Thursday, May 29, 2008

To Kill A Mockingbird

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been, let's see, never since my last confession (I'm not Catholic), but I really need to get this off my chest. You see, I have murder in my heart.

No,'s nothing like that, although I wouldn't mind roughing up that jerk that cut me off the other day. I guess I need to confess that too, huh? But I digress. I feel kind of stupid admitting this, so I'm just going to say it. I want to kill a bird. A mockingbird. And since Atticus Finch told his kids, Jeb and Scout, that it was a sin to kill a mockingbird, I figured I'd better come clean before this business got completely out of hand.

Normally I have nothing but admiration and respect for all of God's creatures, except pigeons (I'd like all of them dead), oh, and spiders, I don't much care for spiders, but desperate times call for desperate measures. My neighbors have a large mesquite tree in their backyard. And in that tree lives the aforementioned mockingbird, the subject of my ire. He sits up in that tree and sings, and sings, and sings, which is fine. He has a beautiful voice and is usually very entertaining. Until the sun goes down and I want to go to sleep. But he's up there in that tree just singing his fool heart out. I don't know when the damn thing sleeps! I've woken up way too many times in the middle of the night only to be greeted by his gleeful song that keeps me awake for hours, and nothing I do returns me to my blissful slumber. I'm at my wits end! I need my sleep!

So while I know and understand that it's wrong to kill a mockingbird, what's your take on hosing him down a little bit?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

You Gotta Love A Guilty Conscience

We were enjoying a nice family dinner together when Kailey excused herself to go to the bathroom. As soon as she left, Kyra, suddenly overcome by a melancholy funk, set down her fork and grabbed her stomach. Our immediate thought was something along the lines of "SHE'S GONNA BLOW", but it turned out to be something completely different.

"Does your stomach hurt, Sweetie?" Diane asked.

"No, it's just something I pinkie-swore Kailey I wouldn't tell," she mumbled.

Diane and I shot each other that "parental" look. You know the one. The one that says, "Oh brother, here it comes."

"Why did you even bother pinkie-swearing if you're gonna just rat-out your sister?" I asked.

Diane shot me the parental look. Then she turned back to Kyra. "What did you do?" Kyra just whimpered. "Did you girls go into the wash?"

Kyra looked up with big, sad, droopy puppy dog eyes and nodded. "Mmmm hmmm."

Our community was built with a series of washes, or channels meant to collect rainwater. Here in the desert, a decent rain means the washes can fill in an instant. And it doesn't even have to rain in our community for the washes to fill. It can rain in the mountains and that rainwater will drain down into the city. Bottom line: it is not safe to play in the washes, especially for 7 and 9 year-olds.

The problem is that the girls' best friend lives right next to one of the outlets, and she has an older brother who likes to play in the wash. So they go down to play at their friend's house where everyone is playing in the wash that we have strictly forbidden the girls to enter. I have to admit that it would suck to be sitting outside the wash when all of your friends are playing IN the wash, the equivalent of going to Disneyland but denied access to the rides. But it would suck even more to be swept away in a flash flood, so we're sticking to our guns.

It was about this time that Kailey returned to the table, and when she realized that her little sister narked on her, her eyes blazed and practically ballooned out of her head. "Ky-RA!" We reiterated the evils of the wash and I tried my best to scare the hell out them with horror stories of being sucked down the wash by raging floodwaters. A little over-the-top, I know, but sometimes you do what you gotta do.

"At least she has a conscience," Diane reasoned.

True. And I'm choosing to cling to that positive character trait, because the thought of raising a stool pigeon just kills me.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The End of the World...Finally!

OK, this is it...I promise. My final "Final Project" from my video editing class. I chose to make a two minute music video to REM's It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) where I basically pulled a bunch of the craziest video clips from You Tube I could find (you know, people falling down, throwing up, getting hit in the nuts, dying in horror and disaster flicks, MASS HYSTERIA) and threw them together to make a video. Diane's response when I showed her my "masterpiece"?


Some people just don't appreciate good art when they see it.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Puke patrol is one of the downsides and necessary evils of parenthood. Kids get sick. Kids hurl. They need to be comforted. And someone to clean up the mess. That's where I come in. I have traditionally been the one to mop up, sop up, and rinse out the barf, because if I didn't do it for the girls, I'd be cleaning up double barf doses after Diane hurled from smelling the hurl. Yay me.

When kids are young, they have no concept of rushing to the bathroom when they're sick. If you're fortunate enough, they'll at least notify you that their tummy's aren't feeling too good, giving you the opportunity to rush them to the can. In the middle of the night? Forget it. You're alerted by their wails after the fact. You rush into their rooms to find their pajamas, sheets, comforters, stuffed animals, walls, and anything else within range soaked with barf. Once you get everything cleaned up and changed, you set out a bucket and put your child back to bed with these specific instructions: "OK, if you feel the need to throw up again, go to the bathroom. If you can't make it to the bathroom, I am placing this bucket (show them the bucket) right next to your bed (show them the placement of the bucket). Please, please, please, please, oh please use it." And an hour later you're changing the sheets again.

This week I think we experienced a major breakthrough in the area of nighttime puke cleanup. Diane had gone to bed and I was up putzing around when Kailey walked out to the family room with tears in her eyes. "Daddy, my tummy hurts," she cried. I escorted her to the bathroom where I asked her if she felt like she had to puke or just go to the bathroom. She said the latter, so I evacuated the premises while she did her business. She felt better afterwards, so I tucked her back in bed before getting ready for bed myself. I was brushing my teeth when I heard all hell breaking loose.


I rushed out of our bathroom and into the girls' to find Kailey hunched over the bowl and Diane violently rubbing her back and willing herself not to join her at the bowl. Kailey was in full freak-out mode, cursing heaven and earth and everything in between. "WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?!! retch. I HATE PUKING!!! cough, cough, sputter. I WANT THIS TO BE OVER RIGHT NOW!!"

She finished up and Diane got her back to bed, puke free, while I went to fish the bucket out of the garage. I returned to her room and gave her the bucket spiel, fully expecting to be rinsing out sheets in the not-too-distant future. I went to bed and, despite my anxiety of impending puke patrol, fell quickly to sleep. I was awakened an hour later.


I shot out of bed and ran into Kailey's room where I found her sitting up in bed clutching the bucket to her chest. I grabbed the bucket and guided her into the bathroom, and she finished emptying out the contents of her stomach. To my amazement (and slight disgust), Kailey had used the bucket. Rinsing out a bucket is SO MUCH EASIER than rinsing out sheets. For the first time ever, we escaped a nighttime barf-o-rama without having to change the sheets, something I consider a major accomplishment. And for once I'm GLAD my girls are growing up.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Along Came A Spider

We were in the process of getting the girls ready for school yesterday morning when a blood-curdling scream erupted from Kyra's bedroom followed by the worst words in the English language, "THERE'S A SPIDER IN MY BED!!"


I HATE spiders. The way Indiana Jones hates snakes.

Arizona has tons of spiders. They're huge too. I've even had the pleasure of being visited by a tarantula...right in our guest bedroom. Oh sure, Mr. Tarantula, make yourself right at home whilst I introduce you to the bottom side of Mr. Flip Flop. It wasn't a big tarantula, only about four inches long (legs included), but still, a four inch spider in your house is no laughing matter. I didn't sleep for weeks after that one. Now that we've been in Arizona for about five years, I'm getting used to disposing of spiders around the house. I don't freak out near as much as I used to, but I still don't like it.

Diane and I rushed into Kyra's room (Diane first, thank God) and we began prodding through the pile of covers on the floor. Kyra was making her bed, and for her that process means pulling all the covers off the bed, then replacing them. That's when she found the spider on the top sheet. She reported that it was black, about an inch long, and fast. Gives me the wiggles just thinking about it. Diane and I took turns grabbing sheets and blankets and shaking them out, but to no avail. The little sucker was nowhere to be found.

"It's OK, Sweetie," Diane comforted. "Daddy will wash your sheets and vacuum your room. He'll find it."

I shot her a look that said, "Thanks alot." I didn't know when all this was going to happen since I was already slated to spend the day volunteering at Kailey's third grade luau, but since Diane promised, I now needed to make the time. Besides, the thought of a spider in my little girl's bed, potentially feasting on her was now pissing me off, and I wanted it dead.

After school the girls went down to a friends house to play, and I decided that it was time to go spider-hunting, roughly eight hours after it was originally discovered. I really didn't expect to find anything, but thought I'd give Kyra's room a good cleaning anyway (as though that would repel spiders). I stripped her bed and threw her sheets in the wash, then returned to start picking up a bit. Kyra has about a million stuffed animals that should go on her bed but spend most of their time on the floor, one of which is a massive stuffed horse, big enough for her to lay on. I picked it up to toss it on the bed when I saw a tiny black blur scurrying like hell from under it toward the bookcase/headboard of Kyra's bed.

DON'T LET IT GET BEHIND THERE, I screamed to myself, grabbing the first thing I could find, a roll of wrapping paper, to relieve the spider of its life. Why there was a roll of wrapping paper in Kyra's room is beyond me. Just another indicator that her room was in dire need of cleaning. But I was so glad it was there. The spider slipped into the four-inch gap between Kyra's headboard and dresser and was resting up against the wall. To miss meant that it would retreat behind either one. I measured my blow and struck. And watched as the little bastard slipped behind the headboard. FOUR LETTERED EXPLETIVE THAT RHYMES WITH TRUCK!!

Now Kyra's bed is not easy to move. The base of the bed is one big wooden storage unit with several compartments that happen to be loaded with, what else, books. That unit backs into the headboard which is a bookcase. Why, oh why do we encourage our girls to read? I dropped my wrapping paper weapon and tugged at the bed. It wouldn't budge. So I ran over to the storage compartments and heaved handfulls of books out onto the floor until I was able to move the bed. I pulled the bed out about two feet, then worked on the bookcase. This spider is long gone, I thought to myself, but after pulling the bookcase out about six inches and peering behind it, there he was. Thank God spiders are stupid. But at this moment I was seriously pondering which one of us was stupider. I picked up my trusty wrapping paper roll and once again measured my blow. If you miss, don't, DO NOT, let him go to his right and get behind the dresser. I struck. I missed. He ran behind the dresser. SON OF A FIVE LET...oh, you get the idea.

I pulled the dresser out, which was considerably easier than the bed/bookcase combo, and I now had plenty of room to operate. I also found tons of lost stuff: scrunchies, missing pieced to games, puzzles, toys, etc. Against the wall lay an unused tissue. I picked it up and there he was with nowhere to hide. This time I struck and the wrapping paper found its mark (notice I didn't use the tissue? wuss). I crushed the sucker, then used the tissue to clean up its carcass. Yes, I am bad ass. I then spent the next hour cleaning up my mess. Kyra's room has never been so clean.

And that spider? It was only about a half-inch long.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It All Starts Here

Kyra's trek toward stardom commenced Wednesday afternoon at her school talent show. I don't know how she felt, but I was ready to puke for the both of us. I wanted to ask her if she was nervous before we went on, but thought twice about it because I didn't want to make her nervous. This is the same girl who was shy about performing in front of ten people at her birthday party. Now she was performing in the school multipurpose room in front of the entire school. The place was packed from wall to wall to wall with kids, teachers, and parents. I just wanted her to have a great experience and I tried in vain to push all the negative imagery out of my head.

Please don't let her freeze up.

Please don't let me forget the chords.

Please let me quit worrying about whether or not my fly is down.

We performed third (thank God), so my worrying was short-lived. They announced Kyra and we took the stage to generous applause. As soon as I came out from behind the curtain with guitar in hand, the applause died. Holy crap! What does that mean? Kyra grabbed her microphone and waited patiently until I got situated. Then we went for it.

I could just be a proud papa talking smack, but she nailed it. She was poised, confident, and sang out strong...and with hand motions, too! Hell, I wish I would have had her confidence when I was seven. I'd like to say that I can take some of the credit, but I can't. The only thing I really did was practice with her and let her do what she wanted to do. We're all so proud of you, Kyra!

I guess this means that I'll at least have one yearly gig from here on out, possibly two if we can get Kailey up on the stage. Now my only struggle will be to wean them off of Hannah Montana and onto Death Cab for Cutie. I don't see that happening any time soon.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Kyra at the Bat

I haven't written too much about the girls' softball games this Spring because there really hasn't been much to write about. Aside from Kailey making her pitching debut and a few defensive plays here and there, their season has been unremarkable. I think they've had about five hits between them all season long, quite a turn around from last season. I'm primarily to blame as I haven't taken had the time to work with them, and I feel badly about that.

This past week has been one of the crappiest of recent memory. I had final projects due in both classes, Kailey was sick, my boss was fired, creating turmoil in my department, and I spent way too much time talking with pushy mortgage lenders as we investigate refinancing the house. When we found out that Kailey woke up with a fever, meaning she would miss today's game, the last thing I wanted to do was go to watch Kyra struggle through the game on her own. Boy was I wrong.

The girls' team has thirteen players. Everyone bats, and in a three-inning game with a three-run limit per inning, only the first batters are assured of hitting more than once in a game. Since Kailey and Kyra have been sucking it up at the plate this year, they've been hitting at the bottom of the order and averaging only one at-bat per game. This morning only eight players showed up. There would be multiple at bats for all.

The girls spent the night with my in-laws, so my father-in-law got Kyra to field before the game. Diane and I arrived about fifteen minutes before game time where we met her coach in the parking lot. "I pitched batting practice with whiffle golf balls, and Kyra hit every single one," he told us. "Let's hope she does it in the game."

We'll see, I thought.

Given her impressive BP display, Kyra was slotted to bat second. The first batter struck out, and Kyra strode confidently into the batters box. She looked good. The pitcher threw four consecutive balls which brought out the coach to pitch. It seems like the only time I pray these days is when the girls come to bat. "Please, Dear Lord..." She swung at the first pitch and missed, strike one.

"That's OK! Good swing, Kyra! Watch that ball all the way to the bat!"

She fouled off the next pitch, strike two.

"Good job, Kyra! You got a piece of it! Now straighten it out!"

Coach held up the ball, made sure Kyra was ready, then sent it spinning toward the plate. There was joy in Mudville today, though. The mighty Kyra hit the ball. Fair. A high pop fly that dropped right between the pitcher, third baseman, and shortstop, who all looked at each other expecting someone else to try and catch it. It wasn't pretty, but Kyra got on base. We went ballistic.

She batted twice more, crushing the ball both times for doubles. She scored three times and the Vipers won a hard fought game 9-5. Better late than never, I guess.

After the game, her coach asked her what she had for breakfast.

"A cinnamon roll."

Breakfast of champions.


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