Diary of a SAHD: She will not be contained.

It’s common to hear loud thumps coming from AM’s room while she’s sleeping. Once she could crawl it took her a while to find the hard boundaries of the crib and she would slam into the side with her head. Frank did it too, but with him we used to run in like commandos busting through the door of a hostage situation.

The second kid…eh?

I heard a comedienne talk about the treatment second and thirds kids get. She said with the first, if the pacifier hits the ground, it gets washed, boiled, and sent to the CDC for germ analysis before being returned, ironically, to the cesspool that is a toddlers mouth. The second kid’s binker hits the deck and you may wipe it on your leg or if near a sink, run it under some water. The third kid… you think “if there is enough dirt on that I may not have to feed him lunch.”

AM is getting the second kid treatment when it comes to bumps in the night. When we hear a thump from her room we go quiet, as if the silence allows us to analyze the thump and decide what object caused it. After a few seconds we look up at each other, “that was a book” or “she hit her head on the side.” We are about as accurate as weather predictions. But going quiet also allows us to ascertain if she’s crying or upset, in which case Tracy and I run to the car and go for a shake, checking the monitor when we get home in hope she’s fallen asleep.

However, one night we heard an unusually loud thump followed by what sounded like footsteps, then crying. Had no choice, we were going in. Besides it was too cold to run for a shake. The further up the stairs I got the more the crying sounded like it was coming from right behind the door. When I got to the outside of the door I hear more footsteps going away and no crying. Now I’m getting creeped out. Read a few posts back about my insane fear of the dark, which then catapults the mind into all kinds of frightening scenarios. I gotta stop watching Walking Dead.

But I have no choice. I gotta open the door, at the risk of a zombie mauling or not. When I do, I see a 21 month old kid who used to be in her crib, standing in the middle of the room with a look on her face like she knew she was in trouble. Turns out I was the one in trouble. She figured out how to get out of her crib. Did I mention she is 21 months old and born 3 1/2 months early? I’m sure it’s come up once or twice.

Big girl shoes already? Maybe a big girl bed too.

Big girl shoes already? Maybe a big girl bed too.

When Frank looked ready to jump for it the solution was easy. We just lowered his mattress to the bottom rung on his crib. Well AM’s mattress is already on the bottom. She’s using the fancy ledge on the front of the crib to support her arms as she lifts her entire body up and then flings her feet over the side. It’s a maneuver that allows her to land on her feet. It’s not the seeing the Great Wall of China from space amazing, but you can’t look away when she does it. We know she landed on her feet because there was only one thump. Had she fallen there would have been some associated noises, to include crashing into the small table next to the rocking chair.

So what to do? We can’t put a 21 month old a kid bed, can we? She’ll be out of that thing the minute we close the door. Plus she’s has already figured out how to open doors. Once AM gets enough body strength to turn the knob and push or pull at the same time, she will be running around the house all hours of the night like a freaking cat.

As former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick used to say about Michael Jordan, “You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him.”

Not to take anything away from Jordan, but I don’t think we’ll even be able to contain AM.

 

 

 

 

 

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15 more minutes: A Frank’s Place post gets published

Well what do you know about that. Looks like someone rewound the clock on my 15 minutes of fame.

As you loyal followers know, Tracy and I differ greatly when it comes to college sports. She loves Kentucky and I love sports. I am a Tennessee fan, although I went through Maryland’s distance learning program for my BA in history while in the military and walked the stage in the Comcast center to get my diploma.  I am forever a Terp.

But I have become a big Tennessee Vols fan. It’s beyond cool to live five minutes from a major college campus. Even though my wife degrades Tennessee every chance she gets.

I once bought an orange pull over from Dicks Sporting Goods. She took it back. When the dude asked her what was wrong with it she said, “It’s orange.”  

I wrote about the trials and tribulations of rasing two kids in a house divided. It was mildly funny by my estimations. It didn’t get a lot of action, maybe a little less than normal.

Today, 26 January 2014, it caught the eye of a sports website that writes articles for the Southeastern Conference, of which Kentucky and Tennessee are members. You can find them here secwriter.com

They published my post titled A traitor in our midst. They’ve also asked if I might want to write a few articles on Tennessee sports and being a Vols fan. Well of course I do.

So I just want to say thanks for the loyalty, for constantly clicking and reading. I’m nowhere without y’all. Your support of Frank’s Place is the reason it get’s noticed. Up till now it’s been highschool english teachers using posts for their creative and vivid writing classes. But this, this is a whole different animal. So thanks to all of you.

My friend Andy said, “Don’t forget the little people.” Folks I am the little people. The writing still goes on here at Frank’s Place. So hopefully there will be a link to click in your e-mail tomorrow morning.

Here is the direct link to the post on secwriter.  A House Divided

Thanks again!

Diary of a SAHD: The Birthday Circuit

Being a Stay at Home Dad has been one giant learning experience to say the least. There have been a few non-fun type lessons, like adjusting to civilian time. The adage 5 minutes early is 10 minutes late no longer applies. In fact just the opposite seems to be the case, at the doctor’s office, school, the pharmacy, you name it. That adjustment has been tougher than giving up Diet Coke and Italian bread. But it’s a minor deal in the grand scheme.

Most of the lessons have been, in a word, great. Take for example the birthday circuit. Frank is old enough now that he gets invited to a lot of birthdays. Kids from the hood, from school, etc… This is a lesson I’m right in the middle of. With the focus on Anne Marie the past two years, we’ve been late to the circuit.

This is one of those deal you have to experience to appreciate. Like that Calculus II class everyone said sucks, and the professor sucks, and the book sucks, but when you got in there you realized nothing could be further from the truth. Most of my college classes were that way. I had pre-concieved notions that were validated by other’s opinions, only to be completely debunked when I actually experienced the classes myself. Same thing with the birthday circuit.

When Frank got the first few invites my initial thought was, “Aw c’mon man, we’re into this already?” I won’t name names, but there were more than a few parents who fed me some pre-concieved notions that fed into my pre-disdain for kids birthday parties. Like most things, I was wrong again.

I am completely secure in admitting to you the number of things I have been wrong about when it comes to parenting and situations surrounding parenting requires it’s own algorithm to compute.

To put it plainly, the Birthday Circuit is awesome.

The birthday parties come in all shapes and sizes. From bounce houses, (life size, hot air poppers, that use kids instead of popcorn kernels) to activity destinations, (think laser tag and the like) to themed parties, (light-sabers for everyone?!?! Hell Yeah!). Aside from the light powered deadly weapons, the benefits for this SAHD hitting the birthday circuit are almost too numerous to count.

One of the first things that jumped out at me was  the presents are opened later. I love this concept. I can’t and never could stand opening presents in front of other people. I’m like a karate man, my emotion is on the inside. So the person who gives me something is left feeling like I may not have liked it even though I was ecstatic to get it. So I’m a big fan of the open gifts later deal.

The birthdays with bounce houses are like study halls. The kid is in the little bouncy thing, generally safe minus the cracking of his coconut on some other kid’s mellon. While he’s in there I can listen to and/or pick the brains of the parents at the party. It really is a treasure trove of ideas and experiences. Sometimes it can be just a simple, “Oh your kid does that too?” “So while I may be a dope normally, in this case I’m doing this particular thing right.” I don’t usually need reassurance, but I have found it can’t hurt.

Do I even need to go in depth on the themed parties. LIGHT-SABERS!

I just had my first experience with an activity destination. We missed a great opportunity when Grant, a cute kid from our Sac that Frank counts among his four best friends, had a party at Gym-bugs. Our entire house was sick. You may have read about it in the last 300 posts I’ve written. Anyway this joint has ball pits, mini roller coasters, gymnastic equipment, the works. That would have been fun even though most of the stuff would have been too small for me. Sorry Grant, happy birthday anyway bud.

But as the circle of friends grows, so does the circuit.

Another birthday and another activity destination. One of Frank’s preschool classmates had a party at Jump Jam. Trampolines bro, lots and lots of trampolines. A giant floor of trampolines in the middle, giant pits of foam on one side, and a basketball court with a trampoline floor on the other. The party was at 8am on a Friday morning and the temp was 9 degrees in Knoxville. Yeah you read that right, 9 freaking degrees. You got to want it on the birthday circuit.

It was worth every bone chilling degree.

So much for not liking it

So much for not liking it

I can’t remember when I’ve had so much fun. It got started right away when we signed in. The lady handed me one bracelet. I asked if that was for me or Frank. She said, “Oh are you jumping too?” Am I jumping too?! What kind of question is that? Can’t you see my legs? They may be holding up a pear shaped middle, but honey these legs were made for jumpin.

Frank, well he worried the entire ride over that he wouldn’t like it. When he saw his friends already jumping by the time we got there, he had his shoes off in 2.3 seconds. Of course he was a natural.

Once I got physics working with me I was catching some air. Not a lot of hang time mind you. Even Galileo couldn’t save me in that department. But it was still a blast. Best kid birthday I’ve been to so far and best workout I’ve had in a year. Try jumping, chasing your kid while jumping, and climbing out of foam pits while kids jump on you for a straight 60 minutes. You’ll feel the burn. I was sweating like a pig, a pig I say.

The foam pit was not kind to me

The foam pit was not kind to me

Of course there is always some skinny little putz showing off. Some dude who could fit through a mail slot was jumping from one side of the room to the other. His nasty little pig toes were getting about 25 feet off the ground. He was hitting each tramp (that’s how the kids say it) dead center and flying to the next one. I was watching to see if his friggin head was going to hit the roof beams of this joint. No luck, eh I mean  good for him.

Anyway, this was a great activity birthday and I look forward to the circuit this year.

 

If there was a way we could incorporate light-sabers with the jump jam…

I think you’d really have something there.

 

 

Diary of a SAHD: Free range chicken – a weekend of solitude

So the sickness has been strong in this house for a few weeks. We all got sick to varying degrees. AM went on nebulizer treatments, Frank had a respiratory infection, Tracy had the flu and was sent outside the camp (her mom’s house), for three days. Me, I had a little bit of everything, to include the infection. Of course as all my fellow Stay At Home Parents (SAPs – Ha! awesome. The H is silent) can attest, no rest for the Commander-In-Chief of the House, or CINC House, no matter how sick, no matter how weary. Wow, that’s a lot of acronyms in one sentence. Makes me all misty for the performance reports I had to write in the Air Force.

Of course we all recovered, although not all at the same time it was pretty close.

It’s good to be healthy, but even better to be recognized for the effort. Surprise surprise, Mrs Frank’s Place decided to reward my valor in the face of unrelenting kid snot and bringing credit upon myself, multi-children families, and Stay at Home Dads everywhere. There was a ceremony and everything. (Not really)

Instead of the dried out cake from the Wal-mart bakery we used to get for promotions, retirements, etc… I got something even better. Tracy decided to take the kids and Grammy to North Carolina to see her brother and his family. They left on Friday morning and returned Monday night around 7pm.

For those of you not getting it, I was home alone for almost four whole days. A hero’s prize indeed.

It was interesting to say the least. First off, the gang departed almost with-in an hour of their target time. That alone will baffle physicists for years.

The other peculiarity – how quickly I organized a to do list in my head. Motivation = crystallization/activation. Wednesday night a plan crystallized, get the house cleaned as much as possible before they leave on Friday. Thursday was activation as I covertly cleaned where I could. I didn’t want to seem eager to get rid of them. Jedi calm was in order. So when I saw an area I could pick up, I did. No fanfare. I didn’t sing my usual songs about how I was the greatest cleaning daddy of all time.

This required keeping an eye on the bigger picture. Four freaking days by myself in a clean house, on NFL championship Sunday no less. On to the play by play.

The kitchen is my normal haunt, so I could be open about making it spotless. Always good to have a base of operations. Start off with a clean base and branch out from there. The living room would fall next, then I would subdue the downstair’s bath. Then a special op to take out the dinning room, a staging area for crap since Christmas. SAPs, I was focused and firing on all eight. So short of a good vacuuming, the downstairs was solid by Friday morning. Laundry was already in the works so Tracy would have clothes to pack for her and the kids.

Nothing to do in the house until they left so I got the Starship Frankerprise (the van) clean and ready to depart for the six hour ride. I set up the cockpit area with Tracy’s sunglasses, box of tissues, and the folder of DVD’s to put movies on for Frank in the second row. Only thing left to do was assist in the departure Friday morning. Once they were gone it would be t-shirts, home shorts, and sports on TV four days straight. Or so I thought.

A weird thing happened on the way to my boxer shorts/no shave weekend alone. I got the urge to keep cleaning.

I knew the rest of Friday morning would be spent cleaning the upstairs. I felt like I could be done by lunch, hit the Kroger for supplies and be home to watch TV until Monday night. At that moment the plan was still in tact. AM’s room would be first because it was easiest. Not much to pick up, empty the diaper sausage maker machine thing, empty the trash and vacuum when I vacuum the entire upstairs. Boom! I’m rolling.

The bonus room was next. Picked it up empty trash, vacuum. Boom! Then Frank’s room. Same thing. Damn this kid has a lot of crumbs on his floor. Make a note to stop giving him food at bedtime. Boom. Our bedroom would be toughest, but that was relative.

We had some Christmas decorations in a bag in our bedroom. Took that to the storage closet in the bonus room. I was gonna just jam it in there and proceed but the closet was such a mess. Ah only about 1o minutes to reorg that, no problem. While on the floor moving the pieces around I noticed the carpet in there was getting a little rough. A small apple juice stain here, a mustard stain there. Gonna need to shampoo this joint.

As I’m vacuuming the upstairs to make ready for the carpet cleaning I’m having a running debate in my head.

Are you freaking crazy? Go put on some home clothes and watch a Bar Rescue marathon. What the hell are you doing? Well it would be nice to get this place cleaned up, get the carpet cleaned. Yes it sure would, but not on your hero’s vacation weekend. But if not now, when?

The carpet cleaner is not as heavy as it looks and I hefted it up the stairs with little effort. I could not believe how good I felt about that room after the carpet was clean. Well hell, now the hallway looks bad by comparison. That won’t take long. And it didn’t. I had already moved my clothes folding station to the bedroom, so the bonus room looked like the huge room it was when we moved in 10 years ago.

Getting late. Need to hit the Kroger for food, none of it healthy but none of it would cause dirty dishes. For whatever reason the deluxe grahams lasted a lot longer than I thought they would.

Polished the kitchen furniture and hardwood floor after dinner that night. Friday night TV sucks.

How was the other half fairing, being away from dear old dad for the weekend?

clearly missing his father

clearly missing his father

Distraught without daddy

Distraught without daddy

 

Up by 8 Saturday morning. The Tennessee/Kentucky game was on at noon so I only had time to fix the smoke alarms and the CO2 detector in the hall. Game ended in disappointment. Welcome to Tennessee college sports. Took my angst out on the laundry. Got it all washed and folded.

There was golf on but for some reason I could not bring myself to sit down and watch it. I had no idea what was going on. It went like that all weekend. I would feel like sitting down and a spot in the house would pop into my head along with the thought of how to better organize it or clean it. When I did sit down I would find myself getting weepy during emotional moments of a movie.

What in the actual hell?!?!

Now I did enjoy the time alone. But therein lies the problem. I enjoyed it because the house was getting cleaned, not because I was alone. Although that was an added benefit. Except at night. I’m deathly afraid of the dark when I’m alone.

That’s a separate story stemming from a weekend shopping trip my wife went on before we had kids, if y’all want to hear it some other time.

The house was so lit up, in coming flights at Knoxville Airport were diverting over the Sac by mistake. I set it up so I’m turing off lights behind me as I make my way upstairs. That requires almost all lights in the house to be on prior to it getting dark. I know what my father would think, I can’t imagine what the Sac thought as the entire house was lit up well past midnight. I was going to bed around 1-1:30 in the am.

Anyway, the more clean and organized the house became, the more at peace I was. I’m not at all sure how to feel about that.

So lets recap: urge to clean, whacking junk food 9000 calories at a time, getting weepy at sappy movies.

It’s possible I may be pregnant. That would explain this excess weight.

Golf weather can’t come soon enough.

Special shout out to my angel of a sister-in-law Rachel for allowing my kids to trash her house for the last four days instead of mine.

 

 

Diary of a SAHD: Discovering a galaxy far far away…

Editors Note: In honor of International Star Wars Day, (it’s May the 4th Be With You day if you were not aware,) Here is a story of when my kids discovered the greatest movie franchise in the known galaxy. Enjoy. 

Discovering a galaxy far far away…

Honestly we have been actively keeping this from him. Obviously we’ve not done a very good job at shielding him from it. Kids are maturing so quickly these days. He’ll only be five in May so how soon is too soon? How early is innocence lost these days? When is the right time to tell him about it, to have THE talk?

He’s seen it by accident on TV so apparently the moment has come and the time is now.

Time for THE talk.

Time to tell him about Star Wars.

Some random dude on Twitter mentioned how no matter how many times it’s on he always gets sucked in by the Star Wars marathon on Spike. Mrs Franks Place replied to his tweet by saying she knows someone who does the exact same thing.

Two things she fails to realize is I follow her on Twitter so I saw that tweet. Second, I watch a lot of Star Wars and because of that have developed Jedi mind power which means I know she was talking about me, and in a non-complimentary way. The dark side always reveals itself sooner or later.

She’s not wrong. No matter how many times it plays I can watch the Star Wars. Like The Godfather, the Star Wars movies transcend time. They hold up. They’re great movies and always will be.

A Jedi's power flows through the binker.

A Jedi’s power flows through the binker.

I’m dying for Frank to get hooked. The light-saber battles alone will be epic. But the movies are too dark in theme for a little kid in my opinion so I’ve not let him watch. Kids in his class have though. Frank has been to a Star Wars themed birthday party and has had imaginary light-sabre duels in the school yard with his buds. We have actual duels on the Wii. But that’s me against him using just characters from the movies. No plots or darkness involved. Still I didn’t think the movies would be a good idea for him. There are parts of Henry Huggle Monster that cause him to run from the room.

It just so happened there was a Star Wars marathon a few weeks ago. Spike TV was playing all six movies in numerical order. If I was single I would have never changed from my PJ’s and eaten nothing but popcorn for the entire Saturday. Married with no kids: I would have still lived on Diet Coke and popcorn all day, but I would have done it standing at the ironing board folding all the laundry in the house. That would have got me through three and a half of the six moivies. Would have been sitting on my ass for the last two.

Married with two kids: still doing laundry but with remote set to the Star Wars and Disney Junior so I can flip to Octonauts in case the two midgets wander in. They wander in all the time so I was seeing a lot of Octonauts and not much Jedi. But one particularly quiet moment when midget 2 was down for her nap, midget 1 wandered in to my laundry station undetected while I was watching A New Hope, the first Star Wars movie released, (1977) but fourth in the series. Also least darkest in my opinion. Although Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen were sent to their eternal dirt naps in a less than glorious fashion by the storm troopers.

Anyway, once I realized he was standing by the door I switched it to Disney. Too late. The questions start.

What was that movie? Why were they shooting that man? What happened to that ship? And on and on.

It was time. No way around it now.

You see son a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…

Ah the explanations won’t do any good. I just let him watch it. In five minutes he saw a light-saber fight and thought they were playing the game we play on the Wii. When Obi Wan is killed by Darth Vader Frank asked, “Where are they gonna play next.” In the game after you win a duel it restarts and you can pick which planet or scene you want to duel in next. Not so in the movie. Obi Wan was sent to the eternal ether. This stark reality caused Frank to deem it a daddy movie and he promptly ran out.

That same day, three baskets of laundry later, midget 2, up from her nap wonders in while I’m watching the third movie in the series and the latest one released, Revenge of the Sith. It’s by far the darkest of the six movies in my opinion. The particular scene she saw takes place on Chewbacca’s home planet, loaded with Wookies in a bloody battle with the droid armies.

Wookies/Sheep - Anne Marie speaks their language.

Wookies/Sheep – Anne Marie speaks their language.

Anne Marie’s response? Pointed at the TV and yelled “Sheep! Sheep! Baaa”. Yeah so I guess they do look like sheep, if sheep could stand on two feet, fire a laser crossbow, and you know, be self governing so as to run an entire planet. But I took her point. That kid is a pistol.

So Frank appears to be unfazed. He got a light-saber from the birthday party he went to Saturday, (not a real one, I would have kept that for myself) and he still wants to have duels on the Wii. He just doesn’t want to watch the movies.

That’s ok I guess. Seems a bit unnatural to get sucked in by the merchandizing without seeing the actual movies, but ok.

Maybe the force is not strong with him after all.

His sister on the other hand…

Jedi or Sith? We report, you decide!

Jedi or Sith? We report, you decide!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK maybe not.

 

 

 

Diary of a SAHD: And a little child shall lead them

If only...

If only…

Taken in its strictest translation, the bible verse I used for the title doesn’t really mean what I’m about to make it mean. The Book is omniscient no doubt, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Isaiah had absolutely no idea what a binker was. Further I don’t think he would have cared.

But I’m a stay at home dad so I care. But only slightly more than Isaiah.

For those of you in the here and now that don’t know what a binker is, prepare for an education. From the Latin securitatem pacis we get security pacifier or passey. Some of you Gauls call it a nuk or binkie. Well from the new Frank’s Place Latin, binkerus incorruptione we get everlasting binker. Or in our case, everlasting shame.

I think I mispronounced binkie once and said binker. Frank seemed to like it so we call it a binker. Note the present tense of that last sentence.

We consider ourselves to be pretty good parents. Frank behaves in public and minds the adults we tell him to mind. He doesn’t pull the wings off of flys. He is a bit of a jeep hog. He likes a good motorized jeep and is not inclined to share. But for the most part we feel like we’ve done well. Except for that damn binker.

Yeah he still had it, at the age of 4 years 4 months, God help us he still had it. We told ourselves he only uses it when he sleeps, but as my friend John says, that’s a lie from the pit of hell. Whenever we don’t feel like fighting with him or we want him to quiet down we let him have it. And he’s hooked. Like a junkie on crack he’s hooked and we are his willing dealers.

A neighbor said “It’s not like he’s gonna take it to college.” Well… At this point he might marry it if we let him.

At least he could have married it. Not now. His little sister took matters into her own hands and led us from the wilderness of our parenting failure.

The mustachifier. 9 kinds of awesome.

The mustachifier. 9 kinds of awesome.

AM never used a binker once she came home. She used one sporadically in the NICU, but like people who smoke weed for glaucoma, it was purely for medicinal purposes. Once she came home she never wanted it. We had like 300 of them. Frank would go around and collect them up and dump them all in her crib in an effort to get her hooked. No dice. She never took to it.

Then I noticed a lot of hers were missing. I thought Frank might be hoarding them for himself. Preparing for the long cold winter to come. Nope. She was throwing them into the trash. No biggie, she doesn’t use them so no loss.

Then Frank’s personal supply started to dwindle. He had four. Then he had two. When he got down to one he started to panic. I know this because at one o’clock in the am I could hear him making a lot of racket in his room. I go in to find him half stuffed in between the wall and his bed. When I ask what the hell he’s doing he finally looks up, last remaining binker in his mouth like a old time news man chewing a cigar and says, “I’m looking for my binkers.”

You have a binker Frank. “But this is just one, I need the other 3.” Man he’s in deep I thought. Celebrity rehab won’t even be able to deal with this. What’s next rummaging through the garbage like a heroine addict looking for a dirty syringe?

He never found anymore that night. He still hasn’t, and his sole survivor has disappeared.

No sign of it anywhere. But I think I know what happened to it.

Don't underestimate my power!

Don’t underestimate my power!

So Frank has been a week solid without it. He asks for it from time to time but he has stropped looking for it. I tell him I’m still looking for it, and that’s true. I need to find any strays before he does so I can chuck them too.

Surprisingly he sleeps just fine without it.

Frank has given up all hope at this point and called off the search efforts. He now firmly believes what I believe, Anne Marie threw it in the trash.

Either way, we are now a binker free zone with two binker free kids.

One by choice and one by the hand of the devil in a blue dress.

   libero eget binkerous!