Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The English Sea

The nice folks at the Roseville, California public libraries have inexplicably asked me to host the kick-off event for their 23rd annual Youth Poetry Contest. Apparently, they consider my children’s book, My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh, to be full of children’s poetry. I just thought it was full of rhymes, but who am I to argue? After all, they are the professionals here. They are even billing me as, “local poet, Marc Schmatjen.” Who woulda’ thought, huh?

Thankfully, they were wise enough not to ask me to judge the event. I will simply be in charge of leading a large group of young children through some rhyming exercises and teaching them about the different kinds of poems. I figured that I could pull it off with a little luck and a lot of ad-libbing, so I accepted the job.

In honor of the event this Saturday, I thought I would try my hand at some poetry. We’re going off the reservation a little this week, but I don’t want you to worry. I doubt that this will be a permanent thing!

“The English Sea” – A Poem of Sorts

Here in the English Sea, it is tough to grammatically wade.
When you hear English, you see, context must be weighed.

Sounding out a word ewe herd? There may be many ways, not just one.
Four instants, there are three ways to spell too, and two ways to spell won.

Consider this:

A bird with the flu, flew up our flue,
But our brand new gnu knew what to do.

You’ll want to cry foul, but alas, my poor dear,
It’s just a wayward ailing fowl and an African deer.

The sentence is sound, it’s grammatically right,
Although its content isn’t something I’d write.

The words all disagree when eyed on the page or the pane,
But they are pronounced with true sameness. I’d call that a pain.

They have a real name: Homophones, don’t you know.
Do they make the English language neat and tidy? No, no, no!

To know your way through them, you need lots of know-how.
Are they easy and intuitive? No way, no how!

Some of them can serve to make sentences sweet.
To hold up your whole body is a feat of your feet.
And the presence of presents makes your birthday neat.

Some of them serve to make sentences insane.
If he rode down the road, you’d see him holding a rein,
But if he rowed down the road, then you’ve had too much rain.

But most of them serve to make you feel like you’re losing.
They’re right there, but they’ve left their chairs there. Is that amusing?
It is certainly not. That’s just downright confusing.

Dew knot give up yet. Try this little tail:

The heir to the throne was thrown through the air.
He gave his horse too much rein and regretted his err.
He ended up in the mud on his derriere.
But the err the heir dared was minor, he swore.
A riding faux pas in the rain, and a seat that was sore.
He knew an err in the reign could cost so much more.
It wasn’t so bad to be thrown from one’s steed,
The heir and his father, the king, both agreed.
To be thrown from the throne would be much worse, indeed.

Sea, now that wasn’t sew bad.

In order for your assistants to kindly deliver your correspondence on your stationery,
It would be of great assistance if your correspondents would kindly remain stationary.

On second thought, theirs no hope too bee had.

It doesn’t make sense, it’s hard not to err,
When many of the scents travel over the air.

My advice is two get reel good at math before you are grown,
Because this language will only make ewe moan and groan.

English has never made sense, and now you see it too,
Unlike dollars and cents, one and won don’t make to.

I really hope I’m not banned permanently from the public library system after this!

See you soon,

Copyright © 2011 Marc Schmatjen

Have kids? Have grandkids? Need a great gift?
Go to today and get your copy of My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh, Marc’s exciting new children’s book. Get ready for a wild rhyming adventure!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Tooth Fairy

It is really starting to amaze me what kids will believe. I mean, we just got through Christmas and the whole Santa Claus thing again. Here’s the story, kid: A fat man in a red suit who lives at the top of the world with a bunch of toy-making elves came to our house in a sleigh pulled by flying deer. He landed on our roof and came down our chimney while we were all sleeping and delivered Razor scooters.

Now, never mind the logistics of a round-the-world trip with six billion stops in one night. That is the easiest part of the story to swallow as far as I’m concerned. We have a concrete tile roof with no snow and a 35-degree pitch, yet my kids think someone landed a sleigh on it. Apparently, flying deer make sense to them, and the fact that our gas fireplace chimney is really just a 3-inch diameter pipe doesn’t faze them. I guess they figure if the fat man can get here with flying deer, he can fit himself, two Razor scooters and a soccer ball down a hole the size of a water glass.

I have to cut them some amount of slack regarding Santa, since it’s undoubtedly the most popular world-wide myth being perpetrated on children. It’s easier to fool them because we parents have our story straight about Saint Nick.

We are currently dealing with another benevolent, magical house-visiting stranger, but this one is weirder. Weirder than a man who lives with scooter-producing elves and flying caribou, you ask? Yes. I’m talking about the Tooth Fairy.

My six-year-old, Son Number One as he is called, has been losing his baby teeth for a while now. He recently lost number three and four, which happened to be his two front teeth, so he now looks like a really unfortunate beaver. When he lost his first tooth about a year ago, we introduced the Tooth Fairy to the boys.

Here’s how the conversation went:
“Now that you’ve lost this tooth, we need to put it in an envelope and put it under your pillow.”
“So the Tooth Fairy will come and bring you money.”
“The Tooth Fairy?”
“Yes. The Tooth Fairy comes and takes your teeth out from under your pillow and leaves you money.”
“Oh, OK.”

OK?!? What do you mean, “OK?” Don’t you have about a bazillion other questions?

Who is the Tooth Fairy? Is the Tooth Fairy a he or a she? Where does she live? How does she know where we live? How does she get in the house? How does she get into our room? How does she know which room is ours? How does she get under my pillow? Why do we leave the tooth under my pillow instead of out on the dresser? How does she even know I lost a tooth? There are three of us in this room, so how does she know which pillow? Does she just check under all the pillows? Why does this happen at night instead of at lunch or at school?

And the biggest unasked question, in my opinion…“WHY?” Why does the Tooth Fairy want my teeth? Why is she willing to pay for them? What does she do with them?

I mean, as an adult, I would immediately question her motives as well as her under-the-pillow drop spot. Santa can do his thing downstairs by the fireplace all night as far as I’m concerned, but if you’re telling me someone will be getting under my pillow while I’m sleeping on it, some serious questions are going to be asked. And if I don’t like any of the answers, the Tooth Fairy is likely to find a gun under that pillow, not an incisor.

But, a simple, “OK,” is what I got from my boys, and they woke up in the morning excited about Number One’s shiny new dollar coin. They are really gullible! That reminds me… We parents really need to get on the same page about a few things regarding this tooth-hoarding nymph.

For starters, we should all come to a consensus on amount of money given per tooth. Back in my day it was a nickel or a dime at my house, but some of the kids at school were getting quarters. I always thought that was a little weird. Why did she pay Billy more for his stupid teeth?

Nowadays, with the inflated price of health care, we’re up to a dollar per tooth with my kids, but I have heard some parents saying five dollars. Besides the fact that I have three boys and would go broke at five dollars per tooth, it just seems like too much. At those prices the kids might start getting suspicious and asking more questions, and I think we can all agree, nobody wants that. Also, if the price gets too high, we’ll have kids in the garage pulling out each other’s teeth with dad’s needle-nose pliers, trying to score enough cash for a new Nintendo. Not good.

We also need to agree on what she does with the teeth. We should get our story straight for the kids, but mostly we should all figure out what to actually do with the teeth. My wife and I are currently saving them in an envelope, but neither one of us can figure out who’s idea that was, or why we’re doing it. What are we saving them for?

Come to think of it, I’m out four bucks so far, and all I have to show for it is four used teeth that I don’t really want in an envelope. Maybe my boys aren’t the gullible ones in this situation.

Why ARE we keeping these? Why are we paying our children for their old teeth? Those are really the big unanswered questions here. I have four tiny teeth in my dresser drawer that I don’t want right now, and I would really like to get those questions answered before I’m down sixty bucks, holding sixty baby teeth, and wondering, “What now?”

Let’s all get together and discuss. I can meet on Thursday evenings.

See you soon,

Copyright © 2011 Marc Schmatjen

Have kids? Have grandkids? Need a great gift?
Go to today and get your copy of My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh, Marc’s exciting new children’s book. Get ready for a wild rhyming adventure!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Have a Dream - A Father's Version - Part 2

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. It is a Father’s Dream.

I have a dream that one day the people at Lego will take pity on my bare feet and finally round the sharp corners on their little plastic blocks.

I have a dream that one day my sons will pee in the toilet, instead of peeing on and around the toilet.

I have a dream that my sons will begin to think about putting a toy back where it goes, instead of throwing it over their shoulder when they’re done with it, or when they hear, “Dinner.”

I have a dream that eventually the daytime decibel level in my house will drop below the equivalent of a rock saw being destroyed by a jackhammer on a freight train.

I have a dream that one day we will be able to get my four-year-old tired enough that he will sleep past 5:30am.

I have a dream that someday soon my sons will be able to get out of bed, no matter what the hour, and go poop or get a drink of water without having to tell me about it.

I have a dream that I will change my last diaper on my child before I am old enough to need them myself.

I have a dream that the people who predict college tuition levels to rise 250% over the next 15-20 years have actually been smoking crack, and college is really getting cheaper.

I have a dream that somewhere, out there, there is a sippy-cup manufacturer that can actually make a container for milk that doesn’t leak when turned upside-down and slammed on the table by a two-year-old.

I have a dream that someday I will walk into my office and not find that my computer login name has been changed to bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbAW#4e5c by one of my sons randomly pushing buttons.

I have a dream that one day, taking the boys with me on an errand will not automatically add 45 minutes to that errand.

I have a dream that I will never again hear the words, "Daddy, help! I fell off the toilet while I was peeing." That I will never again have to deal with the cleanup of that unfortunate incident.

I have a dream that I can someday stop having to explain to the 911 dispatcher that my son was just playing with the buttons and they do not need to respond to my cell phone’s location.

I have a dream that a pharmaceutical company somewhere will eventually produce a safe and reliable children’s tranquilizer for short-term knockouts, so that we parents may sign escrow documents, or talk to the bank teller, or read the paper in peace.

I have a dream that someday I will hear about what actually happened at school, instead of hearing, “Nothing.”

I have a dream that the next call I receive from the principal will be to congratulate me on something outstanding my son did, instead of to discuss another “incident.”

I have a dream that someday we can find a food group that all five members of the family will willingly eat, besides bacon.

I have a dream that my three boys will somehow moderate their food intake to fit my budget, and not eat the entire contents of the refrigerator in one day. My six-year-old can eat a whole chicken, so I guess… I have a dream that someday soon food will get a lot cheaper, and giant refrigerators will go on sale.

And when this happens, I will sing:

Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Because teenagers clean up after themselves, are better behaved, quieter, and eat less, right? Right!?!

See you soon,

Copyright © 2011 Marc Schmatjen

Have kids? Have grandkids? Need a great gift?
Go to today and get your copy of My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh, Marc’s exciting new children’s book. Get ready for a wild rhyming adventure!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


My wife had been after me all week to tell her what my New Year’s resolutions were, and apparently, “I don’t have any,” was not an acceptable answer, so I was forced to find some. I did some quick internet research and came up with a list of the most popular resolutions in America. Not wanting to appear like I was slacking off, I have adopted all of them. Bring it on, 2011!

Spend more time with family and friends
Since the only two things I do are work and hang out with my family and friends, the only way to accomplish this resolution was to quit my job. Done.

Go to the gym more
OK, let’s not start talking crazy. I modified this one slightly to fit my lifestyle. I resolved to drive past the gym at least twice a week. If I go the long way to 7-Eleven, I can go by the gym on my way to get my 94-oz soda. Baby steps, people!

Lose weight
I am all about this resolution. I have been keeping my eye on the new MacBook Air, and I think it’s time to pull the trigger on that bad boy. That should get rid of about five pounds compared to my old Dell.

Quit smoking
I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do this one, and frankly, I really don’t understand why I need to. I mean, what’s better than ribs? Answer… nothing. Still, I guess I could rotisserie more chickens or something like that. I’ll have to think about this one some more.

Enjoy life more
Uh… hello? Didn’t they pay attention to the first one? I just quit my job. This one is kind of redundant, don’t you think?

Quit drinking
No problem there. This one requires no action on my part. I only drink beer, and everyone knows, beer doesn’t count. It’s more of a food group than a beverage, really. They can’t possibly mean beer, can they? I mean, what would I drink while I was smoking? Or rotisserie-ing?

Get out of debt
This one may be a little tricky, since I just quit my job, but I have at least resolved to stop taking payday loans to cover my gambling losses. That should help. I will, instead, borrow money from friends and relatives. That should cut down on my principal and interest payments significantly.

Learn a new language
I have actually been meaning to do this for quite a while, so this resolution thing should really be the boost I need. I am going to learn to speak Number Three. I am constantly having to ask Son Number One and Son Number Two what the heck Number Three just said. Everyone in our house can understand our youngest son, except me. My wife will really appreciate it when I finally crack the code! It should also really help him when he’s trying to tell me stuff like, “My head is stuck,” or “You’re sitting on me.”

Help others
This one sounded like a lot of work, and appears to involve talking to other people, so I decided to modify it slightly. I have resolved to give my sons 30% fewer smart-ass answers to their questions. That should help them learn more actual facts, and should satisfy this category.

Stick to a budget
Budgets have never really worked out for me, and since I am unemployed now, the idea just seems silly. I mean, how can I have a budget when I don’t have a paycheck? Hello! So, I have modified this one to be “Stick to a system.” Namely, my horse picking system at the track. I figure without any future paychecks, I will need to really buckle down and get serious at the track if I’m going to feed the family.

Find my soul mate
This one required some modification. For starters, since I already have a wife, finding my soul mate might involve a messy divorce. Plus, one of the main reasons I got married in the first place was so that I could stop dating. In light of these considerations, I have decided instead to find my soul mate of beer. My beer mate, if you will. Yes, that one perfect beer that compliments everything in my new and improved life. I don’t expect the search to be easy. On the contrary, I think this quest may take a lifetime, but I’m willing to put that kind of time in for such an important resolution.

Find a better job
Again… hello? I just quit my last job. Don’t they even pay attention to their own lists? I have found a better job; namely, no job. Duh!

Be less stressed
Let’s see, here... I’m an unemployed guy on a quest to find his beer mate. This one should not be a problem.

On second thought, when I presented this list to my wife, she looked a little stressed. That sometimes has a way of coming around to bite me, so the “Be less stressed” one might be a little more difficult than I thought.

She keeps muttering something that sounds like, “You quit your what?” and her face seems a little redder than normal. Maybe she should think about quitting her job and going on a quest to find her wine mate. I’ll suggest that to her. That might get me some extra points in the “Help others” category, too.

I can’t figure out why she seems so upset. After all, this was her idea.

See you soon,

Copyright © 2011 Marc Schmatjen

Have kids? Have grandkids? Need a great gift?
Go to today and get your copy of My Giraffe Makes Me Laugh, Marc’s exciting new children’s book. Get ready for a wild rhyming adventure!