Monday, December 16, 2013

A blank page. It is kind of like a child. You start with something pure and what is at the end is a direct result of what you put into it.

Lately I have not had time to fill my pages  with written word because I have been so focused on being the father that my children deserve.

Sorry for the lack of contribution to the conversation.

The Danger of Christmas Decorations

My kids are suddenly accident prone. My daughter looks like she was in a boxing match with Shawn Thornton and my son looks like he took a high stick from Brad Marchand. Yes I went there.

There is nothing like a little facial injury to make you realize how helpless you can sometimes be as a parent. We make all the moves we think necessary to protect our kids from danger and then boom one of them runs into the edge of the table and the other (or both) pulls a Christmas decoration down on their face and you come to the epiphany that you missed something and now your kids look as if you beat them with dowel rods.

Luckily no stitches were needed this week but there was a little blood shed and some small lacerations. They both have both of their eyes as well so there is a win.

My daughter is learning at a rapid pace and she has become clumsy in the process. Apparently there is a technical term that explains how children will get physically clumsy as they develop mentally due to some compensation (blah, blah, blah)... I don't know. I didn't read the study; just heard about it through my wife's, sisters's friend's cousin's brother or something like that.

Regardless, within a day of running into a table at my mother's she pulled a Christmas decoration down onto her face. Two eye injuries in 36 hours made me want to put a hockey helmet on her head with a full Itech face shield when she wakes up in the morning. No stitches, just a little blood and some black eyes. The girl literally looks like she was in a cage fight.

Not three hours after the Christmas decoration incident her big brother pulled the same move, splits the bridge of his nose open and it looked like he might have needed a stitch.

"He might need a stitch"

"You take him and Aria and I will stay here. We are not taking both of them. They will think we abuse our kids."

That response made me think.

We are good parents who protect our kids from physical and mental danger as much as we can. Sometimes kids are just kids and (expletive deleted) happens. The fact that the first thought I had was that the authorities would think we abuse them made me sad as much as I thought it was funny.

I would take it as an insult if someone ever questioned me regarding the treatment of my children. They are the center of our world and we do our best to make their lives the best they can be. If some stranger in a hospital wanted to question me due to a couple of cuts and bruises I would be livid but a part of me understands why they would have to question me about it.

It sucks that this world we live in today requires the need for people to be in a position that they have to question parents regarding minor child injuries. I couldn't fathom intentionally harming a child, especially my own but there are sick people out there that would do just that.

Without getting too involved in that sensitive subject I just wanted to take a moment to say Happy Holidays and remind you to watch the little ones around all the awesome Christmas decorations. Kids don't see danger. All they see is pretty sparkles and happy lights and they want to be a part of it.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


You could hear my mother whistle for miles. As a country boy, exploring the woods for hours on end that is all I needed to hear to run home. When she whistled it meant you had only a few moments to get back to the house. It was sort of our version of the dinner bell back then. It got the job done.

Back on the farm (we called it "the farm" even though we didn't farm the land we lived on) I was free to roam where ever I may as long as I was within ear shot of my moms whistle. She had an uncanny ability to whistle loudly when she needed you to be back at the house. To this day I can't figure out how the heck she was able to whistle so loudly.

I did a lot of exploring as a kid. I knew every nook and cranny of the woods I grew up in. I could get from one place to the next without losing my way in those woods just as if I had a map. I never needed one of those woods. In those woods I developed an amazing ability to just know where I am and which direction I need to go in order to get where I want to be.

Having lived in a few different cities I believe that GPS is unnecessary; at least for me. Within a week of living in Salt Lake City I knew my way around like it was home. Within the first month of living in Houston it was the same. I don't know what it is but I have tried to get lost at times, only to end up back on the right track at the end of the day. It baffles me how people can get lost in the woods and die with no hope. I just don't think that is ever something that could happen to me.

I worry that my son and daughter won't even have a chance to fine tune such an ability. This day and age we rely so heavily on technology to get us around. If I asked a random person on a street if they know how to read a map I bet that 9 of 10 would laugh. I won't name names, but I know people very close to me that still can't get anywhere in the city they have lived in for years without using that almighty GPS on the dash and when it doesn't work I am always on speed dial.

I love maps. I love looking at maps and memorizing a route. I love looking at a map as a way of familiarizing myself with my world. I can take a look at a map and within minutes have a general knowledge of the layout of a new city.

The modern day GPS gives you a snapshot of where you are in relation to your small journey to a set destination. It doesn't give you the big picture that allows you to formulate your own route (your own adventure) to your destination. Sure it will give you turn by turn navigation and alert you when you have arrived, but does it help you hone your own reasoning skills? If traffic backs up and you are stuck, do you know where you can go to get you moving again and not get lost? If there is a sudden catastrophe and you need to get back quickly while avoiding the main roads, can you negotiate that in your own mind without a satellite aid?

I can.

How can I teach my children to be able to do this? They don't have the luxury of trial and error learning that I did. Being city kids these days it really isn't an option to be out running the streets alone at a young age. There are too many terrible people that do terrible things to allow your children to run the streets anymore.

Do I pack my brood up and move to the boondocks where they can roam the woods on their own? Do I try to teach my son and daughter the importance of learning to read a map (surely they don't do that in public schools these days)? What if they choose not to learn?

I have driven across the United States twice with no GPS. I looked at a map before I left and jotted down some highway and exit names and made my way. It was the best driving experience I have ever had. It not only enabled me to feel confident that I knew where I was going but it also afforded me the ability to look ahead and not at a 3 x 5 screen waiting for the next instruction. The country is beautiful and you might miss it if you are too preoccupied with your Sat Nav.

I hope, when my son and daughter reach a certain age, that they can do the same and feel the same way I felt crossing the country. I hope that they enjoy the scenery, unencumbered by the technology that is supposed to "help" us along.

What I want to do is empower my children with a permanent knowledge of the bigger picture to help them live their lives unencumbered by the minutia of daily life. Getting lost is okay as long as you don't lose sight of the end game. Getting lost can be as important as the destination itself.

In maps and life, if you can see the big picture you will easier learn how to work out the details.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Make Yourself a Great Day

Where to begin?

It has been a while since I have posted here. The holidays crept up on me and kept me busy with great family and friends. The kids have both been sick, but not at the same time. It seems that when one gets healthy and we start to sleep again on a normal schedule the other one is either running a fever or puking on something.

I feel I have been growing beyond my years and beyond myself lately and I want this life to slow down a little bit. My son is amazing and he is stubborn and he talks back and he is becoming this little independent boy who doesn't need us for much other than his sustenance and the occasional butt wiping everyday. My daughter is crawling and getting into things and becoming not an infant anymore right in front of my eyes. Please Lord make it stop.

My wife and I seem to have grown into this symbiotic entity that operates without really having to speak about what we are doing. We both know what we need to do and how to do it and even though we don't communicate to the best of our abilities at times, things just get done and everyone is happy at the end of the day.

We are not without flaws as partners and as parents but that is what makes life beautiful. We fight with each other from time to time and we might make mistakes about parenting or differ in our styles but at the end of the day we both laugh and say "I love you" and we go to bed happy. I guess this is what you call a happy marriage. If it is then I don't want it to ever end.

I always have this intention to be entertaining to you (whatever readers I have left after my hiatus) but today I just want to express to you all how lucky I feel to be living this life that I live. Even though I don't have my ideal job and I don't earn what I ideally would like to earn, I have a great family and a loving home that I can be proud of and I have never felt so complete in my life.

I don't have an anecdote for you today and I don't have a lesson. I only wanted to wish everyone a good day and to let everyone know that we are still alive and we are living life. I am sorry I haven't had anything for you recently but hopefully that will change. I am going to make a conscious effort to write more and to learn more and hopefully I can inspire someone else to have fun and love their life.

A great day, and by extension a great life just doesn't happen. You've gotta make it happen.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Condolence ...

My children and my wife are the most important people in my life. The difference is that my children rely on me for protection and to learn how to survive on their own. My wife already understands how to sustain and could (but hopefully never has to) live without my protection.

This past weekend a child died at the Pittsburgh Zoo because he fell into the African Painted Dog exhibit. His mother was holding him on the railing and he fell. How many times have you done this? How many times have you put your child on a railing to get a better look at something without thinking of the potential for disaster? I know I am guilty of it. It is harmless to do; until it isn't.

Many people out there on the internet are blaming the mother and berating her parenting skills because of the incident but I really want to know how many of those people are parents and how many of those parents are guilty of the same infraction in judgment.

Some are blaming her lack of action for the child's demise. She apparently froze and could not spring to action to save her child. Many are blaming the Zoo employees for not doing enough; for not responding fast enough. What about the bystanders? Weren't there any able bodied men or women there who could have jumped into that pen and tried to fight off those dogs? I can tell you that every time I have been at the Zoo with my children there are hundreds of people around that display.

Who were these people and why couldn't they help?

Call me stupid or naive but I would have been in that enclosure as fast as humanly possible trying to fight for this poor two year old child who just fell into a pit of hungry wild dogs. I would hope that some other able bodied men (probably fathers as well) would follow closely.

Maybe I am naive to think that people care about each other enough to risk life and limb to save another.

Either way, this event made me think about a lot. I thought about how fragile my children are and I thought about how to protect them better. I thought about the lack of empathy that pervades our society. I thought about the lack of heroes out there and how it could have taken just one grown man or woman to save a child's life. I thought about the lack of unity in our community and the lack of sympathy for those who have just lost their child. I thought about the family dynamic that has just been broken by the loss of a child. Most of all I thought about my children and how I would be utterly broken if something like this were to happen to either of them.

For today I will just hold them a little closer and enjoy the time I have with them a little more. Today I will thank whoever it is that needs to be thanked for the two beautiful children I have. Be it God or science I will keep mindful for what I have and pray for what those parents have lost.

I can not bring myself to judge the mother for what she did or did not do because I wasn't there and I did not see her suffering. I will offer what condolence I can with the hope that she can forgive herself. All I really wish is for those of you who are judging to take a step back and think about the words you say. Are those the words you would want to hear if that person were you?

In a world of freak occurrences and accidents there were two minutes past that no one in the crowd was man (or woman) enough to risk their life for that of a small child and for that we should all be ashamed. Humanity is leaving us and we should all take notice to change.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thirty..... And Counting

Tomorrow I will be 30 (thirty), three zero. I am no longer going to be in my mid to late twenties. I am not a member of the 20's crowd. I will officially be (in the parlance of those who are in their teens and twenties) old.

What do I have to show for my life at 30?

I am a normal man of middle class status working day to day to make a happy home for me and my family. I have two wonderful children and a beautiful wife. I have two loving (although testing at times) dogs who are great with both of my kids. I have a house that we have made into a home and although it is messy at times and a little smaller than we would like, it is home and it is where I want to be. I couldn't be more impressed with my life at this moment.


When I was twenty, all I wanted to be was 21. All I wanted to was to do things to make me happy in that moment. I had dreams of being a millionaire someday and jumping from place to place with my friends and girls and being a superstar. It was all just fantasy to pass the time.

They say your twenties are your selfish years and whoever "they" are couldn't have been more right (although they could have been more specific and said 20-25 are your selfish years. I look back and think "holy shit what was I thinking?" and I just shake my head. You can't change your past, all you can do is embrace it and make adjustments moving forward.

I look back and think that I missed some opportunities here and there, and then I think about where I am now and I realize that I am glad I missed them.

If I hadn't of missed them I wouldn't be here; where I belong.

Fast Forward.

The moment my wife (then girlfriend, I know I know heathens right) and I realized she was pregnant was the single most terrifyingly satisfying day in my life. I knew right then and there that not only was I, from that day forward, responsible for another human life but also that my life goals just became simpler and more focused than they had ever been. It was time that I finally had something worth focusing my energy on; a family. I was 26.

Some people would run and hide and I don't know if I am wired differently or if it was just what I wanted, but I embraced it. It made everything so much clearer for me. No matter what I did with my life from that point on nothing else was going to matter to me more than my family that started with the moment that stick with the two little pink lines said "hey, you're having a baby".

Back to the present.

I sometimes sit here and I complain about not making enough money or not being able to go on lavish vacations. I have become entrenched in my routine that I must always keep in the front of my mind how blessed I really am. I have a wife who loves me (who I love to the depths of my soul), two kids that are happy and healthy who I couldn't live without. I have a nice house in a good, safe neighborhood in a great city. My salary may not be the greatest, or even the most I have ever earned in my life but it has enabled us to buy a home and allow my wife to stay at home with our kids for a few years now, and for that I am grateful.

I really have nothing that I can legitimately complain about in my life. I am thirty.

There is something profound in those two sentences that I never realized when I was 21. Being a bartender through college, the only 30 year old people that I knew were miserable drunks who were always fighting with or cheating on their spouses. Maybe that is why I had such a terrible outlook on 30.

What the heck does this have to do with parenting?

Well, you might think it has nothing to do with being a good parent but I disagree. While lamenting that I am getting older and hitting the big three-o I have realized a lot. I have realized that being older and realizing that time is valuable and scarce I have become a better parent. If I were to have become a parent in my early twenties I would probably be one of those miserable drunk 30 year old guys fighting with my wife (most likely ex) about my lack of parenting.

I guess what I am getting at is, instead of lamenting that I am getting older I now realize that I am enjoying getting older and I am enjoying the things that come with age, so enjoy your time and enjoy what you have. It wasn't too long ago that I had none of this and boy was I lost.

Here is to the next decade; and more.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Learning and Letting Go....

My little boy is all grown up, relatively.

Ryker starts preschool next Tuesday. I can't believe it.

We met his teacher Tuesday evening and she seems very nice. She is very enthusiastic about her program, she has a bunch of experience and her presentation to us parents went well.

Time is cruising on by and I am so proud that he is going to school but I also feel like I just want it to slow down a little bit. My wife is much more vocal about being sad that our little booger is starting school while I keep things upbeat and say that this is a great thing. This is a positive step in the right direction for him and he is going to love it, but inside I am sad because my mini me is growing up. He is going to go to school and start to form his own little opinions about his life around him and he will start experiencing so much more without us at his side. That I can't be there for his development is what gets me choked up.

While that is great for his development and it will help him become himself I can't help but be a little sad.

As he begins his journey of school it makes me think of grade school and my experiences as a kid and I hope that he has teachers that care for him like I had. I hope for him to be made privy to the opportunities he is capable of and I hope that he learns to recognize his capabilities through his education. I know it is a little early to be concerned with all of this but this is what concerns me.

At this juncture I hope that he not only learns the fundamentals like recognizing his numbers and letters but I hope he learns to be confident that he is a good kid and he is a smart kid. I want him to know that he is capable of becoming a great young man someday and this is the first step in that direction.

I worry though. I worry that there is going to be some mean spirited little boy in his class that will pick on him and make him feel bad about himself. I want to protect him from that, but I can't. There will always be those kids; the ones that need to prey on others to make themselves feel better about something. My wife and I always tell Ryker to ignore them or say "so what" when secretly I want to say "just haul off and pop him in the mouth if he calls you a name". Oh God, did I just say that out loud?

I worry that he isn't going to like the school. I worry that he won't listen to his teacher. I worry that he will be the one to give her a hard time and not listen to directions. I know we have done our best to teach him how to listen to direction and to go with the flow but I still worry that his stubborn side will come out and it will leave his teacher with a bad impression. He is a good kid and he listens well 99 percent of the time, but when he gets tired and hungry God help you.

Worry is normal for a parent. Right? I am supposed to worry about him. I wouldn't be a good parent if I didn't worry a little bit. I just want the best for my children (because they are the best children, I don't care what you say).

So this is it. I have to let go a little. I guess it is time. He is 3 after all and that is when you send them off to preschool. Listen to me making a mountain out of a mole hill. 2 days a week for three hours at a time he will be free of our parental grasp and free to learn new things and make new friends and I am making it seem like he is going to private school two states away. Truth is, he will be right up the street at St. B's having a blast.  Let's hope he loves it and he looks back and sees this as the starting point to his fruitful life.