Thursday, December 31, 2009


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."


"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.




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.



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.

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


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


How do you pronounce the word "pajama"?

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


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


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 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


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


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.