Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Questions From The Big House

Today at lunch, Number One Son asked which word to use when breaking the law, legal or illegal.

"What did you do now!", I snapped.

Just kidding, but his innocent question started a fact finding, in-depth investigation by Sweet Pea. After N1S's question, SP had to ask, "What does illegal mean?"

"It means breaking the law."

"What does breaking the law mean?"

"It means doing something bad."

"Like calling someone a bad name?"

"No, it's like someone speeding and driving crazy.", N1S volunteered.

Then she asked, "What happens when you break the law?"

"You go to prison.", answered N1S.

N1S seems to be preparing for something.

"What is prison?"

"You don't want to know.", I mumbled to myself.

Actually, I thought this was good time to put a little scare into her and let her know what kind of place prison is. I had to dig deep into my past and dredge up all of my knowledge about prison. I had to relive some very unpleasant memories from things I've seen on Hogan's Heroes and The Shawshank Redemption.

"Prison is a place where bad guys have to live in a small room with no Webkins or Barbies or sidewalk chalk, and the bad guys are mean to you all the time.", I said in my most serious documentary narrator voice.

N1S chimed in too. "And you can't have any visitors."

SP wasn't ready for such stark reality. "They can have visitors on their birthdays, right?"

"No, no visitors, no presents, no cake." There, that should nip that bud.

"Why can't they have presents.", she tirelessly asked.

"Because sometimes their bad friends will put a gun or a knife or a light saber in the present to help them escape.", I said, running low on answers.

"Well, what do they eat?", she asked.

"Mostly gruel.", offered N1S.

"What's gruel?", she relentlessly inquired.

"Like oatmeal, but without maple and brown sugar."

"Do they get seconds?" , she inquired.
"No, you don't get seconds and you have to share with guys like this."

This was N1S's homemade costume from Halloween 2000. Notice the black styrofoam ball and chain. He was 2 years old that year. Lady Di did a great job on the black electrical tape costume and scrapbook page. Thanks to her, memories are only a page turn away.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


We've kept Number One Son waiting for nine plus long years, but this week we finally broke down and let him have what he wanted. Every month or so he has asked for this, and every month or so we had to put our collective feet down in defiance. As our defiance weakened and the timing was right, N1S saw his opportunity and jumped at it.

"Can I have a Mohawk?"

Sorry Grandma and Grampa, it's done and there's nothing to do now but wait until it grows out. Since it is the beginning of summer and there are no important pictures scheduled, we said it was now or never. Lady Di probably would have preferred never. But our hairdresser made a fun time of it. N1S was little tentative at the hairdresser's when she actually started to buzz him. He wasn't very talkative and I thought he was maybe having second thoughts. Sweet Pea helped a lot when she cheered him without any prompting from me.

"That looks sooo cool!", she gushed.

After that encouragement, he was excited to know what kind of clippers she used and was describing how different his hair felt.

SP got her haircut too, but it was a far far cry from a Mohawk. She probably lost just as much hair as N1S but you couldn't tell since she just got her bangs trimmed and an inch off her length.

Not as extreme as N1S but it looks just as good.

After haircuts, they each chose a Fun Dip from the treat basket and we were off to show off their coifs. We actually only went to the hardware store and the dump, but N1S did get some nice comments at the hardware store.

So now N1S has a haircut to match his skateboarding lifestyle. Or at least he looks like he has a skateboarding lifestyle. We also have to remember that he needs sunscreen on his head now. He hasn't gotten annoyed with his parents for constantly rubbing the stubble on his head yet. He even says he likes the way it feels.

Our plan is to let it grow out and get back to normal before school starts this fall. I'm a little worried now that we have let him have a Mohawk once, how will we be able to say no in the future? I guess it could have been worse. He could have wanted a hairstyle like this poor guy.

We dodged a bullet there.

Thanks, Father of Five, for the use of the picture from your last haircut.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kickin' and a Chippin'

Last week, both kids finished up with their respective sports camps. Sweet Pea participated in a week long soccer camp. She went every morning from 9 to noon, and it seemed she came home muddier with each day. When I picked her up on Thursday, the entire swarm of six year olds were engaged in a water fight with their teenage coaches. They made it fun for the kids each day. Wednesday was crazy hair day, which SP greatly excels at. She has a superior talent to team up with Lady Di to create hair sculptures. This year the 'Zohans' produced a beautiful lion's mane with a rainbow assortment of pony tail holders. SP was having so much fun this week, I don't think she realized that she was actually learning how to play soccer.

She is also on a soccer league team again this year. Last year her team was the lavender gophers. This year she is on the pink wolves team. Whenever her team scores a goal, they all howl like a pink pack of wolves.

This looks like a pretty good action shot of her, but she was actually just hanging out in the goal with her teammates before the game.

Number One Son completed his golf camp this week also. He would get dropped off at the golf course for an hour in the morning. I really had to force myself to not take his place at the camp, since I am in need of much instruction. For those who know N1S, you know that he is not a natural athlete and struggles with team sports. Individual sports seem to fall more in line with his talents and temperament. This is the case with many kids with Asperger's. We are still involving him in some team activities, like his basketball camp later in the month, but so far he has shown the most success with solo activities. Even though golf is an individual sport, the instructors came up with team competitions for the kids to test themselves. I watched N1S's team win a chipping contest and it was nice to see N1S cheering on his teammates and celebrating with them when he chipped the last ball through the target.

I didn't get any pictures of N1S at his golf camp so here is one of him trying his best to chop a divot out of my beautiful lawn.

The golf camp couldn't have pleased me more. Now I have a real reason to spend some extra time at the golf course. I'm hoping that SP will show the same interest in golf and basketball when she is a bit older. We can then add a few more family activities to enjoy.

Friday, June 13, 2008

How to Annoy Your Kids on a Bike.

Last week, we had the most perfect night for a bike ride with the kids. It was warm with only a slight breeze and no bugs. Whenever we take the kids on a bike ride, I always keep our destination a secret until we get there. That way I can change my mind in the middle of the trip if circumstances warrant.

Like if I get too tired to bike all the way to Dairy Queen.

The kids are good about stopping at intersections and asking when and which way to go. This night, we just went straight.

At the first intersection, Number One Son looked back and asked which way.

"Straight" , I answered.

At the next street the answer was the same, 'straight'.

After a while N1S asked if we could turn.

"No! Straight ahead!, I commanded.

Sweet Pea then started to get a little annoyed with my generic route.

She asked, "How come we're not turning?"

"Because we're going straight."

"No, I mean where are we going?", she inquired.

"We're going straight, of course.", I answered.

Then I got a frustrated growl from her and a burst of speed on her bike to catch up with her brother, leaving me in the dust.

Later in our ride we passed a park. Sweet Pea is just starting to read on her own and is pretty good at sounding words out. We are also working on getting her to recognize more sight words.

So when we passed the big sign that read 'Walnut Park', she told her brother, "Look, there's Wal-Mart Park."

I knew it was incorrect but I still had to look at the sign to check anyway. Wal-Mart seems to own everything now.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Get ready for the adventure of your life. That is what I was thinking as we drove to the local cineplex to view the new Indiana Jones movie.

To get warmed up for the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, we watched part of Last Crusade during supper. As I was getting the kids loaded up, Lady Di suggested that she might stay home. Her excuse was, "I haven't seen number two or three yet, so I probably won't be able to follow the fourth movie." So the kids and I embarked on our adventure as Lady Di carried a bag with a new scented candle, bubble bath and James Blunt CD up to the bathroom.

The kids and I got our tickets, bought our large popcorn with large Sprite, (they were out of root beer) and found our seats. I had the forethought to bring two small paper bags to fill with popcorn for the kids. That way we avoid the inevitable fight to hold the bucket. After filling their bags, we all munched through the ads and previews. I returned to the concession stand for our free popcorn refill just minutes before the movie's opening credits.

The movie was a big hit with us. Number One Son was laughing out loud multiple times during the movie. At times he was so excited I had to remind him to stop talking out loud about the movie. Sweet Pea enjoyed it too and only had to hide her eyes a few times. She sometimes doesn't want to see skeletons.

Sequels are always difficult to make as good as the original, but this movie held its own pretty well. The action was good but might have had a little too much computer animation. But, I guess you probably need quite a bit of computer touch ups when your hero is getting mistaken for one of the artifacts in the scene.

After the film we all played the mandatory, What was your favorite part, game. N1S liked the big finale at the end, and all of the small references to previous Indy films. SP liked when Indy wouldn't grab the snake in the sand pit.

SP was so impressed with Indy that, since her middle name is Anna, she wanted us to call her Indy-anna from now on.

Now that the kids are getting older, we are starting to watch more non-animated films. This is good for us parents, because there is a limit to how much Pixar one can take. I also learned that, if you want to see the entire movie, you should not buy a large Sprite for your six year old girl. At about the half way point in the movie, SP started doing the seat shimmy and said she had to go to the bathroom. Inwardly, I groaned and said, "Get your flip flops on.". Luckily, Indy had just finished an action scene, so I figured we had a few minutes before the next chase. I whispered, "Run" to SP, and we both dashed out of the theatre. As we ran to the bathroom I shouted instructions to her. "Run in, go as fast as you can, wash your hands, don't bother drying, they will dry on the way back, here we are, GO!". I felt like the crew chief in a NASCAR pit. I also used the opportunity to go myself. Thirty-two seconds later we both darted out of our respective restrooms and raced back to our seats. We hadn't missed any skeletons or booby traps. Next time, we can try for under 30 seconds.

We enjoyed the rest of the movie, and had a nice ride home talking about it. Although, N1S and SP had a pretend fist fight in the back seat complete with 'pisht!', and 'ugh!', sound effects. It's nice to see an educational movie now and then.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Apples to Apples

If anyone of you has trouble getting your kids to eat fruit, then I suggest finding an apple peeler. This isn't a new gadget or another name for your spouse with a knife. This is something that has been around almost as long as apples have been around.

Number One Son is a somewhat picky eater. He always orders the same food at every restaurant we visit. A bacon cheeseburger with fries. The Mexican and Chinese restaurants have to do some creative cooking sometimes for him. He likes some fruit, but usually not apples. Don't ask me why. I thought everyone liked apples.

Anyway, we have an old style apple peeler. Ours actually is relatively new, but the basic model is an old design. It resembles a large U-shaped metal brace. One end has a crank and the other end has a do-hicky. As you probably have guessed, the do-hicky does the amazing work.

We first, stick the apple, butt first, onto the end of the crank. Then the fun starts. You can probably guess that the kids fight over who gets to turn the crank. As the kids turn the crank, the apple spins with it moving ever closer to the do-hicky. Once the apple comes in contact with said do-hicky, the apple's peel magically starts to come off of the apple like a ribbon and curls up on the cutting board. The peeled strips are so thin that there is almost zero waste. Sweet Pea thinks the ribbon peel looks like the round red onions that come with your salad at a restaurant.

As the spinning apple loses its clothes, it passes through a ring at the other end. This ring slices the now naked apple into a spiral and separates it from the core. So you are left with a core less, nude apple with a slinky like cut throughout.

Now who wouldn't love to eat an apple like that? Well, no one in our house. N1S will now eat a whole apple for lunch. Sweet Pea, who loved apples to start with, now has another way to snack.

It's funny what kids will eat and what they won't. The chefs on the Food Network always place such importance on presentation. Now I know why they do.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Enthusiasm For Your Curb

I've never watched an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but I hear it is very funny. Since I have never seen that show, this post will be about something different. In an effort to improve our home, stimulate the local economy and make mowing the lawn easier for me, we had some decorative curbing put in.

We went with the chestnut colored brick pattern. The kids really were interested in the contractor's curb machine. Sweet Pea was hypnotized watching the machine slowly leave a concrete snake a few inches at a time. She kept saying, "That is so cool!".

Number One Son was listening to the R2D2 sized machine click and puff and noticed that the worker was shovelling the concrete into the machine in rhythm with the motor. He said it sounded like a song. We are similar in that way. I tend to notice subtle things like that. I also tend to miss the main action occurring due to my distraction.

Our contractor was really friendly and seemed to enjoy that the kids were admiring his livelihood. On an earlier visit, while the contractor was giving us an estimate, his partner played with the kids and their whistle balloons. On the day of the job, he told the kids that he still had his balloon. They thought that was cool. I thought it was pretty nice.

The contractor finished in a few hours and it looked great. We just had to wait five more hours for it to harden. The contractor warned me to keep our dog, Liberty, inside or on a leash when outside so she wouldn't try for puppy immortality and place a conspicuous paw print somewhere.

Once the contractor left, I went inside to explain the rules to Liberty. Fifteen minutes later, one of Sweet Pea's neighbor friends knocked on the door to see if SP could play. SP was gone with Lady Di at that moment, so I sent her friend home with a promise to reschedule. An hour later, I was outside checking on the drying process when I spied a faint kindergarten sized flip-flop print on a section of our brand new curb. The faint print was followed by an equally sized flip-flop gouge. Then three more smudges and another gouge. Apparently, fifteen minutes after the curb was done, some one's friend tested the balancing potential of our beam. Our edging only lasted fifteen minutes!

We immediately called the contractor to see if anything could be done. He suggested inviting SP's friend back for autographs and a picture for posterity. Actually, he will come back and patch it up.

I can't really blame SP's friend though. Any curb is a magnet with a powerful pull on kindergartners to balance on. When SP and I went to the zoo last week, walking on the curb was more fun for SP and her friend than watching animals sleep.

So by the end of this weekend we should have a solid decorative curb around our house for all of the neighbor kids to enjoy and admire. And if they are lucky, we will let them visit the flip-flop memorial for a small fee.

Still paw print free.

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.