“You Know, You’ll Die Going Over that Cliff”

I guess he answered the question whether he has the stones to take the leap

I guess he answered the question whether he has the stones to take the leap

It’s ski season and having grown up in Colorado, this time of year brings back a lot of mountainside memories.

One that comes to mind is riding one of the chairlifts at Copper Mountain that goes above a lot of expert terrain. One section has a cliff where you can watch adrenaline junkies ski right off.

In addition to those that go over,  I have memories of the guy that stops right at the edge, looks down and contemplates everything in his life.  Meanwhile people on the lift with no skin in the game shout down, “Do it!” and “Just jump!”.

Whether yelling or not we’re all thinking the same thing – does he really have the stones to take the leap?

Somehow that guy contemplating going off the cliff is a bit like I feel about our latest experience with the Dads’ Bucket List crew.

We’re going to do something terrifying for a lot of folks.  It’s something none of the dads and all but one of our kids has ever done before, so it could be a complete disaster.

First practice had a few more questions than answers

First practice had a few more questions than answers

And here’s the big reveal, we’re going to perform before a live audience as a ROCK BAND!  Just typing that made me break out in a cold sweat.  And to add to the degree of difficulty we’re going to do this by having exactly two practice sessions – an hour each of the prior Saturdays leading up to an open mic event on Feb. 27.

The idea to be in a rock band always sounded like a blast.  While I was channel surfing over the holidays I came across the movie ‘School of Rock’ and the seed was planted.

I reached out to Mark Gallegos who runs a local music teaching studio  and told him my idea.  There was a long silence over the phone followed by, “Mark, Mark are you still there?” He was and had a few questions:

Mark was up to his neck in it with our DBL crew

Mark was up to his neck in it with our DBL crew

Mark: “Musical experience?”

Me: “One kid plays the guitar, the rest of us sing in the shower.”

Mark: “How many months until you want to actually perform?”

Me: “Practice and perform in front of a live audience by the end of the month.”

He gave a nervous chuckle and then said, “we can give it a shot”.  Bingo, we were in business! From there we scheduled our practice sessions.  But before we hung up, Mark had to ask me just one more thing.

Mark:  “Are you on drugs?”

Me:  “No. But I figure if you’re going to ski all the way to the cliff you may as well go over.”

Be sure to come rock with us at 5pm on Feb. 27

Be sure to come rock with us at 5pm on Feb. 27

Go. See. Be. Do.

Want to see the show?  Send us a note through our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

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“I’d Pay You Not to Make that Sound Again”

Why lie, at times I sing while I’m driving. I’m convinced I’m able to hit the high notes with Steve Perry and am pitch perfect on the squeals of Axl Rose.

"Practice is overrated"

“Practice is overrated”

However, the cold, hard truth is that I’m not much of a singer. This became abundantly clear to me when I was 12.   One Sunday sitting in church with my mom, I made a conscious effort to give my best effort singing a hymn.

As I sang like a bird, my mom gave me a solid nudge and with a serious leer said verbatim, “Shut up and sing right!” Game. Set. Match!

Here’s another little secret.  I haven’t sung in church since. I lip sync. Exclusively.  That’s right, I am the Milli Vanilli of the United Methodist Church.

So with that kind of musical pedigree, I figured it was time for the Dads’ Bucket List crew to debut our singing talents in front of a live audience.  That’s right, this month’s experience was to regale the masses with some Christmas caroling.

The plan was simple, we’d meet at my house at 4:00 one evening where we’d labor for 2 hours of practice before hitting the public with the high notes.

We had everyone on hand by 5:55, which left us exactly 5 minutes to perfect our craft. We did this by gathering in the garage with the doors closed for a 5 minute harmony session. I’m not gonna pull any punches, we were simply melodic.  So off we went.

We're a band!

We’re a band!

Low hanging fruit was the order of the evening. A neighbor with a 1-year-old that wouldn’t be able to verbalize whether or not we sounded good or bad was our first stop.  We killed it with some “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”.

From there, we hopped in cars to hit another neighborhood and knocked out some “Joy to the World”.  Now, we were humming and decided to up the degree of difficulty by adding instruments.

We grabbed a snare drum, xylophone, clarinet and even a trumpet.  We weren’t mere carolers anymore.  We were a band!  And we knew it!

With confidence pouring through our veins, all we needed to see were Christmas lights on for us to knock and start singing.  We added “Little Drummer Boy” and a trumpet solo of “Jingle Bells” to the play list. We were on point.

We got smiles, we got high fives. Even a couple of hugs. One thing we didn’t get, you ask?  A record contract.

That’s okay though because just like the way I think I sound good singing in my car, we walked away with the memory of sounding angelic as we caroled to the masses.

I’ll admit, this wasn’t our best planned outing.  But it was something that none of us had ever done before so it fit the Bucket List criteria.  Most importantly though, it was memorable.

"Dad, you rock"...and so do you, Little Man

“Dad, you rock”…and so do you, Little Man

My youngest son, Bo, confirmed this later that night when he told me “that was the best Dads’ Bucket List outing ever.”  Good to know that simplicity still sells.

Also, good to know that through the years, Dads’ Bucket List is still cranking out the hits.

Happy New Year!

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“Is That Drone Following Me?”

While I headed home from the gym the other night, my two boys sat in the back seat enjoying soft drinks.  Apparently, my oldest decided to ask himself, what happens if I poke a hole in the bottom of this styrofoam cup and leave the remaining sticky liquid in dad’s car overnight?

"Is that drone weaponized, dad?"

“Is that drone weaponized, dad?”

Kids tend to have an innate curiosity.  As it relates to making holes in half-filled cups, I really don’t understand much of it.

This sense of curiosity is one of the things that drives us to try new experiences with Dads’ Bucket List.  And so it was, that we thought we’d explore a subject many of us want to learn more about – drones!

That’s right, we decided to take our kids for a weekend jaunt to Afghanistan so we could get up close and personal with the latest in military drone technology.

Seriously, we stayed a little closer to home and headed up to the Georgia Model Aviators airstrip in Ball Ground, GA.  It’s this great space carved out of 66 acres of land with an 800 ft. paved runway, all maintained by 260+ hobbyist members.

I heard that with both ears: "Study hard especially in math and science so you can get good jobs some day."

I heard that with both ears: “Study hard especially in math and science so you can get good jobs some day.”

We were greeted by David Roberts, who took the time to give our group a briefing on the history of the GMA and background on the type of drones and other model aircraft that fly there.

He won the dads over early when he talked to our kids about the importance of studying hard in science and math so they could earn good paying jobs (and get off Mom & Dad’s payroll).

That led to dads doing net present value payback calculations on how much exactly those jobs would need to pay.  Those figures led to dads passing around a community bottle of Advil for the headaches we developed.

"Dad, can we get one of these for Christmas!"

“Dad, can we get one of these for Christmas!”

Back on the tarmac, David lined up our crew to see some of these drones in flight.  We watched him take off, fly and land them by looking into a viewer that allows him to see through the drone’s camera as it flies.  Whoever comes up with this technology is one smart, cool dude.

He was nice to let our kids try out his iPad flight app right up until my younger son was curious to see if orange Cheetoh fingers leave a mark.  For the record, they do.

We closed the outing with dads peppering David about costs and specs so we knew exactly how much to budget for our holiday shopping lists.  It appears the holidays are shaping up to be expensive again.

This isn't your dad's '70s Viewmaster.

This isn’t your dad’s Viewmaster from the ’70s.

So, at this point you’re probably asking whatever happened to that styrofoam cup left in my car?  Well, let’s just say my son got to practice his janitorial techniques before heading to school.

Something tells me it won’t be the last time a test goes awry, but I hope he learned from it.

I hope he also learned something from our outing such as how science and technology get put into everyday applications like getting an aircraft to fly.

"Will Cheetohs leave a streak?"

“Will Cheetohs leave a streak?”

Who knows, maybe it’ll spark his interest and even lead to a job that gets him off the family payroll one day.  Or better yet, maybe it just leads to a new hobby.  Something he can enjoy with his dad.  For many years to come.

Go. See. Be. Do.

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“I’ll Teach that Bully a Lesson!”

Like all parents, I do my best to impart the occasional words of wisdom to my boys.  They’re things I like to think of as life lessons.

Our crew standing tall after it all

Our crew standing tall after it all

Based on the eye rolls and blank stares back, I get the sense my words are transcribed in their minds to “oh great, here goes the Old Man. Time to power down in 3, 2, 1.”

Soooo…I go on anyways.

Like a recent one where I talked about McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc, and what he meant when he said “When you’re green, you grow. When you’re ripe, you rot.”

For the record, that “life lesson’s” response got crickets and then Bo’s retort, “Well, I’m not broccoli”.

Yet another, I come back to from time to time is about sticking up for yourself. I’m not talking about seeking conflict, but there may be times when it’s unavoidable.  Like say, if you get bullied.

The Red Headed Tornado

The Red Headed Tornado

Well, the latest outing of the Dads’ Bucket List crew was indirectly aimed at giving them potential tools when standing up to a bully. That’s right, we took our budding Mike Tysons into the gym for some training in the sweet science – Boxing!

Upon arrival, each of us extended our hands to get ’em wrapped.  While this was happening, there was time for banter and doling out of nicknames for our young pugilists.

We had Charlie “Knuckles”, “Bam Bam” Blake,  and “TNT” Tyler.  But hands down 6-year-old Lily’s “Red Headed Tornado” won the day.

From there it was fitting on gloves, learning how to protect our melons and mastering our footwork like Sugar Ray.  That was the science part of the lesson.

Learning the Sweet Science

Learning the Sweet Science

The sweet part happened when we were taught how to punch. We got the jabs and the crosses down and started working combinations on the bags that left everybody breathless.

We closed it out by stepping into the ring where dads put on focus mitts so our kids could work their crisp new combos.  Even when they missed, our coaches encouraged them to keep firing away.  By the end, although exhausted there were smiles and high fives all around.

Afterwards we retreated to a park so we could get hydrated with our favorite cold beverages and rehash the experience. Those moments to catch up while the kids are playing are some of my favorite parts of these outings.

"My dad says I'm broccoli"

“My dad says I’m broccoli”

It’s when we get to kick around sports topics, hear what’s going on in everyone’s lives and have some laughs.  Like when one dad said, “Bo tells me you want him to grow up to be broccoli”.

So, I have to admit, I may have missed a little on that lesson.

But guess what? I’m gonna keep on firing away with them anyways.

Go. See. Be. Do.

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“Who Ate My Twinkie?”

"Who brought the food?"

“Who brought the food?”

It’s probably a generational thing my kids wouldn’t get, but Gilligan’s Island was classic after-school TV for me.

I liked that in spite of their situation the castaways carved out a pretty good life for themselves.  I mean the Professor was able to invent a washing machine and even jet pack fuel at one point.

Making the most out of what you have was part of the theme of the latest outing of the Dads’ Bucket List crew.  We endeavored to take our young charges out for a little boating or as I referred to it, our “3 hour cruise”.  We’d follow that with some time in the wilderness. You know, what some people refer to as…camping.

Similar to the TV show, within an hour of departure it became clear we were under-provisioned and slightly unprepared. At our first pit stop for gas, Special K looks at me and says, “what are we going to eat?”.

"Dinner!"

“Dinner!”

When I told him I packed for my kids, he added, “what about everybody else?”. At that point, we convened everybody and had a lesson about what it means to share. As in, now you’re only going to get about 1/4 of your recommended daily calories.

But hey, this provisioning miscommunication is part of what makes Dads’ Bucket List so great. We figure out ways to adapt and overcome.

This couldn’t have been demonstrated any clearer than when upon arrival our kids immediately started pulling crawdads out of the nearby stream and dubbed them “dinner”.

Shortly after that, we learned about another obstacle or obstacles we’d have to overcome.

Next door neighbor

Next door neighbor

Three. Hungry. Black Bears!

That’s right, what says, or rather screams camping than multiple neighboring campsites reporting bear sightings the night before? One account included a bear climbing on a car roof in search of food.

On the plus side, these stories eliminated push-back from our troops about going to bed. “Dad, do bears eat people?”

“Only ones named Bo that don’t stop talking.”

Morning came early and luckily all members were accounted for.  Just like the TV castaways, we too had survived.

Our little Gilligan castaway

Our little Gilligan castaway

The ride home provided plenty of time for the troops to put together a list of what we should bring next time. I guess the fact they want there to be “a next time” means we didn’t entirely miss the mark.

Now, if only I could figure out how to get that bear off the roof of my car before we get home…

Go. See. Be. Do.

What’s up next? Another new experience!

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“Huh? There’s an APP for that?”

Some of my greatest frustrations are borne out of things not working when they should.

Take for example a couple weeks ago when my refrigerator decided it wanted to store perishable food at room temperature. Curdled milk and limp lettuce may be delicacies somewhere, but not in our house.

Our posse ready to hit the trail

Our posse ready to hit the trail

And so it was that I was presented with a problem and quite possibly an undesired project.

I got to thinking about this idea of a project on our latest outing of the Dads’ Bucket List when we took our troops to hike on the Appalachian Trail for the first time.

Our posse met up at my house on a Chamber of Commerce blue sky Saturday morning. We filled our backpacks full of supplies, told the kids to wear comfortable shoes and then with straight faces told our wives we’d see them some time around mid-November “if things went as planned”.

A dismissive nod and “see you this afternoon” let us know they weren’t biting.

Shoe trees were in full bloom in north Georgia

Shoe trees were in full bloom in north Georgia

At any rate, we were off for some good bonding time while hiking on the App Trail. We headed to Neel Gap in Blairsville, GA where we hiked in on a trailhead about 30 miles north of the Southern Terminus (and about 2,154 miles south of the trail’s Northern Terminus in Maine).

Our kids were jumping out of the cars ready to hit the trail running, but first we had to cover the ground rules.

  1. Feeding wild animals is okay but there’s no room in the car to bring them home.
  2. If you get lost and separated from the group just continue to wander aimlessly until you hear banjos.
  3. If we come across any of those people playing banjos, don’t let dad join their jam session
  4. Don’t tell mom we fed you cookies for breakfast or about any of these other rules.
"There's no whining in hiking"

“There’s no whining in hiking”

We hiked out to multiple checkpoints manned by one of our dads.  At each one the kids earned a puzzle piece, which helped them focus on a task and more importantly muted the “how much longer?” whining. In the end, they were able to walk away with a completed puzzle and a memento from their first time on the trail.

Afterwards we had a picnic lunch and got to catch up with each other and rehash observations from the outing including the fact that none of us wanted to switch careers with the snake wrangling Park Ranger who passed us on the way down.

Sitting there, I reflected how a route as expansive as the Appalachian Trail comes to fruition. Turns out it was an idea by a forester named Benton MacKaye. An idea that turned into a successful project.

And since we’re back on the subject of projects, you may wonder what became of my broken refrigerator. Well, rather than call a repairman or buy I new one, I decided to tackle the project. I’ll add it was no small task for a guy that wasn’t familiar with things like dispenser solenoids and defrost heater assemblies.

Off in search of those banjo sounds

Off in search of those banjo sounds

In the end, I fixed it and was reminded that sometimes we’re capable of doing things we didn’t know we could.  There may also be a lesson from my project that ties back to this latest outing.

Whether it’s the notion that I can fix a refrigerator or a forester’s concept to have a trail extending from Maine to Georgia, everything starts with an idea.

As we drove home, I wondered what ideas are incubating in our kids’ minds.

And more interestingly, where will those ideas lead them?

Go. See. Be. Do.

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“My $.02, for What It’s Worth”

I’m going to let you in on a little secret of mine. I still read magazines and newspapers. That’s right, the ones made out of paper that come to my physical mailbox.

I dogear pages to let me know where I’ve left off. I still rip out pages and mail articles of interest to friends from time to time.

The DBL crew rarin' and ready to take on the high seas

The DBL crew rarin’ and ready to take on the high seas

One of my favorite magazines is Men’s Journal. I tend to start with the celebrity interview that’s on the last page of the issue. There’s always a question about the “best advice you’ve ever received” and the responses cover a lot of ground.

For example, there’s similar advice from Stan Lee, “the greatest are the humblest” and Mike Tyson, “we should try our best to be humble in life.”

John Mellencamp said his grandpa told him If you’re going to hit a cocksucker, kill ‘em.” Whoa!

Richard Linklater offered, “I’m going to do the opposite of what everyone tells me. We define ourselves by what we don’t do as much as what we do.”  

Nick Nolte’s was simple, “just surrender”.

Tony Hawk’s “don’t listen to the haters” nails it. Easier said than done, but most of these fall into that classification.

Maybe the one that hit home with me the most was Carl Hiaasen’s “Do something you love and do it the best you can, no matter what.” 

"Who needs your advice anyways, Dad?"

“Who needs your advice anyways, Dad?”

Giving advice can be tricky, but one thing I always say to my boys is to “just give your best effort and I’ll take my chances on the result.” I believe it’s all I can ask and that it will serve them well in life.

I’m not sure our summer lineup of Dads’ Bucket List activities fit with the notion of giving our best effort. You see, we doubled up on things we did last year like the parade and the pear tree harvest and even our latest outing of tubing down the Chattahoochee River in Helen, GA.

The outing went great except for the fact that George Markley heard there would be talent scouts out there so he thought it best to take his shirt off for our river excursion. “Awkward”, as my son Blake would say.

We decided to increase the degree of difficulty of staying in your tube by mixing in some pirate play and even a little football tossing. In the end, the float down the river yielded no injuries, no tears and thankfully no drama.

We wrapped it up with a picnic spread and a trip to the ice cream parlor before heading back home.  On the ride back, I got to thinking about my advice on giving your best effort and whether or not I was following it.

Doing the same activities as last year probably doesn’t meet the criteria so I’ll endeavor to do better on that front.

"Please take my advice and wipe off your face"

“Please take my advice and wipe off your face”

And as it relates to putting on our second “Checklist Challenge” this October, you can bet that those who attend will find many new obstacles and challenges.  You can also expect to receive my humblest, best effort to put on an event experience dads and kids will enjoy and remember.

I hope that as I walk around to observe all the activities and interactions that I’ll hear lots of good, fatherly advice.

Perhaps I’ll even hear one dad say, “Just give your best effort and I’ll take my chances on the result.”

Go. See. Be. Do.

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