Salt In The Wound

Wife has been close to pulling her hair out for the last few days. She is quite the accomplished little home doctor, but when her patients won’t follow the prescription, well I guess that will drive any doctor insane. So, the two little boys, again, took off their Band-Aids. Continue reading

Because It Was There

It was a sunny day, in the middle of winter, with moderate temperatures. The high winds had stopped, and the cows had been chased out of the yard. All that said, it was a good day to send the children outside to play. But #8 has a love of travel. To keep him from wandering off somewhere in the wild-blue-yonder, Wife closed the porch gate. Continue reading

The Importance of Priority

#3 rushed into the house, out of breath, and demanded my attention with the announcement that #7 was, “BLEEDING!” She had me. I was standing up as she continued, “Oh yeah, and there is a dog here, and I don’t know who it is… but it’s not our dog, and…”

“Wait!” I interrupted, “which one is more important?”

“Oh yeah,” she said, and to her credit, she didn’t have to think about it twice. “I’ll get my brother.” And she darted out.

Whose dog was that anyway?

Whose dog was that anyway?

Lesson learned, I thought, pleased at the success. Now #3 knows that a bleeding #7 is more important than a stray dog. Next, enlighten her with the knowledge that all her siblings are more important than all the dogs, stray or otherwise. You see, the children, my children, no all children have the fatal inability to prioritize. Like everything else with them, it must be taught… multiple times.

Wife has done an excellent job with the little ones in that respect, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Yes, these children place vegetables in a higher priority than gummy-bears. I know, I didn’t believe it either, until my sisters told me so. They took the older ones to an amusement park and to their shock, and mine too, the bag of carrots vanished well before the gummy-bears were even thinking about leaving. Prioritization at its finest.

If only the children were that good with all aspects of their little lives, however when it comes to cleaning up their rooms… they take after me. Only a few days seem to pass at a time before Wife looses it and sends the whole bunch running into their rooms to clean it up before Wife does it for them. Don’t be fooled that she is doing them a favor. Her idea of cleaning their rooms is throwing most of it away. So they do clean. However when #4 realized what a mess they made, she let out a very loud curse, “Oh, MUFFINS!”

The children are learning, slowly, but they are picking it up. And in case you were wondering about my priorities, be at ease, #7 only suffered a scraped knee. He’s just fine. As a father, prioritizing is a necessity. A father without the ability to prioritize is a bachelor.

A scraped knee won't stop him.

A scraped knee won’t stop him.

The War of the Stones

One morning I was splitting wood in the yard with #4 and #5 looking on. They played musical logs for a while, and asked many silly questions as children do, and soon became bored with both. They began to re-explore the yard as I started to split wood once more.

In little time #4 had found two prizes. She hurried up to me, arresting my attention and presenting her prizes, while #5 tried to arrest her attention from behind. “Look Daddy,” she squealed. “I found two wocks. They look like teeff.” She rethought it, “Dwagon Teeff!”#4's rocks

I acknowledged how interesting they were and waved them back so I could continue my work.

They walked back and the little boy still pleaded to hold the rocks. After a short time the little girl thought of a way to satisfy her brother. She turned to him, holding the stones behind her back. “OK, OK, here’s what I do, I will trow the wocks and whoever gets them gets them. I will count to thwee, weady, I will count to thwee. Wait ‘til I count to thwee! One, two, THWEE!”

And, true to her word, she threw the stones. However, the rocks became airborne at the same moment she started to run. Her strategy had put her at least a pace ahead of her brother. The outcome was foreseeable. “I got them!” she said while #5 shouted, “Aww, nuts!” No joke, he actually said it.The rock of #5

This game played out several times before #5 just quit and began to search for his own unique rock; and it was not long, not at all.

He came trotting back not to show me his rock, but his sister. When she asked to hold it he said, “I phrow it, and we see who gets it first. I count to phree. One, two, phree!” And when he threw the stone, he was already at a dead run which ended with him shouting, “I got it!”

After two bouts of that, #4 came whining to me. I dropped my tools as I started a gut wrenching laugh. “You just did the same thing to him not two minutes ago. I’m not going to get after him for doing the same to you,” I said as I wiped the tears from my eyes.

#4 scowled, frowned, and I think was even able to touch the tip of her nose with her eyebrows. Knowing she would get no better response from her mother, she turned back to #5 and proceeded to tell him just how much better her rocks were.

#5 was perfectly content with the rock he had. Though I had my doubts whether it was the same rock he had at first.My rocks are better

There’s a Goat in the Van

Car-seats, shoes, seatbelts, and left-over-food, all expected to be found within our van, but a goat?

This whole episode started out innocent enough, as they all do, when Wife was having tea at my mother’s house. Yes, my mother serves tea to visitors. That day she entertained my wife as well as one of my aunts, who in walking over to my mother’s was followed by her entourage of small dogs and her goat who thinks she is a dog. And you thought the goat was just a ploy to get you to keep reading.

But before we get to the goat, picture the impromptu tea party. My mom gets out her good teapot and the matching cups complete with saucers. Sugar and honey are put into their separate pots, also a matching set. And the whole scheme is laid out on a lace table cloth. I won’t even try to get into the tea brewing specifics. Last time I did that, I just got yelled at.tea time

Around that round table sat Wife, my mother, my aunt, and a couple of my sisters. They sipped tea in between their exchange of information and bits of family trivia. While in the midst of their visit, #1 came dashing into the room, horror etched on her face.

“There’s a goat in the van!” #1 screamed.

The tea party stilled while the women looked at one another. All the women except my aunt that is, she only hung her head in understanding and then walked out of the house with #1 in the lead. The rest of the women craned their heads out the window to see the goat pleasantly munching trash in between the front seats of the van.

#1 pointed accusingly to the van intruder who was as tall as she was. My aunt then set to work at yanking her goat out. The goat resisted, as she was enjoying whatever the french-fry’s had turned into. It took a little doing, but the goat finally surrendered to her owner and exited the van with a mouth full.

When Wife told me about the adventure that night we had a good laugh at our child’s expense.  I said with a chuckle, “You know, it was good she saw the goat as soon as she did. Otherwise you might have had an unpleasant pile of presents left in the car for you.”

Daddy so Stwong

Nothing spells rest on a long weekend like yard work; and I do mean nothing. I’m sure many of you reading this do the same thing; look forward to the extended holiday for rest… and spend most of it working harder than you normally would at the workplace. No exceptions here. I spent the last couple of days clearing the front yard for some large projects we are planning on.

One of the tasks I set before myself (something I do all too often) was to move a metal shed from one corner of the yard to another. Despite how heavy that sounds, with four brothers and my dad it moved quite easily. The only real danger was getting tripped by a child.

After the shed was set back down the kids swarmed around it as if they had never seen it before. I found myself encumbered by #3 clinging to my leg with admiration in her big blue eyes. “Daddy, you so stwong,” she lisped, as I tried to kick her off.

I didn’t think of what she said then, but for some reason I did later. It’s easy to dismiss children, especially when I have more work to accomplish and all she did was state the simple truth. I am strong. I could lift with one arm more than all my children combined could. But, it is the simple truth that made her statement endearing.

Little #3 acknowledged and admired my strength for no other reason than to make sure I knew it. In short, to show her love for me in the most honest way she knew how. As a father, I could not think of anything I would want from my children more than that.

She made me stop and think; that’s all Our Father in Heaven wants from us. We need to cling to His leg and announce to the world how good He is. Not that God does not know how great He is, I think He just wants His children to say it and rely on His strength.

Taking a leaf out of my little girl’s book, I turned my eyes skyward and said, “Father, you are so stwong, tanks.”

Mid Summer Nights

I must say that one of the nicest features about the summer time is the summer nights. I do not mean the summer night-life, or concerts in the park, or bonfires at the beach. I simply like the warm air and the late sunset; those are the perfect conditions to send ALL the children outside after dinner, giving Wife and myself about an hour of relative silence before somebody bothers someone else, or gets hurt; often both.

As the children finish eating they dart out the screen door in ones and twos in the order which they are done. #1 and #2 were the first to exit the house the other night with #2 shouting after her big sister in a near panic, “Wait-up!” #4 was able to bargain with Wife her way out, somehow without finishing her plate. #5 was fixed to the table by Wife’s command that he did have to finish his plate. (In Wife’s defense she dished #4 far more than was given #5.) #6 was wandering under the table, bumping knees and becoming an all around bother of #5. And when Wife and I left the table, #3 walked into the room after us surprisingly quick with a suspiciously empty plate. Suffice it to say, we parents had our quiet and the children had the full run of the outside world. The universe was at peace.

Wife and I set to chatting about the day in the twilight quiet hour. As I washed off the day’s grime she was occupied by the endless task called #7. In the middle of our employment #2 knocked on the bedroom door. As I was in the bathroom I could only hear something about finding a hat and #1 would not give it up… I think… maybe. Here’s a thought, where did the hat come from? Oh dear, I hope they did not find it out in the underbrush! If so, Wife is going to be irritated (lice scare again). But it must not have been so, for Wife shouted from behind the baby changing table, through the door, and into the equally dense head of #2, “GO PLAY NICE!”

All too quickly the sun set completely and I was forced to deal with my children as they staggered into the house. Again another dilemma, #1 threw #2’s toy knife into the dark, and #2 was very quick to remind me, “It’s dark outside!”

“Here’s a flashlight, now all of you go outside and find it. And You! Don’t throw your sister’s toys!” A dejected crew walked outside, except #2 who was quite happy to find her knife and hold the flashlight.

Then I looked for the missing boys. #6 was easy to find, just follow the screams. And there he was yelling about something that would neither hurt him nor give him harm in any way. I left him alone. #5 was asleep at the table, meal still unfinished. I left him where he was as well. They would all be going to bed soon anyway.

Once the children were brushed and cleaned, they began to file into me for a ‘good-night.’ As I hugged #2 I was startled. The night-shirt she was wearing looked fine from the front, however the entire back of the garment was completely and permanently gone like some weird magician’s trick.

The little girl held the back of her impromptu medical gown closed as she scampered away. I turned to Wife with a question, “Her favorite shirt?”

Aunts and Cookies

While visiting at my parents’ house, the children were indulging themselves with chocolate chip cookies, freshly baked by one of my younger sisters. It was a hot evening, and the ceiling fans were lending what comfort that they could; yet everyone’s spirits were high. We adults were vigorously engaged with conversation and debate. The children were just as vigorously engaged with consumption and scampering.

They were caught in a kind of “Twilight Zone” loop. As fast as they could run, they would start at the dish covered with fresh cookies (they were only allowed one cookie at a time.) And like lightning, they would dart into a zigzag, duck and jump, make-it-up-as-you-go through the kitchen, living room, dining room, game room, front yard and be back to the dish of cookies just as they were chewing the last morsel of their allotted chocolate chip treat.

To be short, the house looked like an ant hill after it had been kicked over. The baby was passed from person to person depending on who he was content with for the next five minutes. And all the time, around the adult conversation, the children ducked under legs, ran around chairs, and made a complete nuisance of themselves. Everyone was having a pleasant time. That is everyone until #5 was offended by his twenty-four year old aunt.

The foolish boy was dancing some obnoxious jig by said aunt’s chair. He was prancing in circles, knees nearly touching his chin, a full diaper swaying between his legs. Squealing incoherent jubilation surely brought on by the great intake of Heavenly blessed, hot and fluffy, homemade chocolate chip cookies (MY GOODNESS my mouth is watering just thinking about them.) And during this improvised rain-dance he held aloft, high above his head his savory cookie.

Unfortunately for him, his over extended arm ended about eye level with his aunt. Observing the cookie in his dancing hand, she did not need to look twice. With the speed of a striking rattlesnake, she opened her jaws wide and ate over half of the two-year old’s cookie. It is my belief that had his thumb not been there, she would have eaten the whole thing.

Distracted as #5 may have been, he immediately noticed the loss of weight in his hand, and also who was to blame; and he did blame. As he railed and screamed at his aunt, she put on such a joyful show of cackles that it would have put to shame any evil witch. But the boy carried on so that Wife stepped in to stop him. After all, she was right about the need of #5 to show proper respect to his elders. To be perfectly honest I kinda took the boy’s side; but like any good parent who wanted to show a united front with discipline, I stayed in my seat and let Wife take care of it.

#5 has not had an outburst at any of his aunts since then. On the other hand, neither have any of his aunts eaten the cookie right out of his hand. We will see what happens then.

We heard a SNAKE!

While the children were playing outside, I enjoyed some quiet work while Wife left for a church engagement. I had the house to myself to blog and write without interruption; it was too good to last.

In little time all five children at play came rushing into the front room like a herd of buffalo. In the lead was trusty #1 completely out of breath. The mob erupted into a torrent of explanations. After many minutes of incoherent noise, #1 was able to shout louder than the rest, “We heard a snake!”

“OK,” said I.“Show me where.”

They led the way with #1 at the lead. “It’s over here, under the tin,” she shouted over her shoulder.

I was under no delusion; there are beetles in the brush that make a sound similar to a rattlesnake. They heard the rattle only once, therefore I was quite confidant to walk out in my Saturday morning slippers. Soon I stood before the old metal shed that had been burned down into a heap many years ago. The children pointed to the scrap tin and verified that they heard the rattle from underneath.

“OK guys,” I said, “calm down. It was probably just a bug.” I then proceeded to prove my point by boldly marching into the rusted metal. “Looks like the snake left.” Stomp, stomp, stomp. “Nothing here.” Stomp, stomp, stomp. “I think we’re good.” Stomp, stomp, stomp; rattle, rattle, rattle.

All eyes turn with one mind to the spot where the sound came from. Under a sheet of tin directly in front of me the muffled sound of a rattlesnake’s rattle sounded clear; and there I was, standing almost on top of it armed only with my slippers.

“OK everyone, back to the house.” A quick retreat ensued in which #5 was nearly left to fend for himself. Lucky for him I was taking the rear and simply scooped him up under one arm with him screaming, “NOOOOOO!” the whole way.

Once the children were out of potential harm, I pulled on my boots and armed myself with a shovel, the rattlesnake’s nemesis. I went back to the old shed with all the confidence of Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral. And like the famous gun fight, the villains were dead and I stood triumphant. Returning with a headless snake, I decided it was time for the children’s science lesson.

Practical science I call it. I skinned and gutted the still slithering reptile while twelve little eyes looked on with intense interest. We examined the skin, and I explained how I was going to preserve it. We examined the rattles, and the top three argued over who would get them. We examined the intestines, and saw that the rattler’s last meal was a kangaroo rat. Then to top off the children’s experience, I fried up the rattlesnake and we ate it for lunch.

I do believe that I make a very good teacher.