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Macho Madness Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes
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A few years ago - in fact, it was one of my first columns - I wrote about the changes my wife, Donnelle, and I were going through as our children prepared to leave home.

Our daughter, Rachel, had recently graduated from CSU Stanislaus, and was engaged to her high school boyfriend, Danny. Rachel had lived at home for all but one of her years in college, and she was preparing to move to Spokane in Washington State with Danny after they were married. Danny had joined the Air Force and was preparing to go through SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) school.

Kevin, our son, had just graduated high school. He was going to UC Santa Barbara, where he would live in a dorm.

All of this was going to occur within a timeframe of just a couple of months.

While both of our children were looking forward to their coming adventures, Donnelle and I realized we would soon become empty nesters.

After that column ran I received a number of emails and comments about how much Donnelle and I would enjoy our time together when we entered the empty nest phase of our lives. Many kind-hearted individuals said we would value this time once we made the adjustment to not having our kids live at home.

I think we were both a bit skeptical. We had both put so much effort into raising our kids, and were struggling with the fact we wouldn't see them everyday.

I really enjoyed being a parent. In fact, although I've had some success in my previous career as well as in my current gig as a reporter, I always felt the one thing I did extremely well was being a dad.

I rock as dad.

But over the past few years, I discovered the comments and emails I had received were completely accurate. I could also be a husband. And a grandparent. And, much to my surprise, I'm still a dad.

Although the issues and challenges my kids now face have changed over the years, the issues are still there. And, to my everlasting delight, Kevin and Rachel still seek my guidance at times.

Fast forward four years: Rachel and Danny are waiting for the birth of their second child, and Rachel's due date is one day after Kevin's graduation. Danny is a SERE instructor, and Kevin is looking forward to starting a career after obtaining a great job in Southern California.

And while Donnelle and I have learned to treasure our time as a couple, we are about to move back into our roles as everyday mom and dad again in a big way.

First, the logistics. Kevin's graduation is on a Saturday, while Rachel's due date is Sunday. Of course, I fully expect my grandson to arrive on Kevin's graduation day. That's how it usually works, it seems.

But this is where Donnelle thrives. Using the same focus and planning that probably went into D-Day in World War II, Donnelle soon had flights booked, hotel reservations made, and travel itineraries in place.

Altogether, she coordinated plans for me, Kevin, Kevin's girlfriend, Sarah, and herself to travel over 2,800 miles via plane and auto over a period of a few days.

Thankfully, our niece (and Rachel's cousin), Jenna, was able to fly to Spokane to care for our granddaughter, Maddie, when Rachel goes into labor. Even if Rachel has the baby early, Donnelle and I will be able to watch Kev receive his diploma and celebrate his graduation with family and friends.

Then, we are all going to Spokane to celebrate the arrival of this new person to join our family.

And the empty nest part?

Kev doesn't start his job until August, and Rachel and Maddie and the baby are coming home to stay with us in July while Danny attends a month long training course.

So we'll have a houseful of kids and grandkids to keep us company for part of the summer.

To quote the sage Jeff Spicoli from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High":

"Awesome! Totally Awesome!" ...

Craig Macho is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.