Friday, March 30, 2012

Rockin' Friday: Hang On Sloopy

This week's Rockin' Friday tune dates back almost 5 decades, yet the song is still played regularly.  Especially in my home state. "Hang on Sloopy" was written in 1964 and made famous by The McCoys. 

Built with a basic rock and roll chord structure, easy to remember lyrics and topped off with 17-year old Rick Derringer’s shredding guitar solo at the end, it quickly became a #1 hit. It was eventually knocked out of that position by The Beatles’ “Yesterday”, so it stands in good company.

So why is this song still so popular in my home state of Ohio? Because it’s the state’s official Rock & Roll song! Does your state have one? Nah, it’s probably not cool enough.

And how did H.O.S. become the state song?  It goes back to Fall 1965, when an Ohio State band member begged the director to let the band play it at one of their football games. He did, they did, and it’s a tradition that’s still around today, before the 4th quarter of every Buckeyes game. 

Since the Buckeyes’ men’s basketball team is playing in the Final Four this weekend, I thought it would be a great tune to share with all of you.  After months of listening to it in his rotation, when the Little Dude hears someone say “Hang on Sloopy”, he knows to reply “Sloopy, Hang on!” I think these are the types of lessons we are obligated to teach our children.

Enjoy this version, and not only because it contains some of the worst/best fake keyboard and drum playing you’ll ever see.

And here's another version if you would like to experience some Buckeye Pride:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pop Tart French Toast Soufflé

I’m not a good cook. I’m an even worse baker. I’ve got a few items in my wheelhouse that I can make for my gang, and “cooking” most of them usually involves adding water to something powdery from a box. I am quite adept at microwaving frozen stuff, however. If I don't burn it, does that count as cooking?

Fortunately I’m married to a wonderful cook and an even better baker. Her Gooey Cake is legendary around these parts, but that’s a tale for another day. One of her specialties is breakfast, which is luckily the one meal of the day that my super-picky Little Dude always enjoys. She makes great pancakes, waffles, etc. from scratch.  I wanted to make her cookies from scratch once, but couldn’t figure out which aisle they keep the scratch in at the supermarket, so my plan was foiled.

Anyway, this weekend my wife made something amazing and the response to a picture of it was so tremendous on my Facebook page that I had to share it with everyone. And only partially because I’m hoping that you’ll make it and invite me over.  

It’s called Pop Tart French Toast Soufflé and here’s how you make it, straight from Mrs. Dude (with a few helpful notes from me in parentheses):

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

1/3 cup firmly-packed Brown Sugar

2 Tbsp. Butter

2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup

8 Kellogg’s Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts (you could get the store brand “Toaster Pastries”, but 
they usually suck) 

1/3 cup Raisins

1/3 cup Pecans, chopped (I hate pecans, so she didn’t use them.  It’s stellar nonetheless.)

4 Eggs

1 cup Fat-Free Half-and-Half  (I’ve always wondered why they can’t come up with a better name than “half-and-half”. It’s like calling Sprite “Lemon-and-Lime”.)

1 tsp. Vanilla

1 Tbsp. Powdered Sugar

In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves in about 3-5 minutes. Pour into an 8x8x2-inch baking dish. Cut Pop Tarts into fourths. Arrange half on top of the brown sugar mixture. Sprinkle with raisins and pecans. Top with remaining Pop Tart pieces (i.e. whatever you haven’t already “tasted to make sure it’s still good”).

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half and vanilla. Pour over mixture in baking dish. Bake (uncovered), at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (does anyone reading this have an oven that cooks in Celsius?) about 40 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Devour like a supermodel after a juice cleanse. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Makes 8 servings (unless I’m one of the people eating it, then it makes about 3-4 servings).

Please let me know if you give it a shot and what you think.  What other flavor Pop Tarts would you try?


DISCLOSURE: Pop-Tarts didn't pay me to write this or even give me any free products, though I wouldn't mind if they did. I've just been a big fan of their products for most of my life, and want all of my friends to experience something this amazing. 


Let's BEE Friends

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Two-Line Tuesday: Mirror

Who is that handsome Little Dude over there? 
I'd like to shake his hand.


Monday, March 26, 2012

What It Means To Be A Great Dad In 2012

As part of the blog competition sponsored by my friend Adam, I was instructed to write a blog post about “What it means to be a great dad in 2012”. I’ve been blogging for almost a year and this is the first real “assignment” I’ve received. I’m someone who usually likes some direction when I’m starting a project but until today my blog, much like my parenting, has been operating under a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants plan.  So far, no major injuries with either.

In the old days (pre-1999), fathers had a traditional role: go to work and bring home the bacon.  Period.  Those are just the tip of the iceberg for me because I like being in the trenches of parenting as much as possible. Holding the Little Dude’s hand when he gets a shot or riding the giant slides at the park first so that he’ll see they’re safe are not obligations. They are gifts. I think being a “Great Dad” means being there for, and with, your children via whatever means necessary.  When I’m at work and can’t be with him, I Skype with my wife and son at home so we can have lunch together while we are 10 miles apart.

For me, being a “Great Dad” means taking care of my son every evening while my wife is working. Making his dinner, giving him baths and reading Goodnight Moon for the 900th time may sound like burdens to some 
fathers, but to me they are just perfect.    


Friday, March 23, 2012

Rockin' Friday: Quinn the Eskimo

Today’s Rockin’ Friday tune is Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn). Originally written by Bob Dylan in 1967, it has been covered by many artists over the years, including The Beatles, Manfred Mann and Phish.


Dylan himself has said it’s a “simple nursery rhyme”. It’s a song about an Eskimo named Quinn who visits a forlorn village and immediately changes its’ sad state.  People are pulled out of their despair so much merely by Quinn’s presence that they jump for joy.  (Sort of like a great Will Ferrell cameo in a bad comedy.) Even all the pigeons run to Quinn, though they aren’t known to be a particularly finicky bunch.

The tune has great lyrics, a very catchy chorus and is generally short.  Those are all great features for a "kids" song. Here is one of my favorite versions, performed by The Grateful Dead:

                                           Grateful Dead at Madison Square Garden, 9/19/90

Side note: I’d already selected “Quinn” for this week’s tune when I found out that an old college friend and his wife (who I set up, thankyouverymuch) gave birth to a son just a couple days ago whose middle name is Quinn.  I have to imagine they were partly inspired by the magical traits associated with our beloved Eskimo. 


** Is it just me or does Dylan's hair resemble an Eskimo's fur hood?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Late Night Baby BBQ

As you know from New Kid in Town, I was lucky enough to win a pass to the Dad 2.0 Summit in Austin, Texas recently.  It was quite an experience and I made some great friends there while learning how to improve my blogging skills. If you consider them skills.

Because I booked my plane ticket last minute, I flew in a day early because the ticket cost half the price. It was also a great excuse to spend some time with an old college friend I hadn’t seen in many years.  Christy is the proud mother of a beautiful 4-month-old little girl, “Baby E”. Jeff is a great Dude who not only owns one of the best clothing stores in Austin, downSTAIRS Apparel, but is also a well known DJ in town.  It was very refreshing to see their relaxed, yet progressive, parenting style but I would expect nothing less in the town that brought us Whole Foods.  

Christy picked me up at the airport around 8:00pm, baby in tow.  We headed back to their house and caught up on the last few years. She and I had been very close in college, but geography and life happened and we basically fell out of touch. If not for the magic of Facebook over the last couple years, I wouldn’t have known where she was or what she was up to in life. Or what she had for dinner last Tuesday.

My hosts asked what I wanted to for dinner, and after much deliberation, we settled on an authentic Texas BBQ joint called Uncle Billy’s around 9:30pm. Since Austin is 2 hours ahead of LA, dinner was right on schedule for me.  We jumped in the car, with the baby and Zucca, their fluffy chocolate poodle, and headed out for the night.  

This was only part of our meal.
The weather was Texas perfect, right around 72 moist degrees.  As we sat on the patio and caught up on life we ate amazing smoked turkey, juicy brisket & ribs.  The onion rings were the size of small tires and must have been fried in the sweat of angels.  As we ate and laughed, Baby E napped in her infant seat then after a while she woke up and watched us eat.  Even though it was almost 11:30pm when we left, she was perfectly content and happy to be with us. So was her doggy/brother who was lucky enough to find some gristly bones to gnaw on.  

Sleeping beauty
We got home and Baby E had a nightcap from the fountain, then went to bed around 12:30am. She quickly passed out and the grownups stayed up to talk more about people and places from our pasts, present and future.  Just as we regularly did in Columbus many years ago, we stayed up chatting until 3:00am. The big difference is that back then we could sleep until noon the next day with the only consequence being possibly facing the wrath of an angry professor. Now we were at the whim of a sweet cherub, who thankfully slept long enough for us all to get some rest.

Everyone parents differently.  Whether you’ve read 20 parenting books or none and just fly by the seat of your pants, a lot of babies’ tendencies are environmental.  For Baby E, the child of night owls, it was no big deal to stay up and out late. If she was just going to hang out in her infant seat, it didn’t really matter whether we were home or out.  And the flexibility Christy and Jeff are instilling in her will greatly benefit her as she grows.  I’ve known many kids, from infancy through adulthood, who have been the product of strict or rigid parenting and have noticed that, in many cases, it sets them up to be rigid and inflexible adults.

When my Little Dude was born, if we had somewhere to go we took him whether it was to restaurants, parties, etc.  That’s not to say we took him to midnight screenings of Harry Potter (mainly because even I wouldn’t go to that), but we also didn’t have to be home at 5:30 so he could have dinner and go to bed at 6:30. Now that he’s 2+, it’s a little more tricky, but we still try to be flexible when possible. 

I give Christy and Jeff major props for dictating Baby E’s life, not the other way around. It’s easy to get caught in self-inflicted baby related traps that can be nearly impossible to break out of.  But sometimes when it’s late and you need a platter of lean brisket and hot links, you just have to go with the flow and know that the baby will not break as a result. 

Austin is likely as close as I'll ever get to Luckenbach, Texas. 
Here's one of my favorite tunes nonetheless. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Only Thing

If I must be awake at 6:25am, this is the only thing I ever want to be forced to see.

Monday, March 19, 2012

See Mama Again


A dog snores in the distance. Everyone in the house is asleep. Or should be.
Suddenly 2-year-old TODDLER's wail pours through a baby monitor.

TODDLER “MAMA!” (pause) “Ma-maaaaaaaaaa!”

DADA: What the --?  What was that?

MAMA: I think you know.

DADA: The apocalypse?

MAMA: We should be so lucky.

DADA: An hour and a half early? I guess he doesn't know it was St. Patrick's Day last night. 

MAMA: We haven’t celebrated St. Patty’s Day since the Little Dude was born.

DADA: I know, but after only 4 hours of sleep I feel almost as wiped out as if I’d had 10 Guinness’s last night.

DADA: I'll get him. 

MAMA: Good idea -- zzzzzzzzzz


Tired DADA shuffles in to find TODDLER standing at attention. Whimpering ensues. From Dudes both Big and Little.

DADA: What's the problem, little man?

TODDLER: See Mama?

DADA: She’s resting, but it's OK, Dada's here. What's wrong? 

TODDLER: See Mama?

DADA: Mama's sleeping, like most of L.A.; did you have a bad dream?

TODDLER: See Mama Again! 

DADA: So, tell me, what do you really want?

(Crying ensues. TODDLER is extracted from crib.)

DADA: Here's the deal: you can stay in your crib and sleep, we can rest in your rocking chair or (under his breath) you can rest in Mama and Dada's bed. 

TODDLER: Mama Dada Bed!

DADA: You can only go in there if you are going to rest. Are you going to close your eyes and go back to sleep? 

TODDLER: (Emphatically) Yes! Yes!

DADA: Yeah, you seem tired.

INT. MAMA & DADA'S BED: 6:10am

MAMA:  Are you sleepy, Little Dude? 

TODDLER: Yes, me rest eyes.

MAMA: OK, Mama rest eyes, too. 

DADA: Goodnight everyone.

(TODDLER lies down and closes eyes. The room goes silent. Out of fear, MAMA & DADA don't make a sound.)

TODDLER: See Buzz and Woody! 

DADA: Buzz and Woody are sleeping now. Probably because they know that they’ll be blown up by Sid if they don’t. Let's go back to sleep, dude. 

TODDLER: See Mickey Mouse? 

DADA: Mickey and Minnie were out late last night for St. Patrick's Day. They threw a big bash at the Clubhouse. They're sleeping, too.

TODDLER: See Mama Again! 

MAMA (from 6 inches away): I'm right here.

(For 5 minutes a game of pinball occurs in the bed. MAMA on one side. DADA on the other. Both semi-comatose. TODDLER bounces back and forth between them, as though he’d just chugged a case of Red Bull)

MAMA: Do you want to sleep or play?


DADA: OK, I'll take this one. Then you'll only be up 600 morning shifts on me. 

MAMA:  600? You're getting warm...


Lights are low, toys are flying. TODDLER is squealing with delight. DADA is catatonic.

DADA: DADA is going to play “sleep in the rocking chair”. Do you want to play, too?

TODDLER: No sleep. Read books. 

DADA: OK, you read and I'll watch you. With my eyes closed. 

TODDLER: No, Dada read books!

DADA: (grumbles) OK, pick ONE book.

TODDLER: Dis one--

DADA: NOT that one. It has, uh, too many words. 

TODDLER (frowning): See Mama Again!

DADA: In a little bit. She’s resting.

TODDLER: Choo Choo time? 

DADA: OK, Dada is going to lie down & you can drive the trains on my back. 

TODDLER: Dada is train track?

DADA: Yup. Wake me up, I mean, let me know when you are finished. Hopefully in an hour or two.

7 minutes later, DADA is woken up by Thomas the Train plowing into his ear canal.

TODDLER: See Mama Again?

DADA: Let's, uh, play with your dinosaurs.

TODDLER: No dinosaurs!

DADA: Elmo?


DADA: Aren't you tired? 

TODDLER: No tired! 

After a few more minutes of negotiation, TODDLER lets out a bellowing yawn.

DADA: Are you sure you don't want to rest your eyes for a few minutes?

TODDLER: No rest!

DADA: Since you are up, do you want to go clean the bathroom? If so, go light on the bleach.

TODDLER: No clean!

DADA: So what do you want to do? 


DADA: See Mama Again?


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Friday, March 16, 2012

Rockin' Friday: Werewolves

When my wife was pregnant, one thing that several people told us we *had* to get was kid friendly music to play for our little one.  Personally, I figured diapers and a car seat were more essential, but what did I know.  Turns out I was right, but there is something to be said for good music too.

I’ve been big-time into music as long as I can remember. As the result of having a much older brother, I started listening to The Doors, Pink Floyd, Van Halen (the original/good version) and more when you could still count my age on one hand.  I never had much use for pop music and still don’t.  The same can now be said about so-called “kids’ music”.

I recently asked my Twitter and Facebook friends what music they play for their kids and the response was pretty surprising. More than half listed artists like Laurie Berkner, The Wiggles & Dan Zanes.  Those are all pretty innocuous artists.  And by innocuous I mean boring.  It’s nothing personal.  I’m sure they are nice people and obviously they are very successful, but after listening to their music a few times I wanted to rip my 
ears off and freeze them so they wouldn’t be permanently scarred from the aural atrocities of those songs.

When the Little Dude was born I borrowed some kids’ CDs from the library as a test run before buying.  For some reason, he couldn’t get into them either. And I was glad.  I’ve heard a lot of parents complain about listening to their kids' favorite songs a million times.  My sister has three daughters and even though they live across the country and I only see them a few times a year, I still know the words to Baby Beluga from listening to it dozens of times over the last decade. 

My wife takes the Little Dude to a weekly Music Together class. I recently had the chance to attend one of the classes and while it was fine for an hour, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it week after week.  At least not without a good set of industrial-grade earplugs.

Why not just play the Beatles real music?
Many people rave about the Rockabye Baby CDs.  If you aren’t familiar, they make CDs utilizing music by classic artists like the Beatles and Rolling Stones, but played as lullabies. They also transform, in an intentionally ironic manner, artists like Metallica and Guns N Roses from headbanging thrashers into gentle nursery divas. We have a couple of these CDs and I find them excruciating to listen to.  Again, they must be very popular because they keep making more, but I can’t handle an hour of harpsichords and glockenspiels even if they are playing “Bohemian Rhapsody”.  

I’m not saying all kids’ music is bad, but if I’m going to listen to something repeatedly why wouldn’t I want it to be something more palatable?  About a third of the people who responded to my survey said that they play The Beatles, Beach Boys or Bob Marley for their little Buffalo Soldiers.  A few people surprised me by saying that they played bands like Foo Fighters or Death Cab for Cutie. I can’t stand those bands when my wife listens to them, so there’s no way I’m playing them for my kid.

A tiny number of respondents said that they don’t alter their musical choices for their kids.  That’s the group I fit into. After experimenting with the previously mentioned CDs, I made the Little Dude his own playlist on my iPod. I whittled down my 12,000+ songs into about 800 that I thought he might like. Obviously he’s never told me he’s a big U2 or Police fan so I’ve used my judgment to select songs with bouncy rhythm, catchy lyrics and easily memorable choruses.  Those are many of the same criteria as the typical kids’ music, but my music is something everyone in the car can enjoy. As long as “everyone” is just me and my Little Dude.  

I’m starting a new feature called “Rockin’ Friday” here on the blog and today is the first day, so sit down and buckle your seatbelts. Every Friday I’m going to post a song that the Little Dude likes and a little info about it.

Today’s song is Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London”.  I started working on this post around Halloween, shortly after this song came up in my iPod’s shuffle one day.  I knew the Little Dude would like it because of the catchy piano rhythm and also the infamous chorus.  When Warren sings “A-hoooooooooo, Werewolves of London…”, my Little Dude joins in and howls like Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf when he's surfing on top of Stiles' van.  Sure the song mentions mutilating old ladies and drinking at Trader Vic’s, but I gloss over those lyrics while the Little Dude wails passionately in the back seat. 

What songs or bands do you play for your kids? What do they like or dislike?  

"His hair was perfect..."


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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New Kid In Town

Remember the first day of school and how much it always sucked?  If you were new in the neighborhood, maybe you’d met a neighbor or two who offered to show you the ropes. Or maybe everyone was a jerk. Either way, you had to go and make the best of it and hopefully get something out of the experience.

Much like when I started 10th grade, I had a similar experience attending the inaugural Dad 2.0 Summit bloggers conference in Austin, Texas recently.  After attending a local meetup for attendees, I was the lucky winner of a free pass to the event.  It was a little nerve-wracking to travel to an event with 200 dudes that I didn’t know and had to make new friends. In hindsight, I should have brought candy. Or, after meeting this group, liquor.

Let me preface things by saying that the weather in Texas sucked.  It was almost like if a typhoon and a hurricane had a baby in a Wal-Mart bathroom.  It was cold, wet, ugly and generally depressing.  But since I grew up in Ohio, it wasn’t that big of a difference to me.  
The view from my room upon arrival. 
The Hyatt Lost Pines is quite a distance from Austin proper. Once I got to the property, it was a few miles down a curvy road to the resort.  As a very curious person, I had to wonder why the posted speed limit on that road was 19mph. Not 20. Not 15.  As we got closer, another sign listed the limit as 11mph. As a generally curious person, I had to know why. I asked at the front desk, waiting for a quirky or creative Texan answer and all I got was an “Idaknow”.  Based on his eloquence, that guy must be a writer.

At the kickoff party that night, I quickly ran into the 3 people I’d met in LA and they introduced me to some other people and so on and so forth. My nerves were quickly settled, even though as a novice blogger in a world of big timers, I felt like a rookie called up to the big leagues for the first time.  The people I met were very friendly and outgoing while offering real insight and advice that was very useful.  So thank you to whoever paid for the open bar.

The peanut butter cookies were epic.
Over the next 3 days we ate more varieties of meat than I think are even legal in California. I think I saw something green to eat once during my trip, but it might have just been a bug or a napkin.  They fed us amazing homemade cookies at 10:30am each day, presumably to inspire us to behave for the keynote speakers.  That seemed ironic to me since most parents wouldn’t give their generally unruly kids cookies in order to get them to sit still for an extended period of time. 

I heard some great speakers, including both the opening and closing keynote speakers who detailed their experiences fighting the inner-ear malady tinnitus. My guess is they were kidnapped from a nearby hearing aid conference.

I gained practical advice from some amazing panels of expert bloggers who probably didn’t realize how inspirational they were to a newbie like me. Sometimes I just listened to their conversations and learned, like the previously mentioned rookie watching a veteran slugger taking batting practice at Spring Training.

I got to test drive the new Honda Pilot, which inspired me to want to figure out how to make money blogging since my own Pilot just turned 8 years old.  I learned that you shouldn’t call those famous building toys “Legos”. They are referred to as “Lego Bricks”.  They can also be referred to as “@$!#$!” after you step on them with your bare feet after giving them to your kid when you get home from a long trip.  I drank root beer after eating some fiery New Orleans-style beans and rice. This was primarily notable because I hadn’t had a root beer in over 20 years. So I had like 9 of them.  Even modesty is bigger in Texas.

I met some great writers whose work I’d admired from afar that I can now call friends.  I’ve also located a network of great writers who all live within 15 minutes of me whom I’d had no idea about just a few weeks ago.  And I learned that if you think it’s smart to go out at 1am in a city you don’t know, stick to McDonald’s and save yourself a big chunk of time.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dude vs Carnival

Yesterday morning, shortly after sleeping for just a few hours split between a bed and an airplane (after returning from HERE), I was tasked with one of my biggest challenges in my 2+ years as a parent: taking the Little Dude to a Purim Carnival while my wife attended a wedding shower.  Chasing an eager toddler around this type of sensory-overload event is exhausting enough on normal rest. While operating solely on Diet Mountain Dew and donuts, I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger on Father's Day: so much ground to cover and not sure where to begin. 

If you are unfamiliar with Purim, it’s sort of like a Jewish Halloween.  For example, both involve kids getting dressed up in costumes. Halloween involves kids being loaded down with voluminous amounts of chocolate and sugary treats.  Purim features some amazing triangle-shaped cookies called Hamentashen, which usually contain a sweet fruit filling in the middle.  Of course, the prune-filled Hamentashen is the Jewish equivalent of the box of raisins given out by your neighborhood’s old lady on Halloween. 

In the car, I asked the Little Dude if he knew what a carnival was and he responded with “I like carnivals”.  A phrase he repeated 97 times in the next 30 minutes, like when Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man repeats the radio ad for “97X – BAM – the future of rock and roll” over and over to his brother Tom Cruise while they are driving cross country.   

When we arrived and saw the brightly colored tents and giant rides, the Little Dude’s eyes grew as wide as the Ferris Wheel I had no intention of taking him on.  We ran into some friends, whose daughter was wearing a Princess costume.  If anyone asked, the Little Dude’s tie-dye shirt qualified him to be a Deadhead.

Our first stop was at the gouging station, aka the little booth where they sell tickets.  I debated how many to get and went with 25 for $20. I figured that if he chose not to ride or play anything, which wouldn’t have surprised me given his finicky nature, at least I could use them to get some grilled Hebrew National hot dogs (spoiler alert: I later did).

In an effort to start unloading the tickets I’d just purchased, we headed over to the one station I knew he would love: the pony rides. As we waited in line, the Little Dude stood on his tiptoes to check out the horses and the kids riding them.  As we moved up the line, we just missed the cut and were the last ones shut out on that round. So we stood and watched another batch of kids revolving atop the eternally sad looking mini-equines.  The Little Dude picked out which one he wanted to ride and after a few minutes I handed over the tickets and we went over to the biggest horse there.  There was only one problem: he wouldn’t get on.  I kept trying to lift him up and he did that classic toddler move utilized when they don’t want to do something: the dead-weight flop.  After a couple minutes I got him to pet the horse, thinking that might spark his interest in riding, but that was as close as he got.  The Yosemite Sam-looking guy working refunded the tickets and we went to look for other ways to spend all 25 of them. 

Not sure if my hand was still intact at this point.
There was a giant bumpy slide adjacent to the horses, but I figured there was no way he would go up the roughly 75 feet of stairs when he wouldn’t even get on the horse. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Double unfortunately, he was too small to go alone.  As I carried him up a steep and narrow metal staircase, I waited for him to change his mind like with the horse but he never did.  As we careened down the slippery slope, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my hand. When we landed at the bottom I noticed that my hand was bleeding profusely. I must have bumped into the barrier wall on our way down and left a chunk of skin for future passengers.  I suppose that could be a prize for one of the few who didn't win a goldfish that day.

So we went to look for the First Aid station, as my Diaper Dude bag was lacking in un-Dudely Band Aids. We walked into the tent and the doctor looked down at the Little Dude and asked him “Did you get a boo-boo?” To which I replied “no, but I did.” She cleaned me up and we went on a few more rides, including an epic car ride that not only caused whiplash as it ripped around each corner, but that caused half the contents to fly out of the diaper bag, including the Little Dude’s sippy cup filled with water.  At least I still had some extra tickets to get him a bottle of water and myself the aforementioned jumbo hot dog in my attempt to cure hunger, whiplash, sleep deprivation and jet lag in one nitrate-heavy fell swoop.

The afternoon with my Little Dude was worth every penny of that $20 and I can’t wait to do it again next year. Until then, I’ll have the scar on my hand as a reminder of the fun we shared, to go along with a case of Post Purim Depression now that the celebration is over. 

Little Dude riding a psychedelic Caterpillar. 

Let's BEE Friends

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Goodbye Blue Sky

In light of the recent tragedy at Chardon High School, I feel a pain that is difficult to truly express.  As a parent it’s hard to fathom that something like that could happen at any time and place to my innocent child. As someone who spent a considerable amount of time in Chardon while growing up, it’s just plain shocking.

It’s no secret that ours is a crazy world.  Incidents and accidents happen every day that unexpectedly and permanently separate loved ones.  Even though these situations are not preventable, they are no less tragic.

When T.J. Lane approached a table of random students in his school cafeteria last week and opened fire, he unexpectedly changed the course of countless lives. And not just the lives of his victims and their families, either.  The effects of his actions will have repercussions for decades to come. What if one of those three kids who died was the person who was ultimately going to cure cancer? Or become President?  How will the parents and siblings of these teens be affected by their loss for the rest of their lives?  

As my Little Dude is only 2, he is pretty much with either me or my wife 99% of the time.  But we are looking into pre-schools for him and it’s a scary thought.  I can’t fathom him being away from both of us, even if it’s only for a few hours each day.  Because once he is out of sight, I won’t be able to protect him and that’s really the ultimate mission of parents. 

T.J. Lane was charged with aggravated murder and has already admitted shooting his classmates and will be tried as an adult, so he’ll likely be locked up for a long time if not the rest of his life.  But sadly at 17, his life is already over, which is a tragedy unto itself.   It makes me wonder if this tragedy could have been prevented.  Did his parents, teachers, siblings and friends (if he had them) really miss all the warning signs? How did he get a gun and bullets?  I’m sure this will all be revealed during the course of his trials, but we’ll probably never really know the real motivation.

So why did this story affect me more than others?  The news was especially shocking to me because whenever you hear about these situations it’s usually somewhere else far away. If you live in Florida, it’s in Idaho. If you’re in Wyoming, it’s in Virginia, etc. Yes, I live in California, but I grew up in Northeastern Ohio and spent many amazing summers going to camp in Chardon.

Chardon was always a sleepy town at the end of a long two-lane road, known primarily for its maple syrup.   It’s not far from Cleveland, but not around the corner either.  My memories of Chardon include a perfectly blue sky during the day time and a million stars at night.  It was a magical place and I am lucky to still have friends that I made there 25+ years ago.  Some that I talk to regularly, some only occasionally via Facebook. Regardless, they are part of a large support system that I’ve been very lucky to have. People I could talk to when problems arise, or when I’m feeling down.  It’s tragic that T.J. Lane didn’t have that and as a result Chardon will never be the same.  

I'm once again linking up with a great panel of writers at Yeah Write #48. 
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