Thursday, September 3, 2009

Snowing in September

So I looked out the window yesterday morning, and there's snow on the ground. No. Really. In Memphis, in the summer.

Here's a picture of it. It's all white and stuff.

Ok, so it wasn't all OVER the ground. And it wasn't snow. But it was white.

So, the next think I think is, "Who fed the Webkins to the dog!?" Not that I'm very unhappy about losing one of the ever-present, pesky underfoot stuffed animals coupled with their Crack-addictive website.

Except for the fact that the happy little cuddy creatures are not cheap, and if one is killed, it somehow always gets replaced by at least two more.

And this, of course, is why we have almost a hundred of the crazy little stuffed animals underfoot. No, that's not an exaggeration. Ok, well, maybe it is, but not much of one.

Just, my youngest daughter has enough that when she was forced to sleep downstairs overnight when my oldest daughter had one of her college buddies over to spend the night, she surrounded the couch with THREE half-circles of webkin guards to protect her through the night.

Not that they do much good as guards. Even the Ninja Webkins are polite. The extent of their protective methods would be to launch a mexican jumping bean at you and say "With my bean and my sombrero, my candy is never far away!"

Or possibly, just sit idly by and watch as your house gets robbed, and say, "Atomicolicious!"

Can you tell we have a heavy dose of Webkins addicts in the house? If you are just confused by those statements above, then good. You've managed to avoid the addiction. But if a webkin makes it into your home, don't say I didn't warn you.

Anyway, back to the snow. So, it wasn't really snow, and it wasn't really the guts and entrails of a dismembered Webkin suffering a tragic but not undeserved end.

So what was it? Well, to answer that question, you'd have to take a look at the culprit...

Her name is Maya. She's a bi-eyed half husky, half sneaky little neighbor dog. We're guessing Golden Lab.

If you're wondering what bi-eyed means, check out this picture of her...
Isn't she beautiful? One blue eye, one brown eye; This is her serious look. No, really. She's being quite serious right now... Huskies are serious dogs. Especially when you ask them if they want to go outside and run.

And like all Huskies, she decided that September had started (has something to do with that internal doggy clock. So she picked that day to 'BLOW COAT'.

Now for those of you NOT in the know about this particular habit, let's just say that on two given days out of the year (and you never know when it will be, because the dog always waits until you forget about it) the dog sticks its paw in its mouth, and explodes. Literally.

Pieces everywhere. Don't believe me? Just look at this. No, LOOK AT THIS!

This is a piece of my dog on the lawn. No, I'm sure it's not just hair. There's too much of it. It's a chunk of dog.

Now, after the initial explosion, there are tremors and aftershocks, and the family always takes a hand in assisting in pulling off chunks of dog. See my family. They have all come outside to help. See them helping?

Ok, so they aren't helping. Not much. But momma is about to come outside and assist Maya in her explosion.

Here's a picture of Momma carefully combing chunks of dog off our dog...

Here's a piece of dog on the comb...

And here's the piece slowly floating away... It has it's own shadow. It also has its own gravity well, but that's beside the point. Look at the shadow!! That's a substantial shadow for a chunk of hair.

So, after the ritual disintegration of the dog is over, she has this great big grin on her face. You tell me why, when she's lost half her hair just as Fall is getting started...

Seriously, though, Maya is a snow dog. She's designed to grow a winter coat about now, and the summer coat (which apparently is a bit thick for Memphis summers) has to 'blow away'.

All I've got to say is, 'Better out than in.' We sweep up enough hair to make our OWN dog on the inside of the house, and you just saw how much hair was on the OUTSIDE of the house.

So, what do you do with all that hair in the back yard? Use it to stuff a few Webkins, make some use out of all that stuffing??

Well, my youngest daughter said we should leave it out there so the birds can have something to line their nests.

That's all well and good, but it's fall, and the birds aren't going to be making anymore nests around here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Have your Cake and Eat it Too!

Hey Sports Fans, I think today's lesson is on Gluttony, Family, and... Birthdays!

Well, so yesterday, June 21st, was my Birthday. As well as Fathers Day. It was a little strange, because I spent 12 hours Saturday driving 2 of my 4 kids to Awana Scholarship Camp (you can call it Honors Camp, but it will ALWAYS be Awana Scholarship Camp to me. :P )

Anyway, after 12 hours of driving I was pretty wiped. Spent Sunday Morning at church working with the Cafe56 5th and 6th grade kids, then stopped by McD's on the way home.

I was wiped from the drive still, and the full meal, so I crashed for several hours.

The family got me up to go out to dinner and shopping for a present for me, since it was Fathers Day and my Birthday.

I was still full from lunch, but we stopped in at Steak and Shake, one of my favorite places to eat. After a meal and a shake, I was just about too stuffed to leave.

Then my wife Becca asked if I wanted to stop by Baskin Robins for a birthday cake, one of those IceCream cakes.

Oh no. I couldn't possibly eat even a wafer-thin mint. I said, "Honey, I don't want a cake. I couldn't eat anything right now. Half the kids are at camp. Can't we do without a cake this year?"

"Fine by me, I guess, but Johnny's not going to let you get away without a cake."

"What's the little man gonna do about it is what I wanna know..." I mean, it wasn't like he could bake a cake.

So, anyway, I brought the family home, and staggered up to the recording studio to work on a song I'd just written, while the family watched some Scooby Doo downstairs.

They called me down about an hour later. It appeared that Johnny had made me a cake, mostly by himself. Here's a picture of it...

Well, ok, after we'd blown the candles out, and started slicing it up. Seems Johnny asked for 2 slices of white bread and a can of frosting, and made a cake all by himself. Mom got out some food coloring and decorated the thing. :-)

And here's a picture of the little guy by his piece. He was quite proud of his work. As well he should be. For a 4yo, he did smashingly.

Guess what, he wrapped me a present too. Here is my 19yo daughter Elizabeth handing it to me.

It was, surprise! A can of Sprite!

All in all, a wonderful day, just wish I hadn't URP eaten quite so much. I'm already fighting the Battle of the Bulge, and not doing so well this skirmish.

But, I gotta say, Johnny's cake was JUST enough, and wasn't bad tasting. We all got a taste, and then it was all gone!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's got MINERALS on it!!

My little toddler just turned 4, and Grandma was up for his birthday. We had cake and icecream and presents and he had just a wonderful time.

Before the party, I had 'damp-mopped' our Pergo floor, so it shined like the 'Top of the Chrysler Building!'

The day after, we were busy watching one of his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movies he'd gotten, along with the action figures (We HAD to get all 4, or there was going to be a war...)

Well, being breakfast time, we were eating in the living room, when he got excited and his biscuit fell on the floor.

I picked it up and tried to give it to him, but he freaked and shreiked and ran in a circle, yelling that it was dirty.

Well, I looked at it.

Anybody with 3+ kids understands about the '30 second' rule - If it doesn't stay on the ground for 30 seconds it's ok to eat.

But I brushed it off, and handed it over to him saying, it's ok, I brushed it off.

He was just about to take a bite when Grandma said 'Oh, it's fine, birthday boy. It's good for you, it's got minerals on it.'

Aaaaaahhhhh!! He hurled the biscuit from him screaming, It's got Minerals on it! It's got minerals on it!

Good pronunciation, son, for a 4yo!

Now, if you could just understand that minerals aren't 'ants'...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Morning Coffee

Well, I'm definitely a person who has to have my morning coffee to get my day started right. Here's a picture of me with a standard cup of coffee...
Needless to say, I'm not fully functional early in the morning without some of this wonderful drink to wake the gray matter up and start the engines.

I've been doing some research on coffee, actually, for a story I'm writing, and discovered that it's not impossible to grow your own coffee, in your own home, for the purpose of starting your day.

Someday, if the price of coffee becomes ridiculous, I may actually try that, just to see how it's done, and if it's a possibility for those of us with a BLACK thumb. But coffee is a priority, and I have to have it each morning or I start having shakes and the world is just NOT a happy place.

So each morning, in order to greet the day, I have a routine, which includes letting the dog out, starting coffee, feeding the cats, and making a cup of coffee (with plenty of milk and sugar) for my wife and I, and maybe my oldest daughter.

This morning, though, I ran into a bit of a hiccup. As I was scooping sugar out, I noticed there was a small orange triangle sitting on the top of the sugar in the canister. Looked like a playing piece for Trivial Pursuit, so I wondered what the kids had been doing with the game, and why they'd stuck the 'Sports' pie in the sugar bowl.

So, I scooped under it, to pull it out and dump it in the sink. But here's what I found...

Needless to say, My little Toddler had been experimenting with hiding things...

You know, I've heard of orange pekoe tea, but I've never heard of orange crayola coffee.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Vending Machine

Yet another couch story.

After we got our sectional couch, with heat and massage and a queen sleeper and twin recliners, life was all good. It was nice to sit back in the recliner, relax, and stare at the TV each evening with a nice cup holder on the armrest.

The new sectional had a center section that was a flip-down with cup holders, and controls for the heat and massage, or a center seat. The kids loved to sit on the center seat, since they were mostly too weak to yank the recliners out and pop them open.

If the kids weren't sitting in the center section, one of our two cats (the ones that had shredded the previous two couches) would lay in this center seat, all snug and happy and purring like a buzz saw.

And Daddy NEVER sat in the center seat, because the Daddy belonged in a nice recliner, taking his accustomed throne with his many-buttoned scepter in hand, his goblet-o-tea, and his loving attendants (yeah right).

One day, not many days after the purchase of our wondrous throne of many functions, I came home and saw a strange, thick, squiggly 3-foot length of metal laying on the fireplace.

This metal squiggly item was THICK. It had SUBSTANCE. It was SUBSTANTIAL. It had PURPOSE. But, as most clueless Dads, I had no immediate idea what great PURPOSE the squiggle served.

So I summoned my loyal subjects and polled them one by one.

Daddy: "Have you ever seen this?"

Child#1: "Why no, what is it, Daddy?"

Daddy: "What is this used for?"

Child#2: "I have no idea, Daddy!"

Daddy: "Any idea where this came from?"

Child#3: "No, Daddy. I've never seen it before."

Daddy: "Wife, have you ever seen this before?"

Mommy: "No, honey, but it looks like it must have some PURPOSE."

Yes, it had purpose and function. But it took almost a week to find out what.

One day, I came home, and the CAT was in my SPOT. Yes, my throne. The sacred seat with the remote.

Not wanting a fight with the clawless furball, I decided to be a minister of peace, and I got my goblet-o-tea and took the coveted center seat. And sank to the floor.

After much struggling and quite a few invented words, I managed to get my prodigious self up and out of the hole, and inverted the couch, earning me a hiss and an ugly offended look from the furball, who had not yet forgiven me for the loss of his fingernails.

And then, AHA! There was the PURPOSE for which I'd been searching - under each seat but the center one, was a 3-foot black thick metal rod, clamped and bent into place as a spring to support my prodigious rump.

So I retrieved the rod from its place of honor on the fireplace, and with much grunting, bending, flexing of muscle, sweat, and a few more invented words, I managed to bend this heavy metal rod and place it back where it belonged. With a pair of strong pliers I managed to clamp it back in place.

Leaning over the inverted couch, breathing heavily from the strain and exertion, I assembled my loyal subjects for another gathering in the throne room.

"I found the purpose for the black squiggle. It appears that one of my loyal subjects has been jumping up and down on the couch. Now WHO has been jumping up and down on the couch!?"

It was apparent that NO ONE had been jumping up and down on the couch.

So I told them that SOMEONE was lying, and that no one should jump up and down on the couch.

Everyone assured me that they NEVER would jump up and down on the couch, and then we dismissed.

Two weeks later, I came home and there was the black squiggle on the fireplace, in its place of honor. And not under the center seat.

So I inverted the couch, and with much struggling, sweat, and a few invented words, I replaced the black squiggle, and called another staff meeting.

"Let me tell you something, I thought I made myself clear. NO ONE is to jump up and down on this couch. If I catch you doing it again, I will paddle your bottom. Is that clear?"

"Yes Daddy!" All of them gave me their brightest smiles. Nobody was jumping up and down on the couch. No one was guilty. No fear, no guilt.

Ok, so somebody was good at lying. I shrugged my shoulders, and went to pour myself a glass of tea.

Something made me stop in mid pour. I stepped backwards to look in the living room. Halfway up the steps, I saw my 3 year old son, doing a hand-stand on the balcony rail. He held the position for a moment, flipped over the rail and came flying down onto the center seat.

He sank right to the floor and the black squiggle came flying out from the bottom of the couch, flew across the room and struck the baseboard on the other side, like a vending machine dispensing a coke.

He had the most ecstatic look on his face. Just full of joy.

I stood there with tea in hand, apoplectic. I had just promised to paddle them if they did this, and it wasn't more than 5 minutes later.

It just kept playing through my mind. WHAT was he THINKING?!

I hauled him to his mother, and made her spank him. I was too angry.

All that evening, I just kept replaying it in my mind. The hand-stand, right out of the olympics. the squiggle dispensing from the bottom. His joyous look.

What could have been going through his head?? And what could I do to stop him?

I went to bed thinking about it. And somewhere in the middle of the night, a lightbulb came on over my head.

I got out of bed, grabbed a length of 3/4" plywood, and a drill and some screws. I put the board under the seat, to give support for that seat. (It's still there today)

I put my tools away and went to bed. It really didn't even occur to me to tell anyone what I'd done. I just figured I'd solved the problem and promptly forgot about it.

The very next day, I came home from work, and my 3yo son had an ace bandage around his ankle. And he never jumped on the couch again.

But later I talked to my wife, asking, what could he have been thinking?

She just said, in her matter-of-fact way, "Oh, you told him he couldn't jump up and down on the couch. He wasn't jumping UP, just DOWN."

Go figure...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mary, Queen of Sleepers

The things you never thought you'd say to your kids, and wish forever that you hadn't...

This is a relatively old story, and it begins and ends with a couch. Actually, three different couches.

The first couch was a loveseat sleeper I inherited from my Mom when she moved in with my Bro Joe. We needed a couch, and it also worked as a guest bed, since it was a 'double sleeper'. Though, if you've ever tried sleeping on one you know why they rarely function as one.

It survived a litter or two of kittens, but the arms got ratty as the cats tended to use them as scratching posts. So eventually we decided to get a new couch, as we were having our sunday school class over and the couch was an embarrassment. (We'd tried slipcovers, they just didn't work.)

We weren't thinking rationally. Buying a couch to impress the Sunday School Class? That's a pretty big purchase. I figured it must run about $300 - $400! But we were panicked.

Besides, we had the money, so we bought a Tartan Queen Sleeper. I dubbed it 'Mary, Queen of Scots', because it was a red and green plaid pattern that I'd seen on kilts. (Shades of Bagpipes playing Amazing Grace...)

Here's a Pic of what it looked like...

Anyway, the Sunday School party went off well. Nobody commented on the couch, but I would imagine they might have refused to sit on the old one.

One month after the purchase, our two mixed breed teenage cats decided to use THIS brand new couch as a scratching post. I came home and noticed that the arms were shredded.

So the next day, the cats and I paid a visit to the local Animal Hospital, and I told them to trim their nails back behind their elbows.

I knew that declawing cats was a normal function, but didn't realize that it was to be done normally when a cat was a kitten, or a yearling.

Also, I didn't know that in those days, you declawed cats by cutting off the fingers. OUCH!!! I felt guilt for, oh I don't know, maybe a whole day.

Seriously, I did feel bad.

Anyway, we tried slip covers on this couch too, but eventually we had a windfall and decided to replace the couch. So Mary Queen of Scots went into the expandable, which I had floored in prep to make it a bedroom.

It was replaced by a huge thousand-dollar sectional that was not worth what we paid. That's another interesting story for another day.

One Day, I was sitting on our new couch and watching TV, when my two middle children (Dear Son aged 9, Dear Daughter aged 7, came wandering in and proceeded to block my view with a card table, chairs, and several blankets.

"What do you think you're doing!?" I said. "We're watching TV!"

"We're making a tunnel to crawl through."

"Well, we're watching TV. Go make a tunnel somewhere else."

So they dutifully dismantled the table and chairs and put them in the other room, and went to play upstairs.

Days later, I climbed the stairs to do some more work on the expandable, (I was putting in roll-insulation) When I noticed that Mary had been pulled out from the wall, and that the bed had been extended.

There was something dark on the floor behind the couch, So I went back there to find out what it was.

About half the back of the couch had been cut away with scissors. Apparently, the kids took me literally, and 'made a tunnel'.

They told me how much fun they had going from the back of the couch, through the body, and under the extended mattress.

I told the kids in no uncertain terms, MODIFYING FURNITURE WITH SCISSORS is WRONG.

Well, we discussed options that night. Reupholster, slipcover, or put on the curb. We eventually Free-Cycled it to someone. It was usable, It just had to be against a wall.

Sigh. It wasn't until years later that my wife told me the couch was about double the cost I thought...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Family Feud

Well, it was bound to happen. Guess I can only blame myself.

My sister and I have had an ongoing rivalry about who can give their nephew/niece the most obnoxious gift.

It all started years ago when I gave her son a phaser for Christmas. It was one of those cool guns that is clear, lights up, and makes all those cool noises. WhooooooooBang!!! WeeOWeeeOWeeeeOWeeeOh! Dadadadadadowwww!!!!

You know the sounds. They range from something out of 'Missile Command' to the machine gun sound from Dick Tracy.

Anyway, she was NOT pleased.

Expressively NOT pleased, with a glint in her eye that said 'Just you wait.'

Next Christmas, she loaded up my daughters on beads and artwork and such. We had beads and fake earrings and necklaces everywhere, and watercolor pages left everywhere in the house, wallpapering the fridge and the table and even the walls.

So, the following year, her kids got squirtguns. They all had a blast. It was great fun, I'm sure, squirting Mom with those little pistols.

So the year after that, my son got a car that plays one tune over and over.

Anyway, this has just been building and building. It's an all-out war.

last year, we loaded her kids down with the super-soaker 9000s, the pump-action ones with the tanks that strap on your back, and can shoot the paint off your car.

For some reason, my dear Sis was less than enthusiastic about bringing them home.

So this year, she found the perfect, perfect, PERFECT gift for my 13 year old son.

Here it is.

Oh my. A couple of double-A batteries, and away we go.

This nerf machinegun fires 20 rounds in the space of 10 seconds, and my son wanted to unpack it right away. Well, since we didn't have any batteries, we made him wait till we got it home from my Bro's house, where we had Christmas.

But at home, we had an ample supply of AA batteries. Too many, in fact.

Enough to keep him shooting the back of my head, the cats, the 3yo toddler, and the mirrors from the other side of the house.

This gun can stick 20 little yellow and purple suction-cup darts on a wall 30 feet away and 20 feet up in the space of 10 seconds.

If they hit you, they leave a little red circle, just the same size as the suction cup. We discovered that the darts don't stick to foreheads well.

Now, shhhhhhh. I think I've got a good answer for next year's Christmas present for her big son...

According to Amazon, Customers who bought this also bought extra rounds...

Hey, Sis, see ya next Christmas...


Thursday, January 8, 2009

No Deposit, No Return

So, my Mom called, and said that they had been burglarized while they were away at work.

I really love our city. Ok, not really. Some of the people in the Memphis area are good and wholesome people, but there's a lot of crime and it's one of the most violent cities in the nation.

Anyway, I talked with her at length, and gave her info on how to post a fraud alert on her accounts, to prevent the thieves from setting up new credit cards, buying cars, etc, with their credit info.

So after I hung up, I was quite rattled. We had to go pick up our daughter from cheerleading, and on the way back I remembered I had some checks to deposit, so we drove through the teller.

I'm a programmer, so I understand that sometimes programmers don't live in the 'real world'. But the way tellers used to be, there would be a stack of envelopes at the teller, and you could pull one out, drive off, fill out your envelope at your leisure, and endorse your checks, seal your envelope and be all prepared to drive BACK through the drive-through teller, and deposit your checks quickly.

Nuff said?

Well, now, there are no envelopes out anymore, because some people thought it fun to take them all.

So, the routine is, drive up, pull out your checks, zip your atm card, enter the total amount, and it asks if you want an envelope. When you get the envelope, you have approximately 15 seconds to put your endorsed checks in the envelope, write your name, address, and account number on the front, and insert the envelope in the slot.

All while the machine is beeping loudly enough for any criminals in the nearest mile to figure out that you are depositing money.

So, like a good scout, I had us endorse all our checks first (Yes, when you are ADD, you often forget to deposit them, some of them were months old.) and total up what they all added up to.

Then we drove up to the teller. My Drivers License is in the same pocket of my wallet as my ATM card, and my hands were shaking, as I saw thugs in every other car, and sneaking up through the dark.

Yeah, I know. God has not given us the spirit of fear... Well, He wasn't the one talking to me tonight but oh well.

So, the drivers license and atm card fell out in the car, and I stuck the drivers license in my breast pocket and zipped the ATM. After entering the amount, it asked if I wanted an envelope.


So, I grab the envelope, and an errant gust of wind blows it out of my shaking hands and under the car.

So, I had to pull forward from the ATM, and my wife got the envelope, which she proceeded to attempt to feed into the machine.

Uh, honey, the checks are in my pocket.

So, I stop her, get out of the car, (yes, it's running, but at least it's in park) and run back there to stop her. I grab the checks and stuff them into the envelope, while it's screaming to beat the band, asking if I jolly well need more time.

Grrr... so I tell it YES, and then proceed to stand there in the drive thru writing my name and account number on the envelope, seal it up and feed it through.

Not until the envelope has disappeared down the throat of the evil beast did I realize that my drivers license had gone with the checks into the machine.

And the punch line?

My wife commented "I didn't think they required ID at the ATM."

Saturday, January 3, 2009

While You Were Frosting

Every New Years, we watch certain movies in our family that remind us of the Christmas and New Years Seasons.

So, last night our 19yo daughter broke out our VHS copy of 'While You Were Sleeping', a romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock.

All of us started out watching the movie, but it couldn't hold the interest of our 13yo son or our 3yo son.

The 13yo went into the other room to play some Star Fox Adventures, and the 3yo started playing quietly with his toys.

And then not so quietly.

After a bit, the movie got to the good part, where Lucy (Sandra Bullock) is revealing the big secret that pervades the whole movie. It's a scene filled with angst and emotion, and we were all sucked into the movie.

Then our 3yo got very noisy, chasing cats back and forth across the upstairs screaming and enjoying himself immensely, so we had to put the movie on pause while we tried to reign him in and get him under control.

We couldn't hear the movie anyway.

So our 19yo daughter took over the little man, while our 10yo daughter tried to calm the kitties, and I went up to our bedroom to dress for bed and get ready for our nighttime routine (reading the kids a story).

When I got to our room, though, I was so shocked I hollered out our 3yo's name.

There must have been some note in my voice that led our son to believe he was going to get smooshed, because he ran to hide in the bathroom downstairs, holding his bottom all the way.

Well, I knew I wasn't going to spank him in anger, so when I got to him, I told him that we were going to go see what he had done before he got his spanking.

So we headed up the stairs to see.

In our bedroom, there was white cream squirted all over the dresser, the floor, my coat (flung haphazardly over a chair), and even the top of our ceiling-height curtains.

There was crumbled gingerbread house all over the floor, mixed in with the cream, and there was a bottle of Oil of Olay covered with cream.

I had a talk with the little man, asking him what he thought he was doing squirting that stuff all over the bedroom.
He said he was 'frosting cookies.'
I felt a cold chill run up and down my spine. After a couple more questions, we determined that he had eaten the cookies.

Bet they didn't taste very good.

So while my wife cleaned up the mess, I called the poison control center.

When I told her what the product was, how old the child was, and then mentioned what he said he was doing, the lady laughed so hard she practically fell out of her chair.

She said that he probably didn't enjoy the taste of that, which explains why there was gingerbread all over the floor.

Thankfully, he didn't need to go to the hospital. She said if he ate a LOT of it he would have a belly ache, and that would be the most that would happen.

But the traumatic event reminded us all of Prov 29:15 - The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

The passage, of course, is describing a child who receives no discipline. Our little guy was left to himself for a short time, but he didn't get away with it...