Month: August 2008

Send out the masses!

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fundraising As surely as winter follows fall, there’s one thing that always quickly follows the start of the school year–no, not new television shows–fundraisers!

It’s that time again; time for all the little chillun to start canvassing the neighborhoods with their glossy brochures hawking pretty wrapping paper, or delicious chocolates–all in the hopes of winning some trinket for their efforts.

Do you remember this when you were a kid? Boy I do. I actually LOVED fundraisers, and I wasn’t one of these kids who forgot to do it and then begged his parents to make up the difference. No, I was quite the little peddler, which is funny considering how anti-new-social I am as a grup (bonus points if you know from whence the term “grup” comes from. And if you can’t figure it out, go here).

Come, walk with me…

I remember sitting in the school gymnasium on the floor (this was before my knees and back made floor sitting obscenely painful) listening to the pitch-man explain the fundraiser, while in the background stood a colorful display of all the wonderful prizes we could win by selling a certain amount of product. The basketballs and Frisbees® sitting alongside wonderful dragon kites and candy, all served to feed the great selling machine that is cute little kids–hordes of them even!

Then, I’d run home and show my mom what I had to sell, almost bursting with excitement to get out there and start selling. I had no idea then that, more than likely, she was rolling her eyes even as I foamed at the mouth and fairly buzzed with pent up excitement!

But I knew my customers! I knew who would buy, and who would not. I knew who would casually look at the brochures, and then come up with an excuse about why they couldn’t buy today. For these people, I was prepared, “Would you like me to come back tomorrow perhaps?

There was the nice lady with the white Lincoln Town Car, back when they used to have the wheels on the trunk. She was so nice and always bought something. Sometimes,  I would head straight to her house knowing she would get me started right; but other times, I’d wait and hit her last so that I could end my patrol on a high note.

There was also the house near the opposite end of the neighborhood from me who one year put up a sign on his door that said, “No soliciting.” Being only 8, I had no idea what that meant, but figured anything that started with the word “No” probably indicated that he didn’t want to talk to people, so I started skipping his house. It was OK, he wasn’t much of a buyer anyway.

But then I remember the disappointment when, after all my work and after miraculously getting all the money to the school (without my brother stealing it…yeah it happened a couple of times), it was only to find out that all I qualified for was an oversized lollipop. But it didn’t matter. That was one oversized lollipop that my parents would never buy me, so I had earned every lick!

Yeah, I remember those days and so I try and be sympathetic to the kids in my neighborhood. Their wares are usually overpriced and crap, but they’re trying and I give them points for that. But knowing how little of that money is actually going to the school, I’d almost rather they came to me with a list of improvements the school wants to make, and ask me to donate money to my favorite choice.

Course…that would rob them of the same memories that I treasure, and that’s pretty important too.

I therefore proclaim: Children of Wildwood Springs—Bring me your wrapping paper; your chocolates; your overpriced tins of stale caramel corn! I’ll buy something from you. Just promise me you’ll pay forward the favor when its your doorbell ringing!


When exactly can I tap the college fund?

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karate Sometimes I feel we’ve gotten a handle on this whole “being a parent” thing, and other times, I feel completely inadequate. For instance, who knew that in order to get your child enrolled in a fall Soccer program, that you had to register in May? Who knew?

With t-ball over for the summer, and with MLI having completed his swimming lessons, CareerMom and I have been looking for something for him to do with the cooler months coming on, both for him to get some exercise, and to get us outta the house to enjoy the cool air. But, it seems we’ve missed the boat on most team sports.

But one of MLI’s good friends takes Karate–or some form of martial arts, I’m not sure which–and MLI has mentioned wanting to take it on several occasions. I took American style Karate when I was younger, so I’m all for it, but CareerMom has been hesitant.

I’ve always tried to be careful and not steer my kids in a particular direction. The last thing I want to be is that dad who is trying to re-live his glory days through his kids, so I generally will only mention something to him and then try to explain the pros and cons about it without actually endorsing it.

We have a Taekwondo studio for kids very near to the house, so we took him over there last night for a little intro session and he seemed to really like it. They took him in a little room and had him do some punches and some kicks and come on…what little boy wouldn’t think that’s cool! And while they’ve got him doing that, they’ve got you filling out a form that basically enrolls you. Now, I’m not stupid…I know what’s going on, so I don’t fully fill out everything until after the class and only after CareerMom and I had conferred and decided to enroll him for a month to see if his enthusiasm remains even after having to endure 30-minute sessions of doing what the Sensei tells him to do, which probably is not a bunch of fun kicks and punches to start.

The price is significantly higher than I expected, but then, we didn’t shop around either. With our schedules, convenience is highly prized and local businesses know it and therefore charge accordingly. But the whole time MLI was doing his thing, MLE was watching and soaking it all up. And I know what’s gonna happen; in a few years MLE is going to want to be doing whatever sport his brother is doing and if that does still happen to be martial arts…well, let’s just say it’s a good thing daddy has decided not to play golf for a while.

Current Scorecard tally:

Parenting duties: 5

Selfish desires: 0

The things we do for blogs

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The funny thing about blogging is that once you start, everything that happens to you on a daily basis becomes fodder for a blog. Even stuff that you wouldn’t normally bore your friends with, suddenly becomes this…story that you can’t wait to share with people.

For instance:

I took off work on Friday to get some painting done around the house. CareerMom and I have been slowly covering the bare off-white walls in our house with some color, but we hadn’t come up with an overall color for the majority of the walls, until last week.

clair de luneWe picked a Behr paint color called “Clair de Lune,” which here looks really brown, but is actually in the yellow family. I’m sure it looks different on different monitors.

So everything was going well as I painted till I got to the stairwell. Thanks to high ceilings, I wasn’t able to reach about a 5 square foot section of wall that was above the stairs. I needed to get up close to the crown molding, so I couldn’t just use a roller with handle extensions, or else I’d have big swatches of yellow on the molding that I’d somehow have to figure out how to paint over. After considering my options, I concluded that there was no way around it; I was just going to have to “get up there” somehow.

I broke out my trusty ladder and put one leg on one step and then tried stacking a number of items on the next lower step so as to raise it up enough to support the other leg of the ladder. But, I could never come up with a tall enough combination of phone books and other items that offered the right mix of stabilization and height that would satisfy my fear of falling to my death, or at the very least, falling and breaking something I might need at a later date.

So, I finally gave up on the ladder idea and instead, low-teched a solution:


Note that I have two paint roller extension handles screwed together and the pièce de résistance—a paint brush duct-taped to the handles.


Once I felt confident in leaning my full weight against the railing and settled my nerves enough to paint in a straight line, it all went like clockwork.

Now, what you may be asking yourself, and what I DID ask myself is, “Who does this? Who stops in the middle of something like painting a house, and sets up their tripod and their camera on a timer, and poses for a picture?”

Only a blogger my friends…only a blogger!

I just need a little off the top

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haircut Despite CareerMom having been gone all week, and despite my having not gone into the office–not once–the entire week, I’m happy to report that I have managed not to let myself “go” too much. I did manage to bathe (daily) and I even shaved once or twice.

But with her coming home tonight, I thought it best that I freshen up a bit and that included getting a much-needed haircut. Now, I normally go to a place called “American Haircuts.” They’re a small-ish chain and they’re kinda like a fusion of old-school barber shop meets modern-day salon, and they’re geared towards men. If there was any doubt of that, the football paraphernalia and the antique sign saying, “Hippies leave out the back door–No Exceptions!” will put any doubts to bed.

But, after being rather rudely greeted and then sitting around for nigh on ten minutes waiting on someone–anyone–to explain to my why two stylists were sitting in their booths gabbing while I was waiting, I lost patience and left.

My health club has a spa attached and they had a sign up for a $20 haircut, which coincidentally, is the same price I pay at the guy place (note: I think I remember when I paid $11 for a haircut…ah….). Anyway, I made an appointment to get my hair cut there right after my workout. I knew I’d be sticky and hot, but it was darn convenient, so hey!

When I walked in, toting my gym bag, the receptionist told me I’d be with “Kirk.” Kirk promptly showed up, introduced himself and then I followed him back to his area where he sat me down and proceeded to put this shiny “Graham Webb” hair deflector over my already sweaty body.

Now guys, barring say…a yearly prostate exam, is there anything more uncomfortable than having another guy cut your hair? OK, well, maybe having another guy massage you, but other than those two things?

So, I’m sitting there and I’m looking at this guy outta the corner of my eye. He has a big upper body, but a gut; not unlike an ageing weight lifter, but he’s not that old. So maybe he used to work out, then started cutting hair and stopped? What made him stop?

These things were running through my mind and more:

“Is he gay? I mean, he doesn’t dress all THAT well, so maybe not. What? He’s talking about how “anal” he is about his own hair? Well, fastidiousness isn’t a crime. Buuuuttt, it does tend to go with “that crowd.” Hmmm…keep the conversation light. Don’t use the word “wife” too much or, if he IS gay, he might take offense to the fact that I’m obviously uncomfortable here. But…don’t NOT say anything; that’s rude! Crap…”

doo dee doo…

Man, that scalp massage feels really good. I wonder if it would feel just as good if a woman were doing it…do I care? If I don’t care…what is that saying about me? OMG! I totally sweated all over his vinyl chair! Will he think I was all nervous?

Gel? No…well, yes, I would like some gel. Is that gay?

(end of narraration)

Ladies. Do you see what men have to go through in today’s society? Are there lesbian hair stylists at upscale hair salons? If so, does it bother you?

Am I just a freak?

Craftiness is not one of my strengths

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Before CareerMom left for the week, she did everything she could to make things easier for me in her absence. She told me I could go do whatever I wanted while she watched the boys this past weekend–an offer I only temporarily took advantage of. She made sure the boys had plenty of diapers and wipes and clean clothes stocked at daycare so I wasn’t trying to schlepp all that junk around in my truck (or forgetting it and having to drive the 9 miles back home for it). She even had me go ahead and print up pictures of the family for both the boys because they are each in a new class at daycare (MLI is in pre-k now) and their teachers wanted a picture from each child.

But things rarely go as one plans, and so it was as CareerMom dropped off MLE on Monday morning before she left that she found out the teacher had changed the “picture” request into a “poster” request.

A Poster huh?

That would mean like, crafty crap right? Yeah, um…I’m not really good at crafty crap.

Now, you could ping my mom, or any of my brothers or sisters and they would be able to help out with crafty crap, but not me. I have zero artistic ability, and even less creativity.

That said though, if you give me colors, I can match them. I’m even good at decorating, but don’t ask me to actually MAKE anything.

But, since it was up to me and the boys, I was determined to come up with something that wouldn’t make MLE look like he had the worst, uncaring parents in the world; so here’s what I came up with:

Craft Project 002

Now, as bad as it is, it’s not as crooked as it looks here. That’s just an illusion of the camera. You may be able to click on it and get a larger version.

I’m truly not fishing for compliments here, because though I know it’s not great, for me, it’s actually pretty good. So, I’m not half-disappointed in myself.

And the boys sure didn’t care. I let them both get in on the paint-handprint thing…and then MLE stepped in the green paint and before I could stop him, it was all over the kitchen floor.

CareerMom will undoubtedly want to redo the thing when she returns, but my lil work of art will at least get a few days of life in MLE’s class.

Does that count as 15 minutes of fame?

Let the games begin (not the Olympics)

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As I sat on the curb on Sunday, watching the boys run around–MLI on his big wheel and MLE chasing him with a soccer ball waiting on the right moment to throw it at a passing big brother, prompting yelps of glee and spinning around until he collapses–I pondered the summer and I couldn’t help but wish for a nice, cool breeze to lift my flagging summer spirits.

And then I saw this little leaf lying on the ground. Even in 87 degree temps (with 82% humidity) there’s always something to look forward to.

…which, brings me to the current state of affairs!

I just kissed CareerMom goodbye for her whirlwind trip to Colorado–business trip of course, but there are perks to it all (for her I mean).

Which means that I’m already planning my next move from a “What to do with the boys at night so they don’t drive me crazy beating up me, each other, and the furniture.”

So…now taking suggestions.

I have a coupon for cheap bowling, which I’m pretty sure I’m going to use. Then there’s always Chick-Fil-A again, and depending on what Tropical Storm Fay does, we may or may not be able to play outside Wednesday and/or Thursday evening, so further consideration will have to be given as the week progresses.

Any ideas?

I’m beginning to suspect a pattern

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patterns Remember back a couple of Friday’s ago…I was looking forward to a nice work from home day and then MLE puked on the way to daycare, only to come home and seem to feel fine the rest of the day.

Well, we made it to 10 a.m. today. I got a call from daycare, “Oh hi. I just wanted to let you know that MLE doesn’t seem to feel well. He’s been…well…just not himself and he keeps pulling on his right ear.”

I know this teacher and she’s not one to overreact, and I know that MLI and I have both been fighting a cold, so I told her I’d come pick him up.

When I arrived, he was standing on top of a bin of toys cackling. On the way home from daycare, he nursed a bottle and made faces at me as I drove.

Since we’ve been home, he’s destroyed the pantry; pulling down everything he could get his hands on. He’s eaten half my lunch Cheeto’s and now he’s playing with his brother’s light saber and making realistic “whonk whonk” noises as he stabs imaginary Sith Lords.

Sick? I don’t think so.

A big fat faker? I’m leaning in that general direction.

Oh, and three days and counting till CareerMom heads out to Colorado for a week. She says she’s not looking forward to it, but lemme see…while in Colorado, you get to stay in a nice hotel and sleep later than you do at home. But, you work during the day, except for the last day when they get free time. There are usually coordinated dinners at night at really nice restaurants (and unlimited good wine) that if you really really wanted to, you could find an excuse to get out of.


The usual rat race here at home, complete with leftovers from this week that I’ve managed to put away to make life easier for myself next week.

I know what I’d vote for.