Kindergarten Tour, Mr. C, Toy Surprise

DAY 10 -- As I mentioned a few days ago, we’ll finally have all three of our kids in school next year. I had the pleasure of taking Mason for an introductory look at his new school today. I know he’s more than ready for kindergarten … but I’m not sure that kindergarten is ready for him!

. . .

The principal at the elementary school in town -- affectionately known to the kids and the community as Mr. C -- is retiring at the conclusion of this school year. Mr. C is like no other educator I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I’ve often said that it’s impossible to leave a conversation with him -- no matter how short or long -- not feeling as though you are the most important person in the world to him in that moment.

I’d love to know how he does it.

The students -- including Anna -- celebrated their beloved principal today with “Dress Like Mr. C Day.”

. . .

Walking into my office this morning, I was surprised to find that my friend and coworker Neal had keyed in and left me a gift on my table.

Neal is a much more seasoned junk collector than I’ll ever be and he knows my love for these old toys. He’s been cleaning out some of his own stuff and apparently thought this stuff was better in my collection than his own.

I didn’t argue.

. . .

I guess Amy had a pretty busy day at work today. Maybe that explains her lack of appreciation for the picture I texted her from my office this afternoon.

Flip-Flops, Maria Tallchief

DAY 9 -- I'm so ready for summer. I feel like I'm running a race that I'm clearly going to win, the finish line is in sight, but I can't do anything to speed my victory along.

I won't officially win until next Wednesday when I take off my socks for the last time until August. But the end is in sight.

Okay. Full disclosure. I've been wearing shorts and flip-flops to work for the past week.

. . .

I visited Charlotte's class today for their "wax museum" presentations. I got to hear from famous individuals like Usain Bolt, Helen Keller, Julie Andrews, Kris Bryant, and (Charlotte's choice) Maria Tallchief.

. . .

Seven. More. Days.

Field Trip, Poetry, Iron Man

DAY 8 -- Field trip veteran.

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Third grade poet.

. . .

Iron Man

. . .

"Whenever my foot is asleep, I think of unicorns for some reason." -- Anna

. . .

That is all.

Cheesy Enchilada, Earrings, Gravy-Covered Waylon

DAY 7 -- We did some grocery shopping today after church and Mason took a ride on Sandy the horse while we waited in line to check out. I'm pretty sure he knew I was taking his picture.

. . .

While we were shopping, I considered buying an old favorite for the first time in ages.

My pal Derek and I used to put this down like nobody's business. I remember a time when he and I made a pot of this stuff -- two boxes of Cheesy Enchilada Hamburger Helper, at least a pound of ground beef, sour cream, a package of shredded cheese, and a healthy dose of Frank's RedHot. We mixed it all together and ate it on tortillas.

All of it.

In one sitting.

. . .

I had another crazy dream last night. This one took me one step deeper into weirdness beyond my experience drinking with Joe Maddon. A majority of the dream was spent finding my way around a random amusement park, but by the end, the park was starting to close and most people headed for the parking lot. Not me. I was allowed to re-enter and go into a small room packed with about 30 people.

It was dark and hot.

There was a bluegrass jam going on.

Everyone was into the music something crazy.

In the corner, I recognized him. Hair spiked up on the side for some reason and wearing a pair of badly broken sunglasses.

It was 1970s Waylon Jennings.

He, along with everyone else in the room, was covered with creamy country gravy.

End of dream. I swear...absolutely none of that is made up.

. . .

At dinner tonight, the kids started talking about how I used to have my ears pierced. I got them pierced when I was 18 and wore a small silver hoop in both ears for a few years. I'd say it's been close to twenty years since I've worn earrings and the kids wondered if the holes were still there.

Only one way to find out. A trip to Amy's jewelry box answered that question.

Obviously, hilarity ensued.

Milk Puzzle, A55, Lazy Day Camping

DAY 6 -- I woke up early today. A Saturday. The Mister Rogers marathon isn't going to watch itself, you know.

The rain and clouds outside told me that it was going to be a pretty lazy day around our house. In an effort to not be completely unproductive this weekend, I headed to Lowe's to pick up some salt for the water softener. Of course, while I was out I stopped at Goodwill, the library sale, and the video game store, too. Despite the fact that used puzzles are rarely complete, I found one at Goodwill that I couldn't pass up.

Yes. Your eyes are working just fine. That a 350 piece puzzle and every last piece is the same shade of solid brown. Stupid, huh? Why was this so unique aside from the fact that it'd obviously be a giant pain in the butt to put together.

Packaging is everything.

And, yes, the completed puzzle looks like a puddle of spilled milk.

I tried to put it together but quit after five minutes and just counted the pieces instead.

There are three missing.

. . .

I found a few Hardy Boys books...

...and some other books you'd expect to be brought home by a 40-year-old man.

I justify my collections of children's books to Amy by explaining that I love the artwork -- that late 70s / early 80s style. I realize this is a weird equivalent to a guy telling his wife that he reads Playboy for the articles.

And, as I've said before, when CDs are a buck, I lack self control.

I'd forgotten how good Beck is.

. . .

Occasionally I see cars with license plates that starts with A55. They always make me laugh.


. . .

I've talked before about my search for the old yellow cups from Mazzio's Pizza -- a restaurant we went to often when I was a kid. Of course, I'm counting on eBay to come through for me at some point and in my search, I recently came across this guy.

I didn't buy it, but something tells me that if the price had been right and I was still drinking beer, I'd be sipping out of this thing all summer.


What an amazingly stupid idea.

. . .

As expected, this turned into a super lazy day around our house. I think Amy squeezed as many episodes of Gilmore Girls as possible out of the day while Mason is clearly grasping the concept of rainy days on summer break, as well.

Note to self: Put away laundry.

I found the girls under Charlotte's bed. I didn't ask questions. I just took their picture.

. . .

There's a campout going on in Charlotte's room tonight. Girls only.

Except for Mason's buddy, Alex. He was allowed to join the girls' dolls who are sleeping in the tent -- but only as long as he's willing to brave the elements.

. . .

I heard today that May is National Strawberry Month. With that, here's a look at my favorite item I've ever found while junk shopping.

To this day, I regret not buying it.

Pre-School Rich, Chris Cornell, Neighborhood Widow

DAY 5 -- Mason's the first out of the gate into legit summer break. Yesterday was his last day of pre-school which means that in less than three months, we'll have all three of our kids in school.

This also means we'll be rich since we're not paying for pre-school anymore.

Seriously though, a huge thanks goes to the teachers our kids have had in this pre-school over the past six years. We've been very hashtag-blessed.

. . .

Chris Cornell died yesterday and there's been a ton of Soundgarden stuff shared online. Some Audioslave and Temple of the Dog stuff, too.

But what about Cornell's biggest and most influential project as a pal of Citizen Dick?

You may remember the fictional band Citizen Dick from the movie Singles. I stood in line at Record Store Day a few years ago to get my hands on their first and only official release.


. . .

I've been watching a lot of the Mister Rogers marathon on Twitch these past few days as it's getting into some of the episodes I don't have (or at least ones I don't have decent quality copies).

You've heard of football widows, right? Wives who all but lose their husbands during football season?

Over the coming week, my wife will likely feel like a Neighborhood widow.

I'm apologizing in advance.

An Expert In My Field

DAY 4 -- Some people are experts in their fields whether it be politics, finance, sports, or any other of countless fields. When research is being conducted on specific topics, it is not uncommon for the researcher to contact experts for their informed opinions.

I was recently consulted for and quoted in an article about every color of sweater Mister Rogers wore from 1979 until 2001.

Be proud, friends and family. I've clearly reached the big time.

Morning Quiet, Summer To-Dos, Softball "Blowout"

DAY 3 -- One of my favorite things has become the handful of minutes I spend on the back porch in the mornings. I've been getting up early a few days a week recently to play racquetball with a couple of friends. We play for about an hour and I'm back home about fifteen minutes before everyone wakes up and the chaos of the day begins. Having pre-set the coffee maker the night before, there's fresh coffee ready when I walk in the door. I pour myself a cup of coffee and spend the next fifteen minutes on the back porch in silence. The only sounds are a few passing cars and the birds in the trees.

And it's wonderful.

. . .

My summer to-do list seems to be growing every day.

Re-dig a section of the front ditch, fix the leak in the garbage disposal, paint the living room and the basement, stain and seal the front porch and back deck, install a back-up sump pump, finish cleaning up the berm, tune up the lawn mower and leaf collector, remove several tree stumps, add high shelves in the garage, fix the snowblower..........

Who's betting that this list looks pretty much the same in August?

. . .

Anna had a softball game tonight. According to what her coach told her, their team won 74-3.

Hardy Boys, Neighborhood Marathon, Get Along Gang

DAY 2 -- My mom's oldest brother's name is Mike.

Sometimes, when we were kids, we'd call him Big Mike.

Because he's big. And his name is Mike.

In the late 80's, I remember my Uncle Mike having several collections in his house. Among the antiques and Coca-Cola memorabilia was a pristine set of the original Hardy Boys books. Having checked out many of these books from my local library, I recall asking my uncle where he got the set and how much it cost. In my mind, I was going to save my kid money to buy a set of my own -- despite the hefty price tag on the order form he showed me (I want to say it was around $300).

In this conversation, I remember asking him which of the books he'd read. His chuckle in response told me he hadn't read any of them -- a fact I just couldn't wrap my kid mind around. Why would he have this awesome set of books and not read them?

Thirty-plus years later, I have my own set of the original Hardy Boys books which I picked up about ten years ago for next to nothing. My goal from there, has been to piece together a complete set of the later series known as the digests and the Case Files -- a few hundred book in all. I buy them for cheap at resale shops and flea markets when I see them and occasionally a priced-to-sell lot will show up on eBay. One of those arrived in my mailbox today.

These will be added to my growing collection even though I know I'll probably never get around to actually reading them.

I get it now, Big Mike.

. . .

Yesterday began an eighteen-day marathon on Twitch featuring every one of the nearly 900 episodes of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, streamed in chronological order from the old black-and-whites to those from the Neighborhood's final years. Since I've seen and documented about 75% of these episodes on, I've been really enjoying the fact that I can just sit back and watch the excitement around this marathon. It's fun to see the nostalgia that is brought to the surface when people are seeing these episodes for the first time since their childhoods.

The added bonus here, of course, is the fact that traffic on my Neighborhood Archive site has skyrocketed this week to almost double it's normal volume! I'm very eager to see how much traffic sticks around after the marathon ends...

. . .

In my top five TV theme songs you'd find a short-lived Saturday morning cartoon from the 80s called the Get Along Gang.

I had a few Get Along Gang toys when I was a kid including a small PVC figure of Zipper the Cat. Last week, someone I follow online was selling a set of the six main characters from the show including the Zipper figure I'd lost long ago. The price was super cheap so I had no choice.

I remember I used to position Zipper on his side and pretend he was breakdancing.

How I remember this stuff is beyond me.

Flea Market, Mother's Day, SOT17

DAY 1 -- Working in public education, I reach a point every year where I am just mentally checked out. Not to the point where I no longer meet the daily expectations of my job as we finish out the school year, but just over that threshold into what I've always referred to as "summer mode." The point where the sun shines a little brighter, the days are a little longer, and my mindset is a little more carefree.

Earlier this year than most, I've most definitely entered summer mode territory.

With that in mind, why not get this show on the road? Even though I technically have two more weeks before I'm officially on break, I declare The Summer of Tim underway!

Counting today, that gives me 80 days to share with you the careless joys of summer vacation. Eighty days of flip-flops, sunscreen, and a list of projects that will not be completed by August but sure look good on paper. My hope is that you'll enjoy reading about my arbitrary thoughts and experiences as much as I enjoy sharing them and that they, in some way, might help bring some perspective to your own life.

I'll forever remember the comments of my pal Brian (who hosts a great site called Cool & Collected, by the way) when he once offered the Summer of Tim a perfect compliment:
"Over the past couple of have inspired me to slow down, drink more, and even take in a ballgame or two -- and I don't even like baseball."
Considering I haven't had a drop to drink in over three months, I doubt I'll be doing much to encourage your alcohol consumption this summer. Still, I hope you'll find some time to relax with me over the next eighty days.

Slow down. Have fun. Enjoy yourself.

. . .

Last week when Charlotte's class hosted breakfast for their parents, she gave me (and Amy) a book she had made called "Why I Love My Parents." Among many other wonderful details in the book, Charlotte mentioned that one of her favorite things to do with me is to go to the flea market.

Considering this past weekend was flea market weekend, we had no choice. We went to the flea market.


Charlotte grabbed her purse and a wad of birthday money. I armed myself with a fresh cup of coffee and some music for the sunny half-hour drive ahead. After thirty minutes and a failed attempt to to introduce my daughter to Sir Mix-a-Lot's Swass album, we arrived at the flea market.

Or, as my kids call it, the treasure place.

. . .

I'll save you the who-bought-what-from-who (or is it whom?), but here's a quick rundown of the treasures we brought home.

Charlotte scored some Beanie Babies -- three for two bucks -- one for her and one for each of her siblings. We laughed for quite a while about the bare-butt baboon named Cheeks. We assumed he must go by his middle name in which case his first name must be Butt.


Having always had a love for rocks, and fresh off her recent Rock Hound competition at the Science Olympiad, Charlotte was thrilled to dig through a few containers full of polished stones, minerals, and other rocks. She walked away with several arrow heads and some very cool stones -- ten for a dollar.

My daughter choosing rocks over toys was super cool to see, but I was proudest when she decided against buying a fidget spinner -- despite the fact that every other kid her age in the world seems to have one.

. . .

As for me, I finally got around to finishing up a set of Garfield mugs. One I've had since I was a kid and two others I've picked up randomly over the years. Even though I see these things everywhere, I've never bothered taking home the fourth one until this weekend.

A bag of Little People accessories for three bucks? Yes, please. Especially considering the bag included two chairs I was missing from the castle set. Remember that castle set I drove to Peoria for?

Random CDs -- many immediately taking me on a trip back to my college days. Three for a buck. Yep.

Then there's Little People airplane and snowmobile I've passed by several time over the past year of multiple visits to the flea market. I mentioned this in conversation with the seller who immediately cut me a huge discount so he didn't have to pack them up again. Sold.

Reggie Miller figure? Back in the day, Reggie killed the Knicks on more than one occasion but I thought it'd be fun to have him join John Starks and Patrick Ewing on the shelf.

Speaking of sports figures, I noticed one seller had a Jim Abbott Starting Line-Up figure. You may recall, Jim Abbott was a pitcher with only one hand. He'd hold his glove on his arm, pitch the ball, and then slide his pitching hand into the glove. He even pitched a no-hitter for the Yankees back in 1993.

Pretty amazing, but I was sure there was no way that they'd go as far as to make this figure anatomically correct.

I was wrong. And in that moment I knew Jim Abbott would be coming home with me.

A few other random items along the way included more for the Little People collection and an illustrated Return of the Jedi book for a quarter.

Rounding out this junk shopping experience was a stop at my favorite book store -- the non-profit where they sell anything of value online but everything in their outlet store is a quarter. New to the shelves were a dozen or so games for the original Sony PlayStation and at 25 cents each, I figured it was worth a shot at making a few bucks.

Once I got them home, I quickly found that I was able to trade them in for credit on Amazon for almost the exact amount I had spent over the course of the entire morning. Charlotte and I had essentially executed a free trip to the flea market.


. . .

It was nearing lunch time as we headed home so we stopped off at our favorite local restaurant -- The Hen House -- for lunch. Knowing full well that the rest of our family would be insanely jealous of our greasy-spoon meal, Charlotte and I decided that we needed to prepare a story for when we were asked if we had eaten lunch. Here's what we came up with:
We'd met a scientist who was selling time machines at the flea market. He asked us to try one of his machines and we traveled back to 1999 where we ate at Dunkin' Donuts. Charlotte had three chocolate donut holes and apple juice. I had a glazed donut with rainbow sprinkles and a large coffee. The weather was sunny.
When we got home, Amy asked if we had eaten and we offered her this amazing experience.

She didn't believe us.

. . .

We celebrated Mother's Day yesterday hanging out in the back yard and with a dip in Grandma and Grandpa's not-quite-warm-enough-for-swimming 78-degree pool.

I regret not taking a picture of the girls by themselves in their matching dresses. I imagine it would have looked a lot like this...

. . .

The third graders visited the high school where I work today for their annual relay day -- races and competitions on the track. Of course, I had to take advantage and catch one of Charlotte's races. Here she is as part of the shuttle relay...

. . .

Lots about Charlotte here, I suppose. I swear we have two other kids.

The Summer of Tim is here, gang. Enjoy...