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."