Category Archives: Self

About me

Chris Volbrecht Can Kiss My Ass

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I’ve gotten a couple of disparaging comments recently on this blog. I traced the IPs. One post pointed back to an in-law.

WTF?

I don’t deserve to take this abuse. Not from in-laws. Not from neighbors. Not from people who have nothing better to do with their time but gossip on the web. Do not fuck with me anymore. I’ve had it.

November 2, 2010. I’m at the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Evidence Room to retrieve my possessions that were seized under warrant five months earlier. The Deputy and I load up my car. He says that’s all he’s got for me. I’m still missing my cedar chest. The one that has all my kids photo albums in it. Vacation photos. Photos of our holidays, birthdays and special occasions. I hadn’t seen it since Janet died.

I ask him if they had my chest. He goes in and calls the Detective. The Detective says they have it. Oh god, I feel relief. He instructs the Deputy to release it to me. I learned that the Detectives never opened the chest. I learned that Chris Volbrecht had the chest, and that she gave it to the Detectives, and I quote, “for safekeeping”.

Chris Volbrecht lives next door to me.

I get home and unload the car. I move the chest into my bedroom and open the lid. On the top of the stack is the photo that you see on this post. It’s from my college days. Yeah, that’s me shooting the moon. Big deal.

Chris had gone through my chest of family photos. I felt supremely violated. She invaded my privacy. And that’s not all.

Chris posted this on calcoastnews.com:

6/29/2010 at 4:17pm

…the investigation is still ongoing, while the coroner released the Body and has been flown back to Ohio for funeral services, this case is far from over and those kids are not safe if they return to the area with their father.
…Most of us while greiving (sic) over the loss of our dear friend, fear for those kids even if the father is found to have nothing to do with this.
His mental problems and verbal abuse alone have those children terrified of him.
My prayers go out to them, but we as Janet’s friends must step forward and do what we can to protect those children. Many of us have given statements to the police about what we have been told by Janet or have witnessed, so any of you out there that have knowledge about this- I urge your to report it to the lead investigator on this case. He already has many letters and statements so you will not be alone in your testimony nor will you have to fear that “he” will find out what you said and why.
Please do the right thing for these kids…please!

07/01/2010 at 9:39 pm

I am…making a plea for the childrens (sic) safety in this very sad and dangerous situation! The more of us who come forward – the better off the children will be- in this instance I don’t feel this is gossip for a blog- it is real and the children need to be protected from their father whether or not he did anything to Janet- if you knew what some of us know you would be reaching out in every way possible.

07/02/2010 at 12:50 pm

I will protect the kids from Ken anyway I can…I will stand by every word I have written here! Even if Ken was not the cause of Janets death- the kids are in danger of returning to California with their father.

Janet used to complain about Chris trimming the plants in our front yard. Janet wasn’t pleased Chris was intruding on our property. She remarked to me that Chris was a “snobbish rich bitch”. Janet was right about that.

Straight Block

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Every Roadie remembers their first club ride. We didn’t know how to ride in a pack, we wore the wrong clothes, we said the wrong things, we rode the wrong gear. We were nervous, even dangerous. But something about riding kept us coming back for more.

I remember my indoctrination into the Roadie Tribe. I show up at the Wednesday Night Club Ride on my Sears Free Spirit. A tank of a bike. Mike was there with his Windsor Pro, Ty on his Raleigh Team Pro and George was showing off his new Klein. They all had tubular tires, Campagnolo components and Cinelli stems. In my eyes it was all beautiful jewelry. What amazed me the most were their tiny freewheels. They were all running 13x17s and 14x18s. They HAD to be strong. My 14×28 tooth was gearing for wimps.

We do the 25-mile loop and ride it hard. I’m nervous as all heck but they gave me some pointers that day. Somehow I managed not to get dropped on the hills. I was hooked.

A year later when I had saved up enough money I put together my first real road bike. It was a Fuji Finest frame with mostly Sun Tour components. I built the wheels, installed the components, glued on the Hutchinson Super Sprints onto the Fiamme Red Label rims, and wrapped the bars with Tressostar cloth tape. I screwed on a 14×18 tooth Sun Tour Pro Compe freewheel. I was proud of my new bike.

On the next ride, after showing my new ride to the others, one of them quipped “I have a 13×17 tooth on the back. It’s bigger gearing than yours”. Being one-upped on gearing was an affront to my pride, my masculinity. I had to get even. But how? I could’ve dropped this bozo anytime I liked. He was too lazy to put the training miles in. That wasn’t the point. My new bike didn’t pass muster by the tribe. I wanted to be accepted. I couldn’t afford Campy. What was I to do?

I’m back at the shop building a custom freewheel for a customer when an epiphany hits me. I’ll build a true straight-block. After a little experimentation I cobble together a Dura Ace freewheel with 16-16-16-16-16 tooth gearing. I thread it on for the next Wednesday Night ride. It wasn’t until we’re climbing the Rose Garden Hill when someone notices my new freewheel. Being that I don’t have an option to shift down I throw everything I got into an attack. I drop all and arrive at the top with a huge gap.

I took the Dura Ace freewheel off that day. No one ever again fucked with me on a club ride. I was now a badass, bona-fida member of the tribe.

Tone Deaf

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Courtney’s cell phone started acting up several months ago. The phone would drop in the middle of calls and texts. I couldn’t get the issue to reproduce. I did a hard reset on it, re-synced her contacts from the iMac, and left it at that.

Another week goes by. Courtney tells me that it still “doesn’t work”. I see that the SIM Card isn’t reading into the device. I resolve it by powering off, removing the battery & SIM, snapping it back together and turning it back on. I show Courtney this. She tells me that’s what’s she has been doing all along. I tell her to hang on until we can get a free upgrade. She’s not a happy camper.

Being the geek I am, I go online and googled “Sony W518s” issues. I read the ATT and Sony support discussion boards. The next day I re-install the firmware and wiped the SIM card’s memory. It seemed to work. I handed it back to her.

About a week later, I asked Courtney how her phone was. She replied “It’s broke. I don’t use it anymore.”

I log into my AT&T account and see that she’s eligible for a “free” upgrade on December 6. I tell Courtney that it’s a few months before we can get the phone replaced. She doesn’t like hearing that. It’s late September. December 6 is too long to wait for a teenage girl.

The blog-sphere is alight with rumors about the new iPhone. I know the current iPhone will see a price drop. Apple always does this. I take the leap and tell Courtney that I’ll get her an iPhone.

When?

I don’t know.

Why not?

Because no one outside of Apple knows. It’s a secret.

Can I get a new phone now?

When Apple introduces the new iPhone.

But I need a phone now!

Apple’s announcing their new iPhone at their October 4th Media Gathering. We’ll know for sure then.

I can’t wait that long. I need a phone now.

OK, I’ll see if I can get one to use until the iPhone is out.

I’m all in at this point. Courtney has been using friend’s phones to contact me. How embarrassing. She needs a new phone. I look on Craigslist, there are jailbroken iPhones and “hot” smartphones at ridiculously high prices and nothing else. I post on Facebook asking if any of my friends had an unused ATT/T-Mobile phone that we could borrow. No luck.

October 4th comes and goes. The new iPhone 4S is introduced, and it’s a marvel. The 4 goes down to $99. The 3GS becomes free. Availability is listed as October 14th. My teenage daughter somehow knows this. She wants to know when she can get her iPhone. The last thing she wants to hear is me babbling on about how cell phone contracts work. She just wants a phone.

I call ATT. I tell the Rep the situation. She’s remarkably attentive and courteous. I ask if there was any way we could get Courtney bumped into an upgrade right now

The Rep says Yes. Based on what you told me, we could make an exception here.

So I can get her a new phone today?

Yes you can. We can chose any phone except Apple’s iPhones.

Any phone except an iPhone?

That’s correct.

Let me ask you, if we got a new phone, does that mean that Courtney has to wait another two years on contract before she’s again eligible for an iPhone?

That’s correct.

I don’t want to do that. I do want to get Courtney an iPhone in December. What can we do for her until December? She needs something today.

Why don’t you get a Go Phone?

Doesn’t that require a month-to-month contract?

No. Just go to a local ATT store, and bring in her phone. They’ll take the SIM card and activate the Go Phone with it.

That’s all?

Yes sir. That’s all.

Yesterday I go into Radio Shack. I pick up a Samsung Go Phone. It’s marked $9.99. I bring it to the counter. I tell the clerk I don’t need to buy the Go Monthly airtime contract. I just wanted to buy this phone and activate it with Courtney’s ATT SIM card. How much would that cost me?

The clerk looks at me with an incredulous stare and says $9.99.

I feel like an idiot.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

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I’m normally not the type of person who pauses to reflect whenever a celebrity passes away. But when I heard the news that Steve Jobs passed, I unapologetically shed a tear.

I bought my first Mac in 1986. I still have my Mac Plus. Throughout the years I’ve used many Apple products – Powerbook 170, eMac, Powerbook 12”, Powerbook 15”, MacBook Pro 15”, iPod Shuffle, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4. They have all served me well. I suppose if I took the money I spent on Macs and invested it in Apple stock I’d be rich now. But that’s hindsight.

What attracted me to Apple was their design ethos. The interception of art and technology, as Steve famously put it. OS X allowed me to work the way I wanted to work. I tried Windows 95 & 98 and found the experience frustrating. Us Mac users rightfully boast “It simply works!”

I never met Steve. Never saw him in person. I knew him from afar. I watched his Keynote speeches at MacWorld, WWDC and Apple’s media events. His rollout of the iPhone stands at one of the best sales presentations of all time. I learned his life story. And what a story it was. Steve wasn’t perfect. But he had a vision. And he acted upon it.

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle. – Steve Job’s 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech

Several times in my life I didn’t settle. When I decided to attend college after working fruitlessly for a few years after high school. Leaving the Corporate Treadmill that was Dick’s after years of 50+ hour weeks. Relocating my Family from Ohio to sunny California. Taking up the turnaround challenge at CBO. I kicked myself in the ass to make things change. It was all about doing great work.

Today I am in a great relationship with a fabulous woman. In my heart I know Alexandra is the right one. And I know in my heart that Coast Digital is the work that I want to do. I love both. I’m not going to settle for less. Thank you Steve for inspiring me.

R.I.P. Steve

Domestic Bliss

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Today I got a new upright vacuum. She’s a beauty. A big, honking Bissell Clearview Bagless. It has the Powertrack Plus. With Turbo Brush, Wide Power Trak, Hepa Media Filter, Dual Edge Cleaning, and Triple Filters. The cord is long enough to vacuum the entire living room without switching plugs. Yeah! How could I go wrong?

I made a pass at the living room today and, holy shit, it sucks! Sucks really, really good! Look at all the dog hair it picked up! I conquered armies today. I was like Napoleon flanking the Italian Army at the Battle of Lodi.

Let me tell you about my old upright. It’s a Panasonic Model 5116. I bought it in the late ‘70’s when I got my first apartment. It didn’t have any attachments. It wasn’t height-adjustable. It didn’t have all the bells and whistles. Yet it very light and easy to push. She had good suction.

I felt sad putting the old warrior out to pasture today. She served me well. For over 30 years. I bought two other vacuum cleaners in the interim. A Dirt Devil and a Hoover. The Panisonic handily beat them both. It was always better at the job. Until today.

Flow

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This is a picture that my good friend Andy took at I was rounding the final corner of the 24 25 Hours of Halloween in Santa Ynez on October 31, 2009. I was part of a 4-man team. I was first rider off, so I rode seven laps and the rest of the team only rode six. I was raging on that last lap when Andy snapped the photo. We ended up placing 3rd that weekend. A very good result for my team. It was especially gratifying for me because I was riding amongst 20-30 year-old riders. I was old enough to be a Dad to most of the other riders.

I asked Janet if she could drive the kids down on the final day so they could see me finish. She said no. She lied to the kids by telling them I was spending the weekend in Santa Ynez on some drunken binge. By then I had gotten “used” to her doing this. It wasn’t the first time Janet pushed my kids away from my racing. I ran three half-marathons, all in 6-minute mile times, and the kids missed them all. They missed me racing in the SLO Criterium. Missed several Adventure-series triathlons. Missed plenty of other rides. Janet always had a reason the Kids couldn’t come to see me race.

Yesterday I got out on the Single Speed and rode Montana de Oro with Kevin and Bill, two good friends. It was the first time I had gotten out on the Mt Bike since I broke my hand in a crash last November.

Being that it was the first time on the Single-speed in nearly a year, I was apprehensive. I was thinking about how out of shape I was, thinking about how careful I needed to be on the downhills. And with that, we started riding.

The trailhead starts at the base of a 1,000 foot climb. It’s quite the warmup when your’e in form, entirely a different beast when you’re not. Kevin leads off, followed by Bill, then me. We gain a few hundred feet and re-group. We chat a bit, then Kevin waves me on. I hesitated, saying “you go, I haven’t ridden in a while” Kevin hears none of it, tells me to go ride. I go to the front and an amazing transformation begins.

I start riding “tempo”. For those who don’t ride, that’s at a pace that’s not quite anaerobic. The trail slowly winds uphill. Where it pitches up, I stand up and mash the pedals forward. I feel strangely alive, connected to my primal self. I hit a vertical rocky section of the trail and I totally clean it. It levels out and I start railing the tempo, spinning effortlessly up the entire grade. I don’t worry about Kevin and Bill behind me. They are good friends who won’t take offense with me taking a flyer. By that point I am raging uphill, like I haven’t for years. The sixteen pounds I lost last year is serving me well as a climber. I feel like Robert Millar. Near the top I began to crack the shoreline fog. I can see wisps of the Californian Blue Sky above me. I can feel the humidity of the climb up dissipate, and the scent of Eucalyptus, sage and rosemary fill my senses.

I get to the top and wait for the guys. They come up, and we chat about cool stuff. The conversation is flowing effortlessly, like I’ve been hanging out with these guys forever. Thing is, I haven’t seen them in nine months. We talk about Guy things, about bike parts, the weather, the trail conditions.

Kevin and Bill pad up, and we drop down the backside. It’s fairly steep, some rocky sections, and all loose. I keep Bill in sight but Kevin soon drops away and rides off. I stack up the first few corners and have to unclip. I get back on and catch back up to Bill, who is doing a fine job of railing a nice line. Pieces start to fall in place, and I manage to get down.

We climb back up and top out at Hazard Peak. There was a congregation of riders at the top. I knew many of them. We bullshitted for a good thirty minutes. I wasn’t anxious about getting started again. I wasn’t thinking “I-have-to-finish-the-ride-and-get-home-or-else-Janet-will-get-mad”. For the first time I was at peace, just talking amongst like-minded riders. And it was bliss.

Kevin begins the final descent. I follow Bill. He’s railing but I’m right on his wheel. He pulls over, he’s somehow pinch-flated his front tire. We stop. Kevin’s already way off the front and gone. I go about and help Bill fix the flat when another rider pulls up and asks if we need help. It’s Yishai, a very good rider. We get the flat fixed. and start to push off.

Bill motions me to lead. I take the front knowing that there are two very good riders behind me. The trail is in the flow-style, not steep or technical but nevertheless very fast if you chose to do so. We traverse over to the opposite face of the mountain and I start to pick up a lot of speed. I hit a couple of whoop—de-doos and do a little air but I keep the bike settled, and I stay off the brakes. I carry a ton of speed into a loose right-hander, bleed off some velocity, and come out of it still carrying a lot of speed. For the next two miles, as the trail dips and curves and hops, I barely touch the brakes. I am feeling alive, feeling at-one with the bike, and just flying through the landscape. I am flowing.

I drop into the trailhead at the bottom and I see Kevin waiting for us in the parking lot. Then I turn and look to see Bill and Yishai arrive ten seconds later. Somehow I had managed to not only keep in front, but to extend it out a few seconds.

Yesterday was the first ride in years where I rode in the present. Where I rode without thinking about anything else. Where I was immersed in the sensations of the ride, the endorphin release, and nothing else. I’m back. And I realized that despite my time off the bike, my limits are high. Very high.

Pet Fish

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Ever since the kids were young I had pet fish. There was something serene about watching them swim around at night, under the tank lights. Whenever I came home there they were, peacefully swimming around without a care in their little world.

Seven years ago I couldn’t find anyone to adopt my fish when we relocated to California. Sadly I had to dispose of them. I packed up the Nissan with our family heirlooms. In went photos, diplomas, the portrait of Uncle John and our curly maple rocking chair. And the tank. I remember seeing that fish tank in my rear view mirror driving across the country.

After I had been out here a month alone, working at my new job, I flew back to my family in Ohio. The movers packed up our stuff, then we hopped on a train westward into our new lives. Several weeks later, after things got settled in our new home, I bought home some pet fish.

Savannah, Courtney and Douglas had names for the fish. They each had unique little personalities. They would recognize me when I walked up to the tank and congregate in the front right corner where they got fed. For such simple little creatures I sure enjoyed them.

Janet wasn’t happy about my fish. She would complain about the smell. Or worse, yell at me for cleaning the filter elements in the kitchen sink. All the time.

Sometime in May of last year I learned that Courtney had sold her chickens. I asked Janet why, she brushed it off saying Courtney didn’t trust me with them. I was so looking forward to taking care of them while she was back east. Courtney and I built the coop together. It was something we shared. I didn’t understand where she got the idea that I wouldn’t take care of her birds.

One day, in a fit of desperation thinking about having my kids away for two months, I drained the fish tank and disposed of the fish. Just like that sad day seven years ago in Ohio. The kids came home and asked what happened to the fish. I lied by telling them they had died.

The following week Janet sold my fish tank at a garage sale.

Today my three children gave me the most wonderful Father’s Day present I have ever gotten. A little fish tank with three fish in it. It’s the most beautiful thing in my world. I’m looking at the little guys swim around their tank as I type this. It feels like a little piece of me has been put back into place.

It’s amazing when you think how children understand things more than you thought they did. I am happy that my children appreciate little things like pet fish.

Closure

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I haven’t written in a week because it’s been a conglomeration of emotions around here. Several times last week I opened the laptop and I couldn’t peck out a simple thought. All I thought was what happened on June 12th, 2010. PTSD was rearing it’s ugly head.

June 11th is for me the real anniversary date. Saturday June 11th, 2011 vs Saturday June 12, 2010.

June 12th, 2010 was the final day of baseball season for Douglas and I. We had already finished the season in second place . We were looking forward to receiving our 2nd place awards that day in front of hundreds of our peers during Closing Ceremonies. We were set to play a fun consolation game.

Janet never liked Baseball. She didn’t know the game. I didn’t let her have any say in how the team was being managed. When I selected someone else to be the Team Mom, that drove her over the edge. She wanted that control. And there was hell to pay.

Janet wanted to take Douglas away on the very last day of the season. I pleaded with her to delay her trip back East by one day. Let Douglas go to the Closing Ceremony so he could receive his second-place trophy. So he could enjoy the camaraderie of his team mates and friends. Janet wouldn’t hear none of it. She denied Doug and I that last day. She purposely hurt me.

This year things were different. We had been on a six-game winning streak until the “first” Championship game June 9th. We lost by one run. Because it was a double-elimination format, we were set to play a rematch – on June 11th. Exactly one year after Janet passed.

That morning I was nervous as all heck. Never in my life did I feel the need to win something so bad as this game. Yet it was tempered by the realization that I was responsible for other children’s memories. Their parents entrusted me to be their coach. I was paranoid about me projecting my own interests upon the players. I had done an excellent job so far in the season segregating my emotions from the team’s goals. And I wasn’t going to cross that threshold this day.

Savannah had left earlier to help out at a fundraiser for her X-Country team. Courtney had spent the night at a friend’s house. It was just Doug and I. After I made breakfast it came time to dress. The previous evening I had laid out his uniform but we couldn’t find his jersey. I spent 10 minutes of sheer panic looking for it, knowing that a player couldn’t take the field if he didn’t have a full uniform. It turns out that one of the girls had grabbed the jersey and put it into the dirty wash. I then go to print out the Player Awards and find that my damn HP printer was out of color ink. I search frantically for a USB stick, find it, download the docs onto it and hope that their was a printer at the Parent’s house where we were having the season-ending party that afternoon. We rush out of the house and to the field 10 minutes late. I get the team settled in, warmed up and ready to play.

We flip a coin and the Dodgers win the toss and pick home. They will bat last.

We end the first inning giving up 5 runs to the Dodgers. The second through the fourth inning I put Douglas on the mound. I see my son out there on the mound playing his heart out. He’s getting outs, and making plays. And the thing is, I don’t need to tell him a thing. He’s doing it all himself. He knows what to do. He walks a few batters and a few more get hits on him. But he doesn’t get flustered. My little son is in his own zone. He holds the Dodgers team to only 5 more runs over the next three innings. We end the fourth down 9-10.

The Umpire declares the fifth inn the last one. It’s do or die time. We manage to squeeze one run in at the top to tie it.

We’re now into the bottom of the fifth. The Dodgers get a runner on third, no outs. My emotions start to get the better of me, and I leave the dugout and start pacing behind the bleachers. It’s all in the hands of my players. All the work we put in over the season – 34 games and practices – were on the line.

Things got surreal. I looked around and realized for the first time that there were hundreds of spectators. People were arriving for the Closing Day Awards Ceremonies. The Little League Board Members were there. Most of the other Team Managers were watching, guys who I’ve played against all season. Other players were watching. Parents were watching our game, many who I knew. The scoreboard loomed large – showing 0 outs, bottom of the fifth, 10-10 score. The sky was cloudless, the wind was blowing softly, and all I could think about was damn – I need this win. I need this more that anything else in the whole world. I need it to prove to myself that we did it. To prove that my kids, all three of them, are thriving and succeeding and laying down good memories. Tears welled up in my eyes, thinking how disappointed Douglas would feel if we lost. He worked so hard all season long, and I wanted this for him, for me.

One of my Assistant Coaches came up to me and asked if the players realized the winning run was on third. I know he wanted me to yell out some directive to the players. I simply said “they know”. He said “are you sure they know”? I said “Yes, they know”. I told him to keep quite and not bark instructions to the players. He knew not to object. And I told my other Assistant Coach to keep quite. I was putting my trust into my players.

I silently stood there and watched everything around me. I saw the nervous faces of my players. I saw anticipation in the faces of the Dodger parents. I saw the lush green infield and the California blue sky. And I thought about what happened last year. Me finding Janet in the shower. Me doing CPR. The Paramedics coming over. The shock of it all. And somehow all those thoughts morphed into this one big game I was witnessing.

My pitcher threw the next pitch past the catcher and the runner started to run in. My catcher swiveled around, tore his mask off, ran to the ball, picked it up and flipped it to the pitcher. He caught it and made the tag on the runner and got him out. My Team Parents go absolutely berserk. I kept quite, emotionless. I watched my pitcher dominate the next two batters and strike them out.

We then go into extra innings needing at least one run. We get one in, just like we did the top of the fifth. Now it’s bottom of the sixth, and we’re holding a slim one-run lead. Somehow my pitcher has to repeat what he did the last inning. He strikes the first batter out. The Dodgers get the next two batters on base. Runners on first and second. One out.

Time is moving slow. I watch each pitch. The count goes up. Next pitch, it’s a solid hit, and my shortstop makes a great catch to record the second out. The runners stick on first and second base. Next batter is up. It happens to be their cleanup hitter. A big, strong kid. My outfield instinctively drops into deep field. The count goes up, balls and strikes. A pitch is thrown, the batter makes solid contact. It’s a line drive towards second base. My second baseman makes a phenomenal catch to end the game. We won!

I run out into the field whooping and yelling “we did it, we did it”! I pick up Douglas and give him a big, long hug. Waves of relief and joy swept me. Several parents remarked to me afterwards that they were touched when they saw Douglas and I in that big hug. It was a father-son moment that neither one of us will ever forget.

Janet’s funeral didn’t give me closure. I think back and I realized it opened up more wounds that it healed. It was a very confusing time for all of us, as we hadn’t know what happened to Janet.

I knew weeks ago that winning this game would give me closure. And I was right.

I look in the rear view mirror and I see my marriage receding in the past. It’s done and over with. Time to move on. It’s a whole new game.

Good Memories

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Yesterday morning Douglas and I were walking to school and saw a group of Parents milling around the front schoolyard. It was the 6th Grade promotion Ceremony being set up.

Graduating from 6th Grade is a milestone for these kids. It’s off to Junior High School and a whole new experience. The girls wore their pretty dresses and the boys, well let’s just say they made an effort to dress in slacks and button shirts instead of the usual shorts & tees. The Parents were buzzing around the kids, taking pictures, hugging their kids and posing with the teachers. You could sense the excitement in the air. A big, exciting time for all.

This past year has been about laying down good memories for my three kids. Children need to feel safe and trusted. And trust others around them. It’s been going well for them. For me it has been getting better each day until this week.

June 12th is coming next week. If it was only that it’d be enough. But there has been a confluence of events in the children’s lives. All of them milestones in their own right. Savannah’s Prom Night several weekends ago. Courtney going to her first school dance tonight. Douglas and his Baseball team gunning for the league championship next week. Courtney as a finalist for the prestigious Student of the Year Award. I feel sad and lonely knowing that their Mom isn’t here to see all of this. Janet would be so proud of her kids.

Children are remarkably resilient. They have a lifetime in front of them. Adults, on the other hand, hold a lifetime of memories. Some of it good and some of it bad. I need to do what I’ve been doing all along. Forget the bad memories of Janet’s manipulation and remember the good times we all had. Yes, there were plenty of good times. And let my kids enjoy the next several weeks as themselves.

Children deserve good memories.

Moral Realism

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There’s a little movie that came out about 10 years ago called K-Pax. In it Kevin Spacey plays an Alien disguised as a Human. When he’s asked to define morality he says “Every Living Creature In the Universe Knows the Difference Between Right and Wrong.”

That’s been my mantra for teaching morality to my children. I tell my kids to use their best judgement. And you know what? They nearly always make the right choice. Their instinct tells tham what’s right and wrong. What they still have trouble with is finding the courage to stand up for their beliefs.

That’s when I come in. They need to feel safe at home. They need to know I will always be there for them. To know that I will always stand up for them no mater what. My kids need to believe in themselves.

Don’t get me wrong. I set boundaries. I expect them to learn and practice proper etiquette. Beyond that, I don’t prescribe a code of conduct. The world is too complex and dynamic to codify a precise set of behavioral standards.

Their moral courage is growing. They are learning to stand up for what is right. They are learning to trust themselves. They are learning to once again trust me.

This child-rearing philosophy is where Janet and I had our biggest disagreement. She believed she could control their behavior. I didn’t see it that way.