Friday, January 29, 2010


Getting Wyatt to eat his dinner has been somewhat of a struggle. Some nights he eats but most nights he does not. There is no rhyme or reason to when he chooses to eat. Max did the same thing when he was about the same age so I know it probably is just a phase. Wyatt being the second child, I have learned not to put up a fight and just let him not eat. He knows that if he does not eat he does not get anything else for the rest of the night and he is usually okay with that.

The other night I had a hankering for a root beer float. I promised to go out and get the ingredients to make root beer floats for anyone who ate all their dinner. Lauren had made some turkey breast with noodles and a side of snow peas, all three of which I knew Wyatt would eat. He ate up his noodles, sampled the turkey and struggled with the snow peas. I told him he had to eat everything to get a float. I went about cleaning up and after a few minutes Wyatt's plate was clean.

"Good job Wyatt Blue." I said searching the floor and the surrounding area for any evidence that he tried to hide his food. The floor, table and chair were spotless.

"Did you eat all of your snow peas?" Lauren asked.

"Yes." Wyatt answered. "Can I have a root beer float?"

I told Lauren I was surprised that Wyatt ate everything and that I was shocked at the power of the root beer float. We discussed the possibility of Wyatt feeding the snow peas to Luna the dog, but we agreed that Luna would not touch snow peas. Also there would be evidence on the floor of snow pea scraps if he did.

Later that evening we all enjoyed root beer floats as special treat.

Later that night Wyatt woke up around midnight claiming his belly hurt. I started to walk him to the bathroom when he puked all over the hallway and eventually the bathroom floor. After we got him cleaned up, tucked into our bed and he was back to sleep, Lauren and I started to clean up the mess. I cleaned up bits of noodles and specks of turkey that were sprayed down the hall in a creamy white goo that reeked of stomach acid and root beer.

We put away the cleaning supplies and got back to bed.

"I hope he is all right." Lauren said.

"He does not feel feverish."

"There is a stomach bug going around his school." Lauren added.

"Well once he feels better he needs to go into a time out."


"I cleaned up noodles and turkey but I did not see any evidence of snow peas, did you?"

Lauren laughed."No."

"He lied about eating the snow peas." I said. "Now I just want to figure out where they went."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blind Spot

When I take the kids out to public places, like the mall or supermarket, I try to appear to be all cool calm and collected. On the surface I try to give the appearance like I have everything under control, that I am giving the kids their space, letting them be kids (without them overstepping their bounds) giving them safe distance to discover the world around them. In my head, under the surface, I am working like mad trying to keep everything and everyone in check, targeting dangers, potential awkward or bad situations and awkward or bad people and steering the kids away. Sometimes, no, most times, under the surface, I stress myself out.

Recently, Wyatt has discovered a way, some strange ability really, to always find my blind spot. If we are on the front yard playing Wyatt finds a way to play behind a bush or trashcan. If we are at the playground he discovers something neat to play with under the sliding board where I can not see him. Wyatt's blind spot ability has manifested itself where he disappears in plain sight. We will be walking through a store and in my peripheral vision I have both kids in sight when all of the sudden Wyatt disappears. It is always at that exact moment when he vanishes, where my stress, under the surface, comes popping up to the top. I have mini panic attacks.

"Where's Wyatt?" I snap in desperation and panic, my heart racing thinking that someone may have snatched him up.

"I right here dad." Wyatt responds from a foot behind me, not hiding, just standing in the exact spot I cannot see him. He is always just a step out of my line of vision.

The other day I took Max and Wyatt to the community theater to help with a set build. They played out in the seats as I worked on stage. I kept my eyes and ears open as I built wall flats and whatnot. I must have asked a dozen times, "where is Wyatt?" Only to have a friend say "he is right there" as they pointed to a spot in the darkened audience, where I swear he wasn't there only a second ago.

I was reading Klutz Encyclopedia of Immaturity the other day and I discovered there is a test to find your eye's blind spot. Here is an online version.* I realized that Wyatt must have discovered a way to always be standing in my eye's blind spot. I already feel bad that he is going to suffer from Middle Child Syndrome but now he is learning to disappear on his own.

*How many people just got a face smudge on their computer screens from trying the blind spot test?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fake Hurry Up Shuffle

Does anyone remember Sniglets?

Maybe there is already a word, I don't know, but I am, trying to come up with a word that describes the following.

You pull into a parking lot at the mall or super market and as you are driving down the entry way a pedestrian steps onto the curb. You, being the nice driver, stop and wave them across, giving them a safe walkway in front of you. The pedestrian then smiles, gives you a silent "thank you" wave and they proceed to cross the street. As a sign of their appreciation they try to hurry across, but they are not really hurrying, they are only moving their arms faster, their legs are not actually going any faster than a normal walk. The pedestrian is really just giving the illusion that they are trying to be faster but actually they are just shuffling across the road.

I call it the Fake Hurry Up Shuffle, but I think there needs to be a word for this. Any suggestions?

The winners from last Friday's contest, the two who guessed the closest without going over are Shannon who guessed $72.14 and Carter who guessed $69. (heh heh). The total Lauren and I spent at the Giant was $72.26. Thanks everyone for playing. Kraft also thanks you. Please check out their website.

Shannon and Carter please contact me at batmeaks at Verizon dot net. If I do not hear from you in the next 48 hours I will have to pick another winner.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Meal Planning

My wife Lauren kind of made a new years resolution to be more organized, which, by some strange rules of marriage, means that I too , somehow, made the same resolution, which by some strange rule means I now have to clean up after myself and put things away "where they belong, not where you think they go."

One of the ways I wanted to try and reign in the chaos was to become more organized with how we do our food shopping. Planning meals and making accurate shopping lists, not only would our day to day lives easier but we could also save money by budgeting and only making one trip to the grocery store.

When we lived in Florida I made an Excel spreadsheet based on the contents of each aisle of the Publix super market where we shopped. It took some time to do but it was worth it. When I made our shopping list I sorted the items on the list by aisle number, shopping was never so easy. I never had to back track in the store because I forgot to get peanut butter and pass the snack aisle again and accidentally put 2 barrels of cheese balls into the cart. I shopped efficiently which saved time and money. Since moving back to PA I have yet to make a list like that.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Edelman who were doing some work with Kraft Foods. They wanted to know if I would interested in reviewing Kraft's new APP for the BlackBerry, Kraft Food iFood Assistant. Their website said the APP had a built in shopping list function which I thought would be perfect for me. Downloading the APP to my BlackBerry was free and Kraft offered to send me an AMEX gift card to "try the APP". Here is a disclaimer: I have been compensated by Kraft Foods to cover the cost of groceries to try out recipes and features on their iFood Assistant Lite 2.0 and to conduct a reader giveaway. My opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to post positive sentiments Kraft Foods or their mobile device offerings.

After receiving the AMEX gift card Lauren and I decided to try Kraft's 1 Bag 5 Dinners feature on their website. I clicked on the various menu buttons, adding the ingredients to my shopping list which would be accessible from my BlackBerry. I also printed the list and recipes from their website as backup. Lauren and I thought the whole experiment in planning our weekly meals would be fun and how cool that our first try would be on Kraft's dime. Lauren and I also put together our regular food shopping list for the week and we headed to the Giant Food Super Store.

Once in the store I tried to open the iFood application on my BlackBerry. It would not open. There was no decent signal. I then remembered that I can never get a decent signal in any large box store, ever. I kept trying and trying to load the APP but it would not work. I tried by the deli, nothing. I tried in the bakery, nothing. I tried in dairy, meat and seasonal sections and still nothing. It was very frustrating. It was good thing that I printed the list. We filled our cart with the Kraft ingredients as well as other items we would need and proceeded to the check out.

The check out clerk gave us our total. I swiped the AMEX gift card to compensate for the Kraft purchases. The card did not work. I swiped it again, nothing. There was that awkward moment where the clerk kind of rolled her eyes and looked at me like I was an idiot that did not know how to swipe a card. I told her it was a an AMEX gift card so maybe that was the problem. Which she then confirmed that it was a problem. Giant Food Stores does not accept American Express. I did the whole credit card shuffle in my wallet and presented my bank card to pay for our food.

Our fun experiment was becoming annoying.

Sorry, this post just became a Dennis Story (a Dennis Story is any story that goes on too long, named after my brother Dennis who does not know how to tell a short story).

Anyway, the actual recipes that we tried for the week, the whole 1 bag 5 meals, were all really really good. Each recipe for the week included using Kraft Lite Zesty Italian Dressing which really added a great flavor to each meal. One of the meals we used the dressing, instead of oil or butter, to saute onions, which I thought was a great idea. The APP itself is a great way to get recipes although I prefer just using their website. The practicality of the APP, being on a mobile device is not really, well, practical in my opinion. The shopping list feature, which to me is the one thing you would need the mobility of the APP for, could use major improvements. I do plan to use the Kraft website more often in the future for their recipes as well as their meal planning tips. They have a section Prep-and-Freeze which looks cool and useful.

As part of the deal for me trying their iFood Assistant, Kraft gave me two $50. gift card to give away to readers. So for a chance to win a $50 gift card we are going to play Price is Right. In the comments the two people who guess the total dollar amount Lauren and I spent at the Giant on our shopping trip (closest to the amount without going over) will receive one of the gift cards. Only one guess per person and I will not accept duplicate amounts so please read other peoples guesses. The gift cards are only valid for the US (but not at Giant).As a hint we spent over 40 but under 100 bucks. Remember the total is not just the Kraft items but our whole shopping trip. I will stop take guesses on Sunday 1/24/2010 at midnight. If you do not have a Blogger account (or a way for me to contact you) leave a comment but also email me at batmeaks at verizon dot net.

I will contact the winners on Monday.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Not Popular

I was telling Lauren how I emailed Potopabfc (President of the Official Poop and Boogies Fan Club) Alisha on Facebook asking for her input on an idea I had for the club. I may or may not have sounded like I was bragging to my wife about how I wanted to do a special give away just for FB people now that I had 103 members. I may or may not have stressed the fact that I had over one hundred fans.

Lauren laughed and said, "You only have a 103. Wow I have 104 fans on my Gigglepotamus page and I don't even update."

I was like...Wha? Wha? Wha? And I may or may not have called "shenanigans."

I then told her I was going to un-sign up from her fan club so we would be even. Then she threatened to un-sign up from mine.

I then told her I was going to post this and she said, "I call shenanigans. You are going post this on your blog just so you can try to be more popular."

Which may or may not be true.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I am the primary hunter gatherer for my clan. Since my wife and children refuse to paint images on our walls of me coming home with boxes of buy-one-get-one-free Stove Top Stuffing I have to brag to people about the awesome deals I find.

This past Saturday's hunt I came home with 11.5 pounds of pork. The Acme Market was having a sale on a Hatfield (a local meat supplier) bone in pork loin combination, which was a package of ribs, center cut chops and a sirloin roast for 99 cents a pound. (A side note, Lauren thinks I do too much impulse buying when I shop but seriously, 99 cents, I had to get as much as I could.) I felt very good about my hunt, very manly.

Me William. Me hunt food.

Part of the testosterone fueled caveman in me wanted to tie the package of meat to the hood of my car so everyone in the neighborhood could see the bounty of my hunt, but I didn't. I was, however, lucky enough to have my neighbor and Lauren chatting out front as I pulled into the driveway. I thought of holding the plastic wrapped, foam bottomed beast over my head and chanting as I unloaded the car, but I didn't. I carried all of the other groceries into the house first and them I made a big display of having to get the last bag.

As I carried the bag, with two hands mind you, I nodded to Lauren and my neighbor and said, "Acme is having a great sale on pork. I got 11 pounds of it right here."

I puffed out my chest a little bit hoping the two women would ask to see what was in the bag. I wanted to show the fruits of my hunt. I needed to brag, or boast, or something.

Lauren said, "Good Lord. We don't need that much meat."

My neighbor faked a smile and said, "Oh, I don't eat anything that walks on four legs."

I knew in the back of my head that pseudo-vegetarians would not want to see a package of butchered chops and ribs. I was deflated, but I did not give up hope.

"Oh that's okay I only buy pork from two legged pigs." I said hoping I could show the awesomeness of my purchase.

I got blank stares.

They went on to discuss how my neighbor only eats meat of the two-legged variety like chicken and turkey.

Then something happened to me which was very weird. Just as I was about to say something, a little image of Lauren rolling her eyes, her face turning pink and her apologizing for me, flashed across my brain. I opened my mouth, but thought better of what I was going to say, for Lauren's sake. This must be what a filter between the brain and mouth is like. I struggled to not say the thing I was thinking of, mumbled something and went in the house.

Later I told Lauren about the strange struggle in my mind about the pork conversation.

"What were you going to say?" Lauren asked me.

"Well when she said she only eats two legged animals I was going to ask her if she knew any good chimp or human recipes."

"I would have laughed at that." Lauren said.

"Great." I said. "The one time, in the history of our relationship, that I actually thought before I spoke, completely wasted."

Sidenote-My neighbor is one of the nicest people anyone could be lucky enough to have as a neighbor. Her decision not to eat meat is, as she explained but I did not include in the above post, a personal, health conscience decision. This post was not about her choice, or anyone else's choice to not eat meat.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Looking Ahead

Last year I wrote a post about all the things I wanted to write about in 2009. I liked the way that “looking ahead” worked out for me. A few of the stories on my 2009 list did not happen so I will include them on my list of hopeful posts for 2010.

I really want to thank all of you who stop here and read my blog on a regular basis. I really enjoy the feedback, comments, links, laughs and community that y’all provide me every day.

Seriously, thank you.

What I hope to post about in 2010: Poop and Boogies turns 5 (with a possible give-away), a story about me winning the lottery, how I lost 20 pounds, a guest post by my brother Anonymous, stories about the show (the Pillowman)I am acting in, how I got to meet various bloggers, finishing begatting my man space, stories from the time I worked in the nightclub business, my trip to BlogHer, Frankie Pickle book review and how I had lunch with the author, making an appearance on Saturday Night Live (a dream of mine since High school), The Accident Story from when I was 11, A story about how I surprised my wife for her 36th birthday this March with diamonds (oh crap she reads this blog there goes that idea. I will need to think of another idea now.), meeting more famous people, how I was tied to a chair in 2nd grade, tripling my readership, a post about how the Official Poop and Boogies Facebook Fanclub (thanks Alisha) membership gets to the 150 mark, the story of my allergy to a tattoo, a post about taking MY mom to a book signing, a Bigfoot sighting, working with more advertisers, a road trip story would be great, William turns 40, more I Could Have Been a Contender stories, taking my mom to get a tattoo, How Edamame is overrated, my one day as a substitute Sunday School teacher, how I got a book deal, my college years (I did not go to college) stories, living in my car, and how I won blog awards.

I hope I can be funnier, more positive, and a better writer this year.

Some of the writings I listed above are events that have yet to happen. Some are stories from my past. There is an old saying that goes something like "If you travel the road to the past it is often littered with missed opportunities. Be careful you don't trip over them."

What I plan to do this year is explore that road to the past and pick up those pieces of "litter" and save them in the garage, (just like my wife saves pieces of moulding and chair rails and old mirrors or scraps of fabric, "because you just never know when you can use them"). Every now and then I will pull one out polish it and make a post out of it.

Please leave me a comment and let me know if there is anything you want to see here on Poop and Boogies. Or tell me whether you plan to call this year Twenty-ten, or Two Thousand-Ten or Two-Zero-One Zero.

Thursday is de-lurking day (brought to you, for me, by Rudecactus and Greeblemonkey), which means you are supposed to leave a comment. De-lurk, leave a comment.

Monday, January 11, 2010


I was sitting on a bench at Dee's Dock in Wildwood NJ, in 1983, watching the water skiers cut across the calm surface of the bay when I first felt the burning and itching sensation around my midsection. I thought that maybe I had been bitten by some green-head flies. I threw the empty BBQ Chips bag and empty Birch Beer can in the trash thinking that maybe they were attracting the flies. A few minutes later I could not stop scratching my lower back and waist. A few minutes after that I ran the one block back to my uncle's shore house to investigate the burning in my pants.

Once in the bathroom I lowered my swimsuit and was horrified at the sight. Red welts the size of baseballs, raised a quarter inch from the surface of my skin, covered my stomach, waist, thighs and, yes, all parts in between. I cried out for my mom. When my mom looked she winced. She then, of course, calls my Aunt Kathleen, her sister, into the bathroom to investigate. Aunt Kathleen was a nurse, she would know what to do. There I was, 13 years old, standing naked in front of my mom and aunt as they poked and prodded and discussed the rash and welts that were covering my privates. Parts of me were so, inflated, so enlarged, so puffy, I thought that they were going to think...well, like I said, I was thirteen. I didn't know what to think. It was so, very embarrassing, my face was as red as the welts. They decided I had a bad case of hives. Hives usually appear at the warmest part of the body which is why they were all over my midsection and groin. That was when I learned I was allergic to certain red food coloring.

When I was 20 I had the same reaction to some type of "pizza" flavored snack. I took some Benadryl to ease the itching of the hives. Thirty minutes after taking the Benadryl I was taken to the ER because my throat started to close up. This is when I found out I was allergic to Benadryl which is the most common drug used to help with allergic reactions.

Over the years I have had episodes of hives and various allergic reactions to various foods, including an allergic reaction to a tattoo (a story for another time). But all of the reactions were most likely caused by the food coloring or dye.

Last Wednesday morning someone at work brought in some chocolate covered pretzels that were leftover from the holidays. I helped myself to a few as a mid-morning treat. A while after eating them I could feel my lower lip start to swell up. I thought that maybe I was getting a pimple or maybe I got bit by a bug or something. Although the lip stayed swollen the irritation went away. Around 11:30 I had two Hershey Kisses as a pre-lunch snack.

When I got home at noon for lunch Lauren looked at me and said "Good god! What happened to your face?"

I told her I was having a reaction of some sort to a bug bite or something and that nothing I did or ate that morning was out of the ordinary for me. Which it wasn't. When I returned to the office my brother, LW, who I work with, started calling me the Elephant Man. The entire left side of my face was swollen. It was at this point that the hives started kicking in. But they didn't start at the usual "warm parts of the body" spots. They went up and down my arms and face. Now I knew I was having an allergic reaction I just did not know what from.

Later that night, after breaking out again after eating some chocolate chip cookies, Lauren convinced me to take some Benadryl. We had the "dye free" kind and she thought it would be okay. It was almost 20 years ago that I had a reaction. She convinced me that my allergies may have changed over that time (you know the whole "you body re-generates new cells every seven years" thing). I was no longer allergic to certain red food coloring. Something else was causing my reaction now. So maybe she was right, maybe I was no longer allergic to Benadryl.

I took half a dose. My hands swelled up like balloons. I made a doctor appointment for the next day.

This is my lip 3x its normal size.

My arm covered in hives.

My hand at normal size for comparison.

My hand before the Benadryl.

My hand after Benadryl.

The doctor gave me some steroids and cleared it all up. Apparently my body has changed over these years. I am no longer allergic to red food coloring. I am still allergic to Benadryl. I am now allergic to chocolate.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Best Instructions

Lauren picked up a toy cell phone for Jackson's first birthday. We can record our voices and play them back on the phone. Jackson's older brothers also love the Hellophone. They have been doing their best to "share" it with each other.

Which, I guess, is the reason why the manufacturers of this phone printed the best set of instructions. Ever.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Third Wise Men

365 days ago I was woken up by my wife at 5:45 am.

“Bill, I either just peed my pants or my water just broke.”

“What?” I quickly sat up in bed rubbing the sleep from my eyes.

“I think my water broke.” Lauren said.

“You think?” I responded searching for my glasses.

“Well it’s not like it went ‘Glug -Glug’or anything.”

We made some calls, arranged to have someone watch Maxfield and Wyatt and we headed to the hospital. We were sitting in the triage room by 8:30 am waiting for someone to determine if Lauren was in Labor. She said she was having minor contractions but nothing that would make her think she was giving birth. The other two births (here and here) she went through were so completely different she was not sure. It looked like this delivery was going to be like the first time she gave birth. They confirmed that Lauren’s water had indeed broken.

While in the triage room Lauren was hooked up to several different monitors, pulse rate, heart rate, fetal heart rate, contraction-contraption and I think a few others. The nurse started to ask Lauren medical questions as I watched each digital display screen trying to determine what each one meant. As the nurse documented the charts I decided to ask Lauren some of my own questions.

“Do you keep any secrets from me?” I asked still studying the heart and pulse rate monitors.

“What?” she asked back in a somewhat annoyed tone.

“Do you have a separate bank account?”

“Bill, what are you talking about?”

“I just figured that since you were hooked up to these monitors that I would be able to tell if you are lying to me. It is kind of like a lie detector.”

The nurse gave me a weird look. Lauren said something about me being a dork and asked if I could tell whether she was telling the truth about that statement.

They moved us into a birthing suite by 9:30 and we waited for the doctors to visit. I made sure Lauren was comfortable and we waited and waited but nothing was happening. Lauren’s OB-Gyn Kenobi, decided to give her Pitosin, a labor inducer, at around 12:30 to move things along.

During the wait we discussed the baby's name. We had not decided on a middle name and I suggested that since it was January 6th, Little Christmas, we should name him Balthasar or Melchior after the Three Wise Men. Lauren quickly shot those names down.

We waited and waited. At one point in the middle of the afternoon we could hear the woman in the room next to us deliver her kid. I am not kidding when I say this; I have never heard a woman scream and holler and carry on as much as that woman did. It was like a scene from a movie. A scary movie. Lauren and I could not help but chuckle, cringe and listen in amazement, from the other side of the wall.

I think the woman’s screaming made Lauren’s body kick into gear. Her contractions grew more intense and closer together. Sometime around 7:37PM the OB-Gyn Kenobi told Lauren to start pushing. He then asked me if I wanted to watch the miracle of birth. I declined. He gave me a look. I told him I did not need to know how a car worked just as long as it did, that is what a mechanic is for. I told him he was the mechanic.

Three and half minutes later, at 7:41 PM, Jackson was born. My third boy, I now had three wise men.

Happy 1st Birthday Jackson.

We celebrated on Sunday. Jackson liked the cake but not the mess.

Picture stolen from my wife's Facebook page.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Literal Sign

My sister-in-law Shannon put together a Snap Fish photo album of my father shortly after he passed away. It took me a while to actually order a copy. When I did finally get a copy I quickly flipped through the pages, smiling at the images of my dad during various phases of his life. There were pictures of him with every person in our family including every one of his grandchildren at the time of his death. I then stashed the book under the coffee table somewhere and forgot about it.

When the the first anniversary of my dad's death came around last year I was a little preoccupied with the pending arrival of our newest baby. Part of me was hoping that the new baby would be born on the anniversary of Dad's passing, to kind of make January 2nd a happy day (I also thought the same thing a few weeks earlier on the anniversary of Lauren's father's death but she would have had to go into labor early for that). I figured if my kid was born on the 1st year anniversary of his grandfather's death it would be a sign, of some kind, that everything is okay. When 1/2/09 came and went with no baby, I pulled out one of my dad's funeral mass cards, read the prayer on the back and chalked it up to "not meant to be" type of thing.

Four days later Lauren gave birth to our new baby boy. While in the hospital I was looking for signs. Why? I have no idea. Maybe it was because I remember my dad sitting in the waiting room when Maxfield was born in the same hospital 5 years earlier. Maybe it is because I remember sitting in a waiting room in another wing of the same hospital as my dad slowly drifted away from life. I think that births and deaths make people look for signs. I looked at every name tag of every person that entered the birthing suite looking for a sign from dad. I noted every room number and significant digit. A nurse was named Violet, wait a minute, my dad used to sell products to nurse-eries that grew Violets. The serial number on this contraction/heart rate monitor thing-a-ma-bob is 4E077W5237, wait a minute 4077 is the army hospital in the show M*A*S*H and my dad loved that show, and my dad knew someone named Bob.

I know, stretches.

Sometimes those signs are figments of an overactive imagination. Sometimes those signs are just coincidence. And sometimes there are just no signs.

Lauren and I were very protective of the baby's name. Everyone knew it would most likely be inspired by an artist but no one knew the inspiration would be Jackson Pollock. We brought Jackson home a couple of days later and went about our busy lives of raising, now, three kids. At one point during those first couple of weeks of having a newborn in the house, and maybe due to a lack of sleep or some strange melancholy, I said something to Lauren about Jackson never meeting either of his grandfathers. We discussed it briefly, talking about looking for signs and chalked it up to "not meant to be" and moved on.

A day or two after that conversation I was dusting the living room (I am sexy that way) and I pulled out a bunch of books and magazines from under the coffee table. I saw the photo album of my dad and still feeling a bit melancholy decided to look through it. I smiled at the images of my dad. I closed the album on my lap and noticed there was a collage of pictures on the back cover. I never saw them before. My eyes immediately zeroed in on this photo of my dad in the army.

I took it as a sign. A literal sign.