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.

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"