom, the place we both use on a regular basis, and the one room in the house where I have gotten some quiet solace from the noise for the past 6 years. We had thought about doing this since we moved in, but some leaky pipes made us make the decision sooner rather than later. So, we ripped out the 50-year-old fiberglass shower enclosure, and soon will be doing the same with the toilet and floor tiles. And probably the sink and door, as well. One of these days we'll have all the demolition done, then we'll  have to hurry up and figure out how we want to re-do things. We need to get this bathroom redone quickly, because soon the baby will be here and I will definitely need a place to hide. And I'm thinking about maybe hibernating in there, too. We'll see how loud this baby is...
This seems like a perfect T-Shirt for me...

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Weirder the Better, I Always Say...

The Wife and I just got back from a lovely weekend of camping in North/Central Minnesota. It was lovely for a variety of reasons. First of all, it was beautifully sunny and hot all weekend, but the nights were cool and comfortable to sleep in. The bugs weren't too bad, at least if we remembered to put on some bug spray. We were in a very nice park that was filled with trees and wild animals and open savannahs and nice trails, and we had fun exploring. And our van made it all the way to the park and back pulling our pop-up camper, and it didn't die! And, oh yeah, we left the kids at home! Woohoo!!!
These people all look super happy, and I know why...they all went camping without their kids!! They are brilliant!  Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
It was super fun to spend a couple of days with just my lovely bride, as we were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. We got to sleep in both mornings until AFTER 8:30!, which never happens at home. And we didn't get awakened every hour by some little person needing help to go potty, or whatever else little people need at all hours of the night. I'm usually too asleep to realize what is going on, even if I am the one who is helping said little person. This weekend we sat around in our camp chairs, we went on hikes when we wanted to, we biked around the park, and if we didn't want to do anything, we didn't. It was perfect!

It's almost like the Wife and I were getting to know each other all over again. We laughed. We talked about the last 10 years. We dreamed about the next 10 years. We reminded each other of all the stuff we will have to look forward to as we have another baby in a few months. Then we cried. And then we cried some more. Then we just enjoyed each other's company. I could tell that I made quite the impression on the Wife throughout the weekend by the fact that she told me she had forgotten how weird I was. It was nice.

I would suggest that every married couple get away from the kids and real life for a few days as often as possible. The Wife and I are going to be adamant about doing this again, and not waiting for another 10 years to make it happen. Which brings me to my next question - wanna do some babysitting next weekend?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Blissful Decade

I have had some strange decades in my life, but for sure the last 10 years have got to be the best, so far. I say "so far" because both the Wife and I fully believe that our lives will just keep getting better and better, but the next few decades will have to be pretty good if they want to beat these last 10 years. You see, today marks our 10th wedding anniversary. I found a woman who would put up with me for ten entire years. All the illegal bookies and nefarious odds-makers that I have talked to today are completely flabbergasted. If only I had known them 10 years ago...

We celebrated the grand occasion in style today. I went to work, like I do most days, and the Wife
stayed home with our three hoodlums, the Girl, the Boy, and the Little One, and, like most Thursdays, she had another toddler-delinquent, the Friend, mosey in for the day. When I came home from work we all (minus the Friend, who had already left. Oh, and the Girl, who had gone up to her cousin's house for a sleepover) scarfed down a couple of face-fulls of spaghetti and meat sauce, and then sped over to a nearby park for the Boy's last T-Ball "meeting" of the year. I call it a meeting because they didn't play any T-Ball games, they just worked on the fundamentals. Despite it not being an actual game, the Boy was still able to run full-speed into one of the other kids while running the bases. I would like to say that my kid was the tough one who did not fall over and start crying. Hey, how about those Twins, huh?

So, despite the momentous occasion, it was a pretty normal day here. The Wife and I are going camping tomorrow, without the kids, so that will be fun. Maybe this next decade will be pretty awesome, after all...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Toby vs. Albert

Don't ask me why, but a couple of nights ago I had the crazy idea that our yippy-but-friendly dog, Toby, is a lot like Albert Einstein. Later that same evening, whilst sleeping, I had a dream in which America's most beloved game show host, Pat Sajak, said the "F" word during America's most beloved game show, Wheel of Fortune. In my dream I seemed to be the only person who thought it was odd that Pat would do such a thing, and it made the dream version of me wonder if I actually heard what he had said. So the dream me got on my dream computer, and looked up ol' Mr. Sajak on the dream version of wikipedia. Lo and behold, according to wikipedia, despite being America's most beloved game show host, dream Pat Sajak oftentimes slips little swear words into the telecast, much to the delight of the viewers. Who would have known? And who else, other than me, would have such an odd scenario deep in the bowels of my dream world? Nobody, that's who.

I tell the story about swearing Pat Sajak to illustrate just how weird my brain can be, and to help show why I might have come across the epiphany that Toby is a lot like Albert Einstein. Originally the idea entered my mind when I looked at Toby's hair, so let's start with that. As you can see from the photo below, Toby's hair and Albert's hair are pretty much identical. Both of them could use a haircut, that's for sure. Toby's hair is soft and fun to pet when it's this long, and I'm sure Albert's probably was, too.
Albert and Toby

Toby and Einstein have other peculiar similarities, as well. For one, Einstein is famous for his failed Entwurf Theory, in which he theorized that the equations of motion were supplemented by additional gauge fixing conditions. When Toby gets a piece of his dry dog food stuck in his throat, he often makes a noise that sounds a lot like "entwurf!".

Einstein wrote extensively about wormholes, which, as the aforementioned wikipedia defines, are "a hypothetical topological feature that would fundamentally be a shortcut through spacetime. A wormhole is much like a tunnel with two ends, each in separate points in spacetime." Toby has had worms.

I could go on and on about how my dog is almost exactly like Albert Einstein, but I wouldn't want you and your dog to get jealous, so I will leave it at that. Maybe in the near future I will write about how my other dog, Gromit, was the inspiration for the Ewoks in all those Star Wars movies. Let me know when your dog can handle it. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Return of the V-Word

In my last post, which was about our newest baby, the Fetus, and the fact that we found out she is a girl, I joked that the first thing I have to do now is to go out and get a vasectomy. The only thing is, that's not really a joke. I do need to, because if I don't, knowing me, I will be writing about a fifth child in a year or so. And that would not be good for anyone involved.

The Wife and I have talked about me getting one of those V-words for the past couple of years, and I would have, probably, except for one thing. Our old insurance company didn't cover them. Can you believe it?!?! Why wouldn't they? I still don't get it. Don't you think they would cover something like that, which costs under $2000, so that they wouldn't have to pay for the birth of a child, which is 20 times that much? It never made good economic sense to me, but then again, I am not good with financial stuff, so maybe there were reasons I didn't understand.

At the time, we never wanted to spend a couple grand out of our pockets, so I kept putting it off. Now we have a different insurance company, so I think it will be covered. Looking back, maybe I should have tried to pay for my V-word via some kind of crowdfunding website, like KickStarter or GoFundMe... I wonder if anybody has ever used those sites to pay for something like that before. I think I might be on to something here...Would you have helped pay for it? Yeah, me neither...
This is the worried look I get whenever I think about getting a V-word.

Monday, July 13, 2015

I'm on a Streak

In my last post I wrote about how all of our first three kids turned out to be the opposite, gender-wise, of what I was hoping for. I was expecting to get some negative feedback on that one, but happily I can report there wasn't any. Apparently many of you have felt the same way about your own children. Remind me to tell your children that the next time I see them. :)

Well, let's make my streak four for four now. The Wife and I went in for an ultrasound on our fourth child, the Fetus, on Friday, and the results are in: she's yet another girl. So, the Boy and I are going to be even more outnumbered than we already are. The two of us are going to have to pretend to be as manly as can be, just to keep the estrogen and the pink barrettes from overtaking us.

Now there are a couple of things we need to do before she pops out in late November. First, and most importantly, I need to schedule a vasectomy. Next we need to gather up all the newborn boy's clothes we've been storing in the basement and sell them on craigslist. That should fetch a tidy sum. Then we need to sneak into our niece's house and steal back all the newborn girl's clothes we gave her before she had her baby. It will take all of our cunning and skill, but I think we can do it. Just don't tell her what we're up to, OK? Thanks!
This is an undoctored photo of Fetus #4. Even I could tell it was a girl...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Time to Lambaste Me

I may get lambasted for putting this in writing, but none of my kids came out of the womb being the gender that I had hoped they would be. You're probably not supposed to say something like that about your kids, but it's true. Of course I didn't let that stop me from loving them with all my heart.

It all started over 6 years ago, with the Girl. Being our first, I had no idea how to deal with babies at all. I had little experience even holding a baby, and had never fed one or changed a single diaper. Plus, it had taken us a long time to get pregnant, and in the back of my mind I thought that since it had taken so long, there was a pretty good chance this might be our only child. And, girls can be frightening. I have distinct memories of my own childhood, specifically 7th grade, when a large portion of my dealings with girls were not all that fun. So, for these reasons, I wanted our baby to be a boy. When she finally popped out, and it was obvious even to me that she was a girl, I was a little sad. Thankfully that feeling subsided when I held her for the first time.

Six months after that glorious day, the Wife and I decided that having a baby around wasn't such a bad deal, so we thought we better start trying for a second one. Since it took so long for us to get pregnant with the Girl, we figured we better get started fast. Nine months later we were at the hospital again, getting ready for baby #2 to arrive. And I figured that, since we already had a house full of girl clothes, we might as well have another girl. Plus, the Girl was about the easiest baby ever, at least as far as I knew, so all girls must be like that, right? Well, out popped the Boy, which was even more obvious to me than the Girl had been, so we had to go out and buy an all-new wardrobe, as well as a bunch of trucks, trains and a baseball glove (those were my ideas).

The Boy, too, was as easy a baby as could be, so one night when he was about a year old, we had an epiphany that maybe we should try for yet another. By the next morning both the Wife and I weren't quite sure we were actually ready for another baby, but nine months later there we were, back in the delivery room. This time I was hoping for another boy, since the Boy was outnumbered by his older sister and their cousin, the Cousin, who they often played with. So, of course, we had a girl.

Now, three-and-a-half years later, we are expecting our fourth child, and we have an appointment tomorrow to try to find out the gender. You would think I would have learned by now, but I have my hopes again for it to be a certain gender. I'm not going to say what I am hoping for, though, because I don't want to get lambasted any more than I already am. Knowing our luck I should probably just be thankful there's only one of them in there, which supposedly there is. Whew!
Lots of questions swirling around our latest fetus. Hopefully they will all be answered tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Birthday Video by my Kiddos

This has never happened before here on the ol' blog. I am not quite sure what to make of it...I am always the one who makes silly birthday videos for my family members, not the other way around. But, this morning, all three of our kids, the Girl, the Boy and the Little One, made me a video, and it's awesome! Actually, the best part is probably the cinematography, but I might be a little biased about that...

Yup, today is my 41st birthday. The kids were especially huggy and full of love this morning, both to me and to each other, and I didn't see any of them throw a single punch all morning, so I am trying to figure out how I can trick them into thinking every day is my birthday...Wish me luck. I think the Wife and the Boy are going to take me out to lunch in a little while, so that will be fun. As you should know by now, I love food, so my anticipation is growing with every second. Yay food!

Well, without further delay, here is the video my amazing kids made this morning. I think it's safe to assume they will all be big movie and/or music stars when they grow up. Or not. At least they sound better than I do when I make one of these videos!

This is a drawing the Girl made for me. I just thought I would post it to illustrate just how insane 41 candles look on a cake... I am super old :(

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Weekend to Remember...

We had a great weekend. It started out on Friday, which just happened to be the Boy's 5th birthday. You probably noticed that the most noteworthy part of his birthday was that I did not post an embarrassing video accompanied by even more embarrassing singing by yours truly, like I usually do when someone in my family has a birthday. I just didn't have enough time to slap a video like that together. Actually, I did have time, but I spent most of the day trying to think of a new song I could sing for the video, and I never did come up with one. Songwriting is harder than it looks. I guess you are stuck with me just being a blogger.

Saturday was the 4th of July, and we spent a large portion of the day doing what most Americans do on the 4th: eating grilled meat products and playing yard games. Oh, we also took all three kids to watch some local fireworks well after their bedtime, which went surprisingly well. The Boy made it about 2/3 of the way through the show before he got tired/scared of the loud noises and went inside, and the Little One also made it through about 2/3 of the show, her first fireworks show as a human, before she got bored and asked to play a game on her aunt's smartphone. We finally got them all in bed about 3.5 hours later than normal, with no major meltdowns from any of them. I know, I didn't believe it either, and I saw it with my own two eyes.

Today we celebrated the Boy's birthday with family members. The food was all spectacular, and I'm not just saying that because my beautiful pregnant wife, the Wife, made most of it. It really was good. This is strange for me, but I especially liked the cake, and its trusty sidekick, cream cheese frosting. Usually I prefer savory foods to sweets, but not today. The Wife used the aforementioned frosting to make a terrific Thomas the Tank Engine cake for the Boy. I had three pieces, even after I had already stuffed myself full of chicken, corn on the cob, and various other foods. The cake was so good that it has inspired me to finally write a new birthday song... but I guess it will have to wait til next year.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Bean Bag Chair Dilemma

If you've seen a photo of me any time recently, you probably have noticed that I am in the best shape of my life, if you are one of those strange people who think a bean bag chair is a shape. Yes, I have gotten a little gooshy around my midsection since the Wife and I got married, which is not something I am real proud of, but it's true so I might as well admit it.

People, like me, who are the shape of a bean bag chair, generally aren't that nimble, and nimbleness is a desired quality when playing sports such as softball, which I am prone to do. I, along with all of my softball teammates, and all of our fans, and pretty much anyone who might have been walking by while I have been on the field, have noticed my lack of nimbleness this year, which has shown itself every time the ball gets hit towards me. My inability to bend over and field the ball in my glove is a dead giveaway. I suppose, being bean-bag-chair-like, I should probably just plop myself on the ground and let the softball get absorbed by my gooshiness. We'll see how that works...

What I should do instead is take up some kind of physical, mental, and spiritual practice to help me get into the proper shape. Hey, I just so happen to have a great friend who teaches Holy Yoga. Her name is Adrienne, and lo and behold, she just started advertising on the ol' blog. Check out her ad over on the right side of this page, and give it a click if you are interested in taking one of her classes. You don't have to be bean-bag-chair-shaped to benefit from the whole Holy Yoga experience. Holy Yoga is good for everyone! Do it!