Diary of a SAHD: 3 doors to solitude.

I’m not sure who had this idea first, but I hope they made millions from it.  It’s so simplistic it’s pure genius.

This is my first experience with it and I’m sold, lock, stock, and barrel.  I’ll do infomercials, write ads, give testimonials in church if need be, all on the cuff (east coast speak meaning for free).

Welcome to the inner sanctum

Welcome to the inner sanctum

I’m of course speaking of the separate room in the master bath for the toilet.  Or as I’ve come to call it, the crapper closet.  It’s 5 feet by 10 feet of pure awesomeness.  I have never seen one before we had this house built.

I was 37 years old and asking the builder what the heck this little room in the master bath was for.  I mean how many linen freaking closets do we need?  He looked at me like I had escaped from the mental health hospital down the street. He says, “look at the plans again Roger Ramjet, tell me what you see.”  So I glance down as if I know what I’m looking at and then I noticed a little symbol that looked like a toilet.  Can’t be.  I mean an actual architect drew these up, you would think the symbols would be a little more sophisticated than a tiny outline of a commode.  But there it was; a toilet, in a room, inside the master bathroom.

And it’s three doors deep inside the bowels of the house.

The more I thought about it, while trying not to make eye contact with the builder, the big poopy head, the more the beauty of it came to me.  It’s genius, pure freaking genius!  But at that point I was only working from theory.  It was just a concept on paper.  I would have to wait 6 months to experience it.  But again that was only potential value, its true value did not become evident until almost 6 years later, once Frank came along and reached his noise making stage.

Now that Frank is 4 and Anne Marie is walking and yelling at Frank, and Frank is crying about Anne Marie yelling at him, well, I’m not sure there is the calculus necessary to explain the value of those three doors.  It has grown exponentially from that first day I closed off Frank ranting incessantly about something he saw on the golf channel.  Some enterprising young mathelete might one day develop an algorithm to properly illustrate the relationship between the three doors and the amount of solitude received, but I’m not that mathlete.  So you’ll just have to rely on my anecdotal evidence of the greatness of the “Closet”.

Suffice to say the three doors is not only a great physical barrier to the raging circus that is our house when the kids are playing, fighting, or otherwise being kids, it serves as a psychological barrier as well.  Not one of those bad psychological barriers, you know – the good kind.

Just knowing there are three doors between you and the bag of crazy erupting over Anne Marie savagely tearing down Frank’s Thomas the Tank Engine city and the miles of associated track, all while staring at him to get his reaction, would be enough to make a Tibetan Monk find another gear in the journey for inner peace.

The physical barriers should be obvious, but if you’ve not seen one, read on.

Bathrooms have been escape pods since they were invented.  But man, wait till you have to pass through three doors to get to one.  The master bedroom door, the master bath door, and the toilet room door; each one its own airlock to solitude unto itself, but when all three are closed in conjunction, it’s what I imagine the quietness of deep space must be like.  I’m not saying it’s like the existence God, or the vastness of space he created, otherwise unexplainable, but it’s pretty damn close.

So here’s to you, separate toilet room inventor person.  Your contribution to humanity will not be soon forgotten.  In fact I’m not entirely sure why we don’t celebrate the birth of this invention with parades, fireworks, the finest meats and cheeses in all the land, etc…  It strikes me a bit of a travesty.  Maybe I’ll go to the inner sanctum and ponder this.

Alone with your thoughts, on the crapper, protected by three doors, in a cocoon of silence.

Just as God intended.

Diary of a SAHD: Sleep, glorious sleep!

I’ve learned a lot of things in the past 4 years as a SAHD.  Not the least of which is talking about your kid’s sleep habits can get you in trouble, especially if the kid sleeps for long periods of time. Now the moms will say encouraging stuff like, “Hey that’s awesome” or “Great I’m glad for you.”

Guess what folks, it’s really not that awesome, and the other moms are almost never glad for you. And sometimes the offending mom/dad becomes the topic of a conversation that starts with “bless their heart” but ends much differently, once she/he walks away from the group.  So observing that, I realized a lot of kids don’t sleep well, causing moms to be even more sleep deprived than normal.  So can you blame them for “blessing the heart” of a mom/dad who’s constantly bragging about little Rip Van Winkle knocking off 4 hour naps and sleeping 12-14 hours through the night.  I can’t.

Anyway, all that was to say this; this post is not about Frank’s duration of sleep, it’s about the unique, funny, and downright strange places he chooses to sleep.  It would be hard to describe with words alone so the pictures will do the talking.

Waiting for his sister to come home from the hospital

Waiting for his sister to come home from the hospital

This one is not so much strange as it is cute.  You always have to lead off with the gratuitous cute shot.

Here Frank decided he would sleep on his sisters play mat while he waited for her to come home from the hospital. He said this way she could find him when she came home.

It was long wait but she did find him.  His zoo animals were there for perimeter defense and to alert him if she came home.





I’ve never met anyone who enjoys sleeping on furniture more than a bed.  Frank is a connoisseur of furniture sleeping.

Your basic couch position

Your basic full layout couch position

The "falling asleep waiting on daddy to come out of the bathroom" position.

The “falling asleep waiting on daddy to come out of the bathroom” full side layout with a twist.











And the "I want to stay up late but just can't" freestyle

And the “I want to stay up late but just can’t” freestyle











Of course he likes to sleep in a bed too, just not his own.

Practicing to be a hobo

Practicing to be a hobo

The "can't bear to watch UT football anymore" nap

The “can’t bear to watch UT football anymore” nap

Too many lumps in this bed

Too many lumps in this bed  




















You want odd and strange, I’ll give you odd and strange.

It's 2am, do you know where your bed is?

It’s 2am, do you know where your bed is?

My favorite - trying to get to the tub with his new b-day gift.  So close!

My favorite – trying to get to the tub with his new b-day gift. So close!










Playing hide and seek.  Took me forever to find him. He wasn't making any noise.

Playing hide and seek. Took me forever to find him. He wasn’t making any noise.

Testing his sister's bath tub for safety and comfort.  It passed.

Testing his sister’s bath tub for safety and comfort. It passed.












Of all the places I found him sleeping, my favorite has to be falling asleep on our bedroom floor at 8am, on his way to our tub.  He just got this new hot-wheels bath toy and was dying to try it.  But the birthday party the night before was rocking and he was still a little groggy from all the cake and apple juice.

The kid can sleep in some odd places for sure.  No idea where he gets it from.

I wish I could do that.  It would have made all those long flights on a C-130 to nowhere-ville a lot easier.





Diary of a SAHD: It is finished.

Finally, it’s done.  It was a long hard journey, but we have come to the end of the line.

The deck is done.  Looks good too.  If I do say so myself.  Although I did not do it all myself.  I had a great squad helping the entire time.

Chuck questioning the placement of our deck posts.

Chuck questioning the placement of our deck posts. Bacca far left.

Like Bacca from the movie The Ten Commandments, my buddy Tom was the master builder.  He and his son Kennedy, or Bubba as they call him, came over one saturday morning for a little consult about how to set the footings for the new posts and before I knew it they had torn the old deck down.

I liken it to Cortez when he arrived on the shores of Veracruz in the new world. Cortez burned all his ships to keep the men motivated and eliminated any thoughts of retreat.  Was a good idea.



Bacca (left) and his son Kennedy (Bubba)

Bacca (left) and his son Kennedy (Bubba)

We also managed to get the posts set and concrete poured that day.  We were off and running.  Good thing too.  I would not have taken that first step on that Saturday. Heck, we might still be debating the post positions if it were left up to me.  I certainly would not have made that much progress on my own.

Rounding out the building team was my buddy John.  He’s a minster and my pseudo golf instructor.  When this started I immediately thought of him.  Tom and I think alike for the most part.  John has a unique view of things. His vision proved itself invaluable over the course of time by way of saving effort, time and money.  He’s not all brains either.  Dude can wield a shovel too.  Setting the footing for the stairs required some serious digging and some serious muscle.  Digging in East Tennessee means clay, dense red clay.  It ain’t fun.  No way that gets done without John, the digging minister with the good vision.

Minister of de-shovel.

Minister of de-shovel.

Of course his vision failed him one fateful afternoon when he fell off the deck.

As we were laying the decking down the second course was hanging over the edge by about three feet.  We had laid about 5 or 6 planks and went to carry more materials from the driveway to the backyard.  For whatever reason we were a little distracted while we were getting repositioned to start laying decking.  Without thinking John walked out onto the three feet of decking that was hanging over the edge and supported by nothing.  He made one attempt to step back as the composite planks started to sag, looked back at me… and was gone.  He all but disappeared as the boards snapped, except for his feet.  They came straight up in the air and then sank below the level of the deck, some 5 1/2 feet off the ground.

It was like the mast of a sinking ship, showing itself one last time in the swells of the ocean before quietly settling to the briny deep.

I’ve really got a sea-fairing type vibe working this morning, which is odd because boats scare the bejeezus out of me.

Anyway, aside from several deep saw blade cuts on my hands that probably should have been stitched up, John’s deck dive was the only mishap.

As important as the build team was, none of it happens without the support group.

I have a 4yr old, and a 1yr old, and they need tending.  A lot.  Tom got us started on the framing of the deck and John helped several days a week with the new construction, and I worked several days on my own.  Without Grammy (Tracy’s Mom) and Aunt Sally and Uncle Butch watching the kids, sometimes 8 hours a day, I might still be out there hammering away.   Anne Marie might have made it to 1st grade before I would have been able to finish, without all the babysitting.



Baby sitting squad, Aunt Sally and Grammy. Butch is in the mirror.

Of course my neighbor Mike, who started all this by suggesting I could do it on my own, was a big part of the support squad as well.  He was  like my daily debriefer.  The dude is in the construction game and travels a lot so I never wanted to get him physically involved, but I picked his brain every chance I could.  He’s like an encyclopedia with this stuff.  The days I worked on my own went much easier because of the guidance he gave, but it was his one suggestion that saved about a days worth of work and a ton of sweat equity.

Buy an air hammer.

It’s a little thing that fits in the palm of your hand and powered by a compressor, which Mike let me borrow.  The palm hammer costs about $40 and is worth every penny.  I had decided that we would use the original frame, but when I was able to pull the posts for the stairs out of the ground with my bare hands and Bubba basically tore the rest of the deck  down with his bare hands, we realized we would need to adjust some things.  Mainly that meant rehanging all the of the deck joists, the boards that the decking attach to.  That would mean a lot of hammering.  With the palm hammer I was able to rehang the old joists and the new joists, 25 in all, in half a day.

John had been telling me from the start we would need to find a better way than swinging a hammer, claiming we would not be able to swing a golf club for the rest of the summer if we went the manual route.  That’s all I needed to hear.  In stepped Mike with the palm hammer idea.  My golf clubs thank you Mike.

So it was a team effort, as these things usually are.  Even the gang at Home Depot stepped up. When the company supplying me with the composite decking, through HD, started to give me the run around, Shelley and Laura from HD’s service department stepped in and set things right quick, fast, and in a hurry.

In the end it was a trial, a learning experience that allowed us to double the size of the deck using composite materials and still save a ton of money.  Here’s a few shots in-progress and some of the finished work.

Thanks again to everyone who shed blood, sweat, and tears.

Starting to take shape.

Starting to take shape.

Look out for that edge John!

Look out for that edge John!

Done.  LED lit posts and all.

















The stairs caused me to go back to school.  My first and last attempt at building them myself from start to finish.

Lots of digging

Lots of digging

Those damn balusters!

Those damn balusters!  But hey LED lit posts.

Not a bad first try with the stairs.

Not a bad first try with the stairs.


















Wrapping it with composite walnut looked a lot better than I thought it would.

Almost done.

Almost done.

Yeah the trim was a good call.

Yeah the trim was a good call.


Even the freaking lights worked!


Not a great shot. Looks better in person.

Come over for a burger!

Alright, that’s done.  Back to the laundry.








Diary of a SAHD: Video – A girl walks in Knoxville.

On February 1st Anne Marie stood unassisted for the first time.  She was 11 months old actual, 7.5 months old adjusted.  We were stunned.  We felt like she may walk before she was an actual year old.  Well, not quite.  But we’ll take 15 months actual.

Yes she is walking!  She took her first steps a few weeks ago, but we didn’t want to declare her a walker until she could do something a little more sophisticated than the drunken sailor stumble for two steps and fall over. Well exactly 15 months after her birth she is toddlering, toddling, being a toddler, oh hell she’s walking unprompted for several steps at a time.

We’ve generally gotten passed the tears of the whole situation with AM and her departed twin sister Linda Claire.  But every once in a while something will happen to start the waterworks. This is one of those moments for us.  Peep the associated video.

So to shamelessly capitalize on my daughters major milestone, on Feb 1st I asked you , the loyal readers, to guess when she would walk by herself.  You can re-read the post here: A Girl Stands in Knoxville.  The person closest to the date would have their choice of a Frank’s Place T-Shirt or one of the original manuscripts of my book, Frank and Me…. Diary of A Stay at Home Dad. Editor notes, mistakes, etc… included.  Seen below.

psst... go for the t-shirt

psst… go for the t-shirt

Frank's Place T-shirt

Frank’s Place T-shirt











Of course we are now ready to name a winner.  But a problem has cropped up.  The person who won, and also guessed the date on the nose by the way, left no contact info and from what I can tell is no longer following the blog.

So we revert to the next closest guess.  That would be 13.5 months or 13 months 2 weeks.  And we have a tie.  It’s getting exciting now.

Soooooo  ANDREW TRAUGOT and SUSAN HUPP come on down!!! You have won the “When will she walk?” sweepstakes.  E-mail us at franknfran0967@gmail.com with your choice of prize and we’ll get that in the mail.  Congrats!

But, May524, if you are still following and reading this, your guess of 15 months exactly takes the prize.  Shoot us an e-mail to franknfran0967@gmail.com.

Hey, possibly three lucky winners.  We aim to please at Frank’s Place.

And Frank, all I can say is, brace yourself bro, you know not what you’re in for.

You mean it walks too?

You mean it walks too?















Diary of a SAHD: Crazy crap my kid says.

A while back, when Frank started talking, I started jotting down some of his more memorable observations.  It’s been almost a year since the last installment of Frank’s musings.  His vocabulary has grown, as has his southern accent, and his saltiness.   Those damn kids at pre-school!

Anyway, the following is what I have culled from the list and feel can be printed on this semi-family friendly blog.


How’s that sound good.

This is what he says when he’s trying to make deals; either to go outside, stay up late, or watch TV.  You have to say that just as you read it.  It’s not a question and there is no pause between sound and good.  When Frank says it, it’s purely a statement.

We can’t play tennis, we don’t have our bellies.

This might be my favorite.  We went to a local par 3 golf course instead of our normal track and there was a tennis court off to one side.  A couple of older, very overweight lads were “playing” tennis with their shirts off, and they really should not have had their shirts off.  We finish our round and are heading to the car when Frank decides he wants to play tennis.  We walk down to the court where he thinks some rackets may be and says, “We can’t play tennis Daddy. We don’t have our bellies.”  Took me a second to catch on to Frank’s drift because we saw the Hefty Brothers almost two hours ago.

Look daddy, I’m flying converted!

I take it back, this is my favorite.  Frank was flying one of his planes around the house and turned it upside down.  I looked and just said, “Hey Frank you’re flying inverted.”  He looked at me and moved on, unimpressed with my aerodynamic knowledge.  On his second pass through the kitchen he says. “Look daddy, I’m flying converted!”  Not sure if he’s referring to his plane or he’s given up on being a Presbyterian already.

I hit it farther than you!

This was a constant theme on our last foray to the golf course.  Highly inaccurate, he only hit it past me once.  But he trashed talked me the entire 18 holes.

No, those are your friends, I can’t like them.

A few friends of mine helped me rebuild my deck.  The day we started I told Frank he could help. When he came into the back yard he turned around and headed back for the garage.  He said he couldn’t help because those were my friends and he couldn’t like them.

I have a small penis!

Ah, with potty training comes awareness.  We brought this on ourselves I think.  Tracy taught him the proper names for stuff, like she was taught, instead of letting him learn it on the street like I was taught.  So we get “I have a small penis!’  Shouted with exuberance and pride.  And of course since he’s very literal, he equated the size of each penis to the size of each person. From that we got a 4 year old marching into the living room to declare that he has a small penis, mommy has a bigger penis, and daddy has the biggest penis.

Look, I’m not wild about him chucking the word penis around, but I’m not one to argue with perfectly valid facts.

Daddy you’re a dick.

He chucked this gem out at the dinner table.  He’s probably not wrong but I knew he had no idea what he was saying.  In fact we had him repeat it about 5 times and we’re still not sure that’s what he said.  I can tell you he did not learn that from me.  That is not one of my normal epithets.

This may be one of the few times we can honestly say he got that from the school yard.  When he starts using the “F” word properly in a sentence as either a noun, verb, adverb, or adjective, or all four at once, then you know he’s repeating something from me.

I guess it runs in the family.

"I got your back Frank." BOOM!

My Daughter- “I got your back Frank.” BOOM!

















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Tibetan Singing Bowls

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The site has everything from tutorials to testimonials. But if you’d rather read about them first you can find the featured write up in Spa Magazine.

Tibetan Singing Bowls from Silver Sky Imports. Be the first home on your cul-de-sac to have one!

Tibetan Singing Bowls

Diary of a Stay at Home Dad: What’s in a name?

Apparently I’ve been doing it wrong.  For a while.  Most of the time it’s on purpose.  But sometimes I just didn’t realize there was a different way, a better way.

It seems the titles of my posts are too long according to some.  Spelling out Stay at Home Dad is long form and not internet friendly.  Turns out Stay at Home Dads have an acronym.  Well color me surprised.

All this time I had no idea I belong to Stay At Home Dads.  Or SAHDs.  

Huh, who knew?  I think this is my first acronym.  Well other than WOP, which didn’t start out as a derogatory term for Italians, but an acronym indicating an immigrant had arrived on America’s shores With Out Papers.  Just so happens that Italians, by percentage, arrived With Out Papers more than any other immigrant group during the big wave of immigration in the late 1800s early 1900s.

We have our own shirts and everything!

We have our own shirts and everything!

Anyway I’m a SAHD.  I’m assuming the H is silent which would make us all SAD, although I’m not. To tell you the truth, go to any SAHD web site and they are generally sad or mad about something.  It could be some ill treatment they feel they’ve received from a women comedienne or they might be railing and wailing because they have been grievously wronged by a diaper commercial.  I had just such an experience not that long ago.  Wrote about it here: I’ll be takin these Huggies

But what do y’all think?  Is the H silent?  Comment below, you know the drill.

I’m not even sure how to pronounce it if the H isn’t silent.  No matter, I don’t think I’ll be saying it very much.  But I will be using it in the title of the posts from now on.  Because the one overriding characteristic of my life is that I’m lazy.  The only reason I “work smarter” is because the “not harder” portion is thrown in.

Not sure if there is an initiation or a pledge week, or some other high-jinx, you know fraternity style.  Is there a secret handshake, a high sign,  gang symbol?  I really need to do some research. Although not sure when I can do that since I’m SAHD’n all the time.

So yeah, SAHD.  I guess I’ll learn to like it.