Sunday, September 20, 2009

Um...I'm not so sure that's a good idea....

This morning, our Sunday tranquility was interrupted by Mother-in-Law calling us to ask where she might be able to send a fax at 10:00 am on a Sunday morning.

"Why?" my wife asked, with a tinge of nervousness in her voice.

Apparently, Mother-in-law was getting ready to fax a copy of her credit card and driver's license to a hotel in Laughlin, Nevada. Why, you might ask? Well, let's get to that.

This story kind of starts with brother-in-law. Just when you get the idea his life is finally (finally) on an upswing, something totally crazy happens to make you change your mind. Brother-in-law decided to enter a Karaoke singing contest at a local bar in Salt Lake. In this case, it seems like he has been doing quite well. So well, in fact, that he actually won the darn thing and was invited to the final competition in Laughlin, NV.

So, off he goes to Laughlin, NV...down by Bullhead City...which is right next to...well...nothing. However, once he got there to check into the hotel room, the desk clerk asked for a credit know, to cover any "expenses" like damage to the room, missing hotel towels, adult entertainment on TV, or drinks from the mini-bar.

Unfortunately for brother-in-law, he doesn't actually have a credit card...nor does his 47 year-old girlfriend who has a 22-year old son. (RIIIGGGHHT...No one has a debit card or a credit card...uh huh). So, he frantically calls mother-in-law and convinces her to fax a copy of her credit card and photo ID to an obscure hotel. Um, I'm not so sure that's a good idea.

Personally, I've got to believe that this whole Karaoke contest is some elaborate plot to get people to drive 518 miles from Salt Lake to spent time and money in Laughlin, Nevada. Why am I so sure? Well, the grand prize of landing in the Laughlin NV finals didn't actually pay anything, although one "sponsor" did offer a $40 gas all was not lost...but then again, this sponsor backed out at the last minute, so I guess all was lost. What better group to invite to Laughlin than a bunch of drunk Karaoke "contestants" who think it's fun to sing Achy Breaky Heart or a positively rocking rendition of Sweet Home Alabama to a room full of other drunk people...and as winners, they get to pay their own way and all expenses in Laughlin, NV. It takes a special kind of person who thinks that winning the Karaoke contest in Laughlin, NV is just one more small step to on the way to stardom. Next stop: American Idol. After that: red carpet at the American Music Awards, I'm sure. It's a brilliant move for the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce, but personally, I think it's a sham.

Anyway, back to the point. Faxing credit card numbers and drivers licenses to complete strangers is definitely not a good idea...ever! Perhaps I should forward mother-in-law that e-mail I just received from the orphaned Nigerian Prince who "needs my helping to transfer huge sums of fortune onto American bank accounts." I'm sure I could get her to fax her checking account number to Nigeria too.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Loan Request

This week’s episode gives us a little insight into my sister-in-law…my wife’s older sister. She’s the one who doesn’t know how much a stamp costs. She has a long and troubled past. We’ll get into a lot more details later. She’s in and out of jobs, and can’t seem to get along with anyone long enough to start into anything even remotely resembling a career. She is also the one who quit her job at Lonestar in dramatic fashion.

I know her the best, so I seem to have more stories. One day, we were at some kind of family function and she cornered me in the kitchen, alone, and asked me for a loan (that sounded weird…alone…a loan…anyway). Most of my career has been spent working at a bank, so, usually when someone asks me for a loan, my brain automatically kicks into banking mode, and I start in with my questions, so here's how it went. Sister-in-law asked me for a loan. Okay. Question #1: How much do you need? Answer: About $3,000. Question #2. What's the collateral [ie - What do I get to take away from you when you don't pay me back?]. Answer: I really don't have any collateral. Alright…not so good, but stranger loans have been approved. Question #3: What would you use the money for? Answer: Um, its for, um, an operation... Question #4: What kind of operatio..ohmygosh...[screech]...back up! Then it hits me...she's asking me to finance her breast augmentation! I quick said 'no' to that, and explained an unsecured loan for 3 grand is probably a Visa card, not a loan from my Bank. (I could just see myself taking that loan into Senior Loan Committee for approval…”to the esteemed members of the committee, here we have a loan request for $3,000 to a barely employed woman who would like to “enhance” her physical appearance…”). She gave up on asking me for money and ended up getting her new boobs paid for by grandma, so all is well. Gotta love her persistence….and kinda got to feel sorry for her humiliation, what with having to ask TWO people (at least) for money to pay for her enhancements.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Disneyland - YAY!

We just returned from a magical vacation at Disneyland in California. We stayed in our timeshare in Anaheim right down the street from the Magic Kingdom! It was awesome! The best part of it was, we had a full kitchen, so we didn’t have to eat out three times a day. Being the cheapskates that we are, we brought most of our own food, so we could make big pancake breakfasts to really fill up the kids, so we didn’t have to hear “I’m hungry!” at 9:45 am. We packed our own lunches and smuggled them in, so we didn’t have to buy $14 pretzels, or spend $9 on a can of orange soda. Timeshares are the greatest thing ever! If you have ever wanted to buy one, e-mail me, and I will sell you mine. You’ll never regret it….I promise…

Of course, our oldest daughter had been preparing for the Mad Hatter Teacups for months, and she took the first opportunity she had to ride them. I took the first opportunity I had to hold the baby while my wife and oldest daughter tried to make themselves throw up on the teacups ride. Since the teacups ride is a very popular ride, and the estimated wait time for the line was about 2 days, I had a lot of time to “people watch.” Its one of my favorite pastimes. Here are some observations from Disneyland.

First, I’m sorry to say this, America, but a great percentage of you really need to go on The Biggest Loser…and that pile of cheezy nachos at 8:15 in the morning is not helping! Even though you might feel okay about drinking 64 ounces of Diet Coke, it doesn’t counteract the other 9,000 calories you consume each day.

Second, as predicted, I did see a group of Japanese girls with white masks on to protect themselves from Swine Flu.

Third, I must be one of the last ten people in the nation, under the age of 40, without some kind of visible tattoo on my legs, arms, back, chest, shoulders, neck, or head. Is it just me, or is it some kind of rite of passage for every teenager to get ink done? They know its going to be there forever, right? Like for-ev-er? And once you kids stretch your earlobes into the size of soup cans, they’re never going back to the way God intended them, you know that right? I’ve always kind of wondered what’s going to happen when these little tattoo billboards turn 80 and wake up one day and decide they really don’t want a panoramic of a medieval wedding tattooed on their arm like a sleeve. We shall see. Is it just me, or is it a fact that once you have something tattooed on your neck, head, or face, you have pretty much determined that you will not work in an office, ever, at any point in your life?

While waiting in the 40 minute line to ride the Atlantis submarine ride, one especially prominent tattooed character was alternating back and forth with us. Every few feet of the serpentine, I had a perfect chance to inspect all of the wicked and horrible images he had displayed all over his body, neck, and head. He even had a full grill made entirely out of gold. I try not to be stereotypical, but I couldn’t help wondering how many knife fights this guy had been in. Undoubtedly, one more than I have been in. I wondered if he had ever gone to jail (actually, I wondered how long he had been in prison, but I’m trying to be good). Then, when the waiting ended and it was time to ride, the Disneyland “cast member” wanted to stuff me down this tiny hole into a cramped, tiny submarine…with my tattooed friend with the golden teeth. Um, I’m sorry, but even though this is supposed to be the happiest place on earth, I just can’t put my children in that kind of danger.

I want to be clear…I have absolutely nothing against a tastefully placed, properly discreet tattoo, but, being a non-tattooed person, I probably don’t understand it all…so if you have a tattoo, feel free to help me out. How do you decide what design to get and how do you know where to place it? I really can’t think of any shapes I like so much that I would want to make them a part of my body for the rest of my life, but that’s just me. Have you ever gotten a tattoo and then regretted it later? How did you decide what to get? Do you remember getting one, or did you just wake up with a painful burning sensation on your upper arm?

Oh, and for the record, a big, huge pancake breakfast for the kids, plus a ride on the Mad Hatter Teacups first thing in the morning equals a very bad idea…

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lonestar Steak House

The intent of this blog was to give me an outlet to share all of the crazy stories from my in-laws. I think we've strayed somewhat, so let's get back on course. Here we go with a classic little story called "Lone Star Steakhouse."
Just before our family moved to AZ, my wife's older sister and her son lived with us for a few months. (Now you know the real reason why we moved to Arizona). Anyway, sister-in-law has always had a lot of issues in life and one of her favorite issues is an inability to deal with stress of any kind. As a result, she changes jobs more often than I change the channel on the television. She has had such illustrious jobs as a waitress, hair cut girl, waitress again, make-up counter girl at Clinique, and back to waitress. If she gets any criticism from a manager, she's likely to up and quit her know, really nasty stuff like "Sister-in-law, table #15 needs more drinks." WHAT! This place SUX! I QUIT!

One day, she was working at Lonestar Steakhouse in a very conservative, predominantly Mormon community, while she lived with us. The place she worked was the bastion of the Mormon stay-at-home-mom, working dad, and 5 yuppie larvae kids in tow. Well, Lone Star has "family night" every Tuesday, where kids eat free. (The reader needs to know that this particular community of Mormons are the cheapest group around, so "kids eat free" is a big deal, especially when you’re trying to feed 5 to 10 of them). So, this story went down (of course) on a Tuesday night, at Lone Star packed full of the moms, dads, and little blonde yuppie larvae kids. Well, sister-in-law got some of that awful criticism that makes her want to quit her job, so that's what happened, but it was the "how" it happened that was so classic.

The Lonestar uniform is, as you may know, the black polo shirt with the Lone Star logo on it, and tan pants. Technically, I guess, the shirt belongs to the restaurant, but you can wear whatever tan pants you want. Well, sister-in-law and her manager were getting into this argument, and she was fixin' to quit (again). So she took the argument out to the waiting area packed with nice little (big) families waiting to be seated. Since she was quitting, she had to return the Lonestar shirt to the restaurant so she did what any sensible person would do, and ripped it off right in front of all of those nice people, wadded it up and threw it at the manager's face. Well, she had nothing on under that except her skimpy bra, which caused even more of a scene when you consider that this happened after her breast augmentation happened. (Part of me thinks she did it on purpose to show off her new surgically enhanced anatomy, but that’s just me.) Dads scrambled to cover kids’ eyes. Moms scrambled to cover dads’ eyes. (Shock of their lives, I’m sure.) She had her little temper tantrum and stormed out of the waiting area into the parking lot, where she exposed herself to even more stunned families, got in her car and drove home to our house. NICE! I know you think I’m making this up, but trust me, my imagination is nowhere near creative enough to come up with this stuff on my own.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fear Factor

For the last few weeks, dinnertime at our house has somewhat deteriorated. It has gotten to the point that any outside observer might think that we're filming the inaugural season of Fear Factor Kids edition around our dinner table. It really doesn't matter what we try...our children act like we're trying to feed them live cockroaches. We have tried letting them pick the menu, bribing, threatening, withholding dessert, force feeding, reverse psychology, but nothing seems to work.

We even tried using Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious cookbook where she teaches parents to hide healthy food in their kids meals. That lasted about one bite. Mashed soon as our daughter took a bite she slammed down her fork and said "Oh Gross! Those have cauliflour in them!" (She actually was correct on that one).

The dinner time fun starts out about 30 minutes before dinner. Our children are "SOOO starving!" They are, in fact, so famished and weak from hunger that they are entirely incapable of setting the table or getting glasses of water for the family. Based on their ragged condition, we must be the meanest parents around, because it's pretty obvious, these kids never get fed and must be horribly neglected. But, as soon as dinner is served, apparently, just smelling the nanoparticles of food totally satisfies their emaciated little bodies, because, all of a sudden, they're "SOOO FULL" that they couldn't possibly eat a single bite!

Our 6 year old is the most dramatic. He has determined to subsist all summer long on peanut butter (spooned out of the jar) and cold cereal and nothing more.

The latest Fear Factor experiment we tried on them was cheese know, those really, REALLY disgusting pasta things with garlic and cheese in them? They are totally gross! Just saying "cheese tortellini" can make you lose your appetite for a week! My kids would rather eat live earthworms.

Our pragmatic 8-year old has resorted to holding her nose before she eats any of the disgusting raw cow intestines or live garden snails we try to feed her. Our son...well, he just grimaces and holds the food in his mouth until the little bits of squid tentacles cause him to gag. Want proof? Here is the photographic evidence:

Is that the saddest, most tortured little face you've ever seen? So, obviously, there are better parents out there than me. What do you do to get your kids to eat dinner?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Guest Writer #1 - The Chicken Story

This story comes from a friend of mine. I swear I didn't do this. This is a good example of when one mistake gets compounded by a series of poor decisions...
It has taken me almost a year to come to terms that that excruciating, nasty night. This is the 100% true and accurate account of The Garbage Can Story.
The door on our deep freeze was left open and all of the meat inside was rotten. It was mostly chicken, lots of chicken. My wife put the chicken in the garbage can the day after garbage day during the hottest part of summer. I was unaware of this and we went camping. When we came home the front of our house smelled so foul. Apparently one of the neighbors had noticed the stench and investigated because the lid to the garbage can was left open. The smell was so bad that I almost threw up trying to look inside of the can. The garbage can was full of flies. It was far too disgusting to clean up. The only thing that we could do was to wait for garbage day.
Garbage day finally came. I was relieved that we would finally be rid of the nasty, rotten chicken smell. When I got home from work the garbage can had been emptied, but the smell was still horrific. A Lysol commercial came to mind – killing 99.99% of the bacteria should do it. I ran to the store and bought two huge cans of Lysol. When I got home I opened the lid to the garbage can and started throwing up. I wrapped a t-shirt over my nose and mouth and finally could get close enough to spray inside the garbage can. I blew through both cans of Lysol. As I sprayed maggots fell off of the sides of the can. The can was covered in nasty chicken slime and maggots with inches of chicken slime in the bottom. I started throwing up and went inside. I threw up for 30 minutes. It was so disgusting.I went back outside and to my dismay the smell was even worse. I can’t explain it but the Lysol mixed with the nasty, rotten chicken was unbelievably disgusting. To this day, I can’t spray Lysol…
I went inside and told my wife that I was out of ideas. We brainstormed chemicals and decided to fill the garbage can with water and pour an entire bottle of bleach into it. That would kill the maggots, chicken slime, and hopefully the smell. Believe it or not our plan worked. Our front yard returned to normal. The nasty smell only lingered within about ten feet of the garbage can. I was embarrassed about what the neighbors thought after the stench from our yard and my only concern was dumping out the nasty chicken water.
I got home one night after a game night with the guys at about 4:00 AM. I noticed the garbage can as I was driving up the driveway and decided that it was the perfect time to empty it. My neighbors would be asleep at 4:00 AM. Our driveway was pretty steep. I knew that the garbage can full of water would be heavy but I had been going to the gym every day and I could handle it no problem.I started walking backwards down the hill with the garbage can above me.
Thinking back on this reminds me of my high school AP Physics teacher, Mr. Jackson, asking why I was so stupid compared to my genius brothers. I passed the AP test and showed him… As I started down the hill I was surprised by the momentum of the full garbage can. It took all of my strength to back down the hill. When I hit the steepest part of the driveway I began to pick up some pretty good speed. Water began to slosh out of the garbage can. For a split second I thought I was going to lose control. Then as I picked up speed I knew that if I ran backwards that I had the strength to keep the garbage can up and make it to the bottom.We shared a driveway entrance with our neighbors. They put a sealant on their driveway and the bottom few feet of our driveway. The sealant becomes like ice when it gets wet.
One instant I knew that I was going to make it to the bottom of the driveway. My feet hit the sloshed water on the sealed driveway. It was like someone pulled my ankles out from under me. The entire weight of the garbage can, full of water, slammed me to the ground. My knees crushed into the ground first. Then my elbows smashed into the ground. As the full garbage can hit the ground my hands and fingers were smashed with excruciating pain. It was like I was body slammed with hundreds of pounds of force. I vividly remember thinking that it was by far the worst thing that had ever happened to me. I had no idea how wrong I was.
The nasty, maggot, rotten chicken slime, Lysol, bleach water began to pour out of the garbage can. The nasty water went onto my hair, in my ears, and into my mouth. The nasty maggots and chicken slime that had made me throw up for 30 minutes only days earlier now poured over my entire body. I was pinned by the weight of the full garbage can, helpless. It was so disgusting, my clothes and hair were completely saturated with the nasty chicken bleach water. I was in excruciating pain. Then I got mad.
I threw the garbage can up the driveway and tore off my nasty, saturated clothes, screaming obscenities. I limped, completely naked, up the driveway and stormed inside. I gargled a whole bottle of Listerine – the taste would not go away. I showered for an hour, washing my hair 15 times. The smell would not go away. I disinfected my wounds fearing a strange rotten chicken disease. At 6:00 AM I gave up and went to bed.I washed my clothes 10 times, they still smelled nasty. I threw them away. My shoes smelled from 30 feet away. I threw them away. I didn’t take the garbage out for months. My hands, elbows, and knees broke out in a strange blistering eczema. My doctor wanted to know if I had been exposed to anything different, a new laundry detergent perhaps… I couldn’t tell him. I still struggle to eat chicken. Writing this story makes me want to throw up and take a shower. I hope that you have enjoyed my moment of excruciating misery.
There you have it...and if the door of your deep freeze is ever left open, do yourself a favor and plug it back in, put "quarantine" tape on it, re-freeze everything, then the night before garbage day, carefully load everything into the garbage can and wish it well in the landfill.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Joys of Children

Last week, Cameron Diaz made the news by telling Parade Magazine the following:

“I have an unbelievable life. In some ways, I have the life that I have because I don’t have children,”
Well, not that we should be too surprised by yet another Hollywood socialite acting selfishly, but I think Cameron is missing the point entirely! No offense to the Diaz fans, but as a parent, I have an unbelievable life BECAUSE I have children. All parents know about the basic joys...dirty diapers, crying in the middle of the night, etc. (and, so I'm told, kids will eventually outgrow these things...unlike dogs, who remain in a state like un-potty-trained children their whole lives). I want to share just a few of the many joys of parenthood that I encountered just today:
Exhibit A:
This is what our kitchen table looks like right now (no, it's not that way so the janitor can sweep under the table...this is not your elementary school):

The chairs now live on top of the table, because, if we leave them down for even five minutes, this is what happens:

So, while our cute baby child practices transforming herself into Sir Edmund Hillary, my wife and I thought it would be best if we kept her marginally safe. She's a good climber...not a great climber, so we're not going to risk her slipping off the top rung of the chair and dashing her head on the tile.

Exhibit B:

A few days ago, I took the ice chest out in the back yard to clean it and let it dry. When I came back, this is what I found:

The ice chest has been transformed into a treasure chest, with all of the precious articles that are important in a boys life. Parents will recognize the Roman breastplate, sword, Spiderman ball, Planet Hero's skateboard...and that little yellow thing is the spray nozzle I've been trying to find for a week now!

Exhibit C:

When I left for work, the side of the bed looked like this:
When I got home, it looked like this (and this is after my dear wife spent an hour cleaning our room):

Exhibit D:

All parents who are worth their salt will recognize this little guy. He's the 2 inch plastic (hard plastic) toy alien from Toy Story...incidentally, the other really great thing about being a parent is knowing every word to every Disney-Pixar and DreamWorks movie ever produced. Remember this guy? Here's a hint: "You have been chosen!" Well, this little guy, along with 23 of his identical-twin brothers somehow managed to make their way onto my master bathroom tile floor.

Now, late last night, when it was dark, this little army of cuties was the only thing standing between me and the bathroom...and let me also just say, it is no picnic to step on this little guy in bare feet in the dark in the middle of the night. I think I know how he got there though...

So, what are your favorite joys of children? Leave a mesage, because I have to go child is busy trying to eating a Crayola marker...and I think I have to change a poopy diaper.