Monday, January 31, 2005

One Note Short

I burnt myself on an Easy-Bake Oven pan yesterday.

It's embarrassing. After all, these little light bulb boxes have every anti-burn device NASA, the Pentagon and Hasbro's R&D team have ever developed built into them. Aside from the mini Halon system, they even supply a thirty-foot push rod to keep little fingers from even being in the same room while manipulating their tiny pans of bulb baked joy.

Allie asked me to watch and make sure her pan didn't fall out the unit's cooling chamber as she moved it out of the baking chamber. She moved the pan with the push rod and as it came out of the oven I reached for the pan to make sure it stayed in the center of the cooling chamber.


Sorry. But that's what I said as I grabbed the tip of my left ring finger. That was the part of my body that barely touched the bottom of the pan that had obviously been heated to seventy thousand degrees Fahrenheit by the 100 watt bulb.

I think Deb laughed at me. I don't really remember because I was too busy waiting for the skin on my finger to bubble up and melt before my eyes (it didn't). I'm pretty sure I did hear her say, "Duh" after I said something like, "That thing's HOT!"

I didn't even look at Allie. The oven was a gift she got during her birthday party on Saturday. She turned five. I had pulled what I'm sure Allie would regard as something a toddler would do. So I knew I'd catch her looking at me as if I'd just started braying while I sprouted big jack-ass teeth and ears.

I just shuffled past her into the living room, sat on the couch and stared at my finger. Allie offered to kiss it and make it feel better. I declined. I didn't deserve treatment. I just wanted to sit quietly while the infection became systemic and slowly, painfully killed me.

I think Allie had a good fifth birthday weekend. Friday featured swimming at Grandma and Grandpa Leege's hotel. Saturday was party day complete with Hello Kitty cake. Sunday evening she went to a big McDonald's playland and crawled around in huge plastic tubes for 57 minutes (I timed her).

This evening Allie and I did thank you notes. We're one short. If you don't get a Hello Kitty thank you then you'll know you're the one with the special note.

She looked really grown up while she signed her notes. I won't get maudlin on you again but I'll miss four-year-old Allie. I'm sure I'll love five-year-old Allie even more (if that's possible) but I wouldn't object to a just a little more time with our four-year-old girl.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Ice Water Eliminates Fat

A corner of the basement is slowly being converted into a gym. I've moved the Nordic Track next to the treadmill. The old Everlast is once again hanging from a floor joist in the mechanical room. Three or four joists down you'll find a chin-up bar. There are various free weights lying around waiting for some action.

I've actually been using this stuff. Over that last couple of weeks I've oozed sweat all over the treadmill and Nordic Track eight or nine times. Allie spent one evening downstairs with me. During the commercial breaks in her cartoons she would act as my personal trainer. She counted push ups and barked words of encouragement. How you feeling, Dad? You're doing great! Let's get some exercise so you won't be fat.

I'm not in horrible shape. While I'm on the treadmill or the Nordic Track I'm working. There's no slacking because the little Polar monitor I strap on beeps at me every time my heart rate drops below whatever threshold it's decided I need to maintain in order to benefit from my workout.

I just edited that last sentence because I used the word fucking five times the first time I typed it. That how I genuinely feel but there's no need to bombard you with profanity to get my point across. But I really do hate that fucking monitor sometimes.

For two weeks I made myself healthy lunches and did a fair job of watching what I ate.

No results.

This week, I haven't done shit.

Deb tried to get me to go downstairs and workout last night. I've asked her to motivate me to get off my ass and usually she's effective. Last night I was having none of it.

So now I'm searching for motivation. There's the whole, teary eyed I want to be healthy so I can keep up with my kids and be around for my family later in life. That's not going to do it for me. I can keep up with my kids. In fact, I can wear their little asses out when necessary. And while the desire to be around for Deb and the girls later in life should work for me, long-term goals become wispy when confronted by a short-term double cheeseburger.

Fear. That's the key. The plan is Deb hires some goons to kick the crap out of me every time I miss a workout or eat ten BBQ ribs when four would do. Nothing extreme. No missing teeth or fractured orbitals. No kidnapping of relatives (read Stephen King's Quitter's, Inc.). I'd get thrown around a little, maybe the wind knocked out of me a couple of times along with a promise they'll be back if I'm spotted anywhere near a Krispy Kreme.

In fact, it wouldn't really even need to be taken to that extreme. All it would take would be a little ice water applied unexpectedly if Deb doesn't think I'm working hard enough. If I knew that having a week similar to this (no workout, no watching what I eat) could lead to being roused from bed in the middle of the night by a cup of ice water I might get to work.

Uh. Deb. Please let me know if you read this. I need to clarify a few things.

Monday, January 17, 2005

An Alarming Amount of Blood

Deb asked me if I was interested in seeing her wiggle Allie's tooth around in an effort to free it. I was in the bedroom watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I was torn. Should I see the makover family's new Kenmore appliances from Sears or witness a major milestone in my daughter's physical development?

I kept watching TV.

After a while I heard sounds of minor torture coming from the kids' bathroom so I had to check it out. I half expected to see Debbie hovering over Allie asking her, "Is it safe?" Instead I found them both just staring at Allie's loose tooth in the mirror.

Rather than just look at the thing I decided to see just how loose the tooth was. I wiggled it. I could feel it loosely squish around in her gum. I gave it a firm tug and felt a piece of whatever flesh was left tethering the tooth give way. I knew it would only take one or two more good wiggles. I moved the tooth back and forth then left to right. The left to right movement resulted in more significant tearing. In fact I felt the last bit of tissue give away with a silent snap and the tooth was out.

I looked at the little red hole the tooth came out of and it began to pool with blood. A lot of blood. I think Allie saw the look on my face and started to panic a little. I stuffed the little, bloody hole with tissue. The blood kept coming. I'd take the tissue away and the hole would immediately gush red. By now, her mouth was awash in blood and Allie could see it in the mirror.

Not good.

Deb gave her a Dixie Cup full of water. Allie took a drink and noticed the water turned pink. Finally I told the hemorrhaging girl to close her mouth and swallow the blood. She did. That was the beginning of the end of the bleeding.

Deb and I made a big deal out of the event. Truth is, it was a big deal for all of us. As I listened to Allie call her Grandparents and tell them (in exhaustive detail) about her tooth shedding I got sad. That sadness carried over into the morning. At work I sat at my desk and thought about when I had to be careful of the ceiling when I tossed Allie into the air. Now I have to be careful I don't tear a tendon when I throw her around.

As I mentioned to Debbie earlier in the day; I know we're gaining something wonderful each time we leave one of Allie's youthful personas behind. That doesn't help much with the lump in my throat I get when thinking about this particular milestone.

In just 31 weeks, Allie starts Kindergarten.

If I think things are bad now, in 31 weeks the freakin' lump is probably going kill me.

So what's the going rate for a first tooth these days?

Deb looked around the house and came up with two Sacagawea golden dollar coins plus Allie got to keep her tooth. Turns out the first one is a special tooth or so says Deb, the Tooth Fairy's Official Spokesperson.

I'm pretty sure she's right.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Allie Art

Allie saw my recent drawing of Julia and wanted to post a little art of her own. Here it is (signed and everything):

She's not evil. She's four.

Allie tripped Julia last night. Julia was toddling along and Allie stuck her foot out at just the right time. Julia fell to the floor and cried a little. It probably would have been a very satisfying moment for Allie if her mother hadn't witnessed the incident.

"Did you do that on purpose?" Debbie asked.

Allie started crying and admitted to intentionally causing her sister to hit the Berber.

I'm always surprised at how readily Allie reveals she has succumbed to the little devil on her shoulder. It's hard not to be cynical, even of a pre-schooler. But so far Allie has been unfailingly forthright. This makes her, more than likely, the most trustworthy among the members of our family who can communicate without grunting or biting.

Notice my careful wording.

Allie's willingness to admit her sins could actually make her the most cunningly devious person in the house. She may have carefully constructed a ruse of minor confessions to bolster her credibility. It's the perfect way to throw her mother and me off the trail when we investigate more egregious crimes (such as the recent case of the missing MP3 player).

I don't have any reason to be so paranoid. After all, stern declarations of disappointment from us and no ice cream wasn't enough penance for Allie. Once she stopped sobbing, Allie fixed a pitiful look on her face and placed herself backwards on the couch. She stared at the cushions and quietly punished herself. Deb and I looked at each other and realized where those Greenpeace volunteers who throw themselves between a whale and a Japanese harpoon come from.

No, that's not right. Allie's not a trendy martyr in the making. I should have written something like, Deb and I looked at each other and realized where obsessive compulsive Lutherans with slight facial ticks come from.

Nope. That doesn't quite capture it either.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Walk. Walk. Squat.

Allie’s latest song goes something like this:

Love will make you stand on a chair.
Love will make you comb your hair.
Love will make you wash your toes.
Love will make you puke like a dog.


Allie, Julia and I played out in the snow on Saturday. While Allie shoveled and played News (she was a reporter named, Jenny, broadcasting live from a blizzard) I followed Julia up and down the sidewalk and out into the street.

Julia could have given a shit about the snow. In fact, judging from the way she shrieked every time she touched the stuff, she hated the snow.

She was just happy to be out of the house. She took off down the middle of the street as if she’d been released from a flaming kennel. She’d stop, every now and again, to do what I call the Toddler Squat. It’s the sudden deep knee bend she did to check out whatever anomaly there was in the snow. It had a rhythm to it. Walk. Walk. Squat (bottle cap). Walk. Walk. Squat (piece of foil). Walk. Walk. Squat (Uh, is that what I think that is? Oooo. Julia, get away. Don't touch, Julia).

She was slowing traffic. Not because she was in the middle of the road, but because people were slowing down to see what she was. Julia was pretty much all coat with feet at the bottom. She’s wearing Allie’s old coat and it’s much larger than she is. Here, I drew you a picture:

Monday, January 03, 2005


Dear Fourth Floor Janitorial Staff:

Today, as I approached the first urinal from the left in my usual restroom, I noticed four "adult hairs" perched on the lower lip of the receptacle. They seemed to spell out the word LISO.

This bothered me.

I tried to eliminate the word with the most convenient means possible. Unfortunately, some of my means dribbled on to the floor.

I'm sorry.