If this is your first time visiting, welcome. If you are returning again, welcome back. While this blog was originally not going to be about me or my life, it seems to be morphing to include more of myself and experiences. I will still strive to add a different perspective to the news and events around the world that impact everyone's life,however, I will focus more attention on issues that relate more tangibly to our personal lives. We all live in a world that is increasingly interconnected yet it seems a lot of people are turning inwards, shying away from human interaction. Lets step away from ourselves and see what we can do to make a difference. There are ads on this page and 65 cents of every dollar earned will be donated towards helping the homeless. If you like what you are reading, please share it with your friends.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Brother's Homeowner Fairy Tale

A couple of months go, my brother bought a three family house in Bridgeport, CT.  He got a good deal on the house and with a little initial help on the exterior, he was able to close fairly quickly and work on getting it rented.  The first floor was in excellent condition, the second floor needed and still needs some work, and the third floor in my opinion, should be gutted.   Well, within a very short period of time, he was able to get the first two floors rented and start paying the mortgage, luckily.  Then the fun began.  The caveat with getting the first two floors rented so quickly was that not much was able to be done on the second or third floors.  Lets take the third floor out of the equation and focus on the second.  For the most part, the majority of what it needed was paint, which got taken care of fairly quickly.  Another minor issue is that it does not really have any kitchen cabinets.  The only kitchen cabinet it has is the one that holds the sink.  Then there is the bathroom.  Completely outdated, it needs help, but for the time being it is functional, kind of.  Within probably a month of getting it rented, my brother started getting complaints that the ceiling was leaking in the bathroom on the first floor, presumably from the second.  As the bathrooms are stacked on top of each others, we figured out that it was somewhere around the shower that was causing the leak into the first floor.  So myself and a few contractor friends tried giving my brother suggestions on what to do and how to fix the problem.  We told him to start with re-grouting around any tiles areas on the walls around the shower that needed it and caulk all the edges.  He did that and it significantly reduced the leaking.  So at least we knew where the leak was coming from and it wasn't the drain, pipes, or anything major.  Just the walls around the shower.  Well, in order to get it back in complete working order, my brother asked me to go and re-grout some areas that he had missed.  So I go in one morning, take a look, start pushing a little, and find that the tiles have some give.  For those of you that don't know, tiles aren't supposed to have any give; they shouldn't move.  So I tell the tenant that I can't fix the problem right now, it is a little more involved, and will have to come back.

So yesterday I go back with my brother to try and fix the problem by pulling off the loose tile, re-applying them, and re-grouting.  So I pull of one tile, not bad, and about 40 tiles later I have to find a good stopping point so I don't pull the whole shower down and turn it into a nightmare.  (I have a feeling that it had become a nightmare for my brother at that point.)  It turns out that moisture was getting behind the tile through failed grout lines and had cause the tiles to release themselves from the glue or whatever they used to stick them on.  After the tiles popped off, I could get a good portion of the glue off with just my fingers, not good.  So we start re-claiming the tile, scraping the grout off the edges, the glue off the back, and while doing that, I notice that the wall behind the tile is starting to change color.  This gets me a little worried so I get my moisture meter from my van and find that a good portion of the concrete board has a moisture level at or above 25%, not really ideal for attaching new tile to.  So, a project that should have been done in about 3 hours was going to drag into another day, for my brother at least.  Unfortunately, yesterday was the only day that I could help him out and now he is left with putting the tile back up and re-grouting it.  And this is only a band aid.  The whole shower is going to need to be completely gutted and re-tiled in order for it to last and prevent future leaks downstairs.  The screws holding the concrete board to the studs are completely rusted and who knows how long they will be able to hold the tile and concrete board to the studs.  Hopefully this little band aid will last about six months so my brother can save up some money to re-do the shower properly.  If not, bigger issues will ensue. 

Before I left yesterday, I made sure to show my brother how to mix the thin set, how to apply the tile, how to set the tile, and how to grout.  It will be a little tricky for him as I have him using speed set (thin set that dries in about 15 minutes) so he can re-grout in the same day.  The only other issue is that he is completely different that me and is not that skilled when it comes to working on houses.  He is much better at saving lives and working with electronics than tiling, painting, or working with any type of wood.  If I can, I will try and make it over there to help him out today, but it will be a close call.  If I get enough done on my job, I will definitely help him out, but I can't make any guarantees.  Such is life.  He will figure it out eventually.  After this bathroom fiasco, I will be helping him put up some kitchen cabinets so that his tenants are a little bit happier.  They are luckily understanding as they moved in quickly to an apartment that needed help.  Welcome to home ownership and the joys of being landlord bro!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Two Miscreant Mutts

So I have two dogs, both of them miscreants in their own ways, and this coming weekend we have friends coming camping with us who wanted to bring their dog, a pit bull.  So before we get into the introduction of all the dogs, let me provide a little back story to both of my dogs.  Our oldest dog is about 6 or 7 now and her name is Princess, a mutt with some lab, Sheppard, and Rhodesian ridgeback in her.  We got her when we first moved into our house and at that time she was approximately 1 year old.  She was a rescue from the Milford Animal Shelter and when we first got her she had issues.  They had found her abandoned, locked in a crate for about a week when the homeowners left their house.  She was ornery with other dogs, super hyper, loved to jump on people, and was not really trained at all.   We never had her formally trained or socialized with other dogs, but she improved by leaps and bounds over the first couple of years we had her.  She always had control issues with other dogs, thinking she was the dominant one, and if she was or is on a leash, she is a complete wild card with other dogs.  Essentially, she could get along with other dogs as long as she had a little rough and tumble interaction with them to establish dominance.  The problem with Princess is that she is extremely vocal when she is playing or anything else and most people get a little scared of her.   She has never drawn blood from another dog (other than our other dog), yet people get freaked out when they hear her and see their dog start tumbling with ours.  So we have tried to keep her away from other dogs as much as possible due to that fact.  Aside from that one minor issue, she is extremely well behaved.  We can let her off the leash in the woods without worry, she poops and pees in the back corner of the yard where we want her to, and she is amazing with our son even letting him push his finger into her eye without snipping or biting.  So that's our first dog.  Our second dog, Aspen,  couldn't be any different.   He was also a rescue, saved from a kill shelter in New Britain with only 2 days left to live.  They had found him chained to a fence in February at the ripe old age of 4 months.   He, as with Princess is a mutt with boxer, pit bull, and some terrier in him along with something else we presume.  Where Princess is mostly the calm, relaxed type, Aspen is the psycho, hyper, "fetch a ball" all day type of dog. 
When we introduced Aspen to Princess at our house, there was blood drawn.  We put them in a room together and let them figure it out.  There was some biting, some shaking, but nothing serious.   The interaction between the two further solidified our feelings that we should keep Princess away from most other dogs.  Eventually, the two got along and while they will never be best friends due to their vastly different personalities, they at least have a long lasting respect for each other.  Aspen is comprised of all muscle and no fat.  He easily jumps my four foot fence around my driveway and if chasing a tennis ball, can even make it over the six foot portion that surrounds the rest of my yard.   He is tall and scrawny and we get questioned every time we bring him to the vet as to whether or not we are feeding him enough.  When we tell the vet that he gets 5 cups of food a day and can't get past 65 lbs, they cease all questioning.  He just has a super high metabolism combined with an incessant need to burn it off either through walking, hiking, or chasing tennis balls or car tires, or whatever you throw.  If you threw a plastic chair I guarantee that he would fetch the chair and bring it back.  With all that being said, we wanted to let our friends bring their dog to Vermont, but we wanted to make sure their pit bull, Nala, got along with our dogs.  Amongst our two dogs, Princess is the dominant one.  Aspen will follow her lead when it comes to other dogs and with that in mind, and after consulting friends who know dogs better than us, we decided that the first introduction would include only Princess and Nala in a neutral location.  My friend told me that Nala has no problems with other dogs and further, has no problem submitting to a dominant dog, whatever the breed.  So this past Sunday was the day of reckoning, would our dogs get along or would they be mortal enemies.  We brought them to Naugatuck State Forest, and introduced them.  Princess was off the leash immediately as I didn't want her to get protective of me and initially there was the mandatory sniffing of the genitals.  That lasted about 3 seconds before Princess decided that Nala needed to be subdued.  They tumbled for about 10 seconds before Nala gave up, rolled on her back, and Princess saw that she was fine.  After that initial little scuffle, the two looked as if they had been friends for years.  They ran together, they swam together, they got along great.  Success. 
So then we decided that since the introduction of Princess and Nala went so well that we should bring them both back and introduce Nala to Aspen with Princess around.  When we got back to my house and we all walked up to the back gate, Aspen went right for my friend and his girlfriend, completely ignoring or oblivious to the fact that two dogs had walked right by him, not one like he is used to.  Right after that, though, he figured out that there was something different and began his obligatory genital sniffing.  I'm glad that we did the introduction the way we did because I would notice Aspen glance over at Princess periodically to see what her reaction was to this new dog.  As Princess wasn't reacting, Aspen played very nice, the only time a scuffle broke out being over a tennis ball that Nala stole from Aspen.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, takes anything from Aspen without consequences.  That being said, the only time he will attack is if its another dog, never a person.  There were a few times when Aspen and Nala started getting a little rowdy and Princess had to join in and make her presence known, but within ten minutes of the introduction, all three dogs were lounging in my yard.  Success again.  So it turns out that there will be three dogs with us this coming weekend in Vermont and it should be a blast.  It also gives me hope for Princess that she can and will get along with other dogs given the right circumstances.  For now, we will just enjoy the coming weekend with three dogs that get along and deal with Princess and other dogs later. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Backwards Boy

So we have discovered through the course of potty training that our son is a tad bit backwards.  In the normal course of potty training, at least normal as most children go, peeing is the first task they master.  Children are normally able to identify when they need to pee before they can identify when they need to poop, and as such master the ability of making it to the potty before the pee starts flowing.  Well, our son is not normal.  While he has been making great strides in potty training in the little over a week that we have been making the effort, peeing is still a crap shoot (ha ha).  Pooping, however, has been mastered.  He has no issue identifying when he needs to poop and no trouble at all making it to the potty before the poop hits the floor (or fan if you want to turn it into a pun).   The peeing is coming along, however we still have a ways to go.  About half the time he can identify the urge to pee and make it to the potty.  The other half, the pee gets everywhere before we stop him and get him to the potty where he finishes.  One thing we have noticed is that he is getting better at controlling muscles of his bladder.   The intervals in between peeing have grown and he is now rarely wet after his afternoon nap.  I'd say that's progress, and yet, I still hate the whole process.  I am just glad that the pooping is mastered.  So the potty training continues, and hopefully it will be over within a few more weeks, maybe even sooner.   I might just have to throw a party to celebrate the fact that we will need no more diapers till our next child is born.  But its time to move beyond potty training for now and get on to more interesting and less degrading talk about our son. 
One thing we are becoming extremely certain about is that our son will be one hell of a teenager to deal with.  The independent nature that he is exhibiting is sometimes very frustrating to deal with, especially when he is tired.  While I absolutely love the fact that he wants to be independent, solve his own problems, and take care of everything by himself; I wish he would be a little more accommodating in accepting our help.  Just yesterday, we almost had a complete breakdown on his part over the fact that he wanted to re-fill his cup with milk by himself.  We opened the refrigerator for him so he could show us what he wanted, he grabbed the milk, sat on the floor, and proceeded to try and unscrew the cap and pour the milk himself.  Well, he couldn't unscrew the cap, but despite that, he still tried to pour the milk into his cup.  I saw him try and I went to go help him.  I unscrewed the cap for him, and asked him to help me pour the milk.  This brought tears and almost a tantrum to the surface.  I quickly put the cap back on and let him have the milk.  I didn't give in, I just merely put a pause in our activities so that I could explain why I was helping him and that the only way he was getting more milk was if he let me help him.  So with tears streaming down his face, he nodded yes that I could help him.  I loosened the cap so he could unscrew it himself and then held the milk with him so we could pour it together.  Success.  After that, I let him have the cap so he could screw it back on, which he did really well.  I honestly didn't think he would be able to screw the cap on the milk as well as he did, but once again, I was surprised.  His manual dexterity is growing by leaps and bounds and every week bring something new that he has mastered.  Even when it comes to drinking his milk, there are no more sippy cups being used, it is a regular plastic cup that we fill half way.  His control in drinking from a cup is spot on 90% of the time with just the occasional tip too far which results in either milk or water coursing down his chin and shirt. 
Even when it comes to eating, he is progressing really well.  He has graduated from his high chair to a booster seat at the table (most of the time).  The only times that we revert to putting tray on his booster seat is when he decides that it will be fun to put his feet on the table and push himself  away.  For the most part, however, he does well just sitting at the table.  When it comes to eating with utensils, he refuses all help the majority of the time.  He must feed himself come hell or high water.  The other day he tried something new with his food.  He likes almost every fruit you put in front of him, which my wife and I couldn't be happier about.  On Saturday he was eating his apple sauce with his spoon and my wife was having grapes next to him.  As it usually goes, he wanted the grapes from my wife.  So she cut some in half for him and he proceeded to put them in his apple sauce.  We wondered if he would actually eat the grapes with the apple sauce, but he did.  At first, he allowed me to feed him a few bites, but then grabbed the spoon back and was able to pick up apple sauce with a grape on his spoon and get it to his mouth without dropping any.  There are still times when he drops some apple sauce or other food, but he is getting much better with feeding himself.  That's our little boy, independent and stubborn as a rock.  He has completely entered the "no" phase of his life where the answer to every question is first "no" followed by a re-considering of the question on his part and about half the time a change to "yes".  It can be frustrating for sure, but it is also really cute.  One thing I have found through this whole process is that I have a lot more patience than I thought I did and perhaps the biggest key to this whole time in his life is my ability to explain why things are the way they are and why we must do certain things.  If he starts to throw a tantrum, I can most times curb the anger and frustration from him by explaining things.  I explain why we must do certain things, why he has to listen, and everything in between.  While he is isn't forming complete sentences as of yet, he completely understands most of what we tell him.  All in all, he is wonderful boy, well behaved, with a completely unique and bonkers personality. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Failing Health All Around

Its been a crazy year in terms of the health of my grandparents.  One of my grandmother's, Baba, is dealing with dementia that is slowly taking away her mind.  My grandfather, Dziadziu, is recovering from open heart surgery.  And now the latest, my other grandmother, Babci, just suffered a mini-stroke last night.  Babci, who has been trying to live without the aid of my grandfather, Dziadziu, has been having a very hard time.  She is blind and is incapable of doing much on her own.  Dziadziu essentially took care of everything for her before he suffered two very close incidents of congestive heart failure.  While she is in an assisted living facility that does provide assistance to her, the assistance she receives does not come close to what Dziadziu used to do for her.  She can barely feed herself without making a mess, she can't go to the bathroom on her own, and taking a shower is an ordeal and a half.  Part of me wonders how Dziadziu, almost 90 years old, took care of so much for her.  With Dziadziu not around, she has been breaking it off on my parents, mostly my dad, about everything.   Then came the stroke last night.  I don't have every single detail yet, but it all happened around 8:00 last night.  I did get the update that it didn't appear to be a major incident, however she is remaining in the hospital overnight to ensure that it wasn't a precursor to a larger event.   This was not exactly what she needed at this point in time.  Unfortunately, this it what happens when you start closing in on the end of your life.  Perhaps if she had taken better care of herself when she was younger, Babci wouldn't be as bad off as she is now.  Yet, what's done is done.  My only hope is that they don't tell Dziadziu till he is moved out of Yale New Haven Hospital and into a rehab facility.  As of a few days ago, they were still keeping him at Yale due to a minor irregularity in his heart beat.  And on that front, I hope that he recovers as quickly as possible so that he can spend more time with his wife.  At this point, and at the age my grandparents are at, anything can happen at any time.  Its almost as if its a waiting game to see what kind of ailment or incident will afflict them next. 
Yesterday, before I heard the news about Babci, I went to see Baba down at her "home" in Westport.  It was kind of sad to see her, a mere ghost of who she used to be.  When I walked into her room, she was all set for bed at 5:45 and watching TV.  I hadn't been down to see her in a while and didn't know what I would find.  It seems with Baba that there are good days when she is talkative and upbeat, and days when she is in her own world, wherever that is.  She hardly talked at all when I was there, perhaps because she was having trouble remembering certain words or just because she was very tired, I don't know.  So I talked to her a little bit, and just sat with her the rest of the time.  I told her about our son, showed her some pictures which she was excited to see, and then her attention went back to the TV and trying to read the words that popped up during commercials.  She never quite finished all the words before the commercial ended and moved on to the next.  I can't imagine how frustrating it must be at times to try and read the words on the screen and never have them be around long enough to make it through all of them.  It made me realize yesterday just how quick commercials really are and the images that flash across the screen.  I did notice that Baba had quite a bit of trouble with words and kept slipping between Russian, Spanish, and English.  Despite the lack of conversation, I at least got to spend some time with her and she did thank me at the end for coming.  It still amazes me that this time last year she was still a highly functioning woman.  Yes, she was starting to show signs that something was amiss, but for the most part she was doing really well.  This year, its completely different and unfortunately will never go back to the way it was.  Memories will have to suffice at this point.  In any case, its been a tough year so far and its not even over yet.  Oh well, such is life.   All of grandparent's just happen to be dealing with health issues at the same time.  For now, and till they pass, I will be keeping every one of them in my prayers. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

School Shooting Averted

The school year for some has just started and already there was a potential school shooting that was averted.  This time (as sad as it makes me to say it that way), the incident occurred outside of Atlanta, Georgia.   From the news report I read this morning, it seems an armed gunman, 20 years old, snuck in behind someone entering a secure school.  All procedures were followed in terms of security.  Details are not entirely clear yet about the incident as it just occurred yesterday.   The man apparently entered the school office and demanded that the secretary or clerk call a local television station.  Armed with an AK-47 and seemingly ready to kill everyone he could, the clerk made the phone call and kept the man occupied by telling him her life story, everything she could, without a pause.  It apparently worked because the man did not leave the office till the police arrived at which point he went back outside, fired off a few rounds, and then re-entered the building.  Once back inside and having returned to the office, the clerk who had kept him occupied told him to put down his gun and just lay down on the floor.  He actually listened and when police came in, he was laying down and did not put up a fight at all.  Either this man really didn't want to go through with the shooting, something changed within him, or everyone was simply lucky.  Whatever the case may be, no one was killed this time around.   As the news report also says, there was a possibility that the man had explosives in his car as a dog sniffed them out, but nothing was confirmed as of yet.  The best thing about this news story is that no one was killed.  The worst part is that regardless of what we do to try and keep this events from happening, gun control or anything else, we have not put a stop to the culture of violence in this country.  That and the fact that we have this notion that if someone gets their 15 minutes in the spotlight, their lives can be turned around and possibly made better; or at least their name will live on long after they have passed.  It is a sad world we live in these days, made sadder by the fact that gunmen feel the only way to get attention, seek revenge, or whatever is to enter a school with guns with the intent of killing innocent children and their teachers. 
There is another thing that bothers me about this story.  As I was half way through the first paragraph, it occurred to me that I would never heard about this story if I hadn't read the quick, one line story reports at the bottom of the online page.  I know I said that I am bothered by the fact that it got only a one line blurb linking it to the actual article, but I am actually divided on how I feel about it.  On one hand, I feel that it is a good thing they gave the incident so little attention in that it doesn't give the gunman the notoriety and instant fame that he was seeking.  Yet, the fact that the gunman was thwarted and he did not end up killing anyone makes me feel as if they should have given it a little more attention, perhaps move it halfway up the page.  I am sure that more attention is being paid to this incident in Georgia and that the local news down there is giving it a bigger spread in papers.  I only hope that not too much attention is given to the actual gunman.  He does not deserve the attention he will most likely receive.  In fact, I wish they hadn't even posted his name in any articles and just referred to him as gunman X or something.  However, everyone needs to put a name and a face to the incident so in addition to his name going public, I am sure we will see his face posted online within a matter of days.  Seeing as no one was killed in this incident, I have this funny image running through my mind.  From my interactions with people from the South, they love to talk, tell you their story, and will talk your ear off if you are willing to listen.  I can just see this young man walking into the main office of the school with his AK-47 slung over his shoulder and having this clerk start talking to him.  I can almost see her lean against a counter and begin her story of her life and just keep on talking and talking and talking.  I can also almost see him not wanting to be disrespectful and just standing there listening to her.  I know it probably didn't happen that way, but I am sure that someone could make it into a funny cartoon or something.  Trust me, I know this story is a serious matter in the fact that another gunman entered a school and had the potential to kill a lot of people, however it did not turn out that way. 
I only hope that we can start talking about what really matters when it comes to these gunmen and why they feel the need to enter schools with the intent of killing children and adults.  We will undoubtedly hear another round of people talking up gun control and how we need to do more.  We will hear some talk about mental health and the fact that no one is helping those that are in need.   We will not hear much about the culture of violence we are currently living in though or the fact that we are teaching our children that the only way to get what they want is to act out violently towards others.  Gun control in my mind is the least of our worries.  If we don't get a handle on mental health in this country and our culture of violence, then regardless of whether we take away every single gun or not, people will still act violently towards others.  I could go on and on about this, but I have said it before.  For now, I am running late this morning and will have to cut this a little bit short.  I am just glad that no one was killed in this incident and I hope that we don't have to deal with anything like this or like Newtown again this coming school year.  No one knows how this year will play out yet, but lets hope it is a peaceful one. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

For Some, It Falls Apart

I am fairly certain that most people reading this know that the divorce rate in this country is close to or higher than the percentage of those who actually stay married.   While it is easy to disregard this phenomenon if no one around you is getting divorced, the moment you start to hear of friends or relatives start to go through the process, it becomes real and tangible.   I find it disturbing only in the sense that if you are getting married, you should realize what exactly you are getting yourself into and be willing to work on that marriage to keep it alive and vibrant.  Yet, more and more people view marriage not as a life long commitment based upon mutual respect for one another and willingness to meet in the middle, but rather from a selfish standpoint more along the lines of "what can they do for me once we are married?"  Of late, one friend of mine who has been married the same amount of time that I have, is currently going through a separation and most likely a divorce.  To be perfectly honest, there was a part of me that, from the beginning, thought that they would either end up in this predicament, or one or both would be miserable throughout their marriage.  I just never like my friend's wife, thought there was something "off" about her, and while hoping for the best for them, always feared the worst.  Unfortunately, the worst is now playing itself out.  She thought that she would be able to change things she didn't like about him, and when that didn't happen, she flew the coop.   I feel for my friend.  While I know that he can be an ass, I also know that he tried to make the marriage work.  She, on the other hand, did not.  I don't know if things could have played out differently, but for his sake, I am kind of glad that they worked out the way they did.   Sometimes, despite the best intentions of making a marriage work, perhaps divorce is the best thing sometimes, as long as both, or at least one of the couple, learn from it.   After my friend separated from his wife, he was lamenting that he just lost 4 years of his life.   I viewed it differently.  I asked, "Did you have good times with your wife?"  Response, "yes".  To which I said something along the lines of, then learn from it, keep those memories of the good times, and move on.   I just hope he actually does learn from it.
Then there is another one of my friends, a good friend, who being married for just under a year, is already having issues.  Unlike the first scenario, I like his wife and think they are a good fit for each other.  They both have control issues they need to work through, but I think they can do it.  So far, in their case, there has been no divorce, although the topic has been raised unfortunately.  It has even gotten to the point, within a year of marriage, that they have moved back in with their respective parents, taking a break from each other.  They have both since moved back into their house, yet they still have some work to do I fear.  As in the first case above, it comes down to issues of control and trying to control the other person in the relationship.  While marriage unifies two people, it does not imply that they must change everything about themselves in order to satisfy each other.  Rather, it means that they must start working together to understand each other in a deeper way.  It means understanding the differences between them and coming to terms with them.  We can not force other people to change, it never works out beneficially.  However, through communication and discussion with our significant other we reach an understanding of why it would be beneficial to change some of our behavior, then that is the time we should change ourselves.  I only hope that they deepen their communication with each other and work through whatever difficulties that they are having.  Marriage is not an easy thing to keep alive and growing.  It needs constant attention and help to ensure that it lasts.  Marriage is a commitment to another person in which we say we will work with them, live with them, and love them.  All of that takes work.  We must constantly communicate, share ourselves in deeper and deeper ways to the point where we blend who we are into one.  While we may start out as two uniquely different people and will keep that uniqueness, there is a point where the line between one person and another begin to blend, a point where we truly see that we are unified in a deeper way than just a social contract saying we are "married".  It takes time, it takes effort, but in the end, I believe, it is worth it. 
And yes, there is a third friend of mine, not necessarily close, but a friend nonetheless, who got divorced a couple of years ago.  Much to my surprise, I just found out about it this past Thursday.  I can't speak to his marriage or any of the issues that he had.  All I know is that he is a very nice guy.  I never met his wife, yet I know he has two teenage daughters.  I was saddened by the news when I heard it and could never have seen that coming.  Yet, such is the American life these days.  People get married, they start off strong, they have kids, communication breaks down, and unfortunately for many, they end up divorced.  I am fairly positive that my marriage will survive.  I only say this because both of us frequently remind each other that we need to set aside time to talk, and we actually do.  We take days to ourselves to go out and spend time with each other and almost every day we talk about our lives, how they are going, and where we want to be down the road.  We already see ourselves growing old with each other and I hope that vision never fades.  So far, in the four years we have been married, our marriage has just grown stronger.  Yes, we have had the arguments, the disagreements, yet we have always moved past them and formed a deeper relationship because of them.  They have taught us the necessity of frequent communication and time to ourselves.  As much as we love our son, he will be out of our house in approximately 20 years.  I plan on staying married much longer than that and if we are to have a successful marriage, we must stay focused on ourselves and keeping our marriage strong despite the fact that we have our wonderful child to raise, and in February, our second child.  Will things get more difficult, possibly, but I feel that if we keep on the track we are currently on, we can move past anything that comes at us.  I only wish that more people who are married would see what we see and work harder to keep their marriages alive.  Maybe they do and nothing can save the marriage, I don't know.  But with more and more people getting divorced, there must be something that is breaking down. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Potty Training Sucks

Before I get into why I hate potty training so much, let me first share an update with you on my grandfather and his recovery from heart surgery.  He is doing really well overall.  The day after the surgery he was awake and talking and as of yesterday, the doctor's were already talking about moving him to a rehab facility within the week.  They have even taken him for a few walks to get things moving again.  Lets just hope the recovery continues as smoothly as it has.  Now, onto less important things such as potty training.  Beginning on Friday afternoon, we took our son's diaper off and let him run around naked in our kitchen and outside.  I wasn't home for most of the training on Friday afternoon (luckily) and will once again not be there for it during the week except for the short period in the afternoons when I get to see our son after work.  I don't mind the potty training so much when we can have him run around outside with his little potty sitting in our driveway.  Its the inside training that bothers me.  But more about why it bothers me in a little bit.  First, let me share the reason for beginning potty training before our son turns two as some have told my wife it is too early (as if they live with our son and know him that well).  Since our son has been walking and for a time before that, I have periodically taken him into the bathroom with me when I have to go, not number 2 as the smell might kill him, but only number 1.  I figured that since I can stand and go, I might as well bring him in with me so he can see what happens when his daddy goes.  After a while, he would want to come with me every time I went into the bathroom.  His desire to do that has only increased as time passed.  So we knew that he had an idea of how to urinate in a toilet even if he couldn't control his own muscles yet.  Then there is the fact that he began telling us when he needed a diaper change (one of the benefits of cloth diapers).  We would notice the poop face and ask him if he had poop in his diaper to which he would answer yes.  Even if he went number one and we didn't notice, upon random questioning, he would either answer yes or no and would be correct 75% of the time.  Finally, one of the signifiers as we understand that a child is ready to potty train is that they don't want to have their diaper changed.  Well, one more reason we began this past Friday; it is approximately six months out from the arrival of our new child should everything go smoothly and we don't really want to have two children in diapers at the same time. 
So there it is, the reasons we began potty training.  Now to the reasons why I hate it so much.  When I am sitting in the kitchen playing with our son, there is the constant thought that at any moment he could start peeing on me.  Quite frankly, I don't want anyone's pee on me, whether it is my son or not, and as I normally don't mind him crawling all over me like a jungle gym, I do when he is naked and can't control himself.  I have gotten some pee on my feet, but the story is a bit funny and so I will share it here.  We have our kitchen completely gated off so that he can get no where else in the house.  That being said, I went over the refrigerator to fill up a glass with some ice and water for myself.  I got the ice in and as I am filling it with water, I feel a light splashing on my feet.  My first thought was that the water from splashing off the ice in my cup and hitting my feet, so I moved the cup a little higher up.  It didn't stop.  Immediately I put two and two together, look down, and there is our son peeing on the floor and that is what was splashing onto my feet.  The tricky part is, I can't get angry or frustrated with him as it will inhibit his ability to potty train.  So I say, "Hey, your peeing, lets get to the potty!"  And with that I scoop him up, run over the potty, sit him down, and he stares at me as if to say, I already went on the floor, I got nothing left for the potty.  Oh well.  Next time maybe.  The outside is much easier to deal with because instead of cleaning and sanitizing our kitchen floor, all I have to do when he goes is grab the hose and wash it away.  Then there is the poop aspect which my wife has yet to deal with.  The first time I had to deal with it was outside.  Our son was pushing his little dump truck around and all of a sudden he paused.  As I was watching him, his rear end facing me, I saw a little nugget start to emerge.  Quick like a bunny, I ran over, scooped him up, and managed to get him over to the toilet before the nugget fell on the ground.  That was it though, one little nugget and almost as soon as I got him on the potty, he got up and ran away.  Oh well, next time.  Well, the next time was inside and to spare you all the disgusting details, it was a lot bigger than the little nugget he had before and i didn't quite get him to the toilet inside before it dropped.  Luckily it was solid.  I hate cleaning up poop, especially when it gets everywhere, and I just hope he figures out this whole potty thing quickly. 
There is good news though, he is slowly getting the peeing thing down.  He has gone a total of three or four times in the potty, not on his own, but with a quick scoop and a dump (ha, not pun intended) on the potty.  There was one point when we were outside on Saturday that every time we would say, "Hey, your peeing," he would stop peeing and run to the potty and sit down.  I know he will get it, it just sucks right now.  I guess it is just disgusting to me in every possible way.  I think perhaps the worst part about it is that you have to spend almost the entire day watching him very closely to see when he pees.  Every time you think you can do something and turn your back is when he starts peeing.  But, at least we only have to do this once and then we shall be all set.  I just hope it doesn't take too long.  I joked with my wife about covering the entire kitchen floor with plastic.  At least she thought I was joking.  I really wasn't, however, I know that plastic on a kitchen floor is just asking for an accident to happen and as such, I can't bring myself to do that.  Oh well, the kitchen floor, while old and wooden, has some thick coats of poly on it and should survive just fine.  Yes, it will require extra mopping when he is done and I will probably want to refinish the floor as well, however, for now, it shall remain as it is.  Enough is enough about potty training.  Hope I didn't gross anyone out too much, but I just had to write about how much I hate it today.  Tomorrow, I move on to cleaner and perhaps more interesting topics. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Vacation Hiccup

So before I proceed to talk about our little vacation hiccup, let me just share a little update about my grandfather.  He came out of surgery successfully yesterday and the last I heard around 530 in the afternoon was that he had not come out of anesthesia yet.  When I know more, I will share more, but the procedure went well according to the surgeon.   Now onto hiccups (not the kind your body gets).  Last week was smooth sailing up until Thursday night.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago, our son is getting his two year molars and as the doctor put it after looking in his mouth, "Ooooo, that's bad".  As it went when he was getting all his initial baby teeth, he is getting most of his two year molars at once.  For the most part, he has done well with the pain, except for this past Thursday night when he woke up screaming bloody murder.  He had fussed, moaned, and screamed a little before the last out burst, but every time he stopped within a minute or two and went back to bed.  The last time there was no leaving him in his little tent to sleep it off.  We had to get him out of there lest we wake up the rest of the house.  As soon as I got him out of the tent, I asked him if his teeth were hurting and he started immediately shaking his head vigorously in the affirmative.  So, for the first time, we decided that we would let him sleep with one of us as we were in two separate twin beds for the week.   I tried having him lay with me first, and he stayed there for about a minute before getting up and running over to his Mommy's bed.  He stayed there for about a minute before running back over to my bed.  Well, long story short, he kept on running back and forth like it was a game and after the fifth time, I said to myself, "Enough is enough" and put him back in his tent.  As you probably guessed within the few seconds it took you to read that, it didn't go over well at all.  The second that he figured out that I was putting him back in the tent, he started screaming again.  My wife and I let him scream for about a minute before getting him back out of the tent and keeping him in my wife's bed.  She just let him lay there until he fell asleep, which took about 30 minutes, and by that time it was around 3:45 in the morning.  Yup, Friday was a little bit of a rough day for our son (and my wife) as they had gotten less than the ideal amount of sleep.  Me, I just drank more coffee and managed just fine. 
Then came Friday night, our last night.  He went down just fine as he had all week and we decided to get pizza for dinner.  Well, pizza is obviously popular on a Friday night on Cape Cod because even with calling in the order, the wait was a little bit over an hour.  My parents volunteered to get the pizza and while they were out, my brother, wife, and I decided to play some cards.  About 20 minutes before my parents got back with the pizza, the smoke alarm started going off.  Being a newer house, all the smoke alarms in the whole house are interconnected and hardwired with battery backup so that when one goes off, every single smoke alarm in the whole house goes off.  We counted, there were 6 smoke alarms going off at once and it might have been the most annoying and ear piercing sound I have ever heard combined with some annoying lady's voice telling us to evacuate the premises.  Well, seeing as we weren't cooking anything and the heat wasn't on, we got a little worried at first.  So we ran around trying to figure out what the issue was, which one was set off, and how do we stop them.  Seeing as there was no smoke in the house, I got really worried as two of the alarms also detect carbon monoxide.  So I ran up to our room to check on our son and crack the windows some to let in the fresh air.  He was breathing and our room had not triggered the alarm.  It turned out to be the one in the upstairs hallway.  After almost a minute, which seems like eternity when you have an ear piercing scream in your ear, it went off.  And our son slept through the whole ordeal.  He did toss and turn a little bit afterwards, but it appears that he is just like his Daddy in that once he is asleep he can sleep through just about anything.  Well, about 20 minutes later, the alarm went off again for a little less time than the first.  We started getting a little annoyed.  Then the third time happened and we started taking down smoke detectors as there was obviously nothing wrong in the house.  Good news was that our son slept through the three alarms.  We went to bed hoping we were in clear, but as it turns out, we weren't.  About 1:30 in the morning, it went off again.  I think I slept through that one as I only vaguely remember hearing it.  Then the fifth time happened at 3:30 and enough was enough, I ripped the one in our room right off the ceiling with a few choice words one of which began with the letter F.  Then our son woke up, followed by me uttering a extra choice words about the smoke alarms under my breath. 

There was no letting our son sleep this one off.  He was woken up by an ear piercing scream and he was obviously frightened.  So we got him out of his tent and I decided that it was my turn to let him sleep with me.  My wife was initially worried as I am a tosser and a turner in bed.  I move around, my arms flail, and my legs kick; but not when my son is in the bed.  It turns out that he is a tosser and a turner as well.  He started out with his head on my pillow and within 20 minutes had maneuvered himself around so that his head was facing the foot of the bed.  In the midst of that 20 minutes, I got a slight random kick to the jaw, but it was all good.  I turned over so that I was on the edge of the bed facing outwards and my legs were bent backwards reaching across the bed, a sort of barrier so that our son wouldn't go off the foot of the bed.  For the next 2 hours, I didn't move an inch.  When I woke up sometime between 530 and 6, I was in the exact same position as when I had fallen asleep.  I guess that when I need to sleep without moving, I can, it just takes a toddler being in bed with me to make it happen.  And with it being Saturday morning and time to go home, I was glad that the smoke alarms happened at the end of the week.  Later on as I was putting the smoke alarm back, I discovered that I hadn't broken it when I ripped it off the ceiling and it still functioned perfectly, I hoped.  My brother did a little research into the possible causes and found that if a house doesn't have enough electricity to power everything and a surge happens (like an A/C unit kicking on), smoke alarms that are hard wired could trip.  Well, Friday night was the first night we had to use the A/C in the house as it was getting a little bit humid and we deduced that it was the cause of all our night time woes.  So the few lessons we learned are as follows; our son will sleep through four smoke alarms, not five, and if your going to put in hardwired interconnected smoke alarms in your house, make sure that you have enough electricity running to your house in the first place.  Cheerio!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Heart Surgery Today

There is one aspect of my life that I haven't been talking about on here lately.  That is my grandfather's (Dziadziu) failing health.  During the end of June into early July, he suffered three episodes of congestive heart failure, all of which he made it through.  Since July 14th, he has been in the hospital, being monitored, and weighing the decision of heart surgery to repair and replace two valves in his heart which aren't working.  The decision could have been made over a year ago when he had his first run in with heart failure, however, at that time he wanted nothing to do with it.  This year, with the rapid decline of the valves in his heart and the possibility of him not being around to help his wife out, he finally made the decision to have the surgery.  The original plan was to have a procedure called a catheterization performed in which they make a small incision, insert a new heart valve that expands in place and begins functioning immediately.   Yet, life is never so simple.  That would have been the easy way.  As it turns out, one of his valves is too damaged to undergo that procedure and the option left to my grandfather was to either have two surgeries, one with the catheterization and one traditional, or one traditional open heart surgery to repair both valves at once.  This time, I think he made the right decision in opting for the one surgery during which both valves will be fixed.  Still, nothing is simple when you are dealing with a man in his late 80's going into open heart surgery.  The benefit now is that they don't have to break the breastbone to gain access to the heart.  Rather, they make a six inch incision and proceed with robotic arms or whatever they have that allows them to access the heart in such a way.  Whatever they have to do, my biggest hope is that any and all surgeons who will be working on my grandfather got a good night's sleep last night and are fresh and ready for the procedure today.  May their hands be quick, nimble, and steady; and most of all, let there be no complications that arise.  So perhaps the bigger question is, how is he doing now before the surgery.  Well, after bring my grandmother to see him yesterday along with my mom, I would have to say he is doing really well for the state that he is in. 
When we got to Yale New Haven Hospital yesterday, the best place for him around, he was in good spirits, laughing, joking, and looking better than he has in a while.  (Part of that makes me wonder if all this time in the hospital not helping his wife has relieved some of the stress on his body)  While there, a physical therapist came in to see if he wanted to go for a walk, and saying yes, he got right up, took his walker, and way he went with no problems, no shortness of breath, and everything but his heart working perfectly normal for his age.  Yet, despite his jovial demeanor, I could tell he was a little nervous.  His face didn't let on, his body didn't either, it was the constant wringing of his hands in his lap that gave it away.  I don't even think he was worried about himself, but more about his wife and what would happen to her should he not make it through the surgery.  When I wheeled my grandmother into his room and pushed her as close as I could to him, I almost started crying.   He was dozing when we walked in and upon waking and seeing us in his room, most of all his wife, he was overjoyed.  You could see the love that he had for her in his eyes and the gentle way he re-assured her that he was doing fine.  Seeing the two of them sitting knee to knee, my heart went out to both of them.  The only thought that went through my mind was that it might be the last time that the two of them got to see each other.  After over 50 years of marriage, there was no crying on their part, just basking in each other's presence.  It almost felt like I was intruding on something special.  The love that they have for each other is incredibly tangible and impossible to miss.  Talk never got the point of what would happen if he didn't make it, it was all about when he came out of surgery and when he recovered, nothing negative.  Still, that original thought that it was the last time my grandparents might see each other got to me.  I pushed it away for the whole visit until the end when we were leaving.  It came flooding back then as I wheeled my grandmother out of his room.  It was at that point, when I looked back to wave one last time at my grandfather that I saw a trace of fear in his face, a longing to be with his wife and never let her go, and a tinge of sadness that we were leaving.   Me, I waved, told him I loved him, and then turned to take my grandmother home. 
I make it sound like it was a sad visit, but it wasn't.  It was merely tinged with a touch of sadness for me and perhaps for my mother and grandmother, I don't know.  I am glad that I at least got to tell both of them that they will have another great grandchild come February, and also glad that I got to see the excitement on their faces when I talked about that and also what my son has been up to of late.  All in all, it was a good visit.  Perhaps my favorite part was the joke that my grandfather told that I had never heard before.  (A surprise in and of itself as I have heard my grandfather's jokes hundreds of times such as "I heard UPS and FedEx are going to be merging. Oh yeah?  Yeah, it will be called FedUp")  So to keep the memory of this latest joke alive, I will share it with you now:
Johnny was sitting in class when his teacher asked him to stand up and recite the alphabet.  Johnny said, "OK", and proceeded to start reciting the alphabet.  "A B C D E F G H I J K L M N Ooooooo".
"What's wrong the teacher asked?"  "The P just started running down my leg."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

And the Words Started Coming

Vacation, as I mentioned yesterday, was extremely relaxing and as all vacations go after getting back to work, it started fading all to soon as reality came flooding back.  While the relaxation of vacation started fading, the memories do not, and one of the memories that will stay with me for a long time is the memory of something clicking in my son's brain.  Last week we saw a dramatic increase in our son's vocabulary.  Whether it was the salty air from the ocean, or the sand on the beach, our son began adding words (not entirely whole or perfectly understandable) to his vocabulary as if speaking was going out of style and he didn't want to miss his chance to take part in it.  The following are just a few of the words that he added during the week; beach, sea gull, sea shell, walk, and rock.  There were many others that he attempted and just couldn't get quite right.  Regardless, the fact that he is attempting words and trying to emulate the English language is fantastic.  The increase in vocabulary, or at least his attempt at different words, didn't stop when we got home.  The day after returning, we had to go food shopping as there was nothing in the house to feed our family.  While at the store, there were a few times when I put some items in our carriage and asked our son to repeat the name of the item.  The two that I tried at the store were peanut and cashew.  He still can't quite articulate every consonant and vowel, but with the ones that he has, he attempted the words and came pretty close to the point where we could definitely tell that he was saying peanut and cashew.  Its amazing to see and we both have a feeling that it probably won't be too long now before he starts full sentences.  OK, so maybe full sentences are a little ways off, but in addition to trying new words, he is starting to put a couple of words together at a time to get his message across.  One time as we were sitting around the table either eating lunch or dinner during vacation, we were going around the table asking him who the different members of our family were.  He got my brother's name down as well as his girlfriend's name, as well grandpa (which we think is now popop).  At one point we asked him if his grandpa was his daddy and he said, "Dadda, no".  I know its simple, but the fact that he got the point across that his grandpa was not his daddy was pretty cool to see. 
There was another little interesting thing our son did during vacation.  While my brother's girlfriend came out with us, she couldn't stay the whole week as her family had a trip planned.  The day after she left, our son kept on saying her name and looking for her over and over again.  Whether it was the fact that he actually knew her name or just the fact that she noticed she was missing, it was precious to see him walk around and say her name almost in question form as if to say, "Where is she?"  That alone should have given us a clue that the transition back to home life would not be as easy as the transition to vacation was.  Normally, our son will see his grandparents or uncle for maybe half a day at a time and be perfectly fine with leaving them and coming back home.  After spending a week with his grandparents and uncle, seeing them every day from morning to night, the transition home was not that easy.  Saturday our son was simply in a daze upon our return, tired and a little ornery.  Sunday, he was a complete mess.  He refused to eat his normal food or even eat as much as he normally does.  He would throw tantrums at the drop of a hat, sometimes the closing of a door being all he needed to start screaming and crying.  Yesterday he was a little better, but I can imagine it wasn't easy for him to go from being with his extended family to only his nuclear family in a matter of a day.  We did start telling him before we left that vacation was coming to an end and that he wouldn't be seeing grandma and grandpa anymore, but sometimes I guess, that just isn't enough.  I am sure that today will be a much better day and the he won't be freaking out quite as much.  I guess we will see as the day progresses.  Its tough being a toddler and not understanding the comings and goings of life, the fluctuations between vacation and normal life, and how everything unfolds and plays out over time.  As much as we can try to explain all this to him, he can only grasp so much at the ripe old age of 22 months.  Oh well. 
One of the good things we did find out is that our son does well on road trips.  We knew he did pretty well on a 3-3.5 hour ride up to Vermont, however, the trip out to Cape Cod was a bit longer with more traffic and sitting around just waiting for cars to move.  Each way, I would have to say that we averaged around 4.5 hours of sitting in the car including one stop each way to use the bathroom and for me to grab a coffee.  With all of that sitting in a car, our son barely got cranky.  There were a few times where he started whining a little, but we explained that there was nothing we could do and that we would be there within "x" amount of time.  This worked pretty well most of the time.  I think our son just enjoyed looking out the window, napping, and sucking on his thumb.  At least we are working up in time to longer road trips.  I don't know when we will be taking a long road trip anytime soon, but when we do, I am sure that he will be prepared for it and will travel well just like my wife and I did when we were little.  One thing is for certain, I am never buying a car, minivan, or SUV with those TV screens in the back of the seats for our son to stare at for however long.  If he can be perfectly content with just staring out a window right now, then he will be perfectly fine with books and music when he gets older.  In my mind, TVs placed in the back of seats are merely a way for parents to limit the amount of interaction or actual entertaining they have to do with their children.  I agree that it is much easier to just plop them down in front of a TV and let that entertain them, however, I would much rather have that time to talk to them, find out what they are interested in, answer questions, and carry on what most people have forgotten how to do, a conversation.  In any case, there is more from our vacation that I will share in the coming days, it will just be in bits and pieces as I see fit.  For now, I can't wait to see what new words our son tries today.  Should be interesting, that's for sure!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to Real Life

The end of a relaxing vacation and return to normal life is always depressing to me.   And apparently, it is also depressing to our son who spent yesterday attempting to readjust to normal life.   Yet, as depressing as it is now, vacation was definitely what I think we all needed, my whole family that is.  This vacation was one of the more relaxing ones that I have been on, even with a 22 month old in tow, running around, and enjoying every minute of family time.  As I mentioned before we left, we (meaning my parents, my brother and his girlfriend, and my wife, son, and myself) were out on Cape Cod for the week.  My parents rented a house on a private beach in Chatham that was more than we could have asked for.  The house was nice, but the big draw was being a hundred feet from a private beach where the largest number of people we saw at one time was about 10.  That is a far cry from the hundreds we saw on the one day we traveled to a different beach and actually paid for parking.  From the moment we got there, relaxation kicked in, all thoughts of life back home vanished, and beach mode set in.  For those of you that don't know, I am a beach bum at heart.  This past week I was down at the beach for at least 4-5 hours, sometimes more, every day.  We were always the first ones down there, usually the first to leave because of our son, but there was always a second trip down.  It turns out that our son is a complete beach bum as well.  As he and I were always the first ones up at 5:30 in the morning, we got the unique experience of seeing the sunrise every day on the beach.  While I would have gone down there anyway to see the sunrise, our son, upon coming downstairs from our room, went right for the door and wanted to go down to the water (lolo as he calls it) and the beach (be in his talk).  So at 5:30 every morning, I would hoist him up on my shoulders and we would head down to walk on the beach for a half hour to 45 minutes.  We had nothing planned, it was just my son and I walking, letting the early morning sun warm our faces, and searching through all the seaweed that would get washed up on shore from the previous night for any treasures.  The beach and ocean were like a magnet for our son.  He always wanted to go down there and never really wanted to leave. 
It wasn't just the beach and water that he loved, but just walking itself.  After breakfast every day, he would embark on a second journey with his grandpa around the neighborhood.  They would be gone for about an hour every day, sometimes during which I would head down to the water for an early morning swim.  Sure, the water was a little brisk, but it was salt water and I needed to swim in it as much as possible.  There are few things I love more than just floating in the ocean, bobbing up and down in the swells, and letting the currents drag me to and fro.  I think it is safe to say that I spent more time in the water than any other member of my family.  While my son loved the water, the waves were a tad bit big for him and he needed to be held when we went in more than a few feet.  As such, he never stayed in for that long.  Instead, he would go swimming in the sand, literally.  The one day we went to a different beach on the ocean that wasn't partially protected like our private beach was, our son had a field day in the sand.  Unlike our beach, the one on the ocean had cleaner sand, far fewer sea shells, and was much softer.  Watching him in that sand was like watching a little kid play in the snow.  He rolled around in it, grabbed handfuls and threw them over his head, crawled through it, and overall just had a blast.  He had sand in more places than I knew he had on his body.  But he never complained a second about it.   When we went to the ocean beach, I wondered how he would do in the larger swells that reached about 3-4 feet in height as they crashed.  Well, as I held him while the waves crashed around us, he absolutely loved it.  He would hold on tight as the wave crashed into us, soaking us completely, and then point to the next one coming in.  We stood there at times for almost half an hour just letting waves crash into us.  It was pure joy to be with him all week long, see how much he loved the beach, and spend time with him playing in the sand. 
We had good weather the entire week except for the last day which turned out to be a bit rainy and stormy.  It wasn't a perpetual rain that soaked everything all day, but rather a more periodic rain with occasional breaks in the clouds.  Looking out at the ocean from our house, all we could see were white caps.  The sea was churning and frothing and I wanted nothing more than to go swimming in it.  I know, sounds a bit crazy, but I managed to drag my brother in to go boarding with me.  (Trust me, it didn't take that much convincing)  I wasn't particularly keen on going in by myself as the swells were between 4 and 6 feet on the open water, but with my brother who was a lifeguard, I had no worries.  We both swam out, got tossed and churned in the waves, and actually swam out over a hundred yards just to see if there was a sandbar where we thought there might be one.  It took about half hour of swimming to reach the buoy that marked the sandbar, but we got there, and ascertained that there was indeed a sandbar.  All in all, I had a blast in the stormy waters and would do it again in a heartbeat.  Then the week came to an end and and life returned to normal, poo poo.  I was going to write about every day of our vacation individually on my blog when we got back, but looking back at our week away, we did pretty much the same thing every day (which will be detailed tomorrow in more depth than today).   So for now, I must get my but in gear and prepare to head to work.  While I enjoy working, I would much rather just lay on a beach all day.  But I guess that is what retirement is for.  For now, I need to make the money to pay the bills and keep the beach in my mind as my anchor.  My post vacation depression is slowly lifting, however I feel it will take at least a week before I am back to normal.  Oh well, time to refill the coffee cup.