Barbie vs. Brady: Tips for Watching the NFL Playoffs When the Kids are Home

Brady vs. Manning. Kaepernick vs. Wilson.

Classic matchups.

But at my house, it was “Powerpuff Girls” vs. “Sophia the First,” and “Jesse” vs. “Austin & Ally.”

Someone please shoot me.

Alas, that’s what it’s like at my house when it comes to watching any kind of sports when the girls are here. And they seem to be here mainly when the biggest games are on: Super Bowls, NCAA championships, college football championships, Game 7s.

You know, everything I care about.

Sure, sure, time with the kids is great. But every man has a limit, especially when it comes to watching your favorite teams. After all, you can only have your nails painted so many times on Sunday afternoons before you permanently lose your man card.

Follow these tips, though, and you won’t miss a down during this year’s NFL playoffs.

1)      Record, record, record: First, start stockpiling all those shitty kids’ shows you hate. The reason? If you can’t record more than two shows at a time, then you need a steady stream of kid shows in your DVR recordings. That way, your kids can still watch their favorite, pre-recorded shows while you record two games at once.

2)      Invite Other Kids Over: This might seem counter-productive, but it works like a charm: Invite at least one of your kids’ friends to your house. The kids basically babysit themselves when their friends are over, and they’ll probably spend more time playing in their rooms than watching TV. Plus, the fathers of those kids will love you for it and may return the favor someday.

3)      Make an Event Out of It: If it’s a big game, then treat it like a mini-holiday – something the kids can get excited about. I used to take my girls to the local high school football team’s games, even the road games. The girls, of course, didn’t give a shit about the game itself and in fact would spend the majority of the contest talking to their friends with their backs to the action on the field. It’s the pageantry and party-atmosphere they love. So, invite some friends over – your friends and your kids’ friends – and grill out. Have the kids dress up in team jerseys and make game-related crafts during the pregame while you’re getting the food ready. (That way, you can still watch the pregame show.) Once your guests arrive – and, more specifically, more kids show up – your children will be too preoccupied to care about what’s on TV.

4)      Avoid ESPN, Facebook and the Internet Altogether: If you wait to watch the NFL playoff games until after the kids go to bed, then you still want that element of surprise. That means you have to avoid things like Facebook and any highlight shows during the course of the day.

I tend to wait until my kids are in bed before watching any games or grownup shows, then fly through the games by fast-forwarding through commercials, plays and game stoppages. By the time I finally hit “play” on my DVR, I typically have no idea of who won that day’s games.

It doesn’t always work out.

I recall one year in which my favorite NFL team had finally reached the playoffs. I dressed up in my team jersey, headed off to work, and pleaded with my co-workers to keep the outcome secret.

They did.

So I could hardly contain my excitement as I drove home that night, first stopping at a fast food joint to grab a bite to eat. I was minutes away from home when the lady at the drive-thru window saw my jersey and said, “Too bad about the loss, huh?”

Damn it.

New Year’s Resolution? Throw Away Toys

The girls and I live in a cramped, two bedroom apartment, so the two of them share a room.

Translation: Their room – and the house – is always a damn mess. I can’t stand it.

At this age, the main problem is toys and craft projects. Everywhere I look, there’s a toy lying around. I see three Barbies having a “tea party” on my work desk; Rainbow Looms are on the couch (along with a billion of those damn little rubber bands); the pet “grooming station” is next to the recliner; a random Hello Kitty doll is in the middle of the living room floor; and the Flutterbye Fairy – which literally broke within minutes of being used the first time – is stashed away on another chair.

And that’s clean, by our standards.

The girls’ room, though, is a different story.

The reason why so much of this crap winds up strewn all over the house is because A) I am raising spoiled children, and; B) I am apparently raising future stars of the TV show “Hoarders.”

I warned the girls before Christmas: “We gotta give away or throw away about half this crap.”

“She’s not capable of doing that,” my oldest daughter said.

And she’s right. My youngest child is like a walking, talking, living, breathing tornado. Like a tornado, she goes into a room and picks up and drops off shit where it doesn’t belong. I recently spent four hours cleaning up the house – vacuuming, dusting, moping, picking up, etc. – only to have the house look like a homeless person lived there within 30 minutes of the girls’ arrival. The primary culprit? My little one, who is 5.

Unlike my 9-year-old, the little one still loves playing with toys. And she has a lot of them. At last count, she had more than 100 stuffed animals, most of which are on the top bunk, where she sleeps. (Her bed, by the way, looks like a toy chest.) She’ll play with something – or hell, maybe she’ll just pick something up – then, within minutes, she drops it wherever she’s at and moves on to the next toy.

This process takes place about 1,000 times a day so that, by the end of my day, this house looks like a bomb went off. I constantly remind her to put things away when she’s finished playing with or using it. By now, though, my demands are nothing more than background noise that goes ignored.

And I’ve tried everything. I’ve threatened to spank her for not putting her stuff away. I’ve grounded my 5-year-old. I’ve made her “pray to Jesus” to teach her how to pick up after herself. Hell, one time, I made the girls pick up after the other one in an effort to shame my little one into doing a better job about cleaning up. (Didn’t work; she gladly spent 5 minutes picking up after her sister, while my oldest daughter spent an hour cleaning up for her little sister – and complained about it the entire time.)

Then, out of the blue, came this little bombshell:

“I don’t like my stepdad,” the little one said one day.

“Why?” I asked. “He sure loves you.”

“Because he threw away a bunch of my toys yesterday,” she said, and then burst into tears.

Instead of comforting her, though, I had this reaction: “God damn it,” I said. “That was my idea.”

Unfortunately, that meant I couldn’t utilize the same punishment at my house. Let me explain.

My 5-year-old has had this problem since the day she could walk. She took her first steps on her first birthday, and by the end of the day, the entire house was littered with her toys and other crap she had randomly grabbed (and later dropped). Tired of dealing with this every day, I told my then-wife that we should start throwing away (or at least pretend to) anything that’s not put away at the end of the day.

“Absolutely not,” my ex said back then. “That’s just cruel.”

Four years and a new husband later, suddenly the idea of throwing away toys that aren’t put away is a brilliant idea.

I was thoroughly irritated.

Regardless of whether I paid for the toys or if they came from my ex’s house, I was all for the idea of throwing away toys. For one, I guarantee that most of those toys wouldn’t be missed. Hell, at this point, I don’t think either child has any idea of what toys they have. Plus, if you throw away enough toys, you’d think the girls would be more diligent about picking up after themselves.

Both girls were legitimately upset by this turn of events at mom’s house. Apparently, my ex’s new husband pretty regularly throws away shit that’s not put away, and that goes for both girls. My oldest has a good point: her little sister and her 4-year-old stepsister regularly go into her room at mom’s house, randomly grab shit from her room, then don’t put it back afterward. So she’s had things thrown away, too.

And, of course, my little one can’t stand the idea of parting ways with any of her stuff, including toys she hasn’t played with in years.

So, the simple fact that I do not throw away anything that’s not put away has earned me major brownie points with the girls. Most times, I could care less whether the girls like my rules or not. And I know they complain about some of my rules when they’re at mom’s house – and I then hear complaints about that from my ex.

“Dad makes us do too much homework.”

“Dad gives us chores.”

“Dad makes us to go to church.”

“Dad makes us go to bed earlier at his house.”

“Dad makes us take a bath or shower every night.”

My response to those complaints? “Tough shit.”

But I have mixed emotions about the toys situation at my house. On the one hand, I think throwing away anything that’s not put away is a brilliant idea. It was, after all, originally my idea. On the other hand, anything legitimate that’ll earn me brownie points with the kids has to be taken pretty seriously, as any divorced parent will tell you.

So, instead, I came up with a new idea: “Let’s go through all your toys and stuffed animals, and then give away anything you don’t play with to the poor.”

Eureka. The girls loved the idea, including my little hoarder, whose heart was touched when learning that some kids don’t have any toys to play with.

“Start making a pile,” I said, “and I’ll check back in an hour to see your progress.”

During that hour, I heard intermittent complaints:

“Dad, she’s just playing.”

“Dad, she called me a ‘hoarder,’” followed by, “What’s a ‘hoarder’?”

But, an hour later, both girls emerged from their room, saying they were finished.

“I’ll be the judge of that.”

I was very impressed with my 9-year-old’s pile. It was filled with toys, stuffed animals, dolls and books that she had lost interest in.

Then came my 5-year-old’s pile. It was not as impressive.

Her pile was about a fourth of the size of my oldest daughter’s, even though she has more to give away. It included a bunch of long-forgotten McDonald’s toys – you know, those cheap little toys that break within a few minutes – along with a slew of broken toys.

“Umm, no. You’re not giving away McDonald’s toys and broken toys to poor children,” I said.

“Why not?” the little one asked. “They can still play with them.”

This was coming from the same person who had spent an hour playing with the rocks and sticks she had found and brought inside the house.

“How would you like it if Dad only gave you broken toys?” my oldest daughter asked her sister.

“I wouldn’t care. I’d still play with them,” the little one said.

You can’t argue with that logic.

So, I’ve put together a new game plan. Both girls left with their mom, stepdad and stepsister this morning for a trip to see his parents over the winter break. I’ll use this time to go through their stuff myself.

And I plan on throwing away or giving away about half of their stuff.

Happy New Year, girls. You just made half of the city’s poor children very happy.

Daddy’s Not a Racist, He Just Hates All Drivers

There’s not a racist, bigoted or sexist bone in my body.

It’s how I was raised and how I’m raising my children. In fact, I’d rather live in a culturally diverse community than be surrounded by a bunch of white assholes like myself. I don’t stand for hateful acts and regularly preach to my girls that they should stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves and to speak up when injustice occurs.

But when I get behind the wheel, I take the Howard Stern viewpoint on racism: I hate all people equally.

It’s almost like some kind of penance for God-knows what sins I’ve committed over the years. If I’m driving in the left-hand lane, then some moron going about 15 miles slower than me will suddenly decide to get in the lane in front of me. If I’m in the far right lane and am about to turn right at the stop light, then some douchebag will suddenly change lanes – and sit there in the lane until it turns green.

You get the drift.

Anyone who’s spent any time driving knows that certain cultures, genders and age-groups all seem to drive the same way. Racial stereotyping? Absolutely. But, again as the great Howard Stern once said, how do you think these things become a stereotype?

As a coping mechanism, I sometimes blurt aloud some of these stereotypes (along with a slew of four-letter words). Now that I have kids, though, I have to be careful about what I say.

So, as a service to you, I’ve compiled a few of my observations. For starters, we’ll ignore the low-hanging fruit: elderly, Asian, teen and minivan drivers. Yes, those drivers are typically dangerous on the road, but so, too, is any white male between the ages of 16 and 45. I promise you, that particular demographic will use their phone to text or read/send an email at least one time while driving. While on the highway. At 70 mph.

Among my less-obvious observations:

  • God squad: Unless you’re in no hurry to get to your destination, change lanes the second you get behind someone with any kind of religious bumper sticker. The next time I see a driver with a fish symbol or a “Jesus Saves” bumper sticker crawl to within 5 mph of the speed limit will be the first time.
  • Handicap drivers: Same goes for getting behind someone with a handicap placard on their car. Unless you want to be 20 minutes late, change lanes.
  • Morbidly obese drivers: There’s a reason why morbidly obese motorists drive so erratically. They’re eating.
  • Mothers without kids in the car: This is sometimes a hard one to spot. If you’re on the road and see another motorist who appears to be a mom – but don’t see kids in the car – then you know she’s in no hurry. The reason? This is like a mini-vacation for her away from her kids.
  • White men in expensive cars: These guys have a surprisingly low number of speeding tickets, probably due to their $1,000 radar detectors. But they have no qualms with driving inches from your bumper, even if you’re going way over the speed limit.
  • Any white male between the ages of 30-50 in a beat-up car: They’re drunk.
  • Any white male between the ages of 22-29 in a beat-up car: They’re stoned.
  • Any black or Hispanic female driver between the ages of 16-30: You’ll have to wait a few minutes for her to go after the light turns green. She needs to finish texting.
  • Any white female driver between the ages of 16-40: Same as above, plus she’s also fixing her makeup and/or hair.
  • Any white male between the age of 16-25 who’s driving an expensive car: Possibly the most dangerous driver of all, these spoiled assholes will have at least one accident and one speeding ticket on their record. This month.
  • You, the reader: If you’re reading this and are highly offended, then I guarantee you drive way too slow.

(Quick side story: I once lost my shit while driving to work. There were only two people on the road: me and a motorist way ahead who was obviously going below the speed limit. About a quarter mile before I made my turn, this driver crossed two lanes to get in the right-hand lane, right in front of me, then proceeded to go 30 miles below the speed limit. Then, of course, the driver turned right, just as I did, on a one-way road, so I remained stuck behind him. My cursing, though, was soon stymied as I realized that the motorist was also driving to the same office. It was my boss. Expecting his wrath, I tried to avoid eye contact as he parked right next to me. But, he was all smiles as he exited his car. “Didn’t see you there,” he said, cheerily. See? Elderly drivers. Dangerous.)

I could drone on and on.

Anyway, I got particularly worked up one day after getting stuck between a motorist driving about 20 mph below the speed limit in the far left-hand lane and a motorist going slightly slower in the right lane. This went on for about 10 miles.

And I was about to lose my fucking mind.

I did my best to bite my tongue, because both girls were in the car. Finally – finally – the moron in the left lane had put enough distance between him and the motorist in the right lane that I could squeeze over into the right lane and pass both of them.

As I was doing that, my oldest daughter got a glimpse of both drivers, then said with a very curious tone: “Hmm. That’s strange, dada. They were both going slow, but neither driver is old, has a handicap sign or has a religious bumper sticker. And both drivers were men.”

I about died.

Guess I need to be a little more careful about what I say while driving.

How to Choose the Best Weed Wacker Today

People who live in a house understand the importance of having a tidy lawn. Furthermore, it is well known that this is a weekly operation that can suffer no postponing. Though there are families who prefer to ask for professional help, the majority rather do it themselves as a recreational activity. However, in order to actually enjoy it, it is extremely important to own a practical and operational tool. The best weed wacker for you is the one that helps you get the job done in effective time with optimum results.

It is important to know that choosing the best weed wacker is definitely not a random purchase. You cannot simply pick the first one that you see. Furthermore, the price is the aspect that must be analyzed last; otherwise you may end up with a tool that will cease to work from the first day. The purpose of this article is to reveal the things that you must consider when you want to buy such a device. Remember that the first step in such an acquisition starts from your house, to be more precise you need to measure the size of the lawn and the toughness of the grass.

A weed wacker is a tool with a mono-filament line that helps you cut the grass and get rid of unaesthetic plants. It is practical in every household, and most important it can help you finish the job fast and effectively. The best weed eater is the one that is adjustable not only to the landscape, but also to your height. Furthermore, it should help you trim crowded spaces or narrow alleys.

 

Qualities of the Best Weed Wacker

When it comes to purchasing the best weed eater for your yard, it is important to consider the following aspects:

  • The size of the yard and/or garden;
  • The type of the machine;
  • The type of shaft;
  • Maintenance;
  • Comfort of use;
  • Warranty.

The size of the yard and/or garden is the first thing that must be taken into consideration. If you skip this step, you may end up with a device that cannot handle the surface, thus will burn before finishing the job.  It is important to know that small lawns can be efficiently trimmed with a corded electric weed wacker. They are quiet and eco-friendly and ensure enough movement to reach every corner.

Medium yards require more movement. This means that it is not efficient to depend on the length of a cable or the position of the socket.  An optimum purchase would be a cordless weed eater powered by a battery. However, they do not represent a good choice for big yards and gardens as the battery may get empty before finishing the job. In this case, remember to browse the gas operated ones.

As it can be seen there are three major types of such machines: corded, cordless and gas powered. Corded electric weed wackers are the ones that do not require a recharge during the trimming process. They are lightweight and can be operated with ease. Before you actually purchase one make sure that you have a socket close to the garden, otherwise you will not be able to use it.

Cordless weed wackers run on batteries. They can be rechargeable or not. These devices are also very quiet and eco-friendly. The only restriction would be the battery capacity that determines how long it lasts. If you really want or need high power than gas weed wackers represent the optimum purchase. They are a bit noisier than electric ones but can handle successfully even the most difficult jobs.

The type of the shaft is another important aspect that must be taken into consideration in order to make an efficient purchase. There are three main types available: straight, curved and split. Straight shafts are long and can trim with ease any area of the yard. Tall people will definitely enjoy them most.

Curved shafts can be handled with ease and ensure an optimum balance. They are not very good at reaching complicated corners, but pretty much do what they are supposed to do. Split shafts will definitely be noticed with ease thanks to their versatile design. They allow you to remove the trimming head and add other attachments, such as leaf blowers or tree pruners.

Besides replacing the string, weed wackers may require additional maintenance. Most models mainly need to keep the head clean, and they are good to use. Besides this, it is highly advisable to make sure that the air filter is free of debris, and the bolts and nuts are positioned correctly. It does not take much time and significantly increases the life of your device.

Gas weed wackers are a bit more exigent. The spark plugs require regular maintenance and replacement from time to time. Before you store it during the winter make sure that the tank is empty. This is the only way you can avoid corrosion. Make sure you take the leftover fuel to a hazardous waste center.

Remember that you will be using this tool pretty often so it must be comfortable. In this case, the main aspect that must be taken into consideration is the weight, noise level and eventual smoke produced. However, do not make this a priority if you own a big garden as you need a more powerful tool in order to get the job done effectively.

Never buy a weed wacker before checking the warranty. Most products are covered by at least one year of free maintenance, in case they break down. There are brands that ensure free extensions if you register the weed wacker on their site. Just like in the case of comfort, do not turn the warranty issue into a priority.

Conclusion

As it can be seen, choosing the best weed wacker requires time and research. However, considering  that this is a purchase that you will use on long term it is totally worth it. Remember the order of the six qualities of such a device and you will definitely take the best decision.

5 Tips to Make Your Lawn Healthier

Regardless of the condition of your lawn, you will be better off to think ‘organic lawn.’ There has been a lot of publicity about the damage that chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides do to the environment. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough publicity about why plants, including lawns, are healthier and more disease resistant without man-made chemicals. If you have been brought up with a typical chemical lawn and garden mentality, you may think this idea preposterous. It is not. Understanding how grass actually grows may surprise you.

Even if your lawn has been doused with chemicals for years, you can convert it into an organic lawn. Some basic practices of organic lawns are still good advice for improving the health of any lawn even if you also use chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

I am a fan of organic solutions, but I also recognize that some people prefer chemically treated lawns and gardens. If you do use a chemical fertilizer or pesticide in your yard, please make sure to carefully follow the directions and avoid overuse, which can do serious harm to your lawn.

Here are some tips that will improve any lawn.

1. Water less frequently, but deeply. Most experts agree that an inch of water once a week is about right for most lawns. This will vary with climate, soil composition, and time of year. To find the best watering cycle for your lawn, distribute several cans or other containers around your lawn and water the lawn. When the containers have one inch of water, turn off the water. Note how long it took to fill the containers to the one-inch mark. Now you know how long to water. You also know which areas don’t get as much water and may need a sprinkler adjustment or change. It is time to water again when the lawn soil surface is dry to the touch. This insures that roots will grow deep. Exactly how deep the roots grow depends on the soil and type of grass.

2. Cut your grass to its recommended cutting height. Some people recommend setting your lawnmower to the highest setting, but I do not agree with this method. Different types of grasses have different cutting height requirements, so it is best to stay within the cutting range recommended for your type of grass.

3. Aerate your lawn. If you aren’t familiar with lawn aeration, it is simply poking holes in the lawn. This is done with a machine that pulls little round pieces of soil, called plugs, out of the lawn. These plugs are deposited on top of the lawn. Although unsightly, they break down and disappear in a couple of weeks. Aeration allows water, air, and nutrients into the soil and prevents soil compaction. Your lawn should be aerated about once a year.

4. Leave lawn clippings on the lawn. Your lawn needs the organic material they supply. Because the grass clippings will be pulled into the soil and decomposed by soil organisms, you will need much less fertilizer. The best kind of mower for this job is a reel or mulching lawn mower because they both leave finer clippings than regular rotary mowers. We’ll talk more about this in the lawnmower section. It is a myth that grass clippings cause thatch. However, if you already have thatch, you’ll want to collect your clippings until you have solved the problem because clippings can make it worse.

5. The best fertilizer for your lawn is an organic fertilizer with a ration of approximately N-P-K: 3-1-2 (3 % nitrogen, 1% phosphorous, and 2% potassium). Follow directions when applying any kind of fertilizer. As an alternative, organic fish emulsion or compost tea will be a healthy treat for your lawn because they both add live microforms to your soil. You can find fish emulsion at your local gardening center, but may have to purchase compost tea on the Internet or make your own. Compost tea is water that has been soaked in compost.