Athletic Age.


The Evil Spawn is 10.  I am not.

This has never been more apparent to me than when my face slammed into the earth as we were learning to snowboard (you may have heard my girl-like screams and crying earlier this morning).

I graduated from high school over 25 years ago.

I have t-shirts from the late 1980’s.

I remember when David Lee Roth had good hair (side note… Van Halen is getting back together… are you listening Guns N’ Roses?).

I know who was President before Ronald Reagan.

I shouldn’t be learning to snowboard.

I shouldn’t be snowboarding even if I knew how.

Which I don’t.

Which was very apparent to the high school kid who was kind enough to give us lessons.

He was very polite.  He even called me “Sir”.

And he helped me up the first time I fell.

Which was when I was trying to strap my boots into the fiberglass piece of death I was supposed to slide down the mountain on.

He also helped me the second time I fell.

After that his interest in my safety seemed to wane.

As I add up my injuries, I seem to have a slight concussion, a bruised tailbone, and some sort of thigh injury that will no doubt get worse as the swelling goes down and the Advil wears off.

Through the grace of God, my fingers seem to be okay which allows me to share this horrific and humiliating experience with blog readers around the globe.

On my last trip on the ski lift, I not only feared for the safety of the people in front of me, but also the 5-year old girl behind me who had no idea she was about to crash into an old man laying face down in the snow in the next 45 seconds.

During the few seconds of reflection I had before doing a face first plant into a snow bank, it occurred to me that my real age isn’t 44 (I also want to take a second to apologize to Ashleigh, the kindergartner I traumatized.  I’m almost certain she has stopped crying by now).

I have no idea what it really is, but I now have a better understanding of my athletic age.

I’m not 16 anymore.  Or 26.  Or even 36.

I’m at least 44.  Probably older. 

Much older.

This may not seem that old, but you don’t see many 44 year olds in the Olympics do you?

I enjoyed snowboarding, although I’m not sure why they just don’t call it falling.

I have come to realize, I can no longer choose my athletic endeavors based on fun, excitement, or conquering new challenges.

I first have to consider rehabilitation time and if my health insurance deductible covers any possible disfigurement.

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Why Are You Reading This Blog During Christmas Break?


Get a life people.

Most of you probably have a few days off, and you shouldn’t be wasting your precious time on this drivel.

We all spend way too much time mindlessly staring at our computers and looking at the same websites over and over.

Trust me, what was on 2 minutes ago is still there (I just checked).

What’s sad is this blog has an extremely large amount of visitors every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

How pathetic it that?

I feel somewhat responsible for the dumbing down of America.

So, if you are reading this blog, I have some suggestions.


1.  If you are enjoy reading a blog about school administration (boring), save it for when you’re back at work and need to waste time.

2.  Read an iPad (books are so yesterday).

3.  Talk to your family.  Or if you don’t care for your family, talk to someone else’s.

4.  Sleep (from the picture you can see Buddy the Dog has taken my advice on this one).

5.  Go to the movies.  Tom Cruise needs the money and we all need $12 nachos.

6.  Take a walk because in about one week we will all come to the conclusion we’re fat (in retrospect, lay off the nachos and invest the $12).

7.  Write your own blog (this would take some of the pressure off me and also give me something to read at work).

8.  Pick up trash (this just seems like the right thing to do).

9.  Clean out the junk drawer you know we all have.  As an added bonus, you will no doubt find the 47 batteries you are about to need on Christmas morning.  Plus, this will save you a trip to the gas station in your pajamas.

10.  Go shopping and get your spouse a very special Christmas gift.  They will not only love it, but will owe you for all of 2012 (I’m personally counting on this one).


Merry Christmas.  If you need me I will chasing the Evil Spawn down the side of a mountain (skiing).

I look forward to starting the new year on crutches.

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Skiing. Esquí. 滑雪.

The Evil Spawn likes a lot of things.

Sleep.  Books.  Video games.  Basketball.  Chocolate.  Not doing chores in a prompt and timely fashion.

And she likes to ski (as you can see from the video).

If you have been paying attention you know she’s nine years old (going on 35). 

She’s been skiing since she was five (we question our parental judgment for allowing her to slide down the side of a mountain at 107 miles an hour before she completed kindergarten).

Since she started skiing so young, it came quite easily to her.

I didn’t start trying to injure myself on the slopes until I was 37 (which sounds old… but seems quite youthful to me 6 years later).

Even though I’m stronger and more athletic (my opinion, not hers), she’s a better skier.

And even worse, you can watch her and tell she has a lot of room to improve.

In the next few years, she will only get better.

I, on the other hand, will only get older.

My skiing skills have probably peaked (get it, peaked… mountains… never mind).

How is this possible?

How can someone younger and weaker be so much better?

I was thinking about this as I laid in the snow after smacking my face on the side of the half pipe.

Young people catch on to new skills quicker than old people (see:  technology).


At least it seemed like genius, as I tried to pick up my pride after my latest crash.

Once my head cleared (days later), this got me thinking about how we teach foreign language in school (don’t try to figure out how my mind jumps from one thing to the next).

Why don’t we teach 1st graders a second language while they are young?

And eager.

And unafraid.

Why do we wait until they are older and their reflexes aren’t as sharp?

Sorry, I don’t know if I’m talking about learning a second language or skiing.

I may still be in a fog.

Sadly, I used her Flip Cam to make the video.  She had to show me how to turn it on (and this was pre-head injury).

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Skiing Part III: Everytime I Drive by Dairy Queen, I Flinch.

This is My Normal Order at Dairy Queen.  And a Small Diet Coke.Skiing is over for the winter. And possibly forever.

I have had enough. Actually, that is a lie. I love it. My body has had enough.

This includes most of the important parts such as; my back, my knees, my hips, and whatever else hits the ground when the rest of me goes airborne (actually, the flying through the air isn’t that bad, but I do dread the landings).

Crashing isn’t fun. Thankfully, the blows to the head have pretty much ruined my short term memory.

Thankfully, the blows to the head have pretty much ruined my short term memory (did I just say that, I can’t remember).

The trip got off to a shaky start and then went downhill from there (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

The in-laws having luggage troubles was the least of our problems.

You ask, what could possibly be worse than lost luggage? Well lots of things including; world hunger, the polar ice caps melting, too many TV shows about tattoos, but let’s focus on my troubles.

Halfway through our trip we ended up in a blizzard. And not the kind from Dairy Queen that is never as thick as advertised (they should have a money back guarantee).

Let’s be honest, I am not a young administrator anymore, so I have seen a few things over the course of my career. In theory, being out in a blizzard should be a piece of cake compared to a Monday morning at school (only thing worse… a full-moon Monday).

The question is why was I outside during a blizzard?

I wish I had a good answer. I wish I had any answer.

The ice storm that preceded the blizzard should have been a subtle hint to stay off the slopes.

Actually, my first clue should have come the night before when the local weatherman said, “Anyone going outside during the blizzard is a total and complete moron”.

This may not be exactly what he said, but it was definitely implied.

I heard his advice, I just didn’t take it (and this was when I still liked weathermen).

Overnight we got 19 inches of ice and another 35 feet of snow (I am guesstimating here, work with me), so naturally we decided to go outside and ski.

By we, I mean me and my father-in-law. Every other intelligent human being within 106 miles made the decision to stay indoors (you may say they were smart, I prefer the term soft).

This group included my wife, unemployed child, and always hungry mother-in-law who all felt that skiing in a blizzard was a bad idea.

My father-in-law who had no luggage, clothes, books to read, swim trunks, underwear, or… you get the point, was more than happy to brave the elements. The man didn’t latch the tailgate… he had nothing to do…let’s not judge… it is time to move on.

So, we headed out into the glorious and beautiful day. By glorious and beautiful, I mean crappy and life endangering.

We headed straight into the mouth of the blizzard, but what could possibly go wrong.

Well, in retrospect a couple of things. One, ski lift seats get slick when covered with ice. This little tid bit of information sure would have come in handy a few seconds before I sat down.

Or tried to sit down. I fell right on my… never mind. At least I didn’t take my daughter (which I would have, but the court order says I can’t).

Two, it is hard to see while skiing in a blizzard. Again, another bit of information I could have used in advance.

I first realized this when I couldn’t see. I mean not at all. As in I couldn’t see my feet or hands. I wish I were kidding.

Going down the hill was like being in a human version of the game Frogger.

Lucky for me I didn’t run anyone over. Of course that would have been difficult because everyone else was inside.

So there you have it. No more skiing. No more dropping my daughter off the lift. No more falling. No more risking life and limb just to slide down a mountain with metal slats tied to me feet. No more taking a chance that I will spend the next 6 weeks in a cast and on crutches.

I am going to stick to what is safe. School. Parent conferences. Mandated testing. IEP meetings. Supervising games.

What could possibly go wrong with these?

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School Administrators Shouldn’t Leave the Office. Ever.

Wal-mart... You Can Never Find One When You Need One.I just spent a month in Wisconsin this past weekend.

The trip started off poorly and then went downhill (skiing reference). We should have gone to the beach, or better yet, just stayed home and I could have worked 18 hour days at school (not really, I am just being dramatic… I hate the beach).

On Friday afternoon, we left on time (3:30 pm for a 5 hour trip). Our punctuality turned out to be one of the highlights of the entire weekend.

My in-laws went with us. Many of you are probably thinking this is where the trip went horribly awry, but you would be sadly mistaken (on occasion the in-laws read this blog and I don’t want to jeopardize my 1/128th of the will, so I will steer clear of insulting them in print).

We drove separately from them and the trip went smoothly for us. Things did not go quite as well for the in-laws.

About an hour into the trip, my unemployed daughter called her grandparents on the cell phone to see how things were going (she is 6, so she prefers texting if you need to get in touch with her). About a minute into the call her grandmother hung up on her.

Everyone loves their grandma, kindergarten teacher, and best friend’s mom, so getting hung up on was a shock to my daughter.

The conversation was so short, we immediately asked what happened.

My daughter said she could barely hear grandma, but she did say something about the tailgate not being latched.

This couldn’t be good.

You see, their luggage was in the back of the truck. And by was, I mean was.

Turns out grandpa didn’t put the tailgate up which resulted in their luggage flying out along the side of the road. This is what we call “bad news”.

On a positive note, they recognized this little fun fact about the luggage not being secure. Unfortunately, they realized it about 50 miles too late. This is what we call “more bad news”.

If you see a suitcase in a ditch, please send me an email (or text my work-avoiding spawn).

If you are married, you know that at this point they had only two choices.

One, a quickie divorce, preferably in Mexico where it is warmer and the matrimony laws are a little looser. Or two, find a Wal-mart ASAP to replace everything in their luggage (if you live in the 1% of the country that doesn’t have Wal-marts, I pity you and please substitute your gigantic retail store here).

As we continued on our drive, we passed a minimum of 27 Wal-marts, 14 K-marts, 11 Wal-greens, and 7 malls.

The in-laws, traveling the very same road, noticed exactly zero stores of any kind.

That’s right; they traveled 300 miles on a major interstate through roughly a bazillion towns and cities and didn’t notice any of these stores which were all located within 200 feet of the highway (I could also mention that these stores had big neon signs on top of them, but I don’t want to rub salt in their wounds… see inheritance comment earlier).

This led me to believe that they may be legally blind, or one of them desperately wants to go to Mexico.

This lack of vision concerns me because we allow them to babysit. If they can’t locate a Wal-mart, would they notice if my daughter sticks her head into the microwave and hits defrost?

Agh…who am I kidding, cheap babysitters are worth the risk (if this kid breaks, we can always go buy another one).

The in-laws did finally arrive at the ski resort after getting lost in the mountains for a couple of hours (a little travel tip… if you own a GPS, make sure you take it with you when you travel… that is what they are for).

There was some good news. After they arrived, it didn’t take long for them to unpack. They certainly didn’t have to bother the baggage handler.

Actually, my wife told me this because by 1:30 in the morning I was fast asleep.

So the trip was off to a rousing start. I haven’t even got to the part where we all got caught in the blizzard.

I really should have just stayed in the safety of the office.

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Skiing Part II: Am I the Only Parent to Drop Their Kid Off a Ski Lift?

Ski Lifts are Both... Pretty and Scary.It is time to go skiing again. Unfortunately that is only part of the story.

Since the last time we skied, it has been casually mentioned around my house that my parenting skills need to be reviewed.

We visited Wisconsin shortly after the holidays and I wrote Skiing Part I. Days turned into weeks and I never got around to writing Part II. I could say it was because I was so busy, but that wouldn’t be the whole truth.

It was primarily because I was laying low. And I got a little distracted.

Distracted by the “incident”.

While I wasn’t told directly to keep my mouth shut, it was implied. I got the definite feeling that I should remain quiet about what happened (and possibly read a book or 12 on parenting).

Some people may consider the “incident” a big deal, but I think it was all blown out of proportion.

In life, things often happen that our beyond our control. Certain situations occur for which we can’t possibly prepare.

Life is complicated and never as simple as we would like.

I am here to make the case that I did nothing wrong.

I deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Before you judge me, please hear me out.

I think the following question needs to be asked; who among us hasn’t dropped their only child off a ski lift?


I am the only one. Really? Are you sure?

Well, this is awkward.

Who knew.

Okay, maybe you do need to judge me. This isn’t going as well as I had hoped.

In my defense, I didn’t mean to drop her off the moving ski lift that was at the most 30 feet in the air. It wasn’t like it was premeditated.

To make a long story short, I thought I had her on the ski lift chair… turns out I didn’t… she slid forward and almost fell off… but she didn’t… her mom was standing 10 feet away watching… and not happy.

When I say not happy, I don’t just mean not happy. I mean reeeeeally not happy.

Thank goodness that the carney worker running the lift saw the horror (me dropping her and the look on mom’s face).

If a lawyer had been around, I think mom would have grabbed him, chased me down, and then beaten me to a pulp by slamming our skulls together. If I survived, I am pretty sure she would have sued what was left of my mangled body.

I don’t know what would have become of the lawyer, but who really cares (this example is hypothetical and after all he is just a lawyer).

Although mom didn’t chase me down, or beat me up, it was very evident that she is quite fond of her daughter (and not that happy with me).

After an ugly incident like this, I think it is important to put it behind us and move forward.

So, we are going skiing again and I will try to be a better father. If I don’t endanger my child’s life, the trip will be considered a rousing success.

Raising a child is complicated and I have discovered they don’t come with an instruction manual.

No one mentioned in parenting class that my daughter might slip off the ski lift if I didn’t hold on to her tightly enough.

This isn’t completely true (or true at all).

I didn’t take a parenting class (I was busy coaching… this isn’t helping my case is it?). I had a choice… games or class.

As I look back, the class might have been the better choice. Hindsight is 20/20.

Wish me luck this weekend as I play in the snow.

If you happen to see a guy on the ski lift with his child dangling below, don’t wave.

You see… I can’t wave back. Who says there isn’t humor in difficult situations?

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Skiing Part I: The Day I Should Have Died.

As I sit in the middle of Wisconsin waiting to go skiing tomorrow (by the way, it is a lot warmer than it was in Canada), I am reminded of the time my wife tried to murder me.

Just for the record, that may have been the best and most interesting first paragraph that I have ever written.

Although the fact that I am here today kind of tells you how the whole “murdering” thing turned out. Crashing While Skiing Tends to Hurt.

When I was a kid, I didn’t have the opportunity to go skiing. Something about it costing money and we didn’t have any (the details are blurry, but that is the gist of it).

I always believed that skiing was something rich people did. It was right up there with polo, boating, going on vacation, and eating out (things were tough, what can I say?).

My wife (from here on known as “the woman who says that I will never understand the pain of childbirth”) and I got the chance to go skiing for the first time about 3 years ago. It was very exciting and a little nerve racking, but surprisingly not that expensive. I am still surprised that the cost is not that bad (better than gas, razor blades, and bottled water).

By the way, skiing does involve me buying gas to get to Wisconsin, but at least I don’t have to shave while I am not working. For those scoring at home; that’s Me 1 and Gillette 0.

That first time my wife and I got to go skiing, we had big plans to take lessons and learn everything that was needed to be successful.

As educators we know the power of knowledge. We were going to be excellent students and soak up every bit of ski knowledge that the instructor had to offer.

But the best laid plans. After arriving at the mountain (for real skiers a hill), we discovered that the next lesson would be in 30 minutes. We lack patience, so on to plan #2.

Plan #2 was to learn on the fly. Bad plan. It was more of a learn on the fall than the fly.

About 2 seconds into this adventure/certain death, I realized we had absolutely no clue as to what we were doing.

We started on the Bunny Hill (which should be known as the “everyone here is in pre-school except for you two old people who should get out of our way and go take some lessons hill”). I guess the name Bunny Hill is easier for people to remember.

After a few slightly successful trips, and by successful I mean no one was hurt (me, “the woman who says that I will never understand the pain of childbirth”, pres-schoolers, or innocent bystanders) she was ready for a bigger challenge.

I wasn’t as confident. I was pretty sure that I hadn’t mastered the sport when my only way of stopping was by throwing my body face first into a pine tree. At this point I didn’t know much about the sport, but I knew there must be a better way to slow down than eat pine cones.

On the upside, my breath did have a certain pine freshness to it.

But back to the murder. “The woman who says that I will never understand the pain of childbirth” called me out. She questioned my manhood and challenged me to go down the next run which was located right next to the Bunny Hill.

Looking back, there were several things terribly wrong with this idea. One, I couldn’t ski. Two, and more importantly, I couldn’t stop. Then the kicker. The run next to the Bunny Hill wasn’t the next run in the sequence of difficulty; it was the fourth. If you ski, I think I just heard you gasp.

For those who are new to skiing, you should work your way up from the easiest, to the second hardest, etc. Never, ever skip from #1 to #4.

We both work in schools, therefore we don’t listen very well. Evidently, we also didn’t look at the giant 20 foot map that shows the runs and their levels of difficulty.

So, we start down the nice “little” run next to the Bunny Hill. Turns out my troubles were just beginning.

I should have suspected something was wrong because this particular hill was called “The Devil’s Armpit ”. But as I look back on those 7 minutes (seemed like 4 hours and 22 minutes) of my life the name should have been a clue, but I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

As we started down the run it took me about 4 seconds to realize that I was about to die and I would always be known as the first husband of “the woman who says that I will never understand the pain of childbirth”.

She went down the hill slowly and under control. I on the other hand went careening down the hill at an estimated 1,400 miles per hour. Except when I crashed which happened 47 times that I remember. Somewhere about halfway down I think I sustained a concussion, so I may have crashed more but after several blows to the head I lost track.

I will never be able to apologize to all of the women and children who were kind enough to break my falls as I slammed into them.

As I barreled/stumbled/rolled towards the bottom, I could hear “the woman who says that I will never understand the pain of childbirth” laughing a little bit like Dr. Evil from Austin Powers.

I must have looked like the agony of defeat skier from Wide World of Sports, except much, much, much worse. I had snow in every part of my body (and I mean every).

At least it was cold enough that my tears froze. Nothing worse than a bad skier, except a bad skier crying and screaming like a bratty 2-year old child as they fly out of control down a hill that they have no business being on.

When I finally made it to the bottom, “the woman who says that I will never understand the pain of childbirth” and I realized that if we had taken a lesson they would have probably taught us how to use the ski lift so we could get back to the top.

Getting on the lift is another story (hence, Skiing Part I).

I had never felt this kind of pain. Parts of my body are still sore 3 years later. I can tell you when it will rain 72 hours in advance.

After making it to the top, I limped back to the car and then crawled across the lobby of the hotel. Once I pulled myself onto the hotel bed, I knew that I now had a better understanding of the pain of childbirth.

I should send my wife flowers for the whole birthing thing, but she did try to kill me. I think we will just call it even.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.