Back-To-School Shopping

Melbourne old GPO postal hall converted to a s...

Melbourne old GPO postal hall converted to a shopping mall complex. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This time of year always meant one huge thing to me as a child – back to school!  I loved, loved, loved going to school.  But, back to school meant…

Back-To-School Shopping!

Shopping is the one thing I hated about going back to school.  My mom would take my brother and me shopping.

Shopping for clothes.

Shopping for shoes.

Shopping for lunchboxes and thermoses.

Shopping for pencils, and pens, and copybooks, and rulers, and scissors, and…

On and on and on.  The preparation for school started in late July and lasted for, well, forever!  At least, to a young boy it seemed it did.  It was at this time that I developed what I would call my mall headache, which I still get today.  It’s a headache that has a particular feel to it, and I only get it in a mall.

This aversion to shopping of mine continues to this day.  I can’t stand going into a store for more than five minutes.  Even if it’s for something that I like, I have to do my best to get in, get what I want or need, and get the heck out.  Now, there are some things I can stand to browse for a little longer.  Books, computers and accessories, food, and office supplies are awesome to look at.  But, even then, once I have my fill, I’m ready to get whatever it is I came for and/or found and leave posthaste.

I know I’m not alone in my shopping aversion.  I know plenty of people (mostly other guys) who try to set a new speed record when they shop.  Perhaps there’s something on the Y-chromosome that makes us that way.  Perhaps it has to do with evolution.  I can see that – when hunting some huge animal, the less time you’re outside the cave and in the wild, the less chance you’ll end up in some predator’s stomach.

How about you?  Does the mere thought of shopping make you cringe?  Or are you more like the shopaholic, who can spend hours comparing a hundred different items for the perfect fit and/or the perfect deal?

This post is for the September Back To School Blog Challenge, hosted by Matt Conlon on Join Something.

September Back To School Blog Challenge
Advertisements

The Joy Of School

A depiction of the world's oldest continually ...

A depiction of the world’s oldest continually operating university, the University of Bologna, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was of school age, which is approximately 5 to 18 years in the US, I loved going to school.  Does that make me weird?  Well, for the typical child in the US, it does.  I remember being the only one who couldn’t wait to start school, who couldn’t wait for Monday, and couldn’t wait for the summer to end.  I enjoyed learning new things; indeed, I still do.  Also, and this is when I will sound arrogant, I enjoyed showing how smart I was.

Yes – I was your typical little nerd.  Some (myself included) would argue that I still am that little nerd, but that’s not the point of my post.

September meant that I could get back to what I enjoyed – learning, acquiring new knowledge, and learning to apply that knowledge.  Sometimes that application was only what I could answer on a test, at least in my (then) young lifetime, but that was fine by me.  I managed to get great marks in school.

I learned quickly that I was, shall we say, unique in that regard.  My classmates hated school, and made sure I knew that I was different than them.  But… that’s a story for another time.

Nonetheless, I loved school, loved learning, and still do.

How about you – did you love school, as I did?  Or were you more like my classmates?

 

Edit: I neglected to mention that this post is for the September Back To School Blog Challenge, hosted by Matt Conlon on Join Something.

September Back To School Blog Challenge

Land Line Telephones

Recently, my wife and I upgraded my phone/television/Internet service.  Well, upgrade may not be the most accurate term, because we cut back on a lot of television channels that we never watched (how many channels dedicated to cooking does one really need, anyway?).  Since our three services are bundled, we got a “new” digital telephone service, with a whole lot of bells and whistles that we’ll never use anyway: Call Forwarding, Call Blocking by number, you know, stuff like that.

Telephone

Telephone (Photo credit: plenty.r.)

In the process of the upgrade, our voicemail with the phone company was reset, so to speak, and I had to reinitialize it.  OK, no problem.  Log into the website, click the FAQ, click the “Call my voicemail” button.  Really, all I wanted was to set up the voicemail – who’s idea was it to require a website logon?!  Anyway, I clicked the button, and my phone rang.  It was the voicemail lady, “Please enter your password, followed by the pound sign.”

Blah, blah, blah… I follow the prompts and hang up the phone.  Then the website prompts me for more setup options.  OK, at least I don’t have to listen to the voicemail lady tell me to press this number, or that symbol, or to speak the command in Ancash to continue.  Websites are generally the superior interface for these sorts of things.

Then, one of the options presented to me is something like Simultaneous Ring, which, despite sounding like a wedding-day custom, didn’t really appeal to me.  Its purpose is to ring another number at the same time someone calls your home number.  So, if someone were to call my home, it would ring at, say, my cell phone at the same time.  Without hesitation, I kept that feature disabled.  There is no way in God’s green Earth that I would want that.  The only people who call my home are pests who want to sell me something, pests who are asking for donations, and, especially here in the United States at this time of year, pests who want me to vote for them.

It was at this moment that it occurred to me – my home phone is pretty much useless now.  It has devolved into a marketing tool for other people!  Despite my registering on the Do Not Call List, I still get these calls.  Now, here’s the kicker, and the thing that really gets my goat: I’m paying for this – literally AND figuratively!  I use my cell phone for all my calls now.  My friends and family with whom I care to speak have my cell number.  Any time a phone call comes in to my land line, I let it go to voice mail for immediate screening.

Before I go off on a rant, which I’m really close to doing, I’ll close with a question to you, dear readers.  If you have a cell phone and a land line, do you use your land line for anything else other than a screening service?  Are the only folks, or a large majority of them, who call your land line those who want to sell something?  Would you cut the phone line permanently, if you haven’t already?

Let me know in the comments below.

The Wrong Pillow

Bed made with white bed linen. Four fluffy pil...

Recently, I stayed at a place that wasn’t my own.  It was only for one night, and I had been there before.  I will refrain from naming this place, mainly because I like to respect people’s privacy, but also because I’d rather not cause any static.  Not that what I’m about to say is a secret, or that it insults anyone.

Anyway, while I was there, I was reminded how important one’s pillow is, Continue reading

In Memoriam – Memom Gardner

First, I want to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the men who have children, love them, and are a Daddy to them.

Today is Father’s Day in the US, and I love my children more than life itself.  But this day is full of sad memories for me.  It was three years ago that my mother called me and gave me the news, through a tearful, cracking voice, that her mother had passed away.  I was floored – I knew the day wasn’t far off, but I also never really thought it would come, either.  It’s probably due to having the young boy’s memories of Memom always being there for me.  She was a permanent figure in our family, at least as far as I knew, and losing her was a terrible blow to me.  She was the first grandparent I remember losing, and it happened in my adult life.  My oldest daughters remember her, and for that I am extremely grateful.

My mom asked me to write and deliver a eulogy for her.  I had never written one before, and didn’t think I was up for the task.  Despite my trepidation, I sat down and wrote, and the next day, I delivered it.  Here it is.

Memom, I still miss you.

These are just some of the memories I have of Memom. Of course, all of this is from a grandchild’s eyes.

Laughter. Lots of hugs. Fun times with her.

Long drives to Lancaster County. Camping with Anthony, Lauren and Jana. My first taste of shoofly pie. Memom telling me why it was called shoofly, and the difference between wet-bottom and dry-bottom. Ant slipping and falling out of the top bed in the camper in the middle of the night. Pancakes for breakfast. An artist giving me a painted rock.

Long drives to Aunt Edie’s cabin in the Poconos. Sleeping in the dormer with the pull-down steps. Finding Gumdrop, the dog. The four of us grandkids riding in the back of her station wagon, spitting out the window and watching it do loops and spins before bouncing on the blacktop behind us. Going to Camelback and racing on the sleds in the summer.

Sleepovers at Memom’s in Morrisville with Ant, Lauren and Jana. One more scoop of Jello with one more scoop of Cool Whip. Learning in the morning that one of us had wet the bed, while the rest of us slept through it.

Seeing Memom at Grandpop Gardner’s viewing. Hugging her as she cried. Kissing her cheek and tasting the salt of her tears.

Sleepovers at Memom’s in her Bristol apartment on Garfield St. Wondering why the porch in the back had all that stuff in it. Hours of Uno. The stairs that went to nowhere.

Seeing her at my graduation. Getting my picture with her while I was in my cap and gown.

Dancing with her at my wedding.

Watching her proudly, joyfully hold each of my daughters for the first time.

Talking with her at the Christmas parties. Making her bourbons, and her saying, “Well, it’s a little weak, but that’s OK.”

Seeing her last Saturday, so tired. Holding her hand. Watching my children kiss her and tell her they loved her. Kim and I doing the same.

She gave us, her family, the ones she loved, so much of her time and energy. She was a wonderful, beautiful woman. A perfect grandmother. Of course, all of this is from a grandchild’s eyes.

Of Daughters, Writing, And Blogging

You may have noticed in some of my previous posts that I am a father to three beautiful, intelligent, wonderful daughters who never cease to amaze me and make me proud.  Well, recently, the two older girls came to me with a request that has me bursting with pride.

The Proposal

“Daddy,” they said, “we were talking about it, and we want to start a blog.  We’ll write the articles ourselves – they’ll be about fashion and book reviews and that sort of stuff.”

Pleasantly surprised, I said, “Wow, that’s great!  But, you know, you have to be careful not to say anything about yourselves specifically.  You need to keep your identity from random crazy people.”

“We know – we already talked about that.  We’re going to come up with fake names and write stuff like, ‘Hi this is Blah, and I was thinking….'”

Wow.  They already figured out that they were going to use pseudonyms, and how to use them.  “But we need your help to start it, because we don’t know how to set up a blog, or where to go to do it.”

“OK,” I answered, “I’ll talk to Mommy about it, and if we think it’s OK, we’ll go ahead with it.”

“YAY!”

The Deliberation

Blogging is relatively new to me, at least as far as my own experience is concerned.  I have two blogs, both less than a year old, and a far cry from anything close to even semi-known.  But, like most bloggers I presume, I write because I want and like to write.  Of course, it wasn’t too long ago, in college even, that I hated writing.  Even a few simple paragraphs were enough to have me pulling my hair out in frustration.  I do not want my daughters to feel that way, and this is one way to foster a love of writing in them at the early ages of nine and eleven.

But, I am concerned about their safety.  The last thing I want is for them to be in the spotlight personally.  The pseudonyms can be there, but that’s their purpose.  If we allow this blog idea to happen, I will take every last precaution to keep them safe.

Another concern of mine, and you may not know this, is that people on the Internet can be not nice, even downright mean!  I swear – it’s true!  Now, I do plan to mitigate this by turning on comment moderation and filter the comments myself.  Also, I plan to set up anonymous e-mail for contact, and be the only one to read that, at least at first.  But, I admit, the mean people don’t concern me as much as the crazy people.  I plan to explain this to them, and use it to teach them how to handle criticism.  This is a lesson they should learn earlier in life rather than later.

The Decision

So, what’s the result?  Well, I’ll be honest – my wife and I haven’t quite decided yet.  Like I said, I want to nurture in them that love of writing, because I know it is a skill that will serve them well in life.  I also want them to learn to live with criticism, and to use to to improve themselves.  But I don’t want to expose them to any dangers, either.

In the meantime, they have been bugging me to make the blog already.  I love their enthusiasm, and am proud of their tenacity.  I know that we have to decide soon before those fires die down.

How about you?  Do you have or know of any children who write their own blogs?  What advice can you give my wife and me?  How about for my daughters?

Sunday Funday - Check It Out!

Daddy Moment #5239: School Play

I have to take a moment to write about my middle daughter, Gabriella.  Based solely on each of their personalities now, I have predictions about what each of them will be when they grow up.  Gabriella, as far I can prognosticate, will be the entertainer of the family.  Thus, it was no surprise to me when she announced that she would audition for her school musical play.  Moreover, she was aiming for a solo.  I told her to do her best, study for the part, and that I would be rooting for her to win.

Of course, I, being the pragmatist I am, prepared myself for the role of consoler.  I knew there would be many children vying for the same part.  Add to that the fact that she had never performed on stage before, and I thought there was a good chance that my Little Angel would learn a lesson in disappointment.

My Little Angel, Gabriella

Last Thursday was audition time.  My mother, God bless her for her help, went to the school that day to pick her up.  “It was pure chaos,” she told me.  “There had to have been a hundred children trying out for this play!”  “Wow,” I thought, “even if she’s exaggerating, there had to be dozens of kids there.”  My heart sank a little for my daughter.  Competition was fierce.

Days passed, and Gabriella kept saying, “I can’t believe I have to wait until Tuesday to hear if I got the part!  WHY ISN’T TUESDAY HERE YET?!?”  Handling anticipation with patience is not one of her strong points.  “Don’t worry, Shorty, it’ll be here before you know it.  OK,” I said to her.  Again… and again… and again…

So, yesterday, Tuesday rolls around.  Much to my surprise, no play news was forthcoming.  My wife had Gabriella and Nicoletta, my youngest daughter, when I picked up Alessandra from my parents’ house.  I got called into work before they came home, so even if she heard anything, I wasn’t there to receive the news.  My wife didn’t say anything when I came home again, so I shrugged it off and went to bed.

The next day after work, I was the first one to get home.  While I was outside with Cooper, our dog, my wife came home with the kids.  When he finished his business, I brought Cooper into the garage.  My wife met me there.  “Daddy,” she said, “Gabriella has something to tell you.”  (Yes, we’re one of those couples who call each other Daddy and Mommy when our kids are around.)  Gabriella came out, head drooping down.  “Um, Daddy,” she moped, “I heard about the play.”  “Oh, yeah?  What did you hear,” I asked.  Her pout turned into hiding smile, then a wide-mouthed, toothy grin, “I got – I made – I… I got the part!”  She just about burst with the joy.  “You got the part?  You got the part!  That’s great, Angel,” I blurted proudly.  “Well,” she said, “it’s not a solo.  It’s a trio, though.  There’s two of them, but I’m in one!”  “AWESOME,” I shouted as I picked her up in a big hug.  She laughed and squealed joyfully.

So, out of dozens of candidates, my Little Angel, Gabriella, was one of six selected for the part.

I am so, so, terribly proud of her.

Congratulations, Gabriella.