Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Out of the mouths of babes

Our master bath is in the process of being remodeled. The contractor/neighbor remodeling it loves kids, and our kids love visitors, so when he comes they want to talk to him, show him their toys and tell him their news. Here is a bit of an exchanged when he came last to do some work.

V - "Hi!!!"
Contractor - "Well hello there."
V - "Guess what!"
Contractor -  "What?"
V - "I have a potty! It's not mommy's potty it's MY potty!"
Contractor - "Really."
 V - " Yes! I'll show you, come with me."
She takes him upstairs to the hall bathroom and points to the potty seat on top of the regular toilet.
Contractor - "I see."
V - "Yes that is my potty! One day when I have a big butt like mom I'll sit on the big potty!"

Contractor busts up laughing and I just mentally subtract a few points from my self esteem.  Thanks V.


Monday, April 28, 2014

4 Year Old Logic

When the newborn came a few months ago, he was late.  To try to induce labor, we walked around for about 8 hours and did everything we could the Saturday before he came.  I was overdue at that point, and had been having contractions every 2 to 10 minutes for a day, so we figured it was time.

Well, Todd's friend Garrett came over and watched the kids on that Saturday.  My kids love their "Uncle Garrett."

Today, V told me, "Mom, you and dad need to go away so Uncle Garrett can come and play with us."

Such love. . .

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Parents, your job is. . .

I am a man of few pet peeves.  People who drive below the speed limit and fail to move into the turning lane before breaking are numbers two and three on my hit list.

The undisputed king, however, is people who say, "Parents, your job is. . ."

Pardon me, but who do these people think they are?  Are you my employer?  Are you paying for my medical benefits?  What qualified you to take on a managerial position over me in regards to my parenthood?

At best, they're a teacher at a school--at worst they're some political activist DINK (Double-Income, No Kids).  In any case, they are so far out of line and completely off base.  Most parents seem to understand that you're out of place telling another parent what to do with there kids.  Some parents who've had children move out of their house occasionally cross this boundary--and they are equally insufferable.

Here's my views on it:

PARENTING IS NOT A JOB!  It never was a job.  You will never get paid for what you do as a parent.  You will not get health benefits (you'll actually get a number of detriments).  There is no such thing as PTO, or even "time-off."  There's no overtime for reading bedtime stories, and no yearly bonus for helping your kid achieve high academic performance at school.

Honestly, you would have to be a completely ignorant moron to say, "Parents, your JOB is. . ."
A more enlightened approach would be, "Parents, your ROLE is. . ."

but even that is a presumptuous and pompous stance.  My role shifts and changes from day to day to meet my kids' demands (and they are demands, not deadlines nor user-stories, nor requests). 

All and all, if you think you know what to tell a parent to do with their kids, I give you a big fat universal, "Shove it!"

Parents are almost as complicated as kids are.  Just do your best and find a way to be happy with it.  Some days are more challenging than others, and you simply don't have the energy to keep your kids from fighting.

Kids are people--not subjects of study in academia.  If raising kids were simple and easy, we'd be too simple and lethargic a species to raise them. Parenting, in my experience, has been more about acknowledging your faults and rolling with the punches than it is about strict bedtimes and which snacks they can eat.  I don't think there are many bad parents out there at all, I believe most are good parents, and let me tell you why:

Good parents are the parents who get up more than they give up.
Good parents are the parents who are mindful of their kids needs.
Good parents don't know they're good parents--they hope they're good parents.
Good parents chose to be parents.
Good parents take care of themselves as well as their kids.
Good parents acknowledge their faults.
And most importantly,  good parents don't really care what other people think of their parenting--including me.  I'm not qualified to say what makes a good parent and what doesn't--I'm just hoping that something I've said has given the exhausted mom a reason to smile and not criticize herself for trying. I'm just trying to be the cheerleader for the parents of the world.

So, dad, keep going to the job you sometimes hate--because you're a good dad.
Mom, keep making PB&J sandwiches--because you're a good mom.
Mom and Dad, it's okay to take a break, but never give up--because that's what makes you good parents.
To these kids, you're the best parent they could ask for, and don't forget that.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Why gamers are happy people

I'm a dad, and I'm also a gamer.  I'm raising my kids to be gamers because I think gamers have the best subculture of any entertainment-based group in the world.  Here are 22 reasons why gamers are happier people.

  1. When a regular person gets really angry, it's called domestic disturbance.  When a gamer gets really angry, it's called nerd rage and sparks a universal conversation about brotherhood. (umadbro?)
  2. Some people just get gloomy and depressed when there essential utilities go out (water, heat, sewage, ect).  Gamers get upset the same as anyone else when their internet goes out, but they quickly gain a moment to appreciate the HD graphics of real life--and it gives them a chance to eat and catch up on Deep Space Nine episodes, or to sit and ponder on the meaning of life or their League of Legends build.
  3. Despite the fact that most games cost $40-$60 brand new, gamers still have the cheapest form of entertainment on the planet on a per-hour basis.  Many gamers chose to play things on a 6 - 18 month lag.  This yields a form of entertainment that costs $20 and will be enjoyed for 40 to 120 hours over the course of a month or two.
  4. Regular people who are out to hurt others are called felons and require expensive peace-keeping services to disarm and pacify them.  Gamers who are out to hurt others are called trolls, and can easily be disarmed through congeniality and lack of interest.
  5. If there is an unproductive, repetitive, or largely useless topic of conversation among gamers, then they just agree to not bring it up.  If that happens with normal people, they form government programs.
  6. When a gamer manipulates the system, they are called a hacker or a moderator.  Moderators are chosen from those who have proven themselves to be an asset to the game environment.  Hackers are swiftly banned from the game, and those who were victim of the cheater are quickly compensated.  The hacker loses all their virtual wealth, and then starts over.  When a regular person cheats the system, they're called a bond trader, lawyer, or politician.  So long as they don't do anything that is visibly reprehensible, they are given opportunities to further manipulate the system to their benefit, regardless of whether they've improved or harmed the ecosystem.
  7. Asking for help among regular people is called begging, asking for help to a gamer is called "power leveling."
  8. Regular people insist that everyone is equal.  Anyone who goes against this should be argued with and humbled via taxation and incarceration.  Gamers understand that some players are much much better then others, and should be studied and emulated, or countered if possible.
  9. The only class distinctions to a gamer are based on skill level, and there is nothing evil or wrong about that.  The only moral consideration involved with these classes is how well mannered you are about your skill level.
  10. Violence to regular people is a broken home, heartache, pain and suffering.  Violence to a gamer is a baseball bat and a zombie.
  11. Regular people learn by going to classes.  Gamers just try to figure it out, and study up on things as needed.   They are graded and rewarded by results, not with assignments and an emotionally charged lettering system.
  12. Our addictive substances are not controlled by the mafia or cartels, they're controlled by industrial grade servers and graphics cards.
  13. It takes about three mouse clicks to hang-out with your friends.  It takes about six to do something with them.
  14. If a guy acts like a pervert to a girl, then she just blocks chat--and often has options for retaliation (lots of gamer guys are willing to jump to her aide to roflolstomp the perv if asked).  To non-gamers, that requires filing a restraining order and possibly a lawsuit, and there isn't much recourse available.
  15. Showering is not required for social graces, and instead can be enjoyed as a luxury.
  16. World hunger, sickness, and pain are all problems to be solved by typing, "brb bio"
  17. The "daily grind" is entirely optional to a gamer.  Work still sucks.
  18. Pizza is considered health food.
  19. When they find love, they are rewarded with lifetime happiness points.
  20. If you're looking for answers about who you are, where to go, and what to do with your life, consult the strategy guide.
  21. Match-making means jumping in queue.
  22. If you don't like the way something is run, then you just uninstall it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Diapers Stink

Diapers stink.

Even before they've been used.  I hate changing diapers.  I hate paying for diapers.  I hate having boxes of diapers in our food storage.  I hate having cloth diapers as a backup on hand.

After they've been used, I hate them even more.  I hate the smell of ammonia.  I hate how unpleasant the wet paper and chemicals feel as I'm taking them out.  I hate how the solid contents feel.

I hate everything about diapers, just not as much as I hate cleaning poop off the carpet.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How I Lost My Marbles

Marbles have become the currency of our household.  Do something nice, get a marble.  Help around the house, get a marble.  Do your homework, get a marble.

They're bright, they're shiney, and just what young children want.

Except the marbles aren't for them, they're for me.

We didn't have a strict chore-chart or requirements for our kids until about two weeks ago, when all the noise, and fighting, and general chaos common to a household with many young children finally caused me to emotionally snap.

I don't know what exactly snapped in my head, but I think it was along the lines of, "I'm working two jobs trying to provide a good living and future for these kids and they won't even show me the kindness of responding to me when I call their names anymore.  That's it!"

The weather was agreeable enough, so I put coats on them and said, "go outside until I figure out what to do with you."

I went downstairs and Dani and I talked about my concerns.  Feeling like the kids were just taking and taking more and more from me everyday and not really giving anything back (even emotionally) in return.

Now some ancient history.  I am the grandson of a man named Henry.  Henry was a man too stubborn to work for anyone else, so he started (what became) a successful car dealership in the 1950s.  After my dad had finished doing work for him on a particularly hard day, he was given $1.40.  My dad asked, "Is that it?"  to grandpa, who then took him to his bedroom pointed at it and said, "how much are you paying me for that?"
  Dad, still a kid said, "Nothing. . ."
  "Well, there ya go."  and Henry walked off.
I am the emotional and biological descendant of that man.  I understand what he was thinking here.  It's not that he didn't love his son enough to provide for him, it's that he did the work needed for him to survive without any tangible return on it.  The tangible return is an important thing for people like me.
Having the unconditional love of my children is nice.  Having them hug me and say they're happy I'm in their lives is what keeps me going.  Believing they'll do great things with their lives is nice, having them excel on their school work or in a particular skill set is what motivates me to work harder as a parent.
And, by golly, marbles are tangible.

So, now, every time they do something that takes them a step closer to being self-sufficient, we give them a marble or two to put in a jar.  The current exchange rate is about $0.20/marble, and they can easily earn 4-8/day, with an effective maximum per day of 18.

And, until the fighting stops and I get some of the more meaningful tangible benefits back, they owe me two marbles a day for their room and board.  I'm pleased to report that all my kids are paid up through the week.  It's stupid and immature on my part, but it keeps me going--and I hope they'll learn some basic money-management skills in the process.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Four Under Seven

So, Dani and I had a pretty quick start to the whole parenting thing.

Four kids, the oldest is six.

To give some of the non-parents some insight as to what that means:  little kids really can't take care of themselves.  In fact, that's how they come--completely dependent on your time and energy.  Everything they want out of life is provided by you.

If this were a hostage situation, then the silver lining to the situation is that their demands are simple--fresh milk every two hours, a new diaper about every 3-5 hours, and to be held or otherwise played with for at least 70% of their waking life.  Since they sleep 16-20 hours a day, this really amounts to being half as productive as you'd otherwise be for 4 hours out of the day, dealing with some unpleasant smells, and mother having a highly irregular sleep routine.

And then they get older, and suddenly the hostage situation becomes a lot more real.

Fast forward two years, and suddenly they can walk, they can say words, they can climb, and their demands are no longer so simple or straightforward.  They've, thankfully, realized that the bargaining position of, "mom never sleeps" is untenable.  However, they now have some bargaining powers beyond screaming.
Negotiations take more effort, but less time, for example:
   Me: Y, you've got to limit your dairy, or you'll get clogged up and put in a lot of pain.
   Y: Cheese?
   Me:  It's gonna hurt you
   Y:  Want cheese!
   Me:  We've had this conversation before, and if I cave in, then you'll be crying in pain tomorrow
   Y then puts the cheese down, and will either fall back to her old methods of crying, or use her new bargaining chip of starting a fight with her sister.

Then onto the four year old.  They've learned exactly which buttons of yours to push, and which not to by how you respond to them.  This either means your kid starts to become a clear blessing to your house, or a curse--depends on what they learned from observation.   For us, it's a bit of both.  She's learned that we sometimes respond to extreme emotional outbursts--uncontrollable crying, whimpering in a corner, but still relies heavily on her old fallback of fighting with her sister.
  V:  Can I watch ponies?
  Me:  You've watched 3 hours of T.V. today, time to find something else
  V then promptly finds a toy, and starts playing with it right in front of her sister, often taunting her with it until her 2-year-old will-power is all but spent and she grabs for it.
  Me:  Why are you fighting?
  V:  Y took my toy!
  Me (thinking):  Who does she think she's fooling here?  I'm not gonna reward them for bad behavior, but I have been working 10 hour days for the past month and I just want this fighting to end.
  Me (aloud) : Alright, I'm taking all the toys and everyone can just sit and stare at the wall
-- 10 minutes later, a fight breaks out over who gets to stare at what dot on the wall --
My hope of spending 20 minutes decompressing from the day is shot.  It was held hostage, but I didn't meet the demand of unending entertainment, and now one of the hostages is dead.
  Me:  Go play in different rooms
  -- They casually obey, but pretend like they didn't hear anything after 5 minutes and we're back to where we were before the first fight broke out, until I forget that V has watched 3 hours of T.V., give up, and put an educational show on --

Needless to say, I am not particularly proficient at hostage negotiations with the four year old yet.

Then there's the six year old.  She's sweet, but devious.  She can be bribed, because she's learned the value of helping around the house and doing her homework.  With proper maneuvering, I can use this one against the other 3 and hopefully sneak away from parenting long enough to go to the bathroom if I play my cards right.
And then I hear all three of the mobile children screaming.
  N:  Y hit me!
  Me:  Why did she hit you?
  N:  I don't know. . .
  Me:  What do you want me to do about it?
  N:  Tell her to stop
  Me:  Do you think that will work?
  N:  Yeah. . .
  Me:  Do you know how many times I've asked her not to hit?
  N:  Hmmm. . .twice?
  Me:  I've been telling her not to hit one to two times a day for the past 18 months, so that's anywhere from 400 to 800 times already.  Do you think once more is gonna change her mind?
  N:  No. . .
  Me:  Look, I have never hit or pushed her.  If she learned how to do that, she learned how to do it from you or from V.  The best way to get her to stop pushing and fighting is to teach her by example and never hit or fight, but find other ways to solve the problem.
  N:  Okay
   -- 10 minutes later all three are screaming again.  I rush upstairs to find N tackling Y to the ground.  My chances of playing SimCity tonight have become the most recent casualty --
  N looks at me stupefied
  Me:  She obviously doesn't like that, she's trying to push you off.  You're teaching her to fight again!
  and at this point, the six-year-old falls back on her old standby of extreme emotional outbursts and starts crying uncontrollably in the corner.

Clearly I need work on my six-year-old negotiating skills, but I failed to meet the newborn's demands of a fresh diaper every 3-5 hours and he has, as a result, decided to hold all the air in the house hostage until his demands are met.

Oh well, maybe I'll get the smell aired out before tomorrow morning. . .

Welcome to parenthood!

Change of Pace

I want to make this blog about being a parent.  Dani and I think this would be a good topic to get us back into blogging.  Shoot, that's what most people read blogs for--cute pictures and stories of kids.

With ours, we'll mix in stuff we've tried with our kids that has worked, and stuff that didn't work, and do our best to help keep the content of our blog useful.

Look forward to blogging with you.

Why I'm (still) a Mormon

I don't expect much more to ever be posted on this blog, and I'm largely just posting this to share it with some particular friends....