Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mr. Mom -- Day #12

This was a relatively easy day. We started with everyone sleeping in a little later than usual (yeah!) after last night's later than normal bed time.

Low stress morning, during which I bottled a gallon of homebrewed beer, fed the kids, and got things ready for the week's biggest event -- Thomas'es Soccer Game! At least, that's the way he sees it. He had me tying his cleats on two hours before we needed to leave the house. That boy loves his soccer.

The game was fun to watch as almost all the kids on Thomas'es team scored. Thomas himself had four goals, and several good passes to teammates. And he was watched by Grandma, Dad, Kenneth, Anna, Uncle Bill, Heather and Abbey -- virtually his own cheering section. The lad was in seventh heaven.

Afterward, we had lunch at McDonalds, and then came home where all three kids played in their swimsuits using the hose (yeah, it was in the mid 80's here today. In March.). We dressed for church, and then headed over to get Pizza afterward. Once home, all three littles dressed for bed and did their weekend homework without complaint before watching an episode of Hercules. Bed was easy and non-controversial.

And between the kid activities, I also managed a workout, and a reformating of one of my novels for the Kindle.

All-in-all an easy and enjoyable day.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mr. Mom -- Day #11

As days go, this one wasn't too bad.

Lots of excitement as Grandma Miles was coming for a visit today. The morning started off pretty normally -- everything was smooth sailing getting ready for school. Thomas asked endless questions about when we would be going to get Grandma, which I think finally sank in.

After lunch, I took Thomas to school, came home, got a workout and shower in, and then prepared for a higher pitch balance of the day. First I picked up Thomas, then the twins. Sarah had a pajama day at school today, so she changed clothes in the car, and we headed to the airport. Grandma arrived without incident. Then it was off to El Bees for dinner.

Now El Bees is a very nice Mexican restaurant, but it isn't the kid's favorite. Yet they went along with the plan without significant complaint. After dinner, we went to the high school play (Captain Fantastic), and then home.

That's when the trouble, what little there was, began. I had a tough time getting them ready for bed. Understandable, given the break in the schedule and the visitor. My plan for the evening was to read to all three kids, and put all three to bed at the same time -- a strategy we use when the kids are going to bed late.

Didn't work tonight. Not well at all.

The first skirmish was over where kids would sit during reading the story. Then Thomas grabbed a stupid McDonalds toy and rushed over and dropped it in his toybox. Sarah immediately decided it was hers, and was scrounging around in Thomas' toy box while he balled, and I shouted progressively louder for her to stop and come back. Finally, I had to physically go over and retrieve her. I then managed to read Thomas' choice of stories, which Sarah consistently insisted on referring to as a "baby story." Finally, after much goading, he responded by saying he didn't want to listen to the twins' story.

We never got to their story. Sarah and Candace both next started a campaign in favor of me just tucking them in and leaving the room -- promising they would just go to sleep.

Now I wasn't born yesterday -- and after close to a thousand nights of "twin parenting" under our collective belts, experience indicated to me that: (1.) the twins will take advantage of any opportunity like that to misbehave, and (2.) the fact they were so insistent that it had to happen tonight, meant they had something they were planning.

So needless to say, I said "no." (which, according to those in the know, is my favorite word). That resulted in another argument which had me putting the books down and the kids in bed right then.

So, a relatively smooth day ending in bedtime controversy. It sure seems like I've seen this particular play a few hundred times.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mr. Mom -- Day #10

Today was another day from hell.

At least it was until I dropped the twins off at dance, then everything changed to cooperative mode.

But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

It was a very busy day. And started off in the negative column. Apparently it was Candace's turn to have a feak-out about clothes -- she couldn't find the jacket she wanted to wear to school (which she started looking for about thirty seconds before the bus was due).

Thomas knew we were going to leave the house, so he was dressed and ready to go by 8:15. Then proceeded to ask me every five minutes for the next two and a half hours when we were going to leave. I finally left a hair early, just to get him to relax a bit.

We stopped at Target for that important purchase of Play-Doh. Then met Bill at Cheeseburger in Paradise for lunch. Bill and I needed to sign the documents to renew our banking line for another year, which we did at one o'clock. Then Thomas and I beat a hasty retreat to the grocery store, where I shopped in record (for me) time. Racing home, my goal was to get the fridge items put away before going to the school to get the twins.

Apparently, the twins saw a demo from a jump-rope expert (who knew?) today, and there was an additional demo at the high school tonight from 7-8. When I explained that there was no way we could make it to the demo, Candace nearly had a meltdown on the spot. Instead of doing that, she was snotty to Sarah and Thomas. By the time we got home, everyone was crying or yelling. Or both.

The girls change into dance clothes, and we run to dance. More yelling -- there seems to be a high correlation between stress and "going someplace." I finally drop the girls, five minutes late, at dance. Thomas and I go over to the outlet mall to kill an hour, and at the end of that time, we buy some McDonalds which will serve as dinner. Then it was back to dance to get the twins. From there we went to Greenwood for soccer practice, with everyone eating in the car.

Then at soccer practice, everyone suddenly was happy. Thomas loves practice, so no suprise on his account. The twins played on the playground and kicked a soccer ball around, and I guess just decided life wasn't so bad -- even if you couldn't see the world's coolest jump roper for a second time in the same day! Things were nearly upset on the way home, when I realized the twins had dropped their nearly full cokes into their happy meal bags, and spilled coke all over the back seat of my car. Alas, the carpet will probably never fully recover. But everything cooled off for an on-time and low stress bedtime.

Go figure.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mr. Mom -- Day #9

Some days are easy. Others are difficult. This one fell more in the latter category.

It started early this morning, when Candace flipped out of -- yes, you guessed it, her clothes for school. I "solved" this by basically letting her wear whatever she wanted to (within reason).

A little later, it was Sarah's turn -- she had a fit because she couldn't find the jacket she wanted to wear. I admit, I didn't comb the house for it because she's left so many clothing articles at school over the last two years that I just assumed it must be there (I later found it in the office under the computer desk). She finally agreed to wear a less desirable one, only to immediately take it off an shove it in her backpack as soon as she was outside waiting for the bus.

Thomas was whiny all day long. You would think he was about to lose a limb, his stuffy nose and cold sore are so traumatizing. He's a bit easier to take than the twins, however, because I can placate him to an extent, and ignore some of his complaints.

When the twins arrived home from school, all was well as I prepared dinner -- a favorite selected just to please the kids -- spagetti and pesto sauce. After dinner the kids went outside while I cleaned up the dishes. When I went outside to tell the twins it was time for CCD, all hell broke loose. Candace had a complete 3 year-old tantrum. According to her, the CCD class only covers things she knows, so she shouldn't have to go. I ended up getting angry, which never results in good parenting. Then, to make matters worse, Sarah then started to goad Candace, which set off angry part 2. I eventually got them to CCD, a few minutes late, and everyone emotional.

By the time I got home, I was feeling bad about the whole incident. But when I picked the girls up, everything was back to happy-happy. Kids have really short memories about stuff like that, which can sometimes be irritating, and other times good. We came home, and I indulged all three in an episode of Hercules before a late bed time. Hopefully, I won't regret that tomorrow when I have to wake everyone up.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mr. Mom -- Day #8

Tim-Tam-Tommy is sick. Nothing serious -- just a head cold. And that cold sore in his mouth. But you would have thought he was on death's door. He couldn't walk up and down the stairs. The trampoline -- forget about it! He sat almost the entire day, lazing on the couch.

I did manage to get him to stir, briefly, for half an hour of catch with the football. And we did spend ninety minutes putting together a lego Truck-trailer-jet ski. (he calls them "puzzles" because the word "lego" just doesn't stick in his five year old mind.

Twins were a pain this morning -- both of them had a fit about their clothes (happened tonight too -- what is it with little girls and their clothes?), which they did again tonight as well until I let them change the outfits around -- Dad had foolishly picked something out....

For dinner, we had Chinese (A La Choy kit, which at least had me cutting and browning my own meat). Before even cooking it, Sarah had labeled it "disgusting." And yet, she at plenty once it was in front of her -- granted, mostly rice. "Disgusting" just sort of irked me.

Everyone was good at bedtime. We ordered the complete Magic Tree House book collection, which came in a couple of days ago, and I read the first three chapters of book 5 tonight -- the twins really like them. And since they were tired, it wasn't hard to get everyone to sleep.

Balance of the week looks considerably busier. Will see how it goes.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mr. Mom -- Day #7

Another gorgeous day outside today, but unfortunately Tim-Tam-Tommy seemed to be a bit under the weather. He complained about a sore in his mouth about ten times (a minor virus that everyone seems to get once in a while. Yeah, they hurt a little, but this is the kid who would gladly play a soccer game with a broken leg), and used up half a box of kleenex on his runny nose.

But I digress.

The morning started out fine, although I decided the twins didn't rinse enough conditioner out of their hair last night during showers, so their hair was a bit matted after sleeping on it all night. took forever to brush out, but I did eventually get it done. Then they were off to school.

As I mentioned above, Thomas was a bit of a slug, mostly wanting to just sit around and moan about this or that (I also removed a microscopic splinter from his thumb!).

The highlight of my day was finishing my taxes -- with the exception of three missing items -- and realizing we are going to get our first refund in ten years.

After school, the twins had a friend over to play, which created some negative dynamics among my kids -- particularly a whiny Thomas. But after breaking up several arguments, things seemed to stabilize. Dinner was steak, red potatoes and corn -- tasty, if I do say so myself.

Then we started a Xena-fest, watching two episodes before everyone went to bed. All-in-all, a good day.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mr. Mom -- Day #6

Today was like two different days.

The morning was relaxed and low key. An easy start to the day, and given the extremely warm weather (we broke 80 today), the kids spent much of the morning and early afternoon outside playing. I warmed Ethiopian leftovers for lunch -- they were good on the reheat. And then more play with the neighbor kids. I only made one mistake in the morning, starting my tax return, which always makes me a bit crabby.

The afternoon had a tactical error, and then several parental failures which made it much harder. I decided to take the kids to see the 4:20 showing of "The Lorax," which everyone enjoyed. Of course, the littles at piles of popcorn, but I didn't count that as a meal. So afterward, we stopped at Arbys for a dinner probably little better than popcorn from a nutritional standpoint.

Problem was really the time -- it was already 6pm when we got to Arbys, and I had a lot left to do before bed. So we raced home, showers for the little kids (including hair washing and conditioning for the girls), then pj's and hairstyling. The only smart thing I did tonight was to persuade Anna to do the hair. While she did that, I got beds ready, gathered the trash, and put on an episode of Hercules to "sooth the savage beasts".

I was ready to put Thomas to bed on time, and he always goes to bed easy, so that wasn't a problem. It was afterward that I remembered all the things I should have done. Forgot to look in the "Friday folders" -- of course, Candace had a math worksheet (where's Sarah's? She sure doesn't know). I didn't get either girl to read to me. Forgot to put out their clothes for tomorrow. And Candace is the "helper" tomorrow, so she gets to take a show-and-tell item to school. Of course, I didn't realize this until she was in bed and obsessing about it.

Oh yeah, and I forgot to call my parents. And Kenneth's air conditioner is broken. And probably a few more things I'm not remembering right now.

Well, here's to hoping I do better tomorrow.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mr. Mom -- Day #5

Highlight of the day -- Thomas'es second game in the middle (8-9 year old) soccer age bracket (he is 5), and he scores five goals (out of his team's 8 or 9), and has two assists. Near the end of the game, I overhear a high school age boy say to an adult: "And they say he's in pre-school!" Trust me, based on size, nobody would doubt he was several years younger than those other kids. But on the soccer field, he kicks butt.

Really, it was a very nice day overall today, too. Weather was terrific. Kids played outside most of the day. I caught up on some cleaning, laundry, writing, and even a little exercising.

Another highlight -- the kids decide to go "fishing", which means they take their little Zebco fishing rods down to the neighbor's house and dangle the lures in front of tiny sunfish, hoping to get them to bite. By early evening, a decided to just throw my line in the lake. I wasn't optimistic -- last spring, it was tough to get anything to bite until the lake warmed up. But I love fishing, especially toward the end of the day when it is quiet and the lake is calm. So I cast a yellow beetle-spin, the bait that just happened to be on the line, and low and behold, on my fifth cast, I hooked a three pound walleye! A huge surprise. Of course, I was then mobbed by all the kids and their kid-like fishing techniques, which was also fun.

Bed, often the bane of my parental duties, was even pretty easy. And the littles even picked up their room so that I would air another episode of Xena.

I love it when a plan comes together!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mr. Mom -- Day #4

As tough as Day #2 was, today was the opposite -- fun, rewarding, and easy.

There were no major problems in the morning, as I was willing to allow Candace to go through with her cockamamie plan to take 19 beanie babies to school to pass out to each of her classmates (hey, they have a ton of them and, for some reason, wanted to be class celebrity of the day).

Thomas played outside in fabulous weather until school.

Then my friend Bill came over, and we made first beer (a Sam Adams clone), and then Ethiopian food. This was a bigger task than I expected, even though I had done quite a lot of prep work yesterday. Other than the Injera being a bit scorched, and there being 2x more food than we needed, it was a big success. And dinner was actually ready at 6PM just like we were hoping.

The kids were cooperative (well, as cooperative as they ever are) right up until bed time. At least part of this was due to the new "tattle-tale" policy I implemented yesterday. It goes like this: When someone comes in to tattle, both tattler and instigator immediately go to the naughty seat -- no questions asked (there might be an exception if bleeding or broken bones are involved, but I haven't promoted that). Then, when I'm ready, I'll question each one in turn, and decide who gets what punishment, if any. Since the tattlers (who are normally complaining about trivia) don't normally want to sit on the naughty seat for the 60 seconds or so that it take me to get to them, the number of tattles has dropped a lot.

I'm sure this won't work for very long, but I'll take any relief from the constant stream of tattles.

Tomorrow is a low pressure morning, followed by soccer. I'm excited.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mr. Mom -- Day #3

What a difference a day can make.

Today, while busy, was quite a bit easier. A trip with Thomas to the grocery story. Preparations for tomorrow's visitors. A trip to the neighborhood tennis/basketball court. Those things all went off without significant friction.

I picked up the girls from school at 3:10, and made arrangements for a play day at our house on Monday after school for one of the twin's little buddies. The Thursday routine appears to be pretty ingrained, because the girls were very good about getting a snack, then putting on their dance clothes.

Thomas took a bath during their dance class, and we all went together to McDonalds afterward. I'm not all that enthusiastic about frequent fast food with Paula gone, but with dance ending at 6pm, it's kind of hard to put a decent dinner together, and pick up the twins.

After we got home, the twins showered, and then we watched an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Then bed was blissfully uneventful.

The only hassle today -- I've been tired all day because of last night's late bedtime. So now I'm off to get some rest, hoping tomorrow is similar.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mr. Mom -- Day #2

Tough day, today.

Everything went smoothly right up until dinner time, but after that it was a mess.

Problems started with the pasta I made for dinner. Now, we've probably served pasta close to once a week since the twins came home. A few weeks ago, we introduced pesto sauce to the mix, added to the other typical choices of tomato, vodka and alfredo sauces. We always have tomato sauces and sometimes one or more of the others.

Sarah has become quite fond of pesto sauce. When she heard we had none in the house, she initially refused to eat at all. Then she informed me my pasta "tasted like cardboard" and picked at it while going on and on about how bad I was at making it. After a time out, I found about two tablespoons of pesto sauce in the fridge, and let her have it. That ended round #1

Candace was the next combatant. After CCD this evening, she was pretty much shrieking non-stop. I walked into the bathroom to hear her threatening Thomas to not "tell me" about something, which turned out to be her intentionally smearing toothpaste all over his pajama top. Later, she flipped out because I wouldn't let her just listen to "one more song" on the television program (this was after I'd already given in once).

The whole thing ended up in a huge crying session during story time, where both girls first pined away for Paula, and then went on to do the same for birth mom. Sarah, in particular, was angry that she wasn't with Paula, going to Ethiopia too, to see birth mom and her great aunt. I tried to explain to both girls that the are not ready for that kind of a visit, but they, predictably, completely disagree with that opinion.

Bedtime was delayed by an hour and fifteen minutes as we tried to talk some of this out. Alas, I'm not sure I made any headway. Now they are finally in bed, and asleep. I'm exhausted, too. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit easier.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mr. Mom -- Day #1

Today was the first day of my sixteen day stint as the primary caregiver for the three littles (Thomas - 5, Candace - 7, Sarah - 7). Of course, I'm still on call for the bigs, too (Kenneth - 22, Emily - 21, and Anna - 17), but they're generally pretty self-sufficient.

So today was still not full prime time, if for no other reason than Paula didn't leave for the airport until a little after 10am. As a result, I escaped the early morning routine -- or at least the part of it I usually don't -- particularly the dreaded HAIR.

For those who don't have little girls, particularly little girls with beautiful, but very wavy hair, repairing the "frizz" in their hairdo is a daily task. Paula normally takes care of this, and I've only been called upon a few times to handle it on my own. I'm slow and not nearly as neat as she is. I know this. I'm just hoping to elevate my game from a C- to a B while she's gone. Tomorrow morning is the first test.

Otherwise, things went pretty well today. Sent Paula off on her plane (she called from DC tonight -- the long flight is tomorrow). I managed to make a quick run to Target on the way home with "Tim-Tam-Tommy" (I kid you not, he wants to be called that).
When the girls came home, they had an hour to play, then I spent 30 minutes with them on homework. Then it was dinner -- I made hamburgers and baked beans. After dinner, the kids picked up a corner (about 1/6th) of their room. Then we all watched two old episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess. The littles love this show (I think its the cartoonish fight scenes).

The only challenge came at bedtime -- the twins decided to fight of which side of the bed they got to sit on for storytime, which resulted in a suspension of the story and a slightly earlier evening. Not too traumatic.

Wednesday is a bigger challenge -- Thomas has school, and in the evening we have CCD for all the littles, which backs up bedtime. And I absolutely have to start working on the taxes sooner or later!

Wish me luck!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mr. Mom -- The set-up

Okay, having done this once before (with one less child), I was able to figure out a few things that would help make the next 15 days easier and more enjoyable.

1. I actually wrote down "the schedule." When soccer was, when dance class happened, what times to do anything and everything. I already do my share of driving the kids around, and so knew most of it. But there are certain tasks Paula almost always does. I will sleep easier knowing it is all on paper somewhere, and we don't have to depend on my (faulty) memory.

2. I made a plan for meals. Not written in stone, of course, but at least a general outline. This will help me make sure I shop for the right stuff, and also prevent having pizza four days in a row or other similar atrocities.

3. I invited friends over, hopefully providing me a motivation to keep the house at least somewhat clean.

4. I tried to get everything possible done before Paula's departure tomorrow -- particularly tasks that require I drive around a lot.

5. I'm going to (try) to demonstrate a little extra flexibility in my normally rigid workout schedule. This might be the most difficult thing for me.

One advantage I have going for me during this trip is the twins are a year and a half older than they were last time. And thankfully, they go to bed much easier than they used to (still hard, but not as time consuming or frustrating as it used to be).

On the downside, this trip is longer -- sixteen days from start to finish.

So not it's a race to see if Paula gets home before I lose my sanity. I think the odds-makers would give me the edge on that one, but who knows....

Friday, March 16, 2012

Something About This Just Seems...Wrong

I spent my Wednesday afternoon taking my two older daughters (age 21 and soon-to-be 18) to the tattoo parlor. Apparently I was giving the 18 year old a tattoo for her birthday. She selected a quote from a Beatles song to have written on her rib cage, and her older sister wanted a complimentary (but different) quote.

Something about Daddy facilitating his little girls' tattooing desires just seems so...wrong.

But being an obliging sort, I took both of them, along with two of their friends, to Grin and Barrett in Omaha. The younger one went first -- quaking with nervousness, chattering away non-stop, wincing as the needle did its work, and ultimately shedding a tear or two. The older daughter was second -- she was stoic, and pointed out -- more than once -- that this, "...wasn't her first rodeo." (she has a small anchor tattoo on her hip.)

Two hundred and fifty dollars later -- which reminds me that daughter number two still hasn't paid me back for HER tattoo -- both girls were sporting new tattoos.

In case you can't quite read them: "All you need is love", and "Love is all you need".

All-in-all a strange dad experience.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bad Beer

I was quick to pat myself on the back for my brewing success a few weeks ago. Now I must admit to abject failure on the second batch.

The beer was brewed from a kit, and is a "Honey-Sage". I clearly put too much priming sugar in the mix before bottling as the lids are nearly exploding off the bottles when I open then. Then I get a mountain of foam. Even though I have a huge cup I usually drink my beers out of, I can't even get the entire bottle into it because it is so foamy.

But that wasn't the only problem.

Everyone wants their beer to be clear. Unfortunately, this one is a little cloudy, with a fair amount of sediment at the bottom. At least part of that is also a result of "over-priming".

The actual taste is "okay" -- this beer had a lot of sugar added to it, so it is high alcohol content, and drinks fairly dry. All that would be good, except for the aftertaste of sage. I would have never guessed it would be so strong. And the smell -- yuck. The odor is the absolute worst part of the project.

Not quite pouring-it-down-the-sink bad, but close.