Monday, June 30, 2008

On Rain and Motherhood

Man that Lump's a light sleeper. She was sound asleep when I tucked YaYa in and crept down the stairs. I made one little peep and she was on her feet, head leaning over the crib rail to look at me, a wail starting in her throat. She looked just like those little birds yesterday, and just like I did with them I walked away.

Never wake a sleeping baby, and if you do, run like hell.

* * * *

It's official. June of 2008 is far and away Milwaukee's rainiest month in recorded history.

As of this morning we took in an official 12.27 inches of rain, beating the old record (set in 1917) by more than two inches.

Is it any wonder a lot of this city was flooded in recent weeks? It was dry today, but rained yesterday and more is expected before the 4th.

Keep the ponchos and sump pumps handy.

Milwaukee's 10 rainiest months

June 2008 - 12.27 inches
June 1917 - 10.03 inches
June 1997 - 9.98 inches
Sept. 1941 - 9.87 inches
May 1933 - 9.56 inches
Sept. 1961 - 9.41 inches
Aug. 1987 - 9.05 inches
Aug. 1986 - 8.82 inches
Sept. 1872 - 8.72 inches
Nov. 1934 00 8.56 inches
Source: National Weather Service

* * * *

For the record: I do a lot with my kids and I try to be a good and active Dad, but I blog (naturally) from my own experiences. I am with the kids from 4:30 until their bedtime most days, and a lot of those days I'm not the only parent around.

My wife, on the other hand,  is with them from 7 am until bedtime, with her only respite being when she goes to work a 'real' job in the evenings, or when I can con a set of Grandparent's into taking one kids off our hands on a weekend (God forbid we ever get rid of all four).

She's the one who is the girl scout leader, and plans the parties, and takes them to the park and the pools, and soothes their scraped knees.

Not me.

So hats off to her, she does a great job.

Now, back to praising me . . .

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Baby Birds in our Backyard

A few years ago my wife bought me a wooden bird feeder for Father's Day. It was a gift straight out of left field, but to continue the baseball lingo, it was also a home run. It remains one of the most enjoyable gifts I've ever received. Just this afternoon I walked out on my front porch and had a handful of birds, a rabbit, and a squirrel flee from the feeder at the sound of my approach.

"It's like a scene from Enchanted" I told the kids, and you know, it really was. Heck, even Milwaukee's own McDreamy (moi) was there.

This summer I added a homemade birdhouse to the mix. We even painted it to match the house colors.

Sadly, no bird chose to make it their home. No, instead they chose to infiltrate my shed and set up shop atop my ladder.

I was going to remove the nest but when I tried I saw a blue robins egg inside. So it stayed, and every time I need something from in there I have to put up with a squawking, dive bombing bird.

This morning Lis sent me out to photograph the eggs (from a respectable distance to avoid ticking off the momma) and I got a shock - the nest was now full of baby birds!

The momma sat annoyed on a nearby telephone wire with a bug hanging from it's beak, waiting to feed her young. Meanwhile the kids were thrilled

whereas half of me was proud of our contribution to wildlife conservation, and the other 50% of my brain was ticked off that these squatters aren't paying rent.

NKOTB Album Info

Ok, from what I can find online the release date for the new NKOTB album will be September 8th.

That info is courtesy of a May 30th article in Billboard.

To quote the article (edited by me, so go read the real deal):

Both the band and the label [Interscope] describe the deal as a "partnership." One source close to the deal notes that the label will partake in merchandise and touring revenue."We were driven by the music," group member Joey McIntyre tells Billboard of the decision to reunite. "Donnie [Wahlberg] and I both live in L.A., and we have had conversations about the offers we've gotten in the past. This time around, Donnie was the loudest and pushed the hardest in terms of getting going on the music. His excitement was really infectious."EM>

"Our friends' kids are listening to the tracks, and they are excited," says group member Jordan Knight. "We don't come across as old guys on the record, and songs like "Summertime" have a great, '80s vibe that can be enjoyed by everyone."

Of course things might have changed since May 30th, and to me a September release date seems awfully late in the game when you've had a single out for months, but what do I know?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

YaYa's Stiches

Friday, in the midst of that fax fiasco, my wife called to tell me that YaYa had fallen off her bike and might need 'one or two' stitches on her chin. It turns out she needed four.

Not counting surgical stitches, she now has had way more stitches I've ever needed. And it's not her first set of stitches either. Easter Sunday of '04 or '05 she fell down my Mom's front steps and needed multiple stitches above her eyebrow, sticking her tongue out at the doc as he did it. As with that time, she went through it Friday without tears or complaint, which is more than I did with my stiches of two years ago :)

However she is angry that their location makes it look like she has 'whiskers'.

Thursday's Dinner Out with the Family

You'll note I'm very trigger happy with the camera phone pictures lately. Part of that is a genuine joy at having the ability to visually document my day at any given moment. And part of it is because the rechargeable batteries on my digital camera seem to have come to the end of their life and I have yet to buy replacements.

On Thursday, to make up for his being ill on LuLu's birthday,  my father-in-law treated us to a dinner out at a nice Italian restaurant in the neighborhood.

The food was great, the kids were ok (on behavior I'd grade them a B to B+ actually) but I was wigging out. I can't count how many times we all seem to sit on the precipice, that frail little edge between good behavior and complete meltdown. I'm always surprised, and pleasantly so, when the kids pull it together we walk away with manners and sanity intact.

That happened here, but for whatever reason - lousy day at work, crowded table, bunions - I couldn't recognize that we were doing well until late in the game.

One funny moment: the restaurant was nearly empty at the start of our meal when the hostess seated a nicely dressed couple at the table right next to us. With my step-mother-in-law's encouragement I leaned over, pointed out my four kids, and encouraged them to select another table. They thanked me and did so.

On the way out I took the kids home while Lis stopped to chat with her Dad. Outside the door LuLu fell and skinned her knee and I had to carry her home, and Smiley NEVER likes being separated from his Mom so that was an issue, but it all went well in the end.

Oh, almost forgot. LuLu got a Barbie scooter from them for her birthday.

A very nice time indeed.

A thank you to Bucko

I was very pleased to have been chosen by Ken (aka Bucko) as one of his Guest Editor picks this week. This is what he had to say about me:
Dan, of Slapinions, is from Milwaukee and has opinions on many things, ranging from fatherhood, sports, movie reviews, and anything else that strikes his fancy :o)  My impression is an all around NICE guy!
Ha! I'd love to see someone from work agree with that last bit!
Still, a bit of poor timing on my part. Had I known new blood would be visiting I'd have held off on the last rant, which predictably drew some PC ire in the comment section. Not that I minded (keep it civil and you can say what you like) but I have enough PR sense to have given folks a more pleasing sample as a looksee. Oh well, que Sera Sera and all that.
(Ok, I'm back. I smelled something burning and went to check. The kids, left alone to watch the Wizard of Oz, decided to set the thermostat for 90 and the furnace kicked in with that wicked '1st fire of the season' stench. [redacted] kids)
It's been a lousy couple of days at work. I accomplished a lot on Thursday, including fixing a 'long thought lost' piece of equipment, yet was caught off guard when the owner asked about the one thing that had escaped my attention. Nice blow to the self-esteem there.
Then I was home free on Friday afteroon when our fax line went down and I spent a frustrated 90 minutes or so getting that (temporarily) fixed.
Today, on my day off, I got a few calls. On one call I was told about the following (trimmed so as to not give away the place or means of my employment, but it's too insane not to mention)
One of our employees quit because she claimed someone had tried to assassinate (ok, she said 'kill') her by leaving a cigarette lighter near a gas source at work. Not that anyone had dropped it, or left it behind, or anything innocent. No, it had to be an obvious attempt to recreate the murder scene from the original The Longest Yard. There could be no other explanation.
For pete's sake.
One bit of good news. On Friday a logo I designed for the state highway project met with the excited approval of some key players on the committee. Once I have a professional version created it stands a good chance of finding its way into many facets of the re-design.
Or not. We'll see. But I was more than happy with the initial reaction to it.
Oh, and today is the birthday of a manager at work, one who is very upset that she is now halfway to 60 and 33% of the way to 90 . .but I will abide by her wishes and not list her name. Happy Birthday Jane Doe!
I just heard Dorothy talking to Aunt Em about Oz, and Lump just crawled by bare-butt. Both are signs I need to get off the computer.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Catch and Release, and a piggish rant too!


Catch and Release is a romantic comedy featuring Jennifer Garner. In it she plays a woman whose fiance dies shortly before their wedding. Heartbroken and unable to pay her rent she moves into the house he shared with two male roommates. Over the course of the movie she comes to realize that her perfect fiance was far the man she thought he was, keeping secrets big and small from her. In an attempt to set things right romance blossoms from an unexpected source and she beings the long process of putting her life back together. 

Well, I shouldn't say the romance came from an 'unexpected' source, since I'm sure you can see the (awkward) love interest from the get-go. Still, a fine little movie that will entertain you but little more. It tries for 'deep' emotional responses from the audience and largely fails, but no matter, what's left is good enough.

2.5 out of 4, or 65 out of 100.

* * * * *

I must mention two largely immature reactions I had to the movie.

First Kevin Smith, who plays one of the roommates, has really put on weight. Smith, you may recall, is the director/co-star of Clerks, Dogma, etc  but sticks to a purely acting role here.

Hey I'm a big guy and I probably look as big or bigger than Smith, but he appears so large that his movements on screen legitimately seem, I don't know, physically  painful for him.

Second, I am sick and tired of people pretending Juliette Lewis is attractive. She is not. Her face, if you want to be PC about it, is 'unconventional', but let's just cut to the chase. She's ugly. She's a female Steve Buscemi without the talent.

(of course when I looked for pics online I couldn't find many that feature the true Joan Cusack-ness of her face, given that most sites prefer to post pictures of her half-naked, so this will have to do)

Yet she continually gets acting jobs, and moreover gets jobs where she's supposedly just the bomb diggity. Jennifer Garner calls her 'really hot' in this movie. Jennifer Garner! She must have been giggling inside when she had to deliver those lines. And that awful voice!

Must I poke out both my eardrums AND my eyes when she's in a movie?

Today's Supreme Court ruling on the 2nd Amendment

Let's start out by saying that I don't own a gun and never have, nor to my knowledge did my parents. I will probably never own one. The last time I fired one was at boy scout camp in 1987, and that was probably a glorified bb gun. My wife's always said that if we owned a gun she'd have shot me a hundred times over the years, and I'm not anxious to prove that she's just kidding.

So it's a little surprising that I was downright happy when the Supreme Court ruled today to overturn D.C's 32 year old handgun law. The law prohibited owning handguns within the city limits (unless they were grandfathered in) but allowed rifles and shotguns if they were kept locked or dissassembled. That last part would seem to eliminate their use for self-defense.

That's an odd little law considering D.C. is one of the most violent and crime ridden cities in America. In 1976, the year the law was enacted, there were 135 gun related murders.

Last year there were 143.

At the very least the law isn't working. At worst, some folks are dying because criminals know they have a free pass in D.C.

Of course the Supreme Court ruling affects far more than just the citizens of D.C. It's the first positive affirmation of the Second Amendment in many years. It clearly states that under the Constitution Americans have a right to own guns and that a total prohibition of them violates that right.

The ruling does NOT end background checks and restrictions; again, it simply reaffirms a Constitional right and forbids absolute prohibitions on ownership. It doesn't say that we should put guns in the hands of every Hinkley and Chapman out there.

As it stands I believe gun ownership is a right of all Americans, and regardless of your moral stance, infringements on that right are legally wrong. If you want an absolute gun ban, change the Constitution. We've done it before when the need arose. It's not easy, but if the majority of people felt that strongly about the issue, it could be done again.

Just don't try to circumvent the Constitution by enacting  local laws that skirt people's rights.

[For the record, I am aware of the arguments concerning the wording of the amendment, and its interpretation.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

 I believe that 'militia' doesn't mean our modern concept of a National Guard. To my mind it was meant to ensure that the self-defense of the individual (who at the time was probably living miles away from their neighbor) would not be impeded, and that they would indeed be available to assume an active defense of the land as a whole. Smarter people than I can argue differently, but that's my take on it.  And while even to me it sounds whackadoodle, there may be a time two hundred years from now when the population may have to act as a militia for their own well being. Note: I do NOT mean a supremacist or separatist militia]

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

(Actual) News of the Day

Two fascinating bits of news today. The first was word that there are plans to build a 420 meter skyscraper that will constantly change its own shape.

(420 and buildings that appear to move on their own - sounds like it could be a Cheech and Chong skit)

This skyscraper is proposed for the kingdom of Dubai, home of many engineering marvels in recent years. Each floor of the building would be capable of rotating on its own, courtesy of wind turbines located on each floor. The building itself would be pre-fabricated and allegedly need very few workers at the actual construction site.

It's an awe-inspiring concept and if it works it should be breathtaking. I say 'if' it works because the man behind the project seems to be a bit of a P.T. Barnum, with an exaggerated resume and degrees from colleges that don't exist. But you never know.

[I love engineering. Well, I love the idea of engineering, never having actually done it for a living. I always say that if my kids aren't sure about what they want to do in life I'd try to steer them towards that field, even though I don't have the slightest bit of talent in that department. It's better than wasting four years of college on an Art or History major like I did, that's for sure (assuming they don't want to teach).]

Floor space in the building will be $3000/sq foot, which means the largest apartment will cost a cool forty million dollars.

The second bit of news is that scientists have allegedly found the precise date of one of the events in Homer's The Odyssey.

In that epic poem Odysseus returns home to Penelope after ten years at sea and an eclipse occurs that very day. Following clues in the text (astronomical events, etc) they have pinpointed the day as April 16, 1178 B.C., close to noon local time.

If you take the book as pure fiction this is a colossal waste of time. If, as with The Iliad, there is a hard kernel of truth behind the epic then we now have a more accurate baseline from which to study the text.

Did I mention this was page 2 news in today's Journal-Sentinel, and while I don't have the paper in front of me I think it was also mentioned on the front page. I love history and I love literature, and I find the news compelling, but not that compelling. Wow.

* * * * *

Completely irrelevant: when I was in kindergarten we went on a field trip to a farm and my Dad chaperoned. I remember the heat got to me and he stayed behind with me in the barn until I felt better. He bought me a orange soda from a nearby machine (a glass bottle no less - those were the days!).

I have no idea why that jumped into my head, but the whole time I was typing this post it kept hammering away at my temple, so I figured it's best to set it loose.

Fuzzy and the Crew

Beth over at Nutwood Junction wrote about her childhood stuffed animal and asked readers to comment on their own. As usual I'm too long-winded for my own good, so I figured I'd post it here.

Unlike Beth I don't think I have any pictures of the animals, at least in electronic format, so the text will have to do.

When I was in preschool we had a show and tell day where we were encouraged to bring in our teddy bears. I didn't have a bear. Instead I had three favorite animals: an elephant named, stereotypically, as Dumbo, a horse named Rusty, and a blue dog with floppy ears named Ralph. Ralph never really struck me as a dog. He was designed in a more-or-less seated posture, and I think he looked more like a Sesame Street monster than a canine.

Anyhow, of course the kids made fun of me for not having a bear. When my Mom picked me up I told her the story and we made a beeline for Toy Country, located up on 27th Street where Pet World is now.

I went up and down the aisle before deciding on my bear. From that moment on Fuzzy and I were inseparable.

He was small, with dark brown matted fur and tan paws. There was very little detail on him - a red stitch or two for lips and a simple nose. I do remember his eyes though. They were brown with a hint of orange, and one eye was always obscured by a stray bit of fur.

Later Scottie, a very simple dog made by my paternal Grandma from two pre-printed pieces of fabric, joined the group.

I always imagined Fuzzy as the leader of my little group of animals, a sort of Pooh-like world where Pooh actually had brains.

Where are they now? Rusty is in storage at my Mom's and Ralph should have been with him, but I didn't see him the last time I checked. Scottie is upstairs with the girls, Dumbo is MIA, and Fuzzy .  . .

Well for a number of years he was lost, and rumor had it my Dad tossed him in a bag that was donated to charity. But a few years ago a bear looking suspiciously like Fuzzy resurfaced at their house and I snatched him up. He has many of the characteristics, right down to the eye, but he also has some traits I don't remember.

In the end whether he was the original or not is irrelevant; I say he is, so he is. The kids occasionally sleep with him now. I never do. Except, you know, when I have one of the kids sleep with usand the bear just happens to fall out of their arms and over to my side of the bed.

Accidentally of course.

Smiley's 1st Big Wheel

When I got home from work Lisa was waiting with a half-assembled Hot Wheels Big Wheel for Smiley.

I have no talent whatsoever for assembling these products and normally leave it to Lis, but this one took both of us more than an hour to get together.

For much of that time Smiley was chomping at the bit and getting in the way, but boy was he happy when it was ready!

Of course, it took one hour to assemble and he played with it for all of 5 minutes before preferring to join me as I transplanted some hastas in our yard, but that's a kid for you.

Video of NKOTB's 'Summertime'

Ony four months until we see NKOTB in concert, but I've yet to find out when the whole album hits stores. I'll have to surf the net for a bit today and get a release date.

In the meantime here's the video of their song 'Summertime', featuring many scantily clad women in bikinis, none of whom I believe are their spouses. Reason #55 to become rich and famous . .well, #'s 2-55 actually, behind only 'buy a lot of stuff' ;)

Just in case the song is yanked from YouTube, here's the official link from VH1.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Jeanne

In all the hubub I forgot to wish my mother-in-law a happy [redacted] birthday!

Happy Birthday Jeanne! We love you!

How the rest of the day went - 8:50 p.m. update

After this morning's dispute, it was a very sedate day at work, oddly enough, and in the afternoon a pleasant surprise. My 18 year old cousin (Lu's Godmother) who unofficially  hasn't been speaking to us since Halloween, called and stopped by the house.

I say unofficially because there was no 'argument', but the strong makings of one and we all went our separate ways.

Since we last saw her she's graduated from high school, moved out on her own (and since moved back) and Lu was very happy to see her, and vice versa.

I even conned her into cutting my lawn for 8 bucks - hee haw!

Nah, truth be known she asked to help out for a few extra bucks and I was grateful. Together we cut, trimmed, and edged the entire backyard, even under the trampoline.

Smiley tried to lend a hand too

Then he chilled out

Lu joined him, but unlike Smiley's shot her's was staged, the camera hog

The car in the next two photos I found in the garbage down the alley, and yup, I quickly scooped it up for the kids.

Lump was already in bed (I should have photographed her, as she was wearing an adorable dress), and YaYa?

YaYa was swimming with her cousin. Continuing this unusual string of sick days with her, she broke out in a bad rash up and down her arms and legs. When I called the doctor he ran me through a list of questions but then wrote it off as an allergy. To our knowledge, the only thing the girl is allergic to is High School Musical brand hand cream. Now her cousin had some, but YaYa claims not to have used it. Hmmmm, what are the chances she threw caution to the wind and tried some again?

What a morning!

Wow. Bit of a morning here, and it's only now 7:30.

The Mom who took YaYa over the weekend has a daughter that Lisa babysits. She came over this morning rip roaring and saying she was pissed at us. She said she had to have her car professionally portered yesterday and that YaYa claimed she didn't have any stomach issues but instead told her that we were all sick with the flu.

Ok, as I told the Mom, no six year old is going to go to a friend's family and say "I have chronic constipation. I get stomach pains because I do not poop.". I do not believe the car had to be portered or that it could even be accomplished on a Sunday in this town. The father said none of this the day of the event.

In addition she said we should have apologized to her (never mind the conversation with her husband or the unanswered call to her) and that we had 'no idea what she went through'.

??? I have four kids. We've both been shit on/puked on/pissed on/spit on a thousand times. It's what happens when you take kids. If someone's kid had puked in my car I'd have been annoyed, but I wouldn't have made a scene three days later, treating it as a personal affront and I would have called and checked on the kid's health the next day as a courtesy (which did not happen).

Long and the short of it, after a few minutes Lisa said enough was enough, find another babysitter and some more words were exchanged.

Oh, and George Carlin died, Lisa's brother failed to call her as promised, and her Uncle needs a heart valve replacement.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Dinosaur Birthday Party

I won't say today was perfect, but it went much better.

This afternoon we attended Lisa's cousin's son's 5th birthday party.


You think we do parties with flair? Take a look at this.

After a brief but fierce rainstorm the kids were sent into the yard to search for 'dinosaur bones'. Our big concern was that each of the kids find at least one, but with 31 of the bones out there it was easy pickings.

Each of the bones came from a dinosaur jigsaw puzzle. Each piece was magnified and traced on wood as a template, then cut out and painted. This was the final product once all the 'bones' were found.

There was a ball pit, a small inflatable pool, hot dogs and brats, and a delicious chocolate cake that featured a smoking volcano on top with dinosaurs surrounding it (the volcano was filled with dry ice).

We'll have to steal that idea for one of Smiley's parties in the years to come.

A good time, even if it was often interrupted by rain.

Here are some blurry but cute shots of Lump from today:

Don't Mess with Old Ladies

I read this on Make 'Em Laugh and had to repost it here. Please be so kind as to visit that journal and say hello.

An older lady gets pulled over for speeding...

Older Woman: Is there a problem, Officer?

Officer: Ma'am, you were speeding.

Older Woman: Oh, I see.

Officer: Can I see your license please?

Older Woman: I'd give it to you but I don't have one.

Officer: Don't have one?

Olde r Woman: Lost it, 4 years ago for drunk driving.

Officer: I see...Can I see your vehicle registration papers please.

Older Woman: I can't do that.

Officer: Why not?

Older Woman: I stole this car.

Officer: Stole it?

Older Woman: Yes, and I killed and hacked up the owner.

Officer: You what?

Older Woman: His body parts are in plastic bags in the trunk if you want to see

The Officer looks at the woman and slowly backs away to his car and calls for back up. Within minutes 5 police cars circle the car. A senior officer slowly approaches the car, clasping his half drawn gun.

Officer 2: Ma'am, could you step out of your vehicle please! The woman steps out of her vehicle.

Older woman: Is there a problem sir?

Officer 2: One of my officers told me that y ou have stolen this car and murdered the owner.

Older Woman: Murdered the owner?

Officer 2: Yes, could you please open the trunk of your car, please.

The woman opens the trunk, revealing nothing but an empty trunk.

Officer 2: Is this your car, ma'am?

Older Woman: Yes, here are the registration papers.
The officer is quite stunned.

Officer 2: One of my officers claims that you do not have a driving license.

The woman digs into her handbag and pulls out a clutch purse and hands it to the officer.

The officer examines the license. He looks quite puzzled.

Officer 2: Thank you ma'am, one of my officers told me you didn't have a license, that you stole this car, and that you murdered and hacked up the owner.

Older Woman: Bet the liar told you I was speeding, too!!!!

Don't Mess With Old Ladies