Category Archives: Family

Bigger, Higher Bed Move

Jasper, what’s it like now you’re in a big bed?

Jasper as of this evening moved out of his crib / bed where he’s slept all his life and moved into the lower bunk. The “bigger bed” he’s been wanting for awhile. 

Except being the nearly 4-year-old contrarian that he is he protested mightily that he didn’t want that bed. Jack did the same thing moving up from the bottom bunk to the top bunk.

“Ittttttttt’s like watching TV amd wrapping presents.”

Jasper then proceeded to act like he was on meth, speed, green bullets – any kind of stimulant or all kinds. He started singing jingle farts and then his butt provided the chorus.

Eddie is on the floor in a sleepimg bag at least one more night until we find the twin bed mattress. 

Love these kids.

It’s a Long Way Home

I slipped under the sheet at 11:49 in the same worn bed. In a new bedroom with a new soft light glowing on the walls. 

We’ve moved and after many hours and one final trip for medicine and toiletries in the 10 o clock hour I kissed my bride good night and relaxed in the bathroom. 

And I had a bath. I don’t think I owned a smartphone the last time I had a bath. No maybe that’s not true. At our house on Magdalena I think we attempted one. But it was too small for the likes of us so it was short. 

The cats are wandering around, clearly  befuddled and bemused. And meowing loudly and climbing in cupboards and elsewhere.

The dog is taking it in stride. We ate Wendy’s chicken sandwiches and nuggets and drank lemonade and unsweetened iced tea. Our three boys are randomly patterned in sleeping bags in their new home. 

There is still much to do; essentially to go get the clutter. Right now our house is sparsely, wonderfully, barren. A large house with vaulted ceilings. A house I don’t hit my head on chandeliers and low door frame tops. A house with hallways I can walk down without turning my body. 

A house of opportunity and restarting. 


Aaaaand Done Wrapping

It’s only 20:00 so that’s about 6 hours ahead of my normal Christmas present wrapping schedule.

Now stressing about what time to put out presents and Stock Aitken and Waterman’s. 

Toddler Realism

Mom: Stop bringing the realism (talking to me about working at a Tucson glass company)

Jasper overhearing: Sorry mom that was me. 

Just Read … Can’t Breathe

Just read “Where The Wild Things Are” so well to Jasper that I can’t breathe.

So he’s “reading it himself” while I cough take pictures and cough and type and still can’t breathe. 

While My Dad Gently Weeps

[and mom, too]

So that was attempt two.

Jack, 6, has now ended his guitar lessons for the second time. Here’s some of the story why.

“You’re boring.”
“You don’t teach me anything.”
“I hate the guitar.”
“ I like Mr. Tracy, I don’t like you.”
“Chords are way easier than tabs.”
“It’s too hard.”
“I dooooooooon’t liiiiiiiike Smoke On the Waaaaaater.”

Many angry moments, 99.99% of them coming from 6-year-old Jack. He loves his classes with his teacher Tracy, a guy with a Mohawk who has a surfer dude vibe and is, in fact a really nice guy. But no matter how sweetly or calmly or reasonably we talked to him, he would refuse to practice. (“Tracy wants you to practice.” “He wants to teach someone who’s trying.”)

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this but the more you try to reason with your kid the more upset you become because, goddamnit, who can’t see reason? That’s logical, right? Yup. Correct, and it should be no surprise that kids are not always the most logical of animals. Still, it should work and it’s good to try, right? Sure.

When we said the lessons had to end unless he could practice (because we couldn’t just stand there trying to get him to do his lesson all evening) he got angry, as well.

Ultimately he was being verbally abusive to us. So much so, I went to a couple of lessons because I had no frame of reference to help him with his lessons, and Carrie was taking the brunt of it all. So now instead of him just calling her names, I got called names, too.

He’s really good at insults. Advanced. It was a power battle of wills just for a 10-minute lesson, and we were being made miserable having to deal with it. And, of course, the whole point is for him to have fun and enjoy. And he wasn’t.

His last practice was Sunday when he actually did a double lesson to make up for refusing to do one Saturday.

Monday we talked to his music teacher asking if it made sense for us to stop lessons as he wouldn’t practice. Tracy said he’d talk to him about it. Tuesday we had his actual lesson and Tracy weaved in the importance of practice more than usual, and even taught him a new song, Happy Birthday because Jack said he wanted to play it on my birthday, next week. Sadly, that’s pretty unlikely to happen right now though a Jack-guitar, Eddie-flute duet was something I was looking forward to.

At the end of Jack’s lesson, his teacher showed him a practice schedule and went through it, 1) Name the strings 2) Go through chords at least 2 times, both up and down 3) Play Smoke On the Water 4) Misc., anything he wanted.

Wednesday, he refused to do his lesson.

With Eddie and Carrie at his flute lesson (he did great, apparently) I was home by myself for awhile cooking dinner and trying to stop Jasper, 2yo, getting into everything. Jasper lost his mind and wouldn’t stop crying – very loudly – because he got into (What, really? Yeah, I know.) candy and I took it away.

I could not pull enough emotional strength from the reserve to sit down and talk with Jack at all about his lesson. I did say he would do his lesson in the morning, instead and, recognizing that I was at my emotional end, I said he could just play so I could just cook dinner (a dinner, which was delicious if a little too spicy for the kids; easily fixed next time.). Yeah, I folded a little but it was survival.

Thursday dawned with promise. I woke up early and, after he got dressed, Jack sat down fairly quickly with guitar in hand and with negligible complaint, he named the strings, and he got through the chords. He made his own checkmarks and seemed to be, pretty much, having fun. And then he wasn’t. He didn’t want to play Deep Purple’s opus. He hit some invisible wall. It was at this point he moaned, the line above, “I dooooooooon’t liiiiiiiike Smoke On the Waaaaaater.”

Tried that reasoning thing again, but guess what, ain’t no one gonna beg:

“Mr. Tracy wants you to play it because it has the building blocks to better songs.”
“Go ahead and play Happy Birthday instead then.”
“You have to start again. You haven’t played a note in 5 minutes.”

Through the brief conversation the day before, and as many times as I could repeat it Thursday morning we talked about us having to stop practice AND lessons. It was clear.

Because: Because he was being nasty mean to us and we weren’t having fun, either.
Because: Because he was not practicing
Because: Because we can’t do this every night
Because: Because you can’t just do parts of the practice
Because: Because we didn’t want to waste everyone’s time and money.
Because: Because it was taking time and energy away from other things – and brothers – we also needed to do of equal importance.
Because: Because sometimes the squeaky wheel doesn’t get the oil.

I’m blinking back tears a little as I write this because it seems like such a failure as a parent not to be able to get your kid to enjoy something as awesome as a guitar. Though we had two Steinway pianos at home, my parents never pushed learning musical instruments on me, at all. At all. And, for whatever reason I never asked, even though I love and loved music.

This background adds to the sense of failure because I know, now, that I regret not being able to play anything and I don’t want Jack to have that regret. He’s 6, it’s not the end of everything but as I watched him put his guitar back in its case for the final time, heard him mumble, “Now, I don’t have to practice” …. [almost lost it there]

… and didn’t make a big deal but just put it away and let him have breakfast, I felt extremely sad, that we’d done something we tell the kids is never good – we’d given up.

This one doesn’t have a happy ending … … … … … … … … … yet. I can tell myself we’re doing great even trying to get him to learn the guitar at such a young age. Someone said that at the Meet the Teacher night, Thursday evening. I can tell myself a lot of things, but the sting of failure has inflamed things to a point where none of it helps. A few more days are going to have to pass, before I can reason … with myself.

Still, “Chords are way easier than tabs.” … Jack didn’t know that a couple of months ago.

Watching the Last Unicorn today

Watched the Last Unicorn today. The 1982 animated version where LU is set up as very princessy and feminine. This characterization is not what I remember when reading the book when I was 8. I still have the book… somewhere. I think it would not have stayed with me as long as it had of that was the case. But Peter Beagle wrote this screenplay, too.

And a few times, when the unicorn seemed in the most trouble, Carrie and I looked over and Jasper was in full-blown sad mode with his bottom lip in full protuberance, his hands clasped and nervously working on each other and one tear rolling down his cheek from his left eye. 

Cancer – Feeling Helpless

Cancer has an amazing capacity to destroy, deform and debilitate. Feeling helpless in helping friends and family who have it or have very close loved ones who have cancer brings those same qualities. You can fight cancer – and win – but it’s hard to fight feeling helpless.

One way to fight that feeling is to recognize that:

1) you are doing what you can

2) you are doing as much as the person will allow you to do. what that means is, some people aren’t comfortable at all with receiving help and it’s very hard for them. Traditionally this is viewed as a strength – he / she fought with dignity and did it their way. That is the easier route when it comes to cancer. Letting people in, letting you see their hurt, requires a strong bond and requires everyone seeing and dealing with atypical aspects of life and death, which alway seem to loom close even when death really hasn’t got a chance.

3) even the smallest thing being done, flowers, a hug, a short letter, matters as long as it’s sincere. There isn’t enough sincerity in the world. Any action along these lines is a positive in an ocean of problems created one drop at a time running off the person’s body. Cancer water torture.

Even doing something, you will still feel helpless to some extent. You won’t be a cure, but you can make a lot of the painful symptoms disappear.

Directly, I know six people who have cancer or who are dealing with a family member with cancer. Well, since one is my wife I would also have to include my children and my and her whole family. Cancer, even in remission is always more of a reality after it’s arrived than just the “theoretical” idea that people get cancer. That reality is a much bigger part of life that easily blocks out all other things a lot of the time. That’s a separate fight, shared by the family, friends and the person with cancer.


Eddie, 9, said he had a teacher at summer school.

“She said her name was Miss. Isis. I asked her if that was like ISIS, the murderists…”

I laughed at “murderists,” then said she’s probably heard that before.

“Kiran asked her first.”

Carrie said later maybe he could make up for that question by finding out about the Goddess Isis.

For instance she was the daughter of Geb and Nut. Nut? Ha ha. Have to love the short names, too. Osiris was her brother.

She was also a member of the Ennead, which also now tasks people with personality types with their Enneagram Test.

Knock Knock Joke From a 2-year-old

Eddie and Jack have been bombarding us with Knock Knock jokes. Blame – Iiiiii mean credit – classmates and “Boys Life” Magazine.

Jasper has caught on to the, um, “hilarity” and offered his own yesterday. Usually, he says Knock Knock and when you say “Who’s there” he repeats “Who’s there,” except “who der?” and way cuter. This time it went like this:

JASPER: Knot knot
ME: Who’s there?
JASPER: Heck yeeeah, Japper.

A Headline Perfectly Designed for Kids

No, not that one.

This one: “This beetle’s butt is basically a machine gun

And the article, at the Washington Post backs up the bluster. The lede:

Ever heard of the bombardier beetle? It’s aptly named: When threatened, the beetle doesn’t just excrete deadly chemicals. It actually mixes them up in an internal chamber, then fires the reaction off as a near-boiling, high-speed spray from its rear end. Now researchers have figured out how the beetles manage to aim and fire these noxious rounds at enemies.

Bonus, there’s a University of Arizona connection. They research the serious stuff.

Arizona Hikes With the Best Scenery

This article “10 Fitness Hikes With Tremendous Views” from AZ Central | Arizona Republic showcases some of the best hikes in Arizona, primarily for the views not for the exercise or difficulty.

This might translate into kid-friendliness.

Top 10 Books


Defining your own top 10 is a lifetime exercise.

Are you listing them because you enjoy them, because you learned from them, because you think you should read them again, because you’re nostalgic for them, because you admire the author, because you think they’ll impress others? All but the last are good, valid reasons for putting a list together.

My list is a combination of 85% enjoyment and 15% nostalgia. I read for enjoyment, for escape for stretching my brain on its imagination side. As a result, there are few non-fiction books or biographies because pure enjoyment is rarely there. I enjoy the learning and the discovery but both are included in more entertaining ways in my list. In the order I thought of them.

The entire DragonLance series (particularly the Time of the Twins, War of the Twins and Test of the Twins trilogy) – Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
Othello – William Shakespeare
Butcher’s Moon – Richard Stark
The Last Unicorn – Peter Beagle
The Rainbow Goblins – Ul De Rico
Xanth series – Piers Anthony (particularly the first 6)
Smoke Signals – Sherman Alexie
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (collection of stories) – Arthur Conan Doyle
The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury (this was the cover I had on the one I read when I was a pre-teen, used then)

Now having Bradbury last was just a complete oversight. He’s my favorite author. He’s very minimalistic in creating deep and complex landscapes, scenes and characters. This approach really let’s you, the reader, fill in a lot of gaps.

Butcher’s moon is a book, I believe I still have. I remember it very well, even though it was a throwaway read after I found it somewhere in a bookstore as a teenager.

The Rainbow Goblins saturates your mind (and belly?) with color, visually and I remember it when I was a kid and have now been able to read it to my kids.

The Last Unicorn is also a book from my childhood (I was a VERY early reader and read a lot) that has stayed with me. I believe my mom owned this and I picked it up one day and it was very sad. I believe my mom probably still has it. I was disappointed to know that the film version is not that great.

The New Skylanders Trap Team


Saw this at Target, caught me completely by surprise.

The most important thing to know about the new Skylanders Trap Team is that ALL older Skylanders will work in the new adventure and on the new portal.

It also comes out October 5, and cost about $75, so we’ll have to wait a little. It is available for regular Wii.

That’s cool. And a wildly big improvement over SWAPForce, which I would not buy – or could not justify buying as we were still getting through the Skylanders Giants game. I’ve since got through the entire game (though need to get higher 3-star scores at several levels.)

But Trap Team seems like a winner and I’m excited about it. Eddie and Jack will enjoy it too (even though Jack still needs someone to move around while he shoots).

The Skylanders website is not the best place to get all your questions, answered; that would be too easy. But the Trap Team official website is a good place to get a back story – which oddly , only helps slightly. For instance, I’m not really sure what this means – “Take control of bad guys! Trap bad guys with the power of Traptanium, release them from the crystals and use their awesome powers for good.”

There appears to be actual USB-type keys in a fancy shape that will interact somehow with the game. Taking them out of the game until they can be pulled back in? Not sure.

1 of Wiisdom offers some more Trap Team insight, including some names of characters and a little more explanation of the game. The site names Skylanders Character List, as you might expect has more names and some pictures of the new Trap Team Skylanders characters.

There about 60 new characters. So that would be about another $850 investment. Yeah, it adds up. We haven’t even bought all the Giants characters, yet.

That Easter Chill

Holidays bring happy times and cold quick rashes of fear. These are almost always brought on by surprises coming at your knees. Or at least knee level in the form of – and this is what makes it piercingly painful and progressively poignant – words said in the most sweetest, excited happy way possible.

Words like “Happy Easter, Daddy” shouted behind you. OK to be honest they weren’t said any louder than any other time but the bunny ears I had on at the time magnified the sound.

Rebel Without Ability to Read

Do you need an explanation for cuteness? alright, today was Crazy Hair Day today at the pre-school. My idea of just cutting random bits of hair off was vetoed (but really if I saw that, that person crazy). I gelled it up with two different brands – something and Bed Head for the jeans and a white t-shirt, mod / Bowery boy / 50s style look. IMG_3042




Jack Sings – You Are So Beautiful To Me

Last night at dinner Jack broke into song, looking a little at me but mostly at Carrie:
Imagine the sweetest little boy voice ever, slowly singing, accompanied with a shy smile, ending with self-applause (and applause from parents a beat later).

“You are so beautiful I see.
You’re everything I see.
You are everything to see.
You are so wonderful I see.

I had no idea who sang it originally, or how he got that song in his head. I was a little too stunned to remember to ask. I found out it was Joe Cocker and the actual words are below. I have now bought the song to put on my iPhone.

You are so beautiful
To me
You are so beautiful
To me
Can’t you see
You’re everything I hoped for
You’re everything I need
You are so beautiful
To me

You are so wonderful
To me
You are so wonderful
To me
Can’t you see
You’re everything I hoped for
You’re everything I need
You are so wonderful
To me

You are so beautiful
To me
You are so beautiful
To me
Can’t you see
You’re everything I hoped for
You’re everything I need
You are so beautiful
To me

Jasper Stark – 11 months old today

Almost a year old. Yep, that time flies fast.

These photos are Jasper this morning. He sits up. He kneels and stands up all over the place now. He does not walk, yet, though when he pulls himself up on a chair, on an ottoman, he will stand for 30 mins or so.

He waves now if you wave to him; he claps his hands, he claps his feet. He has a sly smile. He laughs a lot. He sleeps less. A lot less, so much so yesterday the daycare remarked on. “He seems to .. not sleep.” He has big eyes, big feet. Lightning quick grabbing glasses. Likes his crawling freedom. Over the weekend we took a picture of him looking an awful lot like his great grand dad J.R. Anderson.

Jasper J.C. Stark, 11 months old today. :D We’re celebrating with a BBQ in your honor in February.