College Life-How Sweet It Is!

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One of my college kids called me the other night.  Well actually she text-ed me.  Because that is what kids do today.  When they have a complex question that involves a response that could exceed 100 words, they of course text.   My standard response when this happens…”call me”.

So the phone call shortly arrived.  The whole purpose for this communication involved a certain movie streaming application that her new television came with last summer.  She has been enjoying this application with no charge associated.  She thought Dad had set it up but I had not.  So, all I can figure is there was some type of free introductory period. The freebie had now ended and daughter was hoping that Dad would either provide his log in to this program, or a credit card so this right of college life could continue.

Matters like this are better not to hit me with at 10pm at night.  I understand just enough about business to know that no company has set up a video streaming app that all one person needs to do is share their password with their college student and pretty soon an entire dorm is streaming movies on your account.  I was not entirely sure how the business model worked, and daughter swore she would keep my login secret (I really believe she would do her best to keep it secret), but I was not buying it.  I enjoy the service, we use it at home, and the last thing I wanted was to get our home blocked because my password was also being used at a college campus not exactly in the same location as my home.   I thought maybe there was a usage model that might solve this issue but as my tired head tried to figure out a solution at the company’s website, the solution hit me.

The solution was so obvious frankly I got a little upset at myself for not having immediately thought of this.  Our goal is for our kids to come out of college debt-free.  So, we cover tuition, room and board and books.  Social items are on the kids so they need to work whenever they can to pay for their social and entertainment.  Same program I was on with my parents and I am forever thankful to them for not forcing me into the world of student loans.   I was not handing over my log in information, so this problem was not mine.  Clearly an entertainment issue…this was daughter’s to decide.  Plus in my research I found out the cost of an unlimited plan was less than two grande lattes at Starbucks!  We know how often college kids make that pit stop!  (To daughter’s credit, she called me later and apologized for expecting me to handle this expense-much appreciated.)

Which brings me to the end of the story but I just could not stop thinking about this.  What a world we live in!  For $8 a month, you can have unlimited movies streaming into your college room.  My first memory was that we had a small black and white TV in my college room and we hardly could watch it through the snow on the screen as we strained to pick up stations 75 miles away!  We did buy record albums (kids-ask your parents what they are) and I remember those being about $6 each.  One album with 40 minutes of music, 35 years ago, cost more than the limited plan for the movie streaming application!  If they sold albums today they probably would be $15!  College kids in the 70’s collected record albums like the Harbaugh family collects coaching victories.  Our kids have no idea how great life is for them.

Of course, I sure hope they find some time to study!



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I had a rough day yesterday.  When it was over I realized I had neglected a number of things that should have been the most important parts of my day.  Instead I was wrapped up in the ridiculous circumstances that just seemed like piling on.   In retrospect, I have to do better.

Then I started to think about neglect.  When you neglect something it generally means it is not important.  There are different levels of neglect though.  The stress of the day yesterday caused me to neglect a few minutes I could have enjoyed with my son and wife.  Those are really important moments to me.  It is not the same as the neglect that occurs when you choose to eat pizza late at night every night!  Or is it?

How do you separate the levels of neglect?  Make a list of the three to five most important things to you.  Mine are my marriage, children, spirituality, business, and volunteer efforts. (Sorry Buddy the are not on this list but that does not mean I won’t feed you and take you out)!   Now I look at that list and the top three are non-negotiable.  When I have another day that feels like my luck is terrible and the world is crumbling around me, the top three will NEVER be neglected.

What can I neglect?  Eating crummy food, reading trash about politics and opinions that frustrate me, ridiculous reality TV shows, and I know I can keep this list going and going.  It is all things that suck out my remaining time and energy when it should be spent in better ways.

Figure out what you can neglect and what you never want to neglect.  Then lets all do our best to not neglect the important ones again!

One Day

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What if you knew today was your last day?

One day.  Not enough time to plan to tackle a bucket list.   Or much of anything.

Except for what is MOST important.

Can’t over think it either..the time will fly by.

How would you spend that one day?

I bet I can answer that for anyone reading this.  Talking to their loved ones.  Being with them if possible.  Being in the moment.

Facebook, Twitter, Linked In…not so much.

We all are distracted by modern life.   Watch any group of people together.  They spend as much time looking at their phone as they do each other.  Maybe more.

If you knew it was your last that how you would spend it?

Or would you want more?

One day..and chances are this one is not it.   Why waste it though?  The people you will spend time with on special occasions, particularly over the next couple of months, are likely who you would want to spend time with on your one day.  Lets get focused on those moments if we agree that they are how we would spend our one day.

If we only knew.

How To Spend The Time?

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Three day weekend.  Lots of rain.  More time spent inside than I have spent in a long time.

How to spend the time?

Household projects that have been waiting for months?

Hundreds of emails that will never stop arriving or screaming for a response?

Bills..I can get ahead on handling the bills…

Shopping…uh no thanks unless somehow I can make it a social outing with my wife or kids.  Or pick up some stuff at the hardware store for those household projects!

Watch baseball games on TV…there is a weak spot.

How about spending time sitting around talking with family and friends?  In other words, doing nothing.  Or doing everything.  The most important thing.  Relationships with family and friends.

If you have spent the first two days of this three day-er pursuing your list of personal interests, maybe it is time that on day three, we take time to visit with family and friends.  Check in with loved ones.

Spend time on what really matters.

I know it is cliche…but other people are the only real thing in your life.

Don’t worry, when you die there will likely still be a lot of household chores.

But will there be those relationships?

Three day weekend with a Monday holiday.   Spend it on the best things in your life.

While you are at it, remember those folks laboring for you today and not enjoying a holiday with the same opportunities.  Hopefully they will have another opportunity to do so soon.


Reverse Migration

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It seems like just the other day I lamented about the change in our lives brought on by the return of our two college students.  We have experienced this migration and disruption for several years now.   The expected total change in lifestyle took place through the summer, but with a little more calm.  I guess that is part of the kids being 21 and having jobs and maybe finding they enjoy mornings more?  Not sure…but as the summer has gone on we have had to start to see our lives change even more significantly.  Our two 18 year olds would also be leaving.  One to Purdue.  The other had a decision to make.  He is our hockey goalie and despite my ranting and raving about the world of hockey when kids reach this age…it didn’t change anything.  He wants to play in college and the colleges like the players to spend an extra year in what is called Juniors.  Tryouts ensued and as the summer rolled on it became clear that his selection, and the best choice for his development as a hockey player and young man, was 2300 miles away in a place we have never been..Medford Oregon.

How do you move a soon to be 19 year old boy across the country?  We spent the summer on that one.  Fortunately we discovered that he qualified for on- line classes from Indiana University.  We really wanted him to not just sleep and play hockey.  Starting his college classes and having the most flexibility for the future was our goal.  Being the partisan that I am I must brag… Indiana University offered the solution.  So we can officially also now say we have four in college!  Bragging rights is what this game is all about!  Look..we are much more broke than you are!

So, three at Purdue and one going to Indiana University while living in Oregon!  While I am not sure this fully qualifies that I finally got one of my kids to go to my school, at least for a semester,  I can feel a little better about how the college savings flow.  If you know anybody who has saved enough to have four kids in college in the same year they have likely either 1. inherited wealth,  2. won the lottery, or 3. sacrificed for years.   We fall under #3.  Maybe this helps a little more to explain my conservatism?  Not an excuse…but a lifestyle choice.

So, the point today is that 30 minutes ago, our son and my wife hopped in his Chevy Silverado to make the trek across country.   My first observation is thank goodness he is a boy.  He is able to move himself and make decisions I have never seen our girls make.  Travel light.  I carried Jennifer’s suitcase downstairs and realized she would pay the suitcase up-charge if she was flying.  She took up 25% of his cargo space and she flies back in a week!  He was lighthearted about it.  He knows his Mom and had saved plenty of room in the covered truck bed for her (suitcase that is)!  Our 8 year old son said his goodbyes and I know I was about to lose it.   I hugged our hockey player/IU student and told him I am proud of him.    I do not believe I could have ever made the decision he made at his age.  As Mom and I said our goodbyes, her face full of tears, I realized just how hard this was going to be for her.   Not the three day drive, but leaving her baby boy so far from home.   This is not a one hour drive to Purdue!

On Thursday I will have a U Haul truck loaded up to deliver the rest of our girls to Purdue.  When I return it will be the 8 year old and me until Mom comes home.  Then it will be just three of us in a house that is now too large for three, but needs to be able to accommodate seven.  The kids do migrate home.  Then they fly the coop again.  It is a stage of life.  One between needs and support, and total independence.  It is a time of growth and excitement, and a heart tug that can’t be described unless you are a parent experiencing it.    The birds have flown from the nest again.  It is quiet.

For some reason, I am sad.