Monday, May 28, 2012

Pre-flight checks

Today started out with an Angie freak-out that was so predicted that I could have set my watch to it. Allow me to explain:
  • She is flying with David to America tomorrow
  • She had not yet packed
That's it. Trust me, it doesn't take much to trigger an Angie-plosion. Luckily, I am the modern day Nostradamus and saw this meltdown coming two days ago when I first innocently asked my ball of tension if she had packed yet. It had less to do with how she growled at me and more to do with the thousand-yard stare that accompanied her primal reply. It was at that point that I started thinking about what I could do with the boys on T minus 1 to get far, far away from suitcases and negative stress.

In the end, I took the animals to the zoo. Well, not all of them. I sacrificed David to pack with the Predator and quickly escaped with buddies 1 and 3. I felt bad, but only briefly. David was going on his 'pre-school trip' that started as a tradition with Peter's trip to Africa in the summer before he started school.

David starts school in the fall and up until two weeks ago, I had planned to take Destructo Dave to Disney World in Orlando to see what damage we could smack on Mickey and his goofy friends. It only took one tiny trip to the doctor's to find out why my calves were turning black to be diagnosed with varicose veins that need to be removed immediately. This inconvenient medical setback meant that I will be operated on in two weeks and cannot fly. [Exit Steve, enter Angie]

After our last trip to the States, at least our passports are ALL up to date, so Angie's only worry was picking out clothes and stuffing them into a padded rectangle. My only worry was making sure that Peter and Tommy weren't horsing around at the zoo.

Tommy assured me that he wasn't, but something about his mischievous grin made me nervous. I decided to ignore him for the moment and check on Peter. Monkey boy announced to me from the rafters that he wants to be a swinger when he grows up. Don't we all.

I decided not to stroll down the rocky path of non-monogamous explanations. Instead, I marched on with my goal of tuckering out three-year olds. It started with a real cliff-hanger.

As everyone knows, what goes up must come down. What might not be common knowledge is that if you forget to apply light pressure when sliding down a pole, you slam into the dirt below like a sack of potatoes.

Shortly after this shot, we were reminded by friendly zoo folk carrying shovels and smelling like poop that wailing like a kid who had just pile-drived himself tends to scare the animals. Thanks, Dolittle.

I borrowed the good doctor's shovel and scraped up a pile of Tommy from the sand. After some minor tears and some major hugs, I was able to release potatoes back into the wild. 

This picture is actually shortly after the second tear-worthy crash of the day. It happened approximately six steps before this shot, when Tommy lost his balance and tumbled headfirst into the weeds. They look soft and cushiony, but trust Tommy's lungs, they were not. At least he inherited Mama's stubborn gene, prompting him to shoo away helping hands; he had a log to cross and by damn if anyone got in his way.

Meanwhile, back in the jungle, Angie had not progressed any further with packing. I discovered this when we came back and Angie was in front of Crackbook looking guilty but amused. Amusement got the better of her. 

'Hey, you gotta check out this video - it's a cat chasing a flashlight and...'

'Yeah, cute. Did you pack?'

'Um, did you want to have coffee?'

'Did you pack?'

'Oh hey, while you guys were gone, Davey did the funniest ...'


Angie is not prone to whimpering, but her 'not yet' came damn close. As I scolded her with my eyes, Tommy strolled by and asked why Mama would be packing. We explained for the 200th time that Mama would be flying away with David for a week. For the 200th time, Tommy refused to accept this and demanded that we pack his suitcase because 'I are too going'. 

Tommy is prone to whimpering and his 'fine, then I'll go by me-self' comment told me that he was still in denial. Married men know that you should not try and pet mad dogs; nothing you do will make them happy. Sometimes, it's better just to let the crazy pup build a 'super-fly box to take me to Uhmerika'.

Speaking of crazy animals, Tommy wasn't the only one petrified at the thought of a week alone with Papa. Luke apparently built his own flying contraption and looked ready for takeoff. He had even packed one of the kid's toy bug-bots for the flight.

Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When I was a big bird with little wings.
David: When I can pack my new game.
Tom: When I build my spaceship.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When Tommy was screaming so loud by the zoo.
David: I didn't have a bad part.
Tom: When I go aaagghh-boom and owa.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: To go to the swimming pool.
David: To fly to America.
Tom: To fly to Uhmerika.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The times they are a blowin'

Despite many, many, many threats, I allowed David to turn six today. In keeping with tradition, he woke up at, imagine that, six o' freakin' clock. My futile attempt to convince David that it wasn't his birthday until noon was jabbed away by Angie with an elbow to my ribs and an equally pleasant request to make coffee. Yes, Master.

Master had been on a mad cleaning frenzy the night before, apparently because we were having guests. This to me is dumber than the phrase 'you always find it in the last place you look'. Well, no shit - I would hope you stop looking for whatever your dumbass lost once you find it. And as far as cleaning up before a horde of messy knee-highs come barreling through the place, I just don't get it. When I was a single sailor, I never said 'oh, the boys are coming over for poker night; I better swab the decks and polish the cutlery'. Hell no; I took the non-crazy approach and said 'Crap! I'm gonna have to clean tomorrow afternoon'. Yes, I wrote 'afternoon'.

Angie's logic and mine have restraining orders on each other that were issued years ago, so I retreated to my beloved 'camera guy' role. I took one (and only one) picture this morning of Angie, delicately balanced on the headboard of our bed on one foot, arms stretched out to the point of tipping over, gripping the end of a vacuum extension tube, trying desperately to murder an innocent family of spiders who had mistakenly thought that the upper corner wall of our bedroom with high ceilings would be a safe neighborhood to raise their baby arachnids.

The 'click' of the camera damn near made Angie topple, which would have certainly resulted in a symphony of clicks played to the backdrop of hysterical laughing. At the last second, Angie impressed me with a spider-monkey-ninja-move that I like to call 'Grab-the-radiator-pipe-with-one-hand-and-shove-the-other-fist-in-your-incredibly-sexy-husband's-face-and-threaten-to-kill-him-until-he-is-dead-if-he-snaps-one-more-picture-or-even-contemplates-using-that-one-for-his-stupid-blog'.

I tried to explain to her that the move was indeed impressive, but that it had a rather long and slightly threatening name and might be more viral if she picked a catchy acronym. She shortened it down considerably, although I could not break out the four-letter acronym that she came up with on the spot. It was catchy, though.

Survival instincts and Angie's sudden and uncontrollable shaking prompted me to work on the coffee 'request' that I had ignored earlier and chalked up to playful pillow talk. As I brewed a pot of black glory, I heard a gleeful shout that reminded me of Angie's victory wail.

I ran in just in time to catch Mama spanking David on his brand-new Lego table soccer arena that he has wished for since he was in Angie's womb. I reminded my son's mother that it was HIS gift and HIS birthday and subtly suggested that maybe HE should be the one wailing victoriously. 

As expected, Angie ignored me completely and continue to try and annihilate our second born. Luckily, he is a natural born learner and soon the room was filled with Angie's defeat wail. It's pretty much the same as the victory one; it's just louder, uglier, and a tad bit more guttural. Kinda like two alligators fighting over a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The primal scream apparently interested Peter, who came running to see what was going on. 

In case you didn't notice (I didn't until I heard the KNOCK), Peter had opened the door with his forehead. I should point out that Peter is the only one out of our family so far that has been tested for high IQ. I didn't quite make the connection between head-bashing the door open and pure genius, but it was David's day and Peter is prone to quirky klutziness from time to time. He gets this from Mama. Besides, Lauri had shown up and we had muffins to eat. Eight of them, according to whacko-man.

Unless you're kidless or a moron, you should pick up on the fact that Tommy was on a sugar high. He was cracking up hysterically because 'David is six, but the muffins are eight'. I immediately pulled Sami aside, who confirmed that the muffins were not leftover brownies meant for my birthday. I was relieved, but only slightly. 

Before my thoughts could dwell, Angie grabbed me and instructed me to pick up David and toss him in the air. Sure, no problem.

It only looks like Angie is stronger than me. I contribute my slightly weaker side to a pro-life reluctance to smashing our son's skull on the living room carpet as a result of a silly German tradition to raise the birthday boy into danger. Yeah, that's it. 

I lit the fire-cake and told David he had three per lung. When he didn't get that, I told him to just blow. 

As we were eating cake, Angie explained to her lady friends how David was a genius because his brain processes things differently and because...

'Holy shit! What are you DOING David??!!'

Brainiac-boy had slipped away from the cake frenzy and was standing in front of the TV swinging a chair over his head like a lasso.

My first thought was 'that last swing was about 2 millimeters from scratching my flat screen'.

My second thought was 'Genius my ass'.

My third thought was 'DDDAAAAAAAAVVVIIIDD!!!!'
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When Davey was a cowboy with the chair.
David: When I beat Mama by the futbol game.
Tom: When I by the muffins eat why I so funny. 

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When you say I can't stay the night by my friend.
David: When I almost broke the TV and you scream on me.
Tom: When Lauri - he throw a truck on my foot.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to play with all of Davey's toys and make them mine.
David: To play futbol with Yuki.
Tom: Papa, you know - MUFFINS - hahahahahahaha.....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My happiness is your gift

My birthday started out with coffee and traffic. At least the coffee was hot, and traffic meant that I spent less time at work. Everyone knows that work is a four-letter word, and even if I look on the brighter side, the day was still a pain in the ass. Luckily, Angie was in charge of the evening.

Feeding the animals, brushing their teeth, and getting them into pajamas was an easy task. Getting Tommy to actually sleep - worthless. See, Tommy had taken a power nap at kindergarten, so he was giggling hysterically at my birthday wish for him to dream sweetly. After an hour and a half, I emerged from the bedroom victorious. I always do.

As I danced my victory lap into the living room, I noticed that Angie was smiling. This by itself it not unusual - it's even been known to happen more than once a year. The second thing my trained eye picked up on was Ute lying on the sofa. At first glance, it looked like she had settled in for a comfortable night of watching TV and listening for wild animals that go bonk ga-bank haw-freaky-tank in the night. Hey, wait a minute - did Angie arrange someone to sit on our babies?

Yes, Tweety Bird, 'she did, she did!'.

The night was AWESOME. Angie and I hit the pub where we met, only now it is known as 'Brass Monkey' and not 'Napper Tandy's'. On our first night, Angie and I hated each other with a mutually verbal passion. It was cool that we did not have an encore for my birthday. Instead, Angie abandoned me to go play table soccer. On her behalf, I must admit that I rather enjoyed the manly-man beer-talk at the bar with the boys as the women and Walid (no offense) dominated the soccer table.

I took my Cinderella home at high-five before midnight, but trust me - I did not waste any time with trying on stinky ball slippers. Angie denies with a passion that any part of her body could smell like anything other than roses. She also believes that Yeltsin is spelled with a 'J', though, so what does she know? Other than how to organize a cool night out, of course.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That we played football at school.
David: That I played with Yuki.
Tom: Fart! Fart! Fart! Hahahahaha...

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: I really didn't have one because I am weird.
David: That Tommy swung his arm and bam me in the face.
Tom: The worst part was fart! Hahahahaha...

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to play with Arman.
David: Play games with Yuki.
Tom: Want I play in the kindergarten.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Wedding Dancer

Okay, who the hell kidnapped my boys and replaced them with these gag-worthy robots? I searched for a ransom note and finally came to the conclusion that something about attending a wedding and having an important role like 'rose petal tosser' might actually instill a sense of behavioral responsibility that speaks to even the wildest of creatures. That, plus a two hour car lecture where Angie and I used threats and scare-tactics to 'encourage' our boys to be on their bestest. I was just surprised that it worked. Unfortunately, my boys don't like to surprise me for long nor do they respond well to threats.

Yes, true colors can be rather disturbing. Angie took a slightly different earpoint and thought another lecture would somehow alter the course of embarrassment we had embarked on. She then proceeded to rather vocally explain how she did not want to hear any peeps when we were in the church. Tommy found what I thought was a rather creative alleviation to Mama's concern.

I give finger-boy points for boldness - his demonstrative suggestion to stick a plug in Mama's ear certainly met Angie's criteria covering the hearing of peeps, but I'm not sure that she agreed with what I would call a clever idea. Angie hardly ever agrees with other humans, though. In the end, I left her on the steps hyperventilating and ventured my way inside.

Inside turned out to be quiet, but not without strange children second-contemplating their role as petal-tosser.

I actually know this look and decided to spend a good portion of the ceremony 'whispering' advice into Davey's ear. I reminded him that he was not allowed to throw the petals overhand at the bride's face, like he did at Handan's wedding. About halfway through the ceremony, I felt confident that I had gotten through to David when he agreed to only throw underhanded.

At least Sabina and Matthias wisely chose the preferred method for dealing with wild animals that go slightly overboard with the rose petals and simply ignored him.

After the ceremony, we moved to the backyard for an outdoor champagne brunch that was bubbly and loud. At one point, the newlyweds apparently got fed up with the guests and tried to fly away.

My guess is that they've seen the movie 'Up' one too many times. That or they think they are lighter than they actually are. I can certainly relate.

After watching Bina's rendition of '99 Red Balloons', I walked over to the buffet to look for Angie. I'm not trying to make a statement with my last sentence. It's just - I know that my wife loves cooked food and I am today's self-proclaimed Sherlock Holmes. As expected, I found my darling chatting away with a bunch of her lady friends next to the pastry puffs. I walked up to say hi, but Angie saw me first and chose to launch a greeting of her own.


I use capital letters here to emphasize just how LOUDLY my lovely wife announced to the entire wedding entourage that my zipper had dropped. I am a firm believer of correcting bad behavior on the spot, so I immediately explained to Angie how inappropriate it is to point at another man's genitals in the middle of a wedding reception and start screaming commentary, but this (as with our children) only made her crack up.

Speaking of cracking people up, Tommy decided to curl up and rack out next to the gift table shortly after the meal.

After a few snapshots, I turned my attention away from the Wedding Crasher and focused on my other mini-mes. It was an interesting experiment, to be honest. See, they had a dessert bar that had no limit on visits. I stood by and quietly watched as both Peter and David devoured various forms of sugar. I tried to console myself by telling me that at least they had not touched their main course at all.

When that didn't work, I ventured off in search of a TV to watch the final Champions League match between Bayern Munich and Chelsea. As I strolled by the kitchen, I noticed that a few culinary staff members were huddled around what looked to be a boob tube. I pushed opened the swinging doors and asked the chefs if I could join their bleachers.

Their mistake was when they said 'sure, come on in'. I then whistled loudly and brought in half of the male contingent, including the groom. My saving grace was that Angie knows my whistle and is addicted to soccer.

At one point, one of the waitresses got visibly annoyed that the wedding club had hijacked the kitchen. Luckily, I'm married to a woman who gets visibly annoyed with me at least twice daily. I reverted to my trusted tactics and just pretended not to speak German. Unfortunately, she switched to English. At that point, I just flat-out ignored her. Unlike with Angie, this technique actually worked and the pesky woman simply went away.

Chelsea didn't win, but Bayern lost. You figure it out.

After the game, we returned to the party to find that the tables were being pushed away to free up some boogie room. At this point in our little sugar experiment, Peter was crashing big time. He was falling asleep in his chair, mumbling something about me being an awesome dad and going back to the hotel. David, on the other buzz, was wired for sound.

This is honestly the ONLY picture I could snap. The rest were only flashes and blurs as David streaked the dance floor. He busted out his patented 'butt boogie' moves, along with a couple that are apparently still waiting for copyright approval. I have never seen David so in his element. He is not bashful in the least and he proved this again by getting his jiggy on with adults and other silly types crazy enough to get in his way. As far as I know, I've never witnessed anyone finding their calling in life as it actually happened. I guess only time will tell.
Ladder Talk:
(Adrenalin + Sugar = no ladder talk)
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: ZZZZZzzzzzzz......
David: flippity-bank bo ski-skank o madaka floo-poo!
Tom: ZZZZZzzzzzzz......
2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: ZZZZZzzzzzzz......
David: When the Oh, yeah - HOOOOOO! and then skippity-shonk bang!
Tom: ZZZZZzzzzzzz......

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: ZZZZZzzzzzzz......
David: Yes, please.
Tom: ZZZZZzzzzzzz......

Friday, May 18, 2012

Kitchen Surprise

This only looks like I lost my mind and allowed Angie in the kitchen. For a change, the destruction and mayhem had nothing to do with my life planner. I had actually taken the day off and we were on the balcony enjoying a warm glass of sunshine when the wall and our kitchen shelf got into a fight. The wall won.

I don't know who started it, but I wasn't that concerned with why the wall had bitch-smacked our kitchen supplies to the floor. I was more worried about who was going win the pleasure of cleaning up the mess. As I seriously contemplated cancelling my vacation day and driving into work, Angie popped her head around the corner.

'Simone's here - we'll be on the balcony.'

'Oh, sure - when I undig the coffee machine, I'll bring you a latte.'


'I was joking.'

'I wasn't.'

Angie recently had to sift through 30 years of muck to retrieve a tooth that klutzo Peter had dropped into the bathroom sink, so I shouldn't complain. The problem is that I am the king of doing things that I shouldn't. I'm also the duke of not doing things that I should, but I certainly didn't want to think about taxes on my day off. Instead, I rolled up my short sleeves and started to deconstruct our new-found culinary mosaic.

Glass went into the recycle bag, along with a few drops of my blood. This was despite Angie's wise-ass advice to not cut myself, but I think I've already covered my royal reaction to the unsolicited expectations of others. The flour container and the powder chocolate had smashed into each other and landed in a pile of olive oil, so I quickly shoveled this interesting texture into the biodegradable bin. Oddly enough, the three eggs left in the carton survived. If you can even call it that, since I plan to eat them tomorrow morning. Enjoy the reprieve.

After being forced to spring clean the kitchen, I picked up Tommy from kindergarten and took him for his first bike ride. Angie and I bought Tom a new bike a few days ago and he has been bugging the shit out of us (me) to take his knees out for a skinning. Fortunately (depending on your viewpoint) it has been absolute crap weather since then. With the sun shining and the kitchen cleaned, I had no other acceptable excuse.

As expected, he sucked big time, but his utter inability to pedal, steer or keep a steady balance for more than ten microseconds didn't manage to discourage him. Bravo.

I am metro enough to acknowledge that I am not as fit as the spring chicken I think I still am, but holy hell! Pushing a crappy bike driver around for an hour in the sun is hard work. Especially if you take David along on your driving lesson. He alone vibrates energy at a rate and frequency that only dogs hear. Particularly if you combine that with crash-test Tommy, whose lungs were not exactly thrilled with Disco Dave racing laps around him screaming 'I won again'.

At one point, I start to take mental bets on what part of my body would throw in the towel first. My knees and my back were not accustomed to supporting pint-sized wild ones in motion, but it was actually my liver who finally put its non-existent foot down.

'To hell with this, I'm going for a beer'.

I have been accused of having selective hearing at times, but today - my knees and back agreed wholeheartedly with my liver. They even laughed at the sweaty kid with the helmet, who was vocally unthrilled with my organ's premature end to the Tommy 500. Talk to the hand 'cause the liver ain't listening.

I strolled into the kitchen to quench my liver and felt the crunch of broken glass and the slipperiness of an oily floor. At this point, I would like to freely admit that I am complete crap at cleaning. I am, however, good at evaluating situations and making split-second decisions.

'We're gonna grill tonight!'

I escaped to the balcony and was once again confronted by what I now lovingly call 'The Buttmark'.

This mysterious butt-print has been a part of our family for several weeks. I don't know how it got there. I also don't know why it doesn't evaporate even when the sun shines bright all day. Honestly, though, I don't care. After eight years of herding ankle-biters, I don't question life's peculiar signs. No, I photograph them and let my three readers do the wondering. Happy speculating.

While you attempt to figure out the meaning of our cute little butt-print, I'll move on to dessert. Eating in general normally raises a fundamental dispute that Angie and I have had for years. See, Angie lives in the camp that waves the 'don't play with your food' flag. In addition to being hairy enough to choke a cat, I'm an avid food consumer with a penchant for creativity and a playful culinary flair that I use to impress my offspring. It doesn't take much.

Angie was not impressed, but at least the queen has been forewarned and is fully aware of the king's physical and mental handicap when it comes to actually giving a shit. Tommy loved it, by the way.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That I played with Tommy the cars.
David: That I said 'David ah-boom-boom!'
Tom: When I a big boy on my bike and no go boom down.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That David was not so good to me - he did faces at me and other things.
David: Where Peter - he throw me on the floor when I funny faces making was.
Tom: When I go boom down and then I cry like this 'aaaahhhhh'.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: Sleep by Leo's.
David: I want that Yuki sleeps by me.
Tom: I want to go to my new bike.