Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - A Year In Review

I've tried to write this year in review a few times without it sounding too maudlin.  Speaking candidly, 2011 is a year I am glad to have over and I am looking forward to 2012 and the promise that it brings.

As the year draws to a close, I have weathered some significant storms.  There were moments when I thought, 'Can there really be anything else coming?'  Some things will take more time to play out fully, but I think that at the end of 2011, things are looking a bit brighter.

We all know the hard things that have happened, but there have been some wonderful moments as well.  Emma and John are the stars of the circus that is my life. They have been super though all of the changes we have seen this year and I am so happy for all of their achievements.  Emma is a happy and determined little ballerina and John makes the most of his talent on the baseball field every day.  The best times I have had this year were watching them do the things that they love.  The kindness they show each other and to their family and friends makes me wonder how I got so lucky.  I am lucky to know a lot of great kids, but they are the best of the best!

My brother Matt and Heidi got married this summer in a beautiful place that we all love.  I was honored to speak for them on their special day.  It is without any irony in the world that I say that they deserve each other. I will always be grateful for advice and support he has given me over the years. She is a beautiful person who I am so happy to have as a sister.

My parents and sister and rest of the family have been with me at every moment along the way and the kids and I have appreciated the gifts, kindnesses and the places to sleep as we have made our personal adjustments.  They say blood is thicker than water and this has been a year where I have fond that be be a very true statement.

That is not to say that I could have done it without my friends.  You guys (and ladies) have been an amazing well of support, helping me move in the heat, feeding me, entertaining me and the kids, checking in by text and email and dropping by to say hello, you have made things fun for me again in a way that I cannot begin to thank you for fully.

I'm most sad for the friends I have lost this year, both for me and for my kids.  We are who we are today in large part because of all that they have meant to us over the years.  However, I am also very happy to have met some new friends int he last few months.  With every change there is opportunity and I have appreciated getting to know some new people.

While things have been difficult at times, I have to say it's been a great year in a lot of ways.  I have re-discovered my writing voice, both here on the site and in some other work I am doing.  At my core I am a writer and that re-birth has been an exciting journey.  As someone said to me a few months ago, 'You write better sad.'  I don't know about better, but I certainly write MORE.  I've also been able to take a lot of photos this year, mostly of the kids, but also of places I have visited, games I have covered and generally everything that is around me. 

Sometimes I write, sometimes I take pictures.  Either way, I am trying to be more than a journalist of my life. I appreciate all that you friends have done to be part of my life this year. 

So as the lyrics of 'What are You Doing New Year's Eve' play though my head, I wish you all a wonderful New Years Eve and I hope that your 2012 is fun, exciting, safe and prosperous.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Annual Pesotski Family Christmas Letter

Every year about this time 200-300 Christmas cards and letters go out from my parents' cute little Cape Cod in Brookhaven, PA.  This little tradition grew a few years ago to include a photos page of the kids and grandkids (and granddog's) activities for the year.  I have been an indifferent supporter of the letter process most years.  Looking through the pile of cards at my sister's on Christmas Eve, I realized just how big this Christmas letter phenomenon is.  Dozens of letters were in the stack, from 6 pages down to a paragraph or two.  Seems like pretty much everyone publishes an annual family update.

As a guy who basically does that every day in this space, I get that.  The penny finally dropped.  People want to stay up to date with their friends, and some folks don't stay in touch any other way, even with Facebook and personal websites.

This year, my mom floated the idea of a 'greener' approach to the letter next year.  I suggested creating a website for the letter and photos next year and giving people a link to the site in the cards they send.  If the USPS is still in business next year, that would still mean 300 or so cards with stamps, but would save about 900 sheets of paper and gallons of ink!

So in an incremental step toward greening this Pesotski tradition, I present below the 2011 Pesotski Family Christmas Letter.  The photos page will be posted as soon as I figure out how to get it on the site easily!



Happy Christmas 2011

Hello family and friends,

Again this year our son Matt and his bride Heidi headline our annual letter. On July 7, 2011, Heidi and Matt were married on the lawn in Kennebunk Beach, Maine. The day was sunny and warm, the dog, children and even the adults were well behaved. Following the short ceremony, we walked to the beach to take photos in front of an incredible sunset and were invited onto a deck overlooking the water to finish the picture-taking. Heidi was a beautiful bride and Matt wore the widest smile we’ve ever seen. Both immediate families and Matt’s godmother Judy Flannery attended. We feasted on Maine lobster, steak and chicken followed by a delicious cake with blueberry filling made by the bride. We danced to a playlist that Matt put together.  The tables under a tent canopy were decorated with wildflowers that we’d picked at a nearby farm market, and Heidi carried a bouquet of daisies and wildflowers. The canopy was decorated with huge paper flowers in various pastel shades, made by the bride and her family. Matt and Heidi for the first time were able to spend almost all of the two week vacation in Maine with us. Heidi’s family stayed for a week in a nearby town and we all enjoyed hanging out together and getting to know one another. It was a wonderful vacation.

In August, we spent a week in Cape May Point, joined by Susan’s brother Bill and sister Marianne. Carin’s family stayed nearby with our friends the Ranson family. Chris, John, Emma, Matt and Heidi all joined us for a few days. We celebrated Carin and Kevin’s tenth anniversary with dinner at a Cape May restaurant.

Flash back to the present: it’s cold outside, and we even had a light dusting of snow Saturday night. On Sunday, as their wedding anniversary gift to us, our children and grandchildren put up and decorated our Christmas tree, train and miniature houses. This year the grandchildren were very much part of the activity, crawling through the cubbyhole where the decorations are stored to locate various decorations and covering the tree with ornaments and candy canes. December 14 was our 43rd anniversary; on that day we went with Carin’s family to see Santa Claus, had a celebratory dinner at Pinocchio’s Pizza and took a horse and carriage ride around the nearby town of Media. Last weekend we along with our sister-in-law Paula and her friend Nick enjoyed a Victorian Christmas dinner at a little British-style tea house in Media called Tea and Cakes. On the following afternoon, Susan took grandchildren Andrew and Ellie to lunch with Mrs. Claus at that same tea room.

During the year, Susan enjoyed working in the garden for most of the spring and summer. She planted more perennials this year because they come back the following years, which lessens the amount of planting each year. Spending time with her grandchildren, her favorite activity, still occupies much of her time. Three days a week she gets Andrew off to school and takes Ellie to preschool, playdates, lunch, and other activities and then greets Andrew when he returns on the bus. Aunt Heidi has taken over on Grandma’s two days off each week. Susan spent several weeks in Georgia this fall. She planned a short visit with both sisters, but stayed longer because Marianne had a serious lung infection that was very resistant to treatment.

Ron has taken up baking this year, producing cakes, cookies, breads and scones so far and amazing most friends and family members with his new interest and ability. He has been visiting Williams-Sonoma and other cooking emporia, in person and online, and has acquired quite an arsenal of ingredients and equipment. His grandchildren have been very impressed with the princess birthday cakes and Christmas tree cake. Susan has assisted him in many of these endeavors and we’ve enjoyed our working collaboration as well as eating the results. Ron has also resumed his hobby of photography with his Christmas present, a Nikon camera. He is retiring from constable work in January, and wisely found new ways to keep busy and enjoy himself. Ron was hoping for re-election to one last term as a state constable, but he and other Democrats in Brookhaven were not re-elected. After thirty years in office he will miss it but his new hobbies and his interest in genealogy, history, current events and his grandchildren will keep him busy.

Kids and grandkids: Chris, John and Emma moved to a small 1800s era house in Medford, NJ in August. His travel time to work at University of the Arts in Philadelphia is longer, but he lives closer to John and Emma’s schools and activities. Susan happily had some sleepovers at the new house last summer so she could hang out with John and Emma while Chris worked. Chris limited his travel to family vacations and a chance to broadcast the Division III basketball Final Four this year. John was 11 years old in June and is in 6th grade this year. He excels in school but his great love is baseball. He would play year round if he could, and he enjoys attending or watching Phillies games with Chris and with his relatives. Emma turned 8 in November, is enjoying school, friends, fixing her hair, dressing fashionably and taking ballet lessons. She happily added soccer to her activities this year. Chris learned enough about soccer to add helping coach her team to his resume that also includes volunteering as a baseball and basketball coach this year.  You can follow their family blog at www.cavalier92.com.

Carin is teaching 6th grade at Springton Lake Middle School, newly chairing their Language Arts Department and coordinating the Academic Intervention team for 6th grade students who require support. Kevin continues teaching gym at Devereux, a school for students with special needs. Andrew turned eight in October and is in second grade. He enjoys school and although he still prefers recess, gym and art, he’s become a very good reader and better at math than his gene pool would have predicted. Andrew is quite busy with baseball, soccer, basketball, and Cub Scouts, as is Kevin, who coaches or helps out with all of his teams and is looking forward to a spring camping trip.  Ellie celebrated her fifth birthday in November and is in her final year of preschool at the Wallingford Co-op. She loves her teacher Miss Sue (who also taught Andrew), her girlfriends at school and covering the house with her artwork, notes, and projects. Ellie visits with Grandma and Pop after school and loves trips to the library and reading books with any available party. She can often be overheard chattering and singing to herself, animals, and dolls.  When it’s quiet, it’s not uncommon to find Ellie curled up asleep, one hand on her very tolerant cat, “The Girl.” 

Matt and Heidi have embarked on a kitchen renovation that is almost complete, and they’re very happy with the work done by family friend Rob “Bopper” Ranson. They have new floors, bright white custom cabinets and wainscoting, built in benches and new appliances.  Their black lab Sadie is full grown but still lovable and frisky. On the days that Heidi takes care of Ellie, Ellie asks her to “go get that Black Labradog” and they have a great time together. Editing Endovascular Today is still Matt’s primary job that takes him around the country and occasionally abroad to meet with doctors who practice vascular interventions. The publication continues to do well, and this year, he was recognized as one of the company’s original employees at its 10-year anniversary. In his spare time, Matt still writes for the The700Level.com, the sports blog he and his friend Enrico sold to Comcast SportsNet last year. He enjoys covering all the exciting events of one of the greatest eras in Philadelphia sports history. Heidi’s web design business has continued to grow this year.

We’re enjoying our busy life and wonderful family and friends. We’d love to hear from each of you and to get together in the New Year. Contact Susan on Facebook or at supesotski@yahoo.com.

Happy Holidays and a great new year to all!  

 Peace and Love,

 Ron & Susan

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gone

Every day there is less around to remind me of you

The ordinary things that summoned you to mind

Are used up or fall to pieces and are swept away

And your existence seems all that much harder to prove

I reach for the phone to call the familiar numbers

And realize I can’t.  You are gone. The call won’t go through

How quickly it happened, a short slide and then

One day here, one day gone.

And I wonder, really wonder

What might have been

What will be

And if you’re doing ok


Getting Things Done

After a day of cookies and hospitals and grandparents and visiting a new kitten yesterday, today is decidedly a get things done day.  It's amazing how energized two zooming kids and a good night of sleep can make you feel.

Kids Building
We had a great breakfast of locally-raised eggs and local sausage, run a bunch of laundry, gone grocery shopping, paid the bils, cleaned up the Christmas debris and just finished lunch.  This afternoon we are hosting a pair of playdates, hanging some curtains in the kids' rooms, building Legos and maybe doing a bit of baking with the girls.

We've got nothing scheduled for tonight, so maybe we will make some dinner, put in some movies and see how things go after that!

For me, today is the essence of my winter break.  Getting some things done, enjoying some time with the kids and eating well. For those of you who have to work, I'm sorry.  I hope that it's at least a bit slower than usual.  For those of use off for a few more days, enjoy!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A New Day

image from www.flickr.com  image from www.flickr.comIt started as just a hint of pink over the trees across the creek.

Then built into a glow in the trees that became a ball of orange.

Unfortunately, before the sun came over the trees, the clouds rolled in and all we got was a bright gray morning.

Still, the bright gray is better than the cold darkness and we've got the day uimage from www.flickr.comnderway!


Monday, December 26, 2011

A Day Close To Home

The kids and I spent the day close to each other today, enjoying being a family.  We read books, played Wii, straightened up a bit, visited with friends, laughed about our good fortune and cried about the things that have changed.

It was a full day.

I can't say today was exactly the day we were hoping for, but it was the day we had and I have to be thankful for the life we are living rather than that than the life we don't or can't live.  For those who have been so important to us over the last few days, weeks and months, thank you so much, we are looking forward to many more great times.

Happy Boxing Day!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Wore Her Out!

 


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Happily Trashed!

It took about 30 minutes, but all the presents are unwrapped and the stockings are down and we're pawing through the piles of loot. Santa did a good job here according to the kids!


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I Think Santa Found the New House

image from www.flickr.comSanta found the new house and made his stop last night.  The presents are arranged, the stockings are stuffed and "A Christmas Story" is on TV.

All we need now are the kids!!!

I hope your Christmas morning has been as festive as mine has been restful.  For those of you with young kids, I trust that you are enjoying a bit of downtime before the next round of visits begins.  For those of us with quiet households this morning, enjoy it while it lasts, the visiting and travel start very soon.  For those cooking, please don't overcook the turkey!


Merry Christmas

The sun has just peeked over the trees here in Medford and I am enjoying some cookies and juice and the last moments of quiet I will likely have for a while.  This is the first time since 1994 that I have awakened on Christmas morning with no children or significant other to share the sunrise with, but it stings less than I thought it might.image from www.flickr.com

I have a bit more to do to get ready for the kids to get here this afternoon.  We will have some time to ourselves for presents and then it is back to Delco for Christmas dinner with friends and family.  Last night was a nice evening in Swarthmore, but I can't wait to spend some time with John and Emma, hear about their Christmas Eve and watch them tear into their piles. 

Today is a day for the kids, a day for us to love and enjoy each other's company.  It's a day for sharing what we have and for thinking about those we love and those who have gone.

Enjoy your time today, because it is but a fleeting moment in your life and sadly the Christmas spirit seems to fade all too quickly. I'd like to say that I will take the time to treat every day like Christmas.  But tomorrow we will be off into the maelstrom of everyday life again, with work pressures, school projects, sports practices, family matters and bills come due.  We will do the best we can to be good people, but the spark of the Christmas holiday will sometimes be hard to find.

I wish you and yours the merriest of Christmases.  Thank you for all the happiness you have given to me and my family this year and I hope that you enjoy today and keep the spirit of Christmas with you all year.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa Stop Here

SantaStopEmma's got her sign up to make sure Santa know we have moved.  The tree is lit, the presents are wrapped and I am at loose ends trying to figure out what to do with myself for the first Christmas Eve I can remember where I really have nothing to do to get ready. 

Later today I will be headed over to Delco to have our traditional Christmas Eve dinner with my family and friends, but for now I am enjoying a quiet morning here in Medford.

For many of us, Christmas Eve is the big holiday.  The kids love the gifts and the unwrapping and the frenzy of Christmas, but for me Christmas Eve, with its traditions and last-minute thoughtfulness is the essence of the holiday season. 

I hope you get things wrapped up early today and enjoy your time later.  Merry Christmas Eve!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Visions of Sugarplums Dance in Their Heads

 

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All is prepared.  There is still some wrapping to do, but for the most part, it's all waiting now.  And trying to behave!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Stockings Were Hung By the Chimney With Care

image from www.flickr.comWell, we don't have a chimney, but we did it old school on the railing like when I was a kid! We've just about wrapped up the decorating here in Medford.  There's some wrapping to do today and a quick run out for 2 small gifts, but otherwise, everything's set!

How are your preparations going?


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

T'was the Week Before Christmas

It's been a busy week and the real fun is just beginning!  The kids and I spent the weekend enjoying the company of our friends and family, both locally and over in Delco.  The kids did their shopping for me, we decorated my parents' tree and caught up with some friends and the cousins.

This week has been a flurry of shopping and holiday prep, with some cool kid stuff in the middle.  I think I have finally wrapped up the shopping with one small possible exception.  I finished up the family holiday photo page and contributed some edits to the update letter that my parents send with their Christmas cards. 

Emma had her holiday dance showcase on Monday and we enjoyed a night out tonight.  Tomorrow is my last day with the kids before Christmas, and we still have a few things to do, but I am trying to stay relaxed about the holidays and play things as they come.

There's a lot more to come for the week.  I'm hopeful I have turned the corner on yet another cold.  I've got some work to get done tomorrow and then a couple of days to myself before Christmas Eve. 

I'm too tired to link or post photos tonight, but there are some coming, I promise!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Special Time With My Princess!

My Christmas vacation has started and one of the best parts is a little extra time every morning with Emma. Today it's a little breakfast at Dunkin Donuts!

We had a great weekend with so many family and friends and this is a wonderful way to start our week!

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Fantastic Four - Christmas Vacation

Today is my last day of work for 2011.  One of the benefits of working in higher education is the 2 week vacation around Christmas and New Year's. 

It's a great two weeks and gives me a lot of time off when most of the rest of the world is running hither and yon, trying to grab up last minute gifts and bottles of wine to take to holiday get together.  I get a week before Christmas to do all that I need to get done and then the next week to wind down.  There isn't any money to go somewhere warm this year, so I will be hanging close to my base.  I know you all don't get two weeks off, but if you did ...

What Four Things Are You Going To Do On Christmas Vacation?

1. Finish up shopping.  Yep.  Despite my earlier forays out into the shopping venues of Pennsylvania and South Jersey, I have procrastinated.  I have to make sure the piles are about the same and get a few more gifts and stocking stuffers.

2. Family Events.  While we won't have family visitors from afar this year, the locals will still gather.  My sister is the go-to person this year I guess.  I will be Swarthmore bound for Christmas Eve.  The Medford house is nice and cozy, but not really set up for large-scale family gatherings like the Mount Laurel and Moorestown houses were.

3. Lazy Days.  I have the kids a lot over Christmas Vacation, so there will be a lot of time spent just watching them play with their new stuff from Santa. 

4. Something for me.  If it stays nice, maybe some hiking.  If it's not so nice, I will have to find another way to stay out of trouble.  In the past I would always tackle some home improvement project.  I don't need to do that this year, but the days without the kids around can be tough, so I need to take some time for 'me' things!

So what are your Christmas (winter) Vacation plans? 

Have a great time this weekend!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

John's Tree Is Up

image from www.flickr.comFollowing his review of the latest Discover Channel Gold Rush, John got his little green Christmas tree put up tonight.  He took a good bit of time 'fluffing' the tree, as he's been taught,  to make it appear as large as possible.  He spent a bit less time clearing the area though, deciding it was best on his dresser among this technology and trophies.

Nevertheless, he is quite happy with the result and also feels that the tree complements his lava lamp. 'It's sweet!' was his proclamation.  Unlike his sister, he wants the tree off for sleeping. 

image from www.flickr.comEmma spent her free time tonight extending her Christmas list.  From the little girl who last week could not think of anything to ask Santa for, the list sure has grown.  Emma also kept me company as I cleaned up from dinner, playing holiday computer games on the family computer.  They all seem to have hideous graphics and mindless pseudo-holiday music, but she was quietly enraptured until I saw her head drooping and dispatched her to bed.

As for me?  Two days down, Only three work days left for 2011!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Emma and Her Little Tree

image from www.flickr.comEmma has been dying to put her tree up, so today I made sure we had a few minutes in between running all over Burlington County to get her little pink tree set up in her room.  Last Christmas it didn't come down until July!

John hasn't found the time to put his tree up yet, but he always makes sure the first thing he does when he comes home is to turn on the image from www.flickr.com
lights for the big tree in the living room.  My guess is he will get around to putting his up tomorrow.  He was too busy texting his buddies today after returning to the land of cell phone service.

I can only imagine what the Chinese prison laborers think as they are stuffing these little trees in boxes so we can buy them for $5 and cover them with little glitter covered foam balls!


Winter Is Here

image from www.flickr.comWhile the official first day of winter doesn't happen until the winter solstice on December 22 this year, today is the first day that it has felt like winter to me.  The deciding factor for me was the frost on the windshield this morning.  I'm pretty sure that I have not had frost on my windshield since March of 2009, a pretty good run, for sure, but a pretty stark wake-up call at 7 this morning.  Ahh to have a garage again, oh but then you have to shovel the driveway...

How far can we be from this scene?

We had a very mild fall, with temperatures in the 60s as late as 10 days ago.  I Even given the freak Halloween snow storm that his much of the Philadelphia region, I still have not really felt the cold until today.  As loathe as I usually am to bundle up, I went with gloves and a scarf today, but could not bear to put on a watch cap yet. 

Only 68 days until pitchers and catchers!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Winding Down

It's a few minutes before the season finale of Boardwalk Empire, signalling the end of my weekend.

Friday night was a fun time, drinks, dinner and dancing with old friends out in Philly.  I will be doing a review of one of the new spots we hit.  Saturday was a day of college basketball and football, and a night with some new friends.

I've been looking for curtains for my room for a few weeks.  Emma vetoed the last set after I hung them with a disgusted shake of her head and the remark, 'Daddy sometimes you have no clue.'

So after the Eagles' big win over Miami today, I returned the rejected curtains, and picked out another set that at least matches my comforter.  After a few hours of grocery and Christmas shopping, I waved the white flag, but not before crossing two more names off the list.

After making myself some comfort food, I am now relaxing on the couch by the lights of the Christmas tree awaiting the last Boardwalk Empire for 9 months.  Sigh.


Friday, December 09, 2011

Friday Fantastic Four - Outrageous Christmas Gifts

It's holiday shopping season.  I can tell because the mail guy at work is delivering boxes to every cubicle and the roads around every shopping mall are clogged from dawn to midnight.

So since you are out looking for ways to stimulate the economy, I thought I would give you my Christmas List.

What are your top four fantasy Christmas gifts for 2011?

  1. The CR-V is getting a little long in the tooth, so I think a new car would be a good idea.  The Noble M600 isn't the fastest car in the world, but it's int he top 10 and is super slick to look at!
  2. My Dell Laptop is 5 years old and also headed to the scrap pile someday soon.  I think a nice Toshiba 3D Blu-Ray laptop should be just what I need to do the blog for the coming year.
  3. I might be the last guy in America without HDTV.  It's time to change that!  I know my brother loves his Toshiba, but for me the TV to get is a Panasonic!
  4. Phinally - A pair of Phils season tickets are the way to go for my final gift request for the year.  The team is in flux right now, but who doesnt like going down to the park on a warm summer evening?

So what gifts are on your fantasy Christmas list this year?

Everyone have a great weekend!


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Weird Kids

Somewhere along the line my kids started eating their pasta piled on top of their garlic bread. They also always require mac and cheese to be served with ham so they can dip the ham in the cheese sauce.

Weird kids! But no weirder than I am I guess, given that I like my red wine chilled way cooler than standard and my beer far warmer than is generally served here in the states.

Got any food oddnesses of your own?


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Monday, December 05, 2011

Holiday Lessons

We just had a great weekend preparing for Christmas.  The tree is up, Santa came to Swarthmore, the decorations are complete in Brookhaven and Emma wrote her letter to Santa.  Even battling a cold, it was a really nice weekend!

The preparation, shopping, cooking and parties make December a hectic, but happy time of year. Remembering past holidays with fondness is a huge part of why we all look forward to the season every year. Snow on Christmas Eve, caroling in the neighborhood, spiked egg nog, opening presents by the fire and seeing folks from far and wide are all great memories that will last a lifetime.

Still, the holidays can be hard sometimes. People who are missing from are lives feel all the more missing at this time of year.  Old wounds open afresh when you look around the table and notice the faces who aren't there as well as the family and friends who are.  Old traditions can be a little bit hard when the people who made them important are no longer in your life.

The kids and I were reflecting a bit on people who are no longer with us anymore as we unpacked our holiday items this weekend.  Emma especially had a hard time.  She missed the chance to say goodbye to some people who left us this year and it's hard for her to close out those feelings. 

With my heart in my throat and biting back tears, I had to tell my little princess, "Sometimes we don't get to say goodbye.  That's why we need to make sure the people we love know it every single day."


Sunday, December 04, 2011

Emma Does Some Writing

image from www.flickr.comEmma has managed to find a quiet moment after the happy chaos of last night to begin writing her letter to Santa.  It's a really sweet moment for me as a dad so be sitting her happily sipping my coffee and watching her.

It's in the noises and movements of children that there is peace.  I hope that you are all enjoying your time with family and friends as we go through the annual parties, gatherings and rituals leading up to the holidays. 

While the kids play in Swarthmore, Uncle Kevin and I are headed over to Brookhaven to put up the lights at my parents.  Then it's back to Medford for some snuggling time on the couch in front of the tree.

Have a great day!


Friday, December 02, 2011

A Dose of Perspective

I took my son to his friend's father's funeral tonight.  As tough as it was, I'm glad I did, because it was the kind of night that forced me to pull my head out of my ass and realize that my petty little problems today (and generally really) were nothing in the face of what some others have been going through.

Yeah, it was a bad day.  I'm sick, there were some kid issues, it was a struggle most of the day.

But it all paled in comparison to the anguish of a sweet little 10 year old girl crying at her father's funeral.  As her father's friends reminded us what a doting father she had and my son and his best friend looked back and forth at each other and the casket, I was chastened.  These little kids had lost their dad after a long fight with cancer.  I have a cold and some parenting problems.

Tonight we honored the life of a good man and a good father.  I hope his children always remember how much he loved them. 


Friday Fantastic Four - Home Sick

Well I have been laid out by a cold, so after toughing it out yesterday at work,  I am huddled under a blanket at home today.  Hence, today's illness-themed Fan 4.

What four things are part of your home sick routine?

  1. Won Ton Soup - This is my version of my grandfather's 'Jewish penicillin.'  If I was home sick as a kid, he would make a big pot of chicken soup from scratch.  It worked, but I never got the recipe, so I swear by won ton soup.
  2. Iced Tea - Decaffinated Red Rose tea by the gallon.  It keeps me hydrated and I can still sleep.
  3. The Couch - I have to get out of bed when I am sick.  I usually rest and relax on the couch, where I can at least feel like I got out of bed even if I am not doing anything else.
  4. Patheticness - Yep, I am pathetic when I am sick.  I admit it.  I got through yesterday with the help of Sudafed, but today is all about me!

Everyone have a great weekend and stay well!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

J. Edgar - A Review

'J. Edgar' was not exactly what I was expecting.  I was surprised at the power or Leonardo DiCaprio in this biopic on the life of the legendary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.  I was also surprised that it's as much of a love story as it is an historical drama.

I don't go to the movies much.  I went last summer to see the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie.  The summer before, on a rainy day in Maine, we saw another kid's flick, though which one it was escapes me at the moment.  I'm not sure why I don't go more.  I love the big screen, I love hearing the other movie-goers interacting with the film, I love the smell of popcorn.

I guess they are kind of a date night thing and, well, uhh, I am not going on many dates these days.  In my last relationship, our date night thing was going out for drinks and dinner more than it was going to the movies, so it's been a while since I saw a regular (notice I avoided the use of the word adult) movie in the theater.  But I am looking for new things to do with new friends, and a movie seemed low-key and not really too difficult.

J. Edgar is a pretty good movie.  It's a sweeping story about a really troubled and flawed man, moving across 50 years.  DiCaprio is really good.  REALLY REALLY good.  I have never been a fan of Leo, but this is the best work I have seen him do.  He shows Hoover to be the deluded, but fearsomely powerful man who built the FBI into his own empire.  The tortured, troubled but still brilliant man plays out on director Clint Eastwood's bleak sets and stages, seeming to drain the color from all around him.

Hoover's long-time companion, Clyde Tolson, is played almost silently by Armie Hammer, who is best known for his roles in The Social Network.  Tolson is played as Hoover's foil, the light to Hoover's dark.  This is overplayed a bit and Tolson comes off as a bit of a pale moralist who doesn't really fit next to the gigantic Hoover that DiCaprio brings to life.

The love story between these two men is played as an affection never brought to fruition because Hoover is afraid of his mother's disapproval.  The real story between the men is as shrouded as the contents of Hoover's secret files, the MacGuffin of the movie, which are used to move the story thought the arc of the 20th century.

The sharp intake of breath audience from the when the men fight and utimately violently kiss was surprising to me.  It's not the first guy-guy kiss we've seen on the silver screen and I thought everyone kind of knew that Hoover had some skeletons in his closet.  My companion, though was shocked and had no idea what might be coming.

At a bit more than 2 hours, the film dragged a bit, especially in the early scenes.  I was also struck by how dependent I have become on being able to use IMDB and Wikipedia during a movie to fact-check or research actors and locations.  I resisted, but it was difficult! 

This is a tough movie to like.  It's spare and drab.  Hoover is not a guy who is exactly warm and cuddly.  We never really get beyond the basics with any of the supporting cast and Tolson is a 1 dimensional screen pairing. Still, it's a hck of a story and it's always nice to be in a treaer to see a movie.  All in all, it was a fun night out and worth the 2 hours and $11 a person to sit in the top row of a full stadium theater and be taken to another time and place for just a little while.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Philly is Still Occupied - For Now

image from www.flickr.comDilworth Plaza is still an occupied camp as of lunch time today, with about half as many tents in evidence than there were 2 weeks ago. 

I took a walk on this beautiful late November Monday, enjoying the bright blue sky and what is probably the last day we will see with 60 degree temperatures until April.  There were throngs of people out walking the Center City Philadelphia sidewalks, and lots of them were headed over to Dilworth Plaza, site of the Occupy Philly encampment.

Since the group was supposed to be out by late yesterday, some of the Occupiers have moved on.  Others are very much  still there.  Signs up around the plaza note that the Occupy Philly group plans to move to a number of decentralzied locations once the inevitable forcible eviction begins.

The mix of hard-core homeless to hard-core activist is about 50-50 right now, with several dozen of each group milling around quietly.  Police and media are prominently present.  There is a much quieter air than I have seen before, no bullhorns or group chants, no music or any really signs of energy.

Warm food was being distributed, a few folks were packing up, and mostly people were sitting around, waiting to see what is going to happen next.  I didn't bring my Canon on my walk today, as the big camera attracted some unwanted attention on my last visit.  Instead, I snapped today's photos with my HTC Thunderbolt camera.  Many others were doing the same thing, documenting what it seems may be the final day that Occupy Philly calls Dilworth Plaza home.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Back To Work!

It's a slow Sunday night here in Medford.  I'm winding down the weekend and waiting for Boardwalk Empire

I will be the first to admit that I am still struggling to find a rhythm to the weekends when the kids are not here.  The contrast between the whirlwind they create when they are home and the silence of the walls when they are not is so striking that I need to stay busy or go crazy.

And it was certainly a busy weekend!  Wednesday night's brush with mortality gave me a great deal to be thankful for on Thanksgiving.  The kids and I enjoyed the day Thursday, making 12 pounds of mashed potatoes before heading over to Carin and Kevin's for Thanksgiving dinner.  The food and family were great, and everyone pitched in to make it a good time. 

The kids played Wii while I met The Hills and Chicken for the traditional post-family decompression.  The conversation was outstanding as always, though I am not sure we will make The Plumstead the new location in future years.  It's a mite grungy for even a dive bar aficionado.  Carin convinced me to drive her to the hellish nightmare that was pre-Black Friday at Toys R Us.  45 minutes in line to be herded like cattle through a maze of merchandise to another line for electronics.  Sadly we didn't make it in time to get the item she was hoping for.  A drive by Target at midnight convinced us it was time to call it a night.

I participated in Black Friday, hitting Kohl's in PA with my mom and sister before my shopping meter hit the red zone.  Later, the kids and I hit Best Buy and Target, before we retreated to the relative quiet of Medford.  After the kids left, I worked a bit Friday night and really felt my age, seeing all the young folks back home visiting their families and desperate for a drink.

Saturday was a busy day, with several hours of leaf removal that sandwiched a visit from Carlo 'The Chief' Iacono.  He rescued me from a waist-high pile of leaves and took me for a ride in his '67 Mustang. We spent an hour talking about kids and Occupy Philly and how much our lives have changed.  I got back in time to wrap up the yard work for the year.  After a quick dinner with an old friend, I did some curtain shopping and saw a movie with a new friend. 

Saturday wrapped up at the Indian Chief, commiserating with a fellow soccer coach and listening to perhaps the worst cover band I have ever heard.  At least the company was good. 

The glorious weather of the weekend rolled on today.  I did some light hiking at a nearby nature preserve and worked up a pretty good sweat, showing just how out of shape I have managed to get.  After discovering there was no way to get electric to my christmas lights, I decided to add an outdoor outlet so I could hang the icicle lights

I weathered the Eagles loss before realizing that shopping is not my forte.  While all the curtians are the same size and color, two different patters were mixed together.  I guess I need to go back!

So, long story short, I made myself as busy as I could this weekend.  There were some highlights and some tough moments.  Still, now it's Sunday night and I can't believe how quickly this beautiful weekend passed! A four day weekend with glorious 60 degree weather in November and some very fine moments and wonderful people. 

Have a great week!


Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Fantastic Four - Black Friday

It's Black Friday in America, that orgy of consumer excess that has shoppers pepper spraying each other over a $200 TV and people abandoning the Thanksgiving dinner table to eat dinner in line for the  Pod Touch 8gb that 728 other people are in line for ahead of you.

What are the four most insane things about Black Friday?

  1. The 2,000 people in line at midnight at the Springfield Mall Target.
  2. That I actually was out shopping in it. (Lasted a bit more than an hour!)
  3. That the fire marshall actually thinks it is safe to put 1,200 people into a Toys R Us so stuffed with crap that you can only follow the person in front of you though the maze of aisles.
  4. That it started at 9pm on Thanksgiving?

The kids and I are home enjoying the quiet finally.  I hope that you are enjoying some leftovers!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Time To Be Thankful

1943-03-06-Saturday-Evening-Post-Norman-Rockwell-article-Freedom-from-Want-430-DigimarcIt's Thanksgiving in America.  I am sure the turkey is in the oven at many houses already. But before its scent starts to fill the house or we all run off to wherever we are gathering later, it's time to think about the things that make our lives special and give thanks.

It's been a year of great personal turmoil and change for me.  I've had to move, lost a relationship with a wonderful partner, downsized my life and forced to take a hard look at who I am and what is really important.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because we can spend some time reflecting and then we usually get to enjoy our friends and family eating great food and sitting around the TV or fire.  These days, with Facebook and Skype and the like, there isn't as much catching up to do, but it's still important to have the gatherings.  I know from experience these last few months that the internet and the connections it brings can be a great friend when you are lonely, but there is no substitute for everyone being together.

Gas is $3.13 this morning.  A winter vacation isn't in the cards for many of us this year.  The economy is still stagnant and there is no NBA season.  Congress can't agree on a single thing and the only thing the Republican presidential candidates agree on is that it's all Obama's fault. 

Still, we live free in the greatest nation on earth.  I was able to get up and go to Wawa this morning in my car, my kids are playing nicely in the living room and we have a nice little home we have made our own.  We have many challenges, but far more to be thankful for.

Today I am thinking about the 102 settlers who came across the storm-tossed Atlantic seeking just the life I live today (with a lot more church going probably).  I am also thinking about the millions of men and women who were already here, living for generations in this land before Europeans invaded.  I am thinking about the land itself and all that it provides for us in food, shelter, energy, and recreation. 

I am very thankful for all those who will not be able to spend the day with their families, from the men and women serving in the armed forces, the police officers and first responders on duty keeping us safe, everyone in the service industry feeding America today and all those folks at retail establishments who will stock the shelves so we can take everything we want home today and tonight.

I am also thankful for those who are gone now.  Family and friends who were very important to me and to John and Emma for a long time.  The impact of those who we miss today can't be measured, but can be seen every day in who we are and in how we live.

My family and friends have gotten me through a very difficult period.  I am thankful to them for providing great summer vacations, a place relax and enjoy, a beautiful wedding and party, help moving and re-establishing and so many moments of fellowship that I can't even count them all.  As doors close in any life, new doors open and I have been heartened to find all kinds of folks, both new to our life and returners, behind the doors we have opened and re-opened recently.

Finally I am thankful for my two wonderful childrenJohn and Emma make it all worth it.  They fill the house with noise, give me so many moments of joy and help me see the positives even on really tough days.  They are the constant in my life.

This is my 6th Thanksgiving day post, and Norman Rockwell's 'Freedom From Want' has been with us since the beginning.  It's symbolic to me of all that it means to be an American.  But that's the simple, easy version of being an American.  The truth is, that it's a lot harder than the picture makes it out to be.  So today, please take a moment to consider the sacrifices of all those who make your life what it is today.  Thank those you can and remember and consider those you can't.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve - Getaway Day Followed by Amateur Night

After five days off, Another Delco Guy is in the office today with his skeleton crew, dreading the traffic we will see later.  This is a work day for me that is sandwiched in between 5 off for family time and the 4 day Thanksgiving holiday. 

The kids have half days all week, and going in today was particularly hard for Emma. I had visited John's classroom yesterday to see his presentation on 'Hurricane Jyatt'  which is a pretty funny video if you are interested.  Emma was feeling a bit left out that I wasn't visiting her class today for the Thanksgiving feast.  Sadly, I didn't know about the feast until last night and had already been scheduled in the office today.  Thankfully, we have had a lot of daughter-daddy time lately and she perked up a bit when I reminded her that I would see her tomorrow and we would go see her cousins in Swarthmore for Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, we're holding down the fort at the UArts ghost town and maintaining our pre-holiday good cheer.  Later on we will fight our way through the traffic to get home or to second jobs or to whatever else might be planned on the biggest traveling and drinking day of the year.  I know many of you are on a half-day as well, so enjoy the afternoon off!

Tomorrow is the big day, family, food, football and fellowship.  It's the greatest holiday of them all, and I will of course have my 6th annual Thanksgiving Day post as well.  I know you are all breathless with anticipation!

Whatever your plans for later, please be patient and safe on the roads, enjoy your friends and family and remember to tip your bartenders and wait staff!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rainy Tuesdays Aren't All Bad

I am so glad that today happened the way it did.  A morning that was a bit slower-paced than usual.  Running some errands around town and catching up with  image from www.flickr.comsome friends via text message.  A few moments to myself.  A visit to John's classroom for his presentation on weather.

A work teleconference, some emails about baseball and a good conversation with my son.  Music to think about on the radio, antipasti for lunch, a happy little girl, clean laundry folded and put away.  A good deed proposed, done and delivered. A heart made lighter, but tighter.

Doing some email while homework is done, watching the kids play a board game.  Rooms cleaned, trash cans out.  Computer problem solved, dishes done and bathroom cleaned. Angry birds to play with while we wait for dinner.  Clean plates, quick showers and books read equals ice cream cake for dessert.  Teeth brushed and a quiet house gives me a moment to reflect. 

Rain on the windows with no other sound and my eyes droop ...


Monday, November 21, 2011

Sometimes She's A Handful - A Single Dad Reflects On His Daughter

Anyone who reads these pages knows I am completely devoted to my daughter Emma.  Some days are just a bit more trying than others, though and today was one of them.  Thanks to my many friends who have contacted me tonight after my image from www.flickr.comexasperated Facebook post a bit earlier. You are all correct.  She's a super little girl who cares deeply about everyone she meets and loves her friends and family with all her heart.

I guess maybe the wonderful weekend we had kind of made a tough day an inevitability.  On Friday, Emma got a great report card, so we took her and her BFF out to lunch.   Then we had a wonderfully fun afternoon visiting her best friend's house.  We went to the book fair and community night at school and then out to dinner at The Pub with a bunch of our Tabernacle friends.  Emma wrapped up the evening with her first sleep over at a friend's house and she loved every minute of it.

Saturday was no less packed, as Emma hosted her friend for a few hours and then we headed over to Swarthmore for my niece Ellie's 5th birthday.  Cake, ice cream, presents and some very happy kids!  We wrapped that night up with her second sleepover.  After a communal brunch Sunday with the Ranson and Newsome clans, we headed back to Medford for an afternoon of much needed-relaxing and a wonderful pork loin dinner.

I said earlier today that I am trying to raise a young woman who is strong and self-assured.  'You're succeeding,' a friend pointed out. 'But that makes everything just a bit harder.'

So when I think back over what I am sure was one of Emma's best weekends ever, and consider all that she is as an 8 year old, I must agree with you all that she deserves a pass for today.  Thanks everyone for the attitude adjustment!


Cold

The cold bite of evening frost is made all the harder

By the unexpected warmth of the past day’s sun

The clear shine of the moon’s rise

Kills all beneath it and chases summer finally away

The cold ache of winter drives the promise of spring

To the cold edge of darkness

-- Chris Pesotski - November, 2011- Medford, NJ


Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Fantastic Four - Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday and I have decided to extend the fun by a bit!  What could be better than a holiday that is about cooking, eating, hanging out with family and watching football?  Yes, I understand that there is much more to it and I will cover those things in my annual Thanksgiving day post, but for now, let's just talk about the fun stuff...

What are your four favorite things about Thanksgiving?

  1. Dark meat - yup - I love it!  Everyone else can fight over the dry turkey breast, I am a thigh guy!
  2. Football rivalries - from the big local high school games to the Lions and the Cowboys, football has become as important to this holiday as cranberry sauce.
  3. Gathering - it's the best part of the day, when people from all over converge before dinner, covered dishes or bottles of wine in hand.  This year we'll be at my sister's in Swarthmore.  Stop by!
  4. Watching the women plan the Black Friday assault.  If this much planning had gone into the war in Afghanistan, the troops would have been home years ago!

I hope you are all getting ready for the holidays.  We've got a nice long weekend here full of dances and birthdays and school stuff.  Enjoy!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Celebrating the Little Things

image from www.flickr.comTuesday we found out that John was selected to play travel baseball again next spring.  That good news came on the heels of Emma's completion of her first season of soccer and at the end of two really long days of work for me.  On the spur of the moment, I decided a little family celebration was in order and we headed to PJ Whelihan's in Medford Lakes for an impromptu dinner out.

While it was a luxury we really can't afford right now, it ended up being a great night as PJs was filled with families doing pretty much the same thing we were.  The restaurant hires a balloon artist on Tuesdays, so everyone had brightly colored headdresses and there was a lot of laughter in the air.  Emma did her homework and chatted with classmates, John watched the big screen TVs while talking baseball and we all relaxed for an unexpected hour of fun.

image from www.flickr.comI've never been a big fan of the PJ's chain, but this night may have turned the corner for me.  Emma's meal, which included a drink and dessert was only $5.99.  My fish tacos were $7.99.  John, as usual,  was the big spender with a bacon cheese burger and crab fries that topped out at $13.99.  Emma enjoyed her chicken fingers, which were nothing special, John's burger was cooked just the way he likes it and my fish tacos were good-sized and had great flavor.  I never knew the family night was a big thing there, but the balloon artist said the place is packed every week during the school year. 

We had a chance to talk about school without me running around like a crazy man trying to get dinner together, the kids had nice night out and there were no dishes to do!

Maybe we will have to make it a tradition to celebrate the little things there more often!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Changes At Occupy Philly

Yesterday I took a bit of a walk at lunch and headed over to the Occupy Philly encampment at Dilworth Plaza, adjacent to Philadelphia City Hall.  I have visited four times since the occupiers took root there in September.

image from www.flickr.comThere has been some news lately, as just after the election, Mayor Nutter took to the airwaves to declare that the Occupy Philly group had changed, and that given the change he was going to have to start dealing with them differently.  Nutter noted issues with public health and safety as well as the group's refusal to move to an area across the street to allow a planned renovation of the Dilworth Plaza site to begin.

The Occupy Philly folks on the other hand have shot back that they have not changed, but rather it's Nutter that has been on the move.  Various Occupy Philly members made statements in stark contrast to the Mayor Nutter's allegations.  And, predictably, there were some folks in the middle, not sure who was right as the movement heads into the winter.

From my visit, I have to say that the encampment is distinctly different than it was in late summer.  Then it seemed like a large portion of the group were college students enjoying the warm nights and permissive atmosphere rather than having to stay in their dorm rooms.  When I visited during the day, the core group was a combination of aging hippies,  some homeless people, a group of hard-core activists and a sprinkling of young people.  All of those folks were there in the evening hours too, but there was also a night-time influx of vocal college aged-students, suspiciously clean for folks allegedly living outside.

Things have changed a lot in the last few weeks.  The population of hard-core homeless is much greater.  There are obviously people there up to no good.  Most of the college students are gone.  Many of the older folks have moved on as well.  The police presences is decidedly more edgy. The place has the look and smell of a homeless encampment; it does not feel like a political movement from my perspective. 

My photos don't show the change as much as they should.  I didnt take as many this time and I definitely was careful who I shot.  For the first time, I was subjected to open hostilty as I walked among the tents.  There were areas where I not only didn't feel welcome, but I didn't walk though because they did not appear safe.  It's also clear that there are concerns among those camping there about safety. 

I am not sure what the future is for Occupy Philly.  Will it be cleared away by force like Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Oakland?  Will they move across the street to the area suggested by the city?  With the movement continue to with as the temerature drop anonly those experienced with sleeping outside in a Philadelphia winter are willing to stay?

Whatever happens, I do feel like it will be happening soon.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Delco Sunset

image from www.flickr.com

I am a sunset guy.  I will pull over on the side of the road to watch the amazing play of pinks and purples across the sky on summer evenings or pull on a coat and watch the golds dance on a cold winter afternoon.  I take a lot of sunset photos, some that look like an inferno is engulfing the earth, some where the sun just disappeared into the desert twilight, some others that certainly show the face of god, a few that illuminated special moments and some where the world seemed near an end.

Yesterday as the sun was setting on the Eagles' season, Dan Walklett said, "You should get your camera."  I am glad he did.  All my life I have enjoyed taking photos, somtimes alone, some times prompted by others, sometimes with someone special at my side. 

I've never seen to that were the same and yet I alwasy have the same thought. "What a great way to end a day."  Regardless of how bad the day way, a good sunset can always make it better.  This time of year it's a little tough with the sun setting before I get out of work, but that just gives me another reason to look forward to the weekend!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wrapping Up The Youth Sports Seasons

Yesterday, Emma played the last game of her soccer season for the TAA "Green Machine."  She thoroughly enjoyed her first year of soccer, and I enjoyed coaching her and her friends.  I still say anyone must be qualified to coach soccer if I can, but image from www.flickr.comit was still a great time.

Emma has begun to understand how to move to the ball and how to use her size against smaller, quicker players.  She has gotten a lot better at being able run around for the whole game without losing interest or getting tired.  She has been one of the first to volunteer to play when other kids don't want to.

I'm very proud of all that she learned and I wish we had her play soccer before this fall.  It was a far better experience for her than the T-Ball experience two years ago!  The last game was not a win, but the trophy helped the sting of the loss.  Thanks to Coach Dave and Coach Jim for really doing the real work of coaching this year.

John's fall baseball season ended a while back, the last games a casualty of the freak pre-Halloween snowstorm that hit the Mid-Atlantic.  His War Eagles squad really came together this fall, winning the last 5 games of the season. He is a big boy who is still growing into his long legs and big frame.  He's got a lot of potential and determination, but his progress this fall was image from www.flickr.comincremental rather than spectacular.

John loves playing baseball and is a darn good pitcher, but his footspeed limits what he can do in the field.  His bat began to come around this fall after some coaching that found a problem with his swing.  Tryouts for the spring War Eagles teams were held last weekend and he did well, and he is on pins and needles waiting to see if he made the team.

For me, this fall season probably brings to close my 6 years of youth coaching.  The fall has been a struggle for me to balance coaching duties, work schedules and getting the kids where they need to be every day.  As John has moved up the baseball ladder, my ability to help the teams he is on has been smaller and smaller.  While Emma and I enjoyed me helping her soccer team this year, there are plenty of folks who can do what I did for the team.

Sometimes something has to give when you are a single dad, and I have known this moment was coming for some time.  Coaching my kids has given me some of the happiest moments of my life.  Seeing them grow and succeed, have fun with their friends and learn some hard lessons has been an absolute privilege.  Thankfully, there are lots of good coaches in baseball program to be able to help my son develop.  I'm still not sure how good a soccer coach I was, so I am sure someone (anyone) can fill those shoes! 

I'll still be at the games, and some of the practices, but I'll be in the stands with the other dads and moms, taking my pictures, grumbling about the coaches and enjoying every minute of it!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Fantastic Four - Best War Books

It's Veterans Day here in the US the day we set aside to specially remember those who have served, fought and given so much for our nation.

So we've got a military-themed Fantastic Four this week:

What are the four best war books?

The Killer Angels – Michael Shaara - some of the best historic fiction ever written.  Wonderful dialog and a perfect sense of setting at the battle of Gettysburg.

  1. All Quiet On The Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque - I remember the first time i read this in high school and how much it changed how I looked at war, the military and  the value of life.
  2. The Caine Mutiny – Herman Wouk - A fantastic story, wonderful characters and writing.  Very believable war sequence and a great courtroom finale.
  3. The Great Escape - Paul Brickhill - Maybe the greatest escape ever, the true story that inspired the movie.

Thanks to veterans everywhere who make it possible for my family and me to live safely and in freedom.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A Beautiful Day

I wish I had taken more pictures yesterday.  It's a day I want to remember for the rest of my life.  There was nothing super special about it, but the sum total was one of those days that you never want to have end.  It was Election Day and the kids were off from school.  I had made a decision several months ago to take the day as well.  As it turned out, the weather was glorious, with brilliant blue skies, some orange and red leaves still hanging on, and temperatures hitting 72 degrees.

image from www.flickr.comEmma and I started the day teaching each other to paint her nails.  Now I am a doting father, and I don't get too hung up on gender roles, but this was not something I have done before for her.  In between the color and glitter coats, I made her French toast and we chatted about school and Halloween and her friend's pug. She ate every bit of her breakfast and gave me a big hug, burying her buttery face in my shirt and saying, 'That was great, I love you Daddy.'

After we got things cleaned up, it was time to vote.  Emma was very interested in voting this year, and she pressed all the buttons for me.  We spent some time talking about 'important US symbols' and 'just important American stuff.' I explained what an election was, who we were voting for and why and talked about leaders and decisions. Some pretty big concepts, but she seemed to get them pretty well.

After our civics lesson, Emma begged for some time at the park, so we headed over to the swings and slides and she ran shrieking with joy from one to the other until it was time to go get her brother.

On of john's friends is having some serious family health issues right now, so John had spent the night there, but by lunch time, the air guns and Wii games were kind of boring, so Emma and I went over to pick them up.  Everyone was pretty hungry after spending most of the morning outside, so we headed over to Prospector's for lunch on their indoor/outdoor patio.  John saw a few of his former classmates from Mount Laurel, we all enjoyed our root beers and watched the Penn State debacle on ESPN.

After that we were looking for a way we could all go the same place for a few hours.  The library had books for Emma and newspapers for me, as well computers for John and his buddy.  We killed an easy two hours before heading back home. 

The boys headed off to the creek to do some exploring and Emma and I enjoyed some reading time out on the porch.  She headed off for a bit with a friend for some ice cream and I sat in the late autumn sun and was thankful for a day that had brought me so many small, but special moments. 

In the evening it was time to get ready for the next day, organizing lunches, doing neglected homework, following election returns.  The day slipped away quietly, but I wanted to make sure I wrote it all down, so that I would always have it.  Thanks for sharing it with me!