Diary of a SAHD: Hurricane season, it’s always hurricane season.

They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

My problem is, unlike Frank, I can’t take my eyes off Anne Marie for a second. So when my sister Carol and I started messaging back and forth on Face Book “last morning” as Frank says, I took my eye off the ball. Turned out to be a wrecking ball.

So I’m gonna just get this out of the way right now.  Carol, my loving sister of 46 years, this was all your fault. There I said it.

Whew, that was tougher than I thought. Nothing at all like Celebrity Rehab.

OK on to recovery.

I live in the great city of Knoxville Tennessee, some 660 miles from the town of Mays Landing, just outside of Atlantic City, where me and my 7 brothers and sisters grew up. Only me and the Warden, my little sister Kathy, were born in that house. But we all grew up there. I’m the only one to leave. The rest stayed either in Mays Landing or the general area. Consequently, I don’t see them often; once a year, twice if I’m lucky. So when I get the chance to “talk” to one of my sibs, I think that’s how the hipsters say it, I try not to pass it up.

This is where the saying, no good intention goes unpunished comes from.

Behold.

Underdeveloped? Yeah, I don't think so.

Underdeveloped? Yeah, I don’t think so.

In the 6 minutes we were Face Booking, (that’s a whole other discussion for another time), my not caught up to her peers yet, micro-premie of a daughter managed to:

-get the bag of fish from the pantry

-close the pantry door

-pull out a chair

-climb up while holding the bag

-open a previously unopened bag

-and spread the wealth up, down, and all around.

As Mrs Frank’s Place, who’s not particularly funny, would say, “You’re killin me Smalls.”

My wife also refers to Anne Marie as The Hurricane.

Here’s why.

Tropical Storm AM forms in my office.

Tropical Storm AM forms in my office.

At this point I’m not really worried. That’s not a big deal. I’m from South Jersey. I’ve lived through hurricanes, you’d think I would know better. They always start out small.

DVD’s and VHS tapes are the trailer parks of hurricane Anne Marie. Always the first to get it, always the most devestation by degree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

First the DVD’s, then the old VHS tapes, without much protection feel the initial brunt of what’s now a Cat 1 hurricane, officially named Anne Marie.

Picking up steam over the warm water by the bonus room.

Picking up steam over the warm water by the bonus room.

Eye of the storm.

Eye of the storm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is FEMA when you need them?

Where is FEMA when you need them?

The back end of a hurricane is always the worst. The trailing edge can have winds double that of the leading edge of the storm. My pod casting equipment and some assorted survival items can attest.

I may be a little late for the next podcast Tony. Waiting for my relief supplies and federal money to roll in.

 

 

 

 

 

Then when it looked like the worst was over, the addicting sound indicating you have a new message on FaceBook signaled like a beacon through the chaos.

It was my sister Carol, 4th in the batting order, 2nd sister, messaging me to ask if I received this picture in my e-mail.

That's me. NJ 1970. I was more stylish then.

That’s me. NJ 1970. I was more stylish then.

In fact I had received it. We briefly discussed the level of my cuteness and Frank’s resemblance to me, or the other way around. Details are a bit fuzzy. Turns out being cute in 1970 doesn’t mean squat in 2013 when you have a 19 month old terrorizing the house, while the 4 year old sits idly by.

Finally, Anne Marie is upgraded to Cat 5 status and makes landfall in the living-room.

It’s not the same as a tornado or even a sharknado, which announce their presence with a freight train like sound.

No, this hurricane was silent but deadly, or SBD, a category up to this point reserved for gas attacks. Welcome to the new age.

The next shot may be hard to take. It’s not for the faint of heart. Be warned.

 

Little but fierce.

She eats lightning and craps thunder

Horrifying I know. Look away, L O O K  A W A Y!

She made short work of the living room. Debris from my office was found as far away as under the TV, so devastating was her power.

The picture left is testament to her force. She’s tossing a magazine holder from my office to and fro like a rag doll, some 30 feet from it’s original resting place. The magazines inside no longer there. Only God knows their fate.

 

 

 

 

Underdeveloped? Yeah, I don't think so.

Underdeveloped? Yeah, I don’t think so.

Then of course the final blow to the kitchen and a bag of rainbow colored fish crackers. Despite the warnings and all the obvious destruction, those little fish refused to evacuate the pantry, determined to stand their ground.

 

I’ll miss them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Diary of a SAHD: Shoes, God help me, we need more shoes!

Pink shoes? Who dressed this kid, Stevie Wonder?

Pink shoes? Who dressed this kid, Stevie Wonder?

OK I get it now.

I finally understand.

It’s all good now.

So I’m dressing the kid for our normal Monday thru Thursday run to drop Frank at school. We’re right on the edge of either being exactly on time or a few minutes late. One dirty diaper, one wet burp, a minor spill and we’ll have blown our TOT, or Time Over Target hack. So precision folks, we’re talking precision here. Frank was ready. His sister was up next.

Frank’s school starts at 9am but the rule of thumb is be there by 9:15. After living so long in a world where being five minutes early is actually late, 9-9:15 is a huge window and we have never broken it. When Mrs Frank’s Place takes him… well that’s a blog for another time.

As I said I’m dressing the midget and I find this great shirt. Creme with very subtle red piping on the hem and sleeves. Nice. Need a good pair of pants. Nice red pants with a little frill on the buttock area practically jump out of the drawer at me. Awesome. Just have to make sure the reds are the same shade and magically they are. I say magically because they are not a matched set. This ain’t a closet full of germanimals my friends. You got to want it when you’re dressing Anne Marie.

Top it with a red bow. Now we’re cookin with gas, and it’s only Wednesday. Normally it takes me till Friday to get this in gear. Grab up her shoes and we should be out the door and might be a tick or maybe even a tock early to school.

Annnnnd stop. Hold everything. What in the hell… Those shoes have pink trim, for the love of… That looks like crap! How can that look like such crap? Completely destroyed that outfit. I’ll never be a design contestant on Project Runway, I’ll never get to kiss Hedi Kulm as she dismisses me with a sweet “Auf Wiedersehen.” By the way what a waste of a super model kiss on those fellas. I’m not sayin I’m just sayin. But even I know you can’t pair red pants with pink shoes!

She looks like she fell out of the reject bin at GoodWill.

And while we’re on this subject, how the hell does Good Will have a reject bin. I took a cable ready TV to those mutts a while back and they turned it down because it wasn’t a flat screen. Really? REALLY? Let that soak in for a minute. Does Knoxville have a higher grade of indigent or down on their luck types? Do we only get the good poor folk here? Well the next and last thing they get from me will be in a brown bag, smelly, and on fire, shot from the missile launcher of the Starship Frankerprise (our minivan). And the last thing they’ll hear is Captain Frank yelling, “Target in sight, load the Crapton Torpedos!”

OK I’m done. That little rant was a long time coming.

Well our time hack is blown now. I’m looking for shoes but I know they are not in there. Well bocci balls! We’re going with the pink shoes. What choice do I have?

My next thought was this kid needs more shoes. Two new thoughts quickly sprang from that.

First, I never thought that with Frank. He was much easier to dress. Second and probably most important, now I get it. Now all the shoes makes sense to me. With the male of the species it really isn’t a thing right? Just about anything we own will go with whatever non-descript shoes we’re wearing. I mean most of my old military uniforms go with the civilian shoes I own now.

So I get it now ladies, I get it and am in full agreement.

The one thing AM’s closet is missing is shoes. That is easily rectifiable.

To the Frankerprise Anne Marie! Lay in a course for The Mall.

In the event we do not return all search parties should begin looking for us in the Payless Nebula and work your way east from there.

 

Diary of a SAHD: Hey you damn kids, get off my lawn!

Pants are a little high, but yeah, that's me in 20 years.

Pants are a little high, but yeah, that’s me in 20 years. (illustration – iStockphoto.com)

I’m finding as I age there are just certain inevitabilities. Hair is graying. Various sagging is taking place. My vocabulary is slowly falling behind the current vernacular. Right there! See?! Did you see that?!!! Who the hell says vernacular anymore?

Anyway, as it turns out one of the more peculiar inevitabilities is my transformation into the “Hey you damn kids get off my lawn!” guy. Much like Annikan Skywalker, once I started down the path, forever has it dominated my destiny. I should have seen it coming; only retired dude on my street, more importantly the oldest dude on my street, there really was no way to avoid it.

On the first day of a new class at the NCO Academy I would tell my students, “Look around at your classmates. If you can’t find the jerkoff, then you’re it.” Well, I look around my street and I can’t find the “Hey you damn kids, get off my lawn!” guy. So…

It started so innocently.

In 2004, when we first moved in, some neighborhood kids were destroying our next door neighbors tree with croquet mallets. After I wrapped my diet coke addled brain around what in God’s name they were doing I went out on our deck and literally yelled over to them, “What in God’s name are you doing?” They looked up and then they ran.  They ran fast and they didn’t look back. They were hauling the mail back to wherever kids who disrespect other people’s property come from. Probably Newark NJ.

That was it.

My first step down the path.

Destiny meet inevitability.

Forward to summer of 2013.

Frank and I are in the backyard hitting golf balls. Through the trees we can hear what sounds like some kids trying to climb the fence to the neighborhood pool. We move in for a closer look. It’s a ten year old kid and what I thought was his two little sisters. He looks at me and says, “Hey do you have an electric drill?” No way this ends well.

“No I don’t have a drill.” Of course I do. I have an awesome electric drill and a cordless one too. But I’m not giving it to this kid.

While I start thinking about what a cool set of tools I have the kid turns to the other little kids and says, “How does a grown man not own an electric drill?”

I go all adult and say, “I’m sorry I couldn’t hear you. What did you just say?”

He goes all gangster; throws his arms out to his sides and juts his chest out proclaiming, “My parents built this pool!” The little girl next to him whispered, “No they didn’t.” I tried to say something and he did it again.

I finally said, “They built it eh. Good go get them I want to speak to them.”

Man, he went silent then turned nine shades of pale.

“I don’t know where they are.”

“Really you have no idea where your parents are. OK when and if you ever see them again you tell them I want to talk to them.”

“Uh, uh, uh, OK.” It must have dawned on this kid at some point that I had no idea who he was so really, unless he told his parents, there would be no way they would find out. His mood brightened a little and they all ran off.

Frank looks at me and says, “That’s an angry boy.” Yes Frank, yes he is. More than likely unless he either learns some manners or learns how to fight, someday he’ll be a toothless, angry boy.

A day later we’re watching some golf channel and someone knocks on the door. Frank runs to the door and yells, it’s a lady with a boy. I’m not trusting his analysis and it’s not registering. So I go to the door.

It was a lady and a kid. She asks me if I was in my backyard yesterday. Then it hits me. It’s the kid! It’s the smart-mouth kid! He actually told his parents?

Nope. Turns out the little girl was not his sister but a next door neighbor. She starts crying at dinner because she thought I was mad at her and tells her parents the whole deal. The girl’s parents call the smart-mouth’s parents and viola! Big shot is on my porch apologizing. I have to say I was impressed. Kid even looked me in the eye while speaking to me. That’s a sign of solid character. He just wrote a check his mouth couldn’t cash. And who hasn’t done that in their lifetime.

The little girl was collateral damage but such is life in the war for neighborhood supremacy. So if you’re keeping score at home, from that one exchange with the punk I was able to make 2 kids cry.

Not a bad days work for the “Hey you damn kids, get off my lawn!” guy.

Diary of a SAHD: Custer’s last stand.

Frank’s bedtime routine usually includes a small sample platter of  hor d’oeuvres and a drink just to get him through the night. Alright so we won’t be parents of the year this year. Anyway, you really gamble with a sound nights sleep if he doesn’t have his room service left on his night stand.

Mind you, I’m not talking about a sound night sleep for Frank, I’m talking about ours. Because if you don’t have some fish crackers, a canola bar (granola), and some water spiked with apple juice, sitting on his nightstand, he’ll let you know about it.

Where's my canola bar?

Where’s my canola bar?

What does that look like you ask? Well, at 3 – 4am it can be Frank appearing at your bedside just staring at you until you wake. Think Damien from the movie The Omen. I don’t recommend this option if you plan to go back to sleep… ever again.

Earlier in the night, like 10 – 11:30pm, it can simply be Frank standing at the top of the stairs shout-whispering MOMMY, MOMMY. Think Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13th.

Either way it’s creepy. I just keep his nightstand stocked. I’m thinking of putting in one of those fridges with all kinds of eats and drinks like you see in the finer Motel 8s. Of course he wouldn’t have to pay for any of it. Not yet anyway.

That’s just my policy. Mrs Frank’s Place likes to put all her chips on red 13 and let it ride. Last night while I was podcasting over at UF/UF Mrs Frank’s Place decided to gamble. When Frank was going to bed she told him she would be up in 15 minutes to bring him food if he was still awake. Her gamble was, obviously, Frank would be asleep and she wouldn’t have to go up there at all.

For shame Mrs Frank’s Place, for shame!

Frank did fall asleep and slept through the night.  Tracy was home free or so she thought.

When Frank got up the next morning the second thing he said to his mommy was, “You never brought me food last night mommy!” He was not laughing even though his mommy was. Then Frank disappeared. As Mrs Frank’s Place got ready to leave for work we heard from on high, “Hey Mommy! Where’s my food?”

My reply was quick and stern. “It’s morning Frank you have to come down and eat breakfast with me and Anne Marie.”

Don't make me stare at you.

Don’t make me stare at you.

“NO! Mommy has to bring me food to my room.”

Well hell, how long do you think mommy hung around after hearing that? Earliest she’s been to work this decade. All I got out of her was “Good luck, Love you.” That’s helpful, thanks.

I bid goodbye to Mrs Helpful and called for Frank to come down for breakfast. “NO! I’m eating my food up here.”

“Well I’m not bringing your food up there so you will just have to come down here.” I’m trying not to laugh, in an attempt to maintain some street cred.

“No I’m eating up here.”

“Ok, Frank.” He’s decided to take a stand. Hard to blame him. His mommy chooched him the night before so he’s going to shut down his little government and make a stand. Worked out well for the Tea Party didn’t it?

Yeah this went about the same. He starved for about 2 1/2 hours until the cleaning ladies came. Since he can’t like them, he ran his skinny, starving ass downstairs to get some food and watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

As my favorite modern day philosophizer Mike Tyson says, “Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the mouth.”

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of a SAHD: Going to the dogs.

“I’m the only house without a dog.”

Sad but only half true.

It’s not his house.

But that was Frank a day after meeting the neighbor’s new chocolate lab puppy Goose.  That’s its name by the way, it’s not a goose puppy or a puppy goose.  It’s a puppy they named Goose. The “they” are the four young dudes who rent the house two doors down from us.  The guy who actually owns the house and his fiance got the dog. Because of that little acquisition our house is the last bastion of dog free zone.

This fact has not escaped Frank. He can even name the kids who have a dog. He’ll sit there and point to the houses and say, “Jack has a dog, Grant has a dog, Bennett has a dog, etc…

Oh in case I forget to mention it – thanks a lot cul-de-sac, or as we have all come to call it, The Sac.

I’ll even get the occasional chop busting from my neighbors, “A boy can’t grow up without a dog.” Well we’re gonna find out.

I am not really a pet person and definitely not a dog person. I ain’t doin no pooper scoopin. I ain’t taking no dog for no walk. I’m for sure not taking out a second mortgage for vet bills.

Frank is somewhat aware of my feelings on dogs. He’s keenly aware that we are not getting a dog. I thought he made his peace with it. Apparently not.

So today Frank and Anne Marie are playing in the living room and we hear Frank say, “Fetch, Fetch!”

We look over and he throws a ball across the room and he’s urging Anne Marie to chase it. Tracy tells him to stop treating Anne Marie like a dog and he says she’s pretending to be a dog. Oh well that makes all the difference then.

I got your fetch.  Push boy, push!  Good doggie.

I got your fetch. Push boy, push! Good doggie.

Two minutes later we hear, “Fetch my little doggie, fetch!” Followed by Anne Marie running across the room to get the ball and bring it back.

It gets worse.

Once she brought the ball back Frank praises her, “That’s my good little doggie.” He stopped short of patting her on the head.  I can’t imagine what would have happened if he had cheerios or some fish crackers with him.

The real sad part was how much Anne Marie was enjoying playing with her brother. I can’t wait till she’s old enough to understand Frank is making her into the family pet.

The way she beats on him now when the mood strikes her, he’ll be a bloody pulp by the time I get around to pullin her off of him.

At least he’s not grinding my onions about getting a dog. And for now Anne Marie is happy playing Fetch with her brother.

So maybe he won’t grow up without a dog after all.

Diary of A SAHD: A new game reborn.

So not too long ago I was lamenting Frank’s transition from backyard sports and games with me to the big boy world of organized sports. In this case specifically, AYSO soccer. Frank calls it “Soccer Ball”. My old Air Force buddy Tony calls it un-American. Both may be right.

I had to literally pull Frank from the car on that first Saturday morning but now, as has been documented, he loves Soccer Ball. He has yet to kick the ball in an actual live game even though he plays 3 of the 4 quarters every game, but he loves it.

Quick side note here: My swarthy complexion and Frank’s long hair may be giving the “coach” a false sense of Frank’s abilities when it comes to Futbol, as my ancestors call it. I mean my father is the first one of the family born in America, his mother having stepped off the boat from Italy to the streets of Philadelphia. But that’s where the connection to the fine game of European Futbol ends. In truth it never really existed in the first place.

Anywhoo, Frank’s love of running with his teammates as they play soccer every Saturday morning, 8 freaking 30 every Saturday morning, has hastened the demise of one of my favorite games, Driving Range.

Trying to flee as I rain down all manner of golf ball on him.

Trying to flee as I rain down all manner of golf ball on him.

Driving Range is a game Frank and I came up with that allows him to play in the back yard and allows me to do something other than sit in a chair and watch him play in the back yard. Frank drives his motorized John Deer tractor around the back yard, pictured left. I stand at the west end of the yard and hit golf balls at him trying to get one to land in the tractor bed. If I get one in the bed, Frank has to reach back, while still driving forward, get the ball and throw it out before I can hit another one in the tractor bed. It’s almost as a awesome as the game of golf itself.

No doubt you can now see why I have missed playing Driving Range. And everyone take a breath, the golf balls are plastic.

Well I’m here to tell the game has been reborn. Another funny/not so funny side note here. When that thought dawned on me today, it reminded me of my father meeting someone who professed to be a born again Christian. When my father would hear of someone being reborn, as it pertains to their faith, he would shout “Hallelujah I’m a Christian” laughing in that mocking tone only an Italian-Catholic, who still speaks Latin, can do. I have experienced this first hand. It’s still funny.

No matter because through a combination of a small twist of fate and Frank’s new found love of Soccer Ball, we have reconfigured the game formally known as Driving Range. It has been reborn.

Our next-door neighbor got a sweet deal on a motorized John Deer tractor. Little Bennet has been buzzing the cul-de-sac in his new ride. This prompted Frank to want to drive his again. It had been growing moss under the deck so I had to do a little refurbishing. Now all Frank wants to do is drive the thing around in the street like his buddy Bennett. So I was left sitting in the drive way watching them go round and round, for freaking hours it seemed. Can’t hit golf balls off the driveway, or into the street for that matter.

But I can kick a soccer ball.

Yeah my thought exactly.

So now Frank drives around and I try to kick the ball into the truck bed. This is exponentially easier than hitting a golf ball in there plus I’m getting much more exercise, so it’s a win/win. Now unbeknownst to Frank, I’m actually trying to kick the ball into the tractor cab and hit him. You know for the added degree of difficulty. Got him four times today. The last one hit him right in the snot locker. That’s his nose for all you Johnny Rebs out there.

Man, he laughed so hard after the ball hit him in the face I thought he was gonna toot for hours.

Turns out it’s a great game. We still need a name, though. Help us out in the comment section.

So Driving Range is reborn and it’s better than ever and I’ve only got one thing to say to that: Hallelujah I’m a Christian!

(Yeah I know it was a long trip to that joke.  Sue me.)

Diary of a SAHD: The Water Catch Game?!?

So I got to put the boy down the other night. A lot of times I put the girl down.  For whatever reason I got Frank on this night.

Now for my northern relatives and followers, “putting her down,” means putting her to bed. It in no way means, “having her put down”, like a lame thoroughbred at the Kentucky Derby.

I roust Frank off the couch and carry him, piggyback style, up the stairs for teeth brushing. I feel like this is going to be a long event because I got the old, “I’m too tired to walk, you have to carry me.”

Delivery to the bathroom, our bathroom by the way, is complete. He has a perfectly good bathroom in the hall, inches from his room. But no, he has to use ours. He’ll actually run past the hall bathroom to ours just to pee. Must be the three doors that separates’ our toilet room from the rest of the house. I wrote about that here: Three Doors to Solitude.

Anyway he gets done brushing his teeth and the stall tactics start. He’s taking forever to rinse his brush. He’s taking forever and a day to dry his hands and wipe his face. Time stands still as he attempts and fails repeatedly to put the towel back on the holder. Won’t let me do it. No, no, no, that would be too quick.

He finally gets the towel on and I’m trying to get out in front of him mentally. That’s a longer trip than you might think. I got nothing. I see nothing that he could do to delay nighttime any longer.

Wrong again.

“I want to play the Water Catch Game.”

Artist rendering of the Water Catch Game.

Artist rendering of the Water Catch Game.

“What?”

“Lets play water catch game.”

He fills the cup he was using when he brushed his teeth, and he hands me an empty one.

I’m not liking this arrangement at all.

I take the bait. “How do you play the Water Catch Game?”

“You have to throw the water in the air as high as you can and I have to catch it in my cup.”

“Really, who taught you this game?”

Hesitated not one second. “Mommy!”

“Oh really. Does Mommy play this with you a lot.”

“Yes. Every night.”

That explains the watermarks on the ceiling.

Ok, I’ve been invited.  The rules have been explained to me. Frank is clearly the commissioner of the Professional Water Catch League, or PWCL.  So I’m playing.

He goes first and all of his water hits the ceiling and comes nowhere near me and I have no chance to catch it. “You have to catch it daddy!”

“Yeah, OK Frank.  But a good throw would be appreciated.”  Kinda went out on a limb there. He’s the commissioner, that little outburst could have cost me a two-match suspension. That could kill my chances of making the post season in my rookie campaign.

OK, my turn. Like a dope I give him a throw that would have allowed him to catch all the water. He gets none of it. He’s just looking at me, disgusted. Never even put his cup up.

“You have to throw it high up!”

“Why?”

“Cause that’s the rules.”

Mangling of the queen’s English aside, he was quite right.  That’s the rules.

Rule 12.5.6a of the PWCL manual says ‘after verbal abuse by the commissioner, opposing WCL player will repeat his/her turn, by throwing the water, until satisfaction of the commissioner is achieved or said commissioner pees on your foot. Whichever comes first.’

When I wind up to throw I notice Frank’s eyes are closed.  So I did what any self-respecting dad would do when he’s tired of being bossed around by his kid.  I threw the water right in his face.

Apparently this was a good throw because he declared me the victor. I know this because he was laughing so hard he tooted for about 3 minutes. Either way I won my rookie start in the Water Catch League. I marched around the bedroom in a small victory formation of one.

Big match against Mrs. Frank’s Place tomorrow night.

Vegas odds have Mommy at -3.  But the bathroom is her home court, so….