Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Past

It's a gray day outside my window as I sit in the bedroom, laptop open and ready to write. From my view, I can see the neighbor boy and a friend wildly riding bikes in the driveway while I simultaneously hear my older daughters playing the Wii downstairs. Thankfully all this noise hasn't woke our newborn, Katie (6 weeks old today), and she's finally sleeping in her crib. Now that I have some time to relax and observe kids instead of interacting with them, I wonder why my first thought is of our Christmas in 2007.

Our lives today are filled with schoolwork, activities and taking care of an infant. Back 4 years ago, our family had a much greater challenge as Emily was in the midst of treatment for Wilms' Tumors. In mid November, Emy had major surgery in New York City and it wasn't until mid December that we finally had clearance to come back home. Since we were gone so long and had no opportunity to decorate our house for the holidays, Dana and I decided that we would just "get to it when we got to it". After all Emily had been through, we really didn't have the time to even think about Christmas; making it through one day at a time was all we honestly cared about. Cancer was robbing us of having a normal life. It was pure hell.

But as we have come to appreciate, life filled with adversity does come with a beautiful counterpart. Upon arriving home from a world filled with pokes and fear, my family walked through the front door and saw that our Christmas tree was up, decorated, and had presents underneath.

A Christmas miracle! Hope, joy, and love bestowed on a weary family and especially a frail little girl with an emotional disconnect, fighting for her life. There are few sights I will remember more fondly than this. Emily's face: the amazement, happiness, life!!!!! I cry with the image burned into my memory. Her world was back to normal for a moment in time when she needed it most. Emily, our Emily, was back!!!!!

So here I am now, sitting in the bedroom and wiping away the tears of a Christmas memory. Why this is happening to me at this moment I don't understand. Perhaps my life has gotten "too normal" and God is reminding me to count myself as blessed. After all, I do have three healthy and wonderful children and an amazing wife I don't deserve. My world is good; I really do need to see that more clearly.

This day before Christmas Eve, I think a trip to the past was the best gift I could have received. My present is that much sweeter for remembering how far we have come. Hopefully this very special Christmas memory should keep me on the path of giving and appreciation; it's one road that can be bypassed when we sadly let selfishness take control of the wheel. Can't let that happen too often!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Day Is Almost Here

Dear Buddy,

You are scheduled to enter this world tomorrow morning around 8:00 and your mother and I are beyond excited to finally meet you. Your two sisters and Nana are just as anxious to see you too, and you will meet them after you have a bath, meal, and a change of attire that you haven't needed until now. The world we live in stands at the ready for our phone call and email telling them you are now with us. Your birth is on the minds of so many who, you will learn, have already started loving you.

Our lives have been blessed by you and soon we won't hardly recognize the world that we lived in without you. What you need to know is too hard for me to sit and write down today. Your mom and I will teach you a few things once in a while that you won't understand, but we hope that someday you will remember those life lessons that all kids learn the hard way and make good choices going forward. I know that I am going to make mistakes with you (your sisters can attest to that) but I promise to do my best not to scar you for life in any shape or fashion. When I falter, and I will, try to remember that I'm not just your Dad but that I'm also flawed like everyone else. If you could also remember that I love you with every fiber of my being, maybe my missteps won't seem so awful.

You will find out that you have the most amazing sisters in the whole world. Emily and Samantha have been kissing your mother's belly since the day we could see you moving around inside mommy and they have loved you and the thought of you for a long time. Try to see them for the sweet and gentle souls they really are and not as the source of constant competition for our affection. The girls are very smart and loving, but there will be times when you will question every ounce of that. Please don't. They will always be there to love and protect you even if it seems that they'd rather set you on the curb for trash pickup. Your sisters have wanted you in their world just as much as mommy and me.

If I could share some words about your mother, you would find that I couldn't find enough adjectives to describe the beautiful woman and person that I married 11 years ago. Mommy is a loving, generous, creative, intelligent, and strong woman who is devoted to her children even as she works to provide a life for us all that takes her away from the house each day. You won't have to learn much about mommy now; you've already felt her love as you grew inside the womb. Just know that her love for you and your sisters only grows stronger each day. Watch her, learn from her, and be prepared to be amazed! You are blessed to have her in your life just as much as we all are.

As I'm writing this letter to you, Buddy, I'm filled with overwhelming feelings of love for our family. You are part of that world already and I just can't wait to hold you in my arms to tell you how much that I love you. As you grow up, you will be surrounded by family and friends who couldn't wait for the day of your birth. Lucky for them and us, that day is almost here. See you soon!

Love always,
Daddy  :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Who's There?

While playing around with the set-up features of this blog, I discovered viewer stats that I never knew existed. Though I have no idea WHO specifically is reading my entries, I found out WHERE people are seeing this. It's  a kind of creepy-yet awesomely cool feeling to know that I'm not the only one reading my own words. Makes me less lonely I guess. Blogging can be sad.

Before I go cry myself to sleep,  I'd like to warmly acknowledge a few loyal people:

Thank you, 53 communists who made Russia my second biggest country in terms of viewership! You rallied to beat Germany (47) again. By the way, did you know that you two are very competitive people by nature. No fighting over me, please. I have plenty of blog for you to share.

Thank you, 29 random people from The Netherlands who read me last week. I'm guessing that it must have been too cold in Amsterdam to leave the house in search of weed. Don't really know what drove you guys to find me (red lights?), but I'm thankful nonetheless.

Thank you, 8 United Arab Emirates citizens who helped put my words into a part of the world that I will never see. Your efforts have now landed me on 3 continents. Praise Allah! Though this is awessome, I'd like you to find Jesus at some point. Look for me to blog about that before the end of days in 2012.

And finally, thank you to the 937 Americans who I most likely will never know. Should we ever happen to meet, greet me with the phrase "Here is $100.". If it's not too much to ask, hand me the cash next. It's only polite to follow through with what you said and integrity is important after all. Anything less than that would be distinctly un-American. You don't want to be un-American now, do you? I didn't think so either.

Help me go global and put this blog on the map! I want peeps in Asia and Africa soon; too many of them not to have at least one reader, right? Adios mi amigos!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Universal Buddy

My daughters are really enjoying Dana's pregnancy these past few weeks. Their endless kisses and pokes to mommy's belly is overwhelming proof that Emy and Sami are ready to meet their sibling. You can even hear the excitement in their voices as they talk about "our" baby. Sometime in the past month, this kiddo stopped being just Dana's and mine; Buddy now belongs to them too. I think this quasi-ownership is super cute. I also think it's just the honeymoon phase.

Here is what I strongly believe:
  1. The girls will love their new brother/sister as much as they love each other.
  2. Our family dynamic will change for the betterment of each of us.
  3. Dana and I will witness growth and maturity from our children that will amaze us.
  4. For all the proclamations of love that this baby will bring, neither daughter of mine will volunteer to change the first explosive diaper that leaks through the onesie, soaks the crib sheet, and takes 15 wipes to clean.
It's safe to assume that after #4 happens (technically a number 2?), Buddy's novelty will wear off and the girls will resume their lives of self promotion and personal advancement. In other words, "our" baby will quickly become "your" baby to my precious daughters. Anything short of this will bring profound confusion to their parents.

We are all extremely anxious to meet Buddy in less than 3 weeks! Dana's health is good, the kids are somewhat helpful with the chores we've given them, and I'm fighting back the fears of being a dad again at age 42. Despite what would seem like an upheaval in our routine, our lives are constantly in a state of flux anyway; adding a new family member is a life change that we only see as a blessing from God.

"Our" baby, is what my girls are calling their unborn sibling at the moment. How long this universal ownership lasts will just depend on our transition from a familiar quartet to a party of five. When we hear "your" baby from our daughters' mouths for the first time, Dana and I will have confirmation that Buddy's sisters have made the adjustment to living alongside a  newborn with flying colors. Hearing "our" baby  is wonderful even if it's only temporary.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

3, 2, 1. Blast Off!!!

I have a buzz.

One glass of wine is all it took. For those who are asking, Beringer's 2010 White Zinfandel made this all possible. Thank you, notable vineyard from Napa Valley.

Since I'm maneuvering in a numerical numbness, 3 weeks and 2 days is all that's left between us as the family of 4 we all know and understand, and the family of 5 we have wanted to be for a long time. Baby Buddy is a mover and shaker en utero, so my guess is that he/she is going to keep us on our toes for the better part of the next 25 years. We're all calling the baby "Buddy" during this time because:

1. we don't know the gender, and
2. this child is going to be someone's (or everyone's) constant companion for a good long time.

The excitement of a new life is hard to quantify since the variables of that child are consistently inconsistent. Will the baby be healthy? We he/she cry all the time? Are we prepared for poop running up the back again after a long layoff? These burning questions will all soon be answered.

I will confess to this, I'm nearly ready for the challenge all over again. I just need more sleep, less homework, and a 2nd bottle of wine to be properly chilled in the fridge at all times. I rarely have a drink now but I have the feeling that this 3rd baby o' mine is going to have a happier daddy after 10 PM than his/ her sisters had. Alcohol or not, my two daughters broke me in and I'm now an "experienced" father who shouldn't make the same dumb mistakes I once did.

Baby Buddy is almost here! In 23 days, our lives will start down another path and the Jones family won't look the same way it once did. Sure, we'll still have our moments of endless laughter and tears, but now another soul will add it's voice to our choir. Will it drown out it's sisters' or will it blend harmoniously with everyone's? Time will tell. My guess is that a daily afternoon glass of wine will calm the nerves and give me the clarity needed to help conduct this symphony,..........

..........or give me a buzz to drown out all the noise.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Baby Buddy Shall Be Named ...........

My wife is 29 weeks pregnant right now and looking every part of the beautiful momma to be for the third time. It's at this place in her pregnancy where every one starts asking the question "Have you picked out a name for the baby yet?"

Uh, yes and no. If Buddy (that's the name we gave to our not so hidden bundle) is a boy, then yes, we have something to work with. But if Buddy turns out to be a girl.... how do I say this nicely,  we're screwed.

Coming up with names hasn't been difficult; there are probably 10 names we like individually. The problem is agreeing on one. I like Amanda. Dana like Olivia. I like Jennifer. Dana likes Madison. I like ketchup. Dana likes mustard. Less filling. Tastes great. We're at a standstill.

There has to be a solution that gives our daughter a dignified name before she leaves the hospital. Dana bought a baby naming book to help us out and since we're middle class white folk, there are no plans to get creative with consonants, vowels, or commas. Not giving our kid a symbol either.

La'Babeegurl3 Jones ain't happening.

Since we are almost 2 months away from the c-section and are stuck in this process, I think we should sell the naming rights. Seriously. We all know people who will spend money on anything and maybe one of them will give us tuition money for the honor.

"Have you always wanted to have a child named after you?" "Do you have someone special in your life that's really hard to buy a gift for?" "Is there a legacy you want to leave and no one to leave it to?" Well come on down and pull up a seat. I might have a deal for you!

If Reliant Stadium in Houston can have a 32 year, $300 million naming rights deal, why the heck can't we sell our kid's name for a fraction of that? Seems like a good investment to me. Dana and I make good looking and smart kids with tremendous entertainment value. Our stock is solid.

So let me just leave this post with this; if you know of a female name that sounds great to you that won't offend anyone or be a pain in the ass for our kid to spell, send me an email. If you know of a millionaire who has money to burn, give me a phone call. If you have a serious stockpile of cash and stocks, come on over.

Limited Edition Jones will be here in November. Act now while supplies last.

Monday, August 8, 2011

tick tock

Two weeks from today the 2011-12 school year and my "get the house ready for a new baby" clock both begin. Though driving the kids to school on that day will be easy, deciding which part of the house needs demolishing first will be much more difficult. Just thinking about the numerous tasks gives me a headache and that's why I not only super-sized my recent Tylenol purchase, but I also often stop myself from planning it all out. The truth that is just so hard to come to grips with is this: the more thought that goes into the revamping of our home, the less likely I'm going to move a damn thing.

As far as this blog goes, I no longer have time for snarky comments or laughable sarcasm. I do have one request though: I would appreciate it if anyone can tell me where a dumpster can be rented. I'm going to need a REALLY BIG one.

Wish me, my head, and my back, lots of luck. I just hope I'll have time to rest before Buddy makes his/her grand entrance both into this world and a clean, safe, and totally organized home (if I get the job done).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Perpetual Motion has the temperature outside at a cool 103 degrees so I decided to shirk the parental duty of taking my kid outside to play. Instead, I am engaged in the act of adding another entry to this forgotten blog with the hopes that my mobile imagination station, known as Sami, plays in the other room; quietly, softly, and sitting down. Those three activities are all possible but sadly for me, just not very likely. She truly never stops moving, talking, or moving and talking. Unless of course if the TV is on.

As I finished that last sentence, Sami came rushing in here to tell me SHE was ready to play the Wii. Wonderful! So happy for her that she's come to that conclusion! Is it OK for me to not immediately get up and act on her desire or can I just sit here and finish writing? Of course not. We're all at her beck and call. She's 5 and I'm not.

Though I would really like to keep writing, I have to go now. My kid keeps brushing past me like a vulture and I'm the carrion. If I don't move, Sami won't leave me alone and if I act too quickly, she'll pull me into her vortex. I love her with all my heart and that which makes her who she is. Unfortunately, that makes me one tired pop and if I'm going to get any break at all from her, I need a nap more than I need to blog.

After the TV goes on, I can get some rest from the Energizer Bunny as she falls into a trance and finally sits down.

Click! Nighty night. Sami will wake me up when the cartoon goes off.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book of Secret?

I have news to share with my children but I'm waiting for my wife to allow me to tell them. Somewhere between a wonderful surprise and an enormous responsibility is where this news lies and we're going to need the kids to be a major part of the plan in order to be successful. How we reveal the secret is more important to my wife though and it has to be memorable. Dana is a photographer at heart and captures every event digitally. Since I'm the wordsmith and she's Annie Leibovitz, I think we're going to be putting our heads together to make this collaboration special. Home movie? Scrapbook? Music video? Just getting the creative juices flowing is fun and making Dana happy is the goal I can't lose sight of.

I'm under strict orders not to tell the kids my news until the time is right. I am just wondering if that includes indirect sunlight, fashionista primping, and a professional makeup artist. Dana is very particular when it comes to capturing life on film so there's a good chance our kids won't be town criers until Dana figures out the setting, location, and timing of the big reveal. When we do finally reveal the secret, trust me, everyone will know too as the girls don't know how to keep anything to themselves. I'm sure that ability will be acquired within the next 10 years or so but for now, my children are blissfully ignorant to the social dilemmas faced by adults. When it comes to divulging news, who you tell and when you tell it are two of the most important decisions people have to routinely make.

Before I open my big mouth, I'll just stop typing the thoughts that are streaming wildly out of my head. I apparently haven't learned the basic concept of zipping my lips and this blog might spur an email of two wondering what the hell I'm talking about. I guess the first rule in keeping something to yourself is not telling others that you are keeping something to yourself. Oops.

My kids take after me in more ways than one.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I Need Another Story

I'm shuffle-mode listening to i-tunes again and trying to think about what to write about next. The Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation project is done and I want to get back on track with blogging. The problem with music playing in the background is that I tend to forget my thoughts and just start singing the lyrics instead. Here's what I'm talking about:

One Republic's Secrets: "I need another story, something to get off my chest. My life gets kinda boring. Need something that I can confess."

Linkin Park's What I've Done: "In this farewell, there's no blood. there's no alibi. Cause I've drawn regret, from the truth, from a thousand lies. So let mercy come, and wash away what I've done."

Linkin Park's Waiting For The End: "This is not the end, this is not the beginning, just a voice like a riot rocking every revision. But you listen to the tone and the violent rhythm though the words sound steady something emptys within em."

I think everyone chooses songs for different reasons and though many of my musical preferences are the same as yours, I recently discovered that I'm drawn to songs that reflect pain with poetry. If the song has the same three lines sung ad nauseum, I'm just going to change the channel. But if the artist is lyrically clever, a la Eminem (sans vulgarity), I can listen to those selections all day. Since hurt and devastation are "easy" to write about, those type of songs tend to have the depth I'm looking for versus Top 40 chart toppers that often leave you singing along without ever prompting your mind to start working. "Baby you're a firework". Really? OK. With that in mind, BANG! I'm brain dead.

My wife had me download a song this morning that has meaning for her. It's Gratitude by Nichole Nordiman. As I'm writing this blog I'm also listening to it for the first time. I can hear the reasons why Dana would love it and though it wouldn't be something I'd put on my i-pod, I'm happy to bring some joy to my wife by giving her this download as a gift. For me there's just not enough pain to make the song very appealing.

What does that say about me? I guess that's a topic for another story. Just need to turn off i-tunes to make that happen.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Once a Moron, Always a Moron

I have a neighbor who can't help being who he is. What is he you ask? Let me make a list.

He is:
1. unmarried
2. 46 years old
3. 6'5" and 270 lbs
4. observably promiscuous
5. usually naked
6. oblivious to the fact that he lives in a residential neighborhood with a family of four next door.

On top of that, I would say without a doubt, that he is mostly:
7. a moron

Moron is defined as "a person who is notably stupid or lacking in good judgment". Considering we have a decade of experiences living next to him to draw from, I think you couldn't define this dude any better.

If moronic isn't the right adjective, you could say that he simply doesn't understand what I have repeatedly told him for the last 10 years; we are his NEIGHBORS. To be neighborly would imply being good natured, helpful, or friendly. Sometimes the guy next door has been just that. The problem is that I have to repeatedly knock on his door to get him to quit acting like a hormonally imbalanced teenager whose parents are gone for the weekend. Most of the problems he causes involve an abuse of alcohol and a lack of awareness. There are some though that just come from out of the blue.

The latest event that is fueling this blog entry just happened today. Sitting in the kitchen and paying the bills, I heard a truck slowly move back and forth in the alley behind my house. Since this is a rare happening, I ran upstairs to get a better look out of the bedroom window. I quickly and shockingly discovered that the truck was not in the alley like I thought. It was maneuvering back and forth on my side yard.

As fast as I could grab a crow bar and open the door, I popped outside only to find that Mr. Moron was right there leading his friend onto my yard (grass covered, expensive irrigation system underneath) so that he could use the truck to help trim his 40 foot illegal palm tree; the same one he already had trimmed a month ago by licensed professionals.

"What the hell are you doing??" I shouted. Beyond pissed, I walked over to my neighbor and almost broke his neck with the crowbar. (Not really, but I did wave it around and he got the message.)

The driver of the truck backed off my property and the moronic neighbor got an earful. Who the hell just tells someone to drive onto his neighbor's property? I asked Mr. Moron that and after a number of apologies and the offer to replace the deep tire tracks with new soil, I ran my sprinklers to determine how many heads the truck drove over. Gladly, and luckily for my neighbor, there were none.

I try to look for the good in a person or situation; it was how I was raised to be. But how can anyone accept the consistent stupidity of another? Let's be honest, I have enough problems already without this constant nonsense. My life doesn't need other distraction.

The moron next door clearly got my message and now I'm waiting to see what he's going to do next. After he repairs the damage to my lawn there will almost certainly be a period in which he will try desperately to avoid contact with me and especially my wife (he's afraid of her), and then he will eventually resume being the person he always is. After living next door to him this long, there is adequate proof to show that sadly, he will always be a moron.

What I should do to retaliate will be the subject of another blog. I have to go make sure that the truck isn't on my front lawn now.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bounce This

On behalf of my immune system, I'd like to thank Bounce U. for giving me the horrible cold I have today. You generously provided the breeding ground that viruses and bacteria thrive on and without you, I'd be able to breathe through my nose, take deep breaths without coughing, and get a decent night's rest. Your bounce houses were too inviting to leave alone so I guess this was your way of reminding me that I am really too old to play in them. Message received. :(

Again, thank you, Bounce U. for a fun filled, birthday party Saturday and a crappy, bed ridden rest of the week. Unfortunately, I won't be coming back until my sinuses stop draining and my throat can handle swallowing without pain. If my health ever improves, I'll bring some sanitizing wipes with me in case you never saw them before. I might even show you how to use them; provided my strained neck and back feel better too.

Friday, January 7, 2011

God Loves Donuts Too

There has to be a reason why I'm back at church.

Growing up attending Sunday services not equipped with air conditioning or padded seats was an uncomfortable experience, but the genesis of my religious discontent was the disconnect our leader had with his parish. For 10 years, I listened to a lifeless, mono-toned preacher hammer us with how we're all going to hell unless we followed a formula of prayer, confession, repentance, and attendance. Where was the hope? Couldn't anyone for a change have something positive to share during these services? Do I stand ANY chance of meeting my creator or should I just start applying heavy duty sunscreen for my eventual destination? As a kid who didn't have a choice but to follow his parents to church, I climbed the Catholic ladder to Christ but did so with resentment and a growing need to challenge what I heard.

As a young adult and eventually 30 something, the church became more an admiration of architecture rather than journey in spirituality. There was a ton to marvel at from the facade of the buildings to the decor of the inside, but that was the only way you could get me in a church. How I was viewing the physical structure spoke more to how I viewed myself and nothing to the need for me to be filled with the Holy Spirit, which is the moving force I clearly lacked. I could go to church and not be in church at the same time, and I lived that way until a few years ago.

That's when I started to feel the spirit call within me. It could have also been hunger, but I'm choosing to believe it was something holier than that. Something was telling me that I needed to listen to the messages subtly, and at times forcibly, being spoken and I should use all of my senses to figure out where I needed to go. Unlike Moses, who had a burning bush clearly spell things out for him, the almighty used something that would get my attention just the same:

God provided barbecue! Oh, how He knows me.

A church I attended to "kick the tires of Christianity", had a men's ministry and the recruitment event they were holding included dinner, guns and explosives (not kidding), fantasy football, and the chance to join with a band of christian brothers in the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment and growth. My good friend told me we should go to it and we did. To be honest, the men of the church didn't need much to get me hooked on their ministry; they had me at pulled pork.

I don't know the bible very well so I can't cite passages at will to back up my point, but I think God used my love of food as the way for me to listen to Him more carefully. There had been a tragedy in my life which brought me to that particular church and what I had yet to experience was that there would very soon be an even more devastating medical series of events for my 3 year old daughter. The men of that ministry gave me barbecue that night and they would emotionally and spiritually help me through some of the darkest times in my life that were about to come. Food for my body came first. The Holy Spirit they got me to believe in once again, took care of the rest.

It's been 4 years since I joined my band of brothers and my life has gone in more directions than I ever imagined it would. I go to church now and hear the message more clearly than I ever did before but also with the support of a community that is willing to listen to my questions without making me feel like an outsider. The walk we each take with spirituality is as unique as finger prints so I don't think it's likely that I'll someday meet another guy who had, lost, and found faith the same way I did. But if I do, there's a place I'd like to take him and a group of men I think he will benefit from meeting, for I was once in those shoes myself.

And it doesn't hurt that the ministry provides donuts on Friday mornings either! They had me at brisket and kept me with bear claws, and that's enough of a reason to go to church for me. Well, a small part of the reason at least.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Evolution of Pick-up Lines

"If I could rearrange the alphabet, I'd put U and I next to each other."

"Would you please grab my arm so I can tell my friends I've been touched by an angel?"

"There is something wrong with my cell phone. It doesn't have your number in it."

"Do you mind turning your engine off so I don't suck in fumes for the next 30 minutes?"

Uh.....OK. I think my use of a pick up line went awry somewhere. The first 3 don't even sound familiar anymore but #4 sure does. In fact, there's a few that I could use as I wait in line to get my girls each day from school:

"Excuse me, Mr. I've Never Been Here Before, you need to pull your car ahead when the guy in front of you moves forward. They don't deliver kids to you way back here."

"Hello Ms. Nationality I Can't Easily Determine Based on Your Dialect, you are supposed to stay in your vehicle until the teachers bring your child to you. That's been the policy since day 1 and you need to adhere to it even if you aren't American."

"Pardon me, didn't you read the policy that says that you CAN NOT park on the side of the building to go get your kids? Yes, it is a very dangerous spot to move away from and you've almost hit me three times this year because you can't see the car coming from around the corner. That's why this is clearly marked a NO PARKING ZONE!"

"Hey Mr. I'm the Baby Daddy, I'm talking to you but you can't hear me because the music coming from your car is obnoxiously loud. Are you trying to distract the Kindergarten Class that's 25 feet from you on the other side of that window? I doubt all 5 year olds listen to gangsta rap so maybe you could just get an i-pod and keep the crap you're currently blaring in a school zone to yourself."

"Hi. I don't think we've met before but let me just tell you that it's OK to open your windows when it's 74 degrees outside and let some fresh air in. I think you might want to save the freon in your vehicle for when it's over 90 degrees, which as we all know in Dallas, will be here soon enough. Idling your car for the past 45 minutes wasn't good for the environment, fuel conservation, or quality of the air I just had to breathe. Now just turn off your engine and keep open your damn windows!"

You know that time has passed you by when recognition of a phrase has completely changed in your mind. I'm not saying that I'm old, but at 41, the term "pick-up line" involves now a lot less entertainment and much more responsibility. If I ever get to the point where I witness a pick up line being used in a pick up line, I'll let you know. My guess is that it'll happen with the variety of people I get to wait with each afternoon. They're lawless but interesting at least.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Space: The Frustrating Frontier

Frustration (Merriam Webster on-line definition): a deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs.

Frustration (Jim Jones life-at-home definition): acquired stuff > allotted space = crazed housekeeper/ stay at home dad.

If I had a dumpster out front and a blood alcohol level over the legal limit, I think that there would only be a few things in my house that wouldn't find their way out the door. Let's visualize this cleaning action in terms of reality-tv elimination nights.

Doing this Survivor style:
Clyde, most beloved stuffed animal of all-time, you are safe. (I'd like to keep living and Emy is tall enough to reach the knives.)
Underwear and Socks, you are safe. (Do I need to say why?)
Any appliance that is still working over 80%, you are safe. (There are so few of them left anyway.)
The rest of you I will see at Tribal Council!

Doing this Apprentice Style:
Clothes that no longer fit, assorted "I can't believe we kept this" hidden in closets, under beds, in plastic bags, and in the garage: You're Fired!
And since this is a double elimination night: unused toys, overstocked scrapbooking and art supplies, and anything I just don't like anymore, You're Fired too!

The kids and I recently talked about what it means when someone is remodeling their home and that got me thinking about all the junk we've accumulated over time. I don't remember who said that if you haven't used something in over a year then go ahead and get rid of it, but that person sounds like a genius to me. We have more useless treasures than anyone I know who doesn't also have a basement, and the temptation to get rid of dust covered items, of all sizes, is overwhelming. We're basically having to look where we step in fear of tripping over something; that's not good no matter where you are.

To show you what how frustrated this mess is to me, let me say it this way: if taking unhindered spring cleaning to a whole new level meant that I could see my den floor again, I'd be doing the happy dance until I got blisters.

The more-than-obvious elephant in the room that is still waiting for me to address is this: why don't I just shut up and clean? Three answers:
My wife.
My kids.
My fear of certain short females (aka: my wife and kids).

These ladies are the love and light of my life but are also as hard headed as it gets. They each possess an incredibly stubborn "I'm gonna keep this" streak and an immediate line of sight to my crotch; where instinctively as females, they know how to cripple men. I'd have a fighter's chance to achieve a partial victory if one of them chose to part with some stuff, but hoarding is genetically encoded in their DNA and past attempts, by me, to get them to cooperate never ended well. There might not be bloodshed but an ocean of tears is guaranteed, and I'm squeezably soft when that happens. My desire for their happiness always trumps my own. It's my Achilles in case you didn't know.

My sad truth is this: It's almost better to personally live in frustration of the mess than it is to deal with an out-pour of emotion, none of which would benefit my health or safety. Perhaps I could shift the paradigm and all I would need to do is put in ear plugs and deal with the inevitable fall out. Once I figure out which one of these scenarios is going to happen, I'll just pray for enlightenment from the almighty that I've made the correct decision. I'll also book a hotel room for one just to be on the safe side.

If frustration is synonymous with aggravation, exasperation, annoyance, botheration, and vexation, consider me
aggravated, exasperated, annoyed, bothered, and vexed (though I doubt I'd really use the word "vexed" in a real conversation) with the state of my home and the tons of stuff therein. The carrying capacity of our house is decreasing with the physical mass of the numerous "future donations and garbage contributions" that are currently here despite my desire to see them go. Maybe a garage sale is what my family needs to do to lighten the frustration I'm having.

Anyone need car seats, jackets, comforters, blankets, furniture, beds, cups, knives, books, shoes, lamps, baby toys, toddler toys, after toddler toys, stuffed animals, trains, baby clothes, strollers, tables, videos, games, video games, televisions, coloring books, a thousand markers and crayons, etc., etc., etc,?

I'm going insane.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Lost My Mojo

It was early this morning that I got fired up to write something, anything, just to get back in the groove. When I looked at what I had on my home project to-do list, I just thought that I'd add commentary about those to the "something/ anything" and I'd have a fluid blog entry worthy of posting. I remember having the feeling that I was going to put all of this together successfully and give you all an entry I was even going to like.

Unfortunately, I made a mistake. If I had just thought to write down all of my thoughts before I got the day started, I'd have enjoyable text for you now. Instead, I have diddly squat.

Nada. Zip. A mental black hole.

Why the hell didn't I write when I had the inspiration and opportunity? In a complex way, I could intricately describe my day of chores to you from the moment the kids left the house until right now. Hell, I could even give you a time-line showing when I was busy getting stuff done.

I'll opt for a simpler answer, and a bit on insight about me instead: I'm easily distracted. Here's what went wrong: I got hungry, toasted an English muffin, and turned on ESPN. This is exactly the moment that my day died.

Inspiration was replaced with satiation. Opportunity morphed into procrastination. Content and context were removed for fillers and byproducts. My filet mignon of a blog turned into a frozen corndog right before my eyes except I didn't see it because ESPN2 had a lively debate about a wide receiver getting out of prison and I just had to watch. Plaxico Burress will be playing football this July when he's a free man and I'll probably still be staring at the HDTV well after he's resumed an NFL career.

Yes, I managed to handle the tasks of every day life first and as such, the back of the chair that Sami broke off is fixed and the bathtub seal has had it's initial re-caulking. Those projects had to get done today and it's all "mission accomplished" on that front. It's the sitting down after I finished the home repairs that is killing me now. Any creative momentum I had built came to a screeching halt when I powered on the TV set.

The sad part about this is that I can tell you when Plax is getting out of jail (June 24th) but I can't even remember how I was going to start the blog this morning. Stupid ESPN2 program. Stupid Me2.

Tomorrow is another opportunity to share my thoughts so I'll end the self deprecation now in favor of taking a shower and getting ready to volunteer in Sami's kindergarten class. Hopefully the kids and teachers will give me material to use for another blog entry and I'll be smart enough to write it down before the TV gets turned on again. Otherwise, the next entry will be another something/ anything that isn't worth reading any more than this one was.

Tomorrow: from liquid nails to nail polish; a day in the life of a stay at home father of girls. I think this one has potential; I just need to keep snacking so I don't sit down in the living room again.