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Yup! I am turning 40

December 8, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

A milestone is described as a “significant event or stage in the life, progress, development, or the like of a person, nation, etc.”

Last December, I wrote an article regarding my milestone birthday of 39. The age of 39 has been, for lack of a better word, a special age for me. My mom was 39 years old when she passed away from cancer back in 1978.

Many of us use our parent’s age of death as a watermark for our own lives and with my mom passing away at such an early age, my siblings and I had that age in the back of our minds…until we passed it.

In a few short weeks I will turn the BIG 4-0.

My sister-in-law, with whom I share an identical birthday with, sent me a link to an article titled “40 Signs you’re Almost 40”. (And by identical, I mean we were born on the same day, same year and in the same hospital)

Some of the items I could relate too, others made me laugh and some made me think. Lucky for me, some did not apply, but I know that it does not make me any younger, regardless. I picked a few of them to comment on.

“Your favorite bands from high school now play on Classic Rock stations.” For me, the answer is both yes and no. Some of my favorite bands were already on the Classic Rock station back in the day and they still are! But my music varies so many of my favorite bands were not “rock” bands, so they are played on other music stations.

“Your favorite TV shows play on Nick at Nite”. Obviously this is true. But thanks to cable, they just aren’t on Nick at Nite, they are on a variety of stations. Even better is that some shows are on several channels at the same time!

“You still have a CD collection”. You bet I do! For years my wife has asked me trim my collection, and I have, but I still have many CD’s. I do not use an i-pod or purchase music on-line; I am just not that hip. I still listen to the radio or CD’s in my car and do not subscribe to XM or SIRIUS radio.

“You have not purchased a CD by a new artist in years”. That is true. We have purchased a few CD’s for our daughter’s, however, but none for ourselves. I cannot remember the last time I purchased one for myself.

“You bought your first pair of over the counter reading glasses”. NO! I have worn glasses since I was in the sixth grade. I tried contacts once and just didn’t like it. I guess my next obstacle may be bifocals, but for now, my eyes and glasses suit me just fine!

“Your shoe selection has become more and more sensible”. I do not think I am there yet. I do wear my “comfy shoes” around the house and rarely wear tennis shoes anymore. If I find a pair of shoes that I like, I wear them until they are declared a Federal disaster area. I wear what shoe best fits my feet regardless of style or name brand!

“You increasingly enjoy playing the game “remember when”. Now this one is a total YUP! I am told I have a great memory about things that happened years ago, so I play this card all the time. I feel like I am a walking encyclopedia on events that happened long ago.

“You don’t really understand how to watch MTV anymore”. This one is totally true. MTV stands for music television, yet they never play music.

“You’re now older than every player on your favorite baseball team”. All the current Detroit Tigers are younger than me, but the new manager is older, so that helps.

“You go around the house turning off all the lights”. Guilty. I have two young daughters. They always leave the lights on!

“Waitresses and waiters card you to get a good tip and not because you don’t look over 21”. Yea, this never happens. I guess I just look too cheap as I never seem to get carded!

“Sitting has become preferable to basically any other activity in life”. Oh yes, there are days when this is the case. Give me my recliner, remote control and laptop and I am in heaven!

Turning 40 is defiantly not a “mid-life crisis” moment for me, but I do realize that I am getting older and I look forward to whatever adventures I have yet to take! I just may move a little slower as I do them!

Thanksgiving musings

December 1, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. While the actual holiday may be over, I am still feeling pretty thankful for a number of reasons. I have a great family, beautiful wife and daughters, terrific friends and a job I have always dreamed of. The list could go on and on, but you get the point.

I am still feeling a little bit stuffed from one of the best Thanksgiving dinners I have ever had. Turkey, potatoes, side dishes, salad, rolls and pies, it was a meal to remember. I am not so sure what made it better than previous meals, but it just had the “IT” factor going on, and I enjoyed it. I may have helped myself to a few “second helpings” (guilty as charged) and I am quite sure that I was snacking on leftovers later in the evening too! I love Thanksgiving!

Of course, having the Detroit Lions winning their first game on Thanksgiving Day in many years was also nice, especially since my mother-in-law is a Green Bay Packers fan. Luckily neither of us is a poor winner or loser, so the game was just that, a game, but it was still nice to see the Lions destroy the Packers.

I realize of course, that the “great” Aaron Rodgers was not playing. If your team is built around just one player, you reap what you sow. I honestly do not buy the argument that the Packers just cannot function without Rodgers, but either way, GO LIONS!

Another reason that I am thankful is that neither my wife nor I have the urge to get up SUPER early to stand in line outside stores for a chance at a good deal. And there would be no way in “you know where” that we would camp outside for days to save a few bucks. We pride ourselves on watching our money and cutting corners where we need too, but we agree that being one of those Black Friday shoppers is just not in the cards for us. We did it once and that was enough.

I have no problem with others doing it, however. If that is fun for you, by all means do it. I would rather stay home; hang with the family and putting up the tree and decorating the house, which is what I was told we would be doing over the next few days. I usually venture out later in the afternoon on Black Friday and pick up a few things, but even then, it is not a “must do” for me.

As we were heading down to the in-laws on Thursday morning, our oldest daughter said something that made us proud as parents. Out of nowhere (or maybe it was due to the Christmas music playing in the car), Hannah said, “Do you know why I am excited about Christmas?”

Expecting to hear the typical refrain of presents or some other reason that children love the Christmas holiday, Hannah said that she likes the fact that she gets to spend time with everyone in her family at Christmas.

As a parent, if that doesn’t melt your heart, there is something wrong with you! Living in a society that is focused on “me, me, me” it was heartwarming to hear my daughter say that.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday. Now I must head to the basement to dig out the Christmas decorations!

I have met the Grinch

November 17, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

If you have any doubt as to whether the Grinch is real, I can attest that he is and he looks nothing like the green creature with the heart three-sizes- too-small that we see on TV.

For my family, the Grinch was a middle aged man (I might be a little too generous with that comment) who tried to dampen our spirits at the annual Holiday Parade in downtown Kalamazoo this past Saturday.

Arriving at the parade at least 30 minutes before kick-off, we, along with my sister-in-law, staked out a spot that seemed pretty nice. We were on a corner “island” that fit the five of us pretty comfortably. What I failed to realize was that, when the police closed off the streets, people would surround us. But even then, we had a spot right on the street, so the people around us were not going to be a problem.

Well, not a problem, that is, until they began to inch closer and closer toward the street, rather than staying even with the curb. The crowd kept moving forward to the point where we could no longer see the parade route to our right and our visibility was shrinking in front of us right before our eyes.

While we were irritated that people, both children and adults, were moving in front of us to watch the parade, we hoped that it was temporary and they would move by the time the parade started. Most of them did.

As my girls sat on the curb anxiously waiting to see the parade, a woman with a stroller and a few other children parked herself right in front of my girls. After we asked if they could please move out of the way of our girls, they grudgingly moved over, enough so that my girls could see at least right in front of them.

A few minutes later, the Grinch walked over from the spot where he had been standing for at least 20 minutes and stood in front of the girls. This ticked me off. We were the first ones in that area, and I know for a fact that he saw us all there, including my children.

I was about to ask him if he could kindly move because he was blocking the view of my children from the parade. Before I could say a word, he yelled out to some of his friends and said “come up here, you can see great here,” or something along those lines.

I was fed up by this point and said, “No, you are standing right in front of my children and they can’t see. Can you go stand somewhere else?” The Grinch shot me a look and mumbled a few things to me as he moved back into the crowd.

I was so fired up that I kept talking. I told him that we had been sitting in these spots for nearly 45 minutes and I found it rather rude that he thought it would be a good idea to stand in front of my children who were trying to watch the parade.

I never swore or raised my voice, but rather made my points in a “matter of fact” kind of way. The last thing I wanted to do was to start a brawl at a parade, especially with my children there.

I thought the entire situation had died down when I heard the Grinch say, rather loudly, that people needed to be careful because the “parade police” were around.

I looked over and he said to me, “You are a bad parent.”

At first I just smiled and continued watching the parade. The Grinch said again, “You are a bad parent.” I looked back and said that, if my asking a grown man to move out of the way of my daughters’ view so they could enjoy the parade made me a bad parent, then yes, I am a bad parent.

The Grinch faded back into the crowd and then disappeared from our area. Did I mention that those around us were not as kind to him as I was?

I guess I was not sure what to make of the whole situation, but in this instance, I will gladly take the “bad parent” title if it means my children came out as the winners and a grown man who should have known better was put in his place.

See ya, Jim

October 28, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

The Jim Leyland era has officially ended in Detroit. As you have most likely heard, the gruff but emotional manager resigned from his position just two days after the Boston Red Sox ended the Tigers hopes of a World Series berth.

I am pretty bummed by the news. But at the same time, I am glad that he made the decision to walk away rather than being fired. Even with the Tigers failure to make it to the World Series this year, I was pretty sure that he was going to be back next season.

Many people have been calling for his ouster for years, but I was not in that camp. I respected him and I liked him as manager of the Tigers. Growing up in the Sparky Anderson era, he kind of reminded me of Sparky.

There are many obvious differences between the two, but to me, both men just seemed like they belonged in a Tiger uniform.

Leyland didn’t always make what many people thought were the right calls. People complained that he kept players like Ryan Rayburn, Brandon Inge, Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago because they were his favorites, but not good ball players. People did not like how he handled the pitchers or the bullpen. Still other complained that he didn’t make them run enough or play aggressive enough.

To me, it seemed like the Leyland haters, and there were many, who were always looking for something to use against him no matter what he did.

The problem with Leyland, in my eyes, was that he cared too much. The man was emotional and while on the outside he always seemed like a man who was mad or beside himself because people dared to talk to him, he really was a caring man who respected the hell out of his players. One would only have to watch him talk about his players after a big game, or a Verlander no-hitter and they would see that he truly cared for those guys that he managed. I did not get the feeling that he was just there to win and collect a paycheck. I could be wrong. It would not be the first time.

People like to mock people, especially men, who wear their hearts on their sleeves. Leyland was a crier. He cried at the drop of a hat it seemed, but his emotions showed more about who he is as a person and not as the gruff manager that he portrayed in press conferences.

I liked that.

I like the fact that regardless of his age, position, gender or whatever the case may be that he cares enough about those that he manages to show his emotions. There is nothing wrong with that.

His appreciation for the fans, the city of Detroit and the State of Michigan, was something he talked about anytime he could. His devotion and respect for the fans of the Tigers was never in question. Leyland was obviously aware that he was not liked and even loathed by many. That didn’t matter. He still thanked the fans, all fans, every chance he could.

The Tigers did not win a World Series under his reign, but they made it to the title game twice. They won three division titles, too. The Tigers have been fun to watch since he took over. Sure, it helps to have an owner who wants to win so bad that he stocked the lineup with heavy hitters and pitchers who drive the batters crazy. But you still have to be able to manage. Leyland did that, even if you do not agree with every decision he made. I do not agree with every decision I make half the time.

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Politically speaking…

October 28, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

I have been biting my tongue, really, really hard over the past few months as it related to our government, the two parties, Obamacare and all that goes with it, including the shutdown that we just endured.

I love talking politics and I really believe, even though it is hard at times, VERY hard, that most of our elected representatives are not as evil as we perceive them to be. It is not as easy to convince myself of that these days, but I do have hope that one day that feeling will return…someday.

While I tend to lean one way in my beliefs that does not mean that I always agree with “my side”. And I am most certainly not someone who only finds fault with one side or the other. I hate to say this, but if you are one of those people, you are part of the problem. Big time.

I did not want the government to “shutdown” and I was pretty disturbed by the actions of ALL lawmakers and the President during the last few weeks.

Here are a few of my observations and feelings that resulted from this latest mess.

A law is a law, but bad laws can and SHOULD be fixed.

I felt bad for the thousands of federal workers who were without a paycheck for the past 16 days, and I was glad to see they were going to be paid one way or another once the two sides reached an agreement. However, I wondered where all the outrage was/is in the media regarding the millions, including myself, who were or are still unemployed due to a lousy economy.

I am not a fan of some areas of Obamacare and I wish, instead of voting to defund it or repeal it over and over, that the Republicans would have grabbed on to a few of the most “hated” sections of the law and worked to fix them instead of trying to do the impossible. Look how much of it has been delayed already and what is going forward now is sort of a messy nightmare.

On the flip side, I find it rather arrogant of the President to refuse to negotiate and only want a vote on HIS (and his parties) terms. That is why we have the two party system, right? Even if you disagree with the other side, you work together and sort it out? I am as fed up with Congress as everyone else, but I also lay blame with the “non-negotiator in chief. Ronald Reagan worked with Tip O’Neill; Bill Clinton worked with Newt Gingrich and President Bush worked with Ted Kennedy. It can and SHOULD be done more often. Those men, all of them, were leaders, whether you liked them or not.

On a much lighter note, my faith in humanity was restored a bit this past weekend. My wife offered to help a friend at church set up a “mom to mom” sale. As they worked to set up tables and whatever else one does when setting up for such an event, my wife noticed a rocking chair that one lady brought in to sell. A real rocking chair! My wife has always talked about how she would love to have one.

Casually mentioning to the woman who was trying to sell the chair that she liked it and always wished she had one when rocking her newborns, Heather went on about her work before heading home.

The next day we had a voicemail from the church. The chair didn’t sell and the lady left it for Heather to have. Not to buy, but to have. I do not even think my wife knew her name. Instead of keeping it or trying to make money off it at another sale she just gave it to Heather, no strings attached. The kindness of strangers is so inspiring. It is too bad that we live in such a self-centered world today that these kinds of actions are few and far between!

Oh rats, a mouse!

October 28, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

I fell asleep in the recliner the other night. That rarely happens, but I was so tired that I ended up dozing off while watching TV. Everyone else was in bed; the living room was lit only by the TV, which by this time was showing something that comes on well after the local news. To be honest, I can’t remember what channel I was even watching when I dozed off.

The sound of a “thud” behind me ,followed by some stifled meows and other rustling sounds awoke me from my slumber.

It took me a few seconds to fully wake up and when I did, I was in for quite a shocking sight.

In the twilight of the TV, my eyes focused in on our cat that was walking in front of the recliner, with something in his mouth.

At first I thought he was playing with a toy of his or one of my children. Both of them seem to leave their toys all over the house anyway, so why not. Plus, he has been known to become rather playful at night and cause a ruckus that can wake the dead.

As he walked into the kitchen, I suspected that it was no toy at all, but in fact….A MOUSE. A toy does move like a real mouse can and by the looks and sounds of the action in the kitchen, this was a live one.

I am not a fan of rodents, reptiles or anything creepy-crawly. I cringe when I see things that slither, slide, hiss or otherwise.

And while I really hate possums, snakes and spiders, a mouse, especially when it is dark and you wake up to the drama unfolding before your eyes, it is a little unnerving. Oh, did I mention I hate possums?

The little critter escaped the clutches of our vicious “watch-cat” who was more interested in playing with the mouse than killing it. And as luck would have it, he took refuge behind the refrigerator.

Not wanting the mouse to escape, I woke my wife up to assist in the fun of catching this little pest. As you know, trying to catch a greased pig is probably easier than catching a quick little mouse that can squeeze into places you never knew existed.

A half-hour later, the little mouse was shown the door, literally. After scurrying behind an end table, my wife opened the front door and out he hopped.

Breathing a sigh of relief, we went to bed knowing we were mouse free.

We opted not to tell our girls about it for fear they may freak out. However, two mornings later we were left with no choice as our cat pranced through the living room with the same little mouse in his mouth. Awkward!

I knew we were too kind just sending him on his merry way the night before. It is almost like we sent him off to school with his backpack and said “see you later”.

That little creature escaped my clutches that morning as we had to leave for work, but precautions have been placed around the house should he be brave enough to wander out again.

I am not a fan of rodents, not at all. I am just glad that my daughters were too distracted to realize how freaked out their dad was over that tiny little thing!

I just hope for my sake and that of the mouse, that he has moved on and moved out. There is a no vacancy sign hanging on my door for his kind.

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