Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Back from the cruise, my girth and '08 reflections.

We're B-A-C-K and happy to be home bound for awhile. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise with the nice weather, shopping, relaxation, shows, kids, etc., but now it's time to wrap up '08, and look forward to '09.

Not to belabor the whole eating-thing on cruises, but I swear you don't have a chance of not packing on a few pounds. I told myself to cut down on the rolls (that they bring you before EVERY meal), and not eat red meat for dinner every night (but I did each eve with the exception of lobster night). I didn't eat any pastries except the occasional nibbling off the kids' and when I went to the 24-hour ice cream station, I only ate the frozen yogurt! I even worked out 4 days in addition to the Saturday BEFORE we left, but...........alas I gained five pounds. Perhaps the first clue should have been when I was eating those complimentary chocolate chip cookies on the way home while seated on the plane, and I dropped a couple. Instead of them rolling down into my lap (like they used to)....they only made it half-way down!

As 2008 drifts off into the sunset (I'm guessing that there will be a sunset, but I just can't see it with all the fog in the valley).....I'm (again) thinking how fortunate I've been to have such an awesome family and group of friends. It has also been quite a different year from years past both at home and in the world we share.

  1. The Rileys didn't move in 2008....we'd moved in 1992 (2X), 1993, 1994, 1996 (2x), 2000 (2x), 2002, 2004, & 2007.
  2. I didn't EARN a dime...yes the EDD kept extending the employment insurance, but I didn't do anything except to work in previous years to deserve it.
  3. I didn't do a lick of yard work...paid someone else to do it, but I DID do a ton of housework...didn't pay anyone to do that.
  4. I began '08 in tremendous back pain (could barely walk), but will end '08 pain free (until tomorrow morning of course, but it doesn't count because it will be '09).
  5. Two people I knew took their own life...a friend who had always kept in touch, and a high school classmate - both females in their 40's with alot to live for...breaks my heart.
  6. Americans elected our first African American (I consider him multi-racial), but I agree the U.S. needs to head in a different direction in so many ways. Hopefully Barack Obama will make an impact.
  7. I went to just as many concerts/events as I did sporting events...3 to 3! Uh, and NO Kings games.
  8. A year ago I didn't know what any internet terms meant like blog, wiki, html, etc....
  9. I turned 40! YIKES....won't do that again.

I wish everyone the best, safest, healthiest, and wealthiest '09 !!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Brenna's Karaoke on Carnival Pride

Hi Everyone - we're back in SacTown. Brenna wanted me to upload one of her karaoke performances and put it in my blog....I believe that this is a Taylor Swift song.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from Mazatlan

Hi Everyone - Merry Christmas from the Carnival Pride! It's day 5 and Christmas in sunny Mazatlan and we're having a wonderful time eating, swimming, eating, shopping, eating, reading, sleeping, relaxing, and did I mention..EATING? Ok, old joke. Sufficed to say, it has been so much fun, and we still have three days to go.

The triplets and Brenna awoke this morning to stockings hung in Grandma M's room down the hall. Mom MD & I were circling the room with camera and video camera in hand trying to capture the event. Brenna was most excited about her new little video camera. Alec loves his spiderman watch. Vivi, oh THAT Vivi put on all her bracelets and necklaces. JuJu just wanted to make sure no one took any of her candy.

Now, Reinvent Dad is typing fast and frantically as there aren't too many things more expensive than Carnival WiFi (& oh it's much slower than WiFi back in the states). So please excuse the poor grammer and spelling. Mom, Grandpa D and the Grandmas are out shopping in town. The triplets and Brenna are doing fun Camp Carnival activities. I'm going the go read that John Adams book that I started reading in June.

Here is wishing and my family, friends and whoever else might check out my blog, the safest and healthiest holiday season....I'll see you all soon with (hopefully) some pictures and video :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pet Peeves

You'll recall from a previous entry that I don't use the word "hate" anymore, but I still have my "pet peeves" described by Wikipedia as "annoyances that can instill great frustration in a small group of people, yet they are experienced by everyone."  You have yours.  I have mine, and since this is my blog, here are a few of mine....

  1. People who insist on watering their lawns year-round.  Come on when it's cold outside (especially if the temperature is below 32F), AND it has rained in the past few days...TURN YOUR SPRINKLERS OFF!  Not only is this extremely wasteful, but dangerous to people driving or taking walks (ever slipped on ice?).
  2. People who do NOT hold the door for you and/or say "Thank You, Gracias, Merci or any other verbal means of appreciation" when you hold the door for them.   In general, senior citizens,  men, and people with strollers are the best at both holding the door, and saying "Thank You" when you do the same.
  3. Interestingly enough the majority of my PP's are at the gym.  Here are a few of my least favorite things... I can't stand it when guys stand naked at the mirror (just wrong). I don't like it when the trainers are in worse condition then I am (wouldn't you think they'd practice what they preach).  Why do parents have to crowd around the sign-up area in the Kid's Zone (come on patience, where is the fire?).  Finally, can you say "personal space"at the weights, in the sauna or on the mats  (don't crowd, I don't even let my kids get that close).
  4. What about driving? How about using your turn signals? I'm tired of guessing. Also, here's a thought, how 'about slower drivers stay in the right lane?  Funny, my driving pet peeves have decreased substantially since moving back to California in 2004 as I do consider them the best drivers in the country, but then again (roads, signals and the weather are much better).

That's all for now....pretty tame really.  What are your pet peeves?  Oh, since I'm a man of lists and to keep with the current tone of this entry (a mellow bitch session)....Here are few things that let's just say IF they left forever I wouldn't be traumatized. 

  1. Wal-Mart
  2. Indian Casinos
  3. Leaf blowers
  4. Kiosks at the Mall
  5. Pit Bulls
  6. Telemarketers
  7. New England Patriots.
  8. Extreme Fighting
  9. Romantic comedies.
  10. Income Taxes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Cards

This week has been designated as "Get the Freakin' Christmas Letters Out" week as we soon will be going on holiday. After ordering 100 prints on Snapfish and receiving our delivery last week, we finally started the arduous process last evening with Mommy doing the majority of the work while Reinventing Dad made sure all I's were dotted and T's crossed.
Even without writing the traditional Holiday (Brag) Letter, it's time consuming and I can see why people decide to skip it some if not all years. This afternoon I decided to tackle more letters thinking that I'd make a huge dent (& the Biggest Loser Finale is on this evening). Truthfully I was also a bit concerned that the post office might have some difficulty deciphering Mommy MD's writing. Unfortunately, I'm NOT as neat as I thought I was, but I completed 13 more cards (mostly to my side of the family and friends).
This picture was up for consideration to be on our annual card, but JUST missed the final cut.............Oh, and as far as the "Brag" letter is concerned..I'm just kiddin' I truly like to hear what everyone is up to. In fact, I'm jealous as I've never been able to write a good one.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Restaurant Coupons

Economists label me "price sensitive" as I have a particular "window of cost" that I intend to pay for various products and services. This is especially true when it comes to eating out. The other day I realized that my wallet was so bloated that I could no longer sit down comfortably. Unfortunately it wasn't a stack of hundreds that raised my rear, but receipts that I tend to slip in my wallet for later disposal.

Prior to tossing out, I reviewed each receipt to determine if it needed to be retained for possible returns or what not. I noticed that most were restaurant receipts, and that in all but one case did I receive a discount of one kind or another. Amy and I don't eat out much anymore. In fact, with me at home cooking my famous spaghetti, tacos, hot dogs or steaks week in and week out, we generally only order out a day or two on weekends.

After being overwhelmed with so many choices after we first moved to Roseville (both chains and one-of-a-kind mom/pop), we seem to have narrowed down our choices to a handful of eateries. Not surprisingly all but one have discounts coupons, 2 for 1's etc. If we want steak, we go to Tahoe Joe's for the rib eye which we split and order an extra salad (we use the clipper cash). If we want Mexican, it's On the Border which also has $ off coupons.

What about pizza? Well, we go take-n-back with Papa Murphy's which allow discount coupons (mailed) on EVERY pizza your purchase. If the craving is for pasta or an outstanding build your own salad, it's Pasta Village (locally owned) which until recently offered "kids eat free" on Saturday, but in talking to the owner he indicated that more special offers are coming out soon..............

The best restaurant coupons are the straight "2 fors" buy one, get one free meals. I can't stand the buy one entree + 2 drinks and then get the second entree free. This insults my intelligence and irks my turtle. I rarely order a drink anymore unless its a breakfast coffee....why pay $2.49 for a diet coke? When I want a "drink", then I'll get a "drink" (e.g. gin and tonic). Again, not ordering a soft drink (huge restaurant profit margin) automatically cuts 20% off your bill.

Forget about the dinner for two coupon as well. Black Angus simply can't get this through its thick head. I don't want to pay $42.99 for a dinner for two with appetizer, salad, entree and dessert! I'm not interested in the stamp card either in which you get a freebie on the "nth" visit.....this is another undesirable wallet fatener, and I forget...give me the deal today!

We just paid $23.99 for the entertainer booklet that contains deals on everything from Avis to the Zoo, but I was a bit disappointed in the values for my area and many of the places I had never heard of. True these places want me to sample their food, but I generally go by word of mouth. When I find a place I like, I'm loyal as H-E-L-L.

In concluding, especially with this economy I don't see any reason to patronize any eatery without receiving sometime of deal. I always check to see if a restaurant has a AAA discount. Even at mighty Starbucks, I purchased $100 worth of gift cards for $80 at Costco. I did mention that there is one exception to my discount rule...a place I NEVER see any kind of discount, but I'm addicted and can't stop. Drum roll's the Japanese restaurant Mikuni which is simply the best and worth every cent.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday morning before first cup of joe.

I'm going off the cuff this a.m. before my morning coffee which is a feat in of itself.  I ran down a short time ago and starting a fresh pot.  It's a clear Saturday morning and Amy is in-house doc today after being on-call (with beeper last night).  The beeper went off quite often I might add so my fuse will be a bit short today.

Alec dressed himself socks first, then shirt, then underwear, and finally pants.  He's not happy with the green pants I chose because they don't fit "too right", so I've sent him back into his room to retrieve a new pair.  He chose the camouflage swishy pants which doesn't quite match his blue Small Paul shirt, but oh well.  

Vivi and Juju played "camp out" in their room using Alec's blue comforter as a tent, but after deciding to change the tent into a pool and jump from their beds, I ENDED the game.   They've found some clothes in their ill assorted closet, and have dressed themselves (except I did help Vivi with her tights).

Time to go downstairs and drink some coffee....I NEED it!  They've shouted that they found "Clarky" the elf somewhere in the kitchen.  We'll have breakfast.  I'm the short order chef you know.  Eventually Bren will drag herself out of bed and I'll ask her if the tooth fairy came as she lost a molar last night.  She'll then grab a bite to eat and we'll all head off to the gym.

This is our morning routine when Mommy is "Dr in the Box."  We'll try to visit "mommy's hospital" at lunch, then naps, treat, games, etc....Gotta go as they'll probably want me to sort out the dinosaurs in the Kirkland vitamin jar...they like the "long necked" ones for some reason...enjoy  your weekend.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Alec Advice

Reinventing Dad needs some help. Can someone offer some advice as to how to keep my very observant four and one-half year-old son Alec from making a (loud) comment about individuals who for lack of better words might look a bit different from his family and friends.

I mean I've heard everything from "look dad, he's little" when referring to a little person to "dad, look at his beard" when referring to a young guy with a fu manchu style moustache. Of course, in the latter story, Julia chimed in with her opinion "I don't like it."

This was mildly embarrassing when he was really little, but not when he's four (& looks older). I've tried explaining to him that he shouldn't say things about people. I've tried creating a diversion before he sees a person of "interest" like "Alec, look at the car like Mommy's." Nothing seems to work.

Perhaps, he'll grow out of this before I can come up with a solution, but I'm really dreading the first time I have to take him into the men's locker room at the gym.

Here's to a fantastic win last night by the Sacramento Kings over the Lakers....I'm sorry I missed it, but I had committed myself to watching the "Biggest Loser" - I know there is a joke in there somewhere!

A not-so-good Idea

Why is it that I come up with the best ideas for a new entry when I'm either in the shower, at the gym, or in the car? This predicament totally bums me out as I have such fascinating topics and ideas that I'd be thrilled to share with you if I could only keep them stored in my pee brain until I'm in front of a computer. I know you're rolling your eyes and I am too, but on the way home from the gym this morning I wondered why hasn't an automaker come up with a way to allow you to text message over your car's blue tooth? By the way (BTW), if your favorite texting symbol is OMG or if you use capital letters, then I've been told you're either too old or trying too hard (or both).

I had another idea that I ran by Brenna the other day that I thought was mind blowing. As some of you may already know, I like to sing in times of great happiness (or drunkenness), or when I'm stressed (home bound with the triplets). In fact, by my sixth and final year of college I was finally able to shed the "Babe" nickname from high school to one that made a tad more sense "Nickelodeon." Not that I'm a good singer, nor could I tell you the difference between a melody, minstrel or molto. What I do enjoy is switching around and making up new lyrics to various songs.

So? My idea was to create a website in which the visitor picked a song, answered a couple questions about themselves, and told me what their current mood was and I'd put together a personalized jingle. For example, say you picked "Alone" by Heart (I'm a child of the 80's), you're a mortgage underwriter (in a past life) who is overworked, tired, and frustrated. Can you remember the tune, perhaps you still have the CD.........?

"I see you submitted a not-so-good loan, I'm reviewing it but my decision is unknown"
"I'm deciding if I should approve or toss away...I don't believe the man even intends to pay"
"But the sales department is on my tush and I clearly have no directive from President Bush"
"A Loan"

You get the idea...I hope...maybe not. This is the clean version (think of a pop 2-Live Crew song of the early 90's for the other version). Anyway, as you might have guessed, Brenna shot this one down! She said no one would go for this, "think again Laundryman." Oh well, back to the shower, car or gym for another idea.......stay tuned.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

How long could I go without using the internet?

I've been wondering how long I could go without hitting my big browser button and surfing the Internet.  I probably check my e-mail every couple hours, and I'm always perusing my favorite sites for latest breaking news stories.  Oh my, CNN is just reporting that President-elect Barack Obama will nominate retired Gen. Eric Shinseki to be secretary of Veterans Affairs, a Democratic source confirms.  See what I mean, now I know this tidbit before 99% of the population, but how can I use this info?  Truthfully in most situations it doesn't matter, but sufficed to say the 'net is so addictive.

Blogging as you well know has become my latest Internet addiction.  I can commiserate with others in similar situations (e.g. Sacramento Kings fans, parents of triplets, oppressed At-Home spouses).   Prior to blogging, I played fantasy baseball (a 2008 & 2007 League Champion thank you very much).  Prior to fantasy baseball, I bounced from site to site searching for info on google or visiting various forums including the triplet connection.  I remember looking to see which TV programs had "jumped the shark" or what was the real truth behind the mysterious series "Lost."

In fact, at one time I actually used the Internet for work purposes.  We had numerous "detective" sites to check out those applicants hoping to obtain the coveted 100%,  investment, stated, option arm loan.  Memories.....stories for a different day!

What's next? I still don't have a myspace, facebook or youtube account (Brenna does).  Shall I twitter?  That doesn't seem too exciting to me. Reminds me of when cell phones first came out and you'd call someone to say "right now, I'm driving down the street..oh I just passed a McDonalds.  Wow,  look the Johnsons have their Christmas decorations up now...yacky yack yack..".....until, of course your battery ran out.

Honestly with so much going long could I go without using the Internet?  I suppose the answer is similar to the 70's commercial "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?"......"The world will never know."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Harvey Milk

I enjoy going to the movie theater to take in a flick, but I hate wasting close to $10 to see a so so film that I could have just as easily ordered via Netflix. Today the Sac Bee recommended "Milk" staring Sean Penn who plays a gay man who makes an important decision to relocate (& reinvent himself) in San Francisco in the early 1970's. So, I thought I'd check it out.

Penn's performance was impeccable. I went to YouTube and listened to the real Milk's final thoughts that he had recorded on audio tape just prior to his assassination and Penn sounded just like the man. What I found so fascinating about Milk as portrayed by the movie was that he wasn't godlike, superhuman or even incredibly charismatic. With the help of a total stranger who soon became his partner (played by James Franco), he seized the opportunity to change his life.

At the time, both in San Francisco and nationally, gay rights were being challenged, and in some cases eliminated. Milk's sexual orientation became his calling to community activism. Over time his position within his community, and support from other minority populations within the city earned him a huge victory as the first openly gay person elected to public office. Tragically, his life was taken (along with Mayor George Moscone) shortly after by another member of the county board of supervisors, but Milk's legacy remains a generation later.

One might ask, why does Reinventing Dad review this movie on his site? Isn't this a family site?The truth is until I read the review, I had never heard of Harvey Milk. Somewhat embarrassing for a native California who now lives 80 miles from San Francisco and considers himself a bit of a history buff. Like those before him seeking freedom, civil rights or even the right to vote, I respect him for attempting to educate the majority, fighting for who he was and seeking those truths as mentioned by our Four Fathers.
As an individual and a parent often times it's difficult to leave your comfort zone. In my case this would be suburbia and includes parks with playgrounds, Target and California Family Fitness. I intend to teach my children tolerance with the idea that not only should you be true to yourself, but respect the opinions of others (even if you do NOT agree with them).
I've definitely turned the corner in some respects. In closing, after the movie ended a lady made the statement that perhaps our recent controversial Prop 8 (gay marriage) might have had different results if the movie was released prior to the Nov 4 election.....we'll never know.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tripletisms II

So what are the triplets into these days you ask? My answer remains "anything and everything." Today is their unofficial four and one-half year birthday, and no I'm not getting them anything. I don't want to spoil Christmas. I have to give Clark the Elf an opportunity to do his magic (see Elf on the Shelf blog).

HMMM, let's expected, they remain extremely close, but have very different personalities.  They have their own vocabulary - "Kezert" is a dessert, "Krispie" is a frisbee. Here is the latest. 

1.  Nicknames: Bubby, Mr. Man, Man Cub, Blond Boy
2. Favorite Foods: corn dogs, fish sticks, pears, bananas, oatmeal
3. Friends: Noah, Trey, Sammy
4. Lives for: Sammy coming for a visit,  a chance to go fishing, a ride on a quad
5. Favorite places: North Dakota farm, Petsmart, McDonalds, St. Anna preschool, Cal Fit, Honey Treat Yogurt, Raley Field.
6. Dislikes: moths, loud noises, change of  plans.
7. Loves: trains, cars, his Daddy (haha), playing ball, coloring, Halloween, The Mall.
8. Recently said: "Daddy, can I hold the gun when we shoot the turkey?"
*Traits: Rules boy, great memory, inquisitive, detailed.

1. Nicknames: JuJu, Juju Fruit, Mini Me's Mini Me.
2. Favorite Foods: CANDY, CANDY & more CANDY, spaghetti w/no sauce, burritos, kids energy bars, apples, strawberries.
3. Friends: Bella, Trey and Sammy.
4. Lives for: Candy, Halloween, Mommy time, adventure, tumbling, playing w/Grandpa's dog Daisy.
5. Favorite places: North Dakota farm, Wendy's, St. Anna's,  San Francisco, Bishops Pumpkin Farm, "Mommy's Hospital"
6. Dislikes: house with no candy, being yelled at or teased, combing her hair, not being able to chose her own clothes.
7. Loves: Candy, her siblings, her scooter, dogs, snack bags.
8. Recently said: "Alec, you are a crazy old Maurice"
*Traits: Independent, nurturing, loving, athletic.

1. Nicknames: Goo, Goolish, Little One, AsIffer, Vivikins.
2. Favorite Foods: Mac & Cheese, Chicken nuggets, cheerios, watermelon.
3. Friends: Kylie, Mia, Sammy.
4. Lives for: being read to by Grandma Jan, imaginative play, games, Barbie.
5. Favorite Places: ND Farm, Las Vegas, Honey Treat Yogurt, The Fountains.
6. Dislikes: Lost glasses, bedtime and naps, getting dressed
7. Loves: Lamby, stuffed animals, books, dress-up, The Princesses, cuddling.
8. Recently did: Breast feed Lamby at the dinner table.
*Traits: Quick wit, sweet, friendly, creative.

Here's to not having to watch another Sacramento Kings loss until at least Saturday.  How can you lose 7 in a row at Arco and 10 out of the past 11? The poor Sac Bee beat writer is running out of ideas to describe near victories.  Ugh, at least the triplets aren't into basketball yet because they'd probably start rooting for the Lakers or Celtics.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December '08 *Update*

I woke up this morning thinking a lot about my original intentions to create a blog to assist in determining which direction to take my life, family and career. What had become increasingly apparent in recent months was how little I missed working in an office. Sure I missed some people, but not the politics and BS associated with corporate America.

I have had some good suggestions from friends and family. Some have mentioned going back to school to get my teaching credential, one suggested going to IT Tech, and still others said follow your passions or hobbies. I know if my Dad was still alive, he'd have given me an updated version of "What Color is Your Parachute?"

My heart was never into getting another "job" and therefore, I never devoted too much time to a job search. Most of my colleagues were able to find employment after the layoffs in 2007 for which I'm very thankful. Currently, my intention is to remain an "At Home" Dad for the foreseeable future and continue my blog and hopefully eventually start a website devoted to all fathers (young, old, at-home, working, married, divorced, gay, Democrats, etc.).

Please, let me know if you have suggestions for my new site (or for Reinventing Dad). I have a few thoughts that I've jotted down.

Thanks so much for coming to my blog and the next entry will have more to do with family then with me. I promise.
Here's to being thankful that I listened to my father's advise while going off to college to "not let school get in the way of my education"

Monday, December 1, 2008

Halloween Pictures

Well, I am way past due on my Halloween pictures, but I thought better late than never. As you can see, we had a "Puss n boots", a "Pocahontas", and a "Show White" among the triplets, and for the second time in her 10 years (& first time since 1st Grade, Brenna went as a witch.

This year we had our traditional Halloween pizza from Papa Murphy's with Mom, Gabe and Grammy Karen in attendance.

I don't believe we had quite the crowds of trick-or-treaters as in previous years which probably was attributed to Halloween on a Friday night, and/or threat of rain. We also had quite a few neighbors who were Halloween scrooges.

Brenna went out with her friend Shelby this year.

I doubt that you'd have to "Pray for mercy" from this guy, he's a pussy cat.

Here's to keeping the spirit of Halloween alive for future generations.