Monday, August 30, 2010


I was in the attic looking for some old documents when I discovered this picture of my wife, when she was about 5 years old, and her father. I showed Lauren the picture. She said she remembers the exact moment the picture was taken. Her dad was testing the timer on his new camera.

The other day, my mom said that Jackson looks so much like Lauren. I didn't really see it.

I see it now.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I was doing my best to teach Maxfield and Wyatt a lesson regarding manners. Sometimes the kids act like kings and demand juice, milk, dessert, the Wii or anything else. After giving into Wyatt's requests at the dinner table and not hearing his response I said, "Your thank yous should always be louder than your requests."

It was a long day and I was in a mood.

I then said to them, "Children need to be constantly practicing their manners. Like doctors and lawyers practice their professions, children should practice their manners, always."

Five minutes later Max farted loud and long.

We all laughed. It broke the tension.

He has definitely been practicing his comedic timing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


My mother sat down at the kitchen table to have her morning tea. She was having a rough start of the day and decided to sit in my father's spot at the table that faced the back window. My dad had been dead for a few months and my mother would occasionally find comfort in his chair. She sipped her tea recalling a conversation they had just a few weeks before he died, before the cancer took over his brain, about how my mom never sees any rabbits in the yard anymore. My dad told her it was probably due to the groundhog living under the shed as well as the neighbors dog that was keeping away the rabbits. As these thoughts ran through her mind a brown Cottontail Rabbit hopped into her view through the window. The windows in my mother's kitchen run almost floor to ceiling and only sit 2 feet above the outside ground. My mother watched the rabbit hop closer to the window and seemingly stare inside. Mom stared back for what she said seemed like 10 to 15 minutes. My mom took the rabbit as a sign from my dad saying everything was going to be okay.

Ray, my wife's father, passed away just a few weeks before my dad. Just a a few days before Christmas actually. I remember the week after Christmas, right around Ray's birthday, Lauren and I were laying in bed enjoying a rare afternoon quiet rest, when a bug flew against the window over and over again. Lauren got up to investigate to find a Lady Bug hanging out on the curtains. A few days later we learned that Lauren's mom had a similar experience at the same time. Max, who missed his Pop-Pop very much, also had a Ladybug experience during that week. We began to call Ladybugs Ray.

Some people believe that the spirits or ghosts of deceased loved ones try to communicate with the living through signs. These sightings or symbols are called after-death-communications; ADC for short.

In 2005 when my grandmother died (my mom's mom) there was a butterfly ADC phenomena going around amongst her siblings. When a family friend, Jeff Toz, died in Iraq there were many deer sightings (my mom used to babysit Jeff before and after school everyday for three to four years. Jeff and my youngest brother Jim became very tight friends. Jeff was an avid hunter and a deer showed up at his funeral which the Arlington guards were very wary and suspicious about a wild animal being on the grounds. When my mom came home the next day from the funeral her next door neighbor told her there was deer on her front yard at the exact same time of Jeff's funeral, doo-doo-doo-doo-dood-doo-doo-dooo-dooooooo. *) ADC.

A couple of weeks after my mom told me her rabbit story I had three rabbit sightings/signs.

1- A rabbit was sitting in my driveway when I came home from Steve G's mother's funeral. Steve G and I were childhood friends. So after a night of thinking about dead parents I see a rabbit.
2- I took my mother-in-law to see Lisa Williams, the entertainer/medium, perform at the Keswick theater. After an evening talking about dead loved ones I pulled into my mother-in-law's driveway and there on her front walk was a rabbit.
3- The third time I saw a rabbit (after my mom's ADC story) was when our family was leaving for one of our cousins/nieces first holy communions (which was the first big family event without my father). I was in the car waiting for Lauren to come out when a rabbit appeared from under a bush, hopped towards the car and just sat there staring at me. Again another doo-doo-doo-doo dood-doo-doo dooooo*moment. We began to call rabbits Skip.

We have also have had many other ladybug encounters. For a while after Ray died wherever Max and Wyatt went they would find ladybugs. Wyatt who usually screams at the sight of bugs would have no problem picking up and carrying ladybugs. There was a time right around Max's birthday where there were 5 ladybugs in his bedroom. ADC? I don't know. Strange and weird? Yes. Last week I was cleaning out the garage and a ladybug landed on the workbench. I said "Hello Ray."

Lately, as rabbits are known (and actually so was Skip) to do, they have procreated. There has been so much procreation, my backyard is becoming overrun by Skips. On any given morning there are at least 5 or 6 rabbits in my backyard grazing on the grass or eating our garden. They are everywhere. They have set up a den behind my shed. There are piles of rabbit poop all over the place. Every morning I sit on my back porch sip my coffee and watch rabbits chew up my lawn and I say "Good morning Skip."

My house is haunted. Haunted by ladybugs and bunnies.

Do you have any ADC stories? Is your house haunted?

* The doo-doo-doo is supposed to sound like the theme to the Twilight Zone but every time I read it it sounds like the spaceship tones from Close Encounters. I am sorry for any confusion this may have caused if you "heard"the same thing in your head.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Dark Side

Maxfield closed his eyes, extended his arm towards the middle of the kitchen table and slowly bent his hand back to a 30 degree angle. Ten seconds later he opened his eyes and looked disappointed. Wyatt closed his eyes and did the same arm motion.

"What are you guys doing?" Lauren asked.

"We're trying to use the Force." Max answered.

"I am trying to move that cup." Wyatt added.

"How does the Force work?" Max asked.

"How does it say it works in the movie?" Lauren answered with a question. I love the fact that she did not answer by saying that the Force is not real or that it is only pretend. She lets them believe. There is a sweet and comforting innocence to the conversation. I am across the room smiling from ear to ear.

Earlier in the weekend, Saturday evening to be specific, I was flipping through the channels and like any pseudo-sci-fi fan, I had to stop when I saw that The Empire Strikes Back was on one of the cable stations. I did not pay attention to what channel, I only saw Yoda instructing Luke. My six and four year old kids saw Yoda too. There was going to be no more channel flipping.

My boys are familiar with Star Wars and some of the characters from toys and Lego video games, but they have never seen the actual movies. I decided to let them watch, knowing the original films are relatively tame. They caught an hour of the movie before it was time for bed. I told them we could watch more at another time. Oh the questions they had as they brushed their teeth and put on PJs. "How did Yoda lift the X-wing?" "Why was Han frozen?" "What happened to p3p0"? "Is Bobo Fett a good guy or a bad guy?" "Why is Dark Fader a bad guy, Max always said he was a good guy and I always pretended to be Dark Fader because Max said I had to be him, do I have to be him because I don't want to be if he is bad?"

Sunday afternoon, while flipping through the channels I realized that the same cable station, Spike, was running a continuous loop of the original Star Wars Trilogy. Another station was playing Fantastic Four. We started to watch the Fantastic Four when after a few scenes I realized it may be a bit too violent for the kids. We switched over the Empire at the same moment in the film that we stopped watching the night before and I let the kids watch the rest of the movie. I sat on the floor folding laundry while watching it with them.

My kids were glued to the TV. I got caught up in the nostalgia and stoppped folding the clean clothes in front of me. I was getting excited to watch my kids reaction when they find out Darth is Luke's dad. They probably already knew because something like that is just part of human DNA strand now, or just embedded in the collective consciousness. But I wanted to see if they, you know, got it.

The Millennium Falcon is trying to outrun Tie Fighters, R2 is trying to fix the warp drive, Luke is engaged in a light saber battle with Darth Vader, the big moment is coming up when a commercial comes on.

I start matching socks when all I hear from the TV is "Tits." I look up at Lauren wide eyed she gives me a look. I hear it again..."Tits."

The commercial is for a roast of David Hasselhoff that will be airing that night. The commercial shows a clip of one the comedians saying something about Pamela Anderson. I was shocked. In the middle of a Sunday afternoon, in the middle of a movie like The Empire Strikes Back they air a commercial like that.

I am no prude. I understand that the station we are watching is a men's station, but, come on, seriously the commercial had to say tits? I was hoping they would not ask what that meant. It is way too soon for my kids to learn about that. I am hoping it is like another 6 or 7 years before Max or Wyatt start asking questions about tits. And if they have as much interest in them as they do the Star Wars movies, well then there will be questions. Right now I like the innocence and imagination of the out stretched arm, eyes closed, using the Force as opposed to an out stretched arm, eyes closed, doing a "tune in Tokyo."

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I decided to wear my super underwear for my trip to NY last Friday for the BlogHer Voices of the Year thing. I knew it was going to be hot, that I was going to be doing a lot of walking and that I wanted to be comfortable. I also thought it would be a good idea to wear a moisture wicking T-shirt (aka a workout shirt) under my dress shirt.

I sat on the vinyl seats of the NJ Transit train for about 90 minutes on my trip from Trenton to NY. I took the dank, steamy D subway train from Madison Square Garden to 7th Ave. I then walked two blocks in 90 plus degree weather wearing a back pack stuffed with business cards* to the event. When I arrived I felt very comfortable in my super underwear. I was sweaty but I was comfortable. I took off my back pack so I could get my invitation when I noticed that the backpack was soaked.

It was then that I realized that moisture wicking under garments was not the way to go. Moisture wicking fabric wicks the moisture away from the body to the outer layers of the fabric. It is designed that air then either cools or dries the fabric. But when you wear another layer of clothes on top of that fabric, like a dress shirt, the dress shirt, or the middle trunk section of your dress pants becomes soaked with sweat. My clothes were moist from my chest to mid thigh.

I stood in the lobby hoping my clothes would dry off a bit. But as my luck would have it I ran into Oh The Joys. We have known each other in the blog world for years and this was our first time meeting. She gave me a hug. I am sure it felt like she was wringing me out. I apologized for being so sweaty.

I walked around the showroom floor for about an hour hoping I would un-dampen. I purchased a copy of The Dread Crew because I knew that Kate Inglis would be signing copies in the lobby. When I approached the table I saw Black Hockey Jesus. I introduced myself and I immediately became nervous/excited and could feel myself sweating. I am a big fan of BHJ. A couple of minutes later I bumped into Kevin. I started talking to him and he said "Man, you are sweating." Which I replied "Well, I am hot." and then I became very self conscious of my sweaty-ness. I was no longer sweating but my clothes were damp.

After the community keynote speakers I went into the various halls to go look at all the artwork that was matched up with the 90 VOTY blog posts. I was excited to see that my post was paired with a photograph taken by Chookooloonks (which will be auctioned at some point in the near future). I then proceeded to do my best to hand out my business cards and network which turned out to be basically me just getting shaking hands and hugging people and getting my sweat on people. I dampened The Bloggess, Laid Off Dad, Kim, Cecily, GreebleMonkey , Father Muskrat and Torrie and I am sure a few others.
Overall I am glad I went to the event. It was great to meet some people whose work in this medium of blogging I really enjoy. The best part was that I got to tell them I enjoy their work to their face.

These are the business cards I packed. I had 80 little tissue packets with a P and B label, you know, because tissues are good for both. I did not do a very good job networking, I still have about 50 packs left.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Lima Syndrome

Last night we decided to order food from a Chinese/Japanese restaurant that Lauren had been wanting to try. Wyatt, of course, refused to eat his dinner. Like any four year old he had his reason. "I don't like that chicken."

"Wyatt you eat chicken all the time." I said.

"But I don't like THAT chicken." he said pointing to the batter-dipped chicken "nugget" sitting on his plate.

We ordered Sweet and Sour Chicken (C97), Steamed Vegetables (D1) and Rice (C30) for the kids. All three items that they normally would eat if we made it at home.

"Wyatt, please eat." Lauren said.

"No. I don't like it."

Maxfield, being the older brother, and knowing that dessert was on the line if everyone did not eat tried to help out. "Wyatt," he said "these are chicken nuggets from a McDonald's in China."

Lauren and I laughed at Maxfield's logic.

Max continued "Kai-Lan eats these."

"No she doesn't" Wyatt barked. He crossed his arms over his chest and pouted.

"Eat the vegetables then." I suggested. "Or the rice. I know you like rice."

"I don't like THAT rice."

He was being stubborn. We told him he would not be getting any dessert if he did not eat. He was fine with that. I told him he not going to be able to get up from the table if he did not eat. He was fine with that. I told him I would get a pillow from upstairs so he could sleep at the table. He was fine with that. I did not understand why he was putting up such a fight, it's not like I was asking him to eat C67 or C17 or J57.

We needed to pick up a quart of Rita's Water Ice for our neighbor so Lauren told Wyatt she was taking Max and Jackson. Wyatt didn't care, he acted like he was calling our bluff. Lauren took the other boys. I was left with Wyatt as my hostage at the dinner table.

We went back and forth with my requests for him to eat and his refusals. He asked for something else to eat. I told him he had to eat what was on his plate. We sat in silence for a few minutes. Wyatt tried to get up to go play with Lego's. I made him sit back down. I stared at him, he stared back. He finally figured out I was being serious, he took a bite of his chicken. He chewed it 4 or 5 times, gagged and spit it out. He asked for some milk to wash down the food. I told him no, he had to eat his veggies. He took a bite of the snow pea, gagged and spit it out. He ate some rice. He knew he was my captive.

We started chatting about the day. A good conversation between a father and his middle child. No one was around to interrupt or divide my attention. We talked swimming, Ben 10, fire engines and Legos. He chuckled and smiled as we recounted the day.

"I was pretty good today dad."

"Yes you were."

"I helped you with the fence." He smiled.


"Can I have some ketchup?"

I got him ketchup. When I opened the fridge I noticed some raw Sugar Snap peas and I placed a few on his plate. He ate them. I squeezed a mound of ketchup onto his plate. He dipped his chicken in the ketchup and took a bite. I returned the bottle to the fridge and saw some left over pasta.

"I like ketchup." he said and he batted his long eyelashes at me.

"I know you do. Do you want some pasta?"

"Just a little bit."

I gave him pasta. We talked some more. Wyatt must have seen my back bone softening and he asked for a tomato. I gave him one which he ate the whole thing. Wyatt then told me that he was full but he still had room for water ice. Just then Lauren walked in with a quart of Black Cherry and a quart of Root beer and I told her Wyatt was cleared for dessert.

She looked at his plate, all the original Chinese food still there, looked at me with a "are you sure" face.

I think I fell victim to a reverse Stockholm Syndrome.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


When I first started to get involved in the blog world in 2005 I stayed in a pretty tight blogger circle. I met most of my blog community at the same "hang outs". The circle consisted of Kristine, Sue and Charlotte, Susie, Circus Kelli, Lois Lane, Cat, Kelli, Eclectic, Nilbo, Bucky, Mainline , Sharkey , and RZDreams and Mrtl and Greeney and Ern and Von Kranki.

Now if you go and click on those links you will see for the most part (except Kristine and Mainline) that all of those people have stopped blogging. I still keep in touch with my original blogging circle through Facebook and Twitter but I do miss their stories. It feels like we all went to the same nursery school. We learned the ropes of blogging together, but when it came to going to elementary school we were put in different districts. Some preferred the Twitter district some preferred the Facebook district, me I kind of stayed in the Blogging district.

Sometime during the blogger explosion of 2006 I "met" some other people and I started to follow them. Pioneer Woman, Bogart, Fadkog, April, Oh The Joys, Rude Cactus, GreebleMonkey, Sarah Sci Fi Dad and there are others. Keeping with the school analogy, these are my elementary school friends. We are still friends. we hang out, they don't really know my nursery school friends, different circles and all of that, but we all kind of know each other. This school is where we started to define who we are and what we do. Most of us ended up in the Parent Blogger category, except for Bogart he is just the cool kid I want to hang out with.

It feels like my blogging world is moving in a different direction again. I am looking to expand my circle. I want to check out different "Middle Schools", if you will, to see if they can offer me the same types of friendships and community I now have with my various circles. Can anyone suggest some other blogs to check out?

This week is the BlogHer conference in NY. Although I am not going to the actual conference there is a pretty good chance I am going to the Voices of the Year Gala and Art Auction on Friday evening. One of my posts was chosen as one of 90 finalists in the BlogHer Voices of the Year, which is cool.

If anyone else is going to the Gala and Art Auction please shoot me an email so I can look for you. at the event.

BlogHer Voice of the Year Gala