Sunday, June 21, 2015

Poop and Boogies

Happy Fathers Day to the parents that created Poop and Boogies.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New Hobby

I kind of have a new hobby. I make my own pickles. About 10 years ago I tried to cure fresh olives. My experiment failed.About 5 years ago I expressed interest in making my own pickles. That experiment also failed.

Last year my wife, Lauren,  remembered I had an interest in making my own pickles and she bought me some pickling spices.  I have been experimenting since the summer. Most of the results are a success.
I have tried adding various peppers, spices, and herbs and I now have a fairly decent and consistent recipe. I make about 4 to 5 jars of pickle spears at a time.

Lately, in an effort not to waste anything,  I have been taking all of the left overs; spices, pickling juice and the tips of the pickling cucumbers and making a jar or two of what I am calling "Just the Tip".
The results of "Just the Tips"  have been pretty good.

Lauren, as she said tonight, finds the name disturbing.

I need a new name. Any suggestions?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dog House

Last night we had an "issue". The "issue" was with the Xbox and playing time and "games saved" and "progress lost". At least that is what I tell myself.

The real issue was when I told my kids it was time to turn off the machine and go to bed.

My oldest and I exchanged words. Not positive words. I would like to say they were NOT negative words but anything outside NOT positive is not favorable in a 10 year old's eyes. There were gnashing of teeth,wringing of hands and rolling of eyes.  Tears and mayhem followed. The oldest is punished and privileges revoked.

It will be a long week or so for the oldest.

Tonight our one year old puppy dog had an issue. The "issue" was with the couch. The puppy dog chewed through the base of the couch causing a gaping hole and foam stuffing misplaced everywhere.  The hole will be there for many years since the couch is only 3 years old.  The dog and I exchanged looks and sounds. Why?  Because he is a dog. I would like to say they were NOT negative looks and sounds but anything outside of NOT positive is not favorable in a 1 year old dog's eye. Privileges are revoked.

It will be along week or so for the puppy dog.

I came home tonight after a few hours of meetings and sports to find the two of them, the oldest boy and the puppy dog , sleeping together on the couch. As they sleep, they are both peaceful.

The oldest son knows he is in the "Dog House" with me. The puppy dog knows he is in the "Kid's house" with me. Both of them dreaming of a way of how they can push their punishment off on the other.

As mad as I am,  I am also glad they have an ally right now.
It will be a long week or so for me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Kissing Wyatt

The first picture was posted on this blog back in 2006 when Wyatt was not even a month old. It is one of my favorite pictures. The second picture from 2012, just as he was turning six. He was cute and silly.  The latest from 2014, on the eve of his eighth birthday,  Wyatt is putting up a fight. I can't wait to recreate these pics when he is 13.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Defending Gwyneth

I have read many articles criticizing Gwyneth Paltrow's recent E-Online interview. Most of the articles with criticism towards Gwyneth Paltrow leave out the part of the interview where, and it is clearly in quotes, where she says "...I feel like I set it up in a way that makes it difficult because.." She takes some responsibility for her decisions and how it makes her feel. Also the E-Online Article is talking about how her FILM CAREER is trickier because of kids. Not how PARENTING is trickier because of her career. 

I also read the next paragraph as Miss Paltrow being  someone who thinks that the grass may be greener on the other side. She says, "I think it is different when you have an office job because it is routine..." Office jobs are routine to a certain extent. I have one. It is routine. I also have to travel with my job, and yes I hat missing out on certain activities my children may doing because of travel. But the reality is my work allows for me to be able to spend time with my kids on a more regular, dare I say, routine basis. 

Here is the other quote that no one criticizing her ever puts in their article "I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it's not like being on set." She is not saying having a regular job is not as hard. She is saying it is different. Does no one see the "of course there are challenges"? 

I am not a big fan of Gwyneth Paltrow. I think she is a decent actress. I really like her as Tony Stark's girlfriend. But I am really perplexed by the fact that there are so many bloggers out there that feel the need to attack her based on the words of another person's blog. 

Why are all the moms attacking her? Why are so few defending her for wanting to be a better parent?  Can someone explain? 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Inspiration on Mearns Rd.

I drive about 6.4 miles to and from work every day. I have a pretty good commute. Actually I have an excellent commute. 10 to 12 minutes in the morning and 20-25 minutes in the afternoon/early evening. I feel lucky to have such an awesome commute.

Recently my commute has been somewhat of a let down.

 As a person of somewhat stretched faith, I am always looking towards other people to be the beacon of hope, the "restored faith in humanity" type of people. Over and over again, as I look at the people on my journey home, I am not seeing the inspiration I once cherished.

 I see "horn honking at slow green light responders". I see frustrated drivers, due to the condition of the pothole pocked streets, throw up their arms in despair.  I witness middle fingers and silent screams from many motorists behind their windshields declaring "whatever you just did, totally made my day suck".

What I used to see, on my way home,  the one thing that transformed my ride back from work, was a determined marching band student trying to perfect her abilities at swing flags/color guard for her high school marching band.

Let me go back a little. Almost everyday, on my way home from work, for the past 4 years,  I would see a girl (once a freshman,  then a sophomore, then a junior and, I can only guess, eventually a senior) practicing her flag techniques out in her driveway along Mearns road.

Almost everyday,  on my drive home during the school year, along Mearns Road, I would see this girl practicing. I was not sure if she went to Wood or to William Tennent High School, since their colors can sometimes can  be the same, but she would be practicing her flag throws, rain or shine,  every day.

She was always a great sight to see after a bad day at work. Her determination and focus on her task always made me feel a little bit better about how my day went. As I waited in the somewhat stilted, stop and go traffic along Mearns Rd. I could watch this Freshman (then Sophomore, then Junior and I can only guess a Senior,) twirl her large flag into the air over and over and over again trying to catch it. Sometimes she would miss it coming back down, but most times, and even more as she got older, she would catch it with confidence and flair. I would watch her, from the stagnant traffic, hoping she would catch the falling flag every time. I always wondered if she knew she was entertaining the people in the cars along Mearns Road. I know the sight of her prevented many middle fingers flying.

I know she entertained me. She was also an inspiration to me. She never quit. She always had a smile on her face. She was doing, and it was quite evident, what she loved. Everyday I saw her I wanted to be able to do what I loved. Most days I got to do just that. Or at least I got to appreciate what I had because this high school kid showed me. She was focused and determined. You could see it in her face as she stood in her driveway along Mearns Road,

I have to think that the flag bearer has graduated high school. It has been about four years since I first noticed her. I hope she is at some college getting a degree in what she wants out of life.

My drive home has not been the same. It has been somewhat of a let down.  I keep looking for the flag thrower  so I can, maybe, one day, tell her how her hard work was  always a pleasant sight to see on the way home from work, along Mearns Road.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Ordinary People Change the World

I love writers. I used to write about them all the time. I really enjoy meeting them and listening them tell stories about them writing stories.  I have met EricWight creator of Frankie Pickle, blogger and cook book author Ree Drummond, young adult author and friend Eve Marie Mont, blogger and extremely funny Jenny Lawson,  the NY Times best selling author Lisa Scottoline and my favorite all time writer Brad Meltzer.
   Click Here for all of the numerous posts.

Brad Meltzer has recently released a few new books. The first, released last month, is the TV show inspired book History Decoded. The book explores unanswered questions and conspiracy theories. A very fun book to read and a good bathroom book (you know what I mean).

The second two books, which will be released on January 14th, are from Meltzer's new children's series Ordinary People Change the World. The books, geared toward kids ages 5 to 8, are illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos and tell the stories of, yep you guessed it, ordinary people who changed the world. The first two books are I AM Amelia Earhart and I AM Abraham Lincoln. 

I was lucky enough to get advanced copies to review and I have to say I love everything about these books. A few years ago Meltzer released Heroes for my Son and Heroes for My Daughter (which are two of my favorite books of all time) and the I AM books are perfect companions to the Heroes book. Meltzer, along with Eliopoulos' Bill Watterson-esque illustrations, does an excellent job making historical icons accessible and human for kids. Meltzer believes that everyone can be a hero, his I AM books illustrate that. Not only do I love these books but my kids seem to really enjoy them as well (but not in the bathroom that is what the iPad is for).

Go get these books, they are great. It looks like Brad Meltzer makes an appearance in each book. See if you can spot him.

I AM Rosa Parks  will be released in June of 2014 and I AM Albert Einstein will be released September 2014.

Thursday, August 08, 2013


I am fairly certain that my father's favorite sport was basketball. My dad, at some point, had a telephone pole with a backboard and rim attached, installed into our driveway. This was a permanent fixture, not just a "hoop". Seriously, it was a telephone pole, driven deep into our driveway.

 I can remember a few games of one-on-one with my dad where the winner got to use the car that night. My dad was a very good basketball player. His nickname was "Gunner" because he loved to shoot. I, on the other hand, was called "Grape Ape" on the court, with my long arms and clumsy behavior resulting in lots of fouls. There was no way I was ever supposed to win any of those games for the family station wagon, but for some reason, if my night was really really important I could pull off an upset.

Basketball, as a sport, is a team game. But as a game, it is an individual sport. Recently we bought a "hoop", a plastic and metal basketball set, weighted at the bottom with sand, that can go from a height of 8 feet to 10 feet and can be moved up and down the driveway on plastic wheels. I have been trying to teach my kids basketball, the "sport", but it has become more about teaching my kids basketball the "game".

We play Around the World, Make-it-Take-it, PIG and Knock-Out. At the end each day as we play one of my kids will say something like, "Dad, if I make this shot you have to take me to Dairy Queen." So far they understand the shot has to be a challenge, a trick shot, or a far away effort, and they miss on a regular basis.

Jackson, at four and half years old, has recently taken up the basketball challenge. He has yet, since January, to make a shot. He has tried at least 500 times to make a basket. Tonight I gave him a smaller ball and I lowered the net to 8 feet tall. His two older brothers coached and coached him.

Tonight, Jackson made his first basket. We celebrated. We celebrated with cheers, hugs, high fives and lots of encouragement. I was smiling from ear to ear. After that first basket Jackson would not stop "chucking it from the cheap seats". He was a Gunner. Jackson made 8 baskets tonight. After all the excitment of his first unassisted 8 baskets Jackson said to me, "Dad, you have to take me to Dairy Queen eight times."

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Rainbow Connection

 This picture taken in August 2008. Lauren was pregnant with Jackson, Wyatt was just a toddler, Max was waist high.
 This picture was taken June 2011. Jackson a toddler, Wyatt waist high, Maxfield getting big.

This picture was taken last night. No toddlers. Everyone taller than waist high.

 My pot of gold is getting bigger. Life is good.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last Day of 8

Today is the last day Maxfield will be an 8 year old boy. He is moving forward, not a little boy anymore and not yet a tween or teenager.  He is hitting that age where he is old enough to know better but still young enough to get away with it or to just not care.

This day also marks the anniversary of when my life changed forever. Prior to February 29th 2004 I was not a father. I never understood or experienced fear, frustration, anxiety, anger, helplessness or sadness like I do since that day. It overwhelms me.

But also prior to that day I also never experienced the joy, the laughter, the fun, the pride, the purpose, the drive, the gratitude, the blessings and the unconditional love like I do since that day. That too overwhelms me.

Maxfield, thank you for overwhelming me. You are old enough to know better, I will keep letting you get away with it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


One Saturday morning I needed to pick up some beer, some fire logs and some snack type items for a fire pit gathering we were having.  Where I live the best place to go to get these items is Wegmans.  The best way to describe a Wegmans (if you are not familiar with Wegmans) is that it is a Super Super Market. Wegmans is like a Super Hero of Super Markets, like the leader of the Justice League of Super Markets. The Liquor Control Board of the State of PA restricts the sale of alcohol to only certain types of stores. Wegmans is the only grocery type of store in our area that can sell wine and beer. It is that awesome.

The place is always crazy packed with people and I figured by getting there at 9am I could avoid lines. When I pulled into the parking lot I was surprised at how many cars were already there. I walked in the store, the smell of fresh breads, soups and sauces were already wafting through the air,  I was greeted by at least a half dozen employees. I asked the employee closest to me where I could find the fire logs. He had to ask the person next him and that person had to call someone on a radio. I found it odd that greeters did not know the layout of the store.

I was told the logs were at the opposite end of the store, past all the check-out lines. As I walked in that direction I realized that almost every cash register was manned by a Wegmans staff member and that there were no customers at all. I grabbed what I needed and headed in the other direction to get the beer. While walking I noticed that there were more Wegmans personnel mulling about the produce section. The place was mobbed with employees.

While paying for my beer I asked the woman at the cash register why there was so much staff on hand. She told me that the Wegman family was visiting the store so there were people from corporate as well as staff from another Wegmans to make the store seem more active (which explained why no one knew where the logs were).   She told me Danny Wegman, the CEO, and his two daughters, both VPs in the company, as well as other bigwigs were at the store for an event.

I don't know why, or what came over me, but for some reason I knew I had to go and seek these people out.

Carrying my 12 pack of beer I walked back to the produce section. There were clusters of nicely dressed men and woman,  all wearing Wegmans badges, scattered about the area. I approached one group.

"Excuse me," I interrupted the conversation. "I was told that the Wegman family is here."

A man in a dark blazer stepped forward. He pointed his finger to a large group of people gathered by the apples about 30 feet away. "You see the guy in the leather jacket? That is Danny Wegman. He is the CEO."

"What's he doing here?" I asked.

"The family makes sure they tour every store, to make sure it meets the standards."

"I want to get his autograph." I said.

The man in the blazer gave me a weird look.

"There is too many people around him." I added.

The woman next to the man in the blazer chuckled and chimed into the conversation.

"The woman standing there," she said pointing a few feet from me. "She is a Wegman. She is Danny's daughter."

"Is her last name Wegman?" I asked. "I don't want an autograph signed by Jones or Smith or something different if she is married and took her husband's last name."

"No. It is Wegman. Nicole Wegman." the woman said.

The woman then called Nicole over.

"Hi." I said shaking her hand while balancing a 12 pack of beer on my left arm. "Can I get your autograph?"

She smiled and blushed a bit. "Oh my. No one has ever asked me that before. Are you serious?"

"Yes." I said. "I love this store and I think it would be cool to have one of the Wegmans sign my receipt."

She blushed a bit more. The people around us chuckled and fawned over their boss as she asked me a few questions about why I liked the store. She genuinely seemed interested in my responses.  Someone handed her a pen. I balanced the 12 pack on my raised knee as an improvised writing surface and handed her the receipt.

"I am so excited. No one has ever asked for my autograph." She said.

She signed the receipt.

"I'm Nicole." she said. " Thank you. This is a first for me."

I shook her hand again.

"Thank you." I said. "I am Bill. You never forget your first."

I walked away.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas



Click the Year for the Previous Christmas Cards 2009, 2010 and 2011

Monday, November 26, 2012

Addiction Figures

Up until the Christmas of 1978 I played with the normal toys an 8 year old boy would at that time. I played with Matchbox cars, sticks, rocks, cap guns and I had the standard GI Joe and Action Man dolls.  But that Christmas morning of 1978 opening a Star Wars Luke Skywalker 3 1/4 inch four points of articulation with the a telescoping light saber was an event that, although I did not know it at the time, was going to change my life. Action Figures as we know them today is largely due to the success of the Star Wars movie and Kenners' license to manufacture the toys. Between 1978 and 1982 our house must have had dozens and dozens of action figures laying around.

I eventually out grew playing with the figures, my interests switching to super hero comic books. In 1984 Mattel released a set of action figures based on Marvel Comics Secret War comic books. My mom could not believe that a 14 year boy was asking for action figures for Christmas. She did not understand the overwhelming need of a comic collector to posses a plastic replica of Wolverine and Captain America. I was able to secure two of each figure, one to play with and one to keep in it's package. Collecting toys was now one of my hobbies.

Over the next decade better designs and processes allowed for more articulation of parts and better paint detail in the figures. The figures were almost like pieces of art; sculptures with a little bit of playability. Throughout the late1980s and early 1990's collecting figures became a serious business. It also became a serious addiction for me.

I spent weekends searching the shelves of toy stores looking new and possibly rare toys, variants and misprints were key to a good collection. I knew some of the employees at Toys R Us that would allow me to check new cartons for "short packed" characters which were more rare.  I would make sure that the blister pack and cardboard backing would stay in mint condition. During that time I had hundreds and hundreds of action figures laying around.  Most were kept in boxes, while other hung on the walls of my apartment.  I was single at the time (I did notice that I did not have many second dates) and had no other responsibilities. I was able to use some of the money from the sale of rare figures to put down on a car and pay for a vacation which was justifying my behavior to friends and family.

I ended up selling most of my collection in the late 1990's.  I quit cold turkey. The hobby was costing me 30 to 50 bucks a week.  What I did not sell I donated to the Children's Hospital.

I was action figure free for a while.

Once I had kids action figures started to creep their way back into my life but now they were called "guys." A Star Wars "guy " here and a Ben 10 "guy" there. Some of these "guys" were designed for little kids without much of a cool factor, while other "guys" were designed for a more sophisticated consumer without much playability. I was able to control my urges to buy every "guy" under the sun.

Last month Mattel through the group MommyParties reached out to me to see if I would be interested in hosting a Batman Power Attack party. It is like they knew I was a recovering Action Figure Addict and that I could not say no.  They agreed to send me 10 new Batman Power Attack figures as well as party favors if I would host a party for kids to try to the figures.

The stuff that MommyParties and Mattel sent me was awesome. For a brief moment I considered keeping all the figures for myself. Oooh mint condition blister packs you are such a flirt. Why does the smell of cardboard and plastic have such an effect on me?

But I was good.

My boys, Maxfield, Wyatt and Jackson invited Zach, Gianni, Josh, Cristian and Gregory over for the party. Cristian and Gregory were probably the two that were most stoked about a Batman party, being that they are the die hard super hero fans.  The kids ate chips and popcorn and drank juice while I gave them a brief history of Batman (the greatest super hero ever). The Batman Power Attack figures are bit larger and more durable than most of the action figures out there. The have just the right amount of articulation for the toys function or ability.

The figures were not too juvenile for the older 8 year old boys and not too scary for the Jackson and Gregory both just turning 4. All in all the kids seemed to have a good time.

Disclaimer-My opinions are my own. I did not receive any type of compensation for hosting the party besides the action figures and party favors. I did receive a few extra figures which I plan to donate to Toys for Tots. I did give my son Maxfield the Killer Croc figure which was the short packed figure. I cringed when he tore it from the blister pack. I also had mild heart palpitations when the dog started to chew the Robin figure that Jackson received. I ca not be held responsible for any of the boys who attended the party becoming addicted to toys nor for them not getting second dates when they are in their early 20's. I do want to thank Mommy Parties and Mattel for the opportunity and the toys. I also need to thank the boys' parents especially Tony P, Bill Z. and Lee G for letting their kids come over to play Batman.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


"Jackson put gum up his nose." Lauren said as she entered the house.

She was returning home from, what was clear to me, a frustrating trip to the store with the three boys.  I have a sixth sense for these things. I can sense, well it is not really sense but more of just know, that anytime you try to take three boys to a store it will be frustrating. I also can tell the level of frustration based on how Lauren enters the house. When the first words out of her mouth are one of the kid's names or the phrase "You will not believe what THIS one did" it usually is not a good trip.

"Did you get it out?" I asked from my reclined spot on the couch. I lowered the volume of the football game that was on the TV. My Sunday afternoon plans were to lay on the couch, eat chips, drink a couple of beers and watch football.

"No. I was driving when he did it." She said. "He says it came out and he swallowed it."

Wyatt bounded into the room. "Dad, Jackson put gum up his nose."

 "I told him not to do it." Max said as he followed Wyatt.

"I heard. What kind on gum was it?" I asked hoping to get an answer from Lauren.

"Just gum, Dad." Wyatt answered.

"What difference does it make?" Lauren asked.

"Well, if it is a Chick-let type of gum, it would be small and could really get up there. But if it is a big piece of Bubble Yum, or something I should be able to see it."

I called Jackson over, leaned him backwards over my lap, and looked up his nose. I could see a very small white blob of snotty gum jammed way up into his right nostril. I was afraid that the gum might make its way through the nasal passage and to his throat, which could cause him to choke. It looked bad and I knew we needed to get it out.

The football game, the chips, the beer and the laying on the couch would have to wait.

The gum was lodged too far up for his fingers to be able to reach it. We made many failed attempts at trying get him to blow his nose. I tried snatch it a few times with a standard pair of tweezers but between fidgeting, screams and tears I could not get the gum out.

Our neighbor, Lisa, is a nurse (I like to think of her as Jackson's personal ER consultant) Lauren called Lisa to see if she had a larger/longer pair of tweezers. Lisa  did not have larger tweezers but she came down to take a look up Jackson's nose. She agreed that the gum needed to be extracted. Lisa called Amy, who is also a nurse, to see if she had larger tweezers. Amy did not have the tweezers but she was in the area and so she stopped by to look up Jackson's nose. Everyone agreed that Jackson would need to go to the ER to have the gum removed.

The football game was already half over. After looking up Jackson's nose so many times the chips and beer lost their appeal. Laying on the couch would have to wait.

Lisa agreed to take the older boys to her house so Lauren and I could take Jack to the ER.

We got into the car and started the 20 minute drive to the hospital. I was feeling kind of annoyed at the whole situation.  Gum up the nose is not a priority in a hospital. I knew, that even on a slow day we would be waiting for a really long time. I also knew that they would probably have to strap Jackson down, a scenario I did not want to witness, so they could get gum out.

I looked into the rear view mirror at Jackson who was feeling a bit frightened at the idea of going to the hospital. He looked worn out. Lauren was upset with the whole ordeal. I started talking to both Jackson and Lauren hoping to take every ones mind off of the ER visit, besides I needed to vent a bit.

"Jack, this is why you do not put gum in your nose. We now have to take you to the hospital. Hon, you should make sure we have our insurance card. They won't hurt you Jax, but it will be scary. Are you going to put gum up you nose again? Are you? I know you didn't mean to get the gum stuck but if you don't put it there in the first place, it will never get stuck. Do we have enough money in the checking account for the co-pay? I think the co-pay is a 100 bucks. Jackson, one small piece of gum is going to cost me at least a hundred dollars. Do you know how many trains a hundred dollars could buy? I can't believe a stupid piece of gum is going to cost us 100 bucks. That's a lot of trains. You know Jax, if you could get that gum out of your nose before we get to the hospital I would give you money to a buy a train. I won't give him a a hundred dollars but I would sure as hell buy him a train. We could go right to the toy store right now if that gum comes out."

"A Thomas train?" Jackson asked. He suddenly perked up.

"What ever train you want pal."

What happened in the back seat is kind of hard to describe. There was grunting, snorting, hocking, huffing, puffing, sniffing, slurping, blowing and all kinds of other noises. Lauren and I could not believe he was working so hard at getting the gum out.  I pulled the car over so Lauren could get in the back seat to help him. She held his unobstructed nostril as Jack blew. Within a minute or two a long piece of snot covered chewing gum was dangling from his nose. Lauren, with only a deft move a mother could pull off, used her nails to remove the rest of the gum.

We cheered. We clapped and congratulated Jackson. Yes, we cheered for a three-year-old's ability to blow gum out of his nose.

We went directly to the toy store and bought a Thomas train as trophy for his accomplishment.