Friday, December 31, 2010

For Auld Lang Syne, My Dear, For Auld Lang Syne!

Well, we made it.
Made it through another year and made it through a second straight month-long writing challenge.
Our final word for December's challenge is fortuitous. It's a fitting word for a day like today.
Portions of the metro area were rocked by major spring-like storms today, including a tornado that danced it's destructive boogaloo through my aunt and uncle's neighborhood before sashaying miles away down WordADay December challenge participant, Chris's street, luckily only damaging property and not people. I know they all feel fortuitous tonight, despite the day's unexpected turn.

I, too, am feeling especially fortuitous as we close out 2010. In January, The Wubster had a successful heart procedure and he's doing phenomenally; in March, I helped organize a second, amazing Writers Week; in May, we welcomed Mickey (TKNTD) into our lives, completing our family; June and July was spent with the whole family at home...something that may never happen again; August brought the start of my eleventh year of teaching and some more amazing seniors; in November, I had the opportunity to present Writers Week, along with three other amazing folks, at the National Council of Teachers of English conference; I closed out the year with two straight months of daily writing after a lengthy hiatus; and tonight I'm wearing a light jacket on New Year's Eve while watching all three kids enjoy the annual local fireworks display.

It's been a good year, despite the normal hiccups life brings us. Check's been a great year!

Of course, I'm certainly looking forward to the Noisy Little Adventures 2011 will bring.

Thank you for joining me here in the blogosphere. I wish you and yours a healthy and fortuitous new year!

See you on the other side!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Von Trapped in Paradise

I've heard rumors that the hills are alive with the sound of music, but I've pressed my ear to many a hill and it's not a beat I can dance to.

Now if you want something that's alive with the sound of music...visit a house with kids.

The 'music' at our house revs up anywhere between 5:00 and 5:15 AM as Mickey (TKNTD) wakes up crying for food, and the boys, typically with The Wubster in the lead, crawl into our bed to maul us into wakefulness. It never ends, but it does pause for extended periods of time starting around 8:00 PM. In between those hours, the house resonates with the melodic emanations of our children. These include, but are not limited to, harmonicas, guitars, drums, recorders, keyboards, giggles, chuckles, guffaws, snorts, squeals, screams, squawks, yelps, help!s, barks, meows, whines, thhbbbbtttss, but!s, and what?s.

So, if musical hills are your thing, dance with those mounds of rock.

Me? I'll keep spinning in circles to the boys singing 'ingle Bells at 115 dB while the keyboard's on Demo cranked to 11 and the dogs bark to join the fun...because I got earplugs from Santa!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Once I Rose Above the Noise and Confusion Just to Get a Glimpse Beyond This Illusion

Even when they cannot be always available, the parents' fierce, unique love for their child makes them different in the child's heart and mind from all other caregivers. In spite of a long working day, a parent's passion for his or her child retains its many nuances of emotional intensity, ranging from rapture and delight to impatience and even rage, that no other relationship in the child's life can match. Even very young infants are smart enough to recognize this passionate commitment and to reciprocate it in kind.

Alicia F. Lieberman

19:48 CST
Bye! Thanks for having us over...GET IN THE CAR NOW...we should do this again sometime...HEY! IN THE CAR!...maybe an adults night out would work, too...GET BUCKLED! STOP SHOVING YOUR BROTHER!...Happy New Year!...LET GO OF HIS EAR!

19:59 CST

Mommy, why don't all people have Christmas lights up? Why do people take them down right after Christmas? Can we keep our lights up until the end of Fall? Then can we keep them up until the end of Winter? Can we keep them up until next January? Why don't we want to be the people who leave them up all year?
20:07 CST
The Wubster's almost we let this happen?
Hey Wubster! Look at the Christmas lights, monkey! See all the pretty lights!
No, no...wake up. Look at the lights!
Yeah, Wubster! Look at those lights! I see lots of lights up there, mommy!
Yes, Wubster!
Look those lights, Mommy! McDonald's lights!
20:12 CST
Okay, guys...when we turn into the subdivision you'll see lots of lights...look at The Wubster's windows.
Mommy, I saw lightning Christmas lights! They had lightning shooting from the lights!
Wow, Mini-Me, that sounds cool!
Okay, Wubster, look at these lights...they're not lightning lights, though, they're rock and roll Christmas lights!
Rock-and-row Christmas!
Yeah, rock and roll lights! ♫ Rock and roll Christmas ♫ Rock and roll lights! ♫ Rock and roll Christmas lights...
Rocknrow lights ♫ rocknrow lights! ♫ ROCKNROW!!! ♫
20:22 CST

Alright, when we go inside we're not going to be crazy, we're going to go straight inside, take off our shoes and coats, put on our PJs, brush our teeth and get in bed. It's way past your bedtimes.
Okay, mommy. Can we use the new toothpaste?
Well, hmm...if you go inside without acting crazy, you can use the new special toothpaste.
WHAT! You're going to let them use the special new toothpaste!?!
If they're good I am!
Are you for REAL!!!???!!!
Yeah...if they listen and go straight inside and get ready for bed, they can use the special new toothpaste.
Wow! That's a pretty awesome deal!
Yeah, daddy! It's special!
Well, Mini-Me, what are you going to do when we get home, then?
I'm going to get my PJs on and brush my teeth with the special new toothpaste!
20:27 CST
Alright, let's head inside and...HEY! NO! Don't climb over the seat! Your sister's right there! What are you doing! No, that's my...arrrggghh! Just stop. Watch where you're stepping!
Okay, go straight inside...
Whoa! Wait a minute! No! INSIDE! Stop running around the van! What happened to not acting crazy!?!
20:32 CST
Just step inside and look at the house.
What do you mean?
I don't think it's how we left it?
What do you mean?
Look at the floor.
That stuff all torn up.
That wasn't there when we left...but the dogs are behind their gate.
They must have gotten out.
But the dogs are behind their gate.
It's the pretzel M&Ms...
But the dogs are behind their gate!
        ...and that whole fruit danish Anna brought over this morning!
THE WHOLE THING!?! But the dogs are behind their gate!
They got out, snacked, and went back inside the gate!?! What the...! They probably went downstairs and played Just Dance, too!
It'd be the perfect crime if they'd learn to clean up after themselves!
At least they didn't get the Oreos...
20:48 CST
No, need pants!
Yeah, You can't go to bed without wet yourself. These sheets aren't flood proof.
20:59 CST
Ice water, puhleeaase!!!
21:09 CST
I've got to check up on work stuff...wanna watch something?
Sure...I've got to write about rapture. I haven't a clue where to start.

23:18 CST

They look so angelic when they're sleeping. They're beautiful...they're perfect.
I swear...tomorrow night I'm going to bed early.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Statler and Waldorf Hate This Post

Aww yeah! It's time to get random!

randomtuesdayI'm getting cantankerous in my 'old' it bad that I want to call the cops on the kids who tear up our common ground with their ATVs? Is it worse that I have? Rach and I also grumble frequently about the cars that speed past our house, gunning their engines to fly down a (roughly) 100 yard stretch of subdivision street. Drive 25 folks...don't make me invest in spike strips...I'm already shaking my cane at you!

My sister's an amazing artist! She painted an awesome picture of butterflies for Mickey (TKNTD)'s room and she's illustrated two fabulous books for the boy's now, Mini-Me and the Beanstalk and Bedtime Cat (a take on the actual book, Bedtime Cat, but with pictures of The Wubster and our cat Gretchen). Her recent work's inspired me to start brainstorming ideas for children's books. For now, check out her website.

Mini-Me and I (and The Wubster who cuddled up for the last twenty minutes or so) watched How To Train Your Dragon this morning. WOW! The Wubster enjoyed the final moments and I'm pretty sure Mini-Me liked it, but I loved it! The animation looked gorgeous via our blu-ray, I'm a huge fan of the voice work Jay Baruchel and Craig Ferguson provided, and the story used traditional mythic hero archetypes coupled with modern sensibilities. If you haven't seen it yet (and I know I'm a bit behind in seeing it myself), check it out! We give it six thumbs up.

If this WordADay December Challenge were a marathon, I'd be a Kenyan.

ISICYOADWWP-CP-A was a complete failure.

I love DVRing an entire fall season of a show and catching up in a matter of several evenings. Smallville? Check. Supernatural? Next up. Geek status? Raging!

Thanks to Santa we now have a ninja in our kitchen cabinets.

We took Mini-Me to Steak-n-Shake the other day for lunch and I was fascinated by the giant Red Bull case on the counter. I've seen 'em in bars, but Steak-n-Shake? Wow...I've totally missed the energy drink train.

I colored a picture of Robin (The Boy Wonder) today...
I love it, daddy. I want to cut it out so I can play with it.
I nearly cried. No one's ever verbalized their appreciation of my talent for coloring within the lines before. I finally feel like I've made it!

Rach just came into the living room to share the epiphany she had while brushing her teeth:
You know, how did The Growing Pains get away with naming a character Boner?
I think that trumps my randomness for tonight.

Thanks, again, to Keely at The Un Mom for these Random Tuesday's...check out her site and join in the fun!

Monday, December 27, 2010

As the Phrase Turns

Writing a blog post a day requires a great deal of wordiness, the ability to procrastinate, amusing muses, and careful editing.

Anyone else out there love the outtakes feature of DVDs? It's often what Rach and I look forward to the most. Well, because of the editing process, you guys usually get the most "polished" versions of the posts, but not necessarily the funniest. You should have seen the early drafts of the Christmas Eve post!

Before you get too excited, though, this isn't an outtake post. I was merely commenting that I like watching actors ad lib or flub their lines. What you will get here is a chance to participate in Noisy Little Adventure's first Interweb Special Interactive Choose Your Own Adventure Doug's Wacky Wordplay Post-Christmas Play-Along! We'll call it ISICYOADWWP-CP-A for short.

In researching the word-of-the-day, today, I was amused by a list of related expressions. Help me choose the right one py posting your favorite (or one of your own) and if you choose correctly, I might some day finish this blog post and dedicate it to you!
The boys are amassing quite the collection of piggy banks. Mini-Me, mainly, since Auntie K started a tradition of bringing him a new one after each of her worldly travels, but what's Mini-Me's is The Wubster's these days. The Wubster does have his own collection, but those are mostly porcelain ( move on our part) and were hidden away after Mini-Me shattered one at bedtime a couple months ago.

The remaining piggy bank collection provides the boys with a fun play opportunity [they can spend hours emptying and filling those banks, but when they stop, it's always after emptying, natch], which we're hoping will help us teach them the benefits of saving, spending, donating and avoiding any improvidence in their future.

...and avoiding buttering their bread on both sides.
...and avoiding being a penny wise and a pound foolish.
...and avoiding playing ducks and drakes with their finances.
...and avoiding being scattergoods.
...and avoiding sending the helves after the hatchets.
...and avoiding sparing at the spigot and spilling at the bung.
...and avoiding spending money like drunken sailors.
Personally, I've been a fan of sparing at the spigot and spilling at the bung for years, but parents always want a better life for their kids.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Hangover

I'm trying to multi-task tonight and type this while the boys are playing in the tub with some new boats Santa dropped off yesterday morning. This is actually one of the calmest moments in what's been a very tumultuous couple of days.

The kids thrive on routine and we've done very little according to their normal schedule the past couple of days amongst the excitement of Christmas Morning and trips around the metro area to celebrate with our extended family.

The hardest part for me is the struggle between my desire for them to be on their best behaviour (my fingers are feeling British tonight, it seems) and their innate tendency to suffer breakdowns when they're overtired and can't control or effectively express their emotions. I know why they react the way they do, I'm rarely surprised anymore when they break down, I consider myself a fairly patient and logical bloke (British, again), but in the heat of the moment I still have a hard time not getting frustrated. At times I'll even catch myself responding to them as if it's their choice to throw the tantrum when I know, in most cases, it isn't something they can control. Of course, throwing tantrums over not getting an awesome Batman motorcycle at Toys R Us [even if daddy agrees that it's AWESOME] is a choice, and I feel like I handle those break downs pretty well. It's the tumultuousness when we're all overtired that I want to work on.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

"Angels" We Have Certainly Heard on High!

The spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future smiled upon the WordADay December draw again, as today's word is quite fitting: angelic.

Unfortunately, an early Santa-inspired morning, toy and chocolate-fueled overstimulation, limited naps, and forced early bedtimes left Mini-Me and The Wubster a bit less than angelic as the day drew to a close.

Mickey (TKNTD), though? She was a little trooper and fought through the overstimulation and antics of her brothers with an adorable, angelic grin all day. When her face lights up, especially at my antics, well, it's enough to warm an old scrooge's heart. 

Dearest reader, I hope you have had the merriest of Christmases this year and that you and your family are cuddled together with full hearts tonight.

Here's to life!

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Noisy Style

I was really hoping, twenty-four days ago when we started WordADay December, that today's draw would bring the perfect word for Christmas Eve. A word that would inspire us to write about the holiday spirit, the glimmer in kids' eyes, the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future, jolly, fat men, or the "reason for the season." A word that would match the wonder of the White Christmas falling outside.

But on this O Holy Night all I can think about is how laborious our Christmas Eve has been, what with children bickering and not napping and the sheer volume of toys strewn about before any new ones have even been opened. I don't remember it being this much work when I was a kid, so hopefully Mini-Me, The Wubster, and Mickey (TKNTD) will end up with a memory full of fondness, warmth, and love for their childhood Christmases just like I have.

In the spirit of our Christmas Eve adventure...and because I fell asleep with Christmas specials on TV, my laptop in, and too much nog in my egg, here's a Christmas poem:
Twas the night before Christmas, in Noisy Little Adventureland,
The kids are not sleeping, something's wrong with our plan.
The stockings are hung by the chimney with care,
But if not for Gorilla Glue, they wouldn't be there.

The children are now nestled all snug in their beds,
Within five minutes they'll be in the living room instead.
And mamma in her ‘sweatpants', and I in mine, too,
Will look at each other, wondering "What are we to do?!?"

Back to their rooms, the children are lead...well, 2/3 of the children because if Mickey (TKNTD) had actually walked out of her room we'd have other things to worry about...but I digress.

Back to their rooms, the children are lead,
They're scared of sugar plums dancing on their heads.
We calm their fears and tuck them in tight,
And hope for the fifth time it's the last time tonight.

Back in the kitchen, to eat a late supper,
Mama and I look around at the clutter.
When Santa arrives he'd better pay close attention,
Or he'll step on a Lego and he'll end up in traction.

To avoid litigation we quickly clean up the toys,
And ponder what new ones Santa'll bring for the boys.
Will there be a robot that burps, farts, and sneezes?
Or will there be board games with thousands of pieces?

Mama and I, satisfied with our straightening,
Finally curl up for our short winter's napping.
When out in the backyard there arose such a clatter,
That I spring from my bed to see what is the matter.

It is then that I remember one Golden Retriever,
That'd gone outside for a pre-bedtime reliever.
As I step onto the deck to yell, "Dash it all, Meli"
I am stopped in my tracks by some bells ringing faintly.

I turn my gaze to the snow-covered rooftop,
And am shocked to glimpse someone fresh from his workshop.
A jolly red elf, with a flowing white beard,
And a group of eight reindeer, plus one that is weird.

The spry little fellow turns and looks my direction,
And he gives me a wink and sincere genuflection.
I quickly realize I should be tucked in bed tight,
So I can be sleeping and the visit go right.

I bow and I wave before running inside,
I quick check on the kids and then I subside,
To a night full of dreams of my favorite toys,
And for much of the same for my girl and two boys.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Enjoy the time with your loved ones!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Floccinaucinihilipilificating Molly

According to Wiktionary, floccinaucinihilipilification is "often cited as the longest non-technical word in the English language, being one letter longer than the commonly-cited antidisestablishmentarianism."

I've heard of antidisestablishmentarianism. It was used to hilarious effect in a commercial a while back. It's a fun word.

Until I drew floccinaucinihilipilification from the WordADay December word bank today, I'd never even dreamed of such a word. Now a part of my reality, I'm incredibly frustrated by this word. It's got me finger-tied. I've been trying to type this post since early this afternoon, but can't fully wrap my head around how to use floccinaucinihilipilification in a sentence (other than sentences like that). Probably because it's a word that's rarely genuinely used.

The word means "The act or habit of describing or regarding something as unimportant" and was, apparently, created in the 18th Century by a group of students at Eton who 'simply' combined a variety of synonymous Latin roots (all have something to do with 'nothing') probably for the express purpose of creating a word longer than antidisestablishmentarianism (by one letter, natch). Those crazy kids! Where would we be without them?

Speaking of crazy kids, I guess we experience floccinaucinihilipilification around here more often than I intially thought.

Mini-Me often floccinaucinihilipilificates when we tell him to stop goofing off at the dinner table, stop jumping on the furniture, stop waking The Wubster up when we let him go to bed in his own room, stop goading The Wubster into getting himself in trouble, stop splashing water out of the tub, stop, stop, stop, stop, STOP!!! Looking at it this way, those four letters may be the root of his floccinaucinihilipilification. I'll have to ask our pediatrician.

It was pretty embarassing  and I'm not sure I should admit it on this blog, but I caught The Wubster floccinaucinihilipilificating in his room yesterday. The door was closed and I didn't knock, so it's my fault, this all could have been avoided, but when I opened his door, there he was floccinaucinihilipilificating in his closet. He was supposed to be napping and I'd told him that several times since putting him in bed, but he still got out of bed and floccinaucinihilipilificated.

I'm just glad it was me who walked in on him and not his mother...that would have been mortifying.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

D-A-D-D-Y needs C-O-F-F-E-E

I need a latte...a cappuccino...and tonight I had some Chocovino.

Seriously...on all counts.

I had my doubts about the Chocovino the first time I saw it, but Rach received a bottle as a gift from a coworker, so we gave it a try while we enjoyed our 9pm steak dinners (that's not some newfangled cut-o-beef, it's just the only time we can sit down and enjoy dinner together these days) and watched Date Night.

I was pleasantly surprised...on all counts.

I really need the coffee as I'm trying to type this because I was up until 2 a.m. this morning preparing food to take to Mini-Me's teachers. I decided to try making my own french bread, which ended up being fairly easy, but time consuming as I had to stay awake through multiple rises [that's what she said].

The effort and lack of sleep was totally worth it, though, because the bread turned out fantastic...on all counts (I don't even know how that phrase fits here, but isn't parallel structure awesome!?!)

Even The Wubster loved the bread. He saw it sitting on the stove top this morning, actually asked for it specifically, and, since I wanted to try a bite, too, I cut off a small piece. He wandered off, proud of his yeasty prize.

I made sure Mini-Me was set with his breakfast and then went to get dressed. Several minutes later, I hear Rach yelling, "You don't want to guess what The Wubster is doing!"

When I walked into Mickey (TKNTD)'s room, The Wubster was in her rocking chair with his hands caressing an entire loaf of french bread and his mouth gnawing away like a dog with a rawhide.
Wubster! What are you doing!?!
Mmmhmm mhhmmmhmnn
Let me see..AH! That's not even the one I already sliced!
Mmnn Hmm nmmm mmmhhHHmmm
That's the perfect loaf! How'd you?!?
Mmmnn mmmhhhmmm nnmmna aammnhh
Seriously! I can't believe you...give me that!
[How do you effectively write out a mega-tantrum?]
Okay, okay, okay...calm down! I'll tear you off a hunk of this since it's already mangled...
*Sniff* *Sniff*
Mmmnn aaammhhhnnHHMMM MMHHmmnnnhh
Yeah, whatever...
I walked the rest of the loaf back into the kitchen and moved everything that was left out of The Wubster's reach.
Hey, Mini-Me...did you see The Wubster take that?
Did you think it was something he should have?
Umm...No. I knew he shouldn't have it.
Why didn't you tell us he had it?
Well, you see, I had to finish my Frosted Flakes.
Oh...okay. Thanks.
No problem, daddy.
Where's that coffee? Never mind, hand me more Chocovino.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Seren-Deputy Dog Dog a Ding Dang Depadepa

D-Random Tuesday
O-Oh that doesn't start with 'D'
N-no one knows this song
Apostrophe T-but he keeps going

Don't don't don't run away
I promise I'll stop
Just as soon as I complete the chorus
And get this outta my system.


Aaaahhhh...much better.

Any fans of They Might Be Giants will love that at least have "Don't Let's Start" in their head now. The rest of you should download it in order to lead a more complete life. If you don't like it on first listen, I can sing along and it'll make everything better!

Do you ever think back to the moments when you first discovered a favorite band/song/CD? A friend of mine gave me a cassette copy of They Might Be Giant's Flood in 1991 and I was hooked. TMBG became an important part of the soundtrack of my teenage years. Every time I hear a song from that album, I'm awash in memories, feelings, emotions. I sang "Birdhouse In Your Soul" to Mini-Me in the car the other day. He was unimpressed.
That song rocks, right, bud!?!
Yeah. I guess.
No, really, that was almost as good as 'Oh Yeah' (aka 'A-Punk'), right!?!
Not really, daddy.
Last week I watched REM on Austin City Limits. Talk about another rush of memories...I knew some REM songs in the late 80s/early 90s, but it wasn't until college that they, too, became part of my soundtrack. I was going to have the boys watch it again with me and we'd have a dance party, but I decided not to unimpress them.

I love the serendipity that comes from searching iTunes recommendations or listening to Pandora stations. It makes my iPod and credit card statement fuller.

My grades are done. I should be planning for next semester. Nah.

Sushi for lunch with coworkers = BEST LAST DAY OF FIRST SEMESTER EVER!

Why do some people buy frighteningly realistic preschooler-sized Santa decorations and give them to people with frighteningly realistic preschoolers?

Tomorrow we're making lunch for Mini-Me's (and The Wubster's starting in January!!!) teachers. I'm going to try making my own french bread to go with the lasagna and bagged salad I've already got a handle on. We've offered to take over the classrooms so the teachers can eat together. I'm taking The Gruffalo and Bear Stays Up for Christmas to read (to myself) while Rach deals with the kids. I may stay and join the kids for nap time.

Christmas is four days away? Thank goodness for the As Seen On TV store...I still have time to pick up Rachel's gifts!

Speaking of ASOTV...Mini-Me's paying attention to commercials now. I walked into the living room one morning earlier this week while he was watching Adam West in all his Batman glory...
Daddy! Let's get that for mommy! It's called the'll help make her hair beautiful and full! Her other hair things might burn her hair!
It's got a brush on it and it spins.
You have to order now, daddy!
I'm on it.
Really, daddy. She needs it!
I handed him the phone and his mom's credit card (what? Mine's for iTunes).

Significant Winter storm expected to impact our area beginning late Thursday into Christmas Eve. Sweet! White Christmas! parents are driving back from Austin on Thursday. Safe travels Grammie and Poppy and to anyone else travelling this weekend!

Is it sushi time, yet!?!

Happy Random Tuesday everyone! Thanks, again, to Keely at The Un-Mom! Go visit and join in on the fun.

Monday, December 20, 2010

These Wonderful Things Are the Things We Remember All Through Our Lives

A few years back...who'm I kidding...nearly a decade back, when we were decorating the house for Christmas, Rach and I strung a length of ribbon with small bells and draped the ring-ting-tingling ribbon around the bottom of the tree, so we'd know if the cat was engaging in forbidden behaviors. The cat loved the gift we'd provided for her and spent hours underneath the tree, batting at the bells. Eventually, we grew accustomed to the tintinnabulation and gave up on reprimanding the cat.

We still have that length of ribbon. It's now sealed in an old, empty water bottle as a makeshift musical shaker for the kids. They ignore it.

When Mini-Me first became mobile during a Christmas decorating season, we moved to advanced precautionary methods. We bought larger sleigh bells with which to decorate the tree, so we'd know if the kid was engaging in forbidden behaviors. The kid loved the gift we'd provided for him and spent hours around the tree, plucking off bells and scattering them throughout the house. Eventually, we grew accustomed to the tintinnabulation and gave up on reprimanding the kid.

We still have the bells. Some of them are on the tree. Many of them are on the floor. We ignore them.

Now we have three kids, two of whom are fully mobile and like touching the Christmas tree. We've learned our lesson, though. Bells don't work unless you add a nightmare...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Well, Bob, the Times They Have a Changed

Winter Sunday mornings aren't what they used to be.

We used to wake up slow, only reluctantly leaving behind the warmth of our bed for the warmth of the couch in order to curl up and watch CBS Sunday Morning. The pace of the show lends itself perfectly to calm, quiet, winter mornings.

We don't watch it much anymore. We also don't curl up on the couch much in the mornings anymore. We certainly don't wake up slow. Heck, the only thing left from those Sunday mornings is the reluctance to get out of bed.

Despite the hectic nature of our current mornings, Mini-Me, The Wubster, and Mickey (TKNTD) were entertained enough today that I was able to turn on CBS Sunday Morning. It wasn't exactly the same, but it sure was nice visiting with an old friend I don't hang out with often enough.

What does this have to do with the WordADay December challenge? One of the segments this morning was about Google's Ngram Viewer. According to John Blackstone, "The search giant has digitally copied 5.2 million books published since 1500. From those, they have built a database of 500 billion words . . . and made it available for all to search."

That's pretty gnarly!

Speaking of gnarly, this word has a ton of definitions. Traditionally, it means "knotty" or "twisted," which leads to it also meaning "unpleasant" or "disgusting." More recently, the term has been used to mean "remarkable" or "outstanding." But how often has the word been used over the past 500 or so years? To the Ngram!

This may rank amongst the top methods of procrastinating via the Internet ever!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Talking Points

Good to see you! How've you been?
Fine. And you?
Good. How's work?
It's good. And yours?
Fine. How's the family?
Pretty good. And yours?
Fine. 'bout those [insert regional sports team]?
Yeah...[Choose appropriately: impressive/disappointing/meh]. And yours?
Umm...the same? Did you hear about that [insert local news headline]?
Yep...crazy. And yours?
What? Uh...umm...oh! Look at the time! It was great catching up! See you next year!
Fine. And yours?
I really don't enjoy small talk. I can perform reasonably well in situations that require it, better than the example above, but, still, it's not my forte. I can be loquacious in the right situations, around the right people, but, overall, I'm shy in social settings.

My dad doesn't have that problem. He'll talk to anyone. I especially remember being embarrassed often as a teenager when we'd go to the grocery store. My dad would strike up a conversation with what, to my hyper-sensitive teenage mind, felt like everyone, while all I wanted to do was escape without notice. He never let that happen.

Mini-Me takes after him that way.
I have Spider-man shoes!
They light up!
I'm Batman!
Daddy? I said 'hi' and he didn't say anything.
This from the kid who wears his Spider-man/Superman/Batman uniform to Cardinal's games and then shies away from the attention he gets.

Nevertheless, I do my best to explain to him that sometimes people don't pay attention to their surroundings or, if they do, don't like to talk to 'strangers'. It's hard for him to understand, being that he's a budding conversationalist, but he seems to accept that not everybody's kind enough to say 'hello' to a four-year-old excited to be in a grocery store.

I think back to the shopping trips I took with my dad and the numerous times I was so easily embarrassed by simple conversations. We reach the check-out lane and the checker smiles and greets us with a tired, 'How are you today?' It's the kind of greeting that doesn't really want to be answered, but I do.
We're pretty good. How are you?
Looks like it's a hectic day for you!
Tell me about it...I've been here since ten and it hasn't slowed down.
The threat of winter weather will do that, I guess.
What are they saying now about...
I have Spider-man shoes! They light up!
You do!?! Let me see...WOW! Those are awesome! I wish I had a pair like that!
I have Spider-Man shoes, but I'm really Batman!
Oh,'re my favorite! Is this your Batmobile, then?
Umm...yes. This is...well, actually it's my Bat-plane. My Batmobile is at the Batcave.
I see. Well, Batman, would you like a sticker?
Sure! Can I have one for my brother, The Wub...I mean for Robin?
As we make our way across the parking lot, Mini-Me looks up from the orange oval sticker, a smile across his face:
See, daddy. Some people like to talk.

Friday, December 17, 2010

We've Got a Groovy Kind of Love

Okay, Wubster, you want pretzels or veggie straws with your PB&J?
Veggie Straws, veggie straws, veggie straws all the way.
Uh, was that Jingle Bells?
I think it was.
Alright...veggie straws it is.
Music's a big part of the Noisy Little Adventures household and it's been that way since Mini-Me discovered my ukulele when he was 18-months-old. Ever since then we've had concerts throughout the house, at relatives' houses, in hotels...pretty much anywhere we go there's a good chance a concert will break out. It wouldn't be a stretch to say we love music.

Many of our family dance parties over the past four years have centered around the music of Dan ZanesRalph's World, or 'Oh Yeah' (aka Vampire Weekend's 'A Punk'), but lately we've spent just as much time cranking a kid's music channel I made on Pandora and dancing away at shower time.

Mini-Me has also been good at making up his own songs as he plays the variety of instruments we've collected. He 'plays' keyboards, guitars, drums (thanks Grandma Abby and Papa Boyd!) harmonicas, and the aforementioned ukulele, but his current favorite instrument is my Fender electric guitar. I'm amazed he can hold the thing for as long as he does. A couple weeks ago he cranked the amp up to 11 (during Mickey's (TKNTD) nap time, of course) and shredded so hard he broke a string.
Hey! You're gonna need to buy me some strings for Christmas.
But I don't want strings. I want a Batman watch.
I know, bud, you'll buy me the strings.
But I don't want strings, daddy.
No, Mini-Me, you can get me some strings.
I don't think so daddy, I want a Batman watch.
The Wubster's jumping right in with us as part of the family band. He's happiest when he has a microphone in his hand, but lately has shown talent with the harmonica and keyboard, too. He's also a great dancer, but his moves are often limited to spinning in circles or jumping and tucking his legs so he lands on his butt. I hate to admit it, but he can beat me at Just Dance with those two moves.

The original songs Mini-Me performs tend to center around superheroes and Jesus. Yep, you read that right: Superheroes...and Jesus. [It might help to note he attends a Lutheran preschool...that at least explains the superhero part.] Tonight, the song sampled the tune of 'Away in a Manger' and described how Jesus made superheroes to help him save us from bad guys. Not only was it an interesting take on the superhero mythology, but it had a great hook!

And then the Wubster breaks out his rendition of Jingle Bells at dinner tonight to ask for veggie straws!?!

I tell ya, it's groovy, man!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dandelion Whine

Over the past four-plus years I've learned a lot about parenting. Most of it was trial-by-error, some of it came from watching reruns of The Cosby Show and Who's the Boss, and the rest from making alliterative similes: Parenting is like a delicate dance amongst dandelions.

Before you grab the Weed-B-Gone, hear me out.

Imagine that in front of you is a field full of millions of whispy dandelions. Aren't they lovely? You know you want to run through them like this:

Parenting, though, is like making your way through that field as carefully as possible, and, yet, no matter what you do, no matter how careful you place each step, there's bound to be some chaos. Some of those dandelions are going to burst.

We try to carefully tiptoe through the dandelions around here, but there are chaotic bursts we can't seem to avoid: getting the kids in the car on weekday mornings, talking on the phone anytime The Wubster's near, bedtime and Mini-Me, pretty much every meal and, on that note, most trips in public with the kids.

Despite that chaos, though, we keep dancing through the field because, like Opus told us, we all need a dandelion break some times.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Go, Doug, Go!

I'm so proud of myself!

For once, I didn't get exasperated with Mini-Me during his bedtime 'You're mean!' routine.
Old dog?
Meet New Trick.
Why, hello!
Do you like my hat?
No, I do not like your hat.
You're mean!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Flibbertiwhat?

While scrolling through blog posts this morning I discovered (via Beta Dad) The Un Mom's Random Tuesday Thoughts campaign during which participants "just spew out a bunch of random thoughts, bits and bobs that aren't big enough to make their own blog post...etc." I filed it away as something fun to try some day.

Then I randomly decided to have a student draw our WordADay December word. He drew "flibbertigibbet."


My first thought? Who's making up words?
Second? To the Interweb!
Flibbertigibbet: \fli-bər-tē-ˈji-bət\
n. A silly, scatterbrained, or garrulous person.
Word Origin: 1540s, "chattering gossip, flighty woman," probably a nonsense word meant to sound like fast talking; as the name of a devil or fiend it dates from c.1600.
Sounds like a perfect opportunity to be random!

Mini-Me's becoming a Lego fan. My mom got the boys each a standard candy-filled advent calendar, but she gave me (okay, the boys) a Lego advent calendar. Mini-Me wasn't too interested at first, but once a plane came out of day two and that plane could be made into a "Bat Plane" after day six, he was hooked. Initially, I did all of the building, but fourteen days in and he can look at the picture and build each day's creation...before disassembling it and adding to his fleet of Batjets and Robinjets.

Speaking of Legos...he's getting better at Wii Lego Batman, too. Watching him figure out how to use his thumbs to manipulate the joystick and move the character onscreen has been fun. Remind me I said this in a few years when all he wants to do is play video games.

I hate loving you, Christmas Cookies. You're so tasty and delicious and plentiful. You need to go away, but do it on your own. If I make you go away it doesn't help the problem.

The Wubster's home sick again, today. Mood's great...just spewing from the other end. You're welcome for that randomness. Thank you Grandma Abby for adjusting your schedule!

Rach and Mickey (TKNTD) are on their way to Wisconsin for a funeral. I wish them safe travels and promise the house (and boys) will be in one piece when they return. GUYS' NIGHT IN!!! Those Christmas cookies won't stand a chance!

Tomorrow night's the preschool Christmas concert. Last year, Mini-Me stood frozen on stage. At the first concert this year he actually sang. I have high hopes for tomorrow's performance! I may let The Wubster run the video camera.

I really should be grading and, yet, here I am blathering on about randomness like some flibbertigibbet. Geez!


Monday, December 13, 2010

You're a Mean One...

At the risk of getting a big-ass paper cut that lasts several days from my buddy, Chris, I wish I could be more apathetic some times.

Mini-Me's favorite thing to say when he's over-tired and we tell him something other than what he wants to hear is some variation of "You're mean."

It doesn't matter that he's
a.) not listening
b.) screaming
c.) waking up his siblings
d.) throwing toys
e.) all of the above and then some
                                        he's not being mean. Just us.

When he gets bored of arguing meanness, he'll switch to "I don't like you" or, if I've really 'been mean,' "I don't love you anymore." No amount of my logic can help him adjust his logic. And that's when I wish I was more apathetic.

I know he's only four, Rach reminds me of that all the time, but it still bothers me, especially after we have nights like tonight, when we apparently weren't mean at all, Mini-Me was his lovable and adorable self, and bedtime was a breeze.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Puke!

The cacophony can be overwhelming, especially when it seems like it'll never end, but I shouldn't be surprised. After all, these are our Noisy Little Adventures.

Last night, when I finally sat down to write, I couldn't keep my eyes open. I sat with the laptop in front of me, hands on keyboard, brain on topic, chin on chest, drool...[shakes head]...hands on keyboard, brain on topic, chin on chest, droooooooooo...[shakes head]...hands on keyboard, brain on topic, chin on chest, ddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd...

It wasn't going to happen. I was exhausted after a day of playing with the boys and Mickey (TKNTD), baking cookies (Mini-Me helped...he loved controlling the giant, 50-lb. Kitchen-Aid mixer we apparently bought solely for making Christmas cookies), eating cookies (Mini-Me helped...he loves eating cookies), doing dishes (just me...I love, no I don't) , and prepping meals ( Top off all of these activities with near constant screaming, screeching, shouting, singing, squealing, snickering, a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry and you've got yourself a delightful N.L.A. sundae!

When it comes time to sit down and write at the end of a day, the hope is for an end to the cacaphony. Some nights are better than others.

The Wubster's pretty good about going to bed and staying in bed (unless it's a night when he feels the need to get up and pee every three minutes) and Mickey (TKNTD) is getting better about sleeping almost all the way through the night, but Mini-Me? If Mini-Me is overtired/moody/there's a full moon/it's any day of the week/the wind is blowing from the south/"JUST WANTS TO PLAY BECAUSE I NEVER GET TO PLAY!!"" the adventures can carry on well past bedtime complete with kung-fu grip and door kicking action. Tonight was one of those nights.

Last night, though? Last night was quiet.

Thus, I was a bit disappointed when I couldn't take advantage of the quiet evening for writing. I struggled to keep my eyes open and hit enough random keys that I finally gave in. Going to bed early is something I should take advantage of more often. As the snow was softly falling outside our windows, Rach and I checked on the kids, turned out the lights, and crawled into bed at the same time. The house was quiet, peaceful, calm. And then it erupted. Or, more precisely, The Wubster erupted.

A horrendous gurgling, hacking noise poured forth from the boys' monitor. We ran into their room, found The Wubster spewing like a Play-Doh Fun Factory, moved into super-parent mode and, literally, got our hands dirty despite any personal gag issues. We ended up sitting with him for several hours and through several pajama and bedding changes until we felt it was safe enough to let him fall asleep. The Wubster curled up on a mattress we set up next to our bed and it only took a few seconds before he was out and we finally snuggled ourselves into bed, exhausted.

Even on quiet evenings, the cacophony of our Noisy Little Adventures lurks beneath the surface, watching, waiting, whispering its intent. Though last night's experience kept me from an early bedtime, The Wubster was so adorably, miserably cute (yes, I know he was puking...he was still cute) that I didn't mind giving up my sleep. Next time, though, Wubster, let's be adorable without the puke, m'kay?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Error: Post Not Found

After a day of Noisy Little Christmas Cookie baking (and Noisy Lotsa Dishwashing), all energy normally directed towards organizing words on these pages will be transferred into a short winter's nap. Any words available after said nap will be posted tomorrow.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hello? Operator?

The waning crescent moon sits high above us as we drive towards home.
'ook, daddy! Moon!
Hey! Yeah! It is the moon!
Moon, daddy! I see moon!
Great job, monkey!
I continue driving, left to ponder The Wubster's daily leaps and bounds. He'll be starting preschool in January. It's hard to believe. Just a couple weeks from now he'll head to school like his big brother. He's a full-fledged boy now, no longer toddling through the world.
A minute, daddy. 'us a minute.
He holds his index finger up so I know to wait. Time & Temp has some important things to say.

The kid loves phones, especially Rachel's. If you were to call her while The Wubster was near, the ringtone would send him spiralling into an epic tantrum because she won't let him answer. He circles the house, picking up various toy phones and old cell phones, talking incessantly to his relatives.
'i Poppa Boyd. 'w are you? Good? Okay, bye.
This time he has his silver toy flip phone that rings a few seconds after you close it. He closes it and sets it on the couch next to him. It rings.
'i Poppa Boyd. 'w are you? Good? Okay, bye.
The cycle repeats most of the morning. Sometimes he's on the couch, most of the time he's doing laps through the house. Phone on ear the whole time.

The Wubster's going to be our little technophile. He can manipulate an iPod and iPad, make my computer do tricks I never thought possible (or can easily repair), heck, he's even taught himself to redial Time & Temp.

Looks like his baby day's are waning like that crescent moon.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Just Two Bites

I did!
Those weren't barely touched the spoon to your lips.
No, daddy, I did. I did take two bites.
Let me see you take another.
But I did already!
Those weren't bites.
They were! I bit them!
A real bite, buddy!
It was real bites, daddy!
I'm not a picky eater. I love all food. Well, most food. I don't like Brussels sprouts...or beets...or liver.

Mini-Me, though? Yeah...he definitely takes after his mother.

I try to introduce the family to a variety of gastronomical delights (last night's chicken korma was a miss for everyone but me, tonight's Italian beef was 3/5ths of a hit), but Mini-Me fights against change like Tyson fights ears: he takes one bite and he's done.

Mickey (TKNTD), has just recently started solid smashed foods. So far, we've introduced her to the sauce of apples, bashed bananas, pummelled pumpkins, and smushed sweet potatoes. She devours it all. Two years ago, The Wubster did the same. Four years ago, Mini-Me.

Somewhere along the way, though, Mini-Me's taste buds changed. They latched on to bean & cheese tacos, deli turkey, peanut butter & jelly, corn dogs, lasagna, and chocolate chip pancakes. If I'm serving anything else, Mini-Me's not interested...unless, of course, it's a sugary delight.

The Wubster's remained a much more adventurous eater. He likes everything Mini-Me likes, but he also loves salsa (despite screaming and dousing his tongue with milk after each bite), anything aus jus, pecans & other mixed nuts, and coffee. He'll eat almost everything, especially if it's in sandwich form and is technically yours. The Wubster even prefers fruits and veggies to dessert! That's my boy!

I know I became an adventurous eater as I got older and was introduced to more variety, so I have high hopes for Mini-Me.

Until then, I'll keep being adventurous in the kitchen and The Wubster and I are going to enjoy not having to share.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Adore Mi Amor

The moment I drew today's word from the 'hat' I started singing. Fortunately for my students, it wasn't out loud.

In my head, though, I couldn't shake the familiar notes of Color Me Badd.

That's right...that group of AWESOMENESS from the late 80s and 90s whose hits rocked the musical landscape of my youth. To add to the group's cool factor, Color Me Badd hailed from the, not that OC...Oklahoma City. Yep, THE Oklahoma City. The city synonymous with R&B...rodeos and bull riding.

I'm not too proud to admit that I adored Color Me Badd back in the day. There might even be a few pictures around that show me as a naive high schooler dressed in CMB-style vivid yellow t-shirt under bold green short-sleeve button-up with the sleeves rolled to reveal that vivid yellow...all that was missing was the cool factor.

I'll even admit that we still have a couple CMB albums in our mega-CD changer. Heck, I'll even tell you that we've been known to listen to those albums on occasion...the 'Random' function of the CD changer apparently also adores CMB.

Rach is the bigger fan. She admits to seeing Color Me Badd and Paula Abdul in concert. I told her not to let me type that, but she was too tired to stop me.

Now the truth is out.

Don't punish our kids for their parents' transgressions.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dare Double Dare Double Double Dog Dare

They're getting there.

It hasn't happened, yet, but it's coming.

Mini-Me and The Wubster are getting bolder. And stronger. And more imaginative.

Our furniture is no longer for sitting. It's for standing. And jumping, bouncing, wrestling. Everything but sitting.

And couch cushions? They don't belong on the couch, they belong on the floor. To protect from lava. And sharks. And crocodiles.

It hasn't happened, yet, but it's coming.

Mini-Me and The Wubster are getting bolder. And stronger. And more imaginative.

We moved the sectional in our living room to open up the area for Sunday with Santa. The boys and the cats noticed immediately. When putting it all back, we decided to break apart the sectional to freshen up the room's layout. The boys and the cats love it.

Mini-Me has contemplated leaping from couch to couch. He's tested the sturdiness of their arms for gymnastics routines.

It hasn't happened, yet, but it's coming.

Mini-Me and The Wubster are getting bolder. And stronger. And more imaginative.

Soon they'll dare each other to defy gravity.

Soon they'll test the structural bounds of our home.

I yelled at first. I'm a grown up now, you see. I paid for that furniture.*

I forgot what it's like to be faced by such challenges.

Instead of yelling, maybe I should lead the way. I've already scaled these mountains, sailed these oceans, crossed these lava pits. I know the rugged terrain. I know the joy in victory.

But I won't.

I wouldn't dare.

Rach would get mad.**

Monday, December 6, 2010

Irrevocably Yours

One of the main lessons I've learned in raising my children is that parenting comes standard with a heaping dose of worry. There are so many possible sources of worry that it can be overwhelming...are they:
Healthy? Wealthy? Wise? Athletic? Sensitive? Inquisitive? Trustworthy? Loyal? Helpful? Kind? Courteous? Safe? Friendly? Popular? Adorable? Deplorable? Well-behaved? Well-groomed? Well-Intentioned? Attentive? Inventive? Retentive? Respectful? Strong? Talented? Perfect? 
The list could go on forever, but, for me, worry boils down to two key questions:
Can I protect them from physical harm?
Am I doing irrevocable damage?
Like most parents, I never want to see my kids hurt. I have a pretty active imagination at times and I'll often survey an environment and envision the possible ways the kids could get injured in order to set up my defenses. Like the old Tootsie Roll commercial from the 70s/80s told us...The world looks mighty unsafe to me, cause dangerous falls are all I see. Whatever it is i think I see, Becomes a danger zone to me.

I'm not even free of these thoughts in my own home. We have open stairs to the basement in the main hallway and anytime I have to walk down the hall with a kid in my arms, I hug the opposite wall to avoid any possibility of dropping said kid down the basement steps. I've never come close to dropping them, but still, the possibility exists and that worries me.

The second question involves mental damage rather than physical.We play so many 'games' as parents, 'games' meant to produce an end-product that fits our expectations and desires. For example, I want Mini-Me to behave and listen. Right now those are my two main goals for him. At school, he's mastered both, but at home, where he's comfortable, he's 'failing' often. He's four, though, so, from what I understand, it's perfectly normal. But that doesn't change our attempts to make improvements.

Thus, in the past, J'onn J'onzz, aka Martian Manhunter, has 'taken over my body' to demand that Mini-Me behave. I never remembered much about the experience since I was trapped in my own body, unaware of what was happening, but Mini-Me tells me my voice changed and J'onn J'onzz talked about listening and doing what his mommy and daddy asked. Then he'd go back to Watchtower and I'd wake up on the floor.

In the car, when Mini-Me was acting out, I'd 'slyly' unbuckle my seat belt long enough for the car to beep at me. He assumed (with a little help) that the beeping was J'onn J'onzz and Watchtower warning him to behave.

It was a highly effective 'game' until Rach made some comments about Mini-Me's literal belief in super heroes and I started to feel guilty about the long-term impact the ruse might have. Every once in a while, still, he'll hear the car beep or an odd noise in the house and he'll ask if Watchtower is watching.

This holiday season, we have an elf who sits on a shelf (or anywhere else he fancies) and reports back to Santa on the behavior of Mini-Me, The Wubster, and Mickey(TKNTD). The boys absolutely love hunting for Christopher Pop-in-Kins each day. It's harmless, right? Attempting to manipulate behavior with talk of Santa is an age-old trick. I don't feel my belief in Santa, the Easter Bunny, Captain VD, Abraham Lincoln, the Tooth Fairy, or the Justice League scarred me. I think I turned out alright.

It's just, a part of me worries about any irrevocable harm I might do.

I just want their lives to be perfect.

I just want their lives to be better than mine.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Oh Yeah I'm the Type of Guy that Likes to Roam Around

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
                                                                                       -Mark Twain
Rach and I are finally sitting back and relaxing after a whirlwind of a weekend that involved a great deal of house cleaning, kid wrangling, and Santa and Mrs. Claus hosting. We invited friends and family members over for our fifth annual Sunday with Santa, today, and the house is still abuzz with Christmas energy.

The event's always a good time, but it involves quite a bit of work on our part to make up for the months of focusing on the kids more than the cleaning. We had a lot of help, though, so everything worked out and it was fantastic seeing the kids (and adults) interacting with The Claus Clan.

Now, though, the kids are in bed dreaming of St. Nick's visit and we've kicked back to watch The Amazing Race and feed our wanderlust.

We're living vicariously through the teams racing around the world, because, with three young kiddos, we know our travel adventures are on hiatus. In the past, though, we've certainly made the most of our opportunities:
One of my first extended experiences with Rachel's family was a road trip that covered Niagara Falls, camping in Canada, U-Turning on the border bridge in front of a speeding semi, playing in Lake Michigan sand dunes, and returning home via a family reunion in Wisconsin.

For our honeymoon we explored the Mayan Riviera and their speeding taxis.

In 2004, we had a blast travelling from Naples to Rome to Florence to Bologna to Venice to Salzburg to Munich in a Volkswagen van with four other family members.

We've been to Hawaii four times, (twice with Mini-Me in tow and once with The Wubster), and plan to return in 2013 (with only adult friends...poor Mickey (the kid not the dog) will have to wait a bit for her turn).
 We've had fun feeding our wanderlust in the past and our dreams for the future involve travelling to Alaska, the Caribbean, Australia, Ireland, and anywhere else the winds might take us. For the near future, though, we'll be sticking to more kid-friendly road trips in the continental U.S. and, in the process, teaching our kids to love exploring the world as much as we do.

If we do nothing more as parents than teach them to explore, dream, and discover, we will have given them the best education possible.
Beyond the East, the sunrise,
Beyond the West, the sea,
And East and West the wanderthirst
Will not let me be.
                             -Gerald Gould

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I'm nowhere near as transparent as my kids.

They wear their emotions on their faces like they do their ice cream.

Sometimes it frustrates me (the emotions, not the ice cream). Do we really need to cry when the dog nudges past us? When a macaroni noodle falls in our lap? When we taunt our little brother to hit us and then he does?

Other times I think, maybe life would be better if we were all so transparent. We get good at hiding our emotions as we get older. So good, in fact, that those closest to us may never truly know what we're feeling.

Maybe we all need to spend a bit more time crying over spilt noodles.

Friday, December 3, 2010

We've Been Bamboozled!

 Everybody poops. It's a fact of life. I just never imagined how much time I'd spend in my adult life cleaning poop off the floor.

I feel like I've been bamboozled!

At no point in my middle or high school health or life science classes did they ever mention cleaning poop off the floor. Why is our education system failing our children? Because it's concealing the important truths of adulthood!

Rach and I began our path to parenting very logically: we started with a cat.

We raised the cat well, I think. She hasn't brought home any toms we disapprove of, her report cards have always been above average, and she's a reliable sitter on nights when Rach and I need to go out.

She does have two issues, though. One, she can be quick to lose her temper because she's randomly psycho...mainly around strangers and her maternal 'grandparents'. Two, she poops on the floor. We've tried everything short of kitty psychotherapy for this issue, but have resigned ourselves to cleaning the floor outside the litter box.

After we realized we could keep a cat alive, we added a Golden Retriever to the mix. Gracie has been wonderful. Her daughter, Meli, though, is a wild card.

Once again, we feel like we did our parenting duty well in raising the dogs. They're both well spoken, sharing their thoughts without hesitation, especially outside the house. They help out with chores, keeping the kitchen floors fairly clean, occasionally doing dishes, and quickly pointing out when we've left food, especially bread, where we shouldn't. Oh, and Meli loves surprises.

The problem is, she loves leaving them. Not that she does this as regularly as the cat, but Meli's been known to christen the carpet in order to welcome us home with otherworldly fragrances and stains. And always, always, always the carpet.

Of course, despite the minor issues that came with the cat (now cats) and dog (now dogs), we went ahead and added a kid (now kids).

Mini-Me was a champ when it came time to potty train. When he was two, he changed in-home day cares, going from individualized attention to a more social atmosphere. On day one, he spotted a jar of M&Ms and was told they were for good boys and girls who go on the potty. He immediately ran to a potty and sat down, much to the dismay of the kid already sitting there. Luckily he hadn't pulled his pants down and especially fortunate for that kid, he didn't 'go'. Despite that rough start, it didn't take long for him to master the process...he loves his 'M&Ms'.

The Wubster, on the other hand, is much less motivated by 'EmmnEmeeees.' He loves 'em, sure, but he's incredibly stubborn and independent. We thought he'd mastered the potty process a few weeks ago. He woke up in the morning with a dry pull-up, wore big boy underwear throughout the day, rarely had an accident. It was too easy those two weeks. Now he's back to thoroughly soaking himself at night AND during the day.

The main issue seems to be he gets caught up in whatever he's playing with and doesn't want the inconvenience of having to stop to go potty. He's also at the age where he's refusing to follow directions (is it considered an 'age' if it's constant from here on out?) and will purposely not go to the bathroom if you tell him to. When he does decide to 'go', he much prefers standing to sitting, which caused our first major predicament several mornings ago.

While standing on our bathroom scale to make it easier to 'fire away', he apparently also felt the urge to poop.

So he did.

On the scale.

Based on my previous posts regarding this subject, you'd probably assume I checked the weight of that load. It's a logical point. I would have. Unfortunately, I wasn't the one who happened upon the discovery. Rach isn't quite as inquisitive.

This morning, he bamboozled us again. Neither Rach nor I witnessed this because we were caught up in other aspects of the morning routine (which, admittedly, puts us at fault, too), but from the evidence discovered on site, we pieced together the following:
Upon being told to go potty, he made his way directly to the bathroom. His aim was off, though. Or his eyesight. Or maybe he'd read that urine is good for polishing bamboo floors. With an empty bladder, he headed  to his room for a new pull-up, spotted his closet, realized toys are more fun than wearing pants, realized not wearing pants was pretty fun, too, began playing, began pooping, continued playing.
Rach found him heading to the bathroom to wipe his butt, looked for signs of poop in the toilet, found none and figured he'd flushed the evidence, went to get him clothes and discovered the christening of the "Going To Grandma's" suitcase in the closet.

We made him clean up while I very closely supervised the retrieval and disposal of the contamination, but, really, it was me, once again, in the middle of a poop clean-up.

No one told me life was gonna be this way (admit just clapped), and I'm glad for that. Sure I've been bamboozled, but if I knew then how much sh*t I'd have to deal with as an adult and avoided it, life wouldn't be nearly as fun!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Life's but a Walking Shadow: Waxing Philosophic on Day Two

These days, I'm reading a number of "Dad Blogs." I enjoy seeing how other dads tackle writing about parenthood. They're amusing, I'm a dad, and, lately, I've been blogging, too, so it makes sense.  One of my favorites, Backpacking Dad, occasionally turns to philosophical topics, something I never figured I'd do on my blog.

Then this December Writing Challenge came along and already...on day two...philosophy plopped down into my lap to cuddle.

Today's word?
Yep, that's right...nihilism. I'm pretty sure we have CrazyBastard66 to thank for this.

To make sure I fully understood the word, I headed for the assistance of my friend, the Internet, and came across the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, upon whose pages I found the following:
Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy. While few philosophers would claim to be nihilists, nihilism is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche who argued that its corrosive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history.
While nihilism is often discussed in terms of extreme skepticism and relativism, for most of the 20th century it has been associated with the belief that life is meaningless. Existential nihilism begins with the notion that the world is without meaning or purpose. Given this circumstance, existence itself–all action, suffering, and feeling–is ultimately senseless and empty.
There's plenty more to know, but I'm going to push forward with the ideas in the last paragraph: "Existential nihilism begins with the notion that the world is without meaning or purpose."

I start each school year with a discussion of mythology in my AP Senior English class and we use Joseph Campbell's definition--mythology is a set of beliefs true to the people it is about--to guide our discussions. Every fall, then, I get the chance to ponder my beliefs. In doing so, I find myself dipping my toes into chilly thoughts of existence ultimately lacking meaning and purpose. These thoughts resurface later in the year when we watch as Macbeth reflects upon [spoiler alert!] his wife's death:
Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Thus, I sometimes end up as I did just the other day, in the home stretch of the daily pick-up adventure pondering the point of humanity. I imagined myself omnisciently watching us scurrying along the roads in our cars, hurrying from place to place, worrying about timeliness and pennilessness and  studliness and every other 'ness' we tend to feel is absolutely important.

I thought about the marvelous world on which we live.

I thought about the amazing set of circumstances needed to bring about life, and the fortuitous fact that they came together here (by some kindlier hand or not).

I thought about the vastness of the universe, which makes us seem so small and insignificant and meaningless.

I thought about the senselessness of all our noise...until a voice beckoned from behind:
Daddy,  why are there clouds?
I explained with more science than Mini-Me probably needed and, in doing so, was brought back into my reality.

A reality where three kids, one phenomenal wife, two Golden Retrievers, two cats, one Koi, and at least one damn mole guide my every decision.

A reality full of noisy little adventures that are funny, sad, frustrating, and inspiring.

A reality where it doesn't matter what place humans have in the greater scheme, because I know my place.

A reality where I have purpose and meaning.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The World is Wild and Bright

It's time for something new, what with this being the first day of the last month of the year. Why wait until January when everyone else starts making resolutions when we can make some changes now!?!

Not that I'm changing much.

I've enjoyed writing this past month, so I decided there'd be no better way to keep the fun going then to invite my coworkers/writing group buddies/awesome friends along for the ride. As I mentioned a couple posts ago, CrazyBastard66 and Dougy's Musings will be joining me in a OneWord-style challenge throughout the month of December. We each added ten words (or so) to a bowl from which I'll draw every day to provide our topic/inspiration/muse/headache. We didn't share the words in advance, so two-thirds of us will be 'surprised' by each draw. We also didn't establish any guidelines in terms of length or time limits, but we did establish that the word serving as inspiration must be used at least once in either the title or the body of the post. We also decided that, on the rare chance two of us might have selected the same word, the repeated word would be replaced by the current word on OneWord. If the current word on OneWord is the same as the repeated word, duck and cover the place is gonna blow!

So, what's the word tonight, you ask?

I've already told you. It's right there in front of you.

Since I'm nerding out and rushing to be the first to post, tonight, I'll be able to sit back and await the magic that's on its way. While I'm half entertaining The Wubster and half watching Mini-Me adjust his thigh-high soccer socks at practice, I'll be checking my phone for signs of tonight's other posts. As I'm settling my brain for a short winter's nap, I won't be dreaming of sugar plums, tonight--I'll be dreaming of a magical world where kids take long winter's naps...and a month of triply-exciting blog posts, of course.

Tonight's gonna be awesome!

Tonight's the start of something special!

Tonight's gonna change the world!

No pressure, guys...