Movin’ on up

Me and the boys

I’m back (again)! Yes, I know that my previous post, the one from last September, was a bit premature in announcing my triumphant return to the blogging world, but this time I’m really here to stay… but I’m not, well, I am… but I’m not.

That is, I’m back to blogging (hopefully to stay), but I’m just not blogging here, as in my wordpress.com site. I’ve made a switch over to my own self hosted site Random Dadisms

A lot has happened in the year I’ve been away, so I’m really looking forward to getting back to writing again. Random Dadisms will give me a chance to try new things, post about the kids, our be crazy adventures, projects around the house, toddler photography, my own artwork, and much, much more.

The site will be going through a lot of changes in the weeks ahead so check it out when you get a chance. I welcome suggestions on how to improve, be patient though, it’s a work in progress (especially now).

So check it out, tell me what you think… er, I mean, check it out, bare in mind I’m just getting started, laugh at my newest post The Baby is Not a Bullseye, and then come back later and marvel at all the changes and how much better the site looks… and tell me what you think.

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I’m Baaack!

After neglecting my blog for the last six months or so, I’ve decided that it’s about time that I get things going again.

It’s been a crazy year for us. We had the birth of our third boy, I underwent arm surgery, there were visits from in-laws, friend’s weddings, hospital stays, and more. Somewhere amidst the chaos I stopped keeping up with the Random Dadisms blog.

Our three little boys posing doing their best to look adorable.

Our three little boys posing doing their best to look adorable.

I have been posting a lot on Twitter, but there are times I need more than 140 characters. Returning to the blog will allow me to share humorous anecdotes, family milestones, product reviews, craft ideas, comics, and (of course) “toddler photography”.

"Surprising my baby brother" - Taken by Josh (age 3)

“Surprising my baby brother” – Taken by Josh (age 3)

I still have my hands full taking care of three rambunctious little boys during the day while also working full time evenings, so it may take a while for me to get back into the swing of things, but I’ll get there.

Stay tuned, there’ll be more to come, much more to come…

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How about baby?

I asked my sons Zack (age 4) and Josh (almost 3) what they thought about getting a new baby brother in just a couple months. These were their answers:

Zack: “I love baby Andrew. He lives in Mommy’s belly. When he comes out I’m not going to do anything with him.”

He's happy now, but we'll see how he feels when he has TWO little brothers to contend with.

He’s happy now, but we’ll see how he feels when he has TWO little brothers to contend with.

Josh: “Baby Andrew isn’t in my belly. I don’t want him in my shirts. I have my own shirts and baby Andrew is too little.”

I may have to live with him, but I ain't sharing my stuff with him.

I may have to live with him, but I’m not sharing my stuff with him.

Hopefully they’ll be a little more excited when we get closer to Andrew’s due date. I think we’ll have to work on this.

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The Great 2014 Massacre

Well, I was all set to write up some happy go lucky blog entry all about my New Year’s Resolutions and what I wanted to accomplish in the year ahead (lose weight, get in shape, do more with the kiddies, blah, blah, blah, that sort of thing) and then, as life tends to do, things went sideways.

As I was getting ready to go to work yesterday I received a text from one of my coworkers “Don’t know if you’ve heard, they laid 12 people off at work today.” Yep, less than a week into 2014 and everything’s gone to hell. I didn’t get many more details until after I got to work, and even then it was mostly folks just standing around speculating. Turns out it was not 12 laid off, it was 17 (although two in that count had already left the agency).

A little bit of background of what my day job is (or I suppose “evening job” since I work swing shift). I’m a Bookbinder 2 at the Washington State Department of Printing. Or rather, I used to be. I still work there, but two years ago they merged my agency in with a bunch of the other “support” agencies (state motor pool, campus mail, etc.) so now I’m a “Printing & Imaging Specialist 2” working at the “Department of Enterprise Services, Print & Imaging” (at least until they decide to change my title or company’s name again).

As a Bookbinder 2 I run the various paper folding machines, collating machine, mailing labelers, and binding stuff. Basically, whatever you do to paper after its printed is what the Bindery is responsible for. We’re the ones that send out all those obnoxious political mailers that fill your garbage can every year, but we’re also the ones that print the paper your car title is on and the health care fliers that warn you of the dangers of Chlamydia. Chances are, if you live in Washington State, you’ve come in contact with something that my agency has made.

Hard to believe this place is getting smaller.

Its hard to believe this place is getting smaller.

My agency is in flux right now (which explains our merger into the DES). With the general decline print media our work load has been gradually decreasing, and last year they changed the laws so that other agencies are no longer required to use the State Printer for their print needs and can take their work to whoever they feel is cheapest or provides the best customer service.

When I first started with PRT 10 years ago there were around 138 people working there (I’m totally guessing at that number), and it’s gradually decreased since then. As people left, their positions have remained unfilled. We’ve dwindled down to 60 or so and now, thanks to yesterday’s layoffs, even less.

The agency eliminated all of their small press operators, along with cuts in other areas. In truth, because I work on swing shift, I didn’t get a chance to know many of my coworkers who got laid off. I do however know about my good friend Jim who was on the list. He was hired on at the PRT almost ten years ago, just a few days before I was.  Jim is the swing shift envelope press operator. When I first started I was totally new to printing (my previous job was as a bread baker), but Jim came in with over 20 years’ experience operating printing presses.

Before & After "Osama Jim-laden"

Before & After “Osama Jim-laden”

He is always smiling, has time to say “Hi”, and is a willing listener when anyone needs a sympathetic ear to talk to. If you had any doubt that he was a good sport, then you should know, at one point Jim lost a bet and went a full year without cutting his hair or beard.

I’m really going to miss visiting with him and being able to tease him to “Hurry up Jim!” (A stupid joke because I don’t work in his area and have no idea what jobs he is working on). It really sucks what has happened to Jim and the other people on that list.

So you may ask yourself, “Um… this blog is titled “Random Dadisms” and you usually try to focus on your kids. What’s all this stuff about your job?” Well, as a parent, my job plays a huge part in taking care of my family. It pays the bills and helps to keep us fed. Even if I’m not the one being laid off, my employer cutting back still scares the crap out of me.

It’s a wake up call to look ahead to the future and think about what may lay in store, good and bad. If they got rid of the small presses today, what is going to happen tomorrow?

I never intended to be a career Bookbinder. I have an art degree (painting& drawing) and have always dreamed about putting those skills to work as an artist, perhaps doing illustration in children’s books. I need to seriously consider what I would do if I was the one laid off tomorrow. Could I go back to school? Teach art? Get a job at a gallery or museum?

My art skills are pretty rusty. When I have done work the last few years, my boys have been the inspiration.

"Zack & Josh" painted August 2011.

“Zack & Josh” painted August 2011.

At one point I was developing a coloring book based on dragons in the shape of every letter of the alphabet. I’m thinking it’s time for me to revisit that and see if I can get it published. We might make a little money from it, or it could open the door to future opportunities.

Dragon Letter "P"

Dragon Letter “P”

At the very least, this lay off has taught me that I’d better brush up my resume and start giving more thought to what the future has in store for me career wise. In the meantime at least I know that I can still use my art skills to give the kids a couple of kick ass bedrooms.

The Boy's rooms. Josh (stars) & Zack (Jungle)

The Boy’s rooms. Josh (stars) & Zack (Jungle)

Parents’ Night Out.

My wife and I got married the day after Christmas five years ago, so this year our anniversary gift to one another was a “Date Day”. It would be just the two of us together for an entire day.

After the typical morning of boys running around like crazed munchkins, either demanding more and more breakfast food or trying to feed waffles to a stuffed Mickey Mouse toy, the nanny arrived and we managed to escape… er, leave.

It’s a peculiar feeling to spend so much time watching over two rambunctious little boys and then suddenly leave home without them. On our way to the theater I instinctively kept looking in mirror to check on the boys only to see their empty car seats and had a nagging feeling like we were leaving something behind.

Oddly enough, on our first venture out in forever without the kids what do we go see? A kids’ movie! Kat and I are overgrown children anyway, so even though the boys weren’t there, Disney’s latest cartoon “Frozen” was at the top of our “must see” list (excellent movie, by the way).

Even on a “Date Day”, as much as we may try, it’s impossible for us to forget about the kids. After the movies I couldn’t help buying a couple of onesies for Andrew at the mall. It may be five months before he is born but “Hide your daughters” and “The Ladies ❤  me” seemed appropriate. At lunch, after we sat down, it was second nature for us to start strategically sliding the sugar packets and table displays down to one side of the table out of a little one’s reach, and we had to remind ourselves that we didn’t need to keep guarding our food and drinks because no little people would be trying to stick their fingers in them.

So in the end, Kat and I had a wonderful time. The kids behaved for the nanny and we returned to a not-burned-down home. It was nice that the two of us could be a couple again for a little while, and remind ourselves of why we fell in love in the first place. We really need to do this more often.

After our little break from parenthood for a day, I’m really looking forward to playing with the little guys when they get up in the morning. I can never guess what sort of wacky things they’ll come up with next and every day is an adventure.

I best get to wrapping…

So it’s the night before the night before Christmas and our poor little tree has nary a present under it save for the one thing that our Nanny bought for the boys. Are we bad parents? No, disorganized maybe, but not “bad”.

There are still piles of stuff to be wrapped hiding in the garage that I just haven’t had a chance to get to yet. Granted, in my opinion we don’t have nearly enough big things for the kids to unwrap but, to put it mildly, this is one of those “lean” years. Thankfully Zack and Josh are at the ages where there isn’t really any one thing that they are dying to have. The two of them are just excited by the concept of “Christmas” and not overly concerned with materialism and getting as much loot as they can.

I don’t expect this to be the case next year, so I’d better enjoy it while it lasts.

So tonight as soon as I am done writing this, I’ll be heading straight out to the garage to do some strategic wrapping. What do I mean about “strategic” wrapping? That is when I just wrap the boxes and then tape a note on it telling me whats inside, and who it’s for. This way I can move onto the next one as fast as possible and leave the ribbons and bows until tomorrow when the boys will have a blast “helping” me finish the packages (oblivious to the fact that it’s their presents that they are wrapping).

I was going to ramble on and on about Christmas traditions and what I used to do with my father and the sort of things I hope I can do with my own boys, but I’ll spare any potential readers that for now (but I’m not making any promises). In the meantime I’d best get my little heinie out to that garage and gets to wrapping.

Some days are good, other days are wet and smelly.

Well, this whole “blogging thing” is off to a wonderful if somewhat inauspicious beginning. I spent most of last night playing around with blog formatting rather than wrapping Christmas presents so now I have a lot of catching up to do and I’m still not too sure about the formatting of this blog.

I got to bed late and then this morning was woken up by my wife letting me know that our new fridge (less than 3 months old) isn’t cold anymore. I spent this morning cleaning it out trying the various “fixes” recommended by the experts (“Have you tried unplugging it and plugging it back in?”). Nothing worked, and so began the emptying of the fridge.

Our kitchen counters are now pilled high with somewhat questionable produce while the garbage can is mostly filled with empty jugs and cartons of foul smelling substances that had been food in a previous life. I’m typing this now as a chance to take a break before I begin hauling in the ice chests and finding a temporary home for the things we are pretty sure won’t kill us if we eat them.

My wife assures me that the fridge is still under warranty and the “Geek Squad” is coming out tomorrow morning to fix it. In the meantime, I have to figure out what is still safe to eat and try and get the toddler to stop going through the mess trying to devour all he comes in contact with. Since I have been sitting here he has handed me a tangerine, a tomato, an apple, and a Tupperware full of something I think use to be barbecue chicken.

I’d better call this entry quits for now before he discovers something worse, and I’m pretty sure I hear him in the kitchen now getting into theFridge Meltdown