I hope you will join me at http://www.instgram.com/mamalode and follow my day!
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!
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.
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.
This is Yari:
Yari is my Best Friend in the entire world.
She was in my wedding:
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.
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!
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.)
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!
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.
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
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
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.
Like a lot of Dads, I love the Comedian Jim Gaffigan. He has a way with summing up Fatherhood and at the start of my time working with KIND Bars in order to translate miles walked into food for charity we had recently added a third child to our brood. I feel like Jim sums it up when he said in one of his acts, “You know what it’s like having five kids? Imagine you’re drowning. And someone hands you a baby!” We don’t have five kids, we just leveled up to three, but holy cow it has been an adjustment.
I say all of this, because while working with KIND, I really had to adjust my focus from what I thought my results should be, and instead look closely at what I was teaching my children about why we do things for other people.
When we got started I was so focused on how many miles we were logging it was running my kids ragged. There was no fun in it for them, a hence because of their age this meant that they weren’t learning anything about the positives that come from helping others.
It is hot here in Virginia. And as you see in this picture of my daughter Bellamy, she was not amused with the logging of miles.
So we refocused. Rather than concentrating on the end product, we began to look at what we needing to put into the campaign in order for it to help others rather than be the figurative winner.
Once we did that, everything changed. The attitude of my kids totally changed because it wasn’t about faking it, it was about being authentically there.
When I thought about it, that authentic attitude mirrors our sponsor. KIND Bars doesn’t put anything in their snacks that you can’t pronounce. They pride themselves on using all natural ingredients that are good for you and taste good at the same time.
Since 2004, KIND has been working to make the world better one snack at a time. That is why they partnered with myself, and other Bloggers for the KINDMilesMatter campaign. For every mile we were able to log, KIND is going to donate a box of their bars to a charity of my choice.
This goes to show, they not only care about what goes into your body, but also about what goes out into the community.
I was kind of a jerk the day I got my first car. So, my #FirstCarMoment begins with my Ma fussing at me in line at Golden Corral. Not a Golden Corral Buffet. Just the regular kind. Because we are classy like that. It all kind of happened like this…
Before we left to go to my 16th birthday dinner I was convinced that a car was going to be outside the house. I am not sure why I was so sure about it. Ok, actually I do know why. Because I was spoiled. I can admit that. But, please don’t tell my kids because I am not nearly as generous as my parents are.
So, when we walked out and there was no car my balloon instantly burst. I tried to hide my disappointment (I think…) but when we drove by the bank that was selling my dream car (a 1993 Calypso Green Mustang) and it was no longer parked in front I am sure I was pouting like a bullfrog.
I got it together and we ate and had a pleasant time. After we left dinner, I was driving of course, my parents suggested we cruise through the used car lot in our little town.
As I pulled around the building I couldn’t believe that my little Mustang was parked right there. Talk about adding insult to injury. (Man, I was I little jerk!)
I slowly drove past it, when I noticed a huge banner that said Happy Birthday and it was full of balloons. (Yes, my childhood was directly from an 80s movie except way more countryfied.) I couldn’t believe it! I jumped out and jumped into the car. Actually, that isn’t totally true because the movie soundtrack playing in my head at the moment (probably something like Take My Breath Away…) was interrupted by my parents being unable to find the key. Still, though, I was like a movie star. At least in my own mind.
I loved that car and I drove the crap out of it. I went parking in that car. I cruised my town in that car. I grew up in that car. It was my baby and I washed it by hand and never let it go through the car wash, since my God Father Rod told me that it would damage my paint job.
Eventually my senior year of high school I traded it in for this:
Although, I loved the feeling of the wind through my hair, I never loved my Cavalier like I did that first Mustang.
There is just something sweet about your first car that you can never recreate. That moment of freedom you experience when you pull out of your driveway all alone the first time. Suddenly the world seems all yours.
My Cavalier was amazing and reliable. Until it wasn’t. Although that was totally my fault.
I was driving down I95 between DC and Richmond when I blew that baby up. Not because I was driving too fast, but because I didn’t maintain it. The engine was totally out of oil and I was totally out of a car.
I look back to those days of being young and dumb and I am shocked at how much I took car maintenance for granted. I guess I thought my Dad would do all the work forever.
Now that I AM the Dad, I have traded my sports car days in for keys to an SUV. I mean, how else is this family of five going to be able to get around?
I think of Asher getting behind the wheel and although that is at least 12 years away, I hope he will be more responsible than I was.
I had no idea that the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is seen as the 100 most dangerous days for teen drivers. I can’t say I am surprised though! I think of all the risks I took and I count my lucky stars. And that was in the days before the distraction of cell phones were even added into the mix.
With around 12% of the millions of accidents each year being attributed to tire issues I see that I need to do more to insure my family’s safety on the road. I live on a four lane highway so, trust me, I see first hand horrible accidents every so often. We have to make sure that our families aren’t part of them!
I check the tire pressure on my wife and I’s cars every Sunday afternoon. That is something that my Dad has drilled into my head to do. And I will make sure my kids do that as well. I need to, however, be more vigilant about the tread on my tires.
Often, we look for the best sale on tires, but there are certain things you can’t evaluate just by price. Michelin has been in the tire business for 125 years (say what!??!) and they are all about preventing the around 125,000 accidents that occur due to inexperience drivers having tire issues.
My #FirstCarMoment was amazing and I want my son’s to be as well! So I will trust only the experts with my tires.
After all, keeping these three safe is one of my biggest jobs as a Dad!
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.
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!!
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.