Eliott Loves To Run

Eliott likes to run.

Scratch that. Eliott LOVES to run. On rainy days, when he’s cooped up inside, he runs from one side of the living room to the other, just to get his legs moving. It’s only a few steps, but a few steps is all he needs. He backs up, scrunching himself against the wall like a cat preparing to pounce, then blasts off, full force to the opposite side of the room, where he relies on a wall, a piece of furniture, or maybe even his brothers to stop his momentum.

He does this over and over again. For hours. No matter what, he has to keep moving.

I used to be like that. When I was a kid, I’d go down to my grandma’s house and toss a tennis ball against her house. I’d catch it with my ball glove and toss it back again and again. I played entire baseball games there, setting up a complicated system of rules where, depending on where on the vinyl siding the ball hit, it would be a ball or a strike or a hit. If it was a hit, I’d have to catch it and throw it back to get the runner out. A game would take about two hours. Sometimes I’d play several games, there at my Grandma’s house, over the course of a day.

I played real baseball games, too, with actual people. I rode bikes, and swam, and ran and climbed trees in the woods. I was fairly active when I was a kid.

And yet somehow I grew up fat. I lost the weight some in my 20s, back when all I had to do was work full time and go to school part time. But now, with a wife, four kids, a demanding job and a bum knee, its hard to keep in any kind of shape that isn’t circular.

But today, I read some research of childhood obesity. It seems that the number one contributor to childhood health and avoiding obesity is the influence of the father. If I’m fat, they’ll be fat. If I’m fit, they’ll be fit, too.

I went on a walk for lunch yesterday. It was nothing special. Just a mile around the block by my office. I’ll try for two miles today since yesterday was kinda easy. I’ll try to do some ab/core exercises tonight and maybe one of the many exercise dvds we have tomorrow morning. I’ll start talking with the kids about it, too. Maybe they’ll want to exercise more. And maybe I’ll find some fun stories to share here, this first Fat Tuesday post.

I’m excited and I hope it goes well. Because Eliott loves to run, and I’d like to see him keep doing that.

How To Chase a Dream When Your Kids Keep Barfing On You

If you’re like me, and words like “practicality” and “logistics” and “planning” make you dizzy, you probably spend a great deal of time staring out the window, dreaming about all the fun things you hope to do with your life…later on.

The problem is, if you don’t pull out the dictionary from time to time and see what all these fancy quotation-marked words mean, you’ll never get past the dreaming stage and start moving toward reality.

This is doubly true if you have kids.

Today, I shared some thoughts on Ryan Avery’s blog about the logistics of chasing a dream while dealing with the reality of living Actual, Real, Life, and all the responsibilities that come with it.

Check it out here.


I loved winter when I was a kid. I hate it now because I’m old and one of the signs you’re getting old is when cold weather turns you into a troll, but I loved winter when I was a kid. It meant hot chocolate, late night movies on the weekends (eating buckets of popcorn, warming our feet under the radiator next to the tv in the living room), snow days off school, and sledding down the many hills in our neighborhood. I grew up in Greenhills, a suburb of Cincinnati, and you KNOW we did a lot of sledding because we had the word “hills” right there in the name.

The best place to go sledding in Greenhills was behind the high school. There was a monstrous hill just behind the library that went down for what seemed like a few stories, flattened out across the soccer field, and dropped off into the woods on the other side. All the kids showed up there at the first hint of snow, waiting for just enough coverage to make it down without pulling up clumps of sod and rolling.

By mid-January the hill had a nice, protective armor of ice and snow, shined to a perfect smoothness by the relentless barrage of the neighborhood kids and their many trips down. The goal was to attack the hill with enough speed to send you flying across the soccer field and off the edge of the field, into the woods. We had no idea what would happen if we actually accomplished this, but everyone there knew it would be “totally cool” if we did.

One year, we got a huge snowstorm, one of those blizzards that dumps several feet worth of snow in just a few hours. Everyone in the neighborhood gathered at the high school the following morning to take advantage of this gift. Rather that slide down the hill like normal, we brought shovels and, instead, spent three days building a snow track with high edges leading straight down the hill and across the field. It was like a rudimentary luge ramp, only perfectly straight and made entirely out of snow. With this, we said, we couldn’t accidentally dart sideways. With this, we said, we can make it all the way to the woods.

Once we had it built, Matt Kemper from Cromwell road got the bright idea to smooth it out with our sleds and douse the whole course with water just before nightfall.

The next morning, Adam Hester, a tall third grader from Damon Road, stood atop the hill, waiting for the right moment. He set his bright orange sled at the top of the ramp, stood back about ten yards, and took a running start. He leapt through the air and hit the sled, which took off like a bullet, leaving a cloud of slow and ice in his wake. It was like watching the Roadrunner speeding away from Wile E. Coyote. The only difference was this was real life, and a few short seconds into Adam’s trip, we all knew this would end badly.

He flew across the soccer field, hurtling toward the edge of the field leading to the drop-offs into the woods and he never slowed down. “It was the water that did the trick,” Matt Kemper said later, with a mixture of pride and horror. “I thought of that.”

Adam hit the drop-off at full speed, rose into the air a few feet like the General Lee in the Dukes of Hazzard, then dropped into the woods and out of sight. We heard a few crashes, then a brief silence, and then a loud wail that signified Adam had landed somewhere below, likely in an uncomfortable position.

It took us a good hour to get Adam back up the hill. Several kids had gone to get his parents by then and an ambulance had arrived to take him to the hospital. Adam’s parents gave us stern looks and admonishments to “be more careful” and lectures that we should “act like men, not boys” and promises that they would “call all your parents just as soon as we get home.”

Then they got in their car, leaving the rest of us in silence to ponder what we had done. In the coming weeks, we would learn that Adam had broken an arm, his leg, his collarbone, and two bones in his left foot. He had suffered a concussion and a laceration across his back so deep they wondered about the kind of scar it would leave. He was on crutches for several months and was unable to play baseball the following spring. Later, we would learn an important lesson about the need to plan carefully and always pay attention to the dangers that lay waiting for us just over the next ridge.

But all of that was later. That day, standing in the snow by ourselves, we did the only thing you can expect of young boys with a pile of snow, an abundance of time, and several new sleds.

We said, “That was cool. I’m next!”