Saturday, December 21, 2013

From our home to yours ...

Merry Christmas!  Mike, Cal, Cheryl and Kate

And a Happy New Year!  Lady

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wisdom vs. Energy

Cheryl and I have these friends.  They teach physics and engineering, respectively, at a local university.  They are married and in their 40s, much like us … except for one small detail:  our kids are in college, and their kids are in preschool.

Our friends are wise and loving parents … the kind of people who should be on the cover of Parenting Magazine every single month.  They are also, understandably, a little bit tired.

Cheryl and I will sometimes talk about how we decided to have children “early.”  It happened way back in the 1990s, and we really hadn’t offered up many prayers or sought much advice.  We just went to the movies one night and had this conversation:

MIKE:   Hey, would you like to start trying for a baby?
CHERYL:  Sure.

Wait a minute … let me rephrase that.

CHERYL (with excitement pulsing from every fiber of her being):  Sure!!!!!!!

And so we began trying, in our barely-mid-20s, and the next thing you know … there was Kate.  And a couple of years later, we tried some more … and there was Cal.

And Cheryl and I had this boundless energy to wake-up in the middle of the night and to battle illnesses and to play a dozen games of WIFFLE® ball in a single day.  But, safe to say, we lacked some wisdom along the way.

And so we glance over at our friends and think … we wish we’d been more patient as parents.  More kind.  More laid back.  Just like you.

And our friends look back at us—smiling their tired smiles—and wish that they had a little bit of that juice we all had 20 years ago. 

Cheryl and Kate

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


As kids, we were into clubs.

My neighbor Roy built a treehouse, so we had a treehouse club.  One day, the club had a competition to see who could hammer a nail into a block of wood with the least number of strokes.  I think I was pretty lousy at it … but I kept on swinging, because I wanted to be in the club.


In Pee Wee football, my friend Lance and I came up with the “Good Hands” Club.  Lance was a wide receiver, and I was a tight end.  Our team mainly ran the ball, though, so the Good Hands Club didn’t see much action.  Except for blocking.  We got really good at blocking.

Lance and I were optimists, though.  We knew it was just a matter of time before we got our hands on the ball, so we came up with a “good hands” play.  It went something like this … if Lance ever caught a pass, he would turn and lateral the ball to me.  If I ever caught a pass, I would turn and lateral the ball to him.

Genius, right?

Well, I did finally catch a pass in a game, right at the end of the first half.  I took a couple of steps and then lateraled/fumbled the ball back toward Lance.

At halftime, our coach looked over at me and said, “Nice job of trying to keep the ball alive out there after the clock had expired.”  I nodded my head, as if that had been my plan all along.  But it wasn’t my plan.  I was simply executing the Good Hands Club play.


Which brings me to my favorite club … maybe the best club in the history of clubs.

One fall in elementary school, some friends and I formed the B.A.D. Club.  (Yes, the “A” stood for Allen. You may guess at the other initials, if you wish.)

We spent most of our afternoons running around the Harding Music Building where D’s dad worked.  We yelled up and down the hallways, and associate professors eyed us suspiciously as we sped by their offices.  We slid down the stairs on flattened cardboard boxes (which sounds like a lot more fun than it actually was).  And eventually, we’d always end up in the recording studio, which was a big as a basketball court.  A stage stood at the far end of it, and at the entrance these words were etched into the wall:

Little by little
time goes by
short if you sing
long if you sigh.

(I quoted this to my wife recently.  She was unimpressed.)

One cool feature of the stage … it had doors at one end that allowed access to the underneath.  You could flip a light switch to illuminate the underworld, or you could just crawl around in the darkness – if you dared.  The lower-stage lands were filled with boxes, a thin layer of dust, and even a spider or two.

Around Christmastime, the B.A.D. Club began planning our first, and only, holiday party.  (By this time, the club had grown to include a few people whose last names did not start with “B” or “A” or “D”.)  Before the big day arrived, we decorated the under-stage with our very own Christmas tree, and then drew names for a surprise gift exchange.

I was completely stoked.

On the afternoon of the party, we handed out Christmas presents by the light of our 2 ½ foot plastic tree.  The flat, loosely-wrapped package given to me contained a BiC pen.  Not the greatest gift I’ve ever received, but a gold-letter day nonetheless.  Why?  Because, I was at a Christmas party … under a stage … with good friends.  What could be better than that?


These days, Cheryl and I still believe in the power of clubs.  We belong to a group that meets at Matt and Jill’s place on Tuesday nights.  We talk about shallow things.  We talk about deep things.  We’ve been known to crack open a Bible.  We’ve even had a few parties along the way.

Yes, even in these middle ages, we still need clubs to help us on the journey.