Diary of a SAHD: Dancing with squirrels.

So yeah, the kid is playing soccer.

Let me start by saying that is a generous description of what is actually happening.

Frank has really spent his time playing golf and not much else in the way of sports.  That’s fine with me, and probably him too.  Tracy rightly thought he should get a broader experience.  You know before he settles into golf for good.  AYSO Soccer was the next thing on the calendar so we signed him up. That tale of woe can be read here: And So It Begins

We had kicked the ball around in the backyard a little but never really got into the nuts and bolts of the original game of futbol. It’s a great game, don’t get me wrong.  Two of my best friends were stars in high school, but golf is a greater game and Frank is a natural.  So we do that.

Of course once we signed him up, we’d have to do more than just kick it around.  Frank wasn’t aware of all this.  He really had no idea what we were doing.  When we got to the place to register, there was a huge play-set next door.  He thought we would be taking him to that every Saturday and he was all for it. Poor kid. Had no idea we would be dressing him like a miniature clown and making him run around a field for an hour just for our own amusement.

Like I said we had kicked the futbol around the back yard a bit but now that he had a uniform, and tiny shin guards, and tiny futbol cleats, and gigantic freaking socks that would have gone all the way up to his ears if he didn’t have hip bones blocking the way, we had to get serious about learning the game.

So I wrap him in these ridiculously huge socks, tie his tiny little cleats on him and out we go for some work on the pitch.  That’s euro talk for soccer field.  Here’s a shot of his first efforts.  Lot’s of promise.

The next Pele?  Well...

The next Pele? Well…

I mean, it looked like he was getting it and might even enjoy playing.

Then we go to his first game.  Half hour of practice followed by half hour of game.  Frank won’t get out of the car.  He was afraid the other kids would laugh at him.  I said, “No Frank, the kids won’t laugh. Parents will.  But not the kids.  It’s ok though.  Parents get to laugh at the kids as a trade off for getting up so early on a Saturday to take you to soccer.”

Surprisingly he accepted that answer and I learned an invaluable truth. Tell the kid straight.  If he realizes you’re not giving him the old windsong (read: lying) he can process it and move on.

We get to the field we’re playing on.  It’s 8:30 am and a little chilly.  The grass is wet from dew and being freshly mowed the day before. His cleats have grass on them.  He comes over to me and asks me to clean them.  I didn’t realize it then, but that should have been a warning flag.

The coach asks the kids to gather in a circle and take a knee.  Frank is the only kid standing up.  I asked him why.  His response: “I didn’t want to get grass on my knee.”  We are four games into the season, the kid has yet to take a knee in the huddle before or during any of the four games.

The second game is picture day.  You get a card made of your little soccer player, akin to a baseball card. The picture is with him holding the ball.  Very cute.  Except Frank won’t touch the ball. The picture lady helper girl is very patient.  She asks why he won’t hold the ball.  “There is grass on it.”

She gets a towel and cleans it.  He’s holding the ball.

Game four, Frank falls down for the very first time.  He’s 2.5 feet off the ground falling on a pillow of grass thicker than he is tall.  Read Copernicus, it’s possible. He gets up and stands still staring at the ground. The coach runs over to see if Frank is hurt.  Frank holds his hands out, they exchange some words and Frank then proceeds to wipe his hands on the coaches pants.  The coach looks over to me with a smile/pity grimace that says, sorry bud you’re on your own.

The soccer moms I’m sitting with love it. They think Frank’s future girl friends will like that he’s so focused on being neat and clean.  Really? I grasp that theory like the last life preserver from the Titanic. It’s the only thing that lets me sleep at night.

As far as actually playing the game, well this shot says it all.

Making his shadow hand touch his shadow forehead

Making his shadow hand touch his shadow forehead

Once Frank found his shadow during one game, he was not a very effective teammate. He dances around making his shadow do different things. Sometimes he’ll just stand there and move his hands to make different shaped shadows on the ground.

It’s really great fun to watch him.  We, as in the other soccer moms from our team, have a great time watching all the kids do everything but play soccer.  And there is the other invaluable truth.

The kids, save a few who are really good, don’t care about how much they score or kick it.  They are just running, and jumping, some doing cart wheels during the game and having fun because they are with friends.  As much as I might try to explain it to him, and I won’t, at this age Frank will never understand the nuance of getting the ball from the kids in the opposite colors, kicking to the other end of the pitch, and kicking it in the net.  He just wants to be running with the group who does all that.  If that group runs off to chase a squirrel that ran onto the field, Frank will be running right with them not caring for second if they catch the squirrel.

Besides, I don’t give a flyin squirrels behind about soccer.  Frank has never made one shadow puppet on the golf course.  But we have stopped to watch a bald eagle fly over, help a very large turtle get across the #5 fairway, and laugh at a rabbit running so fast across the green on # 12 to get out of my way, it almost hit Frank. Golf allows him to take in what he’s seeing. Can’t really do that on the pitch.  But he loves running around with his teammates, as he calls them.

Took me four games to understand how much fun he’s having.

He absolutely could care less if he ever kicks the ball once. So long as he’s running after it with the other five kids on the field, he’ll gladly let one of them kick it.

There’s something admirable in that I think.

So happy he's shaking his own teammates hands too.

So happy he’s shaking his own teammates hands too.

Diary of a SAHD: Power of the Cone

Editors note: This is the fifth and final installment of a multi-part series on our summer road trip to NJ. They are not in sequential order.  Some of this will be akin to eye wateringly boring home movies.  Anyway, you’ve been warned.

As I said in an earlier post, we were riding free all the way back to Knoxville, Tennessee.  Usually on a trip that long you’re gonna run into some type of traffic jam from an accident, toll booth pile ups, normally on I95 in Maryland, or a bunch of jerk-weed 18 wheelers running in the passing lane, something.

The consternation usually starts around the toll booths.  There are no toll roads from Virginia into Knoxville.  So once we navigate through the myriad of tolls in Jersey and through to Maryland it’s clear sailing. And on this particular trip we shot through toll booth alley with ease. So much so it worried us a little.

I mean, we would have to pay for that somewhere right?  No way we scoot through there unscathed without hitting a major road block somewhere, a stop dead and get out of your car to stretch your legs in the middle of a six lane highway, type jam.

So now we are worried and paranoid.  Every time the jack-leg in front of us, no matter who it was, hits the breaks I think, oh crap here it comes.  We’ll be sitting here till doomsday.  Whenever we saw the opposite lanes of traffic look suspiciously empty I thought, bet some chooch flipped his BMW and is blocking all lanes, probably going to stop dead any minute now.

Folks it’s a long 13 hour trip.  The mind does what it does.  Especially mine.

After about 7 hours down the highway, my mind was finally right, we are coming to a dead stop. Relief and anger.  I can stop being paranoid.  By the way, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean a 5 hour traffic jam isn’t about to happen.

Anyway, we are only stopped dead for about 10 minutes.  Then we start the 2 mph creep.  That lasts for about 2 miles. The tail gunner (Grammy), thinks she sees a merger ahead that might be causing the problem. She was right, sort of.

There was a merge going on but that was not causing the problem.  This was:

Yeah - it's a cone and it's all alone.

Yeah – it’s a cone and it’s all alone.

A single solitary cone was sitting about 1 foot inside the white line on the side of the road.  It was not blocking traffic, it was not causing anyone to go around it, it was just sitting there, doing what cones do.  Which is to say, nothing.

Although, it was doing something, it was causing a lot of mouth-breathers to slow to a stop and stare at it.  A phenomenon that will go unanswered till that great and terrible day.

It was also causing us to lose valuable time in the rush to get home.

A cone without it’s flagman, a traffic gnome without it’s fairy godmother, a ship without it’s captain, … dare I go on.

It reminded me of a scene from the movie Patton, where Patton’s armored column gets stuck on a bridge in Italy because a local can’t get his mules to move off the road.  In the meantime two German fighter planes are strafing the armored column and men are dying.  Patton rushes to the front of the column where the mules are, almost has an aneurysm when he finds out what’s going on, draws his pearl handled pistols and blows the brains out of the two mules. Problem solved.

I mean we weren’t being shot at by Germans or anything, but we were making good time and all of a sudden we weren’t.  And if it’s one thing dudes hate, it’s not making good time when driving a long way.  I’m not sure you can quantify the pressure of getting home even ten minutes faster than you thought.  Somehow it makes the whole 15 hour trip seem not as bad.

Don’t even try to do the math, you might tear the space time continuum.

All I’m saying is, good thing for the cone my pearl handled pistols were packed in my golf bag.




Off Topic: An announcement and Swag Time!

Very excited, maybe too excited to make this announcement.  Frank’s Place just got it’s own FaceBook page.  You can find it here Frank’s Place or click the link on the right side of the page. From now on all posts from the blog will appear on that page.  Some other features will pop up as we get rolling.  Head on over there and give us a click on the old “Like” button.  To quote the world’s greatest pastor, “It’ll  change your life.”

In honor of this monumental achievement we are bringing back a fan favorite: the Frank’s Place T-shirt give away.

That’s right, we sold off a few of our Obama phones on eBay, cashed in some food stamps with a dude named Warren who hangs by the gas pumps at our Kroger, dropped our health care coverage, and we’re dirty with cash once more.  So we’re spreadin the wealth.

The hot Christmas item this year

The hot Christmas item this year

Here is the smart looking shirt and current logo of Frank’s Place.  Shirts come in men’s and women’s sizes.

We have used a few different formats to pick winners in the past.  This month we’re going with a tried and true method. Randomness.  I gave Frank a list of the legions of people who follow and comment here at Frank’s Place and he randomly selected 4 lucky winners.  He may have just been reaching for some M&Ms or as he calls them “nems”.  Who knows? Either way his sugar induced shakes caused his hand to land on 4 winners.

As I have said before this is not some dumb reality show that creates a stupid crescendo only to go to commercial right before announcing the big thing.  We get right to it.  The winners are as follows:

New follower, non-blogger division: John Harris, USA!

John is a total newbie to Frank’s Place, having just signed up by e-mail 8 short days ago.  In less than 2 weeks John has hit it big at Frank’s Place.

Congrats John.  Get me your T-shirt size and I’ll chuck one on your porch.

Full disclosure, Harris is my next door neighbor.  Gotta keep peace in the hood.

Longtime Friend of Frank’s Place, E-mail division: George Wessler, USA!

George has been following and commenting at Frank’s Place and at Unfiltered/Unfettered, my political blog/podcast for over a year now.  A retired US Air Force Master Sargent, and Aircraft Hydraulic Systems Specialist, Wessler is living the good life as he so richly deserves. Now he can do it in a fancy t-shirt. Size and shipping address to franknfran0967@gmail.com please George.

Longtime Follower, Blogger Division: Chef Mimi – parts unknown!  You can catch her righteous food/cooking blog here: http://chefmimiblog.com/ If you can’t cook, go read her blog. If you can cook, go read her blog.  Either way you’ll learn something.  T-shirt size and shipping address to franknfran0967@gmail.com please Chef.

Frequent Commenter, Non-suscriber Division: Lisa Edwards, USA!  Lisa normally links to us from Facebook. For a non-subscriber she is one of most loyal followers, and for that Lisa we thank you.  T-shirt size and shipping address to franknfran0967@gmail.com please.

If you haven’t guessed by now, the categories are made up by me after Frank picks the names.  So if you feel like your particular group is underrepresented, don’t, it’s not.

To be eleigible you must be either a member of Frank’s Place by submitting your e-mail in the space provided under Get It Fresh Off The Belt! or be a frequent commenter.  

Get your name on the list somehow.  

Don’t miss out!

Diary of a SAHD: “Little Red Wagon” or “Hey, you gonna eat that?”

Editors note: This is the fourth installment of a multi-part series on our summer road trip to NJ. They are not in sequential order.  Some of this will be akin to eye wateringly boring home movies.  Anyway, you’ve been warned.

The title is a little homage to the old Tennessee Tuxedo cartoons, from way back in the day.  I think a lot of old toons used that format but the Tennessee Tuxedo opening always sticks in my mind for some reason.  The titles of those episodes never really seemed to match what the show was about.  This is not the case with Frank’s Place.  No sensational headlines here, we stay true to our readers… until we find it necessary to lie.  Then we tell some whoppers.

Anyway, I’ve decided I can stay true to the title and still make this one of those lazy posts with a lot of pictures.  Let’s face it, pictures of my kids are way more interesting.

Gratuitous cute family shot to start things off.

Gratuitous cute family shot to start things off.

So there is the happy family all on the beach.  Great looking group if I do say.  We rented a house with two of my sisters and my mom.  It was about 3 blocks from the beach.  Now my sisters roll to the beach in style. We grew up not very far from several beach towns so they know how to go beaching.  My wife and kids are all from the South. Tracy is from Huston Texas, although she did go to the beaches in Galveston.  But it’s not the same.  And of course my two kids are from right here in Knoxville, born right in the city.  Frank saw his first beach two years ago, and Anne Marie saw her first beach on this trip.

We were not sure how AM would react.  Turns out she loved the beach.  Also turns out she would only go to the beach if she was pulled in a beat up red wagon we rented from a local joint in Avalon.  She was adamant too.  There was no walking, no carrying, no riding in the car for three blocks.  She had to be ferried to the beach in this nasty red wagon.  And then she would sit in it for the first 20 minutes or so upon arrival.  She would get back in it to eat lunch, to have a snack, and when she wanted to signal us it was time to head back to the house.

There.  I said put me over there!

There! I said put me over there!

Hey!  Someone grease me up, the sun is brutal.

Hey! Someone grease me up, the sun is brutal.

Beach, Juice, Wagon.  Can it get any better?

Beach, Juice, Wagon. Can it get any better?

The wagon was a great idea, don’t get me wrong. Tracy’s idea by the way. (And yes that was a blatant attempt at brown nosing) When it was time to leave the beach and she didn’t want to go, all I had to do was start pulling the friggin wagon. She’d come running like she was missing the downtown train.

It was just weird how she took to it the minute she saw it.  I thought we might have to hook a tow bar to it and drag it behind the van so we could get her back to Knoxville.

Bottom line is she enjoyed it so I guess we can’t ask for more than that.

Know what else she enjoyed?  Eating sand.

She ate so much she might be responsible for a slight shift in the Jersey shore line. I would check google maps before your next visit to America’s playground just to be safe.  Sorry Governor Christie, you may be Stronger Than The Storm, but you’re no match for the Tough Girl From Tennessee.

Since it’s her first sand eating experience I don’t know if she’s partial to Jersey Shore sand or just sand in general.  Hard to say, but she ate fists and fists of it.  Must of been like 100 grit sand paper coming out the other end.  This might be one of those times we’re glad she can’t speak yet.  A few dirty diapers into some sand eatin and she might have conjugated some f-bombs.

Best sand this side of the Tennessee River.

Best sand this side of the Tennessee River.

Needs a little salt.

Needs a little salt.

Don't judge me bro. Gobby says you used to eat your own poop.

Don’t judge me bro. Gobby says you used to eat your own poop.









However, it’s probably not surprising to some of you, especially the posse on Montford Lane, that a few times she ate so much sand I didn’t need to feed her lunch.

That last sentence was just a hook to see if Mrs Frank’s Place actually reads these.  I like to do that from time to time.

Red Wagons and fists full of sand, it was a summer to remember for shore!

See what I did there. Try the veal and tip your servers.

One last shot of a girl and her buffet.

See this? I ate it all.

See this? I ate it all.














Diary of a SAHD: Toll Booths, Traffic Jams and Torrential Rain

Editors note: This is the third installment of a multi-part series on our summer road trip to NJ. They are not in sequential order.  Some of this will be akin to eye wateringly boring home movies.  Anyway, you’ve been warned.

Here is a long one for a rainy Saturday in Knoxville.  

Well we have come to the actual trip of the road trip.  I’ve avoided these next few posts for some reason.  Might be all the emotional scars that develop when spending 26+ hours in the Starship Frankerprise with this cast of characters:

The navigator.  Sort of.

The navigator. Sort of.

The hoarder

The hoarder












The sleeper cell.

The sleeper cell.

The tail gunner. AKA Grammy.

The tail gunner. AKA Grammy.











It really wasn’t as bad as I’m about to make it sound.  At least that’s what my therapist says.  And if you haven’t guessed, I was not authorized to use what was deemed an unflattering car picture of the Navigator, also known as Mrs. Frank’s Place. I mean let’s just be honest here, I’m retired, she pays the bills up in this joint.  So, hello great looking beach shot.  We at Frank’s Place aim to please.

Anyway, that’s the crew I hit the road with.  To Jersey and back or bust…or something like that.

Except for stopping 1.5 hours into the trip for a potty break at the Virginia welcome center, a scant 12 hours from Jersey, we were rolling.  Ahh the Virginia welcome center, where I used the ladies room without knowing it, with my mother-in-law in the next stall.

Good times.

The sequester must have hit Va. hard because they apparently can’t even find budget money to label the bathroom doors properly.  No matter.  The only other issue on the trip to New Jersey was having to stay overnight about 2 hours from the promise land.  Go two posts back and read Night of the Alligator for a more in depth look at our night in Maryland.

No, it was the ride back to Knoxville that was fraught with adventure.

It started out so well. Did I mention it was Labor Day weekend?

Cargo hold of the SS Frankerprise

Cargo hold of the SS Frankerprise

Had the cargo hold of the Frankerprise all loaded and secured for the voyage. Besides the people there are a few items missing, but for the most part that is the bulk of our “stuff”.  Peep that picture folks.  That’s some grade-A arranging.  Even had a center aisle all the way to the front for easy movement about the cabin. There are some churches in town that don’t have a center aisle that nice.

Ok stop looking.  We hit the road at 7:30 in the am.  Perfect time if you’re planning to make the whole 660 miles in one shot.

We got out of Jersey as fast as I think we ever have. On Saturday of Labor Day weekend at the shore that’s huge. Everyone is settled in and I’m thinking this might go smoothly. I’m a dreamer of dreams, sue me.

The dream didn’t turn to a nightmare until we hit I-81 in the northern part of Virginia.  The little McDonald’s has the dubious distinction of being a great stop and a very bad stop all in one.

It was a great stop because it was our first stop, almost 5hrs into the trip back to Rocky Top.  At this point I have no doubt we will be in our own beds that night.

It was also great because in the parking lot of the McDonald’s stood Eli, a guy who was probably in his mid fifties but looked like he was 750 years old.  Eli apparently was having a dispute with his wife or his brother.  Maybe his brother’s wife.  His vocabulary choices didn’t allow me to narrow it down any further.  Eli was not a student of discretion because he was speaking at the top of what was left of his Marlboro smoke-filled lungs, or lung maybe. It was pretty awesome. I love listening to southerners use the F-bomb.  A good Yankee will conjugate the F-bomb into every possible form and fit it all in one sentence; Johnny Reb, not so much.  But oh how I love to listen to them try.  Made my morning.

It was an incredibly bad stop because the Navigator had dialed up that particular establishment on the inter-webs and it was billed as having a playground.  It didn’t of course.  It did have a great big field next to it where Sleeper Cell and the Hoarder could run around and stay clear of Eli as he brought down all the saints (ask a Yankee).

After the Navigator recovers from her thinly veiled invective filled rant about what lying turds McDonald’s is, we do a manual waste dump, off load some ballast, (you’re welcome McDonald’s with no playground), and get back on the road.

In a flash we’re lost.

The exit to get back on I-81 had magically vanished.  Signs pointed to it but it wasn’t there.  This is what I was getting from the Navigator:

No clue bro.

No clue bro.

Both me and the Tail Gunner are in agreement that the exit was there but now was not. Remnants of some construction became visible on our 2nd pass.  The Navigator spots a makeshift, and I do mean makeshift, sign pointing to the possibility of a new on-ramp to 81.  Had I not been conjugating F-bombs I would have taken a picture of it.

So after that ten minutes of trail blazing we were off and running below the Mason Dixon.

We hit Roanoke and now we are 4 maybe 4.5 hours from Knoxville.  Yes I was bending a few laws.  But in Roanoke we hit a wall of water.  It was Ten Commandments, parting the Red Sea wall of water.  Now my eyesight is ok at best.  It’s almost non-existent in the dark when it’s raining.  It wasn’t dark yet, but it wasn’t sunny either, and unlike Knoxville these folks on 81 don’t slow down just because there’s a measly inch or two of water on the road.

So we’re hurtling down the highways at about 75 mph in what is now a book of Revelation type downpour.  I’m lookin for the Four Horsemen, now on jet skis, to come up behind me at any moment. But it’s an interstate right, should drive through it any minute, right.  Yes true enough, if any minute means 3 hours later, than yes we drove through it.

We bust out into sunshine in Bristol.  We will make it home.  Dinner at the Chick Fil-A, with a playground, was uneventful and we’re back in the Frankerprise making warp speed to Knoxvegas. And we’re back in the rain.  Not Armageddon type but still some serious rain.  And Sleeper Cell decides now is the perfect time for an attack.

For whatever reason she is out of her mind, bat-crap crazy.  Tail gunner is practically standing on her head while singing to keep the kid entertained.  We are but 90 minutes from home.  I am not stopping.  In the entire van from front to back, packed with metric tons of stuff, the only thing that will keep Sleeper Cell happy is my wallet. She played with that thing for 40 minutes.  I was still finding things like credit cards, my Kroger card etc.. on the lawn the next morning.  That is clearly a look into the future when she becomes a teen-ager.

The rain tapers off as we near Knoxville and the Navigator brings up a very important point in the form of a question.  She’s the Alex Trebek of navigators.  What is “Are we going to hit game traffic?”

Well crap, it’s opening day of college football and the Vols had a home game that might let out as we pass through downtown.  I’m now dropping F-bombs in my head faster than might be humanly possible.  Took every bit of Jedi mind power to keep them in my head and not release them into the pressurized atmosphere of the Frankerprise.

Navigator dials up the game on the radio and it appears the game will not let out for several minutes after we pass by.  Bullet dodged, because that stadium holds about 105,000 people. Probably only 98,000 at the game, but either way I-40 in Knoxville literally becomes a parking lot for an hour or so after the game is done.

But we missed it and it then occurred to me we hit not one traffic jam the whole way from Jersey to Knoxville.  No accidents, no jams at the myriad of toll booths you have to go through to leave the northern part of the country, nothing.  Well there was one small incident involving a traffic cone at the merger between 70 and 81.  Look for that in a post called The Power of the Cone.

But all in all it was a smooth trip as far as the stopping and going went.

As for all the rain, well lets just say this is what I looked like when we started out for home…

The world at my feet.

The world at my feet.











…and this is what I looked like when we finally pulled in our driveway.

So let it be written...

Thou shalt be driven from the north by torrents of rain











Great trip, but man that drive is a killer… almost.




Diary of a SAHD: Aces, Hobbits, and Toots.

Editors note: This is the second installment of a multi-part series on our summer road trip to NJ. They are not in sequential order.  Some of this will be akin to eye wateringly boring home movies.  Yeah, I just made a new adverb.  Anyway, you’ve been warned.

I may have mentioned before that Frank can be a bit of a ball buster when he’s playing golf.  It wasn’t going to be a problem on the vacation be cause I would be playing golf without Frank.  Or so I thought.

One night the gang went out for ice cream.  I stayed at the house for some quiet time.  While out they found a place called Pirate Island Golf, a mini-golf joint.  Or as Frank calls it Minataur Golf. Not sure why but this particular pronunciation tickles Grammy to no end.

Anyway, Mrs. Frank’s Place thought it would be a good idea if I took Frank down there myself, just me and him.  It was two blocks away, sounded like fun, why not.

Why not indeed.

First of all, it was 20 freaking dollars.  That’s what I pay back in Knoxville to play on a real golf course, minus all the chirping from my 4 year old.

When we get to the second hole Frank says his club is too long and can he have a shorter one.  I’m all empathizing.  I know what it’s like to play a foreign course without you own sticks.  I don’t want to run back to the front cause it would absolutely freaking kill me if people behind us then got in front of us.  And yeah I’m like this on a real golf course too.  But saints be praised, the little shack has a side window that opens to the third tee box.  So I stick my face in, literally 4.2 feet from the putters and ask for the shortest one they have.

“Yes, but you have to come around front.”


“Yes, you have to come around front.”

(well WTH) – said in my head… I think.

I get to the front.

“Sorry security cameras are only up front.”

What.  What the world is she blathering about?  Then it hits me, she has to hand me the club in view of the camera.



“You think I want to steal this rubber stick with piece of crappy rubber glued on the end of it?”

Blank stare.

Ok then.  Back to the golf.

Even with the shorter putter Frank was struggling a bit.  So I mistakenly offered a little help.  It was quickly rebuffed and rebuked with a stern “I can do it myself!”

Ok then. Back to the golf.

Next hole I drop the pencil and scorecard while Frank is on the tee.  I look down then look up.  He had already hit.  I don’t see his ball.

“Ahh Frank. Where is your ball?  Did you hit it over the side?”

Blank stare.

Cave where hole in one took place.  Forever known as the Cave of Ridicule.

Cave where hole in one took place. Forever known as the Cave of Ridicule.

“Frank!  Where is your ball!”

“It’s in the hole daddy.”  Said with the attitude of, “Well Stevie Wonder, had you been paying attention instead of playing tidily winks with the pencil you would have witnessed my hole in one.”


“It’s in the hole daddy.”  He runs to the flag, reaches his little grimy mitt in the cup and pulls out his ball.  Crap, this is gonna cost me. “Your turn daddy.  See if you can hit it in the hole.”  Not even close.  The laughter that erupted from Frank’s belly could probably be heard in France.  “You didn’t make it daddy.  Mine went in the hole, but yours is way over there.”

We get to the next tee and I’ll I hear is, “Let me show you how to do it daddy.”  And when I don’t make a hole in one, “You need to try harder daddy.”

Gonna be a long back nine.

The fun didn’t end there.  After the 18th hole we end up back at the shack with the high security system.  Instead of handing your ball back, you put it in this Plinko like thing. (look it up)  The ball bounces around on the pegs as it makes it’s way to the bottom.  If it goes in the middle slot you get a free game.  It didn’t appear like anything happened if it missed the middle slot.


Mouth always open, noise always coming out.

Mouth always open, noise always coming out.

Frank is standing in front of the thing putting his ball and mine into the game.  I’m over his left shoulder.  He was supposed to get the blast of water in the face not me.  But since he’s no taller than a munchkin, or a hobbit for you younger folk, the water went right over his head and hit me in the face.  And since he put both balls in at the same time and both missed, I got two blasts of water in rapid succession before I knew what was happening.

Had Frank not been there my response may have been slightly different.  But I was oh so glad to give the good folk of Avalon NJ a hearty chuckle.

Frank, well he was laughing so hard he tooted.

Love that kid.






Diary of a SAHD: Wrestle-mania 1 – Night of the Alligator

The undercard - before the main event.

Frank’s testing the playing surface before the main event. 

Editors note: This is the first installment of a multi-part series on our summer road trip to NJ.  They are not in sequential order.  Some of this will be akin to eye wateringly boring home movies.  Yeah, I just made a new adverb.  Anyway, you’ve been warned.

Wrestle-mania 1 – Night of the Alligator

The bottom line to the whole trip to Jersey is this – we live a bajillion miles away.  The drive could only be made better if the Starship Frankerprise (our mini-van) could achieve light-speed.

Because of that it’s always a crap shoot as to wether or not we’ll make the 13 hour trip in a day or have to stay over for the night.  No big deal really.  Unless of course you’re toting a 16 month old on her first Frankerprise voyage longer that 20 minutes.  Since this was the case, we ended stopping oh so close to our target destination.  Around Bel Air Maryland my little bundle of joy, aka Anne Marie, hit the wall.  And we’re stopping.

The issue of course being noise.  I don’t know about you but I hate to be the people in the hotel keeping everyone else awake because we can’t get our kid to stop crying.  Ironically the best advice I ever received from a friend regarding parenting in general is “Sometimes you have to let them cry.”  Becky was on the money with that.  So when we put AM to bed and she starts to cry we may let her go for 10 minutes or so to see if she’ll settle down by herself.  She does too.

It really is the greatest advice ever…unless you’re staying in a hotel for the night.  Can’t really let her cry very much at the old Hampton Inn or Marriott.  For whatever reason I’m afraid they’ll revoke our rewards points or something.

So not letting her cry means holding her, engaging her etc…

This particular night, again a measly 2 hours from destination, we had adjoining suites at the Hampton Inn near Bel Air MD.  Grammy and AM in one.  Me, Mrs’ Frank’s Place, and Frank in the other.  Frank wanted to sleep with Mommy so I got a queen bed all to myself.  Yes small slices of heaven really do exist on earth.  They just are not as eternal as the real thing.

It’s 2am do you know where your 16 month old daughter is?  I know where mine is, she’s in the next room screaming her head off in her pack-n-play.  Mrs. Frank’s Place tried her magic act for a while, and then it was my turn.  Mrs. Frank’s Place also decided to stay in the 2nd queen bed in Grammy’s room and Frank was sawing some serious lumber in the bed next to mine.  So it was me and Anne Marie.  Turns out she was not looking to be entertained and she wasn’t sleepy anymore. Anne Marie, well she wanted to explore.  I tried to keep her on my bed.  She dug that for a while, laying quietly for about 10 minutes, then it was go time.

She started crawling as fast as I don’t know what all over that bed.  She’d shoot like lightning right to the edge of every side or corner of the bed and then stop, look back to see if I was there, then try to go over the side.  It truly was like wrestling a pint sized alligator.  All the while with this big grin on her face, as if she knew she could out last me and I would eventually fall asleep before her.  If I was ten years older that might be the case, but I still have some pep in my step.

I built up all the pillows into the great wall around the bed.  Pillow side note: had we covered in pre-marital counseling how many pillows come with marriage, I may have bowed out.  The couch has five, the bed has like three for decoration and then there are our actual pillows.  Hell even the chairs have at least one each.  Anyway on this night they served a purpose.  Like the turnbuckles on the ring for a pro-wresting match at the Garden in NY, the pillows kept AM in play for a while. That is until she figured out how to get over them.  Yeah, why are we getting occupational therapy again?

Draggin onto to 4am we were still wrestling, she’s trying to get off the bed thinking it was all a big game, and I’m dashing around the bed thinking maybe the Keebler Elves would take her if I ask nicely and promise not to steal their pot of gold.  The pot of gold may be a Leprechaun thing, but at four o’clock in the am, I’m not quibbling over details.  So save your angry little e-mails leprechauns and get back in the tree and make some cookies.  Or do the elves make the cookies?

Nice match kid.  Now hit the showers.

Nice match kid. Now hit the showers.

No matter.  Right around 4:30 she started to crack.  She yawned a big yawn, and closed her eyes for an extended blink.  Time for the big gun.  I fire up 8oz of liquid sleep also know as warm milk, get a little sway going as she’s drinking and hum the tunes from all the branches of the military. Used to do that all the time when she was in the NICU.  The low vibration of my humming was therapeutic for her back then, so the nurses and docs said.  Now it’s just putting her to sleep.  She was off to Neverland around 4:50am.  Woke up the next day fresh as a daisy, with a big smile as if nothing ever happened.  Didn’t quite work that way for me.

It was a battle for the ages, that I can tell you.


Frank, well that little so and so never blinked an eyelid the entire night even though he was maybe 10 feet from the action.

Kid always was a great sleeper.

I guess we’re paying for that now.