Monster Jam!!

Okay, wait… that picture was just the bait to get you to keep reading…. I mean… who can deny the adorableness shown here? The kids too, of course.

I found out recently that Monster Jam (the Triple Threat Series!!!) was going to be in town soon. By “in town”, I mean about 45 minutes away, but who’s keeping track? When I mentioned to Sarah that I wanted to take Tyler to it, she asked why I wasn’t going to bring Audrey. I had assumed that it wouldn’t be of interest to her, but boy was I wrong. Sarah wasn’t interested in all the loud noises and mayhem, so three tickets were promptly purchased…. then…. we…. had…. to… wait… forever! But finally, the day arrived. The kids woke up a little slowly on this day, as evidenced here, which has the potential to cast a very dark cloud on the entire day…. as any parent could attest to… but some delicious Raisin Bran took care of those concerns, because they were all smiles just shortly afterwards.


They could. not. wait. to see Grave Digger!

For an event like this, I can’t imagine sitting in the first available rows. Needing to sweep your view from left to right just sounds ugh, but maybe that’s the adult in me talking (get off my lawn you brats!!). So, we got the family-friendly priced (i.e. cheap, because I’m a working class person!) seats and had a fantastic view.


Audrey took an interesting approach with her ear muffs and pigtails, but darnit she was adorable!


Audrey was VERY excited to find out that two of the drivers were women. Above is “El Toro Loco”, driven by a woman with bright purple hair. Given Audrey’s affinity for pink and purple hair, there was an immediate connection.

El Toro Loco didn’t disappoint during the “wheelie” competition, either. Well, not until her truck just completely shut down and had to be towed off the arena. Video below, click the play button.

And Grave Digger? Poor, poor Grave Digger? The Monster Jam gods were not looking favorably upon the obvious crowd favorite. During the donut competition… well… this happened… click play again.

They got him stood back up but then this happened during the freestyle competition….

The only thing that could possibly redeem this travesty would be if something bad happened to Max-D, the only other truck to give Grave Digger a run for his money (and currently number two in the overall standings for this season). The gods smiled upon Tyler’s wish (even though Max-D still won the day’s events).

The drive home wasn’t bad at all either.

Sadly Amazing

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Has it really been a year and a half since I’ve posted something here? Is anybody even listening any longer?

It’s unfortunate, because there’s been a heck of a lot going on over the last 18 months. We moved from Indiana to Michigan, although I’ve posted about that already… I think. Yeah, definitely. I’d like to say that we’re completely settled into our house, but we still have boxes here and there – you know, against the wall of the basement, in the corner of the bedroom, tucked away in a closet, up in the rafters of the garage – with…. with… well, with stuff inside them. Just… stuff.

I’m also back in school, completely determined to finish up my degree, for a number of reasons. First, and foremost, to set an example for the kiddos. It’s important for them to know the value of higher education and that it’s going to be expected of them to do the same. Lead by example! Next, because there’s not much more I can do at work without a degree. I love what I do and do what I love, but the only way to open up more opportunities is by completing what I’ve started. Lastly, because if I don’t do it now, I never will. It’s hard enough to dedicate the time now with everything going on. I can only imagine how hard it’d be if I waited until the kids are in gymnastics, soccer, baseball, or dance that require my presence multiple days a week.

There’s so much I want to share… so much that I can’t convey with a two or three sentence status update on FaceBook. Like, about that time just a couple weeks ago when Audrey, three and a half (if I don’t mention “and a half”, she gets very stern with me and corrects me of her proper age), decided that she was going to perform some complex math problems. I’m very proud at the intelligence that both of my kids exhibit, so imagine my joy, and overwhelming pride when Audrey lays this gem of an addition problem on me: “Daddy plus crazy equals fart.”

But, like I said way up there at the top… there’s been a heck of a lot going on over the last 18 months. It’s so terribly difficult to sit down, reflect on the day, and spew something coherent and, hopefully, witty into a blog post with… well… with so much stuff going on… Just… stuff.

Talking about size

What Audrey wants you to know is that we got to hang out with my parents recently. We went to a science museum for kids in Lansing, Michigan. The museum is called Impression 5, and I highly recommend it.

After the kiddos fully tired us adults out, we went to dinner at a nearby buffet-style restaurant. There wasn’t a lot of seating, so we grabbed the first table we saw that was large enough for the six of us.

Sadly, this table was RIGHT next to the fountain pop machine.

So there’s two problems with this situation.

1) We get front row seats to all walks of life.
2) Tyler simply CAN NOT talk quietly.

While sitting at the table that was way too close to the pop machine, Tyler looked at me with a grin across his face.

“Daddy,” Tyler says, much too loudly, “do you see that really big, really fat man with the really big, really fat belly?”

I’ve no doubt that the man heard Tyler, just as I’ve no doubt that every table surrounding us heard too. I couldn’t stop myself from smiling and giggling just a little bit as I attempted to tell Tyler “You can’t say that, buddy.”

I couldn’t be mad at him. When we watch cartoons or read books where there is a comically large person, we say something along the lines of what he said. He didn’t say it with any malicious intent and wasn’t making fun of the guy. We was, quite simply, stating what he saw…. very loudly.

And, in Tyler’s defense… that man was very, very large.

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My Munchkin

Tyler was a monster when he was twenty months old.

Audrey is a peanut.

Audrey had her well-baby checkup recently. While she is on the growth chart… she is only barely on the growth chart. My little, tiny munchkin is merely in the 12th percentile for growth and weight. So, if 100 little girls lined up that were the same age as Audrey, and they were sorted according to size, Audrey would be the 12th in line, with 88 girls bigger than her.

She is absolutely one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever laid eyes on

She pooped in the tub a couple days ago. Her and Tyler were in the tub having a grand ol’ time together. Tyler looked over and said “There’s something gross in here” and reached for something that confused me.

If you were to see an alligator sitting on your couch, your brain would shut down for a moment so that it could process what it was seeing.

What I was seeing was a little turd floating up in the bathwater. My brain wasn’t ready for that, so it quit working for a few seconds. Luckily for Tyler, it came back to life about half a second before Tyler grabbed the stink-nugget with his fingers.

“Ohhhhhhhhhh….. Audrey.” I honestly don’t know what else I said, but it was in a tone that Sarah recognized as “not-very-good”.

I grabbed Tyler, and yanked him out of the tub before the poo-tainted water got to him. I wrapped him in a towel and told him something like “stay away.”

I grabbed Audrey – by the part of her body that wasn’t in the sewage – and lifted her straight up… and then I froze. I hadn’t thought my plan through and I had no idea what my next steps were… So I just stood there… unable to do anything.

Poop and vomit disgust me. Especially when they are somewhere they aren’t supposed to be. You know, like in a bathtub. When something like this happens – and very luckily for my general health and well-being, this has only happened 3 times in the last 5 years – I can’t cope or function. I become completely dependent on Sarah to give me some guidance on how to do simple things, like breathing or swallowing.

So, I turned to look at Sarah with nothing less than an expression of utter bewilderment and fear.

“Sit her on the toilet,” she said.

And that’s what I did.

Then, I looked in the tub full of water and toys, and poop. It wasn’t all solid and it wasn’t all diarrhea. But it was all disgusting. I locked my gaze on the drain. I just stared at it. Somehow, the plug had to be pulled. I looked at it longer and prayed for a miracle that never came. I flicked my eyes to my left hand then back to the drain… and I was scared.

But I did it. I stared into the water, waiting for the poo-sludge to move around just enough to give me a slight opening to the drain. I reached in, quickly and deliberately, and popped it.

And then I did what any good husband would do… I washed my hands and occupied the kids while Sarah put all the tainted toys in a plastic bag and scooped all the poop into the toilet.

Easy with the insults, buddy

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I give Tyler a lot of freedom. So much so that I’m sure I get judged by others on my parenting style. There are a few things I know, however.

  1. Tyler is extremely smart. He can write letters, some words, asks constantly how to spell words, holds full conversations with others and is thoughtful and capable of making deductions based on the context of a conversation.
  2. Tyler has a fantastic imagination. He is constantly imagining up new super heroes, creates “robots” with Legos, all with interesting powers and abilities, yet still understands that Iron Man, Thor, and Spiderman are only pretend characters that do not exist in real life.
  3. Tyler is very conscientious. He typically is very aware of his surroundings. He understands when things are too high to jump from, he keeps his distance from anything we’ve defined as dangerous (fire, stove, knives), and even wears goggles when “helping” me work on some of my wood projects.

I sometimes feel like I need to justify the way I parent my kids. Nothing is outwardly spoken, but I sometimes have this tickle in the back of my mind telling me that I’m being judged. And it’s true. I know I’m being judged… you know why? Because I’m likely judging you on your parenting skills as well. True story.

A few days ago, I decided it was time to put up the clothesline that Sarah asked for. Tyler and I went to Lowes to pick up some lumber and supplies for the project. They were also having a “Build and Grow” session that day, so Tyler got to build a Luxury Assault Vehicle out of wood and nails. When we got home with the clothesline supplies, I had some cutting, chiseling, and hammering to do. I had to manually cut some of the pieces of wood with a saw, which Tyler found quite interesting.

“Daddy, can I use the saw too?”

I showed Tyler how to use the saw and explained that the teeth on the saw are very sharp and would cut him if he wasn’t careful. What could possibly go wrong, right?

I got busy with a hammer and chisel, notching the wood so that the 4×4 cross member would fit snugly into the 4×4 upright. I looked over towards Tyler to see how his piece of scrap wood was coming along.

“Daddy, why’s it only scratching the wood?”

“Well, sawing a piece of wood is a little bit hard and takes a lot of muscle and work, buddy. Keep trying and it will eventually cut into the wood. If it doesn’t, that’s okay too, right?”

“Right daddy.”

I drilled holes to hold the two pieces together, and became quite frustrated when I realized that the carriage bolts I bought weren’t long enough. So, I used a spade bit to bore into the wood about an inch. I glanced over to Tyler to see the saw sitting on the ground and him holding his knee.

“Are you okay, buddy? Did you hurt yourself?”

And he was okay… until his knee started to bleed. He squeezed his knee harder and started to yell. You’d think he’d just performed a self-amputation as much as he was yelling. And let’s be honest here. Blood is scary to a little kid. I’ll concede this point, but c’mon man; this was akin to a little tiny, itty bitty, teenie weenie paper cut. One drop of blood, maximum. I’m not accusing him of being a sissy – far from it – but he seriously needed to man up here.

I then had to spend the next three of four minutes trying to calm him down and explain that one drop of blood was not a good reason to cry. I explained that sometimes accidents happen and it was a good thing that this was just a little accident and that he was able to learn that tools can be dangerous even when we’re careful. He finally began to calm and was soon playing around again.

Audrey even helped build the clothesline posts, handing me hooks and pulleys when I asked for them. After a few hours of hard work, cutting, drilling, building, digging, and cementing, Tyler had the bright idea of going out for dinner. We all settled on some T.G.I. Friday’s and piled in the SUV.

After a nice dinner, we talked while driving back to the house. I explained to Sarah exactly what happened and my conversation with Tyler. I spoke loud enough so that Tyler could listen, as we are wont to do in these situations. This way, we are all on the same page.

“It hurt him. But after talking, it turns out that it only hurt him a little bit. Not a lot. He was a little bit scared because it made him bleed, but I told him that I cut myself sometimes too and it’s okay.”

Sarah replied, saying that she was happy things were okay and that Tyler wasn’t hurt too badly. It feels silly to speak in language and tones that are aimed at a toddler when actually speaking with an adult, but it’s helped us raise a very smart little one, so…..

“Yes, and after a few minutes, it didn’t even hurt him any more. I guess the cut on his leg was no big deal.”

“Daddy,” Tyler chimed in from the back seat, “your FACE is no big deal!!!”