Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My dad

Sunday was the second Father's Day and couldn't give good wishes to my dad. You see, he died in 2008. I think of him often, his good nature, his ability to fix almost anything around the house and his way of taking life in stride.

Dad and I weren't very close when I was growing up. He wanted to make sure the house was as spotless as possible, especially outside, and I was into sports, big time. I didn't want to learn about tools and home repairs and he didn't want to play baseball or basketball with a sports crazy son.

Other dads coached their sons, or at least came to their games. Not my dad. He was too busy around the house. Looking back on it, that's just the way he was.

As I got into my 20s, we got closer, but we really grew close when I bought my first house. He taught me so much in those years before me died. He wasn't a good teacher, couldn't explain himself very well. But I watched and learned. I can't count the number of projects he helped me complete, or should I say, I helped him complete.

He taught me how to be a dad. A good dad. To me, that means being there for my kids whenever they need me, no matter in issue. I hope some day, Erin, Justin and Katie will say the same about me.

Thanks, Dad.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's Day

What makes a great Father's Day? I guess it depends on the dad. Some dads might like to get a call from their kids, if they are on their own. Other dads might like lots of gifts to show the kids' appreciation for a job well done.

Me? I just wanted my three kids to be together and have some fun. So was it a great Father Day for me? You bet.

Erin, Justin and I played some basketball and I just happen to take those two teens to school, showing them dear old dad can still shoot the lights out of the roundball.

Katie and Mommy watched the play, and afterward, I filled Katie's baby pool and she went "swimming." And after Erin left for work, Justin and I played tennis. He's gotten too good.

And still later, Mommy, Katie, Grandma and Grandpa came down and the six of us went for a little walk.

Grilled hot dogs for dinner and a big, special "Father's Day cookie" to top it all off. By the way, I received a golf bag and electric razor as gifts.

But that's a minor point. Having all three kids with me on Father's Day was the best present of all. Thanks, kids. You are the best.

Monday, June 14, 2010

College Cash

Hey parents, do you dream of your kids going to college? Better start saving now. Better yet, parents should start saving before their child is born. Sounds silly? It's not, really.

That's because the sooner you start saving for their education after high school, the more money they will have saved. It doesn't have to be a lot. Whatever you can afford. But you must make it a priority.

What? You say you don't have any extra cash to spare? Come on, of course you do. And if you don't, you are living beyond your means. Eat more meals at home instead of going out. Clip coupons. Buy off-brands. Drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle. There are lots of ways to save. But you must make the effort.

I was lucky. My parents had enough money saved to pay for most of my college education. They were from "The Greatest Generation," that saved before they made a big purchase. They lived through the Depression and before credit cards and 12-months-same-as cash promotions. I guess I learned from them. They owned four houses in their lifetime and never paid a mortgage. I have not been as lucky, but I did get my money-management skills from them.

As you may know, my oldest daughter has just finished her first year of college and it appears we will be able to pay for all four years, stock market permitting.

My son, has one more year before college and I think we have enough for at least three years of college.

And my toddler daughter, well she has a good start on her college fund.

Has it been easy? NO. But in the long run it is worth it for two reasons; 1, they will enter the working world almost debt free, and 2, you will be teaching them money-management skills that they will hopefully then pass down to their children.

So the way I look at it, it's a win-win situation for everyone. And it's nice when plans come together.

Good luck, and start saving. Your kids some day will thank you.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Good kids

How do you know if you are or were a good parent?

Well, in my mind, it takes years to tell. Not until your children are teenagers or out of high school or college and employed can you tell for sure. And maybe not even then.

For me, looking at who my two older kids, Erin, 19, and Justin, 17, have become, make me feel I have done a good job, so far.

Erin just finished her freshman year in college with good grades and has a summer job. I met her latest boyfriend this week and he seems like a nice guy.

And as I was jogging this morning, who do I see at the tennis courts but Justin and two of his band mates. It was great to see them getting exercise on a late spring day. And Justin has become a fairly good tennis player.

We exchanged hellos and I continued my run.

Are they perfect kids? No. But we are all flawed individuals. I just try to give them unconditional love and hope they learn from their mistakes. I'm lucky to have two good teens.

As for my third child, Katie, she is only 18 months, but she has already gotten into lots of "toddler trouble." And that's OK. She's learning the difference between right and wrong.

What kind of teen will she be? Only time will tell. I will try to lead her in the right direction. But no matter what, I will give her unconditional love.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Technology: Where will it takes us next?

A lot can happen in 18 years. I should know. That's the age difference between my oldest child, Erin, and my youngest, Katie.

Erin will be 20 in November, and Katie will be 2. That's a big age difference.

I point this out to demonstrate how much technology has changed since 1990, the year Erin was born. In that year, who had a cell phone? Maybe a better question would have been "what IS a cell phone?"

Now the vast majority of Americans feel naked if they don't carry their cell phones 24/7. My 80 year old mother even has one. And if she has one, you know they have reached most of us.

What about cable TV? Sure it was around in 1990, but the number of channels has exploded over the past decade. There is now a channel for almost every interest, from sports and food channels, to music and home channels. And lets not forget History.

Probably the biggest change has come with the personal computer and the Internet. We all have them, desktops and laptops. In fact, without computer and the Internet, I would not be able to communicate with you in this format. The computer and Internet have changed our lives so much, many of us wonder how we got by without them.

My point is what will technology bring our way in 18 years, when Katie is ready to celebrate her 20th birthday. All I can say is stay tuned.