Saturday, December 29, 2007

Think About It, The Time You Have And How You Spend It

I’ve never preached about what anyone ‘should do’ as a parent or an adult.  I have my opinions and my personal preferences…but I feel strongly that when you become a parent, that the one thing you have working against you is time…your kids are only babies, toddlers, little, teenagers, etc…once.  If you aren’t there for it, you don’t get it back.  I’m not saying that you give up who you are and the things you love…but your golf clubs won’t sit on your lap trying to read stories, nor will your drinking buddies ever hold your hand as you walk to the park…or play hide-and-go-seek.   I don’t think it is about being selfish, or a lack of individuality – its a balance, and its important to me to balance out on the side of being at the dinner table 90 out of 100 nights for dinner. 

Everything else outside of time can be remedied.  I’ve got a short fuse, but I can work on that and become more patient (I question whether I’ve gotten any better in roughly 8 years of parenting).  I’m not great at other things, but if I can recognize that I can improve myself in those areas, at least I’m doing them, and learning how to be a better me, while I’m with my family. 

Further, I know that at some point in the not so distant future, my kids are going to want less to do with me, and more to do with their friends.  That’s the way it is supposed to be, so I better enjoy and take advantage of the moments I have now…before they are gone and I have wait for grandchildren for these special moments to come back around.

Where am I going with this?  Well, with some time off for the holidays and looking back at the year that has passed, I have realized that I am VERY LUCKY to have taken this approach with my family and life.  I’ve alot of colleagues at my company that have sacrificed alot, and chosen a different path than I have, only to be let go from their jobs.  This is unfortunate for them and me, because I truly have enjoyed working with them, and in many cases, their company for 8 + hours a day. 

But I wonder when they work until 7pm, and only get home to tuck their wee-ones in at best, what they think when they get their walking papers?  Did they make the choices that really mattered? To them and/or their families?  Did that extra hour to two hours at the office make up for not hearing about Junior’s day at elementary school?  Maybe it seemed that way at the time…but me thinks that it might not have made an ounce of a difference when they were let go. Often it is nothing to do with the person or his or her work, it’s just a numbers thing.

So did their extra bit of effort make the difference? In the end no…. but if it was something they had to do to say they were doing the job needed to earn their paycheck, well, that’s a touch different.  But mostly I ask was it worth missing soccer games and dinner for?  My feeling is that the answer this person gives is only as difficult as they want it to be.  You can always bring your laptop home (if you have a laptop to bring home) or paperwork to read…after the kids go down for the night. 

As I ponder the upcoming year and think back to the one that is ending, I wonder what comes next for me.  But this I know, 90 out of 100 nights I’ve had dinner with my wife and kids and am apt to do it again in 08.  Sure, I’ve put kids to bed without stories and swats on the butt…and I’ve snuggled and fallen asleep with them and their steady breathing.  I know that in 07 that being with them and being there for them was what mattered most, and that I’ve not regretted anything along those lines this past year.

What are you doing that matters most for those that truly matter in your life? And if you just change one or two things, maybe it gets better for you and all those that share your life.

Maybe think about how you might change a few things in 08 to make it the best year that you can.

Think about it.

Posted by Jerry in 20:13:08 | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Southtown? No doubt, but we do get mid-40s sometimes…..

We have watched alot of Christmas shows over the past couple of weeks. Alot. My favorite is A Year Without Santa Claus, and funny, because of Heat Miser and Snow Miser….it has fast become one of Demetrius’ and Maya’s.


Down in Dixie, we just don’t get the snow the kids want….

That said, Demetrius was singing the ‘Heat Miser’ song yesterday and what did Maya said to me? Do we live in Southtown (fictional town in the show)? I said we lived in the south and she mentioned that she sure is glad that Santa decided to come to ‘Dixie’ again the year, because there were alot of toys she wanted and ‘needed’ to have.

Demetrius just wanted to make sure that Snow Miser might make it snow this year in Georgia.


No promises there kid that this guy will deliver for us in Atlanta….

Clearly, we are still full on in Christmas mode at Casa Grasso…

Posted by Jerry in 17:04:49 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Morn At The Grassos


Not Me….Not Anymore…..

I hear the heavy breathing and feet running down the hall.  Though I’m in that place between awake and sleep, I know exactly who it is, what it means, and what comes next:

“DADDY, SANTA’S BEEN HERE!”

“Go wake your sister up, don’t open any presents until everyone is downstairs, Demetrius.”

He runs into his sister’s room and repeats to her what he has said to me.  She literally doesn’t say anything.  She squeals loudly and I hear her feet hit the floor.

I stall for time for Kim and I to stumble out of bed and hit the bathrooms.

“SLIPPERS ON BEFORE ANYONE GOES DOWNSTAIRS!”

I know they will want to rip into the presents, and I also know that the last place they’ll look for their slippers will be in their closets (why would they be there?). This buys us enough time to find our glasses and empty our bladders.  We all go downstairs.  Let me re-state, Kim and I lumber downstairs….I’m pretty sure the wee-ones feet don’t actually touch the steps as they fly down.

Buddy meets me at the bottom of the stairs, I open the door and he goes out to explore his yard and take care of ‘his needs’.  

The stockings are off the mantle.  The two of them are sitting on the couch.  SpongeBob and Hello Kitty slippers bouncing up and down….legs are nowhere near long enough to reach the floor.

Kim grabs the camera, she looks at me and I smile.  She tells them, ”go ahead guys.”

Of course, the two of them turn their stockings upside down and dump everything out on the floor.  The easiest way to get to everything in them.  Candy comes tumbling out and bounces all over the carpet…shining in red and green aluminum foil.  

“WHHHHEEEEEGGGEEEAHHHHHHH” (This is a Demetrius autistic happy squeal).

His face is all balled up.  His number one requested gift, SpongeBob’s “Atlantis SquarePantis” DVD is being clutched and held closely to his chest.  Santa’s delivered!

Maya give a yelp as she sees her Hannah Montana CD for her ‘Hello Kitty Player’.  Of course, with Maya, she’s unwrapping chocolate and eating it. Why wait?  If you do, Mom and Dad might just limit the amount you can eat.  At this point, we are distracted by the Christmas moment.  So eat up!

We then hit the tree.  I think most everything they asked for is under the tree (or in the stockings).  We have to slow Demetrius down.  He’s not really paying attention to what he’s opening – he’s just looking for boxes with his name on them to tear open.  The damage is contained:  Demetrius didn’t open a single box with clothes inside.  What a fantastic morning for him.  Lucky kid.

Of course, Maya wanted every single gift she got, and is comparing her XXX to Emily’s YYY, etc…. for Maya, its as much about a story as the gift itself.  After awhile I just smile and nod.  She’s so excited she is just bursting with words….coming out of a mouth that is stained with chocolate.  She’s not really paying attention to what she’s saying and neither am I.

Kim’s getting a bit flummoxed.  No one is staying still long enough for her to get a good picture.  What does she expect?

Demetrius opens a gift from “Mommy and Daddy”.  It’s a ‘responsibility chart’, you know, to record chores and good deeds.  I don’t look at the love of my life because I know I’ll give away my thoughts with the look on my face, but in my head I’m thinking, “What the hell is this crap on Christmas?”  Demetrius just literally drops it once Kim tells him what it is.  Why let this ‘gift’ bring him down on such a wonderous morning? 

Maya, the ever competitive second child, looks at Kim and asks if she got one too.  Of course!  Did she really want one? Probably not. But she really wants to make sure she gets as much or about the same as her older brother.  I think to myself, “Guys, it said from Mom and Dad on it….but lets be clear, this is a Mommy gift, not a Daddy one.” 

Last thought on this subject that went through my head was that if I even knew about this gift, I would have gotten me, I mean, D, a Wii…on principle you know, to balance out the responsibility chart.

We move on and finish up.  Maya hits the chocolate again as we begin to unwrap the Mommy and Daddy gifts.  Who cares about those?  I got some sweaters. Booyah!  Kim made over her gifts.  She said she liked what I got her.  She didn’t ask for the gift receipts, that’s a good sign!  Wait! I proactively put them in her boxes.  I’ll just leave that one alone….

“Daddy?”

“Yes, Demetrius?”

“Can you help me….”

And so phase two began.  Every toy needed more batteries than we expected and took longer to put together than I thought.  I believe my parents give certain gifts to my children just to test my engineering acumen…knowing good and goddamn well that I was a history major in college.   From 7:45am – 10:00am I worked with the boy to change a Transformer toy from my parents from ‘robot state’ to ‘car state’. It has 36 unique movements to make this happen.  AND you have to look at instructions to do it.  As soon as I was done, and it actually drove as a car, he wanted me to change it back to the robot.

In my head I said, “Screw that boy!  From this point on it’s a car, and you’ll like it as a car, got it!”  What I actually said was, “Play with it as a car Demetrius, we’ll change it later.”

We began making and receiving the obligatory calls to/from family.  I don’t know why we do this on the 25th.  They try to talk to the kids and the kids have no want whatsoever to talk.  Talking is useless. They are hopped up on sugar and Santa.  They want to play, not talk.  

One poor family member actually wanted to talk to the boy, and I dutifully handed him the phone.  Demetrius looked at it.  He never spoke, he just put it down on the couch and walked over to the toys by the tree.  Family members understand.  They were kids once themselves.

Kim began sheperding the kids and toys down into the basement. Its 11:00.  How the hell did it get to be 11:00?  I shower and start cooking the bird.

“Daddy?”

“Yes Maya.”

“How come Santa didn’t bring you any presents.”

I panic for a second.  In my head I think, “Not yet Maya, not yet. You are only six…but way too smart sometimes.  Please don’t start to think too much.  Don’t think this through.  Daddy wants the magic for a few more years.” Then it just sort of comes to me in this nervous moment….

“Santa did Maya.”

“What did he bring you?”

“Maya, remember how I told you Daddy is kind of a Grinch about Christmas, and that he didn’t think it was a big deal before you and Demetrius were born?”

“Yes.”

“Well, Santa brought me Christmas magic.  He brought me a happy heart.  There isn’t a present he could give me that would make me smile as much as watching you and your brother open your presents and being so happy to have new toys and a Hannah Montana guitar!  Santa was very good to Daddy this year because you kids were so excited and so good that you got what you wanted.  Seeing everyone smile so big is the best gift daddy could get.”

“Oh (I don’t know if she understands, I might need to dumb this down a bit).”

“So your heart grew three sizes too big?”

“Exactly!”

I can tell she’s processing and thinking of something very serious.  So I pick her up and sit her on my lap because, you know, we are having a moment.

“Next year you better write a list, Daddy.  So you can get something you want.  Like more bags for leaves.”

“What do you mean, Maya (I’m trying to read into this, but I’m a bit stumped.)?”

“Well, when you were mowing the lawn to pick up the leaves you ran out of bags and said, ‘Shit. I’m out of bags. I need bags.’ I was jumping on the trampoline, and thought you should ask Santa. Because you really like to mow the lawn.”

“Maya.  Remember next year and I’ll write a letter to Santa asking for leaf and grass bags, okay?”

“Okay Daddy.”

Christmas morning is for smiles, warm hearts, toys adults can’t figure out how to put together and tender moments….and curse words you shouldn’t be saying in front of your children being parroted back to you when you least expect them.

I hope you and yours had as good one as I had.

Posted by Jerry in 13:55:23 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays To All

If you haven’t seen this cool Santa tracker….well, you ain’t livin’!

I hope all of you have a happy holiday season.  I’m not going to be posting every day, but I’ll try to give updates on gifts and toothy smiles through family photos, etc….

This morning Demetrius was helping Mommy wrap gifts and Maya was talking about what a good girl she had been this year, so we’re getting good and stoked for tomorrow morning to see what Santa leaves under the tree for all of us.

Chat soon…

Merry Christmas from Jerry, Kim, Maya, Demetrius and Buddy


Buddy’s Had A Good Year In 2007


I have the greatest boy in the world


And these two keep my heart a-thumpin’…..


And no matter how hard the days are, the worries that keep us up at night…..I know that no matter what we do or how much we ham it up….


That I’m one lucky guy to have this crazy life

Posted by Jerry in 15:20:13 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Breakfast With Maya


It was a good effort, but not quite this FDA approved meal….

This morning when I got home from the gym, Maya had provided breakfast for me. On my plate was:

1- an unwrapped (still in plastic) piece of American Cheese
2 – Oatmeal in the Quaker Oats Cannister
3 – A cheese stick
4 – bowl of Apple Jacks (no milk)
5 – packet of hot chocolate mix (hint hint).

She had also gotten out the jar of vitamins.

Well, she had made a similar breakfast for Kim. We did eat around it (a bit). Minus the packet of cocoa and the oatmeal, Demetrius and Maya had yogurt with theirs..and there was nothing left to be seen on their plates (oh, and she gave both of them some grapes too).

But it was up to us to make her and Demetrius the hot cocoa, with marshmallows (which she had not gotten down), of course….

Earning those last minute points with Santa!


Of course, I went ahead and ate the oatmeal…

Posted by Jerry in 02:09:24 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Download a Five For Fighting Song off of iTunes and Cuz I’m a Fan!

This, this is great…..(if you seen it, I’m just now getting to it.  Sorry so slow on my end….). Have some tissues close.

Posted by Jerry in 20:22:53 | Permalink | Comments Off

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Zoey comments on CNN.com

Here’s a hyperlink to what I blogged about earlier. And just like Brittany news, this is the top news  on the Web right now…Sigh…..
Posted by Jerry in 21:53:35 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Grandpa and Zoey 101

Grandpa had eye surgery on Monday. He’s doing great – recovering spectacularly I hear and somehow he’s managed to garner 20/20 vision out of the deal. Probably well worth a $15 copay.

That said we gave him a call last night. Both kids did the customary Hi, How are you, How is your eye, I love you, bye….conversation on the phone. I kind of half-hearted fussed at them about it, but kids and the phone never mix well.

This morning, Demetrius asked me if Grandpa was better today before he sauntered off to school (between barely eating of the breakfast and the brushing of the teeth). I said I didn’t know, but I bet he is.

Demetrius: That’s good. I can still get my presents.

Somehow he’s connected his presents to Grandpa’s eye surgery. Whew, glad it went well for Grandpa!

Do you think that he’ll get more presents now that Grandpa’s vision is better?

—–

So we don’t watch alot of Zoey 101 on Nickelodeon, its a few years above Maya (I think) and she, as every other elementary girl at Abbotts Hill, is a big fan of Hannah Montana (Disney). That said, I heard on the news this morning that the star of the show has publicly announced at the age of 16 she’s preggers. Now, should anyone be shocked…I mean, teen stars live in another world…even one more upside-down than grown up stars. Then, they drop she’s Brittany Spears little sister…and when she told Brittany, that the paparazzi have pictures of Brittany chasing her out of her house with an umbrella. I’m not surprised. But my thought here is, PR wise, aren’t you risking this media circus when your star on the show is from a completely whacko celebrity family? The negative PR fallout from a somewhat popular show is 10x worse than it ever should have been – because you should have probably not hired the kid. She’s under a scrutiny/media watch than no other kid on your network is under on any given day…even the great SpongeBob!

So how does this tie to this blog?…Well, ultimately because my daughter is moving into a very impressionable age here, where what she watches is as important becuase she likes it as because other girls at school like it, and this is my first taste of ….will I have to explain something to her I don’t want to at the tender age of six (mind you, only ten years younger than Zoey… and child!)? And I don’t think she’s quite big enough to understand that Zoey is a TV celeb, and they don’t live in the real world…and that she’s even one step more removed being related to Brittany Spears…..

Parenting in this case, if I have to explain some things, may be harder than talking with one of Demetrius’ therapists….

Posted by Jerry in 15:59:28 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Uncle Jimmy Claus, Slippers And Psychological Warfare

Ahhhh Christmas time…when else during the year do you have the ultimate threat to get the kids to behave?

Tonight it looked like two tornadoes went through the house…one through Maya’s room (Strawberry Shortcake toys everywhere). Through Demetrius’ room the wind blew every board game out of its container.

When asked to clean their rooms, a resounding silence was heard, and a half-hearted effort was given.

Daddy picks up the phone and calls Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Francine: the fake call to Santa proceeds, as it is across houses in the USA as type these words.

First ‘Santa’ has a talk with Maya. She doesn’t know what to think. She giggles, gets excited…and then realizes he’s telling her he’s watching her and she needs to clean up to stay on the ‘nice list’. Her eyes widen, and as she’s listening…. she backs up into a corner of her room. She decides now is a good time to put her pjs on and no longer sit naked under her covers hoping Mommy will end up cleaning her room.

Demetrius can’t wait to talk to Santa, and when he too realizes he’s being watched and that toys might be at stake… he runs with the phone down the hall to his room…. and puts on his slippers (he’s always in trouble for not having his slippers on) and tells Santa, “Okay, okay…I’m putting on my slippers…bring me lots of toys. Okay? Okay? Okay, I’ll clean my room too!”

Kim and I smile and whisper after the call in our bedroom. When we emerge…. its worked like a charm. Never have their rooms been this clean in their lives.

What are we going to do in January when the threat is empty (he won’t come for another 11 months) and…they have every thing they want?

Truly, its psychological warfare…and I must continue to improve on my A-game…

Posted by Jerry in 01:36:53 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Brains of Babies Studied For Autism

Interesting piece I saw on CNN. Here’s where to catch it online.

What I liked best of all out of this piece is that parents in San Diego, in their first year check up for the wee-ones, are given a questionnaire, and depending on the answers, the children could be quickly placed in a study to see if they are autisitc…and thus, can begin early intervention therapy.

Good stuff.

Posted by Jerry in 16:15:10 | Permalink | Comments (1) »