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: Ten years and a tinfoil hat…A wedding story.

Today, 06 December 2013 , is the ten year anniversary of my wife staying married to me. Tracy doesn’t really get a lot of play here because the nature of the blog is about the kids. So here’s a few pictures of Mrs Frank’s Place.

Maui, December 8th 2003.

Maui, December 8th 2003.

1st halloween, October 2009

1st halloween, October 2009. Frank in The Dog.











Avalon NJ, 2013 with the kids.

Avalon NJ, 2013 with the kids.

Have you picked up on the theme yet? Mrs Frank’s Place hasn’t changed much. Sure she’s technically aged ten years since 2003, but other than that she is as beautiful as she was then, still the same out of my league girl she was then.

Hey I lucked out, I get it.

As I said Tracy dosen’t get much air time at Frank’s Place. Because of that and in honor of our 10th, the tinfoil anniversary, I give you our wedding day story. A here-to-for untold tale of two very different wedding day experiences.

Of course since we spent the day apart, I’ll write my experience from memory and make up Tracy’s experience as I type.

The wedding was at 4pm. It was December 6th. For all you college football fans you know that means we got married on the day of the SEC Championship game. The game would be kicking off during our reception. We half wondered if some people would skip the wedding to watch the game instead. No matter, we weren’t rescheduling.

So the day started off overcast and cold. Me, the best man – Mike Rogers, and Tracy’s brother Brad had planned to go golfing in the morning. We had to do something waiting for 4 o’clock. I’m not sure Brad and Mike realized the depth of my addiction. There was no way 35deg temps would keep me off the course. So we went golfing.

Tracy slept in. I think. Knowing what I know about her sleep habits now, I’m putting the house on the fact she slept in.

We get to the course and no surprise we have the place to ourselves. It was an unspectacular outing with the only memorable moment coming on the 18th green. It’s at this point that I should mention a trait that appears to run through Tracy’s family. When they get nervous, their digestive system not only fails them, it attacks them.

So as we putt out on the 18th, Brad putts quickly and runs off. Shouted something about the bathroom. Mike and I took our time, made our putts and then chipped and putted for a while waiting on Brad. We waited and waited. Mike finally says, “Brad seemed a little nervous.” My reply, “What does he have to be nervous about, I’m the one getting married?”

As it turns out, Brad was getting nervous about his role. He was giving his sister away. Their father died when they were young and Brad was representing the Rogers clan. Apparently that set off his plumbing.

So after what seemed like an hour, but was only 25 minutes, Brad comes out of the clubhouse. He looks funny. He’s missing a sock and his pants are not adjusted properly. He walks up hurriedly, “We have to go, now.” He walked past us moving with a purpose to the car.

Tracy was having a mani and pedi with her mom and sister-in-law Rachel. Not a care in the world.

Mike and I catch Brad at the car and I finally ask him where his sock is. He says, “It’s with my underwear.”

“Well where the hell is that?”

He giggles a little and says, “It’s in the trash can in the bathroom. We need to get out of here.”

Apparently his “system” got the better of him and he had to accomplish an emergency procedure that somehow involved his right sock and underwear. Clearly neither of those things would fit down the toilet so he pitched them in the trash can. To this day the events are as sketchy as the alien landing at Roswell.

Tracy and company are at the church sipping tea and having their hair done. Again not a care in the world.

Driving what has now become the get away car, we hustle back to Tracy’s house to drop Brad off. As he disappeared into the house I thought we might never see him again. He just lost two pieces of clothing and we were still 3 hours from the ceremony. In the next hour, say hour and a half he might just crap himself out of existence.

Mike and I had the car pre-loaded with our tuxedos so we head to the church. We catch up with the rest of the boys in an upstairs store room in the church. It’s not bad. I’ve dressed in worse places.

Tracy and the girls are in a big lounge area in the church having danish and kibitzing. Not one world care given.

My side of the wedding party is made up of 6 military members plus me, in our Air Force tuxedos complete with white gloves and swords, and 6 civilians in very nice tuxes with red flowers on the lapel. It was at this moment that the greatest line ever uttered in a wedding party was delivered.

Dan Anderton, a great friend to this day, watched in amazement as 7 defenders of freedom struggled with putting on our swords like it was a giant, unsolvable rubik’s cube. One guy figured it out and the rest followed his example. We then stood in a line of seven for a quick picture. Taking all this in Dan says, as he’s pinning on his flower, “Great, you guys get swords. How are we supposed to be tough wearing flowers.” How indeed Dan. It wasn’t Johnny Carson but it busted us all up for some reason.

We get into position in the church and the band is warming up the crowd. The band was all the people Tracy sang with in the church praise band. They were awesome and free. Huge double win there. The only paid musician was a trumpet player from the Knoxville Orchestra. He was bad. How bad? I’ll sum it up this way. Standing in position with Mike- the best man, and the Pastor, Petros Roukas, a Greek right from the Isle, the trumpet player did a solo. Pastor Roukas winced, Mike shot me a look, and then the Pastor says, “Are you paying this guy.”

Yes sir, we are.

“Ask for your money back.” Hahaha. The dude was awful. His terrible play was only highlighted as the all volunteer band was flawless the entire wedding.

Anyway as Mike and I stand at the front of the church, I can see Tracy and Brad all the way at the back through a door. They were laughing hysterically. I thought, yeah that trumpet guy was that bad. Nope. Brad sensed Tracy was nervous after she made several trips to the can, so he attempts to lighten the mood and tells her what happened to his sock and underwear at the golf course.

Worked like a champ. Tracy was not as nervous and made it down the aisle without tripping; one of her big fears.

Nothing calms the nerves more than a good story about losing some loyal clothing in a battle with your innards.

All went as planned after that except for one very quiet moment during the service. Two worlds converged when my father’s very good friend was almost immolated by the father of one of my best friends.

We had candle sticks marking every other pew in the church. My father’s friend Emil, sat in one on those pews with a candle. Emil was on oxygen due to health issues that would eventually call him home way too soon. My friends father, Tom, was sitting behind Emil. Tom bumped the candle stick and glass globe it was in. The whole thing started to fall forward onto Emil and his oxygen tank. Did I mention the candle was lit?

Although hampered by age and a worn out working man’s frame, Tom recovered in time to catch the globe and candle. For the next ten minutes you can hear this glass tinkling as Tom tried to reassemble the whole deal. All captured on the wedding video. My back was to this caper as it unfolded. But I could see my friends Chris and Tim as they were facing out into the church. The look on their faces made it clear. Chris was stifling a laugh and Tim was trying to move people and objects with his eyes. I thought, “Must be Tim’s dad.”

It was smooth sailing after that and at 4pm on December 6th 2003 in Knoxville TN, a Southern Bell and a palooka from Jersey merged families. And no one caught on fire.

So that’s day one in the story of Us.

God help us all.

Diary of A SAHD: A new game reborn.

So not too long ago I was lamenting Frank’s transition from backyard sports and games with me to the big boy world of organized sports. In this case specifically, AYSO soccer. Frank calls it “Soccer Ball”. My old Air Force buddy Tony calls it un-American. Both may be right.

I had to literally pull Frank from the car on that first Saturday morning but now, as has been documented, he loves Soccer Ball. He has yet to kick the ball in an actual live game even though he plays 3 of the 4 quarters every game, but he loves it.

Quick side note here: My swarthy complexion and Frank’s long hair may be giving the “coach” a false sense of Frank’s abilities when it comes to Futbol, as my ancestors call it. I mean my father is the first one of the family born in America, his mother having stepped off the boat from Italy to the streets of Philadelphia. But that’s where the connection to the fine game of European Futbol ends. In truth it never really existed in the first place.

Anywhoo, Frank’s love of running with his teammates as they play soccer every Saturday morning, 8 freaking 30 every Saturday morning, has hastened the demise of one of my favorite games, Driving Range.

Trying to flee as I rain down all manner of golf ball on him.

Trying to flee as I rain down all manner of golf ball on him.

Driving Range is a game Frank and I came up with that allows him to play in the back yard and allows me to do something other than sit in a chair and watch him play in the back yard. Frank drives his motorized John Deer tractor around the back yard, pictured left. I stand at the west end of the yard and hit golf balls at him trying to get one to land in the tractor bed. If I get one in the bed, Frank has to reach back, while still driving forward, get the ball and throw it out before I can hit another one in the tractor bed. It’s almost as a awesome as the game of golf itself.

No doubt you can now see why I have missed playing Driving Range. And everyone take a breath, the golf balls are plastic.

Well I’m here to tell the game has been reborn. Another funny/not so funny side note here. When that thought dawned on me today, it reminded me of my father meeting someone who professed to be a born again Christian. When my father would hear of someone being reborn, as it pertains to their faith, he would shout “Hallelujah I’m a Christian” laughing in that mocking tone only an Italian-Catholic, who still speaks Latin, can do. I have experienced this first hand. It’s still funny.

No matter because through a combination of a small twist of fate and Frank’s new found love of Soccer Ball, we have reconfigured the game formally known as Driving Range. It has been reborn.

Our next-door neighbor got a sweet deal on a motorized John Deer tractor. Little Bennet has been buzzing the cul-de-sac in his new ride. This prompted Frank to want to drive his again. It had been growing moss under the deck so I had to do a little refurbishing. Now all Frank wants to do is drive the thing around in the street like his buddy Bennett. So I was left sitting in the drive way watching them go round and round, for freaking hours it seemed. Can’t hit golf balls off the driveway, or into the street for that matter.

But I can kick a soccer ball.

Yeah my thought exactly.

So now Frank drives around and I try to kick the ball into the truck bed. This is exponentially easier than hitting a golf ball in there plus I’m getting much more exercise, so it’s a win/win. Now unbeknownst to Frank, I’m actually trying to kick the ball into the tractor cab and hit him. You know for the added degree of difficulty. Got him four times today. The last one hit him right in the snot locker. That’s his nose for all you Johnny Rebs out there.

Man, he laughed so hard after the ball hit him in the face I thought he was gonna toot for hours.

Turns out it’s a great game. We still need a name, though. Help us out in the comment section.

So Driving Range is reborn and it’s better than ever and I’ve only got one thing to say to that: Hallelujah I’m a Christian!

(Yeah I know it was a long trip to that joke.  Sue me.)