Friday, December 30, 2016

Bob Saget Didn't Die In 2016 (Yet)

2016 is almost over, and for some people that's a good thing.

People are calling 2016 the worst year ever. That's mostly for two reasons: 1) the presidential election; and B) the high number of celebrity deaths. The election was a long and arduous event, and I'm so tired of it that I don't want to talk about it again for several years.

But, I will address the celebrity deaths. Did you know that, even with the large number of celebrities who passed away in 2016, there were even more celebrities who didn't die in 2016? It's true! For every Carrie Fisher there was a Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill. For every George Michael there was a Phil Collins and Sting. For every Gene Wilder there was an Eddie Murphy and Chevy Chase.

More celebrities didn't die than did!

The other day my daughter came up to me and asked, "Did Ricky Gervais die?" I thought it an odd question. (I should point out that the only thing my daughter has seen with Ricky Gervais in it is a skit from Sesame Street which features Mr. Gervais singing a "celebrity lullaby" for Elmo about the letter "n.") I answered, "No," then queried, "why do you ask?" She said, "Because I heard someone say that all of the celebrities are dying."

No, not all the celebrities have died. Maybe we should celebrate all of the celebrities who didn't die in 2016!

Bob Saget didn't die in 2016. Neither did John Stamos, Dave Coulier, or either of the Olsen twins. Yes, we lost Abe Vigoda and Ron Glass from the cast of Barney Miller, but all six of the stars of Friends are still with us! Let's celebrate the life of David Schwimmer while we can!

Some say that Season 3 of Full House is the greatest season of television ever!
Sure, The Brady Bunch's Florence Henderson and Everyone Loves Raymond's Doris Roberts left us, but Home Improvement's Patricia Richardson and The Cosby Show's Phylicia Rashad are still here.

Richard Marx, Kenny Loggins, and Pat Benatar are alive and well. Let's not wait for them to die; let's enjoy their music now!

Yes, Fidel Castro is dead, but Jimmy Carter is still alive! Let's cherish him down to his very last peanut!

So yes, instead of concentrating on the celebrities who have passed away in 2016, let's treasure the ones who are still alive.

*Note: There are still two days left in 2016. If any of these celebrities happen to die before 2017, I'm sorry, but it's really not my fault.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

I Don't Like Soup (Unless I Do)

I'm a farm boy from Idaho. I'm a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. (Especially if those potatoes are in french fry or hash brown form.) When I think of dinner, I'm thinking of a good, hearty meal that I can stick a fork in or cut with a knife. When I sit down to eat, I want something substantial, something that says, "Now that was a meal!"

I don't like soup.

You can't eat soup with a fork. You can't pick it up with your bare hands. You can't cut it with a knife. What can you do with soup? You can sip it. You can stir it. You can slosh it. If you're not careful, you can spill it.

Soup isn't a meal, it's what you get before a meal instead of salad. (Salad isn't a meal, either. Don't get me started on salad!)

Do you know what they serve with soup? Crackers. Do you know why they serve crackers with soup? To make it more substantial. Do you understand that? In order to give soup some substance and make it more of a meal, they serve crackers with it! Has anyone ever said, "This steak is nice and all, but you know what would make it better? Add some crackers!" Of course not!

When I was growing up, the only time I ever enjoyed soup was when I had a cold and Mom made me some chicken noodle soup. Yes, that's right, the only time I liked soup was when I was sick.

Soup was something that came in a can. And, in order to properly prepare it you would have to pour the soup out of the can, then add a whole other can-full of water to it! It was already mostly water, but then you would add twice as much water to it! Yum, nothing sounds as satisfying as warmed-up water!

Soup = Warm water with a hint of flavoring.

There were a few exceptions, like my sister-in-law's homemade chicken noodle soup, with its big chunks of chicken, and the zupa toscana at Olive Garden, which features nice bits of sausage. (Sausage is like the back-up quarterback of bacon.) But generally, I didn't like soup.

And then, I got married. And my wife started making me soup, and slowly but surely my anti-soup stance has started to soften. Sometimes she would disguise the soup and confuse me by calling it a "chili" or a "chowder." (I'm easily confused.)

Over the course of the years, she's gotten to me with her taco soup (which is meaty, like a chili); her ham and potato chowder (with so many chunks of wonderful ham) (ham is the very skilled third-string quarterback to bacon and sausage); and even her simple cheese and broccoli soup (which doesn't even have meat in it, but is still excellent!) They are all delicious, and I enjoy eating them. But, whenever she says, "We're having soup," part of my brain still thinks back to the days of emptying out a can of glop and then adding another can of water.

I guess you could say I don't like the idea of soup, but when it comes down to the actual substance of the soup my wife makes, I like it a lot.

Even if I can't eat it with my bare hands.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Rating the Christmas Traditions

There are a lot of different Christmas traditions out there. Everyone has their favorites. But, some of them make absolutely no sense. Today, I'm going to go through some common Christmas traditions (and some that aren't so common) and rate them on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being lame and 10 being awesome.

Let's get started!

Leaving milk and cookies for Santa Claus--It really all depends on what kind of cookies they are, doesn't it? Store bought: 6 out of 10. Sugar cookies: 7 out of 10. Homemade chocolate chip cookies (with walnuts): 8 out of 10. Homemade chocolate chip cookies (without walnuts): 10 out of 10.

Mmmm...cookies! (Too bad they aren't chocolate chip.)

Going to a movie at the theater on Christmas Day--Again, it would really depend on which movie, but aside from that I'm of the mind that this would be a better activity for early afternoon on Christmas Eve, or one of the days after Christmas. Christmas Day itself should be for the kids to break their new toys, not to see the latest Star Wars side-quel. 4 out of 10.

Having a big turkey (or ham) dinner--Is a big dinner really necessary? You just had a big meal a month ago at Thanksgiving. Plus, you've already spent most of the morning nibbling on the candy from your stocking. There's really no need for the big production of a huge meal on Christmas. 3 out of 10.

Leaving hay on the roof for the reindeer to eat--When my brother had young kids, he started this tradition with his family. The first year or two the kids thought it was pretty fun, but by the third and fourth time he did it, the novelty had worn off and all it became was a dangerous endeavor to see if my brother would fall off of the roof and crack his head open. 2 out of 10.

Birthday cake for Jesus--My oldest daughter was just over a year and a half old when she first started to understand much about Christmas. When we explained to her that the whole holiday was a celebration for the birth day of baby Jesus, she asked if we were going to have "birssday cake." How could we say no to that? So, every year we celebrate the birthday of Jesus with a delicious chocolate cake! 10 out of 10.

Mmmm...cake!!! (Do you sense a trend? I like me some dessert!)
Singing Christmas carols--When I was a kid and the family would meet at Grandma's house, before we could open any presents we would gather around the piano and sing "Silent Night" as a family. Under the right circumstances, this could be great, but let's just say that no one will ever mistake us for the Osmonds. 6 out of 10.

Getting pajamas on Christmas Eve--We've been doing this in my family for years. Everyone gets a pair of pajamas before going to bed on Christmas Eve, so that when they wake up in the morning they will be wearing nice, new pajamas in all of the pictures that will be taken. Parents love this, but kids are mostly indifferent. For kids: 5 out of 10. For adults: 7 out of 10.

Wassailing--Sometimes, people will say that they went "wassailing" at Christmastime. Apparently, "wassail" is supposed to be some kind of drink. I don't think it actually exists. I have never seen nor tasted "wassail." If someone tells me that they enjoy "wassail" or have been "wassailing," I don't believe them. I think it's all a fib, just like when people say they see something in those "magic eye" posters. So many lies! 0 out of 10.

Reading the Christmas story from the Bible--This may not be the most exciting part of the holiday, but it is one of the most important parts. There is a reason they say "Jesus is the reason for the season." 10 out of 10.

Here's wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Dollar Tree Christmas

At Christmastime, sometimes it's easy for the children to get caught up in a case of the "I wants."

"I want....I want....I want....I want...." Sometimes we even encourage the kids by asking them what they want. Repeatedly. And that's a point. But, do we ever ask our kids what they want to give for Christmas?

We have a tradition in our family (started by The Wife, because she's, you know, awesome!) where every year we take the kids to the Dollar Tree store so they can pick out gifts for all of their family and friends, without getting a thing for themselves. They make a list of all the people they want to give gifts to, and we put each name on a post-it note. Then, the kids go through the store and pick out a gift for every person on their list, attach the corresponding post-it note to it, and we purchase them. Later, the kids wrap all of the presents.

(For those of you who might not know, Dollar Tree is a store where every item in the entire store costs exactly one dollar.) (Well, one dollar plus tax, because The Man has to get his share.)

Dollar Tree: For those times when Walmart is just a little too classy!
We, as parents, love this tradition, and so do the kids. It's fun to watch their minds go to work on picking out presents for their grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Is there a reason Grammy is getting a wash cloth with a picture of The Hulk on it? Why do they think Uncle Jasper needs a glittery bubble wand? What, exactly, is Aunt Sherry going to do with a large foam cowboy hat? Only the kids know for sure.

Superman shops at Dollar Tree.
Prior to this year, The Wife and I would divide up, each taking one of the two oldest kids with us to pick out their gifts. We would let them pick whatever they wanted, only occasionally steering them in a different direction. (Such as, "Instead of getting PopPop something from the toy aisle, maybe we could get him something from the tool aisle?") This year, though, we let Thing 1 and Thing 2 each take a cart by themselves, while The Wife and I helped Thing 3 pick out her gifts for the first time. Some of the choices were even more baffling than usual. Thing 2 picked out a can of green beans as his gift for his six month-old baby brother. When we asked him why, he said, "Because he likes food." ( beans!)

I bet you wish you were getting a can of green beans for Christmas!
It really has been a fun tradition every year. The kids have a blast, and they actually get to spend some time thinking about what other people might want for Christmas.

And even though the gifts are sometimes rather odd, they often make perfect sense. ("Why did you get Uncle John a cake pan for Christmas?" "Because Uncle John likes cake." Hard to argue with that kind of logic.)

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Fountain of Youth Is All-You-Can-Eat!

I found the fountain of youth!!! (Sort of.)

Age advances on all of us. We can't help it. It's like the song* says, "You're older than you've ever been. And now, you're even older." (*"Older" by They Might Be Giants) No matter how hard we fight it, we're all going to get older.

But, there are ways we can make it seem like we aren't getting old. We can eat healthy and exercise. We can act immature. (I'm good at that one.) We can use the hip, cool slang words that today's youth are using, like "bae," "woke," or "jiggy." Or, we can do what I did yesterday: go to the all-you-can-eat buffet in the middle of the day. (It was like stepping into the fountain of youth!)

My two year-old had a doctor's appointment yesterday, so I had to take my babies into the city. After seeing the doctor (everything's fine!) we met up with my father-in-law (PopPop) for lunch. I wanted to go somewhere where I could get fruit and vegetables for my little girl, so I chose Chuck-A-Rama, the all-you-can-eat buffet.

As soon as we walked in the door I was transformed. I was no longer a middle-aged man with graying hair. No, I instantly became a young whippersnapper! Instead of being one of the oldest people in the room, like I am at basketball or at school and church activities with the kids, I was suddenly one of the youngest. At least three-quarters of the people in that restaurant were older than me. I felt inexplicably young and spry! (I haven't felt spry in ages.)

PopPop could see it, too. He's young enough that he also felt the "fountain of youth" effects of being around all those people older than him. But he's also old enough that he knew if we really wanted to see the old people, we should come back at 4:00 PM, because that's when they open up the meat-carving station and switch from lunch to dinner.

Another thing that made me feel young: dessert buffet! There's nothing quite like the youthful indulgence of having as many dessert as you want! (Until, of course, it all hits you about an hour later and you are unable to move.)

So many desserts!!! (You can't have just one!)
I was so young at the Chuck-A-Rama that I wasn't once accused of being the grandpa, not the dad, of my two babies. That was a nice change of pace.

So, if you ever start feeling like you're getting old, just head over to the all-you-can-eat buffet for an early dinner around four o'clock. You'll feel like a kid again! (And did I mention they have lots of desserts?)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

An Ode to Egg Nog

There are two kinds of people: those who love eggnog, and those who are wrong.

What exactly is eggnog, anyway? Is it milk? Is it eggs? Is it a milkshake? Is it dessert? Is it a drink? Is it a way of life? I really don't know, and I really don't care. What I do know is that eggnog is delicious. That's all I really need to know.

There are some people who don't like eggnog. I don't know what is wrong with these people. Are they missing a small part of their soul? The part of the soul that recognizes deliciousness? These people seem normal, but they aren't. They're walking around with the inability to acknowledge what tastes good. Let's hope it's just a blind spot for eggnog. Let's hope it's not all inclusive. Let's hope they can still enjoy bacon.

Some people say they don't like eggnog because of the film it leaves on everything. It's true; eggnog leaves a residue in its wake. If you drink a glass full of eggnog, after you finish the inside wall of the glass will still be coated with a small layer of eggnog.

I'm perfectly fine with nog lining my stomach like it does this glass.
This grosses out some people. Not me. I like to think that when I drink eggnog, it coats the entire lining of my stomach with a protective lining of deliciousness, making everything around it happier and better.

I come by my love of eggnog even though I don't drink alcohol. For some people, eggnog is just a vehicle for delivering rum. And I can understand that. (I like the smell of rum. If I did drink alcohol I'm pretty sure I'd prefer rum to beer. Having grown up on a wheat farm, the smell of beer reminds me of rotted, mice-infested wheat.) But, I clearly think that the eggnog can stand on its own merit, without any alcoholic enhancements.

What makes me sad, though, is that eggnog is not available all year. It starts to appear in the stores around Halloween time, but disappears shortly after New Year's Day. I don't understand this. The fabulousness that is eggnog should be enjoyed year-round! Wouldn't President's Day be better with eggnog? Easter eggs are quite popular; why not nog up some of those eggs? What could be better than 4th of July fireworks and eggnog?

If Donald Trump really wants to "Make America Great Again," he could start by making eggnog available all year long!

Making America great carton at a time!

So, let's all give the nod to eggnog!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Guessing the Christmas Gifts

Years ago, I was at my sister's house celebrating Christmas. We began exchanging gifts, and she had her three year-old son bring a present to where I was sitting. As he handed me a large, square box wrapped in Christmas paper, he said, "Here's your present. It's a basketball." And, of course, that's what it was.

Why do we wrap Christmas presents? We wrap them so the person receiving the gift doesn't know what it is. There's that element of surprise when someone opens a gift, not knowing what it might contain. A wrapped Christmas present is the great unknown.

Some people see this unknown as a challenge. They feel they must know what each present is before they unwrap them. They'll study the wrapped present. Feel it. Shake it. Squeeze it. Maybe even sniff it. To these people, no Christmas present is a successful Christmas present unless they know what it is before they unwrap it.

My brother-in-law was one of those people. He had an uncanny knack for announcing what each gift he received was before he opened it. He would hold the wrapped gift up to his face, as if mentally connecting to it, then say exactly what the present was before opening it. It used to drive my sister crazy. She began wrapping the presents in elaborate and creative ways in an attempt to confound him, but he would still usually announce the gift correctly before opening it. We never knew exactly how he was doing it. Was he carefully unwrapping and re-wrapping the presents? Was he doing detective work by checking out credit card statements and looking at receipts? However he did it, he was good. (And my sister enjoyed playing the game with him.)

Not everyone likes to play that game, though. For me, Christmas is stressful enough without having to figure out how to hide presents, or wrap them creatively, or try to keep secrets from my wife. Once, early in my marriage, I made the mistake of telling my wife what a present was before I unwrapped it. We were rearranging the gifts under the tree and I picked up a present wrapped for me and said, "Oh, here's a pair of jeans for me." I wasn't really trying to guess what it was, I just picked it up and it was obvious, so I said it out loud.

Nice jeans!
After that, my wife and I came to an agreement. Neither of us would try to guess what we got each other. It's like we tell our kids, we "get what we get and we don't throw a fit." For us, it makes for a more pleasant Christmas morning if we are surprised here and there, and it makes the preparation for Christmas easier, too. If I really wanted to know what my wife got me, I could just look through at her Amazon account, or look through some of the boxes in our hiding area. (We both hide gifts in the same place. We just leave them in boxes and trust each other not to look.)

It helps, too, that sometimes I'm not very bright. One year my wife got me the DVDs for the first nine seasons of the show Smallville. She wrapped each season separately, sometimes in different shaped boxes. And I was so dense that, even though I had already unwrapped Seasons 1-3 and Seasons 5-9, I was still surprised when I unwrapped Season 4. (My brother-in-law would not only have known he was getting all nine seasons, he would have correctly predicted which season was in which box.)

So, this Christmas I'm not worrying at all about figuring out what gifts I'm getting. I'll get what I get. And I'm also not worrying about trying to hide what I get for my wife from her. What I am worried about is trying to figure out what to get her. That's stressful enough.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

11 Signs You Shop Too Much On Amazon Prime

Living in a small town can be difficult at times. But, one of the things that makes it easier these days is the convenience of Amazon Prime deliveries right to your front door. Now, instead of traipsing to the mall every time you need something, you can just make a few clicks on your computer and have anything you want delivered to your home for free* within two days! (*"Free" as long as you pay the yearly membership fee. Maybe "free-ish" would be more accurate?)

Yes, Amazon Prime is a good thing. But, can you have too much of a good thing? Here are a few signs that you might shop a little more often than you should on Amazon Prime:

1. You are on a first name basis with the UPS driver.--"Steve is running a little late today. I hope he's not having problems with his gout again."

So many boxes!!!

2. When you order something not from Amazon you get very angry if your order takes more than two days.--"What do they mean by 'allow four to six weeks for delivery?' Don't they know it's not 1978 anymore?"

3. When you know the different sizes of Amazon boxes by their number.--"I'm surprised they were able to fit this order in a P5. I thought for sure they were going to need a Q2."

It's funny, because last time they used a P1 and a 2BA.

4. You get more package tracking updates than you do texts or e-mails from family and friends.--"Hurray! The package is out for delivery! Oh, and I got an e-mail from Aunt Pearl, too."

5. One of your favorite games is playing "What's in this box?" (And you are right over 80% of the time.)--"I think the dishwasher soap and the diapers are in this box, and the shampoo and the gift for Aunt Myrtle are in that box."

6. You are on a first name basis with the folks at the cardboard recycling center.--"Hi, Gladys! I love the new nose ring!"

7. When you order from anywhere but Amazon, you get very angry if they expect you to pay for shipping.--"Shipping and handling? Why should I have to pay for someone to 'handle' my package? What if I don't want my package handled?"

8. You know where each Amazon warehouse is and how long it takes a shipment from each of them to arrive at your house.--"Oh, good, this package is shipping out of Louisville. They always do a better job of packing than the Denver warehouse."

9. All of your Christmas presents are wrapped in Amazon boxes. (Because you have a box the size of every possible gift you need to wrap.)--"I don't know why anyone would ever buy a gift box. I've got plenty of boxes right here."

10. When a Two-Day Shipping item takes more than two days to arrive, you check the package tracking at least twice an hour.--"It says it's still in Salt Lake City, but it said it was in Salt Lake City four hours ago! It shouldn't take four hours to get out of Salt Lake City!"

11. The mattress in your guest room consists of leftover packaging pillows.--"Timmy! Please stop popping the guest mattress!"

Rest in comfort---thanks to Amazon!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Old Dad Syndrome

As I walked past the mirror this morning, something caught my eye. It was me. But it didn't look quite like me. It looked like an older version of me. And then I realized, I am an older version of me!

Actually, the person I saw in the mirror reminded me a bit of my Dad. And then I did a little math in my head (always a dangerous thing.) When my Dad was the age that I am now (forty-ten), I had just returned home from two years as a Mormon missionary. I was 21 years old.

So, just to clarify this comparison, when my Dad was fifty forty-ten, his youngest child (me) was 21 years old and had been out of the house for the better part of three years. Meanwhile, as I am currently fifty forty-ten, I have a six month-old baby boy and a girl who turns two years old this week. And that's not even mentioning the six year-old boy or the eight year-old girl who, believe me, are often worth mentioning, too.

When I looked in the mirror I saw an old man, but that's probably because I haven't been getting much sleep lately. Last night I literally got about one hour of sleep. It started with me being so tired that I couldn't get to sleep until after midnight, despite the fact that I went to bed around nine o'clock. Then, the baby woke up screaming for some reason around one o'clock in the morning. The Wife cuddled him back to sleep, then I put him back in his bed. No sooner had I gotten him in bed than the two year-old decided to start crying. I changed her diaper, brought her in bed with us for a few minutes to calm her down, then put her back in her bed. She was calm for two minutes, then started screaming. I let her scream, hoping she would go back to sleep. The Wife had heard enough screaming and got up with her, only to find that she had pooped out of her diaper. (I had just changed her fifteen minutes earlier!) We brought her back to our bed and cuddled her some more. I put her back in her own bed. She screamed again, for several minutes. This time, though, she did finally go to sleep on her own. Within a minute of her quieting down, the baby started fussing again. He had wiggled his way out of his blanket and was cold. I snuggled him back in his blanket and held him in bed with me. Then The Wife's alarm went off. As I was ready to put the baby back in his bed, the girl started crying yet again.

I'm getting too old for this stuff!

It was a long night. (And that's not even taking into consideration the evening before going to bed, when I changed the sheets on the eight year-old's bed because she barfed in it, even though I was holding a garbage can right next to her to catch the barf. She, instead, barfed in the opposite direction of the garbage can. Because, why not?)

Most guys my age aren't dealing with screaming babies or barfed-in beds. They're just getting up three times in the night to go to the bathroom. (Don't worry, I was doing that in between all the baby screaming, too.)

Sometimes I wonder if this Old Dad Syndrome is worth it. But then the baby gives me a big smile and sticks his tongue out at me while he farts. Or the girl smiles and giggles as we sing "Popcorn Popping On the Apricot Tree" together. Or the six year-old tells me his latest plan to be a construction worker/dentist/school teacher. Or the eight year-old tells me the latest adventures of her and her friends in Pretend World.

They each make me smile in their own way. And that's something I'll never be too old for!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I'm All Jingled Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very festive! (And annoying.)

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

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

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

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

I need to get re-jingled!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Leftover Day!!!

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

It doesn't need to be that way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ranking the Top 10 Thanksgiving Foods

Ah, Thanksgiving!

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

There is soooo much food on Thanksgiving. It's all so good, but you just can't eat as much of everything as you'd like. Your stomach is only so big (even if you have a big stomach like mine.) That means you have to prioritize. You might have to skip some of the foodstuffs in order to stuff yourself with the foods you like best. To help you with that, here is a ranking of the most common Thanksgiving foods, from worst to best.!!!
Honorable mention: Bacon. I've never had bacon for Thanksgiving. But, I'd be willing to give it a try.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 18, 2016

Why Are These Superheroes So Angry?

"Why do all those superheroes look so angry?"

Cranky superheroes.

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

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

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

Ghost Rider and his flaming farts!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Things I've Actually Said Because I Am a Dad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"There is no milk in my knuckle."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 11, 2016

22 Things That Are Great About America

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These things will outlast the zombie apocalypse!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

2016 World Series vs. Presidential Election

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

And then, the Cubs won the World Series.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 4, 2016

Daddy Goes On a Field Trip

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

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

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

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

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

Or were they?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

These Kids Today and Their Trunk-Or-Treats!

These kids today have it so easy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 28, 2016

Little-Known Made-Up Facts (Election Edition)

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: One of the best things about little-known made-up facts is that you can just make them up as you go.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Hillary Clinton once stabbed Dan Rather in the hand with a steak knife when he mentioned the name of Monica Lewinsky at a state dinner.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Donald Trump has written three romance novels under the pen name of Beverly Sweet.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Tim Kaine once went through the McDonald's drive-thru, ordered three Big Macs, two small fries, seven apple pies, and a large Diet Coke and paid for it all with Canadian dimes.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: In order to run as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Mike Pence had to quit his weekend job as a college football referee for the Big 12 Conference.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Hillary Clinton can bench press 320 pounds.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: When he was growing up, Donald Trump had an imaginary friend he called "Trump."

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin once purchased a Chevy Chevette. Brand new. On purpose.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson has stated that, in his opinion, the greatest show in the history of television is Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Hillary Clinton involuntarily grits her teeth and mutters under her breath whenever anyone utters the words "Obama" and "2008" in the same sentence.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Over the course of his lifetime, Donald Trump has gone through 32,429 packages of Tic Tacs. (He prefers the white ones.)

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Green Party candidate Jill Stein appeared in the movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva La Fiesta! Her role is listed in the credits as "Store Clerk."

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Because of his CIA training, Evan McMullin knows 14 different ways to kill a person using nothing but a box of Jell-O.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: When Hillary Clinton was 12 years old she got a puppy for her birthday. She named the puppy "Mine."

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Donald Trump has no idea how to use a washing machine. He has never operated one in his entire life.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: As high school student body president, Tim Kaine was instrumental in getting Corn Nuts included in all of his school's vending machines.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: The secret to Mike Pence's hair? Crest White Strips!

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Hillary Clinton really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really wants to be President of the United States.

Little-Known Made-Up Fact: Donald Trump wants people to talk about Donald Trump.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Beware the Fart-Storm

We all know that one person.

That one person who lets the stinkiest farts.

Often, these people are proud of their stinky farts. They'll needlessly draw attention to themselves as they fart. They'll announce their fart by shushing everyone before they fart, so the fart can be heard. Or they'll lift their leg or raise their butt cheek so that everyone will know they are farting. They'll smile.

I say "needlessly draw attention" because these attention-getting acts are totally unnecessary. Because once the odor of the fart starts wafting through the room, everyone will be paying attention. They'll be holding their noses, or gasping for air, or running for the nearest window. Exclamatory profanities will be uttered. At least one person in the room will question out loud if someone has soiled themselves.

It can be a very traumatic experience for all involved.

There's not much that can be done in these situations. The best course of action is to put as much distance as possible between you and the offending odor's instigator.

But, sometimes that's just not feasible. You see, it just so happens that the stinkiest farter in my life happens to be my five month-old baby son! I can't get away from him because usually I am holding him. He farts when I am feeding him a bottle. He farts when I am trying to burp him. He farts when I am changing his diaper. (This is actually his favorite time to fart. He likes to have a new, fart-free diaper to fill with fresh, new farts.)(And when I say "fresh," I mean "stanky.")

Actually, he doesn't need the gas mask. Everyone else does.

I have four children, and several nieces and nephews. I've been in locker rooms. I was once a teenage boy. I've even been around people who have eaten cabbage for several days in a row. And yet, in my entire lifetime I have never been around a person who can so consistently and frequently let such stinky farts!

The closest approximation I can think of is that I once knew a family that had a large pit bull dog. That pit bull is the only creature on the face of the planet that I have ever been around with farts that have a comparative stench to my sweet baby boy's farts.

And, even at such a young age, he's pretty proud of his farts. He smiles every time he passes gas. He does it so often we have started to call him The Fart-Storm.

I don't know what to do about it. I can only hold my breath for so long. I really hope he grows out of it.

Of course, there's always the chance he'll get worse.

When I told my wife I was calling our son the stinkiest farter ever, she disagreed. She is a junior high teacher, and she says she's smelled worse. In fact, she let me know there are a number of fart-related stories she'd like to tell me, but can't due to teacher/student confidentiality.

So, as stinky as his farts are now, they could be even nastier when he gets to junior high! I shudder at the thought. (And heaven help us all if he ever eats cabbage!)

Friday, October 21, 2016

7 Ways Facebook Makes Me Mad!

Facebook really makes me angry!

I'll be scrolling along, happily frittering away my time, when suddenly Facebook will do one of those annoying Facebooky things that drives me crazy.

Stupid Facebook!

Yes, we each have things about Facebook that make us mad, angry, annoyed, or incontinent. Here are just a few of them:

1. When Facebook changes my news feed from "Most Recent" to "Top Stories." Given these two choices, I always choose "Most Recent." And yet, often the Facebook overlords will, without my consent, switch me over to "Top Stories." And speaking of "Top Stories"....,

2. How, exactly, does Facebook determine what my "Top Stories" are? You think you know me, Facebook? You don't know me! If you did you'd know that I never would consider game requests or "copy and paste" demands as "Top Stories." Also, you would know that when my wife posts a picture of one of my kids, that would be something I would call a "Top Story," and should be put near the top of my feed, not buried beneath umpteen political posts!

And I'm still waiting for that "Dislike" button!

3. Why does that thing I was going to click on suddenly disappear before I can click on it? I'll be scrolling along and see something that I'm somewhat interested in. I'll think, "I'll go back and look at that in a minute." And then, in a minute (or twenty) I'll go back to try to find it so I can look at it, and it will be gone. Nowhere to be found. Yes, I know, I know, if I really wanted to look at it, I should have clicked on it the first time. But, I didn't. And now I might never know what that semi-interesting post about something-or-other was all about!

4. I don't want to scroll through all of the entire comments section to find out what comment my Facebook friend made! Facebook points out to me that one of my friends has made a comment on someone else's post. I like and respect this Facebook friend of mine, and I am interested to see what comment he or she made. (Or, I think this Facebook friend of mine is a complete and total idiot, and I'm interested in what idiotic comment he or she made.) Unfortunately, in order to find the comment that my Facebook friend made, I have to scroll through the entire sea of 146 comments, plus all the replies to those 146 comments. I usually try for a while, then give up. (Sorry, Andy, but I guess I'll never know what incredibly humorous, insightful, and/or idiotic thing you just posted in the middle of that long thread.)

5. Why do those old photos keep reappearing at the top of my news feed? It's always confusing when an old photo pops up on your news feed because your mom/grandma/crazy uncle has been stalking through your pictures and clicked the "Like" button on a picture that is three days/three weeks/three years old. And then other people start commenting on it because they think it is new. And the confusion sets in. ("Wait, did you just have another new baby?" "No. Look at the date! This picture is from four years ago. It just reappeared on my page because Crazy Uncle Larry was digging through my old photos and started commenting on them.")

6. Just because I clicked on something once doesn't mean I want my news feed to be inundated with similar things. Okay, so one day when I was bored I clicked on something titled "29 Interesting Behind the Scene Facts About Star Trek: The Next Generation." (It turns out only 14 of the 29 facts were actually interesting.) That does not necessarily mean I am interested in "27 Behind the Scene Tidbits About Dr. Who." Or "32 Amazing Facts About Quantum Leap." Or "23 Surprising Things the Producers of Matlock Didn't Want You To Know." (Actually, I'm a little intrigued by that Matlock one.)

7. No, I am not going to copy and paste a message to legally stop Facebook from making all of my past and future posts public. Guess what? If you didn't want all of those past and future posts to go public, you probably shouldn't have posted them on Facebook. (You do realize Facebook isn't the best place to put things you want to keep private, right?)

And there you have it. But remember, if all of these things bother you too much, you can always just drop Facebook. Ignore it. Don't click on it. You didn't actually pay anything for your Facebook, so if you just don't like it, then simply stop using it. You can always find some other way to waste spend your time! (There's a card game called "Solitaire" that I've heard about. People say it's pretty awesome!)