Diary of a SAHD: Beach Travel Time – a new standard of measure

The hoarder on the long  voyage to a land far far away.

The hoarder on the long voyage to a land far far away.

I may have mentioned a time or two our beach trip back in August. Read here if you dare: Toll Booths, Traffic Jams and Torrential Rain. A good time was had by all but it was a long drive to and from. I mean looooooong. Turns out it was so long some of us have not fully returned yet and because of that we have to recalibrate how we describe time as it relates to travel in the car.

Anyone who has ever taken a beach trip knows you’ll be finding beach sand for weeks in all kinds of places. Usually the biggest spot is the car, but it turns up in shoes, clothes, luggage, etc… It’s like bringing a little bit of the beach back with you. Actually it is bringing the beach back with you, but I was talking more the spirit of the trip. So every time you dump out a canvas bag full of clothes you found in a closet somewhere and a pound or two of sand hits the deck you get to take a little trip down memory lane.

Well it’s mid December, the trip was the end of August and Frank is still finding piles of metaphorical sand. His sand comes in the form of trips in the car. As I said the ride to and from Jersey is long. I had no Idea it was so long that Frank would now apply that distance to every trip we take. When we got to Maryland on the way to the beach Frank declared “The beach is too far away and I want to go home.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him we were two hours from Jersey and more than ten hours from home.

So worried about another long car ride, now whenever we go anywhere he asks, “Is ____ as far away as the beach?” It matters not where we are going.

His school is 1.3 miles from our driveway, Kroger is 2.1, the golf course we play most is 5.something, and every time we mount up to go to anyone of these places I get, “Is school as far away as….” He mixes it up too. Once in a while he won’t ask that before we go, he’ll just point it out once we’ve arrived. “That was as far as the beach.” No Frank, Kroger is not as far as the beach.

Hobo sleeping - it's what he does best

Hobo sleeping – it’s what he does best

He just went to Dollywood with his Aunt, Uncle and three cousins. That’s about an hour from here. I’ve not heard if he introduced them to his new space time continuum. He must not have because I think they would have mentioned it. Plus he was asleep before they got to the car for the ride home and he never woke up as I undressed and then dressed him for bed. The kid gets his snooze time.

We just walked our Sac putting Christmas cards in neighbor’s mailboxes. One box was around the corner and down the road a bit. Frank says, “Daddy that’s a long way.”

“Don’t say it Frank.”

“Daddy that’s as far as the beach.”

Although not so far as to keep him from running the entire way to the mailbox and then back to the house. All of a sudden it was as far away as the beach for me and I felt like I was running in sand. May be time for a fitness blog.


Of all the memories I would have liked him to bring back from the beach, the mind numbingly long car ride was not one of them. I mean he still remembers the hole in one he dropped on me at the miniature golf course. He clearly remembers me getting hit in the face with two blasts from a water cannon when our shots on 18 missed the mark. An event he brings up often, although he leaves out the part about one of those blasts being meant for him. Speed kills but short stays dry I guess.

Unfortunately the memory permanently saved to his hard drive is the long ride to the beach.

I’m not sure the people at The Kroger realize how far away their store has become when measured on beach travel time or BTT.

I can’t wait to see how he reacts to the two hour plane ride next year.




Diary of a SAHD: “Little Red Wagon” or “Hey, you gonna eat that?”

Editors note: This is the fourth installment of a multi-part series on our summer road trip to NJ. They are not in sequential order.  Some of this will be akin to eye wateringly boring home movies.  Anyway, you’ve been warned.

The title is a little homage to the old Tennessee Tuxedo cartoons, from way back in the day.  I think a lot of old toons used that format but the Tennessee Tuxedo opening always sticks in my mind for some reason.  The titles of those episodes never really seemed to match what the show was about.  This is not the case with Frank’s Place.  No sensational headlines here, we stay true to our readers… until we find it necessary to lie.  Then we tell some whoppers.

Anyway, I’ve decided I can stay true to the title and still make this one of those lazy posts with a lot of pictures.  Let’s face it, pictures of my kids are way more interesting.

Gratuitous cute family shot to start things off.

Gratuitous cute family shot to start things off.

So there is the happy family all on the beach.  Great looking group if I do say.  We rented a house with two of my sisters and my mom.  It was about 3 blocks from the beach.  Now my sisters roll to the beach in style. We grew up not very far from several beach towns so they know how to go beaching.  My wife and kids are all from the South. Tracy is from Huston Texas, although she did go to the beaches in Galveston.  But it’s not the same.  And of course my two kids are from right here in Knoxville, born right in the city.  Frank saw his first beach two years ago, and Anne Marie saw her first beach on this trip.

We were not sure how AM would react.  Turns out she loved the beach.  Also turns out she would only go to the beach if she was pulled in a beat up red wagon we rented from a local joint in Avalon.  She was adamant too.  There was no walking, no carrying, no riding in the car for three blocks.  She had to be ferried to the beach in this nasty red wagon.  And then she would sit in it for the first 20 minutes or so upon arrival.  She would get back in it to eat lunch, to have a snack, and when she wanted to signal us it was time to head back to the house.

There.  I said put me over there!

There! I said put me over there!

Hey!  Someone grease me up, the sun is brutal.

Hey! Someone grease me up, the sun is brutal.

Beach, Juice, Wagon.  Can it get any better?

Beach, Juice, Wagon. Can it get any better?

The wagon was a great idea, don’t get me wrong. Tracy’s idea by the way. (And yes that was a blatant attempt at brown nosing) When it was time to leave the beach and she didn’t want to go, all I had to do was start pulling the friggin wagon. She’d come running like she was missing the downtown train.

It was just weird how she took to it the minute she saw it.  I thought we might have to hook a tow bar to it and drag it behind the van so we could get her back to Knoxville.

Bottom line is she enjoyed it so I guess we can’t ask for more than that.

Know what else she enjoyed?  Eating sand.

She ate so much she might be responsible for a slight shift in the Jersey shore line. I would check google maps before your next visit to America’s playground just to be safe.  Sorry Governor Christie, you may be Stronger Than The Storm, but you’re no match for the Tough Girl From Tennessee.

Since it’s her first sand eating experience I don’t know if she’s partial to Jersey Shore sand or just sand in general.  Hard to say, but she ate fists and fists of it.  Must of been like 100 grit sand paper coming out the other end.  This might be one of those times we’re glad she can’t speak yet.  A few dirty diapers into some sand eatin and she might have conjugated some f-bombs.

Best sand this side of the Tennessee River.

Best sand this side of the Tennessee River.

Needs a little salt.

Needs a little salt.

Don't judge me bro. Gobby says you used to eat your own poop.

Don’t judge me bro. Gobby says you used to eat your own poop.









However, it’s probably not surprising to some of you, especially the posse on Montford Lane, that a few times she ate so much sand I didn’t need to feed her lunch.

That last sentence was just a hook to see if Mrs Frank’s Place actually reads these.  I like to do that from time to time.

Red Wagons and fists full of sand, it was a summer to remember for shore!

See what I did there. Try the veal and tip your servers.

One last shot of a girl and her buffet.

See this? I ate it all.

See this? I ate it all.














Diary of a SAHD: Aces, Hobbits, and Toots.

Editors note: This is the second installment of a multi-part series on our summer road trip to NJ. They are not in sequential order.  Some of this will be akin to eye wateringly boring home movies.  Yeah, I just made a new adverb.  Anyway, you’ve been warned.

I may have mentioned before that Frank can be a bit of a ball buster when he’s playing golf.  It wasn’t going to be a problem on the vacation be cause I would be playing golf without Frank.  Or so I thought.

One night the gang went out for ice cream.  I stayed at the house for some quiet time.  While out they found a place called Pirate Island Golf, a mini-golf joint.  Or as Frank calls it Minataur Golf. Not sure why but this particular pronunciation tickles Grammy to no end.

Anyway, Mrs. Frank’s Place thought it would be a good idea if I took Frank down there myself, just me and him.  It was two blocks away, sounded like fun, why not.

Why not indeed.

First of all, it was 20 freaking dollars.  That’s what I pay back in Knoxville to play on a real golf course, minus all the chirping from my 4 year old.

When we get to the second hole Frank says his club is too long and can he have a shorter one.  I’m all empathizing.  I know what it’s like to play a foreign course without you own sticks.  I don’t want to run back to the front cause it would absolutely freaking kill me if people behind us then got in front of us.  And yeah I’m like this on a real golf course too.  But saints be praised, the little shack has a side window that opens to the third tee box.  So I stick my face in, literally 4.2 feet from the putters and ask for the shortest one they have.

“Yes, but you have to come around front.”


“Yes, you have to come around front.”

(well WTH) – said in my head… I think.

I get to the front.

“Sorry security cameras are only up front.”

What.  What the world is she blathering about?  Then it hits me, she has to hand me the club in view of the camera.



“You think I want to steal this rubber stick with piece of crappy rubber glued on the end of it?”

Blank stare.

Ok then.  Back to the golf.

Even with the shorter putter Frank was struggling a bit.  So I mistakenly offered a little help.  It was quickly rebuffed and rebuked with a stern “I can do it myself!”

Ok then. Back to the golf.

Next hole I drop the pencil and scorecard while Frank is on the tee.  I look down then look up.  He had already hit.  I don’t see his ball.

“Ahh Frank. Where is your ball?  Did you hit it over the side?”

Blank stare.

Cave where hole in one took place.  Forever known as the Cave of Ridicule.

Cave where hole in one took place. Forever known as the Cave of Ridicule.

“Frank!  Where is your ball!”

“It’s in the hole daddy.”  Said with the attitude of, “Well Stevie Wonder, had you been paying attention instead of playing tidily winks with the pencil you would have witnessed my hole in one.”


“It’s in the hole daddy.”  He runs to the flag, reaches his little grimy mitt in the cup and pulls out his ball.  Crap, this is gonna cost me. “Your turn daddy.  See if you can hit it in the hole.”  Not even close.  The laughter that erupted from Frank’s belly could probably be heard in France.  “You didn’t make it daddy.  Mine went in the hole, but yours is way over there.”

We get to the next tee and I’ll I hear is, “Let me show you how to do it daddy.”  And when I don’t make a hole in one, “You need to try harder daddy.”

Gonna be a long back nine.

The fun didn’t end there.  After the 18th hole we end up back at the shack with the high security system.  Instead of handing your ball back, you put it in this Plinko like thing. (look it up)  The ball bounces around on the pegs as it makes it’s way to the bottom.  If it goes in the middle slot you get a free game.  It didn’t appear like anything happened if it missed the middle slot.


Mouth always open, noise always coming out.

Mouth always open, noise always coming out.

Frank is standing in front of the thing putting his ball and mine into the game.  I’m over his left shoulder.  He was supposed to get the blast of water in the face not me.  But since he’s no taller than a munchkin, or a hobbit for you younger folk, the water went right over his head and hit me in the face.  And since he put both balls in at the same time and both missed, I got two blasts of water in rapid succession before I knew what was happening.

Had Frank not been there my response may have been slightly different.  But I was oh so glad to give the good folk of Avalon NJ a hearty chuckle.

Frank, well he was laughing so hard he tooted.

Love that kid.






Diary of a SAHD: Wrestle-mania 1 – Night of the Alligator

The undercard - before the main event.

Frank’s testing the playing surface before the main event. 

Editors note: This is the first installment of a multi-part series on our summer road trip to NJ.  They are not in sequential order.  Some of this will be akin to eye wateringly boring home movies.  Yeah, I just made a new adverb.  Anyway, you’ve been warned.

Wrestle-mania 1 – Night of the Alligator

The bottom line to the whole trip to Jersey is this – we live a bajillion miles away.  The drive could only be made better if the Starship Frankerprise (our mini-van) could achieve light-speed.

Because of that it’s always a crap shoot as to wether or not we’ll make the 13 hour trip in a day or have to stay over for the night.  No big deal really.  Unless of course you’re toting a 16 month old on her first Frankerprise voyage longer that 20 minutes.  Since this was the case, we ended stopping oh so close to our target destination.  Around Bel Air Maryland my little bundle of joy, aka Anne Marie, hit the wall.  And we’re stopping.

The issue of course being noise.  I don’t know about you but I hate to be the people in the hotel keeping everyone else awake because we can’t get our kid to stop crying.  Ironically the best advice I ever received from a friend regarding parenting in general is “Sometimes you have to let them cry.”  Becky was on the money with that.  So when we put AM to bed and she starts to cry we may let her go for 10 minutes or so to see if she’ll settle down by herself.  She does too.

It really is the greatest advice ever…unless you’re staying in a hotel for the night.  Can’t really let her cry very much at the old Hampton Inn or Marriott.  For whatever reason I’m afraid they’ll revoke our rewards points or something.

So not letting her cry means holding her, engaging her etc…

This particular night, again a measly 2 hours from destination, we had adjoining suites at the Hampton Inn near Bel Air MD.  Grammy and AM in one.  Me, Mrs’ Frank’s Place, and Frank in the other.  Frank wanted to sleep with Mommy so I got a queen bed all to myself.  Yes small slices of heaven really do exist on earth.  They just are not as eternal as the real thing.

It’s 2am do you know where your 16 month old daughter is?  I know where mine is, she’s in the next room screaming her head off in her pack-n-play.  Mrs. Frank’s Place tried her magic act for a while, and then it was my turn.  Mrs. Frank’s Place also decided to stay in the 2nd queen bed in Grammy’s room and Frank was sawing some serious lumber in the bed next to mine.  So it was me and Anne Marie.  Turns out she was not looking to be entertained and she wasn’t sleepy anymore. Anne Marie, well she wanted to explore.  I tried to keep her on my bed.  She dug that for a while, laying quietly for about 10 minutes, then it was go time.

She started crawling as fast as I don’t know what all over that bed.  She’d shoot like lightning right to the edge of every side or corner of the bed and then stop, look back to see if I was there, then try to go over the side.  It truly was like wrestling a pint sized alligator.  All the while with this big grin on her face, as if she knew she could out last me and I would eventually fall asleep before her.  If I was ten years older that might be the case, but I still have some pep in my step.

I built up all the pillows into the great wall around the bed.  Pillow side note: had we covered in pre-marital counseling how many pillows come with marriage, I may have bowed out.  The couch has five, the bed has like three for decoration and then there are our actual pillows.  Hell even the chairs have at least one each.  Anyway on this night they served a purpose.  Like the turnbuckles on the ring for a pro-wresting match at the Garden in NY, the pillows kept AM in play for a while. That is until she figured out how to get over them.  Yeah, why are we getting occupational therapy again?

Draggin onto to 4am we were still wrestling, she’s trying to get off the bed thinking it was all a big game, and I’m dashing around the bed thinking maybe the Keebler Elves would take her if I ask nicely and promise not to steal their pot of gold.  The pot of gold may be a Leprechaun thing, but at four o’clock in the am, I’m not quibbling over details.  So save your angry little e-mails leprechauns and get back in the tree and make some cookies.  Or do the elves make the cookies?

Nice match kid.  Now hit the showers.

Nice match kid. Now hit the showers.

No matter.  Right around 4:30 she started to crack.  She yawned a big yawn, and closed her eyes for an extended blink.  Time for the big gun.  I fire up 8oz of liquid sleep also know as warm milk, get a little sway going as she’s drinking and hum the tunes from all the branches of the military. Used to do that all the time when she was in the NICU.  The low vibration of my humming was therapeutic for her back then, so the nurses and docs said.  Now it’s just putting her to sleep.  She was off to Neverland around 4:50am.  Woke up the next day fresh as a daisy, with a big smile as if nothing ever happened.  Didn’t quite work that way for me.

It was a battle for the ages, that I can tell you.


Frank, well that little so and so never blinked an eyelid the entire night even though he was maybe 10 feet from the action.

Kid always was a great sleeper.

I guess we’re paying for that now.