Thursday, September 30, 2004


Apparently, we are no longer trapped in our own neghborhood. Although we weren't really trapped today. Our situation just made us get a bit more creative in getting things done. My wife had a co-worker pick her up on the other side of the wounded bridge. The only downside there was that she was made to walk around the lake, i.e. through the swamp in her work shoes and pants. We hadn't thought to wear boots.

Later, I took the kids out on the Fuel and Chariot. We, too, had to walk around the lake. As I walked, pulling my charges over the wet, flood ravaged grass, I remembered again my days in Colorado, and found myself thinking about a simple life. I enjoy the challenges and hardships of living near the edge that most people don't seem to tolerate well. Even though a few neighbors had offered to loan cars or give rides. I wanted to remain self-sufficient. We rode up into town to drop the boy off at pre-school. He thought that was pretty cool. After coming back to the neighborhood, LuLu and I checked out the outed bridge and the new emergency access road the township was building. She was supposed to be sleeping but was having too much fun throwing dirt back into the new road bed. We hopped back on the bike to pick up the boy. Returning again to the 'hood, people couldn't believe that we had been up into town. They asked, "HOw'd you do it?" I was polite, but thought, "what do you mean how? I'm still sitting on the darned bike".

All in all, the day was kind of neat. It was like a snow day except that it was relatively warm and most were wearing shorts. Informal groups of adults and kids forned to tallk, play, and watch the progress of the two projects. Apparently, the emergency access road that the Township was wokring on today is now open. As nice as it is to have the ability to get the vehicles out of the 'hood, I fear that this is much like Pandora's Box. I fear that after putting the time and energy into creating this road, this road could become more than a temporary access and will begin to see more and more traffic through our heretofore very quiet neighborhood. The road also, and perhaps more importantly, could very significant implications in the development of the land which surrounds our little community. Ihave neither the time nor energy to go into that at this hour. Perhaps later.

Good night. Peace.

THe Sky is Falling

Not really. The sky is not really falling. Sometimes it just feels like it. But that's not the point of this entry. Tonight, well last night now, I was painting AGAIN. This time is was doing the crown molding in the hallway. The creaky little ladder I was using made me nervous that I would wake the kids as I worked near their doors. It reminded me of one of the nights that we were removing (or trying to remove) the wallpaper. I was using the scoring tool which makes a very unique sound. The missus was putting the boy to bed when he said, "Mommy, you hear that? That's my ceiling cracking. It's going to fall down." He was very nonchalant about the whole thing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Rain, Birthday, Funeral

Not necessarily in that order...

First off let me thank my Mom and Dad for taking the kids so my betrothed and I could get some much needed painting done before this neighborhood party that is ever more quickly approaching. In fact, I should be painting and installing new trim at this very moment but I feel more like 'blogging right now as some things are more clear in my head. Between the lack of sleeping and the inhaling of noxious fumes, these midnight painting episodes are starting to get to me. I am always amazed how much longer these home improvement projects take than expected or alloted. We started this current thing on the Sunday before Labor Day, and with the exception of a few bike rides and a run, it has been all consuming. But I digress. Let me secondly (and a bit sarcastically) thank my Mom and Dad for bringing us all this rain. You see, every time they go to the shore, it seems to rain on the East Coast. Their current trip has brought the wrath of Jeanne down on my little slice of nirvana with such voluminous rain that the little creek that runs beside the neighborhood's lake is flooding with fury. So much so that it has eroded the little bridge that provides the egress from those of us on this side of the 'hood. The police have barracaded the road and apparently it is now a FEMA issue. With the Feds involved, we could be landlocked forever.

The other day was my birthday. I got to spend it at a funeral. Actually, it wasn't so bad. Attending the celebration of someone else's life really made me think more about how fortunate I was and how many wonder gifts I already had. The kinds of gifts that don't get wrapped. My wife. My children. My parents. My brothers and sister. My extended family. And, yes, even my in-laws. I am pretty lucky.

Today, one of the other dads in the neighborhood today made a brief visit at our playgroup. It was funny because he seemed so awkward. I was hopeful that we could hang out for a while and have some male bonding. He left after a short while. Not sure if it was my lack of conversational ability or if it was the fact that he ended up taking a plastic golf club to the head from one of the more 'active' playgroup participants. I found out later (Mon had a meeting to discuss Beef and Beer with several moms) that at least two of the guys in my neighborhood don't bathe their kids. Avoid it like the plague. Now maybe its just Moms exaggerating. But I doubt it. It seems that it has become very in vogue to pay lip service to spending time with your children, but I am constantly amazed by how often I hear both first- and second-hand about dads worming their way out of being with their children. Don't get me wrong I need a little separation from time to time, but I am with my guys almost all day, every day. Many of these guys are working outside the home 10-12 days. Go figure.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Do Car Salesmen Want to Sell Cars?

I thought these guys worked on commission. After our experience with the used Eurovan and the experience I just had at the local Honda dealership I am beginning to wonder whether these guys really want to sell cars. Maybe they can sense that we're still all over the map as far as what we want to buy, and figure they're not going to waste their time on us. Or maybe it's the way I dress -- today, for instance, my blue Yankees T (thanks Scott!) and a pair of army green cargo shorts. I had on clean running shoes AND socks. Most importantly, I did shower AND shave today. But anyway, the 2005 Honda Odyssey officially came out today and Four convinced me to take him and his sister to check it out. Unfortunately, the only model on the lot was the $35k Touring edition. At that price, he wasn't willing to let it go out for a test drive without a more serious commitment to buy. I'm not going to give a serious commitment to buy anything without driving it first. He says he's getting in a permanent demonstrator that will be used for test drives. I told him to give me a call. The funny thing is that the Toyota dealer was willing to let us take out a $35k vehicle for a test drive with NO commitment to buy anything. Maybe I'll pay him another visit.

Since we are all over the map as far as what to get. I'd like to ask those who read this to let me know what they are driving and if pleased with their choice. I am especially interested to hear what any stay-at-home parents (even more especially dads) have to say, although all others are welcome to chime in. Any suggestions are also welcomed. The practical side of me keeps telling me to get a newer model minivan, but the guy in me who doesn't want to look like a male soccer mom yearns for something different. Not even tougher or more masculine, just different. I've never swam well with the current. And although it is often more difficult to swim against the current of popular culture, it just isn't me.

Updates Added

See "Situated" and "Eurovan" for updates to previous entries.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I'm gonna let you go now

Four's words to my betrothed before hanging up on her while on the phone.


Today at our neighborhood playgroup, I had a great conversation with one of the other moms about being a stay-at-home parent and the always attendant (though not oft discussed) frustrations. Actually, this wasn't just one of the other moms, it was one of the women I respect very much and often find myself thinking what would she do in a given situation relative to parenting. Our conversation put me a bit at ease. I have felt easily frustrated lately. I don't know if its the summer and the lack of separation, or recent events in which the kids behavior created some real tension and have kind of caused us to become hypersensitive to and evaluate every little infraction. Also, we're trying to change some of our discipline techniques, so of course there are growing pains in conjunction with that. I could go on and on. Anyway, to have this woman whom I very much respect voice sentiments similar to my own was quite relieving. I love our children very much and hope to continue in this position. It's good to know that what I am going through is not just me and not a sign that I can't continue to do the job well.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Bedtime Blues

Bedtime has become very stressful here.
I don't know why.

More to follow.

Missing Summit County's Trail System

today, well now yesterday since its so late, after lunch I loaded the kids in the Chariot and pulled them with my mountain bike to the local shopping center. Knowing that people can drive particularly aggressively around here, I made sure we had our flag and a flashing clip-on light. Despite this, I was still pretty nervous the whole time with my precious cargo, and while nothing happened or even came close to happening I am definitely going to rethink our route and/or our ability to continue that activity. Which is a total bummer. In this era of instant gratification and luxury this and luxury that, I want to teach my children the simple pleasure of getting there yourself, making yourself go. Not just for exercise, but for the sense of accomplishment that it allows. I just don't want them to get injured or killed learning that. When I lived in Summit County Colorado, there was a great paved trail system (in addition to great road and off-road riding) that connected all the major desinations in the area; Breck, Keystone, Dillon, Silverthorne, Frisco. Especially with the two munchkins, I am really missing that.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

If Only I Could Type Faster

I can't sleep. It's 12:40AM and I can't sleep. I fell asleep telling Four a bedtime story and in making the transfer back to my bed, seemed to have unexpectedly and unwantingly found my second wind. Earlier it would have been fine, but its far too late even for me to begin the skim coat that is proving to be necessary on our now paper-less walls. So, as I lay there in bed, trying to fall asleep all these images and stories came flooding back to me much like the scene in Finding Nemo where Dory has all these past event flash before her, many of them the same images and stories that eluded when I last tried to catch up after my brief return to income-producing labor. So, here are snippets in no particular order, placeholders really, to most likely (hopefully) fleshed out at a later date.

VW Eurovan test 'drive'
 [Updated 9-22-2004] So I had this earlier post about our mini-van search. On Friday, I called a local BMW dealer who was advertising a 2000 VW Eurovan for sale. With our busy schedule we couldn't get over the weekend, so we scheduled an appointment for the following Monday at 10:30 AM. We made sure that gave ourselves plenty of time to get over there, drive the vehicle, and get Four off to his first day of pre-school. We get there and Liv is asleep (off schedule due to her middle of the night shananagins the night before). I go in to meet the salesman, who tells me that they've had all kinds of interest in this vehicle lately. Meanwhile, I am remembering that the photo online appeared to have snow on the ground around the vehicle. We haven't had much snow lately in this part of the county. So already, I'm leery of this guy. Once we get out to the van, he opens it and there are lollipop sticks and candy wrappers all over the inside of the vehicle. I don't think they touched since it was traded in, and it definitely doesn't seem that anyone was test driving this vehicle recently. Meanwhile, I am trying to allay my wife's fears about the vehicle. "It should clean up nicely". "Let's just see how it drives." I put the keys in the ignition and turn. Nothing. The salesman tells me to try again. Yeah, that'll work. Even after getting the slowest walking person on the lot to bring out the battery charger out, the vehicle would not run. Mon said "No." when the salesman asked if we could come back that afternoon after they replaced the battery. We put the kids back into the Explorer and left. Why did we make an appointment? Doesn't it seem like a good idea to prep a car when you know someone is coming in to test drive it. I will never buy a car from this dealer.

Kayaking at lake after dinner
To continue SAHD conversation with J.I.
LuLu singing
LuLu wrapping blanket at bedtime
 [Updated 9-22-2004] Four was playing with one of his cousins and pretending to have a camp-out. He came out the living room asking us to "help me get the sleeping bags situated." We are constanty impressed with his (and his sister's) ever-growing vocabulary.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I love Fall!

Tonight I went for a bike ride. I rode even though I am seriously starting to question whether we can finish our (not so) little painting project in time for the party that we're planning to have here. But the Tuesday night ride has become almost like therapy for me. Not quite in the middle of the week, it provides an island of physical outlet. Physical exercise seems to play an important role in my ability to stay sane. Anyway, as a result of the now quickly receding hours of sunlight, as I rolled up the hill to my house in the dark last night. The sight of our house with its outside lights on reminded me of the rich reward of returning to a warm home after a ride in autumn's brisk air.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Two weeks AGAIN?

Two weeks again? I can't believe it. Things have been busy. I just hope I don't fall off the rebeldad blogroll. I really write this drivle for myself and the kids, but it's still fun to be recognized. For the first of the recently missed two weeks, I was still helping my neighbor frame up his addition. With that my mom was here (see previous post) and sleeping in our den/guest room. We've decided to host the neighborhood Beef and Beer event, which means my list of things to do has grown dramatically. The biggest of the items is to address the peeling wallpaper in the living room and foyer. The Sunday before Labor Day, we began removing the wallpaper in our living room, foyer, AND hallway. This had us up 'til about midnight just about every night last week, and we have just only now finished removing all the paper. We still have to wash off the residual glue, sand, and, of course, paint. All of this has dropped blogging to the bottom of a long list of priorities.

It's scary how quickly these kids are growing up. And even scarier how quickly I forget stuff. As I sit here finally prepared to capture all the great things that have happened in these past two weeks, I am drawing blanks. Even today seems a blur. We went to the Brandywine Arts Festival. On the way down, the kids were adorable. Playing with each other and making each other laugh. It was great. At the festival, the kids did remarkably well -- considering there was little for them to do and we stayed way past nap time. One of the reasons we ended up staying so long was that I was hemming and hawing about which piece to buy from a local artist, Joe Jacobs. We had seen his stuff just before lunch, but as we were looking and trying to decide, LuLu fell apart. So we told ourselves we'd come back after lunch. After lunch and a circuitous route which ensured that we checked out some other artists first, we ended up back in Joe's booth. To my chagrin, the piece which had originally drawn us into the booth was gone. As I stood there trying to decide among three others, this women ends up buying the one which had been my new frontrunner. After another agonizingly long period of time, I decided I was just trying to convince myself to buy something, and ended up leaving empty-handed and deflated. All of Joe's pieces were originals not prints, so it would have been really neat to have gotten just that perfect piece. Lesson learned.

After dinner tonight, we went for a bike ride/walk. Four and I were on bikes. LuLu was in the stroller. Mon pushed her. With the exception of a few bits of assistance on only the steepest of the hills, Four made it all the way around the big block. Which reminds me of one of the things previously forgotten. Four pulled out his fixed gear bike which has the training wheels removed. He would ride (coast) about 8-10 feet and tell us he had done it. I went over and helped him steady until he got some speed. Then he was on his own. He rode 30-40 feet all on his own. We repeated this about 20 times. Sometimes going on the sidewalk, sometimes in the yard. We recently had some stumps removed and the trips in the yard became dangerously closer and closer to the holes left by the stumpgrinder. Finally, the inevitable happened. That boy went for it. Not yet four, that boy aimed right for the middle of the hole. The six-inch hole ate up the front 12-inch wheel and the momentum shift sent him head over heels. Mon and I were both very nervous and ran over to console what we were sure would be a shaken, maybe even broken, little boy. Before we got there he popped up, brushed himself off, and said, "That was fun! I'm going to do it again." Somewhat foolishly, we got the video camera out, and encouraged him to ride other places. Nope. He followed through on his plan to do it again. This time the result was not as pretty. Dirt in the teeth. Dirt all over his face. And, this time, crying. I think it'll be a little while before he 'jumps' that hole again. Other than that little mishap, he is doing awesome on the two-wheeler.

That's it for now.