Ducks, Guest Post

Guest Post- “Raising a Sports Kid” by Peter Neal

September 3, 2016

“We still love the Ducks, even if they lose every time.” – Santi Robert Neal 10.11.15

My goal is a reasonable one; to raise a kid who likes sports. More specifically, I want a kid who can coherently and comprehensively explain position-less basketball. Maybe throw in a casual mention of the Golden State Warriors’ points per possession with Draymond Green as the primary ball handler. And yes, FREE DARKO did all the ground work for this argument. But this kid has screen time limits that don’t allow him to read* basketball blogs that were shuttered in 2011. (*Also, he can’t read.)

At this point Santi is doing pretty well. He can name a player on all 30 NBA teams, he recognizes the logo of all the teams in MLB, Barclays Premier League (including Hull City), the NFL and some of the MLS. He checks the Phillies score every day. There is something Sisyphean about daily checkups on the 10th best team in the National League. And, most importantly, he recognizes that Marcus Mariota is the sporting Alpha and Omega.

The One and Only, Marcus Mariota. Photo property of Getty Images, by Jonathan Ferrey.

The One and Only, Marcus Mariota. Photo property of Getty Images, by Jonathan Ferrey.

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Marriage

1096 Small Changes

June 29, 2016

On July 3, 2008, my best friend (and ultimately savior of my soul) Kim and I embarked on a mission to attempt what must be the dumbest thing either of us has ever thought of:

We went to Europe and tried to drink 1000 beers.

I mean, what do you even say to that? Two guys wanted to drink 1000 beers in just less than a month, in countries they knew nothing about (except for Scotland because Kim is kinda English so he sorta knew some stuff there), on teachers’ budgets.

WAT.

We did a ton of dumb shit. Like, for example, trying to drink 1000 beers. That was extremely stupid.

And we got hurt in the process. In fact, we went to the ER 3 times between the two of us.

Side note: We went to the ER 3 times in 30 days and paid a total of $0, AND THEY KNEW WE WEREN’T CITIZENS OF SCOTLAND. In December 2014 I paid nearly $5,000  for a healthy baby to be delivered here in Washington after I had already paid about $12,000  in insurance premiums that year. Go figure.

But we did some fun stuff too. We didn’t just get hurt trying to hop fences to sneak into private techno parties.

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Marriage

How Do You Start Your Day?

March 25, 2016

I follow an interesting account on Instagram, called @RusticoJournal. Every day they share a writing prompt to help us get the creative juices flowing, and I’m sure people use these to their advantage.

Unfortunately, I’m not usually that person. I read them and think about how many ideas I have, and then move on with my day. Usually because I’m busy, sometimes because I’m distracted, and always because I’m tired.

But this one really caught my attention, and I want to answer the prompt. I’m going with a creative writing format here, and the only rules that I created for myself are that it must be written in third-person and must be under 500 words.

(SIDE NOTE: THIS PIECE IS 499 WORDS. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.)

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Giveaway, Photography, Product Review

Star Wars Game Night

November 15, 2015

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Hasbro. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

See the link at the bottom of this post to enter to win these toys. But please read my review first, because I worked very hard on it and I just know you will love it.

One of my earliest “cool kid” memories involves the “talent show” at Teacher Kimmy’s house in SE Portland. I was 5-ish, and kindergarten was treating me kindly. We got snacks on a schedule, the playroom walls were lined with the fake tree wallpaper that almost makes you think you aren’t in a stale basement, and there was a big train set that we were allowed to look at but not touch.

What a time to be alive.

Teacher Kimmy put on a “talent show” that year (hard emphasis on the quotes, because the talent was lacking in 1985), and I did what any other classically-trained vocalist would do:

I “sang” the Star Wars theme song.

This one.

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Food

It’s Messy But It’s Worth It

October 18, 2015

Tonight I said something that I want myself and Meghaan to remember.

I said it when Lela was shoving handfuls of beets and kidney beans in or near her mouth. The level of accuracy wasn’t high, but her enthusiasm and sense of wonder certainly were.

The beans and beets went everywhere, and she could not have been happier. She smiled and giggled and kept shoveling the food towards her face. She really didn’t care how much she ate, so long as she could keep grabbing more and flinging the pile of foodstuffs at herself.

And I said aloud, sort of for myself but also really for Meghaan to hear:

“It’s messy but it’s worth it.”

I need to remember that as we move forward.

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Fatherhood

It All Gets Lost

August 21, 2015

Today is officially August 20, 2015. That means Lela is officially 8 months old. It also means summer is officially on life support.

It’s still breathing. It still has a pulse. But it will be gone sooner than later.

What happened? What happened to all that time? I have not been to my actual job since the middle of June. Granted, Meghaan and I have worked ridiculously unpredictable hours since then, but it was up to us to determine when we worked and what we did.

We did a lot, and we did nothing. But more than that, we just got lost.

Lost in the moments.

The happiness.

The sadness.

The stress.

The joy.

_MG_2187

It seems like, when you look back on everything, it all gets lost.

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Guest Post

Guest Post- “They Didn’t Stay Kids” by Peter Neal

July 16, 2015

“They didn’t fight, they stayed kids”

-Tommy Shelby

 

My beautiful wife and I watch a lot of TV together. We just finished Honorable Woman; before that, Catastrophe; before that, Luther and Sherlock Holmes (with my man Benny Cumberbatch!). Breaking Bad was in there. Basically all the fancy TV made for fancy people like us.

Peaky Blinders

At some point it was Peaky Blinders. Which is a wonderful show. It contains the line “They didn’t fight, they stayed kids.” Out of context, it’s a beautifully written moment about how the easiest way to fight growing up is to never throw a punch. It’s not what you do. It’s how you see what you do. In context, Tommy Shelby is talking about young British men coming home from World War 1. Those who went to war came home at 21, 22, 23, but they weren’t kids anymore.

 

For me it felt easy to stay young. I drank beer and vodka and yelled unrequested opinions about Sufjan Stevens Illinoise and the 2004 election. It was a state of being. Perhaps a state of being that I understood and maybe was good at. I was a kid from Eastern Oregon who moved to a big East Coast city and reveled in the contrast of those things.

Illinoise

I am not a kid any more. I am 36, married, with a mortgage, a retreating hairline and a soft dad bod. I don’t understand my kid. I get frustrated and overwhelmed. I also have 2 very consuming full-time jobs. One as an account manager at a middling paper company in Northeast Pennsylvania. And the other as a father. Waking up with a hangover is no longer a badge of honor. It’s a goddamn curse that might last 36 hours. No matter how many delicious beers I drink, my DS is going to wake up and wonder if he can have waffles with whipped cream.

 

People tell you about how you will love your child like you have never loved anything. Which is true. People tell you won’t sleep. Which is true. Although our son now sleeps 11 hours most nights and wakes up at 8am. (I still wake up feeling tired.)

 

What people seem to forget to mention is how hard and consuming it can be. On Monday our little 3 year-old ball of energy ran full speed into the refrigerator. And my first thought was, “We are going to miss the bus.”

 

Meanwhile, while picking up take out last weekend, I listened to 2 bartenders drink whiskey and debate True Detective. It looked like a fantasy camp I wanted to sign up for. Who has the time to sit around Bunk Bar, drink Old Fashioneds and debate the new Yellow King?

 

In my darkest moments, I think I am awful at both of my jobs. It is in those moments of darkness that I feel my least prepared. Like if I would have read more daddy books or discovered the Good Dad podcast earlier then I would be better at this. That simply isn’t the reality. Kids are hard.

 

Kids are also wonderful and amazing. My son recently described his affection for his Uncle by saying “I love Uncle Kimmy from here to here.” He was stretching his tiny arms as wide as they could go. It was the biggest gesture he could make and it described his love for a man who is not technically his Uncle.

Santi

In those moments my nostalgia for my own youth washes away.

 

Peter is a great guy, and I feel lucky to know him and his lovely family. For more random musings from this man who is married, with a mortgage, a retreating hairline and a soft dad bod, read his blog Bird Under Rocks.

Product Review

Klondike Bar Semi-Blind Taste Test

July 9, 2015

Variety Klondike Bar

Before we begin, a disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Klondike. I received free product coupons to facilitate my review as well as compensation for my participation.

Now, let’s talk ice cream. Specifically, the world-famous Klondike bar. And even more specifically, what we are calling The “Klondike Bar Semi-Blind Taste Test”.

If you were ever a kid, you probably remember Klondike bars. Well, I should say Klondike BAR, because I really only remember one flavor- vanilla.

Those days are long gone. As I wandered down the ice cream aisle at the grocery store here in Boise, I was amazed at how much frozen sugar exists. And more than that, how many different types of Klondike bars exist.

Additional disclosure: I do not normally eat dessert unless it’s beer, so this was a whole new world for me. So much sweet!

Klondike now makes twelve (12!) different types of chocolate-covered bars that come in six-packs with flavors including Cookie Dough Swirl, Heath, Reese’s, Mint Chocolate Chip, Krunch, Caramel Pretzel, OREO, Dark Chocolate, Rocky Road, Double Chocolate, Neapolitan, and Original.

Beyond that, they make Klondike Kandy Bars, which are apparently a great combination of chocolate, ice cream, and candy. I say “apparently” because the store I went to did not carry this variety, so I didn’t get a chance to try them. But they come in packs of four and should cost you about $4 a pop.

The Klondike bars I chose come in six-packs, which seems like a good amount of ice cream for a family of six or more for about a week. Again, recall that I do not eat a lot of dessert so this seemed like A LOT of ice cream to me.

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Marriage

Lela, Let Me Explain Love

June 27, 2015

Dear Lela,

This week something incredible happened, and I want to make sure you remember this.

I know that you won’t believe me, but when you were only six months old, our country did not allow everyone to be married. There were certain rules and requirements, and if you did not meet those, you could not be married.

Imagine you were walking down the street, holding your favorite toy, and someone came up to you and told you that you shouldn’t love that toy. That toy was not meant for you. But you know that you love that toy, and you don’t want to give it up. That’s pretty sad, right?

I know that’s an overly simplistic take on what I’m about to tell you, but you’re only 6 months old and I think a lot of this will go over your head. So bear with me as I try to make this all make sense.

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