From the mouth of babes: talking to my kids.

“Daddy you’re a filthy whore! Hahahaha!”

Well that escalated quickly.

While putting my kids in the bath, Frank asked me why they had to even take a bath. I responded with, “Cause you’re a couple of filthy beasts, that’s why!” It took him about 1 second to respond with that little gem above.

You have no idea how much I would love to blame that on one of his friends. I know his three running buddies from the hood don’t say things like that, so they’re out. I’m pretty sure I could pin it on a kid at school. He does the after school deal where he stays for an extra hour on the playground. The whole school is mixed together like yard time at a prison. Has to be a miscreant in that group. Two problems with that unfortunately. For one, he’s been out of school since early May. That’s a little removed to be believable.

The other problem and the ultimate truth, that’s a phrase I have been known to utter on occasion. The occasion is golf and the I’m usually yelling it at my golf ball as it does all manner of things, none of which are what I want it to do. But I have never said that at home and I am pretty good a policing myself when Frank plays golf with me. Apparently not in this case.

I just speak the truth daddy.

I just speak the truth daddy.

Not to be outdone, our two year old has begun to exercise her vocabulary as well.

Whilst changing her diaper, Frank ran in excitedly jumping and yelling something about loving cereal for breakfast. Then he ran out. A hit and run of morning crazy if you will. It was just Life cereal but alright. I looked at my daughter and asked, “What do you think of than Anne Marie?” I absolutely was not expecting a response.

She looks at the door where the crazy little kid just ran out and said, “Frank a chooch.” She put her head back down and looked at me as if to say, “You may commence with my diaper change.” Which of I course I did but not before asking her to repeat what she said. I got a much longer reply. “Frank is, he is crazy. He is a chooch.” Well ok then.

No one to blame this on. Especially in the South. Cooch is indigenous to the northeast, period. It’s made up, as all words are of course, but it has no origin, no Latin, no old world other meaning to track back to. The best guess we have so far is my friend Chris who claims one of his friends from Rhode Island made the word up. Absent of any other evidence, that’s the origin of Chooch. Now the word does appear in the urban dictionary, added in 2006. Entry below.

It's on the internet so it must be true, right?

It’s on the internet so it must be true, right?

The problem with this entry is their translation of the word ciuccio. It does not mean jackass. Ciuccio is the Italian word for pacifier, as in peacemaker not the thing a baby uses. The only way I am aware of to say jackass in Italian is the word Asino. That is a word rarely used here because it has no flow. It doesn’t really translate into a viable english slang.

So Chris, your etymology of the word Chooch holds up for now.

chooch: noun. Origin: Early Rhode Island(Chris’ friend): slang meaning to be a dope; full or in part. i.e half a dope. “I think I’m gonna haf ta slap that chooch.”

Now the only question is, will my kids make more principal’s office appearances than I did because of their mouths. They’re already ahead of the game becasue there’s two of them. I was working solo during my stay at St. Vincent De Paul penitentiary Elementary. Still even working together they have their work cut out for them if they’re gonna take down my single season appearance record.

I wish them luck.

 

 

“I want to be called Francis”

So we’ve entered a phase. It might be our first one come to think of it. I’m not sure what to name it, or if it even has a name. I do know I need to be recording Frank every second of the day right now. Some of the stuff coming out of his mouth is just unbelievable.

He’s been making a lot of declarations about what he will and will no longer be doing. Hard to explain so here’s the first example.

When we go to The Kroger, the bakery usually has a bin of free cookies out. Our routine is simple, we go for the cookies when we start our final run on the back wall in the dairy section. That takes us past the eggs, butter, cheese and sends us right into the meats and then the bakery. The on to the hippie section (read: organic) for the milk and veggies and then to the check out. By then he’s done the cookie and he gets to work putting the cart stuff on the belt.

So the other day we roll up on paper towel aisle, our last dry goods stop before we bank hard right to dairy, and I realize he has not mentioned the cookies once. Normally he’ll make my ears bleed about how close we’re getting to the cookies. A little running commentary about our cookie proximity that would make a normal man throw himself into on coming traffic. But I’ve become more powerful since Anne Marie has made the scene, so I can repel his annoying. But the silence, the silence about the cookie is now front and center in my head. If Obi Wan Kenobi were here he’d call me a weak minded fool. What’s his angle? Is he gonna work me for ice cream instead? This boy plottin on me somehow someway.

We get to the bakery and the moment of truth has arrived. I reach for his allotment and out it comes. “I will not be having Kroger cookies anymore.” Uh wut? ” I don’t need them daddy.” No one needs cookies Frank. Cookies are never about need. Cookies, much like the pumpkin spice doughnuts that come out at Thanksgiving, are all about want. “Well I don’t want it daddy.” Well OK then Frank, but I’m having one.

The problem was I had already picked up two. Then I remembered the hobos grab three or four and sometime drop one back in. So I dropped one back in the bin. Problem solved. Tip for you Kroger shoppers, never take the weekend cookies. Only the weekday cookies are generally untouched. You’re welcome.

About a day later the big enchilada dropped.

I was summoned to the bedroom where my oldest child was sitting in a very serious manner with a very serious look on his face. His mother had a rye smile. I was entering a mine field of which there would be no safe passage. Well no point in tap dancing. Let’s get to it. “What’s up Frank?”

“I don’t want to be called Frank anymore.”

Oh shit. My first thought was he’s on some kind of cosmic self awareness journey. He’s been acting strange. He’s on some minimalist bent. No cookies at The Kroger, wouldn’t pick any toys from the toy store after a bit of a harrowing doc appointment because he said “I don’t need it.” and now a name change. My hope was we wouldn’t have to call him moon unit or just some sort of crazy symbol. Then I thought maybe he wants to go by Oso or Lambie or Rocket or Deputy Peck or some other character from Disney Jr.

“I want to be called Francis.”

Oh.

Turned five - went bonkers. Note the minimalist cake.

Turned five – went bonkers. Note the minimalist cake.

Well that is his legal name. The first born male in an Italian family is named for his grandfather. My grandfather’s name was James so my oldest brother’s name is James. My dad’s name is Francis and goes by Frank, so my son’s name is Francis and we call him Frank. This wold not be a big shift to call him Francis. Or so I thought.

I tried it out a few times. It felt weird. Now I’m thinking he’ll get over it before bedtime so just go with it. “OK Frank, it’s your name and you…” “It’s Francis.” “What?” “It’s Francis daddy, you called me Frank.” “Sorry bud OK, Francis. Like I said, it’s your name and you have the right to be called by your name. Francis it is!”

He seemed happy.

Mrs Frank’s Place on the other hand…

There is a reason we call him Frank. Tracy doesn’t like the name Francis very much. It happens to be my name and I go by that. I’m not Frank or Franny or Michael, my middle name, I have always gone by Francis. So while Tracy was assaulting my entire heritage, Frank or Francis, was happy with his name change. No idea what’s spawning all this but we were both hoping he’d get over it after a few minutes.

Took two days. He corrected us every time we called him Frank for the next two days. Then it went the way of the Dodo.

He’s back to Frank. For now.

If you see him in the next few months and he’s wearing Jedi robes and goes by the name Knarf O’dranil, remember you’ve been warned.

 

 

 

 

 

Give a little – it means a lot.

If you been following Frank’s Place for any length of time you know I’m not much of an activist. Not much meaning I’m absolutely not an activist of any type. Way too lazy, way too unconcerned for all that nonsense. So when a dude pinged me on Twitter to join this dads blogger group on FaceBook I was skeptical to say the least. I just don’t do issues. But Oren seemed genuine enough.

For whatever reason I checked it out. Oren, the guy who invited me, was running this FB page with the tag “A blogging dads group, so crazy it just might work.” I had no idea what that meant but ah what the hell, click. I’m in. It was easy. Took me a while to go from a lurker to actually joining in on any of the conversations, but when I did it was worth it. Joining the group has been worth it. Yeah, they get bat-shit crazy over stuff that seems trivial sometimes but when real crazy hits the fan that impacts someone in the group, those guys rally round. And man do they know how to rally round someone in need, be it financial, emotional, whatever. These dudes can move the needle when they want to.

The group had maybe 300 dads when I joined and is right at 800 now. Guys in the same city meet up for dads night out, go to conferences, etc… You know all the stuff I’m way too lazy for. I’m not even sure I qualify as a by-stander cause, you know, that requires standing. I’m retired, sue me. Anyway, Oren Miller has been herding these 800 or so cats, me included, since he started the page. He’s a good leader. He’s really is the common denominator that holds the whole thing together.

The man, the myth, the cat herder, Oren MIller.

The man, the myth, the cat herder, Oren MIller.

A month ago maybe, Oren went to the doc for some back pain and found out he was in stage 4 lung cancer. It has his liver, kidney and brain. Probably eight months to a year left with his wife and two young children, ages 6 & 4. I have never met the man face to face and I still get choked just thinking about it. I’m sure Oren is battling some serious demons right now, but in between all that he penned this blog post about the whole thing. Read this and be edified by a guy who stares his mortality in the eye with a grace not seen in most: Oren Miller – Cancer

 

While I was getting worked up the boys in the group got to work. They started a page on the Give Forward web site to raise money for Oren and his family. You can see it here: Give Back To Oren. A modest goal of $5000 American was in the rear view mirror a few hours after the site went active. With 800 members that number was never gonna be high enough. The goal was reset, and reset, and reset. It now stands at 30,000 beans. With $26,025 in the hopper as of this writing the goal is in sight.

What has struck me about this fundraiser is its bluntness. I dig bluntness. Look, there’s no time to dance around. Being modest about getting help seems pretty ridiculous when you realize you have no need for next year’s calendar. So some guys in the group took the bull by the horns and have really got things rolling in an effort to get Oren and his family some help, relief, assistance. Oren, to his credit, has accepted this outpouring with the grace he has displayed since I first “met” the guy.

Well, I may not even pass for a good by-stander, but I can’t sit this one out.

If you’ve been following this blog at all you know where this is going. Time for the big ask, the squeeze, the shake down. Go to the Give Back To Oren site and drop some coin in the tip jar. I won’t snow you. It probably won’t make you feel any better about yourself. Hell it might even make you feel angry cause another jerk-weed is asking for your money.

No matter, angry money spends just as well.

 

Podcast Season 2 Episode 50: Down goes Cantor! Down goes Cantor!

I don’t usually mix the streams of my political blog with Frank’s Place, but tonight is different. My former Air Force broadcast partner, Tony Hupp, and I have just finished our 50th podcast. It’s reposted here for your listening pleasure. It’s mostly political satire so click at your own risk. Hope you like it.

Unfiltered and Unfettered

Whoa nelly, take me home! I know enough to know I have seen too much!

Republican Majority Leader in the House of Representatives Eric Cantor loses his primary election against Republican Tea Party challenger David Brat. Yeah you read that right. The most powerful Republican in the House will no longer be in the House, no longer be the Majority Leader after getting pounded by an economics professor from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland Virginia.

The effects of this are yet to be seen. Is this the start of a run on establishment Republicans by the Tea Party? Has the Tea Party come back from the dead? Were they ever dead to begin with? Is this just another battle in the civil war raging inside the Republican Party? Is this good or bad for Republicans, Congress, the country? We’ll talk, you listen, then make up your own mind.

Click the link now, thank…

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Let’s do crafts!

Of the things you never expect to hear from your kid, “Daddy these are my mountains!” as he points to his chest was at the top of my list. However we may have a new contender in the, holy crap did he just say what I think he said, top five list.

“Daddy can we do crafts?”

Really Frank.

“Yeah, let’s do crafts!”

Oh boy.

The only reason this may take the top spot from the These are my mountains! comment is it will require action on my part. I wasn’t invested in the other thing. But crafts, I’m gonna be required to be on site the entire time. I mean, that sounds like it involves glue and scissors and permanent marker and god help me, glitter. Gotta believe there is play-dough in there somewhere too.

So it will be the gift that keeps on giving. On hand the entire time so his sister doesn’t try to remove his spleen with the scissors, and she can do it. Read here: Running with scissors. Plus I’ll have to clean up the aftermath, the play-dough encrusted, paste globulated, glitter enhanced aftermath.

What do you mean spell check has no suggestions for the spelling of globulated? I just spelled it. Clearly the spell check people are devoid of children.

So yeah, crafts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Not Betty Crocker, but not bad.

Not Chef Mimi, but not bad.

He’s not terrible at that kind of stuff. Here’s a look at his first pie crust attempt. It was…. a little… lacking in moisture if you know what I’m saying. Dry, dry as the Sahara. I could have broken off a piece and stabbed the prison guard with it.

Willingness and enjoying himself in the kitchen are all that maters at this point. Results will come later I guess. So he has some skills in the craftiness area, but for some reason sitting at a table with glue, glitter, scissors and paper seems like it will be much more messy than making stuff in the kitchen.

And again, no payoff for mucho investment on my part. Just the pride coming from a job well done of cleaning up another mess.

But hey, I’m a parent of the people. The boy wants to do crafts who am I to stand in the way, crafts it is. Of course not to be outdone I get “crafts too!” from his little sister. This will be nothing more than an adventure in how much play-dough makes it back into the jar and how much comes out in her diaper sometime tomorrow.

Why don’t these kids ever want to play janitor?

 

 

Sundays with Ricky.

Good Morning Captain!

That greeting was waiting for me every Sunday at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Knoxville. It was delivered with an elevating pitch, usually capped off with a salute and a hearty laugh. The homeless guys hanging around Ricky would laugh too, nervously of course. They were’t really sure about their buddy busting my chops. But after a while they accepted me in to the Sunday church parking lot crowd. I felt pretty cool about that.

Ricardo Bolden, or Ricky, worked at the church we both attended, Redeemer Presbyterian right in the heart of the University of Tennessee campus in downtown Knoxville. We had no idea who the other was. The difference was Ricky didn’t care who you were. I’m a nobody of course, but that didn’t matter to Ricky. He marched right up to me, hand out for a big shake, introduced himself and proceeded to interrogate me. Had I been in a foreign country I would have absolutely believed I was being “cased” or probed by enemy intel, his questions were that subtle but invasive.

He found out I was in the military that day. The next week and every Sunday after he would call out from the parking lot, “Morning Captain” or whatever rank he assigned to me that particular Sunday. I explained to him over and over that I was enlisted and a Master Sargent not an officer, but he didn’t care. It was more funny to call me everything but.

He reserved the rank of General for those days I was late to church and a lot of the fellas were hanging on the stoop of the church with him. They all got a good laugh out of that. Some of them would even stand up, mockingly of course. I dug that. It truly meant I was part of the gang. Getting your chops busted is the initiation into any group worth being a part of. But only Ricky would salute. That was real. I could tell that was out of respect. Not sure I ever lived up to the respect he always showed me.

As the year went on we would lament the football season. Ricky was a diehard Vols fan. When I was looking to avoid the traditional long form sermon (read excruciatingly long) I would sneak outside or to the bottom floor and find Ricky and we would fix the Vols football problems and wonder about basketball season. No matter how long that conversation went he always, and I mean always ended it with some form of the gospel. Sometimes it was a straight verse and sometimes it was his version of applying the bible to life in general. Man I never felt so overmatched.

Rest in Peace Captain

Rest in Peace Captain

I didn’t know Ricky outside of Sunday morning. He lived in the city and I live in the “burbs” of West Knoxville. Different lives to be sure. But because he was in the parking lot most Sunday mornings he was first to see our son on Frank’s first visit to church after his birth. Same thing with our daughter Anne Marie. To be honest I’m not even sure Ricky knew my name. I was always Captain or Major or Lieutenant. Once in a while he’d chuck out Sarge, and the afore mentioned General. He called me Colonel once. It was the first Sunday I saw him in March of 2010. I’ll never forget it.

I retired from the Air Force in September of 2009. My paperwork took forever to come through. Shocking I know. When it finally came in February of 2010, it was a huge box. Had no idea what it all was. Turns out to be a plaque signed by the President and a separate one signed by the Secretary of the Air Force, along with official forms regarding retirement pay and such.

Staring at the plaque from the President I realized it said, “Thank you for your dedication and service to this great country. A grateful nation thanks you COLONEL Linardo. Barak H. Obama President of the United States” All of the paper work and other plaques had the same rank, Colonel. Took over a year to unravel.

The first Sunday in March that I managed to get to church, there was Ricky greeting people in the lot. I thought, wait till he hears about all this paperwork mess. I barely get both feet out of the van and I hear “Good Morning Colonel!” The requisite homeless guys hanging with Ricky stood in acknowledgement of my lofty position before breaking into laughter.

I laughed at first cause it’s continuing confirmation that I’m still in the gang. But then it occurred to me, how the hell did he know the military messed up my paperwork and retired me at Colonel instead of Master Sargent? At that point no one at church knew that had happened. It was the only Sunday he ever promoted me to Colonel, no time before or after. When I tried to explain it to him he looked at me like I was insane. He wanted to talk about the upcoming Orange/White spring football game; the college version of pre-season scrimmage.

I always looked forward to getting my greeting and handshake on Sunday. The greeting from Ricky was always more fun than actually going to church. Sad but true. Some personal circumstances have kept us from church for a while now. I’ve not seen Ricky in almost a year. I still get church e-mails though. That’s how I found out I’ll never hear Good Morning Captain! again.

Ricardo Bolden of Knoxville Tennessee is roaming the halls of heaven, greeting his Jesus.

I wonder what rank Ricky gave Him?