"The Muffled Cries For Help From a Daddy of Four Beautiful Little Girls"


Friday, February 29, 2008

Snd hlp.

At this moment I am at the local ice rink.
If this posts, it means that my blackberry works.
It also means that I survived lacing and tying a gazillion skates.
I'm not skating personally, mainly due to the fact that I hate lacing and tying skates. But when I volunteered to bring my children plus three others, I failed to factor in that as the only adult with these seven children I had unwittingly signed up for a round-trip ticket to my own personal hell.

Now that I've made it through and beyond that 5th concentric circle (populated by at least three pairs of skates too big or small as well as several laces too long or short) I can enjoy a bit of a break...

...until it's time to start locating the missing shoes.

Thank you for your pity. It is much appreciated.



(Note: In spite of the sheer terror of the moment, it really is a fun evening out with the kiddos.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Seriously, Something Is Up With This Girl

At the risk of our friends at Homeland Security flagging my blog, I will disclose to you the contents of my daughter's (MacGyver's) backpack:

In addition to the obvious things like homework and school supplies, this girl is hauling around rubber gloves and a whoopie cushion. (Plus the items in her coat pockets mentioned yesterday.)

Clearly there is something going on that her mother and I are unaware of. I don't think it's necessarily dangerous, but it certainly is weird.

We often go to a website where we can enter specific ingredients that we have in our pantry, and the robot-chefs there will tell us what delicious meals can be made from them. I wonder if there is a similar site that can tell us what our daughter might be up to with the whoopie cushion, rubber gloves, electrical tape, toothpicks and chapstick.

Ring a bell? Any ideas?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chili Pepper (May 2006 - February 2008)

Dearly Beloved,

Thank you all for being here today. I know you each have personal stories of the way that "Pepper" touched your lives. If anyone would like to come to the microphone to share your memories of this dear, dear hamster, you may do so after we sing all 5 verses of “Just A Closer Run On The Wheel With Thee.”

We all react to death in different ways. One daughter sobbed for a long time. This was the one who discovered sweet Pepper unresponsive in the corner of her cage. The other daughters had a more composed response: “Does this mean we can get a dog now?”

My response? Scoop her lovingly into a Ziploc and place her in the freezer in the garage until the service. (Yes, I was actually able to get to the freezer. That’s one path we make sure is clear in the garage. We may not be able to get to the cars, but the freezer is not optional. When you need some Totino’s pizza rolls, you don’t want to have to climb through the obstacle course of death.)

Well, Pepper lived a good, long life. Hamsters may live about 2 years, and we could tell by her graying fur that her time was nearing the end. She stayed strong to the very finish and brought joy in the way only a hamster can. We’re all sad in our own ways, but we know that Pepper is in a better place. (Well, I suppose that technically a Ziploc bag next to some frozen fajita meat is a step down from her three-story cage, but you understand the sentiment, I’m sure.)

I don’t have a current photo, but you may remember this charming pose when she was trapped in her tube.


We love you, Pepper.

The Blue Wire...NO WAIT...Clip the GREEN Wire

Here's a quick reflection after picking up my daughters from basketball practice.

I grabbed Shelby's coat off the floor to hand it to her. I must have grasped it by the bottom because it turned out upside-down and it's contents were emptied all over the bleachers.

Here is what my daughter was carrying in her coat pockets:

17 toothpicks
Chapstick
A roll of black electrical tape

Without a doubt, my daughter is MacGyver. I feel much safer knowing that if I'm trapped with my daughter in a falling elevator, in a failing nuclear reactor or holding a time bomb (or all three at once), she'll have the materials necessary to keep us from harm.

Now if she added a stick of gum to her menagerie, we could also escape an avalanche and/or hostage situation.

Monday, February 25, 2008

O.K. Here's My Nasty Garage

I failed to get these photos done in time to put in the initial Tour post, so this is the addendum.

I hope you all feel that it was worth staying home from work, forgoing meals, neglecting your children and ignoring your beeping glucometer in order to keep refreshing my blog until the pictures arrived. (Just a couple more minutes and you'll be done and able to check on why your baby has been crying for the last 7 hours.)

Here they are. Below is the second of my work/tool areas. I can barely make out two saw-type tools along with a box of frozen chicken, a top hat and a lamp shade. Our garage would really make a great "I Spy" game.


Of course, I have to balance on the upside-down desk in order to build that birdhouse I've been wanting to make since '02.


I only recognize a few things in the above picture. Like some de-icer that stays in the garage instead of in the vehicles where it could actually be useful. And in case we need some monogrammed and dated beige napkins from our wedding in '94, we conveniently have them at our fingertips on the top red shelf in the small blue box next to the crockpot balanced on a picture frame.


Most of this junk was stored neatly on some wire shelving until the shelf gave way. Now it's on the floor. But that makes for good exercise because we have jump and climb to get over and around everything. Who needs a cardio machine when you have our garage?


Don't even tell me we're not organized. We have lots of tubs and boxes for storing things in. Then we shove them up next to the cars. Then we open the windows of the cars so that the kids can climb in.



Fortunately, the garage is wide, so we can store some bikes in between the two cars. It's also a great place to store the inflatable tube from the swimming pool. Sure, it would make sense to deflate that thing and store it someplace where it won't keep getting in the way, but that would totally fly in the face of everything I planned when I designed the look of the garage.

While I'm in no position to give organization advice to others, I can honestly tell you this: if your garage looks like something expelled from the bowels of hell like ours, then I recommend taking a picture of it from outside at night. It almost has a romantic air to it...don't you think?

And then, since it was in the same computer file, here's a nice photo my daughter took of some guacamole she helped make for Mom after the garage tour. Mom actually asked for a gallon of tequila after realizing that photos of the garage were going on the internet, but we convinced her that guacamole would be better for her.
Thanks for enjoying my garage. I look forward to showing you some "after" pictures in 2012 when we get it all shaped up! Now go out to your garage, take some pictures, write a post and link to it here so we can either 1) be impressed, or 2) make fun of it.

Either way, our lives will be richer.

Tour Of Scary Garages

Welcome to the Tour...sort of. This may take all week; who knows?
For those who have no idea what you've just stumbled upon, here's just a bit of the back story if you're looking for even more reading material.

I don't know how I let my life slip away from me, but I'm sure it happens to you too. I'm going to have to add my photos later [o.k. here they are in this post], but I said this post would be here today, and I'm going to keep my word because I don't want my pants to catch on fire.

Even though the photos are really what make a tour of scary garages the spectacular event that it should be, I want to go ahead and get Mr. Linky working for the thousands of garage-owners chomping at the bit to get this party started.

Here's a photo to whet your appetite and give you a general feel for the theme I'm trying create in my garage:


Once you see my actual photos, you'll notice we really DO park two vehicles in this garage. That in itself is nothing short of miraculous. God is indeed good to our family.

[insert photo of car parked with 1/4 inch of clearance on the passenger side where the Great Wall of China has been recreated out of countless unknown objects we don't need but I coudn't possibly throw away. The driver's side is almost entirely blocked in by 17 children's bikes with just enough space for a small human to shimmy into the car.]
But when you look a little closer, you'll notice that it is quite impossible to get INTO one of these vehicles, but at least they're out of the elements, and that's what garages are for, right? The children all have to climb in through the driver's door. At least we have easy access to the bikes, because you know how important it is to have those bikes on hand in the middle of the winter on the ice.

[insert photo of assorted unrelated items including books, toys and voodoo dolls scattered on garage floor]
The shelves that came with the garage are a nice touch. Unfortunately, if you put stuff ON the shelves, it collapses and you find everything on the floor. And that's where it has to sit until spring when the weather is nice enough to roll the vehicles out so we can do some cleaning in here.

[insert photo of tool area with one or two tools and 500 non-tool-related objects.]
Heaven forbid I ever have to USE one of these tools. Can you imagine if I actually had a project or wanted to get something done? What would I do?

And yes, that's a mattress hanging from the ceiling.
And a sewing machine on top of the freezer.
And a top hat.
And 43 gallons of paint we'll never use.
And some potted plants that never had a chance.
And a rug stained with blood from meat from when the freezer thawed with the door ajar.

I really do feel like a loser not having the photos for you because it's all quite an impressive sight. I hope that tonight I'll be able to make the magic happen.

Join in on the fun. After you've posted about your garage in all it's glory, come back here and enter your name in the top box. Then enter your specific post address (not your main page) in the bottom box. Could it BE any easier?



Saturday, February 23, 2008

Organize My Tent

Obviously, with all of this snow and ice on the ground, I just can't stop thinking about...Mexico.

While I'm not usually very organized, one thing I'm very good about is thinking about planning. After all, we have only four short months left until our mission trip [gasp]. While some mission trips involve staying in local hotels or dormitories with flushing toilets and such, ours will be spent living in a tent just a short walk from that hole in the ground called a "baño."

In order to make this the most pleasant experience possible for our whole family--three of whom have not been on this particular kind of trip--I'm trying very hard to think of anything to improve our quality of life. We have a huge tent to fit us all, and we also have a couple of air mattresses; one of them actually folds to be a couch with arms and all...cool.

What I'm looking for now are ideas for organization and storage. We can fit 6 people in this tent, but when I think about 6 suitcases and everyone's dirty clothes and clean clothes, I shudder.

If anyone out there has experience with tent organization or cheap, light-weight solutions, I'm all ears.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Happy Snow Day To You

Ahhhh...

I woke up early in the morning and looked outside to see the earth blanketed with a beautiful layer of ice and snow. It was not so much that it would keep someone from running to the store to stock up on cookies and sushi and other necessities, but just the right amount to keep school buses off the roads. Our first true Snow Day of the year.

I planned ahead, anticipating this might be the case. Before I went to bed last night, I turned off my daughters’ alarm clock. Last week when there was a 2-hour delay, our extra 2 hours of sleep was disturbed by that blasted thing going off at 6:30.

I also left the computer on the website for school closings so I could quickly wake up in the night and hit “refresh” to see if heaven was indeed coming down to earth in the form a snow day.
Then I set the TV to record the news in the morning starting long before I awoke so I could easily do some fast-forwarding or rewinding to catch the weather scoop should I have that desire.

The key to enjoying a snow day is to wake up early enough to find out if school is canceled. If you wake up too close to your normal waking time, you risk STAYING awake, and that is plain nonsense. There is no need for that in my life right now. However, if you wake up at least an hour or two too early, your body has a much easier time going back to sleep for 6 more weeks of winter.

About 5:00 a.m., I awoke and checked the computer and saw the glorious news. Then I shared that news with the daughter who usually gets up first since she’s likely to get up and get ready with or without the alarm clock. On the day of the previous 2-hour delay, she’s so responsible, she didn’t view it as 2 extra hours to sleep and rest up. She hopped out of bed and had two extra hours to tackle the day. Why don’t 3rd graders recognize the importance of sleep? How long before they start wanting to take naps again?

Anyway, the plan worked superbly. Everyone slept in. We woke up late and were pokey for a while after getting up. Leisurely shower. A little breakfast. Some talk about the fun to be had on a snow day.

And then it hit me…SCHOOL’S canceled, not WORK!
UGH.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Joy Of Shredded Paper

I'm sitting here looking at three trash cans in my office.

One is for regular trash, not to be confused with my desk, which only appears to be covered with nothing but trash.

One is for recycling.

The third one has a paper shredder attached to the top of it. Every time that it fills up and I have to empty it (into the recycling can), I dream of all kinds of uses for shredded paper besides just throwing it away.

Once you think about it, it really does make sense to go out and buy a paper shredder solely for the following purposes:

1.) Home-made confetti. Put colored paper or envelopes or magazines through and you have a virtual party in a can!

2.) It makes great packing material. No more of those nasty packing peanuts. Careful, though. If you have one of those criss-cross shredders the pieces are so small that the people who receive your package will no longer be your friends because it will take them 4 days to clean up the mess from opening the box you sent.

3.) Long stringy hair for paper dolls.

4.) Any other ideas you can recommend?


Seriously, though, your kids can have a lot of fun shredding paper. Be sure to be responsible and oversee its use, especially with younger kids who are tempted to lick the blades or hem your curtains.

Monday, February 18, 2008

You Show Me Your (garage) And I'll Show You Mine

My wife is a wonderful homemaker. You may have seen photos of our home at Christmastime, and she really does make it a warm, inviting place. Magazine cover material. (Children's bedrooms excluded.)

Then there's the garage.
That's my territory, and you can totally tell.

I've seen a couple of immaculate garages in real life, but in general, most friends' garages I've seen have been as scary as mine.

Even if that's not true, I plan on reading that sentence often enough that I'll start believing it.

I'm interested in seeing some of YOUR awful garages. It's the middle of winter, and you all aren't out there keeping it tidy, are you? There will be time for that in the spring.

So I'm stealing an idea from that mzungu* Boomama's Christmas Tour Of Homes. (She said I could, I swear.)

I am hereby officially inviting anyone who wishes to help me feel better about MY hideous garage to show me YOURS. Starting next Monday, I'm going to have a Linky Thingy here at HoneyIFedTheKids so that interested parties can waltz right through everyone else's death-trap-of-a-garage effortlessly.

Just post pictures on your blog and describe your garage in all it's glory. Then hop over here and use the Linky feature you'll find here next Monday and within minutes--BAM--you'll start feeling better about your cursed garage when you see others who have worse.

(Of course, if no one else's is as bad as yours, you'll just despise yourself more. But cheer up; I'll send the Owner Of The Scariest Garage something nice to dull the pain.)

Things about your garage that may make me feel better about my own?

-Inability to park cars in garage.
-Stuff that fell to the ground three months ago and remains exactly where it landed.
-Impossible to walk through.
-A tool area with very little hope of actually finding the tool you need.
-Dead animals

In general, this contest/tour is targeting men because we're slobs, but women are invited to join as well. Or embarrass your lazy hubby by posting about his nasty garage, and then show him the blog after it's been published for the whole world to see.

To wet your appetite, here's a small glimpse at the cleanest, most-organzied section of my domain.

This truly is the cleanest area of my garage. I couldn't get any closer than this to take the photo, because there is a bike and an upside-down desk in the way (see the dark green leg in the left of the picture?). This is my tool area, complete with a non-functioning gumball machine, a frisbee, a remote control, a can of paint, a screw disorganizer and ONE wrench. Please help me if I ever need a different-sized wrench.

Check in anytime next week to join the fun. You don't have to leave a comment today unless you really want to get me excited about your stupid garage in advance.

[note: if you post pictures of a spiffy clean garage, that's okay too. Lame-o's like me need inspiration from nerds like you.]

*"mzungu" means "white person" in Uganda.

NOT Fluffy Bunnies OR Candy-Colored Unicorns

[This post is in honor of Gayle who has led the way and taught me that it is ok to blog about bodily functions. ]

Still, I'll try my best to do this as delicately as is Scott-ly possible. By all means, if the mention of sick children or vomit is offensive to you, please either stick your fingers in your ears and scream "LALALALA" while you read on or come back for tomorrow's post on "Fluffy Bunnies and Candy-Colored Unicorns."

------------------------
Almost our entire family has been sick again. I suppose I should've let me wife have the joy of blogging about it since she was the one who got up several times in the night to deal with vomiting children. But she's probably too sick herself to realize how interested the blogosphere is in these things.

I was generally only called upon when clean-up help was needed. Fortunately, our children have pretty good aim when they spew, so there were only two times that I found myself scrubbing the bathroom floor.

As one daughter discovered, it's extremely difficult to vomit IN the toilet at the same time as sitting ON the toilet. [shudder]

Another daughter's initial vomiting occurred at the end of a birthday party at a friend's house as she was getting ready to leave. Neither Cindy nor I was there to witness this first-hand, but she was all alone by the door where ALL THE SHOES WERE SITTING. Yes, she vomitted on other people's shoes. I pictured each shoe being filled with my daughter's dinner, but those present said it wasn't that bad at all. So I will choose to believe that, even though I know I would say the exact same thing even if someone else's child had completely filled my shoes with their pizza, cake and ice cream.

So between the vomiting and the loose bowels in this house, our bathrooms have been seeing an increase in activity.

So very sorry I don't have photos, but I could do one of my drawings for you if you'd like. (I dare you to ask.)

You're glad you came by to visit today, aren't you?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Photo of Two Sweeties

I had to post this picture to share with all of you.

A group from our church just returned from Uganda where they worked with a school for AIDS orphans.
The children at our church had raised more than $5,000 to help the school expand, and they also sent over some goodies to sweeten the deal.


This shot shows the sweet Ugandan girl who received a card and gifts and a photo from my youngest. What a neat idea for our team to take pictures like this so that we can see both girls together, the giver and receiver. (Thank you Cynthia and Brad and all the others who went as our ambassadors.)

As God’s economy is amazing, I believe that Jenna will be as blessed by giving as this girl was by receiving.

It makes me all the more excited now for all of my girls to go to Mexico in June and meet firs-hand the kids who will be living in a house that we build with our very own hands. Some of you have already begun contributing for this building project; before we go, I'd LOVE to get pictures from you to take so we can get a picture of YOU with the family you're helping to build a house for. So go ahead make an appointment with Glamour Shots!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Please Step Away From The Cookies...

Church was canceled on Valentine's Eve due to dangerous parking lot conditions. Ever since the big new law office opened up by the highway, we've been a bit more cautious about having little old ladies with hip bones made of chalk ice skating to and from their cars. We've also stopped having the Scissors relay race in Sunday school.


Well, since we ended up being home on Wednesday night, it seemed like a great opportunity to bake about INFINITY heart-shaped sugar cookies. The girls did a fantastic job. Shelby took a bunch of mini-heart cookies to school and impressed her friends; they really did look like professional cookies from a real professional cookie store. I think the key is the icing which ends up hardening well and looking glossy and super cool. You'll have to ask my wife for the recipe.


I hate to be critical, but my only concern is what I saw on the counter before they started:



It's not uncommon for us to be short on ingredients and have to figure out different substitutions, like trying to make cookies without baking soda or sugar or flour.


But for the life of me, I truly can't imagine what the Clorox Disinfecting Kitchen Cleaner is a substitute for in the sugar cookie recipe.


If you are among the lucky recipients of our yummy disinfected Valentine's cookies, enjoy!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Dog May Not Have Existed, But This Love Is Sooooo Real

For a special Valentine's treat, my lovely bride Cindy and I thought that you might be interested in hearing of how we began to be us. (After all, others are doing that kind of mushy stuff with the help of Mr. Linky.)

Actually, I personally thought you'd like to hear the story about the first time she had morning sickness in the car, but after 14 years of marriage, I've learned to defer to her wisdom.

Therefore, here is the story of US.

---------------

I was born at a very young age, the second son to a humble white couple living in the burbs outside St. Louis. I have very few memories of those first few years. However, I do distinctly remember our dog Ginger who ran away and probably got hit by a car. That was fortunate because I was allergic to dogs.

The weird thing about this particular memory is that I found out two years ago that we never even owned a dog named Ginger.

That revelation made me question other memories I thought were real. (Perhaps my parents were never in ABBA? And my grandpa didn't invent Noxema?)

All this is to say that as I write about the events involving our courtship, wooing and subsequent marriage, there is the slightest chance that I may have some details mixed up. But the main facts of the story are reliable, I'm sure. Just to be certain, you're welcome to check out her version to compare. (I'll link to it when she writes it.)

Like most love stories, ours began while singing together in our college's Concert Choir. I was looking especially hot in my black tuxedo, and Cindy was simply radiant in a black, floor-length number with puffy sleeves and a huge bow on the bootie...or maybe no bow? It's hard to remember because I was lost in her long, beautiful curly red hair.

She was so easy to talk to, so friendly. That made her a terrific listener when I talked with her about the girl I had a crush on, Kathy.

"What?" you ask. "I thought this was the love story of Scott and Cindy." Well, into every life a little rain must fall, and my rain was named Kathy. And she fell like a thud one night when I finally got the nerve up to ask about the status of our relationship. I crawled out from under the flaming wreckage, and Cindy was there with the Jaws Of Life to help me grieve. [end of bad analogy]

After the state-mandated 11-hour mourning period, I arranged for friends to talk Cindy into asking me out. The dual reason for that was 1) I was dirt poor and would have liked a better first date than McDonald's, and B) Well, really mainly just that poverty thing. I couldn't afford to wait for my next paycheck from my gig at the cafeteria pot-scrubbing station. Time was of the essence. After all, this was a Christian college, and those types sometimes meet and get married within days; I didn't want to risk losing Cindy to one of them crazy preacher-types before payday.

So the date was arranged, and Cindy took me on a double date with these friends to a brothel (or whorehouse). Before you say, "Way to go, Cindy," I must clarify that this house of ill-repute had been shut down years before and turned into a restaurant, but I believe it still had gaudy lamp shades. You clearly cannot run a brothel--or brothel-themed restaurant for that matter--without gaudy lampshades...and bad wallpaper.

I can't remember what we ate, but since I already prefaced this story with a warning about incorrect memories, I figure I can get away with just guessing that we had steak, lobster, salad, pumpernickel bread and tuna casserole. Again, I could be wrong.

Then, we drove even farther out into the nowhere that is northeast Tennessee and found a dance hall. An honest-to-goodness dance hall with old people and everything. It essentially felt like a roller rink without the 80's music or video games. There, the most amazing thing happened. Some 70-year-old man named Herb stole my date. But at least he had the decency to offer his wife Dorita in return.

First the brothel, now the partner-swapping. This was shaping up to be quite a first date. I had every reason to expect a proposal by midnight.

Well, Herb and Dorita each taught us the various intricacies of the two-step. Essentially, we took a lot of steps, two at a time. But it sure was nice of those two to help us, what with the confusion of all the new math in those days. Eventually, they set us free to try dancing on our own, and we two-stepped the night away.

I must have known in advance that she was going to take me dancing, because I just now remembered that this was the only date I'd been on that I seriously stressed about what to wear. I even borrowed clothes from a roommate. AND I'M A GUY. What guy borrows clothes for a date? That's just queer. I think I borrowed cowboy boots, too, so that counteracts the queerness, right?

Well, back at campus after the date, we went for a long walk. I remember it being misty, or maybe my eyes were just watery from the emotions of the evening. I think I asked if she'd let me kiss her. And I think she must've have said yes, because there's this matter of this being the first and only time I'd ever kissed on the first date.

Of course, finicky Kathy came crawling back two days later after rethinking what a catch I was. Unfortunately for her, Cindy had already two-stepped her way into my heart. The next weekend I took Cindy to a school dance that I had originally asked Kathy to. Since it was so last minute, Cindy needed to find a dress, so of course, she borrowed the one Kathy was going to wear. Does stuff like that happen outside of Christian colleges?

Then we spent the next year and a half driving each other absolutely crazy with the alternating periods of insanity and lucidity that often accompany a match made in heaven.

We were engaged 19 months after our first date, and married 7 months after that. I'll have to let Cindy tell about the engagement. It involved a wadded up piece of used gum, and it really makes me look bad.

Then the wedding was the best day ever with the limos and orchestra and the pope and all.

It even rivaled the day my long-lost dog Ginger came back home.

Ah...fond memories.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

So Much Art, So Few Fridge Magnets

Remember that time you picked up a Picasso original at that garage sale?


You hung it up your fridge door where it remained for more than a few months. Then you kind of got tired of being stared at by that lady's three eyes. Plus, the nose on the side of her head was more than a little disconcerting every time you went to fetch a Go-gurt. (If you aren't familiar with Go-gurts, I s'pose that'll be a whole other post.)

So you threw Picasso away to make room for some of Monet's haystacks.

Only the artists weren't really Picasso and Monet; they were your 3 year old and 6 year old respectively. And instead of the abstract 3-eyed lady and some haystacks; they were a fingerpainting recreation of your Christmas in Vermont and a rather unflattering macaroni version of you on the beach.

Of course, these works of art are precious because of your relation to the young artists. But then, so are the other 5 gazillion masterpieces churned out daily.

Perhaps your attic, crawl space and spare bathroom are already stacked floor to ceiling with all the old artwork, and you know you CAN'T throw any away. After all, the last time you threw that popsicle creation away, your daughter cried for days. (The day after that, incidentally, was when you changed from clear/white trash bags to opaque black ones...secondary WFMW idea.)

Here's my plan, start photographing all the artwork with our digital camera. Then I can have it on the computer as wallpaper or a screensaver.

I can also go to a publishing site like blurb.com or that kodak place or any number of other bookmaking sites and have a small book printed of their art, complete with titles for each piece as well as captions detailing the artist, the medium and a description of what articles of clothing were ruined in each piece's creation.

The book can last forever and sit on your coffee table, able to be enjoyed by all those guests who drop in for high tea.

And the original artwork? You're not a bad parent if you throw it away or send it through the shredder. Just don't leave incriminating evidence for your young ones to find. Do I even have to mention that?
--------------------------
For more Works For Me ideas this week, head over to Mel at Don'tTryThisAtHome (but normally hosted at rocksinmydryer. Evidently it's hard to host a carnival of ideas while in Uganda, they need to beef up their internet infrastructure or sumpin').

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Was It Something I Said?

I fear the worst may have happened.

I worry that maybe I have offended you, my dear reader.

Perhaps it was when I discussed my bellybutton lint.
Maybe it was when I implied that I love my wife more than I love you.
Or there’s a chance that you felt manipulated emotionally by my heartworming [sic] retelling of the story of Mikele Mebembe.

Commenting on the tale of sweet Mikele, Javamamma said: “Oh, I was totally into the moment—tears and all. And then, whamo, a devastating ending. Sheesh. What are your goals with your blog anyhow?”

From that day until now, all 12 of them, I have been wrestling with that very probing question: “What are my goals with this blog?”

I am sure that, like Miss America and the rest of you, I began with lofty goals. I wanted to bring about world peace, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and inspire countless thousands to make their lives meaningful and significant.

Clearly, my blog has devolved since then.

No, seriously, I’m just here for a laugh. And not just the cheap laugh that comes from saying the word “fart” or “uvula.” I like the kind of laugh that starts deep down in your duodenum when a chord is struck that’s a little close to home. You’re torn between laughing because a thought is so stinkin’ funny or crying because this thing that is supposed to be funny is so true and real that it reveals something ridiculously human and vulnerable about you (and me).

For example, Mikele’s story begins heading in a direction that is cliché and predictable. You KNOW how it’s probably going to end, you KKNOW it’s sappy, but you also know that you’re not going to believe it’s true. But than (as Javamamma says) WHAMO, the “real” ending comes, and it’s 100% consistent with what nature tells you was really more likely to happen. You’re relieved that the fabric of your universe has not been torn, and you laugh…not so much at Mikele’s sad and senseless death, but more at yourself for spending approximately 38 seconds preparing to trade in your belief system for a lie, the lie that the elephant recognized Mikele and they lived out their remaining years in a small one-bedroom apartment on the north side of Chicago.

Secondly, I enjoy writing about people and life, even serious stuff like marriage and the marketing of body fluids. I have hopes of writing a book someday, and this daily practice of translating my thoughts into printed words is an exercise which I thoroughly enjoy. Two books that are in my noggin are 1) a fiction piece for kids or young adults that is as funny as it is full of fantasy, magic and adventure, and 2) a non-fiction book for daddies who find themselves responsible for their children for extended periods of time and need basic instructions on how to keep the kids alive for the remaining hours/days until mom comes back home and rescues them/him.

However, through the experience of blogging, I’m finding that I enjoy writing about a variety of things. I’m also finding that my spare time in front of the computer is spent less and less browsing the web for news and brainy stuff and more and more reading about YOU and your lives and your ideas and then writing about mine.

I have “met” great people and know that I will meet even more, and there is no doubt that as our family is traveling in the coming months and years, we will make it a point to try and meet in person some of these great friends whom we have met through blogging.

After all, each friend I make online represents a potential buyer of one of my two future books:

Larry Blotter and the Golden Thong
And
The Daddy’s Guide to Cryogenics: Keeping Your Children Alive Until Mommy’s Back From Vegas

I’m already taking advance orders.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Art of Understanding Women...

I really enjoyed reading the comments left on my post about marriage and women with their lip moisturizer.

I would love to install some one-way glass in the walls of our classrooms at church. It would be very enlightening just to sit in the next room and “spy” on ladies during their Bible studies.

We men hear all these stories about how great Beth Moore is as a teacher, and I have these images in my head of a room of 80+ women watching “Bethie” on a DVD and taking copious notes. Then, when the video is over, they talk and share and pour out words from scriptures all over each other, right?

I’m starting to guess that if I had been observing these women, I might have seen a lot more than that. We’ve already stumbled upon the Lip Moisturizer Phenomenon (LMP). And someone mentioned the mass sharing of gum. What other characteristic behaviors might I expect to witness?

Here’s my uninformed, chauvinistic stab at it:

Everyone arrives, trickling in. I imagine that women who spent 2 1/2 hours deciding what to wear will respond to compliments with “I really had nothing to wear today, so I just threw this old rag on.”

Likewise, those who labored over their hair and tried literally 237 variations of clippies, scrunchies, curls, bangs and what-not will assert that “Ugh. My hair. This is the only thing I can do with it.”

Then there will be the sharing of pens or pencils with those who cannot find any in their cavernous wheeled handbags. However, those who could not find writing utensils WERE able to find gum or mints to share in order not to feel like complete mooches. If they are gum- and mint-less, they will make the mental note to buy those items in bulk next week so they can throw them around like they’re in a parade.

Once the video starts, I assume the first thirteen minutes are spent whispering covetous comments about Bethie’s hair and/or clothing and whether or not Target sells any of the set décor in the background.

Then there’s a short break while the women actually watch and/or listen to the video.

In a few moments, though, the relationship timer goes off and the women will once again need to whisper or make facial expressions that speak silent paragraphs to each others.

And most likely, someone will realize that no one has broken out the chapstick yet, so the whole lip-moisturization carnival goes into full swing.


I could go on, but rather than speculate about what goes on behind closed doors, I’m curious how honest my female readers are willing to be.

Whether it’s a Bible study, some gals gathering around a pub table at Starbucks, or mommies sharing a park bench during a play date, what else are you ladies doing when men aren’t watching?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Lip Service

I fancy myself to be a student of life.

I don't necessarily know what that means, but it makes me sound like a thinker or something, and I'd so much rather think than do.

-----
My wife and I have been leading a class using video materials from our friends at Love and Respect. It really is enlightening, and I can whole-heartedly recommend the book (and conference if it comes within a 7-day drive from where you live).

It's been some of the first material I've seen that validates men and what we need--which incidently is more than just s*x. Author and speaker Emmerson Eggerichs does a good job of explaining the stupid guy stuff that marriages need. With the help of Oprah and many others, our society has done a great job of explaining what women need, but we've blown off the guys' needs because they seem ridiculous and un-mushy.

We need respect, some free time and space, things to fix, things to break. These are NEEDS, folks, not just crazy ideas.

While we were watching a video segment this week with the class, the men were fixated on the material because E.E. was sharing stuff that we wish we'd been able to articulate for our wives for years.

During the video, guess what I learned that women need? Lip moisturizer. I speak truth.

I didn't learn this from the video, just during the video.

Right in the middle of the best stuff, one friend pulled a little tube of lip moisturizer out of her purse. (Marriage videos are notorious for drying the lips.) She applied it and then offered it to the woman next to her. I watched a mini-lipfest take place as other onlookers suddenly realized their lips were also in dire need of hydration (my wife included).

I'm sure various comments were shared about what the product was, how much it cost, how to procure it and, my goodness, how great it makes my lips feel!

A Tupperware party almost broke out. You women are so cute sometimes.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Celebrating Lint

Mardi Gras is a big day for a lot of people. If you celebrate Lent by going without some bane or blessing for 40 days leading up to Easter, then you might be one of those who partied and overindulged this past “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras. After all, you have to stock up for the lean, dry weeks. God bless you.

[subject change from Lent to Lint]

My wife has made it clear to me recently that she cares not one bit for my bellybutton lint. I can’t honestly say how it gets there. It’s not like I wear a terry cloth shirt around. THAT might make sense. But nothing I wear seems to match the color of the lint. In fact, regardless of what I wear, the lint always turns out to be the exact same shade of grey.

Which leads me to the following logical conclusion: My bellybutton lint is not a product of fibers coming from my clothing.

The lint MUST be coming from inside of me.
It’s some unseemly internal fluid or waste product, and it’s leaking out of a tiny fissure in my loosend bellybutton knot.

Yes, as I have feared for years, my bellybutton is coming untied.

Even though I have four children of my own and saw first-hand how bellybuttons are formed, my mind still thinks that bellybuttons are created when the umbilical cord is tied into a knot to close off the flow of blood and nutrients (and lint presumably). Therefore, skilled physicians are able to tie tight knots that end up as innies. Less experienced quacks, I believe(d), tie looser knots that end up as outies. I picture a newbie doctor saying, “hey nurse, can you put your finger right here?”

I had an outie for the first 32 years of my life. But as my wife has made more tuna casserole and clam chowder and as more uses for Velveeta are discovered almost daily, my stomach has started to inch out and finally consume my bellybutton creating a brand-spankin'-new innie.

Scientific Fact…
Those with outies: no lint.
Those with innies: lint enough to weave a rug.
(The above may apply only to men.)

Since I’ve only had my innie for four years now, the lint production has been in overdrive to make up for lost time. Hence, I’m working on some wall-to-wall shag carpet spewing forth from my abdomen.

But for these 40 days, I will commit to daily removing my lint. You’re welcome, Cindy

[change of subject from Lint back to Lent]
[continue]

I wish you all the best of luck and discipline as you honor God through your commitments and deicisons during this sacred time as we approach Easter.
Amen and amen.

[back to Lint]

Maybe I’ll save it in a zip-loc bag under the sink and see what crafty thing Cindy can make out of it for a bloggy giveaway! Feel free to send us some knitting patterns for ideas.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Guys Are Jerks But That's No Excuse For Getting Your Wife Squat For Valentine's Day

Thanks to my lovely wife and all her bloggy friends, I believe I now have more female readers than male.

I'm not complaining; after all, guys are just plain jerks. [Can I get a high-pitched "amen"?]
Which is why I'm writing the "Works-For-Me" advice in this post today.

If you are a jerk, here's a Valentine's idea to trick your wife into thinking you're not.

Or if you're married to a jerk, then perhaps you can "accidentally" leave this post up on your computer screen and see if he learns anything. I've titled it in such a way that it might get his attention a little more easily than YOUR title: "Homemade Soap for Under A Buck." (I just made that title up. I apologize if you really did write about that. Good for you, Laura Ingalls.)

(Note: I may keep using the term "jerk" interchangeably with "man" or "guy" or "common-law husband." So don't get hung up on the word too much. It's endearing in a way.)

-----
Hey Jerk,

Yeah, I'm talking to you, the guy who's rummaging through the 99-cent cards to find the most inappropriate card you can find for your lady this Valentine's Day.

While yes, she does enjoy intimacy with you in the bedroom, chances are she prefers it without the crass references to your hot, sweet lovemaking in a greeting card featuring a horny 93-year-old flasher. I dunno. Maybe your wife's different from mine.

So here's an even BETTER idea than that.

MAKE YOUR OWN CARD!
You're a jerk, so the idea of spending zilch on a card might strike a chord in your CHEAP little heart.

Two main instructions:
1. Make it look creative and personalized.
2. Write lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of words.
Before you break a sweat, I want to assure you that anyone can do this. Children do it at preschool all the time; certainly you can out-card a 4 year old.

I will demonstrate for you how I will make this year's card.

SUPPLIES
First, I look around the office or home and find scraps of leftover paper or materials of any kind that might be useful. Don't bother thinking of ideas in advance; that might necessitate having to go to the store to buy a material you need, and since you're a jerk, that will be the end of that because you hate going to the store unless it's the beer and pizza. (Please don't incorporate beer OR pizza in your card, for Pete's sake.)
So work with what you have on hand. For example, on the floor of my office right now, I see a 3-pack of Pez candy; on a shelf I see a scrap of tin foil covering some wheat rolls from our staff Christmas potluck (don't ask), and on my desk is an old manila folder whose contents I've just disposed of.

I will sit here for a short while as I contemplate what kind of card I can make with any of these materials.

Remember: Be Creative and Write Lots and Lots and Lots of Words.

LAYERS
From the old manila folder, I can cut out a nice folded greeting-card-shaped greeting card. You have probably noticed that all the fanciest cards in the rack at the gas station have LAYERS. There's an outer shell with some writing and an inner paper with more writing. A ribbon wrapped around the spine might hold them together. This is classy.

The preschoolers don't do layers. They trace their hands, turn it into a turkey and then write "Happy Valentine's Day." We are so beyond that.

So now I will need to find another piece of paper to fold and nestle inside the fold of my manila outer shell. I see a partial roll of commercial paper towels sitting on another shelf. If I cut a length of that and fold it, it will be perfect for the inside.

I don't have any ribbons, but a long rubber band might do the trick. Ooooh, if I can find a colored one, it would really klass it up as well.

So now I've got the outer shell and inner shells held together with a blue rubber band around the spine.

LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF WORDS
Time to write. If you've been eager to draw pictures, just hold on until after the writing. I know what you're thinking: "if I draw lots of big pictures of hearts and flowers and unicorns, it'll fill up space, and I won't have to write as much." WRONG! The writing is THE KEY. Please don't think that it's the manila folder, paper towels and rubber band that are going to enduce swooning. Noooooooooo, it's the words. If space allows, you can fill in with pictures later.

So what to say? A great idea is to start with "As we celebrate our Nth Valentine's Day, there are so many things I love about YOU that are worth celebrating." Of course, you'll need to know A) how many years you've been together because you are are going to replace the "N" with that number, and B) at least two things you indeed love about her. Less than that and the card could be a huge disappointment...and you would be too.

Fill the inside of the card with lots of things you love about her just scattered all around the page around a big "Happy Valentine's Day" in the center. Feel free to use different colored pens for fun. Fill up the page as much as humanly possible; make it look like there just isn't enough room to write everything you love about her.

Be sure to sign your name, and add a sufficient amount of X's ans O's to assure her of her desireability.

Now, I can't tell you what to write specifically. That's what will make it special to YOUR wife. But here are some categories to consider:
1. What first attracted you to her?
2. What things does she do well?
3. How does she make you feel?
4. What outfit does she look awesome in?
5. How has she made you a better person?
6. What makes her a good friend to other women?
7. What about her makes her beautiful?

Now you can throw in some hearts and flowers (I was joking earlier about the unicorns), and you've just created a card that will make even the most creative preschooler jealous.

See, this wasn't too hard.

You may think I'm just being silly writing these instructions, but I am totally serious. This works for me (hence it's here on "Works For Me Wednesday"). My wife's favorite cards are my homemade ones.

I GUARANTEE you, if make a homemade card and fill it with lots and lots and lots of loving words, your wife will beam, and she will tell at least two women about your card. Those women will be covetous and wish their own jerk was more like you.

And based on the laws of Supply and Demand, your value has just gone up!

Oh, and flowers and chocloates are good too, but not WITHOUT the card with lots and lots and lots of words.



Did I mention that you should use lots and lots and lots of words?


Don't forget the words.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Life Is A Lot Like Football

Despite the impression I gave in the previous post, I really did watch the Super Bowl. GREAT GAME!!!!!

I know a lot of churches have used the big game as an opportunity to get a message out to people who might not come on Sunday mornings but would come on Sunday night to watch guys pummel each other.

So I thought I would post a brief little devotional thought that you are all welcome to use next year for a half-time message at evangelistic gatherings in your basements and bonus rooms.


LIFE IS A LOT LIKE FOOTBALL
by Scott @ HoneyIFedTheKids

I feel like I spend the off-season preparing, planning, shaping up and getting ready for the game. I train and grow and finally step out onto the field to do what I came here for.

Then about 11 gigantic monstrosities of humanity jump on me and squish the living daylights out of me.

Then the crowds in the stands cheer wildly as some nice men load my stretcher into the back of the ambulance.

Then the critics spend the next week picking my performance apart and questioning whether or not I should take the field again next week.

The big difference, though, is that I don't have a $3 million contract or a troupe of scantily-clad spandex queens cheering for me.


Life. Just like football.

Monday, February 4, 2008

There Was A Football Game On Last Night Or Something

Yes, a football game. Last night. Maybe you already heard about it.

I know this to be true, because the network kept interrupting my commercials in order to show me a bunch of guys fighting over a ball. The ball they play with, by the way, is shaped just like Stewie’s head from Family Guy. (If you don’t know him—and for the sake of your eternal soul, I pray you don’t—he was the inflatable boy fighting with the inflatable Underdog over the inflatable bottle of Coca-Cola. Don't ask how I know, or I might have to turn in one of my scout badges.)

You most likely woke up this morning and rushed to your computer to see if I’d already put up my social commentary on this year’s Superbowl Ads. Sorry you had to wait until mid-day. I do a lot of my typing for my posts on my Blackberry during trips to the bathroom. Well, I sold some plasma this morning and am a little low on fluids, so I’ve taken relatively few bathroom breaks. Getting this finished and posted has taken longer than usual. My apologies. But it's time for a lunch break, so hear goes:

This year’s commercials felt a little more understated than previous years. I didn’t fall off my chair laughing, really, and that is one of my goals on Superbowl Sunday.
However, I DID put my hand over my mouth several times and uttered, “Oh no they di’in’t.”

But yes, they di’id.

The horrors (or delights; it's a fine line) I saw from my vantage point on the couch last night?

1. One car ad included the threat of a badger (wolverine?) chewing someone’s face off. Said badger/wolverine (badgerine?) was nursing its babies in the passenger seat. Who THINKS of these things?

2. A careerbuilder.com ad showed a heart explode out of a hole in a woman’s chest as she was slaving away at the computer while her boss sat in his office eating lobster. Seeing the bloody, thumping heart army crawl across her keyboard and flop to the boss’s office almost took longer than my delicate sensitivities could handle. Almost. I survived, as did the woman with the hole in her rib cage. Now she can “follow her heart” to a new, better job, assumably NOT as a Victoria’s Secret bra model.

3. Then a guy is flying in a business suit holding a Bud Light. By flying, I mean with his arms outstretched and soaring above the clouds like when we dropped acid in kindergarten. NOT in a plane. Unfortunately, a plane is involved because the flying man gets sucked into a jet engine. I imagine that anyone who’s ever been sucked into a jet engine wouldn’t find this commercial funny…unless they drink Bud Light.

4. And how about that head-thumping Pepsi Max commercial? I don’t really remember much about the ad other than being sad it was over because I wanted to dance to the music.

5. Will Ferrell did some hawking of some Bud Light. “A lot of sweat goes into each bottle. Not literally. That would be gross.” But not as gross as Will in short, tight basketball shorts.

6. I hope you didn’t miss the e-Trade spot where the talking baby (with the apathetic adult male voice) vomits on himself. I have some old home movies if you missed it and you're into that genre of commerical.

7. And you know what sells Audi’s? That scene from the Godfather with the bloody horse head in the man’s bed; that's what. Yup. Except, replace the bloody horse head with the grill of an old car. But still, it made me think of the bloody horse head, and I was eating Chex-Mix at the time trying unsuccessfully not to think of bloody horse heads.

8. I learned that a good way to get a great deal on a car is to hire a witch doctor to shrink the salesman’s head. I also learned that if your head gets shrunk while on the job, you might get to go home early.

9. As if there weren’t enough disturbing commercials already, some tire company thinks it’s funny to put humans in the middle of a curvy road on a dark night and see if the car’s tires are responsive enough to avoid hitting them. We’re used to seeing deer or squirrels in this position, but I was caught off-guard seeing Richard Simmons in his tank top and shorts in the middle of the unlit road. I was also disappointed the car had those terrific new Bridgestone tires.

10. Not really sure what to think about seeing Justin Timberlake dragged around town by the invisible sucking noise and finding himself being beat in the crotch by a mailbox post.

11. We had the pleasure of meeting a lightning bug in another ad who sang an inspiring song about wishes and dreams and such. Jiminy Cricket’s cousin, no doubt. However, Jiminy Lightning Bug's voice gets muffled...because he ends up PARTIALLY DEVOURED BY A SPIDER.

You know, I could go on (eg. jumper cables attached to nipples?), but I think you get the picture. The commercials this year were consistently disturbing.

Now I’m not a professional commercial-maker, so I generally don’t like to give advice to the guys up in marketing. But there was a Ford commercial that would have been TONS better if they’d had a rugged plaid-clad father and his sweet pig-tailed girl in the cab of that truck while it was spinning in the centrifuge. Seriously, a close up on her face screaming in horror? Money.

I guess I AM into “disturbing” after all. You did read my previous post, right?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Guideposts Material?

Sometimes these "heartwarming" stories are a bit too sappy for me, but this one is truly interesting. I can't believe I hadn't heard it before. Maybe you already have.

It came via email from my friend Annette, but I'm trying to track down its original origin where it originally originated.

--------------------

In 1986, Mikele Mebembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air.

The elephant seemed distressed, so Mikele approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Mikele worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.

The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Mikele stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Mikele never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Mikele was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mikele and his son Tapu were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Mikele, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mikele couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. Mikele summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Mikele's legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.