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The Very Happy Story of Snowball and MooMoo

This is the story Snowball and MooMoo, two very, very happy kittens. At first, they weren’t very happy at all. No, they were scared. And cold – because they were born one November morning in a forest with nobody to love them. Their mommy had left them and never returned. Poor kitties. So, they were all alone and wishing that someone would take them home and play with them.

Then something wonderful happened. A nice lady found them and took them to a building called an animal shelter, where lots of other lonely kittens were living. They made lots of new friends. And they were fed and cleaned and had a good time. But they spent most of their time in a small metal room called a cage. They did not like living in a cage one bit.

A couple weeks went by and then another wonderful thing happened. A nice man came to the shelter and offered to foster them for a few weeks until they found a permanent home. And in less time than it takes a kitty to crush a mouse’s skull, they had a new home with the nice man. He named them Snowball and MooMoo – because one was snowy white, while the other was black and white, just like a Holstein cow. The nice man was very good at coming up with lame kitty cat names.

At first, Snowball and MooMoo stayed in a small room with a tile floor and a sink. There was this big box filled with what looked like sand, only rougher. It looked kind of scary, so they made sure to always avoid it. When they had to go poop or pee, they just went in a corner or in the sink – anywhere other than that scary box with the scratchy sand.

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  • Published On Feb. 19, 2017 by TEJ
  • Signs My Daughter Loves Me

    signs-my-daughter-loves-me-cartoonIf you’re a parent like me – or even if you’re a parent who’s not like me – at some point you’ve probably asked yourself, “Why on earth did I ever have kids?” In my case, I blame my wife.

    For years, I found that same question popping into my head – roughly every four minutes – as I would endure one battle after another with my rebellious younger daughter for household supremacy. I fondly recall that satisfying period when I was in charge and my word was law. But then she turned two.

    Parenting is exhausting, with long stretches during which you wonder if your children will ever show you a glimmer of respect or affection – and by “long stretches” I mean from age two to whatever age they currently are. If you’re feeling anxious that perhaps your child doesn’t love you, despite all the hard work and sacrifices you’ve made, it’s understandable. But there is hope she’ll get through her awkward, narcissistic phase, and the day will come when she shows you her devotion. Admittedly, when I say “there is hope”, I mean in the way that there’s hope my Seattle Mariners may someday make it to the World Series, or how astronomers hope someday they may find intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

    The signs are obvious if you just know where to look. Here’s how I know my daughter loves me:

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    • Tim, you're a master at hyperbole, they can't help but love you. They show you with their gaze that melts…
      Paul Burgess
  • Published On Jan. 29, 2017 by TEJ
  • My Family’s Christmas Miracle

    christmas-miracle-tree-in-hand

    Once upon a time there was a humble family man named Tim. Tim loved the holiday season more than any other time of year – all the traditional songs, twinkling lights, frosted gingerbread cookies – but most of all, seeing the magic of Christmas in his kids’ eyes. Yes, Tim was blessed with two wonderful daughters, Rachel and Emily. He remembered so many wonderful Christmases from their youth with fondness.

    However, in recent years, as his girls grew older and more independent, Tim sensed that the holiday spirit was slipping away from their Christmas gatherings. Indeed, this might be the last year that the entire family would be together for the holiday as both girls were embarking on careers in far-away cities. So, Tim made up his mind. He was going to bring back the magic of Christmas one last time!

    The holidays were rapidly approaching. Emily arrived home first. Tim was so excited to see his younger daughter. After all, he’d not seen her in six full moons. Tim had a wonderfully festive plan for just the two of them. They would hunt down the perfect tree, a majestic tribute to Father Christmas. Then they’d decorate it with shimmering ornaments and glittering tinsel. But Emily was jet-lagged from her long flight home from China and went straight to bed – for the next two days. So much for that inspiration. Oh, Tannen-bomb, thought Tim.

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    • That tale choked me up Tim.... Real chokes of sadness and tears of emotion - glad it worked out well…
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Dec. 31, 2016 by TEJ
  • At Least I’m Not My Dad

    Discipline - dunce capIn hindsight, I probably was not quite as strict a disciplinarian with my girls when they were growing up as I should have been. Certainly nothing like how my dad disciplined me. I realize now that I let my kids get off too easy. Case in point:

    Me to my daughter Emily when she was ten: Hey, kiddo. Your room looks like a tornado just came through. Would you mind cleaning it up now, before you go out and play? I’d really appreciate it.

    EMILY: That’s so unfair. Madison’s parents never make her clean up her room so why should I have to?

    ME: Every family makes its own rules, and unfortunately for you, you’re a member of THIS family. Now, just make your bed, put away your clothes and pick up the leftover pizza, and then you can go have fun with your friends. Thanks. I love you.

    EMILY: I HATE YOU! You are so mean! You can’t make me!

    ME: I’m trying to be patient here. Don’t make me ask you again. Clean up your room now – or else!

    EMILY: Or else what? You’ll give me another timeout?

    ME: Um, actually, yes. Plus, I’ll take away your cell phone until you’ve cleaned your room.

    EMILY: No, you won’t. Because you need me to remove that virus from your computer that you got from downloading that stupid Elf Bowl game.

    ME: Shoot. Okay, help me with my computer when you have time, and I’ll let you clean your room later. But that room better be spotless before you leave for school tomorrow morning, you hear me?

    EMILY: Sure. Whatever.

    ME: Hey, listen, Em. You’ve no idea how easy I am being here. Just be grateful you didn’t have MY dad for a father…. Read More…


    • Great job Tim. I enjoy your posts very much
      Jim Birkenbuel (View from the other side of th street)
  • Published On Nov. 27, 2016 by TEJ
  • It’s Not Too Late to Prepare Your Child for the 2028 Olympics

    2028 Olympics - girl on balance beamWhile the recent Rio Olympic Games are still fresh in your mind, it’s a perfect time to start getting your own child ready for the 2028 Olympics. The final venue has not yet been decided. I hear it’s down to Buenos Aires, Budapest and Pidgeon Forge, Tennessee. (I hear you. Why on earth is Budapest on that list? Ridiculous.)

    First the bad news: If your kid is over the age of twelve, I hate to break it to you, but you waited too long. With only 12 years left until the 2028 games, there’s not nearly enough time to get your teenager up to speed.

    If you love your young child, don’t waste another day. First choose a sport. But before you get ahead of yourself and say “gymnastics”, slow down, mom. Unless you plan to starve your child so she tops out at 87 pounds and 4’ 10”, I should caution you – gymnastics gold is pretty elusive. Besides, I checked. There’s this three-year-old from China who looks unbeatable for 2028.

    Take a couple minutes (but not more than ten) to think about which sports make the most sense for your child to compete in. Then throw them all out the window, because the only events that will ever bring your future Olympian serious Benjamins from sponsorships are track, swimming, and gymnastics (which the Chinese girl has already got locked up). When was the last time you saw a badminton Olympian on a box of Wheaties? Come to think of it, when was the last time you saw a box of Wheaties?

    Once you’ve chosen your child’s Olympic specialty, it’s time to launch a rigorous training program. You’ll need a coach – someone who’s an expert in helping kids reach their full potential and crushing their spirit into dust if they make the tiniest mistake off the starting blocks. Choose your child’s coach carefully because he or she will replace you in your child’s life from this point forward. If at all possible, find a coach who bears at least a passing resemblance to you, to help remind her of the parent she once loved. Don’t worry. You’ll still be able to spend time with her every fourth Saturday and on Christmas morning until noon (after which she has to get back to her workout regimen).

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  • Published On Aug. 22, 2016 by TEJ
  • I’ve Survived Hell – Or as My Kids Call It, Disney World

    disney world - familyRemember way back when, before you had kids, how you and your spouse would go on romantic getaways to exotic destinations like Cancun or Paris or maybe Santorini? Ah, such relaxing vacations. But then you screwed up everything by deciding to start a family. Oh sure, having young kids doesn’t mean you can no longer go on vacations. It just means you can’t enjoy them.

    By the time your kids turn seven, as summer vacation season approaches, they’ll begin the longstanding family ritual: complaining that every other child in the free world has been to Disney World – twice – “except for us! It’s no fair!” This is an excellent time to invite your kids to ask the Millers down the street if they might consider adopting them, since apparently “the Millers are way more fun parents than your mom and me.” I never particularly liked the Millers. I suspect the husband may be a metrosexual. But that’s a story for another post.

    As surely as my Seattle Mariners will never win the World Series in my lifetime, it’s an equal certainty that sooner or later, you will buckle under the pressure of the relentless nagging and offer to take your kids to Disney World. And for that you have my deepest sympathy.

    A trip to Disney World is the perfect vacation – if you like standing in line for hours at a time in sweltering 96-degree heat with 97% humidity, listening to your young children whining endlessly about how long all the waits for rides are. Usually by about 1pm on Day One you’re starting to seriously regret your decision to spend thousands of dollars that could have been much better spent on a brand new red Camaro instead. If this sounds like your idea of fun, then pack your bags and head to the airport for your very own Disney adventure. Then turn around and go back home. You forgot your four-year old, Ashley. Then strap Ashley and her adorable Disney-branded Lilo and Stitch backpack into her car seat and get ready for a not-so-memorable trip to visit Mickey and his pals.

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    • Here are some alternative lyrics to the "Song that Shall Not Be Named" It's a world of…
      Ellen Webber
  • Published On Jul. 26, 2016 by TEJ
  • How to Help Your Child With Their Science Fair Project

    middle school science project - ChildIf you have kids, then by the time they reach middle school, it’s a certainty they’ll turn to their parents for help with their science fair project. In our family, they naturally turned to me because they respected my enormous wealth of scientific knowledge [after all, I’ve watched more than two episodes of Nova] – and not at all because my wife has told them “I’ve driven you to 600 soccer practices and 125 piano lessons over the past three years. It’s time your father got off the couch for once. Go ask him!”

    Helping your child with his noble science fair project can be a wonderful bonding opportunity – parent and child working together to bring a complex endeavor from inception to completion. Remember, your role is merely to coach, not to take over the project. Use this chance to teach your child a life lesson in taking responsibility. Follow this simple seven-step roadmap, and before you know it, your little wunderkind might learn a lot more than just how many planets are in our solar system (I still say the answer is nine. Pluto rocks).

    Step 1: Help your child select a project that’s achievable.

    Kids are naturally competitive. They want to impress their teachers – and their parents. So don’t be surprised if your child’s concept for a project is overly ambitious. When he decides to build a nuclear particle accelerator using bicycle parts and silly putty, you may want to counsel him to scale back his plans to something more realistic – so he might actually complete his project during your lifetime. 

    Step 2: Remind your child of your role in this project.

    Okay, so you took your kid to the movie, The Martian, and now he’s decided he’s going to build a rocket ship that can travel to Mars and back. Did you skip over Step 1 above – the part about choosing a project he can actually achieve? As you get started, remind your little rocket builder that this is his project, not yours. Insist he take the lead. Gently reassure him that you’ll be there every step of the way if he gets stuck.

    Notice how he gets stuck as soon as he hands you the instruction sheet from his teacher, at which point he may say something like, “Dad, this looks really hard.” Don’t worry. This is an excellent opportunity to teach him the lessons of patience, self-reliance, taking a project from start to completion and going without texting for more than three minutes. 

    Step 3: Encourage your child when he gets stuck. Read More…


    • Not having kids we helped by judging science fairs. What a learning experience trying not to crush budding scientists,…
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Nov. 16, 2015 by TEJ
  • I love you daddy, but not enough to give you my Snickers bar

    Halloween - me and my girlsIt was a dark and stormy Halloween night. My two young daughters, Rachel and Emmy, could not wait to get started. Earlier that week I’d spent an evening helping them come up with their costumes. Emmy could not decide between a fairy princess or Barney the dinosaur or Hello Kitty. So naturally, the only solution was Barney the Hello Kitty dinosaur princess. Whatever makes you happy, my little angel, I mean, dinosaur kitty princess.

    Rachel’s outfit was easier. She insisted on being Harry Potter wearing an invisibility cloak. So I drew a lightning bolt on her forehead, put a sliver of duct tape on a pair of my black-framed glasses and found a blanket to which I affixed a big sign that read: INVISIBILITY CLOAK.  YOU CAN’T SEE ME!

    The girls kept asking, “Daddy, when can we go trick or treating?” To which I would respond, “It’s only Wednesday. Halloween is not for another three days. Be patient.” This went on every few hours until the big day, at which point, the incessant questioning accelerated to every 5 minutes.

    Finally it was time for the main event. They looked so cute – Emmy in her princess tiara, sparkly gloves and Cinderella flowing gown, with the matching kitty ears, whiskers and a long purple dinosaur tail. Meanwhile Rachel was almost completely hidden underneath her Mighty Morphin Power Rangers invisibility blanket. Of course, once we ventured out into the 42-degree drizzling weather, it was actually hard to make out their costumes beneath their winter coats and Thomas the Tank Engine galoshes.

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    • What a nice dad! When our girls would come back from trick or treating, I had them sort through…
      Pam N
  • Published On Oct. 27, 2015 by TEJ
  • What we WISH we could say to our kids

    what we wish we could say - child with paintYears ago, I had this reckless notion that something was missing in my life which could only be filled by having kids. So we started a family – and got so much more: eight years of Raffi songs, 800 trips to sports practices (and the occasional trip to the ER), $6,000 in orthodontia bills, and a child-proofed house, every square inch of which perpetually resembled a FEMA disaster zone.

    Don’t get me wrong – I love our daughters more than anything in the world – with the possible exception of bacon. But it didn’t take long to discover that despite the significant gap between my toddlers and me in earning potential, overall intelligence, and ability not to drool on everything with which I came into contact, I simply was no match for my kids. They routinely wore me out – usually by the time they dumped a bowl of Raisin Bran on each other – a daily 7am ritual.

    As a parent of two boisterous young girls, I quickly came to two conclusions: First, the interior of the VCR makes an ideal place to hide daddy’s slice of apple pie; and second, being a parent was going to require Herculean levels of patience. Being a good parent means having the maturity to resist saying the first thing that pops into your prefrontal cortex when your eight-year-old microwaves your cell phone. You need to suppress the urge to blurt out, “Jesus Christ! What the hell were you thinking, spraying the cat with the purple paint, you little twerp?” Such an outburst could permanently damage your precious angel’s delicate self-esteem – much like my angel permanently damaged our precious leather couch with a stick figure etching of her daddy.

    Shortly after our girls acquired rudimentary speech, I learned a valuable lesson: Never use foul language in front of young children. When my eldest was barely three, I caught her wielding my $500 Titleist driver into the trunk of our cherry tree, “just like George Washington, Daddy!” While she hadn’t yet mastered conjugating a sentence, she had, to my surprise, absolutely no difficulty reciting back to mommy the entirety of my panicked outburst – verbatim: “Mommy, Daddy said, ‘Holy shit. Look what you’ve done to my club!’ What does ‘shit’ mean, Mommy?”

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    • There really were rewards for all your 20 years of restraint ... viola 2 well adjusted young women who thankfully…
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Sep. 07, 2015 by TEJ
  • “Will you take $750 for that 2013 BMW?” – Helping my teenager buy her first car

    Car purchase - Emmy with carRecently I helped our younger teenage daughter, Emmy, purchase her first car. She had no idea how much used cars cost. I think she was hoping to afford a slightly used Lexus. What she got instead was a lesson in how much cars actually cost. Emmy hates it when I mention her by name in my blog, so I will just call her Miss Enthusiasm” – “M. E.” for short.

    When we started this process, like a lot of young people, Emmy’s, I mean M. E.’s concept of buying a car was rather simplistic: You buy a Japanese luxury car on Craigslist from someone you’ve never heard of named Vinny for a few hundred dollars. Your only ongoing expense is the gasoline fill-ups required four times a year. Period, the end. More esoteric concepts like collision & liability insurance, vehicle registration, tire rotations, oil changes and other routine maintenance were vague abstractions that she had never quite grasped – mainly because she invariably tuned out my relentless attempts to explain the substantial ongoing costs of vehicle ownership. I apologize, M.E., for intruding upon your much more fascinating texting conversations with Haley on more important topics like whazzup.

    When the time finally came for her to look for a car, I told M. E. I would contribute up to $3,000 towards the cost. Anything beyond that – including insurance was her responsibility. The only part I am sure she heard was the part of about me paying $3,000 – which is really all she needed to know, because she was pretty sure that figure would be enough to get her that brand new 2015 Lexus LS she saw on TV. I explained to her that cars cost a lot more than she imagined, so she reluctantly lowered her sights towards a used car – specifically the 2013 Lexus LS – ideally with the Bose surround-sound stereo system and the chrome wheel package. I could tell I was in for an exhausting couple of days.

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    • When it came time for me to get my license, my indulgent father said, "Oh, yeah? Pay the cost of…
      Drew Fisher
  • Published On Jul. 29, 2015 by TEJ