Thursday, November 08, 2007

Some Days

Some days, you want to say loudly, so everyone who saw/heard what your son just did/said can hear, "I don't know WHO this boy belongs to! I'm just the babysitter. WHEN is this kid's DAD going to come pick him up?"

Like today as I was teaching Readers Theater. I explained all the cool new things we were going to do with this next reading of our Vachel Lindsay poem, including the counterpoint, which will go like this. . . . . *explain cool counterpoint* . . . . but first I want to go through it without the new counterpoint. Just so we can learn our new parts and get the rythm down. Ok? We're not going to do the counterpoint. Got it? Ok. Here we go, just a read through without the counterpoint. One two three GO!

*Many students reading the poem*

*Max reading the poem with the counterpoint*

*Many students slowing down or stopping, staring at Max, to -- as subtley as possible -- let him know he'd screwed the proverbial pooch on this particular reading*

*Max continuing to read with the counterpoint -- with great conviction and expression, really a model for the rest of the class -- aside from the whole part where he zoned in on the cool part and forgot everything I said after that*

As before, I've got to hand it to him. He doesn't daydream halfway. He daydreams with such singleminded absentmindedness as to be a serious frontrunner in this year's Nobel Prize For Vacuity and Selective Focus.

But then sometimes, on the very same day, he'll assure you in some way that he WAS listening. And on some of those days he's show you that he was really listening TO THE THINGS THAT MATTERED. Aside from the assurance that he's pretty bright after all, and that your time spent parenting would NOT have been better spent on competitive cup-stacking -- he shows his perfect love for you in those moments. Because in those moments you realize that whenever it was you said to him "Listen. . . . this matters. . . .", he did.

Like tonight as I drove him home from piano theory class. I'd just read an article about how cash is becoming blase/outdated, or so VISA would have you think, by the TV commercial where a cash-using coffee buyer inconveniences everyone around him by slowing up the line, being dorky and old-fashioned. Getting ready to launch into a tirade/lecture on the evils of credit, I asked if he'd seen the commercial. He said. . .

"No. But I saw one where they were saying we should use this credit card because it adjusts to your budget. I was all 'If you're using a credit card -- you don't HAVE a budget!'".


*putting away lecture/tirade for use with Ben and Milo in a few years*

*feeling silly for being more ashamed than amused at the counterpoint incident, and committing to keep the big picture in mind especially where the 3 most important little people in my life are concerned*

It's going down to 30 degrees tonight, and I have every reason to believe it will do so tomorrow night and the next night. This would normally be of sub-microscopic concern to me, since we have pellets for our stove and 37 blankets on our bed. But this weekend, I'm camping.

It's a Boy Scout Outdoor Leaders Skills class. I am very comitted to my Lightning Patrol scouts, but have still been desperately seeking a rationale to postpone this volunteer training. Because, you know, THIRTY DEGREES PEOPLE! The reason I cannot flake on this, though, is that those very boys I am so committed to? They're supposed to camp out TWO WEEKS FROM NOW! Yes, when it's likely to be even colder. Our earlier camp trip -- the boys' very first one as real Boy Scouts overnight in a tent of their own with campfires and fun foods and hikes and adventures -- was cancelled due to really really nasty bad weather. Then it was postponed week after week after week because being a Mormon REALLY fills up a family's (not our family, we're not Mormon enough to be that busy) calendar. Even in November. So, as long as there is no wet weather (fluffy snow would be fine, just not muddy snow), we are going camping in sub-freezing temperatures the very day after Thanksgiving. And anything I learn this weekend camping in sub-freezing temperatures is likely to be invaluable when we all do it again in two weeks. So camping I go.

Think happy anti-frostbitten-infected-gangrenous-amputated-limb thoughts and send them generally Pennsylvania'ward?

And as Dy says, kiss those babies :)



Saturday, November 03, 2007

More Portraity Goodness

Took the twins out on a color hunt today. It is getting really brown here in a really big hurry. But we managed these. . .

I also raked the front yard and cleared out the Monster Truck and loaded it up with food storage orders for churchpeople. And made a few trips to the store :). That's my little stab at an "Alaska Post". She's so good at documenting her Herculean accomplishments on her blog and making me feel like a lazy slouch. Today her H.A.s were doing a bootyload of laundry while simultaneously writing for work, picking up the upstairs, and getting an in-home pre-physical for some lab rat Penn State study she and Max are participating in. There, now blogging her To-Done List is one less thing for her To-Do :)

Tomorrow is Terrorize Gramma's Cats day here in Pine Grove Mills. We will bring wholesome goodies over to Grammas house (it's her Berfday!) and mess it up while testing her cats' limits of human socialization. What better way to spend a Sunday?

WHERE TO FIND A HULTS As there seem to be more and more of us, we are getting easier and easier to misplace. Here is a guide to use as reference when you've lost or are otherwise in search of a Hults.

Alaska: Look low, Alaska is usually seated with either yarn or a laptop. She is very temperature sensitive, so you can rule out places like the beach or the woods or a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game. You'll have to get her attention, so look for something you can throw at her. This is because she's learned that the social interaction expectations of others are inversely related to the extent of her engagement in the yarn or laptop. That is, the more into the yarn/laptop she seems -- the less she has to talk to anybody. If you have lost your Alaska in a very crowded, social environment, then listen for the "dzzzzt" sound of an electircal short circuit. That's her easily-overloaded nervous system indicating it's about to send her into convulsions.

Max: Max, like your car keys or the matching sock, can often be found wherever you left him. He is very reliably daydreaming most of the time, and his wanderings are quite accurately chaotic. That is to say, if you must wander from where you left your Max to find him, wander in a COMPLETELY random manner. If you attempt to follow the bright lights, or the big noises, or the pretty girls, you'll find that's a little too sensible and coherent for a truly perfect daydreamer.

Milo: Milo is our Boundary Boy. Milo can nearly always be found at the perimeter. The perimeter of the property, the perimeter of what you consider to be a safe and acceptable distance, or (if you've misplaced him for some time) the perimeter of Centre County. Milo seizes every opportunity to explore the boundaries. This may be because, as most children, he wants reassurance that his parents are maintaing safe boundaries for him, so he can relax and enjoy the naive innocence of childhood. Another likely theory, given the introverted loins which bore him hence, is that he desires at nearly all times to be as far as humanly possible from us and you everybody else.

If a perimeter check is fruitless, check the store's cashier area, the restaurant's kitchen, or anyplace attractive young ladies are wearing nametags. Milo uses his knowledge of these fine women's names to engage them in playful banter, ask for their phone numbers and ask them to write him love notes. Or just regular notes.

Ben: If you've lost your Ben at school, you'll find him stuck-like-hot-glue to his "girlfriend" Emma. Warning, separation attempts are likely to end in either overwrought melodramatic tears or at the very least a lecture from Ben regarding the rules of Ben's World and your apparent inability to abide by said rules. At any other time he's to be found in Max's shadow. He'll be the one doing what Max is doing and saying what Max is saying and studying with all his might to be The Next Max.

Emily: Emily in almost always in the house. If she's not dropping a slobbery tennis ball in your lap, or nuzzling your crotch for crumbs under the dinner table, she is surely either on the couch or my bed. Look closely, because when sleeping she looks nothing like any poodle you've ever imagined. Imagine a drunk sorority girl passed out half-dressed, petite-looking yet so unweildy that she is virtually immovable from her point-of-collapse. Got the image? Ok, if you're looking for a furry version of that on the bed or couch -- you'll recognize her.

If your Emily is not in the house, she may have gotten out. Look for a red apricot blur anywhere within Ferguson Township, since she carefully investigates the more interesting details of our neighborhood at speeds approaching 70mph. No matter where in the township she is, she will immediately return to you and jump into the Ford Expedition if you merely open the door. This is because her desire to be driven to the dog park completely overwhelms her memory of the fact that she hates being in a moving vehicle and usually gets violently carsick.

Sissy The Cat: If you're in Gramma's house, look down. There she is. She's anticipated your desire to seek her out, and has playfully fallen on her side to facilitate your petting of her squidgy bits.

Bubba The Cat: If you've lost your Bubba, keep an eye out in Grammas house for the following: predatory shoelaces, antagonistic molecules, Gramma's feet, or Sissy. Bubba takes his job as He Man Boss Cat, Physical Protector and Spiritual Leader of Grammas House very seiously. Protecting the housemembers from the above threats is his primary occupation, so if he's not fighting off the evildoers he's likely seeking them out or stalking them so as to catch them unawares and vulnerable.

Daddy: I am right here.



Bee Movie & Photo Session

Friday was not going well. I found myself desperate to get out of the workshop, so Max and I snuck out to see The Bee Movie. Verdict? It was fun enough. Not nearly up to Pixar or even Dreamworks/Sony standards. Animated features depend more on story than live-action films. Pixar of course has prioritized story, and their storytelling, above all else, and this is how they manage to stay on top in this now-competitive field. This one was weak in the story. There were giggles in there, in the grown-up asides, but I must recommend that you Netflix this one instead of dropping $10-20 on seeing it in a theater.

Then Max and I drove around looking for what was left of our fall color so we could shoot his "school portraits". I'm happy to say that this was my first truly successful portrait photo shoot! I actually got a handful of images, in different poses, showing different facets of my uber-faceted son! Also got a lot of poop. But that's why you take so many shots :). Here is MY favorite:

AK really likes it too, but she says it makes him look 18. And she's just not ready for that. So she prefers this one:

We got a few more really good ones too :) Perhaps most importantly, we spent the day hanging out & goofing off.

Gramma got a "raise" somehow in her pension check, and treated us all to Applebees for dinner. It. Was. Sooooooooooooo nice to have someone cook our dinner and clean up for us! Eating out has not been in our budget, oh, since 2006. So this was a special treat, and it came at the end of a special day that started out -- for this middle-aged shmo -- not so special.

Thank you FAMILY!



Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Post Halloween Coma Blues

Halloween was alright, I suppose. You'll have to click over to AK's blog to see photos of the twinks and Max as Ketchup, Mustard, and Zorro. I usually voluteer for hand-out-the-candy duty. But this year our porchlight bulb was out. This sounds like a wwwwwwwweak cop-out indeed, but if you saw our porchlight -- and the way the whole fixture seems to be held in the ceiling only by cobwebs and some coats of paint -- you'd understand why we homebased from Gramma's house this year. Gramma's house is closer to the nice McMansion neighborhood, and that worked out since AK & the boys were walking and it was CHILLY last night. It also saves on candy, since apparently no one trick-or-treats on Gramma's street! We got only her neighbors on both sides as trick-or-treaters, and I imagine they just were seizing the opportunity to introduce themselves to Gramma.

I'm going on record as a crotchety old man here, and stating that I'm in favor of costume parties but 100% against the hoarding and gorging on candy. I see the 6th graders in Max's class and I remember the 6th graders in my class and the new 6th graders weigh -- as a class -- twice as much. There are many causes, Halloween is not a cause of the problem. But given the problem and the fact that no one seems to be effectively addressing it, lets skip the get-as-much-as-you-can-and-eat-as-much/fast-as-you-can part of this Fall tradition.

The boys's school, and I've learned other local schools, are against the holiday perhaps for religious reasons or something? Some schools can celebrate but can't call it "Halloween"? At the boys' charter school they couldn't even have costume parties? I don't understand the reasoning there. But personally I don't have a problem with any part of this holiday aside from both our children and the Mars/Hershey corporations wallets getting fatter.

All I know is I had a class full of sugar-crashed zombies for Readers Theater today.

Max had his Halloween piano recital last week, and it went very very well. The pressure is off, since this is the lowest-key of the years' 3+ recitals. Many kids perform in costume, so how serious can it be? Max had two pieces to do and knew them well. The only thing was at the last minute the teacher decided she needed another Halloweeny piece, so she changed Max's to a minor key. This had the effect of making it sound spooky and Halloweeny, and didn't phase Max.

So yeah, there's that. Piano is going well for all the boys.

Job hunt is still going. I have a 3rd interview tomorrow for a marketing job that doesn't pay as much as we'd like but still twice what Lux Graphics makes. This month will be the month we finally catch up from The Great Work Stoppage of Ott Seven, and that will feel good. I'm really not worried about Christmas this year. I don't think it's a coincidence that as our Christmasses have gotten smaller & simpler they've gotten better and better for all involved.

Tomorrow the boys are out of school. And "The Bee Movie" comes out! Maybe we'll check it out & report for y'all. I'd also like to get the boys' "school" portraits done before all of the colors are gone. They've already made it to the top of the "mountain" ranges here, and they've gotten more earthy than flourescent. Something about how it was a dry year, so we get less color? Or the colors don't last as long?

Nuttin' but love for ya!



Pupp Daddy Dog spends his days working as an entrepeneur and as a Dad. He is passionately in love with/obsessively neurotic about his family. Imagine Kicking Bird mixed with Albert Brooks. Oh, and throw in some Notorious B.I.G.


Alaska is the frustrated but caring cat at the center of our canine universe. All of us alternately worship, rely on and ceaselessly whine to her. Her need to control everything is confounded by the fact that she really pretty much does control everything, so in her few free moments, she knits and searches desperately for things to fuss about.



Max is smart and handsome, with a big heart. He is not only growing like a weed, but he has the attention span and concentration abilities of a weed. Despite my best efforts, AK keeps feeding him and he keeps growing. Our plan is to keep him so busy with school, sports & the arts that he won't notice he's a teenager and is supposed to hate us. T minus 2.5 years to teen launch, so far so good.



 Ben and Milo are phenomenal little creatures who remind us minute-by-minute not only how little control we have in this world, but why we should cease our controlling efforts and just laugh at all of God's jokes. Lately, Milo likes to dance and is good on the piano. Ben likes to mimic Max and enjoys manipulating adults and anyone else who has no idea how quietly brilliant he is. Both of them would love your full and complete attention. Really, stop reading silly blogs and join the fan club now. Ok? Ok.








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