March 2011


Sorry faithful readers, but this is going to be a light posting this week.  Sara just got back from Nicaragua and I’ve spent the past few days as a single parent with a busy job in the last few weeks of an MBA.

One thing I will say is I really appreciate being able to tag-team the parenting gig with Sara.  Can I do it alone?  Yes.  Would I ever want to?  Absolutely not.  I have a completely new respect for single parents.  Having said that, it is late Monday night and I haven’t given any thought to this week’s posting.  So until next week, take care.

Sara headed out to Nicaragua on Sunday to take part in a medical mission.  She’s going to the same region where I was working on water projects in Jinotega. She’s going to be out engaging the culture, healing the sick, and making an impact on lives while I’m here with a 2 year-old and 5 year-old cooking fish sticks, cleaning up boogers, and wiping butts.

I can’t complain.  Sara stayed at home while I went to Belarus twice and Nicaragua once.  It’s just a reminder that wherever a family is involved, when one person is out trying to save the world, another is at home trying to save their sanity.
I’m looking forward to when we can go on these trips as a family.  I think it would do my kids some good to see how other cultures live.  Not that my kids are terribly spoiled, but most kids in the United States have no idea how good they have it here.   It’s not their fault – we’re the ones who shape our children’s perception of what they should and shouldn’t have.  Sure other kids have an impact on that perception, but isn’t taking what the world gives you and turning it into something positive for your kids what parenting is all about?

For now, I just want my kids to see that taking the time and making the effort to help other people is important to Mommy and Daddy.  I’m starting to see some of the fruits of our labor in my oldest daughter.  When she said her prayers tonight, she prayed for Mommy to be safe and for all of the sick kids in Nicaragua to feel better.  That simple request from my daughter is proof that she gets it.

Kids are like sponges – they soak up whatever is around them (that would explain why they’re so sticky all the time).  Hearing my daughter express her concern for other kids that she’s never met is a reminder that we need to surround her with the right thing.  Because if we don’t keep something good around her for her to absorb, then she’ll soak up whatever she can from wherever she can.

I’ll give more of an update on Sara’s trip after she returns.  Until then, it’s back to the fish sticks and boogers.

Time is just becoming more of blur to me.  Tonight was a perfect example.  Olivia has soccer practice on Monday nights (and she had a game Sunday afternoon… and a game Saturday morning… and practice on Friday night).  Mondays are always tough because it’s an all-day rush to try to get enough done a work to get away early enough to make it to practice, which is followed by a weekly conference call that I have with my MBA team every Monday night.

 This week was particularly interesting.  We were already running behind so the kids got macaroni, cantaloupe, and couple of slices of turkey cold cuts for dinner.  We didn’t even have time to get Olivia dressed in her soccer gear, so she was headed to practice in a pair of jeans.  At this point, we were running about five or ten minutes late.   Just as we were about to get out of our subdivision, Sara was struck by the epiphany that she wasn’t wearing any shoes… and she’s the coach.

So we turned around, went back home, and got her shoes.  Now we were ten to fifteen minutes late.  Before we could get to the interstate, while driving on a two-lane road with no places to pass, we got behind that guy that you always get behind when you’re in a hurry.  We went the next three miles at about half the speed of smell.  Now we were fully fifteen minutes late.

I thought we would make up time on the interstate, but it has become very en vogue to leisurely drive in the left lane with no intent to pass the cars in the right lane.  What’s up with that?  Listen to me carefully:  if you are driving below the speed limit and you’re in the fast lane, you deserve to be drawn and quartered… then your quarters should be quartered… and burned.  Yeah, I get a little impatient.

We finally arrived at the soccer complex and realized that it was filled with kids from other teams.  Apparently, the league decided to make up some rained out games during other team’s practice time and failed to tell the teams that were scheduled to practice about it.  This meant we had to turn around and go right back home.  Did I mention that it was Sara’s birthday?

We ran around frantically to try to keep from being too late for an event that never happened.  This just underscored the fact that most of our hurrying is for nothing.  So why hurry?  Because if we don’t, we won’t be able to keep up with all of those other people hurrying (except for that slow guy in the passing lane).  This was just a reminder that I need to keep things in perspective.  Some things just aren’t worth the hurry.  Unfortunately, I haven’t learned how to slow down yet.

This will be a short post today.  I’ve got a lot going on over the next few weeks, so there’s not a lot of time for writing. 

We had our first kindergarten open house last week.  First off, what kind of a word “kindergarten”?  It sounds like something from Oktoberfest.

I looked it up and according to Wikipedia (which is never wrong) kindergarten is a German word that literally translates to “children’s garden”.  I’m not sure why we decided to give the most complex nomenclature to the lowest level of the school system, but German words are fun say.  Remember Fahrvergnügen?  That was the Volkswagen ad campaign from the 1990’s that means “driving enjoyment” in German.  By the way, I think Wikipedia literally translates to “the collective knowledge of witches.” 

It was a little sad seeing my oldest daughter sitting at the little table… in the little chair… next to the little boy… with his little arm around her.  When he turned around to smile at us and I noticed he had lost two front teeth.  I told him that if he wanted to keep the others, he’d better get his arm off my daughter.  Not really – but I did think it.

Olivia is so excited about being a big kid and starting school.  I know the next 13 years will go by in a flash and we’ll be sending her off to college before we know it.  I wonder how many boys will lose their teeth by then.  I’m not going to worry about that yet.  I’m just going to enjoy the never-ending litany of PTA meetings, soccer games, plays, recitals, and (gasp) pageants.  I can’t wait!

I’m a DIY kind of guy.  I just can’t bear to pay someone to do something that I know I can do.  Sure they may be able to do it in a fraction of the time and produce a more professional result, but I feel like paying someone else to do my chores is a form of resignation.  I just prefer doing things myself.  It doesn’t matter if it’s mowing the yard, changing my oil, or making furniture (although I did give in and let someone make some cabinets for us – it still hurts).  I was even thinking that I could deliver our kids on my own.  I thought about looking for a Birthing for Dummies book, but after experiencing that process, I’m glad we went with a pro on that one. 

One of my annual DIY projects is doing my taxes, which I settled in to do last weekend.  It used to be a multiple-week battle.  Everyone in the family knew to leave me alone as I locked myself away from the rest of the family with a pot of coffee, stacks of documents, and a crate of malcontent while I performed some kind of secret sorcery behind closed doors. 

Things have changed drastically.  Thanks to tax preparation software, downloadable W-2’s, and downloadable financial statements on all of my investments, I completed my federal and state returns in one hour this year – a new record. 

At first, this was a relief.  But after a while, I started thinking how anybody who could download a few files would end up getting the exact same deductions I did.  All of the sudden, my satisfaction with my tax preparation experience became contempt.  What happened to the good old days when I had to pore over the tax code for hours just to save another hundred bucks?  Guess what – the good old days weren’t always that good.  So what if new technology levels the playing field and allows people who don’t know Schedule A from Schedule C to complete a return with ease?  As long as it takes me about 30 hours less to my taxes than it did ten years ago, I shouldn’t complain.  

I bet if you went back to your “good old days” you would be quickly reminded that they weren’t quite as rosy as you remember either.  Not that it matters because you can’t go back in time anyways.  Sure, I see many people who try to.  No, they don’t literally try to time travel, but they do try to make themselves younger in an attempt to bring back their glory days. 

As long as we search for significance in our past, we will end up disappointed.  So give up the shoulder pads, the Dynasty haircut, and the belief that things used to be better.  Look instead for what others need, what you have now, and connect the dots.