Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Week Between

My dad worked as a department manager at a Sears in the city. One of his departments was the Garden Center, which during the winter months was converted to the Christmas Center. The week after Christmas was always a busy week for him dealing with returns, clean-up and converting the area back to the Garden Center. When I was kid,10,11,12, 13 years old, I would go with a few of my brothers to work with my dad during the week of Christmas break. We were off from school, he needed the help and I am sure my mother didn't mind that we were out of her hair the week between Christmas and New Years.

Our jobs included fixing and repackaging returned Christmas lights, clearing and sweeping the warehouses, sorting returned ornaments, and breaking down cardboard boxes. We worked hard. We were never on the official Sears payroll but my dad made sure he always gave us a few bucks for our time. But I think the main reason why some of us went to work with my dad was because of the McDonald's lunch break. We rarely went to fast food places as a kid and the opportunity to eat McDonald's was huge deal.

Lunch time would come, dad would hand the oldest a couple of fives and tell us to walk to the McDonald's for lunch. I remember feeling so cool that I got to walk in the city without any parents and buy my own lunch. We would pig out on burgers, fries and milkshakes making sure that we spent every last nickel knowing there was a possibility dad would ask for the change when we returned. I would freeze on the walk back to Sears, carrying my vanilla shake, making sure I got every last drop of the delicious wax-from-the cup-infused-ice cream flavored drink.

When we returned to Sears our work ethic changed, now that McDonald's was behind us. Our jobs included, getting forklift rides from Sears employees named Spanky and Dirtball, playing hide-and-seek in the warehouse, daring each other to see who could hold their tongue on 9-volt battery the longest, and spinning on my dad's office chair. At the end of the day, my dad would come and get us and we would act exhausted from the hard day at work. We would spend the car ride home talking with my dad about the days events and for a brief time we were one of his work buddies.

We would only work a few days that week between Christmas and New Years but the work was like a little vacation from our normal lives. That week between the two holidays has always been the source of some fond memories for me. The work, the fun with my brothers, the time spent with dad, and, of course,  the McDonald's.

The week between was always a good time for me.

Four years ago my dad passed away. He spent the the week between Christmas and New Years in and out of the hospital. After one visit to the hospital on that Christmas morning of 2007 he asked me if I could run to McDonald's for him. He was having trouble eating and he said the one thing he knew he could eat was McDonald's burgers and fries. I drove to the the two closest locations and called two others but all of them were closed for Christmas. Later that week my dad was admitted to the hospital and finally passed on January 2nd 2008 without ever having his McDonald's. It's funny how McDonald's, which was such a good part of the week between now became a source of sadness.

That particular week between Christmas and New Years was a rough one. Since then, each year, the week between has lost a bit of its special qualities. They were just not the same for me. I would find myself feeling down, getting into a funk.

This year, though, I feel like the cloud of melancholy has passed. I don't know why. Maybe it is time. Maybe my attention has been directed elsewhere. Or maybe, maybe, it is all the McDonald's burgers and shakes I have been eating.

Remember the camera adds 10 pounds. Milkshakes add another 10. My New Years resolution is to lose 20.

Happy New Years to you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Time of Year

It's that time of year. The Poop and Boogies family is doing our best to make this the "hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye". Our three boys are at that perfect age for the holiday season and Lauren is making sure this year is one that they will remember. Needless to say we have been very busy with shopping, decorating, cleaning, errands, work, school, parades and driving at night to look at the decorated houses.
Here are some of the highlights.

Lauren taught herself how to make gingerbread houses for the kids to decorate.

After the house was done, it took them about 30 seconds to ask about 100 times if they could eat it.

We went to Feeney's with a few other families to buy Christmas stuff, taunt caged farm animals and pay a visit to St. Nick and give him their wish lists.
After they turned in their lists, it took the boys about 30 seconds to add another 100 items to their lists.

Another memory Lauren wanted to create for the kids was having a day to go Tree hunting. When hunting trees it is important to dress in flashy colors so other hunters do not mistake you for a tree and accidentally cut you down.

After the 15 minute tractor ride up the hillside it took the boys about 30 seconds to pick a tree and then they said "no" to the hundreds of other ones Lauren and I suggested. We now have a very lovely yellowish tree in our house.

Again this year Lauren and I disagreed about our family Christmas card. To look at our past cards go here and here . I only make my card for my immediate family and this is this years card. It had these images on it.

The text of the card said "...let it begin with me. Merry Christmas." I then added small print saying something to the effect of how I was going to do the card in a different way but the kids would not cooperate after drinking a lot of juice.

This year's card is easy to figure out.

I am very thankful that people still stop by Poop and Boogies and read from time to time. It only takes me 30 seconds after publishing a post to check back at least a hundred times looking for comments.

I hope that whatever you celebrate this time of the year you have a happy, safe and fun celebration.

Friday, December 09, 2011

New Flooring

A few months ago I posted a story about how my wife felt compelled to change our fire place. I mentioned at the end of that post that since the fireplace looked so good I was now going to have to change the rest of the of the room. The story of begats, one project begets another.

When Lauren and I first moved into this house we kind of agreed we would not tackle a remodel of the Family Room until our boys were old enough to not pee on the floor or furniture. We kind of agreed that before  re-do of our main hang-out space our boys would not do things like this...
or this...
Both courtesy of Jackson.

We felt we did not want to spend the time, energy or money on new furniture, paint and flooring only to have them ruined by rambunctious boys and bodily fluids. But then Lauren went and built a new mantle.

The Family Room mantle went from this,

to this.

No amounts of urine, vomit, eggs, paint and dog hair could make the rest of the room look any less attractive than it did compared to Lauren's awesome work on the mantle piece. The time had come to begat the Family Room.

Last week I took a week vacation from work to, well, work. I tore out the old carpets and padding that were there for at least 20 years. If I did not get cancer from years of  cigarette smoking, I am pretty sure I will get it from the nastiness that was in and under that carpet. We removed all the old trim, painted the walls, re-ran the cable wires, bought a new couch, added new freshly painted trim and moulding and....and...and...I installed laminate flooring. I am very proud of my work.

The first thing that the boys did after I finished the floor was to put on socks and "ice skate" for a few hours. They only chipped a small piece of the new floor so far.

I hope I will eventually post a complete "after" picture including the couch and the area rug before someone takes a Sharpie to them.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


This Thanksgiving Lauren and I took the family to Lauren's uncle's house in the mountainous upstate Pennsylvania. We feasted with Lauren's cousins, who we rarely ever see, aunts and uncles and some of their extended family. We had a nice traditional Thanksgiving dinner where I ate some of the best pickles I have ever tasted. I know pickles are not traditional but they were that good that I had to mention them.

Due to the distance to Lauren's uncle's house we did not attend Thanksgiving with my family, at my mom's, which was the tradition. We stayed in a hotel Thanksgiving night, which made Max, Wyatt and Jackson happy. The hotel had an indoor pool which we used both before we went to bed and when we first woke up the next morning. If I were to ask the kids what their favorite part of Thanksgiving was they would definitely say the pool. I would say the pickles.

Lauren received a text that Friday morning from our neighbor with a picture of our house. The text read something like "Who did you piss off?"

"Who would toilet paper our house?" Lauren asked.

"Who do you think?" I asked back. "It had to be my brothers. We did not attend Thanksgiving at mom's. They knew we were away. I would kind of expect it."


"Yes. It is like the perfect opportunity. I would almost be disappointed if they did not do something."

After we arrived home and cleaned up the mischief, which also included my car being wrapped with plastic wrap. I made a few calls to investigate who I needed to plot my revenge against.

I found out that I was not the only target of the TP. Apparently it started the night before Thanksgiving, with some late night prank phone calls. Traditionally our family plays a football game early Thanksgiving morning. My brothers Dan and Kevin, the two brothers who live the farthest away, and their families traditionally stay overnight at my other brother's homes to be able to make the game. Dan stays with John. Kevin stays with Jim.

Jim and Kevin thought it was funny to crank call Dan and John. Dan decided he would wake up early and take John's two sons with him to TP Jim's house. Jim and Kevin, in retaliation, took a car load of kids, 6 rolls of toilet paper and some plastic wrap to John's house. From there it became a free for all. The mischief crew then went to every other siblings house to give them the Toilet Paper treatment. My house was part of the Thanksgiving day fun.

While Kevin was standing outside Jim's house, one of Jim's neighbors shouted across the street.

"What's with the toilet paper?" he asked. "Is that some kind of tradition."

Kevin looked up at the big toilet paper covered tree, white streamers blowing in every direction,and without missing a beat replied.

"I think it is now."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Best Lunch

When I was in elementary school I always brought a packed lunch from home.  Being in a big family we rarely purchased our lunches at school.  Most times our lunches were put together assembly line style and was a mix of various plastic bags filled with sandwiches, fruit and or vegetables, pretzel bits or other snack like pieces. We never had the prepackaged snack packs or name brand munchies in our bags. The one thing that was usually in the lunch bag that made our lunch better than any one elses was a note from my mom. That note always made our lunch the best.

In my household Lauren and I take turns making our kid's lunch. When it is my turn I always try to remember to include a note. My notes are often different. I will write a joke or words of encouragement for whatever they have scheduled for the day. I never tell the kids that I am leaving a note. I just slide it into their their book bag or lunch bag and hope that they read it. Wyatt really enjoys the notes and often times he will bring them up during our dinner time conversations. Last week I was speaking with his kindergarten teacher, she told me one of the first things Wyatt does when he gets into class is look for a note. If there is one he immediately brings it to her to read.

Every morning before I leave for work I throw my back pack, filled with work-out clothes, lunch, and paperwork over my shoulder and kiss everyone good bye. This morning as I was kissing Wyatt he whispered in my ear.

"Dad, do not look in your bag until you get to work."

I smiled. "Okay. I won't."

I had one of the best lunches today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Every now and then a friend, family member or neighbor will tell me they like reading Poop and Boogies. Sometimes I will ask them if they remember any specific post or story. The one post that comes up the most is this one from a few years ago.


My mom hosts, on average, about 35 people a year for Thanksgiving. Nine kids, plus spouses, plus 22 25 or do grand kids, it is a lot of people. Each family brings a dish of some sort but my mom does the cooking of the turkey and the stuffing.

Many years back she started to cook more than one bird for the dinner. Since the larger turkey took up all the space in her main oven she bought a medium sized rotisserie oven to cook a smaller, second turkey.

A few years ago the rotisserie oven broke. A couple of weeks prior to Thanksgiving my mom was giving the (now old) rotisserie oven a test run to make sure it was ready. Well, she found out that the mechanism that turned the fowl was not working properly. She asked my dad to take a look at it to see if he could fix it. She did not want to have to spend the money to buy a new oven. She left the oven on a table in the laundry room/back office so my dad could tinker with it.

My dad traveled a bit with his job but he would go in and out of his office almost every day. Every night for three weeks my mom would ask my dad if he fixed the rotisserie. Every night my dad would say he did not get around to it. My mom explained that rotisseries were expensive and if she had to, she would get a new one. My dad would then tell her that he would fix it and not to waste the time or money.

The rotisserie just sat on the table.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving my dad came home early from work and saw the rotisserie sitting on the table. With only 48 hours left until Thanksgiving he grabbed a screw driver and decided to take the oven apart. Later that evening, when my mom and dad were talking he told her that he disassembled the oven but could not see anything wrong with it. He also told her that the he was having a hard time putting the pieces back together. My mom freaked out.

The day prior, that Monday, my mom went out and bought a new rotisserie oven and threw the old one away.

My dad took apart a brand new oven.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Act of God

"I am sorry Mr. Meakim." The woman on the other end of the phone call, from the insurance company,  apologized. "But this is considered an Act of God. There was no property damage so we will not cover the cost of the tree removal."

"But if there was damage to my house, or shed or other property, it is not considered an Act of God?" I asked.

I had already explained to her that the freak late October snow storm caused my neighbor's tree to fall and crash over the fence into my yard. I was annoyed that the insurance company was telling me it was my responsibility to remove the fallen tree. They did not care it was my neighbor's tree. I had already talked to my neighbor from behind us, who is not that great of a neighbor, and he did not care his tree fell into my property. He knew it would be my responsibility and almost laughed it off.

"Again I am sorry Mr. Meakim. This is an Act of God which is not covered." she said.

"But if a Tornado, which is an Act of God, hell it is even called the Finger of God, destroyed my house, it would be covered? I don't get it." I was just annoyed and wanted to argue. What was their definition of an Act of God?

The insurance company representative then started to discuss actuarial stuff and underwriting and deductibles and I knew I was done. I thanked them and hung up. I was miffed by the "Act of God". I  knew that I was going to have to take care of the fallen tree myself.

I started by using loppers to trim off all the smaller leaf covered branches.
The process was slow going and somewhat tedious. I found myself mumbling, cursing under my breath,  irked at this Act of God.

I made tidy little piles of sticks, which would make bundling them easier later on.
With a  borrowed a chainsaw I went about cutting and dismantling the the rest of the tree. Power tools that are used in movies as a murder weapon or means of torture always make me nervous. This Act of God was now making me jittery and sweaty. Jittery and sweaty are not a good combination when operating a chainsaw.

I stacked the large branches in one pile to be used as future kindling. I stacked the larger  portions of the cut heavy trunk to be split and used for future firewood. The Act of God was causing my back to ache and knees hurt.

I went in the house for a few minutes to take a break trying to catch a second wind. This Act of God made me feel old. I was not happy about that. I was a mumbly, jittery, sweaty, achey, cranky old man. When I went back outside I saw that Maxfield, Wyatt and their friend G were moving all of the neatly stacked branches and pieces of wood all over the back yard. It was a mess. I was even more annoyed.

The three boys, who would usually rather be playing video games, were using their imagination and creativity to build forts with the branches. They made the sticks into pretend swords and guns. They moved the stumps to make walls and then drums and then seats. They moved every branch looking for just the right ones to use for their creative purposes.

The three boys worked together building an entire imaginary play world. They did not argue or fight. They played. They helped each other. They mumbled under their breath expressing their ideas for a fort. They were jittery with excitement from finding perfectly gun and  rifle shaped sticks. They were sweaty from all the hard playing.

They took a break to drink some water and catch their breath. I found myself seeking out the right types of branches, cutting them down into the perfect size for a sling shots. I trimmed a few sticks to give them the curve of a long bow. I didn't feel so old any more. When they were done they went right back to their adventures with the fallen tree undoing all of my hard work. I didn't mind.

I was watching the three boys, three friends, having fun and laughing. Boys bonding without a care in the world was another Act of God. It was an Act of God I enjoyed. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hijacked Halloween

I think Christmas lights should be various sized, multi-colored, flashing, gaudy almost Vegas-like type of decoration. My wife, Lauren, feels as though they should be perfectly lined strands of white twinkle lights that make the house look Rockwell-esque and classy. Lauren usually wins the Christmas decoration battle. Lauren usually wins all of the decoration battles. Spring time and Easter she decorates with cute pastels colors and bunnies and Robins, where I would prefer Liberace inspired purple and yellow. Fourth of July she has perfectly placed flags and red white and blue streamers lined across our front lawn, where I would want Uncle Sam shooting fireworks out of his beard. I like flash and pizazz, she likes sophisticated and tasteful.

The only holiday where I ever had a chance of winning the decoration battle was Halloween. I could put out my fog machine, strobe lights and pretend to cook people on the grill and Lauren did not care. I could put out ugly scarecrows and mismatched webbing and it wouldn't bother Lauren at all. She did not mind bold and glaring on October 31st. Halloween was my day to decorate the house.

This year that has somehow all changed. Lauren has taken over Halloween decorating from me. She is making it her holiday. She decided she wanted to decorate. She changed the kids portraits in hall.

 Each child  with their own demonized look.

She decorated the front of the house with Halloween lights. What is considered gaudy at Christmas is perfectly fine at Halloween. I don't get it.

Those aren't twinkle lights all perfect in a line.
That Jack O'Lantern is not symmetrical. It does not look refined at all.
I don't know if Lauren is coming around to my way of thinking or if she is just trying to hijack the one holiday I get to decorate. The Truth be told Lauren did a good job.The house does look good. Maybe even a better job than I would have done.  It looks garish and classy at the same time. Spooky yet friendly. Maybe my ideas are rubbing off on her.

We make a good pair. Happy Halloween.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Count

I remember the moment almost exactly as it happened.

Lauren and I, recently engaged, were in a darkened theater watching the Count of Monte Cristo. I always enjoyed the story of Edmond Dantes and his revenge and wanted to see the film starring (not so well known at the time) Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce.  It was about half way through the movie, Edmond , played by Caviezel, has already escaped his prison, discovered his enormous treasure and is hosting a party in an effort to introduce himself as The Count of Monte Cristo. I don't know if it was the scenery of the mansion grounds, the elaborate regal costume, the palpable air of wealth, or the wavy dark hair and manicured goatee, but I turned to Lauren and I whispered, "I would go gay for him." 

She laughed at my joke. I chuckled. That was the moment. We enjoyed the rest of the movie and now The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favorite stories.

After the movie we stopped by my mom's for a visit. My sister was there visiting as well. They asked if we liked the film and Lauren told them about my man crush feelings towards the Count of Monte Cristo and Jim Caviezel.

From that point on, which was 9 years ago,  any time my mom or sister see Jim Caviezel they will tell me they saw my boyfriend. "I loved your boyfriend in Frequency." "I can't believe your boyfriend is Jesus in Mel Gibson's movie." "I saw your crush being interviewed on the Tonight Show." Which I don't ever mind because, one, I like Jim Caviezel as an actor and two, that seen in Monte Cristo when he descends in a hot air balloon, wearing a cape and carrying a cane he is, well, quite dreamy.

I have been getting calls and texts on a more frequent basis now that Jim Caviezel is in a new TV show called Person of Interest which is on Thursday nights at 9PM. I actually like Person of Interest and the concept of the series. I would consider the show an  intense action/drama with a twist. It is good television.

Last night as we were getting the kids ready for bed Wyatt decided to put up an fight about wearing a pajama shirt. He claimed he wanted to sleep without a shirt. I tired to argue with him but he pointed out that sometimes I don't wear a shirt to sleep. As a parent sometimes you have to choose your battles and I chose to be the loser on this one. Wyatt could go to bed without his shirt on.

We put the kids to bed at 8:45. Lauren and I locked up the house, climbed into bed at 9 and turned on Person of Interest. This particular episode involved a kidnapping of a judge's son. Six minutes into the show a shirtless John Reese, the character played by Caviezel, is being treated for a bullet wound to his shoulder. He was shot trying to stop the kidnapping of a little boy.  Like I said the show is intense action drama.

Two minutes later my phone chirps with a text that reads "Your boy looks great without a shirt!" I immediately think of Wyatt and our argument.

"My sister just sent me a text that says your boy looks great without a shirt." I said to Lauren.

"What the hell does that mean?" Lauren asked.

"I don't know. Did she stop by earlier? Are the boy's curtains closed? Is she out front now looking in our windows?"
"No. Yes, I think they are. What?" was her answers.

"Okay this is really strange. What the hell does she mean? Can she see inside our house? Not to mention the statement itself is pretty creepy."

I was perplexed. Actually somewhat freaked out. I was watching a show where a boy gets kidnapped and then I get a text about my boy not wearing a shirt. My heart started racing a bit. I think Lauren got out of bed to go check on the kids. It was creepy and disturbing, my sister saying that about a five year old. I texted my sister back asking how she could see what she saw.  Waiting for my sister's response I looked back at the TV and saw Caviezel buttoning his shirt. Then I got it. She was referring to my man crush on the TV. My sister was watching Person of Interest.

My sister is not stalking my house. She is also not creepy. I was still a little freaked out though.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


A few weeks ago I was asked by Dove Soap to try out their new men's line of soaps and deodorant. They have some type of campaign going on over at their Facebook Page  they are trying to promote. At the time Dove asked I knew I was traveling to Toronto Canada for a week. Their offer of a free sample of their body wash, bar soap, antiperspirant deodorant and some scrubby thing in a travel bag was perfect timing. I would take it with me on my trip, use only their products and offer them an honest opinion. The best part about their product was the fact that it was all dye free, anti irritant, hypo allergenic, sensitive skin care type of stuff. If you are a regular reader of Poop and Boogies you know I have allergy issues.

I was excited to go to Canada. When I travel I like to experience the place, the people and the food. I like to try the small places and get a feel of the  city. I love to try all of the local cuisine. My understanding of Canadian foods, especially Toronto, was they were known for their beers, whiskeys, wings, sausages and of course Canadian Bacon. Toronto was going to be my food heaven.

I flew into Toronto last Monday. I checked into the hotel and unloaded my toiletry pack of all the new Dove Products. I planned to start my trial on Tuesday. We ate on the go and dinner consisted of some type of flat bread pizza and a couple of micro brew beers. After a long day of travel, work, and running around I went to bed around 9:30 PM. I woke up at 1:00 AM covered in hives. And then again at 2:00 AM  and then at 3:00 AM, 4:00 AM and finally got out of bed at 5. I assumed I was having a reaction to either something I ate or the hotel sheets. I was praying it was the sheets. I had yet to use the new soaps but now I was worried that my current state of hives would somehow be affected by the new products.  I used them any way.

After a long shower my hives went away. I used the body wash, it got me clean. There was only a hint of fragrance which I was indifferent to at the time. I used the Dove deodorant which was taking a risk.  I was going to be working a trade show and I needed to make sure I was not going to get sweaty pits. I really liked the deodorant. I ate a big breakfast of eggs, toast, sausage and bacon. I thought I was getting Canadian Bacon but it was just regular bacon. If you are in Canada and you order bacon shouldn't you get the Canadian stuff? If you are in China do you order Chinese food or do you just order food?

The Dove deodorant claims it can last up to 48 hours. I have to tell you this stuff was working overtime. At some point during the afternoon I was stricken with some type of flu. I felt like I was hit by a bus, I was sweating and I had the chills, but no sweaty pits. I was hoping it was not a reaction to something I ate. I left the trade show early heading straight for the hotel. I stopped by the front desk and requested hypo-allergenic sheets. They told me it would take a few hours. I requested them for the next day. I went to bed without eating lunch or dinner. I was sad I did not get to have more a Canadian experience.

I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I woke up at 1 AM and again at 2, 3 and 4 AM with slight fever and covered with hives. I knew it was the sheets causing the hives. I took another shower using the Dove body wash and felt so much better. I still felt like crap but much better than the day before. I ate a small breakfast with out any Canadian fare just in case I was going to be sick. I worked the trade show again without sweaty pits thanks to the Dove antiperspirant. I started to feel better by the late afternoon and was back to normal by Wednesday night. That night I was so hungry from not eating the day before I pigged out on wings and a burger, you know, comfort food.  I did not have beer or whiskey or any other Canadian food. Another day without experiencing Canadian culture.  When I got back to the hotel, they informed me I had allergy free sheets.

Thursday was uneventful except that we heard  rumours (that's how they say it in Canada with the "ou") there was a work slow down at the Toronto airport. Whenever I need to confirm rumors I always go to Twitter. Twitter told me there was a work slow down. Toronto's airport security was taking out their gripes on international travelers by making them miss their flights. It wasn't a strike but the security was working at slower than half speed. They were calling it a "work to rule" strike. I worked late and settled for a light non-Canadian dinner. We finished the trade show at 10PM and decided to get to the airport by 3:30AM to catch our 6:30 flight. Another day without experiencing Canadian grub, drink, people or culture.

I woke up with no hives, no fever and feeling pretty good for 2AM. I showered and used all the Dove products again. I noticed the scent of the body wash seemed more pronounced. My head or sinuses must have been clearing up. I liked the scent, it was nice, subtle. My colleagues and I were in the first 10 to 20 people in line at the airport. We went through ticketing and customs without a hitch. When we approached security we could tell they were planning a second day of slow down. It was almost comical how slow they were moving. They looked like they were in slow motion.

I handed my passport and boarding pass to the point security guard and she chuckled. "We have a Four S." she said.

"What is a a four S?" I asked.

"Secondary screening." she replied.

The Toronto airport security took on an almost Keystone Cops appearance. Everyone of them pointing me to another agent who was supposed to handle the Four S people. I was told that normally a Four S would have to go into the X-ray Scanner thing but there was no one there authorized to work the scanner. The rules stated that without the scanner I would have to wait or undergo a thorough pat down. I did not want to miss my flight. I started to sweat. I was thankful for the antiperspirant.

I opted for the pat down. I stood facing a wall as the security guard in the slowest possible way started a full body pat down. He rubbed my neck and collar. He slowly checked my arms. He slowly felt under my arms, my sides, my back. He was moving so slow that I started to get nervous. He inserted his fingers into my waste band and slowly moved them around. He slid his hands down my left leg, then my right. He fondled my pockets lingering just a little bit too long on my butt. Just when I thought he was finished, he asked me to face him so he could do the other side.

I went through the process again. It was beyond ridiculous. I was having a Canadian experience that I would not forget for a long time. At one point as the security agent was feeling my chest I swear he took a deep inhale as if he was admiring the scent of the body wash. Thanks Dove for making a product that airport security appreciates. His pat down was either slow and steady because of a "work to rule" strike or because your product makes me irresistible.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Average Parents

When you think of youth sports, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Is it over-zealous soccer moms? Coaches yelling at kids? Dads barking from the sidelines?

Too often the stories about youth sports that appear on the Internet, via news, blogs orFacebook, are about the "politics"of the leagues, bad coaches or bad parents. Stories about fathers assaulting coaches, coaches being too tough on kids, rants about unfair leagues and the "politics" of selecting teams litter the Internet. I understand negative stories are what piques people interests, makes good copy, and sells click-through ad space. I also understand that these stories are the rarity to youth sports.

Every now and then a great heart-warming story about youth sports will go viral, like this one or this one, but again, these stories are rare. These are the extraordinary, positive stories that make good press.

Both the negative stories and the positive stories are the outliers to what is normal in youth sports. I really shouldn't limit this to just sports though. The same could be said for schools, teachers, clubs, and other group activities. We, who absorb the content of the media and Internet, are only really exposed to the extreme stories. We never hear of or read the average stories. I know, I know, "average" does not make good print.

Currently, I am on my fourth stint as a coach in a youth sports league.  I have to say that I have yet to see anything that fits into the extreme, good or bad, in any of my dealings. So far my experience has been average. Every practice or game I see average parents bring their average kids to an average team, to average coaches to play an average game. I watch as average volunteers take time out of their average days to work the average concession stand as other average parents rake and prepare average fields. I listen as average people cheer for average plays, as average coaches give average instructions.

When I stop to think about it I realize that it is the average that is truly exceptional. The average mom who makes sure her kid is at practice on time is doing an exceptional job. The average dad who cheers on another kid for making a play is setting an exceptional example. The average parent who offers rides to and from games for other kids is making exceptional sacrifices. The average parent who gets involved and stays involved, is building an exceptional foundation for their kid as well as others.

We remember to thank the coaches but we, or at least I, always forget to thank all the other exceptionally average people who make youth sports (or clubs) such an exceptional experience.
Photo courtesy of an average parent doing exceptional things
My wife Lauren said to me a while ago, "This is the time when our kids may be forming the bonds of life- long friendships. We need to make sure they are surrounded by the type of people, the type of kids, we want them be friends with 15 years from now."

I think it starts with the kid's parents. Right now my kids are surrounded by a lot of average people and I think it is exceptional.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

High Fives

Most times when it comes to home improvement projects, which we call Begats , I do most of the grunt work. I usually handle the demolition, tear outs, heavy lifting and dirty work. Lauren will do all the refined precise work like, planning, measuring, painting, tiling, and specific carpentry. This arrangement has worked out well for us as a couple and as home owners. You can see our other projects here, here, here, here  and I am sure there are more on the blog somewhere.

Lauren decided she did not like our fireplace. She was determined to change it. The best part was that this project was all in the scope of her area of home projects. I did not need to be involved at all. Which was perfect with the start of football season and all.

The other day, on the radio, I heard the phrase "God high fives over her." The guy who said it was referring to an attractive woman and it was meant that God is proud of his creation and that God is giving high fives to his buddies. I found it to be a funny phrase. I also thought this was a perfect phrase to describe my wife Lauren. Besides the fact that Lauren is extremely attractive, Lauren is also extremely talented.

With the assistance of our neighbor Mr. Jones, Lauren took our fireplace from this:

To this. The entire mantle was built from scratch. Lauren did most of the work.
I didn't even have to help at all. Well I did buy her the Mitre Saw five years ago. And I also helped carry some of the supplies. And I took care of the kids while she was building the mantle. And I did do my best to stay out of her way. And I told her the scores to the football games on the TV. So pretty much the new fireplace was a team effort.
God high fives over Lauren.
But now that the fireplace is done and looks awesome the rest of the room looks a little beat. And of course that means we have to Begat the whole room. We need new walls, new floors, some electrical work and of course new fixtures and furniture. It is going to be a  lot of work, all in the scope of my area of home projects.
So while God is high fiving, I can't help but feel he is also chuckling a little bit at me.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cold Shower

Both Wyatt and Maxfield now take showers instead of baths. I am not sure if I should introduce the old prank of sneaking into the bathroom and dumping ice cold water into the shower. I think it would be funny but then I think about my cousin Frankie.

I spent the majority of my Augusts, in my youth, at my Uncle Bill's house at the shore in Wild Wood Crest NJ. Uncle Bill, actually my dad's uncle (which made him my great uncle and is who I named after) owned an old 5 bedroom, 1 bathroom house a few blocks from the beach. He lived there year round with his brother Bud and their dog Butch. The house was open all summer long to any of his 10 nieces and nephews as well as his 35 great nieces and nephews. From Memorial Day until Labor Day the other 3 bedrooms were occupied by various families vacationing.  Most summers there was also 2 to 4 teen aged great nieces/nephews who had the opportunity to live and work down the shore for the summer with free room and board because of Uncle Bill's and Uncle Bud's generosity. During the month of August my family shared the space with Aunt Kathleen's family and on average there were about 20 to 22 people living in that house.

For most of my childhood in Wild Wood we showered at an outside chain-pull shower spigot attached to the back of the house. We did this for two reasons; one,  so we would not track sand through the house and two, there was only an old claw foot tub in the one and only bathroom inside the house. Upon returning from the beach each day all of the kids would line up near the outside shower head. The younger kids were usually stripped naked and scrubbed down by their parents as the old neighbor lady, over the grayish flat-post fence, smiled and laughed at the shiny white tan-lined heinies. The older kids waited their turn and showered wearing their bathing suits, feeling embarrassed by the old lady's smiling glare. I think she lived for watching the afternoon showers. I am sure she was just a nice old lady but I found her to be kind of creepy.

The summer I turned 14 that all changed. Sometime during the off season, My Uncle Bill had a shower stall installed inside the bathroom. It may have been there all the time but I remember I was first allowed to use it when I was 14. Why do I remember that? Because it was also the last time I used the inside shower stall.  My brother and I had met some girls on the beach and we were going to meet them at the boardwalk. It wasn't a date but it was hanging out with girls and girls required the use of shampoo and soap and deodorant.

I was washing my hair, I had only been in for a few minutes, when I caught the shadow of a person through the textured steamy glass. I know I used the hook and eye lock when I went into the bathroom. But I also knew that sometimes people would use a wire hanger to pop the hook and get in if they had to go. I tilted my head back to rinse the shampoo when I saw a hand reach over the top of the stall. At first I felt the blast of the ice cold water that was being dumped on me. I yelped. But then on my forehead I felth the thump of the bottom of the pint glass that slipped from the hand. Then I heard and felt the crash of the glass as it shattered all over my head and face. I screamed. My eyes stung as soap found its way past my squinting lashes. I looked at the floor of the stall and saw soap and blood turn into green trickles against the blue colored tiles.

"Oh my God. Oh my God." said the voice on the other side of the stall door.

I opened the door and saw my cousin Frankie standing there wide eyed. Frankie was living in the house all summer, he worked as a life guard on the beaches. His parents were not at the shore house at this time.

"Shhh. Shhh. Don't yell." he said. I could tell he did not want to get in trouble for what he did.

I stepped on a piece of glass and cut my foot. Frankie helped me out of the stall. Just then the bathroom door opened up.

"What happened?" my mom asked as she entered. "I heard something break. I heard some one screaming bloody murder."

She saw the blood on  my foot and specks of blood on my face.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

Before I could answer the bathroom door swung open. It was one of my brothers.

"What happened?" he said.

Before I could answer Aunt Kathleen ran into the bathroom.

"What happened? I heard something break." she asked.

Frankie started to explain. I tried to wrap myself in a towel but my mom warned me against it saying that if I had glass on my body the towel could cause the glass to cut me. My mom and Aunt Kathleen started to inspect my head and body for shards of glass. It was a difficult task due to me being soaking wet. They asked me if I was okay.

Before I could answer two more of my brothers entered the bathroom to see what was going on. Then my 13 year old cousin Monica ran in. Then Uncle Bill popped his head in. Then another cousin. I stood there naked in front of an audience of curious people. I was mortified and embarrassed, covered in cold induced goose bumps, a knot forming on my head where the glass hit. I immediately became aware of  my just-hitting-puberty-body and who was looking at me. I started to feel feint.

Frankie later apologized. I never went to the boardwalk that night. For the rest of my time down the shore I showered outside. I would rather give the old lady next door a bit of entertainment than to suffer through another round of the entire house seeing me naked.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Judith Jones

Five years ago I participated in the 2996 9-11 Tribute, where bloggers wrote posts in honor or remembrance of the people who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001. Judith Jones was the person that was assigned to me.  I was only blogging for a year at that time, I was very nervous and I wanted to do a good job remembering Judith Jones. I took the project very seriously. After it was all said and done I received a nice email from Judith's daughter thanking me and telling me I had done well.

Two weeks ago, 5 years after the original post,  I received an email from Judith's daughter telling me that when people ask her about her mother she points them to my post. Words cannot describe how honored I feel about that.

In honor and remembrance of Judith Jones and other victims from 9-11, following is the original post from 2006.


If you Googled the name Judith Jones you would find many different people have that name. A Doctor, an architect, a cook, an actress and many more through the 14 million plus search results. Throughout that search, every so often, a result shows that will usually read “Judith Jones, 53, Woodbridge VA. Pentagon.” It is that particular Judith I want to tell you about.

We bloggers learn a lot about each other from reading each other’s blogs day in and day out. I know more about the life of some bloggers I have never met, than I do of the lives some of my oldest friends. Blogging does that. I want you to get to know Judith Jones. Since it will be mostly bloggers that read this I want  you to imagine what Judith’s blog entries would have looked like if she had a blog.  The following is based on information I have gathered from the inter-net as well as from Judith’s daughter.

Judith Jones' Blog.

July 2000
I went to the beach today. It is amazing how much I love the beach. The beach is absolutely my favorite place to be. There is nothing greater than having the salt air cutting across the beach as I have squeeze the sand between my toes while listening to the waves crash. No I need to change that. There is something greater than that. That would be if I could do all of that and hear the laughter of my grandchildren playing in the surf. I will make sure I take them with me the next time I go.

November 2000.
Thanksgiving was fantastic this year. I invited a few co-workers over to celebrate with my family. It is shame that some of the people I work with are so far away from their families for the holidays. But I guess that is the nature of the military. I am glad that I can share my family with them and hopefully give them a sense of family for the holidays. I also need to remember to bring in a cake next week for “Pat’s” birthday.

Go Redskins!!

May 2001.
I lost a dear, dear friend recently. I knew her for 30 years. She was diagnosed with a terminal illness and it was only a matter of time but it is always sad. I did everything I could for her while she fought this illness. Visiting every weekend. Helping her with her house and doing chores for her. I have two other friends that I help in this way as well. It never gets old helping people. The friend that just passed, I loved playing Rummy with her. There were many weekends spent just playing cards. Now that she is gone I will need to find another card player. Maybe I can teach some of the kids at the church nursery, where I volunteer, how to play. I am sure they will love to learn a few card games.

June 2001
I just love being the “secret mail person” for my grand kids. I don’t know where I got the idea, but I leave them secret notes in the backseat of their car. I always try to leave them a little message. Things like:

Make sure you make your bed in the morning
Make sure you tell your mom you love her.
Don’t forget to say your prayers before bedtime.
Pickup your room before going to bed, that way if you have to pee in the middle of the night you won’t step on anything.

I always sign the notes “Secret Mail Person.” I know that the grand kids love getting the notes because as soon as they get in the car they look for them. I figure it is a way for them to learn a little something from their grand mom.


Judith was not the type of person to have a blog. She was very humble and most likely would not post about all the good things she had done in her life. She was a remarkable person who loved her family, her friends, her co-workers and her grand kids. One story that was sent to me from her daughter was that in the mid 90’s Judith inherited some money. She ended up cutting a check to her church because Judith didn’t need anything and she wanted to make sure that the money was directed to people who had needs. That was what Judith Jones was about.

I write about Judith Jones today as part of the 2996 9-11 tribute. If you Googled the name Judith Jones you would find a doctor, an architect, an actress and you will find “Judith Jones 53, Woodbridge VA. Pentagon.” It is sad that you will not find out about all the wonderful things she has done. All the different lives she touched. What type of wonderful person she was. Maybe now, after I post this, you will.

I did not know Judith Jones in real life. The imagined blog above is based on information that I gathered about Judith Jones and all the good things that she did. She helped others. She volunteered her time to help people in need. She loved her daughter and her grandchildren but she also loved people and did what she could for people. I say again, I know that this will be read mostly by bloggers and most bloggers communicate through comments. Please do me a favor and leave a comment for Judith’s “blog”. Not mine, but to hers. She was a good person and I am glad I got to know her.

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mr. Moyer

My father, back in 1976, decided he needed to expand the size of our house. There were 11 of us living in a 4 bedroom 1 bathroom Cape Cod. My dad wanted make the kitchen larger, add a bathroom, add 3 more bedrooms, while turning one of the existing bedrooms into a family room. My dad was not going to hire professionals, he was going to build the addition himself. The addition was a two story structure which required the assistance and advice from various family and friends who knew how to tackle these types of projects.

One of my dads main advisers was Mr. Moyer. Mr. Moyer lived across the street and was in various aspects of the construction business for a very long time. Every couple of nights Mr. Moyer would survey the progress of the addition. Mr. Moyer was a quiet and respectful man offering his insight and knowledge but never his opinion. Mr. Moyer had a certain way of guiding you to let you come up with your own answers. This is where Mr. Moyer was such a good adviser and what made him such a good person. He never said "I would have done it different." or "I think it could be better." He knew his opinion did not matter but only that the job was done, done right and was safe. Mr. Moyer was a man of few words and would simply nod his approval at certain completed tasks. If something was not right he would tell my dad what needed to be changed and sometimes help my dad finish. But as I said Mr. Moyer never offered his opinion.

My dad told me this story many many times about Mr. Moyer.

One day while Mr. Moyer was looking at the progress of the addition my dad asked him for his opinion. My dad told Mr. Moyer that he bought some discontinued window frames for a really good price. They windows were priced so low due to the fact that they were very tall frames that stretched almost from ceiling to floor. My dad was not sure if he should put them in the kitchen and family room or if he should use the frames upstairs in the three bedrooms.

"What I am afraid of " my dad explained,"is that if I put the windows upstairs in the boys' bedrooms, they are so low to the floor that if the boys are rough housing, well , one of them could end up going through the window."

Mr. Moyer looked up at the second floor addition as if contemplating the scenario just laid out. He took a drag from his cigarette. He looked at my father, then back to the second floor. A puff of bluish smoke clouded the smile on Mr. Moyer's face as he chuckled and exhaled. He turned to my dad and said, "When I was a kid we threw my brother Richie out a window."

And with that my dad decided the tall windows would go on the first floor in the kitchen and family room.

Mr. Moyer never needing to offer his opinion.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Social Security

The Social Security Administration lists the name Jackson at #42, Wyatt  at # 84 and Maxwell (Maxwell was the first name even close to Maxfield)  at # 134 and just Max at # 148 of top boy names for the 2000's decade. The SSA lists the name Henry at #102.

Last weekend Lauren, Max, Wyatt, Jackson and myself went to a Camden River Sharks minor league baseball game with some friends of ours, including their 9 year old son Henry (who is also my Godson). The game was not sold out and our two families spread out over two rows of seats along the third base line.  As is typical for any type of event like this there is always some type of parenting in public (PIP) that involves the repetitive use of the children's names and at an above-normal volume.

"Max, let those people through."
"Max do you have to go to the bathroom?"
"Max, do you want a hot dog or a burger? Max? Max? Hot dog or Burger? Max are you listening?'
"Max, stop hitting your brother."
"Max do you have to go to the bathroom?"
"Max, sit down so the people behind you can see."
"Max do you need to use the bathroom now?"
"Max, stop... feet...the chair... front of you." You know because sometimes as a parent you just cannot form a proper sentence.
"Max, can you please keep an eye on your brother."
"Max, I am going to the bathroom, do you need to go?"

It was the bottom of the third inning, I was leaning back to ask my friend in the row behind us a question when I heard the woman in the row in front of me say "Max, you really need to stop doing that."

I snapped my head around.  First I wanted to see what Max was doing that required a total stranger to correct him and second, to see who was the person that was correcting my kid. Max was sitting quietly eating his fruit snacks. I realized that the lady in front of me was talking to a 4 year old little boy sitting beside her also named Max. I chatted with the lady and her son for a minute or two and we chuckled at the name coincidence. I mean if the kids were named Mike, or Jim, or Jacob, or Matthew I would get it. But two Maxs so close together was weird and cool. I then felt sorry for the little boy, figuring he probably was freaked out thinking that the guy behind him kept asking him if he had to go to the bathroom.

I told my friend behind me that there were two Maxs. He and his wife laughed. They just had the same kind of conversation with people in the row behind them who also had a son Henry.

The next day my family was at a birthday party for one of Max's friends. The adults at the party consisted of a mix of parents of kids from different aspects of the birthday boy's life, like from swimming or school or neighbors. All of the parent's kind of knew each other or knew of one another but rarely interacted with each outside the common bonds of the birthday boy and his family.  It is these types of parties where people may or may not be introduced with an indicator of where they are from. A point of reference for each other  in the social situation. The point of reference that provides a bit of security during conversations, you don't feel like you are talking to strangers. This point of reference sometimes becomes a last name.  Like "Bill, this is Diane Fromthepool. Diane this is Bill FromLittleLeague." Or "Lauren this Alexa Christian'sMom. Alexa this Lauren Wyatt'sMom."

We all chatted in the kitchen as the kids ran around playing. I positioned my self in a perfect spot in the kitchen, near the food and drinks, with a view of  the TV (Phillies game) in the family room to my right, and to my left a view of the dining room table (kids eating).

To my right, with a view of the family room was Diane Fromthepool. To my left was Lauren, Amy Fromaroundthestreet, and Janine Afamilyfriend. The host and her husband fluttered in an out preparing food and what not. At some point I was introduced to Janine's 4 year old son Nicholas. I made a mental note that Diane's son was also named Nick or Nicholas. Nicholas is the 14th spot the SSA top names for the 2000's which makes it more common for there to be a couple of Nicks together at the same party.  We all made small talk trying to get to know one another with out embarrassing ourselves, or in my case embarrassing my wife.

Janine's Nick, somewhat shy and not familiar with most of the other kids, needed the security of his mom in the social setting and hung out in the kitchen for a while. He eventually discovered that there was a dog in the family room and he went in to pet and play with the dog. At some point Diane's Nick also went into the family room to play with the dog. There was a commotion, laughing followed by growling, followed by a small ruckus.

Diane, had the best view of the situation. Her eyes went wide. She tried to say something but sometimes as a parent you just cannot form a proper sentence and she hollered, "Nick! Come!"

To my right Janine's jaw dropped and her head snapped around towards Diane. I am sure first to see what her Nick was doing that required a total stranger to correct her kid and second to see who it was  that was correcting her kid. The kitchen fell silent. There was an awkward moment. Janine's face was full of shock and surprise. Diane turned toward the rest of us shaking her head in that way a parent does to silently communicate to other parent's What can you do? Diane saw the look on Janine's face and realized that Janine thought Diane was barking at her kid. Diane's face turned red as she tried to explain she was yelling at her Nick.

The two Nicks entered the kitchen. The older one with his head down knowing he was in trouble, the younger one seeking the security of his mom because some strange lady was yelling at him.

Parenting in Public is often entertaining.
I laughed for a good five minutes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Do you think you should do that?

I think I was ten years old, riding double, on the back of my best friend's bike, when I thought it would be a good idea to cover his eyes.

"Do you think you should do that?" Bob (probably) asked since he was steering the bike.

We were just cresting a small hill by the Methodist Church near Round Meadow Elementary School.  Bob with his eyes covered missed the path on the down slope, we hit a tree, then hit the steep side of the hill and then hit the street. Bob broke his front tooth,  bad. I thought it was a good idea at the time, two friends on a bike being daredevils.

When his parents asked me why I thought it was a good idea I told them I was checking to see if Bob had a radar sense. The second time I tested his radar sense we crashed and Bob ruptured his spleen against the upturned handle bars.

"Do you think you should do that?" My dad asked me as I set out to change the spark plugs on my  1976 Ford Granada. I was 19 and it was my first car. I don't think he asked me because he thought I could not do it. I think he asked me because he knew that I could not do it.

"How difficult could it be?" I replied. "I don't have the money for a real tune up." I thought it was a good idea at the time, saving money and learning about cars.

It took me 6 hours, a phone call to get the car towed and something like $200 dollars for the mechanic to fix my mistakes.

"Do you think you should do that?" is a rhetorical question that my wife asks me from time to time.  "Do you think you should do that, putting that red shirt in with the whites?" "Do you think you should do that, feeding the boys Skittles and Slurpees right before bed?" "Do you think you should do that, drinking all that vodka, you have an early morning?"

The other day I thought it was a good idea to try to cut the kids' hair. We have clippers, why not use them right? How difficult could it be? I would save us money, time and aggravation.

Lauren came out onto the porch in mid cut and asked "Do you think you should do that?"

It was too late.

His hair, or lack there of, is not as bad as this picture shows.

Besides he is incredibly handsome no matter how foolish his father is.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I took the boys to the Five Below store (No Five Below is not sponsoring this post although I think they should since I just wrote about the store the other day too) and before we left I told both Maxfield and Wyatt to grab some of their money from their banks.

"I am going to bring 3 dollars." Max said knowing he was not going to bring all of the money from his bank.

"You may want to bring more Max, just in case." I then explained the concept of the Five Below store. "So maybe you should bring 5 bucks."

"No. I only need three dollars." he said confidently.

Wyatt collected 2 dollars from his bank. He took only his silver coins, he left the pennies. Two bucks is all he had.

There were over a hundred different things at the Five Below store that both boys wanted. They grabbed and touched everything in the store; cap guns, rubber balls, markers, cars, candy, water pistols, yo-yos etc. They held up each item asking the same question every time. "How much is this dad?"

They both decided on the same type of toy, a small Transformer figure which cost 3 dollars. I told Wyatt I would spot him the extra dollar. Max then said since I was spotting Wyatt an extra dollar could I spot him 2 dollars and asked if he could also get Marvel Super Hero Squinkies. Wyatt then said our favorite phrase in our house. "That's no fair." pointing out Max was going to get two things. ("No Fair" is said in our house about 150 times a day. Jackson,our 2 year old, even says it.). I then told Wyatt I would get him Squinkies as well.

We went to check out and placed the four items on the counter. I handed Max his three dollars, Wyatt his two. The teller told him it would be $10.60 with the tax. Both boys placed their money on the counter equaling five.  I only had a $10 bill so I scooped up the kids money and handed the teller the ten spot with a few of Wyatt's coins for the tax.

"Why did you take my money Dad?" Max asked.

"Yeah, Dad. Why did you take our money?" Wyatt chimed in.

I did my best to explain how I used my money for the purchase and how I used their money to pay me back.

"But that was my three dollars." Max said.

"No, Max I paid for the toys with my money and the three dollars you had is paying me back. You still owe me two dollars."

"But you used my coins dad." Wyatt said. "So I don't owe you anything."

"Actually Wyatt you owe me three dollars."

"But you used my coins. You didn't use Max's money. That's. No. Fair." Wyatt started to raise his voice.

We quickly left the store.

The boys played with their new toys the whole ride home and for most of the day. Every now and then Max would ask for his money back.

"Can I have my three dollars?"

"Max it is not your three dollars."

"You took my money Dad. And you put it in your pocket. It is mine."

"But I paid for the toys with my money." I said.

"And mine." Wyatt added wanting credit for the 60 cents that was originally his.

"No Wyatt I used my money and your coins became part of that."

"But you took MY money. I want it back." Max demanded.

"And mine." Wyatt also demanded.

"No. That's not how it works guys." I said.

We had the same conversation several times throughout the day. Max and Wyatt never made an attempt to pay me back.  Every now and again Wyatt would ask for his coins, Max for his bills. Finally after about the tenth request for the money I tried to explain how it all worked.

"Max you only brought 3 dollars to the store. Three single dollar bills. You bought two items. One was 3 dollars, the other 2 dollars. How much is that? Five dollars right? You only had 3. So I was giving you two dollars. Wyatt's toys cost $5. He only brought $2 so I was giving him $3.  I only had a ten dollar bill. So I took your three singles and Wyatt's money to replace the money I was spending out of my money. So Wyatt OWES me 3$ and you owe me $2. Do you get it?"

Max's eyes tilted towards the ceiling, letting the numbers tumble in his brain.

"Kind of. So If I owe you two dollars, and you took my three dollars doesn't that mean you owe me a dollar in change?"

I am never going to get my money back.

Monday, August 08, 2011

How I Run

So far, in 2011, I have run 303.72 miles. I have ran all of those miles while carrying an iPod Touch (I need music to run) in my left hand with the slack of the earphone cords wrapped around my fingers. Everyday from when I first started running, last year, I told myself I should buy an armband or clip case for my music player. I never did. In the winter my hand froze carrying the iPod. In the summer months, the iPod slips and gets all gross from my sweaty hands.

The other day we went to the Five Below store and I finally bought an armband to carry my music player.

I think the Universal Armband knows a little bit too much about my running.

Except I am also Slow in the light of the day too.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I have been trying to get rid of the spare tire I have had hanging around my midsection for the past 10 years. I have dieted and I exercise with some moderate success.

Two weeks ago I told my wife Lauren I was going to start working on my abs. I told her I wanted to get them in better shape in hopes that she would be more attracted to me.

Last week, while I was on vacation, I was lucky enough to get to go the gym a few times with Lauren. Besides my normal treadmill and light weight work outs I decided to add a few abdomen exercises. My wife and I were working on some of the newer machines, trying them out, when I jumped on the Ab Coaster machine. This machine requires some semblance of coordination as well as some semblance of abdominal muscle control, neither of which I have. But how else was going to get 6-pack abs for the wife so I gave it my all.

I knelt on the pad, gripped the handles and rocked my hips back and forth and tried my best to contract the muscles I was supposed to be working. It hurt. It hurt a bunch. But I kept at it. I gritted my teeth and concentrated on my hips rocking. Bearing down I thrust-ed my knees towards my chest crunching my abs. I was breathing hard and fast, a whooshing-huffing-grunting noise escaping my lips with every repetition. Sweat was burning my eyes. My face was red from exertion. I scrunched my face, eyes squinty, bottom teeth protruding in determination to get the most out of this machine and to cope with the pain.

Thrust, crunch, huff. Thrust, crunch, whoosh. Thrust, crunch, grunt. Thrust, crunch, huff.

In mid crunch I looked up at Lauren, my inspiration for my new abs, who was stretching a few feet away. She was just standing staring back at me with a look of horror and a tinge of embarrassment on her face. Her eyes went wide with some kind of dumbfounded astonished expression, which I knew was directed at me. She started to giggle. I finished my set and I started to giggle a bit as well. I knew I must have looked ridiculous.

I walked over to her (which I think she wanted to walk away from me so other people in the gym would not think we were together) and said "I told you was I doing this so you would be more attracted to me."

 "It is not working." she said as she shook her head laughing.

"I mean the end result. When I have the abs of steel. You'll see." I said.

"I don't know Bill," she shook her head. "I don't think I will ever be able to scrub that image out of my brain."

Monday, July 25, 2011

How I Spent My Summer Vacation...

I spent it on windows.
Well, actually we spent our vacation money on windows back in December. We needed new windows. Ours were very old and drafty. We could get rebates and other tax breaks if we bought the right energy efficient windows in 2010. So we used our vacation money to replace most of the second floor windows. Any money we would have "saved" due to lower heating bills was probably just lost in the past week's heatwave.

Last week I was on vacation. When people asked me what we were doing I told them about the windows and said my vacation was more of the Staycation kind. I then joked, saying I would spend each night I was off from work in a different room just looking out my new windows.

If you follow my Facebook feed you would have seen that the family and I did our best to make the time off fun. The first night we went to the park and had a Playcation.

We did manage a couple of day trips making it a Daycation.

First we went to Bushkill Falls. I may have mentioned it on the blog that I have an anxiety issue when it comes to heights. I also suffer a bit from stress and phobia about the safety of my kids. Let me just say that if you have any kind of these issues, Bushkill Falls is not the place for you. First of all, the words "Kill" and "Fall" are in the name. Second of all, you hike and walk along boardwalk like planks and steps on the edge or face of a mountain and look at the beautiful scenery and waterfalls from hundreds of feet above the ground. Lauren loved it. The kids loved it. I had a nice time. Look at the picture below. I walked on those steps chasing a two-year-old who liked to try and stick his head through the railings.

Oh and we also saw a bear. A real bear, in the wild. It was kind of cool and scary. We were in the car when we saw it so we were not in any real danger although I did find myself locking the doors just in case the bear was going to try and carjack us. I did not want this to become a Preycation.

The other day trip we took was to Atlantic City, NJ to spend some time at the beach. Although we did not see any bears we were greeted by this scene when we turned down the block of our hotel.

Four police cars blocking an intersection while they made an arrest. We were in the car when we saw the action so we were not in any real danger. Although I found myself locking the doors just in case the criminals could smell the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we had packed in a cooler. We did not want an Altercation.

Atlantic City was fun but it was kind of foggy and more like a Greycation. The next day we went to the Boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ to go on rides like roller coasters and log flumes. (Yes Karen that was me you saw last week I wish you would have said hello).

We spent our money on windows.

We spent our time at the the pool swimming. We spent some time fishing. We spent some time playing in the backyard. We spent time hiking. We spent some time eating out. We spent some time in the ocean.

We spent our time together which was a good vacation.
What did you do, or what are you doing for your vacation?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Drinking Jenga

When I was in my late teens-early twenties I used to play a lot of Jenga. It was Drinking Jenga but it was still Jenga. To play Drinking Jenga you take every wooden block and you write different phrases on them like -Drink 2, or Give 3, Or Give 1 and Take 1. The basic rules were when you removed a block, you did what the block said. If you pulled a Drink 1 out you had to take a sip of the beer in front of you. If you pulled a block that said Give 4 you could make the other people paying drink. Whoever knocked over the tower had to finish the drink in front of them. There were different ways to play too, where you would pass the beer to the left or the right etc. It all depended on how much Busch Beer (pounders in a can) we could purchase from the shady joint on Cheltenham Ave. The more people drank, the more fun the game became. I think at one point there was kissing and drinking involved (kiss the person to the left or across or what have you). The game Jenga has never been the same for me since

This past Christmas the boys received a Jenga game. We played several times over the winter break and had a good time. One day in January I decided to make the game more interesting and I wrote a bunch of the letter "C"s on the blocks. Every time Maxfield or Wyatt had a successful turn with a block with a C,  I would give them a Skittle. They loved playing this way. We played Cookie Jenga, M & M Jenga and of course Skittle Jenga.

We have not played Jenga in a few months.

The other night we pulled it out for family game night and played the good old fashion way. Wyatt was very upset that there was no candy involved. He kept looking for the blocks with the letter "C".  He got angry every time I told him there was no candy. It was becoming a long and frustrating family game night. We put the Jenga away and decided to play Chutes and Ladders. I am not a fan of Chutes and Ladders.

During the Chutes and Ladders I kept trying to come up with ways to make it more interesting. Any Suggestions?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Favorite Part of the Day

Almost every night, when I put the boys to bed, right before I kiss them goodnight and turn off the light I ask them, "What was your favorite part of the day?"

I ask this question for two reasons. The first, I am curious. The second I think it gives them a good image to think about before going to sleep. Maybe that way they will have happy dreams.

This Summer I have been collecting their answers.

"Playing my DS."

"Going out for water ice."

"Beating you at Wii bowling."

"Picking Strawberries with mom."

"Going to the comic convention."
"Going swimming at G's house."

"The fireworks."

"Catching Lightning Bugs.."
"The cookie on the face game."
"The water balloon fight."

"The water balloon sling shot thing."

"Getting my band at the swim club."

"Swim lessons."
 "Going on the slip and slide."

"Going to Dairy Queen."

"Going to see Cars 2."
"Throwing rocks at the park. "

"Getting Slurpees."
"Watching Wild Kratts."

"Playing baseball and getting a hit."

"Going to Zach's house."

"Going fishing."

"Catching a fish."

I then say good night to the boys and turn off the light. It is at this point that is my favorite part of the day.  I can relax knowing that they are safe and tucked into their beds and that they and I are lucky enough to have favorite parts of the day.