Thursday, December 22, 2011

Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

So my choices today were to either write this blog or cry myself to sleep. And you are now reading my choice. It is now 3 days before Christmas and you would expect everyone to be excited about the coming Holiday and waiting in joyous anticipation to the promises of presents and Christmas meals and treats and gathering with your families to share this magical holiday season together, right? Well, not so much. Let me tell you about my day.

It begins at 5:30 with Nate crying in his room. When Nate wakes up, no one will get him to go back to sleep. So the alternative is to sleep on his floor while he babbles to himself and tries not to wake up the other 2. He finally starts talking loud enough at 7 that we exit the room to find out everyone else has been up already. Nate then joins Drew in a beautiful duet of whining and crying for food while breakfast cooks (and by "cooks" I mean microwavable sausage). So this is the first sign of a "good day." I leave for work, thankfully, and begin my day with 2 phone calls from my wife before I even arrive to work. They are not stress calls...yet. But the third call at 9:15 is. She and the kids have all officially lost it. In the hour that I have been gone, Drew hit Nate across the face with a foam nunchuk, Drew gets disciplined, Drew fights against discipline, Nate cries and screams at Lindsey, Lindsey cries and screams at me, and at the end of her irrational rant I get blamed for not doing the dishes or buying her a COSI/zoo membership, and get hung up on. I call back and tell her I will be home early. Not by choice but by necessity. After this phone call she takes the kids to the grocery store. When she is there, Zachary and Drew are put in the Eagle's nest. Nate stays with Lindsey and whines 85% of the time. Zachary and Drew get in a fight and the Giant Eagle worker breaks them up only to get back-talked to by Zachary. Lindsey gets paged to come pick up her unruly children. Once Drew is released, he runs to the candy aisle and steals 3 gummy sharks. Lindsey sweeps his mouth with her finger to clear it of the stolen merchandise and informs the Giant Eagle worker of the theft while Drew throws a fit on the floor screaming for everyone to turn and look. Then Drew gets up and runs out of the store. Lindsey leaves the other two to chase down the sprinting 3 year old, drags him back into the store, kicking and screaming, to join Nate who has started his own screaming chorus of the popular toddler anthem, "I Want, I Want, Gimme, Gimme, Why, AAAAAAAHHHHHH." She checks out and takes them to the car. Zachary begins to cry because not only did he not get a free cookie but he is not allowed to watch TV as a consequence for his behavior toward that adult worker. So she has achieved the "Crying Tifecta." All 3 losing their minds. It was at this point I had conveniently called her to ask for a recipe for a co-worker. I have perfect timing.

I came home and luckily avoided the trio of banshees because they were all down for their afternoon naps. Lindsey was able to join her mom to get her nails done as a stress reliever from this morning's chaos. I eat lunch and lay down on the couch to take a short power nap. I have 40 minutes until Zachary comes out of his room and no joke, 5 minutes after I close my eyes, Drew crys out. I run up, give him the Ipod touch to play a game, and I go back to lie down, 35 minutes left. At 5 more minutes, Zachary comes out and says he is so hungry he cant stand it. I tell him to stand it and get back in his room. 30 minutes left. I fall asleep. At 25 minutes left, Drew calls out again cause he is bored. I get him out and put him in Zachary's room. 25 minutes left. I fall asleep. Zachary opens his door. I tell him to shut it and if he opens again, I am adding time to his quiet time or to him, sentence. 15 minutes left. The door opens again. Now Drew is checking on the puppy. I tell him to wait. 10 minutes left. At 5 minutes and every minute after I hear loudly from their room, "5 more minutes. 4 more minutes. 3 more minutes..." So much for the power nap.

Lindsey comes home from the nail appointment and everyone is up and crazy. I tell her we are going to the store. She says "I hope not Target or Toys R Us 3 days before Christmas." And I say, "yes, because you know why? Because it is not here!" We run some errands and go to a nice dinner at Olive Garden. No mishaps or horseplay like the Mexican restaurant. The kids are great but Lindsey is not feeling too well.

We go to CVS to pick some medicine and while there Lindsey runs to the Minute Clinic to get checked out and I wait in the car with the boys. I leave the TV running in the car and the lights on. Drew also likes to have his overhead light on even though I've told him to turn it off while I am driving and while parked cause it could drain the battery. Lindsey is taking longer than expected at the Minute Clinic so I tell her we will still wait cause the boys are content with the TV in the van. But I notice the check engine light and oil light start coming on. Then the lights flicker. So I try to turn the car on and like "Up on the Housetop," click, click, click. But instead of "down the chimney with old St. Nick," the car wont start. To which Zachary immediately yells, "DREW!!! YOU BROKE THE CAR!!!" Now usually he is to blame for almost everything, but not this time. The alternator broke. So here we sit in the parking lot, stranded, 3 days before Christmas, with no TV. Well, it comes on for 10 seconds then shuts off, giving Nate a 1 second delay to begin screaming about it. And to top it all off, Zachary gets the farts. Now our windows have all steamed up as Zachary hot boxes the van while we wait for Lindsey's parents to show for a ride back home. The van will now need to be towed and get a new alternator 2 days before Christmas. When we load the kids in the back of my mother-in-law's small sedan in the rain, Zachary gets caught on Nate's left leg which we think he broke on Saturday. (the x-ray was negative, but he still wont weight bear and has been crawling around everywhere.) So as Nate cries so hard he cant make a sound, Lindsey picks him up to cradle him. By the way, she also just found out she has a double ear infection. Sing with me now, "Its the most wonderful time of the year!"

I am not writing this blog for sympathy but for acknowledgement of "Really??!!" I mean, 3 days before Christmas? I can guarantee you this was not the kind of White Christmas Bing Crosby was dreaming of. More like a broken leg, double ear infection, broken alternator, Drew screaming, Zachary blaming, Nate Crying, Dutch Oven Christmas.

Looking forward to spending Christmas Eve with an x-ray technician and a car repair man,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Monday, November 21, 2011

Why I am becoming more of a cat person.

We have a puppy named Joey. Please click here to meet him. He has been wonderful. So cuddly and so loyal. He never wants to leave your side and must always be touching you wherever you go. But he is still a puppy. This is what I have been through in the last 24 hours.

Last night, I was changing Nate's horrendous, poopy diaper. I can't even tell you how bad it smelled. Its the kind of smell that the neighbors call the police to report a possible dead body in our house. All air traffic was diverted 100 miles from our house making it a no-fly zone. It killed more foliage than winter's first frost. Oscar the Grouch was offended by the stench. It was bad. It was the kind of diaper that you debate to either wipe him a 100 times with wipes, toss him directly in the bath or close up the diaper, call mom and pretend you didn't even know he pooped while you busy yourself with the other kids, leaving her to deal with it. (Some call that passing the buck, I call it smart parenting.) I decided to wipe and I used half a package of wipes to clean him up. Once finished he ran away naked and when that happens he has a tendency to pee whenever he feels a cool breeze, no matter where he is standing at the time. So I jump up, chase after him and get him into the tub, forgetting that I left the nasty diaper on the floor. Well after the short bath, I round the corner to get their clothes when I notice the diaper is not where I left it. I panic cause I already know what happened. And sure enough on the steps, I find my sweet puppy face-deep, enjoying a delicious poop snack. I yell at him, to which he looks up at me and his beard has changed from bright white to dark brown and wet. I luckily grab him before he can escape and throw him into his cage to deal with him later. After the kids go down, my wife and I give him a full body bath focusing on his poop-stache until he is clean.

We head downstairs and settle in to looking up Christmas ideas when I casually ask if Joey has gone out recently. Upon which I hear my wife gasp and say "NO!" I look up and he is standing on our family room chair and peeing down the front of it! She throws him off, grabs the cushion and heads for the sink while I throw him outside and get paper towels. At this point in the night, if I had previously been exposed to gamma radiation, I would be turning green and ripping off my shirt as I turned into the Hulk because of my anger. Parenting Fact #20: The day is not complete unless you have used Resolve at least once. Later, when my anger had subsided, I realized all he wanted to do was to show us how he could make a beautiful golden waterfall down the front of our furniture. How could I fault him for that?

The next morning, I am awoken to the sound of puppy dry heaves, puppy puking and bath water running, in that order. Apparently my wife who was awake saw that Joey started dry heaving, so in the dark she grabbed him and threw him into our bath tub where he did vomit. Well she proceeded to turn the water on to rinse it down not realizing in the dark that it was actually large chunks of hair and vomit, which in turn dissipated over the entire tub and clogged the drain! We believe this vomit episode came from him licking our other dog, who is a golden retriever with long hair, and gave him a hairball.

And then tonight, I let him outside to go potty. He has a leash attached to a sky hook in our backyard so he wont run away and we don't have to put up a fence, invisible or visible. It works great except he likes to run around the tree its attached to causing him to get tangled around the tree causing me to have to go out and unwind him from around the tree. He has not done this in awhile leading me to believe he grew out of it but I guess not. I go out to unravel him as he runs back around the tree reversing everything I am trying to do. When he finally gets free, he runs to the house, I chase after him and I step in dog my bare feet. And as I am washing the dog poop from in between my toes in the puke tub I realize, I am becoming a cat person.

Off to bathe myself in Clorox...again,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Portrait of a Stay-At-Home Mom's Uniform

Disclaimer: I have the highest respect for stay-at-home moms or SAHMs (as I will refer to them now.) Besides 'Deadliest Catch' crab fisherman and Bachelor contestant screener, they have one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Their job is 24/7 except for the occasional 'girls night out' and even then, they get 4-5 calls from their inept husbands asking where to find the diapers or the third child. So if you are a SAHM please don't take offense to this blog but know that I understand the high demands of this job keep you from the luxuries of life like showering and brushing your teeth everyday. And I also want to give a shout out to my wife who is able to put herself out there. She is an amazing wife and mother and I love her dearly especially for allowing this picture and blog.

1. Disheveled Hair - The standard hair style of the stay-at-home mom is the loose, greasy pony tail with wispies in the front and half of it falling out. The loose ponytail is the best hair style to put up quick because one kid is punching the other while the third is walking around with the toilet plunger. Its also the best style used to hide the roots, split-ends and inevitable grey hair that you know is coming too soon.

2. Glasses - Because you ain't got no time for contacts. What is easier: moving your glasses from the top of your head to your eyes or searching for an hour through a laundry basket of random toys for a contact because your 3 year old hit you in the face with a pillow knocking it out.

3. The Obligatory Thumbs Up - Because when all is going wrong, and it will go wrong, you must still put on the happy face and thumbs up to show that all is still OK. Because if you lose it, the children will lose it more. And you must not show weakness. They can smell weakness and devour it.

4. The Baggy, Black Sweatshirt - One of the 3 standards of every SAHM's uniform. It must be baggy because no mom wants to wear something tight or uncomfortable. When the child grabs onto the baggy sweatshirt, you need the ability to slip it off and run away before they even know you are gone. And it must be black to hide all the stains you will acquire during the day. (not 'might' acquire but 'will' acquire.) If you wore a white sweatshirt you would look like a messy painter or bad chef, more than a mom. (if you look close enough at the picture, you will see the stains.)

5. The Baggy, Black Stretch Pants - The 2nd standard of the SAHM uniform. Baggy and black for all of the same reasons for the sweatshirt. Another reason is that you can wear them for multiple days in a row before smell or guilt causes you to wash them. They are the most versatile item in a SAHM's wardrobe because you can sleep in them, wake up, keep them on through church, wear them to the gym, take a shower and put them back on to lounge in them at home, go out with the girls at night and then go back to bed with them on, ready to go for the next day. My wife informed me that she has officially lost count of when these were last washed.

6. Socks - unknown of when last changed but surprisingly matching. The typical sock pair of the SAHM needs to be one long, white tube sock and one yellow anklet with holes in the toes.

7. Dog at the feet - If it is not a child, there is always a dog at your feet. They especially like to be around your feet in the kitchen when you are carrying a heavy pot of boiling water or a giant serving platter full of 'time-consuming' appetizers for that dinner party your husband signed you up for bringing appetizers but forgot to mention until that day. And yet the dog is never around when you are 15 minutes late to said dinner party and you need to let them out before you go.

8. Attached child at the hip (not shown) - The 3rd standard of every SAHM's uniform. Every mom has at least one child touching them at all times. Either carrying the baby around cause its easier to carry than to repeatedly pull them off the kitchen table or the toddlers who want something to eat for breakfast, who could easily get cereal for themselves but once they start looking, they grab hot dogs or chips and you think, "Well, hot dogs are protein and from a pig just like bacon and chips were once potatoes and they make hash browns out of potatoes so hot dogs and chips sounds like a great breakfast and I want to avoid the fight and whining that would ensue once I take it away and its only 8:00 and I have been up for 3 hours already because the 3 year old needed help in the bathroom at 5 in the morning and refused to go back to sleep and was too loud so he woke up the other 2 kids, so now my day begins at 5:00 a.m. and my husband isn't even awake yet who starts work at 9:00 so now I will be pulling a double shift today when he gets home from work at 6 and yet I will still have to do the bedtime routine because 'He will be tired from a long day at work' and then after all the kids are down and it is finally 'my time'..... he wants sex. So hot dogs and chips for breakfast are just fine by me."

So if you are out in public and you see a SAHM, please do not judge.  You now know the reason for the black sweat suit combo, frizzy hair, and screaming child.  Tell her "thank you for all you do."  They are the most under-appreciated employee out there.  And she probably wouldn't mind the adult interaction either.  A conversation not about Dora, poop, hunger pains, sybling unfairness, or general whining would be a welcome treat to any SAHM.

Thank you stay-at-home moms. Wear what ever you want,
The Joyful and Tired Dad.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Allen Family Quiz: Wedding Edition

Please respond to the questions who you think performed the actions at Saturday's wedding using the following answer key:
A: Zachary
B: Drew
C: Nate
D: All of the above
E: None of the above

1): Didn't realize it was a wedding until 15 minutes into the ceremony because he was to busy trying to sit by his cousins to look up

2): During the wedding, asked, "How old is Jesus?" And when he received the answer of "around 2000 years old", then responded, "That's a lot of Christmases!"

3): During the quiet wedding processional, when finally completing the children's maze on the bulletin shouted, "Booyah!"

4): Did not last 5 minutes into the ceremony until had to be taken into the parlor.

5): Lasted the whole ceremony until the last 10 minutes when the bride and groom were releasing rows, saw his grandpa 2 rows up and decided to crawl under the pews but was restrained, hanging by his one arm by his embarrassed father causing him to scream in frustration.

6): Fell asleep on the way to the reception.

7): Walked around during cocktail hour stealing meatballs off other people's plates and drinking other people's coke when they weren't looking.

8): Sat quietly at the table waiting patiently as the wedding party came in, had an engaging conversation with the other people at our table, impressing them with their manners and good behavior, and making their parents so proud of their little angels.

9): Climbed a chair to climb onto a table to stand on said table to grab a handful of mints and shove them in their mouth before mom could reach him.

10): Repeatedly refilled their own glass with self-serve Sprite equaling around 5 glasses before stopped by his all-too trusting father with a self serve Sprite station.

11): Screamed in his highchair so all in a 1000 foot radius could hear until let down to then run around screaming for all to see and hear in a 1000 foot radius.

12): When dinner came, decided to forgo the silverware and use both hands to shovel in the buttered noodles, again impressing the fellow table guests.

13): At dinner, realized that slapping your brothers is funny.

14): When dancing began, never left the dance floor.

15:) Favorite dance move was sliding across the dance floor like sliding into home plate.

16:) Favorite dance move was the crotch punch and the butt hole poke.

17): When dancing began, used the distraction to get into tree lights, DJ's disco lights, climb under tables, steal candy off other people's tables, punch his Uncle in the butt, and sometimes dance.

18): Climbed under a table with his cousin almost knocking over an entire tray full of plates, missing it by 2 inches, but still giving his dad a heart attack.

19): When the candy table was revealed, did not touch a single piece of candy because candy is bad for you and only chose to eat healthy food like okra and bran.

20): As the night continued on into the night and the kids started getting tired, their fatigue showed in each boy by:
1): revving up and becoming more hyper
2): started screaming more
3): becoming more romantic

21): Taken to the ladies room and when told not to touch the feminine hygiene trash can with his hands, rubbed his head on it.

22): Stayed up 4 hours past their bed time and still woke up at 7 in the morning.

Answer key:
1 - A
2 - A
3 - B
4 - C
5 - B
6 - C
7 - B
8 - E
9 - B
10 - B
11 - C
12 - B
13 - C
14 - D
15 - A
16 - B or C
17 - B
18 - B
19 - E
20 - 1: B 2: C 3: A (he kept hugging and laying on his cousin)
21 - B
22 - D

Thank you for taking the Allen Family Quiz: Wedding Edition. If you scored above 90%, you get an A and you get to take them to the next wedding. Congratulations!

The Joyful and Tired Dad

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Like Hansel and Gretel without the Cannibalism

Do you have a relative, most likely a grandma, whose house you love to go visit because there are tons and tons of food and candy and sweets readily available to gorge yourself on? Well that is my parent's house. If you were to look into my mom's pantry at any given moment you would find at least: 8 boxes of different cereal, 5 types of chocolate candy bars, 7 bags of chips, and 3-4 store bought cookie packages. And in the freezer/fridge: 10 varieties of pop, refridgerated candy bars, frozen pizza, 5 bags of frozen homemade cookies, ice cream, chocolate and caramel fudge sauce, and some kind of homemade cake or pie. But these are not generic food products like Yammy Cola or Bob's funtime cookies. We are talking Doritos, Oreos, Mountain Dew, Fritos, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Heath bars, M&Ms, etc. My mom is very brand loyal. Except when it comes to ice cream. You would think she would have Ben and Jerrys or Homemade or even Breyers. But its always Kroger Brand 'Private Selection' ice cream. My mom is the true modern day Old Woman from the Hansel and Gretel story without the need to eat children and there were too many code violations when using gingerbread rather than drywall. But I digress.

You know this if you have a mom or grandma with this kind of spread in their house, but everytime we go over there, after saying hello, everyone goes into the kitchen and opens the pantry or fridge. And no one is immune to it. I have seen everyone of my syblings and their spouses and their children do it when coming to my parent's house. But the thing is, you go even if you are not hungry. We went over there today and as soon as we walked in the house, my wife and I both unaware went to the pantry and started pulling stuff out to eat. It was 10:30 and I ate breakfast at 9:30. I wasn't hungry but it doesn't matter. Its the "Pull of the Pantry." Like some kind of unnatural tractor beam that sucks you in and makes you gorge yourself on food you dont even want but you eat because its there. I walked in today (remember 1 hour after breakfast) and I was eating Doritos, chocolate wafer cookies, Mountain Dew, and homemade Rolo cookies. I stopped and asked myself 'why am I eating when I am not hungry?' to which my stomach replied, "well you just had a dorito chip so lets finish with something sweet and we will be finished." So I ate a cookie. But the Dortio bag was still out so I had another chip. Then again my stomach reminded me I needed to finish with something sweet, so another cookie later I was looking for more doritos to keep up this pattern. You would think my mind would be screaming at me to stop or suffer the repercussions but while my mouth was busy chewing and my stomach was busying growing, my mind was thinking, "so lunch is in an hour, what are we going to have for desert?" Its a sickness. And after the binge-fest, while talking with my wife I come to a stunning realization: I grew up in this house, why am I not 500 pounds? Its not like we didnt have all this food growing up. I guess when its always around you can pace yourself but when you come to visit and its not what you are used to at your own house, it turns into an 'all you can eat' contest with yourself. And let me tell you, you always win...or lose, depending what the scale says after a visit.

But you can always justify indulging in the guilt-inducing smorgasborg of crap by one statement that has been used to justify binge eating by cruise goers for years: "Hey, its vacation!"

The Joyful and Tired Dad

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Trip that Never Was

We planned to go on a trip to Cincinnati to visit my brother's family and attend my nephew's birthday party. But something I have learned as a parent is that "we planned" and "we did" are two totally different statements and too many things can happen to prevent the "we planned" from becoming a "we did." Needless to say, I am now writing this blog and not enjoying birthday cake at this moment. So let me tell you how "the trip that never was" happened.

I guess it all started with an apple.

I thankfully went to work this Saturday morning. A lot of you may be saying, "why were you thankful to work, its a Saturday?" But then there are the parents out there saying, "you lucky dog, you got away from the children. How can I work on Saturday? Is McDonalds looking for weekend shifts?" While at work, I get the dreaded '3 calls in a row.' The '3 calls in a row' means 1 of 3 things: blood, puke, or nervous breakdown ('maternal' nervous breakdown.) I get a chance to return the calls and my wife tells me a story that Nate, the 22 month old, was walking around eating an apple. Now we have a hole in our upstairs wall in the shape of my wife's size 6 shoe which is a result from a previous '3 calls in a row' moment. But it was not for the reason of blood or puke. Draw your own conclusions; it was just one of those days. Anyway, the hole has been there for 2 years and it is out of the way so I have not gotten around to fixing it because its going to take more than a little putty on the wall. So Lindsey was upstairs and hears Nate saying "Apple? Apple?" She turns around and Nate is standing with his arm down the hole asking for her to get his apple he has now dropped down the hole and could have probably fallen 1 whole story to within our staircase in the wall. Needless to say, our house will soon have the rich aroma of fresh apples like an aromatic Glade Plug-in which will eventually then turn into the putrid smell of rotting apple and mold exuding from behind our walls.

On the way home from work, I stop and pick up my car from the repair shop. It had a rattling sound in the engine which turned out to be a loose alternator bolt which was fixed (important for later.) The plan was to leave for Cincinnati as soon as I got home so the 2 younger boys could take their naps in the car. And since my car was fixed, we thought we would save some money on gas and load the 3 car seats into my Honda Civic instead of the minivan to take the 2 hour car trip. I barely fit the seats all into the backseat, but I did it. We are looking to save money anywhere we can including on food. So for lunch, Lindsey had made perogies for me and the kids but forgot I was picking up my car. An hour later when I got home, the perogies had turned into a rubber-coated pasta filled with a cold gelatinous mass that used to be spinach and feta cheese. I literally had to use a steak knife to cut into them cause a fork couldn't do it. Of course the kids hated them so they had tortilla wraps with turkey and Drew had a peanut butter tortilla roll-up. I ask for some tortillas to make a quesadilla but she used the last one on the kids. Well they didn't finish their roll-ups, and because there was no other food in the house, I took their half-eaten roll-ups, ate the half-eaten slices of turkey, and put cheese on the half-eaten tortilla shells. And as I am scraping the peanut butter off of Drew's, I think to myself, "We are by no means poor. Why am I recycling tortilla shells?" So my lunch is made up of rubber perogies and half-eaten, recycled, peanut butter tasting quesadillas. On the island in our kitchen is the last slice of turkey I am thinking for one of our kids since they were still hungry. But while I am thinking this, Lindsey comes over, picks it up and feeds it to the dog! While choking down perogies I yell, "Why is the dog eating better than I am?" To which my wife stands there and pees herself laughing at me. And at the same time, Drew comes up to inform me Joey, our puppy, just pooped behind the couch. Then Zachary tells us he is hungry, so Lindsey decides it would be a good idea to get McDonalds for the kids on the way out of town, to which I dump the remaining rubber lunch in the garbage.

So we all load up the civic, 3 kids in the back and luggage in the trunk, and leave for Cincinnati. We stop at McDonalds and my wife gets out to retrieve her purse from the trunk. I know the trunk latch tends to not always connect so it takes some slamming of the trunk to close, which she tries but it doesn't close. I give the kids the 20 piece mcnugget bag and I go out to close the trunk. But it wont close. I started slamming and slamming and slamming. But it will not latch. So I try more slamming, while Drew and Nate start banging on the windows to imitate the slamming trunk. Now I am just slamming it in anger when a random stranger comes over to try his luck. But it still wont close. So we drive to a nearby fire station to get duct tape to build up the latch to try to get it to connect. But no luck there, so the fireman graciously duct tapes my trunk closed. And while this is happening, the 6 and 3 year old have an embarrassing screaming match with one another in front of the fireman because the boys are literally 6 inches apart from one another. I get back in the car frustrated at the whole situation and ready for my chicken mcnuggets to find out that my 3 wonderful children left me 3 nuggests out of the 20 piece. I am surprised though that my wife didn't save some, not for me but for the dog. So we begin to drive home to figure out this trunk thing when after some debate, we decide the duct tape will hold so lets just keep going. Well we make it another 5 miles down the road and guess what...the rattling that was fixed this morning is back again! And it is worse than before. When I call the auto repair shop, they state that they are closing in the next 10 minutes and tell me to bring it in on Monday. Knowing we wont make it down to Cincinnati safely, we turn around again and head home for the last time. At this point, we are 10 minutes from home and look in the backseat to see all 3 children asleep. I don't know about you but our children do not transition well from the car to their beds. A 15-20 minute car nap typically replaces the usual 2 hour bed nap leaving the children exhausted, frustrated and in bad moods for the rest of the day which causes the parents to be exhausted, frustrated and in worse moods. So at seeing our 3 little sleeping angels knowing that in 10 minutes when we get home they will be 3 screaming devils, I look to my wife and say, "I hate this day. I really do." We get home and carry the 2 younger ones up to their beds to which they immediately wake up and both start crying. Lindsey grabs Zachary to take to a friends house, but we all know she is escaping, and I am left with the 2 remaining screaming banshees. But by God's grace they both fall asleep again in 5 minutes with little parental interaction. Because if not, I might have still made the trip, alone.

And side note, tonight Joey, our puppy, decided to leave a giant pee spot at the top of our stairs literally 5 minutes after spending 30 minutes outside, which I walked through twice.

So that was our trip that never was. We spent 2 hours in the car, drove 15 miles and ended where we began...without cake.

So next time you "plan" a trip, think to yourself, "Can't they just come here?"

The Joyful and Tired Dad

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It seemed like a good idea at the time: Part 2 - a pictorial

"We need a new puppy. It would be the best thing for this family right now." "Our current dog needs a companion, someone to play with to keep her company." "There is no greater gift you can give a child than a puppy to grow up with." All of these statements were said to talk Daddy into 10-12 year commitment of chewed up clothes, furniture, and fingers, brown and yellow stained carpet, late night/early morning barking sessions, 3 in the morning potty breaks, $300 vet bills, and a fortune spent on Resolve carpet cleaner; otherwise known as ... a puppy. His name is Joey, a Shipoo but who I have lovingly nicknamed "Suck Puppy." Because he may be half shitzhu and half poodle but he is all 'Suck.' But instead of me describing it to you I thought I would present a pictorial for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Don't let the looks fool you (like it did us), this is what he is capable of:

I am just glad he's cute,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

And coming soon: It seemed like a good idea at the time: Part 3 - The Children

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

So There is a Downside to 6 Pounds of Candy?

So as you know from my last post, our nephews have been staying with us ages 7 and 9. We have been doing many fun things with them they normally don’t get to do and actually our kids don’t get to do either. Like tent camping in our backyard, vacation bible school in the mornings, watching Netflix movies, and having ice cream for dinner. That was a fun night. Side story: We went to Menchies, which is a self-serve soft serve ice cream joint where you can pick from 12 different flavors then choose from 50 different toppings to add. So my oldest nephew, Ben went ballistic in there. For one, it was ice cream for dinner so that is all we had. No protein, no veggies, no bread, only candy, ice cream and hot fudge sauce. So anyway, Ben loaded his bowl with about 20 ounces of ice cream and then topped it with Butterfinger, snickers, white chocolate chips, Oreos, and then my favorites, gummy worms and sour patch kids. So he covered the 4 basic food groups: ice cream, chocolate, cookies, and sour fruit flavored gummies. It was a balanced dinner. Lindsey tried a bite and almost threw up. But he loved it and ate the whole thing. So needless to say it was a week of sugar-filled outings. Which brings me to the final story of the week.

We decided to take them to see the new Smurfs movie at the theater. Since we all wanted to watch the movie instead of chasing around a 20 month old, we got a babysitter for Nate. So we took the 4 oldest boys, Ben (9), Will (7), Zachary (6) and Drew (3). Rather than taking out a second mortgage on our house to pay for movie theater candy we decided to take them to Giant Eagle to pick up some store bought candy. But not just any store bought candy….bulk candy. We had passed the bulk candy aisle earlier in the week and you must have thought we walked past an aisle containing the Ten Commandments, the Holy Grail, and Jesus himself stocking the aisles, the way my nephews looked at the bulk candy. They asked “Is that all candy? Are you serious?” So on movie day, we take them to this bulk candy aisle from heaven, give them each a bag and tell them they have 5 minutes to fill it up and then we are leaving. It was like a scene from Supermarket Sweep. They were grabbing handfuls of this and handfuls of that. Whatever they could grab and move on to the next thing. Everyone was grabbing whatever they could except for Zachary who would take 2 pieces here and 2 pieces there, not wanting to overdo it. As a parent I want to take pride in his humbleness and restraint, but as an American I want to say “Are you crazy? Grab as much as you can. Overindulge. It’s our way. It’s the American way.” We eventually have to tell him to put a little more in his bag because he literally had 4 pieces of candy. Because once that was gone then I would be buying movie theater candy and the Senate would need to vote to raise my debt limit too. So at the end of the shopping spree, we had 6 bags of candy and funny thing was Drew the smallest of them all, had the biggest bag. So I take the candy to be weighed and check out and grand total was 6 pounds of candy for 6 people, 4 of them under 10 years old. What could go wrong?

We go to the theater and put all the candy in Lindsey’s purse, only realizing after the fact that we should have brought a small carry-on bag with roller wheels on it to hold all the candy. So with a strained back and a determined mind to save money, Lindsey hauls the duffel bag, I mean purse into the theater. We get our seats and begin watching the movie with no incident. Everyone has their bag and everyone is happy. Well Lindsey brought the sugary Kool Aid juice drinks to the theater for our drinks. Why not water? I was wondering the same thing too but what could go wrong with a little more sugar? You see where this is going? Yeah but which one? Well half way through the movie, Lindsey who is sitting by Drew cuts him off from his bag. He had been gorging himself on whatever he could find in his bag of treats. But this also made him thirsty. So I come to find out later that in the course of 1 hour she had given him 3 juice drinks, on top of the massive amounts of candy. Well he starts burping. And burping. So Lindsey tells him, “Stop burping or you are going to throw….” Splash!!! That’s all I hear at the other end of the row. I look down and she is doing what every great parent does in a crisis: send them to the other parent. So she is holding up his blanket to his mouth while he is continuing to throw up black, juicy chocolaty, gummy puke and Ben who was on the other side of him is high tailing it out of there toward me, looking back and saying “Drew, quit throwing up on me!” He gets to me crying and I grab the back of his shirt (the only part not covered in puke) and usher him out to the lobby. Now please note, this was during the climax of the movie, Gargamel was about to get his, and no one I repeat, NO ONE made a move when a 3 year old was puking his guts out behind and beside them. They all sat there and watched the movie! Even the family of three that Drew and I had to squeeze past at the end of our aisle even blinked an eye away from the screen to notice the boys with the projectile vomit! I am sorry, but I could be watching Harry battle Voldemort for the final time and I will flip backward over my seat if I see a puking child coming at me in real life. Anyway, I take Drew to the bathroom and clean him up. The shirt is a lost cause so I pitch it in the garbage and I second guess doing the same to the pants but like a good parent I don’t think I put him in underwear today so I can’t bring a naked child out of the bathroom to our car. But I can bring a shirtless one. While I am cleaning up, the other boys show up at the bathroom to shower off from the puke bath. Lindsey gets a large garbage bag from the manager and apologizes for our irresponsibility and puts his blanket in the bag. During this whole cleanup process, Will turns to Lindsey and asks, “So are we going back in the movie to watch the end?” To which she replies, “No buddy. I hope we never see those people in there again.” The humor was lost on him but the truth of it made me laugh. To which I replied, “That was Smurfin’ gross. So you’re telling me there is a downside to 6 pounds of candy.” And she says, “Fa la la la la la…blaaaaauuuuu (vomit noise).”
So it was too bad we missed the end of the movie but in retrospect, it was those around us that lost the most. The first half of the movie was spent having their chairs kicked by 4 super hyper sugar infused children and the second half smelling the stomach contents of a super hyper sugar infused child. So we all learned a valuable lesson. Lindsey learned the sugar limits of a 3 year old and that water is always better than juice. Drew learned that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Zachary and Will learned that picking your feet up avoids changing your shoes and socks later. Ben learned that he the best way to avoid projectile vomit is to not stand in front of it. And I learned the next time I want to save money; we will go to the dollar theater.

Hoping you know your limits because we now know Drew’s,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Friday, July 29, 2011

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Have you ever had this great idea for an activity or outing with your kids that you think is the best idea and everyone would have so much fun, including you. But when the activity takes place, it turns out to be the most horrible idea, you immediately regret your decision, and you think to yourself, “what in the world was I thinking?!?” Well when this happens, ask yourself this: What was the situation when this seemingly wonderful idea came to me? I’ll give you a firsthand example of what I mean.

This week we have had our 2 nephews stay with us for a fun summer vacation for them and for our kids as well. They are 9 and 7 years old…boys. So in our house this week are 5 boys ages 9,7,6,3, and 1. Well there is one decision that might have seemed like a good idea at the time but I guarantee was made under controlled circumstances, by my wife. Another decision that was made this week was to set up our tent in the backward and have the older boys sleep outside for a night; also an idea from my wife. But this decision was also made in a controlled environment during a controlled time period. What I mean by this is that this decision was made after dinner, kids in bed, in the house while sitting on the couch in our living room. So in other words: our bellies were full, we were well rested, the kids were not annoying us or super hyper but asleep, and we were on comfortable furniture in the air conditioning. So pretty much the exact opposite of camping outside in a tent. Of course, tent camping with the children sounds like a great idea at the time. My suggestion is this: Before making a decision like tent camping, put yourself as close as you can in that situation and then consider if it is a good idea. Like for tent camping, lock yourself in a sauna, line the floor with rocks, wrap yourself in a sleeping bag, give 3 boys under ten 2 pounds of sugar each, put them on top of you and then turn out the lights. Now make the decision if tent camping is a good idea.

Here is the story:
We plan to set up the tent and camp outside on Wednesday night, so in the afternoon we all go outside to set up the tent.

The first inclination that this might not be the best idea is that while we set up the tent, the temperature reaches 95 degrees outside. And quick correction, I said we, I meant me. Because halfway through putting the poles into place, the boys thought it was too hot so they went inside.

Also, I haven’t mowed the grass in 2 weeks due to the heat of the day and the day before, the boys played outside in the water tearing up the grass with the slip and slide and soaking the grass making it un-mowable. After the tent is set up, our plan is to rent a movie and watch it in the tent. But because it was so hot outside, we decide to watch it inside in the air conditioning. So we watch Rango and the kids love it.

At this point it is 8:00 and time for bed for the 2 younger boys. It was at this point when my wife thinks, “Let’s keep this party going and have the older boys sleep outside tonight. And not only that, lets rent another movie for them to watch. And not only that, you get to watch the movie and sleep outside with them too since I have to stay in the house with the little kids.” So she goes out to rent movie #2 and I gather all the sleeping bags to take outside.

I take our computer outside to watch the movie in the tent. So the 3 boys and I load into the tent and turn the movie on. At this point it is 9:15. I am thinking “ok, I know it’s late but that means we could be asleep by the end of the movie at 11:15.” But at 9:45 I call Lindsey from the tent to inform her that we have been watching previews for the last half an hour! You may be asking, “Why didn’t you skip them?” Fact is I tried and the computer messed up and we had to start them over again, so therefore we had to watch them through, all 30 minutes of them. So now, it will be midnight when the movie is over and we can go to sleep. While the movie plays, I go inside to get drinks and stay hydrated because the tent is reaching 3 digit temperatures. And not only that but when it became too dark to see outside, our dog decided to poop in the yard somewhere, and it was now wafting into the tent and the poop stench began to mix with the sweaty boy smell. When inside, I inform my wife of the “fun” we are having to which she begins to laugh and pee her pants at my misery. So what drinks did I get? Why sugar-loaded juice drinks of course. Why not at 10:30 at night? I thought it would go well with the cookies and popcorn they had during their first movie.

The movie ended around 11:30 (thanks Yogi Bear for being short) and the boys were now to giddy and sugar high to sleep. So let the arm fart contest commence! I learned some valuable arm fart techniques from my 7 year old nephew Will, that it only works if your arm pit is real sweaty in which they all were, so it was quite a concert at 11:30 at night. So I make the declaration at 11:45: “if you are all still awake at midnight, we are going inside to sleep.” Within 5 minutes, they were all sleeping…except me. Because I didn’t mow the grass, my space in the tent had random grass clumps sporadically placed around my body so nowhere I moved was comfortable. Not to mention the fact, that I did not have a sleeping bag but a small comforter. I highly recommend using a comforter to wrap yourself in when it is 90+ degrees outside. I finally fell to sleep out of pure exhaustion at 12:45 no matter what I was sleeping on. And the next day, wouldn’t you know it everyone woke up at 6:15 in the morning with the morning light. Now I know they can all have careers as famers when they get older because they are on the same sleep schedule.

So next time you have some grandiose plan like tent camping with your children in the dead of summer “for the memories” try to make yourself as uncomfortable as possible like sleeping on a bed of nails in a giant oven, and then reconsider your “good idea.” Or afterward you might be saying “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Now I’m off to plan some “good ideas” for my wife,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Great American Past Time: Time Killing

So what do you do when you have a 3 day holiday weekend for the 4th of July, you want to avoid the crowds and heat at the parade, the fireworks are too late at night for your children,you already had your super fun picnic on Saturday and were busy all day outside on Sunday but now its Monday, and nothing good is on TV? The same thing our forefathers did with their families ~200 years ago: Kill time until bed time!

You know our forefathers were also fathers. When they were not fighting revolutionary wars or framing our constitution and setting a government of the people for the people, they were at home brainstorming with their wives how to kill time until bed just like we do today. I mean you can only take a horseback ride or throw sticks into the creek for so long until the kids want to do something else. Life back then was rough. Think about it, they didn't even have Nick Jr. Nick Jr. is like pre-school 24 hours a day 7 days a week. They had the school marm who had to teach 100 kids grades first through 12 the same lesson in an 8'x 8' school house. No wonder so many dropped out by the sixth grade! They probably heard the same lesson 6 times at that point. Of course I am basing all my assumptions on Little House on the Prairie and if I were in their situation, if I had to be in the same class with Nelly I either drop out or opt for home schooling. But I digress. Point being, time killing has been around since the foundation of this country and before. I am surprised it wasn't included in the Bill of Rights, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of time killing or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom to do anything deemed necessary and fair during the day to kill time with your children until their appointed bed time which shall not intercede or overlap into the Parent's God-given right to watch CSI or the Bachelor and therein to judge said Bachelor for his douchbaggery and pretentiousness."

I must say we had originally had plans to go to the parade in the morning. But after waking up 6:30 and already dealing with cranky toddlers who had bickered for a straight 2 hours, the thought of fighting traffic and huge crowds and blistering heat or rain showers to watch a parade, if you even get a spot toward the street, that may or may not throw candy from the floats but will generously hand out paper advertisements for Karate or Dance Studios or your local congressman/judge/county auditor/sheriff and then leaving the area traffic will cause you make it home 15 minutes after they have all fallen asleep in the car exchanging a 15 minute nap for their normal 2 hour nap in their own beds causing you to also miss out on your nap time/off-duty parent time, did not seen worth the trip to a parade today. So instead we have good intentions to take them and our new puppy to the dog park. That went well for 10 minutes until Nate wanted to get down to play with the strange dogs, including the Jack Russel Terrier who growled and nipped at every dog in there including our 7 month old ferocious shi-poo 7 lbs attack puppy. So the 25 minute car ride was worth the 10 minute dog park time.

From there we were able to make it back to the house with everyone staying awake and taking advantage of the much needed "nap time/Adult swim." We were all able to take naps, some shorter than others (sorry Lindsey) due to a 6 year old who hates naps as much as broccoli. But I got to take one, God bless America! When we were all awake, we decided to brave the place only daring or selfish parents attempt to take their children: the movie theater. We loaded up on snacks, candy, and sippy cups and set out for the dollar theater. Dollar theater because we were honest with ourselves knowing we might not make it through the whole thing and it is easier to leave a $3 theater bill versus a $60 AMC spend-a-thon after tickets and snacks. We took the 20 month old for his first movie, Rio. Nate was on my lap and everything was going well for the first bag of M&Ms, then Nate started to get fidgety. At this point here is the tally for what was covered in chocolate from Nate's M&Ms: his hands, his face, his hair, his forehead, his clothes, my arms, my shirt, my pants, the movie chair, and the bottom of his left shoe. The candy that melts in your mouth not in you hand, my foot! No really, it was on my foot too! Nate was then given a sucker which he proceeded to touch my arm and face with until he got upset about being on my lap and threw it 10 feet down the aisle. Of course that was after he took his shoe off and also tossed that on the floor. So what did I do when M&Ms and suckers no longer satisfy? That's right, send him down to Mommy. She was already dealing with Drew who was also fidgety and had consumed his own 3000 calories in chocolate and licorice. Nate wanted to sit on the folding movie seat but due to his light weight, fell between the seat and back of the chair and got stuck. I then had to pull him out while Lindsey is telling me to find his second shoe on the floor that he had removed. So I am now on my hands and knees in the dollar theater feeling around in the dark finding nothing but used sucker sticks and wet M&Ms that went into the mouth but then fell out, only to find out Nate still had his second shoe on his foot! So being sticky, covered in chocolate, sucker sticks, and something green, feeling a sugar headache approaching, Nate beginning to scream uncontrollably, Drew unable to sit in one place for 2 seconds, and Zachary talking to the screen like he was the only one there, it was time to leave. We walked out of the theater and saw that Nate had what looked like dried blood all over his hands and forehead! But after licking his head I found it to be melted red candy coating. Zachary then asked if we were going back in to finish the movie to which Lindsey responded "No, we wanted to leave early to make sure we beat the crowds coming out of the theater and make it to our car first." She is so funny and he bought it. The best part of the movie trip: it took us right up to bath and bed time. They had so much crap food at the movies, we pumped them full of carrots for dinner and sent them off to bed.

Avoided a parade, check. Visited the dog park, check. Got a nap, check. Attempted a family movie, check. No blood, only M&Ms, check. Children in bed by 7:30, check. Time killed today, check. Showered and unsticky, not checked.

Thank you forefathers for being fathers too,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Thursday, June 30, 2011

2 out of 3 ain't bad!

Have you ever had one of those moments that seem so perfectly timed that you swear your kids planned ahead of time and you are the one looking childish? I had one of those moments tonight at Tae Kwon Do.

So Lindsey went to get a new pair of glasses and said I should take the 3 boys to Zachary's Tae Kwon Do practice. Sure, no problem, what could go wrong, I thought. Of course, forgetting that I had 3 boys under the age of 6 that don't sit still or listen or obey. But besides that, it should be easy. Well, I came prepared with snacks, drinks, and the secret weapon. Zachary went in to practice and the two bleachers full of parents filled up to watch the practice. I sat down with my 2 little angels, we were watching Z, and everything was great... for those 2 minutes. Then Drew wanted the snacks. Out of the 45 minute practice, snacks were supposed to come in play at minute 18 on the "Distractability Timeline." Followed by drinks, play area, short walk, snacks again, drinking fountain, and then bounce up and down if there was still time left. We were way ahead of schedule! Well drinks were immediately asked for at minute 4! I should have known cause snacks were salty pretzels. Always plan your foods with your drinks, never separate. Know that with salty foods, drinks come sooner, but with candy and gum, drinks can be delayed cause they want the sugar taste to remain in their mouth as long as possible. Rookie mistake. Well after this, Nate, who I had been holding, wanted down. I thought he would stay right by us. I thought wrong. He thought, "how many times can I pass by these rows of parents and their well-behaved children until they start judging my daddy?" (The answer is 5, by the way.) So I now began the 'Great Nate Race.' Drew luckily was still following the timeline and had begun playing in the play area they have there. Still ahead of schedule but following it. And I say "play area" loosely. Its a partition behind the row of parents with 3 wall bead activity toys and 2 "map" rugs. Once I caught Nate, I brought him back from the rows of parents to this play area, which entertained him for 10 seconds until the race re-commenced. At this point, I am calling Lindsey to find out how she is doing and to do my job as a dad with all the kids: complain about it. But while I am on the phone, Nate runs into the bathroom and decides to check to check the water temperature in the men's bathroom's toilet. To which I say to Lindsey, "I gotta go." I wash his hands and arms up to the shoulders and find that the blower in the bathroom provides me with a good 2 minutes of distraction for him. Not on the timeline but you have to improvise. At this point, Drew decides he wants to have a race too. So with Nate in my arms, he begins to run around in front of these parents, to prove to them that its not my child who is the problem but it is the father! Oh and I had Lindsey on the phone at the time, and when Drew took off I once again said "I gotta go." I even had to count to Drew to come back: 1.....2.... and luckily he came back because he and I both didn't know what was going to happen at 3. I get them both to the play area to try snacks again and to call Lindsey back but Nate runs away around the corner and returns with some random mom's cell phone in his hand. I grab it and luckily return before she even notices. I see Drew is about to run again so I bring out the secret weapon: the ipod touch. Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, confessed in an interview that the sole reason for the invention of the iphone or ipod was to distract children in public. Thats not true but I am sure it was a welcome side effect for Apple. Well Drew loves it and it works for him. But not for Nate. He continues his class on Parent Humiliation 101, by almost running into the dojo itself and joining Zachary's class.

Luckily the 45 minute class ended (in Parent Time it lasted 8 hours), and Zachary came out. It was at this point, the moment happened. The perfectly timed moment that was so seamless and precise, it had to be pre-meditated by the 3 of them. They were all at my feet, and all at once, they split and ran in 3 different directions! It was in this split second I think 3 things: 1) Oh my gosh, don't freak out, 2) Which one do I go after? and deep down, subconsciously 3) Which one is hardest to replace? So seeing that Nate is headed for the women's bathroom to check the pH levels in that toilet, I go after him first. Luckily Drew who ran toward the door, realized no one was with him. And he knows that doing something bad and disobedient is not worth it unless someone is there to witness it, turns around to get his witness and follows Zachary into the men's bathroom. So with Nate in my arms, Drew by the hand and kneeing Zachary toward the door, I declare, "We are leaving!" But of course, Drew wiggles out of my hand, Zachary takes off through the crowd of parents toward the front door and Nate begins screaming to let him down to run too. I am fed up at this time and just want to grab someone else's well-behaved children and head home. Because at this point, I am thinking "I came with 3 and if I can get at least 2 of my children home, then you know 2 out of 3 ain't bad." Well, I managed to get all 3 before we reached the front door and we all returned home in one piece.

So at the end of the day, we all learned something. Drew learned that Daddy is full of empty threats and he is all talk and no number 3. Nate learned that toilet water is 10 degrees colder than room temperature. Zachary learned that her prefers to have mom take him to class. And I learned that I agree with him.

Hoping you have an only child that can't conspire with their siblings,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Quick. Get the camera!"

"Quick. Get the camera!" In parent speak, it means, "The kids just did something so funny or unbelievably cute and we must catch it on film to share with everyone." But in kid speak, it means, "Stop whatever it was you were just doing, forget the last 15 minutes, and whatever electronic device they bring into the room, stare blankly at it and for goodness sake, do not repeat anything you just did!" The next greatest invention would be an invisible implant video recording device implanted into the head of a parent, so at a click of a button, it would begin taping whatever you are watching without the int eruption of running to grab a camera or letting the child see the recording device. For some scientific reason that has not been proven yet, a certain hormone is released in a child whenever they see a recording device. A child will first stop all previous activity that said device was trying to capture and 2 things will happen: 1) their brain goes numb and they will stare blankly into the camera like a deer in headlights or 2) they will kick into an ultra-annoying voice/action/scream that seems funny to them but only causes the parents to roll their eyes, regret grabbing the camera, and begin thinking of how they can record over this video. Because your intentions to record something for posterity has changed into documenting how annoying your kid can be.

The reason for recording has changed over the years. It used to be a great way to document your children growing up, watching them change through the years so you never forget these moments, and it was something you could send to distance grandparents. You know, perpetuating the lie that their little grand-babies are the most darling, well-behaved children they have ever seen and debunking the stories you tell of how horrible they were at the restaurant or church. Not their sweet angels they see on the cute video! Now a days, when a parent grabs the video camera, the only thing they are thinking is "I can't wait to upload this to YouTube and facebook." Its a digital age people. Now they have documented evidence on how cute/funny their child is and to show off to all their family/friends/past classmates/mailman/pre-school teachers/pastors/rabbis/ex-boyfriends/brother's friend's sister's cousin you met at a party in December who you didn't like at first then they made that funny joke you shouldn't have laughed at but it was funny if you think about it but then they spilled that drink on the dude's carpet and you felt so bad for them that you accepted their friend request the next day. All parents want to show their funny/cute video to that one classmate who checks his facebook after pulling into his multi-million dollar house in his $200,000 Ferrari to sit down to eat his bald eagle con fit and blue whale risotto dinner personally prepared by Wolfgang Puck as he eats off his solid gold china from China and for him to watch your video and think, "Man, I wish I had kids and was struggling financially. Then life would be perfect!"

But in the days of facebook and YouTube let me be honest: Parents, not all your videos are 'online worthy'. I would say 9 out of 10 videos should be saved for family videos, straight to DVD only. Just like Disney's Swiss Family Robinson 3: The Bloody Massacre in the Trees, in 3D. Most people on facebook don't want to sign on and see how your kid can now say the word dog. Its not riveting entertainment by today's standards. Why post a link to your video when most people want to spend their time on facebook wisely by seeing how many comments they got on their "my day was tiring, how was yours?" post and taking the latest "Which Harry Potter character are you?" They also need to switch over to and check out who Justin Timerlake is dating now. I mean, lets be honest, there is only 24 hours in a day and only 14 hours of those can be devoted to facebook and People. Priorities, people! Did that one hurt stay-at-home moms? Hit a little too close to home? Well take an unnecessary trip to Target and you will feel better. You always do. So the mediocre facebook video is really only good distance grandparents who don't get to see your children very often. But even then, sometimes Grandma just wants to jump online check her farmville account and go back to following Justin Bieber's tweets. She can't be wasting time on your kid's "spaghetti face."

But once in a great while, when the stars align, and your child's anti-video hormone is suppressed by an overload of Easy Mac and Gold fish crackers, you will capture on video that hilarious moment that makes you laugh every time you see the video. And its worth sharing with the world, because its quality. Well tonight we captured such a moment with our 3 year old Drew. This was totally unprompted. He just started doing this face/dance over and over, to a point that his eyes hurt but it gave us enough time to get the camera and record it. What was so funny, was when the 6 year old was going to do his funny face, Drew kept up his move in the background, again and again. I kept thinking "That's an old wives tale about how if you make a funny face it will get stuck like that, right?" Well that was only the first part of that old wives tale. The second part says, "But if it is truly funny, keep doing it and ignore the first part. Risk future public ridicule and therapy for the thrill of making people laugh right now." Anyway, the video speaks for itself. I hope you can take time out of your mafia wars to enjoy it. Keep watching Drew.

I was laughing so hard, I couldn't breath. I hope you enjoyed watching it as much as I forced him to keep doing it.

Hoping Drew makes it to community college, but realistically setting our sights on a GED,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Put the attitude down and no one will get hurt!

I have recently come to this realization after just taking our boys out to a nice restaurant and as we prepare to try our luck at taking them to a wedding. Taking children into public is a lot like a hostage negotiation. There are many stages that the the parent will go through when attempting to deal with their own little terrorist in public, trying to maintain the peace and make sure everyone makes it home safe. But in most hostage negotiations, it never goes as planned and someone ends up getting hurt or going to jail.

Stage 1: The Appeal
This is the first stage because it is the most harmless and always works for those "good parents" who have little angels that listen and obey everything their parents tell them. When the child begins to act out, the parent makes an appeal to the child to really look at their behavior and make the right choice. Much like the negotiator will appeal to the criminal to re-evaluate his decision to commit the crime. "Come on, now think about this. Do you really want to do this? Think about what grandma would think. What would Jesus do?" And for lesser crimes and wonderful children, this strategy works. But not for my boys.

Stage 2: The Negotiation
When the appeal process breaks down and your child non-verbally answers you, "Hell yes, we are doing this. Its go time!" Then the negotiations open. This is the strategy when you have to give something to get something. Much like a negotiator will ask for a hostage in exchange for food. It usually follows the "if, then" pattern. "Ok, if you sit still at dinner, then you can go home a play Mario Kart. But if you get up, then no Mario." "If you will stop screaming, then there is ice cream in your future." "If you quit hitting your brother, then you can hit daddy all you want when we get home." This will work part of the time depending on how sweet the deal is. They must give very little and receive a lot. They wont trade in 'not screaming' for a sticker at home. You had better have that sticker in hand, it better be Spider man shooting webs and not just hanging on a wall, and there had better be a sticker book included with 50 other activity pages including but not limited to: tic tac toe, word search, mazes, and find whats wrong in this picture; and it better not have a lot of coloring pages because you only brought 8 crayons and he prefers markers anyway, but if it is crayons you'd better have at least 64, at least. Because if he want to color something brown, he'd better have the option of maroon and deep brick because sometimes you just need to switch it up. See, gain a little, give a lot.

Stage 3: The Threat
Sometimes when the negotiation fails and the criminal is not going to play give and take, negotiations descend into the threat. You can see that the perp is being unreasonable and nothing is getting through to them despite you best efforts at being a rational, Dr. Dobson-following parent. The next option is to threaten without offering them a reward to stop their crime. Hostage Negotiators will threaten like, "Alright, you've got 5 minutes to come out with your hands up or we are coming in after you." This is also the time when Moms will sick the Dads on the kids, much like the police. "If you don't come out, Swat is coming in." In these situations, I have my wife refer to me as "Swat." I have the helmet, riot gear and its not only a name but its what I do with my hand to their butts. "Just wait till your father gets home and hears what you did at Kroger." The threat also sounds like, "If you keep mouthing off to me here at the restaurant, you'll be in Time Out so long people will think you work here." "If you keep yelling at each other in the car, I hope you have good shoes on because its a long walk home from here." The threat usually works if the criminal knows you are not bluffing and will follow up with your threat. But if you are bluffing, or he has got nothing to lose, you move to the next stage.

Stage 4: The Plead
When all threats have fallen by the wayside and no amount of promised torture is affecting them, one of the last options is the plead. Its when all hope is gone and they are about to win. They have been screaming for last hour, the waiter has brought you 20 bags of crackers, 15 different crayons, 10 sets of silverware, the old couple in the corner has judged and sentenced you to being the worst parent they have ever seen, the manager is debating about asking you to leave or call the cops for disturbing the peace, and Children's Services is dialed into your phone because you are about to turn yourself in for a little piece and quiet. You then turn to the bandit and plead, "please, please, why are you doing this to me? I have been good to you. I have given you food and a place to sleep at night. I've tried my best to raise you right. So why do you hate me? I will do anything to make you stop. I am begging you. I would get down on my knees but the floor is covered with cracker crumbs, silverware, and crayons and I am already paying more in the tip then the actual meal because of the mess you have made. So please stop, PLEASE!" Of course this usually does not work. At least it doesn't with my boys because they want to see if in one day they can make daddy grow grey hair in front of them or cause a spontaneous stress ulcer, which ever comes first. If all else fails, you enter the last stage.

Stage 5: The Give Up
One side has to give up at one time or another. In a hostage situation, both sides never both win. There is no win-win. Like the Highlander says, "There can be only one." It is in this stage when the hands go up in defeat, the parent says that final word, "FINE!" and either the meal, wedding, grocery trip, concert, bah mitzvah, playdate, playground, or church is over and you leave. Or my favorite, the parent shuts down, closing his ears to all outside noise, stares forward and goes to his happy place. That happy place when the world was young, when it was just you and your wife, where you had no kids and if there were unruly kids you could freely judge those parents for being bad parents and the only noise you could hear was silence.

So if you are a cop, be brave out there. Its a cruel, crime infested world where danger lurks around every corner, ready to take advantage of the innocent. So be safe and everyone will make it home alive. (Translation: So if you are a parent, stay strong out there. Its an unfair, children infested world where your rugrats are with you all day everyday, ready to make your life miserable when you didn't do anything wrong. So be patient, they legally have to move out by age 18.)

Hoping all your hostage negotiations end in stage 1,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Where do you want to go to dinner tonight? I know....Hell!!

It was one of those dinners. In theory, a nicely planned dinner out with the family where we would laugh and joke, share our hopes and dreams and enjoy each other's companies while literally writing the memories on our hearts that we will share for years to come about this wonderful meal we would share together. But that didn't happen. Here's what did.

We had just finished a nice afternoon at the playgorund where all 3 boys were able to run and play and enjoy themselves. But in parent terms it accomplished 2 things: 1) it was a time-killer till bedtime and 2) it was an energy-burner to make sure bed time happened soon and it would go smoothly. So next time you are at a park and you see parents encouraging their children to keep playing and keeping running, its not because they want them to have fun, its because its something to do and its to ensure an easy, quick bedtime.

Side note: As an adult your day/week is typically broken up by meals, work, weekends and social activities. Things you are looking forward to. Such as, "I can't wait till lunch. We are meeting up with my friend at this new restaurant." or "Saturday night is volleyball! I just have to make it through one more day." But as a parent, your day is broken up only by children sleeping. Such as, "Lets make it through lunch, then its nap time!" Or there's only 4 more hours till bedtime then....FREEDOM!!!"

I faced this today, when after naptime ended, I looked at the clock and thought, "what are we supposed to do for 5 more hours?" It was that dreaded time of day every parent fears, A.N. or T.B. Either timeframe will suffice and all parents should know it. If you say to another parent, "Its 4 T.B." They know its 4 hours "Till Bedtime". Or 2 A.N. 2 hours "After Nap." The count down is always ticking in every parents head. Its what replaces the biological clock in a person after they have had a child.

So luckily we came up with the playground idea. After the playground, we decided to get dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant. A little torilla chips and quesadillas, what could go wrong? So we go and the kids start snacking immediately on torilla chips. This is wonderful cause you dont have to wait for a waiter to scrounge up crackers or croutons while you attempt to keep your child entertained by coloring a crappy drawing of a generic cartoon bird while they fight over who gets the blue crayon for 20 mintues until your food arrives. Sorry Applebee's but its true. Well they are all eating chips and I am enjoying the salsa until my 20 month old starts reaching for it as well. So of course, I give it to him. And he loves it! Pretty soon, the chips are just a means to an end, while he is shoveling only the salsa into his mouth, no longer eating the chips. I love Mexican places because they also bring your food so quickly. So their quesadillas come, but problem...they have chicken and peppers in them! I tell Zachary, the 6 year old, not to look inside like it will spoil the mystery of why its so good but he realizes its because once he sees its not cheese only, he will not eat it. So he is now only eating the fries that came with it. Drew, the 3 year old, is only eating the fries as well because if Zachary wont eat it, he wont either. But he does want ketchup with his fries. Of course after taking 2 bites of fries with ketchup he no longer wants the ketchup and no longer wants it on his plate either. We convince him after much arguing that he should keep it on his plate cause there is nowhere else to put a tablespoon of loose ketchup. But now after seeing this debate, Nate, the 20 month old now wants ketchup too. So at this point, Nate is now only eating salsa and ketchup for dinner! And apparently also heard from latest Vogue magazine that these 2 items were the latest fashion trend in Paris this season, so decided to spread both all over his face, arms and clothing. And during this whole scene, Drew is trying to return to the womb by being all over Lindsey and not letting her eat without being touched for 2 seconds. I am also convinced that Moms have some kind of internal magnet that causes their children to be touching them 24 hours a day. Its like the child can not help but touch them. But if they are not touching, chemical receptors fire in the child's brain to make them complain about something until they can be up in Mom's business again. So Drew is wiggling and jumping all over Lindsey despite the repeated asking for him to stop. When he does, he picks up his full cup of water, was asked to return it to the table, ignored that command, took the top off, and "accidentally" dropped into Lindsey's purse. Not around it. Not spilled the water that eventually washed to her purse. Literally poured the whole cup into the purse. Cell phone was pulled out dripping including the wallet and all other soaked pieces of paper. At this point, Lindsey stands up and announces "I'm done. We are leaving." While she goes to find the waiter, who checked on us 5 times in the first 5 minutes of our meal but now when we need him, has gone underground, joined the witness protection agency, and requires an APB and a whole search party to join hands and walk across the cornfield together to find him, Drew is wet and screaming, wont sit down and demands to go with mommy to find the Lindberg baby waiter. So I am now telling him to sit, telling Zachary to finish his dinner of chips and fries, and attempting unsuccessfully to wipe down the tomato-stained Tyra Banks. We finally get the check, pay it quickly, grab the kids and exit stage left. We go quickly because 1) Its 20 min T.B. and 2) We dont want to see the face of the bus boy that has to clean up our mess cause that is instant guilt. Its better not to know. We know the responsibility that comes with cleaning up after our family dinner. The only difference between eating out and eating in is that when we eat in, we have a dog that does 80% of the clean-up. As evidenced by her 50 pounds of extra body fat. She may be overweight, but our floors stay clean and she gets fed. Its a win win.

So that was our wonderful dinner out which makes me begin to understand why "kids eat free on Tuesday night ONLY." They must have extra bus boys on staff on Tuesdays. Or they bring in overweight dogs to clean up at the end of the night.

Off to clean our salsa/ketchup stained bathtub and to air out a purse,
THe Joyful and Tired Dad

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Gatlinburg Vacation...I mean, Trip.

It was once explained to me that a vacation is a time you get away for relaxation. But a Trip is a time you get away... but with kids. (You see how I left out the "relaxation" part. So we just returned from our Gatlinburg "Trip."

We left Sunday day for the 7 hour minivan ride with me, Lindsey, and our 3 boys to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The car ride was pretty uneventful, thanks to an in-car DVD player and plenty of snacks. There were 2 gas stops and one lunch stop. You may be thinking, "that was not a whole lot of stops for 7 hours" but we planned ahead and everyone was wearing diapers to cut out those unnecessary "bathroom breaks." When we arrived at Gatlinburg, we met my brother and his family along with my parents at a cabin in the Smoky mountains. When my brother asked Zachary how his trip was, Zachary answered, "Awesome!!!!!" which was news to me. He proceeded to tell him how we made 2 stops at a gas stations and got ring pops at both stops and got a McDonald's happy meal, with toy!

In our beautiful 3 story cabin, we got the upstairs room with private bathroom with included bidet. My 4 year old nephew told us this news when we arrived by stating, "you guys have an awesome bathroom and guess what is in it? A butt washer!!" Well apparently our boys did not hear what the bidet was used for because later that day Lindsey calls me upstairs. I go up and she tells me Zachary needs to take a shower. I look at Zachary whose face and head are dripping wet. She then tells me that Zachary decided to wash his face in the bidet, and now required a shower. Who would have thought washing your face would later necessitate a shower? Then later, Lindsey again calls me up and shows me a dripping wet Drew, and proceeds to tell me that he not only washed his face but took a drink from the bidet as well. And to make a triple play, that same day I caught Nate pulling used toilet paper out of the toilet.

The next day we went hiking with the 2 grandparents, my brother and his wife, Lindsey and I, and the 7 grandboys (3 of ours and 4 of my brothers). We went up the Rainbow Falls trail all along the mountain river giving us multiple opportunities to jump the rocks, pick up salamanders, walk across fallen trees over the river, and give Lindsey multiple "mom heart attacks" and freak-out moments. But she did so well letting boys be boys and kept her shouts of warnings to herself so that the boys could build confidence on their own and learn to be adventurous without someone holding their hands. It was a very poignant "kick them out of the nest and hope they fly" moment for her and luckily she and the boys did well. No one fell in or was hurt, except maybe the permanent fingernail marks left in Lindsey's hands from stress.

On the way down the mountain, I walked with my nephew Will who is 6 and my 2nd, Drew who is 3. Well Will loves to move and move fast especially when hiking. The only problem is that Drew wanted to hold his hand and mine as we walked down the mountain and his legs are half as long as Will's. So we went down the rocky, tree-limbed path at break-neck speed with Will in the lead pulling Drew and I down as fast as his little legs would allow. But I swear, Drew fell most of the way down the trail, with only Will and I holding him up. At one point I wondered if he was doing it on purpose but then I realized "I am having a hard time keeping up with the 6 year old, how is Drew doing it?" He would take 3 steps then all of the sudden he was hanging in mid-air, then 4 steps then mid-air, 3 steps, mid-air, etc. Will even turned around and said, "Stop doing that" to Drew but he couldn't help it. But bless his heart, Drew would not stop holding our hands. Probably cause he knew if he did, he would roll down the rest of the way!

That evening we went to a pizza parlor with a game room. The boys loved running around and playing games but Grandpa stopped me and told me that Drew needed to go to the bathroom. When I was about to take him, I noticed he didn't have to...he already started to. So what does any good dad do in that situation? I took him to mom. So we go to the patio where we are sitting and while we are discussing what to do, Drew takes his pants and underwear down on the patio and stands there for all to see. But not only that, he also begins peeing on the patio too. He might as well finish what he started, right? Luckily my brother has an extra pair of shorts from there 2 year old for Drew to wear, so crisis averted. Except for the wet spot we had to keep avoiding the rest of dinner. But for some reason, our 2 oldest boys kept having to go to the bathroom. I went to that pizza parlor bathroom 5 times for only 2 kids. Drew had to pee 2x, poop 1x, and Zachary pee 2x. Its not like they had a lot to drink, but for some reason, they saved a little bit each time they went. It was more popular than the arcade room. I thought about just staying in there, putting out a tip jar and handing out toilettes for the rest of the evening. It would have saved me 5 trips and I would have made a little extra vacation money.

Notice the pee stain on the floor.

The next day we went to the Aquarium in Gatlinburg where the thing Zachary most wanted to see was the gift shop. The second most important thing there, lunch. And one hour and $65 later, we left. The joys of parenting. He would have been more happy to eat lunch at home and go to the free playground down the road. But does he tell you that before or after you have spent the money and the frustration? And get this, they wont give you your money back if your kid is ungrateful for taking them to the aquarium. That is not a valid "reason for refund." I think most places should have the "ungrateful" clause built into their business. If a child does not fully appreciate the nice thing you were trying to do for them, 100% money back guarantee. It would take the pressure off Christmas and any Wendy's kids meal toy. I mean come on. What kid wants a DVD in their kids meal?

That night before dinner, Zachary went around with his cousin Will collecting caterpillars. (Another mom freak-out moment that Lindsey successfully navigated.) Will collected then in this green Easter egg. The day before, grandpa had handed these Easter eggs out filled with skittles. Now Will used it as his make-shift caterpillar collector. He must have had 20-30 caterpillars collected in this egg before dinner and put the closed egg on the table. Well, at the end of dinner, Drew decides to grab this egg and retrieve some delicious skittles for an after-dinner desert. It was like a candid camera, funniest home video moment. He opened the egg, and the caterpillars literally sprang from this egg! He freaked out so much, he screamed and jumped, he had the "gross-out" shiver as these things went everywhere! All over the dinner table, grandma, the floor, everywhere! It was so funny to watch his absolute moment of surprise and terror as his would-be skittles turned into 30 caterpillars.

The next day we packed up and headed home for the 7 hour car ride back. And let me tell you, I am not exaggerating when I say this, Lindsey is my witness to this, but Nate our 18 month old, screamed the entire 7 hours home! Part of the time he was upset, the other part I think he like to hear himself scream. Because he would scream then laugh at himself, then scream again and then laugh. If you want to know what it was like, record a screaming baby for 3 seconds, put on headphones, turn it up to 11 (Spinal Tap the movie reference), put it on continuous repeat, lock your self in a 3'x4' area, add annoying high-pitched cartoon character voices in the background from the DVD playing, with an undercurrent of a 3 year old and 5 year old arguing about who is or is not the parent, and stay in this place for 9 hours. You are allowed a 1 hour break for lunch, but then continue the noise-mageddon. And when Nate was not screaming, he was eating and eating and eating. It was the only thing that prevented the screaming was to have his mouth full. Lindsey and I both agreed that he probably consumed 5000 calories on the trip home. And you could tell what he ate because he wore most of it on his outfit and face.

Did Nate take his morning nap? for 30 minutes. Did Nate and/or Drew take their afternoon nap? Not one head nod. Not to mention, Nate is not only into the game of "If I drop something, they will pick it up, no matter how many times I drop it," but he is also into the game of "how far can I launch my pacifier and goldfish across the van." Yep, I was hit multiple times with his pacifier while driving. The thoughts that ran through my head during Screamfest 2011:
-After 7 hours, wouldn't he be hoarse by now?
-How many bones will I break going 65 mph on the highway if I were to abandon ship?
-Should I put my arms out in front of me to brace my fall or just tuck and roll?
-What illegal thing would I have to do and how long would I get to spend in jail before they would post bail? Is it worth one peaceful, quiet night of sleep?
-How expensive would it be to buy a hotel room for each of the kids to keep them separated from each other and me for one night?
-Where is the closet airport?
and the always popular:
-Why God? Why me?

Well, we made it home safely and in one piece. We had fun and made memories which is the most important part of the family vacation. The sad part is the memories that will stick with them will be about ring pops, gift shops, and bidets.

Hoping our trips will be vacations someday,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Beautiful Water Birth

It was so beautiful, so organic, so natural, so awe-inspiring....then everyone ran in fear!

It all started at bath time. There were signs but I chose to ignore them. The first and most important sign was after I took off Nate's diaper in the bath, somehting small and brown fell out. If I was proactive, I would have investigated and learned the truth but so many different things have fallen out of his diaper before, how was I supposed to know it was the most obvious thing. But speaking to other parents, will someone please explain how a child wearing a onesie, pants, a shirt, and a sweatshirt, strapped to a highchair with a tray table over his lap, still manage to magically put green beans or carrots into his diaper during dinner. I mean, I think David Copperfield could film his next show featuring my child. Have a random audience member change his diaper and after one meal, reveal 4 of the 5 food items at dinner fall out of that same diaper. The grand finale would the 5th item found in the random audience member's shirt when they get changed that night. Has that ever happened to you? You take your shirt off at night and as it falls to your floor you think to yourself, "When did I eat bananas today?" only to realize the 18 month old did at breakfast!
So needless to say I didn't think anything of it, just picked it up and threw it into the toilet. Well the other boys jumped in the tub and bath time went as planned. Soap, rinse, repeat. As the boys were playing and I was grabbing a towel, the beautiful water birth occured! I realized this because Zachary yells, "Daddy, Nate pooped in the tub!!!" And sure enough, 2 little floaters joined the 3 kids and other toys floating around our tub. To which, I screamed, "Everyone out of the tub!" You would have thought Jaws himself was just spotted in the water. There was screaming and splashing and slipping and shear panic as they ran from the soggy tootsie rolls. As I was drying off Nate, Drew looks in the tub and starts sobbing and crying out "Mickey, no Mickey," as one of the Baby Ruths touches his Mickey Mouse bath toy. Like a wounded soldier, left behind to face the enemy, Drew mourned his loss until we could reassure him that Mickey would be ok after a dishwater bath of his own. And at the same time, Zachary tripped on nothing and fell down hurting his elbow. So after a shower, the 3 boys were clean...again.

There was a Spirit of Defication on our house today. It started at 5:30 am when our new 3 month old puppy, Joey, had diarhea in his cage during the night. Here is the succession of the following bowel movements: 2 more Joey diarhea piles in the house, then Nate pooped, then Drew, then a lull, then Joey had a second bath due to an accident, then Drew, then Zachary, then Joey in his cage again (3rd bath,) then Nate's water deuce, then Drew again. We're having someone come over tomorrow to pray for defication deliverance.

Sorry if this was too graphic or vulgar for some but it is truth. A hard truth for those non-parents out there unaware about this side of parenting. But a soft truth for those parents who deal with this stuff everyday. A soft, mooshy, water-logged, floating truth.

Now I am off to clorox the tub, the dog cage, the shower, and myself,
The Joyful and Tired Dad