Tag Archives: kids

Plainview #24

Our kids, the neighborhood vandals. Student Podcasts. The movie Comedian.  The t.v. shows The Office and My Name is Earl. Matt joins Hapkido.  Mare stresses out.

It’s funny to think back to when we watch television shows at the time and dates when they were broadcast by the networks.  We only do that now if it’s a Chief’s game or there is a tornado warning.

4-H Cows, Cooking, and Patience


I was reminded of 4H last month when my daughter was trying to get her TSA (Technology Student Association) project done in time for state competition. Her project was a children’s book about science. She only had the entire school year to get her book and the accompanying paperwork complete. But for some reason we were at school Saturday evening trying to get everything copied and digitized and saved and ready to go before leaving for state conference the next morning. She kept waiting for me, I think, to get angry. And of course I was becoming more and more annoyed as she discovered more requirements that she had overlooked in getting her project ready. But I kept remembering working on my 4H record book, filling out the last of the boring paperwork required for each project before its entry in the fair. “This has to be done today!” my parents repeated.  “Projects go in tomorrow!” I swore loudly to my parents that each year would be my last. I also remembered my mother at my dad’s office, typing my essay on one of the typewriters as I decoded my handwriting for her; we were there until one o’clock in the morning sometimes. These 4H projects and school assignments could have easily been done before the last minute. It’s really only at this point in my life, 30 years after I closed my last 4H record book, that I actually try and generally succeed at getting things done before the last minute. So while I was as annoyed as all get out at my girl child, I kept remembering my own last-minute experiences and my patient mother typing away at dad’s office, and I managed to keep my cool.

Plainview #22

Plainview #22 is a media blitz.  Media covered in this show: Podcasts — our own;  Television — My Name is Earl & The Office (both new shows at the time); Movies — Team America & What the Bleep do we Know; Books — Harry Potter, The Watchmen & The Gangster We’re All Looking For; News — why can’t they get things right about hurricane Katrina?  We also talk about our kids and the weird things about them including Will’s concern about meeting Johnny Appleseed and Maly trying to decide whose side she’s on–God’s or Mom’s.

Plainview #21

In episode 21 of The Plainview, we reviewed Kung Fu Hustle, discussed the government as Christ figure, wondered about our mean children, and talked a lot about questioning god.  For what it’s worth, we still quiz our kids in the Benedictine style just about every night.

Hmmm, I wonder whatever happened to those coffee mugs?

Midnight Party


Mark’s #48 is Midnight Party.  Midnight Party is the game that answers the question, what happens when the ghost everyone is running from in the scary movies finally catches you. This may be my favorite kids game. I’m sure I’ve played it more with adults than kids. It’s fun the amount of tension this game creates. As you roll the die and move the little plastic pieces around the board, it really feels like you’re running down the hall with a bunch of people, looking desperately for a room to dive into so the ghost doesn’t get you. It felt like this so much to the kids one day that we had to turn the light back on and then they still weren’t sure they wanted to play. (The ghost in this game is glow-in-the-dark; it’s not like we were trying to be cruel to our kids.  And it wasn’t that dark.)  Its still one we enjoy in both the light and the dark.

My Mom #2

These two memories of my mom come from my kids.

One of my memories of Grandma Elaine was that she lets us get some M & M’s at night time.  She likes it when we come to her house to stay the night.  I like when she takes us to the Country Club.  I love you. Xoxxoxxxoxxxxxooooo


One day, grandma came over to our house. We were playing at the Preston’s house, and it was time to leave. Grandma decided to go over the fence instead of going to the front of the house to ask for us. She also decided to go headfirst. Will and I cracked up as we watched her struggle over the fence. After 10 minutes of grandma trying to get over a fence (which would have taken us 5 seconds to get over) she finally got over.  The end of this funny story.  (This funny grandma is the best grandma ever!)



Several years ago I assigned my students the task of telling a story from their life on a website called VoiceThread.  VoiceThread combines pictures and voice and allows people to comment on your story, leaving written or spoken comments or even drawing on the photos; more about that later.  I wanted their story to have a theme and say something about life, you know, all those things English teachers get excited about.  I created my own VoiceThread to show the kids as an example of what I was looking for.  I recently came across the script for that example.  Here is the link to the original with pictures and everything.  Years ago I quit checking the comments for something intelligent as the rare compliment or insight wasn’t worth wading through all the drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees.  My students’ stories are still there.  I haven’t checked them out. Here is my original.  It’s called Freedom.

As a kid, like all kids, I longed for freedom.  Freedom from my parents, freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  To be honest, I didn’t have that much to rebel against.  I was expected to make decent grades and stay out of trouble.  But I had a pretty liberal curfew, and got my driver’s license when I was in the 8th grade.

And I didn’t give my parents much to worry about.  Yeah, I was one of those kids.  Didn’t drink, smoke or fool around.  My friends and I had mostly good clean fun and mostly stayed out of trouble.  After high school I went to college.

This was a bit of a change.  My good-clean-fun friends and I all went different directions.  At K-State I lived in a house with 20 or so other guys.  Suddenly it was up to me to get to class, get to church and mostly stay out of trouble.  Two out of three, as they say, ain’t bad.  The biggest change for me at college was how much more freedom I had.  How much freedom did I have?  More than I needed.

When I found myself graduated, I wasn’t quite ready to give up that freedom.  While my friends were interviewing for jobs, I was making arrangements to travel overseas.  I found work at a pub, which I loved; the pub, not the work.  I worked six days a week and was paid pretty well.  Not the free-est time of my life, except that I could leave anytime I wanted.

Which I did after a few months.  With money and a train pass in my pocket, I caught any train I wanted to any destination I could afford.   After a few months I came back to the states, traveled some more, worked some more, when to school some more.  I was pretty much doing whatever I wanted.  It was pretty sweet.

It was during this period that I met my wife.  Well, she wasn’t my wife yet.  But she would be soon.  Less than a year after our first date, we were hitched.  After a semester of student teaching were packed our bags and moved to Virginia.

We found jobs, friends, and adventure.  Eventually we bought our first house.  In the meantime we continued to play.  When school wasn’t in session we could pretty much do whatever we wanted.  We went to the beach, movies, restaurants, concerts, and parties.

Eventually we found our way back to the Midwest, decided to settle down, raise a family.  That’s what I’ve been up to for the last seven years or so.  Being dad.  Playing ball, teaching manners, tickling, snuggling, sometimes lecturing.  Spending time.

Makes it tricky to run off to Europe or the beach or the bars any time I want.  And there are times when I do have that urge.  When that happens I might put on some music, maybe look at some old pictures.  It’s never long before somebody says, “Dad, let’s play?”  And I’m off to bigger and better things.  How much freedom do I have?  All I need.


Be a Good Sport


I’ve never been involved with Special Olympics. Until moving to Adrian, I’d really had little interaction with special folks at all. As a kid I had a few brief interactions with a couple of relatives that left me kind of frightened. These were adults that hadn’t received any education or outside help. In elementary school, I don’t remember anyone. When I caught the bus to middle school, there was one boy that I’d see at the bus stop, a brother of a friend. But at middle school and high school, I don’t remember but a couple of guys. I don’t even recall sped kids. This could be because my memory is atrocious, but I don’t think they were around much.

I’m glad that’s changed, both for me in life, and at our schools in general. Getting to know these folks, both adults in our community and kids at school, has given my kids, and all our kids, a leg up–a leg up in developing empathy, and gratitude, and a larger sense of community that I didn’t have, as well as an opportunity to get to know some cool people.

Spin Art



My kids did these.  Years ago we picked up some kind of art toy at a garage sale, and my kids made some art.  As I recall it was cool at first, but a little difficult to do; the machine may have jammed a bit, and of course the paint was messy.  So after a few paintings, the kids and I were done.  We’d gotten our $1 out of it, and the machine went into our goodwill box.

The kids wanted to trash their pictures too.  But I kept them.  I saw the message.  It was up to me to share the message with the rest of the world.  So I organized them into these surreal comic strips.  Let him who has eyes see.  It’s all right there.