Wednesday, February 28, 2007

S(no)w Fun!

What a difference a week makes. My spring fever has broken. My kids had their first snow day ever when school got cancelled today. And I wasn't there for it. I had to work. Cub doesn't ever close. And there's a reason. Even when the blizzard was at it's strongest, visibility was nil and everyone was getting stuck in the snow, people still went to the grocery store for chips and donuts. There is something about bad weather that drags people out of their homes to shop. I feel sorry for Lady Di. She had the kids all day. And I mean all day. I left for work at 7:30am and came home at 9:45pm. With the kids, Lady Di played in the snow, played games, made snacks, drew pictures, ran the snow blower, shovelled the driveway, churned butter, milked the cows and still had time to pack for her scrapbook weekend in Brainerd. I hope the roads are plowed by tomorrow. Have fun making our memory pages, Honey.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Real Winter

Now this is Minnesota! We finally got our winter snow. And it only took until Feb. 24th. I guess Winter didn't like my Spring Fever. We must have gotten around eight inches of snow last night. These are the days I am grateful for 4-wheel drive and my snow blower. The snow blew all night and when we woke up, we had drifts 2 feet deep or more. I checked the news to see if church was cancelled. Of course, it was not. I blew out the driveway and blasted the pickup through our unplowed street. "Cool Dad! Whip a cookie!", cried Number One Son.
"You got it Son!", I answered.
Lady Di then gave me 'The Look'.
"I mean, that's dangerous N1S. We want to be safe drivers. Right hon?", I backtracked.
As we pulled into the church parking lot, we noticed that it was kind of empty for the 8am service. We were the first ones in the church. The usher said, "I guess everyone gets 2 cups of wine at communion today."
"Awwwwright! I love church! Can we have 2 cookies in the fellowship hall after the service too?", I ventured. I celebrated with a one fist arm pump when the usher nodded excitedly. So church is off to an awesome start. When the service started I counted twelve other people besides us in the building.
"Wow", I said. "We're going to get a lot of 'church' in us today."
Well, church let out, I got only one brownie, (another Look) and we were on our way home. I was a little disappointed to see that the plow had made a pass through our street. No more 4-wheelin'. After lunch the plow came through again to clear out the cul-de-sac. He left a 10 foot mountain of snow next to our drive way. We had to leash the kids to keep them from scaling Mt. Snowy before they got boots and coats on. Once they were properly clothed, out they raced. I came out shortly thereafter, and said, "Alright, grab a shovel and lets clean up the rest of this driveway." Then the snowballs came from the mountain. I guess I'm on my own.
Well, the driveway got cleared. The kids got soaked. And we all got hot chocolate. Thanks Lady Di. This turned out to be a very good snow day. Even if nothing was cancelled.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

When Are The Playoffs?

Ethan had his last basketball game of the season. We were very grateful for his two coaches. Coach Tim and Coach Larry did a spectacular job with the boys. At the beginning of the season, the boys' play resembled marbles rolling randomly in a box. Kids ran every which way. Some kids shouting for the ball. Others, not sure if they were playing defense or offense or which team they were on. The boys improved all season and saved their best game for last. Ethan also saved his best game for the end. He was aggressive on defense. He shot the ball a few times. And.....He made his first shot! I don't know who was more excited. Lady Di and I both jumped up and started shouting, "Who Let the Dogs Out! Who,Who,Who,Who". Then we did body slams and high fives. Well, with Lady Di they are more like medium fives. I think Ethan surprised himself. It took a few seconds before he put both hands in the air and shouted, "Wooo". We'll have to work on his showboating skills. Little sister, Emery, kept coloring her book, oblivious to what had happened.
After Ethan made his shot, he got recharged with renewed energy. It was like someone had shot him with adrenaline. He was racing all over on defense. He wasn't even guarding his own guy anymore. He just followed the ball from player to player. He then appeared out of nowhere to steal the ball once.
After the game he and his sister wanted to shoot around some more before we went home. This was also a first. He usually is tired and wants to go straight home. He showed Mom how to dribble without looking at the ball. Lady Di showed him how to slam dunk.
It is sad to see the season end, but I'm glad Ethan had a good game. He wasn't the best player, but he improved each game and always gave his best effort. That's all I can ask. I suppose I should call the NBA to let them know we are on our way. Now I will have to teach him some of my secret basketball weapons. (Grabbing jerseys, throwing elbows, trash talking, etc) Don't worry, I will stretch out first.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Spring Fever

Does anyone else have Spring Fever? Above freezing temps can have an uplifting effect on a person. I can't wait to smell the freshly thawed breeze coming from the nearby farms. The snow is mostly melted and got me excited to check the lawn. I love to mow the lawn. I like the straight lines the mower makes. The different designs you can make with it. I also like the fact that you can see exactly how much lawn is mowed and how much you have left to do. It makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something. Plus, I like to give a shirtless 'show' to the neighborhood every once in a while. I never see anyone outside when I mow. In fact most of my neighbors suddenly grab their small children and race inside when my shirt comes off. But I'm certain they're all sneaking a peek through the blinds.

So today, I walked around the yard. The front yard is full of 'Liberty bombs'. Liberty is our dog. Every spring she spreads a winter's worth of fertilizer in the front yard which gives the grass a nice, off color polka dot pattern. Well, I guess I'll have to get some rubber gloves and a bucket ready for Lady Di.

Another sign of spring is the seed and nursery catalogs that come in the mail. I love looking through these to get ideas of what to add to the yard. My problem is that I see all the things I like and imagine them in our yard already full grown. Then when the trees or plants arrive (usually during a late season snowstorm) all I have is sticks and droopy leaves to poke in the ground. But just wait until 2017! Then we'll have a garden party! Woo hoo!

One more spring time anticipation I have is finally finishing our deck. All that is left is the railings. Last fall I argued that since the deck is mostly finished, it can be used. One part of the deck is 9 feet off the ground. I thought I would just put down yellow tape where the rail would be next spring. The kids know they shouldn't cross yellow tape don't they? I was voted down.

Anyway, spring is on the way. Don't pay any attention to the forecast that calls for a blizzard with freezing rain this weekend. If we ignore it, it will go away.
Now, where are my biker shorts?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Great Kid

For those of you who read my blog, you know that I have a fantastic wife and 2 great kids. I've done a few posts about how cute Emery is, and one about Ethan's basketball team. Ethan loves to play and gives it all he has every game and practice. Tonight, Ethan had a tough time at practice. Due to a misprint in schedule, Ethan and Mom arrived at practice 45 minutes early. Usually, there are two practice shifts. Ethan usually practices from 6:45 to 7:30pm. Tonight's schedule said all teams start at 6pm. When they found out that Ethan's coach wasn't there, Ethan joined another team to run through drills. This is when the trouble started.
Ethan has Asperger's Syndrome. It is on the Autism Spectrum. He has trouble adjusting to changes and transitions. He takes things literally. Direct eye contact bothers him. His ears are extra sensitive to loud unexpected noises. Otherwise, he is a very caring, bright, enthusiastic eight year old. Most people don't realize he is different unless they spend a lot time with him.

The practice started off bad. He was in an unfamiliar gym, with kids and coaches he didn't know, and who didn't know him. There was more noise with the extra kids and the coaches were all blowing whistles. The coaches ran new drills that he tried to understand. Asperger's kids are visual learners. Many times, verbal teaching blends in with the other distracting noises and causes a sensory overload. He was trying to learn by watching the other kids. The new coaches didn't know this and did their best to help Ethan to understand. But everything was too new and overwhelming for Ethan. He tried hard but eventually got exhausted and frustrated and ran crying to Mom.

Don't worry, this story does have a happy ending. Ethan's regular coach showed up at the regular time to start his practice. Once Ethan was with his own team, he could calm down and focus on what was being asked of him.

One of the frustrating things about Asperger's Syndrome is, that simple things like noise, transitions, and communication differences, can completely disrupt a person's thought processes. These disruptions may cause the child to throw a fit or over-react. Unfortunately, the child or parents are often judged for the behavior of this seemingly normal child. For normal people, these disruptions are not bothersome enough to affect their behavior. Also, most people instinctively know how to interact with peers and react to various social cues.

Asperger's kids struggle with these situations and need to be taught and learn what we take for granted. We don't want to shelter Ethan and limit all social interaction with his peers. We want him to experience friendships and personal pride as much as he can. He does have some very good friends, and for that we are thankful. We only try to limit certain conditions that may make his interactions more difficult. All we ask is a little patience for the kid who may not be "fitting in". It's not his fault. He's just learning.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sugar and Spice

Star Wars is cool.
Wait! Before you groan and click on Life is Good, hear me out. My two kids and I love to watch Star Wars movies. You'll notice, Lady Di has not yet associated herself with this club. A couple of weeks ago the temperature was -13 degrees. A good time to watch a movie. We decided to watch one of our Star Wars movies.
As we were watching the light saber fights and laser gun battles, my daughter Emery (4 y/o) was spinning around, jumping and falling in a heap on the floor. Lady Di turned to me and said, "Don't you wish she was more girlie?".
I turned and said, "Star Wars can be for girls as well as boys. All the cool kids are into it. Just like me."
I then got the eye roll that said 'whatever'.
Now, I know the really popular kids aren't exactly lining up for Darth Vader costume raves. But it is still OK to enjoy something, even when it is a little nerdy. And as far as being girlie, I think there is plenty of room for Star Wars and baseball to go with Barbies and ponies. Emery wears pink and plays shooting games. She likes video games and tea parties. She likes to dress up as ballerinas and pirates. As far as I am concerned, she is all a girl should be. She knows what she likes and works hard to enjoy the things she likes. She can be Princess Leia when she grows up, or Darth Vader. I want her future to be anything she wants it to be. I don't want to limit her to only, so called, girl opportunities. As she gets older, we will try many different activities to find out which ones she will enjoy. It may be chess club, basketball, dance or whatever else we can afford. She could be a beautician, astronaut or president. As long as she can support me in my old age, I will be happy and supportive with any decision she makes.
All I'm saying is, let your kids be who they are. Guide them from harm but let them make their own destiny. They will discover their own talents to be encouraged. Emery already has discovered one of her talents and she is working hard to improve it. This talent will certainly find her success in the BOSSING PEOPLE AROUND field.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

"No Soup for You!"

I have to work every 3rd weekend. So I sometimes miss a church service or two. These are times that I feel sorry for Lady Di. Sometimes our kids like to make church a contact sport. And we are usually the referees. They seem to behave better when they are with Mom, but I still know how exhausting, keeping them corralled, can be. Around noon I got a call at work. Lady Di wanted to share her Sunday morning with me. Her story made me laugh out loud and I actually startled some customers. Here is her story in it's entirety.

Let me know if this has ever happened to you. This Sunday, Loren had to work, so it was up to me to get the kids to church. The kids are usually pretty good most Sundays. We've only been kicked out of church a half dozen times. This Sunday, however, seemed go even smoother than normal. The kids got out of Sunday school and weren't too wild. The three of us walked into church and sat down. Since the kids were behaving, I actually got to listen and participate in church for a change. When communion came around I was on a church-high and ready to go!
We went to the front of the church and stood at the railing with 10 or so other parishioners. The elder welcomed us and we knelt down to the rail. I folded my hands and started thinking my holy thoughts. (world peace, He is risen, I wonder if the Pope has a blog). I then started working up some extra saliva to dissolve the disk shaped cardboard they call communion wafers. I got my wafer and waited for the pastor to offer the little wine glasses. As the pastor approached, he placed his hand on Ethan's head for a children's blessing. Then he did the same to Emery. As I reached my hand to accept the thimble of wine, Pastor put his hand on my head and blessed me. He skipped my wine! Then he continued on to the other people at the railing. Emery looked at me in bewilderment, "He skipped you Mommy." I thought, "What happened? Did Pastor think I wasn't praying hard enough? Do I need to show ID? Should I raise my hand like I'm trying to get the bartender's attention? Do I need to put more in the offering plate?"
Pastor must have noticed his error, because he did come back to apologize for thinking I was a child. And I did get to complete communion. In Pastor's defense, when kneeling, Ethan and I are about the same height.
After church, Pastor again apologized, saying he made the error because I look so young. I'm going to agree with that and take that as a compliment.

This is exactly how Lady Di told me her story, word for word. (With only a few embellishments)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Season's Sweet(ings)

Valentine's Day is finally over. The flowers are drooping, the stuffed animals are hidden in a drawer and the kids have their decorated shoeboxes full of candy. In Sweet Pea's case, a shoebox half-full. And just like Halloween, Mom and Dad have to sort through the candy. You know, to check to see if it is safe. (wink, wink) The kids both got some pretty good candy. Nowadays, candy companies just market their everyday candy with holiday themed packaging. Which got me thinking about the yearly holiday candy you can only get at holiday time.

We might as well start with Valentine's Day. And start with worst candy ever made. The candy hearts with love messages on them. These are kinda crunchy, kinda chalky and kinda crappy. We left a bowl of the large sized hearts out on the table for the last week. Now anyone knows if a bowl of candy is left out, eventually it will be eaten. No matter how stale or awful. The strange thing about this bowl was that all of the pink hearts were left untouched. All other colors were gone. So now I know that the pink flavor is the worst flavor of the worst V-day candy. Heart shaped boxes of chocolates are also low on the list. Everyone knows that these boxes are recycled every year by the candy companies. The chocolates that don't sell at X-mas, transfer to Valentine's boxes and vice-versa.

Next holiday:Easter.
Who in the world likes Peeps? These are sugar coated marshmallows shaped and colored like chicks. They are another seasonal candy mass produced and stored for many Easters to come. Something I actually look forward to at Easter is Cadbury Eggs. Not everyone likes them, but I could eat two a day for the entire Lent season.

Now Halloween.
This is a holiday made for candy. There is so much great candy at Halloween, why would anyone give out peanut butter taffy? The cardboard colored taffy in the either orange or black wrappers. This taffy is so hard you have to warm it up in your mouth for 5 minutes before it pulls your teeth out. This is the candy that even SP will try to trade.

Another seasonal treat that I always look forward to, went on sale today.
So everyone, throw away the stale hearts and go out and get your Shamrock Shakes today.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Sweet Pea File

Warning: Cute kid story ahead!
My daughter, Sweet Pea, had a Valentine's Day party at her preschool yesterday. Cards were exchanged, games were played and candy was eaten. A pretty good party. One of the games played was Bingo. SP won a prize. The prize was a bronze colored, turtle key chain. When you squeezed the turtle's belly, it clicked. So the entire morning was full of, click, click, click.
"Daddy, my turtle wants to tell you a secret."
Click, click, click stabbing my ear drum from point blank range.
When I could hear again, I asked her if her turtle had a name.
Without hesitation, she said, "Turtie."

Now, I know what that name sounds like. I had to fight back the tears from stifling my amusement. "Turdie, huh? Are you sure?" "Yup."
I should have been able to predict this. Her stuffed kitten is named Kitty, and her leopard is named Leppy. So we had to tell Mommy too. She had a similar reaction to mine. SP started to pout because she didn't know why we were laughing at her. Mommy had to explain the other meaning for the word turdie. SP didn't seem to see why that was important. We tried to talk her into another name.
"I guess I could call her Shelly.", suggested SP.
"That sounds pretty good." , I encouraged.
"No, I like Turtie better." , she said.
I guess his name is Turtie.
So, the rest of the morning she played with Turtie. Saying things like, "Turtie is hungry. Turtie is swimming in the water. I love you Turtie.
As you can see, our house is full of potty mouths.
SP did eventually decide on the name of Shelly.
Then shortly thereafter, Shelly broke.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Chin-up bar update

The other day, I was standing in the kitchen eating my Power Bar. OK, it was a donut. When my young daughter walked in and said, "Gee, Dad, your muscles are really big." I then brushed the donut crumbs from her face that I accidentally coughed at her.
"Thank you Emery." I beamed. "Do you really think so?"
"Yeah, Dad. You must be the strongest Dad in the world."
She is such a bright child.
Ethan, then looked up from his breakfast and said, "Dad, will I ever be as strong as you?"
"Certainly, Son. All it takes is hard work.", I advised.
Just then, Lady Di came storming out of the laundry room. "This is the fourth shirt you've ruined this week!, she shrieked. The arms are ripped and the chest and shoulders are totally stretched out!"
Baffled, I stammered, "I can't understand why my shirts keep getting ruined. All I'm doing is wearing them while I do Chin-ups."
With a sigh of disgust, Lady Di screamed, "I wish I would never have gotten that chin-up bar for you!"
I countered with, "Well, you don't seem to complain when I vacuum without my shirt on."
"Yeah, I guess you're right.", she agreed. "I do like your shirtless struts around the house."
Ethan then excitedly shouted, "Dad, can I use your chin-up bar?"
I humored him and said "Sure you can, but it takes a lot of time and effort to work your way up to... 6 pull-ups like your dad."

After a while I got tired of counting Ethan's pull-ups. "Gee, Dad, this is fun. Can I keep going or do you want to do your 6?"
Tomorrow, I hang clothes on that @#!& bar!

Friday, February 9, 2007

My Funny Valentine

Since Valentine's Day is near, I would like to express my admiration and love for my wife. I know I don't tell her often enough. I appreciate what she has to put up with.

People who know me, know that I am a pretty aggressive homebody. I like to do things around the house. Things like nap, eat, watch TV, nap. If I hadn't found Lady Di, I would still be living in a one bedroom apartment with one chair and a milk crate TV stand. If I were responsible for the kids, they would be wearing burlap sacks with rope belts and every night would be pizza night.

Luckily, Di makes sure they are properly dressed and fed. She does very well to enable the kids to reach their highest potential. Where I am deficient in talking to people, she is a great communicator. When school starts, the kids' teachers soon know who we are. Di is in constant contact with school and any other program the kids are in. She volunteers and always thinks of their teachers at holidays. Ethan and Emery have benefited greatly from their Mom's energy, tenacity, and kindness. She provides many opportunities for us to make memories.
She also is very creative and a talented photographer and scrapbooker. Which fills another deficit of mine. I tried photography and filled an album with pictures of my thumb. I admire the fact that she is going back to college and doing well.

I owe a lot to my wife. She makes living day to day a comfortable adventure. She supports and motivates me. I look forward to spending many more days with her and growing old together.
I know some days her efforts seem to go unappreciated. The kids and I want her to know how thankful we are for all that she does for us. We will try to make this the best Valentine's Day ever.

You're're're beautiful it's true.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Superdud the Sequel

Last time, I posted about my Superman daydreams. This time I would like to know, if anyone else ever wished they were a super hero, or if it is just me. I'd like to hear who your favorite hero is and why. But you can't pick Superman. That would be cheating. Come on! He's the strongest, he can fly, x-ray vision, heat vision, cool tights and cape. He's got it all.
In grade school, everyone wanted to be Superman when we played super heroes. But, alas, the cool kid always got to be him. Then everyone would quickly 'call' their 2nd favorites until I was left with either Krypto (Superman's dog) or Wonder Woman. At least Wonder Woman had a cool invisible jet. Sometimes I would get to be Aquaman, but he is only good if you are in a swimming pool. And we had no swimming pools on the playground.

So, tell me of your favorite hero.

My favorite hero is Space Ghost. He was a Hanna-Barbara cartoon character I watched in the late 70's. He could turn invisible, fly, and shoot various rays out of his power bands. Power bands were special bracelets he wore with buttons to shoot his weaponry. These power bands were also his weakness. The bad guys always tricked Space Ghost out of his bands. Every stinkin' episode. I didn't say you had to pick the smartest hero. Without his power bands, he couldn't do anything except get tied up. Then he had to get his teenager sidekicks with their space monkey to rescue him. They also had a cool space ship that could be turned invisible. I guess I like invisible ships.
Space Ghost and other hero cartoons of this era were full of flying and shooting. No wonder we 8 year olds liked them so much. Not very much science and logic. The best part was, the heroes would be losing for the first 27 minutes of the episode. Then suddenly the hero would remember a forgotten super power that would miraculously exploit the bad guy in the last 3 minutes and fix everything. How does someone forget a power? I guess that's why the villains have the super-brains and the heroes have the super-braun.
So, let me know your favorite. If you don't have one, make one up. Although, Chin-up Boy is already taken.

Friday, February 2, 2007


Last night, Lady Di and I rented the movie Superman Returns. I'm sorry to say, I expected a little better. The special effects were OK, but the movie, as a whole, moved at a glacial pace. I kept waiting for something to happen. Yeah, it was cool when he was flying, but there was a lot of dead space between rescues. During one of these 'dead spaces' I started thinking. I asked Lady Di, "If you could fly, how would you do it?" I wanted to know if she would fly with both arms straight in front of her, or arms at her sides going headfirst.

Without pausing she said, "I'd fly in a sitting position with my hands on my knees."
"What?", I uttered.
"And sometimes, I would straighten my legs to stretch them out.", she sighed. "Oooo! And I would point my foot like I was pressing the accelerator when I sped up."

When I finished rolling my eyes, I tried to picture someone soaring through the air, looking like they were sitting on the floor, watching Saturday morning cartoons. Superman would just not do that! I know she was giving the question all the 'seriousness' it deserved. Then I wondered, "Why not fly like that?" I think I'd like to fly on my back with my hands behind my head most of the time. Also, for fun, I would pretend I'm doing the backstroke through the air. Or maybe, spread my arms and legs like the letter X and cartwheel through the sky to my next rescue. Wouldn't that strike fear into the hearts of criminal masterminds?

Here's a trick I like to do when driving. I place my hands at 11 and 1 on the steering wheel. Then I straighten my arms. Now, I point my fingers straight ahead while keeping my thumbs on the wheel. If I look straight along my fingers to the road ahead, it looks like I'm flying down the road like Superman. Sometimes it's better if I close one eye. Try it sometime, it's cool.
That's about all for my 'Super Powers'. But, I am working on some others. I've perfected my power to nap instantly. I use that one when my nemesis, Mrs. Honeydo, is plotting her evil laundry plans. I'm also working on my Super Chin-ups. These are just like regular chin-ups, except I wear a cape when doing them.

To be continued....

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Small town news

I come from a small town. My hometown of, Howard, S.D., has a weekly newspaper that I still receive and enjoy reading. Along with the typical small town news, I like to read the classifieds. My favorite classified was printed about a year ago in the "Lost and Found" section. This is exactly how it read:

Found: One commercial deli meat slicer.
Reward wanted. Call 605-XXX-XXXX.

Now, what I can't understand is, how can someone lose a commercial deli meat slicer? These microwave oven sized slicers, with the blade that goes back and forth slicing bowling ball sized hunks of ham, don't normally get misplaced. He must have "found" it just lying around behind the display case of meat and figured someone must have "dropped" it while strolling through the deli. I wonder how much reward he is expecting. If the reward is not enough, will he keep the slicer? Well, I sure hope the poor deli manager realizes that he is missing one of his slicers and calls this Good Samaritan and "rewards" him with what he deserves

Stuff About Me

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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.