Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014: The year in review

I know Mommy B and I haven’t been the best bloggers this past year. Our number of posts have dropped significantly since we first started the blog back in 2011, but that doesn’t mean our lives are any less eventful. If anything, it really means that we’re busier than ever since we don’t have time to post. This year has been a pretty big one for us, so let’s take a look back at some of the events that have made this year so memorable.

We started the year off with a little snow/ice in Charleston, which is a rare sight. That was right after we had taken the kids back to Ohio to see a real winter. They did so well on the trip, but I know it’s tough for Grandma C to have 4 extra people in her house for a week. After that, I took Mommy B skiing for the first time in her life. She did so well and I was so proud of her – and we had a great time relaxing by ourselves. We took the kids to the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus where Aiden got to witness the erstwhile “family circus” for the first time in his life. It was truly a magical experience for all of us, and I’m hoping that we can take them every time the circus comes to Charleston. Shortly after that, we sold the house that Mommy B and I had turned into our home – the place we bought right after we got married, where we got our dog, where our children were born and basically where we started our family – and moved back to Mount Pleasant. While we didn’t move very far geographically, the two locations are worlds apart from each other. Our main motivator? Our children’s education. In a couple years, our kids will be attending some of the best public schools in the state of South Carolina… which wasn’t something we were able to say just a few months ago.

The spring rolled on as we settled into our “new” house and Aiden moved up to the next class at school. I could not believe how well he did with it and how well he has done with it since then. Alli has progressed out of the Terrible Threes and is now in what I call the “Independent Fours.” She wants to dress herself each morning, and even comes down to wake us up on the weekends already fully dressed – complete with leggings and tutu skirt. She doesn’t want any help coloring, singing, dancing, eating or brushing her teeth… just to name a few.

Just as things around the house were starting to come around, I was rear-ended on my way home from work one day. And just like that, my dream car was totaled. I still thank whoever is up there that the kids weren’t in the car at the time and I wasn’t severely injured in the accident. But the ensuing battle with tow truck drivers, repair shops, chiropractors and the tightwads at the insurance company have been enough to make me never want to be involved in a serious car accident again, injuries be damned. I really miss that car… probably more than I miss the Mustang GT I had in high school. But I had purchased this car myself – it was mine. And in an instant it was taken away from me. So I did what any normal person does after their dream car gets totaled – buys their wife a newer car instead. Maybe I can afford one in a few years when the kids are off to school.

Speaking of, Mommy B finished her Master’s degree after 18 long months of hard work. It was tough slating for a while there, especially with everything else that we had occurred within that time frame. Heck, I had to look back on the blog just to remind myself of everything that had gone on. And to think that all the while she was putting herself through school, it’s just nuts. We’re both looking into new employment opportunities to complement our growing skills and education levels. Ok, well Mommy B’s new education level, at least. We’re both very optimistic new opportunities that will broaden our horizons await us in the new year.

Over the summer, Aiden moved out of his crib and into a “big boy” bed. A bunk bed, actually – which he seems to thoroughly enjoy. Shortly after that, we decided it was time to begin potty training. He took to it by the third day much like his big sister did when we trained her. He barely had any accidents and was amazing with it at school. His teachers helped out a lot, but he was super-proud to be in the “no diaper” club in his class at school. He even moved out of his nightly pull-ups a while back… which means we are officially done with diapers AND pull-ups, forever. It’s crazy to think that I haven’t changed a diaper in months and I never will on my own children again. So all within a matter of a couple months, we went from having a diaper-clad “baby” in a crib to a potty-trained kiddo in a twin bunk bed. So not only will I never change another one of my children’s diapers, but I will also never again lie one of my children down in a crib. Well, that happened rather quickly… (as I brush the tear from the corner of my eye.)

As you might recall, we decided to fly the family back to Ohio over the Labor Day weekend so the kids could actually see Mommy B and I’s home state without snow on it. They had an absolute blast – flying on an airplane for the first time, going to the fair and seeing all types of animals at the Toledo Zoo. We just happened to get the short period of nice Ohio weather while we were there, and the kids got to swim in Grandpa Ron’s pond and ride around on his tractor. Mommy B got to visit one of her best friends while I watched the kiddos, and we had an awesome cookout at Grandma C’s house with the entire family. It was a great trip and I’m so glad we decided to go up there during the summer months for a change.

Mommy B and I decided to wrap up the year by taking a few days off after Thanksgiving to fly to Jamaica for some R&R. I’ve been meaning to post about it, but you know how busy things get towards the end of the year. My parents watched the kiddos for us while Mommy B and I spent a few days climbing waterfalls and stuffing our faces at an all-inclusive resort on the coast. The weather could have been a little better while we were there, but we had so much fun regardless. Mommy B is too modest to admit it, but she’s been running almost every day since after her graduation – and has the body to prove it. This trip was the first time in over 4 years that I’ve seen her that confident in how her body looks in a swim suit. It was so wonderful to see her smile and have fun like that again, and I’m hoping we can do it again sometime soon.

Well Followers, as you can tell this year has been full of firsts… and lasts. First time riding on an airplane, last diaper change. First “move” to a new house, last walk through the old one. First circus, last graduation. First (and hopefully last) trip to the ER for sinus issues. First (and hopefully not last) mud run for Dad-E. First molars, last bout of teething. First bunk bed, last crib – ever. As I sit here and reflect on it all I’m slowly realizing it’s been a heck of a year for us. Mommy B and I are taking a few days off from work to spend some time with the kids and Grandma C who’s coming to visit. I’m going to try to do a better job of updating the blog more often next year, because I have a feeling next year will have even more adventures that I won’t want to forget.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Alli's Four Year Stats

It's hard to believe I'm typing this out... I am sort of in denial, maybe that's why it has taken me awhile to get up the nerve to write out my first born's FOUR YEAR OLD stats and info. It's so hard to believe that she's four. She is such a little person, such a grown up in a sense too, it's incredible. It makes me incredibly happy, and incredibly sad. She is already talking to me about when she's 5 and riding the school bus and when she's five and she starts golfing with daddy (?) and when she's five she'll be all grown up... at least she's waiting until five to think that. Maybe that means four will still be my little girl...

Weight: 36 lbs 4 oz (61st %)
Height: 40 3/4 inches (72nd %)
BMI: 15.3 (50th %)

Favorite color: Orange. Everything is or should be orange. Clothes, skirts, socks, favorite foods, candy, frosting for anything, all needs to be orange.
Favorite clothes: EVERY.DAY = long sleeved shirt, preferably one with sparkles, leggings, and most importantly, a TUTU. Any color, any style, doesn't matter if it matches, she must wear one. Even most nights, it is a must with her pajamas as well. (Pick your battles...!)
Favorite shows: She loves a LOT. Sleeping Beauty, Beauty & The Beast, Cinderella, Princess and the Frog, and definitely Cars.
Favorite toys: Pooh Bear still sleeps with her every night. Same with bunny. And she loves her Cars. Especially Doc, Flo, Sally, Lightning, and Finn.
Besties: Anna Grace, Brookie, Khayden, and of course, her best friend at home, Aiden. :)
Favorite food/snacks: Orange juice, oreos, frosting off the top of cupcakes/cookies, apple slices, grapes, and big hot dogs (Kielbasa)/mac & cheese is her favorite dinner... oh, and pizza is a favorite of course too.
There is so much in her day to day activities and conversations that I wish I could share on here. I just don't even know how to put it into words. She amazes us every day. Her teachers at school tell us every day when we pick her up that they wish there were 15 Alli's in the class. That truly melts your heart to hear something like that. She is a great listener, she is so observant, she remembers EVERYthing, she calls her brother "buddy", encourages his and gives him high fives, she's just a sweetheart. But, she's also got her moments. Her crazy times, her terrible three's (that have trickled into 4...?!), and her opinionated self are hard to handle sometimes. But when she's good, she's soo good, and it makes us so grateful that we're doing something right.

Last night, she told Dad-E when he was helping me with getting Aiden's PJ's on, "Daddy come on, we gotta brush my teeth, they're getting yucky!" We were watching Sleeping Beauty, and when the burn "all" the spinning wheels so that the curse won't come true, she says, "But they forgot to burn one spinning wheel!" - she truly picked up on the fact that later on the in the movie, Sleeping Beauty will prick her finger on the one spinning wheel that wasn't burnt. It's incredible. We can't even explain how proud we are of her, and of course, Aiden's right on her tail keeping us proud and amazed every day too.

Happy 4th birthday sweet girl, we are so thankful to have you in our lives.

Monday, October 27, 2014

4 years

4 years ago today my life changed forever. 4 years ago today, lots of lives changed forever. Something big happened that day, something I’ll remember as long as I live. It was one of those events that changes the entire course of your life, no matter what happens after it. It was an event that millions of people have experienced, and millions more who never will.

4 years ago today, I became a parent.

That’s right, my baby girl turned 4 years old today. I remember the day well… Alli was 4 days past her due date, so we decided to induce Mommy B that morning. It was kind of a strange feeling meeting with the OB. “You mean I get to pick my child’s birthday?” I asked. If she didn’t come on her own before then, then yes. Once the drugs kicked in and the contractions started, I called my sister (who was still up the road in college), and she hauled ass to Charleston. Grandma C was on her way, and little did I know that my parents were making their way as well. I watched Mommy B go from being nervous to being in agony as the contractions began in earnest. Then I watched from my front-row seat as they put the epidural in and her pain almost instantly subsided. I don’t know if she really took a nap at that point, but she looked so peaceful once the drugs were flowing.

A couple more hours went by and before we knew it, it was time to push. Those of you who follow this blog know I don’t like to sit on the sidelines when the action is taking place… so there I was, holding one of Mommy B’s legs to give her something strong to push against. And before we knew it, out came our daughter… with all her fingers and toes and a full head of dark hair. Followers might recall that we didn’t find out Alli’s gender ahead of time, so the moment she came out was truly a surprise to us. I took a good, long look at her girl parts before relaying the message back up to Mommy B to give her the news. She had been convinced the last couple months that our first child was going to be a boy, so she was even more surprised. They cleaned Alli up, got her to start crying and using those lungs of hers, then passed her back to Mommy B for the first hold.

Little did I know at that point, how truly exceptional of a mother she would become. The love in her eyes for her newborn was something words cannot begin to describe. You hear people say growing up that parents are supposed to “do anything for their children”… but to see that in someone’s eyes is very different. Then I got to hold my baby girl. Here she was, my flesh and blood, and I could literally hold her in my arms. I really wish there was a word to describe the combination of emotions that rose up inside me as I held her close. In my mind, her life was already flashing forward – changing diapers, first steps, taking the training wheels off her bike, cheering her on at her soccer game, pictures on prom night, moving her into her first college dorm, walking her down the aisle… and maybe, if I was lucky, I’d get to hold her first child as well.

A short time later they began the process of breastfeeding, which both girls took to very easily. Then they took Alli to the nursery and I ran across the street to buy a bottle of champagne. It was near record-setting heat that day, just like today. Highs in the upper 80’s – not bad right before Halloween. At that point Grandma C had arrived, along with Aunt Bacon. My parents weren’t far behind. They all took turns congratulating us and holding our sleeping princess. They were all a little suspect about the dark hair, but their concerns were put to rest in the coming months as it all fell out and her blond locks started filling in. Alli actually slept pretty well the first couple of nights. I actually remember thinking to myself, “Gosh, if this is what it’s going to be like, I don’t know why people complain about it so much.” Haha.

A lot has changed in 4 years, and it’s amazing to look back at it all now. We’ve been through a lot, as to be expected with any “new” parents. There have been ups and downs, twists and turns, and plenty of bumps along the way. We’ve had a second child, and moved to a new house. We’ve furthered our careers all in the name of bettering ourselves and enriching our children’s lives.  We’ve painted a few walls, shuffled a few cars, and changed a few diapers. We’ve both lost sleep, but gained experience.

As you get older, you start to realize that as much as you try to teach your children, they end up teaching you a lot more than you think. I’ve learned that while patience is a virtue, idleness should be a sin. In that moment I held Alli in my arms for the first time I promised myself that I wouldn’t let life get in the way of my children. I wouldn’t put in late nights at the office just so they could have a shiny new piece of crap to get bored with. And, I would keep myself in good health as much as I could control – so that I wouldn’t just watch her ride her bike, but ride along with her. We would do things as a family – grow together, learn together, love together. Because at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters: the relationships we’ve formed in our short life span on this planet. 4 years ago today I got to start a brand new relationship that changed my life forever, and it’s been a pretty darn good one.

Happy birthday, Allison – Daddy loves you

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Potty Time!

Well let me first say sorry again for not keeping up with the blog like I should. It's been very neglected and I'm trying to be better about that. Soo, two weeks ago now, we decided it was time to clear a weekend to dedicate to Aiden and potty training. We psyched him up, talked a lot about it, even to the point that we'd ask him what we were doing that weekend and he'd tell, "potty train!" So, that Friday evening, Sept. 12, I changed my very last diaper ever. I put that last diaper on Aiden that night, realizing that when we did this potty training for Alli, he was still very much in diapers so I knew I wasn't going to miss changing them. But now, it hit me that this will just be another thing they don't need me for anymore. Kind of sad. But pretty amazing seeing them grow up too. 

Saturday morning came around and we made a big scene about throwing every last diaper away. He had fun doing that. Then we went about our training, following the same book and guidelines we did with Alli. We asked about 809 times, tell us when you have to go potty, okay? He already started to get annoyed and would answer back okayyyy mommy!!! Ha! Eric took Alli away for a bit so we could concentrate. He had quite s few accidents but also several successes. He also managed to perforate my eardrum that morning by using a toy screwdriver and shoving it straight in my ear. We were playing on the couch, trying to pass time, and he just shoved it in - so fast I think we were both in shock. I had to have hearing tests and have had several ENT exams so far, we're hoping it will just heal on its own. But I guess that's how he felt about being stuck inside potty training.

Day 2 was similar to day 1, with some major successes and I could definitely read his cues much easier. Again, Eric  tried to distract Alli so I could concentrate on him. He was definitely starting to get it and things were clicking.

Day 3, I felt like a failure. We had lots of accidents and very few times on the potty, but I knew it was almost through the intense three days and he had to be absorbing some of this and "getting" it. I just hoped for the best and we sent him off to school the next day with long talks with his teachers about our methods, no pull ups!, and lots of spare clothes just in case. 

Fast forward two weeks now, and he has had only two accidents at school. One at home. That's it! He might not like to tell us all the time, but he's pretty predictable and easy to read. We couldn't be prouder of him, and can't believe he's caught on so quickly. 

Now, onto our next adventure....! (Nothing exciting planned, but I'm sure something will come up, that's how it goes with us!)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Summer trip to Ohio

Funny how things turn out… just as I put up a post about how Mommy B had finished her Master’s work and that she’d have more time on her hands, a month goes by without hearing from us. Well, a lot has happened in that time, including our annual pilgrimage back to Ohio to see Mommy B’s family.

A few months ago, Mommy B and I decided it was high time we took the kids to Ohio when it wasn’t snowing for a change. So as a way to take a “summer vacation” to celebrate Mommy B’s graduation, we decided we would book a flight for the whole family over the Labor Day weekend. It was to be our first airplane ride as an entire family – even though Alli had technically ridden on one when she was not even a year old yet.

One of the disadvantages of flying out of Charleston is that you almost always have to connect through another city to get anywhere. As I began my search online for flights, I was not liking what I was seeing. Hour flight to Charlotte, 2 hour layover, 2 hour flight to Dayton… Hour and a half to Baltimore, hour and a half layover, another hour to Columbus. You get the idea. Not to mention that no matter where we flew into, we’d still have another hour or more driving to Findlay. Once I added everything up, we would be traveling almost as long flying there as if we just packed up and drove it straight through! However, I was determined to make it work in between nap times and all that jazz. I kept searching and searching, and finally came across a direct flight from Charleston to Detroit, which is actually the same distance from Findlay than the other airports. The price for each ticket was about the same – and flight time was only 2 hours. And to sweeten the deal even more, each flight was early enough that we’d reach our destination just in time for naps. Umm, yes and yes… I’ll purchase now, thanks!

The flight to Ohio couldn’t have gone any better. It was early on a Wednesday morning which meant the flight was barely half-full – and we weren’t the only ones on it with small children. The kiddos were so excited to go to the airport in their pajamas, and were even patient going through security. They got to watch as their stuffed animals went through the X-ray scanner, then magically appeared on the other side. I purposefully selected the 4 seats at the back of the plane for both trips, so we let everyone else board first. We figured the least amount of time the kids would be confined to a small space, the better. They loved running down the gangway, and even got to wave to the pilots as we boarded. They loved looking out the window as we took off, seeing the ground zip by then watched in awe as we ascended through the clouds. It was a very cool experience for Mommy B and I – watching them take it all in for the first time. They were absolute angels for the whole ride, thank the lord. We brought lots of snacks and things for them to do in their seats, and before we knew it we were descending into Detroit. We met Grandma C out front and began the trip back to Mommy B’s home town.

After naps that afternoon, we took both kids to the Hancock County Fair. Now, for those of youse not from a small rural town, the County Fair is THE event of the year. I’ve heard Mommy B talk about going to the fair since we started dating 11 years ago, but we had never been in town when it was occurring.  So we spent that afternoon hauling the kids around in a wagon as they got to see horses, cows, pigs, hens, roosters, chickens, pet bunny rabbits (after which Alli said she needed one), ate Elephant Ears, rode ponies, sat on tractors, and rode some carnival-type rides. Mommy B even showed off her hidden talent at the Cane Game. If you have to ask what that is, you’re not alone. The kids had a blast, and by the end of the day were totally wiped out. So much so that they didn’t even care about sharing a bedroom!

The next day, we took them back up the road to the Toledo Zoo. This time, Uncle Tom and Grandma Great came with us. We again spent the day looking at animals and goofing around on the play sets. That evening, Grandma and Grandpa Great put the kids to bed for us while Mommy B and I went out for the evening. We spent some time out with Grandma C, then met up with Grandpa Ron for some adult drinks. We warned him that we’d be bringing the kids over the next day to go swimming, just so he’d be ready for the little tornado headed his way! It was good to get out on our own for a little bit and see some family and friends. And the weather was absolutely perfect – as it usually is for about 2 weeks out of the year up there.

On Friday, we went over to Grandpa Ron’s house to let the kiddos swim. They had never been to Ohio when it was warm enough to swim, so we were hoping this would be something fun for them to do. And boy, was it ever! After playing for a little while, Mommy B headed to Dayton to meet up with her best friend Jamie. I spent the rest of the afternoon splashing in the pond with the kids and riding them around on the tractor. After dinner it was more quality time wrestling in the living room with Grandpa Ron. They had such a fun time – lots of giggles and laughs had by all. By the time I got them home and in bed, they were wiped out once again.

Saturday was spent hanging out with family. Everyone came over to Grandma C’s house to play with the kids and have a good ol’ fashioned family cookout. The kids had fun spraying the hose at passers-by, and splashing around in two small baby pools we had filled up for them. Everyone got their turn playing with them and getting soaked by their little squirt guns. Mommy B and I took turns taking pictures in between scarfing some delicious corn on the cob. I love you South Carolina, but you just can’t compare to Ohio’s corn. The kids loved seeing everyone and loved all the attention from family members… it warmed my heart to see them smile so much.

Sunday was spent relaxing and a couple more visits from friends, followed by lots of laundry and packing everything up for the trip home. We made one more stop at the County Fair, at which point Aiden decided he wanted to ride the ponies too. The next morning we made the trek back up to Detroit and made the 2-hour flight back to Charleston. That was after Mommy B’s hand got swabbed and she was flagged by security. So there I was, standing in the middle of Detroit International Airport security lines with all our bags and two kids who wanted to know why Mommy had to go with security and they couldn’t go with her. Off she went into the private room for an extra pat down and for TSA to rummage through her bags. Good thing too, they almost let a terrorist onto the plane armed with a debit card and coloring books!

 I knew we were really headed home when the pilot came over the speakers and said, “Local time is 9:50am in Charleston and it’s currently 90 degrees. We should be there in just under two hours.” 90 degrees already, eh? Yeah, it was only September 1st. The kids were a little less impressed with the flight home, but still did amazing. We made it home safe and the kids immediately jumped into bed to take a nap. It had been a fun trip, and they were excited to get back into their own house and back into their own beds. Things couldn’t have worked out any better, which was shocking given the last few times we’ve flown anywhere.

Except for a few minor meltdowns here and there (what 2-3 year-olds don’t?) the kids did wonderfully the entire trip. And I was glad that I was able to give Mommy B some much-needed family time that she’s been wanting for a while now. It was such a good decision to go up when we did, as I mentioned the weather could not have been any better. It enabled us to take the kids out and do more fun things with them, as opposed to being cooped up in the house because it’s 20 degrees outside in December.

Now that our trip is over, it’s time to focus on ourselves more. Spend more time with the kids, and do some things around the house that we’ve been wanting to do since we moved in. The weather will (eventually) be getting colder here, so what better time to make some improvements to the house we’re working on calling a home. It was good to spend some time away to remind ourselves what’s really important in our lives – and that’s the people that are in it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I'm back!

Since Mommy B can't get logged into the blog at the moment, I'm posting this for her:

So, wow. I have left this blog for almost 18 months, and it feels so good to be able to write without the thought in the back of my mind that I have six other papers I should be writing right now. I am DONE. Pending all results of my last few paper submissions, final portfolio, and practicum evaluations, I will have completed my MSN degree. I am proud, thankful, and appreciative of everyone that has made it work along the way. Especially and most importantly of all, Eric. He's been my rock, my supporter, single dad, and the one who has held this family together. I have had moments of sheer and utter breakdown, crying for no reason (or for every reason!), and I have been mostly unavailable for all the normal bath and bedtime routines each night. Dinner has usually been whatever we can find laying around, and I'm sure he's glad that normalcy is hopefully around the corner.

I have been looking into job opportunities, but taking it slow and trying to find something that makes me happy. I want to teach, in some capacity, but still work with patients, families, and nurses. I am looking but not too desperate, I do love my area I work in right now but I want to grow and develop professionally, hence, the reason for continuing my education. I am now on track to finish my RN III advancement within MUSC too, a huge accomplishment within the organization that I am excited about as well, we'll see if I get that advancement by the end of October! So, that's me in a nutshell, I have finally reached the end of my journey, for now. Who knows what I may feel like doing again once the kids get into school-aged years!

In other news, we have been extremely busy with trying to update things on the house, and still make it "home". I have taken the time to update color schemes in the living room and our bedroom. I want to paint some more, I want to update the garage/storage for in there, and we want to take on the task of updating our shower in our master bathroom. We just can't sit still apparently. We'll see how that all goes!

Onto the kiddos... they are growing up way too fast. I don't even remember the last time I got to update on the little things they have been doing and saying, but I am trying to make a point again to cherish those moments and record as many as we can. Alli is so smart, and picks up on and remembers EVERYthing. Aiden's not far behind, either. He's a little parrot these days, and loves to copy his big sister. They have been playing more and more independently together, and she loves telling him that "she's a mom" and can do anything he needs rather than running to me all the time. (That's wonderful! Ha!). He recently, two days ago, moved out of his crib and into a big boy bed in his room. Eric and I stood back for a moment the first night we went up to check on him, and couldn't believe we'd never put another baby into a crib. Our babies are growing up fast. It's incredible, emotional, and exciting. I can't lie and say I will miss the baby years, as everyone tells us we will, I just was never that much of a "baby person", and as much as I loved the snuggles, the other times were much more difficult for me than the troubles these days. I can handle temper tantrums about God knows what rather than having a baby cry all night and not knowing why. To each their own I suppose, I know some people will tell us that someday we will miss that, but, I'm not so sure I'll miss those parts.

I will definitely be back in the swing of things, as soon as I can figure out my password for the blog again... seems I've forgotten it after all these months. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

So much going on right now – Part II

When I last left you Followers, we were getting bombarded visited by family members and I still needed a car. Well, that all has changed. We’re back to normal capacity around the house, and the vehicle situation has been resolved. Speaking of the car situation, I paid my BMW off about a month ago, and have yet to receive my title in the mail from the DMV. I have called them twice now and have basically gotten the same “meh” attitude where they told me it was in “print pending” status and it would be a few more business days until I received it. Well here it is, another week later and I still don’t have it. It amazes me every day how any government agency gets any work done.

So on Friday I emailed the claims jerk whom I’ve been dealing with this whole time and explained what the DMV told me. He called back about an hour later and basically said, “Have you found a new car yet? No? Yeah… I’m gonna need you to take the rental car back by the end of the day Monday. We’ve had you in that thing for a month and a half.” To which I replied, “Fine,” and promptly hung up on him. Looks like Mommy B and I had our weekend plans made for us! Since the last Honda place sold the car I had transferred here to some other sucker someone else, our options were wide open. We stopped by a small dealership near our house to check out a couple cars that Mommy B had found online, and test drove a couple cars they had on the lot. Well as luck would have it, Mommy B fell in love with a 2010 Lexus HS 250 hybrid that had a killer price tag on it. After doing a little homework over the weekend and making sure the car checked out, I told Mommy B that since I hadn’t found a car I was really excited about, if she found a car that she really liked I would get it for her and I would drive her Pilot. She was a little resistant to the idea at first, but eventually came around with a little convincing. Besides, it was her turn to get a newer car anyway – annnnnnd I felt that this could serve as an early graduation present. Hopefully I earned myself some brownie points in the process. So I took a half day on Monday to return the rental car and buy Mommy B a shiny new Lexus. Technically it’s used, but it’s new to us. And it’s very pretty, much like its new owner.

Now, about those kids…

Alli is really starting to assert her independence these days… which is a good thing and a bad thing. The good part is that she knows what she wants, when she wants it, and can tell us such. The bad part is that she knows what she wants, when she wants it, and can definitely tell us such. She has become very easy to take care of – as long as you have the clothes and food she wants. If she can pick out her own “pretty clothes” and her own meal, she’s a happy camper and will go with the flow. But God forbid something in there goes wrong, and it’s potential for meltdown central. Everything is a crisis these days, whether it’s because she only got 2 crackers instead of 3 (since she’s 3) or it’s that Aiden said “No” when she asked him if he was her best friend for the tenth time that day. She has even mastered the taddle-tale voice already. You know the kind, “Aiden won’t share with meeeeee…” or “I need my magic waaaaaand…” But she is still so smart and remembers everything – which I know I’ve been saying forever. She actually used the word ‘otherwise’ in a sentence the other day, correctly. I looked down at her and just shook my head. I hate that she has a late birthday, because I really think she needs to be in kindergarten by the time she’s 5. If she has to wait until she’s almost 6, that’s going to be tough.

Aiden is talking more and more as well. I’m sure that having a fluent big sister around has helped his cause, and we can tell that he has picked up on a lot of the things she says. His vocabulary has exploded and he’s able to pronounce almost any word that he’s trying to say. And if he can’t say it, he’ll point (or drag you) to whatever it is he wants or needs. He’s almost as tall as Alli it feels like, but they both are growing so fast. He still loves playing outside, moving toys around (mostly the big ones), and going for rides in things. He wants to help with anything and everything, especially if it involves tools or the vacuum. He’s also figured out how to plug something into an electrical socket, which we found out a few weeks ago. Luckily there was no incident involved, but we found one of our phone chargers randomly hanging out of the socket and knew someone had figured it out.

We tried taking both of them to the movies this past weekend because the weather was crappy. The new Planes: Fire & Rescue movie had just come out and they both loved the first one, so we figured it would be a good chance to see how they would do. Well, whatever idiot decided that starting a kids movie with 20 minutes of previews was a good idea should be taken out back and force-fed baby food until they explode. Aiden did great for about an hour, but at that point he was ready to get moving. I went out into the lobby with him while Mommy B stayed a little while longer with Alli. After about 15 more minutes, I saw them coming out as well. We were actually able to get our tickets refunded due to having to leave the movie early, so that was nice. It was the first pleasant customer service experience I’ve had in a long, long time.

Meanwhile, Mommy B’s graduation can’t get here fast enough. She has less than a month to go, and we’re both very excited that the end is so close. We’re planning on making a trip to Ohio sometime this summer or fall and it’ll be the first time the kids have ridden on an airplane together. Technically, Alli rode on one when she was about one year old, but Aiden never has. I scoured the Interwebs to find direct flights to and from our destination, as the smallest amount of time spent in a small, confined space is going to work out best for everyone. We’ll see how the flying with small children goes, but I know Mommy B is looking forward to some much needed R&R. Aren’t we all…

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

So much going on right now – Part I

I know I’ve been neglecting you, Followers. And that is never my intent. As many of you know, or can tell from reading this blog, our lives are rarely short on action. There is always something going on, something moving (literally and figuratively), or something changing. It is this constant flurry of action that often tears me away from being able to post for sometimes weeks at a time. Naturally, that just snowballs as more things happen the longer I wait to catch y’all up. Let’s see if I can recount the happenings…

Back in November of 2012, I bought my dream car from a neighborhood friend. A platinum-gray 2008 BMW 535i with the Sport and Performance package, twin-turbo 300-horsepower engine, murder-tint on the windows… you get the idea. Alli used to say, “Daddy, you have a race car!” I promise I didn’t speed with the kids in the car, but she thought it looked like a race car. Well, on May 29th, 2014, that dream came to an end. As I was sitting at a red light on my way home from work, about to turn into our new neighborhood, a gentleman in a Chevy Silverado 2500 must have been too preoccupied with his phone (or something) and barreled into me. He hit me so hard that it pushed my car halfway into the turn lane, jarred the sunroof shade completely back into the roof cavity, and sent my work badge flying from its home in the center console all the way into the back seat. The rear bumper and left tail light were obliterated, the trunk lid was folded in half, and the rear windshield completely dislodged and shattered – glass was everywhere. By the grace of all that is holy, I was not injured by this idiot’s negligence. And more importantly, the kids were not in the car. I don’t even want to think about the emotional scarring it could have caused much less any physical injuries caused by being in the back seat so close to the impact.

I knew the moment I got out of the car and looked at the damage that the car was totaled. Well, the gentleman’s insurance company didn’t think so (at first). I can’t even begin to tell you the number of phone calls and haggling I’ve had to do to get this situation handled. It started off with the claims representative who got my claim taking a week’s vacation right after it got filed – without telling anyone (like, say, me) and without delegating his workload to anyone at the office. When he finally got back and around to returning my numerous voicemails, we had a situation of getting the car released from the tow yard where it had been taken the day of the accident and over to the body shop. Countless back and forth, dealing with shady tow truck drivers, idiot appraisers and everyone’s favorite, the DMV, have made the last month a total nightmare to deal with. On the up side, I’ve been driving a rental car for free ever since the day after the wreck (and still am to this day).

We finally got the situation down to a matter of finances after the body shop found more damage that wasn’t in the original estimates that put the cost of repairs above the 75% threshold to consider the car totaled. The insurance company offered me $18,120.26 to buy the car out and call it a day, or $16,025.26 and I could keep the car and do whatever I wanted with it. Well, a friend of Grandma C suggested I contact some salvage yards and see what they would be willing to pay me for the car in its current state. I found a buyer who was willing to pay me $5,200 for the car as-is. Well, for Johnny Thinwallet here, that’s a no-brainer. By doing a little more legwork myself and hanging on to the car a little bit longer, I could make myself another $3,105? I’ll take what’s behind Door #2, Monty. (Sorry, Old Guy reference). So my poor car now hides in shame in our garage, waiting for the salvage title to come back so she can be taken away and sold at auction, likely to be stripped for parts. Talk about a drag – walking past her every morning on my way out of the house. I hate to quote a cheesy line from a Disney movie, but this seems to fit quite nicely, “I guess that’s the good part about dreams… now you get to go find a new one.”

So the hunt is on for a new car. I had been eyeing a Honda Accord I found online, and even had a dealership bring it here from Concord, North Carolina (just north of Charlotte). I test drove it and loved it even more. That experience ended with me walking out of the dealership after the sales manager refused to negotiate with me on the price whatsoever. And they wonder where the saying “worse than a used-car salesman” comes from? I’m offering you cash, dude, WTF? The saga continues…

To help alleviate some of the stress, Grandma C came to visit for a whole week. She went into full grandma-mode, which basically means I barely saw my kids the entire time she was here. While I can’t say I was bummed about the much-needed “break,” by the end of the week I felt like I had really missed out on spending time with them. But I certainly didn’t want to take away from Grandma C’s time with them, since she only gets to see them once every couple months or so. However, I don’t think Grandma C wanted to spend time with them the way that she did, where both of them were a bit under the weather and prolonged periods of, um… lower digestive issues. If you know what I mean and I think you do. To make matters worse, I was not immune to whatever had inflicted the kiddos, as I battled the stomach bug for a few days myself. Nothing like spending the 4th of July in the bathroom!

The day Grandma C left, Grandpa Ron and Uncle Jacob arrived. They stayed with us for the weekend of the 4th of July so they could see the kiddos as well. I still wasn’t feeling fabulous, but the kids were finally starting to come around to the healthy side. We decided to keep the kids up late and take everyone out on Pops’ boat to see the fireworks in the Charleston harbor. Around 8pm we loaded everyone on the boat and headed down the river, and dropped anchor just in front of the aircraft carrier that they shoot them off from. It was a heck of a sight, and the kids seemed to really enjoy the experience. They even slept in the next morning until 9am! I can’t even remember the last time I slept that late, much less them sleeping until that hour.

So after almost a week and a half of being spoiled, loved on, bussed around, and playing hookie from school, the kids are getting back into their normal routine. Everyone finally seems to be feeling better (myself included), which of course makes Mommy B and I’s lives much more pleasant. It’s a good thing too; we were starting to run low on sheets for everyone! We get a few days reprieve playing host before Uncle Tom comes to town. He’ll only be staying with us for a couple days, then staying in a rental on the beach (like a real vacation?) for the rest of the week. He’s got it figured out – only staying in the nut house for a couple days before running off to hide at the beach. Man, when do Mommy B and I get to do that again?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Happy (belated) Father's Day

Here's the link in case the video doesn't show up.

I came across this yesterday and I have to admit it choked me up quite a bit. I won't lie, I probably watched it about 5 times back-to-back because of how much it grabbed me.

In my opinion, THIS is what Father's Day should be about. In my humble opinion, there are way too many videos and articles out there now where all the parent talks about is how they don't want to be with their children on their respective "holiday." And it's not just Father's Day, it happens on Mother's Day too - all that parent wants is to be left alone and have a day of relaxation to themselves.

Well, I think that mindset stinks on toast. Look, I get where they are coming from - everyone needs a little R&R every once in a while. But pick a different day to do it. How about the Saturday after Mother's Day to go get a massage and a mani/pedi? How about the week before Father's Day to go fishing with the fellas? But not on the actual day!

Come on, people... they're your friggin' kids, not some annoyance you just have to deal with. I get that you need a break, trust me, I know. But you signed up for this deal, and that means you're on duty 24/7 until they are grown and gone. Until then, get your rear end in gear. As I mentioned I've watched this video quite a few times... and I didn't see any shots of the dad sitting on the couch. Or lying in bed. Or out bar-hopping with his buddies.

The point I'm trying to make is near and dear to my heart. Father's (and Mother's) Day should be spent with your kids, not without them. Do you know what all the deployed soldiers would give to be back home with their kids on Father's Day? They would probably puke if they knew how much we civilians joke about avoiding our kids on those special days. Or what about the fathers who have lost their children to car accidents, cancer, or these mindless school shootings? Try asking one of them how they feel inside every year when Father's Day rolls around and they spend it visiting their child's grave instead of their playhouse.

The video is called "Calls for Dad" for a reason. Come on, dads... answer that call. Don't take Father's Day for granted. Spend time with your kids. Because there are lots of fathers out there who don't get the option.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Grinding it out

Nothing really Earth-shattering going on at the moment, just marching our way towards summer and all that entails. A few updates on things here and there, just to keep you in the know.

The “new house” is slowly but surely coming together. We still have a ways to go to make it perfect (if there is such a thing), but little by little we’re getting things looking the way we want them. We’ve painted our bedroom and have decorated (most of) the walls with pictures and other artwork that Mommy B has acquired/created. We also purchased a desk so we could have the computer in a more permanent location than the kitchen bar area. Having this desk set up also allowed us to put away and organize some of the few remaining boxes of stuff we still had lingering around. The computer and our paperwork now have a home and our bedroom looks much less cluttered. I feel better now.

Next on the honey-do list was painting and updating the laundry room. The previous owners (bless their hearts) painted the laundry room this dark, burnt-brick color that makes the poor room look ever more claustrophobic than it already is. This is the second time in as many houses I’ve owned that the previous owner painted some random room that color – must be a southern thing. In any case, that color choice and the single ventilated shelf wasn’t going to cut it for us, so we gutted it and are starting over. I’ve spent the last couple of nights cleaning, mudding, taping, and painting to get this room looking much more inviting. Not that someone ever really wants to spend copious amounts of time in the laundry room, but we figured with two kids we’ll be spending enough time in there that it should look better than it did. Tonight I’ll be sanding the holes I patched and putting on the final coat of paint. Then we’ll be calling in the professional, a.k.a. Pops, to help us install some shelving and cabinets to put the finishing touches on the room.

Since the weather has been so nice the last couple of weeks, I’ve also been doing some outside chores that needed to get done. Said chores include trimming the dead prons of a couple of the palm trees we have in our yard (I know, tough life, right?), cutting down a small tree, and clearing about 800 square feet of woods/brush from behind our back fence. Much of the foliage was starting to creep over the fence and into the yard, and the decomposing brush just beyond the fence had the potential to house various snakes and other critters. Well, with two small children and a nosy dog just feet away, I knew that had to get addressed. Pops and I got out the chainsaw and limb cutters and went to town. Not only did it clean up much of the crap that had been just tossed over the fence for years, but it also exposed some huge palm trees that were previously hard to see from the house. Nothing like improving your view from the porch while making the place a little safer for the kiddos, am I right? I’m sure the deer appreciate a nice clean walking path as well.

Once the laundry room gets its final coat, the next room to paint will be the playroom. We already have the supplies (including the paint) and Mommy B has already taped off the majority of the room. So once I finish in the laundry, we’ll head upstairs and begin cutting in. My hope is that we’ll be able to get cut in and I can come hard with the roller and knock it out. Our goal is to get the room painted as soon as possible so we can begin hanging up some Ringling posters and other circus memorabilia. The room has looked pretty bare since we moved in, and even though we finally have a pull-out couch for guests to use, we still want to get the room decorated for any potential visitors.

Mommy B is on her last “break” before her final quarter of school. We’re trying to get as much done around the house as we can while she’s free because once this final quarter starts, I might not be seeing her very much. For this final quarter, she has to shadow some other nurses during her already-limited “free time.” I forget how many hours she’ll have to log for these classes, but it could entail her entire day off each week as well as some hours here and there after her regular 9-hour shifts. She might even pick up some Saturday shifts so that she can have another day off during the week to shadow. Bottom line, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be much fun for the next 12 weeks… for anyone. But, the silver lining is that this is the last quarter, the last dance, the anchor leg, the final 100 meters down the home straightaway towards the finish line. Anything and everything that’s left in the tank gets used right now. The end is in sight, and she’s almost there. It’s been tough, but we’re optimistic that it’ll all be worth it when it’s over. I know a certain someone who’ll be looking for a big ol’ bottle of wine come August. And maybe a vacation to somewhere more tropical.

Kids? Oh yeah, them. Well, they’re still simultaneously testing our patience and stealing our hearts on a constant basis. The things that Alli puts together and figures out on an almost-daily basis astounds me. Even when they’re mildly gross and/or inappropriate, I still stop and think to myself, “Wow, she really thought of all that on her own?” For example, last week she randomly said “We don’t go pee-pee in the pool because it’ll turn yellow… and the pool has to stay blue.” Well, not quite the reason I would have given, but I like where you’re going with that one. A few hours later in the bathtub, she said “If you toot in the bathtub, it’ll make bubbles.” That is A) gross, and B) very true. Good observation, precious. Not all of her proclamations lately have been of the bodily-function variety, but you get my point. Grossness aside, these were statements she conjured up all on her own, without any input from anyone… she was simply stating something she figured out on her own. Hopefully not from experience with the whole peeing-in-the-pool statement… but you never know.

Aiden is fitting right in with his new classroom. Granted, he has known most (if not all) of the boys he’s in there with for a long time. But his teacher said it took him less than a week to really come out of his shell and stop playing the shy, quiet kid. We all knew better, and figured it would just be a matter of time before he started being his usual self. He’s saying more and more words these days, and if I can’t understand what he’s saying, Alli will translate for me. He still wants to do everything big sister does – if not before her, then immediately afterward. We took him to the pool a couple weeks ago and tried out some puddle jumpers that actually fit him now. Yeah, it took him about 2 minutes to figure them out and start swimming after his big sister. They are both such water babies, which is a good thing living on the coast. We haven’t taken them to the beach yet this year, but I have a feeling that might change very soon.

My brother’s wife and their two kids are coming down for the long Memorial Day weekend. Our plans basically include spending as much time outside and on my parent’s boat as possible. The weather is supposed to be gorgeous, which will be a nice change since the last time they came down it rained the whole time. I’m really hoping that Alli and her cousin Max pick up right where they left off last time, because they were absolutely adorable to watch playing together. I’m sure Aiden will try to keep up, as will his cousin Charlotte, but I’m sure that will come with time. Just gotta keep on grindin’…

Friday, May 9, 2014

It’s that time again

The time has come for Aiden to move up to the next class at school. He’s a rompin’, stompin’ terrible-two-year-old who’s ready to start playing with the bigger kids. He’s about the same size as them anyway, so why not? This week marked his last week in the “Toddler” class at school, and he’s been visiting his new classroom each afternoon to get acclimated to it. His new teacher has known Alli since she was in the infant classroom, and even though she technically never had Alli in her class, she knows all about these two troublemakers.

This move means a couple interesting changes for everyone. First, it means that instead of dropping Aiden off in the “younger kid’s” room then taking Alli down to the “bigger kid’s” room in the mornings, now I’ll be taking them both down to the same room. Since I drop them off so early, they usually gather all the kids into a couple rooms before splitting off into their individual classrooms. Since his new teacher is the one who watches that room in the mornings, she told us yesterday to just bring him down there from now on. I said, “Okay… you asked for it.” So last night we kept telling Alli how her bro was going to come with her to her room in the mornings now, and she was so excited. We have a little ritual of getting a package of crackers when we walk in the door and she’ll sit down at the table in her room and eat them before she starts playing. I told her that now she’ll get to sit with Aiden and both of them will have crackers each morning. She couldn’t wait to get to school the next day, it was so adorable. With this new class also begins the always adventurous potty training endeavor. He seems to be grasping the concept of the potty (after watching big sister so much) and tells us he’s gone after the fact, but we’re working on it.

This morning came and went exactly the way I thought it would. We got to school and instead of taking Aiden to the right, then Alli back to the left – we all turned left, grabbed a package of crackers and headed toward the “big kid room”. We made a pit stop in Alli’s classroom so she could drop off a present for her teacher (since it’s Teacher Appreciation Week) and use the potty.

We then went back to what will be Aiden’s classroom for the next year or so. Alli went flying in as usual because she knows that room well and many of her friends were already there waiting for her. Aiden was a little hesitant when we hit the doorway, so I scooped him up and gave him a big hug. Alli was already saddling up to the table getting ready to devour her crackers, and she had a seat saved for her little brother right next to her. Aiden was a little clingy at first, but once I showed him that he has his very own package of crackers and asked him if he wanted to sit next to Alli, he couldn’t get down fast enough. I opened both packages for them and naturally they both dug right in. I knelt down in between them and gave them both big kisses and hugs. I looked at Aiden and told him to have fun (and to behave) hangin’ with his big sister. I then turned to Alli and said, “Listen Al, you take care of your little bro, okay?” She looked up at me and with a mouth full of saltines replied, “Okay, Daddy.”

I got up and walked out feeling so proud of those little buggers. They haven’t exactly been a picnic lately, as Alli has been picking up a little attitude (we call it being a “Threenager”) and Aiden has been mimicking her every move in addition to becoming more independent himself. She runs around, he runs around. She whines and cries, he follows suit. I know this is completely typical (and normal) at this age, but it still tests your patience. I’ve said it a hundred times – now I know what it feels like to live with someone who’s bipolar. You say one thing wrong and it’s a total meltdown. You try to speak softly and calm them down, and it just makes things worse. Two minutes later they’re happy and laughing again. The phrase “emotional rollercoaster” has never been more appropriate in our house at the moment. So, witnessing this moment this morning was quite a lovely change of pace.

I wish I could have taken a picture of them sitting at the table together to mark the occasion, but a mental picture will have to suffice for now. Maybe I’ll get one on Monday, if I remember. The real reason I wanted to capture this moment is because I know that in a few years, it won’t be cool to hang out with your sibling. Especially your “little bro”, in Alli’s case. They looked so happy to be together even though they play together at home all the time. I’m really hoping they continue to build that strong bond that only siblings can know and feel. As for me, I have to deal with the fact that we don’t have any “babies” anymore… and I’m not liking it as much as I thought I would. Sort of.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Answer to your homework assignment

I posted a homework assignment a few weeks ago asking youse to make some daily observances. I asked you to simply observe how men are portrayed versus their female counterparts in television commercials. Well, who did their homework? Show of hands… come on, don’t be shy. Did anyone complete their assignment? I’m going to assume not many, so I’ll go ahead and give you my take on things.

Short answer:  Dumb

Long answer: Men, as a collective whole, have allowed ourselves to become the butt of just about every joke running these days. Except for the investment commercials and the ones about “building a smarter planet”, we males look pretty stupid in the media. We can’t cook, handle new technology, correctly buy a car or bathe properly… and don’t even get me started on handling children (even our own). Any commercial that is intended to be light-hearted and funny typically involves making the male look like an idiot. In the eyes of marketing agencies across the country, we men are nothing more than Homer Simpson or Al Bundy (from the Married with Children sitcom, for you young kids) – a useless, balding, overweight buffoon bumbling through life only caring about junk food, TV and beer.

And it’s not isolated to college-age frat boys who are having trouble deciding what booze their going to swizzle all weekend. It can range from elementary school boys appearing dumb in class all the way to an AT&T commercial where the father can’t quite seem to wrap his mind around wireless internet. Men, in general, have it pretty bad in the overwhelming majority of these commercials… but fathers have it the worst.

Josh Levs, of CNN, wrote an excellent article on this very issue – it’s titled, “No more dumb old dad: Changing the bumbling father stereotype.” He references a Huggies ad that aired last year that put its diapers “to the toughest test imaginable: dads, alone with their babies, in one house, for five days.” What exactly made time with dad “the toughest test imaginable?” Are we, as fathers, more distracted with watching the double-overtime thriller so as to not change our child’s diaper?

I realize that it’s only natural for comedies and sitcoms to take on dads. After years of “Leave It to Beaver” and “The Donna Reed Show”, television had evolved (and I use that term loosely) into a different animal. Inversion became the key to comedy – taking people who are typically in authority and control and making them the butt of jokes. I also understand that the majority of these portrayals are in fictional situations. However, perception is reality – and I perceive that we dads are looking pretty dumb these days.

The main issue I have with this – is that young boys who don’t understand the sarcasm and fictional nature of these commercials are going to think this is what is expected of them… and they’re going to rise only to the low bar that’s been set for them. Furthermore, it could lead young girls to have low expectation for how their future husbands will handle fatherhood. It’s no wonder so many people are waiting longer and longer to have kids. For any young single woman out there who sees these commercials and thinks this is what we men are like in general, I can see where they might want to hold off on the baby-making for a while. Heck, I wouldn’t want to have kids with someone who acted like most dads do in these commercials either.

I was going to get on my soap box and rant for a little bit, but decided against it. After all, women have been oppressed for so long that a few tongue-in-cheek commercials can’t even hold a candle to what they’ve been through. And maybe, just maybe, some of this harsh criticism isn’t so undeserved. I can’t tell you how many kids’ birthday parties I’ve been to where the mom shows up with her child (or children, most of the time) and the dad is nowhere to be found. I can somewhat understand if said parents only have one child and dad is at home getting some yard work done, but many times I see the mom show up with multiple kids, and there isn’t a helping hand in sight. When you have three kids under the age of four, maybe you should help your poor wife out a bit, yeah?

It all boils down to priorities – what are your priorities as a man? As a parent? As a father? I think the comedy behind these commercials is derived from mocking our manly priorities… they’re a metaphor for how men have historically thought about certain things. It goes back to the Huggies commercial – are these fathers going to be too preoccupied with other activities that the diapers are going to have to hold up for hours on end? Are changing poopy diapers simply not that high on our “important things to do” list?

For many, the answer is yes – which is the reason these commercials can be made in the first place. For all you dual-career parents out there: wake up, men. It’s the 21st century. Women are showing their “tougher” side by getting their butts into the workplace (and many times running the joint,) so now it’s our turn to show our “softer” side and get to parenting. You don’t just get to show up for one night of fun and expect the woman to handle everything that comes afterward – unless you already have such an agreed-upon arrangement, in which case you can disregard this whole blog post. In most cases, gone are the days of the single-income family where dad goes to work and mom stays home with the kids. If your wife is busting her butt all week long with a full-time job just like you, guess what that means? It means she’s just as tired as you at the end of the week and could use a hand. Don’t expect her to taxi the kids around all weekend while you watch football and tinker around in the garage. What’s that you say? You’ll miss getting your hands dirty? Try changing a diaper after your kid ate a whole plate of refried beans and corn the night before. Trust me, your hands will be plenty dirty after that.

I’m certainly not here claiming to be the perfect father, because as I’ve said numerous times, there is no such thing. But, I try every single day to be the best one that I can be. Mommy B and I put in (almost) the same amount of hours at work each week, which means I damn sure put in the same amount of hours with the kids as she does. But it shouldn’t be just about the amount of time you spend with your kids, it should be about the quality of the time you spend with your kids. Dads should want to go to the birthday parties at this age while your kid will still let you… because soon they won’t, and you’ll be sorry you missed your chance. Remember, we’re only “cool” for a little while – and you better take advantage while you can.

Come on, guys… don’t be the dumb-old-dad who doesn’t know how to fold his daughter’s clothes, be the fun dad that tumbles around on the play mats at the little kid’s gym. Don’t sit and watch – get up and do. It’s time to buck the stereotype, and it starts with the little things we do every day. Some may think I’m crazy saying that we all have to be some super-dad that does everything. So be it.

I just call it being…
a dad.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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In case the video doesn't show up (which it should on Google Chrome), here is a link to it:
World's Toughest Job

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We do it all for you, buddy

Frequent pursuers of This Space have read about Aiden’s sinus conditions for the past couple of months now. Well, Sunday night/Monday morning, they finally came to a head. Let me back things up a bit to paint the full picture of what the poor kid has been through recently.

About a month or so ago, Aiden started getting his usual snotty nose coupled with a raspy cough. He was also getting pretty congested at night which was making things hard for him to breathe. Naturally, when it’s hard to breathe at night, it becomes hard to sleep. When it’s hard to sleep, it keeps Mommy B and Dad-E awake. We took him to the doctor after a few rough nights and the diagnosis was springtime allergies. I always had bad sinuses and allergies as a kid, but not caused by the pollen like we have here in the south. In any case, the doctor said that not only did it appear Aiden was getting hit hard with allergies, but he also had pretty swollen tonsils and his adenoids were huge. I quickly flashed back to when I was about 4-5 years old getting Strep Throat every six weeks. It got so bad that I eventually had my tonsils and adenoids (T&A) removed around age six. In any case, they prescribed some allergy medicine that would help with his symptoms – Singulair in pill form and over-the-counter Zyrtec in liquid form. We started giving it to Aiden that night and after a few days he seemed to clear up quite a bit.

We thought we were on a roll as he was sleeping better and not looking quite as zombie-like during the day. No big circles under his eyes and almost no coughing. However, that was short-lived as two weeks ago he started to get really congested again. The doctor prescribed some Amoxicillin to break things up this time, and coupled with the allergy meds things started to slowly get better. Keep in mind that each time he has one of these “episodes”, his breathing at night sounds horrendous and it causes him to wake up and move around quite a bit. I totally get it, as I went through it as a kid too. You breathe through your nose while you sleep, and you can’t do that when it’s stuffed up. So, the only other way to go is through the mouth. Well, when your tonsils and adenoids are the size of golf balls, that makes things a little difficult. Put all those factors together, and you have a recipe for not sleeping – for anyone.

After 10 days of antibiotics, we thought we were once again in the clear. The spring allergens were dissipating and he was starting to get some halfway decent sleep (as were we). It was a Thursday, and I had just given him his very last dose of the pink stuff that morning, when his school called at 2:30pm. His teacher said that he felt warm when he woke up from his nap, so she took his temperature and it read 100.9. Needless to say, we needed to come pick him up and get him home. There had been a few cases of Pink Eye and various other illnesses in his class recently, so we weren’t all that surprised that he eventually had caught something. We started giving him some Motrin to help with the fever, but he still woke up once during the night. Luckily I was able to get some Tylenol in him and he went back to sleep.

Since you’re not allowed to bring a child back to school until they have been fever-free for 24 hours, it meant he was going to have to stay home with my mom (Tatsy) while I took Alli to school that Friday. He took an early nap that day, and even though he acted normal for the most part, he was still showing signs of a low-grade fever. Even during his naps his breathing sounded terrible… I just can’t imagine that he’s gotten any decent sleep lately. Friday night came around and again he only woke up once, but still required a visit from me and more medicine to keep him from burning up. He still “slept” pretty well the rest of the night, but it just sounded like torture to struggle that much just to breathe at night.

Saturday rolled around and Mommy B decided to take Alli and make a mini road trip to Charlotte for a friend’s kid’s birthday party. That was fine with me – it would get the girls out of the house for a bit and leave Aiden and I to deal with his illness, all the while Mommy B and Alli could get some quality friend time. Might help them recharge the batteries a little bit and score some brownie points for me – a win-win, right? Well, it was – for the most part. Aiden was great all day, but was still burning a fever. To make matters worse, he was starting to show signs of congestion by that evening. I gave him a bath and he started shaking while in the tub, so I pulled him out to get him dried off. He shivered the entire time I dried him off, so I knew his fever was still getting to him. I took him back into the bathroom, gave him some medicine, and took him into his room to get him settled down. He fell asleep on my shoulder before I had even turned the light off. So, I just walked him around for a few minutes and put him down in bed.

Even though he fell asleep early, his breathing had gotten even worse. I went into his room a couple hours later and put my phone right next to his mouth to record the horrendous sounds he was making. He literally sounded like a 60-year-old overweight man with sleep apnea. The worst part? There was nothing I could do about it. I had already elevated his mattress to give him a little incline and possibly help with the drainage, but it wasn’t helping much. While it was heart-breaking to listen to, at least he was sleeping… as well as he could have been. Again, he only woke up once and I was able to get him back to sleep with some medicine and a few swigs of milk. His fever was still present, but the drugs seemed to be helping stave it off a bit.

He woke up Sunday morning sounding so congested that he was coughing constantly. He was still running a low-grade fever, and now had snot pouring out his nose. I had had enough, it was time something be done about this, once and for all. I called the doctor’s office and said he needed to be seen that day. Mommy B came home from her road trip with Alli and we decided since she was the nurse, she would take Aiden to the doctor and demand more intense treatment as well as an ENT consult. As much as I wanted to go with the poor kid to vent my frustrations that I had built up over the past few weeks, I decided to not let my emotions get too involved and stay home with Alli to keep her away from other sick kids. Mommy B returned home that afternoon with a prescription for a different antibiotic and a breathing treatment. We tried the breathing treatment that afternoon without much success. How many almost-two-year olds enjoy wearing a mask with stuff coming out of it over their face? I basically had to pin Aiden to my chest while Mommy B held the mask in place. It didn’t go very well, obviously. The day rolled on and even though he wasn’t really eating much, he was still chugging milk and other liquids like a champ. Since he was still running a low-grade fever, he couldn’t go to school in the morning – so once again my mom was on duty to come over before I took Alli to school. We were able to get his first dose of the new medicine and some more Motrin in him before bed, and he fell asleep around his usual time. Mommy B and I got things settled around the house and ready for the week – finally getting ourselves in bed around 10pm or so.

Around 11:30pm that night, he woke up moaning like he typically does when he’s uncomfortable. Since I was barely asleep by then anyway, I headed upstairs to get him settled. Little did I know that’s when the real fun would begin.

I picked him up and at first his temperature felt great, so I just rested him on my shoulder and walked him around for a bit. However, after a couple of minutes, he started shivering again like he had the night before. I covered him up to try and get him to feel warm again, but I also noticed that his body temperature was rising by the minute. I instantly flashed back to when I was younger – this was his fever breaking! Even though you’re shaking and “feel” cold, it’s your body’s way of getting rid of the excess heat caused by the virus. I remembered this process, and as much as it sucked to go through, it meant the end to the suffering was near. Or so I thought.

Mommy B and I took turns walking him around, trying to calm him down as I’m sure this was a new and scary experience for him. We even tried giving him something to drink in hopes that would help cool him down. He promptly threw it back up on his pajamas and Mommy B’s shirt. My turn to take over while Mommy B changed. I tried peeling his clothes off so get rid of the vomit but to also let his body cool, but no dice… he wasn’t having it. I put my hand on his back and it felt like I could literally fry an egg on it. Although with as much as he was shaking it would have probably turned out
scrambled. Mommy B called her work and told them she wouldn’t be coming in that morning so she could stay home with him. I then called my mom and told her she was off duty in the morning. We walked him around a little while longer, but things weren’t improving at all. Mommy B decided we should take his temperature to see what he was up to. She told me to put the high-tech thermometer she had under his armpit, and add a degree to whatever the readout said – this would be closer to his internal temperature. The thermometer read 103.5F, which meant his internal temperature was actually closer to 104.5F.

Holy crap.

Ok, time for more drastic measures – we needed to take this poor kid to the Emergency Room and get him looked at. I quickly called my mom and she rushed over to the house so Alli could stay asleep while we took Aiden in. We tossed some more clothes in a bag (in case he threw up on us again, which he did) and got in the car. Even though it was illegal as hell, I reclined the front seat and held Aiden to my chest while Mommy B drove. I was as scared as a parent could be the entire drive – what if they find out something is seriously wrong with him? What if it’s some crazy virus they’ve never seen before? What was causing all these symptoms? What if it was nothing and they sent us home with some Tylenol and a huge bill for an ER visit? Well, at that point I didn’t care – I just wanted
someone to help my poor child. He’s not even two for crying out loud. There it was, 12:30am on a Monday morning and we were taking Aiden in for his first Emergency Room visit.

By the time we had gotten downtown to Mommy B’s work, he had stopped shaking from the fever. The nurse at the front desk took us back and checked the little man out – his temperature was down to 100.5F, which was a good sign. However, he was still coughing quite a bit and you could still hear his labored breathing. We were finally taken back to see the doctor and they checked a few more things out. Good news was that after they dug some earwax out (which, news to me, apparently hurts like hell) and examined him a bit more, they didn’t see any serious signs of infection. They had given him some more Motrin when we first checked in, so that was also helping with his temperature. The doctor felt that a couple things were at play which were making him so miserable – chances are he was getting over some type of virus which had caused his fever and since he’s so prone to sinus congestion that we was likely just clogged up again. He said he wouldn’t bother doing a viral test because honestly it wouldn’t matter in his course of treatment. He explained a couple other things to us and I must say it was quite a refreshing experience. He was very candid and transparent, just gave us the facts and was clear with his directions. I can understand glossing over things so you don’t scare a child, but I’m a grown man with children of my own, you don’t need to sugar-coat things for me. Just to make sure we left no option unexplored, I let the doctor listen to the recording of Aiden sleeping the night before. I almost had to pick his jaw up off the floor… he literally could not believe that he was hearing a small child making those noises while sleeping. He said, “Uh yeah, I’m calling the ENT doctor you have your consult with right now and labeling this case as URGENT. Oh, and one other thing, we can treat his stuffy nose with Afrin for a little relief. You can buy it at Walmart on the way home.”

Say what?
Afrin? The same stuff I used as a kid? You can use that stuff on a two-year-old? How come nobody told me this earlier? Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln*, I would have been stock-piling that stuff months ago! They happen to have some there, so they shot it up his nose and within minutes he was already breathing better. By the time they processed our paperwork and we were able to leave (2:30am), he was like a new man. His fever had gone down a ton, and he was actually able to breathe like a normal person again – hot damn. He even was signing along to the radio in the car on the way home, so I knew he felt better already. It was strange holding him and not hearing him mouth-breathe like a Neanderthal.

*Sorry, Toy Story 2 (Aiden’s favorite) reference.

So we probably really didn’t need to make an ER visit to get Aiden feeling better, but it did accomplish two things we might not have otherwise: 1) We were informed that not only could we start giving him a higher dose of Motrin/Tylenol because he weighs more, but we could also give him Afrin if he was
really stuffed up. And, 2) we were able to get bumped to the top of the ENT consult list thanks to the ER doc’s phone call. In fact, we meet with the best ENT that MUSC has on Wednesday to get Aiden checked out. As much as any parent wants to avoid surgery, I know how much better my life was after they removed my tonsils and adenoids. I’m not saying it will be a magic bullet for a two-year old, but I think every little bit will help at this point.

There it was, 3am Monday morning and we had made it back to the house with a (mostly) bouncing baby boy who didn’t really act like he wanted to go back to bed. Luckily, Mommy B took him up to his room and he promptly fell asleep on her shoulder. She put him in bed and he slept for over 5 more hours – and it was probably the
best sleep he’s had in weeks. I relieved Tatsy of her duties so she could go home and get some sleep, even though Alli had slept through the whole ordeal not even aware that we had been gone. I finally closed my eyes around 3:30am, just in time for my alarm to go off at 6. I figured since Mommy B was already staying home with Aiden, there was no point in me burning my time off too. I rolled out of bed and dragged my exhausted butt to work by about 7:30am. And just to make sure I was good and tired, I did what I do every Monday… I ran 4 miles during my lunch break.

I’m not nuts – I’m
dedicated. I try to keep myself in peak shape to take on whatever challenges these little ones throw at me. We do it all for you, kiddos.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A new chapter – part II

Saturday: Rise and shine around 6:30am thanks to the little alarm clock named Aiden next to my bed. My parents whipped up some breakfast for everyone so we could be energized for the full day of moving we had in front of us. We decided to leave Scarlett at their house for the day so we could freely move things in without having to make sure she didn’t run off. Mommy B and I took the kids over to the new house to get to work and so they could begin getting transitioned to the new place. A neighborhood friend from the old ‘hood came over to help me move the rest of the larger items in. It only took us an hour or so, but that was just to get the truck emptied. Mommy B and I knew we were still going to have to shuffle things around and decide how certain furniture was going to be arranged but at least the heavy lifting was over with. Good thing too, my back was screaming at me already. Around lunch time, my parents came over to help with the kids while we got things organized and put away. It was quite the feeling driving that empty truck back to the U-haul office and tossing them the keys. We had successfully moved our entire lives from one place to another, and even though it wasn’t that far of a move, it still felt like mission accomplished.

On Friday, we had noticed that the HVAC system hadn’t really done a great job of warming the place throughout the day. We just chalked it up to the fact that we had had the door open all day moving stuff in, so didn’t think too much of it. But just to be safe, I called the company that had done the last servicing for the inspection since they would be familiar with it and booked an appointment to come take a look at it on Monday. In the meantime, we had set the system when we left on Friday night figuring that when we came back on Saturday morning the house would be the correct temperature. Yeah, not so much. That’s when I knew something was amiss and it had to get looked at. Luckily the temperature that weekend had been mild, so we weren’t all that uncomfortable.

Aunt Bacon and her boyfriend “Cap” came over to help out as well, even helping with the kids and putting beds together for us while we moved stuff around. Alli skipped her nap that day since she had a birthday party to go to, but Mr. Light Switch went down without a fight and zonked out for a couple hours. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening getting as much put away and set up as we could before everyone passed out. Oh, and my parents brought Scarlett over so she could begin sniffing her new home. It had been a long, busy day but at least we knew everything was moved in and that was a great feeling. As night #1 in our new house began, we were tired yet excited to slowly begin making it our home.

Sunday: We spent the day doing more of the same – unpacking and organizing. Mommy B and I joked about how many times we would ask each other, “Hey, do you know where such-and-such is?” The answer was always, “No.” One of the big issues that we quickly realized we needed to address ASAP was the lack of shelf space in the master bedroom closet. After filling up the few wire shelves that were in place, we still had half our clothes sitting on the floor in our bedroom… some still in trash bags since we ran out of boxes towards the end of packing. Pops came over that day and took measurements on the closet and began drafting up some designs for us so we could maximize the available space. The first floor has 9’ ceilings; you’d think the builder would have installed more than one row of shelving. Anyway, we tried to make the most of it and took plenty of breaks to play with the kids that day. We figured that since they were in a new house and all it probably wouldn’t go over well if we ignored them completely while we unpacked. It took some wrangling that night, but we eventually got them both in bed and had our first Sunday Night Family Dinner at the new house with the rest of the family. We thanked them all for everything they had done for us during this transition, and hopefully they understood how much of a burden they had lifted in taking care of the kids for us while we packed, closed, moved, and unpacked. I honestly don’t know if we could have done it without their help. Well, we could have… but I’m confident that a nervous breakdown for each of us would have likely resulted.

Monday: Aiden didn’t sleep well the night before, so we decided it was time to take him to the doctor. Having an RN for a mom basically means that our kids don’t go to the doctor unless they are on the verge of death. Well, Aiden wasn’t that bad, but he was having major sinus issues (just like his daddy used to) and couldn’t sleep well because he couldn’t breathe well. Thankfully my mom was able to take him to the doctor while I took Alli to school and went to back to work. The doctor agreed that he was having some bad allergies (typical for this time of year) and gave us a few things to relieve his suffering.

Also coming to the house that day was AT&T to reconnect our cable and Internet as well as the HVAC guys to see what was going on with our heat problems. The issue we were experiencing was that the thermostat on the first floor would kick on to get heat flowing down there, but I could feel it coming out of the vents on the second floor. This resulted in not enough heat getting to the first floor to turn the thermostat off and the second floor feeling like a sauna. Everything went well as far as we were told – the AT&T service was connected and the HVAC guy said he reset the damper motor in the air handler so we could get proper air flow to each floor of the house. He only charged us a $65 “diagnostic fee” since they had been out to service the house a few weeks ago. Well, when I got home from work that evening, I noticed that things felt better in the house, but not quite where they should have been. But again, we dealt with it and luckily the temperature outside cooperated.

Tuesday: I called the after-hours line for the HVAC service and told them that whatever they “fixed” on Monday hadn’t worked and that we were still having issues. They informed me that they could have a guy come out that day and I agreed since Mommy B was off work. After spending a couple of hours in the attic fiddling with the system, this new “technician” informed us that the damper was broken and the damper motor was worn out from improper functioning – both of which should be replaced to the tune of $350 plus labor. Well, I had already put a call into our agent informing him of this whole issue and telling him that this should have been something that was addressed prior to closing and should be the seller’s expense. He agreed (somewhat) and informed us that we needed to get a claim in with American Home Shield warranty that we had purchased at closing before any work be done. Unfortunately the service that had now been out to the house three times was not included in their list of preferred vendors, so yet someone else was going to have to come take a look at the system. Furthermore, the rep at AHS had informed our agent that technically dampers are not covered by their warranty. To make matters worse, the seller’s agent was telling our agent that since this was a “new issue” with the HVAC system, the seller’s wouldn’t be liable for compensation. Well, our agent raised holy hell (finally) and pulled some strings and was able to schedule an appointment the next day with a trusted vendor he had used in the past who was covered by the warranty. He advised that we hold off on the financial part of the issue and just focus on getting things properly diagnosed and fixed.

Wednesday: I get a call from the new HVAC guy, Chris, about noon stating he had talked to our agent and would be out at the house sometime that day. He warned that since it was late notice he would have to try to squeeze us in sometime, but at that point I didn’t care if it was 10 o’clock at night, I just wanted the darn thing fixed. So about 6pm Chris rolls in and I give him the rundown. He also looked over the stack of invoices from the previous “technicians” to see what they had done already. He said, “Bottom line, we’ll figure it out. And if we do in fact have to get replacement parts, I’ll force something so that y’all are comfortable in the meantime.” After about 20 minutes of adjustments and another 5-10 minutes of testing, he had the system running completely normal. He informed us that the damper and the motor were just fine and didn’t need to be replaced. In fact, he said the damper motor was brand new and appeared to have been just replaced a few months ago. The issue was that the damper motor hadn’t been set properly – likely the result of a bunk installation – and the previous technicians were just telling us things to get into our wallets. This was causing the damper to not open and close properly which was resulting in the incorrect heat distribution to the entire house… no new parts needed, at all. I gladly paid him the $75 co-pay for the warranty service fee, and thanked him not only for his proper diagnosis and repair work, but also his honesty and transparency. We all slept much better that night with proper temperatures in both floors of the house – what a concept, right?

Thursday: I gathered up my invoices and work summaries and scanned them all to send to my agent. I informed him that I was now out $140 (and a few nights of decent sleep thanks to the kids being uncomfortable in the second-floor sauna) to correct an issue that should have been addressed by the original HVAC company before the house was sold. It was their shoddy installation that botched this job in the first place, and I would not be paying them a penny for their “work” and I didn’t appreciate them trying to take me to the cleaners saying things needed to be replaced when they clearly did not. He promptly contacted the seller’s agent and the previous HVAC company and informed them of our findings. The seller’s agent finally got back to us and said that the company would not charge us the $65 and that the seller’s would cut us a check for the $75 co-pay. Well thank god for small favors. Things finally seemed like they were falling into place for us.

Friday: Pops came over that night after the kids were in bed and showed us the master bedroom closet designs he had drawn up for us during the week. I had removed the clothes and ripped the wire shelves off the walls already, so he did a quick spackle job to patch the holes. That way we could hit the ground running the next morning with sanding, painting, and installing the new shelving.

Weekend: I spent the majority of both days in the closet with Pops, doing what we do best – remodeling. I sanded while he nailed, then I cut in while he rolled the paint. At the end of the first day I felt like I had been in a casino – no windows, only artificial light; people only popping in every couple of hours to see if you need anything; and before you know it, it’s night time and you haven’t seen daylight at all. We wrapped things up on Sunday morning and I slapped a little more paint on a few areas that needed it. We let it dry for a few hours while taking the kids out to play in the nice weather. It was tiring work, but well worth it in the end. By Sunday night, Mommy B and I were finally able to get all of our clothes off the bedroom floor and into a closet we could only have dreamed of. There is plenty of hanging space now and more shelf space than we know what to do with. Except for a shoe rack (or two) that we’re debating installing next, we’ve utilized just about every square inch of space in that closet. Not only is the closet itself a sight to behold, but we finally have a bedroom floor again! This means that we can begin organizing our room to look the way we want it – rearranging furniture and hanging things on the wall. And who knows, maybe even a little more painting could be in order. I’m very happy how things turned out, and I know it will become a major selling point of the house years from now when we decide to move again. But now that things are looking up after a rocky start to the week, I’m hoping that doesn’t happen for many, many years.