Phamily Foto Phriday 6-24-16

No “last day of school” pictures from me. I do pictures on the first day and I figure that’s good enough. Besides, I’m snapping pictures of the kids all the time. At least, I’m trying to.

A couple of weeks ago one of the boys in August’s Boy Scout troop was working on his Eagle Scout project. It required quite a bit of help, so much so even Ciárán who isn’t a Boy Scout was allowed in on the project. Here is August and Ciárán (and a different Boy Scout) during the lunch break.

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We made it to another Mariners game. Well, some of us did. By the way, that’s an Aquasox hat on Ciárán, his favorite. They are the single-A minor league team for the Mariners.

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And yes, that slice of pizza is about as big as her head.

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Ciárán kept asking if the cotton candy was edible. Weird kid.

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During the 9th inning we moved down from our seats to hopefully catch a foul ball. No such luck. Ciárán just relaxed, so he wouldn’t have been able to catch one anyway.

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Lots of various appointments this week, including orthodontist and dentist appointments. Things are looking good for everybody.

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I caught my cousin’s husband Clint McCune (hey, family is family) at a place not too far from where I live. It was just me, but I probably should have taken a couple of the kids. That guitar is the one he took when he played a concert on Mount Everest.

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And just in case you didn’t think Tevye was acting cute this whole time.

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Xavier lost his first tooth.

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In addition to appointments for people’s teeth we had some “well-child” doctor’s appointments. Everything looks good on this front as well. Tevye was so ridiculously compliant and cooperative during the appointment.

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And that’s it.

 

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Summer Vacation, Kicking Ass, And Corralling Children (or not)

We are a week into summer vacation and I feel as if I have already lost the battle.

Maybe those are not the correct words to use, but that is how I feel.

Battle-weary.

Last Tuesday was the last day, a short day, and it went well enough. The following morning I had to get everybody up early to get to Ciaran’s orthodontist appointment. If I remember correctly I left August at home since he is 13.

Thursday was a blur as was Friday. Saturday was hectic since August was going to an overnight camping trip with the Boy Scouts. We spent some time on Friday getting him ready and we were up early to get him to the drop off point to carpool up to the hike. Only for reasons I won’t go into, we wound up just missing the troop. Thankfully they were taking a ferry and we managed to rush over and meet them at the ferry and August was able to go.

Sunday, Father’s Day, was… things started picking up then. At least I got to sleep in until 6:30 in the morning. We picked up another crib from Craigslist, and while I was out picking that up August returned from his camping trip. We went out to dinner – and throughout the weekend we started planning for our upcoming vacation.

Monday was the beginning of the end – of my wits, as in “at wit’s end.

Yeah, I know, it doesn’t even measure up to be a bad joke.

Since Laura is still not out of school yet (Seattle’s public schools will end this week) I have the kids. This meant I had to get everybody up, especially Ciárán who had Math Camp starting at 9. Then I had to pick him up at 11. While this logistical maneuvering wasn’t difficult, it is the dynamics of the interpersonal relationship with all the siblings under the roof. With only one child attending any sort of camp this week, everybody else is just… here. And that’s the problem.

Sunday Dela and August were to get some “training” to look after a dog for a couple of days (essentially just meeting the dog, learning where the food is kept, etc.). Tuesday was the first day August and Dela were to look after the dog. August missed the training because the return from camping took longer than expected. Since the dog did not need to come to our house to stay the two of them simply walked the couple of blocks to  the house to make sure there is enough food and water and to walk the dog. Of course the two of them fought.

August had a teeth cleaning on Tuesday as well. That meant getting Ciárán to his math camp, getting August to the dentist, wrangling everybody while at the dentist, picking up Ciárán then doing lunch and putting Tevye down for nap.

It’s not that bad, but when any one of a variety of children are fighting among themselves it makes even the smallest chore that much more difficult.

Today August had a doctor’s appointment. Nothing major, just a check-up and a form to be filled out for camp. Again, this was while Ciárán was at math camp. Wrangling everybody together and managing the arguments was just… the appointment went fine, the form is signed and we made it back in time to pick up Ciárán, but by the end of it I was exhausted. August and Dela simply would not stop fighting. I could not turn my back on them without an argument breaking out.

It’s going to be a long summer.

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Music Monday: Eurythmics (Part 2)

I have always liked The Eurythmics. I was introduced to them, as most people were, through the single “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of These)” and its corresponding music video. It may have been a bit unusual to see a woman appearing like that int he music video in 1983, but when the band appeared on television in February or March of 1984 the visual image people had of the band was turned on its head. I was hooked.

I was amazed at how Annie Lennox transformed all the time, yet still so recognizable. She never fully inhabited any of these alter egos, they were just costumes she would don for a small time, usually just long enough to have a music video done.

eurythmics would I lie“Would I Lie To You” was the next song that really struck me. Sure there were previous songs that were not only good but major hits for the band, but that song has an underlying ferocity making the message more urgent. One of the things I like about Eurythmics is how each song has its own style. While the genre of music the band participated in is rather broad in the “rock” or possibly even “alternative” there is enough difference on each album to give the listener something to pay attention to.

“Would I Lie To You”

1987’s Savage is, in my opinion, the band’s best album. I could probably write a small book analyzing this release which loosely tells a sort of parallel story about the band. While not a “rock opera” with a specific narrative and plot it is difficult to not see similarities between the character portrayed in the songs and corresponding music videos. The album was also accompanied by a video album which rearranged the song order. The video album makes more of a case for this being a concept album. Sadly it was only ever released on VHS (which of course I still have).

After Savage the band switched record labels and I don’t know if this affected the band or not but their subsequent album We Too Are One did not fare well, at least here. Back “home” in the United Kingdom the album went to number 1 and was more successful than Savage. Unfortunately the duo of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart succumbed to the stress and pressures of the industry and split up.

eurythmics peaceEurythmics as a band would return a decade later with Peace, a fantastic album that recaptured the “magic” sound of their earlier albums featuring some brilliant songs. It was on this tour I finally got to see Eurythmics perform. Their set was cut short because it was in a festival setting and the outdoor venue was interrupted by helicopter noise. Still, I am very glad I was finally able to see them live.

“Beautiful Child”

Sadly the duo never did anything more except a couple of new songs for a greatest hits compilation.

“Was It Just Another Love Affair?”

Even if they remained a studio band it would be nice to have more music from Eurythmics. They may not have changed the musical landscape, but the sure had a good ride turning it on its ear (figuratively speaking, of course). With the gender-bending imagery of Annie Lennox to the sonic landscape provided by Dave Stewart this was a band that perhaps burned too brightly too quickly.

 

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Phamily Foto Phriday 6-10-16

Not a lot today. Dela had a massive dance recital as well as a gymnastics meet but none of those pictures turned out. Ciaran and Xavier both ended their baseball and t-ball seasons and the pictures of those didn’t turn out usable as well.

Here are the pictures that did turn out.

August and I helped out at Special Olympics this year. It was our first time doing so and we had a blast. Here we are inn the awards tent for the track and field in an uncommon lull in the action.

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It was great fun and we plan on volunteering again next year.

This week I also wound up taking the Millennium Falcon in to have some brake work done. While waiting we decided to go get some snacks.

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And that’s it. Sorry this week turned out so lame.

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Pike Place Father’s Day Market

pike marketLooking for something different to give dad this Father’s Day? The Pike Place Market has a couple of offerings that might be of interest. For $199 and $229 there are two themed baskets on offer, both of which involve some tasty liquid, food, and a Market Charm.

More on the Market Charm in a moment.

The Beer & Bacon Basket will sell for $199 and come with a pound of thick cut bacon from Don & Joe’s Meats as well as  a large bottle of beer from Pike Brewing company. The Whiskey & Bacon Basket will feature whiskey from 3 Howls as well as a pound of thick cut bacon from Don & Joe’s Meats and will sell for $229.

Here is the word on those Market Charms (which cost $180 by itself).

The personalized Market Charm, made of 2″ diameter galvanized steel and suspended from the outer railing of the new MarketFront, are sure to honor dad not just this year, but for years to come.  The money raised from each Market Charm helps support completing and sustaining the new MarketFront, along with other Pike Place Market Foundation programs that provide a senior center, food bank, preschool and medical clinic to the people of Seattle.

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May 2016 Geek Fuel

This was the most disappointing box, but that’s not saying too much. August likes the Geek Fuel subscription boxes each month and there were still things in this box he liked but overall this one for the most part missed the mark.

Let’s start with the shirt. It’s a Game Of Thrones shirt, which doesn’t do anything for my 13 year old son who has not read the books nor watched the television series.

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The game looks interesting enough but it isn’t something he had heard about.

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Uncharted was featured with two generic postcards and a ring that would mean more if August had played through any of the games. It’s a good piece, especially how it is housed, but it seems awfully expensive for a limited appeal – unless I’m missing something and the Uncharted series has sold exponentially well when I wasn’t looking.

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Deadpool was featured again this month, and August rather liked these items.

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And finally there was the favorite item, a Geek Fuel pint glass.

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Thankfully August knows that not every month’s box is going to be filled with items he will love. he also understands that “geek culture” is wide and far-reaching with a lot of different facets. Geek Fuel attempts to appeal to as wide an audience as possible every month, and while there were things August liked, this just wasn’t the month for him. He is already looking forward to next month’s box.

 

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Phamily Foto Phriday 6-3-16

I know it’s been a couple of weeks but I don’t feel too bad about it because I  have posted a few pictures such as from Camporee and the Mariners game during the interval. To that end this is going to focus on the 2 year old for the most part.

But not all. Let’s start off with Dela in her period costume for Colonial Day at school.

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Ciaran has a friend in his Cub Scout den who also happens to have a younger brother in Xavier’s pre-school class and the two of them are friends. While Ciaran and his friend are not in sports together, Xavier and his friend are. During T-ball one day the team was done with batting and going out onto the field, but Xavier was missing. I turned around to find him talking to the older brother of his friend, Ciaran’s friend and classmate.

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Alright, now onto the Tevye show. One day we went out and got ice cream then came back home to finish them in the back yard.

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When everybody else had finished I took Tevye inside to finish his. Instead of eating the cone he chose to use his finger to get at the remaining ice cream.

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I walked into the kitchen to find this. Not quite the Mariners headgear one might expect.

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Finally, here he is in the backyard playing with one of the multiple balls we have strewn about. One of his favorite activities.

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St. Petersburg On the Road

It was 1995 and Laura and I were travelling around the world. Literally. From Seattle I met up with her in Hong Kong, we took the train from Beijing to Moscow, then to St. Petersburg. We would eventually move on to Warsaw, Berlin, Paris then Amsterdam before flying home, but it is a story from St. Petersburg that I want to bring up.

There has been a proliferation of ridesharing services in the last few years and these are coming increasingly at odds with local jurisdictions with regards to taxi services as well as municipalities themselves.

Back in 1995?

In Russia?

One guidebook (which I don’t have any more) recommended against taking any official cabs because the meters were notoriously rigged and tampered with. The recommendation was to flag down private cars as people would routinely give others rides for a nominal charge. And for the most part this worked.

But this one time was different.

The main post office in St. Petersburg. Taken from the city's website.

The main post office in St. Petersburg. Taken from the city’s website.

Laura was in the hostel resting while I had gone to the post office to mail a few things home. This experience is probably worth its own blog post.

As I was returning from post office I stood on the sidewalk with my arm out hailing a driver. There were surprisingly few cars on the road for the middle of the day. it took a few minutes but I finally was able to flag down a couple driving a small car. I told them where I was going and we were off.

It should be noted just how crappy the economy of Russia was at the time. In Moscow people would stand by the train station selling the clothes off their backs or the one or two tomatoes they grew themselves. This is part of why people would use their private cars to earn money driving others around.

So I flag down a car and I’m on my way back to the hostel. We haven’t gone but a few blocks and the guy starts trying to sell me…. something. I don’t know and/or remember. What I do remember was an endless string of items products, the “only in Russia” variety.

When I didn’t accept any of the products or other services the guy who was behind the wheel started offering up the woman in the passenger seat.

That was unexpected.

I declined and could not get out of that car fast enough.

Then Laura and I went about the rest of our vacation as normal.

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A Different Childhood

When I was 10 years old Saturdays meant cartoons and afternoon movies. I would wake up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons such as “Super Friends”, “Hong Kong Phooey”, “Land Of The Lost” or “Speed Buggy”. The afternoons would be spent perhaps at a movie theater, but mostly watching the local stations broadcast their weekly installment of a monster film (which is when I was introduced to the entire Godzilla franchise) and after that would be the weekly Tarzan film.

Mom and I would watch those together, but that’s another story.

My 10 year old daughter woke up early this past Saturday before everybody else and turned on computer (including bypassing login password) to check email. She was looking to see if another parent had responded to a request as to whether or not her friend could come over and spend the night.

While Saturday mornings may be different 40 years later, sleepovers haven’t changed.

I don’t know how late they stayed up watching movies, but Netflix and the proliferation of home video has made this endeavor so much easier than when I was doing this with my friends. We were slaves to whatever was on the three networks and whatever local station would broadcast. I think we wound up getting more sleep on a sleepover “back in the day” though my memory may be a bit fuzzy in that regard.

What followed was certainly not how my sleepovers when when I was a kid.

may 2016 sleepover 02I wound up taking Xavier, Dela and her friend to a Mariners game.

It was our first game of the season. Actually it had been quite a while since I had been able to take the kids to the ballpark so I was looking forward the game. It was fun, and Xavier had a great time. We found free parking, which is always a plus, and it puts me in a much better mood. I probably wound up buying too much in the way of treats for everybody.

Xavier partook of the stadium’s free refill soda, which was pretty gargantuan to begin with. He wound up having 3 or 4 total and of course needed to pee a couple of times. What was nice was how compliant Xavier was. At age 6 he was so patient and well behaved, more so than I remember some of the other kids at this age at the ball game.

may 2016 sleepover 01It was a chilly day, and thankfully Safeco Field has a retractable roof, so the rain, which there was some, didn’t fall on us. It is still an open air stadium so the mid-50s temperatures still affected us.

Dela had a great time hanging out with her friend, and thee two of them wound up going to get refills on their drinks or going to the restroom every inning. Those drinks were huge and the free refills may have kept them from staying in their seats, but they were having fun.

Sadly the Mariners lost, but the four of us still had a fun time.

Upon returning home Dela’s friend was picked up and another was dropped of. This meant a second sleepover. Back to back overnights.

I was tired, so I can only imagine how tired Dela was. She wound up gathering a lot of steam, probably from all the sugar in the soda she had at the stadium.

From what I gather these two stayed up even later that night. When I woke up the following morning just after 6 I heard the television. Going downstairs a little while later I found the television off and the two girls dead asleep.

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I don’t know how the two of them wound up fitting on the couch.

Despite the routine noise of the morning the girls slept until well after 10. The rest of the day went as you might expect.

It was a long holiday weekend, and an enjoyable one. Two sleepovers sandwiching a Mariners game is not a bad way to spend a weekend of your childhood.

 

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Music Monday: Oingo Boingo

I remember distinctly my introduction to Oingo Boingo. It was some point in the early 80s and it was Saturday morning, perhaps Sunday, but most likely Saturday. It would be late morning or early afternoon. There was a show on sort of like “American Bandstand” or “Soul Train” but probably a local show, not nationally syndicated. The camera panned to the left and on a riser was Oingo Boingo and they began performing “Grey Matter” and I didn’t know what to think. My musical knowledge was limited and even then it was all mainstream top 40 stuff.

“Grey Matter”

It would be several years before I truly became aware of the band, but that song and performance stuck with me.

oingo boingo dead man's partyBecause I was in the Army going through basic training it wasn’t until after the fact that I caught up with the film Weird Science which wound up providing the band with its biggest hit, but by the time Back To School hit theaters in 1986 I was well aware of Oingo Boingo’s participation (providing the song “Dead Man’s Party” and performing in the film) and had become familiar with most of their singles up to that point.

By the time 1987’s BOI-NGO album came out I was a fan. While there were a couple of official singles the local alternative radio station played a number of tracks off this album regularly. To this day it might be my favorite Oingo Boingo album (though Nothing To Fear is just so crazy and has some fantastic songs). What I remember about BOI-NGO was nearly everybody was listening to the band then. It seemed unreal that a band I barely knew about a few years ago and nobody else seemed to have heard of was not one of the favorites of nearly all my friends.

“Elevator Man”

I had the opportunity to see Oingo Boingo live but didn’t because I expected to catch them next time around. I turned around and Oingo Boingo announced they would indeed be breaking up in 1995. I was crushed.

bachelor party soundtrackWhile Oingo Boingo may not have changed music or been a landmark band in music history their unique sound has always had appeal. I have since collected all of the band’s albums and most of their soundtrack appearances, though there are still a few that elude me. It’s more difficult now that used record stores are fewer and far between.

I miss Danny Elfman’s brand of rock music and wish there was more of it.

“Winning Side”

 

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