Wednesday, April 30, 2008

American Idol made me miss my dad

Last night I settled down on the couch with a bag of Cheetos and vodka on the rocks to watch the DVR'd American Idol. I did not realize it would cause me to cry.

American Idol contestants were performing Neil Diamond songs. I had flashbacks to 1981 when the only album that was played in our house was the Jazz Singer. I think we all knew all the words to every song on that album thanks to my mom constantly playing the record.

My flashback last night consisted of a vivid memory of my dad singing his own version of "Love on the Rocks".

Apparently at the time that the Jazz Singer was playing in our house my mom must have had some back or neck issues.

My dad's lyrics were:

Love on the rocks
Ain't no surprise
Rubbing Ben-Gay on my wife's neck
Really burns my eyes.

My dad could not carry a tune but he was a funny guy.

I miss him.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Turn the Corner

Maxfield, over the past few weeks, has really been coming into his own as a person. His tantrums are fewer and far between. He responds to questions and requests after only the third time being asked as opposed to the old 8 or 9 times being asked. He is more creative with his playtime and he is becoming more independent. He now initiates conversations on his own and does not need to be prodded to have a discussion. He is growing into a very sweet young boy.

Last night Lauren and I were discussing the boys and Max’s progress. She said, “Max has really turned a corner with his behavior. He is so sweet. Wyatt however has turned a completely different corner.”

I had to laugh.

Wyatt is now in spring training for the terrible twos. He is taking his training camp very seriously, well, because practice makes perfect. He has been working diligently at his screaming technique. He also has perfected the “collapse to the floor in a sobbing heap bang his head on the floor in the process only to scream louder because now his head hurts” fit. He does need to improve his method of preventing us from getting him into his car seat. Right now his body goes rigid like 2 by 4 and he makes it impossible for us to buckle the safety straps but he is easily distracted and eventually we get him in his seat. Wyatt also need some work on his “NO!” delivery. It comes out crystal clear but his overall consistency and frequency of use is not quite there yet.

It’s okay he still has about six weeks until he turns two so he has plenty of time to work on it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I just think..

...that if a company like Softsoap is going to make a watemelon scented hand soap that smells so strong of watermelon Jolly Ranchers, than they should at least make the soap so that it tastes like watermelon.

Yes, I know it does not tastes like watermelon. I have tried it.

The worst part of it is, every now and again, when I am washing my hands, the watermelon scent grabs a hold of me and I will taste the soap again just to see if it has magically changed to taste like watermelon candy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hello China

Lauren went to the gym and I was left with the boys. I put them to work digging up an old clothes line post.

We got carried away.

Really carried away.

We did not make it to China.

You should see the ring around our bathtub.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Age Appropriate

I think the Age Appropriate marking on toy packages are a direct correlation to the amount of days it takes a child to either break it or totally lose interest in the toy.

If the toy is marked "For Ages 4+". That means in four days the toy will be useless.

So maybe they should change the packaging to reflect to Days Appropriate.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Henry The Explorer

When I was in second grade, my favorite book, actually it was a series of books, was Henry the Explorer by Mark Taylor and Graham Booth. The way I remember, there were three or so books about Henry and his dog Angus and their exploring adventures. Each week, on Library day, I would bring home one of the Henry books and ask my mom to read it to me, over and over again. I don’t think I ever checked-out another book by another author. I only read about Henry.

In each book Henry would pack his backpack with various necessities such as a flashlight, a sandwich, a bone for his dog and some other stuff. He also always packed a bunch of little yellow flags with a red letter “H”. As he explored he would use his flags to claim his discoveries. Henry would eventually get lost and then need to follow his flags back to his house.

I remember my mom making me exploring kits on the weekends, complete with yellow flags with a red “B”, so I could explore the neighborhood and the woods down the street from our house. I would be gone for the better part of the day. I remember exploring the freshly dug foundations of the new housing development on Silvestri farms and claiming each new house as mine. My brother Jim now lives in one of those houses and I don’t think he realizes that his house is actually mine. He probably doesn’t realize that I probably peed in his basement (that was just last week ((I kid)).

Recently I became aware of two books, Dangerous Book for Boys and Last Child in the Woods that have brought up the issue of today’s parents being overprotective of our kids. That today’s children do not get out into nature enough nor is there enough “natural play”, pretending, and creativity when it comes to a child’s free time. I have heard the authors interviewed on different radio programs and one of them mentioned that the parent’s fear of their child getting hurt is actually making our children weaker. Our fear as parents is making our kids afraid.

I know that I sometimes fall into the category of being an over protective parent. Lauren and I have talked about this a few times but our children are still very young. We make efforts to get them outside, to skim rocks and hike and explore the outdoors.

But I can also see a time in our near future where we are busy carting them off to Little League and soccer, where the scores don’t matter and even the worst teams get trophies and everyone is a winner. Is this good for our children?

What are your thoughts?

Nilbo posted a great piece about this today.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hunter Gatherer with a Bonus Card.

I do about 90% of the food shopping for our house. I do not really look at it as a chore but more of my responsibility as man of the house. That may seem old fashioned or maybe somewhat chauvinistic but I think it is a something genetic. Maybe a gene that goes back to the time of the Neanderthal.

After a decent shopping trip I used to come home and Lauren would help me put the groceries away. I would use that time to show her all the good stuff I purchased. I would be happy with a “buy one get one free deal” or I would be proud of the fact that I remembered to pick up Parmesan cheese even though it was not on the list. She would compliment me with a “Great. That was good deal.” Or “Oh thank you I forgot we needed that.” It would give me the satisfaction of a job well done. It was my little reward ceremony, like the cavemen had for bringing home the big game, but without the bonfires and drumming. And although I do consider it my job and my responsibility it is nice to receive some recognition. I also know that I don’t thank my wife nearly enough for doing her part in raising the kids and keeping the house together.

Lately I do most of my shopping at night, after the kids go to bed. I may not get home until 10pm and by that time Lauren is already in bed. I put the groceries away myself and I have to wait until the morning to brag about my purchases. Usually the next morning I forget about one of the great deals and it may be a day or two after when Lauren will say something like, “I saw that you got yogurt. Thanks.” Shopping at night takes a bit of the reward out of the whole experience.

Shopping at night has put a damper on my inner caveman. There is no instant satisfaction of a coming home from the hunt. I am now officially putting in a request to my wife to have her and the kids at least do some crude wall drawings in our dining room of me holding a coupon and a shopping cart staring down a bag of Doritos.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I Could Have Been a Contender Part 3

I have written here and here about how I blame my siblings for me not meeting my full potential of being a huge sports star or an Academy Award winning actor.

After the Headless Horseman debacle it took me a few years to recover before I decided that theater was the avenue for me to take in an effort to be noticed. My freshman year in high school I decided to audition (not “try-out” see the whole play practice/rehearsal post here) for the fall play “All My Sons” by Arthur Miller. I remember during the audition sitting with my friend CharLynn and asking her for pointers. She had performed in various shows in middle school and was the only person I actually knew at the audition. The director called my name, I went up and read the lines and he immediately cast me in the show. I nailed the audition. The director could clearly see the talent in front of him. Actually, there were six male roles to fill and only five males auditioned, but that did not make any difference, I was very excited to be doing something no one else in my family had done. I was going to be in a play. I was cast in the small role of Frank, who was played by Harry Morgan (Colonel Potter from MASH) in the original broadway production. A small role, but still a role.

I remember my mom and dad being very happy for me. I did not realize at the time that the fact that I was going to be a thespian would hurt my street-cred in school as well with my brothers. Being in plays was not really considered the cool thing to do. I was mocked. I was teased. But I was having a good time. I met my friend’s Susan and Caren during this show and we are still friends 20 plus years later.

When it came time for opening night I remember I had a difficult time convincing my siblings to come to the show. The show nights conflicted with Basketball games and part time jobs and making-out with Nancy W. Arthur Miller was not known for his slapstick comedies so I could understand the hesitation. I am sure my mom forced some of them to come see me perform but for the most part it was a light turn out. But I had fun. I was a star. I was the favorite son for a weekend.

The springtime show in my freshman year was “Grease”. It was going to have the same director as “All My Sons” and he asked me to audition. The director asked me to audition and with the male turn out of the last audition I was guaranteed a good role. Little did I realize that “Grease” was (and is) a very popular show. Almost every male and their brother auditioned for the musical.

Including my brother Kevin.

Guess who got cast as Danny Zuko the lead role in the musical? Danny Zuko who was played by John Travolta in the movie. That’s right, my brother Kevin. I was cast as part of the chorus AKA the wallflower. Granted Kevin was a senior and I was a freshman. It was a musical and Kevin could sing really well. I on the other hand sounded like Peter Brady hitting puberty (hell I was just about hitting puberty at that time). Kevin could dance. He knew the "Hand Jive". I moved like I was having a Grand Mal Seizure. Kevin deserved the part. He was good. Damn good.

Here, I thought theater was going to bring me recognition. But, no. Kevin literally, stole my spotlight. I was crushed. I was Harry Morgan and he was John Travolta.

But did Kevin lose street-cred? Was he mocked or teased? No. Did anyone make up an excuse not to go see him in the show? No.

At first I was bitter, but as the show progressed a couple of good things came out of it.

I got to hang out with my brother Kevin and a bunch of seniors.

Kevin made being involved in theater a cool thing to do.

And during the song Beauty School Dropout, a few nights a week, to a packed auditorium of parents and students, I got to yell "Hooker".

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Beat Box

My kid's new favorite show is Yo Gabba Gabba. Every time I watch the show I can't help but think that someone watched Dee Lite's Groove Is In The Heart video and thought, "Wow. This would make a great kids television show."

The show takes place in a play world where five miniature toys come to life. The five toys, to me at least, resemble some of the monsters from the Ultra Man , Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot, and the Space Giants TV shows from the 70's.

The show claims that it is about "life-lessons with a beat."

They have special guests in each episode that includes the likes of Tony Hawk, Elijah Wood, and Biz Markie ( Oh baybeee, Yoooo Got what I need).

Biz Markie does the segment Biz's Beat of the Day where he teaches kids Beatboxing. My son Wyatt, who is not even two years old yet, has become quite the beatboxer.

I am not sure what life-lessons he has learned but he sure has got the whole vocal percussion thing down.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Last week I wrote about older brothers getting payback
on their little brothers. This is just the start.

Wyatt climbed in on his own but Max was very quick to lock the door and laugh at him.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Injury Timeout

Wyatt, Maxfield and I were playing a game when the the two of them went down. As they fell their heads collided. I winced just observing the collision and I could see that Lauren was upset by how hard they hit.

There was a moment of quiet and calm.

Then Wyatt stood up.

His face all scrunched up and he started to wail. His screams were loud.

"That, was not good." Said Lauren as I picked up Wyatt and she looked over Max who was holding his face as he lay on the floor. Max was okay.

I was trying to see any bumps on Wyatt's face but he was crying so hard his face was red and purple.

Then his nose started bleeding. A lot.

We packed on the paper towel and ice (as much as a 22 month old injured boy would allow anyway) and we eventually stopped the bleeding. The promise of and Ice pop quieted him down enough to get a better look. A broken nose is too diffcult to see unless it is really broken but Wyatt seemed okay.

We decided to take a break from the game we were playing.

Guess what game we were playing?


It was the most violent game of Ring Around the Rosie I have ever played.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Father's Night

Last night was Father's Night at Maxfield's school.

These are the highlights from the evening.

Watching Max and his friend Nicholas discuss episodes of the Spectacular Spiderman and Max singing the theme song from the 1960's Spiderman cartoon for anyone who would listen.

When the teacher went around taking pictures of the dads and their kids for a project, (the kids made frames) Max and I made funny faces at the teacher. She told us that in her 15 years plus of teaching she has never had a picture like that.

Ice Cream Sundaes.

Max was running in the class room and the teacher corrected him. My jaw hit the floor as Max apologized and did exactly as the teacher instructed. That does not happen at my house.

Laying on the floor to read a book to Max and playing a game of "Steamroller" instead.

The teacher was reading a book to everyone about Dads. She would read the page, "My Dad can jump over the moon and can walk a tightrope." She would then ask the class, "Can your dad do that?"

Max would yell "My Dad can."

She read, "My dad is fast and run faster than the wind." She would ask the class. "Can your dad do that?"

Max would yell. "My Dad can."

He responded "My Dad can" to every question.

The teacher read, "My Dad is so strong he can wrestle Giants. Can your dad do that?"

Max responded, "No. My dad can't. Giants are too big and mean and I can beat my dad when we wrestle."

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


As I watch my two boys grow, certain answers to life's questions become clearer to me.

I think I now understand why older brothers will take any opportunity, for the rest of their life, to pick on their little brothers.

Wyatt is two years younger than Max and although Wyatt does not realize it at this time, he torments Max on a regular basis. Max will build a huge Geo-Trax railroad and Wyatt will want to help and step on the pieces and mess up the track. Max will build a big tower of blocks and Wyatt, thinking he is part of the game, will knock it over. Max will want to watch a show and Wyatt will stand directly in front of the TV blocking Max’s view.

But it is not these circumstances that will make Max, later in life, do his best to torment Wyatt. What I think has started Max’s brain storing potential ways to get back at Wyatt is the fact that Wyatt is still under the protection of his parents.

When Wyatt does something like knocking over the tower, Max will try to retaliate. But, nine out of ten times, Max is stopped by his parents with, “Max, Wyatt is just a little guy. He does not know better.”

And when Max knocks over Wyatt’s tower, Max is scolded and corrected with “Max you should know better. He is your little brother and you need to be nice to him.”

I understand that a four year old does not quite get this concept.

Max will eventually discover that a combination of Skittles and Kool-Aid makes the perfect gooey, sugary saliva combination for a gobbledygook torture. When he is older he will pin Wyatt down and Max will dangle a string of spit over Wyatt's face and he will slurp it back up. Max will do this over and over again as payback for all that Wyatt has done.

And now I can understand why it was done to me and why I did it to others.