Monday, November 24, 2008


You may have noticed some pictures of food interspersed with photos of the twins on the slide show. That's because my lovely wife is not only a photographer, but also one heck of a cook, as evidenced by my growing waistline (and by my growing collection of sansabelt slacks). She is also a frugal shopper and manages to feed our family of four on a modest average budget of $400 a month. How does she do it? Well, she's started a blog to inform the world! Read all about it here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


"Blaine, you need to go talk to these people. They're CRAZY!" said the waitress. "They're upset because the hostess called them 'you guys', and one of the ladies asked her 'Do I look like I have a penis?' and I tried to tell them that she didn't mean anything by it and the man waved his finger in my face and started yelling at me! They are CRAZY!"

Thus began one of the most embarrassing faux pas in my career. I approached the table and found a very old but animated silver haired man, his equally aged wife dressed in a dashiki, and their daughter, granddaughter and infant grandson. The old man did all of the talking, shushing the females when they tried to interject various facts and opinions. He invited me to sit down, which, of course, I did.

I politely asked him to tell me what was going on. "She mistakenly referred to us as 'you guys'. Now, when men grow breasts and are able to birth children, that's the day I leave this country. Just like I would never say to her 'Hey, man, can you come over here?', because she is a woman, not a man. What are they teaching our children when a woman has a sex change operation, becomes pregnant, and then goes on Oprah as a man, showing off his pregnant belly?" It was a bit of a non-sequitur if you ask me, but I went along with it for fear of further upsetting this grumpy old fellow.

I nodded politely and agreed with everything he said. I offered him my apology, but he said I had no reason to apologize for my staff's stupidity. I assured him that I would talk to my staff about being more professional when they address our guests, and set off to the hostess stand to do just that. The hostess was understanding and apologetic, adding that it was a common term used to address a group, and one that I was probably guilty of using myself. I returned to the table to let him know the situation had been addressed.

"The hostess wasn't the problem. She apologized for her actions. It's that waitress who smiled when I told her that we were not all 'guys'. Now, I can wipe that smile off of her face, but I'm gonna let you handle it, instead." I truly believed that he could indeed wipe that smile off of her face, probably with his belt, or perhaps with more drastic measures like Samuel L. Jackson in "Black Snake Moan".

Off I go to address the waitress, with similar results as the hostess. Now I've had two conversations about being professional, and the table in question has had time to eat their meal. It was time for me to swing back by the table and offer dessert on the house like some kind of hero. And that's when it happened.

"How was your dinner?" I asked. "Would you guys like some dessert on us?" I blurted out. I could feel the blood gather in my cheeks. The man peered over his glasses at me, silently. His gaze said much more than words could have. "I'm so sorry. I'm just going to leave the table before I get into any more trouble, " I managed to mumble. I ran into the kitchen, blushing with embarrassment to tell the hostess and the waitress of my blunder. Once I gathered my composure, I returned to the table again, this time with my tail between my legs.

"I just wanted to tell you that I am truly sorry and completely embarrassed by my slip of the tongue. I would like to buy your dinner tonight."

"Thank you son, but that's not necessary." The old man gently arose and shook my hand. "It takes a man to come back here and admit he was wrong. We will pay our way tonight, and we will come back. Next time you see me, if you still want to, I'll let you buy my dinner then. In the meantime, you've got some work to do." He added, "We'll see how you do next time." That last statement sounded more like a threat than a promise, but at last they were gone, and thankfully so.

As I wiped the sweat from my brow, there were a few things this encounter assured me of:
1. They will be back.
2. They will be referred to as "guys".
3. I will not have such an easy time next time. And...
4. Old people are crazy.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Jack has discovered his pooper. During diaper changes, he seems unable to refrain from sticking his finger in it. I wouldn't be worried, but it's one of the fingers he's fond of sucking on a regular basis. The wife is convinced that he will contract some terrible disease, like ringworm, or roto-virus. I think he must be some kind of prodigy, as I don't remember discovering my pooper until I was three or so.

All of my revelations seemed to come in the bathtub. That's when I had the time to really study my own body. When I was eight, for example, I discovered my urethra. Oh, sure I had been aware for some time that there was a hole at the end of my pee pee that expelled urine, sometimes at inopportune moments. But on that day, I thought, "If stuff can come out of it, can't stuff go in it?" So, on a whim, I decided to fill up an empty squirt bottle with dirty bath water, line up the holes, and let 'er rip.

Keep in mind that this was eight year old dirty bath water. The kind that leaves a ring around the tub and makes your grandmother complain endlessly while she scrubs the porcelain with Brillo pads and Comet on her sexagenarian hands and knees. Full of bacteria and germs and quite possibly some parasites of unknown origins. This was actually fun for awhile and captivated my attention for three or four full squirts.

The ramifications could not be foreseen by my eight year old brain. I simply lacked the intuitiveness to realize that some orifices should forever remain as "exit only." Less than forty-eight hours later, I realized that this had been a terrible mistake, a horrific miscalculation, a misguided experiment gone awry. I had given myself a kidney infection.

There appeared to be only one symptom, and thankfully so, because it was the single most painful sensation I had experienced up to that point in my young life. It was as though every time I peed, I was peeing red hot molten burning long grains of brown wild rice. It was so bad that I didn't want to pee at all. And yet, I had to pee all the time. I simply could not hold it. It kept coming and coming. It was as if I had drank fourteen jabenero beers, if there were such a thing. It was, in a word, awful.

The only good thing that came out of this experience is that I got to get out of school for a day and spend time with my Dad at the doctor's office. But, of course, the only way my case could be diagnosed was for me to pee in a cup, which I was sure would melt when filled up with molten rice. It didn't, and I lived to tell the tale. So now, I have a choice to make. Do I try to keep my son from making the same mistakes that I have made, or do I let him learn from his own mistakes? After all, isn't that just a part of growing up? I certainly think so. And besides, what could be a better birthday gift for a two year old than a squirt bottle, really? Knock yourself out, kid. Nobody will know but you, me and the doctor. Unless you decide one day to blog about it, that is.


Last week we took the kids up to the mountains in North Georgia to see all the pretty colors of Fall. There is a quaint little town called Helen with Bavarian architecture and lots of kitschy shops which is really fun to visit. We had some trepidations about leaving the strollers behind, although we were miles from home before the thought even crossed our minds.

We had intended to visit Charlemagne's Kingdom, a model train museum of gigantic proportions which can be viewed from above on a catwalk perimeter. There must be scores of trains of all shapes and sizes going through tunnels and over bridges, carrying lumber and freight and passengers alike over miles of track and mountainous terrain. Not to mention that the gift shop is well stocked with every kind of toy train imaginable. Have I mentioned that Jack absolutely loves trains? Charlemagne's Kingdom is open to the public six days a week, and only closes on Wednesdays, which, of course, is the day we chose to go.

Luckily for us, the toddlers were oblivious to our disappointment and very open to the idea of a picnic at the park by the river. We watched an old couple hold hands on a swing overlooking the water as the kids tried hard to pick the jelly off of their sandwiches, leaving behind the carbohydrates of bread and the protein of peanut butter. Jack quickly found a colony of termites with which to play, stomping and stamping to his heart's delight. Ella was much more subdued, taking in the natural beauty of her surroundings. We all enjoyed running around in the wide open spaces underneath a sky blue sky and surrounded by the red and gold leaves of Autumn.

Then it was off to the toy store, where Jack quickly found... you guessed it! Trains! Within seconds he had every locomotive in stock lined up in single file, with a couple of school buses thrown in for good measure. I have never seen a happier kid in my entire life. We must have spent an hour and a half there and he never left the trains.

Ella, on the other hand, had more fun playing with the signs advertising "50% off" than any of the toys they had to offer. That is, until we found a musical cylinder attached to a long handle that could be pushed around like a vacuum cleaner. Then we couldn't drag her off the front porch, going back and forth with that thing clanking out quarter notes by the dozen. She is by far the most musical of my two toddlers and enjoys singing and playing instruments, so I was not surprised by her toy selection.

Then we went to Anna Ruby Falls, twin waterfalls that lay at the end of about a mile of paved trails up the side of a mountain. The twins marched on like good little soldiers, running much of the way and shouting, "Up, up, up!" as they made their ascent. We stopped along the way to make friends with the other hikers and let Mom catch up, and Jack made it to the top all by himself, where he interrupted two young lovers enjoying the view, perhaps reminding them that a little hanky panky and nine months can have some very sobering, if not adorable, consequences. Ella needed a little assistance toward the top, and flat refused to walk back down by herself. Even so, it was a beautiful day, and filled with pride I could hardly feel the weight of my little girl on my shoulders as we trudged back down the mountain toward the car and then home to play with our new toys.


Well, we converted the cribs into toddler beds today. Jack has become a skillful crib climber in recent weeks, and the wife was afraid he might somehow hurt himself. He and I know the truth, however; Jack is indeed invincible. But in order to placate the wife, I removed the railing and made the cribs more easily accessible for both of our toddler twins.

In the process, I learned a few things. First, I must be getting older, because after two years I still had the instructions for the cribs. I also referred to them before beginning the task and found them quite useful, which I never would have done when I was young. I would like to add that I am not yet old enough to become completely stupefied by the instructions, but I must acknowledge that at some point in the future an instruction booklet may leave me disoriented and confused beyond reason. I am merely older, not yet old.

Secondly, toddlers are hard on consumer products. I followed the instruction manual's directions and checked for loose screws, only to find that every screw had become loose and that a few of them had backed out completely. I shouldn't have been at all surprised, considering the daily torture inflicted upon those cribs by my children's feverish bouncing. Still, I should perhaps be thankful that the sound of squeaking bed springs in the middle of the night doesn't yet alarm me. Twelve years from now, I'm sure it will send me running for my shotgun and place quite a strain on my relationship with my precious Ella. I am reminded that these are the good times.

We also took the opportunity to clean under and behind the cribs, a task that we obviously don't do often enough. We had to empty the vacuum cleaner halfway through the mission. Items found included: trains, balls, dryer sheets, pajama bottoms, hair clips, books, clothes hangers, and one sippy cup containing a microcosm so ancient and advanced that it actually scoffed at us for still burning fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gasses.

The result of this endeavor was actually quite predictable. Jack, the consummate napper, found his way into the toddler bed and nodded off to sleep without incident, cuddled up with Mister Bear and shrouded in his favorite blue blanket, pointer and index finger of his left hand securely in his mouth where they belong like a sword in a scabbard. Ella, the Sandman scorner, played and played, fighting and railing against sleep for as long as she could, until her vigilance wore off and unconsciousness overtook her in the middle of the floor as she clutched her pink blanket and covered her red head with her favorite book.

And so it goes that another milestone has come to pass. We have foregone the cribs and opted for big kid beds. It seems like yesterday that they were turning over for the first time, and then getting teeth, but now this. When did they get so big? How did they grow so fast? At this rate, they'll be off to college in the blink of an eye. Which reminds me, I'd better get some shells for that old shotgun before it's too late.