Stuff Mr. Tiefenthaler Says

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Teaching can be a rough job at times, but two kids today surprised me in class with something they’d been working on for a long time. Apparently, all year they wrote down any strange, interesting, or funny quotes I said. They turned it into a PowerPoint and shared it with the class.

I’m an English teacher, and I tend to get carried away telling random stories. (These stories fit well with the Speaking and Listening Standards, so don’t worry you Common Core advocates. The students in my class are getting a well rounded education.) 

I now present the top ten things that I said to my 7th grade English class this year.

10. The only good thing that came out The Great Depression was the term “hobo”.

9. Star Wars: It’s a family drama with light sabers.

8. You have to try demolition derby sledding. Get four friends with four sleds and there’s only one rule. You have to switch sleds in the middle of your ride. It’s awesome.

7. Let your words mingle and dance with each other.

6. I’m going to put my GoPro camera on my Mini Van and go to the drive thru at McDonalds. Extreme!

5. A funny google image search is “fat bears”. Actually, don’t search that.

4. Any cereal that changes the color of your milk to pink is probably unhealthy, but it also is probably amazing.

3. There was a doll for boys when I was a kid. It was called My Buddy! Sing it with me. My buddy, my buddy. My buddy, my buddy. My Buddy and me!

2. I live on a rainbow, and I wear my baby blue pants because those are my happy pants. (I have light blue pants and kids were commenting on them – I had to defend myself)

1. The English language is a hot mess.

Yes, I did say all these things. Some of them I remember why I did, and other’s I’m not quite sure what I was thinking about when I said them.

*** David Tiefenthaler wrote a book, O.K. is Great, and the reviews are in!  ***

“I love this book. It is humorous, but well grounded in reality. The author seems to know and understand well the angst of adolescent boys. If you have enjoyed the wimpy kid books try this one.  It’s funny, witty, has hilarious illustrations, and tells a great story, too.”

*** Pick it up in Paperback, on your Kindle or Nook, on iTunes or at Smashwords.  ***

Something is Wrong With my Stomach – Story Time about Appendicitis

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***I’ve been looking for this story for years.  I wrote it a week after I suffered from Appendicitis.  Be careful reading it.  I grossed out my seventh grade students when I read it aloud to them and two of them fainted***

I have been in pain before.  Kick the wall barefoot and break my toe pain.  Split my mouth open and need stitches in my tongue pain.  Have my wisdom teeth chiseled out of my jaw pain, but nothing like the pain I felt in my gut last weekend.

My wife, two year old son, five month old daughter, and I were living at my parents while our house was being completed.  All day on a Saturday, I labored away on various projects in our uninhabitable new house.  Undercutting doorways, painting posts, sealing grout, and running away from yellow jackets were the major time consumers.  With no working electricity I was forced to leave the work site at around seven in the evening.  I headed to my wife’s parents place.

During the drive, my stomach started to feel strange.  When I say feel strange, I mean it was an abnormal sensation that I couldn’t relate to any other pain I’ve felt in my life.  Something was wrong with my stomach.  I arrived at my in laws, Mark and Shirlie.

My stomach pain started to intensify during my visit with Mark and Shirlie.  My wife, Lisa Marie, asked, “Why are you so crabby?”

I grumbled in return, “Could we go home please?”

“We don’t have a home. Don’t you remember?” she snapped.  I hobbled along picking up various building blocks, diapers, and personal belongings. We wrangled Bob the Builder, my son, and snatched up my little daughter, The Flower Child, and plopped them into their car seats.  We headed back to my parent’s house.  My abdomen grabbed and pulled at me as we drove.

Saturday night was miserable.  The Flower Child woke up numerous times.  My stomach kept me from sleeping between The Flower Child’s feedings.  My wife asked me why I couldn’t sleep.  I replied with, “My stomach hurts.  I’m not sure if it’s my insides or my outsides.”

I went to the bathroom and didn’t know if I should sit on the toilet or put my head above it.  Luckily, I didn’t have to use it for either.  Sweat beaded up on my forehead, so I pressed my face against the cool tiles of the bathroom floor.

Sunday morning came, and I tried to figure out what was wrong.  Did I eat too many peanuts?  Did I pull a muscle trying to undercut the door?  Do I need to take some antacids?  Do I need to eat some more or not at all.  Should I drink something or nothing?

As the day progressed, I became more and more useless according to my wife.  She asked, “What’s wrong with you?”

“Something’s wrong with my stomach.”

“Suck it up, Tief,” she would chant.  I tried to hold The Flower Child and play with Bob the Builder, but I couldn’t keep my mind off the pain; the ever increasing pain.  My stomach rolled, ached, and started to stab me in the lower right side.

I took three baths because the water would take some pressure off my body.  My mother said at the dinner table, “Maybe its appendicitis.”

I asked, “What’s that?”

“I don’t know.”

My family ordered me to go upstairs and lay down.  I did, but the right side of my stomach kept needling me.  The pain made my eyes water as I staggered to get up.

I shuffled over to the computer and looked up “appendicitis symptoms.”  The computer spit out a list of symptoms that mirrored the way I felt.  The most dangerous item in the description read, “If you have been feeling these symptoms for more than four hours, see a doctor.  If you have been feeling these symptoms for more that 24 hours, see a doctor immediately.  It was six in the evening.  I started feeling “these symptoms” about 23 hours ago.

I printed out a copy of this wonderful literature to share with the family.  I put on my shoes.  “Let’s go to the hospital, Lisa,” I announced.  My parents stayed back with Bob the Builder, but my wife grabbed The Flower Child, and we raced to West Allis Memorial Hospital.

The nurse took one look at me at the emergency desk, and took me into a small emergency room.  There I had to drink some awful yellow substance.  She said it was supposed to taste like lemon ice.  My wife said it looked like pee.  I gagged it down and chased this substance with four glasses of water as ordered by the doctor in the emergency room.

I had to take off my clothes, and put on a hospital gown.  Luckily they let me wear my boxer shorts so my butt wasn’t hanging in the breeze.  The doctor examined me in some ways I wish not to describe.  The worst was the, “Does it hurt here?” as the doctor dived in with his hands first, pressing all over my stomach.  When he came close to the left side of my stomach his hands felt like a jagged knife stabbing me.  Cold sweat covered my forehead as I laid still.  They gave me an IV of morphine.  After the doctor left, my stomach still shouted with pain.

At nine at night I went to get a CT scan of my abdomen.  It was hard to lay straight on the table.  I wanted to curl up in a ball.  It felt like a giant fist reached under my skin and was squeezing my belly.  The X-ray technician was going to insert dye in my IV that would highlight the area around my intestines, as she said, so they could see on the X-ray anything that would be causing problems.  She warned me, “When I inject this fluid, you will feel very hot.  You may get a sensation that you’ve wet your pants.”  I laughed.  It hurt.  The injected the fluid which made my shoulders hot, and wouldn’t you believe it, made me feel like I wet my pants.  Let it be known that I did not wet my pants, even though my friend, Billy Madison, once told me, “Peeing your pants is cool.”

The X-rays came back along with with the diagnosis of appendicitis.  The doctor informed me that the surgeon had been summoned from his home.  They would have to wait until eleven at night to perform the surgery because I had eaten dinner.  I told my parents and my wife I didn’t want to eat at that time, but they made me swallow down some gooey potato salad and half a cheese dog.  Those jerks.

Eleven couldn’t come fast enough.  I was sweating profusely.  The bright and blurry lights burned my eyes.  My abdomen kept pulling tighter and tighter.  Finally, they carted me off to surgery.  My wife kissed me.  The Flower Child smiled and cooed.  My wife said, “Sorry honey.”  I nodded.

For a moment, I felt worse about my wife than myself.  What if I didn’t make it and she was left with two young children, and no home.

Before I could turn into an emotional wreck, the surgical team assembled: Nurses, Anesthesiologist, Surgeon.  They attached more wires that lead to several different monitors as we rolled into the very bright room.  I couldn’t focus on any one particular thing.  Lights, people with masks, somebody pressing on my abdomen.  They strapped a gas mask on my face.  Someone asked me a question.   The room spun and went black.

I woke up.  Everything hurt.

I fell asleep.

I woke up again and heard my wife talking, I think.  My side sizzled like there was a fire inside my intestines.  My arms and legs I felt so heavy.  I wanted to move, to sit up.

I fell asleep.

I woke up and it was quiet.  The room was dimly lit.  The pain and nausea was intense, and my body remained glued to the bed.  I cranked my neck forward from the bed and my right side blistered with pain.  Carefully, bracing my arms against the bed railings, I managed to sit up.  IV cords dangled on my arm.  A glowing red band-aid was wrapped around my index finger.  Another cord was attached to this light which dangled from the end of my finger.  A nurse appeared.  She helped me with my legs.  I couldn’t overcome the pain and move them with my own power.  She asked me to number my pain from one to ten.  I thought about telling her ten, but I figured that is how you feel when your whole body is on fire or something, so I said eight.

The nurse helped me to the bathroom.  I couldn’t sit down, or go to the bathroom, so I gimped back towards the bed.  Leaning first on the side rail, I sat down on the end of the bed.  The nurse helped me scoot back.  I clung to both rails as I leaned back and my side ached.  The nurse told me about a wire which had a button.  Every time you pushed the button, morphine would go into my IV.  If I pushed the button once every ten minutes, I would get more morphine.  The machine wouldn’t let me have a constant stream of painkillers, because the painkiller would then kill me.  I pushed the button.

I pushed the button again, and again, and then again.  My side still screamed.  The doctor arrived.  He asked me to number my pain.  I said seven.  He looked at how many times I had pushed the button.  67 times in 12 minutes.  He said that I only get morphine every ten minutes.  I told him, “I don’t want to miss the exact moment when my ten minutes are up.”

As time went by, the pain dulled.   It was a battle to get out of bed and shuffle to the bathroom without any help, but each time it became easier and easier.  My family visited.  My brother stayed for a while.  We watched a movie about man eating sharks.  I laughed.  It hurt.

The doctor returned the next day and said I could leave.  He explained in detail what was happening to me when I was in pain.  “You are lucky you got in here when you did.   An appendix is like a dead end in your intestines.  When you get appendicitis, that dead end is swelling up with infectious pus.  If this swollen appendix isn’t removed in time, it will burst and the infectious materials will spill out into your body cavity.  This can lead to death.  In your case, your appendix was just about to rupture.”

“Why do I hurt so much now?” I asked.

“You will get better soon, but I really had to move a lot of stuff around in there to get at your appendix.  It was pushed down under your intestines and behind your colon,” He calmly recited.

“Is that why my cut is so long?” I wondered.

“Yes, I needed extra room because I had to get in there and carefully maneuver around other things to get to your appendix. I know you feel bad now, but you will recover fairly quickly.  You’re appendix was the largest one we’ve ever seen!  We must have got to it just before it was about to burst.  Do you want to see it?”  The doctor asked with a bright smile on his face.

My whole face scrunched up in disgust.  “You kept it?” I asked.

“Yes.  We’re going to use it when we teach Med students about appendicitis.  So, do you want to see it?”

“No.”

Like I popped his birthday balloon, the doctor went from giddy to grumpy instantly.  He asked, “What is your pain number now?” he asked.

“About a three or a four,”  I said.  “Thanks for saving me.”

I shook the doctor’s hand, and he reminded me to see him in a week as he exited the hospital room.   The pain was subsiding.  I could move around.

The nurses detached all my IVs and wires.  My wife arrived, and she wheeled me downstairs.  The storm in my stomach had passed.  My wife felt bad about telling me that nothing was wrong.  I told her not to worry anymore because you only have one appendix and mine is gone.

We laughed.

My stomach hurt.

*** David Tiefenthaler wrote a book, O.K. is Great, and the reviews are in!  ***

“I love this book. It is humorous, but well grounded in reality. The author seems to know and understand well the angst of adolescent boys. If you have enjoyed the wimpy kid books try this one.  It’s funny, witty, has hilarious illustrations, and tells a great story, too.”

*** Pick it up in Paperback, on your Kindle or Nook, on iTunes or at Smashwords.  ***

Embarrassing my Daughter

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My cute little daughter is getting older, and it’s breaking my heart.  Before I go into too much detail, I admit, I was at fault in this situation.  That’s not the point, though.  The point is the sadness I felt.

The Flower Child, my seven year old daughter, is in Girl Scouts.  This is the first year she’s been in this organization, and we signed her up so she can be a part of a group that is all girls.  She’s played T-Ball and Soccer before on teams with boys and girls, but she needs some girl time.  Our neighborhood is teaming with masculinity.  Within a quarter mile radius, there are eight boys and no girls for her to play with, so she’s incredibly excited to go to Scouts.

I took her to a meeting last week.  There are 20 other little second grade girls in her troop. I walked with her to the classroom where she was having her last meeting.  Right when we entered the room, she skipped away from me and took a seat in the middle of a gaggle of giggling girls.  I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, so I waded through the crowd to find her.  I snatched her out of her seat and gave her a big hug.  Then I set her back down and went on my way.

An hour and a half later, the meeting ended.  I came back to get her, and as we were driving home, I asked her how her meeting went.

She said, “Dad, you know, you embarrassed me.”

I looked back at her, completely baffled, “What?  How did I embarrass you?”

“When you hugged me!” she declared.

I bristled from her brash statement.  “But why?  I should be able to hug my daughter.”

“It’s not that.  You picked me up and were growling like a bear, in the middle of all my friends.  It’s embarrassing!”

TheFlowerChild

“Oh,” I replied.  I had never thought about the fact that I might make my daughter embarrassed. I just wanted to give her a hug, since she always does that before she goes somewhere.

This weekend, we had a discussion about what I can and can’t do. I asked if she was just uncomfortable by my actions and not just embarrassed about me being her dad.  That would be a total death blow to her father.  She said it was just my actions that bothered her.   I understand the situation now, and won’t hug her like an angry bear anymore in her circle of friends.  I will however still get a socially acceptable hug from her before she runs off to be with her friends.

No Awe, No Wonder (69/365)

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What’s wrong with kids these days?  Aren’t they amazed by anything anymore.  Are all the special effects in movies, or those blasted video games and such are taking the wonder out of the world?  If everything is awesome, then is there any awe left?  I wonder if there’s any wonder left.

On Saturday, my wife and I had to travel to Brookfield to sign some tax forms.  I wanted to make the trip worthwhile for my kids because sitting in the car for an hour and a half without getting to do something cool seemed unfair, especially since it was the weekend.  I decided that stopping at Miller Park would be a unique experience for them.

We arrived at the Brewer’s baseball stadium around three in the afternoon.  For those not familiar with this stadium, it’s a giant brick stadium with a massive green metal roof.  The inside has four levels of seating, and can hold over 40,000 people.  My kids weren’t as amazed as I thought they would be.  I asked my five year old son, Ivan the Wonderful, “So, isn’t it huge?”

“Yeah.  It’s big,” he replied.

Miller Park

We entered the stadium by some doors near the left field corner, and entered a restaurant there called Friday’s Front Row Grill.  I thought we’d get a good view of the field, the grandstands, and the roof from inside the restaurant, bout you couldn’t see as much as I would have liked.  The outdoor balcony wasn’t open.  All you could see out the windows of the restaurant was the field, but the entire field was covered with a tarp.  You couldn’t even tell it was a baseball field.  My daughter asked if they played football here.

Sadly, I answered, “No.  It’s for baseball.  You can’t see the field because of the tarp.”

When we left the restaurant, I started looking around to see if we could enter the stadium to better see the huge closed roof.  All the gates to the concourses were locked shut.  I was irate.  How dare they cover the field!  How dare they preventing us from gazing upon the giant retractable roof!

That’s when I decided to take my kids up the closed escalator.  Yes, that was probably against the rules, but I blame the Brewer’s organization for not giving my kids the experience I wanted to give them.   I guess I could just bring them to a game, but that’s besides the point.  Bow to my unreasonable wishes!

While my wife and daughter were still in the Brewer’s store near the restaurant, so I snatched my two boys, moved aside a yellow construction sign, and led them up an escalator to the second level.  They were going to see the inside of Miller Park, and they were going to like it!  We swiftly made our way upstairs, and then went into the stands.  I pointed up and showed the kids the huge closed roof.  “Isn’t it amazing!  Look at how high the roof is,” I said, my voice filled with wonder.

My nine year old son, Bob the Builder, was someone who I thought would appreciate the soaring arched roof.  He answered with, “It’s tall.”

Discouraged, I told my kids that it was time to leave.  They sensed that we were doing something wrong, so they slunk up the stairs, giggling, hiding behind seats and ducking behind posts.  I didn’t care, probably because I was disappointed with the experience that I thought they should have, so I just strutted towards the escalator.

When we got back downstairs, I saw my wife and my daughter.  I waved them over so I could show my daughter the upstairs.  She gets excited about everything, so maybe The Flower Child could lift my spirits.  We turned to go back up the escalator, and a maintenance man suddenly appeared at the top of the steps.  Apparently, my bold move to go up the stairs the first time was noticed by someone, and he was sent to make sure it didn’t happen again.

“You see the caution signs,” he said.  “That means you can’t come up here.”  I nodded.  My wife shook her head in dismay at my bold attempt to snoop around upstairs.  Disheartened and defeated, I lead my family out of the building.

Was I wrong for wanting a bigger reaction from my kids?  I’m not sure.  Maybe they were impressed, but didn’t really say it.  Who knows?  Are my kids, or all kids these days not amazed things as easily?   I’m not sure, but I think I was impressed a lot easier than their generation is.  Was I wrong for sneaking around, and taking them upstairs to show them more of the stadium?  Of course not!

Diaper Blowout – Story Time

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A fellow teacher is pregnant at our school, and because of this, we all were sharing diaper horror stories with her today.  The poor thing.  Here’s my favorite diaper blow out story.

On a hot day in the summer, our little family was driving down I-94.  I was behind the wheel, my wife, Lisa Marie, was in the passenger seat, and our first child, Bob the Builder was sitting in the back seat.  He must have been over one year old at the time because he was facing forward.

As we were driving down the interstate, we heard our baby grunting loudly.  Oh no.  That was his way of telling us that he’s working on a big dooky.  He must have got it out quickly because the smell flooded our car immediately.  It was rancid.  It smelled like rotten sweet potatoes and curdled milk mixed with cow manure.  My eyes watered.

I rolled down all the windows in the car.   We were only one mile away from an exit off of I-94.

My wife looked back to make sure it wasn’t too windy for baby Bob, and then screamed.  “Ahhh!  The poop is running down his leg!”

I glanced back and saw it too.  It was a diaper blowout!  Baby Bob was wearing a onesie.  On the side of his right leg, slush-like poo had breached the hull of the diaper.  The poop had broke containment.

“Only a half mile to the exit!” I shouted.

“Ahhh!” My wife screamed again.  “Don’t touch it!”  The baby looked down and saw the poo on his leg, and reached for it.  He grabbed the poo with one hand, and then looked at his own poo covered hand.  He was fascinated.  We were appalled.

poohand

“Don’t wipe your hand on anything!” Lisa Marie commanded.  I veered off the highway, down the exit ramp.  I pulled off the road and parked our car on the gravel next to the road.

Thankfully we got Baby Bob out of the seat before he could transfer the poo anywhere else, and also managed to get him out of there before the poo leaked onto his car seat.

I can’t remember much about the cleaning process on the side of the road, but I do remember that we put all the wipes, and the loaded diaper in a plastic bag, tied up the bag, and left it on the side of the road.  The smell was simply too awful to bring back into the car.

Sorry for littering.  If you were there, you’d understand.

*** David Tiefenthaler wrote a book, O.K. is Great, and the reviews are in!  ***

“I love this book. It is humorous, but well grounded in reality. The author seems to know and understand well the angst of adolescent boys. If you have enjoyed the wimpy kid books try this one.  It’s funny, witty, has hilarious illustrations, and tells a great story, too.”

*** Pick it up in Paperback, on your Kindle or Nook, on iTunes or at Smashwords.  ***

A Questionnaire for The Tooth Fairy (53/365)

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Yesterday, my oldest son, Bob the Builder lost a tooth.  He was eating a hard shell taco of all things when it came out.  That’s actually the second time he’s lost a tooth eating a taco.  Of course, Bob was excited for the tooth fairy to come, but my daughter was even more excited.

Even though she didn’t lose a tooth, The Flower Child decided that she was going to leave some questions for the tooth fairy under her pillow.  Here’s the first side of the piece of paper she left under her pillow the night that the tooth fairy came.  The Tooth Fairy Questionnaire had two sides.

 

ToothFairy

Here’s all of the questions and answers typed out.  I cleaned up The Flower Child’s grammar, but she writes pretty darn well for her age.

Do you have horses?  No, I don’t.

Dear Tooth Fairy,  I want to know your name.  Pearl

Also, Pearl, our tooth fairy, drew a picture of herself.

There’s more.  Here’s the back side.

ToothFairy1

How big are you? (She gave the tooth fairy three choices.  The size of a toothbrush, the size of a pea, or the size of lettuce)  The tooth fairy circled toothbrush, naturally.

What is your favorite color?  I love all colors, but sky blue is my favorite.  White is pretty too!

So, now you know.  The fairy that visits our house for teeth is named Pearl, she’s the size of a toothbrush, and likes the colors sky blue and white.  Also, from the picture she drew, she’s a cute little thing!

I’m Too Much of an Idiot to be Successful

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On November 16th, 2014, an email account that I never check punched me in the face so hard, I still have tears in my eyes.  Here’s why.

I have a moderately successful YouTube channel called “Tips4Running”.  As the name suggests, the videos I produce are focused on running tips.  I also like to use my GoPro camera when I run in Tough Mudder races, and I post these videos too.

I’ve been busy with school and with writing lately, so I haven’t uploaded a new video in some time.  Over the weekend, I found some free time, and I made a new running video.  While it was uploading, I was checking the different pages on the Tips4Running YouTube channel, I visited the “About Tips4Running YouTube page”.  On this little page, I wrote, and I quote, “Coach Tief is currently seeking sponsors, partners and product samples to review. Contact him at the following email.”  Then there is a link to an email account that I haven’t checked for six months.

So, I thought, let’s check out that email address while I wait for my video to load.  I get on the email account, and there are 364 emails I haven’t read.  Quickly I filter through them.  Most of them are spam, but once I get past about 200 emails, I find an interesting one sent to me on August 15th.  It was sent by Tina Theriot, with a title of “Edge of Tomorrow – Tough Mudder”.  I open the email, and this is what it said, word for word.

Dear Coach Tief,

On behalf of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and EDGE OF TOMORROW, we would love to invite you to participate as a member of our team at Tough Mudder: Seattle on September 27th and 28th.  Our goal is to create a version of the “J-Squad” as seen in the film, with a range of team members from celebrities, YouTube personalities, top tier media, fitness gurus and even contestants from American Ninja Warrior.

As a participant on the EDGE OF TOMORROW team, we will pay for air travel to and from Seattle, hotel accommodations for two nights and the ticket entry fee.  In return, we ask that you help promote awareness of the Blu-ray/DVD release of EDGE OF TOMORROW and the great time we guarantee you will have by participating with us!

We think you would be a great addition to our team and would love to discuss this opportunity further.  Please let us know your interest and availability by Friday, August 22nd. Please feel free to email us any questions or concerns you may have.

Thank you!

Tina Theriot

Associate Marketing Specialist

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

“NOOOOOOO!”  I screamed to myself.  How could I be so stupid?  How could I miss out on something like this?  This is the whole reason I make the running videos!  I want to do cool things like this, get footage of it, and then share the videos with my viewers.  I pay a lot of money to run Tough Mudders, and I could have ran one for free, not to mention I could have done it with American Ninja Warriors and other YouTubers!  Plus they were going to pay to fly me out there, and pay for the hotel.  I’m such an idiot.

Hi.  I don't like to check my email.  I'd rather run in mud.

Hi. I don’t like to check my email. I’d rather run in mud.

Needless to say, I’ll be checking that email account daily from now until forever.  I’m going to try and make this right somehow.  I know I’ll be running another Tough Mudder in 2015, and I’ll make a video for that.  Tonight, I’m going to rent or buy the movie EDGE OF TOMORROW and watch it immediately.  Then I’m going to email back Tina from Warner Bros. with my sincerest apologies.  They probably didn’t miss me at all, but I still feel really bad about the whole thing.  I only have myself to blame.  I hate me!

Punching the Poo out of Cows Down on the Farm

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Being a farmer is brutal.  Doing all that manual labor, growing crops, smacking around the livestock, and shoveling poo must be rough.  Dealing with the poop is probably the thing that really makes me appreciate farmers.  They can handle that smell of hay mixed with manure.  It’s so brutal.  I know you probably get used to it after a while, but the smell of animal feces can really singe my nose hairs.  Have you ever smelt a pig farm before?  Dear Lord!  That scent is so indescribably awful.

Is there poo on my pitchfork?

Is there poo on my pitchfork?

I’m not much of a fan of farms, but I visited one last weekend.  For months and months, my five year old son, Ivan, has been asking to visit a farm because his 4K class went on a field trip to one.  We went there on Saturday to buy pumpkins, but we took in a lot of the other activities too.  We enjoyed a tractor ride, the kids all rode on a horse, and the most fun was catching chickens.  Did you know that you can walk up behind a chicken, and snatch them up.  They flap their wings a little sometimes, but mostly, they just sit in your hands.

The strangest part was when our whole family went into a small barn with a milking cow.  This old lady was by the cow, and she let each one of our kids have a turn milking it.  The cow, we’ll call her Bessie, because I call every cow that name, was a cranky beast.  After my kids milked the cow, the old lady did too.  The only problem was Ol’ Bessie tried to kick the lady.  The lady got really mad, stood up, and punched the cow in the ribs.  The cow appropriately responded to the attack by taking a huge dump.  My kids laughed and laughed as the lady grabbed a pitchfork to clean up after Bessie.  The stench of manure was so powerful, my eyes were burning when we evacuated the barn.

I don’t know if punching cows is a normal, nor do know if cows poop in protest when they are punched, but thank goodness I don’t have to clean the poo.

P.S. Farmers, if you’re out there.  Is it normal to punch the livestock?  I’ve only been out there with the cattle a few times and on two occasions, with two separate farmers, they punched the cows.

 

Pokemon – Gotta Catch ‘Em All. Actually, Don’t!

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Something very dangerous, and downright sinister has happened in the Tiefenthaler household.  Pocket monsters have infiltrated our walls, and we’re surrounded by them.  For the uninitiated, Pokemon is a Japanese word, that means “pocket monster” in English.  It started as a video game for Nintendo, and expanded into a cartoon show, movies, and a trading card game.

Here’s why it’s such a big problem.  On the bus, a kid named Sean introduced my 3rd grade son, Bob the Builder, to the Pokemon card game.  Bob loved them and decided he needed Pokemon cards.  It sounds nice on the surface, until I realized that one pack of 10 cards costs $4.10 cents.  That’s ridiculous!  This hobby could be wicked expensive.

F you, Pikachu!

F you, Pikachu!

Side note:  I want my kids to grow up normal, but I wish they didn’t ride the school bus.  In addition to learning about Pokemon cards there, they also learned some very colorful language.   I’m so glad they are expanding their vocabulary.

Anyways, I caved and bought Bob the Builder a pack of cards.  Of course, he opened them in front of my seven-year old daughter, The Flower Child.  Now she needed some cards.  I don’t remember all of the persuasion techniques she used, but I’m pretty sure there was some crying involved.  That didn’t make me cave.  What did was she also complained so much about the cards that my five-year old, Ivan the Terrible caught wind of this injustice.  He needed some cards too.  I wasn’t about to get between Ivan and some Pokemon.

Back to the store I go for another pack.  In order to save money, I bought a three pack of cards for $11.98.  If I bought three separate packs, it would have been $12.30.  Hooray for saving 32 cents!  I’ve you’re keeping track, that is now $16.08 spent on pocket monsters.

I handed over the packs of cards upon my return and thought it was finally all over.  I was wrong.

The Flower Child had a special “EX” Pokemon card that was more powerful than any of the cards that Bob the Builder or Ivan the Terrible had in their packs of cards.  Joy.

After some kicking, screaming, crying, and more crying, I said they could get some more cards on one condition.  They could all have their own three pack of cards, but only if they let my wife and I take them out to eat at a Mexican restaurant.  I needed a beer, and my wife demanded a margarita.

Back to the store we go for $33.94 worth of stupid Pocket Monster Cards, and that’s before taxes.  The running total is $590.76 for cards now.  Actually, it’s not that much, but I didn’t feel like doing any more math.  I’m a writer.  Leave me alone.

Here’s the real danger in this situation.  I like collecting cards.  Somewhere in the basement, I have stacks of baseball cards.  Even worse than that, I still have Magic the Gathering cards under my bed.  In college, I played that game a ton.  I remember cashing my monthly check from Hollywood Video when I worked in college and then spending it all on Magic the Gathering cards.  Granted, I only got paid about $41 per month, but I needed more cards!  Will I get sucked into this card craze?  Please, no!

At the restaurant, they tore into their packs.  The first thing Bob the Builder and Ivan the Terrible looked for was if they got any special “EX” cards.  They didn’t get any, but the Flower Child got another.

So, do any of you readers want to give me your old Pokemon cards?  Specifically any “Mega” cards or “EX” cards.  For the love of all things sacred, give me your Pokemon.  I’ve got to catch them all!

Rub Some Dirt on It – A Sledding Story Time

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Whenever I got hurt as a kid, my father would always say the same thing, “Get up, Dave.  You’re not hurt.  Rub some dirt on it.”

The phrase, rub some dirt on it, is a baseball colloquialism.  Dad’s a big baseball fan, and his infectious love for the game rubbed off on his two sons, myself, and my older brother Steve.  If we got hit by a pitch, fell down on our bike, or ran into a snow fence when sledding, the message was the same.

“Rub some dirt on it.”

Most of the time, he was right.  Now, I wouldn’t literally rub dirt on a bruise or cut, but I would get up, dust myself off, and then get back out there. After a while, we started to give my father the same advice whenever he got banged up.

At Nagawaukee Golf Course, off of Maple Drive, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, there is a fantastic sledding hill.  My father, brother, and I would go there multiple times each winter when I was in middle school.

Now on one particular winter weekend, the conditions at the park were magnificent.  The day before, we were hit with a few inches of wintry mix, meaning some snow, sleet and rain.  Right after the precipitation stopped, the temperature dropped.  Snow and sleet covered the ground and froze solid.  The slippery surface provided barely enough traction to walk up the hill.

My brother and I brought our red plastic sleds, and my father brought an inner-tube.  The three of us marched to the summit of Mount Nagawaukee, hopped in our rides, and sailed down the icy terrain.

Dad sailed ahead of Steve and I, and at about the halfway point of the hill, his inner-tube started to turn.  He was going down backwards for a little bit, and near the end of the hill, he wisely bailed out.  Dad tumbled out of the tube, and Steve and I intentionally crashed our sleds right behind him.

Even though the hill flattened out, we all had to force ourselves to stop because our momentum never slowed down on the glare ice.  If we didn’t intentionally bail out, we would have catapulted over a ditch and into the road.   Also, at the bottom of the hill right in front of the ditch, only about a foot off the ground was a thick steel cable.  Running parallel to the road,  the cable was an inch in diameter, and it looped between short wooden posts, signifying the edge of the golf course.

Don't sled past me

Don’t sled past me

“That was lame.  I shouldn’t have bailed out so soon.  There was still some hill left,” Dad said as we walked back up the hill.  Steve and I shrugged our shoulders.

The second run started just like the first.  Dad quickly took the lead.  The combination of pumped up plastic inner-tube on a steep decline of glare ice allowed my father to travel at incredible speeds.  Halfway down, he accidentally spun backwards and headed down the hill blind.  Steve and I followed close behind, and shouted as he approached the end of the run, “BAIL OUT!  BAIL OUT!”

There goes the Snow Tube.

There goes the Snow Tube.

BOOOOOOOOOM!

The inner-tube exploded as Dad slammed sideways into the steel cable wire.  It wasn’t quite a clothesline because Dad hit the wire just below his armpit, but he still was whipsawed to the ground, making him crash onto his shoulder.  The weight of my father collapsing onto the ice blew a hole into the side of the tube and sent it squealing through the air like a deflating balloon.  It finally landed on the other side of the road.

Steve and I skidded to a stop right in front of him.  We didn’t know if we should laugh or not, so for a moment, we said nothing at all.

I think Steve broke the silence.  He said, “Dad.  That was… AWESOME!  But I think you broke the tube.  It flew across the road.”

Dad responded with some groans.

“Get up Dad.  You’re not hurt,” I said.

He continued to grimace in pain.

“Rub some dirt on it,” I added.

Dad managed to sit back up.  He muttered a few words, “We’ve got to go back to the car.”

Reluctantly, Steve and I agreed.  Apparently, rubbing dirt on it wasn’t going to work for Dad.  I grabbed the sleds, and Steve retrieved the flattened inner-tube.  Dad stood up and we walked a half mile back to the car.

When Dad crashed, he cracked two ribs.  I don’t remember how long it took his ribs to heel, but he didn’t move very quickly for a month or two.

Any time we retell the sledding story, Dad always says the same thing, “But it was a great ride. It was a great ride.”