Can you guess what I'm doing in this picture; DUIL test, e-cigarette, medicinal marijuana?


I've been holding back on returning my DNA test kit.  Why?  

Probably for the same reason my wife and kids have never really seen me without a beard.  My ethnic background for most of my life has been shrouded in mystery at least for 50 percent of me.  I know with some degree of certainty that my mom came from a German background.  My dad?

My wife researched my paternal background and to my surprise her research showed what appears a deep English background that goes back to the time of the Pilgrims.  

Then came DNA testing.  What if I find that I'm from a Bulgarian or Bolivian background with a touch of Paraguay?

Well, Saturday, I submitted my saliva test where I had to spit into a tube.  Now I wait six weeks.

We have a real reason to celebrate in our household today

Our grandkids
This is a shot of some of Gladys' favorite people

Sure there's a big party in Washington, D.C. today, but there's even a bigger one here at our house.  Today is my wife Gladys' birthday.  With our kids and grandkids in other states, I'm sure we will make good use of FaceTime.  In addition, there will be calls from her siblings.

My wife is special-special and I feel that God handpicked for me.  Through my occasional grimaces, I know that my life has never been better nor could it be.  How's that?  It's because of her.

There will be no red carpets in front of our house today, but there will be 10 people in our immediate family who adore her.  

Thank-you God for Gladys and for the love you have shown both of us.

What about your son-in-law?


My son-in-law and daughter.
Meet my son-in-law Adam Jones who turned 36 today and my daughter Krista.


I've heard lots of banter among baby-boomer guys about their sons-in-law.  It's easy to laugh at all the son-in-law jokes circulating among baby-boomer age guys.  

My son-in-law Adam Jones turned 36 today and my thoughts constantly turn to how my daughter nailed it with her choice of guys.  I've watched him up close and from far-away in his roles as a husband and a dad.  I've seen his values.  He loves God and Jesus Christ and then my daughter and their three kids.  

I'm a picture-taker when around family, our kids and grandkids.  I love looking at pictures of our son-in-law and family along with our son and his family.  I see picture after picture where Adam is showing love and involvement with his kids.  He and our daughter are leaving a footprint wherever they go.

His birthday today is worthy of mention and celebration.  He's a quality person and I'm happy that he married my daughter more than eight years ago.

So, "Happy Birthday Adam."

Have I ever given him a rough time?  Oh yeah.  But, we both had patience with each other.  It's time for me to pass-on my copy of the movie Father Of The Bride to Adam and my son.

My six-year-old grandson shows how to make an omelet on four short videos

While our son-in-law was away on a short business trip this fall, we visited our daughter and their three kids.  Our oldest grandson-six years old--and his dad are tight.  My son in law has always shown him how to do lots of stuff, including cook.

One morning my wife asked our grandson what he wanted for breakfast.  He said an omelet.  My wife said she wasn't very good at flipping them.

He responded, "Grandma, I'll show you how I do it."  My wife was a little leery about his cooking skills.

These videos show the steps he took.  Notice how he grooves to some inner music by dancing around and then in step 4, see how he flips it.  It was a great job.


Do you have an aunt or uncle who really influenced your life?


My son and Aileen talking.
Her legacy carries to my two kids. Here my son Justin talks with Aunt Aileen about the chicken he is roasting for her and Ron. She encouraged his love of cooking and eating.



I was trying to think about how my Aunt Aileen Anderson influenced my life.  She was one of twelve kids in my mother's family who grew-up on a sugar beet farm in Michigan's Thumb and she died Wednesday at age 91 in a senior care community in West Virginia where she lived to be near her daughter Colleen.

Aileen was always part of my life.  My mother was close to her younger sister.  They talked and visited each other often.  When I was a very young boy and my mother was sick in the hospital I stayed at her house where she and her husband Ron raised three children.  They were married 71 years.

How did she influence me?  The first thing that comes to mind is her gift of hospitality.  My most clear memories of her involve food, sitting around a table at her house and eating a delicious meal and always feeling welcomed.  She always had a smile and loved talking about how she cooked each course to make it as healthy as possible.

I was always struck by the energy with which she lived life.  She was fully engaged with her immediate family and with her siblings and their families.  Right beside her always was her husband Ron.  They were a team that shared each other's life with meaningful mutual conversation and with support for each other when it was needed.  They were there for each other.

When my mom and I were in a serious car accident in the late 1950s, Aileen was right there to make sure my seriously injured mother was watched over and taken care of and that I had a place to stay before my mom got out of the hospital.

I remember when their son Kent had a tragic death, Ron and Aileen were each other's constant support.

One more thing comes to mind.  She told everybody about her faith in Jesus Christ and why it was important to her.  It was the most important thing in her life, followed by her husband and her kids.  Some may have winced when they heard it.  She'd smile and remind you that you need to hear and believe and depend on it.  That faith was the source of strength and hope that she relied on everyday of her life.

Why do I mention this?

I was born and raised by a single-mom who was a saint.  Aileen and Ron who died last year gave me a template for everyday living and loving that has stayed with me.  I'm part of their legacy.

Krista, Aileen and Jacob.
My daughter Krista with my Aunt Aileen holding my grandson Jacob.



Happy Birthday from a proud father-in-law to his daughter-in-law


I'm really proud of my daughter-in-law--Lauren Thorp--who celebrates her birthday today.  She might be a number of states away but we are thinking of her and thanking God that she's part of our family.  She loves God, our son and their two kids and constantly shows love for extended family members.

As a parent, my heart smiles when I watch my son's family develop and grow.  With Lauren, I've never seen Justin happier.  They really complement each other.  They share the same values.  They have many of the same interests.  She supports him and vice versa.  

They are entering new chapters of their lives as they further establish themselves.  They will face plenty of new issues.  But, I'm confident that they will do it with aplomb.

Happy Birthday Lauren.  Enjoy the day.  Gladys and I are really proud that you are part of the family.

Here's a great way to keep your toddler occupied for a while on a long plane ride

A goodie bag of dollar store toys for our one-year-old grandson.
This is the goodie bag that my daughter-in-law had for our one year-old grandson on a flight to Eastern Europe.

A year ago today, my son, our daughter-in-law, our grandson, my wife and I were on a plane to Stockholm where we had a layover for a flight to Croatia.  We were traveling there to vacation with our daughter and family who lived in Eastern Europe.

The challenge was how to keep a newly-minted one-year-old entertained on a trans-Atlantic flight.  They can get cranky and sometimes real cranky.

My daughter-in-law, Lauren Thorp, is one of the more creative people I know.  She can take a handful of old treasures and turn them into something beautiful that you just want to stare at and smile.  

She did that on this flight.  During the course of the trip we passed the baby.  That's when we each got into our bag of goodies she put together.  They were little dollar store toys and little neat things, including little pieces of tape.  The idea was to have a stockpile of attention diverters for my young grandson.

Did it work?  Almost.  Close.  He was too young.  The tape was a hit.  I could put it on his foot and he would pick it off.  That lasted for a few minutes.

I just bet that with him being two, he'd stay entertained longer.

By-the way, Lauren is the founder of Umba Box, a national subscription box service for curated handmade items.  Really cool stuff.

Fathers-in-law need to say "Happy Father's Day" to their sons-in-law

My son-in-law Adam Jones
My son-in-law Adam Jones poses for a picture with a new friend he met in Vienna, Austria

A relationship between a father-in-law and son-in-law has a very special dynamic that needs to be learned, especially if he married the daughter that made you walk on clouds from the time that she drew her first breath outside the womb through an archive that is crammed full of cherished memories.  That father-in-law/son-in-law relationship can be very delicate and needs to be handled with care, but, also, with utmost honesty and patience along with redemption.

This Father's Day I have to send special greetings to my son-in-law Adam Jones.  He and my daughter Krista have three wonderful kids.  The depth of this guy's character has been shown to me through so many ways, especially through the way he relates to and loves his kids.  

My memory bank is filled with pictures and videos of him showing love to his kids.  He's a hands-on dad who has changed his share of diapers, played lots of Candyland and provided loving guidance when needed.

He and I have drank gallons of coffee together and sampled more than a few beers working to get to know each other.  I am proud of him and I'm proud to call him my son-in-law and my friend.  

This morning he and his family are visiting his family in North Carolina.  I hope he can fully enjoy this visit with his dad Dennis who has built a legacy that keeps on growing.


Without the guy on the right, I would have never been a father


My mom and dad's wedding picture
This is a picture of my mom and dad on their wedding day in 1945 

I've smiled a lot lately as I walk around our house.  It's the pictures of our kids and our grandkids that does it.  The only room in our house without their pictures is the bathroom.

They all make me smile and they heat up my heart to the point of having a big glow.  I love being a father.  There's never been anything better than this parenthood journey I've taken with my wife Gladys almost 35 years ago.  My daughter and my son have added a layer of love to my life that I had never experienced until we had them.  And that keeps on growing with a son-in-law and daughter-in-law and five grandchildren.

As the hands of our clock move into Father's Day tomorrow, I started thinking about my own father.  I was walking through the hallway of our upstairs and spotted the above picture.  It's of my mom and dad on their wedding day.  I only knew my mom.  She raised me and she loved me unconditionally.  My feelings towards my dad are complicated and have been shaped by his actions when I was a toddler.  I never really felt kindly towards him.

Then going by their picture this morning, the realization hit me.  Without him, I wouldn't have my great, one-of-a-kind wife, my kids, their spouses and my three grandsons and two granddaughters.  I would not exist.  I'm glad that I do.  

Perhaps, I need to say Happy Father's Day to him and to say thank-you.  I'm happy and I hope he had a chance to experience to same happiness of a wife, children and family.  

When my son was really young his favorite baseball player was Ernie Camacho of the Cleveland Indians

My son and I were talking about his baseball cards the other night when our conversation turned to Ernie Camacho, the retired reliever for the Cleveland Indians.  Justin and I would go through a pile of cards, looking at teams, player names and their stats.

He was in early grade school and when we did this, he'd always stop at Ernie's card.  I think he liked the way his name rolled off his tongue, plus he played for a team with cool looking uniforms.  

Whatever happened to Ernie Camacho?

Well, I think I've found out.  He apparently is a school maintenance guy in California and a prominent advocate for people with Alzheimers, a diseased which toughed his father.  

A CLARIFICATION:  My wife reminded me that my son was attracted to Camacho because my son was a Bert and Ernie fan from Sesame Street.

His name has never been forgotten by me or my son.  It would be fun to tell him someday.

These baseball cards bring back a flood of memories of collecting with my son


Making sure my son gets our baseball cards.
My son Justin and I went to countless baseball card shows. It's time to make sure he gets them.


As part of downsizing to a smaller house,  my wife and I have been going to almost 35 years of accumulation of stuff gathered while the kids were still living at home.  Both of our kids are grown adults and have kids of their own.  Some things in their rooms can go to Goodwill, some can be thrown away, while some needs to be passed on to them.

What about old baseball cards collected with my son starting while he was still in early grade school?  It started with buying a pack here and there at the neighborhood convenience store and grew to pretty regular attendance at baseball card shows.  They were fun to collect and it was something that we enjoyed doing together.

Now it's time to move them down the family line.  Justin has a two-year-old son who has already shown a fondness for wearing baseball caps.  I can see a little baseball mitt in his future and I can see Justin using baseball stats to help him get into numbers.

The cards carry some nostalgia and that's not bad.  It can be good.  It's part of our past that's worth remembering.

What should my grandkids know about me?

My grandpa book
My almost two-year-old grandson gave me this book to use to tell him about myself

We were sitting in the sun room of my son's home in St. Louis when he and my daughter-in-law gave me a special Father's Day present last year.  It was a small book that asked me a long list of questions about myself from the time I was a small child to my life as a husband and a dad.  The goal is to fill it out and then transfer the answers to a computer app to make a special book.

I've delayed filling out the book for the past year.  It got tucked behind other books on my shelf.  I've finally dug it out and want to start sharing about myself with my now almost two-year-old grandson and our four other grandchildren.

As I get ready to make the turn to being 70-years-old, I find my memory about things in the past getting fuzzier.  Now's the time to start sharing with those who carry some of my genes, three grandsons and two granddaughters.

One of the questions asks:

What were two major news events of your life?  How did you feel about them?  What influence did they have on you?

The answer is pretty easy.  The first is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  When it happened, I was in my high school typing class when the announcement about his murder was made over the school public address system.  I remember people starting to cry.  School let out and I went home.

This is long before the day of social media and cell phones.  For news, we had radios and black and white television.

The second news event was the 9/11 when terrorists flew passenger jets into the twin towers in New York City and into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. I was just walking into work when it happened.  It was on the television of the office building where I worked.  People were afraid.  They didn't know what was happening.

I will write more.  This is a start.  Those two events did help shape me.  

Our past week here in mid-Michigan in pictures

My summary of this past week would be dominated by the weather where normally we would be using the grill, giving the lawn a first cut and giving our car a good cleaning.  Instead, we have been flopping between snow, rain and some occasional sunshine.  These photos are from my phone and record some of the highlights.  

Most important was from the sermon at church last night where we heard Pastor Jeff Manion of Ada Bible Church  talk about "The Land Between." It was a reprise of a sermon we heard him deliver a few years ago.  We found it valuable then and more as we get older.  It's about the times when we find ourselves in unwanted transition of life.  Those might be related to health, family, jobs, marriage and any other situation we did not want or ask for.



What about those life changes that turn life upside down?
What does God's Word say about transitions that we're forced to make.





Books from Ding Dong School.
How many of you older baby-boomers remember the old television show "Ding Dong School?" I found these on our bookshelves this week.



Okay, older baby-boomers, do you remember Miss Francis and Ding Dong School?  This past week I was going through one of our book shelves and found these two books that were mine when I was really young.  My mom would read this to me.  Miss Francis was a precursor to Sesame Street.  It was on in the fifties.  



Special orange muffins.
These were made from a recipe that my mom used when I was a very young child.


My wife was sorting through an immense collection of recipes that she's used during the past almost 35 years.  This one for orange muffins was from my early boyhood days.  My mom made them on very special occasions, like maybe once a year.  They contained orange juice from freshly squeezed oranges, shaved orange peels and lots of sugar.  Gladys made them this past week. My memory machine was in full gear.



Milestone for our Honda Civic.
We turned over 100,000 miles this past week on our seven-year-old Honda Civic.


Our seven-year-old Honda Civic turned over 100,000 miles a few days ago.  The car has been relatively trouble free with our regular maintenance.  We have shaved down our fleet of cars to one.  Before the kids made us empty-nesters, we had four.  The Civic is great for visiting our kids and grandkids who live in different states.


We do our taco salads healthy style here at our house.  Nutrition is something we try to watch, especially as I move into my 70th birthday.  Most of our meals our consumed on our couch with a fold down middle section that we use for a table.  Most lunches are eaten in front of Everybody Loves Raymond.  

What about 20 weeks of paid parental leave for both moms and dads?

Twenty weeks of paid parental leave.
What about 20-weeks of paid parental leave?

It would be easy to slide right on by this story about how Twitter will be providing employees, both moms and dads, with 20 weeks of paid parental leave.  One could just smile and say that it's just one of those trendy tech companies.

But, then you look at the statistic about the effects of generous leave benefits on kids, moms and families.

Business Insider reports in a story:

Research out of Israel shows the more leave men take to care for children when they're young, the more the fathers undergo changes in the brain that make them better suited to parenting. And a study by two Columbia University Social Work professors found that fathers who take two or more weeks off after their child is born are more involved in their child's care nine months later. 

And with the more leave dads take, the more income a mom makes.  

Any talk about this issue and this benefit with more traditional businesses and corporations?

What did I say to my two-day old grandson while holding him for almost an hour?

Getting to know my grandson
Talking with my youngest grandson, two-day old Jacob Wesley Jones

My youngest grandson and I sat on the couch yesterday at his house talking for almost an hour.  Even though, he was only two-days-old, he's a good listener.  It was almost an out-of-body experience to hold the newborn child of your child.  This was the fourth time I've done it.  He's the third grandson.  I also have one granddaughter with another on the way this spring.

What did Jacob Wesley and I talk about?

We talked about his mom and how I was there when she was born just like his dad was there when he was born.  Knowing that his eyes were closed most of the time while we were talking, I told him that I had a beard as did his dad and his Uncle Justin.  Then we talked about his brother and sister and how he was born into a family that was filled with non-stop love.

We chatted about his Grandma Thorp and how great she is and what she has meant in my life and that of other people.

I told him about his Uncle Justin, Aunt Lauren and his cousin Miles.  We also talked about his other grandparents who live in North Carolina and how he would see them soon.  

There's still time to talk about Facebook ice cream, the Spartans, driverless cars, a guy named Goldwater and the Island of Vis.

After spending time with our daughter and family, I feel like I just won the grand prize in the state lottery.  I love being part of our family.  Having grandkids is like eating a big gooey carrot cake with thick creme cheese frosting.  They make me smile big time.

My new grandson and I share a name.  Wow.  His parents gave him my name for his middle name.  And I was named after my Uncle Wes.  I can't wait to tell him and my other grandkids about him and my other aunts and uncles and the my mother, a very special person in my life.

Yes, God has blessed me big time.  I'm way past the 10,000 Reason that Matt Redmond sings about.  

Jacob welcome to our family.

Our St. Patrick's Day has never been the same since March 17, 1982 when our daughter was born

My wife, my daughter and my son.
The little beauty on the right is our daughter Krista who was born on St. Patrick's Day in 1982. The baby being held by my wife is our son Justin.  Check the baby below, our daughter when she was three months old.

Dear Krista,

It's 8:48 am and mom and I have been talking about your birth 34 years ago today.  And we've also gone through a checklist of memories since that day.  One of my favorites from that era was from the period right after your brother was born.  Mom would be feeding Justin and I would put you to bed.  

But before I turned out the lights in your room, you would ask me every night to talk about the day you were born and I would tell you.  The more we talked about that day, the closer I got to appreciating life and what it means.  That process started the day when mom went for one of her first pregnancy checkups and I heard your heartbeat.  I know that my eyes lit up big time from the realization that there was a life in there.

Then you were born.  During labor I saw a side of mom that I had never seen before.  After being in the hospital for about twelve hours, I saw the top of your head.  They rushed mom to the delivery room and told her that if she had one big push, you'd be here.  She grabbed onto the handlebars of the cart and gave it everything she had.

Dr. Rajan then smiled and said we have a daughter.  He sat you on mom's belly and then cut your umbilical cord.  And you really wailed with  your lower lip curled down.

Those were your first moment in this world.  Keep in mind that I was an only child and held a baby maybe one time before.  I pushed your bassinet down to the nursery after mom nursed you.  It was a proud moment in my life, comparable to the time when I walked you down the aisle.

That was the start of an adventure where there are still chapters to be written.  You are a wonderful mom, a loving wife and great daughter.  

As you get closer to delivering "Al", I want you to know that you have been a world-changer in our family.  You and your brother Justin are gifts from God who knew exactly which kids we needed.

We are proud to call you our daughter.




I'm still smiling from our family get-together over the weekend


My wife and daughter.
I am proud of both of these women, my wife and my daughter.

 I don't know when I lost my natural smile, but I know when I refound it.  My grandkids played a big role in helping me find my way back to my inner and outer smile.  I'm still smiling from this past weekend when we were all together.  I can't believe that this all started with just my wife and me and now there are eleven of us.

I'm often reminded of the song 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redmond where he talks about having that many reasons to praise God.  I've wondered how long it would take me to get to that number if I sat down and made a list.  Would it take more than a morning?


My wife, our youngest grandson and me.
My wife and I spend some time sitting with our youngest grandson.
Playing with bubbles.
There's nothing like playing with bubbles when you are a toddler.



I was really flattered when my son asked to take a selfie with me and then put it on Instagram

A selfie with my son.
My most recent selfie with my son Justin.

Do you have any selfies with your kids, grandkids, siblings, pastors, doctors or others?

This past weekend our family of eleven had a get-together.  We celebrated family, kids, birthdays in the past and yet to come and how much we have all been blessed.  

While in my daughter's kitchen, my son pulled out his iPhone and told me he wanted a selfie of me and him.  What a compliment!  He then put it on Instagram.  I'm really proud of my whole family, but I carry a special pride for my son Justin Thorp.  We've had a close relationship from the day he entered the world with his umbilical cord still attached.

In addition to being a stellar son, he's an amazing dad and husband.  He's a hands-on dad and is not afraid to get poop under his fingernails.  

I love selfies taken with others,  I've got many with my wife, with my grandkids and even my ophthalmologist who performed a tricky surgery on my right eye.

We just got in from our one mile RunKeeper walk before Winter Storm "Al" hits


A selfie with Gladys.
A selfie right after we finished our walk in the neighborhood this morning.



With the coming of Winter Storm Al today, we decided to walk early before the snow and ice comes.  Our neighborhood had just become walkable and then the weather changed.  If weather forecasters are right, I should get plenty of exercise today and tomorrow blowing snow.  

Before it accumulates too much, I have to read about taking time lapse videos with my iPhone.  

Has anybody tried that?  How'd it work?

Why Winter Storm Al?  Before they were born, we gave each of our grandkids a codename.  Our daughter Krista is pregnant with a boy.  We started calling him Samson and then we found that he was really a pretty pathetic character.  Not a good name.  Then we changed to Al.  We'll know our new grandson's name in a month or so.

Now it's time to wait for the snow to accumulate.  We are told an inch an hour.

The time has come for me to be honest about my story and its effect on my life


My family.
We started with my wife and me and we are now up to eleven.

The time has come for me to be honest about my story.

I’ve really struggled to put my life into words.  I feel like I’m sitting in an airplane with a barf bag over my mouth trying to vomit and very little is coming out.

I’m at the point where I need to stick my fingers down my emotional throat to admit what’s been a big part of me all my life and to draw this part of my life story to a close.

This involves changing the name of my father on my birth certificate.  I’ve come to the point where I have to admit to the world and me who my real dad is.

Let me be clear by using a churchy word.  I have been blessed beyond measure all my life.  Starting from the present, I have a wife who has loved me unconditionally for more than three decades.

My two kids are great.  They have wonderful spouses and my five grandchildren make me smile always.  We’ve always had a house and we’ve always had food to eat.

Along the way, I had a mom who was heaven sent.  She too loved me without condition and she gave up everything to see that I had a chance at life.

The sticking point for me has always been my father.  He abandoned me and my mother when I was 18 months old.  He walked out, never came back, never called and never wrote.  He vanished.

This happened in the forties when social services were non-existent and when it was just tough luck when a spouse skipped out.  

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