Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Battle of the Season Finales

Well, I have had adequate time to mull over the winner. But really it was decided about 3 seconds after LOST ended last Wednesday night. LOST had kicked butt. There was a lot of action in 24, and Jack is still Jack. Best action hero. Period.

But for 24, the last 20 mins of the season finale was like the last 6 hours of the season, unnecessary. Very anti-climactic. What was the point? Did we need to see Audrey again? Jack is not the "stare off into the sunset (OK, sunrise for this)" type of character. Now if he had shot himself, that would have been something.

LOST on the other hand. Brilliant. Tons of action. Jack (Shepard) finally lost and went postal on Ben. Kate was hot, as usual. Great plot. More questions then ever. And poor Charlie. At least there is life in flashback on this show. And now, flashforwards too. Again, brilliant. Anyone else notice that the last two seasons now have ended with clips with Penny?

Cooking With Gas

A suggestion from this Father: Cook with your kids. Start early. Even if you start with cereal and work up from there, it’s a good idea. Of course it requires attention and supervision but the benefits far outweigh the needed requirements. You cover so much ground with them, self-reliance/living skills, communication, following directions, math, science, and English.

Stop and think about it. Cooking is a needed skill. You can't (or maybe I should say, "you shouldn't" live on mac 'n cheese, pizza, and fast food forever. Even during the bachelor years after college, the fast food gets old quickly. As an added bonus you increase your appeal if you can cook for a woman. You think I landed Demi with just my good looks and charm? (Well, there is the whole Vibe thing but that is a whole other article") You don't have to become Emeril Lagasse. There are some very basic dishes that are not time consuming, healthy, and enjoyable, that can keep your menu as varied or as regimented as you want.

Following directions is something everyone needs to learn to do. Whether it is directions on a map to get somewhere, instructions to set the clock on the VCR (I know, I am dating myself and fall behind the techies who love their TIVO and DVR's but I imagine there is some limited programming there too), or executing a zone blitz, everybody needs to follow directions. You always hear the horror stories of the "some assembly required" toys/projects on Christmas Eve, where the parents get half way through the set up and realize they inserted Tab A into Slot C instead of Slot B, and it botched the whole thing. I find myself at work, pulling out my hair because I have to deal with folks that can't follow directions (or are too lazy to follow).

Lab science is all about the measurements. You can cover the metric system in cooking too. But really, why bother? Besides your high school lab and Canada, who uses meters any more? It's a toss up which is more obsolete, the metrics system or Brittany Spear's career (or Paris Hilton, you choose). But you will never create the secret recipe for Col. Sanders Extra Crispy Fried Chicken unless you know the exact measurements and can duplicate.

The boys and I, for Mother's Day, created a dry rub for some Rib Eye steaks. Truth be told, I took certain liberties with a recipe from the Food Network website ( by Bobby Flay. I had never used a dry rub. The boys and I crushed herbs, measured out teaspoons of this and tablespoons of that, and mixed them all together. I bet we used 20 different herbs and spices. The result? A triumph (if I do say so myself). But the kids. They were great. They really got into the measuring. It can be tedious trying to level out teaspoons, but they were following directions and using exact measurements. Everybody won.

***End Part I - To Be Continued***

State of Love and Trust

The loyalty factor in picking friends (see "Picking Friends" and "Friends 'til The End") dovetails into the next trait in picking friends, which is trust. I have told my boys that you have to trust your friends and in turn, they have to trust you. But trust, as we all know, is something you have to earn. That's a tough concept for a kid, so you have to keep reinforcing it. We talk about it a lot. Simple stuff. I tuck the oldest into bed anywhere from 7:30 to just before 8 PM. If I say good night at 7:45 and he wants to read until 8 PM, fine. Lights out at 8 PM though and not a minute more. I can here his footsteps downs stairs. It didn't take long to sink it. The first time 8:05 came and the lights were on, I went back in. I told him that tomorrow night, he had to go to be 5 mins earlier. Typically for an 8 yr old, he gave me the "I forgot" speech. That's normal. I explained that I trust him to keep his word to turn the lights out at 8 PM and it's his responsibility to remember to keep track of time. I hardly think twice now about lights out time.

One of the phrases that I hope sticks with the boys is "always keep your promises." Your word is everything. It's the only thing you really have to give. It comes up while reading a lot during story time at night. So the frequency factor is there.

But start small. Like the lights out rule. Give them a chance to achieve small victories, and let those victories pile up. You will see the results and reap the benefits.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Eggs and Eggshells

I got to hold Tony's new baby, BJ, today. It really took me back. I hadn't held a baby that young and small in a long time. You forget how little they are. I found myself reminiscing about when my boys were just born. I really enjoyed the moment. Both for the reminiscing and introduction to my bud's new boy.

I realized that I didn't have that fear that I first had when Caz was first born. That fear that I was holding an egg and please, just don't drop it. I was careful with BJ of course, but I figured out that I gained that Dad experience. I knew the a new baby was fragile, but a lot tougher than you would think. It was like riding a bike and I just slipped back into the cradling mode. Actually I used a method I figured out on my boys. I keep the baby perpendicular to my chest, on his back, with his head in my hand. His back resting on my thighs, I use my arms as guard rails on either side of him. That way I can look into his face and just watch. Tony may have figured that one out already but if not, maybe I taught him something new.

Tony had a grin that just wouldn't go away. He was doting on his new son. I recognized that grin immediately. It's the same one I had. And still do have. Don't worry Tony. It doesn't go away.

Boys Will Be Boys

Father and son(s) bonding time is very special. Take the time to do something together. It's a great way to work on your relationship and connect. At the same time, it allows Mom some much needed alone time. Everybody wins.

The boys and I are having Boys Weekend this weekend, while Demi is visiting Nan in NY. The world is our oyster. We can do man stuff: spitting, cursing and scratching, Oh My. We can use power tools. (Well, OK, maybe not power tools) We can eat out of cans. We can pee on trees. Just kidding, Demi.

I took them to see Spiderman 3 tonight. I didn't do my usual pre-screening diligence, but any reservation I had about it's appropriateness were unfounded. It was the previews I had to worry about. The Bourne Ultimatum. Some artsy film about two friends that had different roles in Vietnam. And I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. The King of Queens paired with Adam Sandler. I have to pull their baseball hats down over their eyes and ear-muff them both.

Whether it's a game of chess, a hike, story time, or 20 questions, I enjoy the alone time with the boys. Having to commute to work an hour each way, and work all day, leaves me with little time during the week to spend with the boys. So when I can sneak in extra time, I consider it a bonus.

Season Finales

2 hours of 24 and 2 hours of LOST coming up this week to wrap up the season. Can't wait.

Besides Jack Bauer being the best bad *ss on TV, I need to see how this ends up. I have to wonder if the last 6 hours was worth it. After the nukes were recovered, is this all anti-climactic? What's next for Jack? Will he survive?

And LOST. You know Locke will be back. I think they gave away too much in the previews. The women Charlie stumbled upon? I think they are either Dharma survivors or rebels that oppose Ben. Just a guess of course. The LOSTies fight back.

Another Club Member

Congratulations to my buddy, Karch. Another baby born this week. A little girl. I hope Karch will give me some material for this blog, about raising a daughter. All the best my friend.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


My youngest son, 6, Coco, has recently made me promise to tell him the Sox score, each night when I check on him and his brother, when I finally turn in. Most times, I whisper the score, kiss him on the head, pull the covers up for him. And leave. Last night he actually perked up when I told him the Sox won, 9-3.

"Same score as last night" in a hoarse whisper.

"Pretty close. It was 9-2 last night. 4 home runs again."



At this point, he's somewhat awake (eyes are at half mast), so I suggest he take a trip to the Loo. As we are walking the conversation continues:
"How many runs scored on Papi's HR?"

"Who was on base?"



I wish I had the command of the game that he has when I was 6. I certainly don't try to force it on him. But he and his brother ask questions. So I answer. That's really the key with any learning. You have to take the time and answer their questions. You also have to make it age appropriate. That's not to say, talk to them in baby talk or kid talk. But make sure the explanation is something they can relate to their frame of reference.

We had a discussion a year or two ago about centrifugal force. I started with an explanation about a top spinning and then a sharp turn in a car. I thought that was the end of the discussion when Caz asked. "So why don't we fly off the Earth because it's constantly spinning?" That lead to a whole conversation on gravity. Thank you Schoolhouse Rocks! for giving me a good idea on answering that one using Sir Isaac, an apple, and some rhyming.

Mother's Day 2007

Of course, all Dads recognize the importance of Mom's. So Happy Mother's Day Demi!

And one of my expecting Dads became a Dad today 1:06 PM. A 6 lbs. 6 oz. baby boy. Congrats Tony my boy. Welcome to the club.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Moving On Up

My oldest son is 8 years old, so he falls into what our Youth Baseball system calls AA. This is one step up from T-Ball, so the coaches pitch to the kids. There is no stealing bases, walking of batters (although this is not always the case, you can only pitch so many without holding up the game), or keeping of official scores. The kids like to keep score in their heads, but it's not all that accurate. You play three outs, but if you bat through your whole line-up, that's it. There are more rules, but you get the gist of it. It's not hard core baseball yet. Nor should it be (more on that later).

Again, it’s the next level up from T-Ball, which is also known as follow the bouncing ball. In T-Ball, you tend to see a herd of kids going after the ball. So AA is really about kids learning the game. What is an out? What is a hit? How do you run the bases? You can over run first base. AA is where kids should be learning the basic fundamentals of baseball. So this year, is night and day from last year. Last year, all the kids played were games. You can only teach the kids so much during the games. There were a lot of kids too, so a coach ended up taking 6-8 kids each inning in the field, way out in the outfield to work on stuff. But the kids had a short attention span and wanted to see what was happening in the game.

This year, the teams are holding actual practices. The first two weeks are actually all practices. A coach can actually run some drills and specifically target areas of improvement. I think this is a much better format for what is really kids first foray into organized baseball. Now you can only practice so much at this age too, before the kids get bored. So of 90 minutes, 45-60 are drills, and the remaining time is a scrimmage against another team. Something they did get right last year is a skills clinic every Saturday. That is happening again this year.

Again, balance comes into play. At what age do you start getting competitive? What skills do you teach kids? How much of the game can a 7 or 8 year old absorb. I am glad that someone took notice from last year to make improvements for this year. You want the kids to have fun, but they do need to work a bit to get some of the fundamentals under their belt.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Head Scratcher

Something for the: "What is this world coming to?" category

There are times that really make you wonder what kind of world we are preparing our kids for. I waited years for my season allergy medicine to become over the counter (OTC), instead of prescription only. I only need it sporadically in the spring and fall. When it went OTC, I would grab a few boxes (15 count/each box) to get me through the season. I just went to stock up for my spring fling and found that the tablets were no longer stocked on the shelves. You had to take a card with a picture of the box, up to the front counter. There you had to supply your driver license, so they could log you into a book where you had to sign your name. I asked if I could get two boxes but was told I could not. The 15 count box put me at my limit of 350 mgs per week.

Yes, some chemist discovered that you could crush up my allergy medicine and make crank or meth, or what ever street drug they concocted with it. The result? I get carded and have to make multiple stops to the store to pick up my seasonal supply. Thank you drug traffickers. Maybe if there was more Nobel Prize money to go around, this stuff wouldn't happen. Like each of the World Wars, the Drug War has just promoted more innovation and invention. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Aye, ca rumba. Why couldn't’t' they just stick with the Coke can pipes and gravity bongs?