St. Valentine’s Day

I stink at Valentine’s Day.

Surprising revelation, huh?

100% true. Not a holiday which ranks high on my list. It ranks right there with National Pistachio Day and Polar Bear Day scratching at the hardpan ground at the bottom of the holiday ladder in my book.

Didn’t like it as a kid, not a fan as an adult.

Valentine’s Day was pure hell as a stocky, introverted sports nut from a family of 5 boys to endure in my school days. The labeling, signing, and presentation of those little cards haunted my youth and came back to bite me as a parent helping my own kids label, sign and present those little cards.

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I stink at Valentine’s Day.

I feel bad for my wife and kids.

But…

If the modern twisting of the holiday as a celebration of manufactured romance and jewelry sales were actually more a celebration of St. Valentine, it may hold more interest for me. (Check out the real St. Valentine’s story.)

St. Valentine was tough as nails. He appears to have had a confident attitude and stood strongly for his beliefs. My kind of guy.

Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius in Rome [when helping them was considered a crime], Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner — until Valentinus made a strategic error: he tried to convert the Emperor — whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn’t do it, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate [circa 269].

Maybe it is time to reconsider this holiday and return to the very essence of St. Valentine himself. Make it a holiday to celebrate grit and toughness and standing up for one’s beliefs.

My kind of holiday.

In the meantime, eat some chocolate, make googly eyes, and snuggle up and overdose on the WE Network. Enjoy it while you can—change is coming.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Mike&Kelli Thanksgiving 2010

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Meat & Potatoes

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about meat and potatoes. Am I that hungry? No (But that does sound good, doesn’t it, Mrs. Hays?).  I’m not talking about meat and potatoes as a hearty meal, I’ve been thinking a lot about football meat and potatoes.

WilsonFootball

It’s post-Super Bowl week. Usually, in post-Super Bowl week, I rarely think about football. The season is over. Time to take a little break and get ready for the baseball season.

Not this year.

What happened?

Super Bowl XLIX happened. An uber-exciting game with the best two teams in the league participating. A game where the outcome came down to one final play. And THAT final play is what has been bugging the heck out of me all week.

Meat and potatoes.

In the ultimate game on the ultimate stage and at the very pinnacle of their sport, one team had a chance to win the Vince Lombardi trophy for the second year in a row but had their hopes dashed at the goal line with an interception. The team came up short due in large part to choosing to go with a cute, trickster play call instead of their meat and potatoes play call.

Meat and potatoes?

It’s the play your team runs best. It’s the play you hang the personality of the whole team on. It’s the play your players believe in and trust above all others. Coach Eric Burks taught me this in my first year of coaching freshman football. Our best play, the one all our kids trusted and executed above all others was 34 Power.

34 Power was a run play. An in-your-face running play, in fact. We double-team blocked the point of attack, led the lead blocking back through the hole to block the first threat, and handed the ball to the tailback, who followed the blocking back into the hole and broke to daylight.

It was a good play. We ran it well. We had confidence in it as a team. It was who we were. Coach Burks called 34 Power whenever we need to gain important yardage, like 4th and short or on the goal line. He called it our meat and potatoes play—our staple play. The kids caught on to the meat and potatoes concept. They caught on so well and became so confident in the 34 Power, Coach Burks just started calling the play “Meat & Potatoes”.

If we were behind in the 4th quarter and stuck in an do-or-die fourth and short at midfield, he would send in the play call with the WR. Meat & Potatoes. Everybody knew what it meant, everybody knew what their job was, and everybody (usually) got the job done.

That’s what’s been bugging me all week. The Seattle Seahawks, with the game on the line, got too cute. They skipped their meat and potatoes and went straight for the all-you-can eat dessert bar. Instead of running the football with the best short yardage, touchdown scoring, legs always churning forward running back, they passed the ball. They turned their back on everything they built their success on and failed.

They ate too many chocolate fudge sundaes and got an upset stomach.

The Seahawks skipped the most important part of their Super Bowl meal. They skipped their Meat & Potatoes.

It was a great game. One of the most entertaining Super Bowls ever.

I just can’t get the meat and potatoes mistake out of my mind.

Hurry up baseball, save me from this strategic football dilemma that haunts me.

Meat and potatoes…

MeatPotatoes

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My Friday Night Lights

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I would say 1000 thousand words is an understatement to my view tonight while cleaning rocks off the baseball field.

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Pretty darn nice for a January 23 evening.

Sometimes you just have to stop and soak in the beauty.

Then get back to raking rocks.

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Baseball season is just around the corner…

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The King of Communication

My smartphone is one of the coolest things I’ve ever owned. I can call, text, video chat, listen to music, listen to books, watch TV or videos, and even write. I carry a library of books with me everywhere I go on my phone. Cool, right?

But, truthfully, this wonder of modern gadgetry still pales in cool-factor comparison to the coolest gadget/toy a boy could ever hold in his hand—the walkie-talkie.

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A walkie-talkie could open many doors of imagination in beautiful static-filled delight for millions of kids. Talking CB language, sending Morse code, performing the perfect talk-drop-roll manuever to avoid being seen by suspicious sisters. Nothing was more fun (or high-tech) than using the “two-way”.

The uses are almost endless.

  • Planning an attack.
  • Asking your little brother to bring you a soda.
  • Searching the backyard for buried treasure.
  • Conniving deviant behaviors with the neighborhood crew.

All perfect for the king of communications.

The Walkie-Talkie!

Handhelds1

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Milestone Book Anniversaries (When Did I Get So Old?)

It’s the 40th anniversary of the release of Tuck Everlasting.

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Wow!
Tuck Everlasting is one of those books that galvanize readers. One of those books you read (skim) as an obnoxious pre-teen when you knew everything and just wanted to slip a few quick points in the school reading program in order to get a pizza. A book you read again as an adult and it triggers a desire to read all the kidlit you were too cool to read as an obnoxious pre-teen.
A classic.
But is it really 40?
Was I really only 10 when it was published?
Ha! That means it’s timeless also.
Tuck Everlasting isn’t the only awesome book celebrating a recent milestone anniversary. This year, Alice in Wonderland turns 150 and is just as awesome now as it was in 1865.
Last year, Charlie and the Chocolate Factor, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Giving Tree turned 50.

charlie and the chocolate factory
Maybe I’m getting old and tired, but these great, old books stay fresh and vibrant and still find a way to hook readers.
We have all aged well.

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What is best?

High school-aged kids are going to screw up.  That’s a given.  It is part of being young and stupid.  You think you will not get caught, you think nobody will know or find out, and you think nobody cares.  As a parent and coach, I don’t like it.  I wish kids wouldn’t behave badly. I wish they would make good decisions 100% of the time 24/7.  But they don’t.  The learning curve of life is shaped by mistakes and failures.

But, what do we adults do? Do we turn a blind eye? Do we slap their wrist and tell them not to repeat the bad behavior event? Do we bring the hammer down?

Tough questions. I have no good answer. I don’t like the solution which completely takes away the activity from the kid. In our high school, I felt football kept a great number of our young men coming to school every day (more than any of us wanted to admit). Being part of the team kept them connected. Without the sport and without the team, many of them drifted away.

Paddle

With a sports coach, I like the multi-facet discipline approach to a player in trouble. I think the most effective enforcement comes three directions—the parent, the administrator, and the coaching staff. Not too severe from either direction, but enough to turn the thumb screws and make life in trouble an uncomfortable situation for the kid.

Not easy topics.  Mistakes and punishment are right at the bottom of the list of things coaches want to take care of during a season. But, they happen. They happen more than any of us want to admit. When they do occur, how we handle these issues has a long-term positive or negative impact on the kid. No pressure, right?

I don’t know the way to solve all these problems. High school kids will continue to get in trouble. Are we going to respond in a way the helps the kid in the long run or hurts the kid in the long run?

It’s never easy.

 

 

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Be Fearless

Be fearless.
Make mistakes.
Fail, fail, and fail.
Get up and try again, only better.

Be fearless.
Like when you were a kid.
And had the tiger by the tail.
Take the chance.

Be fearless
Have dreams.
Throw them out there.
Chase them down.

Be fearless
Create your best.
Imagine your finest.
Make your world a better place.

Be fearless.
Live to your dream.
Give until empty.
The world needs it.

Young Super Hero Standing on Laundry Machines

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