Traditional Friday Coffee

It was when my daughter was in first grade that we started a Friday happy hour tradition at Starbucks.

We would each order whatever looked good on the menu and then talk about our day. I would ask her about what made her laugh, something she was proud of and other things like that.

Some days she would talk nonstop and other days only answer in one word sentences. We did this most every Friday for years. My son joined us a few years later.

Fast forward and now she is in 9th grade and the tradition continues.

This week was pretty good, the kids were talking, laughing and having a good time. If you have kids you know what I mean, these are the golden days. No fighting, no name calling, it was just fun.

I take a picture at every happy hour and text it to the whole family. It is just a way to say hello and have them see the kids as they grow. Most everyone lives out of town.

I hope to hold on to these Friday coffees as long as I can.


I found the picture of our first Friday happy hour!

253 beats per second

We had a sweet day planned. A group of teachers and myself were hitting the road in this awesome rental van. I was driving which I was a little sure of driving something so long.

First stop is an exclusive private school here in St. Louis. Their facilities are off the charts, I really have never seen such things in a K-12 school building.

We were in the basement of the building for a while looking at their maker and robotic spaces, so very impressive. They had all piece of equipment you could ever want.

Next we stopped by a Microsoft corporate office but before you judge you should visit. I’m so impressed and pretty sure that what we have seen is far beyond what Google has to offer. I will post more about this in the future.

We were sitting in their studio when my phone buzzed.

After this came in I stopped listening. His heart was beating 253 beats per second. This means another heart procedure for Aidan. We had the latest only a few months back. While he is only under for about 2-3 hours he has a heck of a time waking back up, that takes hours.

The upside was he told the paramedics how to calm his heart. He first two tries failed so he asked for a syringe without a needle. There is this method that I don’t fully understand, you blow into the cylinder and then quickly raise your feet and like magic the heart returns to normal rhythm.

Our next adventure begins.

No idea why I loved steep hills.

I hear being a Grandpa is the best, it is like a redo on parenting.

Many years ago my grandparents lived in Wausau, WI. My Gramps had a Ford LTD, blue and as long as a school bus. I can still remember sitting on those blue plasticy seat, not sure what they were really made of. They were cold in the winter and boiling in the summer.

Today I had a group of teachers meeting at our off site facility which is a short drive from every building. As I drove back I had this flashback to childhood. My brother and I used to always ask Gramps to find the biggest hills and drive us up and down until we got tired.

I’m sure the hills were not very steep but I remember them as mountainous, I was sure we would flip over at any second. I was scared every time but kept asking for more.

Many years later, after the Corps, we took a trip to visit family in Ireland. Gramps grew up there. While I am pretty sure, hopefully, that I am many years away from obtaining the title of Gramps, I hope I can be just like him.

Minus One

Today would have been a big one. I’m sure we would have all traveled to see you and celebrated with at least one cake, at least if I had my way. I always feel that if the celebration has only one cake it is kinda sad. I secretly judge every wedding I go to on the quality of cake. I am to cake as a palm reader is to a hand.

I was going to write 12 things that I remember that makes me laugh but there isn’t energy for that today.

Take every day as it is your last, you never know when it might be.

Happy 0311 Day!

These four digits mean so much, these four digits defined who I was and what I stood for. It took a lifetime to earn. Blood, sweat and tears are just the start. The sacrifice is something many claim but really can’t relate to. The pain that lives on, more physical these days than mental. Earning those four digits take its toll.

It taught me what tired really is. It taught me what brotherhood can do for the soul. It showed me how to overcome much and endure what you can’t.

It taught me things that I just can’t write.

To my 03 brothers – today is our day.

Does he get bigger or the pizza smaller?

Back in 2013 my son wanted pizza for his family birthday party and my aunt said she would take care of it but would only buy one. I was a tad nervous until I saw the size of this thing, it was unreal.

2014 he wanted the same exact pizza.

and again in 2015

2016 was more of the same




Last night Aidan was pretty certain the pizza was getting smaller, it wasn’t that he was growing.

Even more important than penicillin.

I hear people talk about what they believe is the most important discovery or invention. Some joke about sliced bread while others tell the tales of penicillin. Both of those are pretty sweet but today I made my own discovery that pushes things like penicillin to number two.

Today was solo and trio ensemble competition day. Hundreds of local high school kids gathered today to perform. This is one shot of the warm up area, can you hear maybe fifty instruments all playing individual pieces? It is unlike any other noise I have ever experienced.

Sam had a trio at about ten and her solo at three. We did drive home between the two but that meant I had to sit in the warm up area for a while today. It is so oddly loud it is hard to think, talk or do pretty much anything. I am guessing most of the kids fit right in due to the noise of their own music programs at school.

Today I brought what I firmly believe is the single most important invention so far. Once I slipped these on I was transported to another world, almost as if on vacation. I was able to disappear from the cacophony and enter a tranquil world.

These noise canceling headphones might have saved my life today.

The intimidation of the secret language.

I was in a series of interviews today and as the hours slipped by I had some thoughts.

I recalled some of the IEPs I sat in on over the years. We would talk about goals, progress, and percentages. While most of it made sense to me I am positive some of the parents had no idea what we were talking about.

I’m sure some were silent because they didn’t want to look foolish by asking.

My first years in the classroom was kinda like that, it was like everyone was speaking a language I really didn’t fully understand. There were times I just nodded my head and pretended to know.

Years before that I was immersed in a different culture with their own language. We used acronyms for everything for the food we ate to the activities that filled our days and nights. An outsider coming in would be somewhat lost and confused. A field day is when we cleaned for hours, a police call was picking up trash and being secure meant time off. these are some quick examples of our odd language.

Today we interviewed a few firms who applied during our RFQ process. I’m not entirely sure but I think it was Request For Quote. These things have their own set of rules that you have to follow to give everyone the same exact information without any variation.

These firms came in and talked with use for 45 minutes. They used short abbreviations for their qualifications and processes they used. I was a bit lost and there wasn’t a ton of time to go deep into what these things meant. While these things might not have been super important it had me thinking.

My take away is that I need to create a sheet or a site that I can share when embarking on something new. Maybe it should be for Canvas, as that is new to most of us, or anything that we are venturing into that might be unfamiliar to the people we are working with.

I’m sure I would arrested if I gave this speech today.

Well maybe not arrested but detained and social services called for sure.

To give this a little context we need to take a journey back to my high school days. School and me were like oil and water, we really didn’t mix. I hated everything about school and school hated everything about me.

Week two of my first year in high school I was pulled out of class. The guy told me I was not smart enough, his actual words, to learn Spanish so he was placing me in a study class.

In my third year of high school I moved to a much smaller town where, it felt, everyone kinda knew each other. I knew no one. There were days when I never spoke. I made it a game to see how many days in a row I could go without speaking to anyone, kids or teachers. There were days when I met up with my sister, she went to a different high school, and it was hard to talk because I hadn’t talked for hours.

I’m not bitter. I look back on these days more thankful than not, those days helped me grow so much.

There was one social studies class that I did talk just once. The teacher was lecturing on and talking about something when he made a mistake. Little did he know I did read the book, the whole book. I knew a lot about what he was talking about but I would never share that. Any test I just put random answer down because it didn’t matter. When I heard the mistake I knew what page in the book where the answer was and my hand shot up. He stopped in his tracks and just stared at me, I had never participated in anything. The whole class turned to look, shocked. I asked him to look at a certain paragraph on a page where he could find the correct answer. He was floored. The class was floored. Who was this weirdo who just called out the teacher? I don’t think I ever talked again and the teacher never talked to me about it.

I think it was my fourth year when I had to take speech again because I failed the first time. The first time I never gave a speech, I didn’t do anything.

The teacher was frustrated that she told me I could give a speech on anything I wanted, I just needed to do one to pass. People were giving speeches about prom, making lunches, topics that were so foreign to me.

I told her I wanted to do a speech on improvised explosives. I said this partly because I was interested and partly because I thought she would say no. She said yes if I had some sort of resources. So I pulled this book out of my bag.

Her eyes grew but then told me to mark the pages I wanted to use as transparencies. I had make about 15 of them of various pages.

The day came and I talked for maybe fifteen minutes. The class was dead silent. I’m sure partly because of the content and partly due to me, I never talked.

Did I ever act upon anything I talked about in the civilian world? Nope. I was super passionate about the ideas presented in the book, it was fascinating.

If a student asked to speak on these topics today what would happen?