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Today is Thing 2’s birthday!!

30 Jun

Today is Thing 2’s birthday.  He turns 9 today.  9 flippin’ years old.  I remember when he was 2 and the night he graduated to a big-boy bed.  He was always an early riser (still is).  He would usually be awake bouncing in his crib or playing with the couple of toys he had in there.  Well this morning was different.  Bored with playing with his toys, he decided to get undressed.  I mean completely undressed.  Unfortunately, he had also crapped himself.  What is a naked 2 year old to do?  Why let’s finger paint!  That sounds like an awesome idea!  Where did he get finger paint from you ask?  Right from his loaded diaper.  Yeah.  That was TONS of fun to clean up.  The weasel.

3 was a very trying year for us.  He was becoming his own little person and also becoming very annoying.  Thing 2 is the most stubborn person I have ever met (besides myself).  Most 3 year olds start to think about potty training, ABC’s, and maybe reading a little bit.  Not Thing 2.  He has always been one to decide for himself when and where he is going to do things.  He refused to be potty trained until his 4th birthday.  He was told at his party that it was against the law to not be potty trained when you are 4.  “Do I poop on the law?” he asked.  Honestly, how do you respond to that?  “Well son, it’s fine to poop on the law, just don’t be surprised when they haul your sorry ass to jail for doing so.” is not an appropriate response to give a 4 year old.

When he was 5 and entered Kindergarten, he did not like his teacher.  Because of this dislike (which was mutual, btw), he would refuse to recite his ABC’s in front of her.  She thought he was the dumbest kid in the world.  We thought she was the dumbest teacher in the world.  Thank God she only lasted 2 years…  Thing 2 is the luckiest kid in the world.  This year he is given his very own snowmobile.  He learns that going really fast and falling off don’t hurt when you are well padded and have a helmet on.  This ends very quickly.

6 was fun.  We took our first trip to Disney World (with the kids) when he was 6.  It was absolutely amazing to watch his eyes light up when seeing Mickey Mouse for the first time.

7 things just keep getting better.  Thing 2 repeated first grade.  He learned to read, to love science (like his old man, and gramps), and to make new friends.  He tries to kill me on our sea-doo, by trying to make a 90 degree turn while we are doing 50mph.

8, the year we just past was trying.  We had a hard time with his teacher initially.  2nd grade is much harder than first.

Here’s hoping that 9 is a great year!  Happy birthday bud.

Hilariously Inappropriate

17 Jun

This morning we had some hilariously, unintentionally inappropriate comments shouted throughout the house.  Today is pajama day at school (way to teach until the end of the year).  The kids are allowed to wear pj’s and bring in a stuffed animal.  Thing 2 is bringing a stuffed beaver (see where I’m going with this?).  He always gets very excited about the end of the school year.  This year is no exception.  He was running through the house yelling at the top of his lungs, “My beaver loves wood!!!!”  Over and over again.  Then he switched it up to anthropomorphizing the beaver with, “Hi, I’m a beaver, I love wood.  Got Wood?  I love woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood!!!!”

Dear Lord, I love my family….

Day 8: A song you know all the words to

16 Jun

I think it’s time to take it back to the old school.  Yes there are modern songs I know all the words to.  Some of them are even clean enough for me to print all the lyrics.  That is beside the point.  I have had a great appreciation of music drilled into me from a young age.  My dad made sure I was brought up right.  I grew up listening to bands such as The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Gordon Lightfoot, etc.  As a result, I know all the words to most of their songs.  It amazes my kids that I know the lyrics to songs recorded 5-20 years before I was born and can sing them.  What amazes me is Thing 2’s ability to hear a song once, and instantly remember who sings it, what the title of the song is, and what the lyrics are.  If he hears a chorus, he is singing along (in perfect pitch of course) by the time it comes around again.  The other day we were driving home from the playground and Kiss’ Calling Dr. Love came up on the playlist.  Thing 2 knew in 4 notes that it was Kiss.  So I had to challenge him.  “What song is it?”  “It’s that Calling Dr. Love song, dad (duh!).”  I can’t stump him.  Guster?  He knows just about all 268 songs of theirs on my ipod.  The Beatles?  Probably his favorite band, next to Kiss (What 8 year old born after 1990 loves Kiss?).

I digress.

My song today is a song from a band that I got hooked on as an early teenager.  My dad bought Pretzel Logic from the dollar bin at a gas station somewhere on the Mass. Pike.  He popped it in the tape deck and we listened to Steely Dan for hours.  I love that whole album.  With songs such as Barrytown, East St. Louis Toodle-Oo, and Charlie Freak, I was fully engrossed.  However, one song sticks out above all others on that album.  Rikki Don’t Lose That Number is my favorite Steely Dan song.  It’s a song I know all the words to.  It is also a song that I’m emotionally connected to which makes it perfect for this list.

Day 7: A song that reminds you of an event

15 Jun

Oh boy.  Where do I start with this one?  Do I start with the song I heard when I first found out my wife was preggo with Thing 1 (REM’s It’s the End of the World as We Know it)?  Or how about the song Meg and I danced to as our first dance (Garth Brooks’ The Dance)?  Or the song that reminds me of when my son was born (The Who’s Happy Jack)?  Nah, I can’t do anything that sappy.  Who do you think this is?  Yesterday I posted about how the Dukes of Hazzard theme reminds me of all the good times I had on my orange boat the General Lee.  James Taylor’s Fire and Rain just started playing on Pandora.  How perfect is this.  Every time I hear that song it reminds me of one of the best concerts I have ever been to.  While working at Camp, I and a couple of friends got late curfew and were able to head to SPAC (Saratoga Performing Arts Center) to see James Taylor.  We hopped into Boo’s jeep Dixie and made the hour and a half drive from Speculator toSaratoga.  We had lawn “seats” and were open to the elements.  We sat next to this cool older couple who offered to share their wine and cheese.  The guy kept giving me thumbs ups all night because I was sharing a big blanket with two hot chicks.  Sadly, one is basically my sister (no blood relation, but close enough), and the other was one of my friends girlfriends.  It was still cool to have this guy think of me as a player or someone who could score two hot chicks.

So there you have it, a song that reminds me of an event.  I have fulfilled the requirement for day 7.  Meg’s probably going to want to hang me for not picking The Dance, but honestly, I can’t put a Garth Brooks song in my list.  I’m too cool for country (Yeah.  Right, says the guy putting James Taylor on the list).  Initially I was going to stick with REM, but seeing as my world hasn’t ended, and has become awesome having Thing 1 in my world, I can’t really put that.  I may change my mind in another year, however as she is starting middle school in September.  I could have gone with Happy Jack and been completely content with my choice.  However, this would not provide the necessary fodder for negative comments from Meg and probably my mom.

In which I break dad’s camera

8 Jun

Picture this:  You are 13.  You are dressed in a white shirt, black pants, and a tie.  You have on pretty nice dress shoes.  Your euphonium is in the back of the van.  You are on your way to your first “real” concert.  None of this sissy 6th grade stuff.  You’re in 7th grade.  Band is cool (ok, so it really wasn’t cool, but go with it).  You ARE the low brass section.  You will knock this one out of the park.  Everyone piles into the van, the engine starts, dad puts it in R for race (or reverse, it was a 1980’s Chevy van after all).  Dad pulls out of the garage, puts the door down.  We’re on our way.  We are not on our way.  We stop just outside the garage.  The van is in P for STAYING PUT.  Dad has forgotten his camera.  Boys, go get my camera.  We fight.  I lose.  I open the door-from-Hell (seriously, the side door on this van was the door-from-Hell), and hop out.

I run to the front door, fling it open and run down the hall.  Screeching to a stop, I turn left and run down the second hall to the bedrooms.  Dad’s camera is in the guest bedroom.  Forget the bag.  He doesn’t need it.  Just grab the camera, throw on the flash, and get the heck out of there!  We’ll be late if I don’t run like mad!!!  I race down the hallway.  I step onto the very edge of one of the runner rug things.  It slips.  My feet slide out from under me.  I go down.  HARD.  The camera goes flying.  Crash, smash, boom.  Oh.  Oh no.  Dad’s going to kill me!  I sit on the floor of the hallway, scrunched up rug in front of me holding the camera in one hand and part of the flash in the other.  I’ve broken dads flash!  He’s going to kill me!  He. Is. Going. To. KIIIIILL. Me.  Slowly.  Painfully.  Maybe I should just go out without it and say I couldn’t find it.  No, that won’t work.  He’ll just come in and get it himself.  Well, I’ve lived a good life.  Not particularly long, but good.  The only option is to face the music and the wrath of dad.  Maybe he’ll let me play in the concert then kill me.

I trudge slowly down the rest of the hall and out the door.  Shoulders slumped; I make my way down the walk to the van waiting in the driveway.  Dad instantly knows something is wrong.  He always knows when something is wrong.  He asks what’s up and I hold up the two camera parts.  Dad starts yelling.  And yelling.  And yelling.  I just stand there and take it.  Then I explain how my shoes are super slippery and I slipped on one of moms rugs (yeah, that was a great idea, blame mom).  Dad calms down and tells me to get in; we’ll deal with this later.  Mom calms him down and takes a look at the camera.  Turns out I just broke off the hotshoe on his flash.  The camera itself is fine.  I may yet live to see another day.  We head out to the concert and I play my heart out.  Who knows, this may be my last.  Dad never said a word about his camera and/or flash after that.  He simply picked up another flash and we went on our merry way.

Cameras are very important for my family.  As far as I know, it started with my grandfather.  He was very big on photography.  My dad caught the bug and gave it to both my brother and me.  Currently, I’m the photographer of the family.  My kids have also caught the bug.  They are always bugging me about using my gear.  Every time I hand over my camera to them, I think back to that fateful day when I was 13.  I don’t know what I would do if they broke something.  I don’t think it would be very pretty.  Or nice.  I think they know this.  They handle my camera(s) with more care than they give fine china, babies, and/or priceless sculptures poised on very thin, unsteady pedestals.

Have you ever broken something priceless to your mom or dad?  What was the result?  Comment below:

Driving Mr. Rums

7 Jun

Mom, you may not want to read this one….


I love driving.  I have since I first took my moms car without asking when I was 14.  I officially started driving on my 16th birthday.  In reality I’d been driving for a couple of years on and off.  I have driving almost every day since then.  Yes, I know.  Who cares about that.  You want a juicy, possibly embarrassing story.  I’m getting to it dang it.  Let me get some set up in here will ya?!?!

Once I got my license I was “forced” to play chauffeur for my brother.  I may have pissed and moaned a bit, but the reality of the situation is that I would get more time behind the wheel, and this was a good thing.  One night I picked my brother up from a dance at his school.  He told me that we needed to bring two of his friends home because their parents couldn’t come get them.  No.  Problem (I get to stay out later driving around?  SCORE!).

So we take off, flying down some country back road that used to be part of my bus route.  It’s funny how in 2 years you forget where the huge jump is in the road.  This is the kind of bump in the road, that at 25mph in a bus, you hit your head if you are behind the rear tires.  I think we were doing about 60…  Yea Haw!  (People wonder why I’ve always liked The Dukes of Hazzard)  This was the first time I had ever been airborne in a car while I was driving.  I’ll save the first few times I was airborne for another time.  CRASH!  We hit the road, compressing the shocks, then they rebound all the way, then compress all the way again.  Whew.  Made it!

Oh.  Crap!  A 90 degree turn?!?!  Seriously?  Here?  Now?  We’re going to die.  Hold on to your butts!  Needless to say, we made the turn perfectly and I got a quick glimpse in the rear-view mirror.  The two kids sitting in the back seat’s eyes were the size of dinner plates.  They were HUGE.  I’m surprised they didn’t pee or poo themselves.

Let’s here your driving stories!  Post below:

The dogs we’ve had

6 Jun

Over the years, my family has had many dogs.  Most have been Heinz 57 specials from the pound, though a few have been pure breeds.  A few have been oh so very stupid, a couple have been super smart, most were just normal dogs.  There was a period from Junior High School until college, when we didn’t have a dog.  This was mostly due to mom’s horrible allergies (which I have inherited.  Thanks mom!), but also due to us all working at a summer camp where dogs were not allowed during those years.

 The dogs:

 Newman:  Newman was a St. Bernard / Great Dane mix.  Yes, he was HUGE.  I don’t really remember him as he died when I was 2.  I’d love to have another giant like Newman though.  I’ve always been a fan of big dogs.  I just love them.

Salada Tea:  Yes, I did name my dog after a brand of tea, what do you want, I was 3.  Tea was one of the best dogs we ever had.  Tea was a Great Dane, or maybe a Great Dane mix.  She was the gentlest dog ever.  I used to ride on her back when I would get tired during our walks through the orchard.

Bob Dog:  We got Bob from some friends of ours.  Bob was dumb.  D. U. M. B. dumb.  Bob was the muttiest of mutts.  Bob would constantly roam our neighborhood and would gladly come up to anyone for a scratch on the head and a lick to the face.  He was a good dog for us, as most mutts are.  I’m not sure how long we actually had Bob, but it couldn’t have been too long, a few years maybe.  Bob was stolen from us one spring day.  Bob was out roaming (as usual) when a strange truck drove up (according to neighbors).  The driver of said truck opened the passenger side door and said, “Bob.  Here Bob.  Get in the truck boy.”  That was the last we ever heard of or from Bob.

 Curtis:  Curtis was the first pure bred dog (that I’m sure of) we ever had.  Curtis was a Treeing Walker Coonhound.  Curtis came to us from my uncle Bob (no, not the dog).  Curtis was another great dog of ours.  Unlike most hounds, Curtis almost never barked.  He barked about 3 times over the entire time we had him.  He once scared my brother half to death with his bark.  My brother was patting his butt while Curtis ate his food.  Mom warned him to knock it off.  Curtis took care of it all by himself.  Curtis turns his head slowly, stares down my brother, and lets out thisHUGE bark.  I think my bro peed himself.  Just a little bit.  I’m going to have to find the picture of Curtis wearing my brothers little league uniform.  He was a good dog like that.  He really didn’t care what we did to him.  He just took it and was happy to have a home.  Curtis had to be put to sleep after drinking antifreeze which was accidentally left in the garage on the floor.  Curtis is one of the dogs we miss the most.

Sally Beans:  Sally is the first dog my wife and I got together.  Sally is the funniest looking dog.  She is a basset hound / German Shepherd mix.  She looks like a German Shepherd with little legs and slightly longer ears that flop over.  We got Sally from the local pound 7 years ago.  When we saw her, we immediately thought she was a Corgi mix of some sort.  I call Sally our $5 special since that’s what her adoption fee was.  She has been the best dog.  She has all the best qualities of both a basset and a Shepherd.  She will actually herd the kids down the hall, nipping at their heals if they run too fast.  She thinks nothing of jumping up into your lap for cuddle / nappy time.  She is a great watch dog as well.  Sally is now 9 and starting to show her age.  She doesn’t really want to play anymore, and loves to curl up on the couch or in my lap for a nap.

Charlie:  Charlie was the second dog the boss and I acquired.  Charlie was a beagle / basset mix.  We fostered Charlie for a while, fell in love with him, and had to keep him.  When Charlie was found abandoned, he was covered in ticks and fleas.  He had Lyme and who knows what else.  He was a very old man and senile.  He used to go out our back door (4 steps to the ground) and come into the house from the front door (12 steps from the ground).  He would sit in the neighbor’s driveway for hours.  When our neighbor would come home, she would yell out her car window at him.  Charlie would never move.  She would have to get out of the car, pick him up, and set him on the lawn between our houses.  We were told Charlie was about 8.  As it turns out Charlie was at least 13.  One afternoon, the day before Thing 2’s birthday, something about Charlie was off.  I took him to the vet, where they did some tests and took x-rays.  The vet was astonished that he was still alive.  He had stomach and liver cancer.  I took Charlie home to say goodbye to the kids.  Charlie was put down on the boy’s 4th birthday.

 Bailey:  After having such an awesome experience with Charlie, the boss wanted another beagle.  I told her she was nuts.  This is the one time I was actually right.  Bailey has been a constant source of annoyance for me and to certain extent the neighbors.  She is ALL beagle.  She barks, howls, bays, etc.  She is scared of snow, rain (yet loves being out in both), leaves falling, squirrels.  Birds have stopped coming to our feeders because of her barking at them.  She’s lucky she’s cute.  In reality, I do actually like Bailey.  She is a sweet dog who loves the kids and loves to curl up with them in their beds.

Tell me about your dogs!  Comment below

The saddest days of my life

2 Jun

Growing up I was very close to my grandparents on my mom’s side.  I’m still very close with my gram.  She’s the best.  So was my gramps.  My gramps served in the Navy in World War II, on a submarine chaser.  He came home to Dayton,Ohio and became a teacher and then a principal.  When he retired, he and my gram moved out toConnecticutto be closer to family.  They eventually bought a huge white colonial with a detached garage and a small barn on the property.  I used to sleep over their house and would hang out with my gramps while gram was doing her thing.  My gramps and I would sit in his study and listen to Bill Cosby and Bing Crosby records.  We’d play war/forts, with Legos, and we used to spend hours sitting in their attic looking at old photographs and talking about life.  Those are some of my favorite memories and times.

My gramps was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the late ‘80s / early 90’s.  For a few years he was still the same gramps I had always known and loved.  Then things changed.  Suddenly the bright, fun-filled, intelligent man I had known diminished.  We stopped taking long walks around their property and hanging out in their barn.  We stopped spending hours in the attic playing fort and talking about life.  We even stopped listening to records.  My gramps, the guy who I thought would out-live us all, was not there anymore.  His body was there.  His facial expressions were the same.  His mannerisms were similar enough.  The light just wasn’t there anymore.  The bright, cheerful smile was missing that special sparkle in his eyes.  That gleam of mischief was gone.  He never affectionately yelled, “Callie!” at my gram anymore.  Not that he would ever really yell at her.  She always did things her own way and fit perfectly to the song:  Caledonia.  With lyrics such as:  “Caledonia !Caledonia ! / What makes your big head so hard? / I love her, I love her just the same / Crazy ’bout that woman ’cause Caldonia is her name.”  The song fits her to a tee.  My gramps loved my gram like I’ve never seen before or since.  They spent every day together, working in the garden, mowing the lawn, and taking care of their house.  Since my gram doesn’t drive, gramps would drive her on her errands.  They did everything together.

1993 my grandparents moved from their huge white house into an assisted living facility.  This was really hard on all of us.  I remember sitting on the couch with my gramps as my mom and gram were packing things up.  He started talking to me like I was one of his Navy buddies.  He talked about his training, being on the boat with “me”, and the crazy shenanigans “we” got up to.  I think this was when it hit me that my gramps wasn’t ever going to be the same.  He wasn’t going to get better from this.  I was so hurt by this I actually wrote a poem about it, which was published in an anthology of poems by kids.

January 14, 2002my gramps at age 84, finally succumbed to Alzheimer’s.  He died peacefully in his sleep, yet to me his death came many years earlier.  Gramps, I know you’re in a better place.  I miss you.  This one’s for you:

In Which a Hamburger Jumps

1 Jun

When I was 17 and my brother was 14 we took our last family vacation.  We went down to Disney World during April vacation.  Since this was our last family vacation we went all out:  We stayed at the new Wilderness Lodge, a striking building reminiscent of the great camps of theAdirondacksand thePacific Northwest.  We got park hopper passes so we could visit whatever park we wanted to, whenever they were open.  We had an awesome time together as a family, and my brother and I on our own.  Since we were old enough to do things on our own, we often took off to hit up some of the better rides and attractions that my folks didn’t want to go on, or were too scared to go on (Ha like my mom is scared of anything.  She survived raising the two of us for goodness sake).

Now for a little background:

My brother is the smartest person I know.  He is absolutely brilliant.  He is also extremely stupid.  Or rather he was extremely stupid.  I don’t know how someone so smart could have no common sense what-so-ever.  NONE. N.O.N.E.  He is also very forgetful.  Remembering birthdays, phone numbers, little things like that completely elude him.  When he was younger he always managed to spill something while eating.  Usually he would spill on himself, though sometimes others we the victims of “friendly fire”.

 Back to Disney:

As I said, we went all out.  This included our meals both in the park(s), and at various resorts.  We of course had breakfast at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Resort.  We had dinner inGermanyone night.  We ate at the Whispering Canyon Café in the Wilderness Lodge (all you can eat BBQ, yes please!).  At each location my brother spilled something, dropped something, or knocked something into his lap.  Our last full day, my brother had one clean shirt left out of the 12 or so he brought for our 7 day trip.  We were eating that night at the Grand Floridian, a place we had never dreamed we would ever step foot into, never mind eat at.  As we sat down mom told my bro not to spill, drop, or otherwise stain his shirt as it was the last clean shirt he had.  I know if I was told that, I would have to look at it as a challenge to stain my shirt, cause that’s the kind of person I am…  My brother on the other hand is not such a person.  “Mom I didn’t do it.  I promise you!  The hamburger just jumped from my plate onto my shirt.  I didn’t do it, honest!”  “He’s right mom, the hamburger jumped (See, I’m not such a bad big brother, now am I?).”  “Boys!!!!”  “What?”  “We didn’t do it!  The hamburger jumped, honest!”  One $20 Disney t-shirt later….

Let’s here you family vacation tales.  Comment below!

Replacement Words

31 May

The joy of having kids is that we get to use replacement words.  Such words have a double meaning, or even a triple meaning.  I’ve used many such words in my 11+ years of parenthood.  My grandma is famous for also using such words.  My grandma uses “sugar” as her favorite replacement word.  Got a hang nail?  Oh sugar.  Just cut yourself?  SUGAR!  Sugar is also shortened to “Sug” a term of endearment.

My newest and most favorite replacement word is Bandersnatch.  I first heard the term from the 2010 Disney film Alice in Wonderland.  In the movie it’s a large hairy creature with sharp-pointy teeth.  In my replacement word usage, it has replaced everything from S#!t, the f-bomb, to any other word(s) that I don’t necessarily want my kids to hear.  “Awe Bandersnatch” is a common phrase to spout from my filthy sailor’s mouth.  At a cook-out on Saturday, we were discussing replacement words.  When I told the group of assembled party-goers my favorite word, they were a bit taken back.  “It still sounds filthy” said one.  I replied in my usual snarky manner that it was because the last half of the word is snatch.  That’s what I like about Bandersnatch.  It’s clean enough that Disney (and Lewis Carroll, though he was NOT that clean) used it, yet dirty enough to be successful in delivering the desired effect. 

Past favorites have been:  sugar (Thanks Gram!), blast, what in the world, and fork for obvious reasons…  Replacement words don’t tend to stick around too long.  Soon enough the kids will find out what word you are replacing and give you that look.  All parents (dads especially) know that look.  The look that says, “I’m telling mom!”  The look that let’s you know that your little girl isn’t that young anymore.  That she knows what’s going on.  It’s the same look you receive when you’re driving in the car and that one inappropriate song in your current playlist comes on.  As soon as they hear that f-bomb or s-word, you know.  You’re screwed.  The Boss’s going to find out.  She’s going to wring your neck.  “Mom!  Dad was swearing!”  “What’d he say THIS time?”  “Well, he said Bandersnatch, but what he meant to say was….”  This usually results in a verbal reaming for both me and The Thing which has figured out what word I was replacing.

Parenting is hard.  If it weren’t for the fun moments, I think we’d all eat our young.

Do you use replacement words?  Which are your favorites?