Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Lifelong Memories -- Paul Windisch, Nixa Dad of One




Do you ever wish you could remember more things about your life when you were little?
I am a father to one son named Hayden.  He’s 8.  I’m 48.  Yes, I’m the “older dad.”  But being older, I believe it has caused me to not take for granted this amazing gift that God has given us. 

Since he was born, I have wanted to make absolutely sure that I cherished every moment with my son.  Sure, I have moments when he drives me crazy, moments when we argue, moments when I have screwed up and said things that I should not have said to him.  In those times when I’ve messed up, I’ve made sure to tell him I was wrong, I made a mistake, and I’m sorry.  (I believe it’s good for children to see their parents mess up, and then humble themselves and apologize.) 


But the majority of the time, I do my best to make sure my son realizes that he is one of the greatest things that has ever happened in my life. 

I believe one of the main reasons that I try so hard to spend as much quality time with Hayden, is because I lost both of my parents when I was in my mid 30’s.  I took for granted the time I had with them, while they were here.  For the last 13 years, I’ve deeply missed having them around.  Especially the last 8 years with my son, and all we’ve experienced.  

One of the small things I miss the most is simply not being able to ask my parents about certain things from my childhood that I can’t remember, so I can share those stories with my son.


For Hayden, that won’t be a problem when he is grown up.  Thankfully, a dear friend of mine gave me the idea of writing in a journal every day, once my son was born. 
For the first 5 years of his life, I added to this journal every day.  Whether it was something he did that day, something that was going on in my life, something big that happened in the world, simple words of wisdom, or even just telling him I thanked God for him that day … I typed into that journal every single day. 

The last few years, I still add things, but it’s not every day.  Mainly big things that happen, that he’ll want to remember. 

I now have 351 pages of memories in this journal that he’ll be able to look back through when he is older. 
  
For the dads reading this who have babies or young children, I encourage you to start a journal.  I believe it will be one of the great gifts that your children will treasure as an adult. 

For those of you with grown children, I encourage you to spend more time talking with your kids about memories from their childhood.  It will be quality time that they (and you) will love.  
  


Some of us put so much pressure on ourselves to be great parents, that we set unrealistic expectations that we can usually never achieve.  But when I think about it, my greatest memories of my dad are simply the times he spent one on one quality time with me.  It didn’t even really matter what we were doing.  I just knew I was enjoying it and so was he. 

Spending undistracted, engaged, quality time with your children is the best thing you can do.  And it’s these times that will create amazing lifelong memories for your child, and for you.


Paul and his wife Christie are parents of one son.  They enjoy being at the lake every chance they get, being involved in Hayden’s sports, and serving at their church in Nixa, The Bridge.  Paul worked in the Media Industry in southwest Missouri for 20+ years and has recently started a consulting business.  He can be reached for questions or comments at paul.windisch@sbcglobal.net   

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Women of Steel(man) -- The Women Behind the Men of Steelman Transportation


Women of Steel. That’s what you might call the seven women gathered for lunch on a chilly November afternoon to talk about what it’s like to be married to a long-haul driver. Debra, Alika, Brandy, Terry, Melissa and Melanie—that’s who sat at the table. Donna joined us by phone. Their stories and histories vary, but the one thing they all have in common is their love and commitment to a man who drives an 18-wheeler. In this instance, all the men drive a flatbed trucks for Steelman Transportation, a trucking company located in Springfield, Missouri.

Terry Hayden: Terry’s husband has driven a truck for more than 40 years. She lived on the truck with him until family issues took her off the road. In fact, Terry worked as a certified driver herself for eight years. These days she says, “We talk all the time and use video chat.” She feels better knowing that her husband has his dog “right there in the truck with him.”


Theresa Greenland, aka Alika: Alika’s husband, Alan, has been driving on and off for 15 years, the past three for Steelman. She, too, uses video chat to stay in touch with her husband. She also has lived on the truck, but had to come off the road do to health issues. She describes life on the truck, “as a great adventure.” “Where else,” she asks, “could you get to see as much of the country as you can from the cab of a truck?”

Debra Hill:  Debra’s husband, Michael, has been driving for more than 20 years—the last three months with Steelman. Debra says she and Michael “talk on the phone a lot. Between the two of us, we have seven kids—all boys.” They are also grandparents to six grandchildren.

Brandy Howe: Brandy’s husband, Paul has been driving for 10 years – the first two with the military and the last eight with Steelman. The couple has two older children, 21 and 16. They expect the arrival of a new baby girl in the spring to change some things about the way they communicate, especially since they prefer talking on the phone to video chatting. When the baby arrives, Brandy predicts they will be using video chatting a lot more often.  


Donna Harper: Donna’s husband, Johnny, has been driving for 20 years. She believes it’s critical that to be “100% supportive of what he’s doing. If he is to be successful in his work, he must have support at home.”


Melissa Vaughn: As the newest member of the Women of Steel, Melissa has been with her boyfriend on the truck for two months. She sees her life at this point as an exciting journey and looks forward to what each new day will bring.


Melanie Borden: Melanie has been married to her husband, Paul, for 40 years. He’s been driving over the road since 2004, and she’s worked for Steelman Transportation since 2005. The couple has adult children and four grandchildren. “The honeymoon happens,” she says, “when he comes home. In between times, I can get my house clean and my life in order. Then he comes home and we have wonderful chaos.”



What It Takes to be a Woman of Steel
None of the Women of Steel I met would say that being the woman behind the man on the road is easy, but all can tell you how important their role is to their partner’s success.
“I love YouTube,” claims Brandy. “I’ve learned a lot of ways to fix things at home on my own so that when he comes off the road he can enjoy himself and relax.”
The other women agreed with Brandy listing the wide variety of things they handle so “he doesn’t have to worry about them.” These include handling all the financials (bills, child care, child support) and house and home repairs. They reason their driver does better when he knows, “she’s got it under control.”

“Sometimes,” they say, “we just do it (fix something) and then tell him. This way he doesn’t have to worry.”

“It’s important to keep the home stress at a minimum, so they can focus on driving.”
Alika says, “I even buy his groceries for the truck so that when he’s home, he doesn’t have to think about doing that.”

Perhaps because of the shared experience the typical non-driving family might not understand, the women all expressed a close connection to Steelman and described their relationship “like family.” They said they have experienced a very welcoming environment, emotional support in hard times, and sensitivity to their partner’s desire to be home for special family events.

They’ve also reached out to other women with OTR (over-the-road) partners. Donna started a group on Facebook for Trucker Wives who want to support their driver and each other, “Trucker Wives Who Support Their Truckers and Each Other”. She believes the shared “adventure of the road” brings us all together. “Some women,” she says, “have messaged me and asked for input.” She believes it is critical for the women at home to have relationships with people who can relate positively.

Challenges for Women of Steel
Not surprisingly, extended time a part from each other is one of the biggest challenges these women face. They caution against being resentful about being alone and note that their partner is alone, too, on the truck. “He spends long hours by himself,” they explain. “That’s why communication is a big thing.”

Women of Steel also worry about their men. “Is he safe?” they wonder, as one of them describes how hard the job is. She has read that driving a truck over the road is more dangerous than being a fire fighter. “People don’t respect that,” she says. “They don’t know what a hard job it is.”


Becoming a Woman of Steel
It takes time to adjust to life on and off the road. According to the Women of Steel, “Flexibility is key.” They also emphasize how important it is to have “trust in and believe in each other.” When it comes to their partner’s job, they stress, “It’s important to remember they drive because they want to take care of their family.”

Donna offers, “Even when he can’t be home, try and include him as much as possible. Talk with him about what’s going on. And do fun things!” Donna and her husband have even done something she refers to as “truck karaoke” to have a good time together even while separated by distance.

While some of the women have lived on the truck with their partner, most have not. Even so, all recommend spending some time on the truck, e.g., a week or two. “They spend a lot of time alone,” they explain. “Keeping them company helps you understand what they do and helps them feel supported.”



Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Talk -- Nixa Dad of Three, Herb Cody


I am a husband, father of three, and two-time communicator of, “The Talk.” My oldest, and only daughter is now 15, while my middle child, and oldest son, is 13. My first experience of trying to have “The Talk” was more about me “finding an app for that.” I downloaded it to my iPad, had her watch it, then come to me with any questions. Thankfully, I did not have to answer anything too hard. With my son, I felt more comfortable, and it was much easier to discuss . . . at least for me. 

I feel like the schools do an outstanding job of teaching them a lot of the information they need, at the Junior High level. Unfortunately, there is much more they need to learn, in this new day and age of internet and devices.

I’ve had many conversations with my daughter regarding chatting with strangers on social media or other apps. I’ve also had to explain to her, beginning in 7th grade, that she has to respect herself and not send inappropriate photos/texts, just because a cute or popular boy is asking for this stuff. Several students in her junior high were busted for sending and sharing nude photos when she was in 7th grade. Thankfully, she was unaware of it and not involved. I do my best to keep an open line of communication with her, and not freak out when she comes to me about any sensitive subject matter. 


With my boys, I just want to make sure they know to always respect girls and women in every way. I have warned my 13-year-old against asking for inappropriate images. I tell him not to do or ask for anything that he wouldn’t want asked of or done to his sister. When the time comes, I’ll go through all of this again with my youngest, who is now seven. 

There is so much more out there to protect our children from and against than when I was a teen in the early ‘90’s. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with periodically checking their devices or rooms. This is something I am up front with them about. I know one day they will look back and understand why their Dad was so protective and in their business, seemingly all of the time. 

Herb Cody is a husband and father of three. He is a part time Uber driver and full time caregiver of his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November, 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa MO. Herb can be reached for questions or comments at herbie05@yahoo.com

You can check out Herb's own blog at, www.weebly.thecodylife.com.

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Days are Long and the Years are Short -- Dennis Wiggins, Springfield Father of Two



My wife Jill and I have been married for almost 22 years and have two teenage boys. Hayden is 15 and a sophomore at Kickapoo High School and his brother Caleb is a 13-year-old 8th grader at Cherokee Middle School. When we look back it has all gone by so fast. People always tell you it will but, when you are living it every day it can be just a blur. From changing diapers, learning to talk and walk, sports, homework, church and now soon to be drivers and girlfriends, WOW what just happened!

When I think of all the conversations we’ve had with our boys over the years it’s amazing. We’ve always tried to be open and honest with them, but also tried to keep it age appropriate. Sometimes you can offer up too much information when all they are really after is just a simple answer to satisfy their curiosity. But there are times they can go deep with their inquiries.


I remember when Hayden was younger and an early riser like me (but now that he’s a teenager sleeping in is a common occurrence). Most Saturday mornings while Jill and Caleb were still asleep we’d going riding around together—no real destination just coffee for me and maybe some breakfast for both of us. We’d talk about all kinds of things just as they came up while we were cruising around town for an hour or two. It was just simple basic stuff, but what great memories for me and hopefully for him. I think most of the time he taught me more than I taught him. Kids have a way of breaking it down and keeping simple; adults tend to complicate things. Remember everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten and kindness matters.

This past summer I had the chance to drive to several baseball tournaments with Caleb. Just me and him while Jill was running with Hayden to his baseball games. Divide and conquer. Those of you with kids involved in various activities know what it’s like. It was a blessing to me to get to spend more time with him. Talking, (listening to music most of it his, but some of mine too), and staying in a hotel together as roommates. While I like to watch him play and compete to watch how he responds to and handles game situations, e.g., winning and losing I was most proud of him as a teammate and watching him develop and gain confidence in himself. Now when I hear some of the songs it brings back memories of the summer road trips together.

Lots of our conversations with the boys now have to do with sex, drugs, alcohol, death, friends and even politics. It’s grown up stuff that sometimes I don’t always understand or have all the answers. But together Jill and I do our best to have a discussion to help them think through it and hopefully make good decisions. They must understand the consequence and the impact it will have on their future and career opportunities. We sometimes hear the locker room language during the sex talks. All the things they hear on the bus at school on social media and even on TV or YouTube. It’s sure not Leave it to Beaver anymore with Ward and June explaining things the Wally and Theodore.


I think it is extremely important to include Jill in the conversations as they happen, although she would sometimes like to bow out. When the topic of sex comes up she’ll roll her eyes or give a heavy sigh and ask, “Do I really need to be part of this?” I feel they need a woman’s perspective. It’s important to hear from their mom what girls think and feel about boys and men.

Death is another topic we’ve always been very open about with our boys. We’ve lost close family members and friends over the years. When my brother battled leukemia several years ago and finally died in 2010 we included the boys in our regular visits with him and openly discussed his disease with them. They really seemed to understand it more at times than we gave them credit.

Communication is key. It is so important in any family or organization to have open, honest and respectful conversations. Not that we are experts. It can get heated in our household at times. Tempers flare at times with teenagers. My wife is good about making sure we eat together regularly as a family. And when we go out to dinner NO cell phones are allowed. It works most of the time.

Having frequent conversations is so important. You don’t always have to have an agenda. Just make sure you take the opportunities to talk when they arise, and they will. I know they often do around our house and especially when driving in our vehicles. And remember to listen to our kids. They will tell us what they want to know and they can teach us lessons. I know my boys do all the time.

Dennis and his wife, Jill, are the parents of two sons. When not staying engaged with his sons and their schedules, Dennis volunteers time as a Good Dads Board member. He can be reached for question or comment at dennis.a.wiggins@gmail.com.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Good Conversations about Difficult Things, Including Sex -- Springfield Father of Three, Kevin Weaver



Before we have children, we tend to spend much time dreaming about all of the things we will do with them, and all of the meaningful, wonderful conversations we will share. Maybe we will dream and brainstorm with them about what they will be when they grow up. Maybe we will sit on the front porch swing and talk about all of the fun they had with friends at summer camp. Rarely do we think about, or prepare and plan for, the tough conversations of life.

Peer pressure, bullying, drugs, death, and yes, the dreaded topic of sex, are not topics that fill our parenting daydreams. As a matter of fact, these things tend to be the elements making up many of our parenting nightmares. Or, if not nightmares, at least the not so exciting topics that truly can shape our child’s thinking.  But, does it really have to be that way? Can we approach the hard things in better or more comfortable ways? While these conversations may never become easy, I do believe they can be (more comfortable), without the anxiety that so many of us parents experience with these issues.


If I could share with you only one admonishment regarding this from my 30 years of parenting, it simply would be: DON’T FREAK OUT. If we want our kids to best handle the hardest things they will face in life, we have to be the first people, and offer the safest place, to which they can turn.

My wife often tells younger moms that one of the things she regrets doing with our oldest son is too often overreacting to the hard questions and situations he would bring to her. The mama bear in her wanted to shield him from the hard things, and she admits that the struggle to accept the fact that he was growing up and in a world that was going to challenge him, often parentally paralyzed her.

Eventually, she and I found a mantra that helped us better address the hard things with our boys: “We can’t always protect, but we certainly can equip.” Fully accepting the fact that our kids absolutely would face tough things, from broken relationships to illness to death, then working to create a safe place in which they could become equipped to face these tough things, are the two key components we found to be most helpful to us as parents. In turn, these things absolutely benefited our children.


Of course, the way in which we discuss the “hard things” may vary, based on what each “hard thing” it we are discussing is, and how each child reacts to the respective “hard things” he or she individually faces. Some topics may be more easily handled within the home, between you and your child. Other times, it is okay to look at a child and say, “You know what? How would you feel about us bringing someone else into our conversation?” For instance, if you are walking a child through the loss of a dear, loved one, you may want to have them receive encouragement from a young person, a bit older than your young person, who has walked the path of loss and is doing well. If bullying is occurring at school, whether your child is the victim, bystander, or even bully, you may need to have your son or daughter visit with a school counselor or teacher.  Of all the hard topics, believe it or not, sex seems to be the one most parents tend to shy away from or overreact to. My wife has admitted that she would have rather tackled the subject of tragic death than that of sex, when our boys were young. Fortunately, we live in a day and age in which there are a myriad of resources, books, conferences, and workshops that can also help us help our children. Taking some time to find the resources that make us comfortable discussing the topic can be a great plan to prepare for that inevitable question.

However, at the end of the day, regardless of the great resources and tools that we may draw from, never forget that you, me - the parents - are the ones providing the toolbox. Remember, they will get the answers from somewhere. For me, I wanted that “somewhere” to be a conversation with Dad and Mom first, and creating that safe place where they knew they would never be judged, criticized or ignored when hard topics surfaced made all the difference.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Staying Connected with the Home Team -- Prime Driver Junior Honduras



Before he began driving for Prime, Rosalio Matute Jr. (aka Junior Honduras), did his homework. He researched a lot of companies and came to the conclusion Prime was the best one for him. He earned his CDL with Prime and began driving with Prime in July 2011 and eventually became a trainer—something he loves that feels like a natural fit for his personality and background. His experience as a crew trainer at McDonald’s helped him know he would enjoy training others and seeing their skills develop and improve.

Prior to becoming a Prime driver, Junior worked as a plant manager at an architecture molding company in Sarasota, Florida. He knows a lot about crown molding and tell you quickly whether or not something is solid concrete or foam-based. Eventually with the recession, the company where Junior was employed instituted lay-offs and he lost his job. It was then Junior began considering a “Plan B,” namely his lifelong interest in driving an 18-wheeler. He and Pamela, his wife, discussed it and he decided to apply to Prime--something he considers a really good decision. He began driving for Prime as a company driver for three months and soon switched to leasing his own truck. Junior is clearly proud of what he does as a driver and the ways in which he can provide for his family.


He says, “I can give them things I couldn’t have as a child.”

Junior’s family, his “home team,” includes his wife, Pamela, daughters Elizabeth (15), Emily (11) and Caitlyn (4) and son, Dylan (2). He clearly recognizes the role Pamela plays in keeping things running smoothly while he drives over-the-road. He has strong feelings about the importance of discipline and education.


“She’s the one in charge,” he explains. “Sometimes I feel like I’m the bad guy. I hate doing it, but I’ve got to do it so they grow up right.”

Junior admits that driving over-the-road can be difficult for one’s family. For that reason, he intentionally chooses to do a lot of his driving in Florida—an area some drivers avoid because of the rain—so he has more opportunities to see his wife and children.


“Many people don’t like it,” he says, “but I’ll take it. If it allows me to go by the house for a few hours, I’ll do it.”

In terms of being successful with driving and maintaining a healthy marriage and family life, Junior advises, “Communication is key. I try to stay in touch with my wife as much as I can. Stay on top of the conversations and what’s going on. Talk . . . talk . . . talk. It helps out here. Make time to let your wife and kids know you’re thinking about them.”


Do you drive for Prime? Get a free decal for your truck telling the world you are a Prime Good Dad by going to www.primegooddads.com and signing up for the Prime Good Dads program.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Raising Quitters -- Jeff Sippy, Springfield Dad-in-Training




I have three adult sons.  Each is a quitter.  Being a quitter is not always a bad thing. 

Since my children were young they had the opportunity to try new things from playing soccer to playing in the band.  They also had the opportunity to decide when enough was enough. 

Don’t get me wrong.  Watching T.V. and playing video games all the time was not an option, and there were areas of life my boys were not going to quit no matter how much they kicked and screamed.  My boys were not going to quit school.  They were going to do their homework, like it or not.  They were going to be polite and respectful to teachers and people in authority.  And they were going to live by the rules of the house so long as they lived in our home.    

But there were plenty of areas of life where my boys had choices to make.  They could try new things. They could join this and that. And they could quit when enough was enough.  No guilt. No shame.  No burden or pressure.  Of course, they would be respectful.  They would communicate clearly.  But they could quit if they wanted. 


My boys were brilliant soccer players.  I don’t mean good. I mean brilliant.  They were each drafted on all-star teams.  But one by one each of them quit playing soccer for the sake of new interests.  Oh, I grieved.  But it was their choice to make.  They quit.

One of my sons wanted to quit the band.  He played the saxophone.  He was very good.  But one day he said, I want to quit.  I took him out for dinner.  We talked for two hours.  I encouraged him to try a new instrument.  In the end he said, “I want to quit the band.”  It was his choice to make. He quit. 


Two of my boys were drafted to play on a travel hockey team out of Arkansas.  After traveling to Dallas, Texas and back, and staying in a hotel, my boys had had enough. They quit.

One of my boys joined a fraternity – and then decided it was not for him.   He quit.

Of course it would not be healthy to quit everything.  Neither is it healthy to be stretched to the limits.  Good Dads will listen to their children and help them make good, positive and healthy choices.  Together, you and your children will learn that quitting is not always a bad thing.  My boys know that if they have difficult decisions to make they usually get a steak dinner out of the deal!     


I am proud of my boys.  They are adventuress, able, and independent.  This year my oldest went on a ski vacation to South America.  My middle son went to the Dominican Republic with friends.  And my youngest went to Denmark and Sweden – and was certified in Scuba Diving! 

My boys have quit their way to a balanced, healthy life.   

 
Jeff Sippy, a Dad-In-Training, is the father of three young men and the husband of Cindy. He enjoys sailing every chance that he gets. He is the senior pastor at Redeemer Lutheran in Springfield, MO and can be reached for question or comment at jsippy@rlcmail.org