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Sunday, May 31, 2009

If I Say Yes, I Get What I Want, Right?

My children don’t listen to me. Nope. Instead they have figured out when to nod, when to say yes or no, and how to wait to roll their eyes until I’ve turned my head, all in such a way that makes me believe they are listening to me and soaking in the wisdom that as a parent I am suddenly dispensing so liberally.

Today was an example of such sly behavior from my children, Emily in particular. Each year we go up to “open camp” for Greg’s family’s campsite, a job which entails raking up a year’s worth of pine needles over a good chunk of land and disposing of them, taking down the 5th wheel’s winter roof, and setting up the outdoor sitting area. Yeah, I know, some of you are probably thinking camping and 5th wheel don’t belong in the same sentence. To that I say, “Get your Grizzly Adams lovin’ self out of my face and leave city-loving folk like me to their own kind of camping. Pfffft.”

Back to why my children are atrocious listeners… On our way up to camp this morning, Greg needed to nurse a hangover with some greasy food, so we stopped at the place that serves grease with a side of breakfast better than anywhere. McDonald’s. As Greg hopped out of the car, the kids said they wanted hash browns, aka grease served in an golden oval piece of potato-ish substance. The kids had already had breakfast. And a snack. It was 9:45 in the morning, but they still wanted something from the “lunch house.” Greg walked away, and I told the kids that they might have to share a hash brown. Emily, three-year-old Emily, Emily with a fierce stubborn streak, wasn’t down with that. She insisted that she wanted her OWN hash brown. Our “conversation” went like this:

Emily: I want my *own* hash brown.
Me: Emily, you and Braedyn may have to share a hash brown. You’ve already eaten. This is just a treat.
Emily: But, I want my own hash brown. I want my own hash brown, Mommy. Mommy, I want my *own* hash brown.
Me: Emily. You will get what you get and you will appreciate it. Whatever Daddy…
Emily: But I want my own hash brown.
Me: EMILY. You will get what you get and you will be appreciative of whatever Daddy brings...
Emily: But I want my own hash brown. Mommy, um, I want my own hash brown.
Me: EMILY! I don’t know what Daddy is going to get, but whatever he brings back, you will tell him “thank you.” Do you under…
Emily: I’m trying to talk to you, Mommy. Mommy, I want my own…
Me: Emily! Do you understand what I am saying?
Emily: I’m trying to talk to you, Mommy!
Me: You can talk to me AFTER you let me know you understand what I am telling you. Do you understand what I said?
Emily: <Silence.>
Me: Do you understand?
Emily: YES!
Me: OK, now you can talk to me, Emily. Thank you.
Emily: Mommy? Um. I want my own hash brown.

Greg came back with a hash brown for each kid. So, spoiled, STUBBORN Emily got this:

golden oval piece of potato-ish substance

And after that, I so needed this:

Lucious, Cheap Box Wine

Instructions Schmuctions

Susanne went garage sale shopping AGAIN.  She brought home another 10 items and I can’t wait to see what 10 items she plans to get rid of. 

That was our agreement so that our house didn’t just keep filling up.  Seeing as she goes every Saturday during garage sale “season”. Something comes in, something goes out.  I think the only thing that has gone out the window is that rule.

Regardless, she gets some great deals and for 2 dollars she came home with two tubs full of Bionicle parts, with NO instructions.

Who needs instructions.  Braedyn and I got four, yes FOUR Bionicles of our own making out of them.

There were leftover parts, but every man knows anything needing “some assembly required” always comes with extra parts.  Right?

Friday, May 29, 2009

One Is The Loneliest Number

I was never Captain Confidence growing up, but that never stopped me from doing things by myself. I would go to movies in college ALONE, FSM forbid. My family would GASP when I told them I was going to dinner and a movie ALONE. My sister just couldn’t understand how in the world I would do such a thing and I never understood what all the fuss was about.

I never understood the social dysfunction of doing things like dinner and a movie all by your lonesome, until now.

I realized all this time I wasn’t paying attention.

I am the same guy who when I first went shopping at Trader Joe’s didn’t realize the woman behind me was trying to flirt with me. I not only didn’t realize she was flirting after the 12th time her shopping cart rammed into me, I didn’t figure it out until after I told my wife the story 8 years later and she explained it to me. I don’t think I was paying much attention at all too many things in life, until now.

This last week I stopped at Home Depot on my way back to work to look for water feature supplies. On my way out I stopped to look at some flowers and as I looked up from them, across from me was an attractive woman around my age (yes, over 40) who was not in any subtle manner checking me out. She even tried to make small talk. If I had been 15 years younger I would not have even realized she was standing there.

I was not paying attention.

So now I am paying attention. Some old guy switch has been flipped and I see things I never noticed before.

Today at work due to a serious of unfortunate events I had no car, I had no lunch and I had only the option of work cafeteria food, Chinese food or the best goddamn sushi in all of Reno within walking distance. I came to this conclusion 20 minutes into the lunch hour and as such decided to go (drum roll please, insert gasp here) ALONE.

The lunch event went something like this.

Greg enters the restaurant and approaches the hostess. He is alone.
Greg (speaking to the hostess): I would like to eat at the sushi bar.
Hostess (looking around at the empty foyer):How many?
Greg: Just one.
Hostess: Just one? (pause) Ok, follow me.
Hostess escorts Greg to the sushi bar where a waiter offers to seat him.
Waiter:How many will be dining today?
Greg:Just one.
Waiter (pausing):You are alone? Just one?
Greg:Yes, just me.
The waiter motions to an empty seat at the end of the sushi bar and Greg takes a seat.
Waiter to Sushi Chef:Just one. He is eating alone.
Sushi Chef (pausing):Alone?
Waiter: Yes, just one.

I am almost certain the hostess was checking me out, but there were no grocery cart impacts for me to be sure.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Alpha

I was unloading the back of the Jeep when I heard it. My heart pounding audibly, I ran through the garage and threw the door open to the house, making the sound of the screams more intense. The taste of fear was bitter and overwhelming.

The screams. The snarls. The shrieks.

The fight.

The length of time to get to the back yard was excruciating. As I stumbled across Legos and Barbie parts, my mind was racing. Did the kids get caught in the middle of it this time? After all, wasn’t it only a matter of luck that they hadn’t been too close to one yet?

Another dog fight.

Two dogs that go at it and don’t hold back. Each one wanting to be dominant, they rival for top dog. Skidding into the back yard, I scanned frantically for the kids, looking past the blur of teeth and flying fur. Relieved, I see one child hovered in a corner, shaking and screaming, but safe. The other, having found refuge in my bedroom, was screaming from under the safety of my bed’s covers.

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Enough. BAAAAAGH!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Proof They Aren’t The Mailman’s Children

Well, I finally have proof.  The kids are definitely Susanne’s and mine. Proof that dispels all those rumors about the mailman, about an accidental switch at the hospital.

To start, they are both playing video games. 

Now look closely, very very closely to the far right just above the Wii-mote in the bottom right corner. 

Emily has the remote control. 

My mad video game skills plus this = rock solid, indisputable proof.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Difference Between Boys & Girls

Yesterday when I came home from work my son was counting his money.  Now mind you all the money he “saves” is stolen from my wallet or the change that falls from my pockets when I lie on the floor (more evidence that I have become my father).

“Daddy, I have enough money to buy a Bionicle!” he said with a face illuminated from within and a grin so large I thought he had surgery to look like Jack Nicholson’s Joker.

So off we went to Target (tar·JAY) to buy the “large” Bionicle {for you HUGE Bionicle fans (you know who you are), Malum #8979} which I quickly learned was defined by the number of pages (23) in the assembly instructions.

I started this trip a little late in the day and as such we barely had time to put it together before bed, so there was no time for “fights” between his two Bionicles.

Morning rolls around and Braedyn is in my room tapping my shoulder to get up.  He was holding Malum and wearing his Jack Nicholson Joker grin again. I was barely conscious because I had stayed up late watching Californication. All I wanted to do was to throw him into Arkham and go back to sleep.  I managed to drag myself to the couch where I rolled in and out of consciousness.  Braedyn planted himself on the floor below me and the conversation went something like this:

Braedyn: “Daddy, please play Bionicle with me?”

Me: “hmm… mmph…whaaa?”

Braedyn: “Daddy, please play with me.  Let’s fight with the Bionicles”

Me: “hmm… mmph…whaaa?”

Braedyn (loudly): “DADDY, let’s fight?”

Me: “uhh… Can’t you wait until your sister wakes up and you two can fight with the Bionicles?”

Braedyn: “NOOOOOO, all she ever wants to do is talk!”

Oh, buddy, isn't that the truth. Get used to it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lesson Learned

I hereby solemnly swear to always close and lock my bedroom door before getting on my groove thang with my husband. I pinky swear. I Girl Scout promise. I cross my heart. I swear to the Flying Spaghetti Monster AND to the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

I am taking this oath before you today because I learned that not adhering to it can have quite a disastrous outcome, one that I hope will not require my children to need some serious therapy later in life. You see, yesterday was my birthday, and I was getting some extra special lovin’ - lovin’ that was long, long, long after the kids’ had fallen asleep for the night - when all of a sudden I hear an itsy bitsy voice from the OPEN door say, “Daddy, why are you making Mommy cry?”

Oh. CRAP.

We convinced Emily that Mommy and Daddy were just playing around, and asked her to please go back to bed. It must have been the use of our Jedi mind trick, “There is nothing to see here; these are not the parents you are looking for” because thankfully, she did not pull one of her insanely strong-willed independence tantrums, and she actually did as she was asked and went back to bed.

We both said a secret thanks to any power that be that she is short and our bed is tall. Then we finished our biznez.

Then, I hear, from the OPEN door, “Daddy, aren’t you supposed to be in BED?” I know! Couldn’t one of us have taken 15 seconds to walk to the door, shut it, and lock it? Evidently not!

This time, Braedyn had sauntered in. Apparently I (yes, I will take the blame) had woken not one, but BOTH children up in the heat of our moment.

Oh. CRAP. Squared.

After a few minutes laden with shock and fear, we checked on them, only to find they were both sound asleep again. Hooray! So what do Greg and I go do? Do we pass out from exhaustion and fear? Not quite. Do we point and waggle fingers at each other placing blame? Hardly. No, we race to Twitter and Facebook about it. Seriously, instead of passing out after, ahem, well you know, or after the adrenaline-pumping, energy-draining fear of hearing your kids’ voices at that very wrong moment, we sat at the table with our respective laptops and joke and laugh about it through Twitter and Facebook.

You’d think tech-savvy peeps might remember how a simple door lock mechanism works. I mean REALLY.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Brilliant Balloon Modeling, Picasso Style

Last weekend at a saaaaaaaaaaaale, I picked up a bunch of balloons, a manual balloon blower-upper thingy, and an instruction booklet on “Brilliant Balloon Modeling” for a whopping 50 cents. I figured, oh, this could be a fun thing to do with the kids. Uh-huh. Sure it could.

This is kind of how THAT brilliant idea went:

Me: Ok, we’re going to make some balloon animals. <crack open the book>
Emily, Braedyn, and Hannah: <collective> YAY!
Emily: I want a flower!
Braedyn: <after seeing an airplane in the book> Ooh, I want that! An airplane!
Me: OK, let’s try the airplane first. It doesn’t look too hard. (Famous last words.) All right. Step one. Inflate a balloon leaving a six inch tip. Greg is always telling me what six inches is, so I think I can eyeball that. OK. Now, let’s see… Begin the plane’s tail by twisting a 2 1/2 inch bubble, followed by a 1 1/4 inch bubble, which is ear twisted. Ear twisted? WTF?

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After some time fumbling…

Me: Hannah, can you give me some room?
Emily: I want a flower!
Me: <grunt>
Braedyn: Can I play with this? <pointing to the blower upper thingy>
Me: Uh, NO! <fumble, fumble, fumble>
Braedyn: I want an airplane!
Hannah: I want a dog!
Me: You guys HAVE to be patient. This is NOT easy! I’ve never done this before. Gimme some space! <growl>

After even more fumbling…

Me: AGH! OK. Here’s your airplane, Braedyn. Just use your imagination.

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Yeah, I know. It doesn’t look anything like the picture does it?

Then, the dog:

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Shut up.

Then, while trying to make a second dog and a sword, the balloons popped on me. Not one of my favorite things, I must say. So, in a huff, I put all of the stuff back in the bag and told the kids that we would try later. Maybe. Given the look of frustration on my face, they all just ran outside to play and didn’t argue with me.

After today’s fiasco, I have a newfound respect for those damn balloon toting clowns.  Creepy or not, that is some serious talent.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Prison Break


Each and every night after the grownups have had their wine and watched their evening TV it’s time to lockup and power down the house before bed. 

One peculiar routine MUST be followed.  If Susanne or I do not remember to extend one of the gates we purchased for riot control and lean it against Braedyn’s door we will hear about it. Oh will we hear about it. 

Usually we will hear his SCREAMS in the middle of the night because FSM FORBID Charmin is ON HIS BED.  You would think she was trying to eat his face or something.

When I was a child not only did my dogs sleep on my bed, but Critter (yes that was her name) and later Sierra (pictured with my brother) would sleep all the way UNDER my covers tucked against my feet.  Seriously.  How does a dog breathe down there next to a teenage boys feet?

Poor Charmin, she just wants to sleep on the end of his bed. Ok, she may try to lick him before she settles down, but its not like he has any comprehension of where that tongue was 15 minutes earlier during a “cleaning” session.

So each and every night I extend the gate and each and every morning Braedyn TRIES to quietly move the gate.  This is my alarm clock.  It’s like the TV show Prison Break, except without the tattoos, and with a dog who’s mouth smells like….well, you know.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Back From Nowhere

It's been sometime since I posted. No, I did not go anywhere and I have not been ill and yet I have been profoundly absent from this blog. This has not slipped past Susanne as she frequently jabs at me on twitter and this blog about my lack of literary proficiency.

There is a great deal of irony to this as it was I who had tried on several occasions to start a he said/she said type website on more than one occasion. It took the ease of Blogger, the need for an outlet for Susanne's creative voice and a poke in the eye with a stick to finally bring this site to fruition.

Of course no one screamed for my return. I assume that was purely from a shock so great from my absence that all readers of this blog were left speechless and unable to type nasty twitter posts demanding a new grammatically incorrect, apostrophe mistake laden masterpiece.

So where have I been?

My employment world has been full of upheaval recently and as I fear getting Dooce'd I do not blog about work, but suffice it to say I used to manage a group of 17 great hardworking technically creative artist types. This was difficult for me in the beginning as it was my first management position. Just as I was getting a handle on it, just as I thought I was getting a handle on it AND doing a damn fine job, the world shifted and my team was redistributed in an organizational shuffle.

To steal a quote from the Dark Tower "The world moved on." And you know what, I am beginning to like it. Not the change in my job specifically but the world around me. My beautiful wife and my lovely kids (who by FSM, don't get me wrong can really put a twist in my kilt) are bringing me joy with some of the silliest things like this, this, this and this. Since my work world moved on I am focusing less on the stresses of work and more on the joys of my family. This weekend we had many and I wanted to share them here. If that wasn't the most winded and winding intro there is, well, at least it will give Susanne a chance to knock me for my grammar and apostrophe usage.

This weekend was Mothers Day and by golly, if Susanne didn't put me to work in the garden. We went to breakfast first where we both were stunned to see our 5 year old drinking his cuppa (hot cocoa) and reading the paper (kids menu).

Seriously. How friggin old does he look here?



And my beautiful wife enjoying some time with Braedyn.


And only days before my oldest boy Jacob came to visit. Of course when he comes over Dad is chopped liver, but it is so nice to see all of them so happy.


So what was this post about? It doesn't matter. Today's post wasn't for you dear readers. It was for me and I sure enjoyed it. Almost as much as Braedyn enjoyed the whip cream from the cocoa.

Free Stuff ROCKS

It’s no secret that half of my house is decorated by items I picked up at garage sales. I love the thrill of the hunt, and even more, I love to not pay retail. I just don’t get how, wait… I just don’t get WHY anyone would want to pay $500 for a wallet from Coach. It is beyond me. I probably get a little bit of this from my upbringing; I mean I have a father who never bought anything new. Ever. (He also never gets rid of anything, but that is a post in and of itself.) When I was growing up, if we had a refrigerator that was going kaput, my dad would get another used one, usually free from some place or another, and use it until it went kaput. Our second-hand TV would sometimes go fuzzy, but no worries, I was taught where to hit it with a hammer to get it working again.

Thankfully I’m not THAT bad. Really, I’m not.

A couple of weekends ago I hit the mother load of garage sales. It was just around the corner, and I literally had to make two trips with my car filled to the brim back to the house with all of my new loot. I got so much great stuff, my head was spinning. I picked up six beautiful, lined curtains for my front room that couldn’t have been more perfect for the colors of our walls. I got three ceramic, blue outdoor flower pots, new kids craft materials, an amazing wall clock with exposed gears, three nicely crafted shelves, two dog beds, several decorative wall hangings, and many more things that I don’t want to bore you with if I haven’t already. And the ticket price for all of this? $18.50. Seriously. It was so great that a little later when I was out with the whole family, we drove back by. Greg and the kids got out and started poking around, and the folks having the garage sale started handing us stuff to take for free, including two kid dirt bike helmets. And here, you can see how those are used at our house:

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Yeah, digging in the dirt for ants has to be much better wearing that helmet. Free stuff rocks.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dressing Herself

Emily picked all of her accessories, and she had fun putting each of them on.

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Interlude

I begrudgingly took Creative Writing in High School, believing it was going to be a complete nightmare for me. I was a math nerd, after all. After one semester of this class, my teacher insisted that I would only last a year in college under the Aerospace Engineering degree I was pursuing. I dismissed this notion as any good self-professed left brainer would as something completely ridiculous.

Yeah. She was right. I changed my major after a year and ultimately ended up with a degree in Art. I came across this piece while painfully going through my childhood box of papers. OK, it’s not a box. It’s a huge, daunting mega-bin. Sigh.

I thought I would share it with you.

***************************************************************************

The fuchsia sky with its scattered grayish-blue clouds made me homesick – homesick for what life was like. No one was exactly sure how much time we had left.

Through all of the confusion around us, Jay and I managed to get away for a few hours. We started the quiet little engine on the two-man motorboat. The rippling of the water broke the silence around us. The once calm waters of the lake now had little waves scattering everywhere, disrupting its tranquility, but giving us ours.

The sun was hardly visible through the overwhelmingly thick sky. It appeared so small now, almost as if part of its uncontrolled flaming fire were tamed.

When we reached the center of the lake, I turned off the engine, allowing the silence to envelop us. I wanted this moment to last forever. We were all alone; it was just us and our thoughts. His head flew back displacing his long, brown bangs from his oval-shaped face and revealing those eyes. I lost myself in those big, green eyes, desperately trying to find some answers as to why all of this had happened.

A thin line of dark black land was visible across the lake. The sky was so vibrant and the waters reflected its grim color. Not only was there a gray shadow of our boat behind us, but a gray shadow of our present lives lurked there too. I was thinking about it, and I’m sure Jay was too, but we never let down our guard. Instead, we just lay in each other’s arms, thankful for this last moment.

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Written November 1988

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ah, That Desert Rain

It may only last a couple of minutes, but we were prepared.

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