Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Garden: Week 10

This week's garden photos brought to you by Grampap-E and the letter "S".

Sometimes I think that the garden has turned into a crowd of parents jockeying for position at 5am in front of Toys R Us because Christmas is 3 days away and there's one Tickle Me Elmo left.

The cucumber plants are bullies.  They have these awesome little Indiana Jones-like "whips" that they use to try to take over the whole garden.

A big thank you and hats off to Pap-Pap, who came over after work the other day and helped me install a little sprinkler system/drip lines attached to a timer, so that the garden won't die when we go on vacation.  Can you say "Automatic Watering!"  What took us about an hour probably would've taken me 3-4 hours with my 3 "helpers".

Before being vanquished by the cucumber clan, the green peppers were trans-planted into their own separate pot with their very own drip line.

Okay, okay, so I'm a little bit corny...

Yay!  Finally, some cucumbers that are bigger than my pinky.

Can you eat me now?  Can you eat me now? ...  Good!  (and Yum!)

See you on Fatherhood Friday,

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

On Memorial Day, we pause to show respect and to remember all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, at home and abroad.

Thank you for giving me the freedom to enjoy my family.

Today, and everyday.

Have a great week,

May God Bless America,


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dad-E in Training

The other morning, Mom-E walked into Bab-E Brother's room to find him talking away to all of his animal friends.

He had each one snuggled up warmly with their own burp towel.

Unfortunately for Barney, he was being slightly suffocated by his blanket.

Fortunately, Bab-E Brother has plenty of time to continue honing his Dad-E skills, but he's off to a great start.

Have a good weekend,

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

School's Out

School's out, school's out,
Teacher let the monkeys out...

Unfortunately, the monkeys are now at our house.  All.  Day.  Long.  Swinging from the ceiling.

Big Brother and Little Brother are officially done with school.

And while, Mom-E and I are basking in the glory of fewer lunches to pack, the absence of homework and AR (the latter deserving it's own "Amen!"), and more relaxed schedule overall, Big Brother had a very eventful last day of school.

Mom-E was at the gym, when she heard that their had been an armed robbery at a pharmacy about 1/2 mile from Big Brother's school.

Despite the fact that the suspect got away, Big Brother's school was placed on "soft lockdown" and parents were not notified, which surprised both Mom-E and I.

Mom-E and I decided that we'd both feel more comfortable if Mom-E picked up Big Brother (I think they were pretty much playing Nintendo all week). 

And being the last day of school, with all kinds of programs for parents (the place was crawling), soft lock-down consisted of the PE teachers hanging out in front of the school?

Mom-E felt like the staff looked at her ask if she was from Mars, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Fortunately, Big Brother was quite happy about this.  His class had a pizza party that afternoon (still can't get the boy to eat pizza), but Big Brother was more excited about getting to open his end of the year prize.

Needless to say, an eventful last day of first grade.

Fortunately, the suspect was apprehended later in the day.

See you on Fatherhood Friday,

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Garden: Week 10

On the downside, we've been battling some pesky Japanese beetles, who have a penchant for corn.

The cucumbers are also not playing very nice with the other vegetables, literally trying to strangle their neighbors in an attempt to usurp more garden space.

But on the upside, we've started to harvest a teeny little bit.  Some squash, green onions, and cilantro.

If I could upload the smell of fresh cilantro for you I would.  So pungent and so appetizing.  Knocks the socks off the stuff in the store.

Makes me want to go have a (Crystal Light) Margarita.

Have a good week,

Friday, May 18, 2012

Beach SwingBall

Happy Fatherhood Friday!

The boys and I have invented a new game, called Beach SwingBall".

Lately, we've been spending some time after dinner outside on the swing set.

Similar to the picture below, we have three swings, so that the boys can all swing simultaneously.

Big Brother has a "regular" swing, and the other two boys have a "bucket"/child's swing.

You can imagine the fun and chaos of trying to assist 3 boys simultaneously in such an endeavor.

It feels like one of those jugglers who spins plates on tall poles.  "Dad-E, can you push me?  From the back.  No, the front.  Dad-E, I want to go higher?  Can I pretend to kick you when I swing?  Can you fall over on the ground when I pretend to kick you?  Higher, Dad-E.  Higher!  Dad-E, push me!"

Bab-E Brother in particular has his idiosyncrasies while swinging.

For several days, he kept saying, "I want to go higher."

It seemed like no matter what Mom-E or I would do - push his swing in front, in back, stop the swing, etc, etc - nothing would suit, and he'd just continue to scream, "I want to go higher."

Turned out that "go higher" mean grab ahold of the swing, pull him up in the air (like you're about to set a pendulum in motion), and let go.  All smiles and giggles with that.  Only problem is he asks you to "go higher again" about every 27 seconds.

The boys are also obsessed with a large plastic beach ball that currently inhabits our back yard near the swings.

One day, probably out of frustration from trying to assist 3 crabby swingers and their whims, "Dad-E, can I hold the beach ball while I swing?" I threw the ball in their direction.

The timing was just right, and one of them managed to kick the ball - pretty hard - in mid-air while swinging, and it sailed over my head.

Thus, the sport of Beach SwingBall was born.

It's a pretty simple game, although quite a cardiovascular workout for the accompanying adult.

How to Play:
1.  Allow all players on swings to "go higher" to suitable height.  (You'll have to do this repeatedly throughout the match.)

2.  The Pitcher (adult) throws the ball to each Batter/Kicker, one at a time, timing the pitch so they have a chance to kick the beachball in mid-air.

3.  When the ball is kicked, if the pitcher catches the ball before it touches the ground, the batter scores 0 points and the Pitcher scores 1 point.

4.  Points are scored by Batters as follows:
-Kick the ball and it goes forward and is NOT  caught by the pitcher = 1 point
-Kick the ball over the pitcher's head = 2 points
-Kick the ball to another batter, and that 2nd batter kicks the ball after it touches the ground, and it is not caught by the pitcher = 2 points
-Kick the ball to another batter, and that 2nd batter kicks the ball without it touching the ground, and it is not caught by the pitcher = 3 points
-Kick the ball to another batter, and that 2nd batter kicks the ball without it touching the ground, and it goes over the pitcher's head = 4 points

5.  Winner is the first player to score 10 points.

(Disclaimer: Not my boys.)

Have a good weekend,
Go out and play!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Garden: Week 9

It's nature unleashed!  (Methinks we planted stuff a little too close together.)

So after another round of fertilizer last week, the garden has mutated into a green monster that is starting to take over.

In particular, it's "Revenge of the Cucumbers", as they've shot out these lasso-like things that will pretty much jump out of the garden and grab you if you walk by.

Okay, maybe not, but the cucumbers are starting to vine out everywhere, threatening the existence of peaceful green pepper plants from Alderaan.

Elsewhere in the garden, it's "A New Silk".  Just in the past week, we've see the emergence of corn tassels, and some corn silk, where the stalks are starting to widen.

Mom-E decided that the tassels should be called "pre-corn", which I really liked and prefer over tassel.

Say it with me now "... Mmm ... corn!"

And then below the surface of those giant leaves that are bigger than my head, we have "Attack of the Squash", which appear to be creating a clone army of yellowy goodness (I promise we did not use growth enhancers to speed up the maturation process).

See you on Fatherhood Friday,
May the Garden Be With You!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

Dear Mom-E,

Happy Mother’s Day 2012!

It’s amazing to think that we’ve been married for almost 9 years.  The time has truly zipped by.  Over the past 7 years as parents, and especially in recent months, we have truly grown in the sacrament of marriage. 

Amidst all of the joyful chaos and frenetic pace of life, it’s critical to take time to pause and reflect.

And while I try to tell you that I love you and how wonderful you are on a daily basis, this Mother’s Day I wanted to write down some of my sentiments, as a true present from the heart.

First of all, know that you are a truly special and wonderful lady.  With God’s grace, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to (and probably more).  A-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.  Slow down and let that sink in for a moment.

I thank you for your constant example of faithfulness to our boys.  Thanks for all you do to raise the boys in the faith.  This is particularly meaningful to me, as it was somewhat lacking in my early childhood.  I can now see clearly how critical this time period is for the formation of faith, and how important it is that we show the boys this path.

You are a fine example of fidelity and womanhood, as wife and mother.  This will no doubt have a long-lasting influence on the women that our boys will marry.

I thank you for your constant example of faithfulness to me.  Your example inspires me (and others) to live an even holier life.  I think we are both starting to see new fruits of that call to holiness.  Your example of love has led me to more deeply understand the love of God the Father.

At your surprise 30th birthday party, I said in my toast that you are epitomized by the quote, “The secret of success is constancy of purpose.”  And this still rings true.  In your life, your priorities are your dedication to your family, friends, and faith.  You live out this mission daily, unwaivering, expecting no recognition or material reward. 

You are truly generous with your time and talents.  How are those wooden boxes coming?  What hand-made item will you sew next for the boys?  Yet another superhero costume or jammies?  A tent?

Thank you for your patience with the boys.  Sure we both feel empty on patience sometimes, but you still have oodles of it.  Your love for them makes my heart smile.

At the end of a long, tiring day of mess cleaning, meal fixing, bey blading, mess cleaning, dispute mediating, small men chauffeuring, mess cleaning, dog whining, back door opening/closing, mess cleaning, story reading, pre-nap rocking, mess cleaning, diaper changing, dish washing, mess cleaning, child yelling, toddler tantruming, mess cleaning, laundry washing (and drying and folding), lunch packing, mess cleaning, my favorite 5 minutes are when we sit down or lie in bed together and laugh about all of the day’s antics, only to wake up (exhausted), and spend another 5 minutes in the bathroom laughing about all of the antics to soon follow when three boys are awake before 7 a.m. 

I truly cherish our uncontrolled laughter during those times.  It keeps me going despite the stress of the wonderful circus that we direct.  That, and caffeine.  Lots and lots of caffeine.  But still, when we are old and decrepit, I hope we can still laugh like that.

Lastly, I also want to share with you some biblical wisdom about motherhood from the book of Proverbs that I hope will continue to feed and nourish you as a mother:

 “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.  Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”  Proverbs 31:10-12.

“So be happy with your wife, and find joy with the woman you married.” Proverbs 5:18

“A gracious woman is respected.” Proverbs 11:16

“Homes are made by the wisdom of women.” Proverbs 14:1

“Find a wife and you find a good thing, it shows the Lord is good to you.”  Proverbs 18:22

And so, on Mother’s Day (and always), know that I am happy and full of joy, that you are respected and wise, and that the Lord has truly been good to me.

I love you,

P.S.  And while I hope that my words are inspiring, I also recognize that with three boys age 7, 4, and 2, caffeine helps is very necessary, and so we also have a little Starbucks gift card for you!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

When Boys "Help" Clean Up

Yeah, I think they missed a "spot."  Or two...thousand.

Methinks Mom-E and I are going to have to work on this.

And by "work on this", I mean working on enhancing the boys' cleaning skills
(which shouldn't be hard, based on this starting point, 
which leaves a whole room for improvement - literally).

Have a good weekend,

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Irony Man

You may remember that I recently dished on Big Brother's end of the year prize for good behavior.

Well, last Saturday we did some window shopping at Target, and Big Brother came across this toy.

All 3 boys like to play with Bey Blades, and Big Brother and Little Brother's favorite Saturday cartoon is Bey Blade: Metal Masters.

And last week's episode featured two of the Beys in this set.

(As an aside, in the show Team Star Breaker, the American Team, is about to battle Team Gan Gan Galaxy, the Japanese Team, in the World Championships.  The Japanese team has likeable characters that value friendship, camaraderie, hard work, and always doing your best, while the American team is a bunch of evil, power hungry cheaters.  I'll let you form your own opinion about if that's an accurate portrayal of American society today.)

Needless to say, the boys are REALLY REALLY excited about this set.

And needless to say, Dad-E and Mom-E are REALLY REALLY Excited about this set because it contains 3 Bey Blades, which means everyone gets an end of the school year good behavior prize that they want (Big and Little Brother each want a different Bey)...

...and no one will fight over them for at least 35 seconds after the package is opened.  :)

On Sunday I had to travel for work.  When I got back on Tuesday afternoon, I decided to stop by Target to go ahead and buy it.  The boys know that this will be their prize if good behavior continues through the rest of the school year, and that they will not get to open it until the last day of school.

You need to understand that since Saturday, Big Brother has NOT STOPPED TALKING ABOUT THIS TOY.  Every conversation, including phone calls when I was away, has begun with either "Dad-E, I really like Hades Kerbecs' (see pic above) spin track", or "Do you think that Hades Kerbecs can defeat Flame Byxis (see also pic above)?"

When I got to Target, there were NO Team Start Breaker sets (there were about 4 on Saturday).

Oh the Irony.

After kicking myself for not just buying it Saturday (didn't want 1,000 requests a minute for, "Can I open that?", I went home to discuss with Mom-E.

We looked online, Target, Walmart - nothing.  Amazon had it, but for about 50% more than the retail price at Target.

So an hour after getting home, Little Brother and I went to Walmart to look (at this point I had to start explaining the situation).

Of course, they didn't have the set either, but they did have an individual Flame Byxis (that's the one Little Brother wanted).

Oh, the double Irony.

They have Little Brother's, but not Big Brother's toy.  You could imagine how well THAT would go over.  Not.

So I then called the other Target store in town.  Amazingly, they had one left and were willing to hold it for me.

So during piano lessons and before cub scouts, Dad-E zipped over to Target to secure the prize.

Man that was harder that it should've been.

And now we have several days left of trying to keep the toy on the highest shelf in our closet amidst copious requests to inspect the present, or to ask how many seconds are left until school is over.

They say that no good deed goes unpunished.  It's just ironic when the "punishment" is running all over town to track down a reward for good behavior.

See you on Fatherhood Friday,

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Garden: Week 8

Behold, the garden!  (Needless to say, plans to build a "Garden 2.0" next year are in the works.)

Come, come, look closer.  Nature's beauty to behold.

I was fortunate to catch these squash blooms near their peak.

And not but a day or two later, the flowers are shriveled up, but the beginnings of some tasty squash are left behind.  (If we get a squash from every bloom, we might have enough to send one to each of my followers! Okay, not really, but there's a lot of them.)

And, not to be outdone, some mini-cucumbers.  I'm hoping for full-size as opposed to gherkins, myself.

I can't wait to see how much these young "veggie-lings" grow over the next week, because about the same time these pictures were taken, we put another round of fertilizer - Miracle-Gro Organic (aka dried chicken poop).

You may be wondering, "Dad-E, why do you keep posting pictures of your garden?"

To that I'd say several things:

1.  It'll be neat at the end to be able to put together a stop-motion slide show at the end of the season.

2.  The boys have had fun with it.  They do some watering, and by watering I mean they spray pretty much everything EXCEPT for the garden, including the dog, each other, grass, trees, specific spots of dirt (Bab-E Brother's favorite).  Even if Mom-E and I do most of the watering, it still gets the boys excited and outside.

3.  Life is hectic, and the garden is a good reminder to slow down and admire natural beauty.

4.  There are some good parallels between gardening and parenthood.  It's something that takes time, energy, persistence/dedication, and the opportunity to witness the fruits (or in our case veggies and herbs) of your labor bloom before your eyes (and of course you have to pull out the weeds from time to time.)  I hope my boys will always remember that.

Have a good week,

Thursday, May 3, 2012

So Long, SuckARs

Woo-hoo, woo-hoo, happy dance, happy dance!

Big Brother is FFIINNAALLYY done with his Accelerated Reading (AR) books for the year.  For AR, the student basically reads books and takes computerized tests on them.  Each book is worth generally 0.5-3 points, and there is a goal to read a certain number of points worth of books each 9 weeks, and maintain an 85% test average.

Can't tell you how much of a relief this is for Mom-E and I, other than to say it feels like "Happy Hour"!  Every hour, of every day.

Please don't get me wrong, Big Brother has really benefited from this program.  The improvements in his reading skills over the course of first grade have been a true quantum leap.

But at some point in the last few weeks, reading AR became a chore, and not fun.  Which is not good.

Several things contributed to this problem.

At some point, things became more about "competition" than a love of reading, which is admittedly a little hard to swallow when we're talking about first graders.  It became about "who can read the hardest books," not, "hey, I really like this story."

And as a result, Big Brother would bring home a 70-page chapter book on the "History of Dirt", which was subtitled "How I argued with my 7 year-old for a week about him not wanting to read a 70-page chapter book on the 'History of Dirt'."

Big Brother put a lot of extra pressure on himself by only picking books at upper end of his reading range, rather than a book in the middle of his range that he was more excited about.

There's also a focus on meeting a point goal for the 9 weeks.  Don't get me wrong, setting goals that aren't trivial to obtain is a good thing.  The problem for us became that Big Brother was picking books that were hard enough such that he was pretty slow to accumulate points.  And sometimes a 70-page chapter book was worth 1 or 2 points, and sometimes only 0.5 point, which is a problem when you need 10 points in 9 weeks.

Lastly, I think Big Brother just got a little "tired of" the AR system (chalk it up to Spring Fever).

Big Brother went into this week needing 2 points to reach his goal.

We both agreed that he needed to make his goal - no free passes there for being a little behind.  But that Big Brother's system of picking hard books wasn't going to work.

And then stepped in Super Mom-E.

Super Mom-E got permission to help him pick out four 0.5 point books that, although still within his range, he could read and test on over the course of a week.

No good deed going unpunished, as she was leaving the school library for the FIRST time, Mom-E found out, "oh, by the way, the last day for AR is this Friday."  (We thought we had 2 weeks.)

And so Mom-E realized that the books she helped him pick were still too hard.  Of course, by then she had to go take Little Brother to school.  She ended up having to make a SECOND trip to the library with Big Brother during lunch.

Of course, at that trip, Bab-E Brother left "B", his most prized stuffed animal/best friend/wubby at the library.

Fortunately, the librarian found "B" and instead of Mom-E having to make a THIRD trip to the library in one day. "B" was safely transported home in Big Brother's back pack.

And because there's an incentive if everyone in the class reaches their AR goal, Big Brother has been surprisingly cooperative about finishing off these last few books.  Thank goodness for no late night arguments with a tired 7 year-old about needing to read his books.

Perhaps our biggest relief is that Big Brother appears to still be enthusiastic about reading.  Pa-Pa just sent some more of my old Hardy Boys books, which both Big Brother and Little Brother have really enjoyed.

And Big Brother just got to help make selections for an order for some books he's talking non-stop about reading this summer.

In the meantime, I think Mom-E and I are ready for Happy Hour!

Have a good weekend,

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


 So the boys would like to share with you some of their everyday little how-to advice.

Pack socks and undies for 1 (ONE) night at Gramm-E and Grampap's house?! by Little Brother.
(Mom always said you gotta have plenty of clean undies.)

Slip n' Slide VERY safely! by Little Brother
(Life vest and goggles not included, but very necessary for him.)

Grow a 5 o'clock shadow, chocolate frozen yogurt style! by Bab-E Brother

Dress completely and utterly AWESOMELY! by Big Brother
(I AM Iron Man!)

See you on Fatherhood Friday,