Sunday, January 26, 2014

West Coast Week 3 - Daddy's day with the kids

So I know this is starting to get boring but the weather is here is awesome.  Its 70 everyday, and CA is in the middle of a drought which is killing the agriculture but screw farming, I love it.  There is no rain, the sky is blue, the breeze is calm, and the sun is burning.  I think I might actually have some form of a tan.  Maybe I can turn back into a Tanican American, like 15-20 year old Eric.  Those were the days. During the summer I would get so tan I would take on a new ethnicity cause white don't bronze like that homie!

Anyhow... We tried a Stary Family staple, which is to give Cyndi the day off on Saturday.  It helps to keep her sane (at least saner), after all spending all of your time with 4 snot monsters is the number 3 cause of insanity in adults (right behind schizophrenia and viagra overdoses).  So... the wife went to a thing in San Jose and I spent the day with the kids.  Now this is different than previous attempts at Daddy Day Care.  There is no gated off play room, there is no wide open front yard to run in, there is no gated back yard for the dogs, there is no screened in porch, there is just me and some leashes.

We started out the day at the park.  Its close (almost across the street), its big and open and fenced in, so it was a perfect place to have my first mini-breakdown.  The problem was I tried to take the kids and the dogs.  So I had 6 little turd factories going in 6 different directions and apparently my voice is inaudible in the park, that is the only way to explain how little anyone was listening.  One twin is literally diving into bushes, the other twin is 100 feet away and has climbed up into the playset, one big kid is 200 feet away playing with a water fountain, the other big kid has run off to the basketball court at the other end of the park.  It is at this moment when my attention is the most divided that my dogs decide is the best time to take their morning dump.  And for some reason my dogs feel the best place to do this is not in the grass or the bushes but rather the mother flipping center of the play area for the kids.

Well... I need to clean this mess up before one of the twins pays tennis with it, so I go to the opposite end of the park to get the clean up supplies.  As I do this a signal goes off in the twins heads... NOW... RUN IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS AND HEAD FOR THE STREET NOW!  I am now sprinting through the park with two dogs on leashes tangled around my feet, a bag full of doggie doo, screaming at the big kids to corral their brothers (which of course they only hear me when I go full on hulk monster).

OK.  That failed but no worries, all kids are still accounted for.  So we head back to the condo, drop off the dogs (which proceed to yelp at the door every single waking second we are not with them - the neighbors love us), and head to the beach.  New place, same problems.  I can't keep the twins in the same zip code.  I run to collect one and the other has darted off in another direction.  Becks is busy crashing his bike (he keeps trying to ride on the beach regardless of how many times he crashes and how many times I tell him he can not ride on the beach), and Carson is busy chasing which ever twin I don't have at the moment.  After 30 minutes of this nonsense, I just blew up in front of everybody at the beach (nice Clark... real nice).  Threw the kids in the stroller and went back home.

Two parks = two fails.  So... what else do we want to do today.  I thought maybe we could go for a drive.  Piled up in the van and headed out to the ATM, I didn't want to get stuck at a toll without cash.  Well... I have completely forgotten my PIN (still can't remember it).  I tried a few numbers to no luck.  So fail #3.  Silver lining to the ATM trip is that both twins fell asleep, so I just drove around town until they woke up.  No sense waking the sleeping baby, right?

OK, so now we are back home.  Let's just play outside, what can go wrong there.  Let me tell you friend, the same exact stuff is gonna go wrong.  Its like watching a bad sequel, the location may have changed but its the same damn movie.  Sure enough, within ten minutes the twins are running in opposite directions again.  This time they are doing it on a sidewalk, so every time they bite the dust you are waiting for tears.  This little party comes to a close when Becks whacks his head on the wall of the house, that kid could hurt himself in a room full of pillows.  This time I just said screw it, we are going inside and we are staying put.

I ordered pizza, what could go wrong there.  Plenty.  It took 90 minutes to get here (the store is only 2 miles away) and when it showed up it was terrible.  I never ate Pizza Hut back home and now I remember why, because its terrible.  This brings my fail count to 5, and 5 is my physical limit.  I just shut her down.  From that point on I didn't even try.  Kids were hungry, fine, if you can reach it you can eat it.  Kids start to fight, fine, if you win the fight you get the toy.  I got out the vacuum, the steam mop, pots and pans, and every other non-toy which slightly entertains them.  I was done.

The night was brought to a merciful end when Cyndi came home.  The good thing about me is that I have ZERO short-term memory, seriously I have already forgotten what I am doing.  So come next weekend, I will be ready to fail again.

Thanks... I hope you are not buried in snow and that your tushy is nice and warm.

- Eric

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Week 2: The good, the bad, the friggin terrible

Week 2 has come and gone.  For the most part we are settled.  Our clothes are in the closets and there is food in fridge (boom).  There has been a wide variety of experiences, from the awesome to the not so awesome, here is the rundown.

The Good:

The weather is friggin' ridiculous awesome, it has been 70 nearly everyday, no rain.  The kids have gone to a park everyday, I can walk the dogs (which I have been doing everyday), and we have been walking everywhere.  I even walked the 2.8 miles to work one day (since my car has yet to arrive).  Work is finally getting interesting, after getting through those first few days of trying to look busy while trying to not melt down from boredom.  The kids are in school, and they love their school.  They only go from 8 - 2 (short day), and they get 2 recess periods.  Slackers!  As one would expect they are the minority in their class, it's funny to go from a community that is 90% Caucasian to another that is 20%.  It speaks to the awesomeness of the kids that they don't even seem to notice this.

Generally, the place is starting to feel like home (at least not like a hotel), and we have mastered the drive to work and to the store.

The Bad:

My car is still in transit (it will take it a MONTH to get here by the time it arrives), and being a one car family blows.  It's hard to get into my normal routine because I don't have my ride.  I actually broke down and rented a car yesterday, so I could move as needed.  I rented a Toyota Yaris.  It's like a toy.  It would easily fit in the back of the van with the seats folded down, it only has one windshield wiper on the front, and the two hamsters running on that wheel they call an engine is laughable.  However, it was so nice to drive home after work without having to pack up the kids and fight the battle about getting out of car.  The twins now think every time you get in the car, you are going for a long drive, and they expect you to take them on a stroller ride when you get out.

The twins have completely taken over this house, and we are losing the battle with them.  In the old house everything was gated off, so we could literally drop them into their play space and not worry about the rest of the house.  This place probably doesn't have the square footage of our old living room so the twins roam the house like nomads.  They walk to the kitchen, dump our all the drawers then move to the living room (like house locusts).

I am pretty sure most of neighbors hate my dogs, and they are going to have to learn to curse at me in English or I am going to have to learn some Japanese curses.

Cyndi and I are uncontrollably drawn to looking at rental prices, the problem is we are in this corporate unit until July (free of charge), so we keep seeing these awesome houses for rent further inland and we think how awesome they would be (more space, yard, sidewalk) but then we come back to the reality that we are here until the kids are done with school.  Free is free!  And I am not passing up on the free!

Prices are bad, but not nearly as bad as everyone told us they would be.  Yes, you pay a couple bucks more for those groceries and yes it adds up, but its not the be all end all.  And most importantly we know we have to modify our lifestyle to accommodate (I will not be paying for the full TV package).  And you guys will be glad to know we have figured out the "grocery bags" thing.  We still don't know how to recycle (suck on that hippies)!  Once we start paying rent and we are paying double my mortgage for a house half the size, this will move to the "sucks" portion of this blog.

The Mother Friggin' Terrible:

We have been riddled with germs since we climbed into the car to drive west.  Each of us had had a stomach bug, and nasty cold with congestion, and we woke last night to an exorcism.  We can't seem to catch a health break.  5 of the 6 of us are mostly healthy, so maybe next week we will finally get our Cali legs under us so we can do some exploring.  Cyndi and I have a corporate party to attend to tonight that we will probably have to cancel if kiddo number one doesn't show some improvement in the next hour.

With all of the illness, we have yet to be able to explore our surroundings.  I still have not been downtown, although I am hopeful for tonight's party, and we have not started our neighborhood shopping.  Everyone we meet provides their two cents and it certainly seems like we are "East Inland Bay" people.  This will mean a long commute for Daddy, but should result in a reasonably priced rental house with a yard and a sidewalk (see above).

So... Week 2 is in the bag.  If you are keeping score at home that is 2% of our "minimal" California stay (2 years).  I am looking forward to Week 3, getting to do some actual work, getting to see the Bay, and watching our white blood cells finally start to dominate.

Thanks for reading, will chat soon.  I promise I will get funnier, I know that is why you stop by.

- Eric

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


So last year I made a big deal about the year of Eric (see Summer of George on YouTube).  I did what all those hippie make yourself better jerks do, and I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish and things I should focus on for the year.  Those aforementioned hippie make yourself better jerks know what they are talking about.  By making that stupid little list and looking at it every day, I made a real effort to achieve what I wrote down.  In spite of a few failures (one of my items was to blog daily – Capital “F”, FAIL), I think I did OK.

So here, without further blah blah, is my list for 2014.

  1. Weigh in under 185 with a 34 inch waist
  2. Increase my savings (no, you cannot know the target number, but there is one)
  3. Write 50 blog posts (already on number 3)
  4. 12 weekend trips (take advantage of being in California), with a couple trips being without kids.
  5. Get home at least twice (I am thinking once in summer and definitely over Christmas)
  6. Attend a Reds v. Giants game here in SF.  I know, it’s not much of a goal but it will be really cool
  7. Call home every Sunday
  8. Take care of family coming here (you know the offer I made, and I stand by it)
  9. Dress like a grown man (in my defense I spent the past couple of years working at a place that allowed me to wear jeans, which is like allowing someone to drink Beer in the office.  If you allow it, I will be doing it).
  10. Eat and Drink like a grown man (dinners by the Bay, drinking beer and Bourbon)

Obviously, the big thing for me and the family will be taking advantage of living in California.  We have to get out and do stuff, shake things up, break the mold, insert cliché, etc, etc, etc…

The first big thing will be to see San Fran, we will take the rest of it from there.  Happy 2014!

Eric Stary

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Week 1

Well we have been over here on the goofy coast for a week, and here are the high level thoughts about California from a life long Kentuckian.

1. So its July and the high temps are in the 60s and the lows are in the 40s, I will take that all day long.  Ask me about the weather again in July when the highs are in the 60s and I really miss summer.

2. There is this awesome park/bike path that runs along the bay for miles.  The problem with this is the people on it.  Just because you own tight pants and a helmet you are not training for the Tour de France.  I used to ride my bike 20 miles in a day and I wasn't dressed like a jackass.  If you are going to dress like a jack ass at least be polite.  The next fatty in spandex that blows past me saying "on your left" is getting a rock in the back of their head.

3. Real estate is in such short supply that parking lots and thusly parking spaces are smaller.  If you park next to a car or van with KY plates, you do so at your own risk #baddriver

4. The people here are generally rude, I mean you would expect them to be ruder than back in Cincy.  There is a direct mathematical correlation to dickeadedness and city size.  Here in the bay we are several more notches up the dickhead meter.  But come 'on... what do you dill weeds have to be cranky about... oh never mind, they are all pissed off about their rent.

5. In stores out here you have to pay for bags, and the bags you buy are cheap and fall apart as you try to get your groceries into your house.  You can not buy plastic bags, I will elaborate more on this in a minute.

6. There is no trash, there is compostables, recyclables, and trash.  There needs to be a training class, when you enter the state that tells you how to process your trash.  In KY we call in trash!  Hell, my grandparents didn't even take their trash to the curb, they took it out back and burned it.  While I appreciate the fact that everyone here is trying to save the world, I hope they realize for all the good they are doing, there is someone in KY right now burning plastic bags in their back yard.

7. Traffic is bad, but not in the sense that it takes long to get somewhere, I mean in just volume of people on the road.  I bought Cyndi and I two new GPS systems so we can stop getting lost, at least so I can get lost less.  I keep getting into lanes that somehow end up on the freeway, its like a quantum leap, where I just keep leaping into a car that is entering the freeway.

8. In KY people always looked at Cyndi and I like we had 4 heads when we were out with all the kids.  People would stop and count, "oh my... 4 boys".  Yep... jackass, you can count.  In Cali, this is magnified like 5000X.  The general thought around here is that two kids is two too many.  I see lots of single-child families.  I honestly, can not recall seeing another mini-van since we entered Cali.  Guess what douchebags, I got 4 kids, and they are going make a mess at dinner.  Deal with it!

First impressions aside, the biggest thing has been trying to acclimate to our new place.  The kids are a wreck, they can't sleep well, they are all coughing, and the twins are finding new ways to hurt themselves every second.  Its like there is an injury manual and they are just going through pages... "let's try this one".  The kids start school next week, so things will start settling back into some normal patterns.  And maybe we can start getting out and exploring the city and our surroundings.

- Eric

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Move and 2014

Greetings dear friends.  Here is my first of many posts from the left coast.  I guess the most pressing thing on your minds is how the move went, the 2500 mile cross-country journey.

Well... it went surprisingly well.  There were no catastrophes, no blood, and only a few minor problems.  Here is a stop by stop run down of the trip.

Day 1: NKY to St. Louis

The drive was rather uneventful and rather boring.  I was in a panic about the trailer for the first 50 miles.  Every time we hit a bump or a dip in the road I was certain that thing was going over and my Superman underwear would be splashed across the interstate.  But... I never tipped.  Once I got over that initial fear the trailer really only became a problem when trying to park and coming in and out of stops where the hitch scraped the ground.  Sorry road crews!

When we got to St. Louis, being New Years Eve, the hotel was filled with people dressed up in the trampiest and douchbaggiest outfits (I am soooo old).  However, we didn't hear noise all night and because they were being loud it was kind of liberating to not worry about the kids screaming their heads off.

Day 2: St. Louis to OKC

Here begins the long slow slog across the country.  Let me tell you this is an EMPTY place.  This country is not over crowded or over populated it is EMPTY.  Again the drive was nice, but several of the family took a turn in OKC and we picked up some kind of stomach bug.  Obviously a long drive across the country is conducive for the flaming doodies.  As you can expect there were some issues, but after a few years of counseling I am sure I will be able to get over what I saw and felt.

The weather took a bit of a turn in OKC and the temp just dropped out the bottom of the thermometer.  It was cold a windy (again an awesome thing when driving a box with another box hitched to it).  We stopped in the really cool little part of town but it was so cold and we had no where to park so we ended up eating at Ihop.  Then again, the kids actually ate their food and it didn't cost a zillion dollars so all in all the Ihop probably wasn't a bad idea.

Day 3: OKC to Albuquerque

Holly mother of desolation.  There is nothing here, when the zombie apocalypse starts just jump in your car and head out west because there is so much space between towns the zombies would never actually get to you where you are.  You better not run out of gas or get a flat, because you are F'd.  The pattern with the drive continued.  The kids were great in the morning session.  They watched their shows (note to other parents: listening to Bubble Guppies on a loop for 4 hours can have mental and emotional side effects), and they took naps.  We would hit up a late lunch which was a complete travesty.  No one would eat (the kids weren't hungry from power eating donuts and cheeze-its and Mom and Dad were not quite over the devil but), and the twins would go bananas and run around every restaurant like a convict on a work release program.

I will say one thing for New Mexico, it is easy on the eyes.  The landscape is amazing and so different from anywhere else I have been.

Day 4: Albuq to Las Vegas

I had such high hopes for this leg of the trip.  I wanted to see the Grand Canyon (strike), I wanted to stroll the Las Vegas strip and show the kids the awesomeness (strike two), and I wanted to do a little gambling (strike three).  The drive across Arizona was the most vacant yet, let me tell you once you get below a half-tank of gas you had better find the next gas station.  You will go 50-60 miles at times between exits with services (food/gas).  Say what you want about Kentucky, you will never go that far on a major highway without a McDonald's or a Shell station.

The stomach bug reached its pinnacle for most of us on day 4.  So there were some moments where we had to contemplate pulling over and searching for cactus leaves, but we made it.  By this point however, the twins and the boys had started to pick up a nasty little cough.  There are apparently plenty of germs in the emptiness of this vast country.

Day 5: Vegas to SF

Ahhh... the victory lap.  Again, the trip is full of wide open spaces.  The views are amazing as you pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, but again, you better stop when you need to stop.  At least by this point the weather was really nice and when we did stop temps were in the 60s.

We got into our temporary housing late that evening and we have still yet to settle in.  Our stuff is everywhere and the kids have taken over the space.  We are working on creating some normalcy in our day to day while we explore the bay area and find out where all the stuff is.  I have already been completely lost multiple times, but then again I got lost in a place where I lived for 34 years.

The next week:

So we are going to try to get settled over the next few days, get unpacked, find our clothes, get the kids in school, and find what the good channels are on TV (I keep finding good shows in the guide only to turn there and find they are in Spanish).  We will keep everyone posted and I will update this blog and Cyndi will kill facebook.  Give us a few more days to settle in and the goodness will just start to flow out.

Hope to see everyone soon (at least sooner than later) and here is to hoping I don't get lost again tonight.


- Eric