The misadventures of a first time father

Category Archives: Food

Whether they know it or not, everyone has a story to tell.

However, some folks never tell their stories because they think they have nothing to say – that their life is too boring.

It’s with that in mind, that I set out to create a photo essay that took something routine and mundane – just a random day in my life – and captured it in photos in an attempt to create a visually appealing story told in images from throughout that terribly ordinary day.

I found that what might be routine or boring to some on the surface turned out to be a day filled with beauty and engaging sights and images, had I just taken the steps back to look at them more often.

Here’s my story:

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© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporationThere is just something inherently creepy these days about the Ice Cream Truck coming down the street.

If you’re an ice cream truck driver, I apologize. It’s very likely not you. Or at least, I hope it’s not you.

Oh, I’m sure that back in the day it was an innocent and smile-inducing moment to see that white truck making its way through the neighborhood, music and bells ringing through the air. Heck, even I remember just two and a half decades ago, how normal it seemed to have the ice cream man come down the street and eagerly await to get some cold treats in the summer.

Through a little internet searching, here’s some background on the ice cream truck, or ice cream van as it’s sometimes known.

Early ice cream vans carried simple ice cream, during a time when most families did not own a freezer. As freezers became more commonplace, ice cream vans moved towards selling novelty ice cream items, such as bars and popsicles. Early vans used relatively primitive techniques: their refrigeration was ensured by large blocks of dry ice so the engine was always turned off when the van was stopped for sales. The chimes were operated by a hand driven crank or a take-off from the engine, so they were not heard as often. Modern chimes are always electrically operated and amplified.

I know it's too much to ask for it all to still seem like this, but...

I know it’s too much to ask for it all to still seem like this, but…

There are different types of ice cream trucks currently in use in the United States, some simply novelty trucks and some are soft-serve trucks.

Professionally built ice cream trucks that sell prepackaged product (Novelty Trucks) use commercial cold plate freezers that plug in overnight and when unplugged maintain the cold for at least 12 hours. Music systems are mechanical, such as pianos, or more commonly digital devices that have no tape or other moving parts. Each “music box” may be able to play one or multiple tunes. The opening on the side that drivers serve from is commonly referred to as a serving window and will usually have a serving counter. Awnings can be attached to trucks over the serving window. Safety equipment usually comes in the form of an electric or vacuum swing out sign which may resemble a stop sign or a triangular shape, as well as vinyl lettering or decals that advise others to use caution.

These are the only types of ice cream trucks that I’m familiar with in my own youth, cruising up and down the street, making me bug my parents or grandparents to buy me a Pink Panther ice cream on a stick, shaped like his head, with pink and white ice cream, and bubble gum for eyes.

Soft-serve ice cream trucks are actually a whole foreign concept to me. Instead of the pre-packaged ice creams, they actually have soft-serve machines in them and can offer you cones and sundaes. Honestly, I think I would’ve liked this a lot better than the pre-packaged stuff. They aren’t seen very often in the U.S. because of the extra costs with building such a truck. Oh, U.S. – cheap, cheaper and cheapest. Aesthetics and quality never really come into play here, do they? It’s a shame.

Maybe because of that desire to keep costs low, those ice cream trucks don’t always hold up well over time, which certainly doesn’t help deter the creepy factor I now see as an adult, the run-down rusty-looking truck barreling down our street at speeds quite unsafe for children who may be running out into the street to follow.

Or perhaps it’s the Dateline culture we live in these days, the numerous kidnapping stories splashed across the headlines, the horror movies made on the subject. As an adult, I just raise a skeptical eyebrow when I hear the jingles of the ice cream man coming down the street.

Honestly, maybe it’s the fact that he comes down the street at 9 o’clock at night, when most young kids, I would think, are safe indoors, that makes me raise a cynical eyebrow.

I think we’ll leave this one out in the cold and I’ll just go to the store to grab some ice cream for the family.


firstbday01Where in the world does the time go?

Like a flash of light, our little boy’s birthday was upon us in the blink of an eye. It seems like only yesterday we were welcoming him back home to the cats, a slew of visitors, and introducing him to this thing called life for the very first time. Now, we’ve wrapped up celebrating his first year on earth.

It was a good, handmade event, due in most, if not all part, to Meg. And if you’d like to read HER take on all of this, you can do so over at her blog. She spent months building up to this day, planning out everything from his smash-cake (made from all kinds of tasty, yet healthy things he likes, such as apple sauce and yogurt, versus mostly sugar and corn syrup), to the paper decorations that lined the backyard. She made streamers, she made tissue paper ‘poofs’ that hung from above, and she made a crown out of felt, that the little guy wore letting everyone know he was king of the party.

firstbday02The menu was made up of many of the monkey’s favorite foods, or at least those he’s tasted in tiny, broken-off portions. There was pizza from our favorite pizza parlor, homemade sandwiches on a freshly baked bread, fruit salad, cheese, crackers, and more.

It can sometimes be a little bit of a risk when you bring both family and friends together as you never know how anyone is going to blend or interact with each other. In our case, it all went off great. He did need a little urging to stick his hands in the smash-cake, not wanting to make a mess (which is kind of surprising considering how messy he gets with, say, pasta for dinner). When it came to open his gifts, his attention was more focused on the wrapping paper or the people around him than on what he was actually receiving, but boy were our friends and family good to him.

firstbday04Whether it was some new Mo Willems books for our collection, or some of the Fisher Price Retro-toys (a milk truck?! a portable radio?! how neat is this line of toys?!), Little People on a Farm or a Little People version of the Justice League, he made out like a bandit. Although, that little red tricycle from an old friend will have to wait a few years until he’s old enough to ride. 😉

The weather held out as we gathered and had a great, if not tiring time by day’s end. He only needed one nap toward the end of his party, although mommy and daddy wanted about seven naps by the time things were over – no such luck on our end.

As I say, the kudos for the day being as creative and as much of a throwback to backyard parties of yore goes to Meg, who put her all into making this first birthday one to be remembered. And, of course, having our loved ones around us helped seal that memory in.

If I could only figure out how he so quickly went from that little, wrapped up baby in our arms a year ago, to the little man standing on his own, making noises, and playing with toys today. As much as I don’t want them to, I know the years ahead will go by just as fast, if not faster. I can’t stop that, as the past 365 days have proven.

What I can do, though, is make sure that I enjoy every single moment we do have – the good, the bad, and everything in between, because they won’t be here forever.

firstbday03


ImageGoing out to eat can sometimes be a three-ring circus with a nearly one year old in tow.

We especially learned that this last weekend when we tried to do dinner at a restaurant we had gone to a few times in the past with the little one. While he has often been great while we go out to eat, complete with flirting it up with the waitress, lately he has wanted nothing to do with it.

He kicks, he groans, he wiggles like a worm to get out of your grasp, and will strain every muscle in his body trying to get out of a high chair.

This morning, Meg and I went to breakfast with the monkey while we waited for my car to get its annual inspection. No sooner had the little guy been given his bottle did he decide to throw it on the ground – a hard, tile floor – causing it to shatter and glass to go everywhere.

So there we were, Meg with paper towels, on the floor of the cafe, cleaning up apple juice while I asked for a broom and dust pan to clean up the shards of glass.

And this was all before we ordered.

We thought we were in for one heck of a ride, but then, one packet of food later, and a whole lot of ‘ooing’ and ‘awing’ from passersby in the cafe, and he went from fit-to-be-tied to hamming it up for the public, with a head tilt and a smile, as if nothing had ever been wrong in the first place.

So, yup, back to normal, although we think we’ve narrowed down his sudden change of attitude while out and about – all signs point to us teething again.

Look out world, more chompers are coming!


Ales of the RevolutionSome may choose to celebrate the Fourth of July with hot dogs and hamburgers, but as I write this, I have just sampled a taste of the American Revolution.

For quite a few years, I had been on the hunt for a beer called “Ales of the Revolution” from Yards Brewing Company in Pennsylvania. I can’t quite remember how I learned about them originally, but once I discovered their existence, it became a mission to try them.

Ales of the Revolution are recreations of the original recipes of Founding Fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.

The concept intrigues me to no end! To have a (as close to it as possible) taste of the American Revolution era? Sign me up!

I’ve always had an affinity for history, but that has certainly grown since meeting my wife. It’s become a bit of a tradition for us to break out HBO’s John Adams on Independence Day and I can’t tell you the number of times during any season that we’ve sat down to watch a movie only to end up popping in our DVDs of the History Channel’s “The Presidents” narrated by the always superb Edward Hermann. My appreciation for the past extends far beyond the 60s, 40s, 30s, etc and the chance to know what a beer tasted like as sipped by these men of legend is fascinating.

However, for a long time I thought it just wasn’t meant to be. I had tried online, I had tried beverage distributors in the hopes of a special order, but to no avail. I had all but given up hope.

Then, recently while out to dinner with my family, I was surprised with two large cases of this otherwise unattainable nectar. It seems that my brother, looking for a belated birthday gift for me, had contacted a friend living in Philly and asked them to pick up a few cases.

washingtonNow, after this long search, it was right here in my hands.

So, tonight, I cracked open one of George Washington’s Tavern Porter, described by the Brewing Company as “…smooth, rich, and warming with chocolate and coffee flavors. It’s inspired by Washington’s original recipe, and reflects his admiration of Philadelphia-style porters…”

And with an ABV of 7%, it’s no wonder these guys staged a revolution against the biggest super power at the time. They were probably buzzed to no end as they plotted and planned and philosophized over pints at some dimly lit tavern.

Also in the mix is Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale (a golden ale with dried fruits and toffee aromas inspired by Jefferson’s original recipe that called for wheat, honey, and rye from his Virginia estate) and Benjamin Franklin’s Tavern Spruce Ale (based on Franklin’s original recipe. It uses spruce tips and molasses as barley and hops were not readily available at the time).

Needless to say, it’s a win as a beverage and a definite win for the history buff in me.

Now if I could only figure out what John Adams would have drank…


The breakfast my wife made for me on Father's Day.

The breakfast my wife made for me on Father’s Day.

It’s been a pretty cool first Father’s Day weekend.

Yesterday, Meg and I took the little guy to a public market (sort of like a farmer’s market, but with additional things like crafts and other vendors alongside the farm stands). and since it’s held outside in the courtyard of a train station, we got to enjoy the beautiful sunny day to the utmost.

Then, we ran some errands that included me finally getting a new pair of sneakers and jeans. You see, I hate spending money on clothes. I really do. I often end up getting updates to my wardrobe at Christmas because I just don’t buy any during the year. I like to see just how long I can make something last, including articles of clothing. It’s just the kind of thing I don’t put much thought to throughout the year, to be quite honest.

With that said, I’ve had the same pair of sneakers for several years, wearing them down to pretty much nothing. I tend to do the same with my jeans, which is why, for the longest time, I had one good pair of jeans and the rest had holes in the knees and became relegated to housework or lounging at home. So, it was pretty momentous to walk out of the store with a pair of sneakers AND a pair of jeans, not to mention a polo shirt, which my wife insisted on paying for as part of Father’s Day, which was incredibly nice of her.

Pretty crazy, for me at least. Though I think Meg just thinks I’m plain crazy.

We ran a few more errands throughout the afternoon before meeting up with my parents for an early Father’s Day dinner for my dad. We gave him a framed picture of the little guy for his desk at work along with some fun smoking accessories for his grill.

I had to duck out late in the evening to fill-in on a partial shift at work, but came home, hit the sheets and actually slept in for a change.

When I awoke, it was to some both funny and touching Father’s Day cards from my wife, my little guy, and yes, our kitties. A big breakfast of French Toast, eggs and hash browns and I have been completely and utterly spoiled.

It’s been wonderful, it’s been more than generous, but honestly, the fact that I get to celebrate Father’s Day is certainly enough for me. Having them all in my life is worth more than any card, gift or breakfast. Not that I’m not thankful for the creativity and generosity, I’m just so incredibly thankful for all of them.

Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, fathers-to-be and someday fathers. 🙂


© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporation The weather has been changing lately. The temperatures rising, the grass becoming a little greener, a little longer, and the air filled with the smells of pollen and barbecues.

There’s no doubt that spring is here, but in case we take it for granted, mother nature gave us a nice little reminder of why it’s such a wonder to live in a place that experiences four seasons a year. It’s easy to get into the habit of complaining about one particular season (“it’s to hot out,” “I’ve had enough of this snow,” etc.) that sometimes we  forget why that particular season is so wonderful and unique to itself – because it doesn’t last.

Today in the northeast, we strayed away from our recent trend of 70+ sunny days and took a dive into overcast, breezy and chilly. It was jacket weather, and boy do I love the jacket weather seasons.

I know that many people were already questioning “whatever happened to spring,” but I loved it. The windows slightly cracked on the way to work, some music on the radio reminding me of my high school and college years, and I just thought of all the wonderful September drives to school or to campus. It put a smile on my face, and while so many others were made gloomy by this sudden burst of Fall in our Spring, I was boosted, rejuvenated. I loved it.

© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporationAnd I remembered that the seasons are all fleeting, be their spring, summer or fall, and it’s best to enjoy them for all they are, because before you know it, they’ve passed. So, a little reminder like today was just a nice change of pace and made you not take for granted what the Spring ‘norm’ is.

At the end of the day, I put out the trash, took a look around at the branches of the trees blowing, and re-entered the house, greeted to the smell of Meg’s homemade black bean soup. The baby was fed, his laughter ringing through our home as he squished avocado through his fingers and on his face, and that delicious aroma of the homemade soup just sent a comforting thrill through my entire being.

I poured myself a pint, sat down with a bowl of soup, looked at my lovely wife and son and was reminded that yeah, life is good.



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