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Proud dad moment

Our small town has an annual festival put on by the fire department. The proceeds help the fire department. The event helps unify a community annually for a few short hours.

My employer is gracious enough to donate and sets up a booth. We answer business questions and hand out some branded merchandise. We also have a few raffles handing out a few small prizes just for fun. One of the items My employer raffled off this year were fidget spinners. These are a popular item and many kids were excited about a chance to win one. These little toys had lots of kids excited. They stood eagerly for drawing of the tickets.

My co workers ran the booth while I was working the dunk tank. I took a break from my Fire Dept duties and checked in at the booth to make sure they had all they needed. The woman running our booth tells me my 8yr old daughter won a fidget spinner. She followed up my high five with, but winning it upset your daughter. My daughter told her, “Dad would be mad that I won the fidget spinner. Dad bought them for the community.” She gave her prize away to another kid. I couldn’t be prouder of her. It’s a great sign that kids do watch how we lead our lives. This was a very big parenting moment for me.

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A warm day in April

We love living in our small town. Nothing warms my heart more than seeing my family enjoy it too. After a long day at work I came home to my family out for a ride on the ATVs. It was a reminder of how blessed we are. During dinner the wife announced  the date of our next chicken dinner at our Fire Dept. The kids said the love helping at the Fire station. They immediately starting discussing who would do what job serving our community a chicken dinner. I’m a very lucky man. Raising kids to help others is becoming endangered in this day of technology burdened children.

We are also fortunate to be surrounded by other like minded families. Many families in our community set an example for many of us to follow. Many in This town help each other. This is the kind of place where neighbors aren’t afraid to stop by unannounced. The kind of place where neighbors call on neighbors when they need help. Places like this do exist and I’m proud to witness and contribute.

What have you done for your neighbors lately?

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What are your neighbors like?

I want to share my day with y’all. Today was a day worthy of reflection. 

    I started my day with a quiet cup of coffe on a small deck. I live just outside of a town of less than 200 residents. We have a post office but no traffic lights. This mornings coffee was entertained by some earthmoving equipment. So your first thought may be, laughter due to this city type noise.

My neighbor is installing a new driveway. Allow me to elaborate. He already has a driveway. It’s 1/4 mile long from the road to his house. Now here is where you find out about the community we have. The new driveway is being cut using equipment owned by my neighbor. His “labor” is his brother and father. Both brother and father live on either side of the gentleman. That’s correct, brother, brother then the fathers house. All three in a row. All three helping work on the new driveway. They didn’t call a contractor. They called on family. That’s setting the example for all of us.

    After admiring the family strength of my neighbors I sat down to a breakfast of eggs and toast. My wife cooked me breakfast as I decided how to start my day. The kids had a couple friends spend the night so dad would not be need until later in the day.  I started thinking about things like maybe a day of fishing or riding my ATV. I started watching the weather and saw some rain in the forecast. My thoughts drifted to a friend and farm down the road. I helped them with some hay a few days ago. We didn’t get the job done due to some mechanical issues. Getting the hay out of the field before it rains is important to a farmer. I bet they would have some use for a middle aged bored guy. It turns out the hay was made but still needed taken off the hillside.

     In this area we use contour farming to utilize our steep terrain. Here in the foothills of Appalachia farming can be dangerous.  Un even ground mixed with inexperience and ground hog holes can school a rookie like myself. The steep hillsides make for lengthy traverses to get crops off the hillsides. It’s time consuming transporting Hay and silage from between rows of corn or soybeans. Having some unskilled labor around (like myself) means the farmers can get back to money making tasks. 

    Don’t rat me out to my farming neighbors but I’m using them. I enjoy an afternoon on the tractor. I don’t mind working on equipment, the grease or the dust. I spend most of my “real work” days shuffling papers and taking care of HR issues. I love my day job but a break is nice. I get about 60 emails a day and so many phone calls it’s laughable. A day on the tractor is a day of solitude for me. My limited phone service at the farm is a blessing. It’s also fun learning a new skill. I’m not much of a farmer but the skills learned are easily transferable to other tasks. I’m not helping the farm much. I could be replaced by a 12 year old honestly. I feel blessed they let me come. 

    After a few hours on the farm I completed getting the round bales off the field. I got home in time to load the kids up in our ATV and wagon. We went to the gas station for ice cream. We played at the, park. We ran into some friends. Back at home the wife was preparing dinner. We ate dinner as a family like always. After supper the farmer dropped off an elderberry pie for us. I’d argue the pie is an overpayment at my skill level. I’m pretty sure it’s rude to pass on a pie so I gladly accepted. 😀

    I share my day with you to point out people still help each other. Pockets of good people that think outside of their own needs still exist. Ask yourself, what do my kids see me do that helps our neighbors. Be honest and set the example. What do you want your kids to see? How do we expect our kids to contribute to our community if we aren’t contributing? Get off your couch and get involved. Take your kids with you. 

  
   

    For a great lesson in history attended an Appleseed. 

Appleseedinfo.org.

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Play together to stay together

Have you heard the saying, “Those that play together stay together”?

Our family does a few things together. We always eat as a family. If we go to a park or a swimming pool we go as a family. Going together is not the same to me as playing together. We all like different things. Liking different things doesn’t mean we don’t like each other.

When I go shooting I will invite my family. Some times they all come other times one will come. Occasionally, no body wants to come. I’ve never forced any one to come shooting. I truly love shooting and encourage every one to become proficient. We shouldn’t expect for us all to like all the same things.

I am a big fan of Appleseed. I suggest every one should attended an Appleseed course (Appleseedinfo.org). I have invited my wife and kids. I have only had one of my kids attend an Appleseed. Not liking the same things is good and healthy.

Forcing those around you to like what you like is unhealthy. I don’t think playing together is as important as making time to be with your family. For us its mostly dinner time. Make room in your schedule for the time together. If it happens to be play that’s fine as long as everyone there is a willing participant.

Now go hug your family.

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How often do you do laundry?

    So you want 4 kids? Learn how to do laundry with out a break. Wake up and start the washer. Start the washer and make the kids lunch. Start the washer and make dinner. Start the washer right after the evening showers. Start the washer and head to town for groceries and laundry soap. This evening is a great example of how dirty laundry is created in excess amounts. 

       It rained again today. It seems like a steady weeks worth of rain. Rivers are at flood stage and the rains are still coming. It’s hot, muggy and raining. The kids have been playing in the yard most of the afternoon. They started dabbling in the puddles. They got their pants wet. They came in to get on shorts to wade in the puddles. Then they decided to come inside and put on bathing suits. The kids played hard for hours in the rain and puddles. Mom drags them inside to get showers before evening dinner as a family. Mom dictated they put on PJs for the evening. Fed, showered and ready for bed with only 4 sets of clothes x 4 kids. 

   Then dad gets out the ATV . The kids sneak out the back door and jump,on their own ATV. Splashing through the puddles at a high rate of speed they live on the edge! The edge isn’t from riding. The edge opens the back door and firmly suggests it’s time to park the ATVs.  Round two of showers and round 5 of clothes for the day. Now all of the kids are back inside and in Pajama set #2 for the evening. 

    Be prepared to do laundry for preventative maintance. I recently had my wife explain to me that she gave the kids clothes to put away. The kids took the clean clothes and piled them in their rooms. They put the clean clothes right in with the dirty clothes. Poor mom had to wash all the clothes. 

  Dirty Laundry seems to be an example of a self perpetuating machine. No matter what you do, more laundry is coming! 

  

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ATV trip with my 14 year old.

    Having solo time with any of my daughters is very difficult. My oldest is 14 this year and we don’t have much in common. She likes boys, I want to choke them 🙂  She likes helping animals and I like eating them. My daughter likes clothing that makes her look like a woman and I want to ground her for life. Let’s talk shoes another day. This post is about our weekend. 

   When I asked her to join me for a weekend of Camping, shooting and ATV riding I was expecting a NO. I was pleasantly surprised by her hurried yes answer. We got to spend almost 3 days together. We can both say we never had a dull moment. We truly enjoyed each others company. Her time as my baby girl is growing short. I was able to admire her tanacity and good decision making. She’s becoming the caring, thinking and grown person I hoped she would be. She was polite to our hosts. She respected their cabin and courtesy. She never uttered an unkind word. She volunteered to help our hosts when she could. She always wore her helmet. She is the responsible and polite person of the group. 

    Enough bragging about my daughter. Let’s get to some fun. We rode about 100 miles in mountainous terrain. She got bruised, scratched and blistered. I never heard one complaint. She never stopped smiling and neither did I.  

 

   We got in some shooting after a day’s riding. She got to shoot a golf ball out of an AR. I doubt many of her classmates can claim the same!

   A day after we had returned I asked her if she had fun. She said it was all fun except the sharp turns on the steep hills. We had water, mud and lots of sharp steep turns. She said she would go do it again so I must have done something right. 

   Now it’s time to play with the other 3 kids. The requests to play with dad are pouring in.

  
      

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An afternoon fishing with 4 kids and the wife. 

Have you ever fished with four kids? Let’s start with gear. Things like poles, hooks and bobbers aren’t too expensive and tend to last a few years once purchased. Worms were $4.99 a dozen at the local stop-N-rob. 12 worms means we all get 2 worms each. You better buy $20 worth of worms. Kids love a soda on a warm summer day. Buy a 12 pack of soda so we all get 2 cans each. It’s smart to take some water, sun screen and bug spray. Grab 6 folding chairs, 6 hats and the cooler. That gets us to the water. 

     Once at the lake it’s time to fish. If fishing means tying hooks, bobbers and sinkers for a crew of 6. Once all the poles are tied and baited I start handing them to the kids. I hear the first cast go directly into a tree branch. I Set up the rest of the poles then start working on getting the bobber from the tree. As soon as it’s free I hear,”Daddy my line is tangled”.  I need a 1/4 stick of dynamite and a samari sword to de tangle this rig. Now they all want a soda. Then the bugs start biting. Now we smell like bug spray, spilled soda and worm guts. 

   We never did catch a fish. I’m not even sure we had fun. We did spend the afternoon together. 

   Days like this make life worth all the hassles. I love my family.  

 

Family trips are few and far between. Sometimes you need to step back and say, “yep, I survived that trip”. I’m already looking forward to the next one! 

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Happiness is liking what you have. 

I truly enjoy the average. I can find humor in almost anything. Looking for reasons to enjoy the things around me keep me going. Simple things allow me to enjoy life.

    I recently took a picture of a rainbow over our small town. The picture was perfect. The rainbow ended in the middle of town. The rainbow made me stop, get out my camera phone and capture the moment. To those that see the picture I’m sure it’s just a rainbow. The moment for me was more than that. I happened to be on top of a fire truck putting hose away. I was surrounded by the best men. Guys that will fight for me in a moment of terror. Guys that will help my family should my fate catch me early. Men that risk their lives for no pay and the rare thank you. The picture was of a rainbow. The moment was captured because of the rainbow. Whats memorable is realizing the company I’m keeping represents this towns finest men. The rainbow is nice but the comradery  of honorable men doing what’s best for their community was the moment. 

    My family creates moments like above for me all the time. From arguing over who is volunteering to do dishes or carry trays at community events. My kids have been asking if they can donate some of their toys. Simple things like my 6year old saying it’s time for me to teach her to ride the quad. Simple things like the 9 year old asking me to take her shooting. Simple things like my wife driving the quad down the road pulling a trailer full of wood. Simple things make me happy. Nothing is more important than family. 

  Happiness isn’t getting what you want. Happiness is liking what you have. 

Do you like what you have? What are you willing to do to make it better?

  
    

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Hug your loved ones. Help those in need. 

It’s been a tough night. I’m full of emotion and I’m tempted to wake my kids up to hug them. When the rescue turns into a recovery it does effect the toughest of men. This blog is one of my outlets. 

     I interviewed a young hopeful man today. He is seeking a management position. He had some very well rehearsed dialog during my interview. I asked him many standard boring questions and he gave the correct answers standardized by Google. I asked about his hobbies. He said he loved sports. Not what sport for any particular reason but sports. Maybe he doesn’t know field hockey and curling are sports. Most folks I know have one or two sports they follow but this guy loves them all! 

     He mentioned he loves helping people. That was where I could find common ground. I too love helping people. I asked him how he helps people. He said he helps veterans. That’s a worthy cause. I asked him to define how he helps them. He said he donates money. 30 years old, father of two and unemployed. I wonder if he claims his donations at tax time?  He’s still looking for work by the way.

    My buddies just donated from midnight till 03:00 helping do a job nobody should ever have to do. We did it for free. What has more value? This young mans cash or the backs of my brotherhood from doing the heavy lifting. Don’t tell me you help in your community unless there’s evidence of work on your hands. Don tell me you like helping people until you’ve put someone else first. Until you’ve held a stranger in so much pain you don’t have the words. When your the one looking a family in the eye as they ….. Struggle. When have you last bought groceries for another’s family in their time of need? What have you really done to make people happy?

I’m going to Bragg but only to make a point. I had 5 used bicycles. I was planning to take the to the curb for the trash man. I instead offered them to a friend that has 4 kids. He stored the bikes for two months and gave them to his kids as Christmas gifts. I still get a, “Thank You” from time to time. If you look past yourself you just might be able to help people with out much expense or effort. Are you looking around? 

    Hug your kids. Tell your wife how much you love her. Be a good neighbor. Get some dirt on your hands making some one else’s day brighter. Don’t tell anyone you help or donate unless you actually do it. Let your kids see you help others. It’s better for your kids to see your actions than hear your good intentions.  

   

 

Thanks for reading, if you made it this far. I needed to decompress and these rants help. Friends are hard to come by at 3am. I could certainly use more friends.

Thank you

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Long blonde hair

I often enjoy the sounds of my family after a long days work. The conversations can range from school projects to animal flatulence. Tonight’s rather loud argumentation was over hair color. One daughter is yelling dark Blonde and the other is yelling Blonde. Mom jumps in with, “Redish blonde, not really straight blonde”. They are all laughing in between ribbings. 

    I get to hear all of this during my own little side adventure. I was trying to brush my teeth. I say trying because the instant I turned the water on the sink started to back up. No water was leaving the sink. With a family this large calling the plumber is not an option. Poor folk don’t call plumbers. Besides I’m an experienced father of four blondes of various shades. I set my toothbrush on the sink. I’ve done this so many times it’s like breathing. The P-trap comes off the drain. The trap adjuster comes off and enough hair comes out to knit a sweater. I’m privileged to the hair color argumentation during reassembly. None of them are even aware of the problem I just resolved.

   I love my blondes. I’d clean the drain weekly to keep them here forever. Soon mother and I will be so bald no drain will ever be clogged. For now though, I think some hair cuts are in order! Extra short!

  

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