Saturday, May 19, 2007

Play Ball

This evening Allie plopped a bag of baseballs down and handed me my ball glove. "Wanna go outside and play?"

I didn't hesitate.

If you come to my house and ask to have a catch, we will go outside and have a catch. Period. I don't care if it's the middle of winter, we'll head outside and have a catch. I'm like a dog with it's favorite tennis ball. If you throw it, I'll chase it into the lake.

We started out slow. Allie's still treats the ball as if it's covered in poop and razor blades. I kneel in the grass and gently toss the ball, underhanded, directly into her glove. Allie is about four feet away. As soon as she gets the ball she hurls it back at my face with as much force as she can muster.

Judging from the number of times I almost ate a baseball, her arm and aim has improved over the winter.

Julia showed up a few minutes into our catch. She was doing her best to insert herself into the situation by playing right next to me. Now, I can't say if it was a coincidence or maybe it was Allie's subconscious at work, but every where Julia's skull was, that's where Allie threw the baseball.

Julia would move left, Allie threw left. It wasn't subtle in the least. Fortunately Julia wasn't aware of the five or six times she came close to being beaned. I saved her each time with a well timed snag. Each time I looked at Allie who gave no indication that she was intentionally trying to kill her sister. But after the fourth throw I was pretty sure there was something going on.

Allie still throws like a girl so I'm anxious for her to improve. I'm thinking of making a helmet for Julia with a target painted on it. Allie should become the first female in the big leagues in no time.

There are some Syttende Mai photos in the photostream. Probably more to come tomorrow.

I have to go now. Not sure why, but I have a sudden craving for chives.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Dan and Kerry are Constantly Trying to Kill Each Other

The Beloit Snappers are a Class A minor league baseball club. Snappy is the Beloit Snappers mascot. Snappy is a big turtle who runs around the ball park and signs a surprising number of autographs.

Turns out, Julia is terrified of Snappy. This isn't a surprise. Julia is terrified of anything in a costume. Her reaction is always the same; she screams as if she's just been branded and clings to the biggest thing available (her mother, me, a park bench).

The stands at yesterday's ball game weren't very full which meant Snappy was on the hunt for anything under four feet tall. He came by our section three or four times. I had to move Julia away twice before she clawed her way into my chest in order to hide from Snappy inside the cavity she was trying to make.

Here's the thing: Julia's dream is to go to Disney World. Disney World - this planet's epicenter of all costumed creatures. Deb and I are talking about starting the planning process for a trip to Disney. I'm guessing we'll have to include a search for a small, pink hood that will easily fit over Julia's screaming head the moment Goofy makes a move in her direction.


This morning Julia yelled to me, "Daddy! Dan and Kerry are on TV! Look, Daddy! Dan and Kerry are on TV!"

I don't know why, but I thought she was watching a news report and there was another Tube bombing in London and Dan and Kerry just happened to be in town that day and they were being interviewed on CNN about what happened.

It's amazing the crap that can flash into your head in less than five seconds.

I walked over to Julia to see what was on the TV.

It wasn't Dan and Kerry. It was Tom and Jerry.

I wonder if this is related to the fact that Julia told us yesterday that when you die, you go to Evan.

Speaking of the Hughes. . . Look what Dan taught me how to do:

Friday, May 11, 2007

This Is All You Get

The drive home takes a little longer these days because bridge repairs have narrowed the Interstate to just one lane. Usually most drivers are smart and courteous enough to get over in the proper lane as soon as the road signs tell them what to do. That's why I thought it wouldn't be too much trouble to take the fast way home this evening.

I forgot it was Friday.

Friday is migration day. That's when Wisconsin is flooded with Illinois residents who come to our fair state to get away from their bleak environs. Don't get me wrong, I'm from Illinois and it's a beautiful state. But what we're really talking about is Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. It is indeed a gray, crowded place where they don't seem to teach people how to drive.

That explains why traffic was backed-up for miles on the Interstate. When the road wasn't a parking lot, traffic moved very slowly. My clutch hand was cramping up as I tried to keep the speedometer needle from moving past zero yet still keep the engine running and the bike itself from becoming parallel with the pavement.

At one point, a very large trucker hung his head out his window to strike up a conversation with me. "Trade places with ya!" he shouted. I held up my left hand and said, "I don't think you'd want that, my clutch hand is cramping up." He laughed and told me that I should make a U-Turn at one of the State Trooper turn-arounds that was coming up and find a different route. He said he saw a lady in a pickup do it just a minute ago. I said, "But that's illegal."

He told me not to be a pussy.

A few seconds later I was right next to the U-Turn. There was no traffic on the other side of the road. That's when I dove onto the little patch of concrete that connected both sides of the Interstate and hit the throttle. I didn't have to go fast. In fact, calling attention to myself like that was really stupid, but if I was going to break the law, I might as well throw up some gravel while I was doing it.


The plan was to segue from the traffic jam on the way home into something else that happened when I got home. But the post has now become about the traffic jam as I have forgotten the real reason why I started to blog this evening in the first place.

I'm sorry. You get what I intended to be merely a build up to the actual post. This is all you get.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I'd Rather Have Bon Bon Tag Me Before Marlin Perkins

Bon Bon tagged me.

My five obsessions:

I’m obsessed by not having enough obsessions
I’m not trying to be cute. I honestly spend a lot of time considering the fact that I dabble in a few activities but I’m not committed enough to actually cultivate a level of expertise in anything. I know people who, in addition to their vocations, are masterful writers, photographers, cooks, etc. These people choose one or two hobbies and become really good at them. I don’t know if it’s because I’m lazy or my short attention span but I would say I’m obsessed with gathering new hobbies in the hopes of finding one that sticks.

Even numbers
It may have something to do with a desire for symmetry. Regardless, everything I do has to end on an even number. The volume control number on the TV; the number of fruit snacks I steal from the girls; the number of times I knock on a door – they all have to be even numbers.

Keeping my kids warm
I don’t check on them as much these days but I still sometimes wake up panicked that one of the girls is shivering in her bed. I can’t stand the thought of either of them being cold at night. This is weird because I recall last year’s genius idea of giving Allie and Julia a bath with a bottle of shampoo and the garden hose in the back yard. I didn’t seem to mind all the screaming, shivering and blue lips at that time. In this case, I guess I could classify my concern for my kids’ warmth as more of a mood than an obsession.

Winning the lottery
This is closer to being a hobby than it is an obsession but once a month, I buy two lottery tickets. I buy one for the state drawing and a second for the much larger, multi-state affair that could mean hundreds of millions for one lucky winner. I then fantasize about what I would do with the money. After doing this for some time now, I think I’m ready to win. I’ve mentioned this fact to God so I imagine this next lottery purchase will produce the millions I’ve spent so much time considering.

Small, meaningless projects
It seems that if there is a project that will yield no particular benefit to anyone once completed, I will throw myself into said project and not stop until I achieve desired results. Good examples of these temporary obsessions would be anything to do with a computer, retrieving cover art for iTunes, installing car stereos and assembling Ikea furniture. I can’t let go. Really. . .

Five reasons I blog:

1) To make sure that Marcia and Judy know what they’re children and grandchildren are up to.

2) It’s helps rationalize spending dough on up-to-date technology. Deb, I hate to spend this kind of money, too. But we need to go wireless so I can blog from the toilet.

3) I blog because I feel guilty about my contribution to society’s abandonment of a need for community. My blog is a response to my apathy toward building honest, meaningful, face-to-face relationships with other people. It’s a sad attempt to connect with others when the truth is I’d rather be watching Ninja Warrior and reading about Lindsay Lohan’s self-destruction on YOU KIDS STAY THE HELL OUT OF MY YARD!

4) Now you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but I could type like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was ever going somewhere, I was blogging!

5) I blog so I can have a forum for telling the world how wonderful my wife is so when she reads it I'm almost guaranteed marital congress.

I'd tag someone, but I really don't know who to tag unless I tag Bon Bon back.

I wonder if Ninja Warrior is on. . .

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Tonight's Special: Canadian Elk with a Side of Barney

Allie's first sleep-over meant we were forced to present Julia with a reasonable compensation package that included a trip to Chuck E. Cheese's.

Deb and I hate Chuck E. Cheese's.

It's loud, the food truly sucks, you know every surface is covered with Ebolavirus and there's always at least one obnoxious kid who will shove your child to the ground and climb over her broken body to get to a skee ball ramp. That said, a trip to Chuck's is a small price to pay to avoid upsetting the delicate balance of sibling equity. If we didn't, one of our kids would feel less loved than the other causing her to immediately turn to a crack pipe to provide the nurturing mommy and daddy would not.

This time Debbie had the brilliant idea to have dinner before we went to Chuck E.'s. I don't know why I thought this was against the rules. I honestly thought Chuck E. Cheese's hired enforcers who would throw your ass out if you didn't eat their sucky pizza before letting your kid play Whack-A-Mole for three straight hours.

We wound up at a fairly nice place. There was no kid's menu, the soup of the day was a tomato bisque with blue cheese and caramelized onions and the waiter had a crumb scraper so I'm thinking this was the alternate universe version of Chuck E. Cheese (like Spock with a goatee).

We were there early so there were a lot of nicely dressed old people quietly eating dinner with us. It was nice. Although we did hear the couple next to us say that someone named John would definitely get diarrhea if he ate there because of all of the antibiotics he's apparently taking. Julia was fairly well behaved considering the fact that we didn't order her anything to eat. We are bad parents. But we knew that ordering her a $17 cheese toasty would mean it would just sit on her plate. After all, she told us that she wasn't hungry and just nibbled on the bread that came before our appetizers. We are bad parents.

But we're not as bad as the lady two tables away from us who plopped down a DVD player in front of her daughter so she could eat her meal in peace. COME ON. This kid was probably three and carried on a conversation with everyone at her table. Not that we had her health records available, but this little girl didn't seem to have any unusual behavioral problems, she was just your standard issue unreasonable three year-old (similar to the one we were sitting with). But obviously she was unruly enough to require electronic intervention to keep her from screaming obscenities and pulling every one's dinner plates on to the floor.

It just seemed a little over the top. They kept the DVD player's volume low, but it still seemed downright rude to make everyone endure Barney. After all, they paid a lot of money to eat bisque and get their crumbs scraped. Maybe the DVD player was the only way this woman thought she could get out and have a nice dinner. I shouldn't say much because every parent knows that once you've endured one of your kid's complete meltdowns you'll never be judgemental of another parent's solution to pacifying his or her kids. But this DVD thing seemed like a bad choice.

If you're going to risk taking your kid to a nice restaurant, then you should probably have established the look with your child. The look is the expression you put on your face that tells your kid that if she doesn't do what you tell her to do there will be a small nuclear detonation that will destroy everything she's ever loved (including Chuck E. Cheese's). If you don't have the look, take your kid out for noodles while you work on developing the look. Leave the DVD player at home.

I have very little wiggle room to preach. Julia wasn't perfect while we dined. She was out of her seat and kind of loud at times. But I'm pretty sure her behavior wasn't as disruptive as low level Barney sounds.

By the way, Julia screamed bloody murder when we tried to go into Chuck E. Cheese's. She was afraid of the robots. She didn't want anything to do with the robots. We finally got her into the place but only after promising her that we'd stay well away from the robots. She stopped screaming and had a relatively good time. Maybe she would have stopped sooner if we had soothed her with a little Curious George via portable DVD. Hard to say.