Geocache at a Little Free Library

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Someone on Twitter brought up Geocaching the other day, and I decided that I should give it a try.  Here’s the video footage.

Another event that happened recently was a “Dirty Ninja Mud Run” and all three of my children partook in the event. Here’s the footage of my kids totally tearing it up!

That’s all for now.  Hope you’re having a good summer, just like my family is!

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.  ***

Fan Art Friday – Turtle, Grinch, and Wanted Poster (72/365)

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You want to know what the number one enemy for me is, as far as preventing me from writing?  I’d have to say it’d be nice weather.  It was a gorgeous day today here in Southern Wisconsin.  I got home from work and spent as much time as possible outside.  I sat on the deck, enjoying the nice rays with my wife.  Then I grilled some bratwurst up for dinner.  After that, we took a walk.

Get this.  A couple in our neighborhood was on a walk with a macaw parrot.  No lie!  They had a macaw as a pet, and they were walking around outside with it.  Marlo was it’s name.  I asked a ridiculous amount of questions to the owners because it’s not often you see an animal like that outside of a zoo.  I’ll have to talk about that tomorrow.  You know why?  ‘Cause today is Fan Art Friday.  Let’s see what the kids created this week.

First up is Ivan the Wonderful with a Turtle.

Turtle

Ivan wanted us to know all the body parts of the Turtle.  It has feet, legs, a tail, a shell, a head and much more.

Next up, we have a grumpy picture from The Flower Child, of all people.

The Grinch by a seven year old

I guess it’s okay that she drew a grumpy picture.  It is the Grinch, after all.

Our last entry of the week comes from Bob the Builder.

Wanted Poster by a kid

According to Bob, he was wanted for “Excessive Bee Awards”.  At his school, you get a “Bee Award” if you are being kind, courteous, or helpful.  He does get a fair amount of them.  I understand why he had to make a Wanted Poster.

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.  ***

Happy Valentine’s Day (45/365)

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Here’s hoping you have some loved ones to give a big hug to on Valentine’s Day.  I feel incredibly lucky because I live in a house filled with love.  My wife gave me a very nice sweatshirt, some Sobe (my favorite drink) and of course, Cadbury Eggs.

I nailed it, like usual, giving her a gift certificate to a nail salon, some flowers (although I buy flowers often.  They just look so nice in the house) and a card.

One thing that I enjoy about my kids being in elementary school is the card exchange that they do amongst each other.  I found some stickers one of them got, today.

Valentines

My kids were particularly sweet this morning.  We gave each one a small gift, and the oldest one ran up and gave me a hug.  Those are the best hugs.  One’s you didn’t ask for, provided they aren’t from a stranger.  STRANGER DANGER!

Fan Art Friday (44/365)

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Here we go, continuing with the only thing I have standardized for my journal.  FAN ART FRIDAY!  I have new fan art to display this week, and it’s from my mother!  As it should be, she’s probably my number one cant.  Let’s look at this week’s work.  We don’t judge which one is the best here.  Instead, we just celebrate all the beauty.

First up is Ivan’s effort.

Reindeer

Ivan drew a reindeer.  He used many different items to create this like a pencil, a marker, and then colored it in with crayons.

Next up is The Flower Child.

Lion

The Flower Child painted a lion.  She loves how colorful it is.  She used paints that we have at home.

Here’s Bob the Builder’s picture.

RobotWaves

This is the octopus super hero.  Up above, he is transmitting sonic waves so he can teleport.

My mom added one to the collection.  A great message for all anyone creative!

MomArt

She took a picture of her picture and sent it to me, so sorry for the blurry quality.

Finally, here’s one from my wife, Lisa Marie.

MomMath

I’m not sure what is in this picture.  I think there’s a smiley face in there, but my wife said it was a parabola.  Is that what they call a smiley face with only one eye?

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!

Flu + Frozen Pipes = Doom

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WARNING – If you have a weak stomach, do not read any further.

You must be brave.  I commend you for continuing.  Get ready for a gut wrenching tale.

I only ask one thing.  If you make it through, you must share this with your friends, and more importantly, your enemies.

Note – We are in the middle of a very cold winter.

The day after Valentines – Saturday, 2/15/14 – 3:00 AM – Central Standard Time

My six year old, The Flower Child, wakes up crying.  She complains of having bad dreams, so I reluctantly get up and rub her back to help her calm down.

Lisa, my wife, gets up too, but she doesn’t come into The Flower Child’s room.  Instead, Lisa walks into the bathroom and barfs in the toilet.  All the commotion wakes up my four year old, Ivan the Terrible.  I assume Ivan will ask my wife or myself to tuck him back in, but instead he enters the bathroom and upchucks into the garbage can.

“The toilet isn’t flushing,” Lisa moans from the bathroom.   Even though she is still crying, I exit The Flower Child’s room to check on the status of the toilet.  My wife and Ivan are both sprawling out on the cool tile floor like dead bodies.  “It flushed once, but won’t anymore,” my wife says.

I step over them to fiddle with the lever of the toilet because there are some chortle chunks floating in the toilet bowl, but it doesn’t flush.  I take the back of the toilet seat off and notice that the chamber in back is not filling up with water.  This is not a good sign.  I twist the sink handle to see if water will come out of the sink, but only a few drops sputter out and then nothing.  We have no running water.  Our pipes must be frozen.

Oh no.

Oh no.

2/15/14 – 3:30 AM – Central Standard Time

I can handle kids and my wife dumping out their guts.  I can handle frozen pipes.  But together, it might be too much for one man to take.  I cast my doubts aside and remember my mantra in times like this.  “Cast iron stomach! You have a stomach of steel.  You can win this battle.  Stomach of steel!”

The Flower Child hasn’t stopped crying, but her sadness must take a back seat for the moment. First up, I find every available bucket or garbage can and double bag each one.  Next, I get on the computer, find the emergency number for the local utilities, and call them.

Here is a brief transcript of the conversation.

OPERATOR:  How did you find out that the pipes were frozen at 3:30 in the morning?

ME: My wife and my four year old child are throwing up and we can no longer flush the toilet.

OPERATOR:  I will send help immediately.

ME:  Thank you kindly for your help.

2/15/14 – 3:45 AM – Central Standard Time

We set up a makeshift bed using towels and sleeping bags on the hardwood floor in the family room.  My wife and Ivan the Terrible continue to heave out their guts.  After every vector spewing episode I take the double bagged garbage can to the garage, tie the bags and dump them into the large garbage can in the garage.  It is well below freezing in the garage, so the stomach spittle remains should freeze, effectively eliminating any puke stench.

As I was transporting one load of vomit to the garage, my wife informs me that The Flower Child threw up in her bed.  I march into her bedroom and find that she blasted chunks all over her comforter, sheets, and stuffed cheetah.  I strip all the sheets and comforter from her bed, throw the stuffed cheetah in the middle of these sheets, roll it up into a large ball, carry it to the garage, and throw it on the garage floor.

I get a call from the workers, and they say that they are on route.  They tell me that they will be working from inside my house, in the basement where the main water pipe enters my home.  They also tell me to clear away anything near the pipe because they have a large machine they need to put near the pipe entrance, and they are about 15 minutes away from my address.

The Flower Child is transported to the makeshift sick bay on the family room floor.  I hustle downstairs to move my weight bench, exercise bike, turn tables, record collection, and paper shredder from the area by the water pipes.

2/15/14 – 4:00 AM – Central Standard Time

Help arrives.  Two bearded utility workers enter the home, carrying a large machine and a bunch of hoses that will inject hot water into pipes outside.  With all the commotion, my eight year old, Bob the Builder, wakes up and joins me in the living room.  He doesn’t feel sick, but I set a double bagged garbage can next to him on the couch.  Bob asks who’s making all the noise in the family room.  I inform him that Mom, Ivan, and The Flower Child all have the flu, and they are busy sending messages to the wastebasket.

2/15/14 – 5:30 AM – Central Standard Time

The utility workers aren’t making any progress.  My son, Ivan the Terrible, tells me that he might have to use the toilet because something wants to come out the other end of his body.  I warn him that the toilet Mom spilled the groceries in has already been flushed.  He has to use the other one.  Also, if he has to go, he shouldn’t flush it.  He says he can’t hold it and rushes to the loo.  Shortly after he exits, The Flower Child takes a dump in the toilet that is already loaded with fecal matter.

2/15/14 – 6:00 AM – Central Standard Time

The stench from the crap loaded toilet has wafted out into the home and mixes with the already prevalent scent of stomach acid.  I resist the urge to flush the toilet by pulling my shirt over my head.  God help anyone that has to use that toilet again.

2/15/14 – 7:00 AM – Central Standard Time

The utility workers come up from the bowels of the basement.  They couldn’t unfreeze the pipe from inside the house.  They leave, but they promise to return soon with reinforcements.  I hold my best poker face and say, “Thanks for trying your best.  I hope you can fix it when you return.”

On the inside I scream, “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

Already prepared for this, I call up a local hotel and immediately book a room over the phone.

2/15/14 – 8:00 AM – Central Standard Time

After haphazardly packing several outfits for my sick family, I load the clothes into the van.   Right before throwing the casualties into the van, I make my way to the bathroom to flush the brown down.  I cover my mouth and nose when entering, but I probably should be wearing goggles too.   The putrid smell of hell’s candy burns my eyes.  Tears well up as I approach the toilet.  Whatever happened in here was beyond awful.  I don’t know if the first blast or the second caused it, but supersonic sewer sewage is spattered all over inside and outside of the toilet bowl.  I flush the toilet and dive out of the bathroom.

Once everyone manages to get a jacket on their sickly frames, we get in the van and roll to the hotel.  Thankfully, no one has a wet burp in the car, but after we get out, Ivan the Terrible calls Uncle Ralph and his Cousin Hurl in the parking lot, and The Flower Child brings some fluorescent cheer to a snowbank next to entrance of the hotel.  I feel so powerless in this moment.  The only thing I can do to help The Flower Child is hold her hair back so she doesn’t get any on herself.

2/15/14 – 9:00 AM – Central Standard Time

Bob the Builder and I pick up some wet wipes and bottles of water from the store.  We return to the hotel and drop off the goods.  Ivan the Terrible looks much better, but The Flower Child and my wife are still pleading their case to the porcelain judge.

2/15/14 – 9:30 AM – Central Standard Time

We might as well get what we are paying for, so Bob the Builder and I enjoy continental breakfast at the hotel.  I put myself on the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast) to hopefully avoid the same fate as my family and eat one banana and a piece of toast.  I warn Bob that he could get sick too, but he throws caution to the wind and eats a bowl of Fruit Loops and chases it with a frosted donut.

2/15/14 – 9:45 AM – Central Standard Time

Bob the Builder and I return to our home.  Reinforcements arrive and begin working outside.  The utility workers attach jumper cables to a pipe next to our driveway and run an ungodly amount of voltage through the pipe.  The electrified pipe will heat up and melt the ice block.

2/15/14 – 11:00 AM – Central Standard Time

Water starts running in the house.  I thank the utility workers for their hard work.  They inform me that pretty much all of Hartford is freezing up and they quickly leave to help the next home on their list.

2/15/14 – 4:30 PM – Central Standard Time

After scouring the house for hours, I know what must be done.  I have to clean the toilet that is covered with colon cannonballs.  Armed with a toilet wand, a scrub brush, bleach, Lysol and Scrubbing Bubble disinfectant spray, I enter the battle zone.  Step one.  I douse the whole area with chemicals.   Step two.  I exit the bathroom and hope that magical scrubbing bubbles are cleaning the toilet on their own, just like in the commercial.  Step three.  I re-enter the bathroom and find that that commercial is totally false.  Step four.  I scrub all the keester cakes and Mississippi mud off the toilet until it is sparkling clean.  Step five.  I close the lid so the cat doesn’t try to drink the toilet water.

Sunday – 2/16/14 – 2:30 AM – Central Standard Time

Bob the Builder wakes up with a bad stomach ache.  We guide him to the toilet and he immediately hits the eject button on his belly.  With running water, it isn’t very difficult to clean up after Bob the Builder.  I just flush the toilet.  Thank you utility workers!  Thank you from the bottom of my stomach.

2/16/14 – 8:30 AM – Central Standard Time

The final battle.  I think for a moment I cleaned the entire house and eradicated any sign of abdominal chum or Montezuma’s revenge, but I am wrong.  Piled in a ball in the garage, The Flower Child’s pink and white striped sheets and Butterfly comforter taunt me.  I snatch the cold boulder from the garage floor and heave it into the laundry room.  “Stomach of steel,” I chant to myself.  I unroll the ball and pull out the first of three blankets.  Only a few chunks are on this one.  I take it to the utility sink and run water over the clam chowder surprise.  It doesn’t come off.

That’s when it hits me.  The chunderspew that covers these sheets and blankets are frozen.  I have to use scalding hot water to dislodge it.  My hand trembles as I turn the knob to the hot water on full blast.  Slowly the half digested stomach purge heats up enough to peel off of the sheet.  Unfortunately, the putrid, acidic, noxious odor of Hurl and Ralph return.  The smell assails my nostrils, and I gag.  Between dry heaves, I manage to get the first sheet clean.  The comforter doesn’t have much on it, so I just chuck it directly into the washing machine.  However, the third blanket is loaded with frozen leftover lunch.  I repeat the cleaning process, but because these pieces of rainbow retch are larger, they don’t immediately slide down the drain. Some larger pieces sink and clog the drain, while lighter fare float about in the clogged utility sink.

I turn my head upward and ask for divine intervention.  Please, don’t make me reach into the sink!  For the love of all things sacred, don’t make me do it!

My prayers are answered.  The hot water works its magic and the chunky puddle begins to drain away.  I watch the remaining stomach discharge melt, break apart, and slide down the drain, never to be seen again.  I toss the last blanket into the washing machine.

All that remains is the stuffed cheetah.  I contemplate burning it, or throwing it away, but The Flower Child loves the cheetah.  With my bare hands, I scrub the oral diarrhea out of its fur, and whip the stuffed cat into the washing machine.  I win.

You made it.  Hopefully you didn’t retch on whatever device you were reading this.  Now remember to share it because sharing is caring. 

Rainbow Loom College Plan

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My wife and I are both teachers.  Since we value education, we think that all three of our children should go to college and get a degree.

The downside for my wife and I is we are teachers who don’t earn a ton of money.  Our dream of three children graduating college means we have to save a boatload of money for them.  Currently in our 529 college plan, we have around zero dollars saved up for the three children.

My parents paid for my college education.  My wife earned a scholarship and also received help from her grandfather when paying for her education.  I feel that we should do the same, but according to inflation and the escalating prices of a college education, it will cost us about four million dollars to pay for all three of them.  I might be a bit low with that estimate.

Enter the RAINBOW LOOM

On YouTube, I have posted a bunch of running instructional videos.  They make me a little money each month.  One day, my oldest son, Bob the Builder, said he wanted to do a Rainbow Loom instructional video.  My son watches YouTube Rainbow Loom videos and learns how to make bracelets, so he wanted to post his own creations.  I filmed it for him, and we posted a video.  Bob the Builder did an excellent job explaining how to make a bracelet, and then my daughter, The Flower Child, said she wanted to do one too.  She made a bracelet, and I filmed for her.

BAM!  A cottage industry is born.  Now we just have to wait for the money to pile up.  I checked the stats yesterday for our YouTube channel and we actually made some money.

“Hey kids,” I announced.  “We made 67 cents!”

The Flower Child screamed, “We’re rich!”

Bob the Builder replied, “He said 67 cents, not dollars.”

Wish us luck!  Here is the first video we did.

 

This video is the one my daughter made.

 

We only have to make about $3,999,999.33 more and they’ll be set for college.