Saturday, April 25, 2009

Happy Birthday to ME!!

YES, a few days ago I celebrated my birthday!! Over the years, my kids have given me a wide variety of gifts from the innocuous and obligatory necktie to the much more meaningful framed pictures of them for my office.

During the days leading up to my birthday, I speculated as to what their gifts might be. Since their gifts have run the gamut, I had absolutely no clue as to what I would receive. Little did I know that I would receive one of the best and most touching gifts of my life!

Starting way back when each child was quite young, I started a birthday tradition of getting the whole family up early on the big day of each child, walking into the room of the child who would celebrate the birthday that day, and playing and singing Happy Birthday to wake him/her up!

There were different varieties of entertainment involved; sometimes I would play the trumpet or guitar and sometimes I would play a birthday song tape that I had made for each child. All others would loudly sing to wake the person up!

Over the years, as my own kids became musically inclined, the birthday treats were greatly enhanced; my older son on guitar or bass guitar, my daughter on clarinet or piano, my younger son on the xylophone or a few drums, and yours truly still playing the trumpet, guitar, or portable electric piano! Yes, the entertainment kept getting enhanced each year! The kids never knew what to expect – other than an early-morning musical surprise to awaken them!

So, what gift did I receive on my birthday? Well, here we go:

1) I normally awaken to the alarm at 4:00 a.m.

2) For some reason (I would later learn that my youngest son had made too much noise in the hallway) I was jarred awake at 3:53 a.m.

3) I opened my eyes to see my youngest son standing in my doorway. As I do not wake him up until 5:15 a.m., this was a tad strange

4) I asked him why he was up so early. He did not respond. I asked again and he still did not respond.

5) Then he entered the room, put the light on, and my daughter and older son entered the room with him to perform the following: daughter on clarinet, older son on guitar, and younger son on a percussion instrument – waking me up with their own rendition of Happy Birthday to their favorite dad!!

Yes, silly family traditions are a great way to build bonding; giving of yourself to your kids is one of the best gifts that you can give; and receiving those gifts back from your kids is one of the greatest gifts that you can receive!

My own kids, long the recipients of those early morning Happy Birthday wake-up calls, had now fully paid me back for everything. To watch my kids grow from infants into fine young people who can serenade their own dad with quality playing was almost too much too take. To say the least, I needed a moment or two to recover from the surprise.

But, even though I was awakened early on my birthday, I felt totally wide awake and tremendously loved all day!!

How about you? Please pass along your family traditions (the sillier the better!) that have enhanced bonding within your family!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Since the days on which my children were born, perhaps even while they were in the womb, there has been music and singing in our home. All types of music, including classical, jazz, pop, baby songs, and nursery rhymes, to name just a few styles, have always been prevalent in our home.

Of course, my kids have also had to tolerate their dad's singing ALL OF THE TIME around the house, sometimes seriously, sometimes with a silly voice, sometimes singing real songs with substitute lyrics about our family or individual members, and, well, you get the idea. There has been music and singing of some type(s) in our home every single day (of course, I had to promise my kids that I would hold off singing while their friends were in the house - I vow that I have kept ... most of the time!).

As my oldest child, my daughter has been the recipient of, or has bore the brunt of, the most of my continuous singing. However, as annoying as she sometimes claims that it is, we used to sing all types of songs around the house and sometimes we still do! In fact, a few years ago, she took vocal lessons to go with her dancing skills and she now works as an entertainer during the summer months in musical theater! (Of course, I take full credit for her singing and dancing skills - she listened to me and she watched me carefully a million times ....... and then concentrated on doing the opposite!!).

At any rate, as much as we have shared music during her life, we had never actually sung together in public ... until a recent Sunday on which we sang a Praise and Worship duet to Jesus, entitled, "I Will Run to You".

So, before the entire congregation and the Lord Himself, my daughter, with whom I have shared silly songs since her birth, stood up next to me and we vocalized together for the first time in public!

This is the same girl who used to hug me before I left the home to “Go make music” and then wanted to hear all about it the next day! This is the same girl who used to get ticked off when I changed lyrics to popular songs – but then came to realize that her dad just might earn the “Silly Dad of the Year” contest someday. As such, she learned to laugh and share in the joy of the lyrics about our family and life situations!

And, …… this is the same girl, all grown up now, who actually GAVE ME some vocal lessons during our rehearsal time together!!

Yes, the music field used to be all mine in the family, but now I, with terrific fatherly love and satisfaction, gleefully share the spotlight with my beautiful daughter (actually I now stand in her shadow) !

While people used to say things such as, “That guy is a good singer” or “That guy is a good musician”, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people now say, “Hey, who is that old dude next to that beautiful young lady with the great singing voice – oh, he must be her manager or her dad”!!!!

Yes, from the humble beginnings of a dad singing silly songs to her in the womb, my daughter has grown up, developed tremendous talent of her own, gives her dad singing lessons, and stands beside him as they sing to the Lord. Wow, life and God are awesome!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Opening Day With My Kids

In my continuing effort to spend as much time as possible with my kids, we ventured to Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers’ 2009 baseball season!! The drive to Comerica Park was filled with conversation about everything and nothing; the hunt for a parking space (which took longer than the drive to the stadium!) was filled with advice from all 3 passengers; the time inside of the stadium was filled with high 5’s, laughter, and some conversation; and the drive home was filled with spirited conversations about our day.

Our seats, right behind home plate, provided the perfect glimpse of the entire game as it unfolded. All 4 of us were often simultaneously brought to our feet to celebrate another Tigers’ feat, including Cabrera’s long home run, Inge’s spectacular catch, and a host of other opening day goodies in the 15-2 win.

There was some discussion about strategy as the game progressed. At one point, I indicated that I had a feeling that the Tigers’ hitter, Adam Everett, would definitely hit the ball hard on his next at-bat. One of my kids, always looking to be the resident wise guy, said he thought that each batter should try to hit the ball hard. I then explained, with my vast experience of watching baseball, that Everett would it the ball hard and a long way, perhaps even a home run.

On the very next pitch, Everett hit …… a little tap about halfway to the mound. The pitcher made a bad throw to first base and Everett ended up on 2nd base. My kids had a blast with this one, as their dad’s prediction was about as far off as possible – from the predicted blast to the actual dribbler – well, I think that they’re still laughing about that one!

During the 5th inning, my youngest son told me that he believed that it was a good time for some “sustenance”! We ventured off to the concession stand and scored a few snacks, most of which lasted until the end of the game. The character behind us offered my son $5.00 and then $10.00 for his bucket of popcorn (I didn’t know this until the ride home). My son wisely chose to ignore the obviously inebriated customer!

As I indicated, the Tigers’ won 15-2 on Opening Day, but the main point of the day is that I spent the whole day with my kids at a baseball game, enjoyed spirited conversation about the game, shared some snacks, stopped for coffee and donuts on the way home (we were in the winning section for the donut, bagel, and coffee race on the big screen!), and, for a day, our minds were million miles away from the everyday stresses of life, as we enjoyed each other’s company!

While the area around the stadium is beautiful, the beauty quickly faded as we made our way back to the car after game, about a mile from the stadium. We saw various forms of everyday life on the streets, including homeless people, people camped out in vacant buildings, folks strung out on alcohol and/or drugs, and a few other scary moments. It was during this walk back to the car that I gathered much information for an in-depth conversation on the way home.

Back safely in the car, when one of my kids commented on the range of characters who populated the streets and sidewalks on the day of a game, I let them know that these folks live there every single day, not just on game days. It was then that I reminded them of their relative good fortune in life, as they have been well-taken care of, so that they have not had to live on the streets.

It was quiet for a few moments, but my planned main point of the day had been upstaged by a larger point; my kids, who enjoyed the whole day with their dad and each other, were also humbled at the fate and hardship of others.

After we got home, my kids quickly began to clean the entire house without prompting. It looks like they fully internalized the fact that they need to be grateful for all that the Lord has given to them.

Yes, a day at the ballgame was fun, relaxing, bonding, and educational for all of us. We need to do that again soon and, as one of my kids suggested, we need to find a way to continue to assist those who are truly in need. Yes, we do – and the sooner the better!

Paul W. Reeves

P.S. Oh, and one more thing - I hope that you enjoy the two photos that accompany this post. They were taken by my favorite daughter!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My Kids and the Tigers

As you are aware, I have long been an advocate of spending as much time as possible with your kids. While quality time is nice, it is the quantity time that will make the difference in your kids’ lives.

As our children are constantly watching and observing us, the more time that we give to them to watch and observe our proper actions and travels through life, the more likely it becomes that the positive aspects that we desire to see in our children will come to fruition.

After all, if they are not watching, observing, and learning from us, they will be watching, observing, and learning from somebody else, i.e., Sponge Bob, an unscrupulous character in the neighborhood, substance abusers in school, etc. (As a side note, this is exactly the dynamic that exists when kids join gangs – the absence of loving role models sends kids looking for love, guidance, and acceptance in all of the wrong places!).

Also, I have been a lifelong fan of the Detroit Tigers! I have missed very few Tigers’ games (radio, television, or in person) in over 40 years. I still read just about every article that I can find and I’m never at a loss for words when a friend or acquaintance desires to debate the latest happenings of my favorite baseball team.

So, when my love for my kids and my lifelong passion for baseball are combined, what could be a better way to spend time than going to …… YES, going to the Opening Day baseball game for the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit!!

I actually get to spend the whole day with my three kids and the Detroit Tigers! Wow, what a terrific combination! Between the driving time, the walking to/from the game, watching the pre-game festivities, and the actual game, we will be together non-stop for about 8-9 hours.

This will give me 8-9 uninterrupted hours to let them observe me engaging in appropriate practices, conducting myself as an adult, and speaking to them about a myriad of issues, including baseball and life in general and, hopefully, they will learn a multitude of lessons that surround both The mission is set!

Yes, Friday will be a great and memorable day for us! As the kids get older, these extended all-day opportunities are getting fewer and fewer. It’s time to enjoy life to the fullest!

How about you? How do you find 8-9 hours of uninterrupted time to spend with your kids? Let me know!

Also, come back next week for my report on Opening Day with my kids!

Paul W. Reeves