Teaching Your Kids How To Shop For Christmas

I love teaching my son how to be a man. You know things like hunting, fishing and other manly things that men do. One manly thing I am excited to pass along to The Fox is Christmas shopping. Every man needs to know how to manage their time and be an efficient holiday shopper. Get in and get out. That’s the plan. 
Let’s face it, if you’re shopping before 5pm on Christmas Eve, you’re doing it wrong. Way wrong. 
The first lesson is to find a place that is more likely than not open on Christmas Eve. Your best bet, a gas station. Since the 80’s, most gas stations have been open on Christmas Day. They are a great place to shop for your loved ones. 

My advice is to avoid the smaller mom and pop gas stations because they will not have an awesome selection of possible Christmas gifts. Another thing that you need to teach your kid is speed. You are not on a shopping expedition. This is a strategic shopping mission. In saying this, do not select a gas station you have never been to before. Always, select your home station. You know, the one you frequent the most. Go to the gas station where the older clerks call you “sweetie” and “baby”. That means they know you and understand you. Also, they know why you’re there and won’t judge you. You’re holiday shopping secret is safe with them. 

The goal is to get in and out as fast as possible. This is a military operation. Find what you need for your spouse and siblings and get out. Do not dilly dally in the chip aisle. You’re there to shop for a couple Christmas presents for loved ones, not yourself. Well, unless they are having a sale on roller dogs. Mmmmmm roller dogs. 
My home gas station is Speedway. Why? Because they are modernizing most of their stations. They have cafes and are stocking them with a ton of retail items. If you can find one that sells diesel, you can surprise your wife with a CB radio. 

If you and your son cannot decide what to buy, I would like to suggest some practical items such as motor oil, beef jerky and or donuts. Donuts make a fantastic gift. Ask yourself this, who doesn’t love donuts. If you decide to buy donuts, make sure you get the Christmas sprinkles ones. Your wife will love those. Trust me. 
Have a Merry Christmas. 


Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich


My peanut butter and jelly sandwich

I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for MaM yesterday. Usually, Michelle is the children’s lunch master. On this day, I was the lunch making master. And a pretty damn good one. 

When you have older children, you become a short order chef for certain meals. Lunch is one of them. Dinner is not. Ask the boss. She will tell you that. You eat what is on the table or not at all. Kids can be picky eaters. This means there are not going to be many different food requests from them. As was the case with my lunch duty. The kids wanted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I have not had one of these in a long time. I am more of a roast beef and ham type of guy. As I was making the meals, the PB&J treat reminded me of my youth. 

As I prepared this lunch, getting the bread and jelly from the fridge and the peanut butter from the cupboard. I remember my mom making these sandwiches when I was a child. I’m not sure why, the PB&J sandwich always reminds me of summer. 

I can think back to a time, many years ago, having lunch with my friends at summer day camp at Hayes Park in Chicago. I can smell the grass, the sandwich and my smashed up chips. Let’s face it, the chips always got smashed. But, this is one of the few foods which make me think of being a kid. 

Of course this dream is ruined when MaM deconstructs the sandwich to pick off the thicker parts of the jelly. “Mommy always picks these parts off!” she yelled as The Fox mentioned to me mommy “knows not to put jelly on the peanut butter and jelly sandwich”. 

Parenting picky eater is hard. This is going to be a long summer. 

What foods make you think of your youth?  


Reading This Summer

This summer, we are encouraging the kids to improve their reading and writing. You can never read enough. 
Michelle and I do not plan to be “tiger parents”. We want the kids to improve their reading and spend less time I front of a screen. Sorry, we’re not going e-books this summer. MaM already asked. 
I didn’t read a lot as a child. I should say, I don’t remember reading a lot as a child. I know what you’re thinking, look at this guy, I’m starting my kid on a reading program right now. 
I found reading late in life. Not a bad thing, just not my thing when I was younger. I don’t read as much as I’d like to and I don’t read paper books as much as I like to either. 
Books should be something children have access to. When MaM was born, we signed her up for a literacy program, through the Dolly Parton Foundation, and we received an age appropriate book every month. When they are one to two years old. They received picture books. Unfortunately, the program was hugely successful and they ran out of money. The Fox didn’t get to enter that program. We really loved that program. 
This summer the kids can earn some extra screen time on the weekends. Right now we are testing a screen time match program. Read 20 minutes, you get 20 minutes of screen time. Fight or argue, you lose screen time. 
What are you doing to keep the educational spark alive with your children? 

Note-This is part of a daily writing exercise to improve my writing. My goal is to publish something about what’s going on in my life each day. Thank you for reading.  

Summer Time РDay One 

 First, well second day of summer for our family. Tomorrow will be the first weekday off of summer. This time off seems so long at the Easter break. A couple months off from school. Then you start filling the calendar. 

While driving to church today, MaM asked about having a birthday party on her birth date in early August. She became a little disappointed when we had to tell her she couldn’t have a friends party on her birth date. Why, it’s a weekday and it’s the back to school night. I can’t believe we are already looking at the back to school night. 
This made me think about how soon they are going back to school. Two months. Eight weeks.
When you add in all the normal summer things families do during June and July, vacations, birthday parties, weddings, scout summer camps and a week at the grandparents, the time will go by extremely fast. I sat there driving to church thinking holy cow.
Growing up in Chicago, we got out of school just after the beginning of June and went back in late August/ early September. I know, that was then. But, the summer seemed like an eternity. Baseball or football every single day. Don’t forget swimming. Had to do that everyday as well. And we did everything every single day. Then we got up at 8am the next morning and did it all again until the street lights came on signaling it was time to go home. 
This summer is going to be a fun one for the kids. This is the first year they get to play with kids who live in the neighborhood. In the old neighborhood, there were a lot of grandkids who visited. This is also the first summer they are both riding bikes on their own. 
Another family tradition we are going to start this year is playing four square as much as we can. I think the kids like playing with me because I can’t hold my phone. Another tradition I’m going to start is being more “present” when I’m home with he kids. I’m going to log off more and be there more. 

In an effort to reduce screen time, we are limiting it to the afternoon time. For all other parts of the day, they need to find something else to do. 
What are you summer plans?  
Note-This is part of a daily writing exercise to improve my writing. My goal is to publish something about what’s going on in my life each day. Thank you for reading. 

Open Letter To My Son On His First Day Of School


Today is the first day of school for The Fox. Wow. It has been a fast five years and an even faster eight years for MaM. One area where I think I failed as a parent, is sending MaM to school without any good advice. So, as I sat down after putting The Fox to bed, I started thinking of things he should know when starting his academic career.

1. There are stupid questions. Avoid them.
2. Stay away from any kid who brings dice to school. He’s either going to be into playing Craps or Dungeons and Dagons.
3. Kick’s someone’s ass on the first day so you don’t have to be someone’s bitch.
4. Whenever someone starts laughing at you, go right up to them and ask “What do you mean I’m funny? Funny how? Like a clown? I amuse you?”
5. Do not buy any elevator passes.
6. Don’t eat paste.
7. Most of all, have fun and be yourself.

Especially number six, have fun. A lot of times learning can be fun. I hope you see that early on and we can’t wait to hear about your first day.

Crocs and Cowboy Boots: A Father and A Son


My son, The Fox, gets his fashion sense from me. But, I bet you know that. That’s also the reason my wife is at a wedding and The Fox and I are staring at the black box, in the kitchen, trying to figure out how to make food.

Why do I exercise?


To be able see Thing One and Thing Two become adults. I don’t want to die of something I could have prevented.