Monday, June 30, 2008

Play Ball!

Just got back from vacation...more later.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Growing Up Dad

Lou Schuler wrote an interesting article about being a Dad and asked what our standards are for raising a child in the 21st century. He noted his friend Kevin Mitchell determined the first imperative of parents is to be a better parent than one's own parents. Lou writes:
Since every kid believes his parents sucked at child rearing, it's really not a particularly high hurdle. My parents sucked in both cruel and comical ways, but from what I know about their upbringing, they improved upon their own parents by a wide margin. And at the same time they did me a favor by giving me so much room to improve on their standard. I, in turn, am giving my kids ample opportunity to do even better.

That's pretty much my experience as well. That being said, my standards for being a better are these.

Be a Role Model
Mahatma Gandhi once said we are to "be the change we wish to see in the world." That means modeling. We focus on teachable moments when our kid throws up a softball question that we can knock out of the park. Kids learn so much more from what they see us do and overhear us say. The truest role modeling is done in those quiet little moments when you think she is not watching or listening. It's made me more patient with drivers (my motto is now "We all get there eventually" which allows me grace for others, including the dude going 60 in the left lane), cashiers and other people who make my life "difficult". If I can manage to model even a third of love, joy, peace, longsuffering (aka patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control, I'll count myself un unmitigated success.

The one thing I hated about growing up in my house was that I never felt listened to. To be fair, my mother worked full time running her own cleaning business and my father had, at any given time, between 2 and 4 jobs. Listening to me carp about my day was probably not high on their list of priorities. What I have found with Little Fish is just how important listening is, not just to what is being said, but sometimes to what she is not saying. I dread the day she comes home and ISN'T talking about how stupid the boys are in her class. It's amazing how much she can learn, and how much I learn, when I just ask simple questions like "Really?" and "Why" or those even rarer occasions when I simply shut up altogether.

Little Fish is an amazing person. She stutters, but acts in plays, sings, and is an advocate for herself. Why? I think it's because Mrs. Fish and I have encouraged her from the beginning. I try to find things that were specifically good about something she did in any endeavor. She tells me stories about what's going on in school with a close friend and I say to her, "That was very kind of you. You know what? If I were a kid, I'd want to be your friend."

So, what are your standards?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Men's Group

My buddy Michael just joined a men's book group at his church, and is questioning just how authentic we are in this day and age. It made me realize how truly blessed I have been with the incredible group of guys I meet with (at least) every other week. They come from a broad spectrum of belief, education, and personalities. The thing that binds us together is our love of God, manifested in our love for each other. This, in turn, allows us to love other people more fully, more deeply, more completely...a lesson I am trying to learn. Each of us is on a quest, and as we question, talk, raise each other up, and spend time together, we become more completely like the Christ we follow. All the while, we have fostered a safe, close environment built on Biblical principles of love and sharing.

One of the things I realized early on is how different Men's Bible study is from church. It's much more open. It's a lot more interpersonal. Church, for me, is more about praising God, thanking Him for the things he has done in my life, the incredible blessings He has bestowed on me. Men's Group has been more focused on exploring my relationship with God and giving me the strength and courage to act on those beliefs I've formed. Both are equally important, but in opposite ways.

I had a conversation with Little Fish the other day and she asked who I prayed to. I said I prayed to Jesus, because I like his gentleness. She said she prays to God because he's like a Dad, and he's always there. I have to say I got misty.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

$10 Kicks...

Got these on super-clearance last winter and just dug them out for the summer. Mrs. Fish thinks they are totally ugly, but is too kind to say anything.

Monday, June 16, 2008


So, Little Fish and Mrs. Fish are away, leaving me here with the cats. What to do, what to do? After I got home from work, I threw on my running gear for a long overdue run. It felt great to get out and move a bit. A storm was coming up and I got in the door just as it flew through. They were calling for hail, but I didn't see any.

Then I took a quick shower and cooked up my favorite Fish-trash-treat: Spaghetti-Ohs and black beans. There is no typo in there--that's what I had. I like mine with a dash of cumin, some chili powder, hot sauce (Tabasco rocks!) and cayenne pepper. Man, that is some seriously good eating. I highly recommend it. Caveat: I just did a Google search for that and found it nowhere on The Intarwebz. There may be a good reason for that.

I talked with Mom tonight and she continues to do well, baffling doctors. I've said it before--she's just plain tough; you'd have to be out and out stupid to bet against her. Dad is doing well because Mom is doing well. He has been staying with my brother more and more often, which I think helps him to stay grounded, and also not to travel as much.

The wolrd's loudest catbird is sqwaking outside the sliding door to my deck. My cat is looking at it, somewhat curious and also, I suspect, mildly amused. The bird is totally freaking. Weird, like Day of the Animals....

It's just a short matter of time before Teh Bunniez go THARN...I'm going to go make a cup of tea and wait for the end.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Inspiration Monday

This just gives me goosebumps.

Father's Day

I was able to spend a really nice and long overdue weekend reconnecting with Little Fish. We went to church, took a long walk, swam (mostly me seeing how far I could throw her in the pool), fixed a boo-boo, and just talked. She and Mrs. Fish made me a GREAT cake, I got a cool book about fun things you can do with your daughter and a funny CD called NPR's Funniest Driveway Moments to listen to on the road.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Inspirational Monday

I've been on the road all day, so this one is a little late. Give that little extra.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Guest Blogger....Little Fish!!!

This is an assignment Little Fish wrote for one of her classes this year.

A Gift of Love

A true gift is not given from Wal-mart or K-mart but from your heart and soul.
A gift is light in your hall of darkness.
A gift is the sight and sound of things you love.
You can give millions even thousands of gifts but if none of them are from your heart then they dont mean any thing to the person your giving them to.
A gift is a nice friend.
A gift is just is just a pinch of IRISH luck.♣
A gift could be anything from your heart.
If you're blind a gift could be sight.
If you're deaf a gift could be hearing the birds sing a song of praise.
If you're lonley a gift could be friends and some love.
But everybody needs some love and caring for.
Not just faux hugs and kisses but real ones.
Whatever it is and it's from your heart it means the world.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Mom is back in the ICU

I was in training a couple of days this week in Wilmington, DE. One of the cool things about this is that it is about half an hour from Mom, who is at the University of Penn Hospital in Philadelphia. I went up to see her and surprise her on Tuesday. I wore one of my favorite suits because my mom, having been a tailor, appreciates such things. She was totally surpised to see me. I stayed for about an hour and a half and we just chatted. The chemo was starting to take hold so she was pretty tired, but it was cool.

On Thursday I brought her some coffee ice cream, one of her favorites. Now that she has started eating a little bit of solid foods, I thought she could at least have something she liked. She had one cup, then a second. I asked her if she wanted a third and she said she wasn't sure if she should. "Mom," I said. "What are you worried about, getting fat?" We both laughed and she said she's take the third cup of ice cream. The chemo is eating her up pretty bad, so she has trouble talking, but I left her in good spirits.

Last night her blood pressure took a nosedive. They had to bring in the crash team and try to get it back up, which they did. They put her back into ICU as a precaution to monitor her for a couple of extra days. We'll see how things progress from there.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Little FISH!!!!!!

My daughter's graduation was today. She won the class award for Outstanding Creative Writing for the fourth grade. I actually got to go see her as my new boss told me to get out and go see it. I am so PROUD OF HER!!!!!!

Poetry Thursday

Reflecting on Vincent's Starry Night

Pausing to intrigue myself
with an artist's dream
alive on canvas.

Vincent, I think it was,
(Funny how, when you share a person's
suffering it places you on a first-name basis with them
a sense of vague understanding having been observed)
affording us stars at night
while carefully masking
hidden anguish.

Tortured internally,
externally able to share
sensitivity's placid vision;
I can't help but wonder if
he could not somehow
wish to trade
the tranquility in his piece
for a little peace
of mind....

Monday, June 02, 2008

Today is My First Day... the new job. I got to sleep in until 7.00(!!!eleventy!11!), actually take my time getting ready and even a couple of moments to post here. I'm excited/nervous/happy/terrified/in-another-two-seconds-I'll-be-something-else. But for now I'm a herd of turtles (that's kind of a confused looking herd, no?).


My mom continues to go up and down, but mostly up. She continues to surprise her doctors, which surprises me not at all. Her lung function is greatly diminished and she continues to need oxygen, but she is getting it through a nose tube instead of a mask or respirator. Mom is on chemo, the same as they use for cancer patients, that will hopefully knock out the infection that continues to destroy her lungs--no word yet on how effective that has been.

We went down and had the "End of Life" conversation with regard to what kind of resuscitation and life extending medical care she wants and dealt with all of that. It was actually good because she is so conscious and aware she could make her own decisions about what she wanted and the whole family was there to talk about it. It's good to see my brother and sister-in-law.

A couple of thoughts. First, I thought that conversation would be harder than it was. But Mom is pretty clear on what she wants, and it's actually right in line with what I would want, for me or for her. Second, there was a strong possibility that would be our last conversation together in this life. I was trying to think of what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to say it when I found myself at a total loss. Not for the reasons many people, I suspect, find themselves at a loss in such situations, but because everything I have ever wanted or needed to say to Mom I have already said. I've told her what I think, what I feel, what I needed, where I disagreed with her and most importantly how much I love her. Enough so that she knows all of these things. So we just sat and talked like we always do, except without the obligatory cup of Lipton's tea, then I said a prayer with her and left.

Thanks again for all of your continued thoughts, prayers, e-mails and encouragement. I told Mom about how many people are keeping her in prayer and thought, and I think she was blown away.

Inspirational Monday

I'm going to try something a little new. On Mondays, I will post something I found inspiring, uplifting or otherwise able to take me to a happy place. Here is your first installment--Inspirational Monday: Run.

Bonus funny...