Saturday, October 29, 2016

Little hands, big help

Today is my favorite day of the year. The day I get to rake up all the leaves in my yard and then not be able to walk for two days because I wrecked my back. Thanks to the help of my two little helpers, I am not feeling any back pain this time around. 

This is one of the advantages of being a parent that kind of sneaks up on you. It seems like only a few months ago that my girls being in the yard while I'm trying to do yard work meant my progress was slowed down. Now that they're a little older, they're actually able to help...and be productive. I think they ended up raking about a third of the yard by themselves. 

I am proud of them for their hard work and excited that their added efforts seemed to make the difference between me throwing out my back or not. I suppose it is also in part to the fact that half the leaves are still on the trees so I didn't have as much to do this go around. I was forced to do it today because it's apparently the last day the local refuse drop-off is open for the season. Since I hate bagging leaves, I made sure to do what I could today. 

I was particularly impressed with my five year old's efforts today. She is really getting the hang of raking and she only "accidentally fell" into the piles of leaves 35-40 times. My older daughter was pretty good at keeping them on track and making sure they were making nice piles. I'm hoping this eagerness to help dad out with the yard work carries over to shoveling when the snow starts flying. 

I'll have to find something to make shoveling snow fun for them. Their favorite part about raking leaves is packing them down in the back of my truck. In their eyes, it ranks right up there with one of those ball pits the kids love to swim around in. 

Tomorrow will be the day I really find out if my back survived the leaves of 2016. No matter what the outcome, I had fun working with my girls today and they seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. I'm looking forward to being able to do more outdoor activities like this with them in the future. It's nice that I don't have to feel like I'm ignoring my kids while doing the required yard work on the weekends. Until next time....

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Grizzly Adams Family

Being a dad is a lot like being a grizzly bear. The biggest similarity of course is how we like to eat and sleep. Although I thoroughly enjoy talking about eating and sleeping, it's not the primary focus I had for this post. I wanted to talk about how most dads are part loving, cuddly teddy bear and part ferocious beast. 

My morning started out with my youngest daughter having a minor tantrum because the the nose was falling off her Olaf hat. You wouldn't think that was a big deal, but apparently it's quite a catastrophe to a five year old. I managed to find her a different hat to wear, but only after promising I would fix her Olaf hat today so she could wear it tomorrow. 

Part of my teddy bear side involves making sure my girls are taken care of. Fortunately for my daughter, I mom taught me how to sew. I had her hat patched up in short order over my lunch break today ad she was all smiles and giggle when she got home and saw it repaired. I got a big old hug from her as I walked in the door. 

After work, my older daughter decided she wanted her hair braided. She wanted it braided before bed so that she  could let it down tomorrow for school and have extra wavy hair. Personally, I'm impressed that she correctly realized the affect it would have on her hair. I have mentioned this before, but in case you missed it, I am the go-to hair braider in our house. It started out because I can get ready in the morning in about three minutes and therefore have more time to help get the girls ready for their day. 

Initially, I just did it and hoped for the best. I had nothing to lose since nobody would criticize me for having less than mediocre hair braiding abilities. Now after braiding hair a few hundred times, I'm actually getting fairly good at it. 

Being a a big old teddy bear doesn't mean that the natural protective grizzly isn't still inside. That's the fun part of being a dad to two girls. I get to teach them how to be ferocious when needed as well. I know I won't always be around to protect my girls myself, so I take every opportunity I can to teach them to take care of themselves in that respect. 

Teaching my girls (wife included) to fight has been beneficial on a few fronts. My wife enjoys the exercise...or rather enjoys that it's one way to actually get me to exercise. (She probably doesn't appreciate that we don't spar too often though.) My older daughter got through a hitting phase by redirecting that energy to our own "sparring" sessions. We now use also boxing and wrestling as a way to burn off a little extra energy in the evenings when they're rowdy and/or tempers are running a little hot. 

I still haven't convinced my wife to start learning a few knife fighting techniques. I guess it's all a work in progress. I even have appropriately sized knives for each of us to use. According to my wife though, that's not enough of a reason to start teaching them to fight with knives. That's ok though, I'm always thinking of new reasons. 

Well, it's time for this grizzly to go start a 7-8 hour hibernation cycle. It would be nice to learn how to do one of those winter-long hibernations. Until I figure that out though, I'll have to settle for the shorter nightly sleep cycles. Until next time....

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fruitcake and Unicorns

I decided that since Halloween is already less than a week away, I should probably get started on my Christmas list. My wife says I'm really hard to shop for so I hope she reads this post. Personally, I don't think I'm all that hard to shop for, but I always try to be helpful. 

This may come as a shock to you considering my love for food, but I have never had a fruitcake. In fact, I don't recall ever seeing a fruitcake in person. For years I just assumed that fruitcakes were a mythical food talked about by parents as a veiled threat of what they'd have to eat if they misbehaved. After many years of never having seen or eaten a fruitcake, I am now curious. 

Because of this, I am asking for a fruitcake for Christmas. I'm not sure if it's something my wife would be willing to get for me so I am turning to my loyal readers for assistance....both of you. If I'm going to to get my hands on some fruitcake, I want to do it right. (Assuming that's possible when it comes to fruitcake.) 

I'm thinking the easiest plan would be if one of you just invited me over for a big holiday feast followed by fruitcake for dessert. In the off chance that none of you are willing to do that, I could use some less intrusive assistance. Since I've only heard the horror stories about fruitcake, I don't really know where to begin. 

Can you actually buy a fruitcake in the store or is it something Grandma needs to make? (Yes, I realize I can Google an answer to that, but where's the fun in that?) Is there a best flavor to go with...or one to avoid? Maybe they're all the same?? I have no idea. That's why I'm turning to you wonderful folks. 

Let me know any suggestions, recommendations and/or warnings you may have when it comes to fruitcake. If they are truly just a myth, then I am willing to accept a unicorn for Christmas instead. My girls would probably prefer having a unicorn around anyway. Then again, knowing my luck, unicorns probably eat only fruitcake and then I'd be back in the same boat trying to track down fruitcake. Until next time....

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The kid cycle

I'm not sure if it's coincidence or my super-human parenting skills, but I completely called this evening's meltdown for one of my kids. It's reminiscent of my days working outdoors in the tree industry. When you spend that much time outside, you can learn to feel the pressure changing as a storm approaches and you can almost smell the moisture in the air as it gets close. This ability is very similar to what a parent learns about their kids. 

It doesn't take much to identify the signs warning of an impending meltdown of one of your kids. Maybe it's the attitude changing or possibly the backtalk starting to emerge. Whatever the particular signs may be for your own children - you learn them pretty quickly. I must be so good at parenting now that I can identify these early warning signs subconsciously. The reason I say that is because my daughters were having an amazing morning. They were getting along with each other, having fun and following my direction. I then jokingly posted the following image on Instagram:

Even after I posted this late this afternoon, we continued to enjoy a wonderful evening. We took a family walk through Flandrau State Park here in town followed by a family dinner outing at the Green Mill restaurant. Things went splendidly until 30 seconds before bedtime. I guess technically it was right at bedtime because that's what set off one of my daughters. 

I won't get into all the details, but I can tell you it followed the typical kid cycle. She was happy. She got angry. They she was sorry. (As in "felt bad" - not the punishment fit the crime kind of sorry.) After a "certain amount of time," she was almost back to the happy phase and went to bed. I'm pretty sure she fell asleep about 30 seconds after her head hit the pillow. 

After 7+ years of being a parent, I think I am finally starting to understand this "kid cycle" as I call it. Because I'm a nerd, I made the fun image at the top of this post to help me remember it for next time. It's a learning cycle for both my kids and myself. Being able to identify the repeating cycle goes a long way in acting more rationally as you progress through the stages of the kid cycle. 

The particular daughter who had her meltdown tonight is very much like me. She bottles up her stresses and frustrations until they reach the max and then she snaps. I am unfortunately the same when it comes to reacting to her meltdowns (that have suddenly become more regular). We both go from happy to frustrated/angry in the blink of an eye. In a matter of minutes, she is saying and doing mean things and I am jumping right to taking away tv privileges, toys, books, you name it. We just fuel each others' fires. 

This is probably more my fault than hers since I am the adult. I may like to act like a kid half the time, but when my kids need a parent to be a parent - it's not the time for me to fail them. Let's just say it's a work in progress for all of us. Now that our kids are getting older (and smarter), it's going to take more effort as we work through the kid cycle. I'm really banking on my pretty picture to do the trick. If not that, at least I have my wife here to keep me on track. The kid cycle picture might actually be beneficial for my girls as well. They are both very visual and being able to track where they are on a chart could come in handy. On that note, I am off to bed. Until next time....

Friday, October 21, 2016

Bring in the clowns

If there's one thing we can all agree on during election season, it's the fact that it's fun to watch. Once you get beyond the whole "our country is going down the toilet" concern, you can really have a lot of fun watching the the whole election process. You've probably heard the term "media circus" before and I am fairly certain whoever came up with that term was just being polite and not wanting to call them the clowns that they really are. The problem is, they're not the only clowns involved. 

Looking big picture, I wouldn't blame the rest of the world for thinking our country as a whole is just a big American made car filled with a seemingly endless supply of clowns emerging. It's not just the election. The whole idea of what's right and wrong has been flipped upside down. People are standing up for criminal thugs, hunting our cops and praising unpatriotic pieces of garbage who kneel during the national anthem and stomp on our flag. Ok, those things are far from laughable and "clown" isn't an appropriate term for them. Since this is a family blog, I'll just call them fools. That's mostly because I have Mr. T. in my head saying "I pity the fool..." 

The politicians are the clowns in the limelight right now. It takes a lot of skill to keep up the clowning around on the campaign trail. Most (normal) people don't have the stamina to maintain a story after it has been blasted apart by fact and/or common sense. It also takes an extraordinary amount of "hamming it up" abilities to talk for such extended periods of time while avoiding an answer to a direct question. 

The talking heads on tv seem to be their biggest fans and worst enemies at the same time. I think it's fitting since the media has some world class clowns in their ranks. In fact, I think some of the best and brightest clowns out there work for the media. (For the record, "best and brightest" refers only to their clowning abilities and nothing to do with their intelligence.)  Unfortunately, these clowns have the best platform and the technological resources to put their own act in the spotlight. 

I'm doing my best to try and laugh at it all. We do have Halloween just around the corner so I will have the opportunity to see all the clowns in training. Then again, with the creepy clown sightings that are popping up all around the globe, there probably won't be too many clown costumes this year for Halloween. I bet there will be plenty of Trump and Clinton costumes though. 

Personally, I prefer a jester to a clown. Jester's are smarter, better looking and do a better job of making people laugh. That's probably why so many people have a phobia about clowns, but nobody seems to have an issue with a jester. Certainly not your average jester anyway. Until next time....

Me when I'm not blogging.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Life lessons from a parenting pro

There are more parenting blogs on the internet than you can shake a stick at. They are filled with an endless supply of tips, tricks and stories to help guide you through your own parenting journey. The problem I have found is that they all seem to miss one vitally important aspect of parenting. I am concerned that this is not going to get better as the new generation of parents roll off the line. 

I agree that dealing with discipline issues, caring for sick kids, time management and being a loving parent are important - and most blogs do a good job of covering those aspects. The concern I have is about the new generation of parents I will refer to as the Pokemon Go kids. 

Distractions like Pokemon Go have taken the focus off the greatest parenting guide known to man - Star Wars. What we are ending up with is a generation of parents running around with their noses stuck in their smart phones looking for Pokemon hiding in the neighbor's yard. Although I feel the process of natural selection will limit this due to people walking into traffic while looking for Pokemon, it's still an issue I feel compelled to address. 

Many of you probably aren't aware of this, but the full name for Star Wars is actually "Star Wars: The Ultimate Guide to Successful Parenting." (Note: This is just as true as the fact that I'm a "parenting pro.") Since I'm sure this is news to most of you, please allow me to further explain this.

Star Wars teaches a number of valuable life lessons. If you were to watch each installment 20-30 times like I have, you would see it as clearly as I do. 

I Am Your Father
It should go without saying, but your kids need to know you're their father. Luke struggled with this for quite some time during the original Star Wars movies. My kids are fully aware of the fact that I am their father, but I like to remind them every chance I get. The best way I have found to remind them is by speaking through a box fan and telling saying "Girls, I am your father" in my best Dark Vader voice. They usually respond with "Oh Dad - We know that." That is proof that it works.

Good & Evil
The greatest lesson Star Wars teaches is the constant battle between good and evil. Life is filled with both and they're not always easy to identify. The quick and easy path (like the Dark Side) is appealing, but doesn't usually generate the desired end result. After multiple episodes of Star Wars, your children will have a better understanding of the difference between good and evil and the result of choosing one over the other. When my kids are overtired and crabby at the end of a long day, we refer to them as having crossed over to the dark side. I should point out that my wife even uses this phrase. This is amazing considering she has never seen Star Wars. I will take that as a personal win that the Force is so strong in me that it has allowed my wife to have a basic understanding of the dark and light sides of Star Wars. That or I talk about Star Wars too much.

Don't Give Up
If ever there was a reason to give up, the Rebel Alliance had it in Star Wars. They were always grossly outnumbered and facing technology far beyond their own resources. The lesson learned here is that they ever give up and they almost always succeeded. You could say they may not have won every battle, but they won the war. A single proton torpedo against the Death Star is exactly the same thing as learning to ride a bike or do a cartwheel. Well, maybe not, but if you drone on and on about Star Wars while your kids are doing something they are scared about and/or feel is impossible, they will get so confused that they do it anyway...and succeed.

Be Good To Others
It really should be second nature to be good to others, but society has shown us that it is not easily understood by many. You never know when that stranger you interact with in public will suddenly not be a stranger. There are a few great examples of this in Star Wars. Luke and Leia meet to only later find out they are brother and sister. Luke finds out late in life that his nemesis Darth Vader is his father. Han Solo and Princess Leia start out pretty much hating each other and then later getting married. The lesson is that you should be good to everyone you meet. You never know when that stranger you meet will end up sitting next to you in class, be your new boss, your new neighbor or even your future spouse. 

To sum this all up in easy to understand terms, just remember: "Star Wars - Good. Pokemon - Bad." If you remember that, you will have no problem raising children that will grow up to be great leaders and contribute great things to society. Until next time....

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Reading Rewind

Yesterday was a dark day in the Zahrt household. Our cable connection was flaking out and didn't get repaired for nearly 24 hours. It would be one thing if it was a major outage and the crews were working non-stop to get it fixed, but it was just us. It was apparently some connection with the main line feeding our house because the repairman fixed it during the day today without needing access to our home.

We all learned a little bit last night. My wife learned the frustration of not being able to work her (greatly online) side business. My girls learned that the DVD player still puts movies on the tv just like the good old days. I realized that I hadn't read a book in over two months. 

I'm pretty sure that reading is almost as important as writing when one of your passions is to write. I spend so much time writing blogs in the evening that I feel like vegging before bed. I have gotten into an enjoyable, but maybe regrettable, habit of watching a bit of Netflix in bed before I fall asleep at night. 

On a semi-related side note, Netflix has even better compression than I thought. I learned a long time ago that I can reboot my router while streaming Netflix and not have the show so much as pause. I learned last night during the intermittent internet signal that watching Netflix was still possible....but a bit choppy at points.

Either way, I finally gave up on that and grabbed one of the books I had been meaning to read and got back into my habit of reading myself to sleep rather than watching Netflix. I didn't make it more than a few pages before I was fast asleep. Not because of the book though. I was reading a great Andy McNab book. I'm beginning to think there may actually be some truth to the idea that too much screen time before bed  will keep you awake. 

I think it's time I got back into my reading cycle. Lately my "pleasure reading" has been limited to the many blogs I enjoy following. I'm curious if my old reading habits will return. I tend to read various genres in cycles. 

Since I started back into it with Andy McNab, I will probably stick to the military, spy time theme for a while. That means there's a bit of Vince Flynn (only one book left of his I haven't read), Keith Thompson and Brad Thor in my near future.

That will probably transition into some Lee Child with a good ex-Army MP Jack Reacher novel or two. That in turn will feed my desire to read some crime dramas which will bring James Patterson, David Baldacci and John Sandford into the mix.

City crime will start to wear on me and I'll want a breath of fresh air. That means I will shift to CJ Box and Craig Allen Jonson (as in Longmire) to follow law enforcement in the wild. Once I get here in the cycle, I always want to shift to a good old cowboy book....or was it space cowboy?? Westerns and Space novels always intrigued me, but I have yet to take the time to research a find a few good authors in either genre. (Feel free to comment any suggestions.) 

All I know is that I am once again excited to get back into reading. Who knows what ideas it will give me on the writing front. Time will tell...assuming I can stay awake longer than a few pages at a time before bed when I'm worn out. Until next time....

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Friends - Junior Edition

I recently wrote a post about Friends where I explained that my daughter was a bit sad this school year because one of her closest friends moved to another state over the summer and her other closest friend was in a different classroom. I also mentioned that the terrific trio would be seeing each other again this past weekend. daughter was kind enough to write a few words about friends from her perspective. (Note: I have only listed the friends by their first initial because I am not sure how comfortable their parents are with posting info about their children to the world. Plus it gives the the post a real Men In Black vibe.) Without further ado, here's her story:


"Agent K"

"Agent M"

"Agent E"

<<<<<  average jester note  >>>>>

I have to say this is a great pleasure and honor to have my second grade daughter guest post on average jester. Her passion for reading and writing leads me to believe she will have a blog of her own one day and possibly a book or two. I am very proud of her for being able to do this for me and very thankful that she took time away from her own fun to write a post for me. 

A Fallsome Day

Words play a big part in our everyday life. It's very difficult to make it through an entire day without having to read, write and/or speak at some point. In fact, it takes up a large part of our day. Even though we use words so much, we still seem to struggle with them. I'm not going to get into grammar examples like "there, their and there" or even get into the debate about the evening meal being called supper or dinner. Instead, I am going to tackle a much more pressing issue that is currently on the rise right now: Fall vs. Autumn

My education in the area of the proper use of words started at a very young age. Less than 48 hours old to be more precise. As legend tells it, my dad and mom loaded me into the family vehicle to take me home from the hospital for the first time. My mom said, "Well Jesse,  you're about to have your first ride in a car." To which my dad replied, "It's an automobile." From that moment on, I have devoted my life to saying things with the most syllables possible. When complex words escape me, I just use a lot more simple words. 

The seasons are clearly changing here in southern Minnesota. The colors are bright and vibrant, the temperatures and leaves are starting to fall...basically, it's beautiful outside. Because words like pretty, colorful, beautiful and vibrant are overused, I have taken it upon myself to come up with better words. 

If I was a lazy man (which I'm not and there's proof in a recent POST if you don't believe me), I would have settled for what we have to work with today. I even thought about switching over to "Autumn" instead of "Fall" because it sounds more sophisticated. Just compare the "first day of Fall" to the "Autumnal Equinox." Or, even just hearing someone say "look at all the autumnal colors" makes you feel like your walking down the campus mall of some Ivy League school....but I won't settle for that. 

"Fall" has real meaning to me. As a kid, I could easily remember the name of the season because the leaves fall in Fall. Now that I'm older, I have different reasons for wanting to use the word Fall. Fall has a negative connotation and I think it's fitting - even if only to warn us of the impending doom of Winter. 

Think about it for a minute. From the fall of man in the earliest days or our existence here on Earth, fall has been bad. We fall learning to walk or ride a bike. We fall in love. (Technically that's only bad until the last time.) We fall out of trees and off of roofs. To me, Autumn is beautiful, but Fall is something to be feared. 

Not only does falling leaves mean we have to rake up a bunch of fallen leaves, it also means the real problem season of Winter is just around the corner. That wasn't such a bad thing when I lived in Texas, but living in Minnesota is an entirely different animal. 

Because of the importance of highlighting the dangers of Fall while still appreciating the visual beauty of it, I am going to propose we start using a few new words:

Fallsome: "It's such a fallsome day out." It's a single word that encompasses both the awesome beauty you see and the impending doom of colder weather. It is the root word for the following variations: 

Falltastic: You step out side and see a yard covered in leaves and say, "Well that's just falltastic." This word is best used in a heavily sarcastic tone. It's fantastic that the kids can run and jump in the leaves, but I know I wont be able to walk right for two days after raking them up. 

Fallscinating: A useful variation of the word fascinating. Once again, at face value the autumnal colors are beautiful, but you know they mean hard work is in your near future. 

Fallacy: Ok. I didn't make this one up, but it is very useful. This is the word you use to describe your thoughts about how "maybe the leaves will all blow into my neighbor's yard" when in fact you know theirs will blow into your yard. 

I hope you find these new words useful. I expect to see a liberal use of them during the next few months. Oh - who am I kidding? I won't hear anything. I'm going to be locked up in my basement bunker until Spring arrives. Until next time....

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Lieb it to me to mess this up

For those of you who may never have heard about it, there is this wonderful thing out there in the blogosphere called the Liebster Award. It's an award bloggers are nominated for by their fellow bloggers. Basically it's a way to recognize other bloggers for their hard work and spotlight their work for others to see.

Well, thanks to a wonderful gal by the name of Susan, I have been nominated for this award. Susan writes (among other things) a blog called Woman on the Ledge. I am very grateful to her for nominating me and I hope she understands when I bend the rules on this and put a little twist on it of my own. There are technically "Official Rules of the Liebster Award (2016 Edition)" that I am supposed to follow, but I tend to think (and act) outside the box.

Rule #1 - Thank the person who nominated you.
I totally nailed this one above by thanking Susan. I should probably do more to thank her since it's the first blogging award I have ever been nominated for, but I think she'll forgive me....because she's awesome!

Rule #2 - Display the Liebster Award logo in your blog post. 
Once again, I'm right on track. Even I can handle copying and pasting a logo...

Rule #3 - Write 150-300 words about your favorite blog (that's not your own). 
I'm going to go a little off track here in that I want to include more than one blog. Since Susan was kind enough to nominate me, I will write a little (fictional) story about how we met. Here goes:

As I was enjoying the view from the balcony on my high rise apartment building, I noticed a WOMAN ON THE LEDGE who seemed quite distraught. I began talking to her only to realize she was upset with the state of blogging today. With all THE WHACKO BLOGS out there, it's apparently hard to get noticed. Being a blogger myself, I understood her pain and did what I could to help her out.

It's not everyday you can have LIFE EXPLAINED in simple, down to earth terms, but I thought I'd give it a try. My wife, SARAH, SIMPLIFIED this for me a while back amidst the CHAOTIC KIDS & CLUTTER that make up our everyday life. She said we can't all walk around in fields of LAVENDER INSPIRATION hoping that THE GRATITUDE LETTERS will start rolling in from your hard work. Life doesn't work that way.

If you just BELIEVE - CHANGE - BECOME, you will be amazed what becomes of your work. Sure, there may be rough times, but when that happens you just need be a GOOD LITTLE INDIAN and suck it up. It's not like you're trying to fit THE SQUARE PEG into a round hole and you don't have to be Secret AGENT 54 to figure that out. It's not as hard as trying to say "SENCZYSZAK" three times real fast and it's certainly no SUSAN JOY CLARK mystery.

Right about then, ADELE ARCHER BOOKS it across the patio and tells me to shut up. Apparently, Susan had heard enough of my rambling nonsense and was about to jump just to escape my story telling. I figured she was in good hands now and I could go grab a pint with THOG. The rest is history...

Rule #4 - (Where'd it go??)
I have yet to see a rule #4. I looked at a few different past nominations and the listings of Liebster Award rules seems to be missing number four. I'm clearly not too concerned about following the rules, but that makes me want to do more research to find out what's so secretive about rule number four.

Rule #5 - Nominate 5-11 others, BUT they have to have less than 200 followers to qualify. 
I'm really breaking the rules here. On one hand, I listed a whole bunch of blogs above that deserve a Liebster Award. On the other hand, I don't know that any of them have fewer than 200 followers already. Considering how many blogs and books are being produced by the writers above, I don't know if any of them have the time to write a Liebster Award post....or another one in many cases.

I am also horrible about locating new bloggers to follow as I myself am relatively new/green to the whole blogging world. I am trying to learn from the Pros above right now and hoping to focus more on identifying other new blogs to follow as time goes on. However you want to look at it, I consider all of the above bloggers as nominated by me for the Liebster Award yet I don't pressure any of them to act on acknowledging the nomination.

Rule #6 - List the rules in the post
I technically did this via the link at the beginning of this post as well as the bold headings to each section. All in all, I think I did a fairly decent job of following the rules while still throwing my own twist to it. My two little girls would be proud of me for almost following the directions.

Rule #7 - Let everyone know they've been nominated
Well, I will do my best to tag everyone above in my post, but if I forgot anyone - my apologies.

All joking aside - I am truly grateful to have been nominated for the Liebster Award. I have learned a lot about blogging and made numerous friends in the blogging world thanks to the camaraderie and shared promotion between bloggers. Many thanks again to Susan for nominating me and thanks to everyone who's been kind enough to read my rambling nonsense over the past 2+ years. Until next time....

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Laziness Myth

As I was showering this morning, I was presented with a situation that has haunted (clean) human beings for ages. The bar of soap in the shower was not really a "bar" anymore, but rather a "sliver" of soap. For comparison sake, it wasn't much bigger than a Quarter. Did I get out of the shower to grab one of the 5-6 new bars of soap we have in the closet? No. I used what I had and got on with my life. Some would call that laziness, but I disagree. Laziness is a myth perpetrated by people who don't understand the mindset of others.

Because I am always looking to educate others (and find reasons to justify so-called laziness), I have offered a few examples below along with their real intent and/or value. 

Myth: Using a remnant sliver of soap rather than grabbing a fresh bar is lazy.
Reality: There are so many things wrong with this myth that I barely know where to start...but I will. First of all, we live in a society of waste already and there's no reason to compound the problem. I was perfectly capable of finishing my shower with the sliver of soap I had to work with. None of it went to waste. I also didn't compound the wastefulness by getting out of the shower, grabbing a new bar and returning to the shower which would have wasted water. 

Second, or maybe third if you count me saving water, we need to challenge ourselves on a daily basis. If we become a society of quitters, we're doomed. I took this as a personal challenge to clean myself with what I had left of that bar of soap. It turned out to be a win in my book which elevated my self esteem and prepared me to take on anything else that today might throw at me. Did I put a fresh bar in the shower when I was done? No. Some would say I forgot (or was lazy), but in reality, I am giving my wife the opportunity to experience the same challenge when she tries to shower in the morning.

Myth: Spending 10 minutes looking for the tv remote rather than getting up and changing the tv channel manually is just plain lazy.
Reality: This really comes down to having good stewardship of your possessions and not just accepting that something of great value is currently lost. Another reality is that you get more exercise looking for a lost remote than if you were to just get up once and change the channel. Who's being lazy now?? I can easily add the following to this:

Myth: Telling your kid to grab the remote from the other side of the room for you is lazy. 
Reality: As a parent, you are always teaching your kids life lessons. Teaching them to follow directions properly is vital for survival in life. Learning to accept direction from people in positions of authority will also come in handy when they enter the workforce. Some of you may think that this limits free thought and diminishes their ability to think for themselves. Although I agree to a certain degree, there are some things that must be obeyed or followed as instructed. Besides, it's not like I tell them which hand to pick up the remote with. I don't make them use the remote to change the channel. As far as free thought, I know I've gotten the response of "Why don't you use the tv remote app on your phone dad?" when I ask them to grab the remote for me. 

Myth: Choosing not to mow the lawn because it "hasn't grown that much" is lazy.
Reality: Due to my many years of working in a hardware store (that also has a garden center and large Lawn & Garden department), I know this is a myth. It's not laziness to promote healthy growth of your lawn. Grass is healthier when it's longer. Cutting grass too short is actually bad and gives the weeds a chance to take over the lawn. I should mention that not cutting your lawn while the grass is wet is another perfectly acceptable reason to not mow. It's dangerous - you could slip. The grass clumps up - making the lawn look ugly. The list goes on. Basically, if you need a reason to skip mowing, I can find a perfectly acceptable non-lazy reason to skip it. 

Myth: Not doing your homework after supper is lazy (and defiant). 
Reality: I have less experience with this myth because my daughter (the one who actually has homework anyway) loves doing homework. I know others out there do have this problem, so I will destroy this myth for you. Families today never seem to get enough quality time together. You get home from work, eat supper, do homework, take baths or showers and head to bed. Choosing to skip homework is a legitimate choice to have more valuable family time. It's not laziness - it's love for your family. 

I could go on and on with further myths about laziness, but I will leave you with those for today. If you're thinking I'm stopping here because I'm lazy, you would be wrong. I know that I am reaching the limit where you're starting to glaze over what you're reading and probably wouldn't really process any further examples. I am ending my list here because I care about you, my readers, and not because I'm lazy. (The rest of my family also just walked in so I need to get off the computer and enjoy some family time now.) 

Take these myths about laziness to heart. Take a look at your own life and things some less understanding people might view as laziness. It only takes a moment or two to find the real reason for why you're choosing not to do something. It's not laziness because we all know now that laziness is a myth. Until next time....

Saturday, October 1, 2016


I'm taking the typically exceptional blogging advice from my seven year old daughter and writing about friendship tonight. Every so often, I put Ziva (my daughter) on the spot for a blog idea just to see what she comes up with - and she usually blurts out a pretty good idea. 

She has friendship on her mind because she gets to see one of her best friends this weekend. Ziva is part of a trio of girls that were best gal pals all of last year at school. Unfortunately for her, one of their trio moved out of state over the summer. Well, the friend and her family will be in town this weekend and "absolutely crazy with excitement" would be an understatement for what Ziva is feeling right now.

This got me thinking about friendships. Actually, helping Ziva cope with her friend moving away this summer got me started....seeing her excitement when she returns gave me the push to write about it. 

There are many types of friendships in life. Most come and go, but some turn into a lifelong bond. There are friends you see every day while others you may not see for years at a time. With the internet today, it's likely you even have a few friends that you've never actually met. So how do we get there?

Growing up, at least when I was a kid, most of my friends were the other neighborhood kids. I also have some pretty good friendships that developed in grade school that continue today. Back then though, everything seemed so final. When a friend moved away, it felt like the world was coming to an end. You can't blame a kid though since they haven't yet learned how many people will come and go in your life. Back in my day, we also didn't have social media to "keep us together" so easily when far apart. 

High school and college bring on a different class of friendships - at least for those of us who had a little bit of maturity. You're starting to think about your future and begin surrounding yourself with like-minded friends. It also helps that you're becoming independent and more involved in a wider variety of activities. Your friends are no longer limited to the people sitting next to you at school or who live on your block. 

As an adult, you may find yourself narrowing down your list of friends and/or separating them into different groups. Friends from work, the next door neighbor and the guys on your bowling league are fairly common. If you're in a relationship, you probably have friends from your significant other or even other couples you hang out with. Having kids tends to shift you into having friends who also have kids. It's not always the case, but it's almost funny to watch how often that shift takes place. 

So what makes a real friend? Is it how long you've known them? How much you've been through together? The number of common interests you have? How often you see them? What about the friends you never see or have never met? 

I am the type of person who tends to have a smaller number of really good friends. I don't collect friends like badges just for the sake of having friends. My Facebook account tells me I have 220 friends. If I were to subtract the 197 of them that are related to me from my wife's side of the family, well, I'd have a shorter list. I love them all, but in reality, I rarely talk to many of them. Maybe I'm not a very good friend?? Or, maybe some of my friendships can handle the longer time in between contact??

I have really close friends that I've known since I was a kid, but only catch up every year or two. I have friends I've made online because of blogging that I "talk to" on a daily basis, but have never actually met in person or even talked to on the phone. I have friends of all shapes, sizes and types in between. What I love about having these friends is that there's a place for them all. 

I love my friends. I'm even getting better about making new friends as time goes along. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, but I do know I will have just the right friends to get me through it and/or to enjoy it with me. Until next time....