Friday, June 25, 2004

Chronic Masticators

I was going to write about taking Allie and Julia shopping today. The problem is I just finished reading Lilek's Bleat where he described a day at the mall with his daughter. My post would have been pretty much the same stuff, right down to the kid friendly staff at Bath & Body Works, only you'll find much better writing in The Bleat.

I will tell you we went to Noodles for lunch. If we're going shopping you can pretty much bet Allie will want to get Macaroni & Cheese at Noodles & Company. I suppose it's understandable. Noodles was the first restaurant we were brave enough to take Allie to right after she was born. Typing that makes me think back to what cautious parents Deb and I were. The contrast between how we handle our second child compared to our first is staggering. Where once we practically encased Allie in a hypoallergenic, antibacterial, Nerf cocoon we now allow Julia to scoop food out of strangers' mouths and juggle steak knives.

Lunch with my daughters takes about an hour and a half to two hours. You'd think it'd be the baby that slows every thing down. It's not. Allie eats slowly. She chews each morsel until she breaks it down to its most rudimentary elements. In fact, Fermilab considered abandoning accelerators and bringing in my daughter to isolate a few sub atomic particles for them. When they found out how long it would take they went back to old technology.

I should be happy she's a good chewer. However Allie's at the age when I need to remind her to eat with her mouth closed. This means most of the time she's not only chewing each bite a bazillion times, but she's doing it loudly. Watching her eat a single macaroni noodle can be maddening. A piece of meat would push anyone over the edge. Taffy could very well mean death for even the most patient and hardy among us.

I'm guessing the little teeth in her head are like diamonds.

Speaking of chewing, Allie's not the only one in the family who was using her teeth today. This afternoon, at the sporting goods store, I was trying on a pair of shoes. Julia and Allie sat on the floor while I looked for the right-sized Nikes. You see, I had given up on putting Julia in her umbrella stroller. Julia discovered she could corkscrew her way out of the stroller's straps. So I decided I'd just carry her from place-to-place. That's why they were on the floor. That's why Julia decided to go exploring. That's why you'll probably hear Deb and I refer to our daughter as Magellan from time-to-time.

Julia's fast. The first time she took off Julia got a good twenty feet away from Allie and me. On her third escape attempt I asked Allie to corral her. Allie did her best. In fact, she threw her body in front of Julia to try to get her to stay put. Julia just kept crawling over her sister until they looked like they were wrestling. Then I heard Allie scream, "SHE BIT ME! DADDY SHE BIT ME!"

Allie ran over to me looking absolutely shocked. I didn't think it could have been too bad and, in fact, I was giggling a little at both kids. Then I saw tears roll down Allie's face. She pulled up her sleeve and showed me how Julia had left four little indentations where she sank her four little fangs into her sister.

I kept giggling.

I know it wasn't the right response but Julia's willingness to use any means possible to get by her sister stuck me as funny. The more I laughed, the more Allie tried not to laugh. Allie wanted retribution. I saw Allie look at her sister, then back at me. She decided it was funny started to laugh. "BAD GIRL! YOU'RE A BAD GIRL!" Allie said.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering why I think this kid-bites-kid story is blog-worthy.

I don't.

But now I'm tired of typing and that means I won't write much about how I scared the shit out of a lady today. This was after she mouthed the word asshole at me as I happen to glance at her in my rearview mirror. I'll just say:

I didn't deserve the nasty comment.

She was driving like a maniac.

I hope I made her crap her pants.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Sunday I wrote a Father's Day post on the the computer in Allie's room. There's not a lot of productivity software on Allie's computer. In fact, the closest thing to a word processor is her Disney Princess Datebook. So I used the old Mac's notepad to describe Julia eating soap. I thought I'd really play it old school and use a floppy disk to sneakernet the file down here to the computer in the basement.

This computer doesn't have a floppy drive.

I spent 45 minutes trying to get an old CD burner to work on Allie's Mac. No luck. That means no Father's Day blog.

No big loss. However I've still got Father's day on my mind. After all, I had a great time. I was served breakfast in bed and got presents (a card, a Coolest Daddy T-Shirt and the third season of the Simpsons on DVD). I'm grateful not only to my wonderful wife and kids, but to Sonora Dodd.

Sonora got the ball rolling on Father's Day. A little Googling reveals Mother's Day came first (well of course it did). In the U.S. the first Mother's Day was celebrated in 1872. It wasn't until 1909 that Sonora Dodd came up with the idea for the holiday.

She was listening to a Mother's Day sermon and decided there should be a special day to honor her father, William Smart. William, who was a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife died while giving birth to their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington state.

Six kids. On his own. . .

I'm thinking this guy deserved a really nice tie. Sonora did too so she organized the first Father's Day celebration in June (William was born in June) in Spokane.

I've been to Spokane. I don't remember seeing any signs or anything.

President Calvin Coolidge, in 1924, probably didn't give a crap about Sonora's dad deserving a nice tie but he did support the idea of a national Father's Day. However, it wasn't until 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father's Day.

I was born in 1966.

Born to be a Dad?

Probably not.

But I am trying. For example: I'm cutting way back on tormenting. I haven't brought up Allie's imaginary sister, Carol, in months. And I haven't (intentionally) called Allie by the wrong name in weeks. I do admit to trying to convince Allie that her mother wasn't really on her way to the grocery store but was, in fact, leaving to find a new place to live. Allie, Julia and Pig would stay in the old house while Deb and I would live in the new house.

Allie didn't buy it. So that definitely doesn't count as tormenting.

The only kid I've intentionally pissed off lately is Julia and that's only for her own protection. After eating soap she also ate quite a large amount of green sidewalk chalk which I had to dig out of her mouth with my fingers. A lid from a lip balm almost made it down her throat and I had to drag her away from the basement stairs three times. I had to repeatedly protect the plants on the baker's rack in the kitchen and finally hid the wine cork collection in the dining room.

So I am working hard, trying to live up to breakfast in bed and my Simpson DVD collection. That's not exactly a cake walk considering I already know I've got more than I deserve.

However, regardless of how grateful I am I'm still working on a plan to convince Allie the cat is hiding all of her toys at night.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

You know you've been working when you look inside your Kleenex and find dirty mucous. This time it was the dust and grime that flew up in the air as I cleaned out the garage last night.

I remember our garage when we first moved into the house. It smelled like fresh-cut lumber. It smelled new. It doesn't smell new anymore. Too much dirt, motor oil, gasoline, lawn chemicals, spilt milk from the recycling bin and general ooze has collected on, and become one with, the concrete. These days the garage sometime smells like garbage and rotten lawn clippings and the recent high humidity doesn't help matters.

Actually, it's not that bad. It's pretty typical, if not a bit cleaner than the average garage in our neighborhood. However this is not the first time I noticed that our garage's scent was changing for the worse. About three years ago I went to a local convenience store to fill-up our old Jetta. When I went in to pay the woman behind the counter recognized me as a regular customer. "Could you drive my mother home?" she asked. I remember her mother's half-hearted smile as I contemplated the question. I thought it was a strange request to make of a stranger, but I agreed to drive the lady home.

Turns out the Jetta had been sitting in the garage along with some rather smelly garbage that day. The convenience store mother got into my car and I could tell, by the way she looked like she was choking back vomit, she noticed that my car didn't smell very good. It was a cold day and she asked if she could crack the window. This woman didn't speak much English so she didn't say much to me. She just tilted her head toward the little quarter inch crack she made. It reminded me of films I've seen of cattle packed in rail cars struggling for breath.

She seemed very relieved when I dropped her off. I'm pretty sure she still thinks I live in complete filth.

I don't go to her store anymore.

The garage is cleaner now. I even caught a hint of that "new garage" smell as I swept away the dirt and loaded bags full of trash. One thing I couldn't throw away was our old "For Sale By Owner" sign. In fact, I put in the front yard for awhile. In the course of about an hour four cars slowed down to look at our home. A neighbor asked why we were leaving and a nosy lady I didn't recognize asked me how much we wanted for the house. I truly wanted to screw with the nosy lady. Are you in the market for a new home? We're asking 1.6 million because of all the fantastic upgrades inside. Is that within the range you had in mind? What's your name? How about your home number? How much is your current home worth? Some of the more unusual amenities in the house aren't conducive to small children or pets. Is that a problem? What were you planning for a down payment? I can call you with more details.

Deb filled out her police report yesterday. She was in an auto accident yesterday. A 70-year-old lady in a Cadillac scraped the tail end of our Mazda. It was entirely Cadillac lady's fault. Deb made that very clear in the diagram she drew of the accident. I won't write anymore about it. I'm sure Deb will want to mention it in her blog.

I bet the Cadillac lady's garage smells awful.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Last night I saw Blue Man Group for the second time. Tickets were $95. That's a lot of money and I'm not sure spending it to see a performance for the second time was worth it. However I'm not too keen on spending similar amounts of money to see Danny Gans, Wayne Newton or, ulp, Celine Dion.

There's always Cirque Du Soleil. They have a show at every casino on the strip. Even the Motel 6 has their own version called Cirque Du Six. I've seen it. They get six day laborers to wear ill-fitting full body leotards and writhe over one another in time to the Titanic soundtrack. I'm pretty sure their stage converts to a free breakfast bar each morning.

Last night I talked with a guy, who looked to be in his early twenties, who was on his way to Phoenix for his new six-figure corporate job in the agriculture industry. Actually I'm pretty sure every word out of this person's mouth was an exaggeration or a lie. We were sitting at the bar so we could get our food faster and get to our show. That meant I'd set myself up for yet another communal dining experience. Except this time I didn't want to talk to this guy. I wanted to eat my hamburger and go watch some Blue Men spurt Twinkies out of their chests. But I listened to him go on about selling hundreds of BMWs, the pre-mature end of his military career, how creepy Roswell, New Mexico is and how he could get us into some exclusive club after the show.

Blue Man Group was good. I'm happy that my sister-in-laws loaded me up with Blueman merchandise for my birthday last year. I've got the T-shirt, a snazzy watch and a cool desk clock. Now that I've seen the Blue Men for a second time I'm officially a groupie. Only I don't think I'll be trying to get backstage by offering the roadies sexual favors.

They don't have roadies.

More on Las Vegas later. . .

Monday, June 07, 2004

Las Vegas is hot. 105 degrees hot. My lilly white skin has already turned pink despite the fact that I've been indoors for the majority of my first day here. Walking outdoors from building-to-building made me think about how those little cakes would feel if we actually let Allie use her Easy-Bake oven.

Dinner last night was at a Benihana. We sat with three graying couples who had driven to Vegas from California on their motorcycles. The guy I was sitting next to was telling me about a motorcycle accident he recently had that almost killed him. He went on about cracked ribs, broken collar bones exposed tendons and a huge blood blister that caused massive infections throughout his body. "I've got a hole in my calf you can fit a golfball into," he told me.

Let's eat!

They were nice people. Hole-in-his-calf guy told me he owned a couple of construction companies. Judging from the thousands of dollars worth of watches he and his wife were wearing his companies were doing well. I even got the feeling he was planning to buy our dinner until he asked if we were on an expense account.

After dinner we hit the main drag and took a look around a couple of the larger casinos. I'm not a gambler. I don't make enough money to enjoy being careless with it. Not to say that I haven't sat down at a blackjack table. I understand the appeal. But for me there's no thrill in winning. Gambling is always an exercise in getting pissed off at a slot machine for taking my quarters. I gamble because I'm too stubborn to leave until I've beaten the thing into coughing up my dough. That's far too hostile an approach so I'll look for other entertainment while I'm in town.

My foot hurts. That's not good considering I'll be doing a great deal of standing over the next few days. I had to perform surgery to remove a splinter that embedded itself in my heel the day before I left. No pus so far but I'm expecting it to burst forth any day now. I'll keep you posted.

I forgot to call Shannon to wish him a happy birthday. If you read my last post you know that Deb and I aren't the best with birthday greetings. I'll try to call him before I head to work today.

I don't think I'd want to bring my family here to Vegas. But there have been plenty of moments already when I wished that Deb was here. Last night, watching the big fountain in front of the Bellagio spray water in time to Pavarotti, was one of those times. I hate opera, but it was romantic and I wanted to hold Deb's hand. Instead I tried to hold the hand of the guy I was with, but I could sense he was a little uncomfortable being my surrogate.

More on Vegas later. . .

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Pam's Birthday Interview

Pam recently celebrated a milestone birthday.

Pam just turned 60 last week.

Below is a transcript of a recent conversation I may have had with Pam:

Me: So how does it feel to be 60?
Pam: Great! I can't believe how good I feel at such an advanced age.
Me: Well you look fairly okay. What's your secret?
Pam: I eat lawn clippings.
Me: Really?
Pam: No. Actually I do a blood sacrifice to the dark lords every full moon.
Me: Really?
Pam: No.
Me: Oh. Well. . . As you look back on your life do you have any regrets?
Pam: I'd have to say my only regret is not buying my brother-in-law a motorcycle.
Me: Which brother-in-law?
Pam: The really cute one.
Me: I can understand how painful a burden that might be. But you know, it's never too late to correct the mistakes of the past.
Pam: I completely agree. In fact, do you have the number for the local BMW dealership?
Me: Why yes. I just happen to have it right here.
Pam: It must be kismet!
Me: It must be. But let's get back to turning 60. What's the best thing about being so old?
Pam: All the great discounts. I save like mad on everything from movie tickets to early bird dinners at Dennys.
Me: Any advice for other women your age?
Pam: A fiber laxative has made a real difference in my outlook.
Me: I see.
Pam: Yeah, once you get past 57 the old GI tract needs a little kick in the giddyup, if you know what I mean.
Me: No, fortunately, not yet.
Pam: Well, you'll get there, someday. In the meantime take good care of your bowels. Treat them right.
Me: That's good advice at any age.
Pam: Amen, brother!

Unfortunately Pam dozed off at this point and our conversation came to an abrupt end. I quietly placed a soft cloth under her chin to catch all the drool. As I tiptoed away I softly said, "Happy Birthday, Pam!"

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Home Improvement

The new movie, "Tiles" is now available. Just click on the "Multimedia" link in the gallery that asks for a password.

WARNING: This file is large (2.4MB) and the content is dull. . .

What did you expect from a movie called, "Tiles"?