Longing for Adventure 

Wow, trying to figure out how to post again on WordPress. I guess it has been a little bit over a year. Too much happening or just binge watching “Game of Thrones.” I wanted to post another poem from my daughter for comment. I enjoy them so, and will polish them up is she lets me. This one she didn’t. She was inspired from our Friday night Dungeons and Dragons game. (The pic is my son and I shooting rockets several years ago. As you can see my wife’s overzealous safety measures)

Longing for Adventure

Longing for adventure we sit in this room,

ticking past minutes as day reaches noon.

We will no longer be kept trapped up in here

as we set out for adventure in our very best gear.

Armed with swords, arrows and spears,

We sneak out of the room as dark soon nears.

Hidden by shadows the dark reaches night,

As we plan to be back before the first light.

As we reach the courtyard we sneak past the guard who’s too busy to even care

Continuing there, it’s too late to be scared.

In the stillness of the night, around the corner and under the trees,

We crouch down low to crawl on our knees.

Snickering, punching, and stifling laughter,

we narrowly avoided a grave disaster;

A mother scolding her child for being out at night,

As they left we saw the most wondrous sight;

Of fireflies blinking in small specks of light.

We head back knowing that dawn will soon strike,

wondering and preparing for what to do the next night.

We sneak back into the room holding a new secret of something to do,

next time we’re longing for adventure.
Please comment. Thanks.

Family Game Night 1

Here’s a fun little card game we’ve been enjoying recently; it’s called COUP. Full of lying and deception as each player tries to outwit their opponent. Fun and fast paced. Each player gets two cards and each card has certain abilities and can cancel out others. Gather enough coins for a coup and take out other player’s cards, steal other player’s coins or flat out assassinate your opponent. Each game lasts about 15 minutes so you’re not stuck in a game all night. Once you lose both cards, you are out the game. 2 to 6 players. Box says 13 and above but we have no problem with younger players. (say 8) I give it 5 stars out of 5.


Card characters and abilities. 

The Day I Lost my Innocence 

I remember it like it was yesterday. I came home from a grueling day of baseball practice proceeded by an even worse day of school. “What’s for dinner mom?” I shouted as I blasted through the door with my dog Chase at my side. “Red beans” mom said, “and go wash up” I heard as I was running to the bathroom. I was so hungry, it seemed like forever since I last ate. I ran to the table and sat down at my place. What was this? I thought to myself. This did not look like red beans. “Mom, what is this?” I said as the hunger pains were welling up in my stomach. “Why these are baby red beans” she said as coolly as a used car salesman on a Detroit auto lot. I looked back down at my plate. Could it be? Was this some exotic legume I did not know about? OK I thought, succumbing to my hunger. I took a bite. “Do you like them?” mom said. “They are alright, don’t taste like red beans though.” I replied. As I ate, the hunger soon faded and I decided I wasn’t much into dinner anymore.  “Go clean your plate and get ready for bed” she said with a grin of a Chelsire cat. I took my plate and what was left to scrape off into the garbage can. The horror, oh the horror, there in the garbage staring up at me were two empty cans of field peas like some severed head to be discovered at the scene of a crime. I turned to my mom, the innocence of my youth tattered in ruins, “you lied to me” I said with a tremble in my voice.  “Oh don’t be a baby” she chuckled, “now go to bed.”

As always, comments are appreciated.

Your Worst Experience 

Well school is well underway and with it is my son’s first essay of the year. His task: Write about your worst experience.  Enjoy.

Far Fence

Last year, a catastrophic event ensued because my mom had the idea of cycling on the levee in the midst of the summer heat. My family and I thought it was a brilliant idea as we were driving toward Baton Rouge. However, we could not have been farther from the truth. As we were preparing to start the event, we found that my sister’s bicycle tire was flat and that she could not ride. As a result, she and my dad left to repair her tire. After she departed, the remainder of our group (my mom, Ms. Andrea, Andre, and I) finally set off on our bicycle trail.

The following hours were some of the most strenuous and physically exhausting that I had ever experienced. It seemed as though the cycling trip went on forever, riding up and down the levee in the summer heat with little water. The only thing keeping our group going, apart from my mom, was the promise of a break once we reached our destination. We cycled and cycled, tiring by the minute, but we were still moving forward. Slowly, everyone’s temperament started to change as fatigue and frustration built. The whole group was ready to reach the park and to take a break.

We had a terrible realization once we cycled the distance to the park. Although my mom presented our destination as a place of rest, in reality, it was Farr Park Equestrian Center. In other words, the “park” was a fence. As a result of this conclusion, many emotions rose up inside me, chief among them being anger and disappointment. As soon as I realized the truth, I biked as quickly as I could in the opposite direction to leave that forsaken place, which I dubbed “Far Fence.” Following in my wake was my mom, who was full of mirth because of my sudden outburst. Unfortunately, Far Fence had one last event for us to remember it by, Andre soon fell ill with heat exhaustion. Finally, after the cycling trip of the decade, we were able to leave Far Fence and were able to have as much water and sleep as we wanted.

Dad’s Note:

While my daughter and I made an honest effort to get her bike fixed, it was Sunday and all the shops were closed. We ended up getting ice cream and visiting the LSU tiger instead. 

This is still an issue in my household. 

 

Call of the Wild and Leadership

I must admit, I’ve been away from WordPress for quite awhile. Things get hectic and work’s been a absolute bear. And with work comes leadership training.  One requirement for the leadership course was a book essay. I took a different path from the regular leadership books and read and wrote about Call of the Wild. I’d thought I’d share.

Call of the Wild

A Leadership Perspective

Jack London 1903

1 Minute Summary

The story Call of the Wild is written from the perspective of a dog named Buck. Buck is a porch dog of Saint Bernard and Scottish Shepard mix who watches over his master’s estate in California. He is kidnapped one night by a servant and sold to traders to be taken to the Northern territory to work as a sled dog in the harsh conditions in the 1800 Yukon gold rush. Buck has to overcome many obstacles and hardships. He learns of cruelty and survival. Through the course of the book, Buck shows his tenacity and leadership. He becomes part of a team, eventual leader, and faces insurmountable challenges. He is eventually saved from a certain death and becomes loyal to his final owner. Buck is drawn to the Arctic wilderness and eventually becomes leader of a pack of wolves and fully evolves from a domestic dog to answer the Call of the Wild.

Buck’s Leadership Qualities and the Team He Leads

Buck changes throughout the story from a pampered Southern house dog into the leader of a pack of sled dogs. Buck proved that he could become a leader by adapting to his surroundings and situations, learning from his teammates, coordinating his team of sled dogs, and by attempting to accomplish his given tasks regardless of the effort it might take. Buck demonstrated his ability to adapt both mentally and physically, with examples being his use of creativity to defeat Spitz and needing to eat less as time passed with him in the Yukon. Buck was capable of learning from both his situation and his teammates to survive in his new environment; his usage of sleeping in the snow (which was first practiced by his fellow sled dogs) is an example of this capability. Buck showed leadership skills in coordinating his team of sled dogs after taking over Spitz’s position as lead dog, as before he accomplished this task the dogs were not working together productively. Finally, Buck demonstrated his determination when he was owned by the Scott, heedless of the weight of the load he was pulling or of the distance he had to travel; Buck never gave up or stopped working.

Buck constantly had to deal with change. Even at the end of the book, Buck went through a transition phase where he would go back and forth from the wild to his domestic life until finally reaching the point in which he makes the decision to stay with his wolf pack.

The Team

Just as we all have served on diverse teams, Buck too was no different. His team consisted of: 

Spitz: Original dog sled leader and Buck’s rival who lead with fear and intimidation.

Curly: Buck’s first friend on the team and a bit naive.

Dave: Another of Buck’s first companions and one of the most knowledgeable sled dogs. Dave comes to life when he is in the harness, motivated and takes pride in his work.

Sol-leks: Like Dave, he is aloof until attached to the sled. He has suffered poor treatment in the past.

Billie: Good-natured and sweet, shows Buck how to make a bed in the snow. Billie is a friendly and helpful member of the team.

Joe: Billie’s brother and is always snarling and defensive.

Pike: Often referred to as “the malingerer.” He rarely gets up on time, steals food and generally undermines the expedition. When Buck becomes leader, he forces Pike to shape up and become a helpful member of the team.

Dub: The awkward goof ball of the team.

When we examine all the members of Buck’s team, we can relate each of them to similar people who have served on teams with us.

Biography of Jack London

London is a San Francisco native, born in the late 1800’s and was a traveler and adventurer in his youth. London not only traveled on trains and ships, but also participated in the Yukon gold rush. London used these experiences for inspiration in his stories. Writing and getting published greatly disciplined London and because of this, he made it a practice to write at least a thousand words a day. Jack London is recognized in literature more for his inspirational stories about man and nature than for his literary prowess.

Why I chose the book

While helping my son study for his English courses, we came into the discussion of the book Call of the Wild. I had remembered the book from school when I was younger, but I didn’t think I was ever required to read it. In our talks, I developed a fondness for the book and put it on my list of “Things to Read.” I had always heard the book mentioned when people discussed leadership, so I took the opportunity not only to read the story of a dog named Buck and his call to the wild but to use it to discuss life’s lessons and leadership.

Terrarium:  A Dad Project 

This is a great little project that I have done twice already and both times it came out very nice. Unfortunately I didn’t think at the time to take pictures so I could post the process.

While taking the kids through the Aquarium of the Americas, we passed through a frog exhibit and I thought, “You know, this would be quite easy to do at home.” One can usually find an old aquarium tank lying around or find one relatively cheap. I got one and set it up in my boy’s room.

Next, I bought a bunch of cheap plants from Wal-Mart, ivies and such and replanted them in containers that would fit at the bottom of the tank and placed river rocks in front to hide the containers from view. I next did the same for a small corner water fall I bought at the pet store (as to keep the water contained from flowing throughout the tank.) You can fix all of this to your liking, adding driftwood and shells, even a backdrop if desired.

To finish things off, I made a frame from spare wood for the top. Basically a 2” wood frame that I stapled screen mesh from Home Depot at the bottom and just set this on top of the tank. I lastly fixed 2 clamp lights on top to regulate the light and temperature.Now my kids get a kick out of catching tree frogs that hang out all around my house in the spring and having a place to put them. They are easy to keep and can be fed by buying live crickets from Petsmart. We tried little turtles but they quickly ran throughout the tank and buried themselves. I had to tear everything apart to find them.
Water the plants as needed and keep a spray bottle nearby for misting the tank. The frogs can get loud but give a nice sound to sleep by. A black light at night also adds to the fun. We added Anole lizards that we caught but they will clean you out of crickets in no time.

Rafting the Pigeon

It was the end of this recent May and school just couldn’t finish fast enough for the start of summer. The plan was already set up long ago for this moment; a trip to the Tennessee Mountains for a rafting trip with the kidos.

After a family pow-wow and sizing up the skill level of the children, as well as, a good guess on how long we thought they could be on a river, we chose the Upper Pigeon River.

The Pigeon River flows through a beautiful area in the Great Smoky Mountains near part of the Appalachian Trail and is a great place for beginners. Its flow is controlled by the hydroelectric dam in western North Carolina (right on the state line.) For rafting purposes, the river is divided into the Upper and Lower sections. The Lower section features gentle waves and beautiful scenery. We did this portion when my son was just a toddler. “Such a great run to get their little feet wet.”

This time we were doing the Upper section that begins at the powerhouse and features Class III-IV whitewater rapids. We booked the trip through the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Gatlinburg (NOC) that just so happened to have “half off” the regular price. (We had a great experience with these guides and would definitely book with them again)
20160531_131830NOC river site

Well the day was beautiful, the kids were excited, and the water was perfect. Everyone put in at the hydroelectric dam. We were off. First rapid right off the bat is PowerHouse (class 4) and everyone got wet. Then it became a scenic world wind ride through: Aftershave (class 2), Second Helping (class 3), Vegematic (class 3), Big Bend (class 3), Roller Coaster (class 3), Lost Guide (class 4) “funny because a raft did lose a guide here on our trip”, Rooster Tail (class 3), and Accelerator (class 4). Lastly, there is a swimming hole float area so the kids can have a bit of fun in the water. Because they haul you on a bus to get to the Put-In spot, you end where you parked your car. (very small town)
20160601_092005The Bean Tree Cafe
20160601_1345352
This area is quite nice and you can zip-line if you like. We made our way to The Bean Trees Café for burgers. They have a deck on the river and you can watch the other rafts come in. It was such a great adventure.
Oh, did I mention that the river guides were AWESOME.
20160601_091802

An Open Letter to the Tooth Fairy

This is the note left for the Tooth Fairy last night because of her dereliction of duty and her forgetfulness from the night before. Although I did have to explain to my daughter that sometimes the Tooth Fairy can be very busy and find it hard to break a twenty. I thought this was too sweet not to share. Happy Sunday. 

Poem

I must say, still being new to the wordpress.com community, I am pretty impressed with all the writings that people have posted, especially the poetry. Now I’m not a big English Lit guy and have long put my books away only to revisit now and then in my children’s schoolwork. This brings me to today’s blog. Every year in the spring, my children’s Montessori School puts on a “Mother’s Day Tea” in which the children recite a poem from memory for all the moms in attendance. My daughter, not to be outdone by her brother who could memorize Hamlet if he had to, wrote her own. It was a pleasant little poem that only needed a bit of tweaking from a loving dad to have a nice transition. She wanted no part of my intrusion and quit talking to me for a couple of days. We have since made amends and here is the poem.

Blow a Kiss

Blow a kiss to the sky
Every night your dream flies by
In the morning as you wake
Another chance you will take
To make that dream come true and then
When the night comes once again
To dream a dream that you will fly
Very high above the sky 

Hannah at age 8