Merging My New Year’s Resolutions with My “To Do” List

I know people have differing views of the value of New Year’s Resolutions, but I always do them. They give me a moment to reflect on the previous year’s aspirations, successes, and failures, and to articulate some new (or, often, continuing) aspirations for the coming year.

One problem, though, is that I don’t often revisit my resolutions. They are the front page on my bullet journal, but I only occasionally remember to look at that page through the year.

So, when I saw an advertisement for Personalized Paper Manufacturing Group, I got an idea. I could make custom “To Do” list notepads that begin with some of my New Year’s Resolutions, then have extra lines for me to write in other things I need to do that day.

I bought 8 pads with 50 sheets each for $32 including shipping. At $4 per pad that is more expensive than using scrap paper, but less expensive than some of the fine stationary to do list pads I like to use.

I am big into to do lists, so I’m excited to see if this tool will help me do better with my resolutions for 2018.

I Love the Suburbs

Since about 1996, I have lived “in the city.” But now my family lives in a city of suburbs, connected by various parkways to zip along to different suburban housing developments. We live in one such housing development (picture lots of cul-de-sacs and curving roads and no sidewalks).

Why I love it:

(1) No one bothers you. Our house has a house on either side and one that adjoins our back yard. And there are two houses essentially across the street. Of the 5 families living in these houses — our “neighbors” — only 2 have introduced themselves to us. Of course, we’ve only lived there just over four months. I’m afraid that in time the others may talk to us and disturb our peace and tranquility. If I wanted neighbors to talk to me, I wouldn’t have moved to the suburbs. That’s what apartments in the city are for, right?

(2) Everyone has at least one vehicle the size of a Chevy Suburban. And because they only have 1 or 2 kids, this means that there is plenty of room for them to load up their land barges with neighborhood kids and take them to do kid activities. Well, at least in theory. Not that anyone does this. (See #1 above.) But if they wanted to, the could!

(3) You can play fun games with people in the neighborhood like “Scare the Walkers.” I will be working in my front yard and see someone out getting their daily exercise walking by. They pretend not to see me (see #1 above) and I’ll pretend not to see them either, and then I’ll startle them by turning in their direction and saying, “Hi!” You should see the total confusion come over them! They are just at a total loss as to how to react. I love that.

If this sounds like an ideal situation to you, you should move to the suburbs, too. It’s great.

Kids are Funny, Part Deux

More conversations in the household —

10 Year Old Son: There are too many girls in my Sunday school class.

Father: How can that be? That’s like saying there are too many flowers.

5 Year Old Son: Boys and girls are enemies.

Father: What?!

5 Year Old Son: Like England and France.

I don’t know who writes these kids’ material, but some of it is pretty dang funny. Of course, beneath the humor lurks an ugly reality: from an early age boys and girls are taught to think of each other as different and hostile genders. I am always amazed to find — as I did in my son’s kindergarten class this year — separate sign-in sheets for boys and girls. Is this necessary? Or lining up for lunch in two different lines: one for boys one for girls. I can see having kids line up by gender if they are waiting to use the bathroom, but for lunch? These practices go on totally unquestioned in the schools.

And those are the more mild forms of gender differentiation. See Barrie Thorne’s book, Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School.

Kids are funny

From the household this morning —

Dad: Oh, Son, I just dropped my sock. Can you hand it to me?

Son (5 years old): Parents hurt themselves when they bend over.

Dad: Why is that?

Son: Because they’re old and they hurt their backs.

— in this case, the truth really does hurt.

Slackin’ on my bloggin’

OK, so I have been slackin’ on my bloggin’, but a new semester has started so I am back and ready to elevate my game.

In fairness, much has happened since the last posting on May 17th. Sold a house, bought a house, moved out of apartment into new house, separated family members moved to NC, lots of unpacking and yard work. Kids spent much of the summer at the neighborhood swimming pool. I read the page proofs and created indexes for two forthcoming books (one to be published in September 2005 and one in early 2006), organized a professional meeting of 200+ people in Philadelphia, and prepared to take over as editor of an academic journal. Not to mention playing in a mixed doubles tennis league. More on all of that later.

So, the three months of summer flew by. Blogging is about the only thing I slacked on this summer.

Welcome back.

Breaking News — Home

Last weekend, on April 10th to be specific, we received an offer to purchase our house in Indiana. Of course, it is not sold until it passes inspection and goes to closing, but the prospect of uniting our family again is much better than it was a week ago. It’s hard to imagine, but the kids and I have been here in NC for four months. That’s a long time to be apart. That’s alot of pizza and corn dogs for the kids’ dinner.

There is no doubt that there was some divine intervention in the process. After three-plus months of no offers, my wife decided to look to a higher power. So, on Friday, she buried a statue of St. Joseph — Patron Saint of Home Sales — in the backyard and we both asked St. Joseph to intervene with the big guy for us. On Saturday, a couple came to see the house. On Sunday, they came back and made an offer. We countered, they countered, we countered again, and we settled on that.

Thanks be to St. Joseph!

What Happened to March?

OK, let’s just say that March was an insane month, so I’ve gotten a bit off track in terms of posting. Let me review.

First of all, three weeks of March were given over to spring break. Of course the spring break at Wake Forest University did not overlap with the kids’ spring break at school. So, I drove the kids back to Indiana in early March so they wouldn’t have to sit around the apartment all day long while I was at work. The day we arrived in Indiana, I dropped the kids off at home and left immediately for the airport to fly to Louisville for a meeting. I flew back the next day, spent the weekend at home, and had a chance to visit with a couple of OLU students, which was great. Then I spent a couple of days the next week at the playa’s club in Chicago – where I got to meet a Luvabull live and in person – then drove back to NC for a conference.

While the kids were away, I was busy organizing a professional meeting that is taking place in August. Over a hundred scholars will be participating in nearly 50 sessions. It was an organizational challenge, to be sure.

During this time, my father had a stroke. Since the kids were away I flew right away to California to visit with him. He is physically every well, though his speech is difficult and needs practice.

The week I got back from California I drove back to Indiana to pick up the kids. Over that weekend — Easter weekend — I loaded up a U-Haul with household junk to bring back to NC, watched an OLU baseball game and tennis match, and visited with a townie/OLU student at a local tavern.

Our first trip back to Indiana, the kids and I left March 2 and we finally arrived back on March 28. In between all of this traveling, I also had my regular teaching responsibilities, grading, and advising students.

Nothing creative or funny to say about it. It was just a brutal month.

One Down, Many More to Go

Two weeks in NC and one week of classes are now behind me. I felt like I was going non-stop the whole time: getting here, moving in, setting up at home, getting the kids started in school, meeting the principals and teachers, moving in to my office, figuring out how things work on campus, preparing for classes, managing enrollments, and teaching.

I finally hit the wall on Thursday. I picked up the kids at school and we came home for a snack. At about quarter to four, Chipper asked if I would play basketball with him. I said sure, but let me take a 15 minute nap first. Well, I woke up an hour and a half later. Just in time to make dinner.

Speaking of which, I am proud to say that we did not eat out once during our second week here and I never failed to provide the kids with a lunch for school. Not to say that they’re getting alot of diversity, but they are getting some good “anticipatory socialization” for when they are living as bachelor/ette/s later in life. Our dinner entrees last week were: dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets, fried chicken, burritos, left over burritos and chicken nuggets, fish sticks and pizza. Kids also have to eat vegetables with every dinner. This weekend I am going to make fresh fish. I have a recipe for cod, called “Torsk,” that allegedly makes the fish taste like lobster. Of course, my kids don’t like lobster. But I guess if they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat. We’ll see.

So, we’re basically settled in now and looking forward to the start of the spring tennis season. Wake Forest University doesn’t field softball or lacrosse teams, so the spring here won’t be as much fun as at Our Lady’s University. But I guess that is what PlayStation is for!

North Carolina Come On and Raise Up

NOTE: Any time I put a proper name in quotation marks, that means I am using a pseudonym. I will try to do this the first time I use a pseudonym in any posting.

First of all, let me say that my two kids, “Chipper” (9 going on 10) and “Beth” (7 going on 8), and I made the two day, 700 mile journey from our previous home to North Cackalacka without incident. And, yes, we did blare Petey Pablo as we crossed over from West Virginny into NC. If I wasn’t driving, I would have taken my shirt off, twisted it around my head, and spun it like a helicopter.

We are currently separated from my wonderful wife of nearly 12 years, “Bella,” and our youngest son, “Lil Ricky” (4 going on 5), who are back in our previous home trying to sell our house. On the afternoon of our arrival, we moved into our 3 bedroom apartment. We had more clothes than any person has a right to own, but only one folding chair and a card table for furniture. A quick trip to Wal-Mart got me an inflatable twin matress, which doubles as a sofa when we’re watching TV. The kids both sleep on the floor. I told them it is fun, like camping! They don’t seem to find it as uncomfortable as I would. Of course, they have less body mass pressing down on the wood floors to make themselves uncomfortable.

On the domestic front, I am feeling some pressure from being entirely responsible for getting them three meals a day. We’ve been eating healthy cereal for breakfast and they have gotten good lunches to take to school so far (we’re 3 days in). Dinner has been typical of my diet during college: hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, pizza, and hamburgers. I should say that they also have to eat vegetables with every dinner, so it’s not terrible.

On a brighter note, we now have cable TV for the first time since 1991, which is good for kids shows, sports, and movies, but otherwise is a total — but irresistable — waste of time. Why was I up at 2:00 am flipping back and forth between “Iron Chef,” professional wrestling, and “The Real World”? Because it was there! For the past 13 years, the bulk of my knowledge of popular culture has come through print media (magazines and the New York Times) or students. I don’t know what’s going to happen now that I can access this culture directly.

Although we’ve been here less than a full week, our weekday routine is as follows: I’m up at 6 or 6:30 am to shower and get dressed. The kids are up at 6:30 or 7 am for breakfast. We head out for the bus around 7:45 (it picks them up about 100 yards from our apartment). I then make the 6 minute walk up to my office where I work until 3 pm when I head back to the bus stop to get the kids. Of course, since I work more than 35 hours a week, I put in more hours after the kids go to bed at 8 pm.

Overall, I’m excited to be here and to get started on my new professional and personal life. Of course, our time here hasn’t been without disappointment. I took the kids to Pig Pickin’s the other day for some bar-b-que and they told us they were out of pig. No ribs, no tips, no pulled pork. Nothing. How is a father supposed to explain to his children why they have no pig at Pig Pickin’s? Well, no one said being a parent is easy.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for my reflections on the previous 7 years and my thoughts looking to the future. Slappy is outtie.