A Child’s Guide to Vegetables

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My kids have always loved their veggies. But only under certain conditions. Long ago, when they were younger, I developed this simple Child’s Guide to Vegetables to help me avoid mealtime rebellion.

1. Carrots must be raw, not cooked.

2. Broccoli must be cooked, not raw.

3. Celery must be 2 inches or longer, never chopped into small pieces.

4. Corn must be on the cob, never loose on the plate.

5. Tomatoes are evil, but ketchup is heavenly.

6. Beans are gross, while refried beans are delicious.

7. Green beans are tolerable by themselves, but disgusting when mixed with macaroni and cheese.

8. Peas are fun to eat, but if one gets smashed, the party’s over.

9. Mixing different vegetables together is forbidden, as it’s simply too much work sorting them out to eat individually.

10. Brussels sprouts. Are you insane?

None of these rules made much sense to me at the time, except for the one about brussels sprouts (yuck), but at least the kids ate their veggies in one form or another.

These days, as my son and daughter have grown into maturing teens, only a few of the rules still ring true.

I’ll just stay quiet on which ones.

The 10 Worst Household Chores

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You’d think this would be the easiest list to compile, since all household chores can be viewed as distasteful. Nobody likes chores, but there are definitely some that are worse than others.

Top Ten Worst Household Chores

10. Dusting. I just can’t get excited about dusting. Vacuuming, yes, wiping shelves with a rag, no. Maybe it’s because the vacuum is a power tool and we all know that men love to have machines doing their work for them. Besides, dusting involves rearranging perfectly placed objects and knick-knacks. Anyone with even an ounce of OCD knows how frustrating this can be.

9. Clearing clutter. I’ve learned to dislike this only through daily repetition and the perception that it never gets any better. Will the clutter ever be gone? No, of course it won’t. Clutter abhors a vacuum.

8. Folding laundry. I’m good at cleaning the clothes, but my enthusiasm wanes once it’s out of the dryer. Again with the machines. Laundry, however, is a great excuse to binge-watch something on Netflix. Second only to folding it is putting it all away. You just know the kids are going to dump that neatly folded pile onto the floor of their closet.

7. Cleaning bathtubs and showers. I don’t mind cleaning toilets. It’s immediate and satisfying. Tubs and showers, on the other hand, seem like they should just clean themselves. They get a daily rinsing with soap and hot water when someone use them. Why should I have to do more?

6. Clearing out the refrigerator. Every few weeks, the fridge gets too crowded and I have to sort through the leftovers. There’s nothing good about lifting up the corner of a container of three-week old tuna casserole. Or discovering that a bowl of strawberry Jell-O has been knocked over and the contents are now pooled at the bottom of the fridge behind the veggie drawer. It also pains me to mentally add up all the money wasted on rotten food.

5. Cleaning cat barf. I’m truly thankful that our cats seem to have a preference for barfing only in the basement. It still has to be cleaned up, and I hate doing it, but at least it’s on bare concrete or old pieces of carpet. When they do hit an upstairs carpet or sofa, it’s enough for me to start Googling how much I could get selling them for scientific experiments.

4. Scrubbing pots and pans. I enjoy clearing the kitchen counter, rinsing off dishes, and loading up the dishwasher each night. But when a big pot or pan requires some heavy duty scrubbing, I tend to avoid it for a few days. “Let it soak” is my mantra. Yes, let it soak for a very, very, very long time.

3. Cleaning bathroom sink drains. I’ve purchased fancy swizzle stick things and all different brands of Drano-type goop, but nothing cleans a sink drain as well as your bare fingers. There’s really no other way to tug that moldy mass of hair, toothpaste, soap, spit, and god-knows-what-else out of that hole. It almost feels like you’ve removed a tumor from the sink.

2. Scooping the cat litterbox. The cats have shown up on this list again. Why have them if they’re such a chore? Because they’re extremely cute and lovable and we forgive them their disgustingness. Our cats are BIG, and they eat A LOT. So, naturally, I never look forward to sifting out their litterbox. Seventeen years I’ve been doing it, and it still makes me gag.

And now, the #1 Worst Household Chore:

1. Paying bills. Of all the dirty, disgusting, painful chores I have to perform around this house, sitting down to pay the bills is the only one that gives me a headache and nausea, and generally leaves me in a foul mood for several hours. It’s one of the few chores that is on a deadline and can’t be put off. It’s also not advisable to perform this chore while under the influence. Scrubbing toilets? Sure, have a few glasses of wine first. Paying the mortgage? Better be sober. One of the sure signs of maturity is the ability to pay your bills on time, and in full. But, just like with a lot of other aspects of growing up, nobody said you had to like it. Finally, this is the only chore that can grow exponentially if you fail to perform all the other unpleasant chores around the house. For that, it tops my list.

Hang Time

I’ve thought about this for a long time, and I’m sorry to have to say it.

It’s time for me to hang it up.

There are various reasons, but number one is I’m tired.

Very tired.

I’ve been tip-toeing around the issue for weeks now.

It’s just getting harder and harder to come up with the right words to express myself.

Sometimes I feel like nobody is even listening!

So, that’s it. I am decided.

There’s no talking me out of it.

I’m going to hang it up.

Kids, next time why don’t you just do it yourself so your dad doesn’t have to constantly be hanging it up for you!

Okay? Thanks.

Oh, and if it smells funny, please DO NOT hang it up. Toss it in the laundry room and I’ll wash it.

Top 6 “I Have A Bad Feeling About This” for Parents

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As parents, it seems like not a day goes by when we don’t get some sense of dread or disappointment involving or surrounding our children. Thankfully, these feelings are usually minor. We get over them quickly, or at least with very little pain and suffering.

With apologies to George Lucas, here are my
Top 6 “I Have A Bad Feeling About This” For Parents

1. The most common one occurs while sitting on the toilet, usually after you’ve concluded your business, when you look over to see that there is no toilet paper on the roll. How many times do we have to tell our kids to replace the paper after they’ve used it up?
Continue reading

Evil Elves and Messy Rooms

My daughter spun a tall tale last week about evil elves who live in her closet. It was yet another excuse to not sleep in her room. I checked her room out thoroughly and declared it to be free of elves, but she was not convinced and spent another night in mommy and daddy’s bed.

But what if I was wrong? What if there really are evil elves in there? I’m beginning to think that my daughter is telling the truth! Continue reading

Flipped Off By A 4-Year-Old

When my kids were young, hardly a day went by without them saying or doing something awesome I could blog about. These days, as teens, most of their activities are off limits to me as a writer. So, I have to take a trip on the wayback machine to tell stories about them. This tale is originally from early 2006. Definitely one to include in Idaho Dad’s Greatest Hits.

I arrived at my son’s school today about fifteen minutes early to pick him up, so my daughter and I sat in the car and listened to a Wiggles CD. One of her favorite tracks, Where Is Thumbkin?, started playing and I turned in my seat to do the hand gestures with her.

The song starts out with:

Where is thumbkin?
Where is thumbkin?
Here I am.
Here I am.
How are you today, friend?
Very well, I thank you.
Run away.
Run away.

I played along with the song, sticking my thumb up in the air and waving it about like a finger puppet, bowing, and then making it run away behind the head rest. My daughter loved it and started imitating me.

The next part of the song introduces “Pointer”…. Where is Pointer? Where is Pointer? Here I am… etc.

We happily waved our pointer fingers all around in front of us, then made them run away.

You get where this story is going?

Next up is “Tall One”…

So here we are waving our middle fingers around, only mine is hidden between the two front seats while my daughter’s is right next to the window. I looked over at the car next to us and noticed a woman frowning disapprovingly.

I can just imagine what she said to her husband that night: “The world is going to hell. Today I was flipped off by a 4-year-old!”

Christmas Love/Hate

I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas.

I love setting up the Christmas tree, lights, and assorted decorations.

I hate taking them down just because they never seem to fit back in the boxes I took them out of!

I love looking out at the snow.

I hate driving in the snow.

I love giving fun toys and games to my kids.

I hate that nobody ever gives ME fun toys and games anymore.

I love listening to Christmas music.

I hate listening to Christmas music, ’round about midnight of December 25th.

I love the looks on my kids’ faces when they open their presents.

I hate having to figure out where to put all this new stuff they’re getting.

I love the cookies and treats.

I hate that my clothes won’t fit right for weeks after.

I love watching A Christmas Story, Home Alone, and Christmas Vacation with my kids. And, after they go to bed, watching Love, Actually with my wife.

I hate that there are so many horrible Christmas movies out there, like Deck The Halls and Jingle All The Way.

I love egg nog ice cream.

I hate peppermint ice cream.

I love forgetting about the world’s troubles for just a few days.

I hate that the troubles seem to always return in a worse way.

What do you love/hate about Christmas?

I Brake for Cat Abuse

Over the years, we’ve heard all the negative homeschool stereotypes. You know, like we’re just a bunch of anti-social gun nuts teaching our children that the Earth is 6,000 years old and the President is a Muslim communist.

Okay, so that may actually be true of a few homeschoolers I know, but it’s just not the case for the vast majority of us who are simply trying to give our kids a better education.

I’ve talked with my kids about stereotypes, and how unfair it is to label a person based on misplaced assumptions.

Apparently, I’ll need to have that talk with my daughter again.

After I stop laughing.

Yesterday, we were driving down a residential street when I spotted a group of three or four teenagers throwing rocks at a cat trying to escape up a wooden fence into the safety of someone’s backyard.

I brake for cat abuse, by the way.

Actually, I yanked the steering wheel hard to the left, did a 180 in the street, and roared our van back to the spot where the kids had been.

They scattered like cowardly rats before I could even roll down my window to chew them out.

Watching them flee, my feline-worshiping daughter piped up from the back seat: “That was really mean of them. They must go to public school.”

First published March 10, 2010

Love/Hate Christmas

I love setting up the Christmas tree, lights, and assorted decorations.

I hate taking them down just because they never seem to fit back in the boxes I took them out of!

I love looking out at the snow.

I hate driving in the snow.

I love giving fun toys and games to my kids.

I hate that nobody ever gives ME fun toys and games anymore.

I love listening to Christmas music.

I hate listening to Christmas music, ’round about midnight of December 25th.

I love the looks on my kids’ faces when they open their presents.

I hate having to figure out where to put all this new stuff they’re getting.

I love the cookies and treats.

I hate that my clothes won’t fit right for weeks after.

I love watching A Christmas Story, Home Alone, and Polar Express with my kids. And, after they go to bed, watching Christmas Vacation with my wife.

I hate that there are so many horrible Christmas movies out there, like Deck The Halls and Jingle All The Way.

I love egg nog ice cream.

I hate peppermint ice cream.

I love forgetting about the world’s troubles for just a few days.

I hate that the troubles seem to always return in a worse way.

What do you love/hate about Christmas?