Monday, November 29, 2010

Why I Watch Christmas Movies/Specials

It is official. It is time to start watching Christmas Movies and TV Specials, and I couldn't be more excited. (For simplicity, when referring to movies, I am also referring to TV Specials.) I love to watch Christmas movies this time of year. It is for a simple reason - Christmas movies are full hope and redemption. 

With the world seemingly falling apart around us, I can sit down and watch a movie about a man who thinks the world would be a better place without him. But, he quickly learns that world is better place because of him. Or, I can see how a human raised by elves was able to bring Christmas spirit to, of all places, New York city. Or, I can follow the path of one grumpy old man as he is enlightened by ghosts that it is not too late to change. That he too can make a difference, a huge difference in the lives of those around him.

I feel good about life after watching these movies because it reminds me that there still is hope, and we can all be redeemed. Life is not as bad as some people make it out to be.  We can make a difference. Like I said last night, the catalyst does not need to be much. Start by smiling at someone or just saying hi. Just maybe, you will give that person hope and a reason to believe. It is that simple.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

1st Sunday of Advent

Last week, I posted an Introduction to Advent, a quick overview of the season along with a brief description of my favorite Advent Tradition - the Advent Wreath. I look forward to lighting the candles on our family wreath, and I really enjoy watching the priest light the church's wreath. I was fulfilled at home this evening; but, I was three minutes late to church, and I totally missed the wreath lighting at church.

This was the first time in a long time that I was late to church. I was bummed, and I have no one to blame but myself. The girls were at their grandparent's. So, I only had me to get ready.  I guess I thought I had more time than I really did. The other bummer is that we sing "O Come, O Come Emanuel" as the opening hymn - missed that too. Well, there is always next week.

Mass was not a total loss though. In fact, that was one of the best homilies (sermon) that I have heard Father give. It was based on the first reading Isaiah 2:1-5. In particular, he focused on Isaiah 2:3 "Come, let us climb the Lord's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths." Father asked us how we were going to go to the mountain this Advent. 

It is so easy to get lost in the secular part of Christmas that we lose focus on the reason many of us celebrate this holiday - Jesus' birth. We also celebrate his second coming and those times that he makes himself known in our lives. He is present. We just have to be open to accept him. 

If you do nothing else during this holiday season, at the very least show kindness to one another. It is ironic to me how we can treat total strangers during this busy time. I watched on the news as a man was trampled at a Target Store in Buffalo. Thank goodness that he was not seriously injured. It was sad to see the number of people that just walked over top of him to just to save some money. 

The next time you see someone is down and out, offer that person a hand and help raise him/her up. A friend of mine posted the following on facebook, "Don't ever hold back when it comes to giving a compliment or brightening someone's day. You just may save a life." It is true. You never know how much of an affect you can have on someone's life.

For me, I am going to go to the mountain this Advent by helping others the best way that I can. It doesn't matter if it is just giving someone a smile, or telling someone that the outfit they are wearing is nice, or by purchasing gifts for people who have fallen on tough times. What matters is that we show each other kindness and compassion.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Top Five Favorite Christmas Albums

Yesterday marked the first day that I allowed myself to listen to Christmas music. This year it was hard to wait. About two weeks out, I was dying to listen; but, I stuck to my rule. I will not start celebrating a holiday before the one before the one before it has gotten its fair share. But, I will admit that I was very happy to load my iPod with holiday music.

Music has always been an integral part of my life. When I hear specific songs, especially Christmas songs, I am taken back to a time and place connected to that song. The holidays are the same way. When I see certain decorations either at my mom's house, or now, my own home, I am taken on a journey to the past. So, I think for me, that is one reason why I love Christmas music so much. The combination of the music and holiday season is a nostaligic tour.

Tonight, the five albums on this list all have special meaning to me. I want to share with you my five favorite Christmas albums.

5. Mannheim Steamroller Christmas -My brother first introduced me to this album in the 90s, and I have loved it ever since. It combines two of my favorite types of music - old school, and by old school I mean Renaissance music, mixed with some 80s synthesizers. On the surface this would seem like an abomination, but take a listen - it really is magical.  In particular, listen to both versions of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" one after the other. It is neat to listen to the differences.

4. The Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas - Like just about every other child in America, I watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" every year. But, it was not until I was married that I listened to the soundtrack. It is wornderful. Of course, "Linus and Lucy" is one my favorite songs on the album; it's the song that everybody knows from the special. However, "My Little Drum," is the tops for me. It's a really cool version of "The Little Drummer Boy." You know what though, every song on the album reminds of the part in the show where it appears. (There is an Expand, MP3 download version of the album that has four alternate takes on it. If you own it, let me know what you think of them. I have not heard them all the way through.)

3. A Froggy Christmas  - My brother bought this for me when I was in college. His girlfriend at the time thought he had wasted his money. She did not think there was any chance that I would like it. I am happy to say she was dead wrong. This is one the funniest albums I have ever heard. It is a collection of ten songs in which all of the "singing" is done frogs, owls, and other wild creatures. It is hysterical; but, I have to admit there is one song on there that actually moves me. It is the "Little Drummer Boy" as performed by 'The Hoot Owl Boys Choirs and the Okefenokee Orchestra. The song is done really well. 

2. Harry Connick Jr.'s When My Heart Finds Christmas - You may notice a recurring theme in two of the three albums mentioned above - I mention my brother. This album is no different. He bought this the Christmas of my Senior Year in high school, and I feel in love with it. Every song is awesome. The two best are "The Little Drummer Boy" (shocker, I know) and "Ave Maria."

And my number one favorite Christmas Album of all time is (drum roll)

1. Ray Conniff's We Wish You a Merry Christmas - To me, this is the quintessential Christmas album. It is the first one I listen every year.  You may be surprised to know that my brother did not introduce me to this album. Nope, it was my parents. I fondly remember putting this cassette (yes, I am old enough to have listened to cassette tapes) into the tape player and decorating the tree, and then flipping the tape over to listen to the other side. As I am typing this, I can see us decorating our tree in my mind's eye, and the song that I hear is the "Jolly Old St. Nicholas/Little Drummer Boy" Medley. I love this album so much that it was the first one that I bought when Shannon and I married. I had to have my own copy to start my memories with my family.

I hope you enjoyed my list of top five Christmas albums. What are some of your favorites?

Thanksgiving - Stuffing Results

In "Thanksgiving Eve," I told you that I was going to be making the Stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner. I was so tired Thursday night and did not post anything Friday. So, I wanted to give you an update today on how my Mom's/Nana's stuffing turned out. 

Everybody really enjoyed it. My mother-in-law had nice things to say about it as did my wife. However, the biggest compliment I received was from my mom. She said, "It tasted just like mine." Success! 

Thank you for the help Nana. Oh, and I should note, that the stuffing is all gone. That is always the first of the leftovers to be eaten up.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What are you Thankful for?

On Thanksgivings past, I never really focused on what I was thankful for. This year started out no different. My son, whom I love very much, cried out at 6:15 am. Typically, when he cries like that, he is up to stay up. This time, however, he decided to go back to sleep. I was optimistically thankful.

The way I figured it, he wasn't going to stay down for very long. I was half right. About two minutes, literally two minutes, after I had hunkered back down into my bed, my dear, sweet Jillian decided to wake up. My thankfulness quickly disappeared. Just as quickly, it was back again.

I was holding Jillian in the kitchen while her waffle was toasting, and I knew I needed to get out of my funk. It is one thing to be grumpy on a normal day off. But, to be in a lousy mood on a Holiday is unacceptable. To get help myself out, I asked Jillian what she was thankful for. Without hesitation, she responded with a smile that would brighten anyone's day, "my famiwee (family)." That got me thinking about how I would answer the same question were someone to ask me.

I am truly thankful for all of my family. God blessed me with an loving wife, the best children, parents that love me, a big brother who has always looked out for me, and in-laws who I do not think of as "in-laws" but as family. Thank you to my former boss for laying me off, otherwise I probably would not be working for the great company for which I am working today. Finally, the friends that I have are the best kind of friends I could ever ask for.

These are just a few of the things on my thankful list. What is it that you are thankful for?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve

Tomorrow is the Big Day - Thanksgiving Day. In tonight's post, I am going to focus on the food part of the day, and tomorrow, I will focus on what Thanksgiving means to me.

This is the second time that my wife and I are hosting Thanksgiving Dinner. The first time was when we lived in Harrisbrug and had my dad and Shannon's mom and dad. That was when we were a family of three and a half - Shannon was pregnant with our second, Jillian. This year, we will have my wife's mom and dad and my mom, brother, and nephew, plus the five of us. You may be thinking we are crazy for bringing two families togehter on a holiday; but, it is not that way for us. Our families get along.

I have to say thank you to my mom for relinquishing dinner at her house. Most of our married life, my wife and I have been going to my mom's for dinner. We asked my mom if we could give turkey day a shot this time around. She graciously agreed. However, just because it is at our house does not mean that we will not have my mom's stuffing. I will be the care taker of that dish. Fortunately, I have made her recipe before just not on Thanksgiving. I should note that I found out tonight that the recipe is actually my grandmother's recipe. I am definitely feeling the pressure now. I cannot let those two wonderful ladies down. Nana, if you have some time tomorrow, can you give me a little guidance from you place from in heaven?

I did take some of the pressure off of myself by cutting up my celery, onions, and bread tonight. With three little ones, we have to get that prep work in when we can. That is why Shannon and Molly already baked the Carmel Apple pie. Shannon is also prepping the mashed potatoes and Sage butter (for the turkey), and she made the "kid's dessert" - a pie sized sugar cookie with Pumpkin pie orange frosting. Get it, it is a Faux-Pumpkin Pie.

We are also going to have Brussel Sprouts picked straight from our garden. I am really excited about those too. I planted two of the plants from seeds in May and they are finally read to harvest. The entire family has been waiting six months to sink our teeth in those beautiful little green orbs.

Everyone in my house is on pins and needles waiting for tomorrow to come. We still have a good bit of work to do; but, I think the prep work we did tonight will help ease some of the stress tomorrow. Besides, my wife and I make a good team. Remind me to tell you about the year we hosted Christmas about ten days after moving into our current home. Yes, I know that was crazy. Like I said, we make a good team.

With that, I am going to enjoy a glass of wine with my wife and talk about our game plan for tomorrow. Good night to you all. May you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Introduction to Advent

I have mentioned in other posts that I teach Faith Formation (CCD) at my church. This week's lesson was on Advent. I wanted to share some of the notes that I talked about in class with my readers. The Advent Wreath is a Christian Tradition started in Germany. Many of my notes below are geared towards to the Roman Catholic Church because that is where I teach Faith Formation.


Advent is one of my favorite times of the year tied with Lent. They both hold special meaning for me. For Advent, I wanted to put together some interesting tidbits of information for my student's parents. I know how busy life can be with working, raising children, and trying to maintain a home. Then, when we start getting into the Holiday season, it is easy to lose sight of why we really celebrate Christmas.

The other reason for these notes is to explain the tradition of the Advent Wreath. We made wreaths in class this week. This is something that I knew I wanted to do when I first decided to be a Faith Formation teacher. This is a tradition that we follow in my home with my children. They really enjoy it. If you do not participate in this tradition already, give it a try. It only takes about 6 or 7 minutes a night. For my students, I included with the wreath “The Little Blue Book.” It is a book that contains six-minute reflections for each day of Advent and Christmastime. The books were provided by the Church. (If your church does not hand out "The Little Blue Book," you can find the daily Mass readings here.)

Here are some high-level notes about Advent:
  • Advent marks the beginning of the Roman Catholic Church year.
  • Advent comes from the Latin Adventus meaning “arrival” or “coming.”
  • Advent is the season in which we celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ at his birth and when he will come again.
  • The Advent Wreath is one of the traditions that we have to celebrate this season.
Advent Wreath

"Wreaths have always been symbolic of victory and glory. The basic symbolism of the Advent Wreath goes beyond this. It lies in the tension between darkness and light. It represents the long time when people lived in spiritual darkness, waiting for the coming of the Messiah, the light of the world. Each year in Advent people wait once again in darkness for the coming of the Lord, his historical coming in the mystery of Bethlehem, his final coming at the end of time, and his special coming in every moment of grace.” (pg. 47 “Catholic Customs & Traditions: a popular guide” by Greg Dues).
    The traditional Advent Wreath consists of an Evergreen wreath and four candles (three purple and one rose/pink). “Three of the candles are purple, reminding us of the penitential nature of the season. A rose or pink candle is lit for the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday. The name is taken from the entrance antiphon or Introit "Rejoice (gaudete) in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice." It is reminding us that the end of Advent is almost here, and we can hardly contain our joy.” (Source)

    Light the candles in the following order:
    • 1 Purple
    • 2 Purple
    • 2 Purple and Rose/Pink
    • All four candles.
    As the weeks progress, the light from the wreath gets brighter and brighter pushing out the darkness and bringing us closer to the light of Jesus and his coming. The wreaths we made in class have four bows (three purple and one pink) and the candle has four bows with the same colors. For those families that did not not have an Advent Wreath already, I wanted to give them an opportunity to try out this wonderful tradition that we as Christians have.

    You can buy an Advent Wreath that is already made of you can make one like we made in class. Go to a Craft store and pick up a small wreath, some pink and purple ribbon, and a battery operated candle and make this wreath . Use hot glue to attach the bows to the wreath and candle.

    Advent Wreath


    The idea is for you and your child to match the ribbon on the candle with the ribbon on the wreath. Light the candle and then read the day's reading in “The Little Blue Book” or from where ever you decide to get your scripture. When you get to Christmas, put the candle in the center of the wreath and then do the readings in the “Little Blue Book,” if you have one, for the rest of the Christmas season which runs through January 9th 2011.

    Author's Thanks: I want to say thank you to my wife for tying all of the bows for my class' wreaths and candles, and for gluing the bows onto the candles. She also made a beautiful Advent Wreath for the Classroom too. I will post a picture after next week's class. Goofy me forgot to take a picture before I took it to the Church.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    "You Can Snore in my Bed"

    "You can snore in my bed." So says my three year old Jillian when I laid her down for her nap today. As I mentioned in "A Call to Snuggle," Jillian has taken to my wife or me laying down with her before she goes to sleep. It isn't for very long - maybe a minute or two.  I do not mind it because I know how quickly time passes, and soon she will be all grown-up.

    So, Jillian,  made her snoring statement after I made a pretend snore noise in her ear, and after she had me hold her really, really tight. I have no idea how she was able to breath comfortably. I was getting ready to leave her room, and she could sense this by my movement because she says, "Stay a wittle wonger." What could I say?

    I agreed to lay with her for one more minute to which she responded, "Snore Daddy." I complied.  Then she got inquisitive:

    Jillian: "Do you like to snore daddy?"
    Me: "No I don't."
    Jillian: "Why do you snore then?"
    Me: "Because that is the way my body works."
    Jillian: "Oh, Snore Daddy."

    Believe me, I know that I am in trouble. Not only is she really smart, buy I have a really hard time saying no to her. She definitely has me wrapped around her little finger - and I DON'T CARE!

    Anyhow, it was time for her to sleep. So, I gave her a kiss on the top of her head and left her room, and I made a B line straight to my wife to tell her the good news:

    Me: "Shannon,  Jillian said I can snore in her bed."
    Shannon: "Good, you can sleep in her bed every night."
    Me: (silence)

    I guess I know to where I am getting bootedon the nights when my snoring gets too loud. Personally, I do not see how my snoring can bother my wife. After all, it does not bother my Jillian, AND, I sleep right through it.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Where'd it Go?

    Apparently it has been time to gross out Mommy the last few days. I have to say that I am surprised by this because there is not a whole lot that affects my wife in that way. Thursday it was the Alternative Syrup that grossed out Shan. Last night it was a fly.

    We have had this fly buzzing around the house for the last week.  That thing has been driving us crazy - especially my wife. She cannot stand any type of flying insect buzzing around the house. This particular fly must know how much it was driving Shannon crazy because it really only pestered her. Last night, my wife got her revenge, but the fly did not go down without a fight.

    Shannon was sweeping the floor when the fly made its presence known. Now, Shannon was using a hand broom and dustpan to clean up from the mess that Coilin had made at dinner. That is when the fly started buzzing around her. That was a mistake. She was a little grumpy already (we will not get into that). Shannon swiped at the fly with great fury, but lost sight of it. That's when the following conversation transpired:

    Molly: "Get IT!"
    Shannon: "Where did it Go?"
    Molly: "It's under you hand!"
    Shannon: "EW!"

    The little fly was still alive, well for a moment. With the deftness of a deadly ninja, Shannon crushed the fly with the hand broom. Bye-Bye, Mr. Fly. Good job honey!

    Author's Note: My wife contends that she was not grossed out by the events described above. She said, "I just got the heebie jeebies." We agree to disagree. 

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    Stuck in the Driveway Part IX

    It is Fiction Friday again. We are going to continue with our story from last week. Tonight we are going to learn a little bit more about Stan and his family.

    Stuck in the Driveway Part IX

    "Where is my son!"

    "We are still trying to located him Mrs. Brogan," said Agent Walker.

    "Mary Ann," Stan said. He pulled Mary Ann aside and began whispering, "these guys are professionals they will find him. You know how Johnny is. He was supposed to be home last night; but, shockingly enough he wasn't. He's probably over at B.J.'s house playing video games. What else would a college kid be doing over break? This isn't Agent Walker and his team's fault."

    "Well, they should have back up plans," she hissed.

    "They do, Mary Ann, they do. They will take care of him. Trust me," Stan said.

    "Please don't say that to me anymore," Mary Ann replied. "You said that when you took on the new investors. Ever since then, things have gone down hill. Now, look at us. We are in Witness Protection. I can never see my parents again. The children have to give up all of their friends. We have to leave the town where we fell in love and started our family. And for what?" Mary Ann trailed off and sat on the floor sobbing. Stan tried to put a comforting hand on her shoulder, but she pulled away. Their daughter Elizabeth walked over and sat next to her and started crying with her.

    Stan turned to Agent Walker, "Please find my son. She is losing everything else because of me. Please don't let her lose her son."

    "We have a team headed to B.J.'s house now," said Agent Walker.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    "I've got you right where I want you scum bag. Don't even move," a voice spoke into Johnny Brogan's ear. 

    "You'll never take me alive," Johnny said.

    "Oh, we'll get you and your little doggie too," the voice said.

    "WHAT!" Johnny said, and turned around in his chair. "B.J., what is wrong with you. We are playing a perfectly good game of Halo 3, and you going to quote the Wizard of Oz. Seriously? You are crazier than your dad."

    "Hey, we have been playing this all night," B.J. replied. "I am delirious and used up all of my good lines by 6 am. That was like 2 and half hours ago."

    "Crud! So, it's like 8:30?"

    "Yeah, Johnny, the clocks right on the DVR box." 

    "Dang it! I promised my old man I would be home by now."

    "Stan will be fine. He knows you are over here. Besides, he's never cared about you coming home here before."

    "Yeah, I know," said Johnny. "He usually doesn't ask me to come home, that's why I was really wanted to do what he asked. I gotta go. 

    "Are you kidding me," B.J. said. "You are leaving now? We've almost got this game mastered."

    "I'm sorry man. I really need to split."

    "Tell Stan, Mary Ann, and Lizzie I said hi," B.J. said. 

    "Yeah, I will," Johnny said. B.J. looked guilty when he mentioned Johnny's sister. Johnny knew why. Elizabeth, or Lizzie to everyone but their dad, had told him that she and B.J. had started dating while Johnny was away at school last semester. Johnny was livid at first, but Lizzie explained that he hadn't tried any "funny business," and was being a perfect gentleman. She had asked Johnny not to say anything; that B.J. had wanted to tell him, but couldn't find the right time. "You look like something is on your mind."

    "Just tired," B.J. said evading the question. 

    "All right, man, I catch you later," and Johnny was out the door. He jumped in his car and headed towards the family business. Johnny figured that by now his dad would be at Brogan's, and he wanted to apologize for not being home. True, Johnny was 19, but he had always had a great deal of respect for his father and felt badly when he "disobeyed" him. 

    He was approaching Brogan's and could see that his dad's car was not in the parking lot. That is when he remembered that all of his friend's cars were parked at his house. After their night out, Johnny, had driven everyone else home because they were all wasted. He told them they could get their cars tomorrow, and Johnny realized that he had something else to apologize to his dad about - getting him stuck in the driveway.

    Johnny pulled into the parking lot at Brogan's and noticed a black sedan. It's driver's side door was open. Two men lay on the ground. One was by the driver's door and the other by the open trunk. He stopped the car and got out to see if he could help them. Johnny had a kind heart.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Sergeant Owens heard the gravel crunching as Johnny pulled his car into the parking lot. ka-chunk a car door closed

    "Hey Mister," Johnny called. "Are you all right." Sergeant Owens lifted his head. "Let me give you a hand." Johnny looks at the bruise on Owens' check. "What happened to you?"

    "My driver and I were mugged," said Sergeant Owens. "Some man came out of the woods and attacked us." Owens pointed to the general location of Eddies hovel.

    "Was he a white guy wearing army fatigues?" Johnny asked. Sergeant Owens nodded. "That was Eddie Bum, well Eddie DescenzioBev were all high school friends, and my dad says he wouldn't hurt anybody. That's why he had trouble in the Marines they say. He couldn't handle all those Kuwaiti kids getting hurt."

    "Is that so?" Sergeant Owens asked. He couldn't believe his luck. Was this really Stan's son. The mission wasn't a total loss after all. "Thank you again for your help. What did you say your name was?" Sergeant Owens stuck out his hand.

    Johnny took his outstretched hand. "Johnny Brogan, this is my dad's place. Wait a second. Is that my aunt's car?" Before, Johnny could get a good look at the yellow Pontiac Sunfire, Sergeant Owens had him in a choke hold. "Hey," Johnny wheezed, "what are you doing?"

    "Getting some insurance," Owens said. He kicked his driver to wake him up. "Wake up Sanchez. We have what we came for." 

    Sanchez got up and wobbled on his feet for a moment. "The woman is gone," Descenzio jumped us. He regained his balance.

    Owens pushed Johnny into the trunk and shut the lid. "We have something even more valuable. We have Brogan's son. Sanchez and Owens got into the black sedan pulled out of Brogan's with the new cargo in tow.

    To be continued...

    Copyright © 2010 Writing for Fun

    Prayers Do Get Answered

    Today is supposed to be Fiction Friday, and we will get there tonight I promise. But, I have to tell you that we welcomed a niece into our family this morning. This is an answer to a three year long prayer.  My brother-in-law and his wife lost a baby during birth three years ago. I cannot even imagine the pain and suffering that they went through in losing their child.

    Now, they have a daughter, and she is healthy and beautiful. Even though, I have children, and I witnessed all three of their births, I cannot imagine the joy and elation that my brother-in-law and his wife are feeling right now. Their experience is totally different than mine. This child is a gift from God - as all children are; but she is especially precious to all of us who are going to have the pleasure of knowing her.

    It is time to celebrate her birth, and what better time of year to have this child than around Thanksgiving. I know that all of my brother-in-law and his wife's friends and family have been praying for them and could not be more thankful for what God has given to this couple, now family, that we love so much.

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Alternative Syrup

    I will warn you now that this post is not for the faint of heart.

    If you have been reading my blog, you know that I have a 19 month old son. He is pretty self sufficient when it comes to feeding himself. We put food on plate, and he can get it into his mouth - well most of it makes there. Sometimes, he even uses a fork and spoon. So, he already has a leg up on me.

    Tonight, we had breakfast for dinner. This included pancakes, sausage (links and patties), and eggs. Coilin had pancakes and cut up sausage links. He actually used his fork for the sausage. The pancakes were a different story.

    I tore apart his pancake into small pieces for two reasons. One, if you give him a whole pancake he will shove the entire thing in his mouth. Two, the hope is that it will take him longer to eat smaller pieces. That didn't really happen. My boy decided to take handfuls of pancake pieces and shove them in his mouth. He was fine; he did not choke. I sometimes wonder if he cannot unhinge his jaw like a snake. He laid waste to most of his pancake bits like that. Well, all except for the one.

    Before we continue, I need to give you some back story. We do not put syrup on his pancakes simply because he does not need the sugar, and he would have it all over him. Coilin would be, as we say in our house, Sticky Wickets. Apparently, he must have felt that one of his pancake pieces was a little dry as he added his own "syrup."

    Now, my poor son has had a runny nose all week. (Yes, I am going to go there.)  He decide to stick a piece of pancake in his nose, pull it back out and eat it. It was both gross and funny at the same time. I thought my wife and oldest daughter were going to die. My youngest daughter and I were cracking up. It was like he did it in slow motion - you could see the snot string running from his nose to the pancake. In the next moment, they were both gone. Down the old hatch!

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Falling Apart - A Complaint

    I have nothing better to write about today other than the fact that my body seems to be falling apart at a rapid pace. I am not old by any stretch of the imagination. Geeze, I am only turning 35 in three and half weeks. Yet, I feel like I am turning 65.

    Both of my knees hurt all of the time. I messed up my back on Sunday, and it has been giving me fits ever since. When I get down on the ground to play with the kids, I sometimes need help getting up. I told my wife to get ready for a double knee replacement  in our golden years, or sooner.  The next house we buy will  definitely have all of the major living area located on the first floor. Steps and I do not really get along. (They are part of the reason my left knee is in pain.)

    But hey, I cannot complain. Other than the knees and back (this week), I am in great health. God has blessed me with and terrific family, and I am gainfully employed. What more can a guy ask for in life? So, I say to myself the ever motivational words that I said to my neighbor during last winter's snow storm when he said his body hurt too much to shovel anymore, "Suck it up Buttercup! We are all sore!"

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    A Surprise

    About two weeks ago, Molly's first grade teacher sent home a note asking for volunteers to come in and help with a paper mache project on the November 15th and 16th. I decided to use a vacation and volunteer for the 16th. I did not tell Molly that I was going to help, and I asked the teacher and student teacher not to say anyting to her. The plan to surprise her was set and worked perfectly.

    Typically, I telecommute on Tuesdays. So, it was no big deal that I was home when she left for school. I arrived at her school at 10 a.m., and the kids were still in an assembly. The secretary told me to wait in the hall outside of Molly's classroom. I did. I could hear all of the children coming down the hall, and I saw the student teacher round the corner first and then right after her came my little girl. She screamed "Daddy!" and ran to give me a big hug. It was great.

    Helping Molly and her classmates with that project was a lot of fun. It was also really messy. Even with an apron, I had paper mache glue all over my sleeves. When we were all done, I got a little surprise of my own. I was told I could go in the classroom and sit with Molly for a little bit while she was working on her Thanksgiving story. That was really special.  It was fun to see Molly in her own element.

    If you ever have the opportunity to volunteer at your child or grandchild's school, do it if you can. I know it is hard to fit that kind of time into your schedule. Man is it worth it though. It was fulfilling for me, and Molly was super excited. The children love it. One of the little boys I helped kept telling me about how his dad had come in the day before to help. It makes a lasting impression on our children.

    Another Proud Moment

    In Goodbye Diet Vacation, I wrote about how my wife was participating in a "Biggest Loser" style competition with Team AMS. Hank Hanasik, Team AMS Coach, weighed and measured various parts of their bodies, inclduing, arms, thighs, chest and waist, on Day 1 and every two weeks after. He awarded one point for each pound the contestants lost and two points for each whole inch the contestants lost. The person with the highest point total at the end of the 8-weeks won.

    My wife WON! I have never been prouder of her. She worked so hard and dedicated a lot of time to exercising and eating right. Shannon did not go on a diet. Instead, she went on a life changing journey. She put the proper fuel into her body, and then used that fuel to get slim and trim.

    From what I hear from other people that participated in the challenge, my wife was inspiration to them. I am not surprised. Shannon is an inspiration to me and my children. She is living proof of what can happen when you set a goal and work hard towards achieving that goal.

    I want to thank Hank Hanasik for training my wife. Most importantly, I have to say to my wife:

    I Love You Shannon, and I am proud of you.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    A Proud Moment

    My daughters and I went to church this morning. Like most Sundays, Jillian (3) asked if she could on Molly's (6) lap. As I do every Sunday, I say ok. I am fine with it so long as they behave. For the most, part they were good today in church.

    We had a couple of instances where Jillian was more laying on Molly than she was sitting.  Other than that, I was happy with their behavior. Besides, Jillian is only three years old. I do not expect her to sit stone still in church. I can't even do that, and I am a little older than her.

    Their good behavior did not go unnoticed either. Right after the consecration of the Host and before we went up to take communion, a woman came up behind us and told me something about which I am still beaming. She said that my girls were very pretty little girls and that they were very well behaved. And, she added, that I should be very proud. Then she sat back down.

    It is hard to say whether she meant that I should be proud of them, or if I should be proud of the job my wife and I are doing in raising our children. To be honest, it does not matter which she meant, because I am proud on both fronts.

    I did not get to see her after mass. So, to whoever said those nice things to me, I say thank you. I hope you have a wonderful week, and maybe I will get to see you in church next week and get to say thank you in person.

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Three Things NOT to Say to your Wife

    My wife reminded today of three things that you should not say to her. To all the guys out there who read this blog, this is free advice for you.
    1. We went to the local mall today. My wife got out the car and put on the Ergobaby (baby carrier) to carry Coilin. She asked for her sweater. It was a warm day and I told her she did not need it. Shannon said, "It (the strap of the Ergobaby) makes me look like Fat, Fat the Water Rat!"
    2. Now, I am by no means a fool; so I answered, "No, you look like Fatty, Fatty, Bumbolatty!" I cannot believe she hit me.
    3. We were coming home from my Mother-in-Law's house. I was driving and Shannon was in the passenger seat. Jillian and Coilin were in the second row, and Molly was in the third. Jillian starts saying, "Don't tell me how to drive. Go Daddy! It's gween GO!" 
    4. I turned to my wife and said, "Boy, she imitates you really well." I got hit again.
    5. My wife and I were standing in the kitchen tonight. As usual, I said something smart to Shannon. She turned her back to me, and she smacked her behind making the kiss my butt sign. I replied with, "I don't have all night." I did not get hit, but I got the look. I wish she had hit me.
    Before you think I am a total jerk, you must know that my wife and I have an awesome relationship. We joke around with each other A LOT. So, she knew that I meant nothing by what I said. We were having some fun. (Yes, I checked to make sure she was having fun too.) I love my wife with all my heart, and she knows I think she is beautiful. Besides, my wife has been working her tail off at the gym. She looks fantastic and has lost a lot of weight and does not need worry about looking fat. She also knows that she is a back seat driver. (So, she could not argue with number 2.)

    Gentlemen, I do have to tell you that these were Three Things NOT to Say to your Wife, unless you have a wife like mine.

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    Stuck In the Driveway VIII

    It is Fiction Friday again. We are going to continue with our story from last week. Tonight we pick back up with Eddie and Bev in the basement of the mill.

    Stuck in the Driveway Part VIII

    "Where are you going?" Bev asked Eddie in a whisper.

    "To see where that gunshot came from."

    "Eddie Descenzio, don't be a fool, and don't leave me down here by myself," Bev pleaded.

    "Bev, think about it. We do not know where Stan is, right? You were almost kidnapped by some very bad dudes," Eddie said.


    "So, Bev, think about it. Who else is going to be up there?" Eddie replied. "They may have Stan."


    Eddie knew Bev was scared. After all of his training, Eddie knew the potential consequences of the actions he was about to take, and he was mildly alarmed. Before this morning, he hadn't used his combat training in years. But, his best friend, his best friend 20 years ago anyway, was probably upstairs, and Eddie was the only one who could save him. "Bev, I am just going to check things out. If it is too dangerous, I will be right back down."

    "Promise?" Oh, how he hated when she looked at him with those doe eyes.

    "I promise. Just a quick look." With that, he leaned over and gave her a kiss on the check. Why, she asked herself, did she think it would be the last time she ever saw the Eddie she thought she knew alive.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    "I'm goin' out to take a leak," Jorge said to The Boss. He walked out of the North entrance to the mill and turned East. zzzziiipp he let down his fly. "Ahh," he said as he relieved himself. snap Jorge turned his head towards the sound. "Let's go see what we have here." He headed down the East side of the Mill.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    Eddie popped his head out of the Mill's basement exit. No one was around. He crawled around the South side of the Mill to get to the East side where he knew there was a window. Looking through a window was risky, but better than walking through the front door. When he got around to the East side, Eddie saw where the wall boards had started to pull away from the wall studs. With any luck, he would be able to stay on the ground, out of sight, and get a good look inside.  

    He move slowly through the underbrush and cursed himself when stepped on a twig. snap. Just as he was about to move the board to look inside he heard the telltale click of a gun being cocked, and felt an unmistakable cold hard circle being pressed to his head. "What do we have here?" Jorge asked. 

    "Crap," Eddie said with a sigh. He couldn't believe that someone had got the jump on him. How could he have hot heard him? His combat skills were rusty indeed.

    "Let's take you to The Boss to see what he says about you," Jorge said. "Stand up." Jorge backed up a bit to let Eddie stand, but not too far. He was still too close for Eddie to take him down. Eddie stood. "Now turn around nice and slow." 

    "Listen pal, I was just looking for a ring that I dropped here last week," Eddie said as he turned around.

    "Nice tr...Eddie? Eddie D?" Jorge asked.

    "George Smith?" 

    "Well, I go by Jorge now. It's my professional name," Jorge responded.

    "What are you doing here George, or Jorge, whatever you name is now?" Eddie asked. 

    "Well me, Oscar, he's Otto now, and Jimmy, we call him The Boss, have gone green."Jorge said.

    "Green?" Eddie asked. "And, can you get the gun outta my face?"

    "Yeah, sorry Eddie. You know, Green, fightin' for the Environment and all," Jorge said. "We figured we done enough environmental damage with all of those oil fires during the Gulf War that we ought to start helping Mother Earth out."

    "Jorge, we didn't start those fires. That was the Iraqis when they were retreating," Eddie said.

    "True, but had we not intervened in Kuwait, they never would have started the fires," Jorge replied.

    "But," Eddie started.

    "Listen we can argue this all day, but I am sure The Boss would like to see you."

    "The Boss?  Oh right, Jimmy," Eddie said. "And Oscar is with you?"

    "Otto, yes," Jorge replied. "He is here too. Let's go." They started to walk towards the North side of the mill and the entrance.

    "Hey, Jorge, what was that gun shot about?" Eddie asked. "And you still haven't really answered what you are doing here."

    "The gun shot was from Otto," Jorge said. "He was holding his gun to this guy's head and sneezed." Eddie looked at him, and the concern must have been evident on his face. "Don't worry the guy was fine. The gun had blanks in it."Eddie's face went from concerned to confusion. "What, hey, we don't want to hurt no one. We just like to scare people straight."

    "What are you talking about?" Eddie asked.

    "You know how I told you we was goin' Green?"

    "Yeah," Eddie replied.

    "Well, there is a lot of people doing a lot of bad things to the Environment," Jorge said as they rounded the corner to the North side of the mill. Eddie thought to himself, after 15 years, his vocabulary is not any better. "Well," Jorge continued, "we just try to scare these guys straight into turning their acts around. You know, to stop hurtin' the environment and stuff." They were almost to the door now. "See, we have an act. Jimmy plays The Boss, and Otto and me, well, we play the muscle." It's not much of an act Eddie thought. That's the way it was in the Marines too. Oscar and George, now Otto and Jorge, always listened to what Jimmy was telling them to do. "Come on in," Jorge said as he opened the door. "Hey Boss! You are never going to believe who I found outside!" 

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    "As I live and breath, Eddie Descenzio." Jimmy, now known as The Boss, said as he stood from his chair and crossed the room. "What are you doing here?"

    "I could ask you the same thing," Eddie said. "But Jorge, already filled me on most of it. Who's the guy in the chair." Even from behind and in these lighting conditions Eddie recognized him as Stan. 

    "Oh him," The Boss replied and gave Jorge a disgusted look. "We are not exactly sure. Otto and Jorge were supposed to grab a guy named Stan Brogan." Eddies heart sank. "But it looks like they grabbed his long lost twin brother instead."

    "Stan doesn't have a twin brother," Eddie said and immediately wished he hadn't. Another slip. Too much time alone he thought. I am not used to being around people anymore.

    "How's that now?" The Boss asked. 

    "Stan was my best friend before I left for the Marines," Eddie started. "Things were different when I back."

    "Isn't that the truth," The Boss replied and redirected his attention to the man sitting in the chair. "You hear that Mr. Dauson. My old pal Eddie here says you aren't who you say you are." Stan didn't move. 

    "Hey Boss," Jorge said, "I don't think he got his hearing back yet. You know, after Otto's gun went off in his ear?"

    "That moron," The Boss replied. "Is he back yet?" Jorge shook his head no.

    "What do you want with Stan, Jimmy?" Eddie asked. "Jorge says you are after guys who are killing the environment. Stan is a totally organic landscaper."

    "So he says," Jimmy replied. "I guess since he isn't your best friend anymore you guys do not talk much." Stan shook his head agreeing. He didn't add that he hadn't spoken to Stan in a long time. Eddie didn't think now was a good time bring up his hermit lifestyle. "He is working with some 'Investors' who are supplying him with heavy duty fertilizers that will shortly be killing everyone in this town."

    "No way Stan would do that. Stan loves this town and loves the environment," Eddie said defending his old friend. "He was Green before it was Chic."

    "Did you know that your buddy really had no choice?" The Boss asked, and continued to tell Eddie about Stan's failing business.

    "Poor Stan," Eddie said under his breath.

    "What?" The Boss asked. Eddie waved him off. "So, you are saying this guy is Stan." Eddie shook his head. "That lying piece of..."

    "Hey Boss," Otto shouted as he came in from the West side of the Mill. "Here's the extra pants you wanted. Is that Eddie DeSensitive?" Eddie lifted his head in acknowledgment. Of three, Eddie could stand Otto the least. He was a loud mouth, and as Jimmy had aptly put, a moron.

    "Pants?" Eddie asked.

    "Your boy wet his pants when Otto's gun went off. I felt bad when he told me he wasn't Stan and had proof. So, I told Otto to grab him some dry pants. An innocent man shouldn't have to sit in his pee. But, now I guess we won't be needing them because he is not so innocent."

    "Can you let me talk him?" Eddie asked. Jimmy looked skeptical. "Come on. For an old friend?"

    "All right, but don't be a hero Eddie," Jimmy said. "We aren't in the Persian Gulf anymore."

    "Yeah, DeSensitive, ain't one of them Kuwaiti childs who needs your help." Only he pronounced it Koowatee. Jeeze, Eddie thought, has Jorge or Otto ever picked up a book? 

    "Nothing funny Jimmy," Eddie said. "I promise. If he is doing what you say he is, I am done with him to." Eddie walked up to Stan, but as he got closer something was off. It wasn't until he walked around to the front of him that he realized what it was. "This isn't Stan, Jimmy."

    "Look DeSensitive quit trying save everybody," Otto said. "He's just another casualty in a battle."

    "Stuff it, Otto," Eddie said. "Jimmy, I'm serious. Lift up his shirt sleeve. I guarantee this guy doesn't have this tattoo." Eddie pulled up his own sleeve to reveal a Dragon curled around a sword. 

    Jimmy looked from Otto to Jorge with disgust. "Why am I still with you idiots? Give him the pants Otto, and untie him Jorge."

    "Who are you?" Eddie asked.

    "Michael Dauson," he said as he stood. Michael reached for Eddie's hand, but by-passed it and laid a haymaker across Otto's chin. Otto recoiled and was getting ready to retaliate when The Boss stopped him. "Hold on Otto. He owed that one, after all you did make him pee his pants."

    "I didn't know Stan had a twin," Eddie said ignoring Jimmy and Otto. 

    "No one did," Michael said. "Stan doesn't even know yet. I just found out last year and have been trying to find him ever since."

    "It seems everybody is looking for Stan these days," Eddie said. He turned to Jimmy. "Are you guys working with Sergeant Owens?"

    "That mercenary?" Jimmy respond. "No way. He has always been bad news. Why?"

    "I just ran into him too at Brogan's Green Thumb," Eddie responded.

    "If Sergeant Owens is after your buddy," Jorge said, "he has bigger problems than us. Owens works for foreign regimes and takes care of their messy work here in the States."

    "Looks like your friend Stan is in way deeper than we thought," Jimmy said. "

    "You got that right," replied Otto.

    If Owens is involved," Jimmy continued, "that means his foreign investors are involved in the Chinese government."

    "I hate to break up your reunion here guys," Michael said as he buttoned the dry pants he had put on, "but can I go now?"

    "NO!" all four said in unison.

    "No," Eddie said softer. "If these guys mistook your for Stan," he said pointing to the threesome. "You can bet Sergeant Owens will too. But if he gets you. There won't be blanks in the guns."

    "Stan?" a female voice said from the North door as she ran towards them.

    "Bev, what are you doing up here?" Eddie said as he intercepted her. 

    "You were gone so long. I thought something had happened to you," Bev said. "Why didn't you come tell me that you had found Stan? And who are these other guys?"

    "I'm not Stan," Michael said. "I am his twin brother."

    "Bull," Bev said. "What kind of crap are you trying to sell me? I have known you my whole life Stanley Brogan."

    "It's true," Eddie said as Jorge, Otto, and The Boss all nodded their heads. Eddie told her everything that had happened including the information about the investors.

    "No wonder he has been so stressed," Bev said.

    "Did you know about any of this?" Eddie asked.

    "Of course not. No," Bev said. "He would never having willingly used a fertilizer that would do so much damage. He couldn't have known. We need to find Stan."

    "Agreed," Eddie said. "Jimmy, Jorge, and Otto. Will you guys helps us find Stan?"

    "Yeah, we aren't done with him yet, DeSensitive" Otto said.

    "Yes, we are," Jimmy retorted. "He's a friend of Eddie's, and it sounds like he needs some real help."

    "Thanks Jimmy," Eddie said.  "Call me DeSensitive again and I'll give you one across the chin too," Eddie said to Otto." Just one question though," Eddie asked Jimmy.


    "What's with The Boss?" Eddie asked.

    "Hey, someone has to be in charge of these two knuckle-heads," Jimmy said, and Otto and Jorge gave him protesting looks. The five of them began to make a plan.

    To be continued...

    Copyright © 2010 Writing for Fun

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    The Holidays are Coming

    I cannot believe we are just two weeks away from Thanksgiving. That also means we are only two weeks and one day away from my official Christmas music listening time. And the time when I accept that the holidays are upon us. It is hard to believe that we are approaching that time of year already.

    I am extremely excited for the holidays this year. I cannot put my finger on why though. Maybe because the kids are getting older, and they get really excited about Christmas. I do not know. I also anticipate it. After all, it is my favorite time of the year. But, I try and hold off on celebrating until after Thanksgiving. Anymore, it is so hard to avoid any signs of the Holidays before then.

    All of the stores start putting Christmas stuff out before Halloween. It is crazy, and it drives me bonkers. Although, I have a confession to make. I did buy Christmas supplies this past weekend. Technically, they were Advent supplies. In two weeks, I will be making Advent Wreaths with my Faith Formation (CCD) kids. Advent starts the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I needed to get my wreaths and bows in advance to give my wife time to tie all of the little bows that I need. (Hey, she volunteered to help.) It did bothered me to see all of the Christmas decorations in the store. At the same time, I started to get excited because I know what is coming right around the corner.

    I am doing my best to contain my excitement. Watch out though, because the days immediately following Thanksgiving,  I will be decking the halls of my humble home. Until then, I am focused on our family hosting our first Thanksgiving dinner. To say I am excited would be an understatement. These next two weeks are going to go by in a flash, and I cannot wait to dig into an awesome dinner.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Everyone Else is Doing it So it is Okay - Wrong

    I was not quite sure what I was going to write about tonight until I started reading the news online. That is where I saw a story about a college professor from the University of Central Florida (UCF) who is dropping the hammer on some two hundred students he suspects of cheating.

    Apparently, some less scrupulous students in the UCF Business School got a hold of the mid-term exam answers.  They then used those answers to get good grades on the test. Unfortunately for them, their professor, Richard Quinn, was able to find out exactly who cheated on the test. Professor Quinn used statistics to figure out exactly who cheated on the exam. Of the 600 students in the course, nearly 200 of the students cheated. Those 200 students, mostly seniors, were given an ultimatum to confess and go through an ethics seminar or risk expulsion. At the time the story aired, some 75% of the students had confessed. I hope those that do not come forward are severely punished. You may think I am being harsh, but at 21 or 22, you know better, and you should pay the price for cheating.

    The cheating is not what disturbed me most about the story though. People cheat all the time, and although that does disturb me, the apathy I saw from one UCF student interviewed enraged me. He basically said that it was okay that those students cheated on the test because everybody cheats in school and in life. Sorry pal, that is not true for me.

    It is sad that this kid is learning about cheating in college, and I learned about integrity. I spent a year and half in R.O.T.C (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) in college. I loved it. I nearly joined the military because of it, but that is a story for another time. Somewhere during that time, I learned a creed and part of the creed read, "Integrity is my touchstone." That statement has never left me.

    I am not saying that I'm better than that kid that ABC interviewed, because I do not think I am better than anyone else. But come on, to say it is okay to cheat because everyone else does is asinine. What is wrong some with people? That kind of group mentality thinking is what destroys societies. I am not going to go all Doomsday on you and tell you how I think the moral fabric of our society is wasting away. But, maybe the next time you see somebody doing something wrong and you have the slightest inclination to do what they are doing because they are doing it, stop and say to yourself - "Integrity is my touchstone." I have a feeling you will change your mind.

    Author's Note: You can view the entire story here.

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Change Can be Good

    Change is inevitable. It is a force that we cannot stop. So, why do we fight it so much? Sometimes, we need a little change in our lives to mix things up and make us better people. 

    On August 1, 2009, I was laid off. The lay off had nothing to do with my job performance; it was solely a result of the economic conditions at the time. I was working for a small firm. Before the first round of layoffs we had eight people. In January, 2009, the owner laid off two people because of declining business. By July of that year,  business had not picked-up, and she had to make a tough decision. I was laid off in round two.

    It was a horrible feeling. I knew in my heart that she valued me as employee and did not want to let me go. I tried to remain positive and tell myself that it was for the best. I would get to spend more time with my two youngest children. I would have more time with my wife. Heck, I could get more done around the house as long as it did not cost anything. Those facts changed nothing until I was willing to completely change my thinking about the situation.

    Deep down, I still saw myself as a failure professionally and as the provider for my family. (That is right folks, we are single family income, as my wife is a Stay-at-Home mom.) I know those negative thoughts kept me from getting interviews because my resume and cover letter suffered. They were not examples of my best work. And the one interview I did get, I tanked.

    I kept telling myself that I was not the loser that I believed myself to be. Eventually, I bought into what I was selling. I changed the way I thought about myself and began to believe in my talents. At that same time, when I was not looking for and applying for jobs, I embraced the time that I had at home. I did get to spend more time with my two youngest, time that I will cherish forever. I was able to walk my oldest daughter to school just about every day. My wife and I did spend more time with one another, and our relationship grew stronger.

    In the middle of October 2009, I found a temporary Technical Writing job. It was an awesome opportunity, and I learned a lot from it. Then in January 2010, I landed my current gig - a full-time position as a Technical Writer with a great company. This job has afforded me a chance to use all of the skills that I have honed over the years.

    All of this happened because I embraced the change that being laid off forced upon me. It took a while, but when I finally did, I grew as a person, strengthened the relationships in my life, and excelled professionally. I look back now at that day in August, and I thank my former employer for laying me off. I miss working with her and the other folks there. I think about them often. But, it turned out to be a blessing for me.

    So, the next time change enters your life, take a step back and really evaluate the situation. That change may just be what the doctor ordered.

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    MNF not so Thrilling these Days

    I have been a Pittsburgh Steeler fan my entire life. I own a lot of Steeler's merchandise. There was a time when I would never, ever miss a game.  It would be especially unheard of for me to miss a Monday Night Football game against an Division Rival. Apparently things change.

    As I am writing this, the Steeler's are facing off against the hated Cincinnati Bengals. This is one of those games that Steeler fans look forward to every year. Not this Steeler fan, at least not this year. I watched the first four games of the season and loved every minute of it. To see Charlie Batch start and win three out of the first four games was awesome. Then Ben Rothelisberger's suspension ended, and so to did my desire to watch Steeler football.

    I have no inclination to watch that person play. It upsets me that he is still wearing a Pittsburgh Steeler uniform. How many chances are they going to give this guy? What kind of message are we sending our children when someone like him is allowed to represent one of the greatest franchises in all of sports?

    I have daughters, and I am not going to support a man who he allegedly treats women the way that he does. Never-mind the fact how he treats people in the city who's citizens help to pay his salary. Maybe I should not let one person ruin something that I love so much; but, he is there every time the offense has the ball, and I just get agitated. I toyed around with the idea of just watching the Defense play. It just is not the same.

    In closing, I would just like to say that even if they win tonight they will be 3-1. That is the exact same record they had under Charlie Batch. That there is one them things that makes you hmmm. I guess winning is the only thing that matters anymore, or at least the prospect of wining. Having good role models in sports is secondary. So tonight, I am in the minority of Pittsburgh residents. I will not turn be turning on the game. Instead, I guess I will catch up on some reading.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    My Opinion on Daylight Saving Time

    Daylight Saving Time (Daylight Savings Time) ended today, and I am very sad. I understand why we turn our clocks back one hour in the fall and turn them ahead one hour in the spring. It is, supposedly, to save energy. Maybe it does and maybe it does not. I cannot say for sure. But, I do know that it messes with my family's schedule big time.

    People get very excited about the alleged extra hour of sleep. I admit. I did get an extra hour of nap time today, and that is where it ends for me. So too ends my sleeping in until 7 am on the weekend. Why you ask? My dear, sweet Jillian will be up by 6 am or earlier now. She is three and does not comprehend the idea of getting extra sleep. Jillian runs on her internal clock.

    We put her to bed between 8 and 8:30 every night, and she falls asleep somewhere between 8 and 9:00.  She gets up at least once or twice after we lay her down. Once to go to the bathroom again despite the fact that I make sure she goes potty before I tuck her in. Most nights she gets up again claiming "I can't sweep."

    In essence, she goes to bed when she is good and ready. It does not matter what we want. The same is true when she wakes up. Jillian is up when her body tells her to wake up.  We try to get her to lay down again, but she is up five minutes later and has usually woken up either Molly or Coilin in the process. When we have her lay in bed with us as an attempt to get some extra sleep, Jillian winds-up playing with my face. (Apparently, my face is more fun that Silly Puddy.)

    I know that I am not alone in the world. While at Joann Fabrics today, the cashier told us she suffers the same fate with her dog. The dog gets up when it wants to; the dog does not understand the concept of time. So for the next four months, I will be getting up a little earlier than I would like. Instead of complaining anymore, I will consider myself lucky to be able to spend some extra time with my daughter.

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Everyone should have Visitors

    There is not doubt in my mind that everyone should have people come to visit their homes from time to time. It seems like that is the only time the house gets a really deep clean.

    Don't get me wrong, we dust, vacuum, and such. But with three kids, we do not have the time or energy to move furniture and sweep and dust around it. We would rather spend our time playing 'Candy Land' and 'Chutes and Ladders' with the kids than pulling out the entertainment center.

    I do have to say that having visitors is awesome too. Today, we had a visit from a high school friend, her husband, and her sister. The friend and her husband live out of state, and we only see them one or two times a year. It was very nice to see them. We look forward to their visits.

    Part of the anticipation of a visit is the cleaning. Boy, did we ever clean deeply today. As a result, I am exhausted. In fact, I dozed off while typing this. With that in mind dear friends, I'm heading upstairs to spend some time with my wife, and then, I am going to bed.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Stuck In the Driveway Part VII

    It is Fiction Friday again. We are going to continue with our story from last week. 

    Stuck in the Driveway Part VII

    Stan began to stir. The light in the room flooded his eyes. "Uh, man." His eyes began to burn and water from the light. "It's so bright," Stan said as he rubbed the back of his head with one hand while he wiped away the tears with the other.

    "We are sorry to hit you so hard Mr. Brogan; but, we had to make it convincing."

    "Convincing?" Stan said turning to the sound of voice. Three men were standing in front of him. Stan addressed the only one he knew. "That was convincing all right. Why did you grab me early. I thought you weren't getting me until after the meeting."

    "There was a black sedan at your business, 'Brogan's Green Thumb' sir," Agent Walker said.

    "Ok, so why not grab me in the woods? Why did you have to crack me over the head?" Stan asked.

    "Your are forgetting the black sedan," said Agent Walker. "We didn't know for sure if they had someone planted in the woods."

    "That was probably just the Investors" Stan said.

    "No, it wasn't," Agent Walker replied. "It was a Sergeant Owens."


    "Seargant Owens, retired Special Forcees. He works as a hired gun now," said Agent Walker. He did nothing to hide his disgust. "The Investors were not coming to meet you. They sent someone to kidnap you."

    "Dear, God. Ok, so what happens now?" asked Stan.

    "We secure the rest of your family. We have your wife and your daughter," said Agent Walker. "However, we are still looking for your son. He is not where you told us he would be."

    "No, he and his friends never came home. That's why I was running to work. His friends' cars had me stuck in the driveway. I had to take his friend B.J.'s car and...," Stan stopped. "Check Bob Snyder's house. His son, B.J. left his car at my house, but that doesn't mean they didn't end up back at his place."

    Agent Walker looked at one of the other agents. "Agent Phipps, check it out." Agent Walker returned his attention to Stan. "Sir, is there any chance that your son went to 'Brogan's'?"

    "I can barely get him to go there during the week to help me out," Stand said. "There is no chance that he was there. In fact, nobody would have been there. That's why I schedule the meeting with the Investors today."

    "Mr. Brogan," asked one of the other agents.  He had also left the room while Agent Walker and Stan had been talking. "Do any of your son's friends have a yellow Pontiac Sunfire?"

    "No," Stan said. He was concerned. "That's my cousin Beverly Thomas' car. Why?"

    "Her car is at 'Brogan's' right now," the agent replied.

    "What's your name agent?" Stan asked. His concern was growing.

    "Agent Jones," he replied.

    "Agent Jones. I need you to tell me that the Bev is okay."

    "Well, Mr. Brogan," Agent Jones began.

    "No," Stan cut him off.

    "Mr. Brogan," Agent Jones said. "Your cousin was taken by a man."

    "Was it this Sergeant Owens?" Stan asked.

    "At first it was."

    "What do you mean, at first it was?" Stan asked.

    "Please Mr. Brogan," Agent Walker interrupted, "let Agent Jones finish."

    "Sorry," Stan said. "Please finish."

    Agent Jones told Stan about his ransacked business and how their men had seen Sergeant Owens carrying Bev out. "That's when someone wearing fatigues came running out of the woods and took out Sergeant Owens, and ran off with your cousin, Ms. Thomas."

    "That's Mrs. Thomas. Bev's married to Tom Thomas, an old friend," Stan said. The agents just looked at him. "What? I didn't name him Thomas Thomas. Blame that one on his folks. Who took her into the woods?"

    "From what we can tell it was someone who was camped out in the woods right across from 'Brogan's'," said Agent Jones.

    "It was Eddie!" Stan said excitedly. "Eddie Johnson. Yeah, Eddie saved her."

    "Who is Eddie Johnson?" asked Agent Walker.

    "You should know him," Stan said. "He's retired Special Forces like your buddy Sergeant Owens. Eddie served in the First Gulf War. He has never been the same since he got back. Eddie's being living the life of a vagabond. You say he ran off into the woods with her."

    "Yes," replied Agent Jones.

    "And it sounds like your guys lost him?" asked Stan. The agents looked at each other. "He took her to the old mill. I guarantee. It's the safest place in around here."

    "I am not sure how safe this old mill is," said Agent Walker. "It's pretty easy to find."

    "Yeah, maybe the upper level is," Stan said. "But I bet you guys didn't know that there was a basement. You really have to search for the entrance. You will miss it at first glance. That's where they are."

    "Are you sure that Eddie would not have hurt Mrs. Thomas?" asked Agent Walker.

    "Not a chance," Stan replied. "Eddie is still in love with her."

    "Mr. Brogan," began Agent Jones, "how sure are you that no one else knows about the basement entrance?"

    "I'd stake my life on it. Why?"

    "Our men heard a gunshot sir," said Agent Jones.

    "Then, someone else is in the mill," Stan said. "No way Eddie shot Bev." Tears began to form in his eyes. "No way." Stan's voice started to crack. "You guys need to go in there and check it out." It was getting hard for Stan to talk. "Have you guys found my son?" The gravity of the situation and of the events he had put in motion we becoming unbearable. Why, he thought to himself, did I have to get involved with those Foreign Investors.

    "We'll find him, Mr. Brogan," Agent Walker said.

    "My wife and daughter are safe?"

    "Yes, Mr. Brogan. Like you, they are now in Witness Protection," said Agent Walker. "We'll have your son soon too."

    To be continued...

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