Thursday, May 26, 2016

Potluck Time


One of the many things I enjoy about where I work is that we seem to find plenty of reasons to have a potluck. Personally, I don't think you should really need a reason to have a potluck. Gathering together around a couple of tables full of food is really enough reason in itself.

Well, tomorrow we're having another potluck at work. Or, as I like to think of it, see how much food a single paper plate will hold...per trip to the table. To be honest, the only thing I don't like about potlucks is trying to figure out what to bring. I'm not really sure why that bothers me since 99.9% of the time it's my wife putting something together for me the night before when I finally tell her about it. 

Since I am known wide and far as a healthy eater, I thought I should give it a little more thought this time around. (Or was it that I'm seen as wide from far because of my eating?? I always mix those up.) I wanted to see what I could come up with that might be a healthy option. Believe it or not, I actually brought a fruit tray last time.

I grabbed a couple stalks of celery to sit and ponder this a while. Once I added a few nice sized globs of peanut butter to the celery, I was ready to think. Of course the first thought that crossed my mind was that I wished I had some raisins to make ants on a log. My wife said she was surprised I didn't want to use chocolate chips for the ants instead. (Great idea! My wife is really smart.)

If it was a bit later in the year, perhaps I could utilize part of my tomato harvest from the garden. Tomatoes are healthy. They're quite delicious too. I mean seriously, my mouth is already watering just thinking about a slice of tomato stacked on top of a slab of pepper jack cheese melting on a half pound medium rare hamburger patty. 

Avocados are also pretty awesome. Not only are they great sources of potassium and fiber, they are also good for lowering your cholesterol. The tough part with avocados though is deciding whether to cut a few slices for my burger or whip up a batch of guacamole. I do have to say guacamole is one of my favorite burger toppings. It also has the added benefit as a tasty dip for chips while you're waiting to eat your burger. 

Cucumbers are another fine choice for a vegetable. Although I do vaguely recall having my fair share of cucumber sandwiches growing up, that wouldn't be my first choice. I'm fairly certain that cucumbers are primarily designed for making pickles. Pickles are great when sliced and carefully balanced on your burger. (Note: You can use guacamole like a natural mortar to hold the pickles in your burger.) If by chance you don't want to risk the pickle falling out of your burger, you can always drop it in your beer. It adds a nice salty flavor that really helps a "light" (ewwww) beer. 

Bell Peppers are a favorite in our household. We use them in a wide variety of ways. My favorite, which I am now realizing we haven't had in far too long, is a stuffed green pepper. There are a few benefits associated with beef-stuffed green peppers. For one, it's always a great go-to when you want a burger, but realize you're out of buns. My favorite is to have the beef-stuffed green pepper as a side with my hamburger. Besides adding a bit of healthy veggies to your meal, you can say you only had one burger.....but enjoy the benefits of two. 

I realize bacon is not technically a vegetable, but it does deserve an honorary mention in the vegetable category. My lack of knowledge on raising pigs may give me away, but I can only imagine pigs eat a lot of vegetables when they're being fattened up. (Yep. Google says corn and soymeal is popular.) So there you have it. Bacon is about as near to a vegetable as you can get without actually growing up from out of the ground.

To finalize my list of healthy options, I am going to end with a fruit. Watermelon is an all time favorite summer fruit in my book. I guess it usually tastes pretty good, but that's not why I have fond childhood memories about watermelon. Watermelon seed spitting is where the real pleasure comes from. Not only can you have a game of spit for distance without getting dirty looks, but also receive a good ab workout while trying to spit for distance. (Probably not enough of a workout to counter the pound of meat you just had with the burger and stuffed pepper though.)

Even though my thinking about healthy options like vegetables and fruits got me craving a thick, juicy guacamole burger, I knew that the burger option isn't viable for my work potluck. (No time to grill.) I have decided to bring Reese's peanut butter cup flavored Oreo brownies instead. Not just because that's what my wife had on hand and was willing to make for me. It also has some healthy ingredients like flour, a grain based product that's rich in magnesium, and eggs which are full of nutrients. 

I'm excited to see what everyone else brings in tomorrow. I've been trying to ignore all the chatter this week leading up to the potluck so I could be surprised tomorrow. I'm going to sign off now so I have time to plan my six, ten-minute "lunches" tomorrow in an effort to maximize my potlucking performance and effectiveness. Until next time....

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Don't Blink


I occasionally find it difficult to pick just one of the random blog ideas bouncing around in my head to write about. Per my usual fashion, I asked my junior editors (5 and 7 years old) what I should write about today. Before I could list a few ideas for them to pick from, my youngest daughter, Siri, blurted out that I should write about her. Well, they've never lead me wrong in the past....so here's a post about Siri.

Before I get in to the handful of things that first popped in my mind when she said to write about her, I wanted to clarify one (or two) things about her name. First and most importantly, Siri is NOT named after the Apple app with the same name. Although Apple's Siri is technically older than my daughter, it was not released as a featured app on iPhones until after my daughter was born...so nobody had ever heard of it. It really shouldn't be a big deal, but I'm an Android guy and apparently take offense when someone thinks I would name my daughter after a product produced by Apple.

In reality, my wife and I were specifically looking for a more unique name. (However unique it was when she was born quickly diminished once everyone became aware of Apple's Siri....but I don't want to keep beating that dead horse.) The reason behind our desire to have a unique name is because her older sister is named Ziva and it's hard to follow a Ziva with Mary, Ann or Sue. (Not that there's anything wrong with those names.)

Before you ask....Yes, the idea for Ziva's name came from Ziva David on the tv show NCIS. It started as a joke before we even knew the sex of our baby. I just kept saying that if the baby was a girl, she was going to be tough like Ziva. (Ziva David is an Israeli Mossad officer turned NCIS agent on the tv show for those of you not familiar with it.) In the end, the name just stuck....but this post is supposed to be about Siri...

My wife worked with a real sweetheart of a gal named Siri a number of years ago. That is where the idea for her name came from. Coincidentally, the Siri that my wife worked with years ago is the sister to one of the teachers at our local school. 

My little Siri is definitely unique as a person. Although it might be more accurate to say she likes to operate at the extremes. Basically, she's on her own path and that path can change on a dime.

In one minute she will be playing mom to her numerous baby dolls. She will care for them, feed them, take them on walks and make sure they get down for naps. She is a gentle, nurturing and caring "mom" to her dolls. Very much a girly-girl.

She doesn't let her girly side run her life though. The next minute you see her, she will be knee deep in dirt and mud. She loves rooting around in the dirt finding worms and "good" rocks to add to her rock collection. She is also my number one go-to helper whenever I'm doing yardwork....especially if it involves gardening or something with the potential to get dirty. 

She also follows extremes with her attitude. She will be the cutest little girl with some crazy one liners all afternoon. Sometimes I wish I had a video rolling 24/7 just to catch them all. Just when you think she can't be any more adorable...she's not.

First rule for talking to her: Don't ever tell her she's cute or adorable. For some reason that really sets her off. If you happened to tell her she's cute late in the afternoon when she's getting tired....watch out. You will see the fire and rage you wouldn't expect to see from a teenager in full meltdown. Like I said - extremes.

Her eagerness for adventure also runs hot and cold. She will run in fear, screaming in terror, away from a housefly that buzzed past her face. She "pretends" to be shy around new people....and then soon won't stop talking. Leave her alone for five minutes outside and you'll find her climbing a tree or standing on the roof of the house asking if she can just off.

She is definitely my little daredevil. We have had enough trips to the doctor for Ziva's allergies and (what they won't label) Asthma. I fear the trips to the ER with Siri will be for broken bones. Hopefully not, but I am realistic and want to be mentally prepared.

At the end of the day, no matter what you name your kid, how unique or temperamental they are or how old they may be today - don't blink. These moments will fly by in a flash and you will wonder where it went. That's probably enough rambling on about one of my daughters for today. I should probably start writing a post about my older daughter now.... When she finds out about this one, she'll certainly need a post just about her too. Until next time....





Sunday, May 15, 2016

Bathroom Befuddlement


I'm not normally one to blog about hot political topics, but the current bathroom policy being forced on us was just too hard to pass up. If you're one of those people who only likes to read things you agree with, I'll save you some time and tell you right now that I don't agree with the new policy in any way shape or form.

I don't happen to agree with the lifestyle choice of transgender, cross dressing or any of the numerous other labels that may be applied to these individuals. Agreeing or disagreeing with the individual's lifestyle in the first place makes no difference on the new bathroom policy itself. It's more the slap-on description of "gender you identify as" that throws me for a loop.

Fixing the unbroken
As far as I can tell, we seem to be creating a rule to fix a problem that doesn't exist. I can understand trying to find a way to curb discrimination and keep people from feeling uncomfortable, but this policy does the opposite.

The policy is supposed to help a group of people that comprise about 0.3% of the population. Almost 4% if you want to include all LGBT according to Wikipedia. The blatantly obvious problem is that it's discriminating against the other 96-99.7% of the US population.

These individuals have obviously been using the bathrooms up until now. I haven't heard about some great bathroom issue that needed to be solved. As far as curbing discrimination and ridicule, that should be addressed in itself just like it is with everything else people get harassed about. It shouldn't be a policy that discriminates against a far larger segment of the population.

Since I am not one of those people suffering from bathroom confusion or any form of discrimination when nature calls, I decided to ask someone who might.

When in doubt - ask an expert
Believe it or not, I actually have a friend who served as an excellent resource for me. Yes. Me. The conservative Christian living in a small town in southern Minnesota actually has a friend to go to about this.

My friend is a cross-dressing man who is currently undergoing Estrogen treatments for an upcoming breast construction surgery. He is heterosexual and has no intent to change his male plumbing. He just happens to feel more comfortable wearing dresses and would feel even more comfortable with real breasts under his dress.

He is aware that I don't agree with this choice and can't personally comprehend the thought process behind it, but it's his choice to make.  If I broke off a friendship with everyone I didn't agree with, I would have very few friends.

So now that you have a bit of background information of him, you're probably wondering what his opinion is about this new bathroom policy. Well, he thinks it's asinine. He has zero doubt in his mind that this is the most ridiculous thing he's heard in many decades. If a cross-dressing male living in a small town with a greater than average number of Christians (many people think we're all bigots - so I thought I'd throw that in) doesn't have any issues with the bathrooms as they are, who does??

What's the real complaint?
The great majority of feedback against this policy seems to start with opening the door to sexual predators. It's obviously making things easier for those dirtbags, but it's not the biggest issue I see. They'll find a way to do their dirty deeds one way or another. Besides, there are plenty of male predators that like young boys (same goes for the females) and they already have "access" in the men's room as it has always been.

I think the bigger issue is the generic description thrown into the law about using the bathroom that "matches their gender identity." Really?? I'm gonna guess that there are about 97% of high school boys that will suddenly start identifying as a girl if it gets them in the girls' locker room.

This law to fix an problem that doesn't exist is just going to create more problems. In addition to the discrimination of the majority, I believe there will be a rise in peeping incidents and the associated assaults when Dads like me find out about them.

On the bright side
I am always saying that I try and look for the good in everything. In this case, I would have to say it's the amusement factor. The shock and sheer idiocy (once again) of Obama's horrible agenda is almost too pathetic to believe. It's like living in a bad dream. If it wasn't for the effectiveness of his plan to completely destroy our country, I would laugh about it.

I do find myself laughing at the deluge of memes making fun of the ridiculous bathroom policy though. My favorite from today was, "Kennedy put a man on the moon while Obama put men in the ladies' room."

Thanks for taking the time to read my little mini rant. I typically like to keep average jester a bit more fun and light hearted, but I felt like writing this one out to get it out of my head. Until next time....

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Inside vs Outside


I seem to be made aware of my age more and more lately. Not so much by things people say to me, but rather by thoughts going through my head that sound like something my parents would have said to me many years ago.

Sure, I've had my girls (and the occasional co-worker) point out that I am getting a few more grey hairs every year, but that doesn't bother me a bit. I'm not even concerned about how I'm ready for bed a 9:30pm every night or that I'd never pass on the opportunity for a Sunday afternoon nap.

It seems like just last week the snow was flying here in southern Minnesota and we were chomping at the bit to get outside. I was also beginning to get a little concerned about how much screen time the girls were getting between television and computer. That's pretty much my fault though.

We didn't seem to have that problem when I was a kid. Of course, if you ask my girls, they'd tell you we didn't have electricity when I was a kid. Somehow they must think that since I have actually ridden a horse I must have grown up in the old West. I should probably stop telling my older daughter that Laura Ingalls was in my class...

Now that it has been so beautiful outside, we have been spending as much time as possible enjoying it. I am loving our family walks, bike rides and playing at the park. We even got in a bit of early season gardening this past weekend. The fact that my back was a bit sore after a day of yard work didn't make me feel old.

What did make me feel old was the cartwheels. Yep, you heard it right. Cartwheels.

My girls got to see one of their friend's gymnastics class and now they suddenly want to be gymnasts. My first mistake was telling them that I used to be able to do cartwheels. My second mistake was feeling like a young kid again and wanting to do gymnastics with my girls. My biggest mistake though was not putting enough emphasis on "USED TO" be able to do cartwheels.

For the record, I did two pretty decent cartwheels to show them. I wouldn't have won any awards, but they were done with fairly decent form. The fact that I couldn't use my arms for the next two days DID make me feel old though. At least it was fun...and boy oh boy were the girls impressed!

I'm looking forward to enjoying this summer outside with my girls....especially now that they are more adventurous and enjoy challenging dad to silly things like cartwheels. Most of all, I am excited that they truly get involved on good old fashioned outside play and don't drudge along wishing they could be watching tv or playing on the computer instead.

That being said, I should probably shut down the old laptop for now and do something more productive like watch tv. Until next time....

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mother's Day Eve


For those of you completely unaware, Mother's Day is this weekend. If you haven't already planned something spectacular for your mom and/or the mother of your children, you better get on it. I am testing a new plan I call "Mother's Day Eve" to help ensure a successful Mother's Day.

This involves preparation around our house the day prior to Mother's Day to make sure my wife is completely wowed by my inadequate planning for the actual day of honor. Although this is my first year to attempt the Mother's Day Eve method, but I am fairly certain it will work out as planned. Here's what I did this year:

Step 1 - Leave wife home alone with kids
My Mother's Day Eve plan technically started Friday night. To really make the plan work, you have to make some sacrifices. My sacrifice involved hanging out with buddies, having a few beers and playing a few rounds of bean bag toss. (My team lost in the final round.)

The reason this step is so critical is because it properly prepares my wife and kids for Mother's Day Eve. Historically, whenever I spend the evening out of the house, my girls choose that night to fight bed time, constantly bicker with each other and basically push their mom's buttons. This leaves my wife and girls tired, cranky and generally miserable the following day.

Step 2 - Get the kids' helpYou're probably wondering why it's so important to ensure the wife and kids are cranky and miserable, but we'll get to that later. The key is that it is an integral part of the overall plan.

Kids are not always cooperative...at least that's what I've found. If I were to ask them to help me with my brilliant plan, they would find some reason not to go along with it. And considering it's a mildly sketchy plan, I probably shouldn't overtly ask for their assistance. Considering my kids are the reason my wife is mother in the first place though, it's natural to involve them.

Step 3 - Make it look goodI spent a large portion of the day outside with my girls. We went to the park, worked on getting the garden setup for the year....basically anything that will keep them outside in the fresh air and wear them out.

It looks good to my wife because she can get a few things done around the house without "help" from our daughters. The real benefits of this are two-fold. First, my wife is reminded of all the things she does around the house for our family because she actually has a few minutes to do some of them. Second, my girls begin to transition from tired and cranky to over-tired and possessed. This is the first step my girls take on the path to total meltdown.

Step 4 - Sit back and watchAfter the relatively easy steps 1-3, it's pretty much just a matter of time before everything falls into place. (Some might refer to this as "falling apart.") Supper time was when the meltdown started. Since it's part of the plan, I let my wife deal with it while I went back outside and worked in the garden.

Now, you're probably thinking I'm just a big jerk and a lousy husband, but that's not really true. I really do have my wife's best interest in mind as I follow this plan.

By arranging for my wife to have a miserable day on Mother's Day Eve, I am ensuring that Mother's Day will look like the greatest day she's had in ages. Even with my less than stellar plans for Mother's Day, I am fairly certain it will be a success.

The girls both crashed out hard core right after bath time. They will be well rested and in top form tomorrow for Mother's Day. My wife will be able to relax a little bit because she got so much crossed off her to-do list today. The icing on the cake is that I get to grill-out and my wife sees that as me making dinner. It's a win-win situation.

For the record, a plan that does not typically work is boycotting Mother's Day because "you feel it's unfair to only show appreciation to Moms on one day of the year." The same thing applies for Valentine's Day.

No matter how you plan to show appreciation for the moms in your life, just be sure to do something. You don't need an elaborate (poorly researched) plan like mine. You could use a one of the classics like breakfast in bed or giving them a day off from chores and other household duties. Thanking them and telling them you love them is always a good starting point too.

In reality, there's no perfect plan because anything you come up with will fall short of what they actually deserve. I still don't know how my own mom did it or how my wife does it for our family. My wife has the added duty of her 41 year old kid (Me) that she's had to take care of since before she was actually a mom. I'm probably the neediest too.

In any event and regardless of how my plan plays out, Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. I will tell my wife tomorrow. I don't want to ruin all the work I put into making Mother's Day Eve appear to be a miserable day. Until next time....