Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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On the Eve of Independence

August 15, 2012

I have found myself saying, “I can’t believe how fast time has gone” more and more these past five years of being a parent. Almost to the point where I know I am annoying other people because I am annoying myself. But the truth is, it has gone fast. Tomorrow my first child… my little girl… my sweetie… is going to kindergarten.

Addi has given me the greatest gift I could have ever been given, the opportunity to be a father to a daughter. I’ve had to learn patience, how to remove a “piggy holder” without pulling hair, change a diaper, cry and not feel unmanly, love deeper than I ever have, and to understand and embrace change.

It is that last one that gets us all. It hits us deep. Our little ones aren’t so little. They aren’t so dependent. They are growing up and in a fast way.

It all hit me tonight. Maybe I internalized it, maybe I tried to avoid it, but it is here. As a parent none of us are really prepared, how could you? Until you have been through 12 weeks of sleep deprivation, spit up, mustard poop, crying (from all involved), when does the belly button fall off, and any other first time parent stresses, as a civilization we would have died off long ago if this thing came with a pre-test.

Those first 12 weeks of her life seem so distant now. She has changed, I have changed, our family has changed, our lives have changed.

Addi, I know you’ll do well, not just in kindergarten, but in life. Your sense of humor, your compassion, your competitiveness, your kind heart, your smile, will all serve you well. I have had the privilege of seeing you grow as a helpless infant into a classy and fabulous five year old who has helped her old man understand the importance and priority of things in life. You have given me an even greater love and respect for my parents, your mother, your brother, my sister, our entire family and friends, and that what we do in life means nothing, if we aren’t living for something greater than our own self.

When you get on the steps of that bus tomorrow and we wave as you head off on your next journey, don’t forget the thousands of amazing steps we have already taken in your first five years together. I only wish with every step you take, I could hold your hand, because it is so damn hard to let go.

I’m proud of you. I adore you. I love you Addi.
Dad

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We are…losing grasp on what is important

November 10, 2011

After all the events that transpired since the weekend and then the 10:00 news conference last night, I am, like many, saddened.

But not like most die-hard Penn State fans. Not like the ones who are crying foul that their beloved head coach has been treated so poorly by administration, media, and some fans; that he himself has faced a criminal act. No I am sad that people are placing a higher value on the game of football and a coach, than the true criminals who hurt and abused countless little boys in University facilities.

How can anyone lose sight that the real issue here isn’t an NCAA violation, it is the violation and vile acts against innocent children? Sure, I am bitter. I spent 35 years cheering for a man and program that up until last week I would have defended like my own. And the weight of feeling cheated and let down is crushing.

I can see why people can’t let go and acknowledge this was indeed the right thing to do. In a world that seems to get more violent, disgraceful, disgusting, and selfish every day; there was a man whose values rose above those acts; a man who single-handedly changed a game, a city, a University, and even a culture.

And it just that reason why I feel no sympathy or sadness for Joe. Had he truly been the man above, he would have used that idol status that so many in central PA and around the country anointed him, to do the right thing. To go above and beyond a protocol, to tirelessly defend those who can’t defend themselves, and selflessly, not selfishly put himself out there at all costs.

Everyone makes mistakes and ironically the biggest mistake this icon made, might be the best lesson he inadvertently taught. As a society, we all fail, when we sit idly by and hope someone else will make things better. All 6’5 and 230 of Mike McQueary could have been used to stop a stomach churning event and helped a little boy who God only knows how much he has suffered and sadly will probably always continue to do so. Instead he cowardly left, he left the facilities. He talked to his father and then to Joe and they left it up to someone else, who then left that repulsive excuse for a human, back into their facilities until last week.

I hope as a society we all take back responsibility, accountability, and respect in ourselves so that we feel empowered as individuals to make a difference and do the right thing, especially when those decisions and actions impact the world’s greatest gift, our children.

I’m not sure if I will watch this weekend. I so badly want to move on and cheer loudly for the 125 young men who want nothing more than to escape on the football field and do what they love. They have done nothing wrong. However, at this time cheering for a game seems wrong and almost inappropriate in light of what has happened. I’d rather cheer knowing that those guilty will never see the light of day again and for any victims who have overcome this. It is their strength, comfort, and peace I pray for.

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I haven’t had a bad day.

February 17, 2011

As funny as that sounds I need to remind myself of just that. I haven’t had a bad day.

My wife recently shared another sad story from her work at Riley. I’ll save the details except that another preventable and unthinkable act was taken and the result is a child who will live the rest of their life hooked up to a machine. The child was never really loved and will never experience the most simple of activities going forward. Sliding down a slide, walking in a park, and even giving a hug. I never faced such adversity as a child. I have a loving family who has supported, encouraged, loved, and fostered my growth even as an adult.

I haven’t had a bad day.

One of our close friends is a facing a battle with their child that I can only image tests every fiber of their being and every thread of their core. I don’t know how they do it and I only hope that one day I can be that strong. Honestly, I actually hope I never have to be that strong. My kids are laughing, my kids are growing, my kids are healthy and my kids are loved.

I haven’t had a bad day.

I recently read another story about a young person who committed suicide as a result of bullying. Some of these kids are harassed because of their weight, sexual orientation, religion, beliefs, and sometimes simply because they are individuals in a world of conformists. What a shame. What a shame in 2011 we can’t embrace the differences that all make us unique and work together towards common goals that only help humanity, not tear down what makes us human. I’ve never had to feel like I couldn’t be myself. I’ve had family and friends who have put their love and trust in me and in return helped me know my place in the world.

I haven’t had a bad day.

I am guilty, just like the rest of us that I don’t reflect on what I have enough. And it is unfortunate that sometimes we don’t think of these simple blessings and graces until something bad happens. Sure I’ve had my share of pain, but never have I had to go alone and never have I had no where to turn.

I haven’t had a bad day.

 

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What the hell happened to my life?

October 28, 2010

It hit me the other day as I was watching my three-year old daughter at dance class, where in the world did my life go?

I seriously felt like I woke up from a coma, aged to 34, had two kids, a house, pets, and was at least happy to not be balding. I remember my mom telling me to wait until I had kids and then I’d know what it was like to have life move fast. It’s not that I didn’t believe her, it’s just I didn’t fully understand the truth in that statement.

One of my favorite movies is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and there are so many great lines in that movie, yet one has always stuck out to me. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

In college I was able to realize this. My last semester I remember taking time in my fraternity to just watch the crowds, the parties, the pranks, the environment, and all of the things that I knew I had taken for granted and let it soak in. I could slow things down enough to go from participant to spectator and back again. Even at my wedding eight years ago I slipped to the back corner of the reception hall and simply viewed my life in action. I was able to recognize I would never be with that same group of people, at the same time, in the same moment, ever again.

And now, I can’t seem to find the time in the heat of the moment to slow things down. When I write, it obviously gives me time to reflect. When I get to work after dropping the kids off it is on my mind. But in general, I have let Ferris down. In a fast-paced life that only seems to be further accelerating I haven’t been taking a look around.

So maybe I should heed the advice of John Keating (Robin Williams) in another great 80’s movie, Dead Poets Society, “But If you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? Carpe — hear it? — Carpe, Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

 

Maybe instead of looking around I just need to lean in and listen…

 

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One person can make a difference.

October 22, 2010

I try not to be skeptical, however I am quick to break everything down to a realistic and rationale perspective. So when I hear people talk about how one person can change the world, I tend to struggle with that comment.

I was asked recently by a fellow BSU Delt, Steve Roseman, to sit on the board of The Paul Fangman Jr Foundation that he started over the summer. Steve’s grandfather is the inspiration and Mr. Fangman lived his life stressing the importance of giving your time and talents to others and how precious family and children are to the world.

Mr. Fangman was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 37 yet still raised seven children, managed a successful family business, and loved his time with his 43 grand and great grandchildren. He lived his life with dignity, grace, and a helping hand.

Steve is quick to point out that he only remembers seeing his grandfather walk 10 times and the daily fight he had battling MS. Steve was so inspired by his grandfather’s courage and love of life that he has used it as a springboard to help others.

The foundation was founded on teaching young people to live and maintain healthy lifestyles and to help families manage the cost and the stress of finding adequate health care for loved ones suffering with MS and cancer.

In five short months he has already raised a considerable amount of money, is in three schools working with children, and is lining up more donors, more schools, and more ways to impact people’s lives.

I realized on the way home from our meeting, that when people say one person can change the world, what I was lacking was definition around the word “world.” Steve is living proof. Watching him speak about his work, the children, his grandfather, and the conviction he has to serve others is inspiring. The world in which Steve is creating for himself and others he is helping is making a difference.

In a time when people tend to hold their hands out for help, Steve is holding his out to help. So yes, I do believe one person can make a difference; he has already made a difference in mine.

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After suffering the big sister pinch of death as a younger brother… it all worked out ok

October 1, 2010

My sister is celebrating a big milestone birthday today. I won’t mention which one, but let’s just say any age is now the new 30. And honestly age doesn’t really matter anyway. If you stay current, love life, keep a positive mental attitude, and take care of yourself, they’ll be many years ahead of getting carded when buying a nice bottle of Pinot.

I always struggle with what to get her. She is an architect, has amazingly cool style, and lives out East where trends come and go before we see them here in the ol’ Midwest. I didn’t want to get one of those yard signs, you know, “A little birdy told me your thirty” or “Lordy Lordy guess who is 40?”, I bet I know, the person who lives in the house with the stupid yard sign and 40 foot inflatable purple gorilla.

Instead I thought I’d focus on some of the things my big sis taught me in life.

Be yourself
Gina has never afraid to be an individual. From how you dress, to your belief system, to what kind of car you drive. If it feels right go with it. Only you can truly be the judge.

Be musical
I can’t sing and when I do there is a slight seismic shift in the Earth’s crust. Gina is a great musician and appreciates the joy of music. I grew up with her influences of the 80s; Edie Brickell, Paul Simon, Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, and on and on. That background really set the foundation for me moving forward. I might not like country all that much, but I certainly appreciate the songwriting, passion, and effort put into sharing yourself through music.

Be passionate
My sister has many passions. Cooking, baking, architecture, family, friends, music, and really anything that requires creativity, cool, and a unique perspective. A couple of years ago she made a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. It wasn’t the fact it was one of the best desserts I had ever had, it was the care and connection with what she was doing that was impressive.

Be tough
My sister is 5’7 and five and a half years older than me. I didn’t grow until I was in high school. Do the math, she always seemed to be a foot taller through half of my life. Sure I was stronger, but she had a pinch that made the Vulcan Nerve Pinch feel like a day at the spa. She found a way to quickly get me to stop whatever annoyance I was causing. She was tough by being smart. Which leads me to…

Always be learning
I might be a better athlete (although even there I’m not sure), but one thing I am 100% certain, is that I am not match from an intellectual standpoint with my sister. And she is not just book smart, but understanding the bigger picture and going for it. What happens when work slows down with the economy? She studies, learns, applies, and receives new designations, licenses, and certifications to put her ahead when things pick back up. Too bad more people and companies didn’t follow suit.

So Happy Birthday Gina. We may be half a country a part but the memories, lessons, appreciation, and love is never far from my heart.

Happy Birthday and I love you!

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5 things that have changed since I had kids

September 29, 2010

Sometimes it is hard for me to believe how much your life changes after you have children. Honestly there are too many to count, but here are some that stick out to me.

Abercrombie now makes me feel dirty…and old
Ok, I used to DJ a little. I love music and sometimes I still like cranking something up in my car, sans kids of course. But I can’t even hear myself think because how loud the music is in the store, not that I actually go into the store. Hell, all Abercrombie is to me any more is an annoyance on my way down to Gymboree. This is proof to me that teens can hear high pitch noises that adults can’t. How else do they communicate? Also, I’m over the 682-foot nudie dude photos pasted throughout the store. Pull up your pants, I mean your underwear, homie.

I wish I could remember what I did with my memory
OK, I’m guilty. I don’t know how many times I get to work and wonder how I got there. This was funny in college when I was drinking and couldn’t figure out why I had someone’s shoes on in the morning or how I was now the owner of a 1991 Second Place Water Polo trophy, but now, sober, at 34? I’m sure this has nothing to do with having two kids under three and random sleeping and eating patterns. Ok, sorry, I lost my train of thought, what are we talking about?

I can’t listen to rap any more
I have a daughter. I have a 2 Live Crew CD. I have a daughter. I USED to have a 2 Live Crew CD.

Friday Night Lights…are out by 10:30
I used to think it was funny to watch my parents fall asleep watching TV as I was headed out for the evening. Wow, I joined the club a lot sooner than I thought I would.

I know the BRAT diet
Diarrhea used to be a great excuse to miss class, work, or any other event that outweighed the embarrassment for falsely telling someone you had the quick-step, Big D, or whatever you call it. Now the D word is something more serious, so serious the world created an acronym to alleviate the condition. And to think, the first time I heard it I thought it stood for Be Right At The-toliet.

So how has your life changed?