Saturday, July 28, 2007

General Foo

I've experienced a lull of "blogging inspiration" this week. Sometimes you just need to take a bit of a breather. And sometimes life is just plain boring. I think this week was a mixture of the two. In an attempt to write myself out of this funk, some random snippets:


OK. I admit it. My last public rant against my beloved Cubs two-and-a-half months ago was a little premature. They are the hottest team in baseball over the past month and are now only 2 1/2 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central. They've lost two straight though, and while I know it's not time to panic, I'd much prefer them not to do that anymore. They just need to keep winning series to keep pressure on the young Brewers. Hopefully, we'll get a shot at the post-season.

I hope I didn't jinx them with this post.



The monsoon unleashed its full fury on Tucson today. Of course it waited until I was on my way into work, where I discovered that if it rains hard enough, the roof of my convertible leaks! Right into the driver's seat! My ass was soaked before I even got to work! Monsoon storms are usually 10-15 minute downpours that clear up shortly thereafter. It's been raining for 3 hours straight with no relief in sight. Tucson is going to get washed off the map.

I arrived at work in about the fifteenth minute of the storm. A couple more minutes and this'll be over, I thought. After sitting in my wet seat for another five minutes, I came to the realization that it wasn't going to let up anytime soon. So I made a break for it. It wouldn't have been so bad had there not been a raging river running through the middle of the parking lot. And it was too wide to jump. So I stood there in the pouring rain measuring where the best place to jump might be. There was none. My best hope was to plant one foot in the middle of the river and clear the rest. Better to enter into work with one soaker than two (that's what I always say), so that's what I did.

When I finally got through the door, I looked like I had run through a waterfall: a waterfall that concentrated all of its natural force on my ass and right foot. And now I get to sit in a control room where the climate is a carefully-monitored and balmy 68 degrees. I should be experiencing full-blown pneumonia by the 5:00 newscast.

I hope you're having a good Saturday.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bring on the Monsoon!

It's a meteorologist's wet dream: the monsoon. The rainy season finally hit Tucson with a fury last week, and as a result, we've been cutting in to your favorite TV programming to bring you "Breaking Severe Weather Updates" and covering up the bottom quarter of your TV screen with that annoying weather crawl telling you to stay indoors. Duh. Sorry about that. The truth of the matter is that during the monsoon, we can pretty much expect that severe weather is on its way, every day. Go drive in it at your own risk.

I have to laugh at the whole thing. I grew up in the Midwest, which, when I think about it, had the most eclectic mix of weather. In the summertime, we could have a calm shower followed by a raging thunderstorm accompanied by tornadoes. I spent many summer evenings in my basement as a kid, listening to the weather radio and praying to God for the expiration of the current tornado warning. Ah, those were GOOD times. Then winter could bring a gentle snowfall, or it could blind you with near blizzard conditions, sleet, and freezing rain (which IS different than sleet). In the Midwest, you never quite knew what you were going to get when the clouds began to build, therefore making it prudent to pay attention to the various weather cut-ins and crawls displayed on the TV or broadcast on the radio.

Here in the desert Southwest, everything is extreme and my motto since taking up residence here has become "Everything can kill you". From the piercing desert sun to that spiky plant to that seemingly cute and fluffy animal, everything can rip your face right off. Wildlife and vegetation struggle to adapt in the severe desert conditions from the brutality of the desert sun to the brutality of desert storms, and I'm not talking about the liberation of Kuwait. There is no such thing as a "gentle summer rain" here in the desert. Showers are nearly always accompanied by high winds, awesome lightning displays and knee-buckling crashes of thunder. So I laugh when the meteorologists at the station get all hopped up about severe weather because weather here is ALWAYS severe. If you look up in the sky and see cloud formations heading your way, seek shelter because you're in for a storm!

And what cracks me up is that whenever it starts to rain, everyone (me included) runs to the windows or doors to watch. We're so used to sunshine that it's a novelty to see it rain. And blow. And storm. I love the monsoon. It's new, different, exciting, and a little dangerous. So please excuse all the programming interruptions. Our meteorologists are just a little excited to get to report on something different than sunshine and intense heat, and rightfully so. In another month we'll return you to your regularly scheduled programming...without interruption.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An Old Pueblo Night on the Town

"So how was it?" Kyra popped, coming out a dead sleep and scaring me nearly half to death. I had just settled into bed next to her to wake her up for school when she startled me. She apparently doesn't need as much coaxing to wake up as Kailey.

"How was what?"

"Your DA-ATE!"

Diane and I finally went out the other night to celebrate our anniversary and Kyra wanted the details. So
I braced myself for the early morning inquisition.

"It was good. We had fun."

"Did you see a movie?"


"Which one?"

"It's called Knocked Up."

"What's knocked up mean?"

"It's another way to say that someone is pregnant. The movie was about a lady who was having a baby."

"Oh. Was it a funny movie?"

"Yes. I laughed. A lot."

"What was your favorite part."

"I can't tell you because most of the movie was not at all appropriate for children. It was a movie for adu-, er, grown ups."


"But there was one part where this guy walked in on the woman while she was having her baby, and she screamed 'GET OUT', and he saw the baby coming out and almost tossed his cookies. That was pretty funny."

"Hee hee hee hee hee...that is funny. Did you go out for dinner?"

"Yes we did."


"Terra Cotta."

"What did you eat?"

"Steak and asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes."

"What did Mommy eat?"

"She got the Mixed Grill which had a little bit of steak, a little bit of salmon, and a little bit of chicken tortilla casserole."

"Was it good?"

"It was delicious."


"Yes, Sweetie."

giggle, giggle, giggle "Did you kiss Mommy?"

"Yes I did."


"Time to get ready for school!"

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sweet Sixteen

On this day sixteen years ago, I stood before my beautiful bride and vowed before God, friends, and family to be a loving and faithful husband;

in plenty and in want,

in joy and in sorrow,

in sickness and in health,

as long as we both shall live.

I promised to love my beautiful bride,

to honor her,

to cherish her,

to obey her,

and to protect her.

And today, sixteen years later, though I know I've fallen woefully short on my promises at times, possibly in the, ahem, obedience department, I don't regret them a bit. Happy Sixteenth, hon. I can think of nothing better than sharing this life with you.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Just My Luck

Last week I came across an opportunity to win concert tickets to a Guster/Toad the Wet Sprocket concert in Costa Mesa, CA. Where Costa Mesa was, I had no idea. I figured it was probably located within the mass of humanity surrounding Los Angeles, roughly an eight hour drive from Tucson. The concert is next Wednesday night, July 25th. I have to work that day. And Thursday. The likelihood of me being able to attend the concert was close to nil. Since I've never won a single thing in my life, I figured what the hey, and threw my name into the proverbial "hat".

I like Guster, but I'm a big Toad fan. It's weird, I enjoyed their radio hits in mid/late 90's, but it's only been in the last couple of years that I discovered their full repertoire. And since that time, I always find myself coming back to Toad. I have a million songs on my Zune, and I'm constantly downloading new artists and listening to new music, expanding my musical horizons, but Toad has become a sort of "comfort food" for me. I don't know why. There's nothing flashy about them. They are just a solid pop/rock band. Last summer they began touring as a band again, and I kept a tight watch on their tour schedule to see if they would be making any stops in Arizona. They didn't. The closest they came was California. So I guess I went a little out of my mind when they were offering a contest for free tickets. Though the cards were stacked against my being able to go to the concert, I entered anyway.

I won.


Awwwww CRAP!!

Yesterday I received an e-mail confirming that I was the contest winner. So now I'm trying to figure out if I can finagle my way to Costa Mesa for a couple of days next week to see one of my favorite bands in concert. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Should've Known Better

If I would operate under the premise that my wife knows what the hell she's doing, my life would be a lot easier and less of frustration at times. But I don't, so I blog.

Yesterday afternoon, I turned off the TV. The girls were home from school and had spent about an hour unwinding in front of the boob tube when I decided to be proactive and initiate a little daddy-daughters time. I went to the "game closet", which is actually a free-for-all junk closet where we happen to keep all of our board games, to see what we could play together. As I scanned the stacks of games, my eyes fell on a small tin box that I've never seen, or noticed, before. It was a Cranium card game called Matching Madness. I browsed the directions and it looked like it could be fun, so I took it out to the girls to see what they thought. Their faces brightened as I asked them if they had played the game before. "Yeah, we played it with Mommy. It's REALLY FUN."

Cool! Looks like we have a winner, I thought as we settled in on the floor for a game. Kyra gave me the rundown of the rules of the game as I shuffled the deck of cards, only her version of the rules were COMPLETELY different than the rules I recently read. Being the law and rule-abiding citizen I am, I reinstructed the girls on the rules of the game. Matching Madness was designed to be a fast-paced card game where the first person to play their card is the winner. The way the girls played the game with their Mommy took the fast pace, the very competition, out of the game. Mommy is not an idiot. Daddy is. Mommy understands that the girls don't compete well with one another. Daddy also understands this, but chooses to ignore that little tidbit of information.

So the game begins. Kyra, being the youngest and slowest on the draw, is getting slaughtered and is NOT having fun. I kept trying to encourage her not to give up and reminded her this was a GAME and that we were trying to have FUN. I then threw a bunch of hands so that Kyra could win. She won a couple of hands but was still in full pout mode when we came to a hand where Kailey had run out of a color that was in play. "I don't have any yellow!" she cried and then fled from the room, bawling her head off.


Thankfully, I was able to contain that little outburst
to confines of my head (a slightly altered version to what was actually going on there), and I coaxed Kailey back into the room and promised them that we would scrap our current game, the way the game SHOULD be played, and play it Mommy's way. But the damage been done, and Matching Madness was a goner, going up in flames. So to make it up to them I agreed to play my favorite game in the whole wide world, Hide-n-Seek.

Incidentally, Cranium no longer makes Matching Madness. It's not listed on their website, it's not available in any online toy stores that I could find, and the only link I could find for it was on eBay (did you notice?)...for $3. Shocker. Stupid, piece of crap game. I'd much rather place the blame on the game and not on the fact that I overlooked the temperament of my girls and the ferocity of their sibling rivalry. Truth is, we need to place Cranium's Matching Madness back on the shelf of the "game closet" and let it gather dust there until the girls are emotionally mature enough to handle losing to one another. Because I just can't bring myself to play it Mommy's way.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Battered Randomness

A smattering of events in the past 48 hours:

Oh No...Not Another One

I hate that I watch reality TV, and even more, I hate ADMITTING that I watch reality TV. It's like driving by the scene of an accident: you really don't want to see the blood and gore, but you can't help but rubberneck as you drive by. I blame Diane. She's a reality TV junkie. Quick, somebody organize an intervention. Current shows that we watch fairly regularly are Top Chef, Little People, Big World, Dog: The Bounty Hunter, and Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. You have no idea how painful this is for me. Please bear with me as I cleanse my conscience as well as my soul.

Sunday night we added a new show to the list (please forgive me, Lord): Scott Baio is 45...and Single. What's worse is that we stayed up until 11:30 to watch it when we knew we had to get up EARLY the next day to get the girls off to school. Scott (don't call him Chachi) has hired a life coach to help him get through his mid-life crisis, and we get to ride along as he tracks down old girl friends who confront him and tell him EXACTLY what's wrong with him. It's too delicious to pass up! I need serious counseling.

Reading is Fun

Kailey picked this book to read last night before bedtime, and we had a lot of fun with it. The book is Smelly Socks, by Robert Munsch, and it chronicles the adventures of Tina who vows to "...NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER...take them off." You can just imagine some of the chaos that ensues. Kailey and I shared several laughs as we read the story and enjoyed Michael Martchenko's illustrations. Several of the illustrations totally cracked us up prompting Kyra to yell from the other room, "Hey! Keep it down!" If you're looking for a good, slightly gross book to share with your kids, give this a shot.

Life as a Not-So-Handy Handyman

I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon, OK, ALL of yesterday afternoon repairing the leaky shower head in our master bath. Since I usually have no idea of how to fix stuff, and I'm too prideful to call my father-in-law to come over and fix it, I jump on the computer and surf the net to read various do-it-yourself articles until I'm sufficiently satisfied that I won't completely screw up the house by venturing out on my own to do the job.

Two trips to Ace Hardware, two faucet cartridge installs, and several hours later, the repair was complete and the shower head no longer leaks. I ROCK! Sorta. If I would have followed some of the instructions I read online I would have been done much, much quicker. I stretched what should have been a 20 minute repair into a couple of hours. Oh well, live and learn. No sooner had I finished my shower head repair than I noticed one of the zones in our backyard sprinkler system wasn't working. I guess a handyman's job is never done.

Happy Tuesday.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Back to School

No, I'm not talking about Back to School sales or getting ready for Back to School or even the Rodney Dangerfield movie, Back to School...this morning, the girls are officially Back IN School. WOOHOO!

Their school district functions on more of a year-round schedule, which I think makes sense here in Southern AZ. Who needs a 12 week summer vacation in 104 degree heat? The girls enjoy a six week summer vacation, then three weeks in early October, two weeks at Christmas, and three weeks in the spring. Vacation time is spread throughout the year and it's nice to be free to take take some vacation time outside of summer.

So this morning we (and by "we" I mean Diane) shook the girls awake a little after 6:00 to begin the morning routine. Kailey and Kyra love school, so today wasn't much of a problem getting them motivated. They were excited about their new classes, new teachers, and reuniting with old friends. Kyra cracked me up with a happy little High School Musical-esque ditty she made up: "I can't believe I'm going to school today..." They put on their new school clothes, packed their new backpacks, posed for the obligatory first-day-of-school photo op, and then we were on our way.

The first day of school is a madhouse. EVERY parent feels the need to accompany their child INTO school. The parking lot is overflowing as are the streets, so we decided to walk the girls to school to avoid the clutter. This year was no different and we were glad we abandoned the cars at home. We walked Kailey to her section of the school and I was fully prepared to drop her off at the gate when we noticed parents walking their 8, 9, 10, and 11 year-olds into the playground. So we followed suit. Kailey was fine on her own, though, as I knew she would be, and she soon left us behind. We waved goodbye, then twisted our way through the maddening crowd of harried parents and children toward Kyra's classroom.

I was surprised to see that the side of the school that housed the younger grade classrooms seemed to have fewer parents and less craziness than the older side. Perhaps that was because everyone was standing around waiting for the bell to ring. Anyway, we met Kyra's teacher (who was Kailey's first grade teacher), talked to her for a moment, gave Kyra a hug goodbye, and skipped our way off of the school grounds. FREEDOM!!

So what did we do with our newfound freedom? Diane and I went on a brisk walk around the neighborhood, came home, flipped on Regis & Kelly and promptly fell asleep. Oh well, we have the rest of the school year to be productive.

I Can See Clearly Now

Every once in a while, I have an epiphany. OK, every once in a GREAT while. I don't know whether it's because the stars are perfectly aligned or just something I ingested, but when it happens, I feel stupid because it seems as though what has been unveiled from my limited understanding is so obvious that I can't believe I didn't see it before.

Tonight I had an epiphany.

I was doing the dishes. But I don't think that had anything to do my epiphany. At least I hope not because I hate doing the dishes almost as much as I hate doing pinks. And I would hate to think that my epiphanies are directly linked to doing something I hate. That would suck. So I'm doing the dishes AND listening to Diane talk to her sister on the phone. I do like eavesdropping, so hopefully that's linked to my epiphanies, but probably not. I'm done trying to discover my epiphany trigger, I promise.

My sister-in-law is single and has a less than stellar track record in the relationship department, which really stinks because I believe that she's an amazing person. So while she was visiting last week, Diane decided she was going to hook her up on No more talking to guys in bars or receiving unwanted advances at the airport or the grocery store. This way she could at least investigate some relatively normal men and communicate with them before deciding to meet them. I guess she had thought about registering at eHarmony, but felt weird about filling out all of the questionnaires. Tired of her sister's lame excuses, Diane took action and decided to register for her. Talk about the blind leading the blind. What these two don't know about computers and the internet could fill a set of Collier's encyclopedias, God bless 'em. But where my wife lacks in computer knowledge, she makes up in initiative, and she set herself to the task of creating an eHarmony account for her beloved sis.

Since deciding to do this for her sister, Diane has been on the computer for TWO DAYS STRAIGHT. No, she's not stupid. It didn't take her that long to set up the account. She did give me a call at work last night to get help uploading a picture, but other than that, she did all the work herself. But now that she's set up the account, she's been checking out the guys that are "compatible" with Debbie, then calling her and scrolling through the list of possible suitors with her FOR HOURS. Before this dating service fiasco began, the longest Diane spent on ANY computer outside of work is TEN MINUTES, usually to read my lame blog to make sure I'm not libeling her or the girls.

So what happened? Enter my epiphany. Hello.

So I'm standing there washing my dishes and listening to these two women dish on the different guys that have been matched to Deb's account when I remembered something I heard several years ago about how to get women involved in something they're not naturally inclined toward. In this particular case, it was sports. It was just before the Super Bowl and there was a discussion on how to get your wife more interested in watching the game. For guys, there's bone-crushing hits, receivers going long, fast play, violence, cheerleaders...what's not to like? But since women tend to be more relationship-oriented, it was suggested that husbands should talk to their wives about the PLAYERS to get them more interested about the game. "See that guy? His name is Jim Kelly (like I said, I heard this years ago). He has a son with an extremely rare disease, so he spends much of his time in the off-season raising awareness and funds for research. That guy on the other team? He just cheated on his wife and left her with the kids. He deserves to get crushed." Blah, blah, blah. To a certain extent (in our case), it worked.

So what was the impetus for Diane's new interest in computers? RELATIONSHIPS! She went from a computer illiterate to a, well, slightly LESS computer illiterate because she wants to help get her sister a man! I've been trying to get Diane more interested in learning about computers for years! Little did I know that I would need to start a dating service to rouse her interest. Now I can't get her OFF the computer. I practically had to wrestle her out of the chair just so I could type this entry. OK that's not true, but earlier she JOKED that we would have to wrestle over computer time.

Wait. I think I just had another epiphany. I'm not sure how in love I am with the idea of my wife spending hours on the computer looking at other men "for her sister".

Epiphanies suck.

My New Weekly Ritual

"I'm not stupid...I'm an idiot!"

This was recently quoted to me by one of my co-workers, and it's been banging around in my head all week long. He basically was commenting on how he didn't lack the mental fortitude to analyze information or situations and come to a rational conclusion (i.e. being "not stupid"), but rather lacked the moral fortitude to do the sensible thing with that information (i.e. being "an idiot"). He's going through some relationship issues which would make idiots out of most of us.

I think this is going to become my new mantra. Say it with me: "I'M NOT STUPID...I'M AN IDIOT!" Case in point, my new weekly ritual. For the past few weeks, I've been watching movies on Saturday nights. Well that's not so bad, you might say. Only "Saturday nights" are really "Sunday mornings". I've been staying up until 3 am watching "stupid" movies (Diane says they're "stupid". I say they're "stupid AWESOME").

I am a Dad, and Sundays are family day. It's the one day of the week where our family is able to spend the whole day together, yet I stay up until 3 am the morning before. That makes me an idiot. I don't care. It seems like that's the only time of the day where I get to watch what I want to watch. No Toon Disney. No Cartoon Network. And as long as it doesn't inhibit me from fully engaging in family day, I'm gonna keep doing it.

My new movie ritual began a couple of weeks ago with Braveheart. I think it was on Bravo, but what do I know; it was frickin' 2 o'clock in the morning. I was flipping through channels when I came across Mel Gibson rallying the Scotsmen for the first major battle scene of the movie. I've seen Braveheart hundreds of times, but I watched it anyway.

Last week's movie was The Dirty Dozen with Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, Telly Savalas, and a very young Donald Sutherland. And last night I watched Paul Newman's 1977 hockey classic, Slap Shot. It's been probably 20 years since I saw this movie, and it did not disappoint. Slap Shot isn't so much a hockey movie as it is a fighting movie. As the old saying goes, "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out." That's Slap Shot in a nutshell. My favorite scene in the movie is when the nerdy trio of Hanson brothers finally get their chance to play and hit the ice for the first time. They are hell on ice, chucking guys into the boards, low-sticking the refs, and high-sticking their opponents. All three are ejected after a couple minutes of play and exit the ice to thunderous applause. I had to stifle my laughter for fear of waking up the house. I may be an idiot, but at least I'm considerate. That rhymes.

So here's the considerate idiot looking forward to next week's movie.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

When Stuff Slips Through the Cracks

Continuing with the cleaning theme of a couple days ago, I need to preface this entry by saying that we are not complete slobs. I will also preface this entry with an explanation for what I am about to show you, and it is simply this: life tends to be busy and fast paced. We do have a regular cleaning schedule (sort of), but it is usually limited to what is SEEN. Great periods of time can pass by before we get around to cleaning the UNSEEN: e.g. the top of the fridge, behind the TV stands, under the beds, and, um, under the couch cushions. Forget about dust-bunnies; we're breeding full fledged dust-warthogs in some of these areas.

You may recall that we recently bribed the girls into collecting an allowance. The other day, Kyra was performing her duties vacuuming in the living room while I took a shower. I was toweling off when she burst into the bathroom. I really need to start locking the door. "Daddy, I have a surprise to show you!" she sang.

"I'll be there in a minute!" I sang back.

She turned to leave, pulling the door closed behind her when she wheeled around and thrust her face into the crack of the door. "By the way," she informed me through a toothless grin, "I saw your privates." And with that she disappeared. The girls have a disturbing infatuation with seeing my privates. I need to find a way to remedy that. They need to know that male genitalia is a bad, bad, bad, bad thing, and should be avoided until they're 30 or so. Maybe 40. Actually until after I'm dead.

So I dry off, throw on some shorts, and head out to the family room fully expecting Kyra to show me an amazingly clean room. Instead I walk in to find her and Diane standing in the middle of a floor littered with cushions from the couch and love seat. One half of the couch had a blanket draped over it. Kyra's face lit up when I walked into the room. She grabbed a corner of the blanket and, in her best David Copperfield impersonation, yanked the blanket away to reveal what hid underneath. "TA-DAAA!!!"

Please don't judge me for what I'm about to show you.

Go ahead, click on the picture and investigate what's been hiding out on the lam underneath our couch cushions. There are candy wrappers, pencils, a back scratcher, a pair of scissors (I wondered what happened to them), loose change, hair scrunchies, and various other crap. Initially I was shocked at the sight underneath the blanket. How could we let it get this bad? Then I did what any rational, responsible adult would do in this situation: I ran to get the camera. Diane was horrified. "You're not going to post this on your blog, are you? It's so embarrassing!" She knows me too well.

So before you cast judgment on us, take a look under YOUR couch cushions. If there's less crap (and you have at least two children under the age of 8), then JUDGE AWAY!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I Hate Pinks

I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but I've become the de facto laundry-doer in our household. That's not to say that Diane doesn't contribute in this department; it's just that she deals with clothing at her "day job" and on a "subconscious level" avoids dealing with clothing at home, if at all possible. So the chore of laundering our garments falls into my hands, which is fine. Laundry is simply one of those necessary evils in life: the job that's NEVER done.

I have my laundry routine down to a science. Perhaps that's another reason why I've become Laundry-King of our household. I sort our clothes into six piles, yes, six. First I have the traditional dark and light piles. Then I have separate dark and light sock and underwear piles which I wash in hot water. It's underwear, people. Lord only knows what's growing in there, and I want them DEAD (the things growing in the underwear, not the underwear themselves...they're already dead). I also have a black pile since black is the only color Diane will wear. No, she's not a Goth and she doesn't have a fixation with death; she just likes black. And trying to get Diane to wear color is like asking Sunni's and Shiite's to get along: it's just not going to happen no matter how hard you try.

Because I have two young daughters, the last pile I sort is pinks. Sure there is an occasional purple or even an orange that sneaks into this pile, but for the most part, this is a big, heaping pile of pink. I hate doing pinks. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. Not because they're pink, but because of what's CAKED ON the pinks. As precious as my girls are to me, they do I put this gently...messy.

The pinks are the most laborious of my laundry loads. I have to inspect each article of clothing, searching for food stains (usually chocolate or ketchup), grass stains, dirt stains, or "what the hell is that?" stains. Then I pull out my faithful bottle of Shout and go to work. But it's not enough to merely SPRAY the stain; you have to work the Shout into the stain, vigorously rubbing the fabric together so that the cleaning agents can penetrate to the very heart of the stain. I do this with EVERY ARTICLE OF CLOTHING belonging to my beloved daughters and it takes frickin' FOREVER. And no matter how meticulous I am in inspecting their clothes for stains, I always seem to miss one smudge of chocolate or a dollop of spaghetti sauce hiding in an inconspicuous location. Always. It's maddening. I mean, how in the world do you get food stains in your armpit?

I can't wait for the day both girls to outgrow their affection for pink. Not that the color pink is necessarily the problem. I just now associate that color with food stains and the smell of Shout. I'm like Pavlov's dog: every time I see the color pink, I get the urge to clean. One possible solution is to reintroduce the girls to a handy little gadget called a bib. Yeah, like that'd go over well. The REAL solution is for me to shut up and and grab the Shout.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Has It Really Been That Long?

My best friend from high school called last week to inform me that our twenty year reunion had been scheduled for the end of September. Twenty years. Ho-ly cow. I know I'm not the first person in the history of humanity to ask the question, "Where did the time go?" but it feels unique to me. I can't be twenty years older. My body may feel the effects of nearly 40 years on earth, but in my mind I'm still a spry 25.

I haven't attended any of my previous reunions for various reasons. Either the timing was bad, I had a conflict in scheduling, or was simply disinterested. But there's something different about the twenty year reunion, and I've experienced a change in attitude. I recently reconnected with my best friend from high school after over ten years, and we've kept in good contact since then. Now I'm genuinely interested in returning home and catching up with several of my classmates. Perhaps that's the difference between being 25 and nearly 40. The 25 year-old is in process of establishing himself in life and is inwardly focused, while the 40 year-old has gained a little more perspective and is more able to see the big picture, focusing on things that are truly important like friends and family. At least I hope this is the case.

I don't think I'm going to be able to attend my 20 year reunion, and for the first time in my high school reunion history, I'm bummed. We already have vacation planned the week before, and I'm not sure that I can swing the tight turnaround. I'm looking into the options, but it's not looking good. It sounds like things fell through the cracks in the organization of the 20 year reunion, but should be more in line for the 25 year, so perhaps we'll shoot for that.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I Hope This Lasts

Well, we finally did it.

Actually, Diane finally did it. I'm gleefully tagging along for the ride. She finally got sick enough of constantly cleaning the house only to have it completely destroyed mere minutes later that she put together an allowance list. That's right, we've stooped to the realm of bribery and cheap child labor, appealing to the greed of our children in order to keep a clean home. Or, for those who prefer a positive spin on the situation, we're teaching our girls the values of hard work and personal responsibility, as well as the lost art of earning and saving money. Yeah, yeah, yeah...those things will hopefully sink in to their rapidly developing brains, but right now we're more concerned about not breaking our necks after stepping on a strategically placed Happy Meal toy.

Kailey and Kyra each have their own lists for the week. And each list is not limited to the usual daily/weekly chores. They also contain duties concerning personal hygeine, personal development, and the attitudes in which the duties are completed. We're going to experiment and see how far we can stretch this sucker. For instance, will the promise of monetary compensation be enough of a motivator for the girls to "be nice to one another"? Probably not. But we're going to try it anyway, though we haven't worked out the finer details of how much we'll dock the girls for being turds to each other. Now that I mention it, we haven't really decided how much we'll reward them either. No matter. That'll come.

So far our dastardly plan is coming along swimmingly. The house has been clutter-free, the girls' rooms no longer resemble obstacle courses, and the fresh scent of Pine-Sol permeates the air. One of Kailey's weekly assignments has been to mop the tile floor in the kitchen. She's so desperate for cash (not really...she's loaded) that she opted to mop DAILY. I started to tell her that she only had to do it once per week before Diane shushed me. "Don't discourage her," she chided. "If she wants to mop every day, let her." Okie-dokie!

The real question will be how long we can keep up this ruse. How long will the weekly promise of cold, hard, petty cash motivate them to become domestic goddesses? That remains to be seen, but so far, so good.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Just Another Entry in the Journal of Bad Parenting

Kyra woke me up yesterday morning, which is not unusual since she wakes me up EVERY morning, usually by rushing into our bathroom and slamming and locking the bathroom door. Why she needs to lock the door is a mystery. I guess she likes her privacy. Yesterday was different though as she shook me awake bristling with excitement. "Daddy, I'm going to pull another tooth!"

I wasn't sure she had any teeth left in her head to pull. It seems like every other day one of the girls is walking around sporting a bloody Kleenex and a fresh gap in her teeth. It's a little maddening. I asked Kyra if she even had a loose tooth. "Yes! Look!" she said, thrusting her opened mouth within an inch of my face and wiggling her remaining top front tooth. And with a maniacal cackle, she fled the room. I turned over, flipped my pillow to the cool side, and made a vain attempt to return to sleep. Two minutes later Kyra returned, head down, lower lip puffed out, tail between legs. Kyra is susceptible to severe mood swings. It makes me kind of concerned for her future. "It won't come out," she pouted. I consoled her and gave her the old "keep wiggling it" pep talk then sent her on her way.

We didn't hear anything more about the loose tooth until lunchtime when, out of the blue, Kyra punctured the silence: "WHERE IS IT!!" She darted around the room screaming, looking under couch pillows, and scanning the floor.

"Where is what?" we asked, thoroughly confused.

"MY TOOTH!!" she bellowed as she pointed to the newly acquired hole in her head. "I WENT TO WIGGLE IT, AND IT WASN'T THERE!!" Surely enough, the loose tooth gave up without a struggle, and not an ounce of blood was shed. I also noticed a pronounced lisp as she explained her situation. Without missing a beat, the rest of us began combing the family room for the missing tooth. Diane and Kailey pulled the bottom cushion off of the love seat and investigated the long lost kernels of popcorn and other miscellaneous pieces of crap that congregate under the cushion to see if the missing tooth was hiding among them. Kyra did the same with the couch. I scoured the floor for a moment before making my way over to the kitchen sink to inspect Kyra's lunch plate. Sure enough, mixed in with the remaining crumbs of Kyra's lunch and garnished with just a touch of tomato sauce (or was that ketchup?), sat Kyra's tooth.

I've never cheered for a more disgusting sight in all my life.

Fast-forward to this morning. Kyra woke both of us up,
head down, lower lip puffed out, tail between legs. "The tooth fairy didn't come last night."


"Well did you write her a note?" Diane asked groggily. I've got to hand it to my wife, she's quick on her feet and able to pull BS out of her nether regions even while half asleep. I fell in love with her all over again, morning breath and all.

"Noooo," Kyra whined.

"Well, we'll have to work on that today. She'll come. Don't worry."

Kyra seemed somewhat satisfied with Diane's response, so she continued with her morning routine by slamming and locking our bathroom door for her morning pee pee.

OK, we suck. I get that. But in our defense, we had a very busy night last night entertaining Diane's family and throwing a birthday party for our sister-in-law. We baked five pizzas...from scratch! And did I mention that we decorated for a birthday party? We were busy, busy, busy. Cooking, cleaning, decorating, eating, cleaning, partying. After the family left, we bathed the girls and didn't get them to bed until 9:30. We were tired.

And we were a little traumatized, too. At around 10:00, Diane decided to put together a batch of margaritas, but discovered shortly after mixing the necessary ingredients that we had no ice. NO ICE!! We used it all at the birthday party! All of our ice was gone! Gone, I tell you! So Diane and I stood at the opened freezer door and stared at the ice maker willing it to produce some ice. It didn't work. So we nursed ice-less margaritas until Diane heard the water turn on about a half-hour later. I rushed to the freezer, collected the ten or so precious cubes of frozen H20, and deposited them into our warm drinks.

We finished our drinks and went to bed, and never gave Kyra's tooth fairy pillow a second thought. We were tired and traumatized, and maybe a little toasted, so I guess when it comes right down to it, yes, we're bad parents. We'll pay though. Literally. I'm sure that when the tooth fairy comes tonight, she'll be leaving Kyra a fresh, crisp Ben Franklin to make up for all her troubles. I think I need another margarita, warm or otherwise.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Camping In

The girls have recently discovered the joys of "camping out"...inside the house. They've always enjoyed building tents out of blankets and pillows, then their aunt Debbie bought them real pup tents a couple of years ago which led to a period of indoor camping. It's amazing how much space a couple of pup tents occupy when set up in the family room.

Well aunt Debbie struck again a few weeks back when the girls made the trip up to the Northwest with Grammy and Papa to visit her in her new condo. Since space and sleeping arrangements was an issue, she bought the girls these Disney Princess air mattress/sleeping bag combos. They're actually pretty cool. You inflate the air mattress then slip the sleeping bag over the top. The sleeping bag stays in place and you don't have to worry about sliding off of the air mattress. I've got to hand it to aunt Debbie: she is the giver of cool gifts.

The girls brought the mattresses home after their trip, and they weren't much of an issue until this week when Diane's brother and his family came to town. He has two boys roughly the girls' age and at some point someone came up the idea of doing sleepovers. One of the girls would spend the night at Grammy and Papa's house and one of the boys would come home with us, then the next night we'd switch. Great plan.

Out came the air mattress/sleeping bag combos, and they worked great. My youngest nephew, who's four, made a little macho fuss over sleeping in a "girls bed", but that didn't last long. Both sleepover nights were huge successes. But now we can't get the girls to sleep in their own beds! They've taken turns sleeping in each others' rooms and have been putting up a fuss about sleeping in their perfectly good beds. So we've decided to put the kibosh on this recent trend before it gets out of hand.

And believe me, I know from personal experience how out of hand it can get. When I was about 11, my brother and I saw the movie Alien. It was a Sunday night and we were at my Dad's place. He let us stay a little later before dropping us off at home so we could watch the Sunday night premiere of Alien on HBO. So we "watched" the movie (mostly through our fingertips), it scared the mother-junkies out of us, and my Dad took us home in time for us to get into bed because Monday, as it turned out, was a school day. I slept not a frickin' wink. My brother slept not a frickin' wink either. We spent the better part of three months taking turns sleeping in a sleeping bag, sans air mattress, on the hard floor of each others' room, well aware of the fact that monsters materialize UNDERNEATH the bed, making the unfortunate floor-dweller of that particular evening easy fodder. But I guess we figured that getting eaten together was better than getting eaten alone. And unlike the poor fools in Alien, we weren't in space where no one can hear you scream, so we persisted in our nightly ritual. And I wonder where the girls get some of their nervous, paranoid tendencies. Mystery solved.

So we packed the air mattresses away. It's only a matter of time until I do something stupid like let them watch a movie that they're too young to see and that scares the mother-junkies out of them. Then history will repeat itself. At least they'll have comfy air mattresses to sleep on.


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