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,





This month our grandson Noah will begin kindergarten.

To me he seems wise beyond his years. He believes in God and prays often, albeit sometimes in a slightly selfish 5 year-old way (as do many adults that I know). He deeply cares about others, especially his big sister and his mommy and daddy. Noah’s interests are varied. He loves the outdoors. He plays baseball and soccer. He likes to swim. He likes to climb, jump and run. He also loves playing with Legos and Play-Doh, watching movies, playing board games. He has a very active imagination. He likes books but more than that, he loves hearing stories, especially if I tell him stories about when I was a boy (sometimes they’re even true). Noah loves music and loves to dance. And he laughs – huge belly laughs. He is fun and funny. We call him “Life’s-a-Party-Noah” for good reason. He is physically demonstrative and will gladly throw his arms around this old man and give me a huge kiss on the cheek. It doesn’t matter who may be watching. He loves me. And of course I love him!

Noah Kindergarten

Noah modeling his new school uniform

And so he begins a new chapter in his young life – Formal Education. From this day forward everything will be on his PERMANENT RECORD. I know that Noah will approach school with he same tenacity and aplomb that he tackles everything else. He’s a good team player and is easily coached so I suspect that the order and discipline required in school won’t be too challenging for him. Plus he loves to learn new things. And he’s kind. So he will be good to his classmates and teachers. And there can never be too much kindness in our world. Noah will surely do well with school.

But here’s the thing: Will school do well with Noah? Will his enthusiasm and joyful spirit be enhanced or stifled? Will his teachers expose him to new experiences and new ideas that fill his heart and stretch his mind or will he become bored and restless because of conformity and rote learning? Of most concern to this grandfather is whether or not his spirit will be allowed to soar. Noah has so much to offer and I’m convinced that he will change our world. He’s already changed mine.

I want the universe to open up for him in ways he can’t yet imagine. I want his achievements to be as boundless as his dreams. I want him to travel the world; read and study and explore; make a difference; discover his best self; love and be loved beyond measure. And I hope that someday he is blessed with a boy of his own who will fill his life with light and love.

I suppose that this is a lot to place on the small shoulders of a kindergartener. But hey, it’s Noah!

And I can always tell him a story about when I was in kindergarten…



P.S. Noah, Always stay humble and kind…

Say a little prayer (or maybe a big one)…

Lately our grandson Noah has been having some tummy trouble. Nothing serious but when you’re five years-old a bad belly came be disconcerting (come to think of it, when you’re sixty it’s no fun either). Anyway, his pediatrician has prescribed some over-the-counter remedy which seems to be working. Hopefully soon he will be back to his usual life’s-a-party, happy-go lucky, free-spirited, never-say-die self.

But right now he’s scared. He’s afraid his belly will start hurting again. He’s afraid he won’t be able to play on his soccer team. He’s afraid he won’t be able to make it through an entire day of pre-school. He’s afraid to eat too much or not enough. And he WANTS MOMMY when his tummy hurts! Poor little guy. Poor little mommy.

NoahThis morning he didn’t think he could make it to school. He pleaded his case but Mom and Dad assured him that he would be okay. They offered him a favorite stuffed animal to take for “rest time” at pre-school (which is apparently a common practice for others in his class). The stuffed animal might offer some security and reminder of home but he refused it in a very adult manner: “No thank you Mommy, there are two reasons I don’t want to take my stuffed animal. First, I don’t want germs from other kids to get on it. And sometimes people play with their stuffed animals when it’s not resting time and our teacher doesn’t like that.” Apparently he knows his limitations.

What he did ask for: “Mommy, please pray to God that I’ll be okay today!” And later, “Daddy, please pray to God that I’ll be okay today!” His parents assured him that they pray for him everyday and all day and that certainly he would be prayed for today. Now there may have been a little bit of five year-old drama in that “please pray to God” plea but I prefer to think that Noah believes in the power of prayer or at least finds comfort in knowing that someone is asking God to help him. What Noah doesn’t realize is that he brought God to us today. His reminder that God is with us and will protect and help us in our time of need is the purest form of evangelization.

Of course now I’m praying, too.



Noah is Five Years Old

Noah 1

It seems like it was just yesterday that I held my grandson in my arms for the first time. But today I struggle to remember life before Noah.

How did I ever live without his joy, his laughter, his love? I didn’t realize how much I needed this sweet boy until he was born and now my life without him would be unimaginable.

Noah is a fun boy. He runs. He swims. He climbs. He rides his scooter at top speed. He is fearless about most things (except insects). He plays soccer and baseball and loves any contest or challenge. And he always wants to win.

Noah is a funny boy. He loves to laugh. He likes to tease and be teased. No one laughs at his silliness harder than he does. He literally cracks himself up. And me too. His laugh is infectious.

Noah is a loving boy. He jumps up into my arms and wraps his arms around my neck and tells me that he loves me. He softly kisses my old face, and it is truly my heart’s delight. He flashes that million dollar smile, and I know that I am blessed.

We play. We laugh. We love.

Today is Noah’s birthday but I’m the one receiving the gift – today and every day for the last five years.

Happy Birthday Noah!

I love you,



Noah 2

 Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord ~ Genesis 6:8

The He-Man Hideout

I consider myself a feminist. My wife has always been my partner – my equal in all things. I raised my daughter to believe that she could achieve anything that she desired. I have supported women’s rights (equal pay/equal opportunity) in the workplace. I stand firmly against any and all discrimination against women.

And yet I love that my grandson and I enjoy the fun that we can only have because we’re boys.

Noah is big on gender identification. I’m not sure if this is learned or just in his nature. Example: he thinks boys or men should always have the blue clothes/cup/plate/bowl/crayon/toy while girls or women should have the pink whatever. He likes to group men and women separately: “The boys should sit on this side and the girls should sit on that side”. He is very happy when he and Daddy do “just boy things” together.

He loves his mommy and his sister and his Nana and his girl cousins but sometimes a boy just needs to be a boy. Whether that means playing in the dirt or climbing a tree (which girls can do with equal ability – just don’t tell Noah) or pretending to be a super-hero, a pilot, a carpenter or a policeman (again, all things girls can do, too). He just likes being a boy and likes to distinguish himself from the girls in his 4 year-old world.

bubby and meHe and I have a “He-Man Hideout” in my backyard. It’s really just a garden bench but it becomes an airplane cockpit or a super-hero mission control station or simply a hiding place where no girls are allowed (expect his sister who has been granted exclusivity). I’ll admit I cherish our time together on that bench, listening to his imaginative exhortations. He is the MAN IN CHARGE. At least in the He-Man Hideout.

I’m not too concerned that his adult years may be consumed by cigar bars or strip clubs or fraternities or any other all-male enclave. Good parenting and common sense will curb that unlikely possibility. I’m certain that he will grow up to be the thoughtful, loving and respectful man that his father is. He will love women for their strength, intelligence, kindness, and generosity, as well as their beauty (just look at the examples he has in his family).

Still there is something wonderful about being a boy in a boy’s world and I am thankful that he’s let me in on occasion.



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!




You Know That You’re Old When Your Toys Are Antiques

PlayRecently I was watching “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS. There was some guy who had brought vintage toys for appraisal. Apparently calling old stuff “vintage” is better than calling it old. Anyway, I realized that one of the vintage trucks that he had was similar to one I played with as a boy. Furthermore, I was certain that I still had it in a box in the basement. And to my delight I found my Buddy L® pickup truck and trailer.

I thought that my grandson Noah might enjoy playing with my old (vintage) metal truck. And he in fact loves it! It brings back happy memories for me, too. This truck and trailer must be over 50 years old. My friends and I would “drive it” through the empty lot across the street when we were boys. We imagined we were on a huge construction site and would play all day with our trucks and cars in the dirt and weeds. Our beloved empty lot finally gave way to a new home and eventually my friends and I grew too old for toy cars and trucks. Luckily mine was safely boxed away only to find a new life as a vintage toy.

Buddy LHappy to have rediscovered one of my toys, I am still a little troubled by the “antique” label. If my toy is antique what does that say about me? My Buddy L® truck is 100% metal except for the rubber tires. It’s heavy, has sharp edges and is likely coated with toxic paint. To my knowledge, no safety tests have ever been performed. No recalls ever issued. This truck has only been boy-tested and it passed that test long ago with flying colors. It has careened over countless hillsides and carried scores of plastic Army men and farm animals.

Today she is a little rusty and worn (hey – so am I). But Noah has given her new life. When my granddaughters join in, the truck is sometimes reduced to carrying Polly Pockets® and Pretty Ponies®. But Noah and I are mostly purists and we like to haul “boy stuff” in her bed and trailer. So we have plastic farm animals and safari animals to load up now. We also sometimes carry his Uncle Blake’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles® (which I suppose are not quite yet vintage).

Old toys can play hard. My antique Buddy L® has proven that.

But I wonder how often I discard things that were once purposeful but now considered obsolete? How many times have I written something off as useless or unnecessary? And what about people? Do I view elderly people as a burden? Because they are old, are they not worthy of my time and attention? Do I overlook the beauty, wisdom and experience of a life well lived? Antiques are treasured for the very fact that they are old. But I fear in our society we often dismiss our older citizens for that very same reason.

I know that my truck can still play hard and I’m learning that grandpas can play hard, too.

Noah, thanks for letting me come along for the ride! I think that Buddy L® and I still have a few good “vintage” years left.







Today is Ash Wednesday and so starts my Lenten journey. Bring on the sackcloth and ashes; bring on the fasting and purging of excess! Take away the adornments and the Alleluia! Strip the altar bare and forego the glad tidings. Time to embrace suffering, loss, and sadness! REPENT!

But wait a minute. Didn’t Jesus bring us the “Good News”? Why must my journey through Lent be dismal? Why must these 40 days be all doom and gloom? Following the rules of fasting and abstinence doesn’t mean my Lenten journey must be joyless – does it? I suppose due to a healthy dose of Catholic guilt I’ve always felt bad about enjoying things a little too much during Lent. But thanks to my grandson Noah, this year will be different for me. Jesus said, “Bring the little children to me” so therefore I’m a big believer in three year-old wisdom.

This is what Noah taught me:

Last Sunday at Mass the choir was singing “Stand By Me” and of course the refrain repeats “stand by me” several times. During this hymn Noah launched into a sort of free-flowing liturgical dance (this boy loves music!). Anyway, I quietly suggested that he take a seat next to me. In a very loud and emphatic three year-old voice he told me, “But them just say-ded STAND BY ME!”

And he proudly stood. Rightly so.

Noah standing and singing!

Noah standing and singing!

By Noah’s example it occurred to me that standing (or dancing) or whatever joy we feel shouldn’t be diminished because of “what we should do”. God gives us joy to share with others; love is only love when given away. Lent shouldn’t just be about ‘giving up’ but also about ‘letting go’. Letting go of my preconceptions of what is right or wrong; what is worthy or unworthy; what is vital and what is unnecessary.

So this year I will reflect and pray and atone but I will not be sad. I will carry joy in my heart and I will STAND (and with Noah’s help I might even dance a little).

I hope that your spiritual journey this Lenten season is filled with hope, love and peace. But mostly joy!

When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.                      Matthew 6:17-18



This Week…

This week my wife and I took care of our five year-old granddaughter Anna and our three year-old grandson Noah while our daughter and son-in-law were vacationing in Jamaica. It’s been lots of fun. But we’re a little tired.

In some ways it was like any other sleepover that they’ve had with us. What made this week unique was, well it was a week.

Snow DayWe had to get Anna to school each day and because she attends a parochial school that means drop-off and pick-up each day. Noah had his Little Gym® class on Tuesday and Anna had a dance class on Thursday. She also attended a birthday “indoor pool” party last weekend which required that each child bring a responsible adult. In between there were school lunches to be made, special dinners (featuring kid-approved menus) to be prepared, loads of laundry, homework to be completed, art projects and Play-Doh®, bath time and bed time (complete with stories to be read and prayers to be said). Throw in a “snow day” and we’ve had a pretty full week.

In fairness, Deb did most of the work while I escaped to my office. I did handle drop-off each morning and joined in with bath time, story time and prayers every night and of course playing in the snow was my job, too. And because we couldn’t locate a responsible adult, I attended the swimming birthday party (or is it a birthday swimming party?).

Anyway, I learned three important things this week:

  1. There’s a reason God gives us our children when we’re young.
  2. Even a plain sugar cookie is an “extra special dessert” when you add a shot of Reddi-Whip® and a dash of sprinkles.
  3. And hearing “I love you, Pawpaw” is the sweetest sound in the whole wide world.

Having Anna and Noah for a week reminded me how much work it was and how much fun we had raising our own three kids. And now I just need a little nap…