Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Healthy Snack

The one thing that the kids on the T-Ball team look forward to the most is the post game snack. Every now and then they are interested in who is getting the game ball but really they just want the snack. At the beginning of the season we set up a schedule so that each player's family would be responsible for the snack for the whole team after different games. We asked that parents keep in mind that one kid has a minor peanut allergy and one kid is a diabetic and that all snacks and drinks should be somewhat healthy. That's the rub.

Trying to find a snack that is healthy, that all 10 players would like, with no peanuts, and most importantly that is convenient to pack up and bring to a ball field is a difficult task. Most parents resorted to bringing soft pretzels (which I love, love me some Philly soft pretzels) and juice boxes. I don't know, it is probably me, but soft pretzels just don't seem like a snack for players after a game. Something salty, heavy and doughy (like their coach) does not seem to me to be a refreshing snack.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Chiquita asking if I would be interested in trying their new fruit bite snacks. I knew that my family was coming up in the snack rotation for Little League so I said yes, but only if I could get enough snacks to give some to the whole T-Ball team. Chiquita said no problem and sent me coupons for free Chiquita snack products.

I went to 4 different grocery stores trying to find their products. I figured since it is new that maybe some stores were not carrying them. When I finally did find them I was not sure what kind to get for the team. They have Red Apple Bites, Green Apple Bites, Apple Bites with Caramel, Carrot Bites with Ranch and a couple of others.

At first I was like, "What's the big deal? It is just sliced fruit. I can slice the fruit myself." But then I read the label that the Chiquita snacks are washed in a calcium and vitamin C solution that not only preserves the color of the fruit but also adds extra nutrients. When I tasted Green Apple Bites I was surprised at how crispy and flavorful they were. I usually eat apples at room temperature and the fact the these packages were refrigerated I think really added to the taste. I know that sounds weird but they were really refreshing.

I packed up the snacks with some chilled bottle water and brought them to our game the other night. After the game the kids all gathered around and asked me what was the snack for the night. I told them apples. The disappointed looks they gave me were like "Awww man. Apples?" but then I showed them the individual packages and that seemed to pique their interest. They all grabbed a pack and tore into them. I am pretty sure the kids loved the apples. I know Maxfield did. Plus there were no issues with the allergies or the diabetic.

I was half tempted to ask each kid if they like apples. If they said yes I was was going to say "I got her number. How do you like them apples?" but then I figured they would not get the reference.

Full disclosure-I have not been paid by Chiquita to offer my opinions on their product. Basically I was given apples. The apples I were given were hard to find, yet once I did find them I found them to be quite tasty. I also think the smaller, more individual packaged apples were better for the kids than the larger packs. Oh Chiquita also said I could give away a prize.

Chiquita has offered me a prize bag to give away to one of the people who comment here. The Chiquita “swag bag” products include a Sidekick Lunch Cooler, Ceramic Mug, Travel Mug, Banana Holder and Energize, Maximize Unisex Yellow T-Shirt. I also have a couple of coupons to give away as well. I will pick one winner for the swag bag and a couple for the coupons at random. I will announce winners next week if I can get into contact with them so leave me a valid email address or something.

For a chance to win the above mentioned prize(s) just leave me a comment answering one or all of these questions. 1. Do you like apples? 2. What do you consider a healthy snack for kids? 3. What do you consider a healthy snack for an adult? 4. When you read the words Banana Holder in the above paragraph what was the first thing that came to your mind?

Monday, May 24, 2010


I used to be horrible with money. I was never a good saver. If I had money I spent it. It wasn't until I met Lauren and it was her influence that helped me learn to be responsible with money. Seriously if it wasn't for her I would be friendless, brainless, helpless, hopeless, unemployed in Greenland. I have always hoped that our kids inherit her genes for money.

We had a yard sale at our house this past Saturday. To keep the boys occupied while we tried to sell our junk, Lauren built them a lemonade stand. Last week Max brought home a sponsorship form for a relay race to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Lauren decided to give the boys some baked goods to sell to give the proceeds to the charity.

I figured the lemonade stand would be a good way to teach the boys about money and business.

I really wish I had a security camera in the lemonade stand.

Max and Wyatt fought over who got to pour the lemonade. They fought over who got to take the money. They argued over who got to give the change. The only time they were not arguing was when they were eating the baked goods. I tried to explain to Wyatt that cookies needed to be paid for so we could give the money to charity. Wyatt went into the money till, took out a dollar and then "paid" for four cookies. Thankfully all of their customers were amused by their antics.

Once Max realized that only the lemonade money was for the boys he became a side show barker pimping only the drink. "Do you want lemonade?" he would yell at anyone who stopped by the yard sale. He yelled at cars that drove by, people walking their dogs, neighbors, anyone that was in earshot. Max really hustled. I think I need to teach him how to do Three Card Monte.

At the end of the day they made $60.00. Twenty went to the American Cancer Society and both Maxfield and Wyatt took twenty.

I tried talking the boys into saving their money. Neither one of them wanted anything to do with saving. We went to the store on Sunday, it seems that Max and Wyatt both inherited my spending genes.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Don't Be Mad

Anytime a phone conversation between my wife and I starts with her saying "Don't be mad Bill, but..." usually ends up meaning I have a lot of work to do when I get home.

Don't be mad Bill, but I cut down all the dead branches from the Birch tree. I need you to clean them up when you get home.

Don't be mad Bill, but I re-landscaped the garden beds. I need you to move all the bricks when you get home.

Don't be mad Bill, but I decided to clean out the attic today. I need you to bring down all the trash and boxes when you get home.

Now don't get me wrong, I love my wife. I love my wife doing all of these projects, but sometimes I do get mad. Like the other day when she cleaned the garage, in preparation of our yard sale and put all the trash in one of the trashcans and asked me to bring it to the curb.

The trash can in the middle, the one that my wife filled, must have weighed 400 lbs. I think it gave me a hernia.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I can barely type this post. I'm hurting.

I am not kidding I can barely keep my arms up on the desk to reach the keyboard.

It all started a few weeks ago after this incident in the ER. Since I had to sit for a few hours, with no shirt on, while nurses looked at me I realized something about myself; I am a very hairy person.

The next day I took my electric beard trimmer and trimmed some of the chest hair that was creeping up my neck protruding from my collar.

The next day after that I looked in the mirror and I realized that now that I trimmed the hair on my upper chest, my lower chest hair and nipples looked kind of wild and unkempt. I trimmed that as well. I remember having contests with my brothers to see who could have the longest nipple hair, now I was cutting them all off.

The next day after that, I looked in the mirror and I realized how silly the hair looked on my belly while my chest was all nice and neat. So I charged up the trimmer and I clipped the hair on my stomach including the "trail to happiness".

The next day after that I found myself trimming all the hair on my trunk and upper legs. I could not stop myself. Everywhere I looked I messed up somewhere, something was uneven, and I had to trim and cut and shear. It was like the begatting of hair trimming. The next thing I knew I was practically all stubble from neck to mid-thigh.

The next day after that, I told Lauren what happened. She laughed.

The next day after that, I looked in the mirror and without the fur coat I usually sported I realized I was fat. With no hair to hide my man boobs, my man boobs looked like, well, really big man boobs. Without the hair under my chest and on my belly I could see just how much of a gut I was getting. My spare tire looked like it could fit a pick-up truck. Everything looked bigger with no hair (yes even that did too except now I looked like some pre-pubescent boy with a large gut.)

Tonight, I started the P90x workout. I am sure you have seen the infomercial for this intense 90 day workout. I did chest and arms. Now I hurt. I can barely type this post.

Part of the program they suggest taking a Day 1 photo of your body (no shirt) to compare it to pictures at Day 30, Day 60 and Day 90. I did not take the day one photo. I am afraid if I did, when I compared it to the later pictures it would look like time lapse photos of me turning into a werewolf, or maybe a human Chia-pet.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

People Watching

When I go to the Kid's Castle Playground I can't help but people watch. My kids play, acting out various superhero shows they have seen on TV, as I watch and eavesdrop on the Real Housewives of Doylestown. I love to people watch. People fascinate me.

The lady in the light blue Nike sweatshirt talks shit about her husband to the dark haired woman in Spongebob printed scrubs. Nike's voice drops to a whisper and a moment later Spongebob cackles with laughter as she puts on her over sized sunglasses. Nike picks up her phone and starts texting.

One woman is dressed way too nice for the playground. Actually way too nice for the weather even. Her kids keep calling to her but she puts a finger up in a silent sign that says "give me a minute". She has her Blue tooth in her ear and she is closing deals as her kids want her attention. Her jewelled sunglasses are more expensive than my entire wardrobe.

I watch a dad try to pick up a large chested attractive dark haired woman. He uses the "single father" phrase way too easily. This is probably his one day in the middle of the week. His sunglasses keep sliding down his nose revealing a uni-brow. He tosses his cell phone back and forth between his hands as if he is nervous.

I get distracted by the woman in the powder blue shorts, running on the path. The sun glistens off her nose, her sweat soaked hair sticks to her forehead, a white wire dropping from each ear. Her sunglasses reflect the trees behind me. She catches me staring and smiles. I smile back.

Two teenagers kiss on the bench in the corner. Their legs and arms intertwined in a weird way trying to touch every part of the other person's body with out it being an inappropriate public display of affection for the playground. The girl's sunglasses sit on top of her head. She is keeping her eye on two smaller children playing in the sand. A tinny beat of music emanates from the iPod ear buds resting on the boys shoulders.

The boy in the Iron Man t-shirt skinned his knee. The little girl in the tie dye tank top want her dad to watch her. Kids yell "tag" and "you're it". Children run in an out of the three story structure buzzing with giggles and cries. The tinny buzz from the iPod gets louder. Cell phones ring and buzz in vibration. Buzz, buzz, buzz.

All the adults, in their over sized, round, Paris Hilton-esque, sunglasses, go from Real Housewives to looking like insects, bees really, hovering outside of their hive. All the electronic gadgets are their antenna sending and receiving signals.

I am no longer watching people.

Monday, May 10, 2010


I was finishing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen when Lauren came down the steps. The kids were all in bed, asleep for the night.

"What do you want to do?" She asked.

I dried my hands. "How about you and know." I raised my eyebrows.

She rolled her eyes. "Is that all you ever think about?"

"What? I can't help it. It is partly your fault. You always look so hot."

She looked at herself in her tattered T-shirt and sweat pants. Her hair was pulled up in a ponytail.

"Oh right." she said sarcastically. "I am so hot in this."

"You are." I said.

"I don't feel hot." She said rubbing her eyes and yawning. "Some days these boys wear me out."

"Well I think you look great."

"Really? You are only saying that because you want something."

"No. You know I still think you are attractive."

" I know. Sometimes I just don't see what you see."

I thought, that maybe, I was winning her over. You know what I'm saying. I put my arms around her waist and gently kissed her forehead. She did not pull away.

"You are like a priceless piece of art work. You are beautiful. You are like a Picasso or the Mona Lisa or any of those old masterpieces hanging in a museum." I said.

She looked up at me. "Really?" She asked.

"Yeah." I kissed her neck.

"Okay." She said. "But just so you know, those paintings, hanging in the museums they are to be looked at." She nudged me away. "You are not allowed to touch those old masterpieces."

That night I really enjoyed episodes of The Office and 30 Rock.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


My older brother Kevin bought his first house from my aunt and uncle who had owned it for 10 or so years. At the very back of the back yard was fairly large hill or berm or abutment (I don't know what you call it) which the tracks to the local commuter train ran. Once Kevin had kids he decided to install a fence around the perimeter of his back yard.

The fencing company that was due to come out in the next couple of days needed Kevin dig up some bushes to prep the area. At that time he, my cousin Bryan T and I all worked together at various nightclubs in the city. Since we mostly worked at night and slept during the day most of the home projects he worked were all done at odd ball hours. Kevin started digging in the early evening hours. As the sun started to set, a light rain started to fall, when Kevin's shovel hit something other than dirt. With the daylight fading he had a hard time figuring out what was in the hole. He moved more dirt to discover an old torn up plastic bag. He tried to pull the bag out but most of it was still buried. After several tries to yank the bag free it tore open in his hands to reveal bones. Lots of bones. Kevin was bit freaked out.

The rain became heavier. The back yard was dark except for the yellow glow from the old porch light which cast long shadows across the slope of the yard. Kevin continued to dig in a wider area around the bones. Half an hour later Kevin had dug up the remains of what he guessed was a fairly large dog. Kevin then made two phone calls. The first call was to our aunt, the previous owner of the home to confirm that she indeed at one time had a dog. She did. She confirmed that the dog Kevin had dug up was hers. The second call was to Bryan T. Kevin asked if Bryan could bring his pick-up truck because Kevin needed to dispose of something.

Bryan T showed up at Kevin's house a little bit later. Kevin called him into the back yard and asked Bryan to help him lift a rolled up carpet into the back of the truck. Kevin asked Bryan to take the carpet to one of the dumpsters at one of the nightclubs. It was dark. It was raining. There was a big hole in the yard and a shovel sticking out of it. Bryan never asked any questions and rode off with the carpet.

I have been told this story several times over the years from both Kevin's and Bryan's perspective. The story makes me laugh every time. I have not heard it in a while and my re-telling it here may be slightly embellished.

I was reminded of this story two days ago when I was digging a hole in our backyard. The hole was for our cat Bogart who died on Tuesday. I don't mean to be rude, but I chuckled to myself as I dug that hole thinking about Kevin and Bryan. I don't know who was more scared; Bryan for seeing the large hole and shovel and being asked to dispose of a rolled up carpet, or Kevin, because Bryan never asked any questions and acted like this happened to him all the time.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Learning to Ride

When Maxfield turned 6, back in March, Lauren and I gave him a new two-wheel bike without training wheels.

Max smiled, then turned sad and said, "But I don't know how to ride this. It is too hard."

I told him all the encouraging things a boy needs to hear from his father in an effort to get him to try the bike out. He refused. The bike has been sitting in our garage, untouched, for two months.

Over the past few years I have written here on Poop and Boogies about my fondness for the author Brad Meltzer. Looking through my archives I have written one , two , three, four, posts about him and his books. Stalking the man for the past few years has made us somewhat Internet friends. We follow each other on Twitter, we exchange emails every now and then, we're like pen pals.

Brad Meltzer has a new book, Heroes for My Son , coming out May 11th. Brad's publisher sent me an early copy of the book courtesy of Brad. Being pen pals with Brad has its advantages. Heroes for My Son is different from anything Brad has written in the past, such as his suspense thrillers, The First Counsel and Zero Game. Heroes for My Son is a collection of stories about real life heroes whose virtues and talents Brad wanted to share with his son. Some of the heroes are famous, names and stories that everyone knows like the George Washington or Dr. Martin Luther King. Some of the heroes are not so famous and their stories need to be shared, like Miep Gies or Norm Borlaug.

Brad Meltzer writes a short synopsis of each of the heroes in the book, but his take on the heroes is not the typical straight forward re-telling of the heroes story. Brad gives each hero his own personal touch which makes the reasons why he considers them heroes so much more interesting. For instance, what makes the Wright Brothers heroes is not necessarily the fact that they were the first to fly, but the fact that they knew they were going to fail several times before they got it right.

Heroes for My Son is a simple and easy to read book but don't let that fool you; the depth and power behind each story is truly inspiring. Each story can and should be read to everyone in the family. It is a great book and I highly recommend it. The day I received my copy of the book, last Wednesday, I read a few of the entries to Max and Wyatt before bedtime. The one entry I read was about the Wright Brothers. I explained to my boys how the Wright Brothers were the first to fly. I then read Brad's words about how every time Orville and Wilbur went out to test their flying machine they brought extra building material because they knew they would crash. I never knew that little tidbit of information and it fascinated me.

"Crash and rebuild. Crash and rebuild. But never, ever give up." I read from the book.

Maxfield and Wyatt giggled at that line.

The next night they requested I read more from the Heroes for My Son but they wanted me to read about the Wright Brothers again. So I did.

Last Friday, April 30th, I went home for lunch. Lauren, with broad smile, told me to ask Max what he did that morning. Max told me that he rode his bike. I looked to Lauren for confirmation. She smiled, nodded and whispered so Max could not hear her, "I was so proud of him I started to cry."

Lauren and Max told me that they went outside and Max decided it was time to ride his bike. In the beginning he was very frustrated because he kept falling. Lauren said she did not even really help him at all and that Max wanted to do it all on his own.

I was a bit taken back because I just missed out on a milestone moment in my son's life. I always pictured that moment as me running alongside of him, letting go of the seat and Max peddling his little legs, riding by himself, as I cheered, arms raised in a V as he rode away. I was and still am jealous that Lauren got that parenting moment.

I asked Max how he did it. He told me, very excitedly, how he rode up and down our driveway, across the front walk, then up and down our neighbors driveway. Max told me he was not nervous. He said he crashed many times but he kept getting back up and tried riding again.

"Just like the Wright Brothers." I said.

Maxfield beamed back at me and said, "Crash and rebuild. Crash and rebuild. Just like that dad."

He then smiled and we went outside to watch him ride his bike. It was all a blur. Not because it went by so fast but because I watched him through tears that formed in the corners of my eyes. I blamed the tears on allergies. Apparently I am allergic to my son growing up.