“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?”.



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 knew following dad's plan would lead to success?

Who knew following dad’s plan would lead to success?

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.

Visit our site at:  http://www.dadsbucketlist.com
or “Like” us on Facebook at:  Facebook.com/DadsBucketList
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“Remember to Smile When You Eat Them”

I’ve been following the World Cup pretty closely over the last month.  Aside from the diving, faking injury and hearing Americans who use Euro vernacular when discussing the game, it’s been a lot of fun to watch.

The Dads’ Bucket List crew was ready to hit the parade trail

The Dads’ Bucket List crew was ready to hit the parade trail

The thing I like the most is how it connects communities. I enjoy seeing the TV images of public gatherings around the world to view the games. The energy of these crowds is awesome to watch.

Although we didn’t stage a global soccer tournament, Dads’ Bucket List has been busy this summer connecting with our community in a couple of unique ways.

First up was our decision to reprise our role in the Dunwoody 4th of July parade.  We knew it would be a great opportunity to begin to get the word out about our October “Checklist Challenge” event.

As far as the float, we really wanted to go with a theme from the movie Old School, but somehow “streaking through the quad” didn’t seem to fit the wholesome theme of a community parade.

A couple little leaders of our merry band

A couple little leaders of our merry band

We settled on a “Bucket List” approach and then pumped some tunes that covered parts of the last 4 decades.  Based on the crowd’s cheers and their dance moves along with the perma-smiles on our kids’ faces, I think we struck the right chords.

The weekend following the parade, we were able to get another posse together to harvest pears from a tree and donate them to a hunger mission where some folks in need were lined up to receive their monthly food supplies.

Another good haul of pears (and no OSHA violations to report)

Another good haul of pears (and no OSHA violations to report)

In order to harvest the pears, we had one dad climb the tree to shake the branches while other dads and kids (in protective helmets) stood below with a tarp to catch and sort the fallen projectiles.

When we took them to the hunger mission, our kids wanted to stick around to hand them out.  Each person that came through the line received a bag of pears from our kids along with a friendly suggestion to “remember to smile when you eat them”.

Helping others - a good start to a Saturday!

Helping others – a good start to a Saturday!

I’m guessing that one or two of the folks heeded their advice.

So far, our activities haven’t been able to have quite the reach of an event like the World Cup.  But in our small way, they furthered the Dads’ Bucket List mission to deliver unique shared experiences…one community at a time.

Go. See. Be. Do.

Visit our site at:  http://www.dadsbucketlist.com
or “Like” us on Facebook at:  Facebook.com/DadsBucketList
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“Well, Of Course I Could Do That!”

Here’s a video tease about our next Atlanta event:

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“Eureka! I’ve Cracked the Kid’s Code!”

We put a wrap on another school year last week and (big exhale) despite some cracks in their academic armor all indications are that my boys will matriculate to 1st and 3rd grades.

The end of the year brought some class celebrations and I was able to attend one for Blake’s 2nd Grade class.  His teacher, Mrs. Mach, read a short essay that each child wrote about what they want to be when they grow up.

Blake the Hockey Player

Blake the Hockey Player

There were a couple who will be President (no doubt), some who will be singers, athletes, fashion icons and even a dentist (for the record, that one seemed the most realistic).

Blake’s story was about how he hopes to be a professional hockey player.  He wrote about playing for Team USA and also hoisting the Stanley Cup one day.

I got choked up a little where he wrote that he likes hockey because his dad inspires him to play.  He talked about how he enjoys when I coach his team (even though I get mad at him sometimes).  That part caused me to squirm because admittedly, he’s right.

There was something about his essay that really struck me though.  He doesn’t love hockey.  In fact, I’m not really sure he likes it any more than the other sports he plays.  Although I wish I was wrong, I know I’m right.

You see, when he’s away from the rink he’s not always playing in the driveway.  In fact, it’s pretty rare that he puts the goals I made to use.  When it’s nasty outside, he’s not using the area I cleared out in our storage room to perfect his shot.  He’s not searching the Internet for the latest gear or watching highlights of the sport’s biggest stars.

He’s just not that into it.  And guess what?  I’m totally okay with it.

I think his writing project was what’s referred to as a ‘dog whistle’.  That’s to say it was coded language meant for me.  What I heard was, “Dad, being around you helps shape the grown-up that I’ll become.”

Helping to Shape the Grown-Up He Will Become

Helping to Shape the Grown-Up He Will Become

It said this by saying, “my dad loves hockey and when I play hockey I get to develop my physical abilities. I also learn other life skills like how to be a valued member of a team.  I get to hang out with him and receive his praise (and occasionally his ire).  It’s a win-win for us.”

I know the days of wanting to hang out with me won’t last, but I’ll take them while I can get them.

Kids are pretty smart about how they communicate messages to us.  Sometimes they’re direct. Other times, as with Blake’s essay, they’re more subtle, like a dog whistle.  I’m going to try to keep my eyes and ears more attuned to receiving and decoding these covert messages.  I hope you will too.

Go. See. Be. Do.

Keep up with us by visiting http://www.dadsbucketlist.com


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“Mom, Can We Play ‘The Hunger Games’?”

My kids are pretty typical 6 and 8-year-old boys.  They’re growing and active although they like to watch tv and play more video games than their Old Man would prefer. My wife and I have to lay the hammer down every now and then and tell them to “go outside and find something to do” like I want to remember “we used to do when we were kids”.

Let "The Hunger Games" Begin

Let “The Hunger Games” Begin

I’ve got a feeling that if we went to the video replay that we’d find I didn’t spend nearly as much time outside in my youth as I claim.  But whoever said fathers should let facts get in the way of sound advice?

In the spirit of finding something to do, our local Dads’ Bucket List crew decided to break out from a rainy, drizzly Sunday to take part in what we billed as “Weapons & War Games”.  Now before you freak out about that outing title, just know we didn’t re-enact The Hunger Games.  That’s actually planned for next month.

Our experience entailed introducing the kids to Capture the Flag in a local park with over 40 acres of space to roam.  We would also be firing some tomatoes with our hand-built trebuchet.  There’s just something about having a “toy” you built that fires tomatoes an estimated 600 feet that’s hard to put into words (so I’ll let the video speak for itself).

The kids kept themselves busy playing multiple games of Capture the Flag.  One side was winning more than their fair share and started singing “We Are the Champions” only to have one of our little charges who was on the losing side sing back his rendition of  “You Are the Cheating Champions”.

It’s good to know that playground banter still hasn’t changed.  And once a few of the dads got into the mix of the game the back and forth really picked up.

Men and Their Treb Toy

Men and Their Treb Toy

The outing ended with a lot of muddy clothes, but no injuries (except to the tomatoes).

It’s been a while since our last blog entry, and that may be a reminder that I’m being less productive curating Dads’ Bucket List than I should be at times.  It’s also a reminder to look in the mirror first when assigning labels.

And so Summer is dead ahead, which means lots of opportunities for fun and a reminder for this dad, at least, to disconnect the electronics and re-connect with more real-life unique shared experiences.

Go. See. Be Do.

Come visit us at our website and subscribe to our blog: http://dadsbucketlist.com/mom-can-we-play-the-hunger-games/


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