T-Ball: Good lord what have we begat?

So yeah T-Ball.

Wow.

I never played organized stuff as a kid. My first experience with organized sports was my senior year in high-school. The Track team needed a pole-vaulter. I was the only idiot to volunteer, so the job was mine. Nice. Obviously I survived, but I had a few close calls. Anyway, now I have to get involved in this stuff because Frank is trying a myriad of sports for that well rounded foundation before we turn our laser focus on building his pro golf career.

But man, T-Ball.

Eight kids standing on the infield as a kid stands at the plate and hacks at the ball set on a tee.

Batter Up!

Batter Up!

Try to imagine ye old Scotland at the time of William Wallace. Gas powered mowers are centuries from invention. The trusty scythe was the implement of choice. A grizzled old farmer works his share crop on the edge of the Scottish coast on a piece of link land. So named because it linked the inland with the beach, later deemed so bad for farming or grazing, people built golf courses on it instead. Hence St Andrews and links golf. Hoping to avoid eviction by the lord or knight of the manor, the farmer swings to and fro his scythe, desperate for a decent crop yield. Gnarly hands struggle to hold the scythe in the freezing summer winds and ocean mist. Yes summer. He can’t stop. He’s working to pay the man. A two handed device that was gangly but lethal that scythe. Not lethal to the grass but to the person wielding it. Mind you this was a lawn implement.

That almost compares to the way 4 year old kids swing the bat at a ball perched on a tee. The ball is in no danger. Ever. It is the tee for which we weep.

You can almost feel the pain of the Tee as the batters rain blows down upon it, while the ball sits safely in the holder or gently falls to the ground and rolls a few feet away. Now if the ball does leave the tee another natural phenomenon is cast into motion. In Frank’s Place Latin – Jugis de Gnati or running of the child, occurs naturally this time of year across the United States. Eight or nine undersized kids wearing oversized t-shirts, ball caps, and mitts, or gloves, reflexively run at the ball as it leaves it’s protective habitat atop the tee. Every once in a while a rare sighting occurs when the child who just bludgeoned the tee causing the ball to be set in motion also chases it instead of running to first.

Jugis de Gnati also requires that each child throw him or herself onto the child who actually trapped the ball under their person. This Canem Cumulus, or dog pile, takes place regardless of time elapsed from the ball being trapped by the original child and the final child reaching said dog pile. In other words, if a kid has to run from the outfield to get a ball hit to the pitcher, so be it. That child will run the entire distance offering him or herself to the top of Canem Cumulus upon completion of the journey.

The one redeeming quality of Tee-ball: it’s apparently ok to laugh at the kids without facing the wrath of the sports parent or Athletica Parenti. In fact the horror stories often associated with the overbearing parents at their kid’s sporting endeavors seem non-existent at this level. Here’s hoping it stays that way. Fingers crossed.

The true heroes of this little social experiment called Tee-ball are the coaches. God bless them crazy bastards. What drives these men and women to sign up for this? What do they get out of it? I’m not seeing it. But again, God bless em. Someone has to do it I guess.

I learned from last Fall’s soccer experiment, which resembled a giant 6 kid amoeba roaming the field attempting to assimilate the ball, to keep my expectations low. Just try to enjoy Frank enjoying himself. He enjoyed soccer. Never kicked the ball through 8 games. Not once. And he loved it. Running with his friends was all he wanted. He had no desire to enter the scrum to get the ball. He was happy so I learned to be happy about and with him.

What a difference a season makes.

Making the play on the hot corner!

Making the play on the hot corner!

The first time Frank took the field I was very nervous, completely unsure of what he would do. But true to his herd, as the first ball hit the dirt rolling non-aggresively toward the mound, Frank, along with 8 of his teammates, stampeded toward the ball. The pitcher, or kid standing on the mound, was first to the ball. Poor kid. Nine kids later, to include the batter, the first dog pile of the season was complete thus signaling the boys of summer are back.

I was stunned that Frank was so willing to dog pile. But what happened next was earth shattering for two reasons:

1. the ball was struck with some pace and was on a inside-the-infield home run trajectory.

2. Frank dove to his left, glove in proper position, snagging the ball and triggering a roar from the crowd.

We had played catch in the back yard, but I was never allowed to throw the ball in the air. Frank always made me throw him ground balls. I naturally assumed he was afraid of the ball. Turns out the kid knew what he was doing.

Color me surprised. I did notice he enjoyed the people cheering for him a bit more then I would have liked. He’s starting to like this tee ball thing way too much.

I just hope it doesn’t mess up his golf swing.

 

 

 

 

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Diary of a SAHD: Water water everywhere…

All fun a games till someone gets peed on.

All fun a games till someone gets peed on.

Never has the obscure phrase, “There is a reason my hair is wet.” elicited such riotous laughter from a group of medical people. But that’s exactly what happened when Frank and I returned from the bathroom at the doctors office. It was his third and finally successful trip to offer up a urine sample.

I’m not sure this is a genetic thing, but I had a similar problem, so it might be all my fault.

In 1989 when I went for my in-processing physical for the US Air Force I had a huge problem coming up with a sample. I’ll never forget my 9 hours at the Military Entrance Processing Center, or MEPS, on Cherry St. in Philadelphia. There was a huge crack down on narcotics in the military so the urine sample was a big deal. The guys going in the Navy weren’t even allowed to hold their own cup. They had to stand with their backs to the urinal facing an observer who held the cup and when full, spin and finish up in the urinal while still being observed. The Army and Marines were able to go in a stall on their own and us Air Force guys went in a group with a single observer standing at the door.

Of course I could not pee in public and was firing dust. This raised suspicion and shaped my entire time at the MEPS. After each part of the physical I went to the kitchen area and drank 3 large glasses of water, while being observed.  After about 4 hours of this I was ready to choke. Phila tap water ain’t like drinking from a babbling brook, unless that brook is the waste water flowing from a trash to steam plant.

At the 7 hour mark I was ready to pour forth like Nile, or Euphrates, or Niagra. Just insert your own analogous large body of rushing water reference, and that was me as I was nearing 8 hours of drinking 24 large glasses of water. As I said the eyebrows were raised because of my inability to come up with a sample even after 4 hours of drinking Philadelphia’s finest nectar. So the docs decided it would be fun to make me wait until the exam was completely over. The last station of the day, a 40 pound vertical lift. I was going to be an aircraft electrician so I had to prove I could handle the weight I would encounter on the flight line.

Amazing how motivating having to pee so bad I could barely stand up can be. I threw that weight around like nothing. Could have easily gone to 60 or 80. The doc finally let me go, but I got a bathroom buddy. That same poor bastard from the Navy side had to hold the cup. But he smartened up. He let me face the urinal, he just stood in between me and it. That cup was filled at the speed of sound and he was slow to react. The result was a trip to the sink and a change of uniform for him, but not until after he handed off my sample. Then I stood at the urinal for what seemed like  30 minutes. To this day it remains the greatest pee of my entire life.

Aren’t you so glad you clicked the link.

So flash forward to January of 2014. My son is being tested for diabetes and they need a sample. It’s the sole reason we are there so guess what, he’s drinking water from the tap. Almost brought a tear to my eye. It only took him three glasses before he went running down the hall. But now I’m the poor bastard with the cup so I have to catch him.

I get there as he’s ripping his pants down. I get him lined up to hit the mark and for some reason he can’t he can’t “let go”. The cup must be throwing him off. So I turn the water on in the sink, flush the toilet, sing old man river, I’m trying everything to get him to pee.

Then without warning the dam breaks. But Frank decides now would be a good time to act like he’s a fireman on the high pressure hose who’s being electrocuted. He starts all manner of gyration and the “fire hose” is completely out of control. It would have been great if the roof, window, sink, mirror, floor, trash can, and my face and head were all on fire. But they weren’t.

I stayed in the fight though, taking one for the team as it were, and got the cup filled to the top.

Why Frank?!? Whyyyyyy!

Why Frank?!? Whyyyyyy!

Once the dust, or pee in this case, settled I looked at my only son with a disbelief bordering on sobbing despair. Picture Nancy Kerrigan after she got knee capped before the Olympics. “Why Frank, why didn’t you just stand still?!?” He started to get upset but then started laughing uncontrollably. Little chooch.

Well, we got cleaned up and all he could say was “I filled the cup!” It’s always about him. Wonder where he got that from?

We drop the cup off at the nurses station and the Doc was impressed that he filled it to the top too. As they are heaping praise on him I decide a dose of reality is in order and I utter the line from above. “Hey he ain’t William Tell. There is a reason my hair is wet!”

Made their day I guess. Hell, Frank got to go to the treasure chest, not for his accuracy but for his volume. Me, I got nothing but the hot nurses tagging me with the moniker as the guy who got peed on by his son.

It could be worse, but I’m having trouble imagining how.

Oh yeah, no diabetes, although at this point that seems a minor part of the story.

Is there a moral to the story? Yeah be careful who you pee on.

You never know when it’ll be you holding the cup.

 

Sock Hoppin: Raising money has never been so much fun!

Fram here to....

From here, 1lb 12oz…

For you new folk, our twins were born in March of 2012. They were born 3 1/2 months early and only weighed 1lb 12oz each. Sadly Linda Claire only survived for five hours due to lack of lung development. Anne Marie hung on and after five months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, we were able to bring her home.

We have a debt of gratitude to the staff at the NICU that can’t be repaid, ever. But between now and ever we are doing our best to help the cause. In this case the cause is the Phase II building project at the NICU, which will convert The Big House to private rooms. So when they’re done every kid will get a private room right from the jump. Right now the NICU is made up of about 30 private rooms and “The Big House” where most of the preemies start out. Once they improve and get to the feed and grow stage they usually move to a private room.

The rooms were great and we were glad when we moved into one if only because it meant we were making progress. But I kind of liked the community feeling of the Big House. It was noisy because you’re in there with about 60 kids, side by side, plus all the equipment keeping each one alive. And every damn thing in there beeps in some fashion, in some sequence. I got used to it and it was nice having a nurse with in arms reach if the buzzers on your kid went off. Ultimately though, the private room made it much easier for our long haul.

This is where you would use an adverb like immeasurable, as in the benefit of a private room to a preemie is immeasurable. Problem is that would not be true. The value is measurable. People much smarter than me measured it and found that preemies in private rooms respond and grow and heal much better then they do in the Big House. I would lay some stats on you but lets face it, that just wouldn’t be my style. So go here if you want to self smart yourself (NCO Academy inside joke) on the subject: UT NICU 

...to here. Sock Hopin at 23 months old.

…to here. Sock Hopin at 23 months old.

To that end Tracy had the idea for a fund raiser to help the cause. We did a Sock Hop. Yes only my wife would come up with a sock hop. You know, cause it combines the things I detest the most, costumes and dancing. Of course the costumes were optional, but I greased back my hair, threw on a t-shirt, slapped some smokes in the sleeve and I was ready to sock, or hop, or whatever. I actually managed to avoid the dancing by claiming to be running the music. You can peep the photo gallery below.

Turned out to be a great time. Uncle Butch provided some great 50s music and Frank’s preschool provided the venue. We had good food, good cookies, cakes, brownies, etc… There was an impressive limbo contest and an equally impressive hula hoop contest. All to raise some dough-ra-me for the NICU.

The goal was to raise about $500 American dollars.

The money is still flowing in but at last tally we were around $1100 not counting the people who sent donations directly to the UT Medical Center.

So yeah, goal exceeded and then some. Obviously we could not have done it without a ton of help. As a matter of fact without Mary Alice, Whitney, and Ashley, it probably doesn’t happen at all. Marisa, Morgan and Becky were the backbone of the deal on game day and made it so much easier to run and shut down when we were done.

Several local organizations got in on the act as well. Dinner was provided by Gourmet’s Market. All the baked goods were donated by The Sweetery, Magpies, Buttermilk Sky Pie Co, and The Cup. Decorations were provided by Echelon Florists. Knoxville people, go buy local, go buy a lot.

Not too bad for a first attempt at a fundraiser. Probably set our goal too low. Definitely learned some things. All in all it was a lot of fun and it’s a great cause. Everyone looked great too. A special shout out to April Grimsley, who could have easily stepped from the pages of a 1950s fashion mag.

Guess what? You can still get in on the fun. Make a donation in honor of Linda Claire at the UT NICU here: UT NICU Donations. Preciate ya.

Here’s a few shots from The Hop. First one of from the UT NICU and last one from Mag Pies Bakery.

Nurse Paula (rt) and Nurse  Farideh. Two of our heroes.

Nurse Paula (rt) and Nurse Farideh (middle). Two of our heroes.

My favorite part of the Hop.

My favorite table at the Hop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was my best 50s shot at a costume. Everyone else looked straight out of Happy Days.

It was my best 50s shot at a costume. Everyone else looked straight out of Happy Days.

King and Queen of the Hop. Mary Alice and Josh

King and Queen of the Hop. Mary Alice and Josh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becky and a child she stole from someone.

Becky and a child she stole from someone.

 

Mike Whitney and Stylin Bennett

Mike, Whitney and Stylin Bennett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That hurts my back just looking at it.

That hurts my back just looking at it.

 

Hula Hoopin the night away

Hula Hoppin the night away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Really tough guy? You're wearing penny loafers.

Really tough guy? You’re wearing penny loafers.

Magpies Bakery in the Old City, Knoxville TN

Magpies Bakery in the Old City, Knoxville TN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of a SAHD: Parenting issues activist? Eh… no thanks.

I think anyone who writes and puts it out there to the general public feels uneasy or nervous or insecure. With the blog I’m generally not that way. I write what I write, don’t apologize for it, figuring if you don’t like it then don’t read it. If someone else wants to publish a post of mine then the nerves kick up a bit. Generally though I’m not worried about what anyone thinks about what I write. These stories are more for me than you all anyway, although I’m glad you enjoy them and I appreciate everyone who clicks and reads and comments.

But I have always wondered if I went the wrong way with this blog. Honestly I never expected so many would be reading this. I know these stories are funny, but I also thought they’d probably only be funny to me. I’m not sure I should be glad or frightened for humanity that so many of you have a similar sense of humor to mine.

As I encounter more dad bloggers in my travels throughout the internet it occurs to me that I never get into discussing parenting or parenting issues. A lot of dads write about that stuff. In fact most, if not all, of the dad bloggers I have seen write about stuff like that in some way or another. And some of them have huge followings, like numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

So I worried. Did I go the wrong way making this such a personal blog? Should I be out there advocating for dads and then writing about it here? Should I be worried about the public’s perception of stay at home dads, trying to combat it at every turn? Should I be giving out parenting tips, do’s and don’ts lists about rasing kids, or best practices that have worked for me as a dad?

If you’re playing the home version, the answers are in order: no, no way, no, and ye…ah…no.

Yeah I worried, but only for a few seconds. Turns out I’m way too arrogant and lazy for any of that crap.

Advocacy takes work. You know, you have to research stuff, look up facts and stats and quotes and on and on. I’m tired from just typing that sentence. Mocking advocates is so much easier as it requires no facts what ever. Plus it’s just much more fun.

The bigger issue, apathy. I really don’t care if Huggies makes an ad that doesn’t feature dads or pokes fun at dads. I mean that’s a device that collects poop. Why would I care what they think about dads. Add to that the fact my daughter can’t handle the chemicals in Pampers Baby Dry, so we buy her…wait for it…Huggies Natural. If I need diapers does it really matter that Huggies markets to their biggest customers, in this case moms. Answer, no it doesn’t, I’m still buying them.

Do I care what ads Procter and Gamble are running during the Olympics? No. I’m down for 16 days of curling and I care not one wit if Procter and Gamble or any other advertiser doesn’t specifically include me or other SHADs in their concepts for commercials. To be honest I have no idea what products P&G even makes so I’m probably supporting the enemy without knowing it. And yet my life surprisingly goes on unabated.

Am I kerfuffled by a zoo that marks out a space to take a break and calls it Mom’s Cove or that they provide a space for moms to breast feed? First of all I don’t get kerfuffled. Secondly who the hell has the kind of time to get worked up over that? Besides I’m too busy trying to figure out how to whoop my kid at light-sabres on the Wii.

A Jedi's power flows through the binker.

A Jedi’s power flows through the binker.

I mean it’s not like he’s an expert Jedi or anything. No, Frank’s light-saber fighting style is more like an epileptic getting electrocuted. So the one controller moving the light-saber and the other using his force powers are going one hundred miles per hour. Although that’s an unofficial speed as I have not calibrated my radar gun in a while. Regardless, I have absolutely no chance. I must figure this out and whoop him and I can’t be wastin my limited brain capacity on deep issues. The bigger issue is Frank is not a gracious winner and it’ll be a few months before I can get him on the golf course to take him down a notch or two. (Man I know I’m gonna get angry e-mails from people that have been electrocuted. Ah well, that’s the price of fame. franknfran0967@gmail.com)

Anyway, apparently there is a cadre of moms out there shooting dismissive, laser like, looks at dads who come to the park. I’m usually way too oblivious of people around me to ascertain if they are giving me looks. I also live in a great neighborhood and the moms in The Sac treat me like one of the gang. I’m a bit more of a Gossipy Gertrude than they are but they’re still pretty cool. So no I don’t understand the ‘cold shoulder at the park’ complaints a lot of dads write about. Again, I’m way too arrogant, or self assured if you like, to be phased by that.

Ultimately it comes to this; aside from my smart-alec responses before, the real issue is the mission. Caring for the well being of my two kids is the mission.

On that score I’m laser focused.

I can’t think of a time in my life where that ideal was not drummed into me either directly or by example. My parents and seven brothers and sisters all model the axiom  ‘What other people do has no bearing on me until it does.’

Of course the military lives on the mantra of the mission, and for good and obvious reasons. On the flight line early in my military career that was drummed into me by some great men. It’s the mission stupid. Figure out the mission and whatever isn’t the mission isn’t important. When I arrived as a new instructor at the NCO Academy I found there was a lesson in the curriculum addressing this very issue.

So apathy is part of why I don’t take up the banner of dad issues and the slighting there of. But at the end of the day, commercials, crossed eyed looks from moms at the park, spots at the zoo marked Mom’s Cove, have no impact on the mission and in my opinion don’t warrant my attention.

Let me say God bless the guys out there fighting the fight. I’m not sure what the exit strategy is, but they must because they all seem very good at what they’re doing. They have been blessed, unlike me, with the ability to de several things well at the same time, to include writing great blogs. But as for me and my house, we shall focus solely on the mission. As myopic as that might be.

Kids bring their own problems, I don’t have the time or energy or the brain pan size for what appears to me to be manufactured problems.

So we shall continue with dopey stories about how my kids terrorize and amaze me, sometimes simultaneously.

Here endeth the wasting of brain cells.

Now where’s my light-sabre?

Diary of a SAHD: Discovering a galaxy far far away…

Editors Note: In honor of International Star Wars Day, (it’s May the 4th Be With You day if you were not aware,) Here is a story of when my kids discovered the greatest movie franchise in the known galaxy. Enjoy. 

Discovering a galaxy far far away…

Honestly we have been actively keeping this from him. Obviously we’ve not done a very good job at shielding him from it. Kids are maturing so quickly these days. He’ll only be five in May so how soon is too soon? How early is innocence lost these days? When is the right time to tell him about it, to have THE talk?

He’s seen it by accident on TV so apparently the moment has come and the time is now.

Time for THE talk.

Time to tell him about Star Wars.

Some random dude on Twitter mentioned how no matter how many times it’s on he always gets sucked in by the Star Wars marathon on Spike. Mrs Franks Place replied to his tweet by saying she knows someone who does the exact same thing.

Two things she fails to realize is I follow her on Twitter so I saw that tweet. Second, I watch a lot of Star Wars and because of that have developed Jedi mind power which means I know she was talking about me, and in a non-complimentary way. The dark side always reveals itself sooner or later.

She’s not wrong. No matter how many times it plays I can watch the Star Wars. Like The Godfather, the Star Wars movies transcend time. They hold up. They’re great movies and always will be.

A Jedi's power flows through the binker.

A Jedi’s power flows through the binker.

I’m dying for Frank to get hooked. The light-saber battles alone will be epic. But the movies are too dark in theme for a little kid in my opinion so I’ve not let him watch. Kids in his class have though. Frank has been to a Star Wars themed birthday party and has had imaginary light-sabre duels in the school yard with his buds. We have actual duels on the Wii. But that’s me against him using just characters from the movies. No plots or darkness involved. Still I didn’t think the movies would be a good idea for him. There are parts of Henry Huggle Monster that cause him to run from the room.

It just so happened there was a Star Wars marathon a few weeks ago. Spike TV was playing all six movies in numerical order. If I was single I would have never changed from my PJ’s and eaten nothing but popcorn for the entire Saturday. Married with no kids: I would have still lived on Diet Coke and popcorn all day, but I would have done it standing at the ironing board folding all the laundry in the house. That would have got me through three and a half of the six moivies. Would have been sitting on my ass for the last two.

Married with two kids: still doing laundry but with remote set to the Star Wars and Disney Junior so I can flip to Octonauts in case the two midgets wander in. They wander in all the time so I was seeing a lot of Octonauts and not much Jedi. But one particularly quiet moment when midget 2 was down for her nap, midget 1 wandered in to my laundry station undetected while I was watching A New Hope, the first Star Wars movie released, (1977) but fourth in the series. Also least darkest in my opinion. Although Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen were sent to their eternal dirt naps in a less than glorious fashion by the storm troopers.

Anyway, once I realized he was standing by the door I switched it to Disney. Too late. The questions start.

What was that movie? Why were they shooting that man? What happened to that ship? And on and on.

It was time. No way around it now.

You see son a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…

Ah the explanations won’t do any good. I just let him watch it. In five minutes he saw a light-saber fight and thought they were playing the game we play on the Wii. When Obi Wan is killed by Darth Vader Frank asked, “Where are they gonna play next.” In the game after you win a duel it restarts and you can pick which planet or scene you want to duel in next. Not so in the movie. Obi Wan was sent to the eternal ether. This stark reality caused Frank to deem it a daddy movie and he promptly ran out.

That same day, three baskets of laundry later, midget 2, up from her nap wonders in while I’m watching the third movie in the series and the latest one released, Revenge of the Sith. It’s by far the darkest of the six movies in my opinion. The particular scene she saw takes place on Chewbacca’s home planet, loaded with Wookies in a bloody battle with the droid armies.

Wookies/Sheep - Anne Marie speaks their language.

Wookies/Sheep – Anne Marie speaks their language.

Anne Marie’s response? Pointed at the TV and yelled “Sheep! Sheep! Baaa”. Yeah so I guess they do look like sheep, if sheep could stand on two feet, fire a laser crossbow, and you know, be self governing so as to run an entire planet. But I took her point. That kid is a pistol.

So Frank appears to be unfazed. He got a light-saber from the birthday party he went to Saturday, (not a real one, I would have kept that for myself) and he still wants to have duels on the Wii. He just doesn’t want to watch the movies.

That’s ok I guess. Seems a bit unnatural to get sucked in by the merchandizing without seeing the actual movies, but ok.

Maybe the force is not strong with him after all.

His sister on the other hand…

Jedi or Sith? We report, you decide!

Jedi or Sith? We report, you decide!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK maybe not.

 

 

 

Frank’s Place: Best of 2013

Best of the best of the best... with honors

Best of the best of the best… with honors

Ok, it’s that time of year again. Time to recount the posts with the most, the stylings that got you smiling…or something like that. Man another year that just blew by. I guess it’s always like this when you have two or more. Didn’t seem to go that fast when it was just Frank, but now that he has a partner in crime the space time continuum just hasn’t been the same.

Speaking of time, lets stop wasting it. There are trays of pigs in a blanket with my name on it so here goes. I give you the top ten posts at Frank’s Place for 2013, in descending order by total views in a single day.

A Girl Stands in Knoxville! A lot of people clicked on this little gem. And why not. It had everything: a feel good story about a premie standing before she should have, some great before and after pics, and exploitative gambling. That’s right, guesses were made as to when AM would walk, now that she was vertical. The eventual winner was May524 who guessed it to the day, but she failed to reply. Susan Hupp and Andy Traugot tied for next closest at 13 months, 15 days. Hupp took an unedited version of the manuscript of my soon to be book and Traugot failed to claim his prize. Still here if you want it Andy.

Anne Marie Year 1 Few words and lots of pictures vaulted this one to the top of the charts. Not sure how I should feel about that. A momentous year non the less as we went from a weighing 1lb 12oz to eating a 1lb cake.

It was a Hairy Bear This was a little weird. When visiting AM’s twin sisters’ grave on their birthday we noticed a small bear my nephew Sean had put there during the funeral was still there. I mentioned it in a post about AM’s birthday. It got a lot of attention. So much so it became it’s own post. I can report that on this Christmas Eve the bear was no longer there. Although we still have the bear’s twin sitting with a picture of Linda Claire.

This is not a Rock Kicking Contest Mr. Linardo! A sad one for sure. This is what I wrote about my brother-in-law Bill, my sister’s husband, who died way too sudden, way too soon. The title of the post comes from what Bill, or Mr. McClory as I knew him then, would say to me when I was kicking rooks in the school parking lot waiting to walk down to the bus to go home. He said it a lot. I was dense back then. Or should I say denser? Can I say denser? Who knows, it’s late.

A lot of fish died to get this shot. I'll miss them.

A lot of fish died to get this shot. I’ll miss them.

It’s Always Hurricane Season! Hey she can walk. Great. She put her walking to good use, moving around the house destroying everything in her path. Busted up a few things with her wake too. This one got a lot of attention because you people like to see me suffer. I get it. I’d be laughing too.

Is there a Doc in the House? More suffering. Mostly mine. Not really. The whole house took sick and Frank had to evacuate to Grammy’s house with Mrs Frank’s Place as AM’s immune system would not be able to cope. It was a weird 4 days. Frank loved it. Had his mom all to himself. What’s not to love?

Running with Scissors  This is my personal favorite. Coming around the corner to find my 19 month old daughter using a pair of scissors in an attempt to pry open the fridge made me proud. I spent ten years working on an airplane that required serious improvisation to get things done. I was mediocre at it to say the least but to see my girl already developing those skills brought a tear to my eye.

No touch? Yeah no problem, I won't touch the gate. I'll jump over it.

No touch? Yeah no problem, I won’t touch the gate. I’ll jump over it.

Coming in to her own!  This was a post about AM building a ladder out of a diaper box and my wife’s work boxes to jump the child gate on the stairs. But really it was just me bragging on my daughter who turned 17 months old that day. Coming out of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, her brain pan was the only thing that had me worried. My fears were apparently unfounded.

What a Year a Baby Makes We celebrated her one year birthday in March. We celebrated her actual due date at the end of June. So one full year home from the hospital on July 29th, sure we’ll celebrate that too. Another extremely popular post with a lot of pictures and not much of my thoughts or words.

Yeah don’t think I’m not seeing the “just shut up and show us pictures of your kids” trend.

Making his shadow hand touch his shadow forehead

Making his shadow hand touch his shadow forehead

Dancing with Squirrels  The ever popular sequel to Dances with Wolves, this was a favorite of mine for a lot of reasons. Mostly because it was fun to watch Frank make shadow puppets while he was playing in a live soccer game. But it also gave me a little insight into the kids psyche. And I liked what I saw. Apparently y’all did too.

On a side note, I did have a top ten moment myself the other night. At a wedding reception featuring some of the who’s who in Knoxville, including the mayor and a local doctor who has a TV show here in town, my wife introduced me to an avid reader of Frank’s Place.

It was great to meet you LT. I appreciate all the nice things you had to say about the blog. You made my night. It was a humbling to say the least. Especially considering you walked right past Mayor Burchett and Dr. Bob to talk to me.

Of course most of the credit goes to my kids. They really write the stories, I’m just their interpretive stenographer.

So that’s it for 2013. These are the ten top posts for the year, as decided by you, the people who support Frank’s Place. Without you my ego would almost be non-existent. Well, that’s probably not true.

Anyway Happy New Year to LT and all of you from all of us here at Frank’s Place.

 

hdwallpapersinn.com

hdwallpapersinn.com

 

 

 

 

Diary of a SAHD: Zero to Holly Jolly in 8 hours.

We dig the Christmas season just as much as the next family. We just don’t do a whole lot about it from Thanksgiving to Christmas day. We’re not grinches as much as we are lazy. I put up lights but that’s only because the neighbors went all Clark Griswold and I had to respond. That’s really an exaggeration. The Sac was a little subdued this Christmas. I know one thing, Frank’s Place is copying the next door neighbors and going all color lights next Christmas. You’re a trend setter Mike, and have delivered me from these awful energy saving dull white lights. But my meager light display was about as much as the yule tide spirit we were willing to imbibe.

Frank’s unwillingness to see Santa this year played right into our laziness. Scribing the letter was easy, no fuss no muss. Shopping was even easier. Wait in lines? Get up at 3am the Friday after Thanksgiving? Who does these things with the advent of internet shopping? It’s cold out there man. Ain’t no way I’m getting up that early to put on 3 layers of clothes just to wait in line so I can duke it out with Ma and Pa Kettle over an leopard print iPad cover. I’m not ashamed to say there were some days I was Christmas shopping at my computer without wearing pants. Not sure why I never got a picture of that. Ah well, opportunity lost.

A Santa only a homeless shelter could love.

A Santa only a homeless shelter could love.

Anyway, Christmas Eve rolls around and Mrs Frank’s Place gets the holiday spirit. Lets take the kids to the mall and get a picture with Santa she says. Eh ok, what the heck. So we dress them in their Christmas PJs and off we go. Line is short. This can’t be good. Annnnnd potty break for Santa. A mere 25 minutes later Santa’s bladder is right as rain and we’re making pictures. Result to the left. A Christmas Miracle!

Look man, I don’t mind sayin the Santas were all pretty damn creepy this year. Look at that dude. If I ran into that guy in a parking garage in broad daylight I’d crap my pants. It took all my will power to keep it under control for that picture and it was 11:30 in the morning. His eyes haunt me even now.

No matter we got the shot, Frank asked for a snow ogre and we headed out into the mall for some shopping and then out into the world for lunch, on Christmas Eve no less.

A Bond Unbroken 

After lunch we decided to pay a visit to Linda Claire’s grave with some flowers. If you are unaware, Anne Marie is a surviving twin. Linda Claire was her sister and she died five hours after being born. Neither Frank nor Anne Marie have ever been there so it felt like a risky proposition, but we pressed on and told Frank to ask any question he wanted.

Tracy showed Frank Linda Claire’s grave and I put Anne Marie down and let her walk to Frank. Except she didn’t walk to Frank. She walked up to the grave marker which is a flat stone, flush with the ground. AM stood there for a second, then crouched down a little and stared at the stone for what seemed like forever. It was somewhere in the 5 minute neighborhood, maybe 6  or 7. I was having a hard time processing. AM never made a peep. She just stood there slightly crouched, staring. Then she reached down, touched the plaque, said “baby, baby”, turned and waked back to the van. Cemetery trip concluded.

I question my own sanity even typing that last paragraph. I have absolutely no explanation for what happened. As my father said, why waste time trying to figure it out, just enjoy it. Well said Pop, well said.

Frank broke the silence by asking how would we get LC the flowers. Great question. We had no answer other than to say she could see them from where she was, in God’s house. Ten minutes later he asked “What about all the other names on the ground?” What names Frank? “All the other names on the ground in God’s house? Do they get flowers too?” LC is buried in the infant section of the cemetery. Most of the graves are marked with stones that lay flat on the ground. Kids pick up on the craziest things and then ask about it in a way that makes their parents start crying all over again.

Then it was cookie baking time. AM and Mrs Frank’s Place went off for a nap and that left me and Frank in the kitchen to get our Christmas cookie on. I gave the orders and Frank did all the work, short of putting the cookie sheets into the oven. He plays the mixer like a member of the Philharmonic. We cleaned as we baked and fun was had by all. All two of us. Cookies were out and cooling and it was time for church.

This was going to be the biggest test of the day. The picture below should give you an indication of how it went.

Running laps in the church basement. Baby Jesus better put on some track shoes.

Running laps in the church basement. Baby Jesus better put on some track shoes.

My theologically versed sister maintains that you receive grace even if you sleep in church. So running a half marathon in the basement should be worth a “double portion”, as Benny Hinn would say.

Church was OK for a first try in a long time. Thanks to an amazingly large basement the kids were able to run laps for the entire service. But we had to git on home, there were cookies to decorate.

But first we had to throw reindeer food on the lawn. Down here they call it bait, but it’s really food for Santa’s team when he comes to the Sac. Then it was cookie decorating time.

Frank’s cookie decorating style could loosely be described as a cross between the great cubist Pablo Picasso and a drunk of his ass Andy Warhol. Ultimately it got the job done. We put four masterpieces on a plate and put them under the tree.

Kids went off to bed and thus ended our first family Christmas Eve-a-palooza. We crammed more Christmas into this past Christmas Eve than we have the last 5 Christmases combined.

Not sure what got into us but it was a good day from start to finish.

By golly it was a holly jolly Christmas indeed.