Friday, January 29, 2016

Donald Trump? Really???

Ten years ago, if you told me a narcissistic, loud-mouthed, arrogant reality television star would be one of the leading candidates for President of the United States, I would have said your were insane.

But, if I had to choose a narcissistic, loud-mouthed, arrogant reality television star from ten years ago to be the President of the United States, I'd choose Simon Cowell from American Idol over Donald Trump any day of the week.

At least I can believe most of what Simon Cowell says. He's strong and decisive and honest.

It's too bad he's British.

Instead, we have Donald Trump: legitimate candidate for president.

Donald Trump?


Donald Trump?

Reality television star Donald Trump

Now, I'm not a person who gets political very often. I'd much rather write about farts. Or donuts. Or farting donuts. And yet, here I am writing about the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Donald Trump.

I can see where some people might think that Donald Trump is an entertaining television character. I can not see how anyone could see him as even remotely presidential.

Do we really want a President of the United States who calls women bimbos? Do we really want a president who says he can walk out onto Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody without losing any support? Do we really want a president who thinks Senator John McCain isn't a war hero? Do we really want a president who gets into a war of words with Rosie O'Donnell?

If he can't handle some harsh words with Rosie, how's he going to deal with Putin?

There's been a lot of noise about Donald Trump, but I really wasn't worried about him actually getting elected. Then I remembered that the good people of the state of California elected the star of Kindergarten Cop to be their governor. Twice!

So, if Arnold Schwarzenegger can be elected, why not Donald Trump? (That being said, I'd much rather that the President of the United States be the star of Jingle All the Way instead of the star of The Apprentice.)

The scary thing is, Donald Trump is still acting like the star of a reality television show, only it's now on every channel all the time. Like someone competing on a reality television show, he is saying what he thinks will most help him stay in the game longer, whether he actually believes it or not.

Donald Trump is about as authentic as his hairdo.

Let's just hope the American people are smart enough to vote him off of the island.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Rocket Mortgages and Donut Housework!!!

We've all done it. We've all been sitting around watching television and we'll see a commercial and think, "That has got to be the dumbest thing I have ever seen." Well, it's not, because there is always something dumber.

The other day I saw a couple of really dumb commercials for a really dumb product. And while I'm sure they weren't the dumbest commercials ever, they were pretty darn dumb.

The first of the two commercials starts with words floating in a cloudy sky. (Here's a link: Mort.) (It's just a 30 second spot, so you can take a quick look.) The words floating in the clouds one after another are:
With the word "Mortgage" still on the screen, a man's voice says, "Of all the 'mort' words, and there are some doozies, that's the worst one. So, we added 'rocket.'"  A rocket then bursts through the clouds, and the words "Rocket Mortgage" appear on the screen.

Rocket Mortgage! 
In the second commercial (here's a link: Rockets), words appear on the screen in front of a lengthy rocket launch. The words say:
"Do you like mortgages?"
"Do you like rockets?"
"Do you like rocket mortgages?"
"I'm listening"
"Of course you are"
"Everyone likes rockets"

These commercials are for a product from Quicken Loans called a "Rocket Mortgage." Apparently the idea is that you push a button on your smart phone and immediately get a loan. I have no idea if the rocket mortgage is a good thing or not (but I have my suspicions.) What I do know is that the commercials for it are pretty logically flawed.

The whole gist of the commercials is:
     Mortgages are bad.
     Rockets are good.
     Rocket Mortgages are good.

Let's take a look at that formula for a moment. Something is bad. Something else is good. We add the good thing to the bad thing, and suddenly the bad thing is good! Really, it's a pretty good formula. Why don't we try it on something else?

Do you like homework?
Do you like puppies?
Do you like puppy homework?
Of course! Everyone loves puppies!

Do you like taxes?
Do you like bacon?
Do you like bacon taxes?
Of course! Everyone loves bacon! (I may have just given Donald Trump an idea.)

Do you like housework?
Do you like donuts?
Do you like donut housework?
Of course! Everyone loves donuts!

Everyone loves Donut Housework!!!
Did I eat this donut after I had it sitting in a filthy dust pan? Yes. (That's what the wax paper is for.)

Was this entire column an elaborate ploy to give me an excuse to go to the store and get myself a donut? Yes.

I love Donut Housework!!! (Thanks, Rocket Mortgages!)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Dessert for Breakfast!!!

Apparently, they have finally just given up.

Not so long ago there was a lot of hand-wringing about the excess amount of sugar in children's sugary cereal. Cereals began touting how they had "high fiber," "whole grains," and "no fat." Cereals wanted people to think they were good for you. They wanted you to think of cereal as a healthy choice for breakfast.

It was a nice effort, and it may even have worked on occasion. But now the cereal companies have given up. They just don't care what you think about their cereals anymore.

Why do I say this? Well, the other day I was walking down the cereal aisle at the store and I saw this:

Sprinkled Donut Crunch!!! Part of this healthy (?) breakfast!
Yes, that's right, it's Cap'n Crunch's Sprinkled Donut Crunch! And, for clarification, it's not just any old Donut Crunch, it's Sprinkled Donut Crunch! (Check out the Cap'n gleefully flinging the sprinkles!)

So, to heck with even attempting to appear nutritious. The fine folks at Quaker are taking aim directly at our children with a three-pronged attack: 1) kids love donuts; 2) kids love sprinkles; and C) kids love cartoon characters. (Although personally I've always been a little leery of Cap'n Crunch. His eyeballs and eyebrows are on the outside of his hat! Also, if he was a real Captain I don't think they'd always be so careful to spell his name "Cap'n.")
His eyebrows appear to float above his head. They actually cast a shadow on his hat!
When I saw the Sprinkled Donut Crunch I immediately thought of an old Saturday Night Live skit from the late 1970s in which John Belushi trains for the decathlon by eating "Little Chocolate Donuts." (Check out the link.) (They're the "Donuts of Champions!") Only this time it's not a skit. It's real life. Kids all over the country will be "training" by eating little Sprinkled Donuts!

I would maybe give them the benefit of the doubt, but the Sprinkled Donut Crunch was located on the shelf right next to the boxes of Oops! All Berries, which sounds like it might be healthy until you look at the sugar content and realize that real berries don't look like technicolor rabbit droppings.

Oops! All Berries! (No actual berries were harmed in the making of this cereal.)
As I walked down the cereal aisle, I saw a few signs that not everyone had succumbed to the Sprinkled Donut craze. There was some Special K, some Cracklin' Oat Bran, and some Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

But, just as I was starting to have some hope for the future of humanity, I came across this:
Ice Cream Pebbles! (Because nothing sounds better for breakfast than ice cream!)
Yes, that's right, Ice Cream Pebbles! Unfortunately, Ice Cream Pebbles aren't made with actual ice cream, they are only ice cream flavored. (A close examination of the box finds the word "Flavored" in tiny print at the end of the big words "Ice Cream.")

The Ice Cream Pebbles are even more outlandish than the Sprinkled Donut Crunch, because at least some people actually eat donuts for breakfast. No one eats ice cream for breakfast. (Well, no one with any self-respect.) 

The Ice Cream Pebbles is a new flavor because, apparently, the Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles weren't quite enough like dessert, despite the fact that the Cocoa Pebbles box claims that "It's Like An XTREME Milkshake!" (The Cocoa Pebbles box also says, "Turns Milk XTREMELY Chocolatey!" and "Extreme CHOCOLATEY Blast!") (Make no mistake, these Cocoa Pebbles are "XTREME!")
Wait. Should we really be eating pebbles? Aren't pebbles small rocks?
I'm really worried about the youth of today. They'll spend their early years eating donuts and ice cream for breakfast! What kind of life is that?

Actually, I'm not sure what I'm complaining about. I like donuts! I like ice cream! If only they made a cereal out of cookies.
All the healthy goodness of cookies now available in your cereal bowl!

Oh. I forgot about those. Hmm...I wonder if anyone makes a cheesecake cereal?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Things You Find In Your Pantry

What do you get your sister for her wedding anniversary? Anything? Do you even know when your sister's wedding anniversary is?

Well, The Wife's sister is amazing, because she not only remembered her sister's wedding anniversary, but she gave her a wonderful present: she cleaned out her pantry.

A few days before my wedding anniversary, my wife's sister (we'll call her "K") asked me, "What can I get her for her anniversary?" I'm sure K then thought about my house and the state it is in, because she then said, "I know, I'll come over and help you clean for a day." (The Wife and I have a baby, who takes up a lot of time. The Wife works full time, and has also been sick a lot lately, leaving most of the housework to me. Housework is not my forte.) (What is my forte? Watching television and 80s music trivia.)

So, on my wedding anniversary K came over to help me clean. "Where should we start?" she asked. I decided that our time would best be used by cleaning out the pantry. We buy food. We eat some of it. We stick the rest in the pantry. We buy more food. We eat some of it. We stick the rest in the pantry. After a while, the pantry becomes a giant, disorganized mess.

It's easy to ignore the pantry. It's there. There's food in it. It doesn't really get "dirty" per se, it just gets cluttered. And so, it had probably been about three years since we had done a total, empty-every-shelf de-cluttering and cleaning of the pantry.

Some of the food had been there for a while.

It probably would have been better if we had used this before 19 JAN 2016.
So, yes, the cleaning of the pantry was long overdue. This is what the pantry looked like when we started:

Every inch of every shelf full in a disorganized jumble.
We started by emptying one shelf onto the kitchen table, then sorting through the stuff before throwing away 84% of it.

We were aided greatly in our effort by the fact that it was garbage day. And, fortunately, the week before had been an unusually low garbage week for us. When I put the garbage out in the morning, the dumpster was slightly less than half full. One problem we have with our garbage pick-up is that the time the truck comes is very inconsistent. Some days they will be there to empty our garbage at 7:15 AM, other days they might not come until 3:30 PM.

On this day, as we started to clear out the pantry, my goal was to get as much stuffed into our garbage dumpster as possible before the truck came. So, K and I worked as quickly as we could. We would empty a shelf, and I would take out a full bag of trash (or two) (or three) while K sorted through the piles to see what was salvageable. 

I was able to get seven or eight full bags stuffed into the dumpster before the truck came at 11:30 AM. The dumpster was very full and very heavy. I wonder if the hydraulic arm on the garbage truck had any trouble lifting it, because it was at least four times heavier than usual.

Unfortunately, when the garbage truck came we were not yet close to being finished. Before we were done I had refilled the garbage dumpster about three-quarters full, meaning we would be struggling with an over-full garbage dumpster for the next week.

It's amazing the things you can find when you clean out your pantry. There was an entire corner full of popcorn. We haven't eaten popcorn in ten years! Canned salmon. Have we ever used canned salmon? There were three opened bags of quinoa. (Ten years ago I had never even heard of quinoa.) (And, to be honest, my spell-check still hasn't heard of quinoa. I just looked it up to see if I was spelling it correctly. I was, despite what my spell-check thinks.) (I don't know how to pronounce quinoa, but I do know how to spell it.)

Corn starch. I don't even know what corn starch is used for, but I found six cans of the stuff, and they all expired in 2013. There were also four cans of cranberry sauce that expired in 2013.

Up on the top shelf there was a package of Peeps that were as hard as rocks. They were from Easter of 2015. Or 2014. Or maybe 2013. Whenever the date, their best use now would probably be as a hammer.

As hard as a diamond, or a two year-old Peep.
As we cleared out the pantry, the oldest expiration date I found was for 2011. There were a smattering of 2012s, and a large number of 2013s and 2014s. It got to the point that when I saw a 2016 or a 2017, I would do a double take to make sure I was seeing things correctly.

Eventually we cleared the entire pantry. As we returned the good stuff to the shelves, K put it back in a way that actually made some sense. It's organized in categories and sub-categories and everything! I can actually find what I'm looking for, and have room to put more stuff after our next grocery trip.

I can find anything and everything! (For at least three weeks, until I mess it up again.)
When The Wife got home from work she was very surprised, very impressed, and very happy. (I just hope she doesn't need any corn starch anytime soon, because I threw it all out.) Thanks, K!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Not a Golden Age for Family Television Viewing

Has there ever been a time when television viewers have had so many high quality original programs to choose from? Pay cable giants HBO and Showtime have been producing original programming for decades, and in recent years they have been joined by their basic cable brethren at AMC and FX. And now the streaming services at Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are mass-producing prestige programming at such a rate that it is hard to keep up with it all.

It really is a new golden age of television.

Or is it? For people who hold conservative family values, this new explosion of quality television offers very few choices.

Most people are familiar with ratings system for movies, with PG, PG-13, and R being the most common. The TV Parental Guidelines have similar ratings, with TV-PG, TV-14, and TV-MA being mostly equivalent to their movie counterparts. (TV-MA stands for "Television-Mature.")

Parents who would not allow their children to see R-rated movies often have questions about which of the new original television programs they should let their children watch. But, many of the most talked-about shows, such as "The Walking Dead," "Breaking Bad," "House of Cards," and "Game of Thrones" fall into the TV-MA category.

Many conservative parents just steer clear of original programming that is not on the broadcast networks. "I can usually tell from the promos or commercials which shows won't be for us," says Christine Lake, a mother of teenagers in Montpelier, Idaho. When asked what shows she does watch with her family, Lake said, "Just a few on the broadcast networks. 'Castle' and 'The Middle.' We also watch 'Dr. Who,' 'Mythbusters,' 'Downton Abbey,' and a bunch of PBS."

When asked if any of the new original programming from the streaming services interested her at all, Lake said, "'Mozart In the Jungle.' It's about music and it just won a Golden Globe, so I might take a look at it." Told it is rated TV-MA, Lake dismissed it with, "Oh well, I guess not."

Prestige programs at the click of a button.

"Family television viewing is not the same as it used to be," said Deran Olson, and instructional designer from Boise, Idaho. "Families don't sit down in front of the TV and watch the same show together anymore. Individuals just pull up what they want to watch whenever they want to watch it."

How will parents control what shows their children see? Fans of the PG-13 rated Marvel Comics movies, such as "The Avengers," "Iron Man," and "Captain America" might be interested in the original Marvel programming from Netflix. However, "Daredevil," "Jessica Jones," and the upcoming "Luke Cage" are all TV-MA.

With the critical acclaim and success of TV-MA shows like "Man In the High Castle," and Emmy Award winner "Transparent" from Amazon; "House of Cards," "Orange Is the New Black," and "Narcos" from Netflix; "Fargo," American Horror Story," and "Louie" from FX; and "Breaking Bad," Mad Men," and "The Walking Dead" from AMC, other cable networks are trying to get into the mature television business. SyFy, TNT, USA, and even TV Land are attempting edgier original programs. (The USA Network's TV-14 rated "Mr. Robot" was able to snag the Golden Globe for best television drama.)

But what about prestige television that families can watch together? Olson thinks it will happen, eventually. "Right now the prestige shows are like 22 hours of television at a cinematic level. The hope for family viewing is that someday there will be television of Pixar quality that parents and children can watch together. We're not there yet, but should get there someday."

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Nine Years Ago

Today is my wedding anniversary. Nine years ago today I married a beautiful, wonderful woman who was slightly insane. (She did choose to marry me, after all.)

Nine years later, I am still married to a beautiful, wonderful woman. And she's still slightly insane. But I love every little bit of that insanity.

She's so crazy she wore sneakers to our wedding!

In the last nine years, I've learned a lot about love. It isn't always roses and daffodils. (Although it probably should be more often. It's been a while since I've gotten her flowers.) (Sorry, SweetSweet.) 

So, if love's not about flowers, what is it about? It's more about complementing each other than it is about complimenting each other. (Although a nice word here and there certainly doesn't hurt.) It takes work to make a relationship successful, but it's the most rewarding work I've ever done.

Sometimes I get frustrated with her. Sometimes she gets frustrated with me. The key is not to let those frustrations linger. The good things far outweigh the few frustrations, so to let the frustrations fester would be folly. 

We have three children. Much of the work in our relationship is devoted to the kids and doing what we can to parent them as best as we know how. It helps that we see eye to eye on most parenting decisions. And when we don't see eye to eye, it helps to back each other up so that we present a united front to the kids.

In fact, so much of our time is devoted to parenting that I sometimes fear I'm taking my wife for granted. I hope I'm not. I need to savor every moment of her amazingness.

My wife is beautiful, wonderful, strong, intelligent, caring, funny, brave, helpful, and incredible! (Looking over that last sentence, it makes it seem like my wife is the perfect embodiment of the Boy Scout Law. It's kind of silly, but she actually is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, thrifty, cheerful, brave, clean and reverent.) (Well, I'm not sure about the reverent. Sometimes she plays Candy Crush on her phone during church.)

I know that I'm a much better person than I was nine years ago, and I give most of the credit for that to my wife. Being around her makes me want to be a better person, and her example shows me how that can be possible. 

Nine years seems like a long time ago. It seems like forever. But, it really is only the beginning. It's the beginning of forever. (And forever is going to be wonderful!!!)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Friday Fiction: The Henchman Chronicles

"This is not what I signed up for!" said L-34 as a laser blast whizzed by his ear and blew a hole in the wall behind him.

"Oh?" answered J-29 as he fired his own blaster in the direction of the intruders. "What exactly were you expecting?"

"I wasn't expecting to be dodging laser fire on my third day on the job!" shouted L-34. He had to shout so he could be heard over the explosions coming from the sub-basement.

"Don't be such a wimp," yelled J-29. "You new guys are all the same. So whiny!"

"I am not whiny!" whined L-34. "I just don't want to die, that's all."

"Did you sign up for the life insurance?" asked J-29.

"Of course," said L-34. "The benefits were one of the best things about this job."

"Which life insurance option did you choose?" J-29 asked the question, then rolled to a more secure position behind a desk as the wall he had been using as cover crumbled to dust.

"I think I picked Option B," said L-34.

"Oops, rookie mistake," shouted J-29. "Always choose Option C. It's the best one, and it pays out immediately. With Option B your family won't get the payout for about six months." J-29 reloaded his laser and fired off a few rounds.

"Are you crazy?" L-34 screamed. "I don't care about the insurance options! I just don't want to die!"

"Oh, come on," said J-29 as he fired off another three rounds. "You knew the risks going in. You read the same brochure I did. It said that henchmen for Professor Pyro have a 36% mortality rate. That's why the insurance is so good."

"Yeah," replied L-34, "64% seems like good odds when you're reading it in a color pamphlet, but not so good when you're dodging laser blasts."

"Hey, at least you're not working for DeathMaster or Crazy Bob," said J-29. "More than half of their henchmen die each year!"

"Oh, I know. I wouldn't touch either of those guys with a ten-foot electric incapacitator pole! But, you've got to admit, it's pretty scary out here." As he said the words some concrete debris fell onto L-34's shoulder from the ceiling above.

"Hey, if you don't like it you should go be an accountant or something," J-29 said.

"I am an accountant," replied L-34. "At least I was until last week. When I saw that brochure and how much Professor Pyro pays, I just couldn't resist. And those benefits!"

"Yes, Professor Pyro pays well. He takes care of his people," J-29 responded. "As long as they survive," he added.

L-34 reloaded his blaster and shot haphazardly at the intruders. "When I saw the pay and benefits, I couldn't turn it down. I really want to be able to provide for Jane and...."

J-29 cut L-34 off in mid-sentence. "Whoa, whoa, whoa!" he shouted. "No names! No names! That's one of Professor Pyro's biggest rules! If we don't know each other's names or the names of our family members, they'll have a harder time making us testify against each other in court! How else do you think Professor Pyro is able to maintain that low 29% conviction rate for his henchmen?"

"Sorry," said L-34. "So sorry. I just forgot in the heat of the battle." The battle really was heating up. The temperature in the room had gone up at least thirty degrees, and both men were sweating profusely in their full-body coveralls.

"Just don't forget again," replied J-29, "or I'll be forced to shoot you."

"Don't worry. If I refer to her again, and I probably won't, it will be as her designation of L-34-B."

"Good," said J-29. "I'd hate to have to shoot you."

"Not a problem," said a booming voice from above. "You won't be shooting him or anyone else with that gun ever again!" J-29's gun was ripped out of his hand before he could even look to see who was speaking to him. Sgt. Swift had taken his gun, and the rest of the Action Squad was with him.

Upon seeing the super-hero team, L-34 immediately dropped his gun and put up his hands. Captain Courage gathered L-34, J-29, and the other surviving henchmen of Professor Pyro and marched them toward the waiting police transport van.

"Dang it!" said K-82 as they loaded into the van. "Why did it have to be the Action Squad?"

"Well," said J-29, "when you work for Professor Pyro, you have to expect a super hero team every once in a while."

"I know," said K-82. "I was just hoping for the Hero League instead. I've always wanted to meet Mighty Maiden in person."

L-34 chuckled for a moment. Then he looked around the police van. L-31 was grimacing in pain, and had a two-inch round hole through the middle of his left thigh. "Ow," L-34 said, "that's gotta hurt!"

L-31 nodded and let out a small scream. "Don't worry," J-29 said. "The insurance will cover that."


Please choose a title that best fits the story.

O A. The Henchman Chronicles
O B. The Job Stinks But the Benefits Are Great
O C. Professor Pyro Is a People Person
O D. The Insurance Will Cover That
O E. Harry Potter and the Quantum of Solace

Monday, January 4, 2016

5 Common New Year's Resolutions (And Why We Don't Keep Them)

New Year, New Me!!!

Really? Is a flip of the calendar all it takes to make us a new and different person? I don't think so. Sure, we'll all be writing the wrong year on our checks, but that's about the only thing that everyone experiences together at the beginning of the year.

For some people, the new year means absolutely nothing. For others, it's an opportunity to change the behaviors about themselves that they don't like, or think need changing. It doesn't usually work. By the time March marches in, most of us have long forgotten our New Year's resolutions.

Why do so many resolutions fail? The reasons vary. Here are five of the most common resolutions, and some of the reasons why they don't succeed:

1. I'm going to eat healthier.
Someone once said that 86.7% of all New Year's resolutions have something to do with losing weight. (That someone was me, and I said it just now.) (93.4% of all statistical numbers I cite are made up by me on the spot.) (And 56.2% of those are pretty accurate.) (At least as far as I know.)

One of the best ways to lose weight is to eat healthier. We know what some of that means: eat less fast food; don't drink as much soda; lay off the donuts and sweets; eat more vegetables; eat more fruit; eat more salad; drink more water.

It sounds easy enough. But, if it were so easy, we wouldn't need that New Year's resolution, would we?

Why we fail: Have you tasted a donut? Have you tasted spinach? Which tastes better?

Aside from the obvious difference in taste between healthy and unhealthy foods, there are also the matters of price and convenience. A two-liter jug of soda usually costs less than a 16 ounce bottle of water. And you can go to a drive-thru and have a triple bacon cheeseburger with extra sauce plopped right into your car window, but there are no real healthy fast food alternatives. (I've yet to find a drive-thru that serves asparagus.)


2. I'm going to exercise.
After the gluttony of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, it's easy to say we need to get out and exercise. We've all had those periods in our lives when we exercised, and we all vaguely remember how good it felt to push ourselves with a good workout. And yet….

Why we fail: January isn't the best time of year for exercise. For one thing, the gym is overcrowded with all those other resolution-making folks. For another thing, it's cold outside. And it's dark. Who wants to get out of bed when it's still dark? And who wants to get out of bed when it's so cold? The bed is warm. The bed is cozy. The bed is comfortable. (Stretchy gym shorts are not comfortable.)

3. I'm going to lose weight.
Everyone knows the two things you need to do to lose weight: 1) eat healthier, and B) exercise.

Why we fail: I think we've already covered this. (Would you rather get up at 5:00 AM and run for two miles, then have kale for breakfast; or sleep in and have someone serve you bacon in bed?)

4. I'm going to be better with my money.
Sometimes when January rolls around we have no choice but to be better with our money, because we just spent all we had (and more) on Christmas. We think we can spend less by not eating out as much, keeping away from, and just staying home.

Why we fail: It's getting easier and easier to spend money. Back in the day, we'd have to pull out our wallet and physically grab some cash in order to spend it. Or, we'd have to get out our checkbook and a pen and do a bit of scribbling. These days, our computers and phones know our credit card numbers so all it takes is a click here or a click there to send our money out of our back account and into someone else's. Financial irresponsibility has never been so easy!

Amazingly, it's harder to spend cash than it is to click a mouse.

5. I'm going to spend more time with my family.
This one should be easy. It's winter outside, so it should be simple to just stay in the house and spend time with the rest of the family. We live with these people, and we like them, so there shouldn't be any problem being around them, right?

Why we fail: More and more often we spend our time staring into our phones or computers instead of interacting with the people around us. We'll sit, five people in a room, each staring into their own rectangle. (I don't think it counts as family time if we don't actually say anything to each other.)

It's easy to make New Year's resolutions. It's not quite so easy to keep them. It mostly comes down to willpower. We have to decide what we want to do, then stick with it. Put down that cookie and pick up that carrot. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Don't choose the "Buy It Now" option. Put down your cell phone and talk to someone.

If we are able to do what we say we want to do, some of it might actually get done!

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Eve Party: Family Style

Several images come to mind when you hear the words "New Year's Eve." There's alcohol. Noisemakers. Confetti. Fireworks. Having someone to kiss. Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve. A giant glowing ball dropping from the sky in New York City.

It's all a lot of fun.

But, when you are the parent of several small children, a few other things come to mind: How late should I let them stay up? Can I convince them that 10:00 PM is really midnight? Isn't that actually lying? Is it okay to lie to your kids? But what if it's for their own good? It's midnight on the east coast, so it's not really a lie, is it? If I let the kids stay up until midnight, will I be able to stay up that late? Should I let the kids drink champagne? (Who am I kidding? I'm a life-long teetotaling Mormon. I wouldn't have the first clue how to even buy champagne, let alone serve it to my children.)

Happy New Year!!! 
The Wife and I have three kids, ages 7, 5, and 1. Bedtime for the kids is usually 8:00 PM. (Bedtime for the adults is usually 8:15 PM, or as soon as we can get the baby to sleep.)(We'd stay up later, but after wrangling the kids all day, that's about all we have the energy for.)

So, when it came to New Year's Eve we were left with a dilemma: should we A) act like it's a regular night and put the kids to bed at 8:00 PM? B) Let them stay up until midnight and welcome in the New Year? Or, 3) Let them stay up later than normal, but not all the way until midnight?

It used to be easier to trick the kids, but they're old enough and smart enough now to understand what New Year's Eve is, and that adults celebrate it by staying up late.

We ended up going with the compromise solution. We let them have some ice cream after supper, then we let them stay up a little late, until about 10:00 PM. And, their Mom let them have the special treat of getting to pile into Mom and Dad's bed to watch a show. (And yes, our kids our so starved for television that an episode of Veggie Tales is considered a treat.)

The Baby even went to sleep with relative ease. The only problem came at midnight when the neighbors started shooting off fireworks. The Girl and The Boy stayed asleep, and so did The Wife. The Baby woke up and fussed for a moment or two, but luckily she quickly re-entered the land of slumber.

So, when the New Year rolled in, I was the only one in the house who was awake. I celebrated by doing what I had been doing for the previous hour and a half: I watched old television episodes piped into my house via Amazon Prime.

In the end, at our house, New Year's Eve is basically just another eve, but with a little more ice cream and a little more television. (And we all could use a little more ice cream in our lives every now and then.) Happy New Year!