How Was Your Sundae?

Having just written about ice cream…

Sunday was National Ice Cream Day.  Yes, it’s a thing.  But considering there’s a “holiday” called National Stop Female Genital Mutilation Day, I think I’d take Ice Cream Day anytime.  So, enjoy.  We did…

Sharing Milestones (and Memories) With Your Kids

Well friends, last Friday my car went from this

to this

Before you say anything else, you snarky snark, yes, it really was 103 degrees.  This is Texas.  It’s July.  Fortunately, it was only the second or third such triple-digit day this summer.

But, as you can see, the odometer in our rockin’ Town & Country gently rolled from 99,999 to 100,000.  Do you know how freakin’ excited I was?  Shut your mouth.  I know it’s just an odometer.  It’s just a car.  I get that.  Here’s the deal.

My dad is a numbers guy.  As a kid I wondered what to say to friends when they’d ask what my dad did for a living.  Usually I’d just say “He’s an actuary” sort of under my breath and hope they’d let it go.  Was I embarrassed?  Hell no.  He’s a genius and that career provided a very decent living for my mom and the sixteen of us kids.  Good Lord, do I have to explain everything to you?  Yes, it’s a big family.  Another story for another day.  My point is that I simply did not know what an actuary was.  Oh I had asked him.  He’s got the most amazing sense of humor.  It’s not only a dad thing (which I’ve discovered in myself) but just his incredible mind operating with such wit and speed that half the time the recipient of his humor (which was sometimes ribald) was left with a keen feeling of bewilderment.  What he’d say would definitely make you laugh very hard.  At the same time, your own brain would still be processing the content for a while AND wondering how he’d come up with it so fast.

“Dad, what’s an actuary again?”

“Well son, it’s a place where they bury dead actors.”

That was always one of my favorites.  How about this one?

“Well m’lad [yes, he’d call me that sometimes] an actuary is the man who brings a bomb on a plane because while the chances of their being one bomb are small, the chances of their being two bombs are infinitesimal.”

Statistics.  He could have just freakin’ said, he worked with statistics.  Truth is, an actuary is a fellow (or lady) who uses statistics to figure contingency tables.  In other words, they look at data to determine useful information about different groups of people.  This kind of information might include, say, the life expectancy of Latino males who smoke cigarettes and drive red cars.  Who’d want that kind of info?  Insurance companies, anyone managing a pension fund. If I’m going to put aside money on your behalf for your retirement it might help to know how long you’re going to live, now wouldn’t it?

So factor into all this brilliance AND love of numbers the fact that the man finds certain things “neat”.  When I was about 10 and he and I had just returned from a trip to visit my sister in another part of the state he glanced at the odometer in his old Buick.  “Hmm…  99,998.7.  How far up the street do you think we’ll have to go to get it back here with exactly 100,000 miles on it, son?” he asked me.  OK, 1) I was shocked he was asking my input.  I didn’t think I was in his math league and 2) I  quickly thought it over and replied: “I don’t know Dad.  How about we go three blocks up and back?”  You see, I knew the approximate distance given the length of city blocks in Newark, NJ and knew that I’d have to halve it in order to pull back to the driveway at exactly the right point.

He disagreed.  Thought it would be shorter.  To the surprise of both of us, I was right.  As we turned into the driveway at home he shut off the engine and declared “There you go!  I know own a ten year old car with exactly 0 miles on it.”  Those old odometers didn’t include a sixth digit place so it literally rolled over back to 0.

This is the BEST ice cream parlor on earth.

This is the BEST ice cream parlor on earth.

Here’s the best part.  To celebrate – I know?  Who knew this was a cause for celebration? – he turned the car right back on and drove us to Holstein’s Ice Cream Parlor where my father treated me to a Duster Sundae.  Never had one?  Holstein’s is where the final scene in the Soprano’s was filmed, by the way.  It’s a big ice cream sundae in a tall pewter dish covered in malt powder.  And it’s Goooood.  And if you know my dad, you know exactly how he said that word good.

So as I drove my wife and kids in our bathing suits to the pool on that disgustingly hot day last week I kept my eye on my own odometer.  “Two miles, kids!” I shouted.  They didn’t seem to care.  I had to explain the whole thing to them at the next red light.  “One mile!  Daddy is so excited!!!”

And then…  the odometer rolled over.

Following in the old man’s footsteps I quickly turned into the drive-thru of the next Chic-fil-a and we all got shakes.

I love thinking back on things like that day with my dad.  Oh he’s still with us.  Almost 80 years-old now.  Being his youngest son I guess I was privileged to spend more moments like that with him than some of my brothers.  And having only two of my own (thanks, infertility) I know that I MUST share these moments with them and make every moment special.  Fortunately he wrote a pretty good blueprint.

As for the dad humor?  Let’s just say I’ve discovered that something strange happens in the act of conception.  I believe that upon reaching the target, the male gamete then sends a signal to the new father’s brain that triggers an unalterable change in his own humor receptors.  Basically, when you become a dad your sense of humor goes haywire and you can’t help yourself.  I still eke out some really good jokes but these days, most of my one-liners end in a chorus of groans.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks Dad.

Economics 101: What I’m Teaching My Kids About Money (And What They’re Teaching Me)

So last night, this happened…

Last night was a peaceful evening in our home.  I had mowed the lawn and helped my brother-in-law set some fence posts at his house.  At my home, my wife and I had straightened up from the usual kids-home-for-summer mess that seems simply to take over during July.  I was sitting at my piano, playing Prokofiev (because I can and because it adds to the serenity).  My wife was watching a movie.  Our kids were playing in their bedroom.  I was shirtless.  More on that later.

Just like that, the peace was disturbed.  My precious daughter, all of five years-old, came tearing out of her bedroom in tears.  My seven year-old son followed quickly.  My first tendency was to ask “Son, what did you do?”  To my surprise, however, he had done nothing and she, usually a bit of a dramatist, was crying real tears.  She was genuinely heartbroken.

“What happened, baby?” I said with all the tenderness a father can muster for his little girl.  By the way, she was clad in a Cinderella costume and plastic “glass” slippers.  Through her sobs she revealed that she had dropped her piggy bank and it shattered.  I looked her square in the eye and broke the cold hard truth to her.

“Angel, don’t be too sad.  Obama was just going to take it all anyway.”

She looked up at me and cried harder and louder.  I sent her to Mommy while I went in to assess the damage.

So, all those times that I have loose change in my pockets and I dump a fistful of coins onto my dresser at night before getting into bed?  Those times when I look at the accumulating silver and copper and think “What the heck.  Let me just drop this 83₵ into the kids’ piggy banks.  It’s just change…”  Yeah, those times.  On the floor of my children’s bedroom I stumbled upon a picture that looked like these two had knocked over Fort Knox rather than breaking a piggy bank.

“Sweetheart?” I called.  “Scratch that, Honey?” I said, calling to my wife.  “Did you know how much loot these two have?”  No answer.  So I walked across the house to where she was sitting.  “Did you know they’ve got serious money in there?”  She looked at me and then reminded me that a friend of ours who used to visit from Paris would drop Euro coins and bills into the banks.  “No, babe, these are American coins and bills too.”  “Heh,” she said and returned to her movie.

By now I was wondering what happened to the Prokofiev and you’re probably wondering what happened to my shirt.  OK, the music I can return to any time.  The shirt?  I told you I’d been mowing.  It’s Texas.  It’s 4 million degrees.  I sweat a lot.  Oh, and I had been working out.  Bottom line, I did NOT think I’d be stopping down to pick up shards of broken ceramics off a carpeted floor.

Being the dutiful daddy, I swept into my daughter’s room, broom in hand.  Did you like that?  Swept.  Broom.  Get it?  Whatever.  Crouched on the floor, dripping in sweat, my sinewy muscles rippling – wait, wrong story.  I got down and realized a few more things about this situation.  So I already got that my kids have more money than me.  I’m Catholic so I accept that some things are just a mystery and that’s OK.  But I also noticed that broken ceramics hurt.  When I was all through sorting cash from glass I stood up, knees bruised and bleeding, muscle still rippling (had to through that in there since it is my blog) and I wondered: Who gave this gigantic torture instrument to my child? And how’d I get broken glass in my left nipple? Turns out it was my wife’s friend Jean and she gave it to us before my daughter was even born.  No wonder my little girl was so sad.  That and the fact that it was a huge, hot pink pig wearing a crown and sash ala a beauty contest.

Then I wondered to myself if there was a recovery fee I could legitimately charge my daughter.  Surely there was enough in here for a pack of smokes or a bottle of gin.  It’s not like I didn’t “invest” in this stash anyway.  But I’m a good day (or at least I try to be) and so I left all of her assets in a large Tupperware container on her dresser.

Here’s what I learned in all of this.

  • The global distribution of money is not fair.
  • Broken ceramics hurt and cut and, quite possibly, kill.
  • Prokofiev is deceptively difficult to play.
  • I need to keep my shirt on.

Oh, one more thing I learned is that my daughter thinks I really am a superhero. When she saw me throwing the bag with the broken bank fragments away, she looked up and said “Wait, Daddy?  Aren’t you going to put it back together for me?”  Anyone know where they sell a boatload of Crazy Glue?

Miss Me?

Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Sue me.

OK, don’t sue me.  You’d be sorely disappointed.

Although there are a million reasons why I stopped posting for a while; I’ll name just a few.

  1. Vacation

OK, that’s about it.

Oh, and there was this little guy right here.

Old school Macbook users might recognize this.  It’s the power cord as it connects to the laptop.  While I was on the initial leg of my summer vacation, the magnetic tip-end of the cord snapped off.  I found a replacement online.  It arrived and it, too, promptly broke.  Several weeks (and some more travel, both personal and work-related) passed and here I am.  I’m hopeful that if I just don’t move the laptop off of the desk where it currently sits, the cord will not break again.  Fortunately, when September rolls around I might have the funds necessary to purchase my first new-ish Macbook in six years.  Speaking of finances, you’ll love my next post.

Catholic Priest threatens Mum of 3 with legal action, because she told him off for saying that the Holy Spirit is female., and then he lies on Twitter about her!

Harvey Millican:

Prayers for this woman, a fellow blogger and Catholic parent.

Originally posted on Faith in our Families:

Fr-Dan-Fitzpatrick Fr. Dan Fitzpatrick

This is not a spoof post. This actually happened.

So my in previous article I wrote about how Fr James Martin SJ and Fr. Dan Fitzpatrick had been tweeting about how the Holy Spirit was female:

Father james martin

dan fitz

And how both of them had been sharing posts saying that ‘Ireland is for gay marriage because it is Catholic’.

Fr. Dan 1

And I gave them both a jolly good clip round the ear about openly contradicting the teachings of the Catholic church. Well, this morning I got a message from Fr Dan threatening me with legal action because I was ‘defaming his character’.

Fr dan legal 1

I messaged him back saying:

“Would you like to tell me the 2 statements that cause you upset? I would be happy to rephrase anything that is not correct.”

He messaged back with:

Fr dan legal 2

Edited out some of the abusive comments??! I did nothing of the sort! The truth is…

View original 627 more words

Wilma Learns to Dance

Regular readers know about my mother-in-law Wilma and the crazy situations she finds herself in.  It’s kind of like watching an episode of I Love Lucy where she and I invariably end up playing Lucy and Ethel.

Take a gander at the picture below…  See if you can figure this one out.


Is it 1988?

So here goes my legitimate attempt at an explanation.

Wilma is going to be part of a flashmob.  Owing to the fact that I cannot think of those words without falling into a fit of uncontrollable laughter I should probably leave it at that.

My Son the Garbage Man

One evening a few nights ago the four of us were straightening up around the house before dinner.  My wife had just come home from the store, I had just loaded the dishwasher.  Our kids were, well, they were being kids.

My precious daughter was practicing gymnastics.  Taking a running leap at the ottoman in our living room, she flipped herself right over the top of it and landed with perfect precision.  On the dog.  Neither party was harmed.

My son was watching TV.  Or building something out of Legos.  I think he was doing both.  Yes, he was building something out of Legos that he saw on TV.

Realizing that God gave us children in order to make our lives easier to glorify Him I thought “Hmm..  How can we continue to shape these two angels into the young man and young woman they were called to be?”

It was time to assign a chore.

This wasn’t too hard with my little girl.  “Sweetheart?  Can you come help Daddy by feeding the dog?”  This merited the response “Feed him to who?”  “It’s to whom, cupcake, and I meant give him some food.”  Strangely, the same terrier who had just received the full weight of my daughter because he had foolishly lain on the ground where her mock balancing beam was, now eagerly and with tail wagging followed her into the pantry.

“Son? do you think you could give me a hand taking out the trash?”  My son looked up from his Legos and said “No”.

I looked back and said “Excuse me?”

The thing about my son is that I have long since known he is very honest.  It’s not that he’s trying to be disrespectful or shirk his responsibilities.  It’s simply that I need to wait the three seconds for him to formulate the reason why he won’t help at this particular juncture.  And that reason made sense.  He was in the middle of a particularly difficult Lego connection and stopping right this instant might cause him to drop the pieces to the floor where the dog would then eat them (owing to his hunger because our daughter had not yet fed him), and then the dog would die.  So sayeth my son in his explanation.

The other thing I know about my son is that he will always come around to doing what is right.  He may say no at first and protest but, when reminded of the primacy of obedience to his parents, he will always do what he is told.  He’s a good boy.

With that in mind, I allowed him the two minutes to finish his task.  He, in turn, came and took the already tied up bag of trash from me.  “Careful son, it’s heavy,” I said.  “I’ve got it, Daddy,” he replied.  “Now just take this and put it in the can in the garage,” I told him.  He must have still been thinking about the Legos…

A minute later I looked at front and noticed that my son the garbage man had taken the bag all the way to the curb.  Well, we’ll work on following precise instructions but I was still impressed that he got it all the way out front.


Too bad trash day is a few days off.