Month: July 2008

Behind every memory…is a Coffee Mug?

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If there’s an adult male in your house over the age of 32, it’s a pretty good bet that if Gordon Elliott and the cast of “Doorknock Dinners” were to suddenly show up at your house and go scrounging through your pantry, they’d find a number of unmatched coffee mugs, complete with various pictures, logos and catch-phrases.

I thought about this as I was emptying the dishwasher and trying to find a place for some of our mugs the other day. Now, CareerMom is an avowed packrat, and I’m generally a “tosser” (and not in a British kinda way). I don’t generally get sentimental over knick-knacks so its easy for me to just throw things out. Not so with CareerMom.

So I was a bit surprised at myself as I rearranged our current coffee mug inventory, to find that there were some, that for whatever reason, I just couldn’t throw out. Some of those mugs are like little markers pointing at some very good, and bad times in my life and I’m hesitant to get rid of them.

If you’re interested, come…walk with me:

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I got this mug at the Georgia Renaissance Festival back in 2000. CareerMom and I had just gotten married the fall prior and I had quit a very lucrative contract job (making the same money 9 years ago that I’m making now) so I could move back to Atlanta and get married. I remember that we really didn’t have much spending cash, but I really wanted one of these cool mugs (filled at the time of purchase, with beer) because it was really hot outside and because I really liked the mug. So, CareerMom bought it for me and I’ve treasured it ever since.

 

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I grew up in Alabama, and though I wasn’t lucky enough to go to the U. of Alabama, I will forever be a fan! CareerMom got her B.A. at U. of Texas and did her graduate studies at Georgia Tech. And though we don’t actually use these cups much, they are as much a part of our lives as anything else. I just can’t seem to part with them.

ROLL TIDE!

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Much like my career, this mug symbolizes the hayday of my single life. I was young, I took contract jobs where I often got to do very fun and different things. One time, I worked for a railroad company planning a large telecommunications rollout. Part of my job was to help complete some maps. This was in the day before everything was on the Internet, so I was poring over what few maps were available on the Internet, plus some maps on CD to figure out where the railroad tracks went across the U.S. The logo on this mug has long since worn off, but the underlying color is still there, shiny and bright. I don’t even remember specifically where I got it; only that it meant something special at the time. Still does really…

 

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…the hell did this come from?

Looks like something CareerMom got in a crappy “Thank You” basket at at a baby shower.
It’s outta here!

 

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CareerMom brought this mug, along with a set of platters and such when we got married. I think I’ve seen a similar set at Target on and off over the years. But we pull these mugs out around the Christmas holidays. They are a beautiful green with a snowy scene on them that reminds me of the “Christmas that could be.” We will probably never have a white Christmas here in Atlanta, but like seeing the first leaves drop and feeling that first bite of cool Canadian air in October, these mugs always lift my spirits a bit.

 

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When MLE was born, I wanted to make something the people could keep. So, I took this, one of the first pictures I took of him, and had a mug made up and sent it to all of our family members. For very obvious reasons, I can never throw this one out.
I thought about this cup this morning as I was eating breakfast and MLE came down and asked to sit in my lap. I really love that little guy!

 

IMG_2327CareerMom brought this and another mug like it back from San Francisco recently.Not that I’m a fan of San Fran mind you, but the mugs are very interesting. The  scenery is raised on the mug making it a very tactile drinking experience. They also hold a LOT of coffee, which is a boon in the mornings when you’re already making umpteen trips up and down the stairs retrieving various things for the kids while trying to get ready. They seem kind of fragile though, so I suspect I’ll break them before I actually tire of them. Since these are relatively new, I’m not sure yet what the memory of these will be in 5 years. Perhaps thinking back of all the time I was able to spend with my boys by myself as she traveled for work. (*whisper* It’s kinda really fun when she’s gone!)

 

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Ah, our old standy coffee mugs. These are our everyday, eat and drink whatever you want outta them cups. Fruit, teas, coffee…they take them all. They aren’t flashy, but there’s lots of them and the do the job.

It’s kinda like our marriage really. Maybe they’re not the most exciting all the time, but they’re strong, and there whenever you need ’em.

People collect things specifically for the memories they make, but coffee cups are one of those things that you just sort of pick up along the way, without a specific purpose for doing so. That makes them special. Like the picture on the wall that, in time, you tend to ignore, pulling one of these gems out of the back of the cabinet and reliving the sentiment behind it is special. Unexpected.

Blessed are the little children…unless you warp their little minds at a young age.

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do not disturb In an interesting turn of events, the aforementioned “parent of an annoying child who will not leave you alone,” and we (as in, CareerMom) came to a very acceptable compromise: We’ll drop our child off at your house and let him play and then we’ll pick him up later!

Worked for her, and worked for us. Although, as suspected, when CareerMom went to pick him up last night, she was very “Chatty Kathy” and wouldn’t let her leave. I suspected that might be the case and suggested that instead, I go pick him up, but CareerMom insisted.

Fine by me.

Anyway, what with only having one child to deal with last night, CareerMom and I felt liberated. She skipped the gym; I ordered a veggie pizza, fixed a salad and cut up a mango for desert. We ate like kings. MLE was a pretty good eater too and didn’t make much of a fuss. The house was quiet.

And…CareerMom was lookin’ H. O. T.!

And…the only other person in the house was a 17 month old whom, I suspect, is too old to really process some adult things.

Things happened, as they will when two consenting adults are alone together, and not forced to lock themselves behind closed doors lest prying, not-ready-for bed-yet eyes, see them.

So, while the adults were busy, MLE played by himself in the general vicinity; only getting too close for comfort once or twice. Generally speaking, he seemed oblivious to what was going on, and since we did it as inconspicuously as possible, if he tries to tell his other toddler buds today what mommy and daddy were doing, it’s going to sound like we were just hugging while sitting on the couch or something. Nobody’ll believe him!

Was that wrong? I tried to tell myself that surely among the billions of parents there have been in the world, we surely weren’t the first (nor the last) to do something like this around their child. I mean, never in a million years would we try this with MLI, but he’s 4 and would immediately know something was going on, but a 17-month old?

When CareerMom left, he seemed fine. He played “dive off the coffee table onto the pillows” until I turned on “Pirates of the Carribean” at which point he stopped, crawled into my lap, grabbed his binky and watched Cap’n Jack whoop some crustacean butt until I put him to bed.

But if you’re not too embarrassed, have you done anything like this?

Befriend a child; adopt a family

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friends We all have them I expect. Some perhaps more than others, but they’re there. Lurking…waiting for the perfect opportunity to spring up on you when you least expect it. They’re resourceful, they’re sneaky, they’re…parents of annoying children who want to do things with you ALL THE TIME!

Ours is a divorcee’ with a daughter who, for one reason or another, has glommed onto my family as if we were a rich uncle come to take her away from the orphanage. She’s loved MLI since he first started going to his daycare. When MLE was born, she always asked, “Can I touch him?” as we’d bring him around while picking up MLI.

We also included her and her mother in some fun outings with our kids and others. And now, she’s driving us nuts. Both the daughter and the mother.

If it’s not the daughter begging either myself or CareerMom to go do something after daycare, her mom is calling up acting as if we had made previous plans to do something, when we know good and well we had not.

We watched her daughter overnight a while back when they moved and it’s only gotten worse since then. The daughter didn’t even want to leave, and keeps asking if she can come live with us.

The mom called CareerMom over the weekend and the conversation went something like this:
CareerMom: Hello?
Her: “Hi, this is “L”, I was just wondering if you wanted to come over on Saturday for swimming?”
CareerMom: “We have a big work picnic this Saturday, so that won’t work for us.”
Her: “Well, how about Sunday?”
CareerMom: “Sunday isn’t good or us either. Maybe we can do something sometime next week.”

Her: “How does Monday look for you?”

Let me just stop here and point out that there’s a fine line between being insistent and being rude, and CareerMom, who does not subscribe to my particular brand of “persistence” finally caved rather than making it (any more) obvious that she didn’t want to do anything.

So finally, CareerMom just said, “OK.”

Over the weekend, CareerMom got buyer’s remorse and decided that the last thing either of us wanted to do was go over there after work, spend a hour swimming, and then eating her idea of dinner (usually McDonalds) while watching both hers and our kids. So she’s going to call her today and cancel.

Or so she says.

But, people like this just don’t get it. If we are going to spend so much time with another parent(s), I’d like it to be with A) another little boy who shares my kids’ interests, B) with another couple so that if I come (and I usually do), I actually have someone to talk to who’s not bitter about life and men in general.

Now OK, I should just keep my mouth shut and do the Christian thing and help out this poor lady and her daughter who are in need (I’m also sure Jews would do the right thing here too, but since I’m a Christian, I’m using that analogy).

But they aren’t really. She’s not poor. She has a good job. She has a 4-year old daughter; only one. The only thing she doesn’t have, is other friends. So really, how much should we be going out of our way here?

Kids. You can’t take ’em anywhere!

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chef ramsay We generally try and eat out at least once a week, more just so we can get out of the house at night rather than because of any desire to eat someone else’s cooking. And thanks to a co-worker having left me a coupon for a BOGO meal at a local seafood and chicken grillery (Boneheads), I was all up for a night of dining out!

We got there around 6:30 and I was surprised to see that the restaurant was packed with mature Americans; you know…not as young as us, but not as old as say, my parents. There really weren’t any young couples and I think we were the only ones with kids. But the boys were being good thus far so I wasn’t too concerned.

As I ordered, CareerMom took the boys and found a booth near the back of the restaurant, which afforded a little bit of running room in case MLE got antsy and needed to get out of his highchair before the rest of us were done eating.

I looked around to see what we’d have to contend with should one of the boys start being annoying and just to our immediate left was a couple of male “partners”, and in the booth immediately behind us was an older bunch talking politics. As I’m pretty sure they were democrats, I wasn’t too concerned about MLI getting rowdy and interrupting them, but just in case they had found their good sense and come over to the Red state side, I was prepared for immediate admonishment.

The food arrived and we divvied up the kids’ meal between the two. It was popcorn fish bites, corn on the cob, a choco-chip cookie and a juice box. Everyone was happy.

About five minutes into our meal, MLE started waving for something to drink. CareerMom handed him the juice box and with a mouth full of popcorn fish, he started slurping away.

First came a little cough.

Then a bigger cough.

Then his face started turning red.

Then he made a little gagging noise.

Then he started coughing some more and making louder gagging noises.

By this time, every table within a 10-yard radius was staring at us!

Now, MLE has this habit of puking whenever he starts coughing really bad, so I had pre-emptorily grabbed his bib and was holding it up in front of his face.

But the gagging continued!

Finally, CareerMom grabbed him and took off muttering, “I’m going to take him to the bathroom,” which was a well-planned mere eight feet away.

Sitting there, I realized the restaurant had gone silent. I was so embarrassed that I didn’t even look around. I knew they were all looking. So I again did what I did at the pool the other night; I blamed the kid!

Making it look like a teaching moment, I told MLI who was still sitting there (in a loudish voice), “That’s what happens when you try and drink with your mouth full.

With my head lowered towards my plate, I raised my eyes and took a peek around. Most everyone had gone back to their eating, so we had not apparently ruined anyone’s dinner. A couple of minutes later, CareerMom came back with MLE who had miraculously gotten past the choking episode without puking and we quickly finished off our meals and hurried out the door.

It just goes to show you that you can never rest with kids. Even when you’ve planned everything out to the nth degree, something will always happen. But I’ve found that few things can’t be fixed with a few wet wipes.

Thanks Costco!

Uptight American parents

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pool Our gym has an outdoor pool. It’s one of those beach entry affairs whereas it gradually slopes down towards a moderately deep four feet at its maximum depth. The reason for this is so that young ones can play in the water without their parents having to hold them the entire time (while being mauled to death by the growing finger and toenails of their excited child!).

I took the boys there yesterday after CareerMom got home. She worked out while I frolicked in the pool. At first, it was innocent enough; MLE was hesitant at first and so I held him as MLI floated around in the deeper section. But soon, MLE got a bit more brave and decided that stepping off the side into the deeper section was waaay more fun than being held by daddy.

So I let him.

And, after disregarding my admonishments to “Sit on your booty and slide in,” which he completely understands, I started letting him fall in and go underwater. The first couple of times when I pulled him back up, he gasped for air and his eyes went all wide and he looked at me as if to say, “What the hell? You ALWAYS catch me!

Now, in a moment like this, I think it’s natural for a parent to look around to gauge the reaction of other parents…you know…just to see. It’s also natural for a parent to automatically try and push the blame back on the child, and so I said, “Uh huh, see. I told you to sit on your booty,” and I said it in a loud enough voice so that the trophy mom with the two kids and the killer abs who was giving me the evil eye heard me over the din of the waterfall thingy.

Interestingly, it’s the WASP parents who seem the most uptight about this sort of thing. While we’re all fawning over our child’s every laugh, and giving hugs whenever our child stubs his toe, your average minority mom is stretched out on the lounger grabbing some rays while her four kids of all ages are having a good old time playing by themselves.

Part of me wants to say, “Hey, what if your kids were drowning over there?”

And the other part of me wants to say, “Good for you! I mean, there ARE 20-year old stud lifeguards at all four corners of the pool. What’s the worst that could happen?”

Anyway, after the first couple of dunkings, MLE decided that stepping off the deep end and going underwater was about the coolest thing he’d ever done before and anyway…daddy will always be there to pull him out.

Yep my little man, I always will be. Have fun!

Reason #23 why I couldn’t be a stay-at-home-dad

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I could never be a stay at home dad for a variety of reasons, but the primary reason is boredom. I’d either be constantly ignoring my kids because I couldn’t stand one more second of playing Thomas the Tank or teaching over their shoulder how to play a video game, or I’d be buying them a new toy every other day just so I could keep myself happy.

For instance, even though there’s generally nobody here at the house all day, either myself or CareerMom ALWAYS make the boys’ beds up before we leave. Now, MLI has a number of pillows on his bed, and since one of my all-time least favorite things to do from a chores perspective(right behind putting laundry away and unloading the dishwasher), is making beds, I always try and mix up the pillow arrangement.

It’s my own personal pillow challenge each time I do it.

For instance, here’s one arrangement:

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and here’s another:

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As you can see, gravity defiance and lateral similarity is prized above good looks.

I read a blog yesterday whereas the wife was complaining a bit about how anal her husband was. I had a hard time relating…

Can you imagine how insane the house would be if I were here all day?
I mean, I might start bobby pinning together socks with the boys’ names on them so I could tell them apart when CareerMom buys them matching socks, something that, for the life of me, I can’t figure out.

Maybe I would actually put all the big forks in one slot in the silverware divider, and all the small forks in another. Spoons too.

I could vacuum the carpet so that all of the vacuum marks are equidistant from one another, and all grained in one direction.

Heck, I might even go around, every day, with a bottle of Windex and a paper towel and get off (heh heh, I said “Get off!”) all the toothpaste spray marks from the mirrors.

I don’t know…haven’t given it too much thought.

But suffice it to say that I’m way to uptight to be a SAHD, so to you guys out there who do it, my hat is off to you. Oh, and you moms too I guess (KIDDING!)

Speaking of hats! Oh man, I could build a hat rack and hang it in the closet and then we could put all of our hats up there in order from…

That fool on the elliptical, might be you

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Compass OK seriously! This getting old crap is bringing me down! What now? What now you ask? Well, I’ll tell you “What now…”

For a 35 year old father of two, I think I do pretty good.

I exercise. Often hard!

I do handy things around the house.

I take vitamins.

I eat healthy.

My hair is still dark. From a distance.

And yet I still have this…this thing around my mid-section that won’t let go.

My weight has been a battle since I was a kid. I briefly beat it back in ’94 for about five years. That is, until I got married and we started having children. Somewhere along the way, cereal and stir fry for dinner was supplanted by Stouffer’s Lasagna, salmon with cheddar mashed potatoes, and thick steaks with grilled asparagus and corn fritters. Oh…no…those are three different dinners…not one big Shakespearean buffet!

Now granted, as I’ve admitted before, I suffer from a small case of body dysmorphic disorder, in which I think that I think that I look worse than I probably do. Or perhaps I’m fooling myself and I really DO look like I think I look and I’m using the “BDD” thing as an excuse to tell myself that I don’t really look as bad as I fear I do.

Truly, it boggles the mind.

After looking at those pictures of me in the river this weekend, I’m beginning to think the latter is true.

I also blame my work. Sitting on one’s hiney for eight a lot of hours a day doesn’t do much for the metabolism either, no matter how good you try to eat.

But here’s the rub: I AM getting older. At some point, I’m going to have to face the facts that no matter how hard I work, there’s a fine line between being healthy, and doing more than a body, at a given age, is capable of doing without breaking down. But when exactly is that? I mean, 35 is NOT old.

If 60 is the new 50, does that mean that 35 is the new 25? If so, I should look a helluva lot better than I do now!! And then if you sleep with a 25 year old, is it really like sleeping with a…nevermind.

Anyway, I’m just curious about others’ thoughts on this whole staying in shape as you get older thing. How do you measure your success (or failures) against your peers? Or do you?