Thursday, August 30, 2007

Success, Although Bittersweet

Here we are, two days of The Champ being in kindergarten completed. He told us all about his days, who are the kids in his class and he showed us all the things he did.

"We don't take naps in kindergarten. We just put our heads down on our desks for a little while"

Yeah, daddy tries that at work every now and then.

Thankfully a few things haven't happened. First, he hasn't been sent to the principals office. I figured seeing he's my son, he will be getting to know her soon enough. Second, he has yet to bring home anything for us to sell. No candy bars, no wrapping paper, no magazines.

I figure something will come by tomorrow.

Anyway, Wednesday morning was beautiful. All the students and parents were to meet in the gym first thing in the morning. The principal greeted everyone and introduced the staff. Then, starting with the eighth graders, the teachers each led their students to class. Finally, the kindergartners were left. Unknowing to the parents, they were not allowed to accompany their kids to the classroom. The teacher led the kids, single file, out the door. Some of the mothers had an easier time at childbirth separating themselves from their kids. Of course, there were some tears shed.

Okay, a lot of tears.

Some of the kids were crying, too!

The Champ? No, he waved goodbye and fell in step with the others, marching out the door. The last glimpse of him I saw, he was showing off his new Cars backpack to another kid. Mrs. Joe had a tear in her eye, and I don't blame her. Although, I blamed mine on my contact lenses and allergies.

I have been telling myself it was good to see him ready for this. With every day that passes, our children must become less dependant on us, the parents. It's our job, as parents, to make sure that happens.

I guess Mrs. Joe & I succeeded this time.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Something About No White After Labor Day, But What About Red?

Like many of you out there, tomorrow will be a big day for us. The Champ will be starting kindergarten. And like some of you, Mrs. Joe and I decided to "redshirt” him last year. His birthday is September 16, a mere two weeks before the cutoff date here in our city. For some reason, the cutoff here is earlier than every other city or town around. This would’ve made him one of the youngest kids in his class. He also is smaller than most kids his age. Unfortunate for him, yours truly can claim another thing in common with Tom Cruise.

If you haven’t heard, this seems to be a hot topic lately. There was an article in the NY Times about it this past June. Oh, The Joys, among other bloggers have written about it extensively.

I look it as a decision for Mrs. Joe and myself. I like to think we know what is best for our kid.

I will now get down off my soapbox. (So that’s what it’s like to be 6 feet tall.)

Anyway, we went out this weekend and purchased all the supplies he will need. Included were 2 folders, pencils, crayons (a box of 24, a box any bigger was not allowed), erasers, glue, scissors and two pencil cases. The Champ has been referring to all of this as his “equipment”. He had to have a new backpack with a matching lunchbox, too. We also bought some new blue dress pants. He will be following in his mother’s footsteps and attending Catholic school, although it will be a different school as Mrs. Joe’s has closed.

He seems to be ready for this big step, too. Mrs. Joe and I were talking this morning about whether or not to buy something for the house. The Champ voiced his opinion, to which I responded,

“Well, when you start working you can help decide how we spend the money.”

To this he replied,

“I will be working. Once I start school, I’ll have to do homeWORK”

And to anyone else out there whose child is starting kindergarten this year, Good luck and enjoy! I know I will.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Excuse Me, St. Peter, I’m With Her

You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it's a little thing, do something for others - something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it. - Albert Schweitzer

Mrs. Joe & I both grew up in the same town and we still call it home. I went through the public school system while Mrs. Joe survived 12 years of Catholic school. The city is small enough where a lot of older residents know our parents and grandparents. That speaks well for Mrs. Joe, not so good for me.

We got married in Mrs. Joes’ church. The same church her mother attended as a kid and the same church her grandparents attended. We still go to mass there, although not as often as we would like. It depends on the moods of the kids that morning.

The church threw our priest a retirement party a couple of weeks ago. The church counsel asked for volunteers to help with the party and Mrs. Joe offered. I wondered, vocally, why she did. It’s not like she has a lot of free time on her hands.

Seeing she works for a supermarket, Mrs. Joe helped get all the food and set up the buffet. The party was to happen after mass on a recent Saturday afternoon. Mrs. Joe spent that Friday shopping for the food and left early the day of the party to help set up. My job was to get Peanut & The Champ ready for church and keep them from being stepped on during the party while she helped keep the food coming for all the guests. The party was nice and everyone thought it was a success. I got the kids home and ready for bed while she stayed and helped clean up. When she got home she was exhausted but happy that she helped out.

I got home from work before Mrs. Joe this past Thursday and checked the answering machine. There was the nicest little old lady on the phone complimenting Mrs. Joe for all she did with the party. She mentioned that she knew Mrs. Joe’s grandparents and just found out she was their granddaughter. She spoke highly of them, thanked her again and said she would call back.

When Mrs. Joe got home I told her to listen to the message. A beautiful smile came across her face while listening to the message from the lady.

The lady called back again Thursday evening but Mrs. Joe was at Pilates. She noted again how wonderful a job Mrs. Joe did. I thanked her and told Mrs. Joe would be home all morning Friday. Mrs. Joe called me at work around 9 am yesterday to tell me the lady called again to thank her.

This little old lady again reminded me how lucky I am to be married to Mrs. Joe. I think my application to heaven will look a lot better if I list Mrs. Joe as a reference.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Fountains Of Youth

Mrs. Joe and I took Peanut & The Champ to the mall this weekend to get them each a new pair of shoes. We first had dinner at The 99 Restaurant. I had a burger, Mrs. Joe got a fish platter and The Champ ordered a grilled cheese. Peanut ate nothing but the free popcorn.

Where was this popcorn last Wednesday?

After dinner, The Champ needed to go to the bathroom. As we finished up our business at the urinals, The Champ stepped back and said,

“Look dad, they’re magic” as it began to flush.

I showed him that it wasn’t magic, just the motion sensor triggered by him standing there. We washed our hands and as we were leaving, he set each urinal off and walked out the door.

Whoever said those sensors help conserve water doesn’t have a 6 year old son.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fun Day At Fenway

Minus a few minor setbacks, including a loss, yesterday’s trip with The Champ to Fenway Park was a success.

We awoke yesterday morning like any other; with The Champ in our bed after covertly climbing in sometime during the night and Peanut, playing the part of alarm clock, demanding to get out of her crib. After a big breakfast of pancakes thanks to Mrs. Joe, we gave him this;

Included were the 2 tickets, a 2007 Red Sox yearbook, a t-shirt (for me), 2 balls for autographs, a Sharpie and a sign for the TV.

His reaction was huge and his excitement was contagious. We immediately started getting ready to go. We both put on our Red Sox shirts, packed the balls, yearbook, pen and some water in a backpack and we were on the road soon after. I knew the yearbook would keep him busy for the car ride there. Unfortunately, thanks to highway lane closures and a slow moving line at the train station we did not make it to Fenway early enough to see batting practice or to try to get any autographs.

We did see a pretty good game, though. There were a bunch of runs scored early, although they were for the other team. The game slowed down mid way through and The Champ started getting fidgety. He asked for popcorn, but nobody came around, so we left our seats to get some. I was able to find out why there wasn't anybody selling popcorn. They were out it. How could they be out of popcorn? Luckily, The Champ’s eyes fixed on some ice cream thing instead. We grabbed that and headed back to our seats. I figured we would be exploring the ballpark more than once but surprisingly, that was the only time we left our seats. The game heated up toward the end and we were cheering along with everybody else. The Red Sox made a big comeback only to fall short thanks to Manny Ramirez striking out. It was exciting none the less.

We left the park and joined the masses heading back to the train station. The Champ was asleep as soon as we took our seats. He caught a second wind during the car ride home and we stopped at McDonald’s for some dinner. We got home about 7:00, where he shared his day with Mrs. Joe, telling her about his first trip to Boston, his first ball game, etc.

As I put him to bed, I told him what a great day I had. He gave me a big kiss and told me the same.

Right about then, all that previous guilt and greed became irrelevant.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

How Guilt Got Together With Greed And Bent Me Over A Chair

So it has been 3 weeks since my trip with Mrs. Joe to see the Red Sox play Chicago. Since then, even my so-called Catholic guilt has taken a backseat to the guilt of not taking The Champ to a game. We did not even tell him where we went that day. When we got home from the game he started telling me about how he was watching it on TV with his uncle. “Wow, really, must have been a good game,” I told him.

“Now excuse me while I go step in front of a bus.”

Since then I had been saying to myself, “I really should try to take him to a game.” I asked around about tickets to no avail. I started checking EBay and the online scalpers agents. Yes, they all have tickets but with the markup, it would be cheaper to fly to Baltimore and watch them play the Orioles.

Let’s see, Mrs. Joe isn't sure he is old enough for a day at Fenway and I am thinking to fly him to Maryland.

So I decided that a day game at Fenway would be best. A night game would get over too late. That left only six games this season. There were fewer tickets to the weekend day games available and those that were for sale were completely outrageous so I decided on a weekday game. That left me with only two games. I decided on trying to get tickets to the game this Wednesday afternoon against Tampa Bay. Every day for the last week and a half I had been checking the online scalpers agents. They had tickets for the game but I waited patiently, hoping that a buddy would pull through.

Tuesday came and still with no help from friends, I checked the internet again. There they were, two tickets, infield grandstand, behind home plate, cheaper than similar tickets, and only one section from where I sat with Mrs. Joe last month. I say “cheaper” as they were only 3 times the face value. Seeing I had checked those sites more times than Lindsay has into rehab, the tickets had to have been listed just the day before. They were mine, I told myself. This meant I had to act quickly. Never mind I was at work at the time; I had to get those tickets. I called and verified the seats were together. I had learned some sneaky bastards sell tickets as a pair but the seats aren't side by side and these didn't specify. The scalper agent on the phone confirmed they were together so I bit the bullet.

“Just to confirm the total cost sir”, the scalper agent said to me on the phone, “That’s two tickets, infield grandstand, along with our 10% commission and FedEx overnight charge."

“Total comes to $291.95.”

I then knew what it is like to be the prison bitch with a limp.

The tickets were to arrive Thursday by 3pm. I tracked the delivery of the package online all morning, again while at work. Boy I worked hard last week, huh? I checked again around 2pm and to my horror it stated...

“Address not found.”

“Shit!”, I thought. I checked and verified my address was correct. I didn't know what to do next so I waited. I checked about a half an hour later and was relieved to see my address had been found and the package delivered. The tickets were there when I got home.

Everything now seems to be in order. Mrs. Joe and I decided that we would not tell him until Wednesday morning. I remember as a kid, one time I found out I was going to Fenway Park the night before the game. That night was the longest night of my young life. It might as well have been Christmas Eve.

So obviously I will be taking Wednesday off from work. Lucky for me, my boss is taking the whole week off so there should be no hassles there. I figure we will try to get to the park a little early and see about getting some autographs and pictures. We will probably make a sign and try to get onto TV. Hopefully, Tina Cervasio will come over and give him a big kiss. Well one of us, anyway. He has never been to Boston, so his first train ride into the city should be fun for him, too.

I’ll be sure to share the day’s events with everybody Thursday or Friday. I can’t deny that I am excited, too. As a dad, there are only a few things this high up on the memories list.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Ready For Immediate Occupancy

A while back, Mrs. Joe came home with an unfinished wood birdhouse from a craft store for The Champ. With the help of Mrs. Joe, he painted it with intentions of hanging it outside. Yesterday, while cleaning up his room, The Champ came across the birdhouse again and wanted to hang it outside. I figured we could attract some birds with a feeder to go with the birdhouse so we went to the store for a feeder and some birdseed.

We hung the birdhouse and feeder in a lilac bush next to the kitchen window.

The rest of the day yesterday along with this morning, Peanut and The Champ have been standing in the window waiting. So far, nothing has come. Although it might not help that they yell “here birdie” out the window.

Not that I claim to be an expert on birds, but free food and shelter should eventually attract something. I figure those robins from a few weeks ago might be looking for something with a roof over their heads.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

I Can Read It, The Champ I Am

Mrs. Joe was out with her partner tonight so I got to put Peanut & The Champ to bed by myself. Usually, doing the pajamas/teeth brushing/potty event by myself is a task I put just above cleaning the dirt out of the bathroom vent fan but tonight it was different.

After brushing their teeth they get to pick out a few books for me to read to them before lights out. With Peanut getting old enough to pick out her own stories, a few that The Champ had forgotten about have made a return.

Tonight she pulled out a classic.

I love reading this book to the kids so I was happy for its return. The Champ was excited, too.

"Dad, I want to read it."

He took the book from me and with some reading and some help from memory (and a little help from me), he read the the entire book. It took a while but I didn't mind. Watching him struggle with some of the words was hard. I wanted to help him but I could see he wanted to do it himself. Peanut gave up on her brother after about a two minutes, moving on to "read" her Curious George book. He finished with such a look of accomplishment on his face. He wanted to read another but with Peanut getting cranky, I knew we were done for tonight.

I look at tonight as another step he has taken. Eventually he will not want me to read to him. Hopefully when that time comes his head will be buried in a Harry Potter book or something. But at least I will remember nights like tonight knowing Mrs. Joe & I planted the seed.

How about you? What books did your kids start with? He was so interested, I want to keep it going with some new ones.