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!”