Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas: All Wrapped Up

Another Christmas is all wrapped up. Wrapped up pretty and tied with a bow. Which is more than I can say for any of the presents I wrapped this year. (Not so pretty, and I didn't use a single bow.)

I am not good at wrapping presents. It is not in my skill sets. First of all, I have a hard time guessing how much wrap I should cut off of the roll. I either end up with wrap about one inch too short to cover the present, or enough wrap to wrap around the present twice (or three times).

My biggest problem comes when the present is covered and it's time to fold up the corners of the wrap. Can't do it. Well, that's not true. I can do it, I just can't do it and make it look good. It ends up in a big wad, or the underside of the wrap is showing, or the foldy point of the wrap is so big it wraps more than halfway around the present again. I've been shown how to fold these corners, but I just can't seem to grasp it. (Just like I've been shown how to raise and lower Venetian blinds, but do you think I could raise or lower them in such a way that the bottom of the blinds are level?)(The answer, obviously, is no.)

And then, there are the bows. The Wife has tried to show me how to wrap bows around presents. And, she's also shown me how to make the end of the ribbon all curly and pretty by running a pair of scissors along it so that it curls on the end. I'm just not very good at it. She wraps the ribbon around the corners of the boxes, but I always get confused as to how to do this. Plus, the only knot I know how to tie very well is either the square or the granny knot. (It's really hit or miss as to which one I end up with.) And as far as curling the ribbon with scissors is concerned, it just seems to me to be another way to hurt myself with scissors. (I guess if I really wanted to live on the edge I would learn how to curl ribbon while running with the scissors.)

I blame my mother. My Mom was visiting this fall near The Wife's birthday, so I thought, "Great, she can help me wrap presents so they will actually look good!" Wrong. My Mom was as bad or worse than I was. Once again heredity rears its ugly head.

It didn't always used to be this way. Once upon a time, I used to get positive-ish comments about how I wrapped things. (Looking back, they were probably condescending positive-ish comments, but positive-ish nonetheless.) Remember, I was single until I was 40. As a single man, the only real objective of wrapping presents is to cover the presents so that the receiver of the gift can't see what the present is. (I'm not sure why this has changed since I got married, but it has.)

So, when I was single I was widely known for wrapping presents in newspaper. It made perfect sense to me. I already had the newspaper. It was cheap. I didn't see the need to spend money on wrapping paper. (Americans spend more than $117 billion* dollars on wrapping paper every year.) [*86.2% of all statistics on this blog are numbers I made up.] I didn't see the need to hand over my money to the wrapping paper consortium.

Plus, I used to be creative with my newspaper wrapping, often incorporating the pictures from the paper into the wrapping. I remember the sports page having a large close-up front-page picture of football coach Bill Parcells in mid-yell. I wrapped the present in such a way that the present was a festive, angry Parcells. And nothing quite says "this present is pretty lame" than a present wrapped in a full-page picture of former Utah Jazz center Greg Ostertag.

My brother, holding up the gift I wrapped in newspaper with a festive photo of football coach Bill Parcells.

And, I didn't stop at newspapers. One year, I wrapped a bunch of my presents in plastic yellow Nestle Quik containers. (At least the presents that would fit into a Nestle Quik container.)(And you'd be surprised at what you can stuff into one of those things.) In fact, I often would (and still do) use things like old cereal and Pop Tart boxes to put presents in. (Obviously, knowing what I think about wrapping paper, you can guess my feelings about the 13.2 billion* dollar "gift box" industry.) The Wife's comment this year was, "I can't believe how many presents you wrapped in cereal boxes." I like to use cereal boxes because they are already on hand, and they can add a little mystery to easily-guessed common-shaped presents like books, DVDs or CDs.

But, my attitude toward wrapping with newspaper changed a few years ago. My brother and his wife asked my nephew what they should get me for Christmas that year. He said, "Let's get Uncle Joe some wrapping paper, so he doesn't have to wrap all his presents in newspaper." And thus I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the thrall of the wrapping paper people.

Well, this year's Christmas is over and done with. Next year, my little girl will be three-and-a-half years old at Christmas. Maybe I can get her to help me wrap my presents. (I just hope she gets her present-wrapping skills from her Mom instead of my Mom.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Park Place

Sorry that I haven't posted anything for a while. I'll blame the rush of the holidays. Things get busy, and before you know it, three weeks have gone by.

Actually, I've spent most of the last three weeks circling the lot looking for a parking spot.

At Christmas approaches, shopping gets harder and harder to do. And one of the worst things about shopping is trying to find a parking spot. And one of the reasons parking spots are so hard to find is because most shopping mall parking lots seem as if they were designed by either six-year-olds or idiots. (Or, quite possibly, six-year-old idiots.)

You've been to these places. Parking spots at weird angles. Alternating between angled and straight-on parking for no apparent reason. Lines repainted in such a way that you can't tell which lines are the new ones and which ones are the old ones. Stop signs at intersections that don't need them. Intersections that need stop signs that don't have them. Intersections where three directions have stop signs, but the fourth doesn't, and no one knows why. Strange islands and cement barriers seemingly dropped at random from a low flying helicopter. These crazy lots make it difficult to park under optimal conditions. But, parking at Christmastime is far from optimal.

Add some snow. The snow gets plowed into piles that each occupy seven or eight parking spots. Some of the spots are only partially covered by the plowed piles, so you aren't sure if you can park there or not, often ending up with one of your tires on a snowbank two feet higher than the rest of the car.

One of my favorites is when people park before the snow is plowed and they can't see where the lines are. Then, later, when the snow melts and you can see that everyone else has parked totally askew of the lines, you are faced with a choice: park alongside the other cars, pretending you don't see the lines, or blaze the trail of being the first to park in the lines correctly, hoping that all subsequent parkers will follow your lead. (And, no matter which way you choose, when you come back to your car everyone else will have made the other choice, and you will look like an idiot.)

Parking lots are at their fullest during the Christmas shopping season, when the number of parking spots is often limited because of piles of snow. Why can't the busiest shopping days be during the summer when all the spots are available. It's kind of like fireworks season being in the middle of the summer, when a stray spark might ignite the dry grass and start a conflagration that could burn down the entire town. Why not switch and light fireworks in the winter when there's no fear of anything catching fire, and do the Christmas shopping in the summer when all the parking spots are available?

And all this is not even factoring in the human factor. People is stupid. Let me just say, if you see me walking towards my car and you think you want to wait for me to get in my car and pull out so you can take my parking spot, you better be prepared for a long wait. Especially if I have the kids with me. It takes approximately 43 minutes to get the kids out of the stroller, get the kids into their car seats, get the damn stroller folded up correctly (never as easy as it sounds), and then get myself into the car buckled and ready to go. Your best bet is to just keep on going and find another spot. But, if you do decide to wait for me to pull out, you dang-well better leave me enough room so I can actually get out of the spot without backing into you!

Parking this time of year is absolutely crazy! But I think I've found a solution. Next year, I'm going to do all my shopping online.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Part of this "Healthy" Breakfast

Apparently, I need to grow up.

The Wife says it's time for me to give up my sugar-coated, candy-colored kiddie breakfast cereals. She's probably right. But that doesn't mean it's going to be easy.

The Girl, our two-and-a-half year-old, has reached the age where she can tell the difference between the sugar-free, cardboard-ish stuff we feed her (Cheerios, Rice Krispies, etc.) and the good tasting stuff I like (Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms, Cookie Crisp). I'll pour her a bowl of her stuff, then pour me a bowl of mine, and she'll say, "I want some of that!" (Up until about a month ago when she started to get a handle on proper pronoun usage, if she wanted something she would ask you if you wanted it. As an example, if she wanted a chicken nugget, she would say, "Do you want a chicken nugget?" It was very cute. But now she's in full demand mode: "I want some of that!")

I don't blame her. Have you tried Cheerios lately? They are miniature donut-shaped pieces of cardboard, and they make your urine smell like....well, Cheerios. We started appeasing her by giving her Cheerios with a few Apple Jacks or Froot Loops on top. She likes that, and now asks for "Cheerios and Apple Jacks" by name. But, she likes my stuff even more.

The Wife doesn't want the kids constantly eating the sugar-coated stuff. I get that. But does that mean I have to give it up? Some of them I can understand:

--Lucky Charms: When I'm eating those marshmallows I can literally feel my teeth rotting away. (The same goes for Count Chocula and all the other marshmallow cereals.)
--Cookie Crisp: I can see where eating dessert for breakfast can set a bad precedent.
--Corn Pops and Honey Smacks: Since these used to be called "Sugar Pops" and "Sugar Smacks," they're still a little too blatantly sugary to trust.
--Froot Loops: So little to do with actual fruit that they had to spell it "Froot."
--Cap'n Crunch: This guy always creeped me out a bit, anyway. I mean, his eyebrows are on the OUTSIDE of his hat!!!
--Cinnamon Toast Crunch: Okay, this is where I draw the line!

What could be wrong with Cinnamon Toast Crunch? I mean, cinnamon is natural, right? To quote Webster* cinnamon is: "the aromatic inner bark of any of several lauraceous trees." [*I'm referring to Webster the dictionary guy, not Webster the little black kid adopted by white parents from the 80's television program.] Did you catch that? Cinnamon is tree bark! How can that be bad for you? And then there's the "toast" part. What could be heartier and healthier for you than toast?

Made with tree bark and "real toast!" What could be healthier?

I think the makers of Cinnamon Toast Crunch need to take a lesson from the marketing people behind pudding. There are actual advertisements that tell you a food is good for you because it is made with "real pudding." Really? As opposed to fake pudding? And since when is pudding good for you? It's not. Pudding is sugary goop. But, the "Pudding People" gave us Bill Cosby and his sweaters and cute little kids, and suddenly everyone is thinking that "real pudding" is healthy. If the "Cinnamon Toast People" started pushing that their product was made with "real toast," it might not be lumped together with all the other sugary cereals.

So, I'm having to say goodbye to many of the cereals that I love. Luckily for me, Frosted Mini-Wheats aren't on The Wife's hit list because, apparently, the "Wheats" part is enough to compensate for the "Frosted" part.

Also, I've taken to supplementing the dull taste of the healthy cereals by sprinkling them with a spoonful or two of chocolate Nesquik in order to turn the milk more chocolaty. And The Wife has no way of knowing I do this, because she is usually gone to work when I pour my cereal. (Wait..., she does read this blog, doesn't she? Curses!)

As I was writing this, The Wife came home from work after stopping at the grocery store on the way home. Guess what she bought for me? That's right, a couple of boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch!!! That means either that a) my wife loves me and wants me to be happy; or 2) she's trying to kill me and the means she has chosen is a slow, sugary death. Either way, I'm not going to complain. I'll just smile and enjoy my tree bark.

After all, it's made with "real toast."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Two-Step Never-Fail Weight Loss Program

Over 417 billion dollars* are spent annually in the United States on weight loss products and weight loss programs. (*On this blog, over 87.4% of all statistics are made-up numbers that I pulled out of my head.) That's a lot of money. It's being spent on Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and self-help books and abdom-i-crunchers.

People are fat and they want to lose weight. I know. I'm one of them. But, you don't have to spend all that money on those programs and books and such. I'm going to give you, right here for free on this blog, the "Slow Joe Two-Step Never-Fail Weight Loss Program." It's been working for me. I've lost over 30 pounds in a little over a year. And now you can have my secret of success free of charge!

Here is the Slow Joe Two-Step Never-Fail Weight Loss Program:

Step 1: Watch what you eat.

Step 2: Exercise.

You will see results! (Just not my results.)

There it is. It's simple and it's effective. And the thing is, we all know it's true. Deep down, we know that's all there is to it. We spend the money on the programs and the books and the products. We look at the Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley infomercial and think, "I can do that for 15 minutes a day, and then fold up the machine and slide it under the bed." (Note: those types of machines never get stored under the bed. Instead, they end up as basically an extension of your closet, a place to store clothes without the annoyance of having to use a hanger.) We're spending the money, but we don't really need to.

We know what we need to do, we just need the proper motivation to do it. My motivation for losing weight came last summer. We were on vacation at Bryce Canyon. We were having a good time, until I saw the picture. It was a picture of some guy holding my daughter. The guy looked a lot like me, except it appeared he had some kind of watermelon/basketball hybrid under his shirt. (It couldn't have been me in the picture, because there is no way I was ever that fat!)

Once you find your motivation, all you have to do is follow the two steps of my two-step program. Begrudgingly, I guess this is where all of the programs, books, and products can come into play. (Truth be told, a friend gave me a book which has helped me in getting a better handle on watching what I eat.) Early morning basketball has helped out with Step 2.

If the "Slow Joe Two-Step Never-Fail Weight Loss Program" isn't motivational enough, I've got another program you can try. It's the "Extreme Slow Joe Two-Step Never-Fail Weight Loss Program." It goes like this:

Step 1: Stop cramming so much junk in your pie hole!

Step 2: Get your lazy butt off of the couch and go do something!

Good luck!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Age Formula

Time flies. It seems like just yesterday that I was digging around in the back yard, trying to make roads in the dirt for my Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. (Actually, it doesn't seem like yesterday, but it doesn't seem like it was forty years ago, either!)

I've got to face it: I'm getting old. (Getting? Gotten.) I'm trying to hang on to my youth as best as I can. I married a much younger woman, and now I have two young children. They make me feel like a young father every day. Unfortunately, they also wear me out and keep me up at night, making me feel like an old man.

In an effort to stay young, I could get me a sports car, except that: a) I can't afford it; and 2) getting a sports car is a bit too much of a cliche for a middle-aged man trying to look young.
Will I look younger because I drive the car from Magnum PI, or will I look older because I actually remember watching Magnum PI? (Actually, I should look younger here, because this picture was taken over 15 years ago.)

Instead, I have to try to look young by driving a mini-van. (The mini-van is huge. Why do they call it a mini-van when it is so big? The Wife says it's because it is smaller than a cargo van. Then two minutes later she is bragging that it can hold nine people, a double stroller, five large suitcases, and a picnic lunch large enough for the entire BYU football team.)

So, here I am, a 44 year old man clinging desperately to his early forties. Early forties? Isn't 44 clearly in the mid-forties? Yes and no. I've got a whole early-mid-late formula worked out. Here it is:

Early forties: The day you turn 40 up until the day before you turn 45.
Mid-forties: The day you turn 42 up until the day before you turn 49.
Late-forties: The day you turn 46 up until the day before you turn 50.

This formula works for any decade, not just the forties. Obviously, there are some overlap areas. The overlap areas are:

The day you turn 40 up until the day before you turn 42: early-forties only.
The day you turn 42 up until the day before you turn 45: either early-forties or mid-forties.
The day you turn 45 up until the day before you turn 46: mid-forties only.
The day you turn 46 up until the day before you turn 49: either mid-forties or late-forties.
The day you turn 49 up until the day before you turn 50: sorry, you are late-forties.

These overlap areas give you a little freedom to say what you would more like to be. If you are a 22 year old trying to appear more mature, you could say you are in your mid-twenties. Others, like my brother, for instance, can hang on to his mid-forties for another few months, up until the day before he turns 49 in April. I'm in a similar situation. I could say I'm early-forties or mid-forties for a few more months, but then it's goodbye forever to the early-forties.

In the end, though, what do these age labels really mean? Nothing. We're only as old as we feel we are, right? So, I've just got to work real hard at ignoring the aching bones and the sore muscles. Maybe I'll take The Boy out in the backyard with some Matchboxes and Hot Wheels. It's been a while since I've made a good road.

[NOTE: I originally posted this well over four years ago, in November of 2010. I am re-posting it now, just hours after the mid-forties have been lost to me forever, and the fifties are just right around the corner.] 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Quest for the Ring

Here's a little story about love, loss, and other smelly things.

Two weeks ago today, I went to play basketball in the morning at the church. (There's a group of us that play a couple of times a week at 5:45 AM.) I used to always wear my wedding ring when I played, up until the time a couple of months ago when it flew off of my finger while going for a loose ball. (I've lost a bit of weight, and the ring isn't fitting as snug as it used to.) So, I took my ring off, put it by my cell phone, then played some basketball. (How well did I play? Well, my nickname is "The Liability," and it's not because I work in insurance.) As we finished up, I grabbed my ring, keys, and cell phone and headed back home.

My One True Ring.

Thirteen hours later, I had just finished eating my lunch at work. I went back down to my truck and I saw that my wedding ring was not on my finger. I had not noticed or given one thought to my wedding ring from the time I left basketball until the time I discovered it was missing. So, basically, I could have lost it anytime between morning basketball and lunch at work. But, I figured it was more likely that I had lost it recently, because I probably would have noticed earlier had it not been there all day.

I immediately knew that the first place I needed to look was in the garbage of the trucker's cave at work. A word of explanation: I work at a large frozen foods manufacturing plant. I drive truck. My job is to put all of the trailers that need to be loaded or unloaded into the dock doors, then pull those trailers out when the workers are finished with them. There are a lot of trucks and truck drivers in the yard on any day, and much more than usual on this particular day. To get their paperwork, each driver has to go to the office. The office is on the second floor, up a long flight of 35 stairs. There is no elevator. Truck drivers are not known for their physical fitness, and sometimes it's comical to see the drivers huffing and puffing at the top of the stairs. Other times, it's not comical; one of these days an out of shape driver is going to actually have a heart attack.

Anyway, at the top of the stairs, along with the office, is the restroom. The trucker's cave. It is a small five-foot by five-foot room with cinder block walls. There is a toilet and a sink. There is no hot water. And there is NOT a fan! At the best of times, truck drivers are not known for their fragrant bouquet. The trucker's cave manages to collect and magnify all of your favorite truck driver smells, including, but not limited to, body odor, cigarette smoke, and, of course, poop.

A while back my wedding ring came off while I was drying my hands with paper towels at the end of a visit to the trucker's cave. So, when I lost my ring this time, the first place I thought to look was in the trucker's cave garbage can. It was pretty full, but it was mostly discarded paper towels. I love my wife, and I wanted my wedding ring, so I started digging. I pulled wads and wads of paper towels, at various levels of moistness, out of the garbage can. Occasionally, there would be a glop of tobacco spit or some other foreign substance. And then, I hit the mother lode. My ring? No, I would not be that lucky. What I found was a pair of underwear. And this underwear was full of POOP!!! (You gotta love truck drivers!) [Note: sarcasm is my friend.]

The sad thing is, this was not the first time I had found poopy underwear in the trucker's cave garbage. A year or so ago, I saw a truck driver walking to his truck with what I thought were some odd looking shorts. On closer examination, I could see that this driver was wearing a sweatshirt as pants, one leg through the head hole, and another leg through one of the sleeves. (The other sleeve hole was acting as some kind of vent system.) I didn't think too much of it until an hour or so later when I went upstairs and opened the door to the trucker's cave, only to be overwhelmed by the smell of the driver's underwear, pants, and poop. (Looking back, the sweatshirt-as-pants was actually pretty ingenious.)

So, when I was searching for my ring and instead found a truck driver's discarded dirty underwear, I was not exactly thrilled. I worked around the underwear as best as I could, but my quest was fruitless. I then looked every other place that I thought my ring might be. No luck. Futile. My ring is gone.

I was very disappointed, and I wondered what The Wife would say when I told her I had lost my ring. Luckily, The Wife does not get too hung up on "stuff" and "things." She was sad for me, but she wasn't upset. Oh, but she was very, very worried about all the ladies hitting on me because they now think I'm single because I'm not wearing a ring. (Especially if I'm walking around in my styling new sweatshirt pants.)

[UPDATE: I actually found the ring a month or two later. We were cleaning the living room and I moved the couch to vacuum under it. The ring was under the couch. I have no idea how it got there, but I'm glad I didn't have to dig through more truck driver poop to find it!]

Saturday, November 6, 2010

No Time for "Joe Time"

I was talking on the phone with my friend Sheldon the other day. Somewhere in our conversation the topic of free time came up, and I whined--- I mean, pointed out that now that I am the father of two, I don't have much of it anymore. Sheldon laughed in my face. (Yes, it was over the phone, but I could tell he was laughing in my face.) And I don't blame him. I deserved it.
I didn't get married until I was 40. Back when I was single, I used to hang out a lot with Sheldon and his family. Often, when I went to go home, I would say I needed a little "Joe time." Unbeknownst to me, this would make Sheldon chuckle under his breath. (Sheldon is the father of four, with a grandbaby. Two of the kids are officially at home, and the other two are most often still at home. Sheldon hasn't had any "Sheldon time" since 1988.)
What is "Joe time?" It's just like "Hammer time," but without the big baggy gold pants. (Sorry. Bad joke, but I had to go there.) (Word to your mother.) No, "Joe time" was the time I used to get to spend lounging in front of the television, doodling around on the internet, cultivating my large comic book and vinyl record collections, hiking (I threw that in so you didn't think I was a total slug), and any other time-wasting, non-important activity that I used to enjoy. (I'm beginning to think "sleep" falls into that last category.)
I graduated college when I was 25 years old. That's when I was freed up to have all the "Joe time" I could handle. (While still in school there was always a nagging "I should be studying" feeling in the back of my head that could cut into pure "Joe time." True, I was usually able to beat that feeling back and do what I wanted, which was always something other than studying, but the nagging feeling was still there.) So, for a full 15 years, from the time I was 25 until the time I was 40, I had a wealth of "Joe time," limited only by the 40 to 60 hours a week that I was working. That's a lot of "Joe time."

Graduating college with my parents by my side. The beginning of "Joe Time."

And then, I got married. Suddenly, there was a lot less "Joe time," but there was a good amount of "Joe and The Wife time," and that was generally more fun than simple "Joe time." Then, The Wife got pregnant (do they know what causes that?) and "Joe time" was negatively effected. (Or is it affected? Either way, there was a lot less of it.) When the baby came, "Joe time" took a serious hit. Without warning, "Joe time" almost completely disappeared, surfacing only in congruence with "baby nap time."
And then came the second baby. And there went "Joe time." (You can hope that Baby 1 nap time and Baby 2 nap time can occur at the same time, but you certainly can't depend on it.) Pure "Joe time" is gone. Instead of the "I should be studying" nagging from school, there is the "I should be watching the kids" nagging in the back of my head. Even as I am writing this, I'm ''watching" the kids. They are both playing contentedly (a rare occurrence), but I worry that at any moment he'll start screaming for no reason, as he is often wont to do, or that she will get into something she shouldn't, as she is often wont to do.

So now, Sheldon can laugh at me. He knew this would happen. "Joe time" is gone. But, I love my wife and kids. How much? I love them so much that I'm willing to let "Joe time" go forever. Instead, I'll settle for the smiles and laughs and hugs and kisses. Yes, I think I'll settle for "Family time." (And I think I came out way on top in that trade off!)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween (With a banana on top of its head)

Well, another Halloween is over. (Not really. Today is Halloween. But, today is also Sunday, so, this being Utah, all of the festivities occurred yesterday.) Roni has been excited for Halloween for months, and now it is done. She wanted to be Cinderella, and she made a lovely little princess.
One of Roni's favorite things to do the past couple of months was to tell people what they should be for Halloween. She told her Uncle Baby-Hog (also known as Uncle John) that he should be Snow White. (Sorry, but he doesn't have the legs for it.) Cousin Ryan was told to be a "rectangle" for Halloween. She told her Aunt Kimmie she should, and I quote, "dress-a like a watermelon." And, I was told I should dress as a "stripe." She's a funny girl, and she makes us smile.
She also picked out little brother Buzz's costume. The Wife had Roni at Walmart, trying to find a Cinderella costume for her. (Yes, we shop at Walmart. What can I say? We are, after all, upper-middle white trash.) While there, Roni picked out a monkey outfit for Buzz. (He's six months old and had no say in the matter.) It was perfect for him, though, because he is a little monkey boy. When we got it on him, his monkey costume kinda looked like a bear, if not for the banana on top of his head. (For some reason, I found it incredibly funny to repeat the phrase "He's a monkey with a banana on top of his head," while using my best Ah-nold Schwarzenegger voice. It was silly, but it made him smile, it made me smile, it may have even made The Wife smile, so that made it worthwhile.) (And it goes a long way into showing how big of a doofus I am.)
So, it came time to get ready for actual trick-or-treating. It took The Wife a while to get Roni's hair just right so that it would hold her Cinderella princess crown without it falling out. We then ventured out into the neighborhood. (I was carrying Monkey-Boy Buzz.) It was a little bit cool out, with a nice little breeze. Until we got to our fourth house. That's when the sheets of rain came flying in sideways. And the hail. And the gale force winds. We stood on the porch of a neighbor we had never met, trying to figure out how we were going to make it the quarter mile back to our house in this deluge, when the neighbor took pity on us and invited us in. (And suddenly we found a new way to meet neighbors: stand on their porch in a hurricane-like downpour. If they let you in, they are good neighbors.) (Thanks, Francisco!)
It finally let up a bit, and we dashed back home. We dried off for a minute, then went back out in the comfort and warmth of the mini-van. Down at the local park there was a little neighborhood gathering (which we had not heard about.) We stopped and exchanged candy with some other local families. And saw a big, giant double rainbow, which was quite beautiful. (Double rainbow! What does it mean?)
We then headed off to see the In-Laws. Roni was very excited to go trick-or-treating at Grammy D and PopPop's house. When we got to the door, Roni's eyes got as big as saucers. (Or bowls. Maybe even as big as plates.) Knowing that Roni was dressing as Cinderella, Grammy D made a costume so she looked just like Cinderella's Fairy Godmother! It was awesome, and Roni was duly impressed. She looked up at Grammy D and excitedly said, "Bibbidi-bobbido-boo!" Throughout the rest of the evening, whenever Roni would look at Grammy D, she would get a big smile and say "bibbidi-bobbidi-boo." It was very cute and funny. (Grammy D is an awesome grammy.)
The Wife and PopPop then took Roni and Buzz out to trick-or-treat a few more houses in the neighborhood. (PopPop went instead of me, because Roni requested it that way. I was only slightly hurt and offended.) (It's great that she loves her PopPop so much.) And then, Halloween was done and the costumes came off.
There was still one thing left to do, though. Unfortunately, our little Roni has a severe nut allergy. The doctor told us that as little as one-eighth of a peanut could cause a reaction that could kill her. So, we take it pretty seriously. While Roni was trick-or-treating, she was wearing gloves, and she wasn't allowed to eat any of her candy. The Wife made sure that all of our candy was nut-free and Roni-safe. So, at the end of the night it was time for the candy exchange. We went through Roni's pumpkin and took out all the unsafe candy. For every piece we took out, we replaced with a safe piece. It's kind of sad that we have to do this, but the benefit for me is that I get to eat all of the nut-contaminated candy. (Sadly, there were no Reese's. I was really looking forward to some Reese's. Doesn't anybody give out Reese's anymore?) Anyway, Roni still ended up with lots of candy, and she enjoyed it.

So, I guess all I need to do now is start working on my "stripe" costume so I can be ready for next year.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Super Dad: Doing It All-Most

It might not be the best way to start this blog. You might, from the get-go, think I am an egotistical jerk. But, from the "being a dad" department, I was really hitting on all cylinders today! If I do say so myself (and I'm about to), I was pretty darn amazing today. What was so awesome about my parenting today? Well, for starters, I was actually awake for most of the day. (For me, a big plus.) What exactly did I do? Well, when Roni (our 2.5 year old daughter) woke up, I got her on the potty and changed her wet Pull-Up. (We thought we had her potty trained a few weeks ago, but she's had a relapse. It looks like we're going to have to ride this Potty Train through a few more stops.) (When we first started potty training, Roni thought there was an actual locomotive called the "Potty Train." She's awesome.)
I got her in clothes and fed her breakfast. I got her little brother, Buzz (six-months old), his bottle and fed him. I played with both kids. I gave Buzz a bath, then put him in clothes. I gave Roni her bath and put her in clothes. I got Buzz down for a quick nap. (Not as easy as it sounds.) I loaded both kids up into the mini-van. (The mini-van is actually pretty big. I don't think there's much "mini" about it. But, that's a subject for another day.) With both kids loaded up, I took them to our small-town public library for Thursday morning story time. I wrangled both kids, a diaper bag, and a pile of returning books into the library. I carried both kids up the stairs to the story-time room, and kept Buzz entertained while Roni enjoyed the stories and songs. (There were about 20 kids at Story Time. I was the only dad there.) I helped Roni make her little trick-or-treat bag, gluing the pumpkin and ghost she had colored onto the sides of it. After story-time, I helped Roni pick out a few books (while carrying Buzz), then picked out a book for The Wife and a book for me. (I got To Kill a Mockingbird. Can you believe I'm a 44 year old college graduate and have never read it? I hear that not only is it good, it's also good for you. (Kinda like Life cereal.) So, I thought I'd give it a shot.)
We left the library, went to the bank, stopped at the mailbox, then came home. I then sorted the dirty laundry in the kids room. Four piles: 1) clothes for Roni, 2) clothes for Buzz, 3) towels, and 4) clothes with poop stains. I sprayed down the poopy clothes with stain remover, then started doing the three loads of laundry. (I put the poopy stuff in with Buzz's clothes, since most of them were his, anyway.) I then made lunch. (Turkey and Swiss sammiches in the sandwich maker, Dora the Explorer soup, and bananas.) I fed Buzz another bottle.
I then had to deal with a poopy-pants accident. (It's amazing how that poop manages to get everywhere!) I did a load of dishes. I got Roni down for a "nap." ("Nap" in quotation marks means she's supposed to be napping, but isn't actually asleep.) I then fought with Buzz until he finally went down for a nap.
The Wife came home from work (she teaches school), and I got some laundry folded and put away. Grammy D (The Wife's mother) stopped by for a quick visit, ending Roni's pretend "nap." After Grammy D went home, I got Buzz down for another nap. I then picked up in the living room, with some help from Roni. (Normally, I would call it "help" from Roni, but this time she actually did help.)
After dinner, I did another load of dishes. I took care of Buzz's diaper, and changed him into pajamas. I changed Roni into her pajamas, read her scriptures, brushed her teeth, and put her to bed. Then, as I started typing this blog entry, I was handed a crying Buzz in order to get him to sleep. (He doesn't go to sleep well for The Wife, because when she is holding him he just wants to eat.) So, after a little rocking and pounding (he likes to have his back pounded), he finally went to sleep, and I took him back upstairs and put him to bed.

Seems like I did it all today, doesn't it?

Not even close.

That's the problem. I was doing a fantastic job all day long, pretty much the best that I possible can, and yet I didn't come close to doing it all by myself. I didn't mention how Kimmie helped Roni go potty (after a pee accident) and then watched her while I made lunch. (Kimmie is The Wife's sister. She lives in our basement apartment and watches the kids on the two days a week when I work the day shift.) I didn't mention that Grammy D also took Roni to the potty (after another pee accident), and she also read books to Roni and entertained Buzz. And, I also didn't mention all the things The Wife did. (I'll try to mention them now, but I'm sure I'll forget some things.) She fed Buzz in the morning. She had plenty of milk pumped and ready for the bottles I gave Buzz throughout the day. She worked hard all day to help provide for the family. She fed Buzz two or three more times after she got home from work. She made homemade pizza and cinnamon sticks for dinner. (I'd say the cinnamon sticks were "to die for," but that's not accurate. They were "to live for.") She made some baby food for Buzz. She made some cookie dough for tomorrow. She took care of yet another poopy-pants accident by Roni. (Yep, it looks we might be wise to invest in tickets for the sleeper car on that Potty Train.) She got the crying Buzz-boy almost to sleep, so it only took me a couple of minutes to get him the rest of the way. I'm sure she did a lot of other things, too, but it's late and my mind is bit addled.
So, what I'm saying is, even on a day when I was at the top of my game, I still wasn't even close to being able to do it all. I'm just a simple Dad trying to struggle through raising these two kids. It's a good thing they are such great kids; it's a good thing I have such great family support; and it's a great thing I have such a wonderful wife!
I need all the help I can get.