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The Real Good Luck Charlie, Chapter 3: What are we going to do with all this stuff?

24 Sep

So Charlie, we’ve got a few weeks until you’re supposed to show up and we’re drowning in stuff.  Your stuff.  Would you mind cleaning your room?  Please.  We’ve got strollers and swings and clothes and diapers and bedding everywhere.  Two pack-and-play’s, a crib, AND a bassinet.  Why does someone who is estimated to be about 7lbs at birth need all this stuff?  Oh…  Right.  You’re a baby.  That’s how you roll.

So you’ve got a lot of stuff.  Huge thanks to everyone who gave, bought, borrowed, and/or possibly stole all the stuff that we have received for you.  We’ve been given a great start, seeing as we had given away all your siblings stuff when they were no longer babies.  It’s such an odd thing to go from having absolutely nothing to having almost no room to move, and stubbing my toes on all your stuff.  It’s a great feeling, but an odd feeling.

Some Tips:

– Your aunt and uncle bought your all your crib stuff.  Make sure you thank them by being so cute that they get a jump start on this whole baby thing.

– Your grandmother bought you one of your cool strollers (dad basically stole the other one, more on that later).  Make sure you thank her by making her take you on walks with Mr. Parker.

– Your other grandmother bought you tons of clothes.  Make sure you always look cute and don’t throw up, poo, or pee in/on any of them.

– Many of our friends and family bought you all the cool stuff you’ve got.  Make sure you thank them by actually USING it, not just playing with the box.

So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, HURRY UP!  But not until after this weekend.  Mom’s in a wedding.  It would be very rude of you to attempt show up while she is on the middle of the dance floor.  However, seeing as you’re my kid, well….

Good Luck Charlie, you’re going to need it…

The Real Good Luck Charlie, Chapter 2: Parenting 101

18 Sep

So Charlie, here we are, 1 month from when you have been scheduled to make an appearance.  If you are anything like your sister and brother, you will be a bit early.  This is also the LAST time you will ever be a bit early (again, if you are anything like you sister and brother).  We’ve been real busy getting to this point.  We’ve been organizing, cleaning, washing, installing, and putting things together all in preparation for your arrival.  We also took a birthing class at the hospital.  We did this with your sister 14 years ago, don’t think you’re special.  We do it for all the girls.  We skipped it for the boy.  He was, is, and always will be easier than you two.  About 20 minutes into the class, I had a thought:  What are they actually teaching us?  To tell you the truth, not much.  Rather, they did teach us quite a bit about what to expect during the birthing process.  What they didn’t teach us was ANYTHING about parenting.  Not that the boss or I need any help.  We’ve successfully kept 2 kids alive for 14 and 11 years.  Believe me, that’s no mean feat.  What about the new parents, who don’t have other kids that they figured things out with?  What will they do?  Wing it?  Read stupid books that doesn’t really tell you anything useful?  Probably.  Which led to a second thought:  Could I teach a Parenting 101 class?  Would it be successful?  Would people pay me for the privilege of having the boss and I tell them all the little secrets?

This led me to think about what I would want covered in a Parenting 101 class if there were such a thing.  Here are the basics of what I came up with:

The class would start off with the moms and dads to be in the same room.  We would go over the basics: feeding, diaper changing, clothes changes, what to pack, how to not ever get a mini-van (provided you stay with less than or equal to 3 kids), etc.

Then the men and women would split up.  The men would go with me, the women with your mother.  There the real learning would take place.  The men would learn things like speed diapering, how to hold a beer and feed a baby (and how not to mix them up), clothes wrangling, avoiding getting peed or pooped on, etc.  I guess the women would learn things like how to swaddle, baby powder 101, breast or bottle, couponing while dealing with a fussy baby, etc.

At some point, I suppose the women and men should trade places and go over the same things.

Then we would all come together for a conclusion of some sort, followed by a celebration of some sort.

What do you think?  Do you think people would participate?

As always, Good Luck Charlie, your dad is obviously insane.

The Real Good Luck Charlie

6 Sep

An Introduction, or an Open Letter to Charlotte “Charlie” Ruth:

First:  Nothing

Then:  Blam!  Stars, planets, you know what?  That’s too far back.

Let’s skip ahead:  Dinosaurs, ice age, people, horse and buggy, the automobile, computers, cell phones, 1999.

1999, a year of firsts.  First time your mother and I were married (also the only time).  First year your sister was present on this planet.  No, I’m not sure if she was ever alive elsewhere.  Knowing her, probably.  So mom tells me she’s pregnant.  I flipped my cookies.  We were both in college at the time.  We got an apartment, started working while also going to school (I switched colleges), and got hitched.  Everything was great.

Then 2002 rolled around and your brother was born.  We were still both in school and working AND raising your sister and brother.

Fast forward to 2004, the year we moved to our new house.  We moved in January on the coldest day of the year.  In October of 2004 we got Sally.  You know her.  You know the one whose ears you’re always pulling.  Yes the old one.

We were continuing to be a happy family in our tiny house with our 2 kids and 1 dog.  Then we got Bailey.  Yes, the one who wakes you up from naps with her howling.  That’s mom’s fault.  I didn’t want a beagle.  She did.

Let’s fast forward to 2011.  During the summer of 2011, Mam and Pops decided that our house was too small.  That we needed more space.  We started cleaning EVERYTHING, and throwing away tons of stuff.

Then we started the addition.  We added mom and dad’s bedroom, you and your sister’s bedroom, and redid the whole house.  Don’t you love the kitchen dad built?  Yes, of course you do, it’s awesome.

By this time, your sister was 13, your brother 10.

One night at bedtime, mom slapped me in the chest and says, “Don’t freak out, but I’m pregnant.”  Yeah.  Right.  So I freaked out.  All.  Night.  I didn’t sleep a wink.  I was so worried about what to do.  Eventually, I came to be happy that our family of 4 was to be a family of 5.  Now I’m super excited to meet you and to see what person you will become.

That’s about as far as I can go with this since you’re not yet born.  All I have to say is:  Good Luck Charlie.  You’re going to need it.

When Good Enough Isn’t

27 Jun

I am by no means a perfectionist.  “Good Enough” might as well have been my motto.  I am SLOOOOOOOWLY starting to realize that “Good Enough” is NOT Good Enough.  For me it all started with a table.  Yes, I know how weird that sounds.  I started to make a coffee table for my living room out of reclaimed wood from an old mill.  The top and apron came out just about perfect.  The legs?  Not so much.  They wobble.  Not badly, not dangerously, just a little bit.  I know what I need to do.  It’s not a huge deal to fix, I’m just not sure I can be bothered.  Rather, I’m not sure I should.  I’m thinking that I should leave it alone as a reminder that “Good Enough” isn’t.

I recently completed a second coffee table.  This one is made from old pallets, hand cut nails, and a reclaimed 4×4 for the legs.  This one has no wobble.  This one is “Better Than”.  It’s built better than the other.  It’s stronger than the other.  It’s all around a better table.  As soon as I figure out what sort of finish I’m going to apply to it, I may put this one up for sale.  Should it sell, I plan on starting on a dining table.  Eventually, I think I’ll start a shop on Etsy or something to sell custom reclaimed tables (just like the other 9,647* people currently doing exactly that).

At the moment, I am slowly working my way through some old barn wood to build a table for my dining room.  I know I probably shouldn’t be focused on a table for me, when I could/should be making tables to sell to others.  However, I feel that I need to get my “Good Enough” dining table out of the way, so I can start making a bunch of “Better Than” tables for sale.

Here’s a song I love titled “Better Than”:

*number MAY be exaggerated.  Slightly.

So where have we been?

6 Nov

Have we fallen off the side of the Earth? (long-live the flat earth society!)  Did a herd of buffalo’s trample our computers into teeny tiny bits?  Did I just get lazy and say forget this whole blogging thing?

Nope.  None of the above.  We undertook a HUGE project, that looking back was insane, looking forward, totally worth it.  We basically gutted our whole house, put on an addition, and re-did just about everything inside.  Yes, I realize that I should probably have blogged all about the experience along the way.  Let me tell you something:  when you work a full day, then go home and work another 4-8 hours on your house, you’re way too tired to bother blogging.

So let’s play catch-up shall we?

Here’s what we started with:

this is what we were doing to the house:

This is how we did it:


The bathroom and kitchen became the kitchen, the old master bedroom became the kids bath and laundry room.

Framing and roof trusses:

Out with the old, in with the new:

Roof is on:

flooring starts to go in:

siding is up:

I install the kitchen:

drawers and doors:


almost ready for the sink:

now with more sink!

Were there trials and tribulations along the way?  You betcha.  Our electrician was a half-wit.  Our builder was 6 weeks past his deadline.  The floors in the kitchen didn’t match up to the hall, meaning I had to put in a threshold.

Oh, and some drunk did this to my car:

It’s okay, ’cause now I drive this:

Okay, if you’ve stayed with me this long, here comes the cool stuff (to me).

We’re wrapping our kitchen bar 1/2 wall in this:

So what is it you ask?  It’s 150 year old flooring from an old mill.  It’s beautiful, and so totally cool.

In the master bedroom we’re doing wainscoting from 100 year old flooring we got from The Bosses great-aunts house:

So that’s about where we’re at.  After almost a year of cleaning, renovations, building, and cursing our failed electrician, we’re back in business.


Sort of proud…

14 Oct

I think we’ve been over this before:  I’m a horrible person.  H.O.R.R.I.B.L.E.

Last week was parent-teacher conferences for Thing 1.  She’s in middle school now, so I guess they’re sort of a big deal…  So The Boss and I go to the conference (leaving Thing 1 at a soccer game with some friends/family) to meet and talk with her teachers.  Of course The Boss works in the school, so she already knows everyone.  Me?  Not so much.  On the way The Boss tells me that Thing 1 told someone in band that she was afraid she was failing Social Studies.  Well turns out, she was right.  She got an A-.  For reference, see the first 2-3 seconds here:

Her teacher said she was doing great, and was an awesome kid to have in her class.  All good things.  Whew!  To be fair, the Social Studies curriculum is very difficult and she has one of the top grades in her class.

We go around to most of her other teachers and as it turns out in her core subjects she is a straight A student.  The important (to me) classes:  math and science she has a 95 and a 98 respectively.  Woot!  I am so proud of my little girl for really blossoming this year and for doing so well.  Of course I’m a cynical pain-in-the-butt and can’t ever actually say that I’m proud of her without first poking fun and/or making a joke of things.

Back to the soccer game we go.

I walk right up to her majesty, Thing 1, and beckon her to come see me.


“Come. Here.”


“I. SAID. COME. HERE.”  At this point her friends have shocked looks on their faces.

She gets up and walks the couple of steps to me “What?”

“Why are you failing Social Studies?!?”  Her friends jaws drop to the bottom of the bleachers


“You heard me:  WHY ARE YOU FAILING SOCIAL STUDIES?!?”  Yes, I did raise my voice a bit.

A terrified 12 year old responds:  “Daddy, I’msosorryit’sreallyhardandI’mdoingmybest,honestlyit’shardandI’mdoingtheverybestIcan!!!!!”

“A 92 is unacceptable!  How could you only get an A-!”  A smile ghosts across her face

“Daddy!”  Her friends, relieved, bust out laughing.  “That was the best thing I’ve ever seen” – Thing 1’s friend

I get a hug and go back to my seat.  Later, I told her the rest of her grades and how proud of her I was/am.

They keep coming back!

1 Aug

Last weekend The Boss and I dropped our kids off with my parents in upstate New York.  They were in for a week of boating, beach, and goofing off without mom and dad around.  It’s great for them, as they get the freedom of being without their parents, and they get to do all sorts of great activities.  It’s great for us as we get to do adult things and have actual conversations.  Not to mention we can go out and stay out as late as we want (9:30 baby!).

Sadly, they both came back yesterday.  And we’re stuck back into the same old song and dance.  Fighting over the remote, feeding the dogs bits of their dinners, etc.  Oh well, it’s only for 5 days.  Then we all go back up for a week of fun.  This year we’re bringing some friends with us.  And their 4 kids.  What is wrong with us?  Are we crazy to have a house with 14 people and two dogs?  Did I mention that two of the kids are under 3?  Yeah.  The 4 older kids I know we don’t have to worry about.  They’re a piece of cake.  If they get annoying, we can send them across the street to the playground, or drown them, or send them to the beach.  The littles, who knows.  At least they’re not my kids….

Perhaps the best part:  After our week of vacation, the kids are staying for another week and a half.  The Boss may go back to join them, so I’ll have the whole house to myself.  YIPPY!!!!!

The Last Boy Scout

18 Jul

When I was in the 6th-7th grades, I was a Boy Scout for a minute.  I thought it would be pretty cool to learn how to start fires, handle an ax, etc.  I was sort of right, mostly wrong.  Turns out the Boy Scout troop I joined sucked.  They didn’t do any cool stuff at meetings like other troops did.  We didn’t even learn how to start fires or chop stuff up with axes during meetings.  We had to go to camp for that stuff.  So I go to  scout camp.  What a joke.  Our troop is the laughing stock of camp.  We can’t tie knots, do Morse Code, or start fires with a couple of sticks (ok, we were lazy).  Our scout leaders must have been pretty sick and tired of our goofing off and not earning any badges while we spent out time goofing off.  They told us we would all get our fire chits (apparently you need one of these to start fires…) if we could keep a fire going.  Did I mention it was pouring rain?  Yeah.  It was pouring and they want us to keep a fire going?!?  Well thanks to one well placed London Fog rain slicker (mine) and some dry wood we probably stole from another troop we got our fire chits.  Immediately we had one corner cut off for our stunt (get all 4 corners cut off and you can’t start fires anymore).  Our troop leaders were like that…

Fast forward to winter.  We sit in the local elementary school gym going over some useless nonsense when the leaders announce a winter camping trip that’s mandatory.  Mandatory winter camping?  Pass.  They wanted us all to go back to camp to freeze our collective asses off during February break.  No thanks.  So I tell the leaders I’m not going.  My family and I had already planned our annual ski trip.  Sorry, no way am I going to skip that to eat crappy hash and freeze my butt off in a tent.  The oldest leader stops the whole meeting, looks at me and says, “You need to decide where your priorities lie, with your family or with the Scouts!”  Yeah, sorry buddy.  Family first (and skiing).  Hands down.  I left the meeting and told my mom I was never going back.  I think I owed about 4 months worth of dues anyway.

In which I become a hustler

13 Jul

Big surprise, huh!?!?

Growing up I had a tournament size pool table in my basement.  I learned how to play when I was 9 or 10 years old.  I learned to hustle pool at 11.  We always had family friends, bible studies, high school kids, etc hanging out at our house.  People were always playing pool at our house.  It did not take long for me to realize that high school students are dumb and usually have cash on them.  It was very easy to get them to bet me a quarter or fifty cents that I could not make a shot.  Usually I did.  I raked in a good bit of dough playing pool.  To a 11-12 year old kid this was awesome.  Even more awesome was that a CVS just opened up a quick bike ride away.  I bought so much candy it’s a wonder I have a single good tooth left in my head…

Fast forward a couple of years:

So now I’m 16 and have just gotten my license and have to figure out someway to pay for gas.  I worked all summer to pay for my insurance and to have some spending money throughout the year, but this was quickly drying up.  What’s a guy and his best friend to do….  Why not hang out at the local bowling alley / pool hall?!?  It was very easy for us to drive over (even though it was right next to the CVS which a few years ago I was riding my bike to), grab a table, and pretend we didn’t know anything.  Eventually one of the guys playing at the other tables would challenge us to a game.  We would of course say yes, but only if we could put money on it.  Not a problem for those guys, they were going to beat us hands down, we didn’t know what the heck we were doing.  We’d usually let them do pretty good for a while.  Then we’d start getting them to bet on our shots.  That’s when we would switch from no-nothing shlubs to pool hall junkies.

I can’t count how many times we got kicked out of pool halls.  I was even banned from the one around the corner from my house.  I would show up, and the guy on duty would kick me right out.  Still, I managed to keep gas in my car, and a smile on my face as some dupe would take our bait.

Congratulations Jean and Jeff!

11 Jul

This weekend two great friends of mine tied the knot.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to be their photographer for the event.  While I was extremely nervous about having the responsibility of capturing their big day, they made things super easy for me.  Bridezilla (as she was affectionately called by her hubby-to-be) looked absolutely beautiful.  Actually she looked just like Marilyn Monroe.  I kept looking for a subway grate to re-create that famous photo (sadly there are no subways on Cape Cod).  Surprisingly I wasn’t a bit nervous as the day progressed and the wedding actually arrived.  Maybe this was due to me being fed quite well by Hubby-to-be (a fantastic chef).  Maybe it was because everyone was so chill about the whole thing.  Who knows…

Here’s the first photo I have processed.  Don’t they look awesome?!?!?!?