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

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Long-Awaited Christmas Letter

Family Investigated For Potentially Attempting to Crash White House Pot-Luck Dinner

Official charges have not yet been brought against the Newland family of Bloomington, Indiana.
By Scott Newland, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009 at 9:43AM EST
Scott and Cindy Newland, along with their four beautiful daughters, are coming under close scrutiny after word leaked recently alleging that they had attempted to crash the White House Christmas state dinner last week.

“For the record,” said their attorney, “the Newlands haven’t even been in the D.C. area since 2007. The party that everyone is referring to was not at the White House but at the Whites’ house… Norm and Phyllis White. And they didn’t ‘crash’ the party. They were invited, and Cindy’s mistletoe toilet seat cover was the hit of their gift exchange.”
Nevertheless, the Secret Service has run extensive background checks into the various members of the Newland family.

It appears that Jenna Newland, third grader, is being monitored for potential misdealings in the art world. Her parents acknowledge that she is frequently working on art projects that she gives as gifts, but it is still uncertain whether they are originals or detailed forgeries. They seem to be far too impressive to truly be the work of an eight year old. There is also evidence of her involvement in local soccer and basketball gangs. Jenna appears innocent and happy-go-lucky 99.9% of the time, but it is the other 0.1% which is suspect.

According to an anonymous Secret Service spokesperson named Dwayne, 4th grade Brynne Newland may have political aspirations that make her an especially questionable subject. She is indeed part of her school’s student council, but it is unclear whether rumors of her plans to take over the world are exaggerated. Her interest in jewelry and fashion indicate that her sights are set on something high profile. Brynne also recently has been spied taking piano lessons and seems to be doing physical training through sports to prepare her for some upcoming mission.

Informants report that Shelby Newland is impersonating a fifth grader, but her height-- as tall as her mom-- could blow her cover. Monitors report that her time is split between sports such as softball, soccer and basketball, and voraciously reading every book series she can get her (literally) filthy paws on. Investigators are currently reading through her abnormally large volumes of writing. It could take another year to finish.

Of particular interest to investigators is seventh grade Cassie Newland. Previously, she had presented herself as a shy, unassuming girl, but now in middle school she continues to change her M.O. She has debated and even given a speech running for- and winning- a place in student council. To help determine her potential involvement with seedy characters, her 6,892,043 text messages a month are being monitored. Cassie, now a teenager, claims to love playing the violin. Investigators find this highly suspicious.

Cindy completed coursework and renewed her teaching license and has spent the last year and a half infiltrating the local school system impersonating teachers, primarily at Lakeview Elementary, where the three youngest Newland children attend. Informants say that she appears to be enjoying herself, especially during an 8-week stint in once class while the original teacher was allegedly on maternity leave. Her claims that she was formerly a Redskins cheerleader will be put to the test as she cheers on her daughters at basketball this winter.

Scott, the head of the family, is still posing as a minister, just completing his tenth year at Sherwood Oaks Christian Church. This provides the perfect alibi for the rest of his shady dealings. He continues to direct community youth sports programs with the church amid accusations of betting on preschool soccer.

Perhaps the most suspicious character is Cheddar the Maltipoo. Reports claim he has destroyed nearly 2000 pencils in the past year, but nobody is quite sure why or what the pencils ever did to him.

Inquiries into the family’s earlier whereabouts this year have revealed that they had been spotted in Florida in March gate-crashing a space shuttle launch, in Mexico in June crashing a building project for a home for a needy family, at Niagara Falls in July crashing a boat tour and in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in October crashing a humongous pancake fest.

The Secret Service anticipates completing their investigations by next Christmas. For now, the Newlands have issued the following statement:

“We know that we’ve been greatly blessed this year even if we weren’t invited to the White House. We’re thankful for you, our family and friends, and pray that you see God’s blessings in 2010!”

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Dime Bag of Tic Tacs, Anyone?

As the dean (master, king, dictator, commandant) of a week of summer camp, one of my minor responsibilities is dealing with homesick children.

It happens. And it's not just wiry little girls with pigtails, clinging to stuffed bunnies named Hippity.
No siree. We also have some "big boys" who clobber everyone on the tetherball court but then weep uncontrollably when it's time to hit the bunks.

Regardless of age, gender, or tetherball proficiency, my course of action is always the same:

"Susie," I might say.
"My name's Peter," he might respond.
Then I go on to explain the purpose of camp, the unlikelihood of vermin crawling on their faces in the night, and how their parents are partying like it's 1999 and do NOT want to leave the party right in the middle of the "Thriller" line dance to come out to camp and pick them up.

Please be assured, I'm usually very comforting and persuasive at talking kids down off their metaphorical ledges, but every other year or so, I encounter a really tough cookie.

So when "the talk" doesn't work, I resort to the Homesick pills.
They work EVERY TIME.

Now, the nurse doesn't administer the homesick pills. She can't even administer Tylenol or OxyContin without a parent's permission. So it falls to me to give children Homesick Pills when needed.

Most people just call them "Tic Tacs." But when they're in a different container, they're Homesick Pills.

"What IS this medicine," the kids will ask.
"It's a simple placebo," I tell them. I'm careful never to lie to the children. And they have no idea what "placebo" means.
"It will help you be able to calm down and rest just fine. And then in the morning we can talk about being homesick."

And sure enough, as soon as they swallow the Tic Tac, the sobbing begins to fade.

"Now give it about 30 to 45 minutes for it to start really working." (Because by then you'll be asleep and perfectly fine.)
"I promise you that everyone who has ever taken the homesick pills has ended up doing great and enjoying the rest of the week."

And that's it. Most of the kids thank me in the morning. "The medicine worked great!" they tell me. Only once has someone asked a second night in a row for another dose. But by the third night, that boy told me, "I don't think I'm going to need a pill tonight. I'm doing a lot better."

Of course, I make it a point to tell their parents what I've done. The last thing I need is their child telling them I've given them narcotics. And it's even a good thing to tell the child the whole truth at the end of the week. That way they know that they can take the credit themselves for overcoming their fears. It wasn't the "medicine." They had the strength and courage in them the whole time, because God made them that that way!

Fast-forward three months to our family weekend in the Smoky Mountains.
I'm suffering from a humongous sinus headache in the middle of the night and I just can't sleep. I had brought some allergy meds that help my sinuses, so I popped one of those in about 2 a.m.

By morning, the pain still hasn't left and I never really slept well at all.

"Honey," Cindy hollers down from the upstairs bathroom, examing my "medicine" bottle. "Did you take Tic Tacs in the middle of the night?"

They didn't help my sinuses, but at least I wasn't homesick!

Friday, October 2, 2009

No Laughing Matter [snigger, snort]

I generally like to find the humor in things.
It's a curse really.
Because some things just aren't funny.
Like Cancer.
Well, there IS that one sign/display at the exit of our grocery store. It's a large cardboard cut-out of an employee who is also a cancer survivor.
There's a quote from her encouraging all women to get breast exams.
OK. Not funny yet.
But then it gives her name and labels her "Front End Manager."

Are there any other junior highers out there giggling at the term "front end manager" on a breast exam sign.

Please tell me I'm not the only one hiding my chuckles behind a big handful of organic kale.

What? No one?

Well, honestly, folks, in spite of my juvenility, take your health seriously and get your various body parts checked out by the appropriate professionals, so you can stick around a good, long time.
Your friends and family deserve it and so do you.

Note: I made up the part about me actually holding organic kale. What kind of person do you think I am?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Your New Favorite Song!

Jenna and her sister Cassie were left alone with the laptop.

And now her singing career is off and running!
When you get to part where she goes "do oo oo oo oo oo oo oo," see if you can watch without puckering your lips along with her.
I dare you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Using an Economy of Words, For the Purpose of Brevity, in the Most Concise Sense...

I finally have figured out why I'm not clicking over to here to write posts as much as my soul craves:

It's all Facebook's fault.
I am not to be blamed.

It's been so much easier to post a quick one- or two-liner on Facebook than to come here and write the most prolific and life-changing posts to which you have become accustomed.

But there's no reason I can't do both. So for today, I've decided to share some potential Facebook statuses that I have not yet written:

Scott gets the point of the title "Biggest Loser" but thinks he probably should suggest that his kids not constantly refer to all the contestants as "losers."

Scott wonders...if the monkeys at the zoo do that when people are watching, what in the world do they do after hours?!

Scott is fricasseeing some chicken. ("Fricasseeing" means picking up some KFC in the drive-thru window, right?)

Scott refuses to say "octopi" as the plural of "octopus." I speak English, not Latin. Same goes for "cactus," "status," "walrus," "Prius," "schoolbus" and "Jesus."

Scott wants to say something controversial about healthcare reform so you'll leave lots of comments.

Scott wishes people would stop laughing at his Cupid Shuffle.

Scott was hoping that the music store going out of business was going to forget we were renting one of their violins.

Scott should probably not have left his lunch containing yogurt out in the hot car all day. And he most definitely should not have eaten the yogurt.

Scott wishes to remind people that the term is "shaved head" not "bald." "Balding," perhaps. Maybe "wispy." Possibly even "hopelessly and irreversibly thin on top." Remember that bald people have feelings too... I mean "shaved headed people."

There. Doesn't it seem like you know me better now?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Tale Of Two Hospital Stays

Today I had two friends/coworkers in the hospital.

One gave birth to a bouncy baby boy.

The other gave birth to a...well, I guess "gave birth" is not the proper term, but she had her gall bladder removed.

Now, I've had four babies, so I can relate to the whole birthing experience of the one friend. All the running to refill the ice-chip cup, the waking up every once in a while to hit "skip" on the CD player when it got to a particularly disturbing song, and let's not forget the important role of giggling into the bend of my elbow (more sanitary than into my hands) when the midwife at the hospital had my wife rocking on an enormous bouncy ball. So I know what you've been experiencing, Schmeejay and Schmirston (names have been changed in case they were wanting to keep the pregnancy a secret).

My other friend Schmemily's procedure (ironically, that's her actual name), on the other hand, is shrouded in mystery in my eyes. I'm full of questions like "will you bring home the gall bladder in a jar?" and "when do you get fitted for the wooden prosthetic gall bladder?"

I do know that she won't be able to lift objects more than 15 pounds for a while. Fortunately, her dog is a chihuahua and weighs approximately negative 12 ounces, so she's good there. Except for the likelihood of the dog treating the incision site like a trampoline.

Well, friends, I'm praying for you (using your actual names too, because I think God can be trusted to keep your personal medical information confidential unlike me who would likely post it on my blog if I get sloppy).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Have Created A Middle Schooler

She's been 13 years in the making, and now in 7th grade, we've decided to unleash her more fully on the world. (World, beware.)

The unleashing begins about 7:30 am when I drive her to school. The school is only one minute from my office, so it's totally super-convenient...EXCEPT FOR THAT 7:30 AM part.

I know some of you are morning people, and to you, 7:30 sounds late. By that time, many of you have shaved, showered, dressed, read 18 chapters of Leviticus, made eggs benedict, mowed the lawn, updated your Christmas card list and completed 7 Sudoku puzzles.

But for me, a 7:30 am departure means my Pop-Tart doesn't getted popped and I haven't shaved my head in like a week!

However, I find that my Popless-Tarts and my stubbly scalp are all worth it when I pull into that quaint piece of the American experience known as the school drop-off line. It thrills my heart to try to come up with new embarrassing things to holler out as she exits the car.

"Don't forget! There's a change of underwear in your lunch bag!"

"If you get stuck in your locker, don't worry. We'd miss by noon tomorrow and come looking for you."

Let me know if you have any other suggestions. If all goes well, she'll be begging to ride the bus to school in no time, and I'll be back to going to work at a respectable hour.

Monday, August 31, 2009

In Which I Post As If I Haven't Been Absent Forevuh...

I realized I'm not really good at writing during the summer.
(Critics might suggest I'm not really good at writing ANY time of the year.)

Well, fall is here, as are all my good intentions to write more regularly. But until I actually DO it, this is just an empty promise, so don't go making any major life-changing decisions based on this hollow commitment.

In the meantime, to answer all your questions about what I've been up to:

* I made some homemade pizza.
* I bought an actual shock collar for the dog with a button we can use to zap him whether he needs it or not.
* I watched TV.
* I took out the trash.
* I drained the pool.
* I folded some laundry.

So, clearly you can see why I've neglected the blog. WAY TOO MUCH DOING NOTHING 'ROUND THESE PARTS.

[Hold on. The dog's barking. I have to go push his button real quick.]

[Ah. There. Now's he's curled up in a ball, twitching. Good boy.]

Naw. I'm just kidding. Cheddar actually responds very nicely to the lowest setting which the instructions assure me provides just a hint of "stimulation." Enough to annoy him, but not cause any pain. While that seems to take all the fun out of having this device, I have to admit our purpose in getting it was helping train him better. So it's serving it's primary purpose.

I won't tell you what our sadistic unfulfilled secondary purpose was, but you can use your imagination.

Tomorrow starts a new month, and a new opportunity to write. Let's see if I take advantage of it. Any bets?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Oh, Canadia

After visiting Niagara Falls, I insisted that we take the Canadian route back home.

I'd never been to Canada before, so I was excited to experience this new culture and new landscape.

But lo and behold!

They don't even drive on the wrong side of the road! And not a single person has ended a sentence with "eh."
No moose have crossed the road in front of us.

No mounties.

And the pancake syrup at breakfast was fake, just like in the States.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Detroit tomorrow will be more of a culture shock than this place that claims to be Canada.

We DID eat at a place called "Moose Winooski's". It had a Canadian flag out front--and a cartoon moose--so we knew this might finally provide us with some intercultural experiences. And sure enough, we had our first taste of "Poutine" [poo-teen?], a traditional canadian delicacy comprised of french fries, gravy and goey, melty cheese curds. The waitress apologized and rushed to bring us some ketchup and vinegar for it as well. Yummy it was.

As was the schnitzel.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

After Watching Michael Jackson's Memorial Service...

On vacation, we've managed to watch about 27 recaps of the MJ memorial service.

Cindy just told me she has a few new ideas for her own funeral.

Maybe exchange Mariah for Mandisa and swap out Rev. Sharpton for cute little Charles Stanley. Other than that, pretty much the same.

Don't worry. Cindy's in excellent health, so don't everyone respond begging for tickets just yet.

Monday, July 6, 2009

It Seems Like We're Forgetting Something...

One of our [least] favoritie traditions in our family is the phone call we make on vacation to our good friend Kristin.

Pretty much, if she receives a call from us while we are out of town, she can pick up the phone and say, "Hi, you've reached Kristin, your personal rescuer who will gladly overnight you whatever you forgot or break into your house and turn off the iron you left on. What can I do for you THIS time, you big fat screw-ups?"

Yesterday, it was just a matter of climbing up on furniture to retrieve our passports and sending them to us while we are en route to Canada.

Thanks, Kristin. Please someday make some terrible error in planning your trip so we can bail you out.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ignore this post.
I'm just seing how well Blogger Mobile does with posting a text message from my cell phone. What will they think of next?

You're Welcome. You're So Very Welcome.

I am resisting with every ounce of my energy the natural tendency to apologize for not posting here in so long.
We've all read those posts where people who've been absent feel that they've done something wrong by not writing in a sweet forever. (I've done it myself, I'm sure.)
Do we owe it to our readers to explain or give excuses for our absence?
Do we feel compelled to make hollow promises that we'll post more regularly from here on out?

If anything, I feel that maybe I owe you all a big, fat "YOU'RE WELCOME!"

For the past couple of weeks--or longer--you have had an extra couple minutes added to your days by not being tempted to pop over here to read what you've been led to believe is the best durn writing in all the world.

Maybe with that extra time you have from not reading my posts, you've taken up new hobbies like learning CPR, so I'm directly responsible for any lives you end up saving.

Or perhaps with the time added to your life you've been able to spend more time in prayer and meditation and you've never felt closer to God than you do right now.

Words can't even begin to describe just how welcome you are for this gift I've given you.

If you really feel you must thank me, you may either:

a) leave a comment telling me exactly how your life has been changed for the better by my lack of posting
b) mail a check to a charity in my name
c) mail a check to ME
d) all of the above isn't a bad idea either

I really do plan on posting in the coming days about our Mexico trip and other such things. My wife has done a good job covering it, but I'll be doing it in a different kind of way. It'll be from the perspective of a bald man whose luggage was lost for a few days, so you know that will touch your heart in new and uncomfortable ways.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Please Join Me In A Celebratory Dance Involving Maracas

You will be happy to know that i finally get to change my clothes later today. I've been wearing these same shorts (day and night) since i got up on Wednesday.

Word has come that my bag--missing since Wednesday--has arrived and is waiting for me back in the US. Fortunately, we are going to the airport to pick up 100 more people to bring them back to build houses, so I'll have my toiletries and clothes in about an hour.

I can give Cindy back her underwear now!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Sure Hope Everyone Likes What I'm Wearing Today

Because that's what i'll be wearing for the next week or so since my luggage is in the Bermuda Triangle or sumpin'.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thank You For All Your Letters and Cards and Floral Arrangements

I know you've all been worried about my health, what with me not posting in almost a gazillion days.

But just so you know, the tests came back...and I'm not pregnant.

No, seriously, nothing's been up at all. I cant even say I've been any more busy than normal. My lack of posting can only be attributed to my laziness. As can the pile of clothes by the bed, the mess in the garage and my poorly-groomed goatee.

Right now I'm finding time and energy to write because i've got time to kill sitting in the airport since ALL SIX OF US MISSED OUR FLIGHT for our mission trip.

They changed the flight schedule without first asking us how that worked for us. Then they went and put long-term parking in the next county, set the security conveyor belt to .00000003 miles per hour and have the security shift change right as we're going through.

Save your pity and accusations, because lo and behold, they've put us on another flight which gets there EARLIER!

Later tonight, i'll pull up some old posts from last year so you can imagine what we're doing right now.

Thank you for your prayers for our safe travel. Add to them prayers for unseasonably cold temperatures that will agree with our fair-skinned family members.

You may hear from me again in a few hours when we layover in Vegas. Listen carefully for the sound of our children pulling on slot machine arms.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

American Idol: I Assume "Dope" Is A Compliment

Judges pick the first songs for each of the contestants.

And so far, after the first two singers, I haven't ever heard these songs. Danny with "Dance, Little Sister" and Kris with "Apologize."

Unfortunately, neither one of those two stood out to me.

Adam stood out though. But mainly because his in-ear monitors were positioned in such a way that he looked like he had pixy/elf/Vulcan ears. My suspicion is that the new Star Trek movie paid for this bit of promotional exposure. Kind of like those silly Coke cups on the judges' table. Simon praised his own song choice of U2's "One" which kept with the theme of "Songs Scott's Never Heard."

On to Chapter 2: which I would like to be able to call "Songs Scott Actually Knows And Sings To His Children In The Car On Long Road Trips."

Like "You Are So Beautiful" with Danny totally mixing up the arrangement. Judges really, really liked it, but I personally was hoping his voice would've cracked at the end like when *I* sing it.

Kris is departing from my suggested theme by singing "Heartless" and strumming his guitar. Lyrically, it's not as complimentary to the ladyfolk as Danny's choice. Simon had written Kris off after the first song, but this song brought him back into the competition.

Adam's singing him some "Aerosmith." To quote Cindy, "for someone who screams so much, at least he screams well."

You know, there's so much more I could say, but The Biggest Loser is on right now AND Brynne needs her hair braided.

Duty calls.
I'm just hoping a lot of Adam fans have daughters with hair that needs braiding too.
...or wives with necks that need shiatsu-ing.
...or husbands with backs that need waxing.

Happy Birthday to the Newest Member of the Family

Yesterday was Cheddar's first birthday.
We celebrated by buying him his first canned/wet/soggy/nasty/"gourmet" dog food.
Which he ate none of.
He DID lick the hollandaisse sauce I ended up pouring over it to cover the flavor of canned/wet/soggy/nasty/"gourmet".

Cheddar THEN:

Cheddar NOW:
(Cheddar's the one on the right. On the left is our buddy, Ben.)

Happy Birthday, Cheddar.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Best Mother's Day EVER

That's right.
Cindy said that this was the best Mother's Day EVER.

Even better than last year when I nearly forgot and she got diddly-squat.
Even better than the year before when I nearly forgot and got a diddly-squat knock-off.
Even better than the year before that when she got two diddly-squats.

(Actually, I have no recollection of past Mother's Day and their respective gifts.)

Mother's Day always falls about two weeks after her birthday, so I usually look at the calendar at some point and say, "Are you KIDDING me? Another holiday to make significant?"

She's not even MY mother, but she is THE best mother in the world, so that's something worth celebrating.

And this is how we did it:

Eggs Benedict for breakfast, or a variation on it. Toasted croissants sliced and topped with bacon, poached egg and hollandaisse sauce. Pyur delishussness.

Cheese fondue for lunch. (Gruyere, Emantaler, and Cheddar, yummmmmmmmm.)
Mushroom salad with homemade strawberry vinaigrette dressing.
Chocolate fondue for dessert.

And for her gift, a KitchenAid mixer to adorn the kitchen counter. I saved $160 with some discounts, so I splurged and got her the one that's big enough to mix a whole elephant. I'd been saving to build a fence for Cheddar (whose birthday is tomorrow), but at the last minute I caved and decided to make up for the last 12 miserable attempts at a Mother's Day present.

I think she was surprised.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Love That Girl...And Her Smile

In just a few short weeks, we will have our first teenager.

So far, so good, but people have warned me about what's in store. Interestingly, they've all been women who've looked back and reflected on the monsters they were when they were teenage girls.

But not my Cassie. She'll always be sweet, and she'll always love spending time with me, right?

Like today.
Cindy and the younger girls were all at musical rehearsal at church, giving Cassie and me a little time to run errands and be lazy. Yes, it's possible to do errands AND be lazy at the same time when all of the errands have drive-thru windows: the bank, the pharmacy, the barber shop. (I made up that last one. Can you imagine leaning your head into the drive-thru window?)

For lunch, Cassie and I enjoyed some quiet moments over pizza, just the two of us. This was the highlight of my day. [The Swiss cheese dip I just devoured with my wheat thins was a distant second.] We talked about school and friends and junior high next year and creative ideas for future VBS's at church. She did a lot of giggling and smiling.

I recalled our friend Kristin's comment about Cassie on my post a few days ago: "I love when Cassie grins!"

There really are few treats as wondrous as Cassie's grins. They erupt out of nowhere at times. They feel like a subtle gift that she is bestowing on you to let you know that you're funny or loved...or insane.

It's not that these smiles are rare, but they're given very deliberately, and the look in her eyes magnifies the significance of the event.

Even when I'm embarrassing her (which dads do occasionally), I can count on the eyes rolling, but when the spiraling eyes are accompanied by her grin, I know that I'm not scarring her for life.

I wish you ALL were blessed to be the lucky recipient of one of these:

And for those of you who assumed that I would follow such a tender moment with some sarcastic or flippant bit of humor, shame on you for underestimating my sensitive side.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I Am A Numbskull

I feel it is important for you to know that I am resting nicely in the dentist's chair as I type this.

He's left me alone for a short while as the novacaine works its way slowly across my entire body.

I've only had one cavity, and today's visit is to deal with that spot. Even though he said he's going to refill it or cover it, I have a suspicion that he's primarily going to hammer and chisel and buffet me with chains and rusty scrap metal.

Well, before the numbness spreads to my thumbs and prevents me from writing, I figured I better pen my last will and testament really quick.

I, Scotth, being of soundth mindth, doth herthby bequeathth...

Oh, time's up. I can no longer feel my tongue...or my spleen, and the dentist is sharpening his chain saw in the next room.

Tell Cindy I love her.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Happy Fun Pills

My daughter Shelby (10) was concerned last night following the commercial about an antidepressant which could cause, among other things:

Mood changes
Thoughts of suicide
Increased risk of death
High fever
High blood sugar
Uncontrollable muscle movements
Impaired motor skills
Trouble swallowing.

It kind of made her confused about the definition of "antidepressant."

I won't mention the name of the medication. In case you're currently taking it, I didn't want you to get depressed about your imminent seizures, comas, strokes, death and all.

Sleep well!

Save The Toothbrushes

Historically, I have a hard time throwing anything away.

Most of the time, it's just old junk and eventually crawls up my leg and chokes my soul.

But occasionally, I get to say, "it's a good thing I didn't throw THAT away 12 years ago, because just look at this amazing use I found for it TODAY!"

Then this validates my hoarding gene for another 12 years.

Take your old toothbrushes, for example. It's recommended to replace your toothbrush every 6 months. That's why they try to schedule you twice a year for dental visits: so you can get your free toothbrush. Instead of you just buying a $3 toothbrush every six months, they schnooker you into a $120 dental visit so you can get your "free" toothbrush.

Well, that's a lot of old $120 toothbrushes for a family of 6 over the course of time.

Here are some uses for them that I have found practical:

-scrubbing the shower door track
-cleaning grout
-applying highlights to my wife's hair
-painting techniques
-brushing the dog's teeth
-scrubbing out stains on clothes
-getting that gunk out of the nose piece on my glasses
-I bet YOU have even more ideas

Now I'm trying to find uses for all my old, used dental floss...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

AI Top 4--Two Words: Suh lash

Actually, it's just one word: "Slash."

As in the name of tonight's mentor, in all his curly-haired, sunglassed, nose-pierced, 80's rock glory, who coached the contestants on how to rock it for our Rock n Roll themed night.

And who better to start the night off than Adam? He sang some Led Zeppelin song, and let's face it, i just dont know rock music. (I know. You're totally caught off guard by that bit of revelation, but it's true. Rock's not my language. Therefore, I'll have a hard time judging tonight's singing. So just humor me while i fake my way through it.) Well, Adam had this rock-y vibrato thing going on that I found less than necessary. The judges, on the other hand, loved him almost to the point of marriage proposals.

Allison, was much better for me with "Crybaby"...or perhaps "Cry, Baby." It didn't involve a lot of screaming or excessive eye-liner, so that's a plus. On the down side, she admitted she went to Adam's "hair girl." This explains the random natural purple highlights. The judges weren't overly excited about her performance, but they'd raved so much over Adam's perfection, that maybe everyone else should just go home.

Next is a DUET with Kris and Danny! The best parts were their harmonizations. I could listen to that all night. Randy agreed with me.

OK.During this commercial break, I'm going to throw in stuff from an American Idol post I did last Wednesday night. A lot of you just pop over here on Tuesday nights to read my reviews, so I'm including this again for those of you who missed this later add-on, because let's face it, it's mind-blowing. Those who are here throughout the week and already read this next part can just skip ahead.
You know what I haven't done this year yet?
Go ahead guess...

O.K. I'll give you multiple choices options:
a) Waxed my eyebrow(s)
b) Pumped out the septic tank
c) Pay my speeding fine
d) Provide photographic evidence of the comparisons between your favorite Americal Idol contestants and their twins in the world.

Actually, I've done NONE of these things yet.
I have no intention of waxing my brow.
I hope my septic tank continues to hold an endless supply of our waste.
I haven't paid my speeding fine (but I suppose I'll cave eventually).
And right this very moment I will share with you, my readers, the joys of knowing that we each have our doppleganger in the world somewhere.

For Matt Giraud, his twin is Tom Hanks.
Technically, it might be his father more than his twin, but these days with freezing embryos and all, I guess it could be possible for Matt to be the father of Tom. Who knows?

This one you probably spotted from day one. Danny Gokey and Robert Downey, Jr.
Now I think I've mentioned it three or more times that Allison is Rachel Ray's little sister.

If we could only get Allison in the kitchen to whip up a shrimp pasta, hearts of romaine salad and a creme brulee in under 30 minutes, you'd finally have the proof you were waiting for.

And don't you think that Kris has a cute, boyish quality?
Kind of like this cute, boyish chimp in space?Come on. You're not really taking offense at the fact that I'm comparing your boyfriend Kris with a monkey, are you? It IS a cute monkey.
It could be worse.

At least I didn't make the following comparison for him:

I know. I was speechless, too, when I first made the connection.
Maybe you've made your own observations about look-alikes for these contestants. I could be wrong about some of my guesses.
Until I get close enough to prick some fingers for blood samples, I won't be able to be 100% certain that Adam and Liza Minelli were wombmates. Until then, though, we also won't be able to rule it out.
Thanks for indulging me. Unless you didn't, inwhich case thanks for nuthin'.

Now back to our current show with Kris singing a solo, "Come Together" which I think is a Beatles thing. It was great, but Kara D. didn't dig it. I'm not going to put a lot of stock in the opinions of a judge who shows up in public in black leather and metal studs with her hair slicked back. Simon compared it to making a meal out of ice. Maybe he meant that it was "cool."

Danny's doing "Dream On" by Aerosmith, which I'm expecting be big, real big. It involves some screaming and shouting. Literal screaming. Like horror-movie-pull-back-the-shower-curtain screaming. Randy thought it was all right. Kara thought he took it too far. Paula's a fan. And Simon copied my comment about a horror movie scream, because he wants to be just. like. me.

And finally, Allison and Adam are going to holler us up a duet, "Slow Ride." Should I be concerned that my daughter is singing along? How does she know this song? Each did better on their own than they did together on this song. But the judges were more impressed than I. Final comments from this performance come from 8-year-old Jenna: "tight pants look better on girls than boys, ew."

All four singers are great at their art, so I'll have a hard time guessing who'll go home tomorrow night.
Based on past voting, maybe Kris or Allison.

But it's up to America to vote, and my fingers are too tired from typing to dial a phone, so it's up to the rest of you.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

We May Have Made Some Progress In The Area of Not Barking

We held off as long as we could.

It just seemed inhumane to attach an electric box that would send pulses racing through our puppy's neck each time he barked.

But compared to the electric pulses that were racing through our ears, down our spines and out each pore of our bodies--nay, our SOULS--we felt it was time to give it a try.

Our children had purchased a prank shock pen for April Fool's Day. When an unsuspecting [formerly known as] friend clicked it, it would shock them. So they'd practiced on themselves, and while it was shocking and unnatural, it wasn't consistently. lethal. And whatever number of years it's taken off their lives we really wont know for a while now, will we?

A couple of days ago we caved and borrowed a bark collar for Cheddar. It's designed to send a gentle pulse with the first bark, and then build if the barking continues.

So the sound around here the last couple days?

Instead of:

It's been:
"Bark! Yelp!------silence"

Sweet silence.

And it only took a couple of times for Cheddar to figure it out.

Today, the doorbell rang. Usually that's an invitation to bark in a manner befitting a lunatic hyena hyped up on espresso.

But tonight, when the doorbell rang, Cheddar just looked at the door and sat down wagging his tail. And he wasnt even wearing the collar, and hasn't since yesterday.

We're getting one of those collars for each of the girls before our next car trip.
Don't hate me because I'm smart.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

"The Tale Of Swift City"

Kids can be so frustrating sometimes.

Amazingly, they can hop in the car with 20 or more items, but when you get home, they hop out and only take 2 of those things with them. So if you are familiar with math and the laws of physics, then you can calculate that there are exactly 762 items left in the back seat.

Invariably, when it's time for bed, they will want one of those all-important items.

For example, last night Cassie asked me if I would go out to my car to get "The Tale of Swift City" for her. Incredulous at her laziness (after all, it's taken me 38 years to master my laziness techniques), I asked, "Why don't you get it yourself? Are you incapable of walking out to a car?"

Her response was, "I don't know how to get it." Whatever that means.

I wasn't in the mood to give my smart alec daughter lessons on how to walk to a car, open the door, dig through the 762 items and carry back the book she was looking for. In the same amount of time it would take to belittle her and make me a bad dad, I could just go out and get the book myself.

So I marched out, making sure I sighed loudly enough to be heard across the house. I found at least 12 books in the back seat. We had gone to the library the night before, because they desperately "needed" more books or "we will die." After finding all their life-saving books in the back of the car, I wondered how any of them had survived the night.

Anyway, her requested book was not there. I told Cassie, "I found a dozen other books, but not 'The Tale of Swift City.' " This was spoken with the added visual effect of smoke coming out my ears.

She peeled her eyes off the TV and grinned really big at me.

"The Taylor Swift CD," she chuckled.

Oh, I knew right where that was.
Among the 762 items that I've left in the front seat.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Petticoat Junction

There are a few things that creep me out about being a husband and father.

I’ve never had a problem with the whole poopy diaper thing, and cleaning up vomit from sick children/wife is a piece of cake (or chicken or pasta as the case may be).

But here are a couple things you male readers out there will understand. At least I HOPE you will. I hate to think that I’m the lone freak out there.

Thing Number One (the husband thing):
Shopping for Lingerie
While we all have to admit that this stuff looks especially pretty on our wives, the buying of it presents a slight problem for some guys. You see, we have to actually go IN to a lingerie store or a section at a department store. And do you know who else is in those stores? Lots of women.
And college girls.
And teenagers.
And old ladies.
And perverted men. At least that’s how I feel.

This week was my wife’s birthday, and I wanted to get her some accessories for her birthday suit, so off to Victoria’s Secret I went. I also visited the “Unmentionables” department at Target. The mood was the same in both places. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. If only I’d had a big flashing sign that said, “It’s OK. I’m shopping for my wife.” Instead I felt like I had a big flashing sign that said, “Run away! I’m either a cross-dresser or I’m buying something for my mistress or whatever other filthy scenarios are fodder for creepy movies these days.”

My first trip to VS this week, I didn’t stay long at all. I realized I didn’t have my money with me, so I wouldn’t be able to buy anything anyway, and I didn’t want to be the guy who just drops in there simply to “browse.” When I finally had cash in hand, I felt a little more comfortable. Store employees (all of them) took turns coming by to see if I needed “help”. Unfortunately, none of them carried any of the muscles relaxers that I was needing to lower my paranoia level, so they were no help at all. I did, however, manage to mention “MY WIFE” no fewer than fourteen times so that all within ear shot would know for certain my reason for being in the store.

Finally, I found a mannequin that wearing exactly what I wanted to buy, but of course it was the last of its kind in the color I wanted. Given my irrational insecurities in that store, I was too nervous to ask one of the employees to strip down the plastic lady. They had one other piece in a different color which actually turned out much better for Cindy’s coloring, thank you very much. (I'll see if she'll let me take a picture of her in it. She looks greeeeeeeeat.)

Then I was off to stand in line behind all these young ladies who I’m certain were embarrassed that this almost-middle-aged man had to witness the cashier holding up each individual item.

As if the whole in-store experience wasn’t a big enough coronary experience, they packaged my purchase in a dainty striped bag that screamed to everyone in the mall that I'd been shopping at "Tawdrywear 'R' Us." That old lady with the walker couldn't scoot away from me fast enough.

I’m wondering if it might not feel so dirty if the name of the store was something other than Victoria’s Secret. It might be a totally different experience if it were called Victoria’s House of Bloomers or Victoria’s Shop For Men Buying Stuff For Their Wives.

Earlier in the post I’d indicated that there were a couple of things that were disturbing as a husband and father. After telling you about Thing Number One (the husband thing), I don’t know that I have the energy to talk about Thing Number Two (the daddy thing) until I’ve given my ticker a rest.
Maybe tomorrow...or never. I'll check with my doctor first.

In the meantime, do any of you men share my shame?
And are any of you women creeped out by men in your panties store?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

American Idol--Separated At Birth 2009

You know what I haven't done this year yet?
Go ahead guess...

O.K. I'll give you multiple choices options:
a) Waxed my eyebrow(s)
b) Pumped out the septic tank
c) Pay my speeding fine
d) Provide photographic evidence of the comparisons between your favorite Americal Idol contestants and their twins in the world.

Actually, I've done NONE of these things yet.
I have no intention of waxing my brow.
I hope my septic tank continues to hold an endless supply of our waste.
I haven't paid my speeding fine (but I suppose I'll cave eventually).
And right this very moment I will share with you, my readers, the joys of knowing that we each have our doppleganger in the world somewhere.

For Matt Giraud, his twin is Tom Hanks.
Technically, it might be his father more than his twin, but these days with freezing embryos and all, I guess it could be possible for Matt to be the father of Tom. Who knows?

This one you probably spotted from day one. Danny Gokey and Robert Downey, Jr.

Now I think I've mentioned it three or more times that Allison is Rachel Ray's little sister.
If we could only get Allison in the kitchen to whip up a shrimp pasta, hearts of romaine salad and a creme brulee in under 30 minutes, you'd finally have the proof you were waiting for.

And don't you think that Kris has a cute, boyish quality?
Kind of like this cute, boyish chimp in space?Come on. You're not really taking offense at the fact that I'm comparing your boyfriend Kris with a monkey, are you? It IS a cute monkey.
It could be worse.

At least I didn't make the following comparison for him:

I know. I was speechless, too, when I first made the connection.
Maybe you've made your own observations about look-alikes for these contestants. I could be wrong about some of my guesses.

Until I get close enough to prick some fingers for blood samples, I won't be able to be 100% certain that Adam and Liza Minelli were wombmates. Until then, though, we also won't be able to rule it out.

Cooking From Scratch...and from Memory

"Cantaloupe Dump Cake"
"What To Do With That Angry Cantaloupe In the Back Of the Fridge"

I actually love to cook. It would do my heart good if Cindy would let me cook her some fancy steak meal for her birthday, topped with bleu cheese and bacon. (Those of you who are working on diagramming that sentence, be sure to have the steak topped with the bleu cheese and bacon, not me.) Maybe also an original salad and a side of stuffed tomatoes or sushi.

But, alas. Cindy is of the opinion that birthdays are not a time for cooking in the house and having dishes to clean and tables to wipe down. So it's off to a nice restaurant to give others the joy of cooking and cleaning and wiping.

While I'm thinking of cooking, though, I will leave you with a delicious recipe I found at allrecipes.com this week. I'm not going to bother looking up the recipe right now, because I find it much more exciting to try to write the recipe from memory. You should try living on the edge like that, too, sometime. It's very liberating (unless you're preparing raw pufferfish. That's stuff's lethal if prepared wrong. Cantaloupe isn't nearly as unforgiving.)

A few days ago I was looking at that cantaloupe in the back of our fridge. It was starting to whimper, hidden behind a gallon of salsa, worried that it would be forgotten. So I pulled it out and checked allrecipes.com for an idea of what could be done with a cantaloupe that--quite frankly--should probably have been thrown away at that point. We've always eating our cantaloupe raw like watermelon, but I thought I'd see if a softer melon could be fine for some other recipe.

So here is what the recipe was (I think):

First off, I cubed up about half of a cantaloupe.
I tossed it with
1/3 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup of sugar
1 Tbsp of flour
2 Tbsp of melted butter
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of nutmeg
1 tsp of vanilla
(I actually doubt all three of those ingredients were supposed to be a teaspoon, but I believe I didn't feel like dirtying other measuring spoons so I just rounded them all up. Excuuuuuuuse me for being lazy.)

Then I poured that juicy mix into an 8x8 baking dish.
and covered with
1 box of white cake mix (just the mix, not the actual cardboard box)
1 melted stick of butter (1/2 cup) poured over the cake mix

Baked it for 45 minutes.

It ended up tasting awesome and all the kids wanted seconds. With the spices, it really tasted more like an apple pie, and no one would've guessed it was a dying cantaloupe.
More mind-numbingly thrilling ideas for your edification at the Works For Me Wednesday weekly festival of joy and planetary peace.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

American Idol, A 5-Pack of Rats

Tonight, for Cindy's 29th birthday celebration, I should probably step away from the internet and give her a little attention.

I probably SHOULD, but then I'd have nothing to do while she's blogging her fingers to the bone.

So I'll do likewise and let you know my heart-felt opinions about tonight's Top 5 competition.

I guess they're singing Rat-Pack Era diddies (ditties? ditees? diteez?) which I think should be good. For one thing, it'll probably put the kabosh on the screaming and yelling we've come to expect from a couple of contestants.

Let's see what these fellers bring...

Kris Allen sang "The Way You Look Tonight." I love this song, and I loved Kris' singing it. I honestly could sit and listen to him sing a whole concert of this genre. Here is where I usually say something incredibly witty, but with the birthday festivities, I'm just beat, so you'll just have to insert your own bit o' wit yourself. Seriously, folks, I can't be expected to carry the full load of snarky-humor responsibility here. Love is a two-way street, people.

Allison sang "Someone To Watch Over Me" which may or may not be the title of that movie with Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter where he's a fire-fighter pilot who dies (oops I just ruined the movie for those who haven't seen it yet) and he watches over her as a ghost (oops, giving away more) and at the end, he conducts a school orchestra or something. But back to Allison: I like hearing her in ballad mode, mostly because I am getting too old for the louder yelling music that's so popular with the kids these days. Note: she's looking as much like Rachel Ray as ever.

Matt is doing "My Funny Valentine" which will probably work even though we're considerably past Valentine season. I guess he could make it a little more relevant with "My Funny Easter Bunny." The judges were in disagreement about the level of Matt's "connection" with the song. Simon was particular complimentary with an "absolutely brilliant."

Danny did "Come Rain Or Come Shine." I didn't recognize him in the video segment with a hat and without his glasses. (Speaking of glasses, by the way, I just ordered new spex for my vision needs, and they might be Danny Gokey-ish. Actually, they're Randy Jackson brand. I'll show you a pic once I get them.) Well, Danny, you did awesome again, really awesome. He brought a lot of oomph and power to his song.

It should noted at this point that Paula has clearly been working with her grammar coach. Subjects AND predicates? What a concept!

Last up, Adam Lambert with "I'm Feeling Good" or maybe that's not the title, but those are some of the lyrics at least. I'm still not really a fan of the high-pitched yelling, which he ALMOST made it through the song without. But Paula liked it and called him her "Micheal Phelps." If you didn't get to watch the performance, you may not understand the comparison. It makes sense though when you realize he performed shirtless in a Speedo and swim cap. (Just kidding.)

They were all good tonight. Most were even great. But who has the most fans/voters?

Adam appears to be the front runner, but at what point do people realize that album sales for the virtual love-child of Queen and Meatloaf (Queenloaf?) may possibly be limited and start moving their votes over to singers who will sell actual CD's that *I* want to listen to? (After all, this competition is all about ME, right?)

So, be honest. Are you an Adam fan? Not just believing that he has skilz (he absolutely does), but do you LIKE the style and would you pay money to listen to him? I promise I won't mock you [much] if you say you do.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Touching, Enlightening, Disturbing

I often go long periods of time in between checking in with my statcounter data. One of my favorite things to check out is the searches that landed people unwittingly at my blog.

Top on the list continues to be the 30-gazillion people suffering from blisters in their throats.

"blisters in throat"

"blisters in my throat"

"i have blisters in my throat"

and other variations.

Throat-blister-sufferering accounts for 1 out of every 4 searches that brought them here in the last few days.

Granted, I had been among their ranks at one point, but I feel bad for them because they've probably clicked over thinking I may offer relief, but pretty much the only advice I can give them is "Don't expect any sympathy from Cindy." See her comment on that post if you doubt me.

Next on our list of visitors to the blog via Google is our dear friend interested in...

"dried feces for toothpaste"

Please tell me that search was merely the result of a typo. I'm guessing he/she (who are we kidding; it was a "he") probably meant to search...well, I can't think of thing that could have been instead.

And finally,

"Are hamsters from Petco able to have kids"

Actually, from my experience, it's the hamsters from PetSMART that "have kids." Now, I don't mean "have kids" like "make babies." I mean "have kids" in the way you have a hot dog or have a slice of cheese. As in "those man-eating hamsters from PetSmart had my kid for lunch."

I'm glad you found me, folks, regardless of how sick (in any sense of the word) you may be.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Our House May Very Well Be Haunted

Sometimes strange things happen around here.

Usually we can attribute it to the fact that we are just plain weird. This explains things like the ice cream for breakfast, the boo-boo bunny on the chandelier and the half-eaten chapstick.

Occasionally, though, something will defy explanation.

Take, for example, this evening. Cindy and I came home from the school's fund-raising auction late tonight. (You're welcome, by the way, Lakeview Elementary. We don't normally spend that much money for art done by kindergarteners, especially when we're not related to any of them. But it was a for a good cause...and much easier to justify than if we'd brought home that case of liquor for the same price.)

Anyway, when we came home we found that Jenna had a wad of peanut butter IN HER HAIR. It's 10 o'clock, and my 8 year old had about a teaspoon of peanut butter just sitting there above her ear.

I wiped it off and showed it to her, at which point she said...

...[first insert eerie music]...

..."I haven't even had peanut butter for a couple of days."

[music reaches a sudden sforzando. I don't know if that's really the musical term I'm looking for, but just imagine whatever they call the kind of music that suddenly plays at the moment you realize that the phone call is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!]

It's bedtime, so the mystery of the Peanut Butter Hair will have to wait until morning.
On the other hand, the Case of the Half-Eaten Bag of Cheese Puffs was a no-brainer.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

American Idol, Top 7, Again

I'm already beating myself up for not having a more creative title for this post. While it's an accurate title, it just doesn't have that oomph, that je ne sais qua, that emotion-jerking pull to which you have become accustomed.
My previous post's title alluded to "sacrilege." This one...? Nothin'.

So if the title disappoints you, I'll just have to work extra hard to ensure that the body of this post yanks you right out of your seat, slaps you around the room a few times and flings you out a window like a day-old tuna panini.

I can't tell you how excited I am to see that it's Disco Night tonight on AI. It's just a shame that I can't disco dance AND blog at the same time which I'd love to attempt, biutt I':m ptrryt sguree ity woudlt engd uop loogkinhhgi likre thiiios.

Lil kicked off the night with "I'm Every Woman" and totally underwhelmed. She sounded more like "I'm Every 5th Woman." Judges weren't too favorable, which is scary for Lil because let's not forget that not one, but TWO singers are heading home tonight.

Kris pulled out his guitar and extensive collection of bar chords to sing "She Works Hard For The Money." He sounded great, very mellow but solid. I must have been distracted by the smell of the Bath and Body Works Pomegranate that Cassie sprayed on my armpits, because I totally missed why in the world the judges were talking about ladies' undergarments. I think I can safely assume that it originated with Paula.

Now Danny finally brought the Disco funk to the night. He didn't just sing a song from the disco era, he made me want to get my bell bottoms, platform shoes and those glasses with the nose grip that Steve Martin invented in "The Jerk." Judges were extremely favorable.

16-year-old Allison sprayed on some latex and then bedazzaled (TM) her flesh for "Hot Stuff." (My daughter will be 16 in three years. Why can't these contestants dress like Laura Ingalls?) Well, the song was rockin', maybe too much so as Randy pulled out the phrase "over-indulgent." Despite the number of words that poured forth from Paula's mouth, I believe they were actually all arranged grammatically correctly. I checked.

Adam Lambert? Who ARE you? Slow ballad, reasonably-combed hair, and dark suit? Looking good, but he still was wearing some Severus Snape-looking mondo ring on his pinky and threw in at least one bite-the-head-off-an-animal shriek. I didn't recognize the song, because there wasn't an ounce of disco in it, and right now I'm craving me some true disco. Presumed compliment from Paula: "It's as if you tore your heart out and left it on the stage." I have totally just thought of a great storyline for "Grey's Anatomy."

Oh yeah, baby. Matt is "Stayin' Alive." What a great choice for the guy who almost got sent home last week. He's demonstrating great vocals and runs. He's groovin' with the back-up singers and whippin' out the falsetto like it's a Parmesan cheese grater at Olive Garden. I may just suggest that this could be the second hottest song of the night.

All right, let's see what Anoop does with "Dim All The Lights." Don't take this wrong, but he looks great with facial hair. It makes him look more grown up and less like some cliche ethnic participant, whatever I mean by that. Facial hair also balances out his manly eyebrows, I believe. He probably did fine with the song, but I don't think the audience was digging it as much as the other singers, because the applause and cheers died incredibly quickly, and Simon labeled it "mediocre at best."

I'm figuring at this point, a lot of people are just voting for who they want to see win, like a popularity contest more than a singing contest, so I'm predicting this week's bottom three will be a repeat of last week's, even though I think Matt should rise up a little farther.

Well, I better go. My daughters are probably expecting me to do a little disco dancing. They didn't SAY so, but I can tell by the way they quickly said good night and ran up to bed when the show ended.

"Wait up, girls!! I got some moves you'll want to check out!! Get a load of this point up and down and up and down..."

Sheesh. I've never seen them brush their teeth, hop in bed and turn out the lights so quickly. They must not be feeling well, poor things. Maybe in the morning.
Be sure to pop over to my wife's blog. And don't be surprised if you get suckered into giving her a ride to Funky Town.
Or check out more AI reviews by the boatload over at my friend Boomama's. (I only call her "my friend" because she loves cheese and bacon as much as I, not because she's agreed to lift the restraining order.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Depending On Your Definition Of Sacrilege, You May Just Want To Skip This

Oh, these wacky ministers' families and their silly little traditions.

For example, to reinforce the Easter story (and at the same time be able to enjoy a tasty marshmallow treat), we bake an Empty Tomb Roll together as a family. Easter was a week ago, but we still did this together this evening. I'm sure my wife has blogged about it in the past so I'll look for a link to that.

But in summary, you take Jesus (a marshmallow) and anoint his crucified body with a little oil (roll it in melted butter). Cover his body with burial spices (dredge it in cinnamon and sugar). Then place him in a tomb (seal him up in crescent roll dough).

Bake it for 10-12 minutes at 350, and amazingly, Jesus is no longer in the tomb, just a few strips of white linen (marshmallow stringiness).

To quote my daughters:

"He has melted!"

"He has melted indeed!"

In This Modern Age of Technology

You know how there are calendar companies that make planners and calendars with weeks that start with Monday instead of Sunday?

How much work would it take to just leave Monday off entirely?

I'm just thinking.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Short Order Cook

There are many responsibilities that weren't in the contract you signed at the hospital when your babies entered the world.

But you gladly take them on. Because it's not like anyone tried to trick you into this thing called "Parenthood" (except for instances documented on Lifetime Televison For Women Who Thrive On Fear And Anxiety).

The most recent duty I've encountered has been working the concession stand at the local ball field.

Our girls had their first game today. Shelby and Brynne are on the same team, and they each got on base with hits at every at-bat. I'm so very proud of both them. Hits, runs, RBIs gallore.

Cindy happened to be out of town with Cassie for a Moms/Daughters Conference, but thanks to the wonders of cell phones and text-messaging, I was able to receive no fewer than 59 reminders to take sun screen to the game. Not only did I take it, I EVEN remembered to apply it!

After the game was concession stand time for the parents of the Members' Choice Credit Union Chargers. (Don't you love the name "Chargers" for a team sponsored by a financial institution?)

All of this is just a roundabout way for me to brag about my ability to serve chili dogs, nachos, burgers, pretzels, snow cones, popcorn, pop (or soda depending on where you live), and ring pops.

PLUS, when we closed up shop, I was able to take home the last of the BBQ Pork for the girls. It was enough for two sandwiches, and it had been baking in the bottom of that crock pot all day, all dried out and hardening, so my girls aptly called them "Pork Jerkey Sandwiches." The leftover pretzels were likewise hard, but I just get those to lick the salt off anyways.

So just holler if you need a caterer for your next big event! I think Pork Jerkey Sandwiches would be great for your son's bar mitzvah.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Killing Him Softly...With Fruit

For the record, I have no recollection of hearing that grapes are bad for dogs.

OK. Maybe a slight recollection, but I think in my mind it was related to it being a choking hazard, much the same way that I would never give a baby a nice, esophagus-sized grape...or steak that wasn't cut into tiny pieces.

That's why I gingerly sliced the grapes in half for Cheddar, the 11-month-old Maltipoo. (A Maltipoo is a mix between a poodle, a maltese, and evidently a barking, pencil-eating banshee.)

My girls then shared that I was killing our puppy, acting as if everyone knows not to feed dogs grapes or chocolate or battery acid.

So far, no vomiting, no diarrhea. He just has this curious look in his eyes like, "What? You feed me grapes but neglect to fan me with palm fronds?"

I'll get right on that Cheddapatra. (Get it? Cheddar + Cleopatra?) Moving on...

So Cheddar's almost a year old, and everyone says we have maybe a whole other year to go before he's done being a puppy and doing puppy things. I think Cindy's ready for him to be old. One of those old, faithful dogs who just curl up and lay on the couch for 27 hours a day and only get up in order to fetch the remote control or to make you a margarita.

How long till Cheddar reaches that stage? Anyone?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The First Egg Has Been Revealed

I may have mentioned that our children were tormented by camouflaged plastic eggs this Easter.

Normally you can spot the brightly colored eggs from the next county, but the green/brown/camo eggs couldn't be seen easily even if they were stapled to your eyelids.

(Yes, laboratory testing was done to verify this. My thanks/apologies to Mr. Schwarz's freshman biology class.)

I found the first missed egg so far. It was in the mailbox! Who doesn't check the mailbox in an egg hunt? It is among the top 5 classic places to hide an egg. The other four are:

2. Under the overturned flowerpot
3. In the tailpipes of cars in the driveway
4. In the Y of a tree
5. Nestled in a tulip

Other great ideas, though less classic, are:

6. On the roof. Nothing's more fun than watching children find eggs that they will never actually be able to retrieve.

7. Similarly, in the center of a ring of fire.

8. Attached to the collar of the neighbor's pitbull.

9. Buried 6 feet under ground.

10. In a snake hole.

11. On the very bottom row of a pyramid of canned vegetables so that when it's removed the 15 rows above it come toppling down. (I got that idea from Scooby Doo or something.)

See, aren't you already looking forward to next Easter so you can try some of these ideas out?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Then Again, Maybe You AREN'T Interested In My Garage

[It's been quite a while since I shared any WorksForMeWednesday genius with you. But I'm back today with what is likely to change your life...if you have children...and they have tons of basket/soccer/foot/volley balls.]

I'm fairly certain I suffer from mild bouts of OCD.

For a while last year, I was consumed with researching puppies and finding the right match for us. I ate, slept and breathed a million breeds of puppies. (Only figuratively. I think it's illegal in 27 states to eat puppies, and as far as breathing them...I had asthma as a child and I'm pretty sure one of the lingering effects is my inability to get puppies in and out of my lungs efficiently.)

My latest obsession has been my garage. It's not an exaggeraton to say that I check on it each night no fewer than 12 times before going to bed.

A couple of weeks ago, I began a massive overhauling of the garage. Prior to that, though, I'd spent a couple weeks mapping and planning. I had grid paper and was figuring out what would fit where. I went to bed at night dreaming about it and woke up before the sun, still reworking all the possibilities. Day after day.

I finally put my plan into action. Essentially it involved emptying the entire garage, throwing away 80% of that stuff, repositioning appliances and shelving units, and contemplating whether the children would notice if they no longer had any toys, sports equipment or bikes.

I had budgeted for wood and shelves and such, but ended up throwing away so much stuff we'd been clinging to, that I actually REDUCED the amount of shelves we had. Crazy. I know.

My favorite innovation in the garage was the shelving unit that now houses the 21,462,945 basketballs, soccer balls, footballs and eggs:

Actually, the egg cartons are full of golfballs my kids have collected. We store our actual eggs in the pockets of my golfbag.

As you can see there are bungee cords across the front which help hold all the balls in, but can easily be stretched to retrieve whichever ball you desire to play with. These balls that used to take over the whole garage are now limited to one small shelf, leaving room for other things in the garage...like vehicles, for example.

I already owned the shelves, so the only expense on that particular project was a set of bungee cords from the "Everything's A Dollar And The Employees Aren't Humored When You Ask How Much It Costs" Store.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

American Idol Heads To The Movies

Tonight, the role of the contestants' Jiminy Cricket will be played by Quentin Tarantino.

First up is Allison who's trying to convince me that she "Don't Want To Miss A Thing" from Armageddon. Unfortunately, I think she missed a few things, namely some notes. I get the impression she wowed the live audience more than our dead audience sprawled on the couch here in Indiana. Maybe we need a new tv. I thought the whole song was meh, but the judges had nothing but good to say.

Anoop got some interesting advice from QT as he prepared his Robin Hood song "Everything I Do, I Do It For You." I know this won't make a lot of sense to you, but I instantly thought of Alladin's "A Whole New World." And no, it's not some ethnic stereotype. Nosiree. It's just that at a friend's wedding the groom sang "Everything I Do" and I sang "A Whole New World" (no, not simultaneously. That would be even weirder than me singing it at all). It was supposed to be a duet with my own personal Jasmine (Cindy) but she conveniently threw up or something in order to force me to be both Jasmine AND Alladin at the last minute. But I should at least comment on Anoop's performance: very nice.

Adam was "Born To Be Wild" from "Easy Rider." My daughter was intrigued by the fingernail polish and the leather and jewelry, and commented: "If you cut his head off, he could be a girl." However, what I THOUGHT she said was, "He should bite the head off of a squirrel." And that really wouldn't be a huge surprise now, would it?

Matt Giraud sang Bryan Adam's "To Really Love A Woman" from "Don Juan De Marco." I really like the song normally, but I didn't like his performance of it tonight. He did all right, but I think it's a good idea to try to sound better than the original if at all possible

Danny Gokey has lost his glasses. I'll assume it's intentional, that he has contacts or a corneal transplant. But he's singing seated on a stool. Now he's standing up. If he trips off the stage, then we'll know the answer to our glasses/contacts question. He's singing Lionel Richie's "Endless Love." Paula said it perfectly using the words "grabbed us," "wowed us," and "slayed us" but I'm going to have to google "tambor" to figure out what she meant with THAT.

Quentin Tarantino had some good praise for Kris Allen and his choice of "Falling Slowly." He's starting understated. Now he's building and belting and I'm loving it. But again, my TV version must be sooooooo different from live in the theater, because Randy's not digging it. But Kara must be watching it on a tv too because she thought it was his best ever. Only thing he had against him is the song was obscure, but I'm getting old, so a lot of these new-fangled songs are obscure.

Lil's going to sing "The Rose" which she'll have to sing pretty loud to drown out Cindy joining in. Before the break, I was worried this type of song would continue her downward spiral away from her natural style. But now she's talking about how she's going to throw in a little gospel action. If she does, she'll have herself a hit. She could make an old song new again. Let's see if she does. Well...I think she gets 95% there. She needed to really wail near the end to get the extra 5% from me.

So, if the ushers are going to come into theater with their flashlights and ask a few unwelcome movie-goers to leave, it'll be...

...Lil, Anoop and Matt.
But honestly, I would've guessed that without even watching these performances. Tonight didn't alter any of my previous thoughts about the level of talent we're dealing with.

And hey, I didn't really rag on Adam tonight...unless you count that comment about him biting the heads off squirrels.
If you haven't already read my wife's take on AI tonight, check it out because she puts each contestant in an 80's flick. See if you agree with her choices.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm Not Claiming to Bear The Stigmata

Easter means a lot of things.

As a ministry family, we find ourselves working a lot during this holiday. There are actually staff members at our church who worked 10 times as hard and produced 10 times as many programs I did, but still it's busy for all of us.

At one point, I needed to transport a cross from one part of the church so it could be used for teaching in the chidlren's area. This cross was taller than me and made of some fairly rough wood. Rough enough to give me a splinter. Not just a tiny splinter that you'd need tweezer to dig out. Imagine a fork jabbed in your skin and then bent so that a whole tine broke off and stayed embedded in the flesh. The "nice" thing about big splinters is that they are easier to yank out.

Then there was the overwhelminig spread of meat and potatoes and rolls and desserts that forced themselves into my belly.

And the nap I tried so hard to avoid, mainly because I was in the middle of a crowded living room, and falling asleep on a couch in public is kind of rude. I fought the good fight and lost.

So you see, Easter weekend was very hard for me.

Yet, I'm not actually in a complaining mood about it. I'm just pretending to be.

In reality,
I was energized by the services at our church.
I was excited to see hundreds of children at the egg hunt.
I was blessed to be able to teach the truth of Jesus' resurrection to families.
I was encouraged to see so many volunteers serving in every corner of the church all weekend.
I was thankful to be fed, and to be fed so well, by people who didn't have to feed me.
Even that crazy splinter has left me with a tiny reminder that Jesus' suffering was great...and it was for me.

Easter Sunday is over, but Jesus is still risen.

Many things will continue to remind me of that truth:
As I put away the props and decorations from the weekend.
As I write thank you letters to people who made the celebration significant.
As I mow over more plastic camouflage eggs all spring long.

And as I watch my splinter wound grow puffy and infected and oozing with puss and spreading through my whole body. The good news about that, at least, is that if I die from it, I know I have the hope of eternal life because of what we've just celebrated!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I Could Have Given Birth To The Next American Idol

Oh my. I still haven’t posted my thoughts from last night’s American Idol performances, and I’m already receiving nasty emails, icy stares and cold shoulders because of my delay…and that’s just from my WIFE.

(Her email to me this morning: “I am not happy without your AI post. :( ”

Well, last night the contestants sang songs from the year they were born. Mathematically (not genetically), it works out that some of these folks could be my children, so indulge me while I imagine: what if they WERE my babies? Yeah, I know. It'll end up being creepy most likely, but it'll be in keeping with the theme of the night which is subtitled: “Scott Is Old.”

Danny is up first--because he's the oldest--and he's singing some newer version of "Stand By Me." As my first-born, we probably have more photos of him than any of our other children, and we put more energy into decorating his nursery. We also dressed him the best. Like our subsequent children, Danny is following in his parents' musical footsteps (I must write about our "concerts" someday). He did a good job on a 1980 version of "Stand By Me," but like last week, I think the judges liked his performance more than I did. I'm guessing being there live has its perks.

Kris Allen came along 5 years later. I still remember when we bought him his first guitar...I also remember ripping the strings off it, because you should NEVER GIVE A PRESCHOOLER A TOY THAT MAKES NOISE. Seriously, Cindy and I avoided installing batteries in toys that made beeps and whistles or talked. Do not tell our children. They still think Talking Barbie had taken a monastic vow of silence. Kris did a jazzy version of "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" which had me imagining "She" doing a totally different kind of dance than what I would’ve pictured from the original; this version didn't evoke pictures of leg warmers and mile-high hair. That's a good thing.

Lil. I know what you're thinking. "How did Scott and Cindy end up with an African American baby?" Let’s just say that neither Cindy nor I have investigated our family trees back far enough to rule this out as a genetic possibility, so don’t get hung up on the color, man. I also haven’t ruled out the possibility that somewhere a black family who gave birth at the same time in the same hospital is wondering why they have a white child. "What's Love Got To Do with It" was her song choice. Once again, it just wasn’t her. I think that, because of the way we raised her, she really does know that love is more than a second-hand emotion, so she wasn’t able to come across as believable last night. Also, before one of you points it out, since Lil has a few kids, yes that means that Cindy and I are grandparents...really young, hip, cool grandparents.

Anoop also adds a little color to our patchwork family. Born in 1986, he chose Cyndi Lauper’s "True Colors.” I honestly expected it to sound gay, for lack of a better word. You know how it is when a guy sings a song originally sung by a girl. However, he really did a good job on it. As his pretend father for the night, though, I was really hoping he’d have pegged his pants’ cuffs. Have we taught him nothing about the 80’s?

Scott is another one of the 3 or 4 children we gave birth to in 1985. He was named after me because he had my hair. (That's supposed to be funny. I’m bald.) Believe it or not, he didn’t play the piano this week. No siree. He brought out a guitar for the power ballad “The Search Is Over.” Now, he didn’t do a phenomenal job on the guitar or the vocals, but he’s my son so I’m not going to say anything bad about him. It could be crushing to find out that your own father thinks you should be the next to go and is tired of hearing your voice, so I’ll not say that. Next week if he makes it through, he should definitely combine these two instruments and wield the fabled Key-tar!

Allison got her mother’s red hair and her father’s sexy gravelly voice. Both helped her pull off Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” But she DID make me love her. Absolutely loved the song. But that might be due to the fact that she’s the baby of the family (1992), and the baby always get special treatment and attention to make up for how we’ve screwed up the other 7 children.

Matt, Matt, Matt. Is this the way we raised you? We’ve tried to instill in our children the proper understanding of LOVE. That’s why it was a huge disappointment when we heard he’d chosen "Part-Time Lover." We’ve encouraged our children to be “FULL-Time Lovers” for many reasons including better insurance, retirement benefits, and a company car. He did very well, though, and the judges were favorable.
Adam. We’ve always gotten lots of questions about Adam ever since he joined our family in 1982. While most people readily accept that darker-skinned Lil and Anoop are our natural children, no one’s been fooled by Adam. We got him at a pet shop in the mall, and it wasn’t until we got him home and cleaned him up a little bit that we realized he could almost pass as a human child. He’s always liked it when his "brothers" and "sisters" sang at home, and he himself did a lot of shrieking and howling growing up. It wasn’t really welcome in our 1200-square-foot home. When everyone else went to go audition for American Idol, we felt bad leaving him in a cage in the back of the minivan, so we snuck him in with us. Who knew he’d fool the judges and producers! Last night he sang, “Mad World” (’82?) and it was full of the falsetto stuff that drives the ladies crazy. Even Simon loved it and stood up. I think it's safe to say that Adam is getting close to earning himself the right sleep inside the house and eat at the table with us. Seriously, though, he did do a great job. I'm just a judgmental prude who doesn't like black nail polish on boys. Is that so wrong?

So how does a good parent pick favorites and least favorites?
Well, I’m not claiming to be a good parent so:

Scott McIntyre’s reached the end of his road, I believe. Time to go. But since there are a million other people making the decision, I wouldn’t be surprised if they send Anoop or Matt home. Lil’s also possibly teetering based on her performances, but I’ll give her another week or two to turn around.
After last week's pretend screenplays and this week's pretend children, I think next week may be just a straight analysis of the performances before I have a complete break with reality.