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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:

Demo!

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:

counters

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.

 

For Jonah…

5 Dec

… And the millions of other kids who are bullied and abused every day.

For those of you not in the know, Jonah is a kid who has been bullied for years.  This is his story:

Like Jonah, I was tortured / bullied throughout middle school. Not because I was any different from anyone else in my school. Not because I was gay (although it was certainly said often enough). Not because I was anything. I was a Nothing. And Nothings get teased, picked on, poked, prodded, laughed at, and kicked to the curb on a regular basis. We Nothings are the kids who are beneath “regular” members of society. We are made to feel like we deserve the treatment we are getting.  There were plenty of times when I thought about ending it all.  Fortunately for me, I had a few great friends who got through to me and convinced me that things would get better.

Even being convinced that things would get better didn’t cure things.  For me, things didn’t get better until someone took things too far. After 2 and a half years of being bullied verbally, mentally, and emotionally, they got physical. I was pushed from behind in the locker room after gym class. I turned around and started swinging. I swung at the first kid standing behind me. A kid I easily out weighed by 20 pounds. I punched him, hit him in the chest. He punched me back. Several punches were exchanged, then I took a step back and kicked him. I put every bit of anger I had into that kick. I lifted him off the ground (not really surprising as I could leg press 500 pounds when I was 14). Yes, I got in trouble. Yes, it was worth it. Suddenly, I wasn’t a Nothing anymore. I was a Something. I’m not sure if I liked what I had become, however, I did like that I was FINALLY left alone.

Please note: I’m not trying to trivialize what is happening to Jonah.  What I am getting at is, that sometimes standing up for yourself is what it takes. Sometimes going with the status quo isn’t enough. Sometimes action is required. I’m not saying that Jonah should take up fighting. Something has to be done for that poor kid and the millions who are bullied who don’t speak out.

I know there are a lot of other videos out there saying he faked the video.  So what.  If that kid was acting, then he is taking an important step to bring the effects of bullying into the mainstream.  People need to see what bullying does to kids.

How can you help?  Simple.  If you see someone being bullied, put a stop to it.  Go to that bullied kid and introduce yourself.  Be their friend.  Be there for them.  Honestly, what can it hurt?  Are you afraid that you will be bullied as well?  I know if ONE, just one of the kids who stood by had stood up to the bullies, I would have felt amazing.  They say that two wrongs don’t make a right.  Standing by while someone is bullied is just as wrong as being a bully.  Stand up to bullying and put a stop to it.

This weekend, I learned some things

3 Oct

That’s right.  Things.  Many, many things.  Yes, I will of course tell you all about them.  Let me build this up will you?

Now, where was I?  Ah, yes.  Things.  So in order of their happening, here are the things I learned this weekend:

1.  When my father-in-law and his brother are together eating at Wind Tiki, hilarity ensues.  My father-in-law is usually a pretty funny guy.  Get his brother and a few Mai Tai’s in them and he becomes hilarious.  I think I may have peed my pants.  Just a little.

2.  Installing a new front door is not too difficult.  Removing the old door prior to installing the new?  Not. Fun.  At least I remembered to remove the old one before installing the new one….

3.  Weddings can actually be fun.  After spending the entire morning, and some of the afternoon installing a door, the last thing I wanted to do was go to a wedding that we had RSVP’d to 6 months ago and I had completely forgotten about.  I didn’t even remember what I had put down for my dinner…  Turns out I had the steak.  And what a steak.  Perfectly cooked (rare thank you very much), with garlic mashed potatoes (with a bit of skin in there for good measure and the potatoes actually mashed not whipped).  A couple of Jerry Collins and a beer to round things off, and I was very content.  Getting to spend time with The Bosses family was awesome.  They are good people.  We should get together more often.  I’m not sure if my sides can handle it though.  I was laughing way too much.

4.  This may be the most important lesson I learned this weekend:  CHECK THE WATER DEPTH PRIOR TO DOING AN OTTER SLIDE WITH YOUR KAYAK.  Knowing me, I will have completely forgotten this the next time I try it.  Rather than sliding gracefully into the water and popping back up without getting wet, I torpedo’d.

Instead of doing this:

I did more like this:

Did any of the people I was with happen to get a picture, or even more funny a video?  No.  Of course not.  I guess I really will have to try it again….

Why can’t I find work that…

14 Sep

… would allow me to indulge in my hobbies 90% of the time?

How wrong is it that all I want to do is go fly fishing, take photos, wakeboard, and snowmobile?  Anyone got any ideas about what sort of jobs would allow me to take part in those activities on a regular basis?  Preferably while getting paid…  I’m not asking for much in the way of payment, either.  Just enough to pay the bills, put food on the table, and gas in the boat/car/snowmobile.  Is that too much to ask, really?

Okay, enough whining.  Back to reality.

Things have been insanely busy around our house.  I guess it’s that time of year.  A new school year has started.  That means the Boss is back to work, Thing 1 and 2 are back in school, and I’m finally able to get some peace and quiet before going to work.  Right?  Wrong.  Stupid school changed the start times of the middle and elementary schools.  Big deal you may say, but I say it is a big deal.  That means that the Boss and Thing 1 leave early, leaving me to bring Thing 2 to school on my way to work. (Man, I’m being SUCH a whiner today)  Eh, it’s not all bad.  Thing 2 is pretty low-key and usually is ready to go about 10 minutes before Thing 1 is (and she leaves an hour before we do…).  He pretty much leaves me alone to read the news, check my email, etc.

In addition to bringing Thing 2 to school every day I’m also coaching his soccer team.  For the past 5 seasons I’ve been coaching Thing 1’s team.  She decided to try out for the middle school team (and made the team).  It’s a nice change of pace coaching boys rather than girls.  There is no gossiping, no stupid girl fights, etc.  They just get right down to business.  They are there for one purpose:  to play soccer.  They play soccer quite well.  Our first game last Saturday our boys won 7-1.

I got nothing so here’s some photos I’ve taken

31 Aug

Yeah, that’s right, I’ve got nothing.  Nothing to write about.  I could write about the aftermath of “Hurricane” Irene, but no one wants to hear about having to pick some twigs off the ground because the “Hurricane” was a disappointment at my house (and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who were injured, or had actual losses from the hurricane).  So, here are some of my photos for you to look at.  With your eyes.

I do shoot some in color also

Hope you enjoy my photos.  If you feel inclined to purchase a print of any of these please contact me:  erumsey@gmail dot com.  How’s that for a plug?  Pretty good, right?

 

 

 

All by myself…

16 Aug

That’s right readers; I’m all by myself this week.

It’s just me and my dogs.  It is now official:  Working bites.  The rest of the fam is off enjoying themselves in the Adirondacks, boating, swimming, waterskiing, etc, while I sit in my cramped office getting bitten by fleas.  That’s right folks, my office has fleas.  What a place to work, huh?  Oh, of course they’re going to do SOMETHING about it, but who knows WHEN they are going to get around to it.  That’s how it works around here.  Something is always supposed to get done.  Rarely does it ACTUALLY get done.

I’d rather be out fishing than here.  Yup, fishing.  Specifically, fly fishing.  It’s something I’ve recently picked up and fallen deeply in love with.  It’s much more challenging than spin fishing, and very calming.  You never notice the time going by when you are fly fishing.  It hits you when you are suddenly unable to see your line due to how dark it’s gotten.  Not at all like being stuck at work where you watch each and every agonizing second go by waiting for quitting time.  You hope and pray that time will just speed up.  Just a little bit.  Just enough to bring quitting time a few minutes early.  Is that too much to ask?  Maybe I’m in the wrong profession….  Actually, I’m 90% sure I’m in the wrong profession.  10% of me likes the vacation and sick time I’ve accumulated…  I want to be like the rest of my family.  I want to teach.  Yup, everyone in my family is a teacher or works in a school system.  What does that mean?  That means that every summer my mom, dad, bro, and sister-in-law spend the entire summer together at the lake.  They have the ability to do nothing all day.  They could spend the entire day on the boat doing nothing but tanning, taking the occasional swim.  I know that they work extremely hard during the school year and earn their time off, but come on!  I want more than a week off to try to cram a full summers worth of activities into 9-10 days.  I think I’m going to have to take 2 weeks off next year.  I need that extra time off to really get away and relax.

I was a strange kid…

2 Aug

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “WAS?!”, very funny.

You know how every kid wants to be a firefighter or policeman when they grow up?  Well not this guy.  No sir.  I never wanted to be a firefighter or police officer.  I had no interest in it.  I wanted to be an architect.  Playing with Lego was a huge part of my growing up.  I had (actually still have) a 60 gallon cooler filled with Lego along with two huge bins.  I’d bet I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 pieces.  Probably more, I’ve never counted.  I have built entire cities, airports, planes, cars, ships, etc out of Lego.  I spent hours and hours building the perfect model.  My neighbors and I would play for days with the cities we had created.

I never did become an architect.  These days I do get to do some design work, however.  I do 3d mapping for subdivisions and house lots which I always include a house or two.  I’ve spent days, weeks, months in front of the computer designing the perfect house using Google Sketchup.  I was told to just make boxes and drop them in place.  No way, no how.  I can’t do it.  I don’t know why.  I put so much detail into each house they look move-in ready.  I even put cars in the garage.

Here are a couple of my more recent models:

See I even put pictures on the walls

I even did a hot rod shop, which later morphed into a school which would have the students spend half their day learning normal subjects, then the rest of the day working for me on hot rod projects.

This school is what I’d do if I ever won Powerball or whatever (I suppose I should actually play if I want to win…).  My dad teaches in an alternative learning high school where the kids go to school in the morning, then spend the afternoon at various jobs.  There are a ton of requirements to get into and stay in his program.  I see this school as an extension of that, where the kids would go to school in the morning, then have the option to learn a skill in the afternoon.  The kids could build their own cars, or work on customers cars, or my own collection.  I know it’s pretty far fetched, but isn’t that the point?

So there you have it, from dumb kid who wanted to be an architect, to dumb adult who wants to be a teacher / hot rod builder.  Told you I am strange…