Friday, May 30, 2008

Already Chasing The Ladies

So with spring in full swing, I am doing my best to keep Peanut & The Champ busy outdoors. Not that I let them spend the winter in front of the television watching cartoons, I just think it is better for them to be outside if the weather is nice.

We live on a small side street with only four houses. Unless you live on my street or visiting someone who does, there is no reason for you to be on it. With that, I let Peanut & The Champ ride their bikes in the street as long as they stay away from the ends. I also make sure The Champ keeps an eye on his sister.

Last fall, I tried to convince The Champ that we should take the training wheels off of his bike. He wasn't too interested so I didn't push the issue. A few times over the winter, I told him he was going to learn to ride his bike without the training wheels once the weather got better. He seemed to want to try it but you could tell he had reservations.

So spring came but with everything going on I had yet to address the training wheel issue.

Then Mia came over.

Mia is a little girl who lives across the street from us. She is the same age as The Champ but goes to a different school. Her parents are either separated or divorced, I’m not sure. Her mom works full time and they are not home that much. The kids have only played together a few times but since the nicer weather has begun, Mia & The Champ have been outside riding their bicycles. Mia’s bike is a little different than The Champ’s.

Hers does not have any training wheels.

The Champ was usually seen following behind Mia. He would try to keep up but the training wheels seem to hold him back. He did not say anything to me at first but after a couple of days, The Champ started hinting to me about taking them off.

This past Saturday, The Champ was outside riding his bike with Peanut but Mia was not home. I noticed the training wheels were pushed up high and he was pedaling along fine without the use of the wheels to keep his balance.

I grabbed a wrench and took them off.

And with one good push, off he went without the help of the training wheels.

He spent the next hour or so riding his bike along our street without the training wheels. He was back out there the next day, riding around as well. He has fallen a few times but for the most part I am amazed at how easily he has picked it up.

Unfortunately since then, Mia has not been around. He has asked repeatedly to go and see if she is home. I know he wants to show her how he can ride his bike like she can.

So now another lesson, for him to be learned and for me reminded.

Boys will always chase the girls, no matter what age.

The problem for me is what to say to him when he catches one.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Celebrating A Child’s Innocence

Happy Birthday, Peanut.

Today Peanut turns 3 years old. We celebrated her birthday with our families and some friends on Monday with a party at Mrs. Joe’s. It was our first function since the separation. Although there was much tension between Mrs. Joe & I, everybody seemed to take things in stride.

Peanut received all the gifts a princess should get. A Dora puzzle, Barbie dolls, a toy camera, a Care Bear. The kids enjoyed pizza, juice boxes and ice cream cake. The adults enjoyed pizza and cake too, along with the season’s first bottles of Sam Adams Summer Ale.

Mrs. Joe & I agreed to split up the cost evenly. I offered to host the party but she said she would. No need to argue, I thought. This is about our daughter, not us. Although windy, the day and the party turned out very nice.

I will assume in time events like this will become easier for me to handle. I did my best to be nice. I’d like to think Mrs. Joe did the same.

Besides, the day wasn’t about us, it was about a little girl.

A little girl who is celebrating only her 3rd birthday.

A little girl who’s entire life is before her.

A little girl who’s world in some ways has been turned upside down.

And luckily, she doesn’t even know it.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Keep Moving, Nothing To See Here

Just when I thought I might, just might be starting to get my mind free of Mrs. Joe...

When I have Peanut & The Champ for the weekend, the plan is that I stop by Mrs. Joe's apartment after work on Friday and pick them up. I had to work late this past Friday so I e-mailed Mrs. Joe earlier in the day and told her I would be picking them up later than usual.

She replied, "I'm going out with my girlfriend tonight so can you please be here by 5:15?"

"Not a problem" I told her.

I arrived at 5:15 to pick up the kids. They let me in as they were getting ready. As I knelt down helping Peanut with her shoes, Mrs. Joe walked into the room.

She looked fantastic.


Her hair was beautiful with perfect makeup. She had a maroon blouse on that I had never seen before. It made her girls the instant eye grabber. Along with a great looking pair of jeans, she had a new pair of black open toed heels with her toenails painted a matching maroon polish.

Sorry, open toed heels are hot. Call it a fetish.

If it wasn't for the phone call from her friend as we were leaving saying she was running late, I would have assumed she was going out with him.

But does it really matter who she was looking good for?

Other than it was not for me.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm A Cowboy, On The Sidelines I Ride

The spring soccer season has finally arrived here at our house, with an added twist.

Two weeks ago, we got a phone call from the league director telling us there was a meeting scheduled before the season would get started. The Champ and I attended the meeting and found out his team needed a volunteer to coach.

Lucky for me, I’m short and was standing in the back of the room.

Not that I wouldn't mind coaching, I just did not think I knew enough about soccer to coach 5 & 6 year olds. I soon found out it didn't matter. The unlucky dad that happened to be in the front volunteered to coach. He pointed out his minimal knowledge of the sport but the league director said it was okay and he could show him simple drills he could run with the kids.

He admitted at that age you really just need to herd them into the right direction, kind of like cattle.

Hearing all of that, I figured I should at least offer to be an assistant. I was immediately accepted so that made me the assistant coach to The Champ’s soccer team.

If this spaghetti western only stopped there.

This weekend we had our first games. We were only able to have one practice last week. Only six kids showed up for the one practice out of a roster of ten. We ran the drills that were shown to us and the kids had fun. The coach and I were thankful that nobody broke anything before the first game.

I can’t say the same for the coaching staff.

The Champ’s first game was Saturday and as we were waiting for the earlier game to finish, up comes the head coach.

On crutches, thanks to a broken foot received the day before at work.

That left me, the greenhorn, the one who played organized soccer to the ripe old age of 10, to run the sidelines.

We did pretty well this past weekend. Even though the same 6 kids showed up and had to play the whole game. They scored 5 goals on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. Better yet, they had fun. We have games until the end of June. The head coach will probably be lame until then so I’ll be the one running after these little calves.

I wonder if they will let me bring my lasso.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Higher Power At Work?

We found ourselves in a place Saturday night knowing we probably should not have been.

But we were having a great time.

We didn't want it to end.

The restaurant was new and I got reservations by chance.

Our table was in the center where we could people watch and comment.

She enjoyed her 2 glasses of shiraz.

I enjoyed my 2 pints of a local spring brew.

The thought of shrimp with a bittersweet chocolate sauce as an appetizer teased us into ordering it. It was pretty good.

She enjoyed her citrus salsa shrimp.

My fruit barbecue chicken was good too.

The conversation was seamless and flowing, exposing the many things we have in common.

Our wonderful children, our similar hobbies.

We debated as well.

She can’t understand why I do not enjoy Dylan.

We finished dinner, noted how nice the evening was and went back to our own cars, to our houses, our own lives.

In the end, she will not leave her husband. Her decision is to keep the family together. It's better that way. I know what we are doing is all it will be.

My decision to end my marriage is opposite. My life with my kids, without Mrs. Joe seems for the best.

But I sit here now, wondering a few things.

Did somebody bring her into my life to show me someone staying in an unhappy marriage?

Did somebody bring me into her life to show her what a happier life she could be having if she left?

Could it be that we were brought together to help each other?

Or are we just two married people having an affair?

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Only Mother They Got

Seeing Peanut is 2 and The Champ is 6, I am still responsible for the kids’ gifts to their mother for Mother’s Day. I decided that I would stop by this little Italian pastry shop she likes and get her some cannoli for the kids to give her.

I also talked to her Tuesday and although I have the kids this weekend, I asked her if she wanted to spend Sunday with them. I know I would like them on Father’s Day so I assumed she would want them for her day.

“I can’t” she replied. “I have to work 10 hours on Sunday.”

“Fine. Would like them on Saturday?”

“I have to work all day Saturday, too”

“Well, I figured seeing Sunday is Mother’s Day you would want to spend the day with the kids.”

With a snide, matter-of-fact tone, “I know what Sunday is.”

And hung the phone up on me.

I guess I can bring the kids over early Sunday morning before she goes to work. I just have to make sure I only give her the cannoli and not tell her where she can put the cannoli.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Robert Frost Must Not Have Had A Cluttered Garage

“Good fences make good neighbors” – from the poem Mending Wall by Robert Frost

Although I agree with the line from that poem, seeing this parked on my next door neighbor’s front lawn a few days ago made me realize that it might have been better written.

How about “Half empty dumpsters make good neighbors”?

With me living in a town that picks up my trash weekly, the task of taking anything to the dump ranks up there with cleaning my septic tank.

Wait, I am connected to the town sewers, I don’t have to do that.

Anyway, the town doesn't take away bulk items with the weekly trash so I need to bring anything big to the dump myself or find another way to get rid of it.

You now see why the sight of the dumpster is like hitting the junk removal jackpot.

My neighbor had been renting the house for a few years from his friend who had lived there since he was a kid. Recently, he bought the house. The attic still had a bunch of stuff from the first owner. Part of the sale agreement was the original owner had to clean out the attic. So the dumpster was dropped off and the attic was cleaned.

After seeing there was still room, I asked my neighbor if I could contribute. He said they were all set and I could fill the remaining space. I was able to unload a bunch a junk from my garage into it.

The best part was that all it cost me was a 12-pack of beer.

There is no fence separating our yards that needs mending but being able to unload some junk from the garage has had similar results.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Take A Hike

Thankfully, this post will not be mentioning anything about my separation with Mrs. Joe.

Well, just that once.

Anyway, I wanted to get Peanut and The Champ outdoors and do something fun. Something new. Something we could do every once in awhile. I decided we would go for a hike in the woods. Western Massachusetts has its fair share of woods so we could go to different places each time to keep it exciting to the kids.

I looked into the local parks and reservations and decided to take them to the Mt. Tom State Reservation this past Saturday. It's located in Holyoke, MA. An old New England mill town known for its paper mills back 100 years ago.

The park isn't much, just the mountain. It is mostly wooded with hiking and skiing trails, some areas to fish and a couple picnic pavilions. I had not been there in at least ten years.

We parked the car and began our hike up to Goat's Peak. It has a great view northwest. I must confess, this wasn't really a "hike". The path is really an old road that had been closed off to cars. I was concerned for Peanut because it was almost a mile and I wasn't sure if her little legs could handle it so we took a jogging stroller just in case.

The kids absolutely loved the walk. I figured they would get bored about half way at best and I'd be pushing Peanut in the stroller while The Champ would be complaining about his legs being tired. I tried my best to keep it interesting. We talked about the trees and the animals that lived in the woods. They got pretty excited about the view I told them about.

When we got to Goat's Peak, this is what they saw.

This is looking northwest with a view of the Connecticut river. Interstate 91 is on the right.

This is looking more north with Northampton, MA in the background.

About halfway back down Peanut finally got into the stroller. The Champ made the entire walk without complaint.

My little adventurers

On our way back down, I asked them if they wanted to do it again. I said we could try a smaller trail without a paved road next time. They both said yes so we will see about heading back into the woods next week.

In thanks to you for joining me and my little adventurers on our hike up to Goat's Peak, I give you each one of these.

Paper City Brewery's Goat's Peak Bock Spring Lager. Paper City Brewery is located in an old mill in Holyoke and they brew this in honor the the peak I shared with you.


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