Dad’s Taxi: No longer Needed

This week, the day that I dreaded finally came true. The days of Dad’s taxi came to an end.. No.. I’m not shutting down this blog!

My 17 year old daughter got her provisional driver’s license and now she is totally mobile with her own car.. A hand me down.. from my father. .. to her sister.. to her.. A 2003 Honda Civic with very very low miles..

Of course.. in my last attempt at maintaining some control I had to take some final steps to ensure her safety has she hit the perilous travails on the roads of Central New Jersey.

  • I signed a contract with my 17 year old.. on what hours she can drive using her provisional license (6AM – 11PM).. Nothing outside those hours
  • Only she can drive the car.. The car is NOT to be used by her BFF’s.
  • She needs to tell mom/dad whenever she goes out as to her destination and must text/call us that she has arrived at her destination.
  • She is responsible for ensuring car is in working order.. If any major maintenance is to be done, Mom/Dad will take care of it.
  • She’s fully insured (Courtesy of Dear Dad).
  • Drive defensively.. There is a reason why NJ has one of the highest insurance rates. If you live in NJ, you know what I mean by this.
  • No Texting and driving! Phone is to be turned off whenever she gets in the car if she is the driver.

She even started taking the care to High School!

So Dad’s Taxi is now officially out of business.. Unless of course my girls want me to drive them around when they are home!

 

 

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Spring is almost here!

Hope springs eternal in the spring, and for Dad’s Taxi, this spring is the start of new path of life

After a very cold winter, I think winter is just around the corner for us in Central NJ. This has been one of the coldest winter’s I’ve seen in a long time.. Not much snow, but the cold has been brutal. I personally look forward to the Spring as a time of rebirth and a time of new beginnings.

I’ll be ready to share with the world the story of my rebirth over the next few months.. as I’ve been keeping quite a few things I’ve been going through over the past year to myself. I’m finally at a point in my life where Dad’s Taxi is ready to say,  my taxi of life is finally on the right path and making positive progress .

Spring time is a time for new beginnings, why not start here??

Tonight (March 8th) is the start of Daylight Savings Time and as we all say “Spring forward, Fall Back”, I’m finally ready to spring forward not just by one hour, but to truly begin the next part of my life this Spring.

Netflix Roulette

Netflix Roulette saves time in your Netflix selection process.

When I watch Netflix on any of my devices, I’m always at a loss for what to watch..I spend at least 10 minutes deciding what to watch.. And if I have my kids around, this time is exponentially elongated to make sure everyone agrees to watch the selected democratic choice

Yes I do have my personal list, but I’m always hunting for something that will catch my interest.

Today I came across this site called Netflix Roulette. This is great because all I do is press spin and a selection is randomly made for me. It’s such a simple site.. I’m going to put it in my favorites!

Of course what that means is that my Instant Queue will never become empty and I’ll never get to my Instant Queue.  It also means, I can’t waste at least 15 minutes trying to find a movie or TV show that I absolutely have to watch and don’t know the name of it.  What am I going to do with all this time I just got back?

Now I’m looking for a site that will tell me what is NEW on a weekly basis on NetFlix so I can flip through that and waste time there!

Now I just need this to be available as an app for my iPhone..

Winter of our Discontent – Enough Already

The ongoing boredom of the winter of 2014 in Central NJ

Panoramo of the Quiet of the Snow

I have not experienced this kind of winter in NJ for years.. With El Nino where each winter was mild for the past few years, this year is wetter and colder than I’ve ever seen. The winter of 2014 in Central NJ has been one storm after another dumping snow and ice and when its not snowing, it’s frigid.

I noticed that this year the weather channel named each storm. Today we are in the middle of Storm Pax. Not sure what that means, but I guess we are on the letter “P” with storms.

I don’t really mind the snow, as long as I have my monster snow thrower to clear the snow, but gosh enough is enough. The kids in NJ are really having fun, as they have now had 4 or 5 snow days.. Of course I look forward to the 4:30 AM call from the Middletown, NJ Board of education to tell me that there is no school today due to ANOTHER Snow Storm!

I have to admit that this town is so wonderful with communications by telephone blasts, email’s and text messages. This township is also amazing with snow plowing.. Even before the snow finishes, the main roads are cleared!

I was just talking to my daughter and she tells me that dad’s taxi is slacking off and not posting enough. Well, things are going on in Dad’s life that really cannot be shared here (for now)….

Whenever it snows, I sit in my semi “man cave” in the back of my house and work.. Yep that’s me, sitting and watching my neighbor’s horses frolicking in the back. This is how boring my life has become.

Horses lounging Horses out for a walk in the Snow

What dad really needs is a vacation.. A vacation where he can just let loose and chill. Now the question arises, is where do I go?

Since my daughter told me I need to write about more interesting things, I’m going to have to reflect and write about interesting things.

For now, I’m going to watch as much Curling as possible at the Olympics in Sochi. I’ve gotten obsessed at watching the men and women slide the rock down and sweep to get points. I still don’t get the scoring system, but the intensity is worth the wait.. BTW, I found out that Curling has become the latest “must see” sport in the schools. One Child even had her phone confiscated because she was watching Curling in math class! I got a chuckle out of that.

At least it’ll be an interesting spring (when it arrives in the next 35 days!).

Hey, pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training next week, so as a NY Mets fan, the annual rite of hope for my metsies starts anew.

Dad’s life is changing and he’s headed for a hard reset of his life. More on this later in postings when the time is right.  For now, Dad has to just get over this endless winter!

 

Thanksgiving 2013 – End Times

This Thanksgiving, Dad’s Taxi takes a left turn and talks about of being thankful and the end of the past and the beginning of the future…

For Dad’s Taxi, Thanksgiving is always the start of new beginnings and the end of times. I know many will say that makes no sense at all. Well the answer to that is Yes and No.

I was looking at the empty screen of my posting board and thinking that perhaps I’ll write about what I’m thankful for this year. Yet I knew that would just be a rehash of things that I’m thankful for every day. So I’m taking a left turn and writing more about that things that I found closure in this year, or as I call in my own way.. “The end of the Beginning”.

End of Times:

  • Debt: Many of my readers know that the pervasive thing that I write about on this blog is Debt. Well in 2013, I finally become debt free. Yes! I did it. Yet to be perfectly honest, this did not come free of cost. I lost my dad this year because of him I am now debt free. Everything he said about debt rings true in my ears and a part of him (unfortunately) still lives inside me.
  • Forgiveness and letting go: With my dad’s passing in January of this year,  I learned many important lessons and if not the most important was forgiveness and letting go. I struggled for so many years with not being able to forgive him for the perceived and some real injustices he had done to our family as we were growing up. In the last 3 months of his life, I saw him every day becoming more and more frail and losing touch with reality. He was dependent on my visits as he lay in his hospital bed’s unable to control his life, with flashes of memory of his past. May god rest his soul.
  • Self actualization and understanding: This year I became more aware of how much ingrained personality traits I had as a result of my childhood and adulthood growing up in the dysfunction that I call Dad’s taxi of life.
  • Moving forwards and not looking back: Understand your past and you will be able to move forward. If you continue to regret “what if’s”, you will never be able to treasure what you had and move on with the next part of your life.. I guess this is an ongoing
    Fake Turkish Taxi for Chaos filming - 032120114085

    epiphany that have on a daily basis.

I’m grateful to my wife and kids for giving me all the materials that I get to write about. Without Dad’s Taxi and the postings I make here, I’m not sure whether, I’d be as thankful as I am today for what I have, regardless of where tomorrow takes me.

To all my family, friends, readers, supporters, and I’m thankful to each of you for making my life so interesting..

What are you thankful for?

Dad’s 2013 working Staycation – Or No Vacation for you!

2013, the year that Dad’s Taxi takes a solo staycation and loves it!

staycationFor those who have been following me for a while you all know much of what I write about is tongue-in-cheek humor.. Well today’s post is from the bottom of my heart.. I’m on a self imposed working  staycation – No Vacation for me!. With due respect to the Soup Nazi from the classic Seinfeld episode!

For those who are wondering what a “Staycation” is here’s the 411 on that. When you are on staycation, you don’t go anywhere when you are on vacation, you stay at home. In my case, it’s a one person staycation. My wife and kids go away and dad stays back on his own volitoin!

My wife and one child is on their California Adventure with their cousins and Aunts and my other “almost legal” child is in Europe seeing the world. At first I thought I’d really be like a fish out of water, but in reality, it’s been kind of nice to have the house to myself and just chillax (that’s another play on words (chill + Relax). See Dad’s pretty cool that way, and he knows the lingo..

One child return tomorrow night (Dad’s taxi will be doing the duties to pick her up of course), so part of my staycation is over, in reality all of it is over!  This child is worse than having the other two (My wife and younger rock star daughter) at home. She’ll come home and run around the house and tell me what a slob I am (which I will not deny) and pick up things and clean the house like a “sharknado”.. Where I’ll be the one being eaten up.

I spent the last few days just listening to the silence that surrounds me and I kind of liked it. I caught up my recorded television programs on my DVR,

Staycation Day 1
Staycation Day 1 (Photo credit: Nostepinne)

played Softball, went to the movies, played tennis and of course went to work..so I can pay for the vacations that my wife and kids are on that I’m not on!

Now don’t feel sorry for me. I chose to stay home. I could have gone to California with my wife, my daughter, my sister-in-laws, their respective kids, but I chose not to. It was my decision. I just didn’t want deal with the chaos that this would have caused. Since, I’m pretty opinionated (Duh!) and would have been the cause of much of the conflict that I know would have happened if I had gone on the party trip!

So where am I going this year? I’m going to India! I just decided that this week. Can you guess who is going with me? Nobody! Just the 3 of us (me, myself, and I) are going. The goal of this trip is not get any bacterial infections (like I did last time), and to really just get back in touch with myself. I’m sure you say, how’s that possible?  It is if you really want to gain closure on a few things and plan for the future.

Perhaps the heat wave that finally broke last night has caught up to me, but to take a solo vacation is good for the soul. It allows the individual to be introspective and really absorb his surroundings with zero distractions. What do you think?

Now my biggest problem is when to go on my real vacation.. I will have to be before end-of-year… Of course I’ll blog on my vacation and my legions of followers (ok there are not legions, maybe 2 or 3), can follow along on my India adventure of 2013!

Hope everyone is having a great Summer 2013 and feel free to share with me your ideas of the best staycation you have had!

Oh I almost forgot the best part of my self-imposed staycation, I was able to just lounge around the house and the pool (on my floating lounge floatie) and listen to the silence! That’s what you call inner peace!

 

 

Spring Forward 2013: Beginnings of Debt Free life

Lessons I learned about debt from my father. Now I just have to apply them in my life to remain debt free.

Wipe our Debt
Wipe our Debt (Photo credit: Images_of_Money)

So this is the spring of 2013. Yet when I go outside, it still feels like Winter of 2013. The temperature is still hovering in the mid 30’s and I’m cold.

To me this spring is always the start of something new. This year, it’s the end of a burden and the start of a fresh start for something that I’ve written about in many of my postings. This topic of course is the ugly head of debt.

For the first time in over 20 years, I can truly say that I have zero credit card debt. Unfortunately, I was able to achieve this success not due to my ability to save money and pay off debts but due to the passing of my elderly father and his ability to save money for his children, so they can have the fruits of his love. The art of being frugal and saving.

I tell you, to have this burden of debt lifted off my shoulders is like having this huge elephant (that has been following me around for so many years), disappear. Now the task that remains for me is to make sure that I NEVER EVER get into this situation.

Here are some of the things my dad taught me that I didn’t learn till after he left us:

  • Live below your means. This doesn’t mean you have to live like a miser, but if you have things that work, why discard them for the latest greatest thing? For so many years, he lived with a 25-year-old 19 inch tube TV which was not even cable ready. Not until, did the picture fade, did he allow me to get him a new television. Once I got him the new flat screen, he did realize what he was missing, but he still said, “I could have lived with the old TV”. This may sound crazy to most but it makes sense to me now: This is how he lived. He didn’t need the latest greatest gadgets. He lived in a very modest apartment and to him, he had everything he needed. A sofa, recliner and his TV. He was happy with this so he could watch his beloved Yankees. Till the day he passed on, he didn’t even own a cell phone!
  • Don’t incur debts you can’t pay off – My dad, lived debt free for all his life. He never, ever had a credit card debt. As a matter of fact, he didn’t even use an ATM. If he spent $1 on credit card, he immediately wrote a check for $1 to the credit card company. I remember when he got me my first credit card when I graduated from college. He said to me: “If you can’t pay off what you buy, don’t buy it”. Now I get it.
  • Live to save for tomorrow, for tomorrow you may not have anything to save: Savings and self-preservation were the two of the mantra’s my dad lived with every day of life. He felt he would lose everything and would not be able to live independent. He didn’t want to be a burden on his kids, so he saved, saved and saved every day. I was always on his case to live a little, but he would just shake his head and say “one day you will understand”.. Well Baba, I get it now.. Thank you. 
  • Live Frugally: My dad, was so frugal that he didn’t need to buy new clothes. Ask yourself, how often do you buy new clothes, when your clothes in your closet will do just fine? Every aspect of his life defined frugality. He owned a car that was over 10 years old, everything in his home was things he had acquired from people who left stuff behind when they left the complex he lived in. He lived with the bare necessities and didn’t need much more. 
  • Vacations – Are a luxury not a necessity. When we were growing up in NYC, my dad took us on vacations, yet he only took us to places that he could afford. It was not a democracy. He worked for the airlines and we traveled by air for free and stayed in budget motels. No 3 or 4 stars for us. To me, I love vacations, but vacations always added to my debt.. I was taking vacations that I could not afford! So basically my taking 2 vacations per year put me in a deeper and deeper hole.. 

Living in debt was part of my every day life and I was (am still) obsessive/compulsive about it. I wanted to defeat it.. on my own terms.. I failed miserably. To me debt was always a moving target that no matter what strategy I tried, I could not defeat.

Today, as I look forward, living debt free is not just my goal, it is my passion. The lessons I didn’t learn over the past 20+ years will be etched in my memories. I never ever want to go backwards into that hole of despair.

I guess that’s what spring time is for, as the seasons change, so must I and grow.

Gas Money

Dad’s taxi is

Updated on 02/13/12: I figured that I’d go back to this topic since we had another implosion on this issue at my home today. Of course the conversation ended the same way as always.. Everybody stomping off in their respective spaces and being furious.

What is the right balance? Should a Dad just bite the bullet and accept the fact that his almost 20-year-old just doesn’t get it?

Maybe I am wrong. I should just accept the fact that until the “circle of life” comes around and bites someone in the a*%, they just will not get it. Getting a part-time job for a few hours a week is pretty un-reasonable (As working at McDonalds, is a step down in the social status).  Yes even as I sit here in front of my computer screen, I realize that me being a staunch supporter of the work ethic and responsibility is truly unreasonable.

For now, I’ll just continue to provide full and absolute maintenance and caring of the car and P will continue to use it to her benefit.. of course until it breaks down and Dad has to get it fixed.

When I sit back, I think I am being pretty logical to expect today’s x/y generation child to behave in this manner  Things just are given without actually earning it.

The words still reverberate in my mind when she was 13 and I first bought my “New Car”: “Dad, thanks for buying the car. Of course you know,  this car will be mine when I turn 18”. Hmm. I should have seen things for what they were at that time. Almost a sense of deja vu, but into the future. I even offered my “other car” my Oddessy but no way, that care was way “uncool” for a teenager to drive. Gosh, when I was growing up, if my dad would have offered me his Dodge Dart for Free, I’d have done the happy song.  But as the kids say today: “That was then, this is now. We just cannot be seen in an un-cool car Dad!”.

Oh well, tomorrow the brakes, then soon after the tires… After all Dad’s Taxi (My old Highlander” is no longer my tax)i, but something that I watch coming in and out of the driveway.

Am I being unreasonable? Let me know what you think..

 

*****Original post is below.

Last night I had an extensive and animated conversation with my older daughter about gas money. Specifically whose responsibility is it to pay for Gas for the car SHE drives to and from college and to drive her BFF’s around in. Needless to say.. Dad was the bad cop because he insisted on that his daughter pay for gas since he paid all the other expenses related to the car..

What do you think? If Dad pays for everything (maintenance, insurance, registration) isn’t it fair to ask the her of the car to pay for Gas? Especially when the driver does have a job which can pay for gas? Yes she doesn’t make a lot of money.. but as I remember, when I was growing up (in the ancient 70’s), I financed my car including all maintenance! Yes that 1972 Plymouth Duster should could eat up gas!

Of course many people can say “That was then, this is now Dad”, but as part of a parents responsibility is to teach their children fiscal responsibility and being able to properly determine which are fixed expenses (gas, utilities, RENT) and which are discretionary (Gifts and entertainment).

Don’t get me wrong.. my daughter is a great kid, but when it comes to money..the buck stops there. Literally!

See when she was unemployed, I paid all the expenses for my car which she uses. Now that she has some income coming in, I felt it’s time we had some equality with expense sharing.. Again, Dad is the bad cop for even asking for this!

What do you think? Am I being unreasonable? I won’t ask this question in my household in near future as my daughter now has gotten her gas funding from her… Mom..

Parenting – What’s your style?

Today, I’m going to write about a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Parenting.

What is your parenting Style

There are many  schools of thought in on parenting. Below is the two that I struggle with on a day by day basis.

  1. The Authoritarian Parent (“Micro Parenting“) – In the business world, we’ll equate this to “micro-managing” a child. In real life, this is the overbearing parent that is constantly molding, probing, prodding, and making the child in a possible self-image.
  2. The Permissive Parent (“Hands Off Parenting – In the business world, you can refer this to “no management direction at all”. In real life, this is a parent who just stays back and let’s the child make his/or her  decisions of mistakes.

How do you establish the right balance between the two?

Now I don’t consider myself to be the best parent in the world, but I have always tried to guide my kids to “do the right thing” and “be an all-rounder”.  In my house we have two kids that are not only 7 years apart but worlds apart in their DNA makeup and their outlook and perspectives.

  • The younger one, is a go-getter, extremely sensitive and wants to succeed at any cost and does whatever is necessary to reach her still evolving goals, and she’s not even a teenager yet. This is the child that is harder to manage, because she’s all over the place and always challenging the Status Quo. In my house this is my “American Idol Child”. She even blogs!
    • This child is a non-stop communicator and will not stop discussing till she gets her point across. This is more like me I guess. Of course my friends may think otherwise.
  • My older one is a teenager in college and she’s on the opposite spectrum with DNA. She’s easy-going and really just wants to “go with the flow”. This child doesn’t have much of an outward desire to excel in anything much, but just wants to “be”. I could spend hours and hours talking to her for a stretch, but the channels of communication are uni-directional. From me to her.
    • In my mind’s eye, this is a passive child who doesn’t directly interact with her environment, but treads water ever so slowly that there is not much year of year differences.
    • At times she shows flashes of brilliance and may even be misunderstood to be a “selfish, self-centered child” for only being a go-getter for things she wants for herself.

How does a parent cultivate these two unique personalities and DNA composition? what is the right balance of parenting style match the child?

For my younger one, I must always raise the bar and challenge her to excel, whereas the older one, I need to constantly push her to find something that will interest/challenge her.

For my older one, I must always push her to establish “any” goal to work to. Otherwise, I’m not sure that she will ever set a goal which will interest/challenge her.

It’s as tough balance for any parent to follow. At least I struggle to balance the needs of each of these kids.

Here are some of the things I have to catch myself from not doing to maintain an equal footing as a parent:

  • Compare the achievements of one to the other
  • Use the classic line – “Why can’t you be like your sister, she doesn’t need any push in the right direction”.
  • Punishing the one that is yet to establish or even vocalize an “attainable goal”. Of course for me this one is too easy. Just take away my child’s body attachment to social media (her blackberry, or her Mac)!
  • Praising one over the other (in front of each other), because this obviously gives the older one a “complex”. What kind of complex  you can figure that one out.
  • Using the daily/weekly/monthly parent lectures, where the child will in minutes shut down and roll his/her eyes

There are many more bad “helicopter parenting” strategies that I can write about but I think you get the idea..

Now what are successful techniques that all of us a highly paid parents do use?:

  • Rewarding positive behavior and success
  • Being friends first and then parents. Even the first part is hard to do!
  • Drawing the lines and boundaries  for acceptable behavior and enforcing these boundaries
  • Being clear, concise, honest and direct in what you expect from you child. For me, I always tell my kids this is directly associated with “doing the right thing” for any situation that the world throws at you.
  • Constant Coaching and Communication – As a parent, the lines between the two of these things have always been blurred, as my coaching style can easily be perceived as “sarcastic encouragement”.
  • Being involved with your child’s daily life, without being intrusive. Allow your child to experience success and failures in their relationships and activities as they grow up?
    • I today’s Facebook age, how can you be your child’s friend without being overstepping the boundaries of being your child’s friend?
    • For every failure there is always to successes!
  • Trust but Verify: Now this is the hardest one for me. I trust my kids to do the right thing, but I how do I verify that the right thing has truly been done?

I could go on and ramble more and more, but as a parent what strategies work for you? As a dad who is constantly trying to balance his actions with some sense of positive reinforcement, I’d like to hear from you if you have any ideas..

Dad…