Monday, January 28, 2008

The best things said to me over the weekend

"Xzibit really doesn't like the look of that car!"

- Penny, 4, while watching Pimp My Ride.

"That was the best lunchie EVER!"

- Patrick, 2, after dinner at AB&G.

"Do you need help getting it up?"

- Wife, 27. She meant getting a box into the attic. I think. Either way, the answer was no.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Desert Island Sanity Saver

This January is proving particularly frustrating, thanks to the sub-zero temperatures and the number of events coming up in the increasingly-frustrating-still-a-week-away February. The parenting tales I am coming up with all involve me staying inside because it's too bloody cold to go out, and the kids being semi-sick for the duration of the month.

Therefore, I present my most self-indulgent post yet - my Desert Island Disk selection with a brief explanation of why I chose these particular songs ahead of, say "Star Are Blind" by Paris Hilton.

1 Unfinished Sympathy - Massive Attack

The chord changes are beautiful and I once told an ex-girlfriend that listening to this song in the dark made me feel like I was floating - and it wasn't just B.S. to get her to turn the lights off. It's a rare combination of stunning sound with lyrics that mean something to me.

2 Hot Love - T-Rex

I can't think of a more fun song. Plus the nostalgia that comes from the memories of listening to it, windows down, in the infamous Flirtmobile (my first car - registration number FLT...) make it a mainstay.

3 Leave In Silence - Depeche Mode

I could have picked one of a dozen DM songs, what with them being a huge influence on me and my favorite band ever, but this is the one song that changed their direction. They could have continued on their "Just Can't Get Enough" route that was making them lots of cash, but they put out this moody beast instead.

4 Ballad Of Dorothy Parker - Prince

Another artist that has provided the backbone of my musical taste. Anything from Sign O' The Times is majestic, but this sprawling tale is the most special.

5 Tainted Love - Soft Cell

It was either this timeless classic or "Love Is The Drug" by Roxy Music. This won because whenever it comes on my stereo, I just can't bring myself to skip past it.

6 Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan

I'm no hardcore Dylan fan by any means, and this choice is certainly helped by the Jools Holland version taken from The Young Ones, but this song is great.

7 Somebody Told Me - The Killers

The personal weight of this selection brought it into my top 8. In early 2005, when I was back and forth from various job agency gigs while my wife was on maternity leave with my son, this was a constant on the radio. "Breaking my back just to know your name" became something of a mantra after he was born, because we couldn't decide on his name for 48 hours. Plus it's a three-minute classic.

8 Everybody's Talking - Harry Nilson

Yeah, yeah. Even my picking this puts me up there with the guy from Seinfeld who was obsessed with "Desperado", but the main reason I like it is because I would love to be where the weather suits my clothes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No more diapers for me

Today I bought the last box of diapers I ever hope to buy. My 2-year-old son is so close to being potty trained. This last $20 box of 68 size sixes will be the last I ever buy, and therefore the last one in the box will be the last I will ever need to change. And that, dear friends, will be sweet after five years of changing them daily.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Last night, the New York Giants earned a place in the Superbowl on February 3. I LOVE it. Kids, grab your coats! We're going to the Sports Authority to buy Giants stuff!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


As bizarre as it sounds, this evening I am being sworn into a position of local office by the town mayor.

I was approached to volunteer on the Board of Trustees at the town library, and considering I spend a whole lot of time there with and without the kids, I was flattered to accept. I've been serving for six or seven months now I think, maybe more, and I've enjoyed it greatly, not just on a social level, but it's another "job" (like my serving on my kids pre-school board) that makes me feel like I'm doing something positive for things I care about. Tonight is my actual swearing in, for reasons too complicated to explain here.

It's not an exaggeration to say that without the library, my book would not have been written. Thanks to the library I was able to read all the already-published books I would be competing with, several books on writing style and theory (the best by far was "On Writing" by Stephen King, for the record) and borrow enough DVDs and kids books to satisfy the whole family. Not to mention that my next project, one that involves watching a lot of movies from a certain decade, would have been absolutely impossible without the services of my local library - and it didn't cost a dime (unless you count taxes.)

In fact, today has been good for my cosmic karma all round. I would normally spend Thursday mornings kid-free, what with them both in class, and can usually be found stretched out watching Entourage on the couch, drinking too much coffee. Today I sacrificed that luxury and volunteered to help out with an open house at the school, and in doing so I *think* I recruited one couple who were very interested in signing up for next year.

So, come on, universe. I'm due.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Living in an Old Age Era

Before I start, I do not consider myself old at 33, but here is a list of things I can't do anymore.

* Play soccer all day. From the ages of 15-21 I would play every chance I got for hours on end. On my first run out in my once weekly, two hour sessions this year, I couldn't get the taste of blood out of my mouth for the first half-hour and couldn't walk for 48 hours afterwards without extreme effort.

* Ride my bike for more then two minutes. Sure, I can pedal at the gym for 20 mins and work up a sweat, but I decided one humid morning in the summer to ride my mountain bike to a friends house to drop something off. It's a two minute drive, and while I didn't need to stop during my trip and the last quarter mile is up a steep hill, I couldn't answer my wife's "where have you been" until my lungs had recovered. It took a while. Between the ages of 12 and 16 I would ride a bike carrying two bags full of newspapers (three bags on a Sunday) and ride probably three miles on my paper route EVERY DAY. I was paid about 20 quid a week ($35.)

* Drink strong beer. I can drink Miller Lite all day, but give me three or four bottles or pints of the good stuff and I am overwhelmed. This from someone who once drank half a bottle of Bacardi, partied, walked home, woke up, did his homework and got to school on time the next morning without so much as a slight headache.

* Eat whatever I want. I am not eating buffalo wings ever again. Some colors are not natural. I will not elaborate.

* Stay up late. Yes, I wake up early to get a jump start on the day, but even when the family are asleep and I do manage to drag my ass back downstairs to do something, I cannot last much beyond 10pm. I used to wake at 5am (see the paper route stuff above), go to school, come home, do homework or whatever, then bum around until 11pm every day. Six hours of quality sleep was more than enough. These days, if I get any period of solid sleep lasting more than two hours at a time, I'm astonished, what with my racing mind and restless children.

* Spend money like there's no tomorrow. I used to regularly go out and spend a hundred quid, just to "cheer myself up." Now, I count every penny and regularly buy coffee with coins from the change jar in my bedoom. If I don't need to take the whole change jar to the bank and pour into the penny counter to deposit into the bank to stop a check from bouncing.

(OK, so that one isn't to do with the physical, but I'm whining so you can stick it if you don't like it.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Back away from the daddy...

I am in a foul mood to say the least. Yes, it's Friday, the end of a long week and I'm very tired, but it's more than that. We (that is, my wife) got paid yesterday - and every dollar is accounted for 24 hours later.

That's not good. But it's not that either. Not entirely.

It's raining in classic London-style (not hard, but enough that if you went out it in, you would get wet in no time) which is enough to dampen (oh-ho!) anyone's spirits. But it's more than that. When I wake up in a mood like this, very little can snap me out of it, and the slightest thing can make things much worse. I just stubbed my toe on something lying on the floor in the kitchen... it was my daughter actually. Immediately I am furious - I'm in there making her breakfast and there she is lying in ambush trying to kill me. The outburst was controlled, I'm proud to say ( "Penny! Get out of the kitchen!") but I'm seething, all really down to a poor night's sleep, a miserable start to the day with both kids upset mommy is going to work and that Dad is staying home with them AGAIN, the prospect of no school to ship them off to today, and about 34 cents in the budget for my daily expenses. And of course the X-Factor that makes me mad rather than "ho-hum, better get on with it."

It's not a morbid, self-pity. Nor is it a accepting shrug of reluctance at the Friday morning funk. It's a simmering anger, and it's already boiled over a couple of times at the stupidest thing (the first was an e-mail that was not written in any particular tone to wind me up, but wind me up it certainly did.)

I better get some more coffee down the gullet before the sun comes up and I can't afford the luxury of letting the kids play by themselves.

See, this is the kind of shit the working parent doesn't get to see. The teetering on the edge of losing it for no single indentifiable reason.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I was just shopping at K.B. Toys....

... and was staggered to hear The Clash playing throughout the store. Fair enough, it was "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" but - Toy store! The Clash!

Anyway, happy 100th post to me.

Me vs. Monday

I fought Monday, and just about won. But at what cost?

After Sunday's first soccer outing in weeks (one goal, hit the post twice - once with a header, one disallowed for a foul) I spent Monday morning aching. This didn't bode well for what was always going to be a busy day, but the first attempt to get back into the swing of normalcy following the craziness.

I got so much done yesterday, which is doubly astonishing as my 2-y-o son decided to make it the first day he didn't nap. Triply astonishing as the wife called at 6:30pm to say she was still in her office in Manhattan. He finally crashed out at 7pm. I was asleep at 8pm. This early night was followed by the worst bout of insomnia I've had since we brought the first kid home from the hospital. I was wide awake at 2:20am and finally got back to sleep sometime after 4:45am. I got up at 6am, feeling as though I hadn't been to bed at all, but left with no choice as the kids and wife were all awake and someone had to distract the younger ones so she could go back to the office.

Tonight, we are going to see Alvin and the Chipmunks at the movies. I am bringing a cup of hot cocoa and fully expect to fall asleep once the lights go down. At 6:15.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

This is me....

This is me on

Any questions?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Everybody Hurts

Unbelievably, I have developed two Wii-related injuries. The first is a physical one, from my amateur (though somewhat effective) baseball stance and swing. I swing like I'm wielding a rounders bat rather than a two handed one, and my neck and biceps (you know... muscles under my flabby arms) are pounding. The second is mental, thanks to the bowling on Wii sports. Why won't the effing ball go straight? Lucky for the wrist strap, or at least one controller would have gone airborne, powered by my frustration by now.

What a great Christmas gift. As good as any other I've ever been lucky enough to get. Thanks, Santa!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Get It Done

Most days, especially when I only have one child in pre-school (that would be two days a week,) it's very hard to get things done.

I am all about writing lists, but some days the lists are just so much fluff to pretend I was at least trying to do something on a day when my major achievements include eating and watching Battlestar Galactica.

Today was very, very different.

I dropped off my daughter and was out of the school parking lot at 9:05 - a big deal in itself. I am prone to chatting outside the classroom, inside the classroom, on my way back to the classroom after dropping off, then standing beside my car. I rarely make it home before 9:20. Today, by 10am, I had finished a to-do list that involved all kinds of horrible stuff.

* Return pair of shoes and exchange for some that fit.
* Buy birthday present for three-year-old boy with OWN three-year-old boy in tow.
* Call and arrange babysitter for rare night out with wife
* Clean kitchen after chicken/wok incident
* Find new doctor for kids, then call them and make appointments

And so on. I was so astonished to see it was only 10am by the time my list was complete, I celebrated with a cup of coffee and a ten-minute abbreviated viewing of Saturday's Aston Villa game (2-1 Villa, rock on!)

All that said, although today is Wednesday, it feels like Monday, so by Friday, I will think it's Wednesday and still be going strong. Right?


Yeah, right.