31 May 2008

Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

Allow me to digress from the stories of kids and their oddities for a moment (which I originally intended to do more often than I have so far). I figure the weekend is a good time for this kind of post, since most of you presumably spend these days with your family and catch up with me on Monday.

You may have heard of the new "uncontacted" tribe they discovered in the South American rain forest. I find it astounding that's there's enough forest left to host totally isolated tribes of people, but they seem pretty sure.

Incredible pictures of one of Earth's last uncontacted tribes firing bows and arrows

Of course, flying a plane just over the treetops and taking a bunch of pictures, even when doing so to prove their existence to nonbelievers for the tribe's own protection, counts as contact to me. So, so much for that.

Am I the only one that sees this and feels bad for these lucky folks?

And I agree with their reaction to these photographers in the plane-- I think it's distinctly possible they know all about all of us evil humanlike beings in the world outside the forest, with all our wicked technology and strange ways, and they've just said, "No, thanks" and kept to themselves.

Don't they have that right? Can't they just live their own lives their own way? I doubt they're capable of launching any kind of respectable attack on the U.S. any time soon, but then that didn't mean anything for Iraq in 2002, right?

I know leaving them alone and creating some kind of "wildlife preserve" around them will be a hard sell to some of the people of South America who were themselves victimized by the West and are now doing what they can to level the playing field (i.e. ravaging their forests, selling the wood, and raising scrawny cattle for McDonald's in the stubble). But hopefully they can learn from our mistakes and harness our guilt for these people's benefit.

Here's hoping! Back to the funny stuff next week.

30 May 2008

That's no moon

The caring folks at Angel Soft would love for you to smile and sigh when you see this scene, rather than get your stranglin' gloves broken in, as you should:
Angel Soft hates the environment but loves your moneyI don't know about you, but in my house, this kind of frivolous waste would mean that toilet paper would come in homemade 5-sheet rolls, not ones long enough for a puppy to frolic across your house with.*

And I'd still watch them like a hawk.

That's with good reason-- D- has lately shown every intention of making sure I have to. After being really good with everything to do with the toilet, he's taken up the new hobby of creating a hand-crafted softball each time he needs to dab himself clean.

Let me first assure you, we aren't dealing with the cheap stuff-- this is primo extra-thick Charmin bought in a package the size of a Yaris at Costco. That makes it pretty affordable for J- to pamper herself and for me to get by with about half a square each time, but it still ain't free, and regardless, I'd like him to not grow up to be as wasteful as Americans have been conditioned to be for decades now.

We had inklings of the problem in the past few weeks when: J- found an unflushed toilet more full of TP than of water; we marveled at how often we were putting out new rolls; and when I (from the shower...) heard the toilet choking and sputtering just with the effort to swallow what D- understatedly identified as "my pee-pee".

Now, I'll acknowledge that he might come by this proclivity quite honestly, as I've always (lovingly, of course) mocked J- for believing she needs to mummify her hand in order to be clean, but I doubt this is a genetically inherited trait, so hopefully it's just a phase for him. We had a little talk about it, I made some threats, and I thought we moved on.

Then yesterday, I found what at first looked like a particularly swollen disposable diaper sitting on the bathroom floor.** Upon closer inspection, it was virgin toilet paper crumpled into a ball so dense that the sheer weight of it must have made D- struggle to wield it while on the toilet earlier that afternoon. Once it rolled boulder-like away from him, he was surely forced to make a second one***, possibly even a bigger one, cause that's just how men think.

After calling him in for another interrogation, we had a second talk, of course referencing the first, more threats, and what I felt to be a rational and productive Q&A comparing the relative size of his wee-wee and its microscopic leftover drop to the overstuffed bean bag chair that is his apparently typical wiping utensil. That hopefully has now done the trick.

Meanwhile, all three of us (soon to be a fourth, please God) have only just this afternoon finished going through Ball #1 from that single bathroom trip 24 hours earlier.

* How many other industries make a habit of encouraging waste and misuse of their products? What would people say to an Ikea ad showing a 5-year-old cutely taking a claw hammer to a bookcase while the mom shakes her head and smiles, and the announcer says, "Time to go back to Ikea!"^

** It's a testament to how plush this paper is that even in holding and staring at it up close, with that amount of it all balled up, I couldn't immediately be sure it wasn't a diaper, or possibly some kind of rag.

*** Just the thought of this sends a shiver up my spine, headed to wherever in my brain my compulsion to avoid waste in all its forms resides, so I need to find a way to repress these visions of disproportionate environmental damage.

^ That's not to imply I wouldn't like to watch someone else's 5-year-old take the hammer to that someone else's bookcase... maybe it'd be okay if it was already irreparably broken...

29 May 2008

Eat me: A preschool mastermind

When D- doesn't want to eat something, he's adopted the polite phrase, "That's not my favorite" to kindly let you know this. Our response is of course that not everything can be your favorite, and you still have to eat the other things in the world.

This usually has about the effect you'd expect for a 4-year-old.

Imagine the protests we faced last night when we had a delicious salad (with chicken) for dinner-- he has a pretty good memory for things he's declared he doesn't like, and a horrible memory for stuff he gobbles up when smothered in ranch dressing. This ridiculous concoction we dared to offer him was comprised, as far as he could tell, of at least 72% of things he "does not like," which of course taints those few things he does like.

Anyway, early on in the meal, the starvingly (my word) hungry boy we invited to the table changed course and announced to J- that he was full, though willing to acknowledge he was only full of salad. J- responded that he would be eating this salad for his next meal, whether that was right then, tomorrow's breakfast, or Christmas brunch.

This approach worked well in her family and pretty well in ours, so far, though D- has pushed us to comical lengths at times. Given our experience thus far, I expect M- in a couple years to be found once every few weeks immobilized from hunger on her bedroom floor, weakly chewing on a few wilted lettuce leaves in an effort to build the strength to take just a few sips of water.

For the time being, though, it's only D- that suffers this method every so often (it's only employed upon unjustified refusal to eat rather than normal fullness and such), and in his wise old age, he has learned a few tricks. Unfortunately for him, none of these include keeping his cards close to his vest, as evidenced by his (mostly nonchalant, only a touch defiant) response to J- last night: "But if Daddy doesn't know about that, and gives me something else, then I can eat that instead."

Now, seated to his immediate right, I felt the need to speak up and point out just a short list of flaws in his argument. After a quick talk in his room, he came back out slightly deflated, but with his spirit somehow still intact. We'll have to change that one of these days, like all good parents must.

We were eventually able to get him to finish his bowl (emphasis on the "eventually"-- he was in jammies by that point) by covering it in a serving each of ranch dressing and what he identified as "ketchup," a.k.a. Catalina dressing... not that actual ketchup would be so far fetched.

Thus was I deprived of an opportunity to spend my entire morning torturing a small child by withholding all but the most undesirable food from him, and letting the music of his whining lull my ears to sleep, the way we all love to do. Oh well, there's always tomorrow's dinner, and every one after that for a decade or so...

28 May 2008

Just one more thing...

As part of my continuing effort to get in better shape, I have become a shining model of Herculean restraint and admirable conscientiousness most of the time.

For example, yesterday I resisted the temptation to eat a leftover piece of cheesecake, and instead I fed it to my daughter (M-) for lunch. It was perfect, because I was too lazy to come up with something more creative or nutritious (as defined by "society" and so-called "nutrition experts"). Furthermore, I had to take a call from a market research company, so I was in no position to make much of anything at the time.

When my son (D-) asked innocently what it was that I was feeding her (it was broken up into a bunch of indistinguishable pieces) I told him honestly that it was "cheese stuff". I'm not sure this was the brightest move, because if there's one thing he likes more than desserts, or whatever is not being served at any given time, it's cheese.

Anyway, I took a break in feeding her to go get her dressed (again-- the temperature dropped precipitously), and D- went back to his lunch in the dining room. I feel compelled to break here and lay out my very brief thought process in deciding to feed M- this cheesecake:

• Cheesecake is made of cheese, and it has various other lunch-appropriate components in it.
• It was kind of old and sub-par (hence I decided it didn't make the cut for me, and I'd save myself for higher-quality indulgences), and thus it was not technically even a dessert anymore, in the traditional sense.
• Given how sweet all the jars of fruit M- eats are, and given her consistently high enjoyment in eating all things edible and non, I figured she wouldn't find this culinary experience particularly remarkable (thus setting a dangerous precedent).
• I didn't verbally identify it as cheesecake, or even as a dessert, so especially given the above facts, it definitely didn't count.
• I don't like to waste things, and I needed to get rid of this dessert, I mean lunch, as soon as possible.

What I didn't factor in was, though she may be a toddler, M- is also spiritually a woman, and that is why, during a lull in getting her clothes on, she pointed toward the kitchen and called out, "Mmm, cake! Cake!!" (pronounced "geek"). I now believe, though further research is needed, that the Cheesecake/Chocolate Recognition Gene is carried in separate halves on the X chromosome, and only in women are the two halves allowed to reach their full potential.

Threatening to confound this theory, though more likely explained by personal experience, D- then asked aimlessly from his seat why M- would be calling out "cake", much in the way that Columbo would ask a nervous doctor why exactly he had to come back to the clinic at such a late hour one fateful night.

I said, "I dunno, I guess she just wants cake, and she remembers how yummy it is, or something" (sounding very much like D- himself usually does).

He coolly responded, without looking at me, "She probably wants some more of that cheesecake, probably." The extra "probably" was delivered with a tone meant to demonstrate that I should assume he knows what's going on at all times, even when he doesn't let on as much, and thus I should never bother trying to fool him again.

I burst out laughing-- I can only hold a straight face 80% of the day. I asked him what made him think it was cheesecake, and he said, dropping character in shock at my losing control, "I don't know... I just know that-- my brain told it to me because I'm very smart, from those nuts." (The latter claim based on my explanation of some of the benefits of the walnut pieces I had sprinkled on his oatmeal that morning.)

So, to sum up-- I am a saint; women may have actually been split from man-shaped cheesecakes by Zeus, explaining their misguided seeking of human mates when they really have a deeper appreciation of cheesecake; and boys are smart because of their nuts.

27 May 2008

A conversation with D-: We are the champions

This conversation with my 4-year-old son D- took place while I was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an hour or so after I reprimanded him (with a thorough explanation of the conventions of polite society vs. nature) for asserting in plain language to his sister that his greater strength means he can take things from her when he wants them:

D-: Are we stronger than the Earth? (he compares a lot of things to The Earth)

Me: Nope.

D-: Yeah we are, because we have muscles and we're stronger.

Me: But the Earth has gravity, and remember that pulls everything down to it all the time.

D-: What's it called? The gravity.

Me: It's just called gravity.

D-: No the Earth!

Me: It's just called The Earth.

D-: Oh.

I recognize a bit of my younger self in his pattern of trying to portray himself or his argument as misunderstood when faced with being wrong. It amuses and intrigues me. After all, the primary purpose in life for all children is to serve as a tool for their parents' self-reflection.

And then secondly to grow independent and change the world and stuff, of course.

26 May 2008

Not exactly a glass slipper, but it'll do

Let this post serve as a fitting tribute this Memorial Day to all those comical, non-threatening pirates who have fallen over the years in service to our amusement.

To continue my service to those lucky folks who will become new parents in the future, I forewarn you of yet another type of event you may surprisingly come to know as pretty normal.

Just as your daughter will undoubtedly one day attempt to blind you in one eye just to see you wear an eyepatch (she fails), she will continue her apparent obsession with pirate accoutrement by fashioning herself a peg leg out of whatever material is handy, up to and including your cup.*

The dread pirate Captain Cupfoot found a suitably fearsome peg legTo be fair to your future children, in their defense, you did leave that cup out. Why wouldn't you expect to get a little foot in it? Come on-- you're better than that.

Furthermore, should you go on to create a blog publicly mocking your children, even if you think you can't come up with a post on a day when you get to sleep in past noon, just relax, and inspiration will come... inspiration will come.

* To J-, who is currently working out over at my parents' house: in case you're enjoying a refreshing beverage later until you realize your cup smells like feet, here's proof it was the baby's fault, not mine. This time.

25 May 2008

Parenting 101: I am a wonderful parent

You know what the best part of being a parent is? Knowing that one day, you'll be able to take your lovely, perfect grandchildren to your house for a sleepover.

Okay... have my parents stopped reading yet? Is the coast clear?

Actually, the best part of being a parent is being able to have a day here and there when your parents take your children away and you don't have to deal with them and all their high maintenance for one whole day and night. They don't really tell you this when they discharge you from the hospital, but babies are a lot of work. For like 20 years.

The nurses and such at the hospital are all "Ohh, what a special little miracle! He/she/it is so darling... (choking up) so special!" ...yadda, yadda, yadda. What they're thinking is, "Good god, babies may be cute (given a few days to unsmash their faces and everything), but am I glad my kids are old enough to be yelled at to leave me alone while I go take a nap. I'm gonna sleep good tonight! These poor bastards obviously have no idea what they're in for, or they wouldn't be smiling like that. That woman is pretty lucky, though, cause the dad sure looks like an exceptionally intelligent, handsome, and unbelievably witty individual."*

I assure you, though, if you don't already know, there's absolutely no sarcasm or even realism employed out loud in the baby-having section of the hospital. It's all sunshine and rainbows and (shudder) straightforward positivity.

So anyway, here's a disclaimer: I love my kids, they crack me up, they're so special and smart and amazing and stuff, and like all parents, I can't wait to see them grow up to appreciate and worship me... That being said, man did I sleep good last night. Heck, I may even go back to sleep right now. This is the life.

* Your experience may or may not match this, which was undoubtedly my personal experience.

24 May 2008

My life in six words

It's odd to post something so short, but that's all this meme calls for-- I was tagged by Emily (Mama Dawg) at Two Dogs Running a couple of weeks ago, and given the lag time between the tag and my response, my answer couldn't be more apropos.

Write your memoir in six words:
I'll Write This Up Tomorrow... Maybe

And now, to pass it along, I choose the following people:
1) Christy - Heavy on the Caffeine (because she said she loves these)
2) MamaNeena - MamaNeena
3) Mrs. 4444 - Half-Past Kissin' Time

As usual, feel free to decline the tag, because I know some people get harder hit with these than I do. So far, I've found them pretty handy when I'm hard up for post ideas, especially on the weekend.

23 May 2008

She makes it look so easy

You know, as someone who at times works too hard to be funny, I have to admit that I feel more than a little bit jealous that someone like M-, my 16-month-old daughter, can just grab a random hat that's too big (or better yet, something that's not even a hat), put it on her head, then toddle out and say, "Ott!" (hat) to get big, well-deserved laughs all around.

For example:
A typical morning with the reincarnated spirit of Richard Pryor*I could write more, but I'm too busy playing Salieri to her Mozart. Perhaps I should just stop here, to imitate her minimalist style.


Is it working?


* (see picture) In case you have the same jammies at your house and you're wondering if that is indeed an oversized zero-to-3-months-sized nightgown, the answer is yes, yes it is. To further spite the titans of the children's clothing industry, it also used to be D-'s. Three points for us!

22 May 2008

A conversation with D-: Aged just right

Here, at long last, is another in our series of Conversations with D-, my 4-year-old son. This one took place this morning right after I sat down to think of a blog post:

D- (behind me, from across the room): Can I have this cracker over here?

Me: Oh, whoops! No, I found that under the radiator last night, and I meant to throw it away. It's good that you found it before M- did, cause she'd eat it!

D-: Can I eat it?

Me: No... it was under the radiator-- it's not good to eat anymore.

D-: Why not?

And you know, based on his standards, I guess I don't have a convincing answer to that, but I made him throw it away anyway, because I'm just an evil dictator.

21 May 2008

Umm... see my list of bad habits*

I'm writing this post as a confessional-- I don't have my homework.

Yes, instead of writing another one of my (self-issued) award-winning posts today, I have blown all my "free time" this morning reading blogs. Any chance you'd accept me tracking down a bunch of the comments I left and just cobbling them together into a list post? Nah, probably not.

So, in addition to a confessional, this is also an apology. That is, unless I commented on your blog this morning, in which case you should feel honored by my selfless exaltation of you and your work over my own. Also, you should feel exceedingly guilty for your undeserved moment of apology-accepting, but you can make it up to me by, shall we say, exploring some of the tempting offers placed around the page or by shopping at Amazon via my link to the right.

Based on the number of people (at other nominated blogs) who misread my noncommittal offer of a magical tote bag for one's eternal soul instead as a legal promise of a regular tote bag for voting for me in a mere blog contest, I just might need all the cash I can get.

Even though that wouldn't personally cost you anything, as a show of gratitude, I still might be able to repay you with a free extra soul.** They're great to play with when you're having a rough day, like a stress ball.

* Here's a link to my list of bad habits (among other things)-- most of them are applicable today.

** Hey, if someone is willing to trade their eternal soul for a tote bag just to make a point, I am certainly going to fulfill my end while also capitalizing my new asset. See
Milhouse v. Simpson for legal precedent.

20 May 2008

Winged migration

I suppose this serves as something of a sequel to my post Things I found in my bed last night-- here's how J- got me away from the computer last night while I was responding to all your many wonderful comments on the last few posts:

"Can't you just blog 'Wife found bug wing in bed, must go now'?!?"

This was after much poking, prodding, and begging to this end. She decided she could not possibly sleep in the same bed as a piece of an old bug wing, and only I have been imbued by the gods with the power to flick it off the sheet.

This is actually great progress for her-- in past, better-rested days, she would definitely refuse to sleep in the bed for at least a day after the sheets were changed (and probably burned), and she might even insist on sleeping at a hotel. Now she was tired enough to just be rid of the wing so she could get some blessed sleep.

Although, as it turns out, when I went to the bathroom after The Flickening, she ended up pulling the sheet off the bed and flipping it around to put the apparently toxic Spot Where the Wing Was on my side of the bed instead.

That's love.

19 May 2008

Can't I be a Stay-At-Somewhere-More-Fun Dad?

The select few people older than 4 who I meet these days sometimes openly wonder what it's like to be a stay-at-home dad, often with either a sympathetic or subtly tortured look on their face.

I can promise you that certainly being one is much less remarkable now than it was decades ago, but that doesn't mean that nowadays, even in a place as diverse and culturally amorphous as the particular Chicago suburb where I live, you won't become a stare-worthy oddity akin to a dog walking down the street on two feet with a cat on a leash.

For example, the other day when we arrived at a park we’d never been to before (there are probably at least 20 parks of varying sizes within a half-mile of our house), two kids saw me approaching unchaperoned with the kids, and once we got to within 3 feet of them, the older girl asked her dad (while staring into my eyes, bewildered), “Is their Mommy at the doctor today, too??" In all fairness, what other possible explanation on Earth could there be for a man to accompany children to a park at 3:30 in the afternoon? Just go ahead and try to think of one, before you judge her... shame on you.

I’ve only hinted at this kind of thing here and there, but that’s because a) it’s been done many times before, and better, b) it doesn’t really bother me all that much, and c) it doesn’t come up as often for me as it does for others, because we don’t go out much during the day beyond the park, library, and my parents’ house (my dad is semi-retired and works mostly from home). That’s still enough, though, to generate a healthy inventory of stares, comments, and other encounters to make sure I know I am living a bizarre, unnatural life, and even that I only may or may not be providing any tangible benefit for my family or its well-being. And that I am merely lazy.

Actually, that very last part was just me projecting, because I got confused into thinking this was a confessional. Sorry, world.

So what does it feel like to be a man spending more than a few hours each evening with my children? (I’ve done that too, and will do it again, so I’m not bad-mouthing it.) Well, most days it feels an awful lot like moderate groin pain (moderate is an average of all days), because abusing groins is how children seem to amuse themselves. I think digging deeper into this area (no pun intended) may clue scientists into how we humans developed our traditionally rigid gender roles. Women have to be “fancy on the inside” (thanks, Mr. Rogers) as a measure of protection against our species’ sadistic and conveniently-heighted children.

That, or children are directed by women to help even the groin-pain score.

I’ll spare you any gory examples, because no one wants to hear about such things... wait, I’m just getting word that people LOVE to hear about such things… news to me. Okay, well, I already mentioned one in #5 of this post, and of course there’s the usual kneeing, stepping, and standing that kids of all ages make sure to do when climbing onto laps, particularly whenever a computer might be a momentary rival for parental attention*.

A more specific event, or ever-whimsical series of events, as it were, involves M-'s new habit of getting my attention (even when I'm already looking at her) by reaching up and quickly grabbing fistfuls of my pants until she finds something good to rupture inside. You may say, "But Dan, this just means you need to stop laying around blogging, playing videogames, watching movies, refusing to feed your children, and all the other things you clearly spend your entire day doing!"

Well, I will say to that that while I do obviously blog each day, and I occasionally play videogames, I generally do the latter with my children (that makes me a good father, right?) and only very seldom. That’s why I talk about it so much-- I’m pining. But most importantly, I promise you that while I may spend time doing some unconventional things, I make up for it by dedicating almost no time at all to cleaning or general household upkeep. So the time spent playing with my children or taking them places ends up evening out. So there.

In closing, my points are as follows:

Most people are inherently suspicious of stay-at-home dads (I'm sick of that term).

If you're thinking of becoming a Male Homemaker (is that better?), I'm not going to lie to you-- prepare to be ridiculously emasculated on an almost-daily basis. It's a good exercise, by fire, in beginning to truly not care what other people think (in the good way). This has been a difficult experience for me, but definitely rewarding.

Being a stay-at-home dad is a lot easier if you're bad at it, but you have to resist that temptation and find a balance. At the same time that society's expectations can put a lot of pressure on you, it also conversely takes a lot off, so much so that your wife will become insanely jealous of the behaviors people tolerate from you that might be ruled child neglect if she engaged in them.

4) We rarely clean our house, so I don't know when our kids might have friends come over.

I really wish my kids would stop hitting me in the nuts.

* As an aside (I know it’s uncharacteristic), let me just put the word out to any kids reading this-- when you knee me in the groin, even when I’m sitting down and semi-protected, while you will definitely get my attention, you will not win my affection. The computer certainly has never done that to me, and notice how many blog posts I’ve written-- get the message? I should expect this from M-, but I'd think D- would at least have an inkling of the need to be more careful. Maybe I’ll just have to hold out for that sympathy until his friends gracefully descend from the antechamber, as it were.

18 May 2008

Fivespot meme

I was tagged by Mamaneena to answer these eight questions related to the number five (my favorite number, coincidentally). I'm not sure why there aren't five questions, for symmetry, but here goes nothing:

What were you doing five years ago?
I was in Ireland on a one-month trip during college that was just awesome. J- was and still is very jealous, so I feel bad for saying again that it was just awesome. I made some good friends, saw lots of cool stuff across the country, learned some things about myself and Irish history, and of course, to make the College Trip complete, I did the cliche thing and got a tattoo (along with several other people) to commemorate the experience.

What are/were five things on your to-do list for today?
• Go to the park
• Go to the Festival of Cultures in our town
• Go bowling with J- (she took the next two days off to have a long, fun weekend)
• Go to the store
• Do some more straightening up around the house

What five snacks do you enjoy?
• Fresh bakery bread
• Raisins
• Walnuts
• Goldfish crackers
• Steamed broccoli with cheddar cheese

What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?
• Consult a financial advisor
• Buy a house
• Set up a strategic series of savings/investment accounts
• Give a bunch of money/gifts to my family, if they'd accept them
• Start handing out cash (anonymously, if necessary) to those in need

What are five of your bad habits?
• I procrastinate... this encompasses probably five sub-bad-habits all in one
• I spend too much time on the computer
• I make plans for my/our life without ever actually putting them into action
• I'm pretty lazy
• I'm not confrontational enough when I need to be, and too much so sometimes when I shouldn't be

What are five places you have lived?
• Morton Grove, IL
• Champaign, IL
• Urbana, IL
• Presque Isle, ME
• Skokie, IL

What are five jobs you have had?
• Caddy (golf)
• Movie theater supervisor
• Newspaper copy editor
• Temp - HR clerk/MSDS Inventory Specialist/etc.
Technical Writer/Editor

What five people do you want to tag?
SherE1 - His. Mine. Ours.
Mama Dawg - Two Dogs Running
Cassey - Diapers Sold Separately
TerriRainer - Terri Rainer Published Author
Christy - Heavy on the Caffeine

I haven't done one of these before, but it was fun. Two more of you (SherE1 and Mama Dawg) are waiting on me to post for your tags from last week, and I haven't forgotten. In the meantime, I tagged you back with this one to tide you over.

I hope you are all fascinated with the many things you learned about me, and will use them to change your life, and the world, for the better. I'm certain you all shall.

17 May 2008

Classic quotes, Vol. 2

As my way of taking a little break this weekend, today's post is just a short list of recent quotes from around our house, without any effort on my part to provide cohesiveness, theme, or even an introduction.

Other than that one, I guess.

D-: When will I have freckles? (totally out of nowhere)

J-: (to D-) This is like medicine to protect your skin from sunburn (drips a little on his hand). DON'T lick your hand!!

D-: (wearing a shirt with a breast pocket, before leaving for the park) If I find some rocks today, I can put them in this pocket... Daddy! If I find any potcorns or anything in the grass, I can put them in this pocket!

Me: (to J-, on phone) I can't talk to you when I'm driving in traffic! (I was playing MarioKart and didn't realize till I hung up how ridiculous it sounded.)

D-: She's just a little baby-o, but she takes a big bite! (Never were truer words spoken.)

J-: You do not hug people with the intent to hurt them!

D-: I am very disappointed in you, miss.

16 May 2008

My pity party: What did you bring me?

Let me start off by winning you over to my side: I cleaned the toilet the other day. Voluntarily. Just because it needed to be done.

I believe this deserves some kind of formal recognition, and I'm sure you agree. Granted, for most people, this might not be especially remarkable, but J- and I got married at (barely) 21 and 22, respectively, so we started out living like carefree college kids, which we actually were until a few big Cares entered the picture (then we were just college kids).

We've never really had time since those days to make conscious changes to our lifestyle, beyond those forced on us by life's meandering path. Our normal cleaning strategy has long been just to not to, as they say. So doing something as significant as this makes me feel like we might soon have a real household, like real people, all because of me. I think that's worth at least an hour of videogames, an extra day to sleep in, and a week's worth of free lecture notes, don't you, dudes?

Actually, since J- is going to have to take some extra courses to complete her Illinois teaching certification (Maine doesn't require as much special ed coursework), she'll temporarily be a college kid once again. Maybe I can offer to write a term paper for her if she dusts something or washes the bathtub. There's got to be a first time for everything, right?*

Now that I'm sure you're almost fully in favor of my position, I'll add that I also have recently taken up making sure the kids vacuum pretty regularly, along with personally sweeping the kitchen and dining room. On one or more occasions, I've even mopped and wiped our counters and stove. I mean, did you hear that? Mopped!! I will admit that I had little choice, what with all the cereal, milk, and urine, but still-- let's give credit where credit is due, please!

And now that I no doubt have much sympathy and support from across the country and indeed across the world**, I shall prepare to present my case to my wife. Wish me luck!

* In rereading this, I realized a footnote was in order to barely keep me out of potential trouble: I mean to say not that J- has never cleaned things, but specifically that neither of us has actually scrubbed our tub since we moved in last summer (there's a window in the shower that seems to keep things at bay), and we don't even own any type of dusting apparatus, technically, beyond some washcloths that might be employed for such a purpose. Does this make us bad people?

** Some of you regular visitors are from at least 6 different countries, and we have occasional guests from 23 total so far-- isn't that fun? Who knew that they had The Internets in other countries now? I should alert "our president" to this potential excuse to raise the Terror Alert Level!

15 May 2008

Oedipus had it far too simple

Wow, some things are just universal and they astound me. The other day, J- was laying on the couch near D-, holding M- over her head, saying, "One day, you guys are going to find somebody to marry who loves you so much and is so nice and takes care of you."

D- immediately responded, "Probably Katie, I'll marry-- she's nice." So apparently he's got his life pretty well set out for himself, when you consider that in addition to his now-scheduled marriage to his aunt, he's already identified approximately 400 hundred movies he'll watch, many activities he'll perform, and various things he'll learn "when [he] turn[s] 10".

The funny thing is, a well-worn story in our family goes as follows: when both of my brothers (at about 4 and 3) simultaneously claimed the right to marry my mom when they grew up before being informed she was already spoken for, my oldest brother then declared he'd instead marry our cousin, who apparently had the next longest tenure as Girl We Know. My other brother thought for a second and then moved on down the logical line of succession in his mind, and called dibs on her younger brother.

I'm sure somewhere deep down, despite all his happiness in subsequent relationships (with women, of course), my brother must have been just a little bit heartbroken when his backup fell through and my cousin got married, and then somewhat sadly resigned when they had a baby.

14 May 2008

Developments at our house, Vol. 7

Here are yet more developments at our house in recent days:

1. M- discovered that sweaty little baby feet can do double-duty as handy tools for recovering food dropped on the floor. As a bonus, you save time and money by never having to refill your salt shaker!

2. I'm thinking I'll have to update my (joking, of course) lists of reasons why D- may or may not be homosexual, given how consistently he has been picking either Princess Peach or Baby Princess Peach the handful of times I've let him play MarioKart Wii.

3. M- tried to inspire a new Conversation with M- by, once every day for a week, climbing up on my lap and then shouting "Ear!" before trying to stick something in my ear, such as a car, a toy phone antenna, and (on several occasions) the aglet from a bear's shoelace. At least she gave me some warning so I could dodge them, which is a lesson she apparently learned from when she ambushed me and my eye later on.

4. J- and I have decided what to spend our stimulus payment on-- gas for the car and food for our children! I can't wait till the installation guys deliver that stuff and plug it in! Woo!!

5. M- found that rather than silence the cries for breakfast (which take the place of greetings) that threaten to wake D- early every morning, Daddy sticking a goldfish cracker in her mouth before quickly carrying her out of the room merely allows her to reach a new tonal range on "hunnnnnngreeeeeeee!"

6. Continuing #5, I've learned that I need to stuff at least three Goldfish crackers in M-'s mouth when I get her in the morning, to make her believe she will be fed right away just like she is every single day. Even if she doesn't believe it, I suppose, she may at least find it more difficult to speak in this state.

That, or I may just end up with a couple of damp Goldfish stuck to my face.

7. I have decided that the world can ignore its meteorologists when trying to decide what the weather will be like on a given day, and instead rely solely on whether I am wearing pants vs. shorts and/or have a jacket or umbrella with me to tell them what the weather will not be like. It's been a logic-defying couple of weeks for this effect.

8. D- spelled the word "Bee" all by himself, which brings his total spelling count to about 10-- I told him how proud I am of him, but I kept to myself that the logical next step for the near future is for him to become Professor of English Language History at Oxford. He'll discover that by himself When He's Five (the glorified time in which almost all things will happen).

9. I've been absolutely overwhelmed by your response to my nomination for Best Daddy Blog-- you guys are awesome! I owe you all big time. Just let me know when you want to collect. One caveat: I don't do windows.

10. I'm exceedingly proud of myself for defying my OCD demons and leaving this list at 9 items instead of rounding it out to ten... dammit!

13 May 2008

Support your local blogger!

I just wanted to call time out to shamelessly take care of a little business:

I realized that those of you receiving my posts via e-mail or feed won't see that I've put up an announcement on the blog itself about my nomination for Best Daddy Blog at the Best of Blogs site. Vote for me today and tell all your friends to do the same, or so help me, I will begin tickling this baby, and I may even eat her tummy-- I'm just crazy enough to do it!

It's the second-best way you can support this blog, to keep the rambling stories and parenthetical statements coming!

As long as I'm shaking you down for votes and clicks, I'll also mention that I recently signed up at a fun site called Humor-blogs.com, a pretty self-explanatory index of funny blogs that are peer-reviewed and rated as well as ranked by the amount of traffic they drive to Humor-blogs.com from their site. So any time you're in a mood to peruse some other attempted-humor-based blogs similar to but better than this one, please do click through to that site. Even once this post gets buried, you can still find the link in my Of Interest to Me and Membership lists to the right.*

Okay, now I need to go take a shower to remove the stench of desperate self-promotion, along with that of baby pee. Though when you think about it, the shower is probably the worst place at our house to hide from pee. Nevertheless, I shall endure, and I'll be back tomorrow with more of whatever it is I do. While I'm gone, please read, or re-read, through previous posts to remember me in more humble and amusingly painful times...

* In addition, I always encourage you to visit the blogs of my readers who have them-- MamaNeena, SherE1, Cassey, Mama Dawg, Christy, TerriRainer, Mrs. 4444, Rikki, Mrs. B Roth, and Feisty Charlie. (Let me know if I missed anyone.)

12 May 2008

Silver lining: Monocles are cooler than glasses

Continuing with yesterday's post about the probable complete loss of my right eye, now that I'm presumably a bit more composed, I'll say in M-'s defense that she had been supposedly coming over to give me a hug (which, to complete the ruse, was telegraphed by a call of " 'ug! 'ug!!") and she ostensibly just got a bit carried away.

This particular snake puppet is naturally made of pretty rigid plastic, including a potent little forked tongue that apparently comes factory-equipped with a hunger for fresh corneas. Well, I can assure you that this was one happy little snake, because he got his fill that day of his favorite flavor.

I had been sitting on the floor with the kids, so after the assault, I simply laid down with my hand over my eye, wishing awful, awful things on most of the world (nothing personal, by the way). J-, being a self-trained EMT as well as a teacher, calmly took charge of the situation by remaining on the couch and asking if I was okay between bouts of hearty laughter. I refused to answer, instead just laying there breathing slowly through gritted teeth.

D- then decided to try his hand at crisis management by leaning over my still-covered snakebit eye and asking (in a very tender voice), "You okay? Where does it hurt?" Even in that moment I recognized the sweetness, as well as the fact that through his previous injury experience we have programmed our robot well. However, in my pointless anger (you get used to this feeling after dealing with babies), the latter question seemed so colossally stupid that I couldn't bring myself to answer without undeserved sarcasm, so I just stayed silent like my mother taught me.

J- made sure M- said sorry (pronounced, as always, "Rah-zhee"), but that girl was remarkably jolly during the whole ordeal, due to the undeniable fact that she still had this awesome snake head on her finger, dripping precious drops of scleral fluid as it forever will whenever I close my eye.

This previously useless little goody bag prize had been blessed that day to discover its two Special Purposes within the same hour-- first to pounce upon all human eyes in reach as an attempt to level the playing field for the animal kingdom, and second to give great joy to 15-month-olds for whole minutes at a time (an eternity) while inspiring them to practice their maniacal laughs (I kid you not-- priceless). During these exultations, M- several times reached her new weapon towards the Baby Gods* in thanks and tribute, a la He-Man and his Power Sword, until she reached a height of about 31 inches, at which time she fell over backwards from stretching too far.

Much of the charm of this display, and almost all of the visuals, were lost on me at the time as I lay there quietly suffering, or I might have been able to capture some pictures. I'm a little wary, as you might imagine, of reuniting these two powerful entities in the interests of re-creating the moment, because I fear she might quickly scuttle up my front, sit on my shoulders, and repeatedly stab me in the left eye to finish the job she started this weekend. Or at least that's the vision my Dream Shaman showed me sometime last night, just before I woke up to the eerily appropriate sound of D- crying.

So that's the story of what happened-- I can discuss the fallout (regrets, memories, plans for the future, etc.) tomorrow or the next day, and then I'm sure I'll be done talking about my eyeballs for the rest of my life. Or at least the next month or so.

* Copyright hereby claimed for all derivative works and toy/book/other licensing. Any similarities to The Muppet Babies are entirely coincidental though probably advisable.

Editor's Note: The saga continues, believe it or not, here.

11 May 2008

I didn't need that eye, anyway

Let me start by wishing all you mothers out there a Happy Mother's Day. It's probably belated, since I'm sure most of you won't read this until tomorrow, unless one of your well-deserved selfish activities for today is to read all the blogs you want in peace. If that's the case, good for you!

If I sound like I'm typing this with only one eye, I'll just say that you, sir or madam, are exceedingly perceptive.

Furthermore, I'll assume you are sympathetic and genuinely want to know more details of how I came to be this way. Addressing your first point, I wish to express my gratitude but to offer pettily that it doesn't quite make the pain go away, and addressing your second point, I can certainly find it in me to indulge you with my tale of woe, spun as well as I can muster in my present state:

My own daughter stabbed me in the f***ing eye with a novelty snake-head finger puppet.

...More tomorrow, if I survive.

10 May 2008

May I have your attention, please?

Or, How do I let them know that because of the unfreezing process, I have no inner monologue?*

Just to forewarn those of you who haven't spent much time with children, you definitely need to be aware before you do so that anything you do or say can and will be used against you in the form of a public announcement.

To illustrate this with an inconsequential anecdote, yesterday evening J- and I were dividing and conquering at the store, and when we saw each other again we walked parallel for a few aisles until we got to a clear one we could meet in, which happened to be the "Wine and Spirits" aisle. I made some little joke about how J- must be there shopping from her own personal list for a perfect Mother's Day, and then D- all but shouted to us, two feet away, "What's ALcoHOL??"

Before I could even address this complicated question (for at least the fifth time so far), M- seconded him by shouting at the top of her lungs, which would be unbelievably powerful for a person thrice her size, "ALCOHOL!!!"

I have easily five thousand more examples, many of situations that were actually awkward, unlike this one, and that's factoring in that my kids are both pretty good in this respect, compared to other ones I've heard and J-'s reports from the various schools she's worked in. Little kids will ask, or repeat, absolutely anything that's on their mind, at any time, regardless of who can hear them. Volume control is developed pretty late in childhood.

I've tried to express to D- why it's not nice to talk about people when they are in your presence, even if you're saying something nice or (the best you can usually hope for) innocuous, but I haven't had too much luck so far, based on his behavior just this morning while the landlord and some "worker guys" were here fixing our windows. Beyond the nice and innocuous things, it seems pretty self-explanatory why you shouldn't ask or say something rude about somebody when they can hear you, but D- taught us long ago that the understanding of "rudeness" is developed some time after volume control.

Let me give you a quick rundown:
• "Why does that man have no hair?"
• "How come that lady's skin is all... crinkly??"
• (in a public bathroom) "What was that sound?"
• (re: more than one landlord) "Why is him in our house?"
• (re: our current landlord) "Why does him have no socks on?"
• (re: our former landlord, a Northern Maine potato farmer) "Why does him have dirt all over him?" and "Why doesn't he take his shoes off?"
• "I smell something baaaad."

And of course there's the ever-popular, "I don't like him."

Given time, I'm sure I'll remember at least a few dozen more quotes I've thus far almost completely repressed. How about you? Have you all got any good ones?

* A great quote from the original Austin Powers.

09 May 2008

Women: Can't live with 'em, can't eat your own string cheese

The world didn't seem all that funny to me this morning... among other things, I hate banks.

So this is the kind of thing I watch on days like this:

Just click play, and enjoy the random sampling of the wonders YouTube has to offer our troubled civilization.

Something else to remind me that the world is funny: thinking of that time M- cornered a younger boy at library storytime "trying to get him to understand" that she wanted to eat his string cheese. She only knows people who share their food with her, so she quickly became desperate as she ran through her whole repertoire hoping something would register with him-- "mah, peez", "biiiiite, bite"... even signing for more.

And when I say signing for more, I mean she was standing over him, repeatedly signing right in his face. Not aggressively, mind you, but more like, "Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth??" (funnier if you enjoyed the movie Rush Hour). I'm positive he knew exactly what she wanted, but he of course just wanted to squat in the corner and eat his string cheese in peace.

Even if M- had learned already how to instead use subtle hints and suggestions to get the boy to give her his string cheese and make him think it was his idea, he was nowhere near old enough to be blinded by any accursed motivation to allow this to happen. So she was destined for failure, short of using brute force, and he gained a valuable preview for the long life ahead of him.

And, for the record, this all happened very quickly, across the room, and by the time she was signing in his face I picked her up and explained that it was his string cheese and she had her own food to eat if she was hungry. Still, the bewildered and overwhelmed look on the boy's face was just priceless. If I'd had a stick of string cheese on me, I would have tossed it to him and just said, "Women, huh?"

And he would have stuck to his original plan of running back to his mommy.

08 May 2008

Teach a man to fish...

As I sit here typing a blog post while D- happily vacuums, I'm starting to think that Cinderella's stepmother was onto something. Cindy just had a bad attitude-- she wasn't a team player. Let's all do our best to investigate and rewrite that history for the stepmother's sake-- just because Cinderella got to become queen doesn't mean we should all have only one side of the story.

I mean, what became of all those loyal talking animals of hers? I doubt she would let them cramp her style once she had some human friends (and slaves). I'm sure there's some horrible dirt to be dug here, worth at least one Lifetime Original Movie and a big fat check.

Anyway, welcome back from Tangent Land...

Now that D-'s got vacuuming down, I just need to teach M- better broom-handling skills, and then we can all move on to mopping, scrubbing, and dusting.

It's the least they can do after waking me up (in tag-team fashion) this morning at 5:45 (hence this scattershot, sub-par post). On the bright side, I got to say goodbye to J-, I suppose. Still, I have a headache in my temples that is certainly not being assuaged by the sound of a plastic hammer banging a scrap of wood-- D- has finished vacuuming and moved on to simple home repairs.

Hmmmm... maybe I could stop handing him "pretend nails" on demand for him to "make magic with this wood" and instead hand him my drill, level, real nails, and all these pictures I'm supposed to hang. On second thought, I don't want them all hung 4 feet off the floor, giving him a step stool wouldn't be safe, and if I felt like helping him, I'd probably be doing it myself in the first place.

I'm a bad, bad, lazy person. But whaddya gonna do?

07 May 2008

Household occurrences likely to revisit me in nightmares

Here are several events at our house, most from this morning alone, that I believe I'll be seeing replayed in some form in the coming nights whenever I manage some sleep:

1. M- firmly poking the bottom of an open box of cereal on the table and me lunging forward to catch it just before it turned upside down. I haven't always been so lucky. (In my nightmares, I'm sure the box will always be just out of my reach.)

2. D- standing on the rug between the dining room and kitchen saying, "I'm having an accident!"

3. M- streaking through the dining room with a Spider-Man fork stolen from the dishwasher.

4. M- climbing all over me like a boa constrictor, onto and off of the chair, moaning, "No, no, no, noooooo!" over and over again for no apparent reason other than sniffles and crankiness (it was before 8).

5. D- holding a ball and taking aim at my happy place while I demonstrate how to stand upon the parallel bars at the park. (Luckily it was only a Nerf ball so it didn't hurt, but still I saw the look in his eye-- it was a vicious one expectant of painful hilarity.)

6. M- taunting D- by walking across the family room with his Corduroy bear and, instead of giving it back as originally ordered, slapping him twice across the face with it (like Monty Python's Fish Slapping Dance) and running back away.

7. Driving off a giant mushroom and falling into a bottomless pit, like I did a couple times last night in MarioKart Wii. (In my nightmares, I'm sure the magic man on the cloud will never come to save me.)

8. M- splashing her hands in the toilet saying, "Pee-pee, pee-PEEEE!" (we've gotten thisclose to it several times now), before bidding it bye-bye while waving as she has been doing for the past few weeks.

9. Closing a fresh, clean diaper, standing up and turning around, and then detecting a dreadful hint of baby byproducts. Yes, M- tends to be picky where she defecates, but then so do some adults.

10. A massacre by a rampaging spoon-spork hybrid. Okay, I only read about it, but I have a very impressionable brain, and things like that tend to stick. At least it's better than a velociraptor attack.

Things that should revisit me in my dreams:

1. M- comforting a crying D- by saying, "eye-ing", offering a kiss and hug, and then sitting down to let him read her the book (Good Night, Maine) they had been fighting over earlier.

06 May 2008

Betcha thought I wasn't posting today

Well, I considered taking today off from posting, for the first time since February, but I don't think my obsessive-compulsive disorder will yet allow me. Rest assured, though, as promised on May Day, I'll be taking a couple days off per week soon enough.

The reason I thought to take today off was not because I walked 7 miles yesterday; nor because D- woke me up at 6:45 this morning, wide awake and begging for food (after not getting to bed until 9 o'clock last night-- he normally sleeps at least 12 hours); nor because I have a million chores to do; nor because it is beautiful outside again today; nor because D- is standing next to me shirtless, slapping his belly and asking when we can go to the Exploritorium; nor because M- is a little clingy and has the sniffles. No, the reason is because my lovely wife also has the sniffles, which, when combined with some particularly fervent insanity at work recently, meant that when she woke up this morning, she decided today was not a day to persevere.

So I'm posting this little notice while she naps on the couch, but once I click Publish Post, I shall be gone for the day to have lunch as a family, walk to the park, visit the Exploritorium (score one for D-), play some MarioKart Wii (just got it=very exciting), make some dinner together, and maybe watch a movie.

And with any luck, several hilarious things will happen en route to bed to provide me with something to write about the rest of this week. Fare thee well!

05 May 2008

The joy of caprice

M- cannot believe she's being allowed outside in 6-month-old pantsAs an antidote to yesterday's tirade, I will note that one plus of having a girl is that last season's pants become this season's capris, or at least they do when Daddy is in charge of her wardrobe. All you have to do is wait a couple extra months for them to cross the "I think she's grown out of those pants, sir" threshold into the "Oh my gosh, what adorable pants! I have to know where you got them!!" zone*.

Incidentally, both of these statements are likely to be met with identical shrugs from me at library time. While I appreciate a cute outfit as much as the next guy, I'd much rather buy an array of identical futuristic jumpsuits for each kid, and never have to spend another 10 minutes tracking down something to dress each one in that won't get me A) in trouble or B) on some kind of watch list down at Child Services.

Consequently, J- and our female friends and relatives are in charge of all children's clothing purchases, and I am merely the middle manager who issues them on most days.

In my defense, I'll say that if they're good enough for Catholic (and gang-combatting) schools, the inevitable future, and most low-paid workplaces, uniforms are good enough for our kids and the rest of society. Three cheers for The Unitard of Tomorrow!

* I never got into the latter zone when D- was younger. Without fail, pants would somehow change from looking fine to making me look like a mental defective once I got him to daycare. This was especially an issue with overalls, due to their devious ability of the straps to allow the pant cuffs to hang down to the feet even when the crotch was somewhere around their knees. Am I really expected to notice this fine detail when I'm in a rush to get to work?**

** I still occasionally have this problem with M-, as no one yet makes capri-style overalls. Yet.

04 May 2008

A onesie for all seasons

Having just yesterday packed to the gills a 22-gallon tub with baby clothes M- has outgrown, I can promise you that I have quite a few issues with the children's clothing industry. Let me further clarify that, as a man, and in fact at least in this respect a super-man, when I pack a tub, you can be sure there's no need to worry about moths because there isn't more than a cubic centimeter of air left inside that thing.

That's a lot of clothes. And I'm not quite done yet.

Like most corporations, the clothing makers in this country (and now worldwide, as the virus spread long ago) have discovered that with fiendishly effective planning, they can make sure most of their products are functionally useless to anyone shortly after their purchase. If they play their cards right and things last just long enough that people forget exactly when they bought them, no one will be surprised or even upset by their deterioration. It's a fine line to tread.

For instance, people have forgotten by now that cars used to last for decades without fatal problems-- you could easily be driving a car today from the '50s in roughly the same condition as a car from the '90s (I can personally vouch for the low quality of American cars from the '90s). Anyway, that's a separate rant.

As I packed away clothes, some of which M- never got a chance to wear, I saw things marked 9 months that were smaller than things marked 3-6 months, and on down the line. I mean, I expect shoes to vary a bit by maker-- I wear a size 13 in Nikes, Reeboks, and most dress shoes, but I can get by with a 12 in New Balance and some other more generously-sized shoes. With baby clothes, I'm talking about M- still wearing 3-9 months onesies, while we pack away 12-month-sized pants and shirts.

The stated size on clothes is nearly meaningless except in relation to other clothes of the exact same type made by that particular company. I say this because even within a single company, you can have absolutely no faith in the actual size of a piece of clothing or the way it will fit. This leaves people (like me 4 years ago) who have no idea what a baby looks like at a certain age, or what is appropriate for one to wear, to just guess at what they should buy for a gift and to be wrong most of the time. Out of guilt, the parents will put the kid in it once and take a picture, then it's off to a consignment shop at best, or a garbage dump in most cases.

The same happens often when parents themselves buy something and find out one maker prewashes clothes for a more accurate sizing gauge while most others do not, and some of them make clothes so primed to shrink to half their size at the slightest touch of moisture that I'm surprised boxes don't violently implode on loading docks across the country whenever it rains a little.

The worst of all wasted kids' clothes are the holiday or season-specific clothes. Granted, it may be cute to have a timely piece of clothing on a baby, but do you know how maddening it is to later have a perfectly good onesie sitting in the drawer unavailable for selection on laundry day just because it says, "Bee Mine" or "SomeBunny Loves Me"? I'll answer that rhetorical question for you-- it's quite maddening.

I can promise you that you and your child will not be greeted with quite the same amusement or adoration when people see the same whimsical clothing they loved so much earlier in the year out of that season. I can also promise you that your significant other will not appreciate your efforts to "Fight The Man" by taking her kid outside the house wearing a shirt with a kitten in a witch's hat popping out of a pumpkin anytime outside of October.

I saw pieces of clothing yesterday I would have thought were meant for dolls had I not seen them only lightly stretched across a much larger baby not that many months ago. I saw several shirts wider than they are long, and if you think I'm exaggerating, I encourage you to double-check the name of this blog and then be assured that I did in fact take out my tape measure so I could report to anyone who cares that at least one of these shirts was eight inches long and TEN AND A HALF INCHES wide from seam to seam. The visual effect of this differential is hard to capture in words, but unfortunately I don't have a picture for you because this particular shirt is currently gasping for breath somewhere in the middle of the aforementioned tub.

My answer to this problem is for more clothing manufacturers to remember that just like there is a finite number of customers for their products(hence the crappy quality of most merchandise), there is also a finite amount of space on this planet for useless products. Make more timeless clothing, more unisex clothing, and more clothing that allows for differently-shaped and -sized children, as well as the constant growth of said children.

Right now, the accommodation for this "startling phenomenon" is a niche market, catering to those who care, but it shows that it can be done. Someone even came up with a shoe that can expand to cross over (I think) two full shoe sizes, which means it's one pair taking the place of four. I saw it quite awhile ago so I don't have a link for you all, but if you're interested, I'm sure you may either already know of them or know where to find them.

I'm breaking off the end of this post into a new one for tomorrow, since this is already so long, but rest assured I'm spent and tomorrow's post is much more fun.

03 May 2008

Can't you smell that smell?

So recently, the office in our apartment (which is really more like an overgrown screened balcony) has taken on, shall we say, a horrendously unpleasant odor. Now, I don't mean to insult the office by suggesting it smelled like our neighbors were cooking again, because this was quite a different smell. Nor did we think we had somehow left a diaper in there (we closed up shop during the winter and don't go in there often).

No, this smelled distinctly like some kind of animal, such as a mouse, had crawled into a corner somewhere and quietly shuffled off this mortal coil.

Upon further investigation, it turned out to be merely the smell of damp old carpet, due to a leak somewhere in the wall. After even further investigation, however, it turns out I was partially right (one can generally assume that I'm always at least partially right). When moving everything away from the wall where the rain was leaking in, I discovered what can only be described as a mouse that is not alive:

This mouse, name unknown, was discovered dead of embarrassing causesHow long this poor bastard lay there decomposing, I'm not sure, but I don't envy the condition or stench of his surroundings. Of course, he's clearly been dead, or possibly undead, for decades or longer, so I doubt he noticed much.

A wake was held between 1pm and 1:01pm on Friday, May 1, at My Office Funeral Home. The deceased was then laid to rest in Toy Chest Memorial Cemetary.

02 May 2008

Classic quotes, Vol. 1

Here's the inaugural collection of random quotes from around our house:

J-: I hate when people are generous with my time.

J-: (on phone after a bad day at work) And I was just thinking, "What's going on, and who turned on the vacuum switch to my soul?"

D-: Do you have any more of those tasty nuts?

D-: We should have a boy-girl next year, that would be fun, wouldn't it? We should grow that next year.

D-: (after I picked up a Lincoln Log) That's my hammer stick! Don't drop it in the box or I won't be able to tell which one it is!

D-: (very pissy) Is it helpful that they give me a bunch more little tiny ones [Lincoln Logs] so I can't build a garage for this house? No, it's not helpful.

D-: (sternly) Daddy, there is no drink in the refrigerator for me, and I'm very frustrated. (now very pointedly emphasizing each word while seeming to look over imaginary glasses) There's no drink in the refrigerator, and I'm very frustrated.

D-: Look how much I can fit in my mouth!

D-: (posing with his guitar at his microphone stand) This is a song about 'bisheradda'. I don't know what that means, but I'm gonna sing it.

Me: [Something insanely witty and hilarious-- I'll pause for laughter]

M-: (after being told her crackers are all gone, placing her finger on my eyelid and holding it there in a vaguely threatening manner) Eyyye.

01 May 2008

Note to self: Insert funny title later

Well, I'm coming up on 100 posts, and I feel like I'm slipping into a little lull as I've done about once a month so far. I'm then usually saved by a day or two where I write most of 7 posts or so all at once, so don't worry.

I think after I hit 100, I'll try switching to posting only 5 days a week, since it seems like most of you take the weekend off and just catch up on Monday, anyway. I'm sure it's best in the long run for my ability to keep chugging away at crafting these teardrops of genius I call blog posts. (Humor me, please.) I haven't yet had much tangible success in getting the kids to write their own entries, but I'll keep working at it.

I mean, wouldn't you rather hear it straight from the source why M- chooses to 1) snack on dust bunnies, 2) put shoes on her head while laughing maniacally, or 3) demand tributes of Rice Chex she doesn't want to eat? Or why D- 1) is obsessed with blankets and cloths, 2) doesn't allow anyone else to pretend about what he is pretending, or 3) doesn't understand how everyone else knows when he has to go to the bathroom before he seems to?

Anyway, I think you can expect roughly the same amount and quality (whatever that may be) of content, just distributed a little differently. If you happen to have some free time on an off day and curse my very name for not allowing you to procrastinate the way we all love, please do peruse my blogroll and other links on the right for some reliable entertainment. Then you can keep the dishes and chores at bay the same way we do around here!

To help this post qualify as such, here's a miniature Conversation with D-:

D-: (responding to my suggestion with a serious, patronizing face, burying his amusement) My books could not swim in the water and bite me like a fish.

Me: (unable to contain laughter at his demeanor) You make me laugh!

D-: Yes. I do. Write that in your bwog.

Ever the obedient servant, I've done as commanded.