Bounce house bounties and the big oh-four

Thanks, TM!

The wails resonated through the empty garage from the front yard. It’s been 3minutes since Jumptastic! inflated the “All-Around Sports” Bounce House. Both excited, son and daughter raced inside and started laughing, giggling, bouncing…then, crying. Son was sobbing while covering his left eye and daughter groaned holding her hip. We had two hours until the party started and neither kid was happy.

I remember a Simpsons episode where Homer bought Bart a trampoline. As the day progressed more and more bodies lined the perimeter of the circle of death. Kids were bandaged, bleeding and other wise broken. As I stared at the bounce house, I was concerned with its safety but everything appeared to be okay. The main flaw was at the point of egress. Kids would bounce down the step in an attempt to quit and then bounce one final time head-first onto the concrete driveway. Luckily, no insurance companies have contacted us to introduce litigation.

Several months ago, wife suggested we host a party for son’s upcoming fourth birthday (after all, what’s more important than the big Oh-Four? Don’t ask wife about this…she’s working on speeding headlong into the big Four-Oh).  We had to work it into the schedule and finally had the opportunity for the past Sunday. We invited all of his friends and their parents; we turned football on the TV; we set up a “beverage center” and even had a popcorn machine.

While enjoying the newly constructed patio under the deck next to the play area, a friend from church and from the neighborhood were conversing with me when all three of us heard a shocking utterance. Is it possible for three grown men to mistake profanity (two of whom are teachers)? To this day, I swear one of the girls dropped the F-bomb. We all snapped our heads around towards the craft table. We looked at each other and quizzically asked, “Was that …?” Out of the mouth of babes…

The rest of the day went well, the Transformers cake featured both Optimus Prime and Megatron with a black and silver frosting adorned with mechanical gearing and red piping. Little did I realize that I would have the opportunity to see that color again when my son yelled, “I WENT, daddy, I WENT,” the next day in the throne room, or more specifically, circling the bowl.

The weekend was full of fun. The day before, Chuck E. Cheese hosted a birthday party for two boys from the neighborhood. Wife went and took son. After a 10mile run, she raced with him to the play center and rode rides and watched chromatic lights blink on and off, whirling her in a daze to the couch at home, nauseous to the point of danger.

Finally, Son’s birthday arrived and the grandparents came to visit, bring gifts of trains and trucks. Son’s favorite gift was a large green waste truck with lift arms in front and a dumpster. This is the one toy he wanted to take in the shower, sleep with, and spend every waking moment the next day speaking of it. This reinforces the idea that he wants to be a waste-management consultant when he grows up. Either way, he’ll be a real American Hero!

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Is the iPhone 5 an iPhony

On September 14, 2012, along with millions of other crazed consumers, I pre-ordered an iPhone 5 so that I would not have to wait in line or tell wife. What?!?!? I always assumed it’s easier to ask forgiveness then permission. Wife, upon being notified by UPS a delivery from FoxConn was on it’s way from China, sent me a simple, yet clear email, “Did you buy an iPhone 5?” Nothing else in the email, no anger, happiness, or sadness, just 6 words. I replied in an ever-succinct manner, “Yes.”

After missing the first delivery attempt (you mean I have to wait another day?), I came home to find a small rectangular box, opened and surveyed the new purchase. It is thinner, yes; and it is lighter, yes; it has a bigger screen, yes; but, so what? I want it to accomplish tasks my previous phone could not achieve. It has Siri and a better resolution screen that I actually find beneficial. Wife turned off Siri because every time her fingers were texting, they brushed the microphone in the lower left corner. Wife doesn’t watch movies; so, for her, it added little to the iPhone experience.

Except Speed. The monumental increase in speed dwarfs the abilities of my previous phone. I imagine as new apps are created specifically for the bigger screen, it will add to the visual aesthetics. The one key improvement I find most beneficial are the earbuds. They sound fabulous and actually stay in my ears where the older generation fell out with the slightest head tilt.

Where I teach, students wear their headphones between classes, even having conversations with them on. Some teachers allow them to be worn in class. Today, I think I’ll put my earbuds on and tune out the 140  “special” students I teach every day. I may even ignore them when they speak to me as if my earbuds were too loud. Better yet, actually, I will put the earbuds in and leave the sound off to overhear any juicy comments made by the students. Not really, I probably DON’T want to know too much.

I love the iPhone 5 I purchased but I don’t see it as the greatest invention ever. After all, it’s hard to improve on an already successfully designed product. Don’t believe the hype, but I don’t think its an iPhony. I do find it funny that as soon as people find out I have the new iPhone, they want to share how much they like their phone; insecure anyone? Really, though, Apple has the world by the proverbial balls. Whatever they do, people want to have it, copy it, or wish they’d thought of it. Now, I’m counting the days until the iPhone 6.

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Ruffle Ruffle and the Tooth Berry

As I sit here wounded and battered from last night’s fight club installment; whoops. Bruises and scratches adorn my body from a new game I invented with son where he kicks and claws at me, laughing hysterically the whole time.  “Ruffle” as he calls it, short for “rough and tumble,” is a cross between Mixed Martial Arts and UFC cage fighting. And yes, he wins every time.

               This week was special because son lost his first tooth. Hilariously, it was actually knocked out. Yes, son is a bruiser. It’ll go either way…prison or stardom; we’re on a wait-and-see program. The tooth had been loose for a while and with the desperate need for the tooth fairy to visit impending, wife bought the book, Bear Loses a Tooth, to help explain the idea and calm son with any concerns he may have. Well, in this story, the bear asks for blueberries from the tooth fairy so son asked for the same. But, the tooth fairy always brings a gold dollar. Do we tell her to change? Do we ask her for blueberries? Son knows little about money so he didn’t seem interested but the blueberries…oh, yeah!

Except the first thing out of his mouth when he sees the bowl is, “she brought me too much…” Wife cannot believe the fact that son didn’t fall over with gratitude. What’s with that, anyway? Every time wife or I offer son a hug or help when he is hurt, we get kicked, hit or bitten. I know I should read Dr. Spock’s famous child rearing book or something like that, but I would prefer to simply watch Mr. Spock on Star Trek. So how long until we see the results of the fruits of our labor? As soon as I find out, I’ll let you know.

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Setting goals on poop or something like that

                This weekend, the family got the scoop on poop. Seriously, there was an exhibit at Fernbank Museum where son and daughter could learn how long it takes an elephant to poop their weight (6hours). The Labor Day weekend was filled with frivolity as wife and I decided to splurge on everything from clothes at the mall to dinners out. Wife ran her first 10km road race on Monday. I woke the kids after she left and we made a sign that said “Go Mommy!” As runners ran by, they pointed and smiled at son in his monkey pajamas eating a Krispy Kreme doughnut waiting for wife to run by.

Later that day, after the museum, son fell asleep in car. Allowing him to OMG finally take a nap; wife prepared a pallet for him to sleep on in the family room. See, we tried the couch, once. Once. Wife took a trash bag and placed it on the floor then covered it with a blanket and a pillow lest he leaks and we have to get out the green machine to clean up. He slept for a blissful hour. I am sure he enjoyed the rest; we enjoyed it more. Daughter kept saying she wasn’t tired until she succumbed in the car and her face fell forward into sleep. Overall, it was a nice drive home.

Today, I signed up for the Eric Shanteau Swim For Your Life race in two weeks. It has a 1km and a 5km swim. I would suggest that for most people, 3.1miles in the water would constitute the equivalent effort of a half-marathon. I never swam that far before, but have tackled 1.5miles in open water at the beach this summer. I swam 2.5miles half a dozen times in the pool, and regularly swim 6-8miles per week. In the pool…big difference. Once you leave the confines of the safety net of a pool, nothing is the same. This should be a piece of cake for the Ironmen and women who have to swim 2.4miles often in ocean water that at times can be rough. WARNING: solicitation coming…If you’d like to donate money to the LiveSTRONG Foundation or just want to check out Eric’s amazing story, go to .

There are amazing people in this world to whom we are introduced everyday; I think the most amazing people are the ones that take a step forward towards a goal, whether they can achieve it or not. Daughter dreams of dancing in the great theatres of the world; son wants to haul garbage; wife wants to run a half-marathon; I want to go farther and faster than the time before. What’s your goal?

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Molly Morningstar and the Peanut M&M

  Has your dog ever eaten a 2lb bag of M&M’s (peanut)? Mine did. During the winter of 1999, Wife and I lived in Wisconsin. Wife had put out a huge bowl of pink and white candies in a bowl on the living room table. On a crisp Saturday morning, we come downstairs and found the bowl empty. You probably know chocolate can be dangerous for a dog, but two pounds for a 19lb dog would cause a heart attack. Deftly, we call the vet and he says to mix a solution of salt water and hydrogen peroxide and pour it down her throat to induce vomiting. We head outside; I am holding Molly and wife has the “solution”. After a few minutes, we have a steaming pile of freshly regurgitated candy on the frozen tundra we called our backyard. Well, it stayed there, frozen, until the Spring thaw as a constant reminder of what NOT to do.

All dogs go to heaven; for a while, though, I thought Molly was possessed. I am not a bible-thumping Baptist who runs at the first sight of devilish behavior, but I have a healthy respect for religion. See, the dog kept eating our bibles. Seriously, why would a normal dog eat a bible? This was piggy-backed by rugs, shoes and anything left without supervision. The dog could eat. Anything. Anytime. One time more recently after moving to the ’05, she ate an entire loaf of Nature’s Own whole wheat bread. I thought to myself…”At least she went with the wheat and not the white…” To say the least, wife and I felt Molly had an eating disorder.

Since daughter was born, Molly never snipped or snapped at her, always licking her and well, just being sweet. Son, of course, used to chase her around with any blunt object. Molly underwent a campaign of shock and awe while she tried to duck and cover. Son still hasn’t noticed she’s gone. Last night, he helped my by closing the door so Molly would not get out. See, he’s like that M&M, tough shell on the outside, and sweet on the inside. Maybe; only time will tell. Parents, warn your daughters.

We’ll miss you, Molly Morningstar; February, 1998 – August, 2012.

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Why football is not my fantasy and the catfish shootout

“Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever.” –Shane Falco, The Replacements. For the first time in ten years, football season is approaching and I feel like saying, “myeh.” I cancelled DirecTV Sunday Ticket, I quit fantasy football, and I am actually not that excited to go to the Georgia-Vanderbilt game. What is wrong with me? Basically, my life is full. Following the leaky bucket theory, as new things arrive in my immediate concern, the more things drip out the bottom.

Now, you are probably wondering what my life is full of. Well, for starters, sheep dip, but beyond that I have 2hours per day of fitness, 8hours of work, 30min thinking about my dissertation (30more if I actually work on it), helping get the kids off to school, helping the kids get to bed, and one psychotic three-year-old and a overly dramatic tween. So when, pray tell, am I supposed to squeeze in a three hour football game?

Wife won’t let play son play football. “Too dangerous.”

I say to her, “No more than soccer.” Silence.


Most of my conversations with wife are one sided. It’s not that she or I don’t listen to each other. Sometimes, I actually hear too much. Really, my wife says something; I disagree; she reiterates her idea; I agree. Now that you look at it, it actually seems balanced when she wins.

This summer, grandfather took daughter to fish at a nearby lake where a ten pound catfish became the prize of the day. Not wanting to diminish the responsibilities of dealing with the results of hunting, fishing, etc. grandfather taught daughter how to clean a catfish.

Warning: Graphic material ahead. You see, the best way to clean a catfish is to get a plank, place the fish on the plank, and drive a nail through its skull, firmly keeping the fish in place. Then, the skin is peeled off. Catfish don’t have scales. Both son and daughter watched in horror. Should we have let son watch? Only time and psycho-analysis will tell, but the other day, son told me that fish and people have the same kind of “bleed.” Great…

Here’s a TV lesson I learned. No, not from TV, about TV. The other day when I went to turn on the television for son, I manually (that means without the remote) turned the set on, bent over to press the DirecTV DVR power button, and clicked the sound receiver on. When all of this happened the shootout scene from Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider came on immediately while son watched men be shot down as fast as good ol’ Clint could pull the triggers, yes- two guns. I scrambled for the remote, but alas, it was nowhere to be found. Now, it wasn’t the office scene from The Matrix where Neo and Trinity approach the building strapped with weapons and annihilate everything and everyone, but…son’s eyes were fixated on this.

So, what was the lesson? Make sure you have the remote and it works BEFORE you turn something on. Invariably, it was left on the most violent channel running a violent show.

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Space Toilets and The Chicken Tree

Son is a picky eater. Well, not really. He simply doesn’t eat anything but crackers, pretzels and dry cereal. He’s not picky, he’s stubborn. Last night during dinner, I had to excuse myself to make room for more. While busy, son tells wife, “I don’t want to eat chicken; it comes from a live animal.”

Wife replies, “Oh, no…this came from a chicken tree.”

“No, it didn’t. It came from inside a chicken.”

“Seriously, son, would I lie to you?” asks wife.

Son eats chicken, but with a quizzical look and smirk on his face. You know he knows something is fishy about this story, but hey, mom said it.

Now, before all of you chide wife for “fooling” son into eating meat. Yes, my family consists of four omnivores and one dog that’ll eat non-food items as well. Why does a dog eat seven sand dollars then proceed to vomit them up on the hardwood (thankfully not the carpet)? And, I know some of you are concerned with the less-than-honest approach. Just remember what your parents told you…

My mom and dad used to tell me at bedtime (while the sun was still up) that it was really nighttime even though I could hear the kids in the neighborhood hooting and hollering. Parents hide the unpleasantness of life without remorse; in fact, they’re glad to do it: “Seriously, honey, this won’t hurt.” My father ripped a toenail off my little toe one day when I was at the beach. IF I remember correctly, he did the old, “1…2, rip”. What a minute! Where the heck was 3?!?!? Lying is a state of mind. Have you ever told your child you were going to let him have a candy if he’s good in the store then conveniently forgot? The slope to the high road is VERY steep.

Getting back to omnivorous eating habits, have you seen the food replicator on Star Trek? What is that food made out of? The way I understand it, the starships recycle waste and filter its “goodness” out. Basic science tells us nothing can spontaneously generate. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. I might think twice about ordering that chocolate dessert in Ten Forward. Or, do aliens even have bathroom issues? I think an episode dealing with exploding toilets would have won an Emmy.

I recently read an essay where the iconic television series and literature we grew up on has made their way to mythological status. Whether it’s Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, people know the history of those worlds better than our own. I asked a class how different religions have gotten along in the past. Most of the students thought they had tolerated one another. Since each student had taken World History, I asked if anyone remembered the Crusades. That didn’t go so well.

The moral of the story is lie to your kids ONLY when it benefits the child and don’t eat food on the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701).

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