It Came From 20 Years Ago

20 years ago this week, I was enjoying the fun and sun of Key West, Florida with my fraternity and most of the undergrads from UK. EVERYONE was there on Spring Break.

That trip brings back many memories. Some good (good friends, sun). Some bad (a fraternity brother was knifed by a local). Some ugly (around 20 of us lived for a week in a one bathroom condo). Some hilarious (almost evicted from said condo due to excessive snoring from someone sleeping on our balcony – seems it upset the neighbors). But my clearest memories revolve around the excitement of Kentucky basketball returning to the Big Dance.

Since it is March Madness and there is a lot of excitement about the Cats again, here are some thoughts on how things were then and how they are today:

Back Then

In 1992, it depended on where you lived as to what you got to watch. Also, CBS might cut away from a game in the middle of a shot (“What just happened?….Did he hit it?….I hate CBS”).

Today

It’s carried on 4 networks and every minute can be watched (“Hey, CBS and those other guys are alright”). It’s ironic that now you might be considered a square if you actually watched games on a “TV”.

Back Then

I was a cockeyed optimist who got himself mixed up in almost all sports, except baseball (too long and boring, unless were talking St. Louis Cardinals). UK was my team and we were returning to the dance after a few years of being exiled to the desert, known as probation. We had a good team, coach and tradition.

Today

Like pharmaceutical reps of 5 years ago, sports coverage and analysis is over the top and there is too much of it. I followed UK this year, but only watched a couple of games from start to finish. I have sports fatigue and everything seems like baseball to me. The constant – we have a good team, coach and tradition.

Back Then

Mike Francesa, sports guy on TV, earned the name “Mike Fran-suck-a” from my friend Lee W. due to an opinion expressed which was not pro UK

Today

Actually heard Mike on the radio yesterday and he seems to be doing well….although I immediately thought “Fran-suck-a” Thanks Lee.

Back Then

UK was destined to face Duke in the regional finals. In what has been called the greatest college game ever, UK lost in OT when what’s-his-face hit the shot. It really shouldn’t rise to the level of where were you when Kennedy was shot, but I’ll never forget – neither will Big Blue Nation or Duke fans. The Blue Devils went on to win the title, but a few years later UK managed to pull off a memorable win over Duke in another regional final. UK went on to claim the title that season.

Today

If the seeds hold in the South region of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, UK and Duke could play again for the chance to go to the Final Four almost 20 years to the day of the 1992 game. Sports fatigue, or not, I will be watching that.

 

“My Daddy Can Do Anything”

Last weekend, my children were playing at a neighbor’s house. I was in the garage when my daughter came running in and said our neighbor was having trouble starting his mower and asked if I would help him. I said yes and that I’d be up there in a minute to help out. She turned around to run back and as she left the garage, she yells “My daddy can do anything. He fixes things with his hands”. I blushed.

Recently, I was working in my office while my son was playing on the floor. After a few minutes, he asked me to look at him.  He had built, MacGyver style, a desk out of some toys and a book. His laptop was an old calculator and he was typing furiously. I asked what he was doing and he said. “I’m being you daddy”. I blushed again.

The eyes of my children see me as all-knowing and worthy of emulating. They notice things like my hands. Where I only see what I do with my hands as mundane – typing, pulling a starter chord or how I get food in my mouth for instance – they see my hands as how I pick them up and play with them. They see comfort; a hand to hold when things hurt, they are uncertain or scared. They are at the magic age where dad can do ANYTHING, even when I think I can’t.

That made me think about my role as a dad. What am I modeling to my children? What is it I do that they see in me as so great? Even on my bad days, I’m still their dad. What are they learning from me? You only have your children at home for a short amount of time and then they are off into the world. I see a big part of what I do as dad is to run interference between my children and what the world. It’s my job to show them that faith in Christ is more than enough to see them through.  It’s my job to teach my children to say “yes sir”  and “no ma’am”. It’s my job to protect them and teach them to not judge or bully or laugh at people’s pain. It’s my job to see them grow older and enjoy the things they do and say along the way.

The eyes of my children see someone who can do anything. I love that.

If you are looking for some good “dad” books, I suggest Boys Should Be Boys and Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker.

Our Plan: Tornadoes

Do you have a plan for your home in the event of a tornado? The past week saw deadly and destructive tornado outbreaks across Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. Once again, it is tornado season and now is a great time to get prepared.

In my home, that means we have a plan in the event of menacing weather. This is what we do:

1. We Stay Informed –  When there is the possibility of dangerous weather, we keep the TV on local weather stations for the latest news. Since tornadoes are so localized (not like a hurricane) we keep an eye on the weather, but when the neighborhood tornado siren is activated, we move into our safe place.

2. We Have Identified Our Safe Place – Experts and I’d have to say common sense say get somewhere low and fortified. Ideally, this is a basement, storm cellar, or storm shelter. If you don’t have those, it is advised to take shelter on the first floor of a home in a bathroom or small interior closet. For us, it’s the interior closet option. I call it the Alamo, and I pray it never comes to that, but in our house it’s the best place. It is close to the center of the home, shares a wall with a bathroom for some added reinforcement, has no windows and does not share an outside wall.

3. We Have Some Provisions –  I’m not prepared for a nuclear winter. We don’t live in an area prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, brush fires or flooding –  2010 being an exception. Around Tennessee, it’s tornadoes, but it is hard for me to imagine having to go it alone for days without assistance. That in mind,  I have converted an old backpack into our “emergency” bag. It contains essentials only: water, snacks, blanket, flashlight, first aid kit, medicine, and room to push in a purse, wallet, cell phones and chargers. Also, a small weather radio. If we have to take shelter, everyone puts on long pants, long-sleeved shirts, thick-soled boots or shoes, rain gear and the kids each have a sleeping bag back pack. We even have gloves, goggles and helmets for the kids.

Hopefully, I’ll never have to see if I was prepared enough. The worst thing we could do is leave the house and try to scramble to another location, so we’ll make out stand at home.

Monday Morning

Something I aim to do each week is get up early on Monday morning. I use this quiet time to pray and prepare for the week that lies ahead. We live near a fire house and it is not uncommon on Monday mornings to hear the sirens once or twice before 8 am. Each time I hear them it reminds me of a something I learned when I was a pharmaceutical rep a few years back:  heart attacks occur most often on Monday mornings.

To be clear, they can happen anytime, but the waking hours on Monday seem to be prime time for an MI. Why? Research suggests that your blood platelets are more sticky in the morning and more likely to clot. So why on Monday? It is most likely a combination of  the stress of the coming work week, the stickiness of the platelets and an increase in a hormone called cortisol.

So what can you do to minimize the risk? Certainly diet and exercise are vital, but also do things that relieve stress like laughing (seriously), volunteering your time, helping others, and praying are helpful. Go to the American Heart Association to learn more about heart attacks and prevention.

As the sirens come and go I wonder about who paramedics are responding to. Is it a car accident on the tip of the morning rush hour? Is it a school bus accident? Is it a guy just like me who woke up, like he has done every morning of his life, only this time he had a heart attack? Does he have loved ones and a mortgage? Does he have regrets about words unsaid and dreams unfulfilled? It’s cliché, but there is no time like the present to do the truly important things….the impactful things.

While Mom is Away: Day Five

Now I know why they had not put on shoes, changed clothes, washed, or roamed very far from the fireplace the last 5 days – no Kelly around to keep order in the house! Clearly, I don’t run a tight ship.

They miss mom – me too. She’ll be home tonight!

While Mom is Away: Day Four

Up and at ’em!

They must have slept here last night and used all of these stuffed animals to stay warm. I seem to remember sending an email Tweet asking them to #washup, #changeclothes and #sleep in their #beds.

Note to self: need to work with them on social media comprehension. Kelly home tomorrow.

While Mom is Away: Day Three

Today has an “Occupy” vibe, complete with sit-in and chants:

“One, two, three, four (Garrett keeps counting through eleventeen), why are we sitting on the floor? Five, six, seven, eight (Garrett starts his ABC’s), can I have lunch on a plate?”

They still look good even though they have not put on shoes…or changed clothes….or moved from the fireplace. Let me assure you the house is warm and as for the clothes, they know the routine. My son has observed the dressing process for almost four years now. Time to buck up kid!  Ainsley too. Can’t they read the note I left for them explaining they need to change clothes? Oh well.

At least they found some paint to play with.

While Mom is Away: Day Two

We have been keeping busy, but I think Ainsley’s eyes capture the mood pretty well. If she hears me say “go play with your brother for a few minutes” one more time, she is going to pop.  Garrett, meanwhile, is as happy as a pig in mud.

Again, I would like to point out everyone is in good shape. Sure, their little feet are bare and it is winter, but it has been a mild winter.

While Mom is Away: Day One

So far, so good. See for yourself.  Everyone is of good cheer and reasonably good health. Kelly will be pleased.

On My Own With The Kids For A Week

Practicing a Skype call.

This week will be a test. While my wife, who also maintains my external memory, will be flying to Ecuador to distribute gifts to children for Samaritan’s Purse, I will be flying without a net on the home front….or maybe not.  She has put almost as much effort into making sure we will be OK as she has into getting prepared for her trip. For instance, she has

  • scripted out each day of the week and activities
  • arranged for sitters
  • listed snacks and meals
  • listed phone numbers and emergency contacts
  • listed activities to do
  • tested Skype to make sure we can talk during the week

I think we’ll be OK if I can remember my job is to stick to the list!