Thursday, August 08, 2013


I am fairly certain that my father's favorite sport was basketball. My dad, at some point, had a telephone pole with a backboard and rim attached, installed into our driveway. This was a permanent fixture, not just a "hoop". Seriously, it was a telephone pole, driven deep into our driveway.

 I can remember a few games of one-on-one with my dad where the winner got to use the car that night. My dad was a very good basketball player. His nickname was "Gunner" because he loved to shoot. I, on the other hand, was called "Grape Ape" on the court, with my long arms and clumsy behavior resulting in lots of fouls. There was no way I was ever supposed to win any of those games for the family station wagon, but for some reason, if my night was really really important I could pull off an upset.

Basketball, as a sport, is a team game. But as a game, it is an individual sport. Recently we bought a "hoop", a plastic and metal basketball set, weighted at the bottom with sand, that can go from a height of 8 feet to 10 feet and can be moved up and down the driveway on plastic wheels. I have been trying to teach my kids basketball, the "sport", but it has become more about teaching my kids basketball the "game".

We play Around the World, Make-it-Take-it, PIG and Knock-Out. At the end each day as we play one of my kids will say something like, "Dad, if I make this shot you have to take me to Dairy Queen." So far they understand the shot has to be a challenge, a trick shot, or a far away effort, and they miss on a regular basis.

Jackson, at four and half years old, has recently taken up the basketball challenge. He has yet, since January, to make a shot. He has tried at least 500 times to make a basket. Tonight I gave him a smaller ball and I lowered the net to 8 feet tall. His two older brothers coached and coached him.

Tonight, Jackson made his first basket. We celebrated. We celebrated with cheers, hugs, high fives and lots of encouragement. I was smiling from ear to ear. After that first basket Jackson would not stop "chucking it from the cheap seats". He was a Gunner. Jackson made 8 baskets tonight. After all the excitment of his first unassisted 8 baskets Jackson said to me, "Dad, you have to take me to Dairy Queen eight times."

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Rainbow Connection

 This picture taken in August 2008. Lauren was pregnant with Jackson, Wyatt was just a toddler, Max was waist high.
 This picture was taken June 2011. Jackson a toddler, Wyatt waist high, Maxfield getting big.

This picture was taken last night. No toddlers. Everyone taller than waist high.

 My pot of gold is getting bigger. Life is good.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last Day of 8

Today is the last day Maxfield will be an 8 year old boy. He is moving forward, not a little boy anymore and not yet a tween or teenager.  He is hitting that age where he is old enough to know better but still young enough to get away with it or to just not care.

This day also marks the anniversary of when my life changed forever. Prior to February 29th 2004 I was not a father. I never understood or experienced fear, frustration, anxiety, anger, helplessness or sadness like I do since that day. It overwhelms me.

But also prior to that day I also never experienced the joy, the laughter, the fun, the pride, the purpose, the drive, the gratitude, the blessings and the unconditional love like I do since that day. That too overwhelms me.

Maxfield, thank you for overwhelming me. You are old enough to know better, I will keep letting you get away with it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


One Saturday morning I needed to pick up some beer, some fire logs and some snack type items for a fire pit gathering we were having.  Where I live the best place to go to get these items is Wegmans.  The best way to describe a Wegmans (if you are not familiar with Wegmans) is that it is a Super Super Market. Wegmans is like a Super Hero of Super Markets, like the leader of the Justice League of Super Markets. The Liquor Control Board of the State of PA restricts the sale of alcohol to only certain types of stores. Wegmans is the only grocery type of store in our area that can sell wine and beer. It is that awesome.

The place is always crazy packed with people and I figured by getting there at 9am I could avoid lines. When I pulled into the parking lot I was surprised at how many cars were already there. I walked in the store, the smell of fresh breads, soups and sauces were already wafting through the air,  I was greeted by at least a half dozen employees. I asked the employee closest to me where I could find the fire logs. He had to ask the person next him and that person had to call someone on a radio. I found it odd that greeters did not know the layout of the store.

I was told the logs were at the opposite end of the store, past all the check-out lines. As I walked in that direction I realized that almost every cash register was manned by a Wegmans staff member and that there were no customers at all. I grabbed what I needed and headed in the other direction to get the beer. While walking I noticed that there were more Wegmans personnel mulling about the produce section. The place was mobbed with employees.

While paying for my beer I asked the woman at the cash register why there was so much staff on hand. She told me that the Wegman family was visiting the store so there were people from corporate as well as staff from another Wegmans to make the store seem more active (which explained why no one knew where the logs were).   She told me Danny Wegman, the CEO, and his two daughters, both VPs in the company, as well as other bigwigs were at the store for an event.

I don't know why, or what came over me, but for some reason I knew I had to go and seek these people out.

Carrying my 12 pack of beer I walked back to the produce section. There were clusters of nicely dressed men and woman,  all wearing Wegmans badges, scattered about the area. I approached one group.

"Excuse me," I interrupted the conversation. "I was told that the Wegman family is here."

A man in a dark blazer stepped forward. He pointed his finger to a large group of people gathered by the apples about 30 feet away. "You see the guy in the leather jacket? That is Danny Wegman. He is the CEO."

"What's he doing here?" I asked.

"The family makes sure they tour every store, to make sure it meets the standards."

"I want to get his autograph." I said.

The man in the blazer gave me a weird look.

"There is too many people around him." I added.

The woman next to the man in the blazer chuckled and chimed into the conversation.

"The woman standing there," she said pointing a few feet from me. "She is a Wegman. She is Danny's daughter."

"Is her last name Wegman?" I asked. "I don't want an autograph signed by Jones or Smith or something different if she is married and took her husband's last name."

"No. It is Wegman. Nicole Wegman." the woman said.

The woman then called Nicole over.

"Hi." I said shaking her hand while balancing a 12 pack of beer on my left arm. "Can I get your autograph?"

She smiled and blushed a bit. "Oh my. No one has ever asked me that before. Are you serious?"

"Yes." I said. "I love this store and I think it would be cool to have one of the Wegmans sign my receipt."

She blushed a bit more. The people around us chuckled and fawned over their boss as she asked me a few questions about why I liked the store. She genuinely seemed interested in my responses.  Someone handed her a pen. I balanced the 12 pack on my raised knee as an improvised writing surface and handed her the receipt.

"I am so excited. No one has ever asked for my autograph." She said.

She signed the receipt.

"I'm Nicole." she said. " Thank you. This is a first for me."

I shook her hand again.

"Thank you." I said. "I am Bill. You never forget your first."

I walked away.