Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Only True Constant...

It has been nearly a year since my last entry and rather than say I'm turning over a new leaf with intentions to blog all the time (even tho it's true), I'll simply hope for the time and, more importantly, the will to stick to it. Quite a bit has come our way in the time since Avery has gone from 9 to 18 months and Abby finally got to see the Magic Kingdom of Disney World. Yes indeed, I feel as if the last year of our lives was much like Avery's mouth at Abby's skating lessons last night...crammed full of popcorn, and so stinkin' stuffed in there that I know there's no way she noticed the box of corn was half as big as she is. My mind was saying, "yeah there's plenty here...let's slow it down ." Anecdotally, it's somewhat comical to note that if my life depended on knowing the length of my 1 1/2 year old's arms, all I would need to produce is a standard-hockey-rink-concession-stand-size-rectangular-box of popcorn. I know the box is empty when Avery's shoulder dissappears inside it. I'm just glad she doesn't know that old maids are almost as good as the puffs of corn. Avery just thinks old maids are who shows up at the neighbors' house every Wednesday with bottles of something sporting Mr. Yuk labels. I just came up with a great idea...(yeah Mr. Yuk t-shirts) and...take home a couple of those popcorn boxes and tape them to Avery's torso once her arms are inside. Of course it sounds mean, so I'll just keep that idea in my back pocket until I really need to cut down on the hurricane effect she seems to have on the toys
in our house.

But back to my analogy...our lives have been as jam packed as her face was. Anna is still at home with the girls and has started a photography business with my sister, bravo! No, "bravo!" is not the name of the business, they named it Buckett Photography. 1 point for figuring out how the significance of the name, 2 points for figuring out the creative mastermind who came up with it. Abby is busy with school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Park night has taken a back seat to skating on Monday nights with Ella and of course there is dance on Tuesday nights with Kaylin. Avery simply obsesses over her battery powered toy puppy and marches to her own beat in regard to sleeping, eating and...well, everything. I am as busy as I've ever been, working retail hours at the TV store my dad and I opened. And that's why they say that the only true constant is change. (ok, so there's the baseline facts to catch me up when I look back on this in the future).

As I mentioned, our youngest is now a year and a half. And, as many of you know, along with those length-of-time-being-alive milestones often come doctor's visits. At these visits the first thing they do is weigh the kids and measure their height. Well, Anna and I always try to guess how much our kids weigh. Of course, we have to look at their previous weight and then guess how much we think they've put on. At Avery's 15 month checkup she tipped the scale at 21lbs 4oz. So how much does one guess when trying to figure how many pounds a 15 month old might add in a 3 month period? Well, I can tell you I didn't guess 4oz. Yep, Avery gained 1/4 pound in 3+ months. What? I think my iphone gained 5 or 6 oz in the same period. The other funny part is that if the nurse had come into the room to take us to the scale even 3 minutes later, Avery would have officially gained no weight between her 15 month and 18 month checkups. The diaper she filled moments after returning to the room had a payload of at least 4oz. Indeed, "everything comes down to poo". (Scrubs musical, look it up)

Forts Rule

I have no idea how or why it took us so long...but Abby and I made our first real good fort the other day. It all started when we took the cushions from the deck furniture inside before the huge snow storm hit. Normally the furniture would be covered for the Winter, but since our house is on the market we didn't put the covers on as to make the deck look more appealing. Hey, bonus for the girls and me since now we had big cushions to use in some fort building. Well, I distinctly remember building kickarse forts out of couch cushions when I was a kid. So, either I'm a worse fort builder now that I'm 31 than I was when I was 7, or perhaps my definition of kickarse has changed? I'm afraid the previous sentence isn't as rhetorical as I'd like. I thought about it for a bit, tried to arrange the cushions in a fort-like manner...fail. Tried again...fail, re-arranged them again resulting in some sort of maze looking design and then looked on the face of my four year old...fail. I was at a loss, how could cushions have made such great forts when I was young and now be so lame...even to Abby? Whatever, I said forget that and moved on to plan B. By this point I had lost the interest of my Abber Dabbers, so I was determined to make it up to her. I went and found a king size sheet and spread it out. By itself it wasn't big enough to do much with. Luckily Anna said she had a black backdrop that was pretty large in size...bingo.

I had this theory that to make the best roof, a piece of cloth would ideally need to be tethered from above and not supported from inside the fort. So, I did what any dad equipped with two garages full of tools, clamps, gadgets and junk would do...I rigged it up. My favorite part about creating this fort was that as soon as Abby saw what was going to happen, I had her attention again. It took about a half hour to get everything just right. I positioned a couple cushions in one spot to keep the daylight out; the roof and sofa did the rest. (I've included a picture for reference).

Abby was pretty excited...and we got everything completed just in time for Avery to wake up from her nap. What else was there to do but get some flashlights, toys and treats in there? My girls and I spent at least a couple hours playing, eating, singing and tickling each other in that fort. In all I think 16 inches of snow fell outside that day, and we hardly saw any of it. But it was a very pretty site when we finally emerged from our princess and puppy filled lair. That was a special day and I can't wait to try it again, of course we'll need to add on next time.

That's Barely Bread

I was lucky enough to have a guys vacation in January. A ski trip to Lake Tahoe was on the schedule for the better part of a year and the anticipation was almost as fun as the trip, well not really. But with all the planning, e-mailing, BS'ing about the upcoming trip, it really carried a lot of momentum through the preceding months. You know, that brings up a curious question about us as homosapiens in this day and age. I’m sure we’ve all experienced it, there’s something out there on the calendar...maybe it's a tee time, maybe it's a massage, or maybe it's a rendezvous with Julianne Hough. Whatever it is, by God we can trudge our way through the days/weeks/months leading up to that event no matter what crapstorm life may fling our way. It’s an innate ability in all of us, almost a sixth sense. If the event is something like a 4+ day vacation then that notion can keep you afloat for months. If I’m being honest, I can easily say I go about my days and weeks with a pretty darn optimistic outlook. I honestly can’t remember ever being down in the dumps or even playing in the bitter barn for more than a moment (maybe that sounds far fetched, but believe you me, it's da truth.) But somehow a vacation on the horizon makes even my days better. So my advice: get a trip on your calendar…Puerto Vallarta 2012, who’s with me?

So, back to Tahoe. My father-in-law (Fred) decided to do the ultimate good man-deed...book a condo in Incline Village and send out the bat signal saying, “I have a place to crash, so boys, buy your plane tickets and let’s go skiing and gambling.” Of course, for those who know Fred, I paraphrased and left out more than a few throat clearings, but the message was sent...and I heard it loud and clear. Staying true to form, there's a chance I may have taken a few liberties with Fred’s generosity.

I really only mentioned it once or twice while we were there, so it bears repeating. If I hadn’t made the trip and overstepped my bounds on inviting more than my share of guys, it would have been a pretty lonely week for Fred, Brian and Tyler. It certainly could be one of my faults, but I guess I'm just the type of dude who tries to make everything bigger and better...and this vacation was no different. I wanted this trip to be EPIC. So, I figured why not bring the total testosterone count from 4 guys to 8 guys? I mean the NCAA Tournament is now a field of 68. Come to think of it, maybe we'll do a play in game or contest to see who makes the cut for our 2012 ski trip to...TBD. In fact, I think one of the events will be sandwich making. And I can tell you who will not be a judge for said sammy making contest...one Brian Cristallo.

You see, my bro-in-law Brian and Fred arrived in Tahoe 3 days before the rest of us did. They got in some skiing, gambling and general merry-making before the amplitude was to be increased, and increased mightily. They were nice enough to do some grocery shopping before we arrived and picked up a gross of bread, a mass of meat and let's not forget, a heap of banana chips. The plan was to make some sandwiches to bring and eat at the mountain and avoid the $15 hamburger. Our first day brought us to Northstar. I made my own sandwiches the night before, prior to B's announcement that he would take charge and make sandwiches for everyone for the following day. He was walking around the condo taking orders, yes to this, no to that, "you want lettuce guy?" was said 7 different times. I'm here to tell you, it was a wonderful gesture.

Anyway, it was about lunch time the next day, and the 6 of us who arrived on Tuesday had just enjoyed our first morning of skiing. Thus, we had no idea what type of effort had been put into the lunches of the previous few days when just Fred and Brian dined together. So, we moseyed over to a table outside the chalet and whipped out the sandwiches from my pack. It was pure bliss...8 guys sitting around the chalet on a sunny day eating lunch, BS'ing about that morning and looking forward to the bulk of the trip still ahead. Only because I had made my own sandwiches and am clearly not the team player Brian is, I had to say it, and had no problem pointing out his one fatal flaw in sandwich creation. I do believe it was Johnny K who was first forced to endure the butt end piece from the bread loaf on his PB&J. Then another appeared, perhaps even on Brian's own sandwich. Between the bickering and insults it was at this point that I lost count, it may have been 2 or 3, but no matter the number it was too many. I mean c'mon man, the end piece is all crust. Not to mention they're about 3/4 the size of the rest of the loaf. You'd need to go Kobayashi and dunk it in a glass of water to soften those pieces up. AND, AND there was an entire loaf of bread still back at the condo...so it wasn't as if these were the last two pieces of "bread" on the block. Looking at the bright side, at least B didn't double butt somebody. So, much props and thanks to B for making 14 or 15 sandwiches...but leave the butt in the bag...and be ready to go at 8:15 next time...


  1. Another stellar post by ABGuy...always entertaining. Thank you.
    BTW, Brian does the crust thing at home too - I'm 99% sure it has something to do with how he was raised (never waste a crumb!)

  2. Your ability to pull your readers into the moment is awe-inspiring. :) I can't wait for your next blog. :) Keep it up, Mr. Brett!

  3. Those are pics from Cakes' phone. Pretty darn good for a phone...

    And thanks for the comments everybody, fun to read and they inspire me to do better each time.