Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I discovered today that Batman, Spider-Man and ninjas actually hate each other. With a passion. You can't even leave them in the same room for more than thirty seconds without them getting into a full-on kickboxing smackdown over who would get to carry which candy bag for collecting their loot.

As soon as the fight started, I ran to the kitchen and popped some popcorn. I then hunkered down on the sofa to watch the show. Man, I love Fight Night!

The ninja was holding his own until Spider-Man surprised him with an elbow to the throat. Batman took advantage of the moment and decided to check if the ninja was wearing a wig. He wasn't.

I was on the edge of my seat. Even so, it was getting pretty rough and I started to wonder why the hell the ref hadn't come in screaming for them to stop the fight. That's when my brain spoke to me.

'What are you stupid? I seriously hope not, because it would be a direct reflection of me. Angie's not here, remember? She's spending the night with her Mom in Baden-Baden enjoying the tranquil jazz sounds of Al Jarreau.'

'Oh, shit. What should I do?'

'I'm no guinness, but I think you should stop the fight.'

'Uh, do you mean genius?'


I broke up the cut-throat trio before any blood was drawn. Since Angie was not around to regulate my thinking, I decided to take the boys out for fast food shortly before collecting bags of sugary treats. I even let Peter drink Coke! Let that be a lesson to you, woman. Don't ever leave me to my own devices.

After getting the animals primed beyond reasonable need, I called Ken and Karen to arrange our rendezvous. Ken and Karen are the awesome couple who saved Halloween this year by agreeing to sign us onto the Army base for a true American trick-or-treat.

In case you don't see Peter, look again. He's the invisble ninja with a sore throat.

At that point, most of the pictures became blurry. David was definitely the front-runner on a mission. He sprinted from house to house, shouting his drive-by mantra 'trick-or-treat, thank you, NEXT!'.

Peter didn't bother keeping up. He was stealthily sneaking and lurking in the bushes, trying hard not to be seen. His plan worked, until he twisted his ankle and started screaming like a little girl. Ah, there you are.

I scooped up the fallen ninja and backpacked Peter for the last stretch.

Tom took a different approach. It was the first halloween where he actually picked up on what the hell was going on. Even so, he was absolutely amazed by the amount of candy being dumped into his bag.

For the first thirty houses, he stopped after each one and shoved his head into his bag.

'Papa - look!'

'That's great, Spider-man. Have you seen a limping ninja?'

I finally rounded up all the super-buzzed and packed them into the car. We rather loudly thanked Ken and Karen again and headed home. I was fully ready for a difficult tucking in, but Tommy surpised me when I told the boys it was time to brush teeth.

'No, Papa! How about you brush your teeth?'

I gave Karate Punk points for bravery, but I still yanked his spunkiness into bed and reminded him that Mama wasn't around to rescue mega-wired half-pints.

I discovered tonight that Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker and ninjas wearing pajamas actually love each other. With a passion. 

As I tucked them in, I acknowledged that pretty soon Peter will be too big for dressing up. Growing up, traditions like Halloween and Santa Claus always seemed like they would be around forever. I know now that it's an amazingly short window. I hope they are enjoying it as much as I did growing up.

I most certainly did not need to say it tonight, but some traditions are hard to let go.

'Sweet dreams!'

Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That we were by Halloween by the American people.
David: The Americans.
Tom: That we could go to Halloween.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That I bent my foot again.
David: That my head hurts 'cause I wanted to swing this pillow and it hit very hard on my head..
Tom: That I could not have the other candy.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to do the pumpkin spooky.
David: I want to play a little bit on the computer.
Tom: Maybe play computer.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Forty Winks

To take forty winks is to take a nap for a short period of time (usually not in bed)

Before jumping to Rip Van Wrinkle's goodnight snore, the morning kicked off proper with a crappy breakfast.

Peter has always loved my toilet paper cartoons. Months ago, he launched his own unusual artistic expression by cartooning the empty rolls. Today, he unveiled the top forty from his private collection.

As Peter was gathering his art, he somehow thought that Mama would also really dig it if he were to convert the guest bathroom into a bookstore.

Unfortunately, Mama was still pre-coffee, so the overwhelming praise of gratitude that Peter was expecting would have to wait. I tried jump-starting my old lady's mood by cooking her breakfast in bed, only I didn't let her eat it in bed. Get to the table, woman!

As Tommy ripped opened Mama's new iPhone, Peter was busy trying to break another arm.

For those of you without memory loss, you might remember Angie's birthday last year and wonder why she would be getting yet another iPhone. Man, there's no gettin' nuttin by you guys.

The reason is simple. A few months ago, Angie could not find her phone. This happens three times a week, so normally not a big deal. It became an issue when she realized it was stolen. See, simple.

Shortly after the first round of birthday gifts, my freak-out radar starting pinging. I didn't immediately understand why, so I drank another coffee asked my brain to evaluate the situation.
  1. It was Angie's birthday.
  2. In a few hours, we would be entertaining family and friends for coffee and cake.
  3. The place looked like shit.
'Uh, Angie, I'm sorry, but I need to run out to do, uh, really important things that I can't tell you about.'

I even winked several times to sell the whole 'I'm totally picking up secret last-minute birthday gifts for you' story. She reluctantly agreed to release me to the wild for a few hours.

'Fine, but you have to be back at two!'

At that point, the boys picked up on what was going on and collectively gave me a pleading look. Save us!!

'Okay. I'm taking the boys. Bye!'

I grabbed the boys and narrowly escaped Mama's wrath as she fired up the vacuum. We then went on to do really important things that I could not tell Angie about. Wink, wink.

I thought about bringing Angie a Happy Meal, but they are really meant for the younger generation and...well, it's her birthday. I'll just keep my smart-ass comments for the next blog.

On the way home, I realized two things. First, Tommy has the common sense to be leery of freaky looking street mimes wearing strange outfits.

Second, David doesn't.

We made it back as the first guests arrived. The afternoon was well spent drinking coffee, eating cake, and visiting with friends and family.

For the evening program, I had arranged a babysitter so that Angie and I could get our 'Eat, Drink, Sleep' on. By 'arranged', I of course mean that I had not planned jack and had frantically begged Ute last night if she could once again save the evening. She could. 

Ute not only saved the night; she also recommended a very nice restaurant conveniently located close to the pub. Along the way we ran into a life-size Guinness that made my liver flutter. If I weren't married...

Angie and I were still on the 'Eat' chapter of the night's novel when I presented Angie with her forty-page birthday book.

'Gee, thanks! You should have called it "Forty things I hate about Angie".'

'Nah, too long. Do you like it?'

She didn't really answer. Instead, she whistled for the waitress and began ordering a shitload of cocktails. I took this as a sign that she was thirsty and wanted to toast my first self-published book. I was only half right. She downed a champagne cocktail and threw on her dusty editor-in-chief hat.

'My hair is too short!'

Luckily, I had a pen with me and ensured that Angie's crew cut magically transformed into hair that at least touched her shoulders. I won't say that she was happy, but after a few more cocktails and a belly full of really expensive food, Angie was at least ready to move on to the 'Drink' chapter of the evening.

The Brass Monkey may have changed owners over the years, but it is still the pub where Angie and I had our first fight. It's also where we still feel at home. Please don't analyze the connection.

After a frenzy of gifts and pints, Angie slipped into her old habits.

It could be worst. In our B.C. days (before children), she would routinely alternate between kicking ass in table soccer and stealing cucumbers from the kitchen. Tonight, she at least refrained from swiping food. The kitchen now has a lock. 

I left early to relieve angelical women with an abundance of patience when dealing with unruly animals. Before I left, Angie and I agreed on two things.
  1. That she would not stay more than 30 minutes before moving back to our house for a party to rival John Belushi's nice attempt. Toga! Toga!
  2. That she would beg, plead, force and/or otherwise convince half of the bar to join us.
After thanking Ute to the point of being restrainable, I realized two things.
  1. Angie is complete crap at following the first line item on a list of mutually agreed orders.
  2. She's actually quite skilled at following the second line item.
So, yeah. Two hours later, Angie stumbled in with a bunch of pub-folk ready to get their poker on. Birthday girl then jumped forward to the 'Sleep' chapter of the evening and proudly announced that she was going to bed.

'Have fun, Steve.'

And with that *poof*, Angie was gone. The confused crowd then looked at me. After an awkward pause, I slowly raised my hand in the traditional 'sign of the horns' and set the mood.

'Party on!'

After several high-fives and many rounds of poker, including one where Stepan was able to pull a natural four-of-a-kind with aces out of his sleeve and not get caught, Angie decide to grace us again with her presence.

My first thought was 'What the hell is Angie doing back up?'. My second thought was 'What the hell is Angie doing back up?'.

Angie was wrapped in a blanket and sleep-stumbled past several surprised poker players, including me. She then face-planted the sofa and began snoring. Loudly. After a brief 'WTF' moment, the entire poker crew cracked up. I was worried that our spontaneous outburst of hysteria might wake up zombie chick. It didn't.

Sometimes, I have to stretch my creative imagination to come up with funny material. More often than not, though, Angie gives me way more blog-worthy memories than I know what to do with. Thanks, Butter Buns!

So yeah, let me ask you - birthday chick had just passed out on the sofa. What other option did I have other than to grab one of our bathroom towels and have everyone decorate it so that we could visually honor Sleeping Beauty?

Don't answer that. In the end, I have to say that I was really impressed with everyone's creative flair. Only tomorrow will tell if Angie shares my view, but at least she'll have forty winks to sleep on it.

Ladder Talk: [Ute amazingly ensured that the animals were asleep - no Ladder Talk tonight]
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
David: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Tom: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
David: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Tom: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
David: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Tom: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Forty Shades of Gray

For the past several months, I have been secretly creating Angie's surprise birthday book. I'm pleased to write that I was not caught and that yes, it surprised her. Deeply.

When Angie and I were dating, she wanted to hang up something and asked me to drill a hole in the wall. I was on my way to Munich for business, though, and promised her that I would do it when I got back. Angie and Handan then found my tools and decided to take drilling into their own hands. What they didn't realize at first was that they were trying to use a metal drill on drywall. Sadly, they didn't realize this point after the second or third attempt, but I'm glad that they finally stopped drilling bullet holes into our wall. Angie tried covering up the crime scene by gluing postcards over them. This worked, until I came back home. Fail.

Angie and I were - surprise, surprise - incredibly late to David's 1st grade welcome ceremony. Angie was frantically looking for her shoes and I was dashing about just trying to stay out of her path. Angie eventually found her shoes under the dining table, but when she bent down to get them, she put her hand on the chair and noticed it was sticky. She then ran to the kitchen and got a wet rag and began cleaning all of the dining room chairs. I walked in as she was just finishing. She responded to my 'are you freakin' kidding me?' look with a 'what was I doing again?' look. She didn't answer my question, but I replied to hers.

It's a look I've only ever seen on Angie. I noticed a trend that it only happens when she is frowning and grumpy. So yeah, twice daily. 

After one of Angie's more crispy attempts at cooking, I actually identified the culprit - it was Angie's burning desire to read what people are doing on a minute to minute basis.

What can I say? Angie likes nerdy guys with big imaginations.

I was at work in the middle of a meeting when Angie placed her emergency call from the car. She was on her way to Handan's and had managed to get herself lost. She then freaked out and started screaming at me to identify her position and tell her how to get to Handan's. I couldn't of course, and after three hours, she turned the car around and fumed her way home. Thanks for calling!

The year was 2001. Angie and I had just moved to Virginia so that I could finish my degree. We went to a pub and met some new people. Cool, great, lovely. One of the women asked about the funny looking cucumber, which was a zucchini. Angie then explained to everyone 'I can tell the difference between a cucumber and a zucchini - even in the dark'. Enough said.

Most people at least try looking for something before asking others to help them find it. In so many ways, Angie is not like most people.

Before Angie figured out what not to do on iTunes, she tried downloading a Michael Jackson song. It took more than half a microsecond so Angie began frantically clicking all over the place. She also clicked away all those silly pop-ups asking her if she was really, really, really sure that she wanted to buy a song that she had already purchased. A month later, I got the bill and realized that Angie had ordered at least three versions of every song Michael Jackson has ever made, including an hour-long documentary and an interview with Michael Jackson's agent.

The first time I made Angie a Ramen noodle soup, she almost refused to eat it. I had broken the noodles into tiny pieces. Too tiny, apparently. Angie's mental rule on noodle-breaking is four times, in case anyone has a burning desire to cook soup for my wife. Good luck with that.

This didn't really happen.

This actually does happen. She only thinks she's green.

This also actually happened. I was on my laptop one night and decided to check Facebook. I wondered why a comment from Angie had warranted over seventy comments, so I clicked on it and came to the uninformed realization that 'We're getting a cat!'

We didn't always have a list. In the beginning, Angie would just get to the end of her school break and start freaking out. Big time. I analyzed this explosive behavior and came to realize a pattern. She always had a mental list of things to do and she never accomplished any of them. I then asked her to actually write them down. It didn't change much, but I at least know now why I am being screamed at.

I feel that Angie is making progress. It used to be that we would have baskets full of washed clothes, but she never had time to fold anything. Now we have baskets full of clothes that are folded. It doesn't change the fact that our closets are all empty, but still, we know where to find our clothes.

In David and Tom's room, there are two closets. My brain tells me that one should belong to David and the other one to Tom. Angie's brain tells her to use one to store all of the socks, underwear and t-shirts in one and pants and sweaters in the other. It also explains why my brain stopped dating Angie's brain a long time ago.

I thought about making a reference to how dogs learn tricks, but in the end, I felt the picture explained things well enough to let sleeping dogs lie.

I hate having my coffee filled to the brim. Angie knows this.

Angie freaks out when she finds toys in one box that belong in another box. And don't even get me started on kids that don't put all of the puzzle pieces back in the box.

Instead of taking the trash out, Angie's preferred method of dealing with this problem is a technique I like to call 'squish and jam'.

Angie has never made ice. Don't ask me why, it's one of the many unanswered mysteries in my life.

Angie doesn't believe in timing anything. Our kids will undoubtedly grow up not liking spaghetti that isn't crunchy or mushy.

Maybe it's a 'me' thing, but I like getting a hot shower and having the room steam up. When Angie strolls in to pluck her eyebrows and leaves the door wide open, it annoys me. My comfty steam is replaced with a draft of cold air. But Angie's eyebrows look great!

There are many, many, MANY things that I don't know about women. One of them is the difference is between a dress and a skirt.

We play poker at the house at least once or twice a month. When Tom was still waking up four or five times nightly, Angie would disappear to take care of him. After an hour or so, we would finally realize that Angie would not be making it back to the table.

Just trust me - it's amazing how high Angie can stack dishes.

I thought Angie was completely whacko when she told me that she sneezes whenever she looks directly at the sun. She was so adamant about it, though, that I actually researched and confirmed that this is a known condition. I still haven't ruled out that she's border-line certifiable, but the sun sneezes are at least medically documented and explained. Yeah, whatever. Freak!

Normally, we drink instant coffee. This involves boiling the water, getting a cup, putting the instant coffee in the cup, pouring the water, adding sugar, adding milk, getting a spoon, stirring, and giving the coffee to the hairy beast you've married. Angie rarely makes it past the first step.

If someone gives me a compliment on a pair of cheap shoes that I bought, I would always lie my ass off and convince them that they are handmade Italian leather. Angie goes to the other extreme.

I do this, too, but it's my blog.

Angie decided to paint the bathroom shortly before a business trip. I told Angie I would help when I was back. Angie can be somewhat of an independent free spirit, something I didn't realize until I came back home.

Angie openly admits to this lazy habit. Ask her. 

Again, just ask her.

Angie does not talk about the horrible childhood event that led to her lifelong hatred of feet. To be honest, though, I haven't asked.

It started with a mild reference to her boobs when she was still breastfeeding and has lead to an established rule. Angie is the one to hit publish on all of my blogs. This does mean that I have to go through several re-write cycles before I get the final signoff, but it's probably one of many reasons why we are still married. The uncensored versions are freakin' hilarious, though.

I snore. So does Angie, but not really relevant. One night, David had a nightmare and climbed into bed with us. I was not yet asleep and heard David snoring. Out of the blue, Angie poked me in the ribs. Apparently, she thought I was snoring and her method for dealing with this has been to poke me awake so that she could go back to sleep before I started snoring again. Ha-ha, busted!

If you want to brag about your tan in German, you say 'Ich bin braun'. In English, you don't.

Nice try. Crappy results.

Whenever I do something stupid, Angie doesn't just giggle. No, she goes nuclear with her gut-grabbing and finger pointing. Yeah, funny. 

This one is true. I wouldn't be the man I am today without Angie. I wouldn't be a husband and I wouldn't be the father to my children. I couldn't imagine existing without these two roles and trust me, I have a huge imagination. Just ask Angie.