Thursday, December 28, 2006

Charlie’s 12 Days of Christmas (Part II)

Man I have so much going on this week. There are so many things I want to write about, I really wish I had made more of an effort to post during the holidays. I don’t want to leave anything out, but at the same time new stuff is going on and I want to get past Christmas. The first section is a list of things I’ve got bouncing around in the ole noggin and then I’ll try to wrap up Christmas (no pun intended…on second thought…yes that pun was intended)

First Things First
**I’m missing my ruler at work. I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I’ve had it for 4 years and I like it. I neeeeed it!! It’s all metal and wobbly with cork on one side for those times I need it to stick, then slick on the other side for when I’m scooting down the page. If you have seen it please let me know. I’m thinking about posting signs up around my cube farm.

**I’ve got a couple of job opportunities floating around in the Ether and I am in impatience overdrive. One of them I mentioned yesterday and the communication is mostly through email. The other is something local and I’m waiting on a call. Both are killing me. I’m checking my email and calling home to scan the machine every half hour. It’s making it hard to find time to do anything else…like the job I’m getting paid to do during the day…at this moment

**I got several clothes for Christmas that fit now, but I need to lose weight. So do I lose the weight and risk not getting to wear the new outfits or return the outfits and risk not being able to lose the weight that would drop me down to the next size? I’m not worried about the shirts; it’s the pants that are sorta baggy but not too baggy. I spilt a drink in the car the night before while I was wearing a pair of the jeans. I think I mooned half the city as they drove past me while I was pulled over on the side of the road scrubbing the seats of the station wagon.

Christmas Traditions
With this being Fred’s first Christmas we really wanted to set up some of our own traditions and modify others that just wouldn’t work now that we have a 9 month old. The previous years have been all day extravaganzas that started out 7:00 a.m. and last till 10:00 p.m. This was great when it was just the two of us, unfortunately there was no way the baby would be happy that long. No matter what he got from Santa! So instead of making 4 trips back and forth across town, we started early trying to consolidate. This sorta worked, we went to my moms on Christmas Eve and Pops came to our place Christmas morning (we intended to circle back to his place Christmas night but the baby just couldn’t go without anymore sleep). That knocked out 2 places, but it made Christmas Eve almost as long Christmas day once we factored in Church and the Mimi’s that night. Plus we just ended up staying longer at the grandparents on Christmas day and only really saved an hour and a half. Who knows what we will do next year. After 13 hours with only a 30-minute nap, Chief RedFace came calling and he only wanted new toys.

One thing we definitely did right was Christmas morning. We stayed up extra late/early wrapping gifts, opening all of Fred’s toys so he could jump on them the second he saw ‘em, we laid out cookies for Santa, carrots for Rudolph, Lucy wrote a note and took pictures, then we took bites out of the food and snapped a couple more pics just to prove Santa came, I even managed to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas at about the 1:30 a.m mark. It’s weird but as much as the whole staying up till 2 and getting up at 7 part of Christmas kinda bites…it also felt like my final initiation into parenthood. I just kept thinking that I was just one of millions staying up all night so that our children would be able to wake up and believe in the magic of Christmas. When Linus stepped up to the mic and told the Christmas story I just…I had forgotten what Christmas felt like through the eyes of a child. With only 4 hours of sleep under my belt I was practically the first one in the next room to see what Santa left behind…Lucy beat me by mere minutes.

Toys R Us
I have to preface this next part by saying that we go overboard on Christmas. I am very fortunate to be apart of two large families and with that comes the fact that by the end of the day most of the time we can’t see out the back of the car. Part of me feels guilty about all that we receive but even if I did say “Lets back off on the gifts this year” nobody is going to have any part of being told how much they can or can’t buy for their only grandchild. I’m not going to pick favorite gifts I’m just gonna talk about the ones that screamed for attention. If I miss anything it was more from lack of time than lack of enjoyment or gratitude.

Dude Fred got two of the coolest things I have ever seen!! The only thing keeping me from wishing I could go back in time and be his age again so I could get my hands of these is the fact that since he’s part mine and they are part his then they are part mine as well. I’m specifically talking about Pooh and Spidey. It’s a tiny Spiderman that spins his hands around and sings “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and I am playing with it more than he is. I may put it in the bed with us tonight (that’s not weird cause Fred is still there too…look for Fred Vs The Bed Part IV coming to a blog near you this month). Meanwhile as Spidey does his dance and shakes his groove thing, Pooh is riding a freak’n turtle around the room and when he stops all you gotta do is clap ya hands to make him go again. How cool is that!!! If only it had one of those things that made him change direction when he bumps into something. I could just sit there and play with Fred by going all “Clap on. Smack Smack” He also got a train with a removable giraffe, elephant, and monkey, a mega block farm complete with tractor and chicken, a hammer with a soft end so it doesn’t hurt so bad when he clobbers ya in the face (it still kinda hurts a little, just ask Lucy…man he got her right in the lip with the handle), books, DVDs, clothes, balls, phones, bubble blowers… I’m tired just thinking about all he got.

9Months and Still Growing
During my little hiatus from all that is Charlie Blockhead, Fred turned 9 months old. That same week just happened to also be the week he learned to clap his hands together. We practiced for a couple of nights and the next thing we knew he was doing it on his own. Now every time he does anything, weather it’s as simple as sitting up or as complicated as raising the roof (the roof, the roof is on fire we don’t need no water let the hmmm hmmm burn), he expects a standing “O”. In other growing baby news, all he wanted was his two front teeth and baby gets what baby wants. Now that he’s got a set of chompers he is eating better than mommy and daddy. During the day while we munch on such delectables as “Turkey Sandwich with mustard” and “Peanut Butter a la strawberry jelly”, little man has been eating pizza, ravioli, mac n’ cheese, and peach cobbler all week at the day care. Now he’s all into something called Puff Corn that is supposed to be kernel-less popcorn (now in butter and cheese flavors!!). Though they look like Styrofoam peanuts that have sat in the sun for to long, they taste scrum-diddly-umcious. When Lucy isn’t looking we play the old one for you two for me game.

All of this is great, but by far the best-kept secret of the holidays was the fact that Fred apparently knows how to stand up and push his scooter around. While at the Mimi’s Christmas Eve night he received a rolling activity center that folds up and turns into this walker type thing-a-ma-jig. He’s sitting there pushing it along on his knees, when being the lover of all things toy that I am; I figured I better check this new piece of equipment out. I quickly discovered it had a handle and folded it out thinking I’d do it once then a couple of months from now when he needed it I would know how it worked. Well that learning experience has zoomed by already, cause when Fred saw it he just grabbed the thing by the handle, yanked himself up on his feet, and off he went right there in front of the whole family. So many jaws hit the floor you would have thought there was a doctor with a tongue depressor lurking around.

Christmas Crumbs
This is just a few quick notes and then that will about do it for Charlie’s Christmas Spectacular. Maybe tomorrow I will ad a bunch picks and include Halloween since I’ve forgot to post them too.
**What is up with those twisty ties all his toys are packaged with? For crying out loud, I had to get a blowtorch and wire cutters just to get “My tag along puppy” out. By the end of the day I felt like I had been installing a barbed wire fence. By the time I get the darn thing open, Fred’s done moved on to something else and screaming for me to open it instead. Like some type of the assembly line where the shirtless bald guy stands over you ready to strike you with his whip the second your pace dips below his liking.
**How much is too much meat? I ate so much ham I think I may officially be part pig now. At one place since I had already had a big meal an hour earlier, I just piled my plate up with turkey and ham. This way I got the best the buffet had to offer and could use the previous meals as the reason why I couldn’t eat anything more. It would be just plain rude not to eat anything after they spent all day slaving away in the kitchen.
**Finally, I have to mention two classic gifts that will forever be in the Christmas Hall of Fame.
1) Lucy picked my favorite picture of baby Fred and had it made into a mouse pad. That is the coolest, most creative thing anyone has ever done for me and I almost hate to use it. She figured that and told me she had it made for the specific purpose of me taking it to work and I better not hurt her feelings. Man I love the thing. It’s like a piece of floppy art.
2) Broccoli pulled a rabbit out of his hat and got a graphic artist he knows in Iowa to make a Charlie Blockhead collage. Not only did she by sheer luck use orange and blue paint (GO WAR EAGLE GO!!!) she read every blog I have ever posted (all 87 of them), hand wrote them in different angles, added pictures of Lucy, Fred and I popping out from the top and sides, she then had it framed. Every time I look at it I see something new. It also had the unfortunate side affect of causing my ego to expand. Man I have written some great stuff in the past!! I don’t go back and read my old articles so I kept asking, “Did I do that?” I immediately hung it on my wall in the family room.

Well that was a Charlie Blockhead Christmas. If yours was half as amazing as ours, then you had yourself a very merry hoho…I know we did.

Till Next time …Late Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Charlie’s 12 Days of Christmas

Man I can’t believe it’s been that long since my last post. This must be what it’s like for a Catholic not to go to confessional once a week. There is soooo much to ramble about, I don’t even know where to start. I’m just gonna jump in there and try to wrap everything up by the end of the week.

Shout outs
I figure first things first I better give props to everyone that helped make Fred’s first Christmas something legends are born of. Gigi, Nana, Pops, Super Steve, Mrs. Mandy, Broccoli, Mimi, Bobbob, Auntie Molly…Thank you so much for all that you did for us this year. You all really went way overboard with your kindness and love. I know they say you can’t put a value on love, but I think some of you were trying (and got pretty close on a couple of occasions). It’s embarrassing to think of all you did for us and I just pray that you know how much it means to Lucy, Fred, and I.
Notice I left somebody out above? Lucy if it weren’t for you I wouldn’t have anything to celebrate. I always knew you were a great wife, but that’s nothing to the kind of mother you have become. I am in shock at how much love you carry inside.

Everything is Safe
I spent one afternoon helping Pops move a safe from his front room to the back of the house. It’s one of those giant gun safes that practically belong in a bank. The thing is so heavy you’d think they set it in the empty lot first and then built the house around it. And he was soooo cool about getting me to do it. He was all “Hey lets go grab some Mexican food and run some errands…then-move-the-safe-and-watch-a-movie” All I heard was food and movie. Next thing I know I’m pushing the 3-ton monster while wondering if I really should have ate that last bowl of salsa. Pops is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, so he could have skipped the food and asked me to move the house instead. I would have still helped and I’m pretty sure he knows that too.

Sticky Situation
Fred went with us to eat Mexican and the next day I noticed something bright red in his diaper. This is nasty and if you want to skip this part I understand….just giving you fair warning…like my favorite children’s book “A MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK”…still reading…okay here it goes.
I don’t normally scan the baby poop for objects. Most of the time I just pull my shirt over my nose and jump in. Poor Fred probably wonders why Darth Vader changes his poopy diapers on the weekends. You know my voice can’t sound the same through two layers of clothes. Also he has something I’m not sure many other baby’s have…he has Man Gas. Not little baby poots that go squeak and cause the baby to chuckle. No Fred farts/poops like a man. Half the time I get accused of the noises he makes cause they are so deep and often rattle the windows. Man Gas alone is not that big a deal but when you have that much force coming from such a tiny vessel and being shot into a diaper that is meant to service normal baby poots…well it’s like dropping a watermelon from a roof and trying to hit a target. Yes you hit the target, but you also get everything around it nasty too.
As I was saying I don’t normally search the remains for debris but something caught my eye. At first I just figured it was a red bell pepper from some of the Mexican rice he had the day before, but then I got afraid it might be blood. I figured I better call in reinforcements. Since Fred likes to “play in the mud” if you don’t wrap things up pretty quick, I called for Lucy. It turns out that sometime in the past couple of days, Fred ate a sticker. We don’t know where it came from, just that it had a ladybug on it. Now that little man is sampling table food, he must have figured it was just another puff-puff. A flat sticky ladybug shaped puff-puff.

My Little Side Project
I completely meant to post at least once the week before Christmas. I had this whole “Year in Pictures” thing planned, but I got sidetracked. I won’t go into details but I am working on another website that might actually earn me some cash. Like everyone one else on this planet I could use a couple extra bucks. I was offered a chance to write for a new website and ended up spending a few days coming up with a couple of posts to serve as my audition. Cross your fingers, I want it badly!!! This will not mean I will quit Charlie Blockhead, I just may only post once or twice a week instead of 3.

Boom Boom Chik-a-bow-wow
I’ve mentioned Fred loooooovvveesss him some Barney. He is The Purple Prince of Peace around our house. He’s got this one song that just burrows it’s way into your brain and refuses to vacate the premises. “Boom Boom ain’t it great to be crazy, boom boom ain’t it great to be crazy. Silly and something something all day long, boom boom ain’t it great to be crazy” Those aren’t exactly the correct words but Lucy knows them by heart and sings them non-stop to Fred. I can never remember the words and end up singing something from NickleBack or 3-Doors Down.
Well last week Fred gave his mommy her first nickname “Boom Boom”. It seems that she may have sang this particular song one too many times and is now fighting her new moniker for all she’s got. You should hear them, “Boom Boom” he says. “No! I am Mommy MOOOOOMMMMMY” “Boom Boom?” “MOOOOOMMMMYYYY” “Mommmaaaaa”
Just to bug her I add the Chik-a-bow-wow to the end cause it sounds like 60’s porn music.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Something really weird happened this morning. I bumped into an old friend of mine while dropping Fred off at the “Hill”. Now this alone is not enough to make an interesting post, but just four hours later Lucy is sitting at her desk and in walks another old friend we had lost contact with over the past five years. What are the odds of that? It’s probably not as staggering a statistic as I would like for it to be, but it’s still pretty odd that both connections would be re-established in the same day.

My half-sister (I hate that term. From now on I’m just going to refer to her as my sister) lives in a big city and it looks like my brother (still in Iowa) will end up in Nashville. I think I’m happy with my tiny town though. I wrote once about how everywhere I turn there is a story from my past waiting to be told. The big city just seems to have too many strangers for my tastes. I can’t imagine doing something as simple as reading the daily newspaper in a larger place. Here we don’t read the paper to find out about the news, we read it to keep up with old friends and enemies. Don’t get me wrong; the front-page headline gets our attention, but the Region section and the Local Crimes report keeps us buying papers. Lucy full admits to reading the obituaries first to see if she has lost an old friend and second to get a heads up on customers who will no longer be making any deposits.
Everybody is connected in this town. Take the two people we found today. During high school I ate lunch with Stephanie everyday. We were part of the same circles; hung out some on the weekends etc…the last night I really spent any time with her was on graduation night. A bunch of us all crammed into a nissan sentra and drove out to some natural land bridge 2 hours away at 1 in the morning only to have everyone chicken out and sit in the car for an hour debating the existence of hungry coyotes and forest dwelling homeless serial killers. I remember I just got the new PM Dawn cassette and I made everyone listen to it. Lucy thinks they sing, “I’d die without shoes” also featured in the movie Boomerang. So today I’m dropping Fred off and there she is. Married, two kids, and teaching at Fred’s daycare. Our kids might even eat lunch together at the high school someday.

Matt was one of the groomsmen at our wedding. We had worked together years back at the same grocery store where Lucy and I met. On Saturday nights would drive out to an old dead end two streets from where my office is now and get drunk while screaming Jimmy Buffet to 20 of our closest friends. It was his truck I jumped out of at just about the 35mph mark. I still have nightmares of dangling off the side while seeing the left rear tire whiz by as I skid to a stop on the hard asphalt. This was not the act of a drunken individual, but merely that of a blockhead who couldn’t tell the difference between 5 and 35mph. I hid it from my parents for 2 days until the pain just got to be too much. My mom made me bite a towel while she poured the peroxide and dug the rocks out of my shoulder. I still shudder at the sound of bacon frying. It was Matt that swore to my mom that I had not been drinking and he did everything he could to help me out. I think his exact words were “I even offered to poor my vodka on him to help stop the infection ma’am.”

After the wedding he moved away and until today I had no clue where he was. Turns out he moved back a few years ago, couldn’t find us in the phone book, and assumed we had also moved. He works for a large company that does business with Lucy’s bank. They sent him over to cash a check today and there she was.

I know there must be a reason people choose to live in cities like New York or LA…but for the life of me I just can’t seem to think any at the moment. In a city of 8 million people do old friends ever meet again?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

SURPRISE!!!!!…you weren’t invited?

We went to a surprise party the other night and as a self-centered individual I have to say that these things put way too much pressure on the invitie (hey it’s my blog I will make up words if I want to).

I’m not even talking about the part where you lie to the birthday girl although that’s a pain in the butt too.

“So I guess I will see you Sunday at Church”
“No remember Tuesday…oh um…wait that’s next week…yea see ya at Church…um goodbye…” Click beep beep beep beep

My problem is I never know who is invited and who isn’t. Last year we got invited to one and thought that several other people did also. Nope. All week we went around asking people what they were getting the surprisie (new word) for her going away party. All week we heard this “What party? I knew she was leaving but nobody told me we were throwing her a party.”

What do you say to that? We went with “I’m sure they just haven’t gotten around to asking you yet.” What we were really thinking though was “Dude it’s Friday, the party is Saturday, and they don’t want you there”

What I hate is keeping it from the rest of the people that may or may not also be invited. We are fortunate enough to be friends with a large number of people who we come in contact with on a daily basis and it kills me to have to not talk about something that we might be able to talk about.

For a regular non-surprise party the usual questions are passed between invities.
“Are you gonna go?”
“What time are you gonna get there?” (I hate to be first or last)
“ What are you bringing?” (This helps gauge what we bring. I don’t wanna be the one bringing a $5 gift if everyone else spent $30. This works with food to. You don’t wanna spend hours slaving in the kitchen if the rest of the crew is popping into Wal-Mart on the way there)

With the surprise party none of these questions get answered. What happens is everyone goes around all week trying to break down every sentence from other potential invities just in case there was a clue as to whether or not they got the invitation.

“So what you guys doing Tuesday?”
“Why? What are you up to that night?”
“Oh I don’t know I was just seeing what you had going on this week.”
“We might be free on Tuesday. Wanna get together?”
Crap they weren’t invited!!! “Nah we better just sit home. I think Fred is coming down with something”
“Oh. Ok. Well maybe later on this week.”
“Cool. Maybe we can get a few people together.”
“ That will be fun. We can do it at our place. I don’t want to make it too big though. I’ll just invite 3 or 4 other people. Talk to ya later” Click
“WAIT!!! WHO????!!! WHO ELSE IS COMING????!!!!”

Monday, December 04, 2006

Fred VS Bed (Part III The Snooze Parade)

I know what you are thinking.
No we have not got him to sleep in his bed the full night yet.
Yes we are still trying.
Yes we understand he is almost 9 months old.

However we did figure out that noise is not one of things keeping us from our goal of being baby-in-our-bed-less.

Every night we lay Fred down in his crib and we turn into mime’s.
We tiptoe through the house. Turn the TV way way down so we can barely hear it. If we have to go outside, the doors are gently eased closed so as not to make their usual banging noise. The phone always gets answered on the first ring when baby is sleeping. Conversation is kept to a minimum and a game a charades breaks out every time somebody needs something from the other person.

Saturday night we took Fred to his first Christmas parade. It runs right in front of the Mimi’s and we were sure he would love all the fire trucks and clowns etc. The whole family on Lucy’s side comes over that night and though Thanksgiving was only two weeks ago a ham is cooked and everyone acts like it’s been ages since we last ate together. After the food and a little college football (go Gators!!!), it’s time to step out on the front porch and enjoy the parade/ pick up all the candy that is thrown.

It gets pretty loud. The fire trucks lay on their sirens; air horns are going off, kids screaming for candy. Clowns, cheerleaders, Santa Claus, horses, motorcycles…I could go on describing the parade but you get the idea. So anyway Fred is wrapped up like Randy from A Christmas Story and I think he is having a wonderful time. I can’t see his face through all the scarfs and head gear, but I hear Lucy ooohing and ahhhing to him so to me it looks like he is having a blast. Apparently Lucy thought so too since she kept bouncing and oohing/aahing the whole time. The parade was half over when Lucy shifted him around and realized he was asleep. An entire parade passed within five feet of him, he never woke up. I flush the toilet and you’d think I was in there shaking him.

So this is where we are at: Doors closing, television up so you can hear it, phone ringing, people talking, and a head hitting a pillow are just some of the things that will wake Fred up. Fire trucks beeping, police cars blaring, horses, motorcycles, a full high school band, kids screaming, and cheerleaders shouting put him to sleep.

Good yaaaaawwwwnnnnn Grief!!!