Tuesday, August 30, 2011


August 30, 2011

How is your relationship with your mother?  I am speaking to the women here as there seems to be some dynamic in the mother/daughter relationship that us men cannot understand.  Last night it was on display in two separate, yet similar ways for me.

Beth and her mom have the kind of relationship in which Beth's mom has always played a mind-controlling game with Beth.  She knows that Beth will try to make her happy and do whatever she can for her, but her mom uses it in a way that seems like she was always jealous of Beth liking her dad more. 

In case you are wondering if I am worried the my mother-in-law may stumble upon my blog, uh, no.  She can barely use her home phone without getting Beth over to the house to explain it to her.

So once again Beth tried to play the part of wonderful daughter by inviting her mom to CJ's band practice last night.  The marching band practices every Monday night from 6:30-9 and usually goes through their whole routine around 8:45 at the end.  The idea is that Beth could get her mom to see the routine without her having to go to a Friday night football game or to a band competition.  Brilliant. 

Therefore, all that had to happen was Beth's mom arriving at our house by 8:15, us getting to the high school by 8:30, and watching the practice for 20-30 minutes so she could see her grandson in action.  Simple, right?

To make this happen, Beth told her mom to be at our house at 8:00.  Good idea as the woman with nothing to do all day (no job, no husband, no commitments) is always late.  She did arrive at 8:15.  Okay.  However, as soon as she walked in the door, she had a head full of stories she wanted to tell us about one of her other sons.  I think it was her way of letting us know that she had come to see CJ, but he was not the most important person in her life. She was doing us a favor.  So, she would start the story, tell it in a rambling, nonsensical way that would lead to Beth and her mom performing a take on the Abbott and Costello, Who's on First routine.

What I found funny, is that she would get to a point in the story, we would get interrupted by something like, you know, a band performance, and as soon as the last note was wafting away, she would pick up the story in exactly the same spot.  It was as if she had it memorized and her sole purpose for coming last night was to tell this story.

Beth was going a bit crazy since all she was trying to do was have her mom see her grandson perform.  It wasn't working.

That was fun to watch, kinda like a dog trying to carry a stick through a doorway with the stick turned sideways.  A lot of confused stops and starts and tail wagging.

To top it off, as we got to our vehicle, I saw and mom with her sophomore daughter trying to put daughter's bicycle into the back seat of her Toyota sedan.  I knew this was like stuffing Mama Cass into a pair of bike shorts, but I let them give it a go.  As soon as it became obvious that the bike was not going to fit and the two of them may soon come to blows, I offered to load the bike into my CRV and follow them home.  Even though they did not know me very well, the risk of me fleeing with their bike was better than the risk of damaging the car or damaging each other.

I loaded, followed, and delivered the bicycle and also restored peace to their family.  I may have been nominated for some smaller scale Peace Prize last night. 

I am sure this was short-lived though as I would guess the two of them have found something to butt heads about this morning. 

I have always bemused the fact that Beth and I have never had a daughter.  I see how adorable Beth is and just know that any little girl we would have had would have wrapped me around her finger at birth.  However, as I watch the world's mothers and daughters go through their life dance, I cannot imagine what would have happened if my two favorite women had grown up to form a pact of driving each other insane.  Getting caught in that crossfire may have been devastating.

I  am once again thanking God for knowing what is best for me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

There I was, there I was, in the Congo

August 23, 2011

You know the problem with only posting when I have time, is that funny things happen and I think they make great blog fodder, but by the time I get around to posting, I cannot remember what it was I thought was funny.  I certainly have no problem creating really long sentences as it turns out.

So this past weekend was my weekend off.  The work week had been exhausting and stressful, so I spent a lot of time recovering.  I had managed to rub a blister in between my big toe and my second toe (picture not included since feet are ugly) that is a great thing to have when you work on your feet.  I had been walking on it a couple days in some degree of pain before I decided I had to drain it to start the healing process.  You're welcome if you were eating breakfast.  I performed this procedure in a very safe, sterile way, but the area still remained angry.  Finally, on Thursday, I decided to wrap both toes together with a cotton ball and some ointment between them to see if they could get along better as a team the next couple days.  It worked.  After stopping the revolt against the captain of my toes and some rest over the weekend, I was back to blister-free walking yesterday.  Bill Murray and Sergeant Hulka would have been proud of the teamwork.

Yes, I know I just mixed the actor with the character he plays opposite in the movie, Stripes, but would you have known who I was talking about if I had said John Winger?

I also just learned how to spell the word "sergeant".  How does that get abbreviated down to "sarge"?  Or have I always spelled that wrong too?  Probably.


I couldn't find the whole scene, but if you don't know it, you are missing one of film's most iconic moments.  It probably also means you have not seen the movie, Stripes, so you must go get it today. 

In other news, school has completed one full week in session for Beth and CJ and too excited are they to be back.  I can tell that CJ's brain has started to regenerate from a summer of uselessness.  This morning, I asked him what the largest country in Africa was (since he studied Africa last year), and he proudly stated, "Saudi Arabia".  Thank God he was kidding.  I know this because he laughed and immediately changed his answer to Mexico.  I am having trouble making the letter x work into my crossword answers.

Finally, we did something last Saturday that I would recommend to anyone with children.  The three of us went to Panera for bagels for breakfast.  Panera is not the key to the operation, nor are the bagels.  The mission was to simply connect as a family and review the week.  Electronic devices were forbidden and questions were raised.  These teenager/high school years are very important and we want to stay involved.  Some of CJ's friends are already experimenting with alcohol and the opposite sex (not necessarily at the same time), and we want to make sure this does not become an issue.  It is also a good time to discuss classes and friends and whatever so we can provide support and wisdom in case CJ needs trouble shooting in any of these areas. 

The benefit for me in doing this at a public place, is that if CJ has a question about geography or the opposite sex (or about the geography of the opposite sex) there may be someone in the crowd who may know the answer.  Both of these topics are beyond my scope.   The way CJ was looking at the girls walking around in their workout clothes, those questions may be coming soon.

I am off to the store to buy a map....of Africa.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hi School!

August 16, 2011

It is day one of CJ entering high school and day one of school year 2011-2012 for Beth. I cannot tell you how excited the two of them were to get back to school, because neither one of them was at all excited.

Last night at precisely 9:53pm, Beth put her head in her hands and started lamenting her long gone life choice to not be a princess. Sure, she had offers in her prime, but she turned them down to stay with me. Suddenly, faced with the choice of going back to work versus leaving me to marry a prince, she could have been swayed. Her kingdom for a clown. Bad choice.

While Beth pouting can be adorable, I decided not to egg on this upstairs situation and wandered downstairs to see if CJ was getting ready for bed. They have to get up at 6am, so getting to bed at 10pm would allow them the beauty sleep they so richly deserve. CJ was sitting in his throne eating a bowl of cereal and watching television. I asked if he was going to bed after finishing his last bowl of cereal for the summer. His look told me that he too wondered if he still had time to become a princess.

I tried not to laugh hysterically at the twos of them as I am not as excited to have the house back to myself on Tuesdays as they think I am. I am missing them awful right now. The reports from the neighbors of loud party music and me dancing around the house in my underwear are greatly exaggerated. Frankly, I do that when Beth and CJ are home, so that is not a new development.

Somewhere in this house, but apparently not on this computer, we have a photo of CJ's first day of kindergarten.  He is sitting on the front porch with mom in almost the same pose as you see above.  How we got him to pose for us this morning is a miracle.  He was not eager for this photo op, but somehow relented.  When I find the original kindergarten pose, I will post it and you all can be ready to say aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! and ooooooooooooooh!  Or, if you live in Minnesota, you can say, "For cute!"

As for the above photo, if you look close enough, you will find hints that neither one of them is excited. It is in the eyes.  Beth has a little Michele Bachmann on the cover of Newsweek look in her eyes, and CJ is thinking of researching those Menendez brothers he has heard me refer to before.

I miss you guys too!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 13, 2011

We went on the see food diet.

August 13, 2011

Last night, Beth, CJ and myself went across the Ohio River into Newport, Ky for the Great Inland Seafood Festival.  We had gone a couple of years ago and stumbled upon a booth selling this sampler platter that was OUTSTANDING.  We have fantasized about it ever since and I promised them I would make it happen this year.  So after a long day at The Target, I got my second wind and braved the traffic through downtown Cincinnati (there was also a Red's game last night) and we arrived safely.  Beth released her grip on her hand brake and we waded ashore.  As we walked along the row of food booths, we attempted to remember what the place was called or looked like so we would get the right thing.  We thought we found it and ordered a $15 dollar plate of food to share.  CJ also ordered a $7 kabob of shrimp that we maybe didn't share so much, at least I never say a tiny shrimp. 

While the food was good, we seemed to be tasting a lot of mystery seafood and a whole bunch of vegetables.  I am not a hater on vegetables, but if my cheap self pays $15 for a plate of seafood sampler, I want more seafood. 

To make matters a wee bit more disappointing, since it was an outdoor event, we sat to eat in a tent with our 200 closest friends of the sea.  And gnats.  They were kamikaze gnats hell bent on dive bombing my cornea.  I guess they thought if the first wave took out my vision, the second wave could steal the food.  My resolve was strong though, and we powered through the sampler platter and some seafood fettuccine.  CJ was still hungry and asked for some money, so I sent him off with some cash and a dream.

I did not realize his dream was to eat some fried alligator, on a stick.  I have always assumed that the chances of me biting into an alligator in my lifetime were significantly less than an alligator biting into me, but there we were.  Noshing on some alligator on a stick. 

I know you are waiting for me to say it tasted like chicken, but it really kinda tasted like alligator.  Not bad, the whole thing ended up gone, but certainly not like chicken.

Finally, we got up to leave feeling full but not all the way satisfied.  We decided to check out this lonely set of booths farther down the line and came across the booth selling the sampler platter we had originally pined for.  We pretended we were not full and forked out the $12 for this platter.  It was AWESOME!   There were real large bites of seafood and some special spices that must have had crack as one of the ingredients.  I will have to check with Katie on that one.

Anyway, after finishing off this plate, we did our best penguin imitation and waddled back to the car. 

I made it home and sat down to watch the Bengal's game.  Fortunately, my stomach is strong or I may have lost all the contents based on the horrific display my team turned in on the field.  Good grief.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Too much emphasis on the muffin

August 11, 2011

A guest came in The Target yesterday seeking the whereabouts of an item.  She said it is a belt you can wear but not see.  Really?  I have heard of people taking belts of whisky like shots, or getting belted by someone elses fists, and you can generally not see "the belt"; however, I am guessing this is not the belt of which you seek.

They thought maybe it was called an invisible belt.  Ah, the invisible belts you say.  Well yes, we have those.  They are on this rack right here.  They are $20.  Here is a blue invisible belt and it will be in this bag, you just pay me the money.  It is a part of our new "Emperor's New Clothes Collection".  Enjoy.

And I quote, "No, I do not think it was from any Emperors New Clothes Collection."  Do people still read anymore?  Do children just watch Dora and play video games about Dora? 

I realize that I am old and the ENC story I read was carved on a stone tablet and we had to share it with the whole class while we avoided the dinosaurs, but I thought stories were passed down from generation to generation.  Not any more, I guess.

So I have looked it up and found something called an Invisibelt that you can buy on line that "has an instant slimming affect of a belt without the clunky buckle".  The belt fits waist sizes 2-14 and up to a 45 inch waist.  I am not sure how much slimming affect it has for the 45 inch waist, but I may try one on and get my male muffin top going.

My only concern, were I  to purchase this innovative belt from the Wonder Woman collection (still nothing?), is what happens when I lay the belt down somewhere?

You see, because it is invisible?  Oh, never mind.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It was like the blonde leading the blind

August 9, 2011

I have new follower!  Why is this soooo exciting when I have such awesome followers already?  Two reasons.  One, it skyrockets my number of followers to 11 which is almost double digits.  Second, it is Duffylou who has come over from http://byebyepie.typepad.com/bye_bye_pie/  and has frequently made me snort in the comments over there.  Welcome!

Speaking of snorting, Katie from http://twelvedaysold.blogspot.com/ can "allegedly" hook you up with some crack if you are in the market.  Does one even snort crack?  Not sure, check with Katie.

Who is the best husband around?  It's my blog, so I nominate me.

Yesterday, I took Beth, CJ, and Beth's mom to see Great Aunt Retta, the nun.  She is 97 years old and still teaching!  Not really.  She is 97, but is retired.  She is still spunky but does not get around like she used to.  Geees, I am 46  and I don't get around like I used to.  She is a real joy to visit as she never has a negative thing to say, she lived an exciting life, and she thinks I am one of the most handsome men she ever met.  Right up there with her dad and Jesus.

What proved to need some work is how CJ deals with old people.  As I observed his obvious boredom as Retta told us a story she has told us before, I realized I would be old soon enough and CJ would need to be a little nicer to me than he was being with Retta.  It also came back to me that as we walked to Retta's room, CJ had walked through a door opened by his 77 year old grandma as if it was okay for her to hold a door for him.  This got corrected right away.

Later on in the day, Beth decided that we should go to a park down by the river and it turned out to be a great idea.  Beth and her mom strolled and talked (or bickered, whatever moms and daughters do), while CJ and I walked and talked.  Interspersed with our conversation about zombies and video games and who could throw a rock farther, we discussed how one handles being around older people. 

I explained that when I moved back in with him when I turned 80, he was going to have to listen to my stories as if he had never heard them before, he would have to put up with my walker being in the way, and he would have to take mom to the grocery for me as she would still be as spunky as ever.  AND,  he would have to push the cart and open doors and carry the bags and look at her butt and drive the car and pick out the cereal.  In other words, all the things I am responsible for now. 

Yes, he did catch me on the butt thing and all butts may be off. 

In other news, Beth found a spot in our attic where she confirmed that we had a leak where a pipe meets the roof.  We had a heavy rain last night and water was dripping down the outside of the pipe from the roof to the basement.  It may be time to move.  Darn it.

We went to a freshman orientation at the high school last night to meet the administration and learn about being a freshman.  The funniest part was the explanation of the dress code and how none of the shorts the girls were wearing to orientation met the length requirement.  It was also humerous how CJ's girlfriend blew him off as they walked by each other and he was like "whaaaa?"  I don't know dude, you don't talk to her all summer and she gets mad?  Go figure.  Women are strange.

Finally, we went to CJ's locker while he went back to band practice, and we tried to open it.  We could not get it open.  The neighboring teens thought we were lame until we had them try the combination and it did not work for them either.  The two girls who tried it for us were both blonde, so between old people and blonde girls we were out of luck.  We were going to try the math geek who walked by, but CJ got a top locker and math geek was too short to reach it. 

It brought back high school age memories for me as I was the math geek, and I could not get blonde girls to open anything for me.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

No, I will not explain the Cornelius part.

August 6, 2011

I grew up in Louisville, Ky and went to a great high school called St. Xavier.  My father and brother had gone there before me and I had always wanted to carry on the legacy.  Plus, I really liked the name.  Something about the letter X I think.  I was also a big fan of Malcolm X as a wee kid even though it turns out I did not know what he stood for.  Not that I am now against what he represented, I just think it was weird that a 6 year old white kid in Kentucky in the 1970s thought that Malcolm X was cool. 

Anyway, before I go down a road unintended, back to St. X. 

I lived about 5 minutes from the other popular private high school in Louisville, Trinity.  Most of my friends from grade school were going there.  Their school mascot was the Shamrock and I could not get behind that.  During pep ralleys at St. X before the big rivalry game, we would chant "Beat the Weeds" much to the delight of the Xavierian brothers running our school.  Our mascot was the Tiger and who wouldn't want to be a tiger versus something that grows in your yard?  Plus, I attended St. X from 1979-1983 and if you'll recall, there was a Rocky movie during that time span that offered us a great fight song. 

Can't remember?  How about "Eye of the Tiger" from Survivor in 1982.  We were certainly rising up to the challenge of our rival.

So why am I blogging about my high school?  Well, yesterday I received the alumni magazine from St. X in the mail.  There was a period of time after college while I worked for Kmart that I moved around quite a bit (5 states in 7 years) and St. X lost track of me.  I became one of the lost alumni.  I was not particuraly concerned since X's concern for my lostness was more about where did my checkbook take off to as opposed to caring about my well-being.  So I remained lost for years until my brother was nice enough to let them know I had moved back to Cincinnati and was again under their radar.  Now I am on the mailing list again for donation requests and the alumni magazine.

So I was looking through the magazine to see if I recognized any names, and they had an article in there about a guy named Eric Barnes.  He graduated in 1986 and I do not remember him.  I am trying to picture him with hair and a bad tie on since I would have been a senior when he was a freshman.  Can't come up with him.  Of course, there were 1600 young men at my school and most of them had hair and bad ties.

As it turns out, he has become rather successful.  To give you the microwave Reader's Digest version of his life, he went to Princeton, started a business there that became Ivysport, then started another on line business in 2005 called ePrep, and also found time to design and market a reusable water bottle called KOR Water.  You can look up what each of these things are on your own since this is just a blog.  I am not bitter as my life has turned out great, but Eric has turned out rather well and meets the criteria Beth's dad has laid out for a winner.

He used to sit outside a movie theater or event that we were about to partake of and watch the people coming out.  He would try to notice if any of them were smiling.  Smiling meant we go in, not smiling meant we go for ice cream.  Pretty good method if you think about it. 

Eric was smiling.  I am happy for him.  And me.

However, as I turned the page, I saw tidbits of some people from each class.  From the class of 1983 was a tidbit about a guy I do remember as we had gone to 7 years of grade school together and 4 years of high school.  Both our fathers had worked at the same company, Brown-Forman Distillers.  His father had been more successful there since my dad was very brand loyal and drank enough to get himself some early retirement .  Timothy, my class mate, must have followed dad into the business and has worked his way up to Vice President, Director of Route-to-Consumer/Alliance.  Nice title.  You need some good-sized business cards for that one. 

I remember Tim as being a short, immature kind of kid.  I guess he has matured a bit since grade school.  Probably still short though.  Once again, not bitter.  I will not be looking him up on Facebook though.

I think I will submit a blurb to the St. X magazine about my success in life.  It does need a business card and may not sound as glamorous as Tim's, but it means way more to me than any old title or globally used green water bottle.  Here goes:

Steve (aka Cornelius in high school), 1983:  wife Beth, son CJ, full head of hair.  And I am smiling. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Is 14 too late to change my parenting style?

August 5, 2011

I am off work for a long weekend.  I know it seems like I am off work all the time now, but I assure you, I am not.  I have tried to take short spurts of vacation time now as we will start to ramp up for the busiest seasons soon.  I have over 100 hours of vacation time left and once we get to November, I won't be able to take any until next Spring.  Who will be cranky for Easter?  Biting ears off real live bunnies?  Maybe.

What huge plans do I have for this weekend?  Well, sit down and prepare to be amazed.  Nothing!

I know.  Want to hang  out with me, but are afraid you can't keep up?  Old people with walkers could keep up with my crazy lifestyle.

Who knows, we may head up to Kings Island, go see Beth's Great Aunt Retta, or go grocery shopping.  Beth says we are at threat level orange for available eats in the house, so we need to go buy one of everything.  I told her I would go with her since that is much better than sitting at home trying to tell her what to buy.

The great thing about being me though, is that down time with family is one of my life's greatest joys.  It is like pizza flavored ice cream.  Let me give you a couple of examples from an innocent trip to see Wendy for dinner the other night.  (Why? No food in the house, remember?) 

As we were noshing on some sandwiches off the value menu (partying like rock stars since 2011), CJ decided to get a frosty.  I gave him a ten dollar bill and he went to buy it.  How he can see over the counter, I will never know.  He came back with some chocolate Oreo frosty thing.  I asked for change and he said, "Oh sorry, it cost $10."  I laughed and held my hand out.  He said, "you're right, it was $2, but I told the guy to keep the change."  Nice.

Then on the the way home, we were discussing a young man that works for me who is saving money to go to school for video game design.  This is CJ's dream job still, no matter how tactfully I try to dissuade him.

I do this by telling him you have to be good at art, have parents willing to foot the bill, and I am pretty sure video games are not going to catch on.  Hasn't worked so far.

Anyway, I described this young man as someone who will just come up to me and start talking about video games, or art, or what I can only describe as blahbety, blah, blah.  Beth said it reminded her of her brother.  CJ agreed, but then felt free to add "except for the part where he has a job."  I almost wrecked the car.  ROTFLMAOACJ!

It has become apparent to Beth and me that our choice of parenting with sarcasm may come back to haunt us at some point.  The jury is on their way back in.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What would Mr. Whipple say?

August 2, 2011

As you know, last week was band camp week for CJ.  It was plenty hot and way more intense than he or we ever thought it would be, but he survived and did well.  The whole band exceeded expectations for learning their routine, so congrats to all of them.

At the end of the second week, the seniors initiate the freshmen.  In some ways, the seniors actually initiate the freshman's parents.  I am going to show you pictures of said initiation as soon as Beth gets out of bed.  She has the camera and the camera cable.  Not in the bed with her, but in her purse somewhere.  It is 8:00 and not the right time to be asking or searching.  You guys wait days between posts from me, so I would guess you can wait a few more minutes before I put up the photos.

So as you can clearly not see, the seniors go around and toilet paper the houses, trees, cars, bikes, and pets of the freshmen.  We did send CJ out to clean it up, but Beth was the one who actually did most of the tp removal.  It was slightly windy that day and we have a neighbor who readily complains about anything that inconveniences his yard.  Therefore, Beth got out there with stick in hand and step stool under foot and removed tp from the tree.  I drove around our neighborhood and some trees still look like May fest, so not everyone has neighbors who complain or Beths who know from hard work.  Apparently, the final key to toilet paper removal from trees is water.  It has not rained here in a couple weeks, so I would guess we will see tp flapping in the breeze in some yards until we finally get some rain.

The bonus news is that some of the rolls used in the yard decoration were still rather intact as we cleaned up.  We may not have to go shopping for toilet paper for a few months.  I know!  Hey don't give me grief about using something to wipe my arse that was once lying in my yard.  I know you have gone camping and used a leaf at some point in your life.  Steve, grossing out readers since 2011.