Thursday, December 31, 2009

Priceless

My oldest son Maxfield's Godfather discovered that there was a Maxfield Parrish exhibit at the Delaware Art Museum. He suggested that we go check it out before the exhibit closed down. I thought it was an awesome idea for Maxfield to see the art work of the man that inspired us naming him Maxfield.


I thought it was an awesome idea until I discovered that there were priceless (okay, maybe not priceless but I am sure damn expensive) original paintings at five-year-old-height. I think I must have said, to both Max and Wyatt, at least a thousand times, "Don't touch that." My nerves started fraying.

Maxfield Parrish's Circe's Palace now smells of a hint of apple juice and peanut butter and fluff sandwiches. See the blue in that painting? Sometimes it is referred to as Parrish Blue, which is where Wyatt gets his middle name. There was one painting in the museum by N.C. Wyeth (Wyatt's naming inspiration). I did not get a picture of Wyatt next to it, since it was at three-year-old-height and my nerves would not have been able to handle that.

The Delaware Art Museum hosts the permanent exhibit of Howard Pyle, one of Lauren's favorite illustrators, which was a possible choice of name for Jackson. We did not want to go with Howard and if we went with Pyle, well, think of the abuse.

I don't know if the Delaware Art Museum houses any modern art but we were able to a find a book in the educational room about Jackson Pollack. And it was perfect at One-year-old height to snap a picture. As you can see Jackson was distracted by a snack and did not feel the need to smear anything on the book.

We did have a great time and it was also fun that Mr. Miyagi (Max's Godfather) and his family came with us.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chest Thumping

I told almost everybody that I knew that I was going to make some built-in bookshelves in our living room. I told my brother Jim I was going to build book shelves to rival the ones he did in his house. I told my brother Dan I was going to craft an impressive set of shelves that would make him and his expert do-it-yourself-Mr.-fix-it attitude proud. I told my neighbor, Mr. Jones, that I was going to build a book case and that I may need to borrow his manly saw that he uses on all of his awesome projects.

I told everyone I was going to build a built-in book shelf unit. I may have even thumped my chest a few times.

I told Lauren I would have the dining room (completed around 12/16)and the living room finished with their re-dos by Christmas. The Saturday before, 6 days prior to the deadline, I was ready to start the final phase of the living room. I was going to build book shelves (thump thump thump). Lauren was going to keep the kids occupied, I was going to spend the whole weekend sawing, cutting, hammering, painting and screw gunning (thump thump).

Earlier in the week Lauren and I spent an hour hand selecting the planks of finished pine, furring strips and trim. We purchased just enough to complete the design Lauren had wanted. My first order of business was to go to Mr. Jones' and use his saw. He helped me cut the 8 foot pieces of pine to the desired height I would need for the wall sides. We talked about the project and my ideas for framing the 12 inch wide shelves. He nodded in approval and told me to come back if I needed any more precision cuts. I thanked Mr. Jones and hoisted the cut planks on my shoulder and walked back to my house (thump thump).

At home I used my table top mitre saw to cut the furring strips, used for support, down to the size of the shelves. I cut two 6 foot furring strip boards into eight inch pieces (thump thump). As I started to assemble the frame of the shelves Lauren popped her head into living room.

"What are you doing?' she asked.

"Framing the shelves."

"Why are the furring strips so small?"

"I decided to cut them like this so it will support the shelf."

"Yes. But the shelf is 12 inches wide." She pointed out.

"Yeah. So?"

"You cut the strips to 8 inches. The strip is supposed to support the entire width of the shelf. Besides we bought just enough wood to do the project the way we discussed."

"Yes, but by cutting it shorter I saved on the wood." I said with confidence, throwing some basic but semi-fake math in her face.

"Yes, but by cutting it shorter we now will have a bunch of smaller pieces for the back support, instead of one piece that goes all the way across." She said with confidence throwing real math and geometry back in my face.

"So?" Was the only response I could muster.

"So?" Lauren asked. "It will look stupid." She answered herself.

"It won't look stupid. Who is going to notice?"

"I will."

I gave her a dirty look.

Lauren changed to a softer tone. "Listen Bill, maybe I should take over this project."

"What?"

"I just know that I could do a better job." Lauren said without any inclination she was going to thump her chest.

"What?" I repeated. I was offended.

"I am going to finish this job." She said.

"Look I made a mistake. It is no big deal. I can do this."

"No. I think it would be better if I did it."

I was hurt. "Fine. They didn't cover this when I went to carpenter college. Oh that's right, I didn't go to fucking carpenter college. "

"Neither did I Bill." Lauren snapped back. "But I know how to measure and cut."

She had a point.

"Fine."

"Fine."

"Fine."

I packed up the kids and spent the rest of the day, the weekend really, taking care of them. There would be no more macho chest thumping that weekend. Before.

During.

During.

After.
It took me a couple of days to nurse my bruised ego. Now I have to tell everyone that, not I, but my wife, built the book shelves.

I love my wife. She can build killer book shelves. I am proud of her (thump thump).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Past

This is a picture from my first Christmas Eve/Christmas. This was in 1970.

Apparently my dad read to all the kids before they went to bed. Six kids, plus my parents, equals eight people in my parent's house the night before Christmas. (My brother the Lawnwhisperer in yellow far left and my brother Anonymous in green far right. )

This is picture from Christmas Eve 1971. My younger brother Pat (not seen) was two months old when this picture was taken; total number of people in the house was seven. (Brother Anonymous is the middle boy, LW is the one in blue and I am the one without pants.

Today we celebrated Christmas Eve in that very same house where these pictures were taken. There was a total of 43 people celebrating Christmas Eve in that house. 43 people comprised of children, spouses, grandchildren (and a fiance of one grandchild) and my mom.

No dad telling stories (I miss him) but it was fun. Probably not as fun as the year I did not wear pants but it was still fun.

I don't think I am going to wear pants next year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Good Tidings

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

From Jackson...

....Maxfield and Wyatt Blue...,

... the whole happy Poop and Boogies family. You better have a good holiday, because if we get home and I find out you did not have a good time you are going into time out.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Almost Done

I wrote here about re-doing our dining room before Christmas. We are 90 % there.
Before.

Same view, 90% after. That light fixture (decorated for Christmas) is the one that made me short circuit our computer monitor.

Before.



90 % after. Lauren did not like that I was putting this ugly chair in my picture. This chair has since been left out on the curb.

Lauren is in the middle of putting new seat covers on all the dining room chairs. I need to do some touch up painting and clean up. I have three days. No hurry.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Staining: A Tutorial

When trying to stain a desktop/countertop you need to make sure you have the proper materials; a brush, a bunch of rags, rubber gloves (Do you own rubber gloves? I lease with an an option to buy.) a can of stain with a cool sounding name like Brazillian Rosewood with a pretty picture on the front that matches what you want your desk to look like, and paint thinner or mineral spirits; spirit being the key word here.

Step 1:Wait for the coldest night of the year to work in your garage. Step 2: Cover the wood (heh heh) with liberal amounts of stain. Step 3: Wait 15 minutes. Step 4:Wipe off excess stain. Repeat steps 2 thru 4 for a darker look.

Clean up and go to bed.

The next morning you need to show your wife the stained boards. She will most likley say that the cool sounding color that you picked out does not look like it does on the can.

Step 5: go to Lowes and pick up a darker stain.

Using Darker stain repeat Steps 1 thru 4. But this time make sure you pick up some paint thinner for yourself. This will help battle the chill in the garage. I prefer my paint thinner of the Canadian blended or rye variety. On the rocks.


Note in the above picture the board has been already stained with a cool sounding name type of stain that was not dark enough.


Step 1: Wait for coldest night to work in garage. Step 2: Cover the board in liberal amounts of stain. Step 3: Wait fifteen to twenty minutes. Step 3(A): this is where having paint thinner for yourself comes in handy. Drink liberal amounts.
Step 4: Wipe off excess stain, only to be surprised that the board does not look that much darker than when you started. Step 4(A) This is another moment where the paint thinner comes in handy. Empty contents of glass. This is the perfect time to replenish the paint thinner and add more ice.

Repeating steps 2 thru 4 to try and get darker look. Making sure to pay particular attention to Step 3(A) and Step 4 (A). Step 1 does not need repeating because if the paint thinner has been used correctly, the temperature of the garage does not matter at this time.


After Step 4 you should notice that again the wood looks almost exactly the same as when you started. Repeat Step 4(A). Now repeat steps 2 thru 4 two more times. After the fourth try and fourth glass of thinner, look at the board and say "Fuck it, it will do."


Friday, December 18, 2009

PJs

How do you pronounce the word "pajama"?

1.Like pa-jom-a? The -jam- rhymes with bomb?

Or

2. Pa-jam-a, where the -jam- rhymes with slam?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Such a Card

Even if Lauren lets me win an argument it still counts as a victory. Right?

A few years ago I learned that my brother Anonymous loves getting Christmas cards. He critiques each card on his own system of merits, like message, layout, cuteness factor, cleverness, and other random criteria. He rates the cards every year. He shares his favorites with his extended family.

This year I wanted to make his list of the top cards. We took Maxfield, Wyatt and Jackson to the portrait studio place to have their annual photos done, they offered us six free Christmas cards. I asked if we could use the six free cards as one that we would send to my brother Anonymous and I told her my idea for the card. She told me I was a dork and that she did not want to waste the free cards on (she may have said "lame") my idea that was not funny. I insisted that Anonymous would "get" the card and that I may actually get a high rating this year.

After arguing for 10 minutes in front of the photographer Lauren finally let me have my way. Due to an error I ended up getting 12 free cards. I sent the above card to each of my siblings. None of them "got" it. Lauren was right, but it was still a victory for me. Right?

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Mother In Law's Favorite Blog

My mother-in-law reads two blogs; Poop and Boogies and The Pioneer Woman. Guess which one is her favorite. No seriously guess. Go ahead guess.

When I found out that my mother in law's favorite blogger was going to be signing her new book, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, in the Philadelphia area, I thought it would be a great idea to take my mother-in-law to meet her. I, too, am a fan of Ree Drummond and her blog and I was excited by the opportunity to meet her. I was also excited that there would be a chance that other local Philly bloggers would be there and I may also get a chance to meet them.

Sunday, the day of the book signing, was busy day in our house. Not only are we still working on begatting our living room and dining room, but I also bought our Christmas tree that morning and promised the kids that they could decorate it and decorate the house while I was gone with Mom Mom. I left a lot on Lauren's plate for the day when I left at noon to pick up my MIL.

We arrived at the book store around 1:15 which was an hour and fifteen minutes early. The number we received for our place in line was # 123. Holy cow does the Pioneer Woman have a lot of fans. I purchased our copies of the book and we found some seats where the signing would be held (this is the same place I met Brad Meltzer). I kept rubber necking the room trying to see if I recognized any other bloggers. Which I didn't.

A few minutes later Sue and Charlotte, other bloggers that I know, which Lauren refers to as my "pretend friends" (which I think means that she means that Sue and Charlotte pretend to be my friend) arrived. I have "known" Sue and Charlotte for 4 years now and I have only met them one other time. I was very happy to see them. I gave them my official Poop and Boogies business cards, I use when I meet other bloggers. We chatted and laughed while waiting for Ree Drummond to make her appearance. Charlotte and Sue are two of the nicest people. Both genuine and sincere and funny as hell. Hanging out with them felt like I was hanging out with friends I have known for 20 years.

At one point during our conversation I spotted Bossy, from Iambossy. I am a fan of her blog as well. I yelled out to her. She looked my way and continued walking. I thought maybe that she was "big timing" me, but after thinking about it, maybe I scared her. She does not know me or my blog really. I mean if I saw me calling my name from across a room I might be scared as well. A few minutes later she did come over to me, I introduced myself, she was nice.

The Pioneer Woman showed up on time and took questions from the audience. She was very funny and she seems very genuine. I like genuine. I like funny. My mother in law seemed to enjoy her as well. The book store staff started lining up people in groups of twenty for the signing. While we waited I hung out with Charlotte, Sue, my MIL, and Karen who was the woman who sat next to my MIL. (Hi Karen)

We waited. We waited some more. I kept checking the clock on my cell. It was getting later and later. I kept thinking of Lauren at home with the boys decorating the tree without me. I kept thinking of how the boys were probably beating each other up over who got to hang what ornament. I kept picturing Jackson eating pine needles and ornament hooks. I imagined the cat knocking over the tree. I pictured Lauren at her wit's end. I felt bad. Finally at 5PM, I asked my MIL how she felt about leaving without meeting PW. She was fine with it. I on the other hand was disappointed. I wanted the opportunity to tell PW how much I appreciated her work. I wanted to tell her I have been following her from the early days back in 'aught six. I wanted to tell her I was excited for her and her success. I also wanted to hand her one of my Poop and Boogies business cards. But I knew I really should get home. We decided to leave.

I gave our number in line, #123, to Sue and Charlotte (their number was like #175 or something) and told them I was leaving. It then dawned on me that maybe they could get my book signed, which they agreed to do. They also volunteered to have my MIL's book signed. Charlotte also said she would give the Pioneer Woman my business card, which made me happy. They even took a picture. Very cool.


When I got home around 6PM, I told Lauren what happened. She felt bad and asked if I felt like I wasted my time for the past 6 hours. Here I drove 45 minutes in each direction, waited around for a few hours for a chance to meet someone that truly respect and admire, only to leave without meeting her and without a book. My answer was simple.

"No. I got to hang out with Sue, Charlotte and your mom. It was fun. I hope Charlotte and Sue don't steal the books. Then I won't have a Christmas gift for your mom."


By the way, Pioneer Woman Cooks is # 2 on the NY Times Best Seller List. My guess is, next week , with the P&B bump, she will be #1.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Momma's got a new pair

Birkenstock contacted me about 5 weeks ago asking me if I would be interested in reviewing one of their shoes. Read the rest of this story here.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Snow Alien


My two favorite comic strips of all time are Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes and Bill Amend's Foxtrot (notice both creators are named Bill).

In each of the strips, at one point or another the character Calvin, or in Foxtrot, Jason have built interesting snow "men" ( another one here).

Maxfield and Wyatt have never seen these comic strips, and with no prompting from me they were both determined to build a Snow Alien with this season's first snow fall.

I take great delight in their creativity.




Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Greatest Gift Rerun

Every holiday season I am always amazed at how my parents could pull off Christmas. There were 9 kids. That’s a lot of presents for Santa to deliver.

Christmas morning was always a whirlwind in our house. The night before, my parents would arrange the gifts in piles under the tree with each of our names on our designated pile (We still, to this day, joke about who had the biggest piles of gifts, FYI- Jimmy). We would all come down the stairs at the same time, sit in front of our pile and my parents while sipping their coffee and tea watched all of us open our gifts at the same time. There were 11 of us in a small family room tripping over each other to see what Santa brought for us.

I always tried to keep my wish list reasonable after I found out that my parents were acting as Santa’s agents. I knew they had a lot of mouths to feed and they always did their best to provide us with nice Christmas gifts. But one year, the only thing I wanted cost $60.00. I was willing to fore go all other gifts if I could just have this one thing.

You see, in 1982 I was 12 and I thought I was a budding comic book artist. The only piece of equipment I would need, to be the next Jack Kirby, was a drawing table. I knew that sixty bucks was lot of money at that time. I did not have high hopes of getting the table because I also knew that I needed socks, gloves, a hat and probably a new pair of Tough Skins.

When I came down to the tree that Christmas Morning, I noticed that there were a few gift boxes with my name on them. I was a little saddened that there was no table waiting under the tree but I knew that it was a lot of money and understood that things were tight. I opened the few gifts (gloves and socks) that I received and I sat and watched everyone else open their much bigger piles. I guess I would have to wait to create the next Spiderman.

As I sat and listened to my brothers “Ooohing and Ahhing” over their gifts I heard my mother, not raising her voice or anything but just a normal tone, say “Bill.”

I turned to look at her (and I know this sounds totally cheesy, but I will never forget the smile on her face) she smiled and nodded her head towards the back wall. I followed her eyes. There it was, a giant box, leaning against the back door. I jumped up and ran over. I tried picking the box up but it was too heavy. I spun it around so I could look at the picture on the front. A drawing table.

I was ecstatic. I turned around and looked at my mom. She had a devilish grin on her face. I guess the table was not with my pile of gifts because it was so big. I also think that my mom wanted to see my reaction to actually getting the gift. With so many kids opening gifts at the same time I am sure it was difficult to see everyone. Or maybe she was just letting me sweat it out.

I never did become a great comic book artist. The only drawing I do now is MooneyAngelo stuff. I kept that table until I was 27. It is still one of my favorite gifts. Ever.


This was originally posted on 12-5-05. (thanks Sci Fi Dad for seeing the date error.)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Hip

Every time I used to go food shopping and I have to pick up powdered baby formula I would get annoyed.

The supermarket, where I shop, keeps the powdered baby formula locked up behind the customer service desk. Not only do I have to wait for someone at the customer service desk to open the display case, they also have to hand deliver the canister of formula to the register where I plan to check out. It is top notch security. So I have to do all of my shopping, first, before I can request the formula. There have been many times I have left the store without Jackson's formula because I forgot to go to the customer service desk.

One night, last week, a teen aged boy was working the register and another teenage boy was bagging when I was scanning out. I told the kid at the register I needed formula but there was no one at the customer service desk. He paged the manager and continued to scan my other items. I asked the boy why they locked up the formula. He did not know and deferred to the bagger. The bagger said that formula is stolen a lot and so they lock it up.

"People steal formula?" I asked.

"Yeah. That and pregnancy tests." said the bagger. "We don't sell the pregnancy tests here at all because they get stolen so much."

A lady got in line behind me and started unpacking her shopping cart.

"I just don't get it." I said still waiting for the manager. "Why would people steal formula? And of all the stuff that could be locked up behind the counter, formula is the only one. I mean you guys sell NyQuil and that is not locked up. That is a drug. I could see teenagers stealing that. No offense. Wait a minute...is there something in baby formula you teens today are using to make drugs. Do kids get high off of formula?"

The bagger laughed. The checker kind of looked at me weird. The lady behind me laughed.

I continued. "I can just picture a bunch of kids hanging out in the parking lot waiting for their buddy. Yo did you get the Enfamil? No wait. Kids would call it something cool like Enfy or NF. Yo did you get the Enfy? And then they would all head out to a rave."

Again the bagger laughed. The lady behind me laughed. The checker smiled. A teen aged girl, the checker in the next aisle, laughed.

"And now it makes sense to me, " I said, "why all the kids at raves suck on pacifiers. You kids do use formula to get high."

"That's pretty funny." said the bagger laughing. "But no. It's just that baby formula is expensive, so they lock it up."

"A can of formula, the one I get, is only twelve dollars and look at the size of the can. It is difficult to steal. Where would someone put that? A purse maybe. But you would have to be an expert thief to steal a can that size. Where would you put it? I think that maybe the management here is just a little crazy. You know what I mean?"

The kids nodded. I made a few more jokes about the stealing formula. I felt my posture and attitude change. I felt loose and carefree. I felt all cool and hip hanging and chatting with the teenagers as they scanned and bagged my groceries.

"You see that?" I asked pointing to the large purple container of Miralax the checker was about to scan, "That bottle costs eighteen bucks. It is not locked up. It is just sitting on a shelf. I could fit that in my pants and walk right out of here and no one would know."

"What is that?" asked the bagger.

"Yeah? What's Miralax?" asked the checker.

"It's, ummm. It is a stool softener."

The lady behind me tried to stifle her very loud laugh. The three teenagers all gave me a very weird look, not knowing how to respond.

I could feel my posture and attitude change as my face reddened. They scanned the rest of my order in silence. I was no longer cool.

Now when I go shopping to pick up baby formula I feel a little embarrassed.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Monitor

I hung a new light fixture in my dining room. Somewhere between the circuit box and my new light fixture, and my wiring job, there is something that blew out my computer's monitor.

Great googly moogly!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Daniel-san

A few months ago Lauren asked me if we could re-do the living room and re-do the dining room by Christmas. A few months ago I said, "Sure. No problem."

Since that time I have done very little to get it done. It just so happened that I had some vacation time that I needed to use before the end of the year. I took this week off to finish the two rooms and maybe spend some time with the kids doing holiday stuff.
The dining room required some wallpaper removal. Vinyl wallpaper. With the special two-ply cloth backing invented by the famous designer Ugotta Befuckingkiddingme. Basically I had to remove the wallpaper twice. First I had to take down the vinyl. I then had to spray and scrape a second layer of paper.
When Ugotta first designed her wallpaper she hired a chemist to make sure the glue used on her special wallpaper would work well. She hired Ike Antbelievethisshit who created the world's toughest glue. I had to use a razor scraper to remove the top layer of glue and then I had to use a special scrub brush to take away any residue.
The repetitive motion of the razor scraper and the scrub brush reminded me of the various "training" scenes in the Karate Kid movie. Instead of "wax on" and "paint the fence" I kept uttering to myself "Razor scrape up, scrub the wall down. Razor scrape up, scrub the wall down." Removing the glue took me the better part of a day and now my arms are like Jello.
The razor scraper and shaky hands caused all kinds of divots in the wall which begat me having to Spackle and sand the walls. What I thought was going to be a one, maybe, two day project has already put a big dent into my vacation. I hope to start painting by day three.

The good thing to come out of this home improvement is I now can defend myself against anyone who tries to punch at me three feet above my head. "Razor scrape up. Hai."

If you are looking for cool ideas for home improvement projects check out Genuine Style by Direct Buy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's not funny

video

I have been criticized for only posting positive, light hearted and funny stories of my life. Here is one that is NOT funny.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rotisserie

The following a re-run story from a couple of years ago. I tweaked it a bit.


My mom hosts, on average, about 35 people a year for Thanksgiving. Nine kids, plus spouses, plus 22 or so grand kids, it is a lot of people. Each family brings a dish of some sort but my mom does the cooking of the turkey and the stuffing.

A few years back she started to cook more than one bird for the dinner. Since the larger turkey took up all the space in her main oven she bought a medium sized rotisserie oven to cook a smaller, second turkey.

A few years ago the rotisserie oven broke. A couple of weeks prior to Thanksgiving my mom was giving the (now old) rotisserie oven a test run to make sure it was ready. Well, she found out that the mechanism that turned the fowl (or maybe it was the fetzer valve or the by-pass line, I am not sure) as not working properly. She asked my dad to take a look at it to see if he could fix it. She did not want to have to spend the money to buy a new oven. She left the oven on a table in the laundry room/back office so my dad could tinker with it.

My dad traveled a bit a with his job but he would go in and out of his office almost everyday. Every night for three weeks my mom would ask my dad if he fixed the rotisserie. Every night my dad would say he did not get around to it. My mom explained that rotisseries were expensive and if she had to, she would get a new one. My dad would then tell her that he would fix it and not to waste the time or money.

The rotisserie just sat on the table.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving my dad came home early from work and saw the rotisserie sitting on the table. With only 48 hours left until Thanksgiving he grabbed a screw driver and decided to take the oven apart. Later that evening, when my mom and dad were talking he told her that he disassembled the oven but could not see anything wrong with it. He also told her that the he was having a hard time putting the pieces back together. My mom freaked out.

The day prior, that Monday, my mom went out and bought a new rotisserie oven and threw the old one away.

My dad took apart a brand new oven.


_____________________________________

My favorite Thanksgiving post is up over at What was I Thinking.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas Debate

There is an argument about to happen in my house. It is the type of argument that could put a serious strain on the harmony of the household. This disagreement can carry and produce as much venom and animosity as any political topic; such as the right to bear arms or separation of church and state. You wanna see a house divided? Health Care Bill, meh, nothing compared to what is going to happen this weekend.

This weekend is the weekend where we typically hang our Christmas Lights. We have the argument every year. One of us likes the house to be decorated in only white lights. One of us prefers the house to be lit in the multi colored twinkle lights.

What do you prefer?


Also, I was given a copy of the new Curious George A Very Monkey Christmas to review. The show's broadcast premiere is on November 25th on PBS Kids (check local listings). I sat down with Maxfield and Wyatt to watch it and, well, it is a Curious George Christmas special. It is cute. Wyatt, who is three, liked it better than Max who is five. They both only asked to watch it one more time, which as far as movies or television shows go is only like a 2 out of 4 stars.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Patio

Lauren and I were married in the summer of 2002. We bought our first house that fall. The house was a fixer-upper (which when said has the same syllables and cadence as mother-f@%ker). Our first anniversary we decided that instead of doing something/getting gifts, we would build a brick paver-patio off the back of our house. We figured we would get years of use out of a patio, grilling and hosting parties and having fun that it would be worth giving up any type of vacation/anniversary gift. To keep costs down we decided we would do the work ourselves.

The weekend before our anniversary/vacation my friend Bob helped me dig out the 17 by 10 foot area that would become our back patio. I am not a rocket surgeon and Bob (although very smart) is not a brain scientist. It took us the better part of the weekend to figure out how to level the ground that was on a 20 degree pitch.

That Monday, July 14th, was the start of my vacation. I had a few palettes of brick pavers, a few yards of sand and five cubic yards of modified stone (gravel) delivered to my house. All three components of the patio sat on a driveway which I shared with our neighbor. I was determined to have the driveway cleared that day so my neighbors could park their car. Monday July 14th I set out at 8:30 am to clear the driveway. Anyone who has done a paver patio knows that you need to fill the area with modified stone, tamp it down, add sand and then put the bricks into place. Let me tell you, moving five cubic yards of stone, by shovel and wheel barrow, is an incredibly difficult physical feat for a person who is not used to doing that kind of labor.

By 1PM, that Monday afternoon Lauren found me, whimpering, curled up in a semi-fetal position against the garage. She asked me what was wrong and if she could help. A week before we had just found out she was pregnant and I did not want her to exert herself, so of course I said no. She did help with building the patio but all the heavy lifting was done by me. My bones and muscles ached. I was covered in sweat and dirt. My hands were covered in blisters. The mini mountain of five cubic yards of modified stone, that I spent 5 hours moving, still looked like four and half cubic yards on my driveway. I was dehydrated and tired. I felt defeated and I may have started to cry. Lauren said she would get me a sandwich and beer.

When I finished my lunch I set out to finish the project. By that Friday the 18th of July I was done. It was the single most difficult home improvement task I have ever tried. I promised myself I would never do a paver project again. We only got to enjoy the patio for one full summer because the very next year we moved to Florida. I never got a chance to fully appreciate the hard labor, sweat and tears that were put into that project.

A few years, and two houses, later we moved into our current home that needed some serious work on the back patio. The screened-in porch was all rotted and falling apart. The posts that supported the roof were water damaged and rotting. From a safety standpoint we needed to fix it. The concrete slab was uneven and cracked from years of settling. It seemed kind of silly to build a new patio just as we go into winter but it needed to get done before the ground froze. Lauren and I weighed all of the possibilities of doing it ourselves. I started to have flashbacks to the last time we worked on a patio. Tears may have formed in the corner of my eyes and I may have started to involuntarily twitch. I remembered my promise to myself.

Long story short, we hired my brother's neighbor Mike. It took Mike about a week to do the whole thing. He knocked out the old porch, replaced the support posts and did a paver patio. Mike did an excellent job. If you live in the Philly suburbs and are looking to get a patio done, email me and I will get you his number.

The best part of Mike's work is that he did not cry once.

Neither did I.









Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Believe

I took Maxfield and Wyatt with me to the art center so I could attend a theater group meeting. Both kids were, for the most part, well behaved. They enjoyed the time running around the stage and seating area while I participated in discussions about budgets and marketing.

One of the galleries across the hall was hosting some type of event which piqued Wyatt's curiosity.

"Daaaad?" Wyatt whispered. "Can I go over there?"

"Noooo." I whispered back mimicking his tone and cadence.

"Whyyyyy?" he whispered louder.

"Becauuuuse." I said.

"Buuut I waannt tooo."

I could tell Wyatt may put up a loud argument in the middle of the meeting so I lied to him.

"They are having a class in there teaching kids how to eat broccoli. Are you sure you want to go?" I asked him.

He changed his mind pretty quick. I smiled, three-year-olds will believe the possibility of anything.

Two minutes later I could see the mental light bulb go off in his head. Eyes wide and smirk on his face, he ran over to me.

"Daaad?" he said in a whisper.

"Whaaat?" I mimicked back.

"Do they have a pizza eating class here?"

I laughed out loud. Three-year-olds will believe the possibility of anything.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dinosaur Poop

video

video

A few weeks ago we went to the Academy of Natural Sciences . Sometimes a blog post does not need anything written.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Trouble

“Dad?” I called tentatively from the other side of the living room.

“Yes.” He replied from the corner of the couch, behind the newspaper he was reading.

Uhmm. I need to, uhh, ask you something.”

With a quick flip of his wrist, my dad folded one corner of the paper towards himself revealing his face to me. The other half of the paper, closest to the lamp on the end table, still up in the air caused a shadow to fall on his face. I couldn't tell if he was annoyed or concerned.

“I uhh. I need you to. What I am trying.” I muttered trying to find the right way to ask.

“Spit it out Mumbles.” He called me mumbles whenever I, well, mumbled my words.

“IneedyoutocometoschoolnextweekandmeetwithMr.DeLorenzotheassistantprincipalsoIcangetoutofasuspension.” I blurted.

My dad lowered the other half of the paper and asked for an explanation. I was his 6th kid. It wasn't the first time he was asked to stop by for a conference and it certainly wasn’t going to be the last. I explained the situation and my dad rolled his eyes. I could not tell if he was rolling them at me or rolling them about the whys and the whos.

The following week I was called out of one of my early classes and told to go the assistant principal’s office. As I passed the giant school mascot statue in the main hall I could see my father through the plate glass window that separated the offices from the hallways. I was overcome with a sense of dread. Up until that point I had never, ever, been in trouble in school. I was a good student. I don’t mean that I was getting As and Bs, I mean that I was a good kid. Most teachers liked me. I participated in extracurricular activities. I was on the student government. I was a good kid.

I followed my dad down to Mr. De Lorenzo’s office. Mr. De Lorenzo was on the phone. He waived us in and gestured for us to sit down in the chairs across from his desk. A few minutes later he hung up the phone.

“Thanks for coming in today.” Mr. De Lorenzo said smiling like a cat that ate a canary. “Did your son tell you why I asked you to come in?”

“Yes.” My dad replied. He then went on to repeat the story I had told him. “Apparently my son was working on planning the sophomore class trip, a ski trip to Jack Frost Mountain. He and the other officers collected money from all the students that were interested, made arrangements for the buses, planned the whole trip. You, Mr. De Lorenzo, as the class council supervisor, were supposed to send a deposit check to the ski resort in order to book the place. You never mailed the check. Two weeks before the trip the ski resort called and canceled because they were overbooked. My son was frustrated and apparently made a disrespectful remark about you, which you overheard.”

“Actually, your son, called me an idiot.” The assistant principal clarified.

“I know what he said.” My dad responded. “What is the punishment for a student calling a teacher or yourself a name like that?”

“Well, according to the disciplinary code, they would receive one day of an In-School Suspension.” Mr. De Lorenzo said with a smug look on his face.

“Then that should be the punishment Bill gets.” My dad stood, turned towards the door.

“I didn't call you an idiot.” I argued before my dad could leave. “I told another member of the class council that I thought you were an idiot for not mailing the check. You just happened to over hear me say it. I was not being disrespectful directly towards you. I was just giving my opinion.”

“Bill.” My dad interrupted. “You heard the man. In-School Suspension for one day is the punishment. Do I need to sign something Mr. De Lorenzo?”

“No, but you don’t have anything to say about what your son did? What he said?”

“No.” my dad answered.

“But the reason I asked you to come down here was because I don’t have to give him the suspension, I can reduce the punishment to just a detention. I just wanted to ask you your opinion on the matter.” Mr. De Lorenzo sat back in his chair and placed his hands behind his head. He leaned way back in the chair as if he wanted to watch my dad ask him for forgiveness and a lesser punishment for me.

“If what Bill said requires an In-School Suspension, then suspend him.”

Mr. De Lorenzo sat up in his chair. “So you agree that what Bill said was wrong?”

"You asked that I come down here so you could hand-out his punishment. I am missing doing my job so you can do yours." My dad looked at me he then looked at the assistant principal. “My son is entitled to his opinion. If voicing his opinion gets him trouble, so be it. He has to learn.”

Mr. De Lorenzo’s face went red. “But you don’t’ think he was wrong?”

“I just told you he will serve the suspension." My dad said and locked eyes with Mr. De Lorenzo. "You have here a boy who is on the class council trying to do right by his class and school. He doesn't have to do that. He also participates in student council, football, and other extra curricular activities. He got frustrated with you because you were supposed to do your job and you didn't. You want to suspend him, and possibly chase him away from giving back to the school because of ego. Your ego. I am not defending Bill right now just because he is my son, I would defend any kid in his position. But because he is my son he will serve the suspension. I will not admit that Bill was wrong for voicing his opinion in this situation."

“And why is that?” Mr. De Lorenzo asked.

My dad smiled at me. “Because I happen to agree with his opinion.” and my dad walked out of the office.

Three days later I served my In-School Suspension. I smiled the entire time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Exposure

I have a question that has been bothering me for a while now and I have never been able to figure out how to ask the question without it sounding totally perverted and messed up. It is a serious question and one that I think other parents may ask and one that I think could be answered by the people of the Internet.

At what age is it inappropriate for a boy to be naked in front of his peers? Especially if his peers are little girls? (See what I mean about the question?)

And at what age is it inappropriate for a girl to see a penis? (See, again, I can't ask the question without it being weird.)

I have three boys and sometimes during play dates with their female friends or cousins one of my boys ends up in a state of undress. Whether it is Max who walks around the house with his pants around his ankles because he had trouble pulling them up after using the bathroom. Or Wyatt, who, if he had his way would be naked all of the time. And of course Jackson needs to get his diaper changed from time to time.

When their girl play dates were young, two or three years old, it never bothered me that my boys were all willy-nilly (pun totally intended) with their nakedness. I guess because the girl's mom's never seemed to care. But now that Max's friends are older, I guess I am feeling somewhat, hell I don't know, more uncomfortable.

I still have no problem changing Jackson's diaper, any where or any time. I understand Wyatt's need to spill stuff on his clothes, on purpose, just so he can run around naked. I get that Max, some times, has problems with his pants. I guess lately I have become more aware of the audience.


So I am asking the Internet, at what age is it uncomfortable for exposure? Being the Exposure-er or the Exposure-ee?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Dodgeball

My buddy Dan told his wife the only thing he wanted for his 40th birthday was a dodgeball party with his family and friends. She made all the arrangements and a few weeks ago I received an invitation. I have known Dan for about 25 years. Over those years I have spent many parties with Dan drinking and acting up only to wake up feeling awful and in pain from the previous nights shenanigans. I promptly RSVPed "yes" because it seemed like a good idea. I did not want to miss out on the fun.

This past Saturday was the party. Dan was surprised. About 20 people showed up to play Cosmic Dodgeball at the Sports Zone . The staff at the Sports Zone are used to hosting these types of parties for kids and they did their best to treat every one of us there as a kid.

Five minutes into dodgeball the game became more like meander-away ball. And after another 5 minutes I was playing more like malinger ball. And after another five minutes I was playing hide-behind-my-friends-and-pussyfoot-ball, as you can see in the video. Dodgeball lasted an hour and afterwards we all gathered in the one of the little party rooms for pizza, soda and cake.

I had a blast at Dan's party and, as it was when we were younger, I woke up the next morning feeling awful and in pain. video

Friday, November 06, 2009

Man Challenge

Picture this:
A woman struggles opening a mayonnaise jar, turns to her husband for assistance, he tries and tries but cannot get the lid to turn. It is such a simple task yet so difficult. She says, "Honey, let me run it under some hot water." He says, "No, I got it." He struggles some more, sweat beading on his forehead. She says, "Let me tap it with a knife." He says "NO. I said I got it." He keeps trying but the lid refuses to budge. A seemingly simple physical challenge is bringing his manhood into question. A man is supposed to be able to open jars. He places the jar on the counter to re-assess the situation. The woman picks up the jar, bangs the lid on the counter and with a quick flip of her wrist the jar opens. He says, "I loosened it for you."
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Completing a physical challenge, no matter how simple, is good for man. It gives us an opportunity to beat our chest and say "Look. I did that." That is why Carnies are always calling out to men challenging them to throw a softball at milk bottles. Carnies know the challenge seems simple that men will keep trying until we get it just so we can say "I did that." There is nothing like carrying a giant stuffed panda around to heighten ones testosterone level.

Sometimes the more seemingly simple tasks become the more complex challenges. There are a few of these seemingly simple yet complex challenges where men thrive on the competitive nature of the challenge. Getting someones keys out of a locked car is one of those challenges. No key, a locked door, limited tools, its like MacGyver. Men want to be MacGyver.

Yesterday I locked my keys in my car. We do not have a spare key. I was in the parking lot of the Acme food store just a mile from our house. I was up for the challenge. I told the woman at the customer service counter my predicament and asked if they had a screwdriver and a wire hanger. They did. I went back to my car and I began to work. I wedged the screw driver in the door frame and propped the door open just enough to work the wire hanger into the car. I maneuvered hanger's bent end close to the electric button but every time I "pressed" the hanger it would bend. I was close. I "pressed" again but the hanger bent some more. I removed the hanger reshaped it and went back to work. Every time I got close to hitting the button the hanger would bend and I would have to remove it to reshape it.

As I was standing at my car with the wire hanger and a screwdriver protruding from the door I began to notice a strange phenomena. Men would come up to me and offer advice or they would look in their trunks and cars to see if they had the right tool to open the car. Every guy that passed me in that parking lot, over the half hour or so I was standing there, could feel the MacGyver in them. They wanted a piece of the challenge. It is a man thing. Carnies should have a game where they lock keys in a car.

Every woman that walked by, all said pretty much the same thing, "Don't you have a spare key somewhere?"

Knowing that the hanger was too soft for the job (hey now) I finally broke down and called Lauren. I asked her to grab a wooden dowel that I knew we had in the garage and another screwdriver. I knew that with something less pliable than the wire hanger I would be able to open the door. Lauren thought that at that time she should mention that I am probably ruining the car door. I got a little frustrated and said, "Just bring me the stuff I asked for okay." and I hung up.

Five minutes later Lauren called me back. " I am not coming to get you." She said. "I called the police. Someone will be there soon. Just wave them down when you see them."

"You called the police?" I asked.

"Yes."

"Why? They have more important things to do than help me. Besides I knew I could get it open if you just brought the stuff."

"They will have the right tools to get into the car."

"I can't believe you called the police on me."

"Well I did."

I hung up and worked very quickly trying to get the car door open before the cops showed up. I could not believe that Lauren would emasculate me like that. Getting keys out of a locked car is a manly thing. Its one of those things we are supposed to do. Two minutes later a cop showed up. I lowered my eyes in shame avoiding his judgemental look. I pretty much gave up my man card right then and there. The officer had the car open in 30 seconds.

"There you go, sir" He said. Adding the "sir" as if he may have been questioning it.

"Thank you." I said. "I am sorry my wife called. I could have gotten it if I had a few more minutes."

"No problem." He responded as he got into his cruiser.

"Well I DID loosen it for you." I said.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Symptom

I was in the process/hell of shoveling 5 yards of mulch, last fall, when I started to feel tightness in my chest. I stopped to catch my breath and found that it was short. A minute later I threw a few more shovel-fulls into the wheelbarrow to top it off. I bent my knees, grabbed the long wooden handles and dead-lifted the weight of the wheelbarrow. As I steered the mulch toward the front garden the left, I felt a sharp pinch in my left shoulder. I lost my grip on the left handle and it dropped from my hand, the metal container crashed to the ground spilling its contents all over the yard. My left arm and hand were numb. I could feel a tingling sensation in my funny bone area.

I did a quick mental check; chest pain, check, shortness of breath, check, numbness in my left arm, check. I did what any normal 38 year-old (this was last year) red blooded American would do in this situation, I went inside, drank a glass of water, sat on the couch and let the symptoms subside. I also did not tell my wife.

Two days later, while at work, I ran up two flights of steps two at a time. As I pulled on the stairwell door I could feel my left arm go numb and I felt a shooting pain emanate from my neck and chest. I returned to my desk, sat down and tied to wait out the pain. I was not short of breath this time but I could feel muscles in my chest close in around my lungs.

I thought to myself.

“I wonder if I am having a heart attack. I can’t be. I am only 38. But wait a minute there are people who have heart attacks who are even younger than me. I am having chest pain. Left arm, numb. I got pins and needles in my left pinky, is that a sign of a heart attack? Could be. I guess. No shortness of breath so that is a good sign. Hold on a sec, two days ago I was mulching, a heavy activity, and I started to feel this way. I just ran up some steps and I feel this way. Holy crap I am having a heart attack. Is this what angina feels like? Heh, heh, I said angina. Now that I just told myself I am having a heart attack I can feel my breath getting shorter. Wait a minute the pain in my arm is gone. Whew. Wait, now it is back. Try not to think about it. I wonder if someone in the office has Nitroglycerine tablets. How come Nitroglycerine tablets do not explode? Like in cartoons? Or is that TNT? Okay the pain in my arm is now gone but It still feels numb. I can hear my pulse. That is a good thing. That mean I have a pulse. But maybe that is a sign that my heart is working harder because it is under attack. My doctor did tell me I had high cholesterol. well not really high but elevated. Wow, now I can feel my back and shoulder blades cramping up. Okay maybe I am only having a panic attack. What are the symptoms of a panic attack? Let me Google it. S.y.s.m.t.o.m.s.o.f.p.a.n.i.c., Crap I spelled symptom wrong. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. Backspacebackspacebackspacebackspacebackspace. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. m p.t.o.m.s.o.f.p.a.n.i.c.a.t.t.a.c.k. Enter. I should have just used the mouse I don’t know why I always delete the entire sentence or word instead of highlighting the mista… and here we go. Let’s see, symptoms are kind of the same as a heart attack. But wait I have numbness in my arm. Oh numbness in arm is a sign of a panic attack. I need to call 911. No if I call 911 and it’s only a panic attack I would feel foolish ahving an ambulance wisk me away from work. But if I die at my desk of a myocardial infarction, heh heh infarction, I would feel foolish. Well actually I would be dead so I guess I would not feel foolish. I am sweating. I am starting to feel lightheaded. Breathe. Breathe. Deep breath. No good. Still have chest pain. If I die Lauren is going to be so pissed. Now I am getting tunnel vision. Getting hard to swallow. Great now I am having a heart attack AND a panic attack. Maybe it is a panic attack. What if it is a heart attack? Fuck.”

I called my doctor and explained what I was feeling. They told me to come in right away. The office that I go to trains new physicians. I never really see the same doctor twice. The person on-call was a young female who seemed pretty sharp. She hooked me up to an EKG and immediately ruled out a heart attack. I immediately felt 100 times better. We went over my symptoms again and again. She reprimanded me for not going to the ER over the weekend when I first experienced the chest pain

“But it wasn’t my heart.” I said.

“But you did not know that at the time.” She responded. “What if it was?”

“But it wasn’t.”

“Next time you should go to the ER. It is better to be safe than sorry.”

"But it wasn't"

"You are closer to the higher risk heart attack age than you think."

Ouch. That hurt.

I started to argue with her but a nurse entered the exam room and handed the doctor my chart. She flipped the file open and started to read my history. I could feel my face flush. She was reading about my last visit. We spent the next few minutes in silence. She closed the chart with a flourish and smiled at me.

“There is nothing in here to indicate that you would have any heart issues.” She said.

We talked about anxiety and she did some reflex tests. The doctor ruled out a panic attack although she did think I talked myself into some of the symptoms (stupid internet). She then suggested I see a specialist who handles Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. It sounded serious, but it wasn’t.

The Thoracic guy sent me to an x-ray guy. The x-ray guy sent me to an MRI person. The MRI Person sent me to a nerve conduction woman. The nerve conduction woman stuck 2 inch needles into the muscles up and down my neck shoulder and left arm and sent electricity through them. She then sent me back to my regular doctor.

The final diagnosis is herniated discs in my neck, C3, C4, C5. Now, if I ever do have a real heart attack I am just going to think it is a pain in the neck.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Monster Squad

I prefer scary Halloween costumes over the super hero or movie character variety. I was very happy when Maxfield said he wanted to be a skeleton. I was even happier when our friend Kristan lent us a skeleton costume. Wyatt, who wanted to be Iron Man, and then a robot, and then Wolverine, made me happy when finally decided he wanted to be a mummy. Lauren took an old bed sheet, tea-stained it,tore it into pieces and zip-boom-viola, a cheap mummy costume. Lauren decided she would recycle an old Frankenstein costume for Jackson. Our Halloween costumes were cheap and scary, kind of like a "Fish-Town" hooker.


Here is the monster squad- Skeleton, Mummy, Frankenstein and the Blob.




Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Review, kind of

I was 23 years old and I had just broken up with my girlfriend of a few years, when my roommate and friend, Rob, put on the song Murder of One by the Counting Crows. We got drunk on Rolling Rock at the local bar and listened to that CD all weekend. That song is a great song but, to me, it is even a better song because it reminds me a good time.

Lauren and I started to watch the show Lost in the fall of 2004. Max, who was only six months old at that time had just started to sleep through the night around that same time. Lauren and I would put Max to bed and make Lost a TV "date night". Lost is a great show but, to me, it is even a better show because it reminds me of a good time in my life where everything was falling into place.

A few weeks ago David Baldacci's, the NY Times Best selling author, publisher contacted me and asked that I review his latest book True Blue. I have read and heard good things about Baldacci's other books but I never have read any. I usually turn down book review opportunities because I am a slow reader. I also read slow. I can never finish a book by the deadline the publisher sets to turn in the review. I had just finished reading Outliers by Malcom Gladwell (what a really cool read) and I was looking for a new book. The publisher said they would send me a copy for free if I would give it an honest review on the blog. They also gave me a few weeks to read True Blue. I figured what the hell, and agreed to the arrangement. I figured I could read a few chapters every night.

The book arrived in the mail and I cracked the spine of Baldacci's True Blue some time in the first week of October. The story is about Mace, a cop, who was framed for a crime she did not commit. The first couple of chapters cover her getting out of prison and starting her investigation of who framed her. Without her badge and her gun she knows she will have a difficult time finding those that set her up. The book starts a little to slow for my liking but Baldacci does a nice job of making me want to see what happens next. Like, all of the sudden someone is killed and Mace finds herself investigating that murder as well.

Just as I was on a roll reading True Blue the story takes another twist. Not in the pages, but in MLB. The Phillies were in the playoffs and playing the Rockies. I watched every game with the book on my lap, glancing at the words between pitches. The Phils beat the Rockies in five games. I had a few more days to read more of the book.

Just when I got the part where Mace and Roy, her lawyer love interest, get shot at by gang members in a bad part of Washington DC (or was it gang bangers? Could be the FBI is also after Mace) the Phillies start the National League Championship series against the Dodgers. Again I sit with the book on my lap, glancing at pages, while watching the Phils take the Dodgers in five games. Baldacci's True Blue is in my hands when I jump up to celebrate the fact that the Phillies are going to the World Series for the second year in a row.

The week between the NLCS and the World Series I work really hard to finish the book. I have re-read a few chapters to refresh my memory. The story of Mace and Roy and Mace's sister who is also a cop takes a couple of twists as more bad guys surface and a homeless man is taking into custody for a murder he may or may not have committed.

I am about 250 pages into the book when the World Series starts. I am not really a superstitious person but I am sitting on the couch watching the Phillies with the book True Blue on my lap. Baldacci writes some interesting characters and the story is a good story so far. The book is a good book.

If the Phils, as my friend Charlotte in PA says, don't cock it up and win the World Series True Blue may just become an excellent book in my eyes.



Want to see the cutest mummy in the world? Click Here

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Inspiration and Intimidation

I have been in a funk.

It all started when we took the kids to go see Where the Wild Things Are two weeks ago. Lauren said the movie (the emotional undertones) depressed her. I left the theater feeling inspired. Visually the movie is stunning and the characters are well developed with excellent acting. Seeing a film like that makes me want to create, to be a better storyteller, to be a better writer. Then I became intimidated because I know that I will never be able to tell a story like that.

In the book and in the film there is the line “I’ll eat you up. I love you so.”

Did you ever see someone so cute you just want to squish and scrunch up their face and eat it? Like a toddlers plump round cheeks just need to be squeezed and pinched even though you know that in the back of your head you may be pinching the kid’s cheek just a bit too hard, but you don’t care, because oh my gosh, he is so cute you just want to eat him up and you can’t help yourself. Then you realize you may not be able to control yourself and you may actually eat the cuteness and so to be safe you stay away and try not to look.

I have been trying to figure out a way I can take this blog to the next level. What that level is I am not sure. Blogs have kind of gone out of fashion with most people finding their online voices through Facebook and Twitter. I do both, but they are not the same to me as writing or reading a blog post. I don’t find Twitter or FB inspiring. I am inspired by people whose blog writing, photography, style or just their outlook on life makes me want to do better as a person and as a writer. You can’t get that from 140 characters.

Lately I have been inspired by bloggers like The Bloggess, BHJ, Whit, and The Pioneer Woman. I have been reading each of these bloggers for a while now (Pioneer Woman for a few years) and I have come to the conclusions that these people are just flat out excellent at the craft of blogging. I do follow them on Twitter but it is their blog posts inspire me to be a better writer, a better storyteller.

When I compare what I write here to what they write at their spaces I get intimidated. Sometimes I look at what I consider their success and I feel that maybe I should give up on the whole blogging thing.

Inspiration; I want to tell stories like they do.

Intimidation; I know that I could never tell stories like that.

Inspiration and Intimidation.

I want to eat them up but then I find it better to take a break and stay away. Stay away from reading and stay away from writing.

I try not to look.

I am inspired. I am intimidated. Mostly inspired.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Neighborhood Watch

This morning, as I walked to my car, I a folded flier tucked behind the flag on my mail box. I scanned the street to see if there were pieces of paper sticking out from other mailboxes. I thought it strange that my mailbox was the only one to receive some type of solicitation in the middle of the night.

The flier is from my township's Neighborhood Watch Program inviting me to volunteer. Part of it reads "volunteers patrol our neighborhoods on foot...between 8 and 10 each evening." It also states that "volunteers assist the police department" and that "training will be provided".

It did not say anything about them providing uniforms or costumes, which is okay because I am sure Lauren will make me something if I join.

I am going to need to take a break from the Internet and blogging for a few days while I work on my utility belt.

What kind of weapons should I make? What kind of superhero name should I give myself? Help me out.


While I am gone try these other cool blogs.

The Bloggess

Fadkog

Homefires

Creative Type Dad

Sci Fi Dad

Honea Express

the Meanest Mom

BHJ

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jealous


Lauren and I (mostly Lauren) are in the middle of Begatting our living room. We (she) are doing it in stages. We tore up the carpet to find beautiful hardwood floors which begat taking out the old base molding which will begat adding new molding etc, etc. We hope to make some "built-in" bookshelves and create a new computer/office space.

In preparation for the project the whole family went to Lowe's to pick up supplies. The first ten or so minutes went well until the kids started getting antsy. Lauren and I agreed that I would find ways to entertain the kids while she finished the shopping. The kids became even more rambunctious. Max wanted to ride in the cart which begat Wyatt wanting to ride in the cart. There was not enough room for both so I told Max he had to walk which begat him crying and having a temper tantrum which begat Wyatt having an attitude and causing both kids to argue with each other which begat me to become extremely agitated.

I decided to take the kids to see the Christmas decorations in Lowe's (yep Christmas decorations in early October) hoping that that would make everyone happy. As we passed the paint aisle I saw Lauren at the other end talking to the Paint Guy. He was all smiley and flirty with Lauren. I called down to Lauren to let he know I was going to the decorations. It took me five or six tries to get her attention. When she finally looked up I told her where to meet us in the store.

The Christmas decorations turned out to put everyone in a worse mood because Max told me he wanted the new Geo-Trax Timbertown Railway for Christmas which begat Wyatt saying he wanted the new Geo-Trax Timbertown Railway, which begat Max telling Wyatt he could not ask for the same thing, which begat a battle of "yes-I-can-No-you-can't". Anyone familiar with YIC-NYC battle knows that the volume gradually increases 10 decibels with each volley. When the kids hit about 120 dB I had had enough and hurried them to the front door where Lauren was finished making her purchases and we left.

Both kids were upset that we did not see all of the decorations and they started to whine and cry. Lauren and I did our best to ignore them as we drove away. Lauren could tell my nerves were shot. She had to raise her voice over the volume of the crying in the back of the mini-van to ask me what happened

While you were flirting with the Paint Guy, these two" I said pointing to the back seat and loud enough for her to hear me, "decided to throw fits.

I then announced that because of their behavior we were going home and not to the toy store like we originally planned. The boys cried louder. We tried to ignore them.

"I was not flirting with the Paint Guy." Lauren yelled back over the noise of the boys. She rolled her eyes

"Well he was flirting with you." I hollered back

"No he wasn't"

"Yes he was. With his short sleeved maroon apron showing off his tatooed bi-ceps. He was flirting

"Oh my gosh." Lauren yelled tyring to over power the sound of the crying. "I can't believe you are jealous of the Paint Guy

"I am." I shouted back.

"You are? Really? " Lauren asked.

"Yes. I am jealous that he is back in the store and I am sitting here listening to these kids screaming."