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


Monday, March 31, 2008

Have I Told You Lately?

It's about time I wrote about how awesome my wife is again.

It's not unusual for me to write silly posts about my crazy life and all the interesting quirks of fatherhood.

Every once in a while, though, I get in one of those moods where I feel all mushy about my wife. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened. She hasn't bought me some giant leather recliner or found a new kind of cheese for me to enjoy. And I'm not in the doghouse or trying to dig out of some hole I've created for myself. (Well, actually, I usually am, but that's unrelated.)

I'm just sitting here this morning thinking about my life and realizing how absolutely crucial Cindy is to all of it. Obviously, I wouldn't be a father without her. And I wouldn't be able to have the kind of home we have without her here making it the castle it is for me. Even my career is totally enhanced by her involvement. She is always dreaming and sharing ideas and offering to do anything that needs done in my ministry. I'm so blessed to have her.

I can't help but feel guilty that I bring much less to this marriage than she brings. Even if I wished and prayed and hoped to do/be more, and if all those wishes/prayers/hopes were realized, I'd just turn around to find that she's leaped even farther ahead. I supppose that shouldn't keep me from trying to be the best husband I can be.

I love this lady.

Oh great.
I've already written that I'm getting my office cleaned and organized this week (so not like me).
Now I'm getting all serious today about my wife.
Am I going through Man-opause? Can I expect to feel hot flashes next?

Beware. Who knows what tomorrow's post will be like?
Excuse me while I go cry for no apparent reason.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

DO Try This At Home

Since I know that most of you are inquisitive and will have a hard time falling asleep tonight without knowing the answer to life's biggest questions, I will answer at least one of them today.


Which soda erupts the highest when 5 mentos candies are dropped into 2-liter bottles?

We did this experiment at Jenna's 7-year-old Scientist Party. Dressed in lab coats and goggles, she and her friends lined up on the sidewalk in front of the house while the bigger kids and I performed the experiment with:

Diet Coke (name brand)
Diet Big K Cola (Kroger store brand)
Diet Caffeine-free Big K Cola
Regular Big K Cola

I think there was a 3-for$2 sale on the Big K colas, hence the overabundance of that particular brand in our experiment. Had the Coke products not been three times the price, I would've used more of those. You can see that my love of science has its limits.
That's some Diet Caffeine-Free Big K Cola shooting more than 6 or 7 feet in the air.
The experiment was a hit, as were the others that we did at the party.
1. Clay divers who sink in a water bottle when squeezed.
2. Hard-boiled eggs getting sucked into a glass bottle.
3. Vinegar/baking soda volcano (even more cool when a cork is placed on top!)
4. Will It Float (guessing which objects float or sink)
5. Home-made slime with water, Borax and glue
6. Coke and Mentos explosions (note:to get 5 Mentos in at one time, we place them in a small tube, then placed the tube over the bottle to release them all at once. Kabaam!)
Unfortunately, we have no clue why any of the experiments work, so it's not like the children learned anything specifically scientific, but they DID learn that cool stuff happens when you try different things.
And also, there are many many ways to put an eye out.
(For more complete coverage of the party, read my wife's post.)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Over My Dead Body

A couple nights ago, I went to bed with a sinus problem that had been growing all day long.
I'm sure there was some barometric pressure thing happening that was causing my head to feel that is was about to explode.
So off to bed.
My sweet bride came to bed as well and pulled out a nice, thick paperback to read.

I'd popped a couple of Tylenol PM moments before and was waiting for sweet, precious sleep to arrive. My mind's pretty good with the power of suggestion. For all I know Cindy refilled the medicine bottle with TicTacs; it would still do the job.

As soon as I was cozied up under the covers in that perfect position that usually takes 27 tries to find, Cindy nudged me...
...You guessed it.
She wanted me to go switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer. After all, she was engrossed in a book, and I was doing nothing more than lying there with my eyes closed, imagining what it would be like to wake up in the morning and find my brains lying in a puddle on the pillow beside my right ear.

So off to the laundry room.
The clothes hadn't finished the rinse cycle. Hrmph.

Back to bed and 39 attempts to find the right position for what was sure to be my last night on earth.

At right about the time the TicTacs kicked in and the dreams began, Cindy nudged me once more to let me know she'd heard the washer make that noise like it's done for real.

Seriously, I'm on my death bed and she's concerned about laundry. And she dared to imply that I didn't love HER enough to perform this act of love and kindness.

I'll just have you know that if I spend my last breath changing the laundry, she is dang well gonna be folding it all herself in the morning.

(Note: I survived, if you were concerned. At least I survived the sinus thingie. Whether or not I'm alive after Cindy reads this is another matter. But just to increase my odds, I must say that I love to serve, and I know that Cindy does waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more than I even imagine. Love you, baby! Enjoy the book.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Giveaway--The Cluttered Wheel Of misFortune

My previous post--in which I publicly committed to cleaning my office--resulted in some very good advice and guilt-laden encouragement.

Let me just say for clarification: My office is clean; there is just a lot of stuff in it.

Clean stuff.


Both square feet of visible carpet get vacuumed regularly, and occasionally, there is a hint of desktop that is seen and able to be wiped or waxed or whatever you do to enhance the luster of such fine woodwork.


So please don't think I'm dirty, just messy. I'm sure you understand the difference.

My therapist has acknowledged that getting rid of some of the clutter could be difficult for me emotinally. As a minister who works with children a lot, I often find myself called uppon at the last minute to teach a lesson, or simply engage their little minds for X number of minutes.

It's not uncommon for me to have 3 minutes notice to be ready to step in and teach, and in those instances it's very helpful to have odd things sitting around my office. I just grab a bottle of vinegar--or anything else from that list--and head off to class. On the walk there, I just have to think of some object lesson or spiritual signicance involving that object.

So, as I prepare to clean my office next week, please know that the children of this church may be faced with object lessons using only paper clips, a tape dispenser or other common office supplies. There will be no more lessons using moldy wheat rolls and a half deck of Elvis playing cards from Vegas. (I kid you. I already mentioned in the last post that those wheat roll are staying a little longer for a purpose. Curious, eh?)

To soften the blow, though, I'm going to go with one reader's suggestion (burning4eternity) and have a giveaway. What a great idea. It will bring joy to my overcrowded heart to know that these valuable objects are going to good homes.

TO ENTER:
Just select an item from the previous post and comment on how it might be used to teach YOUR children (or spouse or dog or roommate or grocer) a lesson for life.

Example: the deflated mylar balloon reminds me that many things in life are temporary. We need to celebrate and find joy in every opportunity. Or the birthday balloon could just remind you how old and decrepit you're getting.

You never know. YOU could be the winner of a giant latex apron or a power drill. I'll probably construct a giant wooden wheel to spin and place all of your names on it. Even if you have a lousy comment that you don't think is as clever as everyone else's, the wheel could still pick you!

After spinning it and determining the winner, the big wheel will sit in the corner of my office for the next three years until the next big purge.


(O.K. for those of you who are lazy like me, here's the list so you don't have to go to all the effort of clicking that mouse to read the items from the previous post, but you will have to squint to read it: Scarecrows and other decorations from our church's pumpkin patch, A giant bottle of vinegar, two briefcases with combinations that no one knows, a box of rubber gloves, junk mail from 2003, a tin of wheat rolls from Christmas, a pirate treasure chest or two, two basketballs, a microphone stand, 12 basketball uniforms, 5 sample carpet squares, 10 bamboo sticks about 5 feet long, a guitar I haven't played for 2 years, a pirate costume, 2 giant latex aprons from a science lab, a large tupperware cake box, a collapsible soccer goal, a power drill, a deflated mylar birthday balloon from last year)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hi, My Name Is Scott, and...

I have a problem.

My wife told me about a recent Oprah show; I don't know that she saw it, but she must have caught a glimpse of the home of the "hoarder" that was Oprah's guest. This was a woman who must be a lot like me. I can't throw anything away.


Nor can I PUT anything away. I must leave it out just in case I need it...14 years from now.

I spoke with my secretary today, and next week I've committed to cleaning my office.

There.

I actually put it in print, and now both of my readers can hold me accountable as well.


Being a climate-controlled room--as opposed to my nasty garage which will always be either too hot or too cold to work in and clean--my office is a room I can go ahead and do some spring cleaning in even if the weather outside is frightful. So I'll have no excuse not to get this done some day next week.


A few of the things that may or may not survive the purge (either to be trashed or transplanted some place else):


*Scarecrows and other decorations from our church's pumpkin patch

*A giant bottle of vinegar

*Two briefcases with combinations that no one knows

*A box of rubber gloves

*Junk mail from 2003

*A tin of wheat rolls from Christmas (now I'll probably keep these, because it's kind of a practical joke of sorts. I'm sure I'm not the only one who understands this, right?)

*A pirate treasure chest or two

*Two basketballs

*A microphone stand

*12 basketball uniforms

*5 sample carpet squares

*10 bamboo sticks, about 5 feet long

*A guitar I haven't played for 2 years

*A pirate costume

*2 giant latex aprons from a science lab

*A large tupperware cake box

*A collapsible soccer goal

*A power drill

*A deflated mylar birthday balloon from last year


I don't know. Now that I scan the office and notice all of these things, I really don't know that I can get rid of any of it. Maybe it all just needs to be organized better.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The JamBag Will Alter Your Life

(Note: there are two posts today. This one is for intelligent, practical people who wish to make the world a better place. The previous one is for the rest of you.)

You’re on a road trip with the kids.
You’re cheap.
You have jam in a zip-loc bag.
You cut a hole in the corner.
You squeeze it out onto a piece of bread for a sandwich.
You’ve saved precious time and money on your trip.
You’re welcome.

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My wife was skeptical when I introduced her to the Jam Bag on our North Carolina trip this month. I don’t blame her; after all, the idea came out of my mouth.

Because I like to be efficient (lazy), it pains me to have to make too many stops on a road trip.
It also pains me to see my wife balancing all the makings for PB&J sandwiches on her lap while we’re driving.

So beforehand, we bought some jam at the store. I feel it is important to use JAM not JELLY. Jelly is much more chunky and coagulated and less likely to come out smoothly. I have no idea what the difference is between the two besides texture. If, for some reason, jam is made of nasty ingredients or by using immoral practices, I recommend just dealing with it and buy the jam anyway.

Then stuff a bunch of it into a Ziploc bag and get excess air out of there before sealing it. Next, double bag it…or triple. The last thing you want is jam all over everything in your cooler or picnic basket. I guess, if you know you’re not going to have scissors or a laser cutter available in the car at the time of sandwich preparation, you might want to pre-cut the corner of the JamBag before placing it inside the second/third bag.

Someone out there is going to comment and mention that they actually MAKE and SELL jelly or jam in squeezable bottles. Please, let us not forget that I am cheap.

Theoretically, you could also do this with peanut butter. It’s a little thicker and gooier, but I bet it could be done. You might just want to be sure to use heftier freezer bags.

I guess you could do the same with mayonnaise, yogurt, applesauce, mashed potatoes, paint, blood or other viscous material.

Again, you’re welcome,

and Happy JamBagging to you all.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Day The Music Died...Was Born...Whatever

I acknowledge that this could be the death of my blog. After all, most of my posts have a certain depth that resonates with the elite readership that my blog has attracted over the last several months.

But since my family will be closely following the contestants of American Idol for the next gazillion weeks, I might as well use this blog to discuss these weighty matters.

Other people are much more qualified to comment on the musical talent and vocal capabilities of the contestants. Therefore, I will do my best to share my opinions of things you really don't care about.
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First of all, Paula was wearing some kind of orthopedic/therapuetic gloves. Perhaps there is some carpal tunel action going on, but our prayers are with her, and hopefully she will heal quickly. In fact, with mine and Cindy's prayers going up this moment for Paula's wrists, I think I can say with confidence that the gloves will be gone tomorrow night.

Tonight all the contestants are singing songs from the years of their birth. Should be interesting.

Ramielle continued a trend we've been seeing a lot of this season. It seems that pulling your pants up really high (or wearing high-waisted pants lots of buttons) is all the craze. I don't want to sound like some effeminate fashion guru from E!, but I worry for my daughters who may pick up on this. I know my girls can watch people smoke, cuss and kill on TV and not mimic those behaviors, but I truly fear for what would happen if they copied the styles of some of these contestants. It's ALMOST enough to make me not let them watch this show.

Jason Castro surprised me by singing some song from 1984 that I had never heard before. I was hoping for "Islands In The Stream," so this was an absolute disappointment. Not even "Yah Mo B There" or "99 Luftballons?" On a positive note, I'm getting close to the point of not calling him Whoopie Goldberg anymore with those dreadlocks and all.

Syesha brought back the kinky hair tonight and sang another song I'm unfamiliar with, "If I Was Your Woman." As an English major, I became more than a little hung-up on the way the subjunctive tense was tied up like a hog in a pit. But if this were a grammar competition, I'm sure we all recognize that Syesha could still whip the tar out of Paula who committed no fewer than 50 verbal misdemeanors and got away without so much as a warning.

Chikizie continued the theme of singing songs I have never heard before. Evidently the births of these singers coincide perfectly with a period of my life that intense nuero-therapy has enabled my brain to successfully block, namely "middle school."(Yes, I caught that split infinitive.) My only comment on his segment is that the lower part of his suit coat looked like a flock of birds had pooped on it. I doubt that they really did, because I understand that with modern technology we can recreate the look of bird poop at a mere 50 times the cost.

Brooke had a horrifying moment when she started her song on the wrong note or something and had to start over. The fact that she didn't just stop and bang her head against the piano keys while saying, "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" clearly proves that she deserves to be in the top 10.

Michael Johns. I'm just going to say he reminds me of Billy Crystal. Please tell me someone else sees this too.

Carly, the Dubliner, showed off childhood pictures of her wickedly curly hair. Carly, if you bring back the fro, I will vow to call and vote for you for two hours straight. I so dare you. And "Total Eclipse of the Heart" is perhaps the best song ever created. If it were up to me, I would make her the automatic winner just for picking the world's greatest song. It's all downhill from here for everyone else.

David Archuleta is so fresh from the womb that the songs from his birth year are too hip and new for me or Cindy to know. I'm just impressed that someone as young as he is can walk and speak, much less hold a microphone and sing.

Kristy Lee scared me with the choice "Proud To Be An American," but the judges loved the pick. I guess I was just projecting and worrying that she would be as poorly received as I was the last time that I sang it. Perhaps the difference is that she can sing. Perhaps.

To wrap up the night, David Cook sang some ROCK song that I didn't recognize...at first. Then, near the end, I thought I heard the words "Billie Jean is not my lover." I rewound the DVR to confirm that he was in fact making Michael Jackson relevant again. Even though I'm doing my best not to comment about the actual singing competition, I'm coming up with a list of songs that I think David could turn into rock songs that would make me actually buy his CD. Here are a few of my suggestions: "The Hallulujah Chorus," "Kum Ba Ya," "Braham's Lullaby," "The Good Ship Lollipop," and the theme song from "The Golden Girls."
-----------------
So there you have my recap of sorts.
I hope it made your life richer.

Yippeeeeee! It's Bob O'Clock

Maybe you get excited when the clock reads 12:34 or 5:55. (Thank goodness there's no 6:66.)Sometimes we make wishes at those "magical" times. Others might punch each other or steal kisses.

But I'd be interested to know if any of you have kids who shriek with delight when it turns 8:08.



(I would have taken a closer-up photo of that clock on the stove, but when I zoomed in, it was obvious that it was splattered with grease and filth. I couldn't have the world know we live in these conditions.)


My kids call that Bob O'Clock. Get it?
Are your kids weird too?

Monday, March 24, 2008

WHY Didn't I Include This Video on Friday?

A few days ago, I wrote about WHY Jesus lived, died and rose.

Here's a video we found on YouTube to go with that thought. A young lady at our church sang this song beautifully this Easter, and it moves me every time I hear it. I just couldn't keep it from you.

The voice on the video is the original singer/composer Nichole Nordeman, but our singin' girl sounded just as good I'll have you know.
There are other video versions on YouTube and elsewhere using the Passion of the Christ or other live-action films (you should check those out too), but here's an animated version that is suitable for children to see as well.

I'll give you extra credit if you recognize what two movies were used to create this music video.



O.K. I couldn't just leave you hanging. The scenes of Biblical events of the crucifixion were taken from one of those Nest Entertainment videos, I believe. Good stuff, that whole series.

However, the other stuff with the girl riding the horse with her dad and such is from "Quest for Camelot." That explains why she's dressed more like a medieval peasant than a 30 AD jewish girl.

It also explains why she's running across a snowy field.


And crossing the Alps.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Naps Aren't Just For 36 Year Olds, Ya Know

When my lovely bride asked me what I wanted for my birthday (which was Saturday), I insisted that all I needed was a nap. Sweet, sweet rest.
I really don't need anything else. After all, there is still a half-block of Velveeta in the fridge.

Well, Saturday was also Easter Eve at our church. We had a big egg hunt with hundreds of kids, lots of resurrection activities, as well as two church services. I preached at one of those. Needless to say, there was probably not a nap to be had on my actual birthday. That's o.k., because I'm just not picky about specific days and such. Sunday was coming, and after 4 more services (big church, small worship center), I was absolutely certain the nap was coming and would be a balm to a weary soul indeed.

I am pleased to report that my birthday nap lasted about 3 hours and was as refreshing as any nap should be. I awoke to find a note from the children saying, "we'll be outside if you need us." How thoughtful.

But in addition to my nap, a block of Colby/Jack cheese (which, by the way, I would have named my son if I had one), an outdoor game, and a pair of Crocs, I also received the following written message inside a hand-made card from Brynne:

"Happy Birthday daddy
I hope you had a good time being 36 cas you are 37 now. I now I had a good time wen you wer 36. But you 37 now so say good by thows days are over. So have a good year being 37."

Yes, Brynne, 36 was awesome. And you've given me every reason to believe that 37 will be even better.

But just to be sure, I better sleep on it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

WHY?

Why? Ever since God first made man, people have been asking that question.
The asking of that question (and its partner “why not?”) has led to incredible scientific discoveries and advancements.

Why does it rain?
Why do objects fall down?
Why does the sun rise and set?
Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?

I know WHY we celebrate Easter: Because Jesus died, and then he arose.
But WHY did he die, and WHY did he rise again?

I keep finding that each answer I give only leads to more questions. We’re made that way. It’s just like when you answer a child’s WHY question, it only leads to a gazillion more:
“It’s time for bed.”
“Why?”
“Because you need to go to sleep.”
“Why?”
“Because your body needs about 8 hours of sleep every day.”
“Why?”
“Because that’s the way God made you.”
“Why?”
“Because He’s very smart and knew exactly what you’d need.”
“Why?”
“Because He’s God.”
“Why?”
“Because He just IS.”
“Why?”
“Because He was elected through a system of party delegates and a convention and series of primaries and caucuses and…”


If you start using big enough words, they may become disinterested and wander off picking their noses. Sometimes they really do want to know the honest-to-goodness answer to questions. Other times they just enjoy that you’re talking to them and that you’re letting what’s in your brain drip into theirs.
(Of course, there are some kids who do it intentionally to drive you absolutely bonkers. To those, you should just reply with, “That’s a great question. Since you’re obviously interested in the subject, let’s sit here and read a 570-page pictureless book about the matter, and afterwards I can give you a brief test to see if you understand it fully.)

Back to the issue of WHY Jesus lived and died and rose again…
I’m just going to boil it down to the following words of Jesus:

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

1. Through his ministry, his miracles and his teaching, Jesus brought life to so many. His message of love, hope and peace improved our quality of life and gave us a reason to live. The spill-over effect of a life that is full is that it impacts the lives around it so that the whole world can be changed.

2. In his death, Jesus gave us life. By being the sacrifice that took on the punishment we each deserve, he made it possible to hope for eternal life after all.

3. And because of his resurrection, we not only can HOPE for eternal life, but we can KNOW it’s real. In case anyone was still doubting, the resurrection proved that this is a God who has power over death and can freely give us life everlasting.

Everything that Jesus did was so that YOU might have life, and have it to the full!

THAT’S why we celebrate Easter.
THAT’S why we buy chocolate goodies and fill silly plastic eggs and dress up and go to church and cook and eat.
THAT'S why I get out of bed in the morning and do any of the things I do. (Meaning, because of life through Christ. I didn't mean to make it sound like I live for chocolate bunnies and spiral-cut ham and such.)

Happy Easter, and may you have life to the full, now and forever!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Unpaid Promo For PetCo and Hamsters that WON'T Eat Your Children

I’m sure that most of you who have dogs, cats, pot-bellied pigs and other such larger pets may care very little to hear about the goings-ons of those of us relegated to the status of “small pet owner.”

But I shall bore you with the details nonetheless.

First of all, it was brought to my attention yesterday that our previous hamster Pepper—may she rest in peace—is still entombed in the freezer in the garage. We’re debating over whether to bury her or throw her away. I’m a little nervous about burying her out back. It is not uncommon for the roaming neighborhood cats to leave the remains of moles and shrews on the patio or deck. The last thing we need around here is to see bits and pieces of our beloved Pepper—may she rest in peace—strewn across the deck as we look out from the dinner table. But just throwing her body into the dumpster seems disrespectful. Leaving her body in the freezer indefinitely is not an option; besides the fact that food and dead bodies probably shouldn’t share a freezer (at least she has her own shelf AND she’s double-bagged), there is the matter of us getting tired of crossing ourselves every time we retrieve a frozen pizza.

Two days ago, we went to Petsmart to buy a hamster. This is where all three of the previous rodents had been purchased, and we’d been pleased with the last two. The first one four or five years ago, Chubby, had been a dwarf hamster. Did you notice that I didn’t say “may she rest in peace” for Chubby? There is a reason. She bit. All the time. It’s a wonder we ever even bothered to buy another hamster after her. No one had ever held Chubby. We tried; the girls seriously would wear gloves and other protective gear, and we never ever ever figured out how to make Chubby like us. She is not buried. She went out with the trash when she finally died. Thank GOODNESS hamsters have a short life span.

For some reason, the kids wanted another hamster after this horrific first foray into the world of pet ownership. We told the kind people at Petsmart that our dwarf hamster had just died and we wouldn’t mind having another one that looked just like her because apart from being as mean as sin, she at least LOOKED pretty stinkin’ cute.

“Wow,” said the helpful employee. “I’m impressed that you all managed a dwarf hamster. They’re usually pretty mean and not good with children.”

Are you kidding me?! Why in the world would they even sell spiteful pets like these? Now, I could understand if this had been a pet store wedged in between a biker bar and a gun shop, but this was Petsmart, and all the giant pictures of hamsters led you to believe that hamster ownership was all rainbows, lollipops, glitter and joy.

Evidently, while dwarf hamsters were indeed cuter, we would be much happier with the regular hamsters.
Ever since then, we’ve only bought the full-sized versions: Caramel and then Pepper.

When we got to Petsmart on Monday, we discovered that all they were carrying were the dreaded dwarf hamsters (a.k.a "child eaters"). At least the signs said, “recommended for children 14 and older” so that parents who love their children would know to shop elsewhere. I didn’t ask if there was some reason why they currently only sold the spawn of Satan, because it really didn’t matter if they were getting regular, non-flesh-eating hamsters later in the week; my children needed a new hamster NOW.

We had to wait until yesterday to go to Petco. They are now my pet store of choice, because they clearly care about the well-being of my children. They carried no fewer than 8 or 9 varieties of hamsters, none of which sought to kill my children when brought out of their residences.

We finally settled on a short-haired hamster with beautiful golden brown fur. We instantly agreed on the name “Shorty.”
However, because it can be difficult to determine the ethnicity of a hamster, we’re debating on the following last names:

Shorty McShorterson
Shorty Hairoshima
Shorty VonDershortenberger
Shorty Durshortsky
Shorty Emilio Valenzuela Gomez
Shorty O’Hair (most likely to be selected since she was bought the day after St. Patrick’s.)
You're welcome to suggest other names if you're good at this kind of thing.

Oh, and if you were wondering about where Shorty is registered or if we’re having a shower, don’t worry about it. We pretty much have everything we need…
…except for a casket for Pepper—may she rest in peace.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Would You Like To Buy A Bowel?

Please forgive me, but every once in a while I have flashbacks to junior high and I giggle at things that mature adults don't even notice.

For example, while driving up the coast to see lighthouses yesterday, I insisted on turning the car around for the sole purpose of snapping a photo of this picturesque locale:
Really, I would've expected this neighborhood on the Outer Banks to be farther south than Nag's HEAD.

(I have to admit, if I were a teenager living near there, I would probably be stealing the "y" off the end about every other weekend myself.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Does Salmonella Have One "L" Or Two?

One of the problems about being part of a husband/wife blogging duo is that there are times when we race to the computer because we want to write about the same experience we have just shared.
Neither one of us would want to write about second; that would be so unoriginal.

So after tripping Cindy and booby-trapping the stairs, HA! You are reading this here on MY blog first.
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I like to keep things positive, but sometimes you have moments that are technically not positive. Lunch today was one of those moments.

I am a total cheapskate. It pains me greatly to be on vacation knowing full-well that there are fixin's for a really cheap pb&j sandwich back at the rental house but we are more than an hour away from said house.

I don't know if you're familiar with North Carolina's Outer Banks; essentially, the state contracted with someone to have this string of really long islands miles off the coast accessible only by an interminable van ride with 4 children who were told they could have ice cream which we gladly would've bought had this not been the last week or so of the off-season when everything is closed. So instead of making a meal out of ice-cream as planned, we had to resort to plan B.

We had with us a list of recommended restaurants, and one of these was actually open. I won't give the name of this restaurant because within three seconds I'm going to say some yucky things about it.
Three.
Two.
One.

There was a dog inside the restaurant (bad sign #1). This was not a seeing-eye dog, I presume, because there were no other customers (bad sign #2) and both the employees I saw made eye contact with me when I spoke. The dog was simply sleeping under one of the tables, having seizures and/or bad dreams. Quite possibly it was dying; after reading this post, you'll vote for that option.

Now, I don't know a whole heckuva lot about restaurant management, but I watched a movie once that led me to believe that live animals, feces and un-netted hair were no-no's in the business.

For some reason, we overlooked the dog and went ahead and ordered our BBQ pork sandwiches, hot dogs, chicken tenders and cheese fries. Evidently, in the off-season, hot dog buns are difficult to come by, but we convinced the kennel owner that we'd survive with another bread product. We were also forced to survive with little to no sauce on the BBQ sandwiches...and cole slaw that was made with perhaps no dressing of any kind.

And with the unforeseen potato shortage in the Outer Banks, we'd also have to forgo the cheese fries, thus making this an entirely cheese-free meal (bad sign #7 or 8; we stopped keeping count).

Another difficult thing to find in the off-season? Fully-cooked chicken tenders. Anyone looking at them from the outside would assume they were cooked through and through. In fact, the almost-black, crunchy exterior made me think they might be more than just a bit on the dry side clear through. Then my daughter asked, "Do these chicken strips have a creamy filling or something?" Cindy and I got deathly silent. We'd had a bad experience with raw chicken before.

I would normally reply with, "I just spent $30 on this lousy lunch that on the other side of this body of water would've cost a mere $8.75, so I don't care how unnatural it feels or how weird it tastes, you're going to eat all of it."

However, in the last 5,328 miles along the cost, I didn't recall having passed a hospital. I've seen "ER" enough to know how to do a tracheotomy or an amputation below the knee if ever called on to do so, but I'm fairly certain the treatment of salmonella poisoning requires neither.

So we rapidly concluded our meal. I asked for my money back for the uncooked chicken. I should've asked for ALL my money back, but it looked like they were going to be needing some extra cash for vet bills, judging by the deterioration of the dog in the corner.

You'll be happy to know that none of the children ended up getting sick...yet.
Aside from the lunch, the rest of the day was perfect. Check out the pictures of the day here on Cindy's blog. We saw three lighthouses, met one 92-year-old son of a lighthouse-keeper, rode two ferries, flew kites and built sandcastles on a beach, fed sea gulls and heard almost NO complaining.

Imagine that. We fed our children raw meat, and THIS was probably the meal they complained the least about on the whole trip.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Working Out While On Vacation

We're staying for a couple of nights at what my girls have labeled "The Best Hotel Ever." What put it over No-Tell-Motel and Shady Acres Rooms By The Hour, you ask?

1. The endless supply of free Otis Spunkmeyer cookies in the lobby. When the new stock of Chocolate Chip comes in, watch out!
2. There are no other kids that we have seen. That means we have the indoor pool all to ourselves.
3. Free Breakfast. (Of course, I know that "free" cookies and "free" breakfast means we just paid more for our room, but if we eat $100 worth of cookies, we'll just consider the room to be free.)
4. We also got four "free" backpacks/bags of goodies from the nice lady at the desk. The goodies included more cookies, lemonade mix and GOGGLES for swimming...big hit. The bags themselves are a little ugly, but hey, they gave they gave us two more bags than allowable by the fine print so I'm not complaining.
5. Finally, there is a fitness room with weights and equipment and such. We actually aren't ever going in there. Who needs to when you have:
Yes, that's my wife's luggage. It's my portable workout system. I haul it all to the car, to the hotel, to the bed, to the closet, and to the corner so I can take this picture. In addition to the big suitcase--the one on the bottom you can't see hidden by the purse--we have the shoe bag on the right, the laptop bag on the left, the toiletry/make-up bag on top next to the pillow which doubles as a carry for miscellaneous clothing items that didn't make it into the suitcase.

I should post some before&after photos of my biceps so you can appreciate just how much of a workout it is to travel with a WIFE AND FOUR DAUGHTERS.

I must admit, none of it's really all that heavy; there are just so many stinkin' bags. I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining. With a wife and four daughters, I've known for YEARS the difference between men and women and their packing habits.

And don't fret. My wife gets a workout too...if she chooses to carry MY bag and all that I've brought:

(O.K. That's just my hotel bag for the first couple of days, but my other bag is the same size and had room enough left to take a set of queen sheets for the bed at the rental house plus the pencil box which contains the girls' toothbrushes and tooth paste and deodorant. )

Thursday, March 6, 2008

We Are Terrible Parents

I KNOW that we are terrible parents.
Our daughter just TOLD us.

It was in the middle of Mom-and-Dad-Loudly-Sing-Songs-From-The-80's-Night at our house. We had just experienced a total eclipse of the heart and were about to get footloose when one daughter ran upstairs in honest-to-goodness tears . We kept singing despite the protests; in fact the only effect the complaints had was to make us want to sing louder.

Instead of applause, we received "You are terrible parents. And you are terrible singers."

Did we cry? No, we sang a little Lionel Richie to see if that might win the crowd over.

Didn't.

Then we discovered we were on to something.

"O.K. Kiddoes, everytime you disobey, we will sing another song!"

They did a wonderful job folding laundry and getting ready for bed after that.

Makes me want to break out into song, but our children have been quite good, so I won't.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I Suppose The Children Could Ride On Top?

[It's a Backwards Works-For-Me-Wednesday, so you get to help us with YOUR ideas.]

As we prepare for a spring break trip, we are faced with the age-old question:

"Which children do we have to leave at home so we'll have room for all our junk in the minivan?"

There are pros and cons for each child, and we're handling this very democratically. We are allowing each child 3 minutes to present their case why they should be allowed to ride in the van with us on spring break. There will be some debating and primaries, a caucus here or there. But the final vote will be made by Cindy and me. I'm sure we'll handle it fairly.

Naw. Really. We just got a car top carrier, one of those hard-shelled kind. Previously, we had borrowed a friend's carrier. That was sooooooo nice of them. But it was soooooooo bad of me when, immediately upon picking it up from their house, I plowed right into my garage with the crazy thing on top. (We need a taller garage evidently.)

While our friends are nice and willing to loan the cracked carrier to us again, I know myself and I'll feel much better damaging my own property than theirs a second time. So Cindy found a used one through Craigslist online. Now all I have to do is assemble it and ask my MacGyver daughter how to attach it to the roof.

THEN I have to figure out what to put up there.

Here's where I love your help and ideas. Do I put suitcases up there? (Panic strikes because I know as soon as I pack the cases up there, someone needs their hairbrush or blanket or other such necessity from on high.)

In general, what packing tips have worked for some of you out there in Cyberinternetoblogoland? We've got a 14-hour drive to North Carolina, and I desire that our travels be the stuff that dreams are made of. That's a reasonable expectation, right?

Monday, March 3, 2008

1 Hour and 30 Minutes Too Late

I started writing this over the weekend:

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It has come to my attention that visitors to my blog are from all corners of the world. I know I primarily blog about things regarding my life here in Indiana. I imagine that some of it just may not make much sense to those of you visiting from the jungles of Portugal or from a cave in the Himalayas...or L.A.

But regardless, welcome to my blog. Or shall I say:
  • Bienvenue
  • Willkommen
  • Aloha mai
  • Bruchim habayim
  • Irashaimasu
  • Hiku a nat la
  • Bienvenidos
  • Maligayang pagdating
  • Oonta gleebin gloutin glowbin
Also recently added
  • Howdy y'all (Texas)
  • Hello, eh (Canadic)
  • ...let me know if I'm missing your particular brand of greeting and I'll add it.
I’ve started keeping a list of every country my visitors come from. Granted, many of them “accidentally” pop in due to weird Google searches, and they’ll never ever come back.

But still, it’s a fun hobby to check Statcounter and see flags from the various countries represented each day.

So far, I believe that I have had visitors from more than 25 countries* and representing every continent on the planet……except for Antarctica.

In order to develop a reader base that far south, I’m throwing in this post. Be sure to send a link to any of your Antarctic friends.

Hi, all you Antarcticans! Welcome to my blog which, to you, must seem so very tropical and balmy...

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And that’s where I stopped. I was just going to delete it because it's stupid and because I realized that no one lives in Antarctica, right?

WRONG!
At lunch when I checked out some of the Statcounter information**, I saw that I DID have a visitor from Antarctica less than two hours ealier, and I hadn’t posted this yet. What are the odds? I am SO kicking myself for not finishing this awesome post in time.

Well, Antarctic friend, if you come back here again, please leave a comment and let me know! I'm curious about life in your neck of the woods. I've always wanted to know how your eyeballs keep from freezing, what does penguin taste like, and does making snow angels ever get old?

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**Big Doofus, I just want you to know that the Stat info is real. I didn't make it up or Photoshop it or nuttin'.

* In case you wondered, I have had visitors from: Antarctica, Argentina, Canada, Cayman Is., Dubai, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Iran, Israel, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Romania, Scotland, Singapore, S. Africa, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, United Arab Emirates.