Positively Productive

School ended a week ago yesterday. Yes, one of the benefits of being a teacher is summers off. While I certainly enjoy having more time and space, I am not the kick back and relax type. In fact, my wife has noted that during the first two weeks of the summer, I use my extra time to look around and feel dissatisfied. You see, one of the lessons I continually learn about myself is I like to feel productive.

So, I made a list of things that I plan on accomplishing in order to have a productive summer. Some of these things are family-related: help BR to feel comfortable riding a bike, help SY improve his reading skills, and go through the kids’ old books. Some are house-related: organize the unmarked CDs (I started last summer).

However, the majority of the list is about me: writing, reading, learning and exercising, etc. It’s a long list and somewhat demanding – requiring time, concentration, and dedication. Isn’t that what goals are for? Well, that’s what I was taught to believe. The only way to grow is to push yourself.

Do you remember the Flintsones’ episode when Fred has an angel on one side and a devil on the other to symbolize his internal conflict? The angel, of course, tries to push him to do the right thing and share the sweepstakes ticket while the devil advises Fred to keep the ticket for himself. I can empathize with Fred. The angel tells me it’s only been a week and I have been productive and besides, I’m entitled to some down time after another challenging school year. It is comforting and exhilarating. The devil tells me nothing is happening this summer, I’ve accomplished zilch, and I have little hope of making things better. It’s depressing and heavy.

So, what’s it going to be – the angel or the devil, the optimist or the pessimist, the doer or the naysayer? It’s time for me to learn the lesson of productivity and positivty again – I want to accomplish.

The Journey to 100!

My father used to love to watch Willard Scott wish people Happy 100th birthday. While he missed out on the magical triple digit by 35 years, he still appreciated the number. I suppose it was the accountant in him. Anyway, something about 100 is magical. Television shows like to celebrate their 100th episode. In fact, if you google 100th episode, you will note 14 million responses. It generally occurs in the 5th season and means syndication and money. I like those 100th episodes – it’s the ‘look-back’ episode. You watch it and find yourself saying things like, “Wow they were young,” or “That episode was hilarious,” and “I remember that one.” Again, something about the number 100 seems to be meaningful.

Well, on that note, this is my 100th blog entry. It has been just over 10 months since I entered the blogosphere. I have learned a few things in that time. Firstly, there are so many good writers out there. I am on WordPress all the time (every one of my computers pulls up WordPress as soon as I hit the letter W) reading other people’s blogs. Many of them are touching, funny, sad, uplifting, or some combination. As there seem to be more women than men blogging, I have also learned about my wife. She is not the only mom who is crazy for her kids and sometimes just plain crazy. Anyway, I subscribe to a number of blogs and enjoy each post sent. However, there are three blogs that I want to mention in particular.

robertjhorton: The blog is actually entitled My Secret Garden. Based on his blog, Robert is a very busy person and somehow finds a way to blog every day. It is definitely worthwhile reading as he spans many topics. Each post is well written and often thoughtful and funny.

allthingsboys: I can especially appreciate this blog as I come from a family of all boys and my wife and I have two ourselves. I also like that this blog talks about kids older than mine – I get a sense of the future. Uh-oh!

linneann: The blogger is a very talented writer who often touches on very personal topics and handles each in a compassionate and sensitive way. I also appreciate the awesome comments she has made on my blog.

One of biggest reasons I started my blog is for the opportunity to have people read my work and get feedback. I LOVE when people make comments and I so very much enjoy the dialogue that often ensues. So, I would like to think all of you that have stopped by and given this blog a look see. I especially appreciate those who are followers. It amazes me that some read each entry and look forward to it. Awsome, just awesome.

Three people were especially helpful and encouraging when it came to starting the blog. Firstly, my wife has encouraged me to write a blog for a long time, “You’d be good at it.” She was right though she may regret it now as I don’t know if she is quite as comfortable being ‘out there’ as I am. By the way, she is also an incredibly talented editor. A friend of mine, R, also had been encouraging me to start a blog. He gives excellent feedback. Don’t worry buddy – I’ll get to a website one of these days. Lastly, a friend of mine who I met last summer – A – insisted. He pushed me to start a blog and would not take no for an answer. He is a very motivational person, and I appreciate the help he has given me.

Lastly, I thank my children – BR & SY. They are my inspiration.

Now, for those who may be reading for the first time, welcome. For you and longer time readers, I will catch you up a bit – kind of like they did on Grey’s Anatomy.

1. I am amazing at food shopping – possibly the one skill where I have Olympian-like potential.

2. I still have not been back to the doctor and am not looking forward to that ‘moment.’

3. I have grown more attached to my phone but am still not cell phone obsessed.

4. I have yet to hang the kitchen door in my house.

5. I am still sleep deprived like every other parent of young children.

Well, you are sort of caught up. I hope each of you will continue to stay tuned to memyselfandkids. What the hell – tell a friend. Keep the comments coming and THANKS.

Ring Ring

When I was younger, it was very exciting to get a phone call.  In fact, other than my birthday, I rarely received phone calls.  At times, the phone was intimidating. I remember a Wonder Years episode where Kevin, the protagonist, is intensely deliberating calling a girl while he is staring at the phone.  It seems to go on for hours, and is suddenly interrupted when the phone rings.

These days, email, text, and Facebook are many individuals’ preferred way of communication.  People don’t want to talk on the phone. When the phone rings in my house, nary a move is made. Ultimately, we check the caller id and a decision is made as to whether or not to pick it up.  I am convinced this reaction is typical.  Yes, the phone call has gone out of vogue, its romance faded. In this, I am a throwback. I get a real high from a good conversation, enjoy hearing someone’s voice who I haven’t heard from in a while or who has something to share.  However, sometimes what they have to share is not something I want to hear.

By this point the school year is two months old and the classes are developing a rhythm. Problems that were looked upon as adjustment issues are now seen as something more. If that’s the case, phone calls are made to parents to discuss. We parents hold our breath – no phone calls please. Well, this week we received the call, one we did not want to hear. We knew it was coming – the email announced it was coming. My wife waited for the caller id to announce the school official was calling. She took a deep breath before picking up the phone.  I saw her smiling at the beginning of the conversation. You might think this would put me at ease, but it didn’t.  It seems that $15,000 plus tuition for my son’s school ensures that school officials tell parents how much they love their kids as the first part of the phone call. I am convinced that the first thing new hires learn is that whenever communicating with parents, tell them how much they love having their kids as students.   Well, the call went on for some time, and when my wife finally hung it up, she felt a sense of relief.  Maybe, the phone call is making a comeback.  However, I’m still reserving judgment.

TV Time

It is that time of the year again. No, I don’t mean the leaves changing colors, school starting back up, or the opening of a new football season. I am referring to something truly irrelevant – the new season of television shows.

I enjoy the whole couch potato thing as much as the next guy.  However at this point in my life, I rarely get the opportunity to melt into the sofa – too busy!   Despite that, I like to read the reviews of the new and returning television shows.  When I come upon a show that piques my interest, I keep it mind. However, I rarely actually watch the show. I go through a 2-step process. The first step is me deciding that I want to try and make time to watch the show.  The second step, which is nearly as important, is remembering to actually watch it if I somehow find the time.  Despite these time and memory constraints, I do manage to watch some shows.

There is one show, however, which I go out of my way to make time for – Modern Family.  The show comes on ABC at 9:00 on Wednesdays. No, this is not a paid advertisement. Anyway, the show revolves around 3 families who are connected by a 60ish man named Jay. One of the above noted families is Jay’s  which consists of his younger second wife and her 11 year old son. The second family is composed of Cameron and Mitchell (Jay’s son) and their adopted daughter. The third family which is the traditional nuclear family comprises Phil and Claire (Jay’s daughter) and their three children.  As you may have noticed, two of the families are the non-nuclear family which seems less and less common these days – hence the title.  Anyway, I find the show to be hilarious. There have been a number of episodes or scenes which have left me guffawing so loudly that I had to remind myself to be quiet (my wife’s shush and smack also help), so that I do not wake my children. 

So, when 9:00 Wednesday rolls around, I strive to make my appointment. Yes, I do occasionally miss the appointment due to some real life obligation such as mopping the floor, marking papers, or putting a child to bed. However, if the responsibility can be put off, “No I don’t hear him choking,” I watch my favorite show. Life and the bills can wait.