Just Stopping By


The Mrs will tell you that I’ve never been one of those people who spontaneously stop by someone’s home just to say ‘Hi’.  She, on the other hand, is the opposite.  If she thinks a neighbor or friend needs something, she won’t hesitate to stop by and bring them a meal or just talk. 

Just this evening, on the way back from dinner, we passed by a friend’s home.  I jokingly blurted out, ‘Hey, let’s go knock on their door and say we were just stopping by!’ thinking we really wouldn’t stay, but that we could all get a good laugh just by the surprise visit.  After all, no one would expect uninvited company on a Friday evening! 

The Mrs, thinking I was serious, and would love to hang out at their house, said, ‘Yeah.  That would be fun’.  Like a dummy, I had to tell her I was just joking because my mind was so fried from a long week of work, I could barely keep my eyes open, and we had dogs that needed to be let outside.  

Fortunately, we balance each other out when it comes to our social life.  If I were more like her, we wouldn’t spend much time alone.   If she were more like me, we would stay home most of the time.  So, in the end, we both make compromises to keep the other happy. 

When I was younger, it was much more common to stop by uninvited just to drop off some homemade cookies or to say ‘Hi’ to family and friends.  It also made a good excuse for my mother to use in order to get us to do our chores; because of the ‘Just in case someone stops by’ factor.  

Today, we need to plan at least a week in advance and put it on our phone, or Facebook invite, to remind us.  Socially, it’s even considered rude by some people today to stop by uninvited.  For us, if someone came by our house just to say ‘Hi’, we would be more than happy to let them in and share a cup of coffee.  We may be embarrassed because the house wasn’t picked up as well as we would prefer it to be if having company over, but most people won’t care about that.  

So, tonight, as we’re huddled up at home by ourselves getting ready to watch a sci-fi show together, here’s to breaking all the rules this weekend and finding a random friend’s house we can stop by just to say ‘Hi’!  Don’t worry, we probably won’t do it, but just in case…

I’ll leave you with a very funny video below that relates to the random visit.  I promise it will give you a laugh if you’re near my age and can relate…


Pretentiousness – Where Does It Come From?


Tonight, the Mrs. and I watched another episode of a new favorite show on Hulu called, ‘The Kids Are Alright’.  It’s based on a Catholic middle-class family with eight kids (all boys) set in the early 1970’s.  Of course, we can both relate to many of the cliché’s and cultural references since we were both kids during that time; which makes the show even more funny to us.

The episode we enjoyed was about a drama program the church was putting on in order to raise money.  The middle son, who narrates the show as an adult, and his brother were in competition to make themselves stand out; one as an actor and the other a stage designer.  Both boys had an insecure need to be noticed by others and to find approval. 

The older son, normally the mother’s favorite who is always trying to please her, even risked his infamous status by standing up for himself when she tried to stop him from being a part of the play.  It was a moment many children who are afraid of displeasing their parents feel; the fear that their parents won’t love them or approve of them if they do what they really want to do instead of what their parent’s want.

Earlier today while traveling in Austin traffic, the thought came to my mind how so many in the world wrestle with pretentiousness when I heard a spot on the radio calling out how, because so many people today suffer from a fear of pleasing others, there is a lack of authenticity in our culture.  I have my own understanding of pretentiousness, but I decided to look up what Webster defines it as; ‘Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed’.

We seem to be so obsessed with being greater than we are.  This need is driven by an insecurity deep inside that says we won’t be good enough, or accepted, unless we are greater than we are.  I can’t help but to believe that this ingrained need comes from our childhood somewhere as in the show today where two brothers are competing for the same attention and approval, not only with each other, but with their six other siblings.

The challenge for all parents is to help their children feel a sense of self-worth, acceptance, and to have a positive self-image.  With so many things competing for our attention, providing that is not an easy task.  Even so, today we see some parents pour too much time into the effort and create a sense of entitlement in their kids.  So, where’s the balance?  How do we know when we’re giving too little or too much? 

Our children will most likely not tell us verbally.  Most will act out in other ways that may seem negative (I know because I did just that).  Because they can’t express what they feel in words, they make poor choices or rebel against authority.  All of which is a cry for attention, love, and acceptance. 

I wish I had all the answers but, the truth is, I feel like a total failure in this area.  It’s taken me years to overcome my own insecurities, fears, and poor self-worth that have led to poor choices in my own past. 

Without a doubt, it’s not easy to be a parent today, but with God’s help, guidance from His word, and letting go of our own need for acceptance from our children, it will allow us to make some of those tough choices (and, believe me, they are some of the toughest choices we’ll ever have to make).  In the end, we may not be perfect, but at least we tried and loved the way we knew how.  And that’s really all that matters isn’t it?

Love Always

There’s No Place Like Home


One of our favorite movies to watch growing up was, ‘The Wizard of Oz’.   Back then there were no pay-per-view services, Blockbuster video stores, or DVDs.  Nope, our favorite movies came on national TV once a year (Poseidon Adventure, The Ten Commandments, Planet of the Apes, etc.) and, if we missed it, we would have to wait a full year to watch it again.  No VCRs then either.

In many ways, I miss those days when the whole family came together to watch our favorite movie.  It brought us all together.  When watching the ‘Wizard of Oz’, Grandma would usually use Dorothy’s journey to the land of Oz as an opportunity to teach us a few life lessons (something I learned from her and drove our kids crazy with) about how the family is most important. 

We learned many other lessons from the movie of course.  Lessons like the importance of friends, overcoming evil with good, that having a heart is more than physical, fear isn’t a sign of a lack of courage, and that the glitter of the city can’t replace the love of a home in the middle of Kansas.

With today’s commercial video world, kids can watch the yellow brick road scene until their parents break the disk and grab a bottle of wine just to calm down.  There’s a constant need for more visual sensation and many of the life lessons are buried under a pile of DVDs.

With our families so divided by distance it becomes very difficult to enjoy those times when we can all come together just to watch a classic movie or simply play games.  Our family is no different with relatives in South Carolina, Michigan, Kansas, Missouri, Alaska, Washington, and California, the time that we are able to have together is limited to an annual plane trip (if we can afford it) instead of the annual movie on the television.

Some families seem miles apart even though they live down the road from each other.  It’s not the distance in miles that keeps them apart, but the walls built up by bitterness, misunderstandings, anger, selfishness, and pride.  Dorothy learned that, more than anything else, her family was what she cherished the most.  Sure, it’s just a movie and maybe a little bit cheesy, but it makes a good point; that, at the end of the day, there truly is no place like home.

There may not be a way for us to click our heels together and take us back to a time when we were all together (whether physically or emotionally), but we do have the ability to pick up the phone and make a call, post a note on Facebook, or send a ‘Just because’ card to let our loved ones know we’re thinking of them.  Whatever we do to help keep the family bond together, after everything is said-and-done and we look back on our life, it will be those things we remember.  So tonight here’s to the family because there truly is no place like home…

Love always

Holy Cow!


One of the things I would do to drive the kids crazy while on road trips was call out, ‘Holy Cow!’ every time we passed by some cows in the field.  It worked the first few times, but over time, they would just look at me with a scowl of annoyance and contempt.  Of course, that only made it even more fun for me than making them laugh.  Just knowing I was annoying them was somehow even better (especially when they were going through the teen years).

Between the gastric sound effects, the corny jokes, occasional long-winded ‘Life lessons’, or having to make a pun out of every business we passed by, it was enough to make the kids (and the Mrs.) long for the trip to be over.  Thankfully, time has a way of changing those memories into something we can laugh about now.  Well, mostly laugh about anyway.

Whether it’s a road trip or just a trip to the store, being a dad is never an easy task.  I sometimes long for the days when the biggest problem was getting them off the Xbox or saying no to something they wanted at the store.  It seems the problems we all face as teens only grow into bigger, more complicated ones as we get older.  That is why I find it fun to joke about stupid things at times. It helps to take our eyes off the problems even if it’s just for a minute, and humor is always good for the soul. 

You may not like to torment your kids with goofiness like I did (and still do with the grand boys) but taking a break from our problems and finding some humor in even the smallest of things will help lift the burdens we tend to hold onto.  Thankfully, I have a wonderful wife who likes to laugh at my silly jokes and tolerates my juvenile behavior.  If she didn’t, I’d probably need to have a few cold packs ready to put on my swollen eyes from time to time. 

So, for all the men out there, the next time you are driving around with family and pass by a herd of cows, if this blog pops into your head, feel free to blurt out, ‘Holy Cow!!’ You might just get a laugh or two.  Or, you may get the rolling eyes and a few ‘Ughs!’.  Either way, at least you had fun…

Love always.