Monthly Archives: January 2012

I’ve never been good at goals–either forming them or pursuing them. I do, however, excel at dreams, which should be just an easy step away from transforming into goals. But since I’m not good at one, I’m just a good dreamer.


I’ve always lived my life as a reactionary. As much as I like to plan, I just kind of fall into the trap of going along with things as they happen. And perhaps that’s why I find myself where I am: unhappy at work, and perhaps a bit unenthusiastic at home. Sure, I stand up for myself more, but it still hasn’t gotten me very far, and that’s only a defense. I need an offense, too.


Jenni’s always been good at goals. That’s one of the many things I admire in her. She can see things she wants to do or become and will reach for them, and this May she’ll achieve another of those goals.


So what goals do I want to set for myself? I don’t really know yet. I have a lot of dreams, but what of them do I really want to work at and make become a reality? Where do I want to be in three months, six months, a year, five years? I don’t know. All I know is that I don’t want to be in the same rut I’m in right now. And I want to reward myself for achieving some goals. Because I don’t reward myself much at all.


Don’t read this wrong, everyone. Sure, I’m a bit down on how things are going right now, but I’m not desperate or despondent. I need to make a new path. I know I can do it because I have at least a couple major examples of achievement right before me: my family, and the progress we’ve made on our finances in just 18 months. It’s just time to finally just say “Here’s what I need to do now.”


I’m not good at me. It’s a stupid phrase, but it’s one that came up a lot in the myriad of therapy sessions I’ve had. I’m good at everyone else: caring for them, helping them, supporting them. And all I really do for me is sit and spend time alone. Not good.


Maybe it took a shell shock like what’s happened at work to finally get through to me. Maybe I just needed to get tired of dreaming.


That’s where I am, kids. Deep, heavy soul-searching.


More to come. I promise.


See you tomorrow.

As I frequently do on Saturdays, I was listening to Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me on NPR. The show, for the uninitiated, is a weekly “news quiz,” involving a panel made up usually of comedians, famous guests who play a game called “Not My Job,” and people who call in for a chance to win the only prize the show gives away: Carl Kasell (the show’s announcer and scorekeeper and longtime news reader) recording your voice mail message.


This week, amid the morass that has become the Republican presidential primary race, Wait Wait… mentioned something that made me laugh, but then, after telling Jenni about it, she found the real link (click with extreme caution!) to what I had hoped was a joke op-ed piece by a Fox News personality.


Here’s the gist of it, for those who don’t want to injure, infect, or otherwise abuse themselves with this crap: Newt Gingrich, the writer claims in the piece, would be an excellent President because of, not in spite of, his three marriages. The reasoning, as simplistically as I can present it without hurting your brain, is because if three women have fallen in love with the man and wanted to marry him, he must be a very likable guy who will obviously be a great president. This makes about as much sense as declaring an axe murderer to be an excellent candidate for Supreme Court Justice because he knows the court system so well.


Among his arguments are that he’ll be better able to talk to congress because he’s sat down with two of his wives and told them he was not in love with them any more and was moving on. I can see it now: “Uh, see, congress. Yeah, about the budget? I think we should see other people. So I’m just going to move on now and leave you with the kids. And I’m taking the military with me.”


But at the end of this fantasy is the conclusion that the only risk the country would take by electing such a great man is that he’d be seduced by a “younger country” and would be taken to be their president. We could only hope…


I’ve read this thing three times now and if my jaw were to drop any further, I could scratch my navel with it. But instead, I decided to check out who this wingnut is.


Keith Ablow is a member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, which one hopes means he may have some medical qualifications. He is a life coach and psychiatrist who may be dipping into some of the meds he prescribes. He has, at one point or another, urged parents not to let their kids watch Dancing With the Stars because seeing Chaz Bono would make them want to become transgendered as well, that government should get out of the business of issuing marriage licenses because it’s essentially a contract that allows the government to divide your possessions when you divorce, and that by providing 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, the government is helping encourage depression because people don’t want to leave the benefits program to take a job that pays less than unemployment. Because let’s face it: everyone would be happier and better off working a job that’s supporting your family less than your unemployment check is.


Personally, if Gingrich is elected, I can’t wait for some younger country to come along and woo him away. Hell, I’d even be okay if that cougar, Greece, came and took him off to their love nest.


Okay. Y’all excuse me while I go shower now. So, so dirty…..


See you tomorrow.

It was announced this evening that Hannah has a boyfriend. Now, outside of the fact that when asked, she said she had no idea what that means, and the fact that this apparently was declared by someone outside of Hannah or the boyfriend in question, it suddenly hit me in that way apparently that only fathers can be hit by the claim of relationship status by their daughter.


I’m thinking that this is all just harmless fun, and it probably is, beyond the necessity of Jenni talking to her about what having a boyfriend means.


I remember that my sister, with her big brown eyes and shy but bubbly personality, was a magnet for boys even back to Kindergarten. It seemed that she almost always had a boyfriend. In fact, at a birthday party, two or more of them got into a fight over her.


In the meantime, I hope that we won’t have any fights between any of the girls’ boyfriends…Just the teen years to survive.


See you tomorrow.



It is amazing how far my daughters have come.


A mere two years ago, they were just starting out on their respective instruments–Hannah on the flute, and Zoe on the clarinet. It was tough, as learning an instrument always is, and there was a time when Hannah declared she didn’t want to play the flute anymore because it was too hard.


But both persevered. And both have moved on to a new school, with a new music teacher and a new band. Their first concert with that new band at their new school was tonight, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.


They both looked like they were enjoying themselves, which really is more than half the battle–if they’re having fun playing their instrument, then they’re more likely to keep doing it. And their teacher, like the last one at their old school, seems to be very good at what he does.


It’s astounding, though, some of the differences between this year and last, though I can’t say that one was substantially better than the other, because each teacher has had to work with what they have. This band is easily twice and maybe two-and-a-half times the size of the band at the downtown school. But like the previous bands, they have that polish and as much finesse as a sixth grade band can have.


We’ve been through this development before: the sudden, rapid explosion of a group of kids from a beginning band to what most would consider to be a “real” band–sounding like what you expect from a school band. Last year was the start of it for the girls. This year jumped forward by so much, and I have to say that was probably largely because of the larger group.


It’s got to be exciting for them to play in a band like that. I don’t know how things sound when you’re in the middle of it–maybe it’s just a mess–but I’ll have to play it for them so they can see how good they sounded.


I’ll try to get some footage of the show up sometime soon for those who couldn’t make it.


See you tomorrow.

Hello. My name is Paul and I’m a Costco-holic. Or maybe not. I mean, if it means you aren’t one if you really find it to be a practical thing to have in your life, then maybe I’m not. But I do kind of obsess over the whole money savings thing, so maybe I am. And I do spend the intervening weeks between trips slowly making up a list of things we’ll need to get when we go next. So it’s all practical, right? That doesn’t make me an addict, right?




I have to admit that I enjoy shopping at Costco. Well, not the actual act of shopping there, because regardless of when I go, or whom I go with, the place always seems to be filled with idiots who can’t push their cart in a straight line and have no regard for any other living soul. But when I leave, and get home with my purchases, I start to feel the satisfaction of the trip.


Yes, I still go over my receipt after each trip and analyze it to see how much I saved by buying the 80 pack of fruit snacks, or 10 pounds of chicken breast at a time. This last weekend’s trip probably shaved $50 to $70 from the family grocery bill, and that makes me happy. But there’s also pride over things that I’ve bought that really are useful and well worth the effort.


Like the box of 500 Ziploc sandwich bags. This time, I got them for just about $5.50 for the whole box, and if the trend holds, I won’t need to buy any more for the rest of the school year. Those, thankfully, are packaged with 4 smaller boxes in the large box, or else using them would be painfully difficult.


And I’ll admit to it: back in October before the great Peanut Butter panic of ’11, I hoarded four huge jars of Skippy. I estimated they’d last until April–six months of fixed price, gooey, peanut-buttery goodness. We just started jar number three today…Right on schedule. I get six weeks of peanut butter for $4.


Then there’s the 12 boxes of Kleenex I got for $13. And if you know anything about my family, you must know this: we can go through Kleenex as if it were ketchup.


Or I can relish the 144 ounce jug of ketchup. Or…Just don’t ask. Except I will say it was only $4.50.


But my greatest find has to be the bag of flour. Okay, granted, it’s a 25 pound bag. And my container on the counter only holds about 5 pounds. But I bag the rest in gallon Ziploc bags (which conveniently hold about 5 pounds each) and stash them so I almost never run out of flour. Oh, and the price? $7. I could spend that on 10 pounds at Cub. Yay me!


I know what you’re thinking. It’s exactly what I was thinking before we dove in to the whole cult of Costco: what the hell am I going to do with 25 pounds of flour at a shot? Or a 8-pack box of Ghiradelli brownie mix? Or the box of 35 Fiber One bars?


The answers found me and have slapped me in the face and called me an idiot. We’re spending less on food as a family, spending less on things like garbage bags, storage bags, dishwashing soap and Kleenex, and we have to go and get it less. We have food for snacks, lunches, dinners for a couple of weeks, and it takes a while for my hungry tribe to work their way through it.


Stupid economies of scale.


We got the reminder in the other day that our membership is up in a couple of months. Jenni made fun of me and asked if we were going to renew the membership. It was a joke because we already knew we were going to re-up. Even before I got to our rebate check in the envelope.


So lucky you…You’ll get more Costco entries here for another year.


See you tomorrow.

The kids and I ran our errands early today, or at least right after they got back from the youth time at church. I don’t know how long the freezing drizzle had been happening, but while it wasn’t icing up the streets or sidewalks yet, enough of the stuff was going to pose a problem.


When I put my Netflix movies in the mailbox tonight, I tried out the front step: not really slick yet, but it was kind of that greasy, difficult to figure out slippery. The good news is that if (oh, how this would be nice, really) work and school were called off in the morning due to difficult roads, one of our errands was to Costco, so we’re loaded up with food for a while.


Not much to report to you all from here. With the exception of my nephew’s birthday on Saturday afternoon, the weekend was pretty normal for a change. Not to say last weekend’s long weekend was not welcome, but it is kind of nice to get back to the normal routine, schedule, and flow.


I didn’t watch much of the football games today: just no real interest in any of the teams involved. The Giants and New England have been there almost constantly for the last few years…Or at least it feels that way. And outside of their value as underdogs, Baltimore and San Francisco hold absolutely none of my attention. So I had it on in the background in the kitchen. And only for a little while, actually actively watched it downstairs.


I did get in two movies this weekend, Megamind as part of our traditional Friday night family night, and Take the Money And Run, one of Woody Allen’s older works. I actually really liked both, even though they were pretty much at opposite ends of the spectrum. At least they both were comedies…


But the laundry is finishing up, I’ve watched two movies this weekend (I know, quite an accomplishment!), the dishes are actually finishing up before the morning, and I’m heading to bed. We’ll see what awaits weather-wise in the morning. I’m hoping I can just return to my slumber, but I’m not counting on that much…


See you tomorrow.

Honestly, I think the car and I made the same sound when we each had to get going this morning–kind of a slow whine that quickly escalated to a growl.


But we both got started and went about our day.


Like most short weeks, this one feels longer than it should. I don’t know why. But for some reason, time practically stopped at work yesterday afternoon. I swear that I looked at the clock on three different occasions and it said 2:20 each time.


I’m sure some of it is being chained to the phone at work now. It isn’t my ideal position, but it supports all of us and I’m accepting it until I figure out what my next step is.


I’m amazed, though, at the calls that come in and I was able to avoid for four years. I had someone tell me today that she couldn’t remember her password and couldn’t log in, but she couldn’t tell me what she couldn’t log in to.


Maybe it’s the cold, making people stupid. Or maybe they had a hard time starting today, too.


See you tomorrow.

Nope. I have no idea what to write about. Oh sure, there are topics out there, but do I really want to tackle them?


Mitt Romney paying at a 15% income tax rate? Was anyone surprised by this, really? I’m sorry, but I think it’s been proven over and over again that the more money you have, the better you become at keeping other people, including the government, from taking any of it. If anything, I was stunned that it was that high–I mean, I think even Warren Buffett is paying less than that. And Gingrich coming out and claiming to pay 30% is pure bull flop. In a nation where GE can make billions in profit and still pay virtually nothing in corporate income taxes, anyone can juggle numbers enough to pay or not pay whatever you want.


What else is there today? The SOPA/PIPA blackout? Fine. It’s a horrible piece of legislation, and deserves to be struck down just on the grounds of being poorly written and overly vague. But while I’m glad to see some sort of outcry, I’m a little discouraged that Wikipedia shut down, Google covered their logo with a black box, and other sites either shut down for the day or offered up opinions in place of their normal content. I mean really, is the fact that Wikipedia or Boing Boing really going to turn the opinion of a Senator? For one thing, I’m reasonably certain those people almost never go on a computer on their own, let alone go to Wikipedia. And if they did, they’d also be checking their bank account balance to make sure the check from the Motion Picture Academy of America cleared. Let’s face reality on this one too, because the last two years in particular have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that our elected officials don’t give a rat’s ass about the people they’re supposedly serving. If they did, we’d have some momentum by now on other issues. But bucket loads of threats to not vote for them in their coming reelection campaigns are certain to turn some heads.


Other than that, illnesses are passing in Lathropworld, brutally cold weather is elbowing its way into the city–which always gives me reason for concern because the girls have a near complete absence of body fat; and for some reason, I suddenly got the itch today to start planning on some overall grand reconfiguration of the back yard. It’s gone mostly neglected for the past year, and I really want to get it under control and put my own touch to it. It didn’t help, though, that I found a $300 grill I’d like and a $200 fountain that would look great somewhere back there. Now to just make sure all of the elements fall into place together: ambition, drive, energy and finances. Ah, the sweet juggling act that is life.


Heading to bed. Stay warm, all.


See you tomorrow.

It seems that everyone who has been suffering with some malady or other is getting over it now. Jenni’s on the mend, as I mentioned yesterday. And the cat is much better now that she’s past the scare she put into me last weekend.


It’s been over a week now since the cat decided to have her abscess rupture. The vet took it all out, along with some necrotic tissue, and a substantial amount of money from our bank account. Since then, the cat has been healing and eating healthily. Though she was extremely annoyed by the cone, even though it was soft and floppy and would fold back easily. You see, the cone never let her sleep well, or she made it appear that way. I could watch her practically falling asleep on her feet because she didn’t like laying down with it on.


So on Friday, I pulled it off, confident that she wouldn’t be able to reach her side, let alone the wound, because she hadn’t been doing a very good job at cleaning herself lately. But on Saturday morning, as I was getting the kids ready to go to my grandfather’s birthday party, I heard the cat almost screaming, which was alarming for two reasons: it was a cry of pain, and second, I didn’t want her waking Jenni up.


I discovered that she’s gotten to her bandage, and, having gotten that off, was going after some laces that had been tied in with sutures and were holding down the bandage. Every time she’d grab it and pull, it would tug on the stitches, and she’d scream. But she wanted it off.


I got the laces off, but didn’t have time to get the sutures out (but the vet had told me earlier that I could probably take them out on my own as long as the wound wasn’t still open). So for the day, I put the cone back on. After we got back from the party, I took the sutures out and released Pippin from the cone.


Honestly, it’s the best I think she’s felt in months: she’s eating very well, jumping better the last couple of days, and resting very comfortably. So now, the only sign that something was wrong is the remnants of the wound on her side, and the big shaved spot.


Here’s hoping that’s the last of our health concerns for a while. It’s enough to deal with day-to-day life, thank you.


See you tomorrow.

So Jenni’s still recovering. Getting better, but it’s slow–much slower than I know she’d like, but she’s making progress. We got confirmation Friday that she does indeed have parvovirus, which helps only to the extent that we now know what she has. But the treatment continues to be absolutely nothing–let it run its course, and in a couple of weeks, she’ll be back to normal.


But because this has been running for a while, and has put her behind in her class, and just generally tired, and sore and wiped out to the point where longer car rides would just be too difficult, the kids and I made the voyage on Saturday to Rochester to wish my grandfather a happy birthday.


My grandfather turned 90 on Saturday–yes, his party was actually on his birth date. This is particularly remarkable, because he himself will tell you that he didn’t really live a healthy life and take care of himself like he should have for a stretch of years there.


But I’m so fortunate that my kids have had two great grandparents now live so long into their lives. Sure, the dynamic has been different–my grandfather was sort of a great teacher in my life more than anything else: he had an overriding curiosity and the fearlessness that would make him discover so many things that he would share with everyone.


The family was gathered for a birthday lunch on Saturday, with the requested centerpiece being memories from as many people as possible. And beyond the stories shared with the whole crowd were the stories shared at each table–especially the “men’s table,” where grandpa, dad, two uncles, one cousin and Patrick and I sat. There were a whole stream of recollections, all through lunch. And it struck me midway through the gathering: I hope that some day, my family could gather and share so many of their own memories of our life together. I hope my life isn’t so mundane as to not have any of those fun, unique, memorable times.


So, once again, happy birthday, grandpa. Thanks for sharing 42 of your years with me and my family.


Love to all.


See you tomorrow.

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