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...