Small Town

Well I was born in a small town And I live in a small town Prob’ly die in a small town Oh, those small – communities. John Mellencamp “Small Town”

A cool song. I was born and raised in Philadelphia. As an adult, I moved to New York – Brooklyn to be exact. I lived in Brooklyn for more than 4 years. From there, I lived in Manhattan for the same amount of time. I then spent a little over two years in the Bronx.
Besides being a bit of vagabond, you’ll note there is no small town in my past. So, unless you count my time at my college (State College, PA – the main campus of Pennsylvania State University), I am as big city as you can get. Well, that is until my family, and I made our way out to the suburbs of North Jersey nearly six years ago.


I couldn’t take it at first – the suburbs, that is. I don’t like mowing the lawn (, and I like noise, and thrive on activity. Yet, I’ve adjusted. There is peace and quiet and space. I love the space. So even though a part of me will always miss the city – Manhattan in particular – I am okay here in the burbs.
There is a sense of community in a small town. When I think of small towns, I think of familiarity. When I lived in the various boroughs of New York City, I was in high rises (some were higher than others), and I would see the same people coming in and out of the building. Yet, I knew very few if any of them. We shared hallways but not lives.
It’s not like that here in the suburbs. Now, it’s not like I know everyone, and we get together for brunch once a month on a rotating basis. Still, you can’t help but see people around whether it’s at the bagel store, the dry cleaner, the bank, or the town pool. At one point in my life, I probably would not have cared about this or even found it suffocating. Now, there is something about it that I find nice, decent, and comforting. It’s as if because of our proximity, we are bound together on some level.


Our town does some nice things to foster this sense of community. There is a Memorial Day Parade. The fire engines, police cars, EMTs, local servicemen, and high school march. You can watch the whole parade in less than an hour. There is nothing cool about it. But we’ve gone multiple times and enjoy it every time. We get to see and appreciate those who support our community.
Yesterday we attended a carnival at the local public school. The carnival was simple – none of the rides is about to make its way to Six Flags. We were there only a short while, but the boys had a lot of fun. They went on some rides, ate some popcorn, and drank some Coca Cola. We saw past and present classmates of SJ (who attends the school). Also, my wife volunteered to work at one of the booths. The tickets and snacks were pricey. But we didn’t complain. After all, the purpose of the carnival was to raise money for our local schools.

My wife hard at work at the booth and dealing with two clowns.

My wife hard at work at the booth and dealing with two clowns.

SJ & BR - two swingers

SJ & BR – two swingers

The boys and I enjoying the fair.

The boys and I enjoying the fair.

This big city guy is content. “It’s good enough for me.”

Growing Beyond Me

You ever wonder, wait, and hope for your kids to achieve a particular milestone? Then once they reach the milestone you realize you’re not so sure that you really want them there. Ultimately, you are left wondering what’s next.

Well earlier today, I did a guest post for my blogger friend Tatiana over at where I explored this topic of children moving on and how it brings both happiness and sadness. To read the article, click the link.


The Parent I Was Never Going To Be

Today, I am fortunate to have another guest post. My guest is Joyce, from Relax and Float Downstream. I’ve been following Joyce’s blog for months now. Her topics range greatly though there is typically a Southern flavor to her posts. I find a certain humility and honesty in her writing and appreciate these qualities very much. She calls ‘em like she sees ‘em.

In real life, Joyce is a Connecticut native who has lived many years in Florida.  She is a forty-something married mother of two, university advisor, and jazz geek.  In her free time she enjoys cooking complicated dishes, watching old movies, and exercising.

Here’s Joyce on the parent she is as compared to the parent she thought she was going to be.

A little over seven years ago, I was not a parent.  My childless status did little to disabuse me of some notions I had regarding parenthood.  In fact, some might argue, my childlessness encouraged grandiose absurdities pertaining to appropriate parenting.  It’s just that way, isn’t it?  You simply can’t know until you’re in it, and then when you are, no words you can say can adequately relate the experience to those on the other side.

I’ve been thinking lately of my most laughable pre-parenting assertions as much as the interceding seven parent years will allow me to access that part of my brain.  (Parent years, you know, are like dog years, but more accelerated.  I now have a mind like Swiss cheese.)

The pacifier, for instance.  I had witnessed too many children, many in my own family, going about their day with a plug in their mouths.  Don’t get them started on it, I reasoned, and they won’t ever need it.  Popping a pacifier in your baby’s mouth is lazy parenting, I thought.

I was nearly allowed to get away with this line of reasoning as Nolan, my first child, had no use whatsoever for any pacifier that was ever offered to him (by other people, of course.)  It was later, after I had Mia, that I came to understand why a parent might possibly feel compelled to offer their child a pacifier.  At two weeks of age, this easy-going angel began crying profusely every evening and no amount of walking, rocking, or nursing would bring her peace.  Those cries could only be soothed by, you guessed it, a pacifier.

Picture courtesy of GoogleCalm Baby

Picture courtesy of Google
           Calm Baby

I’m told the most effective method for weaning from the pacifier is to cut a small hole in the tip, rendering the thing ineffective for sucking.  I did that once, and handed it to my trusting daughter who promptly spat it out.  “Oh no,” she cried in despair, “my paci is broken!”    And turned to me to fix it.  Which I did, by giving her a new paci.  My new goal is to have her weaned by the time she turns three.

Three years of age happens to be the goal we had set for potty training our son.  And potty training our son is another one of those things I was certain that I had in the bag.  You just commit to teaching them, I thought, and they are trained.  It’s simple.  Ha!

My son resisted every attempt to teach him to use the toilet for two years.  When we left him pants- and diaper-free for easier access, he tinkled all over the house like a puppy.  It was our great fortune that he became fully potty trained when he was nearly four years old, mere months before our baby arrived.  I learned that training does not happen on the parent’s schedule, but the child’s.

Another notion that went out the window was my opposition to video games for young children. Instead, I attempt to convince myself and others that the quick reflexes of my son, the Super Mario champion, are a direct result of his devotion to gaming.  And healthy meals, too…let’s forget that I ever believed that the majority of meals my children would consume would be healthy, considering the times that their main course has consisted of Velveeta mac-n-cheese.  And letting a child sleep with us?  I am no longer opposed to this, as I wake up each morning with an additional guest in my bed.

Many things I thought I knew do not fit in my world now.  What’s up is down and what’s down is up.  I’ve never lived by the seat of my pants so much in all my life, and I have decided to like it.  For every video game or frozen pizza dinner, we have an outing at the library or a soccer game in the yard.  We may watch a lot of cartoons, but we also have read many story books.  The best I can do for now is to try to inject enough of the good to outweigh the not-so-good, and to believe that all will balance out in the end.  Which may not be good enough for some, but it’s good enough for us – and we are the only ones I’m trying to please.




To The Bench

The Old Days

Flashback to August of 2001. My fiancé and I are trying to decide which towels we should register for. There were those with stripes, those with patterns, those with multiple colors, and those plain ones that were extra thick.

What did I think my excited bride wanted to know. Well, I had told her twenty minutes prior that I preferred the plain ones that were extra thick. However, now I did not care.  I fell to my knees and shrieked, “If you love me, you’ll pick a towel, and we will leave.”

My enthusiasm for selecting household items for our registery had been nearly as high as my fiancé’s when we began at Macys six hours prior. However, now here in Bed Bath and Beyond, I was spent and simply wanted my day to end.

The Shopper

So, my wife makes the decisions regarding our household items. However, I do play a role.

Let me explain. Let’s say we need new sheets.

My wife will scour the internet. She is a sight to see when she does this. While she stares at the screen, she does not blink and her brow is furrowed. She is in her element, and it is best not to interrupt her. Believe me when I tell you: Don’t Interrupt! I speak from experience. Anyway, she painstainkingly reviews details of each potential purchase with much of her focus being on product reviews.  She will find a few options and then email them to me for my opinion.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Then I will offer my opinion. Sometimes she will select the item I favored and other times she won’t. I question her about this, but she always has a reason for her selection whether I agree with it or not.

Ultimately, I like my wife’s taste, so I normally go with the flow.

The Latest Household Item

“A what?” I had my wife repeat the latest household item that she felt we needed.

“A bench.” Is that sports related? I was very excited but not quite clear why we needed a bench. Was she taking the timeout thing a little too literally?

“No, no, no” she explained, “a bench goes in a mud room.”

“A mud room? What’s a mud room?”

“You know? When you first come into a house?”

“Oh. But we don’t have a mud room.”

“You don’t need a mud room to have a bench. The bench is to put stuff on.”

“Like a table?”

“No,” she laughed. She looked at me as if I were a Neanderthal. “I’ll just send you some and you can see them. Don’t worry about it.”


Well, we went through the process described above, and I rejected them. I still did not see the need. My wife was not deterred. She ordered a bench. A few days later when nothing came, I asked her about it. “Oh no,” she told me, “I canceled that.” The need for the bunch, seemingly canceled as well. Well, it came up again a few months later but still no purchase.  For nearly a year, my wife has been going through phases where she was and was not convinced we needed a bench.

Finally, she ordered a bench, put it together, and it now stands in our entranceway.

And I hate it! For many reasons. It looks like a television stand. It is another thing to put stuff on (I believe in closets and like things put in them and out of site). And I am afraid I will be in a rush one day and trip it over ala Dick Van Dyke going over the ottoman (click below).

I told my wife how I feel. She doesn’t care. “Get used to it,” were her instructions. I grumbled and the bench stays. Maybe, I should have dropped to my knees and shrieked, “If you love me, you’ll send it back.” Nah, at this point, she may pick the household item. Damn I’ve been sent to the bench!