WWF. You may know it as the World Wrestling Federation, now WWE, with pro wrestling stars like Andre the Giant, The Ultimate Warrior, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and Hulk Hogan…”What are you gonna do when HulkaMania runs wild on you?!”,

At least, they were stars in the 1980s when I, along with many guys my age, had an interest in the sporting entertainment empire.

A few of us in early high school, even attended a WWF show at the Coliseum, now, Alliant Energy Center, in Madison. We were not alone–the venue holds about 10,000 and it was full.

WWF to me now means the Wisconsin Wrestling Federation. As in, Cash and I’s latest bonding moments spent “wrestling” each other.

And while I may have him beat in the tales of the tape measurements= Me 5’11” 205lbs. Cash 2’7″ 20 lbs, Cash fights dirty.  His go-to move is the “Lip Rip,” a move where he plants his fingers on the inside of my lower lip, grabs tightly and pulls down hard. As I duck my head down to peel his fingers off my lip, he uses his other hand to pull my hair.

My main counter-move is to pick him up and fall with him to the bed, cushioning his fall on me–much sweeter version of Superfly Snuka’s turnbuckle soar onto his opponents.

snuka dive.jpg

After my Superfly move, I then spin Cash off my chest onto the bed, flipping him from side to side and pinning him with nearby pillows.


His giggles tell me my move causes him more enjoyment than pain.

Maybe our pasttime will lead to Cash’s future as a pro wrestler?  His current nickname, “Spanky” might even work into his persona.  “Spank the Tank?!  “The Lipper Ripper?!” Smash Cash?!

We’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my chin up, lips tight and hair back. What else are you gonna do…when “Spankamania runs wild on you?!”



Whine before it’s Time

Toddlers whine.

Not from pain or discomfort, though that’s a possibility.

Not from being pouty, though that’s a possibility.

Not from seeking attention, though that’s a possibility.

Toddlers whine mainly because they don’t know and can’t say many words to express themselves…so we are left with the grunts, shrieks and moans.

Whining is a typical stage we humans go through. A whine of passage.

For the most part, Meghan and I have to endure it rather than eliminate it, at least until “use your words” is something our toddler, Cash, can actually do.

In the meantime…we’ll try to minimize his discomfort. We’ll try not to make him sad.We’ll try to give him plenty of focused attention.

And we’ll try our best to teach him words to help him express himself.

We are already treated to–and immensely enjoy– observing his non-verbals-the smiles, the cries and the way tucks his head into the crook of our neck when he’s tired. He seems to develop a new mannerism every few days.

We’re already seeing him stand on his own two feet-soon, all-too-soon, he’ll running around, climbing up and down.

But, won’t it be most interesting to hear him say the thoughts that go through his little head? The vast mystery of the multi-directions of his mind, his thoughts, pronunciations and observations.  Life…according to Cash.

We’re anxious to hear how the world is sifting itself through his developing brain. How many thoughts of Meghan and mine get repeated?  What in the world impacts him? At his thigh-high point of view.

For now, we have to wait. We don’t like it but we have to set the example. We can’t…whine about it.


Bedtime Story

I assume all kids and most adults have a bedtime routine.

Mine is purposefully (and perhaps overly?) simple.  I brush my teeth and lay down in bed.

Meghan’s is longer–more face washing, flossing and lotioning.

Cash’s bedtime routine is by far the longest…lasting about an hour from start to finish.

It begins with Meghan or I filling one third of our bathtub with water and dropping in the toys.

Then getting the wiggly boy out of his clothes, into his birthday suit and into the tub.

He enjoys  bubbles. Who doesn’t, right?


Cash is pleasantly distracted by the bath toys. His favorite now is a little bucket that holds one bath toy at a time.

He also used to really like splashing the water with full swings of his arms, slapping the water like it owed him money.

That spirited splashing is now replaced by scooping water with his bucket onto the bathroom floor as if he’s keeping a boat from sinking.

For awhile there, he thought squirting the water out of the mini-baseball was the funniest prank on the planet.

After his bath, we wrap him in a towel and he is transported to his bedroom-which is a little extra warmed thanks to a space heater.


There, his loving Momma gives him a light massage with massage oil-baby safe of course. With the essential oil diffuser, dimmed lighting and soft music playing, his room highly resembles a luxurious spa retreat.

I fear if this keeps up, he will want to have his 5th birthday party not at Chuck E. Cheese but at Sundara spa.

After his massage, Meghan usually reads to him from one of the many books on his shelf. Cash is more into the pictures than the plots, which is a good thing since most children’s books are absent of them…plots that is.

Meghan winds down the process by nursing him for a little and then laying him down in his crib.  Lastly, she gives him a kiss and turns on the white noise machine. Just writing this, I want to pass out and sleep for three days.

Believe it or not, Cash will still fuss a bit as Meghan tries to leave the room, sometimes pulling himself to his feet and screaming through the crib bars like a wronged prisoner.

We know he does this because I installed a Nest camera with night vision perched above his bed.

The bedtime fuss has become less and less and there are some times where he just lays down, snuggles up to his bunny and doesn’t make a peep.

After a half hour or so of his slumber, I quietly enter (and try not to trip over anything in the blacked out room) and drape a knit blanket over him.

Meghan and  use the next hour or two to clean up and catch up on anything we have to get done and/or watch a show, read a book, or sometimes silently stare at the wall in exhaustion.

It’s getting to be that time…bedtime.


Slip Sledding Away

Is there any better Midwestern childhood staple of winter than sledding?

The kids from my neighborhood had a great option with the hill next to my grandparents house just up the street from me.  It was also the first meeting place destination for all of us on “snow days” from school.

We would trudge our various sleds-from saucers to rail sleds to toboggans to the cheap, hard plastic body length ones-up the hill.

Each sled offered a different ride. The toboggans were for a handful of friends to experience together–our snow-covered boots criss-crossed over each other’s laps, we formed a sitting centipede speeding through the snow.

The one man saucers always gave you the extra spins and speed you wanted while the body length sleds gave you more steering control.

The old fashioned, wooden rail sleds gave you speed but also a loss of control.  Sledders ascending the hill had to keep an extra eye out for those traversing on the rail sleds…lest they get struck by an errant traveler and end up flipped flat on their faces.

The inner tube sleds came into play just as I was getting into my teen years and out of sledding but later in life, I got to try these tubes down the hill. The tubes sure make the ride smoother, no more feeling every bump on your stomach under the 1/4 inch plastic sleds, and went at a decent speed too. They also are easy to connect an arm onto and co-sled with others.

Hour after hour, we’d get our little endorphin rushes, even building up snow piles to act as ramps to shoot off for more speed and height and danger.  It was always a snow badge of courage to make it into the lawn of the house across the street from the hill.

My friends and I would take breaks by heading over to my grandma’s house. We’d leave our boots at the door and swap war stories in our socks over the hot chocolate drinks she’d prepared for us.

Later in life, I’ve had some of my buddies share that my grandma will always live on in the warmth of their memories because of these little snow break sessions around her kitchen table.  Me too.

Honestly, sledding was one of the first activities I was excited for Cash to experience. I’m happy to report, last week, Meghan and I walked up the block to our local snow hill, Garner Park to give Cash his first sled run!

As the veteran sledder in the family–Meg grew up in California and had her first sledding experience only a couple years ago when I brought to Madison on a visit–I put Cash on my lap for his first run.

I conceded to Meghan to start halfway down the hill and we “sped” down. It was too slow for Cash’s liking according to his bored face.


This made me happy because I knew we could up the ante…and by “up” I mean start further up the hill the next run.

Cash and I made a few more runs and Meghan even got a few in and a couple more with all of us.

It was one of the more fun days this we’ve had this winter as a family. Plus, Cash can now say he’s a sledder.

Actually, his first words about sledding will likely be “faster, faster…”



Wisconsin ‘Dogs

The nickname of my alma mater, the Badgers of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is misunderstood.  Many think it’s because there is a prevalence of the mammal in the rolling hills, woods and prairies of our state. The Badgers is our state animal after all, so the confusion is understandable.

However, Wisconsin, and the university, got the nickname “The Badger State” because of 19th century miners who came to unearth lead from the land of the Southwest corner of the state.  The workers, instead of taking the time to dig foundations for homes, chose to dig into the hillsides to sleep and live.  The carved out half-caves resembled the den of a Badger.  So, these miners were nicknamed badgers and these residents became representative of the whole state-even though most of the state residents were farmers.  (I will say Bucky, our mascot, is much better off being a cute, furry badger rather than a miner or farmer.)

Wisconsin is often misunderstood, underrated and underestimated. So, it was only fitting the Wisconsin Badgers football team won the 2015 Holiday Bowl game a couple nights ago against the favored University of Southern California Trojans.

The Badgers team entered the game as 3.5 point underdog and with many college football “experts” picking USC to win.  No matter though, Wisconsin residents, fans, coaches, and players have learned to accept and dismiss these expectations.

If I might brag, the recent confidence started with the Rose Bowl championship team I was lucky to be a part of in the 1994 game where we upset the home team UCLA Bruins 21-16.


In the twenty bowl games since then, we have been favored to lose more times than we’ve been favored to win. Turns out,  UW has won more than it has lost.  (Out of the last 21 bowl games, UW has won 12 of them.)

I’m not saying we should have been favored in all of these games.  We deserved our status as the underdogs at times. That’s fine. But, the UW is a default underdog more often than not.

So maybe a more representative nickname for our state is the Farmers and for the university’s sports teams, the Underdogs?  But, that’s okay because oftentimes labels don’t represent what they are supposed to.

My point is, Wisconsin Badger fandom will provide many good life lessons for Cash as he inevitably will be exposed to cheering for and supporting the Wisconsin Badgers by being around me and my family.

I’ll share with him what we’ve all learned by being Badgers fans.Expect to be misunderstood. Talent is great but useless if not fueled with hard work. Focus on preparation not on glory.  Preparation puts you in position to be in the right place at the right time.  Success isn’t lucky. Bucky ain’t lucky! We earned it.

Most importantly, expect to defy expectations.   Understand the underdog. And enjoy and be inspired when the underdog comes out on top.

On Wisconsin!