Phamily Foto Phriday 10-21-16

It has been two weeks, I know, but things have been pretty crazy around the house. Xavier has been home almost all of this week sick (today he is finally feeling better and his temp dropped below 100) so it’s not like we haven’t been around, it’s just… been busy parenting instead of documenting. But I did manage to get a few pictures.

First we have the Ribbon Run, the last cross country race for the younger kids. The older kids have their championship meet shortly. Here is Xavier crossing the finish line.


That day Ciaran also ran.


Soccer season isn’t over yet…


Did you know you can get toddlers on Amazon Prime?



When I walk to the store this is my view now.


Tevye keeps trying to help keep the house clean. He is not very effective.


The middle school puts on a Halloween carnival and haunted house every year. Here is Dela with a couple of her make-up tests.


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Busy, Busy, Busy

16-sep-2016-08Maybe you don’t know, but we recently had another baby.

Two months ago as a matter of fact.

Naturally having a new baby in the house has caused a bit of an upheaval in our schedules, though thankfully not nearly as large as it could be.

Our biggest challenge these days is not sleep. We know how fortunate we are in this department. And the less said the better. I don’t want to jinx it.

Instead our problems are all logistical these days. With two children in middle school, one in 3rd grade and another in Kindergarten, that would be difficult enough. Having a toddler and newborn in the house in addition to all those children in school it what is killing us.

Let’s take pick-up from school for example.

Xavier gets out at 3, Ciaran at 3:05 with August and Dela getting out at 3:15.

Thankfully the four of them are at the same school. I do need to go to a specific area to pick up Xavier as Kindergarteners are not dismissed with the rest of the general school population, and each child needs to be picked up by a parent (or guardian). This means I am going to pick up the kids from school despite them (mostly) being of an age they can walk the block and a half by themselves.

16-sep-2016-05Picking up from school isn’t the problem, it’s the younger kids and their naps that are the problem. Tevye has his one nap in the afternoon and will usually be up in time to go to the school and pick up his siblings (but not always). It is 2 month old Grace and her current inconsistent, but solid, naps. Why would I want to wake up a sleeping baby? Unfortunately there are times when her nap conflicts with the logistics of picking up the other kids from school.

Fortunately Laura’s schedule is such that she can rush home after her school gets out so that somebody can be home with sleeping children while I pick kids up from school.

16-sep-2016-10How about another example – Monday night is “Scout night” for us. Almost every Monday the Boy Scouts meet. As a den leader for 2 Cub Scout dens I can set the day and time those dens. Last year I chose 7pm because that was the time the Boy Scouts meet and since I was headed to the location anyway, it made sense to just work both meetings at the same time – same building, different rooms. Since I don’t need to be as active a participant with August’s Boy Scouts as I do with the Cub Scouts, it worked.

This year with the addition a second Cub Scout den I have that den starting an hour earlier. The new den, Kindergarteners, meets formally once a month, so it isn’t as big of a change to my schedule, but next year it will be with the Kindergarteners moving up to first grade and into a full-fledged Cub Scout den, but that’s an issue for next year.

Dela’s gymnastics is now on Tuesday, starting at 6:15, which falls right into the window of time where Tevye is supposed to be getting ready to go to bed. That in itself isn’t an issue, but if Grace is asleep, it can be.

Fortunately the two in middle school are busy with their own activities and able to walk themselves to most of them, such as the weekly youth group meeting. It gets out late (well after dark) so I go pick them up. It is nice, however, to have them take a more active role in their transportation to their activities as it makes the logistics at home a little easier.

I am not complaining. We want the kids to participate in various activities. Having another parent here in the house would help immensely.

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Phamily Foto Phriday 10-7-16

This was a big week for us. It started off with Grace getting baptized.


Marianne made it out for the baptism to act as godmother. The next morning there was a lot of comic reading during breakfast.


The last full cross country meet was this past Sunday.


Here’s Xavier coming to the finish line.


And of course Ciaran.


I know this ins’t a great picture of Dela, but it’s the only one I have.


August came in dead last but he never stopped.


Before it gets too far along here is Grace.


Tevye wanted to have a picnic lunch in the front room one day.


Another day he spent a long time playing with play dough.


One evening Kyle came over, which means all seven of the kids were under the same roof, even if for just a few moments.



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batman-comic-09I have a long history with the Batman franchise, like many of us do. It has been around for 75 years and was among the first ever costumed comic book super heroes.

My association with Batman began in the 70s, through various television incarnations. It was not initially the 60s series which got to me, but various cartoon series that introduced me to the character.

The 1960’s television series was fun, but even as a kid of about 9 or so (maybe younger) I knew that wasn’t the “proper” representation of Batman. For many it seemed like it should be, and in many ways it is what co-creator Bob Kane would have imagined had we not been going through the dark economic times during the period when Batman was created.

batman-tv-promoSure, things were in recovery in 1939, but the character of Batman represented something dark society was still dealing with. Within a year Robin was introduced and the tone changed significantly – so much so that a jovial and light-hearted Batman was the blueprint not only for the comics but the television series. The separation from a dark origin and storytelling is something most people don’t remember.

While the television series brought Batman back into the forefront of popular culture, it was later when I became aware of the character. The original 1973 Saturday morning “Super Friends” series was my major introduction to Batman (and a host of other characters). Even then, at that young age, while enamored that super heroes were on my television screen each week it didn’t satisfy.

new-adventures-of-batman-promoIt was the 1977 Saturday morning cartoon series “The New Adventures Of Batman” seemed to strike the balance between the light-hearted television persona and the newer more realistic tone the comics seemed to be moving towards. I enjoyed this series immensely and wished it had more episodes and continued longer.

Animated versions of Batman were decent, but it was the comics and the serious tone they struck which I connected with.

By the 70s things had changed. While Denny O’Neil gets a lot of (deserved) credit, the groundwork was laid out by Frank Robbins in the late 60s. I started reading the comics a couple of years before the 1977 animated series came out. These seemed more realistic, more connected to life. While the various television appearances were good,  they didn’t satisfy the same way the comic did.

strange-deaths-of-batman-coverOne of the early story lines I remember reading was a four-part mystery about who killed Batman. Catwoman, Joker, Riddler and Lex Luthor all contend they were the ones to do the deed with each issue focusing on their testimony. This storyline always stuck with me because it showcased a number of Batman’s skills such as disguise and detective work.

Recently I picked up The Strange Deaths Of Batman omnibus, which collects multiple issues of various comics where Batman faces death. It had been many years since I had been able to read this story as I had sold my collection of comics over 20 years ago, at least those comics I still had left. It was really good to reread this story which, in retrospect is a little campier than I remember, but still highly interesting.

I stopped picking up comics a long time ago, and with the endless retcons and reboots I have lost interest. At least in the comics. As a character Batman has been one of my favorites and have always watched what I could over the years.

Batman’s brains is what I really like about the character. Sure he’s strong and agile, but that’s through training. In many ways Batman is like a fantasy about what an ordinary person could do given a seemingly endless amount of money and motivation.

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Pumpkin Season

Even before October 1 the pumpkin invasion began.

Of course there were the pumpkin spice drinks at your local coffee shop – and no, I’m not going to go into how little pumpkin is in those. I will say there is such a thing as “pumkin spice” does not actually exist, and that most people actually are thinking of Allspice when it comes to pumpkin flavor.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the pumpkin season.

pumpkin-beerI particularly enjoy the “pumpkin” flavored ales that come out.

And the ice cream. I wish that was a flavor that was around all year.

But in coffee? Well, I am not a latte drinker. Too milky – if that makes any sense. I am a mocha guy, the coffee and chocolate combination is what I prefer. Adding the pumpkin (or allspice or whatever) flavor to a latte doesn’t do anything for me.

Every year the kids’ school has a fun event to mark the end of the cross country season, the annual Pumpkin Run. I have posted a couple of pictures from previous years before here on the blog. I am sure this year will be no different.

It usually falls on me to carve all of those pumpkins, though August has started carving his own (thankfully). Laura has a belief that each child needs to have their own pumpkin carved out. This year that would mean 6 different pumpkins to carve, or 5 if August does his own again. I am really hoping I can get away with not having to carve one for the newest member of our family.

If I didn’t have to do the bulk of the carving I would agree with Laura.

For me the beginning of the school year brings two things that are forever connected in my mind – cross country and pumpkins.

One does precede the other by a couple of weeks, but since the Pumpkin Run is where the kids (those who are old enough to participate in cross country) get their pumpkins and during the season the various pumpkin themed/flavored food and drinks come out, I can not help but associate the two.

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Phamily Foto Phriday: 9/30/16

Yes, it has been two weeks. You try doing regular updates with a toddler and a month old.

By the way, here is the toddler acting and dressing as fabulous as he is.


We made it to one more Mariners game this year.


Cotton candy was had,


with Ciaran none too happy I was taking his picture.


This is the only good picture I have of the three of them at the game.


After this particular game kids were allowed to run around the bases. We had just enough time to do this on our way out of the ballpark before we had to be at our next event.

Kindergarten soccer – we had all of Xavier’s equipment in the car so we went directly from the ballpark to the soccer field this day.


The Boy Scout troop held a Court Of Honor recently as well. August was awarded the merit badges he earned at summer camp.


He was also awarded the rank of Second Class and is well on his way to earning First Class. Here he is placing the parent pin on me for that rank.


Somebody has some new pajamas.


At some sidewalk festival on her way home from dance there was somebody making balloon animals. Dela got a big lipped cow.


The red balloon is the udder.


And more Kindergarten soccer.


Just so you don’t think I am forgetting about her, here is Grace.




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Dedication Or Foolishness

For those unfamiliar Cub Scouts is organized by grade. Tiger Cubs is the program for 1st graders, Wolf for 2nd, Bear for 3rd with 4th and 5th graders being WEBELO Scouts. You have all school year to work on projects, do activities and earn the rank specific to your grade, though it is not required to do so for participation.

This year I am leading two Cub Scout dens.

Just over a year ago it was unfathomable for me to think I would be leading a single den, let alone two.

I never was a leader for August during his years as a Cub Scout, but was involved as much as I could be. During his second grade year he did not earn his rank because there was a switch in den leadership and I wasn’t as involved as I should have been. Thankfully he was very self-motivated to continue with Cub Scouts and was not deterred by his lack of progress that year.

16-sep-2016-09Ciaran is not the same. Yes, he is self-motivated in many respects, but when it comes to scouting he did not have the same drive his older brother did.

Do not get me wrong, he enjoys being in Cub Scouts. Well, now he does. At first he wasn’t terribly excited about it but went along with it. Towards the end of first grade it was apparent he was not going to be getting his Tiger rank – this was due to a number of circumstances such as his den starting up a few months late. Ciaran and I worked together to make sure he did earn it by the start of second grade when he transitioned into the next den – Wolf Cub.

During that summer between 1st and 2nd grade it became apparent the adult leader of the Tiger Den was not going to be returning which meant there would be nobody to fill that role for the Wolf Den.

mohai scout 02Not wanting what happened in 2nd grade for August to happen again and lose any ground with Ciaran. This was a crucial time, and I really wanted to build on the progress made and not go backwards with the real possibility of Ciaran losing interest is Cub Scouts.

So I did what I never set out to do – become a Cub Scout Den Leader.

This past year has been good. It was tough moving up from “involved adult” to Den Leader, but ultimately rewarding. And I’m glad to have done it.

In becoming the Den Leader this sort of sticks me in that position for the next few years as Ciaran moves up the ranks each year before transitioning to Boy Scouts. I am fully prepared for this.

When Xavier becomes ready for Cub Scouts it would also more than likely fall on me to become the leader for that den. I just wasn’t quite expecting it to happen as soon as it did.

lion-cub-bookThis year with Xavier in Kindergarten traditionally he would not have entered Cub Scouts. Our local council is participating in a pilot program for Lion Cub Scouts, the program for Kindergarteners. This means Xavier is eligible to participate in Cub Scouts, and since I have already committed to leading Ciaran’s den and possibly Xavier’s in the future it was only natural that I would volunteer to step in and lead the Lion Cub den.

As the Den Leader I am able to set the schedule. We meet on Monday evenings, which is already “scout” night as August’s Boy Scout troop meets every Monday night. Thankfully the Cub Scouts don’t meet every week. Bear Cubs will meet every 2 or 3 weeks and the Lions once a month. The Boy Scouts meet at 7pm, so I have the Bears meet at that time as well. When the Lions meet I have that set for 6pm. Sure it makes for a long night, but it is infrequent enough to not be too much trouble.

Next year, however, will be another matter when I lead the WEBELO and Tiger dens so I am glad to get the practice of handling two different dens this year with the stakes lower with regards to the Lion Cubs. The requirements for Lions are minimal so I don’t need to get a lot accomplished for the Kindergarteners to earn their rank.

If you had said a year and a half ago I would be leading two Cub Scout dens I would have though you were crazy. Look at me now.

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Music Monday: Thank You Bosstones

Dear Joe, Tim, Joe, Ben, Chris, Lawrence, John, Kevin and Dickey (along with Nate, Tim, Josh, and others I am forgetting),

Thank you.

bosstones aug 2014The Mighty Mighty Bosstones has been an important band in my life for a long time. I have blogged about my association with the band and music several times over the last few years.  It has been a great privilege to see you live as many times as I have, especially half of those concerts occurring in Boston.

Your dedication and affection for your fans has touched me. I was a fan and as time has gone by some of the songs have taken on greater significance. Each successive time I have gone to one of your shows my affection for the band has grown.

I am lucky to like a band the same way the band likes its fan and to have directly felt that affection. While I have felt it seeing The Bosstones in Seattle, it is when I travel to Boston for the Hometown Throwdown that feeling is most palpable.

bost day 3 12This year I will be headed to Boston once again for the Hometown Throwdown.

It is an incredible privilege to be able to see one of your favorite bands repeatedly, let alone getting to travel to participate in their hometown celebration. I am very fortunate.

Last year’s event was particularly special by all accounts. The 18th (semi-annual) Hometown Throwdown celebrated Boston and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones history in a way that was unparalleled. I am truly sorry I missed it.

img_20111229_210826Knowing what I missed and how it would be impossible to be matched, I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to attend Hometown Throwdown 19.

And fortunate.

Not many people get to see one of their favorite bands as much as I will have seen you by the time 2016 is over. And the only reason I have, and will have, seen you as many times is because of my wife who knows how much this means to me. Leaving her home with the kids, the youngest of which will not even be 6 months old during the Hometown Throwdown, it’s not a small thing.

boston day 2 06Travelling from Seattle to Boston may not be a big deal for many, I know I’m not the furthest traveled fan at the Hometown Throwdown. With this being my 3rd appearance, I also know I’m not the fan with the greatest attendance record at the Hometown Throwdown.

I am not making any claim for being the biggest or most loyal fan.

Yes, that's the legendary Boston band Mighty Mighty Bosstones with Flat Stanley. From August's 2011 report.

What I do claim is that you, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, are a special band to me, along with many other people. I appreciate that feeling seems to be reciprocal. You keep doing the Hometown Throwdown shows, the meet and greets, and more. Heck, you even posed for a picture with my son’s Flat Stanley for a school project once. How many bands would do that?

So I just wanted to say “Thank you” for being so obviously grateful and loyal to your fans by continuing to hold these Hometown Throwdown celebrations. I am looking forward to this year’s Hometown Throwdown in whatever form it takes.

And thank you to my wife for letting me go.

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Learn Your Manners

Seattle based restaurant El Gaucho will be hosting an etiquette course at each of its locations. Seattle (both locations), Bellevue, Tacoma and Portland will have noted etiquette expert Cortney Anderson-Sanford help recapture some of what is increasingly missing from today’s digitally connected world – real connections and manners.

These classes will come in two flavors, one geared towards teens and another towards adults. Of particular interest, at least in my eyes, is the one for teens because laying the groundwork for polite social interactions is important but increasingly less emphasized in today’s society.

The adult class will run $175 per person and include a five-course meal while the teen class will cost $150 a person and include a four-course meal. Both will run approximately two hours, and dates have not been finalized yet.

There is a bit more information that can be found on El Gaucho’s website. Dates for the classes should be available shortly.

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Music Monday: Picking A Favorite

introducing the beatles 2It is no secret The Beatles is my favorite band. If it is a surprise then you haven’t been reading this blog very long. Sometimes I am asked what my favorite Beatles song is. For the longest time it was “Rocky Raccoon” for reasons I don’t really quite understand to this day (and no, it isn’t because my name is in the song).”

“All My Loving” has always been one of the favorites. Something about the lyrics conveying the love and longing of a long distance relationship coupled with the jangly guitar gets to me. It is probably in the top 5.

Despite using it as a lullaby for years (going on decade 2 now) “I Saw Her Standing There” does not make the list.

beatles-abbey-road“All You Need Is Love” may be one of, if not the, best songs in the Beatles catalog, and I do like it a lot, does not make the cut.

There are a few from the last couple of years of the band’s career I rather enjoy. Just today I was singing along to “Octopus’s Garden” and most of the Abbey Road album. “Polythene Pam” is another off that album that comes to mind immediately.

But as for my absolute favorite?

For the last few years it has been “Baby You’re A Rich Man” which has always been high on the list, but as I get older seem to understand on a deeper level.

Is it their best song? No. But I like it. A lot.

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