Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Poke with a stick

"Is there something bother you?" I ask my son who seems to be in a sour mood. "Nuthin." mumbles out of his mouth. I do not get it, earlier he was chatty and excited to watch the Percy Jackson movie, then like a switch he became quiet and moody. I do sense he is a bit tired or maybe it was more than that. "Is there something you want to ask me?" I ask again. "No" is the reply. It's getting late and I instruct my son to start getting ready for bed, and after a shower he slumps out of the bathroom and silently gets in his pajamas. Is his state activated by tiredness or something more, so I poke again "Are you sure nothing is bothering know you can tell me..." Silence for a couple of seconds, a sigh, then "Nuthin" squeaks out. I am frustrated because I want him to tell me if there is truly an issue, and anxious that I am manufacturing an imaginary problem. I feel I started the questioning as a concerned dad, but I quickly turn into a pushy parent. I am irritated by this exchange and say goodnight, turn out the light and close the door hard. Later that night I can't sleep. Why did I get so ill-tempered with my son, was there really something bothering him or did my prodding and interrogation enhance my misread of the situation? Or maybe he was just tired...  

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Its a Family Affair II

Event Two: Twin Billings

My wife is upset at me as I weave in and out of traffic. I do not want to be late today since I was instructing everyone to arrive early, and time is not on my side. I just want everything to go smoothly and be a memorable afternoon.  It is not every day that my mother turns 70, and its certainly not every day that she gets to spend her birthday with her twin sister. Last August I took my wife to the Crabtree Kittle House for our anniversary dinner. I had heard about the place, an old farmhouse which then turned into an inn and now its a restaurant, but did not know anyone who has eaten there. We loved the food, the old style feel to the place and the grounds are beautiful. We complemented the hostess about the meal and she began to describe their famous Sunday brunch. My wife immediately suggested that this place would be great for my mother's 70th party. We floated around the idea for months, until a day in early spring when my uncle from Dallas emailed me about doing something festive for the twin's 70th. Like a shelved movie project that suddenly got financed, the idea sprouted legs and after a few conversations got green lit. 

We arrive on time and walk inside. It is very hot outside and the rush of air conditioning felt satisfyingly refreshing. My parents and my aunt and uncle are already there and are excited about the place, the guests, and the makings of a lovely afternoon. Soon everyone arrives, kisses and hugs go around the room and pure joy from seeing long ago faces once again. The restaurant seems dark in contrast to the bright sunlight, except for the flashes from digital cameras capturing history. Eventually everyone gravitates towards the two large tables, and by total chance get split right down the middle, under sixty at one and over sixty at the other. The brunch is buffet style and of course my son is the first one to venture over and scope it out, crediting his "Club Med" experience, and I am a close second. As you enter the buffet area, your eyes are on recon and informs the taste buds to get in ready mode. To the left are the fresh baked breads, and muffins, and colorful cut fruit. Cauldrons of waffles, and French toast overflow the top and the scent of crispy bacon is almost a felony. Along the back sit plates of smoked fish, salads and a tower of raw bar. If you still have room on your plate you can sample the carving station, or a spoon of simmering pasta or rice.  My son and I walk back to our table passing the other guests along the way, their eyes fixed on our selections as they hurry by. I am polishing my plate and glance over to the other table, my mother and her sister are surrounded by family, reminiscing about the past, about which kid ate well and which kid barely slept, laughing and noting how fast time has gone by. My two year old niece calls over my mother to show her the cup of ice she is having with her pasta, and my mother is happy to acknowledge. My mother's cousin give each twin a photo album he crafted with pictures of them as kids, the grainy black and whites create a soft moment during the party. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

It's a Family Affair

This weekend was all about family. Two events, celebrating two ends of the road that encompass the celebration of life. 

Event One- The Welcoming- Most of the guests are standing outside greeting each other and doing some quick snap shots while the little kids run in circles in the grass. My son, dressed up and looking very handsome is keeping an eye on them, making sure no one strays too far. The sound of the big wooden doors make the kids freeze for a second and the parent's chatter abruptly quiets as the man peeking through door says "They are ready to start, please make you way inside." There have not been many occasions to enter a Church, except for special occasions like this one. Most of my family's events take place in Temple, but my sister-n-law is keeping to her faith and we are happy to celebrate with her. The baptism of my beautiful niece is about to take place, and my side of the family does not know the protocols but are happy to commemorate just the same. We take our seats on the long wooden benches, my son scanning the stained glass pictures, trying to understand the storyline. We hear a booming man's voice fill the room and see the priest enter from a door in the front of the church. He is friendly while maintaining a stern voice in his readings. He talks about faith and the responsibilities needed by the parents to set the right path for their baby. The priest sermons the small congregation in religion and the expectations involved, and people reply with confirmation. My side of the family is silent, not in protest but in respect. The familiar ceremony for us is a Bris, but there will be no surgical procedures done here today. Now is the time for the baptism ceremony, people gather around a marble basin with a gold dome. There are six people involved in the baptism and ten people taking pictures. I send my son up with a camera, partly to witness the event and partly to feel involved by taking pictures. A few more blessings, and prayers, a splash of water and a gentile touch to the forehead, the ceremony is complete and the rest of the time is occupied with photo ops. After a series of congratulatory hugs, kisses and handshakes, we are back out onto the grass, adults resume their chatter and the kids continue running in the grass. A lovely lunch reception is next as we gather in our cars for the bumper to bumper precession two blocks down and to the left. The room is set up nicely, round tables on the ends and rectangle tables take up the middle, with one table set up for the preteens, definitely putting a smile on my son's face. The room broke up into four dynamics, adults ate, drank and mingled; Preteens, ate, drank Shirley Temples, and played card games;  Toddlers played with their food, played with their drinks and played around the room. The newly baptized one on the other hand, slept through most of the reception, with the peaceful knowledge of being safe and sound.

Tomorrow- Event Two- Twin Billings

Are you ready for the summer?

Are you ready for the summer?
Are you ready for the sunshine?
Are you ready for the birds and bees,
the apple trees,
and a whole lot of fooling around

Are you ready for the summer?
Are you ready for the hot nights?
Are you ready for the fireflies,
the moonlit skies,
and a whole lot of fooling around

No more pencils, no more books
No more teachers dirty looks
No more math and history,
Summer time has set us free

Are you ready for the summer?
Are you ready for the good times?..."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Upbeat Jones to dad: I want to play again -

Al Jones - a father's optimism at its strongest.

NEW ORLEANS -- Outside the LSU Trauma Center last night, Al Jones, the father of Giants rookie safety Chad Jones, stood at the window of a taco truck and ordered dinner.
After the encouraging news he had received from his son's doctors yesterday, the tacos must have tasted like Oysters Rockefeller at Antoine's.
Eighteen hours after his son almost lost his life in a one-car accident that broke his left tibia and fibula and had doctors worried they might have to amputate his foot, Jones said his son was improving so dramatically that he was even thinking of making a return to football.

Read more:

Upbeat Jones to dad: I want to play again -

Friday, June 25, 2010

Class Mom II- Step Up

I am running down the platform, hoping I do not miss the train. I glide past the doors as they slide close. I am huffing and puffing but the cool air of the train car quickly relaxes me. Tonight is the fifth grade step up, that means they move from the elementary school and into the middle school next year. There is a long tradition that the fourth grade classes supply the refreshments for the ceremony along with the parents setting up. As a class parent I volunteer to help and my son came along to assist and do his part. We walk over to the school and meet up with the organizing committee, which consists of one mom and her son and a car fresh out of the Costco parking lot. It looked like she just knocked over a bakery, plastic containers of cookies and brownies stacked high and platters of fruit lined up in the back seat. We unload the car quickly and proceed to make up the platters inside the school office. 

We are chatting in the room when the fifth grade chairperson enters and firmly instructs us to help set up outside, so outside we go. The school work crew seems to have the bulk of the work completed and the food in standby mode so we tablecloth the tables and set up some decorations. The fifth graders are all dressed in either baggy khakis or colorful dresses, and begin lining up against the building, giggly and excited to be honored tonight.  Parents seated inside, camera batteries charged and video in ready mode. As the ceremony goes on, we bring out tray after tray of the treats, fill the lemonade decanters, set up plates and utensils, preparing for the onslaught of kids and parents, hungry and celebratory. My son is peeking in on the happenings inside, taking mental notes as he will be participating next year. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Written History

"Next, I want you to do a line of a's, and make sure you close the tops, I do not want them looking like u's." I instruct my son as he examines the cup full of pencils, seeking the one with the decent point. The homework for school is done, which becomes the perfect time to work on the core exercises, reading, math and hand writing. For the past few summers we have been hiring a tutor to work with my son on some of these core groups, just to keep his mind limber, and it seems to help him out. The tutor would come for an hour once a week and my wife and I do supplement with exercises at other times. Tonight we are working on writing in script. Looking at the workbook detailing the proper way to write each letter took me back a bit. I notice I write some of the letters incorrectly, in fact I do not write correctly in script at all. Did they change it from when I was a child? I always hear the phrase "new math", is there "new" script as well? I turn the workbook towards me and flip through the pages, each one covering a letter, first uppercase then lowercase, and think about my own flaws. In my head, I analyze my own mechanics and recall struggling with script as a child, attempting to follow those little arrows to form the letter correctly, and not really working at it skillfully. I used to attribute my poor handwriting to being left handed but its simply about practice. I never practiced my handwriting skills enough to make it automatic. Just like a basketball player practices standing on the free throw line, shooting free throw after free throw until the movement is so natural he does not need to think about it, it just flows. Writing should feel the same way, the positioning of the pencil to the paper, the lead dancing across the paper like an ice skate etching out the routine on the polished ice. Writing in script should flow like that, effortlessly and smooth, the exact opposite of my handwriting. 

I look at my son's repetitive a sequence and see improvements along the line. I make him do another line, suggesting slow and steady until the pencil reaches the end of the page. All a's look precise and clean, like the ball swishing through the net. Tomorrow we will work on a couple of more letters, but this time a pencil and paper will sit in front of both of us, each working to make it automatic. Swish...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Archival Survival

"Do you have any homework?" I ask my son during dinner. "Just some reading and I have to bring a big bag to school tomorrow." he replies as he reclassifies his baseball cards without skipping a beat. I immediately understand what it is for. As a parent with a child in the fourth grade, I know what is coming home, every piece of art, every project worked on for reports, every worksheet and pop quiz laying in folders and drawers as the teacher prepares to empty the classroom during these final school days.  The classroom turns into a platoon base bugging out for its next duty assignment. "Come on troops, clean out your quarters, and breakdown the mess hall!" "Secure those documents and fill in those latrines, we need to wipe this place clean leaving no traces of our existence!" Its sad to see the classroom return to its pre Labor Day decor, bare and sterile, like the year never happened. All the memories travel home in a big bag, thrown inside in no particular order or purpose. The whole year of discovery, knowledge and growth, delivered to the parents to sift through, parallel to the contents of a time capsule. When the antiquities do make their way home, my wife and I will spread them out on the floor, decipher the clues to form a chronological road map. "This must have been early in the year, look at the handwriting." one would say, while the other picks out the work with other kid's names attached, strays, no doubt. "I remember this, and I recall that!" is heard from both of us while my son glazes over it like a pile of garbage. He does not see it now, but these items are important, they are his educational path, his yellow brick road. Studying the progress made in one school year can be gratifying amid the grind of the everyday. It might be enlightening to see a visual timeline of the past year, the work, the fun, the struggles, and see that smilie face stamp wrapped with the words "Nice Job!"

We will make sense of it all, creating one pile of keepers, and another of items not making the cut. The keepers will be stored in an art portfolio case and slid into storage, like all the previous grades, in a small Smithsonian like ceremony. Someday, we will pull them out and revisit the past, rehashing thoughts about struggles during early learning stages, take the trip though the journey taken, and eventually marvel at the achievements gained.

When we do inventory the items, I will make a mental note to myself, 'Next year, no dioramas or big elaborate set pieces, we have no room to store them.' But I know I will forget that proclamation as early as next fall, just as the new school year starts.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Professional Dad

This year is the 100th anniversary of Fathers day. Personally, its my 10th. I recently celebrated my 25th year with my company, nurturing it from infancy and helping it grow into a world wide leader. In a normal job setting there is feedback from colleagues and superiors. There are raises and reprimands, prosperous times and recessions. As a professional I am constantly honing, learning from resources to better my career. How does my long work experience help me with my shorter parenting experience? At first glance it seems different in every way, but a closer examination can shed new light on this lifelong trade.

When your baby is first born, as the Dad there many things to be done on a clerical level, making sure all the paperwork is correct, various registrations and notifications need to be completed, after all, there is a new life in the world and people want to know and celebrate. I remember calling my family and friends in the wee hours of the morning to tell them the good news, and making sure I call the insurance company as soon as possible to not have any lapses. I went into administrator mode to dot every "I" and cross every "T".

Once the baby is home, everything is a process, a learning curve. People offer up their experiences and critiques, quick to tell you what is right and what is wrong, but ultimately you need to do what works for you, your wife, and your child. I get into a rhythm, juggling home chores, baby duties and making sure my wife is not overwhelmed. All while working an enormous amount of hours on a project at work. Multitasking is a concept I needed to master fast and furiously, as well as functioning effectively with sleep deprivation. Out of these insane times, my son and I did form little routines that to this day still thread into our quality time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

'We're pregnant': The changing role of new fathers |

The role of new fathers has been changing dramatically for more than a half-century.
In the 1950s and '60s, expectant fathers paced in hospital waiting rooms while their wives underwent the mysteries of labor and delivery. Sometime later, a nurse or doctor emerged and showed the new parent his cleaned and swaddled offspring through the nursery window.
Fathering preparation rituals might have revolved around painting a new room for the baby, indulging his pregnant wife's strange food cravings and purchasing cigars to hand out when the due date became a reality.

To continue reading:
'We're pregnant': The changing role of new fathers |

Bad Parent of the Week

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Seth Davis Interview Part II

Here is the second part of my interview with Seth Davis. We discuss the passions and influences that shape us as fathers.

TDT: What is the single most gratifying aspect of owning your own business? How does that affect your family.
SB: Karma Road provides the community a place for people interested in a similar lifestyle to really embrace it, that they can do it without feeling deprived, that makes me feel very cool. 
It’s also gratifying to be involved with my music for so long, to hear it mature, reaching a broader and greater audience and to feel like I’m embarking on a new chapter, and the kid’s love this. My wife is mixed.

TDT: What are the strategies you are doing to save for your child's future?
SB: While we did start a college fund for each of our sons, we have not added to them for a long time as we invested everything in our home and in Karma road.  We are now just emerging from negative cash flow, and beginning to plan consistent and growing investments in the boy’s future.

TDT: What types of activities do you do with your children in your recreational time.
SD: A lot of time not listening and me trying to get activities started to no avail! We have no cable so sometimes we watch cool videos on youtube. If they’re interested in basketball, wrestiling, a band, volcanoes, venus fly traps, anything, it's right there with a click of the mouse (wish we had this when I was a kid.).  We have a nice quiet little neighborhood so we ride our bikes every day, and sometimes bring them to one of the trails. We hike on the nearby mountain. We do art projects and swim. We visit one of the farms or animal sanctuaries in the Catskills. My six year old and I started doing karate together.

TDT: As an accomplished singer/songwriter, how do your kids influence your writing? 
I wondered for awhile if I should continue writing about my drug past, dysfunctional relationships with unstable women, and various shades of my own discontent. These embody 90% of my catalogue. I do write some more up-beat and optimistic songs now, and they’re just as genuine as the others. As the scope of my experience widens, I have more to write about. I have no problem being happy or having fun, and I have no problem relating to other parts of my life which have shaped me and have inspired some really nice work.

TDT: How did having children change/enhance your own passions?
SDMy dad used to talk about how he should have been an actor. How he went to grade school with Tony Curtis and when Tony had gone to some acting training which he had the chance to do how he too would had been a famous actor. He talked about the photography classes he had taken as a young man, and how he would have enjoyed being a photographer.

I feel compelled to set a more courageous example for myself. I feel more inspired now than ever. I see the harm in living in the “someday”, and choose to live in alignment with my passions every day, for myself, for my boys, and for the community at large.

To learn more about Seth Davis, and his music appearances, visit:

To learn more about Karma Road and an organic lifestyle visit:
11 Main Street
New Paltz, NY

Jimmie Johnson Awaits Fatherhood on Father's Day Weekend

Anticipating fatherhood, even superstars get anxious... 

NEW YORK (AP) -- The golf cart will be ready to whisk Jimmie Johnson to the helicopter, which will be waiting to rush him to the plane.

The four-time defending Sprint Cup champion has all the details covered in case his wife goes into labor while he's at Sonoma this weekend.

It's father's day weekend after all, although Johnson likely will have to wait another year for that accolade.

He and wife Chandra are expecting their first child next month. The baby is due during the break between the July 10 race in Chicago and July 25 in Indianapolis, but Johnson is prepared should he become a father early.

Continue Reading...
Jimmie Johnson Awaits Fatherhood on Father's Day Weekend

Hail 100th Father’s Day In America

A story about the history of Fathers Day in the Queens Gazette (that's Queens NY, my childhood turf)

This coming Sunday, June 20 is the 100th anniversary of the establishing of Father’s Day in the United States of America. Sonora Smart Dodd, the daughter of a Civil War veteran whose wife died in childbirth, leaving him to raise six children single handedly, honored her parent on June 19, 1910, when at her urging the first Father’s Day celebration was held in Spokane, Washington.
Unlike many other men who found themselves widowed with children on their hands, William Jackson Smart chose not to remarry. Instead, Smart, in the eyes of his daughter, a courageous, selfless, and loving man, made all the sacrifices expected of a loving, concerned parent, putting the children he sired ahead of his own needs and wishes to ensure that they grew up to be responsible, productive adults. Smart was born in June, so Dodd chose to hold Father’s Day observances during that month.
The Father’s Day concept caught on quickly. Six years after the first Father’s Day, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson was feted by his family to celebrate Father’s Day. The holiday continued to find friends among elected officials: in 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day. Then in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day. President Richard Nixon signed the law that finally made it permanent in 1972

Continue reading...
Hail 100th Father’s Day In America

Seth Davis Interview

Seth Davis is the definition of the man with many hats. A father, husband, songwriter, performer, business owner, baker. He is a man I admire for his convictions, free spirit and sense of humor. I interviewed Seth for The Dad Trade. 
In Part I, we cover family, and growing a business: 

TDTHow many kids do you have?
SD: Two that I know of. (Ha Ha) My sons are  6 and 4.5

TDT: What are the daily routines in your home that you do no matter what is going on at work?
SDI really wish that there was a more dynamic routine or more reliable rituals, but the fact is that the routines involve rushing and ultimatums.  We do say good morning and hug and kiss before one of us (my wife or me) leave for work. We do read at least two books before bed.  We do kiss and say goodnight. We each state what we are grateful during a minimum of one meal per day. The statements have their moments, as my sons sometimes pick the most profound things, and other times find this open-season for potty talk and cheap laughs, it’s an important part of my day, and I do hope it instills in them that habit of remembering to scan our lives for things that are good and real.  I learned of this option as an adult, and it’s a hard one to remember.

TDT: In having an organic foods lifestyle, how does that effect your kids? What is the biggest plus? Struggle?
SD: My kids know nothing else.  They are respectful of other’s food and lifestyle choices. They know our reasons for eating a plant-based diet.  They’re healthy and sometimes finicky and often prefer (our version of) junkier foods.  Although they haven’t eaten any meat, there are times where we’ll bend our organic “close to the garden” policy in order for them to be included in a party activity or something fun at school, but not often enough to become an issue. The biggest plus is that I think there are a couple of great voices on Team Compassion, as they cannot conceive of eating animal flesh.  They are also fit and have a better knowledge of advantageous food choices than most 4.5 and 6 year olds. They do have Dad’s sweet tooth, and are always curious about new and interesting sweets.  This poses the same dilemma most parents go through, how to give kids enjoyable food experiences without ruining their health, their teeth and their minds!

TDT: Describe your business?
SD: My wife and I own Karma Road, an organic, vegetarian Café in New Paltz, NY.  Really delicious, high quality food, designed in a quick serve, café setting.  I’m also a performing songwriter.  I’ve recorded two records and am in the process of producing a third. A few of my songs have been used in small film projects and on a television series.  I think of that my real profession. 

TDT: How does having your own business effect the raising of your children? positive and/or negative
SD: First, the food business:  I think that there’s an extra hot fire burning under my ass to make sure that the business is done right, so that people get to have choices for an animal free meal, and  we can be successful and provide for the family.  I wonder sometimes if my sons see their Mom and Dad, as the “bosses”, innately confident or something, we’re not, we have to delegate so much responsibility and trust those decisions. We are local celebrities and people view us as authorities on healthy food, and our kids see us receive a level of respect.  We remain reasonably balanced, we let our children know that nothing we say or teach is right or better than anyone elses’ beliefs, what we do is our distinction and we respect and love others who make their own choices.
Regarding being a musician, I think it’s cool, and my kids look on while I create, they see the process.  They both love what I do and I hope it shows them that passions don’t need to be sacrificed for convention, and doing what they love is paramount.

Part II Tomorrow...

11 Main Street
New Paltz, NY

Monday, June 14, 2010


"Can you help me with my math?"
"When are we going?"
"I'm hungry."
"What does this word mean?"
"Why did they do that?
"Can you read to me?"
"I don't eat squash."
"I heard you."
"When will we get there?"
"But I'm not tired."
"That's not fair!"
"Can you get me something to drink?"
"Five more minutes?"
"I don't know."
"Will it stop raining?"
"Time to wake up."
"I don't want to go."
"Can we do it again?"
"But why?"
"Can you reach it?"
"Tag, you're it!"
"I want to go home."
"Can you stay home today?"
"That was funny!"
"What time is it?"
"I don't feel so good.
"I love you."

Friday, June 11, 2010

I gotta peaceful, easy feeling

"Do you think we can get a babysitter for tonight?" I ask my wife on the phone. It is a weeknight and will be hard to secure someone at this last minute. My wife pauses on the phone then suggests "What about taking him with us?", and with that I purchase the tickets to The Eagles concert at the New Meadowlands Stadium. I have been a fan of The Eagles since I first saw them in 1980 (dating myself for sure) and really wanted to experience them live once more, and I will, courtesy of my Father's Day gift. As we drive towards the stadium, it dawned on me that this will be my son's first real concert. My son and I certainly have different tastes, he likes pop and hip hop and I like classic rock and hard rock, but we tolerate the diversity of the genres. Will he like the Mello-California-Country style, we will soon find out. 

We park and make our way to the massive gate entrance of the brand new stadium. My son is in awe of the size of the building. Two escalators up we are on the club level, our level for tonight's festivities. Following the section numbers we are stopped by the guard at the doors to the club entrance, we flash our tickets and she waves us through like VIPs. The new club area is set up like a lounge, quartets of chairs and cocktail tables surround islands of sushi, gourmet pizzas and carving stations. We gravitate toward the oversize window, looking down on the old stadium. The old stadium has been reduced to a massive pile of rubble, and immediately brought back memories of old concerts, past festivals and my son's first football game. After looking around some more, we make our way outside and find our seats. As we sit down, a security man approaches us and asks if we would like to upgrade to a better view, and before we know it, we are sitting with a great view of the stage and now ready for the lights to dim and the music to start. 

A little after 9:00 pm the band takes the stage and the crowd screams as the first song starts. My son is getting into the concert, asking the name of each song as they start, commenting about the instruments and the lighting. I know every word, and am belting out the lyrics, not realizing I am surrounded by people and not alone in the car. I self consciously look around and become aware that everyone is singing loudly as well so I keep on going. My wife and I dance a few times and hold hands around my son, letting real life slip away and fall into a "peaceful easy feeling", a remarkable concert on a memorable evening. We decide to break out at 11:00pm, just as the first encore starts, avoiding the mass exodus through the parking lot. We miraculously find our car and drive out, making sure we do not miss the sign for the Turnpike. With my son sleeping and my wife humming while looking out the window, I think about the concert and how much fun I had, most importantly, sharing it with my family. Happy Fathers Day.
I was standing
All alone against the world outside
You were searching
For a place to hide
Lost and lonely
Now you've given me the will to survive
When we're will keep us alive
When we're will keep us alive
When we're will keep us alive

-From "Love will keep us alive"  

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Island of New Beginnings

"Wait up for me!" I yell as my son runs ahead. He is very excited this morning about his school trip to Ellis Island.  His ancestors walked through the halls of Ellis Island before settling in the America. He passed through rooms where people waited in line to get processed into The New World and stood in places where dreams became reality. The children explored, discovered and learned about how important Ellis Island is to American history. My son also brought a list of names for see if he can discover his own family history.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Middle Stagers

As I run my mandatory two miles tonight, I look around at all of the other people moving about the school field. I see a couple walking, engaged in a lively discussion, and a group of ladies briskly strolling, each swinging a  key chain in one hand and a water bottle in the other. There are some high schoolers flicking a Frisbee across one side of the football field, while a smaller group are tossing a football to each other, reenacting the touchdown from a big game. There are two young sisters pretending they are long jumpers, scampering down the long jump track and launching themselves into the sand. A group of middle school girls run in a pack, like a squadron in perfect formation, each taking a turn at the helm. There are even some elderly folks, slow and steady, giving notice to their bodies that there is still work to be done and they are not going to waist time in an easy chair. 

The rest are guys kind of like me, in the middle, stuck between the young and the old. I call our kind the "Middle Stage Runner". It is easy to pick us out, we run with a meaningful agenda, appear to still look somewhat athletic, and not have to make any emergency room visits later that evening. There is a wide range of styles that we draw upon, from gray sweatpants and cut off vacation t-shirts, to color coordinated warm-ups. Some have headphones on, some are checking their email, and even some finishing up last minute business via phone.  We are all men, therefore competitive till the end, especially when someone passes us. We just cannot let a "middle stager" just come along side us, speed up and pass? Its like driving, no mater what, the weather, kids in car, a mattress tied to the roof, if a car passes us, we must, without question, speed up to gain ground. The other day I saw two guys pass each other so many times on the track it looked like a dance routine. I think they almost came to blows, but too out of breath to take it any further.

The sun is going down and I am close to my goal, headphones in ears, music carefully coordinated to my running pace. The pack of girls fan out around me, whisk by, and quickly close ranks without skipping a beat. The couple ended their discussion, now walking separately. The two young girls have settled into sitting in the sand building a castle, and the ladies have retired to their cars. The high schoolers joined forces into a game of Frisbee football, and the elderly folks are rethinking that easy chair. Mostly remains The Middle Stagers, still giving it their competitive all, dreaming of the glory days...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dads Rule Contest

Sears and MLB today launched the Sears Dad Rules Contest. The contest will run through June 11. The grand prize is four tickets to this year's MLB All-Star Game plus transportation, hotel accommodations and spending money

Dads Rule Contest

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Field Work

Hit the field tonight for some football practice. We warmed up the legs and the throwing arm. We took turns playing quarterback while the other ran the routes. Early on there was some sloppy play and dropped balls, I chalk it up to rustiness. Soon he was fast, crisp and precise. I on the other hand, stayed sloppy and  rusty. We finished up with a game we call "Score". In the game one player starts on the five yard line and tries to score while the defender tries to knock him down. Both players usually get a little banged up but its all in good fun and laughing is heard throughout the game. Darkness sets in and we head home. Training can be fun while getting some exercise at the same time. Now I need to ice my shoulder...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

CSI that stain!

Part of our weekend getaway to Florida was to get our son new clothes. He has grown out of most of the clothes he had at his grandparent's house and needed clothes for tennis and dinner out. A few hours later, five new tennis outfits are laid out on the floor in his room, ready for Tennis Camp in August. A few hours after that there were food stains on most of them. I do not know how he does it but my son is a stain magnet. A sandwich for lunch produces a stain on the front just above his belly, a snack leaves residue on the collar, and pizza for dinner looks like it exploded all over. I am always instructing him to move closer to the table or eat over his plate, no matter what, a little bit of the meal walks out with him. Maybe I make him too self-conscious about his eating, and that causes his clumsiness. I know I am uptight about it, after all it's just clothes and who hasn't gotten a stain on their shirt, tie or pants when late to a meeting? I need to just back off, chill out and stock up on Shout.