Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Caught Peeking

The family and I were eating supper the other night and we happened to have the television on. We usually have to turn the TV off during meals to keep the kids' from being hypnotised and accidentally sticking a carrot up their nose.

But the kids were being good and they were right in the middle of a 'Dog Eat Dog' rerun on the Gameshow Network, so we left it on. If you are not familiar with the show, contestants have to perform stunts involving swimming, climbing or other physical feats. Since many stunts involve swimming, contestants must wear bathing suits. Since contestants wear bathing suits, contestants are usually young, athletically fit and physically appealing. The bathing suits are usually a bit revealing also.

Like I said, we were eating supper when Number One Son, impulsively shouted, "Wow! Look at that girl!", startling Lady Di and myself.

After I removed the carrot from my nose, Lady Di and I turned around to see a female contestant in her bikini on the screen. As I said, these contestants are young and physically gifted and she was no exception. Lady Di and I looked at each other uncomfortably and wondered, what do we do now? N1S has never shown any interest in the opposite sex before. He's only nine years old. Maybe we were jumping to the wrong conclusion? He does usually notice things that we don't.

So I casually asked, "What's so special about her?"

N1S must have realized that he may have spoken a bit too loud and excitedly. He hesitated and got an embarrassed grin and stammered, "I just thought she had a cool swimsuit."

Sure she did. I guess we jumped to the right conclusion after all. Mark one more milestone for N1S.

Later in the show, one of the male contestants was chosen for a stunt. Lady Di then wondered out loud, "I wonder if he has a cool swimsuit too?"

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hitting the Gym

It's resolution time. Well, I guess I'm a little late. In an effort to improve our health, Lady Di and I decided to get a punching bag. Running in Minnesota is not very fun in the winter. The ice cold air feels like needles in your lungs and the ice likes to jump under your shoe at surprising moments.

So we sought out a fun way to get a workout in our home. Lady Di mentioned to me that she really likes to hit things. So, in a way, buying a punching bag is saving me from extra 'love bruises' as well as giving us a workout.

I have to say that our new 100lb heavy bag was working on the very first day. Just wrestling it down the basement steps burned a few hundred calories. I immediately replaced those calories with a few brownies.

Once it was in the basement, I got excited to break out the tools and hook it up. First thing to do on the list was, ask Lady Di where she wanted it. Our basement is unfinished so I thought it would be a quick job of putting up a short beam, installing the bracket and hanging the bag on the bracket.

Well, the job went a little longer than I expected. Lady Di did a good job picking out a spot to hang the punching bag. Unfortunately, the spot she chose had a mess of duct work and obstacles to work around.

After cutting a beam out of scrap 2X6's, I got it wedged in approximately the right spot before it got stuck. A hammer relocated it to the correct spot. With the beam securely in place, I readied the bracket. The guy at the sporting goods store recommended using longer screws than what come with the bracket kit. I agreed since I was planning on really bringing the hurt to this punching bag.

I had some four inch torques screws left over from my backyard deck project last summer. I felt these should be more than adequate. I only needed two and they were up to the job. Except, that both of them started to slip on the drill bit when they were three-fourths of the way in. Thanks to the aforementioned duct work, I was unable to keep the drill straight on the screw, thus causing the slipping and stripping of the screw head. So after half a dozen drill bit switches, I was able to get a vise grips pliers on them and hand turn the last half inch a quarter turn at a time.

Once the screws were in, I was ready to hit the showers. I'd already had two workouts and the bag wasn't even on the hook yet.

Getting the bag up was surprisingly easier than I anticipated. Fortunately, the chair I was using to stand on to put up the bracket was just the right height to sit the bag on. The chain came down right to the loops on the bag and one,two,three,four we had a boxing gym.

Now, hopefully, it will stay up a few days.
Then the kids came down to 'help'. They always seem to have great timing that way.
"Can we box now?", they asked.
"Go ahead. Knock yourselves out.", I punned.

In the pink corner, weighing in at fifty-two pounds. The Sparkle Spitfire. The Princess of Punch. The Glitter Gloved Pig-tailed Pugilist. Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeet Peeeeeeeeeeeea!

And in the blue corner, weighing in at sixty-five pounds. Jabba the Hit. Obi Wan K-Obie. The Beanpole Bruiser. The Lethal Lego. Number One Sonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

Llllllllllllet's get ready to RUMBLLLLLLLLLLLLE!

The first to try out the new exercise equipment was Sweet Pea. Right away she balled up her tiny fist of fury and gave the bag a growling round house punch. Immediately, followed by "Ow!". I guess her knuckles are not toughened up enough yet. Then she decided to get revenge and give the bag a swift kick complete with another 'Grrr!' Followed by another "Ow!" Bag-2, Sweet Pea-0.

Number One Son then eyed up the heavy bag and carefully took aim. He gave the bag a "Hi-Ya!" jab and answered with his own "Ow!". I guess the kids need to work up their knuckles if they want to show this bag something. They decided that hitting it was a lost cause, so they started swinging it back and forth between each other. I quickly put a stop to that. I don't need 100lbs of stuffing knocking over kids and bringing down duct work.

So now all that is left to do is use it. Lady Di and I have matching boxing gloves and I got some of those super large baggy boxing shorts and a mouthpiece. I have to go out now and get a Rocky poster to tack on the wall for inspiration.

Gonna Fly Now!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Basketball Night

Last week we had a family night. After work we ate out at a fancy fast food restaurant. We then went to the local high school gymnasium to cheer on the boys basketball team. Number One Son had his play practice at the high school too, so he missed the first half of the game. Sweet Pea missed most of the game too even though she was present for entire game.

As soon as we sat down in the bleachers, Sweet Pea said she was hungry. Mind you, we just came from eating supper. She would have to wait for her popcorn. Well, then she was tired, and then hot and then thirsty and then hungry again. And then she was, "Soooo bored with this." Then the game started.

"Here's a dollar. Go get some popcorn.", I said. And then hastily added, "And bring back the change."

She came back with her popcorn, eating it as she walked. She kept spilling it on her way up the clumsy bleachers but it didn't stop her from feeding herself on the way. She sat down and I asked, "Where's my change?"

"I don't know.", she shrugged. And then ate a handful of popcorn.

"Well, how much was popcorn?", I pressed.

"I don't know." Another shrug, another handful.

I now had a decision to make. Do I go to the concession stand and ask for the price of popcorn, and then ask if they knew of a little girl who got ripped off a few minutes ago? I decided I was too lazy to do that. We found out later that popcorn actually was $1. Now who got ripped off? I can remember when high school basketball game popcorn was ten cents. We usually had to ride in covered wagons, battling dinosaurs on the way to the game in our day, but the popcorn was at least affordable.

Number One Son arrived at half time from his play practice. He was thirsty too so we sent him to the concession stand with a couple dollars to get two bottles of water for him and his sister. He came back later with nothing and said, "I didn't have enough money for two bottles."

"What!" I could feel an increasing ache in my wallet area. We told him to go back and get one to share then. He then came back with a bottle of Gatorade. He said that Gatorade and water were both $1.75 so he got Gatorade.

I can't fault his logic but since when did water cost as much as Gatorade?

I wanted the game to be a teaching opportunity for the kids to learn more about the game of basketball. We mostly had a lesson in economics and inflation. And the kids learned how cheap their dad is.

Well, we stayed until the end of the game and unfortunately our team came up a little short. It was a close exciting game so I believe we got our money's worth.

At least that is what I'm telling myself.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Seven Layers of Me

I don't get tagged with memes very often, so I am very flattered and surprised when I do. DJkirkby has tagged me with a challenge to find seven things about myself that are either interesting, weird or true. I doubt that I can come up with anything that involves all three adjectives. I may have to invent some things. Anyway, the rules state that after I link to the person who tagged me and post my seven tales of wonder, I need to tag seven other random blogs. So if anyone is in the mood to fib seven times, let me know.

I am just kidding about the threat of untruths. I will endeavor to be as completely honest as I can and I'm sure your interest will be entirely coincidental.

Firstly, I really enjoy the television show, The Office. I know this is not uncommon, but my lovely spouse is convinced that only weirdos can understand, let alone find the humor in this show. At least this is strange to one person.

Secondly, one of the things I enjoy the most about the holidays is the food. I especially enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas because our family, like many other families, serve turkey. Every family has dark meat lovers and white meat lovers. I love the turkey neck and giblets. Every year Lady Di tries to throw out the turkey heart, gizzard and liver. For me, if these item don't make it into the roaster, my meal is ruined. Growing up I had to fight my father for the turkey neck. Now I'm stronger and faster so it isn't much of a fight anymore.

Thirdly, my taste in music may be a little atypical for someone who is thirty-something. I believe that Frank Sinatra was and is the greatest singer of all time. I grew up in the 80's and do enjoy quite a lot of pop from that era, but it still takes a back seat to 1940's big band music. I really got excited when Brian Setzer formed an orchestra and did Dirty Boogie. Well, enough of that nerdisy.

Fourthly, I like to play finger games. This drives Lady Di up the wall. This is something I do when bored, nervous or want something to distract the kids from their dessert. I tell myself that these are finger exercises in case I need to make the #3 signal four different ways rapidly. (My favorite is a thumb and first two fingers) Or if I'm trapped at a Star Trek convention and need to do the four finger Vulcan salute and then move the inner two fingers together for an anti-salute. I'll bet some of you are trying it now? Anyway, if touching each finger to the thumb in various patterns will ever be useful, I will be ready. Oops! Better move on, Lady Di is showing me one of her finger exercises. (Just kidding)

Fifthly, I'm not sure if fifthly is a word or not. I really enjoy mowing the lawn. Some regard it as a chore. I see it as me time. I get to spend a full hour by myself and I get a workout too. Even if the kids try to interrupt me with some so called emergency, all I have to do is cup my hand to my ear, point to the mower and shrug. Sometimes, when the grass is too short to mow, I can fire up the mower in the backyard and just walk back and forth with it until the gas runs out.

Sixthly, is a hard word to say if you lisp. Sorry, no other factoid here.

Finally, since I'm pretty sure that seventhly is not a real word, I am bothered by mispronounced words. Although, I am not so bothered as to actually correct anyone. Some of my most spine shivering complaints include the words Warshington, car-a-mel (I say karmul), supposably and pellow(pillow). I apologize to all who use these pronunciations, but please know that it only bothers me on the inside.

Well, that's my best attempt to inform you all about me. If you've made it this far, you have earned a trip to seven other much more readable blogs. I'm sure these seven will not fail to interest, excite and titillate. I enjoy these and I'm sure you will too. Some are quite new to me and some are my staples.

I usually check on fellow Minnesotan, Father of Five, daily. Hopefully, he isn't working too much to give this a try.

Another busy blogger is Sci-Fi Dad. I don't know how he can post so much. I know he will have a lot of weird things to say.

A new blog I have been visiting is Alf. Amazingly, it is only a little bit about an alien puppet.

I've only recently found Neonalune and thought she would have an interesting list.

I've also recently started reading Marla. She did a similar tag a little while ago so I hope she can find seven more facts to share.

I've just found Samokdaddy and am curious about what he's up to all the way over there.

And lastly, and definitely not least, I'm am tagging Lady Di. I should know everything there is to know about her, but I'm very sure she has held at least seven things back from me these last twelve years.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Don't Force us to Watch

This Christmas, Number One Son received a Star Wars DVD from his golfing Grandma and Grampa. He was very excited when he opened it.

"Oh my gosh! Do you know how much I've wanted this!", he rejoiced.

A couple weeks later, N1S came home from school a little run down. He wasn't very attentive at piano practice and didn't want to build a snowman with his sister. Sometimes kids have tough Mondays too, I guess.

So we had an early supper and while I was cleaning up, I thought it might be a good time to watch Episode I, The Phantom Menace.

I secretly put the disc in the player and and started it up. Sweet Pea excitedly asked, "Are we having a movie?"

"It's a surprise."

So they both sat on the floor and waited for the FBI warning to finish. Then the Star Wars logo came on with the loud music. SP dejectedly moaned, "Awww, not Star Wars."

N1S had the opposite reaction.

"Yes! This is Episode I, The Phantom Menace, this is where it all started, I like the cool ships and pod racers and the destroyer bots and Darth Maul and Qui Gon Jin and Obi Wan, but Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia are not in this one, they start in number III and this is so cool and.....jibberty, jabberty, flibberty, flub........."

I had to throw a bucket of ice water on him to calm him down.

SP was still a little disappointed until she learned that Queen Amidala was in this one.

This was all before the movie even started.

Once the movie progressed to, Long Long ago, in a galaxy far away..... both kids turned their full attention to the film.

SP then complained to N1S, "How come they always have all those words at the beginning?"

I thought, "Oh boy. You are asking the wrong person for a Star Wars explanation." Unless you want a half hour thesis about both sides of the force.

N1S surprisingly kept it under 500 words and explained the introduction.

After a while I heard SP exclaim, "Yes!" I wondered if she was finally getting into Star Wars.
Then I heard, "Finally, those words are done."

After a while she did somewhat get into some of the action scenes. She really likes Darth Maul, but who wouldn't like a cutie like that?

The kids both enjoyed the rest of the movie until bedtime. We only had one other incident before bed. Toward the end of the movie I paused it to allow both kids to get PJ's and brush their teeth. While they did that I thought I would fast forward just a few of the slow scenes to get to bedtime quicker. When Sweet Pea came down the stairs and saw that the movie wasn't still paused, she started to wail.

"Waaaaah! I wanted to watch the whole movie!"

No amount of consoling would do. She literally only missed one scene where everyone was walking into a space ship, buckling up and opening their complimentary peanuts. Even though they opened their peanut bags with light sabers, it wasn't that important of a scene to miss. But I rewound and she got to see the whole movie. I used to be able to advance the movie and fool the kids better when they were younger.

I guess I should be happy that I have two other Star Wars fans in the family. I just need to start the movie earlier. May the force be with you.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Basketball Memories

Number One Son is, once again, playing on a basketball league this year. Last year, he showed some real improvement, so I hope he will be able build on that success.

Before his first formal practice, I thought it would be a good idea to refresh our muscles at the local open gym.

I posted about what happened last year at the gym and this year I did much better. I stood back and let N1S do most of the playing. We practiced shooting, dribbling and passing. We played a little one on one and worked up a little bit of a sweat.

When it was time to go home, we changed our shoes, got our backpack and started out. I noticed that N1S forgot his coat, so I gave him some subtle hints to see if he would remember before we went out into the arctic air. We are trying to teach N1S how to be more responsible for his own things.

I asked him if he was ready to go.


"You didn't forget anything?"


"What do we usually wear in the winter?


"What else?"

"Hmmm...jackets...Oh yeah. I'll go get my coat."

I'm sure he would have remembered eventually on his own, but I didn't want to be all the way to the pick-up before he did.

On the way home, N1S drank his juice box and we pulled into the garage. I handed N1S his backpack and asked, "Hey, did you see where my gloves went?"

I then remembered that I had laid them on the floor, next to the backpack, next to the bleachers at the gym.

I guess I deserved the drive back to retrieve them.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A New Friend

When your weary,
Feelin small,
When tears are in your eyes,
I'll dry them all.

I'm on your side,
When times get rough.
And friends just can't be found,
build a friend out of frozen water.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I'm A Big Girl Now

I know this is quite late but I just couldn't find the time to post this during the holidays. I promise that this is almost my last holiday post.

Three weeks ago, Sweet Pea was showing me all of the things that she can do. We were getting ready to go to Advent service at the church. I told the kids to get their coats and shoes on.

I asked SP if she needed any help.

"No, Daddy. I can tie my shoes all by myself.", she proudly answered.

So I let her tie her own shoes. Even though she was wearing a corduroy skirt with tights, she wanted to put on her blue tennis shoes to show me her skills. She finished tying her shoes and beamed, "I'm growing up into a big girl, aren't I Daddy?"

"Yes you are Honey."

"I can even pour my own milk out of the pitcher at school.", she informed me.

"That's great Sweet Pea. Now zip up your coat so we can go." , I urged.

She zipped up and bent down to pick up her gloves. We then heard a loud, "Owwwwwwwww!"

Lady Di asked, "What happened, did you bump your head?"

Tearfully, SP wailed, "I zipped my hair in my coat zipper."

So much for being a big girl. I guess two steps forward and one step back is OK.

The kids were pretty well behaved at church. Lady Di has her English class on Wednesday nights, so I was flying solo with the kids. Number One Son got a new Bible from the church a month ago and wanted to bring it to church to look stuff up during service. The one bad thing was that he wanted to show everyone his Bible and read a few passages from it. It's a good thing he wasn't wearing his white, short sleeved shirt with black tie. Church members would have thought he was recruiting for Jehovah's Witness. It was kind of cute at the beginning, but after the first verse or so, even people in church started changing the subject. Too bad for them that N1S doesn't always realize the subject has changed.
The good thing is that both kids seem to enjoy going to church. N1S likes to read and participate. Sweet Pea likes to write and draw. They both like to socialize. At the end of service, N1S drew a picture for the people sitting behind us. As we were being ushered out of the church, he started up a conversation about his drawing with our neighbors. And since we sit in the front row I thought, "Oh great! Now we are holding up all of these Lutherans from getting to their after-church coffee and cookie. If we make them wait too long, we might get Christmas taken away from us." Luckily, one of the ushers whom we know, tapped N1S on the shoulder to remind him that it was our turn to leave. That brought a few chuckles and smiles from the rest of the congregation. They pretty much know who our kids are from previous church stunts. That's what is nice about our church. It is a very relaxed atmosphere which makes us very comfortable going to church.

After church, the kids and I drove around town looking at Christmas lights before heading for home. We had to drive around a few extra blocks so the Muppet's, Twelve Days of Christmas could finish on the radio. The kids really enjoyed Miss Piggy sing "Five Golden Rings, Ba Dum Bum Bum".

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy Dick Clark Eve

I hope everyone rang in the new year with enthusiasm and made it to the other side safely. Everything was pretty tame for us this year. One of the most exciting things about our new year's was our new year's plans. Since Dick Clark's personal invitation was lost in the mail, we were planning on a low key celebration this year. Taking the kids to a movie, followed by a 'Game of Life' marathon was our original plan leading up to our sparkling cider toasts.

Those plans were changed by an invitation from our neighbor to party at their home. They have a couple of girls close to Number One Son's age so all of the kids could have fun too.

We then got invited by another neighbor of ours to go out to eat for supper. More kids, more fun. So now, instead of quietly watching the ball drop at home, we got to eat out and sing Auld Lang Syne in chorus.

We will have to see Alvin and the Chipmunks another weekend I guess.

Even though we missed the movie, we were still able to play Life. Our friends also like to play games, so we brought our Life game with us. It was a memory jogger. Many of our friends remembered playing as kids. We got to laugh about how our lives have paralleled the game in many ways. Now we are all hoping to move into Millionaire Estates in the future.

We also played 'Balderdash', a game that requires you to make up definitions to obscure words and try to fool your opponents into believing you. As the time got later, the definitions got wilder. We had some interesting meanings for the word 'quondong' by the end of the evening. And just so your mind doesn't visit the same gutter ours were in, a quondong is an Australian fruit bush.

The kids were a little miffed about not being able to play with the adults, but they played well on their own and got to watch a couple movies.

Everyone stayed up to see the heroic Dick Clark count down to the new year. The kids got their sparkling cider and we got our Asti Spumonti. Sweet Pea was sitting on Lady Di's lap and was squirming and wiggling so much, Lady Di asked her if she had to go to the bathroom.

"No, I'm just so excited for the New Year!, she squealed.

N1S will also have something to be excited for in 2008. This year, Lady Di observed, N1S's age will be double digits for the first time. He will turn ten and will no longer be a single digit kid. He showed a little sign of growing up that night when he wouldn't kiss his Mom in front of his friends when midnight hit. He did later when no one was looking though.

All in all, this year's celebration was a lot of fun. We got to see friends, play games and get a jump on 2008. I would like to thank both of our neighbors for thinking of us this year. We have some very great friends.

So raise your stemware and toast to good fortune in the new year. And while you are at it, plant a quondong this spring.

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.