Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fall’s first fickle breeze

November.  Fall has arrived for real – even in Knoxville.  The leaves have finished their show of blazing colors.  And now they lay all brown and lifeless all over the backyard.

And in our backyard – it means a little more than in most.  You see – we have “a lot” of trees in our little back yard.  And when the trees decided to let go of their leaves – they end up laying like a brown blanket.  Completely covering our yard about a foot deep.

Leaving this “ultra thick” blanket of leaves on the ground is not an option.  Not when you’ve spent as much time and energy trying to get our feeble little amount of grass to grow.  If the leaves lay all winter – no grass will return in the spring.  So the leaves have to go.

It is far from “quick and easy” – and ‘The Dad’ will take the help of anyone who volunteers – no matter how old (or young) they are…

That's a lot of leaves!

“Dad?  do we have to move ALL of these leaves?”

We have a pretty good leaf blower.  And it does a really good job at the “clean-up” work.  But to move the big pile – a simple rake works best…

The clean-up crew

“Whew!  This is hard work!”

The clean-up crew

“Time to work on this side a little bit…”


The clean-up crew

“Looks like we are starting to make some progress!”


And to get around all of those “child labor laws” – we asked Mike how he wanted to be paid for his extraordinary leaf raking effort.  He decided that riding around in the wheel barrow (for an hour or so) would be considered payment in full.

Ride the wheel barrow

“Weeee!  This is worth every bit of that hard work!”

Happy Halloween

Ahhhh – Halloween with a nearly two-year old.  A time when you can still dress them up in cute little costumes – but also when they are a little more opinionated about it.

This year – we decided to dress Mike up as a skunk.  After all – aren’t all two-year-old boys really skunks at heart?  And we found this adorable “'Lil Stinker” costume.  It was fabulous!

Or at least we thought so!

We dressed Mike up in some black sweat pants and a turtle neck.  We got out the costume – just knowing that he would want to jump right in.  Turns out (as you might have already guessed), he was a little less enthusiastic about it than we were.

Mike in his turtle neck

“You want me to wear WHAT??!?!!”


“Listen guys.  I have a reputation to think about.  You wouldn’t understand…”

But all it took was a little persuasion.  A little from mom.  And a little from dad.  And in the end – he decided that it might be ok (and maybe even a little fun) to wear the skunk costume.


Skunk Mom

“See Mike – Skunks CAN be cute!”


Skunk Dad

“Skunks are such regal animals!  Real ‘lady getters’”!


Skunk Dad

“And being a skunk can be super awesome!”


After a few minutes of the shenanigans (well – ok.  Maybe it was somewhat longer than a ‘few’ minutes), Mike decided that being dressed as a skunk was at least worth a try…

Mike the skunk

“…I can’t believe I’m actually doing this…”

…and before long, we were all loaded up and headed to the zoo for “Boo at the Zoo”!  At some point, you have to point out the irony that we dressed our son up as a skunk and took him to the zoo to trick-or-treat.

...unloading at the zoo...

“Ummm – there are a LOT of other animals here.  You aren’t going to try and leave me here, are you?”


“Hey – I don’t remember these bats being here the last time I can to the zoo!”


We made our way around the zoo.  Saying “hi” to all of the animals that were still out.  And stopping by each and every booth o pick up our loot.  Of course, there was one booth that we ALL enjoyed stopping at.  Yes indeed – Krispy Kreme had a booth!

Krispy Kreme!

“Yummmmm.  Doughnuts!”

The trip through the zoo ended at the “Haunted Carousel”.  How did we know that it was ‘haunted’?  Because it went around backwards!

Mike on the Carousel

“Hey!  This thing is going backwards!”

And in the end – even though we were a little hesitant at the start – we can absolutely say that we had a fabulous time!

Mike the skunk

“Hey guys.  You were right.  Being a skunk was LOADS of fun!”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What are you doing in Indianapolis?

A lot of people by now have noticed that “the dad” has been spending a rather large amount of time in Indianapolis for the last three months.  So – what HAS he been doing in Indianapolis?

The short answer is “working on improvements to the Verizon Wireless network for the Super Bowl”.

But – this week, the media has began to descend on the area.  And Verizon has been hosting media events and giving tours of Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indianapolis Convention Center.  And – a couple of days ago, the first article (that I’m aware of) was published.

I found it to be a pretty good read.  It really is remarkable to see all of the preparation that goes in to an event like the Super Bowl.  And “the dad” is certainly proud to be a part of “the big game”.

To read the article – just click here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The logic of a two year old…

Just by the title of the post – you already know that I am not going to reveal anything earth shattering.  Anyone who is a parent of a child (who is at least two) certainly already knows this.  And for anyone who is not a parent – there is nothing here that will come as a big surprise.

But it’s funny none-the-less!

Obviously, two year olds are miraculous creatures.  In just a few short months – they have mastered enough of their “native” language to be able to communicate effectively – and for the baby sign language users – they have mastered two languages.  They have learned to navigate through their environment.  They have made monumental achievements in coordination and motor skills.

But logic?  Not so much.

Here are three prime examples of the logic that our two-year-old has…

Diaper changing has become quite the ritual at our house.  It starts normally enough.  Off with the shoes (if they were on to begin with).  Then off with the pants.  Then you try and take the diaper off.  That’s when the disagreements begin.  Mike begins saying “no mommy – no!” and raising his feet in to the air and squirming around.  And so it goes.  A minor disagreement to be sure.  But Mike is resolute.  You can ask him why he isn’t letting you change his diaper.  His answer?  “I’m taking my socks off”.  To which the logical parent replies, “but honey, you don’t have to take your socks off to change your diaper”.  And the response?  Mike will look at you as if you have a toe growing out of your forehead and says “yes you do mommy”.  So – for the last couple of weeks, we simply let him take his socks off (and he insists that he has to throw them on the floor) and diaper changes proceed smoothly.

And speaking of diapers – we’ve been introducing Mike to the “potty”.  He has taken to it pretty well.  He is curious when we go “potty”, and he seems to enjoy “putting pee in the potty” himself.  He is also excited about “drinking more milk because it makes more pee”.  So we are considering starting “potty training for real” fairly soon.  Especially since we had a “major” breakthrough this past weekend.

You see – Mike has one funny quirk when he goes to “sit on the potty”.  He has to be completely naked.  No socks.  No shirt.  Nothing but naked baby.  Why?  Two-year-old logic.  Our big breakthrough?  This weekend, Mike peed in the potty with his shirt on!  We are hoping that the trend continues.

The last little episode of two-year-old logic (man – I should save all of these.  In the 365 days that Mike will be two, I bet I could have 365 examples of “two-year-old” logic!).  This one happened while taking Mike up to his room for bed.  Remember – two-year-olds have no logic to begin with.  And when they are sleepy, they have even less (is there such a thing is a “negative” amount of logic?).  I was carrying Mike up the stairs to his room when in that sleepy whiny cry-like voice he says “I want down!  I don’t want to go upstairs any more right now!”.  So – I put him down.  And he immediately started crawling up the stairs.  “Where are you going, buddy?”  He turns around and looks at me with an expression that can only mean “DUH!” and says, “I’m going up stairs”.  Since this is what I wanted in the first place – I let him continue on up while I followed behind.  Halfway up the steps he turns around and looks at me with pleading eyes and says “hold me”.  And I thought to myself, “Hmmm – this is right back where we started…”

I’m sure that logic skills will come soon enough.  But until then – it’s fun to try and figure out what is going on in their little heads.  Who knows – perhaps they have it right?  I don’t wear diapers anymore – so I can’t try the sock trick.  But I do use the “big potty” – maybe next time I’ll try it naked…

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Only 3 months behind…

I know.  I know.  I’m still behind.  And at my current rate, the number of tales I want to tell will quickly outpace my telling!  But I promise – I’m going to work on getting caught up…

And it starts with a beautiful fall weekend in the middle of October.  The weather was perfect.  We hadn’t had the opportunity to go camping all year (the current arrangement of working in one state while living in another makes weekend camping trips fairly difficult!).

So – with a fabulous weather forecast and an extra day off – we loaded up the camper and headed to Norris Dam State Park.

Mike REALLY loves being outside.  And he REALLY loves wearing his jacket (both indoors and out).  And he LOVED his previous camping trips – even though the last one had been nearly a year ago.  So we were fairly confident that he would have a wonderful time.

And we were right!  It all started from the moment we arrived.  We backed the camper in to the spot and all got out of the truck.  Mike immediately started walking around the camper and studying various parts as if he was performing some sort of inspection.  After walking the entire perimeter, he declared that the camper was a garbage truck!

While “The Dad” finished setting up the camper, “The Mom” took Mike and the dogs inside to keep them all contained.  “The Mom” flipped on the satellite radio to the bluegrass station.  Yes – for you camping purists – our camper is indeed a rolling Holiday Inn.  Complete with stove, oven, microwave, refrigerator, freezer, shower (with HOT water), and – yes – satellite radio.

From the outside, “The Dad” heard what sounded like a thundering heard of elephants coming from inside the camper.  Turns out, all of that thundering stomping was Mike!  He was cutting a rug dancing to the Bluegrass music.  He absolutely LOVED IT!  And with that little discovery – the “Kids Channel”is now on MUCH less.  After all, “The Mom” and “The Dad” also prefer Bluegrass to “Kids Place Live”…

After camp was set up – Mike came back outside.  He walked out – took a few steps around – and with a very surprised look on his face he exclaimed, “It’s NOT a garbage truck!  It’s a CAMPER!”

And that set the tone for the rest of the weekend.  Lots of laughs.  Lots of fun.  And the best part?  We were all three together…

Mike in the tunnel

Mike decided that the chairs were his “tunnel”…


Mike in the tunnel

…and he climbed through his “tunnel” all weekend!


Mike with some dirt

“I need a little more dirt on this carpet…”

Mike and The Dad playing with cars

Mike and “The Dad” play with Matchbox Cars!

Mike playing with cars

“See daddy – this one goes like this…”

Mike playing ring toss

“Why throw the rings when you can just drop them on to the pole?”

Mike playing with some leaves

Pick some leaves up…

Mike playing with some leaves

…put them in the bucket…

Mike playing with some leaves

…and dump them on the carpet!

Mike with some dirt

Boys and dirt just go together.  The cool part?  Most of these cars belonged to “The Dad” back when he was Mikes age!