Kindergarten: Don’t underestimate their power.

I am now certain I’m learning much more at kindergarten than Frank is. Obviously it was going to be a new experience for both of us, I just didn’t think my learning curve would be as steep if not steeper than his. Feel free to peruse some of the back issues to see my transition to kindergarten. There’s some stuff in there about Frank to, I think, but mostly stuff about the lessons I’ve learned so far. Today’s kindergarten life lesson comes courtesy of the Turkey Trot and that lesson is endurance.

We were not directly aware of the upcoming Thanksgiving program at Frank’s school, but there were indications. You had to be tuned in to catch them. The first red flag was Frank wanting to take a shower. He is a bath kid, but one day he wanted to take a shower. I’m all in on that because my involvement for showers drops to almost nothing. Baths, sure I’m on site the entire time. But showers, ha, I’ll adjust the water but after that don’t call me until you’re ready for bed.

Whilst folding the laundry in the bedroom I could hear singing coming from somewhere. Turns out Frank was singing in the shower. Hard to make out the song, something about a turkey. The next day we heard him singing in the bathroom. Loudly. Same deal, a turkey something or other. Then I heard it, “Let’s do the Turkey Trot, come do the Turkey Trot…” Catchy tune. Tracy finally got him to sing the whole thing. Apparently he needs to be in close proximity to porcelain and water in order to sing above a whisper. Still, he got through the whole song and we got the run down on the Turkey Trot Thanksgiving program. Undoubtedly there were notices sent home but only the Lord knows where those bits of paper ended up.

I was instantly gripped with pride and fear. His preschool was such a small, seemingly protected community. Maybe as many parents as there were kids showed up for the Christmas program. Now he was in a big public school with 120 kids in kindergarten alone. He would be up on stage singing in front of all these people. I taught public speaking for ten years in the Air Force and still I was having palpitations. Or maybe it was the ten years of teaching public speaking that brought on the anxiety. Either way it was going to be a first for Frank and me.

The day of said Trot, the parking lot was jammed. The grass area that served as an impromptu parking area was covered up. I found the last spot. Frank’s Grammy came a few minutes after, ending up two blocks away. No matter, we both were in standing room only at the back of the gym. Huh, back of the room, just like church. Anyway, we actually were in a great spot to see the kids march in as the procession came in the back of the gym. Frank’s class came in last. Plenty of time to get my camera ready. Annnnd I missed him.

At first I thought he must have gotten in trouble and was banned from all Trot activities. Nope. He walked right past me and I didn’t recognize him. Now in my defense he was wearing an indian head dress that was supposed to be turkey feathers, I think, and a huge turkey wing like jacket made from brown paper bags and cardboard. Plus he was dancing and singing. How the heck was I supposed to recognize him?

Since he walked in last his class was front and center on the stage. Pride was overtaking the nerves. What a weird/warm feeling to see him up there, big smile, doing the moves and singing the songs. Unlike pre-school the kids were not fidgeting in the first five minutes. My first thought was, yeah he’s getting older. Still not sure how I feel about that.

What I was sure about, these kids were well prepared. Grammy stepped to me and said what I was thinking. They were on their 8th or 9th song with no end in sight. Still most of the kids, Frank included, were doing the moves and singing the songs. Then we got a kid assisted interpretive reading of the first thanksgiving. One of the things I absolutely love about living in the South, the reading, done by a father who volunteers a lot and is a local artist, was about as un-politically correct as it could be. Sad thing is, it was a breath of fresh air. This is just our history as a 5 year old would know it and tell it. As it should be.

Then the songs started again. Don’t get me wrong, they were great, the kids were great. I was just marveling about how many songs there were and how well the kids did with the words and movements. I think Grammy and I counted about 16 songs in total. Gang, that’s a lot for anyone but for a kindergarten class I thought it was amazing. They were all so well behaved. Once the program finished they marched out the way they marched in. Singing the Turkey Trot song.

That took some serious stamina. For them, not me. Oh hey, I was good for 20 more songs at least, you kidding. That Turkey Trot song was may favorite. I still get it stuck in my head some 4 weeks after the program. And you are in for a treat. Making his singing debut at Frank’s Place, I give you Frank singing the Thanksgiving Program theme song and international blockbuster, The Turkey Trot!

No reason it shouldn’t be stuck in your head too. Your welcome.

 

Just like another crooner named Frank!

Just like another crooner named Frank!

Only cost me one fudge graham cracker, at 9am. He gave me the repeat for free. He also started doing the movements during the second stanza. But he did it all on the first shot.

First Take Frank, that’s what they call him.

He’s also available for Bar Mitzvahs after the 25th.

 

 

11 years with a Steel Magnolia.

December 6th 2003, Knoxville TN.

December 6th 2003, Knoxville TN.

So the “They” that decide these things say 11 years of marriage is the steel anniversary. Ok. I’ll play. A gift made from steel, gotta be a ton of options for that. Putting aside the fact of course that my wife is the hardest person to buy gifts for, getting the right steel gift should be a snap.

Or should it?

When racking my brain to come up with such a gift a title for this post came to me – Steel Magnolia. Perfect actually. It describes Tracy to a T. See what I did there?

A Steel Magnolia is an apt description. The Magnolia is a strong flower, beautiful in sight but also in design. The flower evolved primarily to foster the bee population. To that end the core of the flower is unlike any other. Not the normal petal and sepal set up on most flowers, the Magnolia’s bud is protected by a bract. So says wikipedia.

Beautiful, tough, created for a purpose, and not the normal set up…  yeah that’s describing my wife to a T. So the Steel Magnolia thing just flowed easily from that. But I still needed a steel gift. Ponder that as you peep pics of Tracy through our 11 year journey.

 

Christmas in Jersey 2004. Only 1/3 of the family in this shot.

Christmas in Jersey 2004. Only 1/3 of the family in this shot.

Back to Maui, our honeymoon spot, for anny #3

Back to Maui, our honeymoon spot, in 2005 for anny #3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh look at that Maui again in 2006. It was a good hotel.

Oh look at that Maui again in 2006. It was a good hotel.

As I glance into the kitchen while I type this I see my wife of 11 years dangling a piece of cinnamon bread over Frank’s head in an effort to get him to dance with her to her hip hop music. 11 years takes a toll people. Drastic times calls for drastic measures.

 

 

 

 

Leaving the Comcast Center - University of Maryland for my graduation. Hottest graduates wife there.

Leaving the Comcast Center – University of Maryland 2007, for my graduation. Hottest graduate’s wife there.

White girl dancin with The Warden. Christmas in Jersey 2008. Frank is on board - 5 months away.

White girl dancin with The Warden. Christmas in Jersey 2008. Frank is on board – 5 months away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank's Baptism  - 2009

Frank’s Baptism – 2009

The cool kids Easter - 2010

The cool kids  – Easter 2010

Look at that awesome mop! Easter 2011

Look at that awesome mop! Easter 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First contact. UT Med Center NICU 2012

First contact. UT Med Center NICU 2012

Easter 2013

Easter 2013

Birthday June 2014

Birthday June 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s it. 11 years in 11 pictures. But what gift to get that aligns with the steel anniversary?

Let me rephrase. What to get the girl who is impossible to shop for that aligns with the steel anniversary? Of course the New York trip was really the gift. And it was a good one. Plenty of steel in that city. But as you may or may not know, Jimmy Fallon called the whole thing off, leaving me holding the gift bag as it were. All because he had a kid on Wednesday. Wimp.

Undaunted, I pressed on. I had to get on the edge of gift buying. Something so out there scrutinizing it would be a waste of time. Something impervious to the scrutiny of an impossible gift getter. And it had to be steel.

By the way, my new life goal is to find the people who decide these ridiculous things and knock their chicklets down their throats.

Anyway it finally hit me. Free from scrutiny, the appropriate metal, and a damn fine idea if I do say so myself. And I do say so.

An integral part in the grieving of our lost soul Linda Claire was making sure she remained part of our family story. A very grainy picture of her at the moment of birth is really all we have, remembrance wise.

So I thought what better way to make her a permanent part of our family story than submitting her name to the national star registry – naming a star after her. A tad on the corny side, but still cool enough. So somewhere in the heavens is a binary star, two stars from the same celestial body, in other words twin stars, composed of all sorts of metal including STEEL!  The stars now have the names Linda Claire and Anne Marie and the inscription, Sisters…cum in aeterno in aeternum.  (together forever in eternity).

Yeah corny. I know. Happy Anniversary dear!

We’ll always have New York.

 

 

 

 

Chased from NY: How Jimmy Fallon saved our lives. (not really)

Mr. Linardo, this is the Tonight Show. As I’m sure you’ve heard Jimmy Fallon and his wife welcomed a beautiful new baby into their lives Wednesday. Unfortunately The Tonight Show will not be taping on Friday. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Please feel free to call if you have any questions. 

Thus started the unraveling of our anniversary weekend.

Well I’ll tell you one thing, they know how to do customer relations at the Tonight Show. Be advised, we weren’t guests on the show, just two faces in the crowd. We managed to get two tickets to the Friday show and that call came Thursday. I was sad but stunned at their level of effort and commitment to their fans. Seeing Fallon was arguably the main reason we were heading to NY and yet they almost made us feel good about not getting to see the show.

Almost.

The problem was we were flying in Thursday, the same day they called to say the show was cancelled. So the main thing we wanted to do was now out. Ok. We get it Jimmy. We have kids. Anyone who does knows there is not much sleeping in the first few weeks or months even. Having to perform for a national audience might be a bit much. So yeah we get it. But we ain’t happy about it.

Still, Christmas time in NY is pretty cool. We could see the huge tree at 30 Rock, go ice skating, shopping, see the city…

Then the rains came.

A forecast of tame weather turned to rain Friday and all day Saturday. Well balls. There goes walking around the city. The dark cloud of gloom was taking up residence over my wife. A point she emphasized with an interpretive “dark cloud” dance complete with narration. Anyone in the street that day would have seen it as she threw down in my office, right in front of the giant window that affords my oversight of The Sac.

The feel was maybe we should punt and try some other time. No point in going to NY and not liking it. We could enjoy the dark cloud right here in Knoxville, for free I might add. A mere 2hrs from our flight time, we punted.

The airline put our tickets on hold, the hotel cut us some slack, just canceling our reservation without charge. So no harm, no foul. Still, there was this feeling. Should we have just gone anyway?

Then the protesters came, and came, and came.

By 9pm, the time we would be walking out of La Guardia Airport to ride to mid-town Manhattan, protesters had blocked the BQE, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, the Lincoln Tunnel and a group was moving toward Rockefeller Plaza. We probably would have made it to the hotel, about 2 blocks from Rock Plaza, but not much else, unless we wanted to be part of the protest. Which we did not.

By midnight police had put up a blockade on the Brooklyn Bridge and started arresting people downtown and those laying on the road blocking the Lincoln Tunnel. Any chance this all clears up by Saturday – not hardly.

Thanks to Jimmy and his new baby we escaped all that nonsense. So 11th anniversary in Knoxville. All in all I gotta believe this is better than sitting in the hotel watching peaceful protests clog the streets and block traffic.

Isn’t it?

Thanks Jimmy

 

Kindergarten: One book to rule them all.

Look, it’s no secret, I’m slow. Things dawn on other people faster than they dawn on me. Not sure why it is, it just is. So when we got through the decision making process, the evaluation, and the car lobby pick up line, I thought we were finally off and running. It really never occurred to me we would have to dance for our supper. Peep that picture. Can you read the Established date? Yeah, they started this in 1969, a scant two years after I was born. Yet somehow I was unaware of my pending relationship with The Book. And by that I mean selling coupon books.

The Good Book.

The Good Book.

Fear not my good friends! This is not a sales pitch. The season of The Book has come and gone. I specifically waited to write this one until after the storm had passed. Lest y’all think I was shilling for sales to get to that coveted 30 book sales plateau. With all it’s free ice cream in the cafeteria, buy one get one apple pie type product at your local fast food joint, and of course the name recognition, it was tempting to reach for the stars. But NO! We here at Frank’s Place have a modicum of dignity, and dram of self respect, waning as it may be. Read on, unencumbered by the burden of the dreaded sales pitch.

Much like Major League Baseball, a lot of the rules surrounding The Book are implied or unwritten. Were we required to sell any books? Were we required to buy a few to make it look good? Are their penalties, ramifications, judgements? The kid is shy. What if he comes up empty? Would the boy be shunned, ostracized, marginalized? Lots to stress over. I picked a bad year to stop abusing Pepto Bismol.

As usual when crisis’ of this nature arise I lateral to Mrs Frank’s Place. Besides, she’s in sales, this is her arena. My arena appears to be bringing mayhem and disarray to the car lobby pick up lane. A task I’m suited for, possibly even born for. Anyway I tagged out and Tracy went in.

She had a plan. Tracy decided she would take Frank door to door and he would “sell” The Book to our neighbors. People who, I wagered, would no longer speak to us. She felt it would be a good exercise to draw him out a little, give him some confidence, and help him learn to deal with people. It was better than mine, which was to write a check for 5 coupon books and call it a day, straight lines and shortest points and all that.

I mean door to door? Lets put aside the fact the kid barely speaks in public. Door to door? It’s just so 1950. Then there were the loyalties to The Sac to think about.

Ironically, my lofty position as the only stay at home dad in our Sac requires me to send out Sac Alerts; text messages to everyone on the street when sales people, faith peddlers, and any other unsavory characters come a knockin. So I was in a spot here. Do I send out a Sac Alert on my own kid? Do I out him to the neighbors or let them get ambushed, thus being derelict in my duty as rif raf runner off guy? It was a moral quandary to be sure.

In the end blood is thicker … yeah you know the deal.

So off they went, my 5yr old and my wife, out into the cold, cruel world of door to door sales. And as I’m sure most of you have already predicted, he did great. He made a sale at the first house. Our prince of a neighbor, JB, bought two Books from Frank. It was like blood in the water to a hungry shark. Now he was looking for doors to knock on. No one was spared. He cleaned up the Sac in short order. But he didn’t stop there. Like a deranged telemarketer, he began the process of hitting up our neighbor’s relatives by phone. Then he hit up the moms of his friends from pre-school, again by phone. Then with his moms help, he started working the members of the board of education in Knox County, snagging the chairwoman for a sale. Then he flashed his smile at the local flower shop. They were putty in his hands. Knoxville gang, if you’re not shopping Echelon Florist, well you’re probably a communist. No matter, Frank was a juggernaut.

For the record, we, the parents, only bought one. Just one. The other 24 he did on his own, door by door, person by person.

First taste of victory.

First taste of victory.

The pay off: well Mrs Frank’s Place was right. He did open up a lot and he does interact with the adults in the Sac much better. Plus, he was the lead sales-kid for his class, got to help tape the Principal to the wall, and got in the local newspaper. Yeah they butchered the last name, but hey not the first or last time that’s gonna happen.

As far as school fund raisers go this one is pretty painless and The Book turned out to be a teaching moment. Who knew?

Apparently most everyone but me.

 

 

 

World Prematurity Day

Same Kid - Different Day

Same Kid – Different Day

Believe it or not the kids in that picture are one and the same.

The picture on the right is Anne Marie, September 2014, on her first day of pre-school, or spree-school as she calls it. She’s 2 1/2 years old and about 27 pounds in that shot.

On the far left is Anne Marie too. It was her first week of life, March 2012. Anne Marie was a micro-preemie, born 3 1/2 months early in week 25, she weighed 1 pound 12 ounces and was 12 inches long. If not for the doctors, nurses, and staff at the University of Tennessee, especially in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, she would not be alive.

Linda Clare  22 March 2012

Linda Clare 22 March 2012

Anne Marie was not alone. She has a twin sister, Linda Claire, same weight, same length. Linda Claire passed away 5 hours after birth. Thanks to the UT staff, Linda Claire also survived the birth. It was what didn’t happen in week 21, no lung development due to lack of sac fluid, that left Anne Marie to go it alone in her 5 month stay at UT Med Center.

17 November is World Prematurity Day. You know I’m not entirely sure what these “Awareness Days” accomplish, other than allowing parents like me to brag on and remember our kids. I mean, yeah I’m going to shake you down for money at the end of this, but hey I can do that any time. World Prematurity Remembrance Day might be better.

We look at Anne Marie run into her spree-school classroom and we remember the days and nights in the UT NICU wondering if she would survive. We remember the constant buzzing, beeping, and blipping of the myriad of equipment hooked to her and all the babies in the Big House, the large ward were the preemies fought their battles literally side by side. We remember the docs and nurses working tirelessly morning, noon, and night; dealing with heart monitors, feeding tubes, needles, and of course deer in the headlight parents. I even remember little George, a boy making his fight just the other side of Anne Marie. George was thriving one day and gone the next. No answers, no reason, no explantation, just gone. So we remember.

Of course every March 22nd and July 29th and Christmas we go to Linda Claire’s resting place and remember the events that altered our family forever. I remember Tracy digging deep at the moment of truth, realizing she would have to keep her head amidst the chaos of the triage room if these kids were to have any chance at all. I remember the doc who was working on Linda Claire, he just couldn’t bring himself to give up. I remember another doc, a kid really, a kid I would come to call TopGun, telling me someone had to make a decision. The someone was me, the decision was to keep going or stop extreme measures, with just a few more hours with our Linda Claire the only result, no matter the call.

I didn’t want remember any of that. But it turns out it feels good to remember, feels good to cry a little. There is some joy in the remembering, some sanctuary in the story telling. Awareness Days come with a lot of stats and facts, but Linda Claire isn’t just a statistic, she’s our story and we’re hers. Anne Marie isn’t just a fact, she’s a reality. Something she’s fond of reminding us everyday.

No, these kids aren’t stats and facts and fund raiser flyer material. They are part of who we are. They’re part of our history and thankfully, our future. They shape us, reveal things in us we might not have known about ourselves. They are our story.

Take it from me, they are a story worth telling.

 

 

If you must, here’s a link for the stats and facts: https://www.facebook.com/WorldPrematurityDay

And if your heart desires, donations can be made to:

In Memory of Linda Claire Linardo

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the University of Tennessee Medical Center c/o Office of Development

 2121 Medical Center Way, Suite 110, Knoxville TN, 37920

Hey man, it’s dead already.

Just eat the thing already Anne Marie.

NO!

There’s no need to kill it again, it died a while ago. So eat or don’t, but stop playing with your food.

NO!

What did you say?!?

I said NO!

Such are the dinner conversations with my two year old these days. Hard to tell from that exchange but I’m pretty sure I’m losing. The big problem is she thinks I’m deaf. So when she gives me the “I said no” routine she says it with the attitude of, look donny deaf boy I’m getting tired of repeating myself. That’s no joke. The slant in her voice is clear and obvious.

She has no fear.

She has no fear.

With Frank all I had to do was look like I was about to stand up and he would recant, confess, and beg forgiveness. Anne Marie just doesn’t defy me, she flat out dares me to come over there. It’s as if she likes her chances against me. How old, broken down, and feeble must I look in her eyes for her to adopt that attitude?

Of course her tune does change once I get to where she is. The shocked look on her face the first time she realized she was no longer hypo-sensative to pain and could now feel getting spanked made me turn my head to keep her from seeing me laugh. Ah small victories. Didn’t last long though, once the shock wore off she was right back to finding a new angle. Always thinking, always thinking. Still, it hasn’t changed her pig headed ways. Maybe dulled them a bit. She is really in her terrible two’s, hopefully climbing out of it.

The one area she will not relent is in the dismantling, dismembering, and destruction of her food before she eats it. And it drives me up a wall. For whatever reason, playing with food is the one sin I can not overlook or handle with any degree of sanity. It was programmed into me at some point, but I don’t remember it being such a big life lesson. It just was a thing I remember hearing, “Don’t play with your food.” But Anne Marie is not really playing with it as it turns out. It’s like she’s killing it so she can eat it.

Now I’m no sociologist, or whatever ologist would be responsible for studying the hunting, killing, and eating habits of the indigenous two year old, but it seems to me like our indigenous two year old is working for her supper. It’s the only thing I can figure.

Give her a slice of pizza and she’ll tear the heart out of it, literally ripping the center from it before eating it. Hand her a slice of toast and she’ll stab it with her fork, hold it up, utter some unknown language, and then laugh like she’s putting the head of her mortal enemy on a pike for all to see. Frank laughs with her like he understands what she’s saying, but he doesn’t. He’s just playing along casue he’s afraid he’s next. And my favorite, give her a PB&J she keeps begging me for and she pulls it apart, pokes 8 to 10 holes in each piece before spiking the jelly slice to the floor, business end down of course, and mauling the peanut butter side. SHE DOESN’T EVEN LIKE PEANUT BUTTER!

All I get from her by way of explanation is, “Oh man, not again!”

The signs were there...

The signs were there…

I blame myself of course. I should have seen this coming, should have been prepared. I didn’t, I wasn’t. How could I have missed it. The signs were there.

<———-Who does that to beef and mushroom? That is an 18 month old with the taste for blood and the look of the devil. Tell me she’s not plotting something. This picture is the reason I haven’t taught her to use a knife yet.

Well she’s almost 3 now and learning to use scissors in pre-school, the proper way, not to pry open the fridge with or perform an appendectomy on her closest neighbor.

<———-But still.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doughnuts on the Deck

So Mrs Frank’s Place headed north Friday afternoon to Lexington for a sorority reunion at the University of Kentucky. That left me and the kids alone for the weekend. Finally a little respite from the constant messes, demands, and all around chaos a child injured spouse brings.

Both kids were snotty and Frank was hacking so it was basically shut in time for Saturday and Sunday. My kind of weekend. Since both kids were down and out I decided we’d do all the cleaning on Saturday and run any errands on  Sunday morning and then I could fold clothes the rest of the day. We were on track too until an impromptu cave made from a lot of blankets started forming in the living room.

In the pantheon of messes in that room, it was small potatoes. But it still needed to be cleaned up. And this little Occupy Living Room hovel was jamming my schedule. The mess was getting bigger and the kids were getting lazier. How long before they form a drum circle and demand an equal share of the doritios? Gotta put a stop to this quick, fast, and in a hurry.

Our final errand Sunday was Target. Super Target to be exact, the kind with the grocery store inside. Passing through the snack isle both kids perked up at the sight of doughnuts. Ha! Got ya!

Hey you hippies. Y’all want some doughnuts?

Yeah!

Ok we’ll go home, clean up the living room, and then eat some doughnuts out on the deck, ya?

I want to eat on the deck toooo!

Yes Anne Marie, you get to eat on the deck too.

You need ya a Fuller bro!

You need ya a Fuller bro!

Like shootin fish in a barrel. Or whatever other euphemism you can think of for tricking someone into doing things you’d rather not do yourself. I’m happy I can mentally manipulate my kids so easily to my own benefit, but I worry they will grow up weak minded fools. Ah well, they did it to me when they were infants and no doubt they’ll turn the tables back on me soon enough when I’m in old people diapers.

So out on the deck we went. The adult in the group requested lunch before his doughnut. That Frank, always the buzz kill. Of course his copy cat of a sister now wanted lunch first too. So now I’m working to make lunch. Sammiches (as Anne Marie says), and carrot sticks. These kids are weird. We did have music though, and we did finally get to the doughnuts.

Keep in mind these kids don’t do kids music. Frank is a Bon Jovi fan and he cut his teeth on Frank Sinatra. Fly Me to the Moon and Livin On A Prayer are his favorites. AM on the other hand was serenaded in the NICU by Chuck Berry and Ray Charles. She goes into dance mode at the sound of Route 66, Johnny B. Goode, or You Are My Sunshine. If you don’t know who sang which song I can’t know you. Shout out to John Couchoud, Nickleback makes her cry.

Anyway the point being, DJ’ing for these runts ain’t easy, especially when they are all hopped up on carrot sticks and doughnuts. But man, hit the right tune and they get their dance on. Two unique styles too. Anne Marie dances like she’s tripping on acid which ultimately devolves into spinning in circles until she falls over and pees herself laughing. Frank looks like he’s being electrocuted. And then it doesn’t get much better. And then he falls and pees himself laughing. So a lot of laughing followed by a lot of pee.

Now before Mrs Frank’s Place comes on here to take me down a peg let me say I can’t and don’t dance, aside from the Tennessee Waltz with Mrs Frank’s Place at our own reception. At a friend’s wedding reception I let Tracy talk me into going on the floor for a fast song. I was handed a dollar to go sit down. Dance career over.

But it does my heart good to see my kids dance in semi-public without a care in the world, no matter their style. By the age of five I was already subconscious about that stuff. So the way I see it Frank is ahead of the game. Thankfully my wife’s joy of life has rubbed off on them.

Unfortunately my joy of cleaning up has not rubbed off on them and they tried to welch on the deal. Eventually Frank’s ethics got the best of him and he went in the house and began the clean up. They say music make workers more productive so I offered my rendition of the clean up song:

“Clean up clean up, everybody does their share. Clean up clean up, if you don’t I’ll pull your hair. Clean up Clean up, everyone will stop and stare.”

Hey man, I never claimed to be Mozart or even P. Diddy. No matter, it didn’t really have the desired effect. Production actually slowed as midget #2 was belly laughing at her father’s singing voice. Needed a new plan.

Turns out Johnny B. Goode is a better clean up song and the youngest runt got to work. And by got to work I mean undoing everything Frank was doing and dancing simultaneously. Much to the protestations of Frank.

Hey man, I'm union!

Hey man, I’m union!

There had been an offer of a 2nd doughnut for a job well done. Ya get zip for unfinished work. Well Anne Marie toddled off and Frank did the job himself. When I asked who earned a doughnut he took another one for the team and said Anne Marie had helped him.

He was lying but I can live with that. We told him his job is to protect his little sister. He seems to be taking it to heart, at least when it comes to snack time anyway.

So back out on the deck for doughnuts and dancin.

That’s a Sunday I could get used to.