Fog / Snow

While I was getting ready for work this morning, Susie came in my room. She looked out the window and could see a lot of white. It was really foggy.

Susie: “Is it snowing out???”
Me (sarcastically): “Yeah, it’s snowing in the middle of August.”

Julia walked by in the hallway at the exact right time to chime in. “It’s September” she said in a sing-song voice without missing a beat as she continued on her way.

Me: “MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!!”

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Sleepover

Susie’s friend Emma slept over tonight. I was heading downstairs about 10:00 so Pam asked me to tell the girls that they needed to get ready for bed. Not to actually go to sleep, just get ready.

They were watching TV with Julia. Susie and Emma were sitting at the breakfast bar and Julia was in the family room. I announced, “It’s 10:00, time to get ready for bed”. It was amazing the 3 different reactions.

Emma – Jumps off the bar stool. Doesn’t say a word to me or Susie. Heads directly upstairs to get ready for bed.

Julia – Either didn’t hear me or pretended not to hear me. No reaction at all.

Susie – Flailing. “It’s only 10:00!” “We’re having a sleepover!” “It’s summer!”

We get a lot of compliments on our kids’ behavior when they are at their friends. So I know there is a degree of saving your worst for home / being on your best behavior when out. But Emma was like a robot…especially compared to Sus and Jul. It really was amazing that she didn’t check with Sus or wait for her before she made her move to go up.

Blackout

We had a nasty storm pass through. The girls were freaked a little at first, but saw me continuing to eat dinner as if it was no big deal, so they calmed down. They actually wound up having fun the rest of the night when we lost power for a few hours. No electricity! Candles! This is different!!! Sometimes it doesn’t take much for them to get excited.

We made out OK. Some branches, leaves and small plants blown around, but no serious damage. Also, some people in Evesham – and my parents in Cherry Hill – lost electricity for days.

Ron Connors

Colleen’s dad died on Sunday. He was a good dude. I would see him 4 or 5 times a year at Dave’s house. He seemed like he should be gruff, but I always found him affable.

He had been sick for awhile. I think like 6 years. He had “one of everything”…heart attacks, cancer, COPD, emphysema, etc. Honestly, being a step removed, I couldn’t keep track. I do know that if he was a cat, he well out lived his 9 lives. He had a lot of reasons for his health issues. It was a combination of smoking, exposure to Agent Orange while fighting in Vietnam, and even possibly working in a commercial bakery (fine flour in the air all the time).

A couple weeks ago he had a stroke. We found out the night we went to Moms & Pops for Pam’s birthday dinner. Col wasn’t there. She was shooting us text message updates throughout the evening. In the middle of all that she managed to apologize to Pam for missing her birthday. She is too considerate.

He made it out of the hospital, but never fully recovered. He was weak and fell and wound up back in the hospital. He was then diagnosed with kidney failure, sepsis, and probably some more stuff. He only lasted a couple days more.

The funeral was on Wednesday. This was the first time that the girls were going to a funeral. They wanted to go to support their cousins. Pam and I were fine with it. We felt like they were old enough to handle it. At no point through his up’s and down’s over the last few years did we ever hide any info from them. We’re generally pretty honest with them about everything. I think kids are more capable of dealing than most people give them credit for. Plus, they know when something is going on anyway. We figured this would be a relatively good funeral to expose them to for their first one.

In preparation for Wednesday, I gave them a rundown of what to expect. The main thing I wanted to make sure they were ready for was the open coffin. I tucked in Julia first Tuesday night. Before I left the room – unrelated to anything – she asked me how many seconds there were in a day. I told her we would look it up tomorrow. “Go to bed!”

Next up was Susie. We talked for a while. We came back to a discussion of the open coffin. Good thing we did. She said she was envisioning something out of Indiana Jones. I’m not sure if she meant one of the mummified bodies or the guys whose faces melt off. Either way, I’m glad we got it straightened out before I left her because she probably would’ve been up all night.

After I left her room I figured I better go back to Jul just in case she had the same misconception. I popped open her door and she is sitting up in bed, reading light on and pan and paper in hand. “What are you doing?!?” “I’m calculating how many seconds there are in a day.” Little wacko!!! She asked why I came back. I explained Susie’s confusion. Julia, confused by Susie’s confusion, “He’s just going to look like he’s sleeping, right?”

I’m usually not really bothered by funerals. I don’t know if it’s because I never lost anyone I really cared for or if it’s just because my black heart inhibits me from having any feelings about anything. I remember being a little weepy at Grandmom Girgenti’s funeral. I was 14. It wasn’t because I personally felt a great loss – she wasn’t a warm person (as evident by the generic name “Grandmom Girgenti”). I think it was because I was envisioning my other grandmom dying.

Of course when my other grandmom did die 11 years later, I don’t recall being broken up about it. I knew that I would miss her – she was a great lady…I have lots of special memories with her – but I don’t remember crying at all. Maybe because she was very realistic about life and death. (I’m realistic too, but dammit, I want to live forever!) Maybe because my mom wasn’t outwardly upset. For the record, if emotions can be passed through hereditary, this is the family line that I can blame for me not having any. My mom has been nicknamed The Rock because she doesn’t break for anything. I know it’s a stereotype, but there might be something to the thought that Germans lack feelings.

Ron’s funeral pretty much played out the way I expected. Susie cried a lot, Julia didn’t cry at all (Rock v3.0), and I just took everything in a practical manner. But then Colleen got up to give the eulogy. It was awesome! She really did a great job highlighting interactions from his life. And it was…moving? I guess. What were these feelings I was having? I really got choked up, especially when she talked about moments her dad had with his grandchildren. I can’t believe I got upset. I was shocked, confused…and excited! Yay, I do have empathy!

The last highlight of the funeral was communion. It was getting close to lunch time at this point. Julia saw they were handing out food at the front of the line. She looked at me like “heyyyyyy, can I go get a cracker?” I should have let her go just to see how quickly Pam could pull her out of that line. I’m sure it would’ve been less than a second.

Here is Ron’s obituary:
http://obituaries.expressionstributes.com/?of=fb46357843

Sixers 2015-01-10

I went to the Sixers game tonight. I had bought Pops tickets for xmas. It was me, him and Susie.

Pops has been frustrated with the “tanking” and I genuinely think he really wants to pull back from rooting for the team. Despite that, he is willing to suck it up to go to the game with us. The family moment is more of a positive for him than all of the losing is a negative. I especially think he likes that Susie is into it. She is the only grandchild who likes the Sixers. When we dropped him off after the game he thanked us. I could tell how much the night meant to him.

Susie did something that surprised me with this game. A couple weeks ago she got invited to her friend Megan’s birthday party for the same night. I told her that I could find someone else for her ticket. She said that she’d rather go to the game than to the party! OK. My impression of 11 year old girls and their thoughts about their reputations is that a girl party is way more important than wasting a night with their dad and grandfather. But Susie had a different take. Going to the game with us was special. She sees Megan every day on the bus, in homeroom, around school.

Something else surprised me with this game…the Sixers won! They are terrible (6-29 coming into tonight) so the expectation is always a loss. But they kept it close and snuck out a win. And it was a fun game. Winning makes it fun. A close win is even better. And then throw in Tony Wroten’s alley oop off the glass to KJ McDaniels:

Wroten to Jakarr Sampson:

and Wroten, Sampson and Jerami Grant hitting back-to-back-to-back 3’s. That’s an exciting game!

One more thing. This was Susie’s fourth game and amazingly the Sixers are 4-0. Yes, these terrible Sixers will not lose when she is there. So I am starting this list to keep track.

2012-2013 Season (34-48)
February 1, 2013
Sixers 89, Sacramento 80

March 16, 2013
Sixers 98, Indiana 91

2013-2014 Season (19-63)
November 22, 2013
Sixers 115, Milwaukee 107 OT

2014-2015 Season (7-29 currently)
January 10, 2015
Sixers 93, Indiana 92

Fridge

This weekend stuff in the fridge started feeling less and less cold to me. Everyone kept telling me I was crazy…until Monday morning. Then – finally – people started saying “I think the fridge is broke”. I need to trust my hyper-sensitivity more because it’s normally right. And especially in a case like this. It’s much easier to deal with a failing appliance on the weekend then it is a weekday morning when we’re all rushing around for work and school. Anyway, we only needed to empty the fridge. The freezer was still working.

Monday night I called Pops to see if he knew anything about fixing a fridge. I didn’t think it was dead dead because the freezer was functioning. He said he’d come over Tuesday and check it out. Moms also jumped on the phone. She recommended I google it. I found this video on YouTube describing my problem and how to fix. Basically it was a problem in the freezer causing the fridge to not work.

Pops got nowhere on Tuesday during the day, so that night I figured I’d give it a shot. The thing was already broken, so it couldn’t get any worse. I started the repair by turning on the TV. One of the PBS channels was showing 2013 MusiCares Person Of The Year Tribute To Bruce Springsteen. OK, so I got a good soundtrack to work to.

Next I recruited Julia. I pulled out the bottom freezer drawer. Julia’s job was to transfer all of the freezer food to the outside freezer (where the fridge food was already moved on Monday). While she did that, I dismantled the freezer. After dismantling we got to the problem – all of the mechanics in the back of the freezer were frozen solid. Julia and I chiseled, and picked, and scraped. Every few minutes I would scoop up the ice and snow and transfer it to the sink. It finally got to a point where I felt like it was clear.

Before re-assembling the whole thing I decided to just put the freezer drawer in place. I wanted to see if the fridge came back before I spent all that time. So one last task for Julia – get a piece of paper and create a sign. “DO NOT OPEN! DRAWER IS LOOSE!” She taped it to the handle. It covered about 75% it. You couldn’t miss it.

By now, the Springsteen tribute was winding down. I had never seen a MusiCares concert before, but apparently the honored person gets to perform at their own tribute! Bruce came out and played “Thunder Road”, “Born to Run”, and “Glory Days”. 3 of my 4 favorites! (And the fourth – “Darlington County” – is way too deep of a cut to be played at something like a tribute concert so I wouldn’t have any expectations for that one anyway.)

The next morning…the fridge is working! Julia was really proud of herself. Moms picks up the girls on Wednesdays. Julia was bragging to her about being a plumber. Moms texted me later that she’s not big enough to have a plumber’s cracker.

That evening Susie was looking for something to eat. She decides to check the freezer…completely ignoring Julia’s sign. The whole drawer comes out. I reset it. Later Susie is looking again…and pulled the drawer out again. She can really be oblivious. So much for an un-missable sign.

Thursday Pops was here and called me to ask if I wanted him to re-assemble the freezer. I was going to do it this weekend, but since he volunteered I let him. I was talking to Moms that afternoon too. I predicted that there would be leftover pieces. When I got home the freezer was back together…with 3 extra screws. Oh well, it works fine without them.

Projects with Pops

Moms emailed me this week. She needed help with bookkeeping for Dave’s new company he is starting. I knew I wouldn’t be able to talk her through it on the phone.

About the same time, Susie decided she wanted to make some kind of rack that she saw on Pinterest. She asked me to get her a piece of wood…a scrap size that Pops probably has in his garage. So I figured it was a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

Sunday morning worked for my parents. Since Pam works on Sundays and we were going to be gone for a while, Julia had to come with us. So, since she had to come, she decided she was going to find some projects to do too – a bank made out of cut aluminum cans, and a “J” made out of broken crayons.

Julia planned her day around food. She purposely asked to be woken up late enough so that she wouldn’t have time to eat breakfast at home. I told her she can’t bother Grammy to make her anything because I would be busy with her. She said all she would need is a bowl. Apparently even cereal taste better out of the house.

We got there and it was even better than she could’ve anticipated. Pops immediately said, “Let’s go!” and took the girls to Dunkin Donuts. He had a Gift Card from work burning a hole in his pocket. They got donuts and coffee!

Moms and I stayed back and worked. They came home and did their projects. I think Pops got a kick out of helping them and just the fact that they wanted to do projects that required his help…not just arts and crafts.

We all wrapped up just around noon. This, of course, led Julia to exclaim, “Let’s stay for lunch!”

Susie’s Middle School Schedule

Susie is in 6th grade this year, which in Evesham is the first year of middle school. She goes to Marlton Middle School (MMS). The middle school day is significantly different than the elementary school day. Not only is there the changing of classes and the different halls, but the start time is much earlier.

The night before the first day of school Sus started crying. It’s not that she was scared of the new building, or new kids or new schedule. (Well maybe it was those things a little.) But what she expressed to us was that she was sad because she wasn’t going to be in the same building with Julia anymore. They had been together at MES since she was in 1st grade and Jules in Kindergarten. Not only that, but because of the day starting much earlier they wouldn’t even see each other in the morning. Susie’s bus comes at 6:45. Julia doesn’t even need to wake up until 7:00.

The first day, Julia set her alarm for 6:40. She wanted to make sure she was awake to see Sus off. Such a sweet little sister. The next days she was able to calibrate the time so that she could wake up to the minute needed to wish Sus a good day. Then they worked it out where Sus would just wake her. This went on for a couple weeks.

The girls picked up a new activity in the fall. They were acting in Voorhees community theater production of The Music Man. As the show got closer, rehearsals went later into the evening. Julia started dragging during the day. We had to put the kibosh on her early morning wake up to squeeze an extra 15 minutes of sleep for her. The show is over, but she still sleeps until 7:00. I think Susie was in a good morning rhythm without needing to see her sister anymore anyway.

As part of that rhythm Sus and I have one crossover in the morning. I come up from the basement gym at about 6:10/6:15 and she is at the breakfast bar eating. Sometimes if I’m a little late and/or she’s done a little early, she’ll race over so that she can walk back upstairs with me. It’s nice but I actually like when she’s not ready to go up better. I’ll start walking upstairs and she’ll turnaround from her from stool at the breakfast bar. Then we’ll exchange a series of waves and blown kisses until I’m out of sight. At the point where I mostly can’t be seen I’ll reach my hand down to give her one last wave.

This weekend Pam and I were catching up on an episode of Bill Maher after we tucked the girls in. Five minutes later Sus came down for something. On her way back up the steps she waved to me and I waved back.

Douchebag

Susie needed help studying math tonight. We went upstairs to find a place that was quiet. She asked for me to prepare some word problems like the ones in her textbook. Each problem took a few minutes to solve, so there was quiet down time between me asking and her answering. After a few problems, she broke the silence with a question.

Susie (in softest, most innocent voice): “Daddy”

Me: “Yeah, baby?”

Susie (still soft): “Can I ask you a question?”

Me: “Of course, baby.”

Susie (still so sweet and innocent): “What’s a ‘douchebag’?”

I laughed endlessly at this point. It really took me a while to compose myself. I’m not sure it would’ve had the same impact on me if it wasn’t for the setting and tone.

Oh, and for the record, when I finally did pull it together, yes, I did answer her.