Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I'm All Jingled Out

It's not even December yet, and I'm already all jingled out.

We had a good Thanksgiving. We saw family, ate lots of good food, and enjoyed the leftovers. It was a good holiday.

But then, as soon as Thanksgiving was over, we were on to Christmas. It started out quite pleasantly. My wife (who is amazing!) spent hours making homemade gingerbread houses. On Black Friday/Leftover Day, my wife, the kids, my Mom, my sister-in-law, my niece and I spent hours decorating the gingerbread houses. The kids had a blast! (And the adults enjoyed it, too.) It's a very fun family activity, and it's a good way to get rid of leftover Halloween candy.

Hours of family fun!!!
 (And yes, the kids did "accidentally" eat some of the candy while decorating their houses.)

The next day, it was time to put up the Christmas tree, which would have been much easier if all of the pre-lit lights would actually light up and be lit when the tree was plugged in. They didn't. So, it was time for a trip to the store and a new Christmas tree.

Meanwhile, as she was busy with all of this, my wife was also spending hours online, shopping for Christmas on Black Friday and Cyber Monday (and the Saturday and Sunday in between, which don't have specially marketed names. Yet.) She puts a lot of time into picking out what the kids need and what the kids want for Christmas. It may not seem like much, but it takes a good amount of effort and skill to navigate the interwebs to find the things that will make the kids smile on Christmas morning. (I got on the computer, too, but it was only to check my fantasy football score on ESPN.)

And then the kids got out the hats. A couple of years ago we got a couple of silly elf hats. They have bells and lights, and they each play a song. (One plays "Jingle Bells" and the other plays "We Are Santa's Elves.") The kids absolutely love these hats, and I like them, too, for about five minutes.

Very festive! (And annoying.)

It was during the 739th rendition of "Jingle Bells" that I lost it. I yelled, "Stop the hat! I'm all jingled out!" Yes, I was all jingled out, and it wasn't even December yet.

But, I really shouldn't be jingled out yet. I still have to write the family Christmas card. I still haven't done any Christmas shopping yet. (Back in October a friend of mine told me he was finished with his Christmas shopping. I wanted to punch him in the stomach.)

I haven't earned the right to be jingled out yet. My wife has. She has already put in hours and hours of work toward making this Christmas a good and memorable one for the kids and me. She is amazing!

It's time I help her out. I need to put myself in gear and get in motion.

I need to get re-jingled!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Leftover Day!!!

For some people, the day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday. It's all about shopping and getting the best deals of the year. It's about staying up way late or getting up extra early. It's about standing in long lines and fighting over the last big screen television.

It doesn't need to be that way.

Instead of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving should be known as Leftover Day.

We spend all week preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. There's lots of planning and lots of cooking. Then we spend maybe an hour actually eating the meal. It's fantastic! But when the feast is finished, what is left? The leftovers, that's what!

So many leftovers!!!
Rubbermaid, Tupperware, old whip cream containers, plates covered with tin foil: they all get stuffed with the remnants of all the best Thanksgiving meal foods. Unfortunately, too much of this great leftover food is wasted each year. The problem is, the longer the leftovers are left in the refrigerator, the more likely we'll forget what is in each container. And then, before you know it, you have a fridge full of mystery meals. And later still, we'll have containers full of fuzzy, furry former food.

That's why we need to celebrate the day after Thanksgiving as Leftover Day. If we eat the leftovers the day after Thanksgiving, we'll be more likely to still remember which food is in which container, and we'll be less likely to waste all of this delicious food.

One of the good things about Leftover Day is that you eat the leftovers right out of the leftover containers. Or, at the very least, you eat the leftovers on paper plates with plastic utensils. The key to Leftover Day is dirtying the fewest dishes as possible. There were enough dirty dishes on Thanksgiving, there's no need to add to it on Leftover Day.

Leftover Day can also be used to try new things and new combinations. Didn't have room for the sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving? You can have some on Leftover Day! Have you wondered what the green bean casserole would taste like covered in gravy? It's Leftover Day, give it a try!

And yes, there is still some pie! (But not for long.)

So, this year, take a break from the craziness of Black Friday shopping and just kick back and feed your face on Leftover Day! (And don't worry about the dishes. Mr. Hefty will take care of it.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ranking the Top 10 Thanksgiving Foods

Ah, Thanksgiving!

Food is an important part of almost all of the holidays we celebrate. (Except for President's Day, where no food is as important as a good sale at the furniture store.) But, Thanksgiving is the only holiday where everything is ALL about the food!

There is soooo much food on Thanksgiving. It's all so good, but you just can't eat as much of everything as you'd like. Your stomach is only so big (even if you have a big stomach like mine.) That means you have to prioritize. You might have to skip some of the foodstuffs in order to stuff yourself with the foods you like best. To help you with that, here is a ranking of the most common Thanksgiving foods, from worst to best.

Honorable mention: Bacon. I've never had bacon for Thanksgiving. But, I'd be willing to give it a try.

Honorable mention: Squash. I bring up squash here because my wife and her family have this strange impulse to cook some form of squash at every meal, including (maybe even especially) at Thanksgiving. (I call them the "Squash Family." And they don't seem to mind, as long as they can eat some squash.) Squash definitely feels at home on the Thanksgiving Day table, there's just not much room for it on my plate.

Honorable mention: Drinks. Whether it be water, apple cider, cranberry juice, or soda, there has to be some kind of drink to help wash down all that food. But only because you can't drink the gravy. (Or can you?)

10. Fruit salad--Fruits are woefully underrepresented on the Thanksgiving Day table, but a good fruit salad will help balance the meal. If often includes jell-o, whip cream, and/or sour cream to keep it all together, because this is Thanksgiving and nothing should be too healthy.

9. Mashed potatoes--I'm from Idaho, and it may be sacrilege to rank potatoes so low, but I'm going to anyway. The problem with mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving is that they have the double-whammy of being fairly bland and very filling. There's so much other good stuff, that if you fill up on mashed potatoes you won't have room for the rest.

8. Sweet potatoes (with marshmallow topping)--I'll leave the debate on the difference between sweet potatoes and yams for another day. All I know is there needs to be a way of increasing the ratio of marshmallow topping to sweet potatoes. (And don't be the guy who skims all the marshmallow off of the top. You might end up getting punched in the face.)

7. Green bean casserole--I've always said that the best way to eat vegetables is in some gloopy soup mix and covered with onion rings and cheese!

6. Turkey--Turkey is by far the most overrated food on the Thanksgiving Day table! Even though it's the food most associated with Thanksgiving, when you actually sit down to eat the meal, it's often overlooked. It's also the most difficult thing to cook and to prepare. (I've never had to wait for someone to "carve" the green bean casserole!)

5. Cranberry sauce--There are commonly two kinds of cranberry sauce: the kind with actual berries, and the kind that's shaped like the can it came in. How high you rate the cranberry sauce really depends on which kind you like and which kind is available. That's why it's best to always have both kinds of cranberry sauce, so that everyone can be cranberry merry! (Me, I like my cranberry in the shape of a can. I call it the "can cran.")(You can keep your darn berries!)

4. Rolls--Of course, rolls are better when they are hot and homemade, but even cold, store-bought rolls are pretty essential. Smother them in butter and maybe some jam, and they really complete the meal. And, the rolls are by far the MVP of the leftover meal, stuffed with a little bit of turkey for a quick, cold sammich!

3. Stuffing--(Also known sometimes as "dressing.") There are many kinds of stuffing, from in the bird, to made from scratch, to Stove Top. All of it is good! And yes, it is undoubtedly true that I have stuffing rated so high because my Grandma made a homemade stuffing with sausage in it that was out of this world! (My father-in-law recently tried to recreate my Grandma's stuffing for me, and did a remarkably good job of it!)

2. Gravy--Ah, gravy! Gravy is groovy! A good gravy can make so many of the other things on this list taste so much better. Just slather it on, and bland mashed potatoes become flavorful; dry turkey becomes moist and delicious; and stuffing becomes more delectable. You can even dip your rolls in it. Gravy is the (figurative) glue that holds the whole meal together! (Just don't try to drink it as your beverage.)

1. Pie--Really, you can't be surprised to find pie at the top of the list, can you? Pumpkin, apple, banana cream, pecan, chocolate, peach, cherry, cheesecake: it doesn't really matter. There are so many flavors! So many possibilities! If you ask me what I'm thankful for on Thanksgiving, I'll say pie!

I'm a guy who likes to try pie!!!
So there you have it. May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Remember to be thankful for all the blessings you have. And be sure to save some room for pie!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Why Are These Superheroes So Angry?

"Why do all those superheroes look so angry?"

Cranky superheroes.

A while back I was wearing one of the shirts I got at Comic Con, and my daughter looked for a moment, then asked that question. "Why do all those superheroes look so angry?" It was a fair question. Taking a look at the shirt, it certainly appears that almost all of the superheroes are angry, or, at the very least, grumpy. Why?

Well, if you've ever posed for a big, group photo you probably know why. Those things are never much fun. The photographer is always telling you how to pose and telling you how to smile.  And then they take the picture when you are blinking. There's always that one person who keeps messing up the shot so you have to keep doing it over and over again. (Probably Spider-Man. That guy is always making wisecracks.) And, you can only suck your gut in for so long. (I'm looking at you, Wonder Man!)

Or, maybe it's something else. Let's look in a little closer at one section of the crowd. Captain America, Daredevil, the Punisher, and She-Hulk all look especially upset, and they're all standing in the general vicinity behind Ghost Rider. My bet is that Ghost Rider let out a nasty fart. It certainly is believable coming from Ghost Rider. (Or from Nicolas Cage as Ghost Rider.) It could definitely explain the look on Captain America's face.

Ghost Rider and his flaming farts!

And on a related note, it looks like dealing with the Hulk's gamma-enhanced farts is literally a herculean task. (Only Hercules dares stand behind him.) (And some guy with no nose.)

Dealing with Hulk farts is one of the 12 Labors of Hercules.

(You know, now that I look closely at this shirt, I realize I don't know who a bunch of these superheroes are. Apparently there's a regular Hulk, a She-Hulk, and a Bieber-Hulk. Who knew?)

If you mess up his hair he'll get really, really, really mad.

But, it's not just on this shirt that the superheroes all look angry. I got an Avengers cup as a gift recently, and on it, Captain America looks like the angriest person on the entire planet.

Captain America is the sentinel of liberty! He's the embodiment of the American spirit! Why in the world would he be so angry? (Maybe it was the presidential election? It didn't exactly bring out the best in everyone.) All I know is that Captain America shouldn't look angrier than the Hulk.
"More than 300 million people to choose from and those are the two best candidates you could come up with?"

So, for whatever reason, it appears all of the superheroes are irked. What can we do to cheer them up? I've got a few ideas:

*A day at the spa--Who wouldn't feel better after a nice massage? And everyone is happier after a soak in the hot tub. (Especially Namor.)

*Coloring books--Those adult coloring books are all the rage right now, and they are perfect for calming the inner rage of heroes and villains alike. "Color therapy" is soothing and relaxing, and sure to change that anger into contentedness. (Just be sure you have crayons big enough for the Hulk.)

*A day at Disneyland--It's the happiest place on earth, right? What better way to turn those grumpy heroes into cheerful champions? (Just be sure to not get into the same "It's a Small World" boat as Ghost Rider. That guy can really stink out the place!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Things I've Actually Said Because I Am a Dad

There's an old axiom that states that "kids say the darndest things." And while that may be true, it's also true that because of kids, adults say some pretty weird stuff, too. Due to the fact that I am a father, I have uttered some combinations of words that should never have been formulated together to make a sentence. For instance, I never thought I would have to say, "Your nose is not a toybox," but I did.

Here are a few other things I've actually said because I'm a dad:

"Don't comb your brother's toes!"--Yes, I see that you have a comb. I'm not sure how you got a comb, but you have one. But, your brother doesn't have any hair on his toes. They don't need to be combed. Really.

"Is there barf in my pocket?"--I like to wear shirts that have a pocket on the front. Sometimes they come in handy. You never know when you might need to put something in your pocket. Children's barf, however, is not something I've ever wanted and/or needed in my pocket.

"Get your foot out of the measuring cup."--Despite what you might think, a measuring cup will never be a good replacement for a shoe.

"Don't stand on the tambourine."--The tambourine is one of the most useless musical instruments ever created. But that doesn't mean you should stand on it.

"The toilet is not a toy!"--I can see where this might be confusing. Toilet does, after all, have "toy" right there in the word.

"There is no milk in my knuckle."

"My knee does not need to be stirred."--Yes, I see that you have taken the whisk out of the kitchen drawer. But no, you don't need to stir my knee with it.

"Please don't whisk the cat."--Truth be told, no one under two years old should be using a whisk unsupervised. But, now that you've whisked the cat with it, please put it in the sink and not back in the drawer with the other "clean" whisks.

"Get the fork out of your hair."--Yet one more thing that my 23 month-old daughter has in common with Ariel from The Little Mermaid. (Along with the knack for doing the exact opposite of what her father tells her to do.)

"Lasagna is not a finger food."--Lasagna is even messier to eat with your fingers than macaroni and cheese. (Mac and cheese is not a finger food, either.)

"Hot chocolate is not a finger food."--That finger lasagna is not looking so bad right now.

"Get your finger out of your milk!"--Why? Well, as you may have guessed by now, milk is not a finger food.

"Please hold still so I can sniff your bum."--There's a slight chance that this sentence could be uttered by someone who is not a parent, but if so, I really don't want to know about it.

And finally, here's something I actually said just last week:
"Please don't dip your cheese balls in the cat's water dish!"--I'd explain the circumstances, but it's pretty much inexplicable. (Just like most everything else I say these days.)

Now, it's your turn. Please send in the strangest things you've ever said as a parent. You can use the comment section below, or comment on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/slowjoe40/. The person with the best strange thing will win a check for $1.32! Let's hear what weird things your children have caused you to say!

Friday, November 11, 2016

22 Things That Are Great About America

The presidential election was pretty big news this week. (You may have heard a thing or two about it.) A lot of people are depressed, despondent, and displeased with the results. Many others are excited, elated, and exuberant about what happened. There is a wide range of emotions going around out there.

Personally, I knew I was going to be disappointed, because I really disliked both of the candidates. I kept waiting for a magic unicorn to appear, win the election, and save the day. (It turns out Evan McMullin is not a magic unicorn.) That being said, I, like many, was very surprised by the actual results. (I think it all turned against Hillary when word got out about her planned New York fireworks celebration. Never count your chickens before they hatch. That's just bad karma.)

There are a lot of hard feelings lingering on both sides. There are protests and riots. There is gloating and name-calling. I think it's time for everyone to come together and put all this antagonism behind us. It's time to bury the hatchet. (Figuratively speaking.) (Unless there are some actual hatchets at these protests, in which case we should literally bury them.)

We don't need to "make America great again," because it already is great. It always has been great. There are many things that people on both sides of the political spectrum can agree on that make America great. Here are just a few of them:

1. Bacon--No matter where you are in this great land of ours, you are never very far from bacon. If you don't have any in your refrigerator or freezer, you can just go down the road a bit and find some at any grocery store, butcher shop, fine restaurant, or not-so-fine restaurant. You can have bacon for breakfast alongside your eggs. You can have it atop your hamburger. You can even have it crumbled over your salad. (If you're one of those people.)


2. Socks--Socks are fantastic! They keep your feet warm. They're like mittens for your feet, but without that annoying thumb hole. They keep your feet from sticking to your shoes and getting all stinky.

3. Babies--Babies are darn cute, and America is full of 'em! If you ever question the greatness of America, just take a look at a smiling baby. There ain't nothing better!

4. Lakes--Lakes are beautiful. They've got a lot of water, a shore line, maybe a beach, maybe some fish. You can go swimming or boating or kayaking or canoeing. Or just stand in it up to your waist and splash around a bit.

Lakes: You can even go swimming naked, if you so choose!

5. Jorts--Everyone likes blue jeans. That goes without saying (which is why I didn't say it.) Everyone loves shorts. (Again with the not needing to say stuff.) So, it seems only natural to combine the two and have jean shorts, or jorts! And if people make fun of you for wearing them because they say it's not fashionable, well that's their problem!

I like jorts! (Do you have a problem with that?)

6. Cheese--There's a flavor of cheese for everyone. You can get it sliced, pre-shredded, cubed, or in bricks. You can melt it over anything, and that thing will taste better. Cheese is for heroes!

7. Automatic Doors--When we go shopping in America, we don't have to bother with clumsy door handles or knobs. We walk up to the store and the doors open themselves and let us in, no questions asked, as if it were magic!

8. Clothing--I've seen a few naked people in my day. Clothing is a good thing.

9. Car Stereos--Can you imagine going for a long drive without a car stereo? I can't.

10. Flavors--We can put flavors in just about anything. Banana flavored milk? Yes! Pumpkin flavored bread? Yes! Watermelon flavored laughing gas at the dentist office? Yes! Cheddar bacon mac & cheese flavored potato chips? Yes! (Really?) (Yes!)

11. Reruns--Did you miss a show? Did you see a show, and really, really liked it? You can always see it again.

12. Recess--Sometimes we can all use those fifteen minutes to go play on the swings or go down the slide. 

13. Couches--It's a chair that three people can sit on at the same time! It's a small bed that one person can stretch out on! It's a flat surface you can stack things on! It's a soft, cushy trampoline for small children! Couches are awesome!

14. "Forever" Stamps--Do you have any idea what a stamp costs these days? It doesn't really matter any more. If you buy a stamp, it will last forever. Forever!!! (That's a long time!)

These things will outlast the zombie apocalypse!

15. Towels--Think for just a moment about how much time you would spend wet, damp, and/or moist if it weren't for towels.

16. The Letter "C"--"C" is for cookie. (That's good enough for me.)

17. Opinions--We can all have opinions. You might think mine are wrong. I might think yours are wrong. But, it doesn't really matter what you think of my opinion or what I think of your opinion. (That's my opinion on the subject of opinions.)

18. Bricks--Do you want to build something? Grab a brick. Then grab a few more. You can build just about anything with bricks. (Also, cheese can come in the form of a brick. But I wouldn't suggest building anything with cheese bricks. Except maybe dinner.)

19. Chiropractors--It's good to know that someone's always got your back.

20. Basketball--The great thing about basketball is that you don't actually need a basketball. All you need is a wadded up piece of paper and a garbage can!

21. Dancing--From an elaborate tango to a simple toe tap, dancing can make us all feel better. Don't let anybody tell you you can't dance! (Even if you dance like Elaine Benes.)

22. Kevin Bacon--Have you ever seen Footloose? This man is what makes America great!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

2016 World Series vs. Presidential Election

It was a big day for America. Early November, and the two sides were at the end of a long, hard-fought campaign. Both sides wanted to win. Both sides thought they should win. Supporters of each opponent wondered if they would be able to go on if their champion didn't win. No one knew what would happen. This was the final day. After months of planning, strategy and hard work, it would all be decided before the end of the night. (Probably.)

And then, the Cubs won the World Series.

(What, did you think I was talking about the election? If so, you (1) are a victim of my "incredible" writing skills, and/or (2) didn't pay attention to the title of this piece.)

As you can see, there are many similarities between this year's World Series and this year's presidential election. They both came to a close in early November. They both featured a long, hard campaign from two opposing sides who desperately wanted to win. They both had a plenty of foul balls and strikeouts.

But, despite the similarities, if you look closely you'll find that the World Series and the election are about as opposite as two events can be. The Chicago Cubs hadn't won a World Series championship for 108 years. 108 years! That's so long ago that it was before women had the right to vote; before beer was sold in cans; and before any of the Kardashians took their first selfie! With the exception of a few bitter White Sox fans, the vast majority of people who cared about such things wanted the Cubs to win the World Series. Even people who didn't care at all about baseball wanted the Cubs to win. It was something on which even Yankee and Red Sox fans could agree!

A long, long time ago.
Meanwhile, the Cubs opponent in the World Series were the Cleveland Indians, who hadn't won a world series in 68 years. 68 years! That's so long ago it was before the first McDonald's opened; before the polio vaccine was developed; and, yes, also before any of the Kardashians took their first selfie! If it weren't for the fact that they were playing the Cubs, the vast majority of people who cared about such things would have wanted Cleveland to win.

It was a dream match-up between the two teams most impartial Americans wanted to see win the World Series. It didn't really matter who won, because both teams were well-deserving and well-liked.

In contrast, the presidential election features the two least-liked candidates in the history of America.

Has there ever been a Republican presidential candidate more hated by Democrats than Donald Trump? I doubt it. Even within his own party, there is a significant percentage who will not vote for him. Many others merely tolerate him, and will vote for him only because their hatred of Hillary Clinton is even stronger than their disdain for him.

Meanwhile, has there ever been a Democratic presidential candidate more hated by Republicans than Hillary Clinton? I doubt it. Even within her own party there is a significant percentage who merely tolerate her and will vote for her only because their hatred of Donald Trump is stronger than their mistrust of her.

Yes, there are a large number of people who think Donald Trump is just what America needs as president because he isn't a career politician, will change things up, and "tells it like it is." And yes, there are a large number of people who think Hillary Clinton is one of the most "well-qualified people to ever run for president." But, I dare say there is no sane person in America who would say, "It doesn't matter who wins, because I think they would both do an excellent job as president."

With the World Series, it didn't really matter who won. Either way it was going to be a heart-warming story for millions of people. With the presidential election, regardless of who wins it's going to be a horror story for millions and millions of people.

Let's hope we never have to go through this again.

A rematch between the Cubs and Indians next year would be pretty fun. A rematch between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in four years could possibly be the worst thing that has ever happened on this planet. (Yes, even worse than the Kardashians taking selfies.)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Daddy Goes On a Field Trip

I wasn't expecting to win the lottery. But, I did.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the Power Ball, or even one of those scratch and sniff tickets. (I could use the money.) Instead, it was the lottery to get to go on a field trip with over a hundred screaming 3rd graders.

My daughter's class was going on a field trip, but only two parents were going to be allowed to go on the bus with the kids. So, all parents who wanted to go had to put their name in the lottery in hopes of getting picked. I wasn't too worried about it. No one ever expects to win the lottery. But I did. Hooray?

When I showed up on the day of the field trip, the first thing I thought was, "Wow! That's a lot of kids!" It's one thing to go into the classroom for parent/teacher conference, where it's just you, your kid, the teacher, and a bunch of empty desks. It's another thing altogether when all those "empty" desks are full of wiggly, squirmy kids! (I don't know how those school teachers manage to wrangle all those kids for the entire day. I really don't.)

I checked in with the teacher, Mrs. K. She gave me a list of nine names. Mrs. K., the other mom/lottery winner, and I each had nine or ten kids that we were in charge of keeping track of. Mrs. K. made sure she let us know that she kept the most difficult kids for herself. I was relieved; all of the kids I was in charge of were well-behaved.

Or were they?

I quickly discovered that one of my kids was a smart-aleck. Although his name was Boyd, he decided to tell me his name was Hank. ("Boyd" is not his real name, and "Hank" is not his real-fake name. I have changed the names in order to protect the innocent.)(Well, no, actually it's to protect the guilty. And Boyd was certainly guilty of giving me a false name.)

It had been many years since I had been on a school bus. I attempted to sit next to my daughter and her best friend, but was told by the bus driver that I couldn't. Apparently the rule is up to three kids per seat, or two adults per seat, but not two kids and one adult. So, I got a seat to myself behind my daughter.

The kids on the bus go , "Aaaahhhh!!!"

There were two buses, and four total classes of 3rd graders, so there were two classes per bus. As soon as the bus started to move I realized that this was the first time in some thirty years that I had been in a moving vehicle without being buckled in by a seat belt. It's amazing that with all the preaching we do about seat belt safety and with all the concern we have for the welfare of our children, that when we need to transport a bunch of them at once we just throw them all together in a giant sardine can and say "whatever."

We got to the theatre and saw a play. It was good, and all of the kids were well-behaved. We then went to a park so the kids could eat their sack lunches. Most of the kids scarfed down their lunches and ran to the playground. My daughter and her best friend ate slowly and were just heading toward the playground when the whistle blew for all the kids to come back and get on the buses. Almost all of the kids came running. Amongst the hubbub of the kids rushing to their seats on the bus, I tried to do a head count of my group of nine. One was missing. Of course it was Boyd/Hank! While all of the other kids came running for the bus when told to do so, Boyd/Hank thought he'd stay at the playground and play while it was suddenly not as crowded. (Mrs. K. had to go fetch him.)

The last leg of the field trip was some fun at the roller rink, where I found out that 100 screaming kids get even louder when you put wheels on their feet. And, it was amazing how many kids who didn't know me still came up to me to help them get their skates on or help them tie their shoes.

Ain't no party like a 3rd Grade roller-dance party!

For the trip home, I was one of the last ones on the bus because I had to make sure my group of nine was all there. (No trouble from Hank/Boyd this time, thankfully!) But, by the time I got on the bus, there were no empty seats left. I had to sit next to Jasper (not his real name,) one of my daughter's classmates. Once the bus was in motion, Jasper promptly fell asleep. I was a mean person and angled him away from me, toward the center of the bus, so he wasn't leaning on me and drooling on my arm. I felt kind of bad because his neck was twisted in a way that looked very uncomfortable, but he managed to sleep that way and I managed to avoid having a strange eight year-old cuddling up next to me.

When we got back to the school, I was completely exhausted. I really had no reason to be, all I had done all day was count to nine about three dozen times. As I came home and crashed on the sofa, I decided it'd be all right if I let someone else win the lottery next time.

And, I had a newfound respect for all elementary school teachers. Can you imagine winning that lottery every single day of the entire school year? They're the ones who deserve that Power Ball money!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

These Kids Today and Their Trunk-Or-Treats!

These kids today have it so easy.

Back in my day... (Yes, I'm pulling out a "back in my day." Ever since I turned forty-ten I feel strangely compelled to use a "back in my day" as often as possible.)

From "back in my day." I'm the Bugs Bunny in the middle. My brother was some cut-rate, green-faced Spider-Man. And my sister (on the left) was dressed as...either a gypsy or Barbara Bush?

(Where was I? Oh yes...) Back in my day, if you wanted to get a lot of candy on Halloween, you had to knock on a lot of doors. I grew up in a very small town. Every year at Halloween we would literally knock on every door in town. It gave us a sense of pride, it was good exercise, and it trained us for those days ten or twelve years later when we knock on doors as Mormon missionaries.

But, today's kids have it easy. Trunk-or-treats. They pull up to a parking lot, make the long, three-step walk from one car trunk to the next car trunk, and in ten minutes have a full bag of candy! They get no pride from canvassing the entire town, they get no exercise, and they get no door-knocking missionary training.

I can understand the appeal of the trunk-or-treat. It's quick, it's easy, and in less than a half an hour a lot of candy gets exchanged and you get to see all the other costumes.

There is one distinct disadvantage for adults: the headache. Yes, I mean a literal headache. You see, once you back up to a curb and open the trunk on the mini-van (and let's face it, we all have mini-vans,) the height of the open trunk is just right to whack your head against. We were the only family at our trunk-or-treat with our trunk closed, because after I had hit my head on it once and The Wife had hit her head on it twice, we were done with the trunk. We passed out our candy from the back bumper. While everyone else was trunk-or-treating we were bumper-treating. Not that the kids cared one way or the other.

Of course nowadays (yes, I'm using "nowadays," too) by the time Halloween rolls around the kids have already had a church party, a school party, a school parade, and probably a neighborhood party or two. They're too exhausted to walk the entire town and knock on all the doors. At some point Halloween went from being a one-night thing when kids walked around asking for candy into a two week long party/festival! (It's basically Mardi Gras with more candy and fewer beads.)

There are so many parties and/or events that you end up left with three choices: 1) Wear the same costume to all the events, despite how dirty/soiled/stinky the costume may be by the final event. 2) Wash the costume between every event, hoping that the frequent washings don't ruin or damage the costume at all. Or, C) Have a different costume for each separate party/event.

Maybe it's just as well that these kids today have the trunk-or-treats. After all of the parties and celebrations, I don't think they'd have the energy to knock on all the doors in town.