Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Watching Big Brother

Our youngest child, the baby of the family, has a hero that he looks up to. It's not me or Chandler; not a superhero, a teacher, or an action star. No, Spike's hero is his older brother, Angel. He adores him, and I find that to be adorable.

The other day I was picking the kids up for the weekend and as I sat there waiting, Spike saw me, ran up and I brought my arms out for that hug that he always gives me... I didn't get it. What I got was a question. "Where's Angel?" I pointed to his brother, he saw him and then he hugged me.

That night we were all watching a movie and he fell asleep early. I carried him to bed (and let me tell you, that isn't getting any easier as he gets older), and after the movie the rest of the kids followed. Angel was sharing the double bed with Spike that night. I stayed up late to do my usual writing and chatting with my online friends and a few hours later I heard Spike get up and use the bathroom. Then he came from down the hall, looked around the living room and asked: "Where's Angel?" He didn't believe me when I told him he had to crawl over him to get out of bed. He stumbled back into the bedroom and I heard him say. "Oh yeah, there he is."

It makes me happy that Spike has a big brother who he adores, and a brother who loves him as well. They may squabble, but Angel loves his little brother, he watches over him. I'm happy for both of them.

It's something I never had and grew up wishing I did. A little brother to watch over, or even a big brother who I could have looked up to; who would have watched over me. Though looking back on it now, I'm glad it turned out this way. I'm old enough to appreciate it as it evolves.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Haunting

It's that time of year again. Ghosts, goblins, gouls, witches, and ugly scary creatures gather together to beg for food. No, I'm not talking about my family Thanksgivings of the past. It's Halloween!

This is probably my least favorite holiday of the year. In fact I'd pretty much take Columbus Day over this one. Even as a child I was never a big fan of it. Most of the candy I got would end up going to my sister anyway. Candy was never my bag. Like my father, I always wanted Chips, popcorn, or some kind of snack mix. Something with salt! Salt and a bottle of Pepsi. That's all I needed.

And don't get me started on the whole pumpkin carving thing! Slaughtering a vegtable is one thing, but ripping its guts out... Blecchhhh! Even the smell of it turns me off. Laverne isn't a fan of it either, but she stomachs it better than I do. Carving pumpkins is one of those events our children are lucky they have four parents, because Shirley and Chandler really get into it.

Nope, my holiday is just under a month from now. Bring on the turkey, dressing, taters, and cranberrys. It's almost time to stuff ourselves silly folks! Until then, have a safe and happy Halloween.

"I got a rock!"

Friday, October 23, 2009

A White Wedding

Kids are funny. Our kids (when they're not trying to drive their parents crazy) are down right hilarious. Sometimes it's on purpose, but most of the time it's the things they say when they are trying to be serious that cracks me up the most.

Spike has tried to convince me for over two years now that the third Mummy movie is better than The Dark Knight. This, in itself, is not funny (the child is gravely mistaken), but it's the serious look he gives me that makes me laugh. Tonight I read a story to him when he went to bed and when I finished we chatted for a few minutes. We got talking about superheroes (go figure) and he asked if the knew Iron Man movie was coming out soon. When I told him it would be next year he was excited but reminded me that it wouldn't be as good as the third Mummy movie. When I told him that it would be a lot better he patted my hand, looked me in the eyes with the wisdom of a grandfather and replied. "You'll understand someday."

Several months ago Willow and I were having one of our late night Father/Daughter chats. I wasn't feeling that well, my stomach was bothering me, and I jokingly said that I probably had dysentery. With a serious face she replied that she wouldn't be surprised if she had that as well. I asked her why she thought she would have that. Her reply. "You see how much sugar I eat in a day." I was confused for a moment then started laughing. "You mean Diabetes?" I asked her. Her face got as red as her hair when she realized the faux paux. I promised her I wouldn't tell anyone. Oops.

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a new pair of glasses. They are the thicker frames, square, and black. Personally I'm still on the fence on if I like them on me or not, but I've received some great feedback from everyone where I work. Tonight Chandler and our boys went out to dinner and I asked Angel why he didn't care for them. He informed me that they made me look like Leonard from The Big Bang Theory. "Except he doesn't have a beard." Did he stop there as he studied my face with a serious expression? Nope! "And he has hair on his head." Then he went back to eating. That one I found funny, yet still wanted to throw my enchilada at him.

My favorite so far, though, came from Buffy. Her and I were in the car two weeks ago and I was playing my Billy Joel CD. "My Life" came on and she said she knew that song, then asked me who the singer was. When I told her his name she replied. "I really like him."

"You do?" I asked in shock. You see, Buffy is our resident rocker. Everything from AC/DC and Van Halen to Green Day. So I was really impressed with this news. I always tell my kids that they should appreciate a variety of music.

"Yeah, but I like his faster songs more. My favorite is "White Wedding.""

"That's Billy Idol." I replied, stifling an out and out laugh.

She grinned next to me. "Oh. Yeah, I like him. I don't think I like this guy that much."

Bill Cosby said it best: Kids say the darnedest things!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Real Life Terror

As Halloween approaches I'm seeing more and more scary movies on the television as well as in the movie theaters. I'm hoping that Chandler and I can get to the theater to see Paranormal Activity. I love scary movies, though not gory ones. Chandler enjoys both. He's seen all the Saw movies except for this latest one. He enjoys the Friday the 13th and the low budget Clive Barker movies. Dismemberment and disembowelment is fine with him. I don't get it, but I'll sit with him while we watch them; though I'll admit when I think it's about to get really gross, I turn my attention back to the safety of my lap top.

Me, I enjoy movies like Halloween, The Omens, Alien 1 & 2, Salem's Lot, and even though they are a bit on the gory side, I've always had a soft spot for Freddy Krueger and his Nightmares on Elm Street. That sinister laugh, the scraping of his razor gloves (eat your heart out Wolverine). Still, the best movies are the ones that show very little and leave most of it to your imagination. That's why I always thought the Blair Witch Project was ingenious in its execution.

Even at my age, on occasion, I can spook myself silly when I hear a noise that doesn't sound familiar, or when the dogs run to the window in the late night hours and continue to bark and growl. I mean, I can't see out there, so who knows what's watching me.

Right now though, there is a real life terror that lurks in the back of my mind. Chandler and I are in the process of building a new home. For the first two years we were together we lived in an apartment, followed by the last ten years in a mobile home park. It's been a nice place, can't really complain, and we've had a lot of laughter and tears here. A lot of living. All four of our children have done most of their growing up here with us on the weekends, holidays, other special occasions. So I can't complain.

Thing is, in the first relationship I was in, which lasted just over nine years, my partner and I (who I shall call Victor) lived most of it in a mobile home park. We too bought a home in a residential neighborhood (though it was a ranch style that was already built). Our relationship was rocky by then for several hundred reasons, and I think we both thought a real house would help solidify us again. It didn't. It just added to the destruction of the relationship. Although Victor becoming addicted to crack and staying out all night didn't really help matters.

Now I know that Chandler and I are strong, secure, and love each other as much as the day we met. We're both waiting anxiously with real excitement as we watch our new home being built. But sometimes when I lay awake in bed, or when I'm sitting up late on the weekends, I think back to my first time with a new home and Victor, and suddenly, irrationally, I start to hear the scraping of Freddy's razor gloves in the back of my mind.

Ghost, ghouls, goblins and eleven year olds who can spin their heads around and spit green pea soup. That's not scary. Wondering if you'll lose everything that you love most in life... that's scary.

Friday, October 2, 2009


It's been a little while since we've had the kids at our house, and it amazes me in the two or three weeks in between quality time with them how much they change. Not in really big ways, but the small ones. The ones that make me glow inside.

Spike gets more and more rambunctious every day. This kids energy level is through the roof! It's really true what they say, youth is wasted on the young. LOL! His little quirks amuse me to no end. I'm not sure how he accomplishes it, but no matter where he starts out when we put in a movie to watch, he always ends up right in front of all of us - blocking the television. The cutest part is that he never realizes that he's doing it.

Like all of our kids, he's really got a heart of gold, as well. When our kids reach fifth grade, they go on a school trip to Washington D.C. When Buffy went, she asked Daddy Chandler to go with her. Last year it was Angel's turn and he asked me a long. Last week Spike asked Mommy Shirley if he had to go on the trip. When she said he didn't have to, but why wouldn't he, he replied that he didn't want to choose one parent over the other three.

Is that sweet or what! I really hope he gets over that feeling before he reaches fifth grade, though, because it is such a great opportunity. How do you convince your child that none of the parents are going to be upset with whomever he chooses. Personally, I'm hoping he chooses Laverne or Shirley. Neither of them have had the fun experience of a ten hour bus ride with a pack of fifth graders. And that's something everyone should get a chance to experience once in their life.

I picked Angel up after his play rehearsal tonight. Met Mom Shirley at the halfway point and drove him back to the house. Angel, at 11, is in that awkward stage... for me, not him. He's still a kid at heart, but when you get him to open up and talk, he sounds more mature every day - until he lets one rip in the car and then giggles uncontrollably. He's at the age that I find the hardest to understand or perhaps to relate to. He's not yet old enough to get the "blue" humor that I can toss at the two older girls, but he's too old for a lot of the silly nonsense that still makes Spike laugh.

Buffy, our soon to be 14 year old daughter has done the most changing recently. Most of it good, some of it not so much. Not in a bad way, just in the teenage girl way that all parents deal with. At the same time, though, she is at the age where she is catching the more subtle jokes. She's relaxed a lot when it comes to my teasing (something I'm notorious in doing to all my children, but teenagers are really the MOST fun to do it to). But the best thing with Buffy is when we spend our alone time after everyone has gone to bed, she's opening up to me more. Opening up on how she's feeling, what's making her happy in her life. Granted, if she doesn't get enough sleep she can be a bear in the mornings, but our "special time" at night is worth it.

There is one sad point to all these changes, though. Our oldest daughter, Willow, will be 17 soon. We all know what that's like. Wanting to be with your friends, or worse... boyfriend. She's very social and active and that really is great. But we don't see her as much now. She's busy on the weekends with afterschool activities and dates. Can't blame her, I was the same way at that age. Chandler and I agreed a long time ago that as the kids got older we never wanted to force them to stay with us if they wanted to be with their friends and do the things that older teens want to do.

We just didn't realize that the kids getting "older" would happen so fast. But we can't complain about it, right? I mean that's life - it's constantly changing. *sigh*

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Don't Stop Believing!

The first rock concert I ever went to was at Joe Louis Arena back in 1983. I had just turned 16 and was invited to go see Journey with my then girlfriend, her best friend, and one other guy who I still can't remember to this day. My girlfriends parents dropped us off and said they would be there to pick us up when the concert was over. Having come from a family that listened to nothing but country or gospel music, I had no clue what to expect.

The band was Journey and they were promoting their newest album, Escape. I went out and bought not only that cassette (remember cassettes?) but the two previous albums as well. I wanted to make sure I knew every song they were going to sing. My father was flabbergasted at what I was playing in my room. It was loud, he didn't understand it, and he was pretty sure that Satan had written all the lyrics. Granted, his opinion on Journey changed drastically six months later when I brought home AC/DC's Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. My mother reminded him on more than one occasion that his mother was not that understanding when it came to his music at the time, either.

I still remember sitting in our seats, slightly to the left of the stage, but with a great view, when those lights suddenly went out in the stadium and the crowd roared. I got a little nervous, not sure what was about to happen. Then the stage exploded in multi colored lights as the band took the stage. When the first few notes from the piano began to play Don't Stop Believing (my second favorite song of there's to this day), I was transformed into another world. The music was loud, the crowd was roaring, and Steve Perry's voice rose above it all. For the next 90 minutes I was in heaven as they performed every song that I had just recently grown to love. I made sure to buy a concert t-shirt as I left. It was the most amazing experience I had had up to that point in my life. Though I really couldn't figure out what that weird smell was. Really! I was totally sheltered and out of it until I hit college.

Nearly 30 years later that song has seen a resurgence in popularity, and my kids know every word to it, and several others. Angel and Spike love the song. Buffy and Willow really like Loving, Touching, Squeezing; a song that I really liked at the time as well, but the fact that they like it so much scares the hell out of me!

One weekend Angel needed a shirt to wear while his was in the wash. I grabbed that old concert shirt and when he put it on I was surprised at how well it fit him. The sneaky little kid ended up taking it home with him! Granted, it was going to be his someday, anyway, but I was caught off guard (and proudly so) how much he wanted it.

I've been to a LOT of concerts since that first one, and in all honesty, there have been many others that were much better shows. I've still got concert t-shirts to all of those as well and I'm ready to give each of my other children the one's that are the most special to me.

But like your first real true love, you never forget that first concert. And now when we are all in the car and that song comes on the radio; those first few signature piano notes pounding out, the kids get excited and tell me to turn up the radio. I'm happy to oblige them. Don't Stop Believing now has two wonderful memories for me that I will carry to my old age.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Angel On The Field

Our oldest son, Angel, has started playing football now that he's in junior high. First of all, the fact that our son is officially in "junior high" is just darn depressing! It makes me want to do something horribly drastic - like plastic surgery.

I'm not the biggest fan of football, to be honest. It's my least favorite sport for various reasons that stem back to both high school and college. I don't understand the mindset of the players or fans, to be honest. But in fairness, I doubt very many can understand my love for Oscar Night, either (my own personal Superbowl).

So when I saw Angel in his uniform, all those horrible old feelings came bubbling to the surface again. Add to that the fact that one of my biggest fears is seeing any of our children injured in any way, and I honestly thought I was going to throw up.

Silly me. You'd think at my age I would have learned by now. The past is the past, the present is now, and Angel is going to be Angel no matter if he's playing football or performing a part in a play. He's a kind, caring kid who loves competition, as long as your polite about it. Aggression is not one of his strongest points, and that's alright.

He played very well, actually and I was very proud of him. He looked so small in his uniform and it was kind of sad for me to see him in such a grown up situation.

When Angel was about four or five he joined a soccer league. He really did well with the ball. He could travel well and was very good at passing. When it came to stealing the ball, however, he wasn't as enthusiastic. I'd like to think he was raised by his parents to share, something that has stuck with him so far.

He's also dynamic on the sidelines as he dances with his buddies and shakes his padded little booty. Chandler got it on tape and I can't wait to use it at his graduation party some day. :)

In fact, the only time he really seems to be aggressive is when he's fighting with his brother, Spike. I'm hoping he out grows that one!

Angel playing football is another wonderful life lesson for me. I'm not always going to like what he wants to do (Heaven help me if any of my children want to join the military someday), but if it's something they want to do; then I want to be there to support them.

This weekend Spike starts Flag Football. My God, he's only 7! He shouldn't be... okay, okay... take a deep breath Dad, he really wants to do it. Put on the smile, say a silent prayer, and let him jump in feet first!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Remember Mamma

Twenty two years ago today I lost my mother to a sudden brain aneurysm. She was 46 at the time (which is kind of creepy now that I'm 43), and when she passed away I was 21. Anyone over 35 knows that 21 is still rather a young age in the grand scheme of things.

I still miss her terribly. She was a very outspoken and wonderful lady. She loved dirty jokes and enjoyed trying to embarrass me and my friends when we would gather in our basement to play our role playing games. The one that sticks in my mind the most was the evening we were playing a James Bond game. Mom came downstairs to finish a load of laundry and one of my friends asked her if she'd like to join us.

"No thanks, I'm not a fan of dragons." She said, believing we were playing our usual Dungeons and Dragons game.

"We're not playing that. We're playing a James Bond role playing game." My female friend replied.

"Oh, well in that case I'll play if I can be Pussy Galore." She said with a twinkle in her eye and a mischievous grin on her face.

"OH MY GOD!" Two of my friends blurted out and we all broke down laughing. She loved that kind of shock humor.

After my father's heart attack he quit smoking and my mother decided to as well. By then, I was smoking and I was allowed only to smoke in the basement. Not long after my father got better and went back to work (he worked midnights), my mother would pack his lunch, kiss him goodbye, and sneak downstairs to join me. It was our little secret. In fact, if we heard my sister get up and walk around, she'd shove the cigarette between my fingers in case she came downstairs. We had some great talks at that time of night. By then our relationship had evolved into the next phase. Though she was still my mother, our conversations were now adult oriented and the concept of the occasional swear word was acceptable (something it would never be with my father - for either of us.)

I have a huge amount of wonderful memories of mom, but I always fall back on one that brings me the most warmth. Anytime I was standing near her, or sitting at our kitchen table, she always put her hands on my shoulders while talking to me. Or if standing, she'd always come up behind him and drape her arms around my neck from behind while talking to me or whoever was with us.

I always get very melancholy during this time in September; wishing that I could have seen her with the grand kids that she never got to meet. I would have loved to have seen her tease Chandler mercilessly. I know she would have really connected with Laverne and Shirley as well. There's a lot of things I wish at this time of the month, but mostly I just wish I could feel her put those hands reassuringly on my shoulders one more time.


Friday, September 11, 2009

People Let Me Tell You About My Best Friend!

He actually started out as my boyfriend, then turned into my partner, and eventually (in the eyes of our family and friends) he became my husband. Twelve years later he is still all of those, but he's also the absolute best friend I've ever had.

Chandler is a librarian who runs three of the sixteen branches in our county. Until you really get to know him, he's a rather shy guy. He's also very much the complete opposite of me in many ways - except for one big one.

While I tend to have my head in the clouds, Chandler is the one who keeps my feet planted firmly on the ground. He came into my life at a time when I was living on my own for the first time in my life; having went from the home I grew up in to living with my first partner, who I'll call Elton.

Elton and I had a rather rough relationship, actually. Now I'm the first to admit that I'm not an easy person to live with, but I would also like to think that if nothing else, I have a lot of love to give. Unfortunately sometimes I guess love isn't enough. Elton and mine's relationship deteriorated after the first three or four years. I was in my early twenties and was just coming out. He was tied to his mother and grandmothers apron strings and we just didn't mesh. Eventually Elton turned to heavy drugs and constant drinking; followed by a lot of verbal and mental abuse. So with terror in my heart, I moved out on my own for the first time in my life. I was 31 and scared to death.

Thanks to great friends like Laverne and Shirley and my other best friend who I shall call Ross, I survived a lot of lonely nights and grew to appreciate being on my own. That's when two of the best things in the world happened; Shirley informed me I was going to be a father and I met Chandler.

I was looking for companionship, and so was he. But after what had gone on between Elton and I, the idea of a long term committed relationship scared me. I truly believed that there weren't gay men out there that wanted not only a relationship but a family as well. But on our first date together (a Chinese restaurant that we still visit once a year), I was blown away by his story.

He had never dated before, having focused on his studies. He was finishing up his Masters degree. He also came from an Irish Catholic family that was large, close, and very loving and supportive of each other. But what amazed me the most was that he loved children. He had many nieces and nephews that he couldn't stop talking about. When, on our second date, I hesitantly brought up the fact that I was going to be a first time father in the coming year, he was as excited about the idea as much as I was. If I hadn't already been falling for those beautiful brown eyes and his wonderful smile, that excitement would have done it.

On our first Valentine together I got home from work in the evening to find that he had made me a wonderful and fancy dinner with a chocolate cake for dessert. We danced our first slow dance together in the living room of my first apartment (Do You Want To Dance) and I gave him a key to my apartment for his gift.

That was twelve years ago. Since then our family has grown, both our families have welcomed each other with open arms. We've had our ups and down, our fights, tragedies that have brought us closer together, but most of all, a lot of laughter.

As I started to say at the beginning of this, we are very much opposites. I worry about very little (a horrible flaw), he worries for both of us. I do worry about every little thing the kids do while he holds me back from wrapping them in bubble wrap. He's a much more serious person and I'll make a joke about anything, even if it isn't appropriate. OH! And he drives me nuts as much as I drive him nuts, but for different reasons, of course.

But the other day I was driving home from my comic shop, playing the soundtrack to Rent, and when I got to the song "I'll Cover You", my thoughts went to him as they always do when a romantic song comes on the radio. I'm the luckiest man in the world. Not only because he loves me, but because he still puts up with me after nearly twelve years.

And that really big thing that we are not opposites about... our family. We're proud of what we have helped create with Laverne and Shirley. Family is everything to both of us. So that's the story of my best friend. He's my ups and downs, my pride, my joy!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cat Splash Fever

We love animals in our family. Chandler and I have two dogs (Cassie and Xander), two kittens (Floyd and Jack) and two turtles (Franklin and Whistle). The turtles are actually Angels and stay here at his dad's house. The kittens are our newest addition to the family. We got them when they were six weeks old and they are brothers. They come from Chandler's sisters house. Her family lives out in the country and have several cats that live in the yard and garage, so kittens tend to happen quite a bit out there.

I wasn't sure if I would ever want a cat in the house again. When Chandler and I moved in together I had a beautiful long haired white cat named Chi-Chi. I got her when she was just under a year old and I was with my ex. Actually it was Shirley and a mutual friend of ours who found her and pointed me in her direction. Chi-Chi lived to be about twenty years old. There were many, many nights when I was on my own for the first time that she was the only other living being in the apartment with me. She was my faithful companion (or familiar I suppose) and when we had to put her to sleep it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.

It took two years before I finally decided to take the plunge again, but this time Chandler and I decided to get two kittens so that they would have each other to play with. This has turned out to be a blessing... and a nightmare.

Kittens are crazy creatures. Incredibly curious and unafraid; but still hilariously skittish. Nothing is funnier than watching a startled cat suddenly jump completely in the air.

Now if only I can convince them that taking a bath with me is not a normal part of life. I love to soak in a hot bath in the evenings with a book, magazine, graphic novel, or usually one of my many comics that I read. Since Jack and Floyd have shown up I've had to skip the paper material because I don't want the stuff to get wet. You see, they love to prowl around the sides of our sunken in tub. Now that alone is okay, except they are still kittens so their balance is not what it should be yet.

Twice now Jack, while purring away, has slipped and fallen into the tub. It's kind of funny so see him scrambling to get out while his back legs keep slipping and he keeps falling back in. You'd think after the first time it would have put him off tub hoping, but he keeps coming back for more.

Floyd is even stranger with water. He climbs on the top of the tub, onto my shoulder and down my chest to sit on my stomach; then leans over and drinks the water. Actually I thought this was mind blowing and kind of cute until it dawned on me that if Floyd got too wet or freaked out, not only could I be in trouble, but the most important part of me could be in some serious trouble as well! So I put a stop to that rather quickly. No way I wanted to explain that kind of injury to an emergency room doctor.

Honestly, I thought cats were afraid of water. I'm not sure why these two are so into taking baths with me? Perhaps in a past life they were a pair of catfish?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer days drifting away...

This has really been one of the more enjoyable summers I've seen in a long time. Rarely real hot and never too cold; although for me cold is never the issue. I've never been a big fan of summer.
As a child, because of my allergies, I spent most of the time in our finished basement, reading Stephen King novels, comic books, or watching our old black and white television. I loved that old television. In fact, even when I was home from college I would watch that old set. Even the Cosby Show and Cheers never lost their charm in black and white.

I digressed. Summer. Ah yes. Terrible season. I hate sweating, and thanks to my maternal grandfather I'm predisposed to sweating in any temperature over seventy degrees, it seems. I'm not really an outside kind of guy, and I dislike most bugs. What I DO like is summer evenings, though. Especially when the sun has just set and the western sky is full of oranges, reds, and that beautiful twilight blue. It's my favorite time of day, when it's not happening at 4:30 in the afternoon, that is. There's one mark against winter.

Now I'll tell you a secret. I like fall and winter because it puts our kids back in school. Swim-meets, band and choir concerts, family holidays together, parent/teacher conferences, class trips, class events - I love it all! But I feel guilty about it, too. You see, the kids moms? You know, Laverne and Shirley? They're school teachers so to them the coming fall is not as exciting. They like their summers off and their camping trips with the kids. I can't blame them, I would too.

But for me, I'll take the sweatshirt weather, college football, and all that wonderful school stuff, any day. It really has been one terrific summer this year, but I'm smiling a little more each night as the temperature dips down into blanket weather again. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Teaching an old dog a new trick.

Our trip to the mountains of Pennsylvania was to be my topic for my next blog, but as life has a way of doing, plans changed in a very sad way.

On our way home I received a call from Shirley that the family's dog had gotten sick while we were gone and a trip to the vet revealed that she was terminally ill. The decision had been made to put her to sleep, but they had put the girl on drugs to keep her out of pain until the kids came home and get a chance to say their goodbyes. I was floored, and unable to say much since the kids were in the car with me.

The kids were naturally upset when they were told. Buffy excused herself to her room, Willow had not been with us so she already had known. Angel wept and Spike being the youngest asked a lot of questions, understanding, but not fully comprehending I think. While they were being told, the Golden Retriever named Carmel was sitting in front of me and I was petting her. I realized at that moment that this beautiful creature created by God was the only animal that had ever taught me a very important lesson.

I've always been more of a cat person, myself, but growing up my family did have a loyal and faithful pet dog that was a member of our family from the time I was 3 until my first year of college.

However, I never liked big dogs. Not sure why, really. Could have been the fact that my mother was always in fear of big dogs, perhaps. Or maybe it came from something else entirely, fact is, big dogs of any kind make me uncomfortable. When the moms got Carmel, Angel was a toddler I think, Buffy was perhaps five, Willow a preteen and Spike was either a baby or hadn't even shown up yet (now there's a blog for another day!). So the idea that there was now a big dog living in the same house as our children made me uncomfortable.

Funny things about dogs, though, they sense human emotions more than I think we realize. From day one Carmel seemed to constantly want to be with me. As soon as we'd get out of the car when showing up at the house, she would be there, jumping on me, pawing at my arms and refusing to let me move. Laverne and Shirley were both understanding, though nothing was ever said, and would call her off of me. Though after about five or ten minutes she would be right back where she started.

At first I would pat her and try to get away as quickly as possible. Then through time that turned into a little petting behind the ear and a slower move towards a chair or the couch. Even as the years went on, that girl never gave up. There she was on the passenger side of the car, waiting for me to step out so she could maul, paw, and lather me with that unconditional love that she was determined to show me that big dogs possessed just like the medium and small ones.

A few years later I found myself petting her more and joking with Chandler about Carmel waiting for me before we would pull into the driveway. I didn't even realize it then, but I was finding myself enjoying that moment when she saw me. Before she had begun to show signs of her age and gotten sick, I was now fully in love with this golden girl and stopped running from her, and went to her.

I'm going to miss Carmel as much as I do my cat of 20 years and more than I miss the old family dog. This girl was a true one of a kind. She showed me two things about life. She showed me that my dislike of large dogs was stupid, and that with perseverance, patience, and continual love, you can bring anyone around.

Goodbye old girl. You were beautiful, you were loved, and you gave love; but most importantly, you taught this old dog a new trick. I thank you for that. I'll miss you.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Captain's Chair.

This last Sunday Chandler, Laverne, Shirley and I decided to have a parents day. We took Buffy, Angel, and Spike over to Chandler's family to spend the night with their cousins while we headed up to Detroit for the afternoon.

First stop was the Detroit Science Center where we got tickets to the Star Trek exhibit that they have going on. It was a lot of fun and they actually had a full scale replica of the original bridge to the Enterprise. I can't deny that I was in total geek heaven when I took the two steps up the platform and sat myself in the Captain's Chair; also got a real thrill sitting at the Helm as well. But the best view had to have been at the view screen looking towards the bridge, seeing the whole thing right there in front of me. I told Chandler I wanted one of these for our new house that we are building. I don't think it's going to happen, but wow could the kids and I have fun with something like that!

Part of the package that we bought was a chance to watch the new Star Trek movie on their IMAX screen. So we went into the theater expecting a large screen, but I don't think none of us were prepared for the dome shaped screen that was facing us. The chairs reclined way back, which was good for viewing, horrible for my back. The air conditioning was blasting away and although the exterior shots of the Enterprise and any planet terrain was awesome, the constant quick action of the camera's during the battle scene's made everything out of focus and rather nauseating.

I couldn't help but laugh, though. Here we were, the four of us who have spent the last 12 to 20 years together; who have stayed up all night and partied hardy when we were younger, were now sitting there like four old people.

"It's too cold in here." Chandler would hiss to my right.

"This chair is killing my back." I hissed back.

"The movie is making me sick to my stomach." Laverne moaned to my left.

We really aren't as young as we used to be. Then after the movie we headed into Greektown for some excellent Chicago style pizza and a trip to the ice cream parlor before heading home. Both of which were excellent.

All in all, it was a great day and one that I think I needed. Going from day to day we tend to lose ourselves in our children, our work, our responsibilities; so having some time like this reminded me of the bond that we've all forged and how important that bond is.

I do have one regret, though. I wish we had had the kids there so we could have taken a picture of the entire family on the bridge of the Enterprise. What a great photo that would have been. Of course since I'm the oldest member of this clan, I claim the Captain's Chair.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Good Morning Star Shine

On the weekends I tend to stay up rather late; actually to the early hours of the morning. I've always been a night owl and it's usually when I do most of my writing. Since most of the time it's just Chandler and I on the weekends it's easy to sleep in. However when we have the children with us, it makes sleeping in near impossible. And I love it!

This morning I woke up to the sounds of Angel and Spike running through the house pretending to be different superheroes as they fought with their plastic swords, shouting out different hero names (depending on who they thought could defeat whom at that moment). It was a beautiful sound that was intermixed with Chandler's soft laughter at the boys as some pretty witty comments came out of the mouths of both our children.

Now in about half an hour I'm going to have to wake up Buffy from her slumber. She and I stayed up late and watched The Untouchables last night. I love sharing my late nights with both my girls and eventually the boys when they get older. It's our special time and a chance to show them some of the movies that the boys are not yet old enough to watch. And like me, both of them are night owls as well.

The difference? Teenagers are not so easy to wake up! In fact I asked everyone else in the house if they wanted to do the honors. I've never seen a room clear out so fast in my life!

But you know what? I'd take the joy of this beautiful noise over a quite home, anyday! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

That's Robert Reed to you.

So here I sit, ready to try my hand at my first blog. I guess I'll start the way that everyone starts when they want someone to get to know them; I'll tell you a bit about myself and the most important people in my life.

I am a 43 year old man with a husband of 12 years. Let us call him, Chandler (41). We have four children: Willow (16) and Buffy (13) are our two girls; Angel (11) and Spike (7) are our two boys. They live with their two moms: Laverne (are you kidding, she'll kill me if I tell you) and Shirley (and this one will burn the body). This is my family. I like to think of them as God's gift for surviving my wild years.

And hopefully you noticed the theme by now. I love everything pop culture, with television and comics right at the top of that list.

I hope to share exploits of our own little Brady Bunch and the happiness that they have brought me, along with stray thoughts that come out of this twilight zone of a mind that I have.

Hope you stick around!