Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Birthday Blunder

For any kid, turning ten is a big deal. We’re talking double digits here. Practically a pre-teen! For Kelsey’s 10th birthday, we wanted to make it extra memorable, so we went the extra mile and had a very special birthday cake made. It featured a beautiful photo of her actually imprinted on the icing. When the big moment came, I lit the candles and walked the cake from the kitchen into the living room as everyone sang “Happy Birthday.” As I lowered the cake down for her to blow out the candles, a big smile appeared across her face when she noticed her picture on the icing. But in an instant, that smile turned to a look of horror when the cake started to slide off the plate toward her. My best attempt to save the cake failed, as the whole room full of guests watched it tumble off the plate, candles still lit, landing upside down – hot pink frosting and all – on the living room carpet! Fully aware of the “three-second rule”, I instantly reached down and scooped the cake up with my bare hands and flipped it back over onto the plate. The frosting photo featuring my daughter’s likeness now looked like some sort of mutated space-alien! I gave Kelsey the “Daddy made everything OK” look, which she clearly didn’t buy. Instead, she burst into tears, screaming “You’ve ruined my cake … you’ve ruined my party,” and ran out of the room.

I looked to my wife, hoping for a little support in front of our guests. But as she was staring at the frosting smushed into the floor, her only response was “And you’ve ruined my carpet.”

Monday, November 24, 2008


"Where the heck is Norweeja?"...

...asked our 11 year old son when we spotted a "Norwegian Cruise Line" ship docked in the harbor in Honolulu!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just My Luck

So, my wife calls me on my way home from work, and says that my 11-year old son, Austin, wants to go to the movies with his "girlfriend" and two other "couples" from his 6th grade class. All the parents are fine with this, as long as we have ONE parent to go along, and since no one else could make it, this time it had to be ME. I reluctantly agreed, figuring I would just sit a couple of rows behind them, keeping a watchful eye on them from afar. So the kids head into the theater first, and walk immediately to the back row (so much for my plan to sit behind them ...) As they head toward the middle of the back row, I take a seat on the end, figuring I could glance over at them from time to time and keep everything in check. As they were getting settled in, moving around, deciding which couple would sit by which couple, it ended up that one of the guys and his girlfriend were seated right next to me. After a few minutes, my son gets up from the other end, and walks around to me. He bends down and whispers in my ear, "Dad, you're seriously NOT going to sit next to Andy, are you?"

I answered, "Well, I sat here on the end first, so technically, you guys sat by me -- I didn't choose to sit by Andy."

Austin wasn't buying it. "Can you please move?" he asked.

I looked at him, and could see the panic in his face. I realized this wasn't the typical "I'm-taking-Austin-and-his-buddies-to-see-a-movie" situation. Like it or not, this was a DATE.

I moved about three rows ahead of the happy couples, glancing back over my shoulder to give Austin the "Meet-the-Parents" hand motion of pointing at my eyes, and then pointing at his eyes to let him know I was watching.

I turn back around to realize that, except for us, the theater is empty. I mean, who goes to movies on a weeknight? At that point, a group of four high school girls walked in and stopped in their tracks when they saw me.

Yep. To them, I was the creepy middle-aged man, sitting there all by myself, checking out teen-queen Lindsey Lohan in her new movie, "Just My Luck."

"Just my luck," I thought to myself, awkwardly smiling to the girls -- who quickly avoided eye contact with me and moved to another section of the theater!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Oh Baby!

My children were 6 and 7 when we found out we were pregnant. We went to the book store and bought all kinds of books on how to talk to the boys about the impending arrival of their new brother.

We began to go through the books and my husband and I quickly realized the first 2 or 3 pages we would probably skip this time around.

A few days later I arrived home and found the boys had found the books and were reading. (I did forget they both were avid readers by now).

My oldest son who is incredibly shy, stumbled on his words as he tried to ask daddy a question. He just couldnt get it out. So his little brother stepped up to the plate.

He looked straight into dad's eyes and shouted "What Tommy is trying to say, Daddy when the fishies came out of your balls did it hurt?"

I do believe in retrospect we should have read those first few pages to them!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008


"Dad, how many more of those freakin' flyer miles do you have?" asked Kelsey, age 10, after I explained to her that we didn't have to pay for our tickets to Hawaii because we used our "frequent flyer" miles!

Monday, April 14, 2008

SpongeBob SquareCake

Who knew that the Cake Bake fundraising auction would turn out to be the best – and worst – highlight of Austin’s first year as a Cub Scout! The event featured all kinds of cakes – all baked & decorated by the scouts and their parents. Each cake was to be auctioned off, with all funds going to help raise money to send the kids to Scout camp. Austin wanted to make a SpongeBob cake in honor of his FAVORITE cartoon. So we planned it all out – tons of yellow frosting, Twinkies for arms, and a little help from Mom for adding all the perfect details. It turned out AWESOME. So awesome, in fact, that when we got to the auction, Austin decided that he didn’t want to give up the cake. That’s right, he wanted Daddy to buy the cake that we brought to sell. So what’s a guy to do? Austin was so proud of the creation we worked on together as a family, so I joined in on the bidding for his beloved SpongeBob SquareCake. Most cakes were selling in the $20-$30 range, but SpongeBob quickly passed that level. Apparently, a couple of other Dads caught on that Austin really wanted that cake, and started bidding up the price, to see how high I would go. It got to $40, and I started getting a little nervous. At $50, I told Austin that some other people really wanted the cake too, and we might not get it. That was not the answer he wanted to hear. He looked at me and said, “Dad, that’s OUR cake. We HAVE to get it!” After I bid $60, I told Austin that if we don’t get it, we can bake another one.

He started to cry.

I told him I would continue, but would not go over $75 (as if that made any sense to a six year old). When it reached $75, he looked horrified – like he was on the verge of losing his best friend. How could I take his best friend away from him? The bidding went on to $80 - $85 - and $90. “Ninety dollars going once, going twice…” the auctioneer was saying to my bidding rival. I raised my hand one last time, and locked in SpongeBob SquareCake for NINETY FIVE DOLLARS! The cake we had a whopping six dollars invested into! But to see the expression of joy on my son’s face was worth every “overbidded” dollar I spent!

We brought the cake home, and popped it in the cold oven to keep it away from the cat – tucked Austin into bed, and called it a night. The next evening, I came home from work, walked into the house, and smelled a wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen. I looked at my wife, and asked, “Honey, are you baking another cake?” – thinking that was odd since we already had … before I could finish, she rushed to the oven, threw open the door to reveal a totally “re-baked” SpongeBob SquareCake. Apparently, she started to pre-heat the oven for dinner, and forgot that SpongeBob was still inside! We pulled him out only to discover there was no salvaging this mess. All the frosting had melted off the cake, leaving what looked like something you’d see after a nuclear experiment gone terribly wrong. So there we were. Looking at what remained of this very special cake – a cake that we had the pleasure of paying $95 – that was now, well, TOAST!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How can I help you?

We’ve all been there. Zooming into the drive-thru for a quick lunch. The goal? Get in, get out, and get back on the road. But sometimes, something as simple as a fast food run can take a turn for the worse.

That’s exactly what happened to Connie one summer’s day during a pit stop at the golden arches. She ordered lunch and pulled around to WINDOW #1 to pay.

“Three dollars and forty-two cents,” said the cashier.

As Connie dug through her purse, she discovered she only had three one-dollar bills. Realizing she was short by forty-two cents, she knew it was time for Plan B.

She reached into the coin holder under the car’s radio and found a few coins, but not enough. She checked her pockets for loose change and came up with some more, but again, not enough. She held out hope for her last opportunity – the cup holder! And sure enough, she found enough change to cover it.

A couple of minutes had passed by, which can seem like an eternity – especially for Connie who noticed the long line of cars waiting behind her. So as Connie began to transfer the fistful of coins from her hand to the cashier’s, she started to apologize for the delay.

And then it happened.

Several of the coins dropped out of her hand and bounced on the ground outside the car. She knew she didn’t have one additional cent in the car, so she asked the cashier to hold on a second. Connie opened the car door just enough to begin leaning down, reaching for the coins on the ground below her. Forgetting momentarily that she was in a mini-SUV that sat a little higher off the ground, she extended her reach to grasp the fallen coins. She couldn’t quite pick them up, so she stretched a little further. And that’s when gravity took over and gave Connie a hand, by pulling her pretty much out of the drivers seat – and wedging her between the car and the wall underneath the drive-thru window. Now, if Connie had remembered to simply shift the vehicle into “park” before she began her search-and-rescue mission for those twelve cents that went AWOL, she would have found herself in a much better position. But the car was in still in “drive,” and Connie was stuck, hanging halfway outside the driver’s side door. Her only saving grace was that she was able to keep her foot on the brake, preventing the car from accelerating forward. She knew if her foot left the brake, the car would have taken off and either dumped her out before it began it’s unpiloted run across the parking lot. Or worse – it could have continued toward the side of the restaurant, crushing Connie in the process.

And then, she heard those five little words that we all take for granted every time we visit a drive thru, “How can I help you?” asked a familiar voice from behind her. With her head upside down, Connie focused to see her friend, Dyan, who ironically happened to be in the car behind her at the drive-thru, and witnessed the whole ordeal! Instead of feeling instantly relieved, Connie began doing what she normally does in stressful situations like these – she began laughing hysterically. This, in turn, started Dyan laughing as well. In fact they were both laughing so hard, neither one could speak a single word. Instinct took over, and Dyan knew she had to do something. She ran around to the passenger’s side of Connie’s car, opened the door, reached across and shifted the car into “Park.” Once the car was secured, she then helped pull Connie up and back into the car. Still laughing, Dyan returned to her car, and Connie handed the twelve-cents to the cashier. She proceeded to WINDOW #2, collected her meal, and drove away – never looking back!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


“I’ll WALK!” screamed Kelsey, age 4, defiantly acknowledging her mother who proclaimed, “Young lady, you're in big trouble - you MARCH to your room RIGHT NOW!” And that's exactly what Kelsey did - refusing to MARCH, she turned around and calmly WALKED into her room, as if to say, "I'll go. I'll take my punishment. BUT it will be on MY terms!"

Friday, February 15, 2008

That Darn Cat!

When pets get older and their health starts failing, it can be a tough situation – especially for the kids in the house. Donna knew this all too well. The older of her two cats, Fluffy, was getting sicker and sicker, and began to repeatedly have “accidents” on her bedroom comforter. The vet was at a loss, and couldn’t find the cause – or the solution – to Fluffy’s problem. Complicating matters worse, Donna was pregnant and knew she needed to limit her exposure to harmful cat bacteria during her pregnancy.

Since the older kids were close to both cats, she tried to hang in there and make the best of the situation. But she kept discovering more and more accidents. Ultimately, she knew it wasn’t fair for Fluffy to continue on in such poor health, and made the painstaking decision based on her vet’s recommendation to put the cat down. Fluffy had given them so many good years, which helped make her decision a little easier, but she dreaded telling the children. She returned home from the vet absolutely heartbroken. She sat the kids down and told them that Fluffy was so sick, and unfortunately didn’t “make it”. The kids took it pretty bad, but were thankful to still have their younger kitty, Smokey, still around.

The next morning, after Donna got the kids off to school, she petted Smokey as she walked past him and into the bedroom.

And then she saw it.

Another “accident” on the bedroom comforter! “Oh, shit!” she screamed, realizing that she had actually put the wrong cat to sleep! It had been young-little Smokey -- not old-sickly Fluffy -- making the accidents all along!

Instead of putting the kids through any more trauma, Donna elected instead to put Smokey, the accident-prone cat, down in the basement to live!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


“Soooooo … How long have you guys known about this place?” said Austin, age 8, hugging a palm tree. "This place," that he was referring to was the entire state of Florida, after we fled a harsh Iowa winter for our first warm and sunny vacation. To him, Florida must have been this BIG SECRET we were keeping from him all his life!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ben There?

It was bad news. The furnace was on the fritz, and it wasn’t fixable. So when the service men came to install the new one, we had no idea just how hot things would end up in our house later that day.

The last thing I mentioned to the furnace guys, before the kids left for school and I took off for my college classes, was to make sure they didn’t let the cat out. You see Ben was an indoor cat, and I could just see him trying to sneak out.

I remember thinking that I was kind of being pet-owner-paranoid … asking these two overalled service-guys to “mind-the-cat.” The foreman on the job assured me that they would be very careful and as if on cue, Ben showed up in the kitchen at my heels to see me off.

Ben had been a birthday present for my daughter, Tami, and was our first feline pet. He had a beautiful coat of solid gray, with a little white under chin. His eyes were a light amber, very knowing somehow. He had a slight build. His body would just pour out of your grasp if he was done being held, slinking away on his declawed paws.

The whole family had fun with the idiosyncrasies that Ben displayed. When we’d leave, he would drag out Tami’s teddy bears (one by one) and leave them strewn around the house showing his displeasure with us for being left alone; or he’d hide from us in the hall closet on the middle shelf, way in the back. The only way we found out about his hiding place was when his meowing led us to the closed closet door. After a couple of “kitty-in-closet” episodes, we gave up and always left the hall closet door ajar.

So, when I returned home that particular afternoon, I checked the new furnace, and all appeared well. I hadn’t noticed Ben, but didn’t give it a second thought. Soon, the kids arrived home, we all settled into the after school routine.

That’s when the day really took an upside-down turn. Tami came out to the kitchen screaming, “Mom, It’s Ben! Something is wrong!” I was trying to make sense of her hysterical screams – she was shouting something about Ben isn’t Ben – Ben is missing! Somebody took Ben and left a different cat! She tried to convince me that there was a different cat in Tim’s room. A gray cat, it looked like Ben, but it was NOT Ben.

Figuring Ben may have been traumatized by all the commotion that day, I thought the poor ole’ cat probably had himself all stressed out and wasn’t acting – or looking – quite like himself.

I calmed Tami down, and walked with her to the Tim’s bedroom to assure her everything would be OK, that Ben was probably upset, and ….

And then I saw the cat.

In front of us, Tim was holding this very nice gray kitty, who seemed quite comfortable and very calm. Yes, the cat was a male, and gray and even had a small patch of white under his chin, but this Ben imposter had claws on all four wheels, so it was definitely, NOT Ben.

Thinking this was ending up more and more like a bizarre episode of the Twilight Zone, the situation raised a few questions. First, who is this gray kitty; second, how did he get into Tim’s room; and third, where is the REAL Ben.

When we calmed down a bit, we realized this little stranger probably had all the answers. He was very polite and accepting of our attention, he didn’t mind being handled, and in general appeared to like being – home? He had to be a pet, and no stranger to attention. So how did it come to be here?

Once we figured that we had an extra kitty, it only took a few steps to the hall closet to find the REAL Ben. He had been hiding out there … even when the serviceman came up from the basement earlier in the day. They discovered the back door was left open to the great outdoors, and imagined the worst when Ben was nowhere to be found in the house. One of them looked out into the driveway and across the street spotted a solid gray cat with bit of white fur under the chin. The cat was soliciting attention from some younger neighborhood kids. The serviceman hollered out, “Hold that cat!” What a relief, he must have thought as he brought that cat indoors, finished up his job, and left for the day. He had no idea he had just kidnapped – or catnapped – the wrong kitty!

Ben and his new “friend” didn’t mind each other at all, but both knew this was Ben’s home. And although Tim wanted to keep our visitor, it only took a few trips around the neighborhood to locate the little guy’s rightful owner!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


“That was WAY better than ‘The Land Before Time’ movie!” proclaimed Kelsey, age 5, as she finished watching “Jurassic Park” for the first time!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Stormy Weather

Clem and Sweetie were an amazing older couple with a lifetime of great memories. One they shared with us happened on a lazy summer’s day during their retirement years. You see, they didn’t get around as well as they once did. So they made a purchase that they were very proud of – matching electronic recliners for the living room! All they had to do was sit down, and then use the remote control to effortlessly recline them back into a comfortable position – perfect for a quick nap, which is exactly what they did on one particular afternoon. While they were snoozing, a summer thunderstorm had brewed up and passed through. They both awoke to find themselves with the power knocked out. No power meant their electronic recliners were out of commission. They were stranded. Stuck. Exiled in an electronic failure. There was no way Clem would be able to maneuver himself out of the chair. It was all up to Sweetie. She scooted her small frame, inch by inch, reaching out with everything she had to reach the phone on the end table next to her. Finally she grasped it, and dialed her daughter.

“The power’s out and your father and I are stuck in the BarcaLoungers!” exclaimed Sweetie. “Get down here right away and get us out of these things!”

Her daughter arrived, and sure enough, found them just as Sweetie had described – stuck! She worked to carefully get each of them out of the recliners, and left them with these parting words of advice, “Unless you supercharge these things with a battery-powered back up, I suggest you choose the bed the next time you decide to take a nap during a thunderstorm!”

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mary Christmas?

One snow day from school my son Alex, then about 3, and I decided to start decorating for Christmas. I decided that we would first put up the Nativity scene. As I was unpacking the stable and all the farm animals, Alex was taking each of them singing "Mary had a little lamb."

A few minutes later I looked up to see what he was doing. I was amazed to see the Virgin Mary totally surrounded by sheep. In Alex's mind she was the Mary who had the little lambs. Hey totally makes sense in a 3 year olds world!

And who's to say she wasn't the Mary who had a little lamb?!?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What Happens at Grandma's STAYS at Grandma's ...

Every summer, our kids spend one week with their grandparents in the quaint little town of Manson, Iowa. It’s kind of our way of exposing the kids to a simpler, more wholesome kind of life. As we dropped them off for their week-away-from-home, we had no way of knowing what they’d be exposed to this particular summer!

You see, Manson’s kind of like the “Mayberry” of Iowa. There’s one stoplight in town. A butterfly garden at the park. And one set of train tracks guiding several trains a day across the Midwest. My wife’s parents are wonderful. Our kids absolutely adore them, and they adore the kids. At the end of the week several summers ago, we picked up the kids and started our 2-hour journey home in the van. The kids were excited to tell us about how much fun they had, watching the trains go by the house, going to the pool, taking walks with Grandpa and the dogs.

And watching TV with Grandma.

My son Austin, who was about seven, said that Grandma sure does watch a lot of “Court TV”. He really enjoyed watching Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, Judge this and Judge that…seeing all those people getting caught lying, fighting, cheating and stealing!

Then my four-year-old daughter asked her brother if they should "tell us" about that "other" show they watched. Before he could answer, Kelsey blurted out that her and Grandma’s FAVORITE show was “COPS”! She started singing the theme song, “Bad boy, bad boy, watcha gonna do – watcha gonna do when dey come for you”!

I turned to my wife and said, “Do you realize the kind of things the kids might have seen on that show? People getting arrested, running around all drunk and NAKED!”

Without missing a beat, my daughter, the little angel, said, “Don’t worry Daddy, the naked people were wearing BLURRIES. We couldn’t see anything.”

She was referring to the blurry editing patches added by the producers to block out any nudity on TV!

After we regained our composure from laughing so hard, my wife and I looked at each other, and at the same time said “BLURRIES?”

And now, thanks to Grandma, we totally crack up every time we're channel surfing and happen upon any episode of COPS!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Snowball Surprise

As a dad, I really try hard to make vacations memorable. I have so many great memories of my family vacations when I was growing up, and want to pass those same types of memories onto my kids.

Well, this is the story of one of those times when a dad tries a little too hard.

When Austin was about four years old, we drove the minivan from Iowa to Colorado for a summer getaway, visiting friends in Vail. We knew Austin would really get a kick out of taking the ski lift to the top of the mountain to see snow in the 80º summer weather. The ride on the lift was great, watching the green grass change to the snow-white covered mountain top. Austin couldn’t wait to get off the lift and play in the snow. We hopped off and I reached down to scoop up a handful of snow – and discovered it was the perfect consistency for making snowballs. I threw one down the mountain. Austin eagerly followed my lead, but instead of throwing his snowball down the mountain, he turned toward me, pulled his arm back, and launched the snowball – hitting me directly in the stomach. Laughing with the giggle that can only come from a tickled four-year old, he reached down to reload for another attempt. Like a scared jackrabbit, I sprinted away to take cover behind a snow bank. Austin took another shot. Being more prepared this time, I jumped to avoid taking a direct hit to the leg.

Before I continue, I must preface this part of the story with the fact that I really have no athletic skill or ability whatsoever. But I wasn’t going to let that little fact stand in the way of an awesome summertime snowball fight with my son.

I grabbed a handful of snow, packed it into the perfect baseball shaped snowball. In an instant, Austin knew what was coming. The sheepish smile on his face faded away as he realized he was now MY target. He turned to run away. I took aim, and fired a shot directly at the center of his back. To this day, I can still see what happened next in my mind—it plays over and over like a slow motion movie. As Austin is running, he looked back over his shoulder, to see the speeding snowball grow larger and larger as it sped toward him. But instead of hitting him in the back, the tightly-packed ball of ice nailed him squarely in the face! Yep. A direct hit, knocking him off his little size three shoes and onto the ground. At that moment, I really don’t know who was more stunned – Austin – myself – or my wife who conveniently saw the whole thing. There was the obligatory two seconds of silence before the screaming. And I mean SCREAMING (it’s amazing how loud sounds actually do echo when you’re on the top of a mountain!) Austin’s screaming continued as his reddened face started to swell. My wife was screaming at me, as in “what-the-hell-were-you-thinking-you-know-can’t-throw-to-save-your-life” screaming. And my two-year old daughter was screaming – well because she’s two, and that’s what two-year olds do when they hear other people screaming. As I ran to Austin, he looked at me in complete and absolute FEAR. He started to run away from me, fearing I was going to nail him again! He hid behind his mother, seeking protection from this monster that his daddy had turned into. After a few minutes – and promises of an ice cream cone, a ride on REAL train and my commitment that I would never hit him in the face with a snowball again, Austin was able to pull himself together to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

So, ultimately, my mission was fulfilled – we did make a vacation memory that will last a lifetime.

I know my son will never let me forget it!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Out Cold!

Several years ago, my husband took our 2 boys ice skating for a Cub Scout activity. I stayed home with our daughter, thinking what a great dad he is spending quality time with his sons.

Two hours later, I heard the car pull up. I was looking forward to hearing all about their fun afternoon. Instead, I'm greeted with, "Mom!! Dad fainted at the hospital!!" WHAT?!?!

I ran to the door to see Andy (our 6 yr old) with several blue stitches in his chin, and my husband with a hospital ice pack tied around his head (much like an Easter bonnet).Then I hear the story. Andy, being Andy, tripped (or more likely dove) onto the ice cutting his chin. My husband realizes that a band-aid won't do, and takes him (and Brian, our 8 yr old) to the hospital. Andy was a trooper and survived the stitches just fine. Just as the doctor was cleaning up, my husband said he looked up at the clock and suddenly felt very hungry. Then he dropped like a ton of bricks. First he hit the silver tray holding the medical equipment, then he hit the floor hard. When he hit the tray, he sent all those sharp objects flying across the room. We think that's what sent Brian (our older son) running for cover. Luckily, as he ran out of the hospital room, he ran right into a police officer who calmed him down and stayed with him until his dad was attended to.To this day, my husband blames it on skipping breakfast. But, the nurses in the ER (who asked how Dad was doing when I took Andy back in to get his stitches removed) say it happens more than you know!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Corki's Quandary

Before we were married, before we had kids, we had Corki -- our beautiful, buff Cocker Spaniel. That little girl was our baby.

Neither of us could have imagined the shock we were in for after her first visit to the vet.

Connie had taken Corki in for shots and some routine blood work, and scheduled her to be groomed at the same visit. As new "parents," we were a little concerned that Corki wasn't acting herself after the vet visit. We'd throw her favorite ball into the air, waiting for her to leap and catch it like she always did. Instead, she just sat there, watching the ball go up, and then bounce down right beside her. No reaction. Her chew-bones didn't interest her. She wouldn't come when we called her, and she wouldn't even jump up on the couch to watch TV with us. Something was definitely not right. We called the vet, and they told us that she could be having a reaction to the shots or the blood work. The wanted us to keep an eye on her, and call them back in the morning.

So, we thought we'd take her outside for some fresh air. She didn't want to play, run around, or do anything. Frustrated, I picked her up under her front legs and held her outstretched to Connie, and said, "I really don't know what's wrong with her!" But in an instant, Connie knew. The look on Connie's face turned to total shock as she screamed," OH MY GOD -- she's got a penis!

I quickly set the dog down (OK, Connie says I dropped her), and backed up, paused, and the picked "her" up, turned "her" over, and declared, "Yep. It's a penis."

We called the vet back and quickly discovered there was a "mix-up," as they called it. Apparently, we had "Desert," a male, buff Cocker Spaniel, who was apparently a trained show-dog. And apparently Desert's owners had been given Corki. But instead of letting us swap dogs that evening, we had to wait until the next morning. So, we "tucked" little Desert in for bed, and made our way to the vet's office in the morning. We learned that when Desert's owners were called and informed they had the wrong dog, they didn't believe it. "No way, we have Desert," they replied. They insisted they had the right dog. It wasn't until they were told to check for the right "parts" that they believed it. Their response was almost exactly the same as ours, "Oh my God, he's missing his penis!"

What kind of parents were we? We couldn't even tell that we had the wrong baby!

So, a few years later, when our son Austin was born, let's just say a thorough inspection took place before we left the hospital. With all parts accounted for, we took Austin home to meet his big sis, Corki, who became his best friend for life!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sorority Sitter Surprise

My wife Connie works at the university, so we usually have a lot of college girls available for babysitting our kids. We're always more comfortable using these older, more experienced girls, knowing they are better equipped to handle any unexpected challenges that might occur while we are out. So, when we needed a sitter so we could see our niece perform in the musical production of "A Chorus Line" at the University, Connie called Sarah, a great girl from a Sorority on campus. Sarah had never sat for us before, but she was available, and agreed to watch our 10-year old daughter Kelsey. When we got home, we walked through the door and were greeted with the aroma of fresh baked cookies. Kelsey was excited to tell us about all the fun things they did together, including baking the cookies. We each grabbed a cookie, and started enjoying them as Kelsey explained how they had a slight problem when they were mixing up the dough. You see, we had celebrated Easter recently, and apparently the only eggs we had in the refrigerator were hard boiled eggs. Kelsey asked Sarah what they should do. Sarah thought about it, and figured eggs were eggs, so they just mashed up two of the hard boiled eggs and added them to the dough, popped them in the oven, and baked them.

At this point, we stopped chewing.

I turned my cookie upside down, and sure enough, saw little chunks of white egg pieces baked into the cookie. It didn't seem to bother Kelsey or Sarah. They thought nothing of it, and continued eating their cookies.

After getting past the fact of what I had just actually consumed, I realized I had just learned one of life's important lessons -- and from all people, that lesson came from a sorority girl and a 10-year old:

"When life hands you hard boiled eggs, go ahead, and just bake some cookies!"

Monday, April 9, 2007

The easiest way to keep our 2-year old daughter quiet through church service was to break out the buffet from the diaper bag. We kept it fully stocked with Cheerios, gummies, juice and crackers. Honestly, our pew often looked like a toddler-friendly salad bar! We'll never forget the quiet, candle-light Christmas Eve service when our little angel, Kelsey, decided she was hungry, and wanted some crackers. Her demands were simple and clear. She needed Cheez-Its, and she needed them bad. However, when a 2-year old yells "I NEED CHEEZ-ITS," it sounds exactly like, "I NEED JESUS!" She began screaming that phrase over and over and over. As we were tearing through the diaper bag, desperately searching for even one little toasted yellow-orange square, we noticed the approving nods and smiles from those around us. Then, we overheard the couple behind us say, "Now isn't that sweet -- that baby needs Jesus -- she knows the true meaning of Christmas!" We smiled back at them, stuffed some crackers into Kelsey's mouth, and joined the congregation in a very special rendition of "Silent Night."


Those six words pierced my state of unconsciousness at 4 a.m., and jolted me awake in an instant. Those were the words that my wife used to awake me during our Minneapolis Spring Break getaway. We were in a big city hotel, and Connie had awoken abruptly when she heard the door in our room open and shut. We both jumped out of bed to discover that our eight year old son, Austin was not in his bed.

We feared the worst -- Austin had walked out of the room in his sleep and was wandering through the hotel. Connie rushed to the door, undid the chain lock & deadbolt, and rushed into the hall -- there was no sight of Austin. She took off down the hall frantically searching for him and yelling his name. As she approached the elevators, her heart sunk. Could he have gotten on the elevator? What floor did he get off on? Where could he be?

I was back in the room trying to figure out what to do next. Seconds later, Austin walked out of the bathroom from our hotel room. The door Connie heard open and shut was not our room door that led to the hall -- it was the bathroom door! The little guy just had to go! As we got back into bed, I asked Connie, “When you were unlocking the chain and deadbolt on our door, did it not occur to you that there was no way that Austin could have made it out into the hall, and then re-locked the door from inside our room?” She thought about it for a second, and replied, "Oh, I guess that would have been difficult to do!"

We then laughed ourselves to sleep!