It’s fun taking out the trash? You betcha

I never have minded taking out the trash, I understand it needs to be done so our house doesn’t turn into a maggot colony. But I have never looked forward to doing it either. When I see my neighbor’s cans out, my response is usually “shoot, it’s trash night”. But like most things in life, it takes less than 15 minutes to make it happen.

Over the last month however, taking out the trash has been awesome since I ingeniously asked Ryan to help me.  I should have had him helping me since he was able to walk, I missed out on 19 months of assistance.

He loves to help me with chores!  He has added this to his “chore” list of vacuuming, gardening, and lawn mowing.  He knows that we make one last round for trash and then take it outside.  We then take out our 4 recycle bins.  He insists on carrying them, saying “I can do it myself”.  Yes, he can (sometimes with daddy’s help).

When I thanked him, his reply was “happy to help”.  Adorable.  I laughed and was happy he learned something useful from Thomas the Train.

Best part, we are teaching him responsibility and work ethic.

I would love to hear about other chores you get your kids involved with.

Thanks for reading.



The Lonnnnggg Drive to Maryland….for an awesome reason!

ron horse 7.13 ryan kevin 7.13 uncle logan 7.13

Last week, Ryan and I took a mini-vacation to suburban Baltimore,
Maryland to visit my brother Kevin.  Seeing my brother  with the physical distance between us is special enough, but this visit was
extra special.

As is my MO, I listened the to recently released book  “Toughness:
Developing Strength On and Off The Court” by Jay Bilas (kindle version).  Although many references used are basketball-related, the concepts on developing mental toughness can be applied to all areas of life.  College basketball fans  will get tremendous joy and insight about the inside game as well.

Mr. Bilas has great references about his parents and wonderful story about a cancer  survivor at the end of the book related to toughness.  There is no question that toughness is needed to succeed in life, but is not too often defined in such an extraordinary package.

Almost two months ago, Kevin’s girlfriend Tricia gave birth to their first child, Logan Joseph.  He is a handsome fellow!  He’s extra special because he makes me a first-time uncle, Jen a first-time aunt, and Ryan/Sawyer’s 1st first-cousin.  Typical of his age, pretty much all he does is eat, sleep, and poop. But when he smiles at you….you feel like a million bucks.

Ryan was very friendly and gentle with Logan.  He clearly loves his cousin.

Ryan and Logan "cheesing" for the camera

Ryan and Logan “cheesing” for the camera

I shared with Kevin and Tricia my opinion that it is hard to get motivated to do things when you are babysitting because when your child sleeps, you often lay down as well.  They didn’t disagree, but also attributed this “laziness” to the fact this is their summer vacation as well because they work in the school system.

Because of this, Ryan and I were often left to our own devices.  We took walks, visited playgrounds, rode his bicycle, and read books.  Kevin and Tricia were very generous with the food they prepared for us, and we enjoyed our meals.  Uncle Kevin, Ryan, and I went to a park one night and Uncle pushed Ryan on the swings while I got in some pickup basketball games ( I represented myself quite well despite being the oldest player on the court, thank you).

We were able to go to a couple of neat places.  We visited the Howard County Conservancy , which was an old farm preserved for future generations.  We enjoyed a great hike in pastures with some great wildlife, went into the nature center, saw old barns and tractors, and visited the chicken coop and goats.

howard conservancy

On our last day, I tried to play to Ryan’s affinity for trains by visiting the historic  His favorite thing to do was ringing the station bell.

ryan caboose driver ryan in caboosedad ryan 7.13 train

On Thursday night and early Friday morning, we packed up and got on the road for our 9+ return to Ohio.  On the whole, it was a great time.  We can’t wait for our future visits when the boys (Sawyer has yet to meet Logan) can be more interactive in their play.  I also learned some tricks in helping Ryan sleep when we travel to new places.

I am so thankful we got to do this trip.  Tricia and Kevin are doing great as new parents, Logan definitely hit the parent lottery with these two!  This post will help me remember it forever.

Would love to hear about your family road trips!

“Starting is half-finished.” -Robert D Smith author of 20,000 Thousand Days and Counting 


 As young children gain mobility, they begin constantly challenging their boundaries indoors and outdoors. They want to explore, and find out from their parents where they can and can’t go.  A particular boundary that gets challenged is the driveway to road.  For obvious reasons, I think it’s fair to say this one scares the heck out of us as parents.
Our nearly three-year old Ryan is challenging boundaries daily.  The road entry boundary has been a consistent opportunity for him and his parents.  Because our side of the road is on a hillside, the only sidewalk available is across the road.  We have been reminding Ryan EVERY TIME to hold our hand when crossing, after we look both ways for cars.  When he is riding his bicycle, we make him stop at every crossing and look both ways.  Sounds logical right?
The issue is independence.  In many cases, Ryan emphatically states “I want to do it myself”, or he just does it on his own.  He is resisting holding hands and wants to launch himself across the street without taking the care to look properly.
This past Sunday, we were getting ready to go in the house for lunch and then a family mini-trip to the zoo.  I was putting some tools away in the barn and Ryan was pushing his Little Tyke lawn mower around.  As I got within 20 yards, I noticed he was in the driveway going toward the road.  I asked him to come back so we could eat lunch.  He said “No Dadda” and kept pushing his mower toward the road.  As I ran to stop him, he started running toward the road.  Not the reaction I was looking for.
About four feet from the road, I yelled “STOP!” so loudly that the neighbor momentarily stopped cutting his grass.  However, Ryan kept going.  He crossed the boundary and was now in the road about four feet.  I yelled “STOPPPPP!” even louder as I got within two feet, and he finally complied.  He turned around, visibly shaken by my volume and tone.  I scooped him and the lawn mower up as the neighbors looked on and went straight for the house as  Ryan began wailing.
As I approached the house, Jen was on the porch asking what happened.  I think I said, “Ryan ran out into the road”, but I’m not sure.  We explained our reactions and got Ryan to calm down as we sat down to eat.
As my adrenaline wore off, I wasn’t angry.  I was….silent…reflective…thankful.   I realized just how badly this could have turned out, and I was so grateful Ryan had not been hurt.  I couldn’t shake a visual image of him actually getting it by a car, and I began quietly sobbing right at the table.  Ultimately, I was responsible for watching him and I had let him slip away.
Jen was so great.  She asked me what was wrong.  After I told her, she told Ryan how upset he had made dadda by not listening and running into the road.  Ryan replied, “sorry dadda””, in which I told him what he had done wrong and what could have happened.
In the days past, I have been reminding Ryan of this incident, and he has been stopping to check both ways.  So, I am hoping the lesson sank in.
However, I think a great teacher for kids is Mr. Pain.  Touch a stove, it’s hot, will check next time.  Run in bare feet and step on a rock, will put shoes on.  Burn your mouth eating food that’s too hot, check the temperature.  The problem with this situation is that if Mr. Pain occurred, Ryan may not get the chance to learn from it.
I get it, he wants his to be free.  I LOVE the fact he always wants to be outside, and will keep encouraging that.  We will continue our push-pull dance with his boundaries, and pray that major accidents can be avoided.
Any advice on teaching boundaries?  I would love to hear from you.

Bullet points, Trying to explain the unexplainable, and Uptown family night

Have you ever had a discussion about bullet points?  Surprisingly, I have had many.

In my business writing, I tend to rely on bullet points to give specific detail or directions.  Sometimes I provide additional detail, and sometimes I don’t.  I also like to get business written communication in bullet points.  I feel it is my job to ask the questions to get the why behind the what or how.

Most recently, my graduate colleague Sarah has challenged my use of bullet points.  I tried to be witty with responses such as this…..but in reality she is very sharp and I defer to her expertise.  I feel like a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest trying to match wits with her.   She is an expert storyteller and very engaging with her narrations.


However, Sarah has helped me define my new philosophy.  Cartoons and bullets……draw it for me, give me a picture….and spell it out for me in bullets.  Keep it simple please.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading, but I want the meat of the communication easy to see.

On a more serious note….

Last week we were out for a family walk.  Ryan has been asking about seeing our friend Leo, who passed away in early April, about seeing him again.  So, we stopped at the cemetery at his grave site.  I told Ryan this is how we visited him now.  He’s not quite three years old, so he doesn’t understand why we can’t see him.  Heck, don’t understand why we can’t see him.  I told him his body was gone from earth, but we would see him again someday.  I am glad he is curious, and frustrated that I can’t give him an answer.  And this is why it is THE great mystery.

On Thursday, we went to Oxford’s highly regarded concert in the park.  The act was the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony, which played Sousa music and other great American patriotic songs.  Besides watching the boys flirt with two girls sitting behind us, they did a pretty good job of entertaining each other, as this video demonstrates:

Hope you are having  a great summer, and enjoy Independence Day!