Frank’s Place Best of 2014!

BEST_OF_2014_sidebarAnother year and another healthy line up of Frank’s Place posts. For you newbies, this is the final post of the year and the staff at Frank’s Place compiles the data, makes some hard choices and spits out the top ten posts based on times viewed, comments made, and Pulitzer Prize candidacy. However, this year we have an added twist.

The staff also painstakingly combed through the comments on these ten posts; the comments on the blog itself, and comments on the Frank’s Place FaceBook page.

From there, 3 commenters were selected at random by Frank and his Christmas candy induced hand tremors. Those lucky souls will have their coolness tickets punched by receiving a Frank’s Place T-Shirt, thus ensuring a stellar 2015.

Pic of said shirt is at the bottom of this post.

As the veterans of Frank’s Place are well aware I loathe those dopey awards shows that tease the fun stuff right up till commercial, only to make us all wait or in my case, change the channel back to the encore episode of Fat Camp: The Gorging.

Well we don’t go in for that stuff here. So here now the winners for 2014:

1. From the hinterlands of South Dakota, Frank’s Place faithful Joe Thornell!

2. From right here in Knoxville TN, University of Tennessee NICU nurse, our very own Jamie Brown Ward!

Well a bit of an awkward situation here. Frank pointed at two comments simultaneously. He went way heavy on the chocolate truffles. Ok, well since a new episode of Octonauts came on all but eliminating his attention span and the replay angle was inconclusive, we’re just going with 2 t-shirts for 3rd place.

3. All the way from Manitoba, located somewhere in America’s hat, newly minted grandfather and a brother in arms, Bernie Verreault!

3. As I said 3rd was a tie so, loyal friend of Frank’s Place – Mary Alice MacDiarmid!  Knoxville TN! Come on down!

OK gang, here is your task: I need a shipping address and t-shirt size. Use the blog e-mail:  They do come in onsies Bernie, so if you’re looking to get Lennon some baby clothes, we’ve got you covered.

Enough with the festivities, here’s what you came for. The top ten posts of 2014 in ascending order. Enjoy. I know I did.

11 Years with a Steel Magnolia Starting us off this year, a sappy offering that both melts the heart and questions the intellect of the THEY that decide what porous metal is assigned to what anniversary.

His first mug shot. So proud!

His first mug shot. So proud!

Kindergarten Part 2: Nosebleed and The Evaluation I do few things well, but making bad first impressions is one of my best skills. For those that sat near me in Frank’s kindergarten class, I’m sorry.

She Sees You When You’re Sleeping My yearly venture into the horror genre. My daughter left a few calling cards near our bed in the wee hours. Just to let us know that she could. Caution, read this one with the lights on.

Just Call Me Francis The journey of self discovery by my son continues. First he began taking himself to bed for naps, then he went and still is on a I don’t need that. kick which includes toys. Then he wanted to be called by his legal name Francis.

Kindergarten Part 1: There Will Be Blood/The Decision  This was viewed by 174 people and almost as many e-mailed me with an opinion.

Putting those carpet painting skills to good use.

Putting those carpet painting skills to good use.

Hurricane AM Hits Preschool The kid makes her first appearance in public life, following in her big brother’s footsteps to his old haunt – preschool.

World Prematurity Day No wrist bands, no lapel pins, just some recollections and a beg for donations to the University of Tennessee Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Chased From NY: Jimmy Fallon Saves Us So Mr Bigshot has a baby on Tuesday which means I get no respite from mine on a Friday. Plus protesters!

Finally A Parent or A River Runs Through It Almost 200 of you read and reveled in the calamity that befell me when I left my then 2yr old alone for mere minutes. It’s cool though, I always wanted a waterfall in my garage.

First Rule of Car Lobby Pick Up Lane Man this one struck a nerve. With over 200 hits it was the top post of 2014. Who knew waiting endlessly in line to pick up your kid at school would be such a hot topic?

The hot Christmas item this year

The hot Christmas item this year

So that’s it for 2014. These are the ten top posts for the year, as decided by you, the readers, the people who support Frank’s Place.

Without you my ego would almost be non-existent. Well, that’s probably not true.

See you in 2015!



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You’ll smash your brains out kid!

One of the unintended benefits of kids is their near perfect comedic timing. It’s near perfect because they aren’t trying to be funny. At least my two aren’t trying, they’re usually serious when explaining things or excusing their way out of trouble. But make no mistake, Frank is the reincarnation of Jackie Mason. Google him.

So getting Frank to make a Christmas list for Santa provides some serious comedy for a lot of reasons. First of all, the kid is on some minimalist bender for the past year or so. I kid you not, he has been wearing out the phrase, I don’t need that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have a kid who doesn’t want everything he sees but when you’re at a birthday party and a mom hands him a gift bag and he hands it back saying he doesn’t need it, not so great. Ask his 2yr old sister what she wants for Christmas and she doesn’t hesitate, TOYS! That’s my girl.

The second issue with the Christmas list is Frank can now write and he wants to write the list on his own without anyone present. A kid learning how to write making a list of things he doesn’t want or need, this ought to be good. Of course it’s 5 minutes in and he’s asking for help. He doesn’t need help spelling, no, he needs ideas to put on the list. So I start prompting him.

Out of nowhere he churns out a sleigh full of ideas which read like the equipment list from the Winter Olympics. Snowboard, ice skates, hockey sticks… he went on and on. He stopped short of asking for a luge. (pssst.. it’s a fancy sled used for racing) As he finishes his list, he pauses, looks up at me exasperated, This list is no good daddy.

Why Frank? 

Cause I can only think of things that will smash my brains out.

I had no response. I was too busy trying not to laugh. Of course, he’s not wrong. All of those things have the potential to smash the user’s brain out. But he got it sorted, dumped the hockey sticks because, well, he has a stick I bought him months ago. When he remembered that he decided he didn’t need two. After a few more ideas he asked me to go away. He came back with this:

Checking it twice...

Checking it twice…

He went old school with the greeting. I dig it. Star Wars stands all by itself, no explanation needed, but army game? No clue. The last item on the list caused a stir.

His mother was afraid he was asking for a switch blade, a weapon indigenous to my home state of souther New Jersey. Ah southern white girls, ain’t nothing like em. But of course he was asking for the supporting actor Blade Ranger from the movie Planes: Fire and Rescue.

I have to admit I had no idea other than knowing he was not asking for a knife. You know, not a bad letter from a kindergartner. Even used his full name. Love that kid.

The flu currently has him down and out, so our 2nd annual Christmas Eve-a-pallooza will be limited this year. But I got a list out of my minimalist first born.

It’s a Christmas miracle!


Merry Christmas from Frank’s Place!




The Night Sentinel

In those first 12 or so weeks after you bring your baby home you accept sleep deprivation. It’s part of the job. Even after they start sleeping through the night, you realize there will still be some sleepless nights with sickness, nightmares, adjustment from crib to bed, etc. But man, when they get passed all that, going all night on a regular basis, your tolerance and patience for getting up in the wee hours goes to zero, and your anger and disgust hit the top peg. At least mine did, does, has, is currently.

So we’re into the stuffed animal phase with AM. She must have, oh I don’t know, six, seven, 45 animals and blankets in her bed at any one time. And that’s great. It makes her happy, it helps her go to sleep, and that makes me happy. Of course having that many objects in the bed only increases the odds that one or more will fall out. Now you would think that wouldn’t be much of a deal, but in the early morning hours, if she wakes up, she immediately does an inventory. If any animal or blanket fails to respond with the appropriate “Here!” the wailing starts. As I stumble into the room and ask the dumb but required question, “Why are you crying?” I am told, through hysterical sobbing, so and so has fallen out of the bed.

After cursing Perry the Platypus, or Lamb, or Turtle, I re-install them and a national crisis is averted. You’re welcome America.

This has become such a ritual, I no longer need lights, or words even. I just stumble in at the appointed time, usually 3:30, reach to the ground to find the little prick that tried to jump for it, stuff him back under the blanket and go back to bed. So I was a little surprised the other night when 3:30 came and went with the still and quiet of a golf course just before the first tee shot of the day. Well all righty, I can sleep on through to 6:45 when I have to wake Frank for school.

The surprise didn’t end there. As I turned on Frank’s closet light to begin the wake up sequence I noticed what appeared to be two heads on his pillow. My first thought was if that’s a horse head I’m outta here. Nope. No horse head. It was Anne Marie, sound asleep and cutting as much lumber as Frank was. At some point during the night she left her room and crawled into bed with her brother and went to sleep. She must have been there a while because all I got out of Frank was some ancient Sumatran dialect. He probably slept on and off since 3 or 4am. Anne Marie has slept with us before. It ain’t peacful. She uses the Magellan principal, exploring every inch of the bed, using her feet to clear the way.

When Frank did finally come to, he begged me to keep her out of his room. Poor kid. He digs his sleep. But you know what, he asks for so little, takes himself to shower and to bed, regulates his own sweet tooth which is to say he switched to milk for lunch and water with his snack because those aren’t Woe Foods. And apparently Santa is getting carrot sticks and grapes on Christmas eve. Great, that’ll be more fruits and veggies than I’ve ever had in my entire life. Undoubtedly some young, cute nutritionist came to his class to talk about eating healthy. Anyway, if the kid wants to sleep through the night in peace the least I can do is make it happen.

Cute Kroger shopper by day...

Cute Kroger shopper by day…

But Anne Marie is like an evil genius. The first night she crawled into Frank’s bed she opened and closed both her’s and Frank’s doors without waking me up. I sleep light so that was no small trick. She managed to do it two more times without me catching her. The third time it was Frank waking me up at 4 in the morn asking me to get Anne Marie out of his room. His supplication was dripping with equal parts frustration and derision. He just stopped short of saying, C’mon bro, you had one job! I felt the sting of his nonverbal attitude. Message received first born child. Vigilance set to stun.

Nabbed her the next two times. The first time I jacked her up she was halfway to his room, three of her favorite animals in hand. I’m not sure why but I feel compelled to ask her questions in the middle of the morning when I catch her out of bed. This time it was, Where you going! 

I don’t know. Where’s Frank?

He’s sleeping like everyone else. Get back to bed!


And that’s it. It’s not like a massive debate. Once she’s caught she usually gives up. But just for that night. She begins to scheme, refine, replan.

The next night she was riding clean. She left all the animals back at home base. She must have felt they gave away her position. In reality they did. Holding her animals makes it harder for her to close the doors quietly. She has to do it with one hand and that can get noisy. With both hands free she can stay flat footed and move the door more smoothly. But she messed up earlier in the day. She left her little Playskool phone in the hall. She kicked it on her way to Frank’s room.

Like the spotlights at a prison during a break, the alert went out and I was on her before she got past the hall bathroom. She initially took three quick steps down the hall as if she thought about trying to outrun me. She smartly abandoned that plan and gave herself up. Another notch in my belt, to go along with another night of interrupted sleep.

So yeah, I’m a super hero now. My watch is from 3 to 5 in the am. My charge; keeping bedrooms safe from co-sleeping. My arch nemesis is my 2yr old daughter. My super power: old man sleep patterns.

I am…

The Night Sentinel!

Niether lack of sleep, nor dark of night...

Niether lack of sleep, nor dark of night…