Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ahoy, Matey!

This weekend our son Ethan performed in his first musical play. The play is called Kokonut Kapers. This was a performance for 2nd through 6th graders. Ethan is one of a group of 'bloodthirsty' (singing and dancing) pirates. The play was very cute and the kids did a great job. They worked hard for the last two months. My hat's off to the directors of the play. The directors had two sets of about 40 kids to coach and direct and I didn't envy their job at all.
Ethan was part of a group of four pirates. They danced and marched with their swords and sang in the chorus. They each had head scarves, one earring, make-up beards and an eye patch. We were pretty proud. The kids were well prepared and Ethan was all business on stage. He didn't miss a cue.
At intermission, the audience got the chance to drop notes or cards into 'star' boxes that members of the cast had decorated themselves. People left cards, candy, flowers or other nice notes of congratulations in their boxes. Ethan got some baseball cards, an action figure and some candy in his box. He was pretty excited.
Emery was also excited, since she got some candy with a note too. Good thinking Lady Di. Although, Emery was counting Ethan's stuff to compare with her own.
Overall, this has been a great adventure for Ethan. He made new friends, learned about how a play is produced, and got to experience a performance. We hope his interest in the fine arts will continue. He has good rhythm and can sing pretty well. With his good memory and ease on stage, maybe he will get a speaking part in the next play.
It was a big day for Ethan. His two sets of grandparents and Great Gramma Peg got to see him perform. After the show we all celebrated at Ethan's favorite restaurant, Applebee's. His Auntie Sue and Uncle Tom will get to see him for tomorrow's performance.
I hope he can get some sleep tonight. His big day made him too keyed up to sleep right away. It will be fun to see the second performance. It usually is more relaxed and more fun. Maybe, Ethan will ad lib some pirate lines.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Lady Di must have read my mind tonight and made brownies. The chocolate, gooey ones with chocolate frosting. She makes them so they stick together and you can just press your fork flat into them to eat them. You don't even have to wait overnight to let them set. So after having my piece, (plus a narrow row when she wasn't looking) , I followed it all with a big glass of milk. So why do dairy products always go so well with cake products. It doesn't matter what kind of cake a person eats. Chocolate, marble, carrot, wedding, milk always is a good match. The only thing better than milk with cake, is ice cream with cake. For some reason, after that bite of cake and frosting, milk or ice cream just washes the mouth sweetly clean for the next bite.
No other beverage comes close to milk for cake. Just try orange juice or apple juice. They just won't work. Beer sometimes works at the end of the evening, but it probably doesn't matter much what you are eating by then.
My favorite cake or bar to eat is pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting. The cream cheese frosting offers another dairy connection to cake. Lady Di makes awesome pumpkin bars too. I wonder how clean I will have to get the garage to get some pumpkin bars.
I know this is my second post about cake. I don't think that's too obsessive. Not for cake, anyway.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

No Apologies

Lady Di and I decided to watch a movie tonight. So I went to red box to get one. And since the red box is located so close the the shamrock shake machine, I had to get two of those too. While waiting at the counter, I spied the gift card display. I noticed that the gift cards were promoting the Torino Winter Olympics from 2006. McD's must have run out of sponsors so they had to go back in time one year. Anyway, on one of the cards was a picture of US speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno. Anyone who knows Lady Di, knows that televised sports are not that high on her priority list. Unless there is bench clearing brawl. Then her eyes get poker chip sized to take in the action. However, during last year's Winter Olympics, we had to schedule our nights around Apolo's races.
"When does Apolo race next? , she would inquire, "He's just so cute!"
"Well, he skates in a preliminary heat in 10 minutes, but he probably will only skate fast enough for 4th place to move on.", I informed her. "But there is an interesting story about a cancer cure on the other station."
"Quick! Change it back! I'll miss Apolo!", she shrieked in a panic.

So needless to say we saw every one of his races. He won a few medals and at least one of them was gold. You should have seen the venom in Lady Di's eyes when one of those nasty other skaters tried to push Apolo down or pass him on the ice.

Anyhow, my trip ended with me bringing home the movie, two shamrock shakes, and an Apolo Anton Ohno gift card. I neglected to put any money on the card out of protest.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Break Up

Our kids amaze me daily. Tonight, Ethan and Emery received a call from their cousin Sara. Sara lives in the south-east metro area but still makes the drive all the way here a few times a year just to see the kids. About a year ago, Sara and then-boyfriend Jake came to visit. They played with the kids and brought gifts and had a nice weekend.
When Ethan got on the phone tonight, the first thing he said was, "Hi Sara. I have a question for you." He then said, "How's Jake doing?". Then came, "You know, Jake, your boyfriend." And then, "You broke up? Why, what happened?"
You may be asking yourself, "When is the amazing part?" Well, I am always amazed when Ethan makes a small step forward with interpersonal interactions. Ethan's Asperger's Syndrome constantly affects his conversing with people. In the past, Ethan would have only talked about his interests, or if someone would change the subject, he would try to steer the conversation back to his topic. If he would have heard of his cousin's break-up then, he would have probably said, "Oh,.... did you know that I have 4 light sabers?"
Ethan has made great progress with some wonderful teachers and therapists. They work on empathy and trying to know what the other person is feeling. These are two things that Asperger's kids need to study and learn. We still have to work on which topics are OK to talk about and which ones may be social awkward or offensive. But, just to hear him carry on a conversation with someone, about their interests and actually wanting to know more about them, is an exciting accomplishment.
Our daughter, Emery, has no problem with conversation. The only challenge with her is getting a word in edgewise. When Ethan was done, it was Emery's turn to talk. The first thing she asked Sara was, "Did you and Jake break up?", from listening to Ethan's conversation. Then Emery said, "I remember when you and Jake were here and he gave me two dollars."

Amazingly subtle, isn't she?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Eyes Straight and Listen Up!

Happy St. Pat's to you all. I know I'm a day late. Lady Di and I and some friends of ours went to The Local for a pint on St. Patrick's Day. We got to eat some Shepperd's pie, drink some Guinness and Harp, and watch the Minneapolis, St Pat's Day parade. We even got to listen to a bagpipe band march through the bar. It was a lot of fun. It has been a while since I had to shuffle sideways through a bar to get to the bathroom. The place was literally packed with Irish. Or at least, most were Irish and a few Irish pretenders like me. Once I arrived at the restroom, I found even more entertainment. I may be a few months behind the headlines, but I was unprepared to see 'talking urinal cakes'. As I stood in front of my urinal, I started to hear a man's voice talking. This scared me because nobody talks to a gentleman while business is being attended to. I also didn't want to look around to find who was talking, since restroom protocol requires your head to be bowed and eyes downcast. Then, I finally figured out that the urinal cake was doing the talking. It was a hockey puck shaped electronic recorder, communicating a message about drinking and driving. I think it said something about 'the police are cracking down' and 'you drink, you drive, you lose'. The unfortunate thing was that since it was a holiday, and the bathrooms were standing room only, all of the urinal cakes were talking at the same time. Now, I assumed it was impolite to listen to another man's urinal cake, so I didn't get to hear the entire message. I did start wondering about whose job is it to change the batteries when needed. Also, do women have a similar device in their stalls? Somehow, I don't think it would have the same effect. I think these 'potty preachers' are a very clever idea. Even if they only work once, it is worth it. I'm sure after a while the novelty will wear off and men will start ignoring these little wet speakers. By then, someone will have had another equally brilliant brainstorm. Maybe they will change the message to seasonal reminders like, "Don't forget, Valentine's Day is coming soon." Or, "Is it time for a prostate check?"

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Dad Madness

What has happened to me. Tonight is the opening night for March Madness. I have no idea who is in the tournament. In my youth, I followed college basketball with a passion. I liked the action, the stats, the history, everything. When March came, I was just as nervous as the teams 'on the bubble' trying to get to the "Big Dance". My finest hour came in 1988. It was my second year at college. The dorm started a basketball pool and I gave them my dollar. I made my picks with Duke winning it all. That was the year of a lot of upsets. I think that was the year Georgetown and Syracuse lost early and Villanova made it to the quarter-finals. Anyway, Duke made it to the Final Four for the first time. I was the only one in the pool with Duke that high. I was also one of the few that picked any team in the Final Four. This brilliant flash of genius earned me $40 dollars. After that, I entered a pool every March, and every March saw me one dollar poorer. Some years were better than others, but I never made it back into the money. I blame the Indiana Hoosiers for most of my failed years.
Which brings me back to 'What has happened to me?"
I haven't entered a pool for about 8 years now. Is it coincidence that my oldest is eight? Is it coincidence that I was 30 years old when I last participated? Is it a sign of getting old? I can't be old yet.
If it is a sign of getting old, I am going to put a halt to my lethargy right now. I am going to put on my Air Jordan's and wrist bands and I am going to fill out a basketball bracket. I'll get Lady Di, Ethan and Emery to each ante up their dollar. And I am going to pick Duke to go all the way once again. $$$

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Now what are we going to do?

Since I had to work this weekend, Lady Di thought it would be a good day to visit Gramma Ollie. The kids love to visit Mom's gramma. Gramma Ollie is 92 years young and hasn't lost a step. She still lives in her house and is sharp as a tack. She does crafts all year round. She still mows her lawn and sometimes shovels snow in the winter. Now, Gramma Ollie is getting ready to move into an apartment.
On the way to Gramma's house, Lady Di noticed a small house for sale in Gramma's neighborhood. She pulled over to read one of the fliers to compare prices with her gramma's house. Number One Son asked what Mom was doing.
"I'm just reading this to compare prices for Gramma Ollie.", said Lady Di.
"Why?", he said.
"Because she is going to move to an apartment."
"Why?", he repeated.
Lady Di answered, "So she can live close to people that she can play cards with. And she won't have to mow the lawn or shovel snow anymore."
Then N1S exclaimed, "What! Gramma Ollie's retiring?"

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Live Long and Prosper

Is anyone's church as cool as mine? Tonight, for our Lenten service, our pastor started off his sermon by talking about Star Trek. Honest! I can't lie about church now, can I? You should have seen the kids' eyes bulge and their neck hair stand straight up when they heard this. They both looked excitedly at me, as if to say, "Is this real?". I gave them a look back that said, "Oh, Yeah! This is going to be cool!" Pastor was talking about a Star Trek episode called "Mirror, Mirror" I think. Anyway, it's the one where Kirk and the crew use their faulty transporter, which is always breaking down, and end up on a different Enterprise space ship. This Enterprise is identical to their own ship in a parallel universe, with the exception that all of the crew is evil. Evil Spock even has a cool goatee. Our pastor was comparing Jesus to Captain Kirk, being in a place where everyone should be acting nice, but the opposite was happening. And then my mind drifted to Jesus firing a phazer and giving the Vulcan nerve pinch to Judas. Isn't that a nice thought before Easter. I'm not claiming to be a biblical scholar by any means. The kids usually make sure I only hear every 4th word said in church, so I usually have to fill in the blanks. My problem is, I fill in the blanks with stuff like Jedi Knights, baseball, and Frank Sinatra. I don't think Pastor has started a sermon with Frank yet, but I'll bet it will be soon. Maybe, it would be about Jesus and his 'Rat Pack' of disciples. Cool!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Class is in

When I graduated from high school and then from college, I thought all of my learning was behind me. Then kids came. When I knew I was going to become a father, I looked forward to teaching my kids all about everything. I didn't know at the time that I was going to be the student and my kids would teach me more than I could ever teach them. Here are some of the things I've learned from my kids.
I've learned how to read books in different voices.
I've learned how to do pony-tails.
I've learned how to play chess.
I've learned boys have clothes and girls have outfits.
I've learned to coach.
I've learned that kids listen to what you are saying all the time.
I've learned that anything can be exercise.
I've learned to love absolutely.
I've learned to worry more about fewer things.
I've learned you can eat popsicles in the winter and drink hot chocolate in the summer.
I've learned how to play beginner's piano.
I've learned the house needs decorations for every holiday.
I've learned that time is accelerating.
I've learned that a driveway should have chalk drawings on it all summer.
I've learned that the kids are great helpers, even when the job takes longer.
I've learned that kids are expensive.
I've learned that kids don't need expensive things.
I've learned band aids are miracle cures.
I've learned my new name is 'Ethan's or Emery's Dad'.
I've learned pride on a much larger scale.
I've learned honesty and fairness.
I've learned that boardgame rules change.
I've learned, some messes don't need to be cleaned up immediately.
I've learned there are some darn good animated movies out there.
I've learned when they are hurt, I hurt more.
I've learned that I am happier when they are happy.
I've learned what is really important in life.
Mostly, I've learned near infinite patience. There is an endless list of more things I have learned from my kids. There is another endless list of things I have yet to learn from them. I hope I never reach a point in life where I think I know it all, and I don't have to learn anymore. These are life lessons that I can't afford to miss. I've never enjoyed learning so much in my life, and it only gets better each day. Well, I'd better get some sleep. I have 'school' tomorrow.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Pass the sunscreen

Who needs Mexico when you can get buried in the white 'sands' of Minnesota.

After running a few errands this morning, the kids couldn't wait to play in all the snow. I don't think the kids have seen this much snow at one time before. Winter has been pretty mild in the last eight years. Well, the playing didn't last long. A few trips up the snow mountain, and one snow burial each was all they needed before fingers and cheeks started to tingle. The sun was bright but not warm. The temperature was 20 something, but the wind made it feel like zero something. So we left the 'beach' and thawed out at Subway. We got a few books at the Library next door, and went home to read. The kids must have been tired because when we got home, they actually did read their books. I think the rest of the afternoon will be pretty mild. The only thing left on our to do list, is to hide our weekend messes from Lady Di. Does anybody know how to get grape jelly off the ceiling?

Friday, March 2, 2007

Winter workout

Well, today is my first snow day. Cub didn't close, but I do have the day off. Which means, fun with the kids all day.
Step one:Sleep in. (This is great!)
Step two:Fire up snow blower for the 4th time in 24 hours.
Step three:Make pancake and bacon brunch for the kids and I.
Step four:Out the door with our sleds to Highwoods Park Hill.
I'm always looking for a good, local sledding hill. I found this one a few weeks ago. It's funny that I didn't remember this hill before. Ethan played baseball on the field right next to it all summer. This hill is big, steep, and clear of trees. Perfect for sledding. Even with the 8 inches of powder snow slowing us down, we still went pretty fast. I was also reminded of the rule: The better the sledding hill, the harder it is to climb back up. Ethan went down first. He raced straight down like water through a straw. Then Emery and I had our turn. I'm not sure who, but someone in our sled, weighed us down and we got buried in snow half way down the hill. When you are buried in snow, on your back, it is not easy to get back up. So I finally rolled myself over, got my boots under me and watched Ethan pass me on his way back up the hill.
"Come on, Dad.", he yells.
So we all got back to the top for another run. Ethan rocketed down again and went even farther this time. Emery and I attempted our second run. I leaned back in the sled this time and we got to the bottom of the hill.
"Yay!", we shout.
Then I looked back up Mt. Kilimanjaro and sighed. The kids at the top looked like ants in snow pants. "Well, I guess we'd better start back up, Emery."
"OK, pull me in the sled, Daddy. Weeee!, Emery squealed.
"Yeah, right." I talked her out of that idea.
We started walking. I soon realized that 4 year old legs struggle a bit in deep snow. So I put my head down and dragged Emery and the sled uphill. I climbed until exhaustion forced me to rest. I then realized I wasn't even half way up yet. It's a good thing I did look up, because I had to dive out of Ethan's way as he shot by on his shin-breaker sled. I said to myself, "Come on. I'm only 38 years old. I can conquer this hill. Let's go Emery! Emery? Where are you? "
"Dad! Up here!, she hollers.
"I'm coming.", I grumbled.
I huffed and puffed my way up the hill. The closer I got to the top, the steeper the grade became. My cheering section finally got me to the top, where I collapsed into a sled.
Then Ethan said, "Next time you go down, I'll pretend to be the rescue dog on the hill and rescue you."
If I go down again, the only thing that will rescue me is Spring. Ethan kept sledding and Emery discovered it was more fun to just roll down the hill, becoming a snowball along the way. We stayed for about an hour and then snowshoed our way back across the baseball diamond and playground to the pickup. We got home, put in the DVD, Ice Age II and made popcorn. We had a pretty good work out. I hope the kids are ready for an exciting afternoon of naps.

All worn out........

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.