Phamily Foto Phriday 1-20-17

Yes, this is Monday. I know this is late. This post was actually ready to go up on Friday, but I was busy getting ready to go to Cub Scout Winter Camp. And that will be a separate post.

Here are a few pictures of the kids and what they have been up to recently.

Tevye brought his toast into the front room one day. He looks so much like Xavier did at this age.

Over Christmas break we started putting a bunch of puzzles together to pass the time. It was very fun and Dela helped with all  of them, with Ciaran and Xavier helping occasionally. I think since Christmas Break started we have completed about 7 or so.

When you gotta put out the fires but first a painting needs to be done.

Ciaran started Karate in November and has progressed enough to take his first belt test.

He really likes this activity and has now advanced to a white belt with black stripe.

This was the best picture I could get of him working with a partner for a takedown.

Xavier came VERY close to beating me in Strageto. Notice the placement of my flag.


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Parental Blockage

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, and chances are you haven’t, you will have noticed a drop in the frequency of direct parenting related posts. It isn’t for a lack of content. Just this morning Tevye took off his pajamas and underwear to dance – because last summer watching the gymnastics he thought the leotards the gymnasts wore during the floor routine were their skin. Now, he routinely undresses to dance.

No, it is that most of what I have to say can be summed up in a paragraph or less. That does not make for good blogging. And if I gather up a few of these anecdotes or whatever, by the time I have enough to make a full blog post, they feel irrelevant.

Maybe I could write a blog post about Grace, now five months old today, had her four month well-baby visit and weighed in at 16 pounds 13 ounces, significantly larger than any of the other children. I could then make a joke about how she is the only one who was born before her due date as well.

But is that really a unique story?

What about the struggle my daughter is going through right now in 6th grade trying to balance participating in the school musical and keeping her grades up and homework completed? I don’t have any answers, there is no resolution to this and so all I could do is simply bring the topic up and have it be incomplete.

Xavier is doing great in Kindergarten, learning to read and whatnot. Simply chugging along, doing what he is supposed to.

I can not find drama and conflict to write about – at least conflict that would be appropriate to share. Yes, there is conflict, such as this morning when Dela, Xavier, Ciaran and Tevye were at the breakfast table and a couple of them were arguing. I don’t know what they were arguing about and when they get home from school today I am sure they won’t be able to remember what it was they were arguing about either.

So here I sit, wondering what to write.

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Music Monday: 10 Teenage Albums

This week’s entry comes courtesy of a Facebook trend I thought was a good idea to turn into a post. Rather than simply have a status update with a list I would flesh it out a little with a sentence or two about each album and why it is included.

Here are the directions as initially posted: List 10 albums that made a lasting impression on you as a TEENAGER, but only one per band/artist. Don’t take too long and don’t think too long.

I sat down and quickly made my list, then I had to go back and cut it down to 15. Then cut it again. After this was done I arranged my list and wrote in my personal bits. And so, I present to you, my list of top 10 albums that have left a lasting impression on me as a teenager – IN ORDER OF EXPOSURE OR WHEN I CAME ACROSS THEM.

The Beatles
Meet The Beatles

Alright, so I’m immediately breaking the rules of this exercise. Isn’t that what Rock & Roll is about? I grew up listening to this album and it remains the standard by which all others are measured. To me this is the gold standard of rock and roll. (And yes, I know canon is now With The Beatles.)

Bill Withers
Just As I Am

Another one from my childhood that still affects me. This man can write a song like nobody else. This album, along with What’s Goin’ On by Marvin Gaye and a few others would form my ongoing love for soul music. This is simply great songwriting and emotional delivery done right.

Neil Diamond
Jonathan Livingston Seagull

I know, right? What an odd choice. But this book, movie and soundtrack still strikes a chord with me. I mean I always kind of liked the guy, and this is not his best album by any stretch of the imagination, but this album calls to mind the open spaces that are central to the story of the book and movie. A book I read every couple of years.

Def Leppard
On Through The Night

In middle school my best friend was from England. He had this album and it would be my introduction to the whole British new wave of metal that was coming. I still have not seen them live, nor do I have many of their albums, but Def Leppard remains one of my favorite “hard rock” bands.

J. Geils Band
Freeze Frame

This album was given to me for my birthday and was the first new “pop” album that I owned myself. It might have made a lasting impression on me in a bad way, but it still makes the list. I started listening to radio about this time and getting into “new” music.

Blue Oyster Cult
Extra Terrestrial Live

My best friend from high school had this. I can directly trace my interest in other bands such as Yes, Pink Floyd, Rush and the like to this band, and specifically this album because it was the first one I heard by them.

The Police
Ghost In The Machine

My best friend in high school played this over and over and over. I became a Police fan, a position that was solidified when their next album came out, but it was this one which really got me into them.

New Traditionalists

I have written about this album and band before. It serves as my gateway to DEVO and many other “new wave” artists, and probably all of alternative rock in general. It still stands the test of time and sounds fresh.

The Clash
Combat Rock

This was so different from everything else I was listening to at the time. Sure there are the singles that people have heard, but it was the rest of the songs on the album that have stuck with me as that album was so far reaching and wide ranging in its scope.

The Dead Milkmen
Big Lizard In My Backyard
I remember picking this album up in the record store, looking at the cover and thinking this album would be fun. I had heard “Bitchin’ Camero” on the radio (I was listening to alt-rock college radio type stuff almost exclusively by this point in time) and wondered if the band could sustain that level of sardonic wit for a whole album. Turns out they have made a whole career out of it.

Sign O the Times
This album came out just months before I turned 20, so this counts. We listened to this endlessly and while I was somewhat familiar with Prince, this was the album that made me a fan. “Housequake” remains one of my favorites to this day.

Shut up already.

this one goes to 11
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Nibble Nibble

So we find Tevye’s container of snack, some yogurt covered pretzels, and they are partially eaten. Not even half-eaten, but instead much of the yogurt covering has been nibbled off. These were not the only ones. A few others were to be found the next morning. Seriously. He nibbled the yogurt covering off of the pretzel and discarded the remainder in what I assume was an off-hand fashion.

This is not the first time we have seen this sort of behavior.

Déla used to do this sort of thing all the time.

I am reminded of one instance in particular when she was about 3 or 4. We were having donuts and sharing them. Taking half of our donut, offering the other half to another, you know, sharing. So Déla offers to share her donut with Kyle, about the age of 15 or so. He eagerly accepts, and she hands him her completely still-round donut. Only the top has been eaten away as she ate the icing off and not much of the donut itself.

Nobody finished that donut.

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Music Monday: Hometown Throwdown 19

“Hey, how was your trip to Boston?”

I’m glad you asked.

While I have traveled to Boston several times, this is my third time going specifically to see the Mighty Mighty Bosstones during their Hometown Throwdown. I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to go, and by myself, which leaves Laura home with the kids. I am very fortunate.

Leaving on Tuesday night I flew overnight and landed in Boston ridiculously early Wednesday morning. Getting to my friend’s apartment I settled in and lay down for a little while. My friend who lives in Boston, Marianne (I have mentioned her before on the blog), was out of town for the duration of my stay, leaving me and another friend, Stephen, who used to live in Boston but now lives a few blocks from me here in Seattle, to have the place to ourselves.

Stephen had gone off to visit family, and after getting a couple hours of rest I headed out to do one of the things I planned on for this trip.

One of the things I like about Boston (and by Boston I mean the city of Boston itself as well as the immediate surrounding touwnships) that there is actual public transportation that can be used to get around effectively. It only took one bus ride and a bit of walking but I reached Bunker Hill just after lunchtime.

It had been well over a decade since I have been to Bunker Hill, despite travelling to Boston several times over the last few years. Every time I walked the Freedom Trail I wound up visiting the U.S.S. Constitution. Sure, the two are pretty close, but the timing on previous visits did not allow for me to spend any significant amount of time with both, so I made a choice.

I don’t remember going to the Bunker Hill Museum last time I was there, but admittedly, it has been well over a decade since. I wanted to make sure I visited the museum, but I wanted to first go up the Bunker Hill Monument first. It was tougher than I remember, but that was any number of years ago (and quite a few added pounds since) but I made it to the top without stopping and not too winded. I enjoyed the view for a little bit then headed down.

The Bunker Hill Museum is free as part of the National Park Service, but donations are accepted. It’s not a big place but does have some very interesting displays and information. While I knew the general storyline of what happened (the revolutionaries lost the battle but the British lost nearly half their troops in the taking of the hill) I did learn a bit with my trip this time.

After heading back to the apartment to feed the cats I then made my way down to the location of my purpose for visiting Boston in the first place. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones Hometown Throwdown. After dinner at Boston Beer Works, which I recommend, mostly for the beer, I headed over to the venue and met up with Stephen.

The first opening band was Canada’s Planet Crashers, and I had never heard of them so was looking forward to checking them out. I was not disappointed. A more “traditional” ska band of the second wave variety their set was high energy and they won me over as a fan. I wish I had been able to get a better picture. Hopefully they will be able to make it down from Canada to tour.

For the second opening band it was the only one on the three night bill I was not only familiar with but had seen before – The Skatelites from Jamaica. It has been nearly 20 years since I saw Skatelites live, and I am pretty sure a number of members of the group have changed since the last time, but original singer Doreen Shaffer did come out for a few songs. Quality stuff by a band that has outlived its members.

It was then time for the main act. Only there was a guest performer.

Wreckless Eric, who you probably don’t remember but had a minor hit back in 1978 (I think) “Whole Wide World” about finding the girl that was meant for him. The theme of this year’s Hometown Throwdown was Whole Wide World – each of the opening acts were from a different country. Wreckless Eric came out moments before the Bosstones did and performed this song, just him and his guitar, each night, and it wasn’t until the third night that I made the connection between the song and the Hometown Throwdown theme. I am a little ashamed of myself.

And The Mighty Mighty Bosstones came out and rocked the joint into submission.

And it was only the first night.

While enjoyable, the night was not trouble-free. I had my small backpack with me and had planned on using the coat check to have it safely tucked away, along with my coat during the concert. After standing in line to get in and after the tickets were scanned I was told I would not be able to bring the backpack inside. I understand the reasoning for this, but it would have been nice to have a bit of warning. Also, this was going to be part of our plan for the third night as we would be leaving directly from the concert to the airport and had hoped to be able to place our bags in the coat check. Better find out that we would not be able to do this on the first night. We took my backpack to Stephen’s rental car and stood in line again. By the time we got in we had missed a few songs of The Planet Smashers, which is unfortunate but did catch the majority of their set.

Sleeping in for day two I didn’t get out until what would be considered lunch time. A bus ride, a subway ride and a short walk later I found myself at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Interestingly, or perhaps not, I had visited this museum once before, on the same trip over a decade previous when I went to Bunker Hill. I remember Bunker Hill more than the Gardner Museum, so I was really glad to have the opportunity to go and spend several hours there by myself so I could take in the art at my own pace (which was kind of slow). If you have not been it is not arranged like a typical museum, it is its own special singular creation and well worth the visit and $4 for the audio guide.

On to dinner then the show where the first opening band was Peelander-Z, from Japan, and it is difficult to describe their music as they are more of a theater piece than they are a band. Oh, sure, they have songs, as well as several albums released, but the band’s live show includes human bowling, audience limbo, and it is sort of difficult to describe succinctly when they aren’t the focus of what I want to talk about.

Australia’s The Porkers were next, and the sure put on a heck of a set. This is a band that apparently has been around for 20 years and I have never heard of them. Then again, they haven’t toured the United States for a while. This is a ska band that is a bit more, I  don’t know, but if you like the ska music you should check them out. A high energy set that pleased the crowd – they wound up being Stephen’s favorite of the opening bands.

After Wreckless Eric, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones came out for the second night and this was perhaps the best of the three nights. Dicky’s voice had warmed up, the set list was stronger and the crowd was more energized.

And I was fortunate to get up close to the stage each night. How close?

Pretty darn close.

Day three opened up late again as I was able to sleep in. I should mention the note I found in my bag – I put in on the night stand and it was the first thing I saw when I awoke each time while on my trip.

After packing up Stephen and I headed out, got some breakfast (though it was already lunchtime) and then headed to the Harvard Art Museums.

Essentially the Harvard Art Museums is actually multiple museums housed in one building with private and Harvard owned collections housed in one newly renovated building. It is a fantastic place to visit with a wide variety of art and artifacts through the ages.

After dinner we checked our bags (for a fee) at a hotel near the venue then headed in for the third and final night.

Opening this night was Mexico’s Los Kung-Fu Monkeys, a high energy act where the frontman never stopped moving. A bit more rock with horns than ska, there were some definite influences of the second wave in their set. Not a bad band at all, but perhaps my least favorite of the opening acts (and I liked all of the opening acts).

The Skints from England were next, and I realized  that I had indeed heard of them, and probably heard a song or two over the years. This band is more reggae for the new millennium than anything else. A young band that may not have a lot of mainstream radio appeal but there certainly is a fanbase there for a long career and I look forward to seeing where they go.

After Wreckless Eric came out for the third night the Mighty Mighty Bosstones came out to close the Hometown Throwdown 19.

To say it was an event would be an understatement. There were guests trotted  out, a longer set list and the band seemed to be truly enjoying themselves.

This is one of my favorite pictures from the three nights.

After the show we picked up our bags, headed to the airport and waited to check in and board the plane. It was a longer wait than anticipated, but we made it home safely. Flight out Tuesday night, three nights of rocking and back home Saturday morning. A successful trip. Thank you to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the opening bands, and most of all to Laura who let me go.

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Ranking The Beatles: Please Please Me (Beatles Week 2016 Day 14)

Please see my introduction and explanation about this project here.

This album, their first, represents pretty much the band’s live set at the time. I have the Vee-Jay album Introducing The Beatles which has many of these songs as well and was an interesting artifact of the time. I do prefer this version, this album, as released and standardized with the 2009 box set release. Mostly recorded in one day there is an immediacy to this album (much like The Ramones debut) I really like. I almost wish some of their other albums were recorded with the same sense of urgency and immediacy.

Presented in order from least to most favorite, in a highly subjective (and subject to change) manner:

“A Taste of Honey”
A decent enough cover, but not the best
A fun little number for Ringo to sing
“There’s a Place”
Their first attempt at a more cereberal theme
“Anna (Go to Him)”
Parts of this song I really like, other parts are just… normal
“Baby It’s You”
I always find it interesting when they cover female vocal groups
Lamentation and regret
Another cover of a female vocal group
“Ask Me Why”
Much more musically interesting than you might realize
“Do You Want to Know a Secret?”
Kind of coy and playful
“Please Please Me”
Starting off with the pleading theme the band would use in many other songs
“P.S. I Love You”
Almost sounds like a Buddy Holly tune
“Love Me Do”
One of their best early songs
“Twist and Shout”
One of the greatest rock and roll songs ever
“I Saw Her Standing There”
I still sing this as a lullaby

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Phamily Foto Phriday – 2016 Catch-Up Part 3

Here is the last of my catch-up series for pictures. Hopefully I’ll be back to the normal (mostly) weekly posting schedule for these.

So I turned around and these two clowns were like this.

Tevye just thought it was the funniest thing ever.

Ciaran made himself a triple-decker peanut butter sandwich. That’s three layers of peanut butter in between four slices of bread.

Of course we made Christmas cookies at some point or another.

Christmas morning was a hit.


Tevye kept sneaking everybody’s chocolate from their stocking.

And here is Grace, at 4 months old. Happy as can be.

That’s it. We’re caught up.

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Mister Rogers’ Sweater Drive

One of the iconic images of Mister Rogers was his cardigan sweaters. That has carried over into the television show “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” where the title character wears a red sweater. New and gently used sweaters and coats for both adults and kids are being gathered in the name and in honor of Fred Rogers for a good cause.

Seattle’s KCTS 9 (and probably your local PBS station) is getting ready to participate in the 20th annual Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive. It is set to run (locally, at least) from Friday January 13 to Sunday February 12, where (again locally) donated items will go to benefit Wellspring Family Services, Queen Anne Helpline and Northwest Center.

Collection bins will not only be at KCTS studio at the Seattle Center, but at PCC Natural Markets and Sound Credit Union throughout western Washington.

Kicking off the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive on Friday the 13th from 10am to 4pm KCTS 9 is hosting a Be My Neighbor Day at their Seattle Center studio (401 Mercer Street, Seattle). There will be crafts and activities and the character of Daniel Tiger will be there. Kids can meet Daniel and get a picture.

Guests will need to register on the Eventbrite page, which opens up on Saturday, January 7 at 10 – and of course bring a new or lightly used sweater/coat to donate.

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Ranking The Beatles: With The Beatles (Beatles Week 2016 Day 13)

Please see my introduction and explanation about this project here.

Having grown up with the Capitol Records version of this album, Meet The Beatles, which I listened to endlessly growing up (and is the first album I remember listening to) I have a lot of affection for this even though the track listing is different. This is an album I can listen to at any time, and is probably one of my all-time favorite albums. On road trips this one always makes it into the car (though I may not play it). Every one of the songs here is a solid performer.

Presented in order from least to most favorite, in a highly subjective (and subject to change) manner:

“Not a Second Time”
Pretty standard filler track
“Little Child”
A little weird, lyrically, but still solid
“It Won’t Be Long”
Still a solid song despite being filler
“Devil in Her Heart”
I thought this was an original song for the longest time
“Money (That’s What I Want)”
Improved upon the original
“Hold Me Tight”
I bet this was fun to play live
“Don’t Bother Me”
A bit grumpy but a cool tune
“You Really Got a Hold on Me”
Certainly equal to the original
“All I’ve Got to Do”
I think I like this one more than most people
“Till There Was You”
The only show tune the band covered – from The Music Man
“Roll Over Beethoven”
As good as the original (in my opinion)
“I Wanna Be Your Man”
Please baby, please, I just wanna!
“Please Mister Postman”
I think I like this version better than the original
“All My Loving”
One of my favorite Beatles songs, especially the jangly guitar


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Phamily Foto Phriday – 2016 Catch-Up Part 2 (Scouting)

Pack meetings have changed format a bit. They start out with a calmer activity to keep the kids from running around making it easier to start the meetings. I like it.

One of the pack outings was to the Museum of History and Industry, which we went to last year, but this was Xavier’s first time going.

As last year, it was a fantastic place to visit and I highly recommend it.

Plenty of artifacts from Seattle’s history, appropriate for all ages, kids will find it interesting and the adults will be engaged as well.

Make sure to go to the top.

There is a periscope with a 360 degree view.

August earned his First Class rank in Boy Scouts as well. Plenty of hard work on his part.



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