Go Ask Your Father: Mail, Pool Vacuums, Microscopes, and Supernovas

DW started her day at the park planting trees. She planted tree trees. That’s Cape Bretonese meaning “three trees”. Afterward, we went to finish splitting some firewood for my step-mom-in-law. We just call her Nanny Sharon. It only took about an hour and half to finish it as we already put in 4 hours splitting last week. Little Bang loved running the splitter and helping to throw the split wood onto the pile. Big Crash helped with that part, too.

After lunch we started stacking it in her basement. Her basement will hold a half a winter’s worth, or more, of wood. Our little work horse continued helping for another couple of hours. His big brother sat inside entertaining the cats.

Two kids with the same parents yet they have polar opposite work ethics.

1. How does a letter know where to go?

The owls just know. It’s magic.

It starts at the post office where you drop your letter off. Usually, the letters we mail are the ones the boys wrote to their cousins. A week or so later they get a reply. It’s like magic. Anyway, the post office sorts the mail by postal code (zip code for you Americans, except here in Canadaland we have letters and numbers). Once they’re sorted they’re sent to a processing plant that is nearest to that postal code. The processing plant has special cameras that can read the printed address and will sort the letters based on the postal code. This sorting enables the letters to be sent to the post office that handles that particular code. The post office receives the letter, and will either place the letter in the correct mail slot if it’s a post office box or send it on it’s way with the mail carrier who will deliver it to the correct mailbox. I’d send post by owl if I could just catch one.

2. How does the pool vacuum work?

This came to us over the summer where Bang learned to swim without a life jacket. Their pool vacuum looked like a giant ladybug. I won’t lie, it was pretty cute. Naturally, Bang was curious about it. Oddly, it works in much the same way as a household vacuum. A pump inside the unit creates suction. The water, dirt, and debris are sent by hose to the pool skimmer (where to look when you lose anything that floats, ie my wife). The pool skimmer will filter out the dirt, debris, and wife and send the cleaned water back into the pool. The little robot wanders around the bottom of the pool sucking up water and dirt like it’s their job.

3. Is this microscope powerful enough to see blood cells?

First off, you need to know there are two kinds of microscopes, compound and stereo. A compound microscope is good for magnifying the tiny details of the material being observed. It has one eyepiece. A stereo microscope generally has a lowered powered magnification for bettert view of whole materials – pollen, rock crystals, etc… – in 3D. It has 2 eyepieces.

Our little compound microscope that DW brought home from her classroom with a highest magnification of 200x? Nope, no blood cells will be seen with this. It would be the equivalent of SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) using binoculars. It’s just not strong enough. We can look at onion skin, salt, sugar, lettuce veins, fly’s wings, and a freezie wrapper. The printing on the wrapper reveals it’s printed with dots. You need a magnification of no less than 400x to see blood cells. You’ll need the same magnification to see sperm.

4. How big are supernovas?

In the night sky, they’re tiny. They look like stars, if you’re lucky enough to spot one. I have Googled the shit out of this one and the best I can come up with for an answer is “They are the largest explosions in space”. Thanks NASA for that generalization. We have no worries about our sun going supernova on us. It doesn’t have enough mass. However, once it runs out of fuel it will swell to a red giant and vaporize Earth before it shrivels into a white dwarf (Sleepy or Tyrion?). There are two types of supernova. In type one, a star collects matter from a nearby star until a runaway nuclear reaction ignites the explosion. In type two, a star runs out of nuclear fuel and collapses under its own gravity. They eject matter up to 25,000 miles per second. That’s around the Earth’s equator in one second. It’s also how fast I come running when someone hollers, “I’ve got chocolate!”

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I haven’t gone supernova yet, so you can still find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Questions I Asked My Kids

If you are a parent of kid who can talk, you know how many questions they can asked in the run of a day. If you’re good you can answer the question truthfully and in such a way they can understand without raising more questions. However, once you’re aboard the question train, there’s no getting off. There’s no telling when your next stop will be.

It’ll be somewhere between 4th question and doubting your own existence.

To get even, I ask them some questions in return. Unfortunately, it has slightly backfired. They now look forward to Thursday question day. Sometimes they ask if we can do Thursday questions on Tuesday. I’ve come to enjoy it. I learn a little bit more about them and how those gears turn in their little heads.

As always, feel free to ask your own kids these questions. Or any questions. This is the 46 time I’ve asked them. Just make sure you tag me in your post so I can read their answers!

1. What would be the awesomest thing to build out of Lego?
Crash: A really big house that is my size that I didn’t have to pay rent and had a lock on it
Bang: A skyscraper for real life so you can go up and see the whole world. But no stomping!

2. What animal would be the most fun to ride?
Crash: A frog if it was the right size for me to ride. It would be fun to ride Yoshi too
Bang: A camel

3. What animal would you NOT want to ride?
Crash: Turtle because they’re slow
Bang: Rhinoceros

4. How would you learn if you didn’t go to school?
Crash: Home schooled
Bang: Do school at home

5. What song will you request to listen to in the truck?
Crash: Glorious by Macklemore
Bang: Blue Bells by AC/DC

6. What would be a cool flavor for toothpaste?
Crash: Goldfish
Bang: Pop (Coke)

7. If I wrote a book about you, what should I call it?
Crash: Crash the Smart, Awesome, and Dabbing Person
Bang: I’m Awesome (DW says it should be called “Cranky MacCranky Pants)

8. What causes earthquakes?
Crash: When two parts of islands collide and it shakes them
Bang: When the earth gets too shaky from too much wind or it’s spinning too fast

9. How many M&M’s do you think will fit in your mouth?
Crash: 150
Bang: 15 million because I love M&M’s
DW: All of them

10. What do you think of mom and dad’s new glasses?
Crash: Yours are sorta funky looking but they’re cool at the same time and mom’s make her look pretty
Bang: Perfect and perfect

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Parenting with Clickers On My Socks…

At it’s roots, this is a parenting blog. More often than not I write about the joys and frustrations caused by the two creatures my wife gave birth to. I love those heathens, even when I’d rather they take a long walk off a short pier. In the words of Homer:

I want it all: the terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles…

I chose to make this blog mostly about parenting mostly because it’s what I know, mostly. I am certainly no expert on the topic. I’m not even an expert on parenting my own kids let alone yours and everyone elses. Kids provide an endless supply of stories, laughs, tricks, techniques, and thank-God-they’re-finally-in-bed. So I have plenty of material to share with you. Whether it’s about stupid, straight brimmed hats, places we visited, or answers to many, many questions, you’re bound to find something useful. Since I handle most of life with humor, I make sure to add as much of that spice as I can.

I have almost no idea what I’m doing.

I know I’m not the only daddy blogger and that’s okay. I’m glad I’m not alone. It means I get to look at what other dads are doing like a cheat sheet in Home ec class. I’ll show you my answers if you show me yours. Come to think of it, it’s okay to work in groups. It’s encouraged, really. We all want what is best for our kids, so why not cheat a little and look at what others are doing?

My kid is being an arsehole. Is it just a phase and how do I make it stop?

My kid won’t stop dabbing. Should I put him in a straight jacket?

How much wine will I need after today?

There are as many ways to parent as there are kinds of parents. Helicopter. Snow plow. Crunchy. Free range. The whole continuem between drill sargent strict and hands-off lienient. Breast fed, bottle fed, spoon fed. You know which one is best? Which on should we all be?

We all should be the best we can be. We should be the kind of parent that raises compassionate, educated, healthy human beings. Whether you live in a shack in the woods with no electricity or the penthouse suite on the 25th floor, just be the best parent you can be. Know your child and make decisions and saccrifices in their best interest. You’re not their friend. You’re their mum, their dad, their legal guardian.

Parenting is not a democracy, it’s a dictatorship. Set rules, set boundaries. Lord knows there are plenty of both out in the big, wide world. Follow through with consequences. Lord knows the big, wide world will do that, too.

But don’t forget to laugh and laugh loudly. Act silly and dance in the kitchen or the living room or the bedroom. Or dance in the bath tub until the smoke detectors start blaring (Yes, in our house, that is possible. It’s been done). Sing loud and sing proud.

So don’t come reading this blog looking for parenting advice. It only looks like I know what I’m doing because you never see all the edits, corrections, the behind the scenes action. I call myself a guru in the parenting world on the basis that others seem to think we’re doing a great job. We’re gurus. I’m also clueless. I mostly have no idea what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, or if it’ll make things better or worse. In the words of my wife’s Uncle Bud,

If clues were shoes he’d wear clickers on his socks.

P.S. While I’m out looking for clues you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Questions I Asked My Kids: Ep 45

The First Questions I Asked My Kids happened February 11, 2016. Since then, I’ve had 44 episodes. That would be 440 questions. Unfairly, that’s how many they have asked me just this evening.

I thought today would be a good day for a throw back Thursday. Here are the 10 questions I asked them 581 days ago. Lets see how they’re answers differ almost 2 years later.

  1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
    Crash: A video game designer or a racecar driver but probably a video game designer
    Bang: Builder and a maid (that hasn’t changed for a long time)
  2. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
    Crash: I’d have the power to do magic like Harry Potter but not exactly like Harry Potter because when I snap my fingers I could make myself rich
    Bang: Spring arms and Flying
  3. What are the three best things about being you?
    Crash: That I’m different from everybody else, that I have lots of stuffies I like to snuggle and I have a family to love
    Bang: That I get to watch TV, get to have trucks and play, and I love school
  4. Can you name one thing that scares you?
    Crash: Dying and my brother when he jumps out of nowheres
    Bang: Snakes, coyotes, and wolves
  5. What is the most disgusting thing you can think of?
    Crash: My brother when comes downstairs naked
    Bang: When people at school don’t flush the toilet after they poop
  6. What’s something that makes you angry?
    Crash: My brother and when I get crushed in Splatoon (video game)
    Bang: Sometimes you when you send me to my room
  7. What are you good at?
    Crash: Mario Kart, writing stories, reading, science, and snuggling
    Bang: Biking, scootering, squishing crab apples, and hockey and reffing basketball
  8. What animal would you like to be?
    Crash: Fox
    Bang: A giraffe (I’m still waiting for that 22 inch tongue)

  9. What’s the best thing about being a kid?
    Crash: We fit in the treehouse better than dad
    Bang: Get to go to school and get easy things to do like easy math and grown ups have to do the hardest thing in the world
  10. Name two things we should do as a family on the weekend.
    Crash: Watch Harry Potter or gets lots of Pokemon and have a Pokemon tournament
    Bang: Sleep together in your gigantic bed and I’ll sleep next to you and spend time in the living room eating pancakes

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Sunday Share: Week 36

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They’re so much cuter when they get along…

There are 365 days in a year.

52 weeks.

We’re on number 36. That leaves 16 weeks until the end of 2017.

15 until Christmas morning. I feel torn posting how many day until Christmas like I usually do. The way Harvey, Irma, and now possibly Jose wreck havoc. There are wildfire burning. There’s flooding around the world. People aren’t looking to Christmas. They’re looking to tomorrow. Recovering what remains. Trying to save what’s most important. Waiting for the storm to arrive, waiting for the storm to blow through, waiting to pick up the pieces.

Yet, I still see news anchors arguing with scientists by asking, “Do you have definitive proof that climate change is the cause of all this?” Nah, three consecutive record strength hurricanes is just coincidence. That’s a rant for a whole post of it’s own…

Stay safe Florida and Caribbean!
The rest of us can do some reading.

Accidental Hipster Mum
Shh… Be quiet and listen to everything 

Europe 2 Australia
Whether there’s a lot to say or nothing at all, together time is the best time…

Dream Big, Dream Often
Have a laugh with some Friday Funnies on a Sunday…

Hopeless Mom Antics
On fear, dragonflies, and running faster…

Fatty McCupcakes
When your asshole jeans tell you the brutal truth…

All In A Dad’s Work
Never know what the kids will say when you ask them a few questions…

Storm on over to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and you can follow me there, too.

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Questions I Asked My Kids

What a crazy, mixed up world we live in. Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. I think Texas brought it on themselves, though, with their whole “Everything’s bigger in Texas”. That was true until the largest recorded hurricane, Hurricane Irma, came crashing through the Carribean and Florida. Then there’s Hurrican Jose lining up and waiting it’s turn after Irma. There are wildfires burning in Montana. And North Korea is setting off Nukes. You know, because there’s not enough in this world that can kill us.

So, in light of all that happening, we send our kids off to school. Education just might be our best defence. As yesterday was the first day of school for many, I asked the boys questions about their day. They were both excited to go. Even better, they were both excited to tell us about their day when they got home. Of course, if you thought their favorite part of their first day of school had anything to do with school you’re gravely mistaken…

1. What was the best part of your first day of school?

Crash: Going outside and playing a game at the end of the day with my class

Bang: Meeting all my new friends

2. What didn’t you like about the first day of school?

Crash: Nothing really…

Bang: Nothing. I liked everything

3. What do you want to learn about in school?

Crash: Science, like experiements and stuff

Bang: Doing science… like make special potions that heal you if you’re getting attacked or murdered

4. What do you already know that you don’t need to learn in school?

Crash: Adding 100 + 40 + 6 because I already know it’s 146.

Bang: Math… like ten frames and stuff

5. What do you like best about your teacher?

Crash: That she’s nice

Bang: That she gives us lots of play time

6. What time should school start?

Crash: 11:00 am

Bang: 8:30 am

7. What time should school end?

Crash: 3:35 pm

Bang: 9:30 am

8. What would be the most awesomest way to go to school?

Crash: Riding a big dragon

Bang: Dirt bike and ride in the woods

9. What book would recommend to others as a must read?

Crash: The Land of Stories The Wishing Spell

Bang: Ain’t Gonna Paint No More

10. What do you want to do this weekend?

Crash: Have a sleepover at Nanny’s

Bang: Have a sleepover in my brother’s bed

The Entitled Millennial

I’m just going to appologize to Millennials right now.

I’m sorry.

I’m about to generalize your generation. Stereotype. I know it’s not all of you, but it certainly is some of you. Hell, even a few of my Generation Xers have the same mentality. We all win. We all deserve everything we want simply because we want it. We will all be successful millionaires. I know it’s not all of you, but I know one of you lives in my house.

Lets start with hats. The basic ball hat with a brim and a logo of your choosing. Functional. Decorative. It can speak for the kind of person you are. I’m a sporty kind of person and show my support for the O’s (damn you Blue Jays for beating us last night). Some show their support for hockey or football, Adidas or Puma, Pokemon or fidget spinners. You can roll the brim a little or you can roll it a lot. Or you can keep as it flat as Tom Brady’s football. I, personally, think it looks a bit ridiculous and I have to restrain myself from bending brims to their proper shape. I show the same self restraint when I see pants that hang too low. I refrain from pulling them up and putting a belt on them. You can imagine my shock when my 10 year old showed me his new Pokemon hat that his grandmother bought him and the brim was straighter than an uncooked spaghetti noodle. I rolled it. He had a conniption and stormed off and straightened it again. His mother came home from work and had the same reaction. He wears it rolled now. Just like it’s supposed to be. Want a Millennial? Let him wear it straight.

Okay… so straight brimmed hats really aren’t that big of a deal. Sure they look foolish to us Gen Xers, but it certainly won’t change the world. You know what will? Millennials who expect to get exactly what they want simply because they want it. A job, millions of dollars, more money for doing less work, a participation award. Or as we call it in this house, “The Gimmies”. He wants wants wants but won’t do do do. We’ve never put up with that attitude here, yet it runs rampant in the first born. This attitude can change the world more than a flat brimmed hat could ever dream of changing. The world is still a good place despite all that is being reported in the media. However, if the trend of gimmie gimmie gimmie instead of give give give continues, the world will change as fast as the climate. You can’t deny that.

We’ve been trying to demonstrate this giving attitude. I give blood and I take the boys with me to see it. I explain to them that every donation could help up to three people. We take them out to the community clean up to beautify our town. I mow the neighbor’s yard because she can’t. DW volunteers on the park committee and during election time. We both will shovel the neighbor’s driveway. Yet the attitude of entitlement continues.

I certainly don’t confuse this Millennial attitude with not caring. Sure, he may not care that his garbage can’t find the garbage can in the house. He may not care that the clean clothes I just washed and folded are now thrown across his bedroom floor. He may not care that he did a poor job on the chore I asked him to do. Half assing it would be an improvement. He may not care that his brim is too straight.

However, he cares deeply for others. I’ve witnessed him helping autistic children keep their belongings together on field trips. I’ve heard from parents and teachers that he helps the children with special needs exit the building during fire drills and the alarms are overwhelming. I’ve seen him be a bus buddy, making sure his assigned 5 year old first timer makes it to the right classroom when they get to school. He makes sure they get off at the right stop when they come home. He’s even fessed up to breaking a toy that another child was blamed for breaking.

It’s clearly not his compassion that needs exercise, it’s his entitlement. Entitlement far outweighs responsibility. If we can make the latter more important than the former, we can make the world an even better place. It’s a hard lesson to teach and an even harder lesson to learn.

Roll that brim, pull up your pants, and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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See You In September

It’s gone.

It just walked right out.

August is no more. Summer is packing it’s bags and Atumn is moving in. I’m okay with that, though. Fall is my favorite. Warm days. Cool nights. The window open. Me cocooned in blankets. DW freezing because I’ve got all the warmth in my cocoon. Fall is fantastic.

Fall brings baseball post-season, football, and all things pumpkin spice. My Orioles are contesting for a wild card spot. While I’m not all that into pumpkin spice, I could eat my weight in pumpkin pie. Dump a tub of whipped cream on top and I’m in my glory.

September isn’t just for ball games and pumpkins, though. September is also for the return of school days. While challenging, the rewards are phenomenal. Getting the kids to bed when they’re used to to summer schedule bedtimes is like hostage negotiations. If you offer too little they’ll refuse slumber. Offer too much and you won’t be able to keep your end of the bargin. They will remember everything you offer too so don’t even think about sweetening the deal in hopes they’ll forget. It’ll be the first thing they ask for in the morning. If you can’t deliver they’ll never go to bed again. Ever.

Besides bedtime, there is also the joy of back-to-school shopping. I get more than a little giddy when I see aisles and aisles of back-to-school supplies. Brand new pencils with no teeth marks. Markers with all their caps on tight. Paper so crisp and clean waiting for a math problem or an essay or notes on history, science, or passed to friend asking them if they can sit together at lunch. Folders and binders in more colors than a rainbow can offer. There are fresh, clean glue sticks not yet dried out, full of glitter and dirt and half eaten.

I know the back-to-school supply list can seem a bit archaic. It can also get a bit pricey. I’ve seen various parents rant about how expensive it can be. They question the supplies that are asked for. While I can’t speak for all teachers, I can speak for myself and the ones I know. We don’t ask for things we don’t need. But as one mother put it in her rant, “You want a microwave for your classroom, I’ll get you a microwave! Here, I’ll get you a pillow, too!” She was thankful teachers took her kids for the day. Parents seem to be thankful for school to start again because it means their kids aren’t at home driving them to Crazyville, Insanity for what they think is a good time. What they forget is the flip side of the coin. The teacher doesn’t have just their kid. They have 20-30 other kids, too.

If you’re the kind of parent who understands the plight of teachers, slip in a gift card for pumpkin spice latte or a medium large bucket o’coffee with those back-to-school supplies because you’re over the Walmart excited for school be to back. And because it’s not just the kids who are going back to school.

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

One Year with A GoPro

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Lights. Camera. Action!

I finally got another video uploaded. Since you’re here to read instead of watch a YouTube I’ll tell you about it.

Last August I received a GoPro for my birthday from my brother and his family and our parents. They went splitsies on it and surprised me. Over the past year I have, of course, been using it. I wasn’t content to simply use it to video action shots and underwater, though. I know that’s GoPro’s main attraction and it does it well.

I wanted more.

I learned that birds aren’t camera shy. I set the camera on the bird feeder stand and got great shots of the finches feeding. I set the camera on a tripod just a few feet from the bird bath that we converted to a bird feeder. Though it was for bigger birds – blue jays, crows, stupid pigeons, and the occasional grackle. We put peanuts in it.  They loved the peanuts and we loved watching them pick the nuts from the shell. The camera got them loud and clear while we were inside not scaring the birds.

I learned that I can use it to spy on my kids. I set the camera up, slightly hidden, in the bathroom. I would then wi-fi connect to it on my phone and DW and I could easily watch the boys “get ready for bed”. Here “get ready for bed” means wrestle, play in the water in the sink, scare the shit out of each other, and generally not “get ready for bed”. They never did figure out how we knew what they were doing without being up there.

I learned that it’s good for all 4 seasons. In the summer we take it pools and the beach and bike riding and roller blading and kayaking. In the fall it’s good for all that except the pool and beach, but it’s good for hiking then. Come winter it’s good for sledding and ice skating. In the spring we’re back to biking and blading and trampolining.

It’s also good if you just want to talk to your camera viewers. I still find it a bit weird to do, but if you see the video you’ll see that I do talk to it sometimes.

Anyway, the show goes from 40th birthday party to my 41st birthday party. I had to take a break after the clip of my birthday last year. DW’s dad is there and his arms are just a waving, conducting our severely out of tune, yet strongly heartfelt tune of Happy Birthday. I had to leave the video editing until the next day.

I’m still toying with the idea of a “sister sight” on YouTube to accompany my blog. Essentially, I would just be covering the same material only I would do it for others to watch instead of read. But really… where would I find the time to both blog and YouTube? Not like I have anything else to do…

A Few Pictures of Love from My Phone

The boys and I have done a few things since DW started back to work a couple weeks ago. We’ve stayed close to home, mostly. It’s the joys of having just one vehicle. I don’t mind, though. It’s cheaper and we make it work.

The little one loves to do math. He’s adding numbers that sum up to 20. He does it with no problem. Mostly because he uses his fingers. Isn’t that why we have them, in the first place? I decided to teach him something new. Addition with carrying regrouping. I did the first problem for him. I helped him with the second problem. He did the 3rd on his own and then we went back and corrected it. The fourth (and all thereafter) he did on his own without error.

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After teaching him school stuff, it was time to teach them life lessons. Their next lesson I called “How to tell if a girl loves you”. The good old pick-the-petals-off-a-daisy trick never fails. She loves me. She loves me not. This daisy told me she loves me. I’m pretty sure it was talking about DW and not that chick from Game of Thrones.

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When Crash tried this trick it worked for him as well. We always knew it was true love. You know a love like this could last forever. He loves to tell everyone he loves ketchup so much that he puts ketchup on his ketchup.

20170822_130839[1]The littlest hellion heathen sweet darling child loves to help. We found a couple blackish bananas in the fridge, added those to the freezer bag of bananas already frozen, and we baked them. With some flour and eggs and ten pounds of chocolate chips we made banana chocolate chip muffins. My little beater was having a blast. He wanted to taste the batter before the bananas were added. Afterwards, I’m surprised he was still willing to touch the bowl…

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Lastly, our love of donuts and tea and coffee always lead us to one place – Tim Hortons. It’s usually our Sunday treat after church. Bang sits with the choir singing away. Crash sits with his dear old mom and dad not singing a word. Then there was one day our baseball games were rained out. The games had started then stopped when the Heavens open up and we found ourselves at Tims…

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What picture on your phone means love to you?

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