Monday, August 31, 2015

Meet the new girl

FOR THE PAST few months, it's just been me and the boys. I'm not gonna lie - Tucker, Angus and I liked it that way.

Our walks were easier, we don't go through as much treats and food, and Angus and Tucker like to play together. They enjoy chasing Fast Eddie in the store, and generally keeping Sheryl and me in line.

Sheryl kept looking at Aussie and Border Collie rescue websites. Most of them were actually in Australia, so there was little chance of her finding something to bring home. On Friday morning, she found out about a stray Aussie mix in Hannibal. Michael Bayles, top dog at +BoodaLu Steakhouse,  had already paid all the adoption fees and made sure she was fixed, had her shots and was generally OK.

So on Friday afternoon, we had the newest member of the family in tow.

Meet Genie, Eugenia Rebecca Hart, and welcome her to the Hart Pack. She is shy and has a soft bark. A look at her beautiful face and a lick of her tongue tells you she's been through some sthuff. She is at least 2 years old, and wasn't fixed when found. Sheryl believes she was an outside dog - she wouldn't get in the car and had to be coaxed up the three steps into our house. She may have been used for breeding or just left to her own devices.

The other dogs were a little perplexed at first but have quickly warmed. Genie needs a little more guidance and she needs to learn not to snatch food off a plate, but that stuff just takes time. She is skittish when too much is going on and, like Tucker, will take time to socialize and adapt. We are patient.

She's already trained to stay with the boys on our daily walks. She is beginning to chase after Angus' toys. She sleeps on a pile of blankets and doesn't make a peep through the night. We'll bring her to the store every now and then but not too much at first.

In other words, she's right at home. And we couldn't be happier.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Old photos and memories

Mom with Emily
EVERYBODY HAS OLD pictures stored in boxes in dusty closet corners. When it's been 20 years since you've seen them, well.... it's very cool.

Emily is home for the week and found a bunch of photos. I don't even remember seeing many of these. The one of my mother and Emily is especially poignant.

Yes, Emily. Your old man is a total geek. The big glasses and bad early 1990s haircuts are evidence, not that you really needed it.

I'm going back and smiling while staring at the images of Alpena, Big Star Lake in Baldwin, the early years in Quincy - wait a second, is that the old Indian Mounds pool?

I used to drag Emily around in that sled. We dug huge holes in the beach. Your aunt and uncle look so very young, holding you so very proudly. And you did love that old toy box - usually you were in it after emptying it out.

I guess you can't go back. But you can look back. Thanks for the photos, Emily. I'm still smiling!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Putting the band to work

Tuning, Play Testing and unpacking Luna Guitars

AS USUAL, ROCKIN' Jake and the boys put on a great show at the Club Tavern Wednesday night. I got to jam a little bit with them, taking care of a bucket list item and having more fun than you should be allowed to have.

The boys bunked up again in the back of Second String Music. This morning we got a huge Dean and Luna shipment - all kinds of gorgeous acoustic guitars and ukuleles. So I put the band to work before they hit the road to St. Louis and Cape Girardeau.

Cleveland, the bass player, unpacked guitars. Mark, the lead guitar player, tuned them up, plugged them in and gave each one a good strum. They were like kids in the candy store, all fired up about new instruments and making noise.

I let them play for a bit. Cleveland is on the Shaker.
We wrapped it up with a late-morning jam - did you know Phil Collins writes great blues songs? Well, not really. But you can play them blues style.

Best of luck to Jake and his guys as they wrap up a long month on the road. Fast Eddie was happy for the company, last night too - we can't wait for them to head back to the Q-Town!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Open at 11

WE OPENED THE store at 11 a.m. today, an hour later than usual. Sheryl had a doctor's appointment and I was playing at the Illinois Veterans Home. It was the first time in the nearly five years we've opened late.

Sheryl and I are an island, always here and rockin'. Every now and then Steve Rees comes in to help us out if we head out of town, and it's greatly appreciated. We open early and stay late all the time. It's a small and family-owned business. We think it's part of why we are doing so well.

If I go to a business and there's a sign on the door that says they'll be open in an hour, I probably wouldn't be happy. But I'd understand, especially if I know the owners.

Of course, as soon as I opened the doors people started piling in and I sold a really nice guitar right off the bat. Then Emily showed up with her college roommate, and then Rockin' Jake and his crew pulled up - they have another gig at The Club tonight and they are staying at Chez Second String.

Maybe we oughta open an hour later every day. Nah. We enjoy our lives and the store hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.  Thanks for your understanding and support!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Talking dogs

TUCKER AND ANGUS can talk. We have conversations with them all the time. Sheryl says, "He can't understand a word you are saying." I beg to differ.

In a little while Dr. Drew Kaiser from Katherine Road Animal Hospital arrives for his weekly guitar lesson. Angus and Tucker were at his place yesterday for their shots. I know what will happen when Drew strolls in the door.

"Uh oh," Tucker will say, a worried look on his Border Collie face. "Here comes the guy who jabbed us with needles."

I think the guy with the needles is coming for his lesson!
"Oh no," Angus will say. "The nurse had to lift your tail up so they could take your temperature, after they took mine. This guy is EVIL."

"At least he took out the staples from my cut," Tucker said. "Come to think of it, he did a pretty good job on my broken leg last year, too."

There will be some sniffing and yelping and general complaining. But they always seem to warm up to Drew after a few minutes. He strokes
their ears and always talks to them, and they calm right down.

I can imagine the conversations at the house. "Uh, when are you guys gonna finish the floors? I keep slipping and I'm gonna pull a hammy," Tucker says.

"The kitchen is a mess. You fixing the roof and putting up trim soon?" Angus says.

"Then there's the garage. What a disaster. When are they fixing the fence? It's our job to try and escape and you make it too easy," Tucker says.

The boys are happy, generally. Tucker says, "I need a little love" before he hops up on my lap. Angus says, "Play with me NOW dangit" every night before bed. They communicate and understand better than most people.

It's a dog life. We're just in it for the conversations.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Christmas in August - new guitars!

ONE OF THE best parts about owning a music store is unpacking the new guitars. We got a shipment of beautiful Ibanez acoustic and electric guitars this morning. Pulling them out of the packages and tuning them up is waaaaaaaay too much fun. I'm like a kid at Christmas.

It's times like these when I realize how blessed and lucky I am at Second String Music. I have a great wife who does all the hard stuff like paperwork and ordering. I sit around, strum guitars, talk to people, give guitar lessons, play music on the weekends and just generally try to stay out of the way.

It ain't easy, being your own boss and running a small business. Every day is a new adventure and you deal with a lot of, um, interesting stuff. Like the Outside People, who walk in front of the store cursing on their cell phones. Move along, nothing to see here, nothing to see here at all.

Hanging out at Fifth and Maine sure beats working for a living!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Where are you from and going home

EMILY IS COMING "home" for a week. It's the first time she's been back in Quincy since last December. She is armed with a Master's Degree from Eastman School of Music and preparing for a fellowship at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto.

In other words, she's living quite the life.

All this moving can make you wonder where "home" is.
What do you consider "home" to be? In my case, it's Quincy. I've been here 19 years. I'm not a native, but I'm totally at home here. Last weekend I was up in Wisconsin working for Gus Macker and I was proud to say I was from Quincy, though few people up there know where Quincy is located. I just said "not Chicago" and it seemed to work.

I moved five times in my first 15 years. That's not nearly as much as an Army brat, but it's still a lot. I guess technically I'm "from" Grand Rapids, Michigan, where we lived when I was in high school. It's a lovely place to visit. But it's not home.

Home is about identity. It helps define you. I hope Emily can say with pride she is from Quincy. Growing up in Quincy (she was 5 when we moved here) served her well, I think.

I miss her. I'm glad she'll be home for a few days, with a big wide world awaiting.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Canceled shows and bridge lightings

CORI LYSSY AND I were supposed to play Saturday night at a local bar. I got called this morning, and the venue is pulling the show because of "too many conflicts." The biggest thing Saturday is our bridge lighting event at Clat Adams Park, which should attract a lot of people if the weather holds.

Let's hope it's a nice night. I'm glad our friends Liz Bentley and Matt Roberts are getting a chance to play at a very cool event.

HartLyss .... AKA Beauty & The Beast. You decide.
We have two choices here - we can get ticked off, or we can deal with it. Obviously we are not happy about a venue canceling our gig two days before it's scheduled, but I talked with the manager and we've worked it out, and we will hopefully reschedule soon.

It's a little different with a full band having a show called off - a lot more people get hosed, and scheduling is much more difficult.

Like most acts around here, we rely on handshake agreements for shows. Occasionally that backfires. But really, what good does it do to get all high and mighty and jump up and down? Good places to play in Quincy are hard enough to find. Not long ago I had to call a bar and reschedule a show, though it was seven weeks before we were scheduled. You just do what has to be done and move forward.

Cori and I have been working hard to learn new songs and we were going to spring some surprises on an unsuspecting public Saturday night. But HartLyss plays again a week from Friday at State Street Bar in Quincy, and we suspect we'll get a good crowd, especially since we don't play until 9 and the last Blues In The District Show will be done right around then. We have a slew of shows coming up in the next month-plus.

So. It looks like I have a nice weekend off, though we are available for any last-second gigs. It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

School memories

TODAY IS THE first day of school in Quincy. That means lots of Facebook posts with photos of kids. Why anybody would ever want to embarrass their child on social media is beyond me. I've never plastered pictures of Emily on Facebook. Ever. Honest.

My cousin, Natalie Hart, posted a great blog about her memories of her first day in high school. She used the word "exorcising" in the title. I have no recollection of my first day in high school. None. I've tried to exorcise most of my high school memories, and largely succeeded.

In high school, I was a Geek. NOT a Nerd. 
By the time I entered 10th grade, it was my third school in three years. We moved from London, Ontario, to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and things were very different. I was a skinny geek with no social skills and no clue about life in general. Thankfully I did make friends, but I can remember maybe 10 or 15 people from my class, and that's it.

I got bullied and shunned. I suppose it's about the unfairness of life, and how you cope, and all that crap. Whatever. So I've blocked a lot of it out. I do remember graduation and the immense sense of relief I was done. Little did I know I had four or five more years of institutionalized learning to go, though college was much better.

I survived high school by playing sports and staying awake in class, most of the time. Now some names and faces are coming back, and I'm smiling a little bit. Gosh. I was so young and dumb, really, really dumb.

I have great respect for teachers and administration in our schools. My daughter got a great education in Quincy. There are so many good things about our school system. And your experiences are largely about what you make of them.

Good luck on the first day of school. I hope the memories are positive.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ninja Turtles and Mountain Dew Sweatpants

EVERY NOW AND then you get a weird day where everybody seems strange and wacky behavior is the norm. And that's just the people who own the store.

Monday was Freaky Monday at Second String Music. It started when one of our Outside People was cursing loudly on her phone right outside the store. Sheryl asked her to please move along. She didn't take kindly to the suggestion. Sheryl asked again, with a bit more emphasis, walking toward her. Then she moved sloooowwwwly along.

There were a range of interesting phone calls. Musicians have a wide variety of needs and wants - but we didn't have any drums with plastic tips on both ends, or "swell-octave" pedals, or TASCAM five channel cord adapters. Hey. We try and understand everyone needs more swell.

Then there was the woman who needed "150 Original Exercises" but didn't realize that different keys had a specific book. She questioned Sheryl and then glanced down at the book. "Um, this one is defective," she said. Defective? It had a slight mark on the bottom corner. Sheryl happily found her a perfect one, and now our customer has an $8 music book free of defects. All good, and we aim to please.

A couple came into the store to buy a single string. Their matching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles T-shirts proclaimed them a committed pair. Sheryl complimented the couple and they left the store with smiles on their faces.

What took the cake was the guy on his bike who stared through the window, then came rushing into the store. He was wearing Mountain Dew sweatpants and his eyes weren't really focused, if you know what I mean. He had a stack of DVDs in his arms. "I don't have my ID on me so they won't take them, do you want to buy a DVD?" he said. I assume the pawn shop needs a person to have ID when they have stuff to sell.

I've already seen all the Star Wars movies, and Game of Thrones, so I was good. Mountain Dew Man couldn't understand why I wouldn't want them. He bowed his head and went back outside and pedaled back to, well, wherever he came from.

This morning has been more normal, if you can define normal. Every day is an adventure, in some ways.

Beats working for a living, if you ask me.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Doggie Photo Bomb

ANGUS AND TUCKER have settled in quite nicely as the only two dogs in the house. We take them to the store almost every day and they are mostly well-behaved.

Angus still has that irascible Corgi thing going. He especially gets wound up right around the time we go to bed. He jumps up and demands we play with him, and for more than a few minutes.

I'm watching you .....
I went up to Wisconsin over the weekend to work for Gus Macker. Sheryl sent me this photo Saturday morning - either Angus missed me, or he was just glad there was more room on the bed. And the gleam in his eyes? It's there, always.

But what's really classic is Tucker's face poking up from behind the bed. He's just that kind of photo-bombing dog, really. "What? Me? I'm just seeing what's going on. I'm not trying to ruin a photo," he said.

I got home early this morning after a long weekend, and it was so nice to be greeted by happy dogs. Tucker made sure to ask if I saw him in the photo. "I just want you to know I missed you too, dad," he said.

Well. I missed my guys, too. And my wife. And the Q-Town. Everything is back to order this morning. We'll sleep when we're dead. And we'll photo-bomb puppy pictures, every time.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The band is sleeping at the store

OUR GOOD FRIENDS in the Rockin' Jake Band were in Quincy last night, playing a show at the Club Tavern. It's always a blast to see Jake, Cleveland, Maurice and new guitar player Mark Otis. They tore it up on a weeknight in front of a great crowd - Quincy loves its blues bands, that's for sure.

We love these guys!
We've known Jake and the band for a few years since they played a Blues In The District gig sponsored by Second String Music. We sold Maurice a drum kit and he used it on the Washington Park gazebo stage that night. Sheryl also worked miracles and saved Cleveland's Ibanez bass from the scrap pile - he still uses it and it still sounds great.

We were watching them last night and during the first break, Jake mentioned they were having a tough time finding a cheap hotel room. This is the start of an exhaustive tour for the Florida-based band, where they play every night and often rely on friends, new and old, to help them out.

Playing in a touring band is a blast, but life on the road isn't easy. Sheryl and I would have gladly let the guys stay at the Hart Mansion in Calftown, but her nephew has taken over the upstairs temporarily.

"You guys could stay at the store," I said. "Lots of room in the back. Air conditioning, clean bathroom, refrigerator and comfortable couches." Rockin' Jake knows about the back room at Second String Music - it's been his staging area for his Blues In The District shows. It was a hearty and grateful "YES." Of course, Maurice already had a place to stay... Drummers. GUH.

"The coffee and donuts at Second String Music ROCK." - Rockin Jake
They loved hanging with Fast Eddie and got a good night's sleep on the couches and floor mattresses. They got up early this morning and after coffee and donuts - a staple and must if you play in a touring blues band - they headed for Iowa. They have a good gig lined up tonight, with a plush hotel.

Jake and the boys are hoping to come back later this month. They love the Q-Town. We love to help out a great band on the long and lonely blues road. It's a perfect match.

Rock on, Jake. You always have a place to crash in when you come to Quincy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Road trip for Gus

I AM HEADING up to Wisconsin Friday to work for Gus Macker. I'm getting just a little bit fired up about it.

I worked for Gus for seven years, traveling the Midwest on weekends. Mostly I did the Dream Court and worked with Gus Busters. Every tournament was different and the organizers were great. When I joined the Cheeseburgers in 2010, most of my weekends got sucked up, so I had to bow out of the 3-on-3 road shows.

Gosh ... so many stories and so much fun. Sure, there were some challenges and misunderstandings along the way. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I have to thank Sheryl for manning the store and keeping dogs happy while I take off to parts unknown. It's a busy weekend in the Q-Town, as usual, with a Blues In The District on Friday and the Knights of Columbus end of summer party going on.

But I have the itch again. Gus has a spot for me this weekend. I'm climbing in the chariot Friday morning and heading off for another adventure.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

NoWake and making music

HANNIBAL BAND NOWAKE wants to make another CD. So the band is using Kickstarter to raise funds. The hard-rocking foursome is following up last year's CD, Getaway.

First of all, you have to respect guys who pursue their own music, and want to get it professionally recorded. It isn't cheap - the band estimates it will cost $2,000 to make the CD. A local band doesn't make nearly enough from CD sales or shows to cover costs. It's a labor of love and it takes passion and dedication to pursue original music projects.

Kickstarter is a very interesting way to raise funds online. The company says since it launched six years ago, 9.2 million people have pledged nearly $2 billion to fund 90,000 creative projects. There are rules, but the artists control the project and get backers involved.

Best of luck to the Nowake guys. We encourage you to support local musicians pursue their dreams. As always, rock on!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Bridges and islands and riverfronts

APPARENTLY IT'S GOING to cost the Quincy Park District $5 million to build a new bridge to Quinsippi Island. Whaaaaaaat?

The bridge was built in 1868 and redone in 1899. And we wonder why we need a new one. Oh, it was also a railroad bridge until 1977.

I love Quincy and the sense of history around here, but the bridge to the island reeks of ignoring present needs. I am not blaming anybody or the Park District for waiting so long. It's just kind of the way things work around here.

I'm not too worried about the island's log cabins and shelters. A bigger issue is the marina on the island, which is less than full. If the bridge is closed, how will people get to their boats? By boat? Maybe our buddies Steve Rees and James McKinney, who have places just up the river, can open a ferry service.

Would it be possible to relocate the marina to this side of the river? You know, where a few businesses might be able to open up, too. You know, like, riverfront development. Quincy has never completely figured out the whole river thing. Big business has, which is why driving into town on Ill. 57 can be a little depressing.

Ironically, the Quincy Park District relocated its offices to the riverfront not long ago. Is there room for a dock or two over there? I'm ignorant about such things, I guess.

But I don't want to spend $5 million on a bridge, either.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Boyd on board for school music

SECOND STRING MUSIC is proud to announce we are partnering with Boyd Music to provide school band instruments.

Band Instruments through Boyd!
Boyd is out of Jacksonville, Ill., and already works with many of our county schools. They are smart and hard-working people who do their best to bring value and quality to band instruments. Craig and Mindy Boyd came to the store yesterday with our first shipment, and we even sold a beautiful Jupiter trumpet right out of the gate.

Boyd Music has nearly 60 years of experience in the field. They stress the importance of starting your child out on a good quality instrument to have the best possible chance for success. Outright purchases are also available – as well as a 90-day payoff at additional savings. Now our instruments, whether you rent or buy, can be serviced locally. And the Boyds are some of the nicest people we've met on this wild and crazy ride called the music business.

Sheryl spent most of the day Thursday getting the items into our computer system and figuring out the paper work. I, as usual, gave lessons, talked to people about guitars and got ready for a gig. I lead a charmed life, for sure.

School starts in a little more than a week. WHAT? Yup, that soon. If you child is expressing an interest, come on down to Fifth and Maine.

As always.... When you buy or rent any instrument at Second String Music, you receive 4 free private lessons at Vancil Performing Arts Music department at 8th & Ohio. Frank has great teachers for every instrument plus piano and voice teachers too!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Why didn't I know about Steve Goodman?

I'VE HEARD HIS songs all my life. But I never knew anything about him.

How is that possible?

A while back, a guitar student suggested I learn the song "City of New Orleans." Not the Arlo Guthrie or Willie Nelson version, he said. The original version. The best version.

The Steve Goodman version.

Steve Goodman was a Chicago guy. He wrote amazing songs. He was an amazing acoustic guitar player. I like to think I know a little something about music. How did I not know about this guy, being from Illinois and all?

Another student said, "When I went to Western Illinois University in the late 1970s, all my Chicago buddies came down with four or five albums, and two or three of them were by Steve Goodman."

Goodman is most known for writing "You Never Even Call Me By My Name." Another guy made it famous. Goodman's version is way better. Look it up on YouTube.

He was anti-establishment and a huge Cub fan. He died of cancer in 1984. I can only imagine how much more great music he would have made.

So. I'm way late on the Steve Goodman train. I'm hopping on and trying to make up for lost time.

I leave with a concert video from the 1970s. Just watch the first song. It's two minutes long. He ambles onto the stage and there's tepid applause from the audience. They have no idea who he is. He tears through the first tune and the reaction is electric.

I'm cheering, too.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Ask nicely, and maybe we'll play it

THE CHEESEBURGERS JUST finished a good summer run of shows. We played last Saturday night at One Restaurant & Bar, and we had a decent crowd. Quite a few stayed all night and had a great time, and I thought we played pretty well.

I like it when people request songs. The Cheeseburgers play a variety of classic rock, country and blues tunes. We've been known to try a song we've never played, depending on the venue and atmosphere. We have no shame. We play Cheesey music, and that's the whole point.

About halfway through our third set Saturday night, a guy in the balcony started yelling at the top of his lungs as we prepared to launch into a song. "Play some Johnny Cash!" he yelled. "Jaw. Nee. CASH."

Apparently this guy wasn't around during the first set, when we played an entire medley of Johnny Cash songs. I think he was sitting with a woman, who didn't look impressed. He kept yelling. Finally, he threw up his hands and wheeled around to his table. Then apparently he left the building.

Look. I get it. You like Johnny Cash. You wanted to hear Johnny Cash. You weren't happy we didn't play any more Johnny Cash.

I think there are certain expectations when you go see a band. You want to hear songs you like. The band is there to entertain you. That's how it works.

I think 99 percent of the people who come see us know what we are about. They know we bust our butts and try to please everybody who comes. I'm sorry the guy who wanted more Johnny Cash wasn't happy. It wasn't for our lack of trying.

I'm just gonna Walk The Line and forget about it. And maybe learn a few more Johnny Cash songs.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Short stay at QND

QUINCY NOTRE DAME lost its boys basketball coach Sunday. Well, actually, Friday. It's a sad tale and I sincerely hope the coach didn't let the door hit his butt on the way out.

You can read the whole sorry story here. As usual, Matt Schuckman at The Whig was the first to find out about the coach taking a job in New Mexico. A newspaper there reported it Friday. As he left Quincy Notre Dame for the final time, I can only imagine the surprise the coach had at seeing Matt there, waiting for him. Naturally, he had no comment.

Coaching at Notre Dame has its share of advantages and challenges. You can't work for a better person than Bill Connell. But you better be prepared to live up to huge expectations, and work with a unique group of athletes, boosters and parents.

Now Notre Dame is left with a bunch of what ifs. The team had a good summer at camps, from all reports. There was no sign the coach was unhappy. Sure, this was his sixth job in seven years, and he's 67 years old, but he's a legend. He'd win. All was good at 10th and Jackson.

You are only as good as your word. He agreed to coach at Quincy Notre Dame. He told everybody that he was happy to be here, and wanted to be here. Can you say QND was sold a bill of goods? You can.

I'm sure he has his side of the story, not that we'll ever hear it.

One wonders what the folks in New Mexico think or were told. They'll find out, I'm sure, just who they hired.

I'm not a QND guy. My daughter went to the public schools, played basketball at Quincy High School, and got a great education. But I like the people at Notre Dame and I am glad when the Raiders do well and represent Quincy.

See ya, coach. As The Whig put it so eloquently, we hardly knew ye.

I hope your butt still hurts during that long drive to New Mexico.

Monday, August 3, 2015

No screens, better family

THE MOTHER AND father were losing their kids. So they decided to institute a "screen-free time" every day, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

During those hours, nobody in the house is allowed to access a screen - television, computer, phone. The two kids were spending too much time with their noses buried in front of images and video games.

It didn't go well, at first. The dad came home from work at 5:30 on the second day, and asked where his 13-year-old son was. "He's in bed," announced the mother. In bed? Now? "He threw a fit when he couldn't play his video game. So he went to bed," the mother said, with a shrug.

The children weren't happy. It took a good week to adjust. But slowly, very slowly, changes emerged.

The kids started talking, first to each other, then to mom and dad. The moods started to brighten. Stuff started getting done.

The father was collapsed on the couch last Saturday. It was five minutes after 4. He was watching a golf tournament, enjoying alone time. His 8 year old daughter walked into the room and said, "Uh, dad? Screen time is off. That goes for you too, you know."

The father had two choices. He could either ignore his daughter, or play by the rules. So he turned off the television. He went outside with his daughter. They started playing a game. Suddenly it was 6 p.m. and time to eat.

That night, the father noticed that the kitchen was a disaster. Both parents work and try their best to keep a clean house, but with two kids and schedules, well ... it's tough.

So the father had an idea. He motioned to his son and they stepped into the kitchen. "If you clean the counters, do the dishes and put some stuff away, I will give you some screen time," the father said.

"How much?" said the son.

"Ten minutes," dad said.

"Make it 15," the son said.


So the kitchen got cleaned and the son got 15 hard-earned minutes on the computer. Then he turned off this video game and read a book. In fact, all four family members sat in the living room and read. It was quiet. And the father realized something.

"It's amazing," he says. "We are a family again."

Imagine that.