Category Archives: family

Hallelujah Surprise!

I wish I had been there.

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The Car is Making a Funny Noise

All week Holly tells me that the car is making a funny noise.

This morning I drive it a bit and don’t hear anything until I am about a few miles from our house and then it sounds like normal engine noise, but louder, like the muffler is going bad. Then I hear a clunking noise that grows louder until it culminates in the sound of parts falling off the car and hitting the road.

I pull over. I put the flashers on and find this laying in the road behind the car:

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Pop the hood and everything looks fine.

No idea where the part came from, so I toss it in the car, finish my errands, and head back home.

Coming round the corner to my house, I hear a dragging noise. I think some piece of the exhaust system is dragging. I pull the car into my drive way and look under the car:

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Holy crap! — That doesn’t look like the exhaust system!

Pop the hood:

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Not sure if you can tell by this picture, but the whole damn engine is seriously listing to the left about 10-15 degrees.

It looks to me like the head of one of the bolts may have snapped off. I can see the threaded bottom part sticking up from a spot where it looks like the piece that I retrieved from the street ought to go.

I’m just glad the damn engine didn’t drop into the street.

The tow truck driver was surprised that it still ran. I laughed because, aside from the dragging noise, it seems to run a little better than it did before. We had it in the shop because the engine light kept coming on, but that problem seems to have been solved (although if you’re having a similar problem with your engine light, I don’t recommend you try knocking out the motor mount on your car).


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Post-a-day Marathon at Caroline’s Cause

My brother Tony asked me to help him raise awareness about Rett syndrome this month and I’ve agreed to do it.

We’re hosting a post-a-day marathon to raise awareness about Rett syndrome on Caroline’s Cause, the blog where we organize charity events to benefit Caroline.

Come check us out at Caroline’s Cause. Or give us some facebook love.

October is Rett-tober for Rett Syndrome Awareness Month

October is Rett Syndrome Awareness month.

Raising awareness about Rett syndrome is important to me because my seven-year old niece has Rett Syndrome. It’s a terrible developmental disorder that affects mostly little girls.

The children who get it start to do this hand washing motion and then pretty soon they stop looking you in the eye.

And then, it gets worse. Much worse.

They get seizures. They lose the ability to swallow, talk and walk. In Caroline’s case, her body started to go haywire almost immediately, so she never learned how to do these basic tasks.


My brother Tony (pictured) asked me to help him raise awareness about Rett syndrome next month and I’ve agreed to do it. We’re hosting a post-a-day marathon to raise awareness about Rett syndrome on Caroline’s Cause, the blog where we organize charity events to benefit Caroline.

Tony is an amazing person.

As you can see, he is (literally) a giant among men. In high school, he ended up in the same senior class as me as a result of some strange (but banal) circumstances. Tony and I couldn’t have been more different seniors. I was quickly expelled in the first six weeks. Meanwhile, Tony went on to win the Pennsylvania AA unlimited weight class wrestling championship in 1979.

And this is in Pennsylvania, a state notorious for having some of the best high school sports programs in the entire US. Pennsylvania, the home to huge farmer boys who wrestle hogs and cattle for lunch. Dude, Pennsylvania! Who would have guessed that such a big imposing guy would end up being tasked with such a huge nurturing life challenge?

I encourage you to visit the blog now and during the month of October.

I’ve been writing these stories up for the last few days now, and I’m so excited. If you’re like me you expect the worst from most people and you’re usually not disappointed. But I’m just amazed at the remarkable people in Caroline’s life, like Vicky the firebrand physical therapist or the wonderfully unreserved Dr. Caso, Caroline’s  pediatric dentist. I’m sure there will be some sad bits, and some stuff to make you think, but I predict you’re going to really enjoy hearing about these people.

Plus it would just mean a lot to us to see some hits.

So come check us out on the Caroline’s Cause blog. Or give us some facebook love.

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Tim Elhajj Interview With Back to Back Announcements

My friend and fellow writer from the land of rain and fir trees Deanna Hershiser posted an interview we did together on her blog.

I’m discussing the risks involved with writing memoir and even a little about my writing process and some thoughts on work life balance. Somehow I end up revealing to her two announcements that have been in the works for a while now, but for some reason haven’t made it to this blog yet. I’m sure I’ll post both of them eventually, but why wait?

Go on over there and check it out now: junking with Tim Elhajj.

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End of Summer

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This is the last day of summer and what a summer it was. The kids really came into their own this year, especially with water polo. I didn’t realize it, but water polo is a vicious sport. Most of the really violent action takes place under the water, where unsuspecting parents can’t see.

After one match, Aaron admitted to biting another boy who had been choking him.

He was standing poolside with both Holly and I, and we were both taken aback. Holly said she thought biting might get you expelled from the game, possibly even the tournament. Aaron’s eyes got big. 

She suggested he find the boy and apologize. Aaron, always a good egg, readily agreed. Just then he grabbed a little blonde boy who was walking past and said, “Did I bite you?”

The boy grinned and nodded his head and Aaron quickly apologized. It took about ten seconds. They congratulated one another on the outcome of the game and then the boy walked on. When he was clear, I scrutinized Aaron.

“Did I bite you,” I repeated. I gave Aaron a skeptical look.

I was glad he was willing to take responsiblity for his behavior, but what kind of apology was that? He was acting as if he were completely unaware of his own behavior. Yeah, hey — the coaches are telling me that I bit you out there! My God—can you believe it?

Aaron looked at me blankly for a minute. “He’s a twin,” Aaron said. “I wanted to make sure I was apologizing to the right one.”

Ha! I knew that. My little man.

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Water polo was especially good for Kennedy this year.

She really got more aggressive, really getting in those boy’s faces, which is huge for her. The kids are twelve and both played in the fourteen year old tournament this year. The picture at the top is her doing battle with the fourteen year olds.

Holly says most of the girls drop out after they hit twelve, but I am hoping Kennedy will continue for another few years.

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We also went to A-champs, the big senior competition for swim team in our area. The kids had only gone to B-champs in past years, so this was a big deal. They are both turning into fine swimmers.


This was also the summer we went to Texas, which was really hot.

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And Holly and I went to Portland with Pace for our 14 wedding anniversary.

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Sexy Coffee

I dropped my car off at the garage the other day and stopped into the little coffee shop in a shack on the corner of the gas station property for something to sip on my walk home. I was surprised to find a pretty young barista, wearing only a halter top and the tiniest of skimpy shorts. I immediately felt concern. She could get burned making coffee dressed that way. She smiled and asked me what I was having.

“Double, tall, Americano,” I said. “Black.”

She turned and started operating the espresso machine and then I noticed she was barefoot. My God. Are there no OSHA requirements for baristas?

I gazed around the hastily constructed shack, about six feet square dominated by two espresso machine, a tiny sink, and a cash register. There didn’t seem to be any windows or openings in any of the walls, except for the front opening where I stood ordering coffee. The back wall was shelves packed to the ceiling with coffee and supplies. Still baffled about her attire, I wondered if those espresso machines might have made the cramped space feel stuffy and hot.

“Is it warm back there?” I asked.

Although it was summer, the sky was overcast and grey. I was wearing a light jacket in case it rained.

“Warm?” She asked, looking at me skeptically. “No, I”m fine.”

She smiled and placed my steaming paper cup on the counter in front of us. What an attractive girl.

I gave her the only bill in my wallet, a ten-dollar bill, for $1.25 cup of coffee.

She turned to her cash register drawer, dug out and held some bills in her left hand, and then continued digging around for change. I felt stupid bothering her with all my silly questions. Unable to find the correct change in her register, she moved to her tip jar.

I sipped my coffee. Waited.

Finally I said, “You can just keep that change.” By this I meant pocket change, but she turned to me and her whole face brightened with such joy. And then I got it–sexy barristas selling hot coffee! This had recently been in the papers: scantily clad barristas is apparently the latest coffee craze sweeping the land. Someone had put one up–complete with voluptuous curvy signage–at a gas station near Crossroads park and there had been a general citizens uproar. Not long after the story appeared, the entire shack was whisked away–sexy signage and all–to somewhere down by the airport.

“Coins,” I said. “You can keep the coins. Just give me those bills, and we’re cool.”

Her face fell a little, but she dutifully gave me my change. What a nice girl. I am such a doofus sometimes. I can’t believe it took me so long to figure it out. 

But she made a great cup of coffee!

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2010 Swim Championships

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A-Bomb–otherwise known as Mr. Pink.

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Kennedy gets a good start.

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Aaron “flipping out.”

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Chin up, girl. Yo. “Not as the giant of their dreams, nor the dwarfs of their fears.”

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Thirty painted toes.

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More swim pictures from the entire 2010 season.

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God Bless Holly Huckeba

God bless my wife and best friend Holly Huckeba, who yesterday did convince me to manhandle and operate a rented drain auger to open up our clogged laundry drain, even though I was initially very much opposed to this plan, and did complain loudly, and with much bitterness and consternation, and did say that I thought it would never work (though not in an Eeyore voice, nor with any little rain clouds floating over my head).

Indeed, this course of action was MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE than any previous course of action and as a direct result of this drain clearing success, I am feeling VERY BUTCH today.


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