August 29, 2012

Standing Guard

In case you didn't know, my wife and I decided to take the kids to Quebec City. One of the main tourist attractions is The Citadel. Outside the Citadel guards stand watch 24 hours a day. Their main objective it seems is to not move or show any expression while tourists try to make them laugh. It's not as easy as it sounds as people will do anything to try and make them let their guard down.

I don't know what it would take to make these guys move, we tried really hard. But this guy changes his expression less than I do. Maybe we should have stood a little closer?

Perhaps a good knock knock joke next time.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


August 28, 2012

The Willey Slide

My family is famous. Although not for what they did with their lives. It was how they died.

August 28 marks the 186th anniversary of the day seven members of the Willey family, and two of their hired help, perished in a mudslide that thundered down the mountain towards their tiny cabin. 1826 was by all accounts a dry year, but two days prior to the slide a powerful storm brought torrential rains to the area, raising the nearby Saco River by 24 feet.

The family, lead by the father Samuel Willey, fearing the rising river and the ensuing mudslides fled their home only to be swept up in the mud never to be seen again.

This is where the story gains its legend. Ironically if the family had stayed in its house they would have all survived. Just up the mountain from their home a giant boulder split the slide in two, protecting the house as the mud poured down either side of the home, leaving it completely intact.

The really bizarre thing that I noticed was that when people came to check on the Willey family, they noticed in the house that their Bible was open to Psalm 18, which reads in part:
"I will love you, LORD. In you I am strong. The LORD is my rock and my fortress. He gives me help. God is my rock. I run and hide in his shadow. He is my shield. He is the one that saves me."

Now I am no religious scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but having read that passage, which is in the Book of Samuel by the way, I would think they had their sign to stay in the house behind the safety of the boulder. But alas they did not know the power of the mud and all nine of them died.

Today 186 years later the legend lives on deep in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The site of the Willey House remains a destination for more than just the Willey family, although I am not quite sure why people would stop there if you aren't a Willey. The house burned down a long time ago but it is commemorated by a plaque showing exactly where the house stood. While its not the most exciting destination, it is kind of cool to see your family being recognized.

It would be nicer though if they were remembered for the way they lived.

By the way another storm of epic proportions blew through here causing equal devastation exactly 185 years to the day. Hurricane Irene brought flooding and mudslides to the area, but there were no Willeys lost that day thank God.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


August 24, 2012

My Penis Tickles

One of the great joys as a parent is seeing and hearing your kids reactions to things. You never quite know what the reaction will be when you do something new. There are times that my kids have absolutely hated certain things and others where they have loved it so much that they want to do it over and over again. Such is the case with the Buccaneer.  If you are not familiar with this ride, it's a pirate ship that rocks back and forth giving you the sense that you are floating.  It goes by many names all across the country.  My boys absolutely love this ride, and I am happy to take them on it, because let's face it who wants to go on the spinning rides?  I love this ride just for their reaction alone.

I mean seriously, who doesn't love that feeling?

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


August 22, 2012

When Did the Magic Stop?

Remember when we could convince our kids that everything was magic?

Whether it was the automatic hand dryers or the sliding doors that open by themselves, I remember when my kids were mesmerized by these sort of things. Not that they would sit there for hours, but watching an automatic revolving door spin was certainly something that was cool to watch, at least for them anyway. It seems as though the only time I could get them to wash their hands was by one of those magical sinks. Everything was magical.

But somewhere along the way the magic stopped.

Washing their hands is no longer the same knowing that there isn't a Devine power turning the water on and off. And going through a door? Well, when you can see that there is a censor opening it, it kind of takes away enjoyment. Now it's just a door instead of a magical portal to another dimension (although you could argue the door to Walmart is a portal to a strange and different world).

We have managed so far to hold onto some of the magical things in life like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, but don't get me started on the last two; I wish they didn't exist. I know it's only a matter of time before they disappear along with the excitement of one of those jet powered hand dryers. Who knows how much longer we have? With Tyler being eight and knowing how kids at school talk there is bound to be a little bit of skepticism starting to creep into his head. I don't know what a life without Santa Claus would be like.

I know things like that are inevitable. It's just a matter of holding onto them as long as we can. I don't want the magic to stop. Seeing the doors close on my children's innocence is a hard thing to deal with sometimes.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


August 17, 2012

AM or PM?

My little guy is finally entering Kindergarten, but as of now I am not excited about it in the least.

While many schools across this country have already started their year, here in my little neck of the woods we don't start until AFTER Labor Day. That I don't have a problem with at all. What I do have a problem with is that it is now August 17th and I have no idea if my son is going to be in morning or afternoon Kindergarten.  Less than three weeks away and I can't make a plan as to what I am going to do with him the in the other half of the day that he is not in school.

What takes so long?

Hard to believe he is going to kindergarten
I remember back in April I had to fill out about 317 pages of redundant nonsense in order for me to register him for school.  Surely sometime in the past four months they could have come to some sort of conclusion as to which kids would be slotted into which time.  There are a total of 36 kids that will be starting Kindergarten in a few weeks, 18 in the morning and 18 in the afternoon, we just don't know which kids are going when.

How are parents supposed to plan their lives this way?

When my oldest son was in Kindergarten I was still working, so we made the choice too keep him in a private school. It was a full day so there really was no need to plan for anything else.  My wife would drop him off at 9:00 and I would pick him up at 3:00. But I am not working anymore so we made the choice to put my youngest in public school, where the day either starts at 8:30 or 12:30.  For me I would rather my son be in morning Kindergarten, but since I AM a stay at home parent I will just make due with what we are given.

While it is a major inconvenience to not know when my son is going to be in school, at least we have the ability to have a parent home the other half of the day.  I don't know how families with two working parents are supposed to manage.  How do you plan for alternate child care if you have no idea when you are going to need it for?  Why does this decision take FOUR MONTHS?

The school knew back in APRIL who was going to start in the fall. A-P-R-I-L!!! It's not like all of these kids are coming from parts of town that they don't already send a bus to.  How hard can it be to split up 36 kids?  We should have been told at the end of the last school year at the very latest where our kids were going to be slotted.

Why has it come to this anyway?

That was me in Kindergarten
Why do we still have half day kindergarten?  I know for a lot of kids going to half day Kindergarten will be less school than they already have been going to.  My sons PRESCHOOL was a full day.  He was in daycare for a full day before that.  And now when he enters the public school system he only goes for a half day?  That makes no sense to me whatsoever.

Maybe it made sense 30 some odd years ago when I was in school, but in this day and age when it seems every kid has gone to some sort of preschool program, the idea of half day Kindergarten just seems so archaic.  I know the whole story about how schools are being forced to cut programs and teachers.  I get it.  I'm not completely opposed to doing that, my property taxes are through the roof.  Certainly somewhere the money can be found to make Kindergarten a priority, because right now, with a school day that is only 2:45 long that doesn't seem to be the case.

I don't know when we will find out what time of day he is going to school, maybe I will get excited for him then.  But in the meantime I just find myself more annoyed than anything.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


August 14, 2012

Dog Poop... Starring Legos

You find a lot of things in your yard when you mow the lawn.  Old small little toys that the kids have lost, some money, last year I even found a snake which was very upsetting.  I do not like snakes at all.  But I can understand a snake, our house backs up to the woods so of course any wildlife will occasionally sneak in.  There is one thing that I don't like to find and that is poop.  I understand that dogs have to go to the bathroom just like you and me, but as a family that doesn't have a pet, poop is the last thing that I would expect.  You have a dog, make it poop in your yard, NOT MINE!

I don't think that is too much to ask.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


August 10, 2012

If I Could Turn Back Time

I am a huge fan of Cher.

Not really but this title totally makes sense. I was asked by Jamie at Chosen Chaos to share a letter to my for 18 year old self. A letter offering myself some advice and a look into my own future. It's funny when you write things like this because you have no idea what made a difference in your life until you really sit down and do it. This originally appeared on her blog and she asked all of us that participated, to link up and share it with our own audience. If you want to read everyone else's, feel free to click on the link that follows my letter. Without further ado, I bring you my letter to myself.

Hey Buddy,

You don't know me, at least not yet anyway, but I certainly know you. I was you 20 years ago. Damn I don't like the sound of that, it makes me feel old. Anyway, you are so naive. Look at you, your 18 years old now and you haven't even been on an airplane. There is so much for you to find out about this world and in only five short years, you most certainly will.

You think you are all cool being on all of these Intramural Championship teams at college, but you have to stop. Nobody cares about your T shirts and they most certainly won't after you graduate from college. My first bit of advice is to ditch them right after you graduate and go and buy yourself some new clothes. Those shoes you are wearing, you will soon find out they most certainly DON'T impress the ladies. I know know Pumas go in and out of style but not with giant holes in them. There will be this girl in a couple of years that you will try to impress, and you can't get it done with those shoes. Oh while we are at it, DON'T go to Payless, it doesn't work that way. I tried.

Listen, if I was able to relive the time that you are in now, I wouldn't take it for granted. College is the best four years of your life and you will NEVER experience anything like that again. LIVE IT UP!!! Don't get me wrong we had fun, but it goes fast, savor it!

So I mentioned a girl. There is actually one that is going to start stalking you this year. Be afraid, she doesn't give up.

But I am not talking about that one, it's the one that is going to notice your footwear. You will cross her path the day before Easter 1996. THAT day is the day where you will finally start to live. No longer will your only thoughts be about sports, sportscenter, and anything sports related. It won't matter that you have no game with the ladies, something natural is going to happen. A relationship is going to blossom and you are going to have no idea what is going on. I'll let you in on a little secret, it's love. You are going to be friends for a couple of months, although your every waking minute is going to be spent with her, and then on her birthday your relationship will change. It's going to get deeper, more meaningful and magical. That sounds like a stupid term but I really have no other way to describe it.

Little Johnny, you will have found the girl you are going to marry.

I know it's only four short years away, but that is the amazing thing in life, anything can happen, JUST LIKE THAT. Oh you'll have your ups and downs with this girl like anything in life, but you will weather the storm and end up with two awesome kids.

Hard to believe huh? Here you are sitting in your dorm room trying to figure out how to use your Mac Classic and I am telling you from my iMac (it's like your computer on steroids) that you are going to be a dad. Some would consider you the worlds greatest dad, well at least two little kids will. By the way, Apple will go out of favor but trust me, you won't believe what they have cooked up for the future. Lets just say you can ditch that old Sega you and the boys spend countless hours playing hockey on.

A bit of advice with the kids thing though, don't go out and buy the Legos right away. Wait until your oldest is at least five. Trust me, I have a house full of them right now and I could kick myself for it. But I tell though, they make for great blog fodder.

What's a blog?

It's this thing on the internet, you know that thing with the dot com at the end of it? Well everyone writes there own little articles everyday telling the world how great they are and what a perfect parent they are. They are quite amazing. I have learned the most from people that don't seem to know what they are doing. Speaking of the internet, buy some stocks and then sell them before 2000. Trust me, you won't have to work a day in your life.

As for that airplane ride, your senior year you are going to Jamiaca. Congrats! Just a bit of warning though, you will smoke something that will make you think you are dead and then come back to life. You are not Jesus and you never will be. Don't start up with that nonsense. People will think you are nuts. Don't you even dare think that you will walk on water. It was pot, thats all, nothing else.

Don't be an idiot.

All the best,

The Ghost of Johnny Future.


John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


August 6, 2012

Disney A to Z (Buses and Boats)

One of the things that you need to take into account when traveling to Disney World is transportation.  For us we never rent a car because we know that we can rely on the Disney transportation system.  Now I know that staying on the property is not an option for everyone, while it is the most Magical place on Earth it certainly is not the cheapest. Although there are reasonable resorts on the property that give you access to some things you might not have thought about like discounted tickets and exclusive park access.

More on those in a later post.

Unfortunately the stroller needs to be folded on the bus
One thing we like to know about the hotel we are staying at is the transportation options to the various parks.  If we are staying near Epcot we know that we are going to have to take a bus to get to the Magic Kingdom. If we stay near the Magic Kingdom we can either walk, take a boat, or ride the monorail.  But then we will have to take a bus to get to Epcot. Each has their advantages.  If you are a family of four with two strollers taking a bus late at night with two sleeping kids is not always the best option.  It's one of the reasons we don't stay at a resort like Animal Kingdom Lodge where the bus is the only option. If you have to fold up your strollers, it's not very easy to carry everything, especially if one of those is one of those oversized double strollers that we had.  If you can just roll onto a monorail or boat it makes it much easier.

The transportation system works great.  

They fall asleep at the wrong time
It might not seem like it at the end of the night when the kids are having a meltdown, everyone has one so don't worry that your kid is screaming that they don't want to leave, but the buses are pretty efficient.  The lines can get long when you are leaving the park, so take that into account when you are making a mad dash after the fireworks.  You don't need to worry though, you will eventually get back to your hotel where the kids will be sleeping and you can crash.

Life is better on a boat
We like taking the boats when possible. Vacation feels better when you are riding a boat.  We seem to always stay at either Beach Club Resort or The Boardwalk. They are connected to Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot by a boat. The Dolphin and The Swan are also nearby so if you don't feel like making the quick walk to any of them feel free to use the boat. You can also take boats from places like Port Orleans or Old Key West to Downtown Disney or from Wilderness Lodge to the Magic Kingdom.  I would be tempted to just ride the boats all day if my kids didn't want me to go to the parks with them.

The transportation system might sound confusing but it is always easy to find.  Whether you are leaving your hotel to get to the parks or leaving the parks to get back to your hotel, you can be sure that you will get there.  No one that I know of has ever been stranded on the side of the road without a way to get back to where they were going. 

Of course you could just rent a car and drive to the parking lot of the park or to the transportation center. That would make traveling that much easier for you, but I will tell you in a future post why you might not want to do that.  

Too bad you can't take one of these

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


August 3, 2012

Disney A to Z (Age)

It's a question I hear a lot, "What is the right age to take my kids to Disney." I never know how to answer that because we started taking both of our kids at around four months old. It worked for us, because WE wanted to be there. Is that selfish of us? Maybe, but there really isn't much you can't do at Disney with a four moth old. They can go on a lot of the rides, except obviously rides like Space Mountain, and even then if YOU want to go on that ride you certainly can by yourself.

A four month old might be a bit extreme, I know. The only reason why you would take them there, aside from wanting to go yourself, is to get some pictures with the characters. Perhaps it makes a cute Christmas card.

But as they get older, that's where the real fun starts.

Once my kids were able to walk and actually interact with the characters Disney became a whole new place. I can vividly remember going there when Tyler was around 18 months old, he was a huge fan of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, so he knew all of the characters like they were his best friends. We went to a character greeting in Epcot and the boy was sprinting between Mickey and Minnie and the gang, he was in heaven. Is this something that he will remember? Absolutely not, but it is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I know a lot of people that won't take their kids to Disney until they can fully understand and remember everything. I can certainly understand that, but at EVERY age there is something new. Whether its new rides, or new attractions that appeal to them, every time that we have gone it seems like Disney has changed. The boys aren't so much into the characters anymore like they used to be, but there are new rides that they can go on. Space Mountain is now something that Tyler can ride on and is very much looking forward to in the fall.

There might be certain windows that you have to take into account.  Are your kids going to be too old to want to see all the characters, or are they going to be too young to go on all the rides and remember everything.  For us the characters were such a huge part of our lives, I would be devastated if we went later in our kids lives that they didn't enjoy that at ll.

So as far as age is concerned, it is completely up to you. We were never worried that the kids wouldn't remember anything because when it came down to it, we did. So much of the joy of going to Disney as a parent is seeing your kids reactions to things. Over the years I have seen my kids go from those excited little babies meeting characters for the first time, to excited little boys going on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad for the first time.

Was four months old a little early? Maybe for some people, but I'm glad that we did it.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


August 2, 2012

Disney A to Z

We've been to Disney a lot. It's been well documented here. Some of my most popular posts have been Disney related. I by no means consider myself an expert about Disney (I couldn't tell the difference between all of the Princesses if you asked me) but I have been there enough to offer my two cents.

Everyone has an opinion about Disney, about where to stay, when to go, how old the kids should be, all the way to which line to be in on certain rides. I can offer you my experiences and you can take from it what you want. For the entire month of August, and who knows it could run into September or October as well depending on how often my kids let me write, I am going to break Disney down from A to Z.

Let me be clear from the start though, I will not be able to get to everything that you need to know. It's good to know what you are getting into when planning a trip to Disney, but you don't want to over plan it. So some things I will leave for you to discover on your own. That's part of the fun right?

My oldest claims to have been to Disney 20 times.  That includes Disney World, Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris.  You get the idea he is spoiled.  We have found ways to make Disney less expensive than it needs to be.  There are obviously ways that you can do Disney on a budget but I am going tell you some that you might not have thought of.  We obviously go to Disney a lot, so what works for us might not necessarily work for someone who can only afford to go once in their lifetime.  Disney is obviously NOT cheap, but there are ways to make it work.

That being said, if you are making the commitment to go to Disney, why not do it right? That's why I am here to help. Hopefully I can offer you some answers to questions that you might have and give you some tips based on my experiences.  Tune in in the next month and hopefully I can get this project done.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?