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14 posts from June 2015

What do you give your spouse on your 34th wedding anniversary?

A picture of me and my bride walking down the aisle.
We are walking down the aisle after being married in 1981 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Bay City.

We found the perfect gift to give each other on our 34th anniversary, but I'll get back to that shortly.  The best part of my life has been my relationship to Gladys.  I don't know why I didn't propose to her in a conventional way.

She was teaching at Immanuel Lutheran School in Bay City, Michigan and I went to her classroom after school one day where I pulled out my checkbook and found the page with the calendar.  I pointed to it and said, "What day would you like to get married."  

She said "yes" and the rest is history.  Living life with her everyday and experiencing her unconditional love has been a life-changer for me.  She has been a steady reflector of the only person that she loves more than me, Jesus Christ.  

To cover all the things that I'm thankful for in my marriage to Gladys, Christian-singer Matt Redmond would have to change his song from 10,000 Reasons to, at least, 100,000 Reasons.

Okay, here's our anniversary presents to each other.  We got each other new iPhones.  We can call and text each other, as well as take photos and videos to share.  

What's next?  Stay tuned.

Two Urban Chestnut beers were part of my pre-Father's Day haul in St. Louis

I've got a ton of pictures to go through from our long weekend celebration of our youngest grandson's first birthday which is coming up on Friday.  It took place in St. Louis where my son and his family live.  

During that time we had lots of time to get a perspective of the world from a one-year-old who's just starting to crawl and who already has a favorite app on his mom's iPad Mini.  Before I gather my thoughts about the weekend and share more, I have to post these two picture of two early Father's Day presents.

Here's a sampler of pictures one really smiley and precocious one-year-old.

It's two bottles of really great craft beer from the Urban Chestnut brewery in the city.  This place could turn me into a beer drinker.  I love the flavors, particularly Snickelfritz, a German white beer.  Here's the two I brought home with me.

Two Urban Chestnuts beers.
Are you a craft beer drinker? If you are, then you might like these from Urban Chestnut.


Baby-boomer dads: When was the last time you took out your son for a beer to talk politics and stuff?


A selfie with my 31-year-old son taken at a favorite craft brewery
It was Monday night and a good chance to talk politics and stuff over a Schnickelfritz beer.



Hey, baby-boomer dads have you ever taken your son out for a craft beer and listen to him talk about contemporary politics , politicians and political thought?  And while you're there you can talk about anything else as long as there's beer in your glass.

My son--Justin and I--did that last night.  The idea was just to get away from the crowd, drink a good beer and share what's happening in our lives.  Politics is a big part of everybody's lives and our son has had more than a decade of experience as a voter and more as a watcher of the political scene.

I wanted to listen.  I wasn't selling a point of view.  I wanted to learn where he was at in current political thought, including candidates.  He's a millennial and commentators and pollsters have tried to explain their point of view.  I wanted to learn more myself.

Given my background as a journalist, I'm a "who, what, when, where, how, why, so what" sort of guy.  My internal wiring allows me to come up with and ask questions easily.

What did I learn from our conversation?  A whole lot.  I'm just as proud of him now as I was when he was born.  He has a point of view and those match up between the two of us most of the time.  

The result:  My kinship with my son is closer than ever, but it's now an evolving level where we both are firmly adults.  We are both husbands, fathers and people who value family.

Would I recommend that other dads do this with their of-age sons?  Definitely.  I can't wait to have a beer with my daughter.



If you ever come here--Urban Chestnut--ask for Schnickelfritz.  Tell that I sent you.
With craft breweries, drinking beer is more experiential for your palate. My son introduced me to this small beer-maker.



Will your grandkids ever get their hands dirty from a freshly printed newspaper?




Are you old enough to remember the heyday of newspapers.  Trucks would deliver bundles of papers to your neighborhood where they would be picked up by "newsboys" who could either be boys or girls.

They would be delivered house to house in the neighborhood sometime in the afternoon.  And most moms would remind dads to not let the newsprint get on anything where the ink would wear off.  For the sports-minded kid who wanted to check box scores from baseball games, the paper would be the go-to place.  That meant dirty hands.

Now newspapers are going away.  As they move closer and closer to extinction, I wonder if my three grandchildren will ever hold a newspaper in their hands.  

It wasn't that long ago that newspapers were the eyes and ears for everyday citizens who wanted information about everything from the local city council  to Little League teams.  This is in addition to wire news about national and international happenings.

One of the real rushes when I worked for the Chicago Tribune was when a bundle of newspapers would be delivered to the newsroom.  It was a buzz to get a fresh newspaper that came off the press a few minutes before.  

When I went to the MSU School of Journalism, the old building it was housed in had a newspaper reading room with papers from throughout the country.  I could spend half a day going papers from big and small cities.

That time is gone.  It has been replaced by the web where news reporting has a faint resemblance to what is has been historically.  

I can't wait to take them through the Newseum in Washington, D.C. where they can get a close-up look at newspapers and journalism when it was a lifeline to our way of life.


Can a 68-year-old baby-boomer baby sit for his year-old grandson?


My grandson eats some of his lunch, applesauce and peaches from a tube.
Remember feeding your infant kids from baby food jars? Now it's tubes.


So guys--baby-boomers  born in the 40s and 50s--how long has it been since you've been left alone to take care of an infant grandchild, even for a few minutes?

No big deal, right?  You did it before when your kids were young.  What's the big deal?

Today, my son had to do a errand which meant that somebody needed to feed my year-old grandson lunch.  His mom and my wife were at a nearby park trying to get ready for a one-year-old birthday party.

I jumped at the chance to stay with him while he ate lunch in his high chair.  Piece of cake.  Then I thought about it for a few seconds.  The "what-if" questions sailed through my grandfatherly mind.  

His lunch which was more of a baby-brunch consisted of mixed fruit, a cheese stick and some Cheerios.  Remember baby-food jars?  They've been replaced with plastic tubes.  My grandson knew exactly what to do and emptied the tube in less than 30 seconds.  The cheese stick was made to baby specs with me breaking off little pieces.

He didn't fuss.  But he could have.  Do I remember what to do?  I think it would have come back.  

Do I want to do it again?  I can't wait.  

Okay I've said it: I'm an older baby-boomer guy who really like Pinterest


My Pinterest page has become really useful to me and I don't cook.
This is my Pinterest page.



Several years ago my son told me about this new website called Pinterest.  He works in the tech industry and using technology to make life easier is his passion.

I checked out the site, but didn't see any application that would be relevant to me.  There were pictures and links to a whole lot of delicious looking dishes.  I like to eat, but I don't like to cook.  So, it was a non-starter for me.

The years went by and interesting in using Pinterest grew geometrically.  My son put his annual Christmas list there.  If I wanted to see what he wanted for Christmas I'd just go there.  Facebook friends would share what they're pinning and then I saw the other side of the rubicon.

People were pinning everything.  I could see that it was becoming a compendium of source material for almost anything.  Then the light bulb went off in my head.  Pinterest had become a search engine with pictures.  I love it.  

I can not only find out about two of my favorite foods, oatmeal and brussel sprouts, but two of my favorite topics right now involve my vision, chronic dry eye disease and retinas.  It's all there.

To my brothers who are my age, older baby-boomers, I urge you to try it.  Nobody will anymore think you are getting girlie.  It's worth a look.

This is for guys who are about to become a new father-in-law or have just become one

Father of the Bride is a really funny movie with more than a few touches of relevance.
This is for the guy about to have a son-in-law join his family.

Dads, do you remember the first time you held your newborn daughter?  Did that beautiful little face with the fine features play strings on your heart that you never knew you had?

That's what happened to me when my daughter was born in the early 1980s.  When she was born my face turned into a major smile and my heart softened to the consistency of putty that sat out in the hot sun too long.

Fast forward to 2008 when she married a guy named Adam.  At the wedding rehearsal, I waited to practice walking her down the aisle.  She grabbed my arm and I heard Steve Martin's voice in my head where he talked about the same trip with his little girl.  

The movie is funny but it really shows the special nature of a father-daughter relationship.  She's my pumpkin.  She's beautiful and she walks on a special cloud that only daughters know about.

Son-in-laws are special to.  They are like eating Rice Krispies where some snap, crackle and pop is added to your life.  Mine has been worth the effort to get to know.  We've talked lots, argued some, drank a lot of coffee and beer.  

He's married to a special girl, my daughter, just like Steve Martin in the movie.  It's worth watching.  It's a pizza movie along with an an All Day IPA to drink.  I'm glad I found it at Amazon at a good price.

And when I'm done watching it, I will give the DVD to him who has a member of the next generation of beautiful daughters.  She's heavenly.  Stands to reason if you look at her mom . . . and her dad.


A picture right after I walked my daughter down the aisle.
This is a picture after I walked my daughter down the aisle. My son-in-law is on the right.

Are you thinking of joining the masses to get rid of your landline phone?

These are the television outlets available through Apple TV.
These are available to us through Apple TV and the internet.

We've seen our kids do it.  We've had friends do it and we've read about how more and more people are giving up their landline phones in favor of cellphones.  For a few years, we both nodded that such a move is something we need to check out.

After going through a mental checklist of questions about doing it, we took the plunge yesterday.  Our bundled phone service, internet and cable was costing us almost $160 a month through Comcast.  We decided that all we really need is internet service which would give us wi fi capabilities.  

We now have cellphones to make cell calls from home with one of them able to make automatic wi fi calls.  

Ala-carte television had also become part of our vocabulary and over the past few months, we have noted what we watch and have checked to see if it's available through an alternative source.  We also have Netflix and from time-to-time have had HuluPlus.  Many shows are also available through network websites the next day.  We can put them on our television through Apple Play.

How much do we save?  Robo calls seem to be gone.  And . . .we pay $59 a month for Comcast internet versus almost $160 before.  So far, I really like the change.


This is the front counter of our local Comcast office.
All it took to make the change was a visit to our Comcast office. The change in our service had been made by the time we got home.


Letter to my almost one-year-old grandson on his dad's 31st birthday

My youngest grandson and I share some good conversation.
When you were at our house last Thanksgiving, you and I had a lot of time to talk.

Dear Miles,

Today is a big day for you, your dad and your mom.  It's your dad's 31st birthday and I hope all of you can do some hooting and hollering to celebrate this special occasion.

Even though you won't be a year old for more than a week, at some point, you'll be able to look at the pictures and down the line read it.

I was right there when your Grandma Thorp gave birth to your dad on really early in the morning on June 10, 1984.  We lived just down the street from the hospital where he was born.  When Grandma knew it was time for him to be born, I suggested that we walk to the hospital.  It had been a very hot summer day.  With some conviction, Grandma suggested strongly that we take the car.

I dropped her off at the Emergency Room entrance and then parked the car.  Because your dad was in a hurry to join our family, Grandma was already in the room where you deliver babies.  Thinking that your dad would take hours to be born, I brought sandwiches, a couple magazines and a tape player.

A picture of your dad when he was a new infant.
This is your dad a few days after he was born.


Well, I didn't need any of that because as soon as I got to the delivery room, Grandma was giving birth to your dad.  I had to wear special clothes that were germ free as I heard the doctor say it was a boy.  Then the doctor handed me a pair of fancy scissors to cut his umbilical cord and he said cut.  And I did it.

Grandma and I started our family with the two of us.  When your dad was born, it grew to four.  His birth added to the excitement of being part of a family.  We had a daughter and now had a son.

There's plenty more that I can share about the day before he was born and the days after.

He's a special guy.  And so are you.  You are a winner and never forget that.

I love you,

Grandpa Thorp

Your dad and your aunt when your dad was an infant.
This is your dad being held up by your Great Grandma Thorp. Your Aunt Krista is on the right.


Keeping my promise: Getting my car serviced, lunch with a friend, thinking about a busy June

Post haircut selfie
More hair on my face than on my head after a haircut.

To keep my creative juices flowing, I challenged myself to write a blogpost everyday.  Today is pretty routine and very unexciting, but I'm sure it's not unlike the days of many others who are retired.  

In a few minutes, I leave for our Honda dealership to have my car serviced.  It's on the other side of town and I'll wait the hour or so that it takes for an oil change and whatever else they find done.  It's a Civic that has almost 90,000 miles.  I need to check if ours is one that has been recalled because of a faulty airbag.

Then, it's lunch with a friend.  We've been having lunch on the same day and same time for the past seven plus years.  We usually have a can of Progresso soup of some sort at his house and then spend some time talking about our lives and how we see God moving in them.  Occasionally, we watch a tv show like episodes of "24."

Then I come home.  I need to sort out the rest of a busy June where my son has a birthday, my two grandsons have birthdays and we have a wedding anniversary.  And there's Father's Day.  I'm not sure how relevant that is to me anymore.  I'm more of a "father emeritus."  Regardless, that's my day, so far.

Can God still use me at age almost 69-years-old?


A selfie with my wife at Ada Bible Church
This is a selfie I took of us just before the service started Saturday night at Ada Bible Church


I can't pinpoint the day when I first started wondering if God had retired me from serving him.  The question is becoming more pronounced as I get ready to turn 69 years-old in a couple of months.

At church Saturday night--Ada Bible Church--I listened carefully for Pastor Jeff Manion to say his sermon didn't apply to those over 65 and especially those getting darned awful close to 70.

The sermon was from Acts 13 about Barnabas and Paul being sent out from the early church in Antioch to share the story of Jesus to those in Cyprus and a handful of cities in Turkey.  It was the start of the spread of Christianity.  

He used that as a jumping off point to talk about how God is asking us to move in our daily lives.  And, it wasn't necessarily about moving to another part of the world, but in our daily lives.  For me, at times, it seems like such questions only apply to those who are younger.  

I didn't hear Pastor Manion say don't worry about this one if you are over a certain age.  I'm going to be thinking about his sermon this week.  How and where is God moving me?  Here's a link to a clip from the sermon.

I nominate my son-Justin Thorp-and son-in-law-Adam Jones-to be "Fathers-of-the-Year"


My son and son-in-law and me at Christmas in 2013.
I'm the short one in the middle with my son, Justin, on the left and Adam, on the right.



I remember when my son Justin and I met Ken Canfield, the author of the Heart of a Father, at a PromiseKeepers event in Chicago.  He was in the booth for the National Center for Fathering where he was the president. 

I bought the book and read it several times and then shared it with a big bunch of guys.  This happened just as people were still learning about websites.  They had one and I followed it for quite awhile.  

Time flew and I'm now a grandfather looking at my son with his almost one-year-old son and at my son-in-law Adam and his almost five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter.

I've had the privilege to watch them father their kids up close and from afar.  It would be an understatement to say that I'm impressed.  To be accurate, I'd have to say that the hand of God reached down and touched both of them to be the exemplary fathers that they are.  

My son and his son
My son and his son are buds. This really shows.


My grandchildren have dads, real dads who know how to love their kids and the mother's of their three children.  They are not afraid to get poop under their fingernails, change a wet bed or read stories until their voices become hoarse.

They enjoy being with their kids.  Every morning after my first grandson was born, I'd look at a picture of him and his dad walking around a running track with Adam holding a basketball and my grandson hanging onto his finger.  You could see the big smile on both of their faces.  My grandson was not quite a year old and had just started walking.  

Cutting, curing and storing wood for the winter is an annual event where they live in Bosnia.  Check the picture of the two of them splitting and stacking the wood.  There's one proud dad and a very proud son.

My son-in-law and granddaughter.
My granddaughter enjoys checking out tractors with her dad.


My granddaughter knows that she's the apple of her dad's eye and that he finds spending time with her a privilege even when she flexes her muscles as an independent two-year-old.  He's her cheerleader along with her mom, my daughter.

Now my youngest grandson who is almost a year-old is not at the splitting wood age, but he and my son bonded real early, like from the time he was born.  The two are tight.  

Justin holds him, plays with him, talks to him and has fun with a little guy who has a smile that can fill a room.  He knows his dad and he knows that his dad is in his corner.  

My son loves to cook.  During my daughter-in-law's challenging pregnancy, he cooked often.  He stepped in and showed his wife the real love that comes from faithfully filling and operating the dishwasher and washing clothes.

Getting a haircut from his dad.
My grandson is learning that dad's can cut hair too.


All three of my grandkids have dads who love their wives and who show it through their words and actions.  Their kids can take comfort from the fact that their dads put their wives on an elevated position which means their family will not be threatened.

And, finally, my son and son-in-law have God at the center of their lives.  They know that when they blow it that they are forgiven.  They are teaching this to their kids.

Now the National Center for Fathering has lots of categories for "fathers-of-the year", but I hope that they would consider these guys for consideration as Father's Day approaches.

And, one more thing, I hope that dads who have perpetuated a cycle of bad fathering can take comfort from this.  The cycle can be broken.  My father was a no-show.  He came from a long-line of bad fathering.  It can be stopped and these two guys are proof.

Getting a fire under my ass to write a blog post everyday

Me and my "24" t-shirt.
How many of you have a "24" t-shirt? I do and I wear it quite often.

 I can really find a whole lot of excuses to not blog.  I can tell myself that nothing is happening in my life that's blog worthy.  I can use the excuse of my eyes and not being able to see the way I'd like to.  The list could go on and on.

The kicker is that I like to write, but when I think about it my neurons go every which way about doing it later.  

Then I watched this video by Casey Neistat, a youngish New York City filmmaker, who shoots video mainly for YouTube.  His worldwide following is immense.  He has a daily vlog, a blog done with video that depicts his life with a great deal of transparency and artistry.  He's a real content creator who tugs at the interest of those who watch him.

In the vlog below, he talks about how he almost skipped that day's offering.  He had all kinds of excuses.  His life was pretty boring that day and he thought he might skip it.  

Then he changed his mind.  He needed to create video to keep his juices fresh.  So, he motored on with this offering.  He said, he needed to fire-up and create.  Go to the two-minute point in this vlog.  That's what I must do too.  So, here goes.