The chronicles and ramblings of a stay-at-home father raising his three beautiful girls, Anya Rose, Caitlin Rose and Reegan Rose.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fall in the Pacific Northwest

It's been a beautiful fall here in Issaquah.  Rainy season has arrived which means most days are overcast with at least some rain showers throughout the day.  From now until June, it really doesn't pay to watch the weather report, you pretty much know its going to be between 40-60 degrees, overcast, with a good chance of showers.

Since my last post, my parents came out for a visit.  My dad helped out with watching the girls while I had a series of volleyball matches that required me to get a babysitter.  With my hectic schedule of picking up and dropping off kids from school, it ended up being easier and cheaper to fly my dad out to help out with the kids than hire a series of babysitters.  Between his daycare duties, my old man managed to squeeze in a couple days fishing on some of Washington's finest rivers and lakes.  The Roses were excited to spend time with Papa and join him on his adventures.  He said the fishing wasn't half bad, although we never actually saw any of the fruits of his labors...

Nana joined us for a couple days as well.  I had to work a weekend tournament so I wasn't able to spend as much time with her as I would have liked, but Alicia and the girls had a great time going with Nana to a pumpkin patch and celebrating the Harvest Festival.

All three girls are currently enrolled in some form of school.  Anya attends afternoon kindergarten on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, Caitlin goes to preschool on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons, and Reegan has preschool on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  As of the writing of this post I have managed to keep everyone's schedule straight, but know that if you see in the headlines of the Seattle Post "Father abandons 3-year old at preschool" that I tried my best.

All the girls love school.  Anya is doing well in kindergarten.  For her birthday I invited 6 of her classmates over for pizza and games.  It was a simple party; crafts, stick on tattoos, a pizza dinner and cake. Nothing special but the kids seemed to enjoy it.  It worked out really well that Anya's birthday was so close to the start of the school year.  Her party allowed me to meet a handful of Anya's friends and their parents.  Ever since her party, she is constantly arranging playdates.  She even has herself a little boyfriend who lives just down the street... The little guy has taken quite a fancy to Anya, but she can easily explain it away, "Dad, it's just because I have a picture of a monkey on my backpack."  Is that why your face got all red when I saw him give you a kiss on the hand???

KK and Reegan go to the same school on opposite days.  They have a fabulous teacher who does a remarkable job of getting kids excited about school.  Both girls fight about who gets to go to school on any given day.  I love it.  Of course Caitlin has two little admirers who give her hugs everyday after class. "Jimmy is nice," she'll say, "but Reegan can marry him.  I'm going to marry Alex."

Two weeks ago I took the girls fishing on a small lake just down the road from our house.  We had a picnic and we were packing up to leave when a guy pulled up on a golf cart.  "Hey guys, I'm not sure if you noticed or not, but we're setting up a haunted trail for the Halloween season.  We open to the public tomorrow, but we're having a dress rehearsal tonight for free.  From 7 til 8 is 'Family Scare' but after that it goes to full scare and you wouldn't want the little ones around then... Hope to see you tonight!"  Sweet!  The girls were stoked.

Around 6:45 I asked the Roses who wanted to go and Anya and Reegan were ready to roll.  Caitlin, who had gotten pretty comfortable playing Tinkerbell Boutique with Mom, decided she would rather put together pretty outfits than walk through some scary woods. We arrived promptly at 7:00 ready for a fun fall night, when I realized that there weren't that many kids around.  We grabbed a cookie and a cup of water before the haunted tour began when a gentleman wearing a secret service earpiece introduced himself to me.  "Hi, I'm the director of the trail, thanks for coming.  Just so you know tonight is only going to be Full Scare so if it becomes too much for the kids, just step off the trail and shout and we'll send security to come pick you up."  He smiled at my two innocent little girls, dressed head to toe and pink, and must have been thinking, "What kind of jackass brings two little girls this?"  I talked to the girls about going home but they had there minds made up that they were going to go through the trail.  As I thought about my predicament, all I could do was laugh at the insanity of my situation.  They don't want to go home, but I don't want to expose my Roses to the headless, mutant who was standing at the trail's entrance.  When I was able to compose myself and keep a straight face, I explained that everything we were about to see was make-believe, just like from Mr. Rogers, except instead of King Friday VIII and the Platypus Family, we would see psycho clowns and the brain-eating zombies.  Yeah!!!

The girls held my hands and we walked through the half mile trial.  The actors along the trail did an awesome job of toning it down around the kids. They would jump out, see the girls, and try their best not to scare the little girls.  At one point on the trail, Anya looks at me and shouts, "Dad this isn't even scary!"  I mouthed the words 'THANK YOU' to a man with half of his brain hanging out of his head, he smiled and hid back behind a wall so Anya wouldn't see him.  The girls loved it, and I had a riot.  That being said, we will not be going again next year.

Tip of the day - When taking a shower and using a bar of soap, wash your face before cleaning your ass.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Another whirlwind week for the Schmidt clan.  Last week the family made our third trip back home to Minnesota.  Alicia had to fly out early to attend a work meeting on August 29th and the girls and I joined the party on Saturday morning, September 1st.  For Labor Day weekend, we headed up to the farm to spend some quality time with the in-laws.

Heading up to the farm is always an adventure.  On Tuesday morning, Anya and I joined Grandpa Jerry to take a cow to the butcher.  The meat freezer was getting low and that meant it was time for a poor milker to turn into hamburger.  We loaded up the cow and drove into Melrose to the drop her off.  I was expecting a big commercial operation where all the gore of the process took place behind closed doors.  When we heard the sound of a gunshot from inside the steel door, I began getting nervous that whatever was going on wasn't something my 5 year old would enjoy.  The butcher opened the door and greeted us with a 12 inch knife in his blood soaked hand.  

With big eyes, Anya leaned over to me and asked, "Dad, do you think we should tell him he has blood on his shirt?" I told her that he probably realized that since he had about a half gallon of the thick red liquid dripping down his arm onto the ground.  While Grandpa made farm talk with the foreman, the other guy in the room started propping up the freshly killed steer onto a hydraulic lift.  Once the beast was a couple feet off the ground, he slit the animals throat and emptied at its blood into a 5 gallon bucket.  Turning to Anya, I was expecting the worst.  My stomach was a bit queasy and I could only imagine the nightmares this scene could give to a 5 year old.  To my surprise, Anya was smiling.  With a smile of excitement on her face, she turned to me and laughingly said, "Did you see that!!!"  The oohs and ahhhs continued as they finished removing the cattle's innards into a 55-gallon barrel.  As one butcher removed the cow's hide, Grandpa unloaded our cow into the shoot.  Grandpa said his good-byes and Anya pleaded with us to stay and watch one more.  That child is going to grow up to be a serial killer or a surgeon.  I'm encouraging her to pursue the latter.

It was great seeing all the in-laws at the farm.  We were able to see all of Alicia's brothers and sisters in our short stay and were reminded of what an awesome family she has. Leaving the farm was bittersweet as we still had 4 days down with Papa and Nana and all my siblings were in town for my baby sister's wedding.  

Four families converged at my parents new home in Minnetonka, MN.  My sister Kari and her baby, Ellie, Katie and Dan and their kids Jack and Gracie, and Kelley and Nick with their youngest Micah, crammed into the 3 bedroom house for three days of celebration.  Having just moved in 8 days prior to the festivities, my parents were at a stress level hovering somewhere between a panic attack and a complete nervous breakdown (adding 7 kids under the age of 6 always helps the situation). 

Most of the the girls frantically put together the finishing touches on Kari's wedding while the rest of us tried to keep the kids in line.  It was awesome seeing everyone together.  With my family spread across the US, it doesn't often work out that we get so much time together.  

On Friday night we went to Lord Fletchers for the Groom's Dinner.  Jeff's parents put together a lovely evening of delicious food, plentiful spirits, and late-night drunken volleyball.  Somewhere between the sand volleyball court and the hotel I ended up at, my phone somehow fell out of my pocket.  My brand new $300 smart phone.  Where the hell was it?  I was pissed.  The morning of the wedding I woke up hungover and phone-less.  In desperation I called my number.  Nothing.  A few hours later I tried again.  Nothing.  Finally around 4:00pm, a hour before the ceremony, I called one last time.  "Hello?" A middle eastern man answered.  The cabbie from the night before found my phone in his back seat.  Not only was I lucky enough to find it, the guy offered to deliver it to Bay View.  There are still good people in the world!

With my luck finally turning around, I was able to enjoy Kari and Jeff's amazing celebration.  We took a 4 hour boat ride around Lake Minnetonka with all our family and friends.  We partied until just after midnight and decided to call it a night.  We hailed a cab and went back to my parents house for our last night in town. We paid for the cab and reminisced about the wonderful evening we had just had when I reached into my pocket to discover my elusive phone once again missing.  Knowing that I must have left it in the cab, I turned around and sprinted after the taxi.  Even my sub 10-second, 100 meter-dash-speed couldn't catch up to the lead-footed driver.  Two nights, two lost phones in taxis.  While my family laughed at the absurdity of my situation, I could do nothing but go to bed (well, actually Alicia and I did do something, but it had nothing to do with finding my phone ;).  

The next morning we woke up bright and early to catch our 11:00am flight back home to Washington.  Saddened by the loss of my newly found cell phone and having to leave the people I love, it made for a long flight home.  We loved seeing everybody and can't wait for our next trip back home.

And in case you were wondering, lightning did strike twice.  The cab driver got in touch with Alicia and dropped off the phone with my parents.  It is currently back in my possession and has no intention of ever riding in a cab again.  Ever.

Tip of the Day - Never underestimate the kindness of strangers.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sunriver, Oregon

Since I last wrote, the Schmidt's have undertaken a number of exciting adventures.

In mid-July, the whole family joined Alicia for a 4-day conference in Sunriver, OR. We stayed at a very nice resort (on the company dime) and spent our time playing in the waterpark and riding our bikes.  While Alicia was busy working (smoozing and playing golf) the girls and I made the most of our time.

One day I took the girls to an old lava cave about a mile from the resort.  We rented a lantern and headed down into the bowels of the earth.  While the weather on the surface was a balmy 78 degrees, in the cave it was about 40 degrees.  The Roses braved the cold and the darkeness for a good 45 minutes as we winded our way deeper into the cave.  When the walls had narrowed to just under 3 feet and the ceiling to 5 feet high, they decided they had seen enough.

Me - "Alright girls, lets head back."
Anya - "But I'm done now."
Caitlin - "Daddy, I'm cold."
Reegan - "Daddy, did you see the bear?"
Anya - "Where's the bear!!!"
Me - "There is no bear, it's just a shadow.  Follow me."
Caitlin - "But I'm too tired......"
Anya - "Daddy, I'm scared."
Me - "I'm really debating whether or not to just leave you down here."

I'm not sure what they expected.  Did they think we could just ring a bell and some Sherpas would come and carry us back to the entrance of the cave? Children, if I could afford Sherpas, I wouldn't be driving a 2002 Town and Country Minivan.

We checked out of our room in Sunriver on Wednesday and headed to Portland for the remainder of the week.  Alicia had a couple clients she was going to visit and since it was the halfway point between Sunriver and our house, we figured we'd hang out with mom.  We checked in for a two night stay and went to bed.  In the morning Alicia met a coworker and went to her client's office.  The girls and I headed down to the Portland Zoo and spent the better part of the morning looking at animals.  By 2:00pm, the girls were beat and hungry so we decided to head back to the room for lunch.  As we opened the door to our hotel room we noticed all our stuff was missing.  What the hell?  The beds weren't made, towels were on the floor, and all our stuff was gone!  We've been robbed!  I angrily called down to the lobby and asked for a manager to come to our room.  I explained to her that we left for the morning and now all our belongings are gone!  Anya added, "They even took our blankies!" The manager apologized and called down to the housekeeping department.

"Sir it appears housekeeping hasn't been through your room yet, did you check the windows to make sure they were locked?"  We went through the place and there were no signs of a break-in.  How could this happen?  The manager asked if we had checked out early.  "Um, since this is my hotel room and we'll be staying until tomorrow, I think I would know if we checked out early..."  The nerve of this gal, right?  Then she gets a call from the lobby.  "Sir, can you head down to the lobby?  There is a woman there with some luggage, is it possible it's your wife?"  I seriously doubted it since my wife was at a client, but I humored her. And there she was, with all our stuff neatly piled up next to a desk.  "What the #$%@# Alicia!"

"I tried calling you, our client didn't have any space for us to work so we decided to head back home today. I thought you'd be excited?"  Excited wasn't exactly what I was feeling at the moment. I went back to our room and apologized to the manager and rounded up the girls for our drive home.  It was a quiet drive until my blood pressure returned to a healthy level.

Tip of the Day - When you have a cell phone and are out of town, don't leave it in the hotel room.  Plans change and you feel like an ass when you have 4 messages saying "We're checking out early" and you harass a hotel manager that someone stole all your shit.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nothing beats blowing shit up

The Fourth of July was last week and we had some friends from Minnesota come visit for the holiday.  Stacy , Eric and their two kids, Brody and Ava came out for a 5 day vacation and we were excited to have them.  They arrived around noon on Wednesday and we took full advantage of the beautiful weather.  We sat on our porch while the 5 kids ran around entertaining themselves.  Once your kids reach a certain age, the theory of subtraction by addition takes place; add enough kids and they pretty much take care of themselves.  While fireworks are illegal in the entire Seattle area, we learned that our particular development thumbed their noses at the bigwigs of King County for their tyrannous laws against blowing shit up and unincorporated themselves.

As a student of human sociology, I have always found it interesting to see how males in various cultures assert their importance.  In Native American cultures, headdresses were granted to the males in authority; the middle ages adorned their men with ornate pieces of armor; in the Mid West men buy big trucks.  In Klahanie (our neighborhood), the man with the biggest penis is the one who spends the most money on dumb and dangerous fireworks.  By 9:00pm it sounded like D-Day!  We must have witnessed $10,000 worth of heavy duty explosives set in the air under the watchful eye of a neighborhood of drunk guys.  In there defense, we didn't see any drunk people actually firing off the $200+ fireworks, they had their 10-13 year old kids doing it.  I can't believe the government wants to keep butting it's head into our own personal liberties.  I mean aside from a few fires caused by falling embers and a car that exploded at 1:30am from a mortar that had been smoldering on the ground before detonating, the night went off without a hitch!  As unsafe as the event was, Eric and I had an amazing time enjoying the show.

The next several days we spent hiking, swimming, bar-hopping and enjoying each others company.  We ended up taking the kids to the pool just down the block from our house several times to beat the 75 degree heat.  They have a regular sized pool and a shallow pool for the kids.  When Reegan asked what the name of the small pool was, I told her it was the kiddie pool.  Reegan loves the 'Kitty Cat' pool.

We were sad to see our friends leave last Sunday, but we have an exciting week ahead to look forward to.  We will be heading down to Sunriver, Oregon tomorrow for another week long vacation.  Alicia has a conference there and families were invited to spend the week at the resort as well.  It should be a fun week of playing in the waterpark and relaxing.

In preparation for our 6 hour drive, I took the girls to the library to stock up on books and videos.  With Anya turning 6 in September, I thought the time was right to get her her own library card (besides, if those books and movies don't make it back from Oregon, I don't want that shit on my permanent record.  That's the last thing I need; going to jail for not returning Max and Ruby Save Christmas on time.  Do you know what they do to guys in the slammer for renting movies like that?).  When we got in the car Anya was so excited.  She said "Dad can you believe it?  I have my first Credit Card!"

The sad thing is is that she's right!  This card allows her to pretty much get anything she wants at her age; Barbie movies, picture books, and unlimited internet access.  I didn't have the heart to tell her that it wasn't a real credit card, but I'm sure I'll have a good blog story when she tries to pay off my $100 bar tab with a library card. ;)

Tip of the Day - Attempting to explain the difference between a kiddie pool and 'kitty cat' pool to a stubborn 2 year old is not worth your time or energy. Just accept the strange looks when your child plays in the water Meowing.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Potty Time Up in Here

Right before our trip home to Minnesota, Reegan drew Alicia and I this picture:
Can you guess what this is?  Neither could I.  But after Reegan explained her artistic creation, it all made sense.

"It's poop Dad!  It's my poopie! See, it's poopie!"  She literally said, "It's poop Dad!" ten times.

And those strange dots around it?  Yep, potty. My Reegan is a Picasso!  I mean it isn't the best drawn picture of shit I've ever seen, but it easily make my top 5.  Mr. Poo takes top honors, but even he doesn't have the potty to go with him.  I'm so proud of my little Reegsy.  And in case you were wondering, no she still is not potty trained.

On a different note, the Schmidt's just returned home to Washington yesterday after spending 15 days back in Minnesota.  We had an absolutely amazing trip back home.  We spent the first week with my parents in Minnetonka and the second week at the farm.  Here are of the unique insights we learned from our vacation:

1. At my parents, we discovered a unique Schmidt trait that requires us to make an unnecessary amount of noise when we yawn.  Being the most addicting bodily function their is, we feel it appropriate to draw as much attention to the act as humanly possible.  

2.  Anya has come to realize something very important about Grandpa Pohlmann.  When my sister asked her what Grandpa's rule is at the farm, Anya quickly responded 'If you don't work, you don't eat!' When my sister followed with the comment 'Well you better make sure you work hard then.' Anya retorted, 'But nobody really listens to Grandpa.'

3.  The beach never gets old.  With 90 degree heat and humidity so high it makes your balls stick to your leg, nothing beats the cool waters of Lake Minnetonka, especially when the AC is out at your parent's house.

4.  A cow getting a DA surgery will keep three kids silently entertained for a solid hour.  For those of you who don't know what that is, it is a procedure where they sedate a cow, make a 6 inch incision into it's side, and literally pull the cows stomach out to untangle a knot in it. Now that's something they won't see on Dora.

5.  We have the most amazing families in the world.  With all their strange quirks, I couldn't imagine having a more loving group of people to support us in our life's adventures.  The Roses relish in spending time with Papa and Nana, Grandma and Grandpa, and all their cousins.  Thanks for being who you are!

Tip of the Day - Hug a farmer next time you see one.  You see all this bad press about factory farms and the mistreatment of animals, but there are still thousands of great farmers out there busting their asses so you can eat healthy foods.  Spending one day in 90 degree heat unloading bails of hay will give someone a new found appreciation of all their job entails.  And yes, my fingers and back are still sore.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

All-In in Vegas

It's been a busy two weeks here.  Two weeks ago my parents came to visit us for the weekend.  The girls were sooooo excited to see Nana and Papa!  We wanted to show off all the cool places we've found in the Pacific Northwest over the past six months.  We took my parents on a handful of hikes to see waterfalls, mining pits, and greenery that one can only find out here.  It was great to have them here; in the morning the girls jumped into their bed instead of ours!  Anya and Caitlin were able to bring Nana and Papa into their classroom and show off all the cool toys they get to play with in school.

Two days after my parents returned home, I left for Las Vegas for a 3 day volleyball tournament.  It was the North America Gay Volleyball Associations (NAGVA) National Championship.  I know what your thinking, 'I knew it, the wife and the kids were just a cover, he's gay!'  Unfortunately for all the new friends I met this weekend, I am as straight as an arrow, but I had a blast people watching and hanging out with some amazing volleyball players.  We finished the tournament 7th out of 14 teams in AA.  7th isn't that great, but when you consider we lost to a team with 6 D1 players from UCLA, a team with 5 guys from UCSB and the libero from the US National team, and a team of former Long Beach State players, I think we did pretty damn well.  It was the highest level volleyball I've ever played and I had a blast!

Vegas on the other hand ins't exactly my favorite city. Only in Vegas can they get away with charging $16 for a 2 oz bottle of sunscreen.  It's really the ultimate city of discontent; a place where you go to make up for all the mundanity of your daily life.  Have a shitty car?  Rent a Benz and cruise the strip like a big shot.  Wife been giving you a hard time?  Why not upgrade for the weekend with a 21 year old 'escort'? Having fun by the pool?  Take it to a whole new level of enjoyment by buying a $22 foo-foo drink.  And above all, want to have the money you've always dreamed?  Just throw a dollar in this machine and your troubles are over! They have slots everywhere!  I'll bet they'd wheel a machine into the bathroom so you could play while taking a shit if you asked.  It's not exactly the place for a family man.  I guess I'm just getting too old for all day drinking benders, not that I didn't try to keep up. ; )  Oh and hun, on the credit card bill, the $237 charge for the Moonlite Bunny Ranch was for back massage.  I swear!

I'm glad to be home now.  We only have two more weeks until we're heading back to MN for a 16 day vacation. Looking forward to seeing family and friends.

Tip of the Day - When at a gay volleyball tournament, be aware that when you shout 'Fuck me!' out of frustration, there are people willing to take you up on your invitation.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Down by the Seaside

Last week was incredible!  On Wednesday Alicia had to travel to Portland to visit with some clients and the girls and I decided to tag along.  With the hotel covered by the company, all we had to pay for was our meals.  I've heard great things about Portland and now I know why; it's like Uptown Minneapolis times 10!  They had great local restaurants and awesome city parks.  With the weather in the upper 70s, the girls and I spent the whole week outside.  After 3 days of parks and swimming in the pool, Alicia and I made the spontaneous decision to head to the Oregon coast for the weekend and take in a few days of the Pacific Ocean.  We chose to visit a city named Seaside which was just an hour from Portland and found a room right on the ocean.

We arrived late Friday night and spent Saturday and Sunday on the beach.  Now we've taken the girls on all kinds of weekend trips, but I must say this was one of the best.  Usually Alicia and I spend the majority of our time and energy entertaining the girls and keeping them from killing themselves.  But this was different; this was actually relaxing! The hotel we stayed at had a huge bucket of sand toys available to the residents and the Roses found an endless variety of ways to keep themselves busy.  The beach was huge and we set up camp about 100 yards from the water (right next to the volleyball courts).  I took the girls down to the water to find sand dollars and sea shells, but the frigid cold water kept the girls from going in.  Score! No worries about them getting sucked out to sea!  I waded in knee deep water and found various creatures to show the kids.  When I grabbed what I thought was a sea shell and a crab reached out to pinch me, the girls decided it was much better to sit in the powdery sand than risk losing a limb in the water.  I'm not sure why they were so scared, maybe it is because the ocean was so majestically huge with 8 foot tall waves crashing on the shore, or maybe it was because I squealed like a girl when I grabbed the crab, either way they didn't want to go in.

Later in the day while Alicia and I were sunbathing and the girls trying to dig the worlds biggest hole, a couple started peppering by the volleyball courts.  They had two little girls who were playing in the sand next to them as the started running some hitting drills.  Unlike the majority of the volleyballers on the beach, this couple actually knew what they were doing.  After watching hours of super buff guys look like complete pansies while attempting to hit a ball, I had to ask these guys if we could play.  I went over and introduced myself and asked if they wanted to play doubles.  I explained that we had three kids and we actually know how to play.  They sheepishly agreed and I brought the family over.  Alicia and I played ball with our new friends Angie and Eric for 3 hours while our kids kept each other entertained. Around 6pm we had to wrap up the game and get some grub.  We ate some fresh seafood and called it a night, 8 hours of sun wiped out my Roses.

By 8:30 all my Roses were asleep, Alicia included, and I wasn't ready to call it a night.  I decided to buy some wood and have a campfire on the beach.  I sat enjoying the three greatest sounds in the world; the ocean waves crashing on the shore, the crackling of the fire, and pure unadulterated silence.  Heaven.  Around 10:30, some yablo started pounding some gangster rap and I decided it was time to call it a night.  With a pile of unburned wood left, I ventured to the nearest fire and asked them if they'd like to use it.  They happily accepted it and asked if I would like to hang out for a while.  My new friends happened to be from Green Bay and we started a spirited discussion on the supremacy of football teams in the Central Division. Despite their allegiance to the Green and Gold, they were very nice people.  We sat and talked for hours.  When the last of our logs turned to ash, we called it a night.

The girls woke up around 8:00am on Sunday and headed straight for the indoor pool.  Anya is becoming quite the little swimmer and Reegan and Caitlin both can float on their own in their life jackets.  We splashed around for a hour or two and headed back to the beach.  Again sand toys for the girls, sun tanning for us.  Our friends Angie and Eric came back on Sunday and we spent another couple hours playing some ball.  Around dinnertime we had to head out and make our way back home.  After a three and a half hour drive, we were home.

Tip of the day:  If you are talking to a 2 year old on the phone, be advised that they don't understand that the person on the other end of the phone can't see the same things they are pointing to.  Reegan spent 5 minutes explaining to my sister the layout of our bedroom by pointing at random items and saying:
Reegan: "Then there's the bed. The door is open, but don't open the door! The green wall is big."
Me: Can I talk now Reegs?
Reegans: When I'm done talking in a while Dad.
-Five more minutes of complete nonsense, followed by dropping the phone on the floor and running to play with toys -

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Life is about learning to dance in the rain

I know, it's late here in Washington.  But I can't sleep and I have nothing better to do than write.

Life has been good in WA.  This past weekend was my last weekend of reffing for the JO season.  Since February, I have only had two weekends off from reffing which probably wasn't the best decision on my part since Alicia had a big April 15th deadline.  In the absence of a real career, volleyball officiating to me has become very important; I love the sport of volleyball and being a stay-at-home dad doesn't provide any directive goal for which to attain.  I guess if my girls don't become strippers, I have succeeded, but I mean more immediate, ego-gratifying goals. As an official I hear about how good of a job I do and how I stand out among my peers.  Clearly it is simply a external means to feel important, but I like to feel special too. Anyway, working most weekend while my wife works late during the week isn't exactly the best recipe for a happy marriage.  The good new is that we both share the excitement of spending our coming weekends together.

The Roses have been doing great.  After four months of rainy weather, I finally made the decision that we're not going to let a little rain keep us from enjoying the plethora of outdoor activities right in our backyard. To Caitlin's chagrin, we have been doing a lot more hiking and adventuring in our new surroundings.  Everyday this past week we have sought out new areas to explore and have been appreciating Mother Nature's bounty.

On Tuesday, the girls and I decided to plant a garden in our backyard.  Together we tilled up a small area and planted some tomatoes, onions, peppers and spinach.  We spent several hours preparing the soil for our new garden (and by we, I mean I did the lions share of the work while the Roses flung worms at one another).  It's amazing how much life is right outside your back door.  Slugs, grub worms, spiders, weird maggot looking things; the girls loved making comfortable new ecosystems for the creatures at the bottom an old 5 gallon bucket we had sitting in the garage.  Apparently to a five year old, animals feel much more secure in the confines of an old Home Depot bucket with an inch of water and several handfuls of dead grass than they did in their natural habitat.

We look forward to the next coming weeks.  This week Alicia will be working in Portland and the girls and I decided that we'd like to tag along; nothing builds family bonding more than spending three days together in a small hotel room.  We'll be hitting up Oregon's best museums and parks.  The following week, Nana and Papa will be visiting for Caitlin's 4th birthday.  Can you believe my little KK Bird is already turning 4?  And before we know it, we'll be heading back to MN for a two-week stint visiting our family and friends in June.  Life is good.

We look forward to all our new life adventures and I promise to be more diligent in keeping you posted on all our shenanigans.

Tip of the Day - You can either accept reality or deny it, but denying is so much more painful and doesn't make for as good of stories.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Life in the Spotlight

All is well in Seattle.  Last weekend ranks among the best weekends I've ever had.  The weather here was absolutely beautiful; 73 degrees and sunny. Our pale-white skin dragged us outdoors to take in the sun's nutritious light after so many months of rain soaked days.  So naturally we thought we'd hit up the mall, you know, while numbers were down.  The girls played in the park while Alicia bought some new work clothes.  Afterwards we went outs to eat and headed out to hike to the Puget Sound.  We found a perfect 1.5 mile hike that went along a stream and led to the beaches of the Puget Sound.  We sent out and made it to the waters in a half hour.  We spent the next 3 hours playing in the sand, looking for sea shells, and taking in the rays. On our trek back, only Reegan needed to be carried.  Caitlin, who was my odds on favorite to require assistance up a somewhat difficult hike, made it to the car without wanting to be carried! I knew it was going to be a special weekend.

On Sunday we went for a beach hike on Lake Washington.  Again the girls did great.  We stopped for lunch at Chipotle (which the girls ate surprisingly well; if the girls didn't so much resemble the kids from 'Village of the Damned, I might suspect they were Mexican.)

We then went home to our local tennis court and played outside for the next 2 hours.  Having not touched a racket in over 2 years, I can say with confidence that Alicia could join the ATP in a month if she wanted to. The girls got skillz!  And I'm writing this while she's out of town, so there's no sexual incentive to obscure my judgement.

The whole weekend was great, I wouldn't change a thing about it.

Earlier this week I received an email about applying to be a participant in a docu-series about stay at home dads. While I initially deleted the email, a few days later I started thinking about how cool an opportunity like this could be. How cool would it be for a national spotlight be put on me to look at this new phenomenon of fathers taking the primary care of their children?  Why wouldn't I be a great candidate for the role? I'm clearly in way over my head and that ALWAYS makes for good TV, I mean isn't that why we watch the View?  But seriously I would love to share all the joys and challenges of being a stay at home dad with people around the country.  So tonight I put in my application.  This will likely be the last you'll ever hear of this topic, but I thought I'd let you in case any of you know any of the producers of such hits as American Idol or Americas Got Talent. ;)

Tip of the Day: Slamming 16 ounces of dark roast right before you hit the gym doesn't give you a harder workout, it makes you vomit.

Tip of the Day 2: Public toilets are exponentially more disgusting when you lift the lid and put your face withing 6 inches of the seat. I threw up a little in my mouth while writing that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Home Sweet Home

It's been a whirlwind week for the Schmidt's.  Last Saturday, April 7th we took the tribe back to Minnesota for our first visit home.  It's strange to visit a place you've called home for the past 30 years of your life.  It's like all the people and places are the same, only I'm driving a way cooler car now (a rental, but still way better than my 2002 silver Town and Country).

For Easter, we decided to head up to the Pohlmann's farm.  The girls were thrilled to see Grandpa and Grandma.  When I asked Anya what she liked best about visiting the farm, she answered "I like Grandpa because he's silly, and I like Grandma because she cooks good." Apparently in her head, the Swedish Chef would make for the ultimate grandparent.

All the girls had a great time playing in the barn, 'helping' Grandpa fix a tractor, and going for fast for-fweeler rides. Between the basement toy room and a barn full of kitties, it's pretty tough to leave.  We're really blessed to have a place like that to visit; a place where the kids see first hand the work that goes into our food, a place where work doesn't stop just because it's the weekend, a place where family always comes first, and a place where flannel is always in season.  We love the farm.

 On Tuesday, we had to head down to the cities to drop Mommy off at the airport.  The girls and I spent the rest of the week at Papa and Nana's house.  Its amazing how busy a guy can be on vacation!  We had at least two playdates and get-togethers scheduled a day.  In the 5 days we were in town we hung out with the stay-at-home dads group, our old neighbors Rollo and Dodie, my buddy Jake, my in-laws Carrie, John and Noah, and Ben, Dianne and Isaac, my ref buddies Jose, Nick, Ross and Antonio, and Uncle Tim, Aunt Patty and the Welle Wild Crew.  We fit all that in and I reffed all day on Friday and Saturday at the Northern Lights Qualifier.  I need a vacation from my vacation.

And now for some of my favorite quotes from the week:

Anya:  Are we flying above the clouds now?
Me: Yep
Anya:  Then where's Jesus?

Caitlin: Dad, when are we going to blast off?

And Reegan's new response to questions:  "Of Course!"
It's the cutest thing.  I have no idea where she came up with this, Alicia and I don't ever say it, but every now and again when you ask her to do something, she'll look at you with her dimply face and angelically respond 'Of Course!' Can you put on your jacket Reegan?  Of course!  Not okay, or yes dad, but of course!  Like she wouldn't even dream of doing something opposed to my request.  'Isn't it obvious dad that I would do whatever is in your best interest Dad?'  The best part is that often times my following request is met by a complete meltdown.

Me: Can you put on your jacket Reegan?
Reegan: Of course!
Me:  Thanks hun, now can you pick out your shoes?
Reegan: NO!!! I don't want to! (Sobs and hysteria)
It's like she has an inert understanding of jacket-wearing, but a request to pick out shoes is on par with asking her to cut off her right leg with a rusty saw.

Catilin:  I like Nana because she likes to sew and I like Papa because he has a broken eye.

We had an awesome time visiting Minnesota and look forward to our next visit in June.  If we didn't get a chance to see you last week, I apologize.  We have so many friends and so little time to visit them all.  The good news is that our house is always open to welcoming guests and summers in Seattle are beautiful.  Just saying...

Tip of the Day:  The next time you ride an airplane with a kid sitting behind you, just expect your chair to get kicked.  My girls are pretty well behaved, but the seats are too long for their feet to hang down and it's practically a requirement that they push on the seat in front of them to stay upright. I spent 3 hours yelling at them to not kick the seats and I still had people complaining to me.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A cut above the rest...

The lousy March weather continues out here in Western Washington, with highs in the 40's and almost constant rain.  It wouldn't be so bad if my friends back in Minnesota were getting pounded by snow and freezing rain, but when I go on Facebook and see pictures of my pale-skinned friends wearing shorts and tank tops, I get pissed.  

"Can you believe another 80 degree day in March!"
"Hellllllllooooo Summer!"
"Nothing but blue skies here in Minnesota!"

Last year in March you could literally walk from our driveway up the 8 foot snow mounds onto our roof.  I'm not bitter or anything, but I'd rather see posts like:

"FML! Another freezing day!"
"I spent 2 hours driving 4 miles to work.  DAMN SNOW!
"My uncle had another heart attack shoveling snow this morning.  Please keep him in your prayers."

Okay the third one was a bit too far, but you catch my drift.

Being inside has allowed my Roses to get creative with their indoor play activities.  For instance, last night the girls went upstairs and played beauty salon.  They were having a blast up in their room!  Alicia and I were able to snuggle together and watch a few episodes of Storage Wars before the entourage came back downstairs.  While it's not unusual for them to play nicely for a while, but I should have known that any activity that keeps them from fighting for more than 45 minutes spells disaster.  Caitlin was the first down the stairs and she was as giddy as a school girl.  In usual KK fashion she was rambling some nonsense about Reegan looking like a boy and how fun it is to play beauty salon.  It wasn't until she handed me a pair of scissors that I began to worry.  A minute later, our mop-headed two year old ran down the steps to showcase her new hairdo to Alicia and I. When I first saw Reegan's Lloyd Christmas-style hair, I had to leave the room.  I started laughing uncontrollably.  Alicia wasn't able to see the humor in the situation and erupted up the stairs.  While she was reaming out the girls, I was finally able to regain my composure and put on a united parental front against the woes of underage haircutting. 

We had to wash the sheets on the bed and vacuum the floor, and aside from our daughter looking like a character from Dumb and Dumber, no permanent damage was done.

This morning, our first activity was to get to Great Clips to see if the stylist could transform our little monster back into a child who didn't resemble a Garbage Pail Kid.  While Reegs sat patiently as Anya 'trimmed' her bangs, she threw a shit-fit when a 40-year-old Vietnamese women tried.  I restrained Reegan on my lap for 40 minutes as the stylist tried to even out her hair.  The end result turned out pretty good; kind of a mangy Ellen Degeneres look.  The good news is that her hair will eventually grow back, the bad news is that until it does, people around the neighborhood will be gossiping about the butch ass haircut I gave my daughter.

Tip of the Day - Time can fix all things, except the indelible scars you leave on your children, time just makes those things worse.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy Leap Year

I could tell for the past few weeks that this year's Leap Day was going to be something special. Only a desperate Leap Year fool would attempt to face the masses at the malls, that's why this year we kept it simple; a Super Leap Year Extravaganza Pinata Party! 

A few days ago, my 5 year old had the bright idea to make some pinatas.  Where she came up with it, I have no idea.  While I give arts and crafts the old college effort, it doesn't take a trained eye to see that I don't know what the hell I'm doing.  Not wanting to let my daughter down, I spent the next half hour doing in-depth research on the history and craftsmanship of high quality pinatas (I googled 'Dummies guide to Pinata Making...and it didn't take a half hour, I spent 2 minutes of hardcore research followed by 28 minutes Facebooking my brother-in-laws, wife's, best friend from college who is managing a restaurant in Guatemala).

We dumped all that was left of our flour supply into a medium sized bowl and added a few cups of water.  As I stood over the congealing solution, I wondered, what the hell did I get myself into. My Roses were dressed in their Sunday's finest, all three in new sweater dresses and tights.  Anya carefully dipped her newspaper into the mache paste and tenderly laid it on her balloon.  Caitlin followed suit and slowly wetted her paper.  Reegan took notice of the other girls but decided a two handed dunking motion would be most appropriate for this activity.  After realizing her newspaper was grossly over saturated, she wrung it out, and wiped the excess paste on her dress, her hair, and the kitchen rug.  It was at this time we made the unanimous decision that we really only needed two pinatas for our Leap Day celebration.

After Caitlin and Anya finished (and I bathed Reegan in the sink) I set the pinatas in the garage to dry.  We settled down on the guest bed to watch on of the girls favorite movies, Beauty and the Beast. As a way to feel more apart of the movies they watch, the girls always pick which character they would like to be.  As you could probably guess, KK always picks the character with the prettiest dress and Anya chooses the person with the most dominant role.  Reegan on the other hand, always wants to be the bad guy.  Her favorite characters include; Swiper, Gaston, the Wicked Witch of the West, Scar, Mother Gothell (Tangled) and The Cat in the Hat (I guess he's not 'bad' but he does annoy the hell out of me).  My little femme fatale loves to be the villain.  Hopefully she outgrows her stubbornness and her attraction to the morally challenged before middle school, or this dad is going to end up in the nut house!

Once the pinatas dried, I took the girls to the grocery store and let them pick out some treats to put inside.  They chose Skittles and, for some reason, Sixlets. I thought production on that M&M wannabe had been halted years ago with OK Soda and Go-Go boots, but I was wrong.  After dinner last night, the girls helped us clean up (they played in the other room and tried, though unsuccessfully, to not make a bigger mess of the house) and after dishes were put away, we started the festivities.  The girls put on a blindfold and each took turns hitting the pinatas with a foam sword.

The randomness and spontaneity of the night made it a lot of fun. Never had I had a more memorable Leap Day.  And so from this day forth, the Schmidt's shall start the Leap Day tradition of joyous celebration and pinata-breaking merriment.  Fours years can't come soon enough.

Tip of the Day - Add a little spice to your life, unless you have irritable bowel syndrome, then stick to your usual spice intake.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mid Winter Break

Its been another great week here in Washington.  For some strange reason the girls didn't have school this week.  Some genius on the school board thought students needed a week off between Christmas break and spring break.  People out here are just plain lazy.

Having the girls with me full time this week, we decided to get out and make the most of it.  On Monday we went to the Children's Museum.  It was fun but grossly overcrowded.  It had the usual Children's Museum milieu; dress up clothes, water tables, infectious diseases on all surfaces, and sciency stuff that even the grown ups can't figure out.  The girls had fun.

On Tuesday I brought the girls to a Doll Museum.  I hadn't heard of such a thing until my wife's coworker recommended we go.  It's basically two floors of encased dolls from the 1800's to today.  The girls were very excited as we entered, but upon learning they weren't going to be able to play with the dolls, the museum idea quickly lost steam.  Seriously though, what was I thinking?  You take three kids to a place where there's all sorts of fun things and then you tell them that all they can do is look?  That's why I never go to strip clubs.  The concept is ludicrous!

Wednesday we went for a walk to the nearby park.  We played for a bit and walked down to the lake to feed the ducks.  As we started throwing bread, Anya had the idea of trying to catch one of the ducks.  Her plan was to lure him closer by putting pieces of bread in a line while she waited at the end with arms ready to snatch.  As I was complementing her on her strategy, she yelled, "Dad!!! You have to be quite!  The ducks understand English!!!"  She must have been right as none of the ducks dared to eat the bread close enough for her to catch one.  I guess we'll have to start working on our Spanish.

Thursday and Friday were both pretty uneventful.  We decided to make pinatas this morning which was fun.  Anya did a great job of putting the paper mache on her balloon and Reegan did a great job of covering herself in paper mache paste.  I'm pretty sure I could have put her in the oven for 45 minutes and she would have come out tasting great.

I better go, Anya just came into the den saying "Dad, I couldn't twist the top of the glue, so I had to take the top off." When I asked her what she was doing, she said "Oh don't worry dad, just a craft."  When Anya does a 'craft' without me, it usually involves significant property damage.

Tip of the Day - If your 3 year old diva wants to wear pumps to the gym, she's going to wear pumps to the gym.

Monday, February 13, 2012

We've been in Issaquah for just about a month and a half and we're still loving Washington.  Last week we had a five day spell of beautifully sunny skies with temperatures in the low 60's.  We went for hikes, bike rides, and visited more parks than a registered sex offender!  It was great.  The girls have been really good this past month.  Both Anya and Caitlin LOVE going to school.  Every day they argue about who gets to go and who has to stay home with dad (Caitlin loses that argument 3 out of 5 days as she only gets to go on Tuesday and Thursday). 

Anya had her first play date last week when we invited her friend from school over for the morning.  Anya absolutely loves having someone her age to play with and I can't complain either.  Instead of 'Daddy let's play Chutes and Ladders! Daddy lets play pirates! Daddy lets...' she manages to keep herself entertained.  KK and Reegan have accepted the fact that I can't devote 100% of my time to them, Anya on the other hand, still relishes in the memory when it was just her and her alone. 

Reegan has become more temperamental these past few weeks.  She's still the adorable little Reegsey, but at least once a day she has a massive meltdown.  She can get more belligerent that Mel Gibson after a bottle of tequila, with slightly fewer anti-Semitic tirades.  I can never figure out what is going to put her off. She is becoming increasingly independent, reluctant to accept my help even when she has not idea how to do something. 

"Honey can I help you tie your shoe?"
-5 minutes of her fumbling with the laces, eyebrows furrowed, getting increasingly hostile.
"Can I show you how to do that?"
"NNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I can do it damnit!! Leave me alone!!!"
"Alright sweety..."
-Meltdown. Lying face down, screaming and kicking her legs
"Daddy!!! TIE MY SHOE!!!"

It just goes to show that I will never understand women. Ever.

I'm doing well out here.  I already have a decent group of volleyball friends and a couple ref buddies.  Unfortunately most of them live in Seattle and don't have families.  It's kind of hard for a father of three girls to hang out with a bunch of 24 year old's whose biggest concern is who they are going to get in the sack. Surely I will meet more people in our area with time.

Tip of the Day - Always run your house like a democracy, just be sure you have more electoral votes than everybody else combined.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sleeping Well in Issaquah

Doesn't quite have the same ring as Sleepless in Seattle, but now that we have our new king size bed, we've been sleeping great!

We have three weeks in the books and we're still loving it!  Thanks to all our friends on Skype, we feel just down the street from you...a really loooong street, but close none the less!

As you may have heard, the weather here in Western Washington has been pretty rough.  Almost the entire news coverage out here for the past few days has been on the 'massive' snow storm that has arrived and how the Seattlites are freaking out about a few snow flakes.  Yesterday we had about 3 inches of snow and damn near every school in the county was closed.  Seriously?  3 inches?  In Minnesota when you get 12 inches it's not even a guarantee you get the day off of school!  You hear on the news, "The driving conditions are treacherous out there! Make sure to stock up on household necessities and stay inside."  My reaction?  'Kids, we're going downtown!' 

While all the saps we're hunkered down in their houses, I took the girls to the Seattle Aquarium just behind Pikes Market.  The four of us made up about half of the people there.  I loved it!  We got special treatment because the aquarium was so slow and the volunteers pulled out all sorts of starfish for the girls to pet.  Of course I named every starfish Patrick and said 'Hey Patrick, where's SpongeBob?' I was the only person who laughed, but it got funnier each time I did it.  The girls loved the finding clown fish and dressing up in scuba diving gear. 

When we got home we played in the 'piles' of snow we had in our front yard and erected a snowman. (erected...funny). 

Perhaps today we can make another snowman, this time slightly larger than the Yoda sized one from yesterday.

Today we got another 4 inches of snow and again school was canceled.  This morning to ventured out to the gym (which is only half a mile from our house) and we again had the place to ourselves.  The girls played in the childcare room while I wailed on my pecks and abs.  It was glorious.

The Roses love playing around the new house and have claimed the guest bedroom as their nursery for their babies.  They spend hours feeding, burping, and changing the diapers of their dozens of children all in the name of fun.  Taking care of a dozen babies to me is more in line with Dante's seventh layer of hell, but to each their own.

Tip of the Day - If you drive a front wheel drive car, it is of no help to put chains on your rear tires.  Seriously people, it's not rocket science...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Guess who's back online?

After a 10 day hiatus of being off the grid, the Schmidt's have been reconnected to the universe!  Now I'm sure you're all wondering about the move so I'll give you some of the highlights:

My mom and I drove out here two weeks ago and had a wonderful time.  With the exception of a few snow flurries through the Rocky Mountains, the drive was good.  It's a bit scary when your driving on slippery roads down a mountain and there are signs warning the cars to watch out for trucks tipping over.

The girls arrived safely on Saturday.  They enjoyed the take off and the landing, but the three hours in the middle were a bit boring.  Thankfully, Santa brought the girls an iPad for Christmas, so 'Angra Burds' logged in some serious hours. 

The neighbors introduced themselves right after we moved in.  We live next door to a real nice couple with two girls, a 13 year old and an 11 year old.  They already offered to assist us in any babysitting needs and that made for one happy Bo!

Nana decorated our house beautifully!  We now have a real bedroom set with a king size bed.  For the first time in our marriage I can sleep without Alicia crawling all over me.  I used to think it was because I was irresistible, but it turns out I'm just too big for a queen size bed.

Nana, Papa and our family went for a hike on the Rattlesnake Trail.  When I asked a realtor if they had any snakes in the area, she assured me the only kind they had were gardeners.  After our hike, my mom did some research and discovered we do in fact have Western Rattlers.  I guess that might not have been the best place to bring a bunch of curious kids...

After her three week vacation, Alicia went back to work this morning.  Alicia must really like it out here, because for the first time a while, she was bummed about going back to work.  Usually I piss her off real properlike and she's excited to get away from me after more than 3 days.  She'll do great out here, and she knows it!

Anya and Caitlin will be attending pre-school a mile or two from our house.  Anya started today and goes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  KK will be going Tuesday and Thursday.  Both the girls are excited about school.  Reegan is happy that we now have cable and can keep up to date on all the new Dora episodes.

I was asked to play volleyball tonight at an open gym.  Alicia's boss has a daughter who played ball in college and she asked me to join them.  I'm stoked!  I wasn't planning on doing anything fun outside the house for a while!  Hopefully I won't suck it up. 

We are now on Skype if you care to chat it up with us.  My email is and we usually have the iPad around if you want to get a hold of us.

We are loving our new home and are excited to continue to explore our new surroundings!

Tip of the Day:  If you move into a house owned by Indians (dot, not feather), just accept your house will smell like curry for several weeks.