Friday, November 17, 2017

Television Is NOT My Babysitter (Usually)

No, I'm not using the television as a babysitter! I would never do that. I'm far too responsible as a parent to just turn on the television, plop the kids down in front of it, and ignore them for several hours. That's not me. I'm better than that.

Now, I might sit them down in front of the television if they ask for it politely. I always try to reward politeness, so if they say "please" and "thank you," it can't hurt to give them what they want, can it?

And maybe I'll turn on the television if the kids are climbing all over me but I have something that I really need to get done. Distracting them for a few minutes while I get some vital chore done is worth it, right?

If they're screaming and fighting with each other, letting them watch a show isn't such a bad idea, is it? It's certainly better then letting them hit each other and get in toy tug-of-wars because they don't want to share. Television brings unity and happiness.

Television: It's a wonderful tool!

Besides, television is educational! It's not like I'm letting them watch nasty things Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead or CNN. On those rare occasions I flip on the television, I only allow them to watch wholesome, educational programming, like Reading Rainbow or Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood or WordWorld. They learn things when watching these shows, so it's a good thing when I let them watch all day long, isn't it?

So, no, I don't use the television as a babysitter. Instead, I use it as an educational tool to help teach my kids unity and manners, and I do so for hours and hours and hours at a time! What could be wrong with that?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Who Eats Gas Station Hot Dogs?

Every time you go inside at the gas station you see them. They are rotating in their display case. They've been cooked (probably), or at the very least warmed. They are waiting to be sold and eaten. They are the gas station hot dogs.

Who eats these things?

There they are, ready for you (or anyone else) (or everyone else) to grab!
They're slimy. They're greasy. And, worst of all (or is that wurst of all?) they're out there in the open where anyone can touch them! Have you taken a good look at the customers inside a convenience store? Are these the type of people you want having free and open access to touch your food before you eat it?

Now, having said that, I don't really think these openly displayed hot dogs get touched very often. I have never caught anyone touching a gas station hot dog that they weren't purchasing. But, the fact that they're out there in the open where anyone could touch them is enough to keep me away. 

I don't think I've ever even seen anyone buy one of these gas station hot dogs. They must sell them to someone, or they wouldn't have them in every gas station. Maybe people only buy them when they are the only customer in the store, too ashamed to let someone else see their purchase.

And while I won't eat a gas station hot dog, I might eat a gas station burrito. The tortilla around the meat might make enough difference, depending on how hungry I am. And I definitely would be willing to eat a gas station sandwich that is wrapped. As long as that wrapping keeps the unwashed masses from touching my food, I'm just fine.

Iffy.
No problem!
But, I'm not going to be having any of that jerky-in-a-jar by the cash register. If the jerky isn't individually wrapped, I'm not eating it!

Interestingly enough, while I won't even consider eating a gas station hot dog, I eat gas station donuts all the time! The donuts are behind a little see-through plastic door. Someone could touch all of the donuts just as easily as they could all of the hot dogs. And yet, I grab my tiny piece of wax paper, wrap it around the donut (or apple fritter) of my choice, and have exactly zero qualms about eating it. Why the difference? Am I putting that much faith in the use of the donut wax paper? Is it the fact that the donut isn't as slimy as the hot dog? I'm just not sure.

No, there won't be any gas station hot dogs for me! I'll get all my food through the fast-food window, where I know the food preparation conditions are pristine and all of the workers wash their hands at least twice a day, whether they need to or not!

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Perfect Getaway...to Walmart?

I have a secret that I'm going to confess to you. It's a bit shameful and embarrassing. It's not something I'm proud of. I don't really understand why I do it. But here it is:

Sometimes I'll escape the world by going to Walmart.

I know what you're thinking: Walmart? Really? Let me answer that first by saying that there are (at least) four Walmarts between where I live and the nearest Target, which is a half-hour away. The one hour round-trip drive to Target can't compete with the ten minute round-trip to Walmart. (And for those who think I should be more manly, Cabela's is an hour and a half round-trip.)

But still, Walmart, you ask? Walmart is a place you go on purpose? To get away from it all? Yes. Yes, it is.

The place to go to get away from it all?

Let me explain, if I can. I'm a stay-at-home Dad. (Not a Mr. Mom!) I have four kids, including two children under the age of three that require near-constant attention. If I can get thirty minutes to myself by going to Walmart because we're out of dishwasher soap, then by heck I'm going to take advantage of that!

[Before you feel too sorry for me, I should point out that my wife works full-time as a junior high math teacher. She deals with hundreds of kids a day, then comes home to our four kids and me. I hope she finds an occasional escape at school, because she doesn't get nearly as many "girl's nights out" as she deserves! (Not even to Walmart.)]

So, what do I do on my Walmart getaways? First of all, I have to get the thing (or things) I went there for. Walmart has just about everything, so anything can be used as an excuse to go. The other day we needed some light bulbs, so I used that as the reason for my Walmart trip. Once I had the bulbs, I was free to hit some of my regular spots. I'll stop at the DVD section and look at television show seasons that I might be interested in, but probably can't afford and wouldn't have the time to watch anyway. I'll browse down the book aisle and see if I can figure out how many new books James Patterson has written and released since the last time I was at Walmart. (Usually at least three.) I'll glance down the toy section to see if there's anything there my kids might like, and smile when I see toys they already have and think of how much fun they've had with them. I'll look at the egg nog (if it's the right season) and probably determine that it's just too expensive. And I'll get some bananas. We always need bananas (because the ones we had either have been eaten or gone bad.)

20 checkout lanes! (At least two of which are open.)

You never know what might happen at Walmart. You might see a neighbor or an old friend and get a chance to visit. You might see one of those "people of Walmart" and get a good laugh. You might be one of those "people of Walmart." (The other day the song "Fox On the Run" by Sweet started playing over the intercom, and before I knew it my head was bobbing up and down and I was loudly singing, "I--I--I--don't wanna know your name," as I pushed my cart through the store. Hopefully I'm not going viral somewhere as "Singing Walmart Guy.")

And, hey, you obviously don't need to get dressed up to go to Walmart.

Now, I know that Walmart isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of getting away from it all. Normally you might think of the mountains. Or the beach. Or the spa. Or the lake. Or the cabin. But, next time you need a getaway, maybe you should think of Walmart. It's close. It's convenient. It really is a great value. (And, they have bananas. You always need bananas.)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sleep: The Final Frontier

Sleep: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Parenthood. Its five year -- ten year --twenty year --lifelong mission: to explore the inside of your eyelids, to seek out sleep wherever you can find it, to boldly snore where no one has snored before!

[Wait. Did you say lifelong mission? Really? Lifelong? Shouldn't it be just "five-year?" By the time your kids are five years old they should be sleeping through the night, so the parents should be able to sleep just fine, right? Are you trying to tell me that your children can effect your ability to sleep for the rest of your entire life?!? That's something they certainly did not put in the brochures! I didn't know I was signing up for that!]

Sleep is something we definitely take for granted as single people. Before you become a parent, your thoughts on sleep are basically, "Sleep? Yeah, I'll catch some of that whenever. It's no big deal. There'll always be time for sleep later." Hah! If only you knew! When you are a parent, that far-flung future known as "later" doesn't actually exist, and it probably never will.

Sleep? Why would I sleep when I could be climbing on the couch and knocking the mirror off of the wall?

The ways in which a child can keep a parent from getting that much-needed sleep are numerous:
Crying.
Screaming.
Talking to their stuffed animals.
Peeing the bed.
Pooping the bed.
Barfing the bed.
Coughing.
Jumping on the bed.
Clicking the light switch on and off in rapid succession.
Pounding on the door.
Pounding on the wall.
Climbing up the wall.
Waking up their sibling.
Climbing on the furniture.
Knocking over the furniture.
Sneezing.
Wheezing.
Making too much noise.
And, oddly enough, being too quiet.

And when the kids wake us up, we'll do just about anything to get them back to sleep. The other night The Wife and I piled sleepless kids in our bed with us and watched an episode of Reading Rainbow about comedy. (Because when it comes to making people laugh, the first person I think of is LeVar Burton!) Later, I sat in the living room at 3:30 AM feeding my baby pop tarts as he forced me to play with a fidget spinner. (And if I wasn't playing with it the way he wanted me to, he most certainly would let me know.)

Of course, once kids become teenagers we don't need to worry about them anymore, and we can count on a peaceful sleep every night. (At least that's what I really hope will happen, even though reports I've gotten from people who have been through it seem to disagree.)

There's a lot of talk about the zombie apocalypse. I don't think it will happen, but if it does, it won't consist of the undead, it will be a zombie apocalypse featuring sleepless parents slowly going through their daily motions without any visible sign of higher brain functions.

Kids daydream about all kinds of fantastical, wonderful things. Parents daydream about sleep. It truly is the final frontier.



Friday, November 3, 2017

How NOT to Eat a KitKat Bar

I'm not saying there's a right way to eat a KitKat bar. I'm not saying there's a wrong way to eat a KitKat bar.

But, yes, there is a wrong way to eat a KitKat bar, and this is it:

Noooooooooooo!!!!
The KitKat bar pictured above has four separate wafer bars. Those wafer bars are supposed to be broken apart from the others, with each wafer bar eaten one at a time. You don't believe me? Look at the picture on the package. It shows one wafer bar, not four! Because you are supposed to eat the KitKat bar one bar at a time.

Still don't believe me? Think of the jingle. It goes, "Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that KitKat bar." Did you catch that? It clearly says, "break me off a piece," not "take a bite or two." A KitKat bar is supposed to be broken off into individual wafer bars and eaten that way. 

Anyone who could eat a KitKat bar like this shouldn't be trusted. They should be shunned, avoided, and possibly reported to the authorities. Who knows what they might be capable of doing? For heavens sake, these people might even attempt something so fiendish as taking a bite of the Left Twix and Right Twix at the same time! We're talking total disregard for the laws of nature! Could they even go so far as to take the two cups from a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and eat them simultaneously? Blasphemy!


What kind of monster could do such a horrible thing?
I apologize if you find these images troubling, but the only way to stop this kind of behavior is to address it head on. We, as concerned citizens, must do all we can to make sure all Americans eat their candy the correct way from this moment forward!

Gimme a break, indeed!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fun Size vs. Mini Size

Are they making the Halloween candy smaller every year? It sure seems so.

To be fair, I do have large hands.

 It used to be (a long, long time ago) that no one ever gave any thought to what size a candy bar was. Candy bars came in whatever size they came in. Some were bigger than others. The Three Musketeers bar was bigger than an Almond Joy, but that was okay. They were all "full-sized" or candy bar sized. Size didn't really matter.

But then someone decided that smaller candy bars might work better for times like Halloween. They started off calling these shrunken candy bars "Snack Size." It made it sound as if a full size candy bar was some kind of large meal no one could ever finish in one attempt, so instead they were offering smaller bars that people could eat as a "Snack." And, it worked. People loved the "Snack Size" candy bars, which were usually one-half to one-third the size of a regular candy bar. They were a great size to give away for Halloween, and you could eat two or three of them without feeling too guilty about it.

Full-Size, Fun-Size, and Mini-Size. (Eat them all and you'll need to Exer-Cise.)

Of course, over the years, full-sized candy bars have gotten smaller and smaller. And the same thing has happened to "Snack Size." In fact, most companies have changed the name of these smaller bars from "Snack Size" to "Fun Size." Apparently, they aren't big enough to be considered a snack anymore, but they are still fun! The "Fun Size" bars are now only about one-fourth the size of a full-sized bar. But, people still love them. "Fun Size" is fun!

Three "Fun-Size" bars atop a full-sized one.

Unfortunately, someone decided if shrinking bars down to "Fun Size" was a good idea, how about making them even smaller? So now they are offering "Mini-Size" candy bars. The "Mini-Size" candies are less than half as big as the "Fun Size." They're about the size of a fingertip!

Two "Mini-Size" candies on top of a "Fun-Size."

In fact, the "Mini-Size" are so small that I don't think they should be called candy bars--they're too small to be considered a bar! You can call them candies if you want, but they aren't worthy of being called candy bars. These things are about the same size as a Hershey's Kiss. No one calls a Hershey's Kiss a candy bar.

And, like a Hershey's Kiss, the "Mini-Size" candies are hardly worth the effort to unwrap. If you are larger than a standard elf, your hands will be so much larger than the "Mini" that it will be difficult to grasp the wrapper to unwrap the treat. The candy is so small that I wouldn't be surprised if the wrapper weighs more than the actual candy!

Sometimes I'm tempted to not even bother unwrapping these little things.
This needs to stop now! If left unchecked, the candy companies might keep making their candies smaller and smaller, until they are the size of Pop Rocks. (And I don't mean a package of Pop Rocks, I mean as small as each individual rock that pops.) How long until they start individually wrapping each Smartie?

We need to say no to the "Mini-Size" candies. Don't buy them. Don't give them out as Halloween treats. "Fun Size" are acceptable; full size is preferable. Sometimes size does matter!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Yes, Kids Live Here

If you ever come to visit me in my home, one thing will become evident very quickly: Yes, kids live here.

It's pretty obvious as soon as you enter my house. In fact, you might not be able to get the door open because of all the toys in the way.
None of these are my toys. They all belong to the kids.
In fact, when you come into my house, you just might ask yourself, "Just how many kids does he have? Two? Four? 93?"

We really do have a lot of toys in our living room. Why so many? Well, kids play with toys, and when they are playing with toys they are less likely to be getting into trouble or hitting me in the crotch. (I don't like getting hit in the crotch.)

With some people, you walk into their house and wonder if anyone even lives there. Has anyone ever walked on that carpet? Has anyone ever sat in those chairs? Is this a museum or a house? Meanwhile, when you walk into our house it literally looks as if the alphabet has vomited all over the inside of our front door.

Perhaps it was a dictionary explosion.
The living room isn't the only place where it is evident we have kids. If you manage to get past the toys and make to the bathroom, you might see something like this:

It's either the toilet paper roll or a mummy from an episode of Scooby-Doo.
To be honest, that picture isn't from my house, it's from the home of my wife's parents. They don't have any kids at home, but an occasional visit from the grandkids leaves results like this.

I'm sure there are ways to have kids living in a house without it being apparent that kids live there. I've seen some people who do it. I have no idea how they do it, though. Do they follow kids around with a vacuum all day? Do they hire a professional maid service? Is it cleaned by a singing Disney princess and her troupe of woodland creatures? 

I don't know how they do it. But I do know one thing: if you come to my house, you'll know that kids live here.