Friday, December 31, 2010

Mumms the word

I can only wish that my morning had started with three glasses of bubbly. Instead, I got three bubbly boys who do not yet comprehend simple concepts like or 'it's still dark outside' and 'go away'.

After being forcibly scraped out of bed by a trio of wild miscreants, I was dragged into the kitchen and told that if I didn't make them 100 pancakes, I would not be loved anymore. I thought about asking them if they jumped on the heads of people they didn't love at 6:00 in the AM, but I guess given the choice, I'd rather make pancakes. Is that the door bell?

Sami has an eerie knack for knowing exactly when the griddle is just hot enough to sizzle bacon. He's either got the nose of a bear or he's planted a video camera in our kitchen. I originally got freaked out, but the whole surveillance thing might not be a bad idea for those rare occasions when Angie decides to don an apron and wreak havoc on food.

Sami of course denied everything and arrived under the pretense of building the race car track that Santa had given to David. The same one that Papa was too stupid to build, according to Mrs. Santa. Well, excuse me for not being able to read Chinese.

I took inner comfort that Sami also had trouble with the Mandarin dialect racing slang.

After trying for over an hour to get the Flaming Loop of Death to even stand up, Sami decided that a more traditional race track would be more fun. Yeah, it's called a rectangle, Sami.

David was amazed at Sami's geometrical mastery, but I think he was even more impressed that the cars kept flying off the table on every curve. Sami wasn't as thrilled, though, and began cursing foreign countries for everything from their race cars that race too fast to their race car tracks that don't keep the track of their cars.

Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of frustration, I decided to check on the ladies. See, in order for hairy-chested men to have enough time to build up a race car track, you need to first distract the female types. Otherwise, they just yap in your ear the whole time, making silly comments like 'the loopy-loop thing will never work' or 'the angle is too tight; the cars will just fly off when they hit the curve'.

To avoid unnecessary and unwanted preachings on the inner workings of race track building, I tasked the females with building up David's mega-mongoid five-hundred-piece castle that warrants another beating for Santa, if he's ever man enough to show his jolly fat face. Don't ask me how or why, but it worked.

When I saw how nice the ladies were playing together, I stole the moment to go grocery shopping. We had hungry mouths showing up later and I needed to put food on the table.

One of the mouths that showed up was Alessio, who apparently thought it was necessary to show his toughness by ramming his face full speed into the corner of our dish cabinet within two minutes of arriving. David and Tom noted the lack of tears, then checked out his fresh L-shaped wound on his cheek and nodded their approval. He's cool, he can stay.

Even when I did put food on the table, certain Italian wannabes balked at the idea of eating raw flesh.

It wasn't until I explained to the Principessa the concept of using fondue pots to cook the raw meat that she got her hunger on.

After chowing down, we normally have a show. They are often loud and almost always end with David doing his patented 'butt boogie' dance. Tonight was only slightly different - this one ended in a bang that left permanent burn marks on our dining room table.

In all fairness, Sarah did warn in advance that maybe we shouldn't light fireworks indoors at all, let alone on our dining room table. The problem was - she's got an X chromosome and Angie has long ago trained me to ignore perfectly sound advice from their kind, even when it's exploding in my face.

At least Angie showed some concern for our offspring when she forced David to sport safety goggles made of highly flammable cardboard and taught him the fine art of squishing a dragon's head.

There's a parental high when you teach your offspring something new, but I think Angie took it a couple puffs too far.

She swears that there was a confetti spiral in her hands just seconds before, but I've heard the same song and dance, new year after new year.

Apparently, David also grew tired of Mama's tiny bag of party tricks and decided to climb up the side of our entertainment stand.

I'm not sure why he thought this would be a good idea, but I've known David for over four years and have long ago given up on trying to comprehend his complete lack of thought processes. I turned to Angie, on the off-shot that she might have some intellectual insight into what makes David tick.

Okay, guess not. But you have fun, Mama.

I left hysterical woman to her belly clutching and checked my watch. It was almost game time, so I rounded up my noise makers.

I personally think we are setting a dangerous precedent. If I had my way, the kids would only 'discover' New Year's Eve when they turn 18. Of course, if we had it my way, Angie probably would have divorced me long ago for moral and ethical reasons that would certainly be submissible in any court of law. Prove it; I deny everything.

Tommy was the youngest of the loud noise makers, but he was also the most amazed. There is certainly that magical something that you can only discover once. Tonight was Tommy's turn and his vocal chords were more than eager to announce to the world his newfound revelation.

That's right, Thomas Quentin Johnson, age two and a pain, discovered tonight the unforgettable joy of watching 'flaming bird-planes' explode in the sky.

Angie also discovered the unforgivable joy of being locked out of our apartment at 12:30 AM with five overcharged kids and four tipsy adult types eager to get their poker on.

Cries of 'Didn't I ask you if you had keys?' did little to faze Miss 'I'm right'. Luckily, Mr. 'Freakin' Sexy' was suave enough to not trust little Miss Right and had packed a spare set of keys before embarking on our midnight exposé.

With one rescue under my belt, I delegated the mission of tuckering out semi-loud villains to my red-headed semi-Italian sidekick.

As Super-Sarah was off fighting mischief, I was busy counting poker chips. Not that it mattered, though. Angie and John quickly took over the pot, leaving others to watch their meagre piles dwindle.

Angie only wished that the evening had ended with a winning hand. Instead, John's two pairs of queens over jacks smacked Angie's two queens in the face and laughed at her second pair of measly twos.

I may have instigated it, but John's chuckling prompted the loser to start explaining to her opponent simple concepts like 'it's still dark outside' and 'go away'.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That we stay up as so late as you and Mama.
David: When we do the fire-thing on the table and BOOM!
Tom: It was so much funny, Papa - so much funny.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When Alessio smack his face on that thing by the kitchen.
David: When we need to go to bed because I not so sleepy.
Tom: The tree on fire.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: Sleep.
David: To do another fire-bomb, maybe in the bath tub.
Tom: You tickle me belly.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Punch

It only looks like Barbara and Armin are taking the boys out for an early morning sled ride. What you have to remember, though, is that our last name is Johnson, which carries with it an unwanted but unavoidable obligation to be late to any and every event that Angie has ever planned. But who's to blame?

Sure I could point fingers at Angie, who needed two and half hours to wax her fingernails. Or maybe it was Angie, who must have read somewhere that blow drying your hair for three hours helps prevent wrinkles. It could even have been Angie, who suddenly decided that it was absolutely critical to rearrange the sock drawer and alphabetize our soups. It doesn't really matter - I'm not one to judge; the fact was, we showed up for our fun-filled day of sledding shortly before sunset.

Luckily, our boys don't care about silly concepts like 'daytime' or 'sunlight'.

I should point out that this was their first slide. It got so dark that even the flash didn't help with the subsequent four hundred runs. You might ask if Angie had joined us on the icy knoll. Instead of answering, I would simply thank you for disproving the 'there are no stupid questions' rule.

We made it back to Casa de Barb to find a warm and rather happy Angie. The 'warm' was clear to everyone, since she had self-sacrificingly volunteered to stay in the nice heated apartment to watch Tom sleep while the rest of us played midnight sledding. The 'happy' became clear when I discovered that Angie had discovered Barb's warm punch at some point during our happy little ice capade.

I almost grabbed a mug and joined the happy siblings, but then I saw this lovely gem.

WHAT in the name of all that is HOLY is THAT??!! My second thought was that someone should really start a group to stop the unethical treatment of fruit. I mean, really - what did that poor orange ever do to Barbara to warrant such cruelty?

After bearing witness to the unsolicited sequel to Clockwork Orange, I decided to go check on the boys.

At first jump, I was convinced that David had somehow gotten his hands on some of Mama's happy juice. I almost left the funny looking creatures to their own devices, but the thought of returning to the Little Shop of Fruit kept me focused on the mission of putting wild animals to sleep.

If you told me to jump, I'd tell you to go pound sand. If you told me that there is no way I can get three hyperactive animals under control in less than 20 minutes, I'd take that challenge. Then I would declare myself the funk soul brother and tell you to check me out now.

Please don't ask about Tom's obvious heritage with ostriches; I've learned long ago not to bring up Angie's college days.

When a less than large, flightless bird awoke from it's slumber the next morning, it's Mama decided that a freezing-cold repeat of the night before made so much more sense that warming up it's young with pancakes and syrup.

Not surprisingly, Angie's cold logic paid dirt when it came to Tommy's amusement factor. He took exactly ONE snow plow trip with Mother before his lungs quite loudly convinced his nostrils that they didn't enjoy being packed with snow. Had Angie's plan been to shy the not-so-shy boy away from white powdery substances - GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLL!

You might wonder where Armin was on day two. I didn't. Neither did Barbara or Angie, but that's not really the point. We (Angie) had stuck him on 'Peter & David' detail. The problem was that, in addition to finger deficit, Armin has a bad back. I'm not even sure if this is true, but that didn't stop Angie's logic from convincing her weirdness that pulling Peter and David around would be medicinal for him and his decrepit spine.

After an hour of 'treatment', someone looked ready for a medicinal puff after a double dose of the Zoo. I won't name names of course; it would be too embarrassing.

There's safety in numbers, or so they say.

Looks more like 'crazy in numbers' if you ask me. But who's to blame?

Sure, I could point fingers at Angie, who became certifiable seven and a half years ago with the words 'I do'. Or maybe it was Angie, who sneezes at the sun and has an extreme addiction to cucumbers. It could even be Angie, who is related to a woman who tortures fruit. It doesn't really matter - I'm not one to judge; the fact was, we ended our fun-filled day of sledding with a memory that warmed me up almost as much as Barbie's happy punch.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That I go down the slide on me own.
David: Papa, you know - the sled on the ice and whoosh, I so fast.
Tom: I was laughing like this - hee, hee.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When David keep saying everything that I say.
David: When we go home after so short.
Tom: When I cry.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: Build a cave.
David: Play with and Mama a game where I the winner.
Tom: Grams and Opa and a book.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bang! Bang! You're crazy!

There's always that kid. You know the one. You're nice to them, you give them gifts, you play with them; you might even let them sleep over at your house from time to time. Then one day, out the freakin' blue, he whips out a pistol and puts a cap in you. I hate pre-teens.

Before the underage gang shooting, Angie and I were busy entertaining other strange guests.

While Kika was flashing her rather interesting 'frozen ballerina' pose to Angie, I was downstairs keeping an eye on Sami.

'On Sami?'
you ask. 'You mean David, right?'

No, actually. I really do mean Sami. See, I have discovered over the years that Sami has been directly responsible for some incidents where the burden of blame had somehow inadvertently landed on David's shoulders. Like that time when David tried inserting a computer mouse cable into our cat's rear port because Sami didn't quite grasp that a three-year old couldn't quite grasp his twisted humor. He's also been known to hang David's bicycle on trees and other events that I won't detail here out of fear that it might encourage other insane Godfathers.

At least today's lesson was not your typical Sami outing. This may or may not have had something to do with a certain hairy-chested and rather muscular chaperone that was keeping a vigilant watch over Sami's every move.

At one point the Incredible Hawk witnessed Sami encouraging David to water down the section of sidewalk used mostly by elders to gain access to our building. As funny as it would have been to watch old-timers tumble around on ice, I did intervene.

After icing a few trash cans beyond recognition, we parted ways with the Godfather and headed to Artin's for a rather loud gift frenzy.

Tommy didn't quite get what was going on. He kept trying to give everyone else's gifts to Sharpur and got angry with Artin for trying to open the gift we gave him. David kept running around screaming his self-invented nickname for Sharpur.

'SHAMPOO! Hahahaha! Hey, Shampoo! Mr. Shampoo head. Hahahahahaha!'

Sharpur claimed afterwards that he simply thought David was an oversized slipper that we had given him. Doesn't really matter, but I'm fairly certain he's not too keen on the nickname. Whatever, Shampoo.

Every now and then Angie shocks me by doing something in public that she would never dream of doing in the privacy of our own home.

That's right - sewing! Apparently one of the boys had a snagged sweater and I came in the room to find Little Miss Homemaker busy at work.

'What in the sweet hell??!! Are you sewing?'


'You know how to sew?!'


There was a tone in her short and simple answers that my brain probably would have picked up on had it not been so flabbergasted. I have thrown away so many shirts over the years because of rips and tears (mostly in the bicep region). And coats!! I pitched several of my favorite jackets because of a tiny hole in one of the pockets.

The discovery of Angie's unknown talent actually led to a self-discovery of sorts. My brain is pretty talented when it comes to witty comments, but absolute crap when it comes to defending clever retorts that were made to irritated seamstresses. Who knew?

The time between Christmas and New Year's is normally reserved for visiting friends, exchanging gifts, and forgiving loved ones for accidentally calling into question certain household management skills. Angie decided that two out of three was sufficient and we stopped by Ute and Alex's bearing presents.

Their apartment, like ours, has high ceilings. Their apartment, like ours, had a Christmas tree. Okay, theirs actually touched the ceiling, whereas ours was about as tall as David, but who cares?

Oh, that's right - Tommy does. It may have been the overload of an exciting day without a power nap that caused the meltdown, but it may also have been the humongoid tree that Ute and Alex had crammed into their apartment that made ours look like a vertically challenged Lilliputian living in Smurf village. Thanks again, tree-braggarts!

After explaining to Tommy that he didn't miss out on any potential gifts that he might have gotten had our tree been a showcase to giant people, the ladies decided to have coffee and gossip.

'So, what did your husband get you?'

The dual 'cat-look' captured here would explain why Alex and I quietly disappeared to go check out his son's room. He had posters of beer hanging up, so he was cool in my book from the get-go.

When Alex and I returned from admiring what we would probably have both gladly exchanged for the coffee we were holding, I found Peter making David smile for a change.

Not smiling was Mama, who had just about reached her limits with Tommy's screechery.

It probably didn't help that the hot cameraman could barely hold the camera while chuckling and pointing fingers. Luckily, said camera guy is also wiser than grasshoppers and decided to go check on the boys.

At first glance, it looked cute - David, snuggled up on the sofa. It wasn't until I noticed Peter's flailing foot and heard muffled screaming that I realized why David was smiling so contently.

It didn't take long for Peter to express his dislike at being smothered by his younger brother. I am Peter, hear me roar!

I thought about helping out, but in the end I just decided to shoot the building violence. War-time photographers sometime suffer emotional anguish because they are torn between helping innocent victims and documenting the carnage for the world to see and judge. I'm not sure if I had emotional anguish, but laughter is a form of emotion and my belly was actually hurting after the whole ordeal.

Not laughing was Peter's victim, who suffered neck and lip wounds while attempting a counterattack.

There's always that kid. You know the one. You feel bad because they just got the shit kicked out of them, you give them hugs and comfort them; you might even give them an ice-pack to help with their swollen lip. Then one minute later, out the freakin' blue, they leap out of your lap and start power-choking their closest sibling. I hate pre-teens.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That we did the CD's.
David: I read with Mama the story.
Tom: I was in the BIG truck!

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That I couldn't look TV by the dinner because of you, Papa.
David: I don't got a worst part.
Tom: I bonkey me head.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to play with you the new game.
David: I want tomorrow that Yuki, Lorenzo, and Laticia come over.
Tom: I want to go up, but not up there.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Twas the night after Christmas

The night before Christmas wasn't exactly silent, so I didn't really expect breakfast to be served on a silver platter of peace and tranquility. The boys woke up at insane-thirty in the morning, followed by loud and most definitely explained roaring. I usually just snoringly ignore this, but since we were guests of Grams and Opa's, I (Angie) thought that I (me) should at least try to quiet down the animals. I grabbed a sock and some duct tape and went hunting for my offspring.

I found this one at the kitchen table, but its face was too severely smeared to even identify. I tried to convince myself that Grams had nothing at all to do with feeding him a bucket of chocolate on a day where he really didn't need that much energy to get his motor started, but then I saw the coffee mug. Busted.

I checked that the mug wasn't actually filled with coffee and was glad to see that Grams had not completely lost her mind. Milk - it does a baby good.

Somewhere in the distance, I heard war cries followed by battle screams and immediately thought of my other children. I couldn't bring myself to look, though. I had seen enough chocolaty carnage to last me until dessert.

Instead, I disappeared into the other room to build the first of what would be a long line of toys that apparently require a degree in architectural engineering and a shitload of patience. I have neither.

I inadvertently made several mistakes when picking the room that now housed their brand new entertainment center. First of all, it used to be where Tommy's toys were stored, so he kept poking his chocolate face in every ten seconds shrugging his shoulders and asking 'where dey go, Papa?'. Second, the room is a standing ovation to Bose, Samsung, and several other expensive guys who all have restraining orders against any Johnson under the age of seven. After Peter and David's fifth attempt to breach the flat screen zone, I gave up on David's million-piece castle in search of hot coffee.

I asked Angie if maybe it wouldn't be a good idea to make a quick trip home to let the animals run wild in the safe and inexpensive jungles of our apartment. She sported a frown that I know all too well, and was undoubtedly about to tell me how stupid I am when Tommy came walking out of the entertainment room holding a piece of white plastic that looked a little bit like the clamps used to bundle cables behind a TV. When Angie asked Tommy what he had in his hand, it was Opa that answered.

'It's the white plastic clamp I used to bundle the cables behind our new flat screen TV.'

With that, Angie was 100% onboard with my stupid plan to bring the wild animals back to the quiet ranch. Opa was probably closer to 110%, but the veins in his neck were nice enough not to vocally admit it.

Grams was on turkey duty, so I asked her what time she wanted us back.

'Everything will be ready at 5:30.'

I correctly assumed that this meant we should bring the wild ones back at 5:29. Heidi, Klaus, Sonja and her David incorrectly assumed that we would be eating at 6:30 since that was the time we ate the night before. Silly relatives. At 5:35, I asked if they had actually been told to come at 5:30. Other than a few giggling crickets, silence prevailed. Awkward.

'Let's eat!'

The good thing was that the boys were finished by the time everyone showed up; feeding time can be quite disgusting on occasion. By 'on occasion', I of course mean three times daily, but that's beside the point. It was also a good thing that Angie was done eating, but instead of making an observation on where the boys get their dining skills, I'll just say that it was because she could watch the boys and make sure they didn't pull plastic anythings from anywhere. Opa can thank me later.

After dinner, the rising noise levels in the living room encouraged me to continue my toy building in the entertainment factory. After a few minutes, I made a mental note to convince Opa that all of the best entertainment centers in the world were sound-proofed, but like most of my brilliant thoughts, they were interrupted by impatient creatures. For a change, though, it wasn't Angie. No, Peter and David were the culprits who had flung open the door and demanded to know when their super-secret-agent-rocket-ship-monster toy would be finished. Let me just say, I was the camel and their question was the last straw.

'LISTEN! It may be Christmas, but SANTA has left the building, so BACK OFF, okay?! I've got roughly EIGHT BAZILLION of your little projects going on here and YOU are delaying each of them by coming in every TWO minutes and BUGGING ME. If you ever want to play with your precious toys, heed my advice and GO AWAY!'

It was at that point that I noticed Opa, who was in the doorway of the un-sound-proofed room.

'Would you like a beer?'

I didn't even bother answering. We exchanged an understanding look and two minutes later, I had a cold bottle of liquid hops in my hand. That is what Christmas is all about. Unless you ask anyone else.

After dinner, the gift frenzy began again.

I have to say, Sonja went completely nuts this year. Don't get me wrong, she's normally on the tilt side of a pinball machine anyway, but this year, she really went above and beyond the call of family. All of her many, many gifts were enjoyed by everyone and it was all fun and games until Klaus stepped in a big pile of Play-Doh. Then it was hilarious!

National Geographic pictures often depict ape mothers grooming their babies and it still amazes me how desensitized they become to plucking out all the disgusting crap that they call 'grooming'. Angie didn't even know at this point that it was brown Play-Doh, but she was more than willing to help pick whatever it was out of Klaus' shoe with her fingernail. Yuck.

After de-poohing Klaus' shoe, we finally managed to put the animals down for the night. Or so we thought. I guess the adrenaline rush of getting even more gifts grew a couple of hairs on Peter's chest. He had finally yanked his wiggly tooth and raced downstairs to disgust everyone with his bloody gums and calcium trophy. Yuck.

When we tried putting the boys to bed a second time, it was obvious that they needed some calming down. They were sleeping in one guest bed and after 30 seconds of fighting over the pillow, I forced them to sleep at opposite ends of the bed.

I normally read them a book, but lately we've been doing 'three word stories' where I let each of the boys pick one word and I have to spontaneously come up with a story that includes the three words. Tonight, it was Peter, the tooth fairy, and a telephone. Go!

Once upon a time, there was this goofy looking kid named Peter. He was a strange boy by anyone's standards. His feet smelled horrible and a fun Friday night for him normally involved burping the alphabet at the dinner table followed by somersaults on the sofa.

As the odd creature grew in both size and weirdness, he noticed a slight wiggling of one of his teeth. True to character, he freaked out, curled up into a little ball on the floor and sucked his thumb until his hairy-chested dad found him and explained the tooth fairy tale.

Afterwards, the courageous thumb-sucker spent weeks pushing, pulling, turning, and yanking his wiggly tooth to no avail. Christmas came and as Peter was being tucked into bed, his incredibly attractive dad offered to use his tanned muscles to rip the tooth out if he was too much of a wuss to do it himself.

In a move that made himself proud, Peter yanked the final yank and then screamed a little scream. After impressing very tolerant family members with his missing chopper, Peter fell into a satisfied slumber.

After a few glasses of wine, the Tooth Fairy showed up with a clipboard. She looked at her papers and then at the bed. Peter had slipped under the covers, so the Tooth Fairy only saw David, snoring away and drooling on his pillow.

She tip-toed over and lifted David's pillow. Nothing. She checked her clipboard again. It was the right house and the right day. She checked under the pillow again. Nothing. She huffed and puffed and looked at her watch. She had a schedule to keep, so she wasn't going to just sit around all night waiting for this kid's tooth to fall out.

She opened David's mouth, checked her clipboard again to make sure she got the right one, then she yanked out David's bottom front tooth. David continued snoring as she dumped the loot and moved on to her next customer.

The next day, Peter woke up and was very disappointed to find nothing under his pillow. Peter's crying woke up David, who discovered that he was missing a tooth.


David then found a bunch of coins under his pillow and started dancing a jig that really irritated Peter.

'That's it! I'm calling the tooth fairy hotline!'

Peter stormed over to the phone and called up the number. After several minutes of listening to elevator music, someone with a pulse picked up.

'I lost a tooth and your fairy service delivered my prize to the wrong boy!'

'That's impossible! Give me your name.'

'Peter Johnson.'

'Well, I see here that we picked your tooth early this morning. What's the problem?'

'What's the problem
??!! Are you people insane? You yanked out my little brother's tooth and gave him my stash!'

'Hold the line, please.'

After several silent minutes, Peter heard a click.

'Mr. Peter, we are so sorry for the mix-up. We just spoke to the tooth fairy responsible for your pickup and clarified everything. She's actually still on probation, but after this, I can guarantee you that she will be not be lifting another kid's pillow for a long, long time. I'll send someone over right away to make the exchange.'

Peter hung up the phone and not even two seconds later, a fairy appeared holding a bag of money and a balloon that said 'sorry'
. Peter forked over his tooth and was too busy checking out his loot to notice that the fairy had vanished.


My well intended bedtime story did little to calm the boys down. David almost started crying and telling me over and over again that he didn't want the 'toof fairy' to rip out any of his teeth and Peter asked if David could sleep in the basement to avoid any confusion. If there hadn't been cold beer downstairs, I probably would have stayed to comfort them.

'Sleep tight!'

About a month ago, Eisi told me that he needed some of our family photos. All of them, actually. Rather than burn 400 DVD's, I found an online exchange site. I could only upload a fraction at a time, so for several weeks, I would upload a batch and wait until he confirmed that he had downloaded them. Then I would delete them and add some more pictures. Tonight we unwrapped the mystery behind his request.

I had assumed that he was just another obsessed fan wanting pictures of me, but it turned out he was creating the The Johnson's Zoo year book, which was a big hit with everyone. As the ladies oggled over pictures of me, I mean the family, I snuck upstairs to play the second made-up role in as many nights.

Peter's stash consisted of all of the pocket change collected from my jeans, Mama's purse, and Opa's sofa. Angie threw in a pack of gum, claiming that this was the ritual that she grew up with, even though Judy and Horst both deny ever doing this.

Sunrise with the Johnson's is always darker and earlier than nature intended, so when Peter began squealing like a school boy at 6:00, I ran over to try and stifle the rising. Peter was pointing at his loot and visibly shaking with joy. Even David looked rather relieved after checking his mouth for missing teeth three or four times.

'I'm glad that your tooth fairy was a competent one and absolutely thrilled that David's teeth weren't knocked out, but you guys need to snooze for at least another hour.'

For a change, they actually listened and racked out for another hour and a half. I would later regret this additional energy charging when we decided to go make snow angels.

I explained to them over and over again that flinging balls of snow at semi-innocent bystanders was not how you make snow angels, but they are complete crap at listening to walking wisdom providers.

Everything was hunky-dory until I nailed Peter smack center in his ear. The only good thing about having your ear pressure-packed with snow is that you cannot hear your father's insane cackling as he points at you and high-fives your younger brother.

Needless to write, Peter wanted to go home. The only way I could convince him to stay was to stand a few feet away from him and allow him to practice his curve ball until he nailed me in the ear as well. After only the fourth pitch, my ear went numb and I could see Peter convulsing on the ground clutching his belly. Oh well - tit for tat.

When Peter finally regained consciousness, I pushed the little demons down in the snow and told them to act like angels.

Snow angel making didn't last long because according to Peter, the ground was 'cold'. I thanked Genius boy for his stunning observation and put him and his sidekick on the swing to check if the air blowing on their cheeks was 'cold' as well.

We checked a few more rides and Peter finally concluded that it was, in fact, 'cold' everywhere. I rounded up the Eskimos and put David in charge of snow plowing our way back to Grams and Opa's for hot chocolate.

Okay, the slide wasn't exactly on the way home, but considerate Davey probably just wanted to clear the path for any other insane kids crazy enough to go to an icy playground in sub-zero temperatures.

Twenty minutes later, the boys were enjoying a warm cup of liquid chocolate. A strange tingling sensation came across the living room as the energy of three wild and chocolanated boys started to build.

It twas actually the day after the night after Christmas, so we decide to spare Grams and Opa of the noise and chaos that would be released at any moment. Instead, I grabbed a sock and some duct tape and started packing up the car.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That I play with my secret agent ship.
David: That we play with you the game why you throw me on the bed.
Tom: I was in the big truck.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That I can't sleep in my new hammock.
David: I didn't got a worst part.
Tom: I bonk me head and then Davey laugh.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to play with you my new Playmobile ship.
David: I want that Yuki, Lorenzo, and Laeticia come over and look at my new toys.
Tom: I want to go up, but not up there.