I love getting his text messages during the day about life with his almost week-old son. My son Justin seems like he's a natural born father. His texts range from reporting that he changed 11 diapers the day before to he had a poop that could only be described as nuclear.
He and his wife Lauren are really excited about the new addition to their family that had consisted of them, a dog and a cat. Now, they have a son and Justin is loving every minute of it.
This excites me for a lot of reasons. One is that all this really shows the grace of God. Miles is really healthy and he was born a month early. But, more importantly, it demonstrates that coming from a background of poor fathering is not a predictor of the kind of dad a guy is going to be.
I had no father figure and I had no siblings and I can say that the best job of my life has been being a father. That is topped only by being a husband. The poor fathering cycle has been broken officially. This is proof. Thank-you God.
My grandson who turns four on Saturday is coming to our house on Saturday to visit for a few weeks. Last year when we visited them at their home in Bosnia, he was really into watching Veggie Tales, He knew all the characters, their songs and their dance moves. Now it's Spider Man and other super-heroes.
This made me think of super-heroes that I adopted when I was around that age. I remember Zorro, the Cisco Kid, the Lone Ranger, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon and Super Man. As a young boy, I spent time in front of the radio listening to their fight for good over evil.
My son had his super-heroes too. I remember him watching Ninja Turtles and I remember the Ninja Turtle toys that he collected and played with.
Adults have their super-heroes too. Last night, we watched "24" on television. Isn't Jack Bauer a super-hero. The threats he confronts are much more global and more violent.
How important are super-heroes? To me, they seem important. They plant a seed that good can win over bad.
In a couple of weeks, my second grandson will be born. I wonder if in a couple of years whether he will be into super-heroes. Will he be playing Ninja Turtles with my son? Will he know about the Lone Ranger? Zorro? Super Man? I can't wait to tell him.
I graduated from T. L. Handy High School in Bay City, Michigan exactly 50 years ago. That means a big reunion in the fall. I'm not sure what to expect. Is there a way to prepare yourself before you go? Is there a right mindset?
Our high school was on the westside of the Saginaw River and was one of two in our town. I flew below the radar for most of those years, except for two years I spent as a photographer for the school newspaper. Because I moved from our town, my ties to classmates were reduced dramatically.
In the invite to the reunion, there was a request to write a personal update about the past 50 years to be used in a 50th memory book. It asks for accomplishments, awards of recognition and hobbies and other stuff.
This is a milestone occasion and I look forward to going with my wife. I'm just not sure what to expect.
How many baby-boomer guys have more hair on their chins than on the top of their head?
I didn't fully appreciate how much hair I've lost until my wife was sitting behind me the other night and used her iPad Mini to take a picture of my just about bare scalp. I am way beyond the point of needing a comb.
To me, it seems like I've got a lot of wasted space on the top of my head. Could it be put to use for some sort of message?
What about tattooing "John 3:16 in big letters?
It was love at first sight when I saw this shower curtain at Bed, Bath and Beyond. It's a big map of the world that's easy to read and really helps when you're trying to follow happenings in the world.
Before we got this, we'd have to either pull out our computer or an atlas or a faded National Geographic map if we could find it.
I can't wait for our four year old grandson to see it. He is growing up in Eastern Europe and has travelled to several countries. Now he can see them on a big map everyday when he takes a shower.
When we make our baby-boomer move to a smaller house, the shower curtain goes with us. It has become indispensable.
I've had chronic open angle glaucoma for a long time. Eye drops and ophthalmologists have become part of my life. I've been told over the years that my vision should be good as long as the disease is managed.
The effort has been a journey with lots of steps. It started with cataracts that were removed and with lenses in my eyes replaced with ones that I wasn't born with. Along with the high eye pressure, the lens in my right eye has fallen from its perch several times and I've had a retina detachment.
My pressure during the past six months has been low until now. It's high again which means I'm seeing more of my friends in the eye doctor's office.
Meanwhile, my vision has shown signs of being out of whack and I'm not sure why. What's next? The glaucoma doctor seemed satisfied. He said it might be my retina again.
There's another appointment tomorrow morning. Glaucoma patients, how about you? Is your glaucoma experience pretty steady without many bumps and grinds? Has it been a roller coaster ride?
Do you have a list of things that you want to do before you reach the front door of eternity?
I turn 68 in a little over five months and I find myself trying to decide what I want to do before I reach the front doors of eternity.
Super-wife and I both saw the movie Bucket List and we were entertained by two old guys trying to find themselves and to find experiences that would bring them fulfillment. They travelled around the world to a lot of exotic places. Do you remember where they went and what they did? They climbed one of the tallest mountains. Didn't they go to the Great Wall of China?
I think they had a long list of things they wanted to do? Can I develop a list of five, ten or more? I've got some ideas. I signed up for bucketlist.org where people from around the world share the items on their lists. I thought I might find some inspiration.
One item I saw was "Getting A Tattoo." How about a heart on my arm with my wife's name on it? I don't think so. I'd make the point better by loading and unloading the dishwasher for a week.
If you're an older baby-boomer has the nature of your junk mail changed? It has for me. A few years ago, I started getting mail from hearing aid dealers, regular offers from AARP and various retirement homes.
Today, I got a shout-up in the mail from a local funeral home trying to get my business when I pass over to the next life. They want me to be ready. The mail included a sales letter along with their contact information.
As a 67-year-old old baby-boomer, do I see the need to have a funeral director and funeral arrangements in my life? No. I'm in reasonably good health and I have items left to do on my "to-do" list. However, I realize that life's direction can turn on a dime and I need to be aware.
That junk mail today from one of the local undertakers, did that. It made me more aware.
How many of you older baby-boomers have kids and grandkids who live on the other side of the country or the world?
Our kids live great distances which are shortened by Apple's Face Time. What a great tool that easy to use to maintain family contacts and relationships.
These big eyes and smile really brightened our weekend. Our three-year-old grandson had been in the picture, but got drawn away by the cries of his monkey.
I was fascinated watching the piece about GoPro cameras on 60 Minutes and how they are being used by younger types to get all kinds of great action video and still shots. There were surfing shots, underwater stuff and skydivers. There's a whole collection of great photography with this camera that can be purchased at any Sam's Club or from Amazon.
What about senior citizens? I'm 67 and not into extreme sports. My wife and I have had some adventures. We have grandkids who live in another country and we have a son who with his wife live in the west. Check out this video about the camera and the visual revolution that it has started.
Those are questions that a lot of baby-boomers are asking themselves, I'm sure. The answers are not the same for everyone. For super-wife and me, it has always been simple. We wanted to see our kids and we wanted to further exercise our grandparent muscles.
We have two kids and since they've graduated from college, they have always lived in other states. Our son lived and worked in Washington, D.C. for several years. We had many great trips and visits there. Recently, we spent a week with him and his wife in Las Vegas where they live and work.
Then there's our daughter and husband and our two grandkids who live in Bosnia. It was part of the old Yugoslavia and is one country away from the beautiful Adriatic Sea. What do you do if you want to see them in their own environment where they live and work?
I'm a member of the first class of baby-boomers which means I'm 67 and my spouse is several years less. We are not of the generation that easily buzzes around new countries on public transportation and in tiny cars on really narrow streets.
We thought about it, examined our bank account to see how many pop cans we'd have to collect and decided with some gusto to go.
Would I do it again? You bet. Worst part of the trip were the teenie-tiny airline seats that have leg room for a person no more than three feet tall.
Best part of the trip was being able to do it with my wife. Next best was family. My little girl is a grown woman with her own kids and a great husband. I'm one proud dad and my wife is one proud mom. It was a privilege to be part of their lives in Bosnia for that period of time.
What about our grandkids? Our time with them was pure gold. In the morning, our three-year-old grandson would knock on our door. He'd crawl in our bed and he would use the kiddie apps on our iPad Mini's. Our almost year-old granddaughter charmed us with her spunk and smile. I love being part of a family.
My wife's sister met us in Frankfurt, Germany for a trip to the Hannover area where we looked for evidence of their ancestors in nearby rural areas. That was humbling. It was like looking into the soul of her family.
We had to take trains, figure out trams and subways and wade our way through another language in grocery stores and train stations.
But, we did it. And I praise God for this opportunity.
Are you thinking about a smilar trip to see kids? Do it.
I think it was my daughter-in-law Lauren who described one time as the family "patriarch." I think she called me that when we were taking a family picture with our kids and then one grandchild. That moment stuck with me, but I could never see myself as a Moses or Abraham.
Then I saw Zeke Braverman played by Craig Nelson on the television show Parenthood and I started to make more of a connection with the word.
It's a family of a bunch of kids and grandkids who are uncharactically close. Somehow, they keep their individuality and sometimes, they let that show with a great deal of volume during family get-togethers.
Zeke tries to bring order to the family chaos and occasionally contributes to the disorder. He's there for his family when needed and sometimes when it's not.
But, in my mind, what makes his character special is that he values family relationships. They are major to him. He shows love to them all.
The show starts a new season in the next week and I'm anxious to see more.
I'm getting comfortable with the word family patriarch. I still feel like I'm in training. Zeke can help me move that along.
It's before 7 a.m. in the middle of the week and I added something new to my collection of vision challenges-migraines. It's the variety where I don't have the severe headache pain, but my vision goes through short periods of momentary fuzziness.
When this started over the weekend, I could feel my gut tighten up, not knowing where it would stop and not knowing how this would affect my daily life.
Everything seems back to normal and God-willing, it will stay that way, but what about the future. I ran into a Sara Groves song this morning that's a potent reminder that God is faithful. His hand is in mine. Do you need a reminder today? Check out this YouTube video.
By the way, I was tipped off to this song, by our church's daily Beyond The Weekend devotions which reinforce the previous Sunday's sermon. Thanks to Ada Bible Church for doing this. I needed to hear it this morning.
I love having a phone with a decent camera. My iPhone 3 is always in my pocket, as it was this morning when I took the recyling to the curb and then took a shot from our kitchen of a blue-jay on our back deck. The sun's out here and the temperature is decent and the blue jays have lit up the neighborhood with sound.
Let me introduce myself. I'm your Grandpa Thorp, your mother's father. Today's your first month birthday and I wanted to let you know that your Grandma Thorp and I are thinking of you.
When we first met you were pretty young, actually you were pre-born. Your mom was pregnant with you when we came to visit your family where you live in Bosnia.
While you were still inside your mom, we went through two countries, Croatia and Hungary. We even walked besides, across and rode on a famous river, the Danube.
I was standing in line at a Walgreens Drug Store in Lansing when I got a call on my cellphone from your dad that your mom was going to the hospital to have you. I was waiting to get some special eyedrops when your dad said it was close to the time for you to be born.
When everybody at the drugstore saw the big smile on my face and when they learned that it was because of you, they almost cheered. They certainly smiled.
Then we got another call from your dad that you were here and that your name was Gretchen Kate. Grandma and I could not stop talking about our special granddaughter born on a special day.
That was one month ago today. We are excited about seeing you next month and about seeing your brother Xavier.
You are a special person, a winner. Always remember who you are. You are a special daughter of God. You are one of a kind. I am anxious to hold you and look into your eyes and talk to you face to face. That will happen soon.
When you're old enough to read this, give your brother a hug for me.
See you soon.
I could easily dream about our supper tonight of Pasta Prima butternut squash ravioli and St. Julian Catawba wine. It was perfect for eating supper on our couch as we watched the Hallmark Channel and it's Christmas marathon.
It's garden fresh squash prepared in a pasta shell served on the first day of December. It worked. The wine complemented the squash taste and made a feast for two. Loved it. This is how it looked through the lens of my camera on my iPhone 3.
The prayer: "God give me the grace to trust you today."
Who knows what the day will bring? I just ask and plead with God to give me the grace to trust him. It's simple. Do I believe that he will anser that prayer? Yes. I am counting on it.
I've been searching through digital pictures that we've taken over the past year to put in our Christmas newsletter and came across this one taken when we took our son Justin and his wife Lauren to the airport last week. It seems like just yesterday when we'd stand in line at a fast food place where he would be in front of me and I'd have my hands on his shoulders. I'd have to get on a ladder to do that now.
I hope to have our Christmas newsletter ready next week. We will send the majority by email with some in snail mail. How about you? Send a Christmas newsletter? Very many? What do you write about?