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.

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.