Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gazoon Tights

I have a question. What is the proper thing to say if someone sneezes?

Actually, the correct spelling of the word is gesundheit. Really??? "Gesundheit???" I could have tried spelling it one thousand four hundred and twenty eight different ways before ever stumbling onto that spelling. It doesn't make much sense. (And I've never understood it when people say if you don't know how to spell a word you should look it up in the dictionary. How can I look it up in the dictionary if I don't know how to spell it? If I knew what to look for enough to look up a word, I wouldn't have to look it up in the first place!)

Gesundheit is a German word. Why are we using it? Didn't we beat the Germans in "the war to end all war" (World War I) and "the big one" (World War II) so they wouldn't conquer the world and we didn't have to learn their language? Even though my grandmother was of German descent (and I loved her very much), I still don't trust the Germans. For one thing, they tried to take over the world. Twice. For another thing, they think David Hasselhoff is talented.

To be honest, the only German word I want to be using on a regular basis is "bratwurst."

Quick quiz: What does gesundheit mean in German? Is it:
A) God bless you
B) Good health
C) Look out! Someone is sneezing!
4) Man, that's a lot of snot!
5) The bathtub is plugged again.

The answer, which came as a surprise to me, is "good health." (I always thought it meant "God bless you.") When you look at it, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to shout "good health" whenever someone sneezes. Is it a boast? (As in, "I have good health, but you don't.") Or is it a genuine wish for the good health of the sneezer? (As in, "I wish you good health, so you don't sneeze all over me again!")

I think we could probably do without gesundheit altogether. We could easily replace it with "God bless you," or "bless you," or "look out," or "sorry about your sneeze," or even make up a new word, like "kasneezers." (I've personally try to say kasneezers whenever anyone sneezes. It hasn't caught on yet. I usually get blank stares from confused people.) (But then, I get that a lot no matter what I'm trying to say.)

There's only one thing holding me back from going on a full frontal assault against the word gesundheit: it reminds me of my daughter, and it makes me smile. Let me explain. A while back, when Roni was about two years old, I was getting her ready for church one Sunday. I had gotten her in her church dress, and was starting to put tights on her to cover her legs. She looked at the tights, turned to me, and asked, "Are these gazoon tights?" Gazoon tights!!!  I don't know what a "gazoon" is, but I know that girl is hilarious! (It was about this same time when she wondered why, if we had "Mini-wheats" why didn't we have "Mickey-wheats?" She's always been pretty clever.)

So, whenever she wears tights anymore, we wonder if they are regular tights or if they are "gazoon tights."

We don't say "gesundheit" (or "gazoon tights") when she sneezes anymore, though. Instead we say, "Don't just stand there! Get a tissue and wipe you nose!" Up until this point in her life, whenever she has sneezed she has had an adult run to her, tissue in hand, to wipe her nose, face, and wherever else it was needed. But, now that she is almost five years old, she is going to have to start taking care of this herself. She hasn't quite grasped this concept yet, and when she sneezes she stands and waits to be waited upon.

But, she's a smart girl and she'll figure it out. (Eventually.) Other mysteries she might (eventually) figure out? How to spell gesundheit. What a gazoon is. And, perhaps the greatest mystery of all, why the Germans like David Hasselhoff.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The PlayPlace Is the Place to Play

One of my fears in life is that someday I'll end up the subject of a headline like this:

Fat Man Gets Stuck In McDonald's PlayPlace


Lumbering Oaf Collapses McDonald's PlayPlace, Seven Injured


Missing Man Found After Five Days of Wandering In Tubes at McDonald's PlayPlace

Back in my day, there weren't playgrounds at fast food restaurants. Our biggest thrill would be to get to sit at the table with the two swivel chairs. (We would shout, "Oooo, look! Twisty chairs! That's swell!") (We said things like "that's swell" and "neato" back then. It was a long, long time ago.)

The kids really like to go to McDonald's. There are three reasons for this:

1. The food.
2. The Happy Meal toy.
3. The PlayPlace.

Of course, that's not the order in which the kids like McDonald's. That goes something like this:

1. The PlayPlace.
2. The PlayPlace.
3. The PlayPlace.
4. The PlayPlace.
5. The PlayPlace.
6. The PlayPlace.
7. The Happy Meal toy.
8-15. PlayPlace or Happy Meal toy.
16. Ronald McDonald.
17. Grimace.
18. Hamburglar.
19. The food.

Not every McDonald's has a PlayPlace. Believe me, we have scouted out all of the McDonald's in the tri-state* area, and we know which ones have PlayPlaces and which ones don't. Unfortunately for us, the McDonald's closest to us does NOT have a PlayPlace, so we don't go there very often. (It's usually worth the extra ten miles for our sanity.) [*What exactly is the "tri-state area?" I don't know. You have my permission to pick any of your three favorite states.]

We are mean and make our kids eat all (or most) of their food before they get the Happy Meal toy and/or go to the PlayPlace. It used to be that, with two kids meals involved, I could poach three or four McNuggets and several fries for myself. But, as the kids get older, they are leaving less and less for the old man to snatch. (Roni used to take one bite out of each McNugget in an attempt to keep me from snagging them.) (Like bite marks have ever stopped me from eating something.)

Once they've eaten enough to earn their freedom, it's time to take off their shoes and attack the PlayPlace. The shoes come off the feet and go into the "Sneaker Keeper." The "Sneaker Keeper" is a wonderful place, where kids put their shoes while they go to play, and where parents can go "shopping" for new shoes for their kids if they so choose. ("Sneaker Keeper" is also a registered trademark. I am not making this up.) One pair of shoes fits in each cubby of the "Sneaker Keeper." If two shoes don't fit into one cubby, you are probably too big to play at the PlayPlace.

That brings me to the list of rules for the PlayPlace. The old adage is that "rules are meant to be broken." No place is this more true than at the PlayPlace. The list of rules includes things like this:

*Children must be supervised by an adult at all times--Not likely. At any given PlayPlace there are probably at least three children who were dropped off there last Tuesday.

*Equipment is designed for children ages 4-12. There is a small children area designed for children ages 2-4.--I guess I'm guilty here. I let my 2-year-old go into the bigger kid area. Often that's because 5'10", 267 pound 13-year-olds are plodding their way through the little kid area. (More than once I've been tempted to throw my weight around at a too-big kid endangering the tiny ones in the little kid area, but I'm afraid of the assault charge and the headlines that might accompany it: "Grown Man Arrested for Beating Up 10-Year Old at McDonald's PlayPlace.")

*Please remove shoes and place in the Sneaker Keeper. Socks must be worn at all times.--Go to any PlayPlace and you'll find just about every possible permutation: Kids wearing shoes. Kids wearing just socks. Kids wearing no shoes or no socks. Kids with one shoe on and one sock on. Kids with one bare foot and one in a shoe. Kids with both feet in Chicken McNugget boxes. Anything is possible.

*Slide one at a time in a forward, seated position, feet first. Please no climbing on or up the slides.--Apparently the people who wrote up these rules have never actually seen kids play on slides before. Either that or they think this will be the only slide in the world that no kid will climb up, or go down head first or on their belly.

*No climbing or standing on the outside of the play equipment.--There is always at least one member of the Future Rock Climbers of America who feels the need to show off his climbing prowess on the outside of the equipment.

*Please no running.--Because kids at play time are well known for strolling slowly and being thoughtful and patient.

*Please no food, gum, or drinks on the play equipment.--This is a fast food establishment. French fries are known to multiply. They appear at various odd places in the PlayPlace, just like they randomly appear at the bottom of your drive-thru take-out bag. And that's not even mentioning the half-eaten burgers, ketchup (in both stain and packet form), and sticky lakes of spilled soda.

*Please do not bring any toys into the play area.--Most of these kids just opened their Happy Meal toy. So yes, they will be carrying the toy with them wherever they go (at least for the next 35 minutes or so, when they realize the toy is lame.) (And speaking of Happy Meal toys, am I the only one who always has to look at the directions in order to be able to snap the stupid little toys together? And look again to figure what the toy is supposed to do?)

So, the rules are more like "suggestions" that rarely get followed. Kids will do whatever they want.

It seems like, as the years go by, the PlayPlaces get more and more advanced. More slides. More tubes and pods and portals. They're almost to the point of being as complex as the labyrinth that housed the Minotaur. I'm afraid of ever having to go in there after my kids, because, besides worrying about getting stuck or breaking the tubes because I'm too heavy, I also worry about finding my way out. (Maybe if I leave a trail of Fish McBites behind me I can see where I have been, because I wouldn't have to worry about anyone eating them.) (Fish McBites? Really?)

When I'm with the kids at a PlayPlace, I always try to maintain contact with them, talking with them and such. I do this for two reasons: 1) So I can see where they are at all times so I don't lose them in the maze. And B) So I don't seem like some random creepy guy hanging out by the PlayPlace.

And sometimes, when I'm watching the kids in the PlayPlace, I'll sit in a swivel chair. (Because those twisty chairs are neato!)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Fixer Upper

My philosophy about blind dates was pretty simple. I wasn't opposed to them because I figured this:

The best that can happen is I find my soulmate; the worst that can happen is I die (and we all have to do that eventually, anyway.)

Ah, the set-up. The blind date. The fix-up. (I was fixed up so often I was literally a walking, breathing, "fixer upper.") Everyone seems to think they are a matchmaker. I was single for a long, long time (I didn't get married until I was 40), so I heard this a lot: "Hey, I know someone who would be perfect for you!"

Perfect? Not likely. Most people's idea of someone "perfect" for their single friend can be summed up by this simple equation:

1 (random single person) + 1 (random single person) = 1 (Perfect Couple)

Singleness is usually the single attribute required for someone to think someone else will be "perfect" for you. Occasionally, prospective matchmakers get extra creative and add a second attribute. My mother-in-law, who stands at over six feet tall, relates that people would be smugly sure that their fix-up for her would be perfect because he was both single and tall.

I'm not sure why it is, but people who are in a relationship seem to want to get people who aren't in one into one. I have an aunt who likes to brag about her matchmaking prowess, saying that she has introduced about a dozen couples to each other. (She then adds, "Although, I shouldn't count Jasper* and Brenda*, because he turned out to be such a jerk.) [*Names have been changed to protect the jerk (and his wife.)]

Unfortunately (for her, anyway) I proved difficult for her to fix up for a variety of reasons (besides being a nerd and a doofus.) Most notably, because she lived in Boise and I lived in Salt Lake City. A Boise-to-Salt Lake relationship might work just fine for a budding college athletics rivalry, but not for a budding romance, especially when the two parties are only minimally interested in each other to begin with.

Over the years I've been on my fair share of fix-ups. They started in college. (There were no blind dates in high school because, growing up in a small town like Arimo, I already knew who every girl was.) (And worse yet, they knew who I was, too.)

The first blind date I remember, I was fixed up by my college roommate's married friend with a girl from one of her classes. My date was a very beautiful young woman who happened to be a former gymnast. (She had, a few years earlier, been in competitions with Mary Lou Retton!)

I thought the date went rather well. (I made it through the entire evening without farting or spilling anything on my shirt!) So, a couple of days later I tried to call her to set up a second date. No one answered. I tried again. Still no answer. I tried yet again. Her roommates said I had just missed her. I tried several more times. She was never home. Or, she was busy. She was washing her hair. She was washing the dishes. She was giving her cat a manicure. She had a mouth full of Skittles and literally couldn't talk. For whatever reason, she simply could not come to the phone. I bumped into her once on campus and tried to talk to her, but she was late for something and had to get going. "Maybe later," she said. I never saw her or talked to her ever again. It is quite possible that at the end of the semester she entered the witness protection program to get away from me. (I hope she likes her new life in Nebraska.)

A few years later I was fixed up by my aunt (a different aunt than the one I mentioned earlier) with a gal she worked with at the college. My date was a tall (6'1"), attractive woman who played on the college volleyball team. We went on a double date with my aunt and uncle, which I thought would be awkward, but wasn't too bad because my aunt and uncle are pretty cool.

I thought the date went rather well. (I made it through the entire evening without burping or talking with my mouth full!) So, a few days later I called her to try to set up a second date. Unfortunately, her team had away games on seemingly every single night for the next three months. I wished her good luck with her games. She replied by saying, "Good luck with...your truck driving."

Now, maybe I was just being overly sensitive about my job, but I took "Good luck with...your truck driving" to mean "You're just a truck driver. I have no interest in you." Looking back, I probably misjudged her. She was probably just trying to be nice, but didn't know exactly what to say to me. Maybe I should have tried harder to persue her. (After all, it would have been more difficult to hide a 6' 1" woman in the witness protection program.)

As time went by, my singleness became legendary. (Okay, not exactly legendary, but at the very least well known.) Everyone knew about that "weird old guy who is still single." So, I would get blind date offers from strange and unusual places featuring strange and unusual match-ups. One time I was fixed up with my friend's sister's chiropractor's sister-in-law! (I am not making that up.) Once again, she was a perfectly attractive woman (I think she was a nurse), and once again I was unable to make a connection with her.

After that date (the one with my friend's sister's chiropractor's sister-in-law), people still talked about setting me up, but few people actually followed through with the fix-ups. People would mention that they knew other single people that would be "perfect" for me, but they wouldn't actually set me up with them. For my part, I made little to no effort to help these people. With my blind date track record I saw little use in trying. I had pretty much given up and had settled into my role as "weird, nerdy uncle." If people wanted to fix me up, they would have to do all of the arranging for the date. I would show up if I was set up, but I wasn't going to call anyone I didn't know.

I was locked into this status for the next several years. People talked about setting me up, but nobody actually did. And, I didn't do anything on my own, either. I went several years without going on a date. And then, a co-worker set me up with his sister. We double-dated with my co-worker and his wife.

I thought the date went rather well. (I didn't fart, burp, or pee my pants!) And then, when I called her to set up a second date, she actually answered her phone! I was so excited to be going on a date that I overdid things. I set up a triple date with two of my best friends and their wives. So, here was my poor date, quiet and shy, getting completely overwhelmed by these two couples who have been married for 18 or 19 years. She didn't get a word in. She didn't even take off her windbreaker. I, obviously, had no idea what I was doing.

Looking back, I think this date with my co-worker's sister was a very good thing. (For me. Not for her.) I got some of my spastic "Look at me, I'm going on a date!" energy out of my system so that when someone fixed me up again a few months later I was a little less gonzo.

That someone was the wife of one of my best friends from high school. For the purposes of this story, we'll call her "Terri." (Which makes sense, because that's what her name is.) Terri was neighbors with a cute, nerdy schoolteacher. Unlike many fixer uppers who thought that any two single people would be "perfect" together, Terri knew each of us well enough to see some possible compatibilities.

We were at a get-together of the Arimo Mafia (the four buddies from my small town who grew up together) when Terri mentioned that she thought she knew of someone to fix me up with. I shrugged. Whatever. I had heard it all before. I didn't think anything would come of it.

Still, I wasn't too surprised when I got an invitation a few weeks later to have dinner with Terri and her husband (we'll call him "Chris") (because that's what his name is.) When she invited me, Terri did not mention that she had invited someone else. But, I knew that was the reason for the invite. I thought it would be funny if I brought someone with me. (It would have been funny, but it never would have happened. Because it would have involved me finding a date for myself.)

The four of us had a nice dinner and played some games. The four of us being Terri, Chris, some girl named Amber, and I. I thought it went rather well. (No inappropriate bodily functions or discharges.) But, there was also no "love at first sight" or fireworks. (Those would come later.) When I left that night I thought of it like just about every other blind date I had been on. Despite what it sounds like from what I wrote above, I actually didn't drive all of my fix-ups into the witness protection program. Most of the time I left the date not being able to tell if the girl had any interest in me. So, more often than not, I let it drop right there. Asking for a second date meant putting forth a little effort and, even more damning, putting myself out there for an opportunity to be rejected. So, I usually just let it be.

This time, however, things were different. The next day, I got an e-mail from Amber. It was a quick, simple e-mail that effortlessly conveyed this message: Nice meeting you. I had a good time. I wouldn't mind getting together again some time. (I later found out that Amber, with Terri's help, had spent a good bit of time carefully choosing every word of that e-mail so that it would sound quick, simple and effortless.) (I now call it the Most Important E-Mail I Have Ever Received!)

This was new territory! A blind date had actually expressed interest in a second date! (Okay, this wasn't the first time a girl had been interested in me after the first date. But it was one of the first times it had happened with a girl that I was interested back in.)

We sporadically exchanged e-mails for the next couple of months, then finally got together for our first real date. And the rest, as they say, is history. (But don't worry, you won't have to remember any of it for the test, because you'll be lucky if your history professor gets as far as the Vietnam War before the semester runs out.)

So, for those of you who are still single, remember my philosophy about blind dates. (The best that can happen is you find your soulmate; the worst that can happen is that you die.) I went on a lot of blind dates and I never died. Not once. Not even a little bit. So, I guess from my experience I'd say that if you go on enough blind dates, that "soulmate" thing might actually work out for you. (It did for me!)

[Special message to Amber: Happy Valentine's Day, SweetSweet!!!]

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Family Super Bowl Party (A Running Diary)

The Super Bowl has an interesting holiday-ish feel to it. There are a lot of different angles to it. The game. The commercials. The half-time entertainment. The food. There is something there for everyone to latch onto.

Since I've been married, most of my Super Bowl watching experiences have involved my kids, my wife, her parents, and her sister, none of whom are very big fans of the NFL. This year was no different. (We were invited to my brother's house, but the 4:30 PM kickoff didn't jibe with the 1:00 PM-4:00 PM church schedule we are on, combined with the hour drive between our houses.)

So, we set things up to have our Super Bowl "party" here at our house, mostly because we now have the big screen television. (For years The Wife promised me we could get a big screen television as soon as the Minnesota Vikings made it to the Super Bowl. Happily, The Wife waived that requirement last year because: 1) our old tv died, and B) she had seen enough Viking football to realize she didn't want to wait that long.)

This year, I thought it might be fun to chronicle the game and the party, so I borrowed (well, actually stole) an idea from Bill Simmons, also known as "The Sports Guy" on and I decided to do a running diary of our Super Bowl party. (You know what, I'm going to go back to saying I'm just borrowing the concept. He and his millions of readers can have it back as soon as me and my seven readers are through with it.)

So, without further ado, here is the running diary of our Super Bowl party:

4:01--Church lets out. I stand at the door with the 4-year-olds that I teach, waiting for their parents to come pick them up.

4:15--All the kids from my class have been picked up, our kids are gathered and loaded up, and we finally leave the church house to come home.

4:20--Work on changing my clothes and getting the kids changed, as well. I decide to wear my #40 Jim Kleinsasser Minnesota Vikings jersey because A) if I waited to wear it when the Vikings are in the Super Bowl, I might never get to wear it, and 2) I had already worn my #28 Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings jersey the day before, to commemorate A.P. being named the NFL MVP.

4:31--The actual game kicks off. No one in our house is watching. We have it recording on the DVR. (It has been several years since we started watching the game when it actually started.)

4:31--The Wife, from the kitchen where she is working on food, yells this in my direction: "Joe, either throw the cat outside or clean up the cat barf!"

4:32--It's just a hairball. I clean it up, go wash my hands, and let the cat stay inside.

4:37--Grammy and PopPop (my in-laws) arrive, bringing lots of food with them. (Turkey, pastrami, cheese, soda, banana bread, bar cookies, a shrimp tray, pizza bagel bites, and cheesy-bacony tater skins.) (Meanwhile, The Wife has made homemade hoagie rolls for sammiches and cheesy Rotel dip for tortilla chips, along with other sammich fixins and chips.)

4:44--While taking some of the food downstairs to the family room, I discover another cat hairball on the stairs. I quietly clean it up (and wash my hands again) before anyone else notices it. (Especially the kids.)

4:58--Finish making my two big, overflowing sammiches upstairs. (The sammich fixins are upstairs. The rest of the food is now downstairs.) (And yes, I know the word is spelled "sandwich," but I prefer "sammich." I'm hoping that if enough people join in with this new formation of the word that we can get it changed forever, like when we, as a nation, were able to successfully change "catsup" into "ketchup.")

5:00--Sister-in-law Kimmie walks in just as we start the game on the DVR. Two-year-old Buzz, when asked who he wanted to win before even seeing the teams, says "Purple." Roni and I want the 49ers to win. Roni wants San Francisco because it is the opposite of what Buzz wants. (And because it is closer to Disneyland.)  Everyone else is cheering for the Ravens. This is mostly because they are all BYU football fans, and former BYU tight end Dennis Pitta plays for Baltimore. Also, the kid from The Blind Side, Michael Oher, has some sway. I, personally, am leaning only slightly towards the 49ers because I'm not very fond of the history and histrionics of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. (I'm sorry, but no linebacker should be known for his own pre-game dance.)

5:09--Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin scores the first touchdown of the game, making himself the early leader in the clubhouse for the Super Bowl MVP award. (You know, if they were to ever give that to someone who isn't a quarterback.)

5:10--The first commercial of the Super Bowl is...very disappointing. It's just a standard beer commercial, featuring a bunch of pretty people getting drunk. The only difference is all these people (and the beer bottle itself) are dressed in black. (I'm supposing this makes Black Crown Beer more "hip" or something.)

5:22--The card table with all the food on it is not blocking the view of the television. But, (or should I say Butt,) whenever anyone gets up to get more food, their posterior does block the view. So, we move the food table to a place more out of the way. (The Wife pauses the game while we move the table, so that I don't get distracted and dump the food off while trying to move it.)

5:24--The 49ers kick a field goal to get on the board.

5:26--The self-promotional CBS ad for The Big Bang Theory gets the biggest laugh of the night so far. (It helps that most of us are nerds and relate to the characters on the show.) (Except for my sister-in-law Kimmie, who relates to Penny on the show.)

5:30--I finish my second big, delicious hoagie sammich. I am completely satisfied and full. Will I stop eating? Of course not!

5:41--Vernon Davis is having his way with the Ravens secondary. He's making a case for a possible Super Bowl MVP award. (You know, if they were to ever give it to someone who isn't a quarterback.) (Vernon Davis. I wonder if anyone ever calls him "VD" for short?)

5:43--49ers fumble! (Even though he's not the one who fumbled, this is still going to hurt the possibility of a VD MVP.)

5:48--Dennis Pitta makes a nine-yard catch, to cheers from everyone in my basement. Roni says, "Uh-oh!" Everyone turns to her to see what is wrong. "He fell down," Roni explains, referring to Pitta.

5:56--Pitta catches a one-yard touchdown to put the Ravens up 14-3! BYU football hasn't been this unstoppable since Robbie Bosco in 1984. (Or maybe Steve Young in that Super Bowl against the Chargers.)

5:59--49ers QB Kaepernick overthrows Randy Moss and is intercepted by Baltimore's Ed Reed. The Wife asks, "Didn't Randy Moss used to play for the Vikings?" I am surprised and impressed.

6:15--Taco Bell commercial featuring old people acting like hooligans. I really like this commercial, mostly because the big, behemoth green car they are driving reminds me of the car I drove my freshman year at college. (I named the car "The Hulk." It got about 12 miles per gallon.) (On the highway.)

6:18--Jacoby Jones scores a long touchdown on a ball severly underthrown by Joe Flacco.

6:28--Halftime! (21-6 Ravens.) We fast forward through the halftime commentary. (No one in our house is interested in anything Shannon Sharpe has to say.) The biggest surprise of the game so far: I have not yet had a single chip! (Oh, don't worry, I've had plenty of everything else.)

6:30--We do not fast forward through Beyonce's halftime show. Everyone wanted to fast forward through it, except for Kimmie, who is a Beyonce fan. I see bits and pieces of her show, as I spend much of halftime putting away perishable foodstuffs and attending to kids. (I will say, however, that Beyonce is certainly more attractive than Prince, The Who, Tom Petty and everyone else they've thrown up on the stage the last few years.)

6:32--This exchange happens:
Me: "Roni, did you go potty?"
Roni: "Not all the way."
I have no idea what that means.

6:46--Jacoby Jones runs the second half kickoff back 109 108 yards for a touchdown! Coupled with his 56-yard TD catch late in the first half, this all but clinches him the Super Bowl MVP award. (You know, if they ever gave it to anyone other than a quarterback.)

6:51--The lights go out at the Superdome.

6:55--Steve Tasker is probably the greatest special teams player in the history of the game. (I think he should be in the Hall of Fame.) If you need someone to cover a punt or break up the wedge, he's your guy. However, he is not the person you want holding the only working microphone when there is a power outage at the Super Bowl. (Sorry, Steve.)

6:56--We are very glad we started the game a little late. We fast forward through most of the blackout.

7:02--We are now caught up with the rest of the world. (I miss my fast forward button.)

7:06--PopPop wonders if the blackout was caused by someone from a Buffalo Wild Wings commercial.

7:07--Grammy wonders how many of next year's Super Bowl commercials will be about the blackout.

7:08--How bored are we? We are comparing the ties worn by Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. The consensus is, even though we aren't sure about the color combination, we prefer Nantz's striped tie.

7:16--The game is going again, and they are repeating commercials that they ran during the blackout. I feel very powerless that I can't fast forward through them.

7:20--Roni holds up a chip, waves it at the television, and says, "Eat it, crowd!" (It's nice that she's trying to share.)

7:31--People at our party are starting to lose interest in the game. Kimmie has left for a few minutes. Buzz has been sent upstairs to his room because he thought it would be a good idea to throw a cup full of soda.

7:32--It's always great when the punter makes a tackle!

7:36--Commercial break: There is a fish serenading a bottle of beer. I have no idea what this means. (This makes me want to buy the beer because.....?)

7:58--There is a half-eaten chip on my leg. Buzz (back from his banishment) put it there. (I find that as a parent, when I am not paying complete attention, my lap will become a depository for whatever things the kids may be carrying.)

7:59--The Paul Harvey "God Made a Farmer" commercial airs. I immediately think of my Dad. Not only because my Dad was a Farmer, hard-working and tough, but because when I was growing up on the farm we used to listen to Paul Harvey's news and commentary whenever we had the chance. It came on at noon and lasted for fifteen minutes, so if we were in a position to take our lunch break, we would do so then so we could listen to Paul Harvey. (It's amazing how much a voice from the past can take you back.) I loved every single thing about this commercail, until the very end when the farmer's son says he wants to be a farmer, too. And then I felt guilty for not being that son.

8:19--Kimmie is bored. She has some of her make-up out. Buzz walks up to me and says, "I'm a lip gloss!" (Roni got some lip gloss, so Buzz felt he needed some, too.)

8:24--Buzz says, "I want to play Iron Man and Hulk!" A few years ago I made the comment that as a kid I had always wanted some "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots." So, my mother-in-law got it for me for Christmas. Buzz calls the red robot "Iron Man" and the blue robot "Hulk." So, I get "Iron Man and Hulk" down. Grammy and Buzz take on Kimmie and Roni in a heated robot fight on the floor in front of the television as the game on the screen is reaching its dramatic conclusion.

8:36--It's fourth down and the game is on the line. And the 49ers call....a fade pass? Really? Yes, there was defensive holding that should have been called, but I still don't like the fade pass, especially on fourth down. There is just too much that can go wrong.

8:41--As time is running down, PopPop is impressed that I bring up the possibility of Baltimore taking an intentional safety before the announcers do. (Ouch. I think I pulled something while patting myself on the back just now.) The Ravens decide on the safety, and it is perfectly executed.

8:46--Game is officially over! (Ravens win, 34-31.) Grammy declares it "The longest game ever!"

8:48--Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco is named the Super Bowl MVP. (Because, you know, they have a tendency to give that award to the quarterbacks.) In fairness to Mr. Flacco, he did have a very good game. In fact, now that I think of it, a startlingly high percentage of Super Bowls have been won by quarterbacks named "Joe." (Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Joe Theismann, and now Joe Flacco.)

Maybe I need to teach Buzz how to throw a football and start calling him "Little Joe."