Friday, April 20, 2007

I’m Here… But Not Really!

Thanks to all my “friends” who have been wondering where I’ve been. For a guy who posted daily… sometimes 2-3 times a day to nothing in over a month… it might appear just a little odd… Hmmmmm…

But you guys came through – you didn’t forget about dear ‘ole Long Island Dad. You all emailed me at least twice to stay updated. And, for those of you who didn’t here’s the update on my disappearance into a black hole.

As you probably remember reading, I had volunteered to do “some” work for the Long Island 2 Day Walk To Fight Breast Cancer. Well after some minor administrative work I was given a little more to do… and then even more than that. After a while I was asked to be on the Planning Committee for this wonderful organization. If you visit, http://www.li2day.org/whoweare.asp, you’ll see Long Island Dad’s name listed.

How do you say no to an organization whose sole purpose is a “grass roots” effort to help people? You don’t. Not when you have the time and the desire. So what started as an hour or so a day has now snow balled into an almost full-time gig, as the Walk is in June. I’m doing most of their website updating, a lot of graphic design work, merchandise coordination and about eleven other things…

The people I’ve met and interacted with have been some of the most dedicated, extraordinary people I have ever met in my life. Selfless to the core -- an inspiration to say the least… makes me get up everyday and “go to work!”

What makes this effort different from any other, including the big name national ones you always hear about, is this organization is a 1,000 member, strictly volunteer based, Walk, that gives 100% not 99.9% -- 100% of the donations raised to local coalitions, local research and it’s own scholarship fund. All the administrative and walk expenses are covered by the generous sponsors – from large national ones, like Toyota, UPS, and Southwest Airlines to small local bagel stores and everything in between. I’ve learned that in the non-profit world if you want to raise $300,000 it actually costs $300,000… that’s the reality. If it weren’t for volunteers, sponsors, in-kind donations none of this would happen.

This organization makes it possible for people who have no transportation to their treatments to get there… those who have no one to watch their children – babysitting… those too sick to take care of their homes – cleaning services… those who have children that can’t go to college because of medical expenses – a scholarship fund… those who can’t pay for treatment – medical expense assistance… those who don’t know where to turn – places that welcome them and support them 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This is the difference… real people getting real help when they need it most. Not arbitrary funds that go to “find a cure!” Real people, real stories, real effects!

Now… for what you’ve been waiting for… the update on the Helper and the Baby… THEY’RE GREAT!!!! Well, relatively speaking that is – it’s been cold here so outdoor activities have been limited and the Helper has literally been bouncing (like Tigger) off the walls. But now the weather seems to have broken and my sanity will return incrementally with the temperature increase. The Helper wants to ride bikes today – I got a trailer attachment for my bike to take the Baby so that’s what we’re doing this afternoon. Oh, and gone are the days of the Baby’s long naps as he now 7 months old… and his brother can’t be quiet to save his life…

So how do I get all my “work” done and take care of the little people AND maintain the house… I’m that good… and sleep is for wimps!!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Arts & Leisure

This Saturday night, March 10th, 2007, Long Island Dad and The Mommy will be attending an “Art Evolution.” While I’m by no means an art aficionado, I know what I like and I know great pieces when I see them...

Artist/Designer Brian Kirhagis uses his unparalleled talent to create unbelievable interpretations of life and experiences. For an example of what I’m talking about please visit his personal site at www.brikart.net and click on the "Originals" link at the top of the page.

Brian is also the head designer and president of BrikWork, Inc., a full service design, video, web and graphics company. He and his team bring a unique perspective to this field. Whether you’re in the market for a new company logo, fresh looks for your website or some video work please visit Brian’s company at www.brikwork.net.

I hope you have the chance to visit his “Evolution” next week.

Please click on the flyer below to enlarge it for details, or visit www.brikart.net for more information.


Where ‘Ya Been?

Recently, some of you may have noticed a decline in posting frequency here at Long Island Dad. This is due to some added responsibilities taken on by yours truly. I have been asked by the Executive Director of the Long Island 2 Day Walk to Fight Breast Cancer to help out with some administrative computer work.



Needless to say, this is an honor. While I can’t participate in the walk itself (someone has to watch the kiddies), this is how I can help. I’m home anyway. I will help this great cause in any way I can. So some of my precious “alone, undisturbed computer time” has had to be redirected.

This, combined with, some craziness of schedules here at the ranch has caused a down tick in postings.

As I’ve always said, one of the best ways to teach our children charity and compassion is through example. While we continue to instill a sense of drive for success in our children, this must always be paired with a sense to help others. In building character; the two go hand in hand.

I’ve always tried to “do my part.” My children see this and hopefully will mimic these actions as they enter their adult lives.

My wife and I have very little time to devote to worthy causes so we chose "our" causes very carefully. The Long Island 2 Day Walk to Fight Breast Cancer is a cause we’ve been 100% committed to since its inception. Long Island has one of the highest incidents of breast cancer in the country. 100% of the proceeds from this walk stay right here on Long Island to help fellow Islander’s afflicted with this terrible disease. This particular walk has little to no overhead because of many generous local sponsors – this ensures the maximum amount raised go directly to those who need it most. Nobody involved with this walk takes any compensation. This makes it different from most other fund raisers around the country.

Unfortunately, being a Long Islander this disease has affected our family too. We fight on behalf of those who can no longer fight!

Thanks for understanding.

Long Island Dad will continue to post as frequently as I can. The Helper’s not going anywhere and I’m sure he’ll be up to something shortly.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

I'm A Bad Guy!

“Daddy, I’m a BAD GUY!”

“What!”

“Yeah, I’m a bad guy. Can you make me a ‘bad guy’ hat?”

[Referring to a sort of ‘skull cap’ we make him with his favorite blankie.]

“You’re not a bad guy; you’re a good guy, honey.”

“Nah, I’m a bad guy.”

“Are Mommy and Nannie bad guys, too?” [Just fishing here folks...]

“No they’re good guys!”

“What about me?”

“You’re Daddy.” [Hmmmm...]

After about ten minutes, and after the ‘hat’ fell off…

“Are you still a bad guy?”

“Nope.”

Ahhhh... institutional reform really does work. Just goes to prove, if you lock’em up long enough with no hope of ever seeing the outside world, anybody can be reformed.

Have I said lately, I can’t wait for Spring!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Coincidence?

The post “What The…?” provided a light hearted look at cell phones and their place in our society. This morning it was brought to my attention, by Multi-Tasking Mommy of Circle of Life, that The Mom Blogs topic this week is cell phones. Some might recall that a little while back, I posted an article on cell phones and children. I thought that it might be time to re-post that link:

Cell Phones: A Parent’s Dilemma or Dream?


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What The...?

(Editor's Note: The following events actually took place on Tuesday, even though this is Wednesday What Nots... we're too late for Tuesday's Truth... slept through it, oh well.)

I ventured out into the “real” world this morning… all by myself… like a big boy!

I was on my way to my wonderful dentist to have a tooth fixed. Stop laughing, Jess!

I broke a tooth on Sunday, eating a Dorito.

And, you’re right Augs… it’s not the years, it’s the mileage!

As a man “matures” things start to fall off, break apart and shrivel up; its nature’s cruel joke, returning us to dust before our time.

Anyway, I was listening to my favorite classic rock station, (anyone born in the sixties doesn’t know a Akon from a Eminem) when the morning traffic report came on:

“Avoid the westbound Sunrise Highway, seems there’s a ‘Car-B-Que’ over there.”

A “Car-B-Que?”

I have to admit, after years of losing a few billion brain cells, it took me a minute to comprehend… the little people have taken their toll…

Then… it hit me!

OMG! That’s funny! Call TBS!

I felt a little bad laughing out loud, and it’ll probably come back to bite me... but c’mon… Car-B-Que.

Though, probably not as funny for the owner of the spontaneously combusting vehicle.

So I was in a relatively good mood when I arrived at the Dentist’s office. I was the first appointment of the day… I love that! No waiting… come right in!

But as I walked through the door of no return (you know the one) I noticed a sign:

What the...

My cell phone can flummox the machinery?

I know it can bring down planes during take offs and landings, and blow you to smithereens while pumping gas, but now they can blow up x-ray machines?

What kind of power do these little modern marvels possess?

If they have this kind of power while just being switched on, what happens when I actually place or receive a call? Nuclear Armageddon? Total elimination of all life on earth?

Al Gore was wrong... I know who really caused Global Warming... Motorola!

That’s it, the phone stays off unless I need it for a 911 call, or a shopping list text message… both matters of life and death.

As I’ve said before, I love my dentist. She’s the “Bomb!” (That’s for Augs and DraMa) Originally, she explained I might need a root canal, but she would do everything in her power to save the tooth. It ended up the damage was less severe than originally anticipated. I listened to her “big sister” speech on how I needed to return for a follow-up. She actually followed me to the appointment desk to make sure I booked the appointment. She’s a great dentist, but, boy she’s tough.

Quick side note:
*BIG CLAP HANDS* for spouses who provide a good living, as w
ell as, full dental coverage!

I returned home and napped my numbness away for the better part of the afternoon. This gave the Mommy some “quality” time alone with her sons… and me some “quality” time alone with my pillows – everyone was happy.

Then it was time for dinner. I needed to venture out again, into the dark cold night to pick up a prescription. I thought this would be a perfect excuse to pick up some MickeyD’s.

After a stop at the drug store I went over to the “Golden Arches” for some sustenance.

Hey, my dentist told me to "baby" my tooth for a couple of days… cheeseburgers are soft!

Besides, how much longer do I have left until my doctor puts me on a strict diet of fat-free cottage cheese and rice cakes?

I was on line at the drive-thru when I noticed another sign:

What the...

Now this is really starting to freak me out, Man!

Seems it “interferes” with the radio transmitters.

So I guess instead of getting a Big Mac I might end up with a Chalupa! And, at the same time extinguish all life within a 3 mile radius!

I refrained from any cellular communication while navigating the fifty feet of “radio free” driveway!

All this got me thinking of the 1970 song, “Signs,”

Sign Sign Everywhere a Sign

Blockin’ out the scenary breakin’ my mind

Do this, Don’t do that, Can’t you read the sign.

Its message is as appropriate today as it was thirty-seven years ago… only the players have changed!

Monday, February 26, 2007

In Case You Were Wondering...


Here’s the condensed version:

I broke a molar eating Doritos… I’m getting old… Dentist appointment Tuesday morning, but its okay, I love my dentist, Dr. Amiee, she’s wonderful, like Handy Manny she can fix anything… just bring her the pieces.

Helper continues to BOUNCE (LIKE TIGGER) off the walls.

“Don’t worry Daddy; I’m just bouncin’ like Tigger!”

Remember folks, our house is over 100 years old… but it’s lasted this long, right?

He bounces so much he forgot to use the potty last evening and ended up “leaking” on the kitchen floor… such is my life! But the groundhog DID see his shadow, right?

The Mommy organized all his arts and crafts to make it easy for him ME! Thank goodness! She’s so good to me!

The Baby is teething up a storm. He doesn’t sleep well because of it, but he’s not cranky. He’s such a good boy. Some occasional Tylenol and a cold teether, with some baby Orajel® have provided some much needed relief.

It snowed last night. It’s melting now. It’s a mess. I can’t wait for spring!

The Mommy spent some time Saturday playing with our new program from LegoFactory.com. Thanks Mike! I even installed it on the Girl’s computer, and she actually thought it was cool. Mike’s right though, it seems to take much longer when you have “help.”

I’m reading Summer of Light, which I finally got last week, after reading AtHomeDaddy’s review.

I was informed that our friend, Donna, came in 3rd Place in the New York Latin Dance Championship. Yeah, she dances too! There are many facets to this extraordinary women. Congrats D! Way to go, Sis!

(Here she's pictured with her parter/instructor, world famous dancer Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine, 2 Time World Mambo Champion and has appeared on Dancing With The Stars and America's Ballroom Challenge.)

Spent some time reading Karly’s Drunkin’ Post. If you haven’t done so already you have to check it out. Drinking and Typing… not a good thing for LID!

That is all for now! I'll be back... fair warning!

Parents Are More Than Blood Relatives

Update:

After the "characters" involved read this post today they would like some changes made to their references. First, Ed would like to be known as "Uncle Ed" and Donna as "Big Sister." So be it, I'm obliged to help them anyway I can!


One definition of Parent is: “something from which one or more similar and separate things have developed, or to which they are attached.”

The relationship between a parent and child is one of natures purest. We’re more “related” to our children than we are to our spouses. But, this doesn’t mean we have to be related by blood to experience this special bond.

All of my “blood” parents live very far away and enjoy a well deserved retirement in “paradise.” My mother, stepfather, and dad all live on Florida’s west coast. They enjoy a lower cost of living and don’t have to suffer the northern winters. I don’t get to see them often, but, I do understand their need to be there.

Parents are more than biological ancestors; they are people who care for children, whether their own or others and it doesn’t matter how old those children are.

Fortunately, I have some local “parents” that fill the void...

My neighbor, Ed, is one of my best friends, but more than that, he takes care of me and my family, like a father… because he is a father.

He considers my children his grandchildren.

He and his “better-half,” Linda, come to their birthday parties bearing generous gifts and genuine well wishes.

On Halloween, they always have a big candy bar for the boy… at Christmas time, there’s always a present or two at Ed & Linda’s house.

In the dead of winter, he continually calls me, just to check on us.

They’re always there to run to the store at a moments notice, or flip us the keys to their car when needed.

Ed takes me fishing in the summer; we spend afternoons away from everything, just experiencing nature. Whether or not we catch anything, we always have a good time. We get to clear our heads of all our mundane daily tasks. We’re just friends enjoying a moment on the ocean; a “father” and “son” spending time alone, as men.

He helps me with my lawn and leaf clean-up, and uses his “monster” snow blower to clear my driveway when the snow falls.

In return, we treat him like our father.

I’m always there to help him with any “project” he has gotten himself into and, my wife always includes them in her cooking binges.

The Helper needs to have his “Eddie and ‘Winda’” fix, too. “Let’s go see Eddie!” “I wonder what Eddie’s doin’?” “Here comes Ed, Dad!” “Where’s ‘Winda’s’ car?” “Did ‘Winda” go to work?”

They have a very special bond.

We’re included in all their “events” and they in ours. Even if we’re planning a small family gathering, there’s never a question about including Ed and Linda… they’re our family.

We have another “friend/parent,” Donna. She lives alone in a big beautiful house (I’ve done most of the work on it.) Donna never had any of her “own” children. But, she has a son, a daughter, and grandchildren.

She has framed pictures of the Helper… her grandson.

And like Ed and Linda, she’s always included in our intimate events.

Like any “natural” parent she cares for her children when they’re hurt…

When I blew my knee out, a few summers ago, Donna was at the hospital within twenty minutes of the ambulance delivering me. She stayed the entire time, making sure I was properly cared for by the staff. She is the Assistant Director of Nursing at Long Island’s largest hospital.

From the time the Baby was conceived we knew he’d be born at Donna’s hospital.

In fact, we insisted!

With all the problems my wife had with the Helper, at another facility, we didn’t want to take any chances.

Our “mother” Donna (she’ll hate that, as it infers a slight clue to her age), was the one I picked up at the airport a few months back. At the end of this week she’ll be off again, this time to Las Vegas for a poker tourney. We’ve agreed to only carry on bags this time!

I will again be charged with the care of her furry friends, as well as, looking after the house.

We’ll miss her, but wish her “luck” on her adventure. She’ll need it!

It’ll be another late night pick-up at New York’s LaGuardia airport on Sunday… wish us luck!

Donna cares for us like her own, and we for her. It’s what children do.


My family is blessed to have these people in our lives. They’re more than friends they’re our family. An old saying says, “You don’t get to choose your family.” I don’t think this is entirely accurate…

While we may not get to choose who we’re related to by “blood,” we can develop relationships that are as strong, if not stronger, than natural family bonds.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Rabbits

While I normally try to maintain some sense of decorum and decency here at LID, sometimes things just find their way to my inbox that I can’t resist. You may have already received this yourselves, but I’m still ROFLing!


A precious little girl walks into a pet shop and asks,

"Excuthe me, do you have any widdle wabbits?"

The shopkeeper's heart melts, he gets down on his knees so that he's on her level, and says,

"Do you want a widdle white wabbit or a thoft, fwuffy bwack wabbit, or one like that widdle bwown wabbit over there?"

The little girl blushes, rocks on her heels, puts her hands on her knees, leans forward and whispers,

"I weally don’t fink my pet pyfon gives a phuk."

Big Foot?



It's gonna take a lot more then just wearin' 'em to fill my shoes, buddy!

Happiness Is… Hot Water!

Not to be outdone by Drama Mama’s recent post regarding her adulation for her new floor cleaning apparatus, I wanted to let you know LID has a new appliance that trumps even the best vacuum (and I’m a huge fan of my Dyson knock-off by Hoover, don’t get me wrong)…

A Brand New High-Efficiency, Digitally Controlled, Hot Water Heater.

Hot water for the washing machine, hot showers, using the dishwasher without worry… these are just some of the things my new hot water heater can do. His predecessor served the house well for over 20 years. His time had come. In order to get hot water, I would have to tinker with the burner on a daily basis and then cross my fingers, pray and then drink a beer to overcome my frustrations!

But now… in this age of all things digital… this machine anticipates need, call and adjusts to demand automatically… never leaving someone with shampoo in their hair! Ah…. Modern wonders! And, if that wasn’t enough, supposedly it will cost me a third of what the old one did to operate… the hits just keep on coming!

For those of you who are into this sort of thing… like I am, its recovery rate is 114 gallons per hour. That translates into hot shower after hot shower… continuously… forever! Not to steal anyone else’s thunder… but… Oh, The Joys!!!!

Okay, I’ve gushed enough about an inanimate object.

I need to return to my duties… perhaps a load of dishes in piping hot water that will never run out! Damn… I can’t stop myself!

Order, Planning and Cleanliness Can Bite You In The A%#!

One of the ways I’m surviving successful as a stay-at-home-parent is through order and planning. When I first started my new career, I relied on my acquired skills from my previous profession.


I like plans.

I like order.

I crave neatness.

A place for everything and everything in its place.


But… this can be a double edged sword when dealing with the little people. Children love to mimic, copy, and continually show us what they’ve learned.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? (Although, I’m SURE you do.)

Here’s my latest example…

While looking out the front window the other day (remind me to move the couch away from the windows) the Helper reminded me I was failing in my yard maintenance duties…


“Daddy, look at YOUR yard… you have to go and clean it up!”

“It’s winter, honey, we don’t do anything with the yard in the winter.”

“Yeah… it’s a MESS!”

Obvious first thought,
So is YOUR room.
Then I remembered… He makes me clean that up too.

So instead, I offered,
“When it gets warmer out WE’LL have to clean up the property.”

To which I was told, with a tone of disgust,
“Yeah… just look at the MESS!”


Children learn most effectively by observing others. We’re soooo proud of them when they emulate us -- even when they’re throwing it back in our face!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

An Open Letter of Thanks...

Dear Angel, Angela, Mike, Janet, Jessica, Jeff, Keith, MBI, Karly, Stephanie, and Terri, and to all of you who “lurked” and didn’t comment but sent your well wishes anyway,


Thanks for your comments and words of support, as well as all your prayers. They have certainly helped… a lot. It’s nice to know there are people who care!

I’m a big believer in positive thinking and prayer… it works.

My Dad is much better and should be going home today. After a battery of tests showing nothing seriously wrong it was concluded that a change in his blood pressure medication might have caused his stroke. It seems when you get older any change in regulation of such an important thing can have side effects… serious ones.

His only problem was that his hospital room is directly across the street from his golf course. His room actually overlooked the first hole. Not good for him, someone should have really thought about that. But, yesterday, before they played, all his buddies stopped in to check on him. That was great! Although, when they left I’m sure he was thinking of ways to go with them… in fact I know he was.

Thanks again,

Chris

P.S. We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming. Unfortunately, Tool Box Thursday has been pre-empted until next week. But I’ll come up with some silly sit-com featuring the Helper to fill the void.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Missing Post Note

If you came looking for "Warrior, Patriot, Man... Father" it will be back up soon. I need to do some photo and layout editing. I wasn't happy with the layout or quality. Thanks - CF

Then The Phone Rang...

Yesterday, I was supposed to post my installment of Tuesday’s Truth. I had a funny list of stuff to post for the “libations” section and was working on some great links.

But then the phone rang.

Not an unusual occurrence around here, but the caller ID showed a number I vaguely recognized.

It was the number of one of my father’s best friends. Actually, it was his cell phone number.

I answered the phone... it was my father.

He lives in Palm Harbor, Florida, which is just north of Clearwater Beach. I started off with the usual, “How’s it going down there?” I was curious as to why he was using his friend’s cell phone, but thought his battery might be dead. A phone call from the golf course is not unusual for him.

Much to my surprise, his normal witty retort about the weather didn’t come. Instead he said, "Not good."

He had a stroke.

He had lost control of the entire right side of his body.

He is 77 years old.

By the time he was able to call me, the feeling and sensation to the affected areas had returned. Good news!

He will remain in the hospital for a few days to undergo a battery of tests.

I got another phone call last night from my step-mother. (My parents divorced when I was 8 years old.) She told me he was finally in his own room and gave me his number, but not to call him because he was wiped out and was going to sleep.

I agreed to call him today.

I know he’s in good hands; my step-mother is a doctor of nursing education, as well as, a registered nurse and a former associate professor of nursing at the University of Massachusetts.

She also informed me that his “buddies” had immediately rushed to his side. His golf buddies, his poker buddies and he was joking with them all. He was concerned that he would miss last night’s weekly poker game and today’s round of golf. More Good News!

I was working on another “father” post to follow “Grandfathers.” It was going to run next week. But, I think I will finish it today, as time allows, and post it as soon as it’s done.

I look forward to sharing my father’s story, as he is a man who has fascinated me my entire life.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Updates & More...


Update on the Helper

Thanks so much for all the well wishes during our recent bout with sickness. So far, only one of us has succumbed to the vicious ailment… the Mommy. She’s better today and back to work; she’s such a trooper! It’s a good thing, because the last time I checked I didn’t have any sick days left…

The Helper fully recovered by the weekend in order to spend the entire day, Saturday, tormenting his sister. She enjoys him a lot, but now I know why her MP3 player earphones are in all the time. The good news is nothing was broken this weekend due to their antics.

Update on Bleach Post

It has come to my attention that I did not give proper mixing information in my post. Nor, did I provide an alternative for anti-bleach advocates.

Proper mixing for disinfection purposes is one (1) capful of bleach to 2 gallons of water.

An approved substitute for bleach is white vinegar. The disinfecting properties of white vinegar are the same as bleach, but much less caustic. They both smell bad so the choice is yours.

Update on Theme Days

You may have noticed that the “Theme Days” have vanished. Not to worry they’re coming back. They had to be suspended due to “the sickness” and Angel’s tagging which actually inspired the post on Grandfathers. I have some “libations” ready to go for tomorrow and Tool Box Thursday is coming along nicely. This week Photo Friday will focus on some scenery shots, inspired by Terry over at Road Rage.

Of Local Interest

The Long Island 2 Day Walk for Breast Cancer will be holding a Press Conference on Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 10 a.m. Location: Islip MacArthur Airport, Ronkonkoma, NY (in the new Southwest Terminal).


Grandfathers

I have been “tagged” by Angel from Angel’s Cloud to do a “5 Things About Me” meme. I have to admit that I am rather boring; I’m not claustrophobic, I’m not afraid of much, except maybe heights… but I got over that being a builder.

So I thought, instead of boring you with benign facts about your’s truly, I would explain a little bit about where I came from. More specifically, my relationship with my fathers’ and their fathers’ and what shaped me into the Dad I am today.

A little while back, I said, “Men learn how to be men from other men…We learn how to be gentlemen from watching true gentle men. Father’s are not easily impressed by their sons, but they’re always proud of them. As men, we’re remembered by the character of the men we raise.” For better or worse, we’re shaped by the men who have come before us. We raise our sons based on the influences in our lives. As we get older, we learn to extract the good and discard the bad. But all our experiences are there to draw on as we mold the next generation of men.

With that in mind, and being the fact that this is, after all, Long Island Dad, I’m going to start with a segment on my grandfathers. In order to truly "know" things about a person you must know where they came from; what influences they had in their lives and who were/are their role models. I’ll include some interesting facts about me to keep your interest… I promise.

My Middle Name - “Bryan

As I told you a little while back, the Helper is not a junior because we don’t share a middle name. My middle name is “Bryan.” Not odd at all, except for the “y” spelling. It’s actually a family surname; my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. I am a direct descendant of William Jennings Bryan (please click the link to learn more about him). While I don’t share a lot of his religious beliefs or political views, I am, in fact, intrigued and active in both politics and religion.


My “Grandpa” (Maternal Grandfather)

In a previous post I described the relationship between me and my maternal grandfather; a great man who I still use as a role model to this day.

If you haven’t done so already, please read Pens and Pocket Knives, for an understanding of my relationship with him.



My “Poppa Sam” (Paternal Grandfather)

My paternal grandfather was a stoic man of finance. He was a banker. He attended the Wharton School of Finance (the same school as Donald Trump), and rose through the ranks, finally achieving the position of Vice Chairman of Commercial Loans for The First National City Bank of New York, now known as Citibank or Citigroup. (Right Photo: My Grandfather at his retirement party in 1965, before Long Island Dad was born.)

In his time, he was the man large national companies went to for money. They included AT&T, General Motors, DuPont Chemical, and many others. He was a money man. He taught me the value of a dollar, as well as, what to do with that dollar… to bad I haven’t listened so far.

Interesting tidbits; the Baby shares his middle name with my grandfather; my grandparents waited until my grandfather’s retirement in 1965 to take a honeymoon (after having been married for over 40 years), they sailed to Europe on the original Queen Mary in 1966 and spent many months touring Europe. (Left Photo: My Grandparents toasting their Bon Voyage aboard the RMS Queen Mary I, New York Harbor, October 1966)

Upon their return, my grandparents sold their house here on Long Island and retired to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They became the ultimate “snow birds,” spending summers on the Cape and winters in Naples, Florida.

My grandfather had worked hard all his life and rewarded himself with a great retirement. Unfortunately, he only enjoyed it for eight years. He died in May of 1973; I was 8 years old. This was my first encounter with death; I remember his funeral like it was yesterday. My grandmother (being of 100% Irish decent) lived another 23 years after his death, until she finally passed in 1996.

The thing I remember most about my grandfather, who we called “Poppa Sam,” (to this day I still don’t know why), was the time he and I would spend together on Cape Cod. As a boy I would go up to the Cape every summer… yeah, I know, such a spoiled brat… after having his breakfast, my grandfather would take me for a ride in the car. We would stop for the morning newspapers and then it was off to the beach. He would sit on the bench and read the papers while I ran, jumped and frolicked like little boys do. In the afternoon, after his beloved Red Sox (I know… hurts me to this day!) lost and before cocktail hour, he would play a board game or he would color with me. (Right Photo: A much younger Long Island Dad coloring with Poppa Sam, Naples, FL 1971)

He was not a man of many words or outward signs of affection but I know he loved me. He wasn’t the grandpa who hugged or kissed you or tucked you into bed. He wasn’t the man who took you fishing or taught you how to use tools. He didn’t have a workshop – he hired “that” stuff out. But, in spite of this, and probably because of this, the time he and I spent together, alone, are some of my greatest memories from childhood.

(Left Photo: My Grandparents on their back porch, Cape Cod, Summer 1975, a year before my grandfather passed away. This is the last picture they took together.)



Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sometimes You Just Need Your Mommy!

“Daddy, where’s Mommy?”

“She’s had to go to work honey, she’ll be home later.”

“But who’ll take care o’me?”

“I will, sweetie.”

“No… can I talk to Mommy on the phone?”

[After a phone call to Mommy where she reassured him she’ll be home as soon as she can.]

“Mommy be home soon to take care’o’me!

“Okay.”

[Literally, five minutes later...]

“Daddy, can I have somefin’ to eat?”

“Daddy, can you help me in the potty?”

“Daddy, can you get my blankie?”

“Daddy, can you put my shows on?”

“Daddy, can you get me somfin’ to drink?”


“Sure Buddy! See I can take care of you too!”

“No… Mommy takes care’o’me, you get me stuff!”


Sometimes you just need your Mommy…

Bleach... My Dear Friends, BLEACH!

Inspired by the events of the past few days

In lieu of Tool Box Thursday, I’m offering a tip provided by the Mommy. As most of you know, the Mommy is a restaurant manager for a large national company. Ever wonder how a restaurant cleans and disinfects its surfaces?

Bleach, my dear friends… Bleach!

Piping hot water mixed with a generous amount of straight bleach combined with a clean, white terry cloth rag is the ONLY Board of Health approved method for disinfecting surfaces. No wimpy, non-caustic cleaners here! No “safe for all surfaces” sprays for me, folks! Its basic bleach and hot water, approved by the Board of Health!

Little known fact… a restaurant can be heavily fined if they don’t have “bleach buckets” in certain areas! These buckets are cleaned and freshened throughout the day to provide maximum effectiveness.

Today, I will endeavor to clean all hard surfaces with my “wonder solution.” Hopefully, exterminating the little guys who got my little guy sick… bastards!

Beware, this concoction is extremely unforgiving to manicures, clothing and nasal passages… but it works. In his four years on this earth the Helper has only puked twice!

He’s only had ONE ear infection and I can count the colds he’s had on one hand!

As they say, “the proof is in the puddin’”

It Finally Happened!

After a month of reading everyone else's posts, it finally happened here... so much for my anti-virus software.

It was inevitable.

The winter, a closed up house, and playing with other carrier monkeys has taken its toll on our intrepid hero... the Helper.

It all started Tuesday night (explaining LID's disappearance for the last couple of days), with the innocent line, "Daddy, my tummy doesn't feel good!"

The rest, as "they" say, is history... Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

I'll spare you the gory details (if you require tales of warm, chunky vomit running down your back please visit Karly at Wiping Up Snot)... as you're all well versed in what happens next. Suffice it to say posting will be limited for the rest of the week as I don my nurse's scrubs and take care of the family. Tool Box Thursday will return next week at your regularly scheduled time... please check your local listings.

After having yesterday off to take care of her son, the Mommy headed back to work this morning at 5 a.m.... with only 3 hours sleep in the past 48... no symptoms... yet!

The Helper has started to drink and eat some small portions... we're being extremely cautious regarding his consumption of anything... as I'd rather not see it again... you know what I mean.

My wonderful, 98 year old father-in-law has also been taken down... the Nannie is tending to him. It seems are heroes from the other day acquired this "bug" together... they are indeed best friends.

I now have to get back to my duties... seems the nurse's buzzer is ringing. I will keep you posted on our condition as the situation warrants... where are my rubber gloves and bucket?

As I said to our friend Mike, before his weekend of supposed slumber...

Via Con Dios, Amigos!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why is it...?


This list could go on forever, so I’ve limited it to only today’s issues. As parents, things come up that always beg the question, “Why is it….?” Here’s today’s offering:

Why is it…

… that a well fed, clean, sleeping 4 month old will immediately awake when his father starts running water for a shower… yet sleep through an hours long vacuuming session?

… a requested snack, once prepared, is summarily deemed “yucky!”

… when you can’t take any more… more comes?

… that the kitchen garbage is always full?

… three men can’t seem to nap at the same time?

… if three men do manage to fall asleep at the same time… the dogs’ bladder’s reach maximum capacity at the point all six eyes shut?

… a four month old immediately regurgitates upon being dressed in a clean garment?

… a baby will wait until their diaper is off to poop?

… a perfectly made bed begs a four year old to jump in it?

… a recently cleaned pair of eyeglasses needs the adornment of little finger prints?

… when the coffee maker is clean and you have a full bag of beans, the milk instantly sours and the sugar is empty?

… I can’t stop this list?

… once you’ve cleaned your junk and spam email folders they instantly show a new item?

… that it’s always the favorite toy that disappears, and never the old crap?

… that when asked, a four year old’s response is always, “I don’t remember!”?

Any help in answering these questions would be greatly appreciated! I’ve seemed to have lost all sense of logic and reason in the past few years…

Study Shows... Men Need Naps!


This morning I came across an article that says an afternoon nap can improve a man's health and help him live longer. Wooo Hooo! A documented scientific study! Wanting to do my part to ensure my family's health... mandatory napping will be instituted immediately. Who am I to question science?

Read article here: Study: On-the-job naps might help heart

Weird Houses

In keeping with my current architecture theme, I was pleased to get an email from a friend that had some great examples of "weird" architecture. Enjoy!

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Memory...

I have just finished watching last night’s edition of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. For those of you who saw it you’ll understand the emotion it generated. Something this particular show does quite well. Hence, it’s continued good ratings.

As I was watching this program I recalled an event that changed my life…

In 1985, I was a sophomore at the New York Institute of Technology. I was studying for a degree in Architecture. I was 20 years old and living in off-campus housing. I was working on a 2nd year design project and was in desperate need of some insight and motivation. Like an artist, I needed my muse.

It was 2:30 a.m. when I decided to take the train into the “City.” College kids never sleep! I wanted to walk around downtown Manhattan with my notebook and camera… something that might get you detained today… how sad! I needed to experience the beauty of the architecture; I needed to see how form, really did, follow function.

I had been to the “City” many times before but never alone and never that late at night.

After a twenty-five minute train ride I exited Pennsylvania Station and started my walk south -- downtown towards the financial district and my destination.

After a quick subway ride and a twenty minute walk I had arrived.

I sat down on a large concrete expanse and had my back up against the corner of my inspiration piece. I tilted my head back and looked up. The lights of the city danced on the shimmering steel that soared above my head. I stared up into the night sky, memorized by the beauty and simplicity of the man made structure that pierced the sky.

I stayed there for a few hours until the first rays of sun reflected off my new found friend. Still with my back to the corner I could hear and feel the giant structure awake. As the metal was warmed by the heat of the great star it groaned and pinged.

The mammoth building was coming alive for another day’s work.

People started to fill the concourse, purposeful in their steps; my time here was nearing an end. I packed up my notebook and camera, never having snapped a photo or written a line.

I turned and looked up at my muse and understood what I needed to do.

After returning to my apartment, I quickly finished my project. I presented it a few days later and defended it to my professors, as is the case in architectural studies. I don’t remember the grade I received but I do remember that I had changed. I no longer wanted to just design buildings; I wanted to build them with my own hands.

The night I spent in the city showed me that man made structures do indeed have souls... The souls of the men and women who build them and the souls of the people who work and live in them.

Upon graduating, I received an offer to apprentice at a prestigious north shore firm… I turned it down to work as a carpenter for a local builder on Fire Island. For two years, I built homes for families on a small sand bar… the work was heavy, hard, and hot. But, I learned what it meant to put your heart and soul into something.

My beautiful muse, who taught me that a building is more than steel and concrete is no more… she was built by men, and at 9:59 a.m. on September 11th 2001, my college inspiration piece, also known as, number Two World Trade Center, the South Tower, collapsed… by the hand of men.

The structure may no longer exist but its soul lives on in each one of us.

Why Do We Live Here?

Memes, Lists of 100 Things About Yourself, Thursday Thirteen are ways we bloggers find out about each other. While I don’t normally participate in these activities I do enjoy reading them. With that in mind I thought I would provide a small morsel of information about your’s truly. What makes Long Island Dad different? What’s one cool thing about him?

Today’s Long Island Dad Fact:

While I have traveled extensively around the country and the Caribbean, I have never, in 42 years, lived more than 19 miles away from where I was born! Even when I went to college and lived on campus at the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, I was 19 miles away from my birthplace of Bay Shore, N.Y. Bay Shore is a medium size town located on Long Island’s south shore halfway between New York City and Montauk Point (Long Island’s easternmost point.) For the past 11 years I have lived in the same house located 13.47 miles from my birthplace. Weird/Cool, huh?


Some Facts About Long Island:

Why we stay… Why we want to leave… Why we continue to stay…

Long Island is 118 miles long and 18-20 miles wide at its widest point.

Population (All Four Counties; Queens, Brooklyn, Nassau, and Suffolk): 7,448,618

That’s 5,470 people per square mile!

Long Island is more populated than 97 countries of the world.

The population for just Nassau and Suffolk counties (the two counties that are actually considered Long Island, because Brooklyn and Queens are actually part of New York City): 2.7 million.

Nassau County is ranked fifth highest in income per capita in the entire country.

Median Long Island Home Price: In excess of $400,000

In 2001, the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute reported that Long Island had the highest cost of living/income index in the country.

The average property tax bill for an average size home is between $8,000 and $16,000 a year… that’s just the property tax, folks… no mortgage is included with those numbers.

The average electric bill for a standard 4 bedroom, 2 bath home is over $300 a month, without air conditioning or holiday lights.

If you combined all the fire and rescue vehicles; Long Island has more than New York City and Los Angeles COMBINED!

Listen up you westerners… The first cowboys were/still are Long Islander’s. The oldest working cattle ranch in the United States is right here on Long Island.

According to Forbes Magazine, the most expensive home in North America, is Three Ponds Estate in Bridgehampton, valued at $75 million... and only 28 miles from your host’s meager domain.

The first Trans-Atlantic flight, by Charles Lindbergh, originated on Long Island.

The first ever video game was invented here, at Brookhaven National Laboratory… only 3 miles from LID’s abode.

So why do we stay?

Highest cost of living, second highest property taxes, and traffic… oh, did I forget to mention the traffic. Remember those 5,470 people per square mile, well they all have to get to work to pay for all this. It’s not uncommon for my beautiful wife to spend 2 ½ - 3 hours commuting 45 miles.

Again, why do we stay?

While there has been a large exodus of younger families over the past few years, most of us continue to suck it up! We hand over our entire paychecks and then some just to survive… because we live in paradise! We do take it for granted some times. But when driving back from an out of state trip; or flying in from a far away destination… the first glimpse of Manhattan’s skyline reminds us why we stay.

The first summer day we get to spend on the beach… the smell of salt air and sand… our children attending some of the best schools in the world (remember those property taxes, they go somewhere), combined with the ability to have anything we want, 24 hours a day, within 30 minutes… as long as we’re willing to pay for it… is why!

All this on one income... we're either crazy or brainwashed... must be something in the air...

And, besides, I obviously can’t live more than 19 miles away from the place I was born…

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Off To See "Honey!"

This is an early edition of Monday Morning Quarterback. I had to write this installment as it was fresh in my head... you, my fellow bloggers will understand. I will regale you with the rest of this weekend's anecdotes tomorrow!


The Helper is gone! No, not forever… I didn’t sell him on eBay, folks! He was scooped up by Nannie on Sunday because we’re supposed to get snow in the middle of the week. What does one have to do with the other you ask? Nannie and the Helper need their weekly “fix.” They need to spend time with each other at least once every seven days or they start to show signs of mental deterioration. As you might recall, she had him last Wednesday into Thursday. But, if we got any sort of frozen precipitation where she would be unable to get the little guy, they’d both go out of their minds… not a pretty sight I can assure you!

Also, my father-in-law (my wife’s step-father, actually) is 98 years old. Yes, 98!
The more time my little guy can get with him the better. A note about my father-in-law; he’s 98 years old only on paper... he still has all his faculties, still very active, still does yard work, chops fire wood, cut his grass (although I helped him with that this fall, due to a short stay in the hospital), bundles the trash, takes walks up and down the block and “takes care of” my mother-in-law. He’s quite a man. One day, I’ll tell you his story. Suffice it to say, there are/have been/will be very, very few like him.

He and the Helper have a special relationship. My son does not see the advancement of his years. It’s his, “Honey.” Why “Honey?” Because when the boy first started to talk all he would ever hear my mother-in-law call her husband was “Honey.” Who are we to tell the little guy any different… it’s his “Honey!”

They play with each other, the Helper subjects him to stories of his latest adventures, then they sit and watch old westerns on TV. The difference of ninety-four years in age is never apparent. Grandfather to Grandson, man to man, they have a bond. My beautiful little Helper is named after me and his Grandfather. We thought it very appropriate to give him my father-in-law’s name as his middle name… now you know why the Helper is not a junior!

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Baby!


As promised, here's this week's edition of Photo Friday featuring the Baby! Obviously, at only 4 months of age there are less pictures of him than the Helper. I've sifted through them and posted the nine I like the best... so far! Because there were only nine I decided to put them in the FilmLoop Player. Enjoy!



Stay At Home Father Survey


I got this the other day and am just getting around to posting it... please check it out:

"My name is Dr. Aaron Rochlen and I am a Dad and an Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Texas who specializes in research on men and masculinity. My research team is working on a study of Stay-at-Home Fathers. In particular, we are studying how men adjust to this new role and how it impacts their lives and relationships.

The study uses an online questionnaire that should take no longer than 15-20 minutes.

It really should be an interesting experience to complete the surveys - and it is definitely a much needed area of research!! The study has been approved by the IRB (Institutional Review Board) at UT."

SURVEY LINK: http://www.hostedsurvey.com/takesurvey.asp?c=SAHF

Thursday, February 8, 2007

A New Look for an Old Kitchen

Welcome to this week’s edition of Tool Box Thursday. This week I’m going to cover some options for upgrading your kitchen’s look, for the fraction of the cost of a full remodel. Also, this week I’ve included some great web resources that I use on a regular basis.

Introduction:

In today’s world, the Kitchen has become the most popular room in the house. It’s also the room that is most often remodeled and upgraded. A home’s value is often closely associated with the kitchen; its look, the appliances, floor coverings and overall “feel.”

Fully remodeling a kitchen is a large undertaking. The cost associated with a full kitchen remodel can be in the ten of thousands of dollars. But there are some options that will provide an entirely new look at a fraction of the cost.

Many DIY shows cover cost saving kitchen upgrades. Below I have put together some tried and true methods that not only change the feel and appearance of a kitchen, but actually add to a home’s value.

By making some relatively inexpensive cosmetic changes you can put your money into better appliance upgrades. Believe it or not the biggest portion of a kitchen remodeling budget is sucked up by the cabinets and the counter tops. Often the appliances are secondary. Stoves, refrigerators, sinks, faucets and dishwashers get used everyday. More attention and resources should go into these items rather than a $100 a square foot granite counter. That’s just my opinion. High quality, energy efficient appliances, not only make the kitchen fun and easy to use, they can save you money; whereas, new cabinets and counters only cost money. If they don’t happen to be the taste of a prospective buyer they haven’t added any value. New quality appliances only add value.

The suggestions below involve using your existing kitchen layout and cabinets. Customers often tell me they want to replace all the cabinets… perfectly good quality boxes. Often they don’t have the resources to change the layout (a very expensive option), they just crave a new look. Here are my suggestions:

Cabinets:

Older wood cabinets are actually better quality than many new “home center” bargain cabinets. But, often they appear dated, dark, and dingy. Most of you have heard or seen ads for cabinet re-facing companies. While this is definitely an option, with a little time and effort you can achieve similar results yourself.

Consider replacing the doors and drawer fronts, hinges and door hardware.

For a fraction of the cost of a new cabinet (and without the mess), doors can be changed very easily. I use two companies, Cabinet Door Shop and Cabinet Door Depot. They manufacture new doors to your specifications. They have many, many styles to choose from, and these are high quality doors.

By changing door styles you can also change a cabinet from a storage unit to a display unit by using glass doors. Adding some inexpensive low voltage lighting inside these cabinets makes the content pop! Having some glass shelves cut at a local glass supply place adds a touch of elegance.

I suggest refinishing or painting the actual cabinet boxes yourself. When painting a cabinet that’s been previously stained you’ll have to do some sanding to rough up the surface, then apply a high quality primer, before your finish coats. Make sure to fill any holes and scratches prior to applying the primer.

I use a company called Rockler for all my hinges, knobs, and pulls. They have everything you’ll need to change a cabinet’s hardware.

A note about painting the doors; I don’t recommend you do this yourself. The doors take a tremendous amount of abuse. While it may look easy on TV to prime and paint a cabinet door, I have found that over time the finish will start to show signs of wear relatively quickly. A kitchen is a very harsh environment; steam, moisture, constant opening and closing take its toll on a door. My suggestion is that you look in the yellow pages under “Spray Finishers” or “Spray Finishing.” You can take your doors to them and have a professional finish put on that will last a lifetime; sometimes this finish is better than automotive standards. They will match any color or stain you want and apply layers of clear sealant that will protect the doors.

Counter Tops:

While granite, solid surface, and natural stone counter tops are all the rage, I prefer a good old high pressure laminate. Why? High pressure laminate counter tops are still the least expensive choice, and with today’s color and finish choices they rival the look of materials costing much more. They’re durable, easy to clean and require no maintenance. Remember, all natural stone surfaces require sealing annually.

Laminate counters can be changed when you want a new look. If you invest $5000 in granite counter and you decide 5 years later you’re not happy with the look anymore, you will probably not be in a rush to swap out the counter. But a $600 counter that’s given you the same five years of service can be easily swapped out in a weekend… and you can do it yourself with some basic knowledge and tools.

“But prospective buyers want granite.”

People want the granite look; granite and natural stone counter tops convey a feeling of luxury. But they really are not practical. They require periodic maintenance and a large investment. I’ve actually installed a granite look laminate counter top in a $2 million home in the Hamptons, to rave reviews from the homeowner, Realtor, and prospective buyers.

Remember, styles and tastes change over time. That beautiful black slab of $10,000 granite may actually detract from a home’s value in the future.

Two top providers of high pressure laminate counter tops are Wilsonart® and Formica®.
Both companies often have sample chips at all the large home center chains. Also, a larger sample piece can be ordered. Something I would definitely suggest doing, once you’ve narrowed your choices down to two or three. These samples are usually 12”x12” and provide a better representation of the actual product. The samples a cost a few dollars but are worth it. Also, laminate counters can have many different options in edge detailing and back splashes.

“But, I really need granite for cooking and baking.”

I suggest that you use some granite or stone tiles in a section to create a workspace or accent area. A popular use of granite and stone tile is on an island or peninsular section. You get real granite or stone, at a fraction of the cost and you can do it yourself.


Flooring:

One of the best ways to improve a kitchen’s look and feel is by installing a new floor. I suggest either the popular laminate flooring products like Pergo® ,DuPont®, Wilsonart® or vinyl goods, whether tile or sheet goods. I do not recommend ceramic or stone tile on kitchen floors. They may look great but definitely have some disadvantages.

Ceramic and stone floors are very hard; hard to stand on, hard when something’s dropped on them and they’re cold. Unless you have radiant floor heating under them, these floors are extremely cold in the winter months. Also, these floors usually have “grout” joints. While these joints can be sealed to prevent staining, the sealant wears off over time and the joints become dirty and an eyesore.

I suggest installing floors that are seamless. Kitchen floors get wet. They get washed, mopped, spilled on, etc. The floor should not have any grooves, joints, or seams that could produce a failure in the future. The new laminate floors lock together to provide tight joints; sheet vinyl is seamless by its very nature. With a little instruction and some basic tools, laminate floors can be installed easily. These floors also have the advantage of either having foam backing or are installed over a thin foam sheet. This makes the floor extremely quiet and soft to walk on. Laminate floors are a great choice when under floor radiant heat is used. They’re very stable in nature and can withstand the changes in temperature quite well.

Some Final Thoughts and Links:

Create a budget with high end, good quality, energy saving appliances at the top of the list. Then decide what you can do to freshen up the look of the existing cabinets, counters and floors. You’ll always get your money back for the appliance investment, but not always for your choice in finishes.

With some hard work and creativity, a $5,000 investment can look like a $25,000 remodel. Trust me, I know, I’ve done it!

TIP:
The Kitchen Faucet should be one of your biggest investments in a kitchen.
It gets used more than any other item!

There are a million web sites out there offering tips and information for do-it-yourselfers. I’ve narrowed it down to some great comprehensive sites that offer “real” advice and instruction. I use these sites often.

For Plumbing Advice, Issues, and Problems:

http://masterplumber.net/

http://www.plbg.com/

For DIY Advice and Information:

http://www.doityourself.com/

http://www.handymanusa.com/

http://www.askthebuilder.com/

http://www.repairclinic.com/0001.asp

http://www.hammerzone.com/world/index.htm