Monthly Archives: June 2014

Date night?

My dad asked me the other day if I has been doing any theatre. I told him I didn’t have the time. I haven’t been on a stage in over two years, but that’s another blog post for another time. He then asked if Lisa and I had gone to the theatre recently. I gave him the standard answer, saying we don’t do anything. This is the same response when I get asked if we tried “such and such” restaurant or seen “such and such” movie. Pretty much anything that involves my wife and I going out and spending money.

We don’t do anything.

There are a few reasons. The primary is that we have two small children. They take up 90% of any spare time and energy we have. I have no problem taking Phoebe and Zoe out with me, so don’t give me any shit about needing to socialize my kids. But as any parent knows, taking them out is a process. It involves prep time, the packing of emergency outfits and snacks, and being mindful of how tired they are. When we take the girls anyplace, it’s not time off. I’m still in daddy mode and Lisa is still wearing the mommy hat. We have a limited pool of babysitters, which mainly consists of  Lisa’s mom and the occasional weekend the kids visit my parents. I’ve tried to convince the cat to do it, but Pepper is mostly terrified of the kids. Also, she has no thumbs. Kind of limits what she can do.

Another reason is that Lisa and I are on different schedules. I recently started a job where I work second shift. Lisa and I now have one day off a week together. This is actually an improvement. My last job was a flexible schedule which made it impossible to plan anything. The point is that date night is limited to Sunday and Monday evenings. Monday is one of the days that Lisa works so it’s rare she feels like doing anything after she gets home.  We’ve allowed ourselves an occasional Sunday as a game night with a few friends, but we won’t always have child care for that either. There will be times when I’m trying to roll dice with Zoe in one arm and wrangling Phoebe, who is trying to get everyone to look  at her.

The third reason is one of the suckiest. Like many people, we are on a tight budget. We lost one home and I have no interest in losing another. What would be extra money is basically how we pay for internet and TV. There was a time when Lisa and I would go out to dinner a few times a month or see a few movies. We would go see friends in whatever play they were doing. Now it’s pretty much impossible to bring up going out to dinner anywhere without it turning into an argument about spending money. Not to mention that if it’s anyone but the grandparents, we have to consider how much we can spend on a theoretical babysitter.

We don’t do anything. The spare time we have is spent with our kids, doing housework, or sitting on the couch trying to stay awake long enough to maybe watch a show we both like.

Date night is a filthy lie.

The inner badger

Sometimes I hold Zoe and she cuddles up to me with her thumb in her mouth. Sometimes I’m sitting on the couch and Phoebe will climb up next to me and just lean against me. Moments like these, besides prompting my wife to get out the camera, make me think that the girls look at me like I am the safest thing in the world. Daddy will protect them from everything.

Aw, crap! I know the reality.

There are lots of things that I just can’t protect them from. Truthfully, there are things I shouldn’t protect them from even though I want to. They will need to be disappointed, have their feelings hurt, and things that will break my heart to see but I know are just a part of growing up.

This post is mainly about the other stuff. The things or people out there that want to truly injure them, scar them, or take things away from them that they shouldn’t lose. Zoe’s sweetness. Phoebe’s friendliness. The innocence that will leave them eventually but should happen in it’s own time.

To anyone/anything that even thinks about hurting that, I am about to do something that is very un-beta male. I am about to make a threat.

Stay away from my girls. I will hurt you.

I hear the chuckles from the peanut gallery right now and it isn’t unexpected. I’m not a threatening or scary guy. I don’t get mad very easily. No one is really afraid of poking the bear when it comes to me. Which is fine. Honestly, the only bear I probably have anything in common with is Winnie-the-Pooh.

It’s the inner badger you should worry about.

Let me tell you about badgers. They are short and kind of stocky. They are very unassuming. They are kind of cute. They are the symbol of Hufflepuff at Hogwarts. And if anything attacks them or their families they get very, very nasty.

Go on youtube. Look for the videos of badger vs. grizzly bear or badger vs. two coyotes. The badger takes them on and doesn’t back down. That is me. Don’t hurt my kids. Hell, don’t hurt my wife. She doesn’t need me to stick up for her but that doesn’t mean I won’t. Don’t go after my family. I will protect them. I will throw my whole short, chubby little body at you. I will fight dirty. And I will fight to hurt. Not kill. I don’t want to kill. If something tries to hurt my girls, I want it to still be around at the end to realize that this little hobbit of a man took a chunk of it’s skin out with his teeth. Did I mention on Pottermore, I got sorted into Hufflepuff? I’m actually proud of that.

Don’t poke the badger.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play puzzles with Phoebe.

The Perils of Dolly

Once again, my toddler came to me asking, “Where is Dolly?”

Phoebe doesn’t have a lot of what you might call lovies. She has a little seahorse that plays music and glows which she calls Mewskeet (though sometimes she actually says Music), who she sleeps with. She also has Dolly, which is just this little doll she’s had since she was an infant. She drags that thing all over the place when she’s home. Lisa and I don’t really let her take when we go out for fear that it gets left somewhere. I’ve never seen the doll somewhere else so replacing it may be impossible.

What happens, often due to Phoebe’s hummingbird level attention span, is that she will get distracted and put Dolly down somewhere. She will eventually realize what happened and the “Where is Dolly” will begin. Sometimes it’s as easy as pointing to the floor a few feet away. Again, she’s 3. Hummingbird attention span, remember?

There are other times when we actually have to search. Most recently, Dolly had been left in the bedroom and had fallen under the bed. Baby Zoe had, of course, just been put down to nap after a morning of super cranks. So it was up to me to sneak in and look around Phoebe’s bed as quietly as possible, for fear of waking the monster that is a teething Zoe. Luckily, the doll was found, the baby stayed asleep, and Phoebe scampered off contented.

Dolly has been shoved into corners. Dolly has been found in the hands of the baby. Dolly had to be thrown in the washing machine because she got so dirty and we were afraid Phoebe would freak out. She didn’t. She was actually amused that Dolly needed a bath.

I have zero problem with Phoebe being attached to this doll. We all have our metaphorical security blankets, even as adults. Again, my fear is of the day that Dolly really does vanish. Will it ever come? How will we cope? What if Dolly gets damaged  beyond repair?

The suspense may drive me mad. Mad, I say!

The call of the game

My wife and I, for those who don’t already know, are of the kind of people who were immortalized in Weird Al’s “White & Nerdy.” It should be no surprise then that Lisa and I have been talking about re-introducing D&D into our lives. This would be Dungeons and Dragons for the unacquainted. Not Dunkin’ Donuts, which has never really been absent from our lives.

Lisa came to D&D gaming late in life, post-college through the invitation of Frank, a friend and coworker. He was going to be the DM (Dungeon Master) and was putting a new campaign together. This ended up being my reintroduction. I had first played with some cousins who were very casual about it. I then played with a few friends in high school who were VERY fast and loose with the rules. When I was a freshmen in college, I briefly participated in a short-lived game there. Fast forward about ten years later. Lisa and I are suddenly gaming with people who actually know what there doing. It’s a little daunting and we are learning (or relearning) as we go. Still, I found myself really looking forward to it. I should mention that I wasn’t very good. I did a decent job with the role-playing when I created characters I could get into. It was the “roll playing”, or the throwing the dice and having to do math, that always slowed me down a bit.

We played with the guys for a few years and then the games stopped, due to people moving and just the increased difficulty of keeping the campaign running. By this point, Lisa and I had started playing two other games. We were in another D&D game and a White Wolf “World of Darkness” campaign, which our friend Paul/Beatle ran for us. World of Darkness is also a lot of fun (this is the system that spawned Vampire: the Masquerade and Werewolf: the Apocalypse) and Beatle is a great storyteller. Alas, the new D&D game fizzled out and moving put an end to the White Wolf game. To be blunt, I really miss it.

Now we have a couple friends who have expressed interest in giving D&D a try. Lisa has been talking about learning to be a DM, which I think she would be very good at. Of course, we have children now and we need to figure out how to balance that into the equation. I’m hoping this works out because I’ve realized how important this became to my life. First, it’s a great social activity. Second, I enjoy the stories that develop. A big thanks to both Frank and Beatle for building some wonderful stories and bringing gaming back to my world. I can only hope that as Phoebe and Zoe get older, they will be the type of girls who have their mother’s “lady nerd” gene. Maybe a family campaign is in the future?

We need to break out the dice. The game is afoot.

The little guy

It has been brought to my attention numerous times, usually by people who like having a “state the obvious contest,” that I’m not a tall man. This is true. I’m 5′ 7″ on a good day. Not as short as I could be, but in a country where a lot of men seem to be closer to the six feet mark it’s short enough. Even my own three-year-old recently referred to me as a little guy (which was, admittedly, pretty funny) and she is only about hip high.

Honestly, I’m fine with it. My 5’6″ wife didn’t wear heels at our wedding because she didn’t want to tower over me. She was also afraid of tripping, but that happened anyway when we danced. I am constantly compared to a hobbit and a Muppet, which is cool because I like those things.

What can get frustrating is that every so often, you run into someone who looks at it as a character flaw. There are people who obviously think that men who aren’t tall are inferior, weak, or stupid. If you try to be assertive, you get accused of having the dreaded Napoleon complex. It also sucks when someone who is taller than you tries to use this to intimidate you. Because we are apparently all cave people, and being the biggest and strongest is the end of it all. Oh wait, it’s not.

I like not feeling cramped in my car. There have been plenty of times where not being a tall guy has been in my favor. I rarely have an issue finding clothes in my size.  Most importantly, my wife has no issue with it. She loves me as is, hobbit legs and all.

If you are one of those people who think of me as “the little guy,” that’s fine. My daughter followed up her observation by exclaiming that she loved the little guy. That’s the best endorsement I can get.

Precious air-conditioning

I don’t like hot weather.

We are approaching summer with each passing week. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some things about summer that I enjoy. There is an increase in places to get ice cream, for one. Also, many women decide to put cleavage on display that would have been hidden in winter. Sorry if that offends anyone. I do try to be very respectful of women, especially since I have two daughters, but damn it I’m still allowed to like boobs!

I digress. My primary issue is that summer means hotter weather, and I don’t do well with heat. I never have. I get hot very easily and very quickly. I think I may have some walrus or polar bear DNA somewhere in me. So as we get closer into the summer months, I become increasingly sweaty and disgusting. Throw in the humidity that comes with living in New England and I’m basically Soggy Man. You know who wants to hang out with Soggy Man? No one!

Yeah, the ridiculously cold dead of winter is pretty bad itself. My favorite time of year is actually fall. But the thing is I can always throw more layers on or more blankets. I can only get so naked in the summer until it eventually stops helping. And I can’t really do that in public, since Soggy Man is only trumped by Naked Soggy Man.

This is why if given a choice, I spend many summer days inside with air-conditioning cranked up as much as I can. It is glorious. I feel rejuvenated. My toddler watches FROZEN and I keep thinking how much I want ice powers. Man, that would be awesome.

The problem is that I can’t realistically stay in my cool cocoon. I have to make sure the AC is cranked so high that the electric bill is higher than my mortgage. Also, Phoebe likes to play outside. I would be a very bad daddy if I kept her inside because I don’t like being sweaty. So I understand that there will be a lot of days where I’m watching Phoebe run around the yard, wishing for an arctic exosuit.

Sweet, sweet air-conditioning. I will enjoy our time together as much as I can.

Alarms are for chumps

Once, in a time long forgotten, I would set my alarm clock every night. I like to make sure that I have enough time in the morning to get certain things done. I need to shower, get dressed, maybe eat something, maybe shave, maybe use the computer, and almost definitely poop. I should probably point out that the last one there can be time consuming.

These days I find myself almost never using the alarm. I have unwillingly transcended to another level of being woken up. This is the doing of three individuals whom I will list here:

Zoe – The ten-month-old. The most frequent culprit. She is beautiful and sweet one moment, then suddenly a human air raid siren. This happens throughout the day but is most jarring at 5 am. Currently, she sits next to me and her mommy shoving Cheerios into her mouth and is very excited about it.

Phoebe – The three-year-old. She is what happens when a Disney princess meets Godzilla. Phoebe is almost always up with the sun. She will then begin talking to herself very loudly or singing (also loudly) until one of us parent things shows up. She then leaps from her toddler bed and runs to the playroom. The loudness continues. Sometimes there is a crashing sound. Did I mention she laughs like a super-villain? Yeah, that happens too.

Pepper – The cat. The neurotic, not to bright, Prozac-prescribed floof ball that clearly thinks she is in charge. If by some miracle the children don’t get me up in the morning, Pepper will find a way. Maybe it will be coughing up a hairball. Maybe she will climb over Lisa (the previously mentioned wife and mommy) and perch on my stomach, purring loudly and pressing all her weight on me. Maybe she’ll just get right in my face until I wake up to blue eyes and whiskers telepathically saying, “Are you up yet? How about now? Now? Oh good, you’re up. Feed me.”

The plus side is that unless I have to be in work very early, I have plenty of time to do everything. The negative is that for a good 20 to 30 minutes I’m in a state of shocked auto-pilot which, on one occasion, had me putting apple juice in my coffee.

Alarms? We don’t need no stinkin’ alarms!