Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Get Up and Get Out!!!

Sometimes that recliner is just a little too comfortable.

You know you should get up, get out, and do something, and you're sure that you will...but in a few minutes. Not right now. You're cozy in the chair. You've got your smart phone and you're cruising through a game of Candy Crush. You're mindlessly watching another episode of Family Feud. (Man, that Steve Harvey sure can make anything sound like a sexual innuendo.) Or, you're scrolling through the recipes, political diatribes, and mindless nostalgia that Facebook has become.

You'll get up and do something...in a minute.

And while you're sitting there in the chair, what are the kids doing? Playing quietly? Reading? Moping? Fighting with each other? Getting into things they shouldn't? Continually interrupting you so you lose track of which Candy you are supposed to be Crushing?

Did you know that if you get up out of the chair and interact with your kids, that they are less likely to misbehave? (I have no scientific study to cite to back up that statement, but it sure seems like common sense to me.)

Let me ask you a question: What are your kids more likely to remember, yet another day of you sitting in the chair staring at a screen, or that time you took them to the children's museum?

Which do you think she'll remember more, this, or you sitting in your chair playing with your phone?
When your kids grow up and look back at their childhoods, they will definitely think of the times you played with them at the park, went hiking with them, played basketball with them, or did anything outside with them before they think of all the times they tried in vain to get your attention while you sat there like a big, giant lump.

And what about you? What will you remember? Will it be that list of "Ten Things the Producers of Mork and Mindy Didn't Want You To Know" on Facebook? (And the 24 times you had to click the "NEXT" button to get through it.) Or will you remember the look on your girl's face the first time she gets the courage to go down the BIG slide?

It's all up to you. Look, I know the chair is soft and cozy. But, when you look back on their life will you ever say, "Remember all the times I sat in that comfortable chair, doing nothing?" I don't think so. Laziness never was happiness.

Friday, September 15, 2017

All Generalizations Are Bad

Yes, I'm from Idaho. But, no, I'm not a potato farmer.

Did you know there a lot of people in Idaho (the vast majority, in fact) who don't grow potatoes for a living? It's true! There are school teachers, factory workers, nurses, truck drivers, hair stylists, college professors, politicians, garbage collectors, pawn shop owners, fry cooks, custodians, and nuclear scientists living in Idaho who have never pulled a potato out of the ground.

Amazingly enough, there are also farmers in Idaho who are not potato farmers! I know this for a fact, because I grew up on a farm in Idaho, but the only time I ever saw a potato was on my dinner plate. We grew wheat, barley, and alfalfa, and we raised cattle. But no potatoes.

People make assumptions and generalizations based on limited information quite frequently. They hear the word "Idaho," and the first thing that comes to mind is potatoes. So they immediately jump to the conclusion that if you are from Idaho, you must be a potato farmer.

It happens all the time. You live in Los Angeles? Oh, you must want to be an actor. You're a Mormon? So, how many wives do you have? She's so pretty, she must have been a cheerleader. (And she's probably not very smart.) Look how tall you are. You must have played college basketball.

Just because I like posing in front of over-sized potatoes doesn't mean I'm a male model.

Some of these generalizations are pretty harmless. But, sometimes they're not. You accepted welfare? Oh, you must be a lazy freeloader. You're a Republican? Oh, you must be a racist. You voted for Trump? Oh, you must be stupid. You voted for Hillary? Oh, you must hate America.

It can be very easy for these things to get out of hand.

So, we must come to this conclusion: All generalizations are bad!

(Do you see what I did there? I made a generalization that said that all generalizations are bad. But if all generalizations are bad, wouldn't that mean that my generalization that all generalizations are bad is also bad? It's all pretty confusing, isn't it?)

Not all of the assumptions we make by generalizing are bad. Not all of them are right. (Is it true that all Canadians are really nice? Probably not, but it's not such a bad generalization to characterize a people by.) Not all of them are wrong. (If you assume everyone you meet in Utah is a Mormon, you would be correct very, very often, but not all of the time.)

I guess what I'm saying is that we can't always assume our generalizations are true. We need to look at each person and each case individually. Sometimes people don't always fit into the neat little stereotypes that we think should define them.

Just because I'm extremely handsome, it doesn't mean that I'm not very smart. (And I guess if someone assumes I'm a potato farmer just because I'm from Idaho, that's not the worst thing in the world. I hear they're all really hard workers.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Worst Bucket List Ever

A while back my brother visited the town of Tooele, Utah for the first time, then he commented, "Now I can cross that off of my bucket list."

My immediate thought was, "If driving through Tooele is on your bucket list, that has to be one of the saddest bucket lists ever."And that got me thinking: what would the worst bucket list ever look like? I'm guessing it would look something like this:

*Own Season 7 of The Golden Girls on DVD.

*Eat every single item off of the McDonald's menu. (Not all at once, just eventually.)

*Spend a week in Ogden, Utah.

Ogden: More cash loan stores in former gas station buildings per capita than any other city in America! (Except Reno.)

*Drink some buttermilk.

*Shop at a Dillard's department store (and actually buy something.)

*Drive a Toyota Camry.

*Watch all of the Transformers movies in one day.

*Attend a Cleveland Browns game.

*Meet (and shake hands with) former Vice Presidents Dan Quayle and Walter Mondale.

*Learn all of the lyrics to "It's a Small World After All."

*Visit the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota. (Conveniently located between Minneapolis and Des Moines!)

*Climb the highest mountain in Nebraska.

*Get Pat Sajak's autograph.

*Visit the Kentucky State Capitol Building in Frankfort.

*Own Season 5 of T. J. Hooker on DVD.

If someone could check everything off of this bucket list, they would have lived a life just slightly fuller than the rest of us. (Sometimes you gotta dream big.)

Friday, September 8, 2017

A Song of Poop and Barf

A Song of Fire and Ice? Ha! What's so scary about that? Fire's not so bad; just pour some water on it. And ice? Well, I've seen Frozen enough times that the ice doesn't bother me anyway.

No, I have a song that is much more frightening. A song that would make George R. R. Martin run away and hide. I sing: A Song of Poop and Barf!

Recently, our Song of Poop and Barf began on a Monday morning around 7:30 AM. When I opened the door I was greeted by a wall of stench. Thing 3, our two-and-a-half year-old girl, was up and out of her bed, but I immediately noticed a large stain on her sheets. I knew what had to happen. (It's moments like this that separate the fathers from the babysitters.) I grabbed the girl and removed her clothes, taking care to minimize spreading the poop to uninfected areas. (Keeping the poop out of the hair being a top priority!) I gave her a preliminary wipe-down, then threw her in the bathtub. (The preliminary wipe-down is essential, because you never want any poop in the tub.) I stripped her bed of sheets, blankets, pillow-case, and mattress pad and shoved them all down the laundry chute. I removed the blanket from atop the changing table and put it down the chute as well. I bathed the girl, cleaned her up, dried her off, put her in a new diaper and clean clothes. And, as all this was going on I was barking orders to our two older children to help entertain/distract our youngest child (Thing 4, a one year-old boy,) and to get themselves ready to catch the school bus. I then went downstairs and put all the poop-infected clothing and bedding in the washing machine.

And with that, the battle was over---but the war was just beginning.

Did I take a training potty and attempt to transform it into the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones using diapers? Yes, yes I did. Is there something wrong with me? Yes, yes there is.

Over the course of the day there were a few more skirmishes. Thing 4 pooped and pooped and pooped some more. (He pooped at least six times over the course of the day. Fortunately, his diapers held containment.)

Early in the afternoon I was standing next to Thing 3, and she had a pained grimace on her face. Then suddenly, I heard it! It was a horrible noise. I can best describe it as the sound of exploding poop. (It sounded, literally, as if someone had dropped a cherry bomb down into the hole of an outhouse.) Thing 3 acted very surprised, then looked up at me and said, "I made a noise." (It was a grand understatement.) Why yes, yes she did! I was amazed (and very relieved) that none of the poop escaped her diaper. (Another win for Pampers!)

The next verse in the Song of Poop and Barf was sung shortly after midnight. There was crying coming from the other room, and it wasn't "restless sleep" crying, it was "something's wrong" crying. I opened the door and was greeted by a new and terrible smell: barf! I yelled for my wife. With both of us there, we could divide the tasks. I took the girl to the tub and The Wife took clothing/bedding/washing machine duty. I soon realized the problem was that the barf had gotten into her hair. You can't get barf out of hair using just a wet-wipe, so I had to use the shower nozzle, which was not a popular decision with Thing 3. All the screaming woke up Thing 4, so we ended up with both babies in bed with us for a while until they calmed back down. Thing 3 requested her favorite movie, Pocahontas. (I'm not sure why she's latched onto that movie, but it's good that she likes a wholesome Disney movie with a wonderful message: Disobey your father and run off with a strange man.) (Wait...what???)

Thing 3 slept in until almost noon and woke up famished. I knew she needed to replenish her fluids, but I foolishly gave her too much, too soon: another barf, another tub. Her song of barf continued at dinner that evening, although she appeared to have a bit more vim and vigor than earlier in the day.

The Song of Poop and Barf lived up to its name the next morning. At 4:55 AM the words, "I pooped," were broadcast into my ears through the baby monitor. I checked and yes, the poop had oozed out of her diaper. So, I repeated the process of two days earlier, which included changing all of her sheets and bathing her again. All clean and cozy, I was just setting her down on our bed to watch some more shows (Sesame Street this time; Cookie Monster never disobeys his father to run off with a strange man) when she started barfing! Back to the tub. It was a Daily Double, or a Double Feature, or a true Song of Poop and Barf! So, she got two wash-downs in the bathtub before 5:30 AM. (And I had to add the bathroom floor mats to the list of things cycling through our washing machine.)

How bad was it? There had been so much poop and barf in the house that everything smelled of it. And tasted of it. Does Yoplait sell a Vanilla & Poop flavored yogurt? I ask because that's what I was tasting, the Song was so prevalent in the air! I could no longer discern if Thing 4's diapers were dirty based on smell. And it got even worse when The Wife, exhausted from the skirmishes at home and her battles with teenagers at work (she teaches at the junior high), lost track of time and over-cooked some dinner on the stove top, adding burnt cabbage to the bouquet of fragrances wafting through the house.

I fed Thing 3 peaches and Gatorade. She promptly threw it up. And as I was cleaning it up I actually thought, "Hey, this barf is quite fruity and refreshing!" Yes, it got to that point.

The next morning the barf was so voluminous that it made me, veteran barf wrangler that I am, stop in my tracks like a deer in the headlights. Luckily, The Wife was there to take the lead in that battle. (I did jolt myself into action to help.)

And yes, we did take Thing 3 to the doctor, where they told us there was nothing they could do, and we just had to wait it out. (Or was that "wade it out?" The barf was getting deep.) She only barfed two more times after the doctor visit, although one of those was directly on my wife as she was holding her. And then, our song was sung.

So, I'd suggest to George R. R. Martin that he should just stick with his Song of Fire and Ice*. I don't think he could handle A Song of Poop and Barf. He'd definitely get something stuck in that beard of his. (And I am not going to give that man a bath!)

*I should admit that I haven't read any of the books or viewed any episodes of Game of Thrones. But I have lived through A Song of Poop and Barf, and just like George R.R. Martin's story, ours is not finished yet. He has two books left to write and publish, and we have two children left to potty train. The song is not yet finished.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Summer Is NOT Over Yet!

Did you know it's still summer after Labor Day? It's true! After Labor Day there are more than two and a half weeks of summer left before it officially becomes fall.

That doesn't seem right, does it? We're always being told that summer ends as soon as school starts up again in August. Or they say that the Labor Day weekend is the last hurrah of summer. But that's not the case! We can keep on summer hurrah-ing for most of the rest of September!

Check your calendar: this year the last day of summer (also known as the first day of fall) is September 22nd. Meanwhile, Labor Day falls on September 4th. Now, I'm no math wizard, but it looks to me like that means there are 18 days of summer between the two that we need to enjoy in the fullest.

So, what should we do to celebrate our newfound extended summer? How about grab your snorkel and go to the pool! There's no better summer activity than splashing around in the pool. What's that? You say the pool closes for the season on September 4th? That doesn't seem right. It's a city pool, and our tax dollars pay for it, so we should be able to enjoy it for ALL of summer, shouldn't we? (I think this calls for a sternly worded letter to the city council and mayor.)

Life's a beach!
Okay, so if we can't go to the pool, maybe we can go to the beach. Yes, I know there are no oceans in Utah, but there are plenty of lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, and they all have shore line. Some of them even have shore line with sand, or, at the very least, dirt and gravel that could be mistaken for sand if you squint at it just right. So, load up your cooler with your favorite cold beverage, grab your beach towel, put on your swimming suit and head to your favorite local beach! (Or beach-like shore line.) Chances are it will be less crowded than it was in July.

Let's go soak up some sun! It's still summer! The calendar says so. (And the calendar never lies!) And, if you happen to see some of the leaves changing colors on your way to the beach, just think of it as the trees putting on their own little summer fireworks show! (Because it is still summer!)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Cereal Killers

If you could have anything you wanted for breakfast, what would it be?

French toast! Bacon! Sausage! A ham and cheese omelet! Waffles! Hash browns! Crepes! Cinnamon rolls! Fried eggs! Scrambled eggs! Pancakes! Smoothies! Leftover cold pizza! Cinnamon toast! Toast and jam! Yogurt! Donuts! Bagels! Oatmeal?

There are so many great and delicious options for breakfast. (I'm getting hungry just thinking about them!) But, if you were to ask my children what they would want, they would say "none of the above."

My kids would choose cold cereal. Seriously. Cold cereal every single time. And I'm not even talking about the sugary "candy" cereals, like Froot Loops or Cocoa Puffs. I'm talking about cereals like Raisin Bran and Special K! Given the choice between french toast and Cheerios, my kids would choose those little donut-shaped pieces of cardboard.

Mmmm...she just can't keep her hands out of that excellent source of fiber!

I don't understand it. It makes no sense to me. I'm sure part of it is that we don't let them have cereal very often, usually just once or twice a week. But that doesn't really explain it, because we're lucky if we have bacon once a month, but the kids would still choose cereal over it.

And cereal isn't the only bad choice they'd make. They would choose a piece of candy over a piece of pie or cake. That's insane! They'd rather have a Tootsie Roll than some apple pie!

Why is this? Is there something wrong with their brains? Is it because their brains are still underdeveloped? Is it somehow related to why they like Pokemon?

I wish I knew. But, I don't have any answers, I just have questions. And right now my question is: do we have any bacon in the freezer? (Mmm...bacon!)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"Everything That Is Wrong with Humanity Today"

Last night I learned that my wife represents "everything that is wrong with humanity today."

I had no idea! I know she isn't perfect. I'm aware she has a few flaws here and there. But, to find out she is everything that is wrong with humanity comes as a bit of a shock! There's a lot wrong with humanity; I'm just not sure how my wife is able to represent all of that.

But, I read it on the internet, so it has to be true, right?

Surprisingly, this was said about my wife, and not me, or Donald Trump, or Barack Obama, or Adam Sandler, or Taylor Swift, or that one guy from that annoying commercial that everyone hates.

There is a lot of good discourse and discussion on the internet. But, unfortunately, these discussions often go off the rails when someone disagrees or gets their feelings hurt, and it devolves into an exercise in name-calling and finger-pointing.

That's what happened last night. My wife presented a valid, well thought-out opinion on a subject. (I'll admit that I'm biased, and that I agree with her opinion.) However, a friend of a friend didn't agree. That's fine--differences in opinion happen all the time. But he almost immediately escalated it by calling her names ("stupid,") telling her to "F off," and then telling her, "You represent everything that is wrong with humanity today."

(Amazingly enough, the subject matter wasn't politics, which is what most of America finds so divisive today; it was about a health matter that concerns one of our children.)

I'd like to think this was an isolated incident, but I know it is not. In today's volatile political climate, this kind of name calling is becoming more and more prevalent. Look at the comments section of any politically-tinged story ( be it "real" or "fake" news) and you'll find it full of vitriol, intolerance, and hate.

The thing is, these people are emboldened by the anonymity of the internet. Since they can say it they do, because there are no immediate repercussions. People lose their sense of civility and common decency because they can hide behind a made-up name or a tiny profile picture. They think that because they'll probably never be in the same room with someone that they can say whatever they want with impunity. This man probably wouldn't have said those things about my wife if he had been standing in front of her in person. (And if he had, I probably would have punched him.)

I was grateful that several of my wife's friends defended her and called out the behavior of this bully, many of them doing so in a way that didn't deteriorate into name-calling. (Even though the guy was clearly behaving like a cotton-headed ninnymuggins.)

This kind of behavior has become a big problem. (You could even say it is "everything that is wrong with humanity today" if my wife hadn't already laid claim to that title.) But, it really should be pretty easy to stop. All we have to do is think before we write. Before you hit "enter," "return," or "send," think to yourself, "What would my Mom think if she saw what I have just written? What would my Dad think? What would sweet, lovable Aunt Franny think?"

And if that doesn't work you could try, "How would I react if someone said this to or about my child? Or my sister? Or my Grandma?"

It's okay to have differences of opinion. People can't even agree on something as simple as what is the best Pop-Tart flavor (even though, obviously, it's Frosted Strawberry.) But even though we don't see eye to eye, we can still be civil, can't we? If not, we're no better than the monkeys in the zoo flinging poop at each other.