Monday, April 21, 2008

Heave (the) Ho(e)!

So, this weekend I began the long, arduous process of building a new patio. The patio won't be huge, and while deciding just what kind of patio, exactly, I'll build, one major factor in every household decision for me is: how much will this cost me?

Now, I've learned from past experience (read: mistakes) not to be too cheap, otherwise you end up with a patio that, over the winter months, allows underground beasts to rearrange your bricks, forcing you to start over, only to repeat itself the following year.

So, yeah. I'm doing this right this time. But it also means I'm forgoing the absolutely beautiful bricks in favor of the old 4" X 8" rectangular standby.

Anyhow, so far, I've started digging. And, you know, I'm not as young as I used to be...but I figured that with all the working out I've been doing, I shouldn't have a whole lot of problem with getting 6" of topsoil out of the way.

I'd be wrong.

After a little more than an hour of shoveling, I was done for the day, my back sore, and bruises forming on my heals. I had managed to dig out trench only about 2 feet wide, and 15 feet long.

So, here's where being a father can be great (perhaps even moreso than the actual act it took to become a father!). Because I have two strapping young boys who were just hopping at the idea of doing some real "manly" work and digging. I handed over my shovels and let them at it.

Remember what I said about wanting to save money? Well, this was great. Free manual labor! They weren't complaining that they weren't getting paid, so why should I? Unfortunately, that little while angel over my left shoulder (known affectionately as "the conscience") pointed out that, after two days and 2 hours of work by two of my boys, we were still only halfway done. They were tiring out, so I let them know I'd pay them $1 per hour.

I thought I was being rather generous. Until I told my wife. She informed that I was being a cheapskate. I mentioned they actually didn't mind doing it for free. So, we compromised...and I ended up paying them $2 per hour instead. (Okay. So compromise sometimes means admitting that your wife was right.)

The shoveling isn't done, yet. But it is close to done...and I have two very happy boys who have, at the time of this writing, have earned $6 each.

Tonight, hopefully we'll finish the job. Heave ho, boys. And I'll heave the hoe. Then comes the next back-breaking part of this process: laying the foundation. I wonder if they'll do this part for $.50 per hour. (Because then when my wife tells me that I'm paying them too little, I can double it to $1 per hour.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

My Daughter Beat Me Up!

In this corner, we have our first contender: a bearded, weight-lifting, treadmill-running, health-food-consuming born and raised in Michigan, racing treacherous winters and scorching summers...Ryan Bruner!

And in this corner, we have...his four-year-old daughter!

Round one. Ryan's looking fierce. Arms swinging, sweat forming on his brow. He dodges to the left, dodges to the right. Ooh! He takes one to the upper jaw. Then another in the gut. Then another and another. He manages to jab one right to his daughter's nose, but she's quick to recover and pummels him again. He's down for the count!

And that, my friends, is how things are in my house. No, it isn't a new discipline technique. And no, it isn't an attempt to toughen up our daughter. And NO, I'm not abusing anyone. (If anything, she's the one abusing me!)

No, nothing like that. Welcome to the world of Wii Sports...where you can beat up your kids (or your kids can beat up you) and have a blast doing it. Or sore arms.

Well, we did it. We bought a Wii. Well, first we searched for a Wii, but thanks in part to the coordination efforts of a friend of mine, I managed to buy the last one from a shipment of them to Wal-Mart a few weeks back. I got it all connected up, and ever since, our family nights have consisted of beating each other up, or attempting to make four strikes in a row (so far, no one has managed that one), or hitting one out of the park.

And so far, here's what I know. I'm good at bowling, and that's about it. My eight-year-old beat me at baseball. My ten-year-old beat me at tennis. My six-year-old...well, he hasn't beat me at anything yet, come to think of it. And my four-year-old? Well, she currently holds the Bruner-weight championship title. She's managed to go three rounds with her oldest brother a couple times, but usually she wins in the first round.

It is kind of funny to watch, too. Her "Mii" (which, for those who don't have a Wii, is simply a character you create on the computer to look like yourself) with braided pig-tails throwing punches at my bearded Mii with glasses.

There are, of course, down sides to the whole Wii Sports addition to our home. Such as my six-year-old deciding to take boxing outside the virtual arena and into our living room. That was nixed immediately. But in general, it has been a lot of fun to be playing together as a family. It has even taught our kids a lesson in team spirit. When my wife was getting down about failing to pick up even a spare after several frames, the boys were quick to cheer her on. It's also provided opportunities to realize that it isn't who wins that matter, but that we're having fun along the way.

Anyhow, that's our life, so far, with a Wii. My daughter beat me up. But don't worry, next time, she's going down, I tell you. Down.

Can you tell that I love her?