Category Archives: Thoughts

Our new driver

We are pleased to introduce the newest driver in our house!  Isaac passed his learner’s permit test yesterday.   As soon as I got home from work, he bounced into the kitchen, license in hand.  Of course, I knew he wanted to go drive.  I suspect he had planned on my tossing him the keys and saying “let’s go.”

New Driver

Although he has driven many times out at the executive deer stand, he had not driven at any real speed with opposing 2 ton hunks of rolling metal coming at him.  Instead, I drove him to a nearby neighborhood with flat straight streets.  He was a mix of excited and nervous…and so was I honestly.

He got into the driver’s seat and we went over the “make it go forward” checklist.  Isaac tended to hug the white line as we drove house, cars, and mailboxes.    Of course, he was still a little jerky with the gas pedal and the steering but he was very cautious and seemed to take it seriously enough to satisfy my nerves a little.  I guess we drove for 40 minutes and had a lot of fun.

Probably my favorite part of the trip happened at the end of our drive.  There is a church near our house where I asked Isaac to pull in so I could take us home.  Our road is steep and windy and has a blind crest.  We weren’t ready for that yet.  Anyhow, we pulled into the parking lot and miscommunicated where we were going to park.  Isaac got it between the parking lines so all was fine, but I suppose it looked funny to the older couple sitting in the car across the parking bumper from us.  The look on their face was, at first, one of slight confusion with our antics.  As soon as Isaac and I got out and switched seats, they got big goofy grins on their faces.  It was obvious…we were practicing driving.  In response to their big goofy grins, I grinned right back and nodded my head.  I suspect they said a quick prayer for both me and them as, that night, a new driver was unleashed on the road!

An apple a day…well…

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? I have literally been eating an apple a day for awhile now. I also eat a couple of other pieces of fruit every day so I am fully fruited. I typically have 2-4 pieces of fresh fruit a day and mostly I have remained healthy for months. Unfortunately, I must have been one banana short this weekend as I ended up with the flu.

hGinger brandy for what ails you!

I am a big baby when it comes to sore throats and fevers. So, the flu, having both components, really knocks me out. I can usually whiskey-away a sore throat but coupled with a fever, I was down and out. Probably the worst part is that I didn’t get to go to work on the most important of all holidays, Groundhog Day! My coworkers were not properly evangelized. Alas, I was stuck in bed moaning like a dying brontosaurus. Of course, Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter. I know it’s hard for people to hear that, but Phil doesn’t just preach what people want to hear…he predicts weather accurately regardless of our wants!

Abigail had the flu a few weeks ago, and, like her, I got tamiflu early and it knocked it out pretty quickly.  I drank lots of water and slept some until the tamiflu perked me up saved me from the misery. Finally, my fever broke early Monday and I am mostly back to normal now. I’ll keep on eating apples, but dear friends, it must take more than one apple a day to keep the flu away!

The flu…one down, three to go

All four of us dutifully got our flu shots in October or November…whenever they came in at our doctor’s office.  We usually get them every year and have mostly been well served.  Both kids and Emily are exposed to a lot of potential flu-people though so it’s always a bit of a gamble as to whether or not someone will end up with the flu at our house.

This year, of course, the flu shot is apparently not as effective as the CDC had hoped…and sure enough, Abigail was diagnosed with the flu last night.  I didn’t realize they had a quick-swab test thingy that could positively identify the flu in a matter of a few minutes…thankfully they do and she and Emily were on their way a few minutes later.  Of course, the flu isn’t gone in a few minutes and tamiflu apparently only knocks it down a day earlier than it would have been,  I guess a day is a day so that helps.

I went to the pharmacy last night to pick up her meds and was helped by the parent of one of the boys on my soccer team.  She knew why I was there based on my prescription for tamiflu.  I think it also was clear what the 4 bottles of wine were for as well…my medicine!  Wine, you see, is prophylactic for all illnesses.  I should be good with the wine only, but if I come down with anything, I’ll kick it up a notch like my Grandpa used to do…ginger brandy cures all!  Time will tell, dear friends!

So, right before lunch time, I called Abigail to check on her and see what she wanted for lunch today.  Her throat and snot-maker are so congested/screwed up that she couldn’t speak clearly enough for me to determine what she wanted.  We hung up and 10 seconds later I got a text, “Donuts”  As a donut connoisseur myself, I certainly appreciated her need.  I popped into Krispy Kreme, which, incidentally, I think makes the weakest of all chain-donuts, to buy a cool dozen for Abigail to eat at lunch.  I mean, one needs energy and comfort when fighting an illness, right?  Hopefully the other 3 of us can remain healthy.  We’ve broken out the disinfecting wipes and gas masks and flame throwers and stuff we use to kill germs in the house.  Hopefully we can stay ahead of it!

Wish us luck dear friends…today is also the one year anniversary of Aquapocalypse 2014…the mess where some chemical storage tanks leaked a bunch of crap into our water system which resulted in 300,000 local folks not having safe water to drink.

Time flies!

I can’t believe that Isaac is another year older already!  All parents say this I know, but I can’t believe he isn’t still the tiny little baby who had such a horrific start.  It seems like yesterday we were learning to ride a bike and here he is about to drive a car!  Although he has had some issues, he has grown into a fun and wonderful young man of whom I am so very proud!

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I made these recordings on my phone…

Concert band 1

Concert band 2

Concert band 3

Concert band 4

Concert band 5

Concert band 6

Concert band 7

Concert band 8

Last night we heard his Christmas band concert, and it was a thing of beauty!  He is the first chair tenor sax player in his concert band which makes me very proud.  He loves to play his horn and with a band that can make music like they can, who wouldn’t love it?!

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Anyhow, we celebrated Isaac’s birthday among family the other night and had a great time celebrating both Isaac and his uncle who share a birthday.  It’s such a fun and wonderful time as they both get into the party and make it a lot of fun for everyone.

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I think as much as anything, I was happy to see Isaac, both at his birthday party and at the band concert, just having fun and making people laugh.  His name is Hebrew for laughter and he has always been one to make people comfortable and happy through his laughter and sense of humor.  He is one of my true joys and I am so proud to be his father!

A new tone-arm cobra!

Points to anyone who can get inside my head to know where I got the reference for tone-arm cobra…

So, when I was a kid, probably about 8 years old, my parents got for me a Fisher-Price record player for Christmas.  Honestly, I think it is probably the gift I remember more fondly than any other I received as a kid.  You see, we had a great record collection in our house.  It might not have been huge, but it was diverse and pretty interesting to an 8 year old.  There was CCR, Conway Twitty, and Victory at Sea…Elvis, Dino, Jim Croce, and Hank Williams…all sorts of classical music sets and holiday lps as well.  My Mom had a bunch of 45s from when she was a teenager that I loved.  It was a bit of a wonderland to my brain!

My new Crosley Cruiser record player

So, when I got my own record player, you can imagine that I really owned that record player.  I instantly became a little more sophisticated I guess.  I could control what played and when.  I could change records whenever I wanted and I could imagine a world that matched the music I played.  At some point, I got a cassette recorder and started my own radio station with the records I played…”This is Little Warren on WWAR radio spinning another favorite, Hound Dog Man by Fabian…”  I recorded all sorts of long shows…some rock, some classical, some country.  I was a real DJ in my mind, recording my records and voice-overs onto cassette tape.

Jump forward 35 or so years and my parents brought a bunch of my old things they discovered as they cleaned out their attic…including my old record player and the 45s I loved as a kid!  Just a few weeks after that, I found new-old records for sale for $0.15/each at the local library.  It sort of just clicked, but I knew that my old (and now new-to-me) vinyl was calling my name, begging to be played once again!

My new Crosley Cruiser record player

I tried my old record player and it worked…sort of.  I am no audiophile…in fact, I love the pops and clicks of a record player…but the old record player was just not going to cut it.  I hemmed and hawed and finally found a few extra dollars and decide to buy a new Crosley Cruiser record player.  Some folks online complained that the Crosley was a cheap player or that it sounded bad.  I figured that my not-so-keen ear and my not-so-carefully-stored records would never know the difference and I was delighted to find that the Crosley played even better than I expected!

Awesome record I found...Alpine Holiday!
Awesome record I found…Alpine Holiday!

I fired up the old tone-arm cobra and spun the first record…Glen Miller’s greatest hits.  We played some of the Ink Spots and than an oldie but a goodie – Alpine Holiday…that’s right, it is a record filled with Alpiney sounds of yodeling and oompas and the like.  Abigail and I danced some and we made the record skip a few times.  It was perfect!  Sure, it’s a lot different than CD or mp3 music but it just has a different feel to it.  Old records just sound right to me I guess.  I don’t really want to be a kid again, but I loved remembering back to that time and I love hearing records I hadn’t  heard in a long time!

So…the reference to tone-arm cobra…anyone read my mind?  I am a M*A*S*H guy and Season 6 had an episode called “Your Hit Parade” where Radar plays a bunch of records the unit received (instead of medical supplies) as the staff patched up the mass of wounded troops.  He had to stop playing at one point, telling his listeners about their request, “It’ll be coming to you as soon as I put a new fang on the old tone arm cobra.”  I guess it’s funny but that episode stuck with me and I always call a record player “the old tone arm cobra”…weird, I know.

Fall does have some good things

Since forever, I have sort of dreaded Fall, and, more to the point, Winter.  I don’t have anything specifically against Fall other than it proceedeth directly into Winter.  By the way, that reminds me of one of our favorite lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail in reference to the Holy Hand Grenade:

“And the LORD spake, saying, “First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.”

Anyhow, Fall isn’t my problem so much and as I am typically an optimist, I decided to make a real concerted effort this Fall to find as many positive things as I can.  It wasn’t actually all that hard to find good things in Fall…there is Apple Cider, pumpkin spice cappuccino from the gas station, well actually…pumpkin spice everything/everywhere, Novembeard (1,2,3), changing leaves, and the end of gardening and late-night canning.

Fall leaves in WV

We carved pumpkins this year…well, sort of.  Abigail and I carved pumpkins this year anyhow.  We pulled out all of all of the seeds and roasted them.  It’s hard to beat roasted pumpkin seeds.  I remember in second grade when my teacher, Mrs. Kuhn, made roasted pumpkin seeds…I am pretty sure she cooked them right in class…maybe in bacon grease for all I know…they were so good that the memory has stuck with me so well.  I doubt that would be allowed any more.  Anyhow, we had exquisite pumpkins this year and they were a good price as well…that’s rare!

Pumpkin stem

Fall means an end to mowing the lawn.  Well, nowadays, it means an end to watching Isaac mow the lawn.  Either way, I am good.

Fall leaves in WV

I am also delighted when Fall rolls around because our bath towels dry in what seems like a matter of minutes.  The air is definitely dryer and, while that drives many people nuts, I like the fact that I can pretty much count on a dry towel at any time…am I weird about that?

So dear friends, Fall is here and I am pretty ok with it.  There is lots of awesome stuff all around and I am determined to find it this season.  I’ll just keep drinking my pumpkin-spice cappuccinos from the gas station along with all of the girls in their Ugg boots and down vests…say, do they make those boots in men’s sizes?

I think I am a morning person

When I was a kid, I used to get up pretty early…not obscenely early, but pretty early every day of the week.  I always got up well before my brother on weekends as well as weekdays.  Most days I walked out to the living room and leaned up against my Mom on the couch.   I wouldn’t say cuddle exactly…anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of physical contact with other people.  I am not a hugger and I still really dislike even shaking hands with people.  So, I am not a cuddler, but I did enjoy “lean time” with my Mom in the mornings.  Not sure why I am weird that way, but their you are.  Anyhow, both of my parents got up at obscenely early hours for work stuff.  Dad was usually off to work and Mom and I would sort of just chill together.  As I got older, I loved to watch the Today show, and especially Willard Scott.  I still want him to announce my name when I turn 100.

As a younger kid, I watched “Lost in Space” every day.  It came on around 6:30 am and was, of course, black and white.  It was that time period when I was probably most clearly defined as a morning person.  I ate four slices of toast almost every morning and watched that show.  That time is a great morning memory.

I guess from the time I was 18 until…well…now, I was neither here nor there on mornings.  I still am an early riser, but I held no real opinion on mornings.  I guess mornings grew into a warm-neutral.  Recently, though, I have come to really enjoy my early mornings once again.  I get up before 6 am and cook breakfast while Emily is in the shower and the kids are still asleep.  I drink some coffee and read the overnight garbage that my news readers gather.  The house is quiet and so are my thoughts.

Sunrise!

About the time everyone starts to bumble around, I head outside to care for my hens.  The chickens always hear me crack the door and know I am coming with fresh grains or green tomatoes or an apple core or two.  They cluck my way to the coop which is a great help.  My eyes are rarely on my path lately though as the sunrises have been amazing!  I have been treated to some incredible displays the last few weeks.  Timing like that won’t last long, but for right now, it’s just another wonderful part of my morning routine!

Soccer Thoughts – 2014

This is a busy week as they all have been recently.  I am once again the head coach for the boys’ soccer team at the local middle school.  I coached in previous years, in large part, because Isaac was a player on the team and I enjoyed watching he and his friends play and leading them to do their best.  This year I am coaching just because I enjoy coaching.  I still like to lead the boys to do their best and I certainly don’t mind winning games.  We are currently 6-0-0, a record in which the team and I both share a lot of pride.

It’s a lot different coaching the team without one of my kids playing.  I really enjoy seeing my own kids playing hard and doing their best to work together with friends to win a game. I like seeing how they interact with their friends in a more direct way than one might get from casual interactions.  It’s also a little weird having to be careful to ride the line just right so as to be the adult, but not embarrass my kids too badly.  Without a kid on the team, I still get to see (in this case) young men grow up, learn to work together, and struggle with coolness and girls and parents and all the fun things related to middle school.  I don’t have to worry so much about embarrassing my kids anymore though…that part is pretty cool.  Still, I reprimand  them as they try out their new “adult words” and I try to show them restraint and civility.

Those two things were in danger of being lost in our most recent game, but we all managed to keep it together.  As I mentioned, I like to win with the best of them, but for the life of me, I cannot understand how some coaches and parents absolutely lose their stuff during practices or games.  In our most recent game, the opposing team’s coaches were apparently encouraging dirty play (or at least allowing it) and even resorted to calling one or more of my players names from the sidelines…the coaches were name calling!  It’s unbelievable.  Prior to our game, the girls’ team played a game which ended with the opposing team’s coach being ejected from the game.  I don’t get it!  Anyhow, we won and won well without humiliating the other team or calling them names.

I think one of my favorite things about coaching soccer, with or without a kid on the team, is that I get to make a mark, be it large or small, on a few young men about what it looks like to be an adult.  I am only one of a number of influences on these guys and, indeed,most of them have many very good people around them.  I am just happy to be (hopefully) one more of those positive influences.  I am definitely not fishing for praise…mainly just getting some thoughts out after a frustrating interaction with the other team in our last game.

 

 

Follow up to my weight loss

A few months ago, I wrote about changing diet and losing weight.  Today is the 6 month anniversary of that last update so I know you must be dying for another update.  All told, I lost 54 pounds during this process.  It was long and difficult as you might expect.  It wasn’t hard so much because I had to do a lot of physical labor (in fact, I did not exercise one bit) or because I was angry about having to lose weight, but rather because it was a very trying test of my will-power and an amazing illustration of the power of food.

I am talking anecdotally here of course, but I think I was addicted to sugary stuff…not like cocaine addicted, but I sought sugary stuff over other food sources for sure.  I drank a 2-liter of Mountain Dew a day and ate all manner of whatever other crap I felt like, whenever I felt like it.  I am not a dummy…I knew better than to eat so much junk, but it just tasted so good and I craved carbs constantly.  Fruit didn’t really taste good to me.  I only wanted junk.  As I look back on it now, I know my head was addled by something…weight or sugar or both.

Some folks have mentioned that they do not eat as much junk as I did so they do not think they will be able to lose weight, or that it will not be easy.  It wasn’t easy for me either, but I understand what they mean.  Honestly, I needed to be educated about what causes weight loss and weight gain.  Of course, I know there are many medical aspects to weight that some folks suffer, but in the absence of those, I’d bet that if you are overweight, your diet probably is not as healthy as you think.  Lots of bread, whole grain or not, and lots of pasta or potatoes and rice, come to mind as things that may be keeping weight on.  There is a lot to weight gain and “junk” hides in all sorts of ways in a typical menu.

So, here it is 6 months later.  I am within 2-3 pounds of my weight-loss weight, so I am still 50+ pounds down from where I was.  The exciting part is that my blood pressure is down to normal without medication.  The really surprising part is that my cholesterol numbers are all back in line too!  I basically dropped 40 points off of my overall cholesterol number.  My good-cholesterol numbers are good and my bad-cholesterol and triglycerides are normal again!

I still occasionally crave junk food a little, but not often and not bad.  I haven’t touched soda since January of this year.  I only drink water, coffee and hot tea.  Every now and then I will have a cookie or two or a small bowl of ice cream, but it doesn’t mean much to me any more. The cool thing is that fruit and vegetables taste good to me again.  I find myself not drawn to junk but rather to whole foods that I can identify.  I know that sounds like a load of crap, but I discovered plums and almonds.  I love plums and almonds!  I know what a plum and an almond look like!  Who knew they actually taste great?!

When I pick up a 50 pound bag of cat litter, I wondered how I ever even moved around before with the extra weight.  I lost 10 bags of sugar!  That just amazes me when I think about it that way.  Of course, I know my body built up muscle to handle it, but it astounds me how much more pressure I was putting on my joints and my heart.  I am so happy to have dropped the weight and I have found that I can easily keep it off, so long as I just decide to eat what I now know is good.  So, your mileage may vary, but I am pleased with my weight-maintenance plan…

Kids these days

Kids these days…You know, kids these days are different than when I was a kid. I had good pals and best friends and we did a lot together and had a lot of fun and all that. Something about kids these days seems different though. I have noticed that these kids share more and better than I remember doing. Sure, we took turns drinking from the garden hose and maybe we traded cookies from our lunch boxes, but Isaac and many of his pals give things to each other freely…and not just little things. They share what’s important to them among each other. I have seen them share money and clothes and electronics and all sorts of things without hesitation. I don’t mean, “here, you can borrow my shirt” kind of stuff, but “here, you can have my shirt.”

I wonder if it comes down to economics of it or if it is a true change in how kids are these days. I grew up in an economically disadvantaged region of PA. Most people there worked very hard to get by and few had a life of plenty. Of course, I had plenty of love and support, but we didn’t have stuff in plenty. I am and was perfectly content with that life, but maybe my growing up was different because of that.  Maybe I didn’t share as freely because I didn’t have as much to share or what I did have was a little more precious to me.  Maybe it was the time and the world and all that.  I don’t have any idea.

Last weekend, Abigail ran in a cross-country meet.  She ran well and came in among the middle of the pack.  I was very happy for her, especially considering she is a new runner and a 6th grader competing among 8th graders.  As the last of the pack was coming in for one of the other races, one boy was obviously struggling to complete the race.  I was so proud to see a number of other runners who had finished their race return back to the lone runner and encourage and support him.  They ran beside him, encouraging him to keep going, that they were there to keep cheering him and that they were proud to run with him.  I don’t know that everyone got a ribbon, but in my eyes, I saw a team of kids that, rather than teasing or bullying, or even just being indifferent, proved that they were champions and that they shared the joy together.

Still running
Still running

I hear people complain about how kids these days feel entitled because everyone gets a ribbon and everyone gets constant praise.  Maybe that can be taken too far and maybe it is taken too far, too often, but honestly, I do not know that I have seen that problem.  If that sort of thing breeds the kind of sharing and concern that I have seen among my kids’ friends, I am all for giving every kid I see a ribbon.

Maybe it’s a different time or maybe I was just a bad friend, but many kids these days simply make me proud and give me hope that it’s all going to be ok…