Daddy on The Fly

The 11th Commandment: Balance Thy Budget

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 10/15/12 12:45 PM
CATEGORIES: Daddy on The Fly


Our country’s greatest threat is not Iran or China, it is the disease of spending beyond our means.”


Dear Children,

 There is good reason I make you save fifty percent of every dollar you bring in.   I want you to learn an important life lesson and since we’re all creatures of habit, I figure this is the best way to get you to develop this habit now.  I know it works.  I grew up under a similar mandate which helped foster a self discipline and appreciation for the value of saving money and the reward of this lesson has been great!

 Save before you spend; Spend only what you can afford; Live behind your means.

 Unfortunately, I think it’s a difficult lesson for children to grasp.  Instilling counter cultural values in kids is always a challenge, and nothing seems more “against the flow” than teaching children to control spending.  After all, save before you spend; Spend only what you can afford; Live behind your means are virtues currently absent in our own government. 

 For adults, like me, who were taught by their parents that hard work always pays off, and to keep spending in check so as never to have to borrow money, it is inconceivable how our government is digging a financial hole all of the way to China—literally.  You see overspending is a disease.  Whether it’s a person with a credit card and no self-control, or a government willing to indebt itself to a communist country, spending more than what’s coming in is a horrendous pattern in need of immediate reversal. 

 The good news is reversing the course of a spending disease is not very difficult.

 Millions of families around our country, set their spending level below their income level.  Your mom and I’ve done this from the very beginning.   That’s why Drew’s earliest years were spent in a $350 a month apartment with second hand clothes, and limited activities.  It wasn’t the most glamorous beginning, but by living with self-discipline early, we eventually were able to slowly improve our life style.  There were sacrifices involved but our priorities were well placed. 

 We were planning for the future by working hard, saving, and controlling our spending. 

 There are so very few public examples of financial self discipline.  After all, one would think it would be reasonable to expect our government to balance its budget but we have been living in a spend-happy country for many years and administrations now. 

 And that makes me worry even more.  If the spending disease is allowed to advance the consequences will be dire.  Valuable government services (i.e. defense, Medicare, social security, Medicaid, etc.) are in the path of the disease, and will ultimately suffer greatly if  this disease is not treated.  The private sector will be damaged, as well. 

 Everyone hurts when a budget is not balanced.  How would we be able to support those less fortunate if we didn’t spend less than we earn?  The same holds true for the government.  The government is but years away from having to begin to pull the support for those in society who truly need help. 

 So I’m imploring you and everyone else who is fiscally responsible to send an emphatic message to the powers that be.  We have a lot hanging in the balance and it’s my hope we look back at this moment in history as one in which we collectively fix this problem for future generations.   

 Balance thy budget.  It’s the most ethical way to live! 


Your Father

One Eye on The Horizon and The Other on Now!

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 09/21/12 2:17 PM
CATEGORIES: Daddy on The Fly

Today we are preparing for our second family birthday celebration in forty days. On August  11th Reagan and Isabella turned one and tomorrow Drew turns eighteen.  The contrast between their two parties is distinct with the twins’ being a huge parent celebration about “ surviving the first year” and Saturday being a “Holy sh*t!  Didn’t we just celebrate your first birthday, Drew?” added to, “you better not cancel out my vote in November”.  Actually, Reagan and Isabella’s first year seemed like five, while Drew’s eighteen have flown by in a blink.  Regardless, they are both celebrations on my parenting journey and as happy as I am, I’m taking pause today to issue my first of one hundred bits of advice. 


Isabella, 8-11-12



Reagan 8/11/12


Drew, age one, 9/22/95


Now is the time to enjoy.


Is there a greater blessing than right now? 


I know the fact that this statement is coming from  me—the same man who began saving for his kids’ college before they were conceived—is shocking.  But this is a do as I say, not as I’ve done kind of message.  I admit to having thought so much about the future that, at times, the present was merely a conduit to where I wanted to go.


I’m changing my ways.


Now, make no mistake.  I’m not totally dismissing the importance of being ready—planning for your futures is important.  But I also understand the importance of embracing the now and enjoying every second of the day.   Not only is happiness always around the bend, happiness is always in the moment!


Drew, age one, 9/22/95



What does embracing ‘now’ look like for me?


I try to come out firing on all cylinders in the morning.  As I enter the darkness of the twins’ bedroom, I sing a “good morning” song.  I want to make sure they are smiling at their first sight of daylight—even if it’s before daylight!  For Mary Kate, it means trying to match her over-the-top positive energy as she eagerly awaits even the most mundane activities like going to school, going to the grocery story, or going to get gas.   For Ryan and Drew, the moments I sit around the kitchen table with them each evening, recounting the day or debating a topic, have become precious.   I prefer they not melt away when they head to their rooms for studies, and me to my evenings. In-between the morning and evening, it means putting everything into serving my clients, the kids I coach, and the organizations I support.   


I’ve learned it’s the only way to live.


Drew, age ten, 9/22/04



Drew’s birthday party, 2005!


There was a time when I used to think when a person died they were done.   Now I understand that most people die while they are doing.  I hope and pray there will be a tomorrow but I know the only absolute guarantee in life is that some day tomorrow will not arrive. 


So what do I do with this understanding?


I believe I should live life with one eye on the horizon and other on the next step.


Drew, age 15, 2009 (two days before Logan was born!)


There are very few parents who have the blessing of celebrating a first and eighteenth birthdays of their children within the space of a month.   On Saturday evening our home will be alive with over thirty teenagers for a birthday celebration that I, for one, will embrace as it happens, knowing Sunday will probably come, but it’s never guaranteed.


Happy Birthday, Drew.  I can’t believe you are eighteen.  I’m so happy with the man you’ve become!  Your mom and I are waiting with baited breath to see where your life takes you.  I know it’s going to be magical! 


Drew with Anne Hathaway…couldn’t resist including it!


A Letter Regarding My Mortality: Dear Kids…

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 08/16/12 2:25 PM
CATEGORIES: Daddy on The Fly

“Children may not listen to what you say, but they will read what you write and watch what you do.”

Dear Kids,

I have a very difficult time expressing my feelings in conversation and in many respects I guess this is the definition of a man. That’s why I make a point to tell you I love you each day and those awkwardly unpleasant (for you) attempts to hug you. Often I find it easier to express my feelings through writing.   Perhaps it’s because I can’t see the eye rolling or won’t know the TV volume’s been turned up when I write. Or maybe it’s because sometimes it’s easier for teenagers to read thoughts from their parents.  Listening, for kids, can be such a dreaded chore.

So I’m writing you a letter. 

In fact, I’m going to write a series of letters inspired by a medical diagnosis that has altered my perspective.  I know, I know—news flash—I’m not going to live forever.  This may come as a surprise to you but nobody was more shocked to learn of my mortality than myself.  I used to think I’d live forever.  It’s funny how a little medical diagnosis can force one to grapple with his time. 

As you know after some tests on my heart, at the Cleveland Clinic, it turns out there is a glitch with my aorta.  The doctors are calling it an aortic aneurysm, a condition that has to be monitored quite closely.  It’s a complicated diagnosis because the condition has the potential to cause sudden death, but the remedy is risky so the recommendation right now is to wait and monitor it over time.  If the aneurysm grows to a predetermined size, I’ll undergo an aortic replacement, which I here isn’t a run in the park.  So right now, I’m relying on the expertise of the finest cardiologists in the world and, of course, as with everything, my fate is ultimately in the hands of God. 

Hopefully my number doesn’t come up and these letters will help our relationship by providing you some insights on topics you prefer not to discuss in person.  In the event my number does come up—and after you make sure I look good in the casket and monitor mom to make sure she is appropriately saddened by my departure—reference these letters for advice and to learn more about my dreams for you—they are countless.  

Love,  Dad

Go Ahead…Drug Test My Kids!

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 05/30/12 2:39 PM
CATEGORIES: Daddy on The Fly

My sons’ high school just announced that they will be implementing mandatory random drug testing for the student body and faculty members for the upcoming school year.  The test will be by hair sample and will detect drug use over a multiple month period.

There is no fence sitting when a policy like this lands on your plate.  Either you are for it or against it. 

I am for it and you may be surprised to learn why.

 I believe drug testing is the ultimate “out” for our teenagers.  I’m positive my children will, some day during their high school years, be in a social situation where drugs are introduced.  Based on this prediction, I would like to arm my children with as many reasons to say “no” as possible.  With drug testing, a new arrow has been added to their quiver of reasons to decline.  “I can’t do it.  My school tests and I can be picked at any time” is the ultimate out and is nearly unobjectionable.  The way I see it, drug testing is just another life raft to throw our children who are navigating the stormy seas of teenage living.

 There is no upside to drug use and it is better to catch it early.  Most parents I speak with prefer to lie to themselves about what their children are exposed to.  A positive test will cause these parents to face reality.  A positive test, according to this policy, is not fatal.  Intead it’s an opportunity to intervene before a bad habit becomes a dangerous addiction.

This drug testing will equip parents with valuable knowledge.  Instead of lying awake in the middle of the night wondering, I’ll have a solid answer about what my sons are doing while away from me.  I do trust my kids, but I’m happy to receive verification of their choices via these tests.

I hope the bold move by my sons’ school will encourage other schools, public and private, to implement a similar policy.  Why not arm all of our kids with this weapon of resistance?  When not force all parents to face the reality of their child’s drug use for the betterment of their children’s futures? 

 So, I say…bring it on.  Please drug test my kids.  Regardless of the results, I’ll do my job as a parent and deal with the consequences in a manner that will best benefit my children. 

To read more about the drug testing policy in place at St. John Jesuit high school click here!

Our House…A Baby Obstacle Course

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 05/8/12 3:23 PM
CATEGORIES: Daddy on The Fly

I know I haven’t been around much lately.  Funny how my disappearance coincides with the births of our twin daughters.  Try to type with two bottles in your hands. Well, after my eight month hiatus, I’m coming up for air to share some observations.   

 Mary Kate, our four year old daughter and I play a game we call “run around”.   As the name suggests, in this game we run around chasing each other.  The game started out simply enough, but over the past nine months the skills required to play have been upped a notch.  Let me give you a visual of what playing “run around” looked like nine months ago versus what it looks like now.

 Nine months Ago – Mary Kate takes off from our family room, through the kitchen and down the hallway.  I’m chasing her.  She turns left, avoids the dining room table, heads back into the kitchen, around the island and returns to the family room. After going around the couches, we make it back to where we started.  A near sprint with a total of 15 seconds elapsing. All you could hear was our laughing and yelling “run around, run around.”

Last Night – I take off from the family room with Mary Kate chasing me.  Immediately the jumperoo, which is noise sensitive, goes off sounding like a carnival of sorts.  After first five steps, I cut to my left, avoiding not one but two swings. As we enter the kitchen there are two excersaucer obstacles to avoid with a hard pivot to the right.  As we pass, Reagan and Isabella shriek with excitement and start hitting buttons which causes circus-like music to begin playing and neon lights to start blinking.  It looks like the lights in a Vegas casino.  As we head down the hallway, each step brings squeaky noises from stuffed animals being trampled. We hang a left into the former dining room, which is now the “overflow baby inventory” room, and are forced down on all fours to navigate tumultuous terrain. We’re back on our feet in the kitchen and after avoiding the island we hurdle two high chairs trying to avoid the applesauce residue that could cause us to slip.  . Returning to the jumperoos in the family room, we are exhausted and fall back into a rocking chair, only to set off a siren symphony with our first rock back, as a button is pushed on a toy under the chair. Time elapsed: 62 seconds.

 I would not trade it for the world.