Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Jake the Snake's" MoJo is . . . "GGGGGREAT" for the Lions (even if Tony the Tiger said it!).

OK - let's be clear here . . The Detroit Lions are one of the oldest National Football League franchise. History has seen the Lions as both great and well, for the majority of my 42 years on this earth, horrible. But . . thanks to a creative, thoughtful, intelligent and insightful eleven year old boy, things are (as Bob Dylan sang) "a change'n".

We can all play the little game of "why" the future looks bright for the Lions and well, maybe, drafting Matt Stafford, Javid Best and Ndamukong Suh has "helped" the cause - a little. But, I for one, know that the real cause for the new "sunny" forecast for the Lions (in addition to the win over the Amazingly talented and highly respected, Cleveland Browns on the 28th of August (Lions 35, Browns 27)) is due first and foremost to the game changing pre-season tradition brought forward by "Jake the Snake"! Yes, were it not for his ingestion of "Lion's Kick Off Crunch" and the prayers, wishes and dreams laid forth to the football God's (all hail Vince Lombardi and those who have hoisted his trophy) the Lion's would not have such a rosy outlook as they approach this season!

Yeah - deny the power of a boy and his dream!

"Snakeman" - Jacob Matthew Reagan Sweat . . With his magical "Kick-Off" Crunch!

Notice: No commitment to victory or future winning is predicted and or anticipated by this writer. This prose was crafted with the full intent of offering forth one of the few viable services this writer may possess - sarcasm. The reader would like to remind everyone that at the end of each day the team wearing the Honolulu Blue, Silver and Black are still owned by William Clay Ford (no offense intended - in fact, I own a Ford and Mr. Ford if you somehow hear about this entry - I think you are a great owner who has had misfortune since you purchased the team in 1964 and that such misfortune is neither something you could control or something you caused. In fact, Mr. Ford, may I say . . if you are searching for a personal valet or any other underling role within the Ford Dynasty . . please feel free to contact your humble servant at the blog) and are still . . The Lions.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The "Trifecta of Terrible" (or just ironically funny)

Ya know, I am pretty happy with my life right now. I am employed at a facility that I believe in the message and mission of what we do. I am working (kinda - but not too hard) to lose the weight I have gained in the last nine months. I have gained some really wonderful friends over the last nine months and have reconnected with some terrific people that I knew in childhood (btw: Ronnie - got your message, your right and I honestly take your advice - have not had time to respond but I will - thx you, sir). Although I did not think it possible I have grown to adore my children even more (although I still wish I could see them more often). I am looking at graduate school and am committed to ensuring that I enroll. With the help and guidance of others I am at peace with where I am in life and where I would like to be heading. I have accepted responsibility for my actions without equivocation and have asked for forgiveness from those I have hurt. I am, I pray, headed in the right direction and although I know it will be a bumpy ride from time to time it is still the right direction. Then . . . it happens! Those events that let you know - yeah, the "goodness gods" still want to mess with you and just like celebrity deaths it comes in three's! (OK - yes, I am being funny and sarcastic - don't read into it!).

First, over the last few weeks at work one of my co-workers has been enjoying building a world and life for "Crockey" and his family. "Crockey" is a crocodile that, I would assume, was born in a toy factory (most likely in China) and migrated to the states to raise a family. Sadly, Crockey was "Crocknapped" and a ransom note was sent to the owner along with elaborate instructions. Thankfully the reptile has been returned. However, the issue here is that somehow I have been made a suspect in this devious adventure! OK; I admit that I am a bit of a prankster but - in the words of "Shaggy" - It wasn't me! Although, I do enjoy hanging out with "Crockey" - I would never stoop so low to rip a father from his family - geez, cut me some slack, people!

Me and "Crockey" in better days when I was not a suspect in the "Crocknapping" caper!

Now putting the whole - "rubber reptile for ransom" thing aside the second thing was the near loss of "freaky chimp" (to be referred to as "FC" from this point forward). Jacob managed to con me into (no, it wasn't that hard) getting him this little chimp that has light up eye's and makes a really odd and scary noise when it's button is pressed.

Jacob was enjoying "FC" (to the dismay of others) and while we were spending some time walking through downtown Dundee after dinner he decided to have a seat with "FC" on a park bench. Sadly, "FC" is very skinny and his (or her) butt was not big enough to maintain an upright seating position and "FC" fell through the bench and into the storm drain. (OK - yes, my first reaction was; "awww, sorry Jacob" all the while quietly and silently singing in my head; "Ding, dong the chimp is gone, the chimp is gone, the chimp is gone, ding dong the freaky chimp is gone"). Sadly, my euphoria of only lasted a mili-second as Jacob then looked at me, nearly in tears and exclaimed . . . "you gotta get him back"! The only think that would have made this moment any more like a Lassie movie would have been if he had included, "Pa" at the end of his statement. So, of course . . . I grabbed the storm drain and (thankfully) was able to pull it off and rescue the creature that I don't like; yeah me!

Then it came time to encounter the third thing that would make up, the "Trifecta of Terrible". Earlier in the summer I picked up a pool for the kids and put it on my back deck (concrete - don't stress) so everyone (yes, including me) could stay nice and cool. The first pool did not work out too well at my house as it was too big and decided to run, actually, roll away - rolling off the deck and down the hill toward the creek that runs behind my house! (Yes, it's funny - NOW - at the time, not so much!). So, I packed that one up and sent it to stay with the kids at Mom's house as the backyard there can accommodate it. I purchased another pool that has been wonderful till now.

The problem, really, isn't the pool but maybe me in this case. I have made it a habit of feeding the birds and cats that are in the area (OK - I live out in the country and there are cats - not mine, maybe not anyone - I don't know . . but, Hannah and I like watching them (actually, Hannah likes watching them and I like watching her) so I have been feeding them - clear enough?). Creating this "animal" haven has cost me and is the third in the trifecta. How is that, well, one of the local critter's must have needed a drink and thought that the hose to the pool was a nice place to get water! So, when we arrived home I found the pool draining out the hose from the "bite marks" left! Thanks - whomever (or whatever) you are!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sometimes . . . It's a Jungle in here . .

WOW - the last week seemed like it would never end and that I would never, ever, get to the weekend to see the kids. I don't think that I set an agency record for the week at 97 hours but I am pretty sure that I am close to my own personal weekly record, although I have never kept track. As soon as 3:00 pm on Friday the 13th rolled around I was in the car and headed east to pick up the kids.

I have missed them so much that seeing them, holding them and hearing them talk honestly made me want to cry. All I could think about was how wonderful they are as children and how much I have missed them.

We started our weekend (13 - 15 August) off with what has become normal fair; picking up snacks and supplies at either Wal-Mart or Meijer. While picking up snacks we spent some time discussing our plans for the weekend and what they may want to do on top of that. Knoah was excited about his Thomas the Tank Engine toys and wanted to talk only about "Thomas". This was fun for a while but after about 45 minutes of shopping and talking about Thomas it was time for a distraction and thankfully, Jacob found one. Jacob became enamored by a Dr. Scholl's insole diagnostic machine in the pharmacy isle as we searched for body wash. Knoah, not being one to really like being left out, demanded that he be allowed to try the machine and figuring that it would end the Thomas talk for at least a few minutes I figured why not! It worked as Knoah spend 10 - 15 minutes standing, jumping, walking and at one point I think talking to the machine! Best part was that seemed, as he normally does, he gains the attention of others as the, "cute little boy" worked hard to get the machine to tell him what insoles he needed!

We had "kind of" agreed that today's shopping experience would not turn into, "hey Dad, can I have this toy?" and we mostly stuck to that. Jacob did however ask really nice (yeah, it worked) if we could get the movie, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" so we did pick that up along with the film Igore. Knoah fell in love with a little green backpack and so that become his (OK, this purchase was justified as being three going on four he would really "need" this for school - right?). Hannah for her part only wanted a "Hannah Montana" book bag and well, as Jacob had the movie and Knoah a book bag - yeah, she got that for her.

Dinner became the next priority and so we moved to eat. Eating is difficult with the kids because they are very picky and at times do not want to go outside of this little comfort zone that they have (Mac N Cheese, Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Noodles, Chicken). Not wanting to make a big deal of it I let them pick the restaurant and they decided on Bob Evans. I don't know if I would call myself a big Bob Evans fan but I guess it works. The best part, for me, was that we could sit at the table, talk, sing, get loud, color our place mats and even share our food and it did not seem that anyone in the world cared. Of course, I can't say that I would have cared if somebody would have been bothered!

After the meal it was off on that westward trek of an hour or so to my house. Once home we all agreed that we would watch a movie and then turn in for the night. Well, everyone except Knoah who was asleep long before we arrived and needed to be carried to bed. So, Hannah, Jacob and I settled into watch "Diary of a Wimpy Kid". Jacob has become a huge fan of the books over the last couple of years and I was more excited to watch his reactions and to hear him tell me about how, "that's in the book" (along with which book). But, I do have to admit that after watching the film I was surprised at how good of a movie it was. The story, if you have not seen it, is an awesome testament to friendship and one that I am sure we will see at least 200 or 300 more times! The movie also provided what became the weekend tag line; "Cheese touch"! (watch the movie and you will get it).

I had the kids turn in around 9:00 as it was a weekend (meaning they can stay up about an hour later than normal) and then I fell off soon after that. I woke up several times during the night and could not help but sit and look at the three of them as they slept. It is amazing isn't it, your children? As I looked at the three all I could think of is how wonderful and perfect they are and how blessed that I am to have them call me Dad. Knoah at one point seemed to be having a bad dream and as I put my hand on his chest to comfort him he grabbed it, holding it there and then drew in a deep breath and exhaled heavy. It was something that made me smile then and writing this now makes me smile.

Saturday morning came early as Knoah seemed the need to get up at 6:45. Honestly, I was fine with that as it met that I would get a chance to play with him and get some coffee. We played on the Thomas table for a while and then Knoah ask that I read him a story from one of his Thomas books. Four books later Hannah rolled into the television room and asked for breakfast. The three of us then played for a bit longer and discussed our options for the day.

I let them know about a place one of my co-workers had told me about in Ann Arbor called Jungle Java and asked if they might be interested in going there. Neither had much interest at first so I decided to "up the ante" and pulled out the Internet and Jungle Java's website - with full color pictures at which point Hannah was ready to wake Jacob up and leave now! Thankfully, he woke within a few minutes anyhow and joined us for breakfast.

We discussed the order of today's events and they were; play, chores (help clean out Beardsly and the Pigs), play, shower, have lunch and then head to Jungle Java. All went off without a hitch - until it came time to shower. Jacob and Hannah are doing very well with showering and I am proud of them. Knoah, lets just say that he is not so easy. Saturday proved to be extra hard as he was growing tired after getting up so early. Normally, I shower with Knoah (BTW; he showers simply because I do not have a bathtub), helping him scrub up and then we move along. This was the case on Saturday and after helping him wrap a towel around himself I sent him off to my bedroom where I planned on joining him just a few seconds later, after I had rinsed off. Sadly, this was not to be as Knoah found the eleven foot walk from the bathroom to the bedroom too much to manage in his current state so he simply collapsed in the doorway - wrapped in his towel and all!

I was able to get Knoah dried, dressed and loaded into the car without really waking him (and yes - I even got his trademark "Mohawk" done without disturbing his slumber), knowing that the 45 minute drive would give him a decent nap and that once we arrived at Jungle Java he would be ready to go.

I was as much excited to see the place as the kids were and once inside I was not disappointed! Jungle Java is really just an indoor play scape for children. It is similar in a way to McDonald's play land however the equipment is much nicer and the focus is more on interactive play than on simply "running around". I was also impressed the the menu which included healthier food options than McDonald's and considering my current desire to lose weight I really liked this!

Jacob and Hannah quickly found "friends" that they could play with and Knoah and I made our way into the play land for some fun of our own. After about an hour in the "toddler" area Knoah wanted to venture into the tree house and large play land. Jungle Java encourages parents to "go play" and frankly, I did not need much more than that so Knoah and I were off into the large play area. This was fun but after running into Jacob a couple of times it became obvious to me that I was "cramping his style" of play as he was "holding court" with some new friends so Knoah and I moved into another section to play. Thankfully the play area is "HUGE" and includes; slides, zip lines, foam obstacles, a rope bridge, tree house, net bridges and tunnels and of course areas to simply "sit and play".

Knoah on the "Lilly Pad's" at Jungle Java - he and I had fun playing "frog".

Part of the "Upper Play Area" at Jungle Java.

The Tree House at Jungle Java - yes, it is as cool as it looks!

Mr. No Fear - tackles the entrance to the toddler play area!

It really turned out to be an amazing place and a great find (thanks, KO, for telling me about it and we are thinking about trying "Glo - Putt" next week!) that the kids could not stop talking about during the entire ride home. We decided to make it to the house to watch the film, Igore, which meant that Knoah (as we were driving) would be asleep! We closed Saturday with a film and then all fell asleep watching Igore - a perfect day!

Sunday was pre-planned for us, in many was as we needed to finish laundry (yes, I think it is wrong to send the kids home with dirty cloths) and then make it to the Clinton Theater in time to see "Despicable Me" at three.

The movie was really wonderful and as a Dad, I have to tell you that the transformation the main character goes through is so very true and also so very wonderful to see played out.

After the film we returned home for an early dinner and to also pack and prepare for the drive back east. Being at the house gave us some time to play as a "family" and we deiced to use that time playing on the train table.

Knoah and his "Thomas" table.

Jacob playing with Knoah and Hannah.

Hannah playing with Jacob and Knoah.

Thankfully the drive was uneventful and we were able to listen to some music that the kids love - The Ramones! (yeah, I think it is cool as hell that my kids can sing along with; "I wanna be sedated", "beat on the brat" and "blitzkreig bop" - and?). I know I will miss them this week but that's alright because in just four short days I will get to hold them, talk face to face and play with them again! What a great weekend.

Jungle Java's Website:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Week of living . . . at work . . .

The kids were with Grandpa Frank from the 5th to the 8th of August so I figured now was the time to pick up some "extra hours" at work . . So, my schedule became:

Thursday 5 Aug - 16.5 Hours
Friday 6 Aug - 16.5 Hours
Saturday 7 Aug - 16.5 Hours
Sunday 8 Aug - 10 Hours
Monday 9 Aug - 16.5 Hours
Tuesday 10 Aug - 16.5 Hours
Wednsday 11 Aug - 16.5 Hours
Thursday 12 Aug - 16.5 Hours
Friday 13 Aug - 8 Hours and then pick up the kids! !

Totaled more than 97 hours this week! Yeah, it's a bit psychotic but what the heck. I was able to call the kids everyday - too bad Jacob did not keep his phone with him, but they got my voice mails and I FB messaged them everyday so that they knew they are in my thoughts and that I missed them.

What a week . . . and it will all be worth it come Friday afternoon at 5:00!