Monday, August 27, 2012

A Sweet & Salty Mix

I often stare at my children in disbelief at the latest insane thing they have done and wonder where they learned to be so hard headed. Lately these questions are quickly put to bed by a memory from Grandma Hamm's kitchen.

The first thing I did when I stepped foot in that house from the time I could walk to the moment I got my license & could provide for myself was go straight toward the kitchen. Outlined with rich wooden cabinets and a linoleum tile floor that had yellowed over time, the kitchen was a treasure chest full of culinary delights. It was common in those days before they became afraid of salt, cholesterol, and taste to find a leftover T-bone, a fried pork chop, or a slice of cold pizza.

I had to have been around six or seven. It was one of the rare occasions that my scavenger hunt for food had come up short. I was forced to settle on a bowl rice chex. I remember her sitting across the table in those old leather dining chairs that spun around; the perfect thing for an after meal adventure trying to cross the room without putting feet on floor. As I began the process of pouring the cereal and adding the milk, I grabbed for the salt.

"Hey hey hey what r you doing there?" "I always put this in my cereal at home Granny"
"Are you sure you don't mean sugar? That's salt you're holding"

As if she were the one making the mistake by questioning my judgement, I replied in disdain "I know what it is! I do it all the time.". After all this was not my first bowl of cereal. Still she persisted "Sweetie I don't think you understand. That is salt! Not sugar. " It didn't matter though I was right and that was that. So in went an entire teaspoon of salt into the bowl of milk & chex.

Now immediately as my taste buds began to seize up, I understood that the old lady sitting across from me with that look of despair across her face was more wise than I was giving her credit for. Still just like my own children some thirty years later, I couldn't stop the madness once it got I added another dash in hopes it would by some biblical miracle make the disaster better....which it didn't.

I remember the sense of dread that came over me as I was forced to either admit I was wrong or eat the entire bowl of seawater chex that lay before me...and I remember eating the entire bowl drinking the milk and all. I never once admitted my mistake although I'm positive the truth was plastered all over my face. To this day I remember that smirk on her face as she asked if I'd like another bowl.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Shake Down Break Down You're Busted!

Now that school is back in full swing Adam is back to his old tricks. Yesterday morning we was walking around the house with a flashlight that no longer had batteries. On the way home after school, the MIL took him by Mandy's office per the usual. Mandy noticed him playing with the flashlight and asked him how it got from the house to the car without going to school in between. He immediately fessed up that he'd put it in his pocket on the way out the door. No idea what he was doing all day with a broken flashlight, but still that point is the same....should I really have to shake down my 6 year old before he leaves for school every morning?

Monday, August 20, 2012

My First Day

I've spent some time thinking about this the last couple of days and I guess for me there is only one first day of school that stands out. I was going into my sophomore year at Bradshaw High School and was dreading it. Freshman year had been an endless nightmare filled with enough torture to make even the most staunch patriot crack. Name calling, fights, money stolen, crammed in garbage cans; the only thing I learned that year was to blend into the background. A skill which proved to be an asset then and later during those years I should have been trying to stand out; a liability. A crutch I would use to get me through any uncomfortable situation.

I remember sophomore year because it was the year I met Party Man. Party Man's schedule matched mine almost exactly and we quickly became friends. I was the Ed McMahonn to his Johny Carson. The Robin to his Batman. The Willow to his Buffy. He was the show and I was the audience that followed behind constantly clapping. For the next several years Party Man pretty much set the tone for my social life. I was still getting picked on and threatened on a regular basis, still getting thrown into garbage cans, and embarrassed beyond belief for hours on end, but Party Man was always there to throw me an invite to the coolest party. If it wasn't for my friend Party Man there's no telling if I would have made it out of high school.

Last night as I lay there struggling to go to sleep on the eve of Adam's first day of first grade and Alex's first day in his new preschool class at The Hill, those images of high school returned. I flipped and flopped all night long, bit off every fingernail & more that I had, and dreaded today as if I were the one starting the new school for the first time. My boys are so much like me. The way they look. The things they say with a dry wit. They are obsessive and compulsive and creative....and last night all I could do was pray that when it came to making friends and fitting in at school, they would turn out to be like their mother. The most popular and amazing person ever to walk through the halls of Coffee High School.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Last Game Of Charades

As I mentioned yesterday I had to take a vacation day (or a Pain & Suffering day as I now call them) because Alex had an ear infection. What made yesterday different from other sick days was that it was historic in that it was the first time Alex could tell us what felt bad.

Obviously he points and pats when he bumps his head or skins his knee, but being as he's still learning his words when a virus or cold comes along up until this point he's not been able to point and say "This hurts". Last night this changed when he looked at Mandy, grabbed his ear, and said "My ear hurts".

Now this may seem like a minor event, but I think it really shows how grown up he's becoming. That one sentence put an end to the guessing game that started with a scream the moment he was born. No longer will there be any doubt as to what he wants or what he likes. The last game of charades has been played.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pain & Suffering Day

After a day spent chasing around Alex, taking him to the doctor about an ear infection, going to the grocery store, and taking Adam to a splash pad party, I've decided there needs to be a new category for days off of work.

Vacation days should be for trips to the beach,days spent fishing or playing golf, a family outing to the zoo. They should be reserved for good times.

Personal days should be for those days when life takes an unexpected turn. The air conditioner goes out at home, the basement floods, the car dies. Personal days should be for life crises.

I think there needs to be a set aside number of days for when your child pukes all over you three different times, or runs a fever of 103 yet never stops running around the house like a chicken with it's head cut off, or cries for no reason what so ever.

Trust me it's no vacation keeping up with a sick kid and personal time seems to hint at time spent alone dealing with a problem. I'm thinking these new days should be called Pain & Suffering days. I'm mean honestly somebody has to be suffering for me to use even half of a paid day off and at the end I'm left feeling sick from wearing myself out all day taking caring of someone else.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Splish Splash We Were Taking A Bath

As the father of two boys at times I feel like I've seen it all. Flights of stairs leapt in a single bound. Busted lips. Cracked heads. I've heard them say things that put their intelligence and my sanity in question. I've seen them act like patients in a mental hospital one minute and angels the next. After all I've seen and all I've heard though, I'm always surprised with what they do next.

Taking a bath sounds simple. Water goes in, children get wet, hair is washed, children get dry. Not always....

It's Saturday night and it's just me, the boys, and one simple task i.e take a bath. The boys go into the water and the playing starts. I leave them be for a few minutes to let them have their fun. I return to an inch of water in the floor. Being the Dad I immediately start the scolding. "What were you thinking? Look at this mess!! No more splashing!!"

I leave the room once again. It's quiet for a moment then the laughter starts up full force. After several minutes I decide to wrap the party up. I enter to water in the floor!! I think to myself "They Listened!!". Then I see the water is also gone out of the tub and yet the playing continues. "What are you doing!" " Daaaad you said no more splashing so we let the water out. We are slip & sliding!!" "Adam what about soap..your hairs not even wet" "I didn't know we were supposed to take real baths"

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Education Trepidation

In less than two weeks the boys will be starting school and for various reasons this year is going to be more than just a little unnerving. Alex is going to be away at daycare and away from Adam for the first time in three months. Vice-versa Adam is going to miss his little shadow as he heads off to the first grade.

Being as this is somewhere around the tenth first day (I'm using fuzzy math there) I've had to face, I can pretty much quote the rules by heart. No flip-flops, no toys, no medicine without a weekly signed slip, no fevers, no rebates for being out a day even though if you are sick they ask you not to come in. Don't come too early. Don't stay too late. Don't forget to pay us on the 15th.

I just wish things could be different. That Alex could stay home and not cry when we drop him off everyday. That Adam could stay this age and stop changing so fast. I wish life could be easier and not such a strain at times. That we could laugh more, worry less, and stay this way forever.

I love baby talk, first steps, trying new foods, playing new sports, going to the splash pad, watching them watch classic movies for the first time. I miss Barney, The Wiggles, Winnie The Poo, and Mickey too. All of these things are getting further and further way with every passing day.

Another first day of school for them means another day lost for us.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Two Dudes Surfing Some Tubes

One of the things I'm most proud of about this summer was the time Adam and I got to spend alone surfing the waves. He's no longer a baby and gone are the days when he was happy with sitting in the sand building castles. For hours on end he would take his blue inner tube and ride wave after wave into the shore. Mandy and I kept thinking he would realize he was getting further and further away from us, but sure enough I'd have to trek down the beach and get him to come back.

For the better part of two days that's all he and I did. Catch a wave, ride it in, catch another, ride it sounds so simple yet it was so nice to spend those endless hours without having to scold him or threaten to take something away. We were just two dudes surfing some tubes.

On the last day of the trip, the ocean was the calmest it had been since we arrived. Barely any waves at all. As hard as we tried there just wasn't anything happening so after an hour we decided to head back to the beach. No more did the idea get out of our mouths then a huge wave caught us off guard knocking us both off our feet. The last thing I saw was him shooting out of his inner tube head first under the wave. As I surged back to the surface, panic struck for just a moment. I quickly caught a glimpse of his feet in the air and was on top of him the second he popped out of the water gasping for breath.

Reassuring him that everything was fine and he was safe, we sat there quietly making sure everything was as okay as we were claiming it was. Adam broke the silence with "Dad...I think my head touched the bottom of the ocean." "Probably so buddy. You did at least a flip or two." "Two? I think I did six flips!!" Pausing for a moment while staring off into the horizon, he then let out a long breath, threw up the high five sign and screamed "THAT WAS THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER!!!!!"

Again I was filled with pride and wanted to do my dead level best to make sure this wouldn't be the last time he entered the ocean. "You were awesome!!! Let's get out there and do it again!!" Unfortunately while there was no fear in his voice, he admitted that was all the awesome he could handle for one day. So there we left it. Just two dudes chilling on the beach after a long day of chasing waves sharing an awesome story. Really don't see how it gets much better than that.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Living On Summer Time

Many of you noticed I broke my resolution after 6 months and quit posting for several weeks. I needed a break and honestly time got away from me. During the time off we took Alex to the beach for the first time, enjoyed sometime around the house relaxing, and simply had a ton of family time. As I did yesterday I'll go back so as to share some of the stories from the missing month and attempt to stay current at the same time.

As it stands now we are just two weeks from school starting and change is once again in the air. We've neglected Adam's studies a bit so there's a renewed focus on reminding him of everything he forgot from kindergarten. All the while Mandy & and I are dreading taking Alex back. It's nothing to do with the school, we just wish he could be at home during the day. One upside though is that he won't be roaming the house looking for Adam or his favorite sitters Asia, Anna, and Amber.

Before I go here's a pic of Alex taking his first step on the beach. See you tomorrow!!

Monday, August 06, 2012

The True Tale Of Terrifying Timmy

It was our first beach vacation in over three years and we had been in town for less than a couple hours when a collective growl swept across the family. Looking to kill a bit of time as we waited for our room to open up, we decided to hit a nearby fav called Desoto's Crap Shack. With an aquarium filled with fish straight out of Finding Nemo and some of the best seafood the Gulf of Mexico has to offer, walking into Desoto's felt like home. When Timmy sat down next to us and screamed "DVD" at the top of his lungs we immediately realized a new less pleasant memory was about to be created.

I can't recall ever seeing a parent bring what had to be a 15 inch portable DVD player to a crowded restaurant before. I do know that the moment I witnessed it chills ran up and down my spine warning me of the terror to come. How bad could this child possibly be if he requires a big screen TV to be placed in front of him during every meal

"Timmy sit and watch the movie for mommy"
Like a drunk frat bro let loose on the public, everything Timmy said was as full blown scream.

I'm not 100% sure Timmy referred to himself in third person, but a month later it was if an evil supervillian had sat next to us and with him came a never ending narration of what he was about to unleash on the unsuspecting crowd. "TIMMY LIKE FISHIES. TIMMY SIT HERE...NO THERE...NO HERE...TIMMY SIT OVER THERE. TIMMY LIKE MOVIES"

"Timmy do you want chicken? Timmy do you want fish? Timmy do you want burger?"
Timmy's mom apparently had one purpose in life and that was to be his personal slave, begging for a moment of acknowledgement in hopes of pleasing his every whim. "Timmy do you want soda? Timmy is that movie okay? Timmy want some bread? Timmy Timmy Timmy Timmy....

As if things could not get much worse, Timmy began to scream at the top of his lungs for no reason other than to cause pain and suffering "WHAAAAAAAAA WHAAAAA WHAAAAAAA" It wasn't a cry of pain, more like a police siren that bounced off every surface in the building. Alex's eyes about bugged out of his head, mouth dropping to the floor as if he was witnessing a new creature that apparently lived among the pastel blue houses and beach front condos located along the ocean. "WHAAAAAA WHAAAAAAA"

Each time he screamed the crowd of tourists jumped a few inches out of their seat as if the wave had suddenly broke out among the dinners. With as much effort as someone might put into asking for another fork for their meal, the mom began the Timmy Please's "Timmy please stop. Timmy please watch your movie. Timmy please eat your food. Timmy please watch your drink. Timmy please don't do that"

Not happy with the movie or only half the restaurant looking at him, Timmy decided to take the show on the road. Leaping out of his seat and starting a circuit that began in front of our table and did a figure eight through the dinning area, Timmy ran with sirens blazing "WHAAAAA WHAAA WHAAAAA WHAAAA WHAAAAA"

Thankfully and mercifully our food was delivered in quick time, tasted like a slice of heaven, and was just as quickly cleared. As we ran for our lives to the van which had earlier that day felt like a confinement cell for six hours, I took one last look back at Timmy who was destroying poor Desoto's like Godzilla taking out Tokyo. To this very day everytime I order fish and fries I break out in a cold sweat and hear that awful siren "WHHHHAAAAA WHAAAAAA WHAAAAA"