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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

 

Christmas Recovery



Our house looks like a war zone. We're in the post-Christmas recovery period where new toys, games and dolls are allowed to be scattered everywhere as the kids play with them and I figure out where to put them.

What's really bugging me is the packaging that came with this stuff. The cardboard, styrofoam, plastic, and, worst of all, those little killer twist-ties that the toy manufacturers wrap around every loose appendage and part. If I collected all of those, I could make a ball the size of my head just from this Christmas alone. My wife says, "Keep those, we might need them," but I throw them away because the very sight of them makes me crazy. I must've spent at least an hour on Christmas day untwisting things. Then there are all the cardboard boxes, which now fill the back of our van awaiting a trip to the recycling center.

After the New Year's weekend, life gets back to normal. Decorations are put away, lights taken down, all the various holiday doo-dads and knick-knacks go back into hibernation for 11 months. It's always the same for me each year... Come the first of December, I'm so excited to "trim the house" and make it a festive winter wonderland for myself and the kids. But the day after Christmas I'm sick of it... It all looks like clutter to me right now. I want the stockings away from my fireplace, the garland out of my windows, and the $9.95 blow-up snowman off my front lawn! I don't want to drink anymore eggnog, eat candy canes and gingerbread cookies, hear "Jingle Bells" on the radio, or have the UPS man ringing my doorbell every other day.

The Spirit of Christmas has left the building! When's Valentine's Day?!?


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

 

Devo 2.0

Fans of 80's New Wave will be happy to hear that Devo is back! But not really completely back... I don't know about this one. Kids singing Devo songs? Will it end up sounding like Menudo?

My children have never cared much for songs sung by other children. They've enjoyed Ralph's World, The Wiggles, Justin Roberts, and Tom Chapin. And now they're discovering all my old music, especially The Beatles, Split Enz, and XTC. Maybe I'll just make a CD with the original Devo tracks and let them listen to that.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

 

My Son The Informer

The class assignment: Write a letter to Santa.

My son's mission: Rat out the non-believers.



"Triston" and "Zakerey"... You are so busted!


Okay, now I'm really on vacation. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all my fellow dad bloggers. And to everyone else too.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

 

Christmas Wrap



A few Christmas-related links for you:

  • The cardboard box has been inducted into The National Toy Hall of Fame. About time!

  • Here's a recent interview with Peter Billingsley, AKA Ralphie from A Christmas Story.

  • Christmas in China.

  • Holiday humor: Santa Hates Your Kid.

  • George Washington's Christmas Eggnog recipe.

  • Sufjan Stevens - "That Was The Worst Christmas Ever"



    This blog is now on Christmas vacation.

    Enjoy your holidays. See you after the new year!



  • Tuesday, December 20, 2005

     

    Angry Young Man



    Why is my son so angry?

    A. Christmas break starts tomorrow and all the snow is melting today.

    B. He has to wear a big pink bunny suit on Christmas morning.

    C. His daddy is singing Christmas carols in the condiment aisle of the grocery store.

    D. Santa told him that he's all out of Star Wars figures this year, "but maybe you'd like a nice Shrek doll?"

    E. All of the above.



    The answer is C. My son hates it when I sing, especially in public.



    Sunday, December 18, 2005

     

    Give It Away



    I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 1000.

    Leave a comment with your guess. The closest one wins a $10 iTunes Gift Certificate.

    Don't forget to link to your web page or email so I can contact you. Deadline is Tuesday evening.


    Saturday, December 17, 2005

     

    A Girl Runs Through It

    My 4-year-old daughter was running around and around the kitchen island while I was cooking dinner tonight. After the tenth circle, I reached out and grabbed her, lifted her high and asked, "What in the world are you doing?!"

    She replied in an exasperated tone: "I'm exercising... Put me down, you're making me fat!"


    Friday, December 16, 2005

     

    Five Weird Things

    Both Jared and Chip tagged me to list five weird things that my kids do, or have done. So here goes:

    1. My daughter makes nests. She piles things up in the corner of her room, or the middle of the hallway, or behind the couch. Sometimes it will be a free-standing jumble of dolls, other times she'll stash food away under her bed. I'm constantly finding strange little collections of things around the house.

    2. My son will only wear socks with the Nike swoosh on them.

    3. My daughter likes to watch TV upside down.

    4. My son frequently laughs like this: "Yuck yuck yuck!" He must've learned that from some cartoon character. I hope he outgrows it. We are not a hillbilly family, contrary to popular belief.

    5. Every now and then, my daughter will decide she is a Cat For The Day and wants to eat out of bowls on the floor, clean herself by licking her hands, and rub against our legs until we scratch behind her ears. Thank goodness she doesn't want to use the litterbox!


    Thursday, December 15, 2005

     

    Can't Stop The Music



    Shotgun Daddy has a great post about music albums that have changed his life. It got me to thinking about the important soundtracks to the different phases of my life. So, in keeping with Shotgun Daddy's format, here are ten of my "life-changing" albums:

    1. The Banana Splits
    The first album that I can remember owning. I still have it somewhere. There was nothing better than sitting my 5-year-old self down in front of the TV on Saturday morning and watching hour upon hour of mindless entertainment. Fleegle, Drooper, Bingo and Snorky were my favorites. The music was pure bubblegum pop.

    2. An Evening With John Denver
    This was the only cassette tape my mom seemed to own, and we listened to it endlessly in her car. The song "Grandma's Feather Bed" scared me a little bit because I had no idea why all those people were sleeping in the same bed.

    3. The Beatles 1967-1970
    This is where my life got good, musically speaking. I found this on the shelf of my brother's room after my mom took me to see the stage show Beatlemania. This is probably the most important album in my life simply because it opened up a whole new world of music to me. Everything started with The Beatles.

    4. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Soundtrack
    The very first album that I purchased with my own money. I was quite proud of myself, but it didn't take long for me to realize how lame these cover versions were. Except for Steve Martin's take on "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and Earth Wind & Fire's "Got To Get You Into My Life" the songs on here are forgettable. But I'll always remember it as the beginning of a very expensive music habit.

    5. The Knack - Get The Knack
    "My Sharona" was my first experience with a monster radio hit that everyone got excited about. I heard it at summer camp and knew instantly what it meant for a song to have a killer hook.

    6. Elvis Costello - Imperial Bedroom
    This album got me out of my Beatles rut. And it was the soundtrack to the beginning of real life (those years after high school).

    7. R.E.M. - Murmur
    This one got me through college and the suicide of a friend. R.E.M. taught me that music can reflect emotions.

    8. The Proclaimers - "Sunshine On Leith"
    The soundtrack to courting my wife. "When I come home, oh I know I'm gonna be, I'm gonna be the man who comes back home to you. And if I grow old, well I know I'm gonna be, I'm gonna be the man who's growing old with you."

    9. Crowded House - "Woodface"
    This one represents the first part of our marriage, the eight years we had before the kids came along. And it was just so great to have Tim and Neil Finn back together again. "Weather With You" is my idea of the perfect pop song.

    10. XTC - "Apple Venus"
    XTC took seven years to release a new album, and when they finally got back into the studio they created a thing of beauty. My wife and I also waited a long time to create something wonderful. I remember holding my baby son in my arms while listening to the first notes of River of Orchids (which my son now calls "the drip-drop song"). A perfect moment, a perfect album. The soundtrack to the rest of my life.

    Let me know if any of these albums hold special memories for you. It would be nice to see other dad bloggers reminisce about the music in their lives. Thanks Shotgun Daddy!



    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

     

    Don't Mess With Mama

    A woman in Everett, Washington, ripped a would-be thief out of the front seat of her car after he jumped into it at a gas station. In the backseat was her 8-year-old daughter. All I can say is, "You go girl."

    I think I would've gone one step further and stuck the nozzle down his throat and given him a couple bucks worth of free gas.

    Good reminder, though, to not leave your keys in the ignition while filling up your tank.


     

    The Book I Read

    Conversation with my son today as we walked home after school:

    Me: "Did you go to the library today?"
    Him: "Yes, I found a Bailey School Kids book!"
    Me: "Cool. You can read it tonight."
    Him: "No, I already read it."
    Me: "What? When?"
    Him: "Today, during my free time."
    Me: "Exactly how much free time do you have that you could read an 80-page chapter book in one afternoon?"
    Him: "Lots."
    Me: "And what is the teacher doing during all this free time?"
    Him: "Making sure we're quiet."
    Me: "Uh-huh, are you sure she's not doing her nails or taking a nap or something?"
    Him: "No, she helps the kids who need help, and the rest of us have free time."

    Other than recess, I'm not sure what advantages public school holds for my kids. He can have "free time" at home and probably learn more on his own than being limited by the resources of the classroom. We're still having the home-school debate with ourselves. This spring and summer will be decision-making time.



    Sunday, December 11, 2005

     

    Kid Picks Christmas Mix



    My son put together a Christmas mix CD and wanted me to share it with you. So, here's your kid-tested, father-approved, family-friendly 2005 Christmas mix:

    By the way, that's me in the photo trying to untangle Christmas lights. Every year, no matter how carefully I put them away, these lights make a mess of themselves in the storage box. There must be some scientific explanation for this phenomenon.



    Saturday, December 10, 2005

     

    In Your Eyes

    Here's an amazing story from my local paper about a boy whose life was saved by a family friend who noticed a tiny detail in a photograph. A real Christmas miracle! Amazing what can happen if we pay attention to each other and speak up when there's cause for concern.


     

    Do You Believe?

    In my post below, I worried about continuing to tell my kids that Santa Claus is real while at the same time teaching them the importance of telling the truth. Does that make me a hypocrite, or is it important for children to believe in myths and magic?

    Well, tonight we sat down to watch the 1994 film version of Miracle on 34th Street (I really like Richard Attenborough as Santa) and I was struck by this quote from the movie, as spoken by Attenborough:

    I'm not just a whimsical figure who wears a charming suit and affects a jolly demeanor. You know, I'm a symbol. I'm a symbol Of the human ability to be able to suppress the selfish and hateful tendencies that rule the major part of our lives. If you can't believe, if you can't accept anything on faith, then you're doomed for a life dominated by doubt.


    I'm going to let my kids believe in a few myths and fantasies for as long as they want. Hopefully they'll carry a few of those beliefs through to adulthood and never completely lose their childhood sense of imagination and wonder.


    Friday, December 09, 2005

     

    Seeing Santa



    This is the first year that my daughter is looking forward to going to see Santa. Before she was quite wary of the whole business, but now she's actually getting excited about telling him what she wants. I guess I need to go check out the Santa at the mall to see if he's a good one. There's nothing worse than some sad-looking Santa with yellow teeth and a bad fake beard.

    I'm slightly conflicted about the whole thing, though. Here I preach to my kids about telling lies and then what do we do each Christmas but make up an elaborate story about a "jolly old elf" who sneaks into people's homes at night. My son even came home from school one day last week to announce that "Caleb and Zachary don't believe in Santa Claus. They said he's just your mom and dad leaving presents." I'm not ready to ruin my son's fun, so I told him that his school friends are just trying to fool him and make him feel bad... That Santa has a magic that those kids are having trouble understanding.

    Personally, I can't remember my own transition from believing in Santa to realizing it was just my mom eating the cookies we put out on Christmas Eve. I certainly did not have any kind of sudden traumatic awakening. It must be that way for most children. We've prepared our kids with the knowledge that Christmas is not just about getting gifts from Santa. There are feelings of magic, love, charity, forgiveness, and joy that seem stronger now than at any other time of the year. I think it's a good wake-up call for us all to count our blessings and remember what's important in life, and if that notice is served to you through Santa Claus, nativity scenes, a mennorah, candy canes, blinking lights, or whatever, then great!


    Thursday, December 08, 2005

     

    It Was 25 Years Ago Today



     

    Wake Up Call

    Early this morning I heard my son sneaking into my room and I immediately called out from under the covers, "Good morning!"

    He replied, "Ahh, I was going to say that! How did you know?"

    I told him, "You're my son. We have a mental connection."

    "Oh, then what am I thinking right now?"

    I guessed what he always has on his mind in the morning, "You want me to get up and fix you some breakfast."

    His priceless reply: "No, I'm thinking how much I love my daddy."


    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

     

    What Not To Buy

    This time of year I always see dozens of lists of the best toys and games for kids, but here's a doctor advising what not to buy.

    His list is mostly common sense. At least to me. Sometimes I forget how many parents out there lack any semblance of common sense.

    I'll add a few more things to the list of what not to buy my kids for Christmas... I do not want to find these things under my tree. You hear me, Santa?!

    • Any toy that chirps, beeps, whistles, or clangs.
    • Crafts that I have to put together.
    • Anything that pees or drools.
    • McDonald's gift certificates.
    • Stuffed animals (enough already!).
    • Another version of Monopoly (we already have Scooby-Doo, The Simpsons, and Star Wars).
    • Any toy or game that has over 57 tiny plastic parts.
    • Socks.
    • Candy (they still have two pounds of the stuff from Halloween).
    • The very creepy Alive! Chimpanzee.
    • Hand-held video player.
    • Anything that has the word brat, weiner, or Pokemon in the title.


    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

     

    Zero Boss Hangs It Up

    I'm surprised to see that The Zero Boss is closing down his web site. To me he was always one of the "cool kids" to my nerdy outsider. I'd observe from afar, knowing I'd never be "in" with that crowd. But that didn't stop me from enjoying his writing. Thankfully, Jay will still be posting on Blogging Baby, a group blog that I've learned to appreciate more and more in the last few months.

    Speaking of group blogs, I've been invited to join a new one called DadBloggers. Check out that stunning photo in the header! This should be fun, for myself and the other dads involved. But as Jay cautioned as he closed down his Zero Boss blog, it's important to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. Blogging can quickly turn into a real time hog if you let it.


    Monday, December 05, 2005

     

    My Friend Flickr

    I'm really slow to discover the hot new technologies and web sites, like iPod, blogging and Google Earth. Eventually I got around to them...

    Most recently I've been knocked out by Flickr, the photo management and sharing community, which makes it incredibly easy to upload and organize digital photos. Click here to take a look at some of my pictures.


    Saturday, December 03, 2005

     

    Clap Hands For Christmas Music

    Jeff hates Christmas music... So this is for him:

    The Wiggles - "Let's Clap Hands For Santa Claus" MP3

    How can you not love hand claps? Hopefully this song will firmly imbed itself in your psyche and you will soon be skipping around with an eggnog in one hand and a candy cane in the other spreading Christmas cheer to every corner of Delaware!

    Buy Wiggles Christmas CDs here.


    Thursday, December 01, 2005

     

    Daddy Don't Throw That Away!

    I hit a slight snag in my week-long attempt to clean up the clutter around our house. The snag is my son, who is quickly becoming a champion packrat and is having trouble parting with any of his belongings.

    Not content with his own collections, he wants to keep mine intact as well. As I've been weeding through my stuff, he's right there to encourage me, "Daddy don't throw that away! That's special. You have to keep it!"

    When we moved into our new home we were finally able to open boxes that had been stored for years. It was like Christmas morning each day, discovering things that we'd forgotten about. But there are some real head-scratcher items in there. Maybe they had meaning to me at one point, but now much of it's just trivial clutter.

    My son doesn't see it that way. Each item that comes out of a box is an "amazing" and "wonderful" treasure to him. It's fun to finally have a visitor to The Museum of Phil, but I can't save everything. There's just not enough space, and the clutter is ultimately kind of depressing.

    So, I need a little help from the blogosphere... Here's the first of many knick-knacks and souvenirs that I have piled up in a corner, awaiting their fate:

    An official Gallagher brimless "2 Backs" Cap, autographed by the watermelon man himself (yes, I got splattered in 1997). I already know what my son thinks, but what would you do?

    Keep it, or toss it?