Quote Monday has an idea

Alex: “I have an idea. Can you hold my poop emoji?”

Grandpa S: “You bit off my finger!”
Alex, nonplussed: “You need a doctor.”

Ollie: “I can’t believe Santa gave us nerf guns.”
Me: “I know.”
Ollie: “Next year I’m going to ask for a spear!”

Uncle Ben: “I think…when someone tells you their grandma died, you never, never respond with a gif.”

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In which Ollie is hungry and the Tooth Fairy is (inadvertently) a jerk

Oliver lost a tooth the other day, and naturally put it under his pillow for the tooth fairy. On the way up to bed, the Tooth Fairy snuck in to “retrieve the package”. It was naturally pretty dark, so she was confused when she started pulling out sticky lumps from under his pillow. Dried cranberries? And peanut butter pretzels?

“He is sneaking food into his bed!” Sara told me afterwards. “The other day I found a plate of tortilla chips in his closet!”

Now, as background, I should tell you that Ollie is pretty much always hungry and always has been. He has been known to eat a half of bag of frozen peas after dinner, just to sort of top himself off. (Yes, he eats them frozen! No time to wait for that microwave!) Sneaking around at night to get a little snack is not in any way out of the question for him, and if you’re going to do that anyway, socking it away for later is just good common sense.

Still, we can’t have dried cranberries and peanut butter pretzels hanging out in his bed, so the Tooth Fairy left him a little note: “Eating food in bed is bad for your teeth! Clean it up and I will come back. Yours Truly, Tooth Fairy”.

“He’s not going to admit it,” said Sara. “I bet he won’t tell us about the note.”

Sure enough, the next day I said, “So, did the Tooth Fairy come last night?” “No,” he replied. “Really? She just didn’t come?” “I guess not,” he said. Sara and I shared a knowing look.

A little while later I was talking to Evelyn.

“Remember how I made that book about tooth brushing in 2nd grade?” she said. “I had a section in there about how to get more money from the Tooth Fairy. Ollie said he’s going to try one of the ways.” “Oh yeah?” I said. “What’s one of the ways?” “Oh, like leaving a snack for the Tooth Fairy…”

It was one of those Sixth Sense moments where you look back and realize everything you thought you knew was wrong. That poor boy hadn’t been sneaking food into his bed, he had been trying to leave a snack for the Tooth Fairy (for admittedly less-than-altruistic motives, but it was sweet nonetheless). And in light of his intentions, the note the Tooth Fairy had left was…kind of jerky.

The Tooth Fairy naturally felt terrible about all of this, so the next night she tried to rectify the situation:

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Ollie didn’t mention that note either, but he did say the Tooth Fairy had visited him in the night.

As for the carrots, I presume he’s saving them under his pillow for a little midnight snack…

Baby it’s cold inside

Even though we’ve caught a bit of a reprieve over the past few days, the last couple of weeks have been pretty rough, temperature-wise. We knew, of course, that our big, old, drafty house would probably struggle a little bit in the winter, but as this is the first full winter we’re going through in the house, we hadn’t yet gotten the full experience.

Well, let’s just say it’s been an experience.

Granted it was record setting cold, but our furnace just couldn’t keep up. It was running nearly constantly (20 1/2 hours one day!) and it could barely manage to creep the temp over 60. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen the furnace running in a house while the temperature continued to go down!

Upstairs was actually pretty comfortable (with the exception of Ollie’s bedroom), but it was a little hard to hang out up there with people over. And in retrospect, you could tell the cold was on our minds, since all of our Christmas presents for each other were things like slippers, long underwear, and heated blankets!

If nothing else, living in this house has taught me some things about Victorian England. NO WONDER they were always wearing a shirt and a vest and a jacket and a top hat and a bustle and fifteen other layers! NO WONDER they went to bed with a long nightgown and a cap on their head.

NO WONDER THEY DRANK SO MUCH TEA!

In any case, we’ve done a lot in the last few days, and I think we’ve gotten it under control (doesn’t hurt that it’s suddenly 50 degrees warmer!). Plastic on some of the worst windows seems to be the main thing, combined with new space heaters, new comforters, wearing long underwear around the house, draft things under the doors, heated blankets, going to bed by 9 pm…

Is winter over yet?

A look back on 2017

My birthday being so close to the beginning of the year, I’m usually feeling pretty retrospective around this time.

I think this is the first time that one of these hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, but I’m not going to lie: 2017 was a hard year. It is not lost on me that I’ve lived a semi-charmed kind of life up until now, and that my problems tend to be of the “first world” variety. I’m not trying to say that I have it harder than so many people. But, you know, I only have this one life to live, so.

I’m generally a pretty upbeat, optimistic kind of guy, and stress usually just kind of rolls off me. So maybe I’m just not used to dealing with it, I don’t know. But I do know that 2017 has been, by far, the most stressful year of my life and, in retrospect, I have not been handling it well.

There was the drama of buying / selling houses, the tremendous amount of work we’ve put into said new house, and just generally having a one year old running around, to say nothing of the mugging and subsequent identity theft. (You might even be surprised to learn there are other things that I don’t even share on the blog!) And honestly, parenting the big kids has gotten quite a bit harder too, partially because of all the activities and things they do, which require a lot of time and effort on our part, and partially because as they get older, their problems (and the remedies to those problems) get more nuanced and complex.

(Just to talk about the mugging for a second: on one hand, I would say I’m well and truly over it, and it doesn’t impact me anymore, and on the other hand I would say that it’s been 9 months and not a day goes by that I don’t still think about it.)

So there are good days and bad days. It is certainly true to say I have probably cried more in 2017 than the previous 5 years combined (probably more in the last MONTH than the previous 5 years combined). I think maybe I had my first ever panic attack. But there have been a lot of good things too, not the least of which is my health. I ran not my customary one, but TWO 5ks this year. My weight has been maintaining somewhere around PRE-COLLEGE(!!!) weight. I have three very intelligent, very unique children, and a wife that I love very much, and we live in a house that is so amazing that I am consistently embarrassed by it.

I find myself reminiscing fondly for a time life was simpler (like, 2016 forex). At the very least I’m hoping for a calm, uneventful 2018, after which we will look back on 2017 and see it for the aberration it was. Just one blip on the radar, not the beginning of a trend (please not the beginning of a trend; I can’t handle another 2017!), just a one time course correction before everything settles down.

In the meantime, I am reexamining everything. Typically my approach to difficulties is just to keep my nose to the grindstone and work as hard as I can until I get to the other side. Just keep those legs churning. It has lately occurred to me that that approach only works if I am pointed in the right direction. If I’m throwing myself into work in the wrong direction, that is, in a way that is not recognized or appreciated because it’s not what everyone else wanted or expected, then I’m actually just digging in deeper and making the problem worse.

So my New Year’s resolution for 2018 is to realign and strive for Zen. Hopefully, if nothing else, I can learn some lessons that will help ultimately redeem 2017 into something worthwhile.

Here’s to a peaceful, calm, Zen 2018!

Story by me in Gallery of Curiosities issue #1

I am very pleased to announce my story “Bright and Falling, Like an Avenging Angel” is currently available in Gallery of Curiosities issue #1!

What to say about this story?

It’s an alt-history, steampunk (ethanol-punk?) Civil War / Lovecraft mashup in epistolary format. So if Civil War-era mechs battling tentacle beasts from space is something that sounds like it will appeal to you, 1) you should check this out, and 2) you’re my kind of person.

I admit that I have not yet read this issue due to the holidays, but I am really, really excited to. As a huge fan of The Drabblecast, who is still mourning its loss a full year later, Gallery of Curiosities seems fit to fill the Drabblecast-shaped hole in my heart.

The story should eventually be available in audio, but if you can’t wait, the issue is available for purchase now for an extremely modest price (the price of a 1977 movie ticket!).

Christmas 2017

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The Dog Days of Winter Break, or, everything is symbolic of life these days

Yesterday was the family Christmas party and we told the kids we weren’t going to monitor what they ate as far as sweets, but that they should “use good judgement” and “try to eat SOME things that are good for you”.

Naturally, every time we saw them, they were grabbing a few more cookies or candies. What can you do, though? Some lessons you have to learn yourself.

Cut to 1 am when Ollie came into our room to say he threw up. As I scrubbed his floor he held his tummy and said, “I’m never going to eat sweets again!” (And so far he has kept to his deal; he hasn’t eaten any candy in the first four hours of this morning!)

After I got him tucked back into bed, I went to rinse out some of the rags I had used to clean up. When I started the bath I discovered that someone had left the shower plug up…discovered by receiving a full blast of freezing cold water on the back of my head.

I have to say, there is something special about a full blast of ice water on your head at 1:45 am when your hands are covered in someone else’s puke. Somehow it just felt…apropos pro.

2017 going out with a bang.