Monthly Archives: August 2015

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Clover LawnOver the years, I’ve probably spent well over $1000 on various types of grass seed, fertilizer, and new sprinklers in a feeble attempt to make my lawn look amazing.

Success has been, well, minimal.

My lawn looks pretty much like it did when I bought the place 14 years ago — some nice grass, lots of brown stuff, the occasional dandelion, that really tall mossy stuff, and bright green crab grass.

A mosaic, really. Nothing ever dies (even when I poison the crap out of it) and nothing ever spreads either. (The picture of my son practicing his shot is an accurate representation of my entire lawn.)

Not suprisingly, the lawn looks a lot like the lawn I had growing up, the one I was paid $5 each week to mow.

No green thumbs in this family, apparently.

At least we’re consistent.

Anyway, while doling out professional advice to a client, who Facebook friended me out of the blue and I then cyber-stalked online, I couldn’t help myself but to ask how she kept her lawn (that I’d seen in the background of nearly all of her Facebook photos) so green all the time.

Flattered and embarrassed, her one word response was…clover.

And that got me thinking…

The few really nice green patches on my lawn that always have the fat furry bumble bees hovering above are clover.

The stuff never turns brown and looks amazing just after I mow the little white flowers off…

Hmmmmm…a lawn full of clover…

Growing up in the land of cul-de-sacs, which doubled as hockey arenas and baseball stadiums, there was this one house just beyond the “outfield” wall, err, curb where we’d get hollered at anytime a home run sailed into their, ahem, grass.

For real, the guy that lived there was tending his lawn daily and, frankly, you could tell.

Perfectly straight mower lines in a criss-cross pattern and bright green all of the time…right up to the first snowfall.

But I also remember sitting on that curb with our hands in the grass searching for four leaf clovers with pretty decent success.

And we used to “catch” those furry bumble bees in our hands there too.

(One time we made the mistake of trying to catch yellow jackets in the same manner behind home plate. BIG mistake.)

Thirty years later, I know know that guy was a total fraud.

He was mowing his lawn every single day so as to not EVER let one of those little white flowers pop out.

His ENTIRE lawn was clover.

So I ordered sixty-something pounds of clover seed and it should arrive sometime this week.

Actually, I just checked the Fedex tracking and it’s apparently hanging out in Augusta, Montana right now…

So, being that I google almost everything, I decided to look Augusta, Montana up.

Population…284.

Um… how is it that a place with just 284 people has a FedEx ground “warehouse” or whatever they call the places where they scan all of their packages…

I mean, this is really the middle of nowhere.

For real, I Google earth’d it. Three bars, a diner, and some place called the “Bunk House”.

Their high school graduated nine last year.

NINE!?

Augusta Class of 2015

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Financing the Mortgage the Old Fashioned WaySo I convinced myself earlier last week that we could totally afford a 5000+ square foot palace with twice as many bathrooms as it does bedrooms.

And, as factual as it is that I can afford such a place, it’ll never happen.

Over the weekend, I came across a real life reinforcement as to why I’d never do such a thing.

A parent of one of my son’s former classmates (in daycare) was told this week that her position would be “eliminated” next month. Sort of a reverse two week notice, of sorts.

We’re not “tight” enough for me to know if she’s the main bread winner in their household but based on the fact that they’re had a tag sale, like, right now *and* put their house on the market already kinda of tells the story on it’s own.

In some ways, I’m envious of the reality that she’s been applying for jobs (yes, already — clearly they move quickly on things) all over the country, totally committed and prepared to leave this area entirely.

I mean, I’m not entirely sure how or why I ended up where I did, geographically, and though it’s certainly near the the top of my list for places I’d like to live, well, it’s not the top spot.

Either way, I’d never want to put my whole family in a situation where we’d have to pick up and turn our lives upside down on essentially zero notice.

So, while I feel like we’re living paycheck-to-paycheck as it is now, should me or my wife suddenly find ourselves without income, you know what?

We’d be okay thanks to our sub $500 monthly mortgage bill.

Guess we won’t be moving to Southern Ontario, Wisconsin, or Ohio anytime soon…

Drat.

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Family RocksSo, while my kids drive me absolutely crazy more frequently than not — and one is still “new” as he’s less than a year old — I really enjoy having kids.

Not really being a sociable person — in a seemingly “forced” social scene sense, anyway — for most of my 20’s, I couldn’t wait until I was in my 30’s and the mere thought of “going out” on a Friday night would be, well, unusual.

I never really did go “out”. And, by my 30’s, it was totally acceptable socially.

Thankfully, I also got married when I was 30 making that whole transition into being a “responsible adult” that much more real.

Took seemingly forever to have kids thanks to that taboo M-word (miscarriage) but eventually we ended up with two healthy kids and one more that’s still a work in progress.

I kid — The deformed third one will be fine.

But now as I approach my 40’s, I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to my 30’s.

I want another kid.

Perhaps it’s the validation I feel as a parent, regarding my oldest, but even without that whole thing, I’m pretty confident that my wife and I make pretty good parents.

I know, I know, all parents think that…

But they’re mostly wrong. ;0)

Anyway, I’m 39 and my wife is 42 and we’re, well, we’re done with making our own kids but I certainly don’t feel DONE done, you know?.

Sure, I could trade my wife in for a younger model and start over but that would undoubtedly just mess up the great start I have with the three kids that I already have.

Besides, my wife is a pretty good teammate in all of this parenting stuff (she’s the boss, actually) so that leaves us, really, with only a single option…adoption.

My wife, originally, wasn’t really on board with the thought, you know, with it not really being “hers”.

Makes sense, I totally get it, and probably a more common reaction for women that have already had children of their own.

That never really mattered to me — at least I don’t think it does. I mean, physically, I don’t see very much of myself in my kids but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

Not the Father

Just last night I joked with my wife that we should see if we can get on a Maury Povich episode to, you know, see if I *am* the father.

It’s probably a guy thing where we just don’t have that “magic” connection or something. Who knows…

So, even before we had our third (but after a few more of those demoralizing m-words), I’d already starting poking into the realm of adoption and, while kind of turned off by how difficult it can be, I never really abandoned the idea either.

In my head, where I’m already living in that $750k home, I’d like to adopt a healthy male toddler from Haiti or Jamaica and make them my fourth son.

My reasoning?

Well, most adoptive parents much prefer newborns and infants so that they can, you know, bond from as close to day 1 as possible. I’ve done that already and wouldn’t want to rob a couple unable to have children of their own of that opportunity.

Older children are, technically, easier to adopt for the same reason — people like new things.

I have no issue with a 2 to 4 year old. Possibly old enough to remember some of their origins (which I do think is important) but young enough for our parenting style to take effect and really make them feel like they’ve always been part of our family.

I’m leaning towards a little boy simply because it’s what we know. We’ve got three boys and really good grasp on how to raise a boy. Why rock the boat?

As for the international aspect, well, I’ll confess… it’s just my preference.

Ideally, I’d love to adopt someone from the other side of the planet but the process is really, really, really difficult in so many ways.

Sorry, while adopting a child from Zimbabwe would be so awesome, I can’t imagine having to reside there for months prior to an adoption taking place (which is often a requirement).

It’s too far away, too different of a culture, too different of, well, everything. I have a hard time getting around in Quebec City and, if backed against a wall, I speak enough French to get by and understand nearly all of it…but I’m still totally out of my element.

Going to the other side of the planet where I don’t know a word, well, I guess, I’d just never really be sure if what I was agreeing to do was actually what I was agreeing to do, you know, lost in translation?

Haiti and Jamaica aren’t that far away — though inconvenient, yes, neither is further than a couple of plane flights away and English is abundant.

Further, originally being from Canada, I’ve met a number of both Haitians and Jamaicans up North and they’re all pretty awesome.

I’d assume the Haiti/Canada connection has something to do with the French language and the Jamaica/Canada connection is just because both countries are awesome.

Either way, it’s something that our now “American” family would share in common even if we all look different…or mostly look like Mom.

And, lastly, I’d like them to be healthy.

Kids are a lot of work all on their own. Having four of them is four times the work. Selfishly, a special needs addition would be too much for our family to bear.

All of this said, while we’ve talked about it, we haven’t really pursued anything…and unless we really get on board and actually start pushing the process along, it’s likely to remain as just a thought in my head…

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Lawn ChairYouth sports are funny. On the sidelines, as parents, in our cheap folding chairs, we’re all pretty much equal.

Sure, there’s some judging going on based on the vehicles we drive up in but, for the most part, even a relatively new Nissan runs around $40k.

A hefty price tag for, well, a less than luxurious ride.

It’s once the Facebook connections start to take hold and the inconsequential birthday invitations start coming in that you get a glimpse that some of these folks are, well, “living the life”.

You know, tennis court in the back yard, kitchen that could easily seat 30 people, and multiple staircases…to their 3rd floor library.

In fact, lately, while it’s hardly true, it still feels like we’re the only ones who lack these things…

A classic “not” keeping up with the Jones’ type of deal.

One kid, whose parents I went to high school with, lives in a $6 million dollar home. I can’t even imagine.

Anyway, while driving around aimlessly last week with the kids killing time until swimming lessons started, I stumbled into a neighborhood of homes that, when I’m not dreaming of living in a 5000 square foot Victorian home from the 1800’s full of secret passages, was full of McMansion style houses that I picture myself in when I’m in my 40’s and raising my kids.

Newsflash… that’s just a year away. Ack!

Yeah, I could live here.So I scoped out a couple of them on local real estate sites to get a glimpse of what the interiors look like and, yep, as expected, they’re all really nice. Duh.

Price tags hover around $650k.

No, not 6 million dollar homes but, really, who needs a full blown movie theatre or bowling lanes in their house? Not me.

Again, I can’t imagine.

A $650k mortagage, excluding taxes and insurance (like my current mortgage) would run around $3200 per month.

Yeah, I can’t swing that.

But… if I were to sell my current house for $200k (maybe a stretch, maybe not) and come out with $130k (subtracting out the outstanding mortgages) and apply that as a downpayment, well, the monthly mortgage payment would then drop to under $2500.

Considering I’ve been paying that amount on a CAR PAYMENT — alongside two mortgage payments — with relative ease, well, now things are becoming a little bit clearer…

Financially, we could totally afford to move to a new home that’s double (or even triple) the size of our current one.

In fact, once we’re done paying daycare bills, gasp, even a $3200 per month mortgage payment would be totally do-able.

Am I really convincing myself that I should/could trade up from my first home (that I paid $141k for) all the way up to a $750k+ home?

Yeah, kinda.

I mean, I wouldn’t need to build that 3-car garage anymore cause, well, the new house would already have a 4-car one.

And even though we already have enough room in our house for each kid to have their own room…if we moved, they could each have their own bathroom (and staircase too)!

All kidding aside, though…

It’s the brief moments of weakness like this that I feel I do need to “keep up”.

Thankfully, reality always sets in (along with my own incredibly high-end personal “vision” of myself) pretty quickly, and I’m happy with where I am.

I know I could have a $750k house if I wanted to…

Perhaps it’s not the wisest financial move (not investing in real estate in a upward fashion) but I can’t say I’ve had a sleepless night over money for over a decade now.

It’s pretty comforting knowing that I “could” pay off my mortgage pretty much anytime I’d like.

Moreso than the comfort a $750k house could give me.

Most of the time, anyway!

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Swagger WagonAhhhh…that awkward period when you’re paying off a loan and you either go over by a few cents by paying that final payment before the final due date or come up short by a few cents cause the lender tacked on a few more finance charges right at the end…

Daily interest charges and waiting for payments to clear always gets tricky.

I think it was when I paid off the BMW, my monthly statement provided a “Payoff Amount” and as I was nearing the end, I sent them that exact amount.

Turns out, since I paid it when I received the bill and NOT when the payment was due, I’d overpaid by a few dollars.

No joke, it took over two months for them to refund me my over payment and send the title too.

My assumption is that before they give up the title, the books need to line up…and they didn’t.

Of course, this was all way before bank websites were as e-friendly as they are now.

And, as luck would have it, my auto loan and my checking account are both with Bank of America.

The site claims that I can make same day payments but anytime I do that, it’s far from “instant” and still takes a day or two to show up as having actually happened on both sides.

Usually they take my money out of checking first…and then a day later apply it as a payment to the loan.

Same day. Yeah, right…

Probably some sort of federal banking oversight loophole that allows that kind of crookery.

Anyway, the remaining balance on the loan, as of today, is $2001.03 and that falls within my red zone.

It was payday today so I’m paying it off in full — using the currently listed “pay off amount” of $2001.35 (an extra 33 cents) and “borrowing” from my savings to cover any potential shortfall before I’m paid again.

BoA_Auto_Loan

Anyone want to be that then this all clears, though I paid within the listed “payoff good through” date window, that I’ll still owe them a dime or so?

History repeating… but, ahhhhhh, it feels good to own all of my cars again…

Too bad I’m on the verge of purchasing another one

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Trying Out for the Mite TeamDuncan, my oldest, will be trying out for a travel hockey team this season at the Mite level.

There will be two teams, one A team for the best players and a lower B team as well.

In the case a player doesn’t “make” either team during the tryout process, they’re sent back to a development team where they never play any actual games or wear real uniforms.

That’s the level he “played” in last season and the season prior.

Mite teams are generally made up of 7 and 8 year olds so with Duncan being just 6 years old, it might be a stretch for him to make the cut.

Tryouts consist of skill evaluation in the areas of skating, passing and receiving, stick handling, shooting, play making, and stamina.

And then they’re also evaluated in scrimmages to determine positional play and competitiveness.

I’ve been trying to prepare him for the past few weeks — he’s never had to knowingly “prove” himself before and being so young, it’s one of those things where if he’s in the right frame of mind, he’ll do fine but if he’s not feeling it that day, he’ll look like, well, someone who has no business trying out in the first place.

Not much middle ground, really.

It just so happened that this past week at swimming lessons that his instructor didn’t get into the pool with them and instead stood at the edge with a clipboard in hand.

Amazed, Duncan very clearly knew *exactly* what was happening — he was being tested on his ability.

Henrik, my middle son, well, he had a case of the giggles and likely blew any opportunity to move up a level… (update — both boys moved up a level)

Afterwards, I told him that what he’d just done in the pool was just like a tryout and I think it set him more at ease.

Funny story, though totally unrelated, about “fear” when it comes to the unknown.

When I was 9 years old, I made a trip to the emergency room (that resulted in a two week hospital stay) and every time the doctors or nurses mentioned a getting a “stretcher”, I pictured in my head some sort of medieval torture device that I’d be strapped to and, well, stretched…

If someone would have just said, “Kid, it’s a cot on wheels…”, I’d have been a lot more relaxed.

So, anyway, I think he’s relieved that he now knows what a tryout is and I’m also relieved that he’ll know kind of what to expect when the day comes.

Mite TryoutsI’m not at all worried about his skating. He’s a little slow in my opinion but still a strong skater and able to stop in either direction meaning he doesn’t have a preferred side.

His passing is better than his receiving but I think that’s par for the course at this age. I mean, it’s a pretty rare occurrence to receive at clean pass at this age anyway.

His stick-handling isn’t elite but he can deke around people and still keep the puck under control.

Stick handling is one of those things, though, that once you start to lose control of the puck, things can fall apart in a hurry.

I’m hoping that he finds a good rhythm on whatever sort of drill they’ll use to evaluate this skill.

His shooting is, well, terrible and far and away is biggest weakness.

Due largely in part to the fact that he’s barely ever had to play in a game with a goalie and it was rarely practiced on the development team.

We’ve been working on it at home lately but it’s an uphill battle. Strength is lacking and I’m certainly not going to have my 6-year old pumping iron.

Shooting Practice

His playmaking, from what I’ve seen in the Spring league games he played with (way) older children, is top notch. He knows where to be and how to get open.

Doesn’t so much matter when the kids refuse to pass (a common problem for most sports at this age) but he does have “hockey sense” and I’m thankful for that since it’s something you can’t teach.

Either you get it or you don’t.

Stamina concerns me a little. Often times, during the final few minutes of practice, he slows down. A lot.

All of the kids do but he goes so far as to start slumping his shoulders and looking up at the ceiling. I mean, his play really drops off.

And that plays into his competitiveness as well.

While he is very competitive (with the vocabulary to back it up) and wants to win all of the time, when he doesn’t get his way, or his team falls far behind, or he gets stopped repeatedly, or no one ever passes to him when he’s wide open, he’ll sometimes give up opting to glide around watching mostly.

Aggression takes a dive.

Effort is minimal.

And, frustratingly, that’s also something that can’t be taught.

He knows what to do and where to be…just doesn’t have the fire to actually do it sometimes and that will likely be the difference between making the team and not.

Tryouts start September 2.

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Coach McLellanOver the weekend I learned of the passing of my high school track coach.

He was 77 years old and in a nursing facility due to Alzheimer’s.

I call him my track coach but he was better known in Connecticut as a legendary football coach as well as “the” gym teacher at my hometown’s high school.

He started at the school in the early 1960’s.

Now, by the time I was in high school, in the 1990’s, he was like something you’d only seen in nostalgic “good old days” movies.

Big chested, big square teeth, brush cut, whistle around the neck, clipboard in hand, and a booming voice that wasn’t overly loud but came through clearly as a growl more often than not.

He was the epitome of the classic high school football coach that doubled as the gym teacher

No simple task for an older John Wayne type to be surrounded by a bunch of Gen-X’ers slipping into the grunge era — it must have been confusing to him — but, man, did he ever command respect.

And he got it too.

He wasn’t your friend, he was your coach — whether you were on one of his teams or not.

I remember running track when all of the other teams had started wearing long mesh basketball style shorts and leaving their over-sized singlets untucked.

We’d step off the bus with our short shorts and singlets tucked in like we were competing in the 1948 Olympic Games.

One classmate of mine, upon hearing of his death, mentioned that he’d wanted to get an earring in high school really badly, had his parents approval and everything, but refrained for fear that Coach would rip it out and was, now 25 years later, happy that he’d made the decision not to get one.

I doubt Coach would have ever actually said something like that out loud but I 100% believe that that’s the way he thought.

Glenn McLellanOld school.

For real, he was straight out of the 1950’s…in 1991.

Thinking back, I can only think of one guy in our high school that made the mistake of getting an earring. I can think of around 30 that got one once they were out of high school and out of Coach’s view.

The man clearly had an impact.

So, back in February, a former student of his (way older than I) posted on Facebook that she was doing some sort of volunteer work with comfort/therapy dogs in South Carolina and she’d walked into a room and saw a familiar face — Coach McLellan.

She posted a picture of Coach, still looking like a big strong gym teacher, and mentioned that Coach was suffering from Alzheimer’s related dementia and that his wife thought it was wonderful to see him light up reliving the “old” days — all but ignoring the dog in the room.

With that, I contacted my fellow alum for some contact details and wrote Coach a letter…the old school way…on paper the very same day.

I’m glad I did.

Here it is…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – |
Hi Coach!
My name is ##### ###### and I went to AHS from the Fall of 1990 through the Spring of 1994.

I was mostly a rec-level athlete growing up so by the time I was in high school, and in your gym class, my athletic endeavors were pretty much coming to a close.

As such, my moderate athletic abilities were pretty much unknown to everyone — myself included.

In Grade 9, I had gym class during seventh period — at the very end of the school day. The group in our class was an unsual mixture with a handful of kids from all four grades — something that didn’t usually occur for gym or any class, really.

Not sure if it was a scheduling mix-up or what — it was a weird situation but for a ninth grader coming in, it was pretty intimidating — especially for someone that wasn’t considered extraordinarily athletic.

One of my first memories of that gym class was when you paired us up in twos for two-on-two basketball.

Basketball was never a strength for me and I think that was obvious to you. You paired me up with DS (name removed but he went on to became a professional athlete).

Imagine that — a freshman paired up with a senior who just so happened to be the star of the soccer and basketball teams…and pretty much the most elite athlete to ever attend the school. Crazy.

As a result, I thought it was pretty neat that he even knew my name. And I’ve got to admit that his abilities on the court actually kinda made me look good too.

I also remember that when the floor hockey session eventually came around in gym, I was somehow forced to do recreational dance with B.T. (the female gym teacher) instead.

In fact, during my four years in high school — I never once got to play floor hockey in the gym; the one activity I knew I’d excel at.

But my fondest memory came in the Spring of my freshman year.

My parents had always said things like “Make the most of the opportunities presented to you” but I’d never really been able to apply that to anything in my life at that point.

It was the day we had to run the mile down on the track for the Presidential Physical Fitness Test.

I’d always been “okay” at most of the tests — pull-ups were always very easy for me.

Running distance though, not so much.

So you had our whole class walk down to the track and set us off running.

Most of the girls walked.

The smokers walked slower.

I started off trying to stick with the “real” athletes like Larry, Ken, Jimmy and John (all jocks in the stereotypical sense) and was doing a pretty good job sticking with them.

Then I started to pull away from them.

And then I lapped them.

I remember thinking in my head as I began the fourth lap, “What on earth is happening?”

Seriously, it was like no one else was even trying…except they were.

The guy in the converse high-tops and argyle socks that couldn’t shoot a basket, was horrible at volleyball, and mediocre at soccer, should not have been leading the field.

By OVER a lap!

I remember crossing the finish line winded and you coming right over with the watch in your hand and a grin on your face and saying, “Brainy… you’re on my track team now.”

Perhaps it was my very first runner’s “high” but I really thought you were kidding.

That is, until we went back up to the school and you showed me where the track locker room (which I’d always thought was just for football) was.

Not even taking off my gym clothes, I went to the pay phone to call my dad — “I’d need to be picked up later. I’m joining the track team!

Now, it was kinda awkward to be the new guy on a team with so many upperclassmen.

And being the new guy who didn’t appear to have much athletic ability made it even more unnerving for me. And joining the team mid-season? Well, that was unheard of. And it certainly didn’t help that I was a little bit shy too…

But you took me into that locker room, introduced me to everyone and pretty much set my mind at ease.

Actually, I was scared shitless and felt really, really, out of place. I didn’t feel I’d truly earned the full backing of Coach McLellan, the legendary High School football coach.

But you did back me. 100%.

Even though you didn’t coach the distance runners directly, you made sure I was taken care of — and I can’t thank you enough for that.

That weekend, I went out with my dad and we bought some running shoes — really ugly Asics with horrible green and highlighter yellow trim that totally clashed with our uniforms.

Three school days later, I was on a bus to Stafford or Tolland or somesuch other outpost in Connecticut for a track meet and running the very first event of the meet and as the only runner from our school.

I finished “in the points” and, being my first real race, it was a personal best.

On the bus ride home, I sat with Joe Gillis — nicest guy around — and I remember thinking… I’d have been home watching tv with parents right now… but instead I’m a valued member of the track team and sitting with a popular senior on the bus talking about how we did in our events.

For a ninth grader, that’s a big deal.

So as the weeks passed, I got better and better, and started doing more of the distance events — all of them actually — and by the end of the season, the 5000-meter was “my” event and I was finishing first with consistency and qualified for the State Open.

Somehow, a couple of freshman, Jeff and I, had managed to reel in and surpass every other distance runner on the team. It was really neat to have guys who, weeks prior, wouldn’t even so much as look at me in the hallway at school, darting back and fourth across the football field cheering me on by name for both straightaways.

While I was pretty much a non-factor at States… as a team, we won the State Title in 1991. What an awesome bus right home that was from East Hartford…

Now, still not really feeling comfortable with my place on the team, I skipped the team banquet that year.

Man, you got in my face about that at my next gym class, called me into your office down in the locker room, gave me my JV letter, shook my hand, smiled, and told me not to skip another one in an almost silent tone that only an intimidating football coach could.

The following fall, instead of hanging out at home, I joined the cross country team.

And then I did track again. And then cross country. And then track again and so on wracking up six varsity letters and adding another State Championship in 1994 — when I was a factor.

Not to bad for the seemingly unathletic kid that played tuba in the band and rode the “loser cruiser” to school each and every day.

Oh, and for the record, I never skipped another team banquet.

Now, my parents were never really athletic. I’m not sure there’s an athletic bone in my Mom’s body. My dad was more of a musician who ending up working for one of the insurance companies. But what man doesn’t want to be good at sports?

My dad died back in 2010 but my fondest memories of him are how he’d show up at every single track meet — you know where we had crowds that could be counted on a single hand — to watch his son outrun everybody.

He was beaming with pride sitting on those bleachers next to the tower hearing all of the guys cheer me on as I boringly ran in a big circle twelve and a half times, then four times, and then, later, another eight times.

I can still picture the look on his face saying, “Yep, that’s my kid.”

I went two seasons without losing a single race at home. I think the only time I wasn’t the first across the line was at one of the invitationals we went to. Talk about a personal confidence booster.

And that’s 100% on you, Coach.

I sometimes wonder if teachers even know when they’re “making” one of those moments for their students.

Sure, I may have drawn attention to myself on my own that day in gym but you took it upon yourself to make it more — and gave me the confident backing to really apply myself.

Further, after you’d passed the coaching reins on to Kurt — he pushed the same type of confidence on entering me in invitational meets with times well beyond what I’d ever done.

4:18 mile? Me? I can’t do that.

I did it.

Confidence is a crazy thing.

My life would have been *so* much different had I not gotten involved with that track team. Err, had you not forced me to get involved with that track team.

No way would I have been “rounded” enough to somehow find myself in the National Honor Society. No way would I have ever considered myself athletic scholarship material. No way would I have even had a girlfriend in high school.

It’s amazing, just a few months ago the Class of ’94 had our 20th reunion.

At heart, I still kinda of define my high school self as the dorky tuba player in the band that didn’t talk much… But the reality is that most people remembered me as a really fast runner. That’s a pretty cool high school legacy for someone like me. Something I’m really proud of even if I still find it difficult to believe.

Thank you for noticing and forcing me to pursue something that I was naturally good at. Something that I didn’t even know I could do and something that, had you not “put” me on the track team that day, something that I never in a million years would have pursued on my own.

You gave me my first opportunity — my first big break — and I certainly rode it as far as I could. And I’ll tell you, I’ve taken advantage of every other opportunity that first once opened me up to.

Thanks so much Coach!

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SunSo, it’s a super hot and humid summer day and you decide to take the kids to the local splash pad to cool off and play in the water a bit.

For the older set, a splash pad is essentially a “fountain” that kids can play in — water shooting up out of the ground in different fun patterns.

Lot of municipalities have them now — my town has three of them because they’re relatively inexpensive to build and operate and, unlike public pools, there’s essentially ZERO risk of drowning.

It’s the modern version of “running through the sprinkler.”

On the hottest days of the summer, they’re almost always full of young children splashing away, surrounded by watchful parents just waiting for their own child to take a tumble and scrape their knees.

Here’s a photo to give you a better idea…

Spash Pad

Oh, did you notice something?

Something very much out of place?

What is it that the long haired gentleman, surrounded by young children, has on his waistband?

Yep, that’s EXACTLY what you think it is…

Full disclosure, I didn’t take this picture. One of my friends from university took the photo while she was at the splash pad with her kids.

But her reaction was the same as mine would have been…

“C’mon kids, we’re leaving…now.

Can You Dig It?

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