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Friday, September 28, 2012 27 comments

You Know You're a Parent When...(#11)


What, Papa?
When you’re raising three boys under the age of six, time flyeth before ye knoweth. Wow… Here’s the eleventh installment of my monthly “You Know You’re A Parent When…” series.

You can find the most recent here and here – and I promise everything happened, and it’s all based on my daily life as a happily married stay-at-home Dad J

Quick! Grab on, here we go....You know you’re a parent when…

·         You decide to write a 15-part weekly series on how training for a marathon can be like writing a book. Great idea, but where exactly is this extra writing time coming from – your arse?

·         You master the power of patience. This Zen-level of awareness was recently achieved when No. 1 Son said he, “peed on the toilet.”

“No, Son,” said you, the Dad/Writer, putting a pen behind your ear in a mad-professorial way, “It’s not on the toilet, it’s in the toilet.”

“Nuh uh, I pee-peed on the toilet, Papa.”

You smile at the child, [still] enjoying this teaching moment.

“Think about it, Son. You pee inside the toilet because the lid is up and the pee-pee goes inside,” you say, crouching down like (old) sitting tiger, “the only way you could pee on the toilet is when both lids are down.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you, Papa. I peed on the toilet!”


·         The kids are sleeping.

The laundry is piling

The Elmo sheets are a-foldin’

(And it’s all good, ‘cos)

The ‘80s are a-rockin’


Cover of Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Jae Lee.
·         You finish changing the baby and bound downstairs with a spare diaper in your side pocket.
As you traverse the dangerous Pocoyo and Lego-strewn “walkway” to the kitchen, you realize that while you may never be Roland the Gunslinger, you can, by gosh, claim rights to Papa the Kidslinger as No. 3 Son moves from hip to hip or side to side with nary a cry or squeal.

·         You [nearly] poop your pants while at the weekly Moms (and Dad) morning playroom event at the community center.

Scanning the room to verify presence of all three sons, No. 2 Son (who is two-and-a-half) is nary to be found.

It’s a *large* open room, so he can’t be hiding, so where is he?

Putting the smartphone down… (oh yeah, you feel smart now checking your blog… smart as a wet paper bag) you stand up as the Papa Kidslinger instincts fire up.

Slowly, you scan the room again… he’s wearing solid red… there’s about thirty kids, twenty parents… take your time…

Oh gosh, (I may have said a stronger word…) where is he?

No. 1 Son is painting, No. 3 is sleeping…

OK… move toward the front door…. Scanning, turning… out into the lobby…

There is a meeting going on…open door… you barge right in there… “sorry, looking for my son…”

He’s not there.

You look at the door to THE OUTSIDE and there is no way

(is there??)

that he could have gotten OUTSIDE…

You turn around, back into the main, open area… walking slowly… dry mouth…

Real panic starts to bubbliciously announce its arrival when one of the moms opposite where you sat waves.

“He’s over here – in the little (dollhouse-style play) tent.”

He was not on the tent, he was in the tent… the flat-on-the-ground tent where he had crawled into (less than twenty feet from me) to play with some plastic dinosaurs.

(Thank you, Lord.)

“Thank you, ma’am.”

“No problem. I noticed him crawling in the tent, and when I saw the look on your face, I put two and two together.”

I lifted the flat opening of the flat tent…

“Son, what... where, what are you doing in there?”

“Dinosayers! In the tunnel, rook Papa. Rook at my dinosayers. In the tunnel!


Moral of the story: We ain’t buyin’ no stinkin’ dollhouse tents in this house J

Papa? Where's my tent, Papa?

Monday, September 24, 2012 33 comments

The Final Flight of Major Tom

It was the second week of December 1965 and 28-year-old Carol Reitmann stood in the middle of the Christmas tree lot, gazing at a leaning forest of noble firs.
Her five-month-old daughter squirmed in her arms while her other three children; six, five and three circled around her.
Tears streamed down Carol’s face, alarming an attendant who jumped in to offer some help.
“Don’t cry lady, I’ll help you find a tree.”

If only picking a Christmas tree was the cause of her heartache, she thought, thinking back a week to when she locked herself in the car after seeing the Wing Commander, his wife, the base doctor and the Catholic Chaplain striding through the parking lot.

“No, no, don’t come over here,” she said, thinking that if they couldn’t get to her, they couldn’t tell her anything. They tried the doors, pounded on the windows, but Carol ignored them. The first drops of an ocean’s worth of tears formed in her eyes, eyes that looked back in disbelief as the rearview mirror shook while someone yanked again on the car door handle.
Finally, she pulled the lock open. Gently, someone asked her to move over and she was driven home without another word spoken.

“He’s dead, isn’t he,” Carol said, already knowing the truth, but not the details.
“We’re not sure, but it doesn’t look good.”

Nothing would look good to Carol Reitmann for a long time.

Air Force Capt. Thomas E. Reitmann
Her husband, then-U.S. Air Force Capt. Thomas E. Reitmann was flying a strike mission as the number three aircraft in a flight of four F-105D Thunderchiefs as part of Operation Rolling Thunder over the skies of North Vietnam.

Reitmann’s target was a railroad bridge located about forty-five nautical miles northeast of Hanoi. As the aircrew approached the target area, they encountered extremely heavy and accurate anti-aircraft artillery (AAA). While attempting to acquire his target and release his ordnance, Reitmann received a direct AAA hit and crashed in Lang Son Province.

Other pilots in the flight observed no parachute, and no signals or emergency beepers were heard. Due to the intense enemy fire in the area, a search-and-rescue team was unable to survey the site and a two-day electronic search found no sign of the aircraft or Reitmann.

Initially lost in grief, Carol had little energy to waste on pity parties for one, so she regrouped and focused on the needs of her two boys and two girls. In 1971, she met a young man by the name of Bill Sumner who along with his roommates and their girlfriends “took me in like a little sister.”

When Tom (who was promoted to major while listed as missing in action) was officially declared killed in action seven and a half years after his fighter jet crashed, the friendship between Bill, who was now single, evolved into “better friends” until one day he asked Carol if she would marry him.

“What? Marry you?” Carol asked.

“Yes,” replied a now-worried Bill.

“Of course I will,” said a smiling Carol, who still appreciates how Bill took on the role of Dad to four young children.

“He lived through all the angst of their teenage years – in the ‘70s, no less,” she said. “I don’t know how he did it, but he’s still with me.”

As the years passed and the children grew into adulthood, Carol and Bill settled into a comfortable life of work and travelling (together, they’ve visited dozens of countries) and the couple, who were foster parents for a number of years, still volunteer in the local community and sponsor five small children in several poor countries.

Although Tom was never forgotten, Carol never expected that after more than forty-five years, she and her family would ever have the chance to say goodbye via a traditional funeral.

That is, until she got a phone call in May 2011 from Allen Cronin, who was calling from Dover, Delaware.
Cronin told her that thanks to the tireless work of the men and women working at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, which is, in a twist of fate, based only minutes from where Carol and Bill live in Honolulu, Hawaii, Tom’s remains had been found in 2009 and had been positively identified using mitochondrial DNA samples provided years earlier by Tom’s brother, Ed.

“A Vietnamese farmer, working in his cornfield, found some bones and he could have easily thrown them away – but he didn’t. I will be forever grateful to this man and his family, and hope one day that Bill and I can visit over there to thank him personally,” Carol said.
Cronin, who works for the U.S. Air Force Mortuary Affairs, spent months coordinating every detail of the transfer of remains including a full military funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Adorned with an American flag, Tom’s remains were placed in a casket alongside a full, pressed major’s uniform.

His final journey entailed several flights and changes of aircraft. On each occasion, Carol, Bill and other family members were escorted off and on the plane by crew members and watched as numerous Delta ground crew personnel, many of them military veterans, handled the casket with the utmost respect.

During the transition, family members were given a final opportunity to privately view the remains. Karen, the youngest daughter, was only six weeks old when Tom left for Vietnam, so she obviously doesn’t remember him, said her mother.
But now, at last, Karen was able to physically reach out and touch her biological father.
“She took a piece of shin bone and pressed it close to her heart,” said Carol. “Her husband then took a picture. That, for me, is one of the most poignant memories of a journey filled with many, many touching moments.”

Maj. Thomas Edward Reitmann, 34, was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery on Sept. 8, 2011. Former pilots and colleagues, now in their late seventies and eighties, sat next to three generations of Reitmanns and Sumners – including Bill, who had wondered if he should even attend?
“I told him not to be silly, said Carol, “and then the kids told him ‘Dad, if you don’t go, neither will we.’”

Today, Carol is a firecracker of a 75-year-old who “finally stopped coloring my hair as I suppose I should start to look my age.” She's writing a book about the people who’ve helped shape her life, and enjoys sharing her love of reading with her 12-year-old grandson.
“I’m grateful to have had seven great years with Tom, and I’m very happy that Bill has stood by my side through all our adventures,” she said, looking away and back in time for a moment. “God blessed me with two wonderful husbands, which makes me one lucky woman.”
Carol Sumner

Friday, September 21, 2012 23 comments

POW/MIA DAY: You Are *NOT* Forgotten


There is a picture on my wall, next to a case of autographed baseballs.

It shows the smiling face of a young U.S. Army Major by the name of Dick Winters.

When people ask me who he is, and why he's there, I tell them that the stuff I collect from baseball stars is nice, but my heroes are people like Maj. Winters, the original C.O. of Easy Company (of Band of Brothers fame.)

In 2011, Maj. Winters passed away close to his family farm in Hershey, PA. The same, however, cannot be said for the 83,414 service members who are officially listed as Missing In Action (as of Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2012.)

Today is National POW/MIA Recognition Day, which is observed every year on the third Friday in September. It honors those who were prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action.

With events planned throughout the country, I think none will be more poignant than the one hosted by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, to honor our Nation’s heroes at a special ceremony here on O'ahu. (Above is a two-minute video with an oversight of what JPAC does.)

Under the U.S. Pacific Command, with more than 450 joint military and civilian personnel, JPAC continues its search for the 83,414 Americans missing from past conflicts.

More than eighty-three thousand...

More than the entire city of Danbury, CT.

As we planned our wedding in 2004, my wife asked if I was OK with having a POW/MIA Missing Man Table at our reception.
I'd never heard of it, but once she explained the meaning of the table, I got goosebumps and immediately said yes.
If you've never heard of the POW/MIA Missing Man Table, here is an amazing three-minute video explaining it better than I ever could - especially on a day like this:

This coming Monday, I will post a special interview with Carol Reitmann Sumner.

On Dec. 1, 1965, her husband, then U.S. Air Force Cpt. Thomas Reitmann was shot down over Vietnam.

Forty-six years - and a lifetime - later, Carol received the call she never expected to receive in her lifetime. A stranger's voice, calling from Dover AFB, said, "Ma'am, we've identified remains of your husband."

I hope you can drop by Monday as Carol shares the final journey of Maj. Reitmann whose remains travelled from a field in Vietnam to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Finally, do you have someone in the military?

Give them a hug or a call today. Tell them they are loved and appreciated. This one-minute video says it all, without saying a word...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 35 comments

60 Days out: Save The Date - Nov. 19, 2012


There is coming a unique Blogfest

It may not be the largest, or the best,

You may laugh 'til your toes curl,

Hopefully you won't cry -- or hurl,

Linky opens Nov. 19 I not, er, jest

                                              SWEET LOOKING BUTTON TO BE INSERTED HERE

                                             (but until then, please enjoy the view :)

Sunset at the O Club, JBPHH, HI, May 2012
Monday, September 17, 2012 57 comments

Genre Favorites Blogfest: Crime & Political Thrillers


Today is Alex's Genre Favorite's Blogfest, which I perchieve, perchance as a great way to kick off a Monday.

You can join, or find more details by clicking the Blue link.
My favorite genre, in any medium, is thrillers -- especially crime and political stories.

While this makes me appear to be one boring, Neanderthal-knuckle-scraping dude who lives in a mental Man Cave, I did once (!) have a romance-reading bone in my body... see below... (although I lost the desire to simply read about romance upon entering pub eatery.)


Stephen King (Credit: Shane Leonard)

Though some may scorn the commercial fiction works of authors such as Tom Clancy, Stephen King and John Grisham, it’s their books I (have) turn(ed) to when I want to escape to my imagination, whether aboard a U.S. Navy ship, under a drain in Derry or inside a Mississippi courtroom.



(Why anyone would want to escape to a raucous courtroom, a sinking submarine or clown around in a Maine drain is another tale...)
For crime thrillers, I love Dennis Lehane and his ongoing series with those wonderfully flawed characters Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro.



Now, when it comes to guilty pleasures, I love, love, love memoirs.
Partly, because WIP is a memoir I’m co-writing, but it’s also fascinating to hear the voice of other memoirists, and it’s very motivational for me to read about the struggles of others and know that Donald Braswell’s story is as important as ever.

Are we still on the guilty stuff?
We are?

I’m a voracious reader, so if there’s no book around, I’ve been known to read the ingredients on the shampoo and conditioner bottles and the toothpaste tubes (did you know how little fluoride is actually in a tub of adult toothpaste… less than three percent... it’s shocking :)
In that vein, one genre I used to read, (there was few other choices growing up in Ireland,) was my mom’s bodice-ripping romances, which led to me reading a *lot* of Catherine Cookson, Barbara Taylor Bradford and Jackie Collins.
Jackie Collins (L) and Ann Margaret

Those ladies certainly knew how to spin a tale and totally helped me ask many awkward “What does 'thrust' and 'moaned deeply' mean?” questions while at the kitchen table.

PS: Thanks, Alex for making me write about bodice-ripping and Catherine Cookson in one sentence…
Where do I go to surrender my ManCard?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 25 comments

9/11 - Memories of a Former Foreigner

(I'm "reprinting" my first ever post, lest I one day forget why I wrote it.)


The thing I remember most about 9/11 is how selfish I felt - at the very beginning.

September 11th was supposed to be the day I paid my debts and made some serious money. I clearly remember the last thing I said as my balding head hit the soft pillow on the 10th: "Tomorrow is going to be a great day, man, tomorrow is going to be a great day."

Source: Anthony Grimley
Five months prior to 9/11 and new to California, I had met several fellow Irishmen at a pub or six, which networked into an interview with a starched suit who looked me up and down to see if I could sell gold coins.

"I can sell a Yankees hat in Boston, or a Cowboys jersey in New York, surely I can sell a little coin over the phone?" I said, full of the optimism of the uninformed American sports fan.

My new boss didn't really care. I'd earn a bare stipend for a couple of months, and then work on one hundred percent commission, so no skin off his nose.

They call the big investors "whales," and it took five months of living off credit cards to reel two in. One lived in New York; the other was in Jersey. I arranged great deals with both retired men; deals that culminated on Monday the 10th, and happy as a pig in a blanket, I later went for a few drinks with the boys, having promised my whales that they'd receive the official paperwork via fax before noon EST Tuesday.

That's the only reason I was up at 5:50 a.m. PST, but as soon as I saw the plane hit the second tower just after 6 a.m. my time, I knew the deals were done - and so was I. (I had no clue how bad it would be - did anyone?)

I wallowed in pity for about thirty-five minutes until I heard another plane had crashed into the Pentagon. Driving to work in my new, unpaid-for Mustang, I jumped up as far as my seatbelt would allow, and let out a scream of hurt and anger I hope my ears will never again endure.

As an immigrant with naturalization papers in process, I had no doubt that the attack was on my country (I swore in July 3, 2003,) and my people.

In October 2001, I tried joining the USAF, but the recruiter told me a 19-year-old's pay "ain't going to take care of the credit problems belonging to a 31-year-old."

On 9/11, as always, I'll wear my Liz Claiborne WTC shirt that I bought 'cos the Statue of Liberty looks cool in the forefront (it was 2002 before I "saw" the Twin Towers for the first time.) I will also reflect on how I awoke thinking only about me, but ended the day thinking only about "U.S." and the thousands whose lives had been destroyed by hate and fear.

May the good God bless the souls of all those lost on 9/11, and Lord, please continue to protect those who, with a servant's heart, always run into harms way while we scream to get the hell out of there.

Thomas Foley, 32, Rescue 3, FDNY, died in the collapse of Tower 2, WTC, New York, 9.59 am, 9/11/01. RIP

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 43 comments

IWSG: Are You Unfollowing to me?


It’s Insecure Writers Support Group (ISWG) time!

I remember once seeing this Al De Niro movie called “Taxidermist,” and the main character kept asking:

“Are you unfollowing to me?”

I mention this because I recently “lost” a blog follower.

And, I think it’s because I unfollowed them… but I didn’t mean to, (yikes, not only am I insecure, I’m mean, too.)

I'll expunge myself.

I *heart* Blogger for a few reasons, but mainly because I could (can) never figure how to follow writers on the Wordpress operating system thingy.

Let me give you an examination: I subscribe to a post (‘cos I want to follow the comments) and then unsubscribe a few weeks later (‘cos it’s an old post.)

Nothing wrong with that, right? I don’t even read any of my old posts (except one – and then it’s only once a year.)

I’m not sure, but I believe the rat fink Wordpress squeals as soon as I do the afore mentored unsubscribe…

…My Lost Person came from Wordpress – hence my thinking…

Thus, I wonder: Why is it important for us to have followers on every social media known to man?

(Indeed, if I could go one step further, someone should open a place, maybe a coffee shop or a bar, where… well,
"Wouldn't you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,

And they're always glad you came.

You wanna be where you can see,

Our troubles are all the same

You wanna be where everybody knows

Your name."

                                         [Cool, everyone knows your name, but no one “Likes” you.]

Lyrics: source
Ok, I can’t hang out in Cheers all day, so why do I still bleat for my Lost Sheep, er, Peep?

(RELATED: Is the Facebook “LIKE” taking over the world?)

Now, I must admit, with some glee that I do unfollow people on Twitter every week, via a program called Who Unfollowed Me

I enjoy unfollowing people on Twitter ‘cos I want to follow only like-minded writers, or anyone related in our little sliver of the Blogisfear.

This is so confusing – no wonder I have no Pinterest in adding to my like-minded social media worries.
To collision this article, I'm sad I lost a Bluddy (Blog Buddy), but look forward to smite-ing more Twits who, for example, follow me as a way of promoting ACME plumbers in Dust Bowl, Kansas.

(Shirley it’s better that we concentration on how we write and the words we chose...?)

What say you?

Any tips?

PS... IF you tried to click on the "Related News Link" above, please know you are not alone - I did, too... but it's not working.

PPS... (If you laughed at my humerus IWSG musings, please don't forget to "Like" or "Follow" me...

...With your help, I'll one day reach 842 followers :)

This Humerus (Post) Courtesy: pediatric-orthopedics.com

Monday, September 3, 2012 16 comments

14 Sundays to Honolulu (and a Writing Tip!)


Ten years ago I made myself a promise.

I was going to run a marathon a year for ten years starting with 2001 Honolulu Marathon.

This is the second week of a series that follows my journey that ends with the 2012 Honolulu Marathon.

I’m planning to also tie the marathons with my writing, but I can’t think of any comparisons…

(OK, I can, but I'm spreading the wealth... there’s fourteen weeks left and I’ve only done nine marathons, so I’ve got six "extra" weeks  J)

Weekly Training Status Update:
This Week’s Current Weight: 207

Last Week’s Previous Weight: 211

Existing Excuse For Weight Gain: (HA! None needed.)

Miles scheduled: 9
Miles ran: 6
Current Conclusion: I suck

How did I get started was a popular question and it’s all because I wanted to shake up my then-yucky life.

I had a friend called Dennis who died of AIDS in the late 1990’s, so when I researched the various charities who would help volunteers run, I decided to run (raise money) for a Los Angeles-based AIDS research group.

When the hundreds of us met for orientation, we were all asked to run three miles at our own pace. This I did, and found myself in a group of about twelve people from all different backgrounds and ages.

We met as strangers, but as time ran by, we became friends and all but one went on to finish the Honolulu Marathon of 2001.


As mentioned last week, I nearly popped my Achilles tendon and was forced to quit the training, but I did raise the required money for the group, so the main goal was achieved.

Oh... one other, small thing happened after I hurt myself and bailed out of the marathon, but continued running with the group. (I needed to figure out if I wanted to complete a marathon…)

One of our gang, Tracy, invited one of her friends for our Saturday group run.

This friend, Sylvia, ran with us for only three sessions. On the last Saturday, she asked if I wanted to go on a blind date with one of her friends (who liked Irish accents…)

Why not, sounds like fun, and it’s only a blind date, right?

 Sure J

The blind date in Long Beach, Calif., turned into courtship and nearly eleven years later, my wife and I are married more than eight years… and what happened to Sylvia?

Happily married herself, she was the U.S. Army doctor in charge of discharging our third son after he was born here in Honolulu.

Yo, Papa... Your head is so shiny, I need shades!


Next Week: Marathon #1: San Diego, 2002

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