Friday, December 12, 2014

Surly...or Superlatively Smart?

I may have mentioned this a time or two before, but the Little One was not always the cherubic little angel that she is now. No. In fact, for the first two years of her life, she was ornery, antagonistic, unruly, and every other adjective that might possibly be used to describe a baby who was a complete jerk. In fact, I wrote about how she was a jerk right here on this very blog when she was just a few months old. I don't remember exactly what she had done that made me write that, but I write nothing but the truth here, so obviously it was something heinous.

When she turned two, about 9 months ago now, a very small internal switch must have gotten flipped. She slowly started to not be such a jerk, although it occurred at the pace of an arthritic snail with severe gout. Nowadays she is quite pleasant most of the time, and in fact, if I can trust you to keep a secret, some days she's even what I would call my favorite. I know, right?

I guess she's not a jerk, she's just misunderstood!
The whole time she was being a jerk the Wife and I wondered what the reason could have possibly been. We kept her fed. We kept her in clothes. Our house is completely full of toys. We even usually remembered to change her diaper. Why was she so surly?!?! At one point the Wife and I joked that maybe she was so angry because she was actually brilliant, but she had no way of communicating with anyone, so she continually got frustrated with life. Everyone had a good chuckle at that one, but now we've learned that might have been the case all along!

For reasons that I won't go into here, the Little One has been undergoing a litany of tests to test her cognitive and verbal skills. The cognitive tests came first, and on the first day of testing we were all astonished to hear that she was solving problems, comprehending things, and doing all the other cognitive things at the level of a 7-year-old!!! What?!?!  She's only 2-and-a-half, how could that be? Don't get me wrong, I was very excited to hear we have such a bright little girl...I'm just a little worried she's going to surpass her old man's brainpower sooner than I expected. Like next week, maybe!

Oh well, I guess we should all strive to have kids that are smarter than we are. Deep down inside, I hoped that would happen, some day. Like, when she was 35!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Midlife Crisis, Hanson-Style

I haven't written on the ol' blog for a while. I would like to say that it's because I've been out helping the poor and needy and carrying random little old ladies, and their four heaping bags of groceries, across streets all over the Twin Cities, but that's not the case. Instead, I think I've been going through a little mini midlife crisis, not that I think my life is at all crisis-like. On the contrary. My life is pretty much idyllic, when I stop and think about it. I have a super hot wife who puts up with me; I have three kids who don't wail and gnash their teeth more than a few times every day; I have two dogs who...well, let's just leave it at that; I have four walls and a roof over my head; I live in a very peaceful part of the metro area and all of our neighbors seem to be high-quality; and I am surrounded by gracious and loving people who help us out through all of life's ups and downs. What more could a dude ask for?

Yet, something has been missing. And I have been filling it with stuff. Not the normal stuff that is associated with midlife crises, though. There is not a shiny new sports car out in our driveway, and there's no chance I will ever try to trade in my current hot wife for a different hot wife. That would be crazy. Instead of lusting after all the "normal" midlife crisis stuff, I have been lusting over something even worse: fly rods. I know, I am sick. Tell me something I don't know.

What's weird is that I haven't even been lusting after shiny new fly rods, you know the super high-tech graphite ones that can cost well over $700. And I have no interest in the meticulously hand-crafted bamboo rods that can cost several thousands. No, instead, I have been spending hour after hour scrounging through the rod listings on ebay searching for 30-, 40-, and even 50-year-old fiberglass fly rods that probably cost less than $15 when they were new, and now range from $10-$50, depending on the shape they are in. I don't think I'm hooked up right...

A beautiful scene. Photo by Nathan Chapman
Yeah, I've been in a fiberglass fly rod frenzy lately, which is weird. The good thing is, despite the low prices, I haven't bought many. I mean, I don't have any time to fish, any way, so why am I lusting after all these old rods? I guess I just like to look, which, when I write it out like that, makes my problem seem even creepier than I realized.

At least I can admit that I have a problem. Now I can start the process of ending this midlife crisis and getting better, by asking for help. Or by asking for $25 so I can get that sweet little L.L. Bean rod I've had my eyes on...Hey, it's not like it's a new Corvette or anything!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things!

I think I may have come up with an idea for a killer TV show, if I do say so myself. Picture, if you can, a friendly older celebrity of some sort, wearing a warm and colorful sweater, a sweater which exudes comfort, contentment, happiness and humor. This celebrity might be a little cantankerous some of the time, somewhat curmudgeonly at other times, but for the most part he would have a heart of gold, and that would show through in each episode, as he sits down and has heart-to-heart conversations with a bunch of angelic-looking young children. He would ask the children questions that would seem quite straightforward to all of the adult viewers at home, but the children, being as naive as they are cherubic, would answer in a way that only small children can: oftentimes silly, sometimes poignant, but always heartfelt, and in a way that will tug at the heartstrings of viewers of all ages. I think I have a hit on my hands with this idea, what do you think? And the best part is that cherubic-looking kids are a dime a dozen. They're everywhere! Now I just have to figure out which grandfatherly celebrity I should have ask the questions...I wonder if Ozzy Osbourne is doing anything these days...
Ozzy looks right at home in this comfy sweater, don'tcha think? Photo illustration by Scott Hanson

I got the idea for this awesome show because our three wunderkinds, the Girl, the Boy, and the Little One, have been saying a lot of silly things lately. I really should start carrying around a video camera all of the time so I have visual proof of all the silly things they say. I could have a TV show right there! Instead, I am forced to use my memory, one of the least dependable things on the planet, to remember all of the silliness. Here are a couple that somehow remained in my gray matter:

The Little One is now 2-and-a-half or so, so this is really her first winter that she can remember. She was over at her Grandma & Grandpa W.'s house the other day, and just happened to look out the window towards the lake they live on, which is already iced over and covered with snow, even though we haven't celebrated Thanksgiving yet. Don't get me started on the misery that is a Minnesota winter...Any ways, the Little One looked out the window and got a flabbergasted look on her face. "The lake is gone!!" she exclaimed with horror. Thankfully Grandma was able to get her settled down quickly. Living in a frozen wasteland like this can be very traumatic to a toddler!

The Girl was the perpetrator of the other silly saying. She was getting one of her regular piggy-back rides from yours truly. Everything was going smoothly, and we were having a lot of fun. Until she glanced down the back of my shirt, that is. "Daddy, you are hairy all the way down to your feet!" she blurted out. Looking back at the situation, I don't remember asking her for her opinion on the matter. Oh well. I have been called a Sasquatch countless times by one of my so-called friends, so I guess I should embrace the truth. The worst part was that I didn't even know how to respond when the Girl said that. I bet Ozzy would have said something witty if he was there...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Reverse Snowbird Syndrome

I have a lot of epiphanies when I am doing long, boring things that I don't enjoy. I guess it's because my mind starts to wander away from whatever it is I am doing, and moves on to other things. Actually, instead of wandering, it's more like my brain races away at the speed of light, or possibly 8-10 miles over the speed of light, which usually won't get you pulled over for speeding.

Any ways, my mind seems to have wandered off again as I was writing that last paragraph...what were we talking about again? Oh yes, long, boring things that I don't enjoy. In that category I would place listening to classical music, watching and/or playing soccer, mowing the lawn, and shoveling snow. I was doing the latter this morning when I had my most recent epiphany. I wouldn't call it one of the most profound epiphanies I have ever had, but then again, it wasn't a very heavy snowfall, so I wasn't shoveling for all that long...

Whilst shoveling the driveway, which I would soon leave in my vehicle for what would surely be an excruciatingly long commute on the snow-covered highways and byways of the greater Twin Cities Metropolitan area, I realized that most snowbirds have it all wrong. If you are unaware of the term "snowbird", it's the name we Minnesotans give to retired folks, or anyone, really, who leaves God's Country (Minnesota) for warmer climates (Florida and Arizona are the first to come to mind) in the fall, right before our weather turns from Eden-like to a frozen purgatory that lasts at least for the next 5 months (which seems more like 82 years).
This would be a perfect place to hunker down, if I was retired. Are you with me? Photo courtesy of sun-surfer.com.

But I think the whole "snowbird mindset" is backwards. Personally, instead of waiting until I am retired to move south and avoid the snow, I would rather move south now, while I am still working, so that my commute to work isn't 4 days, each way, like it was today in the snow. I wouldn't mind this kind of weather at all if I were retired. Retired people don't have to do anything if they don't want to, am I right? Winter weather like what we had today would be just another excuse to stay home and do whatever I want. And really, isn't that what retirement is all about? I can't wait.

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!

THE FOLLOWING IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FOR ALL FUTURE HOME OWNERS AND/OR PROSPECTIVE PARENTS. YOU CAN THANK ME LATER!

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...