September 30, 2010

Solo

Very early on Friday morning, my lovely wife will be taking a much-needed and well-deserved break from being a mom, boarding a plane headed for a lovely tropical destination where she will play in the ocean and drink fruity things with colorful umbrellas. I will be staying in lovely, cloudy Virginia, with my nuts and my children (who are also, at time, nuts). I'm really looking forward to the time alone with my kids. But I'm also slightly terrified.

I'm a good dad. Okay, I'm a good dad most of the time - I have my moments of impatience - but I'd still say that I rank somewhere in the top, oh, 30% of dads out there. But I generally parent in small bursts. Weekends and vacations give me the longest stretches of time to spend with my kids but unfortunately those don't come around often enough.

What I'm saying is that I don't have nearly as much practice as Beth with hardcore full-time parenting. And what I'm asking you is what the heck do I do with two kids for two days? This isn't a rhetorical question. I'm asking you for ideas. So hop to it. Please.

Posted by Chris at 6:50 AM | Comments (33)

September 29, 2010

Of Fish And Men

Yesterday morning while getting ready for school, Mia made a terrible discovery - Dorothy, her beloved goldfish of nearly two years, lying on her bedroom floor. Amazingly, Dorothy wasn't dead. Mia alerted Beth. Beth swooped in, superhero-like, and saved the day. Dorothy is back in her bowl but there's something amiss, something not quite right. We fear that Dorothy may not be long for this world. But we are hopeful. Our fingers are crossed.

In worse shape is Great Uncle Dick.

My uncle Dick is my maternal grandmother's brother. He turned 94 earlier this summer. Last month he suffered a heart attack and in the midst of making what was expected to be a full recovery, Dick's health failed again. Dick is in the ICU and isn't expected to survive for long.

Every family has a hero. Dick is ours. He was a fighter pilot turned diplomat in the European theater in World War II. He married after the war; he lost his wife last year. Dick never had children. In fact, the first baby Dick ever held was Mia. He was enamored with her and still is. The feeling is quite mutual. We are all enamored with Dick and I don't want to lose him.

Everyone has their own problems but if you have room in your routine and your thoughts, cross your fingers for Dick. And Dorothy while you're at it.

Posted by Chris at 7:30 AM | Comments (23)

September 28, 2010

The Ghosts Of Fashion

When I was a kid, I'd become horrified at what my parents were wearing. For the most part, they were (and remain) pretty hip but occasionally they'd throw on something that chilled my fashion-sensitive teenage ass to its core (ew). And then I'd pretend that I didn't know them.

Now, all this should be viewed through the lens of the fashion fads that I inevitably fell for. The Guess jeans with the pretentious little triangle on the back right ass-cheek. The Frankie Say Relax shirts (it only occurred to me last week - last week - why it was Frankie Say and not Frankie Says...am slow). Rolled up jeans cuffs. Ripped jeans and flannel. Fluorescent everything (except underwear...I don't think I ever had fluorescent underwear). Twelve Swatches. So, yeah, I'm not one to talk.

On Sunday, the four of us went on a bike ride. I found myself wearing bright read work-out shorts, crappy sneakers, unbrushed hair and an old brown Pink Floyd shirt. I looked kinda like an athletic hobo. It was then - September 26th at 2:14 PM - that I realized I'd crossed over the River Fashion into the land of Don't Give A Fuck.

Don't Give A Fuck is a nice place, much different than the authoritarian, uptight place I used to live run by the dictators Wang, Klein, Gunn and Vuitton. That's not to say I don't care about my appearance. I do. I'm just not obsessed.

One day I will horrify my children. But that probably won't be restricted to fashion.

What did your parents do that most horrified you as a kid?

Posted by Chris at 6:49 AM | Comments (19)

September 27, 2010

Pot, Kettle, Black

Pot?
Yes, Kettle.
You're black.
I know, smartass.

I'm a bit of a hypocrite. Last week I wrote all about over-scheduling and, therefore, stressing our kids. Most of you agreed and your comments reflected it. And then when I wrote you all back, I stressed the need for us to slow down, give ourselves and our kids a chance to breathe and avoid passing along our own stress to our kids.

Then this weekend we did the exact opposite.

We had two - count 'em, two - birthday parties on Saturday. The first was a lovely little affair with rooms full of balloons (it was kind of like a rave, without the ecstasy, glowsticks and water) and Thai food. Low key, fun people, no stress. The second was a bit more demanding, as it involved dressing up like cowboys (and cowgirls) and riding a pony. It was a hot day and the old pony wasn't too happy about it; the poor thing nearly died in our neighbor's yard (seriously) and Beth and I pondered exactly what we were going to tell the children if poor Boots dropped dead then and there. Luckily Boots pulled through though he was done taking riders for the day.

Two parties, four scoops of ice cream, two pieces of cake...and the day wasn't over.

Then my niece came for the evening. It was lovely but I'm afraid she wasn't dazzled by my kids' failing moods. We ordered Chinese food then got the kids in bed early. Or tried. As it turns out, over-tired kids are just as hard to get to sleep as under-tired kids.

We had some grand plans for Sunday - we'd planned to go to a Fall festival type thing - all of which fell through as soon as we opened our eyes in the morning and realized it was raining. Which actually turned out to be serendipitous. Instead we did a little shopping at the mall, watched a movie together then - since the weather cleared - took a bike ride and watched a baseball game at a local field. Then we made pizza and the kids went to bed. Which gave Beth and I time to drink.

Is it any wonder I'm exhausted? And need about nine cups of coffee? But what abut you? What were you guys up to?

Posted by Chris at 7:05 AM | Comments (12)

Haiku For Monday #336

Okay, so, when life
gives you Mondays, can you make
Mondayade? Hell no.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (3)

September 24, 2010

The Weeklies #149

The Weekly War Cry. Snot Is Sexy!

The Weekly Beer. Flying Dog's Raging Bitch.

The Weekly Time Waster. Deeplight Expedition!

The Weekly Read. I picked up Gabe Rotter's The Human Bobby on a whim. I liked the cover (I know, you can't judge a book...) and thought the premise sounded interesting. I can tell you virtually nothing about the book without revealing something that would invariably spoil the end. So I won't. I'll just tell you that I loved the book and won't soon forget it. Or read anything nearly as compelling.

The Weekly Music. The bane of my existence this week? Tracy Chapman. I've had Fast Car - Fast Fucking Car - running through my head the entire week.

The Weekly Insect. Stink bugs. They're everywhere.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. I know that I shouldn't be amused by the fact that Lindsay Lohan failed a drug test and, as a result, could be headed back to jail. I'd like to think I'm a better person than that. I'm not.

The Weekly Question. If there was a fire in your house, aside from loved ones, what one thing would you most try and save?

Posted by Chris at 7:44 AM | Comments (31)

September 23, 2010

Things I Learned At Back To School Night

Mia, Beth and I attended Back To School night at Mia's elementary school last night. Here's what I learned.

1. I am way too small for those little kindergarten chairs.

2. All art rooms smell exactly the same. It was a good smell that I haven't smelled in a very long time.

3. I am not allowed to play the marimbas.

4. Teachers are now apparently required to be roughly half my age.

5. Miniature bathrooms in which all the facilities are correspondingly miniature make me feel about eleven feet tall.

6. Two weeks in and Mia completely rules the school. She seemingly knows absolutely everyone regardless of age. And if this were some sort of little person prison they would all be her bitches.

I remember very little about elementary school. My elementary school was unevenly divided. The first portion - kindergarten through third grade - was at the baby jesus school. I had to memorize Bible verses and recite them each Friday. The only thing I learned there was that I didn't like memorizing Bible verses or reciting them. I wasn't so keen on the greedy bigots who ran the school (and still do, having turned it into one of the nation's leading megachurches) either. At the start of fourth grade, I moved to public school. Best decision ever except that while teaching all about the baby jesus the teachers at my previous school had managed to forget to teach me anything about math or science. I had some catching up to do. Luckily I had two hard-ass teachers in fourth and fifth grade who helped me do just that. I was a member of the safety patrol, played Charlie's Angels with Brian, Brent and Carrie (I was always fucking Bosley), and discovered music (initially Journey who I was a little skeptical about since they were, to my ears, very heavy).

What kind of kid were you in elementary school? And what are your most vivid memories?

Posted by Chris at 7:31 AM | Comments (16)

September 22, 2010

Pace

In case you're curious what a day in Cactusville looks like, here's a snapshot:

6:00 - Alarm clock goes off; punch snooze
6:10 - Snooze
6:20 - Snooze
6:30 - 6:50 - Get dressed; throw breakfast together
7:00 - Drag myself to the car
7:00 - 8:00 - Spend an hour traveling 10 miles; get a little bitter
8:05 - Arrive at my office
8:06 - Grab coffee; boot up the laptop
8:10 - Watch as an endless stream of email seems to bombard my desktop
8:10 - 11:00 - Answer email, conference calls, meetings and actual work
11:00 - 11:10 - Find an early lunch
11:10 - 11:20 - Eat lunch while surfing the net
11:20 - 4:30 - Answer email, conference calls, meetings and actual work
4:30 - 5:30 - Spend an hour traveling 10 miles but decidedly less bitter since home lies at the end of the commute
5:30 - 5:35 - Lose the suit
5:35 - 6:15 - Play with the little people
6:15 - 6:45 - Dinner
6:45 - 7:00 - Bathe Owen
7:00 - 7:10 - Bathe Mia
7:10 - 8:00 - Get the kids to bed
8:00 - 9:00 - Crack open beer, answer personal email, jot down some blog ideas
9:00 - 10:00 - Decompress which usually involves conversations with Beth and HGTV
10:00 - 10:15 - Shower
10:15 - 11:00 - Read
11:00 - 6:00 - Snooze

My daughter gets up early in the morning and heads off to school at 8:45. She gets home at 4:15. No way around it - that's a long day. Especially for a short person. And it's taking its toll. When she gets home, she's exhausted. By the end of the week, she's completely wiped out. And two days - Saturday and Sunday - seem like way too little time to recuperate.

My point - I think - is that we're all working ourselves to death. And when we're not working, we're getting ready for work or driving to and from work. We are, as a culture, obsessed with work and we're passing that along to our kids, teaching them to do the exact same thing.

Are you comfortable with the pace of your life? Are our priorities out of whack? And are we asking too much of our kids?

Posted by Chris at 6:26 AM | Comments (26)

September 21, 2010

Size Matters

Look, I'm no physicist. I'm not a mathematician or professional measuring person. But I sure as hell know that there's something extremely wrong bordering on obscene with this picture.

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Seriously? The thing I bought was 12 inches long. The box it arrived in? Four feet long.

I don't collect gray water, attack whaling ships for Greenpeace or weave my own hemp clothing but I know what's screwing up our environment (and driving up shipping costs) and it's things like this. And packaging in general. You know, whenever I buy something for my kids, it takes about a month and a half to free it from its plastic prison. (And yet, ironically, the fish sticks I like are just shoved right in a box, nothing between them and the world except a crappy little box.) I do a fair amount of online shopping - rarely set foot in stores these days - because to be quite honest its easier and its cheaper. But if the packaging keeps being an issue, I might have to rethink that.

How much online buying do you do? And is packaging ever an issue for you?


Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (17)

September 20, 2010

Dirty Trees

One of the things we fell in love with about our house almost instantly was the yard, front and back. The backyard is wonderful and huge and being able to see it through our back windows makes up for the fact that it's a bitch to maintain. The font yard is populated by five gorgeous chestnut trees that shade the entire yard and give us a bit of privacy, shielding us from neighbors and the road in front of our house. Little did we know how those trees could bite us in the ass.

If you know anything about chestnut trees it is most likely this - they're dirty trees. Not lascivious, spying on the young oaks and making lewd comments about the maples' underbrush. I mean physically dirty trees. At the beginning of the summer they grow and lose six inch long fuzzy fronds that look cute until they cover the yard and turn brown and crunchy. But it's the fall that they're the worst. See, chestnuts don't just magically appear on the ground. They grow in husks that are heavy, pointy and can seriously (I'm not kidding here) maim a person.

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Not only are the trees dirty and slightly violent, they're also wearing us out.

I spent the last two days cleaning up after the trees. I've probably gotten about 40 pounds of chestnuts and cleared five lawn bags worth of husks. Since the weather's been nice so we've been sleeping with the windows open. And the trees - the thudding of the chestnut husks hitting the ground - has been keeping us up.

In case you're curious, the chestnuts are edible. We roasted some last year and none of us liked them. But apparently some people do - we can't give these things away fast enough.

Do you like fall? What are you most looking forward to about the season?

Posted by Chris at 6:54 AM | Comments (22)

Haiku For Monday #335

You'd think after more
than three hundred haikus I'd
be dry. You'd be right.

Posted by Chris at 6:52 AM

September 17, 2010

The Weeklies #148

The Weekly Fashion Statement. Lady Gaga wore a dress made out of meat to the VMAs. Seriously, a meat dress?

The Weekly Time Waster. Hardball Frenzy 2.

The Weekly Television Awesomeness. Survivor is back (yeah, I'm addicted) and the fact that Jimmy Johnson is a contestant for absolutely no reason beyond the fact that he's a fan is inspired.

The Weekly Read. This week's read was a little strange for me since I rarely read non-fiction and I'm not all that into books about transportation. I read Matt Dellinger's Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of The Last Great American Highway. Admittedly it doesn't sound scintillating but it was actually quite interesting. I-69 is - or may one day be - a highway that stretches from Mexico to Canada, traveling through some of the most ignored places in the country. The book traces the development of the highway and the many hurdles that have stopped much of its progress to date. I know...it still doesn't sound all that interesting. But it really was and well worth checking out.

The Weekly Music. On a whim I picked up The Hour Is Upon Us by the unknown band The Hour of the Shipwreck while browsing online. The reviews were extremely positive and it was $6. Why not? This was quite a happy accident. Cross Pink Floyd with [INSERT YOUR FAVORITE EMO BAND HERE] and you've got these guys. It's a little bit prog and a little bit indie, with lush, layered arrangements, strong vocals and superb musicianship. It's a nice surprise to find music this good so randomly.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. You need only to listen once to this to understand the greatest orchestra fail in history.

The Weekly Question. Bonus points and maybe a mystery gift to the person who most accurately translates this, the latest missive from Mia.

miasnote.jpg

Posted by Chris at 7:46 AM | Comments (19)

September 16, 2010

A Tale of Two Talkers

If you've been paying attention you'll remember that I got promoted a few months ago. Since that happened my calendar runneth over and everyone who works within a five mile radius likes to stop by my office and shoot the proverbial shit. Which is cool - at least the dropping by thing. I could do without the packed calendar. But I find myself either talking or listening for nine or ten hours straight. And that's a lot of communicating.

When I get home it gets worse.

See, my kids are talkers. And they don't take turns. Instead, from the moment I get home, they talk at the same time, imparting all the awesomeness they picked up that day augmented with kid-wisdom and bizarre observations.

Here's what I get in my right air from Mia:
School was great today. I rode the bus and sat next to Maya who has a name that sounds just like mine only its spelled differently and the bus was bouncy and fun but then we got to school and had to get off. When I got to my classroom my teacher was there. She's nice. You know that haircut you got is perfectly appropriate for someone your age like mine is appropriate for a little girl like me so you can't grow yours long and brown event though yours can't be brown because its gray so I guess we don't have to worry about that. Do you want to play a game? How about Barbie and the Magic Pegasus? Or Scooby Doo. You can be Freddie and I'll be Daphne. And you can also be the bad guy who has to trap me 27 times before Scooby - that's Owen - and Freddie save me. Why does Freddie wear that thing around his neck? That apricot? Oh look, a butterfly on that flower. I like chocolate. Gorillas are fun. I'd like a pet gorilla.

And here's what's coming in my left from Owen:
We went to the playground. The robot playground. Not dinosaur playground. Not yellow playground. Robot playground. I played with a kid there. Then I pushed him. My saw a cat. And then I wanted ice cream but mommy said no ice cream Owen because it was morning and before lunch. Do you like beer? I love you daddy. Mia goes to school. On the bus. My miss Mia.

Its a lot, sure, but its awesome. And if gets to be too much, they eventually go to bed and I drink beer. And this morning I found both of them in bed with me, cuddling, one on either side while the cool morning breeze forced us under the blankets. Sure, they were both still talking, about radically different things, but it was 137 kinds of great.

How, where and when do you find peace throughout the day?

Posted by Chris at 7:45 AM | Comments (18)

September 15, 2010

Fahrenheit 911

With the exception of a nice roaring fire or fireworks on a summer day, I'm pretty against burning things. My house, clothes, myself, midgets. But I don't often have to worry about the flammability of those things so my chief concern with respect to burning is books. Or, really anything that takes books out of the hands of people who would like to read them or benefit from their knowledge. I also don't really care for stupid people. As you can imagine, the last week or so has been frustrating.

Of course I'm talking about Terry Jones - pastor, Hulk Hogan-mustache sporter, attention whore - and his aborted International Burn A Koran day planned for September 11th.

If you were anywhere in the Western hemisphere, you heard the story. I wanted to know more. What I found was sad.

Jones is a former hotel manager-turned-pastor who performed missionary work in Europe before he was asked to leave. His favorite phrase seems to be "Islam Is Of The Devil." Though he calls himself a doctor, he didn't earn it. The doctorate was honorary. In fact, Jones has never read the Koran instead citing YouTube as his main source of information about Islam. What Jones wanted, instead, was attention and money. He got both*.

Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Pope Benedict, Hillary Clinton, NATO, Interpol, every country in the European Union, every religious group in Gainesville, Florida and perhaps the entire civilized world has implored and pleaded with the zealot so-called pastor Terry Jones to cease and desist from burning Korans on September 11, 2010. The foreign ministries of Pakistan and Bahrain issued official denunciations with Bahrain calling it a "shameful act which is incompatible with the principles of tolerance and coexistence." The president of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has also sent a letter to President Obama asking him to stop the bonfire. In Pakistan, about 200 lawyers and civil society members marched and burned a U.S. flag in the central Pakistani city of Multan, demanding that Washington halt the burning of the Muslim holy book.

And where did the money angle come into play?
The most recent tax filing available on Jones' non-profit church from Guidestar (his church is listed as Dove Charismatic Ministries, Inc) shows his church spends 30.5% on "program services" while "administrative costs" accounted for 69.5 percent. His 20 acre church property is for sale. Online real estate listings indicate Jones is looking for other ways to drum up some cash. According to the listing on real estate website AllisonAbles.com, the Dove World Church is for sale for 2.9 million. The listing says the property has been "reduced $1.1 million for a quick sale".

For every nutjob in the world, there's at least one like-minded, more submissive nutjob who will follow. For ever attention-seeking fame-whore born of the social media revolution, there are hordes who will repeatedly click their "like" buttons as if that counts as participation. It would actually be better, in my mind, if the motivation was simple ignorance, intolerance or hatred. At least then it would be pure - ugly, hateful and misguided, yes, but pure.

What do you think of Terry Jones, the reaction he received and the attention he got? Would this have been a story without the media? And were his planned actions a legitimate threat?


* both from an excellent San Francisco Chronicle article.

Posted by Chris at 7:07 AM | Comments (7)

September 14, 2010

Exceptions

I am oh so very tired. I worked late last night. Very late. I got home around midnight, cracked open a beer and chilled for a while and made the executive decision to work from home today. My commute was awesome - two flights of stairs beats the hell out of congested roads.

Last night I realized, as I always do when I work late, that I love and miss my kids when I can't be with them. I never want to find myself in a situation in which I'm not surrounded by their awesomeness on a daily basis. I know it sounds cliche but I hate not being home for bedtime. I love being with them and watching them grow and arguing with them when they're being stubborn and being turned into a human jungle gym against my will.

It makes me wonder how divorced parents handle parenting. But not so much that I'd ever want to try it.

My parents got married in 1964. And they're still together. Beth's parents have been together almost as long. I realize these are now the exception, not the rule. But it's a pretty nice exception.

The more I sat and thought about it - after midnight, beer in hand, house-hunting show on TV - the more I started wondering about your experiences. So just out of curiosity, an informal poll. Are your parents together? Or are they divorced? And how do you think that - either of those situations - impacted you?

Posted by Chris at 7:45 AM | Comments (56)

September 13, 2010

Everybody's Working For The Week?

I think I found the solution to making Monday feel a little less painful, to ease re-entry from the weekend. Work all weekend. I said it was a solution, not a good solution. But that's pretty much what I did this weekend. Coming into work today just felt like a logical extension.

Now, there are some benefits of working during the weekend.

- You can wear what ever the hell you want.
- You can work while enjoying a frosty adult beverage (or three).
- You can use really foul language so long as your kids aren't around.
- When things get really bad, you can take a break and play Scooby Doo (you're usually the monster and Freddie which makes things challenging plus you always have to find out new and ingenious ways of trapping Daphne so she can then be rescued which can get difficult after the 45th time).
- You can bust out singing Heart's Barracuda if you want and no one will look at you funny or call security.
- Did I mention the beer thing?

Of course, the downside of all this is that you have to actually work. On the weekend. And the reason this is the downside requires no explanation.

Aside from all this, we managed to have a pretty good weekend. Mia was exhausted from her first week of school. Owen was exhausted out of sympathy. The weekend was full of bike riding, Barbie movies, Chinese food and, yes, work.

Luckily there's light at the end of the tunnel. As a matter of fact, the tunnel ends abruptly at 5:00 tonight.

How were your weekends? And have you worked your asses off lately?

Posted by Chris at 6:50 AM | Comments (6)

Haiku For Monday #334

Jerseylicious. The
only thing that can be worse
than Monday mornings.

Posted by Chris at 6:44 AM | Comments (1)

September 10, 2010

So I Could Have Today

911%20copy.jpg

In 2004, I snapped a photo at Ground Zero. Written on the metal wall was a very straightforward sentence that defied its simplicity.

You gave so much so I could have today. Thanks and God bless.

Next to it was a cross hung on the same metal wall, and next to that a dry, withered rose. Taken together, these things all combined to say what I was feeling. Though it had been three years since the Towers fell, the site was no less - what's the word - dramatic.

I remember leaving work hearing the receptionist tell someone that a small plane had hit a building in New York City. I was going to see my psychiatrist that morning, to check in. Her office was on a hill that overlooked Washington. As I got closer, I saw smoke from the Pentagon. I turned on the radio and listened to what happened - both the true accounts and all the false reports that were circulating. I ran in, told my psychiatrist, and she began crying immediately which I recall thinking was a tad unusual and reactive for someone whom I was paying to guard my own mental health. And then I got in my car and headed home. I sat in traffic for hours. When I got back to the apartment Beth and I were living in and saw the TV on, it suddenly occurred to me that someone actually had video of this terrible horrible no good very bad thing happening. Then it hit me what had happened.

What I'll always remember - what everyone seems to remember - is what a beautiful day it was. What I'll never forget to this very day is the fact that some gave so much so I could have today.

911%20copy2.jpg

Posted by Chris at 6:41 AM | Comments (10)

September 9, 2010

The Trouble With Hairy

Over this long weekend - made longer because I worked from home Thursday, Friday and Tuesday - I had a chance to let myself become reasonably unkempt. Now, I'm not talking smelly unkempt, just a little disheveled. I wore old comfortable clothes, threw on a hat most days, put on beat up sneakers but only when I had to...and forgot to shave. When I don't shave, I'm immediately reminded of a couple things:

- I am reaching middle age (but I'm hopefully not there already). While about 20% of the hair on my head is gray, about 80% of the hair on my face is gray when it grows in.

- I can't pull off the whole mustache and beard thing. I look like that guy in high school who tried to grow a mustache so he'd look cool driving around in his Dodge Dart and failed miserably (growing the mustache and looking cool).

During this dishevelment I lamented these things while watching something with Beth and pointing out my fond desire to attain this ability.

Me: See, I wish I could grow that kind of mustache.
Beth: No you don't.
Me: No, I really do.
Beth: No. Because if you could I'd never have married you.
Me: Wow. You have strong feelings about my ability to grow facial hair.
Beth: I just don't like hairy guys.
Me: Me either. Um. I don't like men. Not like that. But I mean, I wouldn't want to be a hairy guy. So forget that mustache thing. Stupid hair.

wicketstache.jpg

Maybe she's right.

Posted by Chris at 6:53 AM | Comments (15)

September 8, 2010

The First Day (In Pictures)

The first day of school came and went. And it was a success. A SUCCESS! Beth and I agonized over this. Absolutely agonized. But Mia astounded us with her determination and enthusiasm. At the end of the day, she's the only one who hadn't ended up in tears. Here's how it played out.

Mia humored me and posed for the Obligatory First Day of School pictures. DSC_7317_cpy%20sm.jpg

Another one because she's pretty.
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Backpack on and lunchbox in hand, Mia was aching to head out the door and hit the bus stop...even though it was 20 minutes before she needed to be there.
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And she nearly took off without us.
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Owen wasn't quite as enthusiastic.
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We posed for some bus stop pictures...
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...then the great big mean bus came and took our baby away.
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Eight hours later - eight agonizing hours - it brought her back. She emerged smiling, laughing, reporting on her fabulous day at school.
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And then she did my hair.
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All-in-all, it was a fantastic day. Sure, Beth and I ended up crying our eyes out and threatening to start drinking at 10:00 AM but once again we underestimated the awesomeness that is Mia. And there's pretty much no way in which Mia does not kick ass.

Posted by Chris at 6:54 AM | Comments (19)

September 7, 2010

Bean On A Bus

In a few minutes - too few - I will be doing something that absolutely nothing could have prepared me for. Not trying, trauma, or even hypnosis. I'm going to put Mia - my baby, my Bean - on a great big school bus and send her on her way for her very first day of kindergarten.

Here's the plan. We're going to get Mia on the bus, follow her to school to make sure she gets in okay, then we're going home to play with Owen and drink heavily. Sure, I know it'll be, like, 9:30 when we get home but, while it's cliche, it really is five o'clock somewhere, right?

I know at the end of the day we'll collect Mia from the bus stop, she will smile and we will beam lovingly at her and all will be well. But luckily the school day is long. That'll give us time to fall apart and put ourselves back together again.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (25)

September 6, 2010

The End of Summer

I'll admit to being a little sad today. Melancholy might be a better word.

Like holidays - especially the magical ones like Christmas and Easter - the greatness of summer is something that gets away from you when you're no longer a kid. But when you have kids, that awesomeness comes rushing back, accompanied by all the signature summer stuff - the sound of lawnmowers and smell of cut grass, the heat, the beach, the smell of sunscreen. The reason I'm so melancholy is the fact that when the sun goes down today, summer is unofficially over. It was a great summer. And an important summer.

I was looking at pictures of Owen I snapped at the beginning of the summer. Its amazing to me how much he's grown over the past four months. He's gone from looking like a toddler to a little boy, gone from babbling to speaking in fully formed sentences. The transformation is amazing. Mia's transformation, though, is truly staggering. While she was never what you'd call timid, Mia became this outgoing, engaging, fun-loving and independent kid. We have swim team to thank for that. The confidence it instilled in her was amazing.

There are a lot of things about this summer that I'm going to look back fondly upon, a lot of memories that were created and a lot of milestones that took place. Tomorrow the world goes back to normal. Mia goes to school, I go back to work, traffic gets bad, and Owen realizes what a day without his sister is like. I am really and truly going to miss it.

Looking back, how were your summers? What milestones did you see come and go?

Posted by Chris at 7:01 AM | Comments (6)

Haiku For Monday #333

One last day for the
pool. Then it's back to the grind.
Bye summer. Sadness.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM

September 3, 2010

The Weeklies #147

The Weekly Mental State. Absolutely exhausted.

The Weekly Secondary Mental State. Sad. I'm really quite bummed that the summer is almost officially over. It was an excellent one and I'm very to see it go.

The Weekly Beer. Dos Equis Amber. Ole!

The Weekly Read. John Sanford is awesome, right? We can all agree on that, can't we? The thing is that he's so good you fly through his books and even though he's pretty prolific you reach a point at which your got nothing left. Enter David Housewright. Apparently he's been writing for some time though I just discovererd him. Like Sanford, his characters haunt the Twin Cities area. Like Sanford, his main character is a bit of a unique personality with a keen sense of justice. Like Sanford, Housewright writes with a lot of action and a great sense of humor. So you're thinking is guy's just ripping Sanford off? Think again. He's got a unique voice, unique characters and a very distinct style. Start off with A Hard Ticket Home and you probably won't be disappointed.

The Weekly Geek-Out. Want to know a little more about the world around you? Check out Vision of Humanity and prepare to be amazed (and a little edumacated too).

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Was anyone surprised that Paris Hilton got busted for cocaine possession? Nah, me either.

The Weekly Question. If you were falsely accused of a terrible crime would you rather serve time or be on the run?

Posted by Chris at 8:00 AM | Comments (8)

September 2, 2010

Putting Ben and Jerry In The Rearview Mirror

Just the other day I realized something that surprised me. That's odd since I don't surprise easily plus this is something about me and I'm me. Every day. So what is this surprising revelation you ask? I don't eat like crap anymore.

Everyone knows that when you go on vacation all those pesky rules governing everyday life get thrown out the window, especially the ones pertaining to food and drink. (Ahh, I still remember that one drunken summer when I got loaded, got on my unicycle and accidentally killed a midget. Even though I was on vacation - no rules - and it was a freak accident, I'm still a little worried about that one catching up with me.) Last year when we went to the beach I made a very firm commitment that I would eat pizza everyday for lunch and have a sno-cone each and every day. I also pledged to have beer at lunch. And I'll be damned if I didn't meet and exceed those modest goals. One day I even had two sno-cones (I really know how to live on the edge). This year I had the same plan. And I failed miserably. My consumption of beach food was limited to two greasy pieces of pizza (in the same sitting) and three snoc-ones. Three. Pathetic. By day four, I turned to Beth and said I'd kill a hobo for a salad. Luckily I didn't have to because most restaurants are happy to accept cash in exchange for salads and there certainly didn't seem to be many hobos around to prey upon.

I used to eat three pints of ice cream a week and stop every day on the way home from work to pick up candy. I'd eat a bag of Chex Mix in a sitting, four cups of coffee in the morning, and a few Cokes throughout the day. I'd eat a lousy breakfast, skip lunch entirely, have a big dinner then snack all night. And I let myself get away with it for a while because, hey, I'm a vegetarian so if I'm not eating all that meat, I might as well let myself indulge because it all balances out, right? Now I rarely have ice cream, never stop for candy, limit myself to two cups of coffee and I haven't had a soda in probably six months. I regularly have a decent breakfast and eat a good solid lunch that includes salad and rarely do I eat after dinner.

What the hell has happened to me? What's going on here? Have I done the impossible and grown up? The idea scares the hell out of me but I can't help but think that's exactly what's happened.

How would you change your eating habits if you could? And what's your most severe food vice?

Posted by Chris at 6:55 AM | Comments (21)

September 1, 2010

Beck and Call

Oh Glenn Beck you confuse me so. You are clearly a man with an identity crisis.

It's hard to claim to be a political hero on one hand, claiming that your own event was the size and importance of "defining political moments" such as Reagan's inauguration, while telling everyone earlier in the year that you use politics as a front to gain a foothold in the entertainment industry ("I could give a flying crap about the political process," continuing on to say that Mercury Radio Arts, his production company, is "an entertainment company".) And it's hard for me to buy the "secular conservative" routine while, at the same time, you're holding a prayer vigil in Washington followed by a rally injected with religious overtones on the National Mall. ("Recognize your place to the creator. Realize that he is our king. He is the one who guides and directs our life and protects us. I ask, not only if you would pray on your knees, but pray on your knees but with your door open for your children to see." Or, later, "My role, as I see it, is to wake America up to the backsliding of principles and values and most of all of God.")

Most of all, though, you can't claim to be a supporter of diversity in the United States when you hold a politically inflammatory rally on the Mall on the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's march on Washington. Especially after you've said that the country's most highly recognizable African American leader - the President - is "a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." Because what exactly is that "white culture" you're referring to? And what is this "restoring honor" thing about? One supporter and rally attendee summed it up nicely as an attempt to "get our country back to its original roots." Which is a nice idea and all until you recall that those roots grew out of a deep and solid bed of slavery racial intolerance.

A.J. Calhoun, an attendee King's march on Washington in 1963 called Beck's stunt a "rally of right-wingers, Tea Partiers, neoconservatives, fascists, the delusional and the truly wicked, (and) the New Kluxers disguised as patriots wanting something they cannot or will not identify openly." I don't know if I'd go that far, but I would call Beck's truly ardent followers misguided. Alexander Zaitchik - author and Beck biographer - backs me up. "This is the guy who has a whole history, going back in Top 40 radio, of using racist jokes, racist humor, making fun of police brutality, and with a very deep hatred for black social justice activists. Beck stood by his claim that Obama is a racist and has frequently referred to the president's initiatives – including health care – as reparations." About the event on the Mall Zaitchik had this to say: "I view this through a prism of his business – he's in a very competitive media world with many distractions and this will enable him to be the topic of conversation."

Though there will most likely never come a point at which I would agree with Glenn Beck, I'd respect him a lot more if he could figure out who he is. As it stands, he's just a fame whore with a core following of angry people looking in the wrong direction for answers and holding himself up as that answer, constantly changing with the question.

Maybe DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said it best when describing King's march on Washington. "Our country reached to overcome the low points of our racial history. Glenn Beck's march will change nothing." Now if we could just make him go away.


Posted by Chris at 6:59 AM | Comments (21)


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