Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Year Three of She Still Hasn't Dumped Me...

It’s nice to know you have someone in your corner, someone who sees you at your worst, like that bathroom mirror just before you notice it and strike a pose out of habit. You know the pose, sucking in, chin jutted out, making that ducky face. Just me? Okay then.  But through it all, I have my wife—even if she is making fun of me most of the time.

Today marks year three in our marriage. And things are better than I could have imagined. First of all, we’re still together, no small feat because I’m not easy to live with. I’m neurotic, childish, self-conscious, not to mention impulsive. And then I have my faults…

But despite it all our marriage is humming along. Today won’t be the most romantic evening in the world, as I still leave dishes in the sink and she still leaves hair in the drain. But hey, it's real life, not a romantic comedy. What we do have is a healthy son, our own health, and a home to live in, and all of that is pretty romantic in itself. I can add the comedy, intentional or not. 

My wife and I don’t do big, extravagant gifts, but we do us pretty well. So here’s to years four, and five, and fifty. Hopefully the 45 in between will run smoothly as well...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Growing, Growing, Gone...

Today, my kid is a year and a half old. Wow. I would say the time has flown by, because it has, but then again it feels like my life has always been this way. Everything about being a dad feels normal and natural and I couldn’t imagine life any other way. This was not always the case...

Nope, whatever progress I’ve made in the being a parent department has come despite my kicking and screaming. After all, you don’t just wake up this refined, there were a few bumps along the way.

Not too long ago, I couldn’t handle toys strewn across the living room and down the hallway, screeching babies, or eating breakfast over the sink. I squimed at just the thought of changing diapers or washing butts. I was the guy who didn’t want to hold your baby.  

That guy is long gone. Today, I’m battle tested and ready. I've wiped away drool with my finger, gone to work only to find urp on my shirt, slobber and snot on my sleeves. I've been on the wrong end of a diaper change, and lived to type about it. Yes, I’d say I’ve come a long way.

When she was pregnant, I remember my wife trying to prep me for Dad duty, sneaking in little tidbits of information about what was ahead. Usually I’d just nod and laugh, telling her not to talk while Dexter was on while at the same time trying to hide the panic building in my thoughts. Dexter was scary, but having a kid was horrifying.

Those long, self-serving days, when I could only focus on one thing at a time, like shoveling food in my own mouth or watching television. Television. Good one, watching six or seven sitcoms druing the week. Six or seven! About the equivalent to how many minutes of tv we now watch over the course of an entire day now.

So my son’s not the only one growing here. It's a team effort. The other day I’d just gotten home from work and run the dogs around the woods and we were all in the kitchen. My wife had been doing some laminating job for school and there were shreds of paper all over the house. Simon and I sat on the floor, tossing the white strips of paper in the air and I watched him giggle and squeal as the streams of paper fell on his head.. And just in that little moment, I knew that everything I needed in the world was right there

Corny? Maybe, but honest. My life has changed so much in the past ten years, five years, and it was hurled into a different world a year and a half ago. But it's a world I like, and the best part is that it’s only getting better…

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Vacation Day...

With my wife and kid back home, I took a vacation day from work to catch up with my two favorite people. It was weird being off on a Wednesday, and the day itself started out like a Saturday, morphed into a Sunday, and then bounced back to hump day by evening. Not a bad deal.

The day was perfect from the moment I woke up. The sun was already out and the birds were singing an enchanting little...okay it wasn't much different. But as I lay in bed, listening to my son talking in his room, at least until I noticed my wife watching me stare at the ceiling grinning like a goofball. Everybody was happy to be home.

After breakfast, and some much needed vacuum time, we set out for some guy time at the park. I left my phone at home. We were flying under the radar. No pictures or social media. Just two guys roaming the world (or a three mile radius of our house, but you get the idea).
We started at the nature trails. I pushed Simon along in the stroller, but I could tell he wanted out, so instead we packed it up and tried the nearby school. That way I could let him roam around and play on the swing set and in those portable toilets he loves so much. 

And what a great idea that was--the school, I was kidding about the toilets--because as fate would have it, we pulled up to find a hot air balloon hovering right there in the football field.

Yeah, what timing. A big, fat, colorful balloon was just sitting there, waiting for us as we got out of the car. Kids were laughing and cheering along on the track like they were at a parade. It was a parenting jackpot.
I reached for my phone, but then remembered we were off the grid, which was good because instead I just watched the reflection of the balloon in the gleam of his wide open eyes. We never made it near the field because he was content to just stand there and stare. The balloon was anchored down with ropes and only going up a few feet for rides in the basket. But to him it may as well been a rocket launch.
After a while, we did end up going to the park where we slid the slides and ran around and he pointed out every morsel of trash. Later that afternoon, we went for a neighborhood walk and then took a family trip to the grocery store. 
Was it Disney Land? Nah. Sea World? Nope. The carnival? Only if you count the one inside my head. But it was exactly what this dad needed.
The day was perfect. I mean sure, it wasn’t without some fits and tantrums and a few tears. But we got through it. And while I don’t have the greatest job in the world, I am fortunate to have those days to take off, because time can be the greatest gift of all. 
Okay, enough clich├ęs. But I'm thinking that taking vacation days to be with my son sounds like a really good idea. Because looking back, I’ll remember his face watching that balloon. And that I was there, and I was trying. And that a four day work week isn't too shabby...



Saturday, July 12, 2014


I’m sitting down after a spate of activity that was as unlikely as my very productive hangover. Yeah, it’s Day, five, or is it six. Hell I don’t know, it’s been too long since I’ve seen my family, and last night I went to happy a bar...with friends.  All kinds of unlikeliness going on around here lately.

Yeah, so those beers last night? About that. I woke up with a painful reminder why I don’t go to happy hours or bars anymore.
I slept in, coming to at a very slacker-like 8:47 on a Saturday morning. A few aching blinks, then I crawled out of bed at a time that under normal circumstances I'd first start thinking about lunch. I plod to the kitchen for coffee, the dogs are tapping their paws and waiting on their walk.
I nibble on toast, sipping coffee, turning on the television to find a documentary on the organ black market, thinking, Why would there be a black market for an instrument? Oh wait. Perfect, I need a liver.
Shaking the fog, I get the dogs outside where the fresh morning air works its magic. The sluggish start to my morning begins to fade and I feel less and less like a wad of chewed gum, which is good because I've got a lot to do. With three days to go, I need to get cracking on my projects.
Back home, I knock back two Ibuprofen and then cut the grass. Then it really was time for lunch.  And that’s when this happened:
You see my wife buys those Morningstar fake burgers, which, while I can dress them up and get them down okay, sometimes a guy just wants a burger. And being untethered and left free to make impulse decisions...well the results are quite disastrous. And oh so tasty...
I take a moment to let the rock in my stomach to digest, then it’s on to the sun room. I get the floor painted. With all the tiles and nails up, I ran into a few problems when I tried to paint the other night, attempting to use an oil based porch paint but the room was just too enclosed. I fought through it, at least until I started seeing the little green men. But now with my trusty water based paint that will hopefully rinse out of my hair (don't ask), I think I'm going to be okay.

*On a side note, if you've noticed that this blog has gone to crap with nonsensical ramblings since my wife's been gone then all I can tell you is that they'll be home soon...

Alright, moving along. My hangover is long gone and I’m gaining momentum. Next on the list is the hallway. What does every room in the house have that the hallway doesn't? Shoe molding. Do you know how many times I’ve heard the words shoe molding over the last couple of years? Exactly...
Well, the shoe molding is down. I feel good about the day. All of it--most of it. I’m done. Hang on…
Okay, I’m back, and the following is totally true. While I was writing this blog, I looked over at an old faded wooden chair that I’d brought in from the sun room so that I could paint the floor. I can't put that in there, I thought, it could ruin the presentation. So I hopped up, grabbed the chair, hauled it out back, sanded it down, and then slapped on a coat of polyurethane. Seriously, that just happened. I'm losing my mind....
Ta Da...

Tomorrow I’ll tackle the debris of tools and sawdust and paint and cereal boxes and beer cans, but for now, I've gotta make dinner. Tonight it will be grilled cheese, if only I can find the iron....



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Day Two...

On day two I get started on the entranceway, ripping up the diarrhea colored school tiles and getting ready to paint the concrete floor. We’ve done so much with this old house, but it seems like there’s still so much left to do.
To Do List

Oh, well, I snag a beer from the fridge and get cracking, chipping away at the tiles and breathing the sweet, tangy taste of asbestos.

The dogs are confused. There’s loud music, no kid, no wife. Just sweat, beer and some manly grunting that may or may not sound like a little old lady crying.

I’m hauling things out of the sunroom to the carport, and I can just feel the testosterone in air. This place is like a frat house. A frat house with singing toys and a high chair and aww…he left his little shoes. They’re so cute in my hands. I miss his little feet, the little chubby rolls on his arms and legs.
I hear a voice in my head, it's yelling. "Snap out of it you pansy!"

Okay, okay, I’ve got my shop vac out. I stare at it, overturned on the floor. My son would be so jealous, he has a thing for vacuum cleaners, the kid is obsessed. Another pang of guilt ripples through my stomach, or that could be the tacos. Either way, I miss that kid.

I miss him holding the water bottle in my mouth while I lay down on the kitchen floor. (long story, but sure gets a kick out of enhanced interrogation).

I miss those little morning chats with himself when he wakes up in the morning.

I miss…you know what, I’m not doing this. "Man up dammit!"

Smacking myself silly, i pull myself together. 

Back to work…

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Day One...

My wife and son, along with my wife's best friend and her kids, have piled into a mini van and hit the road for their annual trip to North Country. For those keeping score, that's two women, a seven year old, a three year old, and a year and a half year old. I will hang back and retain my sanity hold the fort down.

Not to worry, I have a list of projects to complete and some television to catch up on, and I’m wasting no time getting started. But first, supplies.

I hit up Walmart where I buy a family size box of Apple Jacks. I like Apple Jacks because they’re nutritional (hence the Apple), and yet still delicious. It’s a cereal that straddles the line between healthy and tasty and at 14 months shy of 40, I feel an air of maturity as I pass up the Cocoa Pebbles. I grab milk and beer and I head for the register, proud of myself for just getting the necessities.

This is 40
Back at the house, I begin project number one, polishing up my son’s floors. I get a coat of polyurethane down and open the windows, thinking, maybe I should have done that in a different order. But I wanted to get this done first so that any fumes would be clear before my son was back. Hopefully those flying elephants will be gone by then as well.

With the dogs walked, the shopping done, and the first coat of poly on the floors, I take a hiatus from the whirlwind of productivity that is swirling throughout the house with the fumes. Time for a movie. This is 40 (I’m noticing a theme here). When the movie came out, I remember thinking that I wanted to see it. Now, two years later, with four servings of Apple Jacks crammed into my bowl; I decide to do just that.

Settling in with the dogs, it seems I've forgotten just how long movies are, and I’m maybe a half hour in when I remember that I should water the plants. After all, I wouldn't want my wife to come home to find all of her flowers wilting and starved, so I pause the move, water the garden and get sidetracked when I think of how much my son loves the hose. Then I return to the movie.

This is strange. I’m so used to my evening routine with the fam. Play, his dinner, play, our dinner, play, bath, scream bloody murder, bed. Repeat. Now I’m lost without it, it’s just…..shouldn’t I be enjoying this more? Usually, I’m dreaming of spare time and now I have a block of it, all of the silence I could wish for....and it’s weird.

But seriously, how did I used to sit down for an entire movie? Before the kid, my wife and I would watch marathons of tv shows and movies. But now my brain is just not used to sitting and I can't shut it down. I feel this nagging need to be, *gulp*, productive. Thanks a lot, honey...

The movie is funny, but I don’t finish it, I have all week. Tomorrow, I’m planning to paint the entrance way, so maybe I can catch the rest of it while the paint dries.  

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

All Done...

With what seems like thousands of toys in our house, it only makes sense that my son loves the garden hose and the vacuum more than anything else in his precious little life. Sure, toss him a ball and he’ll roll it around….for about three seconds, show him a book and you may have a couple of minutes. But break out that hose or vacuum, and then get out of the way...

It all started when we had to get a new water main dug in and we were left with a forty foot trench in our front yard. So we had to plant grass, which means we had to water the grass, which means that now if my son goes into the front yard, he wants that hose, like really wants the hose.

At first it was cute, and we posted pictures of our little helper:

Just look at that concentration, this guy is really into it. But what the picture doesn't show is the drama of saying the words, All done before turning the water off, then trying to gently wrestle the hose from his chubby little fist as he produces apocalyptic wails of agony that leave the neigbors turning their heads and peeking out the windows. It’s bad, we're talking, looking for a squad car to slow in front of the house, bad.

Okay, so that’s the hose situation. Inside, we have the vacuum cleaner situation. Every morning—sometimes bare butt after escaping a diaper change—my son rushes out to the hallway closet, frantically pointing to the door, because he knows. It's there. It being the noisy monster on wheels with hoses and cords and suction, the tormentor of four legged creatures, and the waker of anyone trying to steal an additional minute of Sunday morning sleep.

It being the vacuum cleaner.

We can't even utter the V word in his prescence. Let this dude near the vacuum cleaner and go ahead and clear your morning schedule. It's on, so to speak, and observations of this love/hate relationship with this machine could fill a medical journal. 

And no matter where you store that vacuum, he’s going to find it. It’s like he has a GPS on that thing. So in the end we always allow a little vacuum cleaner time, because, well, it’s not going to hurt to clean up a little around our house. But it’s never enough. Once you turn it on it stays on. My son will vacuum until the threads of the rug fray, until the vacuum starts to moan with exhaustion, until the dogs start to chew the walls with nervous energy, until we finally have to say the two words that send him into a tailspin of agony and tears: All done.

 All Done brings with it the pout lip. His eyes well as the tears gather strength and pour down those rounded cheeks. He’ll look to the sky. Why father? Why must we be all done? Yeah, I blame the drama on his Mama.

Then, the other night he woke up crying. Only for a minute or so, and then he fell back asleep and all was calm in the house. My wife rolled over to me and asked if I thought he had nightmare. I suppose, I said, but really, what could he possibly have nightmares about?  There was only one thing we could think of: All Done.