Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Beast from the East

A clever man once told me to,"Think of the 10 most important moments of your life. I bet seven of them involved food and three of those took place around the dinner table". Amen, brother.

On the east side of town, a contractor threw up a set of apartments. They're all very nice and sit right next to the city's new Greenway Project. Each apartment features a balcony and each balcony was made of wood. At the end of the build, there was a small stack of 2x6 remnants left over. Through a friend in-the-know, Chucked Wood inherited this stack and began searching for a project to match. It was found as we finished the build for the family that now spends time around this table:

They had friends that were also "in the market" for a table, too. By the end of our first chat, it was very clear that this family knew how to celebrate the little things in life often overlooked by others. They use words like "massive, cool, warm, one-of-a-kind & able to take a beating" when describing their dream table. They wanted a piece that would not only withstand the chaos of two growing boys but one that would be there for future confirmation dinners, graduation lunches and wedding feasts. Family is important to this, well uh... this family.

So, this 4'x8' piece was designed, created & held together with approximately eleventy billion Kreg Jig pocket joints, delivered then... beaten up, engraved, distressed by the fam:
event the dog got a piece of the action.
And then... returned to Chucked Wood, sanded, stained, sealed (by the way, the gang at Minwax know how to crank out a damn fine product that gets it done), re-delivered and now sits atop two antique sewing machines that serve as its base.
Even a wide angle can't contain this 4'x8' beast!
As a dad to two amazing little minions, I connected with this family's passion for life and laughter. The build was blog-worthy and now exists for you to see. So, tonight at dinner, look around the table at the faces that share in your daily life. Savor them, because not only do they cherish us, but odds are, they have some juicy gossip on us that they can use to destroy us down the road.

Here's to life!


Just a small sampling of the details work the family created. 

Ain't it the truth?! And, note all of their hand prints in the center. Awesome.

The Tic-Tac-Toe grid is for nights when they have peas & corn for dinner
These were a score, & still function!

Monday, March 11, 2013

I Walk for My Superhero

Now that March is here, it's time to celebrate two things:
1. St. Patty's Day (I can tast the Guinness already)

In 2007, my wife got the call that the numbness she was experiencing in her extremities was, in fact, Multiple Sclerosis. It truly gave us a one-two punch and then just kept hitting. After the near-bankruptcy, picking up our life and having to move as well as the moments of self-doubt, I was reminded of something... why I love my wife.

Shelby has never once given up. Through the poking and prodding,  the self-injections of medication, the side-splitting headaches, she has never waived a white flag. She's held down three part time jobs, started her own catering business, inspired me to begin Chucked Wood and is now the catering liaison for Whole Foods Market, Greensboro. She's amazing, and I walk for her.

The National MS Society has given us so many opportunities to join in the fight against MS. They have also cared for us as people, not as victims. We know the staff on a first name basis, they host informational events and book top-tier speakers and they do anything and everything they can to make a positive difference in the lives of so many that may be overwhelmed by negativity. They're amazing, and I walk for them. 

Our friends and family have rallied to support That Girl's Team every year. Your love and contributions mean the world to us... literally. Thank you for the support, for joining the team and for every happy moment that you have given the Phillips Phamily. You're amazing, and we walk for you.

HERE is a link my personal Walk MS site. If you are able, any amount helps me reach my goal.

Here's to life!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

How to Evade Yard Work (or, "A Lesson in Facial Reconstruction")

I had high hopes for this post. I really did. It was going to be a very entertaining DIY post on building the perfect Tree Swing. Complete with pictures, diagrams and how-to's, it would have been the post to end all posts. Suck it HGTV.
But, life doesn't always work out like I plan. So instead, sit back and enjoy a harrowing tale of a 4-year old boy, enough blood for a True Blood fan-fest and a pretty slick DIY swing.
It's not that I dislike yard work; I actually find it very therapeutic. Our two minions were in the backyard playing on their new tree swing (have I mentioned that I built and installed it myself?) and I was just getting into my Sunday afternoon stick-bundling. Then it happened; the inevitable scream of one minion getting sick and tired of the other minion and expressing said agitation with some form of physical violence. Or so I thought.
What I envisioned as an "Ow! Quit it" love-tap was actually my oldest pushing the empty swing at her brother's face. Fortunately, he caught it... unfortunately, he caught it with his face. So as I'm walking around the side of the house, expecting to reprimand a love tap, I'm greeted by my boy-child as he races around the yard while spitting out copious amounts of blood. Seriously, it was an amazing amount of blood. If I were in a zombie movie, I would have been looking for the head-shot.
Fast forward to the kitchen and the ice wrapped in a towel pressed to his mouth. It was then that I realized that The Boy has one lower lip and now, two upper lips. So perhaps a trip to the ER is in order. We jump in the family's swagger-wagon and we're off; a picture-perfect family. One soon-to-be first grader, emotionally damaged due to the amount of guilt-at-high-volume that I've spewed upon her, her three-lipped zombie brother and me, the daddy covered in more blood than Octo-mom's midwife.
We checked in to the local Emergi-care, fill out the paperwork and start the exam. It goes something like this:
Them: "How did this happen?"
Me: "My son took a swing to the face" (author's note: not the best thing to say when you and your son are covered in his face-blood)
Them: "Do you have any questions?"
Me: "Where is your bathroom? I need to rinse the blood off my knuckles" (author's note; you'd think I would have learned how to shut up by now)
Them: "The doctor will see you."
Me: "I'm really not an idiot."
I cannot express to you how horrifying the next 30 minutes were as a father. What started out as a casual conversation about the "pinch of the injection" and "5-6 stitches to close up the wound" turned into a nightmare that I've only just recovered from. In order to keep Lippy Lipperton still during the procedure, they had to strap him into what can best be described as a Velcro Papoose... even his head. He did not like this... not... one... bit. Once the needle went into his head wound, he erupted. Screams that would bring Rambo to tears filled the ER.
"I can't get out of here!!! Daddy, get me free!!! It hurts and I'm scared!!!"
I was somewhat expectant and mildly prepared for this part. But in order to stitch him up, they then had to cover his face with what I would (and did) describe as a Mormon bed sheet, a small blue dentist bib with a hole cut out of it. The instant it covered his face and he couldn't make eye contact with me, my little man lost his damn mind.
"I can't see my daddy!!! Where are you, Daddy?!?! Why are they hurting me?!?!"
I immediately pulled the Mormon sheet down and looked into the tear filled eyes of my son (now sweating like a whore in church) and felt the true meaning of helplessness. As the doc feverishly stitched the boy up, I looked around the room and saw the two nurses crying and realized I too was a mess. I did the only thing I could think of which was to press my forehead against his and repeat the same thing over and over again, "It's gonna be okay buddy. Daddy's here. I love you. It's gonna be okay buddy. Daddy's here. I love you."
For what felt like eternity, he screamed, I whispered, nurses cried (okay, I cried too) and I envisioned the amount of therapy I will have to pay for in the years to come.
In reality, five minutes after the "wrapping" began, we were done. I tore into the Velcro Death Wrap and held my little pin cushion tighter than ever before. God dammit, I love being his daddy. In a moment filled with the shuddering, whimpering cries of my little super-hero while I smashed him into my chest, I knew that being a Daddy (and the best one I can be) is ALL that matters in my life.
EPILOGUE: It's been four days since "Sunday Fun-day". The sticks are still unbundled, his sister is allowed to come inside the house and I'm finally sleeping through the night without hearing those cries in my dreams. What I've learned is this... Tree Swings are stupid and I hate them. Okay, seriously? It's a damn good tree swing and perhaps one day I'll show you how I built it. Until then... I love you Lippy. You're my super hero. And you have great style.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Observation Deck

This week, Chucked Wood is launching a Kickstarter.com Project; the Observation Deck. It is an installation project that will reside at General Greene Elementary and afford the students an outdoor classroom as well as several "observation & refection" areas. The bench is the same style as the "Press-on Bench" but with the addition of a weather-proof box (aka: mailbox) mounted on the side. This is where the project gets special to me...

I love the stories that people have to share. We all have them, they make us, "us". My favorite part about Thanksgiving is the telling (and often, retelling) of the stories. I enjoy stand-up & improv comedy so much because I can relate to those stories of the dentist, airports, being married, having kids, etc. What keeps me coming back are the different takes each of us has on these subjects; how we view our lives.

So, when the opportunity arose to work with Mr. Howard, a student teacher at Gen Greene, I didn't wait long to say, "yes". He was working on an Environmental Education project and envisioned an outdoor classroom at the school made up of Press-on Benches. We decided to take it one step further and and a journaling, recording, reflection element to the bench that could be stored there as well. We came up with this:

And lastly, built a prototype to showcase on Kickstarter:
So now, we launch a $1000 fund raising effort to make this all a reality. This is all very new and very exciting... wish us luck! The next step is the potential for these to appear in parks & neighborhoods. A place where someone can simply sit, write, reflect, and leave a story behind.


Friday, April 13, 2012

No reason to be thankful (I just am)

After three years of being underemployed, my wife (the chef, seamstress, writer, cater, mother) has landed a full time gig as the Home Cooking Specialist for Whole Foods. That's right, beginning this weekend she'll be slingin' patchouli and pasta inside the beautiful (and super-cool) new addition to Greensboro.
This leads me to my rambling thoughts... I'm really happy today. My kids are healthy (although sick in the head, like Daddy), I have a job (whether I find it fulfilling shall not be discussed) and as I type, I sit in a beautiful spring afternoon. I'm totally gay for this weather... It's FABULOUS!

That's all I really want to say at the moment. Oh, and I still want an answer to my question from earlier in the week; if a group of necrophiliacs ran into a band of zombies, who would chase who?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Get Your Face(book) Outta My Auction!

It's the final 24 hours before the 2012 MS Walk at the Asheboro Zoo. That Girl's Team is made up of our craziest friends and family members that show up, ready to walk and have a good day. We know we had a GREAT day if we don't get kicked out.

I decided this morning to host a little auction for one final fund raising push over at Chucked Wood. The Hang Man is up for grabs to the highest bidder and bids start at $40.This 4-hook coat/hat/towel rack looks great and keeps yet another pallet out of the landfill.
It's been a rewarding experience to raise money for this year's walk. The Phillips Phamily is connected to this disease and it's our friends, family and anonymous donors that make each day a little easier. Thank you for your support.

Here's to life...


Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Wife Kicks (MS's) Ass

Why I Walk...
My wife, Shelby was diagnosed with MS six years ago. This lousy disease flipped our lives upside-down several times over. We were scared, clueless about MS and facing MAJOR hospital bills and the debt that those bills left us with. Each time we were ready to throw in the towel the National MS Society was there. They sent a nurse to our house to educate us, they offered us a shoulder to lean on and they have covered CAT Scans when we had nothing in our bank account. This support was made possible by your donations. Thank you.

As amazing as the Society has been, my wife's resilience has surpassed it. She works two jobs, raises two children (three, if you count me) and manages her own private catering business. I do what I can year round, but this walk is a culmination of all the times I could do more.

My wife kicks ass. She has MS. MS does not have her.

Why We Fight MS
Having multiple sclerosis means that you may not be able to walk when you wake up. Or that you may suddenly have impaired vision. Or that your memory will fail you for no apparent reason. The symptoms of MS are different, and devastating, for everyone - the only certainty is that it will affect yet another person every hour of every day. That sucks.

Why You Should Sponsor Me
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society will use funds collected from the MS Walk to not only support research for a cure tomorrow, but also to provide programs which address the needs of people living with MS today. Because we choose to walk for those who sometimes can't, because we choose to donate to the MS Walk, we are getting closer to the hour when no one will have to hear the words, "You have MS."

To donate: CLICK HERE

Here's to life!