Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Living the Team Clean dream...

    About three or four months ago, a friend of ours, Carol Paul, sent us the book she had written, suggesting that mentioning it in a Funny Guy Friday post would be a natural fit, given our family's history on this subject. It was signed with a nice personal note.
    Now, I am not one for hyperbole, but... Carol's father is the greatest high school basketball coach in the history of... the universe.
    That's right, I said universe!
    I am always looking for a good topic to write about each week, and a funny book review for the daughter of a great basketball coach sounded like a novel idea. I was sure her book would have had something to do with basketball. Sounded like a great plan... right up until I read the inside cover!  Spoiler alert: This book is not really about basketball at all!
    I quickly made two assessments.
    First, I decided that I would not read the book. The real topic did not interest me, and it would have required too much of an effort from me. Second, I hid the book from Cheryl because... well, because the topic did not interest me, and it would have required too much of an effort from me.
    Several weeks went by and life was good.
    I wasn't reading much of anything, and frankly, I was not putting forth too much effort in any of my daily endeavors. Then I made the mistake of attending a fundraiser at Pallotti High School. As part of the fundraiser, Cheryl and I purchased a "going away to college" basket for Gracie. It had lots of fun stuff: a wicker hamper full of sheets, towels, a microwave oven, a lamp, a clock and... that book! 
    By the time we got home, that book was buried at the bottom of the hamper, so I couldn't sneak it out before Cheryl spotted it. Life as I knew it, was over. Once you hear what it says on the cover of the book, it will all become perfectly clear to you:
    ~ TEAM CLEAN ~
    ~ The End Of Cleaning Alone ~
    ~ The Ultimate Family Clean-Up-The-House Formula ~
    Truth is... cleaning alone never really bothered me.
    In fact, I enjoyed it.
    To clarify: Cheryl cleaning alone never really bothered me.
    She isn't perfect, but when she gets going, she's good. And bonus: when my mom comes over for the weekend, the two of them seem to get all the cleaning stuff done... no sweat.
    Suddenly, I knew Cheryl would read this book and get some lame-brain idea to include me in the cleaning process. I bring home the bacon and I occasionally fry it up in the pan... do I really need to wash the pan, too?
    Look, I don't care if she drags the kids into this Team Clean thing, but is it necessary for me to grab a bucket and mop?
    My fears became a reality about three weeks ago when Cheryl announced that we were going to be a Team Clean family.  She made a chart and everything.
    The way she explained it was that each family member is a player on the Team Clean team. We are assigned a position/job, and once a week we will set aside a specific evening for cleaning the house, each with our specific jobs to do. If done correctly, "the whole process takes less than an hour." Once the job is done, the family/team orders take-out and enjoys a fun family activity.
The banter began. I went first:
    We already eat out as it is... and we do fun family stuff all the time. Do we really need to clean up first?
    I will agree that we do eat out a lot... and we do have fun together as a family... but the house is a mess!
    I'll see if my mom can come over more often. You two work great together! 
    You're sad. We are doing Team Clean! By the way, the kids bet me that you wouldn't do it.
    How much did they bet you?
    Ten dollars.
    Give me five, collect ten from them, and we both get to wet our beaks! 
    Did I mention that you're just sad?
    Cheryl picked Thursday night to begin the Great Project.  
    I say no, Thursdays are bad for me... I have stuff going on. You know, as I look at my calendar, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday don't look too good either!
    This little trick did not fool my wife.
    Thursdays it is!
    It gets worse. She picked the first Thursday of the NCAA basketball tournament, and there were games to watch. There is no way our friend's dad, you remember him, "the greatest high school basketball coach in the universe," would have ever wanted us to start on a Thursday when there were games to watch!
    At least Cheryl asked me which task I wanted to work on. The answer was easy: wherever there was a TV, so I could watch the games! I drew the 36 inch TV in the bedroom.
    On a side note... Man, we've got a lot of clothes.
    We started at 6:45 and planned that after our hour of cleaning, we'd eat a yummy dinner and watch a show or play cards... all by 8pm.
    Big mistake. The hour turned into two... then stretched into two-and-a-half.
    Finally, the house was clean... but the kids were famished!
    I was sure there had to be a learning curve here and that Week 2 would surely go a bit faster. I know that the bedroom was going to go faster because there was no way that I was going to let anybody leave a towel, a sock, a bowl, or a wrapper anywhere near that room during the week. I became a bit territorial and I even considered... ahem... marking my territory just to let everyone know to back off. I decided against it when I realized it would just result in more cleanup work for me on Thursday!
    I am happy to report that Week 2 did go much faster. In fact, I got done so quickly that I was able to actually get to my other position... cleaning the kitchen counters and appliances.
    In fact, it went so well that I decided to actually read the book.
    What I discovered was shocking... Cheryl was not following all the Team Clean Building Blocks. We didn't declutter. We didn't purchase the correct "game equipment." We didn't get waste baskets for every room (although that one seems to be optional).  I think she just wanted me to help clean up.
    Chapter 9 says that the coach should be "the one who blindly believes in Team Clean!" If Cheryl thinks that she can keep her job as coach, she'd better stick to the game plan because I am all in.
    Of course, if UCLA is playing Florida, I am all in... in the bedroom... with the 36 inch TV.
    As far as the book is concerned, it is a quick read... and after two weeks, it seems to be making a big difference in our household.
    So on the sponge scale... where one sponge is the worst book ever... and 5 sponges is a life changer... I will give Team Clean 5 sponges!
    I highly recommend it.
    Not to cheat Ms. Paul out of a sale, but I have an extra copy if anyone needs it.

Our Team Clean Chart

Friday, March 21, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... If you ever think of suing us, think again...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     The last few weeks have been tough on my relationship with my daughter Grace. It all started with some girl in New Jersey suing her parents.
     In case you haven't heard, some 18-year-old girl moved out of her parents' home and in with a friend. She then sued her parents, requesting that they continue to finance her private school education and, in essence, pay her support.
     The case has received a great deal of publicity, and, unfortunately, some of the letters that this young  woman wrote to, and about, her mother were made public.
     Now, I know there are two sides to every story, and there may be some great reason for this kid to sue her parents... or write awful things about her mom. The problem is... I can't think of any. And worse for Grace, I could not think of a single reason why Grace would want to sue Cheryl and me.
     I decided to let Grace know exactly how I felt about this whole situation as she sat in front of the TV in a semi-comatose state.
     Let me be very clear about this... if you ever even think about suing me or your mother, you better think long and hard about what would happen. If you think for one second, that I would ever support you in any way after that dog and pony show, you are out of your mind. I don't have all the money in the world, but I am happy to provide for all of your needs, including a college education, a wedding, and whatever support you may need. But the second the ink is dry on your complaint, all that stops! I don't care if some idiot judge orders me to give you money, you ain't getting it. You get nothing... nothing for school... nothing for your wedding... nothing when I die. That's right, I am worth millions dead, and you won't even sniff one red cent... NOT ONE PENNY! The boys get it all! Oh, and one more thing, you write terrible things about your mother, you might end up requiring surgery to get my foot out of your rear end! Are we clear? You ungrateful little...
     Grace looked up and realizing the error of her ways said... Huh? What? What did I do? 
     Did you hear about this girl in New Jersey? 
     What girl? 
     An 18-year-old girl sued her parents.
     What does that have to do with me?
     You're 17... and... you know... you're a girl... and you're 17.
     Are you really mad at me because some girl in New Jersey sued her parents?
     Yes. As a matter of fact, I am. But that's not the only thing... there is other stuff, I just can't think of it right now because I am so mad about the stupid law suit you might file.  
     But a law suit was not the only thing that Grace may have been contemplating recently. She wants to get a tattoo. A tattoo. Can you believe that?
     Actually, she doesn't really say she wants a tattoo. But she does say that she doesn't think it's the worst thing you could do and that there isn't anything wrong with getting a tattoo. In my mind, that's the same as saying she wants a tattoo.
     What is wrong with her?  What has Cheryl done to my baby girl?
     Again, I made my position clear...
     Here are your options, carnival girl: Option 1... I pay for your college. Option 2... I pay for your tattoo and then I am done paying for anything else. You decide. 
     What if I get it and don't tell you about it?
     This just about made my head explode!
     I will find out and when I do, you are on your own. Remember the college, wedding and all that other stuff? Remember how much I am worth when I die? NOT ONE PENNY!
     Perhaps Gracie's just "poking the bear" to see the bear's reaction. But I am not taking any chances. She gets a tattoo, the bear will deprive her of all of his honey!
     Now you may see a pattern developing. Some people may think that as my kids grow up and make decisions on their own, I will try to influence those decisions with my financial resources. That I will try to control my kids with my money.
     Those people would be correct.
     Some people might say that this is the wrong approach.
     Who cares what they think!
     And I would say to those people: You do with your money what you and your inked up, litigious children want... and I will do what I want. And I will do it with a clear conscience, fully cognizant that it may not be fair to my children.
     I have told this story before, but several years ago, when my nephew made the Washington Post All-Met baseball team for the second year in a row, he was invited, for the second year in a row, to attend a breakfast to honor the athletes. He was scheduled to go to the beach with his girlfriend's family that same day, and my brother told him that he could decide what he would do. When my nephew informed my brother he was going to go to the beach, my brother told him that he was going to the breakfast. When my nephew reminded him that he had given him the choice, my brother told my nephew that he had given him the opportunity to make the right choice and since he did not, my brother made the correct choice for him,
     I love that story and have incorporated that style and attitude into my own parenting.
     If my kids don't do the right thing on their own, I will make them do the right thing... or I will do what I can to force them into doing the right thing. I will give them the opportunity to make decisions for themselves... before I step in and make them make the right decision... for all of us.
     Simple really.
     The fact of the matter is that I really don't have a ton of cash lying around. I mean we are doing okay, but in reality, the only person that will ever really be fat with cash is Cheryl... and that only happens when I am dead and gone! But what I do have, I will use any way I see fit.
     In a follow up to the tattoo discussion, Grace told me that if/when she does get a tattoo, she will get one that says "Dad."
     How ironic. You will have a tattoo that says "Dad," but you will no longer have a dad that will speak with you! 
     Grinning this whole time, Grace teased that maybe she already had a tattoo.
     Now that I think about it, if Grace really did have a tattoo, I would probably keel over and die of a heart attack as soon as I saw it. Grace would have her tattoo and Cheryl would have her cash.  They both might consider this a win/win.
     This is not good.
     You know, I would like to change something: I would not die of a heart attack; I would die of a broken heart. That's right, a broken heart. Poor old man killed by a heedless, impulsive, unnecessary act by his ungrateful daughter.
     Sad, so sad. Hard to believe that Grace would do such a thing to her dear ol' dad. Some day, you would hope that with the passage of time and some therapy, Grace would be able to forgive herself. Of course, her silly "Dad" tattoo will always be a constant reminder of me... and how she killed me!
     As you can see, money isn't the only thing I will use to get my kids to do the right thing. Guilt will do in a pinch! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Click click... click click... click click...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     Click click... click click... click click... click click... click click...
     They came in the mail.
     Click click... click click... click click... click click... click click...
     And they are REDONKULOUS!!! (yes... redonkulous is a word meaning awesomely awesome).
     Click click... click click... click click... click click... click click...
     What are they, you ask?
     Click click... click click... click click... click click... click click...
     They are Matthew's new metal baseball spikes.
     Click click... click click... click click... click click... click click...
     Matthew is thirteen now and can wear metal cleats.
     This may sound silly to those of you who never played baseball, but one of the greatest days of any young player's career is the day that he can wear metal spikes.
     Why's it such a great day?
     Is it because you get much greater traction than with those old molded cleats that you used to have to wear? Is it because they allow you to get to more ground balls than you used in those old molded cleats that you used to have to wear? Is it because they come in much cooler colors and designs than the old molded cleats that you used to wear? Can you jump higher in metal spikes than you could when you had to wear those old molded cleats?
     No... no... no... and no!
     To be clear, they do give you better traction. They do probably allow you to get to more ground balls. They may come in cooler colors and designs (more on that in a moment), and they may allow you to jump higher. I mean you start a little higher because of the spikes, so it stands to reason you get higher when you jump.
     The thing is that none of those things matter.
     No... it is such a great day because metal spikes make the coolest sound ever when you walk on tile, concrete, blacktop, or hardwood... although, I wouldn't recommend walking on the hardwood.
     I came home early on Tuesday and the box was there. I went to open it and Cheryl asked whether I shouldn't wait until Matthew came home from school.
      Of course not... it has my name on the box!
      Yes, but you know it's Matthew's new shoes.  
      I don't know for sure... it could be something for me. 
      Did you order something for yourself?
      No... but it has my name on it! I have to run out for a while, so I won't be here when he gets home... and I don't want to wait. Case closed... but the box is open!
      I had a twinge of remorse after I opened them and examined them, so I packaged them back up and re-taped them. The only problem was that I didn't have any packing tape, so I had to use scotch tape. I thought: Matthew is a bit of a dope, so he'll never notice.
      Unfortunately, he's not that much of a dope. He did notice. In fact, he made me feel even worse when I called to ask if he liked his new cleats and he said, I haven't opened them yet, I am waiting for you to get back home. By the way, nice tape job! 
      We went a different route this year. Traditionally, we are a dedicated lover of the Nike product  with an occasional tryst with Under Armour. This year we went completely off the plantation and selected the high-top New Balance Pedroia 4040BR2s... and they are SWEEEET!
      We like Dustin Pedroia, but he has nothing to do with our selection, unless of course he designed the darn things. And if he did design them, he is not only the best second baseman in baseball, he is the Calvin Klein of baseball. The Yves Saint Laurent of baseball. The Giorgio Armani of baseball. If he designed these babies, dare I say, he is the Babe Ruth of baseball cleat design.
      They are red, black, and white, with a little camo working throughout!
      I love 'em!
      Now if you think that I am getting a little overly excited about a stupid pair of cleats that I will never wear you'd be wrong because I did wear them. Those babies were out of the box and on my feet and clicking away on our kitchen tile in no time flat. I was disappointed because they were a half size too small. They did fit Matthew, so I begrudgingly allowed him to keep them.
     I was not alone in my excitement.
     Cheryl also loved them! In fact, she mentioned that she is not a lover of the cleat but these were so pretty. Pretty is not a word one uses to describe spikes, but I think you get the point. She couldn't stop talking about them and would not stop staring at them. She used to look at me like that... but I wasn't jealous... I completely understood.
      Wide-eyed, she kept gazing at them... turning them 'round and 'round... commenting that they are a boy's version of Dorothy's ruby slippers... only with spikes!
      Their (the cleats) first practice was scheduled for Wednesday night. I worried aloud whether or not this was a good idea.
      I mean... shouldn't we take it easy on them for their maiden voyage? Maybe a game of catch in the front yard? Or maybe wear them for the stretching part of practice in the outfield... away from the dust of the infield... and then put the old ones back on for the dirty part of practice. They are going to get dirty if you wear them out on that field. And there is a strong possibility that it is going to rain tonight! I say wait a few days.
      Dad, they are baseball cleats. They're going to get dirty no matter what I do.
      Yeah... but they're so... pretty!       
      The night was a complete disaster. I am not sure how Matthew played, and frankly, I don't care. He wore the cleats and it rained. First time out and they got all muddy. I should have put my foot down! I should have put on those cleats and put my foot down... of course not on the hardwood floors... and forbade him to wear them!
      As a parent, you make a million decisions for your kids and my decision to allow him to wear those cleats on Wednesday night was one of the worst!
      Look, as parents, we always like to take a bad situation and fix it for our kids. And although Matthew didn't seem like he actually cared... and he didn't actually ask me to do anything about it... I knew deep down he was hurting. Think about it, who wouldn't be upset by this cruel twist of baseball cleat fate. I had to do something.
      I knew I had to step in and save the day!
      I took an old rag and cleaned them up... good as new.
      Click click... click click... click click... click click... click click...
      And guess what...
      Click click... click click... click click... click click... click click...
      They still work!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Live by the quiz... Die by the quiz...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     Okay, I have to ask... are you Larry, Curly or Moe? Are you George, Paul, John or Ringo? Are you a goat, a tarantula, a giraffe, or a snake? Oh, I know, you are a MONKEY because you are taking all these silly quizzes that ask silly questions to determine what flower you would be if you were a flower, what drink you'd be if you were a drink, what animal you'd be if you were an animal, or what person you'd be if you were a... person.
     If you troll around Facebook long enough, you have to have seen someone post the results of their quiz. If I were a food, I would be a _______, what are you? If I lived in another time period, I would have lived in the ______, how about you? If I were a food, I would be a ______, how about you? And my personal favorite, If I were a potato, I would be ______... What potato would you be? 
     I think you get the picture!  It's a bunch of milarky!
     How do I know about all these silly quizzes, you ask?
     Because I take them, that's how!
     Cheryl makes me... but even if she didn't, how could I resist? I mean who hasn't lain awake at night wondering what Star Wars character they are. By the way, that one is not accurate because I am nothing like Jar Jar Binks. That dude is obnoxious, annoying and funny looking. I, on the other hand, am obnoxious, annoying and handsome. See the difference?
     Up until recently, Cheryl was all in. She has taken them all, boasting of the wonderful results she has achieved with her thoughtful answers to all those penetrating questions. Every answer leads to an eloquent, albeit occasionally foul-mouthed, recap of the positive characteristics of a snap dragon or Disney's Belle or a cosmopolitan martini. After reading aloud these enlightening personality sketches (i.e. she is a feisty, fragrant woman... who has been forced to live with a beast... while leading a stylish, trendy lifestyle) she always comments... I think that is me to a tee!  
     Really? I don't think she was ever forced to live with a beast!
     Did you notice that earlier I said "up until recently?" Yeah, she used to love these little quizzes until she took the one called: Which of the 12 Apostles are you?
     She was very excited to take this one. She was sure she was going to be Peter "the Rock" who happened to be Jesus's pick to lead the church. She thoughtfully answered  every question trying to give Pope-like answers... good Catholic answers like Pope Benedict or Pope John Paul might have given. You remember those kinds of answers. They were clear answers that were consistent with the teachings of the Catholic faith. More importantly, the Vatican was never required to scramble around for days trying to explain what they really meant!
     I think you get what I mean.
     Anyway, she was very excited as the computer tallied up her responses.
     Drum roll, please...........
     Judas Iscariot.
     That's right... she isn't Peter the Rock, she is Judas the Betrayer.
     Who knew?
     At first, she tried to run from this scientific fact.
     No way! I'm not Judas! This is not right. I'm retaking the test.
     Of course, I was sympathetic to her plight: You can't retake the test, Judas. You are what you are. You were happy when you got sushi, you were satisfied with Princess Amidala, and you were just giddy about living in Italy during the Renaissance... now you poo-poo Judas? No, you are Judas. That is what the testing shows, traitor... er... uh... Cheryl. 
     Fine... I suppose there is a little Judas in all of us, she said, apparently trying to come to grips with her fate.
     Don't try to pawn your Judas onto everyone else. You couldn't get me to be Judas for... 30 pieces of silver! Which I know you have... because you're Judas!
     Defeated, she worried: I will never live this down!
     Don't worry, honey, nobody will ever know! Hee hee hee.
     Hey... Live by the quiz. Die by the quiz.
     Ah... but these quizzes are contagious and have spread to the kids.
     Matthew brags that he "aces all these tests!" He claims to get all the "cool results." For instance he is Luke Skywalker, ice cream, The Incredibles, Flash, and Saint James.
    Dude, what is so cool about Saint James? Did he blog on Fridays?
    No. He is cool because he ain't Judas! 
    In an ironic twist, Grace took time out of her work schedule at California Tortilla to find out that she is a burrito. You are what you eat.
    As for me, evidently I'd like to party with Meryl Streep. I don't even like Meryl Streep. What a terrible twist of fate for a guy that looks like a cross between Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt... with the rocking personality of Jar Jar Binks... to have to hang out all night with Meryl Streep.
    What could possibly be worse?
    Oh, I know. I could have been stuck partying with Judas.
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