Monday, December 19, 2016

Respite

I was forced to take a few days off from life. Medical reasons. The Doctor told me to, and I almost always do what the Doctor tells me to do. Almost.

This time the Doctor told me to take it easy. Kick back. Put my legs up. And don't lift anything over 10 pounds for a week. Don't tell the Missus, but I was kind of excited about all of those things. I was looking forward to getting caught up on a bunch of TV shows that I have started to watch but then forgotten about. Instead of that, though, I have spent a lot of time reading one of my favorite books, The View From Rat Lake by John Gierach, for the 8th or 9th time. I'm sure you've read it... Not sure why I decided to read instead of watch, but I felt pretty good about my decision.
I was doing a lot of this for the past few days...

The one thing I was not anticipating during this medical time off was how much I would miss holding the Baby, who weighs much more than 10 pounds. She recently has been in a sort of "Daddy phase", following me around, calling out "Dada! Dada! Dada!", and holding her arms up to tell me she wants me to lift her up. During my medical respite, she would walk over to the chair I was lounging in, put her hands on my legs, and say "Dada! Dada! Dada!", but then look at me with a puzzled look when I didn't immediately grasp her in my arms. It kind of broke my heart...

So, I am currently on day 4 of my week-long medical sabbatical. I am slowly getting back into the flow of life. I am not kicking back with my feet up anymore. And I'm not completely taking it easy either. And, to be honest, I could only say no to my beautiful little girl for a couple of days. Hey, this might be the only "Daddy phase" she ever goes through! Don't tell the Doctor, ok?

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Car-tastic Weekend or Lucky Number 13

The past few days have been super-de-duper, at least as far as our vehicles go. Or, in some cases, don't go...

It all started at about 5:30 on a Friday evening. I was making my way from work up to my parents' place, which is about a half hour north of work. We head up there most Fridays for a family dinner, which was delicious, by the way. The brussel sprouts were exceedingly yummy, along with everything else. But, especially the brussel sprouts...

But I digress. As I was making my way up towards my parents' house on some back roads, a car's headlights appeared out of nowhere in my rearview mirror. I had not noticed anyone behind me just prior to that, so the appearance of these headlights seemed rather odd. They got closer and closer to the back of my car, which also seemed odd. It seemed like the person driving the car wanted me to speed up, but I knew better. I suspected it might have been a police officer, who would probably pull me over as soon as I sped up. I wasn't about to give him or her the satisfaction, though. I stayed right at the speed limit. And he pulled me over any way! Turned out I had a headlight that was out (I wrote "Turned out" to make it seem like I didn't already know about the dead headlight. Pretty tricky, huh?)

So, the nice police officer pulled me over for my headlight that was out. As I sat anxiously in my car while he was back at his car, checking out my info, I wasn't sure what to expect. You see, I have been tempting fate with police officers for a long time. In fact, the last 12 times that I had had the chance to meet a police officer face-to-face, they had only given me warnings, no tickets. I was on a great streak, but even I knew my streak could end at any moment. But not this time! Yup, for the 13th straight time, I only received a warning. I don't know what to attribute it to, but the police seem to like me. Let's hope this streak lasts for another 13 visits!

Later that same evening, before I had a chance to go to the store to get a replacement bulb for my headlight, the Wife took the same car to our local large retail grocery store, which happens to rhyme with "Dub", and on the way home one of our friendly local police officers pulled her over for the very same headlight. I am happy to say that she was only given a warning, as well. I am especially happy to say that because if she had gotten a ticket right after I had only gotten a warning, I may not be here today to write this blog post...

Throughout that whole evening of getting pulled over multiple times, I knew the car was getting low on gas. But I didn't really want to drive it anywhere that night to get gas, for fear of getting pulled over again. I didn't have a reason to drive it again until the following Monday morning, which was a rather cold day. On cold mornings I have the habit of going out to warm up whichever cars are going to be driven, which on that day included both the car and the van. After several minutes of warming up, I got in the car and headed to work. I got about a quarter of a mile from our house, and was still about a quarter of a mile from our nearest gas station, when the car abruptly ran out of gas. It was the second time this has happened to me in my life, but the first time was in the dead of summer about 25 years ago. This time, as I ran home to get my gas can, it was much colder, and not nearly as fun. If you ever run out of gas, I would suggest you try to do it in the summer. Thankfully, the Wife came and picked me up in the van, taking me to the gas station to fill the gas can. All was swell, and I even got the headlight replaced later that day. So, hopefully, my 14th visit with a police officer won't be for a long time.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Time To Give Thanks

A couple of weeks ago I was seriously contemplating writing a blog post that would have been titled "Things That Make Me Wish I Still Drank". You see, I don't drink any more, but sometimes there are things in life that make me wish I did still drink, like all of the sports teams in Minnesota, my home state. It would have been a slightly tongue-in-cheek list of things that tend to irk me more than other things, and I did start to put a list together in my head, but I never put it in writing, because it seemed as though a list of that sort might come off as a bunch of complaining on my part, and I typically don't like to complain, despite how it may seem here on the blog.

I really do have way more things to be thankful for than to complain about, and since it's Thanksgiving and all, I thought I would make that list instead. So, here is my list of Things I Am Thankful For Today, Thursday, November 24th, 2016:

Four great kids who are happy, healthy and who sometimes listen; A wife who I adore and who creates super cute kids who look like her; A couple of dogs that act happy to see me despite my less-than-optimal skills at being a dog owner; Brown trout; The ability to learn something new every day of my life; Friends who laugh at my silliness; Fly rods, the most amazing tool man has ever created; The grace and forgiveness offered to me by Jesus Christ; The ability to dream and be creative; Brook trout; Soft hair; The fact that goatees never go out of style, at least in my mind; Food of all kinds; Anxiety meds; Brakes that stop our cars even after I have changed the brake pads; A family who gets along with the Wife's family; Bluegills; Living in a country that has very minor problems when compared to other places; Springtime; Aquatic insects; Rainbow trout; Phones that are faster and more powerful than my computer at work; MyPillow; Playing catch; The Baby's giggles; The Little One's silliness; The Boy's goofiness; The Girl's thoughtfulness; People who read my blogs; The fact that the Wife and I pretty much have the same opinions about everything; Cheese (I know I already listed "food of all kinds", but cheese deserves special consideration); A working furnace; A great church family; Quality footwear; A high pain tolerance; Fast food; Slow food; Eggs (see Cheese, above); Lakes; Rivers; Creeks; Bass; Music with a good beat; Genetically-grown chickens (you would probably have to be a fly tyer to understand this one); Cousints; and countless other things that I thought of at 3:30 this morning but can't recall now that I am actually mostly awake.

Life is pretty awesome, and I am thankful for so much. I asked the three kids who are old enough to know more than 1 or 2 words of English to write down what they are thankful for. Here's what they wrote:
Not sure what kind of "drinks" he's talking about...
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Chaotic Kids & Clutter!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Birthday Baby

The Baby turns 1 today! Woot woot!! She has been waiting for this day for weeks. I could tell that she was sick and tired of being 0, and was super excited to finally be a real number. What a silly girl!

This first year of her life has flown by. I have two theories as to why that is. First, I am really old, and I recently realized that as I get older, time goes faster, making me get older much more quickly than I used to. And, that also makes the Baby get older much faster than our other kids did at this age...

The second reason that this first year of the Baby's life went by so fast is that her closest sibling, as far as age goes, otherwise known as the Little One here on the ol' blog, was such a stinker for her entire first year that that first year seemed to take about 12 years. And her second year didn't get any better. That seemed to take about 14 years. Thankfully, once she turned 2, some kind of internal switch got flipped, so she now is happy, kind, and silly about 92% of the time, and only makes us want to pull our hair out about 8% of the time. So, compared to the first year of the Little One's life, this first year of the Baby's life has flown by.

We aren't going to have a birthday party for the Baby today. Since it is so close to Thanksgiving, we will just celebrate on Thursday when everyone is already together. The Wife says that she will make the Baby a birthday cupcake for her to devour after dinner. Along those same lines, I think it would be cool to also make her her own Cornish game hen so she doesn't have to eat any of our turkey. Not sure if that will happen...Actually, I do know that that is not going to happen. Maybe next year, when the Baby will be double her current age. Woot woot!
I have a feeling we will be celebrating the Baby's birthday on Thanksgiving most years, so she better get used to this view...

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Movie Review?!?!

The Wife and I never go to the movies. Even when we were dating and she was known as the Girlfriend, we
hardly ever went to a movie. We will occasionally take our kids to a movie, but usually when we do, just one of us goes. If I take the kids, the Wife stays home and gets some stuff done. If she takes the kids, I stay home and nap. In fact, as far back as I can remember, the only times the two of us went to a movie together, we only went because I had won tickets via some kind of contest or on-air radio giveaway. But, we went to a movie last night!

And guess what! We won these tickets, too! Only this time, the Wife won them. She's so awesome! I'm not really sure what she did to win them, but I know it was some kind of contest that Visa was doing. I could make a typical wife joke and say that maybe they were giving them away to the person who charged the most $ on their Visa card, but in reality I probably charge more than she does, and I don't want to give her any extra ammunition to use at a later date. So let's just say she got us entered into the contest somehow, and she won! Woot woot.

So, we got exclusive tickets to a pre-screening of that new Harry Potter prequel that is opening today...what's it called? Oh yes, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. I have not read any of the Harry Potter books, or the prequels, so I had no idea what this new movie was going to be about, or if it would be something I would enjoy, but it was free! And, it turns out, it was pretty good. Not great by any means, but interesting and entertaining. I wasn't always sure what was going on, but hey, when am I? Almost never, that's when.

Did I mention that it was in 3D? When I found that out, right as we were walking into the theater, I got a little uneasy. My tummy, and brains, and every other part of me has been known to get a little queasy at certain times, and I was worried that a 3D movie might trigger an eruption. But, I got through it with no problems, so that made it even better!

Throw in a free popcorn and soda for both of us, and a collectible movie poster that we are sure to keep for the next 25 or so years before we finally decide to toss it, and the night couldn't have gotten any better. I give the free movie, free popcorn, free soda, free poster, and a barf-free night two enthusiastic thumbs up. We should win free tickets more often! 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Parenting Wins

If you think about it, parenting can be hard, but let's not focus on that. I prefer to focus on the things that go right in our parenting, otherwise known as parenting wins. Sometimes they can be few and far between, but recently I've had a few, and as always, I am happy to share them with you, whether you want to hear them or not...

All day long yesterday, all of our kids who can speak English, otherwise known as the Girl, the Boy, and the Little One, were walking around singing a song that I have occasionally sung to them at ni-night time. This is not your typical lullaby, or even a typical song that a parent would ever sing to their kids, or even a song that many people would probably know the words to. But I do, and since there is always a song playing in my internal jukebox, sometimes I just have to let them out for my kids to hear. That's what I did with this song a couple of weeks ago, and after singing it for them just a couple more times, they all seemed to get it stuck in their heads. The fact that my kids would sing one of my songs makes me super happy and proud, and the fact that my kids are probably the only 4, 6, and 7-year-olds at their schools who know this song makes me even happier. Take a listen to Cars by Gary Numan, my kids' favorite new song.

Saturday morning the Boy was being his normal Boy self, acting silly, sometimes raucous, teasing his sisters, squeezing the dogs, and generally being a blur of chaotic activity. This is all normal, but what wasn't normal was how he was saying "Hello!" in a high-pitched, whiny voice every time he entered a room. It was as
though his inner being had been taken over by TV's Squiggy from the Laverne & Shirley show. If you aren't as culturally advanced as we are, you may not know that Squiggy might be the best character in the History of  Television Sit-Coms, other than his sidekick Lenny, and he had a peculiar way of entering a room. If you need a refresher, watch this:

I have to believe that the Boy did not sit down one night and watch a Laverne & Shirley marathon on MeTV, so the only way he could have learned about Squiggy is from his Old Man. It makes me so happy to know that my kids actually listen to me once in a while. Win! Woot woot.

Those are my two recent parenting wins. Oh, other than the fact that all of our kids are brilliant, kind, obedient, and beautiful/handsome, but I would say those are more of their Mom's parenting wins than they are mine, although I am happy to take the credit...


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Election Thoughts

Oh man, I just can't get enough of this election. Hasn't it been fun? And here I thought all the fun would end after the results came in at the end of Election Day. I thought that once the results were in, and one of the candidates was declared the winner, life would go back to normal and everyone would stop talking about the candidates until January, when whoever won would take office. But no, now that it's over, people are talking about it even more, and some of them don't seem too happy about the outcome...I never knew how much fun it would be to hear half the country complaining at the same time. What a blast!! If you couldn't tell, this paragraph should have been read in a completely sarcastic tone.

Well, since everyone else wants to keep talking about the election, I thought we would hold our own election here in the Chaotic Kids & Clutter offices, also known as our kitchen. In the past month or so, we have become a family filled with English Muffin lovers, and we always get the best, Thomas' English Muffins, also known as "The Original Nooks and Crannies English Muffin". It's true that Thomas' muffins are filled with nooks and crannies, but which part of the English Muffin would win the popular vote, the Nook or the Crannie? I decided to go around the room and ask everyone which part of the English Muffin they would vote for.

Here are the results:

Obviously, since I am the only person in the room who would come up with an election like this, I went first. The Nooks are really fun, but then again, I've always liked a good Crannie...after as much deliberation as I could pack into the time it took me to swallow my bite, I decided to vote for Crannie.

Total: Crannie 1, Nook 0

Next I asked the Girl, who is right behind me when it comes to English Muffin love. I probably shouldn't have let her hear which one I voted for, but I did, so she seconded my vote for Crannie.

Total: Crannie 2, Nook 0

After the Girl, I asked the Little One. She does not eat as many English Muffins as the Girl or me, but she has been known to scarf one down if it's got a big ol' slab of hard butter on it (she is definitely her daddy's girl! Woot woot!) She didn't seem to know the difference between a nook and a crannie (remember, she's only 4), but after some careful thought, she voted for Nook.

Total: Crannie 2, Nook 1

The Boy was nowhere to be found.

Total: Crannie 2, Nook 1

The Baby crams bites of dry English Muffin into her mouth as fast as she can, without any butter, which proves that she might be deranged. Also, she can't speak a lick of English.

Total: Crannie 2, Nook 1

I think the Wife was tired of my shenanigans, or at least I assumed she would be, so I didn't get up enough courage to ask her...

Final Vote Tally: Crannie 2, Nook 1

The Winner: Crannie, in a landslide!

Congratulations to Crannie on its amazing win. I only hope that it doesn't let this victory go to its head and do something stupid like bomb North Korea. I don't want to regret voting for it...

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloweird

Today is Halloween. You would think that, with four young children in our house, my Halloween would probably be extremely busy, walking our kids around the neighborhood, rushing back to the house to get them ready for bed, handing out candy to the hooligans who drop by our house, things like that. But no. I had what turned out to be a very quiet and almost relaxing evening at home with the Boy and the Baby. Well, as relaxing as it could be with a very rambunctious and curious 11-month-old crawling around and getting into everything.

The whole family had gone to a local church's Trunk-Or-Treat event last night, which went fairly well, I thought, except the Baby did not like wearing her enormous, fuzzy ladybug costume AT ALL. The other three kids got a good amount of candy and saw some friends, and had a good time.
Writing about Halloween candy made me realize that I have never once gotten a Whatchamacallit bar, the World's Greatest Candy Bar, for Halloween. And my kids haven't either...We need to fix that next year.

For the Boy, though, that apparently was enough Halloween for this year. Today he decided he would rather stay home and hand out candy instead of putting his costume back on and walking around the neighborhood. I would understand if he had a very complex costume or if it required a lot of makeup or something like that, but his pirate costume is literally comprised of a bandanna and a blue vest, which he could wear over whatever clothes he already happened to be wearing. It is about the easiest and least cumbersome costume in the history of Halloween, yet he chose to not wear it.

Since we already knew the Baby also did not particularly like her costume, I decided to keep her home with me and the Boy while the Wife took the other two kids out to a friend's house, and the three of us had a fun time. We scarfed down some fried chicken, we handed out candy to the few people who showed up, we all yelled at the dogs to try to get them to stop barking whenever the doorbell rang...it was a fun night of bonding. Maybe this weird way of not going trick-or-treating will become a new Halloween tradition...Nah, I need them to get me some candy!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Book Fair, Times 2

I wrote last spring about all the craziness that happened when I volunteered at the Book Fair at the Girl's school. When you pack a bunch of small children into a small area and add in approximately 4 billion books, toys, and other kid-themed paraphernalia, it can get pretty crazy. Despite that craziness, I didn't not have fun at that Book Fair, so I decided to volunteer again this fall. I thought I was ready for whatever those kids could throw at me, and it turned out I was, for the most part.

This year all of the volunteers who were working my shift already had Book Fair experience, meaning we all knew how to run the cash registers, which is the trickiest part of the job. Since I was the last to arrive, and the other two volunteers were already ringing kids up on the two cash registers, I took on the task of roaming around, watching to make sure nothing got pilfered, keeping my eye on all the hooligans, and straightening up the messes after they left. This job made me feel like a tough guy enforcer, which is what I see myself as most of the time any way, so it was fun. I had the chance to work on my glare, which should reap benefits at home. If there are any new dads out there reading this, one of the most important things to learn is how to have a good glare. Your hooligans, I mean kids, will wilt at the first sign of your glare, if you practice it often, and soon they won't even think about being naughty. At least, that's a theory I am working on. Apparently my glare still needs some work...

Back to the Book Fair, things were going quite well, again almost to the point of being fun, and roaming around let me check out more of the books than I was able to last year. There was even a table of books geared towards adults. I can't imagine any of the kids actually thinking about buying their parents a book as a gift, so I can only assume these books were for the teachers to peruse. One thing I noticed amongst these "adult" books (There weren't any of those kind of adult books, you pervert! Get your head out of the gutter!) was that a lot of cookbooks nowadays are shaped like the food that they specialize in. Maybe it's always been this way, but it sure seemed odd to me. There was a chocolate cookbook that was shaped like a bar of chocolate with a bite taken out of one corner; there was a pizza cookbook shaped like a pizza; and there was even a pasta cookbook shaped like a box of angel hair pasta. I don't know if the recipes in these books were any good, but the covers sure made me hungry! Not hungry enough to buy the books, but definitely hungry enough to go out and eat whatever I could get my hands on.



Other than the cookbooks, the most memorable thing about the Book Fair was when a small lad of about 6 or 7 started leafing through the Monster Survival Guide, pictured below. It took him about 10 seconds to find what he needed in it, and then blurt out, not quite at the top of his lungs, "I FINALLY KNOW HOW TO KILL A WEREWOLF!!!" I had no idea that kind of knowledge was so vital for a young boy to have, but he seemed like it completely made his day. Knowing the proper way to kill a pretend creature, like a werewolf, is one thing. But knowing how to defeat a real-life beast, like a tough-guy dad with a mean glare, is another thing altogether! Excuse me while I go practice some more...

Friday, October 14, 2016

That Time of Year

Well, it's that time of year again. The weather is getting colder, the stores are full of Halloween costumes, I am forced to stop wearing shorts and put on some full-length pants much to my chagrin, and the mice are starting to move indoors again.

We have had a mice problem in our house ever since we moved in. Actually, we think it started well before we moved in, but don't tell the previous owners, my in-laws, that. I can't actually remember what kind of evidence first prompted me to think we had mice in our basement, but when we tore down all the walls down there during our renovation about 3 years ago and found 17 dead mice behind the old sheetrock, that pretty much cemented the idea in my brain.

Since then I have killed another 43 mice with my own two hands. Or, to be more precise, with the mouse traps I bought with my own two hands. If you aren't very good with math, I will take out my trusty calculator and tell you that 17 + 43 equals a total of 60 mice we have had in our house in the last 3-and-a-half years. To paraphrase my favorite philosopher Larry the Cable Guy, I don't care who you are, that's a lot of mice.
Just one of sixty.

If you were to inspect every inch of the outside of our house with a magnifying glass or a fine-tooth, mouse-sized comb, like we sort of have, you may think that there is only one place that they could be getting in: a small hole next to the back step that leads from the garage into the backyard. Knowing that, I recently filled the hole with enough steel wool to choke a rabid wolverine, which I am hoping is enough steel wool to keep the mice from getting in.

Proud of my accomplishment, I told the Wife that we probably won't be seeing any more mice any time soon. She didn't seem too certain of that, citing the fact that the pesky critters could already be in the house and we just haven't caught them yet. I know she could be right, and deep down I kind of hope she is. Killing mice is fun! I love this time of year!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Du Liebst Mich! Du Really Liebst Mich!

If you hadn't already noticed, the title of this post is not in English. It is supposed to be in German, or as the German people say, "Deutsch". I still can't figure out why we English speakers call Deutsch "German" when the Deutsch people themselves call it Deutsch. You would think that if a group of peoples wanted their language to be known as "Deutsch", the least we could do would be to call it that. I don't understand the English language sometimes...

I also really don't understand German, despite having taken 3.5 years of German classes during High School. If my teacher for all of those German classes, Frau Peggy (which translates to Mrs. Nancy in English) were to hear me speak German now, she would probably smack me upside the head with a schnitzel. I could always tell that she secretly wanted to do that to me back in high school, but thankfully, in America, we have rules against that. I'm glad I didn't grow up in Deutschland...

I am talking all of this Deutsch gibberish because this blog, Chaotic Kids & Clutter, was recently nominated for the Liebster Award! Woot woot! You may be asking yourself, "Self, what exactly is a Liebster Award?" Don't worry, I asked myself that too. Apparently the Liebster Award is a German blogging award, given out to bloggers across the globe who also don't know exactly what it is. But, really, when it comes down to it, an award is an award, am I right? And we here at Chaotic Kids & Clutter will accept any award they are handing out. Woohoo!!

There are rules that one must follow once one is nominated for the Liebster Award, and I am very good at following rules, as well as making up rules. Just ask my kids. So, here goes:

Rule #1: Thank the person who nominated me.
I was nominated by Jesse Zahrt, from the average jester blog. Jesse is one of my favorite bloggers because he is also from Minnesota, he is also 42 years of age, he also blogs about his children much of the time, and because he has a last name that is fun to say and that sounds German, or possibly Deutsch, depending on where he was born...

Rule #2: Display the Liebster Award logo in my post.



Rule #3: Write 150-300 words about my favorite blog that isn't my own.

I am not much of a word-counter, and I hope you aren't, either... Right now my favorite blog is EddieRivardFlyFishing.blogspot.com. Eddie Rivard is a fly fisherman like me, he lives in the same city as I do, he writes fun and interesting stories about his fishing exploits, and he fishes a lot because he is single, which is what I used to do when I was single. He helps me to reminisce, even though he isn't trying to. It's kind of a weird vibe we have going, whether he know that or not. I better stop writing before I get all sentimental...

Rule #4: Provide 10 random facts about myself.
I have pretty much already blogged about every single facet of my life, so I won't bore you with anything at this time. This Rule is optional, any way.

Rule #5: Nominate 5-11 other bloggers.
As I mentioned in a recent post, I really don't read a lot of other blogs, but I will go ahead and nominate Eddie Rivard and his Eddie Rivard Fly Fishing blog, and my buddy Bryon Tang and his Timber Of Faith blog.

Rule #6: List the Rules in my post.
I'm doing that right now, aren't I?

Rule #7: Let everyone know they've been nominated.
OK, I will.


That's all the rules. I still am fuzzy about how this all works, if you can vote, how they announce the winners, if there even are winners or just a bunch of nominees, and whether the title of my post makes sense grammatically in German/Deutsch. I am very thankful for being nominated, and to all of you, my loyal readers. If it wasn't for you I would be the only one reading this right now. You're the best!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Scott's Exploding Head

I felt like my head was going to explode for about an hour last night. Thankfully it didn't, but it was close. I think everyone around me was fully expecting it to happen. Some of them seemed a little sad when it didn't...
Me, about 2 minutes after we started playing.

Let me explain: I played basketball. Full court basketball. Full court basketball for the first time in about 12 years. We started playing at about 8:30, and by 8:32 my head had turned beet red from running around and gasping for air, and I felt like it was going to explode. For some reason, that's what happens to me nowadays whenever I do anything even remotely athletic, which isn't very often. I wasn't sure I would make it through the first game. Thankfully, there was a medical doctor on the opposing team, so I think that if my head had exploded, he would have been able to save me.

Amazingly, I made it through that first game, and then through the second game, and then the third, and even a fourth. When somebody asked if we were up for a fifth game, though, my brain finally kicked in and I was able to blurt out an emphatic "NO!!!!". I thought maybe the rest of the guys would keep playing without me, but some of them seemed relieved when I said no, and the games ended. I was in kind of a daze afterward, and to be honest, I don't remember the drive home, but I made it, and today only about 84% of my body is in total agony, which is much lower than I was expecting, so that's good.

For having a head that felt like it might explode at any moment, I can somehow say that I didn't play all that badly. I got a few rebounds, I made some nice passes, I stole the ball a couple of times, and there was even a short time that I had the hot hand on offense, making five 3-pointers in a row. That moment of glory was short-lived, though, but at least it helped me forget about my head for a while. I wonder if my head will have turned back to its normal color by the time we play again next week...

Monday, September 26, 2016

Stuff I Read

I know how to read. But that doesn't mean that I actually read all that much. I very much prefer to write instead of read. I have often heard that people who like to write are usually voracious readers. I guess that, in this facet of life, much like most of the other facets of my life, I don't do what most people do. I'm cool with that.

I do read some things, though. Some of the things that I read quite a bit are books of short stories. Specifically fly fishing or outdoor humor stories. The two authors that I read the most are John Gierach and Patrick McManus. Mr McManus' stories are very humorous; Mr. Gierach's are not supposed to be humorous, but oftentimes some humor creeps in any way. Both men are prolific writers, and I have read and re-read most of their work.

I also like to read maps and atlases. Sometimes, if I need something to read for just a few minutes, for whatever reason, I will pull out one of my many DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteers, which are map books for an individual state. I have the DeLorme Atlas for eight or more states, and looking through them helps me to relive past trips, and daydream about future ones. If there's one thing I need to do more of, it's daydream, although nobody else would probably agree with that...

You would think that, since I am a blogger, I would read a lot of other people's blogs. But, really, there are just a few that I keep up with. EddieRivardFlyFishing.blogspot.com probably is my favorite right now. Eddie writes great stories about his fly fishing adventures here and abroad, and I feel like I can live vicariously through his posts. Averagejester.blogspot.com is another fun one, and I am not just saying that because I was recently asked to write a guest blog post for it... I also read my buddy Bryon's blog, TimberOfFaith.blogspot.com, which is a faith-based outdoor blog in which he sometimes writes about our ventures outdoors. You should definitely check that out, too.

Other than that I mostly go back and re-read my own posts here on Chaotic Kids & Clutter and my fly fishing blog, The Riffle. I do that so that I can find any errors or typos I might have made, and also because I am a normal human being and I find my own life to be highly entertaining. Hopefully my readers agree...

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Champ, No More

I got soft. I got weak. I didn't practice. I didn't do what I needed to do to remain the Champ. I found out what happens when I don't do those things: I get beat, like a drum. I would like to say that I put up a good fight, at least, but that would be a lie. I got demolished. I got annihilated. It was ugly. It was no contest. I guess all I can do now is wish the new Champ the best. And offer to get him a bucket if he feels like he needs to puke...

I am talking, of course, about the eating contest we have at the Endless Shrimp festivities at Red Lobster! Every year at this time, Red Lobster offers their Endless Shrimp deal, and every year I go and eat as many shrimps as it takes for me to feel like I am just about to die, and then I stop. My record is 11 plates of shrimp, which I figure was well over 100 shrimps, and nobody I had ever gone with had ever come close to matching my feat. OK, some had come close, but nobody had ever beaten me. I figured my record would stand until long after I was dead and buried, probably from overdosing on shrimp...But, no, it didn't even last until my 43rd birthday. Oh, the shame!

Having my record broken is one thing, but having it easily broken, by two people on the same night, is another. It was slightly humiliating. If I wasn't having so much fun watching those two guys, Keith and Dave, gorge themselves, I might have even gotten a little sad. But, as it is, when I woke up this morning, I was no longer the Champ. That title has moved on to my good friend, Keith, who ate 15 plates of shrimp last night. If he ever wakes up, I'm sure he will wear that title proudly. Way to go Keith!

My friend, Adam, showing off the remnants of a plate of shrimps he had just devoured.
Just some of the carnage I created whilst stuffing my face with shrimp scampi all night.
Adam, left, and the new Champion, Keith, on the right. This photo was taken about halfway through the meal. He still  looked this alive even after he finished his 15th plate of shrimp! It was a very impressive showing.

Monday, September 12, 2016

2 Kids, 1 Bus

Our two oldest kids, the Girl and the Boy, finally started school last week. I want to write that I had been looking forward to that day since June, but that would make me sound like a bad parent, so I won't. But they did start school, and for the first time, they both rode the same bus. Last year we had three kids riding three different buses at three different times, and let me tell you, our mornings were quite chaotic, if you couldn't already imagine that. Once the Little One's school starts later this week, we still will have two different bus times, but two sounds way more fun than three.

So, last Tuesday morning, all six of us went down to the bus stop to send the two oldest kids off in style. We got there a few minutes early, just to make sure we didn't miss it. It was sprinkling, so we all huddled underneath my giant golf umbrella. We talked about all the friends they would see on the bus, just to soothe any possible nerves. We talked about all the fun stuff they would learn and do at school. It was a fun time of bonding for all of us.

Then the bus came. I was expecting a long, drawn-out, mushy goodbye. I thought the Wife might shed some tears. I thought the Girl and/or the Boy might whimper a little as they got on the bus. I thought that I might be an emotional wreck for the rest of the day as I thought about the sadness that happened that morning. But no. Both the kids ran off to the bus and didn't even look back. They were ready to start the year. They were ready to be done with us for the next 8 hours. It wasn't at all what I was expecting, but it was kind of sad, too, only in a different way...


This is what happened when the two older kids went off on their first day of school...

Friday, September 9, 2016

Pigs, Pigs, And More Pigs

Getting back to the State Fair, as I wrote about in my last post, the first animal building we went in was the Swine building. "Swine" is Latin for pigs, if you have never studied Latin. The photo below is of the biggest boar at the Fair. "Boar" is Latin for "pig dude". This one weighed something like 1400 pounds or 6 tons or some crazy number like that. Everything about this boar was enormous, as you can see from the photo. I thought about censoring the photo to hide his enormous tiddly bits which are somewhat visible on the right side of the photo, but they don't make him cover them up in person, so I guess he's not embarrassed.

Staying in the Swine building, we watched some kind of competition between much smaller pigs than the above-mentioned boar. The competition consisted of about 10 people walking around in a large pen, each one with a medium-sized swine. I believe the judges were judging the pigs, and not the people, but it was difficult to determine exactly what was happening for sure. Each person had an implement that looked kind of like an extra-long fly swatter, and they were gently swatting their pigs in their behinds and/or flanks to get them to walk around in a dazed and confused manner. Most of the pigs seemed like they would much rather be taking a nap in the corner instead of parading around in a mass of pig chaos. I took the photo of the chaos below from well outside the pen, since I didn't want to get trampled by dazed pigs. I put my money on the older gentleman in the green shirt, because I figured he was the most experienced of all the pig people and therefore he had the best chance of winning the competition, but he was a little slow, physically I mean, and wasn't able to keep up with his pig very well. That meant he (the pig) was more chaotic than the rest, so, even though it looked like he would have made a delicious slab of bacon, he did not win this competition. Oh well, I will try to win my money back at next year's sheep round-up.
We spent way more time in the Swine building than I would have ever expected. Pigs are an interesting animal, when you get right down to it. If you ever have the chance to stare at one for an extended period of time, you may be amazed what you notice. The Baby had been staring at the pig in the photo below for hours, and now she gets mad if we don't have pork chops at every meal... It's a weird deal, I tell you what.
Speaking of a weird deal, we also walked through the Poultry/Bunny building. This building is filled with rows and rows of chickens. Now, I like chickens, but even I think there are too many of them in there. But that's not the weird part. Along one wall of this building was a small stage surrounded by some aluminum seating, like you would see at a little league baseball field. These seats were filled with people, so I assumed they were there to watch some kind of chicken competition. I made a beeline to see what was going on, and so I could try to figure out which rooster I should wager on, when I noticed that all these people were looking at...nothing. There was no judging going on at all. No Barred Plymouth Rocks were on the stage. No Blue Andalusians were strutting around. There weren't even any bunnies being shown off. Nothing. I guess all these people were either really eager for the chicken judging to commence in a half hour, or they just needed a place to sit down after hoofing it all over the fairgrounds all day. Perhaps they might be on to something...

Friday, September 2, 2016

It Was a Fair Day

We made our annual trek to the Minnesota State Fair the other day. For those of you who do not live in the Fair-obsessed state of Minnesota, you may not understand how integral the Fair is to life around here. The Fair is huge, almost everyone goes, some people go multiple times during its twelve-day run, and if you don't go local people will look at you as though they are quite sure you aren't hooked up right. For several years back in my insane bachelor days, I was one of those people who didn't go. I think it made me feel like a rebel, or even a bad boy, or at least a bit aloof. But now I am married, and there is no more need for me to appear to be a bad boy, so I go, and I even look forward to it most years.
Just some of the throngs of people we had to walk through on our way from one food stand to another at the State Fair.

There are several reasons to go to the Fair, most of which include eating copious amounts of fried food, usually on a stick. I know it happened just the other day, but I am having trouble remembering all the foods I ate, but I will attempt to list them all, in order of appearance: Egg-Sausage-&-Cheese Croissant Sandwich; 2.5 free Cheddar Cheese Sticks (mine + most of the Wife's + most of the Little One's); Deep Fried Crab Fritters (these are always stupendously delicious!); Deep Fried Monte Cristo Sandwich on a Stick (the Wife and I shared this); the World's Greatest French Fries (they gave themselves that title. I think they are very good, but not so sure they are the world's greatest...); Deep Fried Popcorn Shrimp; Gyro on a Stick. I think that's it...Like I said, I may have forgotten something. If I remember it before I am done writing I will be sure to let you know.

Another reason to go to the Fair is to people watch. I can't believe how many weirdos there are out there in the world, and during the rest of the year I tend to forget. They all go to the Fair, though, so I get my annual reminder. I also can't believe how many large children get pushed around the Fair in gigantic strollers. We pushed the Baby in an umbrella stroller, but she can't walk yet. All of our other kids walked the entire day like they are supposed to, and they have for a long time, but I constantly see kids that look like they are 4-, 5- and even 6-years-old being pushed around in strollers or pulled in wagons the size of minivans. Why would a parent want to do that? Kids who are bigger than a baby are heavy! I don't get it...

A third reason to go to the Fair is to see animals, specifically farm-type animals. If you want to see as many cows, pigs, horses, sheep and chickens as you can stomach, the Minnesota State Fair is the place for you. Our kids can stomach a lot of all of those animals, so we go through all of the farm buildings. I won't go into it now, but it seems like the Swine Building is our favorite. If you like swine, and who doesn't?, make sure you read my next blog post... How do you like that awesome teaser, huh?












Monday, August 29, 2016

The Story of Our Bathrooms

I am sure you have always wanted to hear the story of our bathrooms. Well, today is your lucky day!!

We have three bathrooms in our house, but when we first moved in only two of them got used. The tiny master bath in our bedroom was used by the Wife and me, and the medium sized bathroom down the hall was used by our kids, which we only had three of at the time. The biggest bathroom in the house, which is downstairs, almost never got used, because we are your typical American family, meaning we are all too lazy to walk down the stairs.

A year ago or so, that all changed, because the shower in our tiny master bath started leaking into the basement, but thankfully our big, unused bathroom was directly below it, so nothing of value got ruined. It did mean that we had to do something about the leak, though, so of course we decided to gut our tiny master bathroom so that we could fix the problem, and re-do it to our liking. The Wife and I considered forcibly taking over the medium-sized bathroom down the hall, and kicking our kids down to the bathroom in the basement, but we decided that making a 4-year-old go all the way downstairs every night in the dark when she wakes up at 4AM to go pee might cause much undue stress on the entire family, so we opted to move ourselves down to the bathroom in the basement, and leave the kids in the medium-sized bathroom down the hall.

Now that our master bathroom has been renovated, the Wife has moved back up there. I haven't been so quick to move my stuff out of the basement bathroom, though. It's kind of fun to have my own little oasis in the basement, if I must be honest. Plus, the fan in that bathroom is nice and loud, which is a bonus on those occasions when I don't want to hear any wailing and/or screaming from the rest of the house...

I was going to continue the Story of Our Bathrooms by going into the grim details of how children don't always remember that they need to flush the toilet after going to the bathroom, and how this fact continues to surprise me even though our children are all getting older, and how I often think that they should be old enough to remember such a simple rule, and how this is just one of the many things that I never thought about before I became a parent, and how I sometimes think I should write a book about all the things that have surprised me about parenting, but this post has gone on long enough already, so I will save all that stuff for another day. Keep your eyes peeled for The Story of Our Bathrooms, Vol. 2, coming soon! Oh goody!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Too Smart to Slide?

You might think, by the title of this post, that I might be writing about the sliding that can occur during a softball or baseball game. And knowing that I love to play softball, and that two of our kids, the Girl and the Boy, are playing baseball this summer, I can see how you might think that. But you would be wrong. Oh, so wrong! As I always do on this blog, I zigged when you thought I was going to zag. My zagging when you think that I would be zigging is a normal thing around here, so you better get used to it.

My first smartphone is on its way to my house as we speak. I have mixed feelings about this. For one thing, I have a strong feeling deep within me that it isn't all that healthy to be connected to the rest of the world at all times. It's good to have some down time every day to let my brain settle down and recuperate from the day's events. Some of you probably read that and thought "Scott's brain is always in down time...", but nobody asked you, so please keep your opinions to yourself, thank you very much!
Courtesy of LG

Secondly, I am going to miss my old slide phone. I feel like it and me have forged a special bond over the years. It seemed like my old slide phone always knew exactly what I was thinking. If I wanted to write a text, it would eagerly slide open to reveal its full keyboard. I knew where all the function keys were, so I could write a lengthy and boring text to any of my friends as fast as I could, even with my eyes closed. If I wanted to call someone, it would instantly advise me to hit speed dial number 2, because it knew that I almost never called anyone except the Wife. If I would drop my poor old slide phone and all of its pieces would come exploding off, which seemed to happen more often than I would care to admit, I would gingerly put it back together, and that old slide phone would seem to look up at me and say "Thank you for putting me back together with so much love!" Yup, we have had a special bond, my old slide phone and me. It's going to be sad to send it off to retirement...

But, on the other hand, once I get my new smartphone, it will kind of be fun to be connected to the world at all times. My kids will now be able to harass me at any time, trying to get me to let them watch their favorite Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons at all times of day. If one of the kids asks me why the wolverine is my favorite animal in all of God's Green Earth, not only can I tell them that they are as fierce as can be, but now I can find a youtube video showing one ripping the guts out of a grizzly bear 6 times its size. How much fun will that be?!?

So, as you can see, I have mixed feelings about getting my new smartphone. If you want to talk about it more, perhaps I can send you a long and boring text some day.

Friday, August 5, 2016

4 Records in One Day!

You probably don't pay as close attention to world records as I do, which is good, because I am about to claim that we just broke four of them in one day, and I don't need you calling me out on it...

Yes, we broke four, count them, 4, world records in one day. When I say we, I mean me and my family, which at this point in time includes the Wife, the Girl, the Boy, the Little One, and the Baby. If the kids were writing this they would probably say that our family also includes our two annoyingly yippy dogs as well, but I don't feel that way, plus our two annoyingly yippy dogs weren't with us at the time we broke the four world records any way, so they shouldn't be included in our glory.

It all happened on Tuesday afternoon. We were on our way home to Minnesota after spending a few days in the Africa-like heat of Wichita, Kansas and Bartlesville, Oklahoma. We were in Bartlesville for our nephew's wedding, which went as smoothly as possible, at least as far as I could tell. My job at the wedding was to get the flower girl, the Girl, to the venue on time, and then sit around and eat most of the food while waiting for things to happen. I think I accomplished that quite well, thank you very much. After the wedding we then motored over to Wichita to meet our newest baby cousin, and to show off our own newest baby. Our baby cousin showed his enthusiasm for meeting us by sleeping and crying loudly, and our baby showed her excitement for meeting her cousins by throwing most of her food on their floor. Babies can be difficult to impress some times...

So, any way, we were on our way home from Wichita on Tuesday. We made our first stop just after we crossed the border into Missouri, at one of our favorite places to visit while on the road, a QuickTrip gas station. I can't tell you how many QuickTrip hot dogs I ate on this trip, only because if I did you might get physically ill... So, we stopped at the QuickTrip in Kansas City, MO, and then didn't stop again until we reached the Trails Travel Plaza in Albert Lea, MN, which is a distance of 336 miles!!! None of us set foot in the state of Iowa on our way home! It was so cool!

This amazing feat singlehandedly broke 4 world records at the same time: Longest Distance Traveled By Car W/O Stopping by A Family With A Child Under 1 Year Old; Longest Distance Traveled By Car W/O Stopping by A Family With 2+ Girls; Longest Distance Traveled By Car W/O Stopping In A Vehicle Over 15 Years Old; and Longest Distance Traveled By Car W/O Stopping In A Vehicle With 3+ Dashboard Lights On.

I am super proud of our accomplishments, mostly because our van had stalled on our first attempt to leave the QuickTrip parking lot, so I was more than a little worried that we wouldn't get home at all that day. But, the old hunk of steel came alive and performed flawlessly the rest of the day. What a great day of breaking records!


Monday, July 25, 2016

Lost! and Found...



The good news is that my Wednesday Night Church Softball League team, the Leviathan, is currently still alive in our double elimination playoff tournament. The bad news is that, after our first night of playoff games, I left my favorite little red rolling cooler behind my car as I peeled out of the parking lot to head home. That was bad, but what made it even worse was that there were still four mini Drumstick brand ice cream treats in it that I was planning on scarfing down later that night. Talk about a bummer!
I realized that the cooler was not in my car when I got home and unloaded all my softball stuff. At first I was hit by a feeling of unbelief. I knew I had put it in the back seat, so where was it? I looked everywhere, which isn’t all that large of an area when you are talking about the backseat of a 2006 Dodge Stratus… Next came a feeling of utter panic, as I tried to figure out what could have happened. Finally I became enraged, as I imagined some hooligan finding my cooler and eating all my ice cream treats. You don’t mess with me and my ice cream treats, if you know what’s good for you!

But, alas, it was already going on 11 PM, and the softball fields were 20 minutes from my house, so I decided to wait until the morning, when I could swing by the park on my way to work. Hopefully my beloved cooler would still be sitting in the parking lot, waiting for me to rescue it.

I wish I could tell you that it was, and that the ice cream treats were still frozen and that they tasted yummy as I crammed them in my mouth that morning, but I can not. There was no cooler in the parking lot when I got to the park. There were no ice cream treats. There was no evidence of my cooler at all. Apparently my cooler had been found, but by some hooligan other than me. Not to be mean or anything, but I kind of hope they choked on the ice cream treats.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fried Chicken

The Baby is turning out to be a True American, and I can't be prouder. You know how I know? Because she loves fried chicken, that's how. I am pretty sure it's her favorite food, just like it's her old man's favorite food. Sure, she's only 7-and-a-half months old, and can't talk yet, but I can tell. For one thing, she scarfs it down as fast as we can put it in front of her. Just like me! Secondly...wait, there is no second thing, it's fried chicken, of course she loves it! How could she not love it?!?!

Although she seems to like all fried chicken, just like me, she seems to prefer the fried chicken at an unlikely place, Pizza Ranch, which is also the fried chicken that I prefer. You may ask yourself, "Pizza Ranch? Don't they just serve pizza?" No. Although they do serve a lot of pizza, it is their delicious fried chicken that we go there for. Oh man, is it good. And the Baby agrees, as you can see in this photograph, in which she is stuffing her face with the fried chicken:

Now, before you accuse me of bad parenting for feeding the Baby fried chicken all the time, know that she's only had it once or twice, which is way less than I would like. She actually eats quite healthy, but who wants to write about green beans and sweet potatoes? Not this blogger, that's for sure!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Campout!

Our family loves to camp. It's in our blood. But for some reason we hadn't been camping yet this year, so last weekend we were determined to change that. But where should we go? It was the 4th of July weekend, so all of the campsites within a 7 state radius would be booked up, and we didn't make any reservations. Plus, we didn't want to go too far, since the Baby had never been camping before, so we would need to be close in case she went ballistic and we would need to make a quick getaway (I promise that we probably wouldn't have left her at the campsite if that happened...).

We could have left our pop-up camper in the driveway, but that didn't seem very rustic, so we hitched it to the back of our standard issue grey minivan that anyone with 3+ kids needs to own, and drove it the 20 or so feet out into our front yard. Voila! We were out in nature! Off of the concrete, but still close enough to the house that we could run in to use the bathroom whenever we needed to, which seems to be more and more often the older I get...
Our camper, set up in the front yard. I think most of the neighbors who drove by thought we were insane, but what else is new?

We decided to invite the kids' cousin, the Cousin, over to join us, but with her inclusion, the Wife decided that she and the Baby would stay in the house. I guess the Baby will have to have her first camping experience some other time. That was probably a good idea, because trying to get a 7-month-old to go to sleep in a small pop-up camper that is also inhabited by 4 screaming kids in the 4-to-7 year old age range is a disaster waiting to happen. It's also a disaster waiting to happen for a 42-year-old to try to go to sleep in such conditions, but somebody had to do it, so it might as well have been me. I quickly figured out that if I let the aforementioned 4-to-7 year old hooligans pass out on their own accord in the camper whilst I lounged around in the house watching TV, it is much easier on all of us. Then I could just stroll out to the camper at my leisure and fall asleep at my usual rate of about 25 seconds after my head hit the pillow. It was perfect!

Aside from sleeping in the camper, we did all the other stuff you would usually do while camping. We had a fire in the fire pit, we had delicious s'mores and/or burnt marshmallows, we got eaten alive by mosquitoes, etc., etc. It was as good as being up in the northwoods, only without the agonizing 4 hour drive. We should do this more often!



Friday, June 24, 2016

I (Am Ambivalent About) A Parade!

I've never been a big fan of parades. Even as a kid, I didn't understand the appeal of them. Why would you want to sit out on the hot pavement in the most sweltering time of the year to watch a bunch of people, horses, and dogs you don't know walk by. The whole idea always seemed a bit absurd to me, even as a child.
Mmmm, potstickers...

As I grew into my young adulthood, I still didn't get parades, but my disdain for them started to crack one day during the annual Huff 'N Puff Days parade a few years back. I was working at my part-time job at Bob Mitchell's Fly Shop, and the shop was pretty much empty because the street out front had been blocked off for the parade. With nothing better to do, I went out front to watch for a couple of minutes, and miraculously I timed it just right so that I stepped outside and got handed a skewer of delicious potstickers that the people from the Lake Elmo Inn were handing out to parade watchers. Well, I love potstickers as much as the next guy, and if they're free they're even better! That was the first time I decided that parades might not be so bad after all...

Since we have had children, the Wife and I decided that it might be fun to take them to our local parade every summer, so we have been doing that for several years now, and I have to admit that it's kind of fun. The kids love to see all the different floats, and they love the horses, and they think it's fun to watch the people with the big shovels walking behind the horses. Oh, and I can't forget that they love getting the candy that gets thrown out to the crowds! For me, it's a lot of fun to see how much fun the kids are having. I might even say that I have become a fan of parades, if I got right down to the nitty gritty of it...

So, this all leads up to this past Tuesday night, when we had a chance to actually be in a parade. The kids were excited, the Wife was excited, and yes, even I was a little excited to march in a parade for the first time. We were going to be marching with a group of people from several churches in our area, and handing out candy to the kids along the route. I would have to leave with the two older kids, the Girl and the Boy, before the parade finished, because they had somewhere to be, but I figured we'd still be able to walk several blocks and hand out loads of candy before leaving. We got there in plenty of time, and stationed ourselves on the corner of the street the parade started on. We then proceeded to wait, and wait, for our turn to start. While waiting, we got the chance to learn some of the ins and outs of how a parade works, especially how nobody is ready to start when it's their turn...

Eventually we got to start walking about three minutes before we had to leave, so the Girl, the Boy and I pretty much threw all our candy as fast as we could, and then at the end of the first block we took a left and hoofed it back to our car. I am happy to say that my expert driving ability got us to where we needed to be with about 12 seconds to spare, and I even managed to sneak a bag of Gummi Bears for both the kids from the parade. I'm not going to say what I sneaked for myself... I wish it was more potstickers!