Saturday, June 28, 2008

Life Lesson #342

Despite your wife's objections to even using Bug-Be-Gone bags to rid the crepe myrtles of their Japanese beetles, remember this one important lesson: never open the bags in the presence of the beetles.

One word: swarm

At least the neighbors got some late day entertainment out of it.

Another Reason to Celebrate

Happy Birthday to my brother Paul, who shares this special day with our father.

Even though I made telling on you an art form, you still found it in your heart to let me survive childhood. For that, many thanks.

Happy Birthday, and welcome to your late 30s!

Quote of the Weekend

"It's only when you grow up, and step back from him, or leave him for your own career and your own home—it's only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it. Pride reinforces love." -- Margaret Truman

Picture of the Weekend

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I may have broken that promise to always stay five years old a long time ago,

but each year since has found me more enriched

by your love, guidance, and support.

Muffet Marie I will always be.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Week In Review

The Top 5 Things I Have Learned This Week:

5) Though a good, picturesque idea in theory, strawberry picking for anyone under the age of two is only successful in the most perfect of conditions.

4) Vaccines are tough, rashes are dreadful, and clueless doctors are infuriating.

3) Forget heading to AC or Las Vegas, real gambling comes into play when you have decided whether or not to adminster a medicine that may or may not induce extreme wakefulness in a baby.

2) Baby pools and butterflies, Italian ice and late day skies....that's what summer is made of.

1) After celebrating his first year, my eagerness to watch him grow and develop is overshadowed by wanting him to stay my baby forever.

Fun With Words

The last round....I promise.

A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.

A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France, resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.

Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.

Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.

An Interesting (and quick) Read

George Stephanopoulos wrote up an interesting little reflection on the process of elections and a basic guideline about what to look for in your candidate.

It's succinct, basic, and a good balancing act of ideals and actions.

To read it, check out:

Making the Tough Calls

Since my son has been suffering, I had to make the dreaded call to cancel a playdate I had long been looking forward to. Though I was eager to hang with the girls and also let my girl hang with some friends, one look at my son made the decision pretty easy and obvious.

However, some times the game time decision isn't always so obvious. I can't tell you how many times I've cursed the parent who decided that bringing his or her child to Little Gym despite a tuberculosis like cough threatening the health of all the aspiring athletes in attendance.

Realizing that a definitive list was a civic responsibility (and because I love to make up lists), I have generated the following guideline for germ etiquette:

The Top 5 Signs You Need to Keep 'Em Home:

5) Nothing is more run of the mill than runny noses. These disgusting annoyances are the result of anything from teething to allergies, to running outside with the wild abandon. However, if the nose is secreting anything that resemebles any color other than yellow or light green, keep them home. If it isn't clear, than your call to say home is.

4) If your child is consistently coughing, do the rest of us a favor, stay away. Now, there are such things as harmless coughs (when mucus has decided to take up residence, for example), but the actual appearance of a lung isn't your only sign that things are contagious. Consistent coughs are the fastest way to spread the germ love.

3) Rashes. I don't care if the doctor says they aren't contagious...making an appearance at a playgroup with a child that is peppered with any kind of spot is the surest way to ensure you will not be invited back.

2) If there is anything moving on your child. Enough said.

1) Misery. As much as moms crave the chance of social interaction, dragging a bewildered child to playgroup will surely spread one thing: misery. I am certainly guilty of convincing myself that a little distraction will help a child feel better, but you are just setting yourself up for tough times. Playdates should be fun for everyone, not just the mother who needs to discuss something other than the fact that Caillou is 4 and has no hair.

****And the best rule to follow: When in doubt, don't.

Weathering the Colds

I previously posted about a Monday trip to a local farm for strawberry picking. Although last year's trip proved legendary for all the wrong reasons, I made a point of not making the same mistakes again and decided to leave at the first sign of my son's fussiness.

Meltdown averted.

My son is actually a pretty happy boy, so I initially assessed his case of the crankies as the result of the latest wave of teeth making their way through his gums. He got the two front, bottom teeth first (as is typical), but he then got the top #2 teeth instead of his front teeth.

I know, I know, vampires are cute, but this order threw me off a bit and, of course, led to worry. Why aren't the front two coming in? Is something wrong? Are they stuck?

So, when he started to experience some restless nights, I just prepared myself for their inevitable debut. Unlike the previous teeth, however, he was pretty fussy. Surprising, but not yet alarming.

On Monday we went strawberry picking (he was not allowed to eat any, but he squished a few) and that afternoon we headed to the doctor's for his first year well visit.

Everything checked out and he got a happy and complete report. He did have a very low grade temperature, which the doctor accredited to the bulbous gums retaining the incumbent teeth. We finished up with two vaccines (the pneumococcal and the varicella) and we headed home.

48 hours later, foreshadowed by wakeful nights and excessive fussiness, the rash decided to show itself.

Now, I had heard of kids actually getting a little, non-contagious case of chicken pox from the varicella (shout out to Nick and Cool-Man Kyle), but his rash was lace-patterned and covered his entire trunk and forehead.

And he was MISERABLE.

A call to the doctor confirmed the reaction and into the Aveno tub he went with a lengthy discussion between my husband and I about the administering of Benadryl. I had heard from three different people that Benadryl is a soporific crap shoot. Half of all kids knock right out, and the other half get completely wired and spend the night doing cartwheels in their crib.

Since our own little patient was not at all itchy, we decided to just lube him up and watch what happened.

He fell asleep fine, but after waking up three times by 11, we decided Benadryl was in order.

He slept until 7:30 the next morning....shout out to God.

He then went back up for a nap at 9:15. With the rash showing no signs of waning, another call to the doctor was put in. Needing to see what we were dealing with, the doctor summoned us for a full evaluation and the dreaded culture.

He was tired, he was clingy, and he was so brave.

And they really didn't have an answer. ARGH.

It could be the shot, or it just could be some random, weird virus that is typical of summer. The only thing they did rule out was a strawberry allergy...but even that has me a little leery. We were sent home with the instructions to keep the Benadryl coming and ride it out.

Here's why I am angry:

1) My son has only been sick one other time. He caught a cold right at Christmas, two days after his 6 month check up. And now, two days after his one year check up, he has his second ailment. Conclusion: The doctor's office is doing more harm than good. The next time we go, everyone is donning haz mat gear.

2) When I asked the doctor if there is a test for strawberry allergies, she responded, "Hmmm...I really don't know." And I don't know why anyone awarded you a medical license.

3) When pondering the possibility of a vaccine reaction over some random virus, she remarked, "Gee, this is a tough one. I really don't know what it could be." Hmm...I imagine the same response was made at the moment of your own birth.

Okay, that last one was out of line....but....ARGH!


Amanda-in the trenches posted one of these commercials a while back and now I am addicted. The latest (and greatest) one is below.

Gotta love the ring tone....

The Votes Are In....

So the votes have been in for some time...and the results are kind of surprising. Realizing that this particular blog does not necessarily reflect more than one or two demographics, I thought the numbers would be closer given the fact that Barack is enjoying the expected bounce following his attainment of the Democratic nomination, and the fact that one of the most important factors weighing on the votes of Americans is the war in Iraq. McCain won this particular poll with 75% of the vote.

Though I am as close to a political analyst as I am to understanding what "No Jake Brake" means, I do have some concerns about both candidates.

Obama- Why tout yourself as potentially the first African-American president? Yes, that would be an unbelievable accomplishment, but you are interracial, and that is very significant too. In a country that has found itself pretty divided, wouldn't the choice to run as a representative of more than one race be that much more unifying?

McCain- As a prisoner of war, you have more than proven your claims as the next great Commander in Chief, but why make the comment: ""Make it a hundred...That would be fine with me." -to a questioner who asked if he supported President Bush's vision for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq for 50 years. Yes, I understand that you meant it isn't about the presence of troops. We have troops in Japan, Germany, and all over; but those troops are pretty secure. It's about casualties...I get it. But STOP saying stuff like'll give my mother a heart attack already.

And to prove I'm an equal opportunity offender, two absurd quotes offered by the distinguished candidates:

"The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should. I've got Greenspan's book." -McCain

"I've now been in 57 states -- I think I've one left to go." --Obama


I will be posting this poll again mid-election, and again on election day to see how well our little blog-o-spehere reflects the nation at large.


Slogging is officially over.

Look out Friday....

Quote of the Day

"Don't demand respect as a parent. Demand civility and insist on honesty. But respect is something you must earn -- with kids as well as with adults." ~William Attwood

Picture of the Day

Unlike so many young maids with their heads filled with princes and happily ever after, this little miss has set her sights on something a little closer to reality.

*Special thanks to Kim for forwarding this one along to all of us.

Send your favorite kid pictures to:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Life of a Blogger

So, in case your curious, 80% of my daily blogging occurs at night. I pick out the following day's picture, quote, and few posts and save them to a specific time release schdeule to appear throughout the day.

The remaining 20% of my posts are churned out during naptime, which allows me to include timely news and anything that may have just happened that I cannot wait to post about. So, slogging usually occurs when our nap schedule is compromised (either someone isn't taking one, Mommy needs one, or the Health Department is on its way over to condemn my home).

Also of note, every time a reader clicks on one of the site's advertisements, Google is kind enough to throw a few cents my way. Since the blog averages between 150-200 hits a day, I will have my Zoom teeth whitening procedure paid off in 2023 (and my children will be 18 and 16).

So, as you may have guessed, today's naps were compromised. My little man whose extreme and rare fussiness had been chalked up to a new round of teething, was actually grappling with something a little more startling: a horrible reaction to the Chicken Pox vaccine (we think).

Anyway, this made for a tough couple of days with little rest for my arms. Today's nap was spent in my arms. He does seem to be doing a bit better (he is happily playing at my feet for the first time in two days) and so I am sending my shouts out to you and figuring out what the heck to do for dinner.

So: if you have a child approaching the first year mark, I'll be posting the whole story about our vaccine troubles tomorrow, as well as a few complaints I now have about the whole process.

If Only I Had A Camera....

I would have taken a picture of my daughter who, having just been told what to wear despite her tearful protestations, used the designated dress to blow her nose... a lot.

No Thank You

Another reality television show making its way onto the already meaningless crowd of senseless shows (of which I watch many), it the Baby Borrowers.

It premered last night and, though I did not watch it, I do have a small issue with it.

The program is described as:

NBC's upcoming reality series "The Baby Borrowers" is an intriguing new social experiment based on the hit British program that asks five diverse teenage couples -- ages 18-20 -- to fast-track to adulthood by setting up a home, getting a job and becoming caring parents first to babies, toddlers, pre-teens and their pets, teenagers and senior citizens -- all over the course of three weeks.

As the social experiment begins, the five young volunteer couples are asked to literally grow up overnight when they are each given a home in a quiet cul-de-sac outside Boise, Idaho and attend pre-natal classes as each "mother" wears a simulated "empathy" belly to prepare them for the arrival of their "baby."

When a real baby (all aged six-11 months old) appears at their door -- courtesy of five pairs of real volunteer parents (some of whom were teen parents themselves) who entrust their infants to one of the couples -- the nervous, fumbling teens are in for three long, arduous days that make chilling out a distant memory. They must stick to rigid routines, handle the feeding chores, diaper duty and crying jags that might be shared by
baby and teens -- all the while under 24-hour supervision by nannies and the real parents who are stationed next door, watching via monitor, and able to step in at any time. Plus, one teen from each of the couples must start a job, ranging from working in a local vet's office to a lumberyard, leaving the other alone as caregiver for the day.

So that is the gist of the new show and I just have one question:

Who among us would volunteer our babies for this pressing "social experiment"?

Of course, the show's description does well to emphasize the fact that the volunteer parents will be located close by, and able to observe through a constant monitor; but why?

Am I crazy? Is there anyone who would offer up their offspring?

Guess Who?

I am throwing down the proverbial gauntlet.

NO ONE is getting this one.

Quote of the Day

"Becoming responsible adults is no longer a matter of whether children hang up their pajamas or put dirty towels in the hamper, but whether they care about themselves and others -- and whether they see everyday chores as related to how we treat this planet." ~Eda Leshan

Picture of the Day

Always in search of alternative energy sources, little Tess' family decided not to go the nuclear route.
Send your favorite kid pictures to:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More Fun With Words- My Apologies

The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

A thief fell & broke his leg in wet cement. He became a hardened criminal.

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles , U.C.L.A.

The dead batteries were given out free of charge.

A dentist & a manicurist fought tooth and nail.

A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.

A will is a dead giveaway.

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

A backward poet writes inverse.

In a democracy it's your vote that counts; in feudalism, it's your Count that votes.

The Evolution of Dance

I realize the whole entire world has probably already seen this great clip, but it is just such a nice compliment to the earlier post.

Be sure to stay with it as long as you's worth it.

Finally, my own favorite moves come in around the 3 and 4 minute mark; unfortunately for the people who typically dance with me, I still use them.

I Couldn't Make This Up

I have often said that, were it not for the magic of email, I probably would have lost touch with a lot of good friends a long time ago. And not because I did not value our walks through life together, but because it is so hard, on any in given day, to sit down and devote serious time to reconnecting.

I certainly have my regulars, with whom a conversation is quick, natural, and requires no explanation of background information or prologue. There are others, however, with whom I like to speak and keep in my life, but who also require a lot of time.

But there comes a point when you realize too much time has passed, and you need to pick up the phone.

And so I did. I reached out to the only friend in high school for whom I have a number and decided it was time to catch up.

I had no idea what was waiting for me on the other end.

After the usual, meaningless pleasantries, I filled her in on all that was new with me and pressed her to fill me in on her latest adventures. Unfortunately, those were not so pleasant.

What she began to tell me was not only shocking and uncomfortable, but also the stuff of literature. It seems, hers has not been a happy life since we last met and after two hours of her talking and me listening, I struggled to wrap my head around how differently our lives had gone, and how easily they could have been transposed.

After refecting on our conversation for a few days now, I started to confront my own little pity party (the last few weeks have not been great), and I began to fully realize that whomever thought that the idea of skipping through life was the way to go, never headed across the Cross Bronx Expressway and all its glorious potholes.

So I have spoken with her again and again. And she has agreed to let me tell her story.
What does this mean? It's time for the writer in me to come out and put the blogger in check. I will still be generating my daily blog, but I will also be including a new weekly installment that is dedicated to this tale that needs to be told.

I have not (and will not) designate a specific date for posting as I have no idea where this will take me. I guess I am just giving anyone who regularly reads this a head's up for something different on the horizon.

A Way With Words

Yesterday was a tough one, so I am playing catch up with the slogging.

As I left the grocery store well over a year ago, my daughter asked for one of the many balloons they always have at the registers in ACME (part of the reason I now shop at Shop Rite). I declined her request, and that response was met with a little bit of resistance.

The cashier, who apparently chose misery as her favorite hobby, snarled:

Comment: "Uh oh, looks like someone missed their nap".

What I wanted to say: And it looks like someone missed her chance to use one of her two brain cells.

What I could have said: She did and now she is so miserable. What's your excuse?

What I did say: No, she's just upset with your selection of baby foods.

I Want To Dance

Sent to my by way of the always interesting (and elusive) Eric Anderson, the following is an enviable project and a great video.

And, yes, if I had the apparent freedom this guy has, I'd be dancing like a lunatic too.

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Quote of the Day

"Any child can tell you that the sole purpose of a middle name is so he can tell when he's really introuble." ~Dennis Fakes

Picture of the Day

It's God calling, Bama, and he says you should move closer to my Mommy.

Send your favorite kid pictures to:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Learning as We Go

Last June my friends and I took a playgroup trip to a local farm to pick strawberries. I was nine months pregnant, overwrought with exhaustion, and accompanied by my daughter who had decided to begin our day at 4:30 am.

Believing that a day outside would provide a nice distraction to get us peacefully to naptime, I quickly learned that a mother of a two year old should never expect anything to occur peacefully (we can only hope).

Though she had a blast picking (and eating) mounds of beautiful strawberries, her fun quota was filled by the time we hit the produce stand to pay. While we waited in line, she decided that the time would be much better spent making the most of the gravel road beneath our feet. The first spray hit the back of my leg and, before I could address the action, the second spray hit a nearby car.

She was admonished and picked up (no easy task for 9 monther) and at this point one obvious message should have been sent from my brain to my legs: leave now.

But I had to pay. Which I did while a stringbean toddler writhed and flailed as I grappled with balancing a box of strawberries and maintaining that face that says, "I am so in control right now."

Then someone threw out the idea to head to the diner for lunch.

Lunch? At nine months, my days of eating whatever I wanted and not having to suck in my stomach were fleeting. Despite my better judgement, I somehow rationalized that grilled cheese, fries, and a special trip to the diner would peacefully distract her.

I don't even think I got a chance to look at the menu. Our exit was loud and public and I just should have gone with the pressing urges of my instincts, which were sending me loud signals to abort the mission.

This year: we decided to go again. We headed to the same field, for the same produce, and the same a very cranky, exhausted, teething little brother.

How did this time go?

She had a blast. He had some initial fun pulling off the strawberries and squishing them. But my fear of allergens, coupled with his earnest attempts to eat them made for some fussy moments.

But this time I decided to actually learn from last year's mistakes. I distracted him enough while my daughter assembled a pretty interesting assortment of quality strawberries, and then we paid for them, as well as some cherries and a beautiful little lime for my own personal purposes that I will need to enjoy later this evening.

Another year older, another child smarter.

Quote of the Day

"I was such an ugly kid - When I played in the sandbox, the cat kept covering me up." -Rodeny Dangerfield

Picture of the Day

Tummy time is so three months ago.

Send your favorite kid pictures to:

Monday, June 23, 2008

And because the last post was pretty hokey....

Except for maybe my father-in-law, there is no one on the planet who maintains a better arsenal of eye-roll inducing jokes than my Uncle Bobby.

And both men never fail to absolutely crack me up.

For example: Fun With Words

I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

Police were called to a day care center where a 3-yr-old was resisting a rest.

Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.

The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.

To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.

The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

The First Year

Saturday marked my son's first birthday, and though the year has been quite a whirlwind, I simply cannot believe how quickly the time has passed.

As he starts to say words, point at different things he wants, and generally respond to the world around him, I am as excited by his advances, as I am equally eager to hit the pause button and hold onto these fleeting moments.

All of this reminds me of an interview I read years ago with actor and comedian, John Leguazamo. In the interview, he was asked about fatherhood and what it was like to have children. He responded:

"The days are so very long, and the years are so short."

I remember thinking what an interesting response it was, having no idea how true his words were. I think of all the times I glance at the clock, eager for a break at the end of the day. I think of all the minutes I waste doing so many other things instead of just sitting with my children and enjoying our time.

And as I constantly capture every one of my children's moments on film, I can't help but wonder if, in all my preoccupation with wanting to preserve these memories, maybe I should just put the camera down and live in them.

Profile of a Parent

A wonderful follow-up to last week's profile, Chris is the first person to correctly identify our weekly Guess Who? and also the husband of last week's profile, Susan. However, unlike the perfection that is Susan, Chris has at least one known flaw....he is a Red Sox fan.

I'll let this one run anyway....

Profile of a Parent

Name: Chris, aka: Daddy, Babe, Fernando

Father of: Abigail (3) and Kyleigh (8 months)

What You Did Before You Were Someone’s Daddy: Edited exciting network TV sports stuff, went to movies, played video games, played piano on a regular basis, ate at restaurants and enjoyed lazy Saturday mornings with my lovely wife.

What You Do For Yourself Now: Get up early, go to work early, edit infomercials, get home early, play rigged games of Candy Land, recite lines from “Finding Nemo”, play “If You’re Happy and You Know It” on the piano on a regular basis, videotape and shoot digital photos simultaneously, and fall down a lot. But every now and then I still get to do cool job-related things, like go to Wimbledon for ESPN (woo hoo!)

What is your favorite thing about being a father? Seeing the joy of discovery in my girls’ eyes every time they do something new – They both have such a bottomless well of excitement!

What is the one thing you wish you’d known before you had children? “Sleeps through the night” means “Gets up at 5 AM”.

What would you do with an extra free hour in your day? If it were in the morning, I’d use it to sleep. Any other time of the day, I’d concoct grand plans to finish projects around the house, get in shape, and find new and exciting outlets for my creativity. And then I’d end up wasting that hour checking e-mail and watching baseball on TV.

Who are your go-to people when you have a parenting questions? My wife Susan knows all when it comes to our little girls. I think she may have secretly received a how-to manual at the hospital, since she always seems to know exactly what to do or say in any situation (as opposed to my constant state of making-it-uppitude).

What is the one thing your child(ren) do that always makes you smile? Really, all they have to do is smile at me to make me smile back. Abigail has been really cute lately, though – Whenever I do something that makes her happy (play a game with her, do a puzzle with her, put in her favorite movie), she’ll turn to me and give me a big hug, then say “Oh, thank you Daddy!” in her cutest little girl voice. How can a dad not smile at that?

Who is your favorite fictional mother? Family Guy’s Lois Griffin

If you could be someone you know for a day, who would it be?
I would be my incredibly talented baseball-playing cousin Blaise, if only to know what it is like to actually have some real athletic ability. (Look for him in a major league ballpark near you in 2013!)

If you could ban people from doing something, what would it be? I’d say being a Yankees fan, but everything that is truly good and heroic needs something dark and evil to be its foil. So instead, I would ban politicians from polluting our airwaves with ad after negative ad during election season. Enough is enough.

If you could make one mixed CD that would be the only music you could listen to for the rest of your life, what songs would you put on it? “Hey Jude” by the Beatles, “#41” by Dave Matthews Band, “Alice Childress” by Ben Folds Five, “Summer Highland Falls” by Billy Joel, “Levon” by Elton John, “Daniel Lee” by Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles, “Curbside Prophet” by Jason Mraz, “What Is and What Never Should Be” by Led Zeppelin, “Old Love (Unplugged)” by Eric Clapton, “Alcohol” by the Barenaked Ladies, “Bad Man Walking” by Gov’t Mule, “Breaking the Girl” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Fly From Heaven” by Toad the Wet Sprocket, “Sing Sing Sing” by Benny Goodman, and of course “One More Minute” by Weird Al Yankovic.
Let's keep this going....send your own answers, along with a picture, to:


Having carried a rather large baby for nine, long months, I distinctly remember the reactions of my friendly Philadelphians as I waddled down Walnut, seemingly defying gravity. People asked when the twins were due, or even how overdue I was (at 7 months).

Despite all of this, I have nothing on these people......

Quote of the Day

"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million." ~Walt Streightiff

Picture of the Day

In order to truly commemorate the signficance of his first birthday, nothing quite leaves the mark of permanence like bright blue Cookie Monster icing on a light carpet.
Send your favorite kid pictures to:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Our Song

My favorite lullabye for my favorite little guy.