Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Santa Claus Pooped In Our Yard (And Other Truths I've Learned from My Kids)

The other day I walked outside with my three year-old son. He stepped onto the grass, turned to me, and said, "Santa Claus pooped in the yard." I laughed at the image of a jolly man in a red felt suit stopping to drop some personal fertilizer on our lawn, but I knew immediately what my son was trying to say. There are deer who occasionally wander through our yard (they really like the peach tree), and they sometimes leave little piles of poop pellets. My son saw the deer poop and attributed it to Santa.

I didn't feel the need to correct him, but apparently his older brother and/or sister must have, because later in the evening the three year-old reported to my wife that, "Santa's unicorns pooped in our yard."

When in doubt, blame Santa.

Kids know things. And, sometimes kids think they know things. They will hold as facts things that they have been told, things they think they have been told, things they hear, things they sort of half hear, things one of their older siblings may or may not have said, and/or things they make up on their own, but decide should be true. (After all, what's really the difference between a unicorn and a reindeer, anyway?)

Here are a few of the "facts" I've learned from my kids:

*English muffins should really be called "French Toast Bagels."

*"Mermaids don't fart." My older daughter stated this one day, very matter-of-factly. We weren't talking about mermaids. We weren't talking about farts. Why she believes this and/or why she brought it up, I may never know.

*My younger daughter has declared that beef is, "dead cow chicken."

*A better name for ketchup is "tomato mustard."

We'll need to pick up some Tomato Mustard the next time we go to the store.

*My younger daughter once told me, "When you have bad breath, you talk louder." I'm not sure if she meant me, specifically, or everyone in general. Either way, I probably shouldn't yell so much.

*When a toilet in a public restroom flushes automatically because of a motion sensor, she says it has an, "audio flusher." (In her defense, they are rather loud.)

*My older son thinks that the big "G" in the middle of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin stands for "Geico."

*And, according to my younger daughter, we celebrate Easter because, "Jesus didn't want to become a ghost."

Kids know a lot of things. Maybe I should pay attention.

Friday, October 11, 2019

I'm Mr. Important

Let me just state the obvious right here at the start: I'm more important than you. I really shouldn't have to say it. I mean, I'm me and you're you; of course I'm more important.

We have rules for a reason, and that reason is to keep people like you in check. The rules apply to everyone except me, because I'm too important to follow the rules.

Don't scratch my mini-van!
I'm going to park wherever I want. Those yellow lines painted on the ground don't mean anything to me. (Well, except for when I park on top of those lines and take up two spots to make sure no one scratches or dings my car.) Handicapped parking? There's never enough really handicapped people to fill all those spots, so I might as well use them. Fire zone? When's the last time you saw a fire at a store? Of course I can park there.

As far as I know those yellow lines were painted there as someone's abstract art project.
The carpool lane is for vehicles with two or more people in them. Or for me. (Because I'm more important than you.) Don't cross the double white lines? Good advice...unless it's convenient for me. Speed limits mean nothing to me. Are two lanes merging into one? Well, obviously I should be allowed to keep going forward until the last possible moment before I merge, crowding ahead of all you idiots who got over when the sign told you to.

I don't wait in lines. Ever. I'm far too important for that!

I'm glad you people shut off your phones before the start of the movie. But, I'm not going to shut mine off. How will I know when I get a call if I turn my phone off? Besides, I might want to check the scores or play a game if the movie gets boring. Can't do that with my phone off!

20 items or less? Who's got time to count? If it's the shortest line, that's where I'm going.

No, I'm not going to clear my tray and throw away my garbage at the fast food restaurant, I'll just leave it sitting on the table. And no, I'm not going to push my shopping cart to the return area, I'll just leave it by where I parked. They have people they pay to do those kind of things. Why should I bother to do it?
Oh, paid servant! Come fetch my cart for me!

Yes, I'm more important than you. I'm not sure how I can put it in a way that will make sense to you. Maybe if you pretended every day was your birthday you might understand. But probably not, because I'm way more important than your birthday.

Edited from a post originally published on 10/13/2017.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

How To Get All the Laundry Done (In Less Than a Week!)

As it stands right now, I am a stay at home dad. I have a wife, who is a junior high math teacher, and four children. Including me, that's a total of six people. (I was able to do that math all on my own, without the help of my wife.) While I'm staying at home, I do the laundry. I wash all the clothes for all six members of our household.

I do the laundry once a week, and sometimes I'm actually done with the laundry before I have to start on the laundry again. Some of you might find that statement a bit confusing, but if you've ever done the laundry for an entire family, you know exactly what I mean.

Recently, I decided to keep track of one week's cycle of laundry to see how exactly it went. Here is that laundry log:

Wednesday, DAY 1:
11:11 AM--Start gathering the dirty laundry to sort it into loads. (Whites, darks, brights, delicates, etc.)
11:14 AM--Actually begin sorting laundry.
11:23 AM--Put first load (LOAD 1) into washing machine. (HINT: If you put the first load in while you still have sorting to do, you'll get a headstart on getting all the loads through the washer and dryer.)
11:29 AM--While gathering dirty clothes hampers from around the house, pick up clothes strewn about the floor of the girls' room.
11:32 AM--While sorting clothes, continually have to separate underwear from the pants that they were worn with. (Surprisingly, this again is more of a problem with the girls than it is with the boys.)
11:37 AM--Finish the sorting of the dirty laundry. Counting the load that's already in the washer, there are a total of 7 loads of laundry.
11:39 AM--Take all of the separated baskets of dirty laundry downstairs to the laundry room.

Some of the laundry.
12:56 PM--Take LOAD 1 out of the washer and move some of it to the dryer. Put LOAD 2, which is the load of delicates, into the washer.
12:57 PM--Take my wife's shirts, which were part of LOAD 1, and hang them on the in-house drying rack.
2:20 PM--Take LOAD 2, full of delicates, out of the washer. Put LOAD 3 into the washer. (LOAD 1 is still drying.)
2:21 PM--Hang the delicates from LOAD 2 on the in-house drying rack.
5:17 PM--Remove LOAD 1 from the dryer. Move LOAD 3 from the washer to the dryer. Put LOAD 4 into the washer.
9:43 PM--Remove LOAD 3 from the dryer. Move LOAD 4 from the washer to the dryer. Put LOAD 5 in the washer. [NOTE: The large interval of time between putting LOAD 3 into the dryer and removing LOAD 3 from the dryer is due to a variety of factors, including a) length of time for dryer to get a load dry, and B) being distracted by kids and life in general.]

Thursday, DAY 2:
6:24 AM--Remove LOAD 4 from the dryer. Move LOAD 5 from the washer to the dryer.
6:53 AM--After showering, put LOAD 6 in the washer. (Didn't want the washer running while I showered.)
8:40 AM--Check dryer. Clothes not yet dry. Set it for another hour.
9:54 AM--Remove LOAD 5 from the dryer. Move LOAD 6 from the washer to the dryer. Put LOAD 7 in the washer.
12:50 PM--Remove LOAD 6 from the dryer. Move LOAD 7 from the washer to the dryer.
1:01 PM--Put surprise LOAD 8 (towels) in the washer.
2:52 PM--Check dryer. Clothes not yet dry. Set it for another thirty minutes.
3:24 PM--Remove LOAD 7 from dryer. Move LOAD 8 from washer to dryer.
5:25 PM--Check dryer. Towels not yet dry. (Towels are never dry.) Set it for another hour.
7:05 PM--Check dryer. Towels are dry!!! Remove LOAD 8 from dryer. The laundry is DONE!!! (But no, it's not actually done.)

Friday, DAY 3:
6:41 AM--Go downstairs. Dig through baskets of clean laundry for clean underwear and socks to wear for the day.
6:42 AM--8:54 PM--Busy day with kids, school, and life in general. Totally forget about clean laundry waiting in baskets downstairs.
8:55 PM--Start separating clean laundry into seven baskets, one for each member of the household, plus one for towels and etc.
10:12 PM--Finish separating. Start sorting (pants, shirts, pajamas, etc.) and folding clothes in each persons' basket.
10:57 PM--Finish sorting all of the laundry to the point that it is ready to be put away. The laundry is DONE!!! (But no, it's not actually done.)

Saturday, DAY 4:
7:42 AM--Bring wife's clothes (including shirts from the in-house drying rack) upstairs for her to put away.
7:44 AM--Bring my own clothes upstairs. Put away the clothes in the closet and the dresser.
8:01 AM--Bring clothes for Thing 1 (oldest daughter) and Thing 2 (oldest son) upstairs. Tell them to put away their own darn clothes.
9:04 AM--Bring clothes for Thing 4 (youngest son) upstairs and put them away myself.
9:16 AM--It's Saturday. We've got a busy day and things to do. Don't think about laundry.

Sunday, DAY 5:
7:29 AM--Thing 4 has peed through his diaper, all over his pajamas, sheets, blanket, and pillow case. Throw emergency LOAD 9 into the washer.
12:11 PM--Move LOAD 9 from the washer to the dryer.
2:50 PM--Remove LOAD 9 from the dryer.
8:13 PM--Put away LOAD 9, making Thing 4's bed so he can sleep with his favorite blanket.

Monday, DAY 6:
9:08 AM--Realize that clean clothes for Thing 3 (youngest daughter) are still downstairs and need to be put away.
9:10 AM--Put away clothes for Thing 3.
The laundry is DONE!!!
(But no, it'll start back up again in a couple of days. The laundry is NEVER done.)

Friday, October 4, 2019

Cold Cereal Killers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited from a post originally published on 9/1/2017.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Parenting On a Need-to-Know Basis

They say that knowledge is power. Is it a bad thing when, as a parent, I use that knowledge to my own benefit?

Recently, my daughter's best friend was having a birthday. My wife and the mother of my girl's BFF exchanged a few texts and it was arranged that there would be a small birthday celebration, and that my daughter was invited. This was information that my daughter would find extremely exciting.

We didn't tell her. (At least, not immediately.) Why? Because if we had told her about the birthday party, she would have spent all of the days and hours leading up to the party thinking of nothing else. She would have bounced around the house doing a mental, and very vocal, countdown of the time until the party. She would have talked about it non-stop. She would have driven us crazy.

And so, as parents, we wielded the power of that knowledge to our own advantage. We didn't tell her--until we did.

With just hours to go before the party, I was at home with my two oldest children. (My wife had taken the two younger ones to go grocery shopping.) It was Saturday, and we had asked the older kids to do a chore outside of their regularly scheduled ones. But, they were moving quite slowly. A task that should have taken them 45 minutes was turning into an all-day event.

That's when I decided to use my knowledge to my benefit. I told my daughter about her friend's birthday party, and warned her that she wouldn't be able to go unless she finished the task at hand. The results were amazing! She got more done in the next ten minutes than she had in the previous hour and a half.

And it was all because I leveraged the information at my disposal for my benefit. Does that make me a bad person? Maybe. But, it definitely makes me a parent. Parents use the power of their knowledge to their advantage all the time. Don't believe me? Just think about how we use Santa Claus. "You better be good, or Santa won't bring you any presents." Or, "If you keep behaving like that, I'll tell Santa he doesn't need to stop at our house this year."

In the end, did I feel guilty for using the knowledge at my disposal for my own benefit? No. My daughter was able to finish her chore, AND she went to her friend's birthday party and had a great time. For me, that was a win-win situation.

Their youthful energy and boundless enthusiasm gives kids an edge over adults. We need to be able to use one of the few advantages we have: knowledge. Because knowledge is power.

Photo courtesy of the website Pixabay.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Parents Get Stuck Sticking Sticky Stickers

Kids love stickers. I don't know why, but they do.

Parents, on the other hand, are not nearly as fond of stickers. This time, I do know why. Stickers stick to things. They stick to things they shouldn't stick to. They'll unstick from things they should be stuck to. And then they'll restick to yet more things they shouldn't be stuck to. If you have kids, there is a good chance that at least once a week you will have a sticker stuck to the bottom of either your shoe or your foot (depending on if your around-the-house preference is barefoot or shod.)

If a kid sticks a sticker to your kitchen table, it will remain stuck to your table henceforth and forever, unless you sand it off or scrape it off with a screwdriver. Either way, it's going to leave a mark.

But if a sticker is supposed to stick forever on a piece of paper or toy, it will peel off by itself in a matter of minutes. Somehow the stickers know.

And why is it that I have to put the stickers on new toys? Shouldn't they come with the stickers already attached? A while back one of our kids got a Happy Meal toy, and the instructions looked like this:

No Happy Meal toy should have 16(!) assembly steps!
Yes, there were 16(!) tiny stickers that they wanted me to peel off and place on the little toy truck. And I couldn't just put them anywhere; they had to be placed in very specific spots on the truck. Nevermind that me and my big sausage* fingers have a difficult enough time just getting the stickers off of the paper, let alone getting them placed properly in the tiny spots they are intended for. [*Link sausage, not patty.]

Luckily for my kids my wife was there, and she was able to get all 16 stickers in their proper places. (She has dainty, unsausagy fingers.) But still, couldn't they have just had the toy come with the stickers pre-stuck?

Stickers stuck.
A few years ago we got a toddler bed. (It was for one of our toddlers.) According to the pictures on the box, the plastic headboard of the bed had a big picture of Elmo on it. In actuality, this was not the case. Upon opening the box and going through the parts of the bed that needed to be assembled, we found a large sticker of Elmo that we were supposed to affix to the headboard. Okay, fine, no big deal, right? We placed the Elmo sticker in the proper place on the headboard.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for our toddler to discover the fun of peeling stickers off of things. Before long he had ripped Elmo's eye down to his nose. We tried to reaffix Elmo, but he was never quite the same again.

Elmo needs some cosmetic surgery.
Maybe I'm crazy, but I have to think if the sticker had been pre-affixed at the factory, my toddler wouldn't have been able to give Elmo a (literal) face lift.

Of course, most stickers we deal with aren't the size of a headboard. Most stickers are tiny, and come at us 20, or 50, or 100 per page at a time. They'll stick to your clothes. They'll stick to your floor. They'll stick to the wall. They'll even stick to your face. (Let's just hope you notice it before you go in for that big job interview.)


And if you don't, let's hope your interviewer has a soft spot for rainbows, or hippos, or hippos under rainbows. If not, you might find yourself in a sticky situation.

Edited from a post originally published on 10/17/2017.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Sports Radio Is Dyfunctional

It's getting to the point where I can't listen to sports radio anymore.

Some would say that's not a bad thing. My wife would be one such person. Before I got married, I used to listen to sports radio in the car all the time. It was my standard background noise while I drove around town. However, I learned pretty quickly that I would not be listening to sports radio when my wife was in the car. She has no problem watching sports with me (except baseball, which is "like watching grass grow," and golf, which is "not a sport.") But she hates it when they are just talking about sports. "Why are they yelling at me?" she'll ask. (And these are just the regular pre- and post-game commentators; if she were to watch First Take or Around the Horn I think her head might explode.)

Sports radio isn't what it used to be.

So, when I'm in the car with my wife, there is no sports radio. But, I've always felt it was a fairly safe thing to listen to when it's just me and the kids. Oh, they'll occasionally ask for music, but I'll play the authoritarian Dad card and say things like, "I'm driving--I'm choosing," or "When you're old enough to drive maybe you'll be able to listen to what you want." (This makes me sound like an opinionated gasbag. It's probably true.)(I learned how to be an opinionated gasbag from listening to sports radio.)

But lately it's been more difficult to justify listening to sports radio with the kids in the car. Why? Erectile dysfunction. Yes, I said erectile dysfunction. Usually, erectile dysfunction isn't a problem when I'm driving--except when that's all they talk about on the radio. About half the commercials on sports radio these days are for erectile dysfunction or male enhancement. Apparently the makers of these advertisements feel that there is a significant overlap between sports radio listeners and their target audience. I guess I should be insulted, but that's not really why the commercials concern me. What bothers me is the barrage of questions that will soon be on its way because my children have ears. Questions like:

"Dad, what is ED?"
"Dad, what does erectile dysfunction mean?"
"Dad, you're over 40. Does that mean you have ED?"
"Dad, don't you want to improve your performance?"

These are not questions I want to discuss with anyone--least of all with my children!

But, that's not the only reason I'm finding it increasingly difficult to listen to sports radio. As more and more athletes get into legal trouble, the more those troubles get talked about. Recently, a star athlete was accused of rape, so the sports radio pundits felt the need to discuss it in detail. Unfortunately, the subject matter requires a little more nuance than can be expected from someone who spends most of his day yapping about why James Harden would beat Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one (he wouldn't), or why Eli Manning belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (he doesn't.) I don't really want my children listening to "Sports Bob" giving his "take" about sexual assault.

And then, there's the yelling. I'm starting to understand why it bothers my wife. Whenever my kids hear Stephen A. Smith they'll yell, "Hey, it's the Yelling Guy!" ("Stop yelling," I'll yell back at them.) Really, I'm not sure why some of these guys feel the need to be so loud all of the time, or why the people in charge put them on the radio. If I wanted to be yelled at, I've got an old boss I could look up. (I wonder what he's doing these days.) (He probably has his own sports radio show.)

Photo courtesy of the website Pixabay.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Please, Don't Step On My Foot!

I really don't ask for much.

I don't ask that everyone stand up when I enter a room. I don't ask for a trumpet fanfare to be played when I enter a room, either. I don't ask for a cushioned throne. I don't ask for a jeweled crown. I don't ask for a personal food taster. I don't ask for a drawbridge or a moat.

So, what do I ask for? Very simple: DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!

I'm not asking for the Minnesota Vikings to win the Super Bowl (although that would be nice.) I'm not asking for the Utah Jazz to win the NBA championship (although that would be nice, too.) I'm not asking for the Seattle Mariners to win the World Series. I'm not asking for the Idaho State University football team or the BYU football team to win another national championship. (Can you believe they both actually did that in my lifetime? Amazing!)

So, what am I asking for? I'm glad you asked: DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!

I'm not looking for breakfast in bed. I'm not asking for pie in the sky. I'm not wishing upon a star. I don't want a pitcher or a belly-itcher. I'm not asking to see the manager.

All I'm really hoping for is that you DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!

You might ask, "Why is he so worried about people stepping on his foot?" Well, it's because I frequently have this problem of people STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!!

It's not like I have unusually large feet. It's not like my feet are so big and take up so much space that it is difficult not to step on them. There is plenty of room on the floor for people to take steps at places that are not directly on my feet. (Having said that, my feet and hands aren't unusually small, either. I have good, normal-sized feet and hands. Nothing to be insecure about here!)

And yet, people keep STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!!

My little girl is the worst culprit. She's of a certain age, and she is constantly STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!! She often does this in an attempt to climb up on my lap. Apparently, standing on my foot gets her a little bit closer to the place she want to be, which is on my lap so she can "help" me as I try to type on my laptop computer.

But, she's not the only one. I have a niece that we watch for a couple of afternoons a week. She's a button-pusher. She likes to get reactions out of adults. And she knows that one sure way to get a reaction out of me is by STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!! So, she does this often.

My oldest son will also occasionally be found STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!! He doesn't do this out of malice or to get attention. He usually does it because he is oblivious to the world around him. He is so busy dreaming about the elevators or shopping malls that he is going to build that he doesn't even notice that he is STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!!

And it's not just people. One day the cat was STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!! In the brief moment that the cat's foot was on top of my foot, something startled the cat. Instinctively he put out his claws, dug them into my foot, then raced away as fast as he could. This did not make me happy.

This is just one reason why I say DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!
To sum up, what I'm really trying to say here is: DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!! My foot is not a stepping stone. It's not part of the carpet or the linoleum. My foot is not part of the kitchen tile.

So, please, I just have one simple request: DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!

Thank you.

Edited from a post originally published on 10/7/2016.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Dad, the Fashion Consultant

I have two daughters, ages 11 and 4. Their Mom keeps them well-supplied with nice, cute, stylish clothes. When they coordinate those clothes properly, how their Mom intended, they look very nice. However, sometimes the girls mix and match the clothing into outfits that should not be worn together. Since their Mom often leaves for work before the girls get dressed, it falls upon me, the fashion-challenged Dad, to set things right. I don't always succeed.

Kids have their own fashion sense. (Or should I say fashion nonsense?)

(I also have two boys, but I don't worry about them. Put boys in a t-shirt and jeans and they're set.)

The girls (especially the four year-old) sometimes go out in public in questionable clothes. I don't always catch the bad outfits. Part of the problem is I don't quite know all of the terminology. On the lower half of their bodies girls can wear dresses, pants, jeggings, leggings, tights, skirts, shorts, skorts, jorts, sweats, or some other thing that I should probably know the name of but quite clearly do not. And only certain tops, shirts, blouses, dresses, tunics, muumuus, or whatevers are supposed to match up with each specific lower-half-covering unit, and I don't know all of the correct combinations. For example, I've been told that leggings are only supposed to go with longer shirts, but I'm not sure what length the shirt needs to be to meet the cutoff point, and now that I've said "cutoffs" I'm even more confused than I was before.

A fashion faux pas needs to be extremely egregious for me to catch it. But, yes, I do occasionally catch them. The other day the four year-old was getting dressed for church. She had on a lovely pink floral dress, and I told her she needed to get some shoes to wear. She came back to me with her black Sunday shoes and a pair of green and white athletic socks. Even I knew that was a bad idea.

Even Dad know these socks don't go with a pink dress.
Over the years I have picked up a few little rules that help me. Girls love pink, and girls love purple, but pink and purple don't go together. (Unless they do.) Also, red and pink don't go together. (Unless they do.) Stripes and polka dots don't go together, either. (Unless they do.) I don't know when the exceptions for these rules apply, only that I'm not qualified to apply them.

The biggest problem in trying to be a fashion consultant for my daughters is that I'm so fashionally challenged myself. I've been wearing some of the same shirts since 1997. The other day I was wearing what I consider one of my "newer" shirts, when I saw a picture of me in that same shirt while holding my 11 year-old when she was a baby.

And really, what's the worst that can happen? My girls might go out in public wearing outfits that don't match. If it happens, and if anyone calls them on it, they can always just point to me and say, "Hey, at least we don't look as bad as that guy."

Friday, September 13, 2019

There's a Good Chance...

Sometimes you have to play the percentages.

The chance that there will be leftover bacon: 1.4%

If you are standing in the check-out line at Walmart holding nothing but a plunger, the chance there is a plugged toilet at your house: 96.3%

When you hear a new song on the radio and really want to know the name of the song and who sings it, the chance that the DJ will give you that information when the song is over: 11.8%

The chance that the baby won't find that piece of string on the floor that the vacuum wouldn't pick up: 6.8%

The chance I might be too big for this ride: 91.9%

The chance that you will find sand in your shoes after a visit to the beach: 99.999%

On a twenty mile drive on the freeway, the chance you will come across a car going slower than the speed limit while driving in the passing lane: 72.4%

The chance that, on that same drive, you will come across more than one car going slower than the speed limit while driving in the passing lane: 52.1%

The chance that you will get a rock chip less than a month after replacing your windshield: 24.7%

The chance that you will get bug splatter on your windshield less than an hour after washing your windshield: 85.5%

The chance that it will rain on any given day of the summer in Utah: 29.1%

The chance that it will rain on the day you plan to go to the zoo: 64.7%

The chance that the Minnesota Vikings finally win the Super Bowl this year: 2.2%

The chance that the comic book character who was just dramatically killed off will somehow come back to life within the next two years: 97.0%

The chance you pick the quickest check-out line at the store: 18.3%

The chance your kid gets the toy they wanted with their Happy Meal: 38.7%

The chance that Elvis Presley is still alive: .003%

The chance that Hootie and the Blowfish will have another #1 hit: 2.6%

The chance that the food you order at Taco Bell, whatever they happen to be calling it this week, will consist of tortilla, meat, beans, and cheese: 98.3%

The chance that when you really need to use the restroom at Walmart, it is closed for cleaning: 58.9%

The chance that the restroom at Walmart is actually clean: 6.7%

The chance that when you ask for your drink with no ice, it will actually be brought to you with no ice: 81.4%

The chance that, when your burger arrives, it will look like the picture in the advertisement: 1.1%

The chance that when you actually can sleep in, you will be able to do so: 14.4%

The chance that when you want the kids to stay up late, they fall asleep early: 79.9%

The chance that all of these percentages are just numbers I completely made up: 99.6%

Edited from a post originally published on 8/25/2015.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The World of Television Cliches

I was reading a book the other day. In it, one of the characters walks into a bar. She's in her mid-twenties, and rather petite. She immediately runs afoul of a gang of toughs--four or five guys who are all much bigger than her and not very pleasant. Words are exchanged. The large men arm themselves with beer bottles and pool cues, ready to attack.

Can you guess what happens? Of course you can. This small, delicate young woman beats up the entire crew, leaving them heaped in a bloody pile of broken bottles, broken pool cues, and broken bones.

Because that's what happens on television shows and in the movies. It's one of the cliches of modern storytelling.

Fender bender = explosion!

I saw this on Twitter recently, and it made me laugh:

just once, I'd like to see an advertisement for a new network drama about a cop/lawyer/doctor who DOES play by the rules
6:29 PM · Sep 9, 2019Twitter Web App

Seriously. Maybe it would be a bit boring to watch a detective follow procedure, but it would be a nice change of pace from what we usually see. They say we want "realism" in our television shows, but I don't think they're ever going to show a patient sitting in the waiting room for 35 minutes, then in the examination room for another 25 minutes, only for the doctor to come in and talk to him for 45 seconds and leave.

Television show cliches are so overused that if you see a certain thing, you can be sure of what is about to follow. Examples:

IF a car gets in any kind of accident, THEN it will explode--but not until the occupants have been dragged away to a safe distance.

IF two people are playing chess, THEN someone will announce "Checkmate" within the next thirty seconds.

Checkmate is just one move away. Always.

IF someone goes to Las Vegas and gets drunk, THEN they will get married and have absolutely no memory of it.

IF a dangerous criminal is being transported from the prison, THEN an elaborate escape plan will be perfectly executed.

IF a new doctor/nurse is introduced, THEN that doctor/nurse will be sleeping with a co-worker (or possibly more than one) within the next two weeks.

IF a night security guard or armored car driver is shown, THEN they will most likely die in a break-in.

IF two characters are in the same room yelling loudly at each other, THEN there is a very good chance they will end up passionately kissing each other.

IF a main character is shot, stabbed, or seriously wounded in an explosion (it happens more often than you might think), THEN within two episodes there will be absolutely no lingering effects of said near-death experience. (Heck, if I twist my ankle playing basketball, I'm limping for two months--these guys get shot in the face and they're back making jokes by the water cooler in a day and a half!)

Luckily, we live in the real world, not the world of television cliches. (Unfortunately, that means I've got another 27 minutes before they move me from the waiting room to the examination room.)

Pictures courtesy of the website Pixabay.

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Song of Poop and Barf

Game of Thrones is a very popular television show based on a series of books known as A Song of Fire and Ice.

A Song of Fire and Ice? Ha! What's so scary about that? Fire's not so bad; just pour some water on it. And ice? Well, I've seen Frozen enough times that the ice doesn't bother me anyway. No, I have a song that is much more frightening. A song that would make George R. R. Martin run away and hide. I sing: A Song of Poop and Barf!

Recently, our Song of Poop and Barf began on a Monday morning around 7:30 AM. My wife had already left for work, and when I opened the door I was greeted by a wall of stench. Thing 3, our two-and-a-half year-old girl, was up and out of her bed, but I immediately noticed a large stain on her sheets. Poop. I knew what had to happen. (It's moments like this that separate the fathers from the babysitters.) I grabbed the girl and removed her clothes, taking care to minimize spreading the poop to uninfected areas. (Keeping the poop out of the hair being a top priority!) I gave her a preliminary wipe-down, then threw her in the bathtub. (The preliminary wipe-down is essential in order to keep poop in the tub at a minimum.) I stripped her bed of sheets, blankets, pillow-case, and mattress pad and shoved them all down the laundry chute. I removed the blanket from atop the changing table and put it down the chute as well. I bathed the girl, cleaned her up, dried her off, put her in a new diaper and clean clothes. And, as all this was going on I was barking orders to our two older children to help entertain/distract our youngest child (Thing 4, a one year-old boy,) and to get themselves ready to catch the school bus. I then went downstairs and put all the poop-infected clothing and bedding in the washing machine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited from a post originally published on 9/8/2017.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Kids: Expect the Unexpected

"Have kids," they say. "They'll be great," they say. "They'll complete you," they say. "They'll enrich your life in ways you never thought possible," they say. "They'll leave teeth marks in your toilet paper like some kind of unhinged vampire," they say.

Wait. No one ever says that last thing. Until now. I say that last thing. But I wish I didn't.

Maybe this is the work of those creepy, toilet paper obsessed bears from the television commercials?

I went to use the bathroom and discovered that the roll of toilet paper was slightly wet, and it looked like someone had tried to take a bite out of it. I immediately assumed this was done by our youngest son, because he is frequently sent to our bathroom in the ongoing (and seemingly never-ending) attempt to potty train him. When I confronted him about it, he denied it. I asked him two more times if he had done it, and his denials became more vocal. But, I noticed something. Each time I asked him if he had mangled the roll of toilet paper, his sister hid a little bit more of her face behind a book. I had a new suspect, and when I directed my questions at her, she admitted her responsibility fairly quickly.

When I asked her why she did it, she said, "because I thought it would be fun." Children are always looking for new and different ways to have fun, from pouring out an entire bottle of shampoo into the tub, to recovering every inch of carpet in the house with blankets, to moistening and mangling the toilet paper. (While she admitted her guilt, she denied having bitten the toilet paper. She said she just tore at it with her fingers. I'm choosing to take her at her word, because I'd rather not be dealing with someone who chews on toilet paper.) I sent her to the corner and gave her a stern lecture on why we don't play with the toilet paper. It hasn't happened again. (Yet.)

The bottom line: all those things they say about kids are true. They are great. They will complete you. They will enrich your lives. But, they'll also drive you crazy. They'll do things you won't understand. They'll make you question your sanity. They'll do things that surprise you--for good and for bad. And there's no way to prepare for it. (Just be sure you have plenty of toilet paper.)

Friday, August 30, 2019

Attack of the Toddlers!!!

I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.


I'm trying to put my shoes on, but because I can only put on one shoe at a time, after I grab the first shoe, the second shoe is vulnerable to attack. Almost without fail one of my toddlers will grab the second shoe. They will either a) run off with the shoe and hide it, or B) drop it on my bare foot in an effort to "help" me put my shoes on. You might think that a shoe falling 16 inches wouldn't hurt too much. You would be wrong.

If only that were the only time they beat me up. It isn't. My kids have become experts in the field of Mixed Martial Arts. They are Mixed Martial Toddler Artists. Within the last 24 hours I have been on the receiving end of:

*An elbow to the groin.
*A head-butt to my skull, just behind my ear. (It left me a little dizzy.)
*A head-butt to my groin. (She's just the right height that when she runs at me, that's where her skull hits.)
*An elbow to the chest. (Elbows are pointy!)
*A knee to the groin. (Why does it always have to be the groin? Please, leave my groin alone!!!)

"Ouch," says my groin.

That last knee to the groin inflicted a pain that lasted for several hours. So much so that I actually considered putting an ice pack on my groin. (Instead, I just walked around with my hand covering my groin for most of the rest of the evening to shield off further hits.) (See: Shields Up!) Now that I write this, as the pain has eased, I can see where it might sound a bit amusing. It was not amusing yesterday.

So, what can I do about it? Not much. Around the house I can keep a hand over my groin for protection, but I can't do that out in public. (No one wants to be known as "That Guy With His Hand On His Groin.")

About all I can do is try my best to avoid or deflect, then wait for them to outgrow the Mixed Martial Toddler Artist phase. Eventually their form of attack will change from the physical (frequent hits to the groin) to the verbal (asking 429 questions in a matter of three minutes.)

Because they're always on the attack.

Edited from a post originally published on 9/22/2017.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

At the Junction of Cereal and Candy

Boxed cereal has gotten a bad rap. It's dismissed as unsubstantial fluff--useless, crunchy piffle that turns soggy when sitting too long in milk.

But in reality, it's quite a remarkable food. Consider:
*It's got a long shelf life--you never have to worry about your cereal going bad.
*It's very versatile--you can eat it with milk or you can eat it dry right out of the box.
*It's relatively inexpensive--if you keep your eyes open for the right sale, you can often get an entire box for under two dollars.
*It's marginally nutritious--it contains some good nutrients, and it will keep you from starving to death.

So, why does cold cereal have such a bad reputation? It's because of stuff like this:

Part of this healthy(???) breakfast.
Yes, that's right, it's Sour Patch Kids Cereal! When my wife and I first saw this in the store a few months ago, we thought it was a joke. In fact, my wife believed it was so funny that she had me pick up a box of it and pose for a picture. "You could probably right up a funny blog about this," she said.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.
I laughed and forgot about it. But then this week we loaded up the entire family and went grocery shopping again. (It's amazing how often you have to go shopping when you have four kids. They go through a lot of foodstuffs.) (And is it weird that all six of us frequently go grocery shopping together? Probably. But it's one of the few occasions when my wife and I actually get to spend time together, so it's like going on a date--with four kids and a shopping cart.)

Anyway, as we were shopping my wife noticed that Sour Patch Kids cereal was on sale, so she decided to buy some so we could determine if it was as bad as it looked like it might be. The kids were very excited. They were so excited, in fact, that when we got home they requested--no, demanded that they be allowed to try the cereal. And while we usually don't negotiate with terrorists or adhere to their demands, having them eat it was the reason we bought the cereal and brought it into our home.

We gave each kid a small bowl and a smattering of the cereal. They tried it without milk, and it was unanimous: the kids loved it! I tried it--I didn't love it. It was quite strange. As the box states, it was sour, then it was sweet. It was not what I want in a cereal. My wife tried one little bite and she was done. This was not a cereal for adults.

Then it was time to add some milk. It's one thing to have a sour dry cereal, but adding something sour to milk is like tempting fate. People who have tasted milk that has gone bad spend the rest of their lives looking at expiration dates and sniffing open milk containers in an effort to never have that experience again. No one likes sour milk. So, I had some trepidation about adding sour cereal to my milk.

The kids had no such fear. (By being "good" parents and never serving them milk that's gone bad, we may have done them a disservice.) They loved it. They ate the cereal, slurped up the milk, and asked for more. Even though the whole taste test was her idea, my wife would not try the cereal with milk. I did. It was not a pleasant experience. I felt the same way about eating Sour Patch Kids cereal as I did about riding Space Mountain at Disneyland--it didn't kill me, but I wouldn't do it again unless I was absolutely forced to by my children.

Of course, kids being kids one of them didn't finish the cereal in their bowl. About a half hour later I picked it up and went to dump it in the sink, and that's when I looked at it. In thirty minutes a white, filmy layer had settled in the bowl. I'm not sure if it was the frosting from the cereal dissolving, or if it was the milk separating. Either way, it made the cereal look even less edible than I had initially thought--which was quite an achievement.

It looks like an Oompa Loompa barfed.
So, the bottom line is: Would our kids eat it again? Yes. But, will we ever buy it again? No.

Cereal really is a remarkable food. But, as long as they keep making things like Sour Patch Kids cereal, it will never be thought of with the respect it deserves. (Nor should it. I'm not sure I'll ever get that taste out of my mouth again.)

Friday, August 23, 2019

You're From Idaho? Oh, You Must Be a Potato Farmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited from a post originally published on 9.15.2017.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Where No One Needs to Know Your Name

My daughter met a boy at the McDonald's PlayPlace and announced to us that she was going to marry him. She is four years old. Meanwhile, I didn't announce that I was going to marry anyone until I was 40 years old. Just a bit of a difference.

I don't think she's actually going to marry him--she doesn't know his name, and my understanding is it's fairly important to know the name of your spouse before you get married. (Vegas wedding chapels excluded, of course.)

Making best friends.

Kids have this ability to make friends any time and anywhere. Whenever we go to a park, the kids end up becoming best buds with whoever else happens to be at the playground with them. They'll say, "Dad! Dad! I made a new best friend!"

I'll say, "Great! What is your best friend's name?"

"Umm...I don't know." Apparently, names aren't important for friendships.

A very frightening sign.

A while back I took the kids with me to get an oil change in the mini-van at the car dealership. Usually when I go there I plop the kids in front of the television and get some writing done, but on this occasion the television in the kids' waiting area wasn't working. Without the television, the kids quickly teamed up with another couple of kids and they played tag and danced and ran around the dealership to entertain themselves. When the mother of those others told her kids that it was time to leave, I thought all four kids were going to break down into tears. It was quite a scene, complete with hugs and sad waves goodbye.

Meanwhile, I don't make new friends very often. The vast majority of my friends are people I've known for most of my life--or at least for several years. In recent years I've made several acquaintances. These are people I could become good friends with, if I spend enough time with them. But, I usually end up spending my time with my family or the friends I already have.

The older we get, the more time it takes to actually become friends with someone. But we are less likely to take the time it takes to make those friendships. Things would be easier if we were like kids--able to lose ourselves immediately in friendships with people we've just met. (Who knows? You might even meet someone at the PlayPlace that you'll want to marry.)

Friday, August 16, 2019

Back To School: Day 1 (A Running Diary)

Ah, the first day of school! It's one of the most anticipated and dreaded days of the year. And, it's just around the corner. To commemorate the day, I thought I'd take a look at how things went when I wrote a running diary of the first day of school two years ago. Things haven't changed much.

But first, the players, as they were two years ago:
     Thing 1:  9 year-old daughter (entering 4th grade)
     Thing 2:  7 year-old son (entering 2nd grade)
     Thing 3:  Two and a half year-old daughter
     Thing 4:  One year-old son
     The Wife:  Junior High math teacher crazy enough to marry me
     Me:  Stay-at-home dad and writer

Here we go:

5:30 AM--The Wife's alarm goes off. She hits the snooze button. I think about getting up to exercise.
5:40 AM--The Wife's alarm goes off again. She hits the snooze button again. I don't think about getting up to exercise.
5:50 AM--The Wife's alarm goes off again. I actually get out of bed and go to the bathroom.
5:55 AM--The Wife takes a shower.
6:00 AM--I feel guilty for not exercising. Grab the laptop and attempt to write. (Surf Facebook instead.)
6:13 AM--The Wife gets out of the shower. She sees me and says, "Oh, I thought you were exercising." I feel even more guilty.
6:15 AM--I take a shower.
6:33 AM--Attempt to write. (Stare off into space.)
6:45 AM--Wake up Thing 1 and Thing 2. I have the following exchange with Thing 1:
     Thing 1: "I was having a hilarious dream, but I'm glad you woke me up!"
     Me: "A hilarious dream?"
     Thing 1: "The octopus was eating pizza! But I'm glad you woke me up because it's the first day of school!"
6:46 AM--Thing 2 wakes up and has a bloody nose.
6:48 AM--Thing 1 informs me that in her hilarious dream there was calamari on the pizza the octopus was eating.
6:50 AM--Thing 1 and Thing 2 get dressed in their brand new* school clothes. [*NOTE: Last night The Wife picked out all of their clothes for the first week of school. Prior to that she made sure they had new clothes for school. Because she cares. (Had it been left to me they might have worn "gasp!" clothes from last year.)]
6:56 AM--Thing 1 doesn't want breakfast if it might be messy.
7:01 AM--Notice that Thing 2 has all brand new clothes except for ill-fitting socks he has worn for at least three years because he really wants to wear Captain America socks.
7:12 AM--The bus arrives...for the high school and junior high kids. Thing 2 worries that he missed his bus. I explain to him that this was not his bus. (I'll have this same conversation with him 46 more times over the course of the school year.)
7:15 AM--Auntie K arrives to do "First Day of School" hair. (She's slightly better at doing hair than Daddy.)
7:34 AM--Hair is done.
7:35 AM--Time for the "First Day of School" photo shoot.
7:39 AM--Realize it is very difficult to get two children to pose together without one of them fake-smiling so hard that they look like a psycho.
7:46 AM--Her work finished, Auntie K goes home. (She's incredible! She's like Mary Poppins without the flying umbrella.)
7:48 AM--Load their lunches* into their backpacks. [*NOTE: Last night The Wife packed their lunches. Because she is amazing.]
7:51 AM--Thing 2 asks if he can go to the bus stop. (No. It's too early.)
8:00 AM--I let them leave for the bus stop. (Even though it's still too early.)

And they're off!
8:03 AM--They arrive at the bus stop, sit on the curb, and look bored.
8:11 AM--The first next kid arrives at the bus stop.
8:19 AM--The bus arrives!
8:20 AM--The bus leaves.
8:21 AM--With complete quiet and solitude, I attempt to write. (Actually open a file on the computer.)
8:23 AM--I hear that Thing 4 is awake. As I go to get him, I really hope Thing 3 is still asleep.
8:24 AM--She's not.
8:25 AM--Change Thing 4's diaper.
8:26 AM--Get Thing 4 a banana.
8:27 AM--Change Thing 3's diaper.
8:28 AM--Get Thing 3 a banana.
8:29 AM--Make toast.
8:30 AM--Get more banana for Thing 4.
8:35 AM--Attempt to write. (Distracted by Facebook again.)
9:10 AM--Smell something bad. Change Thing 4's poopy diaper.
9:12 AM--Attempt to write. (Stare blankly into space.)
9:54 AM--Smell something bad. (Again.) Change Thing 4's poopy diaper.
9:56 AM--Attempt to write. (Go over old e-mails.)
10:34 AM--Actually getting some writing done! The kids are playing quietly. All is well.
10:36 AM--Thing 3 walks up to me, hits me in the leg, and repeatedly shouts, "I'm Velma! I'm Velma!" while holding an action figure of Daphne. She throws the Daphne action figure in anger. I stop writing to look for Velma action figure.
10:37 AM--Find two Shaggy action figures, two Scooby-Doo action figures, and one Fred action figure. No Velma.
10:39 AM--Find Velma! (And the world rejoices!) Sit down to write again.
10:40 AM--Sniff. Sniff. Smell something bad. Change Thing 4's poopy diaper. (His third in an hour and a half.)
10:42 AM--Put Thing 4 down for a nap. (All that pooping has got to make him tired, right?)
10:46 AM--Attempt to write. (Review what I've already written.)
10:48 AM--Thing 3 interrupts by asking me to read her a book.
11:01 AM--Finish reading to Thing 3. (Amazingly, I was able to get away with reading the book only three straight times.)
11:02 AM--Attempt to write. (Distracted by looking at "First Day of School" photo shoot.)
12:05 PM--Post "First Day of School" pictures of Thing 1 and Thing 2 on Facebook.
12:40 PM--Get Thing 4 up from his nap. Shockingly, no poop in his diaper.
12:43 PM--Feed kids leftover spaghetti for lunch.
12:44 PM--Realize I should not be feeding Thing 4 spaghetti on a day that isn't his normal bath day.
1:03 PM--Use a washy-wash (washcloth) to clean spaghetti sauce out of Thing 4's face, ears, eyebrows, hair, nostrils, chin, in between his fingers, eyelashes, and anywhere else I can find it, knowing full well that despite my best efforts I won't get it all.
1:09 PM--Attempt to write. (Doze off a little.)
3:13 PM--Change Thing 4's diaper. There is no poop, but there are several spaghetti noodles. And some sauce.
3:37 PM--The school bus arrives!
3:40 PM--Thing 1 and Thing 2 arrive home from school.
3:41 PM--Talking at the same time, Thing 1 and Thing 2 give a quick, incoherent report of everything that happened at school on the first day.
3:49 PM--The Wife arrives home from school.
3:50 PM--The exact same report is given of everything that happened at school on the first day. It is still incoherent.
3:51 PM--The Wife, exhausted from a full day of work at school, collapses in her chair. We look at each other and realize we only have to do this 179 more times before school lets out next summer.

Edited from a post originally published on 8/25/2017.
(The "running diary" is a format I've borrowed from former ESPN/Grantland/The Ringer writer Bill Simmons. I've used it a couple of times before.)