Category Archives: Family

Giving Thanks 2017


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All I need in my life (and more), I am given.

All I need to serve others, I have.

All I need to serve God, I have been blessed with.

All I must remember (and I must do better to remember this, every day) is this:

thankyou_edited-1

I am blessed. I am graced.

I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mother's Day 2017 Edits

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Thanksgiving

19 Years of Sous Chef… Photo Essay


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Sous Chef is 19 years old today.

It may seem sentimental, but I thank God for every one of those 6,935 days she has been alive. Each of those days is a blessing. Each of those days is a gift. Each of those days is a grace.

She is a wonderful young woman, as likely to be volunteering her time with a marginalized population as she is to be having a raucous time with her many good friends.

That I am reluctant to see her grow up and beyond The Cinnamon Girl and me is cliched and obvious.

That I am more proud than words can express of her is, I hope, equally obvious.

That she is one of the shining lights of my life and one of the best people I have ever known is gospel truth.

Happiest of birthdays, Sweetheart. Many, many, many happy returns.

 

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Filed under Birthday, Cinnamon Girl, Family, Fathers and Daughters, HJ jr, Sous Chef, Stretch, The Cinnamon Girl

The Mater’s Birthday 2017


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I wrote about my mother on by blog teachboldly.org today and an except of what I wrote there bears repeating.

I love you, Mom!

Happiest of birthdays to you in this momentous year of your life!

From Teach & Serve III, No. 12 – Parents Are Partners

Today is my mother’s birthday and, no, I will not mention her age.

Looking back on a quarter century of work in education and with the experience of being a parent myself for over 20 years, I can say with certainty that I am very lucky to have Mom by my mom. When I was growing up, Mom was incredibly supportive of me. She was helpful. She was kind. She gave me all that she had (likely more than she should have) and was my strongest and best advocate.

She encouraged my interests. She came to my events. She cheered me on.

She loved me.

Me and Mom circa 1981.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yet she also allowed me to make choices. She allowed me to fail. She allowed me to learn on our own.

When I had challenges at school – and I had some of these all the way into my college career – she listened, she empathized, she told me, in the first instance, to handle things on my own. If I could not, she would, appropriately, step in and advocate for me. If she felt my “side” was worthy, she would advocate for me, tirelessly.

You would have to ask my sisters if they remember our childhoods and Mom’s support of us in the same manner. I bet they do. We had good childhoods with great parents.

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Filed under Birthday, Family, Mother, Mothers, The Mater

Dad Was A Grandpa, Too : Six Years Later…


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Six years ago today, my father passed away.

Love you, Dad.

My family –  my mother and The Cinnamon Girl and me and our kids and my sisters and their kids (all the kids who can make it as most of them are not really kids anymore) – have taken an annual trip to the Colorado mountains for many years. We rarely miss a year, to the tune of only 1 or 2 in the past 20. In fact, Dad took this very mountain trip less than two weeks before he died.

It is kind of a big deal.

This year’s excursion was last week and, as we do quite often, we got to talking about Dad. It was joyous talk, fun talk, irreverent talk. It was kind of like him: laughing, smiling and saying things just a little off color, a little edgy.

At one point (and, perhaps, I was a few “pops” into my evening) I unleashed what I thought was a killer impression of Dad. It was like most impressions: not too realistic, broadly comic and capturing only a caricature. I am pretty sure I would not have shared it had Mom been in the room, but she was asleep and it was not mean spirited. It was funny and it brought the proverbial house down. I repeated it a few times to more laughs but then I realized it was so spot on it was making my youngest nephew sad. Whether it was because he missed his grandpa or because he thought it was mean, I do not know. But, thinking about my nephew today made me realize something else: that my kids and nieces and nephews know only a piece of what they are missing.

519.jpgI got to have Dad for 41 years, my older sister for, well, more and my younger sister for, well, less (I am not going to reveal their relative ages!). The kids barely got him for 10 years they actually remember… the littlest boys for less than that.

So, in thinking about them, I decided this year to put a bit of the eulogy I wrote to work in remembrance of, not just Dad, but his relationship with his grandkids.

“Our kids all love their grandpa.  But they simply cannot understand right now how much he loved them.  His youngest grandson will be told it was Dad who just a few short weeks ago went to get him his first bike.  Maybe we’ll even remind him of the time he locked his poor Grandpa in the shed.  And laughed.  His brother will remember Grandpa in his Rockies jacket sitting on the stands at his t-ball games.  Every time my goddaughter gets dressed up for a party, she’ll probably hear Grandpa asking “what costume do you have on today?”  My daughter may not have loved it when Dad would pick up a flashlight, turn it on, hold it to her ear and pretend the light showed right through from one side of her head to the other with no brain to block it, but I bet she’ll miss him doing it.  My oldest niece should know that every goal she scored on the soccer pitch really pleased her grandpa – he loved how tough she was, he was especially proud of her the day she accidentally broke another little girl’s arm.  That was the residual North Denver tough in him I think.   When my son got an X-Box, Dad drove him crazy saying to him: “X-Box?  Who cares?  I have a Z-Box” and you would have loved their arguments over the Wii video game system.  Dad insisted on calling the Wii a “They.”  My stepson first met Dad about five years ago on Halloween when Dad was completely dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow… that, by-the-way, was quite a sight, Dad really sold out for it.  When my stepson saw Dad again a few weeks later and noted that Dad still had a protruding stomach, he was surprised. He thought that was part of the costume.  Who could blame him?

It is hard for us all to believe that we were on our Annual Family Mountain Trip up in Breckenridge two and a half weeks ago, sitting with Dad, teasing him, sharing meals, sharing our stories, panicking as the power went out because of his oxygen, watching movies he loved like The Sandlot and The Natural.  It was so important to him to go on that trip.  So important to spend time with his grandkids.  So important that they knew how much he loved them.  Guys, you all know that Grandpa would do anything for you, right?  You know that he did so much for you.

Just as he has done for me and my sisters throughout our lives.”

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Filed under Dad, Family, Fathers and Sons, Parents

You Can Do Magic – The Cinnamon Girl’s Birthday


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Spring 2017Today is The Cinnamon Girl’s birthday and it is a day to celebrate all that she is to those of us who know her and those of us who love her. One of the many ways we will do that is to give her cards and gifts and that is good. I love – LOVE – to give gifts.

However, it occurs to me as I write this post, that she is the gift. She is the present. She is so very special.

She is the most special woman I know.

I cannot imagine life without her. I do not wish to.

I know that that our children, too, cannot imagine their lives without her in them. She has given so much to us and is the connection that brings us together, the light around which we all hover.

I marvel at who she is and all she does.

She is confidant and confider.

She is humorist and storyteller.

She is shocking in every good way.

She is kind and compassionate.

She is breathtakingly smart and stunningly quick witted.

She is incisive and insightful.

She is beautiful by any definition of the word.

There are many (myself included) who wonder if she has precognitive powers – if she is tapped into some kind of font that allows her to understand the world in ways that other people do not.

Here’s the secret: my Cinnamon Girl is magic.

She is pure magic.

Happy birthday, Cinnamon Girl. Thank you for being the gift.

 

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Only Three of Us Are Lucky Enough… Father’s Day 2017



The older I get and the more people I encounter in my life, the more I understand that I am one of the lucky ones. Not everyone enjoys a terrific relationship with their father for reasons of all kinds and I am sorry for those who do not.

But I am blessed enough to have had a great father and I will speak for my two sisters here: we were blessed to have Dad as our dad.

Whatever I try to be as a father, I learned from how my father fathered me. When I think of the memories I would like my children to have of me when they are adults parenting kids on their own, I want them to have memories similar to the ones I have of my dad.

  • Walking across the campus of my college alma mater, Catholic University, last week, I said to The Cinnamon Girl “That’s where the bank was where I opened my first adult account. Dad and I did that one afternoon my first week on campus.” He was taking care of me as he ever did.
  • Just yesterday, the hashtag #FirstComics was making the electronic rounds and I tweeted a picture of the first comic books in my collection (comics which are framed on the wall of my office). Dad bought them for me.
  • I think of dad each time I strap on my twelve string guitar. It has a hole in it that dad fixed.
  • We bought a new car in the spring and the impulse to check in with dad on what he thought was so very strong. He always had car advice even if it was not always good advice.
  • When my mother-in-law passed away last week, one of the first thoughts I had was how would Dad respond? What would Dad do?

I could share many more memories but I will conclude with this: I love my father. I always will.

I am one of the lucky three who can call him my dad.

Family 1989

Me, my sisters, our mother and father in London in 1989. Lucky family to have Dad as our dad…

 

 

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Filed under Cinnamon Girl, Family, Fathers and Daughters, Fathers and Sons, Fathers Day, The Cinnamon Girl

Link’n’Blogs – 6.16.17 – Fictional Fathers


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as thought provoking as I have.

Father’s Day is this weekend. Who are you favorite fathers in fiction? I found a list that’s pretty solid, non-comic-book-y and inclusive of my personal favorite literary character of all time (and, no, it’s NOT To Kill a Mockingbird‘s Atticus Finch, though he’s up there!)… Click the photo!

Atticus Finch

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Filed under Family, Fathers and Daughters, Fathers and Sons, Fathers Day, Literature