Sunday, December 30, 2007


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.

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.