Friday, December 28, 2007

Year in Review

2007 was an interesting year for me.

I started 2007 in Florida and I am happy to be ending 2007 as a resident of Pennsylvania.

I found the coolest shoes on the planet. I have since retired them. Due to the ridicule of family and friends as well as some other bloggers I have gone back to plain old boring shoes.

I spent six months living with my parents. God Bless them for putting up with us.

Wyatt turned one.

Poop and Boogies was spotlighted by Time Magazine/CNN on-line with some other cool blogs (even though the writer said I was "clearly not a writer").

We bought a house. And we have been working on it non-stop.

Lauren and the kids and I have been truly blessed with the opportunity to move back to PA especially since we got to spend time with Ray before he passed away.

The year was filled with ups and downs but for the most part it was ups. I have said it before and I will say it again, I am the Luckiest.

Over the past year I have enjoyed reading the following blogs for various reasons. I know there are a ton of blogs out there that I read, mostly I lurk, and I am going to miss a few on my list.

Vitamin Sea and I loved this post.

Cat and TechnoGeekery

Klog

Bossy

Cactus

Bogart

Scarlett

A year here a year there

Nilbo

Steve

Creative-Type Dad

Oh The Joys

Susie

Happy New Year everyone. I hope that your 2008 is filled with more Ups than Downs.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hard Wear *

Here is tidbit of information if you ever want to have fun while shopping. It happened to me by accident but I laughed for a good 10 minutes that I realized it would be easy to do on a regular basis.

This is what happened to me.

I went Christmas shopping for Lauren. One of the items on my list was bras; nothing sexy or Victoria’s Secret type of undergarment, but just everyday wear type of bra. I went to the Sears because I also had to get her a house ware type of gift. I figured I would kill two birds with one stone.

The day I went, Sears was having a bra sale. There were rows and rows and bins and bins of them. I found a few that I thought she would like and took them over to the register in the Lingerie Department. I never bothered to look at the tags; I knew they were on sale. There was a pretty big line and I thought to myself I still need to pick up the salad bowl that Lauren wanted so I will just checkout and pay in that department.

I took the escalator down to the House Ware department found the bowl I needed and went to pay for my items. No one was at the register so I walked over to the Hardware department to pay. I put the items on the counter and Hank, a burley man in his mid fifties working the register, scanned the bowl. He did not notice that I placed the two bras on the counter.

“Is that it?” he asked.

“No.” I said. “These too.” And I pointed to the undergarments.

The expression on Hank’s face was priceless. He picked up the pink bra between his thumb and forefinger and held it ever so delicately as if he did not want to get cooties. He found the tag and tried to scan it. It did not scan. He looked at the tag and then at the scanner. He tried again. It did not scan. He looked for a price but did not see one. He looked to me for help.

“They are on sale. Maybe that’s the problem.” I told him.

Hank’s face turned a slight pinkish color. He picked up the phone and made a call.

“This is Hank in Hardware. I need a department code for a bra.” He whispered.

The person on the other end of the phone must not of heard him because he repeated himself. Then he had to pick up the bra and look for the make and model and tell the person on the other end of the phone. He punched a few codes into the register and hung up. You could tell he was totally uneasy about handling the bra.

He grabbed the black bra that I wanted to purchase and scanned the tag. It did not scan. He rolled his eyes as his face turned red and he had to call the lingerie department again.

I cracked up. I laughed all the way to my car.

So if you ever wanted to have fun while shopping for unmentionables, go to Sears, make the tag un-scan-able and take it to the hardware department.



* yes, I know the title of this post is a total double entendre and I know that my brother Kevin would comment on it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Eulogy for Ray

Lauren's father passed away last week on December 17th. His funeral was Friday December 21st.

I was honored to give the eulogy, which is what follows.

Whenever I needed to describe my father-in-law. I always used the word simple.

The word simple , when describing someone, always carries a bad connotation. Most people do not want to be considered simple. They want to be complicated. They want to be considered a person of depth and knowledge and of complex thoughts.

Ray was not complicated. Ray was simple. He was simple in his devotion to his wife and children. He was simple in his pleasures and joys. He was simple in his faith.

He led his life according to the simplest of rules. The Golden Rule. There are people in this world of great depth and complex thoughts who cannot, no matter how hard they try, understand the Golden Rule.

The Golden rule. Treat others, as you would want to be treated. Ray lived that way.

Simple to do? I don’t think so.

Ray only loved one woman in his entire life, they got married and had children. Simple.

Ray worked hard for most of his life, two or three jobs at a time, just to provide for his family. From what I could tell he never really wanted anything for himself. He found satisfaction in his work. But he worked to provide for his family. Simple. Even after his daughters were grown and able to provide for themselves he continued to support them in other ways. Changing oil on their cars, helping them with home projects or just offering moral support. Simple.

He found pleasure in spending time with his grandkids, fishing, building birdhouses, gardening and yard work.

This past summer, when he started his Chemo I offered to help and mow his yard. He refused. He enjoyed working on the yard and found satisfaction in doing the job. After a few weeks of me offering, he finally conceded.

He took the time to explain to me how his old rider mower worked. He tinkered with it for so many years that the mower had its own little quirks and he explained that he wanted me to be safe. He made sure I knew every nuance of the machine. He then got on the mower to show me how it worked. How it bucked in 2nd gear, how the blade mechanism could get stuck and how to maneuver around the obstacles in the yard. He showed me for so long that by the time he was done teaching me, he mowed the back yard himself.

He told me was concerned for my safety.

Who am I kidding I sure he was worried I would break the mower.


He found joy in just talking to people. Ray always greeted every one with his big toothy smile; his eyes would disappear into slits. You knew he was genuinely happy to see you. He never offered his opinion or advice unless asked. He was a quiet man but he enjoyed listening. He just enjoyed the conversation. Simple.

I consider myself lucky because I think that Lauren inherited that smile. She said to me the other day, “I can’t believe how much I look like my father.” I looked at her and I agreed. Which means one of two things. My wife would make a very handsome man, or that Ray would have made one really attractive woman.

He was simple in his faith in God. He believed. He never forced his beliefs on other people. He never got into huge philosophical debates about the meaning of life.

I remember one time after a spirited conversation about what church can offer, he said, “I don’t need to hear other peoples opinions on this, I believe in God, I believe in Jesus and I just know I am in good hands.” Simple faith.

There were many times I heard Emily say that Ray could fall asleep anywhere. His response to her was always the same. “What can I say? I have a clean conscience.”

I truly believe that he did. He was just that good of a person. Simple.

Ray was the type of person that would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He would also tell you about where he bought it, when he bought it, what function he wore it to and that he would look for the receipt so that you could return it if you wanted to.

Ray did have some faults, which I want to cover.

He was Caring to a fault.
He was nice to a fault.
He was generous to a fault.
He was friendly to a fault.
…And he liked polka music.

I wish I had those faults. Except for the polka music.

Shame on me for pointing out his faults, because one of the most admirable qualities I see in Ray is the fact that he never, ever, pointed out anyone else’s faults. He lived his life by the Golden Rule. And I know that a lot of people sold Ray short and judged him for being Simple, but Ray Simply never judged anyone.

Anybody I have ever talked to about Ray always said the same thing,
“He was the nicest man in the world.”

It sucks that that space is now vacant.

Ray’s birthday is December 30th. In a little over a week he would have been 70. I like to think that his birthday has now changed to December 17th. The day he died. He is now celebrating a new life, in heaven.

In an effort to move to past the sadness of his death and the mourning that comes with losing him I want to be the first to say, and I can’t think of any other way to say it but to put it simply:

Happy Birthday Dad. Happy Birthday.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

He's Sharp

Maxfield started to do the "I gotta go pee" dance.

"C'mon Max. Let's get you to the bathroom."

I tired to hurry him into the downstairs powder room but he resisted. He started to run in the other direction, towards the steps.

"Max, let's go!" I called. "You don't want to pee in your pants, do you?"

He finally rushed into the powder room and peed.

He looked around the room.

"Dad?" He asked. "Is this the bathroom?"

"Yeah buddy."

"No it's not. There is no bath in here. The bathroom is upstairs because that has a bathtub."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Entertainer

video

Monday, December 17, 2007

Long Day

I sat down on the couch at the end of a very long day. I kicked off my shoes and groaned as I lifted my legs to take off my socks. There was a hint of a bad odor in the air.

I lifted the pair of socks to my nose and inhaled.

"Phewww."I said as I turned away from the smell.

Lauren, who was sitting across the room from me, looks at me and says, "Why Bill? Why? Why do you put yourself through that? Do you really think that, one time, they are'nt going to stink?"

She had a good point.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Nit Wit

A local radio host was holding a book signing at the Barnes and Noble on Wednesday night. I am a fan of his show and I know some people that are fans of his show so I went to the signing to get some gifts.

The store was mobbed, not only with people wanting to meet the radio show host but also with the normal Christmas shoppers. I bought a couple copies of the book and registered with the signing people. They handed me a green colored card marked “B” and told me they would be calling out people in the specific groups. I was Green B. After some conversation I realized I would be in the second group of 100 people to get the book signed.

I walked around the store a bit and then found my way towards the end of the line. The Green B people already were forming a line although they were not announced over the loudspeaker. There was about 30 or so people in the Green B line. The store was hot, and I could tell that the people waiting were getting antsy. I mulled around the front of the line when a woman at the front of the line turned towards me and sneered.

“THIS is the FRONT of the line.” She pointed a bony finger towards the end of the line and said. “The end of the line is down there.”

I guess she thought I was trying to cut in.

I laughed at her attitude and I said. “I bet I could convince at least 12 people at that end that they are the FRONT of the line. Then where would you be?”

I smiled and walked toward the end of Green B Line. More people gathered and the line snaked in and out of the various sections and shelves of books. The longer we stood in the line the more aggravated the people around me became. I started joking with the people in front of me and behind me. I refused to be aggravated. The more I joked the more people started to listen to me.

An angry man approached the line and started to argue with a Barnes and Noble employee about how long he was going to have to wait to get his book signed. He scowled and walked towards where I was standing.

“Is this the line?” He growled at us as he threw his arms up in disbelief.

I looked around at the signs marking the section of books we were standing in front of and said in my most sincere said, “No Sir. We are all just interested in Philosophy, Gay and Lesbian Studies and Astrology.”

The people around me cracked up. I now had an audience and that is one of the worst things someone like me could have. I continued to joke about various things and our section of the line started chatting back and forth.

The line started moving and we snaked in an out of different rows of books. We were standing in front of True Crime section when a customer, who was not there for the signing, walked up and he asked to look at the books behind us. He was clearly agitated at the fact that his shopping was interrupted by the mass of people there. He kind of shoved his way past me.

Again, I refused to get annoyed and I asked him, “ Are you looking for your biography?”

The man in front of me in line spit out his coffee. The two ladies behind me cackled. The man looking for the book chuckled and he left. The guy who spit out his coffee turned to me and said, “How do you do it? You actually SAY what I was thinking.”

I explained how sometimes I do not have a filter from my brain to my mouth. I started to get cocky and started to tell my “audience” what I was going to say to the radio host when I met him. I had a funny story to tell him and I knew I would wow him and he would have to mention me on the radio. All the people laughed and told me I should tell the host. I was in a great mood and I was on fire with my quick wit.

I was about 5 people away from the host, and I was joking with the staff of the radio show and the Barnes and Noble employees. I felt great. I was on fire. The people in front of me got their books signed and waited around to see the host’s reaction to my story and my humor.

I handed him my book and I ….

And I….

And I….

And I…

Froze.

I mumbled something about how I liked his show, shook his hand and I left.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Shopping and learning

Maxfield is pretty interested in letters. He asks, all the time, what words spell. He also likes to state each letter in the various signs and packaging he comes across throughout the day.

Last night I took Maxfield out so we could Christmas shop for Lauren. As we approached the store he said, "O.T. A. R.G.E.T. What's that spell dad?"

"That spells Otarget. But that is not an O. That is a symbol."

"A cymbal?"

"Yeah."

"What's a cymbal? Like a drum?"

"Uh. no. A symbol is like a sign. And yes a cymbal is like part of drums."

I do my best to teach my kid as the situations present themselves. But it was cold and I could not figure out what the best way to describe what a symbol is or means. And I have tried to discuss Homonyms with him in the past and he and I both got confused. It was like the time I tried to explain what the word "opposite" means. Seriously, try explaining the word "opposite" without using the word "opposite". It is tough.

So the opportunity to educate Max ended there.

We entered the store and walked towards the women's clothing department.

"W.O.M.E.N.S." Max said reading the sign hanging from the ceiling. "What's that spell?"

"Women's."

"Womens?" He questioned.

"It's like girls. The sign means that the clothes in this section are for girls."

"Mommy is a girl." He said knowing why we were at the store.

I explained to Max, on the way, that he got to pick out the clothes for mommy. I knew what style of outfit to look for, but Max was going to pick the actual color. I figure if the gift is from him, he should pick it out. Plus, if Lauren does not like it, I can always blame the kid.

I pointed to clothing rack and said, "Okay Max. Pick one for mommy."

He took his job very seriously. He studied the various colors. He walked around the circular rack. Then he noticed the letters on the hangers.

"Hey Dad." he said. "That has an M on it. M is for Max."

"That's right."

"This one has and L on it. Ooh dad. This one has an X and an L on it. X is in Max."

"Okay. Well lets pick one Maxfield. Pick a color that you think mommy will like." I said trying to redirect his focus on the task.

"Okay." Max said. "Let's get this one with lot's of X's on it. X.X.L."

"No Max. Let's stick to the M's."

"But I want to get the one with lots of Xs."

It was time for another lesson. And I thought discussing Homonyms was tough.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Channeling My Holiday Michael Scott

I have written here before about my love of the show The Office. It is still my favorite show(although 30 Rock is creeping into the top spot) and the episode, which aired a few weeks ago, called "The Deposition" is already a classic as far as I am concerned.

The main character, Michael Scott, is known for saying the phrase "That's what she said." anytime that someone says something that could be used as a double entendre.

I have started a seasonal part time job selling Christmas trees on the weekends. I help the customers with their trees, picking them out, cutting branches, giving the trunk a fresh cut and then tying the tree to the roof of their cars. When dealing with the customers I have bite my tongue with all the double entendres that comes with Christmas trees. I find myself having to walk away just so I can mumble to myself "That's what she said." I can't help it. It is a sickness from watching The Office.

The following are parts of conversations I have been involved in or overheard this weekend. And, of course, all should have been followed up with ..."That's what she said."

"I like 'em big and bushy."

"I like them tall and erect."

"I'm not sure if that will work. I got soooo many balls."

"Can you tap that in the bottom."

"I like a nice tight bottom."

"I want the biggest one you got, that will fit in the back."

"If this will last for three weeks, I will be thrilled."

"I just hope I can get it up in the house."

Friday, December 07, 2007

Wyatt's First Snow

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Going Out

Friday night I went out. Like I do most Friday Nights. It is time I get for myself. No Lauren. No kids. Just me. I go out after the kids go to bed. Makes it easier for Lauren and I can stay out as late as I want and they are none the wiser.

I go to the usual haunt. I like it there.

This past Friday was just like the all the rest.

I pulled into the parking lot and recognized a few familiar cars. I turned off the engine and took and a deep breath. I have to switch modes if I am going to enjoy myself. The neon sign from the front of the building gave the interior of my car an eerie glow. I checked my wallet for my cards and I opened the car door. The chill from the cold winter air shot down my neck as I ran towards the entrance. I knew I would find warmth inside.

I walked in the front door and took note of the specials. I nodded to the guy in the staff shirt and I was not sure if he recognized me or not.

The lights inside were bright. That is one of the reasons I like this joint. I can see everyone in the place. The music was playing softly and although I liked what they were playing last week better, what was coming through the speakers was still not bad. It was just enough to keep my spirits high for a Friday night out.

As I made my way towards the back I noticed a couple of regulars. There was Jane and her husband annoying the guy behind the counter. Frank was back and to the left, indecisive about what he was going to get. There were a couple of other folks that seemed to nod in my direction as if they knew me. I like this place because most people that go here are my age or older. I fit in better.

I made my rounds enjoying every moment of the “freedom” I had for the night.

After an hour or two I knew it was time to go home. I walked up to Elise, who works most Friday nights to pay my tab. She looks like she has been there for years. She is older and is the type of person who has attitude, and although management frowns upon that type of behavior, most of the customers seem to enjoy her, so they let it slide.

I stand there somewhat dumbfounded as she tells me the total. I was not really paying attention because I am people watching the other patrons around me.

Elise says something else to me.

“What?” I ask.

“Do you have any coupons?” She repeats.

“Oh.” I snap back to reality from my daydreaming. “Yes. And here is my Super Card.”

I load the car with my groceries and head back home happy with my Friday night out and my savings from shopping at Giant Food Stores.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Hidden Camera

video

Santa's work day pretty much started like every other work day this time of year. He entered the Willow Grove Mall through the Bloomingdale's second floor entrance and walked down towards the center of the mall. He passed the book store, the sports collectible store and waved to a few children as he headed towards the elevator. One of the kids waving back was Maxfield. Max was excited.

Santa descended the elevator and made his way to the oversized chair under the 30 foot Christmas Tree. The first few visitors to sit on his lap were all well behaved. They were quiet and shy and they were polite. Then my children took their turn.

Around 10:20 am on Saturday 12/1/07 Santa's day started to go downhill.

I am pretty sure Max kicked him in the nuts.

There was sign posted that read "please do not use you own photography equipment". So I used a hidden camera to record the video.