Thursday, May 31, 2012

You Might Need Mental Bleach

"I know that Daddy. I'm going to have a baby when I'm six years old."

That was my daughter placating me and being clever by saying she is looking forward to getting older so she can have a baby. But not at age five. That would be ridiculous. She's going to wait until she's much older. I like how she picked one year older to make it perfectly normal. I thought about taking this opportunity to go on about traditional marriage - the real one where you can have multiple 12 year old wives that you've swapped for a goat. Instead I told her it was inappropriate. I couldn't leave it lie though. I told her that there are a few milestones she'll have to reach before any of that happens. She did ask what some of them were. So I told her she'd need to not only start wearing a watch, but also be able to to tell what time it is. Then from there she can begin to understand the concept of time and learn that it's hopefully going to be at least four times her age before she even thinks about the very idea of getting married five years after that. You know - after graduating university, being married for a bit and making sensible decisions about 401ks and paying off mortgage debt quickly.

To which she said "I'm going to have Bob and Tom's baby..." (names changed to protect the innocent). I don't care what kind of parent you are. You can have the purest mind imaginable. But when your not-even-five year old girl tells you she is going to be make a baby with two boys at school you can't help but have a terrifying day-mare that requires a mental bleaching. I managed the laughably poor, "I don't think you want to do that." Which just led to more questions - and suddenly I was in the position of justifying why she shouldn't enter into some sort of sperm-lottery with the two boys at school (one who claims to be a Power Ranger, and one who bizarrely told me once that he wasn't frightened of being at my house that one time). At some point in all this she asked me at what age I was when I had babies.

Instead this triggered some horrible memories that seem to be inexplicably attached like a human centipede (no Google, NOOOO!). I should point out that my memory of before I was thirteen is pretty much non-existent. It's all been blocked out (coincidentally I woke up in the middle of the night around that time and I knew what the meaning of life was. When I woke up again in the morning I'd forgotten what it was. I've been infuriated since). I'd like to think my brain did a memory-dump to make room for some amazingly useful information that would help me in life. But considering I can't remember how old I am the moment someone asks me - and then I have to work it out then that's probably not true.

Rapidly - like awful sordid dominoes - three memories came spilling out. First off was a memory about when my family lived on an RAF base in Hereford. I can't remember how old I was, but my memory pictured me as an 8 or 9 year old. The memory was my first blunt-faced awkward kiss with a girl who lived down the street. I don't remember her name or anything else - but the memory did involve some sort of torrid exchange involving her kissing me, and then me giving her some Star Wars figures and letting her play with my Millennium Falcon (which I really wish was a justifiable nickname I'd earned somehow). Weirdly years later when I was about 14 - and after moving to a small town in South Wales - a seemingly familiar girl who'd just moved to the school told everyone that she remembered me from years before, and that she was the first person I'd ever kissed. Worse -  that I'd, "let her play with Chewbacca" (not a nickname I would want at all). 

Immediately after this memory bounced off the mental-ground a completely unrelated one appeared. It was of me in my teens working a summer job at an insulation factory. All the regular employees were still there - but they hired young whippersnappers like us to be shoved into pipes to clean out hard-to-reach spaces that clearly people shouldn't be shoved into. On day one an old bloke (who in this memory looks like my old, thin, next door neighbor - accept with a huge white handlebar mustache) wandered over to the lunch table with all the young girls who'd started that day and asked if they liked sausage and chips - a plate of which he was holding in front of him. And there - in all it's glory - was a plate of hot chips with his wanger resting right in the middle of it. Apparently it was his party piece for any new women (or in this case - teenage girls) that were hired. I can imagine the absolute uproar that would erupt if that happened in modern Britain (let alone modern America) - but it was viewed back then as cheeky silliness.

As soon as that memory faded my brain raced to the stunningly poor decision I made when I was sixteen to lose my virginity to a girl I was dating at the time. I don't actually remember anything about it. Which actually helps in some ways to make me feel better about how colossally stupid it is to have sex when you're that young. But the memory that came flooding back now was me walking three miles home in this awful Liverpool away shirt that my then girlfriend has sullied with her virginal menstrual blood. People clearly thought I'd either been stabbed or been involved in some sort of murder where I'd humped someone to death. The memory involved me getting home and my mother asking what the hell had happened - and with me coming up with amazingly shit excuse that my girlfriend and I had been cooking with beef and I'd got some on me. No really - I told someone that and thought it was a good excuse.

That awful memory shot out of my head as my daughter (in the real world) asked me if she could have a watch for her birthday. I agreed because that sounds lovely. But then she muttered something about how she will show Bob and Tom the watch. Which made it seem very wrong. Like showing some blokes at work some fancy knickers you've got. That - for some odd reason - your Dad has bought for you so that you can find the right two guys to make babies with. All of which has pretty much clarified for me that consuming this much caffeine is deeply unhealthy. So I fumbled the whole thing by saying we'd have to wait and see - what with me needing to spend some money on a new lawnmower. Which is true, and led us both mentally to thinking about gardening and innocence and not about dowries and sexual beef blood.

Of course my daughter than got ready to go look at lawnmowers (which somehow also prompted her to announce she could buy a doughnut whilst I look them over). Which I am not about to do. I am not to be trusted with making sensitive purchases without the assistance of my wife. I often think that I have weighed up the pros and cons of a purchase like this. I've reviewed it all - I know I;m buying the right thing. Only to show my wife and have her explain to me in scathing language why it is a clearly a terrible pathetic choice. And I'm not being mean - for some reason I genuinely do believe I've done due diligence - only for the curtain to fall in my wife's presence and for me to look a colossal twat. So I'll think I've bought a good lawnmower only to get home to find - once in my wife's presence - that I've actually bought a dildo and have been wandering the back yard confused with it for ten minutes already.

This was most vividly demonstrated by me once years ago - at the beginning of my relationship with my wife - when I thought it would be a good idea to buy her some porn. I am well aware how silly that is now. At the time it made some kind of sense. I actually thought that might be a romantic thing to buy someone - especially someone with no interest at all in pornography. I actually studied pornography as part of a gender history degree in an academic fashion for my BA. Especially it's societal relationships with crime. Which really is a hundred million times less-sexy than I've made that sound. I'd wager that I have an automatically different stance on the whole thing than most people. I really am the last person on earth who should have thought it was a good idea. But for some reason I did. So what I did was read reviews of what were supposed to be nice, romantic porn-ish movies designed specifically for women. Yes - I know. After I'd deliberated, cogitated and digested a bunch of reviews - I bought one. When it arrived I put it in a cupboard for about three days still unsure if what I'd done was good or completely wrong. Eventually I told her I'd bought her something - without explaining it but very vaguely dancing around the fact that I'd bought a porn for women. she slightly withdrew into the couch - braced for whatever was coming - probably terrified that she was about to be confronted with some very firm proof that all men - no matter how nice they claim to be during a wedding vow - are actually criminally ill.

That DVD was the scariest thing I've ever seen. We both sat there waiting for whatever it was to happen. Then - and I'm not making this up at all - a woman with one bionic metal arm began to tell dirty stories to a green decaying alien being kept alive in an iron lung. I'm deadly serious. I had to talk myself out of that. I don't care what challenges you've had in your relationships - you've never been through anything like that. And here we are - a decade later - and my wife seems to think I'm not only capable of looking after two children, but that I'm ready to go off and spend lots of money on a lawnmower. So who's really the mental one here?

(It's me. I thought I should clear that up for anyone not reading this properly)

The Impending Doom

"I made you an I Love You Octopus Daddy."

This morning has been emotional. Actually to emphasize my pathetic first-world problems - I haven't really had any respite from wall-to-wall kids since before my wife went to New Orleans for a week on the 21st.  So I'm getting tetchy. Very tetchy. Yesterday afternoon can be pretty much summed up by me starring angrily at my kids while they deliberately ignored me telling them not to batter each other with blunt objects. It didn't start out that way. When I picked my daughter up from school we zoomed over to buy some ground beef (that's mince to you British people) to make meatballs with. During which time my kids were lovely. My son drove his racecar cart like he thought he was Jean Alesi - throwing the wheel around and slamming from side to side. My daughter declared this -:

Daughter: Daddy - people should call them cow balls instead of meatballs. People would like them more if they were cow balls.
Me: I'm not sure that would be as successful as you'd think. Maybe Beef Blobs?
Daughter: No - that sounds weird. I like cow balls a lot more.

This morning I've settled on Moo Mumps. Someone would probably sue for not getting the mumps that they assumed they would get from them though - so maybe scrub that idea. Anyhoo -  me being me I couldn't stomach the idea of paying that much money for that little amount of mass-produced beef and bailed on the idea. Which set the kids off on a grumpy tirade about how they never get anything they want. I should point out that they continued this at home whilst finishing off a milkshake we'd bought the day before. I certainly pointed it out to them. My daughter then cried like I'd just run over a puppy because I hadn't bought meatballs. I firmly came down on that and said it was not happening. It seemed to work for about ten minutes. I was wrong. Because after that there was an awful lot of that annoying bollocks where someone does something they know is wrong - gets hurt (but not really) - comes crying to me about the massive injustice of it all (whilst wildly exaggerating about how the other child jumped them whilst they were doing a bible-study, without any warning and beat them with metal pipe) - I give limited sympathy and eventually give up on actually perpetuating the whole thing - chide the other child for now getting angry because the other one got Daddy to believe they had been attacked - and then watch as both kids go back to violently smashing their way around the house trying to bludgeon each other with a train/drum stick/electronic kitchen thermometer. At least - I thought - my wife would be home soon. Then she called 45 minutes after she could get home to let me know she'd be home at least an hour later. At which point I sat my kids down for dinner - which they recoiled in anger at because it was a salad, and I had requested that they didn't just rub their fists in the Ranch dressing and lick it. Which they then did - and I angrily grunted about. Then I made them take a bath so I could throw bubbles at them with vehement force without any danger that anyone would be hurt. Thankfully by the time the wife got home they'd calmed down - as had I - and they went to bed mostly without fuss. 

I personally think I should have been congratulated for not snapping and murdering everyone. Annoyingly they don't give awards for things like that. But they should - if millionaire actors can get an award and have people fawning all over them for pretending to be someone much smarter and more interesting, then surely I should have a plinth erected somewhere with a tribute to my will power. Instead all I get when I tell other parents at school that I've decided to spare my family are suspicious looks. It's just another example of hypocrisy.

Thankfully this morning we've all continued the trend. After getting back from a lovely morning run (nothing quite like a run on garbage day) at 5.45 my children were awake and ready to begin a day of complaining that their magnificent lives aren't different. My daughter quickly came downstairs and moaned that it was cold. I offered the solutions of blankets or getting dressed but then that would deprive her of the chance to lie on the ground and complain some more. She did it quietly though. My son didn't go the same route. Instead he howled like the first Fantomas album (you really need to click that link) that his mother start her day. She calmly put him on the toilet - which enraged him even more. Then she tried to get him dressed-  which he violently squealed about as if it violated all kinds of UN resolutions. Twenty minutes later he was angrily shuffling around the kitchen growling at his mother and sister who were eating cereal. Not him though - the very idea that he could eat made him lash out. Eventually he let me pick him up - but woe betide me going near my coffee cup. He literally tried to kick it out of my hand simply because that meant I wasn't entirely focused on his demonstration of annoyance. I took this opportunity to lash out at the next person to annoy me as well - which was my wife asking if I wanted to meet her for lunch at a farmers market. I managed to turn that into a lecture to her on how she doesn't answer questions about whether she wants left over curry taken out of the fridge. "That fucking well showed her" I seemed to think at the time.

After the wife left I am happy to say they children's torch-paper emotions have dampened somewhat. Mine too. Although it does seem to have been a mistake to chug four cups of coffee and nosh two apples. That's my entire morning's quota of Arsehole Fuel gone in 90 minutes. Thankfully I've moved on to nibbling handfuls of chocolate covered coffee beans. That will calm me down surely. My daughter even made a nice picture of an octopus for me that she called a Love Octopus (possibly a Led Zeppelin/Vanilla Fudge reference there) for me. Granted two minutes later she decided it was for someone else, but whatever. Since then both my kids have channeled their loud, screeching hyena-barks into pretending to be terrified of everything. They had both requested Breakfast Two (tentatively titled, "More Carbohydrates NOW) of toast for one and a bagel with cream cheese for the other. By the time those came out of the toaster they were running around the house screaming like the second Fantomas album (marvelous stuff) because, a) my son was going to be getting scream cheese, and b) my daughter said that someone had put toes in toes-ster.

Balls - fifth cup of coffee coming up.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Underpants Are Extremely Manly

"Daddy - I can poo in a book bag."

She said that right before I checked her book bag was ready for school. I shook it slowly to see if it was off-weight or anything like that. I'm not positive that I could identify if a bag that didn't normally have a poo in it did. But I jiggled it anyway. Then I flatly asked her, 'did you poo in this bag?" She said no - but she didn't look horrified about the suggestion. She looked like she was picturing it in her head so that she could figure out why on earth I was asking her that. "You said you could poo in a book bag...." I feebly said. To which she explained that when she's already wearing her bag she can still sit on the toilet and poo. In other words she thinks it was an achievement worth boasting about. It'd be an interesting scout badge, I'll give it that.  

Also earlier when I was in the bathroom (no book bag, for anyone wondering) I think my son read the earlier blog entry about the magical gay soap his sister is protecting him from. Because for good portions of the morning he's been proudly mincing about the house in various extravagant outfits. First he whined hysterically that he couldn't keep on a Mardi Gras mask on his sister got as a present from New Orleans. Then he wanted to wear the black velvet dress that his sister had just taken off when we walked over to the auto-mechanics to pick up my car. I said no - he made a noise like a moose doing a Glaswegian accent for five minutes. Then, after he'd calmed down, I told him to go get his shoes on. He put these on -:

I'm actually sort of proud to say that they suit him quite well actually. And yes - I did consider whacking the black velvet dress on him and taking that photo, but didn't purely (and really - it was the only reason) because it would be annoying to explain to his sister why he was allowed to wear a dress that she'd just been made to take off. I did make him put his regular shoes on though.

Before we left I told my kids that to a point they can wear whatever they want - but on occasion I would like them to wear whatever I throw at them just so we can get on with the day. My daughter then said boys shouldn't wear dresses or dancing shoes, and that she won't wear my underpants - presumably the most manly item of clothing she could think of. I quickly Googled and showed them an example of what I think would be unacceptable to wear to a mechanics garage.

As yo ucan imagine that was a catastrophic thing to do and my daughter thinks that's actually a really good outfit for us all to wear. But I fobbed her off by saying you have to make them and we don't have time. I hope she forgets about them or she might be waiting for her mother to make them at some point.

On the way over to get the car the weather turned a little sour, and my daughter asked if we were going to make it in time before we got struck by lightning. This was because yesterday we had a very loud and very local lightning and thunder storm. During which time she taught me that -:

- Lightning is best friends with Thunder. Who is also friends with Dr. Bonk.
- Because lightning hits the highest things it will either hit the Moon, or my bottom (specifically mine) if I lie on the ground - what with it's rotund buoyancy poking it high into the air.
- That we would need a candle soon to see on the road - at 10.30 am - because the power would go out (do people even buy candles any more as lighting? Seems like the next big push to prevent wasting electricity could center around candles - except if they had no smell I'm sure kids today would complain that they didn't work properly) .
- Lightning is actually God dropping lemonade. Thunder is God's stomach rumbling.
- That Bananaman wouldn't be scared at all by lightning at all - "not even if it burned his banana." I suggested perching Bananaman's banana on my exceptionally high bottom to protect me - but she said he wouldn't give the likes of me his banana. She seemed quite confident about that as well.

Anyhoo - we didn't die from lightning. And not due to any banana strategism. Which I'm told is the worst kind of gism known to man.

Dipped In Gravy

"Why don't you like smelling Irish Daddy?"

You can picture it now. There I am after a long night out - disheveled. Caked in last night's kebab. Reeking of spilled Murphy's and Beamish-tinged vomit. And - because my Irish smells stereotypes only extend so far - also smelling slightly of tweed and horses. Admittedly most of this is based upon a housemate of mine named Kieran who spent his entire day drinking, talking about horses and proudly wearing a variety of tweed waistcoats. That man spent an inordinate amount of time polishing a pair of riding boots - without even the slightest hint ever being given that he actually owned a horse.

Anyway - this all stems from my daughter asking me why I would want to smell like Irish Spring. And for that matter - what on earth that smell would be. I told I bought it because I'm cheap. She said that my soap - being green - is filled with broccoli and grass. I bet someone makes that. I hilariously claimed that it was actually made using the love juice of Kermit the frog. She gave me a blank look that told me she will forget this entirely until sat in school one day - at which point she will declare to all the teachers present that I bathe in Kermit's sperm. My daughter has soaps that smell like coconut and oatmeal. Which she thinks, "sound tasty" - and make her smell like a really good cookie. It doesn't help that whenever we are out buying new soap my wife will ask, "what flavor shall I get?" I have no idea why this bothers me so much - but it does lead me to believe that one day one of us is going to have to drink it simply to justify the ridiculousness of my wife and kids calling it a flavor.

It should be noted though that I bought the middle-cheap soap that wasn't in a grey Soviet-style bottle marked, "abrasive cleanser" last time I needed some. And when I bought a new one an Old Spice one was on sale - so I got that. I'm not betrothed to a brand at all. But my daughter being analytical like her mother now believes that either I don't like the Irish one (as if I were making some sort of political statement) or that I want to smell like the new one more. I want to smell clean for a relatively low price. Frankly if I could have any scent it would be gravy. And I mean the real stuff - not the scary white one made from wallpaper paste that covers up the flavor of cheap nasty breakfast sausages. Possibly that smell puppies have - that's quite nice. Or maybe Konnie Huq.

My son is all about the process. He now sees that you should wash with stuff until bubbles appear - and then rinse them off. So he stands there protruding his belly outwards like it's massively bloated - suggesting that he wants someone to rub the soap on him so he can go to town scrubbing. And my daughter - seemingly attacked with gender-specific crap all day long from somewhere/someone when I'm not around - believes that he should use the man soap I have. For awhile she was fine with him smelling of cookies and coconuts - but is weird about it now and again. It has to be some sort of Michele Bachmannesque thinking where if you rub on enough lady-flavored soaps the gay smells will infiltrate your skin and turn you into a boy-lady.And what with his propensity for dancing and brushing his hair it may be too late. I'll have to make up some sort of gunpowder-and-steaks soap (with a hint of chewing tobacco) to bring him back to stereotypical American manliness. I'll have to teach him some off-the-cuff statements to about how his woman won't earn more money than him as well. Oh - and some general dialogue about snow blower preferences to really overpower the lady-soap power that has affected him.

 Hold on - Konnie Huq in a hot tub of gravy. Oh that's nice.....

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dodo Bean and The Hyperthermic Testicle Wagon

"No Daddy - that's not a turtle. That's fox poop."

I still maintain it's a turtle. My little girl may think she has drawn our dog after he's rolled in feces, but I know a turtle when I'm looking at one. Here - judge for yourselves.

I know that's not my dog because look at his little face. Look at the way he's looking at himself - ashamed of the imaginary fox feces smeared all over his body. My dog would never be ashamed of that. He knows no shame. He'd be delighted with himself and more than happy to have a go at rubbing it all over your leg/the couch/the carpet. In the end I told her we would agree that it was the released turtle-heads of a fox. She nodded. Then said no. But I said yes. But very quietly so she couldn't hear me - therefore I win. And if she also said something very quietly right after that it doesn't count. I'm still the winner.

Bug Ear

Also in the realm of odd statements was my daughter's very random declaration this morning that, "Daddy - I don't like tiny criminals." I was washing dishes and she was sat in the living room with her brother and a toy alligator. Then she just wandered in - clearly with that on her mind - to make sure we were all on the same page. I had headphones on so I don't know for sure if she told her brother first. Probably did. Anyhoo - I didn't get a chance to investigate any further as she went upstairs to try on summer dresses. So I made a mental note never to watch Time Bandits until I'd looked into this further and carried on cleaning the kitchen.

She's also taken to calling me Dodo Bean. Which is cute and pretty specific. It's also a little less odd (for other people - I don't give a shit) than standing in line at the grocery store this morning and her calling out loudly, "Captain Cheesestick - are we going to the playground now?" Especially as I whispered (in that way that is much louder than speaking at normal volume) that she's going to give my secret identity away to everyone in the store - so she put her sunglasses and her hat on me as a disguise. I then loudly whispered that I should remember to sign my Daddy name for our groceries and not Captain Cheesestick. She found that idea of nearly revealing ourselves as quite hilarious. She then told the cashier that we were going outside to our rocket ship, quickly followed by, "erm.....I mean our car......(snigger)"

It's at times like these that I am especially careful to pronounce words in posh-man English. Not just because doing so automatically makes all Americans think they are in the presence of a PhD English professor traveling the world - who has inexplicably stopped at a grocery store in the middle of central NY state to buy Half & Half and meatballs. Or that you can talk about anything in posh English to people around here and they think it's very clever and foreign - when really it's inane bollocks. But also because I'm aware that employing an American accent means soft letter T's that sound like letter D's, and a slight delay of emphasis on syllables. Ergo it would be me, two kids in a race-car grocery cart and six bystanders wondering why I've chosen to declare to all and sundry that they are all in the presence of Captain Cheese Dick.

Who - by the way - has been awarded a brand new sidecake (for those with short memories or delivered here by a Google search for something awful about porcine foot-sex or the like - that's how my daughter pronounces "sidekick"). Who also has an ingenious disguise. My daughter says that I am now aided in my misadventures by Clifford The Small Blue Dog. His being small and blue being the disguise. You may recognize him from the video from yesterday of my son and his horse-plums thrusting up and down(it's okay - the inflatable ball has horses on it - I'm not being mental). I told my daughter that this Clifford appears to be frozen solid. She says that's because he lives outside. Which is where I'm off now - I promised the kids time to splash in a pool full of water and three-day-old grass clippings, so that's what they are gonna get. In the meantime - this is Captain Cheese Dick and Clifford The Hyperthermic Testicle Wagon signing out.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hump The Dog

"Actually honey he's being very, VERY nice."

One of my general rules in life is that my dog's strangely pink willy is not to be used within the vicinity of my kids. I haven't written this rule down or anything. It's a general catch-all mental decision on my part. Firstly - if he's perversely grinding away on another dog then I'm going to have to explain it - and I don't want to. Secondly he tends to get stuck. Not in the other dog - it's not like a Chinese finger trap. He gets (as our family has sadly come to term it - meaning it happens frequently enough to warrant a name) "stuck in a hump" with his back curled at it's most extreme humping-arc - completely unable to return back to normal. He may look like a cute little thing - but doubled-over like that with his frightening canine-saveloy shamefully pointing at his attempted conquest removes any hint of cuteness. I've been called cute by some - but if I stood like that with same glowing shame-stick wagging about I'd lose that sense of innocent charm as well (please don't request photos - I'm all out).

Thirdly though - it also drives a wedge between parent and child. Because apparently stopping a dog from humping your child is mean. Especially when it's your own dog and your own child. My daughter (from this point referred to as, "the humpee") thought that her dog (the, "humper") was being friendly and hugging her. My son thought it was hilarious. I tried to stop the whole shameful episode but neither the kids nor the dog cared very much about my protests. Eventually I probed my wife (steady now...) into action and pointed out to her what our deviant little shit (the dog, not the daughter - although this is often interchangeable) was up to. So she scolded the dog - who doesn't know better - before being counter-scolded by our daughter for stopping the whole thing. "He's actually being mean..." my wife weakly claimed. Cue furrowed brow and adamant refusal by our daughter. "No he isn't - he's hugging me." So I chimed in with the, "actually honey he's being very, VERY nice." I mentally patted myself on the back for not making a disparaging remark about how it's probably more acceptable in the North Country. I'd find that funny - but considering how holier-than-thou dogs are considered up in the conservative north it'd be akin to waltzing into a big group of Americans solemnly stood in silence at the end of a Memorial Day parade - slathering away on a bun filled with dark, dripping meat - and exclaiming, ".....oh man.....this is amazing.....have you ever tried horse?"

Still - I sensed this may have been my fault all along, as I've been encouraging my kids to play amusing games where we have a hero and a bad guy. The hero always has a perfectly normal hero name - like Captain Cheesestick or Super Kitten. But the bad guy has a name like The Slapper - who's weapon of evil is slapping. I took great pride in watching my daughter bellow a warning that her brother is a slapper and is after us. I even managed to get her to call him, "a dirty slapper" after pointing out his feet were dirty. But alas in hindsight that may have contributed somewhat to them both thinking the dog humping them is perfectly okay. Which it isn't. At least not in my home.

After returning from the in-laws (where the Humpathon took place) my kids and I spent all of our time yesterday outside. My kids splashed about in a shitty inflatable pool while I was bitten by bugs and muttered obscenities at a broken weed-whacker. I also had to explain to my son - who was horrified by the entire thing - why there were clothes outside hanging off a washing line. It's warm enough and dry enough for that - but he doesn't have any memory of clothes outside. Especially not his own - that in his mind seem to have been stolen by the squirrels who are taunting him with them by dangling them just out of his reach. So I told him it's how you can dry clothes for a period of the year - and that yes, it is weird in the US where most people chuck it all in the dryer no matter what the weather is. Then I quickly explained that in some places in the US the town doesn't actually allow you dry clothes outside - as it's unseemly and ugly to some people. Frankly that blows my mind but it's true. But then I've heard stories from people where someone has shown up at their house to tell them that they aren't allowed to have certain things on their lawn (in this case big huge boulders) as the town association has outlawed them. It's not lost on me that for all the "Freedom" that some people like to blather on about, they really mean that they have the freedom to impose whatever pish they believe in on other people.

My daughter kept arguing with me that hanging the clothes up won't work - because in the dryer they're all in a pile. I mistakenly imitated a dryer by saying they were all balled up in a barrel - so that they would be shaken about - with a pipe blowing hot air all over them. I say mistakenly because I amusingly pointed out that, "unless you're going to roll in them and toot all over the clothes for an hour then this is a much better, cheaper way of doing it." She clearly considered the first option and even sat on my t-shirt (casually laying socks and underpants over her shoulders like laying streaks of bacon in a frying pan) to try out some sort of maneuver that she was thinking of. Instead I just pegged all the clothes up. I took this opportunity to make an important point about the neighbors and my kid's underpants.

Me: And this is the only way that it's okay for the neighbors to see your underpants, okay kids?
Daughter: Unless they buy some off me Daddy.
Me: Well that goes without saying, honey.

I think she's referring to a mythical potential garage sale that she has been urging us to have (at which she seems to think she can sell her underpants that are too small now - what does she think this is - the north country?). I dunno though - she does have an awful lot of money in her piggy bank. She must be earning it somehow.

Anyhoo - here's a snapshot of life yesterday at Case de Herpes (I might reconsider the name).

My son was bored of the pool by that point. Instead he really wanted to sit and bounce on things. So here's my son's best Buster Gonad impersonation.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Realization

Lat night, whilst tucked up cozily in bed, an enormous marshmallow porcupine with the face of Keith Chegwin came into my house in search of it's primary food source - pubic dandruff. Once inside it rampaged about the kitchen smashing crockery, gorging itself on the abnormal quantities of dried beans we have in the cupboard, and all the while singing the seminal 1998 gay club hard-house dance hit Twisted by Wayne G. After plucking up the courage to go downstairs and confront the beast (obviously at first ensuring I was not littered with pubic dandruff lest I drive it insane with ravenous hunger) I wandered down armed with a crossbow and wearing one of my wife's negliges (not as a disguise - but purely for comfort).

Upon entering the kitchen I discovered the beast wearing one of those naff hypercolor t-shirts popular in the early 90s. Those ones that changed color when you got sweaty - principally letting everyone around you know that either you've spilled something very suspect on your body or are just this color gross. Stacked in front of the beast was a pyramid of captured squirrels - like some sort of horribly disturbing walnut-scented Razzle pile-up. With no concern for my own safety I ran screaming into the room and surprised the monster. As I was about to fire a crossbow bolt dipped in Moosehead (known to be deadly to all Chegwin-faced monsters) the behemoth quickly announced that it had come to deliver two truth's so terrifying that they will rock the very fabric of what is Truth in Western civilization. Curious I listened closely.

The first Truth was that the entire film Capricorn One was actually filmed on the Moon. Oh the irony. The second Truth was that massively shit mockumentary Ghostwatch from 1991 was actually a snuff-film recording of Sarah Greene being killed on live television by Pipes, the pedo-poltergeist. Upon delivering this almighty knowledge the Chegwin-Beast told me that to gauge whether I am indeed The Chosen One - destined to disseminate this news to the world and then be elevated as the savior of Western civilization . To do this he offered me one of two choices. Either I could take the knowledge to my local news team (I assume I would have to persuade them that the inevitable overnight car crash and hyped-up impending megadeath-storm warranted being bumped) to reveal these truths to the world and claim my position and responsibilities as a modern messiah. Or I could keep quiet - bribed by an evening of slap and tickle with Christina Hendricks, Nigella Lawson and Lucy Porter.

You may have gauged at this point (one would hope) that none of this happened (admittedly I may have Googled images of some of the people named at the end). Anyway - the point of all this is that I was disturbingly led to an old blog entry on here from nearly a year ago (this one) after doing a Google search for some random silliness that entered my head for no good reason. And - like an arrogant voyeur I figured I'd have a read to see what kind of crap I used to write about. Then I read a few entries before and after. Ironically at the same time I was listening to Charlie Brooker's Newswipe on Youtube and he goes off one about how annoying it is that the news has now become less about facts and all about how people emotively react to one overblown aspect of a story. That all confirmed that this blog used to be a lot more random and esoteric, but now often meanders into a "what we got up to on our Summer holidays" book report style of thing - with a few knob gags and mentions of what kind of poo my son has had lately thrown in for chuckles. I'm often made very aware that I am - in a blunt Charlie Brookerisms - one of those boring twats who thinks anyone gives a toss about photos and videos of y kids entirely in context. I'm also more acutely aware that if I am offered the chance to click something to see a photo or video of someone else's kids that I'll close that website immediately. Because in it's context it's quite dull. I can't stand "user-generated-content" and at least once a week I'm aware that I have crafted an entire blog that seems to be veering toward it. Worse than that I can't stand those parent blogs where children are either presented as little demonic terrors destroying their parent's lives as massive millstones that they don't really want, or the greatest humans ever born who literally have the sun shining out of their arses.

I like the old style much better. I like random and weird. I've often prided myself on convincing people that they know things about me or have some idea what my opinions on things are. When really they just know some inane random bollocks that I mentioned about a subject and some of the viewpoints that other people have on a topic - but none of my own. Oddly this blog has begun to meander toward a middle ground of me commenting on shit my kids did and whether I think it was weird or not. All of which is to say I'll try to be less, "oh and then we had some soup - which my daughter calls, "poop" which is funnyish - and then we my son said something hilarious - it's almost as if he's got the brain of a two year old." And I'll start going back to the old way - which is building on things that have happened/I thought about and building upon them until I've hit some sort of tenuously related silliness that I just happen to think is funny. Because ultimately that's more interesting to write about and presumably more interesting to read. The ultimate test being - if this blog were a movie it would have been funny and interesting, whereas now it's more interesting and funny as long as you read the first part. I'd rather watch the earlier movie anyway. (To hammer home the point I write this entire post after deleting a boring video entry about how my son appears to be quite good at football).

And if anyone does ever makes a movie about my life I hope it doesn't involve Werner Herzog in any way. Because that means it'll end with me being eaten by my children. And probably soundtracked by professional complainer Eddie Vedder doing some third-rate whining on a ukelele.Although if it is possible to make choices now, I'd like my wife in the movie to be played by Christina Hendricks, Nigella Lawson and Lucy Porter.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Licking Strangers

My son licked a stranger today.

Sixty percent of the time if a familiar face - let alone a stranger - talks to my son he'll grasp just that little bit tighter to me and maybe put his head on my shoulder. If, however, we go out early in the morning you can't shut him up. I think the slightly shy way he behaves is the real him. The closer to the time when he might nap and the less sociable he is. But I think I've figured it out. Every single time I loads the kids (this time just my son - his sister scooted off to stay with her grandparents yesterday afternoon for a few days) in the car I realize I've forgotten something. So I zoom back into the house and grab it. By the time I come back the kids are usually laughing, screaming in delight and making hilarious faces at each other. Quite clearly one of them has hidden an illicit substance in their car seats that they have a bump of when I go back in the house.

All of which might help explain why my son licked a strange old Trinidadian lady this morning. At the Salvation Army. And quite frankly - if you are going to lick people you've never met before then that's the place to do it. I'd gone there to see if they had any decent t-shirts for my son. They're 99 cents usually. And I like getting there around 9am when it opens on the very slim off chance that they've got a bunch of Thomas the Tank Engine trains at the back that someone donated (they didn't). And before everyone else shows up. If you go on a Saturday it's like going to JC Penney on Boxing Day. It's mental. But at 9am it's usually me, someone clearly buying stuff to resell at one of those weird consignment/antique stores and a handful of other people. This morning it was me along with a guy who had bought a wicker chair, a cart-load of vinyl (with an Edith Piaf one on top - to be listened to with some cognac and a whole pack of Gauloises, one hopes) and what appeared to be an electronic drum pad. Quite an afternoon planned there.

Also in the store was a nice smiley big-round black woman with one of those awesomely bright head scarves that identify the owner as unquestioningly being from the Caribbean. Being the morning my son was all chatty and waving at this nice lady when we passed her in the kids clothing section. She said hello and asked him what his name was. He said, "Mommy's coming home" (which he's said every five minutes all morning long so far - he's told the librarian and the cashier at the Salvation Army that as well) gave it to her and she asked me what it really was. So I told her. Being a non-American she could tell I wasn't a septic so she asked where we were from. I said England and she said half her family lives in Wimbledon. Then she said she was from Trinidad and I pulled out my two trump cards for everyone I've met in the US from there - mentioning Dwight Yorke and Brain Lara. It's not a big country - and experience has told me that anyone who is anyone in Trinidad either lives right near one of them, or is best mates with their parents. Seems to be that way anyway.

It was during a conversation where I moaned about not having fresh fish or good curry available that my son leaned out of his shopping cart seat and cheekily licked her. The woman then told me that, "you've got a wild one." Then she made a jokey remark that it was likely to be the last time that day she was going to get into any similar kind of situation. It quickly answered a lot of questions about what kind of a parent I am anyway. I didn't become embarrassed or annoyed. Instead I made some pithy comment about how she was lucky - firstly because my son hasn't eaten yet, and secondly because my son usually charges for things like that. The woman laughed so loud that when I was checking out the cashier asked what we'd been getting up to. So I just told her my son licked that other lady. No other context or further explanation - just that.

I bet it won't be the lat time I say he's done that either.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Giggler

At O-School today I trained my son in martial arts. All in preparation for the absurd TV show that is to hit our screens in a few weeks - American Ninja Warrior (and no - I am not making that up. At the moment it's a very one-sided issue. But I do genuinely fear he will end up with a canny mix of his mother's genes (being six foot two like all the men on her side, and suspiciously healthy all the time) and my family genes (big ears, ginger and very bad at singing). As long as he has my dancing genes he'll be a winner.

As you can see Sensei (that's what he calls me) won this battle. But it's a losing war from this point on, I fear.

In A Trance

Two things.

1) I am in dire need of a shave.
2) My kids apparently throw raves when they think I'm doing the dishes.

Weight On Her Mind

"I'm just sad because I'm not 40..."

My daughter cried this morning because she isn't fat enough. Actually I should say not heavy enough. But then when I explained to my daughter that in no time at all she'd be heavier purely just by growing she figured out if she as fatter then she'd weigh more. So then she cried because she isn't fatter. She wants to weigh more because once you get to 40 pounds (she's 38ish) you can use a booster and a regular seat belt instead of a  car-seat. She then told me that two of the kids in her class have been boasting about winning the race to a booster seat. The one kid has been in one since before he was four. And judging by the look of him (he is easily twice as big as any other kid in the class) I'm not surprised by that.

I then started telling her it is patently ridiculous for a not-even five year old to be emotionally invested about weight - whichever way it went. And that it was even weirder for someone to be complaining about it by saying they wish they were 40. I tried to explain to her why that was funny. She doesn't really get it though. I then told her the ironic twist on an old saying that I made up that goes, "Fact: Outside every thin woman a fat man is trying to get in." Nothing. So instead we dressed up the pillows in my bedroom in my t-shirts. That was fun until it got all weird when my daughter started lying on top of them and yelling, "ooh la la" in a violent manner and then ninja chopping the pillows. I have absolutely no idea where she has got that from. I'm going to have to figure out where the weird Frenchman that has taught her this is hiding.

All this weight silliness became even more ridiculous at the grocery store early this morning when my daughter told me she was upset because she definitely didn't want a doughnut, but probably should struggle through eating one so she could be heavier. She then started wondering what foods she could eat to be heavier. To her credit she then listed half the cack that the kids get at snack time at school. Top of the list were animal crackers. Then she Then she hilariously listed coffee. I told her I drink coffee all the live long day and she looked very confused. Then she came up with what can be the only plausible reason for whatever had caused her to say coffee and looked pleased. So I asked her what she was on about. At which point she told me, "Mr's O at school says that she's only fat because she drinks coffee in the mornings and puts cream in it." Quite why a teacher would bring that up to four and five year old kids is anyone's guess. Then my daughter helpfully said, "I'll tell her next time I see her that she should drink your coffee Daddy - the one that doesn't make people fat." That conversation will go well.

Speaking of which - time for some French Vanilla.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Amorous Kangaroo

"She went to The Moon, Owen!!!"

My daughter understands maps. She plays with them all the time. And at school yesterday they played with a globe. She has a basic understanding of distance and travel and things like that. She's been as far as Maine, Maryland, and Michigan (The Three M's) and a whole host of places in between by car - and wondered why anybody would whilst doing it. She knows that she has flown across the Atlantic and used to live in another country - indeed was born there. She certainly understands what an airplane is and the concept of that.

Which is why I'm certain that she is completely taking the piss by repeatedly telling her brother that, "Mommy went to the Moon!" Actually that's not quite accurate. Firstly she says, "Mommy went on a trip!!" and then they both run around dementedly as if they've just learned that a live kangaroo has just been released into our house somewhere. Then she makes some general comment about her going far away before saying that she went to the Moon. This is partly my fault. She had asked me where her mother had gone so she could explain to her brother on a map where it was, and so that she could tell her school teacher. So I got out her play map (it's this one) and showed them. Bizarrely my daughter then began pronouncing New Orleans in that not-at-all accurate way that British news reporters do, instead of the way most Americans I know do. So with the Orleans part sounding like, "beans" rather than like, "buns."

Then I went into how their mother went on an airplane and all that stuff. I even grabbed my son's toy airplane from her last trip to Vegas - at which point he seemed to peer through the windows of it to see if she was still in there. They've seen footage on television lots of times of airplanes. But I figured I'd just get one up on Youtube and sit them down and show them an airport, the flying in the plane part and some thing about New Orleans so they can feel some sort of fellowship with their mother about it. After making some wildly silly comment about how there's probably some bloke in the CIA who's little red alert light has just gone off that a foreigner is watching airport videos, we got on with it. We looked for the vague "explaining airports to kids" and the first video offered was this one titled, "TSA Fondles Women and Children Refusing Airport Naked Body Scanners" from some pillock warning that the US government (now that it's run by evil Democrats) is planning to abuse the fear of terrorism to fondle little girls at baseball games. After a few more searches we mostly turned up iPhone recordings of either fights, near-nakedness, snakes on a plane or how the Denver airport is a secret underground military base (DUMB - I'm not kidding). then we ended up watching some bland stuff about people going to Syracuse airport and some related footage about being on a plane. Somehow we watched ended up watching a short clip of that overly camp Scottish airport sitcom The High Life with Alan Cummings in it which gave me the chance to explain that Mommy and Daddy know a Scottish professor back in Bath with the same last name, and who looks eerily similar to Alan Cummings - and if we try very hard maybe we can get him to do the dance at the beginning of the show.

Then I could see they really were getting bored so somehow we rolled through a quick clip from The Wombles before ending up on this -:

Yes, that is Button Moon. My daughter could not identify that the button was supposed to be a planet, so I had to tell her. Then that laughably shit spaceship wobbles into shot and I had to explain that it was a rocket ship. Even more unimpressed I used my skills as a Dad to ask (in that gasping it-can't-be-true! voice) if maybe their mother had accidentally got on a rocket ship instead of an airplane and was on her way to the Moon right now! Cue my kids running around screaming as if the kangaroo was definitely in the house, and was rumored to now be quite sexually aggressive as well. My daughter then pretty much repeated that her mother had accidentally gone to the Moon from that point on.

Anyhoo - they pretty much just repeated that until after lunch. And to show you the general theme of that here is my kid's interpretation at lunch of how launch went.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Random Blather

Here are some things I'd thought about writing about over the weekend - all melded into one unrelated soup.

- I am missing back home a bit right now. Mostly I'm missing sausages, walking the dog down by the River Avon, the general attitude that everything is worth taking the piss out of, seeing people being mercilessly judged in Sainsbury's for not having their own hessian bag and asking for plastic ones, taking walks up to Clifton for metaphysical and spiritual renewal, and sitting about in Bristol city center watching people float by munching on pasties and trays of gravy and chips. Oh how long it's been since I've seen a wild rabble of pigeons mercilessly attack a dropped pastie.

- I was talking with someone last Friday and they did that thing where they asked me if I'd had my hair cut. I say thing because I see them maybe twice a month - so you can pretty much ask that question every other time you see someone. Anyway - I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to proudly boast about both my family's cheapness and my wife's abilities. So I told this young woman that I had at some point and that my wife cuts the hair of all the men in my family (it extends up to Grandpa too). She then gave my hair the once over and said, ".....yeah it looks......she did a good job." Which meant she thought it looked bad. Here - this is the latest photo of my own head (and my son wet after a shower and in his PJs) -:

That's alright isn't it? It looks like a real haircut. More importantly though I have now trapped myself in my own cheapness, because every single price for getting my hair cut now seems insane. $12 for a haircut is infinitely more painful than free. And I don't have to tip my wife. Or say things in an English accent while answering questions about whether I've meet the Queen, James Bond - or answer questions about whether we have things like computers or telephones in England (yes - I have been asked that). Oh no - I don't have to endure any of that. In fact you can all rest assured that the only time I enter a local establishment, hand someone $10 and say to the buxom woman inside, "I'd like a number two please, " that I'm requesting an entirely different thing.

- This past week my son has signified that is going to be some time before he challenges my status as the alpha chimp in this family. A few examples being that he refused to leave the house this morning until he had finished dancing; that at a rummage sale on Saturday he fought his way past all the killer death-lego robot-monsters and toy cars to pick up a pink toy sweeping brush, and that at one point whilst outside this morning he actually cried out in anguish when a cabbage moth landed on his leg and wouldn't get off. Luckily I could care less how traditionally Dirty Harry machismo he is - but even I felt a strange pang of pride when - ten minutes after the moth debacle - I was alerted to him by my daughter only to find him completely pantless (still had his shoes on mind) stood atop Woodchip Mountain and screaming, "DR. BONK!!!" at the top of his voice. He then rolled down the precipice like a marine, stole my apple and ran off into the woods with a plastic baseball bat. I didn't find his pants for another twenty minutes and I've no idea how or why he took them off.

- My daughter has just learned by putting together information from classmates at school and from a television commercial that video games machines exist. All morning she's been mentioning that a boy in school plays Guitar Hero, one where you have to dance and that another one has a zombie game where you have to kill everyone or you die. I am going to hold out as long as I can before capitulating to a video game machine. My daughter has seemingly waned from Angry Birds - so I don't think I could cope with finding her downstairs at 3am playing Call Of Duty and Diablo III. Frankly I'm not sure I can accept the idea of my kids dancing happily around Wii,  based purely upon my own childishness alone.

- I have to go buy a mower pretty soon. My heroic attempts to fix my old mower succeeded - but then 90 minutes later I ran over a brick with it leaving even my small-engine repair skills (hit with hammer and put in more oil/gasoline) wanting. Now I'm waiting a couple of weeks for what I'll call an, "additional monetary influx event" 9to keep it vague) that may happen before buying a new one. My wife has proposed us just biting the bullet and getting a good riding lawnmower. I know we should - but I mowed no problem with a gas-powered thing for ages until it became crippled. And a riding mower costs almost as much as I sold my last car for. Then I had two simultaneous ideas that don;t go together at all - I can buy a brush hog thing and a push-me/pull-me mower thing. That way I know I'll have a strong arduous thing that can plow through the woods on our property and deal with the approximately acre of grass we have. and I'd have a manual thing to shove around getting some quality time in with a book-on-tape or some Radio 4 thing I've recently downloaded. The reel-mower (that's what the engine-less ones are called) can't be more than $60 I thought. and a brush thing has to be less than a sit-down mower. So I checked. The brush clearing things are twice the price of a riding mower. so annoyingly that was out. But unbelievably the manual thing is the same price as a gas-powered mower. How is that even sensible? And is an acre too big for that? I'm happy to spend the time and treat the whole thing as exercise. But $200 for a manual mower? My wife would kill me if I did that. Especially the first time I moaned about having to mow the hill.

- My daughter is five this year. I am aware that she is distinctly female infrequently when she gets all nutso about princesses or wanting to have more sparkly shit on her clothes/in her hair. This is usually based around someone else telling her that she should have more sparkly shit and be more girly. Anyhoo - what with it being summer I've pulled out all the clothes we saved from last summer and sorted that which does and doesn't fit. Most doesn't. So I started grabbing stuff at garage sales and thrift stores - and noting that I should probably grab stuff for a 6 year old as well. Which has made me feel ill. All clothes for a six year old girl are distinctly girly. They either have pastels and embroidered cack on white/pink shirts, or those annoying slogans like, "Princesses Love To Shop" or, "Grrls With Attitude" on them. But more horrifying is that seemingly at age six alot of the shirts are designed with accentuated breast shapes in them. What. The Fuck? Six year old's have tits now?

- I have just spoken to my wife on the phone. I was at home sat at my laptop - she was in a hotel room saying she was also online. Then I heard a flush. That my friends is the principle reason why - if I ever become leader of the world (and wheels are in motion, so behave as I have a long memory) - I will ban handheld computer tablets and whatnot. And probably cellphones as well. It's wholly wrong to be online and pooing and trick me into talking with you as well. You would never catch me doing that. So if I've ever Facebook chatted with you - or whatever - feel safe in the knowledge that the only way I could be typing a witty retort and defecating would be if I was squatting over a Ziplock bag. I'm sure you feel much better now.

- I have just overheard someone at school respond to another parent (who was expressing pride at their kid's baseball ability) that they could completely understand why they think their kid is awesome - what with the fact that the minister at their church telling them that their child seemed to have, "a special mission" from God. That sounds terrifyingly ominous. Especially as the kid - when she showed up - appeared to be about 8.

- I can definitely feel the seething rage of middle age is beginning to set root in my body. So much so that on the way out of the school to pick up my daughter today I stopped a boy who had dropped a Mountain Dew bottle on the ground and made him pick it up. I used my loudest David Mitchell-esque annoyed middle-class Englishman voice. The two reasons I know I'm cresting into a mental middle-age are not only that I felt actual rage about litter and that I then experienced immense satisfaction that the child saw me very much as a parent who yells at children an expects results from it. Of course - when I got home I chuckled at the fact I have deliberately not cleaned the living room because nobody tells me what to do (did I mention my wife was away?)


The Shirtlifting Champions

My kids are still asleep.

This is good. Their mother snuck off at 4am to fly to New Orleans for work and will be back Friday. So this is likely my only alone time until then. My wife is actually staying in the same hotel we stayed in tn years ago on our honeymoon. I was originally going for an anniversary trip. Oh how I wanted to be re-experience the god-awful stink of sewers, stale milk that the city seems to spray everywhere and last night's spilled beer. Or to sit around casually feeling aggrieved that I can't eat begneits anymore - and that I'm terrified of being instantly killed by teh ridiculous amount of shellfish everywhere. Or maybe I could wander to that nice spot just outside "the safe zone" that clearly transparent tourists aren't supposed to be in and get politely mugged again just like ten years ago. Or complain like a non-local wuss that it's just too bloody humid to cope with the 105 degree heat.

On the flipside I did want to get my daughter an alligator on a stick and take my kids on a tram ride. And The Bombay Club is the second best restaurant I've ever been to in my entire life (Ulrich's in Buffalo, NY being the clear favorite) - that would have been nice to go to. My wife better go there while she's back and blow $100 on nosh. She at least better get some fish inside her. She's not big on catfish but you can't not eat fresh blackened catfish if it's available right? I presume a muffaleta, po-boy and several daiquiris will be consumed as well.

Today I might do some outside work. We are one week away from the demon yellow flies returning. There's this weird yellow-headed bastard that shows up Memorial Weekend and doesn't leave until very late Summer. No matter how much cancer-juice (that would be deet-spray) I slather on myself they don't care. They are the violent and dumb and bite you happy in the knowledge that you will get bitten right before they die. So if I have any brush to move I better do it before those bugger show up. Add my kids can help me.

My son is fully aware that if he doesn't do his chores he has to sleep in the back garden. That might seem harsh but don't worry - if it rains he can scootch under the car to keep dry. If he's cold he can snuggle up to the neighborhood cats that hide in my garage at night so that the foxes and coyotes don't eat them. Below you can see my son hard at work carting cut grass to the compost pile. When he gets older and stronger he can mow the whole lawn himself. Whereas at the moment he chips in by sorting out the edging with an eyelash crimper. .

After another arduous day of working in the backyard everybody else ate homemade pizza. Just before this my kids came up with some bizarre game where they lay in a pile next to their mother and covertly attempted to surprise her by shoving their hands up/down her shirt. Not sure where they came up with this game but I can assure you that no amount of complaining from my wife that it was out of order deterred them at all. Especially not when I helpfully named the game The Shirtlifting Olympics and cheered them on. It certainly didn't help when I also reassured them that no - when they are hidden underneath the other child nobody can see them, so  carry on shirtlifting without any fear of reprisals. My son ended up as Shirtlifting Champion. My daughter though is a fighter and opportunist. Here at dinner she reassured her mother that she will eventually become victorious- even if she has to wait for her mother to falls asleep before attacking. Also note that my daughter is using her latest pseudonym of Super Kitten.

I'll have to wait to speak with my wife later today to find out if my daughter succeeded or not.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Back Yard

" I have a new rule - don't put bugs in your underpants."

I'm supposed to add that to the list of rules we keep on the fridge. This is because whilst sitting in the sunflower garden bed in the yard yesterday my daughter let/encouraged some ants and millipedes to crawl all over her and into her underpants. Then in a fit of pique she declared that bugs should be banned from your knickers. I'm good with that decision.

We spent a lot of time outside yesterday. I had penciled in coming inside for the Champions League final - which I did. But it was so one-sided and the epitome of anti-football from The Rent Boys that I buggered of back outside to get some work done when it was still a draw at full time. I didn't see the end but I'm sure you'll all join with me to congratulate Bayern Munich on easily winning when it went to penalties. It's not as if a German would miss penalty is it? Anyway - it was rather tedious and drab to such a degree that this is my son's verdict on the first half in particular. Seeing as it was such a nice afternoon my wife took him back outside to finish his kip.

Anyhoo - lots of yard-work done. My wife and I cleared out my daughter's designated patch where we plant sunflowers and transplanted all the stuff (vinca - my wife tells me) that grows in there to the big huge patch out back that I'd cleared off to make the back yard more visually pleasing. My daughter spent quite a bit of this time finding bugs in the soil and letting them crawl all over her arm. Then she'd take photos of them - which she told us she will make into a magazine today. I'm kind of pleased that her stated goals for life so far have been a nature photographer, geologist and a herpetologist. All noble and not at all the cliched, "I want to be a Princess with a pony that is just pretty enough for the older looking boys to want to sleep with!" crap you see all girls on television clamor to be.

I hope she doesn't use this photo though - seeing as my wife's first reaction was, "she looks like we caught her fiddling with herself..." Which considering she intentionally had ants in her pants is probably quite accurate.

Also yesterday we hit a few garage sales. It was one of those cool village-wide ones where you can park your car and walk around the neighborhood and look at all the tat that you don't want in the hope that something interesting will be offered for bugger all money. At a rummage sale in the midst of them all we found our tat - a perfectly functioning hand-crank metal double-beater whisk. It was a $1 to fill a bag so we had that and my daughter nabbed a whole bunch of Halloween, and Christmas ornaments for herself. The kids entertained themselves with them by moving them around the living-room and then screaming that they'd just uncovered some sort of frightening Santa Claus/ghost monsters that were likely to do something terrible if they didn't reach a certain pitch and octave. Actually my daughter picked out three relatively nice Santa-in-his-workshop ornaments and has decided one is the big man himself, the other his brother, whereas the last one is his wife. When I pointed out Santa's wife seems to have a beard my daughter casually said," yes - some women have beards." Yes, they do seem to.

Anyway here are some back yard photos so you can have some idea of what has been going on. First up is my daughter hiding in the bushes - something I fear she'll be arrested for at some point in the future.

Another patch of my wife's massive hostas. Take that double entendre fans.

My wife planted a bunch of bushes and trees around the side of the house. As you can my dog is already planning new places to pee on. 

This is way out back and is part of the ground I've been clearing out. It used to be an overgrown wilderness. That's one of about four wheelbarrows of metal, bones, shit and glass that I've dug up. it looks appalling now but that's the point. Next spring it will be completely covered in dark green ground cover that completely overpowers any other plants in it's path - thereby choking off all the annoying weeds and vines that are there right now. That way we can walk through it and never need to mow it. Genius if you ask me.

And here's the vegetable garden (and the neighbor's house) as of yesterday afternoon. Lettuce is ready to munch. 

Late in the afternoon whilst plugging in fistfuls of phlox into the mud I listened to a while bunch of episodes of The 99p Challenge and The Unbelievable Truth from Radio 4 on my MP3 player. All of which reminded me that my kids are not going to sound at all like any of the people I was listening to (in this case people like Nick Frost, David Mitchell, Stewart Lee, Bill Bailey, Peter Baynham, Arthur Smith and Armando Ianucci). I don't mean accents either. Although it does make me somewhat ill to think they'll sound like some people around here with their butchered non-ironic English statements like, "I gotta go get my hair did." It's more the plethora or ridiculously silly things British people like to say just because they sound funny and interesting. I can't even express how many swear words and euphemistic terms for wobbly bits there are that I'd be genuinely disappointed about if my kids don't use.

Therefore late in the afternoon yesterday I started a plan to drop into conversations things that I'd like them to adopt into their vocabulary. I tried out, 'you're always acting the giddy goat...' which my daughter quite liked. I wearily chanced my arm with, "well bugger me backwards" before settling on the absolutely ridiculous statement of, 'not many people know this, but a gnat's chuff is literally as tight as a gnat's chuff." Neither of my kids paid me any attention for that one but my wife did give me that look where she hadn't heard me or didn't understand what I had said, but she still relatively certain that it had been inappropriate. A visual klaxon, if you will.

I might have to settle on safe middle-class English things like, "chin wag" and "chuffed to bits" before introducing offensive slang for people's naughty bits. Although I'm fairly certain I can convince my kids that making fun of ginger people is fun.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Cowboy

"Beans, beef and coffee."

That's what my daughter has learned that cowboys eat. She had a cowboy rodeo today at school. I confess to not really knowing what that was going to be. Although on some things it's being titled as an Alphabet Rodeo. But they are going to dress as cowboys. Correction - the boys will. The girls will dress as cowgirls. Which in my daughter's case is a pink alphabet t-shirt, beige shorts and sneakers. I actually saw this as a very slim opportunity to wear my Indiana Jones hat - and possibly a brown pair of slacks and a brown shirt - and not feel like a total twonk. But I passed on that and just went as An American Man. Not as a local though - I don't own basketball shorts or a shirt with a scorpion/tractor on it. And I don't own any of those polo shirts made from synthetic fiber.

Actually to be clearer it was a bring-your-grandparents event that ironically was the only time (I think) that our group of grandparents couldn't make it. Basically a few songs were sung (we videod them but I can't distinguish any of the monotone noises of each song apart), some games were played, cookies were eaten and fraternizing with others was achieved. Nice easy stuff. Actually there was a lasso-a-bull (you can sort of see it below in the photo) game that I thought I'd have ab ash at and show off some of the amazing moves I've learned from the PBR. But I managed to keep the urges inside me and no-one knows that the English bloke amongst them quite likes bull-riding. I was actually more concerned by how quickly all the kids rushed for the only non-homemade cookies - the nasty Walmart sugar cookie - were picked through (including to his detriment - my son) by the kids.

Here's a photo of some of the kids riding out to start singing on their horses. I'm an in-between parent in that I'll take a photo of my daughter in context with the other stuff going on. I see some parents who have a tight-focus around their child - like their NBC doing an international sports event and bollocks to any other stupid country taking part (I genuinely saw a 200m Olympic race once and they didn't show anyone except the American guy so you had no idea what position he was in). And then there is another breed of parent who will just shoot off pictures of everyone and everything so that they have every minute detail of their kids life recorded.

Oddly at one point whilst I was talking to someone there (and my wife was off with my son playing a game) my daughter started licking my belt. I think I managed to express the right amount of surprise and composure so as not to have them think we're a strange family with odd beliefs. Mind you this is a small town and word gets around. Yesterday my kids and I were headed inside after digging up random parts of the backyard (it's a long story) when the I stopped to chat with a neighbor. I sent my kids in to wash the filth off their hands - and in my sons case off his face - and told my neighbor how surreal it was to be digging way out in the backyard to find a whole door buried under a foot of dirt and realizing that I could open it like a real door. I will admit to thinking it was a doorway to Narnia - but only forcibly after thinking it was possibly also an old way out of a Fritzl-style dungeon. I actually did open it up and there was a shallow ditch underneath filled with bricks and a coiled wire from a telephone pole. And why the hell not? Anyhoo - my back was to my kids and I heard them come back outside. Then my daughter laughing yelled, "look Daddy - Owen is a towel head!!" I think I got the shock and embarrassment level right there too - but I'm not sure a lasting impression hasn't been made there.

Oh - and in a completely unrelated discovery - apparently I'm not allowed to touch my wife's bottom anymore. Well - not in front of the children anyway. My wife is now concerned that although my daughter is currently ignorant of what I'm getting up to, she will at some point twig on to it and then realize that all those nice back scratches and whatnot we've been joyously giving each other (I'm being charitable - this is all one-way traffic that I'm building up credit that I want paid back on) in the morning are the behavior of two vile, disgusting, nasty people. I should have known - I can't sneak snacks in front of the kids anymore without my daughter at least knowing that something has been consumed within the last few moments. So it's pretty unlikely that I'd be able to canoodle my wife and not have one of them at least tell us to behave. I haven't had the experience yet of my own offspring knowing and understanding that their parent's once had sex (at least twice in our case seeing as we have two kids) and what that means. Or to see their contorted faces realizing that it's possible these two old, shameful people probably still have sex. But I personally can't wait to abuse that sense of revulsion and invent some sort of clearly transparent code that I can winkingly use whilst pretending my kids don't understand what I'm talking about. "Honey - would you like to help me grout the bathroom upstairs - snortle - in a minute...." Then I'll wink over-dramatically and go put on marigolds and camel-back. That'll confuse them.

Right now though I'm trying to figure out something for dinner. I'm trying to cram in more vegetables and fruit as we've been lacking this week. Ironically I've been reading a lot of paleo-diet stuff purely to figure out what sort of snacks people eat that isn't fruit and isn't sugar based - and they basically just eae hunks of meat. These are people who basically eat fistfuls of bacon when they get peckish. It's the complete opposite of how I learned about food. For breakfast instead of a whole grain cereal with some milk they eat a pork chop. I understand soem of the logic behind it but it's still cloaked in that wanky, "I'm so fucking cool" attitude you get from people who carry a bag of chia seeds around with them and tell everyone the first opportunity they get that they eat them. It's the opposite snooty culture to pompous veganism. I ended up watching a cooking show online where filthy rich people in San Francisco drove their $80k sports car from their mansion to another mansion to have a party where everyone there ate a paleo-diet, because "that's the natural way to live." Some of the recipes are very nice mind. Sadly I ended up asking an old friend of mine who went the paleo route to tell me what they snack on and they just sent me reams of incomprehensible politically activist stuff about why drinking milk is evil and masochistic, and why apples really are satanic. Outside of that weirdness they're a wonderful person though so I let them get it of their system. Took bloody ages though. It's like that moment you realize you are stuck in the room with someone who is actively going to read every single word of a Powerpoint presentation they've made. And yes - it does have different font sizes and 300 words a page in it. Just to test the waters I asked my daughter if she'd prefer to just eat a quarter pound of salami and a cup of nuts for lunch instead of sandwiches and she said yes. She'll probably fold on the whole deal when I point out no more chocolate (what a stupid idea), ice cream or candy on a paleo-diet. Right now though I think I'll have some braised lettuce and garlic mushrooms. And we still have barbecued beans left from yesterday which my kids hated. Yay!

Lastly I've decided I really don't like my local grocery store. There are a bunch of banal reasons. Firstly most of the time when I go there they've buried the race-car carts I plop my kids in (the ones that are way too big to actually steer) behind a bunch of the regular-people carts. That's annoying. Secondly because they never have anything they just put on sale. I'll go on a Sunday morning when the sale starts and always end up leaving annoyed with less than half the crap I wanted. I'm pretty much guaranteed not to leave with the bread my family eat (all American bread is useless, tasteless, expensive bilge - but there is some odd German brand they can tolerate) or a carton of half-and-half that isn't made with melted acrylic instead of cream. Also their fruit is always crap. I am sick to the hind teeth of buying a bunch of apples and 1/3 of them being bruised like any movie wife of Ray Winstone. I even bought bananas there once that were disturbingly rotten underneath a nice yellow peel. I can't wait for my local farm to start selling their produce. But the last reason I've decided I don't like it is the last time I went there one of the lobsters in the lobster display tank was dead. That can't be good. And it was definitely dead too - not a mystery even to my two year old son who could tell the upside down floating thing was definitely dead. That sort of sign is a big clue not to buy anything in that store if you ask me. The fruit's rotten and the animals are dead. It's almost as if there's a biblical curse.