Sunday, July 11, 2010

Parental advice...

Just had a really nice time with my parents when my wife was away. We asked them to visit to help me with our three children.

One of the things I enjoy most about the time I get to spend with them is the opportunity to talk with them. There was one specific conversation that is fresh in my mind and I thought I would share.

My mom had made a comment about how something was done in our house and I replied with something like children to not always do the same things their parents did...while this is no doubt a true statement, I started to wonder about the wisdom of the statement.

You see, every action we take as parents is watched. Our children model behavior and reactions after our own. This include the simple things like how to clean a dish up to complex actions like how we act when cornered in a professional environment by an aggressive co-worker.

So no, I do not do all things the same way as my mom but I need to pay attention to the her words and actions so I can learn because she has experiences I do not. The flip side is that I have experience she does not but my experiences should not prevent me from learning lessons from my mom. Further, lessons learned may actually be how not to do a thing...and I hope I recognize someday that my children do not do something I did because they have found a better way and maybe I can learn from them.

I guess the root thought here, and maybe the general lesson learned, is that we should be open minded and diligent to pay heed to the lessons of our parents...bad or good because each has value.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No place like it...

Frustrated, busy, hurried, talking fast, walking fast, driving...umm, faster...yelling at the car in front of me that is not as fast.

The closer I get, the lighter the stress, the easier the drive...starting to sing to the radio...waving at the slow poke in front of me...with a smile.

Leave the car and the work day behind as I open the door after fumbling for my keys to find a small red haired girl, not softly...loudly exclaiming, "DADDY!" Then the oldest girl jumping to her feet, running into my arms chanting, "Daddy's home...daddy's home..." Followed closely by my son with a simple, "Hi Daddy."

Not to be left out the dog eases her way over to me with a wagging tail and a playful nudge with her nose.

I seek out my wife to tell her about all the dumb things that happened...then to hug and kiss her if the kids did not beat her up emotionally during the day.

Then what feels like a hundred different activities go on before dinner and for a few hours after dinner including bath on some nights or ballet or gymnastics or something else. The day begins to wind down...the kids are in bed, sometimes fighting sleep, finally giving up.

I rush down to the basement to work out, when I can motivate myself to do so...

After I drag myslef back up the steps, I sit on the warm soft couch with a cup of tea and some snack that I probably shouldn't eat...he he...winding down with a TV show or two.

Then off to bed...always the perfect end to any day. Good, bad, hard, easy, fun, boring...

It is never the building, it is those in is never the structure, it is the love is never the property, it is a hug to my is home.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

3 hours...

It takes about 3 hours for us to get home from my mom's house. In those 3 hours so many things happen that while some might think this is a long drive, at least long enough to be a challenge, it is really an opportunity to grow our marriage.

You see, the return from "up north" is usually in the dark with the 3 children sleeping or fighting sleep. It is time to talk, time to discuss all those things we have to do, we need to do, would like to do...all the stuff that troubles us, pleases us, annoys us, makes up feel any number of emotions. It is time for me to direct my attention at my wife, pausing from time to time to turn left or stop at a light. I take care to make sure I watch my speed (if I slip she is there to let me know) and pay attention to traffic. But I also use the trip to tell her things I think and feel, and she does the same.

It is a chance to just take a deep breath. I do not talk on a cell phone or listen to a GPS unit. We normally listen to a CD but only loud enough to faintly hear the words. We talk softly, sometimes we debate, sometimes we laugh, sometimes we make fun of another driver...

She knows I enjoy the time, she often gets upset with me here at home because my attention is not fully captured if the TV is on or the kids are awake or other interference is present, so I think she likes the time as well. I do not always remember the things she tells me but I try.

Visiting family is a joy but the drive...those 3 hours...priceless time to spend with my beautiful bride.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Merry Christmas...yeah I said Christmas

Not Happy Holidays, I say Merry Christmas. I understand if you do not celebrate Christmas but don't take it away from me. If I tell you Merry Christmas and you celebrate Hanukkah then reply Happy Hanukkah...I am OK with that. I suppose Happy Holiday covers Happy New Year too kind of like a contraction of Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Enough about that, what is it about Christmas that makes me feel so relaxed? Maybe it is the end of the year but I think it is because I understand the meaning of Christmas. Not the gifts or the decorations...not the tree or the lights...not even the meals and time with family but it is the celebration of the birth of our savior. It is the celebration of life eternal, of God with us, among us...oh to touch the hand of Jesus. I wonder what it was like to know who he was and talk with him, walk with him, eat with just know him.

I am not one to force religion on others nor to push Jesus but those who know me know what I believe, what I have always believed, what I will always believe. It is this season, this time of year that makes me pause and reflect upon the beginning of the life of Jesus, the greatest gift of all.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving thanks...

It is a shame we only focus on giving thanks once per year.

Regardless, it was a wonderful day. Drove 3 hours talking with my wife about so many topics. We don't normally get that much dedicated time to talk so I think we both kind of look forward to the drive time.

We arrive at my mother's house to be greeted by the warmth of the oven and a smell that just makes the stress melt away. My mouth starts to water and I can't wait to dig into all the delicious offerings. Others have not yet arrived but will soon.

I'll spare you all the food preparation details but over dinner with my parents, Jenn's parents, and my sister and her family all chowing down we get to share stories and swap humorous events of our lives. There is always some political discussion but we try to keep it light. We talk about the kids, how they are doing in school and other challenges they present, as well as those precious moments we love to share. In between they might just create new ones...

After we admit we have all eaten too much we eat we settle down for a nap, er at least we used to but with 5 kids running around that doesn't happen.

After a few hours of food and conversation, just about the time the kids start to melt down, we pack them into the van and head out for the 3 hour return trip. Another chance to speak with my wife, discussing and debating many topics including what work I am going to do around the house tomorrow (which is now today).

Therefore, I need to wrap this up so I can go address my honey do list.

The Lord has blessed me greatly and while I would love to have more stuff (like a Dodge Charger) I recognize all that he has provided and am grateful.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Define "a man"

What is it that makes one "a man"? First let's assume we are talking about male members of society...and for the sake of this blog I want to focus on married men with children.

So then how do we define "a man" or even "the man" in this context? The stereotype is "the man" has the job and makes the money to support the family then comes home and has his needs attended to...he pays the bills with little or no feedback from his wife...he plays with the kids but does not take care of them...he eats the meals prepared by his wife...he goes out with the boys when he chooses. I am sure there is more but what if one does not fit the mold? Does that make one more or less "a man"?

An average day for me is I get up via child alarm about 6:30am but normally try to snooze them until about 7. I prepare myself (skip the details) while Jenn, my wife, dresses the children. Then I prepare breakfast including setting up the coffee for Jenn (I don't drink it). Things vary a bit but then Sabrina (my oldest daughter) and I head off to the bus. With Sabrina safely on her way I drive 35-45 minutes to work. The work day is a different topic so once the day is done normally between 5-6pm (sometimes later due to meetings or the like) I set out for the drive home.

Once at home, Jenn often has dinner ready so we sit down as a family and enjoy our nourishment. Occasionally, we order pizza or if Jenn is uninspired I will make dinner. After cleaning up, which is most frequently my job, we head into the living room to play a bit maybe read or wrestle around. Every other night or so, I bathe the kids (3 of them) and get them ready for bed. We have family prayer then off to bed...or spending the next 30 minutes trying a number of different techniques, learned from those nanny shows on TV, to try to get the younger 2 to stay in bed.

I spend the next hour or two rotting my brain with television garbage, ha ha, we try to watch challenging shows like the Mentalist. I try to listen to Jenn talk about any number of topics she read about or wants to do this weekend or other random topics but sometimes I am not functioning well and tend to forget things she said. They sit in my head for about 30 seconds then poof.

I don't do the bills, while I think I did OK, Jenn has a real knack for it and keeps it running smoothly so I don't mess with it. I occasionally try to understand the setup (she has accounts and budgets and spreadsheets and all) but often just stop and shrug.

I am the one that thinks about feelings and spends time in deep thought about actions of others.

I have said that I think I am the woman in our marriage but maybe I just don't fit the stereotype...I don't want to fit the stereotype.

Basically, I try to avoid confrontation but will speak up when necessary...I just think life is too short to fight about stuff. I love my kids a ton and want to spend time with them but don't have the patience that Jenn does so I get frustrated quickly when they don't listen. I try to be strong and discipline but I am not as strict as Jenn so she often yells at the kids when I don't think she should...we have discussed this so don't think I am blogging behind her back.

Sometimes I wish I could command them (the kids or Jenn) to do what I want them to and they would just do it but I would rather they do it because they know I want it done and enjoy doing it...but that gets into another topic I am not comfortable blogging about.

I am starting to ramble so I will conclude...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The curve ball...

When life throws you a curve ball you either stand with the bat on your shoulder and hope it is a ball or you take a swing, with your eyes wide open, and try to hit it...hard!

In my case, the curve ball came in the form of outsourcing. I won't cover the details nor how I personally feel about the decision but I will comment on how I plan to proceed. I am watching the ball leave the pitcher 's hand and I am gonna swing.

You see, God knows what is going on and he has a plan for everything. I am a firm believer that all things happen for a reason but that we cannot always see the reason. If we could, we might react differently. If you already knew the final score would you still play the game?

So, I move on...the key goal is to stay employed. I am the sole income for my family and I will do whatever to make sure they are taken care wife has confidence in me and I in myself but only because she is there by my side and the Lord is faithful. This is an opportunity for me to see what I can be; to see if I can take my career to the next step. Maybe I will go with the outsourcer (if they offer) and make a career of it. They should offer a plethera of opportunities. Maybe I will take a job with another company or maybe I can sink back into a role with my current employer.

While this is a scary time and change is unsettling, I am kind of excited. Almost like driving an expensive sports car that you do not own. You are unsure because you do not want to wreck it but you really want to see what it can do and if your driving skills can control the beast under the hood. Ha ha, I like cars by the way.

Making lemonade...making lemonade...