Monday, December 30, 2013

Nonstop This

So ever since Christmas we have at least an hour or two a day of this. Sailor is getting a little better but is still a little apprehensive. Ruby is fast and random and collisions have happened a couple times. Usually I end up on the trampoline near the edge holding Sailor, making Ru stop so Sailor can test the waters and get a few jumps in before Ruby's enthusiasm is too much to contain and she resumes bouncing much to Sailor's chagrin. Any time I can get my hands on Ruby her heart is about to beat out of her chest. Sailor's beats fast too. I look forward to a time soon where they will both be comfortable enough to just get in and wear themselves out and we can just bring them in, peel their clothes off and dump them into bed.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Twas the weekend before Christmas...

My first thought was something along the lines of  "damn that is a big box and this is not going to be fun." Taking advice from my mother and her past experiences with this sort of thing, I elected not to wait until Christmas Eve to assemble this beast. In the event that were any items missing I would have vastly more options to source the needed parts if I did it the Saturday before.
That is my friend Nick in the middle there. He is a great sport in case you can't tell. That said, I made him a big breakfast and bought his lunch in exchange for the labor. Should he have ordered two servings of filet mignon, I still would have gotten the better deal. 
Halfway through the process, it started to rain. It is hard to read instructions when the ink on the installation booklet runs and the pages all stick together. If the trampoline falls apart, I blame the elements. It is sad when you have to argue about who gets to go under the top to tighten bolts. Thankfully the safety net was pretty straight forward and we were able to call it done right after we hit the three hour mark. 
Word to the wise on this one, get more than 4 hours sleep before tackling trampoline assembly and if you can avoid it, don't do it hungover. Thank you Ultega not only for a superior affordable product that will keep my children occupied for hours but also for the reminder that I am no longer in my twenties and unlike my children on this trampoline, I no longer simply bounce back.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

USS Flagg Revisited

While doing a little Christmas prep work this weekend (more on that later this week) I was reminded of this post. I really enjoyed talking with my Mom about it when I wrote it and doing so brought back some great memories. Well, for some of us that is. Here it is as it first appeared on December 23rd, 2011, posted in its entirety. Enjoy.

Christmas Eve and The USS Flagg

So it's Christmas Eve, the kids are asleep and the first of many beers have been opened. It is time to start Operation: Fit Plastic Into Plastic aka Operation: Shit, We Don't Have Enough Batteries. There is a decent amount for for me to assemble this year but it could never compare to The USS Flagg.

The Flagg was the GI Joe Battleship playset. The retail cost was $109.99 in 1986, roughly $215.00 today. This was the largest playset available at the time and was over 7.5 feet long. I was eight or nine according to a credible source who was interviewed for this entry (thanks Mom) and I wanted it for Christmas. My parent's hope was that I would lose interest over the span of a year but when I asked for it again, they caved. What followed was a harrowing experience...

The picture at the beginning of this entry is of my father early on in assembly. He started the night before Christmas and continued until it was evident that a single night would not get the job done. The process continued into the following day and covered a span of over eight hours. From my online research, the instruction manual was six pages long with thirty-one steps, each of which may have had as many as four steps unto itself. Two of these pages were dedicated to sticker instructions. You can see the sticker sheet in the photo above. There were two additional sticker sheets of this size to apply.

Mom remembers that my father complained about the quality of the directions. I've looked that them online and they don't seem too bad but I also realize that is easy to say twenty-five years later when I'm not sitting in front of literally hundreds of little plastic parts that I have to make a seven foot aircraft carrier out of. My father also had to work on Christmas, the last thing you would want to do after a night and morning like this one. Dad said if he knew the trouble it would have been he would not have bought it for me. He listed this as his worst Christmas ever...

To me, this was the most awesome Christmas ever! Other kids in the neighborhood could have cared less about what was under their trees...we wore this thing out. It was so big we kept it on a bed in a spare room. That's right, this toy had it's own bed in our house. It's kind of a bragging right to say that you had it, some people don't even believe me (kind of like when you say you beat Ghosts 'n Goblins on NES, but that's another story). A cook at a restaurant near the house I grew up in has made reference to the Flagg when talking to Mom about times he came to the house to hang out as a child.

At some point the fun wore off and the playset, which broke into sections, was moved to the basement. It was later sold at a garage sale for $25.00. Mom says that Dad joked that there was a thousand dollars of labor thrown in for free. It had to be loaded into the buyer's station wagon in pieces, an event that a part of me seems to remember after talking to my mom about it. On a side note, this toy has become a Holy Grail of sorts for collectors. A bad example with missing pieces and no box will sell for $500.00. A complete set, in the box, may go for a thousand or more.

Parents will do damn near anything to make their kids happy. I'm not looking forward to the assembly I have to do this weekend but I know how much it meant to me as a kid to have those things on Christmas morning and I want to give that feeling to my children. I also want them to know the REAL meaning of Christmas and the feeling of love and family. I hope you are able to share all of these things with your children and loved ones this weekend.

 Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2013


Last week Mom helped the girls decorate gingerbread houses. At supper club the kids decorated a gingerbread man. This week olivia baked cookies and let the girls decorate those. I love the festive mentality of "lets stick candy to stuff with icing." I'm starting think we need more of this throughout the year. There are not enough things in my life that are embellished with brightly covered candy pieces. The houses have been brightening our den from the top of the entertainment center. If you don't know why they are up there, it is a safe bet that you don't have children. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree

Last week we decided that Saturday morning would be reserved for erecting our Christmas tree. In case you cannot tell from the picture, this is a very old fake tree and some of the lights are out. We have chosen to augment with an additional strand of lights. It works. One of the big perks of a fake tree, no shedding of needles, escapes us as sure enough this one seems to drop them in droves any time you go near it. The wife and I have decided that this will be out last year with this tree...which may change after I see the price tags of new trees. All of this said, the girls had a blast decorating it. We drank hot chocolate and listened to Christmas music. It was a pretty excellent morning and a fitting kick off for our family's celebration of the holiday.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tis the Season

So earlier this week the girls came into the room and told me they needed to put on a show. This type of declaration usually results in greatness so I grabbed the camera. By the way I am pretty sure she is saying "in a one horse open bear." Yep, that's my girls.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Memories of Color

So Sailor colored on the big screen television last week. No big deal. There was a time under this roof when my reaction to such a thing would not have been so calm. In fact, it reminded me of a previous post from the early days of this blog. Here it is, from December 16, 2011. Enjoy.


Ruby likes coloring. She is just now getting to the point where she can stay (almost) in the lines. For a long time she would just make scribbles and furious lines in varying colors all over the paper. When paper got old she started coloring on other things, like the fridge or the couch or her toys. Nothing was safe from her waxy touches of self-expression.

I woke up Wednesday morning and was going about my normal routine. Things were going well, nothing out of the ordinary. Hot coffee, breakfast, computer on, olivia was out the door and Ruby was content with her cereal. Maybe I am partially to blame for what happened. I get distracted by e-mail, facebook, twitter, blogs, etc. I'm going to tell the rest of the story through the text messages that went back and forth between me and the wife. I apologize for the lack of pictures...I was a little distraught and it slipped my mind. For clarity, my texts are in yellow, my wife's in red.

     Me: Ruby colored on the f#%*ing tv...

     olivia: Oh no. 


     olivia: Deep breaths.

     Me. Going

     Me: To

     Me: Kill

     Me: Her.

     olivia: Do I need to come home.

     Me: No, you'll need to be as far away as possible so you don't go down with me. 

     olivia: Remember she's only two. 

     Me: She's about to be zero...

     olivia: You better not hurt my baby. 

     Me: She hurt mine...

     olivia: lol. I'm gonna hurt you.

Thankfully it came out with a paper towel, water, and a little elbow grease. I'm glad we buy the washable, non-permanent crayons and markers. Never a dull moment... 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Interview With a Two Year Old

The girls are used to being on camera a lot and they love it often asking to take pictures or make videos. We had some time to kill on a doctors visit some time ago. This is the result.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Elf on the Mantle

     Yep, it is that time again. Thanksgiving's stuffed and bloated behind is barely through the door when Christmas comes along providing the swift, jolly kick to push it through. Poor Thanksgiving. If there is a red-headed step child amongst the holidays, it truly is you. Smart money says if we started giving gifts at Thanksgiving, its reputation would be vastly improved. Certainly Thanksgiving's PR rep thought of this and realized America did not need two Black Fridays in a single year. 
      After lunch we were in such a rush to be merry after our eating and drinking that we watched the new Elf on the Shelf movie, An Elf's Story. Speaking of PR reps, if there was anything that could guarantee that an elf would appear on every shelf in America it was an animated film. If this was not already a certifiable cultural phenomenon, the deal has been sealed. Our girls have been going nuts over this one asking to watch it again and again, good prep work now that our elf has arrived. More or less a half hour commercial, the movie teaches the kids about the importance of not touching the elf and the important part, that he is Santa's spy. 
     I'm not sure at what point Santa became so involved in espionage. Actually, it kind of begs the question, what gave the Elf on the Shelf people the right to re-write or alter the Christmas mythology? I mean, what would be to stop me from saying "all right, lets not forget the part of Christmas where everyone sends me $29.95." More or less, that is what they have done. They came up with a very clever way to make money off the holiday. I don't remember anything in the carols about these elves being a part of Santa's omnipresent nature. That and I fear that one day my Children will realize that if the elf isn't around they don't have to worry about behaving.
     All that said, next year I am going to release my own version, The Elf on the Mantle. The only difference will be that my elves are in your home year round so you can keep your kids in check. Instead of Christmas garb their will be a whole line of clothes for different holidays throughout the year. We'll even have outfits for Thanksgiving. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bad Report

My mind is drawing a bit of a blank on whether or not I have mentioned this yet so in case I haven't, Ru and Sailor are both attending preschool part time this year. Last week, Sailor got her first bad report. While picking her up from school, her teacher informed me that she had been uncooperative, not listening, talking back, not participating and she started a fight with her sister on the playground. At home she has been flexing her terrible two muscles and pushing and testing our boundaries. Her attitude is always pretty great but their are pockets of defiance and rebellion. I have been shaming myself a bit and wondering what has made her act like this. Ruby has never had a bad report though we have had trying times with her in the home and she wasn't in preschool at Sailor's age so the situation is truly unique to us. In any case, we had a serious talk with her and before she goes back next week we are going to have another one to remind her how not to act. Lets hope this isn't the beginning of something and that this will be the last bad report of her preschool career. I am sure some will follow from k-12 but she got off to an early start.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Stinky Pie

On the way home from school last week, the girls were asking about our lunch plans. We make a menu weekly but if they don't want what is on the books I will do my best to accommodate. I started to razz them a bit. I told them lunch was dirt sandwiches and a bag of leaves. They got a real kick out of this and wanted something even better so I went on and on with all the gross things I could think of. Eventually I asked Ruby what she wanted. Her response was "dirty seat-belt with cockroaches and stinky pie." Not sure exactly what it was that set me off but I lost it over the phrase "stinky pie". The result was all of us in hysterics all the way to the house. In the end, we settled on pb&j and chips. I am not sure we had the ingredients on hand to bake a stinky pie anyways. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Coffee Talk

Its been quite a while since I talked about my coffee problem. In addition to last week's curve ball, I received a couple coffee related gifts and I thought it was high time I touched on this again. First, my friend Kellet gave me an entire pound(!) of Starbucks Christmas Espresso Blend. It is not ground, which is awesome because I can grind it right before I prepare it. In case you've forgotten, her gift of the espresso machine was my gateway into addiction. Next up, my excellent and thoughtful wife grabbed me some Kahlua Mocha Coffee to keep me company over the weekend. It was excellent. She recently made the switch to decaf which means for convenience sake, I made the switch to decaf. I haven't had espresso around for awhile and it feels good to get jittery again. Thanks guys, much appreciated.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Silver Lining

Silver lining, half full, rose colored glasses...whatever you want to call it, as I've gotten older I try more and more to look at things this way. It isn't always easy for me as my past protocol was just to brood. These days, life is a lot better because I choose for it to be. This past weekend was planned for motorcycles and friends but ended up being a great one-on-one daddy/daughter weekend for me and Sailor. There is occasionally a struggle for attention under our roof and while we try to divide equally, sometimes taking the struggle out of the picture works best. I wish all of the unplanned roads we find ourselves on were this rewarding. That said, I will take the really good ones whenever I can get them. 

Friday, November 15, 2013


Taken quickly and stealthily from the entryway, the three peas in a pod wake up with cartoons and off-brand Cheerios. From the first minute pulling away from the suburbs towards the downtown bus station to the moments last night as they closed their eyes to meet their dreams, the girl's week was made just by her being here. I am tempted to say "Damn Texas" but as she is loved and family is everywhere, it would be selfish to keep her all to ourselves. Proximity is so unfortunate but we'll squeeze every ounce of life from our 52 hours and if by some miracle we were gifted a 53rd, it still would not be soon enough.