My good friend Stasha invited me to join a link up revolving around lists of 10, which she calls “Monday Listicles.” There is even a cool badge for it, which you can see to the right of this post. I was intrigued by this idea, and so decided to jump on the bandwagon and become involved in the link up. So, below, please find our lists. Enjoy!
January 16, 2012–Promises to Myself, Broken
When we are young, everything seems so simple and so clear. It may be pure ego, but I can’t accept the fact that I was wrong then–I just had a much different set of circumstances which actually made things easier, not only to do but also to plan and to understand. There was nothing to lose, my body was able to do whatever I asked of it, and there was an infinity in front of me in which I could correct any problems I might cause myself. As that infinity has shrunk to something less, something that seems now to have an end, the rules that I live my life by and that I expect everyone else should be able to live their life by have changed and as a result, I have broken lots of promises to myself. Below is that list–and, in italics, the realizations that made it impossible for me to keep them.
10. I will never yell at my children but will calmly and rationally explain things to them–children are completely irrational and make adults temporarily insane. Also, there is no way to calmly and rationally explain “Don’t hit the car with the shovel.”.
8. I will never pay anyone to do the things that I can do myself–lot’s of the things that I can do myself get put off for years because I have no time to do them.
7. I will never spend an entire day without doing something fun and entertaining–one word…..mortgage.
6. I will never wear particular clothes because someone else tells me I should–I wanted to run a company way more than I wanted to wear shorts.
5. I will never go more than a month without going fishing–I still haven’t figured this one out. I tell myself every month that I am going to go, but it just doesn’t happen.
4. I will never put “things” before my family–DON’T HIT THE CAR WITH THE SHOVEL!!!!
3. If there is something that I want, I won’t just tell people about it, I will actually buy it–it occurred to me that I would like to continue to buy at least some of the things that I want later in my life, and so I better put a little something aside.
2. I will never be too tired for “fun time” with my wife–just seems silly now, to both of us. If we only knew.
1. I will never offer unsolicited advice–we actually started a company DEVOTED to giving people advice, so……
January 2, 2012–10 Resolutions I Will Never Keep
First, a confession. I have never made New Year’s Resolutions, at least to the best of my knowledge. I suppose it’s possible that there was some instance during my school years when it was assigned and so I put something together in order to satisfy the class requirements, but I’ve never tricked myself into thinking that the beginning of a new year would somehow spur me to do the things that I otherwise would not do.
In my current working life, things that are going to happen in January are actually planned in about June and then developed until January. This week, in fact, is our annual meeting in which the rest of the team will be let in on what I and my senior managers have been working on for the past six months. In my personal life, if something needs to get fixed, it either happens right then, or it doesn’t happen at all–there is such a sea of things that need attention that no other system will work.
As a result, the following list of resolutions are the things that I would love to do more, but know I won’t. Maybe writing them down will push them further toward the front of my mind and create such a strong desire to do them that I will actually work them in somewhere. That would be awesome. Here goes:
10. I will get my hair cut more frequently. Waiting until I can feel it pinned beneath my head when I lay down to sleep makes for a much less fastidious Bruce than I imagine myself to be.
9. I will pay more attention to the landscape around the house. Freezes two years in a row took the wind out of my sails, but it’s time to get over it and to make it right.
8. I will wash the Jeep. It’s been a few years. If I wash it, maybe I can sell it as the only time it really gets used is when I go fishing.
7. I will go fishing more often. I only went three times this year. That’s pitiful.
6. I will make enough extra money to get my wife a cleaning lady. It needs to happen. My beautiful wife should not be cleaning the house–she should feel free to make her own list and to pursue it.
5. I will be more patient with the things that I am not patient with. It’s a long list of things that cause me to lose my patience, a list that frustrates me because it really shouldn’t matter, but it does and I need to get over it. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.
4. I will abandon all of my vices and become nearly perfect.
3. I will make absolutely zero errors in judgement, recall, grammar, arithmetic, etiquette and logical thinking. Forever.
2. I will discover the exact method by which to tell people the complete truth and to have them come away from it understanding 1) that my argument is sound and 2) that I have told them the complete truth because it is helpful to them, all the while with them feeling super good about it and embracing me as a truly excellent friend/coworker/boss.
1. I will find the way to spend time with my wife, and only my wife, and to talk about something other than children while doing things that adults do, like drinking alcoholic beverages or seeing movies with something other than “G” at the front or listening to a concert or play. (Of them all, this is really the only one that I hope comes true. And maybe the fishing.)
December 26, 2011–2011′s Firsts
It’s not often that we think about what we have done for the first time. In truth, most of us probably dwell on the things that we are having to do over and over again. I’m glad that Bridget at Twinisms proposed this theme for this week’s Listicles (link up every Monday with the gang–it’s a great way to start your week!) because it forced me into a retrospective of my year and made me realize, it was really darn good! On to the list:
10. Our daughter said her brother’s name for the first time–sort of. She went through a period where she only said the first syllable of words, and so for a few months, her brother was “Mi.” And she loved to call him, sometimes with excitement, sometimes (especially from her crib) plaintively, but always LOUDLY and REPETITIVELY.
9. Our son rode his bike for the first time. Really rode it, without training wheels.
8. Our son crashed his bike for the first time. In some ways, the crashing was more impressive to me than the riding. You can read about it here.
7. We put Gloria’s dream into action and created Fabulosokids, and as a result of that, this blog.
6. Our son asked a question that seemed adult. It shocked me and made me proud at the same time. It was during a discussion of baptism for Catalina and he asked the pastor “Why did Jesus need to be baptized?” It was so insightful and exhibited such depth of understanding that I realized he had turned a cognitive corner.
4. I got a brand new Chevy car. My first car, which I got 31 years ago and which was NOT new by any stretch of the imagination, was also a Chevy–a Nova. At the time, I kind of assumed that I would always drive Chevys, a long succession of brand new shiny Impalas in the tradition of my grandfather in fact, but in reality, it took nearly half a century for me to get one. It’s a Malibu, not an Impala and it’s a company car, but nonetheless, it’s my first shiny new Chevy.
3. Our daughter got her ears pierced. She LOVES her little rhinestone studs and asks everyone who will listen (numerous times each day, by the way) “Do you like my earrings?” ¿Te gusta mis aretes? And yes, she’s two. She insisted that she get earrings, even knowing that it was going to hurt. The most disturbing part of the process for her was that the lady drew on her ears with a pen–to mark the spot of the pierce–which even our daughter knows is not right. Only paper is for drawing
2. Our son spoke in public. He played the role of Simón Bolivar at his school timeline and said his lines in front of about 250 staring adults. He did wonderfully, and enjoyed the experience so well that he gleefully wore his Bolivar costume for Halloween.
1. I made friends with people who I have never met, whose voices I have never heard, but who exhibit such generosity and such humanity that I find myself wondering why it is that I never meet people like all of you in real life. If nothing else, this Fabulosokids experience and the blogging and tweeting and facebooking and linking that goes along with it have given me an entirely new perspective, and I thank each and every one of you for it.
December 19, 2011–The Lipton Questions
I like this idea of answering a list of questions. Wish I had gotten it done on time, but it is what it is.
1. What is your favorite word?
Bookkeeper. The repetition of the consonants has fascinated me since I was a kid.
2. What is your least favorite word?
Can’t. Yuck. I’ve written about it before here.
3. What turns you on?
Sexually? None of your business. In general, enthusiasm. If you’re enthusiastic, I’ll get behind you.
4. What turns you off?
Apathy. Take a stand for God’s sake.
5. What sound do you love?
The sound of happiness from my wife. There is nothing that makes me feel more complete and more right than the sound of Gloria laughing or singing.
6. What sound do you hate?
Complaint–if you don’t like something, change it and if it is beyond your control to change it, shut up! Complaining just makes everyone else feel bad too!
7. What is your favorite curse word?
I like all of them that are euphemisms for curse words. Throughout my childhood, my father said “Gol dang” constantly, and it made me smile and made me feel safe at the same time. I have taught our children to say “Salamanca” when they hit their funny bones or otherwise injure themselves in some minor way–I derive a certain inappropriate glee from hearing them say it.
8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Professional fisherman. Politician. Football coach. Restaurateur.
9. What profession would you not like to do?
Actor. Outside sales rep. Social worker.
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
The ones you have left behind are going to be just fine. Don’t worry.
December 12, 2011–Hometown
First an aside. I am realizing while pursuing this discipline of writing a list of 10 every Monday how
weird unique I am. Way too often, I have to write an introduction that explains why I can’t exactly do what I am supposed to. It’s eye-opening, and marginally disconcerting.
I’ve told you that to tell you this. I don’t really have a Hometown. The place where I live currently, Palm Bay, FL is a “bedroom community.” Essentially, a super-sized subdivision with nothing but houses and a little bit of commercial. The joke among we Palm Bayans is that Wal-mart is our downtown.
To turn to my actual hometown, Lima, OH–the place of my birth–won’t work either as I have been there only twice in my adult life, both times to go to a burger joint called Kewpie which apparently was the favorite of my father and his sisters when they were younguns.
So, I think that the only way to solve the issue is to adopt the state of Florida as my hometown. I’ll just consider it a really big town. I’ve lived in Florida longer than anywhere else, although not necessarily in Palm Bay. I’ve had 8 Florida addresses, in fact. But, it is in Florida where I have found my home, and so I suppose that it is my Hometown. So here goes–this is what I love about my Hometown:
10. Breaking dawn on calm water in a bay or river–the moment centers my soul.
9. The juxtaposition of wind whispering through pines and rattling through palms that make for a symphony that is purely Florida and that makes me sleepy–I could lie down in the needles beneath those pines and sleep a sleep that I haven’t known since I was a boy.
8. My children’s squeals and screams crashing through the screen door as they play in the back yard.
7. The perturbed glares of deer as my headlights ruin their late night snack along the side of the road. The haughty turkeys and disgruntled bears are pretty awesome too, though usually during daylight and much more rarely.
6. The overpowering embrace of heat and humidity and sunshine as I exit an air-conditioned space during the summer, and the comfort I take in that, knowing that I live in a place unlike any other.
5. Thunderstorms, swirling, violent–threatening destruction as they bring life in such abundance that it becomes commonplace or even a nuisance.
4. Yelling at my sweaty little children in an effort to overcome their unstoppable need to open the valve to the garden hose and to roll and stomp and dig like little piggies in the cool mud that it makes.
3. Being able to go from the metropolis that is Miami and, after having driven only an hour, arriving in some of the most wild lands on Earth.
2. Waking up every morning knowing that I chose, and choose, to be here.
1. Knowing that this is where I met my wife, and married her, and made a home with her, and created two little people, and where we grow those two together, and run a business, and where we will some day die, together. Everything that is good happens to me in Florida because everything that is good starts with Gloria, an she is here, with me.
December 4, 2011–Christmas Wishes
Christmas is a funny time for me–I’m split completely down the middle regarding my feelings about it. On the one hand I love the romance of the thing, the sort of Currier and Ives or Coca Cola vision of what Christmas is supposed to be. Having kids around strengthens that aspect–watching my son recently becoming so excited about putting up the Christmas tree was a marvel. The other side is more dark as I focus on the reality of the thing, on the work and expense and on people’s ability to completely ruin any romantic vision I might have. As a result, the holiday season is something of a roller-coaster ride for me, one day singing Christmas Carols at the top of my lungs, the next scowling Scrooge-like at the mere mention of anything at all Christmasy. The following list, I think, reflects all of that.
10. I wish for cold–cool at least–on Christmas Day (probably a Florida thing)
9. I wish for everyone who is so inclined to give our children presents that are appropriate, vis-a-vis age, subject matter, violence level, etc.
8. I wish that no one on Earth will try to claim Christmas as a moment to advance their agenda, especially via guilt-mongering.
7. I wish for harmony among all of the various factions of our families, and that no one will try to make our decisions regarding whom to visit a reason for vindictiveness or jealousy.
6. I wish that Gloria and I get our children’s wish list exactly right. (At what age do kids begin to understand Manufacturers part numbers?)
5. I wish no one had to work on Christmas. No one, not even (or maybe especially) the police.
4. I wish for all of the photos and videos to be perfect, featuring smiling children, calm, relaxed parents, and perfectly decorated and cleanly homes.
3. I wish for bountiful, happy Christmases for all of my employees. (I always wish I could give them more work, more money, more benefit–this isn’t really a Christmas thing)
2. I wish for a few minutes to go for a walk with my wife, and only my wife, so that we can amble along wearing sweaters, holding hands–maybe even stop and sit arm-in-arm for a moment somewhere, with absolutely no one nor nothing interrupting us.
1. Like every Christmas, I wish for peace on Earth and good will toward men.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
November 28, 2011 Pictures of Babies
I knew this day would come. Stasha is a brilliant photographer and has an eye for what makes a photo beautiful, and so I knew one day we would be asked to create a photographic list. Thank goodness she suggested sharing images from the internet! I decided to express my relative uniqueness as a male Mommy-blogger (well, I kind of am!) by sharing pictures of men with babies. It’s not all sugar and cuddles for we fellas–that doesn’t mean we love the babies any less, it just means we see them
correctly differently. Babies are gross and weird and funny and fun to play with, and I’d like to share those aspects with everyone, plus Dad’s view of being Dad–from the beginning and through each and every day.
November 21, 2011 Why We Have 2 Fabulosokids
I’ve been absent from the Listicles for a couple of weeks, but have just barely managed to squeak in under the wire this week to submit my list. My apologies to Stasha and the rest of the gang. I’ve got a lot going on, including uploading hundreds of SKU’s and their photos and descriptions for the commercial site in the past couple of weeks. I’m back now.
That having been said, this topic is a tricky one. I never really thought about it before–why we aren’t having more babies. Below is what I was able to come up with.
We’re I’m old. When my daughter graduates from high-school, I’ll be 62. I already get asked “How old are your grandchildren?”
9. Pregnancy ain’t easy. ‘Nuff said.
8. I can’t find the time to write a 10 item list every week!
7. We would need to buy (and clean) a bigger house.
6. I would need to get a fourth job.
5. I am one who likes to figure something out, refine my solution, and then put things on auto-pilot. The fact that my daughter neither behaves nor responds to correction in exactly the same way as my son does befuddles me–a third variable might kill me!
4. Some day, I would like to sit down for a long time with my wife and ask her “How have you been for the past decade?” without the subject of what to do with the children creeping in.
3. Some day, I would like to be able to throw magic markers, cleaning products, pills, knives, my cell phone, coins, my car keys and maybe a stick of dynamite in a big pile on the kitchen counter and just leave it there for an hour or so.
2. When Miguel was born, we knew that we would have a second child. It seemed right. It was right. They complete each other and our family. The question of a third has never entered the picture.
1. Things are perfect just the way they are.
Halloween seems to be the most kid-centric holiday of all. There is absolutely nothing required of them other than to have a few pictures taken–which they typically are unusually willing to do because they feel so awesome in their costumes. These are 10 of my favorite things about being a parent at Halloween:
10. The kids’ overwhelming excitement–there is so much that is taboo that they get to do that they can barely contain themselves. What other moment during the year do we encourage them to dress crazily, walk around in the street–at night– talk to strangers, and eat candy just before bedtime?
9. The effect that costumes have on them–they actually believe that they can run faster, jump higher, and do things much more acrobatic than when they do not have the costume on.
8. The candy–come on, who among you has not begged some candy off your kids?
7. Watching the kids give candy to trick-or-treaters at the door–Lots of us try to make our children understand the value of giving at Christmas, but for our kids, the true lesson comes at Halloween. I can see the pride and the feeling of beneficence in my son’s face when he doles out the sweet rewards–it’s the only time I have to tell him “Don’t give them so much.”
6. The bravery they display–I don’t know if any of us can really remember the terror that walking up to a dimly lit doorway represented, but every year, I can see it in my kids’ faltering approaches and looks over the shoulder, and I am impressed every time when they press on and ring the bell despite it all.
5. Walking hand in hand with my wife with nowhere to go.
4. The children’s joy of searching through the collected candy–truth be told, every year I am reminded, when I watch the kids dig through the piles of candy, of a documentary I once saw about Mel Fisher and his crew and their jubilant reactions as lumps of what seemed to be coral were broken apart and piece by piece, and as they discovered more and more treasure.
3. The kindliness of everyone who leaves a light on–Halloween lets you know where the good eggs are in your neighborhood.
2. Toddlers attempting “Trick or Treat”–It seems to be one of the most difficult phrases in the entire English language for anyone under the age of 4.
1. The fact that the kids love it. There is never any disappointment in the thing. The worst moment is when you tell them they have to go home, but even then, they are okay with it because they want to see what they have collected. It is one of the few occasions of nearly perfect harmony between parents and children.
©2011 Fabulosokids LLC All rights reserved
October 24, 2011–Tips for New Moms
This one will be a little strange for me as I have never been a new mom, not will I ever be. Wrong hardware. However, I have been a new dad who has lived with a new mom, and so I have a unique vantage-point from which to dole out advice that will absolutely make a few people angry but that will mostly, hopefully, make people laugh when they realize that they actually did some of this stuff.
For those of you who are or soon will be new moms, I have one overall tip that you must remember and take to heart–RELAX. Take it easy. Take a pill. Chill. Mellow out. However you want to say it, the message is the same. You’re going to freak out–everyone does–but you have to try to control it.
On to the list:
10. Babies cry for absolutely no reason some times–There actually probably is a reason, but you’ll never figure it out. If you’ve checked the big three (food, diaper, sleep) and they’re still crying, the best you can do is let them know you care. (P.S. You might also make sure that they’re not lying on something hard that accidentally fell into the bassinet–I’m just sayin’)
9. It is completely unnecessary to change the babies clothes more than twice per day–no baby on the face of the earth has ever died or even become sick because of a drop of milk on their onesy.
8. In the future, you will never be able to sit through the hours of video you are capturing of the baby sleeping–I know it seems important and as if you will miss the sleeping baby once it’s a toddler, and you’re right–but there is nothing more boring than watching a baby sleeping. That’s why you’re videoing in the first place–you’re bored and are looking for something to do.
7. Babies often vomit for no reason–It’s a fact. There is no scientific explanation. They even sometimes do it as if they are fire hoses. DO NOT go to the doctor.
6. Babies often do not poop for a few days at a time–Also a fact with no explanation. The baby is not in pain, is not sick, and will eventually poop, usually with a vengeance. You will regeret having begged the gods to make your baby poop.
5. You make plenty of milk–If you’re breastfeeding, there is no reason to scour the internet for days at a time looking for the right things to eat in order to insure your milk supply. Your body is serious about making milk–it will rob you of your own calcium to make it happen–don’t worry about milk.
4. Yes, we do think you’re atttractive and sexy–totally. The real problem may be that we are pissed off at you because you are 1)being a little irrational 2) blaming us for everything and 3) asking every 6 seconds “was that the baby?”.
3. The baby’s father is NOT doing everything wrong–in fact, he’s probably doing everything right just as much as you are. Parents are supposed to be a balance–it’s what makes children well adjusted. Plus, fathers are men. We see things differently. The baby is NOT going to die because we didn’t put a jacket on him/her when we went to the mailbox–in July.
2. When the baby’s father is good at something, he is not getting it right to spite you. He does not make the baby sleep, nor calm its crying, nor “make” the baby smile in order to throw it in your face. It’s accidental, and he shows you when it happens because he figures you’ll be glad that he finally got something right!
1. YOU ARE DOING IT ALL 100% RIGHT–Your baby is going to be awesome. It will not get sick and die. It is not malnourished. It is not exhibiting symptoms of any disease, physical nor psychological. It does not resent you. You are the perfect Mom for your baby. The Mom down the block is not way better than you. You are not the only Mom who has ever felt like you’re doing it wrong. You’re not the only Mom who has ever made a mistake. There is no Mom who knows more about this than you, ESPECIALLY your Mom or my Mom (even though they will tell you that they do, or at least will imply it.) You are totally awesome, you love your baby, and your baby loves you.
October 17, 2011–Guilty Pleasures
This isn’t terribly fertile ground for me, not because I don’t have a lot of pleasures but because I don’t generally feel bad about indulging them. That’s not been the best strategy for my life as I am learning now that I am deep into my 40′s, but it’s been a great ride. Lots of things have gone completely by the wayside, some of them (like full contact sports) no longer pleasures because they leave me so uncomfortable, and others only rarely indulged as, unlike in the past, their negative effects have been made positively obvious to me. As a result of my rapidly advancing decrepidness, these are the few pleasures that I still allow myself despite knowing that I shouldn’t:
10: Pizza–Oh, pizza! What a torrid love affair we had, sharing each other’s company nearly every day for so long. But now, every time we meet, you leave me with pains in my belly and a headache.
9. Cigars–It seems the whole nation has put aside cigars in large part, but even now when on rare occasion I smell a really good one, my mouth still waters. I indulge in one every few years.
8. Makers Mark Whiskey–Goes with cigars.
7. Fishing trips–Here I’m talking about the extravagantly expensive kind involving a boat and captain. It’s become too difficult to justify the expense with two kids around. It’s about time for one now.
6. Danish furniture–expensive, to be sure, but also just not sensible with kids around. Our bedroom is still Danish, but the rest of the house–Rooms to Go.
5. Loooong showers–With so much to do in the house and in our working lives, taking a very long shower is just selfish and puts too much of a burden on Gloria. Trips our of town fro work sometimes allow me the opportunity, and I jump on it.
4. Eating out of the container–Horrible example for the kids. In the past, if I were eating something other than a social meal, I would eat over the sink, spooning and sipping from the containers in order to eliminate dishwashing. Still sneak this in when left home alone.
3. Computer Games–I love the simulation kinds of games where you get to create something and then try to manage it. But I’m 46–seems a little juvenile.
2. Television–Especially sit-coms. Every once in a while, I still enjoy sitting there on the sofa, or better yet reclining, watching a couple of hours of vapid comedy, whiling away my time.
1. Ice Cream–I could eat it every day. Every. Day. There’s not one single kind that I don’t like. Not one. My daughters birthday on Nov. 3 will probably be my next indulgence.
October 3, 2011–Quotes
I have long been a fan of quotes–I use them in presentations, as daily messages to my team at work, and as reminders of the things that I am trying to accomplish. These are a few of my favorites:
10. KISS–Keep It Simple, Stupid. It’s a little mean, but it’s one of the hardest things for people to do and so I use it a lot, often as a stand-alone reply via e-mail (and as a test for the things that I am trying to do myself.)
9. Nothing is more crippling than our own Educated Incapacity–Edie Wiener This one refers to the idea that, often times, what we know about something makes it more difficult to see it thruthfully and so the only way to reach clarity is to stand back and to try to look at things as if we know nothing about them. Asking questions of people who know nothing about something is super informative–try it sometime.
8. Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. – Benjamin Franklin Managers (and parents!) often want to tell people what to do or how to do it, but unless the receiver of a message understand why they are doing a thing and feels a part of that goal, they will never fully grasp it.
7. I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it. –Thomas Jefferson One of my favorite ideas.
6. Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. –Abraham Lincoln We actually used this one as the theme for an entire year a couple of years ago. I still see it popping up here and there as I read company communications.
5. Change or die.–I have no idea where this is from, but it is a constant theme for us. People are generally resistant to change, but especially in our technology rich world, change is one of the key ingredients in not only success, but also survival–as a company, as an employee, a someone relevant.
4. The Difference Between Success and Failure is One More Try–another one that I don’t know the source of, but so plainly and logically true that I have to include it here.
3. I’m a Rhino, not a Cow–Scott Alexander Loosely based on a book called “Rhino Success.” The whole idea is that Rhinos and Cows are pretty similar except that cows do what every other cow does, and rhinos CHARGE!!
2. Get the Right People on the Bus–Jim Collins Another loosely based one, again from a book called “Good to Great,” in which Collins talks about the difference between good companies and great ones. One of the principal ideas in the book is that you have to have the right people pointed in the right direction in order to get to greatness–a bus ride to greatness, if you will.
1. If Winning Isn’t Everything, Why Do They Keep Score? –Vince Lombardi I know, I know, super cliche. In truth however, it’s the way that I approach everything and the attitude I expect the people around me to have. The phrase “it’s good enough” makes me angry faster than anything else–except perhaps “I can’t.”
September 26, 2011–Summer
Having lived mostly in Florida and California for the last 30 years, the change of seasons isn’t as dramatic for me as it is for many millions of others, but there is nonetheless something about summer that makes it romantic and magical. The following are the things that define summer for me, although a couple of them are not necessarily things that I will miss.
10. Fogged glasses–I wear glasses, spectcles that is, all the time. In summer, the transition from air conditioning to the highly humid outdoors leaves me temporarily blind until I can either free a hand to remove my glasses or until I can get back into air conditioning.
9. Winter clothes for the kids–I’m not sure if this is just a Florida thing, but summer is the time when winter clothes are so cheap that not buying them seems like a foolish idea. This past weekend, we bought a pair of Merrell boots for my daughter for $5! That’s like 94% off!
8. Bugs–Mosquitoes trap us inside as soon as the sun sinks below the treetops, Palmetto Bugs and ants invade the house, Cicadas sound like thousands of little lumberjacks in the trees, and Fire Ants scar my children’s legs and feet with pustules and scabs.
7. Rain–There is noting quite like a Florida thunderstorm. The outfall changes the temperature by 25 degrees in a matter of minutes, lightning crackles and hisses all around, and then the rain pours down from above, first from one direction then from the other as the cell passes by. Brilliant.
6. The lawnmower–The grass grows an average of 2.25 inches per week–every week.
5. Reptiles–Lizards, snakes, turtles and alligators seem to vacation in Florida. I don’t know where they go in the winter.
4. Long days–At our latitiude they’re shorter than for others of you, but still, it’s nice to see the sun when leaving in the morning and again when returning in the afternoon with still enough time to do something outside with the kids.
3. Manatees baseball–our local minor league team is a joy to watch, provided you’re coated with insect repellent. Fear The Sea Cow!
2. The Creeping Crud–Both my son and I suffer from some kind of allergy during the summer that gives us the most maddeningly itchy bumps on our lower legs that fill with fluiud and generally are kind of gross. Even though it is clearly some kind of contact allergy, neither one of us has the sense to wear long pants to avoid it.
©2011 Fabulosokids™ LLC All rights reserved.
September 19, 2011–These Kids Today
I’m going to break the rules today. I’ve been trying to work out a list all day, but every attempt comes out nostalgic and sappy. I realize that there is one underlying theme to everything that I have included in any of the permutations of the list that I worked on, and so I want to write about that.
I wish kids’ lives were simpler, like they were way back when during my boyhood. I wish my son could feel the wrenching burning of smoldering black powder singing his thumb after experiencing the thrill of hearing his cap gun fire. I wish no one, including me and his mother, wondered what the greater implications would be of his having a cap gun. I wish there was no reason to wonder if we or he were breaking any laws by either having or allowing a cap gun. I wish we didn’t worry about the message we would be sending him by allowing a cap gun.
I wish our children considered the back yard and the back yards of our neighbors to be the ultimate venue for their every adventure. I wish they thought of the six foot wide plastic bowl that leans against the back fence as their swimming pool, and their ocean, and their river. I wish they played world championships in soccer and baseball and tennis and golf on our shabby lawn with sticks and rocks and pine cones. I wish they fought great campaigns on the battlefields of the neighborhood. I wish they found sleeping outside wrapped in nothing more than a few blankets and sheltered by a plastic bag of a pup tent to be romantic and adventurous. I wish they did not know that swimming pools were anywhere other than hotels, that sports fields should be manicured, that Nike exists, that wars are fought with something other than swords and bows and arrows, and that the cold, hard ground is uncomfortable and unforgiving.
I wish I heard my children say “I’m bored” a lot more often than they do.
I wish I heard them say “I know” a lot less often.
I wish there was some mystery left to them, some thing or place or idea or experience that I could not give them–and especially something left that I do not feel required by their incessant, pointed questioning to explain to them. My son is 6 and reads as well as I did at 9. He does math in his head without his fingers. He can easily name most of the states and countries on the map. He knows who George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln were. He uses a computer. He washes dishes and does laundry.
He is six.
My daughter, who is not yet two, sings the alphabet in two languages, pretty much counts to ten–again in two languages–takes swimming lessons and helps her brother clear the table after meals.
I am proud of them in ways that I never imagined that I could be proud of people. I am amazed at their ability to absorb anything and everything and am awestruck by their tenacity in achieving whatever is important to them. I encourage them and push them and celebrate their every achievement with them.
But I wish their lives were simpler.
September 12, 2011–Change
I have been a leader and manager of people for a long time–as such, I have had a unique relationship with change. I am effected by it, just like everyone else, but I have also been an agent of it. It’s a sort of love/hate/love relationship that has let me understand some thing about change that many people don’t even think about, and it is those things that I want to share today.
10. Change is good–it’s cliche, but true. The only way to overcome a problem is to change something.
9. Change breeds change–the normal and natural reaction that people and things have to change is to change something themselves. This fact manifests itself in lots of different ways, some positive and some negative, but is always true.
8. Change defies prediction–No matter what you do, no matter how carefully you plan, there will be some part of every change that you make that will surprise you.
7. Change is threatening–People tend to react negatively to change because they assume that it relates to them much more directly than it actually does. In other words, if a law if changed, every one of us assumes that it is designed to impact our lives directly and personally when in fact, no one usually even considered us.
6. People will cling even to something that they publicly dislike before they will champion change, simply because they believe they know what will happen if everything remains the same.
5. Change is more painful for the person initiating it than for the person who is impacted by it–for as unsure and insecure as you might feel when a change has been announced, the person who thought up the change has the same feelings 100 fold, and is actually in the greater jeopardy of experiencing something negative if things don’t go well.
4. Change is the only path to excellence–no matter what the circumstance, status quo leads only to mediocrity because others who will change will quickly catch up. Without change, there is no possibility for improvement.
3. Change is inevitable–everything everywhere is changing all the time, no matter how imperceptibly.
2. Change is attractive–I used to be a manager at a major home improvement retailer. One of the things I learned there was that any time a display changed, even if only the position of the products changed within the display, it would increase sales. This phenomenon was so powerful that it became a standard practice for my team to change a display this week, and then change it back two weeks later, producing a spike in sales each time.
1. Change is opportunity–A lot of the people who have worked for me have missed this particular point, and I think people miss it in general. In order to accomplish any particular thing that you may want to accomplish, it is necessary to change what you are currently doing. If you have been passed over for a raise or promotion, doing the same thing you have done in the past, or even doing that same thing harder, will not open any opportunity for you. Only by changing can we advance, and only in change is there any opportunity for anything else.
September 5, 2011 My 10 Favorite Animal Sounds
Before they could talk, both of our kids could imitate animal sounds and used them in various ways to communicate, especially when we were “reading” to them with picture books. Our son’s sounds are and were more accurate than our daughter’s, but that isn’t really the point of my list–I want to tell you which I regard and remember most highly, and why, and so here we go:
10. My elephant imitation, because I also include the swaying trunk and head, which makes everyone, including Gloria, giggle with delight.
9. Gloria’s monkey imitation, because it makes me laugh and because it’s so darn accurate!
8. Our son’s chicken sound, because it is filled with such gusto and has a certain increase in pitch at the end that makes it all his own (and may in fact hurt chickens’ ears!)
7. Our daughters “angry dog” which is actually an imitation of growling, because it sounds nothing like growling and because her face contorts so wonderfully when she makes it.
6. Bird noises from either child, because they have heard Cardinals almost exclusively and so no matter the picture of a bird, no matter how fierce nor proud, the sound they make is a withering “pee, pee, pee.” Hilarious.
5. Our son’s giraffe sound because, as you may know, giraffe’s make no sound and so he assigned a loud chewing noise to them for reasons that are mysterious to me.
4. Our daughter’s cow sound, which has no “m” at the front of it, and which appears to be the sound of a displeased cow booing at the opera. (Don’t ask me why that’s what I associate it with, but that’s always the vision that comes into my head.)
3. Our son’s fish sound which is a popping of the lips somewhat reminiscent of a fish breathing because, …….well, you would have to see his face to get it.
2. My daughter’s snorting horse sound, which is typically a loose-lipped sort of noise but which she makes with tight lips, resulting in a whinny followed by flatulence.
1. The sound of a lion from either child becuase it was the first one that they got good at and the first one that either of them really tried to communicate with. I especially like the stories that my daughter and I invented while changing her diaper which would begin with her finger on her ear, indicating that I should listen, and then my asking what it was, her imitating the lion sound and various others as I asked more questions, and almost always ending with the lion eating either cats or birds outside near our front door! Best sound EVER!
August 29, 2011 Places I Love
As a kid, we moved–a lot. No, Dad wasn’t in the military, he was just really good at his job and as a result kept getting promoted–and transfered. The result of all that transition is that places mean very little to me overall–I truly learned that “Home is where the heart is.” If also taught me to look for the magic in whatever place I happened to be in, to recognize the little details that made things special no matter how dreary the surroundings might be in general. Those are what I would like to share with you today, in order of where I have lived.
10. Corn rustling beneath the wind’s touch in Ohio
9. Icecicles glimmering in weak sunshine in New Jersey
8. The sound and smell of Eucalyptus seed pods being crushed under my feet in California.
7. Newly stocked baby catfish gulping air in too-hot lake water in Texas
6. The multitude of people “hugging my neck” in Georgia
5. The pageantry of every spoken word in Tamashi, Japan
4. The fruity, salty, rancid smell of fishing piers in California (again)
3. The glare of blacktop roads that are bleached white by the sun in Florida
2. The easy calmness of everything in Mississippi
1. Coming back home to my wife and children in Florida (again)
August 22, 2011 Yinyang
This topic, yinyang, has forced me to think far too much, and in fact has frustrated me because it is not coming to me simply. The idea of yinyang–that there is balance in all things, and that one side of a thing is dependent on the other, is generally something that I reject for myself. That is, although I am sure that there are parts of things or ideas or activities that I would rather not deal with, I leave those to someone else and for myself make decisions that allow me to focus on the parts that I do want to deal with. Not sure if that’s positive thinking or if it’s burying my head in the sand, but either way, it works for me.
That having been said, I am not happy with my output for this week’s list. Making the list has become something of a discipline for me however, and so I have gone forward. Please fogive the shoddy effort–or not. If you want to let me know how horrible it is, I welcome your criticism. Just be aware that I KNOW that this ain’t good.
10. Mediocrity is the balance of passion and apathy
9. Leadership is the balance of listening and directing
8. Writing is the balance of artistry and labor
7. Reputation is the balance of fact and suspicion
6. Relationships are the balance of acceptance and tolerance
5. Humor is the balance of truth and absurdity
4. Color is the balance of light and darkness
3. Wisdom is the balance of knowledge and ignorance (and acceptance of each!)
2. Florida is the balance of water and earth (barely!)
1. I am the balance of yesterday and tomorrow.
August 15, 2011 The Things I Miss
Is it my imagination, or are these lists getting harder? I’m not sure that there’s much that I miss, but I am nostalgic for some things. In other words, I am plenty satisfied with the replacements for these things, but nonetheless sigh when I think about what used to be. Unfortunately for me, I think they might be a window into my soul that I’m not too sure I like peering through. You be the judge.
10. Carburetors–Being able to fix my own car made me feel supremely manly–having to go to the mechanic all the time now is somewhat emasculating.
9. Pay phones–Maybe more specifically, being unreachable was really cool. There was a time when “I didn’t have any change” was a perfectly acceptable reason not to check in.
8. Letters–It was cool to become engrossed in the experience–the smell of the letter, the color ink it was written in, the texture of the paper. Pen pals from overseas were awesome, especially the air-mail paper.
7. Floor length urinals–the guys will understand. They’re just different.
6. Fights-It used to be that young people could settle arguments by wailing on each other a while. Spilt blood brought them together in a lot of instances. In today’s climate though, a fight is never just a fight, it’s a hate crime or gang related activity or a sign of some deeper rage that has to be controlled. Maybe if we encouraged them to punch each other more, kids would stop shooting each other or having huge gang beatings?
5. Nutritional Ignorance–Remember when you could eat a bowl of ice cream and not wonder which body part was suffering the most? Or when the only difference between the various eggs at the grocery store was their size?
4. Saturday Morning Cartoons–especially Bugs Bunny and his gang. There are so many cartoons on all the time now that the ritual has been lost.
3. Mended Clothing–I stitched up a shirt a few weeks ago, and people reacted as if I was insane. When I was a kid, I wore clothes that were more than half patches or stitching. I don’t think we ever discarded clothing unless it no longer fit. And it fit for years because my parents bought stuff two sizes too big and hemmed them and took them in, and then let them out as we grew.
2. Nuns–Where the heck have all the nuns gone? I haven’t seen a cluster of nuns walking through an airport or mall in decades. I guess they don’t wear habits anymore, so they’re not so noticeable.
1. My Youth–This one I actually do miss. Bowling with the Fabulosofamily yesterday reminded me of just how much. I feel like I got hit by a truck!
August 8, 2011 10 Food Things
When I first heard this topic, I thought it would be a breeze. Food. Who doesn’t know about food? As I started to try to compile a list though, I found that it was so broad that it was nearly impossible to pick 10 things! So, I narrowed it down to this: the 10 best airport foods, in support of my fellow road warriors. I invite your contradictions and especially additions, since I’m on the road even as I write and could use some good suggestions!
10. Moe’s at ATL–I think it’s the best food in the whole airport.
9. CIBO at MCO–good sandwiches and always something that you can’t find anywhere else.
8. The Salt Lick at AUS–Smelling that barbecue as you disembark is magical
7. La Hacienda at ABQ–Chicken Enchilada Burrito is nearly perfect.
6. Figs at LGA–Spinach salad is a great change of pace
5. Quiznos at SAN–An early morning egg and cheese bagel is always great!
4. Ciao Gourmet Market at CMH–Surprisingly fresh–they even have organic choices!
3. The Great American Bagel at BOI–The Tomazzo Bagel is a great meal any time.
2. Brioche Doree at STL–High quality, no matter what you order. Better than anything in the airport, or even most airports.
1. Cafe Versailles at MIA–Anything on their Cuban menu–it’s all good. This one is a little bit of a cheat because you will feel like a winner whether you’re doing your Cuban dining at the airport or anywhere else!
August 1, 2011–10 Things That Make Me Laugh Out Laud
I have to admit, this one is tougher than most for me as I am not typically a laugher out loud, but more of a snickerer. Some of these may be exaggerations, allowed by poetic license.
10. The scene in “Something About Mary” when Matt Dillon is trying to resusitate the little dog, and it’s front legs flip forward and back as he administers various life saving measures.
9. Adults being whacked in the groin or head by children with various sports implements, ala America’s Funniest Home Videos. I don’t know why it’s so hilarious to me, but it is.
8. Any time someone gets pissed off at me in traffic. I have also been known to blow kisses at those same people in order to make them more irate, adding to the fun.
7. When people abbreviate “assistant” as “ass.,” as in “ass. manager” or “executive ass.” Now that’s funny.
6. When my daughter, who is 21 months old and who can barely talk, does something purposely mean and then leans forward, pats the victim, and asks “You okay?”
5. Every time my son tries to convince me that he is underpriveledged.
2. I’m laughing at the Rock Bottom thing right now ’cause it’s still in frame while I’m writing.
1. My friend Jackie, who is funny as hell because she is fearless and will do anything to get a laugh. I’m sure it means that she is damaged, and as a friend I should help her overcome her need for attention blah, blah, blah–but man, is she FUNNY!
10. Irregardless–not even a real word.
9. Fixin’–as in, “I am fixin’ to eat me a big’ol sammich.”
8. _______ -American–As in Asian-American. We’re all Americans, or whatever nationality we are. Stop giving our skin color so much attention, or do it right and describe everyone by their EXACT skin tone. I am either pale brown or dirty white–not sure. I rather like “Dirty White American,” so we can go with that.
7. Cute–Means almost nothing.
6. Affirmative–overly complicates “yes,” one of the clearest and best words in the English language.
5. Organic–in the business sense. Makes me crazy when people say “It developed organic popularity.” What people mean is that no one predicted it. Makes me doubly crazy when people try to “foster organic growth.” If you’re fostering it, doesn’t that mean it’s not “organic” by your own defintion?
4. Viral–see above.
3. Sweetie–unless it’s used to address children, and even sometimes then, it doesn’t mean anything nice. Ever.
2. ”But Papi.”– A phrase, I know; but used as a word, generaly after I have given some direction that my children wish I hadn’t given. Often said in a whining way, at least quadrupling how annoying it is. (Note: “papi” means “daddy” in our household.”
1. Can’t– Usually actually means I won’t, I’m afraid, or I don’t know how. If we could wipe the word from our lexicon, it would result in much happier people and a much more productive world.
10. There is nothing more interesting than seeing the beauty of a fish up close.
9. I once got to pet a Manatee while doing it.
8. No one asks to tag along unless they also love fishing.
7. It’s quite a mind exercise to try to think like a fish.
6. There is something about water that is calming and that relieves stress
5. Boats are cool.
4. It’s like gambling–you never know what will bite next, or if anything will bite at all.
3. It’s the one thing I think I might some day set a world record in.
2. All of the cool kids fish.
1. No matter how old, how feeble, how simple minded I may become, I will always be able to fish, with my kids, my grandkids, and hopefully my great grandkids. It’s a hobby forever.
Listicles, fishing, words, laud, food, miss, yinyang, animal sounds, change.