The Phonograph

Vinyl is making a comeback.

The first recorded sound was Thomas Edison’s voice, captured on phonograph in 1877 reciting part of the nursery rhyme song “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Then, ten years later Emile Berliner created the first device that recorded and played back sound using a flat disc, which became the forerunner of the modern vinyl record.

Over the next six decades records and record players were improved and standardized and by the 1970s, record player technology had evolved to the point where it has changed little in the last 50 years.

During that time cassette and eight-track tapes came and went. Then CDs came along followed by MP3 players, which were replaced by cell phones that now control the audio and video media we now consume.

Now, vinyl is making a comeback and Tami got me one of those vintage-looking phonograph/record players and a couple of vinyl albums for Father’s Day this year. I had not paid much attention to the vinyl revival because I really enjoy the high-quality audio of digital music downloaded to my iPhone.

But, from the moment I removed that vintage phonograph (although it has CD, FM radio and Bluetooth features) from the box and set it up, I was back in touch with my younger self! Music was a big part of my family when I was growing up. As a young child I I listened to music from my dad’s old 78 rpm records and my older brother’s 45 rpm records.

Continue reading

Parenting From the End

What will your children remember about you when you’re gone?

While most parents may not spend much time thinking about that, I actually think about that a lot!

I probably think about that too much! Maybe I even obsess about it. Because sometimes it seems that I am growing older faster than they are growing up!

In my previous post, Lucky and Blessed, I expressed the blessing of raising children the second time around. This post is a follow-up and, perhaps, illustrates the dark side of being an older parent.

Most parents are young adults when they have children. They expect to live long enough to watch their children grow up, graduate, start a career, get married, and have families of their own. And, they certainly don’t recognize their mortality as much as an older adult does.

But, my second-time-around parenthood is being performed nearer the end of my life than the beginning or middle. You might say, I’m parenting from the end!

Continue reading

The Blessedness of Being Little

“His overthrow heap’d happiness upon him;

For then, and not till then, he felt himself,

And found the blessedness of being little.”

(from Henry VIII by William Shakespeare)

My father was an English teacher and among the courses he taught during his career was English Literature. Unfortunately, the ability to read and understand Shakespeare was not a skill that he passed on to me.

So, if you are a Shakespeare illiterate like me, let me quickly explain the context and meaning of this quote and then I will get on with my story.

This declaration is made in reference to Cardinal Wolsey, the main villain in the play. Wolsey’s intrigues included attempting to keep Anne Boleyn from the king. When his downfall came, the cardinal recognized the futility of his ambitious pursuit for wealth and power and found an inner peace he described as a “fortitude of soul.” The character in the play who spoke these words described the cardinal’s transformation as “the blessedness of being little.”

I’ve been home recovering from an illness for most of a week. My recovery didn’t allow me to take care of the kids, so Conner picked them up at daycare, fixed them dinner, and got them to bed in the evenings. Then she came back in the mornings and fed them breakfast and got them ready and took them back to daycare.

Continue reading

So, How’s That Working Out for You?


On this blog I talk a lot about my bad parenting strategies and experiences, those things I’ve tried with the toddlers that seemed like a good idea at the time but didn’t work out like expected.

The results of my bad parenting techniques become embarrassingly obvious when we’re around parents that are the age parents should be when they have young children like I do and you compare my kids behavior to theirs. And it becomes even more embarrassing when it’s your own family!

My grown kids have always maintained that grandparents are not good parents. Whether or not that’s true (read this blog and find out), I maintain that I’m one of the best grandparents around. As a grandparent my job is to tell my grandchildren “Yes” and it’s their parents’ job to tell them “No.” And, I’m extremely good at my job!

Continue reading

Clever Comments: Bath Wars and Liberated Toddlers

I have mentioned on previous occasions that on this blog we don’t really have any good advice to give about raising children.

And, we don’t seem to have great insight into being a great parent or grandparent.

Instead, we’re asking for your advice!

We need your suggestions for being a better parent and grandparent!

You know, if you have read many of our posts, that we have plenty of stories to tell about what not to do in raising children, but very little useful information is provided about how to raise children correctly.

So, I’m always appreciative of comments that give good advice or provide some creative solutions to some of the problems I tell you about.

And I’m especially appreciative, when you you deliver it with cleverness. Good advice shrouded in wit!

So, in this post I want to share with you a couple of clever comments we pulled from the Comments Box (either from Facebook or the Comments at the end of each blog post).

I got a hearty laugh and some good ideas from both of these comments.

Continue reading

May I Help You?

It seems that almost everywhere I go with the toddlers people are offering to help me. I have to wonder, though, are the offers because I appear to be an unlikely, incompetent, or incapable parent?

And it’s not that I don’t appreciate the offers of help. I do!

It just makes me wonder who it is that people are feeling sorry for, me or the toddlers!

Here’s an example. The other evening we were at McDonald’s and the toddler’s were playing in the play area. This is a fairly regular routine, something we do most Friday nights.

While the toddlers were playing and at the prodding of some other kids, mine attempted to crawl up on the top part of the tubular slide. I told them to come down and warned them not to do it again.

Later, Kenzie again attempted to crawl on top of the tubular slide in the same way as I had earlier warned her not to do. As she was crawling up (and before I could tell her to get down), she slipped and bumped her mouth in some way that caused it to bleed.

Continue reading

Kids Say the Darndest Things – Vol. 1

Art Linkletter’s House Party was a daytime television variety show that aired from 1952 to 1969. The show featured everything from household hints to hunts for missing heirs. A humorous monologue by Linkletter would be followed by an audience participation quiz to win prizes.

The show also included performances by musical groups, informal celebrity interviews, and guest speakers from various walks of life.

The show’s best-remembered segment was “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” in which Linkletter interviewed schoolchildren between the ages of five and ten. During the segment’s 27-year run, Linkletter interviewed an estimated 23,000 children.

The show’s popularity led to two books by Linkletter based on the “Kids Say the Darndest Things” segment.

From time to time I try to write down humorous remarks made by the toddlers. However, some of the funniest things don’t get written down and I forget them or can’t remember exactly the way they said it because they come so unexpectedly.


Because the toddlers are trying to figure out how the world works, their funny remarks are usually in the form of an observation or explanation of the world as they see it from their toddler perspective.

Continue reading

Saturdays in the Park (in Our Backyard)

Where we live it gets hot in the summer, I mean really hot. So hot that all I want to do on weekends is stay inside the house in the air conditioning stationed under a ceiling fan.

But that’s not the toddlers idea of a fun Saturday. When Saturdays come around, they want to go outside and play no matter how hot it is.

You might recall that I’ve tried to make our backyard into a toddler theme park. And the toddlers want to play in the park in our backyard regardless of the temperature outside!

Continue reading

Cute, Cuddly, and Coy!

If you didn’t see the movie or if you have forgotten what it is about, the movie starred Mel Gibson playing the role of an alpha male-male chauvinist.

By an accident of nature he is given the ability to read women’s minds. Because of his female mind-reading skills, Gibson’s character grows from being a contemptible, insensitive jerk to becoming like one of the girls.

His life-altering ability allows him to reach out to his daughter, stop taking women at his office for granted, and discover that monogamy and love are for real.

So here’s my story and as I tell it, I think you will see how it relates to this movie:

We have a problem with naptime on weekends around our house. I want one and the toddlers don’t!

Sunday afternoons are especially difficult because I haven’t had a chance to wear them down with outdoor play before naptime.

This last Sunday we got home from church, ate lunch, and then I started trying to get the toddlers settled down for a nap.

Kaleb had caused some problems in the nursery at church. And so the nursery workers had taken away his play keys that I had allowed him to put in his pocket and take into church. (The children aren’t supposed to bring toys into the nursery, especially something like keys, and I was stupid to think he would actually keep the keys in his pocket.)

Continue reading

I’m Leaving, Does Anybody Care?

Arriving at daycare in OKC Thunder outfits

Each weekday I drop off the toddlers at daycare on my way to work.

The normal procedure is that Kaleb and I first take Kenzie to her classroom, then I take Kaleb to his classroom.

Each drop off is usually accompanied by a certain amount of pleading for me to come back and give them another kiss or another “I love you” and from time to time grabbing on to one of my legs and begging me not to leave or not to leave them.

Admittedly, there is a certain amount of drama being played out in this routine. And, admittedly, I like it because I like them to need me, even if expressed somewhat disingenuously!

Continue reading