All posts by Tony

Hello! I'm Tony. I'm a Husband, Father, Friend, Blogger, Country Radio DJ, and proud Dance Dad. Faith, Family, and Technology...this is what matters to me and it's what I write about here.

A More Practical & Less Inspirational Graduation Speech

A few weeks ago our Pastor asked if I would give a 5-minute talk during our graduating senior service. It’s where we celebrate & recognize the graduates from our congregation. This year we had four graduates; three high from high school and one from college.

Instead of going for an inspirational speech, I took a more practical approach, sharing advice from a previous blog post of mine and ideas I crowdsourced from friends on Facebook. What follows below are the thoughts I shared with our graduates and our congregation.

A More Practical & Less Inspirational Graduation Speech

When our Pastor asked me to give this talk to the seniors today I reluctantly agreed… not knowing exactly what I’d say.

There are plenty of great graduation speeches out there. I know. I watched some to prepare for today. Hit up YouTube and you’ll find’em… and lots of inspiration. Steve Jobs, Oprah… Even Matthew McConaughey all gave great, inspiring speeches.

I decided I’d take a different direction with my comments today. I’m not gonna give you high school graduates inspiration… I’m gonna share some practical advice… advice I wish I would’ve gotten 27 years ago.

Perhaps, Ms. A, our recent college grad can back me up on a few of these… Don’t worry though… I’ll have a few comments for you too.

First – Let’s talk class scheduling.

** Try not to schedule any classes before 10am on Mondays.  This will give you extra time if you’re coming off a rough weekend… or a weekend at home.

** Try not to schedule any classes after 3pm on Fridays.  This will get you a jumpstart on the weekend… and a trip home every once in a while.

** Yes. Enjoy your new freedom away at school… but come home too! It’ll be a balancing act when you come home dividing your time between your parents and friends… but always carve out a half hour to visit your grandparents. You’ll never regret sharing a cookie and conversation with them.

** When you do come home it’s OK to bring some laundry with you… but the key word is “some”… you don’t need to bring home every piece of clothing you own.

** My tip for laundry in college is this – Find a laundromat at school and figure out when their off hours are. You’ll be able to do multiple loads at once… and might be able to squeeze in some studying too.

** Stay active.  Join an intramural team.  Utilize the gym and workout facilities on campus.

** Take advantage of everything your college provides.  Your tuition covers more than just school. There are plenty of other activities that, as a student, you can attend for no extra cost.  Go to sporting events, plays, vocal performances, lectures, etc. Get a calendar of events from the campus activities board.

** Say “NO” to credit cards. Get yourself a part-time job, keep a budget, and use cash. It’ll keep you from spending money you don’t have on things you don’t really need.

** Speaking of money… do the math on the cost of each class… not per semester… but for every individual class. Trust me, the number will shock you… and will make you think twice every time you think about skipping.

** Do the same things with your books. Pay attention to how much they actually cost. Perhaps it will give you the motivation to read them when you’re feeling unmotivated.

** Find a balance between work, study, and play.  Work hard and study… but don’t forget to have a little fun too! The “real world” can wait. Enjoy these 4 years!

** Go to campus worship each week.  Campus worship services are fun. They’ll keep you grounded and get you through the hard, stressful times at college… Plus, if you meet someone to date there… you’ll know you already have your faith in common.

That’s it for you high school graduates… now a few tidbits for you Ms. A… as you enter the workforce…

** I know you’ll do this anyway… but whatever you do… work hard.  Show up 10 minutes early and stay 10 minutes late… It’s a little thing but your bosses will notice and it will set you apart from your co-workers.

** Treat everyone like they’re the CEO. Receptionist, janitor, someone in another department… doesn’t matter who they are… Remember that they are more than their position. They are people.

I’m paraphrasing Maya Angelou here, “People might forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how they made you feel.” Be kind to everyone. It’s the right thing to do… and because you never know who can give you a lead, a tip, or other insight to help further your career.

** Steer clear of office gossip.

** I’m not sure what you have for college loans but don’t wait on paying them off. Attack them! You’ve lived like a poor college student for 4 years. Keep that lifestyle up for a few more years and knock out your debt… then you can start saving money. You’re young enough compound interest will make you rich!

** Stay in Iowa. We’ve lost too much of your family’s talent to other states. We need your smile and expertise right here, close to home.

For the record… Your Mom didn’t ask me to include that… but if you do stick around I’m thinking she might hook me up with some cinnamon rolls for including it.

To all our graduates… and everyone, really… let me finish by saying… trust your gut… don’t sweat the small stuff (and 99% of life is small stuff)… make friends… be a friend…and remember that prayer is your direct line to God.  Don’t forget to USE it.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

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Memory Monday – Diaper Changing Fiasco

I’ve probably mentioned it before… but I’m plugged into a pretty cool Facebook group of Dad Bloggers. It’s a place where guys can ask their dad and blogging questions and get them answered by other dads who have already “been there and done that”.

Awhile back one of the guys in the group that I have become friends with announced that he was starting his own dad-centric podcast. I offered to record a show intro and outro for him… just like I had previously done for my friends at the Parental Dadvisory podcast. It’s my small way of giving back to the online community that I have gained a lot of value from.

Brock, the new podcast host, and I collaborated together on what he wanted me to say and the type of music to use. Together, we came up with a finished product that he really loved. I’m tooting my own horn here but I thought it sounded great too and accurately described his vision for the show.

There was only one thing left to do. He just needed to put the interview he had already recorded between the open and close… and then press “publish” to send the first episode of the NOMADad Podcast out into the world.

Since I had a vested interest in the show I had already signed up for the Anchor podcast app to let me know when new episodes get published. I got the notification and listened to that first episode on my commute home that night.

I was blown away by the quality of the content. For his first episode, Brock interviewed a friend of his who was a new dad. We’re talking “a first-time dad with a newborn less than two weeks old new”.

As the two dads on the podcast talked about their experiences I couldn’t help but chuckle a little bit. Many of the thoughts and actions of that new dad mirrored my own in the days after our first daughter was born. About 11 minutes into the podcast the new dad described the first diaper change that he performed in the hospital.

I was instantly taken back to the first diaper change I did at the hospital. To be honest, I think it was the first diaper I had ever changed in real life. Sure, I had read the parenting books on how to do it and may have even practiced on a doll in our pregnancy classes… but none of that really prepared me for how that first diaper change would go down.

Being a planner, I had the wipes ready. Diaper opened, flattened out, and placed in what I thought was a “strategically position”. Then the moment of truth. The tape came off one side of the dirty diaper… and then the other. There was nothing holding it onto our daughter anymore and there was no turning back. I gingerly took a tiny, little foot in each hand and lifted her up.

This is when I realized the first flaw in my plan. I didn’t have a third arm to do the wiping and the diaper situating.  I gently tried to take both feet into my left hand so I could work with my right.

My newborn daughter was not a fan of this at all and kicked. The kick was sudden and unexpected to this rookie dad. Her force surprised me and I let go of her feet. Experienced parents can probably see where the story is heading.

One of her heels landed squarely into that dirty diaper. It was her first one too which is always darker and stickier than your typical dirty diaper. Think greenish black and tar-like.

You soon to be dads can Google and read up on meconium. You might find it informative and useful.

To make matters worse, the heel that landed was also the one that got the heel stick, blood test after she was born so it had a band-aid on it. Looking back now it had to have been one comical scene. An inexperienced dad not quite ready for the challenge of that first diaper… and a baby flailing her limbs around in a strange new world.

In the commotion, the clean diaper I had readied got knocked to the floor and I realized the two wipes I had on standby weren’t going to be nearly enough. One of the many thoughts hitting my head at that moment was  “How do I pick up the clean diaper from the floor while making sure my daughter doesn’t fall off the changing pad?”

The nurse in the room at the time was a real pro. She didn’t laugh at all. Instead, she came to my rescue, asking if I minded if she took over. I was happy for the help and for the pointers she gave while finishing what I started. “Don’t worry,” she assured me. “It gets easier. Before long you’ll be able to do this one-handed and half asleep.”

I never quite got the one-handed diaper change perfected… but I know I’ve changed more than one diaper in my sleep before. 🙂

What’s your diaper change story?

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Review: Ridge Wallet

My wife didn’t realize it at the time… but when the folks at Ridge Wallet sent me one of their Aluminum Gunmetal wallets to review she would end up loving it as much as I do.

You see, my previous wallet was a brown, bulky, leather one that was crammed with cards, receipts, and maybe a little cash. I rarely had it on me mainly because it was too uncomfortable to carry.

If I put it in my back pocket I’d end up sitting awkwardly on a lump situated to one side just like George Costanza in this classic scene from Seinfeld.

Put that bulky, brown wallet in my front jeans pocket and I could sit comfortably but then there’d still be the annoying bulk of an overstuffed wallet.

Most times I’d just keep my wallet in my work backpack… or if I was with my wife I’d ask her to put it in her purse.  She begrudgingly agreed to every time but I could always tell it annoyed her.

That’s initially what drew my attention to the Ridge Wallet.  It’s a minimalist, RFID-blocking wallet made from Aluminum, Titanium, or Carbon Fiber.

When I first got my Ridge Wallet I was impressed with the packaging and presentation of the product.  There was the wallet, of course, but they also included a special screwdriver should I ever want to switch it from having a cash strap to having a money clip.

At first, I was hoping they’d send me the money clip version, but after using it for awhile I really like how slim it is with the cash strap. It has little rubber nubs inside the strap to keep your bills securely in place.

The minimalist design of the Ridge Wallet has you carrying all your cards sandwiched between two RFID plates and bound together with high quality elastic.  

It took me a few days to get used to getting my cards out but now it’s become second nature.

You could carry up to 12 cards but after assessing what I really need I only have 7; my drivers license, debit, Target debit, HSA, Costco, pizza punch card, and health insurance cards.

It’s a lot less than what I had been carrying but it’s all I really need and it takes less space. A lot less space!  All combined it’s just a little bigger than a  package of Tic Tacs that fits comfortably in the front, left pocket of my jeans.

That’s why my wife loves my Ridge Wallet as much as I do.  She no longer has to be responsible for my stuff and she doesn’t have the added bulk in her purse.

It’s not just my wife that loves it. Everyone I’ve shown it to thinks it’s really cool… and I’ve been asked about it more than once by our local grocery store cashiers.

I’ve been using my Ridge Wallet for a few months now and it looks as good as the day I got it. No scratches or anything… but I am careful to keep it by itself in my pocket. I love it’s sleek, clean look and don’t want any keys or change to mess it up.

Whether you’re a guy looking for a minimalist wallet, a wife (like mine) fed up with lugging around your husband’s wallet, or a woman looking to free up space in your purse… the Ridge Wallet is perfect for you.

For the security minded, I should also mention that every Ridge Wallet has RFID-blocking technology.  Not sure what that is and why you should care, watch this video starting at the 9: 00-minute mark. It shows how it easy it is for hackers to access your card info.

Learn more and get your own on the Ridge Wallet website.

*** I was provided with a Ridge Wallet to facilitate this review.  All opinions are mine.

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