My April fool

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Everyone loves a prank. Or at least pulling one. No one more than Newmom. For as long as I have known her, she loves a good spirited fun prank. Never mean spirited or with any malice in any of the pranks, just a good fun prank.

The Superbowl of Pranking happens to fall on the day after my Birthday and happens to be my cousin’s Birthday (literally the same year, and when my uncle called his family back in Ohio, half of them thought it was an April Fools Joke!). Every year NewMom has done something. This year was no different.

Before I get to this years prank, I will just highlight some of her previous work.

Last year she put food coloring on both my and the little guys toothbrushes so our mouths would turn Blue when we brushed our teeth (pay attention, she has successfully pulled off toothbrush pranks before) but what she didn’t count on is how it made the bristles of the toothbrush look. It just looked, Gross. So I said “there’s something wrong with my toothbrush” I got a terse “No there’s nothing wrong with it, just brush your teeth!”. I started to rinse the brush and it quickly started to revert to its normal appearance , and all the runoff was bright blue! Prank averted! I win!!

A few years earlier, when the little guy was LITTLE, she put some of his gum numbing cream for his teething pain on my toothbrush. Now that one didn’t make my brush look any different and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything. My mouth was numb when I finished brushing and I couldn’t figure out why! Newmom was laughing pretty hard at that one.

Another time the Prank was not toothbrush related but another good one. As I was leaving for work, I stepped on the throw rug we have at the doorstep to leave and it ‘Popped’ it really startled me. Newmom and the little guy were laughing pretty hard, as this time it was a joint effort, and it was bubble wrap carefully placed under the rug at the doorstep.

So to this year. I couldn’t sleep and got up to get a sip of cool water. when I exited the bedroom, newmom was in the hallway bathroom and I heard some different noises that were not normal. I figured out quickly the next prank was in motion. Even later in the evening (or was it early morning) I went into the bathroom and when I opened the lid, I saw it.

Just when you thought it was safe to go to…

A GREAT WHITE SHARK IN THE TOILET!! OK, not really, it was a picture of a great white jaws open attacking. It made me laugh. It was a bit of a start, but not enough to make me shout out or anything like that. After I went to the other restroom I returned to bed. Later in the morning we heard the little guy rustling and eventually go into the bathroom. We both waited anxiously to hear his response. He came into our bedroom and said “very funny mom”. We were both trying to stifle our giggles. We asked what was going on, he said “there’s a shark in the toilet” and it was so deadpan that we both had a bit of a laugh. A little later in the morning, the little guy tried his own prank, changing a setting on the television and saying it wasn’t working. We were onto him pretty quickly.

So we will have to see what the future holds. To see what pranks we will fall victim (or catch on) to. But I love Newmom’s mischievousness, it is part of what makes her so special. And who doesn’t love to pull a good Prank?

Heroes (How I got from David Bowie to Jesus Christ in one step).

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OK, if that title didn’t grab your attention I don’t know what else to do.

Today is Friday, April 2, 2021. It is Good Friday. Today we observe the most selfless act in the history of all mankind. Today marks the day a carpenter from Nazareth was Crucified and died. That carpenter died for the forgiveness our our sins. Wiped the slate clean. As a child and growing up I never really comprehended what was so ‘Good’ about Good Friday. It took a long time for me to truly appreciate and understand the REAL significance of what is so important about today and what it represents. I mean I went through the steps, went to church on Easter, said “He is Risen” along with everyone else, but it didn’t really hold significance to me. That was then, this is now and with my faith being such an important part of both my and my families’ lives (I mean the little guy and newmom) the reason why we refer to it as “good” make all the sense in the world to me.

So how the heck do I get to Jesus, the savior from David Bowie? Well, today also marks the final day of a weeklong event on my favorite podcast, Rockin the Suburbs. Not too long ago they asked a task of herculean effort: give your top ten favorite David Bowie songs. So I thought about that and put together a list without thinking too heavily on it, I didn’t want to overthink it, I wanted it to be the first songs that came to mind. I did however challenge a few of my other friends to this same task, usually met with the same response I had (are you f&*ing kidding me? TEN! I could list many more than that!). What they did after that was to take the songs and complete a top 15 songs and had a zoom call that anyone could listen to as they counter down the top 15. Now I missed the zoom call but did listen to the individual episodes that aired all week this week.

***SPOILER LINE (don’t read on if you want to listen to the countdown)****

You can find them on most podcast platforms, just look up Rockin’ the Suburbs.

***LAST CHANCE***

I found it VERY fitting that the number one song on the countdown was from Bowies Album of the same name, Heroes. Released in 1971 and a part of the group of albums commonly referred to as part of the ‘Berlin’ albums, the song is prolific. It has been covered over and over. It is played over and over again on classic radio (because that is exactly what it is, a classic). There was a lot of feedback from the participants on the zoom call and heaps of praise for the song.

Fitting seeing the day. You see, Jesus can be seen as a hero. His sacrifice, although preordained from his birth is a heroic act, to give his life so that all of us shall have eternal life with God. So as I sit and reflect on the significance of the day and that Heroes was the top song, it really felt like right. So much like six degrees of Kevin Bacon (which by the way I have never lost at) today I have made the jump from David Bowie to Jesus Christ in a single jump.

Another interesting note about this unlikely connection. Bowie played Pontius Pilot in the movie “the Last Temptation of Christ’. I saw this movie on the Theaters when it was released and as a big Peter Gabriel fan, bought the soundtrack as well. Another note, Peter Gabriel covered ‘Heroes’ (Unfortunately not one of my favorite covers).

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I wish everyone a Happy Easter: He is Risen!…

This is 51? (or still 49?)

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Yesterday marked the anniversary of my birth. My Birthday. Another trip around the sun.

I decided to look up how 51 years breaks down. Here it is:

Officially old? Not by a longshot. Some additional aches and pains? Check. Longer recovery periods(especially after a little too much scotch)? Check. A few(no, LOADS) of gray hairs? Check. Need readers to see smaller text? Check and Check!

Old? Nope. I really don’t know what it is supposed to feel like. What exactly does it mean to “feel old” or “be old”. Now don’t get me wrong. There have been those times where I have just felt like total crap. But that is to be expected, I had days like that in my youth as well. I really don’t have a concept of “being old” as much as my brother tries to remind me how old I am. Someone really close to me who passed away last year would have turned 50 earlier in March. I remember talking to her about the monumental milestone and she was looking forward to it. I reminded her of how I felt about that number going up reminding her it really doesn’t matter, it is just a silly number.

Speaking of silly numbers, do birthdays in the age of Covid count? I mean we were in full lockdown at this time in 2020 so did I REALLY have a birthday? When I was growing up, my Dad worked on a project that had him going back and forth to Japan. He was there for his birthday more than once and let us know the rule was “if you were out of the country on your birthday, it didn’t count”. So does the Covid lockdown count? If that is the case, I am still 49, not counting last year and we are officially still restricted now. I know the answer, and if the number really meant that much to me, I’d say differently. I am looking forward to the time where we can get together with friends again to celebrate our milestones, including birthdays.

I have a cousin whose birthday is quite literally the day after mine. he calls me every year to remind me of how “old” I am (yeah, those 24+ hours have made me SOOOOOOOO much wiser). This year we had a nice long conversation about growing up together and how different it is for our kids. We also talked about how much we have seen in our time, with advances in technology and medicine. Who knows what changes our own kids will experience. We talked about the changes our grandparents saw in their time as well. We truly live in a time of wonder. We also talked about the apparent loss of civility in our current society as well. It is true. I hope that with each technological advancement we do not lose more of ourselves to this technological isolation that seems to come along with it. My favorite call from him over the years was actually one he left on my Voice Mail, the only thing that played was the Neil Young classic “Old Man (Take a look at my life). I still crack up thinking about it.

Well I took it easy for my special day, was flooded with text messages and birthday wishes from friends and family on social media. Newmom and the little guy and I spent the day doing as little as possible and it was GLORIOUS! We finished the night up with Cupcakes and ice cream, both of which were delicious! Little time at the pool, one my favorite sub chains for lunch, and newmom cooked an amazing dinner made the day one to remember. Because it is also the week for the little guys’ spring break, I took a couple of extra days off as well. I’m going to try to do as little as possible and enjoy the heck out of it.

Kids Movies (your era)

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Over the weekend we grabbed the film “The Croods – The New Age” from Redbox (this generations’ Blockbuster) and we watched it with the little guy. We even ended up keeping it an extra day because the little guy wanted to watch it again! I totally enjoyed the first film and went into this one with low expectations, but boy did that movie prove me wrong, IT WAS EXCELLENT! I was laughing the entire way through, hard at times! I think I may have enjoyed it as much as the little guy did. The story was fantastic, the gags were funny and the quality of the animation was excellent (from the layman’s (me) eyes).

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GREAT Job

This got me thinking about a conversation I had when we got together with NewMoms family recently. My brother in law was saying how he is looking forward to watching kids movies again with their little one, as his son (who is going to be 13 this year) has kind of grown out of them and doesn’t really go out of his way to watch animated kids films anymore. This really hit me. Wait, I am not going to be able to watch the most recent Disney/Pixar/Fill in the studio films with the little guy because he is just not going to have as much interest in them? This makes me remarkably sad. Many of these films put as much in for the parents as they do for the kids. Let’s also be honest, the inner kid in us loves them as well! I cannot tell you how nostalgic watching the Peanuts movie was to me, because my earliest movie memory was going to see “Race for your life Charlie Brown” in a little theater with my Dad. I don’t even know how old I was at the time, but I remember it was just my dad and I and that movie will ALWAYS have that special place in my heart.

I think back in the way back machine to a niece I once had (don’t worry, she’s around and OK, we just don’t have any kind of a relationship anymore) and her LOVE of the Disney pictures/Kids films of her day. She was (and probably still is) a HUGE Lion King/Little Mermaid/Beauty and the Beast fan. I know this because I know for a while she used to work at a local Disney store in her area. Those were the films my brother watched with her. Those are the films he will remember and love, where for me and our little guy, it is the Pixar franchises. Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Cars (boy if I had to watch Cars 2 one more time…) and the others like Ice Age and the Despicable Me/Minions franchises, those are my era.

I know it is coming. The day where the next film is going to be announced and I am going to gleefully tell our little guy about it and he will say “eh, I am not so sure I really want to see that one” and it will feel like a kick in the gut. And to be completely honest with you, it makes me sad just thinking about it. It makes me think to a blog post i read once from a dad who wrote about a tradition he had with his own little guy where after every film they would dance like no one was watching to the credits music after every film until one day the son said “I think we don’t have to dance today”(I’m not crying, you’re crying!). But until that time comes, I am going to watch everyone of these films with joy and my cup shall runneth over with each hysterical gut laugh from the little guy as we watch them together (as I did as we watched the Croods).

Ok, you can stop growing for a little bit

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I don’t know a single parent of a young child who hasn’t either said or agreed with the statement ‘it goes by too fast’. That wobbly toddler who took their first steps last week is now the almost nine year old that is destroying shoes it seems every other week.

We are not even through March and the little guy has pretty much outgrown his Christmas clothes (at least the pants, they all seem to be high-waters now). And shoes? Forget it, he is really tough on shoes. But I will take it. It means he is healthy and active (those poor shoes) which is truly a blessing. It really doesn’t take much to get him to put down the electronics and get outside to play with his friends (THANK GOODNESS). Although sometimes, playing with his friends means sitting around in the courtyard of our community, listening to music from their phones or playing games on those same electronic devices.

I have been watching the little guy get less little everyday. Not in that creepy lifetime movie evil dad way, but just noting how tall he has gotten or how his feet almost appear to be too big for the rest of his body. It won’t be too much longer that he will be taller than some family members (eventually me, but that is still a few years off.). “Wow, it looks like the little guy has had another growth spurt” is a common phrase heard from friends and family that we may not have seen recently.

Long gone is the little guy who would stand at your feet reach up and say “up, up”. Now he just wants to try to put a WWE style move on us to “destroy us”. We have a Google nest in the kitchen that displays old photos when it is not asleep or active. Not a day goes by without newmom or I stopping in our tracks when we see a picture of those days gone by. “Ohhh look at this one!” or “where did that little guy go?” accompanied by an occasional “oh, I looked pretty good in this picture.” (from newmom or I) are common phrases while looking at those precious memories captured digitally for eternity.

Dwelling even more on nostalgia, newmom and I recently went through some old clothes to donate to good will and with each of his shorts that he has outgrown, we reminisced over each piece (oh that was a birthday gift from so and so or we got that one at old navy) as it was folded and placed into the donation bag.

Now as much as I do miss those days of a littler little guy, I am always excited about what adventure each new day brings. Each new experience and challenge the day provides. I just wish it could occur without having to buy new pants and shoes for him what feels like every 6 weeks.

Hey parents, what do your kids go through quickly? Please comment…

10,000 words

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This is the 20th post of 2021. I know, I am off pace to hit my 2021 goal, but I have plenty of time to catch up. One thing I noticed along the way is the word count average was higher than it has ever been. So with this post I will exceed 10,000 words.

It’s pretty exciting to me to hit that many words in only 20 posts. At this rate I will hit a new milestone in the number of words in a year. If you read semi regularly, you know I am a stats fiend.

Here’s to many more words before the year is out!!!

Thanks for continuing to read and support the Blog.

The slow creep towards normalcy (Play Ball!)

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This week marked a step towards the end of the “two weeks” I recently posted about. Our little guy returned to the diamond to play baseball! The return of youth sports! Now it is not quite a FULL return. Everyone is still social distancing and wearing masks but the boys are playing ball!

Last spring season was cut short due to the pandemic and my illustrious coaching career was cut short after two games. The League did refund money to the families and told us they would let us know when we could return to the diamonds. The Fall season was a “developmental” exercise, where they put teams together and had practices only. But there was still a charge for it. We opted not to do that. We thought it was the equivalent of taking the little guy to the park and playing baseball with him there. I am glad we opted out of that, the feedback I got from people who did it was not very positive. I really didn’t want to be in a season with no actual games.

We weren’t certain what the Spring season would hold, the Governor of our state is constantly changing the parameters at what appears to be a whim, with nonsensical explanations so we weren’t sure what the future holds. When we were told by people who were in the know, that there was indeed going to be a season this spring, with games! So with a little reluctance not knowing what the future held, we registered the little guy. Now keep in mind, he really hasn’t played in a year, and his interest had waned quite a bit. Because lets be really honest, it can get boring quickly. Especially at this level, when the kids are developing their skills. A half inning can last a LIFETIME and if there are no hits to the outfield, the kids out there can lose interest QUICKLY. So we took the chance in hopes that the little guy would find his baseball mojo again.

Well, this past week was the first week of the new season. We are on the Athletics. It is a Kid Pitch league (no options this year, it is kid pitch or nothing). Now the little guy is a lefty and has a pretty strong arm. But he doesn’t want to pitch because he doesn’t want to be the center of attention. He has also said he doesn’t want to be the one to lose a game. All valid concerns, especially at this age. He plays a pretty good 1st base and has been played at that position often. So at our first Exhibition game he walks over from First base and asks me:

‘Dad, when are you going to put me in at Pitcher?’

My response:

‘Do you want to pitch?’

‘Yes’

‘Ok, our current pitcher is near his pitch count, you’ll go in after him.’

So our current pitcher finishes up against his last batter and I make the call. MY LITTLE GUY IS GOING TO PITCH!!! AND HE ASKED TO!!!! So he took to the mound and took his warm up pitches. Then he faced his first batter at this level! I couldn’t have been a prouder father.

Now I know pride is a sin. It is discussed in the Bible often. I have written about it in the blog before. I have had conversations with pastors and other men who are deeply connected to their faith. Having pride in another’s abilities and gifts is different that self pride and self aggrandizing. So I am not going to feel any grief over being as proud as I could possibly be for my little guy to step up and try his hand at pitching. Everyone thought he did quite well. He gave up a couple of hits, but that means he was finding the strike zone on his first attempt. I think he was a little down on himself, but he will only continue to improve.

The important thing is he got over his fear of ‘everyone looking at him” and ‘letting everyone down’ and did it. It is a GREAT lesson for us all, to conquer our fears and just do it.

So we got our season started, off to a good start (we lost the exhibition game, but the boys played hard and followed direction) and I am excited to see how it turns out.

It is a first step to returning to recovering what was lost to Covid and the shutdowns. A slow creep to ‘normal’ (whatever that will look like).

It was not an injury, it was an illness

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Well, it has now been two full weeks I have been out of action due to what I originally thought was an injury to my right leg. No morning walks, no lunchtime runs (I am going to have a lot of catching up to do to get back on pace!) not really much of anything except chronic pain.

So as I wrote a few days back, I thought I was injured. I muscle pull or pinch nerve. The pain started on Monday in the early morning hours. I tried as early as Wednesday morning to het in and see a referred Chiropractor. The earliest he was going to be able to see me was the following Monday! I was finally able to get in and see Dr. Handy on Friday. He was able to work on the leg and provide a ton of relief. he said my alignment was OK and it did not appear to be muscular, so his original prognosis was nerve damage (pinched nerve). I had to wait the weekend to see him again and after a rough weekend of icing the pain spots and loads of over the counter pills (Advil and Tylenol) I got up Monday morning and saw it. A red patch on my right knee. On Sunday I noticed a patch about the size of a quarter on the back on my right thigh. I knew it the moment I saw the patch on my knee what it was.

I had SHINGLES. Along with a whole new pain in the thigh, it felt like needles were being pushed into my leg til they hit the bone.

I went to the appointment and showed the doctor, he said “Yup, looks like shingles. It explains why I can’t find anything wrong with your back. I will treat the pain but you need to see your primary care physician ASAP.” and finished treating the pain (thankfully). Well I called the doctor from the parking lot, praying that I could get an immediate appointment, making a mental sacrifice to the cancellation gods (which by the way, were not kind to me to get to see the Chiropractor). Unfortunately she could not see me until the next morning. When I did get in I showed her the patches on my leg and she confirmed my fear.

F%^KING SHINGLES!

So the pain. The muscle tightness, the searing nerve pain. All of it, shingles. How did I know it was shingles you ask? I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on Television. I had shingles when I was 21. It seems like a lifetime ago (because it was) but I had them. I was one of the lucky guys who had the very dangerous form that was on the head and came down onto my face, impacting the eye. I not only had to see my regular doctor but saw an ophthalmologist as well to treat my left eye. So I have had experience with this affliction before. And before this, it was the single most painful experience in my life. Both doctors asked “stress is the usual trigger for Shingles, have you had any traumatic events that would cause additional stress?” funny question doc, the entire last year has been a traumatic event. But when I really think about it, there hasn’t really been a single event, I think the weight of everyday in ‘the new normal’ has just worn me down and out. this is just the physical manifestation of “the two weeks” I also recently wrote about.

When I share that I have shingles, the first thing people say is: ‘you know there is a vaccine for shingles now, right?’ I DO NOW! Actually, I saw a commercial for it a few weeks ago. Before this happened. One never thinks “oh I’m going to get shingles.’ So as soon as this thing runs its course, I am not passing go, not collecting $200.00 but going straight to the doctors to get the vaccine. I have had my fair share of shingles, thank you very much.

So I am treating this with the prescribed medications and rest. Which SUCKS. I feel like I am a spectator. I am not walking in the mornings, I am not running. When my leg doesn’t feel like it is on fire of my quads don’t feel like I overdid it on leg day I try to get stuff done and be productive. I do have a new appreciation for people who deal with chronic pain, this really is no fun. But I can’t wait for this to run its course and get the damn vaccine that everyone tells me about.

It was the longest Two Weeks in history

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March 13th marks an anniversary so many of us would never thought would need to be observed. The beginning of a year of loss. The start of a year that future generations will study and discuss. A year that some will say was a vast overreaction and others will say saved millions of lives. Businesses that have been around for years, even generations closed forever in this year of loss. Families not being able to say goodbye as loved ones were lost. Events both big and small lost. Asterix next to the year 2020 to denote the modifications the year brought to us.

And it was only supposed to be a short two weeks!

The notifications that announced the beginning of the shutdowns that would continue and continue all said the same thing: we will be shutting down for two weeks until we can get things under control. We got the notification that the little guys school was shutting down and that his little league baseball season was shutting down on the same day. Its a day I will never forget. The 13th was a Friday (which was fitting) and that particular week I had a nasty bug (I don’t think it was Covid, but who knows?) and I missed two days of work. I went back Friday morning and still had a nasty cough. Now my body’s physiology works like this: I get a cold, it moves to my chest, I get a nasty cough that sticks around for weeks. I was at that third stage. No fever, no reason to believe I couldn’t work in the office. Boy was I wrong. I basically got shamed out of the office. I took my laptop and went home, and I never went back. Because the following week the rest of the world shut down and everyone had been reassigned to work from home. It was on the way home from work that I got notifications from both the little guys school and baseball league telling us to be patient, this should only be a couple weeks before we can resume.

Well, it has been a strange year. For something that was supposed to be two weeks, we lost the rest of the school year. For something that was supposed to be two weeks, we lost an entire spring(and fall) little league season. For something that was supposed to be two weeks, we lost the opportunity to celebrate all of our birthdays with family in 2020. For only two weeks, we were going to miss in service church. for only two weeks…

It has been a LOOONG two weeks.