Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Life has its ebbs and flows;
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
I have to be so concise in what I say in a manual for work that sometimes when people ask me a question I feel the need to expound upon a point. I have a lot of great ideas to share with the world, and I think it is an inherent need of mine to elaborate on those ideas for the first person to start up a conversation with me. The other contributing factor could be the fact that I am in a house with three women. It is hard to get a word in sometimes. I love the women in my life; but geeze maweeze, sometimes I just want to be heard.
Friday, September 24, 2010
To be continued...Stuck in the Driveway Part III
Copyright © 2010 Writing for Fun
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
To be continued...Stuck in the Driveway Part II
Copyright © 2010 Writing for Fun
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I am not going to talk about what I was doing on September 11th 2001 in this post. Tonight, I would rather talk about a couple of things that I have done on this date since that terrible day, things that have helped to make me a better person.
Today, I spent my morning in an American Heart Association CPR class. I had signed-up for this class through my daughter's preschool without really considering that it was the anniversary of the September 11th attacks. It was not until I wrote the class time on the calendar that I fully realized on what day the class was going to be held. For me, I thought it was pretty cool that it was going to be on September 11th. What better way to spend this day than learning how to save lives? Especially considering how many First Responders sacrificed their lives that day trying to save others.
On another September 11th eight years ago, I attended my first Right of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) class. RCIA prepares adults who want to join the Catholic Church for Baptism, if you have not been baptized, First Communion, and Confirmation. Then during Easter Vigil, you receive those Sacraments. I did not start RCIA as a result of the September 11th attacks. This was something that I had wanted to do for a very long time. It just so happened the year I decided to make this journey the first class for the RCIA program at St. Ferdinand Church was on September 11th. I thought that was pretty awesome, and for me it was a wonderful way to spend that day.
None of us can bring back those people whose lives were taken or those who gave their lives to save others that day. No one can heal the hurt that those who lost someone as a result of the attacks suffer. But, we can remember them and, I think, honor them by participating in events that can make a positive difference in our lives and in the lives of other people. But, I also think that this is a day that any American who is old enough to remember the attacks should spend how they see fit. It is not for me or anyone else to tell you what you should be doing today. Every American suffered in some way that horrific day in 2001 – some more than others – it is okay if we grieve differently from one another.
Friday, September 10, 2010
We are approaching one of my favorite times of the year – Fall. We still have 13 days before the autumnal equinox, but here in Pittsburgh we are experiencing Fall-like temperatures and I love it. I don't know what it is about this time of year that I love so much. As soon as the weather starts to cool down and the leaves start to change colors and fall to the ground, I begin to wax nostalgic. I remember all of the wonderful times I had growing up, and I long for my children to have the same fond memories. This evening, I hope that I helped to create that environment for them.
After dinner, the girls wanted to go out and play. They put on their shoes and were out the back door as soon as they were done with their dinner. In fact, Molly only had on one shoe and was holding the other in her hand when she hit the back porch. I was finishing up the dishes in the kitchen; so I was able to watch them from a distance without them really noticing me or modifying their play because I was around.
Their toy of choice this Autumn-like day was a bat and ball. Not my first choice for this type of weather, but they were playing nicely together, and I was not about to interrupt and suggest that they play football. I have learned that when two little girls are playing nicely together, you are best to leave well enough alone. Especially since one of the girls from next door came up to join them. Three girls getting along is like a miracle to me. It was awesome. They were running around playing baseball and giggling. It was pure unadulterated fun. I remember having times like this when I was growing up.
As soon as school started, you had a limited amount of time to play with your friends before it started to get dark. You had to use your time wisely. There was no time to bicker and argue. You had to have your game plan set before you headed out to play. As I remember it, we played a lot of football in the form of actual games or just lining up and running plays.
“Head to the tree and hook left.”
“Run a post route.”
It didn't matter how many of us there were, as long as we had two guys – one to throw the ball and one to catch it. On good days, we had a third or even fourth guy to play defense – one to cover the quarterback and one to cover the receiver. Inevitably, someone got dirt stains or grass stains on their pants. Those were the best of times.
Tonight, I saw a glimpse of what I loved so much as a child in the way my children were playing, and I was happy for them. I do not even care if they got grass stains on their clothes. As my wife says, “That's what they make Oxyclean for.” I hope for their sake and, maybe a bit selfishly, mine that they have many more days like this. These are the things children are supposed to do when there are leaves on the ground.
Author's Note: I am happy to report that the girls did get out the football, unprovoked mind you, before they came in for the night.
Author's Comment: Happy Birthday to the Love of My Life!
Thursday, September 9, 2010
For those of you who have children, you will probably relate to this post. For those of you who have do not have children yet, well...good luck.
As I have stated in previous posts, I have three children. My youngest is 16 months old, and he is, as they say, all boy. Dressing this child is a challenge. He wiggles and he squirms. The boy just wants to get moving. I can respect that. But, Coilin, my boy, you have to give daddy a break.
You cannot run around with one cheek hanging out of your diaper, or worse with no diaper at all. You have not learned to control your bladder yet and I do not need you washing the floors and the walls, if you catch my drift. By the way you giggle when you run away from me, I think you do.
Sometimes, he is so squirmy that I have to lay him on the floor so that I can pin him down with my legs. Before you get concerned, he is no danger of getting hurt. Allow me to explain. I sit with my legs apart. I lay Coilin so that his head is lying towards my feet. (Yes, I understand the peril of having an active 16 months old's feet that close to my crotch.) Then, I take his arms and open them so that his body forms a “T”. Finally, I gently put my legs over his arms applying only enough pressure to keep him from rolling which is surprising little pressure. With that method, I can usally get his diaper changed, his onesie snapped closed, and his pants back on. The shirt goes back on if we can get it on. You have to pick your battles.
As you see, dressing him is difficult; but, what would parenthood be if everything were the same all of the time? We should add another wrinkle. How about we give this boy a bath. That's always a treat. When porcelain is wet, it becomes slippery (or slippy if you are from Pittsburgh). When you set an active baby, who does not have full control of his fine motor skills, on said wet porcelain, you have your very own “Slip N Slide” in the bathroom. You quickly learn to wash with one hand while holding on very tightly with the other. But, that is the easy part. You cannot just take a baby out of the bathtub, dry him off, and then dress him. No, you must lotion this child. We cannot let our Coilin get dry skin. Can you see where this is headed?
Now we have a baby covered in lotion, kind of like a greased pig. The method of holding him down with my legs does not work any longer because now his little arms are lubricated to the point where he could get out of things Houdini only dreamed of. I have no idea how I get his clothes on after his bath. My only explanation is that I some how channel the workers at the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, and I am able to grip slippery children in a single hand. I have no other explanation. So, I say Thank You fish throwing gods for helping me in my time of need.
Author's Comment: For those of you do not know, the workers at the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle throw and catch fish. It is pretty amazing to watch. I found this snippet on YouTube: “pike place market fish tossin”
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
I am extremely annoyed by the Pastor down in Florida, Terry Jones, who is planning to burn thousands of Korans on Saturday. What annoys me most is the fact that I feel compelled to write about him. My goal is to use this blog for fun; I do not want to write whole bunch of serious stuff. But, this situation is driving me crazy, and I have to get it out.
What does he think he is doing? What is tyring to gain by this? A few possible answers come to mind: He really thinks he is doing God's will; He is trying to attract attention to his church to bolster membership; or He has so much hate for Islam that he isn't thinking.
I know one thing for sure that he is doing, and that is boosting sales of the Koran in the Gainesville area. If you think about it, how many of his members have Korans lying around their houses? In a perverse way, the booksellers and publishing houses are going to be benefitting. Especially since Jones & Co. plan to burn thousands of copies. At around $10 a pop, that is a nice chunk of change.
This Jones character is also creating more hate which is exactly what we do not need right now. He is not acting Christ-like. I am pretty sure Jesus would not condone this. I cannot say for sure, because I have never had a face-to-face meeting with him. But from what I have heard and read, this is not how Jesus rolls.
He is acting a whole lot more like Hitler. Mr. Bookburner himself. The Nazis burned any books in Germany that did not live-up to the Nazi ideology. Jones is burning the Koran in part because he doesn't agree with its teachings. Sounds more Hitler-like.
If he is trying to convert people, again, he is not going about it the way his pastor, Jesus, would have done. Jesus taught people about love and helping your neighbors. He did not go around burning Torahs to get people to follow him. No, Jesus performed miracles and healed people. His following grew from his works and has continued to grow for over 2,000 years. Maybe Jones should take a lesson out of the book he puts so much faith in and help others by doing them a service rather than burning someone else's holy book.
I say to you, Terry Jones, if you want to get people to pay attention and not think you are off your rocker, be like Jesus and not like Hitler. Help people. Head north to Shanksville, Pennsylvania and work on the memorial that they are building to honor those that died on Flight 93. Or go to the local VA hospital and help the soldiers who have been injured serving our country. Or if you are dead set on a bonfire, go get some pallets to burn and have a nice prayer service.
Remember, Mr. Jones, channel Jesus; not Hitler.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
My wife is participating in a “Biggest Loser” style challenge at a local gym – Team AMS. It is an 8-week challenge that includes a cardio-kickboxing class (3 times per week), strength and conditioning class (3 times per week immediately following the cardio class), one private session per week with the instructor, Hank Hanasik, and he will address diet and lifestyle issues. The top two winners win money. More importantly, people are going to lose weight and learn how to live a healthy life.
Even though my wife has a great deal of knowledge when it comes to nutrition, eating right, and exercising, I know that the Team AMS challenge is going to help her out. Being able to work with Hank one on one at least once a week is not going to hurt either. I would love to join the challenge myself, but we both cannot do it. Someone needs to watch the children, and besides, my wife is a Stay-at-Home mom. She needs to get out with adults way more than I do, and she deserves to do it. Not to mention, I know that she will inspire me to eat healthier and start exercising again. She is very motivational that way.
I was following a very healthy life-style from April until about mid-July, and it was all because she started taking a cardio-kickboxing class at Team AMS in March. I was eating really healthy, watching my portions, and employing some self control. Then at the end of July, I just became weak and I got lazy. I started eating garbage like hot dogs and chips and ice cream. I totally stopped exercising. It was shameful.
The Team AMS challenge starts tomorrow (9/08). My healthy life-style and exercise regime starts again too. When I am doing things right, I try to eat well balanced meals that are lower in fat and high in protein. I include a lean protein, vegetables, and a starch – Yes, I eat carbs. I should qualify my food plan by saying that I am not trying to lose any weight. I am trying to get fit.
I also allow myself one cheat meal a week. This meal has no limits. I can eat whatever I want and as much of it as I want. The funny thing is that I usually end up controlling myself during my cheat meal just because I realize how hard I have been working and I feel guilty gorging myself. The guilt isn't a bad guilt like when your mom makes you feel bad about not calling her more often. No, this guilt is the “I cannot let my team down” kind of guilt.
I just feel better when I eat healthy. I have more energy which creates a positive cycle. I cannot really figure out what caused me to become so lazy for a month and half. No matter, tomorrow I start back on my healthy path and say Goodbye Diet Vacation.
I also wish my wife and the rest of folks taking the Team AMS challenge good luck.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Labor Day is supposed to be a day that Americans take to time to relax. That was precisely what I set out to do when I was roused from my slumber by a grinning three year old asking me if it was time to get up. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the day did not start out the way I had planned. I had every intention of feeding the girls cold cereal and juice for breakfast. Molly, my six year old, had other plans.
She asked for pancakes to which the three year old, Jillian, wanted to add chocolate chips. To be honest, I did not have the energy to make pancakes. I was tired and just wanted to drink my coffee; but, how could I say no to Molly on her last day of summer vacation. This was one of her last meals before her nine month sentence, also known as school, began. So, the three of us headed into the kitchen and donned our aprons. (Molly informed me yesterday that you do not look very “chefy” without an apron.) I mean really, how hard was it to throw some pancake mix into a bowl with milk, eggs, and oil. The girls would do all of the mixing, and I could drink all of the coffee I wanted while cooking the pancakes. You probably already guessed that this is not how happened.
I opened the pancake mix box only to find that there was less than the required two cups of pancake mix left in the box. No problem. My wife always keeps an extra box of pancake mix lying around. She is good like that. I ran down to the basement pantry to grab this breakfast-saving box of mix; but, it was nowhere to be found. Curse you understocked pantry! How could my wife have failed me so?
On my way back to the kitchen to break the news to the girls, a solution presented itself. There, sitting on the bookshelf, was this thing called a Cook Book. You may have heard of this marvel of publishing. In between hard covers, are sheets of papers with recipes that tell you how to take individual ingredients, mix them together, and create tasty vittles. I could not believe my luck. It was as if God and Betty Crocker had intervened to spare me from breaking my children's hearts. I quickly grabbed the “Betty Crocker 75th Anniversary Cook Book” and flipped to the index. My hands were shaking. Please, please let there be a recipe for pancakes. There on page 128 was the answer to my prays. I scanned the recipe making a mental checklist to confirm that we had the ingredients on-hand. Flour (check), sugar (check), egg (check), milk (check), baking power (check), salt (check), and cooking oil (CHECK!). OH what luck! Breakfast was saved!
Now, making pancakes from scratch is not the world's most difficult task. It does not involve that many more ingredients that the box mix does. I think it is the idea of gathering together all of the ingredients and the measuring vessels that makes is seem so impossible. What? I am being overly dramatic? They are just pancakes you say?
This is bigger than pancakes. Pancakes from scratch flies in the face of modern convenience. Why, it is an assault on what our “Have it Now” society has become. I had to use measuring cups and measuring spoons. You know what though? We have not had pancakes that good in a long time. Maybe it was the fact that we had to take the extra time to make the pancakes. Or maybe it was the fact that I made breakfast with my girls. I do not know. All that I know is that they were yummy! (Even the burnt bacon was tasty.)
In the end, I am glad that there wasn't enough mix. Making something from scratch, even if it is something simple like pancakes, makes life a little more rewarding. Especially on Labor Day.
Author's confession: Later in the morning, I was informed by my wife that she did just by a new box pancake mix. It was sitting in the shopping bag on the floor of the basement where I left it. It was my turn to put the dry goods away. (Whoops!)
Sunday, September 5, 2010
There are days in your life that, as they happen, you realize you will be remembering them for a long time. Today was one of those days. It wasn't a day where we went to Disney World or to someone's house for a party. It was just a day filled with special moments.
The day started off special. My wife was nice enough to let me sleep in a bit this morning, and when I finally went down stairs at 9:30, the girls were very excited to see me. They had actually just started to eat their breakfast. That was when my three year old daughter, Jillian, pleaded with me to sit next to her on the floor. She was so darn cute about it, I couldn't say no to her no matter how stiff my body was. After breakfast, she drew a portrait of me. Well, it was me as monster I was told. I am not quite sure how to take that one...(I promise that I had not yelled at anyone at that point in the morning.)
The next moments came in church. Both girls genuflected upon entering the pew. Catholics do this as a sign of reverence to the altar. My Jillian certainly doesn't understand our customs yet, but the six year old, Molly, is starting to understand. Regardless, the fact that they are cognizant enough to realize that what I am doing in church is the same thing that they should be doing is awesome in and of itself. Later on in Mass, the three of us held hands and said the “Our Father” (also known as the “Lord's Prayer”) with the rest of the congregation. The wonderful part was they held the other's hand without complaint as we prayed. Some times they really make me believe they like each other.
I am not going to sit here and run through the rest of todays wonderful moments; but, I will mention two more. After Jillian's nap, Molly, Jillian, and I cuddled on the couch watching “Aarti Parti” on DVR. (Yes, dads are allowed to cuddle with their children. In fact, I encourage it. It is a wonderful experience for all involved.) It is an indescribable feeling to have two children that you have helped to create and raise nuzzle in to you, even if it only lasts about five minutes. They got hungry and wanted a snack – they are my children after all.
How can I leave out my son on this day of special moments? He and I did one of the things that many dads and sons love to do – wrestle. Well, it wasn't technically wrestling. Coilin just kept crawling on me and sitting on my chest. Hey, give him a break. he is only 16 months old.
The chances are that he and the girls will not remember this day, but I will, and that is all that really matters. As long as one person remembers, that moment remains something more than just an evening at home with the family that passes on into oblivion.
Maybe, if this blog is still around when my children are old enough to fully understand these things, this article could help to trigger a special day long forgotten and turn my cherished memory into something that my wife, children, and I will be able to share forever.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
I was trying think about what write for a blog entry while driving to work the other day when lo and behold the answer appeared to me in the form of my archenemy of the roadways – The Rubbernecker! This is a type of person that I don't understand. Why, oh Why do you need to slow down whenever you see an accident? I am not talking about a courteous or necessary slowdown when the accident is in your lane and going the speed limit may injure someone or cause another accident.
NO! I am talking about the accident that has occurred in the opposing lane of traffic where there is, at the very least, a substantial barrier between your car and the car(s) involved. A substantial barrier to me is any form of median strip whether that is a Jersey Barrier or 30 foot strip of grass. There is no reason for you to slow down. You are not going to hurt anyone or cause another accident if you maintain your speed. I can even understand slowing down a little bit under the posted speed limit to be sure that no emergency personnel are going to cross into your lane to reach the victims.
But that isn't what happens. The Rubbernecker has to slow down to a crawl to see what is going on. I have never, ever understood this, and I have tried and tried to put myself in their shoes. Are you looking to see if it is someone that you know? Are you an ambulance chaser working for a personal injury lawyer? Or, is it just morbid curiosity and you want to see the carnage of an automobile accident? I am going to go with 99% of the time it is morbid curiosity.
Now, the accident that spurred this entry did not appear to be the blood and guts kind. How do I know you ask? Was I Rubbernecking? No, I was not. The Rubbernecker in front of me was going 5 miles-per-hour – 5. At that speed, I could tell by glancing out of the corner of my eye that there was a flatbed tow truck loading a pickup truck. At this point in the accident cleanup, if there was another vehicle involved, it was gone. The only car attending to the accident was a police officer with his red and blue lights flashing in the early morning light. Acting as a beacon to Rubberneckers in the area to come and see the accident.
Why people! Why must you Rubberneck? Just drive! Drive On!
The kicker is what happens as as soon as the Rubbernecker clears the accident. (This really drives me bonkers!) The same people who are going 5 miles-per-hour to Rubberneck immediately accelerate to cruising speed or above. In the case of my Rubbernecker, he had decided to go above crusing speed. He had put significant distance between himself and me. Even when I reached the speed limit, he was still putting some separation between us. He probably felt like he needed to make up for lost time so that he was not late for work. That Rubbernecking is a time consuming activity.
So, I say to you Mr. and Mrs. Rubbernecker if you feel you need to get your fill of carnage everyday, watch the news or go on YouTube and search for accidents. Just stop Rubbernecking. Let me get to work. I need to get to work. I want to get to work. I don't want to sit in molasses traffic, because somebody needs to look at an accident. I ask you again, Drive On!
In closing I want to pose a question to any of you Rubberneckers out there: Why do you Rubberneck? I promise I won't hold it against any of you that answer. I promise you dispensation from the sin of your past Rubbernecking transgressions. I need to know. This question has been bothering me for a long time. Think of it this way, dear Rubbernecker – you will help me to become a better person if I understand why you Rubberneck. Consider it your good deed for the day.
Friday, September 3, 2010
There are certain things in life that I, as a father, expect of my children. Some of these, I know, are going to come across as chauvinistic or possibly sexist. I am totally fine with that. The bottom line is that there are certain things that I expect. For my son who is only 16 months old, the expectations are few at this point.
He is old enough now to play in the sandbox and therefore old enough to be subjected to one of my first expectations. He must play with a truck in the sandbox. The truck should be sturdy with thick, chunky wheels that have a proper tread for making trails in the sand. To my great pleasure, my son passed this test. (Author's note: There is a tear rolling down my cheek as I am writing this.) It is a proud, proud moment in my life as a father. A truck in the sandbox – it is like Peanut Butter & Jelly or Pizza and Wings – it is the perfect combination.
Now, let it not be said that I am total male chauvinist. If it had not worked out and he wanted to play with Dora the Explorer or Tinker Bell or whatever “girl” toys my daughters have in the sandbox, I would have been totally fine with that. The point is, he had to give the truck a try. Playing with trucks is a rite of passage for boys. In the future, if he leans towards playing my daughters' toys, so be it. So long as he is given ample opportunity to play with toys geared for his gender, I will be satisfied.
When he gets older, he will have to give Lincoln Logs a try. It is important that boys learn how to build something. I think that he will have some competition with my second daughter though. She may end up with the Lincoln Logs first. She definitely leans towards being a builder/engineer. If I had to guess , I would say one of her first projects would be building a crib for one of her baby dolls. She loves to work with her hands and stack things; but, she loves to play with baby dolls too.
I will not apologize for having expectations for what I think my children should try, and as long as they give whatever that expectation may be a try, I will be satisfied. I am not one of those parents who raises their children in a box, or according to a strict paradigm, forcing them into being something that they are not. I am going to guide my children towards what I think is right. I am going to give them every tool I can to help them succeed. But, the ultimate and final decision will end up being theirs. And so, this guidance for my son begins with him playing with a truck in a sandbox. What becomes of the truck, is up to him.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I rented the movie “Julie & Julia” this weekend for my wife. Being the dutiful husband that I am, I watched it with her. It was a cute movie, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it was a bit inspiring. Fine, it was really inspiring. I am sucker for a movie that has someone who puts a lot of hard work into something and is then rewarded at the end. That’s what this country is supposed to be about, right? Work hard and get your big, fat reward.
I think sometimes though we miss the boat about what that reward actually is. Maybe we get so hung up on the living the perfect movie ending that we do not realize that we aren’t always going to get a book deal after all of our hard work is done. Perhaps it is true that part of the reward, and arguably the most valuable part, is what you become while pursuing that prize. I buy that philosophy.
To that end, I have decided, probably like a million other bloggers who either followed the Julie/Julia Project or saw “Julie & Julia”, to set a goal for myself. By August 31, 2011, I will have 365 blog postings. This is not to get a book deal or to have the most popular blog in the Universe. This challenge is for me and to see what I become in the process. Note: Any book publishers who would like to offer me a book deal are more than welcome to contact me. J (Yes, I know that Lance Armstrong would be very disappointed in my use of an emoticon.)
Forgive me if you think I am pulling a stunt or being a copycat, I am not. I merely using a movie that I saw as the inspiration the Producers meant it to be. I started this blog in June 2010 and have published three posts – THREE! That’s very, very sad. When I started this blog, my goal was to give myself some place to “unwind my mind.” What I ended up doing is giving myself writer’s block. I was so worried about trying to create the perfect post that I ended up being too scared to write anything. The result was a dried-up little brain.
With my challenge to myself, I also give myself permission to write an imperfect post from time to time. (Although, I bet if I asked my mom, she would tell me they are all perfect. No matter how old I get, I know I can count on my mom to tell me how wonderful I am.) Lest you think I am disrespecting my wife, I am not. She tells me how wonderful I am when I deserve it – which is quite often. All other times, she tells me the truth about things, which I greatly appreciate.
So I end the first of 365 posts with this thought. It really doesn’t matter what the end result of this exercise, so long as I follow through. Stay tuned…