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.