Norma at the Lake Lansing Road Meijers fed my son a lot of food twenty years ago

 

Meet Norma.
I couldn't believe that Norma was still greeting people at the Meijers on Lake Lansing Road in East Lansing.

 

Since we moved to a different part of town more than 15 years ago, we shop at a different Meijers here in the Lansing-area.  Going to this grocery store which sells everything has become a ritual in our family.

Twenty years ago my son Justin and I did the grocery shopping there.  It became a ritual for the two of us after complaining to my wife that she forgot to buy certain items.  When she offered to let us do it, we jumped at the chance.  It became a father-son bonding experience that made an impression on both of us.

One of the persons we got to know every Saturday was Norma, a sample person who offered free tastes of all kinds of food.  She loved his enthusiasm for trying most everything that was offered and occasionally would give him a double portion.  She always took time to talk to us.  We almost always bought whatever she was selling.  

Over the years, she became a door greeter.  We don't get to that Meijers often, but when we do and when we see her, we smile.  She adds greatly to our Meijers experience.  She's aware of everything in the stores, loves people and makes grocery shopping way more personalized.

It was great to see her yesterday.  I'm still smiling inside.  She brings back great memories from these Saturday excursions with my son where we both grew together and as individuals.  

I hope the people at corporate headquarters read this.  Norma is special.  She is an example of how to treat customers who come into the store.


Young parents: Would you use a smartphone app that would show baby and toddler friendly restaurants?

Posing at McDonalds in East Lansing.
It was a drizzly day and a perfect time to take our young grandson to McDonalds for a hot chocolate.

How do you find restaurants who understand and cater to the needs of young families, especially those with babies and toddlers?

I was reminded of the need for these when my son Justin, his wife Lauren and my grandson Miles visited for Thanksgiving last week.  After taking their son to the Michigan State University cow and sheep barns, we stopped at an East Lansing McDonalds for a hot chocolate.

We sat in a booth with a long table.  Our youngest grandson has graduated from sitting on your lap to moving, screeching and exploring.  It's just normal toddler stuff.  No problem at McDonalds, but what about other places.

Justin, in his Oatmeal Stout blog wrote about a restaurant near his home in St. Louis which was very aware of the importance of early weekend brunch time hours for toddlers with early awake times.  My son also casually mentioned the desirability of having an app that would be focused on finding restaurants and other businesses with the same kind of sensitivity to this special need.

Are there any apps like that out there in app-dom?  If not are there any developers who would be attracted to such a project?


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.

 


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.

 


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.


Here's the best advice I could ever give to my three grandchildren

 

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My felt tip marker reminder wore off, but it's still true. I am God's truly loved son.

 

What if I was sitting around the table for lunch with my three grandchildren, Xavier, Gretchen and Miles and they asked me what was the most important advice I could give them?

It's probably the most important thing I've learned in my six-plus decades of life.  It's a lesson that's like a scab that won't go away.  Every once in a while I pick at it and it reappears.  I guess I have to just stop picking and accept it.  

The idea is not brand new to me, but I never heard put this simply.  Our pastor, Jeff Manion, of Ada Bible Church, was in the second part of a series on Ephesians called People of the Way.  It was on identity and how we get it.

He got to Ephesians 1:5 where the Paul, the apostle writes about how God, in love, adopted us as his sons and daughters.  He is our father.  

I had trouble imagining God as my father.  Sounds nice, but, I could never call him up and ask him out for a craft beer or a coffee and just talk.

And, then Jeff said, 

Remember Who You Are

I am a treasured son of the Almighty God.  He picked me up.  He saved me.  My primary identity comes from him.  That's what I want my grandkids to remember and never forget.  Tattoo it on your arm or on your hand. Make it someplace where you are always reminded.

Do I believe it?  Yes, I choose to believe it.  God is becoming more real to me.


Was Zeek Braverman from Parenthood television series a good dad?

I just saw this great question on Facebook.  Was Zeek Braverman the patriarch of a big family on Parenthood a good dad?  

What makes a good dad?

I look at my son Justin and my son-in-law Adam and I see great dads.  They are there for their kids.  Their kids know they are loved and accepted by their dads.  I love looking at pictures of them with their kids.  

What about Zeek?  Good dad?  Why?

 

Zeek Braverman.  A good dad?
Here's a great question about a television dad.

 

 


I will have at least one six pack of Founders Dirty Bastard Ale when my son comes this weekend

 

Scotch ale
The words Dirty Bastard take on a new meaning with this beer from Founders

When I became of age, fancy beer-drinking was having a Shlitz in a frosted mug.  Then there was the Miller's beer that came in a clear bottle.

My thirty-year-old son introduced me to craft beer this summer in St. Louis when his son was born and we stayed there a week.  He took me to the Urban Chestnut beer hall where they served me their Schnickelfrtz and visited Schafly's not too far away.  Later we made a return visit with my son-in-law.  I really picked up on the difference in tastes.

My son and his family are coming this weekend and I'm stocking up with some Michigan craft beer.  First choice is Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale.  

I'm not good as describing tastes, but it's has a personality and a flavor that speaks to me.  He and I drank it when he and the fan visited over Thanksgiving.  

What other Michigan craft beers should I stock up with before they come on Friday?


Why did Toyota put the spotlight on dads with its Superbowl ads?

My son and his son at the computer.
My son Justin is a hands on dad. Check out the look on both of their faces. They are close.

There seems to be a revolution going on right under our noses in cultural thinking about the role of dads.  Ten years ago this new thinking about fathers surfaced and then it seemed to go away.

This past weekend, Superbowl ads by Toyota billboarded this new fatherhood movement that has been gathering steam around the country.  The ads made dads look important and billboarded their role in the family and in the lives of their kids.  The commercials were classy and not cheesy.

My son is tied into a group of young dads around the country who are there for their kids and for their wives.  My son-in-law is the same way.  One of my favorite pictures is one of him and his son who was still a toddler.  In one hand, he held a basketball and in the other, he held his son's hand as they walked around a track.

There are many more examples from around the country, including dad's groups which are starting to supplant mom's groups.  

I'm sure that Toyota did plenty of research before they produced their Super Bowl ads.  So, what did they see about their customer base.  Young dads who are active in their kids' lives?  I bet that was the case.

Grandfathers:  It would be fun if somebody did ads like that for us.  What about Honda?  Are you listening?  Lots of baby-boomers driving Hondas.


Did Promise Keepers make a difference in the spiritual lives of men?

 

Promise Keepers in Las Vegas
My son Justin and I attended Promise Keepers in Las Vegas 11 years ago this weekend. He's standing in front of the venue for the event. 

Promise Keepers (PK) is becoming a fuzzy memory for me.  I attended my first PK event back in the mid-nineties in Indianapolis.  At the time, it was an eye-opener for me to be in a stadium filled with guys for a Christian event to help them grow closer to Jesus Christ.

After that, my son Justin and I went to 10 more events, in various parts of the country.  They were all filled with men looking for spiritual growth.  

Eleven years ago this weekend, he and I went to PK in Las Vegas.  It was a great father-son weekend where we were able to listen, talk and hear great teaching from God's word.  It was an unlikely setting for a major Christian men's gathering.

This makes me wonder about PK and what effect it had on men.  Did it make a difference in their lives and in their relationship to Jesus?  The movement has pretty much fizzled out.  

What about my grandsons?  Will they ever have a chance to do that with their dads?  Will they see that there are thousands and thousands of men around the country who believe in Jesus?

I hope so.


QUESTION: Are you watching the Braverman family on Parenthood tonight?

Dinner
Television's Braverman family have dinner together. Their last season starts tonight.

 

Are you watching the Braverman's on Parenthood with its first episode of the season tonight will billboard a functional family that struggles with elements of dysfunction.

I'm most intrigued by the family patriarch, Zeke Braverman, and the role that he plays in setting the tone for the family that seems to stick together through thick and thin.

Check out these 10 reasons that you might wish to be a Braverman.


As a dad and grandfather, I should be dancing through the streets right now

If the past month with our kids and grandkids is a hint of what heaven's going to be like then I think I'm going to like it there.  

My daughter and her husband and their two kids have been at our house for a month plus.  They live in Eastern Europe and are back in the United States for a few months.  We've had a chance for some serious grandparenting time and have seen firsthand how much our daughter that I used to call "super-pumpkin" has grown as a full-fledged adult.  Her husband is an amazing guy and one who I've forged a solid friendship with.

During this time, we all trekked down to St. Louis where our son and his wife live along with their newborn son.  There were so many special times where just enjoyed being with each other, including a special "father-son and son-in-law" time at the Urban Chestnut Brewery in the city.

I know that family routines have been toppled a little, but the time together has been magical for me.  I see more clearly than ever the importance of family and I see how much I have to thank God for.

I kind of feel like Zeke Braverman of the Parenthood television show who play the role of a patriarch in his family.  My response is simple.  As I would tell my four-year-old grandson, "super-cool, awesome, amazing."  You get the idea.  

2-0

 

4.0

3-1

5.

6.0

2.1


My son-in-law has a special "father-son" moment at a half-marathon in Michigan

Our family minus three
During a visit from our daughter in her family, my son-in-law ran a half marathon. At the end, it turned into a special "father-son" moment

A half-marathon is a special event all by itself and my son-in-law Adam Jones made it even more special as he approached the finish line of the race.  Our grandson has a special relationship with his dad and that stood out in bold relief as Adam scooped up his son about 50 yards in front of the finish line.  He carried him across.  The smiles from both father and son spoke tons about the moment.

 


With my grandkids, learning the old art of throwing water balloons

 

IMG_1550
Have you ever thrown water balloons with your kids?

 

 

Our grandson and granddaughter from Bosnia are learning the basics of a fun life, like throwing water balloons where they burst on contact.  It's something that every kids needs to know.  They are having fun.  Next year, we are going to recruit our St. Louis grandson Miles who will be one year old.


What can I say about my son--Justin Thorp--and his newborn son Miles?

My son and my very new grandson Miles
I'm sure that my new grandson Miles and his dad will be like two peas in a pod.

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.


Going to St. Louis with my wife to meet our new grandson "Miles Thorp" was a real joyride

IMG_1400
Gladys gets to meet her new grandson.



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Check mom and son and dad and grandma.
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Two grandmas celebrate with a big hug.

Gladys and I were just sitting down to a living room lunch yesterday where we watch a Netflix television show everyday while we eat.  Then we got a call from our son Justin who said that his pre-born son Miles was soon to make his entrance into the world.

Knowing that we were fully mobile, he told us to pack a few things and hop in our car and head west to St. Louis and the hospital where Miles would be born.  Within an hour or so we were in the car heading out to meet the newest member of our expanding family who was getting ready to make an appearance.

We got there about seven hours before he was born.  As his arrival got closer, we checked into the birthing suite and gave a high five to our daughter-in-law Lauren who was getting prepared for the real hard part of the job.  Then Grandma Thorp, Grandma Morris and I went to the waiting room just around the corner.  We waited.  We visited.  We got the latest from Justin when he stepped out and we got his texts.

Then at 5:20 or so this morning, listening through the door, we heard the doctor say, "You've got a baby."  And then came the passionate cries of our newborn grandson.  His cries were loud and persistent.  

After a bath and other things to get him ready for visitors, we were invited to step in to see him, the new mom and our son who witnessed one of life's greatest miracles, the birth of your own child.

The grandmas held him and then it was my turn.  All I could think of was the great privilege of being part of a family.  I told him about how much his mom and dad loved him and how he was a real winner.  He pretended like he was sleeping.

I'm way over 10,000 Reasons to give thanks to God.  Meeting Miles was one.  There's his parents.  There's his extended family.

Gladys and I started our family as two a day short of our 33rd anniversary.  We are now nine.  Praise God.  My heart is still smiling.

 


Was it ever too late for my scum bag dad to become a great dad?

 

IMG_3912
"Baby Boy Thorp" will know he's loved and valued by his Dad--my son-- and by his Mom.  He will have a positive male role model and will learn how to become a man.

 

I kind of lost track of Focus on the Family and it's organization.  My wife and I listened to its radio program pretty faithfully when our kids were really young.  We learned a lot about everything form the strong-willed child to  how to discipline.

Dr. James Dobson retured and was replaced by Jim Daly who I had never heard much about.  Then I clicked on this tweet about how it's never too late to become a great Dad.  I've thought about that issue a lot over the years because of my birth father who deserted my Mom and me when I was a toddler.   He never came back, never called, wrote or did anything to support us.  He was a true "Scum bag Dad."  

I found him when I was in my 20s.  He had a whole different family, lived on the other side of the country and had lots of money.  He totally rejected me.  His parting words to me involved a threat to my life and then I left.  

The question I often wondered about was whether he could have moved the daddy needle from being a scumbag to being a real dad.  Can anybody else relate to this?

Jim Daly of Focus on the Family comes from a no-dad background.  And in this intereview with Christianity Today, he talks about his experience in plain terms that I can relate to.  He learned how to be a man and how to be a Dad by default.  He had no male role models.  

If this type of experience matches yours or that of somebody you know, this might be helpful.  This is a  multi-layered topic that reeks with emotion that most guys don't want to show.

Which end of the spectrum are you on, Dad or Son?  Daughter?


For my 50th high school class reunion, they asked what I was most proud of

Inside the invitation to my 50th high school class reunion this fall was an insert asking me to write a short piece about my last five decades of life since I left T. L. Handy High School in Bay City, Michigan.  It's for a memory yearbook for each member of the class of 1964.

One of the items they want each class member to share is accomplishments and awards.  They also asked everybody to talk about the jobs they've had.  I've had a bunch since I left high school.

For me, there's only one answer.  It's my family and my kids.  Father's Day is a strong reminder of how I feel every other day of the year.  It would take a big server with gigabytes of space to hold all the memories and there's unused space for more.

It started with my wife and me and then came my daughter and then my son.  Then there was a son-in-law, a grandson, a daughter-in-law, a granddaughter and a pre-born grandson who is coming real soon.

I feel like Matt Redmond in his song 10,000 Reasons to thank and praise God.  At this point, I can find way more than that number.  I'm still counting.  Thank-you God, bigtime.

 

Earlyfam
Six month old Justin, Krista and my wife Gladys

 

Xavierandme2
This was from an e-card that I got this morning. This was taken in Vienna, Austria.

  

Justinlaurengladys
Gladys looks at great shot of Justin and Lauren.

  

Justinandme
I love this father-son picture taken long time ago.

 


My son Justin is getting excited for the arrival of his son Baby Boy Thorp

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My son and his wife will meet their son soon.

 When I woke up this morning I clicked on this link to pictures of dads taken of them with their new baby.  I scrolled through each one and I read what each one had to say about the moment.  I know that Justin's getting excited to be a dad.

There's nothing like the anticipation of meeting and holding your new child.  I was able to have that experience two times.  Now it's his turn.  I am excited for him and for his wife Lauren.  Words can't describe how happy I am for them.  

I'm still feeling my way around in my position as a grandfather.  I never saw a job description. And I never knew my grandparents.  I too can't wait to meet Baby Boy Thorp.