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.