Diary of a SAHD: And So it Begins.

Well, we’ve come to that moment.  We have reached the end of one era and the beginning of another.  Days gone by, relegated to our memories, to be recalled fondly while sitting around a fire, burning the hell out of a marshmallow, in a hideous attempt to squeeze it between two graham crackers and a piece of Hershey’s chocolate and call it smores.  Seriously, does anyone make those things without turning them to a inedible molten lava mess?

I'm thinking smaller socks maybe.

I’m thinking smaller socks maybe.

No matter.  It’s gone, all gone now.

We signed Frank up for AYSO Soccer.

No turning back now.  First it’s soccer, then basketball, then baseball….

The lazy days of hanging in the backyard, hitting golf balls at Frank as he dodges them in his motorized tractor, are just about gone.  For those of you that have been to one, we call the game, Driving Range.  It’s just like at a real driving range where the guy drives out on the range with a tractor to scoop up all the balls and the people practicing spontaneously take aim at him.  Same thing here.

Frank drives his John Deer dump truck around the yard and I hit balls at him trying to get them to land in the truck bed.  He laughs himself silly and it’s great practice for me.  If I manage to land one in the truck bed, I do my victory dance and Frank reaches back to get the ball, while still driving, and throws it out of the truck with a snarl and as much distain on his face as he can possibly muster.  As much as we play this, I should be better at golf than I am.

Anyway, once we start down the road of organized sports, forever will it dominate our path. Driving Range will be replaced by actual driving, to and fro, hither and yon, here, there and everywhere.

It was inevitable I guess.  Just like pre-school.  I was wrong about that, Frank loved it and it was great for him.  I’m assuming the same will apply for soccer and what ever else he gets into.

That AYSO is some serious business. The online registration form was no walk in the park.  I’ve filled out applications for security clearances that were less involved then that AYSO form.  It’s not exactly the most user friendly site either.

After about 2 hours of struggling, cussing, and not being able to print the form, I grabbed up Frank and we went to the registration joint with check book in hand, but no form.  The entire drive I was steeling myself for the inevitable confrontation with the rules happy folks who must run this para-military organization.  My frustration with the inability to print the form was compounded by the fact not one sign directed us to the building we needed once we entered the park.  After turning around for the fourth time, suppressing several F-Bombs, I get this from the back seat: “Daddy, hahaha, you missed 11 roads already, hahahaha.”

I am now ready to throw down with the first senior citizen volunteer who tells me I need the printed form from the web site.

Turns out that was a big build up for nothing. A dude comes up to me and I start in on my tale of woe.  He says, “If you were able to submit the form on the site but just can’t print it, no worries. Give your money to the girl there, get your uniforms from the table there.”

Alrighty then.  So the girl taking the money was 20, maybe.  The lady running the uniform table was 35, maybe.  The dude greeting us when we walked up was 40, maybe 43.  In other words I was the oldest person in the entire park, by years.

In the end it took all of 6 minutes to drop a check, get tiny tim his pint sized soccer uniform, and think up some pretty lame excuses why I couldn’t volunteer to coach Frank’s team for an hour each Saturday.

Of course Frank is ecstatic.  The socks are his favorite part of the uniform.  He was able to “ice skate” on our wood floors all day long.

All and all Frank’s organized athletic career is off to blazing start.

As for me, well at least eight weeks of four year olds playing soccer should yield a few blog posts.

I’m going to miss playing Driving Range.

Diary of a SAHD: What a year a baby makes.

July 26 2012

July 26 2012

So we’ve been doing a lot of celebrating with this kid. We partied a little when she came home. We partied hard for her first birthday. We then partied mildly hard for her baptism and her due date, which turned out to be the same day. That was by sheer coincidence of scheduling.

Now we just got finished with a small party for the anniversary of her being home one year. Hard to believe it’s been a year already, until we looked at the pictures from then till now. Trust me, there are tons of pictures. This business of the first child getting all the attention and the second child barely getting in a picture, yeah not the case here. I’m a little surprised we can even find shot of Frank amongst the avalanche of Anne Marie pictures.


As has become the norm with this kid, words are useless. Pictures tell a much better story.  And as I said we have a metric ton of photos, so for your viewing pleasure, one year at home….

From this...

From this…

...to this

…to this











From here ....

From here ….

...to this

…to here












From bath time...  Who farted?

From bath time… Hey who farted?

...to pool time.  Hey who farted?!

…to pool time. Yeah, alright, it was me.  I farted.











And finally from basically being immobile to walking in a year.  And yeah, that’s a golf club in her hand.  It was un-prompted, not staged, it’s just the first thing she picks up in the mornings. Probably a balance issue, but who cares.  Frank didn’t pick one up till he was two, and now he’s walking 18 holes with me at four years old.  She’ll probably be better than both of us in a few years.

So, happy one year at home kid.  Glad you decided to stay around for a while.

Just a cupcake, but still pretty nice.

Just a cupcake, but still pretty nice.

Yeah, good to be home.

Yeah, good to be home.

















Diary of a SAHD: “This is not a rock kicking contest Mr. Linardo.”

And so began my relationship with one William McClory. In 1975 Mr. McClory was a teacher at my grade school, St Vincent de Paul, in Mays Landing New Jersey.  Several years later he became Bill Man, my brother-in-law. Married to my oldest sister Jane, or Jannie Cakes as my brother Tommy refers to her.  Then he became father to my godson, Sean, a great kid.  I’ll save you all the arithmetic, I have 7 brothers and sisters.  I am seventh in line, Jannie Cakes is third and oldest sister of five.  She was 10 years younger than Bill.

In the classroom doing work.

In the classroom doing work.

A year or two after they married, Bill Man became my beach buddy.  I got to spend a week with Bill Man and my sister at their house in Woodbine,  not far from Sea Isle City, NJ.  Osage Ave, as they called the place (this is a south Jersey/Phila reference to the Move org – google it) was a little oasis that summer.

Bill and I would hit the beach around 9:30-10am and pick our spot.  Had the whole joint to ourselves. Then we would mock the shoobies as they trudged onto the beach around 1pm. (shoobies – people from phila so named because they carried all their crap to the beach in shoe boxes in the late 50ies, now it’s just a term of derision)

Bill taught me to surf, we played endless games of horse shoes on the beach and he taught me how to pee in the ocean right before loading up to go home.  Quite possibly the funniest thing he ever did, Bill would put on his visor, sunglasses, pick up his can of coke that was actually rum and coke, and hoof down to the water, going in about waist high.  Then he would stand there, gazing out over the ocean and all of God’s creations with this go to hell stance, hands on hips, head moving slowly back and forth, all the while peeing as if no one knew what he was doing.

No one would mess with him anyway.  He grew up there.  Bill was mayor of that beach.

That one week became a summer ritual almost the entire time I lived in South Jersey.

A graduate of LaSalle College in Philadelphia, an ROTC graduate during the Vietnam era with a extremely high and extremely lucky draft number, Bill spent his life teaching kids in grade school. Hell he taught me a ton.  Not the least of which, it really wasn’t a rock kicking contest.  From that very first encounter in the schoolyard parking lot when I was in third grade, to the last time I saw him on a visit home to Jersey, he was always teaching.

He was cool.  And I miss him. Bill died suddenly this year, way too early.

My life in Knoxville has prevented me from getting home for some major family events.  But missing his funeral hurts the most.

Seems like only yesterday Mr. McClory was coming over to play ice hockey on the lake across the street with my two older brothers.

On the water with his son.  A smile that's hard to forget.

On the water with his son. A smile that’s hard to forget.

Today is Bill Man’s birthday.

No ocean to pee in here in Knoxville Bill Man. But today I taught Frank how to pee outside on a tree.

I’ll be damned if he didn’t put his hands on his hips and slowly look around while he did it.

Diary of a SAHD: Lenny goes to Finland.

When last we spoke, I was regaling you with the story of Lenny the Lamb and our newfound understanding for his importance.  The praying for his eyes to be open, etc… Read it here: She’s Eating Lenny!   I’m not sure if it was entirely clear in the last piece that Lenny is a male of his species.  The name Lenny should make that obvious, but some events have begin to unfold to cast doubt.

The last few trips to the pool Frank wanted Lenny to come along.  I said we can’t take HIM to the pool Frank HE’ll get all wet, and coincidentally much nastier than he is now. “She can stay in the bag Daddy.” That’s a direct quote.  Catch that.  Frank referred to Lenny as SHE.  I said, “Lenny is a he.”  I thought we had gotten past all this pronoun/gender confusion, but it appeared we were back to it.  So Frank says, “Daddy Lambie is a she.”

All this was going on while I was greasing him down with SPF 99 sunscream, as Frank calls it. Well,  greasin him and the ottoman down with SPF 99 sunscream.  In other words I was tiring of this conversation quickly as I thought out my excuses for painting half of the ottoman white with sunscream.  And yeah, I went with blaming it on the kid.  So I thought he was just mumbling when he said Lambie, instead of Lenny.

So the next day we head back to the pool after our round of golf, (yes it has been a great summer so far), the same conversation takes place.  This time it’s obvious he’s not saying Lenny and I ask him why he’s calling Lenny, Lambie. I get nothing.  Kid will talk you to your grave unless you actually want information.  Then he dummies up and you can forget it.  You get nothing but crickets.

A few days later I see Frank watching a cartoon he never liked to watch before.  Doc McStuffins, for the uninitiated, is a little girl who can talk to and do doctorin on toys. She’s not Board Certified mind you, but she hasn’t lost a patient yet, in case you were wondering.  Anyway, as a simple minded man I tend to get engrossed in cartoons quite easily and I settle in for the latest installment.

Lenny now Lambie.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Lenny now Lambie. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Five minutes in I see this.  This is Lambie.  Docs assistant. A plush, stuffed, Nurse Practitioner if you will.

Again. I’m simple so it just then dawns on me that Frank has taken up a new cartoon and in the process regendered his best friend Lenny and renamed him…or her, Lambie after a character in the show.

So the good news is Frank is not regressing to a stage where he can’t distinguish between she/he, between boy/girl.

There really is no bad news other than Frank’s lack of awareness in the sacrifice to go from male to female.

Well that and the fact you have to go to Finland to have it done.  That’s to say if you want the state to pay for it. Finland does the most government funded gender change operations in the world.  Know who’s second? Iran.

Yes you read that right, Iran is second in the world in government funded gender change surgery. Maybe if Iran had a few more Lambies running around they wouldn’t be such chooches.

And why this incident caused me to look all that up is a mystery even unto me.

But that’s a different story for a different blog.

So main Lenny is now Lambie.  Deployed Lenny has decided to stay Deployed Lenny for now.

God help me.




Diary of a SAHD: Easter Eggs, shrimp boils, & cul-de-sacs

Hard to put your finger on what makes a great neighborhood.  When Mrs Frank’s Place and I started looking for a house we found a lot of great places.  Nothing jumped out at us for what ever reason.  When we wandered into a new development we kinda had a feeling this might be the place, but the builder and his wife were a couple of jag offs from Pittsburgh and immediately rubbed me the wrong way.  But we walked around the hood anyway.  Tracy wanted to be in a cul-de-sac so we went to see the only property still up for sale that fit the bill.  It was still just a wooded lot, yet to be cleared.  Six of the nine houses on the street were already occupied and five of those prospective neighbors, came out to greet us as we surveyed the lot.  The look on Tracy’s face told me I would have to put up with Mr & Mrs Jag Off for the next 6-9 months as they built our house.

We bought the lot and the house started to go up.  We were in a crappy apartment waiting for the house to be finished.  So crappy in fact that when we weren’t at work we either hightailed it to Lexington to stay the weekend with Tracy’s mom or we went to our new hood for a morale tour and check progress.  Without fail every time we went to see the house the neighbors came out to talk.  Yeah, this was the place.

That was 2004.  Fast forward to 2013 and we are the only OG (read: original gang) on our street. With the new addition of a great couple from San Francisco last week, we are officially the last of the Mohicans on Montford Lane.  Things had changed.  The ice cream socials, 4th of July parades, etc.. all died out.  We were missing the community feel that drew us in.

As it turns out, a good hood is only as good as its members.  Someone was going to have to step up and get things started.  Since we’re way to damn lazy for that, this little homage is to give thanks for people like Whitney, Ellie, Amber and Bo.

Whitney, our next door neighbor, (her husband Mike basically dared me to rebuild my deck by myself), wasn’t in the hood a month or two and said why don’t we have a Facebook Page for the hood?  I gave my usual “I don’t want to get involved” quizzical stare in reply.  So she made a Facebook page for ours and the neighboring hood.  Notices for lost pets, alerts of punks breaking into houses, including one capture, and event planning are just a few of the 101 uses of that page. So simple it’s genius.  Don’t you just hate young people.

The great Easter Egg Summit of 2013

The great Easter Egg Summit of 2013

Ellie and her husband Darren stepped up with the idea for an Easter Egg hunt.  I believe our neighbor Amber was involved as well. Guarantee you I’m leaving someone out of the picture as far as credit goes, so my apologies, but it was on Ellie and Darren’s massive lawn, so they win.  The Easter Egg hunts have been great. We met people from other cul-de-sacs, which can seem like foreign countries at times, and we’ve matched kids with parents. Because, lets face it, once you have kids that becomes your ID. I don’t need to remember adult names if I can remember the kid’s name.  For ex, “Oh I know you, you’re Frank’s dad.” Works out nicely.  The other nice thing about the hunts has been the freedom to eat my body weight in doughnuts.  That’s freaking awesome all by itself.

We felt like the hood may be starting to gel, as good championship teams do. Then up steps Bo.

The moms of Montford Lane. (minus Amber and Brianna)

The moms of Montford Lane. Rachel, Whitney, & Mrs Frank’s Place. (missing: Amber and Brianna)

Bo says, “Lets have a shrimp boil.”  I’m not from here and I can’t stand seafood so the idea and the menu were lost on me.  The concept however, was not.  It turned out to be a great block party. Live music, nice bounce house, and a lot of people.  Met a lot of people.  Kids had a blast.  One rather brave, very young lad went up to the mic and did a solo cover of some hick band talking about cold beer and friday nights or something.  I’m from Jersey, if it’s not Bruce, Bon Jovi, or Sinatra I have no clue.  But the kid was good.  Braver then me, no doubt.

There was some unintentional entertainment in the form of a walking door to door salesmen. Well, he was a kid really. Andy, a sophomore at the University of Florida, was working an internship with a company that sells kids educational materials door to door.  He had been on foot, working our neighborhood since the middle of the week. Going from 7:30am to 9:30pm, he was a big hit. And by big hit I mean the scourge of the hood. Knocking on doors 9 at night in a neighborhood with a lot of little kids is not the way to win friends and influence people.  His last day working our side of town was the night of our shrimp boil.  No one was home.  He found us all in a large lot on one side of the hood.

Ain't a party without my daughter in the middle of things.

Ain’t a party without my daughter in the middle of things.

Andy had made a sale and was waiting for the dude to pay up.  So Andy stood there waiting for the guy to come for some shrimp.  After some message sending stares from the tougher moms in our hood, just to let the kid know he was an intruder, someone gave him a plate of food.  Somehow I ended up talking to him for about an hour or two.  The gang thought I was chewing him out.  My reputation in the hood is either perfect or in desperate need of repair.

Turns out Andy was a good kid just banking college credits in this 12 week program.  He hung out the rest of the night waiting for his boss to pick him up.

Then the party spilled into the cul-de-sac.  Libations were in great supply and a bunch of us squatted in the road, trading stories and getting to know each other.  The hour became late and silhouettes could be seen in 2nd story widows up and down the street.  Time to relocate.  We were now a gang in search of a cul-de-sac in which to squat; canvas folding chairs in one hand, loaded coolers dragging in the other.  We were a mob not to be trifled with.  Ultimately we landed right in front of my house.

I called it quits around 1:30 in the am.  A handful of real veterans (read drunk old guys) stayed out there much later.  Some great stories were bandied about in the wee Sunday morning hours out in that street.  Of course the first rule of cul-de-sac club is don’t talk about what was talked about in cul-de-sac club.

Suffice to say the stories heard at 1am on Sunday morning are in stark contrast to the stories you might hear 10am Sunday morning at the local houses of worship.  Although I have no idea since we never made it out of our jammies on Sunday.

So here’s to you Whitney, Ellie, Amber, and Bo.  You’ve helped make our handful of streets a neighborhood again.

Well done.

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Diary of a SAHD: She’s eating Lenny!!!!!

Waiting for the doctor.  Lenny got an exam too.  Prostate I think.

Waiting for the doctor. Lenny got an exam too. Prostate I think.

I’m not sure where he came from but Frank’s go to stuffed animal, the one who goes with him just about everywhere, is Lenny.  Mrs Frank’s Place gets to take Lenny to work sometimes when Frank thinks she’s lonely and needs company in the car.  Even I have had the privilege of Lenny’s company when I was sick following the projectile vomiting I took right in the kisser from my daughter.  You can read that gory tale here if you so desire: daughter vomiting in my mouth story

Lenny is a Lamb with a sleep cap and his eyes closed.  The eyes closed bit will be important in a second.

Just for historical accuracy, I named Lenny.  Frank was not speaking when he started toting Lenny around on a regular basis, and we needed to call him something.  Lenny just seemed like a nice literation of his species.  He’s a lamb, what else were we going to call him, Hank?  Hank the Lamb.  Makes no sense.  Lenny the Lamb flows off the tongue.  Besides he looks like a friggen Lenny to me.

Like I said, Lenny goes everywhere with Frank.  When Frank spends the night and Uncle Butch and Aunt Sally’s, Lenny is the first thing we pack.  But Lenny goes in the backpack, with the binker, juice, and string cheese necessary to make the voyage, not in the duffel bag with the clothes, extra pull ups, his favorite cars, and of course the rest of the animals.  I’m not sure what Perry the Platypus thinks about riding in the cargo hold with the diapers while Lenny sits in first class watching Little Einstein movies on the overhead.

And I’m sure it’s no surprise when I tell you Lenny got left behind one day.  That touched off a blitz of text messages and phone calls the level of which are normally reserved for national emergencies.  Uncle Butch did find him, and peace on earth was restored but we decided to hedge our bets and buy a 2nd Lenny.  A stunt Lenny if you will, although his nickname has become “Deployed Lenny”.  So he’s the one who goes on the trips and the one who fills in if regular Lenny goes on walkabout at home. And yes, I know we should have done that from the beginning because even Brit Brit and Kim Kardashian know this.  But hey, Dr. Spock never said nothing bout buyin no Deployed Lenny.

Lenny, eyes closed.

Lenny, eyes closed, prayers uttered.  Ball’s in your court Jesus.

We still didn’t know how important Lenny was to Frank until the day of Anne Marie’s baptism.  June 30th of this year by the way.  Frank is 4.  Yeah, we’re not good at this.

On the way to the church, Mrs Frank’s Place got a little nervous about the whole deal and asked Frank if he wanted to pray.  He said he did.  First signal something was not right.  Frank prayed the God would open Lenny’s eyes soon.

It’s pretty funny until you realize Frank is dead serious.  He has total faith God will open Lenny’s eyes.  I’m talking about the mustard seed faith that could literally move mountains that Jesus talked about. This here: If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matt 17:20

We should have known.  When Frank mistook my mom for an intruder because she arrived at 1:00am, he ran to his room and got Lenny and his light saber and hotfooted it to our room.  He refused to get up on the bed, a steep climb, until he knew we had secured Lenny under the blankets.  He just stood there with the glowing green blade of his light saber pointing towards the door in case my 80 year old mother came in.

He was only too happy to recreate the event for me the next day.

At the ready, come what may

At the ready, come what may.  Lenny held away from the danger.

Anyway, so now we know the level of importance Lenny holds. Except for Anne Marie.  She doesn’t know and I don’t think she cares a whit about the importance of Lenny. So when Frank came running to me screaming “She’s eating Lenny!” I knew exactly what was going on.

AM was chewing on Lenny’s hand.  Gotta question the kid’s judgement there.  That freaking lamb has been through the wringer a lot, and the washer not nearly enough.  There’s not enough mint jelly and Ouzo to make that lamb taste good.  It’s a wonder her gums have not started bleeding from all the pestilence she must have ingested.

Frank was despondent.  “Lenny’s busted.  He’s ruined.  She ate Lenny.” I thought he was going to throw himself and Lenny out the window.  So I had to take one for the team.


I grabbed Lenny’s soaking wet hand with my own hands and wiped as much slobber off of there as I could.  Then I did an examination.  Once I convinced Frank that Lenny was not damaged and barely wet, he started to rally.  He then went to his sister and admonished her.  “No eating Lenny. It’s very dangerous.”  I’m still not sure if he was warning her about the danger of possibly choking or the dirt she would get in her mouth, OR if he was threatening her.  The part that worries me is I think he was threatening her, but like a mobster does it, not like a kid would do in the school yard.

So we’ve learned some valuable lessons from all this, not the least of which is Lenny needs to go through the spin cycle a few more times.  Man he’s filthy.  But we also learned not much, if anything, will ever come between a boy and his blind lamb.

How could we have been so blind.