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.