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But Mom, That's Not What I Said"

So we are sitting at the dining room table eating dinner.  My youngest tells us that he is not that hungry.  He gnaws at his chicken a little more, gives up, puts it back on his plate and tells us, "I'm finished".  He then takes his styrofoam plate to the trash (we're tired of washing dishes!) and throws it away with the chicken and pasta still on the plate.  He then comes back to the table reaching for a candy cane.

"What are you doing?", we ask.

"I am getting a candy cane", he says with confidence.

"Sorry son, you just said that you were full".

He looks at us with a confused look on his face. "I didn't say I was full."

"Yes you did.  You said that you were full!", we say with FULL confidence.  I am standing ground here.  I know, it's just a candy cane, but it's the principle!

"Dad, I didn't say I was full", he says again.  He is standing his ground as well.  How are you gonna stand ground against…

You Need To Do Your Chores!

I got tired.  I really got tired.  Tired of coming to my house and seeing everything out of order.  I would straighten one thing up and another would get messed up.  So I would straighten that up, and then, the first thing I straightened...got messed up again!

So the Lord touched.  Better yet, he smacked me upside the upper left side of my neck and reminded me that I had two boys sitting... on the couch... watching... TV.  Two additional helpers.  What a coincidence!  Why did I not think of this earlier?  They need to be helping!  So I devise this great scheme -- make them help me with the house!  How...how...how brilliant!

So I sit down at the kitchen/ breakfast/ homework/ mail collector/ pseudo business office/ conference table and devise a plan.  I then summoned the boys to the multi-purpose table and asked them what they thought would be some good chores for them to do.  I knew there would be some resistance.  They said some stuff like 'make up their bed' or 'straighten …

Mom, Dad...I've Got a Proposal

We were siting at the dinner table eating the best of Thanksgiving leftovers.  My oldest is sitting across the table from me eating the remnants of the macaroni and cheese, when all of the sudden, he says, "Mom, Dad, you know I like money, right?"

"Yes son.", I say as I am thinking that this is already starting to be an interesting conversation.

"I was thinking that I could start a tea stand after church and sell the tea to everyone who is getting sick.", he says with a gleeming smile on his face.  I was right---this will be an interesting conversation.  My wife, P, and I are really not sure where this is going but he continues to explain his entire idea with careful thought and confidence.  He mentions how much he should sell each item for and how the money he raises could subsidize for his allowance. 


Now the conversation is getting intriguing for P and I.  So I ask, "Where and how will you get this tea?"

"Well, I was thinking that since…

Can I Get You Something To Drink?

Thanksgiving dinner was awesome!  There was juicy meats and and sauteed vegetables all over the table.  We had a few friends over as well to share in the joyous festivities.  The football game was on loud and clear on the tube (will the Detroit Lions ever win a Thanksgiving Day football game?) and people were talking and laughing...and some falling asleep.  It was a wonderful sight.


Well, my boys put on the 'apron' and began asking people, "Would you like anything to drink?"  It took and my wife aback for a second.  They circulated the room and asked just about everyone who did not have a drink.  It was wonderful.  My boys are serving!  They were so excited to have people over the house. 

Question- why did they never ask me or my wife? Show offs!

The Bassman is NOS...

I'm So Thankful For...

The other day, I went to my boys' school for their annual Thanksgiving Holiday service.  The Head of School told what he was thankful for.  He said how he was grateful for the big things, such as students, faculty, and family.  He also said he was thankful for the simple things, such as pencils and rulers, kids who look him in the eye when they greet him, and students who don't.  It was very heart warming and reflective.

Well, it's my turn. 
I am thankful for my fantastic life, full of its ups and downs.
I am thankful for my dazzling wife, who has taken me leaps and bounds.
I am thankful for my fun-loving boys, who keep my life alive.
I am thankful for their numerous toys, and how they keep them busy when often times I can't.
I am thankful for my wonderful Maryland home-it helps to keep us warm.
And thankful that I have a place that keeps us safe from the storms.
I am thankful that God has given me a chance to teach, where even I have learned alot.
I am thankful that …

My Boys Keep Me Alive!

My youngest son turned 6 years old this past week and did not let us forget it.  Funny!  We went to our boys' parent teacher conferences and both teachers said they are doing extremely well.  Awesome!  The oldest has become a ridiculous Washington Redskins fan (even though they have not been that successful lately).  Oh well!  My youngest started singing (half screaming) Whitney Houston's "I Go To The Rock" in Famous Dave's Restaurant, full with performance moves.  Hilarious!  Another friend told me that she threw up all over her child...and the child celebrated the event by clapping! Nice! These are just some of the things that happened...this weekend!  Can you imagine the rest of the week?


This weekend has shown me, yet again, that I always need to celebrate being a parent.  It is so much fun, and work, and joy, and stress, and love, and ...(you get the point!).

Tell me some stories of how your kids keep you vibrant, on the move, alive!  I can't wait to read …

Running with the pack

53:45 unofficial.  That was my time for the Veterans Day 10K race I ran.  53:45 unofficial.  My goal was to knock off some minutes from my 10K last year.  I knocked off about 5 minutes; I am happy about that.  Yet my time was 53:45 unofficial.

I had a very good pace starting out.  I actually changed my running style some months ago to conserve a bit of energy.  It worked.  But during the race, I stopped...three times to be exact.  Once for water, the second time I am clueless about, and the third was because I really was tired (next time, I will stay off the late night movies and donuts before race day!) 


But that was not my lesson.  My lesson was that I needed to stay in a pack, run with other people to keep a constant pace.  Why is that so important?  Well, I, The Bassman, am a very successful introvert (at least I can be).  I know how to be alone and be comfortable.  I have noticed in the last couple of years that I work best when I work with others.  That's just me.  Trying to …

A Family That Prays Together...

There is an old saying, "A family that prays together stays together."  In my last blog, I spoke about how we needed to have time as a couple to talk about our marriage.  Well, I'm keeping my promise.  My wife and I had a fantastic time this past weekend talking and catching up, encouraging and challenging each other.  During our chat, we also set out some spiritual goals.  We decided that at a certain time each night, we are going to pray.

I feel really good because we have kept to our promise so far.  We have prayed each night (about whatever!) together and it feels good.  It's not a long prayer.  We literally take 5 minutes each night and speak our heart.

I encourage you to take time and try this with your spouse.  If you aren't married, try it with your kids or even a friend.  Do you think you can do it?  I challenge you to try it. And I challenge you to keep me accountable as well.  I am NOS now...

Let's Not Talk About the Kids!

My wife and I took the time to watch 'Revolutionary Road' the other night.  It was an excellent movie about a young couple facing the challenges of a relatively young marriage.  After the movie, we had a very stirring conversation about what we saw.  What a great conversation!  We both got a lot from it and, more importantly, we got an opportunity to reconnect.  We got a chance to talk about us-not the kids, not work, not school... just us.  We spoke about our marriage, our spiritual walk, dreams, etc.  It was good and needed.


There are so many 'distractions' that take me away from the person whom I love the most-my wife.  Although, I love my boys like no other and will do anything for them, no one else can satisfy me, spur me, encourage me, and love me like she can!  These 'distractions' -jobs, commutes, Facebook, technology, appointments, and yes, even my kids, can be distractions.

I have to (and want to) ensure that I spend time and talk with her.  She needs …

Fight! Fight!

I was teaching a class the other day.  We were reading a class novel.  In a part of the story, there was an uncle who said that boys fight as a part of growing up.  I opened this up for discussion because the school's theme for the month is respect.  I mentioned two boys in the class who I know have been in fights (because I have had to break them up) and mentioned that I know they are not afraid of fighting.  They smiled in agreement.  I asked the class if they believed that fighting is a natural part of growing up.  Most of the students said yes.  I strongly objected.  I then mentioned that I had never been in a fight with anyone.  Mouths dropped!  Some of the students could not believe it.  I told them that I have never been in a fight at school, or even with my brother.  I said that I believe that there are different ways of being able to handle yourself and different confrontational situations.


"You have never been in a fight?", a young lady said.

"Nope."

&qu…

Oh Yeah...This Is Why I Do This...

Tonight I had the privilege of attending my oldest son's Upper School presentation at his school.  It was an opportunity for us to see the experiences their children are having in school.  My son, along with another classmate, spoke about their experiences as fourth graders (he is in the 5th grade now).  He spoke with confidence and poise.  All of the other students got up and spoke with an eloquence and assuredness.  I was very pleased.

They gave a variety of examples of things they encounter while at school.  The arts presentation blew my mind.  I was watching the presentation, but as a teacher, I was also taking notes for things I could do with my own classes.  It was a great experience.

We live about 20 miles away from the school.  It is about an hour commute in and an hour commute out.  There are several days when we are frustrated with traffic, inconsiderate drivers, our own fatigue, roadblocks, and other factors.  Yet, when I saw my son present about his life at school and t…

But I Need My Car!

It turned out to be a day of running around the city.  I took care of my minivan; the 'check engine' light was on for the last two days.  So, I dropped the kids off at school, drove to 7-11 to get my coffee and donut, and went to the auto repair shop.  The repair man checks the car and begins giving me an oil change.  He comes back in with the bolt that seals the oil pan and says its damaged. 

"You need to get it replaced."  he said.

"Okay", I responded as I am sipping my coffee.

About three minutes later, he returns and says, "We have to replace the entire oil pan because it is damaged.  I cannot let you drive off with it in this condition.  What are you gonna do?"

I'm thinking to myself, "What do you mean, 'What am I gonna do?  I have no car!'" 

I begin calling my wife only to remember that she was in an all day conference-I could only text her.  Meanwhile, the repairmen comes back in the room and says to me in his heavy …

He Always Took Us To Shoney's

My granddad passed away today at the seasoned age of 84.  A man of strong faith and character, a teacher, and a deacon.  He was awesome!
I am even more grateful to God that my boys got a chance to really experience his wit and fun loving heart.  They were able to be with him at least twice in the last three years.  He lived in Sumter, SC, and God allowed us the opportunities to make the trip to see him.  As he got up in age, he began to forget their names more and more.  He had Alzheimer's Disease, so it took a toll on his memory.  But he could remember the boys and their character.  He could remember what they did when they were younger.  He still seemed pretty sharp to me. 

If I were to ask my boys about a memory they had of him, I am sure that they would mention going to the breakfast buffet at Shoney's.  Every time we entered the city of Sumter, that was our first destination.  We would would get up in the morning and go eat plates of pancakes, bacon, and grits!  Then we …

My boys are like NY and California pizzas

We were in the Bronx this past weekend.  My wife and her family was celebrating the life and death of their grandmother; she would have celebrated her 100th birthday this year.  Well, the Bronx for me is always a treat.  I love the constant activity, the smell of the streets, the racket of the 4 and 5 trains, and the people.  So many cultures wrapped into one place.  New York is a great place.

As I usually do, I go to White Plains Road and order some slices of pizza.  Throw some garlic and oregano on and I am good to go!  Since the whole family was with me and everyone was hungry, I ordered a whole pie.  While waiting, I watched my two boys in the pizza shop.  They reminded me of NY and Cali pizzas.  My oldest sat in the front of the shop watching the college football game, oblivious to the other people and commotion of the streets.  My youngest stood in the back of the pizza shop in the open window facing the street watching the people go by and listening for the trains, oblivious to …

For a 100 Years

I went to church on Wednesday night.  The men got together during the week to chat about our lives and how the Bible needs to be our influence and guide.  One of the men there said something so prolific that I had to write about it.  As we talked, he said, "Every man is responsible for a 100 years of impact".  In other words, we are responsible for our generation, and the next, and the next.  It got me thinking about the legacy I need to leave with my family and my sons' families.  I have thought of this before, but I see that reminders are good to have.

I am reminded of how being a parent, and especially a father, is a constant 24 hour, 365 day-a-year job!  It's a welcomed and rewarding task.  Yet, there are times when I do think about how challenging it can be, and I can become overwhelmed.

I want to prepare my family for success.  I want them to undersatnd how the world works.  I want them to have an understanding of why they need a faith in God, not because I tell …

Do I Say or Do Something?

I took my youngest son to a Tae Kwon Do class the other day for the first time. He had never been involved in the martial arts. We won a gift certificate for him to attend. As we go into the building, he seemed rather calm, taking in all of the sights and sounds of the other classes that were going on. My wife and I had been thinking of putting him in a class to help teach a greater level of self-discipline. So this should be good.


The master asked everyone to come into the room and get in place. My son, being only five was a little antsy, but that was to be expected. I sat in the far corner of the room, just enough out of the way so he could not see me and just enough for me to catch a glimpse of what he was doing. I paid careful attention to my son as the instructor gave directions on what to do next. He ordered them to run around the mat until he said stop.

“Go!”, he said.

As all the kids began running around the mat, I hear this little kid yelling at the top of his lungs. Guess …

How early is early?

We will celebrate our 12 year anniversary on September 20th. I have enjoyed being with my wife so much. She makes me so happy! And she keeps me humble and laughing. And she has given me two incredible boys.

Well, my youngest son came up to me and said, "Dad, on your anniversary, are you gonna have a baby?" I stuttered. "Wha...what?"

"On your anniversary, are you gonna have a baby?"

I guess he already asked my wife this question, because they all sat around the couch waiting to hear and see my reaction. All I could do was look at my wife with my most dumbfounded look I could possibly muster.

How early do the 'birds and bees' conversations start? MY SON IS FIVE!!!!!! FIVE!!! And am I ready to have these talks?

Lend me your thoughts because I have no off season for learning...Peace and blessings!

Better with time

I happened to be looking through some documents at the kitchen table and an old high school photo popped out. I was in this picture looking fly, at least I thought. My beautiful wife was sitting at the table with me. I showed her the photo in the hopes of hearing some kind of encouragement. I said, "See me in the photo?" She said, "I see...ummp!" And then she bursts out laughing. What kind of wife...would laugh at her husband?!?!? Here's the salt to wound -- She then begins to add, "I don't wanna tell you what this looks like because I don't want to hurt your feelings", as she continues to laugh. As I lick my wounds, I ask her to tell me. She proceeds---"You know the show Land of the Lost?" This conversation is not going in the right direction. "You look like the alien on the show!", she says. Nice! We are both laughing by now. At the time of the photo, I was wearing a red cardigan sweater, red turtle neck, grey slacks,…

My kids were upgraded!

I recently picked up my boys from visiting their grandparents in Atlanta, Georgia as well as a quick visit to their great- grandparents in Sumter, SC. They are truly blessed to have great- grandparents still alive and active to enjoy them. I was so happy to see them. They seemed to grow a bit since the last time we saw them and a bit more mature; they were with their grandparents for three weeks, a nice break for my wife and I (that will be another blog later).

It seemed that this break from their parents did them well. Yet, they came back...different. Number one...we were no longer being answered with 'yes', but now 'yes sir' and 'yes mam'. Their grandmother taught them that teaching them to add 'sir' and 'mam' will go a long way in showing respect to others, especially those who are older or of authority. Number two...when they made a mistake, it wasn't the usual 'I'm sorry', but rather 'I apologize'. Grandmom told them…

Hopes and Dreams

I am a teacher in a public charter school in Washington, DC. The academic year is underway as we prepare to enter our third week of school. The students and teachers are still readjusting from the restful and thoughtful summer. As we do every year, we set out our Hopes and Dreams, helping all of us to focus on how we will have a successful school year. Yet, this year was a bit different. We had a Hope and Dreams Balloon Launch! All of the students on Leadership Hall wrote their academic hopes and dreams as well as their social hopes and dreams. After carefully drafting and editing them, they put them on sticky notes, carefully folded them, and stuffed them in balloons. We blew them up with a helium tank and walked outside to our rather large play yard. All fifth and sixth grade classes came out with their balloons in hand. It was such a sight to see. They were so excited, as well as the teachers! They yelled a harambe poem in unison. I then stood in the middle of all the classes and t…

The Grands

I was chatting with my mom earlier. She was mentioning that she wanted to take our boys to see their great- grandparents next weekend as a way to meet up and lessen our drive for when we have to pick them up. As she continued talking, she mentioned how my granddad is doing. He has been challenged with the beginning stages of Alzheimer's Disease. She then tells me that he has had some other challenges, including a recent stroke. We ended the conversation and I was sobered.

My grandmother lived in a small town in Allendale, SC. We often went there during my younger years. It was a town with about two traffic lights, gnats, one Hardees, and a constant soothing sound of freight and cargo trains. We would sit on the front porch of her house and then daringly jump off. Her car that she had for over 40 plus years still sits under the carport. She passed away some years ago. At the funeral, I was awakened to the fact that I needed to call my grandparents a lot more to check in on them. I g…

He called me "Sir!"

I was cutting my grass yesterday. Tall blades were high from all of the recent rain that we had been getting. I decided to be a good neighbor and cut our neighbor’s yard as well. She was very appreciative. Well, she sent out a young man to come and sweep up the excess grass that had gathered on her walkway. I saw the young man as I usually do. He is probably no more than about 21 years old. For the sake of privacy, I’ll call him Bob. I said hello; he said, as he always does, “Hello sir!” I was taken aback as I always am when he calls me ‘sir’. He never has tried to get to know my name. He simply calls me ‘sir’. This day, I took notice of this. I began talking to him. We talked about careers and cars while we were sweeping up the grass. We talked about our professions; he thought I was a college professor. A college professor?!?!? Let that one slide. As I readied myself to go inside, I told him my full name. His response was, “My name is Bob, sir!” There goes th…

Think like a child

Children teach us so much. I got an incredible lesson this evening. I was walking through IKEA today with my beautiful wife looking for a table for my office downstairs. We walk the entire IKEA as usual looking for an inexpensive drafting table. The store was full of families with young children aimlessly running around. A little boy saw me and with his parents by his side, began looking at me with these beautiful big, black eyes! He was so cute. As we continued to walk the store, a little girl holding pink butterfly wings looked up at me and said, "Look!". She held up the wings as I admired, not the wings, but her audacity to speak to a stranger. My son has often times walked up to complete strangers and said hi, carried on a conversation, or even hug them! I don't recommend that, though! Children live in and for the moment. They could often times care less about their appearance or what others think. They make friends easily and know how to forgive and forge…

Start Asking!

Dads, we often times are given advice, but are often times very reluctant to take it. Let's face it...we are men! We think we have all the answers and don't need any additional help. We say we can fix the kitchen faucet, although we have never held a wrench. We think we can put up drywall, but don't know the difference between a phillips and a flat head. We swear we know where we are going, even though our wives are telling us that we really are going the wrong way as she shows us the map....and looks at the GPS...and has a print out from Mapquest.
Advice is something we have confidence in giving, but often times find trouble in taking it (as my wife is giving me advice as I write this!) Well, this happened to me this past weekend. About what, you may ask? This blog! We drove the family down to Atlanta to my mother's beautiful home in the suburbs of Atlanta this past weekend. We were sitting at the breakfast table on Sunday morning eating sausage, eggs, and her famous …

I've gotta be there

Last night was a really rough one. My youngest son was in tremendous pain. He was constipated! We were praying throughout the night asking God to help ease this discomfort. He was screaming and hollering. At one point in the night, he was saying, "I can't take it anymore! I can't take it anymore!" It was a moment when I felt completely helpless and guilty because I was not feeling the same pain he was; nor could I take his pain away. I never want my boys in pain. It hurts to see. It's now 2:00 am. I did everything I could possibly think of to help him. Nothing was working, nothing except this...
"Son, I need to give this to you. I know you can do it, but I need you to be brave." I needed to give him a suppository. "Son, can you do this? It will take five seconds and then I am done."
"Okay dad. But will it hurt?"
"No, son! I would never give you something that would hurt you." He squeamishly gives me the okay until he sees what…

Before you go, I have to tell you this...

My wife and oldest son had been feverishly preparing for this for over two years. A sojourn to Egypt is what monopolized the attention of this house for about the past week. We've been packing, buying last minute items, and anticipating an almost 24-hour travel. As my wife was packing at the gorgeous time of 4:15 am, I was writing some thoughts to my son. I was giving him advice-technical, moral, physical, and spiritual advice. Even while cutting his hair last night, I was advising him. At the end of the letter, I gave him my blessing.

I wrote a letter to Paula as well. And just like the one to my son, I gave her the same type of advice, just more seasoned for her needs. And at the end of the letter, I gave her my blessing. I packed the letters away in their suitcases. They won't see them until they reach their hotel in Egypt.

I learned and was reminded of a couple of things from their upcoming experience. First, perseverance has its rewards. They stuck this program out for over…

There's a bat in my house!!!

It must have been around 12 midnight on Monday morning. We were winding down from what seemed to be a very active day. We had guests over for most of the day and into the evening. I am lying on the couch on the computer playing a game and watching TV while Paula is reading and watching TV (how we concentrated on one or the other is beyond me). Law and Order was on the tube. I happened to look up and I see this black image agitatingly flying across the room. I figured I could have been tired. I was in the studio the night before and Sunday was hot and busy. Then, this same image I thought I saw flew over Paula's head. I yelled out, "A bat!" Paula looked up and saw it as well. She started screaming! I became hysterical myself! As Paula is trying to run upstairs, I violently push the couch to the side and open up the front door in the efforts of letting it fly out. Let's not forget that I have a front door and a storm door! My wife is running up the stairs and I p…

He can do it...

My wife was in a minor car accident that has really given her some challenges with her back. This past Sunday, she was in so much pain that it was extremely hard for her to get out of bed. Well, I had to make a decision; let my oldest stay with her and help or bring both boys with me to church and let her rest. I wrestled with the decision for a bit because I don't want them to miss church. At the same time I did not want my wife to be in need and no one be there for her. I decided to have my oldest stay with her.

Before I left, I pulled him to the side and gave him very specific instructions. "Son, I want you to make sure that your play time is at a minimum and ensure that mommy is well taken care of. If she needs food, drinks, whatever, make sure she gets it." He said he was fine with that. Well, I take the youngest with me to church and choir rehearsal. After church, I returned home to see my beautiful wife looking a lot better. I asked her how she was doin…

Train a child in the way he should go...

My boys have been going to a great summer camp for the last week and a half; they absolutely love it. My wife and I do too. It is an added bonus that a friend of ours teaches there as well as brings her kids there; we know them from church. It gives the kids the opportunity to keep abreast of theiracademic skills in the morning while having fun in the afternoon. They get fantastic field trips, great snacks, and lasting friendships.

Each beautiful morning I implore them to use godly wisdom and self-control as they go about their day making different decisions - kids they should and should not hang with, when to speak and not to speak, when to have fun and when to be serious, and the like. We use Bible scriptures and pray through these things- every morning. And I know my children, so I know this is needed. Today, I think those conversations were noticed.

At the end of the day, my son's teacher walks up to me and said, "I love your son! He is so well mannered and respect…

In the Name of Democracy

I took my entire family to a town hall meeting at Prince Georges Community College tonight. It was on health care, a major agenda being pursued by President Obama. Senator Cardin of MD was the main speaker. Of coarse, my boys, who are 10 and 5, could really have cared less about the cost of health care. Yet, they were rather respectful of the meeting. There were hundreds of people there, all waiting patiently to voice their concerns to the senator. He had done these before, but not my young boys. It was their first time. As a matter of fact, it was mine as well. I was so proud of them.

I thought it to be very important for them to be able to experience this. Does this make them grow faster, or mature them more? I am not sure. But I do know that having an experience of any kind can always bring new perspectives.

We left a little after the open questioning began; my youngest was beginning to get antsy. Yet as we were walking out, I explained to them that they saw a part of …

The Beginning

This is the first time I have ever written a blog about anything. I have responded to them in the past and have found a lot as very interesting. I hope that you find this one a great resource and inspiration. I am sure that it will be full of great info, laughs, an convictions. I really look forward to sharing life with you.

The Bassman