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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ringing in the New Year

2009 was sort of like this picture; Part of the time I was smiling like Ange and Ciera, other times I was grumpy like Trot, and a various points I just closed my eyes (or covered them up like Rakes) and just waited for the bad stuff to roll on by.

I work in retail, so national recessions aren't really conducive to good sales. But somehow we managed to make enough to meet all our commitments each month, even though Ange didn't go back to work until August.

Even though I have 3 insane children, we made absolutely no visits to the ER (close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades), they didn't give me a stroke, and somehow I managed to con Ange into staying married for another year, our 17th.

I got to go to Boston again, meet one of my closest friends in Jr, and watch virtually every game the Red Sox played. I've got both of my parents still with me, I've got my health (physically anyway) and I've been blessed with a family I never thought I'd have and definitely don't deserve.

Hayes, JB, and Amy all came to visit, I got to catch one last ball game with Mr. Andy, and when I go to sleep tonight I'll have heat in my house, food in the fridge, and a good woman to cuddle up with.

All in all? 2009's been a pretty good year.

Here's to 2010 being even better.

And to anyone who happens by this little corner of the world every now and then?

Happy New Year. I hope the upcoming year brings you more joy, health, and prosperity than you know what to do with.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Anyone who looks at his daughter like that? He's OK in my book.

*Photo courtesy of www.sittingstill.net*

Apparently, the hoser from the Great White North has signed with the Mets, and this development is causing chaos across Red Sox Nation.

Me? They traded Nomar, let Pedro and Damon leave via free agency, let Trot go along with Foulke, and sent Manny packing days after hitting his 500th career home run. In fact, the only thing I can see that was sentiment based was signing Tek to a $40 million dollar deal after '04, which in retrospect I'm pretty sure they regret.

The days of getting upset, at least for me, when a fan favorite departs left the barn a LONG time ago. Don't get me wrong; I'd have loved to have had Jason Bay patrolling LF for the next 5 years, but if Theo says otherwise, I ain't gonna argue.

What kills me is this; I make in one year what the average major league player makes in a game. If someone came up to me, told me I could provide for the next 3 generations of my family if I signed their contract, I'm pretty sure I'd set the land speed record for signing so high it could never be reached.

I've never begrudged anyone the opportunity to make as much money as they possibly can (unless you say you'll never play for New York, then turn around and do just that. That makes you an uber dink in my book but I'll still appreciate everything you did). I know how much I love my family and if I can make their life that much better, then by God I'll go to Queens, wear that stupid uniform, and hit as many bombs as I can.

And contrary to what most people would have you believe, I honestly think they would too. It's easy to judge a situation when you have absolutely NO CHANCE of ever getting that opportunity but if push came to shove? I can't think of a lot of folks who would turn down $6 million dollars, or whatever the exact figure works out to be.

Thanks for 1 1/2 years of service, Mr. Bay. You'll get a standing O in my living room when/if you come back to Fenway, and I hope you win the NL MVP 4 years running.

I won't notice, however. I'll be cheering for Mike Cameron, Aaron Bates, and whoever the Red Sox brass decide to run out in your place. And that bulldog of a pitcher named John Lackey we got with some of your $60 million?

He's pretty good.

You gotta love the off season.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dreaming of Spring Training and Opening Day


Actual conversation between Trot and I around 8 pm tonight, while we sat on the couch watching whatever Ciera and Rakes were enthralled with on Disney.

Trot: "Where am I doing now Dad?"

Me: "To bed in a few minutes."

Trot: "No. Where am I doing NOW Dad?"

Me: "To BED in a few minutes."

Trot: "No. WHERE AM I DOING NOW DAD?"

Me: "TO BED!"

Ciera: "He means where is he going tomorrow."

Me: "Oh. To Papa's house."

Trot: "You tunny, Dad."

I consider it a small miracle I'm not currently a resident of the closest mental institution.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Friends over Christmas = One Epic Holiday

What happens when a Twilight Zone version of Kevin Youkilis and a beautiful, slightly hyper native New Englander meet up with 2 Southerners, one extraordinary pretty pre-teen girl, a 6 year old with a voice like sand paper and a heart of gold, and a kid who would have fit right in when "Children of the Corn" was being filmed?

One of the best 24 hours of my family's life. (And don't tell me that weird looking kid in the left hand corner of the picture doesn't freak you out just a little. And I have to LIVE with him.)

Josh and Amy came to visit and there was more wrestling, hide and seek, wrestling, jumping on the trampoline, wrestling, playing ball, wrestling, and laughing we've seen in about 4 years total.

Did I mention the wrestling?

Like some northern version of the Southern Winds, Josh and Amy blew through our home and left a ton of happy memories, 3 sad children, and 2 sad but happy adults in their wake.

And an autographed Dustin Pedroia ball for which I'll be forever grateful.

Come back anytime, guys.

We'll leave the light on for you.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After

They get a WII, 4 games for it, and a flat screen for Christmas.

Naturally, when I get home from work today they want to play the board games LIFE and Zingo, which is just Bingo with some blackjack-like dealer for the bingo things.

My kids are weird.

'Course according to Ange, Rakes played it so much today that he probably ruined his vision, possibly has developed carpel tunnel syndrome, and may have dislocated his elbow during one particularly animated game of "Star Wars".

I still think they're weird.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thank God it's only once a Year

Trot's expression in this picture sort of sums up how I feel after the last 24 hours or so; confused, a tad dazed, and wondering when the tilt-a-whirl is gonna stop so I can get off and hurl.

We've been to both sets of parents homes, communion at church, had Santa AND the Tooth Fairy visit on the same night (Rakes lost his second tooth within a 10 day span; at this rate he's gonna be gumming his cheeseburger from McDonald's sometime in the next 30 days.)

Added to the pile of toys, games, and gadgets has been a WII, and flat screen tv, 4 WII games, 2 lightsabers for the WII (sadly, we lost both within 1 1/2 hours of opening thanks to Trot and his Godzilla like way of playing with stuff) and two remote control cars that have yet to reach the scrapyard but I've got $50 bucks that says they don't make it past Saturday. We've got 5 sets of pajamas, 4 stuffed animals, 3 wore out kids, 2 exhausted parents and a partridge in a pear tree in need of intense psycho therapy.

Throw in the fact I'm so out of shape that I think I tore my rotator cuff playing WII golf, Rakes muttered "D****t" when I missed my 6th putt on hole #3 (which led to a 10 minute session of Rakes in the box and me doing my best impression of Dennis Franz from NYPD Blue on where exactly he picked up this new bit of vocabulary. Best I can figure it was from "The Sandlot" (but who knows?) and Trot duck walking his way out of my Mom's bathroom and uttering "I pooped my pants, Dad. Can I have some more punch?", and I'm thinking I should just stick my head in the oven and just get it over with.

But just when I'm ready to pull a Krank and skip Christmas altogether, Ange goes and takes a picture like this and I'm Griswold-esque in my love of this special day all over again.

If you laughed half as much as I did today, or loved a fraction as much as I did today, or even lost your temper AS MUCH as I did today, consider yourself blessed.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and the countdown to Truck Day is officially on.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Silent Night

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Merry Christmas from my nutty little corner of the world to wherever you are tonight.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why I Need To Work From Home

Three weeks ago this coming Sunday, after threats of bodily harm by my wife, I headed to the local walk in clinic and was promptly diagnosed with bronchitis.

As I'm leaving, the very nice Doctor lady says "If you get to feeling bad again after your medicine runs out, just call and I'll call something in". After feeling no pain for roughly a week after the medicine was gone, I woke up Monday morning feeling like a road grader had ran over my while I slept. Stupid man that I am I tell myself "It'll go away if I don't think about it"; you can see where this is going, right?

At 10:30 this morning while I'm at work laying a layer of manure so deep you needed two sets of hip waders to just walk in it I call, leave a message and receive a call back in about 15 minutes that I had seen a WEEKEND doc and not a WEEKLY doc, and they would need to see me before they could help. I calmly tell this very pleasant young woman that I work all the way across town, IN RETAIL, and it's 2 days before Christmas AND on commission so she promises to ask again.

An hour later? Same exact message; you've got to come in. Look, I get the game; get 'em in, charge 'em the co-pay, make 'em wait JUST long enough that they are beginning to think about tearing up the office, then check them out, write a scrip, and send them home. Today, however, I wasn't having it; I called my ENT, begged his head nurse for some help, and currently have pill one of 20 inside my stomach and on the road to recovery.

I told you that story to tell you this one. While I'm alternating between hacking, chills, and legs that ached like I'd leg pressed 1,000 pounds my first born child, the daughter that I love more than life itself, is at home transforming Trot into the following:


It's not like he didn't have enough issues to deal with already.

And now this.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Anyone know a good Therapist?

He makes Manny look normal.

Check that; he makes TROT look normal. Milton Bradley may be the most certifiable insane athlete we've ever seen. Some guys lose it for brief periods, once or twice a career like Coco Crisp charging the mound like he was Ali back in the day or Pedro treating Don Zimmer like a charging Rhino back in '03.

But Milton? He takes first prize for being the biggest head case this side of "Monk". Let's put it this way; put Milton next to Crazy Carl Everett and Carl ends up looking like Einstein.

I'm not going to go over all of Milton's personal highlight reel over his career since you can read it all HERE. Suffice it to say, he's about an entire Sears store away from a full toolbox.

And the Seattle Mariners just traded for the guy.

I give it until about May 1st before Ichiro calls his contact in the Yakuza to see if they can "settle" things down.

Reason 4,792 I thank God everyday we've got Theo running this team.

Monday, December 21, 2009

One More Year For Senor Doubles?

I don't care if he's got a hip that makes Mickey Rooney's look pristine.

If the worst thing that happens to the Red Sox this off season is they "have" to take Mike Lowell and his professionalism, dirt doggedness, and award winning goatee back?

I'd say the off season went well.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

At least they look normal

In the state of North Carolina we're known for many things; our hospitality, our barbecue, Dean Smith, and the home of the finest lawman to ever wear a badge, Sheriff Andy Taylor, aka Andy Griffith.

More so than anything else, however, is our unparalleled ability to totally FREAK OUT when the possibility of winter weather rears it's ugly head. You've never seen a population clear out a grocery store of it's milk, bread, and lotto tickets like the fine citizens of the Tar Heel state. The elderly go to the supermarket while those of us with small children clean out the local ABC stores, the corner drug dealer, and if all possible get ahold of a Doctors prescription pad; the prospect of prolonged lock down mode with rabid children will make you wipe your moral compass clean in roughly the amount of time it takes to break the speed of sound. Trust me on this one.

Thankfully, in spite of our local weather gurus predictions, we only got 3 inches instead of 12; which meant I shuffled off to work yesterday while Ange took the Two Amigos and One Amigoette out to play yesterday.

Instead of telling you about how it all played out I'm going to just sum it up with what Ange saw as she finally got all three kids out of their wet clothes and boots and back inside the house.

Trot, buck naked, standing on top of the counter eating a banana while dancing and singing "Let it Snow" at the top of his lungs.

I couldn't make half this stuff up if I tried.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It Seems Like Yesterday

3 children, 2 miscarriages, 4,596 arguments, and 17 years later we're still married.

And speaking for myself, I'm more in love now than I was that night when I said "I do."

17 years may not seem that long, but I bet if you ask her, when you're married to me, it seems like a lifetime.

Thanks, Ange. For putting up with me obsessing about a baseball team and for spending countless hours watching baseball games that mean nothing in the big picture but are seemingly life and death when they are happening. Thanks for putting up with the fact that I have multiple online friends yet balk whenever you mention getting together with some couple that actually live close by.

Thank you for giving me the three biggest blessings I could ever ask for in my children, and for putting up with a fully grown child as well. I know I'm not what you dreamed for growing up but I'll be forever grateful I became what you wished for when you reached adulthood.

I'll never deserve you but I'll always be eternally grateful I got you.

Here's to 17 years being celebrated and another 43 to come.

That'll give us an even 60 and by that time I figure you can just trade me in for a newer model.

Love you, darlin'.

And Happy Anniversary.

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's 7 Days until Christmas and I feel fine

Ever wondered what a deranged, Prozac needing, sugar loving, whirling dervishing, strutting, cocky, and terminally hilarious miniature Elf looks like?






Now you know.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Papi and The Pips

With all the Hot Stove drama of Lackey and Cameron signing, wondering if Jacoby and Clay are being shipped off to the Left Coast for A Gone, and the Yankees/Johnny Damon soap opera, I figured I needed a break from all the angst.

Leave it to Papi, some shades that I imagine cost more than my yearly salary, and Wake and Crabby in suits to lighten the mood. Throw in the Mayor looking slightly psychotic and Scenic rocking his Smithsonian worthy facial hair and unless you've got A. A heart of stone, B. You're a MFY fan and therefore have NO heart, or C. You've just arrived from the planet Nebulon looking for brains to harvest, this picture should at the very least bring a smile to your face and at best make you feel like it's Christmas morning, you're back to being 7 years old, and Santa brought you an Atari game console complete with the NFL game.

Or maybe that's just me.

However, it doesn't take an expert to notice Papi looking like a model for GQ and per my completely fact less, uneducated guess, about 20 pounds less than his most recent playing rate.

A healthy, motivated, ticked off Large Father?

Bad for everyone else and great for the Sox.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rumor #2,469 of the 2009 Offseason

With the dust still settling from the John Lackey/Mike Cameron signings, the latest rumor is Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, and apparently the second coming of Mantle, Mays, and Williams for Alex Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres.

For some reason this is going over about as well as the Hindenburg to most of RSN. Me? I'll take a thumper who can hit one off the Mass Pike every time he steps up to the plate every day of the week and twice on Sunday. But that's just me.

Basically I look at the Hot Stove like I do an episode of Jerry Springer; lots of posturing, yelling, and cursing but in the end not much ever really happens.

I'll believe this latest theory right about the time I see A Gone put one in the 5th row of the Right Field bleachers.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Somebody get Hollywood on the Horn


The more I think about it the more it makes sense. ('Course I just got home from a 6th grade band concert so I may be disoriented and out of my ever loving mind)

NESN should make Tito room Beckett and Lackey on the road next year, assign a camera man 24/7 and go ahead and write the FCC a check for $3 million dollars as a sign of good faith, then just let the good times roll.

Seriously.

This could make "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle" look like an after school special by the end of the year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Seperated at Birth and $85 Million

If you believe what's being reported (it's on the Internet, so it's GOT to be true, right?) you're looking at the Red Sox new $85 million over 5 years pitcher John Lackey. He's 102-71 with a sub 4.00 era over the last eight years with the Angels, he's a bull dog who cursed his manager out when he had to come out of a playoff game last year, and combined with Josh Beckett may set the world record for F Bombs dropped by a duo in a single year, previously held by Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx.

Commander, Lester, Daisuke, Wake/Clay, and Lackey as your starting rotation?

I'm so freaking happy I can even forget he looks just like Marty McFly's mortal enemy.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'm Pretty Sure They Are Trying To Make Me Have A Nervous Breakdown.

*Image courtesy of my good friend Kelly and her site www.sittingstill.net*

Just when I've mentally resigned myself to the fact that Mikey Two Bags and his award winning facial hair are gone from Fenway forever, I go and read THIS story on ESPN and all of a sudden my head is spinning around like I've got the Bubonic plague.

What's even more amazing is it's his thumb they're worried about. Forget the arthritic hip of a 98 year old with a calcium deficiency, they're worried about his thumb? Granted, it was an issue but I'd be more concerned about him hitting a ball off the LF wall and getting thrown out at first than his ability to imitate Arthur Fonzerelli.

Throw in the Red Sox eating most of the $12 million owed on his contract and this makes as much sense as me entering "People Magazinest Sexiest Man" contest next year.

Somebody wake me up when Truck Day gets here.

And pass the Prozac.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

THIS is the Hot Stove?

The off season is in full swing, the Yankees have traded for Curtis Granderson, and so far the Red Sox have signed a Marco, a Tug, and a Boof.

If nothing else, the headlines in the Globe and the Herald next year should be a lot of fun.

Throw in Jason Bay and his agent flat out rejecting the Sox initial offer combined with Senor Doubles getting shipped off to Texas and I'm left wondering when the fun is going to commence.

All that said?

In Theo I Trust.

He just doesn't make it real easy sometimes.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

All My Heros Keep Slipping Away

I call myself a fan, they tell me it's a business.

I call it a business, they tell me to be a fan and support the team.

In yet one more "Don't get too attached to these guys" moments the guy who has manned third base for the past 4 years and who was World Series MVP back in '07 is gone.

I don't know of a man who didn't admire his skills and his toughness and a woman who didn't think he was gorgeous, my own wife, Mom, and sister included. Shoot, even I think the guy is the epitome of a man's man.

But a pressing need for a young catcher and the fact his hip resembles one of Micky Rooney's combined with what I'm REALLY hoping is some blockbuster deal Theo is saving for Christmas Eve as a nice present to all of us made Mikey Lowell disposable. Mind you, as much as I love the guy, watching him limp his way down to first base or display the range of your average wildebeest at third last year was painful to watch. That said, it's gonna be a little bit weird not to see him digging balls out at third while displaying the most awesome facial hair since "Sonny Crockett" patrolled the streets of Miami.

God Speed, Senor Doubles.

Fenway Park won't be the same without you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'm Josh Beckett. And You're Not.

With the Yankees trading for Curtis Granderson and the ongoing drama of the Jason Bay saga combined with Christmas coming just around the corner and the angst of Red Sox Nation over the possibility that Mike Lowell is bound for Texas or God knows where, I figured we all needed a gentle reminder.

A reminder that we've got a beer swilling, nail chewing, expletive spewing, 98 mph fastball throwing honest to God Texan as the ace of our staff.

And if you think he's not good and tanked off at how the season ended last year, then by God you don't know Josh Beckett.

If I know the Commander (and I don't, but bear with me) he's been lifting like a maniac and shooting men in Reno just to watch them die since the last game with the Angels in the post-season.

'Cause that's just how he rolls.

God help the poor first batter who has to step into the box in Spring Training.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Congratulations. You Made Another Birdie.

I've got a question.

When did the concept of marriage become a running joke and why can't men (not all of us, but a growing majority) just keep it in their pants?

I'm using Tiger because he's just the latest and most famous in an increasingly and disturbing long line of men who somehow decide it's OK to cheat on the woman you vowed to honor for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE and screw up the lives of your kids, who never asked to be here in the first place.

Now I realize I'm fundamentally lacking in the three areas most likely to lead to an affair; 1. I'm not rich. 2. I'm ugly. 3. I have no discernible talent other than the ability to recite lines from movies I saw 10 years ago seemingly at will.

But still. How can you look someone you supposedly love in the eye, swear a lifetime of devotion to that person, decide to bring innocent children into the mix, and then go out and chase anything with a pulse? When did being a man STOP meaning honoring your word and your commitment and evolve into chasing women, apparently as many as humanely possible?

And it's not just famous, rich dudes. I see it every day in my business; guys who own restaurants buying new living room suites for the 19 year old hostess or in the one instance a guy brings his wife in one week for a new bedroom suite and the very next week his girlfriend in for a new mattress.

What in the name of Ward Cleaver happened to "For better or worse" and "till death do us part?" Maybe I'm just some old fashioned romantic or maybe I just think that when you give your word you should, you know, keep it.

All I know is I don't have any idea how Tiger or the guy who came in my store or any other man can do that to his wife, then manage to look into the eyes of his kids and not feel like he's less than 2 feet tall.

When I die, if I'm lucky, the following will be on my tombstone.

"He loved his wife, loved his kids, and did the best he could everyday to prove it. And he may have been a tad bent when it came to the Red Sox."

If it happens, I'll go off to the great beyond a happy man.

Call me crazy but it sounds a lot better to me than "He could hit a golf ball like nobodies business."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another First

Tonight, at 7:42 EST, something monumental occurred.

Something that far exceeds Theo trading Nomar in 2004, more amazing than the Arizona Cardinals making the Super Bowl this past January, and bigger than Barry Bonds head after 5 years of Human Growth Hormone use.

Rakes lost his first tooth.

And another small part of me died.

They just keep getting bigger and older, no matter how hard I try and make it all stop.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bronchitis and strangers on Aisle 4

As I fumbled with Ang's grocery list while I hacked up what's left of my right lung, I was picking out, per her instructions, 6 packages of ground beef that was supposedly on sale. Mind you, I look at going to the grocery store about one level above the dentist, and that was before the idiot behind me had the nerve to say "Do I need to get in front of you to make sure there is some meat left for the rest of us?"

How did I arrive at this spot, on 2:50 this afternoon, contemplating hitting this dink upside the head with 1.3 pounds of red meat? We need to back up about a week.

Ever since last Saturday, I've felt like I just went 10 rounds with Brock Lesnar; aching, sore, chills, and a persistent cough that had me begging for death sometime around Thursday afternoon. Being a man, I came to the completely rational conclusion that it would just go away on it's own when it was good and ready and I'd just deal with it.

That particular way to address the problem came to an abrupt end at about 3 this morning when Ang woke me up by sticking her finger in my chest and telling me "You're snoring and that cough is about to drive me insane. You're going to the doctor tomorrow and don't you dare say no."

So I went, all the while convinced they were going to tell me I had a cold and there was nothing they could do and to drink plenty of fluids, blah blah blah and it's run it's course. I was almost pleasantly surprised when the nice Doctor lady told me I had bronchitis, which partly relieved me because in the back of my mind I've got visions in H1N1 rattling around inside my head.

In a surprising lack of good judgement, I'd agreed to run some errands and pick up a few things for Ang while I was out, which is how we come full circle to me, some ground beef, and a lady ,3 seconds away from getting a rib roast upside her head.

Summoning some force inside me I didn't know I had, I calmly turned and said "This is the last one. Although maybe you should have gotten here first."

Good will to all men, and peace on earth.

I hope she burns her stupid Christmas Turkey.

Can you tell I get a little irritable on antibiotics?

Out Sick

It's been 3 days since my last post, and no; it's not because my life has turned into Ward Cleavers all of a sudden.

I've been sick since last Saturday with some kind of flu/virus/bug that has me coughing like I smoke 3 packs of Camels a day combined with aches, chills, and enough congestion in my head to fill up an average size swimming pool.

After 5 days of listening to Ang yell at me about "Why won't you just go to the doctor" and me yell back with "They're just going to tell me it's got to run it's course" I've finally given in and plan to be at the walk in clinic when they open at 1 today.

Hopefully they can give me some medicine.

Hopefully I can be out of there before dark.

Hopefully I don't get the 3rd year med student working on her masters as my doctor.

I'm taking a book, my phone, and flask just in case.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Calm Before The Storm

Rakes got his progress report for the second nine weeks of Kindergarten today and for the most part he's doing pretty well. M's (Student has mastered concept. Back when I was in Kindergarten I'm pretty sure we got S's but I'm old so what do I know?) for things like Rhyme recognition, Syllable blending, Identifying numbers, and counting to 20. He's a pretty smart kid so I'm not shocked; proud, but not surprised.

However, when we get to the "Social Skills" area, he received the following.

(S= Satisfactory, N = Needs Improvement, and U= Unsatisfactory)

Completes Task given: N

Listens: N

Follows Directions: N

Like I need a progress report to tell me this? He's 6, a boy, and has never met a messy room, drawer, or bathroom he didn't love. Look, I understand the teacher needs an orderly classroom or otherwise she's got the Kindergarten version of Attica on her hands. But come on; name me one boy who isn't a future ballet dancer or the next Bill Gates who doesn't cut corners, hear what he wants to hear, and would rather walk backwards into a Hurricane than do what someone tells him to do?

Two days ago he comes home from school, takes off his clothes, and proudly shows his Grandmother the pajamas he slept in the night before that he wore UNDER his school clothes because he was too lazy to actually take them off that morning. Yeah, it was dumb but you gotta admire his initiative.

I'll be the first to admit this is all new to me; all I've had to go on up to now is a organized neat freak little girl who couldn't bear not making straight A's and did everything she could to stay out of trouble; personally? When it comes to Rakes I'm grateful for every day that doesn't end in a visit to the principle, suspension, or expulsion.

Besides, there is some small part of me that wants to shout "If you think HE'S bad, wait until you get a load of THIS one!"

(Notice the Middle finger. May God Have Mercy on Their Souls.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Too Much Free Time and I'm Toast

It's 10:30 pm on Wednesday night and I'm currently watching Steven Segal's "Reality Show" on A & E, instant messaging Jr on Facebook, and running 347 trade scenarios around in my feeble mind about how the Red Sox can 1. Land Roy Halladay 2. Somehow get Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres and 3. Justify switching Pedroia to SS, if only for the satisfaction of watching him trash talk Jeter at Spring Training 2011 about how he won the Gold Glove instead of him.

Hi. My name is Ted and I'm a basebalaholic.

Is there a 12 step program available for this yet?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Postscript to "A Visit from the Policeman"

Due to the fact I came down with some version of whooping cough late Saturday night, spend Sunday and half of Monday in bed, then ruined whatever progress I'd made in making a recovery by going out last night to the company Christmas party (Hey. Free food, no kids, and night out with Ang? Pretty sure I'd need a limb removed to stop me) I spent today alternating between hacking a lung up and apologizing to the customer I was currently infecting with the Swine Flu or whatever it is I've got.

However, last night at the party I learned a few more details about Rakes call to 911 on Saturday.

It came to my attention that in addition to Trot excitedly asking this poor man if HE could go to jail, the following conversation took place....

Trot: "Oooh. What is DAT?"

Cop: "My taser."

Trot: "OOOOOOH. Your TASER? Tan I hold your taser? What it do? Tan I shoot it?"

Cop: "Uh, no. You might hurt yourself."

Trot: "Oh. I might hurt myself? What is DAT?"

Cop: "My gun."

Trot: "OOOOOH. Your DUN? Tan I hold your dun? Pleeeeeease?"

Cop: (Nervously looking at Ang) "Uh, no son. It's dangerous."

Trot: "Why?" (I should interject here that Ang immediately deduced this man didn't have any children as he spent the next 5 minutes calmly trying to explain why Trot couldn't hold a deadly weapon, only to be greeted with "Why?" every 7 seconds.)

Somehow this poor man managed to convince Rakes that while it was serious business to dial 911 he would not be doing any jail time for it, keep his weapons away from Trot, make Ang feel better about the whole thing, and drive away before Trot planted himself in the back seat and wanted to make the siren go.

Again, it's these moments that make me truly grateful I work on Saturday.

Oh yeah; rumor is Theo may ask Pedie to play short stop this year.

Pedie. Short stop.

Sometimes the headline just writes itself.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

At least it's not a Wanted poster. Yet.

In the first of what I figure to be many visits, the police showed up on our front porch today.

Seems that sometime while I was at work and Ang was trying to get all the Christmas decorations hung, Rakes decided he'd call 911; Why? You got me.

Apparently once the phone actually rang he decided to hang up and when they called right back, didn't let anyone know the phone was, you know, ringing or anything.

Before you knew it, one of our finest local constables was standing on the front porch while Ang profusely apologized, Rakes cried his head off while screaming "Don't take me to jail!" and Trot kept asking this poor civil servant who I'm sure by this point was wondering why HE was the unit to answer this particular call, in the most excited voice possible "Are you donna take ME to jail?!"

It's days like this I'm glad I have to work on Saturday.

To top it all off? I just found out it's the 20th anniversary of "Christmas Vacation".

Great. Like I need ANOTHER reminder that I'm flipping old.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Some Ideas Are Better Left Unsaid



In one 58 second video we get a tackle into the net, followed by a kick to the marbles(Granted, I THINK he was going for the ball but I can't be sure) repeated kicks to the ball that cause said ball to bounce off Trot's face, and at least 3 meltdowns by Trot.

Tell me again why I caved and let Ang talk me into buying a trampoline?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tis the Season and All

It's Thanksgiving tomorrow, so following the spirit of the Holiday the following are just a few things this clueless Father of three is thankful for.

A job. In this economic chaos we all currently reside in, I'm grateful for employment in a job I enjoy and am halfway good at with people I genuinely like and care about.

The Boston Red Sox. In a game with the likes of the Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Baltimore Orioles, the fact the team I love WANTS to win and does everything it can to make it happen year after year is not something I think I'll ever take for granted.

Mt. Dew. As someone who ranks coffee about 1 step above Whale urine I can't say enough about that 12 ounce can with enough sugar and caffeine to bring down a charging Rhino on uppers.

My friends. Josh and Amy, Rob and Jane, Tex, Josh, Jr, Cyn, Kelly, Nan, Becks, Janine, Becky and Scott and everyone else that I didn't mention but you know who you are.

And one man who is no longer here, but I'll be forever grateful I got to know Andy Block and call him my friend.

But most of all?

I'm thankful for this beautiful woman and these 3 heathens.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Monday, November 23, 2009

They look normal enough.

You'd think we could go to the local McDonald's for lunch to celebrate Rakes birthday without damaging the hearing of an elderly woman, scare a 9 month old out of her mind, and avoid an incident that PROBABLY should have been reported as a health violation.

You'd think that. And you'd be wrong.

So I'd like to apologize to the perfectly nice grandmother who was there with her adorable little grand daughter for Rakes and Trot screaming like they were in the climatic scene of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" as they repeatedly ran by your table while I threatened bodily harm if they didn't shut it ASAP.

And to the mother of that precious little baby who didn't understand why Trot was screaming "GIVE ME BACK MY BATMAN!" at her child; I've told him a million times if you take a toy out in public you'd better hang onto it and not set it down. You have my deepest, heart-felt apologies.

And to anyone who uses the playground in the next few days, I did a thorough check of the premises before we left and I'm pretty sure nothing was harmed. But when Rakes came over and told me in the most nonchalant way possible that "Trot pooped his pants, Dad" and when I looked up to see my precious little boy duck walking his way across the playground I immediately thought of Dustin Hoffman in a bee keepers suit from "Outbreak" and totally panicked. So if I missed anything, you have my deepest apologies.

I think I'm gonna look into that whole "put a bubble around your house thing and never leave idea" I had a few years back.

I wonder if they need a good furniture salesman in Greenland?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

6 of the best years of my life.

He was supposed to have Down's Syndrome. At least according to the dink doctor who called us one Saturday afternoon demanding we get in ASAP to have an amniocentesis. When I informed this idiot that whether he did or didn't have it he was our son and we were having him I got a prolonged silence as a response.

Which makes it the only time since he's been conceived that Rakes and silent were used in the same sentence.

If you've read this blog you are fully aware that while Rakes has a lot of things, Down's isn't one of them.

During delivery the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck; didn't even slow him down. For the past 6 years he's provided more joy and more chaos and more noise than anything that small should ever be able to produce.

He's my first born son who lives his life at 95 mph and 1000 decibels every minute and every day and even though he'll kill me someday for posting a picture of him in a wife beater with a taco sauce stain on it during his birthday, I told him 100 times to go change and he ignored me every time.

Which is classic Rakes in a nutshell. One thing I'll never have to worry about is Rakes following the crowd. He's a proud member of the "Dance to the beat of my own drum" crowd and it's reason 5, 698 that I love the little guy.

Happy 6th Birthday tomorrow, Rakes.

I love you little man.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Rudolph may need a better agent.

Every year the small town I live in holds a Hanging of the Greens on the Friday before Thanksgiving, complete with a picture with Santa, Rudolph and Frosty roaming the main street and every teenager in a 5 mile radius clogging up the main thoroughfare.

Amid worrying about Jason Bay rejecting the Sox original offer of 4 years and $60 million and wondering why in the name of all that is holy did I let Ang talk me into getting Rakes a trampoline for his birthday (more on that at a later date) I found myself walking down the closed off street of my own personal Mayberry trying to keep Trot and Rakes from mowing down some unsuspecting passerby.

We saw Frosty (Rakes and Ciera jumped at the chance to see him while Trot burst into tears. Not sure why but I'm just grateful he didn't kick the poor guy in the gibleys before running off), Rudolph (for some reason a guy in a reindeer costume didn't frighten him while a guy in a snowman suit may cost me thousands in therapy fees) and managed to get a picture with Santa.

This ALMOST didn't happen as right before it was our turn, Trot went positively bonkers about "WHERE ARE THE REINDEER AND WHY CAN'T I PET THEM?" while Rakes did his best to diffuse the situation by reminding his brother that the reindeer were probably in the barn pooping and Ciera kept asking if she could go into the boutique store and browse while we were "just standing around". Meanwhile I'm wondering whether it'll be my heart or my mind that is eventually just going to say "Screw all this. I'm taking a vacation to parts unknown".

We made it through with no casualties, unless you're gonna count Trot running into Frosty's groin at full speed when we saw him 30 minutes later; in my opinion, dude brought in on himself for agreeing to wear that ridiculous thing in the first place.

Get ready.

"Tis the season.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just Trot being Trot.

I'd like to think that way back when the Pilgrims and the Indians sat down for the inaugural Thanksgiving feast there was a young child who spent the entire dinner talking incessantly, antagonizing his siblings, getting more food on the floor than in his mouth, and needing to be hosed down afterword.

That would REALLY help me mentally.

A LOT.

Wearing his camouflage pants, his light up Buzz Lightyear shoes, and a rebellious streak a mile long, Trot's pre-school had it's annual Thanksgiving program today where they sang songs, did a skit, and just looked cute in general.

Naturally, Trot didn't sing a word, turned around at one point with his back to the audience and put his hands on his ears (I'm guessing to show his displeasure with the actual singing but it could've just been his form of protest for not getting to be an Indian. With him, who knows?) and spent about 3 minutes furiously digging with his right pointer finger in his left nostril for every child, parent, grandparent, and disgusted onlooker to witness.

Me?

I was just happy he didn't drop trou at some point.

It's 50/50 at this point whether we're allowed to come back next year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

With Apologies to Bono, I need Baseball like a needle needs a vein.

I just spent the last 2 hours watching the movie "Alien Nation". James Caan is the grizzled, whiskey drinking cop and Mandy Patinkin (Idigo Montoya from the Princess Bride) as the goofy alien, and a plot straight out of Miami Vice.

And the answer is yes; I love this movie.

THIS is why I need baseball. Without it, I spend countless hours revisiting the 90's and all the bad movies, music, and tv shows that helped make me the total idiot I now resemble.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Forget 3 months. How am I gonna make 3 days?

*Image courtesy of www.fotosearch.com*

It's Tuesday November 17th. The boys are asleep, Ciera and Ang are downstairs watching something called "The Duggars" (I think it involves self-absorbed idiotic parents who decided to have an entire 52 man football team and thought it was a good idea to put on tv but I'm too scared to ask) and I'm lost.

Fenway Park sits cold and empty, the season is over, and it's around 3 months until the sound of a ball landing in a mitt is going to come from Florida. There isn't an NFL game until Thursday and I've got "NCIS: Los Angeles" on in the background, starring Chris O'Connell. Dude went from sharing the big screen with Al Freaking Pacino in "Scent of a Woman" to working a spin-off tv show with LL Cool J; 'course I sell furniture for a living so who am I to criticize?

All I know is if I didn't have a family to love over and try and keep out of reform school, I'm pretty sure I'd lose my sanity during the winter; I have no idea how my friends who are single actually make it to Spring without ending up on the evening news for completely losing it at the checkout line in Walmart.

Throw in the Hot Stove heating up and every liquored up yahoo from Massachusetts to Los Angeles is speculating on who the Sox are going to give up to acquire Adrian Gonzales, Roy Halladay, or the bat boy from Oakland and I've got a headache that a morphine drip couldn't touch.

It's times like these I remember that "fan" is short for "fanatic" and remind myself I'm not alone.

Wonder if Santa Clause keeps his eye on the free agent list?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Top 5 Sports Stories of the Day

1. My previously inept Redskins somehow manage to beat the Broncos. This ranks right up there with the Jets over the Colts in Super Bowl III, Taylor Swift over Kenny Chesney at the CMA's the other night, and me over Einstein in a battle of the wits. How does this sort of thing happen? Personally, I'm giving all credit to the voodoo dolls I had Trot make last night before he went to sleep.

2. Word coming out that Billy Wagner may consider returning to the Red Sox in a non-closer role. Nothing would make me happier than having his 98 mph, left handed throwing fastball sitting out in the bullpen come the 8th inning. Ranking only slightly behind that are his post-game interviews, complete with half a can of Skoal in his lower lip and him looking like he'd rather stuff the interviewer on his office wall than answer "So, Billy. How do you feel?"

3. The Hot Stove. Somewhere in a top secret location Theo is trying to figure out how to fleece the Padres for Adrian Gonzalez, what exactly Jason Bay is worth, and is it possible to get a Short Stop made of titanium, solid steel, and impervious to injury and the dreaded throw into the 5th row behind first.

4. Is it remotely possible that a meteor can hit the Yankees spring training site in February and while not causing any deaths, still create an atmosphere of chaos and mayhem that will last the entire 2010 season?

5. If everything plays out I could be 6-4 and sitting in fourth place in my fantasy football league come tomorrow morning. You could go to Mars and find some wet behind the ears alien baby and it would still be better in Fantasy Football than me, so when I tell you this is big you're just gonna have to trust me. In fact, this is entering the Rocky beating Apollo, The Bad News Bears beating the Yankees, and the Red Sox coming back from three games down in '04 territory. Years from now, songs may be sung about this very era.

More than likely I'll end up on the outside looking in and wondering what if but it's still pretty flipping nice.

When is Truck Day again?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Missing You

Is it April yet?

Friday, November 13, 2009

I Feel The Need. The Need.... For Speed

My co-worker John let me borrow his PS2 game, "The Need For Speed. Underground 2" today.

I should have known when I called Rakes when he got home from school to tell him, and got this for a reaction it was gonna get hairy.

"REALLY? Are you bringing it home TONIGHT?!"

So the 10 minute running commentary once we started playing the game while Ang took Ciera to her sleepover shouldn't have caught me sideways; but it did.

I'm in the middle of the sofa with Rakes on my right and Trot on my left; Rakes and I have controls that are actually hooked up to the system while Trot is holding one that isn't hooked up to anything, yet he's hollering and yelling at the top of his lungs "WHERE IS MY BLUE CAR?" while Rakes is screaming at me because his car is stuck against the retaining wall and he can't figure out how to go in reverse, all the while I'm sitting there trying to read the manual and not go deaf or lose my cool dealing with these raging maniacs next to me.

Topping it all off is the fact both of them just got done eating Wendy's and an ice pop while sucking down Apple Juice and are tweaking more than any meth addict I've seen on "Intervention" and I'm seriously debating whether I should just go lock myself in the bedroom until Angie gets home.

Imagine my surprise when I give Trot the working controller, and except for a few times where he gets turned around and goes the wrong way he actually does better against Rakes than I did.

All this has only made me more determined to get involved in the political process and try and get the "No Drivers License Before Turning 18 Law" passed in the next 10 years.

I could really use a hug right about now.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Trot and Miss Raina

When Ang decided to go back to work this fall, the biggest question in our minds was what would we do with Trot. Ciera would be in Middle School, Rakes would be starting Kindergarten and beginning his long career of driving teachers and school administrators up a tree and Trot would continue on in pre-school 3 days a week.

We didn't want to put him in day care and figured there was no way we could convince anyone who was legally sane to watch him the rest of the time; I've got him on Mondays, my Mom watches him on Friday, so that left Tuesday through Thursday up in the air. I called the local kennels and was informed they DID NOT accept 2 legged animals, no matter how hard I tried to convince them otherwise and we even checked with the local McDonalds to see if they needed any extra help in the afternoons. Something about child labor laws and threatening phone calls to DSS made us switch course.

Enter our next door neighbor, Raina. Raina is the sweetest woman you'd ever meet, who lives with her daughter, son-in-law and Granddaughter, and because she doesn't drive is always at home. She also LOVES Trot, Trot loves her, and she readily agreed to watch him on those three days until Angie gets home from work.

I should mention that Raina is from the Dominican Republic and speaks Spanish half the time; which is why I came home tonight to find Trot sitting on the couch going "Miniminiminiminimini" over and over again. When I asked him what in the world he was talking about?

He said, and I quote: "Me talking like Miss Raina, Dad!"

I'm pretty sure we're violating some Politically Correct something or 'nother, but it cracked me up all the same. And knowing Trot, Raina is inadvertently teaching him some epic curse words in Spanish just by watching him everyday.

Which is sort of making me jealous. I've gotta mutter mine under my breath while she can just blurt hers out without fear of reprisal.

Is it Spring Training yet?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Milestone. Or another sign I've got 1 foot in the grave.

Word by word, a replay of my most recent text conversation with Jr. (Jr is my buddy Rich, who is 23, calls me Sir, and talks faster than a guy running an auction with a deadline to get it all done in 5 1/2 minutes)

Rich: "Boras will not settle for three." (In full disclosure, I had no idea at first what he was talking about. Rich is what Rakes is going to turn into someday. And yes; that scares the crap out of me.)

Rich: "Still not signed, Sir." (See? One day he'll be old and even though I'll be older and may not recognize him, I'm still planning to make fun of him for being old.)

Me: "It'll get done, Jr." (Note the confidence of the wiser, older person in this conversation.)

Rich: "He signed it." (He couldn't see it, but I was doing the "I told you so dance" when I read this.)

Me: "Told you so. I'll expect your apology on my desk in the morning." (Not really since A, I don't actually have a desk and B, Jr is probably still trying to figure out a way to wiggle out of this.)

So while I may have jumped the gun a few days ago, it's now official; Tek is back for one more year and I can count on roughly 30 calls next season from Rich about how Tek as the back up catcher is either killing us or the best move Theo made since signing David Ortiz. It could go either way.

Finally, yesterdays post was my 1,000th. When I started this thing, it was more of a lark that evolved into some demented form of therapy that allowed me to communicate with some friends I knew, some more I made along the way, and the occasional random dink dropping his/her two cents in.

If you've been here since the beginning (Tex, I'm looking at you) or just stumbled in sometime completely at random I appreciate you reading and if you've ever commented? Thanks for your interest and seek help immediately.

Here's to the next 1,000.

And thanks the these guys?

I'll never run out of subject material.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time Keeps on Slipping, Slipping, Slipping into the Future

He's turning 6 in a few weeks and he's caused me to age 4 years for every year he's been alive.

I love all my children equally, but Rakes is the one that both pulls at my heart and wishes I had a bottle of Absolut on standby at all times; he's 2 feet nothing, almost 40 pounds, and is as much of a force of nature as someone his size can be.

With a built-in megaphone and a voice that sounds like Lucille Ball after she's burned a Lucky Strike he's sort of like a tornado; you hear him before you actually see him. He's probably ADD or DSS or MTV or whatever the current thing is, makes Taz from Looney Tunes look like he's on Lithium, and the only time he's still is when he's sleeping. And even then he's twitching and twisting and burning energy at a level where you can put your hand an inch away from his body in the dead of winter and feel the heat coming off him.

Today we went on a field trip to the Lazy 5 Ranch, which is a huge drive through sort of zoo about an hour and a half from home; he jumped around, talked until I was fairly certain his tongue was gonna fall out and I set the World Record for saying "Rakes, sit down" in a 75 minute period.

But just like he always does, when I'm JUST about ready to sign the papers to ship him off to military school, he goes and breaks my heart and makes me realize that one day he'll be grown and gone and all I'm gonna have left are the memories that somehow I manage to retain and photo's like this one.


He's 6 going on 26 and I'm trying like crazy to make it all just slow flipping down.

Monday, November 9, 2009

One More Time Around The Dance Floor

*Image courtesy of Kelly O and www.sittingstill.net*

Looks like The Captain is going to be tripping the light fandango for one more year. Today it came out that Tek is picking up his player option for $3 million next year on the same day the Sox declined their $5 million one.

Now, just because they declined it didn't mean they didn't want him back; it just means they weren't willing to pay him that much to back up V Mart, spit Copenhagen in the dugout, and be Josh Beckett's personal catcher. 'Cause how else do you explain them letting him have the $3 million option in the first place?

Look, I realize the guy isn't the second coming of Pudge Fisk; what he IS though still should count for something. A leader, a consummate pro, a guy who knows more about catching and calling a game in his pinkie finger than most guys playing the position know combined.

He's won 2 World Championships, caught 4 no hitters, and he punked Slappy out in 2004. That ALONE makes him worth $3 million.

Yes he's not what he once was. But just like Toby Keith said, he's as good once as he ever was. And as far as backup catchers go, who'd you rather have? Greg Zaun? Benji Molina? Benito Flipping Santiago?

Besides, if Josh Beckett thinks having Tek behind the plate means the difference between him being average or the scowling, cursing, spitting strike out machine he's capable of being?

Who am I to argue?

PS: I told you so, Jr. Now quit arguing with your elders.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I've got a new take on "Sunday at the Park"

It was a Chamber of Commerce Fall day in North Carolina, so after church I took Huey, Dewey, and Louie to the park. 5 minutes in, Ciera was complaining she didn't have anyone to play with, was bored, and asking if she could call her Mom to come get her.

After I spent several wasted breaths reminding her she WANTED to come and that I gave her ample opportunities to stay home and she STILL decided to come I gave up arguing, took out my phone, and took her picture.

3 minutes later she ran off to play with one of her friends from school who showed up with HER little brothers and 2 hours later she was arguing with me about having to go home.

I learned something from this discussion today.

The next 6 years are going to drive me straight to the nearest shrink I can find.

And in one of those "This could only happen to Rakes" moments?


His buddy from school showed up with two lightsabers to go between him, Rakes, and Trot.

If they paid me for saying "You just be a Storm Trooper and shoot him" I could have retired at 2:30 this afternoon.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Week in Pictures

Monday started off with a year-end Soccer party for Rakes, a picture with coach Wendell, and Ciera and Rakes having a bang up time with the car racing games at the restaurant that night.

On Tuesday, Chase Utley tied the original jackass Reggie Jackson for the most Home Runs in a World Series with 5 and at the same time gave millions of us Yankee hating, upright walking, plus 70 IQ having humans hope that maybe, JUST maybe, the Phillies could pull off a miracle.

Much like a Chuck Norris kick to the marbles however, the best team money could buy finished off the Fightin' Phills in 6 games on Wednesday and celebrated with the richest dog pile in history. One can only hope that somewhere in the bottom of this celebration ARod was impaled with a cleat upon his money maker, ensuring the family line of blue lipped egomaniacs died on the pitchers mound at Yankee Stadium.

Thursday brought us a huge wake up call that baseball is really just a diversion from real life. 13 lives were lost at Ft. Hood, Texas in a senseless tragedy. I gave up trying to make sense of this kind of stuff a long time ago; all I know is this. The men and women who serve this great country by way of the military shouldn't have to worry about dying at the hands of a gun at home. Hopefully the powers that be will learn from this horrific incident and try to figure out a way to protect some of the last real hero's we have left.

Thankfully Friday returned us the land of the sublime when the Yankees had their victory parade, millions of unemployed Mensa graduates lined the streets of Manhattan, and the team with the biggest payroll in the HISTORY of sports was celebrated as a vaunted underdog. Don King had it right; Only in America.

Saturday consisted of me shucking and jiving my way through another day of sales while Ange and the kids travelled to my niece Hannah's 1st birthday. I'm happy to report nobody ended up in the hospital, Hannah destroyed her birthday cake, and Rakes somehow managed to not set the house on fire.

Finally, as the day drew to a close and the house settled down, I set about reading the boys their bedtime books. Rakes, although fading fast, managed to stay awake until the end.

Trot was an entirely different story.

In 15 years he'll be able to drive, vote, and join the Army.

God help us all.