Happy Birthday Jenn!!

Wednesday, December 29, 1982 wasn’t that different from most December days in Cedar Rapids. Cloudy and cold. Very, Very Cold!

While Christmas Day was a blistering 40˚ and the week before was in the 50’s. Like usual in Iowa, the weather changed overnight.

This December day was a balmy 17˚, with 16 mphwinds. Thankfully, all the snow had melted during the Christmas heat wave, so we didn’t need to deal with ice on the roads.

My plan was to work close to home while Kayleen was in her last month of pregnancy. Especially now that she was 5 days overdue. Without cell phones, the only way to check on Kayleen was to stop at a pay phone, (those archaic devices that used to be on almost every street corner) deposit a quarter and call her on our land line at home. Only on this day she wasn’t answering the phone.

My unease led me to quit work early and head home. Walking in the front door, it seemed no one was home. Further investigation found my son Jason in bed for an afternoon nap, but Kayleen was nowhere to be found. With no response to my calling out her name, my anxiety intensified.

Walking through the house she was not to be found. Then, a noise from the basement led me to wonder if that was her. Thinking it couldn’t be, we never go in the basement. In fact, we had only gone downstairs one time in the six months we had lived in the rental. The day we first looked at it. With very little furniture and no need for storage, why go in the dark, damp basement. Thankfully, it was Kayleen.

There she was… A very large, nine month plus pregnant woman scrubbing the basement clean. Walls, floors, anything she could find to clean. Wondering out loud what she was doing, and why the basement? She gave me that “What do you think I’m doing” look. With a little prodding on my part, she put down the scrub brush and headed upstairs for a nap. Doing my best to keep her resting, she was noticeably anxious. As Yoda might have said, “The Nesting Force was strong with this one”.

We’re not sure what we did for dinner that night but by 9:00pm Kayleen was saying it was time to head to the hospital. Dropping Jason off with a lady we knew from church, who was also our landlord, we headed to the hospital. With no snow and ice to contend with, it was a fast trip. Taking our time parking and getting into the hospital, we were confident that we still had hours to go before meeting our new baby. After all, with our first-born, Jason, labor lasted over eleven hours. Certainly, this one would be at least half of that. After a quick diagnosis by the emergency staff, we were rushed into the delivery room. Everyone was asking, “Why did you wait so long”? We just chocked it up to the naiveté of young, 2nd time parents.

Wondering if Jason would have a brother or a sister didn’t last too long. Kayleen’s labor lasted about an hour and half. At 11:20 pm central daylight savings time, we had our answer. Like with Jason, the hospital let me be with Kayleen for the delivery and to cut the umbilical cord. What a blessing to be there for that first breath of our new baby.

To my surprise, our baby had a full head of long, dark hair. My first thought was Kayleen, we had a Beatle. Ha! In a few minutes we were introduced to our new little girl. Weighing in at 9lbs,12 oz and 22” long, she seemed almost grown. With all that beautiful hair, she also had the most beautiful olive skin. We had a daughter! Like with Jason, we knew her name before she was born. Jennifer Elizabeth McCuen. Our own little JEM.

Almost four years after our first baby was born, we now were blessed to have two beautiful, healthy kids. A boy and a girl. While we thought we were done having children at that point. Thankfully, God had other plans. Jason proved to be a wonderful older brother, caring and attentive, helping Mom whenever he could.

When Jason was born, we thought things were tough financially. The economy was awful, and we really struggled to get by. Fortunately, we were able to find an apartment manager’s job, so rent was never an issue. Moving to Cedar Rapids from Iowa City, we followed the same plan, finding a manager’s job in a nice complex. Well, as soon as we knew Jennifer was on her way, we could no longer serve as managers. Rather than pay rent at the apartment, we opted to find a house to rent. This would provide more room for our growing family. While attending our first church, we met a lady that had a nice house for rent. With a basement that needed cleaning. 😊

Spending our first five years as managers and not paying rent was great, but it taught us some bad habits. Given that economy was 10 times worse in 1982 than when Jason was born, jobs for me were scarce and Kayleen couldn’t work with our new baby and a four-year-old in tow. We had extreme difficulty paying rent. So much so that by the time Jennifer was 2, she had lived in six houses.

Probably the worst financial time of Kayleen and my time together. There are too many stories from that time to fit in this story. Suffice it to say, we became experts at moving and avoiding landlords. Except the one that took us on a high-speed chase on the gravel back roads near a farm house were renting. He caught us.

During this time, we were diligent in attending our new church, praising God for so many blessings, even during all our challenges. Praying constantly and trusting God to help. Looking back, it is easy to see the many times He favored us with love and grace. People went out of their way to help. Truth be known, we never went hungry nor lacked a roof over our head. It is my belief that it was those times that strengthened us for anything that would come at us in years to come. After all, it couldn’t be much worse than six houses in two years. Through it all God answered our prayers abundantly, defining a path that would lead us to Arizona and prosperity.

From the day she was born, Jennifer was full of personality and love. There was rarely a person (or animal) that she didn’t quickly befriend. She always looked at the world through a smile. From the time Jennifer could talk and walk, she was always singing and dancing. If she was having a tough time it seemed all we need to do was put on some music and all was better. The only thing better than a song was a movie with music.

When she was one, she started watching the Wizard of Oz on our VCR. By the time she was two, she HAD to watch it EVERY day. At least once. If not multiple times. This went on for the better part of a year. As parents, we were concerned that this might cause problems going forward. No matter what we tried to get her attention away from the movie, she would always ask to watch OZ. There were probably a lot of worse movies that she could have gotten hooked on. Still we were perplexed.

Then we heard the news, there was a new OZ movie coming out from Disney. First, we tried to keep the news to ourselves. It didn’t take long before Jennifer knew and started asking for us to take her to see it. She was so excited. Her eyes beamed with anticipation of another trip to OZ. Still, my thoughts revolved around how we were going to be able to afford to take her to the movie theater every day. Who knew how long it would be before the new movie would come out on video tape.

Finally, off to the movie we went. To our surprise the new version was radically different from the original. Dark and bleak, with Dorothy’s friends as scary as any of the bad guys. Noticeably missing music, it didn’t feel at all like a return to OZ. More like a Halloween movie including a main character called Jack Pumpkinhead. Wondering what Jennifer’s reaction would be, we kept peaking at our little girl on the edge of her seat, eyes glued to the screen. After piling everyone back into the car, we anxiously waited to hear what Jennifer thought. To this day, the only thing she has ever said about the movie was “I don’t like that Pumpkinhead man. He scares me”. That was the end to all things OZ for our Jennifer. It wasn’t long before Jennifer replaced her daily OZ routine with Sesame Street and Soap Operas. Yes, Soap Operas, her favorite, “Days of Our Lives”.

In June of 1984, Jennifer’s best friend was born. Her sister Jaclyn. From the day Jackie came home they were inseparable. At only eighteen months apart in age, they were more like twins than just siblings. They shared clothes, friends and untold adventures growing up. To this day, one of my favorite sounds is to hear them both laughing uncontrollably together, which happens a lot. When their Mom joins the fray; it’s time for the guys to just sit back, watch and laugh along.

When asked what she wanted to do when she grew up Jennifer would always say, “I’m going to be an actress on a soap opera in New York City”. This led to her love of all things New York, New York. We weren’t looking forward to our little girl trying to make it in the city that never sleeps. However, her drive and commitment to study her art and work towards her dreams was the kind of thing that makes parents proud. She stayed out of trouble and diligently worked towards her goals.

As things will do, her goals evolved. She had met a lot of very talented and like-minded friends in Phoenix from High School and College. Most were headed for careers in the film industry. So off to LA for our Jennifer following her dreams that started so long ago on that “Yellow Brick Road”. While she prefers to be behind the camera rather than in front of it now. For almost ten years Jennifer has stuck to her dreams and weathered the ups and downs of molding a career in the film industry. With her longtime boyfriend Alex, a herd of animals and her unwavering commitment, there’s no doubt that she’ll make her mark on that town.

Happy Birthday Jenn!

All Our Love, All Ways!

Mom & Dad


Happy 45th Anniversary Kayleen!

The Love of My Life!

Here are my memories of that wonderful day 43 years ago today.

Throughout our marriage, music has been a big part of our lives. As you read the story and look at the pictures. Please “click” on the songs to hear some of the songs that were the “Soundtrack” of our blessed marriage.


Way back in the 70’s, working at one of my first jobs; I was scurrying to get some mission accomplished, when I collided head-on into this girl going the opposite direction. When I looked up to see if I had killed her, I saw the most beautiful greenish-brown eyes. Their beauty was only equaled by the most wonderfully warm and welcoming smile I’d ever seen. This was the first time that I ever truly looked at the love of my life, Kayleen. Sure, I’d seen her before, but I never really looked into those eyes, felt that smile. To this day, I have no clue what we said. Since that collision, I have never been able to get her out of my head, nor my heart. Not that I’ve tried. Those eyes, and that smile are as infectious and loving today as ever. On that day, God truly answered my prayers, blessing me with the love of my life.

We Were Always Sweethearts, Boz Scaggs:

After that “accidental” meeting. We have been, for the most part, inseparable. Sure, we have spent lots of time apart, physically. But for me, I carry her with me always. If I’m down, if I’m missing her, all I need do is think of those eyes, that smile. Then, all’s good.


After that impromptu meeting at work, it still took a while to get things moving in our relationship. I believe the hallway crash happened in June-July and we didn’t really start dating until September of the same year. We’ll always remember that first weekend together thanks to Jerry Lewis. It was Labor Day weekend and no matter what time we turned on the TV. There was the MDA Labor Day Telethon with Jerry and a host of celebrities.

Dinah-Flo, Boz Scaggs:

We were destined to be together. God was not only ordering our steps. He also had placed so many people in our lives that literally were pushing the two of us together.


Starting with a wonderful friend at work named Donny. A gregarious Irishman in his early 50’s, late 40’s; Donny was just about the happiest guy I’ve ever met. No more than 5 ½ feet tall, with peppered black hair and bright shiny eyes. Donny was all smiles, all the time. Every time that I would see Donny when Kayleen wasn’t around, he would say something like … “That Kayleen sure is a Keeper”, or, “That Kayleen sure likes you!”. If by chance Kayleen and I were together, Donny would always comment. “What a Great looking Couple you two are!”. Truly, Donny was a fan. Kayleen has told me about a lady that she worked with named Noreen who was a huge fan as well. It seemed God had enlisted everyone in the place to ensure that Kayleen and I got together.

Near You, Boz Scaggs

Still, with all the matchmaking it wasn’t quite enough. I was shy and so was Kayleen. Or so I thought.

Earlier that summer, I decided to buy a car. Keeping up with my lifelong quest to be different, I chose not to buy a “Guys” car. Muscle cars were all the rage back then, and we all worked on each other’s cars to make them as loud and fast as we could. So, if I wanted to tool around in a “muscle” car, all I had to do was call a friend.

I’m Not Like Everybody Else, The Kinks


Then, one day I saw it. The perfect car for me. A 4 door, 1965 Mercedes Benz 190E. Leather seats and that Huge Chrome Grill. Perfect! Even better. It was only $2,000 and I qualified for payments. This car taught me that you usually get what you pay for … While it was beautiful, it didn’t run well and struggled to make it up some minor hills. Who cared. It looked great. The car served its purpose getting me back and forth to work. Especially since going to work was mostly downhill. Little did I know it would be that car that ultimately brought Kayleen and me together.

The way I remember the story. Kayleen had a good friend that worked in the office, Shari. As Kayleen has told me, Shari would always bug Kayleen to ask me out. Being shy, like me, she didn’t.

Then, one day Shari bumped into me as I was heading home. She smiled and said … “You know Kayleen really likes your car, you should give her a ride in it sometime.” I said something like “sure”. The next thing I knew we had “scheduled” a ride. 😊

My Time, Boz Scaggs

While I remember Kayleen riding with me a lot in that car, I really don’t remember that specific ride. Well, one thing led to another and we started going to lunch together nearly every day. Our favorite gourmet restaurant was the “Red Barn”. A hamburger place about ten minutes away from work. That was the fall we fell in love.

Over the next couple of years our love grew deeper and included a lot of great times. Those are stories for another time.


On this day, June 21st, in 1975, Kayleen and I were married. While we had been dating a while, I was 20 and she was 21. Babies by today’s standards.

If you recognize the day June 21st, it might be because it’s the “Summer Solstice”. The longest day of the year.

On this Balmy Saturday it was around 90˚ with 74% humidity. While it was supposed to be a sunny day, there was a slight chance for rain. The weather report was vital information for us as we were to be married in a Rose Garden in a park close to my house. Scheduled for 1:00 p.m. it was sure to be a hot one. During the summer in Iowa, the clocks are moved forward an hour for daylight savings time. That’s right, we were getting married outside, when the Sun was in it’s most direct position in the sky for the solstice, at 12:00 noon. What were we thinking?

Lost In Your Love, The Bee Gees


Preparation for our wedding was a wonderful time, as I remember it. My Mom and Kayleen were deep in plans and arrangements for months. It was wonderful to see those two work so closely together. My Mom made Kayleen’s wedding dress as well as vests for my brother Mike and me. We were young, had no money, so plans were simple. Rose Garden, Shelter House reception in the park, with Cake and a Keg. The perfect wedding for 1975. It would have been a shame to miss it. I almost did…

Since we were planning to only do this once, I didn’t want to mess it up for Kayleen. With that in mind I decided to forgo the traditional Bachelor party the night before the wedding. Instead, I asked my Best Man; my brother Mike and my best friend, Tom, to plan to have the party on Wednesday night before the wedding. They went about setting it up.


A Wednesday night bachelor party probably wasn’t a great idea. We had a good time, but I think everyone was home in bed by Eleven that night. Then, on Friday night before the wedding, my two best friends, Tom and Bob, show up on my doorstep pleading… “Let’s go out for one last drink before you take the big step.” “Just one drink, we promise.”

Chances Are, Ben Sidran

Well after an extended discussion about how important Saturday was to me and Kayleen. I caved, agreeing to “One Drink”. So off to the Alpine Room for these three musketeers (or stooges).

Since meeting Kayleen I hadn’t really spent much time with Tom and Bob, so I thought this would be a great way to catch up. They were so excited to take me to this new place they had found, the Alpine Room. Nothing to spectacular. Just another Iowa bar to me.


I reiterated, “Just One Drink Guys”. They eagerly agreed ordering a round of “Alpine Coolers” for the three of us. “What’s that?” I asked. In unison, they exclaimed… “You’ll Love it!” Right then, right there I should have left. I knew something was up. I didn’t leave. We toasted the wedding with the Alpine Coolers. That’s the last thing I remember. Until…

The sun burning warm on the back of my head, wind blowing through my hair. Deep Purple’s “Machine Head” blaring in my ears, I forced my eyes to open.

Tom and Bob were in the front seat of Bob’s Jeep with me strapped in the back. Top off, both were singing at the top of their lungs while flying down the Interstate heading west towards Omaha. I yelled “WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING?”

Space Truckin’, Deep Purple

Almost in beat with the melody of the Deep Purple song they responded… “We’re Kidnapping You. No Wedding for you Today!!! Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!”


Obviously, we hadn’t stopped with just one “Alpine Cooler”. While I was instantly sober at the thought of missing my wedding. Tom and Bob were still in FULL party mode.

I’m not sure how I convinced them to turn around, but they did. If I remember right, we got back home around 10 that morning to get ready for the big day. While I don’t think I saw Kayleen until the wedding, I had heard she was concerned.


Thinking about it now brings back memories of one of my dad’s favorite scenes, from one of his favorite movies, My Fair Lady. He truly loved the part where Eliza Doolittle’s Dad sang the night before his wedding… “Get Me to the Church on Time”.

Get Me To The Church, My Fair Lady

With very foggy memories of the night before all I could think about was how awful I felt. Not so much about being late; but my head was throbbing, and my gut was churning. Not the blissful day I was planning on. Off to the Rose Garden, none the less.


Did I mention that it was 90˚ with 74% humidity that day? Standing in the noon sun for about an hour I felt every drop of “Alpine Cooler” ooze out through my sweat glands.

Still, I wouldn’t trade that day for any other day of my life. Now, 43 years later, we’re the proud parents of four, with a new crop of grand kids.

Heart of Mine, Boz Scaggs


Thank you Kayleen for putting up with me through all the years. I thank God everyday for blessing my life with you, those eyes and that smile!

All My Love, All Ways!

Happy Birthday JAX!

I Taht I Saw A Tweety Bird…


Well, 1984 was here and Orwell’s world hadn’t taken a foothold, yet. Gone was the Malaise of the late Seventies and the economy was in a strong recovery. We were in the midst of a Presidential election that looked like an actor, with little political experience, was going to win re-election in one of the biggest landslides in US history. The economy was booming. Mostly because of the introduction of the personal computer a couple of years earlier.


It was June in Iowa. Probably my favorite month of the year in the Hawkeye state. While I always loved the rebirth of spring in Iowa, especially after what was usually a drab, dark winter. I also loved the unrivaled beauty of fall, with the fiery turning of the leaves, the smell of Football in the air and the glorious gold’s of Harvest time. Both wonderful, but June was always Green, lush and full of God’s promise for the year ahead. This June was particularly welcomed, we were being blessed with another child.


This Friday in June was beautiful; 65˚, sunny, blue skies. Not sure what I did at work that day, but I had not graduated to travel by air yet, so, most Friday’s saw me coming home late in the afternoon. I remember walking in the house and wondering where everyone was. No kids playing, no noise from the kitchen. Investigating further I found our year and a half old daughter, Jennifer, taking a nap. Assuming Jason was playing in the neighborhood; I began the search for Kayleen. Calling out for her, I found her deep in cleaning mode. Or, what I would come to know as nesting.

Nothing too eventful that day until early evening when Kayleen said, “we should go to the Hospital. It’s time.” My brother and his girlfriend came over to watch the kids, while Kay and I headed out to have a baby. Cedar Rapids is a small city and it didn’t take us long to get to the Hospital. We were so excited to meet this new addition to our growing family. This was the first time we had ever seen an Ultrasound of our baby in the womb. While we didn’t find out if we were having a boy or girl; we clearly saw that we had a thumb sucker on the way.


With our first two, Kayleen and I had a pretty good idea for names. This time we weren’t as sure. We knew it should start with a “J” like Jennifer and Jason. I was leaning towards Jacqueline but all we could think of was our little girl, at the blackboard in school, spelling her ten letter, multi-syllable name. With the success of TV’s Charlies Angels, Jaclyn Smith’s name was everywhere. I’m not sure who saw it first, but 6 letters instead of 10, that was it. So, with that we welcomed Jaclyn Marie to the McCuen clan.


By this time Jason was in school, with all the interests and responsibilities that come with it. While it seemed, Jennifer was always with Jaclyn, Jason was a wonderful “Big Brother” to his new sister as well. Like he did with Jennifer, Jason was always teaching, when and where he could. Including the day when an exuberant Jason ran into the kitchen exclaiming to his mom, “I taught Jackie how to get out of her crib!” Mom was so pleased. 😊


Like the Jax we know and love today, she never missed a thing. Always watching and observing everything around her. Jaclyn became our family “go to person” if we had lost something. She usually knew right where to look. She was curious about everything. One day when feeding ducks at the pond, Kayleen gave the kids some old moldy bread to give to the ducks. Jaclyn, with an honest concern asked… “Mom, do Ducks like mold?”. Or the time Jaclyn saw a lady at the store with a neck brace on. After a long stare, Jaclyn asked with obvious worry, “Mom, did that ladies head fall off?”


The three of us spent a few days in Nashville starting with a great show featuring Ray and a band from Wisconsin, called Locklesly that could have been a British invasion band in the 60’s. They even did a couple of rockers with Ray in lieu of having The Kinks there for a reunion.


It was on that trip, and during that long car ride, that I came to know the woman that Jaclyn had become. We laughed, we cried a little, but mostly spent a wonderful time together; just getting to know each other. No doubt that now, I know her sincere disdain for most “Country” music.


Kayleen and I are so proud of Jaclyn and the beautiful Person that she has become.

Happy Birthday Tweety!

All Our Love, All Ways! -Mom & Dad

Happy Birthday James!


With our first born, Jason, we were struggling to makes ends meet as the economy was in the tank. Iowa seemed to be ground zero with Corn Embargo’s, 20% inflation and 20% interest rates. I oft times recall those days as some of the happiest ever. Albeit, very, very broke. Fortunately, the next six years saw an economic explosion with the introduction of the personal computer, networks, and all that go with them. Very blessed to be deep into the technology sector of the printing industry, I was busier than I had ever been before. Kayleen was working just as hard, if not harder, as the mother of three beautiful children and the best wife a guy could ask for.

Shortly after our third child, Jaclyn, was born in 1984; we packed up the family and moved from the comfort of Family and Friends in Iowa, to Dallas, Texas. Little did we know this would be the beginning of a life that would see us move all over the country chasing my career.


Thinking back to the day James was born. It’s difficult to recall details. Unlike that first child’s birth where the world seemed to move in “slow motion”. This Friday was a blur. Working for a software company that was disrupting the printing industry during the economic explosion. It seemed that I was always on the road. Off by plane on Monday or Tuesday, returning on Friday’s for the weekend. Leaving Kayleen to fend for herself with all the kids and the day-to-day stuff. All while she was nine months pregnant! What a trooper!

Together, we had grow in experience from that chilly day in Iowa when Jason was born. Now with our fourth. We were Pros. Gone were the days where everything was sanitized before getting anywhere near the baby. Now, the “Five Second Rule” was in full force. You know, “Go ahead and eat it, it hasn’t been on the floor more than 5 seconds.”

Spending the last day of my trip in Denver doing software demos, my ticket had me getting home around 7:00 to 8:00 pm Friday night. There were no cell phones yet, and keeping in contact with the very pregnant Kayleen was relegated to nighttime and morning calls. She always knew where I was. Just in case. Like the three times before, I’m confident Kayleen spent the day cleaning the house as part of her predictable “nesting” regimen.

Our routine was predictable as well. When I would come home on Fridays. Kayleen would pack the kids into the car and venture out to the enormous DFW airport to pick me up. One of my favorite things was seeing my beautiful bride and those three little faces when they pulled up to the curb. Now, I could go home, put all the pressure aside and relax with my family. Or so I thought.

Like most Fridays. We got home and began to settle in. Catching up with the Kids about their week and making plans for the weekend. Around this time Kayleen came in and said, “I think we should get to the Hospital.” “It’s time to have this baby.” Being three-time professionals of the “Baby is Here” process; this was no causal statement. Especially considering that the last two children were born only a few hours after Kayleen said it was time. Not the ten plus hours it had been with Jason.

We were very blessed to have two saints named “Birdie” and Brenda close by. While technically, Birdie was our Landlord, she was more like the kid’s Texas Grandmother. She loved them, and they loved her. Brenda was Kayleen’s good friend. Another Mother raising a Gaggle of her own. So off to Brenda’s and Birdie’s for the kids; and off to the Hospital for Kayleen and me. I believe we arrived sometime around 9 pm. Neither of us have clear memories of that night except that it was a whirlwind. True to the James we would come to know and Love. He didn’t wait to be born. Arriving promptly at 12:27 am, Saturday morning. Not much more than three hours after Kayleen’s alarm to head to the Hospital.


Spending so much time at the hospital we got to know the staff and nurses well. Upon hearing that we were from Iowa, and would probably move back sometime. One of the nurses said, “Texans Always Come Home.” Little did we know that we would not return to Iowa in all our moves. She was right though. As an adult James has moved home to Texas. Not once, but twice. Ha! The Return of JR.

Growing up as the “baby” of the family had it’s challenges I’m sure. As the youngest of three, I well remember the world of hand-me-downs and being last-in-line. Almost seven years younger than Jason, James was the darling of his two sisters. Initially, as a cute bundle of baby, then as a live “Dress-up” doll.


We knew his recall was special, when he landed the role of Hamlet in his elementary school presentation of Shakespeare’s classic play. I don’t believe James missed a word throughout the entire play.

As he grew out of the living doll phase with his sisters, around the age of three, James became interested in computers. One day I had loaded a Ninja Turtles Paint program for him. The software was a Coloring Book on the PC. Point at a spot in the picture, choose a color. That simple. After teaching three-year-old James a little about the mouse; I pointed him to the software. The rest is history.


Through his first years in school, James continued to absorb everything he could. For a while he was enamored with “Infomercials” on TV.  It wasn’t unusual for James to bound into the Family room emphatically professing the need to buy this or that product before time ran out. When we would question why we needed anything like that. James, with all the passion of a TV Spokesman, would detail every feature and benefit. Driving home the need to act, Now!

Thankfully, that phase didn’t last long. As James continued to grow, so did his curiosity. At a very young age, James became very focused on problem solving. Probably initially from the computer games and then in life. One day, presented with the challenge of raising money for a project at school. James applied all his informercial and problem-solving skills to selling candy bars in the neighborhood. Knocking on our door. There was James, standing next to him, our cute 4-5-year-old neighbor girl. When Kayleen asked James why she was with him? Without missing a step, James responded, “Mom, don’t you know, Cute Sells!”.

James has a “Golden Heart” and truly loves people. One day, after a very loud discussion involving Kayleen and one of the other kids. James took Kayleen aside and said, “Mom, I will be a Good Teenager, and not cause you any trouble”. He was, and he didn’t.


His Mom and I couldn’t be prouder of the man he has become.

Happy Birthday James!!

All Our Love, All Ways!

Happy Birthday Jason!

Fickle. That’s the only word that comes to mind when I think of the weather, in Iowa in March. One day, you’re basking in a warm spring-like day. The next day, you’re digging out from under a blanket of wet snow.


That’s how I remember starting March 23, 1979. We were almost to April and the renewal of Spring. March Madness was behind us. So, the threat of another spring Blizzard was lessening every day. Still, it was warming up to the 40’s with about 2” of snow waiting to melt off.

My Bride, Kayleen and I were living in the house where I grew up, four years after being married in the Rose Garden at a local park. Kayleen was nine months into her first pregnancy. While everything around me seemed familiar; the house, the neighborhood, friends and neighbors. I’m sure for Kayleen, she wasn’t quite as comfortable. With all the unfamiliar surroundings, she was Huge. Carrying her first child, this beautiful, petite, girl must have felt like she tripled in size.

There we were. Not much more than two kids ourselves. Expecting our first born.

https://videopress.com/embed/NtRUkqGk?hd=0&autoPlay=0&permalink=0&loop=0Gone were the early days of fear, euphoria and anticipation when we first found out that we were expecting. Now, the feeling of “can we just get this over?” seemed to dominate every day.

In the 70’s, in Iowa, things were radically different than today. The medical community was still steeped in the traditions of early, modern medicine. Pregnancy and Labor were a “Women’s” thing. There were no Ultrasounds to herald whether it was a Boy or a Girl. Husbands were typically regulated to stand on the side-lines for nine months while their wives prepared the “Nest”. All Husbands had to do was wait outside of the labor room and pass out cigars when the cries of a newborn were heard. Fortunately, Kayleen and I were following my sister, Martha, and husband Gene, who had just had their first born a year earlier.

They had found a wonderful Hospital in the small city where we all grew up. For the 70’s, the Hospital was very progressive. And offered “Natural” child birth, not common for hospitals at the time. Especially in Iowa.


Soon after finding out Kayleen and I were expecting our first-born, we enrolled in the Lamaze program at the hospital. Lamaze was a radical change for the birthing process. Not just for Women, but for Men as well. Lamaze included a series of classes to help pregnant women understand how to cope with pain in ways that would ease labor, and promote comfort, including relaxation techniques, breathing, movement and massage. A vital part of the technique was enlisting the Men as coaches.

Going through the classes with Kayleen, I truly learned a lot. Most of the method was designed to help women manage the pain of birth. Throughout my life, I’ve called on those lessons frequently and know them to be very effective.

Here we were. Nine months into breathing exercises and belly rubs, still petrified. As frightened as I was at the prospect of being a Father, I can only imagine what Kayleen was going through; not only with becoming a Mother, but the expected pain that had been so articulately defined in those classes. There was no turning back.

Two weeks earlier, on a frigid, 12° night, complete with a new sheet of thin Ice on the roads. We had the legendary “False Alarm”. Kayleen was sure that this was it! So, we piled into the car and headed for the hospital. The trip that would normally take 30-40 minutes, seemed to last forever on this night. Both us full of anxiety and anticipation, sliding to the hospital as fast and as slow as possible. After a few hours of tests, prodding and consoling we were sent home. The good thing about “false alarms” is the preparation they provide for the real thing.


This day started like most. The wondering if this was it. Trying to keep busy and focused, with the metaphoric elephant in the room. It was Friday though. On the news they’d mentioned that the record high was 86°. Fickle!

Today, the forecast was for light rain. No Snow until later in the night. Typical cloudy grey Iowa morning. Little did I know; our world was about change forever, in a wondrous way.

Not sure if I went to work that day, nevertheless I’m certain Kay was busy picking stuff up in the house. A habit that I would come to recognize as “Nesting” over the years. Sometime around eight that night, Kay exclaimed “This is really it”. Thanks to the “false alarm” a few weeks prior, there was little anxiety or chaos. Just a methodical march to the car and then the hospital.

Arriving at the hospital, we felt like pros and even recognized some faces from our earlier trip. The staff quickly confirmed that this was indeed it!

Off to the delivery room. Because of the new Lamaze practice, the room was designed to start as a regular patient room and when needed, convert to the birthing room for delivery, then back to normal. Cool. Everything was hectic for the first couple of hours. I could see the fear and uncertainty in Kay’s eyes and couldn’t seem to calm her down.

You know that feeling you get sometimes when a big change is coming. Not sure if it will be good or bad? A storm brewing kind of feeling. That’s how I was feeling when I heard it. All the chatter and noisy chaos had stopped instantly. Then I heard it through the stark silence. Thud, thud, thud. Thinking about it now makes me think of the T. Rex in Jurassic Park. Thud, thud, thud. Getting louder and quicker each time.

The door to our room bursts open with a shout of “Is this where we’re having a Baby!” There in the doorway was our Night Nurse. An almost 6-foot-tall, rotund, 50’ish nurse in an impeccably detailed uniform. She was shouting orders to everyone in the room, including Kay and me. “Move This!”, “Sit Here!”, “that Can’t Be In Here!”

I took one look at Kay and saw the fear in her eyes and could only imagine how I looked to her. Calm was not the mood that night.

Together, Kay and I spent the night in anxious anticipation. Utilizing all my new skills from Lamaze, I worked to make Kay as comfortable as possible. Belly rubs, Ice chips and the monotonous breathing sessions. Our systematic practice of Lamaze was oft interrupted by a loud “What’s Going On In Here!?” Or, “Is That Baby Here Yet!?” from our bellicose night nurse. We have since nicknamed her the “Army Nurse”, or “Nurse Ratchet”. In looking back, I’m sure she was a sweetheart. Anyone that devotes their life in the service of others, usually has a heart of Gold.

For us two Doe-Eyed, soon to be parents, our nurse was both an extreme disciplinarian and our comic relief. Kay never did relax, and more importantly, never dilated. The hours and minutes ticked by sluggishly. What was only a few hours, seemed like an eternity with us both huddled in a dark, cold hospital room. Whispering to each other as if anyone could hear of us over the droning sounds of beeps and PA announcements of a Hospital. Like clockwork, every Hour on the Hour, the “Army Nurse” would burst in with some exclamation, ensuring Kay would stay sufficiently anxious.

Around 7 that morning, the door opened… flooding the room with warm sunshine. It seemed that I could hear a choir and I’m sure I even saw a few white doves. Through it all, an angel appeared in the form of our morning nurse. Immersed in a golden glow, dressed in white from head to toe, and not saying a word. Instantly, Kay and I knew everything was going to be fine. Almost whispering, our Angel floated around the room checking everything out while accessing Kay’s condition in-depth.

Holding Kay’s hand to calm her down, the Angel looked at me and with a calm, loving voice said, “You need to leave now”. Without question, I gave Kay a kiss and left.

As Kay tells the story, our Angel helped her out of bed and into a warm shower. Kay often says she was glad that no one else saw the sight of a nine month, very pregnant, naked lady in the shower. Disconcerting or not, the shower did the trick. What seemed almost instantly, the room was a buzz with nurses, technicians and Doctors. The room was quickly converted to a birthing room and at 9:01 a.m. our wonderful Son, Jason Alan made his entrance.

They had brought me back into the room and were very attentive to make sure I was by Kay’s side during the delivery. For a twenty-four-year-old, soon to be Dad, I was in awe. Never did I think something as clinical as childbirth, could be such a miraculous experience. They coached me and held my hands while I nervously cut the umbilical cord, formally making Jason an individual. An experience that will always be one of my best memories.

Well, there we were, New Parents. Now what?


Kay and I spent the next few years in what I can only describe as euphoria. The three Musketeers, Kayleen, Jason and me. Inseparable. Jason was always a happy and inquisitive baby. Everyone he met loved him and fawned over him insatiably.

While we were really struggling financially in a very tough economy, I always remember those days as a very joyous time filled with love and the new adventure of becoming a family.

Today, Jason celebrates his 39th birthday. Yesterday in his adopted Australia. A Husband and Father of two remarkable boys. Kayleen and I are so proud of the Man he has become. Watching him grow as a husband and father over the years has brought back so many wonderful memories of those first days as Parents.

Jason will always have that special place as our “first born”. For a while, an only child. I will always cherish my early times with Jason. We did so many firsts together.

An early Soccer star that we nicknamed “Thunder Thighs”, a talented, dependable baseball player that hit the ball every time he stepped up to the plate. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of coaching him in both, and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Like I always tell all our kids. “I learned more from you, than I ever taught you”.

We also share a strong love for Music. Albeit, Jason would eventually venture into the uncharted waters of Guns & Roses and Metallica, he truly, always loved “good music”. As did all our family. Some of our best times together were going to concerts. While most families were off to Disneyland, we would stand in the rain all day to see Ringo. Or, climb to the top of the Metro Dome, sitting in “nose bleed” seats watching McCartney through binoculars.


As the “first-born”, Jason and I shared a lot of special memories, just the two of us. With music, it always centered around concerts with phenomenal guitarist. The two of us were fortunate to see artists like Stephen Stills in small intimate venues. Probably, my favorite was the night Jason and I went to see Eric Clapton. Prior to his resurgence with “Tears in Heaven” and the “Un-Plugged” album, Clapton was touring in relatively small venues, instead of the arenas he would soon be filling nightly.

It was around this time that I first heard Clapton’s song “My Father’s Eyes”. One of my all-time favorites. A new father, Clapton wrote about the uncertainty of the road ahead as a father. Sadly, this was his lyrical introduction to his son Conor, who’s tragic death was immortalized by Eric in the song “Tears In Heaven”.

My Father’s Eyes…

“Where do I find the words to say?

How do I teach him?

What do we play?

Bit by bit, I´ve realized

That´s when I need them,

That´s when I need my father´s eyes.”

Every time I hear this song, I think of Jason. Remembering the anxious anticipation of being a first-time father. Like Clapton, I turned it all over to our Heavenly Father and He continues to watch over and Bless us all.

Happy Birthday Jason! All Our Love, All Ways! Mom & Dad

He Did It His Way…

Thinking about my Brother Mike today. It’s been three years since he passed.


As a brother, my Sister and I had our ups and downs with Mike; he loved us and I was always comforted in knowing that he always had my back.

Mike was a great dad and loved his kids with everything he had.

Yes he did.

Love you and miss you brother!

It Don’t Pay, to Worry Like That!


To put this horror in perspective, you must first know about my Mom’s extreme paranoia of anything to do with a Tornado. At the end of World War II, in 1944, my mom lived on the typical Northwestern Iowa Farm. One hot and humid May day that seemed so typical at the beginning of summer. My mom, Donna Jean, and her family hastily had to seek cover from one of the most destructive tornadoes to ever touch down in the sleepy Iowa farm country. Rather than try to tell the story myself, you’ll get a better feel for the life-threatening devastation in this excerpt from a document published by the Pocahontas County Historical Society.


Next on the list was the Amos HARTSOCK farm, Sherman 6 southeast corner. They decided to outrun the storm as they had seen it approach – Harlan said it was so muggy the water dripped off the tools as he was working in the shop. He was home on vacation from Illinois where he worked for Packard. He and sister Donna Jean, outran the storm in his coupe; Mr. and Mrs. HARTSOCK took the family car and left … the big shaggy dog jumped in the car to go along … he had never before ridden in a car! … can these animals sense danger?? Upon their return, disaster was the understatement. The house was badly damaged: the chimney lay on the ground, the windows were all gone,curtains all gone, the shade trees were no more. The only way to get supper was on the oil burner because of no chimney. There was a kerosene stove intact on the porch but the grids were swept away. When they tried to get into the house the door was locked … it had never been locked as there was no key for it! It took much manipulation to get the door open. There was dirt in the refrigerator contents; the wash basin in the sink was lifted out and flung into the bedroom; the Pekinese was under the bed scared to death; chickens lost their feathers; a Stetson hat was in a pond a mile away, upside down, unhurt; a straw was driven into a tree; clothing was inside the hoghouse at the DEXTER farm which was just a short distance away. Storm windows had to be installed before nightfall; the out buildings lay in ruins.

Growing up, my sister, brother and I heard these stories over and over. I was always petrified. All you had to do was to see the terror in my Mom’s bright blue eyes to know that this was very scary stuff.


The good news is… My school was never hit by a Nuclear Bomb, we learned to dig out of the snow and even after all the hours in that Bomb Shelter, we were never hit by a Tornado.

Even though we had perfectly logical plans like getting under our desks to run for cover. I never felt completely safe until the drill was over or the storm had passed. As I grew up, the dangers changed but the fear was still very tangible.

Then, one day, shortly after Kayleen and I were married we were out partying with friends. I shouldn’t have been drinking and driving, but that was very common in the 70’s. We were on our way back to our friend’s apartment when I was run off the road causing my first major car accident. At around forty miles per hour, the car jumped to curb and smashed head on into one of those 50-foot Freeway light poles.

I hit the steering wheel with my chin and don’t remember anything until it was all over. When I looked over and saw Kayleen’s face covered in blood. My first thought was that she smashed her face and in my stupidity, I had ruined that beautiful face. At that point, I must have gone into shock because everything else went a blank.

When I finally came to, I found out that Kayleen had hit her forehead at the very top above the hair line. The thin skin there caused intense bleeding. Ironically, she required nine stitches on her head and I got nine stitches on my chin. Other than that, we walked away.

Later the next day, Kayleen and I talked about what happened. Surprisingly we felt the same thing when the car went over the curb. Gone was the feeling of terror. We didn’t see our lives pass before us. Instead, we both had the same explanation for the feeling we experienced flying over that curb.

You know, when you’re on a Roller Coaster and it’s climbing the hill for that first unavoidable drop? That feeling that wells up deep inside of you that has an element of fear, but is mostly filled with Expectation and Anticipation. That was the feeling that we shared that night.

As Kayleen and I talked about it, we agreed that it was truly divine intervention at multiple levels. God used that accident to teach me several things; like don’t drink and drive. Most importantly, it taught me to “Let Go and Let God.”

While I still have a lot of self-induced paranoia about things like Heights, Roller Coasters, Tall Bridges and numerous others. When it comes to those “I can’t stop this from happening” kinda fears. They are gone. Replaced with that “mostly filled with Expectation and Anticipation feeling”, and the knowledge that God is watching out for me, and no matter what happens, it will ALL be okay!

Inevitably in those situations I remember this scripture….

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” -Mathew 6:33-34



Happy Anniversary Kayleen!

It’s Been 42 Years of LOVE!

Please join Kayleen and Me as we go down this Memory Lane of our Love Story.

We have been blessed with a Wonderful Life and the Four Best Kids on the planet!

All My Love!

All Ways!



My Fathers Eyes

Sailing down behind the sun,

Waiting for my prince to come.

Praying for the healing rain

To restore my soul again.

How will I know him?

When I look in my father’s eyes.

My father’s eyes.

When I look in my father’s eyes.

My father’s eyes.

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.

-Proverbs 14:26


Happy Fathers Day Pops!

We Miss You!



Our Pastor talked about Joy and Rejoicing in Church today and it made me think of my Adopted Dad Bob. The Best Father In-Law A guy could ever have.

Thanks for being a Great Dad for the Love of My Life Kayleen.

Love and Miss You Bob! Happy Fathers Day!

This was Bob’s favorite verse:

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

-Psalm 118:24

“Oh, What A Beautiful Morning” -Ray Charles         Enjoy!


Happy Birthday Jax!

Happy Birthday to our sweet, blue-eyed Tweety Bird!

Happy Birthday James!

It Was Thirty-One Years Ago Today,

James Robert Had His First Birthday,
He’s Been Goin’ In and Out of Style,
But He’s Guaranteed to Raise a Smile!
So May I Introduce to You,
The One and Only James!
Truly the King of Gamezzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Happy Birthday James Robert McCuen!


Happy Birthday Jason!

We’re so proud of the Man, Father and Son that you’ve Become!

Here’s a Belated posting of the Video we sent for your Birthday:


Happy Birthday to the LOVE of my LIFE Kayleena Maria!

Here’s the Video I did for your Birthday this year:


Happy Birthday Malesha-Pinkster

Here’s the Edited Video I did for Your Birthday this year:


Happy Birthday Martha!

The Best Sister * Friend a guy could have!

Here’s the video that I did for your Birthday this year:


Life Is Very Short…

All my Adult life I have worked to follow the teachings of Jesus, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and yes John & Paul.

All taught one simple lesson, love one another.

Imagine that? (Pun Intended).

It’s not always easy, but it is always the right thing.

For all of you out there fighting with friends and loved ones over the current political environment, please head the words of these lifelong friends that were unable to resolve their differences before time ran out.


Michael Charles McCuen 1953-2014

Today is my older Brother Mike’s birthday. He would have been 63 today, but sadly, we lost him in December, 2014.

Mike End

Mike was a true “Older Brother”. While he picked on me a lot, he always had my back, and for that I will always be grateful.

Mike led a hard life complete with Demons that only he understood. And while most would call him stubborn, I knew Mike to be extremely Committed. If Mike wanted to accomplish something, nothing could stand in his way.

One of his Life-Long commitments was to his Family. He loved our mother Donna, my sister Martha and me intensely. We lost my Dad when Mike was 16. While my Mom, Martha and I were able to move forward, I don’t believe Mike ever recovered from the loss.

Mike wanted all of the things that most of us do, success, a Family and all of the joys of watching a Family grow. Like everything he ever did, Mike was deeply committed to his family. Even though he had his share of rough times. Mike was dogmatic about caring for his children. So much so, it seems that he sacrificed everything in his life to make sure that they all got a rock solid footing for their lives. Once they were grown, Mike was content to watch them grow into wonderful adults with children of their own.

Learning about Mike’s passing, our Brother-In-Law, Gene said; “Take comfort in knowing that Mike Led the Life that he wanted to Live.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Please take a moment to watch this Video Memorial to my brother Mike, and remember his love and his commitment to family and when it was all said and done…

He Did it His Way!


“I Grow Strong Again”

After thinking of some of the recent Challenges that our McCuen family has been going through of late I thought I would post the Ancient Family Crest of the MacEwans to remind us all of the history we have in overcoming Adversity. The MacEwan Motto is: REVIRESCO or “I Grow Strong Again”. Always remember that Faith is like a Muscle and that it needs exercise to Grow. Many thanks to Pastor Rowdy Van Horn for helping me to realize that the exercise for Faith is Hope! May God Bless you All!