She sees you when you’re sleeping…

So the kid is growing up. We’re closing in on the potty training, dressing herself, losing the baby gate portion of development. Aside from the potty training the rest of that stuff was pretty easy with Frank. Tell him to stay off the stairs and he stayed off the stairs. Tell him not to open the kitchen cabinets or laundry room door, that’s it, he wouldn’t go near them. That’s not necessarily been the case with this one.

Tell her to stay off the stairs and she climbs the outside of the stairs by holding on to nothing but the balusters. Technically she was not on the stairs if you define stairs as the part you step on. Tell her to stop pulling down the baby gate and she makes a ladder to jump over it. Again, she’s living on a prayer and a technicality. Even with the cabinets, she won’t open them but she’ll wait for you to, then jam her pain impervious arm in there so you can’t close it.

So it was with much dismay that I went into her room one morning to the sound of my 2 year old daughter saying, “I’m climbing!” Yeah she was climbing all right, climbing right out of her crib. She even went one better and got within a leg throw over the top of climbing back in the crib starting from the ground. Well hell. Y’all know what that means.

Dont feed the animals.

Don’t feed the animals.

Big girl bed for Anne Marie. Sleep reduction for mom and dad. Probably forgot to mention she can already open doors. Do you think I have any hope of containing a kid that does this to a box of chicken and BBQ sauce from Chik-fil-a and then sleeps it off like it was no big deal? Yeah me neither.

But we couldn’t let her keep the crib out of the fear she would fall during a night escape and crack her melon. So the front of the crib came off. Four bolts later and we went from 12-14 hours of confined sleep to complete free range chicken. Took me all of 10 minutes to convert the crib to a bed. Surprisingly it took her two nights to realize there was no invisible force field keeping her in and she could come and go as she pleased.

The first night she figured out she could get out of bed and leave the room was the night we realized we needed to start locking the upstairs baby gate again. Around 4 in the am I could hear what sounded like running downstairs. Sure enough, there she was, my 2yr old running laps around the downstairs. I just stood on the landing and watched a few laps. She would fly past the bottom of the stairs and disappear into my office only to reappear in the hallway behind me, going about 100mph with a big grin on her face.

She got around twice before she noticed me. “I’m running daddy!” “Mommy sleeping!”

“Yes yes Anne Marie that’s very nice, now Anne Marie need sleeping.” Yeah tell me you don’t start talking like your kid when you’re trying to reason with them.

The next night I found her in Franks room around 2am. She was playing trains. Frank? He was out cold, face down on his pillow, not a care in the world and no recollection of his little sister desecrating his Thomas trains merely by touching them. That little fact will remain a secret from Mr. Drama at least until he gets so bored he starts reading this.

The next night I found her around 4am trying to open the baby gate at the top of the stairs. She was being very quiet about it. This is a departure from her banshee like screaming when she inadvertently lets the gate shut during the day and she gets stuck upstairs for more then .22 nano seconds. No, she knew she was doing wrong and was attempting to mask her misdeeds.

No cell can hold me!

No cell can hold me!

Anyway the morning after her quiet escape attempt Tracy found Anne Marie’s hat at the foot of our bed. She was wearing it when she went to bed. She never naps or sleeps without her hat. So at some point in the middle of the night or early morning, she came in our room and left without us knowing it. That required opening and closing our bedroom door. Not sure if she left the hat by mistake or was sending us a message like, “Any time I want. You’ll never hear me coming.” That’ll make you sleep with one eye open. Look man, she already knows how to handle a blade. Read this: Running with scissors.

So let this serve not just as a funny story about how one little she devil is slowly killing me, but a public service announcement as well. If Anne Marie appears at the foot of your bed in the early morning hours, two things have happened: I forgot to close the baby gate again and you forgot to lock your front door.

You’ve been warned.




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Free Stuff! Free Stuff!

So we have a lovely new addition to the Frank’s Place Offices in downtown west Knoxville. The good people from NewAir sent us a NewAir water cooler. Well I think the PC term is water dispenser. Not sure who has issues with the word cooler but hey, these days you never know, so water dispenser it is. And as far as water dispensers go it’s a nice looking one.

That's high quality H2O

That’s high quality H2O

For the small price of a review on Amazon and a one minute video of us using the thing, Samantha, the brand manager from NewAir sent us our very own water dispenser. We’re still not quite the big time here at Frank’s Place but we’re movin on up.

The model we received has a hot and cold water tap. My first thought was, how many ways can Anne Marie burn herself or her brother with that thing? Turns out this thing has several safety features. I’m not sure if they were intended as safety features but that’s how they work in our house.

The hot water tap has this trick trigger mechanism. I think it’s called a pinch valve in the water dispensing business. There’s no way she could just lean on it and get hot water. She would have to use her fingers to pinch two smaller levers together and then push down or up to get hot water. On a bad day I’m not sure I could get hot water out of it.

No matter though because the hot and cold water have separate on/off switches in the back. In other words the thing is cooling the water but we have the hot water turned off so even though water will come from the hot tap it won’t be hot. Pretty nifty if I do say.

To top it off there are hot and cold water indicator lights on the front. So if little miss walking disaster area figures out how to get behind the dispenser and flip the hot water switch on, which she will by tomorrow probably, I’ll know it because the red light will be lit on front. It’s almost as if Luma Comfort designed this thing with Anne Marie in mind.

Frank and I shot a 2 minute commercial with my phone. It’s not Gone With The Wind mind you but it fulfills Luma Comfort’s requirement. Take a peak.

Frank zoned out on me there mid shoot. In his defense it was a two minute video and his attention span is pre-set at 1 minute 22 seconds.

Anyway, thanks to Samantha and the good folk at NewAir. Go check their stuff at




Crayons: The new white meat!

This is probably not news to most of you. Kids eat crayons on occasion. I get it. Generally don’t most kids find them distasteful and give them up for Lent?

Easy Bro. It's just colored wax.

Easy Bro. It’s just colored wax.

But my kid, and I think we all know who I’m talking about, my kid shells them like shrimp. She eats them with a regularity that boarders on the bizarre. If I see crayon paper on the ground I know it’s time to inventory the box to see which poor color was condemned that day. I find myself feeling sorry for the little wax sticks. “Oh, magenta bought the farm today. Damn it! My favorite extra-spectral color is no more.”

Are there conspicuous crop circles drawn into the carpet in the majestic and recognizable Crayola color of Burnt Sienna? Need to inventory the box. Does she appear to have a mustache or Van Dyke in the unmistakeable color of Periwinkle? Box inventory time.

So of course the one time I noticed a few bits of paper on the floor from the Green, yeah just Green, and I paid it no mind, it unravels into a giant adventure. When I see chunks of Green on the coffee table a little while later I realize Green was invited to the tea party but not as a guest, as the main hors d’oeuvre.

I’m looking at her trying not to get mad that she ate another Crayon, especially so close to lunch, and then she smiles at me. Sometimes things can’t be unseen. Lodged in Anne Marie’s chicklets (read teeth), was the remains of Green. Wish I could tell you it was a quick and painless demise for the basic but faithful color, but evidence suggested otherwise.

I’m not exactly sure why, but the dénouement of Green was my bridge too far. I could not let this go unchallenged. Maybe it was because I took Green for granted and failed to inventory the box when his papers were found in the living room. Maybe it was  because I was tired of the senseless carnage. Maybe it was because of the strange neon bright colored diapers I found myself changing recently. Who knows.

For whatever reason I drew my line in the sand. “Anne Marie! Why are you eating all the crayons? Why must you peel them and make a mess? Why are you putting them in your mouth!?”

“Crayon up my nose.”

Ah wut?

“Crayon up my nose.”

“Ok now that I’m looking, your left nostril does look like the first half of a Rhinoplasty gone wrong. Are you saying the Green crayon is up your nose?”


Alrighty then. My first thought was needle nose pliers. I backed off that for a minute. Flashlight first. Oh yeah, there he is, half way to nasal town. Maybe a Q-tip. If I can get along side of it and sort of wedge it down I might be able to get it close enough to the opening in her beak to grab it with tweezers.

Ok so after a few tries and some blunt force trauma to the inside of her nose, one screaming kid, one laughing kid, and 3 perfectly good Q-tips wasted, it’s off to the doc. They were more than happy to take me, giggling as they did so.

Sounds cool. It ain't.

Sounds cool. It ain’t.

All of a sudden it’s not so funny to her anymore. Anne Marie can’t be liking no doctors. She pitched a few fits, nothing earth shattering. Then a nurse not assigned to us came to say hello. She went to pick up Anne Marie and AM’s protest move caused her to snort the little green bastard right out onto the examining table. Doctor visit concluded. Let’s go home.

Not really, they checked her ears and mouth for any other foreign bodies. None detected but that reminded me to inventory the crayon box when we got home. We left them to deal with the remains. Aside from already documented casualties, all other crayons accounted for.

All in all a mild afternoon as far as Anne Marie adventures go.

She starts pre-school in August.

I feel sorry for the paste.


From the mouth of babes: talking to my kids.

“Daddy you’re a filthy whore! Hahahaha!”

Well that escalated quickly.

While putting my kids in the bath, Frank asked me why they had to even take a bath. I responded with, “Cause you’re a couple of filthy beasts, that’s why!” It took him about 1 second to respond with that little gem above.

You have no idea how much I would love to blame that on one of his friends. I know his three running buddies from the hood don’t say things like that, so they’re out. I’m pretty sure I could pin it on a kid at school. He does the after school deal where he stays for an extra hour on the playground. The whole school is mixed together like yard time at a prison. Has to be a miscreant in that group. Two problems with that unfortunately. For one, he’s been out of school since early May. That’s a little removed to be believable.

The other problem and the ultimate truth, that’s a phrase I have been known to utter on occasion. The occasion is golf and the I’m usually yelling it at my golf ball as it does all manner of things, none of which are what I want it to do. But I have never said that at home and I am pretty good a policing myself when Frank plays golf with me. Apparently not in this case.

I just speak the truth daddy.

I just speak the truth daddy.

Not to be outdone, our two year old has begun to exercise her vocabulary as well.

Whilst changing her diaper, Frank ran in excitedly jumping and yelling something about loving cereal for breakfast. Then he ran out. A hit and run of morning crazy if you will. It was just Life cereal but alright. I looked at my daughter and asked, “What do you think of than Anne Marie?” I absolutely was not expecting a response.

She looks at the door where the crazy little kid just ran out and said, “Frank a chooch.” She put her head back down and looked at me as if to say, “You may commence with my diaper change.” Which of I course I did but not before asking her to repeat what she said. I got a much longer reply. “Frank is, he is crazy. He is a chooch.” Well ok then.

No one to blame this on. Especially in the South. Cooch is indigenous to the northeast, period. It’s made up, as all words are of course, but it has no origin, no Latin, no old world other meaning to track back to. The best guess we have so far is my friend Chris who claims one of his friends from Rhode Island made the word up. Absent of any other evidence, that’s the origin of Chooch. Now the word does appear in the urban dictionary, added in 2006. Entry below.

It's on the internet so it must be true, right?

It’s on the internet so it must be true, right?

The problem with this entry is their translation of the word ciuccio. It does not mean jackass. Ciuccio is the Italian word for pacifier, as in peacemaker not the thing a baby uses. The only way I am aware of to say jackass in Italian is the word Asino. That is a word rarely used here because it has no flow. It doesn’t really translate into a viable english slang.

So Chris, your etymology of the word Chooch holds up for now.

chooch: noun. Origin: Early Rhode Island(Chris’ friend): slang meaning to be a dope; full or in part. i.e half a dope. “I think I’m gonna haf ta slap that chooch.”

Now the only question is, will my kids make more principal’s office appearances than I did because of their mouths. They’re already ahead of the game becasue there’s two of them. I was working solo during my stay at St. Vincent De Paul penitentiary Elementary. Still even working together they have their work cut out for them if they’re gonna take down my single season appearance record.

I wish them luck.



“I want to be called Francis”

So we’ve entered a phase. It might be our first one come to think of it. I’m not sure what to name it, or if it even has a name. I do know I need to be recording Frank every second of the day right now. Some of the stuff coming out of his mouth is just unbelievable.

He’s been making a lot of declarations about what he will and will no longer be doing. Hard to explain so here’s the first example.

When we go to The Kroger, the bakery usually has a bin of free cookies out. Our routine is simple, we go for the cookies when we start our final run on the back wall in the dairy section. That takes us past the eggs, butter, cheese and sends us right into the meats and then the bakery. The on to the hippie section (read: organic) for the milk and veggies and then to the check out. By then he’s done the cookie and he gets to work putting the cart stuff on the belt.

So the other day we roll up on paper towel aisle, our last dry goods stop before we bank hard right to dairy, and I realize he has not mentioned the cookies once. Normally he’ll make my ears bleed about how close we’re getting to the cookies. A little running commentary about our cookie proximity that would make a normal man throw himself into on coming traffic. But I’ve become more powerful since Anne Marie has made the scene, so I can repel his annoying. But the silence, the silence about the cookie is now front and center in my head. If Obi Wan Kenobi were here he’d call me a weak minded fool. What’s his angle? Is he gonna work me for ice cream instead? This boy plottin on me somehow someway.

We get to the bakery and the moment of truth has arrived. I reach for his allotment and out it comes. “I will not be having Kroger cookies anymore.” Uh wut? ” I don’t need them daddy.” No one needs cookies Frank. Cookies are never about need. Cookies, much like the pumpkin spice doughnuts that come out at Thanksgiving, are all about want. “Well I don’t want it daddy.” Well OK then Frank, but I’m having one.

The problem was I had already picked up two. Then I remembered the hobos grab three or four and sometime drop one back in. So I dropped one back in the bin. Problem solved. Tip for you Kroger shoppers, never take the weekend cookies. Only the weekday cookies are generally untouched. You’re welcome.

About a day later the big enchilada dropped.

I was summoned to the bedroom where my oldest child was sitting in a very serious manner with a very serious look on his face. His mother had a rye smile. I was entering a mine field of which there would be no safe passage. Well no point in tap dancing. Let’s get to it. “What’s up Frank?”

“I don’t want to be called Frank anymore.”

Oh shit. My first thought was he’s on some kind of cosmic self awareness journey. He’s been acting strange. He’s on some minimalist bent. No cookies at The Kroger, wouldn’t pick any toys from the toy store after a bit of a harrowing doc appointment because he said “I don’t need it.” and now a name change. My hope was we wouldn’t have to call him moon unit or just some sort of crazy symbol. Then I thought maybe he wants to go by Oso or Lambie or Rocket or Deputy Peck or some other character from Disney Jr.

“I want to be called Francis.”


Turned five - went bonkers. Note the minimalist cake.

Turned five – went bonkers. Note the minimalist cake.

Well that is his legal name. The first born male in an Italian family is named for his grandfather. My grandfather’s name was James so my oldest brother’s name is James. My dad’s name is Francis and goes by Frank, so my son’s name is Francis and we call him Frank. This wold not be a big shift to call him Francis. Or so I thought.

I tried it out a few times. It felt weird. Now I’m thinking he’ll get over it before bedtime so just go with it. “OK Frank, it’s your name and you…” “It’s Francis.” “What?” “It’s Francis daddy, you called me Frank.” “Sorry bud OK, Francis. Like I said, it’s your name and you have the right to be called by your name. Francis it is!”

He seemed happy.

Mrs Frank’s Place on the other hand…

There is a reason we call him Frank. Tracy doesn’t like the name Francis very much. It happens to be my name and I go by that. I’m not Frank or Franny or Michael, my middle name, I have always gone by Francis. So while Tracy was assaulting my entire heritage, Frank or Francis, was happy with his name change. No idea what’s spawning all this but we were both hoping he’d get over it after a few minutes.

Took two days. He corrected us every time we called him Frank for the next two days. Then it went the way of the Dodo.

He’s back to Frank. For now.

If you see him in the next few months and he’s wearing Jedi robes and goes by the name Knarf O’dranil, remember you’ve been warned.






Give a little – it means a lot.

If you been following Frank’s Place for any length of time you know I’m not much of an activist. Not much meaning I’m absolutely not an activist of any type. Way too lazy, way too unconcerned for all that nonsense. So when a dude pinged me on Twitter to join this dads blogger group on FaceBook I was skeptical to say the least. I just don’t do issues. But Oren seemed genuine enough.

For whatever reason I checked it out. Oren, the guy who invited me, was running this FB page with the tag “A blogging dads group, so crazy it just might work.” I had no idea what that meant but ah what the hell, click. I’m in. It was easy. Took me a while to go from a lurker to actually joining in on any of the conversations, but when I did it was worth it. Joining the group has been worth it. Yeah, they get bat-shit crazy over stuff that seems trivial sometimes but when real crazy hits the fan that impacts someone in the group, those guys rally round. And man do they know how to rally round someone in need, be it financial, emotional, whatever. These dudes can move the needle when they want to.

The group had maybe 300 dads when I joined and is right at 800 now. Guys in the same city meet up for dads night out, go to conferences, etc… You know all the stuff I’m way too lazy for. I’m not even sure I qualify as a by-stander cause, you know, that requires standing. I’m retired, sue me. Anyway, Oren Miller has been herding these 800 or so cats, me included, since he started the page. He’s a good leader. He’s really is the common denominator that holds the whole thing together.

The man, the myth, the cat herder, Oren MIller.

The man, the myth, the cat herder, Oren MIller.

A month ago maybe, Oren went to the doc for some back pain and found out he was in stage 4 lung cancer. It has his liver, kidney and brain. Probably eight months to a year left with his wife and two young children, ages 6 & 4. I have never met the man face to face and I still get choked just thinking about it. I’m sure Oren is battling some serious demons right now, but in between all that he penned this blog post about the whole thing. Read this and be edified by a guy who stares his mortality in the eye with a grace not seen in most: Oren Miller – Cancer


While I was getting worked up the boys in the group got to work. They started a page on the Give Forward web site to raise money for Oren and his family. You can see it here: Give Back To Oren. A modest goal of $5000 American was in the rear view mirror a few hours after the site went active. With 800 members that number was never gonna be high enough. The goal was reset, and reset, and reset. It now stands at 30,000 beans. With $26,025 in the hopper as of this writing the goal is in sight.

What has struck me about this fundraiser is its bluntness. I dig bluntness. Look, there’s no time to dance around. Being modest about getting help seems pretty ridiculous when you realize you have no need for next year’s calendar. So some guys in the group took the bull by the horns and have really got things rolling in an effort to get Oren and his family some help, relief, assistance. Oren, to his credit, has accepted this outpouring with the grace he has displayed since I first “met” the guy.

Well, I may not even pass for a good by-stander, but I can’t sit this one out.

If you’ve been following this blog at all you know where this is going. Time for the big ask, the squeeze, the shake down. Go to the Give Back To Oren site and drop some coin in the tip jar. I won’t snow you. It probably won’t make you feel any better about yourself. Hell it might even make you feel angry cause another jerk-weed is asking for your money.

No matter, angry money spends just as well.


Podcast Season 2 Episode 50: Down goes Cantor! Down goes Cantor!


I don’t usually mix the streams of my political blog with Frank’s Place, but tonight is different. My former Air Force broadcast partner, Tony Hupp, and I have just finished our 50th podcast. It’s reposted here for your listening pleasure. It’s mostly political satire so click at your own risk. Hope you like it.

Originally posted on Unfiltered and Unfettered:

Whoa nelly, take me home! I know enough to know I have seen too much!

Republican Majority Leader in the House of Representatives Eric Cantor loses his primary election against Republican Tea Party challenger David Brat. Yeah you read that right. The most powerful Republican in the House will no longer be in the House, no longer be the Majority Leader after getting pounded by an economics professor from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland Virginia.

The effects of this are yet to be seen. Is this the start of a run on establishment Republicans by the Tea Party? Has the Tea Party come back from the dead? Were they ever dead to begin with? Is this just another battle in the civil war raging inside the Republican Party? Is this good or bad for Republicans, Congress, the country? We’ll talk, you listen, then make up your own mind.

Click the link now, thank…

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