Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Explanation

Stef is a cheerleader for the football team, but she's admitted that she doesn't really understand the game at all. I've offered for her to watch the Giants with me but she repeatedly declined, until this past Sunday. Having to explain why there are four downs, why they are called downs, why the first down is called first down, why they need to go 10 yards and not more or less became a little exhausting, and that was just in the first five minutes. Trying to explain why a quarterback runs or throws (hint - it has to do with the 10 yard thing), why yellow flags are thrown, what a punt is; it all became a little much for the both of us. Stef slowly stopped asking questions and left after I yelled at Eli for throwing an interception that was returned 101 yards for a Cowboys touchdown. She doesn't understand why I hate the Cowboys so much (it's like asking why does the sun rises in the East - I don't know, it just does).

The whole thing reminded me of one of George Carlin's best routines - the difference between baseball and football. I can't figure out how to link to it here - just search George Carlin baseball versus football and it will pop up.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


This Halloween was bittersweet, and not just because a neighbor handed out grapefruits and sweet tarts (okay I'm kidding. It was grapefruits and twizzlers). This was the first Halloween where Stef did the friend trick-or-treating thing. Because I was with Stef a lot on Friday and Saturday, I was privy to the extensive texting, phone calls, and in-person meetings necessary to get five pre-teen girls to agree (eventually) on a meeting spot. I didn't even ask her if she wanted to trick or treat with Jess and I, fearing it would shoot me into some type of Halloween-induced fourth dimension for interfering with the sanctity of the first ever friend-trick-or-treating-without-my-parents-plan.

I still vividly remember walking a 16 month old Stef through the Scotch Plains Municipal Building, her Blues Clues tail wagging back and forth as I tried to explain to her that if she held out her bag a stranger would drop a piece of candy in it. This was her first official active participation in trick or treating; at 4 months old we pushed her around in her stroller up the block for all of 5 minutes, her annoyance with an itchy pumpkin costume soon abundantly transparent.

It's another example of the "they grow up so fast" axiom, although she still isn't too old to share a tootsie roll with the old man.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Triple Header

My highlight of the week continues to be watching the girls play soccer. This weekend was great because Stef's game was on Sunday so I got to watch both girls play. Saturday, Jess had 2 games; we had to leave at 6:30 am to make it to the tournament by 7:30, but we had fun listening to radio Disney on the way there. Her team has some awesome players, including herself. Unfortunately, they have yet to win a game.

The coach sent a note to the parents this week saying that the girls have caught onto the fact that they haven't won a game. He didn't mention if they've caught onto the fact that they've been outscored by a googleplex. I was told during the sign-up period in July that every team should win 5 and lose 5 games, not including tournament play, although every team should play .500 ball there as well. Without questioning his sincerity, I guess I'm looking forward to the 12 week winning streak over the next four weeks.

The first game Saturday was a close one. Jess scored the first goal of the game on a great shot, and her team led 1-0 at the half, the first time all year they have led a game at any point. Five minutes into the second half, her team had given up two quick goals, and they lost 2-1.

There was a 2 1/2 hour break between games, and in true seven year-old fashion, rather than head to a diner or a Dunkin' Donuts to relax, Jess stayed and played with some of her teammates on the playground. I spoke to a lot of the parents and parent-coaches between games, and we all agreed that the girls have amazingly talent (the roster is made up of girls who basically scored at will last year on the smaller, goalie-less fields) but they are still learning how to play on a field that's ten times larger than last year, and on teams that now have goalies.

Game two was expected to be much tougher because the girls they were playing were older. Jess's team was outshot 20-0 in the first ten minutes; our goalie should have been wearing hockey goalie pads based on the speed of the shots. Corner kicks flew in across the mouth of the goal, two on ones quickly became four on ones, but because of the outstanding goalie play and the fact that goalposts can stop shots the score was only 4-0 by halftime. In the second half Jess drew the short straw and played goalie. She played well, giving up only two goals on shots that would have been over my head. Jess still had fun, the weather was great, and I put Mr. "the goal is that every team play .500 ball" out of my mind until this post.

Stef's game on Sunday was great. She played the most aggressive soccer I've ever seen her play. She scored a great goal from about ten yards out, and nearly had another one. In the second half she switched to playing defense. At one point she ran across the field to chase down another player and knock the ball out of bounds. She also knocked the ball out of the box a few times when the other team threatened to score. Stef has always been able to excel at whatever she puts her mind to, and it is great to see her play so well this year.

Thanks girls.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


The other night Jess and I were sitting on the couch and I noticed she had these cool jeans (for a seven year old) that had some beads in the shape of a heart, some torn threads on one leg and a small hole in the other leg around the knee. "Those are cool, they call them distressed jeans," I said. Jess replied, "No, these just have a hole in them."

I was never a clothes horse.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I was raking leaves the other morning and found a quarter half-buried in the ground. I handed it to Jessica and said, "Look, I found a quarter, put it in your bank." She looked at me pensively, so I said, "It's okay, I found it next to my car; it probably fell out of my pocket."

She replied, "Well, my friend lost some quarters when we had our lemonade stand, so I think it's hers." We gave her friend the quarter today. I found out that the lemonade stand was in August.

What a good friend!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Competition

I got home early enough tonight to play the Wii with Jessica. We are like McEnroe vs. Borg on Wii tennis. She still doesn't understand the scoring but we will rally for quite a while over each point. Tonight she beat me in tennis, we tied in baseball, and I barely beat her in bowling and in mini-golf. I like that she's competitive but the whole time we will make jokes to make each other laugh. She also threw out a golfism during mini-golf. Hitting a putt short, she admonished herself, "C'mon, hit the ball." I've only said that 10 times a round for 25 years.

After a couple hours of Wii, we pretty much called it a night, but not before she beat me in two games of Mancala. I've never been able to figure that game out.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Power Shower

According to a consumer survey from the U.K., men and women spend roughly equal time in the shower each day - a woman spends about 10 minutes, 40 seconds in the shower, while men average 10 minutes, 1 second.

According to an informal observation by me, the men and women of this household would average 10 minutes in the shower per day as well, provided I cut my shower down to 14 seconds.

The point is the girls tend to linger in the shower, particularly Jess. Tonight I was lost in thought reading the latest issue of Rolling Stone when I noticed 15 minutes had slipped away. "Jess, it's time to finish up," I told her. "Okay," she replied. "I just need to wash my body and rinse my hair."

On second thought, let's cut that to 6 seconds.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Every once in a while I think about how the girls will view the world when they get older. Specifically, I wonder if they will someday consider themselves a liberal or a conservative. I don't care, except being a liberal means setting yourself up for a lifetime of frustration and disappointment. The entire Democratic party needs a fireside chat from FDR, stat.

I bring this up because of what Stef wrote for us to read at the back to school night for parents. In writing about herself, she mentioned the following beliefs:

- people should be treated equally
- teenagers shouldn't litter
- she believes in giving food to the food bank
- trees shouldn't be cut down

Well at least she didn't mention taxing the rich.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Last weekend the girls and I were invited to see the Rangers play the Devils at the Rock. At one time hockey was a popular sport, particularly in the late 80s and early 90s. Today, it's on nobody's radar. If hockey were a celebrity, it would be Ian Ziering. Yes, I know, who indeed.

Anyway, hockey is still a great sport to see live, the tickets were free, and Jess was happy to be going with one of her friends. The last time I went to a hockey game the girls weren't even born, and Ian Ziering was enjoying a comfortable career on 90210. It's been so long that I forgot about the atmosphere associated with a hockey game, namely:

1) The fighting: There were at least five fights during the game, including one in which a Ranger player ducked and covered his head to avoid a further beatdown. During the first fight, I glanced at Steffi, who looked like someone witnessing the ice turning into a burning ring of fire. I told her that hockey is one of the few endeavors, other than boxing, mixed martial arts, or being a Real World cast member, where fighting is condoned, if not encouraged. By the end of the third fight, Jess and her friend were slow motion fighting with each other.

2) The Cursing: In 1979, when I was a hockey fanatic, Denis Potvin of the Islanders broke Ranger Ulf Nilsson's ankle with a hip check. To this day, when a fan finishes whistling a short tune, the crowd will chant "POTVIN SUCKS!!!" What does this have to do with last Saturday's game? Well, the Devils fans have taken over that chant by following the whistling tune with "RANGERS SUCK!!!" Stef was intrigued by the clear, distinct whistling preceding this fairly frequent chant.

3) The Scoring (and Cursing): Since the mid-90s, scoring has been way down in hockey. On the positive side, Saturday's game had lots of scoring, with the Rangers winning 5-4 in OT. On the negative side, each Devils score was followed by Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll" playing full blast, which included the fans chanting, "HEY...YOU SUCK" after every goal. I assumed this was aimed at the Rangers, not Gary Glitter.

4) The Chanting (and Cursing): I loved going to hockey games when I was younger. Ranger fans would yell "Let's go Rangers", which in turn led Islander fans to yell "1940" (which prior to 1994 was the last Ranger's Stanley Cup win). Since "1940" is no longer in play, the Devils fans reacted to each "Let's Go Rangers" chant with, "RANGERS SUCK!!" It should be noted here that the Devils play a very predictable, vanilla form of hockey. Evidently their fans use the same approach to berating an opponent.

All in all, the girls had a blast and are interested in going to another game. I'm not sure if they could understand what was happening down on the ice, but I had no doubt by the end of the night they knew who sucked.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Question

Last night Jessica wanted to have a friend over for a sleepover. Below are excerpts of the conversation

Jess: "Where is Mommy?"

Me: "She's out. Why?"

Jess: "I want to invite (redacted) over for a sleepover, but Mommy's not here."

Me: "Well, I'm an adult too (sometimes), and I'm okay with it. Why don't you call your friend and invite her over?"

Jess on phone to friend: "Do you want to come over for a sleep over? Great! Ummm, hold on."

Jess to me: "Daddy, where is Mommy?"

Me: "She's out, what's your question?"

Jess: "What time can she come over?"

Me: "Whenever she wants to."

Jess (after hanging up phone) "Um, I need to call Mommy and tell her. What should I say?"

Me: "Tell Mommy that the Man of the House decided it was okay for your friend to sleep over."

Jess on phone (I overheard from another room): "Mommy, (redacted) can sleep over. I'm so excited. What? Ummm, Daddy wanted me to tell you something. The Man of the House said it was okay."

Full disclosure: I was told ahead of time that the sleepover might happen. Without that knowledge, this would have been the conversation:

Jess: "I want to invite (redacted) over for a sleepover."

Me: "Where's Mommy?"

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Half, Full Day

One of the things I try to do with the girls is to have them look at the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. Stef has started playing a guitar, basically strumming chords herself to see if she likes it. This morning she told me she started writing a song, but it only has two chords in it. I told her that was twice as many chords as a John Lee Hooker song, and he was one of the greatest blues artists of all time. I think she thinks I'm making these things up...but so far I haven't had to do so.

Later on this morning, Stef told me she'd rather play offense on her soccer team, but she didn't win the tryout for offense so instead she's a midfielder. I told her that Franz Beckenbauer was one of the most famous soccer players of all time, and he was a midfielder. In fact, midfielders are considered the field general of the entire soccer team.

But the last glass is half-full moment of the day came not from me, but from Jessica. She had her first two games of the year in travel soccer. In the first game, her team looked a little overwhelmed. The team is all new, they've only practiced once, and the field is 4 times bigger than the field they played on last year. The other team had what looked like future World Cup stars, kept the ball on offense the entire time, and scored 5 goals while taking about 84 shots. Jess barely touched the ball at all.

During the game, I thought maybe it was a mistake to sign her up for travel soccer. She went from scoring 8-10 goals a game to trying without success to chase Pele Patty sprinting down the field with the ball on a string.

After the game, when I asked her what she thought, she said "It was awesome. I love soccer!" And in the second game, the team played much better, Jesse had a few shots on goal, and she scored right before the end of the game.

The day was only half over, but it was definitely half-full.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I was watching a Today Show segment yesterday morning on Barack Obama and his kids. He is amazed at how fast his kids are growing up, and can't believe that his oldest daughter has gone from infant to near-teen in the blink of an eye.

The story reminded me that this is the first President that I share even a little bit of a lifestage with, since our kids are roughly the same age. It must be similar to the feeling the Boomers had when Clinton was elected, or the fake cowboys had when W. was elected.

This might be the first time I actually agreed with Obama on something. Frankly, I'd rather find agreement with him on his approach to fixing the financial collpase, his health care policy, his military strategy...I could go on. While not even the leader of the free world can stop the march of time, hopefully the President will realize that everything else is within his power to change for the better.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Cell Phone

Today was a day Steffi has been looking forward to for months – the day she got a cell phone. Why today? Because last September we told her we would get her one in August before she went to middle school, and she circled this day on the calendar.

So Stef and I went to the Verizon store today and picked out a phone. She loves it. It’s blue, it’s got a slide out QWERTY keypad, a camera, and best of all, her own cell phone number.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, it has one more thing. I asked the salesman what packages they had to help parents monitor a child’s cellphone. “You mean the Lojack Tracker?” he bellowed in a voice that rattled the walls of the store. Before the echo subsided, Steffi asked, “You want to track where I am on the cell phone?”

The first thought running through my head at that moment was why Verizon calls such a thing the Lojack Tracker. Couldn't it be called Rainbows and Sunshine, Project Candy Cane, or something innocuous so your pre-teen doesn’t know what it is. Why not the Clean Up Your Room? Kids stop paying attention after that phrase.

I sounded like George Bush when it was discovered he had been wiretapping our phone calls for years. “I don’t want the service to spy on you,” I explained to Steffi. “I want the service so I can protect you.”

In the end, Steffi was happy, Verizon got another customer, and I had a new appreciation for W. Okay, let's just say two out of three ain't bad.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Collection

This was the content of the note I saw first thing this morning when I went downstairs to get a cup of coffee:


every kind of si lly band there is that we don't have

J+8 (scribbled out)

J and S

I didn't need the "J" to figure out this was the work of Jessica, the ultimate collector queen. She absolutely loves things that are part of a collection, whether it's Care Bears, Webkinz, Silly Bandz or the Fairy Books, a collection of 101,407 fairy books that are themed in groups of seven books ("the weather fairies", the "rainbow fairies" the "pet fairies" etc.) "Foods that start with the letter Q fairies" and "neo-conservative leader fairies" rounds out that series.

Luckily Jessica picks things that are relatively inexpensive, and these collections don't always overlap (there was a heavy up period in Care Bear activity a few years ago, while the fairy books are within the last year). Although it's waned, I'll occasionally come home to see 25 Care Bears staring back at me from the couch, a sure sign that Jessica was watching a Care Bears movie.

I think she gets this from me. Out of the ten hats I own nine of them are some form of Giants hat (but each one is different, as Jessica would say). I also own most Rolling Stones albums, including buying Exile on Main Street in every form except traveling minstrel.

I am happy that Jess shows such devotion to her toys. And if this Christmas I can find "Sports Fairies" Silly Bandz with Barbie Fairy names in Care Bear colors, I will have hit the jackpot.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thinking Ahead

The girls were glad to see me tonight after a quick business trip, running outside to greet me and excitedly telling me about their day. Jessica, in a clear example of thinking ahead, told me that for her next birthday party (about 9 months away) she "wants to combine her two favorite things - art...and sleeping."

I suppose we can do an art sleepover party. Not sure what exactly it means, but we have a lot of time to figure it out.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Last week the girls and I went to the pool for the afternoon. At one point, Jessica needed to make her third trip to the bathroom. Jess asked if Stef could go with her - again - at which point Stef said no. I offered to take Jess, but she gave me the "I'd rather do math homework for 4 hours a night" look.

As Jess left, Stef asked me why Jess always asks her to take her to the bathroom. I said, "Probably because she feels safer if you are with her."

Without saying a word, Steffi got up to join her sister. As they returned, I could see them quietly holding hands.

That's why Stef is a great sister.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

That's Rough

This morning Jess and I went to the clubhouse at the Scotch Plains Country Club to get her fitted for her soccer uniform. Walking out, I showed her the putting green to the right of the building. "Wow, this grass is very, very short," she said. "Why are there three sizes of grass?" she asked.

I explained that the green has the shortest grass, that the next level is called the fringe, and the tall grass is called the rough. "Oh," she said after a moment. "So our yard is the rough." "Yes, exactly," I replied. I cut the grass when we got home.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Back in the Day

A couple of weeks ago the whole fam was in the car, and we were talking about the grumpy tendencies of someone who, shall we say, lives in a vacinity close enough to us that our family has had occasion to witness his grumpy tendencies (okay, he's a neighbor). I mentioned that my guess is he's not a grumpy old man, just a grumpy man. Steffi asked me what I meant. I said, "He's old school. He probably was very strict and would yell at his kids over anything at any time. Look at the way he talks to his family now; he doesn't tolerate anything. It's not his fault; back in the day that's the way dads were."

Steffi sounding perplexed, said, "But you don't scream and get mad at us and you're a dad." I was going to say something about getting mad sometimes, but instead took the compliment as a sign that my kids see me as a dad and not a big dude to be afraid of and avoid. I suppose back in the day this approach would make a grumpy man even grumpier, but considering the way people run the world today perhaps all that grumpy child rearing wasn't the best approach.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Soccer stuff

The girls last soccer games of the year took place this week. Stef helped lead her team to a goal with a great throw-in to a teammate who passed to another girl who scored. Stef's team hasn't lost a game in 2 years, but they gave up a goal in the last minute to tie. Her coach is great so I hope she continues to play and he's her coach. Jessica had 6 goals in her game - the last one involved her and her opponent running neck and neck down the field - Jessica kicked the ball in, followed by her and the other girl flying into the goal. She also hustled back on defense repeatedly to knock the ball away. She definitely had her game face on - especially when I cheered from the sideline and she would shoot me a glare. Luckily she told me afterward it didn't bother her.

The girls and I have been playing soccer in the yard, desperately trying not to hit my car or the plants. We are 0 for 2 in that regard. We are also watching the World Cup. Every game they ask me who I want to win, then root for that team. They will watch for 20 minutes or so before they revert to 95 percent of Americans and not care. Saturday South Korea was up 2-0 on Greece and Steffi said that Korea should let Greece score - that's what her coach would do so the other team doesn't feel bad. I told you he was a good coach.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fresh Perspective

Last night the fam was in the car and we passed a Subway (the sandwich shop, not the rail system) and I said, "I haven't had a Subway Sandwich since Steffi got sick eating one." Jessica asked, "What do you mean Steffi got sick eating from Subway?" After we all explained the particulars of Steffi's first experience with what we expect was food poisoning, Jessica seemed outraged. "Wait a minute, you mean Subway EAT FRESH from the commercials?" Their food is fresh!" Loren explained that while Subway makes fresh food, perhaps this particular store didn't follow all the rules. Jessica mumbled something about "they should all be fresh" and got her first "taste" of how reality doesn't always match an advertising claim.

I don't have the heart to tell her about BP's ten year "beyond petroleum" advertising campaign touting, clean, renewable energy sources and environmentally conscious practices.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Meal

For Mother's Day the girls were all excited to make breakfast in bed for mom. Jessica rumbled out of bed a little after seven and stared at me like a hungry wolf until I put down my breakfast spoon and my Sunday Daily News and agreed to get the morning breakfast going.

We had so much fun that later that day Stef and I decided to make a special Mom's Day dinner. We created a restaurant called Cafe Schramm (this took 4 seconds to name) and developed a menu for the evening. We decided on:

Italian bread with fresh mozzarella, olive oil, and basil (I forgot the tomatoes)
Spinach salad
Lobster bisque (bought, not made)
Steak (with rice and steamed broccoli)
Schramm Surprise (some fruit concoction with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, whipped cream and crumbled angel food cake we found on the Intergoogles)

Stef, Jess and I looked like we were on the set of Iron Chef. Ingredients were furiously chopped, diced, and spiced; pans flew around the kitchen like lies at a Glenn Beck town hall, and several beers were consumed while I ran from kitchen stove to outdoor grill to check on the steaks.

Jessica acted as our server, offering up a hand-designed menu and a glass of red wine to start the meal. We had a great time cooking together, and I realized that the girls know a lot more about cooking than I do. They threw out terms from various cooking shows and seemed to know where everything was in the kitchen (although Jess didn't know by "thingy" I was referring to a small saucepan, not a colander.

In the end, we all had such a blast that we agreed to cook something together at least one more time in 2010.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pay? I'd Play This Game for Free

Because the girls both play and enjoy soccer, we recently took them to a Red Bulls game. I wanted to show them how many of the skills the girls have and the techniques their coaches talk about translate at the professional level. It was also an excuse to get them to ANY professional sporting event. I've often mentioned going to a baseball game, but it is met with the same response I'd have if someone asked me to go to a Sarah Palin fundraiser. Going to a football game is out ("too violent" and "too much falling down" according to the girls) as is basketball (no interest) and hockey (are adults even interested in hockey at this point?)

The game was great, the girls had a lot of fun, and they were amazed at the players. During the game, we started talking about professional soccer in general. I told them soccer hasn't been as successful as other sports in the U.S., but players can still make a great salary. Stef interjected, "They get paid? I thought they were doing this for our entertainment." I explained that they were doing it for our entertainment and yes they were getting paid; in fact the two are intertwined.

Jess was looking out on the field during this exchange, then leaned into me and asked, "Daddy, I could get PAID to play soccer?" "Yes, you can get paid to play soccer if you work really hard and are very good at it." I think the wheels started turning in her head, processing how to become the first professional artist/soccer player.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mac & Cheese & A Nice Gesture

Last night we got home after celebrating their cousin's first communion. The girls were hot, tired, and hungry. Stef asked if they could have Stouffer's Mac and Cheese, a default meal that always satisfies. I said yes, unloaded the car, took out the garbage, and came back in the kitchen to see Stef already over by the microwave. I figured I would fix the girls dinner (after all, you only need the microwave) but Stef said "It's okay daddy, I already made Jessica's and now I just need to make mine." Okay, it's just a small gesture but I love that Stef thought of her sister over herself. I'm pretty sure Jessica was oblivious to the whole thing but it was just the latest example that shows me that Stef will always look out for Jess.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Catching Up

Here's a few of the things I've been doing with the girls since the last post...

Daddy/Daughter Dance: Stef and I had a great time at the Daddy/Daughter Dance. This time we actually spent most of the time dancing with each other. She had such a great time that she said she wants to stick with girl scouts another year so we can go to the dance again. Funny line of the night - we were one of the first ones there, so we went through the buffet line and ate, and were finished before any of her friends showed up. So Stef and I are just standing around - music is playing but without a DJ, every one's still eating, the place is half empty. After about three minutes, she asks me to bend down and she says, "Daddy, I don't know what to do." At that moment, neither did I. We got a cookie.

Soccer: I've been able to sneak out of work to check out Jessica soccer practices the last two weeks. She is still very aggressive going after the ball; I think it's because she's been playing for a couple of years now. There's two looks that crack me up - one is the scowl when someone blocks one of her shots, the other is the distain she shows towards anyone who tries to push her off the ball. She has the eye of the tiger (notice it's tiger with a lower case "t"; not eye of the Tiger, which is evidently an extremely wandering eye.)

Class Trip: I was a chaperon for Jessica's class trip to Jenkinson's aquarium on Friday. We learned all about seals, sharks, penguins and all different types of fish. Prior to the tour, we played some arcade games where Jesse informed me that "if there was a professional skeeball team I would be on it."

I was in charge of keeping an eye on Jesse and one of her friends, who would be on a pro Rock Paper Scissors team if there was one, as evidenced by her repeated domination of Jess and I throughout lunch and the bus ride home. She leans toward paper but knowing this didn't help me.

Talent Show: Stef and Jess were amazing in the talent show. Stef did a solo ("The Climb") and a dance number with three of her friends - both of which were fantastic. Jess did a group number to The Gummi Bear song - and was dancing and smiling the whole time. She told me that next year she wants to do a solo herself and also a song with Stef. She also told me at dinner that celery should be called "watery" because I told her celery is mostly water, a fact that didn't make her want to eat celery any more than I do.

Games: Jess and I have been playing the World's Longest Game of Balloon Lagoon, a very fun game that we have been playing in five minute increments over the last week. At the very least she gets ready for school quicker so we can play.

Music: The Bruce Springsteen channel on Sirius is the default radio station I play in the car. I'm a sucker for any bootleg version of Kitty's Back. Anyway, Stef still believes every band I listen to features a singer that screams rather than sings. I recently played her Nirvana live to show her that screaming singers is a relative term.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Trap

Jesse and I spent a lot of time this past weekend talking about her plans to trap a leprechaun the night before St. Patrick's Day. The trap involves a shoebox filled with a number of rooms and furniture made out of construction paper - a bed, a couch, a television, windows...there's even a small ladder for him to climb to get up into the shoebox. She also has a note for the leaprechaun that says "don't be afraid" because she doesn't want to hurt him, she just wants him to grant her a wish. We're in the midst of figuring out how to set the trap so that when he enters the shoebox to eat the lucky charms we've left, the lid of the shoebox will close shut. I have watched "Survivorman" so I think I can figure something out. We also plan on placing it near a nightlight so he won't be trapped in the dark.

Steph, who started this a couple years ago, came up with her own elaborate trap for the leprechaun, which is about five times the size of Jessica's.

I'm not sure if we will be successful in catching the elusive little guy, but the girls are hoping that at least the leprechaun messes up the house, becasue we all know how much mischief they create. I have a feeling he'll be able to pull that off.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Path

Lewis and Clark. Neil Armstrong. The Lombardi-era offensive line of the Green Bay Packers. Each in their own way blazed a new trail, created a new path, made a lasting difference; whether it was going west, landing on the moon or clearing a path for Bart Starr to get in the endzone and win the Ice Bowl.

I bring this up because in their own way, the girls created a path for the rest of our town to follow when we had the big "Snow-tacular" on Wednesday. We were so excited to get to the golf course and sled down the hills that we were the first ones out there. Our first oh, 20 attempts or so consisted of Stef and Jess sliding about ten feet, much too slow and much too disappointing for either of them. But I eventually convinced them that if they created a smooth path they would slide down the hill very fast and very easily. I kept thinking of that Lombardi locker room speech where he drew a play on the chalkboard: "We want to create a seal HERE, and a seal HERE, and run the ball UP THE MIDDLE."

Anywho, back to "Snowmageddon" (actually, a side note first. With global warming causing much harsher weather, will newscasters feel obligated to jazz up every storm with a ridiculous name? And yes Drudge, it's so funny that we're talking global warming and it's snowing out. The people of Arizona and Texas certainly thought so, especially since they haven't seen that much accumulation since...never.)

Okay, so we're back on the hill on the golf course. The girls and I continued to make a path, helped by a friendly woman who let us borrow her giant inner tube to make the path wider, more quickly. Soon after, dozens of people came up the hill, following the path that we had so earnestly created. Soon, the girls experienced their customary luge-like runs down the hill, followed by frequent hugging, laughing and pushing of each other in the snow.

Whatever you decided to call it - "snowmageddon," "snow-tropolis" or "Olympia Snowefall," the girls and I had a blast.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Kitchen

Yesterday Steffi wanted to help me with the various appetizers I was making for the Super Bowl. Of course I didn't start making the food until 5 o'clock, and since my cooking skills generally stop at pouring soup in a pot I felt very much like a chef on Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. Luckily Stef was there. She knew where all the different ingredients were, knew where the various pots and pans were located, and basically "took over" the kitchen as Gordon would say.

Thank you Steffi; not only did you help me in the kitchen, you helped me get to the couch by opening kickoff.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Two years ago, the best part of the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl was how much the girls got into the game. Okay, maybe that's not entirely accurate. The best part was the actual win by the Giants, but still, I was excited at how excited they were. We went to family swim at the Y to get our minds off the long wait for the game. We bought enough snacks to feed an NFL team. We cooked various kinds of apps. We cheered Eli, booed Brady, discussed why Tiki Barber wasn't there and why Michael Strahan had such a big gap in his front teeth. The girls were in bed by halftime but were excited to know what happened when they got up the next day.

I generally have a serious post-Giants-Super Bowl letdown, so last year I could not get into the game at all. No watching the game together, no talk of Tiki, nary a chicken wing to be had. But since Eli's older brother (as he is referred to in this household) is playing this Sunday, I'm thinking of getting back in the game, so to speak. Steffi is already on board; I just have to convince Jesse that Peyton is as cute as Eli.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Body English

The girls and I have been doing a steady amount of Wii'ing since Santa Wii'd down the chimney on Christmas Eve. We're very big on Wii Sports, and as the girls found out from the beginning, I'm very big on body English, particularly with bowling. The first time Jess saw me lean over on one leg to nudge a pin for a spare, she said, "Dad, what are you doing?" I replied, "It's body English - it helps move the ball where you want it." She looked at me like I just told her I was the President. I can't help it that I watched "This Week in Baseball" religiously as a kid, which ended every broadcast with Carlton Fisk waving his shot to left field fair to win Game 6 of the '75 Series in the 12th inning.

Anyway, the last few times Jess and I have played I have seen a tremendous amount of body English from her, including the twirl, the fist pump, the hip check, and "the Pele" (falling on her knees and extending her arms and face to the heavens). Tonight during out fierce bowling match (won by her) she finished off a strike with a twirl - and a warning - "Don't mess with the Jess!"

Sunday, January 24, 2010

True Blue

Yesterday I was playing Madden Football when Jess walked in the room. The Giants (my team) were playing the Chargers in the Super Bowl. She asked if I always chose the Giants as my team and I said yes. She was quiet for a minute, then said, "Um, daddy. A lot of people at school are Jets fans." I told her that the Jets are close to the Super Bowl and a lot of people are rooting for them. She had this 'I have to confess something' look on her face. "Um, Daddy?" she began. "A lot of people were cheering for the Jets at school yesterday, and I did too because everyone else was, but on the inside I was rooting for the Giants." I told her she can root for any team she wants. And to myself I muttered, "As long as it's not the Dallas Cowboys."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's Been a Long Ride

Okay, it's been a while since I posted anything. Me and the girls have been having a blast, which I'll talk about in the near future. However, the most recent discussion in the homestead has been "the car." I finally broke down and replaced the 12 year-old, 171,000+ mile Ford Escort that was the envy of anyone who ever said, "You know what, I'm going to ride this car into the ground." Like Eli Manning in a two minute drill, that car had a "never quit" mindset. All the years, miles, and yes, accidents have gotten that car no closer to "in the ground" than the Democrats have of getting us a national health care system.

But what does any of this have to do with the girls? I believe they are actually happier than me to have a new car. To quote Steffi, "Now I can actually open the door to get out!" (Okay, so the back right door didn't open from the inside. I looked at it as friendly chauffeur service from a Dad to his first born child.)

When I pulled in the driveway last night in the new Ford Fusion, the girls came running out of the house all excited. After telling Jess to get rid of her ice cream before stepping into a new car that I've owned for 20 minutes, she and her sister jumped in the back seat and started checking out the cup holders, the moon roof, the stereo and everything else important to a child in a car. It was too late to go for a spin, and tonight didn't work out either. Their anticipation level for riding in the car is so high that I dare say it could only match what Neil Armstrong must have felt after strapping himself into a rocket to go hurtling towards the moon.

To underscore why the girls are so excited for the car, and why it's been such a topic of conversation in my house, I'd like to spend a moment to reflect on what the American landscape was like when first brought the Ford Escort home in early 1998. Consider that:

The only reality show on television was "The Real World"

Director James Cameron would soon win a best picture Oscar for his hit movie Titanic.

Eli Manning was the star of his high school football team. Brett Favre's Packers had recently lost the Super Bowl to John Elway's Denver Broncos.

Thursday nights on NBC consisted of Friends, Seinfeld, and ER. Everyone in America was gearing up for the Seinfeld finale that May.

George W. Bush was Governor of Texas. (sigh)

Roger Maris was baseball's all-time Home Run King with 61 homers. The talk of spring training was that Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa or Ken Griffey Jr. would break Maris' record that season.

The Sony Walkman was a cultural icon. There was no such thing as an iPod.

Netscape was one of the most popular Web browsers. There was no Google.

Howard Stern was on K-Rock in NYC. There was no national Sirius satellite radio, no XM radio, and defintely no Sirius/XM radio.

The name Britney Spears did not ring a bell.

Hillary Clinton complained of a "vast right wing conspiracy" on the Today Show.

I was married for 4 months. There was no house, no kids, no blog.

Thanks for the ride - it was great!