Sunday, February 28, 2010

Never Have

I never had any type of big birthday party when I was a kid. My 8 siblings were pretty much the only invited guests to ice cream and cake. I never had a birthday shindig with games and a bunch of friends competing for prizes. I never had a clown, super hero or some other costumed person show up at a birthday to entertain me (this last sentence is a perfect opportunity for Anonymous to make several comments).

Maxfield turns six today. Last year, when he turned 5, we had a big party. This year we had a medium sized party. I guess part of me is trying to give him the stuff I never had.

I have been thinking about this a lot over the past few days. I also want to provide him a list of never haves that were also given to me. I want to give him my other never haves.

I never had to worry about my next meal. My parents always provided for me and they taught me how to provide for myself.

I never had to fight, truly physically fight another person. I have been involved in a lot of scuffles, most with my brothers, but none where I was scared I would not be able to protect myself.

I never had to worry about being alone. Always, always there were people in my life to stand beside me and behind me when times were tough.

I never had hate eat me up inside. There are people I strongly dislike. There are people I would prefer to have had never met. But I was taught by my parents the act of forgiveness, and maybe the art of being indifferent, so I would never feel hate towards another person.

I never had a day in my life where I thought I wasn't loved by at least someone. I know I made it difficult at times for people to love me but I always knew somewhere someone loved me. I know that as long as Lauren or myself are alive we can guarantee this for our kids.

I never had a day where I didn't laugh at least once. I was lucky enough to be born into a large family of very funny people. I have always felt surrounded by funny people. I either inherited the ability or I was taught to pretty much find the humor in all situations.

Maxfield turns six, I wish him, for his birthday, some of my never hads.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Other Man.

I love cooking. I don't necessarily love to cook but I love cooking really tasty dishes. I love the challenge of preparing a meal with the perfect combination of flavors.

I have written here in the past of how I love the Pioneer Woman and how I bought her cook book (let me just tell you I tried her recipe for her Barbecue Jalapeno Poppers and they are incredible. I have made them four times already). I may have written how I have a Bobby Flay cook book. I may have written here in the past that I enjoy being in the kitchen. I also enjoy cooking shows such as Chopped, Food Network Challenge and Iron Chef.

My problem with all cook books and cooking shows is that none of them, not one single one that I have watched or read, ever, and I mean EVER, take into account that while I am cooking or trying a new recipe, my three year old is going to yell from the other room that I need to come and see his poop right now, because he went poop in the potty. When I run into the other room to see it, spatula in hand, I take 30 seconds to admire his achievement that I end up burning the salmon steaks because I had them on the frying pan too long.

The reason I burn it, is because I was interrupted and I also I don't understand the WHYS of cooking. Most cook books teach you how to cook or what to cook. None really teach why you do certain things when.

The only chef/TV cook/cook book author I have ever seen explain the whys is Alton Brown from the Food Network TV show Good Eats. His show is awesome and explains the whys. Lauren, for Christmas, bought me two of his books. Both books are great because they explain the whys of cooking. They explain that certain foods need to be cooked at certain temperatures because of the chemical breakdown of such foods. Alton Brown is a food scientist. His show is entertaining and it is one of the few shows Lauren and I enjoy watching together. But his books, they teach why certain things should be done certain ways while cooking. Understanding the why really helps in preparing a meal, especially if you know you are going to be interrupted by children.

I never liked Science Class but if my 9th grade science lab teacher, Mr. Mossburg, was to Hypothesize why dry rub ribs take longer to cook then say marinated ribs, and that the Purpose was to establish the correct cooking times and the Materials list included cayenne, garlic cloves and braising liquid, with the Constant being the same oven, I may have actually gotten a B in his Class. I may have also weighed 300 lbs in high school but I would be a smart 300lbs.

Lauren found out that Alton Brown was doing a food demonstration in our area and she bought tickets for us as a Valentine's Day gift. Leading up to the show Lauren became somewhat obsessed with Alton Brown. She read everything online that she could. During conversations she would throw little tidbits of Alton's life at me. She sent me links to information about his books and shows. She denied it but I joked with her that she had developed a little crush on Alton Brown. I may have been a little jealous on all the attention he was getting. Alton Brown, for a week, became the other man.

We went to the show last Friday night. Alton Brown was awesome. He was on stage for two hours. Out of the two hours, I am going to say only 25 minutes was dedicated to the actual food demonstration. The rest of the time was like watching a stand up comic performer.
He was funny. He was incredibly funny, hysterical actually.


He took a lot of questions from the audience and he was quick and sharp and very witty. He was charming and sarcastic without being too cocky. He did this all while teaching about the science of food. It was a great, great show.

I think I developed a little crush on Alton myself.


The winners of the Saxbys Gift Cards are Mrs. P, Susie, and Katie. Please email me your addresses so I can mail you the gift card.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Beat the Bully

I watched from across the room as Maxfield took a swing at his brother Wyatt. Wyatt dodged the fist. I reprimanded Max for trying to hit his brother. It is the number one rule in our house. Not because of any type of priority or anything, it is number one rule because it is the one we have say the most.

But as I watched Max trying to punch his brother I realized that he was not doing it right. His punch was all arm was coming in at the wrong angle. It struck me that if Max was ever to get into a fight in school he would not do well. I waited for his "time-out" to be over and I tried to teach him how to punch properly.

I explained that he was never to punch anyone unless he felt threatened. I then tried to explain the concept of threaten to him which did not go too well. I told him if another kid is pushing him or hurting him he has the right to defend himself. His first response should be to ask the other kid to stop. If the other kid does not stop Max should go to whatever adult is in charge. If there is no other adult around and the other kid continues to push or hurt Max, I instructed Max to ask the other kid to stop two more times. If the other kid continues after the third time I told Max he is free to punch back and remove himself from the situation.

Lauren and I do not see eye to eye on this. She would prefer Max remove himself from the situation right away. I always tell her I don't want Max to be a wuss. I want him to have the confidence to not back down to the bully. The best way to beat a bully is to beat the bully. I don't want Max to hurt another kid but I definitely don't want Max to get hurt himself.

I was letting Max punch my outstretched palms when Lauren entered the room. She asked what we were doing and I told her I was teaching Max to fight the right way. I told her about the "ask three times rule". She gave me a look.

"Max" she said "you know, that if anyone ever picks on you or is trying to hurt you, you should just walk away, right?"

Max nodded and punched my hand.

"You know you should just go to the teacher right?" she asked.

"Yes." Max said throwing another punch.

Lauren then shook her head at me in disappointment.

"What? I just thought he should learn to defend himself." I said. "Don't be mad."

She rolled her eyes. She then knelt down beside me and took Max's shoulders in her hands and started to position him in a different stance.

"If you are going to teach him to punch the least you could do is teach him the right way."

I gave her a look.

"Bill" she said "who is the black belt in this family?"

I then nodded and let my wife, who earned her black belt in karate five years ago, teach my son how to properly punch someone. I am such a wuss.

GoodNites website (which has all kinds of great resources for parents) has an excellent page called Bed Time Theater, where you can download stories for kids to listen to at bedtime. The themes of the stories of Iggy and his Wiggy Bed are about confidence, friendships, overcoming adversity and such. You should go there and listen. Even if you do not have kids of the age of bedtime stories you should check out the contest they are having. People can submit their own Iggy stories for a chance to win money as well as having their story become part of the GoodNites Bed Time Theater. And guess what, I get to be one of the judges of that contest. There is a sample story you can find here, which was written by nine bloggers one of which was me. Check it out, I think it is cool.

Here at Poop and Boogies GoodNites is giving away a prize pack valued at $175.00 which includes a 2GB Ipod shuffle, Logitech speakers, an Itunes gift card and a cuddle blanket.

For a chance to win this awesome prize pack please go to GoodNites Bedtime Theater site and listen to a couple chapters of Iggy. Then come back here leave me a comment telling me about how you deal with bullying, whether it is regarding what you teach your kids or maybe a story about you overcoming a bully when you were younger. I will select a random story to win the prize. You need to leave a comment here on the blog to be eligible for the prize pack.




Disclaimer--I have partnered with GoodNites® Sleep Pants for the Bedtime Theater program. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program, which includes developing the Iggy’s Next Adventure story, sharing the program information with my readers, tweeting my blog entry and judging the Iggy’s Next Adventure contest entries. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive sentiments towards the GoodNites® products.”

Friday, February 19, 2010

First Cup

On average I drink about 10 cups a coffee a day. I need the first two, maybe three, cups. The rest, well, I just like coffee. I really like coffee.

I drink coffee black and I always find that the first cup of coffee of the day is the best. Not because my body craves caffeine or that I need the coffee to wake up, it is just the first cup always tastes the best. Every cup after that is, like, tainted by the taste of coffee already on the tongue.

I still remember my very first cup of coffee ever. I had slept over my friends house and I was the first to wake up. I always was and still am an early riser. I fumbled my way down the steps to the kitchen to get something to drink. I was not too familiar with my friend's house and while looking for a glass I opened and closed several cabinets which woke Mr. Wheeler, my friend's dad. He entered the kitchen, asked me what I was doing and he looked disappointed when I told him I was up for the day. Mr. Wheeler sighed and then proceeded to make coffee. I sat at the kitchen table reading the comic section of the paper and we made small talk.

When the coffee was finished brewing Mr. Wheeler handed me a cup of piping hot coffee and asked me how I took it. I told him I never had coffee before. He poured a little bit of cream and two scoops of sugar into my cup.

"Here, try this." he said and slid the cup in front of me.

That first sip was delicious. I was hooked. I was eight years old.

I don't think Mr. Wheeler knew at that moment that he was creating a great memory for me. Every now and then I put a little bit of cream and two scoops of sugar into my coffee and I think of Mr. Wheeler.

My dad was not happy about Mr. Wheeler giving me coffee. My dad did not care that I actually drank the coffee, my dad was more upset with the fact that he now had to share his coffee with me every morning.

Every now and then I like to treat myself to a good cup of coffee so I go to Saxbys. I go to Saxbys coffee for two reasons; one, my brother Anonymous is part of the Saxbys' organization and two, every cup of coffee they serve is like the first cup of coffee of the day.

Do you drink coffee? How old were you when you had your first cup? How do you like your coffee?


Saxbys gave me three $5 dollar gift cards (you are all singing that Subway commercial now aren't you?) as part of my "Poop and Boogies Turns Five" give-away month. Go their website Click Here and see if there is a Saxbys in your area. If you would like a chance to win one of the gift cards please leave me a comment and include the word Saxbys. I will select three random winners on Sunday.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Winners

Thanks everyone for participating in the Frankie Pickle and the Huggies give-aways.

The winners of the Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000 books are FADKOG and Joyce from The Souths.

The winners of the free Huggies coupons are Mami2jcn, James, Jill, Jenny, and MommaTmac

Not everyone had easy to find email contact information. If you won please email me so I can mail your prizes.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snowmantic

I had this great idea to get Lauren some romantic, yet pratical, Valentine's Day gifts. We need some stuff in the kitchen and my plan involved a card and gifts that talked about her "tender-eyes", wisking her away and something about spooning.

A few days before I planned to go shopping Lauren told me not to buy her anything because she just bought tickets for an event that could be used as a gift for both of us.

On Thursday I wrote "I love you" in the snow on the front lawn. On Saturday I signed it from the kids. This is pretty much the extent of what Lauren received for Valentine's day.
She was very thankful that we "penguin walked" the writing and did not use some other method of writing in the snow.

Friday, February 12, 2010

First Steps

video

Jackson started walking last week. I love watching him trying to get control of his legs while he finds his balance and center of gravity. Every time he walks it is a new experience for him. He is amazed at what he is doing even if he has not grasped the concept completely.

Last fall Huggies invited Jackson to NY for their Little Movers promotion. At that time Jackson was not a mover at all. Well he is now. As my wife said, it is time to cover the house in bubble wrap.

Huggies was nice enough to send me some coupons for free diapers to give-away as a "Poop and Boogies turns 5 promotion". That's right, FREE jumbo pack of diapers, which is like 12 bucks, which to a parent with kids in diapers is like gold. I have 5 coupons (P&B turns five...5 coupons, see how creative I am) to give away. If you would like a chance to receive a coupon please leave me a comment with the word "Huggies" in it. I will randomly draw 5 winners on Sunday. You need to have a valid blogger user name for me to track you down. Also if you have kids in diapers and you have a Twitter account you should follow Huggies, they give away stuff all the time.

If you are not interested in winning the diapers please leave a comment congratulating Jackson.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Illustrator

My favorite book when I was a little kid was(a series)called Henry the Explorer. I really loved the story, which I would try to act out each week, and I loved the illustrations which I would try to copy using a box of Crayolas. As I got older my interest switched to comic books, which I would also try to act out but I had an easier time trying to recreate the images of the super heroes using colored pencils and paints.

For the longest time the only thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a cartoonist or illustrator. This is one of the covers to a comic book I created with my friend Bob when we were 8 or 9 years old. We went so far as to make up our own comic book company.


I was the Black Archer and Bob was the Silver Swordsman*. We also tried to act out the adventures we planned on drawing. There was one time where we used Bob's dad's hunting bow to shoot arrows at each other to see if we could catch them. It didn't end good, but it didn't end bad either.



Even as an adult I still have dreams of being an illustrator. This is as close to that dream job that I ever got.


Last summer I met Eric Wight, author and illustrator of Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom. My kids loved the book. I bought a few copies to give as holiday presents to other kids I know. I thought it would be a good idea to get one of those kids an autographed copy. I knew Eric lived in my area so I emailed him to see if I could meet up with him to get some books signed.

A few days later (this was early December) we met for lunch. We talked comics, books, Brad Meltzer and much more. I would like to think that Eric enjoyed our conversation as much as I did but I was the stalker and he was the stalk-ee, so maybe he did not. We did discuss his latest Frankie Pickle book, which Eric was nice enough to bring me a preview copy.

I brought the book home and read it to Max and Wyatt. Even with half of the illustrations missing (preview copy and what not) they both loved Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000. Max loved it so much that after reading it for the 10th time he sat down and wanted to draw images from it.

I felt, I don't know, I guess proud would be the word that my son was doing the same kind of stuff I did as a kid. I just hope he gets his mother's artistic genes.


Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000 hits the stores Tuesday February 9th. If you have kids or know kids go out and buy it. It is a great read. I can't wait to get a "finished" copy.

As part of my 5 year blogging milestone I am going to give away two copies of Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000. For a chance to win one of the books, leave me a comment telling me your favorite childhood book. I will pick two random winners (out of a hat). Please only one comment per person. Even if you don't have kids you should enter because I am sure you know a kid who would like this book. I will stop taking entries as of Friday February 12th. Hell I may even stalk Eric and see if he will autograph the books for you.

*The Black Archer© and Silver Swordsman© are Copyrighted to William and Bob 1978 or 1979-ish. Any use their names or likeness or recounts or rebroadcast of this blog post without proper written consent from the NFL or Greatest Comics Company is strictly prohibited by taste.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Bedtime

Most nights the job of putting Maxfield and Wyatt to bed belongs to me. I usually start the process at 7:30 by getting them in their PJs as they watch a TV show. At 8:00 we head upstairs to brush teeth, pee, say prayers and climb into bed. Every night the boys ask me to tell them a story.

Sometimes I read to them (which is difficult now that they are in bunk beds)but most nights I make up stories to tell them. Their favorite bedtime stories are The Adventures of Max and Wyatt, go figure, which is about two little boys with super powers. Max and Wyatt's powers change each night depending on the mood of the kids.

Some nights I just don't have it in me to tell a story. I know, I suck as a modern parent. I know, I am supposed to relish in the "right now" of it all by telling them stories as they drift off to sleep. But some nights, mentally, emotionally, I just can't.

A few months ago the PR people at GoodNites emailed me asking if I would be interested working with them again this year. They gave me a pitch about a bedtime story on-line I could download and let my kids listen to each night. They sent me the first four chapters of GoodNites Bedtime Theater stories of Iggy and his Wiggy Bed along with terms and conditions of our agreement. Seriously, the Ts and Cs really did not matter to me because I was really impressed with the quality of the bedtime stories.

One night I let Max and Wyatt listen to the first four chapters. They listened to the first four chapters for five nights straight. After that first week they asked if I could get more chapters. I was hurt. Even though I shushed them while we listened to the GoodNites story of Iggy and His Wiggy Bed, I lied and told them I could not get them more chapters of this "terrible story".

I know I suck as a parent demanding that my kids listen to me babble on about how my kids are superheroes. I know, I suck, I am supposed to relish in the fact that my kids did not need me to stay in the room and they drifted off to sleep.

If you have kids in the "bedtime story" age bracket I really do recommend you check out the GoodNites Bed Time Theater website, my kids love the stories. The writing and the narration are awesome.

The terms and conditions with GoodNites is actually pretty cool. They afforded me the opportunity to try and write a chapter of Iggy's story. They are also affording me the opportunity to do some give-aways in the next two months.

Poop and Boogies turns 5 this month and I plan to do a bunch of prize give-aways (with or with out the sponsors) so it is cool that GoodNites is doing this.

Go check out GoodNites Bedtime Theater. It is pretty cool.

My first Poop and Boogies Turns Five prize give-away will be this Tuesday (not sponsored by anyone) and it will invovle leaving comments. So go ahead and practice leaving a comment.





I have partnered with GoodNites® Sleep Pants for the Bedtime Theater program. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program, which includes developing the Iggy’s Next Adventure story, sharing the program information with my readers, tweeting my blog entry and judging the Iggy’s Next Adventure contest entries. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive sentiments towards the GoodNites® products.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Don't Laugh

video



I know I posted a similar video a few months ago, but as I was cleaning up files on my computer I found this video. This one is equally NOT funny. Do not laugh. It is NOT FUNNY.



Also my wife posted over at Gigglepotamus. Please go and leave her a comment.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Curtain

"It is bad enough that I had to listen to your mother tell me the entire time how romantic it was to watch Shakespeare, which I have hard time understanding, in the park, at night, under the stars but then to have some idiot propose to his girlfriend in front of the whole audience, I am never coming to one of your shows again."

And that was the review my dad gave my performance in Much Ado About Nothing. The "idiot" was a cast member named Jim who used the curtain call to propose to his girlfriend.

Six months later, in a tiny theater in Cheltenham with a different theater company, I asked my dad what he thought of my performance in the thriller Cat's Paw. My mother drug him to the show.

"Well, I nearly had a heart attack when you fired the gun, but that is a good thing because then I was awake for the rest of the show." he said. He then told me he would never come to another one of my shows again because his heart would not be able to take it.

Which reminded me of what he said we had 8 months earlier when he saw me in The Glass Menagerie. "Bill, you were great but that show was very boring. If you keep doing shows like that I am never coming to another show again."

As you can figure out my dad was not into live theater. If he knew someone in a production he may have gone, no strike that. If he was related to someone in a production he may have gone to see them. Of course when I started to act in the local community theaters in our area, although he was not thrilled about it, he made every effort to attend the shows.

A year or two after Cat's Paw, Dave, a guy I met during Much Ado About Nothing asked me to get involved in a modern production of Rope (Alfred Hitchcock made a film version). The production would involve some of the same people I met doing Shakespeare. We would perform at the same location; the only difference was that we would do the show inside in a very intimate makeshift theater "in the round". The stage would be floor level and the audience would be on risers looking down into the set. Rope is a dark drama about two college aged guys who strangle their friend and stuff him into a trunk. They then host a dinner party serving food off the trunk with the body inside. The intimate setting and the closeness of the actors would provide a very dramatic feel for the audience. The play is very dark and moody.

During the rehearsal process I became friends with most of the cast and we started talking about forming our own theater company. These were good people to work with and they knew their stuff. I did everything I could to impress them hoping they would keep me around. I told everyone I knew about the show hoping they would come out to support our fledgling group. I mentioned the show dates to my parents knowing that my dad, who recently had eye surgery, would not come.


A creative decision was made to start the play in almost complete darkness with the two murderers discussing their plans. This would set a very eerie, creepy tone for the audience. Instead of the normal "house" lights down stage lights up, we went with a very slow, methodical, increase in one blue-ish/purple-ish light that would cast an ominous glow on the two villains as they "set up" their diabolical plot. Eventually, over a time of about five minutes the stage lights would slowly increase to be at a normal level. This lighting trick with a touch of the right music would "bring the audience up to speed" in a very dark foreboding way.

Opening night, the cast and crew were full of nerves and energy knowing that we were close to selling out the small venue. We also knew that the local paper had sent a photographer and reviewer. "Places" was called and the entire cast sat in the wings of our stage to listen to the opening sequence. Dave, who was playing the evil Brandon, started with his dialog in the darkened room. Suddenly there were very loud whispers coming from the audience. Two people were doing their best not to disturb the rest of the audience as they struggled to get out of their seats and leave the theater. Their footsteps on the hollow risers echoed louder with each movement. The whispers grew louder and more panicky as they approached the stage area. Due to the very intimate setting, the only way out of the "theater in the round" was by walking right in front of the stage and through a blackened curtain. When they left the area the bright lights from the other side of the curtain blazed across the stage.

Dave, being a professional, kept his composure and continued on past the distraction. The rest of the show went very smoothly. During intermission and after the show everyone in the cast cursed and mocked the two old people who ruined the opening. Dave said it sounded as if an old man was having a panic attack and that the old lady with him was arguing with him. I even joined in the jokes about the old crazy couple.

The next day I received a phone call from my mom. She asked how the show went. I told her that it went well except the huge distraction at the beginning. She laughed. She then apologized and confessed that the two old crazy people we her and my dad.

My dad just had eye surgery the week before the show. When the play started he heard the voices but could not see the actors. He could only see a blueish haze. He thought that maybe he was having a complication or a set back to the surgery. He thought he was going blind. My mom tried to explain to him that he wasn't but the only thing he wanted to do was get somewhere where he could see before he would panic. My mom had to lead him out of the darkened theater.

That night I told the theater group that the crazy old people were my parents. I explained to them what happened and I offered an apology which they all accepted. I also then told them that I made my dad promise to never come to one my shows again.

But this time I made my dad mean it.




I will be performing in a production of the Pillowman next month with the same group I met those 12 or so years ago. If you live in the Philadelpia area and would like more information please email me at batmeaks at verizon dot net.