Blast from the Future…

I usually hate “old sayings.” Normally they are just wound up in old ideals and misconceptions and “boys will be boys” fell into that category. Last night, though, when I was watching my son and his two friends play, it looked so similar to what I did as a child, I found myself embracing that old adage. So how about we rewind for a moment.

When Asher found out that Hasbro was being cool enough to send us a few Yo-Kai Watches he was pumped.  He had no problem choosing which three of his buddies he wanted to come over to play with them with him. His main problem was that there were about three weeks (an eternity in 4 year old land) between him inviting his friends over and the day they would be coming.

That was when I first began to see my childhood through his eyes.  My parents let me have a sleep over every year for my birthday and I can remember the days totally oozing by while we all anticipated the big night. My parents got sick of me asking how many days until everyone got to come over and I am sure I was insufferable the day before it took place.  I spent the hours before my friends were going to come over practically climbing the walls.

Asher was exactly like that.  To be honest, he spent most of the hours before his little party in trouble!

As soon as Luke and Peyton got here, I felt like I was once again peering through the looking glass back at myself.  What is the first thing they began to do, of course? Wrestle. And wrestle. And wrestle. It is probably a miracle that they were alive and unbroken once the pizza got here!

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Watching them I was: 1) Envious of the ease of their youth.  Not just the boundless energy that they had, but the ease that they had with one another.  No need for small talk or explanations or niceties, they just simply “were.” 2) A little homesick for all those boys I used to rumble around with.  Even though some are connected to me by the magic of facebook, more have been lost to the shifting of time. But the times we had together were simple and joyful and I saw that in my son’s eyes.

That is when I thought, you know, it is true, boys will be boys. I buy into it.  Fully.  Not as an excuse for any behavior but just as a truth.

After pizza it was time for the main event, to continue the wresting analogy. We popped the Yo-Kai DVD into the player and I let the boys open their watches.

CHAOS REINED!

To condense a hectic insanity filled time period down to a couple of words: They freaking loved this stuff.

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The watches make cool noises. There are a million character disks to put in them.  Some sing little songs, some say funny little phrases, some look like a little man with a (literal) butt head who has a super power of farting.  They rolled on the floor laughing and then began to emulate his power until all the adults in the room were laughing as hard as they were.

In High School, a friend’s mother once asked a group of guys and I when bodily functions wouldn’t be funny anymore.  His father chimed in, martini in hand, and said “It must be after 60!” Again, a piece of my past proved true!

As the Yo-Kai excitement began to die down, the wrestling picked back up.  Except now they have gigantic watches on their hands while they executed their elbow drops and pile drivers!

One by one the boys headed home.  Asher was asleep moments after his head hit the pillow.  I felt so thankful that his life was so simple, and easy, and pure.  So grateful that boys will be boys, no matter if it is 1985 or 2016.

 

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Take a moment to check out this video!

Since that is so cool, I feel positive you want to learn more!

Check out Yo-Kai’s Facebook page HERE!

Or their office website HERE!

And see some free episodes HERE!

Disclaimer: I was provided these toys for review and compensated for this blog and other social media postings.  Despite this, the opinions (and emotions) are all my own and true to life.

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My Little Girl

Man oh man.  I am strong willed and rediculously determined.  I always have been.  My Mom literally had a book called The Strong Willed Child that she often turned to when I was a little boy.

Asher came out of the womb mellow.  Of course he has that never ending four year old energy, but he is not the total tornado that Harper is.  I have heard that middle children are often over looked but I know in our family that won’t be an issue!

I think Harper and I are so close because we have so much in common at our cores.  Yes, she is only two, but if you were in the room with her for one second you would know that she is my mini me.

She has my stink eye. My suspicious nature.  My grumpiness.

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But along with all of those “negatives” she has the ability to absolutely take over the world if that is what she wants to do.  She will never let anything stop her or get in her way.

That is why I encourage her spirit.  She is hard to deal with sometimes, like I am, but I know that her spunk is going to serve her so well when she is a grown up.  I don’t want to control her, I just want to help focus her.

She has me wrapped around her finger.  She is my baby.  My little girl.

The Power(struggle) of Three

Here we are, almost eight months into our new life with three kids under five and in all honesty it is still really hard.  When we went from one kid to two we bounced back pretty quickly, but that isn’t the case with the addition of Bellamy. Some days it feels like we are getting the hang of it, but that feeling usually crashes and burns pretty quickly.  We have a couple of friends that both have five kids and I just cannot imagine how they do it. I have learned a few lessons along the way that have helped us though.

The first one is to just embrace the fact that it is going to take HOURS to get ready to leave the house.  Especially if we are trying to be all fancy pants and take baths and look like we are a respectable family. Doing hair is a new thing for me, but Harper and I have gotten into a routine of drying and combing her hair. What I used to see as a time suck has become a nice time for her and I to bond.

Another lifesaver has been to give the older two kids more responsibility.  Yes, sometimes getting a 2 and 4 year old to do household tasks takes more time that if I simply did them myself, but the satisfaction they get from helping daddy can go a long way in terms of them feeling loved and encouraged.  They want to be a part of the team and if I keep them on the bench the whole time then they will never learn teamwork.  They are masters at throwing dirty diapers in the trash and finding the baby’s paci when she is crying.

One of the most vital things for our family is to except the kindness of others, even when that is hard.  One of the best examples of this is my yard.  This summer it seemed like there was never time to cut my grass.  Something that I normally love to do was never getting done and I felt really embarrassed that it wasn’t looking good. At one point I hate to have the kids go outside and play because the grass was over our ankles.  But since we have over an acre I just couldn’t find time to do it.

That is when my #kindawesome neighbor stepped in.

One day we came home and my yard looked AMAZING. Like seriously professionally done. I couldn’t believe it.  The relief that washed over me was huge and I seriously could not thank Kelly and her son enough for cutting it for me.

Not only did they cut it that week, but they cut it the rest of the summer.

Just when it would get tall enough that I would start to try to figure out where I was going to try to find the time and energy to get it done…boom.  They would take care of it.

Each time I thanked them, they would say it was no big deal, but to me it was huge!

So, when KIND snacks told me about their #kindawesome campaign, I knew it was the perfect time to say a public Thank you to Kelly and Garret for being such a blessing to my family and I.

KIND has always imparted how important it is to recognize the good in our world and they wanted to empower everyone (yes, even you!) to be able to say thank you for the random acts of kindness that go unnoticed by the world at large every day!

To learn more about how we’re spreading kindness and how you can too, go to howkindofyou.com and check out @kindsnacks #kindawesome on social media.

There, you will have the chance to send FREE KIND BARS to those who deserve an extra thanks for just being great people!

So, get out there and say thanks! Our world today can seem a little dark, so help me amp up the wattage on the spotlight that highlights great people who are constantly being #kindawesome!

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I have partnered with Life of Dad and KIND for this promotion.

Pappyhood is a Septic Tank

Yes, I am about to compare fatherhood to a septic tank, but stick with me for a moment because it all meshes together very well in the end.

I love to work in my yard. We just got a free trampoline off of craigslist and I can’t get my kid off it. Living out here in the middle of nowhere you have to create your own entertainment, and part of how I entertain myself is by working in my yard.  

In the Summer, to the side of one of the two huge trees in my yard, nestled beautifully in the shade, is a large patch of grass that is so thick and lush that it makes the rest of my yard pale in comparison. I love to cut that spot because when it is all the same size and free of clippings I can almost imagine my whole yard looking like that.

As I was cutting my back half acre, I kept pondering that patch of grass. Why is it so green? Why so thick? Then I realized…poop!

Living here in the country we don’t have city sewage, we have septic.  Now if you aren’t familiar with a septic system, and I will save you the gory details, but what happens is that your poop sits in a large tank while it is eaten by bacteria, then slowly leaches back in to the earth via your drain field.  

That patch of grass is in my drain field.

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I know you must be wondering where this is going, and no it has nothing to do with dirty diapers. Parenthood is a drain field. You take all the ickey, annoying, frustrating things about having a small human that depends on you for EVERYTHING, you process it through your experience, time, love, and compassion and pray that it makes the little patch of grass you created thicker, lusher, and happier than all the grass around it.

Like my septic tank, parenting isn’t always pretty. But in the end, something that isn’t always bright and shiney will have a part of creating something beautiful and lasting.

 

We Met In the Days of Myspace and LiveJournal…

This is Yari:

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Yari is my Best Friend in the entire world.

She was in my wedding:

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She is Asher’s TiTi and God Mom, we have traveled far and wide together, she has supported me through everything and she is (in all seriousness) one of the best people in the entire world.

Some people make think it is weird that a guy and a girl are best friends.  For some reason it is assumed that she and my wife would be rivals or something.  Well, that is dumb.  Who I love they love so, of course, they are BFFs too.

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Once, when my back was really hurting and I was about to have surgery, she came and visited me. And that is all you need to know about that event!

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Yari has a twin and the first time we hung out, I actually thought I was hanging out with her sister. But hey, no hard feelings, because it kicked off something pretty freaking amazing!

Because we are truly family, we have even spent holidays together. (Idk how this is the only picture I can find of that.)

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In all seriousness, we have laughed and cried together.  I have spent countless hours sitting around while she flat ironed her hair, and we never run out of things to laugh at.

I can’t imagine life without her and I am sad I won’t be with her tomorrow on her birthday.

I love you, Yari!  I am a better person for knowing you and I could NEVER had made it through a lot of days without you.

Thank you for being the amazing, wonderful, caring person you are and for always having my back.

I look forward to many more years of being your best friend. Thank you for trusting me always!

You will always be on my MySpace Top Friends list!

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Happy birthday!

Ground Zero. Let us never forget

This is my account of my time @ Ground Zero. It is part of the official 9-11 archive @ the Library Of Congress. Just wanted to share in memory of all who still hurt.

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There are some things you can never understand unless you were there. September
11th was that kind of thing for me. Shortly after 9-11 me and two other people
went down to New York to work with the Red Cross. I’m not one to really do
things like that. Usually I let huge challenges like that pass me by and then
later wish I had done something rather than sit back and feel helpless. I
thought going there would empower me. Make me feel like I had done something
for my country and in some small way honor those who died by trying to help
clean up their city.

On the second day I was there I was asked to go work at Ground Zero at a place
that had been set up to fed, support, and offer a place of rest for rescue
workers. I wanted to say no. I was so afraid to be in that place that had so
much death and destruction. But I went. I wanted to be strong and go wherever
they needed me. We all piled on a bus. We has red badges with our names and
pictures and in big bold writing “Ground Zero-Full Access.” Everyone was full
of nervous energy. Only one person on the bus had been to Ground Zero before.
He told us that he couldn’t impart to us what it was like. “You’ll know when
you get there,” he said. We inched through traffic. We were curious. We were
about to see in the flesh a site that had been made mythical to us through
hundreds of hours of television coverage. We were almost there when we heard
cheering. We looked out of the windows of the bus and saw about fifty people
yelling and clapping and holding up large signs that said “Thank You” and “You
are Heroes” and “New York Loves You!!” Wow, we thought, people are here just
to say thank you to nameless faces for what we were doing. It was overwhelming.
Myself and others cried a little bit.

We went through a check point guarded by men with machine guns. We started to
see ash covering everything. The bus got silent. This was getting real. Then
the smell came. It happened slowly. Like maybe at first it was just some fumes
from the bus. But then a smoky smell was added to it. Then to the mix came a
smell that I couldn’t identify. I began to breath a little deeper. The smell
was horrible, but I really wanted to know what it was. Then it hit me. I
suddenly knew what the smell was. I didn’t want to admit to myself what it was
but I knew. It was the smell of burnt flesh. You wouldn’t think that you would
know what that smelled like. But when it hit your nose and traveled to your
brain…you knew. It was unmistakable. It was a smell that in one degree or the
other was all over the city. You just had to get close enough to the source of
it to really get a handle on what it was. Or maybe you just had to get close
enough that you had no choice but to acknowledge what it was. It is a smell
that would be with me long after I left New York. For weeks I would smell it
every time I woke up. Even now when I think about it I can smell it like I am
still standing there.

When we walked up to where we got our first real view of ground zero we all
stopped. Even our armed guard stopped moving to give us a moment to take it in.
One thing that I don’t think people really realize is just how enormous it was.
It was bigger than words. On TV it looked almost small. Compartmentalized.
Like it all fell in a neat pile. No. It was so big that…I don’t know…it was
just so so big. So much.

I was asked a bit after being there to walk around the rubble with a fire
fighter to deliver water to the workers. And although the time I would spend
with this man would change my life I don’t think we ever told the other our
names. But we were brothers. United in a common mission to clean up this…mess.
This disaster. As we were walking along we talked about his wife and his kids
and of a friend he had lost in the collapse of the second tower. As we were
walking there was commotion in front of us and he began to run to it. He yelled
to me to follow close behind. You have to understand that the rubble and the
area around it were very unstable. He new the lay of it better than me. It
really just wasn’t safe for me to be without him. But as we neared the group
and saw what was going on I stopped in my tracks. I saw a body…half a body
really. It was a person, but only from the waist up. It was so badly burned
you couldn’t determine its color or gender. It had no hair. The smell was more
than I could handle. A firefighter to my right began to vomit. Someone behind
me began to sob. Others began to work the body onto a tarp. My comrade turned
and told me that they didn’t need us here. I was so relived to get away. We
pretended we didn’t see it. I handed a bottle of water to the man who was
throwing up.

We continued on our trek to hydrate the workers. He began to tell me that he
thought I was amazing for being there. He said that he couldn’t imagine coming
so far from home to do what I was doing and that he was really grateful. I told
him that he was being silly. That was the word I used to this huge fireman with
the thick accent of a native New Yorker. Silly. I told him that what I was
doing didn’t compare to what he was having to do. He said “It’s just my job.”
What he was going through shouldn’t have to be anyone’s job.

Then we heard a yell and saw all these guys running. We followed. There was a
firefighter covered by a beam. I helped them get it off of him. There was
blood everywhere. We got the beam off and I stepped back to let them all “do
their job.” When my buddy came back over to me there was blood on his face. It
wasn’t his. I wiped it off with a towel.

Then I began to cry. I was very ashamed of this. I was there to be strong. I
was there to lend support. But I couldn’t help it. We walked over to the side,
away from all the workers, and he wrapped his arms around me and we cried
together. It made me feel much less weak. I saw that this whole thing was
really just more than anyone could bare.

We finished giving out the water and made our way back to the Red Cross center.
On the way back he gave me a beanie baby that his daughter had given him. He
told me he wanted me to remember him. And to remember this. And to pray for
him. We hugged again and then he walked away. We would never forget each
other. I knew that this small amount of time that we had shared together would
be forever burned into our brains.

I went inside and started making some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Then
my legs just went out from under me and I was on the floor before I knew what
was going on. They took me to the Red Cross break room. I felt emptier than I
ever had before or ever felt since. Suddenly in the doorway was my fireman and
a friend of his. His friend gave me a rosary. My guy patted my back and told
me he knew I would be fine. Then he ventured out back onto the ash covered
ground.

I told them I had to go home. I couldn’t take being there. I got on the
subway. That’s when I blacked out. I was in shock. I remember suddenly coming
back into my body somewhat and the doors to the subway opened. I just got out.
I didn’t know where I was and I wasn’t concerned about it. I walked aimlessly
for a very long time. I tried to ask people where I was but I couldn’t talk.
My mouth would move but no sound would come out. They would stare at me and
talk to me but I wasn’t even hearing anything. I didn’t know what was going on
but I wasn’t worried. I was as lost on the inside as I was on that street, so
in my utter self abandonment, it didn’t matter where I was.

A cab stopped. The cabbie got out and asked me if I knew where I was going. I
shook my head. He slowly walked me to his cab and started to drive. He told me
I was in a bad part of town. “You could have gotten shot,” he said. He asked
me my name and I had no idea what it was. He asked me where I was staying and
the best I could do was say “At my friend’s. Its by a bar with a purple
awning.” He drove me around for over and hour while I came enough into my
senses for him to figure out where he needed to get me. When we got in front of
the building he stopped in the middle of the road got out and took my keys from
me. He unlocked the front door of the building and walked me to the apartment.
He pointed at the door and asked me if anyone was there. I said yes. He handed
me the keys, knocked on the door, said “Thank you and God Bless,” and
disappeared down the hall.

When one of the people I was with opened the door, the look in her eyes scared
me. She looked at me like she had no idea who I was. When I looked in the
mirror I knew why. 1) I was covered in ash from head to toe except for a
circle on my face where my face mask had been. And 2) My eyes were empty.
There was no twinkle. No life. It scared me.

I took a bath which I sat in until the water was freezing. When I stood up and
the water ran off of me it still left behind a film of ash. So I had to take a
shower. I looked in the mirror and my eyes looked a little better. But the
smell was filling the room. It was in my cloths. So I threw the shirt, jeans,
socks, and underwear out of the window. I wanted them away from me. I wanted
to lose that smell.

Sometimes it all comes back to me. The look of it, his voice, and more than
anything the smell. And I cry. And I pray for him, just like he asked.  Its still too fresh. It will still be that
way in fifty years. It will always be permeated in that smell.

Random Moments Make Beautiful Memories

I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for AVEENO. I received product samples as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

I feel like lately I have been able to witness some things that the average person doesn’t get to see.  If you have followed this site for awhile you know my Grandmother had a pretty severe series of strokes over the past few years. Amazingly, however, she recently celebrated her 91st Birthday and I wanted to share a moment of #UnscriptedBeauty from the day.

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This picture shows Four Generations of love.  You see Bellamy’s hands, my hands, my Mom’s, and my Grandma’s.  To bring it all together, the blanket under our hands is one my Grandma made for my Pop.  My Pop was a long distance trucker, so that blanket traveled many miles.  This picture is beautiful and it moves me every time I look at it.  Not many people get the honor and privilege of sharing a connection through so many generations.

This has all been on my mind because of AVEENO.  I had the opportunity to do some reading about how most parent’s favorite moments were ones that just “happened.” Those little snapshots of life that you look back on and really feel like a moment was captured that sums up a time in your life.  The picture of our hands is one of those for me.

If you look at my Grandma’s hands it is hard to believe that they are 91 years old!  That is because she was always careful with her skin. She worked hard and loved the sun but she always took time to make sure those hands were baby soft.  I can still remember how great they felt when she took my hand in hers and we walked around.

I want to thank AVEENO, not just for the awesome basket they sent me, but also for the chance to reflect on these precious moments of #UnscriptedBeauty.  I hope you will take a moment and head over to www.aveeno.com and check out their entire product line.

As an added bonus, be sure you enter AVEENO’s #UnscriptedBeauty Contest.  It is easy! Capture photos of the beauty in your life throughout the month of June! Post your photos on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook using #AVEENO, #UnscriptedBeauty, and #Contest. For Facebook posts don’t forget to tag @Aveeno.

One winner will be selected in July to receive a photo-shoot from acclaimed photographer, Danielle Guenther, as well as AVEENO products! Go and win y’all!!

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Pappy’s Day Will Be Here Soon!

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All I am saying is, these three better be getting me something AWESOME for Father’s Day! I am mostly kidding, but despite the fact I have an amazing wife who would never forget Father’s Day, I have an irrational fear that the day will come and it will be treated like every other.

I’ve been wondering why that is and actually getting a little frustrated with myself about it.  Why is recognition on some day that was probably created by Hallmark so important to me?  As I pondered it, I feel like it isn’t about me.

I am lucky.  I am told all the time that I am a great day and people around me are so supportive.  However, I get stressed about Father’s Day for OTHER Dads.  So many Fathers are parenting in a bubble.  No one notices how hard they work or they are constantly criticized. They are told by the media they are stupid and incompetent and many Dads want to be better, but they don’t feel like they can be.

 In years past I have made a point to feature Dads every day who are putting all they have into parenting.  I really wanted to do that this year, but with Bellamy’s arrival it just didn’t pan out.  But the fact that I ONLY think to do that around Father’s Day is lame as well.  I see myself as someone who Champions Fatherhood, yet I am not shining the spotlight on good Dads like I should be.

So pay attention to this space.  You will soon see the faces of men who are working hard to make the next generation happy, whole, and productive.

Thank God for good Daddies.