For Grandma Z

When I was little, not much beat going to my Grandma Z’s house and seeing the Cuckoo clock go off every hour. I have been thinking about getting one for my kids for awhile and after a long Friday – I went out and bought an authentic Cuckoo clock made in the Black Forest of Germany. All three kids run to it on the hour to hear/see everything.

On the hour – the Cuckoo bird comes out, the man chops wood, then the people at the top dance around and the water wheel turns. All in all – it is really cool and one of the first things I have ever bought that I thought will make it down multiple generations (hopefully). On top of the enjoyment I get watching the kids get excited – I am also reminded of the same excitement I experienced when I was little.

I Voted: PSU Alumni Trustee Election 2012

I have been waiting to vote in this election (Alumni Trustee Election) since November of last year. While it is no secret who I want to win – I have high hopes for these three new members. Let’s hope the new elected trustees ruffle a few feathers and can get Penn State turned in the right direction.

On another Penn State note – this weekend is the Blue & White game. It will be a great and a sad day. Let’s hope our new coach has a great first experience in Beaver Stadium.

We Are…A Family

My kids with Joe.

Some people do not understand it, others think I/we are crazy, but losing Joe was hard. He was more than a coach, a public figure, and an educator…he was part of the family.

After watching the Joe Paterno memorial yesterday one thing was made very clear – we the Penn State community are one big family. Sure – we have our problems, but what family – especially such a large family – does not? Seeing everyone together, supporting one and other, and sharing memories about Joe was pretty amazing and finally made me feel a bit more at peace.

A big thanks to the Big Ten Network for airing it!

Doing the Right Thing – Giving Back

I had been waiting for the call since November 9th, 2011 when everything started to unravel. I went over the conversation in my head over and over. Sometimes nasty – other times supportive. When I saw “Penn State University” on the caller ID last night as the phone rang I was not sure what I would say or how the conversation would go.

I generally get these calls a few times a year by current students looking to raise money for the school. I have been donating money to Penn State since I graduated and look forward to talking to the students on the phone to hear what they are studying, doing, etc. I at first did not know which way the call was going to go until I, in an instant, realize I had two ways to play this out: 1. act out of response to others (Penn State current leadership) or 2. act out of response to what really matters and be true to the core of our being (Joe). At that point I decided I would spend a few minutes talking to this student about his well being and his thoughts/feeling about all of this and what it means to be a Penn Stater. I told him I would be happy to give to the Paterno library fund.

Lesson learned: as Penn State alumni/students/staff – we need to stick together and show people who we really are. It is and always has been more than football. The media and some of the general public just do not “get it” and that is understandable. I am hopeful that living by example will show eventually show everyone what Joe Paterno taught us and what it truly means to be a Penn Stater.

We Are…Penn State

Another sleepless night for me left plenty of time to think about the current situation and Penn State, what we can learn from it, and where we go from here. I, like many other Penn Staters, have great pride in our alma mater. The foundation is deep and something that you just cannot explain unless you experience it for yourself. Our alumni association is the largest dues-paying organization of its kind in the world. We are not defined by the actions of a few – but by the actions of all.

We get together almost every Saturday in the fall in our Penn State gear, ready to cheer on our team. We come to Beaver Stadium over 100,000 strong banded together by one thing – pride in our University. We can put our differences aside and cheer together. We need to do the same now and stand together – supporting each other. We are Penn State strong. We need to learn from the situation and move forward. Most important of all need to protect others while not forgetting to also protect ourselves.

We are…Penn State and regardless of what shakes down in the next few hours/days/weeks – we need to remember – together we are an amazing group of individuals who share an experience like no other. We can and need to join together to make sure our great University continues on with pride and tradition…it is what Joe would want.

Does One Person Define an Institution?

Does one person define an institution? You might say yes if thinking about someone like Steve Jobs or Joe Paterno and their legacy. You also might say no if thinking about someone like Jerry Sandusky. For the past few days I cannot help but to feel a bit sad for both the victims in the Jerry Sandusky case (whomever they may be) as well as sad for Penn State as a whole. While Penn State is getting a lot of bad media coverage it frustrates me that the media coverage is all because one person. I just hope the media and everyone else in the world realize that Penn State is more than Jerry Sandusky.

So do I think one person defines an institution? If you were to ask me a month ago I would have said yes – thinking specifically of Joe Paterno and Steve Jobs. After Steve Jobs died and all of this came out about PSU – I have changed my mind. One person can make an impact, but it is the community at whole which defines an institution.

The Delicate Balance of Parenting

I love my kids more than I ever thought possible. Once and awhile everything fits together nicely and you feel like you everything is in balance. Most days however there is a constant multi-dimensional game of tug of war going on with both parents over how to do x, y, and z with the kids.

For an example – let’s talk about a problem for most parents…listening. If the child is not listening, what do you do? Do you talk to them about the importance of listening, ask them to politely listen, give them multiple chances to listen (repeating their name over and over until they listen), give them positive reinforcement? Or do you raise your voice and/or give them a consequence if they do not listen?

While one parent generally believe in one way to accomplish getting the child to listen – they are usually not on the same page as the other parent. Not only do you have a strike a balance of consequences (bad/good) you also have to strike a balance between you and the other parent (assuming there is another parent). This is not only very delicate but also very exhausting. Finding this balance seems to be something that goes on just about everyday in my household – especially with three kids under the age of five and two adults who are both stubborn and non-pushovers.

We struggle to find a good balance on how to deal with certain situations (like listening) but at the end of the day – we try and find a common voice so we do not confuse the kids. I might not necessarily agree with the options put forth or the method of trying to correct the child’s behavior but I can always live with that. It is also understood if those options or methods do not work – we can try it another way at a later date. Overall – it is important to show the child you are in control and agree with the other parent at least on some level.

Real life example: this past weekend my oldest son was not behaving as we expected. We had been trying to give him positive feedback, had a sticker chart for him, and had clearly defined good behaviors which would result in a reward once the sticker chart was full. No voice raising, time outs, etc. Everything appeared to be going well until Saturday when Evan mis-behaved at soccer. I ended up taking a harder approach to curbing bad behavior by raising my voice (not in public), not giving him multiple chances, etc. While we – the parents – were not in total agreement on this, both of us realized the positive feedback was not the end all approach and was clearly not working and it was time to shift gears. We – as the parents – discussed ways of handling this and at the end of the weekend – although I was being more vocal and less patience of Evan – he stuck to me like glue and wanted to be with me, play with me, and wanted my input on more than usual. This was not expected and I think we feared it would be the opposite but it goes to show you kids respond differently to different parenting styles. Finding that balance is key.