Playing One Against the Other

As a non-parent, you hear stories about kids playing one against the other. It’s kind of funny to hear. Until it happens to you.

And this really isn’t a true case of that, but it shows how Aidan can think a situation through for his benefit.

It also shows how something can come up that Renee and I haven’t talked about, because, really, it’s not a big deal.

Here’s the scenario:

This morning, as I was preparing to get the kids in the car, I got a handful of Teddy Grahams for him to have in the car. On the side of the box, they show pictures of the other available flavors of Teddy Grahams.

“Look at all these flavors, Daddy,” he said.

“Mmm. What’s your favorite?,” I ask.

“Chocolate. But Mom says we can’t have those.”

Pause.

“But maybe next time you can go to Super Stop & Shop and get them.”

And, he did emphasize the you. He clearly had a mission.

“Well, bud, if Mom said no, then we’ll stick with the regular kind.”

“Ok, Dad.”

What else? I got nothin’.


Life As We Know It…

…is over.

Why?

Erin is crawling.

This is fabulous. This is wonderful. This is great stuff. This is what being a parent is all about — watching your child try so hard to do something and then — boom — one day, he/she is doing it.

So why is life as we know it over?

Well, let’s see.

We have to re-kid proof the house. As Aidan got older, we didn’t take the same precautions with some things that we did when he was smaller. And, for the last eight months, we didn’t have to worry about Erin getting anywhere. Now, of course, we do.

But, it’s not just where she’s getting — it’s what she’s doing when she’s there.

And, what’s been amazing to watch is that as soon as she could crawl, she lost all interest in her toys.

She only cares now about getting across the room to where her brother’s things are. And, well, let’s just say he’s not as happy about this crawling thing as we are. Now he’s got someone interested in his territory and in his stuff!

This is an easy way to discover what kind of temper your child really has. And, let me tell you, sweet little Aidan? Yeah, he can bring it.

I didn’t know that sharing was going to be the hardest thing for us to deal with as parents. But, I’ve got to tell you, so far, that’s what it is. I’d rather be having the sex, drugs and alcohol talk right now than doing some of this sharing thing.

It’s soooo hard. I can imagine what it’s like for him. But here’s the way this game is played, he can’t imagine what it’s like for Erin (or for Renee and me, for that matter).

The strange part is, there are moments when he completely gets it and it’s not an issue. But, those are rare. Mostly, he doesn’t want her near her stuff, and he’ll literally drop on the floor and spread his body across a pile of blocks he doesn’t want her to play with.

He used to say that he “wasn’t going to share until he was 10.”

He’s changed his tune — and not for the better.

Now, he says, “I’m not sharing until I’m a thousand.”

And, us? We’re scratching our heads, counting to 10 and being as patient/caring/supportive/nurturing/strong as we possibly can — at least for another 997 years.

What else? I got nothin’.


Emptying a Cluttered Mind…

So, Hershey’s is going all out in the variety of their legendary Kisses. The always popular basic Kiss now has some company: dark chocolate, cherry, caramel, orange cream and almonds. Why can’t we just love the basic Kiss? Why do we need these flavors? It’s like the entire M&M craze, which I don’t support either, for the record. How about it? Are you with me on keeping just the basic Kiss or are you a new flavor lover?

You’ve heard about the beef recall, right? Something 140 million pounds of beef had to be recalled. Here’s my question. Where does it go once it’s recalled? Inquiring minds want to know.

Yup, Erin is crawling. It happened officially this weekend. It’s an amazing thing to watch. But, the downside? Do you think Aidan is ready to share his toys? Um, no. “I’ll share with her when I’m a thousand, Daddy.” I’ve never counted to 10 so much as I did this weekend.

On a bright note, Aidan and I did go sledding at the local (very hilly) golf course. It was his first real time. We had a blast.

Some upcoming concerts for me: Bon Jovi (of course!) and Billy Joel.

I had a rough Forty by Forty weekend — but I’ll blame it on Renee’s birthday.

What’s going to be really tough for Forty by Forty is not stopping for a Shamrock Shake every other day. I can’t eliminate them…but I can’t have three or four a week, either.

Tell me you are watching Rock of Love 2? If you are not, you must. You simply must.

Two signs I knew that Forty by Forty is working: when I got my haircut recently, my hairdresser (yes, I go to a woman) put the thing around my neck and I was like, “Kelly, did you get bigger ones (um, yeah, that’s not sounding how I mean it, but you know what I mean….)? She hadn’t. So, I’ve actually lost weight in my neck. And, apparently in my fingers a bit, too, because my rings even feel a tad looser.

Again, if it snows, you are required to clear said snow off your car. Including your roof. Ugh, I hate that. Hate it!

I mentioned I’m going to seen Bon Jovi, right?! 🙂

Not only am I watching, but I am loving, Lipstick Jungle.

Hillary still has my support.

I think that’s it.

What else? I got nothin’.


She…

My wife’s birthday is Saturday. Here are 38 reasons I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

She…

1. …is beautiful.
2. …is the best Mom to Aidan and Erin.
3. …never complains, at least to me, if I make her crazy (and I’m sure I have). 
4. …makes the best chocolate chip cookies.
5. …is very simple — in all the right ways.
6. …is the most unaffected person I know (and this is a good thing).
7. …handles our checkbook.
8. …makes me laugh.
9. …makes me smile.
10. …makes me proud to be her husband.
11. …was my friend first.
12. …gets it.
13. …is the math teacher you want your kids to have.
14. …is commited to things she gets involved in.
15. …can be surprisingly creative.
16. …knows when I’m in a funk and let’s me get through it in my own way.
17. …makes awesome zesty rice lasagna.
18. …likes to watch sports with me.
19. …has learned to deal with my procrastination.
20. …has an incredible way with Aidan and Erin.
21. …went through more than anyone should go through when trying to have kids.
22. …likes Bon Jovi almost as much as I do.
23. …recently entered me for a gym membership in a radio contest for my Forty by Forty campaign.
24. …is the best navigator when we go on trips.
25. …looks better now than before she was pregnant either time.
26. …loves to cook and bake.
27. …is organized enough for the both of us!
28. …will get up early to let me sleep in a bit.
29. …is smarter than she believes.
30. …doesn’t say anything if I leave clothes or shoes lying around.
31. …is, and has always been, a genuinely good person.
32. …looks great with little to no make-up.
33. …has made her parents incredibly proud.
34. …is strong under pressure.
35. …is adventurous.
36. …is a great kisser.
37. …was “it” the first time we met (and I think we both sort of knew that).
38. …married me!

Happy Birthday, Renee. Love you.


Remembering The Station Fire

I wasn’t there. Yet I still feel somewhat connected.

So much that I’ve spent more than a few hours yesterday and today reading stories, looking at pictures, watching video, reading court proceedings.

But this is not about me. At all. Not one little bit. Nor is this an attempt to make it anything about me. Might I have been there? Possibly. It’s certainly something I would go to in the past. Did I have the chance at tickets? I sure did. But, that isn’t the point.

Nor is the point about blame. There is plenty of it to go around. That’s for sure. But, that debate is and has been for the courts.

No.

This is about what happened five years ago, February 20, 2003, and how it has affected hundreds of lives.

It killed 100 people.

It injured nearly twice that many.

It left 64 kids without one or both parents.

It was a tragedy that didn’t need to happen. Yet, it did.

IT is the Station Fire, a blaze that was started when pyrotechnics set off by the 1980s band Great White ignited the inside of the small club in West Warwick, RI, where it was playing — named The Station.

I live less than an hour from the club. This was national news. Still is. And if you are unaware of it, please, check out the links below. If you don’t know about this story, you should. And, if you do know about this story, you should know more.

Read the survival stories. See the frustration. The hope. The anger. The sadness. The perseverance.

Look at the pictures. Be amazed at how fast this happened and how small the club was. There were at least 462 people in the club that night.

I was actually on the radio the morning after. I was part of a local morning show and we heard the news that morning about a fire overnight at a club. The news reports started with a death toll of about 18. Forty five minutes later it was in the 20s. Then it was over 30. Not to long after that, it was more than 50.

And it kept growing. To a number that is almost unbelievable. Think of it. One in four people didn’t make it out. And of those that did, they are literally scarred for life.

I’ve been to the site. Had to. Can’t explain it any other way. It’s in an area with a number of stores, and when Renee and I were up there shopping, I had to stop. I didn’t know anyone. But that didn’t stop me from having to see it. I can’t explain why. I just did. And I feel like going back there again.

What amazed me is how small it was. It’s an empty lot now with makeshift memorials all over, honoring those that were there last night. Those that didn’t get out. But the size of the lot is almost unimaginable that there was a club there. That many bands — once filling up arenas — were playing here. In this parking lot.

There are plans for a memorial to be built there. And it should be. And the plans are gorgeous — including a harp with 100 strings that will play music every time the wind blows through it.

This was one of the largest fire casualties in history. And it was in a place that is like many places we all have been. Small. Cramped. Yet, in a way, fun to be in.

I’m rambling now. I’m not really sure what to say. I just know that you should know about this — if you don’t already. And know that around here, this is a big deal. There are stories regularly. And anniversaries mean more stories. And these are stories that need to be told.

Because, in this instance, the story should not go away.

For more information:

Coverage from the Providence Journal

Station Fire Memorial Foundation
Wikipedia Information


Another Aidanism

So we’re driving this morning. There’s a skunk in the road.

“What happened to that skunk, daddy?”

“I think he’s dead, bud.”

“Well, when will he be alive again?”

“Maybe when he gets to skunk heaven.”

“And then will he be skunk cabbage?”

(Speechless.)


Words to Laugh By

So while Erin still fights off her case of bronchitis, Aidan has almost kicked his, which he’s had for a week.

But, today was a big day. It was dentist day. His second official appointment. I stayed home with (a very cranky) Erin while Renee took Aidan. He did very well, which is always a good thing. And, he came home with stickers, a toothbrush and a super ball — you know, one of those small, crazy bounce-all-over-the-place balls.

So, as he’s bouncing the ball in the living room (I know, I know….), I mention to him that I wonder if we could get the ball to sing. (Note: I have no idea why I said this, but go with me for a minute.)

“You know, bud, we could get the ball to sing like the rocks.”

“Rocks don’t sing, daddy.”

“They do in the Dora song. You know, …boingy, boingy, boingy bing we get these rocks to sing….”

(Note: yup, that’s a real line from a Dora song.)

“Dad, rocks don’t sing in our world.”

You can’t make this stuff up. But wait, there’s more.

“Aidan.”

“Yes, dad.”

“Well, if we can’t get the ball to sing. Maybe it could just talk.”

“No,” he said. “Balls just bounce.”

Insert about 20 seconds of silence before he says:

“But balls do talk in Elmo’s world.”

Ah. That’s my boy.


Valentine’s Day Massacre

Alternate title:

Or, Forty by Forty might still be alright if I can just make it through this day!

So, yeah, Happy Valentine’s Day. Will you be mine? I have one, of course, but you know, just for fun.

And, I know there are days when you splurge. Well, hi, today is one of those days. It started off quite fine with my typical breakfast.

Then, I ended up going to lunch here for a meeting. Yummy smoked chicken wrap. I did well with that, especially avoiding the clam chowder that smelled unbelievably good. But, can I help it if I indulged in the ginger mousse?

Nope, I can’t.

The ginger mousse wouldn’t have been so bad if two other things had not happened. Namely, the new Molly (whose name, coincidentally is Erin) hadn’t brought in brownie bars. Had to have one of those.

And, Anna, sweet little Anna, who knows how hard I’m trying. What does she do? Well, she sends in chocolate chip cookies with pink, red and white M&Ms in them.

So, yeah, Forty by Forty. Today, you rest.

Thank you all for your well wishes for Aidan. I think we’ve succeeded in getting him on the mend. The problem though? Now Erin’s coughing. Ugh.

So, will you be my Valentine?


He’s Too Young for This

So, there’s probably going to be a time when I’m going to enjoy my son’s suffering through the dry heaves. You know, almost like a right of passage. Bent over, head in the toilet, wondering how it got to be that bad.

But, at 3 years, 8 months, that time is not now.

Yup, Aidan is sick. Again.

Not just sick. Bronchitis. Again.

For those of you scoring at home (or even if you’re alone — don’t you love that joke? thanks Keith Olbermann), this is bout number three between Aidan and bronchitis.

He started with a little cough the other day, so we started with some robitussin. But that didn’t work. It got progressively worse, so Renee took him to the doctor yesterday. Yup, bronchitis.

So, now he’s on two meds to try and kick it, but the ironic part is that it always gets worse before it gets better. And there’s always one bad night — which was last night.

He actually had a normal night going, the occasional coughs not waking him up — until about 12:30, when he had his first bout of the heaves and needed mom to help settle him down. Of course, Erin woke up, so I was with her (after getting a cool pop for Aidan).

I fell asleep with her and then put her back in. Renee had taken Aidan down to watch some TV and he tired out, falling back asleep shortly after 2, before waking up again and needing her around 3.

Both up at 5, but him only for a bit. Renee decided to stay home with him, but needed to go to school for sub plans. I fed Erin, we both fell asleep for a bit. He stayed asleep until she got home, at which point bout number two of heaves set in — which led to another cool pop.

His color is gone, and he’s running a temp, but he’s still got some of the funny in him. I was carrying him down the stairs, and I made a comment to him about how I wouldn’t be doing that much longer because he was so big and so tall that even his feet were barely touching the floor — a slight exaggeration.

“Of course, they aren’t quite yet, Dad,” he said.

“Of course, bud. Not yet.”

So, after getting ready and packing up Erin, she and I left the house, leaving Aidan with mom for a special day full of popsicles, trains and a movie.

And hopefully the next bout of dry heaves is one that I can laugh about with him.


Pretty Fly for a White Guy

So, when you’re a married-with-children 38-year-old male, you love hearing the following:

“You’re mackin’ it.”

Even if you don’t know what it means. And, even as you write this, you don’t know if you spelled it right.

But, yes, for two hours yesterday, I was mackin’ it.

At least that’s what Molly and Clink told me.

“If I am, in fact, mackin’ it,” I said, “what does it mean?”

“You’re one guy here with two women,” Molly said.

Yes, indeed, I thought. I am mackin’ it.

You see, by nature of the fact that I might just be the coolest married-with-children 38-year-old, I had the pleasure of being a (very small) part of what’s known around here as …. hmmm…. creative juices don’t fail me now…let’s see:

Clolly — nope.

Mollink — nope.

These Little Heights — nope.

Such Great Moments — Bingo! Such Great Moments.

Or, the weekend Molly and Clink met.

As you probably know, since a lot of you read them, they were meeting for the first time. I had the chance to meet Clink briefly and assured them both that this would be something incredible.

And, apparently, it was. I won’t tell any more of my part of the story, because I’m sure there will be great stories told by both of them.

But, when I arrived for lunch, they were seated at the far end of the restaurant. I saw them both for an instant before Clink spotted me, and I have to tell you, they looked like two friends who had known each other forever. And, when I joined them, it felt like three old friends. It was just a really great time featuring nachos, lobster mac and cheese, shrimp pizza, a reuben and the most horrible waiter known to man.

And, during dinner is when I popped my surprise — a note from PB & Razz wishing a happy weekend filled with ‘yummy love from Chicago.’

If you’ve read PB & Razz, you no doubt know about her Chocolate Yummy recipe she raves about. Well, I subtly dropped a hint a month or so ago about how great it would be to have some for this occasion. And, didn’t she come through?! She sure did. It was an effort appreciated by the three of us.

And, let me just say, there couldn’t be a more aptly named dessert than Chocolate Yummy.

So, we shared a lot of laughs and had a great lunch. And then, this 38-year-old was on his way home while the two twenty somethings were off to do girl stuff — whatever that is.

But while they were doing whatever it is they were doing, I could be assured of one thing. For two hours on Saturday, I was mackin’ it.