Monday, January 30, 2017


I'm still trying to figure out which one is the candlestick maker!

Thursday, January 26, 2017


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Rainy Weekend

It feels as though it has been raining since we got back from Florida. I know that's probably not entirely true, but the weather was foul this past weekend: grey and overcast, misty when it wasn't downright raining a cold January rain.

This winter has been warm. Relatively speaking. I guess we shouldn't complain, but at least snow is pretty. I'd take snow over cold rain any day.

I know I start many posts commenting on the weather. Believe me, in describing this past weekend, that's probably for the best. I've been spending the past several weeks at work getting ready for Inauguration Day.

Thursday was surprisingly busy. It was the last day of the outgoing administration. My boss gave my two fellow staffers who drive to work the day off -- thinking it was going to be slow and thinking they would have trouble navigating the maze of road closures. He was right on the second point, at least. I ended up working over 12 hours, opening the office at 6:00 a.m. and finally walking out the door a little after 6:30 p.m.

Me and the kids were off from work and school respectively on Friday, and we spent most of the day helping Elise get ready to go to the Women's March on Washington on Saturday. After running to the camera store for film and Target for a battery to recharge her cell phone, we headed over to Lauren's house in D.C. where Elise would spend the night before heading down to the National Mall early on the red line.

All I wanted to do was get drunk when I got home. Thankfully, the beltway was quiet and I made it home in time to get the kids in bed and watch a sci-fi movie. Fortunately, I didn't wake up with too much of a hangover. Try explaining that to the kids. I let them watch cartoons while I ran on the treadmill. I recently discovered that I run at least 30 seconds per mile faster when I listen to music and cranked up the FloRida.

Periodically throughout the day, I checked Facebook for updates from the march. I decided to take the kids to a trampoline place since it was raining. As we drove out to Manassas, we passed the Vienna-Fairfax metro station on 66. The digital sign on the highway said the metro parking lot was full. Come to find out, it would be the second-busiest day ever for the metro rail system. Elise didn't report any problems getting into town, but she would tell me later she had to bail on the train coming back out of the city as she started to get a panic attack for the crowded train.

I paid $16 per kid to let them jump on trampolines for an hour. I had to buy special "trampoline socks" at $2 a pop, too. I didn't know there was such a thing as trampoline socks, but I didn't argue. The socks were pink (which seemed appropriate given the circumstances) and had rubber mesh on the bottom. They reminded me of gardening gloves. Anyway, it was the best $55 I spent that weekend, not knowing who the jumping was more cathartic for: them or me. We arrived at 11:40 and the kids jump in block of 60 minutes which start on the half-hour. We could start right away, but we would lose 10 minutes of jump time, so we decided to wait 20 minutes before starting. We sat on the bench and watched the scoreboard clock count down like the waning seconds in a basketball game trickling out of the bottom of an hourglass, until the clock struck 12:00:00, and the kids launched themselves from the bench and onto the trampolines. Watching the pure joy on their faces as they first took to the trampolines was the therapy I needed. It swept my mind away from all the other surreal nonsense that was happening in the real world. Shit kids don't care about or need to know about. All they cared about at that moment was jumping, and all I cared about at that moment was watching them jump, feeding off their joy like a vampire drinking the lifesoul out of one of its victims.

The kids spent a lot of time at the basketball hoop where you can jump on a trampoline and try to dunk the ball. There, I learned Sam has a wicked outside shot.

After jumping, we stopped at Chipotle for tacos before heading home. I ate a 2,000 calorie burrito and needed a nap, so Clementine and I curled up under the sheets of our stripped bed and fell fast asleep while the boys read.

When I got up, I checked social media again. I was watching history. Elise was making history! I knew something momentous was happening. I got goosebumps reading the headlines. I finally received a text message from her around 4:00 saying that they were headed back to Lauren's house. Two hours later, she still hadn't arrived, but she would soon and we would excitedly hop back on the beltway to hear how it went.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Great Pokemon Heist

I believe much has been written about the kids' infatuation with Pokemon. Elise and I relate it to an addiction of sorts. I never collected or traded baseball cards, so I don't know if the pastime is similar.

Because the cards are used as pieces in a game, some have more value than others, i.e. inflict more damage or have more life points than an opponent's card. The cards are sold in packs of ten, but you don't know which cards are in the pack when you buy it. The pack may hold an extremely rare Mega Charizard EX which inflicts 150 points damage. Or -- perhaps more likely -- the pack holds a bunch of mediocre cards you already have.

This set-up leads the kids to continually beg us to buy them new Pokemon cards even though they already have a zillion, more than you would ever need to actually play the game. I didn't quite catch on to this at first. I enjoyed the Saturday or Sunday sunny afternoon outing of riding our bikes to the local comic book store. I would pull Clementine behind me in the trailer, and Peter would scoot along the bicycle path on his scooter until we had to cross Broad St.

I would happily buy them a $5 pack of Pokemon cards and peek at a few of the new titles in the comic book section. I used to read comics voraciously. All the way through college, until such a time when I couldn't keep up with the number of titles I wanted to follow. Falls-offs in the quality of the writing on two of my favorites titles caused me to quit the habit all together and divest myself of most of my comic book collection, several very heavy boxes packed with comics. I only kept my Uncanny X-men. I have almost the entire run and am keeping them to pass on to the kids when they are old enough.

So, I guess what I'm saying is I was an easy target. Whenever they asked me to go to the comic book store, I would enthusiastically agree.

News of the boys' love for Pokemon cards quickly spread throughout the family, and they received tons of new Pokemon cards for Christmas. Uncle Dave showered them with new cards when we went to Florida to visit family a week or so ago. We had to run into Target on Friday, and I took the kids to look in the toy section. Peter begged me for new Pokemon cards. I told him he had just received new cards from Uncle Dave.

He was of course devastated.

We don't have very many coloring books in the house. On occasion, Peter will ask me to print out coloring sheets for him. This is either an indication of how cheap I am or that I am a genius.

When we got home from Target, he asked me to print out Pokemon cards for him. It seemed like a harmless request. Especially considering I hadn't let him buy any new ones.

He asked me to print him Mega Charizard EX, the aforementioned extremely rare card that I saw for sale at the comic book store last night for $160. Without thinking, I googled the card, surfed to the page, hit print, and walked out of the room, leaving Peter waiting at the foot of the printer for his card to print.

I went back to folding laundry. A few minutes later, Peter came in and showed me a perfect forgery of a counterfeit Mega Charizard EX card.

He had cut out the card I had printed and put it into a plastic sleeve he had bartered for at school. I looked at him disbelievingly. The card looked real!

I told him, probably more sternly than I intended (and trying to hide my amazement at his creativity and pride), "Petey, you can't trade this at school."

I was picturing Peter swindling one of his classmates out of one of their very good and very legitimate cards.

"Petey, you can't even play this against Sam."

Envisioning the next likeliest scenario wherein he tries to beat his brother in a match with his new all-powerful card.

I was impressed. But I couldn't show it. Was I raising a diabolical genius?? A super-villian at seven???

In his defense, he felt bad. He crumpled up the card and eventually threw it away. I didn't mean to make him feel bad, but perhaps it was for the best.

I know there are many life lessons I am not yet fully prepared to teach. And that I won't be able to predict all the parenting challenges we will eventually face, but I honestly didn't think I would have to tell my first-grader that what he had essentially done was called counterfeiting and that it was wrong.

All while hiding a smile. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Friday, January 6, 2017