Pessimistic Optimism

Life as I see it… sort of.

Squirrels Can’t Swim

Something horrible happened in my backyard today. Well, it might not have happened today, but that’s when it was discovered. I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same because of two things: death on my property and a penis.

It’s amazing how one act of stupidity can change your world forever, or just flat out end it. My guess is that “Rocky” the squirrel was showing off and slipped. The next thing he knew, there was no way back to the tree unless he had tremendous leaping ability out of water. He didn’t. The furry rodent never had a chance when he landed in the pool, especially because it only has about a foot of water in it (I won’t get into why it’s so low). I’d like to say that he didn’t suffer, but that would be a lie. Too bad the fall didn’t kill him, it would have been quicker and he would’ve had a cooler looking mangled corpse. After I fished him out with the pool skimmer I noticed that this one could definitely have an open casket… if I didn’t stuff him in a garbage bag with my dog’s lawn crappings. While dropping him in the bag I saw his penis. It was actually visible and it creeped me out.  This is probably why I didn’t show him to my daughter before his unceremonious disposal.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been around a dead squirrel. Back in ’01 my wife and I witnessed a baby squirrel fall to it’s death in a park in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Its mother ran around on the ground looking for it. I still have nightmares and now this. That’s why I’m awake past nine pm tonight, to keep the bad squirrel dreams away.  Maybe “Rocky” can take care of the baby that’s been crying in my head for five years.

Let’s all think about the squirrels we see around our neighborhoods and appreciate them because they could be gone tomorrow… especially since I’m not covering the pool this year. 

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September 30, 2006 Posted by | All about me, Humor | Leave a comment

Raw Chicken Good

My son has some strange eating habits, but it keeps him happy.  His favorite meal used to be the fat that we cut off of our steaks.  I know it’s not supposed to be good for him, but he really likes it.

The other day we accidentally found a new favorite food for him, raw chicken.  I was cutting up boneless skinless chicken for some Chicken and Marshmallows  and unbeknownst to me one of the strips fell to the floor and he found it.  I noticed it in his hands, but thought he was smart enough not to eat it and since I really enjoyed playing with slimey things when I was a kid I let him keep it.

I turned my head for a second and the little carnivore took a bite.  Oops!  I snatched the rest of it away from him and I ran it under the water to get the dog hair off and then I cut it into bite-size pieces so he wouldn’t choke.  That was a close call.

I hope chicken goes on sale again soon because he’d eat this everyday if he could. 

September 29, 2006 Posted by | Humor, kids, parenthood, parenting | 13 Comments

They’re Back

I need to know if there’s someone I can sue or at least beat the living snot out of because I came home from work this morning to two sick children.  Yes, my kids are sick, AGAIN and I have a runny nose, too.  I thought winter time was when the colds keep attacking, not early fall.  I want to know whom I can blame.

Maybe we’ll just have to keep the kids in a hyperbaric chamber and not let them play with other children.  That’s one possible solution, but I imagine that the electric bills would be through the roof.  We can possibly get only one and have the two of them take turns or make a competition out of it.  She’s a little more stable on her feet and speaks better, but he’s a wily little guy who can surprise us so it might be a close contest.  I can see it now, our daughter sprinting to the finish line when she slips on some well placed oatmeal on the floor and our son wobbles across the wire for the gold.  Or we can let them live their lives like regular children and just deal with the occasional sickness, but that’s no fun.

I know there are a lot worse problems out there than runny noses and foghorn coughs and I should be thankful that we’re usually healthy except for the past month, but I really enjoy complaining.  If it annoys just one person it’s worth it.  I’ve done my job so I’m going to put some Vick’s Vapo rub on my feet and relax.  If anyone finds out who did this to my family let me know. 

September 28, 2006 Posted by | Humor, kids, parenthood | 2 Comments

Interesting!

The kids and I made another fun trip to the supermarket today.  I was a little worried because my daughter brought along her hippo, again (see Has Anyone Seen my Hippo?), and it was close to lunchtime, again.  I just don’t seem to learn my lesson.  I brought along dried mangoes and sweet talked the meat counter woman into two pieces of cheese to keep the shopping cart car occupants occupied.

The shopping trip was business as usual:  you know, the “we want cheese” chant, in which the boy held his own with some sort of grunt; the pushing and shoving, it’s sad what the elderly will do for the last bag of Stella Doras; The singing and dancing down the aisles, the kids joined in with me once in a while; and the eventual placement of the boy in the cart seat because he had enough “driving”.

A couple of things stood out this time.  The cheese worker lady walked past as I picked up a loaf of bread and my daughter complimented me.

“You’re very strong, daddy.”

The worker laughed out loud and I overheard her telling the cheese worker guy all about it a second later.  I’m glad someone else had the chance to hear that.  I’ll have to make sure that my little complimenter doesn’t pick up a loaf of bread soon and find out that even she can lift it.

Another thing that came out of her mouth surprised me when I showed the kids something we were buying.

“Hmm, interesting, daddy.”

I don’t think I ever heard her say “interesting” before and I just laughed and told her how amazing she was.  She smiled broadly and put the word and my response in her memory bank.  I know this because she repeated it to me during lunch at home while she ate her jelly and peanut butter sandwich… over and over.  I informed her that it’s more impressive if used sparingly.

“Hmm, interesting, daddy.”

I couldn’t correct her for repeating herself because it was a great reply.

One more thing that happened was that the boy pooped in his diaper and was miserable.  I felt badly, but I couldn’t change him until we got out to the van.  He had to remain seated and wasn’t happy about it.

We checked out and headed out into the bright sunlight with a whole lot of groceries and a whole lot less money.  I had a dirty diaper on my mind and wasn’t looking forward to a van changing.  They can be rough on everyone involved.  I picked up the little guy and was pleasantly surprised.  It must have been gas, very bad gas.  I felt like I dodged a bullet.

The next step was to make sure that the hippo was still there in the cart with my daughter and her yak.  All three were accounted for so we saddled up and headed home. 

September 27, 2006 Posted by | Humor, kids, parenthood | Leave a comment

Eight Men Eating

Mealtime at my workplace is always an event, whether it’s lunch or dinner.  Eight guys getting together and eating a meal can be entertaining.  The number one rule is provide enough food… to a realistic degree.  There are some stomachs that can hold more food than I thought was humanly possible.  They can fend for themselves if they’re still hungry.

If it’s lunch, four of us shop and cook together.  There’s usually one guy who makes this process more difficult than it needs to be.  If you suggest chili he’ll want to add Hershey’s Syrup and cook it in lard because that’s what his grandfather used to do.  This can be trying, but he doesn’t get his way very often because it’s three against one.  I’ll have to admit that it can be amusing at times to witness these ridiculous ideas first hand.

When we get back to work it’s a team effort.  Occasionally we race to be the one that cuts the vegetables because the same guy wants them cut a certain way and we like to cut them any other way than his… this sounds childish, but we get a kick out of it.

When the meal’s ready the other four guys join us at a very large table.  Jockeying for seats happens when there’s something on TV, like a game or What Not to Wear.  Occasionally an unsanitary person joins us for dinner and the last guy in the room gets to sit next to him.  This cracks everyone up except the guy that has to breath in the foul B.O. or get hit with food flying out of his mouth.

The four cooks also clean up the mess when everyone’s done.  This is fair because the other four do everything the next day.  It’s all or nothing.  The after dinner scenario resembles that of a fifty-kid daycare cafeteria on spaghetti day.  Men can be slobs, especially if no women are around. 

The next step is payment.  Someone fronted the money and needs to recoup it.  The amount is divided by eight and written on the white board.  Most guys pay right away, but there are usually a couple of stragglers that “forget” until they are reminded or shamed, whichever comes first.  These same stragglers bug everyone to pay immediately when they are the collectors.  We try to take our time when they do that.

Two days ago I was the collector and something happened that surprised me.  One of the guys paid a few dollars in quarters, which is not the norm, but does happen once in a while.  Money’s money, I guess.  The difference here was that he tried sneaking a Canadian quarter in with the U.S. coins.  It sat conveniently on the bottom of the pile.  I wouldn’t have minded if he told me up front, but it’s bad etiquette to hide it.  When I picked up the money it was easy to deduce who did it, because only two guys we work with would try it and the other guy was off.  I took the less worthy coin, but mentioned it to the guy the next day.  He turned beat red and we all abused him for a couple of minutes.

That’s kind of how my meals are spent at work.  By the way, the food is almost always better than adequate.

September 27, 2006 Posted by | All about me, Humor, Usual Day at the Office | Leave a comment

Don’t Feed Your Dinosaur

We attended a birthday party for our kids’ fourteen-year-old cousin last night.  Half of our family lives out of town so the number of potential playmates has dwindled, but the cousin’s cousin is the same age as our daughter so she had a partner in crime the whole night.  The girls had a ball and resurrected a couple of their cousin’s Toy Story toys.  Ours had the dinosaur, of course, and the other one had Woody the cowboy.

Our son didn’t seem to care what they were up to.  He just kept making the wobbly circular journey around the living room, dining room, and kitchen only stopping for a cracker or some juice.  I don’t want to think about the number of crackers that were lost just for his enjoyment.  My sister will be finding them for weeks.

Cake time is always highly anticipated and the kids like it, too.  The singing was just beautiful.  The birthday boy’s father does actually get paid to sing and his family can carry a tune.  Unfortunately, most of my family joined in and we sound about as good as Milli Vanilli when their mikes were turned on.  I hope no one videotaped us, at least not with sound.

Eating the cake and ice cream is usually my favorite part and this night was no different.  We gave our son a brownie because it would be easier for him to eat with his hands than ice cream.  His chubby cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk when he devoured half of it with one bite.  Our daughter did a commendable job on her cake and ice cream, but her fork occasionally traveled under the table.  My wife noticed this and ended up saying something no parent ever expects to verbalize.

“Don’t feed your dinosaur!”

Our little girl looked surprised that she was told this.  I guess she felt that if she liked the cake so would the stuffed dinosaur that sat on her lap.  It seems like sound reasoning to me and it’s nice to see that she likes to share.

After we licked, I mean wiped, the frosting off of the dinosaur it was present-opening time.  The girls lost interest quickly because a fourteen-year-old doesn’t get toys for his birthday, but our boy got right in there and destroyed all the wrapping paper and envelopes.  That was just in case the cracker trail wasn’t enough of a mess. 

Cake and ice cream seems to have the opposite effect on kids than adults.  I felt sluggish and wanted to sit down, but the little animals were bouncing off the walls even though it was a little past their regular bed time.  I forget this every time and I still go for the second piece of cake.

It took a while but we corralled the kiddies and headed home.  It was a fun night to remember even though I felt like I would explode from my gluttonous conduct.

September 26, 2006 Posted by | Humor, kids, parenthood | 4 Comments

Twice Bitten, Once Shy

How come a child that avoids eating meat at all costs bit a sibling on the face… twice? 

One of our kids whom shall not be named to protect her innocence, or lack of it, bit our other child yesterday.  It’s something that needs to be rectified, but how?  In the good old days when I was a kid I would get whacked across the face.  In this day and age a parent can be arrested for that.  Another solution from the past was to bite the biter because no one likes to be bitten.  Well, most people don’t like it that I know of.  This is also not acceptable today.  The Help the Children of the World Gestapo would fly in and compare dental records with the bite marks.  If you’re found guilty they give your kids to Brad and Angelina because they would treat them right.

After the first incident, my wife banned the child from all animal playing.  This is usually effective because this kid loves to play with toy animals.  The second incident took place a while later and the hungry assailant was banned from playing with any of her toys.  She could only read books or sit and pout while the other child, now known as the “good one”, played with the plethera of toys displaced all over our house.

The second solution either did the job or built up so much resentment towards the “good one” that we won’t be able to leave them alone in the same room again.  We’ll have to wait and see.  Hopefully when I go home there will be two whole children there.

September 25, 2006 Posted by | Humor, kids, parenthood, parenting | 5 Comments

The Grapevine

It’s amazing how an event can get blown out of proportion over a few days.  My guess is that when the messenger takes his turn he wants to make something sound as exciting as possible so he adds a slight embellishment to keep the listeners interested.  If one out of every four of these relayers of recent happenings does this a mountain is made out of a mole hill.  For example, if Lindsay Lohan broke a nail, by the time the tabloids print the story she lost a finger.

I’m not Lindsay Lohan, in case you were wondering, but I do look better in a bikini… yuck.  I also didn’t break a nail.  I was bopped on the head with an object that was thrown from a second story window.  Luckily I wore a helmet at the time even though I wasn’t riding on the short bus… at the moment.  The impact on the top of my head confused the hell out of me.  I wondered if I should fall to the ground like you see in the movies.  It would have looked cool but I didn’t because I could still walk.  The first thing I did was say “What the #$&% was that?”.  The second thing I did was try to find what hit me.  It was a table leg with a big metal bracket attached to it.  I picked it up and tried to figure out if I was okay and also to see whose glove print was on it.  At this point I had so much adrenaline running through me that I had no idea how I felt besides wired.

After I calmed down I felt a strain in my back and neck and my head hurt a little.  I also felt some tingling in my fingertips.  I kept thinking that the pain was psychosomatic but decided to get checked out anyway.  I had a pleasant ride to the hospital with a guy who didn’t say one word the whole trip.  I think he was pissed because I made him have to do something… his job.  I won’t bore you with the details of the hospital visit except that I was there from 2am to 6am.  These pricks don’t practice first come/ first serve.  Just because someone comes in with a bullet wound they get to skip the line.

One more thing that was interesting was the guy across the hall from me.  He kept getting out of bed and pacing.  The whole time he kind of whined and grunted.  The doctor saw him right before she saw me and I hope she washed her hands in between because of what I overheard.  She asked him about discharge and bleeding and gasped when she saw how swollen his left testicle was.  I didn’t see it myself, even though I would have been interested, she verbalized this information after the gasp.

I went back to work and left a little early, but told my co-workers that I should be back for my next shift in a few days.  This is when the grapevine took over.

I arrived Sunday morning and everyone was surprised to see me.  They were all from a different shift and heard the information second, third and fourth hand.

“Are you okay?” and “What are you doing here?” were the most frequent questions.  Somewhere along the transfer of the facts the table leg became a couch.  I’d bet on it that it was a table at one time and maybe a chair.  No wonder these people were shocked to see me.  My only problem with the situation is if I was in such bad shape where were the flowers and get well cards… heartless bastards. 

September 24, 2006 Posted by | All about me, Usual Day at the Office | 5 Comments

A Day in the Wild

Today’s adventure makes me feel like Merlin Olsen on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.  The only difference is that I’m going into the wild instead of Jim Fowler.

I’m  now embedded in the playroom trying to observe the creatures known as children.  I’ve been here for over two hours hoping to get a glimpse of how they behave in their own environment and I wiped a dirty diaper all over me to hide my scent.  Hopefully they wake up from their naps soon so I can get started, and finished, this diaper stinks like…

The youngest one, the boy, is the first to arrive.  He doesn’t see me, but that’s nothing new if he doesn’t want anything.  I couldn’t be happier when he immediately heads toward the bookshelf.  There must be two hundred children’s books on this three-tiered monstrosity and by the look on his face he might read them all.  He starts with The Little Golden Books, which he seems to like.  I can tell because a lot of the corners are chewed.  He proceeds to pull every one of them off of their shelf onto the floor.  Maybe he’s getting a better vantage point.  He then goes for the gusto, the top shelf with all the biggest books: Disney compilations; The Ginger Bread Man; Grimm’s Fairy Tales; Tolstoy’s War and Peace; and many more.  The floor is no longer visible, but that doesn’t stop this little machine in short pants.  The soft children’s books are next, you know, the one’s made for little kids and Paris Hilton so they don’t eat them.  They mix themselves into the growing sea of books and the boy couldn’t look happier.  This isn’t what I expected of the tyke.

Wait a minute, he’s picking one up, it’s Eric Carle’s Seahorse book.  He’s taking his time flipping through the pages.  I couldn’t be more proud of him.  I peek through my daughter’s Dora the Explorer binoculars to get a closer look and my heart sinks… the book is upside down.  I should have been prepared for some letdowns.  I just have to keep my head in the game.

While watching the “smart” one read the books I didn’t notice the older child, the girl, enter the observatory.  She was already playing with her Fisher Price Little People animals.  They were all behind a fence looking afraid… I think that they’ve been through this before.  I don’t know how she did this without me seeing her.  I’m very observant, just ask my wife.  Well, maybe not my wife.  If Jim Fowler was here with me he would have saw her.

The boy, like his dad, notices his sister playing and wanders slowly toward her.  She heads him off with a Wiggles guitar and keeps her animal prison camp intact.  It’s fascinating what this species will do to protect their territory.

“Dinner time,” my wife yells from the kitchen.

Both kids look at me immediately hidden in the corner covered in blankets.

“C’mon, daddy, dinner time,” my daughter says.

“How did you know I was here?”

“I saw you.”

“Why didn’t you say anything to me?”

“Because you stink like poopie.”

I guess my observances don’t mean much since the subjects knew I was there.  Marlin Perkins must be rolling in his grave right now. 

September 23, 2006 Posted by | Humor, kids, parenthood | Leave a comment

I NEED A TISSUE… please

I’ve mentioned in a couple of posts that my family and I have taken turns being sick for over three weeks now.  Both kids are still sick.  It won’t go away.  There have been at least four doctor visits and numerous medications have been swallowed, but the sickness remains.

I though that I was a decent parent, but I’m not so sure anymore.  After so much crying, coughing, complaining and nose wiping, half on my clothes, I’ve started to feel sorry for me instead of them.  Is that natural or am I just selfish?

One of the things we did to help alleviate our parental responsibilities was let our daughter wipe her own nose.  This was great because it never stopped running.  My wife and I could only take “I need a tissue” for so long.  The mother of my children said that it was more grating than “Are we there yet?”.  I mean, she said this five hundred times a day, usually at least once a minute.  I thought that we hit pay-dirt when she fetched the tissues herself.  We did except for the cost.  Not only did we go through more Puff’s Plus because she would wipe once and throw it away but she had wiped most of the skin off above her upper lip.  I think I can even see bone in one spot.  I don’t want to imagine what it would be like if we used the cheap stuff.  She’d probably need plastic surgery.

She no longer wipes her own nose and the words “I need a tissue” only make me feel like a bad parent as I dutifully and gently dig for her button nose’s contents.  If we don’t take any pictures of her for the next few weeks she should be young enough to forget that this ever happened.

September 22, 2006 Posted by | Humor, kids, parenthood, parenting | Leave a comment

That’s My Toy

He cherished every moment he had with his sister’s toy scooter.  New ways of playing with it were invented so that he wouldn’t have to pass it along to its owner.  I don’t know how he knew that we were teaching the older sibling how to share her toys but he played with it longer than ever before.  This came about because she had ripped toys out of his little chubby hands throughout the day and was informed that she can’t have the My Little Pony scooter until he was completely done with it.  Taking turns is the usual promotion, but this sentence had a little more bite to it.

My daughter followed him everywhere during those excruciating (for her) ten minutes.  She would look at my wife and me and ask, “share?”.  Tears and screams presented themselves in between the most innocent looking pout you could imagine.  She even tried bribery.  She offered him a different toy in exchange for the coveted scooter that sat undesired in the toy box for at least a week until today.  The boy must have learned because he usually falls for the different toy ploy but wanted no part of it this time.

When he exhausted all the uses for the scooter that gives ponies rides, which were nowhere in sight, he set it on the floor with a look of satisfaction.  My daughter looked to us and asked with her eyes if she could pick up the toy.  We nodded yes.  After a quick you’re mine hug she tossed it on the chair and started playing with something else.

It’s amazing what motivates children.  My daughter wanted that toy no matter how much discomfort she had to put herself through to get it.  That was all she wanted until she had it.  I know a lot of adults like that… myself included.  Sometimes chasing the dream is better than having it. 

September 22, 2006 Posted by | Humor, kids, parenthood | Leave a comment

I’ll Pass on the Pork Chops

This post is about something that had a huge effect on my food intake as a child.  You may laugh, but it traumatized me for about twelve years… at the least.

Because we lived in the city the only animals we saw on a regular basis were dogs, which ran loose around the neighborhood because there was no leash law in place, cats that also were all over the place, birds, mostly pigeons, crows and sparrows, and the occasional snake or toad.  A pig moving into a pen in our neighbor’s yard was big news and I was a very excited five or six-year-old.

I remember walking with my sister and one of my brothers to see “Bonnie”.  Yes, they actually named her even though the family that sheltered this swine had three little kids of their own.  There’s nothing like setting your kids up for heartache.  Not to mention your neighbor’s kid… me.  We must have visited my new found friend everyday for at least a week.  I couldn’t get into the pen even though I wanted to, but I bonded with Bonnie.

I overheard my parents talking about Bonnie getting loose while someone was trying to load her into a truck.  It sounded funny to me, but I wondered why Bonnie would want to leave the nice pen in her yard.  It never occured to me that she would never come back… alive.  I’m still kind of slow to catch on.  I don’t remember what my parents told me when I asked to visit Bonnie after that, but I must have accepted it.

Then we had a meal to remember.  We had pork chops for dinner.  Everything was fine until someone had to open up their mouth.  One of my older brother’s, probably about fourteen at the time, thought he would be funny and asked me a question.  I’m not sure if anyone laughed, but it sure was memorable.

“Do you know that you’re eating Bonnie?”

I didn’t respond with words.  My actions spoke for themselves.  I immediately threw up at the kitchen table.  Got out of my chair and proceeded up the bedroom stairs and puked on them.  For some reason I walked by my room and went into my older brothers’ room and vomited there, too.  Laying down in his bed, I emptied whatever was still in my stomach onto his pillow.

I didn’t eat another pork chop until my late teens.  Not that the thought of eating Bonnie bothered me at all.

September 20, 2006 Posted by | All about me | 3 Comments