Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hello?

I've had some pretty good Christmas presents in the past. Many I have to this day. Lady Di gave my a leather jacket on our first Christmas together and I still wear it. Same goes for a watch she gave me that year too. It has gone through five watch bands but it still keeps ticking.

This year I got something I have never received before, a cellphone. I've been trying to avoid carrying a cellphone for many years, but now I have one. I'm not the most technologically gifted person. I can run a TV remote pretty well, but hand me a blackberry and I will try to spread it on toast.

I guess I'm just leery of paying a lot of money for the latest gadget, only to have it go obsolete and end up on a Goodwill shelf in 6 months. I just want to make sure that a new technology is really going to catch on. I can remember when Beta was dueling with VHS. Now, DVD-HD is battling Blu-Ray. I don't even know what those things are!

Since I've had my cell phone for a week, I've been able to program different ring tones to each of the four speed dial numbers I call. It's sad when I can't even fill up a favorite five list of numbers. I can see me using my phone for emergencies and that's about it. I'll probably pretend to use it while walking around town just to look cool.

Now Number One Son seems to be having some trouble with one of his Christmas presents. I had previously posted that N1S received a new robe for Christmas. He loves to wear his robe and raise a snow globe over his head and pretend he is a powerful wizard. Since this is N1S's first robe, we had to tell him how to use it. It has ties on the inside to close the robe if you just want to wear it with underwear. He just stared blankly at that. The outside belt can be tied to keep it together if you are wearing pj's. He insists on tying both sets of straps. He then runs into trouble when he has to race to the bathroom, fumbling with both knots and actually pulling them tighter as he is racing the clock.

Last night, he was having trouble sleeping. I could hear him upstairs going from his room to the bathroom a few times. Once I heard him let out a frightened yelp. I asked him what happened?
He said he scared himself in the dark. Apparently, just before turning on the bathroom light, he saw something move out of the corner of his eye. He said it looked like a tail of an animal.

"But it was just my robe belt.", he casually admitted.

Then he complained about not being able to sleep. "Well", I offered, "It might help if you took your robe off before getting into bed."

"Oh yeah, that's a good idea." "Thanks, Dad."

I'm sure even Hugh Hefner has trouble with his robe once in a while.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Life Lessons

Christmas has come and gone for another year. All of the packages have been ripped open. All of the stuffed animals have been freed from their nasty wire twist tied boxes. And all of the required assembly has been completed. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas Day.

This year, our Christmas Day got a later start thanks to Number One Son sleeping in until 8:30am. A Christmas Miracle! That was thanks to a late Christmas Eve church service. After church we let the kids open one gift before bed. They each opened new pajamas and slippers. Our kids are still at the age when cool pj's are an excitable gift. When Sweet Pea saw her 'Hello Kitty' slippers she gasped, "These are just what I've always wanted!"

They each also received new robes. Sweet Pea opened hers first and offered her old robe with the snowflakes on it to her brother. These turned out to be good gifts because they both were excited to go to bed with their new pj's.


The next morning, N1S, Lady Di and myself came downstairs and turned on the television to the Yule Log channel and waited for Sweet Pea to come downstairs before inspecting our Christmas stockings. At 9:30am N1S was sent up to check on (wake up) his sister. Sweet Pea came down and saw the empty snack plate and the note from Santa and went straight to her stocking.

She got some hair pretties and a Littlest Pet Shop TV game. "(Gasp), This is just what I always wanted!", she exclaimed. She got a lot of things she's always wanted.

N1S got some Star Wars playing cards from Santa and immediately wanted to play Star Wars black jack.

After the stockings were ripped inside out, it was time for the real fun. "Who wants to play Santa?"

"I do!", yelled Sweet Pea. And off she ran to pass out gifts. Number One Son had to go with her to read the tags, otherwise all of the gifts would make it to her pile. After a few trips of SP racing in and out of the room, tossing our gifts too us (luckily we don't gift any glass items) most of the gifts were distributed. Number One Son came in shaking his last gift. "Finally", he said, "This one sounds a little Legoish."

The kids both seemed to enjoy what they got. SP got a Lil Lovables monkey to stuff with her bear-stuffing machine. Yay, more animals!
Number One Son got an Eyeclops. This is an electronic camera that plugs into the TV and enlarges everything it sees 200 times. Both kids had fun seeing what their hair, moles and owies looked like up close.

After gifts we all went sledding and snowboarding until we were too tired to walk up the hill. Then I got the best Christmas gift I could get, a nap. "Gasp, just what I've always wanted!" At least it was until I woke up to raucous laughter and an Eyeclops up my nose displaying a nostril forest on the TV.

We ended our day playing the board game, Life, as a family. This was a gift from Gramma and Grampa Klein. Sweet Pea had a little trouble understanding about paydays and buying insurance, but she perked up when Lady Di landed on the space that said "You have a baby girl". SP kept asking which path to follow on the board to get children. Unfortunately, Lady Di was the only player to get a car load of kids in the game. This disappointed SP so much, she didn't really care how much money she had at the end of the game. All she really wanted was some children. I guess that means that Christmas really is for children.



Maybe, next Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

We're just going to camp out here tonight.

Hoping your stockings are coal free.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Return of the Snowhill

Many seasons are arriving daily. Holiday season, winter season, shopping season, and now 'King of the Hill' season. Our early winter downfall cooperated with our friendly snow plow driver to produce our yearly cul-de-sac snow hill. The kids always look forward to the mountain of snow just outside our door.

I don't think it is as big as last year's pile, but it is definitely earlier. Last year, we didn't get heavy snow until March. We'll get more mileage out of this year's snow.

Much of this afternoon was spent playing 'King of the Mountain' with the kids. I successfully defended my title as 'King' of the hill. Just because I outweigh the kids three to one, doesn't mean I'm not still 'King'. They do have the advantage of being able to outlast me though. Once the game went past ten minutes the 'King' was getting a little winded and abdicated his thrown.

After the Monarchy was overthrown, it was time to move on to a new game. I got out Number One Son's snowboard. This was a gift from Gramma and Grampa about three Christmases ago. N1S didn't show a whole lot of interest in it and usually got frustrated early with it. When I got the snowboard out this year, N1S still wasn't on fire to use it. Sweet Pea, however, was ready to rock. I said, "Why not?"

I strapped her in and started her down our hill in the backyard. I held her hand all the way down. I was surprised, but she had pretty good balance. Once N1S saw how much success SP was having, he was willing to give it another try. I helped him down the hill once and he was hooked. They took turns going down the hill since we only have one snowboard. I stopped going down with them on the third time. Their goal was to make it to the bottom of the hill without falling. In one afternoon, N1S made it to the bottom a couple of times and SP made it three-fourths of the way by herself. They were pretty proud of themselves and so was I.


I took one run down the hill myself. I made it almost halfway when the board went sideways, dug into the snow, and brought my face rapidly to the snow. That was the one and only time.

Now the kids and I can't wait to take the snowboard to our sledding hill. I know N1S is going to try a jump and I'm going to have the camera waiting.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

If a Tree Falls in the Den....

It's hard to see the forest for the trees around here lately. At the suggestion of fellow blogger DJkirkby and my Aunt-in-Law Caroline, here for your approval are our Christmas trees. I've mentioned before that I like to decorate for the holidays. I start with lights all over the house just after Halloween if I can schedule it. With the outside done, it's time to work on the inside. Lady Di and myself have collected a number of Christmas decorations over the years. Namely, ornaments. Every year we give the kids an ornament to mark the years. This tradition was started by my mother around twenty years ago. With this many new ornaments joining the old ones each year, we were running out of room on the tree.

That's when we said to ourselves, "Why not get another tree?" Then the next question asked was, "Why not a tree in every room?"

We started hitting the after-Christmas clearances at the hardware and department stores. You can usually make any offer for one of their leftover display trees, complete with ornaments and lights.

We decided to stop at five Christmas trees. Overboard you say? Well, we are only putting up three trees this year. This is a list of our Christmas trees for this year.

We can start with our 'kid' tree. Multicolored lights adorn this tree. This tree has all of our fun ornaments. It has Elmo, Darth Vader, Mr Spock, Lion King, Mickey Mouse and I can't remember what other cartoon characters. I think if you click on the picture you can find all of the above ornaments. It also has all of the kids' homemade ornaments. It has a few of Lady Di's and my ornaments from our childhood too. This is also our Ronald McDonald Home tree. Every year Gramma and Grampa Klein make a donation and Ronald sends us a nice gold heart. We support the Ronald McDonald Home in Sioux Falls, which we stayed in when Number One Son was born prematurely.

The next tree is our 'fancy' tree. This is decorated with gold and burgundy ornaments only. This tree is closely supervised by Lady Di. Although, two little elves seem to have rearranged it a bit. Lady Di has a good eye for color and what looks nice. White lights only for this tree.

Our third tree for this year is our angel tree. This is a four foot tree that I inherited from my Grandma Bernice. We wrap blue or sometimes turquoise lights on this upstairs tree. It is covered with dozens of crocheted angels made by Lady Di's Grandma Ollie. It has multiple other angels mixed with snow flake ornaments.

Grandma Ollie has made numerous beaded ornaments over the years. We have her ornaments on all three of our trees. We also have a box full of other ones she has made and we will maybe designate a tree for those next year.

This is another of Grandma Ollie's creations. It is a twelve inch, lighted tree made of beads and safety pins. She has also made beaded snowmen for us.

That's all for our indoor trees. We have a few nice looking evergreens outside too. They seem to look better with our blanket of new fallen snow too. Sorry for the poor photography.


That's pretty much it for our festive holiday trees. I know there are a lot of stories that every family has about their decorations. Tree ornaments seem to hold a specific Christmas memory for each one. And we will be adding ornaments and memories for many years to come.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Great Shakes!

There is something about winter that brings out the board game fever in a person. Tonight, Lady Di and Sweet Pea went to SP's girl scout meeting. Leaving Number One Son and Dad to fend for themselves. After saying good-bye to the ladies, I looked around for something to do. The dirty dishes were ready to go into the dish washer. The bills were piled on the kitchen island pleading for money. Or maybe we should fold the laundry. N1S had a better idea. He went downstairs and came up with our Yahtzee game.

All that other stuff can wait.

I couldn't pass up the chance to do something fun with my son. It's not often we get time together just the two of us. We got in a couple of games before bedtime. Yahtzee is a good game for learning math and strategy. It can also teach humility when your nine year old son beats you.

Our scorecards reflect the outcome. We played two games. N1S's card is on the left. You can see that I had lucky dice in the first game, but Lady Luck left me for the second game. Notice the quartet of goose eggs entered in my lower section. N1S was pretty consistent with his scores. He also is a little more creative with his zeros.

I've posted a couple of times mentioning boardgames. We are a family who likes to play games. I believe boardgames and card games are great ways to teach, build self esteem and have fun.

When I was growing up, every family get together involved playing a game after the big meal. We usually played either Dominoes, Cribbage or Uno. But we also had Sorry, Trouble, Monopoly, Boggle and Battleship. Sometimes Chess or Checkers would come out. My point is, these games are good alternatives to the X-box. They don't require electricity. They don't make a lot of noise. And hardly any of them involve killing zombies. There have been more than a few times that Lady Di and myself have brought out the Scrabble game and a big dictionary when nothing is on television. By the way, don't ever play cards or Yahtzee with Lady Di if you ever want to win. She can play.

I realize that playing games are not for everyone. For some people, board games should be renamed 'bored' games. But, if you are looking for something to do with your kids, even if you are not really interested in the game, you will be entertained when your children excitedly near the end of the Chutes and Ladders board to beat Mom and Dad for the first time. Who knows, maybe you will change your mind about games when you taste victory on the Scrabble board for the first time. In most cases the game isn't the important thing. What matters is interaction with family and friends. The experience is what will create memories, not the score.

What are some of the games you grew up with?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Do,Do,Do,Do,Doot, You Can Clip It

As if we didn't have enough snow already, the weather man is predicting yet another snow storm for this week. Three snow storms in the first week of December? I guess we are in for a long winter this year. Even though we are measuring snow in feet instead of inches, the kids wanted to make snowflakes today. Actually, they were bored and driving me crazy so I gave them a project to do to keep them busy. The great thing about having kids who are nine and five years old, is that they can use scissors by themselves. I was even able to teach Number One Son how to fold the paper for his little sister.

The one drawback to cutting out paper snowflakes is the snowflake confetti generated by rapid and wild clipping. I do have to give a large amount of credit to Sweet Pea for her idea to move the kitchen garbage can to their work table and cut her scraps directly into the can. Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that.


She also decorated a few of her flakes with jewels for extra sparkle. Girls sure like bling.

N1S decided he wanted to adorn his Mom's Christmas present with one of his snowflakes. It's cheaper than bows and looks much nicer. I know Lady Di will love it.


Both kids were creative and seemed to have fun. And the best part was they went an hour and a half without fighting. We had Christmas music going and that made the afternoon nice. Dad seems to like simple (cheap) projects that are still fun and just challenging enough to entertain both kids.

The finished products are being displayed on the tree. If the kids do more this week, we will fill the windows. At the end of the year I won't mind shovelling these snowflakes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Snow Fever

Winter can now start for real. I know the actual first day of winter is a couple of weeks away, but in Minnesota the first day is the first real snowfall. We awoke Saturday morning to flurries which escalated to blowing and drifting snow by noon. Naturally, the kids and I got our sleds down and headed for the hill. Our hill is located near City Hall, so we also got to see the fleet of snow plows marching out to opening day of their season.

Saturday is the best day to have a lot of snow. Because you are able to recover your out of shape, hill climbing muscles on Sunday. Here's an important tip about sledding with your kids. Get them used to the idea of pulling their own sled up the hill as early as possible. Getting yourself up a slippery, steep incline is enough work without pulling an extra fifty pounds of kid, boots, snow pants and nose-cicles.

We had a blast at the hill on Saturday. The unique thing about our sledding hill is that it is the only hill I know of with a real live manhole located half way down. I have no idea why it is there. Since our hill is close to City Hall, it must be a secret exit from those City Hall meetings. Anyway, since our hill is steep and the manhole cover is level, it acts as a jumping off point for daring sledders trying to practice their X-Games jumps. Number One Son got pretty good steering his sled over the 'manhole ramp' and was getting serious air time. Sweet Pea always steered away from any bumps.

I thought I would see if I could get as big a jump as N1S. After I hit the jump I remembered that I weigh quite a bit more than N1S. I also remembered that I am not nine years old and that my tailbone is not very protected on a sled. I wish I would have remembered these things before I was airborn. I could feel the impact travel up my spine right into my jaw. When my kids saw me rolling in the snow at the bottom of the hill, Sweet Pea asked if she could make snow angels too.

Needless to say, that was my last run down the hill for that day.

But it was a great way to spend the first snow day of the season. It's too bad the day ended with 'Extreme Shovelling' in the driveway.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

How Much for One Tooth?

Sweet Pea reached another milestone this week. She lost her first tooth. She had been wiggling and twisting it for about two weeks. By the end it was literally hanging by a thread. Lady Di was too squeamish to pull it out for her. Number One Son suggested tying her tooth to the back of the van and flooring it. As I was getting the floss and brick ready to throw over the deck rail, Sweet Pea got a napkin and pulled her tooth out herself.

It surprised all of us. Most of all, Sweet Pea. She was beaming with her first toothless grin ear to ear. Lady Di and I both jumped off of the couch and raced for the camera. Sweet Pea skipping after us. We quickly got the picture. We were concentrating so much on the tooth we didn't notice all of the mandarin orange on her face from lunch. Oh well, they're not kids if they're not messy most of the time. Regardless, we hosed her off and re-shot the event.

Sweet Pea then started negotiating with the Tooth Fairy. "How much money will the Tooth Fairy bring me?", she asked.
She usually brings a dollar at our house.
"Is that all?", she stated in disbelief.
"Sometimes the Tooth Fairy takes extra teeth while you sleep, when someone asks the question, 'Is that all?'.", I warned.

She didn't buy that. Now Lady Di and I have to be vigilant and remember to 'cover' the Tooth Fairy. There were a few times that we had to send Number One Son back to his room to 'recheck' under his pillow when it slipped our minds the night before.

Anyway, Sweet Pea was pretty excited. She feels even more grown up now. Most of her friends have lost multiple teeth already. She ran up the long distance bill calling her grandparents and auntie and now she has a lot to talk about at Kindergarten on Monday.

For the record, the price for first teeth has apparently jumped to two dollars.

Post Script:
My favorite proofreader pointed out that I missed a very important part of the story. At our house, we don't leave a naked tooth under the pillow. I wouldn't want the tooth to get lost in the bed only to show up three weeks later. That would cause too many questions, investigations and inquiries. Years ago the kids' great-grandma Ollie made a tooth pillow with a small pocket in the back to house the wayward tooth. It's fun for the kids, very functional and gosh darned cute too.



Thanks Great-Grandma Ollie.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Turkey, Rock Stars and Parades

Thanksgiving weekend was a busy one for the 'Stuff' household. We had a nice gathering at Lady Di's sister's house for Thanksgiving. Our brother-in-law put out a sumptuous banquet as usual. He made three types of turkey and I had much of all three. I did save room for pie though. And by saving room I mean, I ate until I was miserable and then forced two pieces of pie down.

We ended up staying a little later than we had planned. After playing a few games of Catchphrase, we thought it was time to get the kids home and to bed. This was about ten o'clock in the evening. Our nephew then decided to bring out his Guitar Hero game. It was all over after that. We ended up staying until midnight. Number One Son got the hang of the guitar pretty quickly. You can see him in the picture above. Sweet Pea was a little too young to get the timing right and got frustrated when the game booed her. She did a good job dancing and being a groupie while others played, though.

Lady Di had so much fun that she challenged N1S to a 'rock off'. They each played the same song simultaneously to see who would rock it better. The scores were pretty close, but N1S edged Mom by about 1000 points. Too bad Lady Di.

At least Lady Di played better than her sister. I don't think she was able to finish a song before the game booed her off the stage. Her sister thought that singing the song while playing helped your score. Sorry, Sue, but I guess you just don't rock like you used to.

Later that weekend, our family journeyed to downtown Minneapolis for the Holidazzle Parade. We braved twenty degree temps and gale force winds to watch the lighted floats. This parade occurs every night until Christmas. We went on the first night and froze our butts because the floats were spaced so far apart that we kept wondering if it was over yet. I guess you never want to go on the first night.

Despite the cold, the kids enjoyed seeing the floats. Their favorite was the 'Wizard of Oz' float because the Wicked Witch rode a bicycle behind the float where everyone booed her. We met our friends and their kids to watch the parade. The cold must have brought the kids closer together, because they really got along well for just meeting. But, I guess that's what kids do best. The rock star and groupie are on the right.


We stayed in a hotel that night which was a rare treat for us. We did have to hide the basket of goodies left out by the hotel management though. I really couldn't afford a $4 Snickers bar. The next morning we all visited Macy's department store. And believe it or not, we didn't go to shop. Macy's eighth floor has a Christmas display every year and this year's theme was The Nutcracker. It had sixteen different displays with various animatronic people and animals moving around. We all enjoyed strolling through and taking in the spectacle.

After the Holidazzle on Friday and The Nutcracker on Saturday, I was exhausted by Saturday afternoon. Once we found our way out of the city we still had one more stop before going home. We pulled into the parking lot at Cabela's to see the fish, animals and goose calls. I saw a lot of things that would look nice under the tree this year. My wallet didn't see eye to eye with me though. Hopefully, Santa will get my letter.

We have had a pretty good start to our holiday season so far. I hope we can find time to see a holiday show or see Santa before Christmas. Next week, we decorate the trees. That's right, I said Trees.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

So Beautiful!

A few weeks ago, Sweet Pea, attended a kids pottery class offered by our local community education. She said she had a lot of fun. She didn't get too messy. She came home without clay in the hair. (that we found) We were told that her 'pot' would be ready in a couple of weeks after firing.
Well, last Monday we got the call. SP's clay pot was ready to pick up at the office.
Lady Di took the kids to retrieve SP's creation. When they got it home, Sweet Pea was eager to look at her artwork. While Lady Di was hanging up coats, Sweet was opening her bag. Lady Di then heard a sudden, loud gasp coming from Sweet Pea. Lady Di went into panic mode, "What happened? Did it break!?", she asked.


"No.", weeping, "It's just so beautiful" ,Sweet Pea answered with all of the drama of a soap opera diva. The way she said that, you would have thought that she was on the verge of tears while viewing the Grand Canyon for the first time.
When I looked at her 'pot' with it's mismatched lid, I had to agree. It was beautiful. Granted, you could tell it wasn't made by Patrick Swayzee and Demi Moore in Ghost. But, for a five year old, I would say it was very beautiful. Sweet Pea is certainly the artist in our family. I'm sure it will find a prominent place in our hutch to display for many years to come. We may even leave it out on the coffee table with M&M's in it for guests.




Where ever it ends up, it was a good $25 investment for the class.
Who knows, it may even turn into a career for her. Does anyone want to order the first custom made creation from 'Sweet Pea's Pots'?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Up On The Housetop

It's that time of year again. Time to risk life and limb in the attempt to properly show your Christmas spirit. I'm talking about putting up Christmas lights. Some people like to tastefully decorate their houses with a few strings of lights on bushes and trees. They usually use a balanced pattern with symmetry and artistry. My lighting philosophy is 'the more lights, the better'. I come from the Clark Griswold school of holiday lighting. If an airplane, flying overhead, cannot see my house, then I need another extension cord.

I tend to exasperate Lady Di. She is very artistic and creative and enjoys elegant white lights twinkling slightly in the winter breeze. I like color! Lots of color. Like a Crayola box with the stomach flu, kind of color. In the last few years I have been able to decorate the house my way. Mainly because I am still ignorant enough to climb up a ladder and hang over the edge of the roof to put lights up. Lady Di has been much smarter and avoids the ladder. She does keep the first aid kit handy and the speed dial set for 9-1-1.

When it comes to my holiday decorating tastes, anything goes. I don't mind mismatched nativity sets showing Baby Jesus playing wreath toss with Frosty. I don't mind a Santa sitting next to a camel with a gingerbread man on it's back. I don't mind candy cane lined driveways, or giant candles by the front door. A sleigh and reindeer on the roof always amaze me. I like flashing, blinking, and twinkling lights. So far, Lady Di has held me to 'lights only' on the house. But who knows, maybe a small army of toy soldiers will invade our yard this year.

I pretty much like any kind of holiday decoration, except inflatable displays. One reason is they seem too complicated for me to bother with. Anything with a motor and blower is not worth the headache for me. I also don't care for the way they lay on the front yard during the day when they are deflated. Plus, I'm sure, as soon as I put one up, the first strong winter wind will take it all the way to Mexico.

I probably get my love of holiday decorating from my Mother. She is a decorating demon every year for every holiday. At Christmas time, my Dad calls their house, "Little Vegas". They live across the street from a nursing home in a small town. The nursing home residents always tell my Mom that they look forward to seeing her yard at Christmas time. She even won her town's award for 'Most Festive Lights' last year. Whenever we go to visit we can usually tell when we are within 5 miles from Gramma's house by the 'Aurora Borealis' glow from her house.

So my goal is to create a winter wonderland before the winter comes. My plan was to get the roof lights done last weekend since we had nice weather. An extra work day put those plans on hold. Now I won't get another chance to plug in until Thanksgiving week. This is the latest that I will start decorating in quite a few years. I have decorated in the cold and snow before. I usually start with gloves until I realize it's impossible to untangle anything with gloves on. Then my fingers freeze and I have to descend the ladder to thaw my hands inside the house every half string.

Even if I don't find the time to light up the block this year, I will still get to enjoy holiday decorations. Every year, as a family, we pick a night or two to drive around town just to look at the lights in the neighborhood. I usually hear a lot of 'Wow, look at that one!' from the back seat from the kids. My sister and I enjoyed drives like this with our parents when we were young and I hope my kids enjoy them as much as I did. Hopefully, I can find the time to get our house up to a respectable level for viewing.

But it is worth it, right? Is it worth watching the electric meter spin like the Price Is Right wheel? Is it worth risking frost bite and/or a trip to the emergency room when I fall from the roof? The big payoff is when I make the whole family stand out in the street on the night after Thanksgiving and, with much pomp and ceremony, flip the switch. If I don't trip a circuit and put the whole block in a blackout, it's a success. I then bask in the glow of the kids' Oooo's and Ahhhhh's. Then they say, "We're cold! Can we go in yet?"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Second Chances

Last week Number One Son got together with our neighbor boy, who is the same age, to play. They have been playing together quite a bit lately. They get together with some other boys in the area and play war and spy games in the woods in our back yard.

They have not always got along so well. When N1S was about five or six years old, he struggled with peer play and social interaction. Couple that with clumsiness and little natural athleticism, and you can see where he might have trouble making friends. N1S has
Asperger's Syndrome and still has to work at friendships. He has improved greatly, but still needs guidance on occasion.

This neighbor boy that N1S has been playing with lately, wasn't always his friend. Two or three years ago I would have described this boy as aggressive and bullying. He was into sports, guns and playing war. Back then we tried to get the boys together to play a few times. It rarely turned out well. Sometimes N1S would come home crying because of mean things said to him. He was pushed down and got things thrown at him a couple times too. N1S didn't really know how to talk with the boys without sounding weird. Most times he would go off on a tangent and the other boys would not want to bother with him. The play often started OK, then one of the boys would team up with another one and either gang up on N1S or just exclude him. There were many times N1S would come home at 3pm because the boys told him they had to go inside for supper, only to come back out a little later.

That was then, this is now. I mentioned that N1S and his friend have been playing together a lot this summer and fall. I think it has to do with both boys maturing quite a little in the last three years. N1S has also caught up a little bit in coordination. What ever it is, it has made play dates much better. N1S has learned more of the rules of their games and has also learned more of the rules of social interaction. Things still aren't perfect, but they are definitely getting better. We are now more comfortable letting N1S go on his own to find his friends and join them. This is also the first year that those boys have actually come to our house looking for N1S to play. The first time this happened our hearts just about burst out of our chests.

Just last week, N1S was playing outside with his neighbor friend I described above. After a while they both wanted to come inside to play in N1S' s room. They played Lego's a while and we invited his friend to eat supper with us. After supper, sister Sweet Pea wanted to play the board game,
Sorry. She set out the game on the living room floor and we all played. Lady Di & Dad were a team against Sweet Pea, N1S and his friend. And the kids were truly playing against us. Three years ago, I would've thought that playing a board game would have been uncool to N1S's friend. But he had the most fun of all of us. I was proud of all of the kids. The game of Sorry offers a lot of chances for throwing fits of bad sportsmanship. No one threw a fit except Lady Di, when she was sent home for the tenth time while the little trio sang, "Soooooorrrrrry!".

After the game, it was time to go home. N1S said good bye to his friend. His friend said, See ya later, N1S." Just hearing a kid say that to N1S and mean it, gave me a warm feeling inside.

I think N1S earned a few points with his friend that day. N1S's friend also moved up a few points in my book. What kids do when they are young, does not necessarily mean that is who they are. It's easy to hold grudges, especially when someone wrongs your child. But kids, and adults as well, deserve second chances. Denying this will just limit everyone's friendships to a few. Everyone makes mistakes. Maybe, sometimes, kids don't have to actually apologize to say they are sorry. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. Maybe this was Sweet Pea's clever way of getting that apology for her brother.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Strike!

Tuesday night, Sweet Pea invited me to escort her to her Girl Scouts' bowling night. All I could thing about was, I hope the alley had insurance. With ten wild scouts pounding their lanes, it could add up to some damage. Thanks to Lady Di's good directions, we found the bowling alley, which happened to be in the middle of a dark corn field with no lighted signs. We deserved a scout badge just for finding the place.

First, we had to get bowling shoes. Sweet Pea ran to the counter and politely asked, "Size 11 please."
I asked, "How do you know your bowling shoe size?"

I guess she had already bowled at an after school program earlier that afternoon. Which meant, either her bowling arm would be tired out from bowling earlier or it would be warmed up just enough to win some serious money. I then found out that wagering is not allowed at Girl Scout activities. I was also disappointed to know that only the scouts were going to be bowling and not the parents. I felt that, against Kindergartners, I could have had my best chance of actually bowling better than someone. Although, when I saw all ten of them bowling at the same time, I was glad that my toes were safely in the sitting area. Even though the 'bumpers' were in the gutters, a couple girls found a way to get their ball stuck there. And only a few bowling balls ended up rolling back toward the parents instead of the pins.

There were many bowling styles on display this night. Rolling the ball between the legs was popular. Also, the two handed swing your body three times was used. One scout thought it would be good to hold the ball above her head and let it drop from there to the lane. Let's say that that wasn't the only time the adults winced.

Sweet Pea came ready to bowl. She liked to run to the line and push her ball down the lane. It worked pretty well for her. It was probably fortunate for me that adults weren't bowling this night. Sweet Pea scored a 99 in her first game! I was thinking that I have got find a father-daughter league to enter. Then I remembered a few of my many sub-one hundred pin games. A mother-daughter league would be much better. Lady Di is the bowler in the family and she, apparently, has passed on her ten pin talents to Little Peatie.

After her 99 game she cooled down a little and bowled a 74 for the next game. Still pretty good. Regardless of the scores, all of the girls had a fun time. There was lots of talking, giggling, squealing, dancing and laughing. I think I was the only one following the scores. Many girls didn't even bother to watch their ball snail down the lane before skipping back to laugh with their friends. Which is fine, because the point of the night was to have fun. We were at a nice alley, I got to meet some of Sweet Pea's friends, and we had some fun father-daughter time together. I hope, someday, when Sweet Pea is grown with her own life, she will think back to times like these. Maybe she will even ask me someday, "Dad, do remember when we went bowling?"

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Only Fifteen Shopping Days Until Thanksgiving.

Halloween has come and gone. The Christmas shopping season has already started. In the rush to get Halloween decorations put away and the rush to get the inflatable Santa on the roof, don't forget about the other holiday in between.

Thanksgiving is the unassuming, humble holiday that doesn't get the respect it deserves. There are very few Turkey Day holiday specials on TV. Charlie Brown has one and I remember a pilgrim cartoon on PBS when I was younger. The kids' book orders include one Thanksgiving book per every ten Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah books for sale. There are no brown and orange Thanksgiving lights on the house either. Growing up, our Thanksgiving decorations pretty much comprised of the Cornucopia centerpiece, the pilgrim candles (half melted), and the accordion-fold-out paper turkey. Nowadays, our family has added window clings and, of course, the kids' traced hand turkeys. Other than that, Thanksgiving is just the halfway point on the way to Christmas. It just seems that Halloween and Christmas have grown so large that they are squeezing Thanksgiving out.

But that's not to say that Thanksgiving isn't a fun, memorable, family holiday. One of our family traditions is to watch the movie, Trains, Planes and Automobiles in November. It's a good family comedy except for the one car rental scene. You may want to mute it for thirty seconds or so. This is our favorite Thanksgiving movie. Right now I can't think of any other Thanksgiving movies. Other than that, we pretty much observe the same traditions that every one else does. We eat turkey and pumpkin pie. After overeating, we roll into the living room to watch the Detroit Lions play football. After that we dress in our Pilgrim and Native American costumes and reenact the landing at Plymouth Rock. Just normal things that all families do.

A few weeks ago, I posted about the types of books and movies that I'm drawn to in October. I also have a set of interests for November. I already mentioned Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I also tend to listen to more Aaron Copland music in the days preceding Turkey Day. Listening to Appalachian Spring or Rodeo(the Beef Council song) makes me think of family eating gatherings.

I don't seem to read anything particularly seasonal. I usually read Ten Fat Turkeys to Sweet Pea, but that doesn't have a whole lot of giving thanks. If anyone has any good November reading suggestions, I'm open to them.

It's unfair that Thanksgiving gets the reputation of being the warm up act for Christmas. It is an important holiday. A time to pray and thank God for our blessings. Maybe it is good that Thanksgiving hasn't been as commercialized as much as other holidays. That way it's easier to concentrate on Thanksgiving's true meaning.

A day off to get the Christmas lights on the roof.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Kitty and the Soldier

It was a cold and windy night. A three quarters moon was our only light, as we set off in search of sugary snack treats. Our plan was simple. We would disguise ourselves in fiendishly clever costumes, choose an unsuspecting residence, and ring their doorbell. When our victims answered the door, a shout of "Trick or Treat!" would give the poor, shivering home owners no choice but to fill our bags with candy and hope that we spared them and would then proceed to the neighbor's house. A plan so simple, so perfect and so diabolically genius could not fail. (Cue lightning crash).

Our first stop was to the local pharmacy to get a picture of the kids in their costumes. The pharmacy will make a picture button for us on Friday. The kids also got their first piece of candy for the night. And the plan wasn't even in effect yet. Sweet Pea picked a tootsie roll, then saw that her brother got a Hershey bar, so she wanted to exchange. Now that the sugar rush was officially started, it was time to plot our route.

The Soldier and the Princess Kitty and I piled into the pick-up to our first street. We went to see our old neighbor. He was dressed as a pirate, and he even had a real parrot on his shoulder. The kids were ready to trade their whole nights candy for the bird. Since we had only been to a few houses by then, it was no deal. After the first street I asked, "OK, is that enough? Should we go home?" Princess Kitty showed her claws in disagreement. Even though it was forty-five degrees with a stiff northern wind, we kept going.

We then drove to our next street. Number One Son wanted to visit every house with a light on. I had to remind him that we don't go to strangers' houses. Unless they have Peanut Butter Cups, then we load up once, switch costumes, and return for a second haul.

By now the kids' arms were being stretched by the weight of their bounty and Sweet Pea had lost her Kitty tail for the third time. I could see signs of fatigue in Sweet Pea. The cold wind and her short Kindergarten legs were starting to discourage her. Then she dropped the bomb.

"I have to go to the bathroom!"

"Ungh, Can you wait until we get to our house two blocks away?", I pleaded. I believe anyone who has a daughter knows the answer to this question.

Luckily, at that point we were close to a friends' house that graciously let us in the back door to use their facilities. I hope the Kit-Kat bar we left on the sink was enough payment.
Now that we were warm and dry, we ventured out into the cold again.

One more street and we would be home free. The last street is, of course, our own street. I parked the Pixie Stix Pickup and we started our final push to fill our bags. It's a good thing our street goes downhill to the other end, or else Sweet Pea wouldn't have even started. I didn't tell her that we would have to come back up the hill to home. It's a good thing that we visited our own street because N1S, got to see the coolest Yoda pumpkin ever. He found this pumpkin at the same house that had the puking pumpkin last year. This is also N1S's favorite house because the home owner wears a cool Darth Maul costume. I think he wears it on other days of the year too.

Well, we got to see a parrot, a Yoda pumpkin and our neighbor's bathroom. It was now time to go home.

Lady Di and myself are two of those mean parents who let their kids eat only one piece of Halloween candy on Halloween night. And since Halloween landed on Wednesday this year, it was extra important to limit the sugar before bedtime. Otherwise, getting up for school in the morning would be just as scary as Halloween itself. N1S was lagging behind as we headed for home with a trail of wrappers following him. This surprised me. That is something I expect Sweet Pea to try, but I guess she was just too tired for tricks. In the house they each got a chocolate bar and a package of Sour French Fries. I thought the combination was just too good to break up, so I let the kids have two pieces of candy.

I'm sorry if you think my kids are getting a raw deal on the candy. They worked hard for it. They deserve it. They don't need it though. A little candy here and there is fine, but a Snickers Bar a day is not a habit I want to encourage. Plus, N1S's attention span seems to worsen in direct relation to how many M&M's he's eaten. The main part of Halloween is to have fun and be safe. We accomplished both goals. The kids had fun showing off their costumes to our neighbors. They also enjoyed seeing their friends' costumes and comparing bag contents. I got some new ideas for Halloween house decorating and pumpkin carving too. This year's pumpkins can be seen in the previous post.

Now I have to find a way to sneak most of the candy out of the house without the kids seeing. I guess I'd better start with the Peanut Butter Cups.

Halloween Pumpkin Roundup

Here are pictures of this years pumpkins at the Stuff in My Brain household. I need to give credit to Clare's Dad for the title of the post.

Sweet Pea picked out this pumpkin because she liked the bumps. So this is our Bumpy Pumpkin.
She also picked our a tiny warty pumpkin which she had to wash as soon at we got home. The bumpy pumpkin also got a bath.
Number One Son designed these. He even got to carve his own pumpkin for the first time. He did the middle one with the whiskers. For some reason, whiskers were popular on our pumpkins this year.
Yup, more whiskers. These are Sweet Pea's designs. She also got a taste of carving her own pumpkin. She did most of the top one. Note, she got a little zealous with the saw on one of the eyes.
Dad did these. I know they are kind of boring. I always let the kids draw their designs and then I try to carve them. When Sweet Pea was little she drew a face with one small eye and one large eye. I liked that look, so every year I carve at least one pumpkin with mismatched eyes.

Last but not least. This is the kind of pumpkin you get if you carve it a week and a half early. I think the sagging face makes it look pretty good.

Pumpkins are a favorite part of Halloween for me. I didn't do any Yoda pumpkins like my neighbor, but my designs still say Halloween. I like the faces that my kids design the best. They have all of the creativity anyway.

I just realized that I forgot to take a picture of the bumpy pumpkin. Oh well, I guess there is always next year.

I also just realized that this is my 100th post. Who woulda thought? And on a holiday too.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hop on the Wagon!

As if Sweet Pea wasn't busy enough with Kindergarten, gymnastics and piano lessons, now she has joined a Girl Scout troop. She is thrilled with her new endeavor. Lady Di is trying to find the 25th and 26th hour of the day to get everything in.

Her troop has been active from the start. One of the scout leaders hosted a get to know you picnic and bonfire at their residence in September. Since then, the girls have visited a corn maze and have gone on a hayride. Sweet Pea earned her first patch for the corn maze.

Last week, her troop went to a local farm for a hayride. Sweet Pea loves horses, so this was very exciting for her. Lady Di was the fortunate one to get to go with her. So they bundled up in heavy coats and stylish hats. Well, Sweet Pea had a stylish hat. They arrived at the farm around 6:30pm. Our little cowgirl ran to join her troop members who were already there. Eventually, all twelve girls arrived and were peeping back and forth like a dozen fuzzy chicks. As they all piled on the wagon, the owner warned them not to pet the horses. Which was disappointing to Sweet Pea, but I guess they didn't want a runaway wagon with twelve ponytails flying into the woods.

The hayride lasted an hour and forty five minutes. Which got to be a little long for some of the girls. The farmer had a roaring bonfire ready for them at the end of the ride. The girls were so tired they all half heartedly ate one smore, and were ready to leave. If you know Sweet Pea, you know that she usually starts with a half dozen smores before we have to start hiding the marshmallows and graham crackers.

The girls made it home late with bonfire smoke in their hair, but they had a lot of fun. It looks like Sweet Pea is in a pretty good girl scout troop. They definitely are active. She has also found yet another place to make friends. I hope she sticks with scouting and I hope I can go with her on a few of her outings in the future.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lego My Idea

When I work late, the drive home is usually my time to zone out my mind. I usually find some mellow radio station and blank out. Last night, however, a persistent little thought dug it's way into my brain. I was thinking about Number One Son. I often think of the kids when driving. Anyway, I was mentally listing the things that he likes to do. Of course, Legos were at the top of the list. He has so many Lego sets, I have lost track. He has half a dozen animal sets that he has put together. He has a fleet of Star Wars ships of various designs. If his Star Wars play battles get stale, then his Batman Lego's come to the rescue. To say that N1S is a Lego-maniac is an understatement. He even attends an after school Lego League once a week. Lego Magazine (a disguised catalog) comes each month and N1S feels like he's won a contest every time it comes in the mail.

So as I was driving with Lego's rattling in my head, I tried to think of some Lego that N1S didn't have yet. What would be fun for him to do next? Then I had a brainstorm. If I ever win the lottery and money isn't a concern, I am going to get N1S a life sized Lego house kit. Wouldn't it be cool if Lego made life sized bricks?

A truck would have to come and unload all of the Lego's for a garden shed sized play house. Imagine the clattering noise, that a dump truck full of Legos would make. I can envision big cinder block gray Lego's for the foundation. Next would come regular brick sized Lego's about the size of a shoe box. A big green flat Lego would serve as the floor. You could also snap in Lego doors, windows, flower pots or other accessories. You could even use some fancy arch bricks or clear Lego's or ones that glow in the dark. The instruction booklet would look like blue prints and it would come with a hard hat to complete the set.

As big as the Lego's would be, you might need an official Lego rubber mallet to make sure the bricks fit tightly. You wouldn't want the inspector to find gaps in your walls. And since all of the bricks would be hollow plastic, the whole play house would probably weigh less than a couple hundred pounds.

Not only would this idea give some lucky child hours of entertainment, it would teach him or her a trade to use later in life. As the kits advance, Lego could put out a house wiring and plumbing kit. A pair of pants that sag in the back would come with those kits. Making Legos waterproof may prove difficult though. The heating system may require some advanced engineering as well. I don't believe a working fireplace would last too long. Although, what's to stop them from developing metal and cement Legos? I guess they wouldn't be official Legos then, would they? But at least the structure of the house would be strong, even with plastic bricks. Especially if a lot of small flat Lego's are used, since the only way to separate those are with your teeth. I also might have a little issue with the Lego furniture you would have to make. That would be one hard Lego couch. After napping on it, you would have hundreds of little dimples all over your back too. I'm not going to say anything about a Lego bathroom.

Looking ahead, when the house is finished, the next kit to buy would be the race car to park out in front of your house. The car could only be used for short trips since you have to pull it backwards to build enough tension in the Lego motor. Heck, as long as you have the race car, you might as well assemble the life sized Star Destroyer space ship and cruise in style.

Can you tell I may have spent a little too much time and thought on this?

I hope the Lego company will consider my idea and maybe even let us test the first house kit. I'm sure once it is on the market, all the responsible parents of the world (Brittney, Jacko,Brangelina) will have to have one.

I suppose I had better let Lego know about my idea before they think of it themselves. I know they make life sized soft bricks for toddlers, so they will probably say that they already thought of my idea and they don't have to pay me for it. Which is too bad, because the only way I would be able to afford a Lego House kit, would be if I made it my primary place of residence. And I don't know if I am ready for plastic grass and multi-colored walls.
Although, with the holidays coming soon, wouldn't it be fun to build a nine foot tall Lego Christmas tree?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Walk The Plank

This Saturday, Number One Son hosted a pirate party for some of his friends. Since he has a summer birthday, Lady Di thought it would be nice to invite some of N1S's new 3rd grade classmates to a pre-Halloween Pirate Party. N1S's guest list included everyone from his class, everyone from his Sunday school class and a few others. Since we are not related to Johnny Depp, and his bank account, we whittled the list down to eight close friends which eventually grew to twelve.

Lady Di was in charge of the food. I tackled the games and decorations. We had pizza and cupcakes. Typical kid party food. Since this wasn't actually N1S's birthday, we just wanted the kids to eat and play games. A few guests brought gifts anyway, much to N1S's delight.

We started the Pirate Party off with a good, old fashioned vest decorating. What? You haven't heard of that before? Well, Lady Di had this great idea. She got some black material on clearance and sewed it into twelve or so simple vests. Then we got some glue guns and a tub of Gramma Ollie's multi-colored beads and let the kids decorate their vests with 'pirate jewels'. Some kids were really into placing their beads in certain patterns and certain colors. Others tried to see how long of a glue strand they could get all over themselves. Once the vests were properly adorned, and glue gun burns properly bandaged (my own), we brought out the paper bags for the treasure hunt. The kids used markers to write their names on the bags. Most of the boys also drew skeletons and various pirate themed pictures on their bags, many with realistic bloody battles. With an emphasis on the blood.

Once the bags were done, it was pizza time. I prepared the treasure hunt while the kids were chowing down. We had around nine stations set up in the backyard with a clue and a pirate prize at each one. As the boys found each clue, they got to put a prize in their bag. We divided the boys into teams of three. While one team worked on the hunt, we tried to entertain the rest of the group with a game of Simon Says. We were immediately informed that Simon Says is no longer the 'in' game. The boys taught us a game called, "I Love You Honey, But I Just Can't Smile". You basically stand in a circle and say to the person next to you, "I love you Honey, but I just can't smile". If the person who is listening smiles, they have to sit down. A couple of the boys couldn't even keep a straight face before they heard the first word. When it was N1S's turn he said, "I love you Honey......, what was I supposed to say again?" The best player at the party was his sister Sweet Pea. She stared stone faced at the third grader next to her, daring him to make her smile. She is going to be trouble for the boys in Junior High, I'm afraid.

Once all the teams had located the treasure, we had to do something else with the unruly mob. It's amazing how fast those games go when third grade boys play them. The games seemed to last a lot longer on paper.

Anyway, the next game was 'tie an apple on a string and see who can bite it first without using their hands'. Can you tell I don't know the real name for this game. About three of the boys had mouths big enough to bite half of the apple. The good thing was that almost every boy wanted to finish his apple regardless if they won or not. At least they got something healthy that day.

Our last game of the evening was 'Walk the Plank'. You can't have a pirate party without that. We blindfolded each boy and led each one around the yard to a long board plank. One end of the plank was elevated about six inches. It is supposed to seem a lot higher when you are blindfolded. When the boy would reach the end of the plank I would yell 'jump' and would usually have to nudge them off a little. I would say about half of the boys were fooled.

After the plank it was group picture time and then cupcakes. Luckily, we had just enough activities planned to reach the time that parents started showing up. The parents got to see their fine young boys racing around with cupcake highs, trying to skewer each other with their new plastic pirate daggers. I'm sure we impressed.

We didn't want to throw another birthday party. We just wanted a party for N1S and some of his old and new friends. He got to get some peer interaction practice and hopefully, his friends got to know him a little better. The party seemed to be a success, as all of the boys pretty much got along. They all participated in all of the games. We paired up boys differently for each game and they all seemed to enjoy themselves.

This would be fun to do again next year. I will have to think up something a little more scary than 'walk the plank' though. And the treasure hunt will definitely involve some sort of monster jumping out of something. And probably more blood too.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

You Gotta be a Football Hero.

Number One Son just finished taking a Community Ed. Football class. This class taught the basics of football. No pads, no helmets, no end zone dances. Lady Di and I were very nervous about signing him up for the class. N1S has had trouble with team sports in the past. It takes him awhile to grasp the concept of playing with teammates against another team. He usually is busy concentrating on what he is supposed to do so much that he loses sight of what the team is doing or even whose team he is on. We didn't want him to feel self conscious and we didn't want him to get teased. It's a class after school and I wouldn't be able to watch because of work.
But we took the plunge anyway in the hopes that he would learn more about the sport and maybe fit in better with his peers.


A few days before his first class, I thought it would be a good idea to get the football out and play catch. We tossed the ball back and forth trying see how many times we could catch it without dropping it. I think we got up to twelve or so.

N1S struggles a little with throwing a baseball. He isn't able to coordinate his feet to step forward as he throws. He usually has to think about which foot to step forward each time. Throwing the football is a different matter. He still has to think a little about his feet, but he can throw a tight, accurate spiral almost every time. For some reason his herky-jerky throwing style is very conducive to throwing a football. Score one for N1S.

With this success, I decided to go to the next level. I showed N1S how to run a football play. We got into a huddle. I traced the passing route on my hand for him to run. We lined up. I said 'hut' and off he ran. We ran the 'down and out' play. We ran 'the post'. We ran 'the fly'. I had to tell N1S how many steps to take before looking back for the ball. Otherwise, he would've run all the way to the neighbor's yard before looking back. Playing catch while standing still is hard enough. Now I was asking him to catch a ball while running and looking back over his shoulder. He tried very hard, but catching and running is difficult for anybody. He got a little frustrated and fell down a lot. But ,overall, it was a pretty positive day.

On the day before his football class, N1s was nervous and didn't want to go. I think he was afraid that he wouldn't be able to catch the ball well enough. It about broke my heart. We found out who his coach was going to be and, luckily, it was N1S's old gym teacher from first grade. It made a world of difference for N1S to know someone at the class.
He went to the class and was excited to go to the next one. He found out that there was a former baseball teammate in the class. He is definitely more excited about football now. He said he learned some more pass routes, and he's learned how to pass block. I know a certain 'purple' team who could use some training in that area.


His class then moved on to learning how to play as a team. He said that his team beat the other team, one touchdown to none. I said, "Great, how did you do?" He said he blocked on that play. He also said he almost scored a touchdown, but ran out of bounds. I guess the coach, who is the quarterback, faked a pass and then handed the ball to him. I would have loved to see that.

He is also learning a little football discipline. N1S said that one of the boys in his class didn't listen to the coach. Because of that, everyone had to run an extra lap around the field. "If one is punished, we all get punished.", he stated. Although, running a lap around the field may not really be punishment for a bunch of nine year boys. They are usually running everywhere anyway. I guess it's punishment if you tell them it is.

Overall, his experience was very positive. He is learning. His coordination is improving. And he is making friends and building confidence. Plus, we actually watched an entire football game together last Sunday. I'm glad that we actually had a good game to watch. He followed the play pretty well and cheered at the right time. He got excited when the Vikings did well and asked a lot of questions. There were a few times he accidentally booed at the Vikings. I think they were accidents anyway. Anyway, it was just nice to interact with him and enjoy something together. Adrian Peterson is now his favorite player.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Are You Scared?

Now that October is here, I'm feeling that creepy feeling again. And I mean creepy in a Halloweenie sense. For some reason, every year, when the air gets cooler and trees start to look barer, I'm more interested in spooky things. Our satellite television also starts to show more horror movies. It seems a dozen or more channels are running Hitchcock marathons. That's fine with me since I do not usually watch horror films, but I love Hitchcock movies. Along with Hitchcock films, I can choose from one of the Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, or Friday the 13th sequels. If you add up all of the movies in those three series I think you come up with seventy-three or so. Or maybe it just seems like that many.

Anyway, it's a great time to catch up on horror classics as well. Nosferatu is a great silent vampire film. Plus, any movie with Bela Lugosi or Boris Karloff is worth trying out. I also like the cheesy vampire movies from the seventies. The Captain Kronos, vampire hunter, series is campy enough for all. As you can see, I don't require actual fright when choosing my horror films. I like suspense and old castles. And I can even live without the suspense, as long a film has a crumbling, ancient, dusty, castle on a cliff with constant lightning in the background. Some creepy 'Phantom of the Opera' organ music is a must too. I am not a big fan of slasher movies. I don't care much for the gore, torture or rape. I'm pretty sure that I will never watch Saw. That is why I watch more of the older films. The first Halloween movie now seems tame enough for me after twenty plus years.

I am also drawn to reading more horror stories in October. There is nothing better than reading the Tell-Tale Heart by Poe on a chilly, drizzly day. Again, I like the classics better than more modern tales. Among my favorites are Frankenstein by Shelly, because it has a castle in it, and The Halloween Tree by Bradbury. Ray Bradbury has a whole list of good October stories. I usually lean more toward stories with bleak, depressing settings to match the weather. I just seem to get more out of them. This fall I decided to re-read Bram Stoker's Dracula. (Wow! Another rocking castle) I'm reading it slowly this time to really get into it.

This is the only time of year that I feel this way. I don't seem to enjoy spookiness (or castles) as much during the rest of the year. Once October is over, I have to start looking forward to Thanksgiving and then on to Christmas. By then, all of the macabre has left me. So now is the time get your Halloween fix, before the 'Happy' holidays start. Put out your pumpkins and 'bring out yer dead'.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Happy Anniversary

Twelve years ago today, Lady Di foolishly said, "I do", standing next to me in a church in Eagan, Mn. It's hard to believe that it has been twelve years already.

I remember that it was a sunny day with a strong, cold, autumn wind. All of our family and friends were there. Our nieces and nephews were so much younger then. When I think of that, it seems long ago. And yet, not too long ago. Everyone else has changed, but I don't feel that we have. Lady Di is still as beautiful now as she was on that past October day. Our family has grown by two since then. It's hard to remember a time without the kids, but it's as though they were there on that day too.

When Lady Di and I were married, we really became one. When the kids came, they became one with us also. It is difficult to separate a part of you, just because memory says you should.

Am I the same person I was before that day in October? Am I the same person now? I don't know if life changes one, or if life adds to one. Is a person the sum of his experiences, or do his experiences change and shape who he is? The answer will not be found by me.

I just know that looking back on our wedding day brings back memories of, not only what we did, but who we were. I believe that we are still, essentially, the same people. Everything and everyone else around us has changed. In my mind, we are still two young kids in love. I just hope that Lady Di remains foolish enough to stay with me. I love you Honey. Happy Anniversary.

Stuff About Me

My photo
I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.