Our boys are not “stuff” kids. We learned this early on, when Boy The Elder was but a wee little lad and we did what normal first-time parents do: Buy him a ton of what I call KidShit for Christmas. The KidShit went largely untouched. BTE, we learned, was more of an “experiences” kid. He had a few toys that he would play with, but man-oh-man if you would take him to lunch or to see Monster Jam …
So, wise parents that we are, we stopped buying him KidShit. Oh, we’d get him a few toys and whatnot for Christmas and birthdays, but what really mattered to him was the set of coupons we gave him that he could redeem for experiences with each of his parents. Boy The Younger came along, and though they differ in just about every other way, when it comes to KidShit, they’re the same. Kid Coupons involve things such as going to the movies with mom or going bowling with dad.
Today, BTY cashed in his coupon to go mini-golfing with me. Some parents might let their kid win. I’m not that kind of parent. Part of it is that it’s important for kids to learn to compete and lose. Part of it is that I’m too damn competitive. In the end, I won by three strokes. But that’s not what really matters. Life has been moving so fast since November. It’s easy for BTY to get lost in the shuffle because he’s extremely adaptable, even more selfless and prefers to be in the background. After Our Favorite African left in July, Wifey Poo and I really refocused our lives on BTY. With BTE back in college, BTY is who’s here and who we need to raise. Today, she is taking him to a movie. We love that kid. He’s so, so, so different from BTE that it makes me wonder how they came from the same parents. But they did, and they’re both individually amazing.
Why Do We Even Have This Thing?
Soon after Wifey Poo and I first were married, we went to the local Wal-Mart on the west side of Hamilton, Ohio, and purchased a two-drawer black metal filing cabinet. After all, we had stuff that needed to be filed now. Important Stuff. Vital Records. Necessary Paperwork.
Over the years, that filing cabinet has made a lot of moves. It’s dented. Worn. Battered. When we moved to New House in August, it just sort of ended up in the equivalent of where it always ends up — the office/homeschool room. Wifey Poo is trying to bring more organization to her life, and she’s itching for more space in Homeschool Central. So I said, “Do we even need the filing cabinet anymore?” I mean, so much of what was once Important Stuff is now Important Stuff Kept In The Cloud. So last night, we started going through the contents of our filing cabinet. Among the things that are now set to be burned in our burn pile (cuz dats what Missourah country folk do!) are:
- A manual to a chainsaw whose life ended in 2016.
- Medical receipts from 2015.
- Mortgage papers from three houses ago.
- Assembly instructions for BTY’s dresser
- Pictures of Wifey Poo’s insides. (Ew.)
There were a few things we found that were worth keeping.
- The receipt and appraisal for the engagement ring I bought then-Girlfriendy Poo back in 1995. I’d been trying to remember the name of the store I bought it from. If you’re looking for an engagement ring in West Des Moines, Iowa, I heartily recommend Herman’s Fine Jewelers.
- A copy of a letter of support from a woman named Kathy DeNio that she sent to the publisher of the newspaper for which I had until recently served as editor back in 2009. Ms. DeNio was upset at how I’d been quietly extracted from my position and said that my absence was not going unnoticed. She even said her morning cup of coffee didn’t taste as good anymore now that she couldn’t drink it while reading my work. Awww. I must find this woman. Anyone know a Kathy DeNio who once lived in Faribault, Minnesota?
You’ve had a good run, filing cabinet. But we have to break up. It’s not you. It’s technology.
The ‘Don’t Blame Me, I Didn’t Say It’ of the Day
So. Many. Subscriptions.
Wifey Poo and I spent a huge chunk of the afternoon coming up with our October budget. It’d been awhile since we’d put together an actual budget as a team. About six or seven years ago, we were maniacal about our monthly budget. We were on a quest to be debt-free. And we did it. We even were on The Dave Ramsey Show to scream “We’re debt freeeeeeee!”
And then a whole lot of shit happened. I mean, a whole lot of shit.
Monday, we close on Old House. Soon after, we will be debt-free once again. And I need to get a good handle on our finances.
Part of yesterday’s effort was to figure out exactly what we pay for and when on subscription services. I think any tech-enabled family will find they pay a sneakily high amount for access to their favorites. There’s Netflix and ESPN+, Dollar Shave Club and Amazon Prime (and, oh, don’t forget add-ons for Amazon Music Unlimited and Amazon Photos.) There’s Instant Ink for our printer and AAA to help us when our cars break down. It goes on and on and on. When I tallied them all up, we were paying more than $1,300 a year in subscription services.
Thankfully, the audit allowed me to find some places to trim. Buh-bye, Dropbox and Quip (among others).
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- We close on Old House on Monday. It’ll be nice to be debt-free again.
- BTY has a cross country meet Monday. Gotta see how he does.
- The Chiefs play at noon Sunday. I have a bad feeling they’ll be 1-2 by nightfall.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pizza Visit 🍕French Fry Vodka 🍟🥃Let’s All Move to Portugal ✈️ We were surprised at dinner time last night with the sight of a kid who’s really no longer much of a kid. Matthew, who’s been Boy The Elder’s friend since the two weren’t even toddling, stopped by, pizzas in hand.Continue reading “Absolut Curly? — Nov. 10, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Death List ☠️Doctor Day 🩺Stay Calm, Be Confident 🧘 Sometimes the internet does something useful. For example, in the early days, there was the site that was nothing but The Hamster Dance. I’m not making that up, kiddos. The only thing this website had was The Hamster Dance. Don’t believe me?Continue reading “Inventor Regret — Nov. 9, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What Makes a Sloth a Sloth? 🦥Launch Day is Nigh 🚀Talkin’ Free Speech 🎙️ I find myself going down some interesting rabbit holes lately. For example, tonight I wondered why exactly sloths are so slow and how exactly such a creature could survive in a survival-of-the-fittest world, especially when they liveContinue reading “Sloth Talk — Nov. 8, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Good Morning, Bank of America, How Are Ya? 🎮Woods Walk 🌲🌲🌲Big Bird’s a Commie ☭ I awoke this morning to a text from Bank of America about potentially fraudulent charges on my debit card. “Pshaw,” thought I. “Probably just a scam.” So I stumbled into the kitchen, made my coffee andContinue reading “Early Morning Gaming? — Nov. 7, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cute Pic, Dumb Response 📷A Musical Connection 🎵A Time-Change Analogy ⌚ My first solo venture into Costco today did not end up in familial bankruptcy, surprisingly. Oh, it could have. It just didn’t. I walked right past the $40 slabs of ribs and steered clear of the $2,000 monster TV thatContinue reading “Adventures in Costco – Nov. 6, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Wrasslin’ 🤼♂️Wifey Poo 🦶Costco 🛒 Boy The Younger and I found ourselves this evening in the most difficult-to-spell-without-looking-it-up building in the Midwest, Chaifetz Arena, home of the Midwest’s most-weirdly named college basketball team, the St. Louis University Billikens. But we weren’t there for hoops. We were there to watch the oddContinue reading “Punk! — Nov. 5, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Role Reversal ◀️Work From Wherever ⌚People Talk Funny 📣 Today was Part I of Operation “Return Wifey Poo’s Ability to Walk Not Like An Old Lady.” We arrived at Barnes Jewish Hospital West, which graciously allowed us entry despite us not being members of the tribe, just before 10 a.m. toContinue reading “Wounded Wifey Poo — Nov. 4, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 📺 A Broadcast to Watch 📰 An eNewsletter to Read 📽️ A Documentary to Skip Here are two things that receive the official John The Storyteller-in-Chief’s Seal of Approval — and one that doesn’t. ✅ Peyton and Eli Do Monday Night Football I have been alive for many variations of theContinue reading “John’s Seal of Approval — Nov. 3, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Good Journalism 📰Fish Farts 🐟💨Dystopia 🧟 I’m officially old. I say that not because of a birthday or a sudden recognition that I am, indeed, 47. Rather, I say it because I’m increasingly pining for “the good-old days.” Now, I get it, Billy Joel. The good-old days weren’t always good, andContinue reading “Get Off My Lawn! — Nov. 1, 2021”
🔻 What’s Below 🔻My Red Wagon 😊F’n Nightmares 💤I Hate Facebook 😠 I greeted the Halloween morning sunrise while taking every last thing out of the garage of my little country home and putting it in one of four sections on the driveway: Stuff to throw away. Stuff to give to Wifey Poo to tryContinue reading “Cleaning Out Memories — Oct. 31, 2021”
👎 What’s Below 👎Boy The Medalist 🏅Ricky The Trash Eater 🗑️Sweating It Out 🥵 Waiting for Boy The Younger’s blue-haired head to pop over the rolling southern Missouri countryside for the final sprint to the finish line this morning was torturous. He was running in his final cross-country meet of this, his first season, oneContinue reading “My Blue-Haired Medalist — Oct. 30, 2021”
What’s BelowShoulder Ouchies 😧Chris the TigWaBaFatu 💁♂️Murder Pods 🔪 I’d love to know what idiot thought it was a good idea to get a COVID booster shot in one arm and a flu shot in the other less than a minute apart yesterday. Oh, that would be me. I spent much of the night sleepilyContinue reading “Make Mine a Double — Oct. 29, 2021”
👇🏻 What’s Below 👇🏻🚦 Red Means Stop 💉 Vaccination Ethics ✍️ The Many Voices in My Head I’m convinced that people in every state think their state’s drivers are the worst, and never do they count themselves among them. I learned to operate a motor vehicle in New York, whose drivers have a particularly bad reputation, butContinue reading “The Idiot Driver? Tis I — Oct. 28, 2021”
🔻 What’s Below 🔻Heading South for the Winter 🥶Laughing With Wifey Poo 🤣👩Americans Suck at Math 🧮Therapy 🧠 I love my role as the family’s vacation planner. I’m not sure exactly when I put on this hat, but I think it’s a generally recognized Family Truth that it’s something at which I’m good. I’ve planned everythingContinue reading “Christmas Road Trippin’ — Oct. 27, 2021”
👇🏾 What’s Below 👇🏾In the dugout ⚾What if I’m … wrong? 😢Angry face 😡 I spent part of the morning in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout. The fam took a trip downtown to tour Busch Stadium. It was a good visit. We saw the owner’s suite (posh), the Champions Club (pricey) and peeked in on the battingContinue reading “Sitting on the Bench — Oct. 22, 2021”
👇 What’s Below 👇On Men and Crying 😭 Why I write ✍🏻Back Crackin’ 👨⚕️ So here’s a thing I sometimes hate about myself: I cry. Like, easily. And often. Or at least it’s “often” in comparison to how often men normally cry. At least, I think it’s often in comparison to the frequency men normally cry. IContinue reading “So Many Damn Feelings — Oct. 22, 2021”
What’s Below 👇🏼Nazis and Mongols ⚾Hippie writing ☮️Inside marriage 💍 The Astros playing the Red Sox to see who advances to the World Series is, to me, akin to the Nazis fighting the Mongols to determine who gets control of the planet — and if you haven’t heard about how the Mongols killed their prisoners,Continue reading “Baseball is Broken — Oct. 20, 2021”
What’s Below 👇On being self-taught 📷The Bee Battle 🐝Ahhh, Ben Platt 🎶 I set up a little makeshift portrait studio today in a training room at my office. Lights, a backdrop — the color of which matches our new brand hue — and a tripod with my Nikon Z6. It all looked very fancy-shmancy. Here’sContinue reading “Say ‘Cheese’ — Oct. 19, 2021”
Human beings of the modern age like to think of themselves as the pinnacle of all creation. Of course, this is not necessarily new to the modern age. It wasn’t all that long ago that some of the brightest minds of their modern age — guys like Sir Isaac Newton — thought women got pregnantContinue reading “Technology Sucks — Oct. 18, 2021”
Being a bald man, I don’t have many reasons to be in a barbershop. And I miss barbershops. They are one of the few remaining oases for guys, and barbershop talk is fun. I took Boy The Younger to have his mop managed Saturday morning. Boy The Elder found Walt’s Barbershop a few years ago.Continue reading “Even a Bald Man Needs a Barbershop — Oct. 17, 2021”
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, and even almost 21 years later, I’m not sure how I feel about it. So much of time is arbitrary. We screw it up so badly that we have to add a whole day every four years. So for me, today is just like any other dayContinue reading “Infant Loss Awareness — Oct. 15, 2021”
There’s this state of being that’s not quite asleep, not quite dreaming but definitely not awake. That’s where I found myself Thursday evening at Livin’ Sublime Wellness, my little yoga studio in Wentzville. Restorative yoga is a lifesaver for me. If you haven’t tried it, you should. Not to sound all Hippie-Dippy or anything, butContinue reading “Fourth State of Being — Oct. 14, 2021”
A vegan, a person on a gluten-free diet, and a person who does Crossfit walk into a bar. How do I know? Because none of them would shut up about it. If you haven’t heard this joke before, you can probably relate. I know I can. I remember meeting Sarah on Day 1 at aContinue reading “Losing Weight Wasn’t the Goal — Oct. 13, 2021”
The one thing I know how to do better than anything else is write. I love it. But it’s also sometimes very difficult. Because I know how to tell a story, I’m tapped to do so in trying times. I did so when my father-in-law died in January, writing his obituary and helping my beautifulContinue reading “The Family Writer — October 9, 2021”
I found it funny this morning to be walking through Kohl’s with a meat thermometer in my right hand and two toilet seats tucked under my left arm. There are some moments in life that are just serendipitous. Boy The Elder and Wifey Poo are indirectly responsible for this little portrait you now have inContinue reading “On Toilet Seats and Meat Thermometers — Oct. 8, 2021”
I’ve been a Yankees fan since I was a small boy. Some of my best memories were born in the old Yankee Stadium. It’s in my DNA to not like the Red Sox. I can think of no good reason to despise the Sawx or their fans, but I still am repulsed by their logo,Continue reading “Painful Playoff Baseball — Oct. 5, 2021”
I once played in a baseball game in which it was raining so hard that, when I picked up a ball stuck in the mud in the middle of a puddle in a centerfield that resembled a shallow lake, it felt like I was throwing a shot-put to the second baseman 15 feet away. Today,Continue reading “An All-Sports Weekend – Oct. 3, 2021”
Life sucks when you’re tired. I know this. I’ve lived this. A lot of people like to say they have insomnia. I used to say I had insomnia. Then I actually got insomnia. There’s a difference between a few nights of poor sleep and insomnia. Which isn’t to diminish a few nights of poor sleep.Continue reading “So. Damn. Tired — Sept. 28, 2021”
The one-and-only competitive footrace I have ever won came during Field Day 1980 at Pound Ridge Elementary School in suburban New York. I was in kindergarten, on the green team, and was a part of the 50-meter dash. I remember being most fascinated that day by the starters’ pistol, wondering if it contained real bulletsContinue reading “The Finish Line — Sept. 27, 2021”
I’m all about lists. I love making them. I love crossing things off on them. And it really annoys me when things I wanted to get done on a list don’t get done. I came into today with a lot of things left on my weekend to-do list. Rather than end the day annoyed, IContinue reading “Wifey Poo, The Super Finder — Sept. 26, 2021”
Tonight was date night for me and Wifey Poo. We swung by Stone Summit Steak & Seafood for a drink — she, a fruity white wine; me, a Woodford Reserve, neat — and then went to see Dear Evan Hansen. I’d wanted to catch it back when it was on the stage and never had.Continue reading “Dear Evan Hansen — Sept. 24, 2021”
One of the interesting truths about this whole “living” thing is that we make so many important decisions before we know what the hell we’re doing. For example, I chose my career path the same year I got my driver’s license. I had absolutely no concept of a mortgage and office politics and exactly howContinue reading “Getting Married vs. Being Married — Sept. 23, 2021”
I have seen in person how protective a mother grizzly bear can be of her cubs. The Fam was on a two-week Alaska vacation between my seventh- and eighth-grade years, a trip on which my voice changed and I enjoyed the company of twin 14-year-old sisters from Alabama, which is a story for another day.Continue reading “I’m Legal! – Sept. 22, 2021”
I spent the morning in my office at work ensconced in my gray shirt-jack. If you don’t know what a shirt-jack is, that’s OK. I didn’t either until I found it on Amazon a few years ago while searching for something that wasn’t quite a sweatshirt but not quite a jacket to wear around theContinue reading “The Shirt-Jack is Back! – Sept. 21, 2021”