Friday, February 2, 2007

A New Header and a Thank You!

Our friend, Jeff, from Daddy Diary Tales and Daddy Dairy Tales: The Other One, has done it again. Yesterday, he fixed Oh, The Joys comments... Thank God! What would a day be without commenting over at The Joys.

I'm sure her email server thanks Jeff too.

Anyway, Jeff had a great post recently that included a free tip. I was able to now create my own header, as you see above. I'm pretty adept at HTML but the "new" Blogger is killing me. With Jeff's help I can now start to have the layout I want. Look forward to many additional header banners in the future... I just luvs me a cool header!

Thanks again Jeff... you'da man!

Photo Friday - 2/2/2007

This week's edition of Photo Friday focuses on a "younger" Helper.
Some oldies but goodies! Enjoy!

The Ultimate Fan!
Teach them young and they'll be fans for life.
Children don't get to decide what teams they like... that's our job!
No, it's not brainwashing... just good parenting!

Because he really is a 40 year old man trapped in a 2 year old body!

Our Little Rock Star!
Who gives a 2 1/2 year old a drum set?
A Godfather (Mommy's Brother) with a sense of humor, that's who!
Don't worry... he got his folks!

He parties like a Rock Star too!
Work hard, Play hard that's what I always say!

Prior to forming his band, the Helper enjoyed vacationing in Florida.
Here he is pool side... just chillin'
"Can someone get me a Pina Colada, please!" "Good help is so hard to find."

The Master and The Original Apprentice.
Helping (hence his namesake) Dad with an addition to the "Playscape."
Yes, he does have his own tool belt and tools... and knows how to use them.
[Proud Dad]

Just in case you missed this one from the other day!
Taken prior to the "peeing" incident.
Good thing he was wearing the shirt... I told you it would come in handy!

A late edition! Not to be outdone in the weather photo category... here's my entry.
This morning, 2/2/2007 at 7:00 a.m. No cocktails on the deck today...
unless a hot buttered rum counts.
The Mommy left at 6 a.m. for her 45 mile commute... haven't spoken with her yet,
but I'm sure she's not seeing the beauty in this morning's precipitation... just a hunch!


That's it for this week's edition of Photo Friday. Next week we'll focus on the Baby. For you very astute readers you'll notice a lack of Girl (12 year old sister) pictures on this blog.
She's 12 and in middle school, folks... the last thing she wants are her photo's published... to be used against her during lunch period!

Thanks for visiting, Enjoy!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Damn It!

In true MAN fashion...

Last night I got a phone call from my wonderful MIL. You'll remember that the Helper was staying with her overnight. While trying to contain her laughter she recounted an event that took place while she was preparing dinner.

The Helper had informed Nannie that he needed to use the potty before dinner... so off he went. A few minutes later she hears,

"Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!"

She rushed to the bathroom to see what was causing his profane outbursts.

Upon arriving at the bathroom door, the Helper informed her,

"It didn't go in the hole, it sprayed everywhere, it ruined everything!"

She calmly explained that nothing was ruined... and decided it was probably not a good time to discuss his language.

Lessons to teach:
  1. No cursing at Nannies...ever!
  2. A tool in the hands of a novice can be a dangerous thing!
  3. What happens in the bathroom... stays in the bathroom!
This parenting thing never, ever stops!

A Short Note of Thanks…

A Perfect Post – January 2007

Our friend, Angel, a.k.a. Drama Mama, nominated my post, Pens and Pocket Knives, for January’s Perfect Post Awards. I am humbled and honored by this (considering the company)… and as noted to the left I accept on behalf of all the men who have come before us, who have taught us right from wrong, who have shown us what it means to be a real gentleman, who have set the example and continue to influence us to this day.

Men learn how to be men from other men. We learn how to treat a woman by watching our fathers love our mothers, and our grandfathers take care of our grandmothers. We learn how to be gentleman 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.

I hope you'll go over and check out the great posts from last month. And, again, thanks!

And thanks to Suburban Turmoil and Petroville for the recognition!

Top 4 Do-It-Yourself Mistakes…and Tips!

By Christopher Frey
Stay-At-Home-Dad ~ Master to the Apprentice
Licensed General Contractor ~ Master
Certified Home Inspector ~ Certified Kitchen

"A Home Improvement Project That’s Done Wrong -- DECREASES a Property’s Value!"


With the increase in DIY channels offering 24 hour home improvement suggestions more and more people are tackling home repair and improvement projects. The rising cost of hiring expert professionals is also making more people turn to their local home improvement stores for a quick fix.

TV makes it look so easy, “I can do that!”

While this increased initiative should be applauded there are some drawbacks. I’ve outlined some “pitfalls” below.

Your home is your biggest investment it should be treated as such. Remember the old computer adage, “Garbage In, Garbage Out,” the same holds true for home improvements.

There is no substitute for knowledge, skill, and quality materials. Television and magazine segments are edited after many hours of production, to fit into condensed, bite size formats. These should be used only as guidelines and concept resources, not as a substitute for actual instruction.

To prove this point, the fastest growing professional contractor specialty is Homeowner Rescuers - Contractors who specialize in fixing DIYers mistakes.


“It won’t take that long, we can do it in a weekend!”

Here’s an inside secret; most contractors usually estimate the time a project will take based on their own skill level, the skill level of their workers and the availability of materials and then add another 50% and sometimes even 100% more. A project I think will take me two days, I’ll quote a week. If I’m done early, great, if not, I’ve left myself a cushion of time for the unforeseen. Yes, there’s always the unforeseen. It’s what causes most time and cost overruns. Also, the lack of planning and preparedness.

Time Rule #1:

However long you think it will take you to do something… double it! (Even if you’ve done it a million times before!)

Time Rule #2:


Not only does it lead to an unwanted result, injury and in some cases DEATH might occur!


“It cost us double what we thought it would!”

Another inside secret; contractors’ always add between 10-25% on material costs. This covers damages, waste, and fluctuations in prices from the original contract date.

Many building materials are considered commodities and are traded as such. Today’s price will not be the same price this summer.

When planning to build that deck this spring (with that big tax refund) price the lumber and materials now, but beware, when you go to purchase them the costs might go up as much as 50-100%.

Items to include in your calculations:

  • Materials
  • Tools Required
  • Protection Materials (i.e. Drop Clothes, Dust Masks, etc.),
  • Additional Outside Labor
  • REFUSE REMOVAL (Often a large budget item that’s overlooked.)
  • Any Building Permits Required

Always check with your carting company and local municipality to see what their bulk removal policies are. A lot of times you’ll find it’s easier to rent a dumpster for medium to large projects than cart stuff to the dump yourself. But beware; the cost of refuse removal is skyrocketing as landfills fill up.

Budget Rule #1:

Whatever you estimate your project to cost add 10-25%!
udget Rule #2:

Plan for the unexpected and unforeseen… another 10-25%!

Remember, if you don’t spend it, it’s yours. But if you need it, it’s there!


“Honey, I’ll be right back I have to run to the store to get a tool we need!”

“It’s okay we’ll just use this instead.”

Yes, tools are my favorite things on earth… well besides my wife and children. In the twenty-five plus years I’ve been purchasing these wonders you’d think I’d have them all… you’d be wrong.

This is one area that causes increases in the two categories above. Not having the right tools for a particular job causes a poor result, and is also unsafe. Additionally, using the wrong tool increases a project’s time and ends up costing more in the long run. If there’s a tool you need for a particular project, but it’s a large ticket item, look into renting instead of buying.

For example, if you’re tiling your bathroom, a simple carbide wheel tile cutter and a pair of nippers will do the job, but a tile wet-saw will make the job go much faster and the result will be much better. Not all of us need a tile wet saw (well some of us did,) they’re expensive, big and bulky, but they rent for about $50 a day. Money well spent. And some rental places will even drop off and pick up.

Planning is a big piece of this section. Look at your project, look at everything involved, and then look at what it’ll take to complete it. Do you have the right tools, if not; can you get the right tools? Do you know how to use the right tools? If the answer to any one of these questions is NO, consider hiring this project out to a professional… who has the right tools and knows how to use them. It’ll save you in the long run.

Tool Rule #1:

Use the right tool for the job!

Screwdrivers are meant for screws, not for prying… that’s why they make pry bars!

Tool Rule #2:

You get what you pay for! Don’t cheap out on your tools!

Quality tools are an investment and will give you a lifetime of service. I’ve had some $30 paint brushes for more than 15 years… they’ve more than paid for themselves.

Tool Rule #3:

Read the instructions and safety warnings from cover to cover, before operating ANY tool. Never remove or disable any safety feature and always replace broken or missing parts.

It’s easier to order a new blade guard than it is to re-attach a finger!


“We’re so overwhelmed… it’ll never get done!”

This is the case of “our eyes are bigger than our stomachs.” Just because you replaced a vanity and painted the bathroom does not mean you’re ready to rip out and remodel the kitchen. You’re painting the kitchen and suddenly decide the dining room doesn’t match… finish the kitchen first, 100%, before moving on!

One of the most common problems I have seen with DIY projects is things left undone. People get in way over their heads and don’t know how to finish. Or in some cases have run out of money or time; see #1 and #2. This is where those contractors, I discussed in the beginning, come in. They often charge a premium to finish started projects. But mostly, those projects will remain unfinished until more money and/or more time avails itself.

Project Scope Rule #1:

Stick to the plan! Once you’ve started a specific project; finish it before moving on to something else.

Project Scope Rule #2:

Seek professional advice. Ask questions! Plan, analyze, plan and plan some more before buying a single item or picking up a tool.

I know it’s tempting… you’re in the local home improvement store picking up trash bags and batteries and you see that great wood floor you’ve always wanted… and it’s on sale. Last week, on TV, you saw two people install it in two days. Its Friday night… you say, “Great! Let’s get it!”

Slow down, go home, and look at the scope of the project. Create a plan of attack. What has to be moved? Who’ll watch the kids? Do I have all the tools I need? What’s really involved in installation?

Some last words:

I advise all homeowners to stick with projects that involve finishes, (i.e. paint, wallpaper, flooring, counter tops, etc.) Never, ever do anything mechanical like electrical or plumbing unless you’re fully trained and confident in your abilities, and even then, have it checked by a professional when you’re done.

And…stay off your roofs!

The number one homeowner accident is falling off a ladder.

It’s always interesting to me that people scoff at the price a professional contractor charges for a particular task. Yet, no one questions paying a doctor $60-$100 for a fifteen minute office visit for a sniffle.

Another inside fact; professional contractors pay liability and worker’s compensation insurance that rivals the rates of malpractice coverage. When we do something wrong many people could be injured or die. The contractor’s inside “joke” is that a doctor can only kill one person at a time. If we build a deck wrong or wire an outlet improperly we put many lives at risk.

Please comment or email me with any questions… I’m at your service.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Will Someone Please Stop The Voices?

The Helper has left for his overnight stay at Nannie’s. I still have the Baby and much cleaning to tackle, but these voices in my head won’t stop!

“Daddy, can I have some more water?”

“Daddy, can I have some bread from the toaster?” [The Helper doesn’t call it ‘toast’]

“Daddy, c’mere, I have to show you somefin’”



This usually only lasts an hour or so, but today it seems to be lingering a little longer. Every time I hear a noise I turn around expecting a three foot whirlwind, but nothing. Suffice it to say my nerves may be a little frayed.

I will now resort to the only known cure… vacuuming! The sweet sound of suction will put an end to my delirium… or so I hope!

Wednesday What Nots #1

The New Theme Concept

Yes, that’s right, this is the last installment of LID’s new theme. Some astute readers have caught on that I like order, structure, and rigidity… in other words, a plan. I’m a builder… it’s an occupational hazard.

When I first started my blog, I read many, many others to see what was out there. I started mine with the intention of providing friends and family updates on my meager, dull daily existence. But, I was all over the place, from serious parenting issues to funny Helper stories. The five themes keep me on track and put things in their place. I like that! I need that!

Wednesday What Nots is a catch all category, from Helper updates to anything that strikes me at the moment. I will update throughout the day as things come up… they always do.

Thanks for all your positive support for the new theme concept. And, as always, thanks for reading. Remember tomorrow is Tool Box Thursday, no previews here, you’ll have to stay tuned… only because I’m still working on it… so much to post… so little time!

Helper Update

The Helper is leaving this morning for an overnight stay at Nannie’s. She hasn’t seen him in over a week and both of them are getting a little antsy. The Helper has also been bouncing off the walls… literally… remember the broken statue from the weekend? So, hopefully when he returns tomorrow he’ll be worn out… Nannie’s good for that!

The Baby and I will be alone today, which gives me a chance to CLEAN! Every time the Mommy has a day off I get behind on my daily duties. Not that I’m complaining, it’s just I like things neat, organized, clean… I’m a freak!

As breaking news happens I will update this post. I’m sure there will be some Helper related story in our immediate future… I can feel it in my bones.


Long Island Dad

Reality TV Junkie… all except for American Idol (though it’s growing on me) and the new Bravo TV shows. Love Hell’s Kitchen, The Apprentice, Survivor, Blow Out, Weekend Warriors… well most home improvement shows including the original… This Old House. I have every issue of This Old House Magazine.

The Helper

Only likes Coffee Ice Cream… Vanilla in a pinch but never Chocolate… it’s “dirty.”

Calmness is a state of mind, not a tangible, reachable goal!

Knowing the Helper as I do, I am sending him to Nannie's today wearing this shirt. I figure the subject of his energy level may come up... and this way his response is already out there for all to see. Yeah, I'm funny... and yes, my mother-in-law does have a sense of humor... she had five kids for goodness sake!

A Case of Doing Rather Than Saying...

Our friend, Angel, a.k.a. Drama Mama, posted yesterday that she is doing something about the terrible disease - Breast Cancer. *BIG CLAP HANDS* As you folks already know this is a subject that’s very important to Long Island Dad. I would have included this in yesterday’s link section, but alas, she posted after I was done for the day. Please check it out!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tuesday's Truth

What’s The Rush!

“… slow down and take a deep breath!”
-The Helper, 2006

In my 42 years of living in the vicinity of New York City I have become accustomed to the extremely fast pace of life in this area. It’s true, New Yorker’s want everything yesterday, but does that mean we have to sacrifice manners and common courtesy? What kind of example are we setting for our children?

Yesterday, I was making my daily run to our local supermarket (childless) to restock some provisions (chicken and carrot raviolis – the Helper’s main food staple.) I always try to use the self-service check out. I like this idea, I can check out at my own pace… quick! I can bag the items the way I want, so nothing gets crushed in transit.

While I was in the middle of scanning my eighteen piece order (no, I wasn’t on a twelve items or less line) a man gets on line behind me. Once I completed and paid for my order I walked to the end of the belt to bag my items, eighteen in all, should take about twenty seconds, right? Well, the man behind me steps up to the scanner and proceeds to start his order. Six two liter bottles of soda, start sliding their way down the belt and slam into my container of fresh baked rainbow cookies (a reward for, Mommy and Daddy, working so hard lately.)

Being a “rough and tough” New Yorker I needed to combat this blatant inconsideration with a stern response, “Excuse Me! A little patience, please, I’ll be done in a minute!” To which I received a “humph” and “snort,” …so much for civility at the supermarket.

It just seems that the life’s pace is ever increasing, for all of us. Whether by our own choice or external pressures, things are just moving way too fast.

I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am in no rush to sprint toward the finish line!

I will try to employ my four year old’s mantra stated above… he’s wise beyond his years.

And that’s The TRUTH!

This Week’s Links:

A selection of some great stuff that I’ve come across this week…

Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday Morning Quarterback - 1/29/2007

A Re-cap of This Weekend’s Trials and Tribulations…

The Helper has not mentioned his ear concerns since the initial crisis. Either I am a very effective parent with regard to building my child’s self esteem OR he has the attention span of a four year old...

The Mommy has been working nights since Friday. A difficult schedule for all involved. On Saturday, she left the house at 2:00 p.m. and returned home at 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning… only to have to go back to work at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. The children tend to take this in stride until the Helper decides he’s had enough, and then demands he go to work with Mommy. Things will improve tomorrow when the Mommy has a day off...

In an effort to give Mommy some time to herself, I took the Girl and the Helper out on Saturday (the Baby stayed home with Mommy…hopefully for a nap.) We went to the cellular phone store so I could get cases for our new phones. Then off to a fast-food lunch. The Helper loves his French fries. On the way home we stopped at the Pet Store for two new fish. The Helper insisted on Red ones. Remember folks, “Lighting McQueen” is red. The Girl was fine with this as long as she got to name them…Skittles and Goldilocks… though the Helper has his own name for them…Red.

The only casualty of the weekend was a “Willow Tree” statue called “Tenderness.” It seems that the Helper was running in the living room… that’s odd he never, ever does THAT! Ha! The statue fell from the shelf and the heads broke off. When asked, the Helper threw his sister under the bus faster than he can eat a Reese’s peanut butter cup… and trust me, that’s fast!

“Christopher, what happened?”

“Emily broke Mommy’s statue, she’s gonna be sad, you have to buy her a new one!”

[Look of shock and disbelief on the Girl’s face.]

“I think Daddy can fix the statue, Christopher, we don’t have to buy a new one.”

“Good, ‘cause Mommy’s gonna be sad, because Emily broke it.”

“How did she break it?”

“She was runnin’”

[The Girl only runs on the soccer field… and only when she has to.]

The ability to scapegoat one's sibling is learned so early these days...

That's all for this week's edition of Monday Morning Quarterback… Stay tuned -- as breaking news happens I will interrupt your regular programming for updates.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Elephant Ears?

Another reason being a Stay-At-Home-Parent ROCKS!

Job Duty # 56: Self-Esteem Builder.

Mama never told me there’d be days like this…

[The Helper runs into living room with hands over ears.]

“Daddy my ears are BIG!”

“What? No they’re not!”

“Yes they are…BIG like ELEPHANT’S!”

“Honey your ears are just FINE, they’re PERFECT, you’re PERFECT!”

“No, c’mon see, I’ll show you!”

[Leads the Daddy into his room, hops up on his bed, and looks in mirror, while pushing his ears forward with his hands.]

“See… BIG like ELEPHANT’S!”

“Honey, they’re perfect, you’re a very handsome boy, your ears are fine, Okay?”

“Okay.” [Not sounding too convinced]

A half hour later I go into his room, he’s laying on his bed holding two little story books against his head.

“Baby, what are you doing?”


Okay, this is just a phase. It’s one of those things that will go away once we stop talking about it. When pre-school age children discover their appearance, all bets are off, though it’s better with boys than with girls, I’ve found! We’ll see what happens today. You can’t make this stuff up!

Perhaps, he saw the news report, yesterday, that Prince Charles is visiting the U.S.

Do you think the Prince had a similar conversation with the Queen when he was four?

"Oh, Mummy, my ears are big like elephants."

"Yes, Yes they are my son... but you'll be King one day."