Family

At the age of 41, almost 42, never did the phrase “I need to do yoga” ever cross my mind as something that I would be saying. Somewhere along the way of life, I realized that my knees would not hold up enough for me to be a runner anymore.

Yoga has become a great way to be a stress reliever from work and life, but also gives me a chance to workout. I’ve gained more flexibility in the last several weeks, than I had in years of going to the gym.

My wife and I had decided to get back into working out, but we not only had different goals, but we had different preferences of what we used to work out with. She went with Beachbody and that is great, it works for her, but it didn’t work for me. I went with DDP Yoga, which challenged me and I was able to relate to the injuries that some of the athletes had, my wife could not get with it.

The outcome, we are both working out daily, tracking our progress and our goals. And more importantly, we are determined. We are determined to live healthier lifestyles, which in turn, teaches the boys to be healthier. As I told a co-worker today, I didn’t put on 20 lbs of extra weight overnight, so it is going to take a lot of extra work to get it off too.

But what I’m learning, is that I’m it isn’t just yoga that is helping, it is working on meal planning and ensuring that the entire family is eating healthier as well. So, as I sit on the sofa, the boys are asleep, I’m working on meals for the next two weeks and planning out my workout schedule.

Who knew that yoga could be fun?

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Heroes don’t wear capes and masks, instead they wear uniforms and business suits and dresses, and overalls. Heroes are everyday normal humans that do extraordinary things on a daily basis.

Teachers, doctors, famers, fire fighters, police officers, soliders and the list goes on and on, these are true heroes. They put their lives on the line daily or they do something for the better of the world. And more importantly, they do amazing things with little to no fan fare or rarely a thank you.

Today, as I type this, my grandfather, who is one of my heroes, is laying in a hospital bed and is coming to the end of his life. He fought in World War II, he was a farmer, he was a father and grandfather, brother, uncle, etc. But more importantly, he contributed to society in different ways and made everyone that came in contact with him a better person.

He is always quick with a joke or a smile and he has never known a stranger in his life. Even when he is down or not feeling well, he is doing everything he can to make someone else’s day better. Through out the last several months as his health has steadily declined, he never once complained. He never once asked for pity or for someone to feel bad for him. Instead, he offers advice, he tells a joke and he makes others ok with were he is in his life and in knowing what the future holds.

My grandfather has lived a great life. He lived within his means and built up a legacy for his entire family and has been a rock for us all. And as we come to the end of his life, I have struggled with making sure that I have asked all of the questions that I wanted to know. I have wanted to ensure that he is comfortable and ready to leave this world, because when I get the call, though it will be a sad moment, he will no longer be struggling.

So as we watch what is going on in the world today, I reflect more on what lessons of life I have learned from my grandfather, because he is a hero that wore a farmer’s hat and drove a tractor.

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This past Friday, I took the day off from work to be a chaperone on my sons school field trip. Is this how I would normally want to spend a day off? Nope. But what a great day!

The boys and I walked over 5 miles that morning at the fair and visited every single exhibit with farm animals that they had. We laughed. We joked. And most importantly, we had a lot of fun.

At some point in time during our trip, one of the boys asked if my father ever went on a field trip. One thing that I have realized is that there are parts of my childhood that my kids do not need. Will it serve them any purpose in knowing that my father didn’t spend a lot of time with me? Do they need to know that he put work before me?

I just smiled and pointed out that a cow had just pooped and the boys went running and laughing. But it got me thinking while I was walking around the fair and looking at the other chaperones and I was one of the only Dads that was there. I understand it, it is hard to take off of work. I had to cancel 4 meetings in order to go on the field trip, but it was important for me to be there. My son’s need to know that they are my priority!

All Dad’s and future Dad’s, spend everyday as if it was your last. Give your children your undivided attention and it is not always easy to do, but try. Put the phone down and listen. Read at night to your children. TV can wait and so can responding to the emails that are sitting in your inbox.

As I watched my boys interact with their classmates and show their engagement with the animals and asking questions, I thought about the previous year and how much they had grown. I realized that I will never get today back. And in a few years, the boys will not want me to go on a field trip with them. So for today, right now, I will be glad to take off every chance that I can to spend time with my sons. I will be glad to be the only Dad going with their kids.

And more importantly, I want to make sure that my sons know that I have and will always make them a priority.

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I do not admit very often that I cried, but today I did and do. Today, I feel that I just told my grandfather goodbye and that I loved him for the last time.

My grandfather, who is 91, has been really struggled for the last few months, since the heart attack that he had back in May. And let’s just say I think that he would had rather gone out of this world than endure what he has since, as being confined to a chair isn’t how he wanted to live.

He is a proud man, who served this country at the age of 22 and went off to Germany to fight in WWII. When he and his brother returned from the war, they purchased a farm in North Carolina and for 40 years plus, that was what put food on the table and provided a livelihood for the family.

He didn’t live a life with the nicest things, but what he had he treasured and talking with people, that is what treasured the most. My grandfather and I had a standing weekly Saturday call at 1pm and it didn’t matter where I was in the world, we had that call. He would tell me about farming or how my grandmother was doing and I would describe what I was looking at if I was traveling.

You see, my grandfather really didn’t travel. In fact, his first and only flight, was to come and see my sons and myself a year ago. I had just always assumed that he flew to Germany for the war, but in fact, he took a boat ride from a port, which ironically enough, was not far from where I live today. But while my grandfather was here for that trip a year ago, we talked about his flight and how he flirted with the flight attendants and it was at that point, he made 2 really important observations about flying:

  1. That he had spent his entire life on the farm looking up at the bottoms of the clouds, but never could imagine the view that he got to see while looking down at the tops of them.
  2. At some point during the flight, he looked at my father, his son and smiled and said “I’m halfway to heaven and I’m that much closer to seeing your mom again.”

Wow! I have flown hundreds of times and not once, not once did I every have that insight. Not once did I think about where I grew up in North Carolina and standing on a baseball field and looking up at the clouds and think about one day spending who knows how many hours flying above the clouds?

And as for the part about my grandmother, you see she had Alzheimer’s for 12 years and my grandfather made the decision to be her primary care giver while she was at home. I will never know all that he did for her and how much abuse he took as the last few years, she became combative, but what I do know, is that he loved that woman and still does to this day and is a wonderful example of how a marriage should work.

My grandparents meet in grade school and got married right after high school and shortly after getting married he left for the war. They had 3 children, 1 being my father, were married for 64 years and through good times and towards the end, it was pretty bad, the lived and loved and worked together. They went to a little white church and that was an important life lesson that not only where the kids taught about, but the grandparents too. To this day, if I walked into their 10 pew church, I could point out exactly where we sat.

I learned a lot from my grandfather, who to drive a truck and a tractor, how to fish, how to laugh and probably one thing that I’ll never forget, is how to treat others. In Eastern North Carolina, I promise you, the number of people that my grandfather the majority were not white. Honestly, the only white people working were my family.

So today, I just had this tugging at my heart and as I sat on the sofa alone and my sons were upstairs playing, I picked up the phone and gave him a call. We didn’t talk very long, maybe 10 minutes as the Congestive Heart Failure and fluid build up is causing him to cough a lot when he talks. But as we talked and I could tell he needed a break he said the following too me “son, I want you to always be there for your family. Teach your sons the important things in life, like going to church, to always love one another and to always laugh.” And as he finished, we both were crying uncontrollably, we just said I love you.

After hanging up, I just sat in tears on the sofa and I cried. I cried for the loss of a great man, that I know the time is near. I cried for joy, in knowing that he will see my grandmother again and probably very soon. I cried, because a man who gave his all for this country, our family and gave unconditional love, will be greatly missed. He showed me the important things in life and shared may stories with me that I will be able to share with my sons when they ask about him. And even though they are old enough now to know him, because we live 6 hours away, they only get to see him 2 times a year.

So tonight as I reflect on the call and the calls that my grandfather and I have had, I am honored to have known and to have loved such an amazing guy. He taught me so much and he will be so greatly missed. Now, I just wait for the call from my dad, which I am sure going to be soon….

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Unconditional Love can be defined as the following from dictionary.com

affection with no limits or conditions; complete love

And the older that I get, the more that I get to experience that type of love from my children and it just blows me away. Last night, I was tired. I had been up since 4 a.m. and had not slept well. I was exhausted and had been cooking, cleaning, watched a basketball game and by 9 p.m. I was asleep on the sofa.

And in one of my not so finer moments, one of the boys came trotting downstairs and I got upset. He should have been asleep over an hour and a half before. I was frustrated. I was tired. I was upset and most importantly, I was WRONG! I was wrong in my behavior and my actions, but something happened, after I put my son back to bed, even though I was hard on him, he asked me to hold his hand.

I never knew the love of a child and how no matter what, they will love you with a pure and innocent unconditional love. They will hold your hand and want to feel safe, but they will also show you, me, us as parents, that it is ok. Last night, I learned a very important lesson, that no matter what, my children will love me. They will be there when I need them, just as I am there when they need me. They will hug me or hold my hand when I have a bad day. But they will also teach me a lesson when I need on too.

It seems as though I am never truly shocked by what my kids do or what they will say. Sure, there are things that I wish that they would do differently and there are times that I have to get on them, as they need to know right from wrong. But, they too are teaching me that when I do something wrong, they are right there to let me know that they are ok or that everything will be fine.

I am truly blessed. I am blessed with two amazing twin boys that I love to the moon and back. I am blessed to have a wonderful wife, that when I need a swift kick in the butt to get me refocused on being a better parent, she is more than willing to kick me. But I am blessed to have two sons, that love me no matter what and they show me what unconditional love, truly is.

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Failure is a word that I have used several times today to describe how I felt today. And yes, maybe failure is a strong word, but that is how I feel. I feel that I have failed my sons in someway, that I haven’t been able to help them as much as I should maybe, because that is the only explanation I have when both boys had bad days at school yesterday.

I don’t know if it is the adjustment back to school schedules from the Thanksgiving break or what, but Monday was great for the boys, but Tuesday, not so much. Boy A’s teacher emailed us last night letting us know that he didn’t finish his work and that he kicked a chair because he was frustrated and threw a pencil. THREW A PENCIL! Seriously? At 5? Not acceptable.

So that was one kid, Boy B got upset because a guest speaker came in and it completely threw his day off. Stomped his feet. Argued with his teacher. And it was just not a good day. The teacher called us 5 minutes after I walked in and filled us in on his day. Again, not acceptable, granted, there is a specific reason that we are dealing with as to why he behaved that way, but now we have to figure out a way to get him the help that he needs to help control his temper and his actions.

Today, I feel like a failure and that I have failed them with providing them with certain guidance and tools to help control their emotions. I know that I am doing all that I can and what is best for them, but right now, in this very moment, I feel that I am a failure.

But for now, as I sit at the office, I have time to work through this feeling. On my drive home tonight, I will have time to work through this feeling of failure. But as I walk into the house tonight, I need to hug both of them and talk with them about our expectations.

There will be a few new changes to the boys after school routine going forward.
1) There will be no more tv during the week. We usually give them 30 minutes to watch tv and relax after work. No more. Or at least not until things change. 2) No more seeing friends after school.
3) 30 minutes of free time and then it will be time to do homework, cleaning up toys and preparing for dinner and then bed.

As I type this, I still feel like I have failed them, but my hope is that as I walk into the house tonight, that I am able to realize, that I am preparing them for life and giving them the tools that they need to succeed.

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Post Thanksgiving and we survived. This was the first time that we had ever hosted Thanksgiving for our family and I have to say, it all went off without any problems.

The boys did well throughout the day and didn’t really require a lot of attention and they even helped us get things ready. The boys all in all had a great day and it seems to have come and gone really quickly. And now that I’m working on cleaning up dishes and putting away chairs, I thought that I would just sit and rest for a minute.

Today, I am thankful for healthy little boys, who everyday seem to amaze me just a little bit more with their continue growth, but physically but more importantly mentally and personality wise. I am truly blessed to have two really cool kids, who in their own right, do really amazing things. Today, I am thankful that we have live in a great country, that has great military that protects our freedoms, both domestically and afar.

This post Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for so many things, to include a few minutes to type this up as the boys are downstairs playing. And now, we take today to regroup and rest and tomorrow, we head out to pick out two Christmas trees.

 

 

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9-11 Memorial

15 years later and the tragic moments of 9/11 seem just like it was yesterday.

15 years later and I still remember where I was when I heard that the planes had hit the World Trade Center.

15 years later, I still remember my professor at UNCW dismissed our class and we all hurried to get to a tv.

15 years later, I still remember getting word that my friends that worked and lived in New York, were safe and sound.

And 15 years later, I still pray for those that lost their lives that day. Today, we mourn the loss of those that died, due to no fault of their own. Today, I pray for their families and pray for comfort and peace. Today, I am very grateful that when I last visited the World Trade Center Memorial, that I didn’t have to look for the photos of my friends on the wall.

And 15 years later, time still stands still as I remember the moment that our world forever changed.
But as I was reflect back to what Mister Rogers had to say about 9/11 and I don’t know that I could have said it any better myself.

So today, 15 years after a day that we’ll never forget, let’s put aside political differences and let’s focus on what really matters today.

9-11 Memorial

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Broken heart and broken dreams and a broken soul, just a few of the feelings that I had this weekend. But I think that in the course of a few hours of feeling as though I had hit rock bottom, that I went from feeling at the lowest of the lows, I felt as though I started to be rebuilt.

After a long talk with my wife Sunday morning, for the first time in almost 8 years of marriage, I felt as though I could take away from some of the “weight” that I had to always carry on my shoulders. I felt as though we were finally on the same page of working together on fiances. I felt as though we had a solid understanding and plan.

And in a quick conversation that actually started about one thing, but transitioned into something completely different. But I guess I needed to share my feelings, my concerns, my frustrations and felt amazing after we talked. For the first time, we had a plan. For the first time, that feeling of being broken and defeated, was not there. I felt that I could take a deep breath and relax and be ok with somethings.

My point to this blog, is that I want my kids to know that they are going through times where they feel broken and defeated, but it is how you respond to that feeling that will determine the outcome. For me, I internalized everything and only shared my frustrations with 2 people and that wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair to me and it certainly wasn’t fair to my wife. I didn’t take my frustrations over the years out on her, I just did what I had to do to keep us a float.

But today, as I sit at work, I’m not stressed about money. I mean, I am and will always be to a point, but for the first time, I feel as though I have someone helping me to get us to a point where our future will be much brighter. I want to be able to send my kids to school and have them come out debt free. I want to teach my kids the importance of being fiscally responsible. And it is so easy to just want something and pay for it later. We’ve all done it and some more than others. And in by no means, are we at a point that we are in trouble financially, but we need to be smarter with our money and will be smarter with our money going forward.

We have a plan. We are going to hold each other accountable. We are going to be responsible and plan out certain purchases, instead of just doing it today and putting it on the card.

Yesterday, I felt like I was broken and destroyed. Today, I feel that there is a hope and brighter outlook. Today, will start a new day on many fronts. Financial, emotional and physical.

Stayed tuned.

 

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Looks like, after a solid week of sick kids, one having surgery and just an all out crazy week of life, it looks like things are finally on the mends.

Life is crazy enough without the outside factors. Our lives are all busy and we are all trying to juggle, but part of the juggling requires downtime too. We can only go but so hard and so fast before we fail too.

I’m really grateful that we live in an area and have access to great medical care and that the medical professionals were able to help both of my sons this past week. And as the boys and I talk about our day and at least one, if not two bike rides today, I’m just really glad that both of them are on the mends.

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