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Battle of the manger scene

December 1st, 2015 2 comments

Jesus Christ. He’s a cool dude. Would you celebrate the birth of someone who wasn’t? The Christmas holiday was always a big production in my house from the lights and Clark Griswold style decorations to the manger scene my gram made for us in ceramic class. Personally I’ve always been kinda meh about it but the kiddos have been warming up my Grinch like tendencies over the last year. I’ve started to rediscover family traditions and began a few of our own.

Every family has their own style when it comes to decorating for the holidays and yearly it causes a ruckus in my house. In fact the Christmas holiday season doesn’t kickoff for me until the first squabble over one question occurs.

Should baby Jesus be in the manger before Christmas?

When I was young the tradition was that baby Jesus stayed tucked away, usually in a drawer, until 12:01am on Christmas morning or the moment you get home from Midnight Mass and then you placed him in the manger. Simple right? Makes sense, eh? Keep reading.

.Manger Scene with Jesus Manger Scene Without Jesus

The discussion is usually like this.

Wife: Why isn’t baby Jesus out?
Me: Because he wasn’t born yet.
W: Yes he was, over 2000 years ago.
M: Yeah but his birthday isn’t until the 25th so right now we recognize the travel of everyone to the manger.
W: But he’s already born.
M: No he wasn’t.
W: Yes he was. Quit being stupid. We do this every year.
M: And every year I say the same thing.

This year we had an unofficial solution. I get a manger with no Jesus and she has one with Jesus. My family tradition, no matter how much it may seem odd, is one I’m keeping.

Categories: Family, Fatherhood

KISS Meets the Derda Family Halloween

November 2nd, 2015 No comments

When your 6yr old says “Daddy, I want to be KISS for Halloween!” one thing enters your mind. We’re going to need more makeup!

Yeah, I geeked out a bit when I heard those words and honestly I had nothing to do with it. OK, maybe something.

KISS Teaspoon Spoon

A few months ago I bought the boys “Scooby-Doo! & Kiss: Rock & Roll Mystery Trailer” on DVD and since then they LOVE KISS. The music is easy to sing, they’re mesmerized by the theatrics and the experience is, well, it’s magical.

Teaspoon’s original plan was to go as an Army guy so it seemed like a no-brianer to me that he would now be a member of the KISS Army while his brother was hellbent on being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. I’m not usually one to dress up but this holiday would be the first time I’ve had the makeup on since Halloween 1999 when I sported doctor scrubs and the Catman’s makeup for a stint as Dr. Love.

We spent the holiday at my brother’s since my mom was in town visiting and it didn’t take long before people started saying “You like Insane Clown Posse? COOL KID!”

*UGH*

Nothing against Juggalos but seriously, I even had a KISS hockey jersey on.

Halloween 2015 went down as a memorable holiday and one in which the bar has been set for Halloween costumes in my kids eyes. Next year I’ll have to aim higher. Anyone know how to make a working proton pack?

Categories: Family, Fatherhood

Derda boys hit the Pirates final home game

October 7th, 2015 No comments

Fan Appreciation Day (a.k.a. final home game of the season) with the Pittsburgh Pirates was as much of a tradition as attending Opening Day when I was younger. I could dream of playoffs but next to the 90-92 run, the reality was that I was there for the giveaways or “Clean out the promo closet for next year!” day. Last Sunday I was able to relive those times as a kid with my oldest son.

Spoon and Teaspoon at the Pirates gameTeaspoon has been on me all summer to attend a ballgame and on Sunday the stars (and our schedules) finally aligned to make it happen but going isn’t cheap for a family of four. After a quick search of StubHub I scored 2 seats to the right of home plate for $20/each. Two not four? Cheeseburger was more interested in spending the day with his mom so I got lucky on this one.

Quick trip on the Red Line brought us down to the North Shore where we took part in the Sunday Pirates Kids Zone. Bouncy houses, face painting and plenty of fun activities for kids.

Having burned his energy outside, Teaspoon was ready to kick back and watch some ball. Actually he wanted food and he wanted it NOW! Since we were working on many firsts for this game I got one in for myself. A meal I’ve dreamed about for years but could never stand in line long enough to justify hunger over waiting. I finally had a Manny’s BBQ and the bbq pulled pork sandwich (pictured below) lived up to the hype I’ve been hearing. The secret is getting to the stand behind center field when the gates open to 45 minutes before first pitch otherwise you could be waiting awhile.

Before the game kicked off the Pirates saluted A.J. Burnett and Aramis Ramirez who will be ending their careers at the end of the season. A.J. didn’t spend a lot of time with the Pirates but quickly won over the fans and team with his gritty presence. He’s a badass. This team would not be as successful as it is now without his leadership.

A-Ram came to the Pirates in the 90’s and bounced around the majors before returning here for one more season. He’s the last of the Pirates who can say they played at Three Rivers Stadium and PNC Park.

Just before first pitch came the last surprise, a monstrous weather balloon from the Carnegie Science Center which they launched 96,0000 feet into the mid-stratosphere! Cameras were attached to the balloon which you can watch in the breath taking video below.

YouTube Preview Image

Oh yeah there was a game too. Pirates held on to a 4-0 win against the Reds which leads to the NL Wild Card game tonight against the Cubs in Pittsburgh. Buctober is taking the country by storm and I’ll be on my couch with the boys catching every minute of it. They may get a pass to stay up late but they’ll have to clear it with their mother first.

Getting out of the house – the year of family travel

September 29th, 2015 No comments

I’ve joked over the years that unless someone was getting married or had passed away, we’ve never been on a family vacation and I haven’t taken a break in over 10 years. Sad thing was, I wasn’t kidding. It was the truth.

Cheeseburger Derda Erie ZooVacations and time off were never part of my vocabulary and looking back it has been one of my biggest regrets. I was raised to believe that you work no matter what and there will be time to rest when you are dead. I was constantly connected and little did I know there was more than time in the sun I was missing. It would piss me off when I saw friends who always griped about not having money posting pics from trips they took every couple of months. If I was going to do this I would have to learn how to relax. You read that correctly. I didn’t know how to relax.

Every winter we would day dream about trips to take and then reality would sink in, I’d freak about money, logistics behind organizing an adventure and stress out to the point where I’d say “screw this!” and go back to work. After being off for a year to stay home with the boys I discovered I had to make more time for my family and more importantly, myself.

You may have noticed a serious lack of posts this year… or you haven’t (hi new people!). After returning from our first trip in April I made the decision to take a blogging break as well. Then we went on more unplanned vacations and let me tell you, it was freaking wonderful. Nothing breaking the bank either. We found great (read as hella cheap) ways to relax as a family and have fun. This post will be a kickoff for the 2015 Derda travel series which include:

  • Waco, TX – Week long adventure including flights with Spirit Airlines, dining at the restaurant where biker warfare took place and so much good BBQ it shot out my ears.
  • Sherman, NY – A week in the woods at “Cabin on Echo Pond” by Chautauqua turned out to be one of the most relaxing places in the world.
  • Erie, PA – Sometimes you need to go home to get yourself grounded.
  • Cherry Hill, NJ – You don’t know a long road trip until you’ve been on a Greyhound bus. Solo trip for my first ever guy’s weekend and memories that ummm well we ate and drank very well.
  • Harrisville, PA – Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest was the site for my 1st ever camping trip. You can guess how this city slicker handled the woods.

Stories above will become live as the stories are posted over the next week and they’ll all link to each other.

Categories: Family, Fatherhood

R.I.P. Kevin and Bob – The Derda Fish. A Father’s Journey Into Pets

August 13th, 2015 1 comment

Oh we barely knew ye but the amount of joy you brought to our boys could never be measured. You were an inspiration to all of us in the Derda family even though your time with us was short… in fact you guys didn’t even make it 24hours.

Wait, can I get some kind of refund here?

Kevin and Bob - The Derda Fish

Everyone knows that goldfish from a church festival never last more than a few days and I expected that out of Kevin but Bob, WTF dude?

Monday night when I get home from work the fishies were swimming, the kids were singing, rainbows and unicorns were everywhere. Ahhh the life of an awesome dad.

Wait, what’s that horrendous screeching?

My kids are wailing “OMFG WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR FISH?!?!” “WHY GOD? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?” from the living room. (OK maybe that was a little dramatic on my end but still.)

The kids got their first lesson on death, pets and expectations you should set when you win a fish at a game that is $1 for 7 ping pong balls. What I didn’t expect was that a trained professional at a pet store would lead us down the path of eternal sleep.

Shortly after we promised the boys their friends would have a proper burial in the “porcelain chute to Heaven” (thank God they don’t think EVERYTHING we flush goes up) we headed to Petsmart in Bethel Park to see what we could do. I’m not comfortable going into stores where I have to deal with salespeople on topics I don’t know about but the staff was absolutely amazing and patient while the 2 grieving wiener kids ran around trying to convince me to buy a shark.

Yes, a shark.  Didn’t happen.

Since we’ve never owned fish the young lady spent time explaining that you couldn’t “Just pour tap water and dump them in. They can handle it.” like the previous store did, she talked to me about testing the water, what types of treatment we need and which fish are compatible together. Apparently they have gangs like the Jets and the Sharks.

At the end of the night we walked out with 2 new Tetras, a better understanding of fish/water ratio and what to look for. If you’re keeping score at home, the $1.00 spent to win the original fish ended up costing us $57 to date.

Once the little guys grow you can stop over and say hello to our new family members, Speedy and Bob the Fast Fish.

 

Categories: Family, Fatherhood