Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .

Category: Kids (page 1 of 5)

Bella and the Wish

letters, Christmas, Santa, children


This past October took I took a ride to the Deerfield Candle Factory with Pamela and our Australian friends Maureen and Mark.
The place was decked out in the traditional Christmas array of sights, sounds and scents.
It’s a magical place and if you have the time to get there before December 25th, I highly recommend that you do.
There’s even a nighttime Bavarian Village lit by vintage flickering streetlamps where it snows every 4 minutes.
It’s a place filled with secret wishes, sugarplum dreams, amazing tree ornaments and obviously every imaginable scented candle you
could ever dream of including, ‘Brown Paper Packages’ and ‘First Down’,
a mancandle that may possibly smell of broken NFL dreams and dirty jock straps, or not.
The ‘Man Candles’ gave me much in the pause department: Riding Mower, 2X4 and Mantown?
No Super Sweaty Golf Balls?
And lastly the weirdest 2 candles (to me) were ‘Whiskers on Kittens’ and ‘Schnitzel and Noodles’.
Don’t bogart that joint my friend, pass it over to me.
What the hell do whiskers smell like and how would they actually make that scent?
Be on the lookout for my own list of the top 10 rejected Yankee Candle Scents.

Turns out that this post isn’t about candle scents and snowflakes it’s about the letter that you see at the top of my post.
A good portion of the DCF caters to children during the Christmas season and I happened to walk by a corkboard filled with letters written by children of all ages to the holiday machine we created and called ‘Kris Kringle’.
Most letters were as you would suspect:

“Dear Santa,
Please bring me an Xbox 360 with at least 2 games and a new Nano Ipod because I lost mine.
An Ipad would be great but I won’t count on that. My parents are too cheap to buy me one.
Say hi to Rudolph for me. And I promise to leave you cookies and milk this year.
I love you!”


“Dear Santa, Hi! How are you? How are your reindeer doing?
What are you doing in the North Poal? I am so ecxited about Chrismas.
I woud like a CD player and a Gameboy Advance and a backpack.
by Ann”

Let me see if I got this right;
Bella doesn’t want anything for herself,
She wants happiness for her Mom because her Dad is a jerk,
She wants happiness for her family,
And she wants Santa to make her cousin Chrystal’s life better.
This little girl ‘gets’ the holiday while the world goes on not even taking notice of this most simple prayer.
And yes, it is a most vibrant Christmas prayer.

We are bombarded on a daily basis with commercials, videos, signs, radio commercials, TV commercials
and pop-ups on our computers telling us to be happy because that’s what this season is all about.
Where the hell did we go wrong?
This little girl sent me a  personal message in the most innocent of ways telling me that this most blessed of holidays
is not about acquiring the most expensive of gifts.
It’s not about the stuff under the tree.
It’s about the people AROUND the tree that make the difference.
Right now, this little girl doesn’t have that.
Her letter made me cry inside because it was absolutely true.
This disjointed familial stuff pervades our society and the world at large.
A happy holiday?
Maybe for some.
Sadly, not for all.
Try to see through the commercial glitz and glamour of a holiday that has literally spiraled out of control in terms of meaning and substance.
Get away from the artificial joyful noise and the constant jingle bells where you will hopefully arrive at a place where your heart can be happy without the need for the stuff that the Media says you need to be happy.

For me?
I want BellaM to get every single thing on her list this year.
Maybe even a pony for good measure.
I will say a prayer for her on Christmas Eve even though I don’t even know her.
And I will pray she gets love.
Stockings full of love.
How about you?
just saying . . .


you and me


As life chugs steadily along it never ceases to amaze me
how many small pieces of our lives get shoved away like so many broken summer fans,
once treasured baseball cards and small gifts and such that meant so much at the time of the giving.
From the books we once started and never finished, to the phone calls we were supposed to make but never did,
to all the relationships we took for granted,
we get caught up with life; be it day to day, night by night, or dawn to sunset.
We are all guilty of this innocent abandonment of connection with the things we once considered ‘golden’.
What amazes me is that this purely human phenomenon  happens without our consent or recognition.
I become aware of it when and old friend calls me out of the blue or I hear a particular old song on the radio.
My mind is jarred and my brain gets pickled in a way that makes me realize that I have all but forgotten ‘the old me’.

So, here I am looking at a new beginning of sorts with the love of my life.
We will be picking up from where we left port so many oceans ago.
Our rare romantic dinners were filled with conversations about our three girls, their dreams,
wishes and ultimately our plans to try like hell to help them get there.
Those numerous transient conversations were never about us,
never about Michael and Pamela and how ‘they’ were doing.
I like to think that we were confident enough to know that nothing was being lost in talking about the girls.

I loved her.

She loved me.

It was an unspoken thing.

And I bought dinner. (always)

I don’t say all this in a dark and stormy ‘my-daughters-took-my-wife-away-from-me’ kind of way.
Life happens.
Children are born.
And more children are born.
Priorities are established and life continues on . . .  in a different way.
I guess what I’m really trying to say here is that I was blessed to be married to a woman
that could see the same pictures of life as me.
That doesn’t happen to many people, hence the alarming divorce rate, perhaps.
Our priorities were exactly the same.
Maybe that’s why my Pamela is still the best friend I could ever hope for.
I may even go so far as to say that she still ‘melts my butter’ and truth be told she heals the tattered soul in me.
Although she doesn’t even know it.
That is the beauty of ‘her’.
She just doesn’t know, never has, never will.
I want her to run away with me very soon because I want to tell her how much I have missed ‘us‘.
I think we have succeeded in raising three incredibly awesome daughters.
But now it’s time for M&P.
Destiny is a crazyass thing and what’s done is done and I pray we‘ve done right.
But maybe now is the beginning of the best part of our lives.
As long as I have my true companion, I think I’m gonna be alright.
Actually, I know I’m going to be alright. . .

3 Musketeers

On the eve of my daughter Hannah graduating High School,
I am a bit melancholy.
Maybe it’s because I know that life is going to change again for me, my wife and the girls.
Maybe it’s because my three daughters have almost all but left the ‘nest’ that was (and always will be) their home.
Maybe it’s because this event makes me realize that no matter how much I wanted to slow down the tick of the clock, slow down the lazy, hazy summers when I had all three of them to myself, pushing them on swings and endlessly enjoying the rides in the ‘StoryLand’ of their dreams, that time was not something I could ever control.
They just keep growing, like flowers in a distant and beautiful Spring meadow; a place I will always try to dream of.
I miss those days of innocence and sense of landing.
It was firm ground back then.
I had them.
They had me.
We all had home.
These days, I am a different kind of Dad that’s trying hard to answer different kinds of questions.
More complex questions than I had originally hoped for.
While my three stars are searching the galaxy for their corner of the sky, I hope and pray they find their
True North.
The world will be a better place because of them.
I just know it.
I could never ask for more than that.
Me and Pam are proud as a peacocks.
For today, leviathan congratulations to my little feisty one, Hannah. [Mark is proud]
Just know that all of you are but nebulae; stars that are just beginning to shine.
And 3 Musketeers?
My favorite candy bar . . .

love you all,

Strange days are totally Googlable

Google, post card, weird news

With hundreds of red-winged blackbirds falling dead out of the sky in Louisiana,
more tornadoes than the NOAA can count,
earthquakes the magnitudes of which the world has never seen,
tropical cyclones that can only be classified as deadly and a massive oil spill that was the worst
environmental disaster of all time, I thought it was high time for some good news.
Some funny news.
Maybe even some fake and made up news.
Anything but the bullshit the media gives us.
Just scanning the web I found a number of interesting stories.
Thank you Google.

Like THIS one.
Heartwarming and true.

Or THIS one.
Not so heartwarming but probably true.

Or THIS one.
Not heartwarming at all but damn funny in a very dark and Pan’s Labyrinth kind of way.

There, you feel better already, yes?
And no, I am not getting up at 3AM to watch the Royal Wedding.
I need my beauty sleep, for God’s sake . . .


Supernatural Jenna

It was 20 years ago tonight that my wife elbowed me at 1:30 in the morning saying,
“My water just broke. Get some sleep.”
Get some sleep?
Yeah, right.
I called Pamela’s mom and told her to come over immediately (to watch a sleeping 3 year-old Sarah)
and it wasn’t soon after that we were changed and in my silver Datsun 210 on the way to the hospital.
It was cold as hell and my brakes were grinding to the metal.
Pamela thought we would never make it to Hannemann Hospital.
We did.
At 8:11AM (2.7.90) Pamela gave birth to our second daughter, Jenna.
Tomorrow afternoon we will have a house full of family and Jenna’s college friends
and more Chinese food than you can shake a stick at.
We will also be watching some Supernatural episodes (Jenna’s favorites, methinks)
We will basically have our own ‘Supernatural Bowl’.
Could be much better than the actual Super Bowl itself.  (no Dean)
Happy birthday, Jen.
Mom and I love you and your sisters more than you will ever know.
Have a ‘supernatural’ day, okay?
Here’s a Supernatural gag reel that you may not have seen.
See you tomorrow afternoon, kiddo.


23 years ago today, a very special little girl came into our lives.
I’ve always loved this song and dedicate it to my Sarah.
Love you always, kiddo.
And yeah, Thad Jones rocks.


Texting while driving

The following is a Public Service Announcement that was done in the UK.
It is graphic, violent and bloody.
I post this for anyone with children driving these days.
I have three daughters and they will undoubtedly watch this.
If it saves one life, it will have been well worth the post.
And if you think for one minute that this isn’t happening, you are KIDDING yourself.
Talk to your children.
God only knows how much I love mine.
Technology giveth and technology taketh away.
Please don’t let it be the latter.
Please view this video with caution.

Malarky Monday 3

Malarky Monday, altar boy, funny, truth

‘Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I have been with a loose girl.’
The priest asks,
‘Is that you, little Joey Pagano ?’

‘Yes, Father, it is.’

‘And who was the girl you were with?’

‘I can’t tell you, Father. I don’t want to ruin her reputation.’

“Well, Joey, I’m sure to find out her name sooner or later. Was it Tina Minetti?’

‘I cannot say.’

‘Was it Teresa Mazzarelli?’

‘I’ll never tell.’

‘Was it Nina Capelli?’

‘I’m sorry, but I cannot name her.’

‘Was it Cathy Piriano?’

‘My lips are sealed.’

‘Was it Rosa DiAngelo, then?’

‘Please, Father, I cannot tell you.’

The priest sighs in frustration.

‘You’re very tight lipped, and I admire that. But you’ve sinned and have to atone.
You cannot be an altar boy now for 4 months. Now you go and behave yourself.’

Joey walks back to his pew, and his friend Franco slides over and whispers
‘What’d you get?’

‘Four months vacation and five good leads.’


*Here’s a classic example of an


One more for the road:

Happy MM, folks.
Seize the day by whatever means are available!

Please visit my fellow Malarkers for a hoot and a toot!


And they flew

“Come to the edge.”
“We can’t, we are afraid.”

“Come to the edge.”
“We can’t, we will fall.”

“Come to the edge.”

And they came.
And He pushed them.

And they flew.

~G. Apollinaire

Graduation ’09 is done and dusted but the torrential rain of emotions put Pamela and I through the proverbial ringer.
As we both sat outside the other night mesmerized by the roaring firepit she quietly said,
“Things are changing again.”
When things change, a subtle discomfort settles in.
For as happy and proud as we were for Sarah, we also share her sense of trepidation, a subject not many people talk about.
But it’s there in every single family attending a graduation.
After the ceremony we had an old fashioned BBQ back at the house with burgers, hot dogs and salads galore.
There was laughter and music, beer and cigars, goodbyes and tears when roommates and friends had to leave.
Later that day, Pamela, myself and the girls went to move the remainder of Sarah’s belongings from her room and let her say goodbye to her college high atop Mt. Saint James.
As I waited by my truck for Sarah to come out of her dorm for the last time,
I looked around at the ivy-covered buildings that had occasionally surrounded me over the past 4 years.
My own sadness at saying goodbye leaving the comfort of this place surprised me.
Thank God for sunglasses.
It was quiet in the car on the way home with everyone lost in their own thoughts.
I thought about a large Monarch butterfly I’d seen in the air that morning as I listened to the list of graduates being read.
It flew gracefully down towards the moving sea of black mortarboards below disappearing amidst the caps and gowns; almost like it was going home.
For Sarah, another class has already started as of tonight.
She must want stronger wings . . .


To look at it, you would think it was just another normal boy’s bicycle but I knew better.
It was an off-brand that my father bought at an old store in town and I so loved it.
Can’t remember the name for the life of me but it was mostly fireball red and the fenders
had a bit of white detailing on the tips that made the overall effect one of ‘daredevil’ proportions.
It had a really cheesy gold sparkle banana seat, nicely padded for overall shock absorption.
The highlight was the handle grips which were a neon orange with black tiger stripes and tiger heads on the ends. Yeah, this was one serious machine, to me anyway.

I drove it everywhere: around the neighborhood, into the center of town, to the baseball field, the high school, my multiple girlfriends’ houses, the fruit stand for a classic Coke and a bag of State Line Cheese popcorn –
there wasn’t anyplace this thing wouldn’t go.
We used to build ramps to practice catching a little bit of airtime
and rode ‘sans’ hands whenever there were girls around.
We were daredevils and would try almost anything that gravity would allow.
You were nothing without your bike.
These days, you’re nothing without your FaceBook or MySpace page.
Funny how things change . . .

One day we decided to race down Harvard Street, a road right next to my house.
It had a bit of a downward slope and was an unforgivable gravel with asphalt road, rough as a lizard’s skin.
During the summer days we never had to worry about cars driving down the road because our fathers were all working and our Moms were at home doing whatever it was that Moms did.
We started at the top of Harvard Street and the first one to go all the way down,
around the cul-de-sac and back up to the top was the winner.
40+ years ago, the street seemed to go on for days.
I mean this was one long ass drag strip.
In reality, if I were to drive my truck down and up it today it would take all of about one minute.
At 15 M.P.H.

Someone yelled, “Ready? On your mark! Get set! Go!”

Off I went past the Gilbert’s house, whizzed by the Masterson’s, flew by the Pelletier’s before seeing the cul-de-sac ahead of me.
I was clearly in the lead and didn’t bother to slow down going into the nasty cul-de-sac.
The last thing I remember is hitting a patch off sand as my trusty bike slid out from under me.
My left forearm hit the asphalt as the rough road began chewing off my pieces of my skin.
My bike was wrecked and my left forearm and knee were bleeding profusely.
I left my poor and once awesome bike in the road and ran home in a bloody mess.
Winning would have been nice that day but having the skin back on my forearm would have been much nicer.
This was the day I learned and took to heart the phrase, “Winning isn’t everything.”
I omitted the last half of it for my own psychological benefit.
I did get another bike but it would never be the same.
Maybe that was part of growing up that I hadn’t counted on . . .

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