Phamily Foto Phriday 11-21-14

I have quite a bit this week, including a few videos, so let’s jump right into it.

Here is Ciárán learning to dive during swim lessons last Friday:

I love how there’s so much build-up then…

Here is a sort of compilation of other stuff from the same swim lesson. First up is August and Déla racing, twice. Watch for Ciárán being tossed. Then there’s Xavier actually beginning to swim on his own.

The next day, Saturday, Déla had her last gymnastics meet of the season. She did really well. She has advanced quite a bit since the start of the season. Here she is doing a somersault off of the balance beam.


Again with her floor routine


and launching through her bar routine.


This her her vault – a much better view than the first time a few weeks ago.

Then later on in the week it was the last regular gymnastics class for both Déla and Xavier. They always have the kids pose at the end, like it’s the end of their gymnastics routine as they give them a medal or a ribbon or something for participation.











It appears this was the last week of decent weather for a few months. Might be the last opportunity to ride the horse in front of Fred Meyer without getting rained on.


Finally here is Xavier trying out some solid food. Not terribly happy about it.


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DVR Appreciation

Here’s the comment I posted on another person’s blog post:

I wouldn’t be able to watch television without my DVR. My kids will watch live television (PBS Kids or Disney Channel) but I never watch television for myself without it being recorded. By the time the kids are in bed chances are I would have missed a show. Or for those nights when there are two shows on at the same time? We are always behind on what we watch. Oh, I smell a blog post.

Because, yeah, we don’t watch live television. Sometimes we’ll watch a show the night after it airs. What did we do before?

television oldBack in the 80s and 90s I had two VCRs for the usual reasons guys in their early 20s have pretty much anything. I would pipe my cable signal directly into the VCR so it would be easy to record stuff on multiple channels at multiple times.

Life was simpler then with one child and fewer commitments. While I always have disliked cable there wasn’t a great alternative for me. Satellite wasn’t able to offer the local stations which I wanted, and sure I could figure out an antenna solution, but having one solution fits my needs. Besides, if cable could provide the local stations why couldn’t satellite?

I was finally able to get rid of cable in 2003 – we were at a home show and some installer of television systems was there trying to get everybody to use his service to upgrade their television experience. While that wasn’t feasible for us I did mention I had always been looking to get satellite, but the deal-breaker was the local station availability. He told me that while in the past a couple of local stations had been available, now all of them would be and my deal breaking requirement for switching to satellite was broken.

Getting rid of cable has made me a much happier television viewer.

directv logoWhen we first got DirecTV we spring for the TiVo service rather than continue with my outdated VCR method of recording shows to watch later. That totally changed the way we watched television. We watched more of it. We were able to record a show on one channel and watch another at the same time or watch one show that was recorded while another show gets recorded. And without the two VCRs there was less equipment under the television, which was nice.

Then a few years later we upgraded to an HD receiver. When that happened we got dropped from TIVo and were given DirecTV’s DVR service. Occasionally it wouldn’t record the right thing, but overall it was just fine. It was still better than having cable.

Being able to press a button and have an entire series get recorded is a major relief for me. I don’t always know when a new season of a show will start, so having it automatically kick in is really nice.

While we are remodeling our house we wound up having to move, if just temporarily. Moving brought about another receiver from DirecTV, an upgrade. Supposedly one that can record 5 shows at once, though I haven’t really had the opportunity to test that out. There’s a lot more hard disc space for storage of shows as well. This is important in my family, as we don’t always get to shows right away. When you have both the kids and parents recording different series, those episodes stack up quick.

Frankly, I don’t know how anybody watches all they want to without having some sort of recording going on. I love my DVR, and I’m a rather satisfied DirecTV customer.

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Preschool Pick-Up

Nobody is consistently on-time for preschool drop off and pick up. How do I know this? I’m the only one there.

clockNobody seems to think it is important to be consistent to drop off and pick up their child on time from preschool. Every day I get there on time, a few minutes early, and while there are always one or two others they are never the same people. Both at drop off and pick up.

Why? Is it not important to establish the behavior and expectation in children that showing up on time is important? By not showing up on time aren’t we sending the message, even if subconsciously, that school – and particularly the teacher’s time, is not important.

Then there’s the case of not arriving on time for picking up your child at the end of the day. Who does this? Why are some people so consistently late to pick up their child? I just don’t get it. If you’re going to be late that often, chances are you know you will be and should be making other arrangements.

Alright, so maybe I’m exaggerating slightly when I say I am the only one who is there on time every day. And by exaggerating I mean there have been a couple of days when I have been late. Usually it is for pick up because I am dealing with an infant who decided 15 minutes before the school day is over to have a massive blow out diaper.

This is, I suppose the flip side of the DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince song.


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Judge Not And Be Kind

This was one of the prompts from the official NaBloPoMo headquarters to use. While I am not really needing the prompts as I currently have about 7 or 8 posts in my drafts folders (though some are no more than a headline, at least the idea is there), I saw this one and thought immediately of a story that I wanted to put out there and eventually pass on to my kids and never got around to telling. This seemed like a good opportunity to rectify this situation.

Tell us about one time that you benefitted from the kindness of strangers.

metro bus

Shamelessly stolen from King County’s Facebook page

I don’t remember exactly how old I was. 21, maybe 22. Living on Capitol Hill I would take the bus to my mom’s house up in North City (this was back when it was unincorporated Seattle, before it became officially its own city of Shoreline). I transferred in the University District, as the bus from Capitol Hill ended there and I could get the one route that went relatively close to my mom’s house – though I would still have a 15 or so block walk.

It would be well over another decade before I would learn to drive, so I was dependent on the bus schedule. If I remember correctly this was a Saturday which meant a lighter schedule, so the buses headed up to North City were infrequent. I was already late because I had missed the bus I had planned on getting from Capitol Hill and the one I did get was running late.

Maybe I was going up to babysit my younger brothers. Maybe this actually took place on Sunday and I was headed up for dinner. Whatever. Point is, I was running late and there were fewer buses running.

So I get off the number 7 in the University District and right in front of me is the number 73. And it’s pulling out. I run after it for a couple of blocks and come *THIS* close to catching up to it at the next bus stop. I was frustrated because this meant I would be even later to my mom’s house but also just mad that I wasted all that energy.

That’s when it happened. Some guy who looked like a jock pulls up next to me in his car and offers to give me a lift a couple of bus stops ahead so I can catch the bus.

I was taken aback. Jocks didn’t associate with my kind. Heck, I was the guy jocks would pick on, shove in lockers, tape to poles, dump in trash cans, you get the idea. I dumbly stood there for a second then accepted the offer. The guy said he was headed that direction for a few more blocks anyway, saw me running and nearly catch the bus and commiserated about how he had been in the same spot a couple of times. He drove me about six blocks, just ahead of the bus and I got out, thanked him and he was off.

The whole interaction took less than a minute. And from that day on I have tried to not judge people based solely on their outward appearances.


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Music Monday: Lighthouse Records

When I was in the Army (shocking revelation to many) from 1985 – 1989 I spent most of that period stationed in the Monterey Bay area. There were a couple of record stores I would frequent in these musically formative years, but perhaps none other as influential as Lighthouse Records.

On Lighthouse Avenue, the main road going through Pacific Grove, literally adjacent to Monterey, within a sort of inside mall in a small office building, tucked in the back was this record store. And I mean it was small. It had two aisles. The rectangular room was about 12 foot wide by maybe 30 foot long. The walls were lined with racks of records and in the middle was an “island” filled with records. Basically you navigated the store by walking around the center in a counter clockwise manner with the register taking up the final spot by the door on the right before you exit.

Why was this one record store so important in my musical awareness? What was it about this one place that is so indelible that it still sticks with me 25 years later?

dickies great dictationsThe proprietor, an Asian man whose name I can’t remember (but *think* his name was George), would always remember me and my best friend. He would come up with recommendations for us, despite the fact that we only went in together one or two times. Usually we went separately, but he always remembered us both. I remember distinctly one day I was browsing the racks when he came up to me and said “You like punk music, right?” and pulled out the newly released 1989 compilation album by The Dickies – Great Dictations.

“Silent Night”

He was right of course. His recommendations were usually correct. I have since become a fan of the band as documented in other blog posts here.

“The Sounds Of Silence”

One of the other things I distinctly remember about Lighthouse Records was is prolific selection of 12 inch singles. There are a number of great remixes and extended versions of songs that I picked up simply because I was there. I saw a video by New Order on MTV, wound up picking up the 12 inch version of the song, then I picked up the compilation album Substance and, as you may have guessed, became a fan of the band.

“Shellshock” (12 Inch Extended Version)

I picked up a lot of great singles there, usually in the 12 inch format. Eurythmics, New Order, INXS, Big Audio Dynamite, even Dee Dee Ramone’s first solo single released as Dee Dee King, which is a bit of a challenge to listen to, but I won’t ever give it up. It was only ever released on a 12 inch single, not on any album.

Dee Dee King – “Funky Man”

Since leaving the Army in 1989 I have been back to Monterey twice. The first time was a few years later before Laura and got married. We took a trip down the coast and of course stopped overnight in Monterey. One of the various places we went to was Lighthouse Records, and the owner was still there and he still remembered me! I picked up a couple of CDs (he had finally made the conversion from albums) and was glad to see him, and I think he was genuinely glad to see me again.

A few years after this we returned to Monterey, this time with Kyle. Lighthouse Records was gone. We dug around and searched, hoping simply the location had changed, but we couldn’t find it anywhere. This saddened me. Lighthouse Records was an important part of my life and the formation of my musical identity. Wherever you are, and whatever your name was/is, thanks.


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Water Balloons

Last week I posted briefly, a sort of snapshot – literally and figuratively, about our trip to Massachusetts last summer. Today I’m going to do the same thing.

We had rented a house in Salem for 2 weeks and took the red-eye out. The kids were of course exhausted by the time we got there, and it was hot. We didn’t do much that first day at all, and the second day was just sort of… putzing around town. By the third day, however, the kids were getting their internal clocks adjusted to the different time zone and the heat. Well, maybe not really fully adjusted, but at least it wasn’t nearly as much of a shock as it was.

One of the things that helped everybody deal with the heat was the shop a couple of blocks away that sold fruit smoothies. Mango was a popular flavor among our crew.

mass 2014 04 smootie salem

At the drug store we found a container that would pump water into water balloons and it came with something like 200 water balloons. One day the kids decided to have a water balloon fight. No clear winner was declared.

mass 2014 05 water balloon salem mass 2014 06 water balloon salem


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Five Random Useless Facts

neville poster1. My favorite character from the entire Harry Potter franchise is Neville Longbottom. He is the most underrated character in the franchise, the most loyal and brave – in many ways even braver than Harry. He is perseverance and determination personified. And if you had been paying attention the prophecy could have been about him.

2. My favorite class from middle school was a combination Astronomy/Meteorology class. Half of the class was looking at the stars, which I wasn’t good at but interested in, and the other half was about, as you probably have surmised, predicting the weather. I was good at the meteorology part. To this day it is one of the only school courses that has stuck with me throughout my life. I watch the weather forecast on television, viewing the radar and whatnot, and right before the 5 day forecast comes up I do my own prediction and am usually right if not very close. I might have made a decent meteorologist.

alderaan 5 day forecast

3. I have enough T-shirts to do a weekly post about each one for the next 2 years. I think I just might do that.

dave grohl rolling stone4. I took Dave Grohl’s passport picture once when I worked at Kinko’s. This was back in the mid-90s after the first Foo Fighters album came out. Unfortunately I only “sort of” recognized him, but by the time I realized who it was I was taking a passport photo of, he was gone. As a fan of both Nirvana and Foo Fighters I felt (and still do) sort of ashamed for not actually recognizing him. I missed my opportunity to get his autograph. I am still kicking myself over this.

5. One of my earliest memories of television is of watching Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-It helped set the blueprint for my sense of humor (along with a few other significant contributions).

laugh in

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Phamily Foto Phriday 11-14-14

11-14-14-1 ciaran holding tevyeI don’t remember exactly which day it was, but Ciaran asked if he could hold Tevye. We knew it wouldn’t be very successful, but Ciaran certainly tried his best and was able to hold him for a moment. Then Tevye started slipping. Of course my initial reaction is to take a picture rather than rush over to make sure the baby is safe. Well, Laura was right there in case things started to go really bad.

Look at the size comparison of the two. Tevye is getting huge! He had his 6 month checkup on Tuesday and is in the 97th percentile for both height and weight. He’s a big kid.

One day this week I managed to get a picture of Xavier and I playing a board game in the morning before going off to preschoool.

11-14-14-2 xavier boared game

Wednesday was Ciaran’s first Cub Scout outing. We went to Carkeek Park and had a guided tour from somebody who works at the parks department to look at the salmon coming up stream. It started getting dark by the time we started, so while we saw a bunch of salmon I couldn’t get a good picture of any of them.

11-14-14-3 ciaran cub scout salmon

After learning about the life cycle of salmon we played a game. All in all a successful first Cub Scout outing and Ciaran had fun.

Each ofasdfsdf11-14-14-4 ciaran cub scout salmon

Here is the dining room table after school on Thursday. August, Dela and Ciaran are each working on homework. If you look closely you’ll also see each of them have a container filled with some sort of after school snack.

11-14-14-5 kids homework after school


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Support (An Update)

Chances are you missed this post a while back about “how we do it” with regards to the children’s schedule. Things have changed in the three years since then, and “how we do it” has changed as well. Not only do we have another child, the other kids are older and their needs and activities are different.

August is now in 5th grade, Dela in 4th, Ciaran is in 1st grade, Xavier has preschool in the afternoons and Tevye, well, he’s 6 months old. The logistics have changed. Dela is less active in the Girl Scouts but has picked up more activity with gymnastics and Irish step dancing. August is more active in the Cub Scouts (his last year before moving up to Boy Scouts) and Ciaran is beginning to participate as well. Things are different, but there are a number of things that are the same.

planning calendarWith the baby and new schedule I have had to actually ask for help. Getting to and from school three times a day is a chore enough. Yes, three times. Once to drop kids off at the beginning of the school day, once at noon to drop Xavier off for preschool, and once at the end of the day to pick everybody up.

I have gotten a workaround with Tevye’s napping, and some days it is better than others. The thing is, there are days when I have to either go back to school once again or get there early. These additional trips to and from the school are a pain – especially since I’m just dropping off or picking up one child, but I still have to have all of the children with me.

My solution to this is to [*gasp*] ASK FOR HELP!

Tuesday afternoons August is participating in a technology club after school. Another parent has agreed to pick him up and bring him home as her daughter is participating in the club  as well. Fridays August is participating in another activity before school, and another (different) parent with a child also participating agreed to pick August up and take him to school. I will admit to it being difficult to having had to ask for help, but it is so greatly appreciated.

Asking for help was difficult, but not nearly as difficult as having to add more trips to school for the next several months. I am fortunate to have a couple of other parents at the school willing to help.


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A Post Going Nowhere

The post idea I had for today sounded good in my head, then as I began typing it out it sounded more and more dumb. I couldn’t drag it out to a full post and there wasn’t any interesting angle to spin. Essentially it was about going to the store to get my daughter some lip balm.

Where does that leave me? It’s already late in the day. I have to leave very shortly to pick the kids up from school. Upon returning home I will try to put Tevye down for the nap he skipped so I can focus my attention on helping the kids with their homework. Then a little after 4 after Laura gets home I am taking Ciaran out to a Cub Scout activity – his first. When we get home there won’t be much time because there’s bedtime routines to work on and by the time I will be able to sit down and type again my brain will be mush.

What to do – I could use one of the NaBloPoMo prompts but that would necessitate a full blog post, some thought, which I don’t have a heck of a lot of time for. 15 minutes before I need to leave the house as it is right now. I have a few blog posts in my drafts section, but again they need more time and attention than I have at my disposal.

Here I am with another “placeholder” and lame post simply to get something up to keep my NaBloPoMo streak alive. This is an example of the type of post I hate to write, but warned would come when I started on this venture earlier this month. Thankfully we’re almost halfway through the month and this only the second time I’ve punted. Hopefully I’ll be able to work on those posts in my drafts folder tomorrow.

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