Monday, December 14, 2015

Home Alone


This past weekend we watched Home Alone with the kids. I haven't watched this movie in a long, long time, maybe high school. I did not even remember that the movie is a Christmastime flick. Our kids, the 4 year old in particular, had a blast watching. My daughter was literally jumping out of her seat during the home defense scenes. I was overjoyed just watching the kids enjoy this movie. It is really a neat age now that we can start to let them watch some non-Disney animated movies. In all a fun night.

There was a touching scene in the movie I did not remember at all, tucked in between all the comedy. The boy in the movie, Kevin, has an older neighbor that the kids are all afraid of. mostly because the older brother makes up crazy stories about him. In the movie Kevin is running from the crooks, and he hides in the local church. There is a kids choir practicing some carols, and Kevin sees the old man neighbor sitting alone. Kevin is initially afraid as the old man moves to sit next to him. As it turns out the old man is not scary at all, and he shares some personal insight with Kevin. You see the old man is in church watching his granddaughter sing, because that is the only time he can see her. The man has a strained relationship with his son, and has not spoken to his son in years. This is why he can only see his granddaughter when his son is not around. The old man says he is afraid to call his son, because maybe he will not want to talk. With the honesty only a child can have, Kevin tells the old man to just call his son. "At least then you will know if he wants to talk, and you will have nothing to be afraid of anymore." I was choked up during the scene.

There are so many people in the world that are alone. By choice or by circumstances, there is a lot of loneliness and despair in the world. Just watch the news. I want to take time to say hello to someone I do not know. Maybe the old cranky looking guy in my neighborhood, or someone I never say hello to at work. The holiday season brings up so may feelings, and you can take a few spare seconds and brighten up someone's day with a simple "hello." You can do your best to make sure someone near you is not home alone.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Ann



It's not Christmas without the love and spirit of my dear Aunt Ann, God rest her soul. I have so many pieces, handmade with shear talent and love for me as a child, hanging on me tree today. Such an artist, story teller, jokester and gem of my family. I miss her, and wish she could share a joke or two with my kids, they would love her. I wish we could share a Christmas cup of tea.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanks Giving


This morning, Thanksgiving, was a bit crazy. Jenn and I are both stuffed up, so sleep and breathing is not the best. We woke to two kids full of, let's call it spirit, because calling my kids crazy at 6 am seems a bit rough on a holiday. Oh, never mind, they were absolutely crazy people this morning. Whining, crying, fighting, not listening, you name it. It was not the optimal way to wake up. I love my kids, but we cancelled Christmas three times this morning. Note to self, that does not work. Amid a hectic start to the day, I scrolled though my many feeds, and saw everyone posting notes of thanksgiving. After a shoer, some cold medicine and a couple cups of coffee I am ready.

I have a lot of things in my life for which I can give thanks. First is my lovely wife. She shows more strength than I can muster, and is the person I am lucky to spend the rest of my life with. Jenn is also the person that gave us our beautiful family. It was a long journey to get our house to be a home for our family, and we are blessed with a beautiful family. Our kids are the soul of our family now. Ruby too.

Family I am thankful for, the Miller and McDonough sides. The best part of our family is that they do not feel like three "sides," they are just all family.  The picture above was from our wedding day, one of the best days ever, and a great day to start out life together. This little kids in the picture amaze me with how much they have grown since then. We will pass the torch on to out little kids, who I am sure will look back at photos from Uncle Ian's wedding next year, and marvel at how little they were that day.

I give thanks to my wonderful group of friends. I have old friends and new friends, but no matter how you slice it, I have some of the best friends a person could ask for.

Hopefully you have some loved ones to spend today with, hopefully you have things to be thankful for. I am overwhelmed with the amount of things I need to give thanks for. So I give thanks today for my blessing named here, and those not named.




Wednesday, November 11, 2015

You Never Know



You never know when someone is watching you. On Halloween I ran in the Dead Sprint 5K race in with a good friend. It was a race for me to shake off the rust from an injury, and fun to see all the folks who ran in costumes. I accomplished my time goal, and settled in for a post-race breakfast and pint of Guinness for some time to catch up with my buddy. While we were chatting a woman approached me and said "excuse me sir, I just wanted to say thank you." This took me back a bit, I didn't know her from a hole in the wall. She continued, "you kept me going in the race, I wanted to slow down and walk, but I could see your green jacket ahead, I just kept telling myself, 'keep up with this guy', and you helped me run a really good race." At some point I know she passed me, because I remembered her and I were thanking the police officers at all the intersections for helping out. I always try to thank the volunteers and officers during races, and she said she did too. The she added that she had just gotten off a long overnight shift at the hospital, and had no sleep. She went straight to the race, and was just hoping for the best. A little while later she came back over "hey, I placed third in the women's group for my age and got a medal! So, thanks again for the motivation!" While I did joke I would take some credit for her medal, it was so nice of her to let me know I helped without knowing.

This whole experience draws me toward the thought of how you act when no one is watching. Simply acting how you should when you are at work, in class or around friends and family is only a partial measure of who you really are. What you say you believe is just words. All these public events or statements are not the real test. The real test is when no one is looking, when you have the opportunity to compromise your beliefs, values and ideals to cut a corner, save some money, or just avoid a difficult situation. This can be as small an effort as starting the next pot of coffee at work, when you take the last cup, picking up some trash someone else left behind, or leaving an area cleaner than when you arrived. These are small examples of behavior that really set who you are and build your integrity. If you try your best when no one is looking, the times folks are looking will come that much easier, your personal integrity will shine through and be natural. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Get Grounded


Work, kids, wife, house, work, family, kids, cars, money, travel, packed calendar, friends, chapters, work kids, wife, running, eating well, birthdays, work, house issues, kids, kids growing too fast, soccer practice, family, chapters, committees, hours of sleep, friends, keeping updated, no time to relax, kids, work, wife, family, money, hobbies (ha, funny), eating, work, travel, wife, kids, family. 

These are all things I think about probably every hour of the day, if not every minute for some. There are times when you can get caught up in being too busy, too booked with not enough time in the day. These things can build up to be all encompassing f you do not take time to make sure you stay ground in what matters.

Recently, a good friend had some terrible news, the worst kind of news. He has been told by doctors he has a finite amount of time due to a terminal illness. When I heard the news, I was heartbroken, speechless, and did not know what to think. I immediately thought of how he must feel, and though of myself in that situation. I am not certain how I would handle this type of news. One thing is for certain, many of the items listed above became not so important in my mind. It was more like, family, wife, kids and health.

My friend handled the news with dignity and class. He is truly a model of a good man and Ture Gentleman. I know he must have had a lot of hard days and nights since the diagnosis, but outwardly, he is showing strength, class and helping his own family and friends along the way. He is an inspiration.

This moment was a time for me to be glad I have a friend like him. Treat every day as precious. Treat people kindly. Take nothing for granted. The job, the house, the money, the hours of sleep you get, hobbies, social media, feeling like you have no time. These things have a place in day to day life, but do they keep you grounded? I say no. It is your friends, family and faith that can help keep you grounded. Just make sure you take inventory of how far the important things have fallen down your list. Work to keep the important things high above the fray. Hit your knees and give some thanks. Work to stay grounded.

Monday, July 20, 2015

You Complete Me



This past weekend I had the joy of having the kids to myself. This does not happen often, as I travel a bit more than the wife.We had a blast for a couple days, played a lot, ate some "Dad" style meals, went to a comic book convention, swam at the Grandparents pool and watched a movie. It is very interesting to see how the kids act, or react, when both parents are not around. They both love Mommy fiercely, and often are attached to a leg of hers. They do not swarm on me as much, unless we are wrestling. After a day/night on our own, when they realized Mom was really out of town they settled in with the concept that I was their dude for the weekend. In all we had a blast, lots of laughs, very few tears, and great memories.

What I do know is that I do not know how single parents do this all the time. Every minute of every day for four days and three nights I was focused and in action with the kids, cooking, cleaning dishes, doing laundry with no break. I think I take for granted how nice it is to split the family duties up with my wife. This weekend made me appreciate two things, my kids, and my wife.

When J got home the kids freaked out, and were over excited and tired all at the same time. J was also really tired from her long weekend. The pic below summarizes how they all felt to finally be back together. I love this picture so much.


J truly completes us.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Four


Four

Four years has gone by so fast. Four years ago was one of the best most amazing days of my life, my daughter was born. I frankly do not remember the last four years, they have been a crazy and fun ride. She does not know it yet, well maybe she does, but I am fully wrapped up in this little girl. She just owns me completely. She is a little chip of my wife, so similar to her it's beautiful. Never in my life did I think I would love brushing a girls hair, especially really curly hair. But every time I do, I take care to enjoy it, for I know one day she will not want Daddy to brush her hair.Another significant event today was Jenn and my "Joe" plant, a Gardenia, popped the first flower in years today. Jenn has made it a point to take off for the kids birthdays, and spend a nice day with just them, no Dad or siblings. I do normally get a lunchtime stopover though. It's like our little Joe knew his sister would be in my office today to see the pretty flower. Lot's of crazy ups and downs when you start a family, and days like today make you appreciate them all. Love you kiddo.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Get On The Coaster


The kids went on their first little roller coaster this past weekend. It was a really fun experience. C$ couldn't wait to get on, and Dub was neutral. Once they walked inside the fenced area for the ride, lil' red freaked out, pushing away and screaming. I snapped her in the seat anyway. We definitely looked like parents of the year. The pic above is just before the ride started. One lap around the track and C$ cracked a smile, two laps, she was all in for the ride! Dub sort of never peeped, and just held on for the ride, bearing his head down.

Post ride, red did not want to get off, and Dub was sort of done. He wasn't scared, but one spin was enough for him. C$ went on two more rides on the coaster. Mostly because we had to go, and had tickets to burn, but she was ear to ear smiles. The shear childish joy on her face was on of the most sweet moments a parent can witness. To see your kid go from freak out tears, to loving the ride was really fun. Jenn and I could not stop laughing and smiling at each other. Our little angel was out there enjoying the heck out of her day, and we loved every second.

The analog is pretty clear to my life. The cliché is "life is a roller coaster." How true. As you age, you inevitably have more to lose, more you care for, more responsibilities outside your own, more people that rely on you. Stepping on and off the roller coaster becomes a much more measured step. 

I do not want to lose the ability to step onto the big bad roller coaster, step off the firm ground of comfort and certainty. I want to help other do the same. Whether you take one trip on a new ride, or want to go round and round, my kids taught a valuable lesson. Life will be up and down, and round and round. It is OK to be afraid to get on a new ride, it is OK to get off a ride you don't like. Just make sure as you choose your path, you look down at your feet and know if you have been standing too long.


Friday, April 03, 2015

One Tiny Strip At A Time


My boy received some gifts in the mail from his Aunt, Uncle and Cousin. It was fun watching a 2 yo open the wrapping paper, one tiny individual strip at a time. He was totally focused on the end goal, some new swag, but he would not tear big chunks off the packages. His sis was dying to help, she wanted to jump in and rip stuff open, but we let him work in his own methodical way. Lots of laughs.

Right now I have a lot of irons in the fire, at work, in volunteer life and at home. I can allow myself to be overwhelmed by intense activity at times. I sleep poorly, tend to be a bit edgy and have a difficult time unplugging my brain. Years of dealing with hectic projects, with intense bursts of pressure, and I still get wound up the same way. Not sure why I am wired this way, but it is something I wish I could control better. I am fairly good at checking out when I am home, but the last few weeks has been tough to say the least.

I think I need to follow the example from my son. Take my work, and peel away one strip at a time. Make some checklists, check off completed items, allow myself to see the progress, instead of the volume of tasks still ahead. Like Dub, who got to his cool new blocks eventually, I will endeavor today to peel away a few strips, and set next week up for much smoother success.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Exerpt From The Alchemist


“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”

― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Friday, February 13, 2015

Would you be my best friend?


I was listening to a Marvel Comics podcast the other day and this particular episode featured the singer of a current rock band called Yellowcard. I have heard their name, but couldn't pick a Yellowcard song out of a lineup if I had too. The singer was a pretty interesting guy, and was a fun listen, so I thought I should check out their music. While I was at the Library with my daughter over the weekend, I randomly picked up the 2012 Yellowcard album called Southern Air, a totally arbitrary pick. None of my normal deep research, over thinking and careful selection of music, just a quick grab.

Driving into work yesterday, I popped the album on, and gave it a listen. My first impression is it was squeaky clean, highly produced pop-rock from the 2000's that I really do not care for. I almost turned it off for my normal podcasts or depressing Cleveland sports radio. But this time, I said, no I will listen to the entire album once. I do believe that albums are meant to be listened to in their entirety, not picked apart as singles. As I was nearing the end, gladly in my mind, a song called Ten came on. (The lyrics to the song are included at the end of my post for reference)

This song hit me hard, I was in tears for the entire track. You see Valentine's Day is one of the worst days of the year for me. This is the day my wife gave birth to our first child Joseph, a day he didn't survive. I said hello and goodbye to my boy on Valentine's Day. The song is about the loss of a child, before you ever had the time to become friends, drive to school or watch Star Wars together in your PJ's. The song questions if you would be best friends, the song questions what would have been. Over the last five years since Joe's birth, the intense daily pain has faded away, and the joyous days I have with our two children have definitely taken over. But we still have moments from time to time, when the feelings flood back. It takes only the comment "I had a Joe moment" between my wife and I and we know the day was tough. This was one of those moments. To randomly find my way to this song, just two days before my son's birthday is a blessing. Even though sad, moments like this cause me to truly treasure my family and all the blessings. I would not be who I am today without all the experiences of my life, good and bad. I will never understand the pain parents have to go through losing a child, but talking and writing about it helps me. 

Joe is a part of my life, and no Valentine's Day will ever be the same. I miss him and wish I could have built a pillow fort together, made him laugh, read him some comics, watched Star Wars in our PJ's or just be his friend. Luckily, I have two beautiful kids to do all these things with and more. Not everyone gets that chance. And I know Joe looks over their little shoulders like a guardian angel, After all, I pray he does every single day. One day I will get to meet him, and hopefully I lived a life that he's proud to call me his best friend, and maybe tell his friends he thinks I'm cool...OK that might be a stretch.

I love you buddy.

Ten by Yellowcard

I found out in the fall. I've been gone
On the road for a year
She said,
"Honey, I've got real bad news" and
Then there were just tears
And we would never be the same again
Since then I've often wondered
What you might have been like
How it would have felt to hold you,
Would you have my eyes?
Don't you think we would've been best friends?

You would be ten and I'd be
Driving you to school
You would tell all your friends
That you thought I was cool
And you would have
All the love in my heart
Yeah, you would have
All the love in my heart

We were twenty-two years young then
Breaking rules all around
We were
Moving in that first apartment
It felt like it was never gonna end
Both so lost and crazy
We were young so we ran
Now I live in a dream where I am
Holding your little hands
I never got to meet you, my best friend

You would be ten and I'd be
Driving you to school
You would tell all your friends
That you thought I was cool
You would be out in the sun
Until it was gone
You would be watching Star Wars
With your PJ's on
And you would have
All the love in my heart
Yeah, you would have
All the love in my heart

Don't you think we would have been best friends?

You would be ten and I'd be
Driving you to school
You would tell all your friends
That you thought I was cool
You would be out in the sun
Until it was gone
You would be watching Star Wars
With your PJ's on
You would be playing tunes on
On your first guitar
You would be harmony to
Every single part of me
And you have
All the love in my heart
Yeah, you would have
All the love in my heart

Friday, January 23, 2015

Going Wholly Fast


A couple weeks ago we bought our last gallon of whole milk. This may seem fairly uneventful on the surface, but it was a big moment. Our boy hit his second birthday and he no longer drinks the whole, he will drink what the family drinks now. The cliche that your kids grow up too fast is an absolute truth. I do feel we spent so much less time on the boy, when we had just C$, we focused entirely on her. He has always had a sister to compete with. So far he adores his sister, and always wants to be around her, sometimes to her dismay. "Daddy, he's touching me!" "Daddy, he has my dolly!" "Daddy, he won't get out of my room!"

I know these moments won't stop, and as the kids age, they will grow stronger, but I want to enjoy each and every step along the way. I do not want to let the heat of the moment between these two get in the way. Every age with the kids has been the best age.

Not having to buy two types of milk is great, The kids growing up so fast is not great. The journey along the way is not one I would pass up!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Paint



New paint transforms rooms into a new living space, an dwelling and a whole new fresh perspective. I am luck my wife loves to paint. Like Christmas decorations, I do not like putting them up, but love the result. I don't like to paint, but a freshly painted room is great. 

Recently, we (she) painted a couple rooms to move the kids up a size in room space. The reaction from the kids was just awesome. My daughter kept screaming "IT'S AWESOME" and started making snow angels on the open space. Watching how much she loved the room simply because it had a new color and her stuff in there made my day. Similarly, when the boy hit his room, he was immediately the owner, he ran around inside, pointed at everything and laid down to enjoy the carpet and took it all in. The whimsy of children is one of the best things to watch.

The turn of a new year is like an opportunity to paint a room. You have an old color, dirty walls, some dents and don't like to even look at the old room. Much like ourselves, we have a couple more pounds, gotten away from eating well and have not been on our normal track for a couple months likely. Then comes the dreaded New Years Resolution! I think you should scrap the resolution, and instead do a new years re-painting. After-all you are the same person, a room is a room. Pick some new colors, and try them out. After a while you may not like the color, just try a new one, find what you like. Do not get stuck in the rut of a resolution, failing the resolution, and giving up. Maybe your new plan will last all year, maybe it won't, but just remember you are not stuck with any healthy choice you make. Maybe you will eat better, stop smoking, call friends more, read a few books, walk in the park, write in a journal this year. Just know if you do not succeed or follow through, you can just re-apply some new "paint" and move on. Who knows, maybe in 2015 you will be running around yelling "IT"S AWESOME" and really surprise yourself.