Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dearly Departed

What a ridiculous luxury—a portable DVD player. (Pfff!) I doubted I’d ever use one since I’d vowed long before I had children that I would never use the screen as a “baby sitter.”

Never say never.

Accurian Dual Screen Portable DVD Player
(Accurian? Now there’s a name you know and trust.)

Today we gather to eulogize our beloved traveling companion, the Accurian Dual Screen Portable DVD player. The ADSPDVDP (as it will heretofore be called) was born in China, but imported to the US in a Radio Shack freight box.

For almost five years it served as a herald of familial peace. On innumerable road trips, The ADSPDVDP brought relief to irritated parents as gleeful squeals replaced monotonous complaining with just the touch of its power button.

No one can deny the tenacity of this little electronic device. It repeatedly attempted to load hopelessly gouged DVDs. It endured the excruciating heat of summer from inside a vehicle where the temperatures rival Hell. It withstood the sub-zero temperatures of the South Dakota winter which frosted its screen. It did not even succumb to the beating inflicted by the occasional flailing toddler.

However, for the last two years its function was sporadic. Each time the power was connected we held our breath until the familiar blue screen gave way to the FBI warning on every DVD. Various rubber bands, electrical tape and a band-aid from the first aid kit sustained it through its last few months. But time, heavy usage, and extreme temperatures took its toll.

Tragically, all efforts to extend its life failed.

It was preceded in death by several power cords which were slammed in the car door; its power button whose function we cleverly circumvented for several years; and its identical twin whose speakers failed upon its first usage.

It is survived by its case, a host of scratched children’s DVDs and five grieving humans who are hesitant to road-trip without it.


No obligatory blog question today. Please join me in a moment of silence.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Stroke of Genius

Some days I feel like a total imposter, faking my way through everything. Hoping my kids don’t discover that they can probably school me in a timed race of multiplication facts. Coaching courtside, praying they don’t ask me to demonstrate a lay-up. Wishing I wasn’t the only willing pitcher. And since poor pitching allows for little batting and fielding, the game is usually over before it begins.

But then there those occasional days when I feel like an absolute genius.

Today was such a day.

Our local radio station airs a daily trivia question that anyone with access to a search engine could answer correctly. Today, without the assistance of Google, we called with the correct answer and won a 2 liter bottle of Coke.

My kids think I’m a genius.

On the way to school we did a little home-school. Technically, it was probably car-school. In an attempt to stifle the nagging questions of why we don’t own all manner of motorized outdoor toys, I found myself lecturing on the concept of a home mortgage to my captive classroom. Surprisingly they listened with rapt attention. I suspect they were less interested in the 30 year pay-back and more fascinated by the fact that banks “give” people money. Unfortunately car-school ended before I got to the part about paying back with interest.

But on the upside, I sounded like a genius.

Later, during a fierce round of UNO I found myself explaining to my six-year-old why playing a wild-card on a green-card to “change” the color to green wasn’t a winning strategy. Though I thought my tidy explanation was a stroke of genius, it was without effect. He was oblivious, and we let him play his wild on green and change the color to green.

I let him feel like the genius.

As the supper hour drew near I was whipping up some soup that called for a pound of sliced mushrooms. Problem was I bought whole mushrooms. Slicing that many mushrooms would take far too long. My hungry brood was already clamoring for food and I was long past abandoning the meal plan. What was I to do?

And then, as if it was a revelation from God, I retrieved my egg slicer from the depths of the utensil drawer and sliced those mushrooms in under two minutes! Booyah!

I am a genius.

What’s your stroke of genius?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Time Saving Tidbit

My kitchen floor bears the marks of a week’s worth (uh…perhaps more) of meal preparation and consumption.

A virtual culinary mosaic of spaghetti sauce, flattened peas, scattered oats, even what appears to be a dehydrated sliced strawberry. Is that asparagus? When did we have asparagus last? 
Unfortunately a full-on floor mopping is out of the question. That kind of undertaking requires at least an hour—10 minutes of prep time to clear the floor of furniture, large non-disposable items and children; 10 minutes of shooing the children out the door, or down the stairs again, with the instruction “Do NOT walk on the wet floor!!” Then there’s the 30 minutes of sweeping and mopping, or scrubbing and scraping, depending on how long it’s been since I last undertook this chore. Finally, 10 minutes to dry.

Do the math. That’s 60 minutes until the highest traffic area of your house is once again usable. Who has that kind of time?

I know it has to be done, from time to time. But we all have personal preferences and tolerance thresholds which dictate how much time should pass between those times.

But today, I don’t have the hour. So I choose to spot-mop.

If you’re new to my avant-garde “time saving” methods, I’ll briefly explain the spot-mop method:

  1. Sweep the open areas of the floor and remove the marbles, playing cards, crayons and stray game pieces from the pile of sweepings for sorting on a different day. Discard the remaining debris.
  2. Wet a rag, sponge or even a shirt sleeve in the case of a true time-saving emergency.
  3. Step into the entry way to your kitchen and slightly cross your eyes. The most glaring and visible spots will become evident through your blurred vision.
  4. Scrape, scrub or wipe depending on the severity and age of the spot.
  5. Continue steps 2-4 until your floor appears clean through your blurred vision.

This entire process should take no more than 5 minutes.

And now you have 55 “extra” minutes in your day to spend as you please.

You’re welcome.

What will you do with your “extra” 55 minutes?