Good Sport

Two of my grandkids play organized sports – basketball, soccer, softball and baseball. There are plenty of good reasons to play: health, socialization, teamwork, discipline and commitment. In my opinion the best reason for young children to play sports is to learn good sportsmanship. Winning is fun but learning to lose with grace is a gift. Statistically most grade school students are not destined to become professional athletes, however most will have to learn to deal with disappointment, failure and loss in their lives. So being a good sport is more about being good and less about sports.

Recently my nine year-old granddaughter played in a basketball game. The coach on the opposing team screamed at the top of his lungs throughout the entire game. He was truly hostile. He berated his players, he yelled at the referees, he shouted direction and correction non-stop. He was a textbook example of poor sportsmanship. How sad for the young girls on his team – several of whom shouted back at him to “shut up!” during the game. I was dumbfounded. This is 4th grade basketball in a Catholic school! It was hard to watch.

My first reaction was to give this guy a piece of my mind and then to send an angry letter to the Athletic Director of his school or the pastor of his parish or the Archbishop. But then I decided my energies would be better directed in a more positive way.

So instead here’s my open letter to Anna’s coach:

Dear Coach,

Anna B-ballThank you for your kindness toward my granddaughter. Thank you for your time and talent with these precious girls. Thank you for helping them learn and letting them have fun. I know that Anna loves her team and loves to play. I also know that she lacks height and talent but she has heart and soul. You are teaching her valuable life lessons: teamwork & team spirit, willingness to try harder, self-confidence, and most importantly good sportsmanship. She may be the tiniest player on your team but you and I both know that she is almost always the first to take a knee when a teammate is hurt. You can teach her to play tough but you are also teaching her compassion. Thank you for your good example.

God bless you,

A Grateful Grandfather

It’s interesting to me that during that awful game, my seven year-old grandson leaned over and said to me, “The other team is winning but Anna’s team is playing a better game, because they’re being good sports.”

Out of the mouth of babes…








Boy In A Hurry

Today is our grandson’s 6th birthday. Noah is always in a hurry! Whether he’s running through the backyard or cruising on his bicycle, or racing across the swimming pool or sliding into home, he is always “full speed ahead”!noah-me

That was even true on the day that he was born. It seems like it was yesterday that our daughter Bess was at her last prenatal appointment. While waiting to see the doctor she was pretty sure she had gone into labor. They examined her and sent her straight to the hospital at about 3:45 pm. Two hours later a nurse looked in on Bess and said she would be back in 30 minutes to check her progress. When the nurse returned to check, she lifted the sheet and said “And…we’re…having a baby!”

Just that quickly, Noah was born at 7:06 pm, September 20, 2010. He’s been in a hurry from the start.

I thank God for giving us a healthy boy who can run and run and run. I’m grateful that “he’s the fastest__________________________” (fill in the blank). He’s a dynamo who seems to move a little faster everyday. But some days I wish he would slow down. Sometimes I just need him to “put on the brakes”. I want him to climb on my lap. I want to hold him in my arms and kiss his sweet face. I want him to be “little” for just a little while longer. There are days when I feel desperate for Baby Noah. I want to tell him to please not be in such a hurry to grow up. To savor this time. To be patient. To hold on.

But today is not about me. Noah’s life is his own. He’s six today! And he’s in a hurry to run marathons and climb mountains and conquer this world and create beautiful moments and memories along the way.

I realize of course that I don’t need Noah to slow down as much as I need to catch up. And God willing, when I’m too old to run alongside him, I hope that I’ll still be able to cheer from the sidelines as he hurries past.

Happy Birthday Noah!

I love you,




Blue Chambray Shirt

One of my favorite shirts is an old faded blue chambray. It’s comfortable. It fits just right. And it’s always there.

blue chambrayI love this shirt for its comfort but recently I may have discovered another reason why I cherish it. One evening last week I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and for the briefest of moments, I saw my grandfather in the reflection.

Tall, lean, a bit weathered by age, gray-haired, and standing straight as an arrow. I looked again but he was gone. Still the physical resemblance remains. I’m tall. I’m lean (although it’s a challenge at times to remain so). My hair is gray. But I could never have his hands. Those hands, so strong, so leathery, so molded by a lifetime of work and love and prayer.

My grandpa was a produce farmer. He spent his life working the fields of his farm and hauling his produce to market. It was rare to visit Grandma and Grandpa and not encounter a houseful of people. He had 13 children, 39 grandchildren and our son Blake Anthony, who was born a few months after his death, would have been his 50th great-grandchild and bears his name.

What I remember most about my Grandpa Tony is the way he reigned over the assembly gathered at his home. Sitting in his chair, his dog at his side, he was a true patriarch. When I was a child he seemed to be larger than life. And it was always a special treat to be pulled up onto his lap. With 38 other grandkids vying for that place of honor, those times were all the more precious. Grandpa especially loved the babies and I can vividly remember him holding my cousins Ron and Laura and my baby sister Kay. More often than not, he would be wearing that old faded blue chambray shirt.

As I grew older I had the joy of bringing my wife and children to visit Grandpa. When we would leave he always had the same send off: “Hurry back, I may not be here the next time you come.” Always standing straight and tall. Always wearing a blue chambray shirt. Always waving goodbye until we were out of sight.

Of course the time came when he wasn’t there. His 93 years didn’t seem long enough for those of us who loved him. But memories can last a lifetime. Particularly when they’re a little faded, comfortable and fit just right.


Noah is Four

Today is our grandson’s birthday. In four short years he has carved a hole so deep in my heart that I struggle at times to remember life before Noah. He is my golden boy!

Of course he’s smart. And of course he’s beautiful. His smile can melt the hardest of hearts. He has his Daddy’s boundless energy and his Mommy’s loving spirit. He may even have inherited a little bit of this old man’s temperament but with good parenting and lots of prayer that will hopefully be overcome.

Noah is fourWith leaps and bounds he has become a four year-old! Church, preschool, swimming, soccer and Little Gym® are all part of his life now. With a twinkle in his eye and a bounce in his step he is both fearless and completely disarming. His neighborhood friends and his backyard fort reign supreme. Swinging a bat or kicking a ball and running provide endless hours of fun. And when he asks me to play, I can never say no (but then, why would I?). Building things with Legos® or playing with blocks or scraps of wood captures his imagination. Playdoh® or construction paper, crayons, and markers feed his artistic spirit. He loves music and cannot help but dance or sing along when he hears a song that moves him. 

Noah is a lover. He is Mommy’s heart and Daddy’s soul. Keeping up with big sister Anna remains his number one priority (this will likely be a lifelong goal) and there are occasions when he nearly surpasses her. Witnessing the love that these two share is a slice of heaven.

Noah brings joy. There are people who carry joy with them wherever they go. Any encounter with these joy-givers always makes you feel better; better about yourself; better about your situation; better about the world. Noah has that gift. He gives joy to all who meet him! And I have been the lucky recipient of that joy for four blessed years.

Happy Birthday to my little man!



 Noah found favor with the LORDGenesis 6:8

My Sweet Boy

I have one grandson. His name is Noah. He’s almost 4 years old now. For me it was love at first sight. I’m pretty sure he likes me, too. Turns out that Noah and I are alike in many ways. We both have blue eyes (although mine are more blue-green). We are both fair-haired (although mine is more white than blond). We share a favorite color – blue. We both love chocolate. We’re both very funny (really – we are!) and we like to make other people laugh. We both adore his Mommy, his Nana, and his big sister. And we love his Daddy, too.

noah and me 2I believe that Noah is mature for his age and understands some very adult concepts and this may be why we are so simpatico. But truth be told, I suppose I am more comfortable acting like a four year-old most of the time and this is the real reason we get along so well. We like to play the same games – cars and trucks or Legos® or Playdoh®. Building things and imagination are a big part of our playtime together. And we love the girls. His sister and his cousins are always welcome to play with us (and we will even endure tea parties and such).

We’ve enjoyed reading books together, playing in the park or backyard, and he loves for me to tell him stories about when I was a boy. “Pawpaw, tell me again about when you were little.” So I’ve taught him a few things along the way and shared lots of stories and I have been amazed at times at just how beautiful he truly is.

And now he is teaching me. He just started preschool and on the second day he was awarded two stickers for ‘good listening’ and for ‘singing’. Another student in his class received no stickers and was very disappointed. Noah, without being asked, gave one of his stickers to the child that had received none. Noah freely gave what was his to relieve the other child’s sadness.

How often have I held on to what was MINE? How many times have I turned a blind eye and a cold heart to those in need? A simple act of kindness can heal a wound; repair a broken heart; forge a friendship. Noah taught me that.

There’s not much that makes me happier in this life than when Noah runs to me, jumps into my arms, and wraps his arms around my neck. The fact that now I’m learning from this little man is just sublime!




Husband. Father. Son. Brother. Friend.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve known my son-in-law Travis for twenty years. We met long before he even knew that I had a daughter; let alone that he would one day marry her. He was the (very young) computer consultant that the company that I worked for at the time had hired. Funny thinking back on it now, I couldn’t have imagined then that he would ever be part of our family. Or that I would love and admire him as much as I do.

But that was then…

T & DToday he is a man who deserves to share the life he has made with my beautiful daughter (something that I once thought no one would EVER be worthy to claim). Travis adores my daughter. And he is loving, patient, and kind to his children. His example of faith is a witness to us all. And he has taught Anna and Noah to know and love God. He is always the first person to lend a hand and brings his tireless energy to even the most difficult tasks. Plus he is fun and funny!

Husband. Father. Son. Brother. Friend.

Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God. Ruth 1:16




Rejoice, rejoice!

Rejoice, rejoice; Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

RejoiceIt’s the third week of Advent and we light our pink candle. Our focus this week is on hopefulness and joyful anticipation. We still wait but without sadness or despair. Instead we know that Christ’s coming is near.

In this family joyful anticipation is resounding! Our three year-old grandson Noah knows that Christmas is coming. Last night he showed me that Jesus is already in his Fisher-Price Little People® nativity but he explained, “He’s not in the real one until Christmas; we just have to wait!”

Noah is our little Isaiah; reminding us about the coming Christ – Emmanuel. We can be excited but we must wait.

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song. Isaiah 35:1-2

Of course there is much more joyful anticipation in our home; our two month-old granddaughter Ainsley is coming for a visit this weekend (and bringing her parents along). Nine year-old Charlise and five year-old Anna and of course three year-old Noah will be joining in the Christmas celebrations next week! There will be family gatherings and gift-giving and wonderful food and music and laughter and in the center of it all will be the Baby Jesus safely tucked in his crèche.

So we wait. And we prepare. And Christmas comes again; in our home and in our hearts.

O come, Desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of all humankind; Bid thou our sad divisions cease, And be thyself our Prince of Peace.



In The Days of Noah

On this first Sunday of Advent our Gospel reading tell us:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.                                                                            They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.”                                                           Matthew 24-37,39

normal boy 2I’m living in the days of Noah. Not Noah of Ark fame but Noah of grandson fame. My Noah (our Noah) is a three year-old dynamo who is a self-proclaimed “normal boy”. And so he is! He likes to run (indoors) and sometimes forgets to use his ‘inside voice’. He plays hard, laughs big, and loves us all. He likes to tease. He loves to climb, jump and tumble. One of his favorite expressions is “Hey, watch this!” often followed by some daredevil feat. He is always flashing his trademark grin. He is indefatigable! And therefore I am living in the days of Noah…

But as Advent begins I am reminded that even during (pehaps especially during) times of fun and frolic we must prepare ourselves to receive God. It’s easy for me to need God when I am desperate; when I am hurting; when life has dealt me setbacks. I cry out to God in my pain and sorrow! But during happy times I sometimes put God on a shelf to be taken down and dusted off, admired and replaced upon the shelf again. “It’s good to have you there God, I’ll let you know when you’re needed.”

Advent is not just a time to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Christ Child, it is also a time to prepare for the final coming of Christ. But for me the beauty of this special season is preparing myself to receive Christ in my life right here – right now.

First Sunday in  AdventSo this season as I light the Advent wreath, I will prepare my heart (once again) to find the Son of God in my “Days of Noah”. While Noah welcomes me into his three year-old world of adventure I will take comfort in knowing that God is at our side. As we play hard, laugh big and love one another I will remember that it is God’s love that we share.

And maybe we can shout together, “Hey, watch this!”



School Daze

Growing up there were two choices in my little world: both were Catholic schools. In my hometown there was also a Lutheran school, but it seemed foreign and exotic and I never knew anyone who actually went there. And Public School was taboo and frightening. We simultaneously prayed for and pitied the Public School kids but mostly we feared them.

St_Peter_Grade_School_1960Such was life in a small town in the 1960’s. There were as many as 40 kids in a single classroom. We sat in long rows. We took turns. We did as we were told. We attended Mass daily. We were (mostly) quiet, polite and respectful. We studied hard. We burned off excess energy on the asphalt playground. We helped clean chalkboards after school for fun. And Sister kept order and discipline at all times.

Nostalgia has a way of white-washing and sweetening our memories. But Catholic school in the 1960’s was far from idyllic. Learning disabilities were discounted or ignored (kids were either smart or stupid). Physical abuse went unreported. Bullies controlled the playground and bathrooms. And although Sister was always right, she was under-valued, under-paid and likely took out her frustration on the students in her care.

My granddaughters are now in school and tremendous advances in education have been made in the 50+ years since I started elementary school. As a society we are more aware of bullying (and have adopted zero-tolerance policies), we embrace and celebrate diversity, and learning disabilities are diagnosed and accommodated.

One granddaughter attends Public School, the other attends Catholic School. Each attend quality schools with small class sizes and safe classrooms. Both have sound nutritional and physical programs, as well as art and music at their respective schools. And both have attentive and engaged parents who value education.

Yet I’m in a bit of a daze. Teachers in 2013 still seem to be under-valued, under-paid and under-appreciated. Our children are in the hands of teachers who are often struggling to make ends meet. Not surprising that gifted teachers often leave their careers for better paying jobs in the corporate world. As a society it seems we pay more attention to the kind of athletic shoes, iPhones or fashion that our kids are sporting then to ensuring that they are being educated by well-paid, well-trained teachers.

Let’s invest in our future. Let’s appropriately fund our schools. Let’s support educators. And let’s thank the ones that taught us by working for a better life for the ones that will teach our future generations. I was blessed to be taught by Sisters who loved God and their communities and sacrificed their lives that we might learn. If you want to be nostalgic think of a teacher that you loved (and who loved you). And then pay that love forward to a future teacher who might just improve the lives of your grandchildren.



Storybooks, Legos and Baby Dolls

Our home office is actually a multi-purpose room. It’s truly a third bedroom that was converted into an office and now serves as the toy room, the art supply room, the nursery, the occasional spare bedroom and whenever possible is actually used as an office. I often find my center here. I pray here. I blog here.

OfficeI love this room because it is full of reminders of all the love in my life. This room is comfort and joy to me. And even when it’s a little messy – toys or books or art projects strewn about – it is still a place of repose. Sometimes when I’m alone I read the grandkids’ books to myself, like “You Are My Wish” by Maryann Cusimano Love – “I am your soft lap; you are my climb. I am your story; you are my rhyme.” – what poetry! it just tugs at my heart!

Sometimes this room is full of activity with three grandchildren happily playing or creating some new works of art. Sometimes this room is still except for the soft breath sounds of Noah while he is napping in his crib. Sometimes music is playing through the speakers thanks to a handy son-in-law. And sometimes it’s just me clacking away at the keyboard of my computer and then proofreading and deleting (and re-typing and re-reading and deleting again). It truly is a multi-purpose room.

And the love abounds. It’s found in the favorite toys and books. It’s in the little mementos of our travel abroad. It’s in the photos of friends and family. It’s in a note from Deb of little importance (except it’s written in her beautiful penmanship). It’s in the small plaque that reads, “God Only Knows What I’d Be Without You”.

Office2This room will never be featured on HGTV or shown in House Beautiful. It’s cluttered and a bit haphazard. It’s full of Legos and storybooks and baby dolls. It’s relatively small and it lacks any real style. But it’s our room. And it’s our life. And it reflects our love.

They say that home is where the heart is – this room might just be our soul.