Why Being a Dad in America is so Great
My youngest had two questions for me today that I could not answer. Not for lack of knowledge but solely because I couldn't breathe from laughing so hard. While at +LongHorn Steakhouse I was presented with the age old question... Do cowboys poop? These kind of hard-nosed, fact-finding, soul-probing questions are exactly what parenting is about. Be prepared, for anything!
 
Once we got home it was time to get ready for bed. I was approached by no less than three of four children, that's a 75% for those of you keeping track, and notified of a spider by the toilet. Sound the alarm, I'm going in. After killing said spider in the bathroom, I was asked by the same 4-year old... Do spiders have venomin? Kinda like I Love Lucy's infamous vitametavegamin.
 
It's so hard to be so good!
That's not an attempt to get sued by +VH1 either. Let me share this with you though. Monday was nothing to advertise about so we'll skip to Thursday. Thursday "started" around 1500, that's 3PM to the rest of the world, where my realtor from +Keller Williams met me at +M/I Homes to go over some options for the house we're building. Walked out with everything I wanted and didn't pay a dime! WIN! The house is still a dirt lot but the property next door is going up quickly which means we're next.




 
From there I went to my +Holyrood Lodge and was raised to Master Mason. An achievement in itself, surpassed only by the men that took part in it with me. A HUGE thanks to +Bro Juan Giraldo, +Bro Max Griffin-Maya +Jeff Popovich +Bro Mike Goldman and the rest of the team for "doing it right".








And that was just my Thursday! Finally it's Friday and work went off without a hitch. Next thing I know I'm heading for the door planning my weekend which was to include the oldest boy's golf lessons at 9. Not a whole lot of sleeping it but it beats waking up at 0515! It was made better by the +Dunkin' Donuts on the way while "Highway to the Danger Zone" blasted from the 80's channel on the radio. No rain in the forecast meant I got to take the family to the +Campo YMCA for 3 hours to float around in someone else's urine; a.k.a. swimming; bake until a golden brown then remove from pool. Followed that up with some lunch and ice cream at Chick Fil A.







Now I'm sitting in my air conditioner thinking the only thing that could make this weekend any better is looking out and seeing +Yosemite National Park...
10 years ago in +Valdosta Georgia the first of a legacy was born! Happy Birthday!
How do you know you're a bada$$ dad? You teach your 6, 8, and 10 year old how to play +axis and allies! THAT'S how you know!
I got the chance to sit down the other night for cigars and good conversation with an 80-something year old football coach (and former Penn State college player himself), a retired fellow with grandkids, and my realtor who is also a swell gentleman. What I learned was that baseball is no longer just cards and stale bubblegum. At my age in the game I'd better know some stats. Since I'm clueless in that department I added my "Go +St. Louis Cardinals " to which was answered by blank stares and emptiness. Thinking I'd blown it and just before resorting to the recovery comment of "just kidding", the older guy, known as "Coach", comes in with "They're a good team, now!" Yes, I know, that's why I said it.

Moral of the story is: "It is better to remain silent and let men think of you a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt." Fortunately this one turned out okay. On that note... How about a picture! This is one of my favorites from this past fall's Cub Scout camping trip. It's me and two of our Tiger-den dad's +Austin Montgomery and +Kyle Walters. In our Pack you can't be a good leader without inappropriately short shorts. Dwell on it, soak it in, it's time to begin another year!
I'm sure most parent's' Saturdays are busy with something but does everyone start at 0600? Here we are at the +Campo TampaYMCA puttin' in work while +Christeena Phillips is at pre-'Masters' training with Jonathan Glen. For those of you that live in a hole, the "Masters" is a golf event.
Sometimes there are some +MilitaryHomecoming shows that are pretty good. I think this video wins for "extra credit" though... I remember leaving and hugs and kisses and all that but it was the stepping off the jet, coming home, feeling like I had done something great that was so exhilarating.

I stood at the top of the stairs, the last guy off the jet, with my Alabama baseball cap on, ABUs all stinky from a long flight, and life-size +Marvel Entertainment Captain America shield in hand. The only thing missing was an American Flag waving in the background. At the bottom of the stairs were four turds and a smokin'-hot wife ready to resume a normal life again.

Unfortunately, it's not that way for everyone. Apparently the Veteran's Administration is almost a year behind on providing psychiatric/mental health care to our veterans. As a nation we've been complaining about the consistently sick or wounded people but now we're seeing more and more cases of mental and psychological suffering.

There are several programs that you can get involved with to help:
  • The Wounded Warrior Project has chapters in cities and towns across America.
  • The +Veterans of Foreign Wars have always been involved in making sure that Veterans find the help they need, or a cheap beer and good chat.
  • Military One Source is a 24/7 1-800 number that connects you with the agencies that veterans need and also provide free counseling services with any psychiatric service you need, no records, no questions.
  • Finally, there's an app coming to the android market that's already hit iPhone called POS REP. It's a digital signal flair connecting military and veteran "members" and uses a Google Map-type of locating service. When in doubt, send it out! A touch of a button allows you to send up a digital "call for help" alerting any subscribed veteran's in your area to your SOS. The app is on the iPhone store and can be downloaded for free from www.pos-rep.com.
Do what you can, get in where you fit in, and let's take care of one another.
Below is a link to a pretty amazing RC pilot. Even though it's a helicopter, I still recommend viewing.
http://www.break.com/index/insane-skill-with-an-rc-helicopter-2493215
Now that's over.. I've enjoyed RC flying as recently as my fifth wedding anniversary when my wife bought me my first R/C aircraft. My God! What a sight! The crash I mean. After several successful flights it made one not so successful flight and clipped a tree limb... boom. I salvaged the radio, engine, and electronics to go into a new aircraft.

Instead though, I bought a parkflyer and the kids want to fly it. I said no, they insist, I still say no. Then again, what harm could it do? Crash it before I get a chance to? Why not. Stay tuned, I'll post pics when it happens...
Adult Discipline Disorder

So let me share this with you...
Dusty Nash, an angelic looking blond child of 7, awoke at 5 one recent morning in his Chicago home and proceeded to throw a fit. He wailed, he kicked, every muscle in his 50 pound body flew in furious motion. Finally, after about 30 minutes, Dusty pulled himself together sufficiently to head down stairs for breakfast while his mother bustled about the kitchen, the hyper kinetic child pulled a box of +KiX Cereal from the cupboard and sat on a chair. But sitting still was not in the cards this morning. After grabbing some cereal with his hands he began kicking the box, scattering little round corn puffs across the room. Next, he turned his attention to the TV set, or rather the table supporting it. The table was covered with checkerboard contact-paper and Dusty began peeling it off. Then, he became intrigued with the spilled cereal and starting stomping it to bits. At this point his mother interceded. In a firm but calm voice she told her son to get the stand-up dust pan and broom and clean up the mess. Dusty got out the dust-pan but forgot the rest of the order. Within seconds he was dismantling the plastic dust pan, piece by piece. His next project: grabbing three rolls of toilet paper from the bathroom and unraveling them around the house. It was only 730 AM!
This is the story in my most recent textbook titled "Development Across the Lifespan" written by Robert S. Feldman describing typical ADD/ADHD behavior. I was just curious, at what point is your child waking up at 5AM to throw a tantrum, normal? Why did he get himself cereal and why do you have puffed sugar +KiX Cereal to feed him while you're making something else? WTF MOM?!!! Finally, why was the TV a substitute for the parenting here? How about you told Dusty to do something, he'd better do it. That might mean you put down the spatula OR apply it firmly to his buttocks! Your choice.

I can tell you that in my house, if this is going on before 0730 or anytime between 0100 and 2359, you're dead! I guarantee you'd better have a better excuse than "I need Ritalin"! Parents need to start parenting and quit making excuses for THEIR behavior. There's a huge difference between "I can't stay focused" and "I'm being a douche-bag before breakfast" and medication isn't the treatment. Start with a healthy diet. I know it's not cheap but neither are pharmaceuticals or repairing the damage they cause. Next, remove distractors that are obvious contributors to bad behavior. Finally, PARENT!
Read it again, slower this time, yup it's a word. According to Jonathan Glen it is anyway. "Groundation" is what he's been on for the past few days.

Jonathan Glen: "Mom, how much longer am I on 'groundation' from the Wii?"

Mom: "On what?"

Me: "'Groundation' babe, try and keep up."

Mom: "What on earth is that?"

Jonathan Glen: "You said I couldn't play Wii for some weeks, remember?"

Me: "Yeah, mom, remember? You ground-ated him, hence, 'groundation'."

Mom: "You're an idiot..." (to me, obviously)

On second thought, I don't think she said that so much as her body language, stare, and maybe even her lips mouthed it. Yes, he has been grounded from the Wii because the four of them were fighting over the two remotes.
Boom! Groundation!
"Commands will choose airmen for special duty jobs" http://feedly.com/k/18m4Sqb
You can check me out on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/greatamericandad and Twitter @Gr8americandad

If you were to ask 20 people what it meant to them to be a Freemason you'd get 21 different answers. But what does it mean to me and why is it in my "Dad" blog?

Without recalling the history of freemasonry, which you can Google on your own, it is simply the art of "making good men better." Last night at +Holyrood Lodge I completed my Fellow Craft degree and will be raised to the sublime degree of +Master Mason at the end of this month. But I digress... Last night I stood there and did something that I haven't been able to do in a long time; I listened. I listened as a 60-something year old man told me about his 31 year old daughter as he recalled the "piano lessons, the dance recitals, the horse riding, saving for college" and on and on as I thought to myself "does it ever end?" He finished his story with "but that's what it's all about, right?"

I asked myself, what is 'that' of which he is speaking of? 'THAT' is the giving of yourself until it hurts, taking 800mg of Motrin, and giving some more. Letting your children live life to the fullest so that they can have the opportunities you didn't. Jesus said that He came so that we "may have life and have it more abundantly." I'm not going to question a dude that walks on water so you can postulate that on your own time. Our children are already "alive" but are they really living?

Tomorrow I'm going to wake up at 0600 on a weekend and take my eldest daughter to her second swim meet while her youngest two siblings and I cheer her on. My eldest son is going with mom to his weekly golf lesson and we'll get home around noon and do something together for a few more hours before I get ready for work the next day and that's it. That's life. That's what I do.

To me, the best part of Freemasonry is listening. Knowing that the people I have surround myself with, fellow husbands, fathers, grandfathers, and even great-grandfathers, have more wisdom than I do about certain subjects and I can shutup and just listen.

My grandfather told me an old proverb... "It is better to remain silent and let men think of you a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." Make sure that what we're telling our children is right. Make sure that it is virtuous and moral and not leading our children into darkness because we decided to open our mouths and remove all doubt from our children's trust that we are fools.
No, my title does not refer to the song. For me, today was like any other un-eventful Friday. Typically, how I like them. But this is how it started for my wife and how it could have ended up for me...

You See, What Had Happened Was...

My wonderfully awesome wife (no, I didn't get hacked) arose early like most other weekdays and got our four children, ages 4, 6, 8, and 9, up and dressed, fed, and out the door by 7:30 this morning for our eldest-daughter's swim team practice. This isn't abnormal for her, just another reason why she's the bee's knees and why I don't qualify for her job. The +Campo YMCA is only a few miles from the house so the drive is relatively uneventful. This morning she had all the kids loaded up in the Expedition and rather than her usual jug of water she decided to make herself a cup of coffee. About a mile from the house she came to the only major intersection between here and there; a four lane road separated by a simple traffic light with opposing turn-signals. Relatively well controlled and no reason for any unfamiliarity. But in this story it was the little things that saved her; her and everything precious in my life... in that instant.

As she approached the light she was practically the only person on the road in all directions. For her, in the turn lane, the light was red. She stopped and amidst all the chatter from the kids, music blasting, and God-only knows what other distractions, her turn signal turned green. Looking down to grab her coffee she noticed that the lid was a little off-kilter. It was at this moment that I can be glad for her OCD. She looked in her rearview mirror again and didn't see anyone coming so sitting at the green turn signal wasn't going to kill anyone, literally. She looked down to fidget with the lid again and one more check in the rearview to snap the lid down. This whole process took about two or three seconds and as she lifts her foot off of the brake the large, steel-framed +Ford Expedition began to lurch towards the still-green turn signal.

So far this story is boring and uneventful, just how you'd want any morning to start. But this is where the little things added up to one grateful, and not fateful, ending. It was at that moment when she lifted her foot off the brake and began to gain speed towards her green turn signal that a construction dump-truck, freshly loaded with dirt and gravel, ran his red light going the speed limit plus some, and crossed her path from right to left, just missing her. Had she gone on her green light like I always nag her about not doing, she and everyone in the truck would be dead. My wife and best-friend for over a decade along with my four children whom I pray over and pour into everyday would have been killed instantly by the fast-moving truck that would have struck the passenger-side rear quarter panel killing the kids first before moving the twisted mass of metal and flesh towards its eventual end.

I'm not looking forward to the realistic possibility of having to go in to work this weekend but it sure beats going to your kids' funerals and putting your wife into the ground. I couldn't wish that on even my worst enemy.

IF, the Middle Word in 'LIFE'

IF that had happened I wouldn't have known until after I got home. I can't carry my phone all the time at work and it's not abnormal not to get a text if she's having a busy day. I would've gotten home to an empty home and not done much about it until close to dinner time. At least she would've invited me out to dinner... right? Unfortunately, the +Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office probably would've been waiting in my driveway IF this had happened.

IF she would've had water like she usually does instead of coffee, IF she would've gone on green and not waited at that light like I always nag her about, IF she wouldn't have fidgeted with her lid and let her OCD get the best of her, IF she would've left the house one second later.... I'd be alone. If any one of these ingredients was removed from the recipe the outcome would have been fatal. I'm sure there are other contributors that held her up at the house, too. I'm sure there was another discussion about why the girls have to brush her hair and why the boys had to go to her swim practice and on and on.

But praise God that the "little things" interfered with her life. I don't know whom this blessing was for; her for being alive or for me not being alone.

Lesson Learned, I Swear
 
So what did we learn today?
  • I've always looked both ways, even on green lights, before going through intersections. Now, you can bet I'm going to look AND wait!
  • Be grateful for the little interruptions during the day. They give you that extra second you may need to say goodbye to someone.
  • Rejoice in the trials and victories through life! I don't know where I'd be right now if "IF" would have happened.
Today started like any other day, actually, that's a lie... No two-days are the same. I went downstairs and peeked out the window to see a gentle breeze blowing and that meant flying! My boys have two Styrofoam airplanes, the kind you throw and the wings pop off and you re-attach them and throw again, and had waited through a terrible storm yesterday to fly them. I had purchased a new R/C aircraft from +Horizon Hobby called a ParkZone flyer and wanted to fly it, too.

We ran outside, still in our pajamas, and immediately I began shaking. I mean like a kid on Christmas morning that sees a package wrapped suspiciously like the bicycle he's wanted all year. I set the new plane down and throttled it up for some taxi checks followed by a deep-breath and mental boost of confidence. I thought to myself, "You can do this! You're a pilot with several hundred hours! Lock it up!" throttled up gently and off she went. After about 10 feet she lifted off with ease and I could feel my body getting lighter as it rose higher and higher into the air. By this time she's only about two feet off the deck but to me it may as well be 30,000 feet! Immediately after that a gentle, but firm, gust of wind grounded the aircraft... thanks a lot mother nature. Those are my emotions that just went nose-first into the grass. But, I cut the throttle and she planted gently into our uncut grass with no damage to anything other than my ego. You know what? Maybe I should just let the kids enjoy the breeze? What follows is that account....

My youngest son lead the way with his ominous "Oooh, Daddy, you crashed it!" Yes, thank you son, I'm full aware of my aircraft's body-angle to the relative wind and subsequent full-stop in the grass. To which he promptly declared "Watch this, Daddy!" and he launched his Styrofoam Dreamliner from his hand, into the wind, and into his dreams forever. The look on his face, even when the wings popped off, was fantastic! My oldest son looked like a young Lindbergh as he ran down the street, arm extended high over his head, ready to release his aircraft into the wind. The result was dramatic... rise, apex, loop, decent, and landing. Over and over the cycle repeated itself. I grabbed my lawn chair and enjoyed the show. My youngest son, on the other hand, had flown/crashed/modified his so much that the repairs had caused significant and dramatic negative effects to the airfoil. Translation: he had too much tape on his to fly! He didn't notice though and loved it for what it was... Flying!

I have held a private pilot's license from the FAA for over 20 years and I still remember my first time at the controls. In the last years of what I will call the "Golden Age" of flying you could still visit the flight deck of commercial jets and chat with the flight crew. I had flown so often when I was younger that I knew the "Unaccompanied Minor" procedures better than most stewardesses. I also had quite a collection of those little plastic wings that you used to get on the flights. It was magical! Just being airborne was exhilarating! Being at the controls was incomparable, but sharing my two son's first flight... "Priceless"

A good friend of mine had told me a story about one of his colleagues that had met his "hero", a famous architect who had essentially invented the geodesic domes that you see around the country as well as an element of carbon previously undiscovered. At any rate, the story goes that after meeting him he asked "...how do you do it? How, at the age of 86, do you stay on top? Ahead of your game?" The "hero" answered, "I ride a hobby horse." He stared blankly at his hero and thought it must be some deep meaning and nodded approvingly. The elderly man looked at him, knowing that he was obviously lost, and said "Would you like to see it?" He led him into his bedroom where he pulled his hobby horse out of his closet, literally a child's wooden hobby horse. Ignoring his guest's look of astonishment he told him, "Every morning I wake up, the same I have for the past 80-plus years, and then I ride my hobby horse. I ride my hobby horse and don't think about anything. I clear my mind and allow myself to 'think like a child'." It was the "think like a child" part that you're supposed to get out of this. Children are not fettered by their knowledge, or what they think they know. They don't know how badly a stove can burn them regardless of your repeated warnings not to touch it. Think like a child, outside of the box, free from the constrictions of the world that we have experienced and the doubt that paralyzes us from accomplishing our dreams!

My sons didn't care that their airplane's wings popped off every time they threw it, or that they had to chase the airplane down, re-assemble it, run back, and re-launch it. They didn't care that the wind was far outside of the envelope for successful flight or that it wasn't a "real" airplane to being with. They were having fun, feeding their immediate desires, and just enjoying the moment. They weren't worried about anything or anyone not directly related to their happiness... And I enjoyed the moment from my new lawn chair.
Positives:
What a great "Origins" movie! I didn't know what to expect going into it and boy was I pleasantly surprised! If you're not familiar with Superman, don't worry. This movie is a great primer and I'm sure the sequel-prequels will be just as easy to follow. This was a good movie because it allowed you to meet all the characters without some deep dialogue establishing their "role", no pun intended. It stuck with the comic book as well as a modern-day moving picture could. Remember, the comic was written when type-writers were a big deal so the concept of "how Superman got his powers" was a little more intricate than how he came about them in the movie. Of course, it's easier to SHOW you than TELL you...

Negatives:
Violence. But isn't it always? It's almost a matter of how much are you willing to tolerate as opposed to how violent can the violence be before you won't let your kids watch it. In this movie the harm was very little and the most dynamic was all the planets getting blown up and the bad-guys always wanting to fight. Then again, it IS Superman...

Overall Review: 1 being worst-5 being the best

Family Friendliness - 4
This movie is suitable for the entire family and has enough action to keep the kids paying attention while adding enough drama to keep your spouse engaged. There are some thematic elements and fantasy violence played out but nothing that's un-explainable to an 8-year old. Considering I have an 8 year old, that's an honest assessment. I gauged it this way; after my son saw it with his grandfather he was eager to tell me about "the skull that was missing its jaw that they put in the baby!" Obviously he had missed the point of it but I think this clearly illustrates my point for the rating here.

Violence - 3
Like I said, the violence was left to space ships blowing each other up and all-in-all I suppose it's relatively harmless however, when you're kids get home and start blowing up their Legos... NOW there's a problem! There was no blood flying or guts getting blasted open which I was glad to see, or not see. The only scene where there was physical hands-on death was when one of the characters killed another character off-screen. While you didn't see anything, it was implied and we got the point. Nothing that will require counseling and honestly I'd give it a 5 for almost no violence except the struggle for good always seems to involve conflict. What do you want to teach your children about conflict resolution?

If we, as parents, honestly believe that our children are old enough to separate fantasy from reality then by all means, buy their tickets and send them on their way while you and the wife see something else. However, I can assure you that if you don't pay very close attention to the environment you are surrounding your child with then the behavior you start to notice will be your own fault. I can watch Harry Potter and understand that no matter how hard I try nothing is coming out of the end of a twig no matter how hard I shake it at someone. Children don't.

Language - 5
This is one area I was pleasantly surprised at. Either I've been numbed to it or there really wasn't any foul language here at all. At the end one character asks him "What the EFF was that all about?!" He literally says EFF and not the F-bomb! I was pleasantly surprised. After all, this is a children's superhero, let's leave it for them.

Overall - 4
Overall I'd like to give this thing a 5 but with the markdowns in violence I really can't. Yes, there are "5" movies out there, even without crassness. Just check with Disney! This movie is still fun for the entire family. The youngest ones might not make it through a 2 and 1/2 hour movie but that's not their fault. I'd say stick to 8 and up on this one. Their cognitive thinking is about the right "age" to grasp the fun in the fantasy and still sleep well enough at night. Go see it!

Parting Thoughts:
One line that really caught my attention was a statement by one of the characters. He said "I fight for Krypton. That's what I was created for!" Although he was trying to destroy earth, I almost didn't blame him. After all, he was only trying to preserve his own race. He was doing what he was created to do, he just wound up meeting the wrong guy while he was trying to do it.

It reminded me a lot of America's history. Considering that we're barely 250 years old, as a nation, it's hard to look at ourselves and think we've done anything in our current history that wasn't self-motivated! Weren't we just fighting for our own Krypton? Yes, we're so kind that we've rushed to the aid of poor-helpless countries without taking anything for ourselves on the way out. We're American! It's what we're created for, right?

+Superman Homepage +DC Comics +Focus on the Family +Fandango 
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