New House, same old family

On July 17th our family experienced one of the biggest moments in our family history, we moved. After twelve and a half years, we left our three bedroom one bathroom ranch home for a four bedroom, two and half bath, and two stories home. You could say it was a move many years in the making, but, more specifically it was two years in the making. We initially put the house for sale in the summer of 2016, but nothing came of it, well except immense, immense frustration.

When we put it up for this summer we didn’t do it with the bright eyed optimism as we did the prior year. In fact, we remained very low key about everything and didn’t even look at houses. The year prior we found like five house we would buy, but of course, couldn’t due to ours not selling. It was probably superstition when we took a totally different approach and as my first sentence indicated, it worked.

At roughly the month and half into living in our new house we couldn’t be happier. Each girl is happy in their own room and to their credit, have done an excellent job keeping it clean. Even Mia’s room is relatively straight and doesn’t have clothes all over the place, that is a huge upset. One of the brightest spots of the new house is the fact we don’t have to share one bathroom. I don’t think Shakespeare could find the right words to describe the joy of going from one bathroom to two and half. Not sharing a bathroom with my three slob daughters (I love them dearly) has made my life exponentially better. But again giving credit where credit is due they have done a good job of keeping their bathroom pretty clean as well.

As happy as we are in the new house and how necessary as it was for us to get a bigger house the experience is also a bit bitter sweet. I moved a lot when I was younger and it turns out the house we just moved from was the longest I ever lived in any house. We lived there for 12 years and six months, and in that 12 years our family grew. Cathy, Julia, Krypto and I moved into that house and Cathy, Julia, Mia, Olivia, Shadow, Roo and I moved out.

Julia was only a year and a month when we moved in so much like Mia and Olivia, it was the only home she ever knew. I also lost my dog Krypto, who I got when I lived in an apartment with my brother, came with me when I moved back in with my parents, moved with Cathy and I into our condo and finally into the home we just left. I always promised him a fully fenced yard, which I now have but he is no longer with us. I like to think Shadow is enjoying the fenced in yard for the both of them.

We also met a lot of really good people who will become lifelong friends. The nice thing is we didn’t move too far away and can maintain those great relationships. We are also closer to my brother and his family and in a couple of weeks my Mom and oldest brother will be moving closer. Not only did we upgrade to a bigger home but now will be even closer to family.

Another plus with a bigger house is the fact that sometimes we don’t even know the girls are around. I know that doesn’t sound like the fatherliest thing to say but it is nice. Sometimes in our old house there wasn’t enough room for us to just get away from each other, it seemed at times we were right on top of each other. Now when everyone is getting on each other’s nerves they can retire to their own rooms. Well, except for Cathy, unfortunately for her she still has to share a room with me.

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Father’s Day = Flag Day

If Mother’s Day is like Christmas than Father’s Day is like…..Flag Day. Let’s be honest Father’s Day just doesn’t have the cache or importance that Mother’s Day does, and really I am ok with that. If I were to disappear from my family tomorrow, it would be noticed, but my family would still be able to function at 85% efficiency. Now if my wife Cathy disappeared, the girls and I would be functioning at 20% efficiency tops. In my humble opinion Moms do deserve more recognition and accolades than Dads; I’m just saying maybe we should get an upgrade to Columbus or President’s Day level status.

This year for the third time in four years I spend my Father’s Day on a soccer field. My oldest Julia and her team the U14 Rancocas Valley United Premier were representing New Jersey in the Region I President’s Cup. They had previously won the New Jersey’s State Cup for the honor of traveling to West Virginia for the tournament. I don’t mind in the least bit spending “my day” on the soccer field for my girls. I mean nothing better than to be “fathering” on Father’s Day right? I am also the reason my daughter’s play soccer so there’s that.

The part of Father’s Day that wasn’t great was the eight plus hour (including stops) ride home. Recently, my wife was hit and her car totaled so we had to take my Ford F-150 with me doing all the driving (NSFW). I have no complaints about the truck but the Ford F-150 wasn’t exactly built to be the family truckster. ha0413-150057_1@2xThe worst part was the back seat has bench seating so my daughters where all sitting next to each other the whole ride, both to and from.

This was nothing if not a recipe for disaster, small enclosed space, three girls prone to bickering with each other and of course driving, lots and lots of driving. All in all the girls were clutch and didn’t make the ride as excruciating as I was expecting. I was expecting that they would kill each other and anything short of that would be an upset, but it was a lot better than that. Which reinforces my belief that I should always expect the very least from my daughters, so I can be pleasantly surprised.

I guess it is ironic that I celebrated Flag…Father’s Day crammed in a car with my children (and wife). Nothing like getting an overdose of your offspring on the day set aside to honor the fact you pro-created. Needless to say I didn’t feel honored, although the next day they did take me out to dinner. Ok my wife and I paid for it but they were there. The nice thing was, the seating was a little more spacious and I only had to drive like a half hour.

Dad and his four girls…..clothes shopping

I hate shopping for clothes. I have no fashion sense and usually have no idea what would look good. Many times I have to ask my wife if what I am wearing matches and usually depend on her to pick out the clothes on the rare occasion I buy them. I am so fashion inept that back in high school three of my female friends basically laid out rules on what to wear for me, what colors go with what and such. I remember checking that list many mornings before dressing for school. I went to a Catholic school mind you so my dress options were limited, but still too diverse for my fashion limitations.

But recently something has come to my attention, mostly due to Facebook. When seeing the “On this Day” posts I noticed no matter how far back it went I basically was wearing the same things I wear now. In fact, I still have the shirt that I wore in my and Cathy’s engagement photo in my rotation; that photo was taken in 2001. Throw in the fact that I was anywhere between 30 to 50 pounds heavier over the last 15 plus years and I needed a wardrobe update.

I decided to take action and buy one new shirt each pay period. That way 10 to 15 years from now I will be able to see these new clothes on Facebook’s “On this Day” posts and repeat the cycle. Last weekend we went to Kohl’s to get Julia and Mia new outfits for their National Honor Society inductions (subtle brag). It was a perfect opportunity to buy my new shirt for the pay period.

In theory the plan was impeccable, or at least so I thought. The flawed part of my plan? I had to go shopping with four other women. In fairness to my wife she did not do any shopping, it was the three little ones. Olivia didn’t have to get a new outfit for an induction but if you are getting the other two new outfits, well you’re getting the third one something.

I looked around and had two shirts found in under 10 minutes. I was able to get two $50 shirts for a total of $30, that is a savings of $70 (not so subtle brag). I was done, happy and after wondering around a bit to look at some other things, I met up the girls. At this point we had been there for twenty minutes. Olivia had found something and Mia was just wrapping up finding something, I figured we were in the home stretch, boy was I wrong.

I should have known going in the teenager would be the problem and boy was she. What she liked, Cathy nixed (as would I, most were things I don’t want my daughter wearing), what Cathy liked, Julia balked at. The whole experience was soul crushing, I had to fight the urge to just lie down in the middle of the store. I found a kindred spirit in Olivia who also found the whole shopping process just as excruciating.

I know things aren’t going to get better, I have many more devastating shopping experiences ahead of me. The hope is, at least for me, that I will be able to get out of most of these affairs. I cringe at the thought of when Mia hits the teenage years. She is already a diva, combine that with teenagerness (copyright pending) and God help us all. The positive? I will have four girls now advising me how to dress, which will be useful to a guy wearing clothes from 15 years ago.

I am the parent of a teenager

I have joined the ranks of a distinguished group, I now have a teenage child, more specifically, a teenage daughter. Last weekend Julia celebrated her 13th birthday, and although she has been displaying teenage traits for a while, it is now official. This coincided with having my suspicion confirmed that Julia knew there was no Santa Claus. Yes, overall it has been a traumatizing week.

Cathy told me that Julia had asked her how much Christmas cost. Cathy, using some quick thinking, responded that she didn’t know since Santa bought the presents. Julia’s response? “Come on Mom, how much did it cost?” Later in the week I asked her how long she knew and she told me about three years.

I have mixed emotions about her knowing “the truth.” Part of me is relieved because let’s be honest, a child can believe in Santa for too long. I’m all for the magic of Christmas and children being naïve but there is a limit to these things. Also, it is nice to have someone else in on the secret. I say put her to work, have her wrap presents, have her think of places to put the damn Elf on the Shelf.

There is sadness in the knowledge that Christmas will never be as good again for her. I like Christmas, even before I had kids, which renews the magic, I still loved the holiday. But let’s be honest, Christmas is never as good after you find out a fat guy breaks into your house in the middle of the night, leaves presents and steals some of your food. The same guy who for the other 364 days watched you while you were awake and slept.

Finding out about Santa Claus, or more specifically finally acknowledging she knew, is a small part of dealing with a teenager. She looks more like a woman and is almost has tall as my wife. Julia always thought she knew everything and it has only gotten worse with age. I think as a teenager her “know-it-allness is going to be excruciating.

For her birthday Cathy got her tickets to go see Twenty One Pilots,images

it will be her first concert.

I was 14 when I saw my first concert, Paul McCartney at Veteran Stadium. My little girl is now going to concerts. She is going with Cathy but soon, much like I did, she will be going with friends. Getting through that experience is something I am not relishing.

I know I have sleepless nights ahead of me. Every year Julia gets older I remember walking into her room when she was about eight months old. I asked her to promise me she wouldn’t get bigger because she is perfect. She kept half the deal, even though she got bigger she still is perfect. A huge pain in the ass, but still perfect.

India and Thanksgiving

First I have to thank my wife Cathy for guest blogging while I was in India on business. I had long wanted her to guest blog and the trip provide a great opportunity, and she did a fantastic job. Trust me when I say that will not be the last time Cathy takes over the blog and I hope one day to get the girls do some guest blogging. For now, though you are once again stuck with me and my ramblings.

My trip for India ironically coincided with the Thanksgiving holiday and it was very apropos (get ready for the sappy). Being away from my girls made me realize how thankful I am for them and how much I missed them. My boss, Nick, who has two girls of his own and I were talking how we couldn’t have a job that required constant travel because we couldn’t be away from our family that often. Almost the moment I left for the airport I was looking forward and imagining what coming home to them would be like.

Prior to the five full days I didn’t see them at all for this trip the most days I had ever been away from them was two full days. That happened twice, the first was a canoe trip I did with my friends, and the second was a business trip to Ohio. I also spent a day away from them when I had surgery on a bulging disc. Needless to say I don’t spend a lot of time away from my girls and I am grateful for that.

A week after being away from them was Thanksgiving and that trip was a reminder of what I am thankful for. What amazing feeling it was when I came home to see the happiness and joy on my girls faces. It was about ten minutes of pure joy and elation that made me feel great. Of course after that my girls were once again on the couch with their faces buried in their electronics. Kids are very resilient and IPhones and IPods are very attention grabbing.

Mom and her three girls day 5

A Husband Free Week –

Bet ya’all are wishing that I hadn’t committed to blogging the whole time he was gone!

The one good thing I can say is writing this everyday has given me something to do at night.  One would think that as the days go on it would get easier but I find that it is more challenging.  That is probably because I tend to keep a lot to myself.  I share tons of pictures & things about the girls but this just seems more personal, almost uncomfortable.

ANYWAY!

The morning was completely chaotic.  I realized that there was no milk in the house so had to run out quick this morning during the whole getting ready for school process.  Our mornings really don’t need any help getting crazy.  Side note, less than half of that gallon left this afternoon – Thanks Julia.

I worked in the office today.  Since I had to drop off the girls I was about an hour later than normal getting into the office.  This means I got the full 295 to Rt. 1 rush hour experience.  It’s not my favorite thing.

Super productive work day thankfully, it’s been a bit crazy this week. People seem to be hitting that end of the year panic with expenditure requests that require finance support.  I also had the chance to get Olivia her birthday present, good thing since her birthday is Friday!  Honestly, it was good to get out of the house for something other than soccer practice.

You know that Family Guy clip of Stewie saying “Ma, Mom, Mommy, Lois”?  That was my night from the time I picked up the girls until they went to bed.  NON-STOP.  Now I can’t really complain because there was no bickering but holy cow.

The award for most random “Mom” moment was Olivia’s unprovoked rant about Chuckie Cheese.  That girl has VERY strong feelings about that place.  She suggested that people could use a plate with Chuckie’s picture to scare people but if someone did that to her she would break it.

Mia’s “Mom” moments shockingly all made sense, but there were a TON of them.  Shockingly made sense sounds mean but Mia is kind of known for her randomness.  John wrote a whole blog about Mia being Mia… it’s not just a thing, anyone who knows her knows that its real.

Julia’s “Ma!” moments were all right before bed time.  She is the oldest so always the last one to say good night.  She seems to save every random thought from the day & hit me with all of it at once.

I will go to bed soon & at some point tomorrow John will begin his journey home!  Only two days left until he’s here J

Mom and her three girls Day 4

A Husband Free Week –

All the motivational types talk about “kick starting the day”.  I’m pretty sure they don’t mean getting woken up by being kicked super hard in the shin.  That is how the day started.

After that rude wake up things were pretty normal. Rushed around like crazy to get Jules to Chorus.  Yes, chorus is a before school activity. I dropped Mia & Olivia off at school and returned to the house to start my work day.

Shadow continued to be extremely clingy.  I was trying to take a picture showing how he was sitting over my head today & ended up with this….

shadow

The girls all seemed to have a good day at school & we only had one soccer practice so I was hoping for a good night.  Only a couple of incidents, Julia thinking she could argue her way out of doing what I say & Olivia having a sad miss Daddy moment.  Mia was really good & even tried to help Olivia feel better.

The highlight of their day was they got the chance to talk to John.  It was a short call, on speaker phone with all four of us on the way to the field but it was so nice.  We all agreed that we really miss his humor & hugs.

Olivia had practice, Julia & Mia were a bit wound up but for the most part it was in good fun.

girls

After showers & a soup/salad dinner they are all off to bed.  Only Mia is asleep so far, that girl crashes hard!

I’m not sure if it was the idea of a stressful morning or how loud the girl were when we got home tonight but my anxiety is super high.  I really hate that heart racing, inexplicably stressed feeling.  Hoping that it passes soon or its going to be a very long night.

Thankfully we are now half way through!  John will be home in 3 days & we can’t wait!