31 December 2012

2012: The Year We Make... Stuff Up

Well, as you may or may not have already observed, we're all still here, living and breathing. Even waiting a couple weeks to factor in some rounding errors that might have skewed things a bit, the world seems much the same as it was not that long ago, and it seems safe to say that the world stands as much chance of ending as it ever does, just like we found out after hitting the year 2000 without planes falling from the sky.*

Are we all that hard up for some real, guilt-free drama and plain-dealing in our lives?

Yes, yes we are.

Sometimes it feels like we've peaked, at least here in the "First World", and the only productive way to go is sideways, to something more elemental, and beautiful... a place and time where all these idle things we've created don't really matter, all the filters we've built between ourselves as humans dissipate. A place where the person shuffling imaginary sums of money from one place to another finds the bulk of her life's experience suddenly useless, and the man with the hand-dug fallout shelter, fully stocked armory**, and decades-long supply of canned food is king.

But then the movie ends, we walk out with our heads down, and we forget all about that nonsense while scrolling through Tumblr pages for updates on our favorite memes, or while monitoring comments on our pictures of food we were about to eat at some point.

But hey, sometimes it just takes a minute to shake out the cobwebs and remember what's really important, right? Here and now, or there and then, and family, and not... stuff... or whatever somebody else reposted on Facebook once that sounded really deep 'n' shit.

Here's to another new year of more of the same! But moreso!

* Good thing, too, because I was on one that day, off to meet my future wife for the first time. We'll never beat those plane fares!

** To finally get a chance to protect his toothless, malnourished children with the finest matériel tens of thousands of dollars can buy!

28 December 2012

Things that amuse me, Vol. 14

Here are a few of the things that have been amusing me recently:

1. The Angry Birds folks obviously have very effectively marketed themselves to potential advertisers, based on ads that have popped up when I've played recently, such as "Time Management Problems?" or "Having Trouble Getting Organized?".

2. Santa is not yet my 2-year-old son E-'s favorite Kringle, since he was exposed to the delicious pastry of the same name, and immediately decided to add it to the elite team of words that is his currently limited vocabulary. "King-goh!"

3. It's recently come to my attention that the Fates have decided to challenge me --a man who has been known to create the world's most perfect food by slapping two slices of pizza together like PBJ, and who considers mashed potatoes a viable condiment-- with a sandwich-impaired son. Faster than I can contain messy nutrients in handy shells of bread products, my E- pulls it all apart and consumes most of it separately. Why this? Why now? Why me??

4. When you're stretched out on the couch with a laptop, plugging away at the same old mindless tasks while working from home, and you start floating up toward the ceiling, it's likely that you seamlessly nodded off at some point without noticing the difference. Also, you were probably mock-typing in the air like a puppy chasing invisible rabbits for longer than you think. It's not disappointing in the same way as a cheap twist ending in a stale TV show, but it's arguably much worse in a more meaningful way.

12 December 2012

Classic quotes, Vol. 42

Here are a few more recent quotes from my 8-year-old son D- and my 5-year-old daughter M-:

M- (after M- mentioned kitten scratches and J- & I both sang "cat scraaatch feverrr" accompanied by mouth guitars): Is that from a commercial for a hospital??

D- (incredibly intense, as M- began to urgently tell me about something unimportant while I was "sleeping" on the couch): M-, are you INSANE?!?

M- (holding up a paper saying "POO" in large letters): Look, I spelled "pool"!

M- (speaking sternly to her 2-year-old brother E-, who is obsessed with her stuff): As I already ESTABLISHED, this pink ball is MINE!

And a classic from this summer, when we were desperately trying to bathe 8 kittens to rid them of a flea infestation:

M- (eyes wide, enjoying the carnage): It's like a KITTEN nursery in here! Except a kitten nursery run by DRUNK people, who have no idea what they're doing!

28 November 2012

A conversation between M- and D-: It's "Anything Doody" time!

Short and to the point, this is how my 8-year-old son D- and 5-year-old daughter M- spend much of their free time:

M- (her part of some random chit-chat I'd tuned out): ...duty.

D- (starts to laugh): Wait, do you mean the FUNNY "doody", or the normal, serious "duty"?

M- (almost disappointed in herself): The serious one.

D- (soberly): Oh.

You may enjoy my previous D- conversations, M- conversations, and (wife) J- conversations, as well as my future (<2YO son) E- conversations.

20 November 2012

A conversation between M- and E-: Weggo my wego

The following is a conversation that just took place in our playroom, where my 8-year-old son D- and 5-year-old daughter M- were each playing with Legos in their own way, after my buddingly verbal almost-2-year-old son E- happily waltzed in. I think it pretty well captures their relationship most of the time, these days.

E- (idly content): Wehhh-gooooooes...

M- (sounding not unlike Ian McKellan's Gandalf): E-, this is my tower, and you cannot touch it!

E- (decisively oblivious): TOUUUUCH!

M-: No, DON'T touch it!


M-: Arghhhhhh!

You may enjoy my previous D- conversations, M- conversations, and (wife) J- conversations, as well as my future E- conversations.

30 October 2012

Classic quotes, Vol. 41

Here are a few more recent quotes from my 8-year-old son D-, my 5-year-old daughter M-, and my nearly-2-year-old son E-:

D- (having been shown an "I'm too busy to be organized!" mug I'd gotten for my wife J-): Hey! Mom should put that on her desk! ...Because she's always so busy... that she can't be... organized.

E- (coming into his family heritage, waking unwillingly as I laid him down to change him one morning): Eyes! (rolling away, pawing at his face) Wight! (openly frustrated that I just don't seem to get it) Bwight!!

D- (seeing an Adidas footprint in the dirt): Hey look! It says AIDS in the footprint!

M- (vehemently disputing D-'s account of her assault): I didn't punch him in the EYE... I punched him in the FOREhead!!

D- (referring to a man speaking through a megaphone to a crowd of kids): That's not a very loud... shouty-thingy.

27 October 2012

A conversation with M- and D-: How many licks does it take?

The following is a recent conversation I had with my 8-year-old son D- and 5-year-old daughter M-, the tone of which is predictably not all that rare around here:

D- (sharing an announcement with the world) : She LICKed meeeeee!

M- (feebly beginning a defense): No...

Me: M-, did you lick him?

M- (thinking better of it): Yes... Because he was being a jerk, and wouldn't stop!

Me: It's not a good strategy to use your germs as a weapon. And it's never a good idea to ever LICK an 8-year-old...

D- (almost proudly): Yeah, especially THIS one!

You may enjoy my previous D- conversations, M- conversations, and (wife) J- conversations.

29 September 2012

Amusing searches, Vol. 18

Here are more of the most amusing searches that have brought people here, in no particular order.

(All search strings are reprinted exactly as they were entered, and the search text links to the post at which the visitor arrived.)

things i enjoy my wife hates (Akron, OH) - If you're looking for tips and advice, I unfortunately have nothing much to offer you, but I can say that wives have notoriously poor taste and questionable judgment.

RI ESCORTS (Warwick, RI) - This was clearly a smart search, because YOU KNOW I AM ALL ABOUT THE RHODE ISLAND EXCORTS, my friend!!*

when to label a 5 year old girl as homosexual (Quezon City, The Philippines) - How about, "Never"? Is Never an acceptable answer? You'll find out in good time, or not at all, depending on her comfort level...

PEE (Norvenich, Germany) - Either PEE is a legitimate, dignified acronym in Germany, or I think maybe this was supposed to be some kind of horrible image/video search.

waxelene for vagina (Valencia, CA) - Sorry, can't help you at the moment, I haven't tried using it on my vagina yet.

* Given that you arrived here via an amusing Internet search yourself, sir, it was probably a bit awkward in an "uh-oh, too late" kind of way when you landed on a post in which I was mocking the previous searches of others. Sorry you had to see that... and I'll be sorrier if you ever happen upon this one in future searches. Just make sure it's a good one! No reason...

25 September 2012

Classic quotes, Vol. 40

Here are a few of the recent quotes (that I remembered to write down) from my 8-year-old son D-, my 5-year-old daughter M-, and my 20-month-old son E- (still not yet on the banner!):

M- (seemingly unburdened by Knowing It All, dropping some knowledge on her older brother): Did you know, that cheese is just dried, hard milk? (waving around her wrapped, pre-sliced piece of cheese-like food substance) Just like... floppy milk?

D- (seeing a "No Grills Allowed" sign as we drove through a park entrance to the soccer fields): Whoa! Wait, what?!? This park says, "NO GIRLS ALLOWED"!!

M- (already pushing fashion limits, when I asked if she was there to give us all a Belly Show with the size-4T shirt she had on): If it's only a small belly show, it's okay...

E- (though barely verbal, being under 2, when asked if he wanted "a cookie"): Two!!

M- (sprinkling some color in her daily gossip, trumping up her tattling charges on some kid I don't know): And then she started saying... you know that BAD word, that starts with F??!?*

* After a bit of internal hubbub on our part, it turned out to be "fart", which is odd since it's not considered a "bad word" in our house, though I may have been known to discourage them from shouting it out at the dinner table.

31 August 2012

A lion in autumn

An e-mail I recently received from Buy.com asked the deceptively simple question, "What will you be this Halloween?"

That quandary was immediately and permanently addressed within the body of that very e-mail, in the form of a timeless treasure buried beneath a pile of boring, foolish, or even mildly ridiculous costumes: "A Sexy Wizard of Oz Cowardly Lion!"

Just in case one did not immediately grasp the magic inherent in those words, they included a siren song for the eyes:

Seems astonishingly obvious once you hear it and see it laid out like this, doesn't it? I mean, right here you have the very heart* of the film if not of the original book series itself! The whole narrative, this fictional universe, it all begins to collapse without the hefty weight of the Cowardly Lion's sex appeal anchoring it all --unspoken, undescribed, unobserved... possibly nonexistent-- and yet I'll bet you never once thought of it before now. Genius. Just genius.

Now, granted, the "sexiness" of this particular creation is highly dependent on the nature of the clay used to craft it, but I'm pretty confident I have the body to pull it off. The only real stumbling block to my undisputed ownership of this and all future Halloweens is the fact that it's currently on sale for $77.

I may have to let some pretender claim my throne, for that price. Or else, hmmmm... what would one of those craft bloggers do?

I'm off to find where I left my tan Spanx bodysuit and faux-fur boots 'n' muff!

* Tin Woodman be damned. Again.

30 August 2012

Things that amuse me, Vol. 13

Though nasty she may frequently be these days, as she adjusts to waking up early for kindergarten, my 5-year-old daughter M- apparently still manages to be amusing enough to dominate the quote lists as well as this, the latest list of Things That Have Been Amusing Me recently:

1. When trying to find the words to describe the chaos that results from trying to simultaneously treat (and bathe!) eight 2-month-old kittens for fleas in the same evening, this is what she came up with: "It's like a KITTEN NURSERY in here! ...Except a kitten nursery run by drunk people who have no idea what they're doing!" It was an inspiring vote of confidence.

2. When trying to clarify what she saw when retelling part of a Tintin cartoon she'd watched, M- asked, "Wait, do 'bombs' have little, like, tails coming out of them?"

3. Kids love to keep you guessing... as I watched my 1-year-old son E- cruising around the school one morning, eating a tiny banana for breakfast and loving the independence, I figured I'd need to be on the lookout for the moment he would be struck with the unoriginal inspiration to rub it all over the disgusting hallway floor before taking another bite.

Instead, he decided to throw me a curveball by waiting till I blinked to subtly pick up some kind of mysteriously blackened bark chip off that floor and then stick it directly INTO the banana, for absolutely no reason at all. It's not as if he could say, "Oh, my mistake-- I thought it was that OTHER kind of thing we commonly shove into our bananas!" Even after 8 years of this, I was just not prepared for that move.

28 August 2012

Classic quotes, Vol. 39

Here are a few recent notable quotes from my 8-year-old son D-, my 5-year-old daughter M-, and, in his quote-list debut, my 20-month-old son E-:

M- (among her rules for decorating the cakes from her little cake-making kit): No punching, no kicking, and no head-butting.

D- (smiling while reminiscing, after I pointed out he and his sister have already taught their little brother E- to laugh at mentions of bodily functions, by example): Yeah... heh-heh... we have...

M- (the day after the Olympics ended, out of the blue): I want to wear an outfit like those... who are those people, again, who jump over those GIANT hurdles? (Me: "Hurdlers?") Yes, hurdlers. I want to wear those shorts and one of those shirts, that shows my belly, then people will think I'm one of them! (giggles)

E- (begging for a bite of popsicle from his big brother D-): Bite! Biiiiite!! (after digging a tiny Nerf gun into his chest) Bite.

31 July 2012

Super fun vacation time for old ladies

Well, after a few years of working from home while watching the kids (easier with all-day school, for sure!), and thus splitting responsibilities a lot more with my wife J- than I had been, I'm now ankle-deep in a taste of juggling everything by myself again for a week and a half: J- is taking a vacation with my sister and her friend to hang around a beach house and reflect on turning 30 and 25, respectively.

I shouldn't complain, since I took a similar trip with my brother last year* when I turned 30, but who would I be if I didn't? I mean, you may not realize it, given my laughably outdated banner up there, but I'm dealing with an 8-year-old, a 5-year-old, a 19-month-old, a basement full of fleas, and a garage full of 9 cats**, whereas J- only had to deal with a 7-year-old, a 4-year-old, a 7-month-old, a kitchen being drywalled, and a very welcome mother cat and three kittens*** who'd recently shown up on our doorstep out here in Cat Country.

So, clearly, the difference is night and day.

J- dealt with the stress last year by buying them off with a promise to have candy for dinner, and then following through in legendary form.

Problem for me is, not only do they now have their bars set somewhere just above, "There is such a thing as candy for dinner", but they've already spent most of this summer being spoiled by one set of grandparents or another, to the point that the older two wouldn't bat an eyelash at being handed the keys to their own set of his-and-hers hovercrafts.

So what am I supposed to do?

All I've come up with so far is to go totally the other way and just put them to work as much as possible, to make them really appreciate heading back to school soon, as a break in their strict schedule of Cleaning Up After Myself, plus Other Light Chores****. It seems to be working pretty well, knock on wood... for me, at least.

I think they'll be happy to see Momma walk through the door.

* Of course I didn't take the opportunity to get back into writing real blog posts at the time, because that would make too much sense.

** Now that we found a home for one of the 8 kittens born in two litters within two days back in May...

*** The surviving kitten of which just had her first litter (of 5) in our garage at almost exactly 1 year old.

**** The latter of which generally gets bumped off the schedule, due to the first show running long...

28 July 2012

Amusing searches, Vol. 17

Here are some more of the most amusing searches that have brought people here.

(All search strings are reprinted exactly as they were entered, and the search text links to the post at which the visitor arrived.)

is too many orgasm fatal - Honestly, for the last time, I don't know, but I suppose you'll have a lot of fun pioneering this important research.

pic of odd middle aged mom (Bournemouth, UK) - I certainly do make an odd middle-aged mom, I grant you that. But I charge for pictures.

dead animal smell in vagina (Modesto, CA) - Ahhh, yes, this is a common side effect of passing out in the woods while wearing edible underwear. I'd suggest not doing this anymore, or if you must, at least lay out some traps first rather than relying on suffocation as your method of execution, given the difficult and awkward process of corpse extrication the next morning.

orangutan named Karl (Lake Worth, FL) - I'm sorry, you must have been looking for my orangutan-related dating site, takingadvantageoforangutanobsessions.com

my three-year-old son is an asshole - Aren't they all, really? In fact, I think this is just a slightly-less-PC version of the milestone label doctors have always used.

24 July 2012

Classic quotes, Vol. 38

Here are a few recent notable quotes from my 8-year-old son D- and my 5-year-old daughter M-:

M- (amused by my response to her claim that she and D- will become spies when they grow up): No, we wouldn't have to work hard in school for it, it's all very easy!

D- (with slack-jawed awe, quietly to himself while watching The Avengers at a drive-in, after a giant flying robot-bug ship crashed into a building): Now thaaaaaat's... somethin'...

M- (as if I could have no idea what she's talking about, after she cleared her lunch plate): I'm going to go ask Mom something... (mysteriously) because it's something that can only happen after lunch...

30 June 2012

A conversation with D-: The patriot in a nation of shopkeepers

Like many people, my 8-year-old son D- seems to vacillate between ambitious craftiness and practical ingenuity one day, to mindless materialism and sensible shortcuts the next. I have the makings of an impressive wood shop out here, and my wife has a wide array of craft materials and tools herself, so plenty of costumes and toys have sprung from our collective imagination, when spurred on by circumstances.

Most of the rest of the time, though, all our grand crafting plans remain safely that-- plans. One always has higher hopes for the next generation, although as this conversation shows, that hope is probably wasted:

D- (holding a new package of 36 Nerf darts): Dad, can I maybe open just a part of this box and, like, hook it on my belt or something, like this, so I can just --"bam-bam"-- pull out more darts after I shoot my six?

Me (looking to encourage this attitude while focusing the energy on something more functional and rewarding): So what you want is an ammo belt, or a bandolier? That sounds like something you could make pretty easily, if you want. You just need little loops or pockets running along the strap-- you could work with Momma and maybe even use the sewing machine!

D- (looking exhausted at the thought, and a bit like maybe this concept is new to me): ...You know, we could also just go to the store and BUY one of those... (immediately turning to walk away without a shred of faith that his point would be seriously considered)

Me (seeing the writing on the wall, but taking a valiant stab anyway): But then it wouldn't be as sturdy, or made exactly the way you need it, and... (hearing his feet hit the bottom of the stairs) ...Ah, never mind...

Maybe if the temperature finally drops below 90 one of these days, he might catch that spark again. Even with the AC going, who really feels like getting off the couch long enough to make something like that? Probably a lot of go-getters and high-achievers and moderately-functional-adults, that's who, but who needs those showoffs?

You may enjoy my previous D- conversations, (5YO daughter) M- conversations, and (wife) J- conversations.

28 June 2012

A conversation with M-: Count me out

After more than eight years of parenting, my wife J- and I consider ourselves pretty skilled at manipulating each of our three kids like puppets, using whatever tools fit each kid at a given moment.

Sometimes, though, they show flashes of the similarly wonderful parents they may become themselves, someday:

J- (wanting a favor from our 5-year-old daughter M-, spinning it with a reliable phrase): So M-, can I count on you?

M- (not in the mood to help, and looking for a loophole): Ummmm... well, no, not today. (walking out of the room) I don't want anyone counting on me today.

You may enjoy my previous M- conversations, J- conversations, and (8YO son) D- conversations.

15 June 2012

A conversation with J-: Sleeping the sleep of the wrong

The following is a conversation I recently had with my wife J- (while she was resting on the couch) and our 8-year-old son D-, about our 5-year-old daughter M-:

Me (asking D- and a dozing J-, wondering if M- was in the bathroom or off playing somewhere): Where's M-?

D-: She's in the playroom

J- (oddly forcefully, as if we're all fools to have forgotten about this while she lay there resting, secretly wide awake): No, she's out getting her hair done!

Me (trying to take her at face value, since she's usually the authority on things like this): What?? Where?

J-: Nevermind.

M- (from playroom): What do you neeeed?

Me: ...Did you just have a dream that M- went out to a hair salon?

J-: Yes.

You may enjoy my previous J- conversations, D- conversations, and M- conversations.

29 May 2012

Classic quotes, Vol. 37

Here's a selection of some recent notable quotes, this time (again) all from my very quotable 5-year-old daughter M-:

M- (apropos of nothing one day, after she'd been playing by herself.... possibly a sign she may have been playing with her older brother too much): I would be a great astronaut-killer! (asked to elaborate) It's a guy who attacks and fights astronauts!

M- (showing off her strength, before almost falling over a basketball her little brother E- had accidentally rolled in her path): I can carry this HUGE chair, Dad! ... As long as E- keeps his BALLS out of the way...

M- (coming breathlessly into our room one morning, after we'd ignored an automated call identified as coming from my wife's teacher union): It's an URGENT call, on the answering machine-- it's an emergency! They're attacking our pensions, and our rights, and we need to vote!

M- (referring to Silly String, in a voice like a commercial): Kids LOVE this stuff!!

24 May 2012

A conversation between M- and D-: Bill Cosby, eat your heart out

My 8-year-old son D- and 5-year-old daughter M- are apparently taking some interesting lessons to heart about the fundamentals of good parenting, as evidenced by their recent conversation in the back of our parked van, regarding their 1-year-old brother E-:

D- (possibly sarcastic, after M- had been speaking through rage-clenched teeth at E-): Boy, you'd make a real good parent, always grabbing and pulling on his (inaudible)...

Me (thinking she had been grabbing his face): Pulling his what?!

D- (quickly polishing an explanation, likely due to a favor he owed his sister): I said, she'd make a real good parent, because she always gets real serious with him. And he listens to her...

M- (eagerly): Yeah!

D- (aside): Oh, by the way, your pants are on backwards.

You may enjoy my previous D- conversations, M- conversations, and (wife) J- conversations.

14 May 2012

A conversation with M-: A teachable moment...

Despite two years served under the patient ears of The Tattling Turtle at school, my 5-year-old daughter M- still tattles like nobody's business*, and her 8-year-old brother D- has long ago earned his Veteran Kid status, which entitles him to get away with all kinds of secrets and sneakiness under our noses, as this frustratingly inconclusive conversation demonstrates:

M- (the "eager" version of The Tattling Voice): Last night, I was trying to sleep, and D- was keeping me up by saying a bad word. One that means "horse poop"?

Me (mild curiosity officially piqued): ...Oh? Which word was that?

M- (wishing she could help, realizing she's out of ammo): Ummmm... I don't remember. You should ask him.

Me (recklessly pressing the point while the iron is hot): You won't get in trouble for saying what it was. Was it something like "cr... cr... cr..."

M- (blank stare): Uhhhh...

Me (scrambling, hoping she doesn't start asking followups, to add to her extensive vocabulary, but now confident I've nailed it down at Level 2): Was it something with "sh... sh... shhh..."

M- (another blank stare, then resignation, which is apparently what you get when you seem to take tattles seriously): Umm, well, I don't really remember what the word is, but I know it's bad, and I know it means "horse poop".

So, it seems that D- is either cataloging new slang words that don't spring to my mind, or he may have invented a hilarious new game of 1) declaring secret, scandalous meanings to made-up words; or 2) assigning new meanings to existing, innocuous words; with the primary or secondary intention of getting his sister to cash in all her tattling chips on unenforceable violations. Both of the latter options are genius, and make me pretty perversely proud.

* If anything, this stuffed turtle just allows her to practice new techniques. She talked about him all the time in the beginning, but the very first time I made reference to him myself, she made a point of assuring me, with an expression and tone that suggested I might be an idiot, that he is "not real". Thus, he is powerless to act on any of her solid intel.

30 April 2012

Amusing searches, Vol. 16

Google's admirable privacy efforts are slowly draining me of this source of amusement and education, but while I still have some material left, here are some of the most amusing searches that have brought people here since the last edition.

(All search strings are reprinted exactly as they were entered, and the search text links to the post at which the visitor arrived.)

nitpicking in conversation (New York, NY) - According to at least half of the people I've ever spoken to for more than a few minutes, you've come to the right place.

"punch a bird in the face" (Fairfax, VA) - I'm picturing that would probably hurt your fist more than the bird's face, what with the beak and all.

self conscious and nervous (London, U.K.) - Why yes, yes I am. Thanks for checking.

my three year old son hides penis (Seoul, Korea) - Really, it's "where" and "how" he's hiding it that should be the focus of your concerns.

"piss around the house" (Edinburgh, Scotland) - I have the same habits, but I try to concentrate my fire around a couple central areas, ones with convenient bowls that offer some kind of satisfying splashing sound.

29 April 2012

Classic quotes, Vol. 36

Here's a selection of some recent notable quotes, this time from my wife J-, our 5-year-old daughter M-, and our 1 year-old son E-:

M- (looking at a picture of a llama, with a tone suggesting it had personally done something to offend her): Seriously?? There's no hump on this camel!

J- (spacing out while talking to E-, who was getting into things in the kitchen as she read a dessert recipe): No, put that down, Lemon!

M- (overselling it a bit, referring to E- having grabbed at her Swedish pancake and knocked it to the floor, after the waitress had assured her it would be replaced): Well! THAT will be quite the story to tell my kids, when I have kids!

J- (explaining her love for birds of prey): See, the thing is, I find all other birds repulsive.* But owls, and falcons... I love them, for some reason.

* Sorry, bird lovers: On review, she reiterated her unusual position that "repulsive" is not too strong a word, and yes, she meant "all". Even blue jays, and cardinals, and doves... and lovebirds, and sparrows, and hummingbirds... and all your favorites. ESPECIALLY your favorites.....

24 April 2012

A conversation between M- and J-: It is risen

The following conversation between my 5-year-old daughter M- and my wife J- took place during our multi-state car trip right before Easter, during which my wife indulged in many of her Rhode Island favorites from childhood, including "Easter bread", a very sweet, iced treat:

J- (concerned that the kids have buried and/or crushed the loaf we were taking home, somewhere in the van): Where's the Easter bread?

M- (immediately jumping in, with a "Magical Storytime" voice all cued up): He stays in a nook, faaaaar under the ground...

J- (interrupting, totally confused): What??

Me (realizing the disconnect): No, the Easter BREAD.

M-: OHHHhhhhhhhh!

J- (cutting through the visions of candy and gifts, to the most important matter at hand): So... you don't know where the bread is?

They were definitely very happy to have the Easter Bunny himself leave his beloved nook to visit shortly after this, though he didn't leave us any Easter bread. Just lots of what I could only assume were jelly beans...

You may enjoy my previous M- conversations, J- conversations, and (8YO son) D- conversations.

30 March 2012

A conversation with M-: I am a skilled negotiator.

My 5-year-old daughter M- is still working out the kinks in her understanding of numbers, as evidenced by our recent conversation below:

M- (putting on her most comically dignified voice as she approaches me, clutching a bundle of imaginary balloons): I would like to buy these... 8 balloons, please.

Me (like a bored street vendor who knows he's got you right where he wants you, but doesn't much care anymore): That'll be four hundred dollars, please.

M- (still with the voice): I don't have that much money.

Me: Then you don't have any balloons, either.

M- (sliding toward her normal voice, as she tries valiantly to keep this one from getting away from her): How about this, how about we bargain: I will bring the number down to: six... million dollars.

Me (slipping out of character in disbelief): Six million dollars? DOWN to $6 million?!?

M- (regaining her Monopoly-guy voice in full glory): Or wait... How about... I pay you what you asked for. Here you go! (sprays fake money at me and runs)

So in the end, she acted pretty much like me in every negotiation I've ever been forced into.

You may enjoy my previous M- conversations, (8YO son) D- conversations, and (wife) J- conversations.

27 March 2012

A conversation between M- and D-: Justice, served lukewarm

My 5-year-old daughter M- was indulging my 7-year-old son D-'s penchant for spontaneous, awkward hand-to-combat practice one day recently, when he began the following exchange:

D- (with the expected pseudo-karate posturing): I'm gonna break your HEAD off!

M- (popping his balloon as sharply as she can): No, you're not! You'd be in HUGE trouble... You'd have to sit on the STAIRS for the rest of your LIFE!

D- (accepting this at face value, then feeling smug as he thinks about its relative leniency): No more than that, though.

M- (thinking aloud, qualifying her previous statement): ...Until you were a grownup, then you could go back to eating candy, and playing, and everything.

It seems "life" as they know it ends in just a few years. They're probably right.

You may enjoy my previous D- conversations, M- conversations, and (wife) J- conversations.

14 March 2012

Things that amuse me, Vol. 12

Here are a few of the things that have been amusing me recently:

1. You might want to re-evaluate your life priorities if you carefully erect a 30-foot pole in your front yard, and then use it to proudly display your Arctic Cat flag. That's right, there's only room for one flag on that pole.

2. I think Redbox might want to manually review its recommendation formulas. For example, while checking availability for The Tree of Life recently, the second movie listed under "You may also be interested in" was Twilight: Breaking Dawn. ............No, thanks. That's like stocking candy-coated dung balls as impulse-purchase items right next to... DVDs of Terence Malick's "The Tree of Life".

3. Because I talk about my kids in this blog, I am frequently faced with situations that have luckily not yet happened in real life. Like, for instance, being greeted with, "Hey Soul Sister," in marketing e-mails. Or being nearly constantly reminded that, "[I'm] a busy mom." I've got news for those people, though-- I ain't that busy. Mostly I just sit on the couch with a box of bon-bons and "watch my stories" while telling the kids to shut up and get back to work. Ah, motherhood.

29 February 2012

Classic quotes, Vol. 35

Here are the latest memorable quotes from my 5-year-old daughter M-, my 7-year-old son D-, and my 1-year-old son E- that I've managed to remember or write down:

M- (referring to the snowman she was mentally designing, for her preschool homework): And his name will be "Ho-Wrecker"!

Kid at school (amazed, watching E- doing a victory lap with a basketball he found): Whoa! That baby can WALK!

M- (after being asked an obvious question, before I reached in to turn on the fan): ...No. I'm sweating, but I'm not pooping. ... I'm sweating!

D- (after we were talking about dogs and wolves eating grass): THAT'D be cool, to see a wolf throw up.

M- (approximately 10 minutes after first regretting asking me why February 29 is a special day): ...Oh..... 

28 February 2012

Product review: Waxelene

Sincerity Alert: The following is an ever-rare, completely sincere post, inspired by my very positive experience with a new product I was lucky enough to sample for free (my only compensation).

I've been offered at least a thousand products for review in the last few years, most of them either not something I'd ever be interested in, or not something YOU'D ever be interested in.

But, thankfully for me, I dutifully open and read at least the first line of each offer, and because of this, I discovered a product called Waxelene, which does everything petroleum jelly does without being made from oil.

It was always kind of a mystery to me how products like Vaseline went from black sludge in the ground to that familiar colorless, odorless, impenetrable paste, despite my repeated review of the Wikipedia article on the subject.

But its origins seem clear whenever I get the stuff somewhere I don't want it, not the least of which is the tips of my fingers. I guess I'm funny like that, but I just can't stand that feeling of having sticky or greasy stuff on my fingers that I can't get off.

After using it for several months, and sharing it with my family and my wife's co-workers, it seems that Waxelene solves that problem. While it effectively seals your skin as you'd expect, it does so without feeling oily, so I don't have to get creative in trying to apply it without losing the ability to touch anything for an hour or two. On top of all the performance benefits, it's made from (among other things) beeswax*, so it smells a bit like honey when first applied.

I've heard it's also good for removing makeup, but obviously I have no idea on that score, and since my wife isn't big on most makeup, I haven't seen it in action there yet. Another important area where Waxelene definitely gets bonus points from me is that it's an all-natural and organic product, which even comes in a glass jar with a metal lid, instead of plastic.

Overall, my review would be 5 out of 5 stars-- I love it, my wife loves it, my kids love it,** and I haven't heard any complaints or criticism from anyone else so far, several months along.

Just like Vaseline, a jar of this stuff goes a long way,*** but with all the uses we've found for the samples I was sent, I'm sure we'll be looking for it in stores a lot sooner than I would have thought. It's currently available at Whole Foods, along with many other non-chain stores, as well as through the Waxelene Web site.

Editor's Note: If you've read this far, dutifully waiting for a joke, I hate to disappoint you. If you'd like, you can always pass the time re-reading my less sincere Book Reviews that seem so popular to Google searchers.

* Don't worry, it isn't any of yours.

 ** They really do-- they now ask for it by name, most of all when they're lying in bed trying to think of a reason not to lay still and go to sleep, and they suddenly realize they have dry skin somewhere that needs urgent attention.

*** Our current Vaseline was bought during my college class in Ireland, spring 2003...

22 February 2012

A conversation with M-: We're all important in our own way

Pretend I'm more on-the-ball and it's still Valentine's Day, and enjoy this then-appropriate conversation I had awhile back with my now-5-year-old daughter M-, when she saw just how many yogurts I'd picked up at the store while she was at school:

M- (joking, with an incredible amount of enthusiasm, while standing at the fridge): Wow! The Mom yogurts made a LOT of baby yogurts!

Me: Oh? All by themselves?

M- (without a trace of doubt): Yes!

Me (foolishly playing with fire, for my own amusement): Without any help from Daddy yogurts?

M-: No. (thinking twice) Well, a LITTLE help, maybe. They help do stuff like carry heavy things, and pack up the clothes for them, and stuff. (taking the opportunity to drop another hint of a present idea) Like their roooooooobes...

You may enjoy my previous M- conversations, (7YO son) D- conversations, and (wife) J- conversations.

31 January 2012

Things that amuse me, Vol. 11

Here's another selection of items that have been amusing me since the last time I posted a collection of these:

1. Within moments of telling us, with great emphasis, that the baby's head circumference is in the 97% percentile, my son E-'s doctor casually asked, while further inspecting him, if we thought he most resembles me.

2. I find the prompts alongside pages at Dictionary.com asking, "How many words do you actually know?" kind of insulting, or at least condescending. I don't need these kinds of belittling challenges-- I'll take my lucrative ad-ignoring eyeballs elsewhere, like a real book, maybe. THOSE don't judge me. Usually.

3. The kids are getting too smart... after my wife J- had a "candy for dinner" night while I was out of town last summer, they all declared it a success and she told them we could do it once a year. Five months later, a mere four days into January, my 7-year-old son D- said, out of the blue, "Hey, since it's a new year now....... can we have candy for dinner again tomorrow night?!?"

4. The other day, my now-5-year-old daughter M- pretty much hit the nail on the head in disgustedly describing a clown as, "Some weird guy... with a big red nose, and a really white face..."

23 January 2012

Classic quotes, Vol. 34

Here's a selection of quotes from the past few months, from my 4-year-old daughter M-, my 7-year-old son D-, and my infant son E-:

M- (excitedly, pointing to a Bud Light truck parked near us at the gas station): Daddy, I see the waaater botttttle truuuuuuck!

D- (drawled slyly, while doing his homework, as if idly asking about the weather, or some other not-remotely-related topic): Hey Dad, what's forrrrrrty-three plus thirty-six?

M- (using her Important Announcement voice at the dinner table): This hot dog BUN is too hot! (asked if she's sure) ...No... the thing that's inside it. (asked, "You mean the hot dog??") Yeah, the hot dog.

E- (whenever he deliberately pushes or drops things off his high chair, with the detached tone of an innocent bystander): Uh-oh.

M- (very matter-of-factly, about a song she made up): It's a very long song... I can't sing all the words in ONE day...

Me (after our shared laughter at my wife apparently stopped by quite so funny): No, no, I'm not being mean-- I'm laughing WITH you, as we both laugh at you!

M- (very excited, and distinctly unfazed, regarding the corpse of an unfortunate mouse, victim of our cats): We should save it, and when it turns to bones, I can study them! Because when I grow up, I want to be a vegetarian, and help animals!!

17 January 2012

Internet blackout

By way of issuing the latest "Happy New Year" on record, I'm gonna opportunistically hop on a rolling train that I will simultaneously claim to have pushed out of the station myself.

That's right-- I am the sole pioneer of the Internet Blackout of Wednesday, January 18. I'm so far ahead of everyone else on this, I've already been holding strong for 17 days!

So go ahead, all you late-coming, fair-weather bandwagoners-- I've been keeping the seats nice and warm for you*, grab whichever one you like! ...Except for that one, that one's for my feet.

Here's to registering our support for defeating all freedom-destroying laws (SOPA) and decisions (Citizens United)!

* Don't ask how.