Category Archives: grandparents

Why You Should Take Your Kids Fishing!

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”

Henry David Thoreau

I recently came across an old picture of a bass that one of my kids caught. Check out the expressions on my boy’s faces. I loved taking them fishing. My dad took me fishing. His dad took him fishing. I am sure that for generations along our family line, the dads have been taking their kids and grandkids fishing.

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Taking your kids fishing is awesome. It is an experience or sum of many experiences that sometimes have little to do with actually catching fish. There are boat trailers that lose an axle or have a flat tire. There is always the pressure of backing a trailer down a busy boat ramp with multiple “experts” and old timers watching and judging. There are plugs that are sometimes remembered only when the boat is quickly filling up with water.

There is bait to buy and keep alive. There are licenses and boat regulations to consider. There is bad weather, hot sun and early morning departures which impact your whole day.

There are boat batteries that run down and motors that won’t start. There are snacks, gas, and ice to buy. There are fishing lines that break and hooks that end up in fingers and ears. There are rods and reels that fall into the water and stringers of fish that drift away because nobody tied them to the boat. There are anchors that have the same fate…a well meaning toss over board with no rope attached to the boat. There are tangles and knots. There are long hot hours that go by without any bites except from mosquitoes. There are snakes and gators that keep you on your toes.

There is all of this and finally a nibble…and if the fish gods are smiling on you, your child lands a fish. Life is good again…or so it seems to the younger ones. For those older and more mature anglers, they know that life has been good all along.

hf70 As with fishing, life is much less about the end result than it is about the journey. Going fishing is all about teaching your children how to solve problems without them even realizing they are growing…it’s about them learning that having fun does not always mean things won’t go wrong. Going fishing is about spending time talking with your kids while you are waiting for the fish to bite or for someone to tow you in. Going fishing is about introducing your children to the wonders of nature. Going fishing is how you make a miserable outing into something that your kids will treasure forever.

Don’t rob your kids of these experiences. Even in the bible it tells us while raising kids we are not to spare the rod…and,  I might add, nor the reel and a box full of tackle. Do all that it takes to make a fishing trip possible. You may or may not catch a fish but there is no question that your misery will pay you back to the positive down the road.

 HighFive Your Life Principle: Go fishing with your kids. Enjoy what others may call misery and make memories that will last through the generations.

Tell a Story

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What Do You Do When Somebody Talks Too Much?

“Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense.”
Robert Frost

Have you ever been around somebody who just eats up all of the oxygen in the room with their incessant chatter? Have you ever been that person? Let’s assume for the “sake of talking” that the person is not you but that it is someone else burning up their lips and gums and damaging your eardrums and vestibulocochlear nerves. What do you do? Below are five possible alternatives for finding relief:

1. Don’t listen. Imagine yourself on a sailboat on a beautiful sunny day in your 20 year old lotioned and tan body (even if you are 50…well, especially if you are 50). All the while, keep moving your head slightly and paying just enough attention to not nod yes when they are complaining about their own mother or their excess weight etc.

2. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom. This is good for only the first exit because after that they might start a rumor about your bladder. For the second and third exits, you can use excuses such as, checking the laundry, sprinklers or locked doors. If a fourth exit is required, feign fatigue and reschedule the visit.

3. Inquire about the mole on their arm and suggest that they need to get it checked. If you can’t see one then just assume they have one on their back. If necessary, share the story of your older relative that had a bad experience with a mole. It has to be just subtle enough to not create a whole new conversation while allowing a seed to be planted of personal survivability and worry.

4. “Did you hear that?” always stops the conversation and you achieve a moment of silence, which can help you gain energy for the next chattering onslaught. If you stand and turn around and look, it helps your charade. Ask one more time, “did you hear that?” When they answer “no”, you can ask them to stay quiet for a few more precious seconds and then explain that it must have been the rats that sometimes appear in your house. Add that one time one of them stuck their head out from under the very same couch your friend is sitting in. Assure them that they need not worry because you recently bought a pet snake and allowed it to roam through the house in the daytime and that it had eaten most of the rats. Add a little shrug and laugh and say “now where were we?”

5. As a last resort, you might try to engage the other person in conversation but direct it in a way that has a terminal point…eg… I don’t like funerals…or… my warts have been bothering me…do you mind rubbing them because I can’t reach them?…or… did you hear that continuous talking causes gout?

If none of these ploys work, then hand them your grandbaby and some carrots. He will know what to do. Everyone will be happy…well, what is your friend going to do…give you the baby back? Of course not….that would get all of the neighbors talking!  Ahhh…peace at last!

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Some Messes Are Better Than Others (A Lesson that Washington D.C. Could Learn)

“No matter what message you are about to deliver somewhere, whether it is holding out a hand of friendship, or making clear that you disapprove of something, is the fact that the person sitting  across the table is a human being, so the goal is to always establish common ground.”
Madeleine Albright

 

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Recently my one year old grandson came to visit us in Florida. His mother made a cake for everyone with birthdays in March and, though the cake was delicious, the sweetest part of the evening was watching our grandson discover icing! Without concern for the mess he would leave behind, he just enjoyed his discovery almost as much as we enjoyed watching him discover it!

There is such a thing as a good mess and it is so much more tolerable than a bad mess. When I turn on the news at night it is so disturbing. Can the mass of egos and dogmatic fighting get any messier than what we see in Washington D. C.? Because I know that history has seen many a good man and woman go there to bring reason and common sense back to this country, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to operate in such an environment. Where are the diplomats, where are the servant leaders, where are the peacemakers, where are the grandfathers and grandmothers who know better?

I rode my bike this week listening to my ITunes. When I finished my workout at home and got off my bike there was a song playing that had a great beat. I found myself dancing in my yard. I felt so happy and almost carefree. I looked to see if my wife might be watching but she wasn’t. I would have loved it, if just for 60 seconds, she would have slow danced with me in the yard.

Maybe the good men and women in Washington need to take a breath, let down their hair or toupees and relax. There are pressing and important issues that are nearly impossible to solve, especially if everyone left their common sense and respect for people back in their hometown. If however, we could take the politics out of it and just remember how good it was to be around our friends back when we were young in our old neighborhood before life got so difficult and our opinions got so ingrained…if we could just stand still for a moment and have the grappling hooks of agendas and self righteousness removed from their deep entrenched place in our sagging pectoral muscles…if we could see our adversaries as our friends with just differing opinions…maybe we could have a reasonable discourse that actually solves some of the nearly “impossible to solve” issues facing our country.

I bet that many of our politicians have things in common that they never get to enjoy together because of the tension and partisanship that engulfs Washington. Wouldn’t it be nice if one day during a session of congress they just started playing “Sweet Home Alabama” or “Stairway to Heaven” or maybe had a “bring your grandbaby day”. My guess is if we could get these men and women to back up as far as they had to in order to find common ground, we might be able to access their brilliance in governing in a way that eventually moves us ahead as a country. We need to get them to a spot where they can laugh at themselves when they do a numbskull thing instead of trying to justify or rationalize it. For example, I, without shame, readily admit that it was folly for me to recommend, when I served on my high school student council, that we put cameras in the bathrooms to try and catch those students who were smoking. See…now the whole world can join me at laughing at myself and it didn’t feel so bad.

If we made a mess of things but it was with all of us trying together using common sense and working from common ground, I guarantee that it would be a much more tolerable mess than the one we see the country making now. Remember that whole “Love thine enemies” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” thing? That philosophy actually requires people to make significant personal sacrifices. It requires people to be peacemakers. My definition of a peacemaker is somebody who gives all that is required but more than what is fair and expects no compensation for the difference.

Come on grandpas and grandmas that serve in Washington…you know better. Be the first to reach out to your enemy and make them a friend. Save our grand kids. Save our Country. We can’t have our cake and eat it too but we can dip out of the same bowl of icing and have some fun together and make this country shine again.

bennieHighFive Your Life Principle: Grandpas and Grandmas in Washinton D.C. get together and show the world your wisdom and maturity. Dance a jig and share a salad or burger with your adversary and save the world.

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How Many Hands Will Go into This Glove?

“A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on”
Carl Sandburg

    Scan0016(Photo by Mary)

Our oldest son Robbie loved baseball growing up. He still loves it. When Robbie and Erica sent me a picture of their baby resting in his glove, it brought many things to mind. First, his wife Erica is the best catch he ever made!..and now their first child Bennett…what a catch he is!

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We generally think of a glove being used to protect the hand that is inside it and, in fact, a baseball glove does indeed do that. But a baseball glove does so much more. It is built to be bigger than the hand to enable it to do more than just the hand alone could do. It is designed to provide more reach and broader coverage. Once it has made its catch it is designed to allow the hand to squeeze it closed to protect and hold what it has caught.

I remember the experience of the birth of our children and how, without any prompting from anywhere but within, the thoughts, prayers and actions of me and my wife began to center around protecting each child. We extended ourselves beyond what we could and would normally do. They are all grown and have left the nest but our thoughts, actions and prayers for their protection have not changed.

It made me ponder how many hands will go into that glove during this child’s lifetime to offer protection, teaching, love and support? The hands of Erica and Robbie will spend the most time in this glove nurturing Bennett. But as the baby grows, Robbie and Erica will depend on other hands to also do their duty inside the glove.

IMG_1263There will be multiple other family members; grandmas and grandpas and great grandmas and great grandpas and uncles and aunts and siblings and cousins. And then add the hands of the teachers and coaches and preachers and friends, nurses and doctors and policemen and firemen and classmates and teammates and soldiers and honest politicians and neighbors and even strangers.

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When I think that God holds the whole world in his hand I do not think he has to use a glove but the image is the same to me.

So many hands will attend to the protection of this and other babies. Shouldn’t we all make a special effort to do our part…to recognize the opportunity for what it is…that it is not about protecting our hands but instead about protecting those around us. Shouldn’t we be ready when the call comes for us to put our hand in that glove?

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I Made It!…I finally Became A Grandpa!

Parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles are made more powerful guides and rescuers by the bonds of love that are the very nature of a family.
Henry B. Eyring

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Recently, I picked up my son and his wife and their new one month old son, Bennett Gary Larson, at the airport. It was the first time I saw my grandson in person and it was a very special moment. For the previous twenty years, as I traveled around with my 4 young children, I had occasionally received compliments from people who mistakenly thought they were my “grandchildren”. I guess it might have been my hair that started turning grey a little earlier than most but it still surprised me when it happened and almost offended me. I remember that I was in my forties when I was given a senior citizen discount at a local restaurant. I just look older than I really am.

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I am here today to announce to the world that my greyness and wrinklicity (new word) is now appropriate for my new calling in life…I am a grandpa and it feels pretty dang good!! It is by far the best thing that ever happen to me that required no effort or work on my part.. no input, no advice, no late night ponderings. What an awesome event! …and it gets better. I am already planning the go carts and fishing trips and throwing the baseball and football. These are reasons enough to try to get and stay healthy.

The hardest thing has been to try to figure out my grandpa name. My four grandparents were: BeMa and PePa, and MoMo and PoPo. We have considered MeMe and PePe but my wife won’t let me use that name. Perhaps we are supposed to let the first baby mumble a few sounds that become our names but I have decided to take a more active role. My family likes to call me Gare Bear and so I have taken the liberty to make the connection between me and one of the most ferocious animals on the earth…my new name for the next two to three decades is going to be BearPa…and if the little kid starts calling me PaPa or Poo Poo, I will just gently nudge him back to the bear….the BearPa!

This is going to be fun. What will I do however if somebody comes up and gives me a compliment thinking these are my “great grandchildren”? I think a fierce look and a low growl from the Bear will make it clear they are messing with the wrong cubs. Being a grandpa is going to be the best thing in the world. I still have a few things to learn…like not calling my wife granny, but this is going to be a great honor. Young Bennett and the others that will follow don’t know it yet but BearPa, translated into baby talk, just means “your best friend and protector for ever.”

That’s me…BearPa.

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