Friday Four: Play-DOH!, sans pants, a Hellcatecdote, and my ridiculous upper lip.

5 Feb

Without further ado, a bi-randomly installment of the Friday Four. Because at some point you just have to say, “Hey, enough ado already. Get on with it.”

If a PLAY-DOH village was bombed with PLAY-DOH, it would look like this.

1. Parents should join together and file a class-action lawsuit against the purveyors of PLAY-DOH.

Seriously. This isn’t just me being cynical. I think it would be a slam-dunk victory in a court of law because if you check out the FAQs at the official PLAY-DOH site, you’ll realize that these people knew damn well what they were doing when they started selling this stuff. I’ve taken the liberty of paraphrasing:

1. Is there any chance that my kids are going to eat this stuff? Uh, is there any chance that your kids aren’t going to eat this stuff? They’re going to be packing their cheeks with this crap faster than a squirrel that has fallen into a trailer-full of pistachios. Okay, will it hurt them? Probably not. (Officially, “PLAY-DOH compound is non-toxic, non-irritating & non-allergenic,” which is non-accurate because I can tell you that it can be plenty-irritating.) So does it have nutritional value? No less than that bowl of cereal your kid ate this morning, but not quite as healthy as that bug she choked down five minutes ago.

2. If PLAY-DOH gets ground into the carpet or furniture upholstery or my kid’s head, how do I remove it? You don’t. If it’s in the carpet, buy a rug. Smeared onto the couch? Reach up into the top of the closet and pull out one of the seventeen afghans you got for your wedding and cover it up. Your kid’s head? Just give him a pair of scissors: he’ll take care of it.

3. How can we keep our PLAY-DOH from drying out so quickly? Quit letting your kids play with it.

4. How can we keep the different colors of PLAY-DOH from getting mixed together? Did you read number three?

Of course, kids love the stuff, so we have an entire tub of PLAY-DOH paraphernalia labeled “MISERY” that we bring out occasionally when the kids need to exercise their creativity a bit or when we haven’t been to the grocery store in a couple of days. This tub is home to every imaginable instrument of PLAY-DOH manipulation known to childkind, and no less than 58 canisters of exactly the same color: greenish-brownish-grayish with bluish-redish flecks.


Sure, the lids would suggest that there is a broad palette of differently-colored PLAY-DOH ready for molding, and at one time, when the canisters sat on the shelf in the store where they were purchased, that was the case. Now it’s just 20 pounds of “blah” in five dozen three-ounce containers.

But, in a moment of self-inflicted graciousness, I set up PLAY-DOH central for the kids a couple of days ago while Kick Ass Mom was gone.

Needless to say, FAQs #1-4 were fully evident, and there are a couple more that I would add to the list:

5. Why, when there are hundreds of “tools” available, will Perpetual Motion and the Hellcat decide simultaneously that the broken mini rolling-pin is the absolutely-have-t0-have-it-can’t-live-without-it-my-masterpiece-will-be-ruined-if-I-don’t-get-it-right-now-I’m-going-to-throw-the-nearest-available-object-at-your-head-so-you-know-I-mean-business accessory? What? You lost us at “masterpiece.”

6. How can Tax Credit #4 down a couple of canisters of PLAY-DOH, process it, pass it, and end up with a mass in his diaper that is nearly identical in shape and hue to the blob that he originally ate? It’s like corn.


#2: Oh, and one more question…

7. Why would one PLAY-DOH with his pants down? It’s liberating. No different than you golfing with your pants down or wood-working with your pants down (that’s what she said). Roll with it.

#3. Get it right, Daddy.

So, as I mentioned way back here, we have this reward system set up for our kids based on these marble jars. Earlier this week, the Hellcat went into full-fledged screaming, shrieking, crying outburst mode for some reason that I can’t even recall, and in the midst of her meltdown, she came over and whacked me in the leg. “Alright, Pippy. I’m taking two marbles out of your jar. We don’t hit people.”

The Hellcat immediately flipped the switch on her fit, walked directly to the counter, and reached into her jar.

“No, daddy. You take out three marbles when we hit,” she calmly informed me.

Really, what am I around for?

#4: So about my ridiculous upper lip…

I am currently sporting a moustache, although it could easily be mistaken for some type of small, malnourished, mange-infested vermin that crawled up under my nose and died. It is, in a word, ridiculous.

But it’s for a good cause. If you haven’t heard of Movember, it is an international campaign to bring awareness to cancers in men by encouraging males worldwide to grow moustaches during the month of November. Some sobering statistics:

·     1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in his lifetime.

·     1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.

My dad and my uncle have both had cancer, in addition to several other individuals that I know, and I thought that this would be an opportunity to contribute in some way to the fight against this bastard of a disease.

If you would like to aid this effort, please make a donation to support the great work of the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG.  To help, you can either:

–  Click this link and donate online using your credit card or PayPal account.

–  Write a check payable to “Movember,” referencing my name or registration number 1287192, and mail it to: Movember, P.O. Box 2726, Venice, CA 90294-2726.

Thanks for any assistance that you may be able to offer, and here’s to hoping that one day Movember turns into a month of moustaches to celebrate the cure for all forms of cancer.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

The Pickoff Move

13 Sep

P Motion and Homer.

Sunday of Labor Day weekend we took our team of sluggers to a minor league baseball game.

Arriving at the ballpark about a half hour ahead of the first pitch, we made our way to the walk-up ticket window, and $18 later (hello, beer money!) the six of us were through the gate.

You gotta love minor league prices, especially on the heels of an epic Chuck E. Cheese’s run (aren’t they all?) and back-to-school shopping looming the next day.

Our tickets were for a grass area down the first base line behind the visiting team’s bullpen, which in this ballpark amounts to the foul territory down the right field line — think Wrigley — where we spread out a blanket and plopped down.

Afternoon baseball is a real treat. Savoring the warm-but-not-hot late summer sun on the backs of our necks, we watched the players nonchalantly yuck it up as they loosened their arms, the whistling whiz of stitched rawhide popping well-oiled leather providing a rhythmic soundtrack for this little slice of Americana. (Take that, Ken Burns.)

The serenity of this moment lasted just under two minutes before our bench players got restless, which was just fine. Part of the reason we opted for the cheap seats on the grass (besides beer money) was knowing that the kids wouldn’t be content sitting still for long, and we didn’t expect them to.

So we were up and off. Perpetual Motion to the inflatable jump pit; Kick Ass Wife, Hellcat, and Tax Credit #4 in search of snow cones; Slim double-fisting a couple hot dogs and me double-fisting a couple Shock Top Belgian Whites.

Slim perfectly demonstrating the pace of the day: chill.

Then back to the blanket for starting lineups, our Anthem, and the first pitch, just before which the players in the pen turned and tossed a ball to each of the kids.

This pattern continued for the entirety of the game. Watch a half inning from the grass, get up and move.

We made several laps of the field, pausing along the way to watch from several different vantage points, the kids asking questions, pointing, then scurrying just ahead or falling just behind as we mosied on.

No hurry, no worry, our pace matching that of the game being played before us, a welcome relief after the first week of school with its maddening rush of morning and evening and everything in between.

It was good stuff, all the way around.

Oh, and great baseball, too. We cheered on an inside-the-park home run by the home team’s number two hitter in the bottom of the first, maybe the most exciting play in baseball. We marveled over a dazzling play by the shortstop from deep in the hole, and applauded the right fielder’s running snag of a ball hit to the gap. And we witnessed quite possibly the best pickoff move in the history of baseball.

But it didn’t involve a pitcher.

It involved a 3-year-old.

Somewhere toward the later innings Kick Ass Wife and I somewhat begrudgingly agreed to get one bag of cotton candy for the crew to share, our reservations having nothing to do with nutritional value (see: snow cones, hot dogs, soft pretzels, nachos) but with messiness value, which, if left up to me, would be a major determining factor for all food choices (see: jerky). But we figured “What the hell?” It was a go-all-in type of afternoon.

“Sure wish I had some more…”

We lined up the kids along the concession stand wall and allowed each of them to get one big handful of the sugary wisp, and, quicker than a catcher’s snap throw to first, they were instantly covered in cotton candy blue.

Others walking by chuckled and pointed out the quartet of sticky siblings to companions, giving me that knowing look that says, “You poor bastard.”

Of course, I had to get a picture. And it was then, as I was capturing another memory from our day at the ballpark, that the pickoff occurred.

Tax Credit #4, who had already inhaled his allotment, glanced up and spotted his sister’s remaining chunk hanging from her mouth as she preened for the pic, and with the deftness of a fourth-born who knows he’s going to get only one chance at something — if any — #4 snatched it from her lips and crammed the whole of it into his mouth in one smooth motion.

“…and now I do. Thanks, Sis!”

Hellcat stared down at her little brother, dumbfounded (and enraged). His brothers laughed and complimented him on his handiwork. His mother didn’t even realize what had happened. I raised my cup to him.

It truly was a move (and a day) for the ages.

Why I Won’t Let My 12-Year-Old See The Hunger Games

23 Mar

We don’t have a 12-year-old. It’s been a while since I posted, but not that long.

No, our 8-year-old, Slim, is the oldest. So he’ll be staying home to watch his three siblings while Kick Ass Wife and I don our flaming unitards and head to the theater to see Katniss and the gang get all primal on one another.

And speaking of getting all primal, KAW read the entire HG trilogy in the last 10 days after I downloaded them to her phone. Pretty impressive considering she has a full-time job. (Sleep deprivation, anyone?)

I don’t know why we’ve gotten into these books. Maybe because any one of the scenes involving the Cornucopia could be a reenactment of every meal served at our dining table ever.

Believe me, Hellcat could give Katniss a serious run for her money, especially if it involved who got the pink Dora cup rather than the blue Toy Story one. The 4-year-old tribute is ruthless when it comes to plastic dinnerware.

Anyway, may the odds ever be in your favor.

And I’m referring to getting tickets.

The Von Trapp Children Wash Rocks

12 Sep

When it comes to interacting with young children, there are two types of people: those like Kick Ass Wife, and those like me.

Those like Kick Ass Wife telepathically emanate a Pied-Piper-like frequency that transforms kids into good-mannered minions who chant harmonized cleaning songs while collaborating to alphabetically restock the bookshelves in one another’s bedrooms.

Those like me, on the other hand, grind their teeth with the same ferocity that tectonic plates shift along fault lines and regret not having picked up another twelver while they were in town.

So THANK GOD our kids have their mother.

Hellcat getting her rock wash on. Really.

That being said, an individual like Kick Ass Wife can be a bit sickening at times to mere mortals like myself. She just glides into any chaotic situation — such as when the kids are awake — clicks her heels, wiggles her nose, and suddenly our spawn, who seconds before had been pulling shivs on one another and calling each other poopyhead in three different languages, transform into the goddamn Von Trapp children, flitting around like songbirds with disproportionately large heads while playing together in a manner that can only be described as docile and supportive, not unlike an Amish game of Twister.

Case in point: a few weeks ago we’re camping in the mountains with some friends. The kids are racing around with spears I’d made for them the weekend prior, which in hindsight doesn’t seem like a terrific idea, but at the time I figured a little good-natured sibling impaling would keep them occupied for a couple of hours.

And it would have. But the kids just had to impale right in camp, chasing one another round and round the fire pit and the lawn chairs my buddy and I were sitting in as we attempted to fight off a vicious bout of soberitis with a full cooler, even though there were literally square miles of forest in every direction that were perfectly fit for impaling.

And let  me tell you, sharp, pointy objects really ratchet up the volume level, which I shouldn’t have been surprised by because in the movies guys running around with spears are always yelling.

So Kick Ass Wife, hearing my jaw start to clench, floats in under a golden ray of light shining down from the heavens and calmly says to the marauding swarm, “Do you want to wash some rocks?”

Cue the record-scratching sound.

Do you want to wash some rocks? WTF?

And, of course, they did.

To avoid any confusion, here is how “washing rocks” works:

1. Fill a Rubbermaid container with four inches of ice-cold water and a few drops of dish soap.

2. Hand the kids toothbrushes.

3. Instruct them to find rocks.

4. Invite them to wash said rocks.

The kids sat and QUIETLY scrubbed and dried and rescrubbed and redried rocks for what seemed like hours, but may have actually only been a six-pack. In fact, they were so totally engrossed in this activity — washing rocks — that if I had vomited up an Xbox with a copy of Super Mario Kart they would have done nothing more than shrug and ask for more dish soap. And possibly Caprisuns.

So you understand why those types of people can be sickening.

But, man, I’m glad one of those people is my wife.


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