Sunday, November 30, 2008

He Sees You When You're Sleeping

The last weekend of November and it appears the holiday season is upon us. Christmas lights are twinkling on rooftops all over the neighbourhood. Holiday music echoes throughout the over crowded malls. I'm not a big fan of Christmas music, malls, or crowds so guess how happy I am about that one. And of course the store Santas have emerged from their yearly eleven month hibernations. That's a fact; look it up. Anyways, all that means it's time again to try and get the kids to cooperate for a picture with the jolly fat man.

Past history made me believe this was a futile endeavor. Hell, you'd be hard pressed to get a smile out of me if you took my picture with some stranger. Let alone if I was supposed to sit on his lap. With that in mind we went to a Christmas party at a museum on Friday. It was the museum of science and technology which the kids like on a normal day. Add some holiday decorations and activities and you've got a party. They made reindeer out of clothespins and candy canes out of pipe cleaners and beads. By they I mean we wound up making them. If I had a nickel for every time I got together with some friends on a Friday night to do crafts. The reindeers turned out nicely but I just didn't have the patience for the candy cane. Mine looked partially eaten, not to mention no real colour pattern. Guess I'll have to work on it for our next craft party.

So in addition to the crafts and snacks (one of my favourite things about Christmas time is the food) they had a Santa for the kids to sit and take a picture with. From the standpoint of roominess for the lineup the train exhibit was a good choice. Not the best location to ease people's fears though. A big dark room full of great big trains; who wouldn't be totally at ease? Needless to say the girls didn't want to wait around for Santa. Worked for me, the line was crazy. Apparently not as bad as the one at the mall though.

They waited for 75 minutes for their chance to see Santa. Thank goodness I was working. I wouldn't wait in a line for 75 minutes to get a life saving organ transplant, let alone to get a picture taken. We all figured they'd freak out when it was their turn to go up and see him but they just had to prove us wrong. They smiled for a lovely picture and even told him what they want. The older one wants a Gotta Go Doll and her sister wants a car and a doll. Considering how much they exceeded our expectations I think it's a pretty safe bet they'll get what they want.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Who Doesn't Love A Parade?

We went to the Santa Claus parade this morning. Usual sort of stuff; lots of happy kids, cold weather, lots of candy canes being handed out, and holiday cheer aplenty. Of course, as we all know, the first rule of the Santa Claus parade is don't talk about the Santa Claus parade. Oh wait, that's the first rule of fight club. Considering how things went though it's oddly appropriate.

So we got our things together and headed downtown to watch, like we do every year. Not having to pay for parking always thrills me so that was nice. Thrilled a lot of people judging by how full the parking lot was. After finding a spot, we bundled up the kids in their sweaters, winter jackets and snow pants. All that going on top of a couple foundation layers applied at home. It all came in handy when we reached the street. I'm not a meteorologist but I'm pretty sure the thermometer was somewhere around friggin' cold. Lord knows I love to stand in the cold and watch things pass by me really slowly. My ideal parade would be one where everything stays in one spot and then I can run alongside so the parade could be at any pace I feel appropriate.

Anyways, we staked out a spot and waited for our friends and their kids to get there. The gave me plenty of quality time with our oldest to try and coax her out of the stroller which was covered with a blanket "tent of security". She does not like loud noises which made the horns and sirens awesome. Apparently, she still remembers how Canada Day went down so she kept asking to make the noises stop. "Uh sweetie, that's a police siren. He's trying to clear the parade route and I'm pretty sure he won't like if I tell him to knock it off." After a while she agreed to come out from under her canopy of safety. The agreed to terms being that she have on earmuffs and a toque to black out the noise, I hold her the entire time, and we go into a building to get away from the loud noises. That last one was the clincher for her and a lie on my part. It worked though so I'm ok with it.

By now our friends had gotten there and we were all getting situated. That's when some lady next to us asked us to move our stroller so she could sit down. I use the term ask loosely as her phrasing was more along the lines of "well, I'd like to be able to sit next to my kids." Not an unreasonable expectation but we'd gotten there early to ensure room for all of us and quite frankly her request came across as very over seasoned with a little spice I like to call bitch. When the dad of our friend couple pointed out to her that we'd gotten there first so had every right to the space she got confrontational. I remember the words "are you being rude at a Christmas parade?" leaving her mouth. Things started to get a bit heated and our mom friend tried to get in between them. In doing so her arm came in contact with the crazy lady (or as she put it "she grabbed me first"). Of course her perfectly logical response was to turn and throw a punch into our friend's chest. Let me repeat that; our friend got punched in the chest at a Santa Claus parade. (Funny how ordinary words can be grouped together sometimes and not simply defy logic.)

After the punch was thrown my wife went to relay the incident to a passing police officer who didn't seem too interested in it. The crazy lady saw this and went to tell her side. Her side involving crying and leaning into the officer who had no choice but to console her. "Just go back and try to enjoy yourself" is what I believe he said to her. Can't say I blame him in either instance. If my job was to keep a parade route clear I wouldn't want to have to referee a battle between onlookers. His advice seemed to help as she sat down and everyone pretty much left well enough alone. Of course we all had to take turns standing to obstruct her view of the parade but that goes without saying. The parade itself didn't go too bad. We had to leave before the end because the little one's mittens did a piss poor job of keeping the cold out but the just meant we got to avoid the insane line up strollers waiting to use the parking garage elevator that always follows the parade. A win win in my books.

So it was a weird parade this year but a definite learning experience. First, if you don't mind missing the end of the parade you can avoid spending twenty minutes waiting for the elevator. Second, if you invite someone to a holiday parade they wind up getting punched, you're going to feel a little guilty. Third, and most important, if you go to a Santa parade and in telling people about it afterwards you use the phrase "and then I punched her", then maybe parades aren't for you. Some sort of anger therapy or conflict resolution strategies might be a better use of your time. Either way, it'll be interesting to see if next year's parade live up to this one.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Open Letter To The Producers Of Criminal Minds

Dear Criminal Minds Producers,

First thing's first, I like your show. It's one of the only crime shows I can be bothered to watch beside CSI. That combined with my schedule means I sit down with my wife most Wednesdays to watch your show. That being said, I have one complaint. QUIT DOING EPISODES WITH KIDS. Seriously, it seems like every other week at least one kid is abducted or murdered. As a parent I have to say KNOCK IT OFF! It's a cheap way to try and get viewers emotionally involved that is quickly becoming a crutch for the show. You're better than that or at least you should strive to be.

Ok, my motivation is a selfish one. Those episodes hit a little too close to home for me since, as I said, I have kids. Of course that means I'm instinctively paranoid and suspicious of everyone else when it comes to the safety of my kids. If you look close at their photos with Santa you'll see me standing in the background keeping a close eye on that jolly bastard. So the last thing I need is you guys feeding my own paranoia, especially with a weird looking Jason Alexander. Am I the only one that thought he was a bowtie away from looking like a long-haired Colonel Sanders? He did a good job but I kept waiting for him to blurt out his blend of eleven herbs and spices that makes his chicken finger licking good. Either way the stuff with the kids still struck a nerve with me. Hell, I'd be less creeped out if you did an episode where someone was only killing guys in their 30's named Dave. Even if it was just Daves in their 30's who loved sports and wrote blogs it still wouldn't hit as close to home as the kid stuff does. So one more time I ask you to please QUIT IT ALREADY.

Thank You

P.S. How much of a dick must Patinkin have been to get booted off the show?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

At The Movies

So if you go to a matinee of Madagascar 2 on a Tuesday afternoon, how much of a dick do you have to be to be bothered by kids making noise? That's the question we were asking ourselves this week. We went to see it and the little one was really into it. Lots of dancing, laughing, gasping, and yelling at the screen. The childless couple ahead of us didn't seem to appreciate it as they turned around a couple times to cast a disapproving look or two. They didn't say anything though but I would have loved to see them try and justify their stance. "I just want to spend a relaxing afternoon at a children's movie and I'm being disturbed by youngsters."

"Uh, yeah. That's the biggest joy we get as parents is having our kids ruin things for those of you that don't have kids. Now turn around and keep watching the movie in your non syrup stained clothes or I'll get out the McDonald's tie in toys that don't have an off switch and let the kids play with them until the credits finish and the lights come back on." Oh, what could have been.

Anyways, the movie was excellent. I definitely recommend it, whether you have kids or not. The little blurb on the commercial that says it's "better than the first" is right on the money. Even in cartoon form Chris Rock, Andy Richter, and Sacha Baron Cohen are hilarious. Especially the last two in this movie. Of course I think we enjoyed watching our little one getting so involved in the movie. Quite the contrast to her sister who was curled up on my knee because it was "too loud". She was brave and watched the movie but she didn't quite get into it the way her little sister did. A good time for everyone though.

So yes, go see Madagascar 2. And if someone in the seat ahead of you is annoyed by your kids just follow the example set by one of our youngsters parents, not naming any names but it wasn't me, and kick their seat a couple times when they turn back around. Yeah, the kids are pretty much set in the role model department.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Pregnancy Update

Bed rest is really very misleading. It sounds nice but there's nothing very restful to it. My wife got to learn this when the doctor she saw at the hospital on Friday recommended bed rest for the weekend to ease the contractions she was experiencing. I'm trying to figure out how to get a doctor to prescribe a video game playing/sports watching treatment for me but so far WebMD has been no help coming up with symptoms that would require that. The search continues though.

Back to my wife's story, she went into triage on Friday evening after dealing with contractions on and off for a few days. Once the frequency and severity got alarming it was time to get checked out. That resulted in the aforementioned bed rest. I can only assume the logic is that sheer boredom will result in her body cooperating again. After reading whatever was lying around and watching the movies we rented for her, that new Indiana Jones and Baby Mama, she had to resort to the TV. She got so desperate that she watched I Am Legend. She loves Will Smith but has always been reluctant to watch this one because she's not real big on, as she described them to me after she watched the movie, hordes of creepy bastards that looked like Ted Danson. I still haven't seen all of the movie so I'll have to take her word for it on the Ted Danson thing until I see the end. I've only watched about the first half hour or so, just Will and his dog in an empty Manhattan. I assume there's some action once the creepy bastards get into the picture. I also assume it ends with Will surrounded by the mob of creepies until DJ Jazzy Jeff and Alfonso Ribiero show up to save the day. I imagine they whip the crowd into a frenzy and then lead them in a well choreographed dance routine similar to the zombie in Michael Jackson's Thriller video. This would give the Fresh Prince time to somehow save the day which would somehow involve getting jiggy with it. Then again, I do have kids and we all know parents just don't understand. Got really sidetracked there but at least I enjoyed it.

Anyways, she saw her doctor this morning and she's off bed rest. She's supposed to take it easy though which means she's done working. She's now on sick leave from work which will then turn into maternity leave once the baby comes. Not exactly the way we'd planned it but it seems like the best case scenario, all things considered. At least she'll have plenty of time to read and watch movies which is nice because I'm kind of interested to see how that I Am Legend plays out. From what I've heard, I mean written, about the ending, it sounds pretty awesome.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's A Girl....Again

According to the ultrasound today we're having another girl. I take her word for it since I've never been very good at picking stuff out in those pictures. Even if I could figure out what's going on down there I wouldn't know what to look for anyways since I have no idea what a dangle looks like on one of those pictures. I never had any doubt about the sex of this one though. I don't have a problem with having three daughters either but I reserve the right to amend that statement at a later date because, as someone so kindly pointed out, I'm going to have three teenage daughters running around my house in about 13 years or so.

Let's put that into perspective. In thirteen years, I'm going to be a Tutti away from being Mrs. Garrett. That's right, you take the good, you take the bad, you take the rest, and there you'll have my life. Actually, it'll probably be more like towards the end of the show when it wasn't funny so that would make me like Clooney then. Ok, the show was never funny; I just wanted to cast myself as Clooney. In reality, if I had to perform some emergency room tasks to save lives there'd be more than a few casualties. And if I had to rob a casino vault, a museum, or another casino the best I could do is probably come up with like 7, maybe 8 guys tops. Certainly nowhere near the double digits I've been led to believe is required. Anyways, the point is I really enjoy the entire Ocean's trilogy. Wait, I think I got off topic there.

Ok, a third girl, that's right. The big upside on this one is I've already got experience raising girls. With the older one being three and a half and her little sister almost two, that gives me five and a half years of experience parenting girls. Throw a third into the mix and by the time the firs one reaches her teen years I'll have like 30 years under my belt. Keep your criticisms of my math to yourself; it comforts me to think this way. Another big upside of having three girls close in age is that I should only have to do hugely embarrassing things once when they're teens. If not all of their friends witness it for themselves, they'll certainly hear about it from someone. That means I'll only have to show up to one math class in my pyjama pants and rattiest t-shirt to deliver the anti-fungal ointment my little darling forgot to bring with her. I figure if I do that for the middle child then the kids a couple years ahead and a couple behind will both hear about it, thus spreading out the damage to their social status. Of course, that should only be a concern if any of them have met my rules for qualifying for dating eligibility. Namely, they have to be able to kick someone's ass before they're allowed to date. I don't care if it's some sort of martial arts, self defence, kickboxing, wrestling or some really cool ultimate fighting type combination thereof. If they want to date then they'll have to learn something in that ballpark.

Of course, the downside is that while I'll be learning from one kid and using that on the others, they'll also be learning how to manipulate me or get around the rules and pass that on to each other. Considering they'll have the advantage number wise it's kind of intimidating. Luckily, I'll have backup in this little adventure so I can always play my trump card. Go ask your mother.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Injustice Anywhere Is A Threat To Justice Everywhere

Since Halloween I've been eating more candy than I really should. Probably more than anyone should. It does lead me to two observations though. First, we need to do a better job next year of counting the number of kids in the neighbourhood. Hopefully, a more accurate headcount will curb our candy purchasing and leave us with little to none left over. Second, and most important, why don't the mint chocolate people take part in Halloween?

I've been enjoying Halloween candy for more than a couple decades and I don't once recall eating anything minty. Pep, andes, junior mints and the rest all abstain from Halloween. Even the mint aero bars are part of this boycott. You can't knock on three doors without getting a "fun sized" aero bar so would it kill them to shrink down a couple of mint ones? Would the technology involved completely throw off their profit margin? Of course not. All signs point to a conspiracy in the candy industry. Somehow mint candies have been blocked out of participating in one of the major candy holidays, either by choice or intimidation. My investigating, by which I mean, crazy unconfirmed theory, leads me to believe the major confectionery companies have joined forces to systematically exclude mint from the cavalcade of candies handed out every October 31. In exchange, mint gets to take centre stage at Christmas. Personally, I think that's crap.

There's no reason why chocolate mints can't be enjoyed all year long. (Don't even get me started on the Cadbury creme eggs) I say enough with holiday specific candy discrimination. Let us as the consumer decide what is and is not appropriate for the time of year. Isn't choice one of the cornerstones of a truly free and democratic society?

Don't get me wrong, I'm a firm supporter of all the chocolate combos. I'm a big fan of the marriage between chocolate and peanut butter. I fully support the gay marriage between chocolate and coconut. I don't even have a problem with the freaky threeway between chocolate, peanuts, and nougat. Heck, throw some caramel and cookie into that big orgy and I wouldn't even bat an eye. I just believe that combining chocolate and mint, specifically in junior mint form, is the pinnacle of what's possible when it comes to candy. To exclude them from Halloween, or any holiday, is an injustice I can no longer ignore.

Basically, I've had my fill of peanut butter cups and would love a junior mint right about now.