A True Toy Story

Going through phases and bouncing from one interest to another has never really been part of my repertoire. Where most people generally have an archive of past hobbies or trends that they once found interesting, I slightly differ. When something truly draws my attention, like my love for football & baseball, my passion for punk rock & photography, or even my joy for writing, I would embrace it and make it part of me. I would carry it with me, wearing it as proudly as the “S” displayed on Superman’s chest, not just for a short period, but for a lifetime. It would be my passion. I remember the very day, over thirty years ago, when I began to mold myself into the type of person that I am today……

I stood in my bedroom doorway one afternoon, motionless and completely at a loss for words. As I gazed across my room, something seemed different. I started to feel confused and slightly out of place. Something had changed. A section of my bedroom had dead bodies strewn out all over the floor. Caved in and crumbled to the ground, once powerful military bases now lay amongst the fallen. There were loose weapons scattered about, along with other pieces of depleted military equipment. The remnants of tanks, ships and other weapons of mass destruction were also visible. I could count the number of surviving Allies on one hand. To the ordinary eye it looked like one hell of a battle had just taken place. On this day, however, the only thing that stood out to my ten year old eyes was the large amount of dust building up on all of my toys. The battlefield that laid before me had come to a cease-fire at least six to twelve months earlier.

Every so often I would notice the lifeless toys laying around my room. As I’d motion towards them, with the idea of getting involved in another adventure, I would always somehow become distracted. On the other side of my room there were numerous boxes and albums, each filled with baseball cards neatly organized year by year, team by team, and position by position. The walls on that side of my room were covered with baseball team posters and pennants. Tacked up on the corkboard above my dresser were baseball stickers and patches along with newspaper and magazine articles. Matching baseball bed sheets and curtains highlighted the rest of the room. The well broken in baseball equipment sitting in the corner also often drew my attention. I had just played my first season of baseball, and before I knew it, day in and day out, I was eating, drinking and sleeping baseball.

Walking into my bedroom had begun to feel like a game of tug of war. The toys were always pulling for my imagination and for me to stay as young as I could for as long as I could. Meanwhile, baseball was pulling for me to mature, grow socially and learn to play and win as a team. My conscience would often whisper into my ear, instructing me to go outside with my dented up old bat and see how many rocks I could blast over top of the old barn behind my house. On other occasions, the guilt hanging over my head from not playing with my toys for so long, would often leave me feeling disappointed and confused . Despite feeling that guilt, playing baseball seemed to make more sense as time went on.

As I stared at all of the toys lying across my bedroom floor on that particular day, weighing my options and running many different scenarios through my ten year old mind, I finally came to a conclusion. I was ready to move on. Even thought I still had a small place in my heart for each and every one of my toys, I knew that today was the day. Without giving it a second thought, I rolled up my sleeves and made an all day project out of boxing up every toy in my room.

After everything was completely boxed up, I began making dozens of trips into our attic, packing away all of the toys that had driven my imagination for so many years. Once everything was stored into the deep dark depths of our creepy old cobweb covered attic, I still wasn’t 100% sure of what I had just done. Knowing that I had just made a drastic decision in giving up toys forever still left me a little unsettled. After I broke this news to my mother, she helped me gain a quick sense of relief by reminding me that my toys would always be in the attic for a rainy day. The toys and imagination that had once motivated me day in and day out, were immediately replaced with sports, friendships and social involvement. The foundation for my upcoming preadolescent years was quickly structured, so life went on.

Today, as a forty-one year old father of three, I often reminisce about my own personal experiences as a child, especially after witnessing similar moments take place in my son’s lives. My nine year old son Evan recently approached me after doing his homework one evening. He appeared somewhat confused, like he was having trouble gathering his thoughts. As he rolled up his sleeves, he looked deep into my eyes and said, “Dad, I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and I’ve finally made a decision. I’m giving up Pokémon cards, in fact, I’m actually giving up everything but football cards.”

It was clear that this was something that he had been considering for some time. He was struggling with the exact same feelings that I had once struggled with. Before I had a chance to reply, Evan had gone straight up to his bedroom and without giving it a second thought, he handed down every single Pokémon card he owned to his little brothers. I often feel like Evan is growing up too fast, however, on that particular day, I was very proud of him. As a nine years old, making this kind of a decision is actually a pretty big deal.

Maybe it was the growing number of neatly stacked football cards sitting on his bookshelf. Maybe it was all of the NFL magazines, team logo drawings, and team t-shirts floating around his room. Or, maybe it was all of the well-worn football and baseball equipment sitting over in the corner. The signs were all too familiar. Just as I once was, Evan too, was clearly ready to move on.

In our early youth, toys and games have always helped educate and develop our imagination. As we mature, there are many different things that help guide and shape us into the person we are today. I look forward to seeing my boys discover each piece of their puzzle as they go through life. I hope they can have a passion for the things that truly interest them, and happiness from the choices they make. I hope they can carry these things with them, and wear them as proudly as the “S” displayed on Superman’s chest. Not just for a short period, but for a lifetime.

Regardless of what my boys have a passion for as they mature and grow older, if it gives them lifelong happiness, then it will most definitely give this father lifelong happiness…

My Synopsis Of February; Shadows Unwelcome

One afternoon I had what seemed like an epiphany. I was at the Town Mall with my three boys and we were on a mission; get the boys haircuts, grab something quick for lunch and then head over to the grocery store to get the weekly grocery shopping trip over with. As we were walking through the mall the boys spotted one of those round coin donation bins. They immediately began begging me for change. I had a few pennies floating around in my worn jeans pocket so I handed them out. As the boys released the coins into the bin, I waited impatiently. For a moment it felt like time completely froze. The pennies just continued to circle the bin. On and on they went. I wanted nothing more then for the coins to crash into each other and slide down into the belly of the bin so we could just move on with our day. Boundless for what seemed like an eternity, they just continued circling the bin. I finally realized that I was witnessing a perfect demonstration of what the month of February generally feels like. Round and round it goes, like an infinite echo. Continuously stirring the pot to the point where you feel that if change doesn’t happen soon, the month will eventually just swallow you whole.

I often turn off my social switch and go into complete hibernation during this bleak and frigid month. I stay focused on routine and lie low until spring arrives. As time goes by things slowly begin to drag me down; the cold weather, the lack of activity and the depressing stories constantly running in the news and on social media. I get stuck in a little rut and eventually a small spell of depression sets in. I slowly begin to feel like a deeply scratched vinyl record. I’m stuck on repeat and anxiously waiting for someone or something to move the needle forward so I can continue on. February always seems to have this annoying hump that I often find to be very challenging to scale, at least not without a little help. It doesn’t take much, just something positive or uplifting. As soon as a little sunlight is cast onto the month of February, I am easily rejuvenated and ready to conquer the rest of the year, one day at a time.

During that first week of February I found myself standing in the kitchen on a drizzly and brisk overcast afternoon. I was awaiting the soft innocent beep of the coffee pot. As I paced back and forth I looked out into the living room. My youngest son David was playing a game on the Xbox. It was the first time he had played a video game in weeks. Video games generally bring out the worst in my kids, so I had to cut them off cold turkey. I now only let the kids use the Xbox as a desperate act of entertainment every so often. David looked over at me and smiled. I smiled back. As I drank my coffee I began to visualize what things would be like next year, when David is in Kindergarten. Unfortunately this is still a topic that I can’t ponder over for very long before my emotions begin to get the best of me. Sure, I’ll be working more and having plenty of other things on my mind, but not having Little D by my side 24/7 is still somewhat frightening. He’s still so small, with that cute little voice, full of smiles and always asking for daddy. He’ll always be my Little D.

I quickly realized that the month of February was beginning to get to me again. Instead of sitting around and over thinking things, I decided to start taking advantage of the time I have left with David. I marched into the basement and knocked the dust off of all of our baseball equipment. David’s first t-ball practice would be starting in the next 6-8 weeks, so I figured why not get an early start. It wasn’t long before I had our car loaded up with balls, gloves, bats and the batting tee. We put our sweatshirts, jackets and winter hats on and we headed out to Deer Park to start preparing for David’s t-ball season. This immediately became a routine for us each day after preschool. We eventually started going to the field twice a day, so David’s brothers could also take part in practicing after school. Even though the month was just beginning, things were off to a really good start. I think our excitement and energy for the baseball season rubbed off on February, because it wasn’t long before the month began to feel like spring.

As the weeks have progressed, we’ve practiced baseball, met up with friends at the city park, attended a family cookout and went bowling with grandma on President’s Day. We also went to a birthday party and hung out with friends that we haven’t seen in a long time. I attended my son Rylan’s first grade Valentines Day dance, brought our dog Avery to Little D’s preschool for “Pet Day” and one afternoon I even stopped in at my oldest son’s school to have lunch with him. My wife and I managed to set up a date night and I recently managed to spend some time with my sister, who I haven’t hung out with in years. Considering how well the month has gone, I am more than convinced that the report on Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadow on Groundhog’s Day has to be part of the “fake news” conspiracy that the media is feeding to the public. If I’m wrong, well, then that fat little bastard just doesn’t know what he’s talking about and he should probably consider looking for a retirement home for woodchucks. Regardless of how mild the winter has been or what we may be in store for over the next six weeks, spring has indeed arrived early in the Catania household.

Recent changes to my work schedule have also proven to be refreshingly beneficial in battling the month of February. With my Friday nights now open for the first time in years, I noticed that the boys had an upcoming family movie night on their school calendar. When they got home from school that evening, without hesitation, I told them to freshen up and grab their pillows because we were going to family movie night! As long as you come prepared, and can get past the claustrophobia, family movie night can actually be pretty fun. We arrived early and were pleasantly greeted by the polite and helpful students of the SGA. Once we were inside I found a great spot to set up the boys camp. I laid down their blanket, pillows and a small cooler full of snacks, then made my way to the back of the cafeteria to set up my chair. I tucked the boys jackets and shoes under my chair to make sure they didn’t accidentally get kicked around. I sat back sipping my coffee and watching the kids run around while they waited for the movie to start. At first it seemed perfect. It wasn’t even that crowded, which I found very surprising.

As it got closer to movie time, families quickly began to pour into the cafeteria. Every inch of the floor became covered in pillows, blankets, sleeping bags and chairs. From where I was sitting, I barely took up two feet of space. Before I knew it I had families brushed up on all four sides of me. It was like a new form of cancer spreading at record setting numbers. This was definitely old February at its best, trying one last time to open up a can of “whoop ass” on me.

The SGA students announced that the movie would soon be starting, so I motioned for the boys to settle down and get seated at their camp. After the lights went out and the movie began, I nonchalantly glanced at everything hovering around me, briefly evaluating my situation. One family was right up against the back of my chair, awkwardly seated well within the limits of my bubble. In front of me was another family lying on sleeping bags that were draped over my feet. To my side and pushed right up against my chair was a stroller with a toddler sitting in it, staring at me and smelling like rotten popcorn. Since I forgot my cattle prod, my first thought was to weasel my way out of there and pull the damn fire alarm, but that just seemed too drastic. I couldn’t let February win. Instead, I just decided to put on my ear phones. I pulled up my Spotify playlists, and before I knew it, I was sipping my coffee and relaxing to the calming sounds of The Menzingers, Off With Their Heads and The Hard Aches.

Life honestly couldn’t have been any better. My boys were seated on their blanket like angels, sharing their snacks and enjoying the movie. I had my coffee, my punk rock and my cozy chair. Every so often Little D would look back at me and give me a “thumbs up”, letting me know he was doing well. I would smile back at him and return the “thumbs up”. Because they were so well behaved, I eventually caved in and felt the need to buy them each a pack of M&M’s from the SGA kids. The problem was getting the candy to them. There was absolutely no walking space. I simply decided to just fire the candy over the heads of all of the other kids, hitting Rylan in the butt and Evan and David in the back. Afterwards I returned to my chair.

As the movie wound down, I began to feel a hint of remorse. My evening was spent bobbing my head to music, sipping coffee and watching my three little angels enjoy themselves. Meanwhile the parents with all of the wild children and toddlers wandering about were all showing signs of frustration, anger and regret for having attended family movie night. Although these parents were just dealing with the typical aches and pains that often come with the territory, you could still sense a touch of February at its finest in the air. The facial expressions coming from all of these parents were priceless. Despite all of the chaos, movie night was still another valuable weapon that helped fend off the depressing atmosphere that this month always seems to offer.

On a final note, for anyone else who suffers from February depression, the best advice I can give you is to stay active, stay busy and switch up your routine. Take control of February before it takes control of you!

~Anxious & Angry~ Inspired

Thanks Ryan

Seasons Of A Lifetime

With the sweltering summer days officially winding down, it was evident that the transformation to fall would soon be underway. The true shades of autumn had yet to arrive, however the early signs of seasonal change that generally go unnoticed were becoming more apparent. Large green leaves were beginning to break loose from the tall tree behind our neighbor’s home. They would slowly drift down through all of the branches and then float out over the fence, taking residence in our backyard. Every afternoon’s window of humidity continued to shrink. The loud clamoring of the numerous air conditioning units humming up and down our street, often harmonized with the sound of dripping water, suddenly seemed less common. Each day has gradually become more peaceful. The morning sun seems to unfold more sluggishly, while the evenings have become refreshingly crisp and cooler. Nightfall descends upon us much more rapidly than weeks before. My passion for the days of summer is tried and true, but fall always seems to arrive at just the right time.

One evening as I stood on the sideline watching my eight year old son, Evan, work through his drills at Tuesday night football practice, I was slowly becoming irritated. The month of August had been exhausting and frustrating for our entire family to say the least. In that month alone we had made 3 stressful trips to Johns Hopkins Hospital for our youngest son David’s required treatments for his condition. We had visited urgent care on numerous occasions. After working my late shift one week, I spent the following night sitting in the ER with my youngest son for 5 hours. Our luck continued to run out throughout the month, with our refrigerator breaking down, our microwave going up and the electricity in our downstairs bathroom mysteriously cutting off. My two oldest sons came down with a nasty bug right before school started, which lead to one of them having to miss their first two days of school. To top it all off, my wife was working a ridiculous amount of hours. Our last real date night was in December of 2015, so needless to say, I was becoming mentally and emotionally exhausted.

Watching my son’s football practices usually helps me relax for a few hours, but on this night, even that wasn’t going well. Evan was still slightly drained after having just recovered from a 48 hour bug. As he moderately resumed practicing throughout the week, not returning to full pads until this evening, he still just didn’t seem like himself. He wasn‘t focused, often forgetting to put in his mouth piece and continuously hesitating before every tackle or play. I was honestly worried he was going to get hurt. Each water break I would ask him how he felt and give him some advice on what he needed to improve on if he wanted to have a successful practice. As practice began to wind down, he just seemed more and more out of place. Instead of getting childishly upset or shouting at him, like some of the parents do to their children, I decided to just start packing up my chair and gathering my things. I could sense that Evan knew I was frustrated with him, so I thought it would be better to just take a break. As the sun sank rapidly and the field lights lazily powered on, the team began their tackle drills. Knowing that this was just going to frustrate me even more, as well as stress Evan out, I began carrying our things back to our car.

After packing everything up, I briefly leaned against the front bumper of my car while checking the text messages and emails on my cell phone. A few minutes later I began to hear cheering. I looked up to see the players and their families beginning to disperse from the football field. Practice was over. As the field quickly emptied, I had trouble locating Evan for a moment. I finally noticed the silhouette of a small football player standing at the bottom corner of the field. With his helmet lying on the ground and his voice sounding heartbroken and filled with disappointment, he yelled to me….“Where were you?!”…..“You missed the best tackles I’ve made ALL season!!!”

If there was ever a time for a dad to feel like he just let his son down, this was definitely it. Apparently Evan decided to put everything he had into the final drills of the day, motivating and impressing his teammates and coaches, but most importantly for him, trying to please his dad. I originally thought I was being thoughtful by just walking away. Instead of being the type of dad who constantly screams at his son like a drill sergeant, I decided to walk away so Evan wouldn’t feel so much pressure. Now, the more I think back, I also walked away to hide my own frustration, which probably came off as just plain selfish. I should have just supported my son by keeping his spirit and confidence high. I could have just bottled up all of that frustration in a jar and thrown it out to sea. I could analyze every should-have/could-have scenario until I am blue in the face, but the reality of it all is I simply screwed up.

Evan is the type of son that is obsessed with wanting to be like dad. My favorite bands and movies are his favorite bands and movies. Whether it’s football or baseball, games or practices, anytime Evan makes a good play, he always looks to me over on the sideline for some sort of positive fatherly feedback. Anytime he has the opportunity to do something with me, without his brothers, you can see the sparkle in his eyes. It doesn’t matter what we do, from sports, to chores, simply going for a walk, grocery shopping, etc…etc….Evan always wants to be my little mini me. In short, he makes me feel like Michael Jordan, and that’s exactly what made this moment at the football field so hard to swallow. The day when he no longer looks at me as his idol is not far off, and when that day comes, I sometimes wonder if I’ll feel like I gave him enough attention. Unfortunately, when you have three sons, your one on one attention time is often limited, so you tend to use it sparingly.

With his tears causing the eye black on his cheeks to slowly run down his face, I stood before my little boy, completely speechless. There was no walking or talking my way out of this situation. Who knows how long it would be before he no longer looked over to me on the sideline after each play he makes, before he no longer wanted to be like dad. As all of the other families packed up their cars and pulled out of the parking lot, Evan and I stood at bottom of the football field. With my arms wrapped around my son, I simply apologized. Fortunately for me, this came at a time, a season, in my little man‘s life, when hugs and ordering a pizza for dinner would help clear dad’s name by the following day. Next time, dad might not be so lucky.

After the large green leaves break loose from the trees in our backyards, they slowly drift down through all of the branches and float out over the fence. Sometimes these moments completely pass us by. Just as easy as neglecting the beauty of seasonal change, there are many significant occasions that our children experience that are often overlooked, or missed out on, by us as parents. Let us always remind ourselves, that those moments in our little one’s lives are like seasons……seasons which take place……once in a lifetime.

The Infamous “Middle Child”

With his handsome long cut brown hair and his gorgeously glowing hazel eyes, my little man is nothing short of a prince. His voice is soft and sweet, his laugh always warms my heart. He can be very social, but at times his personality can completely clash with other personalities, like oil and water. Always marching to the beat of his own drum, he likes to stick to routine. When he comes home from school he has a snack, talks to me about his day and then we sit together working on his 10 minutes of reading. He carefully sounds out each word, making sure his pronunciation is correct. He doesn’t like to be wrong. When he makes a mistake, he often takes advice or being corrected as an insult. Whenever he is tired, even if his brothers are still awake, he tells me he is ready for bed.

He’s quite imaginative, rarely needing the same around the clock entertainment that his two brothers often crave. When lying on the floor playing with his matchbox cars or trains, he carefully focuses on what makes the wheels turn. He can be moody and even come off as bossy at times. He can easily become frustrated, his confidence and self esteem tend to go up and down like a roller coaster. He can be very stubborn, intentionally not doing what I tell him to do. At times it almost becomes a game between the two of us. For example, I may repeatedly say, “Mommy and daddy are tired, it’s time to brush your teeth and go to bed.” Or maybe I‘ll say, “Please go help your brothers clean their room!.” Just to get under my skin, he‘ll intentionally move slower, or just sit and do nothing. However, when I say “Fine, don’t go brush you teeth!”, or “Don’t go clean your room, I want it to remain messy, that’s how I like it.”…with an evil grin on his cute little face, he’ll quickly march off to go brush his teeth or clean his room. This unique little boy I speak of is my second born son, Rylan James Catania, aka, the infamous “middle child”.

When my oldest son, Evan, was born, everything he did seemed very challenging to me, most likely because I was a first time dad. Now that I think back though, every stage that my first born son went through seemed very rudimentary. He ate good. He slept though the night by the time he was three months old. He was climbing out of his crib and walking at an early age. He had the typical toddler temper tantrums when he wanted something. He was fully potty trained just before he turned 3 years old. To be honest, there really wasn’t too much to be stressed out about.

Rylan, on the other hand, has resembled an extremely frustrating Rubik‘s Cube since the day he was born. The first sign was the night terrors he had as a baby. Months and months of my little boy waking up in the middle of the night, screaming in a state of panic. My wife and I would always take turns running the graveyard shift. Every night, between 2am and 5am, we’d spend hours singing him songs or rocking him back and forth to the soft sounds of the sprout channel playing on our living room television. Eventually he would calm down and go back to sleep. Rylan finally outgrew his 6 month phase of night terrors. As he began peacefully sleeping throughout the night, I suddenly felt that I had developed a close bond with him.

As time went on, each and every stage Rylan has gone through has always presented me with a new challenge. From his night terrors and being the picky little eater he is, to the long uphill battle with potty training that lasted almost two years, nothing has ever been simple with this child. In all honesty, if Rylan would have been my first child, he also may have been my last child. Fortunately I had already been broken in as a dad by the time Rylan came along. Although he presented me with many new challenges as a father, he helped me develop one of the most important attributes any parent could have. PATIENCE.

Now, at seven years old, Rylan has made drastic improvements over the years. He still has his moments of being difficult on a regular basis, but keeping him active and having occasional one on one time with mom or dad have all played a significant role in helping him with his confidence and self esteem issues. Three years ago if you would have told me that Rylan was still going to be doing karate in 2016 as well as playing his first year of t-ball and flag football, I would have laughed. Over time I’ve witnessed many signs indicating that we’ve definitely had Rylan headed in the right direction, but the reality of it all became official last fall.

During his second flag football game Rylan accidentally knocked heads with another player, which lead to tears. He pulled himself together and finished the game. That was HUGE in itself. At home, later that night, I was sitting on the edge of my bed when Rylan walked into the room. I let him know how great of a job he did in his game earlier that day and how proud I was of him. He looked up at me and quietly said, “You know, that really hurt today dad….at the game….but, I’m not giving up.”

Completely speechless, with my eyes popping out of my head, I had to reach around on the floor to find my jaw! This was groundbreaking for Rylan! Hearing those words come from Rylan almost brought me to tears. Any other time, Rylan would have said he didn‘t want to play ever again. Not only did he finish the game…..he then repeated the words that I had been trying to teach him since he was three years old. “I’M NOT GIVING UP”. Hearing him say those words meant more to me than anything he could ever do on the field. In my book, Rylan had just won the Super Bowl!

Whenever I’m sharing one of my Rylan stories with other parents, I often hear similar responses, like, “Oh, he must be the middle child.” At first I used buy in to everyone’s theory about the infamous “middle child”. As time went by though, I began developing my own way of speaking to Rylan. His emotions and ways of dealing with things runs differently then his brothers. Like any child, he has things about him that he may excel at, and he also has things about him that need improvement. The “middle child” theory just sounds like an excuse for the parents that can’t accept the fact that kids can be different. Instead of always referring to them as, “The Middle Child”, maybe more parents should work on adjusting themselves to their little one’s needs. We all want our kids to grow up well mannered, open minded and with a positive attitude…..but we have to remember, they aren’t supposed to be clones. Their minds work differently. Their emotions work differently. We have to adapt to each child individually. We have to be patient.

At times, his attitude can be like nails on a chalkboard, off-putting to the point that it almost causes me anxiety. On the other hand, his crafty way with big words can suddenly turn a dull evening at the dinner table into a night at the Improv. Whether he’s purposely agitating his family just to get a reaction, or peacefully sitting in his bedroom, playing with legos and quietly singing to himself…..Rylan is always going to be my little box of chocolates. He’s sweet…..but…..you never know what you’re going to get.

Love you for being you little man!

Never Give Up Rylan!

Martin & the Pencil Pouch

School season is about to take off again. Things are a little more hectic than usual this year. Our oldest son is moving on to third grade while playing his first season of tackle football. Our “middle” son is moving up to first grade while playing his first season of flag football. Our youngest son will be attending his last year of preschool while dealing with on and off treatments at Johns Hopkins for a condition he has. Despite all of the distractions, the boys still have that build up of jumpy excitement and curiosity as the first day of school approaches.

Anxious butterflies, followed by feeling slightly apprehensive as to what the new school year might have in store, probably sums it up best for most kids. When it comes to making new friends and being accepted, preschool and early elementary school are naturally more welcoming than middle and high school. With that being said, you still can’t help but worry about your little one’s, wishing nothing more than happiness and acceptance for them. You want them to treat others how they would want to be treated. Pondering over these times in a child’s life has made me recollect a moment from my own youth, remembering how sometimes the simplest things can calm the nerves and help you feel accepted. It made me think of an old classmate of mine.

It was fall of 1986, my mother had remarried over the summer and we had just moved to the town of Linwood, MD. Linwood was more or less just a street in the middle of nowhere. I was getting ready to start 6th grade at New Windsor middle school. The school was made up of kids mostly from two different elementary schools. I’m sure I wasn’t the only oddball thrown into the mix, but for the most part, everyone seemed like they had a few friends in different places. Middle school can be tough no matter what, but the fact that this was now my third school in three years didn’t make things any easier.

At first I thought this might be an easy adjustment since I had already switched schools before, but this time something was different. This time I honestly felt out of place…stressed about being accepted. Maybe it was just because I was now officially dealing with “Middle School”, a time when clicks were well underway. Maybe it was just because I was new to the entire surrounding area. Maybe it was a little of both. . Either way, I simply had this feeling that this time it wasn’t going to be easy.

On the first day of school I headed into Mrs. Case‘s homeroom. Everyone was already quietly seated and facing the chalkboard. My desk was in the middle of one of the first two rows. As I sat down at my desk, Mrs. Case asked the class to take out a pencil. Up until this point I had not met a single person, not a single “Hello”, or “Hi, what’s your name?”. I opened my notebook and reached for the zipper on my plastic pencil pouch. As I unzipped it, an annoyingly loud and goofy sound was suddenly emitted from my desk, probably because the pencil pouch wasn’t broken in yet. The loud sound caused a few laughs from around the classroom and even drew me a long glance from the teacher, so I froze in complete embarrassment. With a lowered head, I turned and noticed the expression on the face of the kid sitting right next to me. He was still staring at my pencil pouch, in complete shock, like it was something from outer space. Seconds later, after trading a few silly comments, we were both laughing so hard we could barely breath. The kid’s name was Martin.

I was quickly becoming comfortable…all because of that one brief moment I had with the kid sitting next to me in my new homeroom. Middle school still had its ups and downs….but for some reason that little instant with the pencil pouch and seeing Martin’s expression just seemed to be the ice breaker I needed. It’s a shame that school can be so intimidating at times, but sometimes it’s the smallest things that help make kids feel welcome.

Unfortunately I had little time to get to know Martin. That year we only had the opportunity to chat in homeroom and occasionally share a few laughs at lunch time. Shortly after 6th grade, Martin was diagnosed with Leukemia. He died before we finished middle school. I’ll still never forget the day our principle came into our homeroom to break the news.

Despite having been taken from his family and friends long before getting the opportunity to experience life….Martin freeze framed an important moment for me during my childhood. I learned that sometimes the smallest of all things can make the “new kid” sitting next to you in class feel welcome. As I progressed through school over the years, I always continued that tradition. There would always be new faces and personalities to meet on the first day of school. Doing something as simple as cracking a joke or complimenting someone on how cool their new shoes were could end up making a new classmate’s day better. Each year I share this story with my three boys before school starts, so they too can pass on the act of kindness I learned from Martin.

As the new school year begins, I hope every child out there has a Martin sitting next to them in their new homeroom. If you don’t, then maybe you could pass on Martin’s kindness by making the nervous new classmate sitting beside you smile on his or her first day of school.

R.I.P ~Martin Busch~

David & The Little Blonde Girl

Curiosity leads to questions, especially in children. My three year old son David was born with what was originally diagnosed as hemangioma. After his first surgery his diagnosis was later changed to a venous malformation on his upper lip. David, along with his two brothers and I, have all been asked many questions about his lip ever since he was born. Occasionally we are asked questions from adults, but most of the time we are asked by children, which is to be expected. Many children have asked about David’s lip in a sweet, polite manor. Others have asked more rudely, pointing and staring before saying, “what’s wrong with your kid’s face?”….which is then followed by them telling their friends to go look. David has a long road ahead of him and that coincided with the fact that kids can be mean in general can make growing up even more challenging for him. I don’t mind answering these questions about David‘s condition when asked. To be honest, I actually enjoy it. The better something is explained to a child, the better they seem to receive it.

Growing up in today’s world has become tougher and tougher on kids. A situation that I’ve long been dreading recently unfolded and because of the world we live in, I always knew this moment was predetermined for David. One afternoon I took Rylan and David to Chick-fil-A. After we ate lunch I let the boys play in the jungle gym area for a bit. Being raised in a house with two older brothers, and now attending his first year of preschool, David has become much more social with other kids. While playing in the jungle gym David walked up to a group of about 4 or 5 kids. The group consisted of a few girls and a few boys, most ranging between the ages of 4 to 6. I noticed that one of the little girls, probably between 4 or 5 years old and wearing the cutest dress along with a little flower in her blonde hair, had been moving around with a set of crutches apparently due to a battle with spina bifida. Despite her condition, this tough little girl could move around the jungle gym full of wild children as good as any other kid.

David stood there, excited to get to know and play with the other children. The little girl with the flower in her hair gave David a second glance just before asking him, in the cutest little voice, “What happened to your lip?” Not really sure how to reply yet, David just jumped around in excitement, wanting to play. Then, a boy standing nearby said to David, “You have a monkey face”. Several of the other kids joined in, repeatedly chanting, “you have a monkey face, you have a monkey face”.

The little blonde girl looked around at the other kids with a somewhat frightened look on her face, a look that clearly read that she had seen this kind of immature behavior before. Finally, her expression turned angry and she shouted, “Guys, you’re NOT being nice!” As the kids finished their teasing….my other son Rylan had just come down the slide, showing up right beside David and putting his arm around his little brother‘s shoulder. I could tell that he sensed something was wrong and decided to come to his brothers aid. Fortunately all of the other children were now ready to run off and start playing again. David turned around and ran back to sit next to me for the next few minutes. Although he may not have completely understood what was going on, I think he had an idea.

The little blonde girl came over to me a few minutes later to ask about David’s lip. She listened closely as I explained it to her. She then explained everything to me about her battle with spina bifida. Incredibly intelligent, happy and self confident…..chatting with this little girl made my day. It’s a shame that more children can’t be raised to be as kind hearted and understanding as that adorable little blonde girl. I constantly remind my three boys that they can always ask me about anything they have trouble understanding, anytime or anywhere. Sometimes I share these stories with them so they can understand these situations and know how to react.

Recently I felt like I was rewarded with proof that I am raising my boys well. One afternoon Rylan and David were playing at the city park with a little girl and her baby brother whom they had just met. The girl, who was about Rylan’s age, appeared to have a severe case of hemangioma on the side of her face. The boys had a blast playing with her until it was time to go. When we left Rylan waved goodbye to the other kids, and with a huge smile on his face, he simply said to me, “I made a new friend today daddy!”.

And that’s how it should be…

Illusions To Revive Feelings Of Being Thankful

I was 34 years old…again…and visiting my grandmother for a Thanksgiving dinner. As I was helping her set the table, the two of us were having an enjoyable conversation. Then, the atmosphere in the room suddenly took a dark turn. My grandmother’s demeanor became firm as she began telling me how much I had broken her heart and how she always had higher hopes and expectations for me in life. She didn’t understand why I was still single, living in an apartment and working a dead end job. She reassured me that she still loved me more than anything. She just wanted to see me happy. My grandmother then left the room….that was the last I saw of her.

I stood in her dining room alone, completely thrown off. Not only did I not see that curveball coming, I always thought I was happy…my mind started racing. I didn’t realize how much time had gone by in my life. I WAS in my mid 30’s. I WAS still single. I WAS still working a dead end job. What did I have to show for myself? What did my grandmother have to be proud of? I stood there, with a dish towel hung over my shoulder, my mind and stomach slowly becoming overwhelmed by a sudden panic attack. I then slowly blacked out.

When I awoke I was staring at the filing cabinet next to my bed. My stomach was still turning from the haunting reality that my grandmother had just presented to me. I began to squirm, wondering what was going on, trying to get a grasp on everything. I then felt something warm on my shoulder and heard the soothing sound of breathing next to my ear. I turned my head to see my three year old son David sleeping next to me, his head resting on my shoulder. My feet were finally back on the ground. It was just a dream…a nightmare.

My mind hasn’t deceived me like that in years. It was all so vivid that I honestly had to take a few minutes to walk it off. As the day went on, I couldn’t stop thinking about my boys. I was feeling thankful for everything in my life, good or bad. Despite how exhausting being a parent can be, I felt guilty about ever complaining about a single thing. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Taking care of Jen and our three amazing boys is a high that I will hold on to for eternity. The more I thought about it though, the more I feared the future.

David is less than two years away from elementary school…a time when a child’s day is mostly spent learning in the social atmosphere of classmates and teachers. Don’t get me wrong, I love the hectic run around life of Evan and Rylan being active between school events and sports…But what happens after David joins that world? The real years of “daddy daycare” will officially be over. My days of watching the boys walk for the first time, potty training, changing diapers, naptimes, singing nursery rhymes, teaching them punk rock, breaking open the band-aid’s, trips to the park, wrestling in every room of the house, watching kid movies, teaching them how to ride bikes and cutting up bananas will be nothing but a memory. Evan, Rylan and David have been my best friends over the past 6 years, they’ve been my everything. It’s going to be hard, I already know.

I’ll still be taking care of the boys and pretty much continuing all of the house chores, while picking up more hours at work, if not also picking up a second job, and I’m fine with that. I just fear that moment when it all becomes a reality. The thought of bringing up the laundry basket from the basement and seeing an empty living room frightens me. I’ve had days when I’d be so wrapped up with chores that one of the boys would play themselves to sleep. I’d find them passed out on the living room floor with a toy still in their hand. Instead of taking advantage of that free time, I’d almost always stop working, pick them up, walk them over to the sofa and sit down with their head on my shoulder and just listen to them sleep. Other days, I would let myself fall behind in my housework, and instead, spend every waking moment of the day playing with them until we’d pass out together. I can’t imagine not having that in my life anymore. Moments like those are the best feelings in the world.

Time goes by fast. It feels like it was just yesterday when I made my “take this job and shove it” statement at work, went part time and became primary care giver for my family. That was almost 6 years ago. My little blond blue eyed Evan was only 2 years old. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting myself into…but to this day…it was still one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Things have been stressful and frustrating over the past few weeks, with all of the boys being sick on and off…frustrating to the point that I think I was beginning to lose sight of things. Thanks for that reality check dream Grandma. I always knew you were keeping an eye on me.

Whether times are good or bad….savor each and every moment Moms & Dads…they are our everything.

Weekends & Family Time, A Blast From The Past

It was music to my ears when the bell would ring each Friday afternoon at William Winchester Elementary. All of my classmates would be telling each other “have a good weekend”, or “see you next week”. The weekend meant anything was possible; time to yourself, time with friends and most importantly, family time. It almost felt like a weekly holiday. I would savor every second of the weekend, all the way up until Monday morning. Monday morning meant waking up with eye boogies, quickly getting dressed, eating some cereal and then running to the car to be dropped off at the bus stop. I loathed two things about Monday mornings; the weekend was over and the radio stations would always play a line-up of 80’s songs that reflected the misery of Mondays or songs about rain.

As a child, when the weekend rolled around, two things were certain; sleeping in for my parents and Saturday morning cartoons for my sister and I. We would wake up early on Saturday mornings and walk out to the living room carrying our pillows and blankets. With me wearing my matchbox pj’s and my sister in her wonder women, we’d camp out on the floor until noon, watching cartoons on the giant wood framed family television. The scent of coffee would slowly make it’s way from the kitchen, down the steps and into the downstairs living room. Eventually the sound of sizzling bacon and eggs would make it official that everyone was awake.

Like a drill sergeant, loud and direct, my father would announce, “breakfast!!”. The man was easily offended if you didn’t make it to the kitchen table while steam was still pouring from the plates. We’d race upstairs to wolf down breakfast, then run to our rooms to get dressed and head back to our pillows in the living room to watch the last of the Saturday morning cartoons. When the morning news took over all of the television stations, that was our sign to head outside. Most of the time we’d roam around our neighborhood on our bikes looking for friends to hang out with or mischief to get into.

Later in the afternoon, we’d sometimes fly kites with our parents. Other times we’d go for a family walk around the neighborhood, stopping here and there to talk to close friends and other families . On busy weekends, we’d sometimes go fishing, visit my grandparents for a day of swimming or sometimes just hop in the car and drive somewhere, anywhere. Weekends were a pleasant break from the hustle and bustle of the hectic work/school week. A weekend was the perfect prescription to help keep a family strong. These were the early 1980’s. Unfortunately my family needed a stronger prescription, because those years were short lived, with my parents splitting up when I was in fourth grade.

Oh, how the times have changed. These days, a weekend off only happens on vacation time. Cartoons run 24 hours a day , 7 days a week on dozens of channels. As far as a quiet neighborhood for my kids to use their imaginations and adventure off into…..the strangers that regularly wander our sidewalks and alleys and the cars racing up and down the street are a bit of a turn off. Family time seemed so much simpler 30 years ago.

These days time together isn’t handed out on a silver platter like it once was. Family time has to be carefully planned, and even when it is, it doesn’t always work out. My family generally has Sundays off together, however, more often than not, we have an itinerary that revolves around the schedule of others. Whether it’s cookouts, birthdays, holidays, play dates, chores or friend/family get-togethers, whatever the circumstances, many of the 52 Sundays throughout the year are spent running around. With family and friends so widely spread, it sometimes feels like a game of football. My family makes up the offensive line and we are all trying to protect our Sunday off.

Yesterday was a simpler time, but also quite possibly a weaker time. The quote, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, is true to it’s words. Today, despite the struggle, we are a strong family. What makes us a strong family is our drive. Our family is like a team, a team competing for a giant golden trophy. That giant golden trophy is really a day off together in disguise. Each time we win that “trophy“, it just makes us hungry for more. More importantly, while in the midst of each days challenging itinerary, we always try to manage and incorporate a good variety of winding down, talking about our days, being active but also being silly and making time for each other.

The demise of my childhood family was for reasons beyond my control. My only remorse when looking back is remembering how spoiled we once were, always having long weekends together that were brimming with family time. We were blessed with a gift, but yet still unable to endure the trials and tribulations of surviving as a family. Family time may not be as common or easy to come by as it once was, but, it is clearly something I will never take for granted.

Signals From The Son

Every so often I get signals from my boys. The signals are expressed differently by each child, but they are indeed signals. The child giving off these signals is telling me that they need attention and that I need slow down and spend some extra special time with them. Between my wife’s s crazy work schedule, my three night shifts, school, chores, appointments, sports, etc..etc…it’s easy to lose track of who hasn’t had quality time with mom or dad in a while.

The other evening I had to be up for work at 2am. I was desperately trying to clean up dinner, get the boys in their pj’s and get settled down in our bedroom with a new movie. I figured the movie would help the kids calm down and give me an opportunity to close my eyes for a few minutes. I rented “How to Train Your Dragon 2”. Jen came home from work and joined us about 20 minutes into the movie. As I closed my eyes and attempted to drift off to sleep, our 3 year old, David, became very wound up; jumping around, climbing on his brothers and just annoying all of us. I tried to sleep through it……but finally the fighting between David and his brother Rylan was just too much. Halfway through the movie my wife and I finally couldn’t take it anymore. We were tired. We told the boys we’d finish the movie tomorrow.

Rylan and David could have cared less and just walked out of the room. Evan hopped off the bed and started to walk through the doorway with his head down. I stopped him and said, “Ev, I didn’t turn the movie off because of you. You were being wonderful. Mom and Dad just need some sleep.” He motioned that he understood, but he still looked very sad. I called him over again to let him know we would finish the movie when I got home from work in the morning. I asked him what was wrong. He turned around and leaned up on the bed. His eyes were squinting and becoming watery. His lips started to droop down. While fighting through his emotions, he said to me, “It’s not that you turned the movie off…” Suddenly his emotions took control of him and he broke down into tears. He then said, “it’s because the little boys daddy died!”

Evan had been quietly engrossed in the movie the entire time. Apparently I had turned the movie off right after the big Viking father was killed. Evan knows the difference between movies and reality, we’ve had those talks before. He just has this huge heart and he doesn’t deal well when seeing something happen to a mom or dad even in a movie. But I also think moments like these occur from time to time because of our crazy schedules. Long days at school, mom always coming and going and dad always doing chores and trying to keep everyone happy on half sleep. With all of the chaos, he probably sometimes feels alone.

During my shift at work that evening, I couldn’t help but think about how badly I wanted to get home to my little Evan in the morning. Before I came home I bought 3 “As Seen on TV” giant Snackeez Cups for each of my boys, for future movie nights. The boys are fortunately still at an age where even the smallest of surprises still gets them excited.

Once I got home, I went through my morning routine and then spent a few hours cleaning the house. When I finished, I rewound some of the movie from the night before, so I could see the scene that had upset Evan so much. Afterwards I called Evan up so we could finish the movie together. We then had a father and son conversation and finished up with a big wrestling match on the bed.

Later that night we all had a nice lazy Saturday evening, camping out in the living room together. As my wife drifted off to sleep on the sofa with David, my other son Rylan asked me if I could carry him up to bed. Evan was still watching the movie that was on. I tucked Rylan in and laid with him for a bit (because he wanted me to and because I was too exhausted to say no). I fell asleep for about an hour. When I woke up I found David asleep in his bed, my wife asleep in our bedroom……and Evan asleep on the living room sofa. I turned off the movie that was playing, threw him up over my shoulder and carried him to his bed. He snored the entire way up to his room.

My oldest son, with his huge heart of gold, growing so fast and always wanting to be like dad. It had been ages since I’ve carried him up to bed. It wasn’t easy, especially considering he is now over half of my height, but I enjoyed the moment. For a few seconds, my little man felt like my baby boy again. Life often takes control of us, and sometimes it’s not so easy to regain control. Sometimes we need to stop, put everything on hold and regain order. We need to take in moments like these, for ourselves and for our families, to remember why we started this topsy-turvy parenting lifestyle to begin with.

~I Love You Evan~

Memories: The Little Things That Shape Us

The mind has always had an uncanny ability to pull up detailed images and sounds from the past.  Many of these images and sounds are recorded with high precision despite having very brief exposure.  It’s similar to how an SLR works.  When recording something by memory, the mind’s shutter goes off at random moments, storing an  assortment of sounds and images onto a chip, and then storing that chip in an album in the brain for later use, and sometimes, for no use at all.  These memories usually include different categories of feelings or emotion: happy, sad, angry, confusion, admiration, regret, etc..etc.

My mind has worked like that ever since my early elementary school years.  That could be one reason why I eventually became interested in photography.  However, before all of the photo apps, fancy photo editing programs and ongoing advancement of photo technology….my main love for picking up a camera was for the memories.  That was my trademark phrase every time I poked my camera in front of a friend’s face, “Hey, it’s all about the memories man.”  When using the memory of an electrical device, you have the choice of storing or deleting any memory you choose, but at the expense of capturing less detail.    When using the mind’s memory, you are allotted more space for detail, but often you lose the option to delete.

Of course, we can’t live our lives on memories, but at the same time, where would we be without them.  I have memories that take me back to a time that was bad, a time I wish I could  let go.  Other memories take me back to a time that was happy, a time that I miss.  Some memories are brief and randomly chosen moments when I simply witnessed another person’s reality.  That moment may have had nothing to do with me but it still left me with concern and wonder, feelings I could never forget.    Sometimes memories better us as a person.  Sometimes memories haunt us like a demon.  Memories make us who we are.

I often wonder what kind of memories my children will have as they grow to adulthood.  Their minds are like innocent little sponges.  Something as simple as harsh words could be enough to be a lifelong memory that they will never forget.  Life is tough.  Unfortunately, to journey through life without a single battle scar of the mind is unrealistic.

Back when I was 10 years old, I remember being extremely excited after opening up a pack of baseball cards one day.  I had just found one of the last cards I needed to complete my baseball card set.  It was the card of Montreal Expos starting pitcher Pascual Perez.  With a huge smile on my face, I raced up to my father to show him the card.  He held the card up close to his thick glasses, then nonchalantly replied, “Wow, that is one ugly ….(racist word)”.  He then handed the baseball card back to me.  His expression was blank, his voice void of any emotion, the words just rolled off of his tongue without a care in the world.  I remember just staring at him, completely thrown off guard.  I couldn’t understand why a person would ever say such a thing. Why would he choose to say something like that at this very moment?  Why would he say that to his son?  I remember thinking to myself, the world needs less people like him.  Despite that being my very own father, and a memory I’d like to forget, it helped teach me something.  It taught me that I can still love my father, but I don’t have to be like him.  Even though that memory presented me with a positive message, it is still a memory I’ve always wished I could erase.

When I was 14, my baseball team traveled to New Midway for a game one evening .  It was a high scoring game, with each team taking over the lead many times.  Late in the game it was my turn to bat again.  The bases were loaded.  From the moment I set my eyes on the pitcher it was almost like time completely froze.  Hardly able to see, with the sun glaring right into my eyes, I swung at the first pitch, slicing it down the right field line.  As I was rounding first base I suddenly noticed a small white object land on the other side of the fence.  I had just hit my first grand slam, my only grand slam.  The sound of the crowd combined with the sight of my teammates celebrating at home plate created a roller coaster of emotions inside of me that is too complicated to put into words.  A few innings later, as I placed one foot into the batters box to prepare for my last at bat, I heard a voice behind me quietly say, “It’s the grand slam kid”.  I looked behind the umpire, and on the other side of the fence there was a kid wearing a New Midway baseball team uniform.  Peering between the wire fence squares that made up the home plate backstop, he grinned, then nodded his head at me, as if offering a gesture of respect or congratulations.   I wondered why there weren’t more kids in the world that played with that kind of sportsmanship.  A random kid that I only saw for a few seconds ended up as a lifelong role model to me.  He always had a place in my mind and in my heart as I grew up.

When I was 19, I was working part time at a grocery store one cold and rainy fall evening.   It was late rush hour and already dark outside.   The store was busy with many customers stopping in on their way home from work.  In the midst of all of the traffic around the store, I heard the sound of an upset child.  The screaming continued to get louder and louder.  It was finally so loud that I had to see what was going on for myself.  I spotted a middle aged mother pushing a shopping cart with a toddler in the front seat.  The child, who appeared to be 2 years old, maybe younger, was having a complete panic attack.  Maybe the child had not been feeling good or possibly just exhausted and extra cranky.  I remember the mother would  push the cart six feet, stop to hold and talk to the child for a moment, then push the cart another 6 feet and do the same again.  At different points all around the store I saw this woman off to the side, trying to control an incredibly upset child while attempting to continue her shopping.  Each time I passed the mother I noticed how her patience was wearing thin.  Everything she did had absolutely no effect at calming her child.  I started hearing tears in her voice.  She stopped in a far corner of the store and completely broke down.  In complete frustration and tears I heard her begging the child to tell her what was wrong.  She stood there, holding her screaming child against her chest, alone, helpless and in tears.  It bothered me.  It bothered me that she let herself get to that point.  It bothered me that nobody lent her a hand or even a shoulder to cry on.  I wanted to help, but my first thought was what could a punk 19 year old grocery employee do for her?  I didn’t know anything about kids yet. I just knew I never wanted to be in her shoes.  To this day, almost 20 years later, I still wonder if that mother and child’s day got any better, if they made it home ok.

From time to time I have moments with each of my boys, moments when I feel like I can hear the sound of their very own shutter going off in their head.  I truly believe that the more happy moments captured by a child’s shutter, the happier they will grow into adulthood.   Whether it’s having conversations with my 6 year old while laying on the backyard trampoline and admiring the stars in the sky, or just simply sitting in front of the computer and singing songs with my 4 year old, sometimes the smallest of all things can send our children off to bed at night with happy thoughts.

One night I invited my son Evan to join me in running out to pick up an order of Chinese food.  It was extremely humid outside and a giant storm was getting ready to come crashing down.  The storm broke out seconds after we paid for our food.  We stepped outside of the restaurant and decided to wait out the storm before trying to head back to the car.  We stood under the overhang of the restaurant and just listened to the thunder and watched the rain slam down across the shopping center.  The storm continued to come down harder and harder.  We finally sat down and shared an egg roll while watching rain explode off of the ground and water flow down the streets.  After having a nice conversation, we finally gave up and decided to make a run for it.  While tripping over giant puddles and basically having an ocean of rain dumped on us, we made the best of our situation.  We laughed, screamed and goofed off in the rain until we finally reached our car and quickly jumped in.  We were soaked from head to toe.  As we shook it off and got the car running the storm immediately stopped and the sun came out again.  My son and I just looked at each other in disbelief.  We then started laughing, laughing so hard we couldn’t even catch our breath.  Whenever reminiscing about memories, Evan often mentions that evening.  I knew on that very same day that Evan had just spent some quality time with his father, time he would never forget.  I heard his “happy” shutter go off.  Those are the moments that count.

Although few and far between, there are also moments I hope my boys can forget, but inside, I fear the damage has already been done.  Several years ago I got into a huge shouting match with my often confrontational neighbor, a shouting match that almost ended in punches being thrown.   I’m sure Rylan and David were far too young to remember that incident.  As for my oldest son, Evan, I could see the look in his eyes.  It was like déjà vu.  His expression reminded me of myself on the day when my father had made that comment about the baseball card.   I felt like those two minutes between my neighbor and I had been permanently branded on Evan’s memory with an iron.  To this day I still regret every second of it.

“Please don’t dwell over that memory too much son….“Superdad” or not, every father still makes mistakes.”

We are all built from memories, some good, some bad and some random.   The bad can scar us, but also, sometimes educate and toughen us as well.  In the end, my goal is to raise three boys who go through life with the good memories far outweighing the bad.  If something positive could come from that incident between my neighbor and I…..hopefully it will be my son telling himself that even though he loves his dad, he doesn‘t always need to be like him.

~ I Love You Boys ~