Friday, February 10, 2017


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


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. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Success or Failure

Well the last three months of 2015 were spent being fairly inactive for a couple legitimate reasons and a few lazy ones. My diet followed my effort, low quality, and I put on a few too many pounds. I am on the road back now, but it is amazing how much a few slow months can set you back.

Recently, I was watching a documentary on the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch. This is an amazing part of the Rocky Mountains set aside for Scouts in New Mexico to hike and adventure. During the program this quote came across the screen. A good point for any kind of journey you are on, physical or emotional. A lot of new years resolutions come and go, but folks with strong character will move on. Whether you are currently a success or failure on your journey does not matter, only that you take the next step forward.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Home Alone

This past weekend we watched Home Alone with the kids. I haven't watched this movie in a long, long time, maybe high school. I did not even remember that the movie is a Christmastime flick. Our kids, the 4 year old in particular, had a blast watching. My daughter was literally jumping out of her seat during the home defense scenes. I was overjoyed just watching the kids enjoy this movie. It is really a neat age now that we can start to let them watch some non-Disney animated movies. In all a fun night.

There was a touching scene in the movie I did not remember at all, tucked in between all the comedy. The boy in the movie, Kevin, has an older neighbor that the kids are all afraid of. mostly because the older brother makes up crazy stories about him. In the movie Kevin is running from the crooks, and he hides in the local church. There is a kids choir practicing some carols, and Kevin sees the old man neighbor sitting alone. Kevin is initially afraid as the old man moves to sit next to him. As it turns out the old man is not scary at all, and he shares some personal insight with Kevin. You see the old man is in church watching his granddaughter sing, because that is the only time he can see her. The man has a strained relationship with his son, and has not spoken to his son in years. This is why he can only see his granddaughter when his son is not around. The old man says he is afraid to call his son, because maybe he will not want to talk. With the honesty only a child can have, Kevin tells the old man to just call his son. "At least then you will know if he wants to talk, and you will have nothing to be afraid of anymore." I was choked up during the scene.

There are so many people in the world that are alone. By choice or by circumstances, there is a lot of loneliness and despair in the world. Just watch the news. I want to take time to say hello to someone I do not know. Maybe the old cranky looking guy in my neighborhood, or someone I never say hello to at work. The holiday season brings up so may feelings, and you can take a few spare seconds and brighten up someone's day with a simple "hello." You can do your best to make sure someone near you is not home alone.