Category Archives: children

Playhouse to Lighthouse

The tenth grandchild is coming in October! Can’t wait! Grandkids are great!

Last year I built a swing set for the grandkids, then a fire truck (you can read that here).

The boys had something, but JJ, daughters, daughter-in-laws, and even granddaughters said they wanted something for the girls, specifically, a playhouse. Playhouse foundation

~Challenge accepted.~

I drew up plans for a little 10’ x 10’ playhouse, bought the materials and started work.

It’s insulated, with lights, porch lights and a plug for a heater or fan powered by an extension cord.

Like everything that comes from your hands though, I know where I messed up.  I see my mistakes, things others, besides building professionals, may miss.                     img_0633

But I see them.

I shake it off.  Remind myself that the goal isn’t perfection, even if I want it.  Demanding perfection, whether in a playhouse or a child’s life and behavior, destroys the goal. Continue reading Playhouse to Lighthouse

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The Other Table

I saw a co-worker and his wife in a social setting.  The man turned to his wife, “Tell Jeff the story you told me.”

Her face lit up as if she remembered something important.  She began a story from the high school cafeteria where my kids went.

She told me about a young man who doesn’t “fit in”.  She said the student being picked on wasn’t popular, struggles in school, and in all reality, is not very socially skilled.  By all accounts, he’s a little odd.  Add it up, and he’s an easy target.

The young man’s primary defense mechanism is to blend in like a social chameleon, then avoid others.  That’s impossible during school days when he would unwilling become the center of attention.  He’d shrink alone, virtually defenseless, and silently absorb any words, jokes or laughter directed his way. Continue reading The Other Table

Brahm’s Lullaby

In college I worked one summer at a funeral home.  Morbid? Maybe, but I wanted to be around the death process to understand, not fear it.

Sometimes though things, places, events — they change you, change the way you think, change the way you see and feel life.   That summer changed me, one night in particular.

I had two jobs that college summer.  As soon as I finished my maintenance job, I’d shower, put on my suit and rush to the 2nd job at the funeral home.

It was a visitation that night, just one body, with few visitors expected.  The funeral home owner told me he and his family were leaving town for a short trip, threw me the keys and told me to lock up after everyone left that night.

No one was there, so I went into the state room and was shocked to see the tiny casket.  Inside was a beautiful, eight month old baby girl.  Continue reading Brahm’s Lullaby

31 Years, 3 Months, 1 Week, 2 Days

“You’re going to cry when I graduate, aren’t you?”

“Yes. Yes, I am.”

That was enough to satisfy my youngest daughter, Jessica, back in September. She’s the last of my eight children to graduate high school.

She graduated Friday.

We have a few college graduations left, but by and large, the work is done. The time is finished. The investment complete.

I cried, not why she thought I would, but I cried… Continue reading 31 Years, 3 Months, 1 Week, 2 Days

Everybody Wins

It’s our large family tradition. Easter egg hunts for the children AND adults.

The kids go first, eggs with candy, bubbles, little toys, and more candy.

kids 1

Then the adults hunt. We had 13 adults hunt this year because 5 of our adult gang couldn’t make it.  Janet and I sat back and enjoyed watching the 13 go after it.

Fun, fun!

It’s basically the same each year, but with new twists thrown in.  The twist this year was games made up of random teams.

The first-place team in points from the Egg Toss, Egg Spoon Race and Rabbit Race (tow sack races) got a first-place head start hunting eggs, followed by the second-place team, then the lowly third-place team. Continue reading Everybody Wins

Little Rascal Soccer

Anticipation was high. All the mother’s anxiety was higher.

Water bottles? Check.  Halftime orange slices? Check.  After game snacks and juice boxes? Check.

Spectators set up lawn chairs battling for the best open places on the sidelines. This would be an epic contest, one replayed on family home movies for years to come.

Coaches were nervous. After all, their reputations were on the line. If their teams didn’t perform, well it would be obvious to everyone, and most importantly themselves, that they were failures as coaches, maybe even failures at life, like, forever!

The referee wanted to take control of the game of four-year olds in 4 vs. 4 game that doesn’t require World Cup refs.  It didn’t matter.  His nervous habit of rubbing his acne took the air out of his mystique. Plus, he was only thirteen, 5 feet tall and maybe 97 pounds.

The players weren’t stressed a bit.  Although two players had to go potty before the game. Probably just nervous energy.

Continue reading Little Rascal Soccer

Dance On

She smiled, flashed her big brown eyes open wide in anticipation, before scooting over and asking what I knew she would ask.

“Daddy, will you dance with me?”

Dancing. It terrifies me. On the other hand, I don’t mind looking like a fool on the dance floor because other than a slow dance, I know that’s how I’ll look.

Now my oldest daughter, Shawnna, who was 14 years old at the time, was asking to dance with me at her basketball fund-raiser in the school cafeteria.

There’s only one answer. “Absolutely!”

There were lots of girls there, only a handful of guys, and even fewer fathers.  If you lined all the other males up and rated them from first to last on the dance floor, I would by far be last, dead last.  I didn’t, no wait, I still don’t know how to two-step.

Shawnna is a very kind, observant daughter and knew I would dance, but also knew I didn’t like dancing because quite frankly, I don’t know how.  As if our roles reversed, she smiled, took my hand and said, “Come with me. I’ll teach you.” Continue reading Dance On

Maybe For One

We sat in assigned seats.  She sat next to me.  I didn’t understand why she would keep her arms crossed, as if holding herself, and rock back and forth while looking down at her desk or staring at the blackboard.  Back and forth she rocked, back and forth.

We were in second grade.  I understand child abuse now, but then, I didn’t even know what it was.

Looking back, she did. Continue reading Maybe For One

Nightmare on Tahoe Street 😂

We jumped at the chance to help take care of three grandkids while their mom and dad did duties at a church camp retreat! It’s what grandparents do.

We jump in and help, you know? All for one, and one for all! Do it for the team!

Oh, did I mention it was at Lake Tahoe? In a cabin setting? Second story waterfront view? Alright. Well, SURE!  Happy, happy, happy to fly from Texas to help!!

Our job was to help entertain the three munchkins, ages 6, 4, and 2, even though they all answer “and a half” when asked their age.

Life is odd like that. By the time you’re my age, you round down. In fact, birthdays are now Pretend To Have Ten Fewer Candles on the Cake Day!  Besides, it saves the environment from candle pollution and the smoke detector doesn’t go off!

Anyway, at the retreat center, Janet and I discovered there was no adjoining door between the rooms. In fact, there were three queen size beds in our room….with only one bed in Mommy and Daddy’s room.

Uh, huh! That’s just stinkin’ parental brilliance right there! Why didn’t I think of that as a young parent?!
Continue reading Nightmare on Tahoe Street 😂

The Baby Dies

When my oldest son was 4 years old, we were on our way to “Life Chain”, a pro-life activity where everyone stood silently holding signs along the business route in support of life.  There were hundreds of people participating and the silence was, in and of itself, peaceful.

What I remember the most, however, was the drive.  Blake sat next to me and asked where we were going.  Thinking a short answer would suffice, I told him it was to support babies who hadn’t been born.  As kids will do, he filled his logic train by peppering me with, “Why?” over and over.

Honestly, I didn’t want him to know about abortion, but after answering a couple of questions vaguely, I let the word “abortion” slip out. He zeroed in like a heat seeking missile. Continue reading The Baby Dies