Category Archives: Family

Throwback: Walking

Walking.

My kids do not walk anywhere.

Now, part of the reason is based on where we live. Our neighborhood is bordered by a highway and a back road with a speed limit of 55 and no shoulder. Even though the lake and park are only about a mile away, it is not safe for the kids to walk there.

But I don’t think this generation walks much. Again, I recognize that the culture has changed. As I write this a line from Train’s song, “Calling All Angels,” comes to mind:

When children have to play inside so they don’t disappear

Two years ago in my town, some seniors from a local school thought it would be funny to drive around in a black car, and wearing the mask from the movie, Scream, try to snag little girls playing outside. At least that is what they said when they got caught, that it was just a joke. No, they didn’t actually get any of the girls into their car, but for almost two weeks someone was outside when our girls were playing.

And this makes me sad.

I remember, especially in junior high, walking everywhere. I walked to friends’ houses. I walked to our mini-mart to play Street Fighter or to buy a Mt. Dew to drink as I walked. On Saturdays, we would all walk to the library to play Dungeons and Dragons. Or we would just roam through the town. Maybe playing basketball at the elementary school, the nine-foot rims! We even stopped by our teacher’s home to say hello.

Sometimes we even had some deep conversations that helped us through tough times, and strengthened our friendships.

I miss those days. It saddens me that my kids don’t get to experience that freedom of childhood. But I’ll take a walk with my girls this weekend… we will laugh, take too many stops to drink water, and give them a sense of freedom… to be a kid.

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Throwback: Mixtapes

1985

“Dang it!”

I push rewind for the fifth time on the left side player. Then rewind, then play, to hear the end of the song so I can stop the tape. There has to be the right amount of silence between songs, plus this is the last song on this side, so I have to make sure it fits. I have already recorded the songs on the paper cover, in pen even. This is the first mixtape for this girlfriend, so it has to be right.

Cassette with tile of post
2018

Text message: i made u a playlist on youtube http:tube/s6dfe82jn

Text message: some obscure emoji…

My kids are missing out on making mixtapes. And that saddens me, here’s why.

 

One, a mixtape took work. You had to know if songs would fit each side. Had to have the tape of the songs you wanted. If you didn’t you had to borrow them, or try to get the song taped off the radio. And that was always a difficult situation. The DJ might talk right up to the first line of the song, or you were busy doing something when the song came on and couldn’t get to the radio to hit record.

When you handed that tape to her, you both knew the work it took to make it and that meant something.

Two, the challenge to pick the right songs. Depending on where you were in the relationship affected the song selection. So, you would have to listen to every song’s lyrics. You would have to evaluate if the lyrics were too serious for the relationship, while also deciding if she would actually like the song. There was some serious analysis put into song selection for mixtapes.

Third, the joy of sharing something about ourselves. OK, to be truthful this happens now, even with YouTube playlists. Right now my sons and I are sharing our top five songs at the moment (one song each day). A kind of end of summer thing. Over Christmas break we shared our top 10 important songs. My best friend and I have made various mixtapes (and then CDs) over the years. I have a feeling we will make a mix for when we turn 50…

A mixtape, or even a playlist, allows the other person to know us in a unique personal way. Yes, it is nostalgic, but I still think a mixtape is better than a playlist… there are no commercials, only music that I choose to share with you.

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Throwback: Letters

Notebook with pen

As the new school year looms around the corner, I thought I would have a little fun by writing a small series on some of the differences between our times growing up. Aspects I feel my kids are missing in their lives that kind of defined my time in the 80’s. These posts will be published on Thursdays for the next couple of weeks. To start, I am going to discuss writing letters, with a slight lean to those awesome high school love letters…

Remember passing notes in class?

I always thought I was sneaky by scratching my neck and dropping the note down my back onto the desk behind me.

Or I would fold up the note and push it through the little vents of the locker of my best friend or girlfriend at that time.

Or the simple process of handing it to someone as we passed in the hall.

Today my kids just text, and most of that communication is emoji based, and that is the deeper aspect they are missing. Being able to express their emotions through writing. Now, I’m not declaring that my high school letters would make Ralph Emerson jealous, or that my best friend and I wrote about theories on how we could graph life on an X, Y, and Z axis… wait we actually did that… anyway… Writing letters was part of my everyday routine.

Social connections are an important part of the teen years. Writing letters helped build those connections before texting. It improved our connections (and writing) because the blank page called to us to fill it with meaningful things. A one line note was not worth writing or reading.  If the letter was for a girlfriend, it had to be romantic, if not kind of cheesy… (looking back now. At the time I thought I was suave).

Today, though, my kids just text a face with a heart or something. What does that even mean? Because of technology there is no separation between people, meaning they never spend time wondering if their girlfriends are thinking about them right at that moment. They will never be pleasantly surprised when they open their locker to see a note.  As an English teacher, they are not challenged to write, to consider word choice, to bridge their emotions to the written word.

Do I text my family and friends? Yes, but at times I still write a card or note. There is something magical about receiving (and writing) a letter. I miss those days…

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20 Years of Marriage

Tile of blog with two rings

20 years of marriage today.

I was going to write a deep “what I’ve learned” type of blog… but I’ll save that for later. This post may still be deep, but it will be light-hearted and dedicated to celebrating 20 years of love.

First, a song from one of my wife’s favorite artist…

This use to be my ringtone for my wife on my first phone, back in 2004. The phone had that hidden keyboard you slid down when you turned the phone on its side. It was blue. But anyway, this ringtone got me a free coffee one day.

I was at the Blue Moon in Hastings when my wife called. And from my pocket Celion started to sing, “Because I am your lady, and you are my man.” There was an awkward few seconds before I said, “That’s my wife calling.”

The barista handed me the coffee and said, “No charge. Any husband who will have that ringtone for his wife deserves a coffee.”

Time for another music break…

This is my favorite Josh Groban song. My wife and I got to see him play this song in concert, plus, he played the song on a secondary stage that happen to be right in front of us. Yes, I teared up during the song (come on, who wouldn’t). That night is one our favorite date nights. But we saw Tim McGraw and Faith Hill last year. We have seen the musical of Beauty and the Beast. We have also been to Brian Regan and Phantom of the Opera with our children. We don’t get to do big events like that often, but they are awesome moments in our life.

Another music break…

At the moment, my wife and I are watching the whole series of Miami Vice (I got the series as a Christmas gift). Almost every summer we choose something to watch. One summer we watched every Star Trek movie, yes even the new ones. It was interesting to watch the progression of special effects. We have watched every episode of Friends. We have seen all the Hobbit and Lord of the Ring movies, to name a few of our summer series.

I have one more music break, but before I share that, who says we don’t have a soundtrack to our lives?

This last song is from the final movie in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn – Part 2. It was the only one we saw in a theater (yes, we watched all the other films on DVD, together). I think there was only three guys, including me, in the theater. And I kind of embarrassed my wife. I was enjoying the final fight scene, to be honest. That scene was pretty epic, but when the movie cuts back to reveal that the whole scene was Alice Cullen showing Aro what would happen if he continued with his choice to fight, I said something like, “no way” or “what?”, loudly. There was a loud “shhh” response…

As the credits started to role, this song played…

It has been 20 years of marriage for Lynette and I today. I was up early to get ready for work. I kissed her before I headed out the door. There have been some really tough times, moments of joy that have broken my heart, but we have stuck together. As I pulled my car out of the garage (radio on Yacht Rock) I smiled… I can’t wait to hear the next song in our life.

Love always, me.

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The Work it Takes

The college is replacing the light poles in their parking lot.

I have written about building a foundation before, in different ways, but as I walked past the hole the workers created, a different thought came to mind.

We can’t actually build a foundation until we have done the work to prepare to build it. For the workers, they had to remove the old foundation, remove dirt, and deal with the wires. Then they had to dig the correct sized hole to build the new foundation.  Let’s use this process as a metaphor for our own development.

What is the work we need to do to create the space for our new foundation?

What dirt do we have to dig into? The first step is dealing with emotions. Fear, doubt, and even anger have to be dug into. Addressing what emotions are involved is an important step. It doesn’t mean you will eliminate them. And you shouldn’t try to remove emotions, but you should address them. Talk about them with someone. Understand how those emotions are affecting your actions. By addressing them you can build your plan, which is the second step.

I believe a working plan is the best. Meaning that we have goals or milestones to reach but we need a plan that is flexible so that we can adjust as our lives change. Even as a father, I have a plan this year to make sure my oldest son is ready for college. There are milestones we want to cover with him so that he has a strong foundation for next year. Some of those include budgeting, servicing his car, and other aspects of being on his own. Having a plan is important because of the last step, dealing with expectations.

As I pondered about writing this post, a deeper insight emerged. Whatever foundation we want to build, we have to dig a bigger hole so that we can build that foundation. That means we have to deal with emotions, plans, and consider more of our lives than just that foundation. We have to dig the right size hole to fit our new foundation. If the hole is too small, we might be able to get a foundation built, but it will not be as strong as we need it to be. If you dig the hole too large, the foundation can be built as planned, but our life is affected. Sinkholes will appear. We will spend more time fixing those, instead of building our foundation.

There are a number of foundations in our lives. As time goes by we build new ones and have to replace old ones. Just remember the work you need to do before you construct a foundation: deal with your emotions, plan how to build, and dig out the correct space to build your foundation.

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Our Story Part II

It is late Sunday evening, and I don’t know when you might read this, but let me share a few highlights of the week. The following moments are parts of other people’s stories and mine.

My oldest son is in Baltimore for National FBLA competing in Public Speaking.

A coworker headed home for a family wedding as her marriage is in the process of ending.

My other son spent time in Indiana on a basketball trip with his high school team. They visited the Milan 1954 Hoosiers MuseumHoosiers gym, Butler University, and played a basketball game against a school also named Adams Central.

I spent a morning working in my new classroom (more on that later).

I attended the funeral for the son of a colleague.

Two of my daughters were in their first play, 101 Dalmatians Jr.

An instructor shared that her daughter moved into her home with her four kids because the daughter’s marriage was ending.

I finished an excellent graphic novel, I am Alfonso Jones. I highly recommend this graphic novel.

Finished making the third movie of the trapped trilogy.

We attended a wedding for my niece. They dated for over four years.

Our Story

This past week was filled with stories: heartbreak, new beginnings, happiness, and history. It is incredible to think about all the stories being written right at this moment. Some filled with joy, while others are experiencing pain and heartache. Someone right now is trying to fight off doubt and fear, while at the same time a couple is welcoming a new child into the world.

A great story is not without pain or without love. I don’t know what words you are writing right now for your story. But I do know that your story is important, that the words are yours and they need to be written by you. There will always be plot twists that surprise us, but remember, you get to write the next scene… write from your heart.

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Life is Traffic

Traffic Light

I have been commuting for sixteen years.  I have blogged about driving a few times (Cruise Control, We Can’t Always See). My oldest child will be a senior this year. Commuting has given me time to think about how fast the coming year will go and about all the things I want my son to know. There is so much about life I hope he is ready for. While driving I had this crazy thought,  “Life is traffic.” This post is my fatherly advice for him.


Son,

Understand that traffic laws, signs, and stoplights are designed for the safety of everyone on the road. The rules are not meant to hinder you, they are in place so that everyone will travel safely to their destination. Even the unwritten rules are meant to make the road safe for everyone. You are not the only driver. Be respectful of everyone else on the road. That is one of the reasons people lose their cool driving. Other people break the rules and disrespect the other drivers.  It is true for life, too. We are all just trying to drive our own lives. Respect other people’s journeys.

Use your turn signal, and turn it on before you are actually turning.

Cruise control is only good for the open road. Once traffic gets heavy, drive your car. This also holds true for life. At times life will feel like a routine, but don’t fall into the trap of the cruise control. It is easy to give up control to the car or to a job. Don’t. Cars are meant to be driven. Life is meant to be lived.

On that note, at some point, learn to drive a car with a stick shift. You will understand the true beauty of driving. You will feel the power of the engine, understand the art of shifting to higher gears. You will face the challenge of keeping the car running as you shift to first gear at a stoplight on an incline. An important part of life is learning to tackle the hard things so that we can live more fully. Step outside your comfort zone and you’ll find that there is so much more to experience in life.

As in life, give people space while driving. Don’t tailgate people, or swerve right in front of them. Why? Reread the first point. Also, don’t spend 10 miles trying to pass. Turn off the cruise control and drive.

Did I mention use your turn signal?

When you travel, plan ahead. Know where you are going. Know what route you are going to take. I know some people will argue that you should just follow the open road, but I have been lost. And that is scary. By knowing your destination, by planning, you can then actually be spontaneous. You can take the back roads, or spend an afternoon in a small town, because you know where you need to go. I am not suggesting that you plan out your whole life, I know how unpredictable life can be, but I have always known what dreams and goals I wanted to achieve. Those have been my mile markers. Being lost, whether driving or in life, is a scary place to be. Always remember to call me if you ever find yourself lost.

Accidents. Some will be your fault, but most will be the fault of others. You know that the two major accidents I have been involved with were because of someone running a red light. My advice is that you have to be alert while you drive. And then you have to be ready to handle the fallout from the accident: reports, phone calls to insurance, car repairs or replacements. Like many aspects of life, a single moment will cause a chain reaction for your future. Some of the effects are minor, others will set your life on a whole new direction. You will never see an accident coming. Don’t try to evade your responsibility, or responsibility for your life.

Don’t ever drink and drive. EVER.

Life is traffic. Respect people on the road and in your life. Try not to drive on cruise control for too long. Learn to drive a stick. Mom and I are here if you ever need a lift.

And always use your turn signal.

Love, Dad.

 

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