Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just Another Piece Of Shrapnel

It was a shock to us all when it happened. Now over a year later the reality of the decision is still hitting some hard. Namely myself. I wish I could say I can't imagine what that family went through. Being pulled apart from the inside. Like so many of us however I've been there and done that as they say. The questions never go away. An air of mystery will always surround those involved like the smell of burnt leaves off in the distance. Each wondering if they know the whole truth of how it all went down. The real reasons why divorce was the only option left to take.

It's only natural based on my own personal history as a child of divorce that my first instinct is for the little girl. The entire geography of her existence being ransacked as if someone had broken in overnight and stole those items that mattered the most to her. And essentially isn't that exactly what did happen? Her home was sold, her family cut in half, daily routine shattered. Weekdays with Mom. Weekends with Dad. Who gets her for Christmas this year?

Not once did I think of him in terms other than "How could he do that to them? I guess I didn't know him after all" Best Friend is such a juvenile term. Fred throws it out like a prize at the county fair. Only bestowing it upon those who have earned a special place in his heart no matter how fleeting it may be. Thirty-four year old men don't have best friends do we? We have buddies, the gang, the guys. Still I guess that's what he best friend. After he dropped the bomb everything he knew laid around in him in ruin. Friends like myself were left stunned by the announcement. I never even heard his side. One weekend we were playing golf and the next thing I knew a year had gone by since we had spoken.

Last week we bumped into each other at the Christmas parade. I tried to avoid him, but he pushed the issue by coming up to talk. Good for him. It should have been me that asked how he was doing. Inquiring how he was making it now that things were final. Instead I just responded stone faced answering with phrases like "Same old same old" and "Tell me about it." Letting Lucy carry the awkward conversation. I did manage to say "Merry Christmas". Even as I said it though I began to wonder what his new life was like and how bad things must have been towards the end. Trying to imagine what the final straw was that made him think that there was no repairing his broken home; all the while understanding that once the ink hit the page no one would ever be the same. All my life I have been the victim of divorce, my relationships, my personality, my likes and dislikes, a consequence of divorce....but never the proliferator. It wasn't me who pulled the trigger, I'm just one of the many that got hit by the shrapnel.

When I see my friend again I'm going to do my best to let him know that although I don't agree with what he did, I do hope he's in a better place than he was. That he has my forgiveness. It may not mean much to anyone else, but at least I'll know that I tried to be fair. That I attempted to look past the pain he caused and into the root of why he did it. That if ever he needed someone to lean on, he could still call me friend.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Missing The Big Event

It was all anyone could talk about at work. "Go Gators!!" "Roll Tide Roll!!" "Come on over Saturday we'll be serving gator meat during halftime." At church our preacher worked it into his sermon Wednesday night. The clerk at the Piggly Wiggly asked me if I knew what time it would start. Every wife in town was wondering what they would do with the kids while daddy disappeared for 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon. During a stop for a routine headlight change my mechanic Ken couldn't help but notice my red sweatshirt which just happened to be the color of the Mighty Alabama Crimson Tide. We spent twenty minutes talking about Bama's chances against the Florida Gators. Not only was that afternoon's game a rematch of last year's for the SEC Championship, but both teams were again undefeated guaranteeing a game that would be talked about for years to come.....and I was going to miss it.

After finding out that Lucy and I would be taking Fred to the annual Toy Land play which was scheduled to begin the exact same moment as kickoff, a friend left this on Lucy's Facebook page "I'm just curious how you get Bill to do these things and miss football? Ted does not do anything that will interfere with football so guess where we will be today at 3:00????" The answer of course isn't an easy one because for starters how do you respond without speaking against Ted? Another thing that got me was the first thing my machismo did was take offense to the thought that somehow I had been tricked by Lucy to spend time with my family. Needless to say my first comments to this particular Facebook message were deleted before they ever reached the home page. What I didn't say......what I wanted to say was this:

"Please understand that in no way am I trying to speak against Ted. He seems like a great guy, a good man, and a fine father. I don't know what his schedule is like or what issues he may be facing. That being said what I do know is that last Friday I watched the Alabama/Auburn game. Saturday night I watched three games at one time. Flipping between LSU/Arkansas, Tennessee/Kentucky, and some other game that I can't even remember. Sunday I caught the Colts Vs Ravens. Monday night the Patriots faced off against the Saints. Thursday night it was Oregon and Oregon St. Friday night I watched the last half of Ohio and Michigan St. Before Toy Land starts Cincinnati/Pitt will be on and afterward Texas/Nebraska. Sunday night the undefeated Colts play the Titans who are on a hot streak. Given I didn't watch all of these from start to finish, but I did see a majority of each. I don't know if Ted saw all or any of these. I'm not a baseball fan. I don't like basketball. I play a little golf every now and then. What I like is football and while it's in season Lucy is willing to move things around so that I can catch the big games. For me though this weekend's big event doesn't involve the gridiron. It's seeing Fred's face when Darth Vader sits down next to him like he did two years ago. Or when Spiderman swings from the rafters just in time to save Dora from Cruella de Vil like last year. Hearing the cheers when Elmo and Big Bird come skating across the stage causing Tom to slam into Jerry. Sure the game will be on, but I'll catch the one tonight and maybe the one tomorrow. This afternoon though, at least for me the Big Event is being where my son is."

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Tree Tetris

When you are single putting up the Christmas Tree isn't a problem, because honestly there's really no need for one. I never had a tree during my bachelor days and if ever I was missing the Christmas spirit I would simply go visit my parents. Within minutes I'd be reminded of the "joys" of the holidays thanks to some well placed snide remarks from my stepfather and in moments I'd be on my way enjoying my freedom feeling thankful all the while. Once I got married putting up the tree may have not been the most fun experience in the world, it quickly began to take on new meaning as a series of first ornaments began to be collected.

One from our honeymoon (we were married at Christmas time), one with the anniversary of our first date engraved on it, several others representing various favorite childhood characters. The next thing you know we had to have two trees. The white lit silver tree with the shiny ornaments and glitter covered icicles that faces the street for all the world to see....and the "tacky" tree covered in a million blinking colored lights and along with every ornament from E.T to the Tasmanian Devil. This one of course is every one's favorite because though it may not shine and sparkle like the one facing the street, it's covered with the most memories and mementos of our childhood. Then suddenly you have kids and trimming the tree takes on a whole new meaning.

When a child looks at a Christmas tree they don't see memories of times gone by, they see a thousand toys just begging to be touched. And as you know what goes up must come down. Never was this saying more true than when putting up a Christmas tree in a house filled with wild children. Quickly every parent realizes that every year one ornament must be sacrificed so that the child can feel the quilt of breaking their mother's favorite piece thus stopping all further contact with the tree for that year . We also learn that when it comes to decorating it's all about product placement. Height Plus Heart Equals Happiness. What this means is that instead of scattering ornaments around the tree at random where they can be picked off by any toddler that decides to crawl by, the tree needs to be decorated by importance from top to bottom. Remember that kitty cat your mom gave you as a housewarming gift? Top of the tree. How about that plastic Humpty-Dumpty sitting on a wall? Bottom of the tree. That Miss Piggy ornament your wife has had since she was three? Top of the tree. The light bulb penguin your grandma gave you last Christmas instead of the Ipod you wanted? Bottom of the tree.

First time parents need only look around their house at all the things that are kept on shelves, mantles, and in the top of cabinets to understand that when it comes to kids out of reach is always the best bet when talking keepsakes. The Christmas tree while it may seem like a beautiful work of art that only a Grinch would want to destroy, is actually an open invitation for chaos that your child just can't help but RSVP to. In order to defeat the foe that is grabby hands, remember to attack them at their weakness....they are only 2 1/2 feet tall.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sick Thoughts

"Don't worry Daddy, I will take care of you", that's when I knew things had really gotten as bad as I felt they were. Any parent will tell you that raising a child requires a dose of patience, a pinch of luck, and a heap of will power. No parent is perfect and no child is a cookie cutter copy of another. If you don't believe me just take a peek at the Self-help section at your local bookstore and you'll see a plethora of How-To's dedicated to the topic of figuring out how to keep some type of sanity while living in the asylum. Being a dad is tough enough when things are going good, when you get sick sometimes will power is all you've got. Thank God for Mommies. I can't imagine what things would be like if I didn't have somebody to pick up this week when I'm obviously falling behind.

Nobody wants their child to be sick, but at least when it happens Mommy and Daddy can still keep the ship on course. Everything from work to laundry to sleep is put aside at a moment's notice so that all efforts can be focused on getting junior well again. When the coin flip lands on the wrong side and it's the parents that get sacked with a case of the downers, that's when a parent's job really begins. Like zombies with some Mystical Being forcing every step and lurch, we are bent on making sure our little ones are not affected or infected by our misfortune. Wearing surgical masks and sweat pants, baseball caps and our comfy jacket, soccer games are still witnessed, homework is still assisted, and birthday parties are still orchestrated. Leaving us crumpled up in a heap afterward as our family is put to bed with smiles on their faces.

Even as I write this I can't help but stare at the clock and count the hours left until the school bell rings in the beginning of the second shift. My head trying to do complex calculations revolving around how many hours have passed since I last took my cough medicine and can another dose be had before I'm on duty again. Worrying all the while that I've done what the doc insists can't be done by passing this plague on to the rest of my brood. Simultaneously planning dinner and staving off nausea as I lay the ground chuck out to defrost. It's not about me though. What keeps me going...what keeps every sick parent motivated when they feel their worst, is the feeling we get from knowing that their family is safe and taken care of. And honestly that may be better medicine than anything the doctor can prescribe.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

To Kill A Fly

There's probably more than a thousand ways to kill a fly. If you really think about it I'd guess you'd agree that the possibilities are limitless when it comes getting rid of the pesky things. All that buzzing around your face, constantly trying to land on your head. At first you try to ignore them. Eventually when swatting them away with your hand isn't enough you begin to look for the heavy artillery. A rolled up newspaper. A fly-swatter. A shoe. A paperback book. I've seen some self proclaimed animal lovers catch the fly in a mid-air, open a nearby door, and release the bug just so it can swoop back inside before the door even closes.

As I said for those with a vivid imagination the ways to end the misery brought on by these flying pests could very well be infinite. Today it seems that Fred may have found his own unique way of taking care of the common house fly. All it requires is a full bladder and the ability to hula. Of course it helps to have a momma as nice as the one he has to come behind and wipe up all the pee off the walls, floor, and ceiling, but it's been several hours now and the fly is yet to make a repeat appearance.

Grand Education

This past week a buddy of mine was telling me about the great lengths his father is going to so that his little boy knows how much he loves him. Recently Grandpa moved away because of work and apparently the little guy figured out a creative way to keep in touch. It seems that every couple of weeks the grandson has been writing messages on tiny scraps of paper, rolling them up, and placing them in bottles. Whenever his mom is out he asks to make a special stop so that he can toss the bottle into the nearby river. His reasoning was that since he lived by a river and his grandpa also lived by a river, that eventually the message would make it's way to his favorite pal. Now knowing that water never travels upstream, every time Grandpa paid a visit he made sure to bring back an empty bottle similar to the original. According to my friend's dad the way he saw it was that though he may not know the exact words used....the message was loud and clear.

When I heard this I couldn't help but think of my two grandfathers and how they each have shown their love to me time and time again. Whether it was teaching me how to build the perfect ramp for my matchbox cars, or showing me just the right way to shoot a jump shot, or crawling under that old rusted up car and teaching me the joys of fixing a car with your own two hands; they've always made time for me. And while I've learned a lot I think the most important lesson learned was that family time isn't just watching a movie together or playing some random board game, it also means incorporating your children and grandchildren into your daily routine.

This past weekend the sun was out, the sky was clear, and there were leaves all over my yard. It looked like my Saturday would at least for the most part involve a rake in my hand. As I was making my way up and down the yard getting my path made towards the curb, I looked up and saw my son staring from the screen door. It was then that I thought about all those bottles floating down the river filled with tiny scraps of paper and decided I could use a hand. It may have taken longer and we may have left a few scattered about, but those leaves got done eventually and who knows maybe Fred learned a few things too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sick Thoughts

Lucy is sick today and Fred is coming off a case of bronchitis. He's at home on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I took a vacation day to make sure she gets better and he stays that way. In between washing a couple loads of clothes, cooking dinner, and 8 episodes of Scooby Doo; I had time to think about things.
  1. If you start a book in the Summer and you're still reading it in it still considered a Summer read? Am I wrong to want to put it down until the weather changes again?

  2. Do I really like Curb Your Enthusiasm or do I just like seeing Jerry Seinfeld every week again?

  3. If you break a light bulb how many years of bad light bulb luck do you get? A month ago I dropped one while digging through the laundry room. Since then I've replaced the hall light twice, the patio light, the light over the stove, and a couple lamps. Yesterday the tail light in my car went out. I've had that car three years and never a problem. This is the second bulb since Sept. Do I have seven years of this to look forward to?

  4. How come 3 yr-olds think the word TOOT is so funny? They use it so much it's like I've got a tiny Toot Smurf running around the house. "Dad I want some iced toot to drink!" "I'm toot. Can you bring my pillow so I can go to toot?" "The suns out! Can I go play in the back-toot?"

  5. How many more loads of laundry am I going to wash before I mess something up of my wife's? Not that I want to mess anything up. It's just not my thing and as careful as I'm trying to be I just know a tragic event is coming.

  6. I think I'm addicted to tiny boxes of Nerds. I'm thinking about filling my briefcase up with them and hauling a pound of them off to work. Is there a support group for Nerds addiction?

  7. Is anybody reading my posts at Daddy Outpost? I can't track the stats, so I need comments.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Board Out Of My Mind!!

Like most parents before Santa decides on what toys are delivered a debate is held to see just what toys Jr. is ready for and which ones may be over his, her, or our heads. As much of a no-brainer as this may seem (after all a toddler isn't ready for a dirt bike) it's actually a task that requires a lot of thought. Every board game, doll house, and Lego set comes with a suggest age range that the toy is geared towards. The key word here is range as in the youngest age that should understand how the product works to the oldest age that shouldn't look at you like you are mentally challenged because you just bought a 10 yr old a pack of Play-doh. This is why it's important to know where your child is developmentally so that Santa doesn't waste his time making toys that your kids have already grown out of. One thing to remember is that they can always age up, but they will never age down.

Just this week we opened up Chutes and Ladders for the first time. This the same game of Chutes and Ladders that sat neatly wrapped under our tree around this time a year ago. In our defense we knew that at almost three years old son Fred wasn't quite there, but the idea was that we'd start stocking up on classic games that he would be ready to play as the year went on. Candy Land, Memory, Hi-Ho Cherry-O, and Elefun also got delivered last Christmas. Several of these were a huge hit right off the bat..... others have mysteriously disappeared. The games aren't missing because Fred wasn't old enough or smart enough to play, but more so because he doesn't feel the need to comply with some unknown persons idea of how he should play the game that was given to him.

As I mentioned this week I got the idea that a good ole round of Chutes and Ladders would be the perfect way to spend a Tuesday night. For those who have forgotten the basics; you get a board with 100 squares, a spinner, and 4 characters. Ladders take you up, Chutes bring you down, and 3 yr olds don't care about anything else other than this. A typical game may take you 15 minutes. Our game lasted 45. It could have gone on all night, but after putting up with Fred switching characters three times, constantly taking turns that weren't his, riding every chute and ladder regardless of what square he was on, and attempting to play the game upside-down while hanging off the edge of the couch....his mother and I finally admitted defeat.

The lesson to be learned of course is that when consulting with Santa on what would make the perfect Christmas gift it's important to also remember that regardless of what is given, everyone including Mom and Dad should be old enough and be prepared to be patient enough to play with it.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Will The Swine Flu Turn You Into A Grinch This Christmas?

Now that we are past Halloween it's just a matter of weeks before the real festivities start ala Thanksgiving and Christmas. In a typical year people would already be planning out their menus, making reservations to attend the countless string of office parties, and anxiously awaiting all the time that will be spent with family members from all over the country. Unfortunately this really isn't what you would call a typical year is it? As sad as it may seem Swine Flu hysteria has taken over the country and even those that didn't give a thought to canceling Halloween are now contemplating alternate means of ringing in the New Year.

According to the New York Times "In offices, churches, hospitals, college dorms and schools — and even at yoga classes and in apple orchards — the fear of swine flu is turning age-old rituals on their head. What used to be O.K. is not anymore, as the flu has ushered in new standards of etiquette that can be, in turns, mundane, absurd and heartbreaking." As the dad of a 3 1/2 year-old and the husband of very pregnant wife, I can say that anytime my family goes out in the public the thought of canceling because of the swine flu enters my mind. I know some will accuse me of overreacting, but as they say better safe than sorry right? Yes it means we may miss the occasional birthday party or church service, but the way I look at it is that since I obviously can't trust others who are sick to stay home than the responsibility falls onto myself to ensure my family is not exposed.

When it comes to the Swine Flu how far is too far? Certainly we shouldn't cancel Thanksgiving and even Santa himself couldn't stop the retail stores from ushering in Christmas. Still though I'm not so sure I won't be doing some extra recognisance work this year before attending the latest round of Greedy Santa. I'll try to make it casual "So who's coming?" and keep myself flexible "As far as I know we will be there". I'll ask questions at the first sign of a cough or sneeze, "Wow that sounds rough. Have you gone to the Dr. yet?". I'll be vigilante "So is your son/daughter feeling better today?" And what happens when the inevitable does happen and we end up sharing the night with somebody who is sick? I'll secretly set the alarm on my phone to go off and fake an emergency.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween 2009

This year we went Trick or Treating door to door for the first time. Fred had a blast running from house to house with all his best friends. Afterward we settled in for some hot soup and toasted cheese sandwiches. Plus this morning the Great Pumpkin even paid him a visit and brought a Little Foot sleeping buddy. What a great Halloween.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fathers Still Know What's Best

"I wish all my dad's would bring a list from their wives" is the first thing Fred's Dr. said when he saw me pull the check list out of my pocket. I tried to defend myself by saying that I had brought Fred to the doctor several times before without the supervision of his mother. Still I couldn't shake the idea that he considered myself and all dads to be mere babysitters who are simply a stand in that will do when mom is not around. Kinda like having to use shredded instead of sliced cheese when grilling a sandwich. Yes it's still cheese, but there's no substituting the real thing. In my defense I'm just one guy who can't very well be held responsible for how half the population on this planet acts, but I tried. "I'll have you know I helped make this list and I'm just double checking that I covered everything." Again judging by his response that for every solo dad bringing in his sick child comes a dozen calls afterward from a very worried mother who didn't have all her questions answered, I felt I had no choice but to concede the point.

Dads used to be considered the last word. June always took Ward's lead. The show was called Father Knows Best not Mother May I. I'm not trying to be sexist, I'm only saying that just because Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin can't manage to tie a knot without somehow getting an ER tech involved doesn't mean all dads are that way. Given I will concede that during the first few years of marriage it's every man's nature to act like an idiot in hopes of getting less chore time and more football time. For quite a while there my wife was convinced I couldn't peel a potato or fold a towel because the end result was something that would not be acceptable in a bathroom closet or pot of stew. When it came down to it though I just wanted to see my team kick the extra point.

Now that I'm a dad things are different. Not only is everything in my household a tag team sport, but it's the same with all my buddies. We take our daughters to birthday parties, our sons shopping for school clothes, and cook dinner three nights a week. We still talk about the latest Nascar race or who showed up on SNL the night before, we just do it while waiting for ballet class and T-ball practice to be over. When we show up at these places it's not because we have to or their mom is sick so we are getting stuck with the task, it's because we are parents and we enjoy the spending time with our kids. Now if only all the Al Bundy's out there would quit furthering the stereotype.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Question On Everyone's Mind

When I learned a few months back that our second child was on its way and life would be taking another one of those turns that you had always planned for, but are still never prepared to make; I remember going over in my head the list of things that would change. My McDonalds bill for one is going to skyrocket. Daycare is going to be as much as a house payment. At only 4 years apart to the month, my son will be close enough in age to enjoy mentoring our new addition. We will soon take up an entire pew at church. One thing I didn't consider was the reaction my wife and I would receive once people learned what we were having.

Yesterday with Fred in attendance we were blessed with imagines of a very healthy baby boy. Although the question of what we were having wasn't as important to Fred as "How are we getting it out of Mommy's belly?", he still managed to jump up and down when he learned the big news. This of course was expected, however what we didn't expect was how others would react. Of course everyone was excited and positive, but for some strange reason a different kind of question seemed to follow within minutes of the big reveal. The words weren't always the same: "Were you wanting a girl instead?" "Is Lucy sad it's not a girl?" "Since you are having another boy are you going to try a third time just in case?", but the meaning was always there in the subtext. Were we sad not to be having one of each?

There are questions that are automatically asked whenever somebody announces a big event. The first time your family hears you tell the person you are dating you love them you can bet "When will the question be popped?" is on the tip of every one's tongue. The moment the ring is on the finger you get "When is the big day?". I know you just walked down the alter, but what we are going to need now is a brief press conference on the subject of when your first child will be born. Now that you are pregnant what is your preference: Boy or Girl? The quick answer to this of course is that all any parent wants is a healthy child. It doesn't stop though and eventually gets to the point where that's not enough and they force you to declare what team you are on. "In general I want a healthy child, but that being said if I have to pick (and let's get this straight you can tell by the way they ask you with their beady eyes and fixed stare that you have no choice but to pick) I guess I would like a ___". Now that the sex of Baby#2 has been told to everyone in the Northern Hemisphere, I have to say I'm really shocked at the intensity of this line of questioning that suggests that deep down inside we are crushed by the thought of having another boy and we must unburden ourselves by admitting it once and for all. I'm not the only one that has noticed this.

My cousin who is coincidentally expecting daughter number two the exact same day as our second child, told me that one person dared to ask "How did your husband take not having a boy? Is he going to be okay with it?" Okay with it!?! How do you answer that? "Sadly after hearing the news that he was again denied a son, the last I saw he was running down the freeway ripping at his clothes and screaming something about hating his genes" After all that's really what they want to hear anyway. As for my family though I can honestly say that while a girl would have been nice, all I really want is a healthy happy baby that will follow in his big brothers footsteps by becoming every parents dream come true.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Curb Your Lack Of Enthusiasm

Like most of the people on this planet I'm a Seinfeld fan. I've written posts about it, watched every episode a dozen times, quote it frequently, yada yada get my point. When I heard the gang was getting back together for a reunion show inside a show I was all in. Larry David the guy behind Seinfeld has had a show on HBO for a while now and I've seen it a few times. It's not my favorite show, but it has it's moments. Nothing to get your DVR worked up about, still it's on Sunday night and there's not much to chose from. Now that the cast of Seinfeld is getting back together on Larry's show Curb Your Enthusiasm I'm watching it faithfully this season.

This week I made the mistake of catching up on the latest ep. in front of Gigi. Of course this was also the week where they tossed out F-bombs like they were pieces of candy being thrown from parade floats. I guess the reaction I got was similar in the sense that the crowd was up in the air waving their arms and hollering. The 1st one I acted like I didn't notice, the 2nd one caused me to turn the volume down a bit, by the time the 8th one flew across the room I began to feel like the lawyer of a man everyone knows is guilty, but still deserves a decent defense. Here I am watching a show I like for the B story line in which 4 classic television characters come together to do something they swore would never happen and not caring about what else is going on, suddenly I'm pleading my case to jury that has already made up their mind that I deserve to fry. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I understand her distaste for what was being presented. I just wish this time around the funny would have out weighted the foul and hadn't left me feeling less than the Master Of My Domain.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ghosts Of Halloweens Past

Today they announced that this year's Halloween Contest at work would be held on the 29th and I gotta tell ya....I'm on the fence about this one. Admittedly after 339 posts I can't remember if I've shared my adventures in failed Halloween costumes before, but basically reviews have been virtually non-existent since for some reason I insist on practically hiding my costume in plain sight. One year I went as Bruce Wayne. I got all dressed up in my Sunday best, left a few extra buttons undone on my shirt, and wore my Batman shirt underneath. My thought was that people would see me dressed to the nines, catch the yellow hint of the Bat symbol sticking out, and rave about my creativity.....except apparently nobody looks at me and so nobody even guessed I was secretly a superhero. The next year I tried it again with Superman. With my plaid shirt, standard khakis, and black glasses, I looked just like Clark Kent with the faintest hint of an S sticking out just below my neck line.....and again it was a super dud.

Last year I decided I was going to get noticed once and for all. White shirt, black slacks, wet hair, tie sticking out wildly to the side of my shirt just under my pocket full of pens....I was the perfect Dilbert. I even changed my badge to say DILBERT!! How much more obvious did I need to be....well apparently a lot more, because for the 3rd year in a row nobody realized I dressed up for Halloween.

Now you can understand why this year I'm at a crossroads. I've got this idea for Shaggy. I could wear my brown corduroy pants, brown shoes, green long sleeve shirt, not comb my hair that day, and go without shaving for 2 weeks.....or I could forget the entire thing. Maybe it's time for a quick poll! See the sidebar for details!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Scooby Doo And The Monster In My Closet

One of my favorite things about being a dad is being able to watch cartoons with my son. Wolverine & The X-Men, Iron Man Armored Adventures, Super Hero Squad.....sometimes I don't even wait till he's around. I just watch them ahead of time. Lately he's got a major crush on Scooby Doo. And not just any Scooby Doo cartoon, but only those featuring the entire gang (that's right take a hike Scrappy). We've weened him just a bit, but still he's an hour a day Scooby Doo-Aholic. The problem of course is that it's scaring the bejesus out of him at night.

It's probably not as bad as I'm making it out to be, but honestly I caught him yesterday telling Nani to look out for Monsters on her way home. There's been a couple times when he's asked for an escort to the bathroom. By the time we leave his nightlight on, the hall light on, his TV on, and he flips the on switch to his trusty triceratops flashlight....he's not really sleeping in the dark anymore. So you can see why we were more than just a little hesitant to believe that there was a monster in his closet.

One thing about Fred is that he doesn't give up. Most of the time this is a huge annoyance that I reluctantly take full credit for passing down to him. This time however it was us that was determined to put the "Monster In My Closet" business to bed fast before it became a nightly event. We persisted, we promised, we kept at him. "There are no monsters in your closet" and all we got back was "UN HUH!"

Finally after an hour of attempting to break down the wall between what is real and what is a make believe old man dressed up like a zombie, Fred gave an explanation that we just couldn't ignore "Well if it's not a monster than a toy is trying to get out of my closet". So with that I did the only thing I could do.....I opened the closet......and out jumped a very unhappy cat that had been trapped for a very long time. Needless to say every night before bed, just to be sure, we check the closet just in case any monsters or kitty cats are hiding inside.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Swine Fever

When you have a family of any size weekends are almost as busy and the weeks that lead up to them. Although I do it myself every week, I don't know why everyone spends so much time praying for Friday to arrive when more often than not we're twice as busy as we are the days counting up to TGIF. Now that the this particular weekend is finally coming to a close, I realize that for some reason as I drove home from work on Friday all the while thanking the good Lord that I made it to the close of another week, I may have placed a curse on all the little piggy's of the world. It seems I've torn a pretty large swath through the pig population in the past 72 hours.

I'm not proud of it and I've definitely didn't do any favors for my already skyrocketing cholesterol numbers, but my meal choices this weekend have consisted of: 1 jumbo pork BBQ sandwich, two sausage breakfasts, 1 round of grilled pork chops, and to make matters even worse (for the pigs, not for me) I attended my first greased pig competition this afternoon. I must say that growing up in Alabama I'm used to hearing redneck jokes that revolve around rusted up cars in our front yard been there)and going cow tipping (done that). Yes I have spent many a weekend hanging out in some field having a good time with all my buddies (those were the days)while making sure not to confuse my bottle of Mountain Dew with my Mountain Dew bottle I spit my dip in. Still I'm no Hillbillie. I mean it's not like I live in Mississippi. That being said, after 34 years of staying in the same state I now officially feel more like a true Alabamian. Maybe it was the sight of 20 kids chasing 3 full grow greased down pigs around a mud covered field surrounded by chicken wire and bleachers (not just a couple of bleachers, but like a full circle of sold out seated bleachers) or maybe I just got caught up in all the cheers and hurrahs that exploded every time a little piggy broke free and tried to run home....whatever it was for the first time in a while I did away with my snobbish, better than some trailer folk attitude and laughed my butt off. Yes it was barbaric and yes my inner PETA was screaming that something was not right about the moment, but as I walked out of the park and saw the winning pre-teen champion riding in the back of her parents brand new Toyota Highlander hugging her prized slime covered swine I couldn't help but be filled with a renewed love of my state. I don't know if they were supposed to give it to her, but this 12 year-old She-Ra literally picked up a full grown oiled up pig and sat it on a bail of hay after which myself and all in attendance admittedly became more than just a little afraid of her. The more I think about it her pigtails did look a bit more...unique compared to the rest of the girls I've seen.

In closing though I must say that this has not been all my fault, instead I present to you that I am actually a victim of some odd pig casualty related destiny. Tonight as we went to hang out with friends at our favorite sandwich shop I was determined to stop the slaughter of swine and instead ordered a nice healthy-ish turkey and cheese sandwich...only to be served a ham and bacon hogie...yes I could have seized the day, stood up for all of pig-kind, and demanded justice in the form of my original order, but hey who am I to argue destiny....besides who can say no to bacon!!!!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Adventures In Kitty-Sitting

Last week we the Blockhead family took our annual trip to Gulf Shores for a little fun in the sun and left our newest family members behind hiding underneath the azalea bush that runs along our front porch. I'm of course talking about our newest set of kittens from our outside cat Socks (don't ask what happened to Slippers you don't want to know and I don't want to tell you.) The yet to be named triplets arrived just a few days before our trip down south and since Nani, Pops, and Mo were each coming by at least once to check on Bottons; a quick peek to make sure all were well was only a minor inconvenience at best. After all who doesn't like kittens....okay Pops doesn't, but at this point the only people that can say no to Fred is myself and his very pregnant mommy. Anyways right off the bat we started getting reports that Socks was moving the newborns at least every other day.

Nani found them where we left them, Pops located them on the other side of the porch underneath a rose bush, Mo found them practically around the corner in another flower bed all together, and the day before we were to return it seemed that Socks and her new flock of furry felines had fled the coup all together. Never fear we found both mother and baby and baby and baby cradled safely together beneath our outside fridge (Outside Fridge perfect for keeping your Gatorade cold during the Summer and your kittens warm during the Winter. Get yours today!!! Now available in Katnip scented). All this moving though left me with more than just thoughts that it would be soooooo cool to put a GPS on Socks and see where she went, but more seriously a complete understanding as to why she felt the need to keep running for cover every night in search of safer surroundings. After all I do it every day....

Call me an over protective parent, but I'm constantly looking over Fred's shoulder to see who he's playing with, how they act towards each other, what they are laughing about or what language they are using. In some cases I don't intervene, but inevitably I find myself on occasion saying the tried and true cliche "I don't care what your friend is doing; I'm telling you not to." As a parent it's my job to steer my child away from trouble, from places that might get him hurt, from doing things that could lead to bad habits down the road (like saying My Goodness instead of My Gosh which is one step away from My God). Just like Socks as a parent I can't help but want to do everything in my power to keep my babies away from the things in this world that are bent on harming them.

Once it was all said and done, for the moment Socks and the triplets (we are thinking Inny, Minny, and Moe for the names)settled into a nice new bed I made for them on the back porch. As for Fred we are getting back to the basics; saying our prayers everday, using words like Sir, Ma'am, Thank You, and Please, less TV and more reading, he's even begun to sing along with us at Church.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Taking Inventory

Awhile back I promised yet again I would be posting at least three times a week and here I am on the 24th writing for the first time since the 10th. What can I say? With a three year-old running rampant and a wife going through the motions of pregnancy I've had my hands full. Everyday that passes Fred stuns us all with what comes pouring out of his mouth at any given moment. Last week after I heard through the grapevine that he may have gotten into some trouble at the Hill during nap time, my request for the truth was first met with "No I was not in trouble". It wasn't until I promised to not punish him in exchange for the truth that I was told "Well okay maybe I got in trouble a little bit....but it's okay." Sure now it's okay you're getting away scott-free I said to myself.

Lucy accidentally decided to take up gymnastics recently and an attempt at the splits sent us running to the ER. We can talk about it now, but 8hrs sitting watching those around us suffer from drug addiction, spousal abuse, attempted suicide, and self inflicted gunshots wounds to the face left us with a definite since that our momentary fears aside; life was no where near as bad as it seemed to be at times.

Socks has had kittens again and it appears that I may have to do something I swore would never happen....spend money on an outdoor animal. Although the thought of donating our hard earned cash to something that could just as easily disappear the next day has always seemed logical, I'm not really ravishing the idea of feeding 3 others because I was too busy being a cheap skate.

We've taken inventory of what we have left from Baby#1 and it looks like this next time around all we will need is a new stroller/car seat (which we bought this past week at Dittos), a bouncy seat (also bought this past week at Dittos), a playpen, and a crib. Lucy is spending all her days puking and all her nights catching up on the work she missed because of it. We have decide on first names and now are debating middle names. No hints though for now all you will get from us is Baby #2.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Letting It All Sink In

Lucy is right at 2 months pregnant and even though we've known for several weeks, it's all still sinking in. People who know me know I don't get excited by much. In fact I fell asleep in the waiting room just moments before Fred was born. Three years later and there I was last week a sleep mere seconds before the first ultrasound.

I've been thinking a lot about this past year lately and how things will be different as we get closer to the March due date. Remembering Fred and I hitting golf balls into hurricane force winds last September while vacationing in Orange Beach, Al. Thinking about that 2-hour canoe trip I took last month up Shoals Creek. I'd never even been in a canoe and there I was all by myself in the middle of nowhere. If anything had gone wrong I'd have literally been up a creek without a paddle. Lucy and I driving around town with the windows down after Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist. Each memory fills me with a calm that I keep coming back to when work seems to be more than I can handle.

When I think of my unborn child I get this same sense of calm. Like I've arrived at the right place at the right time. Like God has lined things up just so and blessed me with the insight to understand the miracle that is swirling around me. Maybe that's why I'm not writing as much lately...I'm too busy making sure I don't miss a moment.

There's a John Mayer song that goes:

I'm writing you to
catch you up on places I've been
You held this letter
probably got excited, but there's nothing else inside it
didn't have a camera by my side this time
hopping I would see the world with both my eyes
maybe I will tell you all about it when I'm
in the mood to lose my way with words

That's exactly what life is like for me right now. The words just aren't there to explain how amazed I am that I get to wake up every morning to my life.

Monday, August 03, 2009

A Room With A Coo

It's only been a few weeks since we found out our second child was on it's way and things are being discussed that to the casual observer might seem insignificant. To the soon to be parents of two though what may seem trivial to some are matters of National consequence to others.

We live in a modest 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath, that while not a mansion fits us fine. I've always thought that one of the most interesting things about a home is that the more rooms you have, the more you feel the need to pile them high with things you don't need. For example before Lucy moved her office in there, our front room was a beautiful living room with couches, a love seat, and a complete entertainment center....that nobody went into because the big screen is in the backroom along with the computer, another more comfortable couch, and the fridge is closer.

Before Fred we had a Guest Bedroom, a Master Bedroom, and additional bedroom that Lucy was/is using as a walk-in closet. In came Fred out went the Guest Bedroom. You can understand why this really wasn't that big of a change (unless you were a guest and got sent to the Ho-Tel Mo-Tel Hol-i-day Inn)in terms of the way the house was being used. Now while the announcement of Baby#2 isn't really the shock to the system that brought on mass fits of panic as did the first trip into the Parenthood, this visit easily makes up in storage issues what it lacks in first time jitters.

The best example of this decorating dilemma involves the litter box which is currently being kept in guessed it....future room of Baby#2 (which I like saying better than calling it an IT). There's no room in the kitchen, Lucy uses the front room for clients and has people in an out all day (doing Real Estate stuff you perv!), the bedrooms are out of the question as nobody wants to go to sleep smelling that (clean or not), the 1/2 bath is more 1/2 than bath....this leaves the den or the Full Bath. Like the bedroom the den is no place for what that cat leaves behind (scooping only buys you a few moments cause he likes to hold it all day and hide around the corner waiting for it to be fresh again) and Lucy says no to the Full Bath. Which're guess is as good as mine. I'm thinking about taking it up with the United Nations.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Extreme Home Makeover: Charlie Blockhead Edition

It's funny how fast and sudden life changes. Last week I mentioned all the painting I had done around the house and promised to provide pics. While I had every intention to get those on the site I had no idea that the title I had picked out "Extreme Makeover: Charlie Blockhead Edition" would take on more meaning than I could have ever imagined at the time. Just two days later I would be surprised by a call from Lucy saying that she had driven by the office and noticed my car had been wrecked. I remember running out of the office to what would surely be a life changing (or at least budget changing) event only to find myself moments later amazed at what was waiting outside. Looking back I definitely say it was life and budget changing, only the news I received didn't involve any type of hit and run accident. In fact the whole thing had been planned for months and actually occured five weeks before.....

In case you haven't guessed or heard through the grapevine, Lucy is pregnant. In some ways I'm still in shock. 3 days after I got the news I asked her to take another test just in case the three she took days before (two of which were at the Dr's office) were incorrect. Not because I didn't want a child, more so because it's one thing to plan an event and another thing for it to happen exactly the way you had hoped.

So here I am almost a week to the day that I learned I was the father of two and already subtle changes are taking place (and not just inside Lucy). Fred who proclaimed he'd rather have a cheese pizza when he first heard the news, is bragging to all who will listen of his new position as Big Brother; our inability to keep a secret ensured that just about everyone we know has heard the news; and the question on the tip of every one's tongue is "What kind do we want?"

The answer to this of course is the same for every expectant mother and father regardless of how many already make up their brood; a healthy child free of any complications is what we all pray for. Besides that I think for now I'm more focused on prepping myself for the journey that lays ahead. The late night feedings, the constant crying (I've gotten used to Fred just telling us what he wants), another round of diapers, of first foods, first steps, potty training. Plus let's not forget that Fred isn't headed off to college to live in a dorm somewhere. Some of his best first times are yet to come; reading his first words, writing for the first time, first day of kindergarten, first day of show and tell......each of which will also be our first time as well.

Speaking of firsts in case you are curious a new baby is what got me started on this whole blogging thing. I remember sitting there in front of my computer on my lunch break March 7th, 2006 wondering if I had anything to say that would compare to the dozens of other Daddy bloggers out there. Here's the result:

"Baby Fred where are you!!!Baby's room painted...check.Floors good and clean...check.Crib, cradle, swing, and rocking chair put together and safe...check check check check.House ready to be shown to the millions and millions of future visitors....check...sorta.Baby Fred......still not ready....oh ok we can wait......we'll just pass the time by watching TV....or ummm I know I can cut grass.......let's rent a thumps twiddling... TV's boring...grass not no good...BABY FRED WHERE ARE YOU!!!!!This is torture....."

Three years and some months later that check list is being written a second time, I should be smarter....I should be wiser....and I guess in some ways I am....but the truth is that the same mix of excitement and trepidation is still there. Thoughts of how things will be, what will we name it, what will it's personality be like, sneak up on me at all hours of the day making it hard to focus on anything for too long. The one thing that is different....the one thing that is guaranteed to make this second go around easier is that under all the fear, excitement, curiosity, nervousness, and worry lies the simple fact that I'm a good dad and we are good parents. We are not the best, we are not the worst, but we know it and everyday we strive to do better than the day before. Regardless of what lies ahead this confidence and our faith is sure to make all the difference when it comes time to welcome our new baby into the world.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Brock's Best

We were at the store a few weeks back and decided at the last minute we needed a cookie fix. We grabbed the first thing we saw only to have Fred point out to us when we got home that he wanted some of Uncle Brock's cookies. If he hadn't of mentioned it I would have never made the connection, but sure enough it appears that my little bro has a side business he's not telling folks about. Here's a closer look at Brock and "Bud":

Monday, July 13, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Remember those essays we used to have to write the first week of every school year? I didn't mind them so much, after all it's not like the teacher even knew who you were before you stepped foot in her class. Who's she to say that there's no way you could've took a hot air balloon expidition to the South Pole? Anyways that's what today's post is all about.

After I decided to not Live Life Like A Porpoise, I managed to get a ton of stuff done both fun and from the Honey Do List. The first of each week was spent remodeling Fred's room and our master bedroom (pics to follow this week). The fumes hit Lucy and I hard; after I painted Fred's room I got a sinus infection, Lucy got hers after I painted our's. We spent the 4th at Granny Beck's where we had our usual Chinese Thanksgiving. This year I even managed to learn how to make Curry Chicken and Sweet/Sour Pork (not the chicken nugget kind, but the real deal). Plus we had some recession fireworks (not much flash cause we got no cash) that shocked Fred to the point that you would've thought we were standing on top of the Empire State Building watching them explode over the Brooklyn Bridge.

By the end of last week with only four days left I called it quits and enjoyed the rest of my time. A couple fishing trips, an afternoon spent watching Dave Matthews Live In Concert, a surprise 30th B-Day party for Lucy, a little book reading time, plus I pulled the old bike out of the shed so I could keep up with Fred as he pedals up and down the street (he's past the point where I can keep up on foot).

Overall I learned a couple important lessons: 1# Even if I had 2 months off I'd still never get everything done and 2# I never get sick of hanging out with my family and that even includes the GiGi (just don't tell her I said that). Enjoy some pics of from what turned out to be the two best consecutive weeks of my life:

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Life Without Porpoise

As many of you have no doubt heard, the company I work for has decided to shutdown this week and next. What this means is that unfortunately I'm midway through an unexpected two week vacation, and that believe it or not I started out having a horrible time coming to grips with. First of all lest I come on as some arrogant snob who doesn't know just how well he has it, please understand that I am extremely grateful for everything I have and that I can't imagine how much harder others who have it far worse are handling things. Still the shutdown has definitely been a wake up call. The first day I was a total wreck. I literally walked right into a door, spent the day babbling like an idiot, and generally just felt out of place in the world. I know myself enough to realize if I had been laid off and Monday had been my first day out of work, I'd of been up at the crack of dawn, resume in hand, and hitting the bricks looking for more work. That's the rub though, I have a job....they just don't need me there for 10 more days.

Immediately I found myself wondering what does a work-aholic do when there's no work to be had? Whatever the answer may be, I was sure the way it wouldn't turn out is with me sitting around like a fat whale catching up on Day Of Our Lives and eliminating an entire bag of Oreos.

I'm proud to say that going into the 4th day of my isolation, I've managed to stay even busier than I likely would have been had I gone into the office everyday. I've set the alarm for my normal 6:00 A.M wake-up every morning. Monday I cleaned out Fred's room, ran errands, grabbed a quick bite, and by 8:00 that night had transformed the once nursery into a Big Boy room. Tuesday I jumped up ran a couple more errands, hit the driving range, put the finishing touches on Fred's room, and got to spend a great afternoon with Lucy. Wednesday I was up at the Dr's office (sinus infection), took care of a couple more errands, cut grass, and managed to be done in time for Fred to get home from school. Next week I plan on painting our bedroom Monday/Tuesday and then getting some R&R (playing a little golf, getting some fishing in).

Basically what I've learned is that though I may be a work-aholic, I'm not limited by where I work. It's got nothing to do with who I work for or what my career is, it's about how I'm no longer that guy that enjoys laying on his hump all day watching the world pass me buy. As an 8 year resident of various cube-farms I've often wondered what outsiders did with their days...and now I know they stay active, they get things done, and they never stop working towards their goals which is exactly what I myself attempt to accomplish during my typical 8-5. A life with purpose means you don't live life like a porpoise and for my own sake I hope that's something I never turn into again.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Who am I? Who I Am.

I am a 2 ton wrestling opponent ready for battle at any given moment
I am a waiter eager to accept my customers latest order
I am a television programmer strategically plotting what the viewing audience will enjoy most
I am a plumber who is called at all hours to figure out what was flushed or why it won't
I am a lover of every purple dinosaur, every imaginary friend, every rabbit brother and sister, every talking dog, penguin, moose, and whatever, every super hero duck, hamster, and turtle, every Spanish explorer, animal rescuer, and maintenance man.
I am a pool boy
I am a Sunday school teacher
I am a tryer, a doer, and sometimes a failure.
I am a reader of rhymes and singer of verse.
I am a chauffeur, taxi cab driver, and a couple of times I've rushed through town as if in an ambulance.
I am a race track designer
I am a Nascar racer who always comes in second place
I am a memory keeper.
I am a provider, a giver, a receiver, and lucky guy
I am a married far abover
I am a I will pull your pants down right here in front of everyone and spank that bottomer
I am a surgeon adept at placing a band aide at just the right angle so as to stop the pain
I am a beautician who can't get promoted past the hair washing station
I am a computer tech
I am a teacher of words, learner of slang, and discourager of terms
I am a craftsman who can perform miracles with elmers glue, a pair of scissors, and a paper sack
I am a go to your roomer
I am a too busy to write a post today blogger
I am a carry of all thing precious, wiggly, and upset
I am a painter of rooms, colorer of pages, and drawer of doodles
I am a do as I sayer not as I doer
I am a dentist always on the look out for easier ways to keep teeth in better shape
I am a finder of things to do while waiting for the doctor to call our name
I am a kisser of booboos, spanker of bottoms, and giver of high fives
I am a getter of way more than I ever deserver
I am a no matter how big the fight we can work it outer
I am a struggler, a survivor, and warrior
I am a architect of towers that never last
I am a husband, a father, a son, a lover, a best friend, a brother, a believer, and hopefully a teller to all those who I am thankful for-er.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

From Playboy To Parenting

Don't ask me why, but lately I've been thinking a lot about magazines. We seem to have them everywhere and refuse to let them go no matter if they've been read or not. You would think that with all the television we watch, all the time spent on the Internet, all the moments during the day listening to talk radio, we'd be some of the most well informed people on this planet. Yet one of my most favorite moments in every week has to be coming home on Friday and seeing who's on the cover of Entertainment Weekly.

As I mentioned magazines have been on my mind. After thinking over all the different types we've subscribed to over the years, I was surprised how you can literally trace my growth as a person based on what found it's way into my mailbox. Lucy and I had our first date on 12/27/97. At the time I lived in a fraternity house and Playboy may as well have been the local currency. It was everywhere. Stacks and stacks piled up in closets, bedrooms, covering coffee tables. It was openly discussed and critiqued on a daily basis.

After Lucy and I moved in together I didn't bring Playboy with me. I was however one of the many that signed up for Maxim the first year it came out. Actually if you look at my credit card statement from that time I signed up for more than just one harmless magazine. There was People, Details, GQ, Men's Health, Premier, Stuff...I can't remember if I had a crush on a magazine sales lady or what, but they just kept offering and I kept subscribing.

As the years went by I found I didn't care how to pick up women in a bar using various forms of grunts and hand gestures even though Maxim assured me would work....and I couldn't afford to dress like anyone in GQ....or buy any Stuff other than what I could get at a yard sale...and I never I put away my crush for the magazine lady and stopped getting magazines all together. Until that is Entertainment Weekly offered to fill my Pop Culture needs on a weekly basis for the low low price of 10 cents an issue.

I was baptized close to 5-6 years ago and went through an intellectual phase in which I felt I needed to read as much as possible about every political, social, medical, statistical movement there was....this lead to Harper's. A monthly dose of left wing propaganda mixed with some poetry and a touch of "exclusive" fiction from today's most deep thinking writers. I soon learned that my desire for more knowledge couldn't over come my distaste for pages upon pages of words without pictures.

I wrote for a pet website for a while so friends and family got the chance to laugh at me while I scoured the pages of Cat Fancy looking for juicy fodder. It seemed like with every new assignment came another niche mag. Golf Digest. Log Cabin Monthly. Of course the moment Fred was conceived we signed up for Parenting. Since we had a child who demanded to eat everyday we thought we'd better learn to make something other than spaghetti hence Family Circle. US Weekly gives us the sort of Garbage-Can-Gossip that EW thinks we are too mature for. Plus Fred even gets a couple in hopes that they will someday keep him quiet during church. We even get one devoted completely to foods made by Kraft. All I can figure is at some point we really must have loved mac'n cheese.

Looking back you might think that things have gone down hill after I let Maxim go, but honestly they have several things in common. They are both full of glossy images that I'll never get to touch in real life, they both cause my jaw to drop and a little bit of saliva to run out of the corner of my mouth, and they both are full of plastic things that are never as good as they look in print. Honestly the way I see it Family Circle is better because A) I got a better chance of experiencing some of the things described in the articles and B)Lucy never complains when I oogle over chicken tetrazzini .

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Welcome To Walmart! Now With Less Clothing!

Somebody asked about Fred recently and if he was as hard to handle as their child. The answer to this is of course "He's way worse than your kid", because honestly who doesn't think their child is the biggest handful ever to be brought into this world. The question did spark a string of recent memories that I feel proves Fred (though he may seem out of control at times) is everything an All American Child should be.

Like last week during vacation bible school, right there in middle of the puppet show he decided to stand up and show the crowd how well he can do flips. He did 3 before I was able to stop him.

The next night he ran as hard as he could, caring less of where he was going, and managed to look up just in time to see the support beam hit him dead center between the eyes. It's been a week and he's still got two blackeyes.

Monday night he slept in his Spiderman costume. At 3:30 that morning he woke us up because he'd had an accident and gotten it all wet. It took us half an hour to convince him to change clothes.

One thing we are learning is that spanking may be useful at times, but in the end (no pun intended) it really doesn't have any long lasting effect. I think it's because during the normal course of the day he somehow manages to hurt his own self at least two dozen times, so us adding a couple of licks turns out to be nothing compared to what he's already been inflicted on his poor knees and elbows. To get to Fred you have to out think him. Pull out some logic and blind him. Dazzle him with your common sense and wisdom.....and if that doesn't work distract him with a distant prize that can only be obtained by listening to Mommy and Daddy. And even then he can't help but be who he is......the kid that out of the blue decided yesterday that it would be fun to chant "Let's get naked!!" over and over while we stood in line at Wal-mart.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Previews Of Times Gone By

When you have your first child there quickly comes many a moment when you find yourself awake at 2:00 A.M. staring at the ceiling and wondering "What was I thinking?" Sure you love the crying thing in the next room with all your heart, but after 3 hours of screaming without any indication as to what is wrong it's easy to see why even the strongest among us would start questioning their ability to make rationale decisions.

Thankfully somewhere along the way God through his infinite wisdom manages to cloud your mind. Those moments spent pulling out your hair as you stare at your child in disbelief just moments after he emptied the entire contents of the bathtub (water and all) onto your newly tiled floor, fade from your memory and somehow become funny stories you can't wait to tell to all of your friends. Maybe it's some form of selective memory brought on by the constant shock and awe that comes from having a child. It could be that the insanity that seems to swirl around your child finally manages to consume you as well.

I like to think that God knows that the only way people would ever decide to have more than one child and thus continue the furthering of the species would be to simply edit their memories so that when they do look back they only see the good parts. Kinda like movie previews in reverse. Instead of that time your child screamed in the middle of church that somebody wasn't praying see how excited they get when they learn they get to go to Sunday school. You forget that night you were scared to death because he had a fever of 105 and wouldn't quit throwing up....and remember the first time he learned to potty by himself. You only see him lying their sleeping peacefully and not the hours of threatening to make his life miserable if he didn't take a nap.

Now I'm not sitting here saying that we are actively trying to have another child...honestly that would be way too personal for even these pages....what I am saying is that lately my mind isn't what it used to be. When I look back at those first few months when we had Fred I don't remember the fear of not knowing what I was getting into. I don't see the pain brought on from having to spank him for the first time. I don't remember how much I disliked having to share my bed or change dirty diapers or waking up at all hours of the night to give him a bottle....all I see are moments I'd like to live through again....all I see are previews.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Visit To See An Old Friend

Daddy, What are we doing here?
Well, I have an old friend around here somewhere and I thought we would pay him a visit.
Do you see your friend Daddy?
Um...not really...but this is where he hangs out.
Is your friend far away?
Not all the time. Sometimes he feels like he's standing just over my shoulder.
My friend would really like you Fred.
I bet I would really like him too Daddy!
Wow this hole is big.
My friend was a pretty big guy.
Well I just wanted to come buy and see how he was doing.
Time to go see Mommy, Daddy?
Yep, I guess it's time to go see Mommy
Daddy, Is your friend your Daddy?
Um...well...for a very long time, yes he was my Daddy.
(How did he know that?)

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Toboggan Conundrum

I'm sure that by taking a look at the picture above several thoughts have crossed your mind. "What a lovely family this guy has" the answer to which is yes I do thank you for thinking so. "Oh that's why they weren't at church this past weekend. They are on vacation" Ummm Yes and No. Yes we weren't at church yesterday because we were out of town. No this picture was actually taken last year

No doubt though if given enough time more than likely some where down the line the thought "Man that kid has a lot of hair" will pop in and out of your mind. The answer to this is both the reason I'm writing today and also something that has been on my mind quite a bit lately. You see all that hair blowing in the wind. That hair is thick! Those just aren't a few bunched up strands of long brown hair being tossed around. That is a birds nest of curls, tangles, and knots that must be combed good everyday and not voluntarily either.

Now allow me to step away from the hair thing for a moment. Check out the color in those cheeks. That pinkish hue which occurs after a child has played his heart out all day. A look that only comes from running too, fleeing from, jumping off, climbing up, and tripping over everything in his path. He had that look last year when this picture was taken, two days ago after playing in the yard, and tomorrow after driving his mother crazy all day.

What's my point you ask? It's can this child who has all this hair on top of his head which constantly serves as built in insulation locking in and ensnaring everything that gets caught in can this curly headed boy with so much energy continuously pumping through his veins so much so that his faces pulsates heat like a mini-gasoline can this child think that he is so cold at night that even with the thermostat set at 70 degrees, a sheet, a quilt, and a comforter placed gingerly on top of him, plus a set of flannel pajamas covering him from neck to can he still be so cold that his insists on wearing a toboggan to bed!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thank You Micro-Machine Man!

Remember the Micro-Machine Man? That Super Mario looking guy that sold those microscopic cars and the idea that tiny Hot Wheels were some how cooler than the regular sized models. We may not all realize it, but parents everywhere learned a lot from that guy. Don't believe me? Think about the last time you tried to get your child to do something in a hurry. Did it sound something like this?

Come here Come here Come here Come here k-ear k-ear k-ear k-ear COME HERE!

See just like the Micro-Machine Man taught you. I can do it with Fred's name too: Fred Fred Fred Fred Fred Fred F-ed F-ed F-ed FRED!

If you think about it after their child turns three every parent should be given an honorary Auctioneer's degree that would allow them to just jump up and take over whenever they please.

"Can I get a dollar dollar dollar. Got two got two got two. Can get I a five a five....what? Mama I'm sorry but this is my auction and I'm the only one that can run this microphone...oh hey there little buddy I didn't see you there. Yes I know owls are brown. Yep that baby has orange on. Now don't starting calling me Doo Doo that's not nice. On second thought maybe I do need a break so as I can get a glass of water....I concede the microphone to the lady with the little boy who just broke that lamp."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Off To A Rocky Start

At the end of the day after the sun is set and your child is sleeping soundly in his bed, it's easy to look back at what took place hours before and think "Boys will be boys". Four hours earlier when you've just walked into the door from a day that was every bit of a Monday only to find your precious child spent the day in Time-Out for throwing're not so inclined to write things off so easily.

Needless to say we sort of started this week off on a slippery slope. The only thing that stopped him from getting a serious beating was that Lucy and I soon realized the whole thing may have been our fault. We took him to see a local waterfall Sunday afternoon and the entire time he was there he was tossing rocks in the river. Since he seemed to be having so much fun, we went to a quiet spot with picnic tables where he could sit next to the water's edge and throw pebbles until his arm fell off. Great family fun right? Of course! I'm sure we told him the only time you throw rocks is when you are at the river...we just may have not mentioned it a lot...or more than once.

How do you explain to the Director of your daycare that in the same sense that Lucy and I can be looked proudly on when Fred is well behaved.....sometimes we must also be scolded when he's not. While I figure out how to answer this question, enjoy these pics!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Now Serving Lobster!!

Thanks to the miracle that is DVR, commercials are a thing of the past. Really the only time I see a commercial is if I'm watching the morning news or happen to hear one on the radio. Even then I'm only half listening. This morning I saw one and found it so disturbing I couldn't shake the thought of it all day no matter what I tried. I'm not talking about the new Burger King Sir Mix-A-Lot Sponge Bob Square Pants Square Meal Deal ad. I would rather not have Fred walking around looking at every one's butt wondering why it's not shaped like the ones he saw on T.V. What has got me so repulsed is the Long John Silvers Lobster Bites for $2.99. campaign.

Admittedly I can be some what of a food snob. For years I boycotted Subway because they didn't have a clue how to make a sandwich and kept asking me what to put on a Spicy Italian when it was their idea to put it on the menu in the first place. Lucy likes it so eventually I just accepted who they were (and I hate going to more than one place for dinner). Then I was anti-Burger King for a whole year because they told me that if they had to give me free food because they messed up my order than they would have to do it for all the customers whose orders they got wrong (which would obviously teach them to get the #@$& thing right in the first place and we can't go around expecting people to learn from their mistakes can we). I lifted the ban because of the invention of the Chicken Fry which was simply too tasty of an idea to ignore.

Back to my point though....if the food is good I'll pay more for it. For example a $20 steak cooked to perfection is a gift from above. A $16 plate of Chicken Marsala with angel hair pasta and fresh vegetables is to die for. I'll even go as far as to say $10 for a fat eat it with a knife and fork double bacon pepper jack and mushroom burger is a steal. Some foods are good no matter what the cost and some foods should only be served at a minimum cost. In this case lobster. When I think lobster I think giant just pulled out of the fresh coastal waters of some local bay boiled with some corn on the cob and potatoes cry because it's so good once in a blue moon LOBSTER. NEVER have I EVER thought man I got 3 bucks and an empty belly. I think I'll go get me some lobster. I wish you could come, but $2 dollars won't get you something this good. No you need to go find you another .99 cents. If you bought your last lobster dinner with money you found in your couch cushions, I hope your insurance premiums are paid up.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Tupperware Two-Step

Our kitchen is small. "HOW SMALL IS YOUR KITCHEN?!" Our kitchen is so small it makes The Michael Scott Paper Company look like Dunder Mifflin headquarters. Since you can't very well see how far my hands are stretched out....and I can't type with them that way either...let's just say it's the size of McDonald's bathroom minus the urine stains (thank goodness Fred is potty trained).

We live in an older house which was built in a time when only one person (the woman) did anything. Since only one person (the woman) was going to be in there, then only one person (the woman) needed to fit in there. Fast forward 45 years into a very different future and what you have is a meal made with love and mutual respect i.e. by a man and a woman. At first it was a task, but eventually we got the hang of it.

One, two you cut down there while I fry down here
Three, four I'll empty this while you load that
Five, six I spilt the spaghetti let's all pick up sticks.

Growing up I remember a joke about how to tell if an elephant had been in your refrigerator (footprints in the jello). Truth is all these years later as I stare into the far reaches of our icebox I have learned that it wasn't really an elephant after all, just a large footed monkey looking for the grape jelly.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Fruits Of Labor

When you first think about having children, you immediately begin looking around at all the parents around you. Suddenly strangers in the mall become examples of what you want and what you don't want in terms of the personality of your child. Basic decisions are made as to the values you want to instill in your son or daughter. Things such as spanking (we do), putting a leash on your child (we will never do), and using the T.V as a babysitter (we don't as much as we used to do) all become things you spend months tossing around. No matter how much prep time you put into having a baby though you never really get any sense that all your hard work is producing the right fruit until years after the child has arrived home wrapped tight in that blue and white striped hospital blanket.

Recently as if he got caught up in all that is coming alive around him as Spring takes a hold of us, Fred is sprouting more and more each day. Take this past Easter for example: After church while Lucy and the Gigi prepared the feast, Fred decided that what he wanted to do most in the world was ride up & down the road passing out pennies to our neighbors while making sure to wish them a HAPPY EASTER!

Getting to the bottom of a Happy Meal only to find that he had already gotten the prize once before used to be a bummer, now is a chance to give a gift to a friend. "This one is for Max!" he said with giant smile on his face.

A kiss goodnight was once a request and now it's a gift given to Mommy before bedtime.
Words like Thank you, Please, You're Welcome have taken the place of I WANT THAT!

The best fruit of all though is that which is given in the form of a compliment from his teacher at church or from a mother at a birthday party he was invited too. These are the ones that mean the most simply because it means that he's being polite and good not because we are standing over his shoulder, but because it's who he is. And who is he is, is my favorite thing in this whole world.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Random Thoughts

  1. Why does my cat only want attention when I'm getting ready for work and not the day before when I barely left the couch?
  2. How much more of a man do I need to be in order to feel like I deserve to eat at Hardee's? I mean come on already we get it. You have big hamburgers and your customers like to eat cheese paper. Back off already.
  3. George Carlin hit the nail on the head when he joked that the entire history of the world could be traced back to the need for more stuff. Eve wanted stuff. She wanted the apple. Nomads roamed the world collecting stuff. The Pilgrims came to the New World for more stuff. They fought the Revolutionary War because the British were trying to claim the stuff for their own. Ever week I go to Target to get more stuff and once a year we sale all the old stuff we no longer have room for.
  4. Does anybody out there really like butt bread? I mean other than ducks.
  5. What is it with the Mini-Statue Of Liberty yard statues? I'm as patriotic as the next guy, but this is one trend I don't get. How about just putting a flag up.
  6. Honestly who are the Adam Lambert fans? Are they listening to the same thing I am every week?
  7. Who cares that KFC will soon have grilled chicken? The last three times I've gone there they've been out of everything I ordered. Do they really serve chicken at all? Maybe they should change their name to Kentucky Fried Potatoe Wedges, cause that's all they seem to be making plenty of.
  8. Can I not see things in 3-D because my eyes are bad or because I know that the 40-foot tall alien that is "shooting at me" is not really real.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This Does Hurt Me More

Today I'm here to prove a cliche. We all grew up hearing our parents say "This hurts me more than it hurts you.", right before they hit you with a belt so big it would bring a smile to the face of Rick Flair as he imagines holding it high above his head. Before we had Fred I always thought this was just something parents said to their kids to justify the beating that was about to take place. After all, what the phrase really says is that "I want you to learn this lesson so badly that I am willing to cause myself pain if it means that maybe just maybe you'll never make this mistake again." As if every swing of the switch simultaneously leaves a visible red mark on the child and a deeper unseen mark on the parent.

As I am now officially the parent of a 3 yr-old I can tell you that while I don't feel every smack on the butt, I definitely am pained before, after, and during the experience. The most painful thing about punishing Fred is that it simply kills my night. All day I spend my time at the office day dreaming about playing cars, tossing the football, playing golf, putting together a puzzle. Not once do I ever think "Man I can't wait to get home and make my child cry all night. What I wouldn't give to sit on my couch and not hear what I'm watching as the sounds of Fred whaling his lungs out echo across the neighborhood." You can't very well head off to the Space & Rocket Center moments after discovering your son took a swing at his "favorite" teacher. Plus...and this may sound wussy, but remember I've worked behind a desk for ten years and have been a part-time freelance writer for 2... it kinda hurts my wrist a little. Even if we pull out the dreaded wooden spoon of pain there's still some wrist action that takes place and typically causes a few aches n's pains.

Instead of "This is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you." maybe everyday I should just wake up go straight to my son and say "Look I know you can't help yourself, but could you pleeease not do anything bad today? I don't want to spank you. I don't want to talk about the bad thing you did with your mother all night. I don't want to hear you scream like you've been shot after only one pat on the but. Basically I don't want you to ruin my night. So before you go out into the great wide open, before you crawl under the class room rug after being told not to, could you please remember your dear old dad and just go make a tower?"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Crap And Other Words I Can't Use No More

Now that we have a 3 year old the time has come in our journey where we learn how fun it is to copy all the things that people say. Sure it's fun to copy something just moments after you hear somebody say it, but it's even more fun to spring the new word or phrase when you least expect it.

Among the words/phrases that Fred has begun throwing out there recently are:
  • Crap-this one is all me as I've even caught myself saying it at church

  • Stupid-this one got him beat within an inch of his life

  • Oh My Gosh- this one has been altered some what and now comes out Oh My Goodness

  • What am I going to do now- I think Lucy says this on a regular basis

  • Well (pronounced Whale)- the moment Fred is bored with the conversation this is his clue that he's moving on

  • I'm the boss- this one disappeared for close to a year, but now for some reason has reared it's ugly head once again.

  • I can't do it- another phrase that is heavily discouraged

  • Your my best friend- this one gets thrown around a lot and typically gets bestowed on whomever is spoiling him at the moment and not telling him no all day

  • We going to do it after later?-this one is automatically thrown at you the moment you tell him no.

  • Okay but after later?- comes after the no to the question above