Posts Tagged family

The big time dream coefficient

Swim…Bike…Run. I’ve been training for months for the 11 Global Lake Oconee Olympic Triathlon. That’s 1.5km swim, 40km bike, and 10km run. I can do it, but an entrapped ulnar nerve in my right elbow has forced me out of the competition, again…
Three doctors told me surgery should be done ASAP to prevent further permanent nerve damage yet I struggle to find excuses why I shouldn’t do it. “It’s getting better; it’s not so bad…” My mind reels with the what if’s. I am stronger, faster, and fitter than I have ever been. Why me? As if that’s an excuse… The road to Hell has been paved by excuses.
Why am I so obsessed with a race that means relatively little in the scheme of life? The Boston Marathon has been forever marred by the senseless tragedy of it all. All those people chasing their dream have had their glory ruined by cowards.
My kids love me; I know they do. I see it in their faces when I give them chocolate milk just because. I want them to grow up chasing their dreams as wife and I have done. I am weeks away from dissertation success and beating the human odds everyday for the last five years since I was confined to a wheelchair and hobbled by a cane. Right now, son’s dream is to beat “Temple Run.” Well, he’s four. Daughter’s dream is to be a dance choreographer and she competes at the highest levels of our expectations.
I am reminded of Rudy where a small-town guy that is too small battles and beats the odds of a big-time dream. Dreams can be reached; they just need to be tempered with realistic expectations. On September 29, i will toe the line at Ironman 70.3 Augusta. See you at the starting line.

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Violence in Movies and Sex on TV…

catfish

Like any other day, son was his usual self. He went to school, played outside, and watched TV. When he explained to me that he wanted to stick something sharp into a fish to kill it, he alarmed me. I asked, “Why would you want to kill a fish?:

“So we can eat it…”

“Have you seen this?”

“When [daughter] caught a catfish Poppa hit something sharp in its head and it bleed”

Now, wife and I have been worried that perhaps the superhero TV shows and stories, even action figures, are giving son the wrong idea and creating an unhealthy, violent environment. How soon we forget that life is violent. If we lived on a farm, perhaps he would have a more intimate knowledge of death.

Is it a good idea? Well, it doesn’t matter. That’s life. Molly died..he dealt with it. I think perhaps we compare children and see that son is more “vigorous” than daughter and worry that he is headed toward psychological damage. Truth is, I think men are from Jupiter and women are from Saturn. As if I would repeat that stupid cliche…

As long as son still finds joy watching The Octonauts, I will rest assured he is still our little boy. Now, if he would just go to bed…

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The curious case of the missing beaver

For several lonely years, a gopher lived in my Father’s study when one day, a beaver came to live and be friends with it. Now, that beaver is missing. See, son is fascinated with those two creatures, so much so that the last time he was at Poppy’s house, son took and hid the beaver. When Poppy asked, “Do you know where the beaver is?” son replied with a noncommittal answer.
“I don’t know…”
They searched high and low, all over the house to no avail. The following week when son was again at Poppy’s, he was asked if he could help them find it. “I can’t remember…”
Last Saturday, I discovered why Kroger Supermarket puts candy at toddler eye level on the checkout aisles. Son tried to sneak a Rollo into his pocket.”What is that?” I asked knowing exactly what was going on.
“I want a Rollo.”
“Not today.”
“I want a Rollo!”
I pulled the candy out of his tightly clenched hand and returned it to the shelf. He went for it again and I deftly picked him up and moved him away. Or, so I thought. By the time I grabbed his waist, he had a vice grip with both hands on the candy shelf. I pulled and pulled until he finally let go and moved him toward the end of the aisle. He made a rush for it, but I blocked him and moved him back again, while he was kicking and hollering.
He then took it upon himself to block the cart with his body; ” What’s the password?” he asked.
Really…I thought. “I don’t know. What is it?”
“Guess.”
“Move, Now! We have to pay the lady.” I picked him up again, kicking and hollering then blocked him with my knee as I paid, hoping no one was going to call DFACS.
We get to the car where he then refused to get in his car seat. After pleading with him then forcing him in, I finished unloading the groceries in the trunk and made for home. As I was leaving, I noticed I had a voicemail from wife from an hour earlier: “Listen, if you want to wait until I finish running, I will watch son while you go to the store alone. I know how hard it is to take son with you.”
Duh.

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The other side of the river

Every once in a while, something insightful crosses my path that I feel compelled to share. In Herman Hesse’s novel, Siddhartha, the main character asks a ferryman to carry him across a river. Symbolizing the escape from his previous life, He, like Odysseus returning from the underworld by way of the river, Styx, arrives on the other side at a new beginning; a new chapter in his life. I think we could all shed baggage that has been weighing us down for far too long; I would like to be a better me. I wrote this poem for an exercise in class today.

The river’s edge calls me softly to cross,
I cannot see the other side.
First my toe, cold- then my knees
The icy touch of the water cuts into my body
As I sink deeper.
Now at the waist, I feel the current;
It pulls me toward the middle.
My heart beats with trepidation as the bottom drops;
I am treading water.
I can go forward or retreat to what I know.
I begin to swim.

 

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The interstellar educational chili pepper

This week, I set sail on the Pequod towards the South Seas with my trusted friends, Ishmael and Queequeg. After a week of recovery, I set back to work on Monday morning where my students asked incessantly, “What did you do?” As if I didn’t tell them the week prior to surgery that I was having my ankle worked on?!?! Better yet, one student, commenting on my knee scooter, asked, “Did you buy that?”

“No…I leased it. It was $1,899 down, $189 a month for 72 months”

“Wow! You’re going to need that scooter for 72 months?!?!?”

Hmmm. These are the same students who are complaining about Moby Dick having too many pages and using big words. Perhaps I should lower my expectations for eleventh grade to include Highlights magazine. We could do word searches and read short stories with life lessons in them.

Seriously, though. Son is learning faster than we can teach him. He spelled his name yesterday at school without help or those little guide-dashes on handwriting worksheets. He can recognizes every letter in the alphabet. A few weeks ago, I was driving toward the gym (natch’) and son and I passed a national chain food restaurant. Son exclaimed with excitement, “Daddy, I know what ‘S’ starts with…a pepper.” Thanks, Chili’s, for the educational signage.

Yesterday, I participated in market research regarding pizza. I sat in a bleak room with a two-way mirror along one wall as women dressed in laboratory coats brought me several slices of pizza to evaluate. But, they didn’t just bring them out. First, we were told to examine the appearance. Out of a blank wall, a door appeared and a young woman brought out a pizza with a specified number atop. After five or so seconds she moved on to other participants and I set out to answer several questions about how appealing the pizza was. Seriously, of the three pies, I couldn’t tell you which was which were I asked to go back and compare. Maybe they were turning the oven hotter or cooking it longer; they seemed the same to me.

After the general appeal questions, we were told to cleanse our palettes with saltine crackers and spring water, making sure to thoroughly rinse the entire cracker from our mouths prior to tasting the pizza. We took two bites from the front, two from the crust, and, heck, one from the middle just for kicks. More questions; more pizza. Finally, when we left, we received some dough for our troubles.

Much needed money, mind you. Today, the computer repairman explained to me that both the battery and the hard drive failed on my Macbook Pro (mid 2009). For Christmas 2012, I will receive a brand new (used) computer with no data on it. I am concerned because our backup drive is the only thing separating me from meeting an untimely death were it to fail as well. 60,000 photos from 2002 until last week reside on two backup drives, a cloud-based storage system, and were on the laptop itself. The computer will be ready on Tuesday when I can then begin the laborious task of rebuilding the computer with its backup. One note, because I had to replace the drive anyway, I doubled the size for only $30 more. I thought the battery drained fast.

Anyway, today I had the stitches removed from my ankle where three, 1 inch incisions barely stand out upon examination. I am not completely recovered, though, so my wife will still have to get my beers for me. Tomorrow during the Bulldogs game, maybe I’ll ask for wings as well. I better get something, though, because she and several friends are sharing a limousine to the Madonna concert  (Must. Count. Blessings. Not. Asked. To Go.) tomorrow night. She deserves a night out, but did she have to do it with such style?

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Bounce house bounties and the big oh-four

Thanks, TM!

The wails resonated through the empty garage from the front yard. It’s been 3minutes since Jumptastic! inflated the “All-Around Sports” Bounce House. Both excited, son and daughter raced inside and started laughing, giggling, bouncing…then, crying. Son was sobbing while covering his left eye and daughter groaned holding her hip. We had two hours until the party started and neither kid was happy.

I remember a Simpsons episode where Homer bought Bart a trampoline. As the day progressed more and more bodies lined the perimeter of the circle of death. Kids were bandaged, bleeding and other wise broken. As I stared at the bounce house, I was concerned with its safety but everything appeared to be okay. The main flaw was at the point of egress. Kids would bounce down the step in an attempt to quit and then bounce one final time head-first onto the concrete driveway. Luckily, no insurance companies have contacted us to introduce litigation.

Several months ago, wife suggested we host a party for son’s upcoming fourth birthday (after all, what’s more important than the big Oh-Four? Don’t ask wife about this…she’s working on speeding headlong into the big Four-Oh).  We had to work it into the schedule and finally had the opportunity for the past Sunday. We invited all of his friends and their parents; we turned football on the TV; we set up a “beverage center” and even had a popcorn machine.

While enjoying the newly constructed patio under the deck next to the play area, a friend from church and from the neighborhood were conversing with me when all three of us heard a shocking utterance. Is it possible for three grown men to mistake profanity (two of whom are teachers)? To this day, I swear one of the girls dropped the F-bomb. We all snapped our heads around towards the craft table. We looked at each other and quizzically asked, “Was that …?” Out of the mouth of babes…

The rest of the day went well, the Transformers cake featured both Optimus Prime and Megatron with a black and silver frosting adorned with mechanical gearing and red piping. Little did I realize that I would have the opportunity to see that color again when my son yelled, “I WENT, daddy, I WENT,” the next day in the throne room, or more specifically, circling the bowl.

The weekend was full of fun. The day before, Chuck E. Cheese hosted a birthday party for two boys from the neighborhood. Wife went and took son. After a 10mile run, she raced with him to the play center and rode rides and watched chromatic lights blink on and off, whirling her in a daze to the couch at home, nauseous to the point of danger.

Finally, Son’s birthday arrived and the grandparents came to visit, bring gifts of trains and trucks. Son’s favorite gift was a large green waste truck with lift arms in front and a dumpster. This is the one toy he wanted to take in the shower, sleep with, and spend every waking moment the next day speaking of it. This reinforces the idea that he wants to be a waste-management consultant when he grows up. Either way, he’ll be a real American Hero!

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Ruffle Ruffle and the Tooth Berry

As I sit here wounded and battered from last night’s fight club installment; whoops. Bruises and scratches adorn my body from a new game I invented with son where he kicks and claws at me, laughing hysterically the whole time.  “Ruffle” as he calls it, short for “rough and tumble,” is a cross between Mixed Martial Arts and UFC cage fighting. And yes, he wins every time.

               This week was special because son lost his first tooth. Hilariously, it was actually knocked out. Yes, son is a bruiser. It’ll go either way…prison or stardom; we’re on a wait-and-see program. The tooth had been loose for a while and with the desperate need for the tooth fairy to visit impending, wife bought the book, Bear Loses a Tooth, to help explain the idea and calm son with any concerns he may have. Well, in this story, the bear asks for blueberries from the tooth fairy so son asked for the same. But, the tooth fairy always brings a gold dollar. Do we tell her to change? Do we ask her for blueberries? Son knows little about money so he didn’t seem interested but the blueberries…oh, yeah!

Except the first thing out of his mouth when he sees the bowl is, “she brought me too much…” Wife cannot believe the fact that son didn’t fall over with gratitude. What’s with that, anyway? Every time wife or I offer son a hug or help when he is hurt, we get kicked, hit or bitten. I know I should read Dr. Spock’s famous child rearing book or something like that, but I would prefer to simply watch Mr. Spock on Star Trek. So how long until we see the results of the fruits of our labor? As soon as I find out, I’ll let you know.

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