Kindergarten: Don’t underestimate their power.

I am now certain I’m learning much more at kindergarten than Frank is. Obviously it was going to be a new experience for both of us, I just didn’t think my learning curve would be as steep if not steeper than his. Feel free to peruse some of the back issues to see my transition to kindergarten. There’s some stuff in there about Frank to, I think, but mostly stuff about the lessons I’ve learned so far. Today’s kindergarten life lesson comes courtesy of the Turkey Trot and that lesson is endurance.

We were not directly aware of the upcoming Thanksgiving program at Frank’s school, but there were indications. You had to be tuned in to catch them. The first red flag was Frank wanting to take a shower. He is a bath kid, but one day he wanted to take a shower. I’m all in on that because my involvement for showers drops to almost nothing. Baths, sure I’m on site the entire time. But showers, ha, I’ll adjust the water but after that don’t call me until you’re ready for bed.

Whilst folding the laundry in the bedroom I could hear singing coming from somewhere. Turns out Frank was singing in the shower. Hard to make out the song, something about a turkey. The next day we heard him singing in the bathroom. Loudly. Same deal, a turkey something or other. Then I heard it, “Let’s do the Turkey Trot, come do the Turkey Trot…” Catchy tune. Tracy finally got him to sing the whole thing. Apparently he needs to be in close proximity to porcelain and water in order to sing above a whisper. Still, he got through the whole song and we got the run down on the Turkey Trot Thanksgiving program. Undoubtedly there were notices sent home but only the Lord knows where those bits of paper ended up.

I was instantly gripped with pride and fear. His preschool was such a small, seemingly protected community. Maybe as many parents as there were kids showed up for the Christmas program. Now he was in a big public school with 120 kids in kindergarten alone. He would be up on stage singing in front of all these people. I taught public speaking for ten years in the Air Force and still I was having palpitations. Or maybe it was the ten years of teaching public speaking that brought on the anxiety. Either way it was going to be a first for Frank and me.

The day of said Trot, the parking lot was jammed. The grass area that served as an impromptu parking area was covered up. I found the last spot. Frank’s Grammy came a few minutes after, ending up two blocks away. No matter, we both were in standing room only at the back of the gym. Huh, back of the room, just like church. Anyway, we actually were in a great spot to see the kids march in as the procession came in the back of the gym. Frank’s class came in last. Plenty of time to get my camera ready. Annnnd I missed him.

At first I thought he must have gotten in trouble and was banned from all Trot activities. Nope. He walked right past me and I didn’t recognize him. Now in my defense he was wearing an indian head dress that was supposed to be turkey feathers, I think, and a huge turkey wing like jacket made from brown paper bags and cardboard. Plus he was dancing and singing. How the heck was I supposed to recognize him?

Since he walked in last his class was front and center on the stage. Pride was overtaking the nerves. What a weird/warm feeling to see him up there, big smile, doing the moves and singing the songs. Unlike pre-school the kids were not fidgeting in the first five minutes. My first thought was, yeah he’s getting older. Still not sure how I feel about that.

What I was sure about, these kids were well prepared. Grammy stepped to me and said what I was thinking. They were on their 8th or 9th song with no end in sight. Still most of the kids, Frank included, were doing the moves and singing the songs. Then we got a kid assisted interpretive reading of the first thanksgiving. One of the things I absolutely love about living in the South, the reading, done by a father who volunteers a lot and is a local artist, was about as un-politically correct as it could be. Sad thing is, it was a breath of fresh air. This is just our history as a 5 year old would know it and tell it. As it should be.

Then the songs started again. Don’t get me wrong, they were great, the kids were great. I was just marveling about how many songs there were and how well the kids did with the words and movements. I think Grammy and I counted about 16 songs in total. Gang, that’s a lot for anyone but for a kindergarten class I thought it was amazing. They were all so well behaved. Once the program finished they marched out the way they marched in. Singing the Turkey Trot song.

That took some serious stamina. For them, not me. Oh hey, I was good for 20 more songs at least, you kidding. That Turkey Trot song was may favorite. I still get it stuck in my head some 4 weeks after the program. And you are in for a treat. Making his singing debut at Frank’s Place, I give you Frank singing the Thanksgiving Program theme song and international blockbuster, The Turkey Trot!

No reason it shouldn’t be stuck in your head too. Your welcome.


Just like another crooner named Frank!

Just like another crooner named Frank!

Only cost me one fudge graham cracker, at 9am. He gave me the repeat for free. He also started doing the movements during the second stanza. But he did it all on the first shot.

First Take Frank, that’s what they call him.

He’s also available for Bar Mitzvahs after the 25th.



11 years with a Steel Magnolia.

December 6th 2003, Knoxville TN.

December 6th 2003, Knoxville TN.

So the “They” that decide these things say 11 years of marriage is the steel anniversary. Ok. I’ll play. A gift made from steel, gotta be a ton of options for that. Putting aside the fact of course that my wife is the hardest person to buy gifts for, getting the right steel gift should be a snap.

Or should it?

When racking my brain to come up with such a gift a title for this post came to me – Steel Magnolia. Perfect actually. It describes Tracy to a T. See what I did there?

A Steel Magnolia is an apt description. The Magnolia is a strong flower, beautiful in sight but also in design. The flower evolved primarily to foster the bee population. To that end the core of the flower is unlike any other. Not the normal petal and sepal set up on most flowers, the Magnolia’s bud is protected by a bract. So says wikipedia.

Beautiful, tough, created for a purpose, and not the normal set up…  yeah that’s describing my wife to a T. So the Steel Magnolia thing just flowed easily from that. But I still needed a steel gift. Ponder that as you peep pics of Tracy through our 11 year journey.


Christmas in Jersey 2004. Only 1/3 of the family in this shot.

Christmas in Jersey 2004. Only 1/3 of the family in this shot.

Back to Maui, our honeymoon spot, for anny #3

Back to Maui, our honeymoon spot, in 2005 for anny #3












Oh look at that Maui again in 2006. It was a good hotel.

Oh look at that Maui again in 2006. It was a good hotel.

As I glance into the kitchen while I type this I see my wife of 11 years dangling a piece of cinnamon bread over Frank’s head in an effort to get him to dance with her to her hip hop music. 11 years takes a toll people. Drastic times calls for drastic measures.





Leaving the Comcast Center - University of Maryland for my graduation. Hottest graduates wife there.

Leaving the Comcast Center – University of Maryland 2007, for my graduation. Hottest graduate’s wife there.

White girl dancin with The Warden. Christmas in Jersey 2008. Frank is on board - 5 months away.

White girl dancin with The Warden. Christmas in Jersey 2008. Frank is on board – 5 months away.







Frank's Baptism  - 2009

Frank’s Baptism – 2009

The cool kids Easter - 2010

The cool kids  – Easter 2010

Look at that awesome mop! Easter 2011

Look at that awesome mop! Easter 2011


















First contact. UT Med Center NICU 2012

First contact. UT Med Center NICU 2012

Easter 2013

Easter 2013

Birthday June 2014

Birthday June 2014




























So that’s it. 11 years in 11 pictures. But what gift to get that aligns with the steel anniversary?

Let me rephrase. What to get the girl who is impossible to shop for that aligns with the steel anniversary? Of course the New York trip was really the gift. And it was a good one. Plenty of steel in that city. But as you may or may not know, Jimmy Fallon called the whole thing off, leaving me holding the gift bag as it were. All because he had a kid on Wednesday. Wimp.

Undaunted, I pressed on. I had to get on the edge of gift buying. Something so out there scrutinizing it would be a waste of time. Something impervious to the scrutiny of an impossible gift getter. And it had to be steel.

By the way, my new life goal is to find the people who decide these ridiculous things and knock their chicklets down their throats.

Anyway it finally hit me. Free from scrutiny, the appropriate metal, and a damn fine idea if I do say so myself. And I do say so.

An integral part in the grieving of our lost soul Linda Claire was making sure she remained part of our family story. A very grainy picture of her at the moment of birth is really all we have, remembrance wise.

So I thought what better way to make her a permanent part of our family story than submitting her name to the national star registry – naming a star after her. A tad on the corny side, but still cool enough. So somewhere in the heavens is a binary star, two stars from the same celestial body, in other words twin stars, composed of all sorts of metal including STEEL!  The stars now have the names Linda Claire and Anne Marie and the inscription, Sisters…cum in aeterno in aeternum.  (together forever in eternity).

Yeah corny. I know. Happy Anniversary dear!

We’ll always have New York.





Chased from NY: How Jimmy Fallon saved our lives. (not really)

Mr. Linardo, this is the Tonight Show. As I’m sure you’ve heard Jimmy Fallon and his wife welcomed a beautiful new baby into their lives Wednesday. Unfortunately The Tonight Show will not be taping on Friday. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Please feel free to call if you have any questions. 

Thus started the unraveling of our anniversary weekend.

Well I’ll tell you one thing, they know how to do customer relations at the Tonight Show. Be advised, we weren’t guests on the show, just two faces in the crowd. We managed to get two tickets to the Friday show and that call came Thursday. I was sad but stunned at their level of effort and commitment to their fans. Seeing Fallon was arguably the main reason we were heading to NY and yet they almost made us feel good about not getting to see the show.


The problem was we were flying in Thursday, the same day they called to say the show was cancelled. So the main thing we wanted to do was now out. Ok. We get it Jimmy. We have kids. Anyone who does knows there is not much sleeping in the first few weeks or months even. Having to perform for a national audience might be a bit much. So yeah we get it. But we ain’t happy about it.

Still, Christmas time in NY is pretty cool. We could see the huge tree at 30 Rock, go ice skating, shopping, see the city…

Then the rains came.

A forecast of tame weather turned to rain Friday and all day Saturday. Well balls. There goes walking around the city. The dark cloud of gloom was taking up residence over my wife. A point she emphasized with an interpretive “dark cloud” dance complete with narration. Anyone in the street that day would have seen it as she threw down in my office, right in front of the giant window that affords my oversight of The Sac.

The feel was maybe we should punt and try some other time. No point in going to NY and not liking it. We could enjoy the dark cloud right here in Knoxville, for free I might add. A mere 2hrs from our flight time, we punted.

The airline put our tickets on hold, the hotel cut us some slack, just canceling our reservation without charge. So no harm, no foul. Still, there was this feeling. Should we have just gone anyway?

Then the protesters came, and came, and came.

By 9pm, the time we would be walking out of La Guardia Airport to ride to mid-town Manhattan, protesters had blocked the BQE, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, the Lincoln Tunnel and a group was moving toward Rockefeller Plaza. We probably would have made it to the hotel, about 2 blocks from Rock Plaza, but not much else, unless we wanted to be part of the protest. Which we did not.

By midnight police had put up a blockade on the Brooklyn Bridge and started arresting people downtown and those laying on the road blocking the Lincoln Tunnel. Any chance this all clears up by Saturday – not hardly.

Thanks to Jimmy and his new baby we escaped all that nonsense. So 11th anniversary in Knoxville. All in all I gotta believe this is better than sitting in the hotel watching peaceful protests clog the streets and block traffic.

Isn’t it?

Thanks Jimmy