Sunday, December 21, 2008
15 Lessons I've Learned Through Marriage:
1) There is no bad day of marriage that is worth trading in order to be single again. The reason isn't because the bad day isn't bad but because there are so many good days in between.
2) I'd rather be happy than right.
3) Being a Dad at home is better than being a boss at work.
4) I know nothing about women. How in the world can you be an active listener without coming across as fixing it? I am still missing this one.
5) The sooner I apologize, the sooner everyone is happy.
6) Never talk to a woman about her hair, her age, or her weight - even if she asks. Opinions about these things are really requests for validation.
7) This too shall pass. Except, thankfully, for my marriage, family, and faith.
8) Fighting can be healthy for marriage. Plus there's the make up...
9) Unfortunately, kids do what I do, not what I say. Crap.
10) Some of the funniest jokes happen at prayer time.
11) That saying, "It's the thought that counts" is a lie. It is much more effective to ask a woman exactly what she wants and then just give it to her.
12) Laughing is the best way to stop crying.
13) Meeting someone half way will never make for a happy marriage. There is either all or nothing.
14) The happiest word in my dictionary: home.
15) Marriage gets better with time. I wouldn't go back but I am sure looking forward to it.
Here are a few more, now that I think about it:
16) I am my best self with/because of my wife.
17) Pig tails and pony tails will get me to do anything.
18) Worrying about the future is a waste of time. Do what you can today. The rest will work itself out when it's ready.
19) I have been so blessed to be so loved by so many.
20) That saying, "Never go to bed mad"? - not always true. Going to bed mad then trying again in the morning sometimes works out much better.
21) Even after seeing me at my worst, the people who really love me stick around anyway.
22) The most important things (people actually) in my life all fit on my bed. Everything else is just stuff.
23) Seeing your son make his first great tackle is funner than making your own first great tackle.
24) The difference between being a bad dad and a good dad? Two words: I'm sorry. Two more: Try again. If that fails, one word: bribes.
NOTE: Each blog I make usually includes a corresponding music list on the sidebar. Take a look.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Event: Seeing The Eagles in concert December 1, 2008
Time on the road to get to the concert: 3 1/2 hours
Time waiting for this concert: 20 years
Person who convinced me to go: My love - thank you Trish.
Average number of beers consumed per person: 17
Number of beers consumed by me: 0
Number of drunk guys that passed out on my row: 2
Average age of the audience: 50
Average emotional age of the audience: 16
Odd fact: They had an intermission. Intermission? At a rock concert? I guess they had to take their high blood pressure pills.
Only regret: Not having someone there to share it with (no one wanted to spring for a ticket). I did text my family throughout the show giving them play by play updates.
Favorite moment: Right at the beginning when they walked in - Being in the same room with my favorite band and singer (Don Henley). Awesome.
Favorite songs performed: Hotel California (with a 2 minute spanish trumpet solo), Life's Been Good, Boys of Summer, Desperado. Harmonies sooo tight.
Seat location: Center stage, row 17 baby.
Concert ticket: $250
Rental car: $150
Spending 3 1/2 hours in sheer heaven: priceless
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Things are crazy here and I'm needing some amusement. So, I present some random musical thoughts.
Here are my top 3 awards for distinguished song lyrics:
#3 - Deep Thought Award:
"I Believe the Children Are Our Future..." - (Whitney Houston - The Greatest Love of All)
Hmmmmmmm. You know, she's right! If you think about it, I guess the children really ARE our future. As opposed to the grandparents. Or the parents. Wait. I need to write that down...
#2 - Creative Lyric Award:
"Na-na-na na-na-na. Na-na-na-na-na. Na-na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na!" - (Journey - Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin')
You know the part I'm talking about, right? I count 22 successive "na's" in that phrase. That is impressive. More impressive is that they repeat that same sequence 22 times to end the song. That means we hear the sound "na" 484 blessed times in a row before it finally fades out. There is nothing sweeter than a 3 minute song that lasts 10 minutes. It makes "Chopping Broccoli" sound like a masterpiece.
The only thing missing is...more cow bell.
#1 - Grammaritarianism Award:
"Songs that she sang to me. Songs that she "brang" to me..." - (Neil Diamond - Play Me)
Come on Neil. This is a good song but please. Did you just run out of words that rhyme with "sang"? Let me help. There's bang, rang, hang, slang, Tang, twang, Michael Chang, fang, dang. Any of these would work. Am I right?
In the event that "brang" IS ever added to the dictionary here's how it would be used in a more appropriate sentence: "Sensuous up I just axed and, bam! you brang me a beer." (Foxworthy Redneck Joke)
Thank you. I'll be here all week.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Have you ever been in a restaurant or at a bookstore, or on a park bench and seen a happy senior couple sitting quietly together? One of the greatest things to see, in my opinion. I am always struck by the wisdom, humility and calm in their eyes.
So, when I see a couple like that I smile and wish I could look through their lives and soak up the lessons they've learned. What could they teach me about being happy? How many times did they worry about money or health or kids? What did they give up to be happy? How many times have they chosen to forgive? To think that they have been there at each other's best and worst for so many years brings me hope. Hopeful because they chose to allow life's trials and triumphs to bring them together and not to drive them apart.
And if they can do it, so can Trish and I.
So, in the spirit of becoming more like these couples, I was wondering the other day about just how to get closer to my wife.
Hard to imagine that is possible. But just in case it is, how would I do it? My sister had a great blog that started me thinking about this. And I was impressed by her answer. And I'm sure Alfer is too.
One of the commenters on her blog said something I thought very wise and worth exploring further. She said, in essence, that when she learned to love her husband not in spite of but because of who he is, she became happier and more secure herself. Music to a man's ears.
You see, for a guy, we aren't interested in being changed. We are interested in being loved just the way we are. So to be accepted and understood for our interests, traits, and shortcomings is good. But to be loved more because of those things - that is the ultimate sign of affection. And the coolest thing a wife could do...
Upon further reflection, it occurs to me that perhaps my wife would appreciate the same treatment.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
He is one of my heroes.
One of the things I have really come to appreciate about my Dad and others like him is his optimism. Seeing the world as a glass half full is a gift - and a secret to happiness. I love to be around optimistic people.
In order to take care of the needs of a family of 8 my Dad started a landscaping company years ago. He taught seminary during the day then worked after school and weekends on his business. And I worked right alongside him with my brothers. This was a great blessing in so many ways. I learned to work hard. I got to spend time talking and learning from my dad and my brothers. I learned to take pride in a job well done. I learned that you finish a job before you quit. I learned that you go to work anyway - even if you don't want to.
And I learned the gift of optimism from him. Many times, while working late to finish a job we were tired and grumpy and ready to go home. He would look up and say, "gosh that's a beautiful sunset". He did this hundreds of times. If it was hot we would be complaining about the heat but he would just say, "boy, that cold water sure tastes good on a day like this". One day while we were weeding a field of mint (a very tedious job) he stopped, and put a handful of it into his shirt pocket. Then as the day progressed he would occasionally stop and smell the mint and say how it reminded him of his own dad. I really love those memories.
So, in troubled times like we are in now where there is so much belittling, despair, and hatred I am always so grateful to come across someone who chooses to be optimistic. I love the gift of optimistic people in my life. I hope to be more that way myself.
Thanks Dad for teaching me that there is always a beautiful way to see the world. Like a sunset, or a glass of cold water, or the smell of mint.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Like many parents I was a bit nervous about all of this. Not because I didn't want to talk about it but because I didn't know how much to talk about. I didn't want to freak them out. (Maddy), or give them any ideas (Blake).
So, after much consideration we've decided to let pop culture do the teaching.
Fine. We'll just let their friends do it then.
How about their teachers? Well, it turns out that is an option. I do agree that to learn about it somewhere regulated is better than from Fergie, Snoop Dog, and kid-in-my-class (who learned everything from his teenage brother, who in turn learned everything he knows from MTV). So, if school class is the only place they get The Talk then I would concede that it is better than nothing.
We chose to opt out of the school chat and handle things at home instead. Why? 'Cuz it's fun to talk about.
Here are a couple of other reasons:
1) One-on-one is more better.
Group forum challenges:
- Different knowledge/maturity levels/learning methods of the kids.
- Group environment doesn't encourage open dialogue or sensitive questions.
- Inability to read each child's comfort level, interest, understanding as information is given
- The larger the group of kids, the lower the collective maturity = Not good for this discussion
2) I want to be there when The Talk happens. That way I can determine the tone, forum, and refreshments and make sure they jive with my own values and parenting style. Plus it tells the kids it's important enough of a topic that I am handling it myself. Of course, I may botch things up horribly but they are used to that by now.
3) The Event vs. A Series of (Unfortunate?) Events.
I remember my dad sitting me down when I was around 7 or 8 and having the Talk. All I remember is thinking, "Dad, I am way ahead you here." Not his fault but I just happened to have learned it by then. That was it. One talk. So I thought I'd take a multiple session, a little-at-a-time approach starting a little sooner. This seems to have worked pretty well for the following reasons:
- It is driven by the child and not by the parent. The first time I spoke with Blake, I thought I'd cover what I deemed "the basics". Well, after going over just a few things I felt prompted to stop, so I did. Since then we've gone into more depth on a couple of other occasions. These sessions went much better. Natural. He was interested and it brought us closer as father and son. I actually look forward to these talks now.
- Multiple discussions make it less formal and a natural part of a normal American kid's life. Like math. Or soccer. Or Socialism. This allows them to feel that intimacy is also natural and comfortable. Not something to fear or to avoid discussing, but something to respect, to prepare for, and to look forward to some day - like when they are 40.
Finally, in David Letterman style here is my Top 5 advantages for sex education at home:
5) Now they can watch Rated R movies and understand all the bad stuff. Research.
4) I don't have to skip all the bad songs in my iTunes library anymore when they're in the car. Research.
3) They can be kid-in-my-class-at-school with all the answers.
2) Maybe this will give Blake some ideas for his Science Project.
1) It's fun to talk about.
One last note: It could be worse. I noticed when reading a bit about school sponsored sex education programs, schools in Germany require 20-30 hours of sex ed per year as part of their core curicullum.
What in the world do they talk about?
Maybe they use flip charts and let the kids color anatomy pictures to pass the time. Or play that Operation game...
Wait, isn't Dr. Ruth from Germany? No wonder she knows so much.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Here it is:
Tough Love vs. Spanking - Good Argument
Most people think it improper to spank children, so I have tried other methods to control my kids when they have one of 'those moments.' One that I found effective is for me to just take the child for a car ride and talk. Some say it's the vibration from the car, others say it's the time away from any distractions such as TV, Video Games, Computer, iPod, etc. Either way, my kids usually calm down and stop misbehaving after our car ride together. Eye to eye contact helps a lot too. I've included a photo below of one of my sessions with my son, in case you would like to use the technique.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
So, one of the greatest experiences of my life has the been the chance to participate in competitive sports. From the time I was 7 or 8 I have played sports. Soccer then basketball (till I realized that a 5' 7" center isn't that desireable later in life), then wrestling, and football.
Here, in no necessary order, are the top 9 things I love about sports and mostly football because it is the best sport. (There is no debating this, by the way. Any attempts will fall on deaf ears.)
1 - I have a hidden aggression that can come out in sports. Where else can you launch yourself into someone at full speed with the express intent of knocking them on their head. Then, in a show of gentlemanly sportsmanship, you help pick them up off the ground but with the clear understanding that, given the opportunity, you are going to do the exact same thing to them in about...30 seconds. And the harder you hit them, the better it is (except of course for the person you just knocked unconscious). And they know all this but strangely they do it anyway, with the hope that maybe they'll get you first next time. Talk about therapy!
2 - There is no better place to learn how to win. Graciousness, humility, gratitude, feeling of accomplishment/triumph, learning to trust oneself, learning to trust others, succeeding at something difficult. It's not the winning that matters, it's what you learn from winning. Unless it's the Utes. Then winning is enough. Two years and counting...
3 - There is no better place to learn how to lose. Graciousness, sportsmanship, accountability, fairness, getting up and trying again. I still go back to the championship wrestling match I lost and am grateful for it.
4 - Learning to be a part of a team. Giving praise and credit to others, learning to recognize strengths and weaknesses in ourselves and surrounding ourselves with others who can complement us, not blaming others - even when it is their fault.
5 - Thrill of the competition. It just is cool to pit your best against anothers' best. There is no clearer challenge. And it's fun to trash talk.
6 - Getting it out of your system. Since I started coaching my son's football team I have been grateful that I played sports myself. I can relate to him and his challenges. I can understand his highs and lows. I have a degree of respect from him because I did it too. And, I don't have to live my life through him. He may be great. He may be good enough. Or he may decide to be good at something else altogether. Either way, that's ok with me (usually) since I am happy with the life I have now and with the one I already finished.
7 - Hard work. Sports is a great place to learn that any worthy goal is going to take a lot of hard work. And it will be worth it.
8 - Saturdays just fit. There is something about Saturdays in the fall, and hotdogs, and stadiums, and fans, and football that just fits. One of my simple pleasures. Like a sunset. Or prescription drugs.
9 - Brotherhood. Or sisterhood if you are a girl, or want to be. That bond created through a shared goal is a cool thing and prepares you for later experiences in life like missions, quorums, marriage, book club...
I leave you with my favorite sports quote: "If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter."
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Over time I have become more of a listener and less of a performer. I believe that one of the 7 technological wonders of our time is the iPod - followed closely by iTunes. Whenever I go there I feel the same thrill I get when I walk into a book store. It's like the Wonka Factory for grownups.
One reason I love music is that it has such a powerful emotional effect on me. Have you noticed how many of your happy experiences are tied to music? Romances, trips, friends, school, prison...It seems that most of life's memories can be conjured by a familiar song.
So, in honor of the power of music, I give you my top 11 musical memories in order of appearance. I'd love to hear yours as well.
1) Turn Around - You know the song about a boy and a girl growing up and moving away from home? Once, when I was "an old" 7 or 8, I had my mom sit with me in the rocking chair and sing that song to me over and over when I was feeling sad. I love her for that.
2) My Heavenly Father Loves Me - My favorite Primary song. Even now. Comforting.
3) My brother was my hero growing up. Whatever he did was cool. I remember sneaking into his room when he was gone, putting one of his Aerosmith 8-track cassettes into his player, stuffing the matchbook in underneath the cassette (you old-timers know what I'm talking about) so the sound wouldn't warp and the tape wouldn't get eaten by the monster inside the stereo. Then I'd kick back on his bed looking up at posters he had hung all over his asbestos encrusted sparkley ceiling: Peter Frampton (this actual picture), Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, BMX racers, and that famous picture of Farrah Fawcett. Good times.
4) My first purchased album:
I remember the pride I felt in 8th Grade at having "discovered" Lionel before everyone else did. Pretenders. And the first popular song I ever learned on the piano? "Hello", by Lionel. (Although that music video of him with the blind girl doing a sculpture of him was creepy. And is there a better afro/mullet than "He Who Dances On the Ceiling"? I think not.)
5) Friday Night Videos - Come on all you '80's junkies, you know what I'm talking about: Domino's pizza, jr. high sleep overs and FNV. I think there were about 10 videos out and they played them all every week. Huey Lewis (the one where he opens all those doors in the house and there's a weird movie scene going on inside); The Cars (where the lead singer is a bug flying around the bathroom); The Police (where Sting is in a circle of candles and then he cuts them all down in slow motion. That one is still pretty cool, actually; The Eurythmics (singing in the field of cows - never got it).
6) I don't know what it is, but some music really sounds good echoing through the canyons of Lake Powell. Some of my favorite memories of growing up were at Lake Powell with my friends. Favorites: U2, The Cars, Depeche Mode, Cheap Trick, and my favorite of all time...
7) In high school I sang Si Tra'i Ceppi (sp?), an Italian aria, for a state music competition and got a Superior rating from the judges. Cool and scary. Mostly cool. Before the finals, to help with the nerves, my choir director thought it would be a good idea to sing the song in front of the women's choir during class. Sounded good. Practice in front of an audience, plus 300 girls all to myself and chicks do dig the arias, am I right ladies?
One problem: 1st period class = voice not warmed up yet = voice cracked like a 7th grader going through puberty. Result: Backfire.
8) I served my mission in Guatemala so we rode the bus everywhere. You either got Mexican cantina music - which I hate - or occasionally American rock music, which I love. As you may know, missionaries don't listen to rock music as it detracts from the spirit of the mission - unless, by chance, you hear it on the bus by no fault of your own. Then you can sit back and enjoy every glorious second. So I'm on the bus with chickens, sweaty people and dust and just before our bus stop "Sacrifice" by Elton John comes on the radio. Three things: 1) I do love me some Elton John; 2) This was a new song I had never heard before; 3) I hadn't heard english, much less American music, in months. It was like a cold drink of water during a walk in the desert. Delicious.
We missed our bus stop - and the next 5 after that. 100 Fascists with guns couldn't have gotten me off that bus before my song ended. We were late to our meeting. Worth every second.
9) I serenaded Trish with "She's Got A Way" by Billy Joel at our wedding reception. One of my favorite memories of our wedding. Trish was just bawling. It was awesome. (Then I noticed other people were bawling too - and covering their ears. That made me wonder a bit...)
10) Dancing Queen - for my Maddy. Just fits.
11) Blake shares my love of rock music. He's cool like that. One day we were in the car and he started humming Steve Miller to himself. How cool is that?
Monday, September 29, 2008
The best person in my life was born tomorrow. This is for her. Happy Birthday Trish. I love you.
A few years ago I met my wife. I really started to like her when, on a date with my family no less, we started playing Killer Frisbee and she started knocking people down to make a catch. It was the point of the game, after all. Very cool. A hot girl. And a tough girl. And a fun girl.
After that I started to get to know her better. Smart. Fun. Up for a challenge. Great listener. Sincere. Kind. And she smelled really good. I still remember how great it felt to hold her hand. It was like a warm blanket wrapped around us wherever we touched. But I especially loved to hold her hand.
I knew she was different, this relationship was different, when we so quickly and effortlessly grew so close. Within a few weeks I was at a point with Trish that had taken me a year or more to get to in my previous relationships. New territory.
I owned a landscaping company in college, which I loved; nature, getting paid to exercise, and a mind free to think. One day, as I worked I remember walking down a path of wildflowers at one of my properties while thinking about Trish. I realized I was at the dreaded crossroad again. Was I ready to give my life to someone? Yes. Was this the Someone...?
I had been here before. Many times. I hated this place. The problem with relationships is that you have to get to the point where you really care about the answer before you can even ask the question. Which means you are going to hurt, or they are going to hurt - every time - until the one time that you don't.
I'm a list guy. Pros/Cons. Work it out. Solve the problem. So I made my list: reasons why I am ready; reasons why I'm not; reasons why we're good for each other; reasons why we're not good for each other; and so on.
I don't remember a single item on the list. All I remember is that as I thought about Trish that day I started to feel guided with answers to my questions - some of which you can't answer logically. Thoughts flowed to me like I was having a conversation with a wise, trusted friend. And I was. I have never before or since had such an extended period of personal revelation. I spent the entire day in quiet communication with the Lord and He very directly answered every single question I had.
That night Trish came to see me. By the time she got there I was completely at peace with our future together. I remember sitting in my beat up Chevette, parked next to that path of flowers holding her hand and telling her about my day. I remember looking at her and thinking, "I really hope I am not freaking her out right now".
And also I remember how good she looked. And smelled.
Thankfully, her feelings for me were mutual. We prayed together about starting a life together and felt peace. It was beautiful.
Since then I've added a lot of things to my list of reasons why I'm ready, why we are good together, and why she is the one for me. I hope she has too (or at least that her list of pros still outweighs the cons).
We've passed through some heavy winds and rain and a lot of sunshine too. But no matter what happens I will always know that she is my Someone.
I still love how she smells. And how it feels to hold her hand.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Well, I have decided to join the party. I know. Seriously. Get excited.
In my blog, I've decided to address questions of life and relationships I have had (or others have posed) that are puzzling. I will also be providing periodic sports, food, entertainment and music commentaries and other random observations.
So here we go.
Topic #1: The strange phenomenon of teenage texting.
Like most kids, when I was a kid of around 11 or 12 I became interested in girls. At different times during my long and distinguished career as a ladies man I would set my sights on an unsuspecting (but fortunate) girl, get up some courage, smell the armpits, make sure my zipper wasn't down, then casually stroll toward her at lunch (or gym, or detention) and, drum roll please...talk to her.
I have since learned that social norms have changed. Kids no longer need to even be in the same room to meet, socialize, fall in love, and even creatively "get the freak on". Literally. (I must admit, upon hearing some of the horror stories here that I was impressed by the creativity displayed. Depraved yes, but ingenious nonetheless.)
In order to compete in today's ever-changing information age it seems that, for teens, speaking in person has become a thing of the past. Face-to-face interaction is not only clunky it can be downright...awkward and apparently something to be avoided if at all possible.
Does anyone else find this strange?
Isn't that awkwardness PART of the social development phase? I thought it was necessary in order to learn to deal with emotions and feelings and to learn to appropriately respond to stress, conflict, attraction, anger, etc.
I pause here to catch you up on some terms in teen'dom that I am still a bit fuzzy on but according to my daughter I think go something like this:
Friend = Anyone programmed into my phone who I text daily.
Dating = Texting hourly and/or actually doing things together after school, on weekends, etc.
Going Out = Texting half-hourly and/or meeting exclusively for lunch, movies, Halo tournaments (online of course - which means you have to be in separate buildings whispering sweet nothings over the internet about how to use a photon torpedo or electrified battle ax to cyber-kill your best friend and his girlfriend. It's a double date.)
Boyfriend = Someone I am texting half-minutely to share my devotions with, holding hands with, kissing, etc. and who others acknowledge is mine.
The actual human interaction part of these definitions isn't any different than I would expect. The strange thing here is that any and all of these relationships and activities can be successfully navigated without ever actually interacting in person. You can progress in a relationship just by increasing the frequency and content of the texting.
So, follow me here. You can have a full-blown boyfriend in 8th grade who you share deepest feelings with and pledge devotion to who, if you bumped into in the hall would, without a word, cause you to blush profusely, clam up and run the other way only to text seconds later to make up.
So, if this alarming trend continues can you imagine where we are headed?
A few disturbing scenes from our future:
Priest: (Via webex from home office) types, "I now pronounce you man and wife." Then signs out CU@church.
Groom: (From the Sports Bar via camera phone), "I love you, honey." Then he texts, "UR SO GR8" before turning back to the game.
Bride: (from the salon) texts back,"I ♥ U2. CU L8R"
Two years later:
Groom: (From the Sports Bar upon seeing he is an hour late for tv dinners) gets the following text from his wife, "♀ :( ♂". He then orders flowers online from his phone and sends an eCard of apology as he heads out the door...
Presidential Debates -
Moderator: (Via online PowerPoint presentation) Slide #1 "How about the economy?"
Then the candidates (from home of course) will furiously text out their responses on screen for all to see. Answers won't be important. Speed of completion will be crucial however. Extra points for wingdings. Of course mispellings will be docked - unless they are from the approved lexicon of Webster's Texting Dictionary.
No real stretch here. We'll just play video games with no real sports EVER being played. At least the super bowl commercials will still be there at the online gaming Madden Football '25 Championship...
Back to my point: I hate teen texting. I guess there is one advantage to text relationships though - no teenage pregnancy. Of course, there won't be any married pregnancy either but let's not look the gift horse in the mouth.
Now, if you'll excuse me I have to go back to ignoring my kids while surfing the web and reading all of your blogs...