My me time

It’s after 8:30 in the morning, and I sit at my kitchen table, winter sun shining in through the windows, I am the only one awake in my house right now.

My wife was awake a little earlier, but has chosen to try and go back to sleep after her morning pee when she asked me to turn the volume on the podcast I was listening to in bed down a little.  Before coming downstairs myself, I checked on my kids, my oldest had another night where she had almost completely wrestled her covers nearly off of her bed.  When I checked, her lower back and feet were exposed to the chilly morning air.  It’s a crisp 11 degrees outside this morning and the house is proportionally chilly.  I straightened out the covers and recovered her back up. Immediately after doing so, she went from the fetal position she most likely spent the last few hours in trying to keep warm, to a full on stretching out underneath her comforter and blanket.  I received no visual or audile clues from her that she was ready to waken.  Next, I checked on my son, who was bundled up in his bed  and appeared to be very content, after I quietly asked if he was still asleep he gave me a slight nod , telling me he wasn’t ready to leave the warmth of his bed just yet.  After I softly told him that I’d see him down stairs a little later, he flashed the sign for I love you.

I’m sitting here, looking at the steam coming off my cup of coffee while I feel the suns rays warming my face.   The sound of the furnace blowing warm air is below me in the basement while I feel the warmth it’s providing on my lower legs.  In another hour, the house will be fully awake and we will come up with an adventure for the four of us to have today. Image

This my me time.

It was a sad day yesterday.

Yesterday, we found out that my barber of the last 20 plus years, had recently passed away. While I didn’t personally know Nick very well, his barber shop was somewhere my son and I had gone every 6 weeks or so for the last 7 of his 9 years.

IMAG0855When my son was much younger, we knew he was different than most children, displaying an unusual sensitivity to certain sounds, hair clippers being one of these sounds he didn’t really tolerate. In an effort to make the hair cut experience a little less stressful, my wife and I thought it should be something that I do with him. For both my son and I, rather than springing the news of that it was haircut day that morning, I would start to let him know about our upcoming schedule a few days beforehand, reminding him from that point daily. I wanted to make sure that we did it on a regular interval, so we settled on every 6 weeks. I would let him know that it was just him and I going out together, and we incorporated bringing breakfast the rest of our household after we were done.

I don’t know if it was because my son was getting older or if it was because we have started establish a routine (something we’ve later found out that my son really likes), but he started at first to not only tolerate the haircuts, but then I think he started to enjoy this time we spend together.

Yesterday, we set out as usual about 9:30 am after shoveling a pathway from the previous night’s snowfall and clearing the cars, we left for our ritual. We stopped at the ATM, grabbed some money, and head over to the Colonial Barber shop. Upon our arrival, I knew something was amiss. The spinning barber’s pole that was normally visible from down the road, wasn’t there. A while back, I was thankful when Nick had replaced this pole a few years back, it was now visible from down the road and I easily would easily know if he was open for business that day or if he was on vacation.

I pull into his normally immaculately plowed driveway, which wasn’t plowed this morning and see two orange traffic cones on the side of his house, blocking the path to the small parking lot behind his house. I pull into one of the handicapped spots in front, and see a handwritten note taped inside one of the front windows. The note read something like, Nick is resting peacefully now and the family was thanking us for the years of patronage and friendship.

It took me a few seconds to process this message. I had forgotten that Nick was ill. During visits over the last year or so he would often talk about how his dialysis treatments were wearing him out; we had also just seen him about 6 weeks, and although he was thinner and seemed tired, he looked like he was doing OK.

Then the message sunk in, he had died.

With my son sitting next to me in the car, I said out loud “The barber died”. My son said “What!?”. I said, “the barber died, you remember, he was sick.” I look over at my son, and his eyes are closed and there were tears coming from them. I sat there for a few seconds and thought about what this meant to my son. Although, he really didn’t have an understanding of Nick’s illness, he knew something that something would change in his routine. A routine that he found safe and predictable.

I really like going to this barber. First, it was never crowded. I could walk in with my son at 9:00 am on a Saturday, and be out the door by 9:30am. We never had wait for more than two customers to be finished before it was our time. Next, he was close to our house. It was a source of pride for me to be patronizing a local business, one of the small businesses that this country is built upon, and it took only a few minutes to drive to his shop from my house. It also made me happy that I was spending my money inside of our zip code. Finally, he was an old school barber, not a hair stylist. He had a small shop that looks like it was built in an attached two car garage, (although he later told me that was build as a barber shop from day one), that reminded me of a hunting lodge one of the type of places where men hung out. There were popular mechanics magazines on the racks, there was a deer head and an owl hunting trophies hung on the wall as well as pictures of his hunting cabin in the Poconos and old time ammunition ads. The country music station was always playing on a small radio and the ceiling was wood planks, and the obligatory barber tools that hung from hooks on hand made cabinets.

It was a comfortable place for my son and I and Nick was always friendly to us, many times complimenting my son on how much of a good kid he was, and offering the complimentary lollipop for him and his sister if she were to tag along that day. Nick has watched him grow from a small child who sat on the booster seat who squirmed and cried the entire time he was getting his hair cut, to a youth that would often engage in conversation with him while getting his hair cut. We also liked that Nick knew how we wanted to get our hair cut, not even asking how we wanted it over the last few years, like many good business owners, he knew what his customers wanted.

While I’m sure that Nick will be missed by his family and close friends, he’ll also be missed by some of his loyal customers who found his shop as local place they could get a haircut for a reasonable price by a friendly barber. For my son and I, he was a part of our Saturday routine for the last 7 years or so that we participated in every month and a half, something that will take time to re-establish.

Writer’s block

There are times when I’d like to write more here, however I’m finding that if I have a lot of stress at work, my desire do update this blog diminishes greatly. I think my problem is the way I deal with stress and problems, I tend to focus on the problem and just the problems; nothing else. I wonder how many people have similar behavior. I love writing here, and I have no disillusions about the insignificance of the bytes that are here, but for me I find it sort of therapeutic. It’s amazing what stress will do to someone, and lately there’s been too much of it in my life.

Here’s to hoping that this trend changes for the better.

‘Tis the season, and then it’s over.

My favorite time of the year is from the day before Thanksgiving, until the week after Christmas. During this period it seems like things at work are slowed down a bit, there’s the added benefit of 4 day weekends, vacation, plus everyone seems to be in a better mood; myself included.

Having kids I try to take off either the week preceding Christmas or the week after depending on workload, I usually try to alter this time off every other year. This year, I took off the 3 days prior to Christmas when combined with our company’s holidays, I was off that entire week. I must admit it was nice to have off and spend some time with the kids, watching the Christmas excitement build on their eyes. It would have been better if we didn’t receive 24 inches of snow that week, and it would have been ever better if I wasn’t sick with killer sinus headaches and a nagging couch. But nonetheless, I was grateful for that time off.

Now that New Years has passed, it’s time for all of this celebration to come to an end. The kids go back to school this coming Monday, and at work it officially is the start of our project season. I’m counting down the hours until I go back to work, trying to relish ever last remaining minute of time before the return to work, serious work. We have some ambitous schedules ahead of us, and I look forward to being able to get some real work done, not just patch work. With everyone back from their vacations, it’ll be full steam ahead.

Here’s hoping that 2010 is a happy and healthy year.

What I’m thankful for.

In talking with my kids earlier this week the topic of Thanksgiving came up. My wife had asked the kids what they were thankful for, it got me thinking about the topic myself. Naturally, the kids asked my wife and I what we were thankful for. I explained to them, that I was most thankful to have the people that lived in my house as a part of my life. I have two wonderful children and they make being a parent a true pleasure, but I wanted to expand on the list of what I was thankful for since there’s so much more I was truly thankful for than just the people in the house.

First, I’m thankful for my wife. I’m thankful that she is so vigilant in raising our children, and she is so selfless in her care of the kids as well as addressing the day to day things, such as Doctor appointments, and calls to the teachers, and health insurance companies. For example she makes their lunches for school every day without complaint (except that the kids are so unwilling to try new foods), she does her best to see that the kids are provided with a well rounded lunch. My wife does an awesome job, and it seems that sometimes I don’t give her proper recognition for all that she does for our children. I’m also greatful to my wife becuse she’s understanding when it comes to my job. There have been times when I’ve had to call her and say that I’m running late in coming home, which have sometimes been followed up with another phone call where I’m telling her that I’m going to be really, really late. She doesn’t give me grief about this, which is so helpful. It allows me to concentrate on the problems and work without having to worry about getting grief about being late for dinner, or missing dinner altogether. There have been times where I’ve had to bail out on plans we’ve made because something has come up at work and she’s been completely supportive, often telling me that she feels bad for me because I’ve put so much time in there. She does so much for all of us, and asks for so little in return.

I’m thankful for my children. They are two of the sweetest kids I’ve ever met. Every day when I get home from work, I am greeted with hugs and kisses, and I can tell that they are both happy to see me arrive at the end of my day. This makes my hour long commute much easier, and I actually look forward to seeing them at the end of a stressful day. I’m so hopeful that I can maintain this relationship when my kids are older. My kids appear to really appreciate what they have in life. As an example, this morning I ran to the supermarket and I was going to stop at Dunkin Donuts for coffee. I had asked my son if he had wanted anything, and after some deliberation we decided that I was going to pickup some hot chocolate and munchkins for a breakfast snack. While I was out at the store, my son had told my daughter that I was picking up hot chocolate and munchkins, my daughter’s response was ‘this breakfast keeps getting better’, showing me that she really appreciates the little things we do for them.

I’m thankful that I have a job. Work has been strange lately with everyone on edge, sales being down, every is unsure about their future in this economy. However, I’m thankful that I’m not forced to look for another job at this time, although I’m giving some serious thought to looking for a new job, as of right now I can do this on my terms.

I’m thankful that I have a house. This was something that my Mom had always instilled in my when I was a kid. She would always reinforce that we should be greatfull that we had somewhere that kept us warm when it was cold out, and somewhere to keep us dry when it rained. I used to get annoyed when my Mom would keep reminding my brother and I as to how lucky we were, however, I find myself doing this with my kids too. I get the impression that my kids do appreciate it more than I did when I was their age. I can not say how much I love owning a house, despite the stress that comes with ownership and despite the fact that this is probably not the ideal house for us, it is nice to come home after a long day at work and be able to sit on my aging couch and just know that while I’m home I am in my sanctuary, regardless of how small and cramped it seems to be at times. It’s also nice that I have somewhere I can call my own, and when I’m not feeling well my recover is always aided by being in my house.

I’m thankful that I can afford to have some luxuries in my life. Although I would appreciate just having the basics in life and do realize that I’m fortunate to have what I do, there are somethings that I’m thankful to have that are not necessities. First, would be having two cars. Although the car I drive on a daily basis is a 10 year old Honda, it’s been reliable and gets me to work and home every day accumulating 25,000 miles a year. While my wife drives the newer car, just the fact that we have two cars makes our lives so much easier giving us added flexabilty. Then there are the ancillary things that I’m thankful to have. Cellphones, cable television, game consoles, iPods, DVD’s, CD’s, and computers are all things that make life more interesting, convenient, and at times more fun.

There are so many things that I’m thankful for and I could go on forever on how fortunate my family and I are.

This is what I’m thankful for.

I’m tired.

I don’t know what it is. I don’t know why. I do not feel like doing anything today. Moreover, I haven’t felt like doing anything for a while. I just don’t have the energy, I don’t have the drive. Maybe I’m just tired. Maybe it’s because I’m getting old.

I did a lot of walking yesterday, and maybe I’ve used up my energy reserve for the weekend in one day. My bigger problem, is that I’ve got things to do around the house. The lawn needs to be cut, the garage needs to be straightened up, just to name a few. But not everything I need to do requires me to expend energy on a hot and humid August day. I’ve got to get the oil changed in my car, as well as getting the tires rotated. I also need to find my water bill so I can pay it.

I don’t feel like doing any of it.

But I probably will.

Turning 40

For some this experience is traumatic, it signifies the end of an era within their life; their youth no more, for others it’s no big deal.
For me, I’m not really sure what turning 40 means, other than I’ve lived for 175200 days and by the life expectancy averages have that many remaining. In that time frame, I’ve managed not get killed by some horrible disease, drunk driver, etc, or managed to kill myself doing something stupid or foolish. When I think back on times of my youth, there are things that I’ve done that I would not ever consider doing at this age, however, I managed to stay alive. As a infant and child my parents manged to keep me fed, keep me hydrated and keep me away from any mortal danger. As I sit here writing this, my wife and kids are shopping for a birthday present for a niece who is soon to turn 5 years old, and I’m realizing that turning 40 has had impact on my life. As I sit hear waiting for the Ibuprofen to take hold and reduce some of the pain that’s in my right knee and ankle, I can feel the nausea starting to creep in, a symptom that Ibuprofen has when taken on an empty stomach.

There wasn’t any binary change from turning 40, there wasn’t any switch being flipped where I went from having no pain to having pain. The change has been gradual, …very gradual. In addition to the pain there are other symptoms. For example it’s a real chore to stay awake past 10:00pm. I don’t know if I can attribute this to specifically to getting older, or my 5:00am alarm for the last 5 1/2 years. So things like concerts are really no longer fun because I find myself desperately wanting the show to end, because all I really do is want to get to bed. How pathetic is that? One of my favorite things in the world used to be staying up to the wee hours of the morning reading things on the internet on the days I didn’t have to work. Now it’s a struggle, and I often find the eye lids getting heavy and the double vision coming on much too early now.

I also can no longer sit for lengths of time in any one spot, my knees, hips, and back will start to ache, my remedy; constantly shift my position. When sitting on the couch after work, I find my self constantly crossing and re-crossing my legs, this is mainly due to hip pain, but may also be the source of my hip pain…who knows. If the barometer has dropped and it’s about to rain, I really feel the pain, specifically in my left knee. This is a knee that I broke when I was 13 years old when I jumped over a wrought iron fence and landed directly on it from a height of about 5 feet. I walked around on it for 3 days before it was diagnosed as broken, I still have pain in it today.

All in all getting old really sucks.