Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Can Hanna Montana Be Far Behind?

With Peanut being 3 years old, I was debating if Santa would leave her first Barbie under the Christmas tree this year. I decided to wait. I figured I mind as well put off the inevitable for one more year.

Yesterday, the lady across the street stopped by with presents for the kids. As you can assume, Peanut's present was her first Barbie. It was Ballerina Barbie. Pretty innocent so I what could I say.

I told myself it could have been worse. She could have given her a Bratz doll.

We each thanked and gave a hug to the lady across the street. I took the doll out of the box and Peanut started playing with it. I talked with our neighbor for a few and she left.

Minutes later, as I was picking up the wrapping paper Peanut came up to me with those words many of you have already heard...

"Daddy, look, she's naked."

Followed by...

"She's got boobies."

And never to be out done. An entire 10 minutes later the scream followed by the crying preceded...

"Daddy, I lost one of my dolly's shoes."

Everybody have a Merry Christmas. I hope you all have a wonderful day. Now if you will excuse me, I have to make sure the scissors are put away. I don't need Barbie hair all over my living room.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Now The Fun Really Starts

The e-mail started normal enough.

“I got a birthday party invitation for The Champ today.”

At the end, it got rather surprising.

“I’m making pork chops for dinner tonight if you would like to come over.”

I read it a second time to confirm. Yes, Mrs. Joe had just invited me over for dinner. We had been getting along okay over the last few weeks but this was different.

I replied back saying I would come. The thought of sitting down with her for dinner was compelling.

Never mind the fact that she makes great pork chops.

I picked up a bottle of wine on the way there. We always enjoyed a glass with dinner and I figured I should bring something.

When I got there, Peanut & The Champ had just finished up their dinners. Mrs. Joe fed them first and set them up in the living room with a movie to keep them occupied. I said hi and gave both of them a big kiss and settled them back into their movie.

Mrs. Joe had the table all set. I opened the wine and poured us each a glass. She prepared a plate for each of us and we sat down and started eating.

We talked about the kids. She told me about her work and how her family was. I mentioned how slow my work was with the automakers waiting for the bailout.

I will say the dinner was nice. We finished, cleaned up and continued to talk over another glass of wine.

The conversation led to us. We both opened up and shared a lot. It was a conversation that should have happened long ago, before all the bullshit.

Then it was said. Not in the exact words but the point was made.

She wants to come back.

Albeit not right away and not without more conversation. She said she isn’t sure if it could work and I agreed. She also said we could go to a therapist together. I told her that sounded like a good idea.

I think we will wait until January, though. Let us get through Christmas and see where we are then.

Looks like I got some thinking to do.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Old Illustrators Never Die…

Every Friday evening, the local Barnes & Noble has story time for the kids. I have been taking Peanut & The Champ most of the Fridays that I have them. Sometimes the store holds story time on a different night if they have a guest author or illustrator there to read to the kids.

Last night, illustrator Jeff Mack was there reading his new book Hush Little Polar Bear. The Champ sat attentively through the reading of that book as well as the three other books illustrated by Jeff.

Peanut decided to pass on the reading of the stories and play with all the plush toys.

I give Jeff a lot of credit, he kept the kids attention very well. After about 45 minutes of reading, he answered the kids’ questions and signed copies of his new book.

As we were leaving, I asked The Champ if he wanted to be an illustrator of children’s books when he got older.

“Do they have to retire?” he asked.

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“When they get old, do they have to retire?”

“No, you can be an illustrator when you are old.”

“Well then I will be an illustrator after I am a baseball player. Baseball players have to retire when they get old.”

Does this mean I should have asked for the senior citizen discount when I paid for the book?


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Not Charlie Brown’s, But Close

With December upon us, I reluctantly had to address Christmas with Mrs. Joe. As many of you know, and now I am learning, this is the worst holiday to be a single parent. The idea of not having my kids with me for any part of Christmas is upsetting to say the least.

Mrs. Joe & I have agreed that I will have them Christmas Eve and she will have them Christmas Day. My family always celebrates on Christmas Eve so it will not be that bad.

With that in mind, I had Peanut and The Champ with me this past weekend. I knew I had to get a Christmas tree now or wait until the weekend before Christmas when I had them again.

We set out Sunday morning with the first snowfall of the season under our feet. It was just an inch but it helped set the mood. I figured we would go back to the same tree farm as years' before. I posted last year about the tree farm we had been getting our tree from.

As I look back, I realize how hypocritical that time was but I digress.

We had not tagged a tree this year but I figured we could still find something. We had to stop at Home Depot for a tree stand first. The bottom of the old stand, made of plastic, cracked. It might have been because I left it outside still full of water after Christmas last year. Maybe something about water expanding as it freezes but who knows.

At Home Depot, we found the tree stands and the kids noticed all the Christmas trees they were selling. Most were on the small side. Peanut asked if we could buy one of those trees. I assumed they would want to go to the tree farm and cut one down. But that gave me an idea.

What if I bought a small tree, one small enough that the kids could decorate all by themselves without the need of a ladder for them to reach the top?

I told them my idea and they went for it. So I asked the clerk where the smallest trees were. He pointed over in the corner where a handful of small, neglected trees laid. We went over and found the smallest one. It couldn’t have been 4 feet tall. I asked them if the liked it and they did. I paid for it along with the stand and we took it home.

We cleared a spot in the living room and set up the tree. I put a strand of lights on it and let them decorate it. Along with the balls, gingerbread men, Santas and angels, the kids made some paper ornaments and hung them on the tree as well.

It is not the biggest, most beautiful tree in the world but it was completely decorated by Peanut & The Champ. Watching them as they put the ornaments on it reminded me what Christmas is all about.

Santa's Little Helpers

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Can I Tell Him To Just Walk It Off?

Back in June I told you about Ester, the betta Mrs. Joe & I got from Wal-Mart for The Champ for getting a good report card last year.

I'm sorry to say we lost Ester this week.

He had been sick for the last week or two. I looked up his symptoms on the internet and it seems he was suffering from SBD or swim bladder disorder.

If you didn't know, and I didn't, one cause of SBD is overfeeding.

Yes, we fed the fish to death.

The Champ took it pretty well considering this is the first and only pet he has gotten. I think this book helped.

I picked The Berenstain Bears Lose a Friend up last week and explained to him what might happen to Ester.

It was the first time The Champ cried in this way. I've helped him through the bumped heads and the skinned knees but this was different.

I couldn't just kiss the hurt and make it go away.

I know there will be more times he hurts this way. And I know it will hurt me not to be able to help him.

I just wish there was a children's book for each upcoming situation.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Twenty Years And Some Self Assurance

I hope everybody’s Thanksgiving was nice. I let Mrs. Joe take the kids to her father’s house. That’s where we have gone for Thanksgiving since before we were married so I figured I would keep everything the same as much as possible.

I went to my sister’s house. We lost our parents a few years ago so it was just my sister, her husband, my nephew and myself. We watched some football, ate dinner and watched a little more football until we started falling asleep. I ducked out before the entire room was comatose.

Saturday, Mrs. Joe still had the kids so I had a free evening. I was playing cards at my cousin’s house with some relatives. My aunt was trying to get rid of the leftover turkey, offering to make turkey sandwiches for everybody.

My phone rang. It was a buddy of mine who has a side job as a d.j.

With very loud ‘80’s music playing in the background, “Hey, what are you doing?”

“Playing cards with my cousin,” I replied.

“Why don’t you come up to the Knights of Columbus hall on Memorial Drive?” he asked.

“Why?” I asked.

“I’m d.j.’ing your 20 year high school reunion,” he replied.

Instantly my mind returned back to my teenage years, the best time of my life, no cares in the world. The time where I began to forge friendships that would last a lifetime.

And if you believe any of that…

See, I was Ally Sheedy in high school. I had long hair even though I didn't play in any band. I wasn't a great student but I never got into trouble either. I kept to myself pretty much.

Let me put it this way. I still live in my hometown and I didn’t even get an invite to this.

“Why would I go to my 20 year high school reunion?” I asked.

“Lets just say it’ll be interesting," he replied.

I asked my cousin if he wanted to go. He graduated 3 years ahead of me. He was a quiet one also but he knew some people from my class. He was game.

So yes, I crashed my 20 year high school reunion... jeans.

We got there and walked right in. I recognized a few people. Nobody I cared to talk to, though. I seen a few people notice me. It felt weird. Here I was, the quiet long-haired nobody in high school walking into this formal event in jeans...

...and I didn't have a care in the world.

We grabbed a beer and walked over to my buddy the d.j. He laughed his ass of seeing me walk up in jeans. We all had a good time about it. I spent most of the night with my cousin, trying to see if we recognized anybody.

I only talked to two guys I graduated with all night. One I see often with our sons being the same age. They have played soccer together more than once. The second guy didn't even recognize me at first.

I have to say it was interesting. All through high school I was too quiet to make too many friends. I kept my head down and buried myself in my hair, hoping to morph into the wall. Now, I crash the party completely underdressed and could care less if anybody wanted to talk to me.

I don't care what my graduation song was 20 years ago, right now is the best of times.