Thursday, March 02, 2017

Susannah


Song of Susannah
Dark Tower Book VI by Stephen King

"In the land of memory the time is always Now.
In the Kingdom of Ago, the clocks tick...but their hands never move.
There is an Unfound Door (oh lost) and memory is the key which opens it."


Reading this book, and loved this quote, just wanted to share it.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Change


I have watched a bunch of interesting documentaries lately. Some were discussed in my last blog post. Two docs on health that really made an impact on me were Fed Up and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (FSND). I have made very big health improvements over the last four years, but the work is ongoing. In 2016 I ran more miles than I have run in any year of my entire life, but I experienced the least amount of healthy change in the last 4 years. I knew the whole year that my diet was the issue. People often commented that since I was now working so hard to be healthy, that eating well must be easy. No so.

The first FSND doc had a really inspiring tale of a guy named Phil. He really was inspirational in the changes he made in his life. Recently, I watched the FSND part 2, and I saw that Phil did well for a few years, but really fell back into old ways. This was hard to see. He worked to determine the reasons he fell back into bad habits. He determined that he had no support network, to help him along the way. I tend to agree.

With running and working out, I have a bunch of folks that I talk with, look up to and challenge me. Not so much on the food side. I would be even worse off if my wife were not working so hard for the family to eat well. If you are looking to make any change, cleaning the house, eating better, walking more, drinking less coffee...find a partner or a source of support. Change can be great, just do not try to do it alone. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Wealth



What is wealth?

Recently I have read (listened) to a book about tidying up; The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. The book was a free offering on Audible, and I need to get rid of some stuff, so I gave it a listen. Oddly enough, my wife bought this book a year ago, and I apparently dismissed the notion of a book on cleaning up. I have also been on a Netflix documentary binge, with docs varying from health, religion, wire walking, internet freedom, addiction, the 13th amendment, disappearing glaciers, and...a random selection called Minimalism: .

The documentary Minimalism paired quite well with some of the concepts of the tidying up book. These two experiences have really pushed the question of what is wealth? Is it my income, the things I own, the things I want, great kids, a solid fun marriage, or all these things. What is an identity? The things you own or the achievements in life. What is enough?

I do not have these answers, and won't be moving into a "tiny house" in the near future, but I will take a look about what the important things are to me. I can also make certain that I am being a bit more deliberate in how I spend my resources, financial, spacial, spiritual, human and temporal on the important things. Making an impact on people, being genuine, investing in our society and being a great loving family should be where I make an impact. I don't need hundreds of books I will never re-read, 100 t-shirts, nick-knacks from my life or and other superfluous stuff to be wealthy. This will take some time, but I am on a path.

Take a few minutes to look around your space today, how much of what you see brings you joy and makes you wealthy?






Friday, January 13, 2017

Poetry Book

You never know when someone is going to surprise you with a touching comment, a kind remark or a simple hello when you need one. As my daughter grows up, she's five now, I am continually amazed how fast she is learning, understanding how to be kind and in particular remembering things. OK, she's not always kind to baby brother, but she tries. This is something almost every parent enjoys seeing as their kids grow. I was really stunned the other day at my daughter, she blew me away.

Earlier in the week we were talking about her homework and her school. The conversation was very typical, how was your day, what did you learn, did you have music or art today, etc. Then she tells me about a book she is working on in class, she called it her poetry book.  I think it's more of an art journal, but that is not the critical element here. My daughter told me she had a page with a spot for all six of our family members. Our house has two kids and two parents. If she said five, I would have immediately assumed she added our dog, a true member of the family. I asked her why six?

This is when my daughter told me she had a spot for Mom, Dad, herself, Brother, the dog, and "Baby Joe who didn't make it." She wanted a spot for him so he wasn't alone, and he would know she loves him. Joe was our first child who did not survive his birth. We have prayed at bedtime for "baby Joe" from time to time with the kids, but they never really inquired much. My daughter said it would be cool to have a big brother, and wishes he would have made it. This entire conversation I am holding back my tears, and hugging my daughter. What a sweet sentiment from a child. Who knew the baby Joe prayers were making such an impression on her. Any time a moment like this has happened in the last six years, I feel like it is a little hello from Joe. So nice to hear it from his sister.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Family

My Mom on (L) with 3 of her 4 siblings and parents.

Recently I went through a case of my Dad's slides, some of which I think were given to him from my Mom's family. I can't help at feeling how little things change from generation to generation. While the world moves on, things change, the family function doesn't. I look through these old pics, all from before my parents married, and it all looks so familiar. Folks sharing meals, laughing, celebrating, playing with new babies and so on. The faces even look so similar it is like we have relived out ancestors lives to a certain extent. I have some of the same pictures of me playing with the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the people in the photos, decades later, heck half a century for some the pictures.

Nalley breakfast in Mill Creek Park

I would have loved to know my Dad's Dad, and known my Mom's Dad as an adult or even as a young man. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for some of the family gatherings. I never knew my Mom's family had a regular breakfast in Mill Creek Park. I can just imagine what was going on in these pics, the smiles, eyes, smirks, straight faces really tell a tale of personalities.

Mom & Dad's first apartment, I think.

 What keeps the family together? People do. Being a close family is the responsibility of all the members. My Mom was the gravitational center of ours, always making sure the family was the center of everything we did. The long term result is the my generation stays as close as we can even though we live all over the country. I am tankful for a close family, I have one Brother, but feel as if I have dozens of Brothers and Sisters across the country, we see each other that way.

Grandma & Grandpa McD

If you are lucky enough to have a family, make sure you call one of them today, not tomorrow. You never know how long you will have with your family members. Don'y text or email them, call them. Talk to them even if for a couple minutes. You will impact their day and strengthen your family. I will be making some calls today.



Thursday, August 18, 2016

Last Day, New Day


This morning I took my daughter to her last day at daycare. I know I am not the first parent ever to prepare to send your first kid to school, but it was a moment. She is so ready for her next step to Kindergarten it is silly. But Dad is not as ready as red. When I woke up to Conor crawling on me with all his stuffed animals and a car, I knew it would be a fun day.

I am sure Cora will have a great last day, her teacher told me she has been so excited to start school. I know she has some nerves, but she will do great Friday. The first crack in her excitement was two weekends ago at Target buying school supplies. She did not want to go with Jenn to pick her stuff out. I asked what was wrong and she said, "I'm scared Daddy, I have never been in that school before, I have only been in one building my whole life." She was referring to her daycare. I think this is a great reflection on the quality of teachers at Creative in Twinsburg. We have been blessed to have great men and women at our daycare, that our kids have really loved. I told Cora it was normal to be excited and a little scared, all great adventures start out with the unknown.

This morning when we walked into the building, I asked Cora to not run off, and hold my hand on the way in. She did, I think she knew I needed it a little more than her. This is a truly excited next phase for parenting, school, more activities, more homework and new things to learn for all of us. What was really sweet this morning was from the picture above. When we walked Conor to his room, Cora gave him a hug and said "I'll miss going to daycare with you Conor." This hit me in the feels. These two love each other so much, they are really best buds. They may make each other crazy, but they cannot stand being apart long.  For the next 10 years, these two will not be in the same school building.

While the day Friday will be Cora's, and I cannot wait to hear about her first day, little brother has a new day too. He will be without his sister for the first time. I know the feeling, I wasn't in the same building with my brother for our entire elementary and high school. We had one year of college together at Youngstown State when I was a Freshman. The next time C&C are in the same building Cora will be a Junior and Conor a Freshman in High School. Wow.

OK, that's getting a bit ahead.

Tomorrow will be a fun day. Drop Conor off at daycare, for the first time by himself. He'll do great. Then take Cora to Kindergarten so she can start her adventure! We plan on making the drop off fairly quick, to make the transition easier on Cora (and us). Then Jenn & I are off for a small breakfast, to fend off the feels. 

It may be a cliché, but don't blink with your kids. Time will fly. They will grow. You will have a blast. But one day they will walk on their own, and all you can do is hope you prepared them to be the best they can in life.



Friday, February 12, 2016

Hey Bud


Gardening is just not my thing. This goes against all the time my Mom spent sharing her craft and taking tender care of beautiful flower beds growing up. I just never caught interest in the hobby, sorry Mom. I appreciate a beautiful plant or flower bed, but just never liked keeping them myself.

The Gardenia pictured above is a different story. Six years ago, my wife and I met and lost our first child after a mid-term birth. Joseph has left an indelible mark upon our hearts. Over the years, and welcoming our two kids, the pain has been less prevalent, but it never entirely goes away. This time of year is especially hard since Joseph was born on Valentines Day. Years passed before Jenn and I could even go on a date for Valentines day, our first was just last year. 

My coworkers at the time sent this Gardenia plant home to Jenn & I with a card of prayer and condolences. Jenn and I call this our "Joe" plant. I have kept this guy going for 6 years, more than any other plant ever for me. Initially it bloomed flowers "white as snow" many times. Over time the blooms stopped and the plant was just getting by. Sensing the location in our house was not right for a Gardenia, I brought it to my work, where it has a nice perch upon which to stand, and received the right amount of sunlight to thrive again. Since the location change, I have had to prune the plant several times since it gets so big. I was pleasantly surprised last year when, after several years of bloom dormancy, a few buds popped and bloomed. It felt like Joseph was saying hello.

Since that time a bloom pops now and again, and it makes me happy to see that I kept one plant going. What touched my heart this week is the a new bud just popped up in time for Valentines Day. This bud it pictured above, just squeaking out and saying hello. Over the last few years you can see my Valentines posts share the same theme. This has been a time for me to get thoughts out and expressed, and helped me deal with the loss and assess what it means to me today. I have not been writing in my blog as much as I want over the last few months, and Valentines Day really crept up this year. When I saw this bud pop, I stopped what I was doing and smiled and shed a tear. I know somewhere Joseph is looking over us and his brother and sister. 

I miss you buddy, I wish we could have got the chance to know each other. You would love your siblings.  Thanks for blooming this week and we pray for you every day bud. I hope I am honoring your memory by being the best Dad I can be.