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The Red Shirt Year

A few weeks back we wrote about the right of passage into Kindergarten. Its a huge step for your kid, but what if your little angel is right on the cusp of heading into kindergarten or being held back a year? Well, we were forced with a decision this year that possibly could make or break our oldest daughter’s future in school. As you can see by the witty title of this post, we are deciding on holding our kid back a year, but want to get some perspective from other parents on what they’ve done.

 

While the above paragraph is wonderfully written, its not enough for a full blog post so I’ll go into our decision on holding our daughter back. My oldest has always been a girly girl since she decided to have a personality. Also like many first-born’s (so I’ve heard) she has been very cautious, shy, and critical of situations before jumping in head first. We have never had to worry about her at a pool and just heading for the water. At times she can be kind of needy, but perhaps she is a bit more than most kids. She constantly seeks reassurance and needs a lot of pushing when it comes to trying new things. Its how she’s wired. We love her personality and can think of 1000’s of situations that would be way worse than our kid being a tad timid.

 

As this school year was coming up we knew we had a decision to make. We had already decided that our kids will go to the local private school* for grade school, but we just weren’t sure that Hannah was fully ready for kindergarten. So the alternative would be sending her to the Public School for kindergarten for this year and then having her do a victory lap of kindergarten next year at the private school. After some thinking, debating, and just going back and forth on the subject, we decided on the “victory lap” theory and will send her to the private school to do kindergarten again next year. We have thought long and hard on this decision and after talking with a lot of parents we never once heard them say that they regretted holding their kid back. On the contrary we ran into a lot of situations where people wished they would have been held back.

 

So with that, we’d like to hear your opinion what you think or stories about the decisions you made as parents.

 

*Disclaimer: Before you pass judgement on the whole public/private decision, please know a few things. 1) St. Louis is weird and a ton of people go to private Catholic schools. 2) We live in an awesome school district that is rated very high and we are big fans of our Public School. My wife is actually an Occupational Therapist in our district. 3) I am not rich by any stretch of the word. Our Catholic school is about $2k LESS a year than day care.

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Merchandising

Shirts are in!

What? We didn’t tell you we were ordering shirts? Awkward.

In any event, we ordered some shirts from our buddies at Knee High Prints (we think globally and wear locally), and they are in.

We’ve only ordered a couple, so if  you are interested, please leave a comment below and we’ll get back in contact with you to sort out the details. We are only asking $12 plus shipping (if necessary) each, which is barely enough to cover our new company cars. If we move enough of these, we’ll start taking orders for round 2.

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Going into this past weekend, there was so much anticipation for our fraternity’s 90th reunion. Not so much around hearing guest speakers talk about the last 90 years and how they have flown by, but for getting to hang out with dudes I hadn’t seen in a long time, some over a decade. Well and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I needed a mancation.

The weekend began with the scenic drive through the vast openness towards more vast openness. We drove through such bubbling metropolises like Eolia, Palmyra, & Edina. Towns so small they sound like an infectious disease. Luckily and like most of the people who drove up there, I had a road buddy. A guy whom which our friendship is based on movie quotes from both Grumpy Old Men, Blazing Saddles, Caddyshack, & The Blues Brothers. We could probably have a coherent conversation using just movie quotes and fix the budget. Had it not been for him I would have gotten bored out of my skull on the drive up and probably fallen asleep on the ride home Sunday.

We arrived in town around lunch time but decided to have a couple of beers at the fraternity house before we got a bite. As we cracked open those delicious beers we strolled through the house. Apparently,  it was time for the “Open House” portion of the weekend’s events and we were surrounded with 70-somethings and their wives. The guys looked good enough for church and we had just rolled out of a car that no doubt smelled like 3.5 hours of dude. We opted for lunch immediately.

It was a good call on the lunch. We had both been craving some local fair that is near and dear to our hearts: Pagliai’s Pizza. We got our staples from College. A George on Sourdough w/ Ranch & an Original Ronza…. and some more beer (please notice the trend starting here).

I don't know what could sum up college lunch better than this...

After lunch we headed over to a local bar that was more like the central meeting place for the day than the fraternity house. Guys started rolling in around 1pm and we started up like old times… and more beer. We stayed there until we were tipsy and needed showering which would be about 3-4 more hours. This is where time starts to run together, credibility begins to fail, and my voice starts talking loud.

So to save you a story that spans the next 9 hours, I will just sum it up in bullet form:

  • Shower
  • Fraternity House Basement that was supposed to be locked
  • Drums
  • Dinner: Pagliais, this time we had the pizza
  • Fraternity Deck
  • Bars
  • Fraternity house
  • 1.6 mile walk to the hotel because the cab companies were all closed.

    Your Suburban Father Alliance hard at work

So that’s our weekend. Great story huh? Well I think with any trip of this magnitude and with such anticipation a Lessons Learned needs to be performed well at least some strong observations.

– Where some people have lost their hair, others have gained it. Much like the Conservation of Matter, I now believe hair cannot be created or destroyed, it just moves from one body to another.

– I cannot blog the day after I drink for 14 hours. Keeping a conversation with a real person was hard enough. There is no way I could accurately think and then transfer those thoughts on to paper (virtual paper). I believe you can also replace “blog” with any other verb in this situation and I don’t think I am the only one who had some troubles doing their particular verb on Sunday. Even today I am not 100%.

– Even 10 years later there is some poor drunk couple still making out on a dance floor.

– College bars in general don’t don’t really change. they even still play movies from 1985

Yes the bar had on Goonies. I have no problems with this.

– It’s amazing how a group of guys can not see each other for over 10 years and still pick up like they just saw each other yesterday. I guess it’s that whole “sharing a common experience” thing that brings guys together. Whatever it is I am glad I can mooch of them whenever I feel like it.

– I still wouldn’t let my kids date their kids.

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Sanity Check

A couple weeks back I embarked on some home renovations in which I was thrilled it was starting, everything was so new, and we hadn’t spent any money. Well as promised, I will deliver the status report of how things are going 3 dreaded weeks later.

So much determination here (taken 3 weeks ago)

As I am contemplating how to tell this story, I could do it a few ways: 1) chronological – very easy and your typical story, 2) Good/Bad – just a recap of whats gong well and what hasn’t or 3) How our next house just better be ready to move into. so, instead of any of these options and the story of the last 3 weeks though I am going to try and try to figure out how to rationalize my problems and hopefully help as a guide to others to deal with frustration other than medication (which I am also taking).

If God were to punish me in the after-life, he would make me work a trade. Probably, like Joseph, he would make me a carpenter in which no matter how many times things got measured, they would be cut the wrong length or width, then he would make me do my own drywalling, mudding, & taping.

The project started out very harmless. I take out a wall & rip out floors. Then the contractor comes in, scrapes the crappy popcorn off my ceiling, replaces the floor and viola, Done. Well F. That didn’t work too well. The floor itself turned into be one of the single most frustrating events of my life. Specifically the kitchen and the inch worth of concrete products that were adhering the tile to the ground. So many things have been half-arsed in this house, except this floor the withstood 5 hours of a jackhammer and then an additional 12 hours of manpower beating at it before it was finally up.

Well I promised that I wouldn’t get into specifics really but its these “little” things that have piled up over the course of the project that have really started wearing on me physically and mentally. Such as having your refrigerator next to your television or converting your office into your kitchen. It has been a constant up and down, back and forth, of emotions and physical pain has been no stranger either (sprained ankle & probably should have gotten stitches). Mix all this up with the daily life of 2 kids and a pregnant wife and you have a molotov cocktail of rageahol.

In theory this should be a good thing.

My Kitchoffice

So how do I deal with it? Well until now I really haven’t and hadn’t noticed the project is f’ing me up. Everything added up and finally I reached my breaking point today…. a leaky faucet. It set me off. It was the final piece of the bathroom and after putting everything together, it leaks. At the end of the day its probably an hour of re-work (I am not handy) and under $20 from Home Depot, but that doesn’t come into one’s head at times like that. Well not my head at least.

So I will be turning this home improvement challenge into a little bit of  a life challenge also. I’ve got to just get a small victory in this house and then keep the momentum going with the project and more importantly, my family. They could use a victorious Dad more than anyone right now.

Below are some pics I’ve taken of the progress.

Bathroom

Lovely isn't it?

Hallway

at least there's no water here

 
 
Kitchen
My “helpers”

Some after pics

 
Bathroom

Thats the SOB that leaks

I’ll put up some more as they become available. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading…

 

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Screwing with InBev

Normally I’m a big proponent of local merchants, but when InBev bought Anheuser-Busch, I gave up pretty much any affinity I had for that St. Louis-based family of products. This was surprisingly easy since I can’t stand Bud Light or Budweiser (they both give me a headache). I’ll still take down an American Ale, Natural Light or Busch heavy to be polite, but it’s pretty tough to find those around town (even, paradoxically, in Busch Stadium).

That said, I am a cheap mother, and I’m a big fan of rebates on stuff I would normally buy anyway. I was stalking the beer aisle at my local grocer one day and snagged a rebate form even though it said Bud Light, because in Missouri (along with several other states), the rebator can’t require you to actually buy the beer. The result? Bud Light was offering to mail me a check for $7 for spending $14 on things like ice, snacks, meat, etc.

My wife was next to head out, so I asked her to get some of that “stuff” (the ice, snacks, meat, etc.). Much to my delight, she bought more than enough “stuff” and also came home with some beer. I’m thrilled to report that I just sent Bud Light a request to send me $7 even though the only beer I bought was Coors Light and Samuel Adams.

Take that, InBev.

It’s times like this when I really, really love my wife. And whatever Missouri legislator made this possible.

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It has been well documented on this blog that I have a bit of an addiction to Running. See Here & Here. I am ultimately searching for the right way to do it so I can do it forever. My wife thinks I am crazy and I all I can say is “At least it isn’t Meth.” Well that addiction has begun to effect me when I am not mobile. I recently finished one of the most read running books of all-time and possibly the catalyst for the Barefoot/Minimalist running push that is occurring these days. The book: Born To Run by Chris McDougall.

Pretty isn't it?

Here’s a brief synopsis. It starts out with the Author asking the simple question of “Why do I keep getting injured?” That question turns into an epic adventure in unincorporated Mexico where they dodge drug dealers and injury to find a segregated tribe deep in the Copper Canyon. This tribe is said to have the secret to running and none of them wear shoes. Just some leather sandals. The story goes on from there to an epic race between the members of the Mexican Tribe and some of the greatest runners in the United States. In the 300 or so pages in between that, there are anecdotal stories of various Ultra Marathon races in the US, but perhaps more importantly is the scientific backing for the barefoot/minimal running that has gained so much popularity. That is it in a nutshell. I may not have done the book much justice (mostly because I am writing this at 11pm on a school night) and may not have persuaded you to read it, but trust me it really is a great book that will make you think.

This book has really made me re-consider my opinion on running and start to change my approach. Had the author been a skinny dude that had run all his life I probably would have just passed it off as just a book written by someone who has never dealt with weight loss issues, but Chris McDougall is/was a normal guy like me. Over 6 foot and over 200 lbs.  Just 6 months ago, you couldn’t have pried my shoes off of me, but now I am slowing taking them away by reducing the amount of drop in them (height from the back to the front). Lets face it I’m not going to go run barefoot any time soon, but the theory is definitely worth experimenting with.

So go read this book and maybe it will inspire you to rethink your running or motivate you to start.

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Outsourcing my stress

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t- You’re right.”  – Henry Ford

This phrase from the guy that made the first car is thrown around in a ton of circles. Its meant to inspire you to do your best, believe in yourself, and all that crap. Its pretty much a Rah Rah type deal and up until now I was tired of seeing this phrase everywhere on the internet. After some thought though, I think Hank may have been saying “Know your limits, save yourself the stress (and potential humiliation), & let someone else do it.”

The reason I’ve been pondering about this phrase and not spending more time watching the  “Look at me Now” video and celebrating Busta Rhymes return is because we are starting the process of destroying our kitchen and rebuilding most of it from the ground up. This project is going to require some labor hours from me on the demolition side. We are going to tear out a wall and everything. Furthermore being the great husband I am, I even offered my wife to try and do a lot of the rebuilding part myself. I’m not a stranger to doing manual labor and building stuff around the house. About 2 years ago I finished off my basement and so far all the walls are still standing.

It looks better than this trust me.

Well it was the “try” part that made my wife tell me one of the greatest things she’s ever said to me. “If you end up doing the kitchen yourself, sure we will save a bunch of money. But if you do something wrong, I have no one to get angry with but you. If we have someone else do it for us, I can yell at them.” Bless you Honey. This phrase has taken so much stress off of me on this whole project. Now I can focus my efforts on destroying whatever I want and not have to worry about putting anything back together. And, while this isn’t the manliest thing to say, I don’t know if I could do the job the right way, on time, and without killing anything either. Now I didn’t say earlier I was a wizard with manual labor, I just said I was not a stranger and I know my limits.

So thanks Mr. Ford for your words of wisdom. I’m not sure if you would approve of me taking them out of context but hey at least I am applying them.

Also I’ll be sure to keep up with the pictures, posts, and progress of this monster.

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