I started this blog with the intent of being able to provide words of wisdom one day to my sons. I did this as a way to chronicle their lives and share things that I have seen as their Dad and also things that I went through. And as a Dad, I would be wrong if I didn’t include one of my favorite musicians, Drew Kennedy and a new song that he just released for his sons called Miles to Go.

‘Cause you got miles to go
When it’s easy between the lines and the curves
To turn the beautiful scenery of this life to a blur
So don’t let your ride run out of road
You’ve got miles to go

To my sons, I hope that you take these words to heart and realize how much there is to do and see and take chances. Take chances when you you get a chance, and more importantly, trust your gut feeling. Life isn’t always about staying safe, you have to take a chance every now and then. Sometimes, you will fail. Sometimes, you will succeed. But, this much I can promise you, if you don’t try, you will never truly live.

 

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I was a little more than shocked to get a letter on Saturday morning that my son, Boy B, got most improved for the first quarter of the school year! This is a kid that has struggled in school. Not academically, but he has had issues controlling his emotions and being able to sit still in class.

To say that we have had a struggle with him would be an understatement. The struggles are just as real for him as they are for my wife and I. But, with all of the therapy, both the OT and child psychology are really starting to pay off.

When I got the letter, I was able to make it through the first sentence reading it to him. I was in tears and I rarely cry. But I was just so proud of my son. He has really embraced all that we have asked of him and not once has he asked why? Not once has he asked why does he go to OT and see a psychologist. Not once has he asked why does he take medicine every morning to help him focus?

So as my wife read the letter to him, he just beamed from ear to ear. And his brother, who got an award last year at school, was right there giving him a high five and cheering him on. It was really a great family moment.

So, in a time where most improved would be considered a small accomplishment, I view it as a proud moment. To see that look of accomplishment in my son’s face and for him to see how proud we were of him, is just priceless.

ADHD is not something to be afraid of or ashamed of, but my son, as have we, embraced who is and will continue to get him the help that he needs to overcome his struggles. But today, we celebrate the moment and his ability to overcome something that once caused him to struggle.

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It is time. It is time to say goodby to my grandfather, who for years was there for me. He believed in me, when I didn’t see it in myself.

When it was time for me to move to Texas, my father asked my grandfather if I was ready and he said “it is time.” And it was.

You see, with my grandfather, time is a key component to his life. He was a farmer so his crops were time sensitive. He and I talked on Saturdays and that too was time sensitive.

But his death, I feel was also based on time. He and I talked every Saturday, for the last 20 plus years. And 2 Saturdays ago, we talked and he could barely get more than two sentences out, but his words were meaningful:

Take care of your children and your wife. Love them. And I will miss our Saturday talks. I love you.

And just like that, the conversation was over. It was over, because not only was he tired and was struggling to get those words out, but it was over, because it was time. He said what he needed to say and I replied with a simple Yes Sir and I love you.

Time is a precious thing. It is based on time and moments, but also hugs and love. These past few days, there has been a lot of hugs and love and in a few moments, time seemed to stand still.

When the US Army Color Guard played Taps, I cried. When they folded the flag and saluted my father, who is a retired US Full Bird Col., I really cried. Because it really hit me, that my grandfather was gone.

Yes, I saw him and took the boys to the visitation and they both went to see the body with my wife, while I stayed in the hallway. But in the sense of time, the visitation stood still. I saw friends and family that I have not seen in years. I saw friends that my dad had in both his professional and military life that I have not seen in years.

And as each person sought me out, I realized, that not only in that moment in time, did life seem ok. But more importantly, that in that moment of time, life was ok, because I was still close to my grandfather.

Time is important, both here in the present and also in the past.

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Saying goodbye for me is really hard and often times feel uncomfortable in doing so. Last night, I got the call from my father, letting me know that my grandfather, his father, has passed away.

My grandfather was an amazing man or as I sum it up to most, he is my hero! He lived through the great depression. Fought in World War II. Bought and farmed land in North Carolina. He never knew a stranger. Always had a smile and would flirt with a cute woman in a minute.

I grew up living about an hour from him, so it was normal to go to the farm on a Saturday morning with my Dad and he and my grandfather and I would grab cane poles and go fishing on the pond on the farm. Or, they would let me drive to the hog pins and feed them, while they would laugh at me. We would laugh and carry on whenever the three of us together.

After I got the call, I felt numb. I teared up, not for the death of my grandfather, but because I would never be able to pickup the call and talk with him again. I wouldn’t be able to hear his voice and even on his worst day, that he would give me comfort or advice. He is and forever will be my hero.

My grandfather gave me advice about life, told me what he expected from me after he was gone and life’s little secrets to pass on to my kids. Today I lost my hero and saying goodbye is really hard.

My kids will be the ones that lose out the most, as they didn’t have the privilege of knowing my grandfather that well, as we live 7 hours plus from him. But as I prepare to tell them that their great grandfather has died, I keep coming back to a single Bible verse:

This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.Psalm 118:24

This represents my father in so many ways and has provided comfort. Some of my fondest memories of my grandfather were at church. Seeing him smile, sing and more importantly pray in church. So as I morn the lost of my grandfather, there is a voice in the back of my head saying, remember that word rejoice.  My grandfather would not a single person to be upset over his death, but instead he would want us all to rejoice.

I know that the next several days will be hard. I know that telling my son’s that my grandfather has passed away will be hard, for me to say and for them to see me upset. But, the reality is simple, we all live and we all Die. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

But, it is how we live our lives, that determines our future and how those rejoice our lives. And in the next several days, we will be rejoincing the life of my grandfather. A man that lived a simple life, but an amazing life. Goodbye my hero. Sleep easy tonight.

 

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This has been a tough week. My grandfather is actively dying, work has been work and the boys have been ok. But it has been a tough week.

The boys have had a better week at both school and at home. They have done well with their nightly reading and math homework. But Boy B’s teacher has been out on medical leave and so his schedule has been a little off. I will say though that his medication has really helped with the last two weeks transitions with a substitute teacher.

As for my grandfather. The family has called in hospice to help provide comfort for him in his final days. And even though I have not been able to make the 7 hour drive south to say goodbye, I have been able to talk with him several times and we laugh, we cry and we say goodbye again. The call this past weekend was tough, because he was barely able to say “I love you”, but he did and I cried.

The older that I get, the more I realize what is really important. Work has been tough this week, for a lot of reasons. And maybe the things from my life have taken priority and/or overshadowed everything else, I have tried to keep composure. But life, is sometimes hard to control all aspects without a little struggle.

As I type this, one of the boys is watching the Houston Astros playoff baseball game (Go STROS!) and the other is in the bath. I just chilled a bottle of wine, because sometimes a good glass of wine is all that you need to help today be a little better. And as I get the boys ready for bed, I am quietly reflecting on the day and week.

This has been a tough week! But life can be that way more times than not. Sometimes, it is hard to step back and think about what is important because of life. And then there are days like today, that make me really realize what is truly important. So, with that, Go Stros! And I’ll put the boys to bed tonight, enjoy a good glass of wine and I’ll celebrate the final days of my grandfathers life.

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For some reason, the thought of pulling teeth for the boys just never crossed my mind., until last night. I knew that Boy A had a really loose tooth, but I just figured that he would lose it like he did the first one, eating. But no.

So after dinner, he kept complaining that his tooth was really loose and he was in pain when eating. And the more he complained, the more my fair of pulling teeth became a reality. Just the thought scared me to death! I just keep thinking that I was going to hurt him and he was going to be in pain.

I tried to do what I thought was right, ignore the situation, offer him an apple and another slice of pizza, but that did not work at all. He chewed out of the other side of his mouth, which defeated the purpose. Then he asked for dental floss and I just could only imagine what crazy ideas that were going on through his mind, like ting it and slamming a door. Or tying it it and throwing something down the steps.

So as he was coming up with other ideas of how to get it out, I started texting fellow dads and they all said that they struggled the first time too, which did make me feel better. But, they all said to just pull it. Just grab a Kleenex and take it out. As I paced the hallway and kitchen, I got everything that I needed and just really need a few minutes to calm myself down and reassure myself that I was not going to hurt my son.

I had a glass of salt water on the counter to stop the bleeding, if there was any. A damped paper towel and a glass of wine for me. I had my son close his eyes and I took the Kleenex and felt how loose his tooth was and if he had eaten the apple, it would have come out, I am pretty sure. But I slide my thumb down and slowly lift his tooth out. I spent more time walking and pacing than it did to pull the tooth.

The tooth fairy came. He is happy. I was glad that my first experience of pulling teeth was not awful, but definitely never wracking. There are a lot of YouTube videos that are out there, so take a watch and see what works for you. The only real advice that I have, is to remain calm.

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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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This is strictly a homework rant about how first graders should not be doing homework.

Everything, I spend 10 – 15 minutes working with the boys on learning how to read and work on words that they might not know or missed during school today. And by this, I mean that the take turns, get in my lap and they read and I assist with words that they might not know.

Each and every night, minus Wednesday because on Wednesday we also do Math homework too. So the homework rant is this, why? Why are first graders reading at school and then coming home and doing more and reading more? Kids need to play. They need to be outside, running and getting dirty.

Instead, we take turns reading. The boys ask me questions. They relate the books that they are reading to their lives, like why they still have training wheels on their bikes? That lead to how bikes are balanced with training wheels and how  they have an expressed interest in taking the training wheels off.

Then they asked about pizza, because they each read a book tonight about making pizza.  As they read, they asked why certain topics were on some pizzas. Why some didn’t like bacon on their pizza and for that question, I just had no answer for them.

My point is this, as the boys grow older, they are going to be doing more and more homework. But today as I type out my homework rant, I am so grateful that they want to climb in my lap, put their heads on me and read to me.

Bring on homework, until they get into common core math, then I will have to pay a tutor.

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And just like that, the boys hopped on the bus and were off to their first day of school. No problems. No trying to reassure them of their day, nothing. But in reality, I was hoping that they were going to reassure me about their day.

The first is over, the boys have started first grade, so they know the teachers, were to go, etc. And as the bus pulled away from the stop, my wife and I looked at each other in amazement. Not that we had any doubt that the boys were not going to do great, but because they are growing up so fast.

So as my wife and I walked home and got ready to head over to a local restaurant for breakfast, we talked about the summer, we talked about the day for the boys and realized how much they are growing up.

The summer is officially over! School has started back and we are looking forward to seeing the boys grow up even more.

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