Charlie Brown Christmas - By Darren Pecoraro


When I got to high school, I met friends there I would keep forever, the kind of lifelong friends who saddle you with nicknames hard to shake. As it happens, one of my many nicknames in high-school was Charlie Brown. Perhaps it’s due to my rather large, round head, or maybe I’m just wishy-washy sometimes (I did date a girl named Sally briefly). Whatever the reason, it is one of the names which stuck, along with several derivatives, many of which I couldn’t repeat here. Suffice it to say I’ve been called a blockhead in every imaginable way. Christmas has always been a special time in my family, as it has in many families. I hope you enjoy some of my favorite moments from my past and present, as I present a Charlie Brown Christmas.

The Name Game



The date is set. On December 27th (Or today and anytime in between if there is a god) I will be welcoming two, still unnamed princesses into the world. Seriously, we have no names.

Just End It




We had our first false alarm this weekend and it wasn’t fun. Around 8pm Saturday night I started having cramps. I told Dan that I didn’t feel well and his face went white as he told me I should be OK. I went to bed around 10PM and at 1230 I woke up with worse cramps and a few contractions. I tried to go back to sleep but the cramping and contractions persisted so I finally woke Dan up and told him I might be in labor. His glorious response was “no” and turned over and fell back asleep. (Don’t worry I’m returning his Christmas present)

I called the doctor and she said that those are signs that I’m in pre-term labor, which means I have to come in. I asked “now?” she said Yeah. So its 230AM I don’t have a bag packed, my 3 year old is fast asleep and my husband is in denial about the whole thing. Finally, I get him up, threw a few things into a bag and got moving. Dan refused to pack anything since he was still “certain” I wasn’t in labor.  We hit the road around 3, dropped Ali off at my parents and got to the hospital around 415. Not a bad mobilization if you ask me.

They got us hooked up to the monitors and IV’s and started running the tests. After about an hour they told me my contractions weren’t regular so they were going to do a test to see if there is a possibility that my water will break soon. Yes, there is a test for that. Turns out I was negative which means it’s 99% certain I’m NOT going to have a twins in the next 14 days. I have to say I was not relieved by that news at all. These girls are already up to 5lbs each and now they are going to grow for another 2 weeks minimum? It’s all for the best, but I’m dying.

Of course the first thing my mom did was look this test up online and she found ONE story of a woman who’s test was negative and ended up going into labor 2 days later. My mother is now convinced that I will be going into labor within the next two days. My doctor told me that’s not going to happen and I should just relax.

We also set a date for a C-section at December 27th! Yay, although the doctor doesn’t think I will make it that long anyway. Super-lame. The only good thing about a C-section is that you can schedule it and know it’s coming. I have it scheduled but I’ll still most likely go into labor. At least the doctor said I don’t have to come down to the hospital unless my water breaks. Now my mom thinks if my water breaks I’ll end up having the twins in the front seat of my car. My doctor also said that is highly unlikely. Basically my doctor told me my mom isn’t allowed on the internet anymore. 

The Night The Lights Went Out On My Youth - By Darren Pecoraro


On Monday October 29th 2012, Hurricane Sandy, or super-storm Sandy - whatever they want to call her, slowly moved up the Atlantic, made a sharp left turn and roared ashore in New Jersey, swallowing up the entire northeastern coastline. Call her what you will, one thing I am sure of is that she was a bitch. The lights flickered on and off for a little while and finally going out for good around 5 pm that afternoon. Little did I know how fortunate I was to be still standing, only without power for six days amidst all the devastation.
              Through intermittent radio reports and news via smart-phone, the magnitude of the devastation slowly began to creep in, report-by-report, picture by heart-wrenching picture. Neighborhood after neighborhood, town after town, up and down the Jersey shoreline were leveled or rendered unrecognizable in a wave of non-stop surrealism. Many places thought immune or safe from the deadly storm surge found themselves inundated by the angry Atlantic Ocean. For us, this storm will not be measured in monetary loss or property damage, but in heartache.
         Some of the most heartbreaking images came from a place that will always be special to me: Seaside Heights, New Jersey. When I was a child, I fondly remember our parents taking us there every summer from our home in Staten Island. My brother, sister, and I would count the seconds after school was out. Starting as a young boy, I was jealous of those brave enough to go one some of the bigger rides. I was terrified of heights and wouldn’t ride anything more than ten feet off the ground. Year after year I told myself one day I would ride that tall, fast, frightening rollercoaster on the end of the pier. I think I was 13 years old when I finally got up the nerve to ride (to say I was terrified would be a big understatement). I took my seat, got strapped in, and the rest is history. I enjoyed the ride, and was able to subsequently ride even taller, faster roller coasters for the remainder of my younger years. That roller coaster was called the “Jet Star”, and it now sits in the Atlantic Ocean. The pilings supporting the pier underneath it were swept away and the roller coaster fell, almost intact, into the sea, like the rug was pulled out from under it.
      Throughout my high school, and college years, everyone on the south shore of Staten Island knew what the “point” and “the beach” were- The Point, referring to Gateway Park in Great Kills, and The Beach, being the parking lot by the boardwalk in Midland Beach. I spent, (some would say wasted) much of my young life there with some of the best friends I have ever had, some even friends to this day. We would drink beer, listen to the radio, and even fall in love once in awhile. Whatever the reason, whatever the time, it was a large portion of my formative years; a place forever etched in who I am. The beach and boardwalk along the eastern side of Staten Island are no longer there. The parking lot I spent so much time in is now a dumping area for the biggest pile of rubble I have seen since 9/11.
           Naturally, it isn’t easy to see some of the icons of your youth cease to exist. And it isn’t easy to be without power for an hour, never mind six days. One thing I will remember for certain about this tragedy is that there were several times when I found myself sitting in the dark or in the cold, or both, and felt the beginnings of what I could only classify as self-pity. I also noticed that on each and every one of those occasions, I almost immediately remembered how fortunate I was. I looked around and found all my family members alive and well. I looked at my four walls, which creaked quite a bit, but held strong. Some families suffered the ultimate loss, but I was merely inconvenienced. How dare I feel sorry for myself for even a second? Never in my life have I been so close by when so many lost so much.
          In the aftermath, I am aware that this storm is not a once in a lifetime event, but quite possibly a pre-cursor of things to come. Climate change is real, what further proof do you need after two hurricanes hit a hurricane free area in the span of just over a year? We obviously need to rebuild, but we need to rebuild smartly. Honestly, I’m not even sure what that means, but I know there are people much smarter than I tackling this very problem as I write this. If we do this correctly, the next time God is asleep at the wheel, and one of Sandy’s siblings roar up the coast, we will be better prepared and hopefully avoid another calamity.
          This storm has affected everyone in one-way or another. I doubt there is anyone in this area that doesn’t know someone profoundly impacted by the events of October 29th. I was lucky and most of the people I know were lucky, but there are so many who were not. I have a big mouth, I can be bombastic, and I can be brash - I am in the talk the talk hall of fame. Now I feel its time to walk the walk as well. I am going to help in whatever way I can, whether it’s some food or water, or socks, a few dollars here and there, or lending a hand to a friend in need. It’s time everyone did a little something to help those who lost so much. I’m sure most, if not all of you have done something already. If you have not, it’s not too late, and I suspect it may never be. Whatever you can do, no matter how insignificant you think it may be, will help. I am ready to play a small part in something very big. Won’t you join me?

Some helpful links:
Project Hospitality

Darren Pecoraro is a 46 year old retired stay-at-home dad from Englishtown NJ. He enjoys all sports, especially golf, music, and writing. His greatest love is his wife, Adele, and their two boys, Christian, and Andrew. 

Positive Notes




I think we can all agree that this past week sucked. With the massive damage from hurricane Sandy (don’t call it a “superstorm”, this isn’t a Michael Bay movie) there is a lot for us to complain about but I’ve been trying to keep my head high and remember the positive things going on.

Warning Labels


After some long weekends of severe discomfort that turned out to be nothing but regular pregnancy related ailments my mother proclaimed “ they need to warn you about this stuff.” Well they really don’t warn you about anything when it comes to pregnancy. Realistically speaking, if we warned all the women about everything that could happen no one would get pregnant.  But a little heads up could be helpful.

I’ve been honest so far about what’s going on, but in reality it’s been pretty easy so far. As I make the turn into the third trimester things aren’t looking as good. Now we’re all well aware of the common symptoms of pregnancy i.e. nausea, weight gain, varicose veins etc. Brace yourselves because I’m here to share some of the very common but not so talked about ailments of pregnancy.

Ali's Birth


Now that it’s getting closer to the twins arrival the  experts”  tell me it’s best to tell Ali all about the day she was born. It’s supposed to help her get ready, even though I’m probably the one who needs more prep. The only sign that we’re having more babies is the pile of boxes of baby stuff lining the hallway.  Either way, we’ve been recounting the story pretty regularly for a while now so why not share it with all of you?

Playground Problems


I had a surge of energy the other day so the family and I decided to take a walk to the park. I figured it would be a pretty relaxing day but it turned into a test of my patience.

Someone Worth Remembering

My mother, holding my son, at his Christening. February 10, 2002

Today is October 10, 2012. It has been 10 years to the day since my beloved mother passed away after a short and sudden illness. She became sick so quickly, that by the time I had reached the hospital, she was already incoherent with a 106 degree fever. Three weeks later, she was gone. It is the greatest regret of my life that I never got to say goodbye to my mother. It is a heavy burden I’ve carried for ten long years. A burden I am ready to put down. 

Worst False Alarm Ever


Initially, I wanted to title this piece “I’m an idiot” but since we’ve used that one before (and probably could have used it many times over) I went with Worst False Alarm Ever.

This weekend I was at a dog festival. (I know, Hoboken is weird and has festivals for its dogs.) I was with a friend of mine who has a mutt puppy. She was cute and couldn’t be more than 35 pounds. I asked to hold her leash when he got a phone call. The second he turned around off she went dragging my pregnant belly and me with her through the mud. I was more embarrassed than hurt. A grown woman covered in dirt and leaves is bad, but a pregnant woman, that’s just sad. Everyone helped me up and I downplayed the whole thing laughing and giggling but really – I needed to go to the hospital.

Halfway Mark


We’re actually a little bit past the halfway mark but with the rate I’m moving I’m lucky I got this post in at all. Much has changed since I last checked in about the pregnancy. Here are some of the highlights (maybe lowlights?)

Guest Post: The Vicarious Life

Darren Pecoraro gives us another glimpse into fatherhood this week. It's a little touching - or I'm just hormonal. 


  It has been pointed out to me by some, who shall remain anonymous, (Adele, Grandpa), that many of my recent stories have focused solely on the negative behavior of my children. Some have felt, (Adele, Grandpa), that I may have been a little harsh in my lampooning of some of the events I have experienced as a parent. This story will tell the other side, a side I may have been neglectful to tell until now. So sit back and get ready, because I’m going to brag a little bit, while I take you through a highlight reel of being a prideful parent, living the vicarious life.       

We Got Girls



















This weekend my husband and I found out we would be the proud parents of not one, but two more girls. That’s right, I’m having lady twins and the anxiety is starting to kick in. I don’t have any sisters, my husband has one sister, and my mother is the only girl. I grew up with three brothers and now somehow I’m supposed to manage three girls - what am I, A Kardashian?

Call it Hormones


If you just saw a pregnant lady walking down the street crying like a baby, no her husband didn’t leave her, she just dropped off her 3 year old at school. That’s right my first baby is growing up, moving on, and spreading her wings: she’s going to preschool. Today was the day and it was terrible.

I Would Love To Sit


There has been along standing debate on whether or not chivalry is dead. There is no better way to test the theory than when you’re pregnant.

You Need Me To Do What?



This post is for ladies only - you've been warned

Ok I need to share about this past ultrasound. It isn’t for the weak of heart so those not completely interested in this pregnancy need not read on. Yeah right, everyone is interested in the pregnancy. But seriously this post gets into gynecology so it may not be suitable for work. Or at least, I don’t want you reading this at work.

The Ipad Conundrum



Another Andrew story from Darren Pecoraro

Have you ever lamented the fact that a seemingly “brilliant” solution, leads to new, unforeseen problems? This is a story of such a situation. Once again, we find Andrew as the focal point of our story, similar to our other stories in how he has a knack for straining the limits of patience and restraint -ever expanding limits, which I have had to increase by necessity many times over.

Where Do Babies Come From?


Explaining the impending arrival of the twins to our three year old has been a little bit easier than I would have thought. I announced to Ali that we would be having a new baby pretty much the day we found out. I tried to explain to her in terms that she would understand, basically I told her mommy had magic beans in her belly that were going to turn into babies. She was A-Okay with that explanation. Thank god she didn’t ask me how I got magic beans in my belly. That conversation would have been more complicated.

I Don't Feel So Good


Some women glow when they’re pregnant. They just have a nice sense of calm about the fact that they have a baby inside of them. I am not that woman. Maybe it’s the twins but I find myself more sluggish, uncomfortable and grosser than ever. Here are some highlights of my journey:

No Underwear Allowed


I’m pretty sure I live in an affluent area. 99.9% of the neighborhood looks affluent. The main street is packed with cutesy kids shops and organic grocery stores. Most kids run around on expensive scooters and I often hear moms chat about how affordable the $20 per hour babysitter is. Usually I fly under the radar with my daughter, Ali. I know if we foster a friendship with one of the upper-crust families our bank account will be quickly drained by classes, parties and general everyday activities. But, there is one place that seems to be untouched by its inhabitants’ civic reach: my local sprinkler. Some parks have installed new cool sprinklers that even I would want to run in. They have mist tunnels, spinning components that dump buckets of water and even tiny waterspouts you can aim at your friends. Needless to say, they’re cool.

Double Dare


Brace yourselves; the news is out there. The Lazy Baby Mama is at it again, as in pregnant. Yay! Please hold the applause because it’s not one, but two babies. Yes, twins. Did you just spit your coffee onto the computer screen? (I hope not, that’s how I ruined my last computer)

Liquid Projectiles


Another gem from Darren Pecoraro. 

There is nothing quite like a family vacation to simultaneously relieve and create stress. I’m sure most parents would agree that a family vacation sometimes leaves you needing a vacation from your vacation.  While any trip can cause both relaxation and grief, it is sometimes the trip home that leaves you swearing to god almighty “never again, NEVER !!!!!”.  That is of course, until next year.

Queen of the Carousel


A shiny new playground opened up not too far from our house and everyone came out of the woodworks to check it out. It was amazing; it had a pirate ship area, a beach, a new-age jungle gym that even I wanted to climb up and a sprinkler park to boot. If the new equipment wasn’t enough to draw a crowd the park also put up a carousel for the opening weekend.

Stop Feeding Me



The gang just got home from Disney world and it was a wonderful time. It’s hard to call waking up at 8am and running around until 10pm a vacation but it really was fun. We had minimal whining and only one breakdown – which was a huge success.

Stir of Echoes


   With Kelly on vacation, Darren Pecoraro has graced us with another guest post. 


“Yell at your child and you’ll raise a yeller”, so the axiom goes. My father was a yeller, and I have been known to elevate my voice from time to time, as my 2 boys will certainly attest. Along with the occasional yelling, there is the sound of joy and laughter. Nothing is more pleasant to a parents’ ear, than the sound of their child’s laughter echoing through the halls. There are echoes in my home, both literal, and figurative.

Curb Your Toddler


The family is heading to Disney World next week and I can barely contain my excitement and fear. It may be the land where dreams come true but some of those dreams are nightmares. There will be dozens of diversions to attract my three year old and what kid wouldn’t go darting into a crowd towards a magic carpet ride? In my pre-vacation panic I’m asking myself the not-so-age-old question: “To leash, or not to leash?”

Body Issues


The other day I was leaving my house and the kind old lady next door patted me on the belly like I was a Buddha and pleasantly asked if I was having another baby. Basically any self-esteem I had mustered up in the years since I’ve given birth was washed away with one swoop of her tiny old lady hand. Seriously, I was wearing leggings like they were regular pans; that’s how good I was feeling before this incident.

The Duct Tape Initiative


 Another guest post from Darren Pecoraro:    


 Several years ago my darling wife thought it would be a good idea to have another child. We were planning a move to New Jersey, and what better way to tie it all together than the arrival of Andrew Richard. She convinced me I was being selfish in hesitating and that our son Christian needed a “partner in crime” (Who knew just how accurately that statement would manifest itself?). Eventually, she lured me in with her feminine charms, and the rest as they say, is history. I will repeat here what I have said for many years: “The best thing about kids … is making them.”

One Direction Makes Me Feel Old


I am young. Sometimes I just have to type those words out to convince myself that its true. I’m only 26, but last weekend I was watching Saturday Night Live and this new boy band, One Direction, was the musical guest. The moment they hit the stage I was overwhelmed with the realization that I am getting old.

The fact of the matter is that I have a child; therefore I surrendered my youth to the next generation years ago. My body waved the white flag the moment I realized cocoa butter does not cure stretch marks. I am to forever wear my badges of courage all over my thighs and hips. That never bothered me but something about seeing these teenagers sing in unison lit a light bulb in my head: It’s over.

Guest Post: The Incident


Our first guest post come from Darren Pecoraro. If you would like to post please email us. 

The Incident

As a father of 2 young boys, I have seen and heard it all at least twice, but nothing will ever top the events of a day which we refer to in my home simply as “the fecal incident”. When I became a father, I believed steadfastly that I would treat each child the same, be fair, and try to be magnanimous in the way I handled all situations. When reality sinks in, all parents know that this is a virtual impossibility.

B.F.F.


I’ve known my best friend since I was 6 years old.  Our sleepovers turned into drunken all-nighters in our parent’s basements and now have grown into long dinners of Tapas and Sangria. Since we graduated college we’ve both taken our own paths but still stay very close. We’re the two who can go months without talking yet the next time we see each other it’s as if a day hasn’t even passed. It really is a true friendship – not to say we don’t have our hiccups.

Spring Fever




Spring is in the air, normally I would be focusing on my physical insecurities like how I need to work out before I put on a bathing suit or that I need to go tanning before I even think about shorts. Since I’ve had Ali those insecurities have no longer keep me up at night. It’s my other insecurity, Ali’s development, that’s been racking my brain. Her Third Birthday was just the other day I’ve been especially insecure about her milestones. Pair that with the more frequent trips to the park and you’ve got a basket case on your hands.

Oops! I did it again.


I’m not proud of what I’ve done but my pride has never really been an issue on this blog. In fact, If I had any pride at all this blog probably wouldn’t exist. But, to my fans amusement, I will continue with the story.

G.L.O.C.

Latest post is up on The G.L.O.C. website. Check it out.

Overprotective. 

How Dare You Not Like Me!



I understand that sometimes two people don’t gel. And I know I’m far from perfect but I pride myself in the ability to get along with pretty much everyone. I have friends across the spectrum from old ladies who turn to alcohol to 20 year olds who discuss celebrity gossip. I know some people have a few layers to peel back before they succumb to my charms but I cannot stand when someone refuses to get to know me at all. Here is the story of one unlucky woman who will never know the joys of my friendship.

Bring Back the Boobs


The other day I took Ali to a free open house at the new gymnastics place near our apartment. The place was great with open space to run around, trampolines, swings... it was toddler heaven. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman in the middle of the room with a newborn baby in her lap.  Just as turned to look at the baby the woman whipped out her sizeable breast and began nursing. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I tried to turn away. Then tried to not look like I was trying not to look at her but it was really difficult. I think I ended up just standing in the middle of the gym whipping my head around like I had a nervous tic trying not to make eye contact with anyone. Thankfully the only person I made it awkward for was me since I was the one who looked like an idiot.

Toy Fair 2012


I got an email last month from my editor asking if I wanted to go to Toy Fair. I had no idea what it was but I said “sure sounds like fun”. The reality is that I was completely unprepared for the largest display of child entertainment I had ever seen in my life. Holy moly never have I been so afraid and so excited at the same time. The Javitt's center was transformed into a sea of toys, anything you could think of. Some parents best friends some a parents worst nightmares (Marshmallow guns, Really? Like I want marshmallows shot behind my couch where they can be discarded or months). By the end of the day I wanted to scream down the isles “I WANT ALL THE TOYS”.

Turn the other cheek?


As a parent it’s pretty inevitable that one day your child will try to hit you. You can try to teach them hitting is wrong and control their exposure to other kids hitting. Hell, you can keep them locked in a room watching Sesame Street their whole lives and still somehow it will happen. You can only pray it doesn’t happen in a crowded restaurant full of your friends …

The Battle Between Good and Poop: Potty Training Begins

For the past 6 months when I go to pick up diapers for Ali I announce to her “this is your last box of diapers!” I think I’m hoping somehow by osmosis that statement will click something in her head and she will begin using the potty effortlessly on her own.  So far that tactic hasn’t worked with anyone. Now that she’s almost three it’s time for me to bite the bullet and get this girl going in the bathroom.

Say Something!


Most of my readers know that not too long ago I was struggling with the fact that Ali was two years old and didn’t have much interest in talking. Thankfully these days I haven’t been able to shut her up but it was a long arduous journey from silence to constant chatter.

You asked for it

Here is my infamous horrible haircut:

Let's begin the comment contest!

Rules:
Anyone who comments that the cut is "not that bad" will be given spam chain letters.
The winner will be given Pez.
Keep it clean, I know it's bad but the wounds are still fresh.





Ill Start the ball rolling:

  • The 90's called, they want their hair back.
  • I look like I should tuck my blouse into my pleated pants
  • This is what Sally Field was going for in Mrs Doubtfire.
Ok ready .... go!

Impulse or Idiot?

             It’s no secret that I’m pretty cheap. I buy generic everything from ketchup to toothpaste.  One of things I particularly skimp on is my haircut. After I had Ali getting my hair done seemed more like an errand than “me time”. Frankly if I have a rare spare hour to myself I’d rather take a nap or an uninterrupted shower than get myself dressed and ready to go outdoors to a hair appointment. So far I’ve kept my hair long and have been getting away with a trim every 6 months or so.

Christmas Aftermath


The holidays are over and my apartment has been de-decorated. Now I have to deal with the aftermath that is known as Ali’s new toy collection. I remember when I was pregnant with Ali I returned home from her baby shower to find my entire living room packed from corner to corner with baby accessories. I asked my mother “do I really need all this stuff?” and she said: “you’re going to want everything and anything that will keep that baby quiet.” Two years later and I’m still collecting things to keep that baby quiet.

Undomestic

After three and a half years of marriage you would think I would’ve gotten the hand of this “home economics” thing but that’s not exactly true. Sure I clean, I do laundry and I rear a child but I just cant bring myself to master cooking. It’s not that I can’t cook I just don’t want to cook … ever. Why is it so difficult? Maybe it’s because I’m an instant gratification type of person. I never know what I want to cook until I’m too hungry to cook it. It’s a daily battle.