Friday, November 28, 2008

Dancing Queen II

Last weekend, Sweet Pea had her dance recital. We were advised to arrive early because the seats fill up fast. Since this was our first dance recital, we didn't know what to expect. It was held in the high school gymnasium so I figured they must have a limited number of seats set up. When we arrived, we found out it was bleacher seating, and SP's dance troupe was number thirty one on the performance list. This was much bigger than we were expecting. The night included dance routines from preschool through high school. So instead of a 30 to 45 minute program, we sat for 2 and 1/2 hours. It wasn't too bad though, there are some very good dance teams in our area.

Number One Son was a pretty good sport throughout. He was attentive and really enjoyed the high energy techno-music. His favorite team, other than Sweet Pea's, was a kick team that wore black t-shirts with the word 'Police' on them. One of their songs was the 'Bad Boys' theme song from the TV show Cops.

When it was SP's turn to dance, she came out all smiles. She has good rhythm and plenty of showmanship. And she was cute as kitten too. The only bad thing was that, as a new student, she was positioned in the back of the dance formation. Therefore, I couldn't get a good action picture of her. That was probably alright because I was able to give up on the camera and was able to enjoy her routine more.

When she was done, she was still all smiles. We gave her a small bouquet of carnations and a love card which made her even happier. She sat on my lap for the remaining dances and enjoyed reading her card.

On the way home, in the back of the van, I heard her tell her brother, "This is the bestest day of my whole life." "I got to see Kung Fu Panda (which we did in the morning) and I had my dance recital."

It was one of my bestest days too, SP.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions

Have a Happy Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy Boating, Cranberries, Yams, Pumpkin Pie, Whipped Cream, Hot Buns, Green Bean Casserole, Pilgrim, Big Buckle Hat, Horn-o-Plenty, Fold Out Paper Turkey Centerpiece, Grandma's Dishes, Wine Sipping, Overeating, Belt Loosening, On The Floor Napping, Football Watching, Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys, Domino Playing, Uno Cheating, Relative Visiting, Cold Turkey Sandwich Eating, Leftovers for a Week, and (for Lady Di) 5-K Racing, Thanksgiving Day.
We certainly do have an awful lot to be thankful for. God Bless.

Friday, November 21, 2008

All in the Family

Of the many posts I've written over the past year or so, I haven't dedicated one yet to our first baby. Before you get the wrong idea, we don't keep her locked away in a tower or have her clean the 'cinders' from our fireplace. She is our dog, Liberty. What more deserving subject for my 200th post?

We got Liberty in 1995, three years before Number One Son was born. So she is really our first child. And when she was a puppy, we treated her like a baby. We addressed each other as Mommy and Daddy when talking to her. We had some cute sweaters for her to wear in the winter. We even ordered a small vanilla cone at the Dairy Queen drive thru for her. Yup, we were pathetic.

But once the first human baby came along, Liberty found that the time for walks, playtime and attention took a nosedive. However, her table scraps volume increased greatly underneath the highchair.

But back to Liberty. She is a Yorkie-poo, (Yorkshire terrier/poodle mix) When we got her she was a small black fur ball that fit in my palm. The seller and everyone we talked to said she would not get much bigger. She ended up growing the same size as a poodle. But back in her cute days we would take her for walks on a little leash and she would have to stop every three feet or so to put something from the ground in her mouth. She once found a cigarette butt on the street and held it in her mouth just like she knew what to do with it. After a block or so we had to scold her for being too young to smoke.

She was a pretty smart puppy too. We of course spoiled her with many toys in her toy basket. We would ask her to get a toy from her basket and she could retrieve each toy by name. She was pretty quick at learning to sit, roll over and speak too. She can catch a piece of popcorn thrown from any angle. Even when she is sleeping, she is always ready for popcorn. She will often nap on the couch and snore loud enough to wake the dead. But just whispering the word 'popcorn' will perk up her head from the deepest of dreams.

Now that she has reached geriatric age (13 years) we have to treat her differently. She can still catch popcorn but now we have buy the high fiber brand. Sometimes we need to lift her up to our bed at night. And with Sweet Pea's improvements, we now have to lift Liberty up to her own bed too.I'm not sure what SP was thinking when she stacked all these pillows under Liberty's bed. Perhaps it is fun to have a bed that can topple at any moment.

There are a few things Liberty has taught us too. Her food and water bowls are in the laundry room and she has a clever way to let us know when refills are needed. She will stand just outside the laundry room door in our mudroom and paw at the springed doorstop on the wall sending out a 'boing-ing' sound just like she's ringing her own dinner bell. So then I'll get up and fill her food dish. When she 'rings' again, I'll usually have to check to see if her water is cool enough. She likes ice cubes in her bowl. There are times when she boings a third time. When this happens, we have to turn on the laundry room light for her. Once the lights are on, she will go in and eat. Then there are times when she just wants to frustrate me by signalling a refill of her food, and then turning and walking away as soon as she sees me fill the bowl.

So that's the story of our 'first'. She has been a happy part of our family for 13 years. She still likes to chase tennis balls and chew bones. The kids are now gentle enough to her that she will let them pet her. She will always be the big sister and hopefully she will continue to help us to keep the young ones in line.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Does She Speak For The Trees?

Today was a lazy Saturday. The weather was cold with flurries. We had gotten our chores done in the morning, so we decided it would be a good day to watch a movie. We had rented a DVD of Dr Suess classics. The disc included The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and the Sneetches among others. Even though it was a little young for Number One Son, we enjoyed comparing the cartoon to the books we read when he was younger.

When the story of the Lorax started playing, I thought it would be a good lesson in conservation, pollution and the environment. The Lorax tells the story of the Onceler who cuts down all of the Truffula trees to make Thneeds. He ends up running out of trees and all of the animals leave the area.

When the story ended, I asked Sweet Pea what she thought of it.

She said, "I know what I want to do. I want to grow a Truffula tree."

"That's a good idea.", I said.

"So I can cut it down to take just a little of the Truffula fur to make a pillow case.", she stated.

I answered, "That's just what the Onceler did. What about all the Barbaloots that had to leave their homes?"

"I would only take a little fur.", she answered. "And I would grow a lot of trees but only cut one down."

I'm glad the message sunk in, even if just a little.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Picture This

Here's what you get when a six year old gets hold of your digital camera.

You get lots of pictures of her favorite puppy, named Puppy. Puppy was then photographed at all of the 'hot spots' around the house. She's seen here on the hearth.

This is how her puppy gets around. In her 'Paris Hilton' carry bag.

She even got a closeup while helping Number One Son with his homework.

Here's another interesting location shot. It must be at the health spa. Celebrities are always concerned with their weight.

At last, a picture of her real favorite puppy, Liberty. Liberty is just as hungry for attention and loves the camera. I don't know why dogs always have flash eyes, though.

I see a real career for Sweet Pea in photography. She has a good eye for composition, color and centers her subject pretty well. She must really enjoy it too, because Lady Di said she could hear SP giggling out loud after each shot she took. So as long as someone needs puppy pictures, she will be happy to supply them.

Self portrait of the artist.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday Pumpkin Roundup

In a continuation of a Halloween tradition, here for your consideration are our pumpkins for this year. Once again our kindly neighbor hosted his annual pumpkin carving party. And once again, he donated his extra pumpkins to our Halloween display. This year ten pumpkins were the victims of a vicious holiday display. Investigators found the murder weapons in the garage.

The crime scene was secured and chalk outlines were drawn.

The grisly details were documented in several photos taken by officials.

Jack Skellington 'the Pumpkin King' and Cinderella were patterns chosen by myself and Sweet Pea. Thank you to Creative Type Dad for supplying the patterns.
I also have Creative Type Dad to thank for this Chewbacca pattern chosen by Number One Son. And by thank, I mean, I'll never do Chewbacca again because my hand is cramped into a permanent claw.
Here are two of Sweet Pea's original designs. Frankenstein is on the right and a five eyed alien on the left. She seems to want to put whiskers on at least one pumpkin every year.
Lady Di wanted to send a message to all of our trick or treaters on Halloween.

Lastly, I liked this little pumpkin just because he had a long curved stem pointing straight over his face like an elf hat.

We had a few other pumpkins that didn't make it into the camera, but believe me they were spectacular. Last year I let the kids each carve a pumpkin. This year they were so tired from poking holes around their patterns that their hands had no strength to hold the pumpkin saw.

Maybe, next year Creative Type Dad will come out with a nice triangle eye, nose and smile pattern.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trip or Treat

I hope everyone has recovered from their sugar induced comas by now. I was glad for that extra hour on Saturday night to help get my blood sugars down. This year we observed all of our Halloween traditions. The kids dressed up and went begging for candy. I hid behind our front door and jumped out to scare kids away from my candy basket. I didn't really scare any kids, but I still had fun.
Here's a picture of Indiana Jones and Foxy Lady.This year our Halloween weather was unseasonably warm. And it was just a coincidence that it was Lady Di's turn to take the kids around the neighborhood. That's what she informed me anyway. I could swear that I have taken the kids out on the last four bone chilling, thirty degree, howling gale Halloweens.

Oh well, it was fun to stay home once just to hand out candy. This year I had an epiphany and took the screen out of our storm door. Every other year, the ghosts and goblins would ring the doorbell and wait directly in front of our out-opening storm door, causing us to warn the mob to back up or they would be pushed off of the porch like a bug being smeared by a wiper blade on the windshield. With the screen out, I was able to hand out the candy without moving a door. Earlier, with the screen out, I was stepping through the storm door to put the finishing touches on the decorations. When I asked Number One Son to help me, he opened the storm door to come outside. I told him he didn't have to open the door. So then next time he opened the door halfway, hesitated, backed up and then stepped through the opening. I think it made him a little uncomfortable to do something so unnatural.
Before the kids went out in their trick or treating group, they visited our bachelor neighbor to show him their costumes. He apparently was not planning on staying home to give out candy, but he found a couple candy bars and wrapped a dollar bill around each one for our kids which was very nice of him. But before he could leave home, Sweet Pea ran to her group of friends and loudly announced, "Hey guys! Paul is giving out dollar bills!" Like moths to the flame, about ten kids all raced as a group to Paul's house and started pounding on his door. I think he turned out the lights and ran for his basement.

The kids eventually left to go seek their candy fortune with Lady Di leading the way. I can't tell you much of how things went except to say that Lady Di told me that this would be her last year to take them out. I asked why. The weather was perfect and a lot of houses were giving candy. She said, with so many people out, she only had time to take the kids to fifteen houses in two hours. She had to stop and visit with just about everyone on the street that night.

Back at home, I was trying to keep the kids moving through our candy line. We have two steps on our porch and at least a half dozen kids missed the second step because of their mask. Then the poor young ones had to stop and return their spilled candy to their bucket before the next wave of kids trampled them. The really young ones would also stop to talk to our pumpkins and other decorations. They didn't care if they got candy or not, but were hypnotised by a glowing plastic ghost. I'm glad someone was appreciating my work.

The end of the night brought out the older trick or treaters and only a couple of them arrived without costumes. With those kids I tried the old trick of placing their candy deep in their bags and coming out with three or four candy bars in my hand. Both kids gave me a wry smirk and a 'heh'. I guess I'm not as hilarious as I thought.

One thing that disappointed me was I had no 'box costume' kids come to the door. No kids in a homemade robot, TV set, or bucket of chicken costume. The combination of an unwieldy costume, dim light and a tricky porch step was something I was looking forward to.
Even though I enjoyed giving out candy, I think I prefer walking around the neighborhood with the kids. Even if it is cold and miserable some years, I just like being able to relive my own trick or treating years with them. I don't want to miss any chances to make Halloween memories with them. They will only be doing this a few more years before they start going to Halloween dances. Then Lady Di and I will be at the top of the chaperone list, much to the disappointment of our kids I'm sure.

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.