Monday, October 27, 2014

Why Don't You Make Like a Tree, and Leaf

The Wife and I have a love/hate relationship with our trees, a relationship which is tipped, for a large portion of the year, very much towards the "hate" side of the scale. Right now it might be more like loathing, or even abhorrence. Our trees are the worst!

To be honest, we only have three trees on our property, but the smallest of them is gigantic, and the others get bigger from there. They are all maples, so in the spring, as soon as the air temperature in Minnesota warms up from "ice age" to just slightly frigid, all three trees form these red bud-like things that stay on the branches for approximately four minutes, until they all fall off and completely cover our yard, driveway, and cars, turning everything into a squishy red mess.

More and more of these red things grow on the trees for a few weeks, and then about two hours after they have all fallen, the trees start to drop their helicopters all over the place. If we want to go anywhere outside of our house, we have to walk through a sticky hodgepodge of red goo and helicopters, which then gets tracked all over our house and in our cars and wherever we happen to have driven. We should each probably start traveling with our own personal dustbuster so we can clean up after ourselves, but we aren't that forward-thinking. Perhaps next year, although I probably will have forgotten this great idea by then.

From about August 8th to August 17th our trees give us nothing but pleasure. They are fully leafed out, they don't bombard us with helicopters or red goo, and they are so large that they pretty much keep our entire house shaded all day long, significantly reducing our air conditioning bills. Then the first hint of fall comes, and the big, stupid tree in the back yard starts to lose its leaves, a process which takes approximately 6 months to complete. Our backyard is covered in a fresh blanket of leaves pretty much every day for those 6 months, no matter how tirelessly we try to get them all picked up the day before.

The two red maples in the front take pity on us during this time, by holding onto almost all of their leaves until after the first snow falls. Isn't that nice of them? It is super fun to try to go out and pick up leaves while also trudging through ankle-deep snow drifts. Plus it's a great aerobic exercise. You should really try it some time.
This was one of our red maples last year, right after it snowed for the first time. It's one of the most evil trees on God's green earth...

So, to make a long story longer, we hate our trees. If any of you love raking leaves more than anything in the world, come over to our house any time between now and Christmas. Watch out for the red goo.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Don't Be So Grabby!


I have been trying to rack my brain lately, in hopes of remembering why I ever bought one of those Grabber thingies that you see on the "As Seen On TV" shelves at WalMart and Walgreens stores. I have owned one of them for a long time, but no matter how hard I try, I can't remember why I was ever moved to buy it in the first place. I guess that doesn't matter. What does matter is that it has become probably the most beloved tool in our house. Let me explain.
I love my Grabber thingy...
At our old house, we only used the Grabber thingy to pick up the trash that would collect along our edge of the pond every winter. The trash wouldn't reveal itself until all the snow had melted every spring, which was OK by us. Who wants to go out on a typical -40 degree day in a typical Minnesota January to pick up trash? Not me. So, once the snow would melt in mid-August, I would take my trusty Grabber out and pick up all the old, soggy newspapers, plastic bags, used diapers, and whatever else we would find washed up on our shore. The Grabber thingy and I really got that shoreline clean. Ahh, those are some good memories!

We currently don't live on a pond, but our Grabber thingy has come in even more handy than it did at our old house. Now, instead of boring old garbage, I use it to pick up all the mouse corpses, along with the handy-dandy reusable mouse traps that are clenched tightly around their tiny skulls, that have fallen behind either the washing machine or dryer. I have caught most of our mice up on a ledge in the laundry room, and when those plastic jaws of death snap down on their little vermin-heads, the force can make the whole thing go flying in any direction. I sure wouldn't want to climb behind the dryer and try to reach them with my bare hands! That would be gross! Thank you, Grabber thingy, for saving the day!

Another gross thing has a tendency to happen upstairs in any of our bathrooms, all of which came equipped with toilets. Sometimes, with three small children in the house, toilet lids can be left up, whether or not the person who left the lid up has remembered to flush said toilet. With the lid up, it is very easy for any number of small items, such as barrettes, steak knives, stuffed animals, toothbrushes, etc. to get dropped into the toilet, which as I said, may or may not have been flushed. Well, I definitely am not going to reach into a possibly unflushed toilet just to get a now-unusable toothbrush! So I go get my trusty Grabber thingy and we get the whatever-it-is-that-fell-in-the-toilet out together. I'm so glad I own a Grabber thingy...

So, this is my Public Service Announcement for today: if you are about to become a house- or baby-owner, go get yourself one of those Grabber thingies at your local retail establishment as soon as possible. At some point you will have a reason to use it, and you will be glad to know it's already in the house.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wedding Food Review, Tumbleweed Edition

Being a lifelong Midwesterner, I thought that tumbleweeds had gone the way of the dinosaur. I figured that us ingenious humans had probably found a way to eradicate tumbleweeds by now, making them a thing of the past that could only be found in old John Wayne movies. Or Wile E. Coyote cartoons. But no, tumbleweeds are still alive and well, and I learned that firsthand on our way back from my cousin Grahm's wedding in Colorado over the weekend. Who would have ever thunk it?

Yes, we saw, and drove over, billions of tumbleweeds blowing around in the vast wastelands known as eastern Colorado and western Nebraska. I saw a couple that were as big as elephants. One that was only hippopotamus-sized jumped out at us unexpectedly and got stuck on our front grill for a half hour or so as we drove down Highway 80, until an extra large gust of wind finally blew it off right into the windshield of a passing State Trooper. There are still some remnants of it stuck in various nooks and crannies of the van. I'm probably going to leave them there to see how long it takes for them to fall out on their own (actually I'm going to leave them there because I'm lazy, but don't tell anyone).

The tumbleweeds were but a minor nuisance though, since we were so excited about the wedding. Grahm is an awesome guy who spent several years being a fly fishing guide at a dude ranch in Colorado, so he is a man after my own heart. His courtship of his now-wife, Carrie, had been a whirlwind over the past few months, so we were excited to meet her and welcome her to the family. And I was excited to eat some delicious food, since we all know that will be the only thing about the wedding I will remember in a few years...

And, let me tell you, the food was delicious! Both at the Groom's dinner on Saturday and at the wedding on Sunday. Neither were catered, so all the accolades need to go to the families of the bride and groom. On Saturday we had some really yummy pulled pork sandwiches with various side dishes, and on Sunday they had, get this, a BACON BAR at the reception! As much as we could eat of four different types of bacon, all cooked to perfection. I usually am not a fan of sweet bacon, but even the maple cured bacon was delicious! I was accused, by a certain other cousin of mine, of being the reason they ran out of bacon. Um, what did they expect when they invited me? Hello?!?!

Oh yeah, there was other yummy stuff there too, like lots of different quiches, and biscuits and gravy, and loads of little pastries. The bacon bar was the thing that stood out to me, though. Oh yeah, and somebody got married. Who was that again...?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I Thought I Knew How To Be Creepy...

I've been feeling pretty creepy lately. Not my normal, say-inappropriate-things-at-innappropriate-times kind of creepy, but a totally different kind of creepy. And I'm not talking about looking up everybody I meet on facebook to see what's going on in their life. That is being a "creeper", which is also something I do, but that's not what I'm writing about now.

The creepy I have been feeling lately is more of a pre-Halloween, try-to-freak-out-my-kids kind of creepy. Usually I'm not like this at all. I know I didn't want to be freaked out when I was a kid, and I usually am nice enough that I don't try to freak out our kids. But lately I haven't been able to control myself.

The creepiness has unfolded like this: I have been working diligently at cleaning out our garage, so that we might actually be able to fit a vehicle in there once the snow starts flying. Which, here in the frigid land known as Minnesota, could happen any second. So, I have spent several evenings and a couple of full days out in the garage cleaning up.

As I've been cleaning, I've come across a few boxes that never got unpacked when we first moved into the house. Nestled within a couple of boxes were some toys, toys that I'm sure our kids had totally forgotten about. So, I thought it would be fun to give them back to the kids. But, instead of just handing them to the kids, I decided to do it as creepily as I could think of. I waited until the kids were in bed, then I placed a toy at the bottom of the stairs, in front of the door that leads to the kids' playroom. That way, the toy would seem to be "waiting" for them the next morning when they went down to play.

I thought this was totally creepy, and very funny, but my kids didn't seem to be too impressed. Or freaked out. The first morning, the Boy just brought the toy upstairs, asked me where it came from, and then told me he didn't want to play with it. This morning, when I placed a Cabbage Patch doll down there, there was no reaction from any of the kids.

Maybe I'm not as creepy as I thought I was. Maybe it's time to go back to saying inappropriate things. I know I'm good at that...
The Cabbage Patch doll, waiting for the kids to come downstairs. Isn't that at least a little creepy? I thought so...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Something to Celebrate........?

Courtesy of Warner Bros.
This is the 300th post in the history of Chaotic Kids & Clutter. When I sit down and think about it, it makes me wonder how there could have ever been 300 things in my life that were worth writing about. When I think that thought, I then move on to wonder if maybe there were some things I probably shouldn't have written about. But, I'm not one to brood over negative concepts like that, so instead let's celebrate my compulsion to write, whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. Celebrating is more fun than brooding, I always say.

To get ready for the celebration, we went through every single post we've ever written, looking for the best ten. Our first task was to discard all the fluff and piffle, but then we realized that's all there was. So we dug all the fluff and piffle out of the dumpster, and went through it all to find the fluffiest and piffliest, if that's a word. Here, in absolutely no order, are the top ten posts in the history of Chaotic Kids & Clutter, as judged by me, the person who wrote it all, although you could argue that other posts should have been included instead...Oh well:
  • Anatomically Correct, October 22, 2012 - This post dealt with the delicate situation that arose when the Boy and I were discussing his, um, tiddly bits...It was more than a little awkward.
  • This Post is Icky, March 8, 2013 - The Little One was still the Baby at this time, and she did something in the bathroom that is almost unspeakable. That doesn't mean I didn't want to write about it, though...
  • Hold On To Your Tire Covers, July 15, 2014 - This was a very popular post I wrote about our summer vacation in our brand new very used pop-up camper...
  • Inside a Baby's Head, November 15, 2012 - I may not be a Dr., but I have a good idea on how things work...
  • T.M.I., March 1, 2013 - Believe me, this post really is T.M.I...
  • My Son, the Cow, September 10, 2012 - This is an oldie but a goodie. Thankfully the Boy doesn't still think he's a cow. He's more like a mule now...
  • The Lunker Hunters, May 30-2014 - I just realized I write a lot about fishing. No wonder this blog is so awesome!
That's it, those are the Top Ten posts, as far as this blogger is concerned, as of right now. Perhaps you have other favorites; I would love for you to go back and read through them all, and then let me know which ones you like. Oh, and tell all your friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and mortal enemies to do the same. We can use all the readers we can get. :-)

Thanks for humoring me by reading my silly posts. I invite you to stick around for the next 300! Thanks again!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

An Update on "Kissing Bob"

Last week I wrote about how my dear, sweet, innocent kindergartener, the Girl, was kissed (I believe I used the term defiled, which is probably more accurate) by a conniving, tricky, up-to-no-good boy, whom I called "Bob" (not his real name). I thought I should post an update so everyone can know what's going on with this situation.

I had plans to go and have words with this Bob, and possibly rough him up a little, you know, not in a violent way. Maybe I would steal his favorite Legos, or smush his sandwich before lunch, or something like that, just to let him know that I mean business, and to make him think twice about kissing my daughter again any time soon.

Turns out I didn't have to do anything that drastic. Bob got moved to a different Kindergarten class. I assumed it was because he heard I was gonna come "have words" with him and he begged school officials to let him switch classes. The Wife thinks that he just got switched because the school added another class to ease the overcrowding in the other classes, and every class had to give up a few kids. That sounds pretty fishy if you ask me.

I'm thinking that if Bob knows what's good for him, he'll warn all the other conniving boys who are up to something to stay away from the Girl. If you have a kindergarten-aged boy, I would suggest you do the same...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

New House Rules

Things have gotten a bit unruly around our house lately, so I think the only way to combat it is to install a new
house rule. I probably should have instituted this rule even before the Wife and I got married, oh so many years ago. But, there's no sense crying over spilled milk, or anything else that might happen to get spilled during a normal day at our house.

Yes, it's about time for this burly manly man to put his foot down. I don't want my new rule to hinder anyone's creative juices, and I certainly don't want to cramp anyone's personal style, even though I kind of doubt that a 2-, 4-, and 5-year-old actually have their own personal styles yet. They pretty much just do what we tell them or they get a timeout. But that's beside the point...

My new rule will be fair to everyone, and will help to instill a sense of order, harmony, and all-around calm that has been lacking for what seems like several years now. I think many of you will deem my new rule to be ingeniously simple, and you may want to adopt it for your own household. I am cool with that, as long as you refer to it as "Scott's Rule" (Copyright pending) whenever you use it.

I think it's about time to unveil my new rule. Are you ready to be amazed? Are you ready to have your life transformed? Are you ready for order, harmony and calm to take over your house? Me too! So here is Scott's New House Rule:

Everyone in the house has the ability to purchase any fly rod they want, at any time, as long as it costs under $30*. Doesn't that sound like a great rule? And it applies to everyone, so it's as fair as fair can be. Just think, I anyone can continue to expand my their fly rod collection, slowly but surely. Believe me, it's hard to find good fly rods for under $30, so it's not like you would be spending a huge amount of money ever. Plus, I a person can never own enough fly rods - just ask anyone who fly fishes. It's a perfect rule! Why didn't I think of this sooner?!?!

As soon as I implement this new rule, I expect the chaos in our house to dwindle. I will let you know how it goes when I do. Look for my report in a future blog post after all the kids finish college or I win the lottery, whichever happens first...

* Not including tax or shipping charges.

Monday, September 22, 2014

I'm Not Ready For This

I really am not ready for this. My kids are growing up too fast. I want them to be my happy-go-lucky, innocent, sometimes-angelic kids forever. Now I know that's not going to happen...

I have oftentimes kidded with the Wife about how I won't let our two girls, the Girl and the Little One, start dating until they are 30. The Wife usually gives me a polite giggle, but to be honest, I am only half kidding. I know how boys are. I was a boy once, and still act like one often. Boys are, generally speaking, up to something. And I don't want that something to include my sweet little girls.

I seem to have a lot of work to do, though. I realized that last Wednesday. It was my day to be home when the Girl got home from school. She cheerfully got off the bus and ran into my arms to give me a big ol' hug, like she has done a billion times over the past five years. We went inside to drop off her backpack, then quickly went out and got in the car so I could take her to her Grandma & Grandpa's house, where her siblings were already waiting. After dropping her off I was going to head out of town for a couple of days with some friends from church.

I wanted to find out how the Girl's day at kindergarten had been, so I asked a bunch of the normal questions during the short drive to Grandma's house: Who did she sit by on the bus? How was her teacher, Mr. B.? Did she eat her lunch? And so on...

After that I asked if she had played with some of the friends she had told me about in previous conversations...Ethel; Laurie; Kevin. She answered yes to all of them. Then, without any prodding, and without any warning, she matter-of-factly blurted out "I kissed Bob and Bob kissed me." WHAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!?!? I was not ready for that news. It hit me like a ton of bricks. My sweet, little, innocent princess had already been defiled by some......boy?!?!?!?! Just two weeks into kindergarten?!?!?!

It took me a while to compose myself after that one, but finally I was able to mumble out a "Oh, that's nice. Where did you kiss him?"

"In school", she replied, as innocently as could be.

"No, I mean did you kiss him on the..."

"He kissed me on the cheek, and I kissed him on the cheek."

"Oh, OK..." I didn't know what else to say. Thankfully we arrived at Grandma's house, so I shooed her inside and then made my way to meet my friends. I don't really remember the trip out of town. I must have been too worked up to notice anything.

I am definitely not ready for my little girl to grow up. But it looks like I better get myself ready. Apparently there are a lot of five-year-old boys out there that are up to something...
I was not there to see the kiss, so this is an artist's rendering of it. It's probably best that I wasn't there, because I might have smacked that kid...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Our Kids Put the "Clutter" in Chaotic Kids & Clutter

We are trying to figure out how to teach the kids to clean up their toys each night. As you can tell, we have no clue. I was thinking about putting all the toys that didn't get put back on the toy shelf in a bag and not giving them back until the kids can prove they can clean up better. But then they wouldn't have any toys to play with tomorrow... At least this mess is downstairs, behind a closed door, where I can ignore it. I think I will do just that!

The Art of Gluttony

I like to eat. Eating is awesome. There's no other way that I can think of to accurately describe it, so I will stop there.

One of the things I love to eat is seafood. Especially shrimp. Especially shrimp scampi. I love it. So, whenever Red Lobster has their bi-annual Endless Shrimp promotion, the family makes a point of heading over there at least once to endlessly eat as much shrimp as we can. Usually Grandma D pays, which makes the endless eating even that much more fun. Thanks Grandma D!

Over the years, I have made an art out of eating as much shrimp I can. Really I only do it so that Grandma D gets her money's worth. I'm always thinking of others, as you have probably noticed from previous posts. There are several things I do to ensure a good return on her investment. First of all, I try not to eat as much before our trip to Red Lobster as I would on a normal day. A couple of times I made the mistake of not eating at all for several hours before the shrimp fest, but I quickly learned that doesn't work because my stomach shrunk and I didn't have as much room for shrimp. I gotta eat beforehand, just not as much as usual.

Secondly, I make sure that I always put in my next order of shrimp when they bring a plate out to me. Sitting around, waiting for shrimp to arrive just allows your stomach time to feel full. If you keep shoveling those bad boys in without taking a break, you can get more in there before your stomach has a chance to react.

Thirdly, don't fill up on non-shrimp calories. Sure, the cheesy biscuits are delicious, but would you rather eat one biscuit or 10 extra shrimp? I would choose the shrimp every time. Same goes with french fries or whatever side order I have chosen. As soon as my plate arrives, I take the side order off the plate and give it to the Wife or any other random unsuspecting person within 15 feet of me. I am there to eat shrimp, and shrimp is what I will eat.

All of these rules have made me an Olympic-caliber shrimp eater, if I do say so myself. My record is eating 10 plates of shrimp, which I estimated to be around 200 of the little buggers. I have done that twice in my life. Both times I had some considerable gastrointestinal unease afterwards, but it was totally worth it. Last night I was only able to eat 8-and-a-half plates, which was a little disappointing, but at least I felt fine all night. Kind of makes me think I should have kept eating...