Mother’s Day Road Trip 2013

photo (19)

Doesn’t this look easy?!

Road Trip!  What do you immediately think about hearing those words?  Do you remember a crazy trip that you don’t know how you survived?  Did your car breakdown?  Did you have a car accident?

These days, my memories involved two young boys and the challenges they bring.  I don’t blame them, they don’t like sitting in a car seat for four hours.  We were making the journey from Oxford, Ohio to Litchfield, OH

The day started out great, with Sawyer and Ryan playing together in the morning.  I went to work, which was very emotional because I was saying to goodbye to a dozen Miami University student staff who were graduating that weekend.  You work with these kids for 2-4 years, they become a big part of your work life and you get to see them develop on bridge from high school to young adulthood.  I hope they go on to accomplish great things in the world.

We left Friday afternoon on Mother’s Day weekend.  Ryan (2.5 years old) is not too bad on the road at this point.  He will sit in his car seat “reading” (feel good about this), pointing out every big rig and farm tractor he sees (funny, amazing, constant chatter, good), or watching a movie (it keeps him quiet for a long time, don’t like him watching this much TV though).

Sawyer (8 months old) slept about half the trip, which was great.  He rarely cried and sat some of the trip looking out the window.  Our restroom/eating/diaper changing break was pretty uneventful.  The toughest part of was listening to the Cleveland Indians lose, however, they are a 18-4 streak as of this writing…..

We rolled into Litchfield tired and ready for bed.

That Saturday was packed with activity.  Jen and I had separate friend plans, so we divided and conquered.  We went to visit my grandmother, who is in her nineties and had a tough fall earlier that week, breaking her wrist and getting banging up.  On our way to her house, our “check engine” light came on.  We went in the house, dropped the boys off, and then I took the car to Auto Zone to get checked out.  I was told it would be fine by putting in some fuel injector cleaner, but the light stayed on.

After a nice visit with Grandma…….Car re-shuffle…..Jen took my dad’s car, dad took my van, I took his van.  Jen took Sawyer to the Eastside of Cleveland for a baby shower for her friend Derek McDowell and to spend the night with her mother.  Ryan and I went back to my parents for his naptime.

While Ryan took his nap, I went to the Buckeye Library to catch up on some email (parents don’t have the internet).  I had the pleasure of running into Amanda Cook Hudak, a former classmate from high school.  We had a nice chat and got to catch up on our families.  It was great to see her.  Afterwards, I went by the Buckeye High School baseball field and had the chance to talk to Randy Haury, my old basketball coach.

Ryan and I went next door to a birthday party for my friend Bob Dieter’s FOUR kids (two sets of twins).  There were six kids (including Ryan) who were running around having a great time.  It was so neat to see!

On Sunday morning, we went to morning breakfast with my dad’s side of the family.  Grandma, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins were all there.  The newest addition were two-month old twin girls.  It was great to see them for the first time.

To cap off the visit, there was a surprise 80th birthday party for my grandpap, with about 30 family members in attendance.  How everyone kept this a secret so he was genuinely surprised is beyond me, but kodos to the tight lips.

My grandpap is a remarkable man.  He is one of the smartest, toughest, most caring men I have ever known.  He can fix about anything, is so smart, and lives his life with integrity and purpose.  He has been a role model throughout my life and I feel so thankful that my boys get to experience this as well.

Oh….the trip home.  It did not badly, except for the 80 miles of Sawyer crying.   His screeches really amped my stress level and I had to tune it out and concentrate on the driving.  Jen made great efforts to keep him calm, but he just was not happy.  Big picture, we made in back safe and sound.

Hope your mother’s day went well, and if you have any tips for keeping young children entertained for long car rides, I would love to hear it.  Thanks for reading.



car rides

80th birthday party

To all of my ladies……

Admit it, you weren’t sure where I was going with this.  Let me clarify this is to help celebrate Mother’s Day.

This post is in a small attempt to say thank you to the most important women in my lifetime.  They are all mothers as well.  They have been so supportive and have raised great children.

  • Wife-gave the gift of her love and mother of our two sons, she means everything to me-HER LOVE AND SUPPORT IS THE GUIDING LIGHT IN MY LIFE.
  • Mom-gave me life and has been an outstanding role model in life, she serves so many in need every day
  • Mom-in-Law-gave my wife life, unwavering love and support for her grandsons and her family
  • Grandma Schiavoni-such positivity and support, everyone wants to be around her for the way she makes them feel
  • Grandma Siliko-a saintly woman who loves with actions rather than words, she has such wisdom in her ninth decade
  • Nana-Ukrainian immigrant that established family roots in Ohio, loved her stories, her accent, and her traditions
  • Granny-Hungarian immigrant that established family roots in Ohio, was so accomplished academically and a lovable crank
  • Aunt Faye-helped foster my love for sports and would go outside to play with us, always is quietly supportive and present
  • Aunt Mary-is always great to see her due to distance apart, has such a heart
  • Aunt Chris-visits with her always have great conversations and debate, she makes you think
  • Aunt Bobbi-was always at her house when we were kids, so many good memories; when I had hair, she was the best barber I ever had
  • Aunt Robin-very quiet, but it always interested in hearing how you are doing and encouraging
  • Aunt Annette-closest aunt in age to me, got to see some of her activities in high school and learn from her as she grew up, got married, and raised a great family
  • Aunt Cindy-so nuturing and supportive, always eager to talk about life
  • Cousin Tanya-same age as me, we got to blaze the path as the oldest grandchildren, she is so smart and talented; she has two great kids
  • Cousin Lisa-loved watching her play sports and partying with her at BGSU; she has three great kids

In the cycle of life, it is so great to see this love and support go to my sons during family get-togethers.  I have many friends who this great day is in honor of as well.  Kate Partee, Tara Britton, and Angela Meinhardt are three of my closest co-workers who impact me daily.


Look for the good, and work around the challenges….

The millennial generation gets a lot of crap from old Crusties like me.  Self-absorbed, short attention span, helicopter parents, spoiled, etc.

Working at the university, I see this everyday.  However, the old adage that you will find what you are looking for certainly rings true.  I like to look for effort, appreciation, and positive relationships.  The story I am about to share reflects these three themes.

I don’t know all the details, so I apologize in advance for not mentioning something.  Andy Anderson (big A, double A, a squared, doc), a giant of a man with a heart to match, proposed to the student staff about throwing a surprise birthday party for Angela.

Who is Angela?  Angela is our front-line customer service counter person in Miami’s Recreational Sports Center, and is also the “grandma” of the students.  She is old-school to the core, but no one is more caring or nurturing if her trust is earned.  What’s her secret?  Pretty simple:  she actively listens, she shares, and she cares.  A great recipe for success

The students did a great job organizing the food, the cake, and keeping it a surprise.  I took Ryan and Sawyer with me to join in the celebration.  What a great environment of connection and good feelings.  I love it when our staff becomes a community!

Angela was so surprised, and so grateful.  In her 17 years at Miami, she has always been loved by the students, but has never been recognized in this way.  The timing was perfect.  Angela has had some recent challenges in her home life, but she continues to work hard and serve others.  This time, she was served in grand style.

We try to promote a culture of appreciation and positive relationships.  In the daily grind, sometimes we miss the mark.  On this day, our students knocked it out of the park.

I would love to hear your stories on staff recognition or acts of kindness.  For those of you who know Angela, I would love to pass on your well-wishes to her.  Take the opportunity today to thank someone who listens, shares, and cares about you.