Diary of a Stay at Home Dad: Not to be outdone…

This Halloween has been a lot of fun.  At the age of 3 Frank is finally getting it and enjoying putting on his costume.  Big school party today so he got to show off.

Too cool for school.

Frank’s costume is cool.  I mean when are flight suits not cool on a 3 year old.  Especially when you consider the only thing not authentic are the boots he’s wearing.  The patches are all real and from my old unit in Jersey.  The flight cap is official Air Force issue and the LT Col Oak Leaf on the hat is from his Uncle’s Army uniform.  Frank added the sunglasses for show.  The boots turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment at first but then became funny.

We got the boots at the last second and for a steal. Patent leather boots for ten bucks.  So I slap them on this morning to send Frank off to school.  He takes one step and I hear a squeak like from a dog’s chew toy.  He starts running, and I get running dog chew toy noises.  The heels of these freaking boots have squeaky noisy things in them.  Frank loved it.  I didn’t.  I also didn’t think he teachers would be to fond of it either.  I sent  a pair of shoes along with him in case it started to drive them batty, but they were fine with it.  They said the noise of the class drowned out his boots anyway. However they called him squeaky all day long.  Gotta be careful with stuff like that.  One bad nickname can stick to you for the rest of your life.  You think dudes like being called stinky, or skippy, or tiny (normally a fat guy), their whole lives?  Anyway,  while Frank’s costume was cool and entertaining at the same time, his sister’s costume was awesome.

His sister of course is only 7 months old and could give a flying rats behind about halloween unless that means unlimited bottles and more nap time on daddy.  But that’s not to say she didn’t get into, or get forced into, the spirt of the whole thing.  She can’t go outside because it’s flu and RSV season, and those things are bad news for any little kid, but even more so for a preemie.  But Tracy wanted her to have a costume, so we had to come up with a costume.  Tracy came up with a great idea and Grammy’s unparalleled sewing skills came through again.

There was really only one appropriate costume for this kid to wear.  Check it.

That’s our Super Girl.
















Here is the cape.

Yeah, it’s ten kinds of awesome.















It was so obvious really.  She couldn’t be anything but Super Girl.  She’s been that for 7 months now.  She didn’t get to spend too much time outside.  Grammy brought her out to the halloween pizza party in our cul-de-sac but too may germy kids and the temp drove Super Girl back inside.

Much like Super Man, who was impervious to every weapon and every enemy ever, but could be felled by one little rock from his home planet, she can deal with heart surgeries, getting the wrong medication, no heart beat, no breathing, etc… but one little germ could be the end of her.  Just can’t risk the flu or RSV.  We’ve come so far, no need to screw it up now.

Even Super Girl has her kryptonite.


Good cause update: Look what Y’all did.


Goal met. And then some. Thanks y’all.


















Wow.  Not much else to say, except thanks.  It’s a great cause and one that’s hit home for my family.  My sister will be a survivor.

For the Warden!


My Aunt Joan is a survivor.

This day was specifically for breast cancer but my brother-in-law Bob just recently beat cancer and is also in his maintenance mode.

So it’s a big deal.

Apparently Knoxville thinks it’s a big deal too.  About 10,000 people showed up to run/walk this thing.  And it was cold.  Not northeast cold, but Knoxville cold.  About 50 degrees at race time.  And then the rain started.  It occurred to me that only golfers and charity race runners are up this early on a Saturday.  Although as a gofer, I would not have put a toe out from under the covers in this weather.

Here is the squad that braved the weather.

It’s cold. It’s raining. It’s a good cause.

As I said this is a big event in Knoxville for a lot of good reasons.  The Susan G. Komen foundation does a great job with it.  They have to.  Herding 10,000 people into position who aren’t listening to the directions over the loud speakers requires some skill.

Here is what they were up against.

Just us some of our 10,000 close friends out for a walk.


The lady on the right in the pink hat is a 29 year survivor.

She thanks you.  My sister thanks you.  I thank you.

Friends of Frank’s Place – you came up big.

Here is the link if you still want to get in on it.

Team Kathy




Diary of a Stay at Home Dad: A good cause, always a good cause

So me and the misuses (Tracy) are doing our first charity event.  Well second actually.  A lot of you read about the big fundraiser UT Medical had where they interviewed Tracy and a few other parents about the experience in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  If not, you can see that here: Four weeks and Famous.

But this is our first event since bringing Anne Marie home in July.  Surprisingly, it’s not for her, or for premature babies, or for the NICU at all.  It’s the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, a walk for Breast Cancer Awareness.  While we were in our little bubble of going to the hospital every day for four months, sometimes twice a day, life apparently moved on every where else for most.

In that moving on, my little sister heard words no one wants to hear.  “You have breast cancer.”   Of the eight of us siblings, she’s definitely the talker.  She was rendered speechless, for an entire day.  So shaken was I, that a day and a half passed before I could even muster up the courage to call her, fearing I would not be able to keep my composure.  I’m actually struggling as I type this.

As I said she’s the talker out of the eight of us, and probably the toughest, and my five sisters are as tough as they come.  My two brothers are the oldest of our brood and I remember plenty of times where my oldest sister Jane, and my little sister Kathy, would have both of them cowering in a corner or fleeing for their lives out the front door; chasing them with a hair brush or a long piece of orange Hot Wheels track.  We had some wicked bare knuckle fights when we were little.  She has become sort of the engine of the family and we call her The Warden for good reason.

It took her about a day or so to get up off the mat and make a plan.  Not unlike her frequent trips to The Container store, she has this whole deal organized.

Tracy and I want to help, but we live 700 miles away.  So Tracy has organized a team to run, (ok probably walk), in the 3 mile Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure event here in Knoxville.  It’s a small thing, but it’s what we have at the moment.

Here’s the ask.  If you would like to help us in this endeavor go to Tracy’s team web site and drop some pennies.  Any amount is appreciated.  Team Tracy: Race for the Cure

Here are a few shots I know I’ll be in trouble for.  This was my father’s 80 birthday in 2009. Kathy is the bottom left.

Jimmy, Tommy, Jane, Carol, me, Susan, Mary Grace, Kathy, Mom and Pop.

This next shot is after some arduous camera instruction by Kathy.  As I said there is a reason we call her The Warden.  The inmates were starting to revolt.

Natives getting restless. Tommy never gets caught. Until this picture.

Diary of a Stay At Home Dad: The Ocular Agreement

This really could be called The Art of the Deal, but The Donald, or as I like to call him, The Hair Piece, already used that title.  If you haven’t read Art of the Deal by Trump, let me summarize; put a big freaking T on everything you build and don’t pay your bills for the construction.  My buddies stone and tile business doesn’t even accept cash jobs from Trump anymore.

Anyway, Frank must have been studying the Donald because he’s pulled some shady stuff these past two weeks.

He’s been having an issue with his eye where it gets red on one side and he’s forced to close it to focus.  When we try to look at it he screams like we’re boiling his skin.  So I take him to see the doc.  We go back and he just sits there and lets her do everything short of poking his eye out.  No protests, no crying, no struggling.  She even put a fluorescent dye in there to highlight a possible scratch.  The cool part of that was his eye was orange all day.  Even when it teared up, he would have these orange trails down his face.  I may have her do that again when I take Frank to his first Tennessee basketball game this year.

The doc finds nothing but gives me an anti-biotic drop to put in both eyes twice a day.   She says “two drops, each eye, twice a day.”  Just like that.  She says it in a manner that makes me realize she has been fooled into thinking Frank is this cooperative and docile all the time.  She and the other doc are great, we love them and they really love Frank, but she clearly has no appreciation for the intensity and duration of the ensuing cage match battle royale required to get 2 drops in his eyes, not once but twice a day.

So we go home, Frank waves and gives his standard goodbye; a angelic “bye” so high an octave, most Vienna Boys Choir members would just quit or start drinking or both if they were asked to hit it.  After we get the prescription, it’s time.  Go time that is.

Frank sees me and Tracy coming toward him.  His Jedi sense tells him something is afoot and he starts to flee.  My cat like quickness has started to return.  Amazing what quitting diet coke and dropping 24 pounds will do for the reflexes.  Plus he got lazy and cut the corner too close to the ottoman and I snagged him.  Now it’s on.  Once I pin his arms and legs, he diverts all power to front deflector shields, by which I mean he is moving his head back and forth so fast to keep us from his eyes, he almost achieved time travel.  Not sure what concerns me more; the fact he felt such a weak move past the ottoman was enough to get by me or that he’s laughing the entire time Tracy is trying to pry his eyelids open.

Like a hockey ref waiting for the big guys to punch themselves tired before moving in, I wait.  Then as he slows to see what’s going on I engage the tractor beam – holding his head still.  Tracy swoops in for the drop.  On the Dr Seuss strength scale, his eyelids are at ten men times two.  She pries them open somehow and delivers two drops to each eye. Mission accomplished.  Until the next time.

Tracy tries a little rope a dope for the next event.  She hands him the bottle of visine, which gets the red out, and says, “you can put drops in my eyes and then I’ll do yours.” “Ok mommy!”  That is the surest sign he’s lying.  No thinking, no protesting, just agreement.  If they were in prison, the medic would be pulling a ivory soap shaped shiv out of Tracy’s abdomen.  You can guess what happens.  He gleefully puts the drops in Tracy’s eyes and then…, yep, he flees.  Laughing the entire time.

Well the eye gets no better and we take him to an eye doctor.  This will be a treat. Nothing but eye prying instruments in a eye doc’s office.  I pick him up from school early and decide to just level with him.  Going to the eye doctor Frank.  No daddy it’s your turn at the doctor.  Like a dope I say, no way bro, I’m not letting that dude stick stuff in my eye.  That was brilliant.  He sat quiet for the 12 minute trip to downtown Knoxville.  But once we got to the office he was right as rain.  He was his usual angelic self that he normally is in public.  When we went back the nurse and doc started prodding and poking, making him read eye charts, look this way and that.  He did everything they asked, no objection, no complaint.  Doc says, “Frank want daddy to sit with you in the chair while we put your head in this machine?”  “Nope.”  Ok then.  I’ll just sit here and stare at my cell phone like I have important stuff going on.

Then we get to the moment.  They need to look deeper into his eye so they want to dilate them. This means drops.  And they tell him they’re going to do it.  Suckers.  This should be good.

It was, for them.  He just sat there while they put the drops in his eyes.  He even kept his eyes open.  They didn’t have to touch him.  Little chooch.  His eyes get big a saucers and he is now like Roy Orbison, or Stevie Wonder for you young folk.  Sunglasses on, walking slowly around the waiting room until they call us back.  Should have video’d him.  But still when we went back he just did everything they said, smiled a few times even.  The staff couldn’t praise him enough.  Most cooperative, polite, patient they’ve ever had, they said.

We get steroid drops this time and the doc says “it should clear up in 2 to 3 days, give the drops for 10 and we won’t need to see him till he’s eight, which is…”  I say “five years.” “He’s only three?!”  Yeah, he’s only three. He can carry conversations, count to 20, up to 5 in Italian, and has since learned to add and subtract without using his fingers.  Most importantly he can hit a real golf ball with his midget driver about 12 yards in the air.

He counted the drops for the nurse as she put them in.  They were stunned.  I said don’t be.  He’s the devil incarnate.  This is how they do, lay in the tall weeds and then when the moment is right, strike the earth.  Trust me, he’s biding his time.  The anti-christ will run from this kid.  His ability with numbers is weird however.  Show him a letter and he thinks it’s a doughnut and tries to eat it, but numbers, kid’s a savant.

Anyway, we walk out with another bottle of drops.  Actually, another bottle full of midget wrestling.  I have no illusions what I just saw in the docs office will repeat when we get home.  I don’t even entertain a glimmer of hope.  I just start stealing myself for the battle. We get outside the office and Orbison wants his sunglasses. His eyes are still wide as a meth head’s.  He’s giggling and when I ask him why he says it’s because everything is fuzzy.  Sure thing I say, I notice the fuzziness has not hampered his ability to walk a straight line down the sidewalk.

He’s probably giggling because he’s figured out the escape angle between the ottoman and the coffee table.

Oh yeah, it’s on.

Diary of a Stay at Home Dad: AM hears a Who!

I thought I might have been done leading off posts about Anne Marie with the phrase, “in the NICU we used to…”  but I was wrong.  Sue me.

So in the NICU I used to hum to Anne Marie.  Turns out the deepness of my voice and vibration of my chest against hers had a therapeutic property of some kind.  It also put her to sleep pretty quick.  I would hum the songs of all the armed forces.  I started with the From Halls of Montezuma (Marines), then Song of the Army, although it has since be renamed I believe, then Anchors Aweigh, and best for last Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder.  Sorry to my Coast Guard brethren, I don’t know your hymn.  Normally she would be out by the time I got to the Navy song.  But I kept going until I went through the list twice or I fell asleep too, which happened more then you might imagine.

I believe there is official documentation by a few NICU nurses as to my sleeping.  I woke one time to see an iPhone pointed at me.  But who knows how many other pictures have been taken.

Turns out AM has greater staying power these days.  The other night I got through the list twice, she was wide awake and was stumped for a song.  As I’m trying to come up with something, a song came to me.  For whatever reason the theme song from How the Grinch Stole Christmas popped into my head.  You know the one, it’s called Welcome Christmas as sung by the Who Village Choir.  Now my sister Susan and I always referred, and still do, to the song by the first line, Dah who doraze, but that is not the official title.

Anyway, Dah who Doraze popped into my head and I was inspired by the spirt of all the little Whos down in Whoville and I managed to get through the whole song.  And let me tell you that song ain’t made for hummin.  By my second run through AM was cutting the lumber harder than Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two.

Now I can’t get the song out of my head.  It even pops up when I’m burping her.  Show of hands, who taps out the beat to their favorite songs whilst burpin their baby.  Ain’t no shame in it.  I would put my hand up but I have to type.

For those of you who do not have the song in your head yet, click here: Whoville Choir sings the classics.

If you want to hear the hymns of the four armed services click the links.

US Marine Corps

US Army

US Navy

US Air Force

It’s a rare day indeed when the songs of the greatest military in the history of the world can share the same stage with the Whoville Choir.

You’re welcome.



VP Debate Analysis over at Unfiltered & Unfettered.

VP Debate Analysis over at Unfiltered & Unfettered.


Looking for the pithy, mostly made up analysis of the Vice Presidential debate, well you’re one door to the right.  Head over to Unfiltered & Unfettered for that great breakdown you’ve comer to know and love.

My former broadcast partner, Tony Hupp, also a retired USAF Vet, and I have started a blog for politics and issues of the world.

Come over and join the discussion.

Unfiltered & Unfettered – The World explained: By Us 

Diary of a Stay At Home Dad: Halloween Edition

I never got to do Halloween much as a kid.  Went out a few times with my friends when I got a little older. We didn’t give out candy at our house much either.  I enjoyed that for the times we did do it.  It made me feel like we were more connected to our neighbors and the neighborhood.

Now we had a thing in Jersey called mischief night.  It was the day before halloween. That’s when you went out and toilet papered houses, threw eggs at cars, disabled school buses and settled scores if necessary.  Didn’t do too much of that either, but I did my share I guess.  It was a little more hairy for me, as both of my older brothers were local police officers.  Never got busted on mischief night, but we used to snowball calls in the winter too.  There was like five us hiding in the woods along RT. 40, a car came, we rose up and pelted it.  Turned out to be one of my brothers, in his police car.  Whoops.  We all ran like hell, yelling out instructions to each other to get our story straight, change clothes when we got home, threatening the weak sisters in the group we knew would snitch, etc…  Didn’t work.  Even though we couldn’t see the police car in the snow storm, he could see us.  ID’d all five of us.

Anyway, apparently mischief night is not a thing down here in Knoxville.  I asked someone about moving my car, keeping the outside lights on and all that.  They looked at me like I had five heads.  They never heard of it.  But halloween is a big thing here which is very cool.  Our neighborhood is a good spot for tricker treaters.  Lots of great neighbors and everyone gets involved.  Even before we had Frank we got into the “spirit” of things at halloween.

The first time we gave out candy it got busy and stayed that way most of the night.  Tracy was out chatting up the neighbors and I was on door duty.  My office at the house is right next to the front door.  So I’m pulling door duty and doing homework.  I was furiously typing a history paper that I’m sure was late or due the next day.  I must have really been banging away on the keyboard because I did not see the front door open.  All of a suddenly I feel eyes on me.  I look left from my desk and there is a three year old kid in a suit and tie holding a briefcase.  He looks at me like, “really bro” and says trick or treat with the most disinterested tone of voice I think I’ve ever heard. About a second after that, mini-Trump’s mom sticks her head around the door and starts apologizing.  I didn’t have a problem with it.  Kid knew what he wanted and went to get it.  I let him pick his own candy and he only took one piece, said thanks and left.

That was a great start to our halloween experience in Knoxville and our hood. It only got better when Frank came along.  Following are some shots of his costumes.  Only his first one was store bought.  We decided to make the others.  It was fun, but I now know why we may have skipped halloween when I was a kid.  His costume took a lot of time to do. Well I have 7 brothers and sisters.  Nobody has that kind of time or money.

1st halloween – 7 months old wearing THE DOG

Still 1st halloween. In his Little Gym “after party” costume with Pumpkin Cat RIP 1988 – 2010

2nd halloween in the Tomato. Home made and an homage to his mob name – Frankie Tomatoes

Another Little Gym after party costume. Doubles as glow in the dark jammies – nice!









Of course by his 3rd halloween he was heavily into Thomas and friends.  That’s trains for y’all living under a rock.  The train was quite the production but it was a ton of fun to do. He got raves around the neighborhood, which of course belong to me.  I was on door duty again, so the accolades fell on deaf ears.  So I’m going to give y’all a behind the scenes peek at the construction of Thomas. Compliment at will in the comment section.

In the paint shop

The face assembly goes on. Used my own eyebrows as a model

Complete with magnetic hook

Thomas on the move

The complete get up














Not sure we’ll be able to top Thomas this year.  But here is a sneak peek at the lads 4th Halloween costume.

He wants to be a pilot.

Now the girl wlll also be in costume, but the diva attitude has started to set in, so she’ll require her own page once her costume is complete.  I believe Super Girl is the current theme under consideration. No doubt there will be a photo or two come Halloween night.