Everybody needs a woobie.

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The best sleep of my life has always been under the stars. Mostly I think it was due to the fact I was dead tired but there is something about the fresh air that makes you sleep deeply.

Many nights we just laid on the ground and slept. Just stopped walking and laid right down. Dirt, mud, water was the bed for the night. No tents and the only time sleeping bags were allowed it had to be 32 or below.

The only thing we carried for sleeping was our poncho liner, aka the woobie.

A poncho liner was just a nylon blanket, wicked thin and usually very old, that you could tie to your poncho for extra warmth.

I bought a woobie on ebay maybe 20 years ago because I missed having one around.

The family might have a quilt to cover up while watching a movie, I’ve got my woobie.

I can’t really articulate why I love it so much. I’m pretty sure you could ask any toddler the same question, they don’t know why but they love it.

We all need a woobie no matter how old we get.

(I sometimes wish I could bring it to work.)

Time and influence.

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I was at an elementary school today helping a few people and I spied these bottles in the corner. At first I thought it was one of those reward jars until I looked a little closer.

The jar to the far left represents how many weeks you have from birth to 18. You can figure out the rest.

She had these as a reminder of how much time she has left until her son turns 18. 52 short weeks of influence left. A tiny amount of time and a tremendous amount of influence until he leaves for whatever is next for him.

It got me thinking about the last 52 weeks of my life and this one song came to mind.

 

The song makes me think of my brother PT. What we wouldn’t give for just 52 more weeks or even 52 minutes.

In a blink of an eye everything changed and he was suddenly gone.

So many things left unsaid.

So many stories not shared.

Those bottles and this song has me thinking about not letting time go by without really holding on to each second.

Sometimes people say there are good times and bad, but what if they are really all good times? The bad usually fades quickly anyway.

Savor the good and it is all good.

(PS – the kids are still not allowed to use their electronic devices. savoring is wicked hard right now but I am trying.)

There is always an open door somewhere but

sometimes you need a pair of scissors.

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Today was like any other workday.

Before leaving the house I use the Starbucks app to order a cold brew coffee. I love cold brew. The only thing better is nitrogen coffee. I buy that at another place from time to time. I always buy that one with cash to hide how expensive it is.

When I opened the straw I was confronted with something I had never seen before. One end of the straw was sealed shut. Shut! No using it for drinking coffee.

I could have used some scissors but I just held the straw for a while.

It spoke to me.

So many times in my life a door was closed.

That saying about a window opens when a door closes used to make me mad. It seems the people who say that are those with all the doors open.

This straw made me think of some of the Henry Rollins books that I have read. He has this saying about lemons that I just love. You can’t write it, you just need to hear it.

This straw reminded me that there isn’t always a window, sometimes you gotta make your own.

Sometimes you need to go full on Kool Aid man and crash through that wall.

Survived break!

It was a no technology break for the kids. Not because we are some great family or out of some desire to talk more, it was because the kids were breaking rules and being rude.

I was really hoping that after about ten days without social media, Netflix and video games the gravity of their actions would sink in.

Maybe I had forgotten what it was like to be 12 and 14. The world somehow centers on them and they don’t see outside of themselves very well.

Aidan did kinda clean his room. A tiny miracle.

Sammi is playing a board game right now with Aidan. If they actually reach the end of the game without yelling will be another tiny miracle.

I really thought it would be easier as they get older but it seems like it just gets more complicated as the year tic on by.

Painting baseboards reminded me of recess.

Nick sometimes brought his mom’s walkman to recess. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. The earbuds were just buds and the device only took one battery. I’m pretty sure it cost a fortune as there wasn’t anything else like it.

We listened to Billy Joel endlessly. Sometimes rewinding and listening to the same track over and over again.

Today I was painting baseboard listening to Pandora. Some Billy Joel song came on it and it transported me back. I hated school but hanging out with Nick made it worth showing up for.

I always thought if you had just one good friend in life it would be all be OK.

That is maybe my only regret from joining the Corps, it kinda broke something inside me when it comes to friendships. I can’t really explain what it is or what is missing. I think it is only something a vet can relate to.

Close reading.

I should really have read the cans much closer.

The day was kinda a disaster but this was the worst.

I bought a small quart can of satin white for the baseboards in the bathroom. They needed some work and I thought I could get it done while my wife was at work. I’m not super handy, painting makes me stressed.

There was something totally wrong with the paint, it was like I was painting with milk. It was thin and didn’t cover anything. I kinda thought it was like the glaze you use for ceramics.

I googled and even called my in-laws to see if they could help. No luck.

I did stir the paint. I stirred it for maybe ten minutes. It was still as thin as could be, couldn’t cover anything.

I took a picture of the baseboard and the paint can label and returned to the store. The guy took one look, maybe like only a second long, and grabbed a new can. Told me this is what I needed.

The cans were 99% identical. There was one tiny set of words I did not read, I didn’t even see it. The thin paint was a deep base, the other just said pure white.

All my frustration solved in one second by an expert. So easy for him but so hard for me.

 

Spring break…

I’m not sure I will survive this break.

We have imposed a no electronics until further notice.

No netflix. No streaming of any video. No social media. No fortnite. No texting friends. Nothing.

The kids were not being nice to us or each other. They did not do the simplest of tasks around the house. They were not following the electronic guidelines so we took all devices and access away.

Today we spent hours doing yard work.

Tomorrow it is supposed to rain all day. I’m thinking a trip to the public library.

We have crafty stuff to build and board games to play. I’m thinking that will last about five minutes.

They are playing the game of life right now. It teeters between arguing and laughing.

Feeling this creeping darkness seeping in.

Is it ever enough?

How do you get your kids ready for the world?

What conversations do you have to get them ready for what might happen?

How do you balance it between the good and evil?

Both kids have been in karate for years, maybe 7-8.

We chose this place because it is a bit gritty. The messages they are given and the lessons that are taught are exactly what I think they need.

Last night they had a chat about what is happening to another classmate at school. Something that terrifies me as a father of a middle school-aged kids.

Tiny Store.

Many years ago they opened a new tiny store in St. Louis. The idea was to create a tiny space where people could come and buy or get their stuff fixed.

They took a normal storefront at the mall and reduced the size of it to make it a mini version of their larger stores.

It hit me today, the purpose was to make it appear busy even when there were five people shopping.

Put twenty people in there, it was hard to get around.

Most days it was packed. So packed it was difficult to get from the front to the back.

When there was a hot selling item there was a line that stretched as far as you could see. People would stop and ask if the store was giving stuff away. Nothing was ever given away.

I don’t really know why I thought of this today. Maybe it was the eight billion meetings. Maybe there are times when things don’t always appear as they should. Maybe things are created by design but it takes a long time for it to sink in.

Is luck given or made?

I know a guy, who is now retired, who told me the secret to getting ahead was to hustle. Not swindle, but work hard and make your own luck.

That tiny bit of advice stuck with me. Make your own luck.

What does that even mean?

To me, you gotta hustle and volunteer for everything. Don’t say no, say yes.

I jumped at a few opportunities in the Corps, lots of personal growth came from it. I also learned how ships get gas when they are in the absolute middle of the ocean.

I think I was the only person who applied for the job I have now. Work in the summers and get paid the exact same amount? Sign me up!

Last year I had been out of the classroom for ten years. Ten years is a very long time. A mentor talked me into co-teaching a class on literacy. I was waaaaayyyyy outside my comfort zone. I’m pretty sure I did a terrible job but it opened me up to many new ideas and possibilities.

Make your own luck.

I think every PD or learning opportunity has the potential to open new thinking pathways. Those new ideas lead to new opportunities. New opportunities might be seen by some as luck, but really I think luck is the result of hard work. Hard work and taking risks. Sometimes that results in not executing things well but learning something in the process is a huge reward.

Action Steps

  • There is a brand new elementary in town. Their approach to learning is nothing like anything else here, I’m going to visit. In April.
  • I’m overwhelmed all the time. There are counterparts in the neighboring districts that I’m sure face the exact same issues. I’m reaching out to them. Going to visit in April. Maybe I can learn a new idea that will help me.
  • Asking for money to bring in an expert about design. We have a lot of people working on alternative seating in the classroom but I’m not sure we know why we are doing it.
  • Writing a grant. There are things we need to do and I can’t wait.

Some of the above will fail. I’m sure of it. I bet I will learn more in my failures than if I just let time go by without doing something about it. Sometimes what I try does not go very well, but I learned. I’d rather learn that way then just stand by wondering and thinking about it.