Mike the Tiger 2005-2016

This is Mike VI, the mascot of the LSU Tigers. He was euthanized today because of inoperable brain cancer. I didn’t intend to write this today, but as I was driving home from work I heard the news. This picture of Mike is one my daughter took with my phone while he was sleeping. Like many fans of LSU, we often take our children to see Mike on the LSU campus hoping to instill a sense of pride and devotion to higher learning and education. Many may not know but Mike was a rescue animal when he found his home in Baton Rouge.  I spent many a hour just being a dad with my kids in front of his den trying to get a good look. He had one of the whitest faces of any tiger I have ever seen. My kids and I will miss him.

App-ally Distracted 

In my house, spelling test can be a problem, and in my daughter’s case, you would have thought I asked her to cut off an arm instead of writing her spelling words. Such a drama queen. Lucky for me, I found just the app I was looking for. “My Spelling Test” was an app that allowed me to input her spelling words into my tablet and then it would call them out for her to spell. At the end, it would give the score. You can practice over and over with no pressure and make a game out of studying for spelling. Check out the apps, there may be the right one for you.

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. 

The 7 reasons I hate you Franklin Covey

There I said it. Someone had to. Anyway there are way more than 7 reasons. In fact, I won’t even give you the satisfaction of making a list. You call it Leadership, Keys to Success, Conflict Resolution, Emotional Intelligence, Myers-Briggs and some sort of “Color” I turned out to be.
I call it Labeling, Subjection, Compartmentalizing, Formulation, and Brain Washing. You want me to have “Skills for Good Program Management” Then leave me alone to do my job. 

You know, maybe it’s NOT the way I formulized the question; maybe my co-worker is just a dumbass.
Not everyone is always on the same page. We are all different with different goals. I am not some variable that can be plugged into a formula to get an expected outcome. Shame on you.

It’s like anything in life. Some days you’re the lion and other days you’re the zebra.

What makes a good leader? It’s simple.
It’s when others see in you a path that can get them to where they want to be.

“You want to be a leader?” Then shed the shackles of conformity and blaze a new path. I’m sure George Washington didn’t know his MBTI type.

Author’s Note: This diatribe was formulated on the way to yet another mandated Franklin Covey training session. Like leadership can be bottled up and packaged like Coca-Cola. (insert sarcasm here) A bit ironic that the future leaders are being lead into training like lemmings heading off the cliff. Now I know there are some of you who follow and believe in this method, it’s just not me, and we too have a voice and a difference of opinion.

Best Toy in the Toy Chest

I’m a big LEGO fan but perhaps the best toy in the toy chest is the all wood constructed “Quadrilla” marble run set by Hape Toys. Hape is a creator of high-quality developmental products for early learners with a focus on using natural materials and water-based paints with a detail-oriented approach (Perfect for the families who like the “Hands On” learning experience.)

Our Quadrilla set was first purchased from the Learning Express, now gone from Baton Rouge. This set can truly grow with your kids from about the age of 2 through adulthood. If you still enjoy building puzzles, you will enjoy building with these blocks with or without your children. In fact, if you take away the marbles for a couple of years, your infant can play with the primary colored painted blocks till they are ready for construction.

Young children will need the help of adults for construction but the instructions are a step by step picture guide on stacking the blocks with the spacers and the rails for the marble runs. Expansion sets are also available, even ones with musical bars, so when the marble hits it, it plays a musical note.The blocks themselves are all different which adds to the fun. Some have an internal switch that diverts the marble to either side. Some just drop straight through and others shoot the marble to the right or left. They even have a teeter totter and spiral tracks. 
If it’s a long rainy day, we play for hours. There are even more instructions online or you can make up your own and put those online for others to build.
A true Montessori approach to learning.
We have many fond memories of family constructions as well as disasters. 

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

My 7 Mistakes of Having a Website (Continued)

7.    I’m Not as Funny as I Thought I Was.   

“You cut me deep, Shrek. You cut me real deep just now.”
This was perhaps my hardest lesson. “Build it and they will come” I thought. But this was not the case. “I can write funny stories” “My friends think I’m funny”

Where is everyone? Wow, does everyone have a website or blog? Yes, as a matter of fact, they do. The competition can be fierce.

So far, (still new here) I will just keep plugging away and listen to advice from others on how to improve and increase traffic. In the meantime, I will just keep writing and improving my skills and make friends along the way. As Dory says, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming.”