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Monday, March 30, 2009


Lights, Camera, Dads!

My son wanted to watch Star Wars: Return of the Jedi for the umpteenth time the other night. Which is fine by me, as I've already seen the movie umpteen times and never tire of it.

The final moments of the movie are memorable, of course, but I'd never made special note of the classic father-son scene that takes place at the end until my son said, "Wow, dads really don't like it when people mess with their sons."

You know the scene. When the Emperor is zapping Luke Skywalker with a gazillion volts of dark side juice, and Luke's rolling around on the floor screaming, "Don't tase me, bro!" And then Darth Vader finally comes to his senses and tosses the Emperor into the chasm.

It got me to wondering what other classic father-son movie moments are out there.

Sure, I've got the one from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade when Henry Jones reaches his hand out to his son and quietly tells him to, "Let it go."

But otherwise I'm drawing a blank.

So, help me out. What are you favorite father-son scenes? I'll make a list and put it together with whatever YouTube clips I can find.

Speaking of which, here's that Star Wars scene, with some slightly creative editing:

Friday, March 27, 2009


Conspiracy Theory

My kids have been conspiring against me for years.

But I've long been wise to their scheming and have been able to thwart their more sinister plots.

The closest they've come to success was the year-long attempt to make me believe I was losing my hearing by mumbling at me constantly. They almost had me with that one.

After that they pulled an ingenious reverse auditory ploy by pretending that they were the ones with hearing problems, and thus couldn't possibly hear me when I asked them to pick up toys or wash hands.

I foiled that particular plan with a whispered, "Hey, look at this, there are two chocolate chip cookies left," and watched these two kids come running to the kitchen from distant bedrooms.

Their latest scheme seems to be a "good student, bad student" scenario designed to frustrate me into shortening our homeschool day. I think they must talk about it in the morning, before I'm awake. That would certainly explain why they continue to get up so early. It's the only time the planning committee can meet without parental interference.

But like I said, I'm on to them. I have to stay on my toes, because these kids are crafty. They're getting smarter with each passing day.

A few months ago I brought it all out into the open by announcing to them, "There's nothing you can do to fool me. For one thing, I'm smarter than you. And for another, when I was your age I tried all the same tricks. So I'll always be one step ahead of you."

I hope they keep trying, though. It's fun to watch, and it keeps their minds sharp.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Winner Wednesday

I almost forgot...

The winner of the Gustafer Yellowgold CD/DVD set is PDX Dad.


I had a "Wordless Wednesday" post ready to go last night, but the more I looked at it, the more I thought, "Do I really want to make someone throw up or pass out?"

You see, my son came into my office last night and announced that he had just created a new work of art. "A masterpiece of non-representational art," as he called it.

And then he held up a kleenex speckled with red smudges, a result of a brief bloody nose.

Of course I had to take a picture of him holding it so proudly. At first it was kind of funny.

But, ultimately, by morning it was just a little too disgusting to share. You're welcome.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Talk Too Much

My kids think I talk too much.

I can't help myself, as rarely a day goes by lately where I don't feel the need to deliver a lecture.

When my son announces that people who like dogs are stupid, I just have to tell him that he lives in a country where 40% of the households include dogs and he shouldn't be so quick to condemn nearly half the population.

And that, of course, leads into a lecture about showing respect toward other people's tastes and hobbies.

And then I tell him how lonely he will be in life if he rejects every person he meets just because they don't have the same likes and dislikes.

The more I've had to discuss an unchanged behavior with my kids, the longer I'll talk. Because it seems like they're just not understanding it in 100 words or less.

Like when my daughter brushes her teeth in 10 seconds each night, even though I've explained to her for years that she needs to say her ABC's twice in order to kill all the "sugar bugs."

Or when my son calls his sister names, even though I've endlessly pointed out to him that he should treat others as he would want to be treated by them.

Since my current strategy of lecturing them into compliance doesn't seem to be working, I need to find a reasonable alternative. I'm not in favor of just looking the other way. I've always felt that silence means approval, and if I let my kids get away with being selfish or sloppy or mean just one time, I'm afraid it will only grow worse.

I would love to stop lecturing so much. If you have something that works for you and your kids, help a dad out and leave a comment!

Friday, March 20, 2009


Weekend Whatnot

Before VCRs, DVD players, and cable, we were at the mercy of the local over-the-air TV stations for our entertainment and information. But at some point in the early 1970's, my mother discovered that the public library had an awesome collection of 16mm movies. Several times a month, she would bring home a projector and we'd watch old movies, documentaries, and cartoons. My best memory of that time was on my 13th birthday when the lights dimmed and the movie screen in our living room filled with the glorious vision of flying irons and toasters in Hardware Wars, a spoof of Star Wars that all the kids in my class had been wanting to see. We thought life was pretty good, and had no concept that our home entertainment options would get any better than a noisy, hot film projector set up on a rickety card table.

The first day of spring today was near perfect in our little corner of the world. The warm temperatures and sunny skies brought every kid in the neighborhood out of winter hiding to fill the park near our house. My energy levels were so high that I was able to clean out the entire garage in two hours while the kids played outside. A promising start to the new season!

Fathers have a new resource to become better at the most important job in their life. Dictionary For Dads is a web site that strives to help men make informed decisions based on education, research and practical experience. They believe that the label of "dad" is one which is earned, not one that is provided through birth. Check it out.

Our van is back from the body shop, and looking better than new. At least from the back. One nice thing about the whole ordeal is that the body shop detailed the van, inside and out. I try to find the silver lining. The one bad thing, besides the inconvenience, is that I am now paranoid about getting rear-ended again. Every time I stop at a traffic light now, my eyes quickly shift to the rear-view mirror to hope the approaching car knows not to plow into me.

Don't forget about my giveaway! If you'd like to win a copy of the brilliant new Gustafer Yellowgold CD/DVD set, leave a comment on Thursday's post. Here's a video of "Getting In A Treetop," my favorite song from the CD. It's a great soundtrack for the changing of the season from winter to spring.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Gustafer Yellowgold

The most unique musician on the kids' music scene today is Morgan Taylor.

He's the genius behind Gustafer Yellowgold, the musical phenomenon that is finding an audience among both children and adults.

What makes Taylor's music so appealing is the effortless blending of pop melodies and slightly absurd lyrics to tell a fantastical story about a little yellow creature, named Gustafer Yellowgold, who likes to make friends and jump on cakes, among many strange hobbies.

The recently released Mellow Fever is Taylor's third collection of songs about Gustafer, and it's his best yet.

The music is like a cross between The Beatles, Wilco, and Dr. Seuss. And what's even better is that every CD is accompanied by a DVD with charming hand-drawn (by Taylor) animated videos that illustrate the journey of little Gustafer as he meets some very odd characters, like a pterodactyl named Forrest Applecrumbie and a dragon named Asparagus.

If you've never bought children's music, then you need to start, and this is the CD to start with. It will open up a whole new world of fun and imagination to your kids. I can absolutely guarantee that everyone in your family will love these songs and videos. Even your teenagers will think Gustafer is cool.

Check out the Gustafer Yellowgold website to listen to tracks, watch videos, play games, and read more about Morgan Taylor.

I just happen to have a copy of the new Mellow Fever CD/DVD set to give away to one lucky blog reader. Simply leave a comment on this post, and a way to contact you. I'll pick a winner on Monday!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Green Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 16, 2009


The Lull

It's been slow around here.

There's a stillness hanging over my house that I know is just a lull between the busy indoor activities of winter and the pending explosion of outdoor activities that come with spring.

I know it's coming, because soccer registration was last week. That's always a sure sign.

I'm also taking stock of the kids' progress with their homeschooling curriculum. We need to gear things up and make a final push toward reaching our goals. Because there's no way I'm teaching school beyond May 29th.

My wife was hanging paint swatches in the living room, so I'm also foreseeing a great flurry of home improvement activity in the next few weeks.

There's the garden to plan. It's more complicated this year because I promised myself to build two-foot high garden boxes to better organize and control our crop.

And then there is spring-cleaning, which mostly means "the garage needs to be completely emptied and re-organized after a long winter of just throwing things into piles."

So, I'm going to enjoy this lull. Soon we'll be rushing headlong into the exhilarating days of spring, when new life finds us grinning at the world again.

The days will be packed, and I know I'll love it. But for now, for a few more days, I think I'll just sit back and wait.

What are you most looking forward to this spring?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Inspirational Stories

You have to be careful telling your kids funny stories from your life.

It just came up one night at dinner.

The time, back in college, when some friends and I stacked empty aluminum cans against some guy's dorm room door, completely filling the door frame from top to bottom.

I still remember the sound of a hundred cans clattering to the tile floor when he opened his door in the wee hours of the morning. Everybody in the building heard it.

It's a classic practical joke, and I told it in vivid detail to my kids. For a few minutes, they sat in awe of their daddy's comedy genius.

But, like I said, you have to be careful with these stories and what they might inspire.

Later that night, this is what I found in our hallway:

They grabbed stuff from every room in the house to build this. They included just about everything but the kitchen sink. Oh wait, that's in there too.

I didn't have the heart to tell them that the joke works best if your victim is on the other side of the door.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Why Did The Turkey Cross The Road?

Stupid turkeys.

I should've just run right over them.

A friend invited us up to Sandpoint on Saturday for a couple of hours of snow tubing at the Schweitzer Mountain ski area.

Sounded like fun. The kids have been working hard, more or less, in school, and I thought a day on the mountain would be a good way to say goodbye to winter.

Little did I know that winter wanted to say goodbye to us!

We had just set out from our friend's house, turning up the mountain road that leads to the ski resort, when a big flock of wild turkeys crossed the road. I tapped my brakes and came to a stop before hitting any of them.

But the woman who was following too close behind me wasn't so lucky. Nothing was going to stop the momentum of her massive Ford F-350 on that icy road. I'd like to report that she killed a few turkeys. Unfortunately, I was in her way and she slammed into the back of our mini-van.

Thankfully we're all okay. After checking for any bumps and bruises, we gathered insurance information and apologies.

And here's a shocker. Her insurance company, Safeco, called me twenty minutes later, on a Saturday, to give me all the necessary information for getting our van fixed up as quickly as possible. I can't remember the last time I dealt with any large company that worked with such efficiency and speed.

Even though the entire back door and side panels were crunched in, the van was still drivable, so we decided not to let the accident ruin our plans.

We continued up the mountain road, carefully watching for more turkeys, and found the Schweitzer ski area. I was ready to relax and enjoy watching the kids have fun on the tubing hill.

I'm happy to say they did have a great time. For close to two hours the kids romped and slid as a gentle snow fell all around us. Crushed cars and near-sighted turkeys were forgotten.

Just as we finished tubing, the magical winter wonderland suddenly turned into a furious blizzard howling down upon us, and we could hardly see ten feet in front of us as we walked to Thor's Pizza for dinner. I thought we'd be stuck on the mountain all night, but then I forgot how fickle Idaho weather can be. An hour later we were driving back down to Sandpoint under clear skies.

No turkeys were spotted on the way home. But all this week, as we deal with the annoyance of being without our van while it's repaired, I'll be paying special tribute to my feathered friends.

Turkey sandwiches, turkey legs, turkey soup. Heck, I think I'll even get some Friskies Turkey and Giblets Dinner for the cats!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Wordless Wednesday

Made on my iPhone with the ColorSplash app.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


True Colors

My kids have been dressing themselves for a long time. I can't even remember the last time they needed help.

The problem is, they've inherited my fashion sense. Meaning, they don't have much of one.

If my daughter comes out of her room in a pink polka-dot blouse with green-striped sweatpants, I don't even blink an eye.

It's not unusual for my wife to exclaim on a daily basis, "You let her wear that?!"

Coordinating colors and styles are the last things on my mind.

It wasn't always like this.

Back in the day, I was quite the sharp dressed young lad, setting the kindergarten trends with my bold choice of colors and matching accessories.

Here I am, a 5-year-old fashion maven, wowing the crowds at Yellowstone with my bright yellow ensemble, clearly outshining my similarly-styled brother and sister. Apparently we didn't want to just enjoy the scenery. We wanted to be the scenery.

Kids don't dress up like this anymore. At least mine don't. We wear what's comfortable and clean. I don't put much thought into the appearance of my children beyond that.

Is that just me and my lack of fashion sense? Or do you feel the same?