Monday, December 17, 2007

Seven random things about me

My niece Jennifer has "tagged me" in the blogging game of "Seven random things about me", so here goes...

1) I shoplifted a lollipop from a convenience store when I was 5. I still remember my mom's eye's in the rear view mirror when she looked and saw it in my mouth.

2) I played saxophone from 5th thru 9th grade. I was horrible. Canadian geese would land nearby to see what was wrong.

3) My grandmother died 7 times when I was in high school.

4) I took a job at Boeing when I was 22, thinking I would stay there until I found my real career calling...24 years later, I'm still there.

5) I hate Styrofoam.

6) I used to work at Cape Canaveral Florida and have been on the Space Shuttle launch pad ( just days prior to launch) several times. Oddly enough I was allowed into this highly restricted area despite my history of lollipop theivery. The FBI security check somehow missed that.

7) Whenever my wife goes into the bathroom I like to stand outside the door and say "What are you doin?" Ooooooh, she hates that. It just never stops being funny to me.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Two Sides of Christmas

When it comes to decorating for Christmas it's a little like Martha Stewart vs Larry the Cable Guy at the Hughes household. Suzie (my dear wife) prefers a nice clean look - all white bulbs on the tree and the ornaments get an annual review to see if they are still worthy of going on the tree. She does a nice job of creating "tasteful" Christmas themed displays that look like they came right out of the Martha Stewart catalog (see pictures). I would describe her Christmas decorating style as "Tastefully Minimalist".

My decorating style on the other hand could be described as "Trailer Park Chic". I'm in charge of the outside decorating, which currently features several "inflatables". I like these blow up things because 1) They are super easy to set up and 2) I don't have to get up on the roof (I hate heights). When selecting inflatables I am drawn towards ones that just scream "tacky". Right now we have a "SpongeBob Square Pants", a "Snowman" and a "Santa in Sleigh, being pulled by two Pink Flamingos". The latter is a new addition this year. I didn't tell Suzie I got it and I set it up prior to her getting home from work. When she walked in the house I said "What do you think of the new display?" and her one word response was a decidedly disapproving "Nice...".

The other thing I do is a "Christmas Village". This miniature Christmas town began well over a decade ago as 3-4 buildings on a 2' x 2' board and has now grown to cover a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood with 9-10 buildings, a train set, a mountain, a flying Santa, lighted trees, bumper cars and dozens and dozens of villagers. Now by most accounts this village is pretty darn cool, but where it veers into tackiness is that I let my boys use it as their personal play's kinda like Santa's village meets Halo (an ultra violent video game). Years ago I gave up on trying to keep the boys away from it. The temptation is just too great for them so each year after I set it up I say "Okay, now PLEASE be careful and don't break anything" and as soon as I walk away and am out of their view I hear the familiar cry of "Christmas Train of Death!!" and the villagers are randomly selected for sacrifice. At some point invaders from another galaxy or pirate ship or from the dark side of town start showing up in the village. The kindly residents of the village do not stand a chance against these predators and everyday brings new carnage.

Now I am not a particularly religious person (that might be a bit of an understatement) but this morning I think I witnessed something akin to divine intervention. After Suzie had left for work I was sitting in our living room sipping a cup of coffee. I was enjoying the silence before our boys woke up all rested and ready to re-attack the village. As I was looking out our front window at the deflated inflatables (they are on a timer - the snowman looks really cool when it deflates) I noticed that a dog that belongs to one of our neighbors (a cantankerous German Shepard named Emma) was trotting happily around our yard with a stuffed snowman in her mouth - a snowman from a display that Suzie had so artfully put outside on a small table on our front door stoop.

Emma (the dog) first showed up at our house a couple of years ago after Suzie's grandmother "Emma" had passed away....Emma (the Grandma) was a sweet but cantankerous old gal...Emma lived in a trailer...Emma would love Santa and his Pink Flamingos...There's little doubt in my mind that if Emma could somehow come back to earth - she would come back as a cantankerous snowman stealing German Shepard.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

We are cursed

I am convinced that we are cursed. Seems like every other month someone in this house gets the stomach "bug". "Bug" seems a little cute for what I've had to witness this past year though. Once again the victim is Trevor. He said his stomach hurt on Sunday and then later he announced to everyone that he had the "bad poopies" (yet another "cute" desciption of something that is most certainly not). Why is it that when kids throw up (hope you are not eating right now) that they have to do it at 1:00am? It's bad enough I have to help clean it up, but why does it have to be in the middle of the night?

I'll give Trevor credit though, the next time he threw up it was early afternoon. Gawd bless the kid...I was in the bedroom and he came staggering in with the giant blue tupperware bowl I had given him earlier "just in case" and he murmered rather calmly "hold this dad" (handing me the bowl) and he promptly barfed into it. This lead to a rather comical tango as he and I danced into the bathroom so he could finish up in the toilet - as the contents of the bowl were beginning to exceed capacity (getting queasy yet?).

Clorox is my friend. My hands are pink and chapped from my constant hand washing. What's killing me now is that it seems like as soon as get about two bites into anything I've prepared to eat Trevor will go trotting by me and I know it's only a matter of seconds before I hear his now familiar request of "Dad - will you come wipe my butt!" (see my very first post). Let me tell ya, that tuna sandwhich with the two bites taken out of it sure looks tasty after that. Mmmm Mmmm yummy yum yum.

I just want to bathe in bleach...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Who are these people?

My boys brought home their school pictures the other day and after I looked at them I thought to myself, and then said out loud, "Man, you guys sure look like grown up boys now...". My oldest son Jake then said rather seriously "I know dad...I think I am starting to turn into a person". Jake occasionally comes up with statements like that make wonder if he is a budding philosopher - or possibly an alien from another solar system. Anyways, both my boys are getting to that age where they are starting to change and act more grown up. Moving away from being like sophisticated food devouring pets who can talk and into...well..."people" (who still devour food and remain somewhat pet-like).

Anyways, after looking at there most recent school pictures I thought it might be fun to build a web page using thier pictures taken each year to show how much they have grown up.

Click on "Watch me grow up" whenever the picture(s) stops to "morph" them to the next age.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Ahhh, Halloween. Still one of my favorite holidays even though as an adult I don't really participate in it much anymore. Can't remember the last time I went to a Halloween costume party. No, anymore it's pretty much all about the kids. I enjoy watching them enjoy it though. But like a lot of my blog posts I'd prefer to write about what I don't like…I find that so much more therapeutic.

When I was a kid...uh oh, I'm sounding more and more like an "old fogy" all the time…in fact just using a term like "old fogy" makes me sound like an "old fogy"…. Anyways…as I was saying, when I was a kid my friends and I would put on a our Halloween costumes that our parents helped us make which ran the gamut from bloody ghouls and the undead to dressing as a hideous version of the opposite sex. Then we'd grab a pillow case for holding the massive amount of candy we were about to collect and when there was no trace of daylight left (usually about 6:00pm) we would head out to canvas the neighborhood for 3-4 hours, only stopping in our candy collection when someone opened the door to their house and said "It's late, we are in bed now, go home".

By that time we had literally covered miles of our neighborhood and we didn't have any pesky over-protective parents following us with flashlights. Nope, we were on our own, like herds of 4-5 ft tall candy starved ghouls roaming in the night. Occasionally we would be chased by egg throwing teenagers, which just made the night that much more exciting. Eventually though we would make it back to our homes where we would all dump our candy out onto the floor into giant pyramids of sugar and chocolate and begin trading for our favorites. It was so much fun.

Now this is not to say that my kids don't have fun on Halloween, but it's certainly not the same. I saw a news story on TV the other day about "Healthy Alternatives to Halloween Candy" where this woman was trying to show how to make fruits and vegetables "fun" for Halloween. I was thinking "Are you kidding me?!" For gawd sakes let the kids have one night of the year where they can feel free to stuff their faces with candy without having any guilt about it! They are kids! That's what they do!! I remember getting the occasional apple dropped into my bag and let me tell you it looked really cool exploding against the door of the house of the people who had just made the mistake of giving it to me.

I must admit that I have now become one of those flashlight toting parents that follow their kids around. I don't do it so much to protect them, but more because I just enjoy watching them run from house to house. Compared to my Halloween adventures my kids Halloween is pretty tame though. Each year we go to our daycare person's house because they have a Halloween party for all of the kids and families. They live on an island (on Lake Tapps) and there is only about 25 homes on the island so the trick or treating is very safe and self-contained. The kids are not allowed to wear scary masks because "they might scare the younger kids" - to which I would like to say "Tough! Deal with it! I don't care if you are only two years old!" But alas, I relent and we make Jake and Trevor wear only mildly scary costumes…Oooooh a scary Bumble Bee! Oooooh a scary Prince!

This year however Trevor insisted on being a vampire with black makeup up around his eyes…now dat's my Boy!! Halloween should be scary! It's about blood and gore and yes on occasion adolescent cross-dressing…and then loading up on enough candy to put an elephant into a diabetic coma. Hand my kid an orange and you can bet my answer to their question of "Do I have to keep this?" will be "Hell no! In fact show me how good your arm is and see if you can take out that pumpkin that's carved like Minnie Mouse".

Monday, October 22, 2007

My New Truck (and my bad luck)

I got a new truck! It's a Toyota Tacoma. I loooooove it! I've been waiting to get it for several weeks now. I started looking for a black one about a month ago and I was told by the 5 dealers I contacted that there were no black ones in the entire puget sound area. I then decided I would get a white one, even though I've never liked white cars but for some reason I thought the white Toyota Tacomas' I saw at the dealership were really sharp looking. So I put in my order (because they didn't have one with all the options I wanted) and I waited...and as the weeks went by I managed to talk myself out of getting a white one and as fate would have it, a black one came in to the dealership - so I bought it.

So now for the bad luck part. I had only owned my new truck for approx. 48 hours - and I got rear-ended!! I was merging onto the freeway and traffic came to a stop and the young woman in the little Honda Civic behind me took about a 1/2 second too long to hit the brakes and she gave my truck a little bump. I was horrified! I jumped out expecting to see the worst but as far as I could tell the only damage to my truck was that the plastic plug that fits into the reciever hitch had a slight crack in the lower left corner. The young woman's car on the other hand had a nice dent in the hood. Like I said, I don't think my truck sustained any damage but I'm going to have a friend (who is a auto-body repair shop manager) check it out tomorrow just to make sure. The poor girl who hit me was a wreck, I think she thought I was going to jump out of my truck and kill her because she knew the truck was brand new (it doesn't have license plates yet). I assured her I wasn't mad, especially since it was not that long ago that I rear-ended someone myself.

Now of course I am paranoid to the extreme about anything else violating the "newness" of my truck. We were at my boys soccer games the other day and it was a rainy day and instead of caring about how my boys were doing in the game I spent the whole time freaking out about how much mud was collecting on their bodies! I was actually tempted to make them both ride home in the bed of the truck, but the rain and cold temperature - and the thought of child protective services taking my kids away from me stopped me from doing that. So instead I put an old blanket down and instructed them to "Do Not Move!!".

I'm sure in time that my fear of my truck being "violated" in some way will pass. But for right now I am still enjoying getting in it and breathing that sweet "new car smell" (which my boys have declared "STINKS!"). I know it's only a matter of time that the new car smell will be replaced by the smell of McDonald's Happy Meals and sweaty/muddy soccer feet. (Big sigh)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

THE Talk

I can't remember exactly how the subject came up but Jake (my 9 year old son) said to me last night something to the affect of "Dad, if you had never met mom, Trevor and me would still have been born right?". I was afraid where this was going but I replied "No. Mom and I made you and Trevor." Jake thought about this and then he said "But what if mom had married someone else - Trevor and me would have still been born right?" (This got Trevor's attention). I said (trying to sound all philosophical) "Without me, there would be no You. You are made of parts of both me and your mom. If mom had a different husband they would have made different kids - you and Trev would not have been born". This, of course, led to "the question"…Jake asked "So how did you make us?". But before I could start to work on forming the best response in my head, my 7 year old son Trevor piped in and said "I know! It was sex!". With my best wild eyed Gary Coleman look (what you talk'n 'bout Willis!) I said "What!". I then quickly recovered and said "Um, well…yeah…" and Jake immediately covered his face and moaned "Ohhh gaaawd!....".

I was then prepared (kind of) to launch into my sex education speech that I have been preparing since the boys were about 3, but suddenly Trevor said "Oh look dad, "The Biggest Loser" is on - can we watch that! (For some odd reason they both like that show) and I said "Uh, yeah - okay!".

Whew! Saved by grotesquely fat people…but not for long I'm sure.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Tasering the Stupid

Tasering stupid people benefits us all. It punishes people for being idiots without actually causing any permanent damage and an important by-product of it is that it provides entertainment for the rest of us. I site two examples recently seen on the news (and of course YouTube) 1) where a young man purposely tried to ask ridiculous questions at a John Kerry speech in an obvious attempt to disrupt the proceedings and draw attention to himself and 2) the incident of the woman who attacked a bartender in a drunken rage and then argued with the police - both were then tasered repeatedly by the authorities. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say it's okay for the police to just willy nilly taser anyone for no good reason at all. No, what I'm talking about here is tasering the stupid people among us (and you know who you are). If you decide to act like a fool and/or be belligerent in public then I say by all means officer pull out that taser and start zapping! Don't tell me the police are over-reacting…if you decide to act like an idiot then you simply need to decide whether or not it's worth getting zapped with 50,000 volts for it. In the cases of the guy at the Kerry speech and the drunk woman, I would've liked to seen them tasered even more - I'm talking about just tasering them till they are on the ground quivering like a piece of sizzling bacon. No I don't feel sorry for you, yes I think you deserve it. I'd even like to see people tasered (perhaps at a lower voltage) for lesser, but no less stupid offenses: Drive like a idiot - Zap! Talk on your cell phone in a movie theater - Zap! Question the price of every single item in your shopping cart with the cashier at Target ("I think that's on sale, you rang it up as $8.97, the sale sign said they are $8.57...) while I'm standing behind you waiting to purchase a single pack of gum - ZAP! ZAP! ZAP! ZAP!!!!

This is probably just one of many reasons I'll never get elected to public office.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's all about Mii

If you own a Nintendo Wii system then you know what a "Mii" is, if not, let me explain. A Mii is a character that you can create in the Wii system that can be used in the various video games on the system. My sons, Jake and Trevor, have created about 50 of these Mii people, most of which are designed to look like friends or family members. I found it interesting to see how Jake and Trevor interpreted some of us as Mii's. Some look vaguely like the real person, while others, like my Mii, are disturbingly accurate.

...uhhh, guess who this last one is....

Monday, September 17, 2007

Boys Will Be Boys

For some reason, even at age 45, I cannot resist a mud puddle. You'd think that at some point men would outgrow the urge to play in mud, but at least in my case this day has not yet come. This past weekend five of us (Craig, Ken, Reed, Robin and myself) headed for Capitol Forest near Olympia WA to go quading. Capitol Forest is kind of a Mecca for off-roading enthusiasts in this area. There are miles and miles of logging roads and trails to ride on and even though I have ridden there many times I still have only covered about half of the area. We left early on Saturday and met at the Straddeline ORV park that is next to Capitol Forest. The ORV park itself has several miles of trails which we explored, but Saturday we spent most of the day exploring Capitol Forest. We ended up riding for something like 50+ miles - which is almost the equivalent of riding from Tacoma to Everett. That's a long ways to ride on a quad...and our muscles were feeling every mile of it by the end of the day. The good news of the day was that nobody died or was severely injured. Accidents on quads, especially on rough trails like we were riding on, can happen very quickly. Craig put his quad on its side once (at a very low speed) and I nearly got bucked off of mine after hitting a stump with my rear tire - which caused me to have about a 1/2 second of one of those "Okay, this is when I die" thoughts go through my head. But alas it was not to be and I regained control before crashing off the hillside (yes mom, I had a helmet on). One good thing about getting older is that we now know our limits of ability and we rarely push those limits, and we also know that if we fall it's really gonna hurt. So even though we like the rush of a good steep hill climb, none of us are willing to risk a 20 foot jump anymore (older/wiser).

But that brings me to the mud. It was just sooo tempting. Once we got back from our long ride and got some food we decided to explore the ORV park's trail system a bit more and we kept coming by this big swampy looking mud puddle again and again. Eventually one of us (Reed) decided to go in it and he promptly got stuck. Once we pulled Reed out, the challenge, of course, was on. Slowly but surely each of us started going back in and pushing just how far we could go into the "deep part", but nobody was actually willing to try and cross the swamp. I recently bought some new tires for my quad that make it look like a miniature version of a monster truck so I was the obvious choice to try and make the first crossing. I made it about half way and then got bogged down in the mud. I almost got stuck but after several minutes of moving at a snail's pace with mud flying everywhere from my spinning tires I eventually made it through...and my quad and I were covered in about 50 lbs of thick, clay-like mud. It was a blast. Then we all got into the act and we had mud flying everywhere and pretty soon we had an audience of other quad riders and dirt bikers who stopped to watch us play in the mud. They were probably shocked to see that when we stopped to take a break and took off our helmets that the five guys bombing through the muck were not a bunch of teenagers but instead a gang of middle-aged guys. Boys will be boys...hopefully that never changes.

PS - Upon arriving home I opened the front door and proudly announced that I had survived the weekend and tromped right up the stairs and into the kitchen where my son Jake informed me that I just left 30 feet of muddy foot prints throughout the house (which brought a glare from my lovely wife that could melt a polar ice cap). As I said, boys will be boys...

Addendum (3 hours later):

This is what the quads look like clean - ain't they purdy? ...whew, it was a lot easier getting mud on them than getting it off! (but that won't stop me from getting them muddy again)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Men's Room

I promise you that all of my blog posts will not center around the restroom, but with that said... The habits of people using the men's room in my office area has always been a source for bemusement, puzzlement, revulsion and even at times a certain amount of fear for me. Let me start with the people who insist on using the restroom as their personal grooming and hygiene center, I refer to these people as "Campers". I'm not talking about someone who comes in and quickly combs their hair, no I'm talking about the guy who brings in a duffle bag of toiletries and spends the first hour of each working day shaving, brushing his teeth, flossing, cleaning his ears, styling his hair, etc, etc, - in other words, all the stuff he should have taken care of at home prior to coming to work! For the life of me I just don't understand this because 1) We are, after all, not being paid to brush our teeth for an hour and B) I usually want to spend about as long in the men's room as I can hold my breath. Next on my list is the "cell phone user". Okay, okay, while I still think it's rude for people to whip out there cell phones and talk anywhere they please (in line at the grocery store, at dinner, at a funeral, etc,) I have come to accept this behavior (or at least ignore it) as part of the advancing technological age. However, I cannot accept the use of a cell phone in a men's room. I'm not sure why but it just grosses me out! It's on par with eating lunch in there! I can't count the times I've been in there (quickly) doing my business and I hear someone in the next stall answer their cell phone "Oh hi honey, yeah I'll be home around 5:00pm. Do you want to go out to dinner at…FLUSH!!!" I mean come on! There is a time and place for everything, and talking on the phone while using the can ain't the time or the place! Lastly (though granted, I could go on and on) the worst bathroom offender is the "bathroom buddy". This is the guy who will walk into a bathroom with 10 empty stalls and choose the one that's right next to the one I am in and try to start up a conversation with something like "How's it going?". I'm always like "Is this person actually talking to me??" Does he actually think I want to strike up a discussion on how the Seahawks are doing? Hey buddy, alls I wanna do is jettison out of this stall before I smell anything that's going to ruin my lunch appetite. Cardinal rule # 583 in Barry's Book of Bathroom Etiquette - Leave as much space between you and other users of the bathroom as physically possible, and for gawd sakes NO TALKING!!"

Monday, September 10, 2007

A typical day

"Dad, can you come wipe my butt". And so it goes...a typical start to a typical day in my life. My son Trevor (7) has been battling "stomach issues" for the past couple of days. He's taking it like a real trooper (pooper trooper?), I on the other hand am not. For the second night in a row I have had to come assist him at 3:00am as he's battled with this stomach virus. I jumped about a mile in the air when he approached our bed and got his face right next to mine and woke me with a loud whisper "Dad - I gotta go!". Evidently he sees me as the "Master Butt Wiper" because he ignored my wife and made the long trip around to my side of the bed to wake me - I'll have to remember to add "MBW" to my resume in case I ever need to switch jobs.

Now for a completely different lovely wife Suzie (on the left in the picture, with her friend Cindy) just completed the 3-Day, 60 mile, Breast Cancer walk yesterday. We are all very proud of her. She was walking a little tenderly yesterday but she seems fine today (though I'm sure she is still sore). She trained hard for the walk and is probably in the best shape of her life - and she looks damn good too! Whoo Hoo! I'm glad she was able to participate in the event, but I'm also glad she's back home now (and not just so she can do the laundry).