July 30, 2012

Carrying A Torch

I am an absolute sucker for the Olympics. Without shame I will watch every event, root for every underdog and absorb every cheesy human interest story for two solid weeks. In our house, these two weeks are a time during which the TV stays on (seriously, that never happens), children are actively encouraged to watch and the finer points of well known and not so well known sports are discussed. (And when we don't know the answers, we turn to Wikipedia or make them up.) If you'd eavesdropped yesterday you would have heard shouts of Go USA!, hurry up whoever you are in lane five or I'm voting for those guys wearing blue so go blue guys!.

In short, I think the Olympics are a hundred shades of awesome. I wait for them for years, mourn the closing ceremonies, and cherish the memories of me and my family pulling for kids who have identified, worked hard for, and sometimes accomplished their dreams.

Are you as obsessed as I am? Tell me I'm not the only one.

Posted by Chris at 7:41 AM | Comments (19)

Haiku For Monday #420

Need more sleep. Really.
I could use, like, twenty more
hours. In a row. Thanks.

Posted by Chris at 7:04 AM

July 27, 2012

The Weeklies #222

The Weekly Number. 222.

The Weekly Relocation. Same job, new office. I moved into a new office building this week. It's three miles from my house. I can almost see my house from my office. Almost.

The Weekly Read. Pocket 47 by Jude Hardin was a great find. All-in-all it's a pretty typical murder mystery with pretty stereotypical bad people being hunted by a pretty typical PI with the typical troubled past from which he's running. But the writing was really good and the execution was superb. You also don't see many rock musicians-turned-private investigators all that often. Is it worth reading? Right after I was done with it, I downloaded Hardin's second book. So, yeah.

The Weekly Television Addiction. Breaking Bad is back!

The Weekly Anti-Gay Asshats. If you've ever been in a Chick-Fil-A, you know it's a wonderfully run business with great, well-trained staff. But they hate gay people. Also, the Boy Scouts, who need to work on their tolerance badge.

The Weekly Loss. Sherman Hemsley - George Jefferson - and Sally Ride - the first woman in space - died. I'm disproportionately saddened by these losses and I hope they both continue to be remembered for the pioneers they were.

The Weekly Question. Were the sanctions and penalties against Penn State too harsh, just right or not enough?

Posted by Chris at 7:02 AM | Comments (14)

July 26, 2012

Bowling For Gotham

I realize that as a topical blogger I am remiss in discussing the shootings in Colorado. The reason I've not talked about it so far is really because I don't know what to say. But I do know a couple of things.

I know that crazy people and guns don't mix. And the ability of crazy people - or anyone, really - to get guns is mystifying to me. If guns are legal then should be in place absolutely every opportunity to properly screen individuals buying guns. Issue licenses for finite periods of time available after rigorous training classes are passed, background checks performed and require gun owners to recertify every five years. We do this with cars and motorcycles, teachers certifications and medical licenses. Why not gun ownership. And if folks want to argue about infringement on rights, well, seems like getting killed by a crazed gunman is just about the ultimate infringement, right?

I know that the healthcare system in this country needs to stop differentiating between physical and mental illnesses. Treatment and insurance coverage must be just as available - with less stigma - for schizophrenia as for diabetes, for depression as for heart disease. The number of people in this country who are unable to seek and receive help for physical conditions is staggering. The number who are unable to get necessary psychiatric help is shameful.

I know that my kids could have been in that theater. I have absolutely no idea what the victims and their families are feeling but I can imagine. And what I can imagine is tragic, horrific, and terribly sad.

Posted by Chris at 7:04 AM | Comments (8)

July 25, 2012

Textual Healing

I had a meeting with a colleague in Maryland yesterday afternoon. I didn't manage to get in my car to head home until 5:00. If you know anything about the DC area, you know this means that I was entirely screwed and doomed to a terrible commute. I texted Beth - who has the "find my friends" app installed on her iPhone so we can see where we are, geographically - to let her know I was stuck in traffic.

Beth: You're making great time I see.
Me: Ha. Yeah, right.
Beth: I could text you about everything I did today. The scintillating tale would really make the time fly.
Me: Go for it.
Beth: Grocery shopping.
Beth: Laundry.
Beth: Vacuuming.
Beth: Cleaning bathrooms.
Beth: Chopping vegetables.
Beth: Hot, huh?
Me: I have a raging boner.
Beth: I knew it.
Beth: Seems like you've gone four miles in 30 minutes.
Me: My raging hard-on is wreaking havoc with my car's wind resistance.
Beth: Close the windows.
Me: The windows are closed but obviously the sunroof has to be open.

The only thing that makes this whole exchange even more bizarre is that I was trying to be a good driver. Instead of traditional texting in traffic, I was using Siri, my hands-free electronic girlfriend. So, yeah, I was actually saying this stuff out loud. In my car. Alone.

Why don't Beth and I have a sitcom deal yet?

Posted by Chris at 7:36 AM | Comments (10)

July 24, 2012

Without Trees

This from Owen in the car the other day:


Are we in our neighborhood? And our country? Because our neighborhood is in our country, right? I know why they call it a country. Because there are trees in it. A country has trees. See? Take the trees out of our country and we're just cunts.

While I'm positive this is just a four year old taking apart words and putting them back together, I choose to believe he's just a vulgar environmentalist.

Posted by Chris at 7:44 AM | Comments (16)

July 23, 2012

Seven

Mia - my Amelia, my Mia Bean - turned seven yesterday. Seven. Exactly how did that happen?

Mia is one of the people I admire most in the world. Not just love or respect, or cherish but really and truly admire.

Mia has no preconceived ideas about how things should be or how she could act. She is who she is and, while there is occasionally a bit of stress when she approaches life a little differently than the majority of her friends, it's easily and quickly forgotten. Mia is talented. She has a wonderful voice, an ear for music, and an enthusiasm for performing. I'm not like that at all and it's awe-inspiring to see a girl get up in front of hundreds of people, sing, and not get the least bit nervous. Mia's also a geek in hiding. She claims not to like Star Wars, to pay attention only because Owen likes it. But that doesn't really explain why she listens to Star Wars audiobooks when she thinks no one's paying attention or always recommends Star Wars games on the Wii even when Owen isn't anywhere close. Above all Mia is stubborn. She knows what she wants and accomplishes it almost without exception. She swam against sixty girls in her age group this weekend and despite performing in a two and a half hour musical the night before, she took home a silver medal. Not bad for a 42" girl.

Mia is one of my favorite people not because of what she could become (though that's part of it) but because of what she is. And the fact that she's a lot of things I wished I'd been more of when I was her age.

When Mia came into the world she was a black-haired, screaming ball of attitude and I am 100% positive that when I leave this world she'll have made an indelible mark on it. She's already changed me beyond words.

Bean, I love you. I am and always will be proud to be your dad. And I'm honored that you're my daughter. You are wonderful.

Posted by Chris at 7:31 AM | Comments (10)

Haiku For Monday #419

Man, what a weekend.
I think I need some extra
recovery time.

Posted by Chris at 7:05 AM

July 20, 2012

The Weeklies #221

The Weekly Lame Excuse For A The Weeklies Post But Great Opportunity To Check Out Some Music: So, this week's been a toughie. Seriously. But I did manage to find some time to squeeze in a little music podcast that I bet you all figured I'd abandoned long ago. If you're working, strap on some headphones and give it a whirl. You can stream it (below) or download it


Posted by Chris at 7:35 AM

July 19, 2012

An Open Letter To Lady Gaga

Dear Stefani - or - Your Gaganess,

Though I believe your music to be catchy and your self-defined image remarkable and compelling, I'm writing on behalf of my four year old son Owen. You see, Owen is somewhat obsessed with you. Not in a weird stalkerish kind of way. I mean, how weird and stalkerish can a cute blond-haired blue-eyed four year old be? (Answer: not very.) Every night I'm convinced to open my iPad and look for pictures of you in various music publications. Every evening I'm asked where you live, how far away your are, and invited to drive him to New York City where he believes he would be able find you instantly and serenade you with a chorus of the only vaguely inappropriate Poker Face. I've often thought of driving him to downtown DC, pointing out some random, garishly dressed blond chick but that seems like dishonest parenting parenting to me.

Anyway, he has questions so if you could find it in your heart to answer I'd appreciate it:

- Where do you live?
- Can we drive there and see you tonight?
- Why are your shoes so tall?
- What is your favorite kind of ice cream?
- Do you have enough money for a shirt because I have $40 and you can have some?

Sincerely,
Chris (and Owen, a little monster)

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

July 18, 2012

A Hypothetical

Let's say you're a working mom or dad and you send your child to a wonderful child care facility. The staff is wonderful and the environment is friendly and challenging (in a good way, not like kids have to step over burning coals to get to the bathroom). As a result, you've seen your child grow in a number of many different ways and give the excellent staff a lot of credit for making that happen. Let us further imagine that one day surfing your favorite social networking site - we'll call it Schmacebook - you stumble across the profile of one of your child's teachers. You are initially inclined to let this person have their privacy when you realize:

a) Fuck that, it's the internet and if he hadn't wanted people to see he wouldn't have posted; and

b) The remark he made about kids being only a small step above pigeons on the evolutionary scale was only overshadowed by the comment about children being slightly smarter but less useful than dinner plates.

The question: Do you do anything about this? And if so, what? When our online and offline lives - personal and professional - collide what should happen?

Disclaimer: Before you jump to any conclusions I'd like to assure all of you people who know me or may stumble across me in real life that this is not about us, our kids, or actual dinner plates. No pigeons were harmed or forced to do math during the drafting or subsequent posting of this entry.

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (22)

July 17, 2012

Under The Influence

Be strong and courageous.
- Joshua 1:9

Earlier this month we sent the kids to vacation bible school. It was a perfect experience for them to see old friends and learn new things. About god, specifically.

During our first seven kid-raising years, we've spent a good chunk of time talking about god and all sorts of godly things. As with everything, we tell our kids the truth, explain to them what we know when the truth isn't always obvious or apparent, and, when asked, share our points of view and what we believe. You can't help being an influence on your kids. Parents are actually supposed to influence their children. But we don't want to make their decisions and their beliefs for them. What we're trying to say is here's what we know now make up your own minds. We're blessed with strong-willed, independent-minded, stubborn children. (Seriously, you cannot possibly underestimate the mental exhaustion achieved while discussing serious issues like heaven or the Big Bang Theory or evolution or who'd win in a fight between Batman and Darth Vader.) (Batman, right?)

At one point during the vacation bible school week, Mia came home with a necklace she'd made. On one side was a cross, on the other the verse above. I told her I liked it, that she was my strong and courageous girl, and that I respected her for it. She said thanks then told me she only wore the necklace with the cross facing her since she didn't believe in god. Her decision, I guess, but even the atheist that I am doesn't want her to rule anything out at this young age. Unless those things are drugs, dating, teen pregnancy, mean girls, and, possibly, cheerleading.

God is like meat in our house. Beth and I don't buy it but that doesn't mean it can't be consumed within these four walls.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to walk into his room one day and find Owen reading the bible and gnawing on a chicken wing.

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

July 16, 2012

Lateover

Know what I learned over the weekend? I'm glad I'm not the father of nine girls.

Though Mia's official birthday doesn't happen until the 22nd, we had her party over the weekend. We went with the hip new trend and had a lateover.

Lateover: A party occurring late in the day which involves dinner and other activities followed by a movie in sleeping bags and PJs sprinkled with fits of dancing and screaming after which you kick kids out of your house before any actual sleeping takes place. This ensures that they will be returned to their actual parents to deal with bed time and/or any after-effects of residual sugar-highs.

So, yeah, we did that. It went pretty well. Mia absolutely loved it and everyone seemed to have fun. Beth and I, well, let's put it this way - we were glad this was something that ended after four hours. Which means we're really screwed when it comes time for actual sleepovers.

Posted by Chris at 8:02 AM | Comments (3)

Haiku For Monday #419

Decorated in
pink streamers, my house looks like
a big pepto spill.

Posted by Chris at 7:38 AM

July 13, 2012

The Weeklies #220

The Weekly Number. I was reminded no less than a dozen times this week that I'm turning 40 in six months. Let the countdown begin!

The Weekly Read. What would happen if zombies walked the earth but tried hard to become valuable members of society? Don't Eat Cat by Jess Walter explores just that. Plus our near-future obsession with Starbucks.

The Weekly Unsolicited Email Rant. I received this Wednesday night. I was intrigued.

The worst thing about the United States of America is that there aren’t enough dollars for the people. If we had enough dollars for all of the people, then things would be okay. Take for example: Russia.

In Russia, they certainly don’t have enough dollars for all of the people. Have you seen the peasants over there these days? What a bunch of ugly Russians.

Is that where you want this country to go? To go to Russia? I’ll be dead before I go to Russia, even if it is on vacation or a government grant to investigate the prison system over there. That’s another thing about this country – if you ask me, which you certainly are since you continue to read this – and who asked you anyway? Just keep your nose out of this – anyway, where was it? Oh yes, there are too many prisons in this country. I maintain that if we keep the dollars out of prisons, then there will be plenty of dollars for everyone and not enough prisons that the government wishes to invest hard newly minted money in grants to give to me to go investigate Russian prisons.

In conclusion, give me your money and I’ll tell you all of my great ideas.

The Weekly Music. I put a few new stories on Mia's iPod the other day and, in the process, loaded every single Beatles song recorded. When I told her, she lit up. I'm finally making progress and we might be moving on past Glee soundtracks.

The Weekly TV Obsession. Kinda getting back into Doctor Who after along absence.

The Weekly Question. Was anyone actually surprised by the whole Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes divorce?

Posted by Chris at 8:13 AM | Comments (4)

July 12, 2012

Chicken In My Freezer

I have a big bag of chicken in my freezer. I know. Some of you are saying big whoop (because you're 12 and in the 1980s). But seeing as how I'm a vegetarian, it's a little odd. It's not just me. Beth's a vegetarian too. As hard as we tried to get Mia to try and like everything, she's started identifying herself as one as well. But not Owen. Owen's our little carnivore.

We finally understood what was going on when we walked into a restaurant the other day, the waiter came over, and Owen immediately piped up with I'd like meat please (Owen's also our only little extrovert). Not chicken or steak or salmon (which he believes to be the best thing to ever put in his mouth). Just meat. And he ate meat. And it was good.

I honestly don't care. I want my kids to be health and happy and sensible. If it costs the world a few chickens, so be it. I'm not about to put my preferences above his.

I do draw the line somewhere. I mean, if he decides to play tambourine in an Air Supply cover band while pursuing a career as a Mexican wrestler, I think we're going to have a conversation.

Posted by Chris at 7:09 AM | Comments (3)

July 11, 2012

Texting While Parenting: An Excerpt

Me: Both kids are sobbing. I get bonus points for that, right?
Her: What did you do to them?
Me: I locked them in the basement, blasted The Carpenters' Greatest Hits and beheaded stuffed animals in a ritual sacrifice to easy listening music.
Her: Oh.
Me: Not really. It was Air Supply. I hate The Carpenters.

Some days being four and six is rough. Some days being thirty-nine is a little tricky too.

Posted by Chris at 7:22 AM | Comments (2)

July 10, 2012

Not Those Parents

I admire the heck out of my daughter but she constantly forces me to defend my parenting skills.

Mia is stubborn. When she wants to do something, she does it. When Mia was three and she woke up every Saturday morning hearing the swim team competing at the pool down the street she wanted nothing more than to do it. She dragged us to the pool every day until she could swim, then tried out for the team - this short, stubborn four year old with hair like a mermaid - and smoked everyone in her age group. When she saw a friend in a musical, she wanted nothing more than to do it. Not only did she convince us that she should audition for their next production but drafted Beth to audition with her. She won the most pivotal role in the production, nailed it every night, and when I asked her after the first night if she was nervous she said why would I have been? like stagefright was a completely alien concept.

Whenever I tell people these things - that she's an awesome swimmer who has won more than her fair share of blue ribbons and that she's now performing in her second stage production - I feel like I'm instantly forced to defend myself. But we're not those parents...really!

Really. We're not. My kids need to try stuff. They need to be adventurous. They need to experience the world and find out what they want to do and what they never want to do again. You have to push, as parents, but you can't push too much. By the same token, it's our job as parents to allow our kids to try all those new things but our duty to make sure they don't overextend themselves. Simply, its our job to them find the middle ground between complacence and overscheduled.

My daughter is perhaps the most determined person I've ever met. She shows no regard for what should be the limitations of a kid her age and measures herself not against what her friends are able to do but what she thinks she should be able to do. When she looks in the mirror she sees not a 46 inch tall kid but a giant capable of almost anything. And she's determined to make the rest of the world see her that way too.

So, really, I'm cool with defending my parenting skills so long as they allow her to become the giant she wants to be.


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

July 9, 2012

Fast And Furious

Let's see...it's been a while. Honestly this holiday-in-the-middle-of-the-week thing confused the hell out of me. It was hard to get my bearings. Though now that it's Monday morning and I have a list of approximately 7,516 things to do, my bearings are rushing at me like a freight train full of...full of...7,516 of things to do. And I'm a little exhausted. Why? Allow me to explain.

Wednesday. The Fourth of July. General chilling out; pool visits; fireworks buying; family Fourth celebration and cookout. 100 degree heat.

Thursday. Swim team practice; general merrymaking; pool visit; aborted water park attempt. 100 degree heat.

Friday. Swim team practice; five hour water park visit; exhaustion and minor dehydration; sleep. 100 degree heat.

Saturday. Swim meet; random errands; movie night. 100 degree heat.

Sunday. Random errands; Wii; competitive Lego building; playing with the neighbors; birthday cake ordering (Mia). 100 degree heat.

So, yeah, the past several days have been busy. And hot. They've been fantastic, though. From the Fourth through yesterday around 2:30, I was able to completely disconnect from work. It was a nice feeling, not worrying about whatever was going on and the fires I'd have to put out today. It was fun spending time with the kids. Especially the five hours on Friday floating down the water park's lazy river, watching my children discover the awesomeness that is The Incredibles, watching Mia not only not disqualify but win breaststroke and butterfly races, and seeing Owen bellyflop in the water for his first-ever swim team dive.

What did you do with your holidays and weekends?

Posted by Chris at 7:37 AM | Comments (5)

July 7, 2012

Haiku For Monday #418

Like a firework
my Monday just blew up. Let's
hope it fizzles out.

Posted by Chris at 7:09 AM

July 5, 2012

Faster That The Speed Of Life

I can't believe that it's already the fourth - scratch that, fifth - of July. Wasn't it just yesterday that we were tearing down the Christmas tree and trying to get the kids to put their presents away? Now fireworks are booming, temperatures are topping 100, and Mia is about to turn seven (SEVEN!).

I hate to sound cliche - though at some point cliches become cliches because they're true - but time is flying at a rate I'm not entirely comfortable with. I can do one of two things about this.

1. I can go out back and plant myself in a lawn chair for the next two days and - literally - watch grass grow. I'm pretty sure that would make time feel as though it was flowing a little less quickly. Or...

2. I could take the next two days off and spend them with my family, appreciate the time instead of worrying about it slipping away.

As much fun as that grass watching thing sounds, I think I'll go with the second option. I'll see you guys on Monday.

Posted by Chris at 7:13 AM | Comments (1)

July 3, 2012

Storm

On Friday night, a little after 10:00, the storm struck. I've lived through tornados and hurricanes yet this was like nothing I've ever seen. We heard the wind start like a low, rumbling wave from the distance and stood staring out the back window. And then the wave crashed over our house, trees blowing, solid walls of water pelting, lightning cracking. Within 15 minutes, the power was out, large sections of trees in our yard had splintered and littered the ground, and then silence.

We opened the windows since the temperature had dropped significantly from its high that day of 100. We slept and awoke to bright silence the next morning. No electricity. Planes from the nearby airport were grounded.

As it turned out the winds reached 82 miles an hour for that brief period of time. Power companies called the damage catastrophic. Coincidentally Beth and I'd both filled up our cars on Friday. We didn't need gas, thank god, because no gas stations were open. Some grocery stores were running on generators, shelves emptied of anything that could go bad.

The outages were oddly spotty so we were able to find some cool places to exist for a while. A good thing since we had sustained triple digit heat Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, we found an open pizza place next to an open movie theater. We ate then saw Brave. (It wasn't terrible but I expect better from Pixar.) Then we headed to the mall, browsed the stores, bought some stuff, and went to dinner. We returned home to a very hot house. It was 95 degrees on the second floor, 85 on the first but a nice cool 65 in the basement. And that's precisely where we slept - on the basement floor.

Sunday morning started hot and got hotter. We ate what little was in our house for breakfast then abandoned ship and headed to Beth's parents. They'd gotten their power back the day before. We went out to lunch, changed into bathing suits and hit their neighborhood pool, took showers, and had a nice homecooked dinner. Then we returned home. And when we did, Beth flipped a light switch in the garage - just to see - and there was light.

The storm did plenty of damage. We lost most of a tree and we were forced to throw out nearly every food item in the house. But it's nothing we can't recover from. It is a nice reminder, however, of just how close we all are to living much differently than we do on a daily basis.

But yay for air conditioning.

Posted by Chris at 7:24 AM | Comments (7)


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