If this is your first time visiting, welcome. If you are returning again, welcome back. While this blog was originally not going to be about me or my life, it seems to be morphing to include more of myself and experiences. I will still strive to add a different perspective to the news and events around the world that impact everyone's life,however, I will focus more attention on issues that relate more tangibly to our personal lives. We all live in a world that is increasingly interconnected yet it seems a lot of people are turning inwards, shying away from human interaction. Lets step away from ourselves and see what we can do to make a difference. There are ads on this page and 65 cents of every dollar earned will be donated towards helping the homeless. If you like what you are reading, please share it with your friends.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Tangible Oppression

What makes this world a wonderful place is the fact that people, while similar in structure and function, can be so wildly different in their tastes and preferences.  Everyone's body functions the same, yet our heights, facial features, skin color, ideology, ethnicity, and so on vary so greatly that no two of us are the same.  I find the differences amongst people to be fascinating.  Rather than a means to be divisive as so many people feel, I see them as a way to bring people together, to show that no two of us are exactly the same and that we all have a basis for understanding one another.  Perhaps the one area, or preference, that I will never be able to fully see eye to eye with certain people is on our preferred climate, season, or ideal temperature.  I have friends who absolutely love the heat and humidity of summer.  They can't wait for it to arrive and relish the thought of another hot day to enjoy.  When the extreme humidity of summer in New England arrives, I feel like I am slowly dying and dream of being inundated with a blizzard and feet upon feet of snow.  Don't get me wrong, I love summer, I just would rather do without the months of July and a few weeks of August.  My ideal temperature maxes out at about 78 degrees Fahrenheit.  Above that and I start to feel oppressed.  I begin to feel like I am living in an oven, my brain slowly sizzling and frying, and my body attempting to expel every little bit of moisture through sweat.  I can work in the heat, but I don't have to like it.  To me, it feels like I am slowly dying every time I walk outside and the humidity, combined with a high temperature makes the air feel like you slice through it with a butter knife.  I feel shorter, I wilt like the flowers, and I get very easily agitated.  The worst is after a long day of working outside in the heat and humidity only to have mosquitoes and gnats start flying around my face.  I start swatting, swearing, and shadow boxing those little annoying insects in an attempt to retain my sanity, all the while losing it.  And to think that people actually like living in Florida where the heat and humidity make a few hot, disgusting days in New England look like a balmy spring day.  Not for me, my friend, not for me.  

I am pretty sure I write about how much I hate the heat and humidity at least once a year.  I just can't get over my disdain for them, yet luckily man in his infinity wisdom has invented the swimming pool and air conditioning to make life a little more manageable when the temperature is not.  And considering the fact that the extreme heat and humidity only take up about 1.5 months out of a whole year in New England, I would still rather not live anywhere else.  To me, the heat and humidity make it seem like I am slowly dying while the freezing cold makes a me feel alive.  I know some feel the other way around, but this is just my opinion.  There are only so many clothes you can take off your body when it gets hot.  Yet when it's cold you can add layer upon layer upon layer if you needed to.   If given the choice on a way to die, by heat or cold, I would take the cold.  No scientist has ever claimed to bring someone back after being technically dead from the heat, yet there are more and more instances where people have frozen, died, and been brought back to life.  That's what I would prefer.  Now, don't get me wrong, I plan never to put myself in a situation where I will freeze to death, but that is more likely to happen than me putting myself in a situation where I will die from excessive heat.  There just isn't another way of looking at it.  So as this oppressive weekend ends and the heat and humidity diminish somewhat, I will look forward to winter and hopefully lots of snow.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Star Gazing

Last week I was on vacation with my family in Cape Cod.  My parents rented a house and they, my brother and wife, and my whole motley family trucked our way out there to sit on the beach and do a whole lot of nothing.   I went for a early morning kayak trip almost every day.   I sat on the beach every day for at least a short period of time, sometimes longer if the children would allow it.  And evenings were filled with card games, late night drinks on the patio, and star gazing.  I didn't do that much star gazing until about half way through the week.  While there was a lot less light pollution than anywhere in Connecticut, you could still tell where the major towns were, the biggest being Hyannis with a white glow being emitted into the sky, noticably blocking out a small portion of the stars.  But that was 30 miles away, and there was still plenty of sky to stare at that wasn't affected significantly.  The first night the whole family stared at the stars, we attempted figuring out what the different constellations are.  I know my Big Dipper and Orion's Belt, but aside from those two, I am useless.  So I suggested the app for a smart phone that allows you to point the phone up at the sky and have the constellation superimposed on stars you actual see through the phone.   I guess you could say it's similar to Pokemon Go except that you are not chasing fictional creatures and actually playing a game, it's merely to learn what the different constellations are.  Let me tell you, it's pretty damned amazing.  Not only does it show you the different constellations, but it also shows you the planets and where they would be, even if you might not be able to see them.  Needless to say, we spent a good amount of time staring at the sky with a phone pointed up at it.  After a while though, arms got tired of holding up the phone and we returned to simply staring at the stars and carrying on whatever conversation we had going at the time.  

It was a few days later that I wound up on the beach, by myself, with a beer and nothing to do but stare out into the distance.   It was a windy night, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky and it seemed as if the sky was exploding with stars.  From my perch on a large rock, ten feet from the crashing waves of Sequetucket Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean, I could see for miles.  Monomoy Island stretches 8 miles down my left, lighted faintly by buoys and the Monomoy lighthouse at its terminus.  Beyond that, 30 miles out to sea, is Nantucket.  I found it at night, (impossible to see from shore during the daylight hours), through light pollution and a faint glow on the horizon which was to large to be any sort of ship, and just hovering just where Nantucket should be.  It was amazing.  More amazing though, was the Milky Way which trailed down over my head right to Nantucket when I arrived on the beach.  Staring out at the different stars, I saw 4 shooting stars within 20 minutes.  Taking it one step further on the amazing scale, I felt how small we all actually are by witnessing the earth move.  No, I didn't have that much to drink where I was moving and thought the earth was, but I witnessed the earth move through the movement of the stars.  When I arrived on the beach, the Milky Way pointed directly towards Nantucket.  A half hour later, it was what looked to be 30 miles to the right and as time went on, it tracked further and further.   I think that was the first time where I consciously saw the stars move, or more accurately the earth move in relation to the stars.  Without such a wide open expanse of sky as I had, it is much harder to notice that type of movement.  While I could have a sat there for hours watching the earth move, eventually the wind took its toll, my beer ran out, and I started getting tired.  Sitting there though, I could picture myself as a mariner in a past life, traveling the oceans in search of meaning, staring at the stars at night, and only worrying about missing the next big storm.  But alas, I am not a mariner, but can still stare at the sky and watch see how small I am in relation to everything else.  It helps put a little perspective on life, something that we all could use.  And while down at the beach staring at the stars, I did not take out my phone to try and figure out what anything was, I just used my own eyes and gazed out into the univers.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

One Tough Cookie

Having spent plenty of time talking about our son when he was little and how amazing he was and currently is, it is only fair that I spend time talking about our daughter who, in her own unique way, is amazing.  Both our children our quirky, unique, and a joy to be around, but our daughter takes the cake for being the toughest child in the house, right now.   Except for the times when she creates a bigger deal out of nothing because her brother did something to her (can't believe she is already faking it to drive it home to him), she cries at almost nothing and if she does cry, gets over it within seconds.   She could fall down and scrape her hands and knees, and after a quick hug, she is back to running.  If no one is around and she thinks that no one saw her fall, she sometimes doesn't even cry.  The biggest difference I have noticed to date has been with teething.  Our son started teething early and finished early, but the process wasn't always smooth.  There were the complaints of pain, extreme moodiness, and periodic crying.  There is nothing wrong with that as I would probably cry if I was having something force its way into my gum line and I had no idea what it was or why it was happening.  Yet, our daughter never complains and never cries.  She may get a little moody, but not to the extent that our son did. 

 The real surprise for us in regards to teething came this past Monday.  When my wife picked up our daughter, her entire chest and back were covered in a rash.  Not knowing what it was, we got a little concerned, but decided to wait till the next day to consult our doctor as she was acting perfectly normal.  There was no cold symptoms, no fever, no aches, no lethargy.  There was nothing out of the ordinary.  So Tuesday morning, it looked worse and looked as if it was spreading.  Not wanting to take any chances, we kept her out of daycare and my wife brought her down to see our Doctor.  After checking out our daughter from head to toe, she finally looked in her mouth and found two molars starting to come in.  Without any other symptoms, it was determined that the rash was due to teething.  Yet our daughter showed no signs of being in any type of pain, just broke out in a rash literally from head to toe.   It is going on day four and the rash is still there, but she still shows no signs of being in pain due to the molars.  It amazes me.  I also hope she keeps that high pain tolerance with her as she grows older.  If only she could share some of it with her brother, we would be all set.  I had heard that younger girls were always tougher than the boys their age, but I never would have believe it had it not been for seeing our daughter in comparison to our son.  I love it.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Becoming Best Friends

Every year is different.  There is a continuity that can be followed between the years, a thin line leading one from point a to b to c and so on ad infinitum.   Yet that line is merely a filament tracing existence from beginning to an eventual end.  The line changes, grows, shrinks, expands, contracts, the similarities rising and falling, yet always building upon what came previously.  This is our children's lives, a slowly expanding, ever increasing, volatile existence.  Everything changes in young children from month to month, year to year.  They may be similar in appearance to when they were newborns, but those radical first years are filled with such expansive growth that the line that connects every age is sometimes hard to discern.   Every age presents different challenges, different opportunities, and different moments to watch, record, retain, and admire.  Along with those splendid moments come those we wish to erase, the tantrums, the drawing on the bedsheets, and yet while we want to erase them, we can't.  We can use them to build that line, add to it, expand it, help it to grow.  But it is the moments of peace, calm, and companionship between brother and sister that make everything worth it.  To see our son randomly walk up to his younger sister to comfort her, to console, or just because he wants to giver her a hug, is priceless.  Of course the next moment he is tempting her into trouble, but the moments of temptation and discord are much less frequent than those where they can play together amicably.  It will not be an overnight occurrence, but I dare say they are becoming very good friends and hope that the friendship will continue throughout their lives.  We can, at this point, leave them to their own devices without excessive worry and doubt on our part. It may be premature, our son being almost 5 and our daughter at a solid 2 and a half, but it's not like we leave them home alone.   We are always just in the next room, or just inside while they are in the driveway.  We never go far when those two are playing because our son, at this point, doesn't understand the size of his body in relation to his sisters and the extra strength that he has.  Yet, 90% of the time, they play wonderfully.  Their personalities couldn't be more different in some respects, but in others, they are exactly the same.  They are both goof balls, both ingenious, and both of them love to laugh.  What more could a parent ask for.  Who needs a TV when you have two children to watch.  The content far surpasses anything on the boob tube and it never gets depressing.  I am fascinated by what the future may hold, and yet while fascinated, I relish the moments I have now with two wonderful children who are quickly I becoming the best of friends.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Allure of Driving

Saturday morning I decided to get up early and take my kayak out on the Housatonic River.  I had our son help me put it on the roof of our car the day before so I could just hop in and start driving.  I woke up a little after five, made coffee, had a banana and a glass of water, and by 530 I was headed out the door, way before most people would even be waking up.  I did go kayaking, the whole point of my early morning trip, but something happened when I sat in the car and started driving.   As soon as I pulled out of our driveway, the sky painted a deep orange on the horizon by the rising sun, I felt compelled to keep on driving.  My head was clear, there was a cup of strong coffee in my travel mug, sun roof open, and I felt that the world was open in front of me, beckoning me to just drive.  With a kayak on the roof, I could drive anywhere, stop off by a body of water, and put in and start paddling.  Or I could keep on driving.  It felt as if there weren't a worry in the world at that time and with very few cars on the road, I felt like I owned the road, the pavement unfurling in front of me, the white dotted lines beckoning me to follow them.  The possibilities were limitless, open, free from constraint, and very large part of me wanted to just drive for the sake of driving.  It was a solitary moment, one that tantalized and worms its way deep into your psyche.  "Drive" it says, "keep going till you hit the horizon."  But alas, my children and wife were sleeping at home, and driving aimlessly down the open road was not in the cards, but the feeling remained.  If I had no responsibilities, heaven only knows where I would have ended up.  And I suppose I could have kept on driving, but decided against it that morning.  

Later that night, I was telling my wife the feeling that I got, of feeling like everything was perfect and I could keep on driving forever with no destination in mind or goal to achieve.  She was quick to say that I was trying to escape, but that wasn't it at all.  I even, at that moment, brought my thoughts back to the morning and sifted through exactly what I was feeling, and there was no desire to escape anything, I just wanted to drive.  For those that haven't had a similar feeling, words will fall far short in attempting to explain it.  It is a feeling that resonates deep within you, a feeling of movement within your soul, of desire to do something.  In my case, at that moment, the desire was to drive.  It's as if all the stars were aligned and I was the center of them.  It was everything about that moment, the coolness outside, the sun just peeking over the horizon, the coffee, the music on the radio, the sunroof open, the quietness of the world.  It was a feeling that sometimes is best just savored, enjoyed while it is within you, and allowed to exit as it winds down.  That moment, once we are attuned to it, can be recognized as fleeting.  It is a moment that drives us forward, but is simply that, an impetus, a motivator, and spark underneath your rear.  Once started the feeling drifts away leaving tangible trails within you to hold on to, remember it by, and add to the library of one's self.  The feeling came and went, but still, I can smell the air, feel the coolness of the breeze through the window, and smile when it hits me how wonderful that feeling was.  Just the desire to drive, that's it.  And yet, it is so much more.  Sometimes we need those early mornings, those times of peace and tranquility, to use as an anchor for our hectic lives.  They ground us, let us know the world is inherently good despite what we may see the rest of the day.   Maybe next time I will keep drive on a little farther, but probably not.  I do know that I will welcome the feeling when it comes.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Apple Never Falls Far

Looking at our daughter, I can picture myself as a young child of 2 and a half multiplied by a factor of 10.   I would speak for my wife as well, however, I did not know her as a child or what she was like.  Yet, from what she has said, our son has a personality that is more in tune with her's than mine...at least for now.   To say that our daughter has a mind of her own is an understatement.  In regards to almost everything she does, she has to do it herself or at least her way.  There are no other alternatives but hers.  End of discussion.   As you can imagine, it has created a clash of wills, a fight to the tears, and I am quickly learning that whatever patience I learned to have with our son quickly needs to be multiplied.  Yet, in all fairness, as our son gets older, I am needing more with him as well, but more on that another day.   Our daughter is a quick study just like her brother was, if not even quicker.  We have reached the point now, with her only two and a half, that we can not keep a gate either at the top or bottom of the stairs as she has learned how to climb over it and has become adept at both climbing and descending the stairs.  Whenever she does fall (and it has not been down the stairs yet but more from running to quickly in the house), she gets up quickly without any fuss.  Whichever man says girls aren't as tough as boys is living in a delusional world of his own design and I will introduce him to my daughter when she is older and she will kick his ass.  Sorry, but everything about our daughter is tougher than most boys her age.  Yes, she is starting to show a softer, more feminine side if you will, but she is more prone to violence and fewer tears in general than our son was at the same age.  

This whole stubbornness thing is the part that I am having the hardest time dealing with.  I admire the fact that she knows what she wants and has the tenacity to attempt everything herself.  I love the fact that she wants things her way.  I just don't like it when it conflicts with me being a parent and looking at for her safety.  That's when things start to suck.  It sucks even more because she has an older brother who she idolizes for the most part and wants to be wherever he is doing whatever he is doing.  It could be climbing ladders (as happened when I was at the top of a 32' ladder, look down and see her about a 8'up), digging holes, riding bikes, or hammering things (as she accidentally hammered our sons head with a small metal hammer (he is fine)).   In any of these cases, it is exceptionally hard to get her to change course.  Many times, despite my most patient and concerted effort, I need to resort to picking her up and physically removing her from a situation.  She never likes it, but the consequences could be her getting hurt or hurting someone else (like her brother).   And when I do pick her up, she cries for mommy.  "I want my mommy!!!!"  Tears, squirming, screaming, and eventually resentful submission to parental authority figures.   It's funny (perhaps ironic would be better) at how much more you let your second child get away with versus your first.  As a child with a younger sibling, you think it's unfair that they get away with so much more than you did.  And then as a parent, you realize the reality of the situation and how you can't keep them back as much because they are simply following their older sibling.  As long as it is safe and within the rules of our house, we pretty much allow it.   

Yet, for all the stubbornness and resistance, our daughter is an awesome girl with in infectious laugh and a comedic aura that can put a smile on anyone's face.  And there are moments when I know that I must be doing something right.  One of these moments happened not long ago, I want to say with the past week, where I had to pull our daughter way from something she was doing.   As always, she hated it, wanted her mommy, and fled to her arms as soon I would let her.  She got to her mommy' arms and immediately proceeded by telling mommy that, "I don't like daddy right now".  I was standing there and chuckled.  I simply said, "ok, but do you love me?"  She hid her face in mommy' shoulder, and with a muffled voice said, "yes".  "Can you give me a hug?" To which I got the same response:  "yes".   As soon as her little arms were wrapped around my neck I said, "you don't have to like me,  it I'm glad that you love me."  From there, her demeanor improved and while she did not stay in my arms, I was ok with that.  I felt, in a sense, like I was talking to a teenager.  Thinking of what I just said now, I fear for the years when she is a teenager.  The good thing is, I have some time to prepare myself for those tumultuous, insanely crazy, hormone driven years.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Pokemon and Nature

To be perfectly honest, I had not heard about the newest app to take this country by storm until a week after it was already out.  I think at this point it has been out for just a little over two weeks.   That app, Pokemon Go, is based on the game from the 1990's.  I never got into the game then and I pretty much guarantee that I will not be getting into this latest game.  There is both a positive and negative side to this new game in my mind.  Let's start with the positive.   The game is designed to get you outdoors, walking around, and searching for different landmarks that correspond to ones in the game.  It is considered Augmented Reality.   The idea is that as you hold your phone up in areas that are designated as "Gyms" or other areas, you can find the Pokemon.  From there on out, I am lost on the concept.  But back to the positive of the game.  It gets people outside and walking.  Most video games inspire a more sedentary lifestyle, locking oneself indoors reclined on a couch and staring at a TV screen for hours on end.  The exception previous to this app had to be Nintendo Wii.  So people are outside, meeting other Pokemon gamers and engaging with the real world, albeit via a smartphone that they are still somewhat glued to as they play the game.  What can be better for a gamer?  Playing a game and getting outdoors.  Yet, as someone who has never been a "gamer", I still don't understand the draw and will inevitably find problems with a game.  

My problem, is that while people are getting outdoors, they are still not dealing with "reality".  People must travel outdoors to arrive at certain areas that correspond to ones in the game, but once there, it is back to staring at a smartphone to play.  There is a brief period where, hopefully, they are not staring at their phones while traveling to their destination and as such can take in their surroundings, enjoy the scenery, and get some exercise.  Yet, I feel this is all negated by the fact that once they arrive at their destination to find their "Pokemon", they return to staring at their phone and engaging with their augmented reality.  Yes, this game can expose people to landmarks that they might not otherwise visit, but if their sole purpose of visiting is to collect Pokemon, are they really seeing what is around them?  A few might, but I think for the most part, people will forget a given landmark soon after their mission in the game is done.   On top of that, once a mission is completed,  people invested in the game will quickly move on, not bothering to enjoy the space they are in, the beauty of their surroundings, or the historical significance of any "gym" they might come across.   I think what bothers me the most about this is the augmented reality part.  When we live in a world where reality must be augmented to draw more people outside, I get worried.  Even two weeks in, some people playing the game have walked off the edge of cliffs, strayed into streets while staring a their phones, and have begun to create a disturbance by calling 911 to see if they can get access to fire stations.  Reality should be fascinating enough as it is, yet sadly, for many these days it is not.

Staring at a phone to find Pokemon, one will miss the small beauties in nature.  The white bellied hawk, speckled with gray and brown that glides over head.  Or the pink and purple painted clouds drifting slowly in a darkening sky.  Or the subtle variations in the flowers of summer.  Is it good that more people are getting outside, absorbing more vitamin D, and breathing the fresh summer air?  Absolutely, I just happen to think that it is for the wrong reason and once this app has run its course, unless their is a fantastic new replacement, people will retreat to their homes and disregard the outdoors as they did before the game came out.  For me, I will not be downloading the game for when I go outside, I want to interact personally with the world around me and not stare through a screen to see it.  I want to focus intimately with the sounds, smells, and sights that abound in nature.  I will take me true reality any day over a game's augmented reality.  Let's talk in a month and see where this fad of Pokemon Go is.  I'll read about the dumbasses in the news I am sure.  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Late Night Habit

A little over a month ago, my wife returned to school to get an extra certification as a teacher.  This certification, called an O-92 (or something like that), would allow her to hold an administrative position in her or any school.  To start the program, she began with one night class a week running until the end of July.   This one night class has proven to be a sticking point with our son.  Every time she leaves to go to class, this happens to be every Wednesday night, our son can't bear to see her go, shedding crocodile tears and begging her to stay.  As soon as she leaves, he returns to normal and he, along with his sister and myself, commence our evening activities.  Normally these include playing outside, eating dinner, and getting everyone settled and into bed.  There have never been any issues, they cooperate fantastically (95% of the time), and in my mind the evening goes well.   Aside from the he fact that our son never wants a to see his mommy leave, there is one other ritual that seems to have become a mainstay on Wednesday nights when my wife is at class.   Despite the fact that he seems exhausted when I put him to bed, it takes him forever to actually fall asleep.   Every Wednesday that my wife has been at class, I have caught him leaving his room and running around the upstairs of our house.  A few times, I have been sitting outside by the fire or talking with friends and I'll look up and see him staring down at me.  There was one time he actually started cleaning my wife's studio probably because he was exhausted and playing would have been too much for him.   While I find it cute to be sitting outside around the fire pit and look up to see an adorable face in the window, it is always way past his bedtime and he is always cranky the next day.  

So his little habit continued last night as well.  He didn't shed as many crocodile tears as normal when my wife left last night and I was able to quickly take his mind off of it by showing both him and his sister a chair I had built the night before.  We had a great evening after that.  We all had nice dinner together, played for a while before and after that, and putting both of them to bed went without a hitch, or so I thought.  They both looked tired from dealing with the heat and humidity of the day, their eyes were rubbed extra it seemed, and the yawns were perpetual.  So after both of them were down, I began getting things ready for work the next day, cleaning up the house, and getting settled.  My wife got home a little over an hour after our son went to bed and as is normal for her, she went up to give them both a kiss.  Apparently, our son was not asleep.  Rather, he was wired.  Thinking nothing of it, she came back down and we sat in our living room and talked.  Right around ten o'clock, we hear the pitter patter of feet in our kids bedroom (they both sleep in beds in the same room now).  Normally, that wouldn't be a big deal as our son sometimes gets up and runs around and usually goes back to bed.  Well, last night he decided to wake up his sister.  That we were not happy with.  She is almost 2.5 years old and she shouldn't be up at 10 o'clock.   So my wife tried going up there and talking to them.  Nothing came of that.  Not having anticipated our son waking up his sister, we never put any reprecussions in place should he decide to do so.  The most we could do was to limit them to their room.  It worked, but after about an hour, I wanted to go to bed and didn't want to have them running around while we were sleeping.  So it was my turn.

I walked into their room and saw them both playing and talking on one bed.  My tactic was as follows: "I'm going to take a shower.  If the two of you aren't in bed by the time I get out, I'm closing the door.  I won't be upset, but I'm closing the door so I can go to bed."   (Note: their bedroom door has a child proof handle over the knob so they can't get out if it is closed, simply for their protection). Well, as it turns out, I get in the shower and hear their door get slammed in the middle of my shower. Works for me, I thought to myself.  I dry off, get out, and standing on the other side of their door, I hear them trying to figure out how to break out of their room.  "Hold this hear and I can get the door open," says our son.  "Do it this way, do it this way," responds out daughter.   I chuckle to myself and think that it is only a matter of time before the two of them break out.  I took about 15 minutes.  At that point, I don't know what happened because my head had already hit the pillow and I was on my way out to dreamland.  They eventually fell asleep.  I don't know when or how they did it, but when I came downstairs this morning, their door was closed again.  I am not sure what the lesson here is yet, but I do know that our doorknob child locks are now useless.    Awesome.  Cheers to having creative children who are problem solvers extraordinaire.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


For the Fourth of July weekend, my family and I traveled up to Vermont to do a little camping on our property up there.  It was only for three nights, but those three nights were a nice little reprieve from the status quo at home.   Besides Friday night (which we spent in the car due to frequent cloud to ground lighting strikes), the weather was perfect.  It was cool with temperatures peaking in the mid 70's and there was a slight breeze constantly blowing and rustling through the tree tops.  Before heading up to Vermont, we bought a small box of assorted fireworks.  These were of the legal sort, only "emitting showers of sparks", but to our 4.5 and 2 year old, they were the best thing beside the s'mores they craved all weekend.  Each night we set off a few of them and each night there was the request to set off more.  The look on our son's face (4.5) was one of pure joy.   Our daughter on the other hand, while enthralled by the light show, wanted nothing to do with the noise of them.  So as I set them off, our daughter sat in my wife's lap with her ears covered staring intently at the light show.  It was adorable to say the least.   

Sunday night, our last night in Vermont, was our best night there.  After we finished the fireworks and were sitting around the fire waiting for the perfect moment for all of us to pack it in for the night, the second light show commenced.  It was right at dusk when they started coming out, fireflies by the dozens.  (I vacillate here between fireflies and lighting bugs.  I guess it all depends on where you grew up and what your family called them).   For the next 20 minutes or so, we sat there and pointed like madmen into the trees.  "See those over there!"  "Look at those!"  "Wait, there's more over there!"  I was getting just as excited as our kids were.   To see little flashing yellow lights completely surrounding us was amazing.  To see it with our kids was an even bigger bonus.  I honestly don't remember a time since I was a little kid when I had seen so many fireflies at once.  There were the fast fireflies, on a mission at night, and the meandering ones enjoying their evening stroll through the air.  Once my wife and kids went to bed, I stayed out for a few extra minutes to watch the show and take in all I could.  I hope that the moment with the fireflies we shared as a family lasts a long time with our kids.  Nature can amaze even the most skeptical adult, all we have to do is put down our phones and look out into the night sky.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Early Morning Alarm

Every morning, my alarm goes off around 4:05.  Yes, it's early, but it's my chance to enjoy the peace and quiet that the early morning affords me and to slowly wake myself up with coffee and nice tall glass of water.    Without fail, I usually hit the snooze button at least once.  This morning I am fairly certain that I hit it twice.   My alarm clock is old, almost as old as I am (I can't believe that I just alluded to the fact that I am getting old, but I will let it be).   Some of the pieces are missing, but it still keeps excellent time and while the beep of the alarm is not quite as jarring as it used to be, it still does the job 99.99% of the time.   So this morning, after I hit the snooze button a second time, I was surprised to hear the alarm going off again sooner than the 9 extra minutes it usually allows.   It took me a few seconds to hear what the alarm was actually doing and in my half asleep mind, it thought it was weird that the alarm was saying, "mommy daddy", "mommy daddy".   A few more repetitions of that and reality sunk in that it was not my alarm going off, but our daughter standing in the middle of the room saying "mommy daddy",  "mommy daddy" and slowly getting louder each time she said it.  I pretended to be asleep in hopes that my wife would get up and see what she needed.  Well, she did, and tried to get our daughter to climb into our bed with us and go back to sleep.  However, our daughter being extremely stubborn and two years old, wanted to go downstairs and wanted nothing to do with going back to bed.  So she leaned over and said, "Since your getting up anyway, how about taking our daughter downstairs."  

How could I really argue.  My alarm had started going off and I should be the one getting up and going downstairs with her.  I just wanted a few more minutes of sleep and wished as I was pulling myself out of bed that our daughter had a snooze button on her.  Yet, she doesn't and probably never will.  So instead of writing this morning, I got to spend it with our daughter which is always enjoyable.  And as I am writing now, I realize I may not be writing tomorrow morning either.  It all depends on when I get up as I am planning on heading out in my kayak nice and early.  I figure if I hit the river around 6/630, I can get in a good couple of hours before returning home and heading to work for the day.  We shall see what happens.  For now, it is a return to work for me and time to plan what I am going to do for the rest of the afternoon after I finish work for the day.  Cheers everyone!

Monday, June 27, 2016

7 Years Married Today

Seven years ago today, my wife and I tied the knot and began our journey as husband and wife, just as my brother and his wife did last week.  Looking back at all we have done and been through, I must say, it's been quite a journey so far.   There have been mostly good times, but as in any marriage, we have had our struggles as well.   Starting off, we were young and naive, in love and struggling to figure out our relationship.  We learned quickly on that communication is key, that we were never going to be able to force each other to change, and that when we do change, it's ok and we need to love the person we each become.  Throw in that mix the rest of life and it's been a wonderful roller coaster.  Mostly ups, but definitely with some wild, screaming down hills thrown in there.  So where have we come so far?

When my wife and I met, we were each beginning our journey's in our respective careers, my wife as a teacher and myself as a painting contractor.   I slowly moved my way into my wife's apartment at the time, incrementally spending more and more nights there and less and less at my parent's house.  I finally had most of my close at her apartment, just not any other "stuff" that I had accumulated over my life before her.  After a couple years, and knowing we were going to spend the rest of our lives together, we bought our first house.  For me, that's when I officially moved out of my parents house.  Soon after we moved in to our house, I asked my wife to marry me, knowing (with at least 97% certainty) that she would say yes.  And she did.  We got our first dog, started working on fixing up our house, and enjoying our time together.  Two years later, we tied the knot and had the most wonderful reception right in our back yard to save money.  It was a pig roast, all our family and friends were there, and it was a wonderful time.  We went on our honeymoon in Ireland, had a blast, and missed our flight home (a story for another time).  Flash forward a couple more years, we bought our second dog, land in Vermont for camping, and life was good.   I struggle now to remember which came first, our second dog or our land.  I could ask my wife because she would probably know, but she is sleeping and I don't want to wake her.  Flip forward another year and our son was born.  We had planned on waiting another year or two before having kids, but...Surprise, there he was.  Some people might have been resentful, but we embraced it fully and would never have it any other way at this point.  Flip forward two more years and our daughter was born.  A year after that, we bought another house, moved into it, and rented out our old one.  Flash forward one more time a couple of years and here I am looking back at all the joy that has filled my married life.  

I am blessed to have had the support of family, friends, but most of all, my wife and children.  What the future holds, I have no idea.  I can plan extensively for certain things to happen but, in the end, no one knows for certain what will pan out (unless you are a determinist and claim that everything is predestined).  Again, that is conversation for another time, and one that I would probably only get involved in with a handful of people, Shaw being one of them.  But today is simply our anniversary, a day that my wife and I celebrate our love for each other.  And it definitely helps that our anniversary is only 3 days after my birthday as I can never forget when it is.  (I am horrible with birthdays and anniversaries of any kind).  I know it's only seven years, but I have had a few friends get divorced after only 1.  I will be proud of how far we have made it today, and I will definitely look forward to many years of happiness to come.  I just hope that all my friends, especially the ones that are just embarking on their journey of marriage, find as much love as we did for each other, and figure out how to make their marriage work best for them.  Cheers!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Another Birthday, Another Year Down

Well, it's my birthday again, yay!  I suppose I should update some of the info on my blog as it currently says I am 32 when in fact I turn 34 today.  Oh well, all in due time, and that time is not right now.  I love procrastinating and I shall continue to do that now.  At least with updating my info here.  But back to my birthday.  It is a perfect day and as of 11:06 this morning, I made the decision that I have worked enough for today.  (To my customers who may be reading this on vacation, don't worry, I'll get the work done by the time you return).   It is a momentous day in the world as Britain voted to leave the E.U.  I wonder if my birthday had anything to do with it.  The answer is fairly obvious that it did.  But since it is my birthday, I shall push off any discussion of their decision across the pond till next week when I shall have plenty to talk about.  For now, I shall talk about me and my day.    Why not, I ask, it's my blog and I'll write as I want to.  (I did have that ancient song flash through my head quickly, "It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to", just saying).  

I love my birthday if only for the fact that I get to look in the mirror and tell my boss (myself), "You don't have to work that hard today, in fact, you might as well do absolutely nothing and enjoy it."  For those that know me, I rarely do nothing unless it involves sitting on a beach or by a pool in the sun.  Other than those few times, I maintain a good deal of activity throughout the day and into the evening.  Even today, I will probably putz around the yard at home, doing a few things here and there.   But to start with, it's time to head home from work, eat some lunch with my family and figure out afternoon plans.  Maybe poolside for a while, dinner at my parents, then who knows.  Whatever happens, I'll enjoy it on this beautiful day with no humidity and blue skies.  Turning 34 feels much the same as most of my 33rd year of life, pretty damn good.  I am happy with where I am at in the overall scheme of things and am happy where things are headed.  With that said, I'm off.  Enjoy the weekend whoever is reading this and I'll be back next week!  Cheers!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Year of Weddings

Since I happen to be on a wedding theme, I suppose I will continue with it, at least for today.  So far this year, my wife and I have been to two weddings.   Preceding the two weddings already attended were two bachelor parties, the only similarity between the two being large amounts of alcohol consumed.   But I'm not here to talk about bachelor parties today except to highlight the extra time that accompanies being involved in weddings of friends and family.   The two weddings we have been to so far have been fantastic.  They were both joyous occasions filled with friends and family coming together to celebrate a new beginning for two people, marriage.  It is refreshing to see marriage in its infancy, with two people deeply in love with each other and surrounded by friends and family supporting them.  Plus, let's not forget the party to celebrate the new beginning.  I must say, I have never been to a wedding that I did not enjoy.  Before this year, however, it had been a while since I attended a wedding, at least 5 years.  This year, I think I appreciate weddings more as I am less than a week away from my 7th wedding anniversary.  Age also makes a difference.  While the party is always a good time, I find myself looking at the whole event with greater appreciation based upon what I have in my own marriage.  I have a beautiful wife who loves and supports me and looking at newlyweds, I wish and hope that they feel the same way that I do.   Is marriage easy?  Not all the time, but is incredibly rewarding when you put in the work and reap the benefits of a supportive and loving marriage.  

Two weddings down and we still have two to go this year.  We also know of one next year for a friend who was recently engaged.  I am looking forward to both of the weddings that are up and coming, not so much for the party, but for the chance to gather with family and friends.  That is another aspect of weddings that I think some people overlook.  The chance to converse and spend time with people that you many not have seen in a while.  It is a chance to renew friendships and establish closer ties with family.  What could be better than that?  After all, left alone without friends and family, I feel our souls wither a bit.  As humans, we need the connection between each other.  Some need it with more people, some need only a few close friends and family.   Regardless of what we need, a marriage celebration is a chance to re-establish those connections and move forward with love and hope.  So to marriages that hopefully will last a lifetime and to the connections between friends and family that are renewed and strengthened, let's raise our lunchtime sandwiches and toast them with a nice big bite.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My Son's First Crush

I started my return to writing on a happy note talking about my brother's wedding.  As such, I feel it is only appropriate, at least for today, to keep up the good spirits and keep the tone positive.  I debating diving off the deep end and talking about a subject such as Orlando or Trump, but even just the mere thought of tackling those topics made me agitated.   So those shall sit and simmer for now and instead back to the wedding I return.  

Kelly's grandparents, her uncle and his family, are from Iowa and they all made the trip out to New Hampshire to celebrate the wedding.   What wonderful people they all are.  Personable, down to earth, possessing a love of conversation.   It wasn't long before our two families were mingling, drinking together, and simply getting lost in learning about a new addition to our respective families.  Kelly's Uncle, Mark, has a beautiful daughter named Katie.   She is a teenager with long, flowing red hair and a sweet, caring demeanor.  I didn't get to talk to her much at all over the course of the weekend, but I could see from her interactions with the other kids around, that she was a good person.  At the reception after the wedding on Saturday, I guess our son became her dancing partner and her friend over the course of the evening.  Katie almost in a sense took over the role of babysitter at times.  There were a number of kids who were running around, playing together outside in the actual vineyard, and Katie kept an eye on them if a parent wandered off.  For me, it was such a whirlwind being best man and trying to tend to family, friends, dancing, and being with my brother.  I never got to spend more then 5-10 minutes in one place before I was being called to come talk or take pictures with someone else.   
Towards the latter part of the evening when some partygoers had dissipated and the dance floor was packed, there was only one place to find me, and that was dancing.  Concurrently, there was only one place to find my wife and kids as well, dancing.  Our son and daughter would be all over the place, dancing as hard as the most seasoned adolescent or adult.  Our son would go from my parents to my wife and I to Katie.  Whenever my son wasn't with us or my parents, I could rest assured that he was dancing with Katie.  It was so awesome to watch our kids jump into scenario they had never been in before and run with it.  Leading up to the wedding, my wife and I were uncertain of how long our kids would last and it she would have to head back to the hotel early with them.  True to family form, they love to party.  Even our daughter who is approaching two and a half years old was almost unstoppable.  You could see the exhaustion on her face, yet she couldn't stop moving to the music.  Even if she was being held by someone dancing with her, the moment they stopped, she would start bouncing in their arms to the music.  Despite the fun that we might be having at a party, all parties must come to an end.  I vaguely remember when I was about the age of my kids at a wedding, crying when the music stopped and the party had to end.  Well, our son had the same reaction, except it was a double whammy.  When the music stopped and he found out that we would have to go and he couldn't go with Katie, he was crushed.  He was having so much fun dancing that he didn't want it to end.  He almost started crying before everyone left, the depression apparent in the look on his face.  

He fell asleep on the car ride back to the hotel.  When he woke up at the hotel, the first question out of his mouth was, "Where is Katie?"  He couldn't fathom that she had to be elsewhere and that she would have to go home.  He then wanted to get her address so he could send her a letter in Iowa.  It was absolutely adorable.  The next morning, we came down to breakfast and Katie and her family were already down there.  After they were done with their breakfast, Katie stopped by our table to say goodbye to our son and thank him for being her dancing partner.   As any four year old would do in that situation, he shoved a large pancake in his mouth with half of hanging out and blushed.  I almost fell on the floor laughing it was so cute.  Of course, after she left, the first words out his mouth were, "I want to say goodbye".   Really!  "She was just there, you shoved a pancake in your mouth so you couldn't talk, and now you want to say goodbye?" I thought to myself.  There is your four and half your old.   But, we have her address and I'm sure that we will be writing her a letter soon.  Ah, the start of interest in others...can't wait for the teenage years.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

My Brother Has Officially Left the Nest

It has been almost  a year since I have written a word here.  What a wonderfully crazy year it has been.  I am going to make an honest attempt to sit down and write here more often and go through some of what has happened.  But first, let's start with perhaps the biggest event over this past year.  While my brother has been out of our parents house for a number of years now and while he still has a good portion of his "stuff" lingering there, he is now married as of three days ago.  My little brother who I used to torment has grown up, found himself a beautiful woman to be his wife, and is forging his way forward.  The years of tormenting are long gone (mostly), and now that we have grown closer, I couldn't be prouder of my baby brother.  Yes, there will always be times when I throw in a quick jab, but now he retaliates, a true Zamachaj trait.  I write today though, not to highlight our mutual tormenting of each other, but rather to highlight this past weekend, my brother's wedding, and how wonderful everything was.  Being closer to my brother now, he chose me to be his best man at his wedding and I couldn't have been more honored.   From the moment our family arrived this past Thursday, it was an event filled weekend with almost every meal full of extended family, new family, and friends.  It was an emotional high that lasted for three days straight.  Sometimes in our daily lives we forget how great it is to be with family, and not just the family we see on a regular basis.  It is great to see all family, but especially to gather with extended family and share our stories in person that have accumulated over the years between last visits.  Sure, we can share stories on Facebook (which I mostly don't do), but they lack that personal touch that comes with face to face interaction.  Sure, we can look at pictures at family and how they have grown and changed, but nothing has quite the same impact of seeing those people in front of you.  Spending time with extended family, at least for me, makes me wish that the extended family wasn't as "extended" as they are.  It makes me wish that the distance between family members was a little more surmountable than the status quo.  Yet, as much as I wish it to be, this is not the world according to Alex.   

The whole weekend was amazing, but let's focus for now on Saturday the 18th, the day my brother made a vow that will forever alter the course of his life.   The weather was perfect for a wedding.  The skies were cloudless, there was almost no humidity, and the temperature peaked at around 80 degrees.  The only thing I would have changed would be my tuxedo.  I don't like them and part of me wishes it was a beach wedding with shorts and Hawaiian shirts.  Yet I had no say for some reason.  The morning of the wedding was relatively relaxing.  I spent some time in the pool with our kids and just lounged around till it was time to squeeze myself into the tux.  The only thing I was stressing about was the speech that I would be giving at the reception about my brother.   I had been thinking about what exactly I was going to say for about a month and true to form, I waited till the last few days to start organizing my thoughts, whittling them down, and putting them in an order that would actually flow and make sense.   After all, it is not the easiest thing to sum up 27 years that you have lived with someone in about 5 minutes.  Yet, about 3 hours before the wedding, I had it down, and would continue to repeat it in my mind right up until the moment I stood up to talk.  

Then a little after lunch, the whirlwind began.  My brother Pete, myself, and the three other groomsmen made our way over to the church to begin pictures.  For the next hour or so we trekked around his alma mater, Saint Anselm, taking pictures in all the key locations; Alumni Hall, the football field (even though my brother never played the sport), and stone face (just look it up).  Then it was off to the on campus church to wait.  We cooled off as much as possible from walking across the entire campus in tuxedos under a midday sun.  Then it was go time.  Wait, wait, wait...cue music, and the last minutes of my brother's single life begin to wind down.   The only thing that would have made me happier throughout the whole ceremony would have been the church installing an air conditioner.  Despite that, it was beautiful.  Family and friends witnessing my brother's marriage, what could be better.  Looking back even a few days later, it was over in a flash and I wasn't even the one getting married.  Before we knew it, we were heading back out for more pictures and the trip to Zorvino's, a vineyard where the reception was to be held.  

More pictures at the vineyard, then almost immediately upon entering, the first dances and my speech.  I felt like I nailed it.  A touch humiliation and a lot of adulation, and we were off to the races again.  Dash here there and everywhere.  For me, I was running around trying to spend time with family, dance, eat, spend more time with family, and dance some more.  By that point, I barely even saw my brother as he made his way around the room talking to all the guests with Kelly.  Every so often, I would catch a glimpse of him, but then he would be off again and I'd be heading in the opposite direction.   I think I am still trying to process that evening as everything still seems a litt bit of a blur.  Before I knew it, the music was winding down and it was time to go.  The brevity of the whole day makes me wish sometimes that we lived in Europe and had one of those wedding receptions that last for three days or more.   The flip side to that, however, would be the longer, harder recovery I would have to go through.  So, I guess in a way, a one day wedding with a few days spending time with family is sufficient.  I am proud of my little brother and wish him nothing but the best.  Luckily, he doesn't live that far away so I will still get to see him and his wife.  I will end this today by sharing with you the blessing I gave my brother in my speech.  "As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way"