Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Games People Play

I love board games. I realize that statement dates me but I don't care. When I grew up family parties were always punctuated by a rousing game of Risk, Monopoly or Scrabble. Those were the big three and they were character building affairs. The older family members took no pity on the kids. It was sink or swim - if you couldn't hold Asia it was your problem. If you were too naive to realize that buying Connecticut Ave. was a waste of time...tough luck. Perhaps other families would find it cute if a 7 year old tried to put down "RRRRR" as a word. Not mine.  We don't suffer fools.

"RRRRR is not a word Joey, it's an exclamation." Oh, I just thought I have a boat load of R's and I need to unload them. Back to the drawing board. Is that hourglass thingy moving faster for me than it did for Dad?

It's with that background that I share the following milestone: Tonight my son and I played our first complete game of Scrabble together. I have dreamed of this day. He was actually very excited - although I'm not sure if he was more excited about playing the game or the fact that he got to stay up late with the old man. Nonetheless, he held his own. I dialed down my competitiveness and sat back and watched how he would fare. He did great (even though I totally dominated). He even put together some combo words - horizontally and vertically. He did his father proud. I look forward to our battles/bonding for years to come.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Eelectric Company

Screw you wind and sun. We don't need windmills and solar power because my son has come up with the most alternate of all alternate fuels - Eel power. I love how 7 year-olds think totally outside the box.

The idea is this:  get a lot of eels (which there are I believe). Next, run electrodes into the eel-infested water, hook them up to electric storing contraptions and observe the future. Enough kilowatts to spark up a large city my friend. That's right people - it's natural and it's renewable. Of course all he needs to move forward is funding. All interested investors should send checks to me - I am his father after all!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's A Man's World

It might not look like it, but being a stay at home dad is a ton of work. I do the manly jobs around the house - cutting the grass, fixing the workbench, re-sheetrocking the playroom. But I also do some of the "girlie" jobs - arranging play dates, vacuuming, grocery shopping. I'm actually folding laundry in this shot - you just can't see it. The funny thing is that living in both worlds doesn't feel funny. Maybe it should.

Of course after all of this work a stay-at-home Dad needs some me time. And what's more relaxing than taking your two idiosyncratic children who can't swim to the beach? Idiosyncratic you say? Yeah - did I mention that my daughter doesn't like the feeling of sand between her toes? She may be the only human being who doesn't like that feeling. People in Nebraska would kill for sand! (I presume that somewhere in Nebraska there is sand - I'm just not sure if it's located by a body of water. More research is needed). And my son - he doesn't like bright light or his sister.

It was actually fun observing the the group of moms near us. It started out as a small group of a couple of women with their toddlers. But then its turned into a Mommy Woodstock (OK maybe Lollapalooza).

"Hey...good to see you. Austin's gotten so big. You look great by the way."

"Is Madison going to camp?"

"That Dad over there is a total hottie."

OK - I may have made up some of those. Madison isn't going to camp. But I must say, I was almost jealous of this secret society as I thumbed though Sports Illustrated. These women had such a free and easy way of relating to each other. It would have felt lonely if not for the fact that it was a beautiful day and I was on the beach with my kids - idiosyncrasies and all.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Maybe if We Lived in a Trailer Park...

According to FEMA this isn't enough damage to be considered for disaster aid even though residents of my state have been approved to apply for federal funds as a result of the torrential rains we had back in March. They said it "wasn't significant enough damage." I guess several thousand dollars worth of damage is chump change - and that figure doesn't take into account the fact that I'm doing all the work myself. Luckily I'm pretty handy and don't have to hire a bunch of contractors to put the room back together. Maybe I should have and then showed the Feds all of the invoices. I must mention here that the only reason I went to FEMA is because my useless homeowner's insurance doesn't cover such things. They call it "an Act of God." Since when did insurance companies get religion? Only when it benefits their bottom line apparently.

 Now I don't want to sound grabby, especially when fishermen in Louisiana are trying to make a living in an oil slick, but why make the funds available if you don't plan on honoring legitimate claims? Maybe I should have tried to look poorer. Perhaps a wife-beater T with gravy stains? Maybe a car up on blocks in the front yard? I could have used a lot of double negatives during the interview: "I ain't seen nothin' like this rain in my whole life." I think the pride we take in maintaining our home may have worked against us in this case.

Several of the FEMA reps asked if the furnace or any part of the heating system was damaged as a result of the flood. Being an honest man I said no. Would others in a similar situation? Maybe if I lied and said yes I would be getting a check from Uncle Sam. It's just frustrating that honest people get denied while other people job the system.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I Cook Therefore I Am

I officially have an unhealthy obsession with food. It's not that I'm fat or anything (although I could probably lose a few lbs like most Americans). It's just that I spend a lot of time thinking about food - what to cook, what to shop for, what restaurant to go to and I won't admit how much time I spend watching cooking shows. We even joined a local CSA farm (Community Supported Agriculture). I'm so pumped that I may hug the farmer when we go to the farm for the first time on Tuesday.

"Thank you kind farmer for my locally grown arugula and Japanese mustard greens. I look forward to seeing you again. Call me."

I know, awkward. But it's true. I'm just so passionate about good food - for myself and my family. The real frustrating part is when I spend time prepping a great dinner and the kids just want mac and cheese. I am making some inroads though. My 4 year old daughter devours mussels and clams like it's her job and my 7 year old son loves eating salad. I would post more but Tyler Florence is exploring Low Country cuisine - gotta run...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Modern Man or Just a Wuss?

It's probably better reading if I write about my struggle to accept this new role of mine. New stay at home dad is thrust into a new life and a new town...let the high jinks and missteps ensue. But it really hasn't been that way so far. I actually shared a bean salad recipe today with my daughter's pre-school teacher and no one laughed out loud. Enough said.

I've been thinking of the great Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom. Bumbling buffoon at home, unable to use an iron or change a diaper but a great guy at the factory - back-slapping his peeps at the auto factory as a union rep as I recall. I guess that made him more of a man back in the day but does it still? Does it make me less of a man that I cook dinner every night and I know what a duvet is or does it just make me more well rounded (and a well-informed Bed Bath & Beyond shopper)? Who knows but life is too complicated these days for everyone's family unit to look exactly the same. For us so far, it's working. I'm loving the domestic thing. If that makes me less of a man, then so be it. I can't be bothered, I'm having too much fun hanging with my kids and making quiche.