Small Business Saturday

As great as Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc. are for easy accessibility of gift ideas and such, there’s something awesome about supporting small businesses.

Local mom-and-pop stores on your main street that have taken a beating from the big-box store that opened down the road support families, and need our patronage too.

Its one of the reasons that I love when my wife finds things on Etsy, and why I do the bulk of my gift shopping for her there. Handmade items that someone put time and effort into, that wasn’t punched out of a massive press in some factory in China or Taiwan.

There’s a lady we buy candles from there, who puts Yankee to shame.
Kittredge Candles  is one of my favorite things in the world. Small businesses and shops like this are treasures that get buried under the shifting sands of corporate dunes.

Charmsoffaith is another one. I’ve ordered items from this shop a few times, each one becoming treasured, and every one of extremely great quality.

Of course, I also want to make mention of my wife’s shop, QuarterLifeLuck – handmade stuffed pillows and toys, each one made upon order right in our living room. My wife puts in an amazing amount of work on her orders, all on top of making sure she’s the greatest mother in the world.

These three shops are a mere taste of what’s out there that are being run by you-and-me type people. They juggle families, full time jobs, and the honor of running a business that puts money into the pockets of local employees, or their own families instead of some tycoon whose relationship with reality is so far removed, it hardly exists at all.

Small Business Saturday is a magnificent thing. Just a few days after everyone gets done bludgeoning each other to near-death over electronics in a major retailer, we can stroll down side streets in our own towns, or browse places like Etsy, and find anything we’re looking for, and more.

Support your small businesses today, and every day you have the opportunity to do so. You’re only helping your neighbors.

If YOU have a small business you’d like to support, don’t hesitate to link it in the comments below. My web following is modest at best- but all press is good press right? Happy hunting, happy shopping, and Happy Holidays.


-Back to my usual shennagins tomorrow, I promise. So very much to talk about in AD’s world.




Quick Check-In

Good morning readers, I hope the Thanksgiving holiday found you all well, and that if you’re actively heading into the kill-zone that is black-friday shopping, you stay safe.

We didn’t end up skipping Thanksgiving as I thought we might have been forced to. I did work for the day, but as soon as I got home we went to my family’s house for a late dinner.

The job itself is going well so far. Granted, I’m six days into it and still working through a lot of the administrative stuff at the moment, not really doing a lot of actual police work yet. Still, it’s keeping me busy enough that when I get home in the afternoon, I’m beat.

I’ll be switching to night shifts soon, so I’m trying not to get too used to the early morning wakeups, which come at 5am. 4:30 if I want a shower.

Our brief financial worries have been put to rest too. With the lag pay schedule of the new job, it is going to be a month after my start date before I saw a paycheck. What I didn’t realize, was that the old IT job was ALSO on a lag pay schedule, so the gap has been filled, and the financial transition between jobs is going to be fairly seamless…that’s helped me fall asleep easier.

Adjusting to the new job will take a bit of time, especially as I’m not fully sure what the schedule will be, so I’m trying to delicately balance work, home, and now the added holiday commitments until things iron out and I can get into a firm groove. Still, I don’t mind a rocky transition, especially since this job has been called “One of the best law enforcement jobs in the state.” Since I was lucky enough to land here, I’m going to hold on tight as hell while the whole thing undulates and twists and we get used to each other.

We had parent teacher conferences for The Narrator the other day, and found out that he’s reading at an impressive level for his age. They use some lettering scale that goes from A-Z, and determines that by the end of first grade, kids need to be reading at level ‘J.’ Right now, they’re supposed to be around E or F. The Narrator is already reading at ‘I.’ He’s doing exceptionally well, and we’re incredibly proud of him and what he’s doing in school.

Mini-Me is having some backsliding issues with his potty training. Nothing serious, but he’s getting into the habit of holding things in if he’s doing something interesting, and not telling us he has to use the bathroom until it is a little too late. We’re working on that. As quickly as both boys potty trained, this little bump in the road isn’t too bad.

By and large dear readers….I’m exhausted. Sliding into a new job at the exact same time that the stresses of the Holiday season start to blossom, and waking up at 4:30 or 5am…I’m exhausted.

But I am incredibly happy. This job is going to pave the way for us to grow as a family. My wife is already getting the idea that we’re going to buy a house soon, and she’s learning all the little nuances of first-time home buying.

So if this is going to work out, and everything is going to look up for us in the long run because I’m tired now? I’ll take it. Happily.




Mission Accomplished: Goal Attained.

My tapering post count of late can be accounted for by the fact that- after three months of nail-biting, pessimism, and waiting, I’ve finally started the new job!
My mornings are starting with 5am wakeups so I can make pre-shift briefing by 6:45. By the time everything is all said and done, I’m home by 4pm. This isn’t my permanent schedule, I switch to overnights in a couple of weeks, but for now I need to get the layout of the campus, and learn what I can of the community.

Things are moving very slowly, I’m not officially paired with a training officer, so I kind of ghost between administrative tasks like range qualification and some more HR paperwork, and tooling around for a short period of time with the on-duty officer. The bulk of my day yesterday was reading the policy and procedures manual they had, and getting fitted for some hand-me-down uniforms while I wait for a proper fitting.

The day-shift officers are old-timers, and they’re really not very interested in showing ‘the rookie’ (me) the ropes. I totally understand that. They have their ways and their routines, and I need to learn mine. My tagging along with them like a puppy is a t the very least- a minor annoyance.
I was told point-blank by one of them “It isn’t anything personal, but this is how it is.” I know he’s right, it isn’t personal, but at the same time, I’m chomping at the bit to get GOING.

In spite of the trepidation of taking a FNG (F*ing New Guy) into the fold, everyone’s been incredibly nice. The Chief knows his business while being incredibly personable. First impression is that he’s going to be an excellent leader as well as effective boss.

All of the office personnel are helpful and friendly, and everyone’s got advice for me, and as an added bonus, the dining hall is spectacular. There’s a sushi section where a young man makes everything in front of you, and their specials go above and beyond the cheeseburgers I used to cook in my dining hall.

I’m in the process of adjusting to not only the work and location, but the schedule too, which I shouldn’t because it’s going to change again very soon. As a result of all this, my little blog has taken a bit of a back seat for a while. I know I’ll be back in action on a regular basis again, but my focus must remain on learning everything I can about this job before I’m kicked loose and start working on my own.

Psychologically, I’m in a good place. I am 32 years old. I’ve been out of college for over a decade. For the very first time since then, I’m not working a job that I’ll be looking to leave any time soon, with eyes always on the ‘greener pasture.’

If I don’t screw this up, it doesn’t get any greener than where I’ve landed.

I’ll be around, though for a while things might be a bit slow from AD as I get acclimated and learn how to be a cop again after four months as a civilian. I need you all to keep on your games though so I have something to read while I’m sitting in the ready room waiting for someone to decide what to do with their new jack.





Short-Timer’s Syndrome

I’ve got it bad.

Tomorrow afternoon I walk out of the IT job and hopefully sever my financial dependency on computers and computer problems forever. I wake up at 5am on Thursday morning and report to what turned into my dream job. I can’t tell you how lucky I am to have landed said job.

Couple the fact that I have a total of 12 hours left of work to go at this job, with the dastardly head cold I’ve picked up from somewhere….and I’m lucky I mustered the energy to even show up today.

But I did. For two reasons.

The first is that I’m working with a state auditor who over the last week or so has been wreaking havoc in the little school I work in. We’re tracking down computers and equipment from various lists of random equipment he asks for, I’ve had to walk him through our various security and monitoring protocols, you name it, he’s tested us on it. He’s a nice guy with a sense of humor- which is an oddity in the world of state auditors- but because of the TIMING which he’s coming at me with all of this, I’ve found myself wishing things upon him like sudden and expensive vehicular troubles. The poor guy doesn’t deserve my disdain, he’s only doing his job. Problem is that he’s doing HIS job at exactly the time where I don’t particularly want to do MINE….and I know that sounds terrible. I won’t couch it or try to justify it. It’s awful. I know.

The second reason I showed up today, and will tomorrow- is because nobody who has ever worked in IT has complained about it as much as I have…and not meant it. You see, the school where I work is FULL of people that I absolutely adore. They’re friendly, they’re kind, they bake things for the IT people….

I’ve become friendly with a number of them to the point where we don’t have so much of a ‘client-computer guy’ relationship, but something a little more personal. Truth is, I’ll miss some of them, and I’ve always liked working at this location. I’ve had clients in the past that I couldn’t wait to leave.

The absolute truth of the matter is that while I don’t particularly care for IT work, the people I do it for and with are special to me. My boss taught me everything I know. He gave me a job when I needed it, and hired me back after a layoff and restructuring. He kept me on part time when I tried to leave IT the first time but couldn’t make ends meet with my first law enforcement job, and has provided me with excellent references, even knowing I’m planning on leaving him.

So, I’m here. I’m also trying to get some work done. It’s not easy, battling short-timer’s syndrome as well as this damn cold that chose the worst possible time to crop up. I think I’m starting to lose my voice, which isn’t great. Who shows up to their first day on a police job with no voice?







When Parenting is the Most Difficult.

It’s a little after 6am as I sit down to write this. I don’t know when I’ll finish. I know what I want to say, but ‘how’ is the hangup.

The house is quiet this morning so far. Nobody’s awake but me. The only sound I can hear is the TV, which I put on for white noise.

My facebook newsfeed is crammed with news on the heart-wrenching attacks in Paris. There are also a few links from local friends regarding a recent murder that took place, claiming the innocent life of one of my old high school friends. More links- two parents arrested within the county on drug charges and child endangerment. Selling heroine out of a motel room in the presence of their four kids.

As I read these thing this morning, in the silence of my home, on the eve of my getting back into a job that puts me in close contact with things like this, I think of the two little boys asleep in their beds, surrounded by stuffed animals and adorable embroidered blankets.

At some point, the boys will become old enough and alert enough to want to know about these things. Malicious attacks. Senseless violence. They’ll want to know why. And as soon as this sort of thing is explained to them, as soon as they realize that this is what happens outside of the small, warm world they live in- something dies. Call it innocence if you want, I don’t know if it is or isn’t.

I don’t know when it happened to me. I don’t know when in my life I became aware that there are people out there who would do harm to others based on their faith, or take another human’s life over the few dollars in a cash register that it would take to fuel a drug habit. But I know that I’ll be partially if not completely responsible for the change that will happen in my two boys when it comes time for them to start asking questions.

We took them to the Empire State Museum in Albany a few months ago. There’s a massive display there on the 9/11 attacks. A shattered fire truck sits near a wall, melted and rusted relics in climate controlled cases, a video loop playing constantly. I’ve been there at least a half a dozen times and the place still causes my throat to stick. While not directly involved, I was 18 at the time, and had constant access to the TV and internet in college. The visions, and memories are starkly clear to me this day. My wife even more so- Her father was on his way into one of the towers before he was called back to lock down the range where he worked. Who knows how close he came to being another number.

Mini-Me has no idea what he’s looking at when we go there. The Narrator though, is a very clever kid, and starts to ask questions. We try to explain to him as best we can without overloading his circuits, but even as clever as he is, a lot of it escapes him, and I don’t mind that. Let him keep his views of the world for a while. It doesn’t hurt him.

The Paris attacks may not be something that I’ll have to explain to him today. As tragic and disturbing as it is to those of us who are connected to the whole world, and who realize the implications of such a coordinated and brutal attack, it isn’t going to hit home for a six year old. That being said, this incident is a reminder that  someday, somewhere, I’ll have to tell him.

I’ll have to tell them that there are people in the world who would seek to harm him because of where he lives. I’ll have to explain to him and his brother that there are people in their own country who would do violence towards others because of who they love. I’ll have to explain to them that safety isn’t as thick a blanket as they thought. That even in their own community, tiny, quiet, and peaceful as it seems, the drugs exist that cause people to murder strangers and neglect their friends.

This- I think is where parenting will become the hardest that it can be. When I need to take the necessary step and introduce my kids to the world around them. I realize that as difficult as this will be though, we are fortunate that they won’t be forced into exposure like the children in Paris or Sandy Hook, or Columbine or the countless others before they’re ready.

A few sleepless nights over a squalling infant doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. The stench of diaper pail isn’t really a problem after all is it?

No. Parenting is hard. It really is. But not in the way the uninitiated think. It has nothing to do with the physical exhaustion that comes from rearing a small child or two or three. You get used to that.
It has to do with the fact that we’re faced with the inevitable. They grow up, and we’re not only responsible for explaining to them that the world can suck- but for equipping them to deal with it, when at times I don’t even know if I’M ready to deal with it. I’ve got two human lives that I’m responsible for protecting right now, and responsible for preparing later on.

My heart aches for the victims and their families of the Paris attacks. I can’t stop looking at news coverage and updates, and every new bit of data makes my chest tighten a little more.
But there’s another lump in my throat this morning too- stemming from the fact that I have two little boys who will all too soon be thrust into the world where people seek to destroy each other for the most ridiculous of reasons, and that it can happen damn near anywhere.

As I finished writing this, Mini-Me woke up. The white noise of the TV has been replaced with cartoons. He’s already in the process of joyfully dumping all of the toys in the sheves onto the floor as he searches for one in particular. Someday I’ll have to expose him to the chaos of the world we live in and then teach him how to deal with it.

For right now though, I think I’ll go help him find what he’s looking for.

My Take on the Starbucks Thing.

People are extremely angry about Starbucks ditching Christmas themed cups this year. Its a war on Christmas.  Its a war on Jesus.
As insulting as Starbucks has been towards coffee drinkers, I’m not surprised. Seriously. HOW much for coffee thay barely tops gas-station grade?

Honestly though, the idea that you can be ticked off about something you’re going to throw straight in the garbage is appalling. 

“My garbage needs to be festive and appreciate Christmas damn it.”

You can’t be mad at the symbolism of removing such designs from a coffee cup, yet ignore the symbolism of actively tossing Christmas themed cups in with poopy diapers and rotten potato peels.

This entire thing is incredibly silly, and Where I really try to avoid opinion pieces here, I have no problem saying this because….. seriously. 

Star Wars and the Six Year Old

While not approaching ‘rabid’ status, I’ve always been a Star Wars fan. I’ve been debating introducing The Narrator to it for some time now, but wasn’t sure how he’d handle it. He’s what’s called a “highly-sensitive” child, meaning his emotional reactions to things are usually very pronounced. Not exaggerated, they’re all genuine, they’re just very intense.

When he was a bit younger, he’d tear up over TV commercials that had slow or sad music in them. Cartoons he’d seen two or three times still did a number on him when they were sad or mildly scary. He’s gotten a lot better as he’s gotten older, but his emotional responses are still pretty intense sometimes.

As a result, I’d been dubious about showing him Episode IV. I just didn’t want to overload him any, as much as I wanted to introduce him to the world of Star Wars.

Yesterday he found my DVDs.

“Daddy? What’s this?”
I explained it to him.
“Can we watch it?”

I decided to make a run at it. The worse case scenario was he’d get scared and I’d turn it off. I put it on and started telling him what was happening. His questions came fast and hard. After a while, his six-year-old impatience got the better of him and he went to play with some of his toys. At least, that was his intention. As the movie progressed, I caught him a number of times with his eyes glued to the screen, and still the questions came.

I did what I could to make him understand that the aliens he saw in the Canteena at Mos Eisley were no different than the muppets on Sesame Street, and that no, Chewbacca was not bigfoot. I did have a tough time explaining why Obi Wan ‘gave up’ while he was fighting Vader.
I know he was paying rapt attention too, the sharp little bastard even picked up the second ‘Greedo’ walking around the space port after Solo blasted the bounty hunter. “I thought he was dead!?”

I got up to make dinner, keeping a close eye on him during some of the more intense scenes. The climax of the movie came just as I was finishing dinner up. The trench scene. I looked in the living room, and there he was. Alternating between sitting literally on the edge of his seat, or standing with his arms in the air, cheering on the X-wings as they made their assault.

Since I wasn’t in the room with him, he was shouting at me, narrating everything that was happening.


Yeah….I think I made the right call this time.

I don’t think I was this proud when he caught his first fish.

He Has to be Doing This on Purpose…

Three-year old Mini-Me is messing with me. I know it. Beneath the adorable cherubic face, the big hazel eyes, chubby little cheeks, and hair that is just a little too long, lurks a monster, a diabolical genius bent on my psychological obliteration.

This afternoon I took a gallon jug of homemade apple cider that my father and I had pressed out of the fridge and started to pour myself a glass. He comes toddling in.

“Yes baby?”
“I want some apple cider please.”
“But I just gave you apple juice. Go finish that first.”
“But I want cider!” – He flashes me the lip and doe eyes.
“Okay, fine. Wait. I have an idea. Give me your cup.”

-I pour his juice into a glass and stick it in the refrigerator for later. Then I put cider in his cup and send him on his way.

SECONDS later, he comes toddling back to me, holding his cup.

“Say ‘I have an idea’ and put apple juice in my cup.”
“What? I just gave you juice, your cup is still full.”
“This doesn’t taste like apple juice.”
“No, its cider. You asked for apple cider.”
“But I want apple juice! Say ‘I have an idea’ and put the cider in the glass and I can have juice.”

Wordlessly, confusedly, and utterly beaten….I switched the cider for juice and the little imp went off happily.

There’s no way this kid doesn’t know what he’s doing.

A Lesson in Parenting- Be Specific, and Admit When You Screw Up.

I had to apologize to The Narrator the other day. I got mad at him and reprimanded him for what turned out to be something of my own doing.

I had the boys in the car and they asked for the radio. I turned on a local rock station. One of The Narrator’s favorite games when we turn the radio on is to start screaming that its too loud. He’ll plug his ears and just start screaming. It doesn’t legitimately bother him, he’s just fooling around, but yells and screams are some of the most common sounds that kids make, and I don’t find it nearly as funny as he does, and it can get on my nerves when done without provocation, or goes on for a protracted period of time.

On this particular day, as soon as he started screaming, I turned to him and said “Stop your screaming, or I’ll turn it up louder so I don’t have to listen to you!” -What I meant and SHOULD have said was…”Please stop screaming.”

A mere moment later, he screamed again and I got angry and yelled at him. When I asked him why he’d screamed again immediately after I asked him to stop, he looked at me with a sad little face and said “I wanted it louder.”

BOOM- I was a jerk. Just like that. He’d interpreted what I had SAID as “If you want it louder, yell again.” Because, literally, that’s what I told him. I didn’t ask him not to scream again. I mean, I did, but I didn’t say it in a manner that made sense to a six year old.

So there I was, yelling at him for doing exactly what I had told him to do.

By this time we were out of the car, and I had to pull him close and apologize to him for yelling at him. I couldn’t be mad at him for doing what I told him to do, the only person I had any right to be annoyed with was myself for what is a significant parenting failure that is rudimentary, and I should be past by now.

Like I said when I started this blog, being a parent isn’t easy. The hardest part sometimes is realizing when WE’VE made the error, not the child. Kids are kids, and their ability to recognize implied meaning simply isn’t there. The onus on this little boo-boo was all me. For having a short temper in the first place, and failing to remember that he’s not an adult, and therefore lacks the capacity to interpret the difference between what I said, and what I’d meant.

Thankfully, kids have a short memory too- so while I still feel terribly about this little incident, He’s likely already forgotten it’s happened.

Brotherly Love

The dynamic between brothers is an amazing thing to witness. I never really considered my relationship with my brother until I started raising two boys. Brothers can have fights that make MMA matches look like love scenes in b-movies.

I recall kicks to the face, chairs thrown, punches, and full-on tackles between my brother and I when we were growing up. And yet he and I are still on very close terms. We don’t see each other or speak that often, but when we do, we still share confidential information, and confide concerns in each other. I was in college when my brother started army basic training. We traded very frequent letters. I remember one specifically telling me that while they were on the rifle range, he discarded some of the training methods that he was being given, and ‘went back to how dad taught us how to shoot’ – and qualified with high scores every time.

Very recently he told me that his unit is getting ready to deploy overseas. As of right now, I don’t think he’s even told his wife yet. This is the sort of relationship I have with him. I turned to him for advice on surviving the military-like training that I went through in the police academy, and he helped me get through it, even if he’ll never know that. I’ll go weeks or months without seeing him, but it doesn’t seem to matter, even if- while were kids there were times which we may have been legitimately trying to kill each other.

None of this really registered with me until my two sons started getting old enough to interact with each other on human terms. The two of them fight constantly over some of the dumbest things on earth. This morning, it was who got to play with the plastic toy rhinoceros. For ten minutes they argued and screamed at each other. Then, all of a sudden, it was time for The Narrator to go off to school, and Mini-me lost if, bawling his eyes out because  he was going to miss his brother while he was at school. Moments before, they were oil and water, now that was all set aside and they clung to each other in one of the most heart-wrenching hugs I’ve ever seen as the bus pulled up.

I do realize that not all brotherly relationships stay this way, and that I am incredibly lucky. My own father doesn’t have much of a relationship with his only brother, and I know of several other people who don’t either. Familial wounds have a tendency to cut deeper. Offenses we might excuse acquaintances or even friends for leave lasting scars when committed by family members for any number of reasons. I am thankful that none of these rifts have happened between my brother and I, and I am ever hopeful that my two boys will end up like their father, and can appreciate what they’ve got in each other. Fight like hell with each other now, fight like hell for each other later.

My wife does not understand this. I got in trouble this morning because as the two of them were bickering, I told the little one “Just go get him!” As Mini-Me attacked The Narrator with a war cry, the tone changed from one of anger to the two of them laughing. I got yelled at for ‘encouraging them to fight.’
I couldn’t explain to her what I was doing. There wasn’t any way to do it. I knew what the outcome would be when I unleashed the little one. But I wasn’t going to argue with her. She knows kids, I know brothers, and in spite of the fact that there should be a logical link between the two, if you’re a brother as I am, you know damn well that sometimes, there simply isn’t.