Friday, March 31, 2017

These Are My Problems

These are my problems:

The ice-maker on the refrigerator spat out an extra ice cube when I wasn't looking, so there was a cold, wet spot on the kitchen floor that I stepped in with my bare feet.

There's a guy driving in the fast lane going only three miles an hour over the speed limit, so I have to get into the middle lane in order to pass him.

I was looking forward to finishing off the box of Mini-Wheats because I like the sugary crumbles at the bottom of the box, but my wife finished it before I could.

My daughter likes to read so much that sometimes I have to tell her to put the book down and do her chores.

I want to take a soak in the bathtub, but I probably should clean the tub first.

My favorite pair of shoes is getting a hole in the toe. I'll probably have to get some new shoes.

I don't understand this. The hole is not even where my big toe goes.

The light turned yellow at just the wrong moment, so I had to make a quick decision on whether to go through the intersection or stop. I stopped. Now I'll have to wait for about thirty seconds before I can go again.

We recently replaced our old pillows, and now I'm having a hard time deciding if I want to sleep with one pillow or with two pillows.

I think I need a haircut.

Someone else unloaded the dishwasher, and they put away the bowls in the wrong spot.

I asked for a Sprite with no ice, but there is definitely some ice in this Sprite.

I got another spoon caught in the sink disposal.

If I'm going to lose a spoon down the disposal, why does it have to be one of the good spoons?

With this crazy weather we're having I can't decide if I should wear a jacket or not.

I just have 80 pages left to finish reading this book, but I really should get some sleep.

I was trying to eat a pear, but I had to share some of it with my two year-old.

The Minnesota Vikings failed to win the Super Bowl again this year.

These are my problems.

Life is good.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Chicken Nugget War

I gave my toddler some chicken nuggets for lunch. I figured there were two things that could happen:

1. She eats them.
2. She doesn't eat them.

Both of these outcomes are favorable to me because if she eats them, then I have succeeded in feeding her lunch; and if she doesn't eat them, then I, as her Dad, can eat all of the chicken nuggets that are left.

It's a win-win situation. Either she eats the chicken nuggets, or I eat the chicken nuggets. It's all good.

Or so it would seem.

My daughter, however, had a different idea. Her idea, as usual, was to do whatever she could to mess up my plan. She had a two-prong attack:

A. Eat the least amount of chicken nuggets as possible and also...
B. Eat some of each nugget in order to prevent me from eating the nugget.

When she finished, it looked a little something like this:

Five nuggets. Five bites.
She executed her plan to perfection. She had five chicken nuggets. She took five bites. She took one bite out of each nugget. She minimized the amount of nugget eaten while maximizing the damage to each individual nugget. She had won the chicken nugget war!

Or so it seemed.

She forgot one simple fact: Daddy has no shame. You see, she is my third child, so I've been to this rodeo before. My first child was able to fend me away from her chicken nuggets by taking a bite out of each one. But, by the time I've gotten to my third child, a little toddler slobber is not going to stop me. If Daddy wants a chicken nugget the only way for her to keep Daddy from eating that chicken nugget is to eat all of it so there is none left for Daddy.

For Daddy, chicken nuggets are always a win-win situation. (Especially with honey-mustard sauce!)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Just Another Number

I have a name, but no one seems to care.

When I go to do taxes, they want my Social Security number.
When I get called in to do a random drug test, they want my driver's license number.
When I go to purchase something online, they want my credit card number.
When they want my credit card number, they also want that super-secret three-digit security code number that's on the back of my credit card.
When I try to pay for fuel with my credit card, they want my zip code.
When I try to get a prescription, they want my date of birth.
When I try to refill a prescription, they want my prescription number.
When I try to get a subscription, they want my address.
When I try to fill out my address, they want my apartment number.
When I try to buy something at Kmart or Radio Shack, they want my phone number. (Yes, there are still a few Kmarts and Radio Shacks out there.)
When I try to buy anything they need to scan the bar code number.

Be sure not to confuse the Item Number with the Bar Code Number, because while they are similar, they are not quite the same. (And it does make a difference.)
When I place my order for a burger at Carl's Jr., they want me to take a number, place it on my table, and they will bring my order out to me. (Then they will take my number and give it to somebody else.)
When I try to get money from the bank, they want my PIN number.
When I try to put money into the bank, they want my account number.
When I try to register my car, they want the VIN number.
When I buy a new appliance they want me to register it by sending them the serial number.
When I go to look at the instruction manual for my new appliance, I need to know the model number. (Because one instruction manual will cover several different model numbers.)
When I want to win the lottery they ask for my lucky numbers. (But they won't give me the money unless my lucky numbers are the same as their lucky numbers.)
When I want to change the channel on the television, I enter the channel number.
When I want to watch something different, the "Shows You Might Like" section usually recommends the show NUMB3RS.

I guess you could say that the way numbers impact us is innumerable.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Daddy on "Chopped"

I never understood the appeal of cooking shows on television; they seemed about as boring to me as watching golf. But then The Wife started watching Chopped on The Food Network. It didn't take long for me to get hooked.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it is a cooking competition. Contestants are given a basket with four seemingly incompatible and often strange ingredients and are given a time limit to put together the best dish that they can. Three judges determine whose food is best, and one contestant is eliminated, or "chopped," at the end of each round.

If you've ever watched Chopped you've wondered how you would do on the show, or what you would try to put together with the ingredients provided. Reactions range from, "I could do better than that," to "At the very least I'd get all the ingredients on the plate," to "I wouldn't have the foggiest idea what to do with those pickled pig's feet." But, most who watch the show think they could do okay on it.

Not me. I've never thought I would do very well in the Chopped kitchen. I'm too slow. And the other morning, as The Wife and I were cooking breakfast together, I had a vision of how it would go if I ever appeared on Chopped. It went a little something like this:

Ted (Host): I'm a little concerned with what's going on at Joe's station. So far he only has been working with one of the four basket ingredients. He's spent fifteen of his twenty allotted minutes just cutting up the cantaloupe!

Alex (Judge): I don't think he's even touched the sturgeon filet, clam juice, or jicama! Does he have a plan at all?

Geoffrey (Judge): He really needs to get that sturgeon filet cooking soon. No one wants to eat raw sturgeon.

Amanda (Judge): To be fair, he has had some distractions. His two year-old daughter keeps coming up to him demanding that he "wipe it up," referring to her nose. He's wiped her nose at least six times while trying to get that cantaloupe cut up.

Geoffrey (Judge): I've noticed that, and it makes me a little concerned. He hasn't washed his hands after any of those nose wipings. It's a bit worrying.

Alex (Judge): He's really struggling with that cantaloupe. And besides the runny-nosed toddler, he's also having to deal with a barrage of questions from his six year-old. Questions like, "Who would you want to win if BYU were versus the Patriots? What if the Patriots were playing the Utah Jazz? Who would you want to win that?" I can understand why he's struggling.

Ted (Host): Contestants, you'd better get your appetizers on the plates! You have less than 30 seconds!

Amanda (Judge): Look, Joe is making a mad dash to the pantry and the refrigerator! I can't see what he got!

Alex (Judge): It'll be interesting to see what he is able to get on the plate.

Ted (Host): Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Okay, contestants, time is up, step away from your plates!

(After a commercial break) Ted (Host): Joe, describe for the judges what you have for them today.

Joe: Well, I've got some chopped cantaloupe with some string cheese, goldfish crackers, and a juice box. And then to the side I have a glass with some clam juice in it, with a piece of raw sturgeon filet and jicama sticking out of it.

Geoffrey (Judge): How exactly did you prepare the sturgeon, the jicama, and the clam juice?

Joe: Oh, I didn't prepare them at all. I just threw them together so they'd be on the plate. I wouldn't recommend eating them.

Amanda (Judge): So, why the string cheese and goldfish crackers?

Joe: Well, I'm a dad. I know what the kids will eat. They'll always eat string cheese and goldfish crackers. If I had more time, I would have made some macaroni and cheese.

(A crying toddler approaches Joe, pulls on his leg, and starts screaming.) Toddler: Wipe it up! Wipe it up!

Alex (Judge): You seemed to be a bit distracted out there today.

Toddler: Wipe it up! Wipe it up!

Joe: Yes, just a little bit.

(After another commercial break) Ted (Host): I'm sorry, Joe, but you've been Chopped!

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Minions of March Madness

In the past, I've mentioned how my two year-old seems to be speaking her very own language. (See: "Learning to Speak Minion.") And, I've discussed how my family likes to fill out brackets and pick the winners for March Madness. (See: "My Wife Is In the 100th Percentile" and "Helping My Kids Pick a Billion-Dollar Bracket.")

Well, those two things (my daughter speaking Minion, and March Madness) came together this week when it was time for my toddler to fill out her bracket. As usual, we let the kids pick and fill out their own brackets. (This year Thing 1, our eight year-old girl, picked a finals matchup of Notre Dame over Minnesota, because she likes the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame and because my favorite football team is the Minnesota Vikings.) (I tried to explain to her that these were the Golden Gophers, not the Vikings, but I think that made her like them even more.)

For the picks of Thing 3, our toddler, my wife would read off the two teams playing and Thing 3 would repeat back the name of who she thought would win; except she would repeat the name of the team back to us in her Minion language. For example, my wife would say, "Mount St. Mary's or Villanova?" and Thing 3 would answer with, "Nova." This might help us understand the Minion language. Maybe linguists can study my daughter's language and give us some insight on the inner workings of the toddler mind. Or maybe not.

For added fun, while her Momma was writing down the picks, Thing 3 decided to "help" by scribbling all over her bracket.

Here are some of the teams, in Thing 3's Minion language:

Consins--Like "cousins" with an "n." This is Wisconsin.
Jinna--My wife would try to write down the team's name phonetically as Thing 3 would say it. With this one, my wife initially wrote "Gina," but after further discussion we decided "Jinna" was a better phonetic representation. This is Virginia.
Bayo--This is Baylor. (Or the actor who played Chachi.)
O-yina--This is how she said South Carolina.
Gook--This is not a good word. And this is how my toddler said Duke.
Doot--This also is not a good word. And it also means Duke. (As she advanced Duke further into the tournament, she changed from calling them "Gook" to calling them "Doot.")
Ozaga, Gonzada, and Gonzanna--She couldn't pick one name for Gonzaga, either, alternating between these three.
Wesson--No, not a brand of cooking oil. This is Northwestern.
Onjinny--This is the Mountaineers of West Virginia. In the next round they became Oh-jinna.
Saint Minnie's Mouse--This is one of my favorites. I'm not exactly sure how St. Mary's became St. Minnie's Mouse, but I'm glad they did. (It's too bad she didn't have them winning more than one game, because I was interested what she would have called them the second time.)
Ana Zona--I think I used to date a girl named Ana Zona. (Okay, probably not.) This is Arizona.
Kansins--This is Kansas, and in her language it became a mix between Kansas and raisins. (She must really like Kansas raisins, because she picked them to win the entire tournament.)
A Doo--This is Perdue.
Pah Doo--This is something her Dad does in the potty. It is also another alternate pronunciation for Perdue.
Oh Jin--This is Oregon.
Youville--Youville is not far from Whoville, but it is populated by Yous instead of Whos. (Also, it is Louisville.)
No Oyina--This is North Carolina.
Middasoda--A delicious, bubbly drink, and/or the University of Minnesota.
Butter--Mmmm...butter! This is Butler. (Thing 2, my six year-old boy, would laugh whenever we said Butler. I'm guessing because of the "but" part.)
Sins-oh-daddy--Luckily, this is referring to Cincinnati, because I really don't need my two year-old pointing out all of my sins.
Silly--Silly is a word the describes this entire exercise. It is also how Thing 3 says UCLA.

Go, Silly!!! (That's who I picked to win it all in my bracket.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sexism and the Cereal Box

A while back my daughter was eating some Rice Krispies. She stared intently at the box, then pointed at the characters Snap, Crackle, and Pop and asked, "Daddy, which one is the girl?"

I wasn't sure how to answer her. I looked closely at the cartoony characters on the front of the box and said, "I think they're all boys." At that moment I wondered if my own gender bias was kicking in. I'm a guy, so maybe I just assumed they were all guys. So I looked it up on the internet and, yes, Snap, Crackle, and Pop are all boys.

Snap, Crackle, and Pop! (Everybody should have a silly hat with their name on it, shouldn't they?)

I then started thinking about other cereal mascots. Were any of them girls? Let's take a look:

Tony the Tiger from Frosted Flakes? Definitely a guy.
Lucky from Lucky Charms? Another guy. (Is there such a thing as a female leprechaun?)
Cap'n Crunch from Cap'n Crunch? He's a dude (with eyebrows on the outside of his hat!)
Toucan Sam from Froot Loops? I guess "Sam" could be short for "Samantha," but, no.
BuzzBee from Honey Nut Cheerios? Yet another guy.
Sonny the Bird from Cocoa Puffs? Yes, he's a guy.
Sunny the Sun from Kellogg's Raisin Bran? A guy (who can somehow operate two scoops even though he has no hands.)
Sugar Bear from Golden Crisp (formerly known as Sugar Crisp)? Such a guy.
Dig'em Frog from Honey Smacks (formerly known as Sugar Smacks)? Yes, definitely a guy.
Fred and Barney from Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles? Duh!
Tricks the Rabbit from Trix? I actually wasn't 100% sure, so I checked, and yes, he's also a guy. (Don't ask me how I checked.) (Let's just say that I've got a friend who is a veterinarian.)

In fact, I walked down the entire cereal aisle and the only female I found on the front of a cereal box was a limited edition of Multi-Grain Cheerios featuring Wonder Woman.

Wheaties get some points for occasionally featuring women athletes, like Mary Lou Retton, Brandi Chastain, and Lindsey Vonn on the front of their boxes. (But they don't get any points for Bruce Jenner, because I really doubt they could have seen that happening back in 1976.)

Recently, instead of the usual Wheaties box, the 2016 USA Olympic Women's Gymnastic team appeared on the front of Kellogg's Special K. (I imagine Kellogg's spent a little money to lure the gymnasts to their box.)

Wow! There's actually a girl on a cereal box!
So, except for the sporadic female Olympic athlete, why are all the cereal box mascots boys? I don't really know. Is it because only boys really like these sugary cereals? No! I've got an eight year-old girl who would rather have cold cereal than french toast, waffles, or even bacon! (Blasphemy!)

My best guess is that it's more socially acceptable for a girl to consume a product sold by a male character than it is for a boy to consume a product sold by a female character. If a boy were to enjoy a product with a girl on it, he might worry about being perceived as "girly." And boys are taught at a young age that they shouldn't be "girly."

So, basically, there are no female cereal box mascots because of homophobia. It's a bit ironic, because when my daughter stared intently at Snap, Crackle, and Pop, she was pretty sure that at least one of them was a girl, she just wasn't sure which one. (They aren't exactly a trio of tough guys.)

We think we've progressed a lot as a society regarding the equality of men and women. We almost had a woman as President of the United States; it's something that certainly seems possible. And yet the glass ceiling for cartoony cereal mascots seems so far beyond our reach.

I personally think that boys would gladly eat a cereal that had a female cartoon mascot. Especially if it tastes like candy. (Gender stereotypes are not nearly as important to six year-old boys as sweet, sugary treats.) Maybe someday.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Laundry Is Never Done (Unless You Are Naked)

So, you really think you are done with the laundry? Good for you. But, are you naked? Unless you are naked, you are not really finished with the laundry, because the clothes you are wearing need to be washed. (And if you are naked, please, please, please tell me that you are not at the laundromat!) (I've always thought that "The Laundromat People" would be a good title for a Stephen King book.)

There are six people and two cats that live at our house. That adds up to a lot of laundry. (You may think that the cats don't contribute at all to the dirty laundry because they don't wear clothes. You would be wrong.) Doing the laundry seems simple enough: just put the clothes in the washing machine and get them clean. But, it's much more complicated than that.

Seven baskets of laundry. (It's a start.)

There are six steps to doing the laundry. They are:

1. Sorting--The first thing you have to do is separate the laundry into different categories of clothing that can be washed together. Everyone does this differently; everyone has their own special categories of laundry sorting. These categories may or may not include:
*Socks and Underwear
*Clothes that need to be pre-treated
*Clothes that have been pooped on (kid clothing only) (hopefully)
*Clothes that have been barfed on
*That one red tablecloth that will turn anything that comes within ten feet of it red, (which is something I learned after three errant loads and several pinkish/redish towels, shirts and underwear that didn't used to be pinkish or redish) and is henceforth washed all by itself.

2. Washing--This part seems simple enough: just get the right combination of detergent and fabric softener and start the washing machine, right? Simple, that is, until you take a look at the washing machine controls and you start questioning everything you ever thought you knew about your clothing.

Sooooo many settings!

*Is this shirt "Cotton/Normal" or "Perm.Press/Casual?"
*What exactly is the difference between "Normal" and "Casual?"
*If this "Sports Wear" is made of "Cotton," which setting do I use?
*Can I not wash "Bulky/Bedding" and "Towels" in the same load?
*What if I want to "Speed Wash" my "Heavy Duty" load?
*Shouldn't every load be "Sanitary?"
*What or who is "Allergiene?" (Wasn't she a member of the X-Men for a while?)

And that's only half of the washing machine controls! The other half includes such settings as "Soil Level," "Spin Speed," and "Wash Temp," and if you get any of those wrong you might end up ruining every piece of clothing you own.

3. Drying--The settings on the dryer are just as numerous and just as confusing as those on the washing machine, except with less water and more heat.

4. Separating--The problem with washing the clothing of six people at once is that when the clothes are washed and dried they then need to be separated into piles for each person. This sounds easier than it is, especially if you have similarly sized people. (If it weren't for the butterflies and hearts on girls' jeans I might never be able to tell the difference between the pants of my eight year-old girl and my six year-old boy.) (If the two kids were the same sex, I honestly don't know what I would do.)

5. Folding--I've seen the youtube videos telling you how to fold a shirt in two seconds. It looks simple and easy. So does solving a Rubik's cube, but I can't do that, either. I've also seen videos showing how to fold a fitted sheet. These videos, obviously, are pure science fiction, because a "properly folded fitted sheet" is about as likely as the "Super Bowl champion Minnesota Vikings." My personal folding style is somewhere between "wadded up" and "lumpy." Do whatever works for you.

6. Putting away--It seems so simple. All you have to do is hang the clothes in the closet or put the clothes in the dresser, And yet how often do those clean clothes live all week (or more) in the laundry basket they were sorted into? (Often enough that you need to periodically purchase new laundry baskets because most of the ones you own are full of clean clothes that never got put away.)

And there you have it! All the laundry is done! (If you are nude.) Or, almost done! (If you are not nude.) Now you can go to bed and...find that the cat has barfed all over your bed, meaning that you have to take all the blankets, sheets, and pillow cases and throw them in the wash.

Because the laundry is never done.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Unscheduled Naps

"Oh, look, he's awake."

These are NOT words you want to hear when you open your eyes from a nap. Especially when you are home alone with your four kids and you are supposed to be in charge.

Sometimes I fall asleep at inappropriate times. Here are just a few of those times:

*I fall asleep when I'm supposed to be watching the kids.
*I fall asleep in church meetings. (I know this doesn't sound too out of the ordinary, but not only do I fall asleep during church talks and Sunday School lessons, I also fall asleep in leadership meetings where I am one of only three people in the meeting.)
*I fall asleep when I am writing.
*I fall asleep when I am on the phone with telemarketers. (They don't seem to notice, because most of them are recordings.)
*I fall asleep when I am reading.
*I fall asleep when I'm trying to stay awake.

Of course, there are other times when I can't fall asleep. Such as:

*I can't fall asleep when I'm watching a movie. (I get sucked into the story, no matter how lame it might be.)
*I can't fall asleep when I'm trying to fall asleep.

Now, just for the record, there are times when people think I'm asleep when I'm not actually asleep. Sometimes I'm just thinking with my eyes closed. Seriously. No, really. I'm not telling lies! Yes, it is possible to close your eyes and not be asleep! And no, if you talk to me and I don't answer, it is not proof that I am asleep. Sometimes I think with my eyes closed and don't answer people when they talk to me.

Be very quiet. Daddy is thinking really, really hard.

So, why do I take all of these unscheduled naps? Here are a few possible explanations:
*I stay up too late because I have a toddler who thinks bedtime is a time to scream for 45 straight minutes.
*I have a baby who thinks that 1:00 AM, 2:30 AM, and 3:17 AM are appropriate times to practice his yelling skills.
*I'm getting old, and old people take more naps.
*I'm not actually napping, I'm just thinking with my eyes closed.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Learning To Speak Minion

Everyone loves the Minions. They're the funny little yellow creatures that follow around the lead character in the Despicable Me movies. (They also starred in their own movie, called Minions, but it's best to pretend that one didn't happen.)

The Minions speak a strange, nonsense language that no one can seem to completely understand. Every once in a while there will be a recognizable word or two, but for the most part it's indecipherable gibberish.

Recently I've come across another creature who speaks a language of indecipherable gibberish: my toddler. Much like the Minions, my two year-old girl follows me around and alternates between doing cute and funny things that amuse me, and wreaking complete and total havoc. And, I can only understand a few things she says.

Minions and toddlers: funny little creatures who are hard to understand.
But, with enough exposure, over time I've been able to translate a few of her words from the Minion language into English. Here are some of those words and phrases:

Kitten--One day we were at the dinner table and she kept yelling, "More kitten! More kitten!" We had no idea what it meant. Finally my wife figured out that her cries for "More kitten!" were actually calls for "More chicken!" even though we were eating pork chops at that particular meal. So, now "kitten" is her word for any kind of meat. "More kitten!"

Chaw-cho--The other day, as I was buckling her into her car-seat, I asked her where she wanted to go, expecting her to say PopPop's or Auntie Mimi's. Instead, she excitedly yelled, "Chaw-cho! Chaw-cho!" It took me a while to figure it out, but where she wanted to go was Costco. (Apparently she likes things in bulk.)

Bieber--This word has two different meanings, and thankfully neither of them have anything to do with a certain annoying Canadian pop singer. In my daughter's language, "beiber" is how she pronounces "bib." But, it also means "paper." Whenever she gets a hold of a pen or pencil, we constantly remind her that she can only write on paper. We've told her so often that now she'll finish the last word for us. We'll say, "You can only write on..." "Bieber!"

Beeyockee--Getting kids to eat vegetables can be difficult, so we were delighted when she started eating broccoli, then started demanding it by name: "More beeyockee!"

Women--This is another word that has two different meanings for her. Before she goes to bed she asks for "women." What she actually wants is her vitamin. The other meaning of the word in her language is that "Women" is how she pronounces the name "William." So, anyone named William is Women to her.

Seayull--No, "seayull" has nothing to do with the sea. It is what she wants for breakfast. Seayull is cereal.

Maggick and Nibbles--According to her, we have two cats named Maggick and Nibbles. In everyone else's reality the cats are named Maverik and Schneebles.

Paddle--Whenever I change her diaper, she requests "paddle." What she really wants is powder.

Kangkoo--"Kangkoo" is one of the magic words. It means "thank you."

Boobies--Another word with more than one meaning. If she is walking around yelling, "I'm boobies!" it means she thinks she has pooped in her diaper. (Boobies = poopies.) However, if she is in her high chair and repeatedly screams, "boobies!" it means that she wants some blueberries.

Eat crayons--I am very fortunate that my toddler does not actually want to eat crayons. (Her cousin/best friend, however, would gladly eat a crayon, but only as an appetizer to her favorite treat to eat: permanent markers!) No, when my girl asks to "eat crayons" what she really wants is a handful of Craisins.

And if you give her some "crayons" she'll probably say "kangkoo."