Friday, September 27, 2019

Parents Get Stuck Sticking Sticky Stickers

Kids love stickers. I don't know why, but they do.

Parents, on the other hand, are not nearly as fond of stickers. This time, I do know why. Stickers stick to things. They stick to things they shouldn't stick to. They'll unstick from things they should be stuck to. And then they'll restick to yet more things they shouldn't be stuck to. If you have kids, there is a good chance that at least once a week you will have a sticker stuck to the bottom of either your shoe or your foot (depending on if your around-the-house preference is barefoot or shod.)

If a kid sticks a sticker to your kitchen table, it will remain stuck to your table henceforth and forever, unless you sand it off or scrape it off with a screwdriver. Either way, it's going to leave a mark.

But if a sticker is supposed to stick forever on a piece of paper or toy, it will peel off by itself in a matter of minutes. Somehow the stickers know.

And why is it that I have to put the stickers on new toys? Shouldn't they come with the stickers already attached? A while back one of our kids got a Happy Meal toy, and the instructions looked like this:

No Happy Meal toy should have 16(!) assembly steps!
Yes, there were 16(!) tiny stickers that they wanted me to peel off and place on the little toy truck. And I couldn't just put them anywhere; they had to be placed in very specific spots on the truck. Nevermind that me and my big sausage* fingers have a difficult enough time just getting the stickers off of the paper, let alone getting them placed properly in the tiny spots they are intended for. [*Link sausage, not patty.]

Luckily for my kids my wife was there, and she was able to get all 16 stickers in their proper places. (She has dainty, unsausagy fingers.) But still, couldn't they have just had the toy come with the stickers pre-stuck?

Stickers stuck.
A few years ago we got a toddler bed. (It was for one of our toddlers.) According to the pictures on the box, the plastic headboard of the bed had a big picture of Elmo on it. In actuality, this was not the case. Upon opening the box and going through the parts of the bed that needed to be assembled, we found a large sticker of Elmo that we were supposed to affix to the headboard. Okay, fine, no big deal, right? We placed the Elmo sticker in the proper place on the headboard.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for our toddler to discover the fun of peeling stickers off of things. Before long he had ripped Elmo's eye down to his nose. We tried to reaffix Elmo, but he was never quite the same again.

Elmo needs some cosmetic surgery.
Maybe I'm crazy, but I have to think if the sticker had been pre-affixed at the factory, my toddler wouldn't have been able to give Elmo a (literal) face lift.

Of course, most stickers we deal with aren't the size of a headboard. Most stickers are tiny, and come at us 20, or 50, or 100 per page at a time. They'll stick to your clothes. They'll stick to your floor. They'll stick to the wall. They'll even stick to your face. (Let's just hope you notice it before you go in for that big job interview.)


And if you don't, let's hope your interviewer has a soft spot for rainbows, or hippos, or hippos under rainbows. If not, you might find yourself in a sticky situation.

Edited from a post originally published on 10/17/2017.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Sports Radio Is Dyfunctional

It's getting to the point where I can't listen to sports radio anymore.

Some would say that's not a bad thing. My wife would be one such person. Before I got married, I used to listen to sports radio in the car all the time. It was my standard background noise while I drove around town. However, I learned pretty quickly that I would not be listening to sports radio when my wife was in the car. She has no problem watching sports with me (except baseball, which is "like watching grass grow," and golf, which is "not a sport.") But she hates it when they are just talking about sports. "Why are they yelling at me?" she'll ask. (And these are just the regular pre- and post-game commentators; if she were to watch First Take or Around the Horn I think her head might explode.)

Sports radio isn't what it used to be.

So, when I'm in the car with my wife, there is no sports radio. But, I've always felt it was a fairly safe thing to listen to when it's just me and the kids. Oh, they'll occasionally ask for music, but I'll play the authoritarian Dad card and say things like, "I'm driving--I'm choosing," or "When you're old enough to drive maybe you'll be able to listen to what you want." (This makes me sound like an opinionated gasbag. It's probably true.)(I learned how to be an opinionated gasbag from listening to sports radio.)

But lately it's been more difficult to justify listening to sports radio with the kids in the car. Why? Erectile dysfunction. Yes, I said erectile dysfunction. Usually, erectile dysfunction isn't a problem when I'm driving--except when that's all they talk about on the radio. About half the commercials on sports radio these days are for erectile dysfunction or male enhancement. Apparently the makers of these advertisements feel that there is a significant overlap between sports radio listeners and their target audience. I guess I should be insulted, but that's not really why the commercials concern me. What bothers me is the barrage of questions that will soon be on its way because my children have ears. Questions like:

"Dad, what is ED?"
"Dad, what does erectile dysfunction mean?"
"Dad, you're over 40. Does that mean you have ED?"
"Dad, don't you want to improve your performance?"

These are not questions I want to discuss with anyone--least of all with my children!

But, that's not the only reason I'm finding it increasingly difficult to listen to sports radio. As more and more athletes get into legal trouble, the more those troubles get talked about. Recently, a star athlete was accused of rape, so the sports radio pundits felt the need to discuss it in detail. Unfortunately, the subject matter requires a little more nuance than can be expected from someone who spends most of his day yapping about why James Harden would beat Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one (he wouldn't), or why Eli Manning belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (he doesn't.) I don't really want my children listening to "Sports Bob" giving his "take" about sexual assault.

And then, there's the yelling. I'm starting to understand why it bothers my wife. Whenever my kids hear Stephen A. Smith they'll yell, "Hey, it's the Yelling Guy!" ("Stop yelling," I'll yell back at them.) Really, I'm not sure why some of these guys feel the need to be so loud all of the time, or why the people in charge put them on the radio. If I wanted to be yelled at, I've got an old boss I could look up. (I wonder what he's doing these days.) (He probably has his own sports radio show.)

Photo courtesy of the website Pixabay.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Please, Don't Step On My Foot!

I really don't ask for much.

I don't ask that everyone stand up when I enter a room. I don't ask for a trumpet fanfare to be played when I enter a room, either. I don't ask for a cushioned throne. I don't ask for a jeweled crown. I don't ask for a personal food taster. I don't ask for a drawbridge or a moat.

So, what do I ask for? Very simple: DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!

I'm not asking for the Minnesota Vikings to win the Super Bowl (although that would be nice.) I'm not asking for the Utah Jazz to win the NBA championship (although that would be nice, too.) I'm not asking for the Seattle Mariners to win the World Series. I'm not asking for the Idaho State University football team or the BYU football team to win another national championship. (Can you believe they both actually did that in my lifetime? Amazing!)

So, what am I asking for? I'm glad you asked: DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!

I'm not looking for breakfast in bed. I'm not asking for pie in the sky. I'm not wishing upon a star. I don't want a pitcher or a belly-itcher. I'm not asking to see the manager.

All I'm really hoping for is that you DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!

You might ask, "Why is he so worried about people stepping on his foot?" Well, it's because I frequently have this problem of people STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!!

It's not like I have unusually large feet. It's not like my feet are so big and take up so much space that it is difficult not to step on them. There is plenty of room on the floor for people to take steps at places that are not directly on my feet. (Having said that, my feet and hands aren't unusually small, either. I have good, normal-sized feet and hands. Nothing to be insecure about here!)

And yet, people keep STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!!

My little girl is the worst culprit. She's of a certain age, and she is constantly STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!! She often does this in an attempt to climb up on my lap. Apparently, standing on my foot gets her a little bit closer to the place she want to be, which is on my lap so she can "help" me as I try to type on my laptop computer.

But, she's not the only one. I have a niece that we watch for a couple of afternoons a week. She's a button-pusher. She likes to get reactions out of adults. And she knows that one sure way to get a reaction out of me is by STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!! So, she does this often.

My oldest son will also occasionally be found STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!! He doesn't do this out of malice or to get attention. He usually does it because he is oblivious to the world around him. He is so busy dreaming about the elevators or shopping malls that he is going to build that he doesn't even notice that he is STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!!

And it's not just people. One day the cat was STEPPING ON MY FOOT!!! In the brief moment that the cat's foot was on top of my foot, something startled the cat. Instinctively he put out his claws, dug them into my foot, then raced away as fast as he could. This did not make me happy.

This is just one reason why I say DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!
To sum up, what I'm really trying to say here is: DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!! My foot is not a stepping stone. It's not part of the carpet or the linoleum. My foot is not part of the kitchen tile.

So, please, I just have one simple request: DON'T STEP ON MY FOOT!!!

Thank you.

Edited from a post originally published on 10/7/2016.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Dad, the Fashion Consultant

I have two daughters, ages 11 and 4. Their Mom keeps them well-supplied with nice, cute, stylish clothes. When they coordinate those clothes properly, how their Mom intended, they look very nice. However, sometimes the girls mix and match the clothing into outfits that should not be worn together. Since their Mom often leaves for work before the girls get dressed, it falls upon me, the fashion-challenged Dad, to set things right. I don't always succeed.

Kids have their own fashion sense. (Or should I say fashion nonsense?)

(I also have two boys, but I don't worry about them. Put boys in a t-shirt and jeans and they're set.)

The girls (especially the four year-old) sometimes go out in public in questionable clothes. I don't always catch the bad outfits. Part of the problem is I don't quite know all of the terminology. On the lower half of their bodies girls can wear dresses, pants, jeggings, leggings, tights, skirts, shorts, skorts, jorts, sweats, or some other thing that I should probably know the name of but quite clearly do not. And only certain tops, shirts, blouses, dresses, tunics, muumuus, or whatevers are supposed to match up with each specific lower-half-covering unit, and I don't know all of the correct combinations. For example, I've been told that leggings are only supposed to go with longer shirts, but I'm not sure what length the shirt needs to be to meet the cutoff point, and now that I've said "cutoffs" I'm even more confused than I was before.

A fashion faux pas needs to be extremely egregious for me to catch it. But, yes, I do occasionally catch them. The other day the four year-old was getting dressed for church. She had on a lovely pink floral dress, and I told her she needed to get some shoes to wear. She came back to me with her black Sunday shoes and a pair of green and white athletic socks. Even I knew that was a bad idea.

Even Dad know these socks don't go with a pink dress.
Over the years I have picked up a few little rules that help me. Girls love pink, and girls love purple, but pink and purple don't go together. (Unless they do.) Also, red and pink don't go together. (Unless they do.) Stripes and polka dots don't go together, either. (Unless they do.) I don't know when the exceptions for these rules apply, only that I'm not qualified to apply them.

The biggest problem in trying to be a fashion consultant for my daughters is that I'm so fashionally challenged myself. I've been wearing some of the same shirts since 1997. The other day I was wearing what I consider one of my "newer" shirts, when I saw a picture of me in that same shirt while holding my 11 year-old when she was a baby.

And really, what's the worst that can happen? My girls might go out in public wearing outfits that don't match. If it happens, and if anyone calls them on it, they can always just point to me and say, "Hey, at least we don't look as bad as that guy."

Friday, September 13, 2019

There's a Good Chance...

Sometimes you have to play the percentages.

The chance that there will be leftover bacon: 1.4%

If you are standing in the check-out line at Walmart holding nothing but a plunger, the chance there is a plugged toilet at your house: 96.3%

When you hear a new song on the radio and really want to know the name of the song and who sings it, the chance that the DJ will give you that information when the song is over: 11.8%

The chance that the baby won't find that piece of string on the floor that the vacuum wouldn't pick up: 6.8%

The chance I might be too big for this ride: 91.9%

The chance that you will find sand in your shoes after a visit to the beach: 99.999%

On a twenty mile drive on the freeway, the chance you will come across a car going slower than the speed limit while driving in the passing lane: 72.4%

The chance that, on that same drive, you will come across more than one car going slower than the speed limit while driving in the passing lane: 52.1%

The chance that you will get a rock chip less than a month after replacing your windshield: 24.7%

The chance that you will get bug splatter on your windshield less than an hour after washing your windshield: 85.5%

The chance that it will rain on any given day of the summer in Utah: 29.1%

The chance that it will rain on the day you plan to go to the zoo: 64.7%

The chance that the Minnesota Vikings finally win the Super Bowl this year: 2.2%

The chance that the comic book character who was just dramatically killed off will somehow come back to life within the next two years: 97.0%

The chance you pick the quickest check-out line at the store: 18.3%

The chance your kid gets the toy they wanted with their Happy Meal: 38.7%

The chance that Elvis Presley is still alive: .003%

The chance that Hootie and the Blowfish will have another #1 hit: 2.6%

The chance that the food you order at Taco Bell, whatever they happen to be calling it this week, will consist of tortilla, meat, beans, and cheese: 98.3%

The chance that when you really need to use the restroom at Walmart, it is closed for cleaning: 58.9%

The chance that the restroom at Walmart is actually clean: 6.7%

The chance that when you ask for your drink with no ice, it will actually be brought to you with no ice: 81.4%

The chance that, when your burger arrives, it will look like the picture in the advertisement: 1.1%

The chance that when you actually can sleep in, you will be able to do so: 14.4%

The chance that when you want the kids to stay up late, they fall asleep early: 79.9%

The chance that all of these percentages are just numbers I completely made up: 99.6%

Edited from a post originally published on 8/25/2015.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The World of Television Cliches

I was reading a book the other day. In it, one of the characters walks into a bar. She's in her mid-twenties, and rather petite. She immediately runs afoul of a gang of toughs--four or five guys who are all much bigger than her and not very pleasant. Words are exchanged. The large men arm themselves with beer bottles and pool cues, ready to attack.

Can you guess what happens? Of course you can. This small, delicate young woman beats up the entire crew, leaving them heaped in a bloody pile of broken bottles, broken pool cues, and broken bones.

Because that's what happens on television shows and in the movies. It's one of the cliches of modern storytelling.

Fender bender = explosion!

I saw this on Twitter recently, and it made me laugh:

just once, I'd like to see an advertisement for a new network drama about a cop/lawyer/doctor who DOES play by the rules
6:29 PM · Sep 9, 2019Twitter Web App

Seriously. Maybe it would be a bit boring to watch a detective follow procedure, but it would be a nice change of pace from what we usually see. They say we want "realism" in our television shows, but I don't think they're ever going to show a patient sitting in the waiting room for 35 minutes, then in the examination room for another 25 minutes, only for the doctor to come in and talk to him for 45 seconds and leave.

Television show cliches are so overused that if you see a certain thing, you can be sure of what is about to follow. Examples:

IF a car gets in any kind of accident, THEN it will explode--but not until the occupants have been dragged away to a safe distance.

IF two people are playing chess, THEN someone will announce "Checkmate" within the next thirty seconds.

Checkmate is just one move away. Always.

IF someone goes to Las Vegas and gets drunk, THEN they will get married and have absolutely no memory of it.

IF a dangerous criminal is being transported from the prison, THEN an elaborate escape plan will be perfectly executed.

IF a new doctor/nurse is introduced, THEN that doctor/nurse will be sleeping with a co-worker (or possibly more than one) within the next two weeks.

IF a night security guard or armored car driver is shown, THEN they will most likely die in a break-in.

IF two characters are in the same room yelling loudly at each other, THEN there is a very good chance they will end up passionately kissing each other.

IF a main character is shot, stabbed, or seriously wounded in an explosion (it happens more often than you might think), THEN within two episodes there will be absolutely no lingering effects of said near-death experience. (Heck, if I twist my ankle playing basketball, I'm limping for two months--these guys get shot in the face and they're back making jokes by the water cooler in a day and a half!)

Luckily, we live in the real world, not the world of television cliches. (Unfortunately, that means I've got another 27 minutes before they move me from the waiting room to the examination room.)

Pictures courtesy of the website Pixabay.

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Song of Poop and Barf

Game of Thrones is a very popular television show based on a series of books known as A Song of Fire and Ice.

A Song of Fire and Ice? Ha! What's so scary about that? Fire's not so bad; just pour some water on it. And ice? Well, I've seen Frozen enough times that the ice doesn't bother me anyway. No, I have a song that is much more frightening. A song that would make George R. R. Martin run away and hide. I sing: A Song of Poop and Barf!

Recently, our Song of Poop and Barf began on a Monday morning around 7:30 AM. My wife had already left for work, and when I opened the door I was greeted by a wall of stench. Thing 3, our two-and-a-half year-old girl, was up and out of her bed, but I immediately noticed a large stain on her sheets. Poop. I knew what had to happen. (It's moments like this that separate the fathers from the babysitters.) I grabbed the girl and removed her clothes, taking care to minimize spreading the poop to uninfected areas. (Keeping the poop out of the hair being a top priority!) I gave her a preliminary wipe-down, then threw her in the bathtub. (The preliminary wipe-down is essential in order to keep poop in the tub at a minimum.) I stripped her bed of sheets, blankets, pillow-case, and mattress pad and shoved them all down the laundry chute. I removed the blanket from atop the changing table and put it down the chute as well. I bathed the girl, cleaned her up, dried her off, put her in a new diaper and clean clothes. And, as all this was going on I was barking orders to our two older children to help entertain/distract our youngest child (Thing 4, a one year-old boy,) and to get themselves ready to catch the school bus. I then went downstairs and put all the poop-infected clothing and bedding in the washing machine.

And with that, the battle was over---but the war was just beginning.

Did I take a training potty and attempt to transform it into the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones using diapers? Yes I did. Is there something wrong with me? Yes there is.

Over the course of the day there were a few more skirmishes. Thing 4 pooped and pooped and pooped some more. (He pooped at least six times over the course of the day. Fortunately, his diapers held containment.)

Early in the afternoon I was standing next to Thing 3, and she had a pained grimace on her face. Then suddenly, I heard it! It was a horrible noise. I can best describe it as the sound of exploding poop. (It sounded, literally, as if someone had dropped a cherry bomb down into the hole of an outhouse.) Thing 3 acted very surprised, then looked up at me and said, "I made a noise." (It was a grand understatement.) Why yes, yes she did! I was amazed (and very relieved) that none of the poop escaped her diaper. (Another win for Pampers!)

The next verse in the Song of Poop and Barf was sung shortly after midnight. There was crying coming from the other room, and it wasn't "restless sleep" crying, it was "something's wrong" crying. I opened the door and was greeted by a new and terrible smell: barf! I yelled for my wife. With both of us there, we could divide the tasks. I took the girl to the tub and The Wife took clothing/bedding/washing machine duty. I soon realized the problem was that the barf had gotten into her hair. You can't get barf out of hair using just a wet-wipe, so I had to use the shower nozzle, which was not a popular decision with Thing 3. All the screaming woke up Thing 4, so we ended up with both babies in bed with us for a while until they calmed back down. Thing 3 requested her favorite movie, Pocahontas. (I'm not sure why she's latched onto that movie, but it's good that she likes a wholesome Disney movie with a wonderful message: Disobey your father and run off with a strange man.) (Wait...what???)

Thing 3 slept in until almost noon and woke up famished. I knew she needed to replenish her fluids, but I foolishly gave her too much, too soon: another barf, another tub. Her song of barf continued at dinner that evening, although she appeared to have a bit more vim and vigor than earlier in the day.

The Song of Poop and Barf lived up to its name the next morning. At 4:55 AM the words, "I pooped," were broadcast into my ears through the baby monitor. I checked and yes, the poop had oozed out of her diaper. So, I repeated the process of two days earlier, which included changing all of her sheets and bathing her again. All clean and cozy, I was just setting her down on our bed to watch some more shows (Sesame Street this time; Cookie Monster never disobeys his father to run off with a strange man) when she started barfing! Back to the tub. It was a Daily Double, or a Double Feature, or a true Song of Poop then Barf! She got two wash-downs in the bathtub before 5:30 AM. (And I had to add the bathroom floor mats to the list of things cycling through our washing machine.)

How bad was it? There had been so much poop and barf in the house that everything smelled of it. And tasted of it. Does Yoplait sell a Vanilla & Poop flavored yogurt? I ask because that's what I was tasting, the Song was so prevalent in the air! I could no longer discern if Thing 4's diapers were dirty based on smell. And it got even worse when The Wife, exhausted from the skirmishes at home and her battles with teenagers at work (she teaches at the junior high), lost track of time and over-cooked some dinner on the stove top, adding burnt cabbage to the bouquet of fragrances wafting through the house.

I fed Thing 3 peaches and Gatorade. She promptly threw it up. And as I was cleaning it up I actually thought, "Hey, this barf is quite fruity and refreshing!" Yes, it had gotten to that point.

The next morning the barf was so voluminous that it made me, veteran barf wrangler that I am, stop in my tracks like a deer in the headlights. Luckily, The Wife was there to take the lead in that battle. (I did jolt myself into action to help.)

And yes, we did take Thing 3 to the doctor, where they told us there was nothing they could do, and we just had to wait it out. (Or was that "wade it out?" The barf was getting deep.) She only barfed two more times after the doctor visit, although one of those was directly on my wife as she was holding her. And then, our song was sung.

So, I'd suggest to George R. R. Martin that he should just stick with his Song of Fire and Ice*. I don't think he could handle A Song of Poop and Barf. He'd definitely get something stuck in that beard of his. (And I am not going to give that man a bath!)

*I should admit that I haven't read any of the books or viewed any episodes of Game of Thrones. But I have lived through A Song of Poop and Barf, and just like George R.R. Martin's story, ours is not finished yet. He has two books left to write and publish, and we have two children left to potty train. The song is not over.

Edited from a post originally published on 9/8/2017.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Kids: Expect the Unexpected

"Have kids," they say. "They'll be great," they say. "They'll complete you," they say. "They'll enrich your life in ways you never thought possible," they say. "They'll leave teeth marks in your toilet paper like some kind of unhinged vampire," they say.

Wait. No one ever says that last thing. Until now. I say that last thing. But I wish I didn't.

Maybe this is the work of those creepy, toilet paper obsessed bears from the television commercials?

I went to use the bathroom and discovered that the roll of toilet paper was slightly wet, and it looked like someone had tried to take a bite out of it. I immediately assumed this was done by our youngest son, because he is frequently sent to our bathroom in the ongoing (and seemingly never-ending) attempt to potty train him. When I confronted him about it, he denied it. I asked him two more times if he had done it, and his denials became more vocal. But, I noticed something. Each time I asked him if he had mangled the roll of toilet paper, his sister hid a little bit more of her face behind a book. I had a new suspect, and when I directed my questions at her, she admitted her responsibility fairly quickly.

When I asked her why she did it, she said, "because I thought it would be fun." Children are always looking for new and different ways to have fun, from pouring out an entire bottle of shampoo into the tub, to recovering every inch of carpet in the house with blankets, to moistening and mangling the toilet paper. (While she admitted her guilt, she denied having bitten the toilet paper. She said she just tore at it with her fingers. I'm choosing to take her at her word, because I'd rather not be dealing with someone who chews on toilet paper.) I sent her to the corner and gave her a stern lecture on why we don't play with the toilet paper. It hasn't happened again. (Yet.)

The bottom line: all those things they say about kids are true. They are great. They will complete you. They will enrich your lives. But, they'll also drive you crazy. They'll do things you won't understand. They'll make you question your sanity. They'll do things that surprise you--for good and for bad. And there's no way to prepare for it. (Just be sure you have plenty of toilet paper.)