Tuesday, July 25, 2017

There Are No Raisins In My Blueberry Muffin

When I was a kid I didn't like raisins.

Really, what kid does like raisins? To most kids, raisins are just a disappointing impersonator of chocolate chips. You have a cookie, see a dark spot in it, and think, "Yay! Chocolate chips!" And then you take a bite and, "Oh, crap, that's just a raisin!" So, no, most kids don't really like raisins.

(Having said that, I don't know how true it is, because my kids happen to love raisins. They'll eat raisins by the handful if given the chance. I'm not sure if this is because their mother has trained them to eat healthy, or if my kids are just really weird. It's probably a little of both.)

Anyway, as a kid I developed such a hatred of raisins that I didn't want to be around them. I wanted absolutely nothing to do with them. I would shun them with the shunniest of shunnings.

So, one day my Mom gave me a muffin, and it was chock full of dark spots, and those dark spots were not chocolate chips. "Drat! Raisins! They must be shunned!" (That's not really how I talked as a kid.) (At least, not as far as I can remember.) So, what did I do? I picked those "raisins" out of my muffin and smooshed them into the rug in the middle of the living room floor. [I'm told by spellcheck that "smooshed" isn't a word. But, those "raisins" weren't "smushed" into the rug, and they weren't "smooched," either. They were smooshed. And the beauty of the English language is that if "smooshed" wasn't a word, it can be if it gets used often enough. Just like "interwebs" or "hipster."]

Well, it turns out those "raisins" weren't raisins after all. They were blueberries. It was the first time I had ever had a blueberry muffin, and I picked all of the blueberries out and smooshed them into the rug. Was it good thing to do? No. Was it a smart thing to do? No. Did I get in serious trouble? Yes. Do my brother and sister still tease me about smooshing blueberries into the rug? Yes. If I had it to do over again, would I? Maybe. (I really didn't like raisins!)

The only place this muffin is getting smooshed is in my face!

Since then, I've matured a bit. (Though it may be hard to tell sometimes.) I'm actually okay with raisins now. I don't really seek them out, but I will eat them on occasion, and I won't pick them out of things. (Although they do still get me very angry when they deceive me into thinking they are chocolate chips.)

And as far as blueberries go, I have a love/hate relationship with them. I love them in muffins, pancakes, and waffles. However, I don't like eating them plain. A blueberry inside of some kind of bready food is delicious, but I don't want a blueberry by itself.

But, even though I don't like plain blueberries, I've learned my lesson: I won't smoosh it into the rug.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Kids' Bathroom vs. The Wife's Bathroom

The other day I had the "privilege" of getting to use the kids' bathroom. It was an interesting experience, and it got me thinking: Would I rather share a bathroom with the kids or with The Wife? There are pros and cons to each.

Kids' Bathroom: I get to shower with an Elsa and Anna shower curtain!
The Wife's Bathroom: It's just a boring old nondescript shower curtain. Point: Kids

Remember, Anna is pronounced "Onn-uh" not "Ann-uh." If you get it wrong your kids will never let it go.

Kids' Bathroom: Older toilet that is shorter and has a much smaller seat and toilet bowl.
The Wife's Bathroom: We put in a new toilet a few years ago that is much taller, bigger, and more comfortable. Point: Wife

Kids' Bathroom: Unsightly amounts of used toothpaste left in the sink and all over the room.
The Wife's Bathroom: Lots and lots of hair left in the drain and all over the room. Point: Neither

Kids' Bathroom: No medicine cabinet.
The Wife's Bathroom: Large medicine cabinet for storing deodorant, toothpaste, ibuprofen, and assorted other things. Point: Wife

Kids' Bathroom: I get to use Star Wars 3in1 shampoo, conditioner, + body wash. (It's "Galactic Fresh!")
The Wife's Bathroom: It's either The Wife's shampoo, which has some French-sounding name, or my boring old Head and Shoulders. Point: Kids

That's great, but what I REALLY want is Chewbacca's shampoo!

Kids' Bathroom: Did I mention it's "Galactic Fresh?" (I've always wanted to smell like a droid.)
The Wife's Bathroom: The Wife's body wash smells nice, but I wouldn't call it "Galactic." Or I could get me some frosted Irish Spring! (It's magically delicious!) Point: Kids

It's also "Tear Free," because no one wants to see a droid cry.

Kids' Bathroom: If I make a mess around the toilet, I can blame the kids.
The Wife's Bathroom: If I make a mess around the toilet, the blame is pretty much stuck on me. Point: Kids

Kids' Bathroom: Kids often forget to flush the toilet.
The Wife's Bathroom: No surprises in the toilet. Point: Wife

Kids' Bathroom: Lots of strange, terrible, not very good smells.
The Wife's Bathroom: Some bad smells, but not nearly as often and not nearly as bad. Point: Wife

Kids' Bathroom: Smaller room, smaller tub.
The Wife's Bathroom: Larger room, larger tub. (Sometimes size does matter!) Point: Wife

Kids' Bathroom: Left on the counter: Uncapped Batman mouthwash, toothpaste stains, hair brushes, dirty washcloths, and assorted wrappers and garbage.
The Wife's Bathroom: Left on the counter: Various make-up and hair care products. Point: Neither

Seriously, is this thing a hair dryer or a photon cannon?

Kids' Bathroom
: Have to share it with four kids who sometimes act like unruly hooligans.
The Wife's Bathroom: Just one person to share it with, and she acts like an adult. Point: Wife

As you can see, it was a very tough battle, but it turns out I'd rather share a bathroom with my wife. (Hmmm...I wonder what she'd think about getting a Scooby-Doo shower curtain for our bathroom?)

Special thanks to my wonderful wife for giving me the idea for this blog, for allowing me to have some fun with her bathroom habits, and for actually being silly enough to agree to take a picture of me hiding behind the kids' Frozen shower curtain. She is The Bestest!!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Do You Really Want Your Wildest Dreams to Come True?

Do you want your wildest dreams to come true?

It sounds good, doesn't it? It's what Pedro promised everyone at Preston High when he ran for student body president in Napoleon Dynamite.

Vote for Pedro!

Who wouldn't want their wildest dreams to come true? It would literally be your dreams coming true! That'd be fantastic!

Or would it?

If you really think about your dreams, would you want any of them to come true? I'm not talking about daydreams or wishes, but actual dreams you have had when you were actually asleep. Do you really want those dreams to come true?

Do you want the dream where you go to work but have forgotten to wear your pants to come true? You're wandering around in your underwear for most of the day, and don't notice that you're not wearing pants until just before it's time to go home. Is that the dream you want to come true?

How about the dream where it's the last day of school and you have to go take a test for a class you signed up for but haven't been to all semester? And if you don't pass the class you won't be able to graduate. Is that the dream you want to come true?

What about the dream where you fall off of a cliff and you keep hoping that somehow, someway you'll learn how to fly or someone will save you before you hit the ground? Is that the dream you want to come true?

Or what about that dream when you are flying an airplane and it's exhilarating and wonderful...right up to the moment you remember that you have never flown an airplane before and now you have to land the plane safely but you have no idea how to do it? Is that the dream you want to come true?

Umm...no thanks!
I once had a dream that I was on a three-man relay race team with actor Abe Vigoda and my childhood neighbor Trav. Another friend of mine, Jim, was laughing at me and making fun of me because of how slow my relay team was going to be, because despite Trav's best efforts, I'm a pretty slow runner and I don't think Abe Vigoda is going to set any land speed records. I don't want that dream to come true. (Although I guess it would have been nice to meet Abe Vigoda.)

No, I think I'll just keep those wildest dreams right where they are: as dreams. I'm fine with reality.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Seven Servings of Vegetables a Day

I'm trying to eat healthier. I really am. (I've even cut back to fewer than three donuts a day!)

Apparently, one of the keys to eating healthy is having a balanced diet with just the right amount of food from each of the major food groups. I remember learning about the food groups when I was a kid, but a lot of the things they taught me as a kid have changed. (Such as, Pluto is no longer a planet, and there is no such thing as a brontosaurus. (Maybe.))

So, I can't remember what the food groups were when they were taught to me, and they've probably changed since way back then anyway. In my mind, the main food groups are:

1. Meat--beef, bacon, chicken, non-bacon pork, and maybe some fish.
2. Cheese--all of the cheeses: cheddar, Swiss, provolone, mozzarella, etc., plus butter and milk.
3. Wheat and grains--all of the breads and all of the noodles. (Donuts qualify as breads, right?) (Cinnamon rolls are definitely bread.)
4. Desserts--cakes, pies, cookies, donuts (they do double-duty), puddings, pastries, cobblers, and ice creams.
5. Fruits--bananas, oranges, apples, pears, peaches, and all forms of berries (except for bunny-berries. You don't want to eat those.)
6. Vegetables--lettuce, carrots, broccoli, green beans, cabbage, and anything else you might feed a rabbit or a hamster.

Unfortunately, while vegetables are number six on my list, professional healthy-eating people put them higher. Apparently they say a person should have six or seven servings of vegetables a day. How difficult this is depends on how exactly you define a "serving." In my mind, a serving is one unit of a vegetable. Let's look at this picture of some vegetables I ate the other day:

Sooooo many vegetables!!!

Here we see four "units" of carrot, one big pickle slice (it's hiding under the cheeseburger), and some lettuce. So, that's either six or seven servings of vegetables, depending on if you think that's enough lettuce to count as two servings or not. So, with one cheeseburger and four carrots, I've gotten my daily allotment of vegetables! Look at me, I'm a healthy eater!

However, there are some who would say I'm overestimating the size of a serving. They say that one baby carrot is not an entire serving of vegetables. They say that in order to get six or seven servings, I would have to eat this many vegetables:

And this is just for lunch. (You should see what dinner looks like!)

My guess is that for truly healthy eating, my daily vegetable consumption should be somewhere between what is shown in these two pictures. (I'm thinking if I tripled my cheeseburger/carrot intake I'd be closer to eating healthy, right? Maybe I could have two pickles per burger instead of just one.)

I know I should probably eat more vegetables. Even though I'm not a rabbit or a hamster, I know that vegetables are better for me than a lot of the other things I eat, and I need to get more servings of them every day.

(So, how many pieces of carrot cake would I have to eat in order to get my seven servings of vegetables today?)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fire Season, Fireworks Season, or Both?

It's July. Does that mean it's fire season, or fireworks season? The answer, of course, is both, and that can be a problem.

We wait until July, when all the weeds are dried out and everything is at peak flammability, and then we light the fuse and send exploding fire bombs up into the air! And, just in case it wasn't quite dry enough on the 4th of July, here in Utah we let things dry out for 20 more days and try it again! (The 24th of July is a holiday in Utah called Pioneer Day, and the pioneers were well known for hard work, handcarts, and extravagant firework displays.)

As Brigham Young used to say, "This is the place for fireworks!"

Why July? Wouldn't it make more sense to light up the sky when the ground is covered with snow on Valentine's Day or President's Day? How about Thanksgiving? Wouldn't fireworks go great with cranberry sauce? Maybe even St. Patrick's Day when everything is green? Nope, we insist on dry July.

Fortunately, the local fire departments work hard to keep everyone safe. Most of them have restrictions set up as to where fireworks can and cannot be discharged. The problem comes when Hank down the street ignores the warnings and lights off the $60 Walmart pack, or, worse yet, some of the shoot-em-up-in-the-air fireworks purchased semi-legally across the state line. (I think Brigham got his fireworks in Evanston, Wyoming, just like everyone else.)

Even if Hank doesn't set the neighborhood ablaze, we still have to deal with him setting off firecrackers at all hours of the night. I've never understood the appeal of firecrackers: Yippee, they make a loud noise! I could get the same result by going around and hitting random people on the thumb with a hammer, only the loud noises I would be creating would be more colorful.

And then there are sparklers. Sparklers are the "kid toy" of the fireworks set. We light them on fire, hand them to a kid, and say, "Here's a stick on fire. Feel free to wave it around wildly, just be sure not to light your clothes on fire with it. And keep it away from your sister's hair, okay? Oh, and while you're holding it, the flame will be inching ever so closer to burning your hand off. Have fun!"

Now, I may have given you the impression that I don't like fireworks. That's not true: I love a good PROFESSIONAL fireworks show. When people who KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING stage fireworks shows while working in conjunction with the local fire departments to keep everyone safe, I'm all for it. These professional firework shows are beautiful and fantastic! (I just wish the finale would last a little longer.)

This piece originally appeared on the front page of the July 2017 edition of the ServeDaily newspaper. It can be found online here. I tinkered with it and made a few changes before posting it here to my blog. Read them both and see if you can spot the differences.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Outlaw Drives a Mini-Van

I'm an outlaw. I almost broke the law today. (It was a pretty close call.)

I was driving into town to get an oil change, and I was in the mini-van all by myself. I was cruising along on a route that I've been on hundreds of times. And that's when I did it...I almost got into the carpool lane!

The HOV lane calls to me.

I love the carpool lane. I drive in the carpool lane whenever I can. It's great. It's less crowded. I don't have to worry about changing lanes. I can (usually) go at a pretty good rate of speed. And so, as I was zooming down the freeway I automatically drifted over toward the carpool lane. But, no one else was in my car to do any pooling.

I'm not used to driving by myself. I've got four kids. And a wife. I've also got a few other relatives and/or friends (yes, I do have friends!) who occasionally ride with me. It's pretty rare when I'm in the van by myself. So, I can almost always drive in the carpool lane without any problem.

Usually not a problem.

Sometimes I wonder if I should use the carpool lane if it's just me and the kids. I mean, none of them can drive, so it's not like I'm keeping another vehicle off of the road by having them ride with me. But, it says "2 or more persons" are required for carpool lane, and my kids, even if they can't drive, are definitely persons, despite their small size and the fact that they occasionally growl like animals.

Since I usually have five other people in the van with me, haven't I built up enough of an extra-rider surplus that would excuse a little jaunt into the carpool lane? I could get away with it, couldn't I? After all, I'm in a mini-van; who would pull over the driver of a mini-van for being in the carpool lane? How often is anyone actually in a mini-van by themselves? It's called the HOV lane. Did you know that HOV stands for "high occupancy vehicle?" And isn't a mini-van the epitome of a high occupancy vehicle, even if only one person is occupying it?

There were a lot of reasons and excuses why I could have driven in the carpool lane...but I just couldn't do it. I'm not a very good outlaw. Maybe some day I'll get rebellious enough to drive in the carpool lane by myself. And that could lead to crossing the double white lines. (You know, real criminal behavior.) And then...who knows?

(Heck, I'm just two or three steps away from robbing a bank!)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The President and the 8th Grader

So, the President of the United States of America, the so-called "Leader of the Free World," just posted a video of himself at a professional wrestling event tackling and punching a man whose face has been replaced by the logo of CNN, the cable news network.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The President of the United States of America posted a video that showed him punching a man in the face at a professional wrestling event. In the video the man's face has been superimposed by the logo for CNN. (It turns out the man whose face has been blotted out by the CNN logo is none other than professional wrestler owner/overlord Vince McMahon, so in President Trump's defense this is a very punchable man.)

Some people think this is appalling. Some people think this is funny. Some people think this is shocking. Some people find it hard to be shocked anymore.

Can the President of the United States of America post a juvenile video of  himself beating someone up at a professional wrestling match? Of course he can! This is America, and we have freedoms here! This is what our brave armed forces have fought for over the years! (Well, maybe not specifically this freedom, but freedoms in general.)

Should the President of the United States of America post a juvenile video of himself beating someone up at a professional wrestling match? I'm going to say probably not. I would like to think that the President's time would be better spent working with senators and congressmen to institute the policies he was elected to institute, or talking with his advisers to see how best he could serve the American people, or even playing golf. Spending time posting videos of yourself beating someone else up is something that should really be left to 8th grade kids.

And speaking of 8th grade behavior, the President of the United States of America also spends much of his time insulting people he doesn't like. He likes to call people names. He's like a 13 year-old bully who finds a person's biggest flaw and then chides them by calling them names based on that flaw.

Is it true that some of these people said bad things about him first? Yes. But, the President of the United States of America should be above taunting people and calling them names, no matter who started it.

Think about this: if you, your spouse, or your children got on President Trump's bad side, what would he call you? What would he call your wife? What would he call your children? Maybe, just maybe, it would be better if he didn't insult anyone at all, right?

There are a lot of people who dislike President Trump.There are a lot of people who support President Trump. Let's put the politics aside for a moment. Can't we all agree that the President of the United States of America shouldn't be behaving like an 8th grade bully?

I'm starting to worry that for his next trick he'll start giving people wedgies. (And no one wants to see Nancy Pelosi with a wedgie!)

Friday, June 30, 2017

Splish, Splash!

[WARNING: Here comes an old man rant!]

These kids today are so spoiled. Back when I was a kid if it was a hot, sunny day, do you know what we could do? Sweat. We could sweat. Maybe we could find some shade under a tree so we could sweat a little less. Or, if we were really lucky we might talk Mom into letting us drag a hose out onto the lawn, attach a sprinkler, and run through it.

Do kids today have to beg for a hose and a sprinkler? No, that's way too boring. They can just go to a splash pad! What's a splash pad, you ask? (If you're asking that, you're really old, have no kids or grandkids, and really need to get out more.) A splash pad is a park that contains any combination of several fountains, streams, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, showers, and sprinklers for kids to run through on hot, sunny days.

Splishing! Splashing!

The splash pads they have for kids today are amazing, and they're getting more intricate with each passing day. It used to be a splash pad was just a few fountains spewing water up into the air, but now they're even more elaborate with things like a "lazy river," where you don't even have to walk, you just sit and float through all the splashing. Or there are pirate ship themed splash pads, or submarines, or giant slip-and-slide roller coasters. It's getting to the point that if someone discovered the lost city of Atlantis, most people would just think it was a super-fancy new splash pad.

Sometimes it's as if the water has a mind of its own.

These days there's a splash pad in almost every town. (Even Chubbuck!) All you have to do is show up to a park with a splash pad and unleash your kids on it. Of course, they'll be fighting over the splash area with hundreds of other kids. And you'll need to be sure you packed some towels, and some sunscreen, and some water bottles for hydration because you can't actually drink any of the splash pad water because it gets recycled several times a day and the water you want to drink is probably the exact same water you saw that one kid try to use as a bidet an hour earlier, so drinking it wouldn't be in your best interest.

DON'T drink the water!

So, yes, splash pads can be fun, but no, you shouldn't drink the water.

Back when I was a kid, we had no qualms about unhooking the sprinkler and drinking straight from the hose. Sometimes we'd even put our mouth right on the actual end of the hose. Usually the water would be a little warm, but we didn't mind because it was water. And none of us died from it. (That I know of.)

And when we were done drinking from the hose and running through the sprinkler, we'd go find the shade from a big tree and sweat a little more.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Not My Circus, Not My Clowns

When you have four kids, sometimes it seems that life is one big circus.

And then we took our family to an actual circus, and I've got to admit: there are some similarities. At times we have a house full of clowns, acrobats, jugglers, daredevils, and contortionists, and occasionally we even have animals who poop where and when they shouldn't.

The kids have been asking questions lately about circuses, so when The Wife saw that a circus was coming to town, she thought it would be fun to take the kids to see it. They were surprised and excited.

When we arrived, it looked like there were a lot of fun things for the kids to do. There was a bouncy house, a bouncy slide, camel rides, pony rides, face painting, and elephant rides. Unfortunately, every one of those things cost an additional $6 per event, per child, except for the elephant rides, which were $18 per child per ride.

Lots of fun things to do...but nobody is doing them because everyone was low on cash.
Maybe it's just because people in Utah are cheapskates frugal, but I didn't see anybody paying extra for any of the activities until they brought out the elephant. The elephant was a big enough attraction (literally and figuratively) to pry open a few wallets.

It's no coincidence the elephants are near the ATM machine.
So, they would cram four or five kids on top of the elephant, at $18 each, for a ride that lasted about one minute. To quote my mother-in-law, "The elephant makes more in an hour that teachers make in a week!" (Yes, my mother-in-law is a school teacher.)

But, it wasn't just the extra attractions that were expensive. The food and beverage was, too. The couple in front of us bought two sno-cone drinks that came in a fancy light-up-bottomed cup. The drinks were $12 each! Yikes!

With as valuable as those drinks are, this guy should probably have his own security detail.
Needless to say, there weren't very long lines at the concession stands.

Not a creature was stirring....
As we waited, I was beginning to wonder if my son's favorite part of his first trip to the circus would be playing with the seat in front of him.

It folds! It flaps! It doesn't cost extra!
But then the actual performance started, and I soon forgot all about my pre-show grumpiness.

I wonder how many of these performers actually ran away to join the circus?
There were acrobats, jugglers, contortionists, stunt drivers, camels, elephants, and clowns. My kids especially liked the clowns.

You can't have clowns without a clown car!
The performers were all very talented. And while there was nothing that I would call a "death-defying" stunt, there were several "pain-defying" stunts, such as when the motorcycle flung the acrobat through the high hoop.

You will believe a man can fly! (Until he hits the net.)
The big draw, of course, was the elephants. And they didn't disappoint. They were well-trained, even if they weren't potty trained. (Yes, one lucky circus employee gets to hold a bucket to the elephant's butt when the elephants starts pooping.)

I decided to go with a photo of the elephants performing, not pooping.
All in all, it was a pretty fun experience. Now my kids can say they've been to the circus, and so can I! (Despite my advancing age, it was my first time at the circus.)

I had such a good time, but now it's back to my regular scheduled life with the four kids, which is my circus, and they are my clowns.

*I would like to thank my mother-in-law for several of these photos.

Friday, June 23, 2017

7 People You Don't Want to be Behind at the Drive-Thru

The fast food drive-thru is a wonderful thing. It is a quick and convenient way to get a good, healthy meal. (Okay, so maybe "healthy" isn't the right word there. Let's go with "edible" instead.)

Unfortunately, sometimes other people also want to use the drive-thru, and these people make the experience a little less quick and convenient. Here are seven people you don't want to get behind at the drive-thru:

1. The Undecided Orderer--These people can't decide what they want. They might consult with everybody in their car. They might take ten minutes to look over the menu. They might ask the drive-thru person for recommendations. They will annoy you.

2. The Line Crowder--When there are two drive-thru lanes, some people have a hard time figuring when to merge. They will try to fit their car into the smallest of openings to get ahead of you if they can.

3. The Not Pull Forwarder--You are pulled up as far as you can, but still two feet away from being able to place your order, even though the car in front of you has a twelve foot cushion in front of him. Just pull a little bit forward, dude!

There's always that one guy....

4. The Surprised Payer--These people get to the first window and seem surprised when someone asks for money. (Apparently they thought the food they just ordered was going to be free.) They have to dig for their wallet or purse and fumble around for their cash or credit card.

5. The Exact Changer--These people have some of their money ready when they get to the window, but not all of it. When they hear the total they feel the need to get the exact change, so they will dig through their coins to find the perfect combination of pennies, nickels, and dimes to finish the transaction.

6. The Re-Orderer--These people get to the window and decide what they ordered wasn't enough. They need more. ("Wait! I forgot to order fries!") And so they order more, making you and everyone else in line wait that much longer.

7. The Order Checker--I can understand checking your bag to make sure you got all your food. (We've all driven away with missing burgers, fries, or nuggets.) But, be quick about it. There is no need to count every pickle before pulling away from the window.

If we all try hard, we can avoid being one of these seven people and enjoy quick, convenient, healthy---um, edible food!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Finding a Go-To-Sleep Show

The Wife and I have developed the habit of going to sleep with the television on. We do this for three reasons:

1. It acts as a nightlight so I can see when I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.
2. It drowns out the screaming of the kids in the other room.
And 3. Sometimes we just like to watch a show together.

For these things, it works pretty well. However, there is one main difficulty in watching as you go to bed. You have to find a show interesting enough that you want to watch it, yet boring enough that you can fall asleep while it's on.

Actually, this isn't much of a problem for The Wife. She can fall asleep to almost any show. The exception is sporting events. No matter how low I turn the volume, she complains that the commentators are yelling at her and not saying anything useful. (She has a point.) This is too bad, because baseball, soccer, and especially golf are all things I can somewhat enjoy and easily fall asleep to.

While she says no to sports, I protest against the "real life" shows she likes, such as Sister Wives, Little People In a World of Tall People, and That One Family with the 23 Kids. I can't stand those kind of shows.

This leaves us mostly with scripted shows to choose from. Over the years we've tried a few, with varying degrees of success. We prefer to find shows that have ended their run, so we don't feel obligated to continue to follow a show once we've gotten caught up on it. The biggest problem is that I get sucked into the story and end up watching two, three, or four episodes before finally falling asleep.

Remember when there were just three channels to choose from?

We've tried some shows that one of us liked better than the other. My wife watched Party of Five, but it was too soap opera-ish for me. (Private Practice was even worse, but I somehow got sucked into it anyway. I've never seen a show where every single main character has slept with so many of the other main characters.)

Meanwhile, I tried to watch The Incredible Hulk, but The Wife would occasionally be bothered by either the many explosions or the bad 1970's clothing worn by the actors. I also watched all seven seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but I could tell she wasn't very interested so I tried to watch it mostly after she was already asleep.

We have found a few shows we both liked. We enjoyed Veronica Mars, Smallville, Life, and Numb3rs. Lois and Clark was one of our first go-to shows, mostly because one of us thought Dean Cain was very attractive, and the other of us felt the same about Teri Hatcher.

Recently we've both enjoyed Leverage (my choice) and Drop Dead Diva (her choice), two silly shows in which the good guys usually save the day.

There haven't been many sitcoms on our watchlist, because a one hour show is generally more conducive to falling asleep. But, I've been surprised by how good of a go-to-sleep show the sitcom Reba is: amusing enough to watch, yet formulaic enough to send you off to slumberland.

Of course, no show will be the perfect sleep show for everyone. Some might like to go to bed watching The Walking Dead, while others would rather go for Full House. People are different, and each person will prefer different things. But, at least we have choices. Back when I was a kid the only thing you could watch at two in the morning was static.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Parenting 101


It's when the baby sleeps for more continuous hours between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM than he did at any point between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM.

It's when your oldest child gets upset at you for falling asleep while she's talking to you about picking out a hat for Dr. Seuss days, then trying to explain to her that you fell asleep not because her story was boring, but because the baby waking up seven times during the night made it so you got less than three hours of sleep the night before.

It's knowing where a binky is at all times.

It's when you ask yourself the question, "How much poop is too much poop in the bathtub?" (The answer, of course, is "any.") (But that doesn't mean you won't be tempted to just finish bathing the baby before draining all the water and cleaning out the tub.)

It's when you try to do your two year-old's hair, but she insists on having a comb and doing it herself, so you have to comb her hair while she is combing her hair, which means re-combing parts that she has already combed, and re-re-combing spots that you have already combed but she has uncombed.

It's when you don't notice the syrup stain from breakfast on your son's face until after he has returned from a full day at school.

It's when you're wearing your favorite shirt and look down and realize that some substance that oozed from your child has created a large, very noticeable stain that you may or may not be able to get out.

It's when you've spent weeks picking out and coordinating outfits for a family picture, and just as you are getting everyone posed you notice that the baby has pooped through the diaper.

Oops! We might have to change those clothes.

It's when you're at a national fast food chain and need to change a baby's diaper, but there isn't a diaper changing table in either restroom, so you end up changing the diaper on the seat of the booth you're eating at.

It's when, after the one minute walk to your car from the booth at the national fast food restaurant where you just changed your baby's diaper, you discover that your baby has pooped again and you have to change her on the driver's seat.

It's when you listen to the same two songs practiced on the piano approximately 1,397 times, then get dressed up to hear them one more time at a piano recital.

It's when you're having an awkward conversation through a bathroom stall at a crowded public restroom, trying to encourage your four year-old to finish on the toilet and not forget any of the steps he learned while potty training.

It's parenting. It's worth it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Unwritten Rules of Eating at McDonald's

Sometimes the call of the Golden Arches is too strong to ignore. We've all fallen for it, whether it be because we're desperately hungry, don't have enough money to go anywhere else, longing for the comfortable familiarity of that boot-shaped McNugget, it's the only place open at 2:00 AM, or we foolishly told the kids we'd go wherever they chose.

McDonald's is ubiquitous. McDonald's is inevitable. McDonald's is inescapable. You will eat at McDonald's again.

And the next time you do go there, it's best to keep in mind the Unwritten Rules of Eating at McDonald's:

*If you check your bag at the drive-thru, it will always be correct, although you'll annoy the car behind you; if you don't check your bag before pulling away, something will be wrong or missing. (At the very least they'll have forgotten to give you napkins.)

*Don't fall for the Happy Meal trap. Just buy the kids stuff off of the dollar menu, because it's not worth the extra two dollars you'll pay for a Happy Meal just to get some 12 cent toy you'll end up stepping on and throwing away in four days anyway.

Not only are you paying extra for the Happy Meal toy, you're also paying extra for the box. (Creepy!)

*If you have a chicken (or fish) sandwich and a hamburger, always eat the chicken (or fish) sandwich first, because a cold hamburger tastes better than a cold chicken (or fish) sandwich.

*If you are in a big hurry, do not order the Filet O Fish.

*If you order your drink with no ice, but it comes with ice anyway, just deal with it. (If you send it back and ask them to fix it, the chance of someone spitting in your drink more than doubles.)

*The "bonus" fries at the bottom of your drive-thru bag are always the best ones.

Don't get too friendly with the clown. (I don't trust him.)
*Always grab more napkins than you think you'll need, because you will need more than you think.

*Don't bother with whatever limited-edition "gourmet" burger they're pushing. If you wanted something "gourmet," you certainly wouldn't be at McDonald's in the first place.

*Do you know why there's a warning saying that the apple pie filling is hot? Because it's hot, you moron! It's hotter than the molten lava of an erupting volcano!

*Whatever you do, do NOT take a bite of that McRib!!!

Thanks for the warning!

*Don't go up into the PlayPlace to retrieve your child. You do not want to be the adult who gets stuck up in the PlayPlace. Besides, they will come down on their own.... Eventually.... If you wait long enough.... Just be patient....Any time now.... Don't make me come up there and get you!!!

Friday, June 9, 2017

I Am NOT Mr. Mom!

First things first: I am not Mr. Mom. I'm a stay-at-home dad. (Yes, there is a difference.)

Having said that, if anyone calls me "Mr. Mom," I'm not going to get all upset or offended by it. (One of the biggest problems in the world today is that people get offended too easily, and if that statement offends you, I don't really care.) While I'm not very fond of the term "Mr. Mom," I can certainly understand why people use it. Heck, I've used it myself. It's a quick, two-word shorthand for my current employment situation.

I mean, which would you say, "I'm a Mr. Mom," or, "I quit my truck driving job to be a writer, and since my wife is a full-time school teacher I end up doing a lot of the day-to-day household chores like the dishes, the laundry, and tending, bathing, and feeding the babies?" Depending on who I'm talking to, it's so much quicker and easier to just say, "I'm a Mr. Mom," so that's what I do, even though I don't like it.

I have a spatula (and I'm not afraid to use it!)

Why don't I like the term "Mr. Mom?" There are certain sexist connotations to it. For one thing, it assumes the many things involved in raising children are all women's work. You know, stuff only a "Mom" does. And then when you put the "Mr." in front of the Mom, it implies that, since this is a guy doing all of this women's work, it's not going to be done as well. And yes, my wife is much better at "Momming" than I am, but that's okay because I'm not the Mom, I'm the Dad. (A Dad who happens to stay at home.)

We don't call a woman who works full-time to support the family a "Mrs. Dad," do we? So why should we use "Mr. Mom" for a stay-at-home dad?

I'll be honest, when I first became a stay-at-home dad, I had no idea how much work it would involve or how much time it would take. I thought I'd be able to spend most of my 9:00-to-5:00 time writing, with an occasional diaper change and/or bottle feeding sprinkled in throughout the day. I was wrong. (Oh, so wrong!) Watching two babies under three years old is something that demands my constant attention. And if I am able to grab a free moment when the babies are eating/napping/playing with toys by themselves, I'm more likely to collapse from exhaustion than actually write.

Sometimes the kids even "help" me write!

But, it's not always just poopy diapers and runny noses (even though it may seem that way at times.) Being a stay-at-home dad means I'm also there for the smiles and the giggles. I'm there to sing songs and dance. I'm there to help them learn their colors, and their letters, and how to count. (Which is why, for several weeks, my daughter thought the color green was called "Hulk-smash.") Yes, it's a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun.

I'm not sure how much longer I can afford to be a stay-at-home dad. Finances may dictate that I go back into the work force fairly soon. But if that happens, I'll do so with a new respect for all the work that goes into taking care of small children. And I'll always appreciate my time as Mr. Mom. (Even though I'm not Mr. Mom.)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"I'm Bored"

"I'm bored."

School's out and summer is here, so you know what that means: the kids are going to say, "I'm bored." Any good parent will have an answer ready for that statement. And, even a mediocre parent like me has a few ideas of what to say. Here are a few of them:

"I'm bored." "Well, I guess we'll have to find some work for you to do."

"I'm bored." "Have you finished your chores?"

"I'm bored." "Why don't you go read a book?"

"I'm bored." "Why don't you go write a book?"

"I'm bored." "Maybe you could count how many tiles there are on the kitchen floor."

"I'm bored." "Yay! Nap time! I love nap time!"

"I'm bored." "Okay. Perhaps now would be a good time to learn how to operate the lawn mower."

"I'm bored." "Have you tried twiddling your thumbs?"

"I'm bored." "Don't you have toys to play with? I know your mother and I have spent a lot of money over the years on toys. I guess they weren't very good toys. Maybe we should gather all of your toys up and give them away?"

"I'm bored." "Go stare into an electronical device. It seems to appease everyone else."

"I'm bored." "Well, apparently we need to find you more chores."

"I'm bored." "Do you have an imagination? Use it."

"I'm bored." "Hi, Bored, I'm Dad." (Honestly, if you give them this answer every time they say "I'm bored," they will eventually stop saying it.) (I guess kids just don't appreciate a good dad joke.)

Friday, June 2, 2017

7 Ways "Dinner for Two" is Different than "Dinner with the Kids"

My wife and I went out to dinner the other night. Just the two of us. With no kids. (It was very strange.)

It didn't take long to see that going out to dinner as two adults is much, much different than going out to dinner as two adults with four kids. Here are some of those differences:

1. Get seated quicker--We entered the restaurant in the middle of prime dinner time. Usually when asked, "How many in your party?" we'll say we need a table for six (or something similar.) Often we'll be with my wife's sister and her family, so we have to ask for a table for ten. My mother-in-law and father-in-law frequently join us, too, making us request a table for 12. And then, if my wife's other sister is also there, it becomes a table for 17. (Not many restaurants have a table for 17.)

When we tell them how many of us there are, they almost always say, "It'll be a 40 minute wait." Sometimes the wait is longer, but it's hardly ever shorter.

We're so used to having to wait to be seated that as we approached the hostess, my wife asked, "How long of a wait is it for a table for two?" The hostess quickly replied, "We can seat you right now." We were flabbergasted and stunned. No waiting! You've got to be kidding me!!!

A man, a woman, and a waiter. (That is all.)

2. No high chairs--When we sat down we didn't have to worry about where to put the high chair(s). We didn't have to track down where they were and wonder if someone from the restaurant would get them for us or if we had to get them ourselves. We didn't have to check to see if the buckles worked, or if we needed to wipe them down.

3. No crayons at the table--We didn't have to look at a kid menu to figure out if they call them chicken nuggets, chicken tenders, chicken fingers, or chicken chunkaroos. We didn't have to decide whether or not to let our kid beat us at tic-tac-toe. And we didn't have to take an extra 45 seconds to find that one hard-to-find word that is in the word search puzzle backwards diagonally.

4. No potty breaks--We didn't have to worry about having to leave the table in order to take a kid to the restroom. There was no concern as to if the bathroom had a diaper changing table or not.

5. We could eat whatever we wanted--We didn't have to worry about the kid with the nut allergy. We didn't have to worry about sharing any of our dessert.

6. No guilt about the mess--We didn't feel the need to leave a bigger tip because we felt guilty for all of the stuff on the floor beneath the high chair.

7. Adult conversation--There was absolutely no talk of diapers, Pokemon, boogers, or Moana.

Yes, we had a wonderful dinner, just the two of us! But, next time we'll probably bring the kids with us (because sometimes I just feel the need to draw on the menu with a crayon.)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Seeing Old Friends on Memorial Day

I visited some old friends this weekend. I hadn't seen some of them for many years. I talked to some of them. I said, "hi" to some, "thanks" to others, and had some personal messages for a few more.

None of them said anything back to me.

I spent the first 18 years of my life in the small farming town of Arimo, Idaho (population: not much.) I moved away over 30 years ago, but still think of it as home, even though I don't get back there very often. (I'm lucky if I pass through town once a year anymore.)

This past weekend was Memorial Day, and I made the trip to Arimo. I drove down two or three streets (literally half of the town) then stopped at the cemetery. It was Saturday, so not many of the graves had flowers on them yet. But, I was surprised to see about twenty or thirty people out walking around. (That's about as big of a gathering of people as you're going to find in Arimo, aside from church meetings and the 4th of July parade.)

And then, I started seeing the people I used to know. There was Jimmy, my former scout leader, who was a great example, and taught me so much more than just merit badges. (He's also the one who said, "For the love of ketchup!" when he found out some of my friends ended up getting sunburned butts when they tried to get a full-body tan while camping in the mountains.)

His wife Helen was with him. She was my second grade teacher, and helped give this shy, nerdy kid a sense of confidence, something I would definitely need in life to battle all of my insecurities.

Then I saw Ken and Violet, the parents of one of my best friends. I don't think I've ever known a man as honest, kind, hard-working, and humble as Ken.

Loyal was there. He was my bishop and then stake president (two influential positions of local leadership in the Mormon church) during my teenage years. His love and concern for me and my friends was always very evident.

I saw my friend's brother Jeff. He left town when I was pretty little, so I never got to know him very well. Everyone was very sad when he went away. That same friend's grandparents, Heber and Blanche, were there, too. They taught me that I really shouldn't name any of my kids "Heber" or "Blanche."

My grandparents were there, as well. My grandpa, Jim, passed along a lot of nuggets of wisdom to me. And when I was a kid my Grandma Kathryn was probably my favorite person in the world. (She gave me cookies and milk every afternoon at 4:00 PM!)

My son saying hello to my Dad.
And, of course, my Dad was there. He was the main reason I came back to Arimo.

Yes, it's gotten to the point where I know more people in the cemetery than I do people alive in my hometown. (I did see another friend's dad, Dale. He was alive and out in front of his house. I waved to him on my way to see my Dad.)

I was glad I got a chance to see so many of my old friends. These were the people who taught me, influenced me, and helped me become who I am today. These are the people who loved me, and showed me by their example how I should live.

I only hope I can live up to their legacy.

Friday, May 26, 2017

First Day vs. Last Day (of School)

On the First Day of School the kids are wearing their brand-new, never-before-been-worn, bright and colorful school clothes.

On the Last Day of School they look like they are auditioning for the cast of Newsies, wearing dirty, grungy clothes with holes in the knees, and pants three inches too short.

On the First Day of School the kids take lunches that are carefully packed with specially prepared and selected items from each of the food groups, with fruits, vegetables, grains all neatly packaged in a colorful new lunch container.

On the Last Day of School they are lucky to get the crumbly remains from the bottom of a bag of goldfish crackers.

On the First Day of School all the kids get their hair styled by their Mom (or their aunt, the professional hair stylist) so they look perfect.

On the Last Day of School the kids may or may not comb their own hair. (Or worse yet, their Dad does it.)

On the First Day of School the kids get to the bus stop at least ten minutes early, because you want to make sure they are on time for the bus.

On the Last Day of School the kids don't leave the house until they see the bus pulling around the corner.

"The bus is here. Maybe you should think about getting ready."

On the First Day of School there are 64 brand new crayons in that 64-count box of crayons.

On the Last Day of School there are 64 pieces of crayon in that 64-count box of crayons, including 31 whole crayons (seven of which, for some reason, are "burnt sienna,") and 33 partial crayons that are in halves, thirds, fourths, and even eighths (four of which are also "burnt sienna.")

On the First Day of School the kids take their brand new lunchbox in their brand new backpack.

On the Last Day of School they are on their third lunchbox and second backpack because the original ones have been lost and/or stolen and/or broken.

On the First Day of School the kids pose for photographs which their proud parents post on Facebook with captions like, "Little Jimmy's first day of kindergarten!" or "I can't believe Jenny is starting 5th grade!"

On the Last Day of School absolutely no one wants photographic evidence of what your kids look like (except for maybe the campus police.)

On the First Day of School everyone is excited (and exhausted) because they've been waiting for months for this day to arrive.

On the Last Day of School everyone is excited (and exhausted) because they've been waiting for months for this day to arrive.

On the First Day of School parents cry (because they are going to miss their kids so much!)

On the Last Day of School parents cry (because their kids are going to be home all summer long!)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Keep Your Pink Eye to Yourself

I want my daughter to be selfish.

Usually we want our children to be giving and share with others. Not today. My nine year-old girl has pink eye. (It was a gift from one of her classmates at school.) And so we've spent the last several days trying to make my daughter as selfish as we possibly can, because this is one thing we really don't want her to share with her siblings.

If you've ever had pink eye, or been around someone who has, you know that it's not much fun. (Pink eye is also known as conjunctivitis by people who feel the need to use big words to describe everything.) The whites of your eyes turn very pink (or even red) and stuff oozes out of your eyes.

One of the worst things about pink eye is that it is very contagious. This means a lot of hand washing, a lot of towel washing, and a lot of yelling, "Don't-touch-that-thing-that-one-of-the-other-kids-might-touch-because-we-really-really-really-don't-want-any-of-the-other-kids-to-get-this!"

I didn't realize how many things in the house a nine year-old girl feels the need to touch until we were trying to get her to not touch anything. Doorknobs; handrails; toilet handles; faucets; baby toys. Yes, baby toys. It is confounding just how often a nine year-old girl feels the need to touch baby toys! If she comes close to any baby toy, she will touch it. And if she isn't anywhere near a baby toy, she will feel compelled to go out of her way to get to the baby toy so she can touch it, conjunctivitis-izing everything!

She's not doing it on purpose; it's just her natural way of walking through life, touching everything as she goes.

After a couple of days of training (which mostly consisted of yelling at her) she's gotten to where she doesn't touch quite so many things.

But then, she figured how to use it to her advantage. She started treating us like her servants. She'd say things like, "Daddy, could you get me a glass of milk? I'd get it myself, but I really shouldn't be touching the fridge or the milk carton." Or, "Could you make me some toast? I don't want to touch the bread or the toaster. Oh, and could you put butter and cinnamon sugar on it for me?" Or, "Be a dear and go fetch my shoes for me."

I reached the tipping point when I asked her to do her chores and she said, "But Dad, I can't touch the broom because I don't want the next person to use it to get pink eye from me."

I replied, "Don't worry, I'll make sure that no one else will have to touch the broom, because you'll be doing all the sweeping! Get to work, Cinderella."

We're not out of the woods yet, but so far she has managed to be selfish enough not to share her pink eye with any of her siblings. I just hope that when this is all over we'll be able to unselfish-ize her again.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Solving the Trade Deficit with China (One Pair of Sunglasses at a Time)

If you're one of my regular readers (and if you aren't, you should be!) you know that this is generally not the place to go for an in-depth analysis of the global economy. If you want a detailed examination of the United States of America's trade deficit with China, I would say you should look somewhere else.


That's right, today we are going to talk about our country's trade deficit with Republic of China. I know, I know, that's a pretty strange topic coming from a guy who usually writes about poo(h), farts, and questionable seafood. But, here we are.

It started when Thing 2 (my seven year-old son) was given a pair of sunglasses in his Easter basket by his mother the Easter Bunny. They were red, white, and blue with a design that looks about as similar to the American flag as is possible for a pair of sunglasses.

Being a patriotic, red-blooded, American boy, he loved the sunglasses and wore them everywhere he went for the next couple of days. He and the glasses were inseparable. And then, one day, he noticed some writing on one of the legs of the glasses. It said, "Made In China."

"That's weird," he said. "Why would someone in China make a pair of glasses with the American flag on it?" I could tell it was something that bothered him.

My son asked, "How do the Chinese even know what the American flag looks like?"

A couple of days later when his Grammy was over for a visit, he asked, totally out of the blue, "What does the flag of China look like?" Grammy pulled up an image of the flag for him on the internet. He looked at it intently.

Then he asked, "What do the stars stand for?" This got Grammy and I both looking at our smart phones to find the answer. (The large star stands for the Communist Party, while the four smaller stars symbolize the four social classes: the working class, the peasantry, the urban petite bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie.) (At least, that's what Wikipedia says, so it's probably right.)

We gave him a slightly simplified answer (because ain't no one wants to try to spell or explain the "bourgeoisie!") and he seemed to accept it. Then Grammy asked him, "Why are you so interested in the Chinese flag?"

"Well," he said, "when I'm bigger I want to make a pair of sunglasses here in America that has the Chinese flag on it so I can send it to the people in China, just like they made some sunglasses with the American flag on it and sent it here."

And there you have it! The simple solution for solving America's trade deficit with China. All we have to do is for every America-based trinket or knick-knack that comes to us from China, we need to make a Chinese version here in the United States and send it back to China.

And that's it: the Chinese trade deficit solved by my seven year-old son! (Next week we're going to put him to work on bringing long-lasting peace to the Middle East.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I Made Chuck Norris Chuckle

Chuck Norris loves babies!

Sure, most people say they love babies, but Chuck Norris actually does something about it. Chuck Norris is an American hero!

It was a normal day. I was at home with my two youngest kids, Thing 3, the two and a half year-old girl, and Thing 4, the eleven month-old boy. (Thing 1 and Thing 2 were in school.) I was trying to figure out a way to entertain the kids without resorting to songs from Moana or Frozen when I got a text from my brother alerting me to the fact that Chuck Norris would soon be making an appearance in the town where I live.

My first reaction, as it often is, was to question my brother's sanity. Why would Chuck Norris be coming to small town Utah? But, my brother insisted he had seen this announced on the semi-reputable website for one of the local television news stations. I checked it myself and, yes, Chuck Norris was scheduled to appear at a convenience store/gas station less than a mile from my house in about an hour! (He was coming to promote his new line of bottled water, CForce.) And so I did what any responsible parent would do: I loaded up my kids for an opportunity to stand in line in the hot sun so they could have a ten second meeting with some guy they had never heard of!

When I showed this picture to my 2 year-old daughter she got excited and said, "It's HulkSmash! It's HulkSmash wearing pajamas!" So, apparently, when the Hulk wears pajamas, he looks like Chuck Norris!

As I approached the gas station, cars were lining up and parking along the side of the road. I got my kids out of the mini-van and plopped Thing 4 in the stroller so I could roll him the rest of the way to the convenience store. Because of all the Chuck-related traffic, I was holding Thing 3 in one arm and trying to push the stroller with the other. That's when my neighbor and his wife (and their young son) came along and helped me out. (Shout out to Aaron and Leah!) The neighbor pushed the stroller for me as we made the longer-than-it-seemed walk to the end of the line to see Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris waits for no one, but everyone waits for Chuck Norris.
Chuck was meeting people in a tent in the front of the store, and the line to see him came out along the side of the building, out to the edge of the parking lot, around the end of a dead end road, and down along the side street toward the traffic light. It was a pretty long line. I had been in line with my kids and my neighbors for about twenty minutes when a bigwig from the convenience store (I recognized him from their commercials) came out to the line and announced, "Chuck would like anyone who has babies in a stroller to move right up to the front of the line. He doesn't want the babies to get dehydrated out here in the sun." Yes, Chuck Norris loves babies!

I looked at my neighbors, who had helped me out so much, and who were there with a young son who just as easily could have been in a stroller, too. Was I somehow more worthy to jump in the line than them just because I had a stroller? I felt bad...but I ditched them in a heartbeat. (Sorry about that, Aaron and Leah!)

I strolled up to the front of the line and there he was in the tent: the one and only Chuck Norris!!!

As I started to undo the straps to get Thing 4 out of the stroller, a small joke formulated in my mind. I walked toward Walker, Texas Ranger, carrying my baby boy. When I got close enough that I was sure Chuck Norris could hear me, I reached up to take the binky (pacifier) out of my boy's mouth and said, "You can't meet Chuck Norris with a binky in your mouth!"

And Chuck Norris chuckled. Yes, I made* Chuck Norris chuckle! (*NOTE: That's not true. No one makes Chuck Norris do anything. It would be more accurate to say that I said something that Chuck Norris decided to acknowledge with a chuckle.)

Chuck chuckled, and then quickly said, "No, no, that's okay." Because Chuck Norris loves babies, and he wants them to be happy, even if it means that baby is sucking on a wimpy binky. But, I defied Chuck Norris and took the binky out anyway, because I knew my son was tough enough he wouldn't cry in the presence of Chuck Norris. (He didn't.)

The next ten seconds are pretty much a blur. Thing 3 hid behind me because she was apparently afraid of this bearded stranger and foolishly thought I could protect her from Chuck Norris. So, I had to herd her around to the front of me, but she still was a little leery of him. I held Thing 4 up between Chuck and I. And, worst of all, I forgot to suck in my considerable gut. It's not a very good picture.

As my wife said, "Why look at the camera when you can look at Chuck Norris?"
A few things about the picture: 1) My daughter wanted nothing to do with Chuck Norris. 2) I think my son's forehead might be touching Chuck's cheek, and the boy is staring intently at Chuck's beard. 3) Chuck Norris is not a very large man. And D) I held onto my baby because I figured Chuck Norris wouldn't want to hold other people's babies. I was wrong. It turns out he posed holding a lot of babies. Of course he did, because Chuck Norris loves babies! (If I had known this, I certainly would have had him hold one, or maybe both of my babies. Oh well.)

After the picture was taken, I headed into the store, because if Chuck Norris is there to sell CForce Bottled Water, then by golly I'm going to buy me some CForce Bottled Water! I didn't do this just because I wanted the water. I did this because they were handing out "free" swag to people who purchased Chuck's water. (I'm always a sucker for buying stuff I didn't really want in order to get some free stuff that I also didn't really want.) 

So, I bought four bottles of CForce water and took two of them to my neighbors who were still in line. (Still feeling bad about ditching you, Aaron and Leah!) I then went to the "free stuff" line and got myself a t-shirt and a pair of fake wood sunglasses! 

I look much tougher and skinnier in a Chuck Norris t-shirt! (And when I suck in my gut.)
(I should mention that appearing with Chuck Norris was Truck Norris. Unfortunately, Truck Norris is not some muscle-man cousin of Chuck's, but a large, tricked-out truck.)

(Also, while standing in line the guy in front of me was whining because they only had shirts in sizes L and XL. The person handing out the shirts rightly called him out, saying, "Dude, it's free stuff. Stop complaining.") 

I then took my water bottles, t-shirt, sunglasses, and babies, and went home. I had a really good time. It's not every day you get to meet Chuck Norris and turn him into Chuckle Norris!