Tag Archives: family

No-Shave November

As a college freshman, my son’s dorm celebrated November by setting aside their shaving gear for the entire month. They called it “No-Shave November”; though the purpose was to raise cancer awareness, I suspect they just did it for fun.

My son embraced the challenge, relishing the comradery with his dorm mates as they tried to grow beards; his newfound girlfriend accepted his decision. Three and a half weeks later, he met her family for the first time, a scruffy-faced college student with an unruly mop on top, his appearance must have been questionable. But he won them over and shortly after graduation, became part of their family.

Most every year since, he has observed No-Shave November.

This year he asked me to join him. I surprised him by saying, “Yes!”

“Really, Dad?”

“Sure. Why not?”

This won’t be my first time with a beard. I had one before he was born. I started it in the fall, where it became a warming comfort to the assault of winter’s cold. I persisted through the summer, when it became a hot, scratchy irritant. But I kept it, looking forward to its warmth the following winter. The next spring, eighteen months after I started, I shaved it off, incrementally over the course of a week.

Today, I didn’t shave, and I plan not to for the rest of the month. As I recall, the first couple of days are itchy, but once I get past those, the rest will be easy. I don’t yet know what I’ll do on December first. I may shave, or I may wait until spring.

The more important thing is enjoying a shared experience with my son. Family is important and anything we do to bond with each other is a good thing.

Regardless of your shaving plans for November, may it be a good month, with great family moments.

The Long Term Problems with China’s One-Child Policy

In my family, there are a lot of two-children families. My bride and I both came from two-children homes. We have two children ourselves and both of our kids’ spouses hail from two-children families. Plus, my sister has two children. So my mom has two children and four grandchildren. If the trend continues, she will have eight great-grandchildren.

Contrast this with China’s one-child policy, which has been in place since 1979 (33 years). A child born in China today will be the only child of two parents and the only grandchild of four grandparents. If the trend continues, he or she will eventually be the only great-grandchild of eight great grandparents. This child will also have no uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, or nephews.

While this may be an effective means to curb population growth, it has two most negative outcomes:

First, a Chinese child will be the only child of two parents and four grandparents. That means that six people are placing their sole generational focus—good or bad—on that lone child. There will be a tendency to spoil their only child and grandchild. And there will be tremendous pressure placed on that child to do well, succeed, get married—and have his or her, one child. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one kid. Plus, all these overly indulged, “only-child” kids, being the center of their family’s attention, will most likely be narcissistic and selfish.

Second, a Chinese child will be the only grandchild to care for four aging grandparents and later the only child to care for two aging parents. There will be no siblings or cousins to share these duties. That’s a lot of responsibility to place on one child.

In societies with no procreation limits, parents rightly make their own decisions on the number of offspring, be it ten, two, one, or even none. That is good and right, but when a whole society is forced to limit themselves to one, the ramifications are significant.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

The Domino Effect of Home Improvement

This summer my bride and I began working together. This required that we convert an unused bedroom into her office. At the time, she made the reasonable request to paint the room first. I noted that this would also be an ideal time to replace the carpet. I had planned to ditch the aged 25-year-old carpet throughout our home next year anyway, so we picked out and ordered the carpet for the entire job.

Candy’s office was painted and re-carpeted on schedule. However, re-carpeting the rest of the house set in motion a chain reaction, which I call the domino effect of home improvement.

It was pointed out that before installing the rest of the carpet, it would be preferable to have all the non-carpeted areas redone first, not later. That too, had been planned for next year.

However, the existing bathroom cabinets — also planned for replacement in two years — had a larger footprint than what is currently available. So, new cabinets were picked out and installed first. Between the cabinet replacement and redoing the flooring, both bathrooms have been out of commission for a couple of weeks. (Fortunately, the guest bathroom was still functional.)

Of course, this was an ideal time to repaint the bathrooms.

But, with the flooring tore up, it was the window of opportunity to try to fix the squeaking floors. The list goes on…

In the midst of this, I decided to move my office next to my bride’s, as opposed to being at the opposite end of the house on a different level. This meant buying a new desk, since the other one wouldn’t fit in the new room.

At this point, every room in the house — save the guest room — is either in various states of remodeling or is storing furniture from the other rooms.

I think that our home is currently at the peak of disarray and can now anticipate steady movement towards getting back to normal.

As for dominoes, I think I’ve had enough of them for a while.

How Observant Are You?

Last week I prepared my house to be painted.  One of the tasks was to remove the street numbers from the house, allowing for both home and numbers to be easily painted.

The street numbers are above the garage door and easily viewable from the street.  They weren’t always there, however.  Initially they were above the front door, but as the trees in the yard grew, the numbers became increasingly obscured.  So one day I moved them from front door to garage door.

When my daughter came home, she inquired, “Didn’t the numbers used to be over the front door?”

When my son came home, he plainly asked, “When do you move the numbers?”

My bride made no such query and when the topic arose, she seriously asked, “We have numbers on our house?”

No Power Means No Heat

I was wrapping things up last night and ready to start a blog entry when the power went out.  This was peculiar as there were no storms and it was not windy — the two prime reasons for us to lose power.  Our power outages are usually a few seconds to a couple of minutes, so I kept working for a while (I have a small UPS for my computer).  When power wasn’t restored quickly, I began an orderly shutdown.

Once I turned the monitors off, I was in the dark.  By the time I felt my way to the main floor, my bride had found and turned on a battery powered-lantern.  We used it as a reading lamp for a couple of hours, hoping for the quick return of electricity.  Alas, it did not happen.

Although we have gas heat, electricity is required for the thermostat to function, to ignite the pilot, and to power the blower fan.  No power means no heat.  The weather forecast was for a low of zero (it actually hit 5 below), so I knew that a prolonged outage, would mean a cold house.

I piled more blankets on the bed, put on extra clothes, including a hoody, and climbed in bed.  Snuggled up in my cocoon, I pulled the hood over my head, with only my face exposed.  It reminded me of camping out as a kid.  My thoughts returned to those good times and I happily drifted off to sleep.

My sleep was short-lived as the power was restored a half hour later.  I got up and did a cursory check to make sure things were okay  — and to turn off the couple of lights whose switches we had mistakenly left on when we lost power.

I also checked the temperature.  In the two and a half hours without power, the temperature had dropped 5 degrees.  At that rate, had power remained off, it would have been quite cold by morning.

Thankfully, the power did come back, saving us from that experience.

Moving Day, Times Two

Two weeks ago, we (my bride and I) helped children Dan and Kelli move from their apartment to their house.  They moved a couple carloads the night before and I rented a truck, first to move their items from our house and then to move the furniture from their apartment.  Kelli’s family brought a truckload of stuff, as well, and we all pitched in to help.  By the end of the day, everything has moved, but the house was rather chaotic.  However, within a week they had everything unpacked and in fine order.

Yesterday, it was time to help Laura and Chris move from one apartment to another.  We did the first shift, moving the items that would fit into cars, while the in-laws took the second shift, moving the furniture.  Initially, I thought we had the easy part.  But after six carloads, I wasn’t so sure.  The old apartment was on the second floor, with a 15-step descent.  The new apartment was on the third floor, which had a 26-step assent.  I estimate that I did 2 to 3,000 steps that day.  Since I do 1,000 steps on a step-stepper each day, you’d think I’d be ready.  Not so.

They were permitted to move in early, so as we were moving in, many of the other tenants were vacating (it is a college town, so a new batch will be arriving soon.)  As, I would carry things up the stairs, everyone else was walking up empty handed; conversely they would  carry things down, while that direction was empty for me.  First, I mused that by teaming up with someone else we would both finish sooner.  But as I became more tired, I further speculated that if everyone who was moving out, would simply carry a couple boxes up for me (instead of going up empty handed) it would have been done in no time.

Nevertheless, I kept this idea to myself.  This gave me time to speculate about all who were moving.  A move marks a new beginning, with hopes and expectations for the future.  It may be into a house, to a nicer apartment, back home, or into something more affordable.

As for me, after helping with two moves in two weeks, it simply reaffirms my hope and expectation to stay exactly where we are!

Using Technology to Save Energy Causes Martial Conflct

I was away at a convention last week and my bride accompanied me to help out.

At the hotel, I encountered something new (at least to me).  We were instructed about a new energy saving device in the room.  Upon entering, we were to insert our keycard into this wall-mounted device, which would then activate the lights in the entryway and bathroom.  Then, when we leave the room, we simply remove the keycard and those things are automatically shut off about 25 seconds later.  (And yes, I really did verify that it works.  It’s kind of like wanting to know that the refrigerator light actually goes out when the door is shut.)

I mused aloud that as an added bonus, I would know exactly were my keycard was when I leave the room.

It’s an ingenious system — except when you have two people sharing a room, but operating on different schedules.

You see, on the first morning, I shuffled off to breakfast while my wife was still in the bathroom.  (She often skips breakfast and I seldom do.)  Twenty-five seconds later, I am a safe distance away and she suddenly finds herself in the dark.


Isn’t technology great?