Archive for the 'Laugh' Category

A Family Motto for the New Year

The little people can be so absent-minded. In a house full of them, I am constantly amazed at how constantly things shift. It’s as if objects have legs, and wheels, and wings, and propellers. I thought it would get better with age. So far, it hasn’t.
Kids are like tornadoes. They pick up random objects, spin around a bunch of times, and spit out what they sucked up wherever they happen to touch down.
I once found a half eaten granola bar in my car’s glove box. Preservatives aren’t all bad, by the way.
“Everything has a place,” I explain to eyes that look straight through me to the next spot their owner can put something down that doesn’t belong. As soon as a child’s mind moves on to its next thought, his hand muscles atrophy and release whatever was in their grasp.
I used to say, “Wash your hands.” Now I’m forced to include, “and put the hand towel back on the rack when you’re done!” Otherwise it ends up on the floor, or in the bathtub, or tied around the cat’s neck.
So I’ve established a new household motto for the New Year. With respects to the state parks department, here it is: “Leave no trace.”
It took a while to explain to the kids how our new motto can co-exist with an old one, “Make your mark.” I’m hopeful their critical thinking skills will hold both in appropriate tension.
So far, the new motto has worked one time:
A child entered the powder room, closed the door, did his business and then exited.
The paternal park ranger then entered the powder room. He found the soap dispenser upright on the sink top, not hanging from a curtain rod.
He found all toilet paper enrolled on the spool, not spread in seventeen separate sheets across the floor. He found the hand towel hanging on a hook, not submerged in six inches of bubbles within the wash basin.
Save the odor, the child had left no trace. I was ecstatic. I just knew the maternal calls for housekeeping help would soon dissipate into the air like a fresh squeeze of Febreze!
Like a good state park police fine for littering, I know there needs to be some teeth in the new domestic policy.
Unfortunately, executing consequences has long been my parenting downfall. I would deduct from their allowances if I gave them out with any regularity. I would make them miss the big game if I didn’t want to watch it myself.
If I had gotten an allowance for every chore chart I’ve made in the last thirteen years, I could get maid service for the next thirteen.
Years ago, I downloaded a smartphone app called ChoreMonster. It keeps emailing me that my kids are behind on their chores.
Oh! Is that what this mess means? I had no idea!
Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Follow him at http://www.kwt.info.

Why we love Chik-fil-A

 

When Truett Cathy opened his Dwarf Grill restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia, in 1946, he and his brother rotated 12-hour shifts at the always open grill. Twenty-four hour diners were multiplying after World War II, and the brothers saw theirs as a way out of poverty.

The exhausting strings of twelve-hour days committed Cathy to a pillar of his future success: Closed Sundays. He needed the break.

The Sabbath-based principle hasn’t stopped Chik-fil-A from ascending to the largest grossing fast food chain in America. In fact, it has arguably helped propel it to top. The company now has about 2,000 stores in 46 states.

My family used to go to church near a Chik-fil-A. The fact that we couldn’t have it after Sunday services made us want it all the more, sort of the way not being able to enter your bank on Sunday makes you love your bank all the more. Sort of.

Scarcity only scratches the surface of why we love Chik-fil-A. There are many other reasons:

  1. Polynesian Sauce – I try not to think about the four ten-foot sugar canes that go into each serving of the glaze-like condiment. I focus instead on my expanding worldview and my affinity for intercultural accessories.
  1. Cows – Since first appearing on a Texas billboard in 1995, the restaurant’s official spokes-mammals have been encouraging us to EAT MOR CHIKIN. A creation of the Dallas advertising firm The Richards Group, the world’s most famous bovines warned of the dangers of red meat way before WHO did.
  1. Service – How can this person be this excited to ring up my order? Probably because she just snuck a waffle fry. It was probably dipped in Polynesian Sauce. Chik-fil-A’s minimally tattooed, maximally spirited staff sets a standard of friendly service rivaled only by the People People at Southwest Airlines.
  1. Innovation – The originator of the breaded chicken sandwich, Chik-fil-A keeps finding things that work. They have great lemonade. They have great soft serve vanilla ice “dream” cones. Why not put them together for a Frosted Lemonade? They did. And why not put two guys with iPads on the curb to take orders and payments faster. Last time I went, they did.
  1. Playground Purell – Ever attuned to the concerns of soccer moms, Chik-fil-A provides sanitary wipes and antiseptic lotions next to their indoor play areas. They also provide self-adhesive plastic mats to cover the tables in front of “pinchers.” Little things, big difference.
  1. Food – It’s delicious. It’s not un-nutritious. It may be deep-fried, but it’s also been immersed in instrumental worship music, the kind that fades into the Chariots of Fire theme song if you listen long enough. Plus, pickles are cucumbers and cucumbers are vegetables. Green vegetables.
  1. Spirit – Maybe they’re just located where you do your Christmas shopping, but there’s something transcendent about Chik-fil-A. Can I get an amen?

Chik-fil-A drive-thrus are always full, usually of chunky SUVs. Its dining rooms are always full, usually of chunky two-year-olds. Orders are accurate, unlike the time at another restaurant chain when I ordered the kids’ burgers “ketchup only.”

Let’s just say it brought new meaning to the phrase, “Where’s the beef?”

Eat mor chikin.

 

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

 

Wounded Warrior Saves a Game

The last time the three of us went ninety miles per hour en route to a hospital, his mom was the one in pain. This time, our ten-year-old son was in pain.

Fifteen minutes prior, his tackle football team, the Warriors, faced its fifth loss in six games. That is, until this now-wounded Warrior spun down an end zone-bound opponent at the one yard line. In the process, our son landed awkwardly on his left forearm.

“Dr. Stahl, we need you!” came the call from the field. I was sitting next to Dr. Stahl in the stands, discussing football injury statistics, I’m sure.

The seriousness of a sports injury is inversely related to the amount of time before medical personnel is called. In this case, an assistant coach made the diagnosis within seconds of the fall. “We’ve got a broken arm here!”

That’s when I quit walking toward the field and began sprinting toward the parking lot, keys in hand.

By the time Dr. Stahl splinted my son’s crooked arm, a stadium maintenance crewman unlocked two fieldside gates to let a grimacing free safety lumber through to my amateur ambulance, his mom by his side.

You know you have great friends when you can leave your three uninjured children in tears along a chain link fence while you leave with their injured brother. We knew they were in good hands.

Other good hands retrieved an insurance card and a change of clothes from our house. Still more good hands would bring a condolence tray of Chik-fil-A nuggets before day’s end.

Upon doctor’s orders, we bypassed the ER in Boerne and bolted straight for the operating rooms of Methodist Children’s Hospital. Every bump seemed to jolt the dislocated bones.

“When are we going to get there?” the ballplayer cried every few miles in between groans. “Is that it?” he asked as we passed by the The Center for Athletes located on Spurs Lane. One would think, especially one still in full pads.

Once stabilized at Children’s, other questions arose during the five hour wait for surgery. “Can I have a Krispy Kreme doughnut?” No, son, I’m sorry. “How about a sip of water?” No, I’m so sorry.

All common hydration knowledge goes out the window when an anesthesiologist is around.

The wait gave us plenty of time to be thankful. For as bad as this day was, it was our first ER visit in 43 childhood years of parenting, 37 of which were boy years.

The wait also gave us time to quiz the pediatric ER nurses. It turns out their slowest times are during Spurs and Cowboys games, while their busiest times are the two hours following Spurs and Cowboys games.

Evidently, a lot of parents put off their kids’ emergency medical treatment until after the big game. Maybe I should have stayed for the final minute of the Warriors’ game.

A goal line stand and a “pick six” interception runback gave the Warriors their second win of the season, and some redemption for their first casualty.

A day later, his teammates delivered a signed game ball along with cookies and a multi-tooled pocket knife from The Alamo gift shop. “Tough Guy” was engraved on the side.

It was clearly the thought that counted. Have you ever tried opening a pocket knife with one hand?

Boat Rides Headline Stay-cation

Stay-cation. I first heard the term during the summer of 2008 when gas prices went to four dollars a gallon and I had just bought a used Chevy Suburban, mpg: 14.

The term gained strength through the recession of 2008-2009. It was perhaps more utilized in San Antonio because of our nearby tourist attractions. A stay-cation in Shreveport is still probably known as a family budget cut.

Now that gas prices have ticked down and the stock market up, the term, if not the concept, has generally been shelved. It seemed like every other Texan I called in July answered in Colorado, Wyoming or Montana.

When the better half suggested I use a few vacation days before school starts, I resurrected the stay-cation idea and priced out the usual suspects.

For a family of seven, a day at Six Flags would cost $400; a day at Sea World, $500. And that’s just for parking, discounted admission and a bucket of fried food for lunch.

Throw in a few rigged games, some stuffed or lighted souvenirs and a $25 refillable drink, and a two-day escapade gets you well into the four-figures.

A dusk fireworks display at Six Flags, however, only costs the price of a family meal on Chuy’s patio across the interstate. I prefer “innovative” over “cheap,” please.

After thinking outside the tourism box, I called Crane’s Mill Marina on Canyon Lake. They offered a pretty new 8-seat ski boat with all the accessories for about half the cost of a day at Sea World.

With positive attitudes, fishing bait and half a shelf of consumer packaged goods, we embarked. None of the above lasted long.

The positive attitudes fell in with our twelve-year-old when he got thrown hard from the tube. This, after he asked to be thrown hard from the tube.

Then, a ten-year-old covertly tossed the bait overboard. His sensitive heart couldn’t stand to watch live minnows impaled by an eight-year-old with catfishing hooks.

All along, snacks settled into stomachs like Jonah in the whale, long before the required protein and fiber were consumed. What leverage does a parent have in the middle of a lake?

As time ran out, kids were still wanting tube rides. They still wanted to fish. And somehow they wanted yet another plastic-wrapped cupcake.

We left the marina with plans to return and with our eyes set on a second stay-cation boat ride: a dinner cruise on the Riverwalk downtown.

The better half explained to the tribe that some couples would be on date nights. I explained that “facilities” meant bathrooms and that there wouldn’t be any on the river taxi. No, going off the side wouldn’t be an option.

The kids minded their manners particularly well. They stayed in their seats. They tried what was on their plates. They survived without lemonade. They even listened to the tour guide talk about things older than their dad.

Evidently, someone is listening during those broken-record family dinners at home, the ones where it feels like we’re doing it all, again, for the very first time.

Or maybe they just believed me when I said the annual dredging of the Riverwalk turns up jewelry, cell phones, patio chairs and misbehaving children. How’s that for leverage?

 

Kevin Thompson can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

 

Columnist’s Headshot Gets Refresh

For the past 8 years, a headshot photograph taken in my twenties has graced the pages of my local newspaper. I am now in my thirties, late-thirties. It’s time to update my profile.

To spin two phrases from FBI Director James Comey regarding Hillary Clinton’s email habits, the old headshot is not “grossly negligent,” but it is “extremely careless” in its handling of reality.

This is not the only time I have been misrepresented in a widely-consumed publication. An August 2015 edition of Bankers Digest showed my face next to an article about a Kevin Thompson of the Centennial Bank headquartered in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

The Arkansan Thompson had been named an emerging leader of the Arkansas Bankers Association. He sounds like an impressive young man.

My “friends” back here in Texas ridiculed me incessantly for an honest editor’s honest mistake. They obviously don’t understand the frantic nature of the 24-hour community banking news cycle. They accused me of moonlighting and wondered if everything were okay at home.

I assured them I was fine, except for the emotional pain and suffering one endures from being taken advantage of because of his good looks. I’m still considering a lawsuit.

Back to Boerne and the great headshot update of 2016. A variety of factors has compelled this pictorial refresh. For one, autograph requests at the grocery have dipped.

In fact, the only time in the last year I have been recognized in public was at my kids’ school. According to one of their friends, I showed up in art class under a paper mache project.

That was almost as embarrassing as the time a local pharmacy tech flattered me about a recent article while handing me a less-than-flattering prescription. Small-town pharmacy tech would be a fascinating job.

I have also decided to update my headshot because of my fundamental commitment to under-promise and over-deliver. There’s enough baiting and switching going on out there.

Growing up in Nashville, I once barely recognized Tim McGraw and Faith Hill at a local meat-and-three. Things just aren’t the same without the makeup and styling. It’s worse when your headshot is almost ten years old. Perception-as-reality has its limits.

I understand the tension, though. As much as stars don’t want to get old, fans don’t want their stars to fade. It’s sad enough hearing about the Oak Ridge Boys playing second-tier casinos. I don’t want to see what forty years of tryin’ to love two women will do to you.

Hence, most celebrities believe an older photo of a newer subject trumps a newer photo of an older subject.

Not this celebrity. I’m all about authenticity. Therefore, I submit to you today a new headshot…that is almost four years old.

 

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas Hill Country. Follow him at http://www.kwt.info.

 

Rules of the Roost

The better half and I had discussed getting chickens at some point in the hypothetical future. Such as when the kids were older, and the house was restored to order.

So, I was slightly surprised when a box of chicks showed up the week before Easter. Slightly more surprising: two ducklings appeared in the box of fowl.

Boerne, Texas, is actually a hotbed for the “chicken-as-pet” movement. Randall Burkey Company on Industrial Drive produces the Happy Hen Chicken Treats sold in Tractor Supply across the country.

Several friends of ours have entered the backyard chicken craze with varying results. The more rural their properties, the less success they seem to have. Evidently, it’s still the Wild West for white meat out there.

I was unaware. Unlike most men in the hill country, I have no motion-activated, Internet-accessed hunting camera in the woods.

So, hearing of hawks, foxes and coons, I planned for the worst as I planned my coop. Its walls would extend twelve inches into the earth. Its frame would consist of commercial grade pressure-treated two by fours.

And despite its name, chicken wire simply wouldn’t do. We would use half-inch steel-welded wire. I stopped just short of a reinforced concrete safe room.

As coop construction commenced, the chicks and ducklings roamed half a refrigerator box in our garage. We quickly realized ducks grow faster than chickens and that ducks have only one kind of stool: loose.

If anyone knows of a company that removes duck movement stains from a garage floor, I could use a recommendation.

After the first week or so, we began to let the youngsters get some fresh air around the yard. Of all the predators I had contemplated, “family dog” was not one of them.

But to a half-Labrador retriever, a chick is basically a ball that throws itself.

For a time, we fended off friendly fire from Hank, as well as from his partner in crime, the family cat, who seemed quite intrigued by the yellow mice that had taken up residence in the garage.

Then, having momentarily let down both our guard and the walls of the barricade the birds occupied, disaster struck.

In three days, Hank eliminated four chickens. The attacks weren’t mutilating bloodbaths. He’s too friendly for that. He basically just played them to death. He literally wrung their necks.

We buried the fallen chickens just days before they were to move into their poultry palace.

About this time, the ducks began sleeping in the yard. After a couple of weeks of safety, one fell prey to a more traditional predator. We’re not sure what it was, but it was at least kind enough to cover funeral expenses.

So, a quick recap of the fowl count: Seven chicks are now 3 chickens, including a rooster; two ducklings are now 1 duck.

Rather than the remaining duck soiling my pristine poultry palace, we released it into the wild at Cibolo Creek. There, we watched her face a predator of another type: a male eager to start a family.

Back at the coop, the young rooster has started to crow. It sounds more like a fog horn than the perky “cock-a-doodle-doo” I remember as a child. Accordingly, I have added an entry to the potential predator list: neighbor with gun.

 

Kevin Thompson can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

 

Fathers according to kids

Question: Why is Father’s Day six weeks after Mother’s Day?

Answer: Some guys were shooting the bull about a month after the first Mother’s Day when one of them said, “Hey! Wait a minute!”

Father’s Day is a convenient time to poke some fun at the men who brought us into the world and, according to Bill Cosby, could have taken us out of it.

“Dad,” read the card from my kids last year, “When God made you, he made the world a much better place…a little weirder, maybe, but much better.”

If you want the truth, you ask kids. Their frontal lobes and filters simply aren’t fully developed. Even one’s physical appearance is not off limits.

After looking at the back of my head recently, my five-year-old son said, “Dad, you have a Bob spot.” His twin sister was no less observant a few days later. “Daddy, did you know you can cut your eyebrows? They’re so big! They’re like a monster!”

Fortunately, their nine-year-old brother has more accurate awareness. When asked on a Father’s Day questionnaire why he is proud of his dad, he responded, “He has a six pack.” His share of the estate went up that day.

He was also asked, “What was your dad like as a child?” “Handsome,” he wrote. Evidently, he sees himself in me.

The Father’s Day questionnaires are particularly revealing. All my kids filled one out at church last year.

There seems to be some confusion among my children about their dad’s favorite food. The younger kids said broccoli, while the older ones said pizza.

The discrepancy may or may not highlight the difficulty I may or may not have with aligning words and actions. Do as I say, kids, not as I do!

According to the surveys, I am as big as a soldier and thirty years old. My kids love me because I make cupcakes and because I am so pleasant. In my free time, I like to go to a hotel. And if I were a cartoon character, I would be Bugs Bunny.

When asked, “What is something your Dad always says to you?” one of them responded with “This is unacceptable.”

Well, of course! My kids are never going to be a pleasant and ripped, formerly handsome soldier of a man if they eat pizza all the time! What’s up, Doc!?!

On second thought, it would have been nice if the first thing he thought of was more like, “I love you, son. I am really happy with you.” Something a little more consistent with what our Heavenly Father thinks about us.

There are certainly times to pronounce an act unacceptable. But the person of the child is and will always be profoundly acceptable. To convince children of their innate value and uniqueness, this is the great point of parenting.

A silver lining: kids live neither in the future nor in the past. Everything is present tense. Therefore, the past is not indelible. Kindness and care today can cover yesterday’s frustration and negativity.

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.


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