Sunday, April 29, 2007

New Member Of Red Sox Nation

I believe The Champ is falling in love with baseball. Both playing it and watching the Red Sox on TV. The kid can’t read yet but he can tell you all the information given at the top of the TV screen during the game. We both enjoyed last weekend. Sorry Yankees fans. This weekend is going pretty good, too. We’ll see what happens this afternoon. Our cable company sent us the Red Sox schedule at the beginning of the season and The Champ has put it on the fridge for reference.

“Dad, who’s B-A-L?”


“Those are the Oreos, right”

“The Orioles, yes”

And now that New England has finally started warming up, he wants to go outside and have me pitch to him. In between my pitches, his imagination will take over and he will announce himself as a Red Sox player coming to the plate.

“David Ortiz up next.”

Thinking to myself, “Kid, sorry to tell you, thanks to genetics and your dad being only 5’ 7”and at least 50lbs less, you probably will not become the next David Ortiz.”

Last year we played with a novelty wooden bat and ball that Mrs. Joe bought. He did rather well, considering he wasn’t 5 yet. Well enough that I went and dug out my old softball glove for protection. Yes, softball. I was one of those guys that played softball drank beer with the guys from work while in my 20’s.

The first few times out this year, though, I realized this novelty wooden bat wasn’t going to cut it. So I went and bought him his first actual bat. It is nothing special, just an aluminum T-ball bat from Target for $12. Well, when I gave it to him, you’d think I presented him the Holy Grail. He has asked me to go outside and pitch to him everyday since and has done even better with the new bat.

We will see what happens this summer. We could be playing our own backyard game with my 40lb son thinking he’s Big Papi. And if we get rained out, we will spend it on the couch watching the Red Sox.

Either way, there is a new member of Red Sox Nation.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

A Sad Day In The Neighborhood

Babcia & Dziadek (Polish for grandma & grandpa), as we have come to call them, have lived on our street for 60 plus years. While Mrs. Joe and I have lived next to this wonderful couple for only eight years, we have grown close to them. We often take Peanut & The Champ over, knowing nothing brightens an older person’s day than having little kids around.

For the last two years though, Dziadek had been in a nursing home, the effects of old age finally catching up. Mrs. Joe would sometimes take the kids to see him, afterward mentioning to me while we ate dinner how frail he looked.

Babcia, still getting around with the help of a walker, had resigned to the fact that her husband wasn’t going to come back home. She would joke that without him in the house, she could watch whatever she wanted on TV. She still comes outside if she sees the kids in the yard. Sometimes bringing popsicles for them to eat or bubbles to blow. Knowing it is tough for her to prepare meals, Mrs. Joe has often sent me next door with a plate of food for her,

“Tell her I accidentally made too much.”

Sadly, Mrs. Joe called me at work Friday to say she got a phone call from one of their daughters giving us the news that Dziadek had passed away. She told me to make sure I was able to go to the service today. The wake last night and not knowing the family too well, we paid our respects and quietly slipped out. We enjoyed looking at the poster boards of old photos, most taken both inside and outside of their house. It seemed that over 30 years went by and their house hadn’t changed a bit. This morning, we both left work for awhile and met at the church. It was a beautiful mass with many friends and family. When the grandsons spoke of the grandfather, Mrs. Joes’ eyes welled up and I realized how upset she was.

After the service, we both went back to work for the day. Later, after Mrs. Joe got home with kids, Babcia & Dziadek’s two daughters came by to say thanks and how they really appreciate everything we have done for their parents. The way we both look at it is simple. When we are in our 80’s, we hope that there will be a younger couple living next door that will help us out when we need it.

No other person in our neighborhood attended the service this morning. Maybe they were too busy, or maybe the just chose not to go. Whatever the reason, it reminded once again that my wife is one of the greatest gifts I could have. For someone to become that close to a neighbor in today’s world says a lot.

I've decided we should start taking more pictures around the house. Because in 40 or so years, when it’s our turn, we hope that there will be some young couple we got to know, looking at some old photos of us and getting a little upset.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

We Have Hit The Shakedown Trifecta

The Easter Bunny, Santa And Now The Tooth Fairy.

Today was a special day in our house. The Champ has lost his first tooth. For the last week he's been mentioning how it has been loose so we were prepared. Mrs. Joe had bought a little pillow with a pocket sewn into it for the Tooth Fairy and she also got a little wooden box to keep the tooth for future embarrassment.

It has occurred a little early, seeing he will not turn 6 until September. The reason for it falling out early is when he was near 2 years old he took a face dive into our driveway and bruised the tooth. Yes, I was watching him at the time. It turned gray and has been noticeable ever since, a constant reminder of the tumble. We have had to keep an eye on it, making sure the new tooth was coming in properly. The dentist said this tooth would be lost earlier than usual due to the bruise. Even still, I was caught off guard when I got home from work today and he came running up to show me this big gap in his mouth. The unfortunate thing is the new tooth will not start to come in early so he will be missing an eye tooth for some time.

So we put him to bed earlier tonight, with the tooth placed in the pillow Mrs. Joe got right next to him. I have a $5 bill sitting here next to the keyboard as I write this. Mrs. Joe had to check with friends on the going rate for a first tooth. Sounds a little steep to me. I'll be swapping out the tooth for the bill and put the tooth in the little wooden box. The box will be put away for who knows how long. Then one day, many years from now, Mrs. Joe or I will stumble onto it and remember tonight and be reminded how much our Champ has grown.

Just another chapter to remind us how lucky we are.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Potty Humor, Grandparent Style

My two beautiful children reminded me of my grandparents today. Not in a way I would've imagined, but none the less.

I had just finished giving Peanut a bath, towelling her wet little body off, when into the bathroom ran The Champ. He had just put on his pajamas and needed to go to the bathroom. "Really bad", were the words he used. Like any 5 year old boy, he's got much more important things to do other than go pee so before he's completely finished, he starts stepping back to pull his pants up. And of course, the last few drops miss the toilet. So I mention, for the hundredth time, to make sure you are done before you step away. He says "okay", washes his hands, and is on his way.

Well Peanut sees this and now wants to sit on the toilet, too. We have one of the potty seats with a step stool attached so she grabs that and wants me to set it up. I figure she's already naked, no shoes, pants, diaper to take off so what the hell, I set it up for her. As you can see, Mrs. Joe has taken the lead in potty training for Peanut.

Anyway, she sits down for a few seconds, and then stands up, which is the usual routine. But then as she is standing there, she starts to pee all down her legs, onto her feet, the seat, the step stool & floor. I got pee everywhere. Which, I will assume, is not the usual routine. So back into the tub she goes for a second bath in less than 15 minutes.

And how does this story remind me of my grandparents, you ask? I lost my grandparents years ago, but as a kid I remember a bathroom in my grandparent's house. They had finished off the basement and had added a bathroom, also. There was a cover on the toilet seat and it read the following:

Welcome, Please Enjoy Tonight's Show.

Ladies: Please remain seated during the entire performance.

Gentlemen: Stand close, it may be shorter than you think.

I hadn't thought of that seat cover for years. As a little kid, you thought that was the funniest thing in the world. Now, thanks to my two kids, I was reminded of them today, and of their toilet.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tomorrow Night We Are Going Cow Tipping

Last night, Mrs. Joe surprised me with a night out at one of our favorite restaurants. We both love the Northampton Brewery and last night they had a beer dinner. We were joined by Mrs. Joe's girlfriend and her husband, as well.

If you do not know, a beer dinner is where the meal is predetermined by the restaurant and each course is joined by a sampling of beer. We all had a great time. The dinner was very good along with the six different beers we were able to enjoy. I'll point out here that I love my wife and feel that she can be the best woman that I could ever ask for.

Most of the time. (read on.)

The dinner ended and the four of us headed back to our cars. We parked in a garage next to the brewery that gives out a credit card type ticket. When you are leaving, you swipe the card at a kiosk and it tells you how much you owe. You pay, get the card back and proceed to the gate. You feed the card into the machine and up goes the gate.

Well, guess who couldn't find the card? No, not me. Mrs. Joe lost the card. Luckily, the couple we were with had their card. They paid theirs and waited for us to find our card. We spent 15 minutes looking for the card to no avail.

I decided to take matters into my own hands. Both cars went to the gate with Mrs. Joe and I following. As they fed the card into the machine, the gate went up.

And both cars flew out of the garage, hoping to beat the gate from coming down on Mrs. Joe and I.

And, I kid you not, a security guard seen the whole thing. He started running toward us, yelling at us to stop as we sped away like two kids who just, well, two kids who failed to pay their parking fee.

We went home, thanked my sister for watching Peanut & The Champ, and went to bed. There, we felt like 16 year olds, giggling about what had happened.

I wonder if the garage has any cameras

Mrs. Joe has found the card. It was in the car, right where she left it.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Like Baseball, This Is Not The Same When Played Indoors

I hope everyone’s Easter was nice. Ours was hectic, with Mrs. Joe cooking for 10, but nice.

Peanut & The Champ were invited to a relative’s house Easter morning for an egg hunt. With the temperature in the 30’s, (global warming my ass!), the hunt was held inside. The Champ was primed and ready for this, seeing we had been practicing for the last few days in our house.

Standing at attention in the living room, the kids were ready for the “go” sign. It was noted that there were a few eggs lying out in the open. Obviously for Peanut, seeing this was her first egg hunt. I looked down into the potted plant sitting on the floor next to me and there was and egg.

I whispered to The Champ, “Look in the potted plant.”

“Yeah, I see it. I’m going to grab that one first.”

“No. You’re going to take your sister to that one.”

With a look as if I robbed him of a million dollars and not the two quarters that were in the egg, “But dad, I seen it first.”

I responded with a fatherly stare.

As the hunt began, he took his sister’s hand and led her to the egg.

Hopefully, it was one sacrifice of many he will make for his little sister.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

At Least She Hasn’t Slapped Anybody’s Head Yet

I have never been a fan of The Three Stooges. I guess I just do not think they are funny. It seems though, that Peanut has been watching them and thinks the comedy is pretty good.

See, Mrs. Joe takes Peanut to a “mommy-and-me” type music class once a week and they always sing that “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes” song. Peanut has taken a liking to it and when we sing it, we point to the body part being mentioned and say the word. Sometimes she points to her body, sometimes to the other person’s.

Now, Peanut doesn’t need any singing or music to point out the body parts. She just walks up to you, jabs her finger in your eye and says “Eyes”.

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!


Monday, April 02, 2007

Hope, In A Morning Of Misery

It’s Monday morning.

It’s raining.

I have run out of coffee.

I have more e-mail than I care to read.

My boss is back from a week in the Bahamas.

And he’s not in a good mood.

But none of that matters.

It’s opening day.

Go Sox!