July



Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... More tears than laughter this week...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny (and sometimes sentimental) guy...
     I wish that this week's Funny Guy Friday had a happier theme... and a happier ending... but sadly, it does not.
     About a year and a half ago, my nephew and his wife brought us a sixty-pound black lab that they had found wandering around outside of a movie theater. The thing was kind of a mess with only a third of a tail, damaged paws, terrible stomach issues that kept it from gaining weight and he stunk to high heaven. Think of a stinky barn and then add a wet stinky dog and you get close to his stench.
     We were reluctant to take him in, but there were no better options. Our concerns were that most dogs shed, stink, bark, get into the trash, eat stuff off the table, and generally require all kinds of attention.
     Not to mention what they do to your rugs.
     Despite our concerns, we agreed to adopt Rocky.
     The first thing we did was take him to the vets to see about that stomach issue and to see what they might be able to tell us about his past. Scratch that... the first thing we did was take him to get a bath. You know it is bad when the groomers think he stinks worse than other dogs. After his bath, we then took him to the vet.
     The vet could not really tell us much about him, but she guessed that he was two or three years old, that his tail got damaged as a result of an accident, and the groomers thought that maybe he had had frostbite on his paws. We gave Rocky some medicine to treat the parasite in his tummy and our sixty-pound lab quickly became our eighty-pound lab.
      Not knowing his history was kind of scary. I always said he probably had some unknown "kill command" that one of the kids might unknowingly utter and next thing you know, we were going to find Cheryl dead in the kitchen with a bone in her hand.
     But it was also kind of cool to try and guess about his past. Cheryl enjoyed this game most of all. She came up with some great scenarios. For instance: maybe he was a hunting dog. Problem was that Rocky never met a squirrel that he did not want to chase. Kind of hard to believe that he would have been all stealthy out in the woods as a hunting dog where, last I checked, squirrels are plentiful.
     Or maybe he used to be a fire rescue dog because he cocked his head funny whenever he heard a siren... just like a dog raised in a fire house... AND EVERY OTHER DOG ALIVE! I reminded her.
     Or possibly a highly-trained guard dog. Unfortunately, as long as you did not ring the doorbell, you could walk into our house with complete immunity. Anyone could just walk into our house and steal us blind so long as they did not ring that door bell. I would not have been surprised if Rocky showed the robbers where we keep our good china.
    My guess was that Rocky was a farm dog. Mainly because he smelled like a barn floor!
    Rocky was a goof. A good-natured, strong, fast, sweet, goofy dog that quickly became part of the family. Oftentimes a little too much a part of the family. Like when he would help himself to our dinners... at least two roasted chickens, steaks that I had prepared for grilling, the apple pie that we were going to have for dessert and the countless loaves of bread that he either ate... or hid in the couch for a late night snack.
    After the steak incident, I banned him from the kitchen giving orders to shoot on sight if he ever creeped over a certain line of tiles in the kitchen. I declared that he was not welcome back in the kitchen until he paid me back for the costs of the steaks. Later that week, while I was lying on the couch, he came up to me with a twenty dollar bill stuffed in his collar and a note asking if he could come back in the kitchen. His handwriting looked eerily similar to Noah's.
    Although Rocky was loved by all, he often tested my patience.They say that you should not correct a dog unless you catch him in the act of committing a crime. To that I say, Nonsense! Rocky knew... he always knew... when he did wrong. If he got into the trash, I knew it before I ever got down the steps. It only got worse when I asked... What did you do? Of course, had I not noticed his guilty behavior, the bread crumbs surrounding his snout was always a dead giveaway.
     Oh, he knew alright.
     Whenever he ran off, he would always give us a good run for our money but would ultimately give himself up as soon as he saw us pull up near him. He would compliantly hop into the back of our vehicle. He could have easily taken off again, but he never did. It was as if he was embarrassed that he was caught and, like Cool Hand Luke, was just biding his time until the next escape.
     Rocky was not the first dog that we had ever owned. I had a dog when Cheryl and I first got married and he (Justice) was the best-behaved dog ever. He never did anything wrong. He stayed when I said stay... he came when I said come... he never got into the trash... and he never ate anything but dog food. I think the kids got tired of my comparisons. As time passed and we worked a bit with Rocky, he got better but the contrast between the two dogs was still pretty remarkable.
     I loved both of those dogs and when it comes right down to it... although Rockhead was not as well behaved as Justice, he was just as sweet and faithful. We loved him despite the fact that he did shed, stink, bark, eat stuff off of the table, get into the trash and generally required all kinds of attention.
     As time passed, we figured him out as much as he figured us out. He knew the toughest owners were Matthew and me, while Grace, Noah and Cheryl were always good for a nice dog treat. It would drive me crazy when Cheryl would give him treats right after I would reprimand him for doing something wrong. Come to think of it, she does that with the kids also!
     He's a good boy! was always her reply.
     If you have not already figured it out, Rocky passed away this past week. He had surgery to remove a blockage in his intestines and for whatever reason, did not recover from that surgery.
     As I read this, it seems as if I am writing some type of eulogy and that is not what I intended. I just wanted to express how we are feeling this week in the Palumbo house. In a way, writing this is a bit cathartic for me.
     I have never been one to equate a dog with a child... and I mean no offense to anyone by making that statement. I mean, if Matthew ever bit Noah, I would not consider getting rid of Matthew. The same cannot be said of any four legged member of our family.
     Several years ago, when a new neighbor moved into our neighborhood and found out that we had to put Justice down because of an aggressive cancer, he put his arm around me and did his best to console me, saying that it is like losing a child. I told him that I have two children (Noah was not yet born) and losing a dog is not quite like that. 
    This, of course, does not mean that I won't miss Rocky. He was such a sweet guy. I mean he wagged his little nub of a tail every time he saw me. Think about that. Who else in your life does that? I know Cheryl stopped doing that years ago.
     It also does not mean that I did not cry when Rocky passed away. I cried because despite the fact that he was a big pain in the rear, he was our pain in the rear. And although he was not a child of ours, he was still a big part of our family. I regret all the times that I yelled at him... except one. I think you can guess... those New York strips had been marinating in our special seasoning and honey for several hours before he gobbled them up. Admittedly, I may have been a bit harsh with the orders to shoot on sight.
    Noah asked if we will ever get another dog. My first instinct was to say no, remembering all the bad stuff. But those things bring back the best memories of the Rockstar. His personality was the thing that we loved most about him. It was the thing that made him unlike any other dog.
     I imagine that in the future, we may get another dog and we will invest all of the time, cost, effort and the emotions that go into that.
     Unfortunately, right now, we are dealing with those emotions that go with losing a pretty sweet dog.


Favorite place to rest...

Are these milk bones all for me?

We will miss you...

Monday, January 26, 2015

Revisiting Wildflowers and Marbles...

     If you've never visited the blog, Wildflowers and Marbles, you will want to check it out when you get a minute (or a few hours).  So much wonderful information about the "gentle art of learning," in the Charlotte Mason tradition.
     There was a time when I thought I could never have taught my children at home.  Then, after about a year and a half of praying in adoration every Sunday morning, I knew this was what I was supposed to do. That was about four years ago. So, when my three kids started tenth, sixth, and second grades, I was their teacher.  I never looked back.
     Before I began, though, I searched the internet and the library for sources and ideas to help me with a task I, quite honestly, didn't really know how to do.
     One of my very favorite discoveries was Wildflowers and Marbles.  I used to go there practically daily, but teaching three kids at completely different stages commanded so much of my time that over time, I visited there less and less.
     So now, two out of three of my children are learning, for the most part, out of the house... my daughter at a university, and my son at a Catholic high school.... so that leaves my youngest, now a fifth grader.  Anyway, I have a little more time to read then I did before.
     That brings me back to Wildflowers.
     Still. love. that. blog.
     The blogger, Jennifer Mackintosh, shares her lists and ideas there.  One of her ideas I've borrowed along the way is what's called the Morning Basket. Because the lessons and stories have no age limit, the Morning Basket is ideal for teaching all of your children together.

     Here is a link to her most recent Morning Basket post... but don't stop there... click around.  You will love it all! And her ideas work for her, but you could modify it for your family.  Maybe even create an evening basket to use at or after the dinner hour... or at bedtime.  This for me was called Tea Time, and we used it in the afternoon because my kids all got up at different times according to their natural rhythms.  That's the beauty of this: make it your own.

     One book Jennifer uses in her Morning Basket is The Catechism in Examples, by the Rev. D. Chisholm, in five volumes.  I have provided the links to the ebooks right here:

Volume One  Faith: The Creed

Volume Two  Hope: Prayer

Volume Three  The Commandments

Volume Four  Grace: The Sacraments

Volume Five  Virtues and Vices

     I love the quiet of this time of year.  It is now that I can regroup and freshen things up where I need to.  This is definitely an area of my day where I can add in some new things.  If you have never used a Morning Basket in your homeschooling day... it's never too late.  Enjoy.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Broken Hart-ed?...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     I come to you this Friday with a broken heart.
     Typically, I don't like to put all my business out there for public consumption... okay, occasionally, I put my stuff out there for public consumption... alright, I put my junk out there once a week... but this is different. This is a deception of epic proportions and it hurts.
     It hurts real bad!
     I thought I had a solid marriage. Built on trust and love and a mutual respect for one another. All that came to a screeching halt this week.
     Brace yourselves: I walked in on my wife and another man in our bedroom. And get this, Noah was there to witness the whole sordid affair.
     I was crushed.
     Last week, I wrote about my wife's desire for me to take up with a "twenty-something gal" in the event of her untimely demise.
     I have no such dying wish.
     In fact, when I die, my wish is that Cheryl would wear black every day for the rest of her dreadful life and never get remarried. To my great dismay, Cheryl is taking up with an eighty something geezer right under my very still-alive nose.
     Let me explain:  I had fallen asleep downstairs and had awakened in a fog. As I stumbled into our bedroom, I could not believe what I found. Cheryl was sitting up watching the old-time TV show Hart to Hart... with a starry-eyed look and a big ol' smile on her face. A look that I had not seen since our wedding day. Poor Noah was lying next to her, and I could tell he was quite confused. Cheryl commented:  Robert Wagner is so handsome and romantic! 
     Okay, you do know it is a TV show.
     He was so suave and debonair in It Takes a Thief, too! So cool... and attentive to the girls in the shows.
     It Takes a Thief? Another TV show... right? You know that... right? 
     Noah chimed in:  Mom is in love with Robert Wagner. He is like an old guy... like fifty! 
     At this point, I was not sure if I was more hurt by the love affair... or the fact that Noah thinks someone is an old guy at the age of fifty.
     I corrected Noah: He's not fifty... he is like a hundred!
     My comment upset Cheryl, who quickly pointed out that Wagner is currently a still very handsome eighty-four years old, and when he was starring in It Takes a Thief and Hart to Hart, he was thirty-eight and forty-eight, respectively. Apparently, Cheryl had done some stalking... er... uh... research!
     I bet he was like Jonathon Hart in real life. 
    Okay, I am standing right here... in front of you... and can hear you. The dude is a Hollywood star who was married three or four times. 
     Technically, perhaps that's true, but he married Natalie Wood twice. 
     Speaking of Natalie Wood, I seem to recall that she died under suspicious circumstances... and your boy was somehow suspected of foul play! Romantic, my rear end.
     RJ would never have done such a thing! 
     RJ? Did you just call him RJ?  
     That's his nickname.
     For friends and family. Not for you! You know the boys hear you, and they are going to think that that is a normal way for a wife to treat a husband... that it's okay to ogle other men. 
     Okay... full disclosure:  there may have been a teensy little time or two... in the past... waaay... in the past... when I may have complimented the beautiful bone structure of Jennifer Aniston or pointed out the wonderful qualities of Jessica Alba. And in the course of these observations, I may... maybe... may have mentioned that they looked a little "overheated"... hot... if you will.
     Cheryl always points out that the boys can hear me, and they will think that it's okay to talk about women in such a crude fashion. I love when I can throw some of Cheryl's previous admonitions right back at her.
     So it seems that Hart to Hart runs on two separate channels every night. I am going to have to compete with that home-wrecker every night... twice a night.
     But I am here to tell you that no matter what the circumstance may be, you have to make the best of it. Affair or no affair, I will take a negative and make it a positive. What do they say? Keep your friends close... and your enemies closer.
     So, I will watch with my wife... and I will enjoy every minute of it. To every cloud there is a silver lining. Ah yes... Stephanie Powers. As Max says, "Mrs. H? She's gorgeous! What a terrific lady!"
     You might even say she's overheated.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Cheryl's last wishes...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     What a great Saturday morning we had last week!
     Typically on Saturdays, I am up at 6:30... for no other reason than that I get up at 6:30 every day. Someone's got to take the dog for a walk.
     This past Saturday, I did not wake up until 10 o'clock.
     The reason was simple: the dog had been barking at 3:30 a.m, and, as is usually the case, I was the only one to hear him. Which raises the question: if a dog barks in the middle of the night, and I am the only one to hear it... did the dog really bark?
     Kind of funny how I have this superpower that nobody else in my family possesses.
     So there I was walking Rocky... in the freezing cold until 4:00 a.m. Of course, I was then wide awake and could not get back to sleep. Fortunately, we had nowhere to go on Saturday, so I was able to finally doze back off and sleep in a little.
      Noah was the first to come into our bedroom and took his usual spot, hopping in bed between Cheryl and me. Matthew sauntered in next and flopped at the bottom of the bed... and Gracie entered the room, took one look, turned around and headed downstairs to get herself a cup of coffee... probably knowing we were about to hang out for a bit. She rejoined us a few minutes later with her steaming mug... sat in a chair and propped her feet up on the bed.
     How great was this? We were talking and laughing and having a grand old time.
     But then it took a strange turn.
     Cheryl slowly sat up with a strange look on her face and announced that she had this weird headache... maybe a brain aneurysm... and that she felt like she was going to pass out. She quickly ordered a cold compress. She may have even shouted STAT! at the end of her command.
     This was all so sudden. Not really recognizing the desperation of her situation, I may have made some teeny weeny remark about how much worse she would be feeling had she had to walk the dog during the icy, wee hours of the morning.
     Like a savvy poker player, Cheryl quickly raised her brain aneurysm to a hemorrhage... and then went all in with imminent death.
     She was not kidding.
     You know how I know she wasn't kidding? She started giving each of the children her deathbed advice.
     Matthew, if I go today, please remember to live your life with integrity. Tell the truth... be a man that can be trusted. 
     Noah, please understand that sometimes things don't always work out exactly as you had hoped. Everything doesn't have to be perfect. You need to remember to adapt and make the best of every situation. 
     It was at about this time that Grace returned to the room with her second cup of coffee and asked what was going on.
     Mommy is dying and giving everyone her final admonitions, I told her. 
     That is right Gracie, you need to stick up for yourself and have confidence. You are beautiful and smart, and you need to understand that about yourself. 
     And with that, Cheryl was apparently done.
     Wait... What about me? I asked.
     Nothing for you. 
     C'mon... there has to be something for me. Oooh, I know... Marry young!
     There may be some confusion as to what happened next. But it was clear to me, Cheryl looked at me with loving eyes and repeated, Marry young. Then she added: Relax. Everything will be okay.
     I truly believe that Cheryl's dying wish for me is that when she is good and dead, I am to remarry a younger woman.
     Kids, you all heard her. She looked at me lovingly and said, "Marry young." Is mid 20's okay? I whispered softly into her ear. You know... the headache and all.  
     Cheryl whispered something back to me, but it made no sense... as if she really did not intend for me to re-marry young. Cheryl was knocking on death's door and was fading fast. Clearly, we could not rely on her recollection of the conversation.
     I turned to Matthew for clarity. Matthew chimed in.
     Dad, she did say "marry young," that's true... but she kind of raised her voice at the end as if she were confused and looked at you with squinty eyes as if she were asking you if that was the best you could do for a dying wish. Then she paused and gave you your real advice: "Relax and everything will be fine." Because you do kind of have intense reactions to things sometimes.
     Those were loving eyes. I have known her longer than you, and I know what eyes she was giving me. We can all agree that she used the words "marry" and "young" in the same sentence... one right after the other... and she was looking at me. Then the brain bleed thing kicked in and everything after that was kind of garbled. By God, I plan on granting her her last wish! You guys do what you want with your lives, but I am marrying young once she goes. 
     It was at this point that Cheryl uttered what I thought were to be her last words: I really need that cold compress. 
     Cold compresses are Cheryl's go-to cure for bad headaches. I lovingly got her a wet cloth and lovingly placed it on her forehead. As is custom, when the cloth warms, she swings it over her head as if lassoing a bull and then reapplies it, freshly chilled by the air, to her forehead.
     This cooling process is kind of ingenious if you think about it.
     This cooling-of-the-compress ritual gave me some pause because asking for and re-cooling that cold compress is not typical behavior of one dying from a brain hemorrhage. She was not going to die at all... and I had already rushed into marriage with some twenty-something. My mood quickly changed... she wasn't dying... she was going to live.
     Suddenly I became very concerned!
     I had to think of something quick. Somehow, I had to make it up to her.
     Look, baby! It's not as if I am going to bring her to the funeral or anything. You are the only one for me! 
     As you may have guessed, Cheryl survived.
     I know she survived because she has pointed out... on more than one occasion... that if I were to marry a twenty-something girl, that girl could be a classmate of my daughter's:
     Hey, when we moved Gracie back to school, did you happen to look around and see anybody suitable?
     Hmmm... that makes this post kind of Creepy Guy Friday.
     The truth is that if, heaven forbid, something were ever to happen to Cheryl, I would never get remarried. There are several reasons why, but the main reason is that I will never feel the same way about any other woman as I do about Cheryl.
     I fell in love with her the minute that I laid eyes on her. Well... not the seventh grade her... but the Cheryl I saw again all those years later. I knew on that day that we would be spending the rest of our lives together. We discussed marriage on our second date and got engaged after six weeks. We were married nine months later and have been blessed with a good life together and three great kids that bring us great joy.
     There has never been a day that I doubted my decision to ask her to marry me, and I look forward to every day with her in my life.
     The bottom line is... this will only happen once in my lifetime.  
     So despite my lovely wife's dying wish...  I shall remain single.            

Friday, January 9, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... The Twelve Days of Christmas...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     The Christmas season comes and goes so quickly.
     In fact, this year, we started the season a bit late due to Grace's first semester of college. We did not get our usual start on the Friday after Thanksgiving but had to wait until the semester ended and Grace returned home. This crammed all of the hustle and bustle into a few short weeks.
     With that being said, I came up with a great idea to spread the holiday beyond Christmas Day and go for an extra twelve days. Why twelve days, you ask? Because historically, Christmas started on Christmas Eve and included twelve days of celebration, culminating on the eve of Epiphany... or Twelfth Night as it was called.
     Ah... the twelve days of Christmas. Drummers drumming and all that jazz.
     So here is the plan that I devised: take the twelve days after Christmas and do something special on each day. For instance, I looked on the internet and found a beautiful light show on 34th Street in Baltimore. So on one night, we took the kids to see the lights and then to Little Italy for some dessert.
     On another night, I invited Cheryl's family out for a movie and on a separate night, had them over for a delicious homemade dinner.
     We spent time with friends, we went out for ice cream, and we played games, games and more games.
     We even instituted new Christmas traditions like the King's Cake and the Wishing Tree. Both traditions that date back to our forefathers. Noah and I learned all about that... when we toured the Bowie Mansion.
     We did something new almost every night... but the best part of the twelve days was having our three kids together. There is no better sound than hearing the three of them laughing and enjoying each other's company. I have missed that since Grace has gone off to college.
     The only bad part of the whole Christmas season was that Matthew kept complaining of being
tired and not feeling well. In fact, he was going to stay home when we went to see Santa at Annapolis Mall. The real Santa, by the way. He is not a "Santa's helper" like the ones you may see in other malls or shops. If you want irrefutable evidence that this Santa is the real McCoy, I will advise you that he has been there every year since Grace was a baby... he never ages... he calls my kids by name... and he comes through every year and gets the kids the gifts that they ask for.
     If he ain't Santa, then I am the Easter Bunny!
     Anyway... Cheryl had to shame Matthew out of bed and into Santa's lap. Poor kid had a 101 fever.  I wanted him to stay home and rest, but Cheryl was very persistent. In fact, you could even say that she was mean and nasty in her texts and her messages. Even called him a faker. Very un-Cheryl-like.  She would not let the poor kid alone. He only went to prevent her from giving him a hard time.
     We had a great two weeks. No hustle, no bustle, no shopping. Just time together as a family! I loved it, and we will institute these Twelve Days of Christmas every year.
     Okay, okay... full disclosure...
     I had no idea about the Twelve Days of Christmas until Cheryl told me. She wrote every word after historically in the second paragraph. I never understood the song. I always thought that some Christian kid got jealous over some Jewish kid having eight days of Hanukkah and made up a song and added four more days to that Jewish kid's eight.
     Cheryl did it all.
     She looked up the lights on 34th Street. She invited everybody out for movies and dinners. She decided we should play games and go out for ice cream.
     I didn't do any of it.    
     Well, I did shame Matthew into seeing Santa. Very yes-Mark-like! I knew he was faking! If he were really sick, he would have stayed home.
     Oh, and I didn't take Noah to the Mansion... Cheryl did. I went to Sports Authority!
     I stink and Cheryl is the greatest.  I am stupid and she is smart.  There, I said it!
     I just glob onto her ideas and try to take all the credit.
     It is not fair. She thinks about stuff and always comes up with great ideas. And despite the fact that  some of her ideas meet with initial resistance from the kids... okay, from me... they always work out great.
     The idea of celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas was one of Cheryl's best ideas ever. It really did spread the Christmas season over a longer period of time and avoided all of the typical pressures that accompany the preceding weeks.
     I loved it! I found myself longing for Christmases like those celebrated in the Colonial days.
     Let me tell you how it used to be. Back in the day, there was no Santa, no Christmas tree, and no gift exchanges... except for maybe a small token on Christmas morning. The Twelve Days following  Christmas were highlighted by parties with a grand celebration for Epiphany. They would dance and drink punch that always included the same five ingredients... fruit, spice, sugar, liquor and more liquor. They made the King's cake with a special bean in the cake. Whoever got the bean, was King for the night. They pulled wishes off of the Wishing Tree and enjoyed jellies made from boiled pig's feet.
     It sounds awesome. Well... maybe not the pig's feet part.
     I bet you didn't know all of that.
     See? I can be smart too. And guess what...
     I learned all of this stuff on my trip to the Sport's Authority!

PS... It turns out that Matthew wasn't faking as I had suspected... he had walking pneumonia. I only bring this up to advise Santa and all of our friends and family that visited with our family during the Twelve Days of Christmas to keep an eye on your children. If you see any signs of illness with your kids, please feel free to call Cheryl! She's the smart one! She can help you!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Of cell phones and chance encounters...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy.
     This past Tuesday, Cheryl's cousin from Massachusetts was in town, so we headed over to my in-laws for dinner.
     My mother accompanied us.
     The topic of how everyone had met their spouses came up, and I sat and listened to one couple after another recount the stories of their meeting.
     Cheryl's parents met by chance in a little nightclub, when Cheryl's dad was stationed in the seaside town Cheryl's mom lived in, and she had gone out dancing one night with her sister.
     Cheryl's cousin and her husband met on a ski trip.
     Cheryl's sister and her husband met at work.
     Finally, my mom told a story that I had only just recently heard the details of for the first time. And get this... I had heard those details from my wife, not my mother.
     I knew that my mom and dad met on a bus on its way to D.C. from my mom's home state of Pennsylvania, but I had never heard the full story. You would think that I would have known all the details, but I did not.
     I blame my lack of knowledge on two factors. First, I am the youngest of six kids and everyone probably had just assumed that I knew the story. And second, I am a guy... and details don't matter to guys. They met... they got married... they had kids (of which I was one)... and they lived happily ever after. Now, will you please pass the mashed potatoes?
     Well, the details of their meeting are kind of cool.
     After visiting her hometown one weekend, my mother and two of her friends needed to get back to D.C. where they worked. They arrived at the bus station for the last ride out that Monday morning, and when they tried to get tickets, they were informed that there were no seats available.
     They begged and they pleaded for the driver to let them on, but he would not. They were desperate because there was no other way to get back to work on time!
     It just so happens that my father and his best friend were sitting in the last row of that bus and overheard the girls' plight. My dad called out to the driver, assuring him that they would make room for the girls and to please let them on.
     My dad was quite the gentleman... and I am sure that it did not hurt that my mother was quite the looker. In any event... they met, got married, had kids... and they lived happily ever after.
     Pretty simple really!
     As my mom told the story, I sat and wondered what would happen if that same situation were to occur today. Would a young man offer to make room for a pretty young lady if he were confronted with same exact situation in today's world? Would he even take notice of the predicament that the girls found themselves in?
     I bring this up because this past week, I have been off work. It has been great being able to spend time with my family. But since I have been around a lot more than usual, I have noticed a disturbing trend. My kids live in a world of immediate information and instant gratification. No matter where we are... no matter what we are doing... they have their cell phones with them every second. Unless, of course, I make them give me their phones. This is torture to them. I swear that they would rather be water-boarded than go a day without their phones.
     They give and receive instant information from a variety of unnecessary sources... each of which is apparently vitally important to their very existence. Funny, because they rarely answer my calls. I get the occasional call back... but it is rare that they ever answer my first call!
     And from talking to other parents and watching other kids with their "mobile devices" (I hate that term... why can't they just call them phones?) my kids aren't as bad as most!
     As a result of their noses in their phones at all times, they miss what is going on around them. Hey, look, there is a Leprechaun stealing a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! 
     What... I am sorry, Dad. My friend is having a steak and cheese and she just texted me a picture of her sub because they used Swiss instead of Provolone. Isn't that unbelievable? Did you say something? 
    My kids get pictures, memes, snapchats, texts, emails, and tweets all day long... mostly with completely unnecessary information. By the way, it's not just the kids. Look, I am happy my buddy got a new couch, but I don't care to hear about it the second it was purchased. I will see it when he invites me over to his home. No offense, but I don't care!
     And speaking of snapchat... My kids will giggle at inappropriate times because of some message on their phone, and when I ask to see it, I get this response: Uh, it's a snapchat, Dad... you can only see it for a second and then it is gone. Sorry.
     Who communicates like that? It is stupid!
     The other day, the phone at our house rang, and all three of my kids were within ten feet of the phone. Not one of them even looked up. I don't get it! I'm beginning to think they are losing their ability to understand what the "ringing telephone" means.
     Times, they are a'changing, that's for sure.
     A few years ago, I went to buy a phone and the salesman asked what features I wanted. I would like a phone that makes calls and takes calls! 
     He was dumbfounded: Sir, we don't have that! They all do something else.
     So, now that I have my super-mega-iPhone-5G3-mobile-device complete with sixteen gigabytes of memory, capable of taking quality photos, texting, emailing, snapchatting, facebooking, and tweeting, I find myself falling into the same stupid trap as my kids. Time and again, I have this burning desire to reach for my phone in the middle of my wife's stories. I don't even know how to do half of the stuff that my phone can do, but I still reach for the darn thing right in the middle of her sentence. I used to just nod and periodically say yeah, and all was good. Now, she can't help but see that I am blatantly ignoring her. And, believe it or not, this upsets her for some reason.
     Just another example of how cell phones are ruining our lives!
     And don't even get me started on "the selfie." I will admit to participating in a group selfie from time to time, but I am proud to say that I have never taken a picture of myself... alone ... with duck lips or otherwise. Apparently, duck lips are required in most selfies.
     Look around when you are in a crowd and check out the number of people looking at their phones. Do you really think that a young man would hear the damsel in distress and volunteer to help? I don't think so.
     Just think of the ramifications if my father had had a cell phone some sixty years ago. My parents might never have met. Never have gotten married. Never have had kids. And would have lived happily never after.
     And your Fridays just might never have been the same.
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