Tag Archives: Thoughts

First day of school – 2017

We have always used this blog to, among other things, document our lives and how our kids are growing up. In many ways, I am sad that I have not done a better job of keeping this up to date. So many things have happened in our lives…some good and some bad. Life still goes on, recorded or not I guess. Anyhow, I sold my part of the company I used to own to pursue a different direction. It turns out I hated that direction for so many reasons. While I had no interest in trying to return to my old company, I decided to return to writing software, the work I have done for a long time. It feels good to go back to being a software developer, not worrying about making payroll or playing politics. It’s good to return to the work that has helped our family grow and thrive. It’s good to use my mind on complex tasks and to face and overcome challenges. So, the last 8 months have been swept away in the stress of not one, but two new jobs and the sale of my share of not one, but two companies.

The details are not really important, but that bit of stuff has been very stressful and time consuming and I am glad it is over. We have also decided to sell our house and move to a smaller one story place nearby. That happens very shortly. Of course, that means we need to prepare and sell our current house which I do not think will be much fun. The kids were a little unsure about the idea of moving. This move will not require them to change schools or even neighborhoods, really. Still, our current house is really the only house they remember. I only remember one house for my entire growing up years so I never faced the issue. Emily moved several times though and assures me that everyone will survive and be ok. I guess it is a weird thing as a kid to consider moving from the house in which you were basically raised. I think both kids have processed it enough to know that things will be ok.

What makes this new house especially appealing is that it is all on one level. Our current house has tons of character and is old and very cool. Part of what gives it character are the multiple levels inside…translation: steps. While we are still young and healthy, we have recently watched grandparents and parents begin to struggle some with steps. The idea of growing old in our current house is painful to consider. Our current house is also a lot bigger than what we need. The funny thing is that even though the new house is significantly smaller, it has much better storage and uses the space much more efficiently. In the end, I think we will feel like we have more room. Bah, there are lots of reasons we want to move and they all involve making our lives smaller, simpler and easier. That’s the real bottom line I suppose.

First day of school!
This is perfectly them!

The kids started school on Monday of this week. This is a really big year for them both as far as school goes. I cannot believe it, but this is Isaac’s senior year and Abigail’s freshman year! It is unbelievable! They cannot be that old…we cannot be that old…where has the time gone?! Isaac was pretty cool about the whole start of school. I think he is behaving exactly as he should. Senior year is a big deal , but he has earned it and knows what to expect. He knows what he is about and is learning how to manage stress and information and how to make decisions for himself. I am incredibly proud of the man he has become! Likewise, Abigail is where she should be also. Being a freshman means she had to learn a new, bigger school with all sorts of new challenges. She was a little nervous I suppose, but she is ready for the change!

The kids are so different and react to things so uniquely. It takes a lot to rile Isaac up and he is about as Type B as they come. That makes me shake my head as both Emily and I are Type A. Still, he wears it well and he rolls with the flow so well. I usually do not worry about him as he just makes do and figures things out. Abigail, on the other hand, is our first-born trapped in a second-born’s body. She is Type A and sort of driven to understand and excel, right out of the gate. She will be fine too, but I know her stress a little better than Isaac’s.

We have toured a few colleges and I suspect that Isaac will stay in state for his post-secondary education. He still has not decided where he will go, but his grades and test scores are very good so I think he will find opportunity in many places. For now, WV still has the Promise Scholarship which provides some funds for students who stay in state for college. Our political situation is as screwed up as anywhere I think so it is not clear to me that the state-funded scholarship will survive much longer, but we will take advantage while it remains. It was supposed to be set up as a benefit for WV students taking its proceeds from lottery revenues. It seems our politicians keep eyeing those funds to solve general revenue shortfalls that have resulted from all of tax breaks they have assured us would result in economic prosperity and businesses beating down the door to come to WV. I digress.

Anyhow, the kids are setting up another good year in school and we are hopefully going to see the final piece of our stress reduction scheme fall into place in the next few months as we complete the purchase of a new house, the move, and the sale of our current house. Wish us luck dear friends as the world is a wild place, full of surprises!

First day of school – 2016

I’ve been absent on here unfortunately, but today marks a big event in our house…the return to school!  School continues to start earlier and earlier, and typically, I don’t really care.  For some reason, this year, I am really bothered by its early return.  Summer just passed by too quickly!

School!
School!

We have had a busy summer I guess which explains it all.  We took a tour of a lot of WV.  We visited family in Montgomery Alabama…in July (it’s hot and humid…don’t do that).  We worked on the house and caught up on doctor visits.  Last week, Isaac was away at band camp all week which definitely signals the end off Summer!  And now, here we are back to school!

School?
School?

Per tradition, I interviewed the kids asking them what they want to be when they grow up, who their friends are, what excites them about starting a new year, etc.  I promised them I wouldn’t post the videos, but I love to look back at them from earlier years and see what changes and what stays the same.  My kids are growing up into wonderful people and I am so very proud of them…of what they think about and what the see for the future!

So, even though getting back to school might seem like a drag to me sometimes, it is the marking of another year forward toward such exciting futures!

Another teen in the wild

Earlier this month, Abigail, my precious little baby, had another birthday.  It was a big one…the big thirteen!  My adorable baby has turned into…a teenager!

In Chicago on her birthday
In Chicago on her birthday

I do not know if I am lucky or what, but aside from first thing in the morning 🙂 , Abigail is an absolute joy.  We were out of state on her birthday so didn’t get to properly celebrate, but we will remedy that this weekend.

Like most teens, she loves to listen to music and see movies, but where she really shines, I think, is that she is capable of and really enjoys thinking about all sorts of interesting subjects.  She has opinions on politics and the future, and the world around us and can elucidate her thoughts very well.  I always say that I don’t think I ever progressed, mentally, beyond age 13, but then I see how mature Abigail is, and I think I over-estimated my mental age.  She makes me so proud and I am happy to welcome another teenager into the world!

Driving…level 2

It’s hard for me to write this, not because I am displeased, but rather because I cannot believe it is possible.  Yesterday, Isaac passed his driving test making him our street’s newest driver.  It seems like he is still my precious little boy, but he has gone ahead and grown up (into a fine young man…who now has a driver’s license!) and is finding his freedom!

In WV, as elsewhere, a person can earn their driving permit when they are 15.  Isaac was kinda interested, but not really.  I sort of had to push him to take his permit test because I wanted to have plenty of time to drive with him while he was still at home.  Lots of kids these days are disinterested in driving I guess, and some parents don’t make their kids get their license until they are older.  That’s ok, but for me, I wanted him to have more experience under my tutelage so we got his permit soon after his 15th birthday

His first solo drive!
His first solo drive!

We drove a lot under different conditions as I wanted him to experience many aspects of driving with my eyes helping him merge, see hazards, etc.  Isaac has a car for his use and has spent a good bit of time getting used to it and has done an absolutely fantastic job of learning how to drive.  He seems to be very conscientious and aware of things around him.  I knew he was ready to take the next step.

I was most concerned with whether he could pass the parallel parking test.  We put it off quite awhile, but it was time.  I gathered a step stool and a large box to work as markers to practice and asked him to watch a few quick youtube videos while I got the stuff loaded into his car.

We measured out a parking bay near our house.  I figured the youtube video would give him some general info, but that I would have to explain and demonstrate how to properly parallel park.  We decided to just let him try it once, and lo and behold, he parked beautifully on the first try!  I kid you not!  I didn’t believe it so I jumped out and made him do it again…and he did it again.  All-told, he did it 15-20 times with only 1 failed attempt so we called it a night.  Two nights ago we went to the actual testing location to practice on the space the tester uses…same story.  He parked several times flawlessly, so we knew it was time.

On the road!
On the road!

Emily took him after school and he passed beautifully.  The tester said he was the first person she had passed all day…and that was at 5pm…that’s rough.  Anyhow, we went out to eat and celebrate, but Isaac was anxious to get back home to dump me off so he could drive around some.

He can’t haul friends yet until he is accident-free for 6 months, but he wanted to go out on his own.  It was one of the harder things I have done recently, watching him drive off all by himself.  He rolled his eyes when I went into Dad-mode, “You’re gaining freedom and I am giving up control over you…and it’s hard…be careful”  Eye-roll, “Yeah Dad, I know…” Eye-roll.  It’s all good though.  He drove around our area for an hour and returned, obviously excited and a little tired.  I can still remember both the thrill and exhaustion of the first hundred times driving solo.  He’s growing up though and learning to manage both very well.  If you see him on the road though, don’t honk or wave…I need him to focus on the road!

Running

We have been busy with lots of stuff as I mentioned before and most of what we have been doing revolved around my coaching soccer again, the kids doing stuff in band, and work related obligations.

Pre-race selfie
Pre-race selfie

One thing, though, that I have been doing is a little different from that.  Back in April, my company sponsored a 5K to benefit the local chamber of commerce’s scholarship fund.  I ran a lot in high school as a member of the soccer team, but after that, I really didn’t run again.  I decided to give running another try so I could train with Abigail who is on the middle school cross country team and so we could both run the 5K.

Pre-race...I still look alive
Pre-race…I still look alive

As I posted before, we ran the 5K which was pretty fun.  What surprised me, though, is that I really enjoyed running.  My first race nearly killed me as I pushed probably too hard, especially for the shape I was in.  The thrill of racing and actually not embarrassing myself made me want to do it again though.  My time in that first race was 27:30…not a bad time and it piqued my interest.  I wondered if that was my max or if I could get better.  I know I am not old yet, but I am not young either.

Finish line from a race on July 4...in the rain
Finish line from a race on July 4…in the rain

Since then, I have continued running and have come to really enjoy it.  I tried running with music but it drives me crazy.  I prefer to listen to my breathing and to the birds and the squirrels.  I like to look up at the sky at the clouds or keep count of just how many people pick their noses when they drive.  Someone asked me what I think about when I run (assuming I must get bored).  Sometimes I think about this or that, but most times, I literally think about nothing.  I sort of zone out and occasionally take in a sound or a sight, but I don’t really ponder life’s deeper meanings or worry about stressors.  Maybe that’s why I like it so much.

A hard run
A hard run

I sort of like running after dark through neighborhoods.  I quietly cruise by homes and hear people talking or watching tv.  I can smell a steak cooking a mile away and people make a lot of popcorn in the evenings.  I run 2-3 nights during the week and most times it is after dark.  It’s quiet then and even easier to zone out and the stars are pretty amazing when I take the time to look up.

Everyone has a running watch
Everyone has a running watch…I’d be naked without it!

I try to do a longer run on Saturday mornings.  Emily and the kids sleep in most weekends.  I have always been an early riser so it sort of works out perfectly.  I may run 8 or 10 miles on Saturdays before they wake.  When I start to smell bacon cooking on my trail, I know people are waking up  and it’s about time to head home.

I really like racing and my best 5K time from a few weeks ago was  22:10.  It’s a little harder to zone out on race day as I get pretty wound up waiting for the starting gun.  During the race, it’s all about keeping myself from running too fast the first mile and then having nothing left for the next 2 miles.

I do not think my goal in running is only to race, but it’s a nice side benefit.  What’s better, though, is that I have met some pretty cool people and stand amazed at what people can do, physically.  I ran my most recent race with a 60 year old man, a new friend of mine.  We talked about our plan for the race as we stood in the starting chute, but we both had doubts about whether we could pull off what we had discussed.  We ran a pretty fast race and he and I stayed together throughout and we ran just under the pace we had decided on.  Before running, I never dreamed a 60 year old man could run a race, let alone a pretty fast pace.  Older men then he ran even faster than we did though and did it with apparent ease.  Of course, they were not new to running, but age didn’t hold them back one bit.

This is a meandering post, but I think it sort of mimics my thoughts on running.  My mind wanders about how I will age and what I think about (and what I don’t think about).  I like to be exposed to new people and especially people who don’t fit my stereotypes.  I also like an occasional shot of adrenaline that comes on race day rather than during rush hour!

One thing I like about Winter

I know I have said it before, but I will say it again…I really hate winter.  It’s dark early, it’s not just pleasantly cool but really cold.  Winter means snow which means slush and muck everywhere.  It means waiting on the car windshield to defrost.  As a lifelong cheapskate, it also means higher gas bills to prevent Jack Frost’s nipping too hard at our noses.

Cold Spoons
Totally unrelated, but I like pics in my posts and these utensils look cold. That makes it related, right?

But one cool thing that happens in the Winter because of both the heat and dryness of Winter is my bath towel dries out quickly.  I typically use my towel for several days before laundering it.  Of course, that means I hang it to dry between uses like most people.  In the summer, though, it doesn’t always dry out between my shower and when I wash my face or whatever.  I don’t know why, but using an already wet towel is a real drag.  That’s never a problem in the Winter though!  I can wash my dry, cracked and chapped hands as often as I want and never have to worry about using an already-wet towel!  Ah, glorious Winter…sort of…

It’s been awhile, but let me explain

I don’t really have a good explanation. This Summer has been busy and wild and rainy and I feel like we just cannot get ahead of stuff going on! Band camp has started for Isaac and will continue this week at the school and next week away at their “away camp”.  Abigail starts next week as well with camp at the school and then we are back in school…or so it seems.

Strawberry pie!

We haven’t been to our executive deer stand, I haven’t harvested the honey yet and I am not sure you could call what was a yard a yard any more…more like a jungle.  And so, here lies my blog, lonely and abandoned.  I had trouble with it being attacked and just in general sucking from a hardware and infrastructure stand-point.  It was hosted on an aging server in my office.  As it grew in size, the server balked more and more often and then knuckle heads from places unknown slammed it hard (though it didn’t have to be hit too hard to bring it to its knees).  Finally, I decided to migrate it to a paid service where I get better machines, better storage, better maintenance, etc.  I hate paying but it should just flat out work better now.

Strawberry pie!
Strawberry pie!

So, hopefully things are settling down some and I can get back to posting.  It’s been a fun Summer in spite of rushing around.  I’ll have to tell some of the stories we accrued.  In the meantime, please enjoy this pic of the strawberry pie Emily made me…she made me about 4-5 this summer and they were incredible!

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!

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…