Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Eleven questions that will prove your brain is rotting away

This is a quiz for parents of young children. I've written it to serve as clinical proof that your brains are rotting away. You continually tell your friends and family that your kids watch the same shows over and over again and that you tune them out, but let's face it - you've memorized every line from Hannah Montana's theme song and then some. It will be stuck forever like Gorilla glue in the hypothalamus.

Take this quiz, jot down your answers, then click on the comments area to see how you did. If you get more than 75% right you should seek treatment immediately by renting the entire James Bond 007 series on DVD and watching it start to finish.

1. What kind of animal is Gary?

2. The gang from the Suite Life moved from a hotel to...

3. Did the monkey mail come?

4. Who's the dumber one, Zack or Cody?

5. Who plays Hannah Montana's dead mom?

6. Who is captain of the Wildcats?

7. Moose A. Moose doesn't like what kind of treat?

8. Who's afraid of Sea Snarks?

9. What's going to work?

10. Put it all together and you know...

11. Bonus question: What's the release date of HSM3?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Can I talk about my day?

Recently our household has fallen into what appears to be a new tradition. Each night at dinner, we each get to talk about our day. Now, it's not what it seems. It's not like we're the Cleaver family, and little Nancy gets to talk about her new bike with the shiny pedals while Beaver gets to describe how he hit a sody-pop can with his new slingshot. No, this tradition started as a way of curbing the insanity at the dinner table, and unfortunately it has gone horribly awry.

Dinner has always seemed to be way too chaotic. First there was the matter of cooking it. After a long day of dealing with two small children at home, Supermom understandably doesn't feel exactly energized to create a gourmet feast. No biggie, frozen corn is fine by me. But there was also the issue of simply clearing off the table enough to find a place to sit as a family and eat. Our dining table is adjacent to the TV room, so usually the daily viewings of Hannah Montana and Zack & Cody were held while either snacking or coloring at said table. Thus, in order to set it for dinner we first had to call in a wrecking crew just to clear it off.

Once dinner was served, there's the issue of the "get up" chair. The girls had a secret game where they determined that either mommy or daddy was in the get up chair, and with that chair came the responsibility of getting up to obtain refills of milk, macaroni, or steamed peas.

And then there was the general disorder of dinner. The slurping. The spills. The pretend fart noises. And the kids did all that too! We decided we needed to do something to bring the chaos down a notch, so we suggested going around the table and each talking about our day.

What we expected to happen was this. We expected to ask Natalie how 2nd grade was. We expected "good" as an answer. When asked what she did today, we expected a response of "nuttin." Instead, we were answered with a flurry of endless details about the sequence of events from math class to gym class to recess to lunch to the trip home on the bus to the latest details of the new Spongebob Squarepants episode that was Tivo'd last night. Exhausting yes, but certainly descriptive.

And then we turned to Jessica. Having just turned 5, Jessica's view of the world is pretty basic. If it's clay, I should play with it. If it's a crayon, I should color with it. And if it's my turn to talk, I make sure I get every last minute of my allotted time to talk without interruption.

Here's a typical response from Jessica when asked about her day:

"Today at preschool, we made leaf...we made...leaf...paintings. Mine was a green leaf. And it was SOOOOO big! I never seen a leaf that big. And me and Benny...Benny...he chased me all the time today. I mean he chased me on the playground and tried to catch me but I ran too fast and he couldn't catch me. And...and...we had grapes for snack. And guess what! Guess what else I had daddy! For snack! Nope, it wasn't milk! Nope, it wasn't apple juice! It was...Strawberry milk! But I didn't like it. I like white milk. And then....SISSY! STOP INTERRUPTING ME! Mommy, Sissy interrupted me and that hurt my feelings. Look Sissy, this potato looks like a car! And then mommy and I went after school to Target, and she bought me Hello Kitty pencils. And I had a hot dog! And...ooops. Hee hee...I farted. It was a real fart! And then we came home..and then...and then....wait...I forgot what I was going to say...what was it? Oh yeah, Daddy, when are we going to Disney again? We haven't gone to Disney all year and forever and I want to see the Little Mermaid show at MGM and remember the hotel with the log cabin and where Sissy threw up? I like flying."

As a result of all this, we're starting a new post-dinner tradition. Two Advil and a nap after every meal.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My sister's Big Fat Gay Wedding Cake

Seems I'm not the only member of the family getting stuff posted out in the hinterlands of the internet. My sister is a purveyor of fine pastries and cakes, and made this cake for a victory celebration in Hartford, CT after the State Supreme Court's ruling in favor of same-sex marriage last week. BTW she's available to bake for weddings, birthdays, bat mitzvahs, and coming-out parties.

I had another title to this post in mind, but my big fat sister made me change it. The meanie.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My second fifteen minutes

Boy, it seems this is the week for getting published. Or something like that.

Over the past year I discovered a woodworking website called The Wood Whisperer, managed by a real swell guy named Marc Spagnuolo. A professional craftsman, he enjoys making and posting videos of his work in an effort to share his skills, hints and tips and hopefully teach a little something to budding young woodworkers such as myself. I've learned quite a bit by watching his stuff.

Recently he offered up an area of the site called ""Shop of the Week", where individuals can post pics and descriptions of their own shops, or lack thereof. I got bored one day, so I sent mine in. And here it is.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Flickr gives me my 15 minutes

Originally uploaded by daninhim
Flickr has given me 15 minutes of fame through a photo credit. I took this picture a while back of the stools at Klavon's Ice Cream Parlor, an authentic and nostalgic vintage ice cream shop in the Strip District in Pittsburgh. Recently I received an email from the editors of Creative Nonfiction, a non-profit currently launching a website called “Pittsburgh in Words,” as part of Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary celebration. The site features classic nonfiction pieces about the city by well-known Pittsburgh authors, and they asked if they could use my photo for one of the stories, "The Beacon" by Gerald Stern. Here's the story. I'm touched. And, no I don't know who Foo is either.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Gutting the festering craphole

I've said it before and I will say it again. Young children are capable of many amazing things, but bathroom neatness is not one of them. I believe it has to do with not yet studying physics in school. They don't tend to understand how gravity affects the landing coordinates of toothpaste globs formed when brushing one's teeth with one's mouth open. They don't understand the effect of centrifugal (or is that centripetal, I forget) force on soapy, wet hands when doing a ballerina twirl to reach the hand towel on the wall opposite the sink. And that classic equation Force=Mass times Acceleration has no bearing on the way a child turns the faucet handle on full blast in order to fill a Dixie cup, sending the cup careening off the lip of the sink and onto the floor to rest amongst the vast array of wet bath towels, shower puddles, and soap-scum-caked bath toys already amassed on the bathroom floor.

My initial goal had been to redo the kids' bathroom only after that moment of shining epiphany when the girls realize it's better to spit toothpaste downwards into the sink instead of forward onto the mirror. But then the vanity door rusted off. And the faucet began to leak. And the sink stopper disintegrated into a pile of dust, hair, and brass shavings. No, we can't take any more of this. The time has come.

So consider this posting to be Chapter One of what may very well be a long and twisted saga of bathroom renovation. I expect to be dealing with situations like trying to explain to my four-year-old that orange and purple are not options for wall color. Or that there are no plans to add a sauna. Or that we are not replacing the shower with a hot tub like "the ones they have in Canada" (we stayed at a Canadian Hotel once and now she thinks only Canadian hotels have hot tubs).

Of course, daily life often gets in the way of projects such as these. In fact my neighbor informed me he started redoing his kids' bathroom two years ago, and there's still only a coat of primer on the walls. So, to force the issue, once day while the family was out shopping I took it upon myself to remove the sink. It shouldn't take too long before my lovely wife finds extra time in her very busy schedule to look through paint swatches and tile samples in an effort to get the kids to stop trashing the guest bathroom.

Tune in next time when our hero says, "Honey? Got the number for that plumber?"

My new toy

Okay, finally some pics of my new toy. This is a fun little car. Drives nice, not as good as it should be on gas, but very sure-footed, peppy, and zippy (which ironically are also the names of two of my daughters' Webkins).