Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Memorial Weekend

Before the extended weekend even got here we got some really good storms. A nice hard rain on Wednesday. And then more of the same on Thursday with a "Tornadic cell" that went just North of Jasper and was headed straight to Celestine before it died out.

Luckily things dried up before the weekend. Did the backyard camping thing with the girls and my brother and nephew on Saturday night. It wasn't too hot. This was their first time and we had to do the basics...

Grill hotdogs

Roast Marshmallows

Make Smores

Tell campfire stories

Go for a midnight (okay, it was really on 10pm) walk with flashlights

The kids also liked helping put up the tent. Kelly wanted to bet me $50 that at least one kid wouldn't make it all night in the tent. I didn't know what to expect so I couldn't take the bet. But they all made it through the night with everyone sleeping soundly until 7am.

Sunday afternoon we tried to go fishing. But I picked a really bad spot. It was too far to walk to and offered no protection from the shade. The sun was beating down and we were dying. We had packed a picnic lunch but there was no way that was happening. Jacob was the only one that wasn't ready to go. But after 30 minutes McKenna was almost in tears she was so hot. So we retreated back to the cool confines of the basement and laid out our picnic lunch there.

The evening was spent at the pool. The kids could live there. Really. I don't know how they do it. But after 2 hours McKenna was getting a headache. And we needed to start getting back home for dinner. The kids talked about how they wanted to go camping again. They were all in agreement to go again. But I kept telling them "we'll see."

Evening is getting late we decided to eat leftovers. As I am getting stuff out for dinner the kids are watching some tv. Ends up Mara falls asleep on the couch without dinner and McKenna falls asleep on Mara's bed (watching someone play on the computer) without dinner. Poor kids. No camping Sunday night.

Monday was nice as we got to spend the day with Momma. We don't get to do that much. We didn't do a whole lot but did go swimming again that evening. Momma was mean to my babies. Splashing them and dunking them.

Yesterday Kelly and the girls went to Mt. Carmel. McKenna got dropped off with Aunt Kasara afterwards. Tonite Kelly's parents will bring her back and come watch Mara's second Tee-ball game.

My Top 5 ...

... Most Dreaded House Chores

1. Putting away girls clothes - I think this my least favorite. But since I never do it, it is hard to remember. Plus Kelly has banned me from doing it (I'm not sure if I don't hang it up right or if it is because I can't tell whose clothes is whose). So it is a win-win. Oh, and I didn't mention the VOLUME of clothes those kids go through.
2. Cleaning the kitchen floor - I gotta admit to not doing this one much either. And boy do the girls ever trash up the floor. It could get swept and mopped every day and still look trashed come bed time.
3. Ironing - I don't think this should even be included as Kelly or I neither iron. Ever. Unless there is like a wedding or a funeral. We both hate it.
4. Bathrooms - I hate cleaning bathrooms. Just a pain to clean around the sinks. Then you have the kamode and tub. It's just yucky. And now that the cleaning lady is gone Kelly may ask that I share in some of this pain.
5. Picking up the basement - If the kids are allowed to go too long without cleaning the basement it gets bad. I mean World War I mine field bad. Very scary.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Over the Hedge, Tee-ball, and the Sprinkler

Friday night we went out to eat and hit a movie. Opening weekend for Over the Hedge. The girls had been bombarded with enough advertising to kill a small mammal. So we had to go. Not that KJ and I were complaining. But it seems like years since I've seen a movie for adults. The movie was good (I put it above Madagascar and The Wild) but not great. Kids were good. So it was a good night.

Saturday, Mara had her first Tee-ball game at noon. Girls had a late breakfast so I figured we could eat afterwards. As typical, we were running behind of when I wanted to leave. Getting three girls going in the same direction is impossible. What are we going to do when they actaully start wearing makeup and stuff!?!?!

We got to the park right at noon. I was glad to see that the other game was still playing and Mara's team was warming up with some pitch-n-catch. Mara got her softball shirt. Number 6. She looked so cute.

Game starts and Mara's team, the Diamonds, bat first. Mara is the first to bat. They get three chances off the pitching machine and then they bat off the tee. Mara didn't get a hit off the machine. But I was impressed that her timing was better. Before she was practically swinging at the ball after it had passed the plate. She nailed her first swing off the tee and easily got to first. And even if a kid is tagged out, they still get to run all the bases. Each side bats their entire lineup with the last person running all the bases after they get their hit. Each team batted twice and the game was over. Mara really seemed to enjoy it.

While she was playing. The girls were getting hungry. Concession stand had hotdogs and hamburgers so I let them get lunch while we watched Mara. With McKenna getting a cheeseburger (with extra cheese) and Micah getting this huge hot dog, I didn't bother getting anything for myself knowing I'd be finishing off about half of each.

Mara got done and got a cheese burger too. All three girls were great at sitting and eating while we watched the second game. Surprisingly all of them finished their food and said they were still hungry. Nachos and cheese to the rescue. With of course Micah and McKenna just wanting to dip their fingers in the cheese sauce.

As it always is with these girls, they were making friends out of strangers. Kelly would have died if she had seen me just let them run around like I did. But I let them play without standing over them. And I always knew where they were... well, at least most of the time. :)

That evening I grilled out porkchops. And while I was grilling I had a horrible pain in my stomach. Then it finally dawned on me... I forgot to eat lunch. I was going to eat leftovers from the girls but they ate it all. Well, its not like I'd hurt me to miss a meal or two. lol I hate to brag, but I'll do it anyway... those were some damn find chops! KJ even said so, and she isn't shy about telling me when things aren't right (which I don't mind and actually like). And the girls all wanted seconds of the chops.

Sunday was a lazy day. Normally we would hit Wal-mart about once a week. But after the last blood bath there I wasn't ready to go back. After lunch, I broke out the sprinkler for the girls. It was nice out and didn't think it would be too cool. I cleaned out the van while they played. I still can't figure out how three little girls can bring so much dirt and yuck into the van. I swear i vacuumed for a solid hour. And then cleaning and armoralling for another hour.

The girls were having fun laying out on their towels and reading magazines (which consisted of an x-ray tech publication and an accounting one as well as some Disney flyers). They also hit the trampoline some too. And the swingset.

But later afternoon they came back inside to rest and watch The Muppet Show. It was then that I realized that I didn't put any sunscreen on the girls. Ugh! Momma is gonna kill me!!!

Around 5 they are hungry so I give them some cheese for a snack. Within 15 minutes Mara is coming to me telling me she has a headache. She looks like she is in alot of pain. I get in the medicine cabinet and get out some of the pink stuff. Don't ask me what it is... but it IS for headaches. I poor some in a cup and it comes out in a glob. Yuck! Nothing else in the cabinet. What to do? I let her drink the glob.

She is in alot of pain. Doesn't want a wash cloth. Doesn't want touched. And within a couple minutes she is puking in the sink. I ask her if she wants to lay down in the shower (her favorite place to be when she is sick). But she asks to sleep on our bed. I tuck her in and get her a puke bucket. Kelly was wondering if it was possibly a migraine although it didn't seem like she had the normal side effects that go with. But it just seemed really odd that she had such a horrible headache right before. But by dinner time she had rested up and felt good enough to eat.

This week I go pick up a tent from a friend. The girls and I, along with Uncle Brian and J-man, are planning some backyard camping for this weekend. Need to plan on some hot dog roasting and smores!! :)

Top 5 of the day... Movies I could watch over and over again (granted these aren't Favorite Movies of all time. Just those that I can't seem to turn off when they show up on TV.
Ever After – I think I’m secretly in love with Drew Barrymore. I love watching her in any movie. Well, except for ET. But what I really like is “period” movies. Anything that takes place from like 1500-1700 is cool. I don’t know how Kelly slept through The Three Musketeers.
The Princess Bride - "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." This is just one of those cheap corn-ball movies that you just can't pull yourself away from. But the writing is good, the characters are funny, and the movie knows that it is a corn-ball movie and it isn't pretending to be something different.
Doc Hollywood - Vialula. Michael J. Fox is just one of those very charasmatic actors. Vialula. And I really like the southern hick town setting. Vialula. And did I mention Vialula. She's hot. Smokin'. And MJF is just funny. And Vialula gets naked. Did I mention she is smokin'? This movie also makes me think of the country song "Watermelon Crawl".
The American President – I don't know why I like this movie. I don't. I just get engaged in it every time it is on.
The Thomas Crown Affair – Brosnan is just cool. He's a guy's guy. Just oozes smoothness. And the movie is just clever. Rene is quite alluring on the tropical island retreat. And bowler hats are sweet. I didn't even realize it was a remake until I looked it up on I may have to check out the original. I do love older movies.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The sun came out, Kindergarten rocks, and cartoons!

Finally! The sun peeked out a little Tuesday evening and Wednesday was just awesome. The rain stopped. It warmed up. It was just a super awesome day. And to add to the bonus, I had already planned for half a day of vacation! Whoo hoo!!

Wednesday started off sweet as I hit the Jasper Bakery for some doughnuts and cookies. The doughnuts were for a girl that I work with. She has a meeting every month that I usually skip out on. I told her I would make it this week and even bring doughnuts. So I got up early and went to the bakery and scored a couple dozen (one for her office and one for mine as it is a teleconfrence call). And heck, while I am there I think I'll just grab some of those sweet looking iced sugar cookies for afternoon snack. Oh yeah, I'm going to Kindergarten!!!!

So I drop off the doughnuts at the girls office. But she doesn't know they are coming so I gotta be smooth about it. With her back to the door and her typing away I lay them down on her desk and sneak out. On to my building. Not long until I get a call from her. I only played dumb for a minute. But I don't think she was going to eat them unless she knew where they came from.

Work flew by. Lots to do and I was getting stuff done. Had to get everything wrapped up by 11am to pick up McKenna so I was extra motivated. One thing about my job is the work doesn't go away when you take time off. It just piles up. Man it'd be nice to be an x-ray tech! ;-) (Just kidding KJ, you know I could never handle your job.)

So I grab McKenna and we head for home. Drop her off. Change into tennis shoes (I wore jeans to work) and back out the door with Mara. Just because it makes it more of an adventure, we hit the school cafeteria for lunch. You gotta wonder what the kids think about some old guy eating lunch with them. But I think Mara liked it as all kids wanted to say "Hi" to her. We had spagetti and green beans with pears and orange jello. I ate all mine like a good kid. Not bad, but a little bland. Spaghetti could use some Chipolte Tabasco sauce. Mara on the other hand... well if were were at home she wouldn't have gotten desert! lol

We got to the cafeteria late because Mara wanted to show me her journal first. So we were the last ones to eat and leave. Not much time for play before class started at 12:15, so we just stood outside with the other Kindergartners waiting to come in.

School was fun. The kids started off with their journal. Being my second time there, and seeing how eager I was to help out last time, the teacher was quick let me know what the kids would need help with. Rather than their normal one sentance and a picture, the teacher wanted them to write as much detail as they could. Most of them wrote at least 3 sentences. Very impressive for Kindergartners. And man can they read. I think they read more in Kindergarten than I read in 1st grade.

We also had music class (which all the kids got into) and then got to go play outside. At this time there were alot of older kids out there playing. We went to the tennis courts for warm up exercises. I didn't realize this at first. So as the kids are running, the teacher on duty is telling me. So I take off running after them. Chasing them down. They thought that was funny. Then we stand in a line (arm length apart) and do jumping jacks. We do all kinds of exerices and I just join right in.

Now while all this is happening all of the older kids who were playing started gathering around to check out the oddity in the Kindergarten class. When exercises are over they play a game where a kid stands in the middle and all the others are on one line. The kid names a color and then all the kids wearing that color have to run to the far side before being tagged. Mara, bless her heart, was the first kid to be in the middle. And wouldn't you know she didn't catch a single kid. Of course when she called my color I had to play with her a bit and let her catch me.

Later we got to have snack. Snack rules! I got White Milk! The other boys and I were debating white milk or chocolate milk. And the cookies were good. Nothing like bakery cookies.

After snack it was play time again. But this time with just the Kindergarteners outside. Last time I think all I did was push people on the swing and then (showed off) on the monkey bars. Impressing little kids may be easy. But it is still fun. After pushing on the swing this time, I decided to go play some kick ball with some other kids. I got the kids to line up and I would roll the ball to them and they would all get to kick it in turn. The athletic stud of the class nailed a line drive right at me... but of course I caught it.

We finished up the day with some reading. And then got ready to go home. Man, I think I could do this every week!

After getting home I started preping to mow the lawn. I let Mara ride the mower around the yard as Momma got ready for those two to go to Evansville. They were meeting up with Aunt Kasara to pick out a dress for the wedding.

Lawn got mowed while the girls played on the swing and jumped on the trampoline. After I was done the neighbor girl came over and jumped with them. McKenna then asked me so sweetly ("I beg your forgiveness!" Why she says this KJ and I do not know.) to have the neighbor girl come over for dinner. So we walked over and asked her dad. It was okay with them so we all came back and sat on the back deck. Orders were placed for Mayo & Cheese, Bologna & Cheese, and PB&J (strawberry jam). Along with two chocolate milks and a strawberry milk. So we ate a nice dinner outside in the perfect weather. My two girls of course talked more than they ate, but we got through it. Mint Chocolate Girl Scout Cookies for desert and then we walked the neighbor girl back home.

Girls in the bath. And I get a little computer time. Girls out of the bath and one show before bed. I was dead beat (Kindergarten is rough) so I laid down and the girls wanted to snuggle after their show. We all fell asleep until Momma and Mara got home. And of course I was a grump (sorry Kel) as I do not wake up well. Kids in bed and then back to sleep.

Man that was a good day.

Being in the Kindergarten Zone... I'll do a top 5 for cartoons. Now this isn't my favorite cartoons of all time. And probably isn't a top 5 of current cartoons. More of a top 5 of the cartoons that my girls watch frequently.

My Top 5 ...

...Cartoons my Kids Watch
1. Codename: Kids Next Door - This is probably on par with the all time best cartoons ever. It is definately geared to play to adults as there are so many references in the cartoon that kids wouldn't get. Kids with home-made weapons fighting off adult tyranny. Great stuff!
2. Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends - This is the best slapstick humor I've seen in a long time. Kinda like Tom and Jerry with a ton of wit. And it is full of one liners that the girls, myself, and yes... KJ love to quote. "Ripoff Artist!"
3. Kim Possible - Yeah, I know. A girl show. But seriously this is good. And not just because she is hot. Yeah I know... she's only in high school. Oh, and she's a cartoon. But really there is great action in this cartoon. Sweet techno-gadgets. Awesome stunts. Great bad guys. And its funny. Really funny.
4. Power Puff Girls - I know. I know. Another girl show. This officially makes me cowboy (our new word for "gay". ie brokeback mountain). But there is some great violence in there. I mean blood, broken bones, teeth flying everywhere. These girls aren't as sweet as they look. And this is another one where the creators throw in alot of references for adults. You should see the "Beat-Alls" (Beatles) episode. It rocked!
5. Maggie and the Ferocious Beast - I'm not sure what it is about this cartoon. It's just sweet, and cute, and fun. I think this and Madeline are great as fun cartoons that are very "innocent". This is a nice relaxing show. Not an edge-of-your-seat energy show or side-splitting funny show.
Honorable Mention... Max and Ruby. It'd be good if I just didn't want to kick Max about every episode!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Blah weekend, Happy Mother's Day, And my Sis!

The past 4 or 5 days have SUCKED! Overcast. Cold. And rain. Not steady. But not stopping. On and off. But always gloomy. And it seems my moods as reflected the same. I have not been my normal chipper self. Ugh!

I didn't get anything done around the house over the weekend. Nothing! I got the oil changed in the truck. And kept up with the dishes. That's it! I did hit the Library last week so I looked at a couple books. Kelly does a book a weekend. I do a chapter a weekend.

So I thought Mother's Day was last week. Whew. Plenty of time to get my mom a card. Went shopping Tuesday and picked one out. Even went ahead and got a graduation card for my nephew. I'm on the ball! But of course, I sign the card... and never get it in the mail. When it comes to sending cards or gifts in the mail, I am a loser. I am just bad about it. Unlike my Dad, who NEVER misses a holiday. Or birhtday. Or any day. Never misses. Without fail. I'll send it off this week. I'll see if I can get the girls to draw a picture to send with it to make up.

I'm going to send off the graduation card this week! Otherwise he won't see it until next month.

Saturday the girls and I hit The Doodlebug store. That is where Momma teaches scrapbookin'. They always like picking out presnets and I really like for them to be able to give things that they were invloved in getting. So they looked around the store and picked out a couple items for Kelly for Mother's day. McKenna picked out a tan inking or chalk pad and then found two really cool print papers to match. Micah was grabbing every piece of paper she could find and eventually settled on some stripped vellum and a matching Basil. Man, how did she know to grab that? To top it off she really liked a tiny set of feet stamp. Mara quickly decided on some paper and then walked over to the store owner and told her specifically that she wanted some "school rub-ons". Sure enough, they had some school themed rub-ons. Then they came home and drew pictures for Momma. With the main theme being jewelry. They really wanted to get Momma some diamond rings and necklaces for Mother's Day. So she got picture jewelry.

I really wasn't sure they would make it through the evening without mentioning to Kelly. Normally they aren't good about keeping secrets. But if they didn't think about it then they wouldn't talk about it. So I was hoping.

We made it through the evening without event. Kelly had already recieved her big gift "iPod Nano" three weeks ago. And her Breakfast two weeks ago. But one more suprise would be nice. So after everyone was in bed I laid out the gifts and the pictures so that when Kelly left for work at 5:30am she would have a surprise.

Sunday the girls and I went to church in Keensburg. (Where Kelly and I got married.) I really wasn't wanting to go. I told them we were going on Saturday. But was up until after 1am and knew I wouldn't want to get up in the morning. When we got up at 8:30 I told them that we didn't have time to make it to church... and they about ripped my head off. "Okay, okay", I told them. If they could get ready in 30 minutes we could go. I expected it to be horrible. Anyone with kids that age knows how hard it is getting them going (dressed, brush hair, brush teeeth, etc.). But surprisingly we got out of there on time. They really are getting more independent. It is nice.

I even made Mara's hair look good. I was impressed! I'm really not good with the girl's hair.

So after church it was off to the big Mother's Day get together on Kelly's side fo the family. Of course, she was working. But I really do enjoy her family events since I grew up not getting to do stuff like that. And the girls really love seeing everyone and playing with their cousins.

Monday night we hit Wal-Mart. I dropped almost $300 on mostly groceries. And didn't buy anything for more than $20. I think it is a new record.

Wenesday I'm taking the afternoon off and going to Kindergarten with Mara. This will be the second time I've gone to school with her this year. I'm getting really smart. :) We will eat lunch in the cafeteria before her afternoon class starts. I really do enjoy it. I help the teacher during class and play with the kids at recess. And just think... I have two more years of Kindergarten to look forward too! (McKenna & Micah)

I've also been thinking about my sis a lot lately. I love my sis. She is a great influence in my life. She's been a role model for me since we were young. And I don't think she ever knew. But that's the problem with guys. We just don't talk enough.

My Top Five for the day ...

...Pet Peeves
1. Stuff on the stairs - I hate having to worry about stepping on stuff on the stairs to the basement. Whether it is scrapbooking supplies that Kelly is meaning to take to her room. Or toys that the girls were playing with and never put away.
2. Empty containers in the fridge - Come on... when you take the last of the Koool-Aid is it that hard to put it on the counter by the sink?
3. Cat litter that doesn’t get cleaned for 3 days - Which wouldn't be as bad if it weren't in the utility room right off the kitchen.
4. Trash – When things aren’t broke down. You can't put big open containers in the trash. You can't. You have to break them down. Gallon jugs and two liter bottles with the lids twisted tight are the worst. All that air is just taking up space.
5. Grabbing – The girls still have the less-than-perfect manners of a young child and we are constantly working with them . But the one that drives me nuts is the grabbing. McKenna wants a toy that Mara has… she just grabs it. Micah wants a drink of the soda McKenna has… she just grabs it. They don't think to ask or even speak. They just grab. (The exceptions to the grabbing issue is when Kelly is the grabber and I'm the grabbee. Or vice versa.)

1. Almonds – I don’t know what it is. I really like nuts in general. Not peanuts. Nuts. Peanuts are not nuts. Almonds, Pecans, Walnuts… Love them! And KJ can’t stand when I put them in cookies.
2. Bacon – I’m not sure, but I think I could eat bacon every day. I’d try it, but I’d like to see the girls graduate. Bacon sandwiches (with lots of Miracle Whip and lettuce and a slice of cheese, hold the tomato) and soup are one of my favorite meals.
3. Chocolate - I am a chocoholic. And I've passed it on to McKenna.
4. Pizza - I know. This is boring. But I guess that is why it is the most popular food item. Right now I'd have to say my favorite is barbeque chicken and bacon from Papa Johns.
5. Cheese - Cheese is what makes the world go 'round. Not money. Not love. Not the gravitational collapse of accreting material whose net translational motion is accelerated as its radius of rotation decreases in agreement of the angular momentum principle. Not that either. Cheese. Just about every good meal has cheese in it. Cheese rules!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

How did I get here? Part 3 (The Dark Years)

Have you ever realized how you don't know you are "in a momment" until after the moment is over and you look back? Or how you don't know what you have until it is gone?

Well, I think my 4th through 8th grade years were like that. There was definately some down times in there. But honestly, at the time, I didn't realize it.

I wouldn't say we were poor growing up. We lived in a big house. We had two cars. I definately never went hungry. And I had enough toys. But we weren't rich. And I wasn't spoiled. Not like my friend Scott who had every toy imaginable (man he had some great Star Wars stuff) and kitchen drawers stuffed with candy. We got a microwave when they first came out. And a sweet Atari 2600 when it was cutting edge. I was a machine when it came to Space Invaders. I could not be beat. Unfortunately neither could the computer as they kept coming, level after level.

But then things changed. I can't really remember when. I think it was 4th grade. (My sister has a better memory for things on a timeline.) Our parents sat us down and told us that they were getting a divorce. They explained it really well. And I really don't think I was affected too much by this. But looking back, it had to tear my parents up inside to have to sit down and explain that to us. I think dad even lived with us for awhile after the divorce. Like I said. I don't remember the details well. But eventually he moved out to an duplex in Roodhouse. We still got to see him plenty so really, as I had said, it didn't seem like that big of a deal.

But then within the course of a couple years my dad got cancer and lost his job. I don't think I really understood what was going on at the time. I just knew he had to go for treatments in the hospital. Never once did I think I could lose him. Or understand the pain and discomfort that he endured. Or the the psycological and emotional strain that an illness like that puts on a person. My parents probably shielded it from me. And if (or more like when) I would ever get cancer... I'd probably do the same for my kids. Years later my mom told me stories about them taking bone samples from him. I'm not sure I've ever experienced pain like that.

But God was gracious. And he recovered fully.

But during some of that time (my 5th grade year) my mom was without a job. So she was recieving Food Stamps and we got free lunches at school. (Thus Kelly nicknamed me "Food Stamp Boy" just to have some fun with me.) And back then they served breakfast at school. So that was good. Although I probably had to wake up earlier to get to school. And oh man was I not a morning person then. Or now. That was my first introduction to Ketchup on eggs. Yuck!! (Sorry KJ) Being a school teacher, it was difficult for my mom to find a job after the school year started. Obviously there is a small window for employement in that field.

Eventually my mom found a job about 90 minutes away in the towns of Beneld/Gillispie. We moved and my dad moved back into the house that they owned. I think this is where it got harder. As he wasn't as close as he was before. But he made every effort to see us as much as he could. And really, I need to throw in here... my parents had the best divorce ever. I never saw them yell at each other, they were very cordial and spoke easily together, my mom made sure that my dad got to see me as much as he wanted, my dad made sure to see us as much as he could, they never said bad things about each other or tried to use us in anyway, and they always made sure that they were in agreement over big decisions.

So we started a new life in this new place. My sister, Jeanne, probably had the worst time about it as she was older and more entrentched in freindships at school. I missed our sweet house. But I honestly didn't have any real close friends that I missed. By this time I had grown apart from my old trouble making friend. I was in "gifted" classes and he was probably just lucky to make it through the day without being suspended. My brother had just been starting school so it probably was nothing to him. All in all the move was good. And as it seemed... I became I little more "popular" and a little less outcast. I was also getting more involved with sports. I shared a love of Legos and video games with the neighbor boy. But he also loved basketball and was quiet athletic. So I spent a lot of time in his driveway shooting hoops. Also feeling more accepted in school, I played in more sports games and even went out for track my 7th grade year. I wasn't any good. But at least there was some effort there.

Everything seemed to be falling in place by 7th grade. I was the Math teacher's "pet". I had some good friends (although no real close ones). My brother seemed to be doing well in school. My mom was happy with her Art Teacher position. We had nice neighbors. My sister was really fitting in well. I think this was probably some of her best years. When she went off to highschool she was really in with the popular kids. And my sister was very smart and quiet attractive (I'll mention the Miss Illinois pagents sometime). She had an active social life and was very happy. Even my mom was doing well becoming very close to a really nice guy that we all liked.

Ahh... but this IS titled "The Dark Years"... and good things can't last. Due to budget cuts my mom lost her job. Always those art and music positions first to go. And about the same time my dad moved back to the Detroit area as there were few other chemical weapons facilities (or animal vaccinations, who really knows) to be found in rural South-Central Illinois for microbioligists.

So in the span of a few months we went back to our old house (that just wasn't selling) for the summer while mom looked for a job again. As luck would have it, it didn't take long and we moved to South-Eastern Illinois on the Indiana border. Man, if I had thought I had lived in small towns before in Roodhouse, White Hall, and Wilsonville... I think Allendale ended up being the smallest of them all. Little bitty town next to other little towns.

So now we transitioned again. This time my mom teaching 4th grade and art. At least teaching a grade gave her some more job security. I'm not sure how well my brother took to this last move. But he seemed to find some friends that he could play with. And now... now I was in a class of about 20 kids. And I was one of the smartest. And immediately fit in with the "popular" crowd. Although in a school that size, there really aren't any cliques. Also, in a school that size... they need every available body for sports. So of course I was on the basketball and baseball teams.

But my sister didn't transition as well into the new town. Got caught up with some of the more rowdy kids. And of course was at the age where she is suppose to be difficult and rebillious. So tensions started with her and the family. After only one year in Allendale she moved up to the Detroit area with my dad. I really didn't notice too much. As I didn't spend much time with her when she was around. Not to say she wasn't a good sister. Because she was. But things really didn't seem all that different without her. I was spending more and more time with friends and less at home. But moving up North was definately good for her. Gave her a new start. And I'd like to think that it gave my dad more of a chance to be a full-time dad as now he was around one of us all the time. And I'm grateful for that as he was always a great to have around when we were younger.

And I know during this time both of my parents really struggled financial to provide for us. Things really were tight. But I really never noticed. Oh I probably complained that I didn't have the right clothes or enough "stuff". But I had all I needed. And they both managed their money well, and due to great discipline on both their parts they ended up really well. I mean, when you're parents foot the bill for over half your college, you can't complain.

So pretty much the worst was over. Well, unless you count that time during my Freshman year that me and a couple other kids broke into a store at night and stole about $500 worth of candy and 15 dozen eggs (don't ask... you don't wanna know). Two misdemanors and a felony. But we wre on the upswing. But like I said. You really don't know you are "down" until you look back.

At this point everyone was doing well. My mom fit into the new school well. And made lots of friends with the other teachers. My sis did well up in her new school in the Detroit area. And my brother... he had his Nintendo and a Guinnea pig. So no complaints there.

So, okay. It really wasn't dark-dark. I don't doubt there are plenty of folks with rough childhoods out there. But they were my dark years. :)

Ok, whew. We got through that. I'll probably enjoy torturing you with stories from my past again. But I'm here to capture the now. And try my best to make sure that my wonderful daughters all have great childhood memories like I did.

Top 5 for the Day...

Old Navy long sleeve shirt – This is my comfy shirt. I could wear it anytime anywhere.
Old Navy pajama bottoms – Blue, white, and a hint of green plaid fleece with a draw string.
New Balance Tennis shoes – They aren’t my favorite pair ever. My Nike Air Max Triaxx were da bomb. Those are probably 8 years old and I still wear them for working in the garage. The New Balance are still nice and new. But I’ll be due for a new pair soon. Kelly hates shopping for shoes with me. I want to try on ten pair of shoes at 3 different stores. Shoes gotta be perfect.
Levi’s 550s – I’ve tried other blue jeans. Really I have. But I just can’t get away from Levi’s. I used to be a 501s kind of guy when they were the “hip” thing. But after a few experiments I like these the best.
Thick comfy ankle high white athletic socks – Man I love comfy socks. And new socks (as well as undies) just make you feel good. I remember in junior high I thought it was so gay for our basketball/baseball coach to wear these short little ankle socks. Dude, those looked like the socks the girls wore with the little pom-pon thing on the back. But oh… once I finally tried them. I couldn’t go back. Now I only wear those long dorky socks with work boots and such.

...Things I like about me
Patience - I really do have more patience than just about anyone I know. I think the girls have worn it down a bit. And just getting older probably doesn't help. But I don't get upset waiting on people. And I sure as heck don't want to open up Birthday/Christmas presents early.
I see the best in people - I almost always see the good qualities in people before I see the bad stuff. I really do believe that people are inherently good and are well meaning to others. I'm not the type of person to gossip and talk bad about others.
Optimistic - I actually think this can fall in the "Things I don't like about me" catagory too. I don't let bad situations or events get me down. Because I know they will pass. I don't make mountains out of mole hills. But there are times you can be overly optimistic. Pessmism isn't always a bad thing. Which is one of the great Yin-and-Yang qualities my wife and I have. :)
Enjoy the simple things - I really can enjoy the simple things in life. It doesn't take great experineces or expensive stuff to make me happy. Playing out in the rain. Swinging on a swing. Snuggling with the girls. Running my fingers through my wife's hair (on her head for any of you with your mind in the gutter). Looking at the stars on a peaceful clear night. It's things like that which can bring you a lot of happiness if you let it.
Honesty - I don't lie to my wife. If I don't like a scrapbooking layout. I tell her. Oh, she doesn't like me to. But hey, she's the one that keeps asking! :) I also like to be as honest with the kids as much as I can. Some parents will tell a good intentioned lie just to get the kid to do what needs to be done. But I'd rather tell the truth and take the time to explain everything. Of course Santa and the Tooth Fairy still come to the house. And I really am a bad liar. My wife can sniff a lie from me from a mile away.

Man, I have so ran over on the lunch hour. I've GOT to go!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Potato Salad, Trampolines, and ... oh, I'm an idiot

Had a great weekend. Didn't get as much done around the house as I wanted. But it was good.

Friday night we ran to Evansville so that Kelly could drop off a layout at Schmitt. Girls and I just went along for the ride. Afterward we hit Steak N Shake. I love that place. I wish they would put one in Jasper. Chili Mac rules. I so wanted to try something else. Taco Salad sounded good. But I couldn't get myself to pass on the Chili Mac.

Saturday morning the girls and I headed to Wal-Mart for some heavy shopping. Man that place kills ya. Never out of there for less than $100. And often closer to $200. The girls enjoy Wal-Mart. We often spend over 2 hours in there. And if they had their way we could spend an entire day. I think they enjoy going with me more than Momma. She is a little more uptight. Daddy is a little more laid back. They get to "experience" more of the store with me. My visions of Kelly at the store with the girls is Mara, McKenna, and Micah walking behind Kelly with orange jumpsuits and their ankles shackled together. Marching in cadence as Mara leads them in "That's the sound of the man, working on the chain... gaaaaaang! da da da dum"

My brother, his wife, and my nephew came over Saturday afternoon. The girls played with Jacob, and my Homie and I prepped for dinner. He marinated the steaks I got from the locak meat processor and I put away groceries and started boiling potatos. I've never made Potato Salad. But have always wanted to. It ended up turning out really good. A little bland... needed more salt and pepper. I can never get that right. And KJ suggested vinegar.

Grilled out steaks. Dinner was good. Didn't get to play with J-man (nephew) as much as I would have liked. But it was a busy day. And him and the girls were enjoying themselves. Memorial Weekend will be sweet. I think he'll be down for 2 nights. Need to do something fun. Maybe even go camping in the backyard!

Sunday the girls and I got a slow start. Made some Cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Then they had to get baths since they went to bed the night before without one. After lunch Mara had Tee Ball practice. I felt bad since I hadn't been able to practice with her before hand. So we all loaded up to go watch Mara. They practiced some pitch-n-catch. And then went over for some batting practice off of the pitching machine. Yes! The pitching machine! I couldn't believe it. This was Mara's first year. These kids are only around 6 years old. And they are getting them in front of a machine. Only one kid got a hit off the machine. After so many misses then they hit off the tee. Mara actually hit one foul off the machine. That was impressive. She seemed to enjoy it

Afterwards we went home and I worked on fixing my lawn mower. The mower itself is fine but the hood was loose. I had to take it off. And rig it up with a piece of wood and some bolts and screws. I was impressed with the finished project. I'm not very mechanical. But it was gonna do. The whole time I was fixing the lawn mower the girls were on the neighbor's trampoline. They love that thing.

After I fixed the mower I mowed the yard. Had to test drive the iPod while I was out there. :) Girls jumped most of that time. When I was about done I saw Micah Jo Jo sitting on the trampoline by herself. She looked so sad. Had her head hanging down. I drove over to her. She was crying. She was breaking my heart! :( So of course I let her up on my lap and she finished mowing the lawn with me. That fixed everything.

While weed-eating, the girls jumped some more. I swear they jumped for 5 hours this weekend. Crazy! (They were pretty dirty too. The black stuff comes off that trampoline bad. Kelly would NOT have liked that.) Afterwards the girls went over to the neighors to play. But the little girl had gotten hurt and they didn't stay long. We came back home in time to start cleaning up the house for Momma.

Really good weekend overall. Oh, and I'm an idiot. I was thinking THIS Sunday was Mother's Day. Oops. Good news is I still have time to get my mom a card. Bad news is the girls bought flowers for Kelly at Wal-Mart. Kelly asked if she was going to get flowers again this weekend. :)

And just to make sure she has me where she wants me. Micah Jo Jo had to break out the tears again this morning. I started leaving for work and she came running out of the house. She has tears in her eyes. "Daddy, I don't want you to go." That was killing me. I gave her a hug and kiss and told her I'd be back. But that didn't kill me as much as driving away watching her wave as hard as she could with tears in her eyes.

Top 5 List for the Day...

...Soft Drinks
Dr. Pepper – I’m a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too? (Seeings how I don’t need the extra calories, I usually stay away from full sugar drinks. So really this should be Diet Dr. Pepper. Although I am fond of doing ½ Dr. Pepper ½ Diet Coke at the fountain machines. Great taste and half the calories. A trick an old coworker taught me.)
Coke Zero – Normally this would be Diet Dew. But man, I’ve gotten hooked on the Coke Zero. Can this really have no calories??
Diet Dew - Come on... you gotta Do the Dew!
Minute Maid Light – I think the Lemonade is the best. But all the other flavors are great. No diet taste and 10 calories. Can’t beat that.
Root Beer – This is one of those things that I really like but hardly ever partake of . I don’t know why. Just save it for those special treats. And add a couple scoops of ice cream and you're living the vida loca!

...Things I don’t like about me
Temper – I have more patience that most people I know. But when I lose my cool I am not a good person. Ugly is a better word.
Motivation – I wouldn’t say that I am lazy. But I can struggle when it comes to doing major projects. Let’s see… how far have I gotten on our unfinished basement?
I know too much – Well, maybe not. But sometimes I think I do. No one likes that.
I’m never wrong – It’s a difficult burden. But hey, someone has to be right all the time. Kelly hates this. And trust me. I'm not. But sometimes I think I am.
Too Introverted – Man I wish I could talk when I have nothing to say. You know… like Mara at the dinner table. :)

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Week in Review and My Top 5's

Busy week at work. Lately it has been that way. In by 7am and out by 6pm on many days. Which isn't horrible. But of course there are other places I'd rather be.

Tuesday evening Kelly and I went up to Kindergarten with Mara. The year is just about out and the kids showed the parents their Journals that they had done throught the year. It was really neat. Usually about once a week or so they would draw a picture and write a sentence about it. And it was always something that had done in the past week. It is really impressive what kids can do by themselves. Many of Mara's pictures had some great detail that you wouldn't expect from a six year old. We had a Pizza party afterwards. It was nice.

Thursday evening Kelly headed West to hook up with her mom and give her some of our stuff for the yard sale she is having this weekend. I had thought about trying to get some stuff done in the garage, but it was too nice of an evening. So I loaded up the girls and we went Jasper. Grabbed a pizza at Papa John and Cinnistix at Dominos. I'm particular about my Papa's and McKenna is particular about her Cinnistix. Then we took it to a local park and ate at a picnic table. We also saw Gentle Ben for the second time on the walking trail. Gentle Ben is a 120 pound Great Pyrennes dog. The dog is more like a Polar Bear. Pure white and huge. Fluffy too. Micah Jo Jo kept saying he was a soft pillow while snuggling her face into him. The owners are very friendly and were glad we came over. Apparenlty Gentle Ben LOVES kids.

Not sure what all is going on this weekend. Mara has her first T-ball practice on Sunday. And I haven't even tried getting with her to play pitch-n-catch yet. Ugh!

Saturday is the Kentucky Derby. A friend of mine is BIG into horse racing. It is like his second passion behind Golf. He's been giving me some lessons on reading the racing forms and betting it. I think it is cool. Lots of numbers/trends/data to crunch. Financial Analysts love that. :) So after looking it over I'm having him place some $1 bets for me. Can't bet more... or we might not be able to afford our much needed scrapbooking supplies. I've always wondered... if it came down to it... and we were desperate... would our last bit of grocery money go to milk and bread or cardstock and ribbon?

Sunday will be Mother's Day. But Momma has to work. She already got her gift (iPod nano) a week and a half ago, and she got breakfast in bed last Sunday. Which reminds me... I never did get a card to my mom in the mail. :(

Ok... here it is. In order to give a little more insight into me, I started working on some "Top 5" lists. I was going to list them all in one post. But KJ thought that would be overkill. She suggested adding one to the end of each post. I like that idea. But I wanna put a few out there for my first Top 5 post.

My Top 5 ...

… Favorite Things

1. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
2. Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
3. Brown paper packages tied up in string
4. Crisp apple strudel
5. Snowflakes that stay on your nose and eyelashes

… Web Sites
1. – I'm inquisitive as heck and a fact geek. I’m just about at google any time any odd thought pops in my head. Jesus Christ’s missing years? Google! How to kill fleas? Google! Who the heck is that actor? I know that face. Google! What is the average ocean temperature in Oregon? Google! What exactly is a Jesuit? Google! Was Benedict Arnold really a bad guy? Google!
2. – I hit this a little harder during the NFL season. And take a nice break during the baseball season. But I still frequent it a couple times a week.
3. – I really love current events. I don’t know. Geography, Politics, Social Issues, I find them interesting. NPR on the radio rocks. But now that KJ has Sirius, I really need to check out some of the other news radio stations too. When work isn't crazy this is usually the first web site I check out over my lunch hour.
4. – Great information on about every show, movie, actor and anything else entertainment related.
5. My Yahoo! - A nice collection of news articles, comic strips, sports scores, and odds and ends.

… Indulgences
1. Long Showers – Nothing beats a long shower. No, I’m not talking 20 or 30 minutes. Let me lay down in the tub with the shower running and fall asleep. I think a good hour in a hot shower probably adds a year to your life. (But it isn’t very good on the water bill.) And of course I had to hear the fact the other day that if you cut off 1 minute of your showever every day you can save 700 gallons a month. Yikes!
2. Naps – I don’t indulge in these very often as I am HORRIBLE at trying to get up from a nap. I feel like a bear coming out of hibernation. Takes me like an hour to recover after I wake up. But there is nothing like it. Especially when you are on vacation and have no real pending tasks and you can really relax.
3. Carpeting and Tired Feet - Nothing feels as good as taking off your socks and shoes after a long hard day on your feet (which doesn’t happen often for me as I sit on my arse all day at work), and just rubbing your feet into the carpeting. I mean rubbing them in there good. Grinding them. This drives KJ nuts. She has a foot phobia as it is, and this just grosses her out.
4. I’m turning Japanese I think I’m turning Japanese I really think so. (If I have to explain, you don’t wanna know. Trust me!)
5. Watching TV alone - It is very rare that Kelly and I ever have any peace and quiet in the house. And I don't watch very much TV. But I do like to record some nice Food Network, Classic Movies, or History Channel shows. And those rare occasions that I can watch them uninterrupted are nice.

… Analisms
1. Getting dressed. I don’t know why but I hate putting on pants/jeans before putting on my socks. Gotta put the socks on first. I thought I was odd in this sense. But Kelly said she is the same way. So maybe it isn't that odd after all.
2. Sandwich Preparation. Mustard should never touch cheese. Always against the meat. Miracle Whip rules. Mayo drools. And should always go against lettuce. And the lettuce alwasy goes against the bread/MW. You'd never put it between a piece of ham and cheese. I honestly think I could eat just Miracle Whip and lettuce. Throw in some crisp bacon and I’m in heaven. I like condiments. Should attempt to have condiments on both sides of bread. Whether it be mayo-mayo or mayo-mustard. Ketchup does NOT go on sandwiches. Exception might be a hot meatloaf sandwich.
3. Toilet Paper. The toilet paper roll should be put on so that the paper is coming up and out over the top. Not down and out the back. That way it is closer to you. And you don't have to reach to the back to get the paper. But considering I'm the only person in the house that even put toilet paper ON the toilet paper holder... UGH!
4. Dish Washer. Kelly has a certain way of loading the dish washer. And I have a certain way of loading the dish washer. I've tried to tell her how to put the bowls... but she won't listen.
5. I can't think of anything else. Probably because I'm not that anal. But I'm sure Kelly will say I missed something.

… Comic Strips
1. Rose is Rose – I fell in love with this strip when Pasquale was talking “baby talk”. I loved trying to figure out what he said. But I grew to love the strip. The topics were always so great. It really celebrates the simple joys of life. And I love the artistry. Most comics are done in the same format, week in and week out. But this one has all kinds of “views”. Birds eye. Close ups. Weird angles. Everything. I am Pasquale. Life is simple. Everything is a joy.
2. Foxtrot – I am Jason Fox. I AM Jason Fox. Smart. Annoying. Gross. Computer geek (wannabe). Star Wars freak. Dungeons & Dragons playa. Sister annoyer. And at his age, I wasn’t very good at sports either.
3. Boondocks – I first saw Aaron McGruder on a cable news show. He was discussing really deep social issues. He seemed very young but seemed very intelligent and was extremely articulate. I sat and watched him talk for probably 15 minutes even thought I could have cared less about what he was talking about and probably would have disagreed with if I did. Caption said he was the creator of Boondocks comic, so I had to check it out. I’ve been a fan every since. Comic is great at poking fun of social and political issues. It has a very strong liberal stance. So it is odd that a white conservative would enjoy the rantings of a black liberal. But hey, good writing is good writing. And Aaron McGruder is great at poking fun at himself and those ideas that he supports too.
4. Family Circus – My favorite strips are the ones that show a map of the neighborhood/house/yard with a dotted line of how one of the kids got from point A to point B. And the longer I am a parent the more Bill Keane’s stuff hits home. As far as all time greats go… Keane is up there with Charles “The King of Comics” Shultz.
5. Peanuts - Come on. This IS the benchmark for all other cartoonists.

… Fictional Characters I’d like to “do”
1. Mary Poppins – “Practically perfect in every way” I wouldn't mind giving her a spoon full of sugar.
2. Jessica Rabbit – “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” Throw all the erasers away… pppplllease!
3. Princess Leia – “I’d rather kiss a Wookie.” I’ve got something furry she can… oh wait, this isn’t the boys night out poker game. I shouldn't talk that way. Gotta love a sweet little princess that knows how to handle a blaster.
4. Samantha Stevens (Bewitched) - Oh come on now... as if she wasn't hot. And just think what she could do with that nose.
5. Ginger AND Mary Ann – Gilligan wasn’t a moron. He screwed up on purpose. He was a genius. Why would he want to leave a tropical island with two of the hottest hotties!???!!
Honorable Mention – Bionic Woman, Betty Ruble, and I Dream of Jeannie