Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Blizzard of '09

The plan was this:  

Now that we have this new tradition of spending the weekend prior to Christmas at Ed and Rita's cow house, along with all of Kathleen's brothers and sisters and there extended clan, the house down in Swoope, Virginia was going to be a little crowded.  So we thought we would bring our trailer down there.  So one week prior, I took the explorer, complete with its new 3K transmission, over to Vienna and picked up the trailer from its storage place, and parked it over by our house.

The plan was to pick up the trailer and bring it down to Swoope.  Then we could stay in it, and afterwards, we could store it down by the barn for the rest of the winter.  

That was what we had planned.   Instead what happened was this:

Skip forward to this Friday.  Now I am at work, and as I am leaving someone tells me that it has already started to snow down in Roanoke.  I take the bus home.  By this time it is around 6pm.  I pack up everything in a hurry and get in the trailer and start to make my way through the neighborhood to the main road.  I call Kathleen on my cell phone (I have a headset).  Anna answers the phone and says that Kathleen can not talk right now.  Kathleen says that I should speak to her mom, they are getting a lot of snow down there and it might not be a good idea to drive down.  So I call Rita, and speak to a bunch of people, and yes, it is snowing like cats and dogs down there.  So I turn around, and bring the trailer back to Vienna.

I get home around Ten PM, and Kathleen hasn't made it down to Swoope yet, which mildly concerns me.  I check out www.511virginia.org, which has a nifty map showing the conditions of all of the roads in the state, color coded.  Blue means moderately bad.  Pink means severe.  All the roads are either pink or blue.  There aren't any roads that are green.  We are getting walloped with a snowstorm and I have been stranded in my house.  On the other hand, Kathleen and the rest made it safely to Swoope half an hour later, and Sam gets to have the white Christmas he was pining for.  So it isn't all bad.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

PJ hurt himself

So the other night PJ was brushing his teeth before bed.  Of course, he had to go to the bathroom.  As is his custom, he just takes his pants off when he goes to the bathroom.

But he's brushing his teeth so I cut him some slack.  Anyway, I am standing in the hallway waiting for him to finish, and he is wailing, holding his side, and walking out into the hallway, in pain, with just a shirt on.

"PJ, what's wrong?"  I ask him.

"Oh, I hurt myself."  He is obviously in some kind of pain, 'duh' I think to myself.

"No, I mean, what happened?"

"I don't know, I hit something."

"Well where does it hurt?"

"Oh, I don't know."  He shambles off to his bedroom.

Later on, Kathleen is tucking him in, he says he still hurts."

"What happened, lovey?"  Kathleen asks him.

"I just went through all this with dad, why don't you just ask him."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

first snowfall


We got a dusting of snow last weekend, and the Starlings descended upon us, it was strangely reminiscent of The Birds

Friday, December 04, 2009

Monster under the Bed

The other morning, Kathleen got up and was getting dressed.  As she left the room I was sure I heard some rustling.

"Honey, is that you?"  I asked.


"I hear a noise in here."

"Are you sure?  I'm in the bathroom."

I heard the noise again.  Then I looked over and saw Sam crawling out from under the bed.

"Sam, what are you doing."

"Oh, hi dad, I was just going to trick you." Sam said with a smile.

(Or give me a heart attack! )

Monday, November 30, 2009


Kathleen wanted me to find a cute old picture of PJ too.


Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am going through all of my old blog posts and fixing the photo links, which is a generally slow and tedious thing to do. However, the payoff is that I get to rediscover cute old photos. Here are a couple.


HEY! how come I can't go to school!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Scouting for food November 14, 2009

Originally uploaded by bkale
Sam is right in front of the flag, PJ is in the back blowing a bubble. All told, we collected some 4000 pounds of food, and had a lot of fun, too.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

home from the hospital!

And not a moment too soon, Kathleen came home from the hospital today at 4PM.  Some antibiotics and rest and she'll be a good as new.  Happy times!

Kathleen is Sick - putting the kids on the bus

Kathleen was sick at home yesterday, with stomach pains, and I spent the day at home watching her and trying to get her into the doctor.  Finally at 4PM we had an appointment.  The doctor prescribed a CT Scan, so from there we had to swing home, make sure that the kids were all taken care of, and then go back to the hospital and wait for a scan.  This turned out to involve hours of waiting, so I picked up the kids and went home.  Sometime later on Kathleen was admitted to the hospital for observation, and that is where we are now.  I'll try and post updates here and to facebook, its so much easier than actually *talking* to people LOL!

On a lighter note, I am playing Mr. Mom at home now.  This morning, I had to get the boy's ready for school.  Sam had after school gym class, and he needed to put on socks and sneakers.  I said "Okay Sam, you need to put your socks on now."

"I don't want to dad."

"Why not."

"I have sock issues."

I pause, and mull that over for a second.  "Okay fine, Sam, no socks."

Sam then wants to put on his red sneakers, which have laces, so I had to tie them for him.  After I did that, he said, "Dad, you tied these way to tight, but its okay, I'll just deal with it."  :^)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wow this is november?

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
My mom visited this weekend, and we had a beautiful Sunday afternoon, which the kids and some friends got a chance to enjoy. It was nice to be outside.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

my favorite frank zappa quote

"The more boring a child is, the more the parents, when showing off the child, receive adulation for being good parents — because they have a tame child-creature in their house."
--"Ben Watson interviews Frank Zappa" October 1993 (Mojo Magazine)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Happy Halloween 2009

Originally uploaded by peteshaw

Halloween this year was cold and rainy, but luckily we dodged the worst parts of the weather.  We all made it to the Leesburg Halloween parade, and after everyone went trick-or reating and got lots of candy.  This year everyone sported home made costume's courtesy of mom.  Anna was Cleopatra, PJ was a mummy, and Sam was count Dracula! 

Happy Halloween 2009

Originally uploaded by peteshaw

Happy Halloween 2009

Originally uploaded by peteshaw

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From Tony's Wedding

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
This photo was taken with my phone at the House my cousin Karen rented for her son Tony's wedding.

L to R - My mom at the edge there, then Molly, Kellen, Sierra, Kathleen, and Flip.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Theodor Geisel

Sam had a cough when he went to bed the other night.  He put a cough drop in his mouth after he had brushed his teeth. 

"Mom, this cough drop is woefully weary!"  Sam said.

Evidently he has been reading a lot of Dr. Seuss lately.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I was listening to "Vivaldi - The 4 Seasons" while I was working at home today.  Sam came into my office.

"What are you listening to?"

"The music?"


"Uhh, its, Vivaldi."

"No, its not, its "Little Einsteins!"

"I think they might play Vivaldi on Little Einsteins.  Do you like it?"

"Yeah!"  Sam trotted off.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Two Weddings in October

The first two weekends of this month we went to weddings. This made things pretty hectic. The first weekend we traveled down to Staunton, Virginia to go to my brother-in-law Paul's wedding. This was very much a family affair. They had the wedding at Kathleen's mom and dad's property in Swoope, and the views and the weather were fantastic. It was also very cool in that the kids were familiar with the landscape, and we could pretty much let them run wild all day long. Paul and his new bride Kerry seemed very happy. It was a great time. After the wedding a bunch of us headed to downtown Staunton and found out some interesting things about Virginia. For instance, did you know that in the state of Virginia you need a license for people to dance at your bar? Two people in our crew actually got yelled at for dancing. It could of been an excuse though. Shortly after that they told us all we had had too much to drink and they wouldn't serve us anymore. Another thing that is interesting about Virginia. Sometimes they will tell you you've had enough. Strange, these southern sensibilities.

The next weekend we travelled up to New York, where from personal experience I can tell you it is legal to dance just about anywhere, and most of the time they won't stop you from buying drinks as long as you are able to speak and pay. "Its nothing but a bunch of gin-mills up there" as my wife likes to say. The second wedding was without children, mostly because of the long drive up north. The drive would normally be a treat, because driving without children, after you are used to driving with children, is kind of like walking without a backpack after you've been carrying one for twenty miles. You feel like you are floating, and walk seems effortless. This time however, the drive wasn't quite so good. Kathleen has been having some problems with our rental property that I can't go into, because its not fair to go around calling someone names like 'loser' or 'deadbeat' or 'wretched little jerk who won't stop trying to break into our washing machine and the steal quarters from it' without giving them a chance to defend themself. But without talking about these person or persons specifically, lets just say that there were some problems and they weighted heavily on Kathleen's mind. Secondly, we got a call from a friend who is helping us with refinancing our house. More bad news. The stress grew inside our car like something tangible, until it became even more overpowering than the bad smell that was coming out of the air conditioner. Combine all of this with foggy, drippy weather, and we were exhausted when we finally arrived in Geneva, NY.

My cousin Tony and his bride to be Paula were getting married in the finger lakes at a beautiful winery. Kathleen and I got a good night's sleep and we were ready for another party. The wedding was wonderful. Plus we got to see a lot of family that we hadn't seen in a while, notable Tony's brother Danny and his wife and kids, who moved up on a mountain in Seatle and our hiding from civilization out there, so we never see them and that was a treat. During the wedding ceremony Kathleen actually sat on a bee, who understandable got quite angry. She got a painful sting, and that was a drag. I tried to console her with a series of smart, witty, comments, but for some reason she didn't think I was very funny. This was the second wedding, the second Saturday, and again I stayed up past my bedtime. I ended up sitting on the sidewalk at the Hampton Inn with my brother and cousin Dan, drinking beers while Dan's sober and curiously understanding wife sat in his car at the curb with his two little ones sleeping in the back seat. It was a cool memory, and the whole wedding was a good time.

There is a price you pay for all of this socializing of course. You don't have any time or energy left for 'real life'. The bread and butter stuff. Putting the kids on the school bus. Scout meetings. Paying bills. Filing eviction paperwork. As a result the stress in between all of these fun times can get a bit tough. I am looking forward to just the next few weekends at home, relaxing, and catching up on all those normal everyday things that need catching up on. Well, at least after this coming weekend, because I'm traveling to Las Vegas for the weekend. Maybe after that. :^)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

September is almost over

September is almost over. Here are the big things for the month. Sampson was a blast as usual even though we were sick, Kathleen had surgery on her hand for carpal tunnel, the kids went back to school, and Anna is doing volleyball and PJ and Sam are doing cub scouts.

We did our chores today. Sunday is chore day. Anna cleans her room and the front office, and PJ and Sam gets the basement and their room. Kathleen cleans up around the house in general, and I get to herd the boys into actually accomplishing something. They will dissappear in to their room, and an hour will go by, and if you open the door they will be sitting on the floor in the middle of the room, just staring at each other. So I have to supervise. Lord knows what they were doing, but I bet you could come back in a month, and they would still be there, sitting on the floor in the middle of the room, kicking there feet.

Today I take the boys to sell popcorn, a painful ordeal designed to raise money for the cub scout pack. The key is to get out there early, before any of the other boys have canvassed the area. Oh what fun.

Other than that is has been a pretty quiet month so far. It has been nice to get back into the school year routine.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

back to school!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
they are always this blurry this time of year...

back to school!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw

Monday, September 14, 2009

Summer Wrap up

Well, this summer came and went in flash.  Ending with Sampson of course.  this year Kathleen and I were both sick for the weekend.  Then on Saturday night I broke out in hives all over my body.  Very strange.  But Sampson was fun.   And then school was in session!

This year The boys catch the early bus and Anna takes the one after that, and hour later at 8 as opposed to 7.  This is also the first year that Sam is in full day school.  They are getting older in leaps and bounds.

Tomorrow Kathleen has surgery for Carpal Tunnel, for a second time.  

That is it for now.  C ya!  --Pete

Thursday, September 10, 2009

sampson state park 2009

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
here the kids have a high stakes game of texas holdem going in the shade tent. I think andrew ended up with all of the candy.

Sampson State Park 2009

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
here is a panorama of the campground. The weather was beautiful this year.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

flu and cold season approaches

well, our labor day weekend at Sampson State Park approaches, and Kathleen and I have succumbed to influenza.  Ugh, should b e a tough, yet fun weekend. 

Friday, August 28, 2009

Don't Over-react, Man!

Oh, where has the summer gone? It seems just a week ago we were enjoying Schroon Lake and hanging out with family, now its almost time for School to go back into session. Anna stayed for a week up at Grandma's house and flew home separately. Later, in August, she flew down stay with Aunt Betty and Uncle Dennis down in Florida for another week. In between Anna went to sleep over camp. The boys stuck around more, but they both went to the beach on two different weeks.

So Kathleen actually had to pick up Anna at the airport this particular Thursday, which left me holed up in my basement office while the boys had free reign of the house. I would hear them scurrying around, and when they were downstairs in the playroom I could hear them quite clearly. Once, after a loud kerfluffle, Sam came shuffling into my office, tears in his eyes.

"Dad, PJ slapped me in the face for no reason."

"He did? For no reason? Why would he do that?"

"I don't know. All I did was give him some really good advise" big pause, and then in a low voice "and I punched him."

"Why did you punch him?"

"Well, he was being mean."

Another time, I was trying to work and all of a sudden I could hear PJ's voice at the top of his lungs, yelling at Sam.


Friday, August 07, 2009

Kids in camp all week.

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Anna was in sleep over camp during her birthday. The boys were in day camp. It was a very, very good week. Kathleen got her mojo working and dove in to a small home improvement project. Check the video for details.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Charlie the Unicorn will Steal Your Kidney

I'll put this in the "disturbing children's email" category, and post it since I haven't been writing much lately. More information on Charlie the Unicorn here.

UPDATE -- Just to be clear, this email was Anna's own creation, so in this case she is a chain-mail instigator.

From: Anna Shaw
Date: Mon, Jul 27, 2009 at 4:53 PM
Subject: OPEN AND READ!!!!!
To: xxxxxxxx

Charlie the Unicorn is out to get you! Since he lost his kidney, he needs a replacement. He is making sure he does not steal a kidney of someone who checks their e-mail. He is tracking this e-mail. To avoid Charlie, forward this e-mail to anyone you want to live. If you delete this email after you have opened it or you change the subject, you will have your kidney taken if you send it to 1-10 people you will see Charlie in his bloody surgical apron and holding his bloody surgical tools at midnight.

If you send it to 11 or more people Charlie will leave you alone.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Greetings from Schroon Lake!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Just got back from a week up in Schroon Lake in upstate new york. This picture was taken from a local hill that I connived the kids into hiking with me. My nephew Andrew is also there on the left. It was awesome weather and we had a great time. Yahoo!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

scout night at the Frederick Keys

Last Saturday PJ, Sam and I headed up to Frederick, MD to see a minor league. It was "scout night", which was a special they run for all members of boy and girl scouts in the local area. It was a great deal, only three dollars for each of us to get in, not counting food. But it included the game, fireworks afterwards, and a big campout and a movie in the outfield after the game.

The Frederick Keys are a farm team for the Baltimore Orioles, and I think they realize that they need to keep it fun to keep people coming in the door. And they really try -- I really felt like I was appreciated, and everyone working at the stadium had a great attitude.

We left around 4:30pm, and the drive took about thirty minutes, during which PJ managed to lose his cub scout hat without ever leaving the car. How do you do that? We got to the parking lot, and filed in and sat in the lawn just outside first base. This is a whole lot nicer than it may sound. The kids could get up and run around any time they wanted to. There was a little playground just behind us for the kids to go if they got bored. Awesome.

We got some pretzels and popcorn and sat down. PJ and Sam went up to the fence and were eating their popcorn when suddenly, one of them dumped the bag of popcorn over the fence. PJ came up to me and asked if he could jump over the fence to which I said no, when the relief pitcher of the Keys, who happened to be sitting on a bench near to where PJ spilled the popcorn, ran over, scooped up the popcorn, grabbed a cup for himself, handed Sam back the popcorn and high-fived him, and then ran back to the dugout with a big grin. The kids ate it up.

After the game they let all the kdis run the bases. I mean *all* the kids, and it took a while. But everyone is smiling, and then when the bases were done they had fireworks, sponsored by the US Army, and it was a great show, made better by the fact that the were launching the fireworks just behind the stadiumand the fireworks were practically on top of us.

After the fireworks we had to leave the field, and then pack up our gear and get back in line to go back inside for camping. Once back, in, we all watched a movie on the big Jumbotron display. "Madagascar 2" in this case. By the time the movie had finished it was about 1AM, and we all crashed pretty quickly. They played Revelry at 6:30AM and we had to get out of there by 7, so it was a short night's sleep but in every other way it was really and incredible evening.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Anna graduates 5th grade!

Anna had her graduation cermony tonight. Not a real graduation like from high school or college, but one of those made up graduations, in this case from fifth grade. (Update -- I have been informed this was actually a "completion ceremony", and was not a graduation ceremony. I stand corrected. Thanks Deb!)

I know I start to sound like an old fart when I say things like "When I was her age we didn't graduate until high school" but that is honestly about all I could think about during the ceremony. And it was a long ceremony, complete with multiple musical interludes allowing each class in turn to regale us with their xylophone bravado. All recorded on a multitude of parental videotaping equipment. Huzzah!

Well, anyway, I suppose it is a good thing that accomplishment is encouraged, and it was great to see Anna and her friends up on stage, all so proud about that they have accomplished.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Friday near the end of the School Year

Anna and I rode our bicycles to and from her school yesterday. It was a lot of fun. It was one of the last days in the school year. She was very excited. She pointed out some weeds growing in a runoff drain and said "You see, its important for me to see wild plants like this. There are less and less of them around on the world these days."

Of course, this meant that I had to ride all of the way to school, and then ride back home. And then in the afternoon I had to ride all the way to school and then back with Anna. Actually, in the afternoon I was running a little late and had to sprint all the way to school to make it their on time.

The ride from our house to the school is awesome, the whole way is on bike paths. On the way, Anna made a point of saying hello to everyone she went past on the bike path. Not surprisingly, everyone said hello to her back, usually with a smile.

Later that evening there was a Girl Scout campout. I use the term loosely, because the camput was in the backyard of a friend's house, and they have a pool. Of course, this reminds me of a joke. How many Girl Scouts does it takes to set up a tent?

Answer: None! -- Just get your dad (the troop leaders husband) to do it! I got commisioned into setting up our tent, and then setting up someone else's large tent that I had never seen before. ("Oh, honey, you're so good at setting up tents, would you mind setting up Jeremy's tent also?") After all of that I was about ready for bed, so I grabbed the boys and headed home.

Of course the boys didn't want to leave because they were both in their elements; PJ was swimming in the pool and Sam was hanging out with a bunch of older women. But I packed them up and headed home. Once I got home, a friend of PJ's stopped by and asked if PJ could go for a sleepover at his house. Sweet! 2 down, 1 to go. I got PJ out the door, and then Sam and I sat down to a game of "Who cut the cheese."

After the game, I made a large bowl of popcorn and Sam and I sat down to watch "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" which surprisingly Sam enjoyed a lot. He fell asleep halfway through it though. After watching him sleep for about ten minutes I carefully picked him up and carried him up the stairs. About halfway up the staircase he stiffened, and tried to stand up while I was carrying him. "What are you doing?" he asked me.

"I was just bringing you upstairs to take a rest."

"No! I want to watch the movie." He said. I sighed. I took him back down the stairs and put him on the chair again, where he slept until the movie was over.

Finally I got Sam into bed, by which time I had time to myself, of course I just wanted to go to sleep by then. But I figured I was doing pretty good for a Friday.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Saving Electricity

Sam comes rushing into the kitchen around 8 o'clock tonight, plunging me into darkness while I am trying to clean up.

"Dad, we have to save electricity by turning the lights off!"

Big pause. "Sam, could you turn the light back on please."

"But we have to save electricity!" I am guessing that they just showed something on tv dealing with this issue.

"Well, Sam, that is great except that I am in the kitchen, and if you wanted to save electricity maybe should turn off the tv, the xbox, the wii, and the lights when you leave the basement. I think its okay to have the lights on if you are actually in the room."

"OK." Sam dissappeared into the basement.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

happy mothers day

happy mothers day
Originally uploaded by peteshaw

Anna made this in class using Microsoft Publisher, and the words are all her own. She said it much better than I ever could. Happy mother's day!

by Anna Shaw "For my dear mother on her special day"

Dear Mother, I love you,
Though sometimes I despise you,
you will always have a place in my heart.

Good times and bad,
Funny and sad,
You have been through them all.

My first work to mind about you,
Is awesome and giving,
Sweet, happy, smart,
and don't forget loving,
No matter what,
I will always love you.

Friday, May 01, 2009

PJ Breaks his foot!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
PJ broke his foot (3rd break so far for those who are counting). This proves, once again, the danger involved in walking into a Wal-Mart while doing a goofy walk and not paying attention. The cast will only be on for ten days, however, because PJ can luckily heal his bones as quickly as he can break them.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rain Barrels in our Garden!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
We are gonna be getting our veg on this summer! Kathleen has managed to turn herself into quite the econaut, taking a class with the county on how to build the rain barrels, and then actually building them.

For my part I dug up all the grass, and moved the old fence we are no longer using to provide a deer barrier. "I don't want to put out a buffet" as Kathleen put it.

It is about twelve by fourteen feet. Very cool.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Friday, April 03, 2009

April Fools day

Yesterday morning, as I was shaving, Sam came into the bathroom.  He didn't say anything to me, he just went to the shower and bathroom and methodically removed the bars of soap from them.

"Sam, what are you doing?" I asked him.

"I am playing an April fools day trick."  He told me.

"But that was yesterday."

"I don't care."  he said and ran off with the soap.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Vacation table

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Click on the photo to read notes on our vacation stuff!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

travel from heck

I am writing this in a dark hotel room a 5am on a Sunday morning. A bad smelling hotel room that looks out over a shell gas station somewhere near an Atlanta airport that I don't want to be at. It was one of those days.

Initially the travel was okay. We sadly checked out of our hotel room after a pleasant week of vacation. I returned the rental car, and had a minor freak-out after they charged me more than they said they would.

Got on the plane, made it to Atlanta on time. We had two hours to make our connection. But there were thunderstorms. And planes, lots and lots and lots of planes. Because of the storms we were forced to circle Atlanta for half an hour. Finally we landed.

Once landed, our gate was not empty and they had no where to deplane us. We spend another half an hour in the airport on the tarmac.

Once we finally got off the plane. We had the two immigration lines to go through. We were going to miss our fight but no one cared, it seemed like everyone was missing flights. The flight departing Atlanta and leaving for Dulles was leaving on time.

Once we finally made it through customs we could go and wait in another line, at the Delta desk. They kept mumbling and told us that they would give us a voucher. At first to the Ramada, but it was full so they 'upgraded' us to a voucher to the Wellesley Inn, which was 'much nicer'. The Ramada must have been a real cesspool.

We go out to the get a shuttle to our new crappy hotel room. Of course there are a million people waiting for shuttles. I find some strange man with a van who says he will take us and a few other random strangers to the hotel for 5$ each. The strangers are dropped off at the MicroTel, and it looks clean and new. I eagerly await our upgraded room at the Westin.

We get dropped off at the Westin. Unfortunately the voucher is for the Wellesley and its on the other side of the airport. I am too cheap to pay the difference and so we cab it across the Atlanta Airport again, this time landing at the Wellsley.

There is a Disco in the Lobby. People in shiny shirts and dresses are milling around. I ask for a room. I ask if the room will be quiet, and the man behind the desk cracks a smile and says "It will be unless you make some noise!" Its around 1am and we have to be at the airport at 6:15am, so we ask for a wake up call around 5:45, it calls us at 4:15am, and here I am.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

goin on a vacation!

Well, its that time of year again and Kathleen and I are going someplace warm on vacation (yeah!) and we're not bringing the kids with us (double yeah!). The grandmothers are descending upon our house to watch the children. I think every year the kids get a little bit easier to watch, and as a result the liquor consumption goes up. But I can only guess, and really, will not look a gift horse in the mouth.


Tonight we had cub scouts. I have bringing Sam, who is really enthusiastic about being a cub scout next year, and always wants to go. This contrasts with PJ, who likes Cub Scouts in theory, but in practice is a perennial curmudgeon about actually getting dressed and going out the door.

So every Thursday I take Sam, who is not a Cub Scout, but can't get out the door fast enough, and PJ, who is a Cub Scout but claims he would rather not be, to a meeting. Once there, all is well, the kids have fun, and we manage to lose one or two pieces of Cub Scout clothing in the space of an hour.

Back at home, we have our snack, and its time for bed. PJ is looking at me making a smoothie for myself. I am putting in fresh grapefruit, strawberries, yogurt, all good stuff.

"Dad, are you still on a low carb diet?"

I take some honey and squeee it into the blender. "No, I'm not dieting right now, why?"

"Well, I just think that if you have a ton of weight its okay." He doesn't say 'ton of weight to lose', so I'm not sure what that means exactly.

"What do you mean, PJ, do you think I don't need to lose weight?"

He pauses thoughtfully. My seven year old is speaking to me in the cadence of a psychiatrist. "I just think, that if you weight a lot, well, I don't have a problem with that."

"Thanks PJ," and I don't know what else to say, so I just end it with "now go to bed." I guess he thinks I'm fat but loves me anyway, and just wanted me to know it in a kind and loving way. I gotta admit, he did cheer me up.

Friday, March 13, 2009

PJ Sings "We are the world"

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Well, not really, but it was his class musical, and he was part of the Mexican group. Its a bit blurry, but you can see him right there in the middle.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Monday, March 09, 2009

Digging up Sod

Another big skip. Sometimes it feels like this blog is an obligation, something to check off of my to-do list. And weeks go by when I don't write anything. And so much happens.

They say that as you get older the days fly by faster and its true. I remember when summer vacation seemed to last forever, and now the summer goes by in a heartbeat.

Sam is starting to sound out words and read short sentences now. He doesn't think he can read but he really can. He's getting big. All or children our kids now. We need to start thinking about packing them all into the family truckster and driving cross-country to wally world.

I worked all day in the garden yesterday, pulling up sod to make room for Kathleen's new, expanded, garden. Kathleen is very into vegetables. I also cleaned out the composter. Our first foray into composting was a failure, the stuff we put out into it just rotted and became incredibly bad-smelling. This only endeared us more with our neighbors.

The weather has been stop and go lately. Typical Virginia weather, it can not decide weather it is the spring or the winter. On last Monday school was canceled with eight inches of snow. By Saturday it was in the seventies and beautiful outside, and by Sunday I was digging up the lawn to make room for Kathleen's farmlet.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Yesterday we celbrated valentines day. My present to Kathleen was to take the children to the movies. PJ and sam wanted to see 'Coraline' as did I. Anna wanted to see 'Hotel for Dogs'. We eventually reached the compromise of Anna taking a friend with her, and them going to see their movie while PJ, Sam, and I saw our own movie.

First we stopped at the 7-11, because no movie can be properly enjoyed without illicit candy. We go in, and immediately an argument ensues, because Anna can not believe that she has to buy candy that costs less than two dolllars, and she can only get one. Of course she could always spend her own money, but that really never was an option. So we get the candy settled, and Anna and her friend get, and suddenly PJ is missing.

I look all over the 7-11, its not that big a place, and when I knock on the bathroom door, I hear PJ's voice saying "I'll be right out!"

Only he isn't right out. The rest of us get our candy and go out to the car and wait, and I run back in a few moments later, and PJ is still in the bathroom. I bang on the door again, and the man behind the counter is staring at me. I say to the door, "PJ, we need to go to a movie very soon, you need to finish up."

PJ replies with the exact same phrase as before. "I'll be right out!" I knock again.

"Let me in PJ." I say, a little more serious this time.

PJ lets me in the bathroom and there is water all over the floor. I look around. The toilet is overflowing, and there is a clump of brown paper towels stuck in the bottom of it, clogging it up.

"PJ, did you put the paper in the toilet?" I say.

"Uh, no, it was there when I came in." He says in almost a whisper. He is looking at the floor.

I make PJ shuffle over to the man at the 7-11 and apologize. He is good natured about it. He says "no problem" and we leave.

I don't know what to do. I am embarassed, and mad at PJ, and don't know what he was doing. I call Kathleen and drop him back off at home. I find out later that he didn't mean to clog the toilet, he couldn't find any toilet paper and when it got clogged he got scared. But I didn't know that then.

Anyway, we go to the movies, and it was fun. Expensive fun. I got the tickets. Anna and her friend go to there movie. Sam starts running through the lobbie, zig-zagging past the girl taking tickets, like some kind of leprechaun.

One of the presents Sam got for valentines day is edible candy paper. Sam tells me he is making a valentine for Anna that says "I Hate You" and he is going to stick it in her mouth to make sure she remembers it. Anna really gets under the skin of her brothers.

This is also a three day weekend and we are takiing it very easy and enjoying the break from routine.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Dana The Darg Ep. 1

Dana The Darg Ep. 1
Originally uploaded by peteshaw
My daughter, the filmmaker.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sam's gift for Dad

I almost forgot to tell one of the funnier stories of the holidays. Kathleen took Sam shopping for Christmas gifts, and he proudly bought presents for brother and sister, and for his dad. At the time, Kathleen told me, "I can't tell you now without giving it away, but remind me when you get his present, because I have a really funny story to tell you."

Kathleen then proceeded to tell everyone I know this story, always when I was out of earshot. Then everyone would look at me and giggle and say something like, "that's pretty funny." But i wouldn't hear anything more and eventually I forgot about it.

On Christmas day, I opened Sam's gift and it was the board game 'who cut the cheese'. Evidently at the time Sam didn't understand the figure of speech, so Kathleen explained it to him in the store. At the checkout line, Sam proudly told the cashier, "I got my dad 'Who cut the cheese' because he's the FARTER in our family!"

The cashier told Sam "I think you should tell your dad that when he gets your present' and tried (unsuccessfully) to keep from laughing.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Christmas Timeline Part IV

On Monday the 28th, Mike and I had to leave early because we had a trailer full of trash that needed to be left at the dump. Mike got a chance to see Loudoun County's state of the art (and expensive) waste management facility, and as an added bonus we got to argue with the personnel there over just what exactly an air conditioner is anyways, and why do I have to give you fifteen dollars for each of them?

Moving along after that, I had plugged my snazzy new GPS system into the family truckster (this will become important later), and we drove over to Kathleen's parent's house in Vienna to drop off the trailer. Now, we have to go from Vienna, VA all the way up to BWI airport to pick up my mom. I wasn't sure about the exact route, so I plug it into my snazzy new GPS system, and start following its vaguely pleasant-toned instructions. It takes us directly across Washington, DC, crossing the Anacostia river and getting on 295 north, and taking that straight up to the Baltimore airport. Oddly enough, we get there on time. Mike darts in, I make a couple of slow laps around the airport, I pick up Mike and Mom, and we are off. This time I programmed the GPS with the location of a brewpub in Frederick, Maryland, and told it to 'avoid highways'. What fun!

Ten minutes later we are driving through someone's neighborhood somewhere in Baltimore Suburbia. Some people are playing frisbee in there front yard, I notice. Eventually we get through the neighborhood, and begin a series of twisty, hillly, roads. Mike starts threating to throw up to carsickness, but eventually we do make it to the brewpub. They even have lifelike statues of the Blues Brothers and we pause for photos after quaffing a few frosty cold ones and some appetizers.

After this, we headed straight home, managing to make a one hour trip into a four hour one. Kathleen, Loretta, and the children had gone and seen 'Marley and Me' during the day.

Next -- New Years eve, and Dixieland Jazz in Leesburg

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Shaw family at Christmas/New years

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Live from the cafeteria of the American History Museum in Washington, DC, on Tuesday December 30th.

But where the hell was the food? This cafeteria had no food whatsoever! It was bizarre. Only three huge coolers of Coke, and a half dozen tuna sandwiches.

Great photo tho. Props to the kind stranger who took it.

Christmas Timeline Part III

On Friday, the day after Christmas, I worked at home, and got a few errand done in the evening. It had gotten curiously warm out, and PJ was deep into his video gaming bender. Sam was still in the pajamas he was wearing on Christmas Day.

Saturday, I had to drive up to Hagerstown, MD and empty out a storage unit a tenant had left almost thirty tires, and a great variety of all things most heinous in. It was a gruesome task. Several trips to the local dump and eight hours later, I headed home. Presumable the kids were doing things during the day, but when I got home, PJ was looking kind of Haggard and was still on his video game bender. Sam was still in his Christmas pajamas.

Sunday, we had to clean the house out in the morning, because Uncle Mike and Aunt Loretta and Molly and Andrew were driving down to stay with us! The kids were very excited about this. Also, I had the opportunity to participate in the World's Largest Online Poker Tournament! It had 35,000 players from around the world, and only cost ten dollars to enter.

Mike and Loretta showed up around Two. We unpacked and proceeded to continue the festivities we had started a week ago. Christmas is exhausting! Mike got a chance to 'sweat' me playing in the tournament, and watch over my shoulder as I played, which was a lot of fun for both of us.

Up next: Nina arrives!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Christmas timeline part II

The kids come down the stairs on Christmas morning and they are very excited. I fire up the dvd player and start recording. The way it works is that first we open the presents that Santa has left, and the stockings, and then later when Kathleen's mom and dad show up we open more family presents. PJ gets 'Sonic Chronicles Unleashed' in the first box he opens and immediately wants to run downstairs and play that one game for the rest of the entire day. We don't let him, and so he grumpily continued to open presents, while repeatedly saying that he really didn't want to be here.

Anna got a video camera that stopped working after two minutes. I explained to her that even though it was a gift to her from Santa that I could probably still get warranty repair from the manufacturer. Then we got into a brief back and forth about even Santa can't make everything himself these days, that the box clearly says 'made in china' and how Santa probably has some sort of technology department that handles these things, but it might be easier to just go back to the manufacturer. Crisis averted.

PJ got a bicycle, and looked at it like it was a sweater-vest. Maybe he'll use it this summer.

It was unusually warm for a Christmas day, and the kids actually spent some time outside playing on the cul-de-sac.

Sam got a Road Ripper, which is this car that makes noise and moves around in a scary and threatening way. All five year old boys love these things, its amazing. Unfortunately the car was lost down the storm drain, and we couldn't get to it.

It was a quiet and relaxing day, we all had a great time. But the party isn't over yet. Three days later my family shows up from New York, and the holidays continue!