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Archive for February, 2009

1)  I think that I couldn’t help but smile a little bit, when I read that nearly 75% of ex-Bush officials are unemployed. That’s right. Of the nearly 3000 former members of the Bush administration, almost three-fourths haven’t found another job.

In Wall Street Journal Article, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123518630430139343.html , former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez stated that this “is not a great time for anyone to be job hunting”. 

Really?!?  And, who’s fault is that?

2)  I was recently asked if I ever lie to my children. Of course I said no, but then I started to think about it.

Does Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and the fact that my daughter thinks that she was given to us by a Stork,  count?

I then started to do mental gymnastics – like only a wacko such as myself would do.  What’s the difference between a “white lie” and a “real lie”?  When do I need to tell my son that Santa Clause was invented by the Coke a Cola Company (true!). Do I ever use White Lies to get out of a conversation or to avoid a temper tantrum from my kids?  Why do we use the term “white lie”?  Why isn’t it called a “yellow” or  “red” lie?

I think that this was the point that I decided to start drinking Scotch again.  I haven’t figured out where the line is crossed between a White Lie and a Real lie, but I’m sleeping better at night since I changed my evening beverage.

 3)  I think I under estimated the cost of parking my new Tent Camper at a storage facility. Our neighborhood is a little uptight about things like campers parked out in front of the house. So I started looking for a place to park it.

The quotes, for indoor garage parking, start at $199 a month and top off at $305 a month.  Who in there right mind would pay $305 a month to park their camper indoors?

 As much as I don’t like it, I will be parking the new camper in an outside parking facility —for the monthly cost of $80.00 a month.  I think I should have put that in the budget, when we decided to make this camper purchase.
 

4)  Every five or six months, I think we get another one of these stories. This time it is a Teacher in West Virginia having an affair with a 15 year old. Keep in mind, often these stories are about female teachers and young boys. Why we have seen so many of these stories in the last few years, I have no idea.

On this occasion, the boy was missing for seven days and was finally found in a hotel room with his girl…….I mean Teacher. http://snafu-ed.blogspot.com/2009/02/teacher-15-year-old-student-found-in-w.html

But seriously, what is the deal with these  transgressions?  Are there no morals anymore? Forget that she’s a teacher for a moment, doesn’t’ the fact that the boy is a minor tell you that this is so very wrong?  
 
I guess I just can’t wrap my head around these stories.  What are these grown adults thinking, and what’s the attraction? 
I think that my little girl isn’t the only child I have to keep an eye on, regarding predators and mentally confused adults. 
 

5)    I think that I have discovered the one thing in life, that is almost as bad as having two sick kids. What is it?  Having a sick wife.

I got the call at about 2:30 this afternoon.  In a very raspy, weak voice, was my wife on the other end of the  line. She finally caught the bug all the kids at school had been passing around. My kids got it a few weeks ago, and now, apparently, it was her turn. 

So out of the office door and into my car I went.  I got to the elementary school by 3:30, just in time to pick up Bud and Kelley.  From there, I think you all know the drill.  Take care of the wife, fit in a Teleconference call in between helping the kids with homework, laundry, dinner, showers and finally…..put the kids to bed. 

This doesn’t happen very often.  But when it does, it just reaffirms that I don’t want Peggy’s job.  I appreciate her so much when I have to step into her shoes for a day or two.   Dealing with the Short People (i.e. my kids) can be a real drain, no matter how much I love them.

6)  I think that seriously, I have had enough of the OctuMom . From all the TV shows (Dr. Phil, 20/20, Oprah, Larry King Live, etc) talking about her, to the absolutely insane guy who announced to the press this week that he might be the father of all 14 kids. Even the Grandfather has shown up on TV this week (Oprah show).  Octu-Grandfather

To top it off, OctuMom is behind $23,000 in back payments for her mortgage.  The house will go on the auction block in a little over a month if she doesn’t make the payments.

And you know – this story isn’t ever going to die.  Child Services in California is going to be watching this very closely.  Lord help us, if she can’t handle all the kids on her own and Child Services step in.  It will be another 2 month of relentless bashing of OctuMom on the air waves.

Is there any chance that all of us in the Blog World can start boycotting shows that won’t drop this story?
 

7)  I think I’m heading down the path of having a very interesting discussion with my 9 year old son. Our dog, Buck, will be going to the Vet on Monday. Can you say “snip, snip”?
 

My son keeps asking why our dog has to have a minor operation.  He is getting very concerned about the furry member of our family.   The answer that we give him, that we don’t want Buck to become a Daddy, isn’t going to satisfy him.  You can see the wheels turning in his head, every time the subject comes up.

At what age is it time for the birds and the bees talk?  I think it would be very interesting to get comments / opinions on the right time for the big talk  with our children.  Is now the time, or do I wait until he is older?

 

 

That’s the Seven Things I Think I Think, for this week.

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The Big Purchase

Before Peggy and I got married, we starting camping together.  At that time, my wife insisted that only TENT camping was REAL camping.  You see, her family is a group of hikers.  For them, if you don’t get blisters on your feet from a long hike – you really haven’t been camping. 

For me, camping gave me an excuse to be in the great outdoors and drink beer by the camp fire.  There really was nothing more to it than that for me.

My wife grew up feeling that those of us who used campers or travel trailers, weren’t really camping .  So for 12+ years we have been sleeping on the ground in our 6 man tent  (mind you, there was only 2 of us when we purchased this behemoth tent). As our family started to grow with children, the amount of dirt and additional items in our tent started to multiply.  Until last summer, that is.  Finally, my wife had had enough.  In fact, Peggy had an epiphany —that camping would be much more fun for our family with a camper! 

You have to understand, this was a breakthough equivalent to the invention of disposable diapers.  Who would ever go back, after purchasing them for the first time? Same thing with tents and campers.  Right? 

Of course, I immediatly agreed with my wife’s brilliant idea.   

As a result, my wife has been gently pushing for a camper or tent trailer since this magical idea was birthed last September.  It wasn’t until the last month or so, that I started looking in earnst for our first family camper.  We went to an RV show a few weekends ago, and quickly discovered that my Toyota 4Runner wasn’t going to easily pull the 25 foot campers I had in mind. 

Thus, we went to my parents mode of camping when I was a kid – the Tent Trailer (also known as “pop-up” trailers or Tent Campers). I grew up using the old Starcraft tent trailers.  They weren’t fancy, but they were light, easy to travel with, had plenty of sleeping space, and basically got you off the ground during your camping adventure. 

 This worked just fine for my brother, Dad, Mom and myself.  We werent the cross country camper types, but always enjoyed a few long weekends during the summer with our tent camper.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that today’s tent trailers have really evolved.  A 16 foot trailer expands to 28 feet with the sides (i.e. sleeping area) pulled out,. In addition, a side dining area slides out, giving you more room inside.  Hot water heater, air conditioner and a front storage trunk are all fairly standard with these now.

The best part is probably that we started shopping when the dealers are trying to unload the 2008 models.  The combination of the bad economy, and the dealer trying to dump his last two Fleetwood-Utah models, we ended up getting a great deal.   We pick up the trailer next weekend – needless to say we can’t wait.

So, while I’m patting myself on the back for getting such a great deal — I thought I would share with you our big purchase.  At the very least, it should give me some great material for this blog during the summer.

– Al

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1) I think the cost of professional tutoring for young children is out of line.  My 3rd grade son is in the bottom forth of his class in grammar and vocabulary.  I made the decision to have him tested at Sylvan and the C2 Learning Center.  The test results from both learning centers, which use different testing methods, basically told us the same thing —he needs a little help to get caught up.  For two visits a week (2 hours each visit), for a period of 5 months, I received quotes of over $3,500  from both learning centers! 

I don’t know about you, but that’s an awful lot of money for my wife and I.   I think, for my son’s sake, we are just going to have to find a way to pay for it.   

2) I think congratulations needs to go out to the “New Dad”.  After months of blogging about his wife’s pregnancy, little Reagan Ann came into the world on February 13th.  Who says only bad things happen on Friday the 13th?  I think I’m really looking forward to reading how he and his wife deal with diapers, sleepless nights and all the fun a newborn brings to your life.  http://new-dad-blog.com/

3) The old rhyme “Monkey see, monkey do” appears to be true as U.S. researchers say teens are 40 percent more likely to drink soda if their parents do.  According to the Center for Health Policy Research at the University of California, Teens are 16 percent more likely to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day if their parents do. 

So…..let me see if I get this right.  This means, that as parents, we are roll models.  How we behave, and what we do (including what we eat) has a direct impact on the behavior of our children – right?  I think our government didn’t need to give the University of California a grant to tell us this.  See the article at http://www.wilm.com/cc-common/news/sections/lifestylearticle.html?feed=104679&article=5019101

4) I think that Symantec Corporation is on to something.  They recently announced beta software for “Norton Online Family”.  It’s a different approach to connecting to our kids on-line lives, and protecting them from unwanted material and individuals.  It’s unique, in that it is supposed to guide dialog between the parents and kids about content they attempted to access but were denied. 

I think that this software is worth checking out.  If you’ve seen the beta, let me know what you think.   https://onlinefamily.norton.com

5)  I think I don’t know WHO to believe anymore, about the link between Autism and the vaccines for Measles / Mumps / Rubella.  Eleven years ago, a study was released that tied these injections to Autism.  In the last week, the London Times has issued investigative articles stating that the testing performed 11 years ago contained “altered data”.  As a result, the test results are unfounded and untrue. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/parenting/2009/02/the_original_vaccineautism_stu.html?hpid=topnews

In addition, a special court in Washington ruled on 2/11/09 that evidence presented in three cases by parents of children with autism did not prove a link between autism and certain early childhood vaccines (see story at http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/02/11/autism.vaccines/index.html?iref=newssearch). The court ruling went on to state that there is no link between Autism and these medications.

Now we are being told in editorials at CNN and the USA Today, that their is NO excuse for the kids not to get vaccinated.  So, what are we to believe? Do the have it right this time, or is there still some uncertainty about this? And, are we willing to risk our kids health on these vaccinations? 

As a family, we haven’t had our kids vaccinated due to the Autism scare. I think I’d like to know if you have, and if you feel its reasonable to do so.

6) I think I’m still learning how to handle those evenings, when I come home from work and my wife is having a small melt down regarding the kids.  Today my son came home with a note from the school, which said that he forgot to turn in some homework (again).  We have spoken to our 9 year old about turning in his home work on time, I’ve grounded him in the past, and taken away certain privileges.  So far, we haven’t gotten through to him about the importance of doings his homework on time and in the best way he can. 

To top it off, our kindergartner who never has issues at school, got into trouble for the first time.  She lied to the teacher, refused to apologize and lost her recesses for the next day (which is a huge deal for a 6 year old). The best part is, my wife was in the class room when this occurred (she volunteers a few days a week at the school). 

And if this wasn’t enough, my wife and son had a little spat about his Wii privileges.  Needless to say, my wife was having a full Conniption Fit by the time I came home.

I don’t know about other Dad’s, but I find it hard to stay calm when confronted with all these issues the minute I come in the door.  I’ve gotten much better during the last year – but there is still that little voice inside of me that wants to send everyone to their rooms for the next 5 days as a punishment – just so I can have some low-stress time at home.

Like I said before, I don’t know how stay-at-home Mom’s and Dad’s do it.  I ‘m sure I would be frustrated and upset, just like my wife, if I was having a bad day with the Short People in the house.

7) I think I am really enjoying the community of people I am meeting on-line through blogging.  There is a whole set of people with similar, and many with Dis-similar backgrounds and value systems out there.  In the last week, I’ve read blogs from a Mormon Dad, a new Dad, a single dad, a gay dad and several dad’s like myself (i.e. boring dads – straight, married, and somewhat religiously based). 

Through Dad.Blogs, I found another “new dad type” blog that I really like.   “Life of a new Dad” is about a father and his new born son – Branden.  He also writes about things that hit close to home for me, but for some reason I never thought about writing on;  such as the furry members of the house & how they have to adjust to the new baby, and his love for baseball (he’s a Cardinal’s fan, which isn’t so bad when you consider that I’m stuck with the Seattle Mariners).

I think what I like most about his blog, is that he is exactly the same age as I was when we had our first child.  I can really relate to where he is right now.  Check him out at:  http://lifeofanewdad.blogspot.com/

 

I think I’ve run out of time today—so that’s it for volume 5 of Seven Thinks I Think I Think.

 

 

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A few years ago, I began doing “Daddy Day” with my kids.  This is a day that I spend exclusively with one of my children, doing things that they enjoy (However I must admit, a few side trips to the grocery store or Home Depot have occurred during these days).  The intent is not the activity, but the time spent with each other.

My six year old daughter, Kelley, is very attached to this time together.  She seems to ask for them whenever I come back from business travel, or when I have spent more time with my son due to his sports or school activities.  An example of this was last weekend.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my son is attending a Friday evening soccer training camp in order to get prepared for Select Soccer tryouts.  On these evenings I take Bud to the training camp and stay to watch his progress.  In addition, my son has been struggling in school the last few months.  I now spend an hour each evening with him, going over his homework assignments. Unfortunately, this has slightly tilted my time with the kids in Bud’s favor.  Sensing this, my daughter had been asking for a Daddy Day for over two weeks.

Much to her delight, I announced last Sunday that it was going to be a “Daddy and Kelley Day”.  After Sunday morning church service, I asked her what she wanted to do.  Like most 6 year olds, she had an endless list.

We started off by going to Barnes and Noble (i.e. a book store).  As a kindergartner, she is beginning to read.  Fortuantely she has taken a real interest in reading, and on getting as many new kids books to read as possible.  We spent over an hour as she chatted away about each book she was considering.  Upon final selection, she announced that we were going to Red Robin for lunch (there seems to be a sense of entitlement that comes with Daddy Day’s – such as informing me of the next activity instead of asking).

I couldn’t help but get a big smile on my face when we entered Red Robin; as I listened to her explain to the hostess that it was a Daddy Day, and she chose to come their to eat. This, of course, earned her a Pink Red Robin Balloon from the Hostess and a Valentine’s sticker.  After she gobbled up a corn dog and fries, we left Red Robin with her small stash of loot – balloon, sticker and new crayons.  

My happy little girl got a bit spoiled on Sunday, but it was worth it.  She got my undivided attention for a few hours, and a number of mementos to show Mom when we got home.  In the end, these are the things that are most important to her (time with Daddy and some goodies to take home).

For me, its another way to stay involved with my kids and give them some 1-on-1 time.  Like a lot of parents, I seem to spend a little too much time with my job and more time than I would like on business travel.  Its actually a lot of fun having Daddy Day’s, because you really find out what’s going on in your kids lives.  I just hope my daughter never out grows our “Daddy and Kelley” time together.

I look forward to them almost as much as she does.  

-Al

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1) I think this weeks news has been rather —-strange.  First we have Michael Phelps and his Bong Binge (does this guy really think that having his picture taken while sucking on a bong, isn’t going to show up on the web and totally embarrass him?), followed by A-Rod admiting to steriod use, and finally the continuing drama with the Octuplets Mom.  Did you read where she plans on supporting her 14 children with her student loans?  She has no job, no husband, no apparent prospects and is on Food Stamps.

This just goes to show you, that it doesn’t matter how much fame you have, how rich or how poor your are……………there is no discriminating when it comes to a persons lack of Common Sense.  

2) I think that there is nothing that wipes out my wife more than sick kids.  Yesterday both of my kids were home from school.  Kelley, my 6 year old girl, has Pink Eye.  The doctor seems to believe that her lack of eye lashes is a contributing factor (see the post:  My Girl is Turning Into an Albino).  Bud missed school due to the head cold running ramped in his 3rd grade class.  My poor wife was playing nurse maid to both of them – which tends to test her nerves and patience.  It’s lots of fun coming home to sick kids and a worn our wife – as many of you know.
I have to give her, and the stay at home Dad’s, lots of credit. I don’t think I would want to deal with that all day.

3) I think I am having a tough time justifying the current trend of laws, aimed at people who smoke in their car when children are present.  Virginia is the latest state to put a new law into effect, which would fine adults $100.00 if they smoke in their car when kids are with them. 

I appreciate the intent of the state governments to protect our children from unhealthy circumstances.  However, I am struggling with our government trying to legislate how we raise our children.    

Again, this seems to fall under common sense.  Don’t smoke when your children are at risk of inhaling your second hand smoke (easy for a non-smoker to say, I know).  Do we really need a law to mandate this? How many more laws will be put into place which dictate the environment and methods we use to raise our children?  I think that as much as I appreciate the intent, these laws are sending us down the wrong path by restricting individual freedoms.

I would appreciate seeing your comments / opinion on this subject.

4) I think that there are few things in life I enjoy more, than having a friend or co-worker become a new Dad.   Sure, I’m happy that they have become a new parent.  But my sick sense of humor gets a huge kick out of the tired look on their faces, and stories of late night feedings & messy diaper changes (been there, done that).  Do I need professional help, because I get so much joy out of their pain and suffering?

5) Are you open minded, and ready to try out another Dad type Blog?  Go visit Phat Freddy http://www.phatphreddy.blogspot.com/ for a different point of view on fatherhood.  How this guy is able to post as much as he does is beyond me.  Freddy is an openly gay Father of a four year old son. His posts cover a long list of subjects, including his immediate family. If nothing else, you will have to admit that  he never holds back on his opinions.  If homosexuality makes you uneasy, I challenge you to give this long time blogger a read anyhow.  I always get a laugh or a bit of an education from reading his stuff.  I think its worth your time to check out Phat Freddy. After all, there is nothing worse than a closed mind.

6) I think Valentines day has a whole different meaning when you have kids.  My kids are anxiously awaiting each of their class parties this Friday.  They have been busy getting their two-faced valentines cards ready for their classmates, and looking forward to getting cards and candy hearts from their friends. 

My wife is busy baking Valentine cookies for the kids, and arranging for a small present for each of them.  Dinner on February 14th will be a family event, as opposed to a hot date with my wife. 

It’s definitely become more of a kid centric holiday in my home.  And that’s just fine by me.

7)  I think that this will be my last comment about (the lack of) common sense.  A man in South Florida faces charges after he called 911 to complain that a fast-food restaurant ran out of his favorite drink.   Boynton Beach police said 66-year-old Jean Fortune was at a Burger King Friday, when a cashier told him they didn’t have any lemonade.

Fortune said the cashier also told him he would have to wait 15 minutes for his food, because the food wasn’t ready. That’s when he called 911.

Operator: “You cannot dial 911 because you’re unhappy with your burger OK? Have you given them any money?”

Fortune: “No.”

Operator: “No? Have they given you any food?”

Fortune: “No.”

Operator: “No? Ok then you can drive away sir.”

Fortune is being charged for abusing 911 communications.  I hope the fine is huge.  I think that you can’t put a price tag on people doing stupid things.

 

Finally, I think it would be good common sense to conclude this weekly posting of  “Seven Things I Think I Think”.

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On my blog last week, I whined about my wife’s current interest in “Couple’s Classes” (see the entry: Seven Things I Think  – Vol 3).  On Friday evening, we went to a movie event targeted at couples. 

All I can say is……..When I’m wrong, I’m really wrong.  This was really worth the time spent.

 

 Along with approximately 30 other couples, we watched a movie called “Fireproof”.  It’s the story of a firefighter who lives by the old fire-fighter’s adage: Never leave your partner behind.  Unfortunately, this strong held belief does not pertain to his marriage.

 

fireproof1

 

In addition to the “Backdraft” type movie action; the story outlines the failing marriage of the fire chief and his wife.  Neither one understands the pressures the other faces.  Much like myself a number of years ago, he believes that his wife is too sensitive and doesn’t show him the respect he deserves.

 

The wife claims that he is insensitive and that he “doesn’t listen” to her.  Sound familiar???  It hit home with me.

 

The path he takes to save his marriage is at the heart of the movie.  I can’t recommend it enough.  My wife and I have been talking about this movie all week. 

 

If you want to do something special for your wife for Valentines day, rent this movie and watch it with her.  I guarantee that it will change the way you think of your relationship with your wife. 

 Happy Valentine’s Day – Al

 fireproof-2

 

 

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I have a secret. 
One which I have kept from my closet friends for almost 2 years now.  But it’s time to admit it………

I belong to a ….. Gourmet Dinner Club (gasp!). 

The reason my wife and I joined a dinner club, had something to do with the welfare of my marriage or my general safety — I can’t remember exactly what she said to me a the time.

All that I CAN remember was that we apparently weren’t spending enough time with other couples.  We needed to “get out” more. 

So “get out” we did.

There is apparently some joy to meeting new people over a course of Oyster & Brie soup, that I was unaware of.  After all, I’m happy with Red Hook Beer and a steak with my family.  I never realized that I was missing anything.

So with a deep desire to be a good husband, and a personal fear of what I was going to be forced to eat, my wife and I joined a Gourmet Dinner Club.  After 2 years of meeting every other month for dinner with our group, I have made a few observations.  In no particular order, my observations about Gourment Dinner Clubs are:

1) Each dinner seems to include drinking 3-4 bottles of wine, which makes almost anything taste OK to me (exceptions include Escargot and squid).

2) You get to learn new terms, such as:
            a) FARCE: A French expression for stuffing, as in “honey, don’t farce your face at the table”. 
            b) DRIVEL:  The inedible secretions of snails.
            c) PEMMICAN: A Cree Indian word, which roughly translated means “the least food with the greatest nourishment”.  I refer to it as Trail Mix.
            d) FIASCO: A round bottomed Italian bottle
                                   (or as I refer to it………….. my Mother in Law)
            e) RECIPE: A series of step-by-step instructions for preparing ingredients you forgot to buy, in utensils you don’t own, to make a dish the dog won’t eat
             f) TONGUE: A variety of meat, rarely served because it clearly crosses the line between a cut of beef and a piece of dead cow.

3) Third, there seems to be a requirement for bragging about the successes of your children in sports and school.  No Gourmet Dinner Parent I have ever met has: (a) ever had a child struggle in school, and (b) never had a child that didn’t lead his/her youth soccer/baseball/volleyball/football team in scoring.  

4) Interestingly, 60% of all Gourmet Dinner parents claim to have at least one (1) “Gifted” child.

5) No one will admit that anything prepared for the dinner is unfit for eating. It doesn’t matter how burnt or bizarre the course is, it is always “wonderful”.

6)  The amount of dishes left for you to wash after a Gourmet Dinner Club event in your home, surpasses even Christmas and Thanksgiving.  Since the husband rarely cooks anything for the Gourmet Dinner, the dishes are delegated to him by his better half.   

In summary, the only thing that stops me from shooting myself in order to avoid participating in another Gourmet Dinner, is my wife.   She doesn’t know exactly how silly I think this whole gastronomic misadventure is; but she clearly knows that its not my favorite thing to do on a Saturday night. 

For that reason, I don’t fuss or complain.  I get extra brownie points for being a good husband and doing something that is not my thing.  Instead, I just asked for another glass of wine, and pretend that the Oyster floating in the middle of my soup is really an over-sized Buffalo Wing.

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