Pessimistic Optimism

Life as I see it… sort of.

Yummy, Blleh, Bbllleeehhh, Yummy

We decided to hit the town last night because I forgot to make dinner. After a brief discussion my wifewe decided to eat Italian… food that is. Like many parts of the country, I’d have to guess, WNY has a plethora of Italian restaurants to choose from so we decided on a local place instead of a chain, like Olive Garden or Carabba’s. This is by no means a slam against chains because we frequent some of them semi-regularly such as Friday’s, Applebee’s and Hooters.

The downpour taking place outside livened up the ride to the place of our choosing, because what kid doesn’t enjoy a little hydroplaning? Our chosen destination ended up being a banquet hall and take-out place so we continued on down the road. The trip was now one of forced spontaneity and we were no longer limiting ourselves to Italian.

We passed on a burger joint and an overcrowded place that I had heard good things about. Then we saw a familiar name that neither my wife or I had actually eaten at called Shannon Pub and everyone knows that the Irish are known for their good food so we decided to give it a try.

The establishment consisted of a near-empty eating side and a raucous eating and drinking side, so with us being the responsible parents that we are, we chose the latter. It was an excellent decision because the vice-ridden sights and sounds captured the interests of its two youngest patrons. We, the next two youngest customers, were equally enthralled by the gathering of people who obviously had at least one helping of the day’s special, loud-mouth soup.

Our daughter commented that the music being played was from Riverdance, which she went to the other day, before she started coloring in a coloring book that we don’t leave home without and our son played with cars, of course, while we ordered our food and beverages. Being an Irish place, I ordered a Black & Tan, which is half a Guinness and half a lighter beer. My friends that drink Guinness think that I’m a wimp for doing this to a perfectly good stout.

The salads and dinner rolls were delivered to our table in a timely fashion, so we all started munching on something. The boy must’ve chipmunked his whole dinner roll without us noticing until it was too late. It started with a few small pieces exiting his pleading mouth, and then progressed rapidly from there. By the time I grabbed a napkin to catch the ever-flowing vomitus, his bib, his crotch, the highchair and the carpet were blanketed with chunks. The whole thing seemed to come in three waves, each one a little more violent.

My wife and I looked at our soiled son and waited to see if the show was over. It appeared to be so when he smiled. I immediately started wiping him down and my wife went to get more napkins. I looked around for a second and noticed amazingly that no one seemed to notice any of this.  Maybe the fact that this is an Irish bar, they’re just used to people puking at their tables.

Because of the lack of making a scene, we undressed and redressed our two-year-old with fresh clothes right at our table. Having a change of clothes with us came in handy this time, and saved us from having to make a parental decision to leave or let the puker sit in soggy, stinky clothes.

When my son smiled I hoped knew he was okay. When we sat him in the newly retrieved highchair the boy immediately resumed playing with his cars. At about this time a man and his guitar took the stage to sing some Irish songs.

The entrees arrived shortly after this and like I hoped knew, the boy devoured his mac ‘n cheese and fries. My wife’s Guinness stew was out of this world and my shepherd’s pie scalded the roof of my mouth repeatedly. I think they have time-released heaters inside of it because every time I took a bite something in the middle branded my tongue. When I was finally able to taste it, it was delicious.

The kids were enthralled with the singer and we all gave a well-deserved round of applause after each tune. A man eating dinner right next to the stage played the spoons on a few of the songs. He took bites in between and I swear I almost got hit with a piece of corned beef during one of the fast ones. My son was actually the culprit, not the spoon player, but the oddest thing about it was that none of us were eating corned beef.

We boxed up the leftovers and packed up the coloring book, crayons and cars and walked toward the deluge taking place outside. Before we left my wife warned the waitress about the original highchair and all the nasty napkins sitting on it. She smiled and said no problem. I’m sure her facial expression changed rapidly when she actually saw the carnage.

Last night was a great experience for us because we proved to ourselves that we could handle an unexpected change in plans and a little lot of projectile vomiting without missing a beat. Shannon Pub be warned because we will be back.


April 27, 2007 Posted by | family, Humor, kids, life, parenthood, parenting | 7 Comments

Morning Drive

To keep what’s left of my sanity and broaden my kid’s horizons I decided to take them on the road.  Not in the traditional sense, like with a rock band or the Ice Capades, but to somewhere that wasn’t our house.

In some people’s eyes going to breakfast, grocery shopping and the bank might not sound like much, but to The Gang of 3, AKA Daddy, Daughter and Son, it was an adventure full of potential.

My wife helped dress the little critters and me before she headed out to work where she makes sure all the necessary parts go to all the necessary places in a timely fashion.  Before you ask, she’s not an employee of the U.S. postal service; I did say a timely fashion.  She probably saved me at least an hour by also “doing” my daughter’s doo (as in hair).  My partner-in-life half-jokingly told me a while back that she’s going to get me one of those Barbie heads to practice “doing” hair on to improve my mad hairstyling skills.  Surprisingly she hasn’t mentioned it again since she saw me drool all over one at Target when I thought she wasn’t looking.  In my defense, have you taken a gander at one of these things?  She’s It’s hot.  I was going to put a link to one here in the post but I want people to finish reading.

The Gang of 3 headed down route 66, er I mean, Hopkins Road, bright and early and ready to take on the day.  Three vs. world, like Thelma and Louise, except there were only two of them and they were both women and they killed themselves, but besides that, we were just like them, we were in a car.

The word “car, car” was repeated often as we drove towards our first destination, then the kids asked me to be quiet, because they saw the cars, too.  We passed a swamp that we go by quite often and as usual my daughter fondly reminisced about our picnic there last year (see Do Fish Eat Sticks on a Picnic?).

The leader of our gang, my daughter, asked if we were going to Mickey D’s or BK.  When she was an infant I got on my high horse and told myself that my kids would never go to those places and now she knows them by name and logo.  To our credit, though, they don’t eat at them more than once a day… usually.

The actual destination was kept secret until we pulled into the parking lot and my little girl yelled, “The Original Pancake House” and her brother said, “Car.”

I slipped my backpack/diaper bag over my shoulders, scooped the boy up and attempted to shut the van door while my daughter caught rain drops on her tongue at my side not looking too concerned with my predicament.  On the third try the door slid shut and we navigated our way through the puddle-filled parking lot.  I unsuccessfully tried to avoid them and my daughter successfully stepped in every one of them.

We rung ourselves out in the foyer and waited to be seated.  After standing there for about an hour I noticed that the sign said please seat yourself.  The restaurant was lucky I saw it because I was just about to leave because of their bad service.  In all actuality it was less than five minutes, but seemed like an hour to me, because I get grumpy when I’m hungry, just ask my wife.

After the waitress brought us three coffees, er three juices, my little girl ordered strawberry pancakes for her and her brother to share and I decided to eat light, you know, eggs, toast, sausage, home fries and pancakes with a side order of bacon.

Amazingly, the kids behaved very well the whole time.  The boy stared at an elderly gentleman well past politeness, but I didn’t mind because it kept him quiet… you know how loud those old guys can get.

The waitress disappointed me by not complimenting on how well behaved we were and what a great dad I must be.  It’s not that I’m in need of praise, but I do deserve it.  Right?  Right?

We packed up everything that would fit in the bag and headed back out into the rain.  Neither kid minds getting rained on, but it does nothing for my hair so I tried to hurry the loading up process.  The only problem with that is that the car seat’s puzzle-like locking mechanism always gets tangled up when I hurry.

Finally, the soggy Gang of 3 cruised toward destination number two, Wegman’s.  The list was short, so I thought, until I noticed the multiple additions my lovely wife must’ve written on there that morning.  Oh well, we were all on a caffeine or sugar high so we could handle it.

The stop at the deli counter proved that breakfast was a success, because both of my offspring turned down the obligatory slice of white American cheese by shaking their heads and rubbing their bellies.  The first whine came when we noticed that the live lobster tank was empty, but I got over it quickly.  We made our way down almost every aisle except the one with the feminine products, because my wife’s a kind woman.  The checkout girl was friendly to the kiddies, but kept eyeballing the boy when he played with the bag holder.  Don’t get the wrong idea, it was an inaminate object, not a pimple-faced teen-ager. 

The rain had stopped by the time we rolled outside so the formerly soggy Gang of 3 took our time getting to the van to unload the numerous bags of groceries.  You’d think that the very children that were going to use most of the things purchased would offer to help put them in the van.  But no, they just went right in their seats without lifting a finger.  Ingrates!

I was shocked to see that it was 9:45 AM when I headed toward the bank because the guy that needed me to sign some paperwork was leaving at 10 AM, I thought.

I did my best Dale Earnhardt, Jr. impression and raced toward my destination.  I got there at 9:51 AM, just under the gun.  Unfortunately, when we went inside, one kid in my arms and one attached to my belt loop, they said the guy left at 9:30AM.  Bastard!

Oh well, it was no big deal, so we leisurely drove toward home.  The youngest member of our gang rubbed his eyes and yawned as we pulled into our driveway.

This type of experience foolishly boosts my confidence in my abilities as a father and makes me think that they’ll be good whenever and wherever we decide to go to next.  That’s actually a good thing because we need to get out of the house from time to time, or at the least, I do.     

April 23, 2007 Posted by | family, Humor, kids, life, parenthood, parenting | 3 Comments

A Whole Lot o’ Presents

Wow, it’s Thursday already and I’m still exhausted from partying like a two-year-old on Sunday.  Er, I mean, from throwing a two-year-old a party.  There were balloons, cake, pizza and wings, party hats, presents and beer, you know, all the stuff a toddler loves.  I’m kidding… the boy doesn’t like wings.

My wife and I decided to give the presents from our daughter, dog and us to the toddler of honor before the party started.  The boy shredded the first gift’s car-adorned wrapping paper faster than I could type this sentence, but the other forty-two took forever.  My little girl did her best Daddy impression by acting very impatient during this tedious task.  I frowned at her, but could feel her pain.

The first guests arrived early, you know, right at the time listed on the invitation, and the birthday boy was still napping.  I think they did it on purpose because we usually do the same thing if we actually get out of the house without someone having to go potty or one of the kids needing something.

The boy joined the party a few minutes later as more and more and more people walked through the door bearing gifts.  At this point I wore a few hats: drink server; coat check girl boy; and pizza delivery guy.  The latter I reluctantly, yeah right, agreed to do because it would take me away from the party for about ten minutes.  My F.I.L. joined me on the ride and did all the heavy lifting while I opened the doors and my wallet when necessary.

The delicious greasy food went over big because pizza and wings is just another food group in Western New York.  We also had a garden salad for those guests who actually like to eat healthy and it surprisingly was devoured, also.

The gift opening ceremony was next because we wanted the TUMS® to have time to work before we had cake and ice cream.  I mentioned in a previous post how I abhor children’s gift openings (see Camping: Two kids, a wife and a whole lot of bullfrogs) unless they’re my own kids, so I rudely took it upon myself to buzz through this ritual without reading cards or displaying clothes to the masses who were kind enough to purchase said cards and clothes.  I ridiculously thought that I was doing everyone a favor by sparing them from what I perceived to be a boring waste of time.  The unwrapping flew by faster than the stenographer could record who bought what.  Luckily my M.I.L. decided to show off all the clothes to the feminine persuasions in the crowd, because they enjoyed it, believe it or not.  As for the birthday boy, he was happy playing with whatever new toy we put in front of him whether it was one of the many car related items, his hungry lawnmower or his Bob the Builder tool set.  Surprisingly, no one directed any negative comments toward me that I know of about my callous act of ignorance.  Maybe they kept their distance because the party began to get to me a little and I started to resemble Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

The cake and ice cream went over very well except that our two-year-old refused to blow out the candle and I couldn’t muster enough wind to do the job which is out of character for me I think because I’m frequently told that I’m full of hot air.  My wife eventually extinguished the big two and the servings began.

The guests eventually left and we surveyed the damage.  The house actually didn’t look too bad, especially because my mother and M.I.L. cleaned up pretty good.  I knew they were invited for a reason.

There were new toys everywhere and the exhausted kids were ecstatic.  I was elated, too, because you can’t beat having a bunch of people at your house happily spoiling your child with gifts and good wishes all the while putting up with me.

April 19, 2007 Posted by | family, Humor, kids, life, parenthood, parenting | 8 Comments

Jumping for Joy

Today’s the boy’s birthday and he loves it… I think.  He doesn’t exactly verbalize everything clearly, yet, but he’s jumped for joy a few times already and we’re still in the AM and haven’t even given him his multitude of gifts.  As for the jumping for joy, I wish that I still did that, but at my age I’d probably break my hip or at the least, twist my ankle.

Shouts of “happy birthday” greeted the little guy as my wife ceremoniously paraded him into the kitchen right after he woke up.  My daughter’s over-exuberant chant excited the birthday boy so much that the second his toes touched linoleum he leapt toward the ceiling and cackled.  Then he noticed the toy cars assembled around a Little People birthday cake and got air, again, and immediately joined in on the celebration with his little wheeled friends.

There are probably at least one hundred toy cars in our house at the moment and I have the feeling there will be many more by the end of the day.  It’s not that I think the boy cars and girl cars are up to something, even though that would be worth watching or videoing, I just know that the pool of gift-givers coming to the party knows that he loves cars and will shower him with them.

I’m guessing that the boy’s jumps for joy will multiply exponentially as the day goes on and it will be a birthday to remember.  For us that is, because at two his memories will most likely just grow out of the plethora of pictures that will be taken today so I better smile whether I’m happy, frazzled or delirious.  My guess is I’ll be the former most of the day unless, of course, the kids don’t do exactly what I want them to do… quietly.

April 15, 2007 Posted by | Buffalo, Donuts, family, Humor, kids, life, parenthood, parenting | 4 Comments

Easter Eggs and Bug Catchers

Over-indulgence seems to be a recurring theme in my holiday scripts.  It’s Wednesday already and I still feel like I’m going to explode.  The feast on Easter Sunday was a brunch at my parents’ house that could’ve fed a thousand, luckily only nine hundred of us showed up; well maybe the count was more like eleven.  There were different choices of egg dishes and different choices of potato dishes and different choices of cookies and cakes and different choices of bugs.  I actually didn’t see any bugs, but I saw a bug catcher, so I just made an assumption based on circumstantial evidence.

Contrary to popular belief, a bug catcher is not like a dogcatcher.  It’s not a profession at all; it’s a little plastic container that came with a tiny net and a pair of plastic tweezers.  It was there because my sister, Aunt HockeyMom, gave it to my daughter because she loves bugs… my daughter that is.  My sister’s actually terrified of many of the little creatures that she wants my little explorer to hunt down.  Maybe the bug catcher can be “accidentally” opened at Aunt HockeyMom’s house some time in the summer just for laughs.

My daughter stopped eating chocolate for a minute because she was thrilled with the unusual, but appreciated, Easter gift and so was I for different reasons; the children didn’t need any more candy for me them to eat over the next few days.  She wanted to use it immediately, but we hadn’t brought her snowsuit and winter boots with us so she’d have to wait until it warms up… in June.  My little angel examined every part of the contraption and its accessories with delight while I ate a sixteenth breakfast sausage.  She shook the empty container, she pulled on the little net and she pinched the tweezers together numerous times.  That’s when she looked at my wife and me and asked, “Is this for hurting bugs?”

After answering her with a straight face I waddled backwards out of the room and my bulging stomach soon followed.  Fortunately none of our relatives who would have encouraged her negatively were there because it was just a legitimate question from an inquisitive child and not a sign of any kind that she wants to maim or torture living creatures.  That’s what I keep telling myself and pretty soon I’ll believe it… I hope.

April 11, 2007 Posted by | Bugs, family, Humor, kids, life, parenthood, parenting | 3 Comments

Black and Blue

My boy fell the other night.  He fell hard, really hard.  

The garlic bread had about two minutes to go in the oven when I heard a thud followed by the familiar scream.  I took off like Jesse Owens, if he was fat and slow, into the playroom approximately ten feet away and noticed the deep, deep, deep bruise on the little guy’s cheek.  Regrettably, I interrogated my daughter immediately while scooping up the wounded tot.

“He fell, Daddy, and hit the toy-box.”

Her tone of voice revealed that she hadn’t caused the situation at hand so I gave her a somewhat reassuring look before I pried the clinging boy far enough away from me to get a good look at the damage and to check for bleeding or swelling.  His eyes pleaded for me to help him  as I surveyed the damage which appeared to be only the very dark purple mark on his face.

This is when all the parenting questions raced through my mind: does he need to go to the hospitalis there something wrong inside his mouth; is the garlic bread burning?  You know, the usual.

As for the garlic bread, it was actually Texas Toast, which is truly delicious and easy to make… when you don’t have a screaming bruised-face toddler in your arms.  The timer buzzed to tell me that it was done, but I couldn’t exactly lean into the hot oven with said boy in my arms without risking further harm to him or me.  I thought about setting him down for a second because I really like my garlic bread crispy, not blackened, but that was out of the question because his claws were dug into me so deep that I felt like I would lose a lot of skin in the attempt.

A child screaming can break my heart or annoy me; this one did the former so I just hugged the little guy a little tighter when an angel from above saved the garlic bread.  It was actually my wife, who happened to be upstairs while this dramatic episode unfolded.  She had heard the thud, too and came down as quickly as possible. 

Being a parent that actually knows what to do, she immediately got an icepack out of the freezer and took him out of my arms.  The sight of his mother was the necessary remedy to detach him from me without leaving a mark.  This gave me the much needed moment to unload the not burning yet garlic bread out of the oven.

My wife and I worked as a team applying the ice whether the boy wanted it or not.  That’s teamwork according to my daughter (see Is That Teamwork? for more on that).  Like good parents we discussed what we needed to do.  The hospital wouldn’t be necessary, but could he eat the delicious meal I had just prepared?  The second part was my concern because I was really hungry.

He must have inherited my toughness, because the boy had stopped crying in less than five minutes.  If he could speak full sentences we’d know if he was even more like me if he complained over and over that his face hurt, but luckily he isn’t there vocally, yet.

Amazingly, the kids and I sat down at the dinner table sans my wife while the food was still hot.  The lady of the house had a date with a few of her XX chromosome buddies that night so she reluctantly left when she felt that our youngest was okay.

It’s been a few days since the incident, so now the bruise is that nasty yellowish with black around the edges.  It looks like there’s something smudged on his face, like marker or a bumblebee.

A few things came about from this almost catastrophic event.  Hopefully, I’ve learned not to jump to conclusions that the other child is responsible for his or her sibling’s tears… every time.  I also relearned that kids are resilient little creatures that can take a beating (figuratively) and keep on ticking.  Most importantly, I’ve learned that the children must remain in a stationary position while I cook garlic bread. 


April 8, 2007 Posted by | family, Humor, kids, life, parenthood, parenting, Ranting | 2 Comments

Building Blocks… Come Tumbling Down

While playing with wooden blocks the girl, AKA my daughter, decided to build a family… of houses.  Maybe this means she’ll be an architect or a therapist or an architectural therapist or a therapeutic architect or a flight attendant.

She started with a Mommy.  This one was strong and not too tall, just like her mother.  Then she had me build the Daddy house.  I built it strong and tall, but she made me change it to weak and tall for reasons unbeknown to me, especially because I’m not tall, I’m more of an averageish.  The baby house was next, which she referred to as a “he” so I knew it was supposed to be her brother even though he’s almost two.  If he’s lucky, he’ll be called the baby for the rest of his life because he’s the youngest, just like his daddy who’s still the “baby” with gray hair.

Last was the big sister house, which was a few blocks taller than the baby, but still shorter than the mommy and the daddy.  The girl’s scale was right on, except for the daddy house, of course.

When she finished with her city block she stood all the remaining blocks on end because she could.  I was afraid that she was going to hang Barbie heads from them to keep the rest of the toys away, but she had a better plan.  She had heard her brother, the “baby’, stirring on his monitor and decided he would enjoy knocking all the blocks down including the house family.  I was proud of her because she usually gets upset when he knocks her structures down.

We fetched the boy a minute later and brought him downstairs to do his best Godzilla impersonation.  I wanted my daughter to say “unleash Hell” on the video of this attack on all things civilized but my uncharacteristically better judgment won out and I just asked her to send him into the playroom.  My directing skills suck.

The blocks sent the boy into a frenzy.  He jumped up and down yelling, “Ooh, ooh!” and then proceeded to carefully walk around the plethora of blocks standing on their ends.  Not one fell.  Needless to say it didn’t make great video, especially with the build-up and the ooh, oohs.

When the boy did decide to interact with the tempting display before him, he just picked up the car shaped block, said, “car” and laughed.

Eventually the houses came down, but the homebuilder did all the demolishing.  The boy eventually did partake in the action when almost everything was already spread all over the family room.

It seemed like a letdown at first, but kids will do what kid’s want to do, especially if I tell them to do something else.

April 4, 2007 Posted by | family, Humor, kids, life, parenthood, parenting | 3 Comments

She Doesn’t Mince Her Words

What comes out of my little girl’s mouth has astounded me many times because she uses polysyllabic words quite often, but her new trend’s completely different.  To put it bluntly, she’s blunt.

Her sippy cup was giving her trouble so she handed it to me and said, “it’s stuck”. 

The fact that someone in this world looks to me when they need a problem fixed equally thrills and scares me, so I pushed the existing lid back in place and gave it back to her.  I guess that would be the equivalent of smacking the side of the TV when the picture flips.  My daughter gave a suck on the lid and without skipping a beat slid the cup towards me.

“Still stuck.”

Enough said.  It’s great to see that this young lady of three is learning early in life to just say what she needs in a direct way.

I think that the next time a solicitor calls I’ll just put her on the phone and she’ll give him or her a quick not necessary or don’t need it and we can move on with our day without me buying aluminum siding or a new vacuum cleaner.

April 1, 2007 Posted by | family, Humor, kids, life, parenthood, parenting | 5 Comments