I have held off saying a lot about Hurricane Harvey and I did so for a reason, I didn’t know what to say? Was I going to discuss the disaster? Was I going to discuss the loss of lives and devastation? The political rhetoric that has been thrown around? Or, was I going to talk about how I was personally effected?

Honestly, I still don’t know what to say? This will probably be a rambling post, but that is ok. I think often times, we struggle to find the right words to say in the aftermath of this disaster.

I am from North Carolina and at the age of 21, I packed up my jeep and moved just north of Houston to a town called The Woodlands. There, my life changed for the better. It changed because I went out with what I could put in my jeep and my best friend John, who was already living there, we got an apartment and I became who I am today. Houston is the 4th largest city in the US, so for me, I had never lived near that large of a city.

My first week of living in The Woodlands, I drove to downtown Houston to see the sights and to get use to the traffic and to the area, but what really happened was I fell in love with the city. I feel in love the area, the people, the culture, etc. And had I not accepted, at what I thought was a great job on the east coast, I would still be there today. I to this day, love Houston and more importantly, the great state of Texas.

The food and the music to this day have been completed changed because of my time there.   BBQ has an entire different feel for me today than it did in North Carolina because of Brisket and smoked sausage.  Tex-Mex and Mexican food, I don’t even know where to begin on this, but I think that Lyle Lovett said it best and is words that I still live by to this day:

Never eat Mexican food east of Mississippi or north of Dallas. – Lyle Lovett from a Southern Living article.

And the music is just amazing. From seeing King George Strait, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green, Randy Rogers Band and Wade Bowen and the list just go on and on.  To this day, when these artists are in town, I try like hell to get back, because for a few hours, I get to relive my time in Texas.

Texas is a part of me. It made me who I am today. It shaped me into the father, husband, man etc that I am today. It forced me to make new friends and leap outside of my comfort zone. I had to abandon things and views that I thought were one way to realize that it was really another. I changed into a better person, because of the years that I lived in Texas and for that, I am forever grateful.

So as I sat and watched the storm unfold, I was in constant contact with my family and friends that live there. I saw through their photos via text and on Facebook what was going on. And then the days after, I saw media photos of places where I worked or drove to and from work or the damage that my church had. But through it all, my friends and family are safe. The church can be repaired from the flooding, again. And Texas will rebuild, hell if you have ever spent anytime in Texas, you’ll know that not only will the city and residents rebuild, they will rebuild even bigger than before. That is the Texas way. That is Texas Pride!

As I listened to a friend the other night discuss the political tone and how the GOP failed to pass legislation when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, I couldn’t help be thinking that he was missing something. Regardless of the political views, the residents were rallying around each other and helping one another in a way that can not be described. People that did not know each other and regardless of color, political views, religious views were there helping to save the lives of their fellow Texans.

Hurricane Harvey hits really close to home for me. I have a good friend that was working the entire time as a fireman. I have friends that are in law enforcement there. I have close family there. I have friends that have serious medical conditions that were unsure about treatments that they were going to have. And through it all, you see Houston Texans J.J. Watt started a fund with a goal of $200,00o to be raised to help the residents of Houston and at this time, it has raised over $16 million.

Houston is Houston Strong and that will not change. Hurricane Harvey will not destroy the great state of Texas or the city of Houston and surrounding cities for that matter. If you are able to give, please do so, as it will take years to rebuild. And there is a reason why the phrase “Don’t Mess With Texas” is so true. Texans have rallied in a time of disaster to help those in need. So as I type this out, my heart and prayers are with those today and always, in a city and state that I truly love.

God Bless Texas!

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The summer is almost over and it is going to be back to school next week. But first, we are going to have a blow out this weekend of fun!

Due to a heavy rain today, it will be a low key day inside today and today starts college football season.  And let’s be honest, football season is really important. But the kids are actually doing a little prep of food for their first week back and they are helping me plan their meals.

Last year, we let the boys buy their food the second half of the school year because let’s be honest, it was easier. But now because we have an official diagnosis of ADHD for my son, we really wanted to try and change up his diet a little.  There has been a overload of reading of diets and things that can help with ADHD, so why not give it a try? And besides, it will be cheaper for us long term in terms of buying food and I can ensure that he will be getting a good lunch.

As I have been told by numerous people, especially teachers, the jump from Kindergarten to First Grade is big in terms of reading more and doing more math, I wanted the boys to have a low key weekend. So, FUN is in on the agenda. We are watching UNC play today on tv and then doing a little grilling. Tomorrow we are going to the Zoo and then on Monday, maybe a movie in the morning and then grilling out again. A good nights sleep and then off to school on Monday.

Summer is almost over and the beginning of a new school year is coming up within just a few days. The boys have had a blast going to camps and learning how to swim. But now, it is time for fun to shift to learning.

 

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We are wrapping up Week 1 of ADHD for my son and so far, not so bad. And by that, I really don’t know?

I didn’t know what to expect when we started the medication for him to be honest? I really expected him to oppose the medication and he has not at all.  Granted, his physician told us to give it to him in a spoonful of ice cream for breakfast, so who would really complain about that? But, I really don’t know the true effects of the medication either?

We have talked with his daycare provider on a daily and sometimes multiple times a day to get a gauge on his behavior and the two things that have stood out are:

  1. There hasn’t been a HUGE change. Meaning, he is a little more focused, but he is still getting frustrated.
  2. The medication is not lasting as long as we had hoped.

For the first item about still getting frustrated. This is kind of a no brainier, as he is still dealing with anxiety related issues. The hope is that over time those will be less of an issue because he is more focused. There are 2 quick thoughts to this: 1) the dosage is to low and 2) he is bored at daycare. And I personally think that it is a combination of the two. He loves going to the daycare, most days, but he and his brother are older by several years in most cases over the other kids.

As for the medication not lasting very long, most of the medications for ADHD claim to last up to 12 hours. Honestly, we are seeing 8 hours or less. And based off of the other indications, i.e. anxiety, wearing off around 3:00 pm we are going to call his physician tomorrow about upping his mediation by 5 mg.

This is all a trial and error. It is a trial and error for my wife and I as much as it is for my son and his brother. At this point, we are just trying to find the right combination for my son before he starts back to school, as this year, he will be required to complete homework assignments and today, he would not be able to focus on them long enough to complete them.

Tomorrow, we find out if his physician agrees that he needs to be moved up to a higher dosage, because school starts in just a few days.

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Well and there you go, 4 little letters this weekend, ADHD and now we have a diagnosis.

The last year has not been the easiest for us. We have have Boy B in Occupational Therapy and also seeing a child psychologist. And through all of these things, which he has grown a lot, we got the results of his psychological assessment.

Was I shocked, not really? I was actually more shocked when I shared with some family members the results and they asked if I was ok with the results? The results are what they are. Heck, I really was expecting him to fall on the autism spectrum. And besides, I’m not so sure that I did not and probably still do have characteristics of ADHD. So, no, I am not shocked.

But, I am learning at the speed of light some things that we will be doing differently. We have an appointment to his pediatrician this week, but we will also be drastically changing his diet. And just by a very quick Google search for ADHD diet for Children yielded a large list of ideas. Overall, it is interesting to discover how much nutrition plays a direct role into ADHD into the balance of the medication.

And yes, we have decided that, assuming that the Pediatrician wants to go the route of medication, which I am assuming they will, we are open to it. Are there pros and cons to medicine yes. And if you don’t agree with our decision, do I care what your opinion is? No! It is an opinion for a reason and I respectfully ask that you keep yours to yourself. We are making the best decision that we can for our son and we have sought out the advice of multiple people, both in the education and medical fields and they all agreed that medication was appropriate.

I had struggled for a long time about if we were faced with this decision, what would we do? I have struggled with an unknown factor, i.e. will my son’s personality be different? I have struggled with the fact of knowing that my son CAN NOT control his hyperactivity! I have seen it too many times. I have watched him struggle to focus. I have talked with his teachers and they have shared the same things that we were seeing at home.

I love my son. I love both of them equally. But my wife and I have to make the best decision for them, as they can not make the decision for themselves. And our hope and prayer, is that we are able to get the right balance of medication, diet and continued therapies so assist him, so that he is not on medication long term, but will be on it as long as he needs it.

The decision to put him on medication was not an easy one nor was it one that we took lightly. But, we are doing what will help him going forward, especially in school, to make him successful.

This is our new life. This is my son’s new life. He has a diagnosis. We finally know what we are dealing with, so that we can better deal with it. My sons are the most important thing to me and I will do what I can to give them the best that I can, even when it is going to be something like medication.

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Such an easy thing to say, I am sorry, yet it is something that I think that a lot of father’s fail to say to their kids.

This past week, I had dealt with some issues at work, my wife’s car accident (that in and of it’s self will be a future blog post), knowing that my grandfather is dying, etc. and I’m not going to lie, I really struggled. I really struggled doing and saying the right thing because I wasn’t able to rest and I wasn’t able to deal, I was just going through motions.

So this week as I was putting the boys to bed, I was exhausted and I had zero patience for any messing around. And of course, that was the night that as I put the boys to bed, Boy A was ready to struggle. He whined, he cried, he fussed, etc and I had no patience for it and I got on him. I raised my voice and told him to knock it off.

So, why do I write this about say I am sorry? Easy, two weeks ago, my father for one of the first times told me that he was sorry. The words “I am sorry” came out of his mouth because I said that in my 41 years of my life, he had only cried in front of me 5 times and that he had told me that it was wrong to cry. But this time, he had a different story to tell. This time, he admitted, it was ok to cry. He said it was ok to say the words “I am sorry”.

My wife came up that night, as she could tell that I was loosing control and losing it quickly. She came up, laid down with our son, Boy A and got him to sleep. As she was rubbing his back, she was rubbing mine, as she knew that EVERYTHING from the previous weeks was coming to a head for me. But she also realized that I needed a break.

As I gathered my things after both boys were asleep that night, I said the following words “I am sorry” in my son’s ears. But that wasn’t enough. See, that was enough for me to go to sleep, but that was not enough for me to make amends. Growing, I was on the other side. I was the one going to sleep upset. I was the one going to bed being yelled at.  I said what I needed to, knowing that in the morning, I needed to say more.

This is what separates me from my Dad and it is not a negative against him at all, but is more what I have realized that I needed to do as a father, learning from his mistakes. So as my son, Boy A, woke up this morning, I grabbed him and hugged him as tightly as I could and whispered that I was sorry and we hugged.

I was wrong. I was wrong on so many differently levels. I was wrong because I took out on my son, my frustrations of life because he didn’t goto bed as quickly as I thought he should.  And the key phrase there is “I thought”. I thought that he should goto bed as soon as we were done our nightly routine. I thought that he should goto bed as soon as I was ready to goto bed.

But what I realized was, he wasn’t ready and I was wrong because I didn’t give him the opportunity to decompress for the day. I did not ask all the questions that he had for the day or all the different questions he had for the day. And what I realized as I left their room, was that was how I felt as a kid.

AND I WAS WRONG!

No, I WAS SORRY!

I was sorry for every making my sons feel the way that I did. I was sorry for dismissing their questions and needs, because I was tired and frustrated and wanted a glass of wine. I was wrong! But I made it right. I explained to both of them where I was wrong in my ways. I explained that I should have had more patience. And I encouraged both of them that when it is time for them to be father’s, to be a better Dad, than I am to them.

Does that mean that they will not fail? Nope. They will. Does that mean that they will not have to use the phrase, “I am sorry?” Nope, because, they will.  But if they can learn from me, if they can learn from my mistakes, if they can see that I tried to be the best dad that I could for him and still had short comings, then it gives them something better to strive for.

So to my sons, I am sorry. I have tried to be the best Dad that I can and will continue to do so. But, I will make mistakes. I will fail. But, I will say I am sorry, because, I will be.

 

 

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Relaxation is a very important thing, but it is something that I really struggle with. And by struggle, I mean I am awful at it.

Sitting on the boat this week while I am on vacation, it hit me like a ton of bricks, I don’t know how to relax. The entire time, I kept thinking about work, what my week was going to look like, what the bills were going to look like for the week, etc. BUT, there is a great thing about this, I realized what I was doing and I figured out who I could talk with to help me.

I also know that it is going to take me time to figure out a long term solution/strategy to overcome this struggle in my life or as I more frequently refer to it as a challenge. For me, I can usually go and cook and that will help clear my mind, but when I am out of the office, the texts and emails come in just the same as if I were in the office and due to the nature of my job, it is hard to really disengage from work.

So, as I type this at the kitchen table, the day before we leave to head back home, I have already cringed at looking at my schedule for next week and I have about 30 minutes free each day. Only 30 minutes. My friend that is a psychologist asked the question if it was even sometimes worth me going away and I laughed and didn’t respond. See, that is how hard it is for me to relax because I know that when I am out of the office, I am mentally still in the office.

Going forward, I think that I’m going to try something new to help me learn some new relaxation techniques. For starters, I am going to start taking a week and a half to two weeks off and I’m going to block the first week back from any meetings that are not priorities. I have already delegated a lot of my work to my team, so that they can handle a lot of it. Are these things going to help, I don’t know but I certainly hope so and I think that it is at least a good first step.

I have also talked with my friend that is a psychologist and we are going to setup regular calls so that we can discuss more techniques to help me relax even more. Because the more that I can do now to relax, the better of a father that I will be. Instead of giving my sons my 100% undivided attention this week, I thought about work way too much. And shame on me, because my sons and my wife deserve that from me. So, life lesson here kids, learn these things at an early age. Learn how to relax and prioritize and learn that it is your responsibility to be the best father that you can to your kids, because they will not be little kids very long.

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Life lessons for my sons when it comes to car buying and honestly when the boys are older all of these car buying lessons could be mute.

  1. Do your research. If time permits, read as much as you can about the car that you want and the safety features.
  2. Take your time. Again, if time permits, you don’t have to have to purchase a car as soon as you walk on the lot. As a matter of fact, I would argue that you do the majority of the negotiations prior to going for a test drive.
  3. Salesmen will say anything to get you into the car. End of the month sales. First of the month sales. Have to make the deal now. It is all crap. Salesmen will make the deal if they are good and want to close a deal.
  4. Trust your gut feeling. When it comes to negotiating, be fair in your ask, but trust your gut feeling too.
  5. Walk away. ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS be prepared to walk away.

This past week, I spent I don’t know how much time negotiating a new vehicle for my wife. It had roughly two weeks since her accident and she was getting antsy to find a replacement. So, she gave me her criteria of must have features and the make and models that she wanted and off I went. I did a few TrueCar searches, both through TrueCar.com and also through USAA Buying Services and I just could not find exactly what I wanted at first. I have always heard about buying brand new cars, so I really wanted to find a low mileage used SUV.

I did my research, as quickly as I could and found 2 options that were both affordable, low mileage and the exact features that my wife wanted. We tested drove both vehicles and liked the both, were not 100% in love with either, but they would have worked, but because we were in a rental, I didn’t exactly know how much time we had with it.

So this past Wednesday, I started negotiating for a 2017 Kia Sorento LX with 9 miles on it. The price, I felt was a little high, but was whiling to trade that because of the mileage, but I was ready to make the deal but the dealer would not negotiate. My Plan B had only 6,000 miles and was $1,500 less than the brand new car and they too were not negotiating either. I was ready to walk away.

Thursday night, I felt defeated. My wife was upset because she didn’t get the SUV that she wanted and she was really frustrated with me. Not mad, but disappointed. But, I kept saying over and over again, that these were not the right ones. Something just didn’t feel right and I just kept thinking that the price was too high.

I walked away from the first deal because of a gut feeling and I am so glad that I did. The salesman tried to do what he could and we were literally $350 apart and they didn’t want to come down in price and I was already above what I really wanted to pay. And I’m really glad that I did walk away from it, because after not sleeping on Thursday night, as I got settled in on Friday morning I got an email from another deal with the exact same model we wanted, more safety features than the other two, the color that we wanted and best of all, the exact price that I wanted. Literally. It was exactly where I thought the SUV should be priced and my wife was happy.

I emailed the salesman that reached out to me a few questions, confirmed that it only had 6, that is right, 6 miles on it and the features and I was sold. I knew how the SUV drove and rode and with the other factors, this was going to be one of the easiest sales this guy had to make. And it was. We drove it for 4 miles and closed the deal. No negotiations were needed, as they got to where I wanted in 1 single email.

So, guys here is the moral of the story, trust your gut. There are other cars, it just sometimes takes a little while.

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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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Not sure what is going on with Boy B, but in the last week, there has been major regression in his behavior? Nothing has really changed, but something is going on.

I’ve noticed that once again, little things are setting him off. He is constantly talking about how anxious he is and how frustrated he is getting. I have analyzed his schedule and the surrounding factors and nothing makes sense. The only variable, was that my wife was gone for 6 days and that is the only change in his schedule.

His eating and sleeping has been on schedule, day care, etc have to. But this week has been rough. He has been out of sorts and has been hard to deal with at day care. These are the moments of frustration for me as a parent. These are the times that I try analyze the thought process of a child and their thinking. And the reality is, there is no logic.

As a parent, especially those of us with children that have issues or whatever label you chose to place on them, it is hard. I feel that I have to always adapt and that I have to always analyze his moods and behaviors.  I really feel that we started to turn the corner and getting things on track. But he has really had a major step back with this regression with his behavior.

Prior to my son starting OT and seeing a child psychologist, he would scream and yell and jump up and down when he did not get his way. He would loose control in a second. As we started working on certain things, specifically fine motor skills in OT and he was on a routine with the child psychologist, things got better. We say immediate results and transformations.

So, when things get off course like this past week, it really makes it hard and then you add on top of that, my wife was in a serious car accident this week as well.  Life has been hard and parenting is hard work too and sometimes it just doesn’t all make sense.  But I really hope that we can get to the bottom of this regression and turn it around because with everything else going on, I really hope to get it together.

 

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Perspective is the word of the day. And let me frame it up in a different way, often times we look at things in one way, but in reality, when we step back, we have a different point of view or way that we look at something. Perspective!

Yesterday before walking into a meeting, my wife called to let me know that she was heading to pickup the kids and just left the office. Maybe, 15-20 minutes later, my phone rang, I just had a feeling that this was not going to be good. I knew that it was rainy. I knew that the road that she was traveling on is congested. I just had a bad feeling and I was right.

So as I hurried out of the office and on the way to where my wife was on the side of the road, because she had been rear ended, every possible thought that I could have had, I did. I knew that she was ok and not hurt, I knew that she was upset and I knew that her van was more than likely totaled. But here comes that moment of perspective, cars can be replaced, people can not. Our boys were not with her, they would have been hurt and possibly pretty badly.

After dealing with some emotional components to this, i.e. my wife’s mother was killed exactly 50 miles north of where we stood on the side of the road. Looking at what was the back windshield and seeing all of the glass shattered throughout the back. Seeing how the front of the van was pushed in, because the force of the impact of where my wife was rear ended and then being pushed about 2 car links into the car in front of her and the damage that was done.

Waiting for my wife to be checked out last night for either a concussion or whiplash. Seeing how she was moving slowly and already getting sore and tense. Making the call to USAA last night to start the claims process. Waking up to a 7:30 call from the car rental, asking what time we would arrive. Realizing this morning, that we had paid about 6 months off of the car loan and that we were at about a year and 8 months before it being paid off and then I was going to get something new and then realizing, I wasn’t.

Perspective is when thinking logically through each and every one of those things and knowing that the days/weeks and maybe month ahead will be stressful. Knowing that we now have to buy a new car and that really wasn’t in the budget, at all. Life doesn’t always work the way that we have planned. But, it could have been a lot worse. Perspective. Perspective sometimes takes a little while, maybe even days before it is realized, but I am just thankful and grateful.

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