Monday, June 29, 2015

The Bean Bag Chair Dilemma

If you've seen a photo of me any time recently, you probably have noticed that I am in the best shape of my life, if you are one of those strange people who think a bean bag chair is a shape. Yes, I have gotten a little gooshy around my midsection since the Wife and I got married, which is not something I am real proud of, but it's true so I might as well admit it.

People, like me, who are the shape of a bean bag chair, generally aren't that nimble, and nimbleness is a desired quality when playing sports such as softball, which I am prone to do. I, along with all of my softball teammates, and all of our fans, and pretty much anyone who might have been walking by while I have been on the field, have noticed my lack of nimbleness this year, which has shown itself every time the ball gets hit towards me. My inability to bend over and field the ball in my glove is a dead giveaway. I suppose, being bean-bag-chair-like, I should probably just plop myself on the ground and let the softball get absorbed by my gooshiness. We'll see how that works...

What I should do instead is take up some kind of physical, mental, and spiritual practice to help me get into the proper shape. Hey, I just so happen to have a great friend who teaches Holy Yoga. Her name is Adrienne, and lo and behold, she just started advertising on the ol' blog. Check out her ad over on the right side of this page, and give it a click if you are interested in taking one of her classes. You don't have to be bean-bag-chair-shaped to benefit from the whole Holy Yoga experience. Holy Yoga is good for everyone! Do it!

If your company is interested in advertising here on Chaotic Kids & Clutter, drop me a line at shanson1974@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wedding Food Review, Kansas Edition

I seem to have gotten a bit of a reputation within my family. Seems like some of my family members have gotten a little bit wary of me and the ol' blog. We (the family, not just me and my blog) were at a fun family function over the weekend. It was the super-fun wedding of my cousin, let's call her Anna since that's her name, and her fiance Martin (also his real name). The wedding itself was really fun, and not just because the Girl and the Little One were both flower girls. It was a lovely ceremony, there were no major catastrophes, and we got home safe and sound, so I would call it a success. Several times, though, just as something fun was about to happen, somebody would say something to the effect of "Uh-oh, Scott's gonna blog about this!" It's almost like they think I blog about every little thing that happens in my life. That's just crazy! There's lots of stuff I leave out of the blog, like the uh...um...oh, that one time....no...hmmm...well, whatever.

So it was a really fun wedding weekend in Wichita, and there were gobs of delicious food being eaten all weekend, so I might as well write about it, huh? Actually, all the meals we had were home-cooked, either by family members or friends of family members. First, on Thursday, we had some delicious salmon on the grill at my cousins house. Throw in some yummy asparagus and what turned out to be the world's best bread, which I ate 6 or 7 slices of, and I would say it was a great meal.

The next night was the rehearsal dinner, which consisted of pulled pork and brisket sandwiches, some baked beans, an interesting corn-and-cream-cheese concoction, and a salad or two. If I can generalize, I love both pulled pork and brisket, so I was in hog heaven. I ate 4 sandwiches, along with a nice pile of just the meat. I felt satisfactorily gross afterward, which is always a sign of a good meal.

After the wedding on Saturday, a select bunch of us family and friends were invited to a private party at a friend's house, where the largest platter of chicken I have ever seen was presented before us. I don't know how many hundreds of chickens gave their lives for this platter, but I would like to personally thank all of them. They were delicious! I am not sure what kind of marinade or sauce was on them, but it was really good. If you want, I can try to get the recipe for you.

The only restaurant that was part of the weekend was a locally owned roast beef fast food joint named Barn'rds that is next door to the church. I'm not really sure what's up with the name of the place - is it short for "Barnyards"? Maybe "Barnards"? Who knows... What I do know is that on more than one occasion those of us who were not actually in the wedding found ourselves sitting around in the church with nothing to do, so of course one of us would hightail it over to Barn'rds and get either one of their delicious roast beef sandwiches, or a huge pile of their amazing garlic-infused french fries. Oh my goodness, these have to be some of the best french fries I've ever tasted. If you're ever in Wichita, for any reason, head over to Barn'rds and load up on some fries.

So, it was a lovely wedding weekend. Anna and Martin make a wonderful couple, and we at Chaotic Kids & Clutter couldn't be happier for them. And the food was all delicious, so our hats go off to all the cooks.
Barnyards?

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Scofflaw

I recently realized that in my nearly 41 full years of life here on God's Green Earth, I had never once set foot in a police station. Oh sure, I may have taken a ride in the backseat of a squad car once or twice back in my rebellious youth, when I was young, dumb, and full of enthusiasm, but those rides just took me back to my parents' house, never to the precinct, as I like to call it. I guess I've just had a boring life, and looking back on it, I'm OK with that.

Everything changed a few days ago, though. My boring life became quite interesting, at least for a while. Not only did I enter my first police station, but it was in a weird, foreign place where the normal rules don't apply. I was lucky to get out of it alive.

In my head I always pictured police stations as being similar to those you see in television shows, and the one I was in did not disappoint. It was like I had somehow walked into my TV and joined the set of a tense and gritty crime drama. It was part NYPD Blue, part Hill Street Blues, part Law & Order, part Dexter, and part Cop Rock. I don't think I've ever been more frightened!

Thankfully, the police didn't detain us for too long. To be honest, I wasn't the one who the cops wanted to talk to, I was only there to support the alleged scofflaw, a person who shall remain nameless to protect her identity. The whole thing was quite the harrowing experience, though, and it taught me several lessons. I've forgotten most of those lessons already, but the one that is foremost in my mind is to never get into a minor traffic accident in a town like Wichita, Kansas! What a crazy, foreign place that is!

Friday, June 12, 2015

How to Embarrass Your Wife in 30 Seconds

I have done this for all of my kids, but I had never done it for the Wife, so I thought it was about time to do so. I guess we'll know for sure what she thinks of it if we're still married tomorrow...

Yes, it's the Wife's birthday, so I made her a video. Not just any video, though. No, it's a video with me singing the accompanying song. Not everyone can say that I have done something like this for them, but I think we can assume everyone would say they wish I hadn't done something like this for them...Like that would ever stop me!

Even after almost 10 years of marriage, I still can not believe that this amazing woman ever agreed to marry me. Which is one of a plethora of things that the two of us have in common. But she did, and now I have made this embarrassing video to prove my love. I hope she, and you, enjoy it. Better turn down your speakers before you hit play. You can't say I didn't warn you!

video

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Lament of the Blubberer

Every so often my wonderful sister-in-law, let's call her the One Who Lives in Minnesota, wrangles up all of our kids and takes them all to Oklahoma for a week or more at a time. The first time she did this we only had the Girl, who was just about to turn 1. I can still picture the two of them driving away on the chilly March morning. The Wife, who was about 6 months pregnant with the Boy, was as stoic and steely-eyed as I had ever seen her. I, on the other hand, was blubbering like a fool as my dear sweet baby rode off into the distance without us for the first time in her short life. If I recall correctly, I blubbered like that for most of that day, and woke up blubbering slightly the next day, as well. Gradually I got over being ultra-emotional that week, and was able to rejoin society in a somewhat normal way, even becoming fairly productive as we attempted to get our honey-do list down to just a few pages.

Since that first time, the One Who Lives in Minnesota has taken our kids on these kinds of road trips often, at least two or three times every year, and each time my blubbering has diminished considerably. In fact, they all headed off on a trip in the wee hours of this past Sunday morning, and instead of blubbering as they drove off, I gave a short wave and then stumbled back to bed, where I had no problem falling asleep even before my head hit the pillow. It was nice!

So, I apparently have gotten over the problem of blubbering like a baby when the kids leave, but the Wife and I still haven't entirely figured out how to maximize our free time while they're gone. This time our honey-do list was Old Testament-like, and it seems as though we are only going to be able to cross off a few verses from Genesis. We weren't delusional enough to think we'd get all the way through the end of Malachi, but we had hoped we'd at least get through Proverbs or maybe even Song of Solomon. A week without kids is quickly filled with lamentations, I tell you what.

So, our week at home without kids is quickly coming to an end, but our honey-do list is not. Maybe one of these years the One Who Lives in Minnesota will take them all to Oklahoma for the entire summer, so the Wife and I can actually get some stuff accomplished. Although an entire summer is a long time to be without the kids, and it would be difficult to get much done when I'm busy blubbering...


Sunday, June 7, 2015

1, 2, 3, 4, I Declare a Baby War...

If there's one thing I've learned in the past 6-and-a-half years of being a parent, it's that thinking and talking about my getting fixed accomplishes nothing... Yes, I am exasperated to announce that we here at Chaotic Kids & Clutter are expecting even more chaos, more clutter, and one more kid. Actually, it's just the Wife who is expecting to have the kid, but we both are expecting sleepless nights, lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth, and copious amounts of kicking and screaming. And then in a few months the baby will be born!

If you haven't already figured it out, the Wife and I were not overly excited to find out we were having another baby. For one thing, our kids have all been out of diapers for at least several months, and we have gotten used to not carrying around a diaper bag anymore. For another thing, we already gave all of our newborn, 0-6 month, 6-9 month, 9-12 month, and 12-18 month girl clothes to our niece who just had a baby a couple of months ago. If our baby is a girl, either we will have to go out and buy all new clothes for her, or sneak into our niece's house and steal all of our old clothes back, which is by far the more likely scenario. And for the last reason we were not all that excited to be having another baby now is that the Wife and I are WAY TOO OLD TO HAVE ANOTHER BABY!! We will both be well over 41 when the baby arrives, and a quick check of the history books will show that we will be the oldest parents of a newborn in the history of the world! We aren't ready for that kind of notoriety.

But despite all of these reasons, God apparently had different plans for us, and we are indeed having another baby, in lieu of our advanced geriatric ages. Our current kids, the Girl, the Boy, and the Little One, are all very excited, so that's fun. Almost everyone else we've told is quite excited too. I guess, if you ask us at the right time, we are starting to get a little excited, as well. I probably should be ecstatic, since just the other day I was thinking about how I haven't had many good ideas for blog subjects lately. Well, buckle up people! There's gonna be a slew of blog posts in the next few years! Just what you've always wanted...

Well, I guess it's obvious that this is our baby...I can't wait to find out if it's a girl or a boy!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Back In My Day...

Back in my day, a kid who had made it to the age of 17 or 18, or in some cases 25, and had fought his or her way through 13 years of misery known as school graduated but once, on the last day of his or her 13th year of school. We didn't have a kindergarten graduation. We didn't have an elementary school graduation. We didn't have a junior high graduation. We had one graduation, on the last day of our last year of 12th grade. We liked it that way. It gave us something to strive for as we slogged through our 13 years of misery. It was the way it was supposed to be. Period.

Nowadays it seems as though kids have a graduation ceremony every other week. They graduate from kindergarten. They graduate from 5th grade. They graduate from 8th grade. Some kids graduate from preschool. I've even heard of schools that have a graduation ceremony for every grade, every year! What is this world coming to?!?!
Might as well slap a mortarboard on them as soon as they come out of the womb...

I am writing about the good ol' days because we, as a family, are having our first of what will seem like hundreds of graduations tomorrow. The Girl is graduating from kindergarten. There will be a graduation ceremony. I am sure there will be pomp and circumstance. All the kindergarteners will be wearing robes and mortarboards. I think tassles will be involved. Parents will be pushing and shoving each other out of the way to snap yet another photo of their beloved hoodlum, I mean graduate. It will be pure chaos. And I will be there, thinking about the good ol' days and rolling my eyes. Oh, I'll also be hooting and hollering for my sweet little girl, and pushing and shoving my way into prime photo-taking territory. Is it difficult to take good photos while your eyes are rolling? I guess we'll find out tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The CK&C Guide to Guiding

Over the years I have played around with the idea of trying to be a part-time trout fishing guide. It would be fun to have a reason to go fishing more often, and for the most part I get along with almost all types of people, plus a little added income never hurt anyone. The idea has been percolating up in the recesses of my brain for a long time, but I've never pulled the trigger and actually started guiding, for two reasons.

The first reason is that one of the main duties of a fishing guide is to provide lunch for his clients. That means taking the time to slap together some sandwiches, putting some pops or waters in the cooler, and having some chips or other snacks at the ready. When it's just me going out, I just jump in the car and go, and worry about eating later. When hanging out at home, I am a grazer, eating all day long. But when I fish, I am there to fish, and I can go for hours, or even decades, without thinking of food. So, feeding my clients would be a huge drawback.

The second reason I've never started guiding is that there is a distinct possibility that a client could drown, and that would be a serious buzzkill. Even on seemingly quaint trout streams, where I would do most of my guiding, an uncoordinated novice fisherperson could easily step in the wrong spot and go tush-over-teakettle into moderately deep water. Have you looked at the average human these days? A lot of them are quite uncoordinated. I don't need that headache in my life.

So, I continue to not be a fishing guide. Except on rare occasions, when I take a friend or two out and show them the ropes when it comes to fly fishing. I have had the pleasure of taking my very coordinated friend Bryon out fly fishing a couple of times, and I am happy to say that he caught his first trout on a fly yesterday, along with several other trouts, a few suckers, and even a handful of sunfish. He even performed a beautiful LDR (Long Distance Release) on a brute of a brown trout that seemed to fly all over the pool before coming unattached to Bryon's fly. I witnessed that LDR from just a few feet away, and I am proud to announce that Bryon showed just the right amount of exasperation after the trout got off. No actual tears flowed, but I could tell that he was crying on the inside. Just like a seasoned fly fisherman!
The coordinated Bryon and his trout. He's so coordinated that he took this photo himself. Now that's coordinated! 

All this talk about guiding and trout and heartache reminds me that, although I am not a guide, I do fancy myself as a teacher of the sport, and I have an "Intro to Fly Fishing" class coming up in the near future through the city of Roseville, Minnesota's Community Education department. You can spend two nights learning more than you ever thought was possible to learn about fly fishing, and yet still just scratch the surface of this amazing sport. If you are interested, check out the Roseville website here. If you can't make it to the class, send me a note and maybe I will take you out on a guided trip. You'll have to pass a battery of tests first to prove how coordinated you are, but that shouldn't be difficult. Unless you are an average human...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Game of the Century

I was driving around with all three of my kids yesterday afternoon. Somehow the conversation turned to softball, specifically my softball game that was going to take place later that evening. So far the kids haven't gone to any of my games this season because they've all been past their bedtime, and that was going to be the case again last night. All three kids seemed honestly sad that they would miss yet another of my games, but the Little One had a great question for me. "Can we just watch it on TV, Daddy?" she asked, as innocently as a 3-year-old can. If only they, and everyone else in the world, could have. It truly may have been the Game of the Century, if a mid-May regular season Church League softball game could ever hold that title...

The game started out looking like anything but a Game of the Century contender. My team, from my tiny little Wesleyan Church that is tucked in a seemingly hidden corner of NE Minneapolis, was taking on the hated Lutherans from the mega-church known as St. Andrews. I should state here that we don't actually hate any Lutherans. It's just a ploy I use to try to get my team to play with an edge. I think my ploy just makes everyone laugh, but being loosey-goosey can be a good thing when playing sports, too.

So, we were playing the guys from St. Andrews, and we were up to bat first. We were amazing, hitting sharp line drives and deep towering fly balls all over the field. And we were being aggressively smart on the base paths, too. It also didn't hurt that the opposing pitcher was having trouble finding the strike zone, as we took our fair share of walks. Before anyone could blink, we were ahead 14-0 after the first half inning. It was looking like another slaughter, just like our first two games of the year were. There was much jubilation on our bench, and much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the St. Andrews bench.

But then, like in many sporting events, there was a massive change of momentum. Apparently from the first inning to the second, we forgot how to hit, and St. Andrews remembered how to play. At the end of the first inning, the score was 14-2. Then after 2 innings it was 14-6. Then 14-8. Then we had a slight relapse and scored 5 runs to go up 19-8. Then it was 19-15. This was getting far too close for my comfort. I much prefer games in which we continue to annihilate the opposition from beginning to end. Not only were we not annihilating them any more, it was becoming quite apparent that St. Andrews had a very good chance of winning. No good.

So, the score was 19-15 going into the bottom of the last inning. We had to keep them from scoring 4 or more runs, but they had all the momentum, and we were listless and worried. That is not a good combination in sports, if you didn't already know that. The first batter got a sharp line drive single to left. Not a good start. The second guy got a sharp line drive single up the middle. Still not good. Next guy got a double down the line. Even worse. Now they had runners on second and third with no outs, and had already scored a run, making it 19-16. Next guy got a single. Oh no!! Two runs scored, making it 19-18, and still there was nobody out. By this time the area around second base looked more like a puddle than a ball field, from all of my cold sweat. My steely exterior was starting to rust.
Not a good fielding position when you are playing 2nd base...

The fifth batter of the inning also got a single, so there were runners on first and second with no outs. It was all I could do to not go into the fetal position at this point. My nerves were as tattered as could be. The sixth batter of the inning hit a rocket down the 3rd base line. Thankfully our 3rd base guy, Delton, made a great heads-up play, or else the game might have ended right there. The next guy hit a soft liner to left-center field, but not deep enough for anyone to score, so now the bases were loaded with just one out. The tying runner was on 3rd base, and the winning run was on 2nd. I was having a total conniption fit, and possibly hyperventilating...I'm not sure because I think I also blacked out for a few minutes.

I must not have been out for too long, because when I came to, we were still ahead by one run, and the Lutherans still had the bases loaded with just one out. Their fastest runner was up to bat, and things were not looking good for us. Our pitcher, my good friend Joe, was as cool as a cucumber on the mound, even though the count was full and one more "ball" would walk in the tying run. Joe threw a beautiful pitch, and their guy swung with all of his might. Perhaps he swung too hard, because he fell down trying to get out of the batters' box. He hit a routine ground ball to our heroic shortstop, Doug, who stepped on 2nd base, and then fired a strike to first base for a game-ending and conniption-ending double play. Ahh, the jubilation that erupted from my teammates was so fun. Too bad it wasn't on TV. It would have been fun to watch!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

10 Things I Hate About Spring

Don't get me wrong, I love spring. It is my favorite season of the year. There's new growth everywhere, the grass is growing, there are bugs all over the place (this is a good thing if you're a buggy guy like me), and the fish are biting. But that doesn't mean everything about spring is perfect. Oh no. There are plenty of things to hate about spring. Since you've read this far, why not check out my 10 Things I Hate About Spring?

1. Our three trees. Yes, we only own three trees, but all of them are enormous maples, and if you know anything about enormous maples, you know that they drop a lot of stuff. First of all, early in the spring, every branch and twig sprouts millions of these little red things. I am not sure what they are, technically speaking, but they seem like buds of some kind. Whatever they are, they all fall out of the trees at the slightest provocation. If there are wind gusts, they fall out. If there is a slight breeze, they fall out. If it rains, they fall out. If a duck flies by, they fall out. If you look at the tree cross-eyed, they fall out. All of this falling out wouldn't be so bad, except they all fall onto our driveway, sidewalk, or directly onto our cars, where they become stuck and ooze red goo all over everything. Plus, a great number of them get stuck on our shoes and then end up getting dragged into our house, where their red goo gets embedded in the carpet. Immediately after the red bud things are done the helicopters start to fall, covering the ground for miles in every direction. They too get stuck on everything. They are almost as bad as the red things. I hate them.

2. I can't think of anything else right now because thinking about our stupid trees for the past 20 minutes has made me too furious to think about other things I hate about spring. If I can calm down and stop thinking about our evil trees for a while, I will continue this post at a later time. If not, you may just find me out in the yard doing something drastic with my chainsaw.
This is a photo of one of our idiotic enormous maples from last fall. Notice how it held onto its leaves until after the first snow. This is just another example of how evil our trees are. I hate them.