M is for Mom….

Mother’s day was founded in 1908. Its reverence came to fruition after Anna Jarvis held a memorial celebration in honor of her mother Ann Reeves Jarvis at St. Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton West Virginia. Anna had begun campaigning for the holiday a year after her mother a well-known peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War died. Ann also created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues within the community. Anna wanted to honor her mother along with honoring every mother out there for as she stated they were “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”.

In 1908 The US Congress rejected a Mother’s Day proposal joking they would also need to honor a “Mother in Laws Day”! Yet through persistence and a need to recognize the extraordinary efforts by Anna’s mother Ann, by 1911 all US States began to observe Mother’s Day as an official holiday.

No matter its origins, Mother’s Day is upon us once again. A holiday that in my opinion has become less about its true intentions and more about commercialization, much like Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

Mother’s day for me is not about just saying Happy Mother’s day to my mom. Although due to my extremely hectic life that is about all my poor mom gets as of late. A woman who deserves only the utmost of respect for all the dread I put her through. It is about taking a moment to recognize not only all mom has done for you, but all she has not done for you as well. It is the things mom hasn’t done for you that have built and developed your character into what it is today. Yes she does so much to ease your life’s miniscule burdens simply by being your mother. But it is the hard choices you make on your own, the times she isn’t there as a crutch to lean on, but is a phone call away to listen, leaving you to your own devices without interfering that make all the difference in the world. It is about allowing you to become you with nothing more than a look or facial expression that needs no words. There isn’t a mom alive that cannot change a young man’s course with nothing more than an MMMMMHHHMMMM or what were you thinking tone in her voice, all while allowing you to believe you made the correction in course all on your own. Our moms are the planet for which we orbit. Without them we would be lost.

Mother’s day for me is also about everyone else’s mom as well.

You see I wouldn’t be the man I am today without a hoard of surrogate mothers grabbing me by the ear, sitting me down to chew my ass, or giving me a hug when I needed it most. The moms who fed us after school without so much as a complaint, helped us with our homework because we were together as friends! A group of scraggly hoodlums helping each other out and that made these moms smile. It was the mom’s that approved of me dating their daughters and believe it or not it was also the mom’s that did not approve of me dating their daughters that made a huge difference in my life.

Swim team moms, wrestling moms, 4-H moms (those were the toughest), FFA moms, and any mom who thought if even for a moment I was worth it are permanently lodged in my heart. From laughing at my jokes, treating me as one of their own, fixing up my scrapes, not telling my parents the whole truth when I was complete jackass or telling me to get the hell out complete with a motherly ass chewing! These women, mothers of my friends who knew it was up to them to not only ensure their own kids turned out ok, but their children’s friends did as well. They showed us love and compassion, making sure we knew they would always be there for us if and when we needed.

Each one of these women made a huge impact on my life whether they knew it or not. They are the sole reason I try my hardest to make a positive impact on every single young person I meet, or that crosses through our threshold at the ranch!

To not only my mom, but ALL moms who have taken the time to love and care for more than just their own children.

Happy Mother’s Day

Without all of you there really would be none of us….

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So you want to become a dad?

This holiday season our family has been surrounded by our dearest family and friends. During this festive spectacular there has been ample time for Betty to ponder the meaning of or too my life.  Now we all know there are many theories in regards to the meaning of life, and each one of us has a different feeling about how life relates to us as individuals. One such couple who I care about immensely has left me befuddled, challenged, and as though there is a damned up reservoir of advice for which I should be sharing. But also with the knowledge opening these flood gates to soon would unnecessarily drown them both.

These two love birds are about to jump off the relationship cliff by getting married. Hurray! We are seriously so happy for them both!!!!

But a topic continually arises in regards to the more domestic side of two lovers joined at the hip. CHILDREN! Should they procreate? Shouldn’t they? How many little genetic markers should they raise? Can they handle the unpredictable, emotional strains friends say children may bring to their lives? Would they even make good parents?

Then the question that always precedes the sigh of frustration; If you were to do it all over again would you still have had children?

First and foremost because they are worried about a future with children shows they care and is definitely a GREAT sign! So many children are brought into this world with no plan, no understanding of the responsibility, and no real physical or emotional commitment.  Many times children are born with the best of intentions, until one or both parents hits their first giant wall of emotion without the ability to seek out help or ask for assistance. Then everyone in the family suffers.

This future husband is a caring kind-hearted man with a spectacular sense of humor who values family. He is so worried about this one aspect (children) of the upcoming relationship solidification, and I personally find it to be sweet.

It dawned on me that no man should have to have to worry this much! No one explained parenthood to me other than to say it will happen if I didn’t provide protection! I was only given the generic description of events to come, as in late nights, no sleep, no friends, poopy diapers etc! After our nuptials were completed grief from every family member we ever encountered in regards to when we were going to have our own little clones was all we received! Not one conversation started with general pleasantries or curiosity into how marriage may or may not have changed our lives, oh no! Every talking point was always the repeated squealing of a broken record; when ya gonna have kids (skip) when ya gonna have kids? (skip) when ya gonna have kids? (skip)

Sad….

So after 3 years of writing this little blog, trying my hardest to share a Fathers side of marriage and raising children, it is time to help a fellow brother out! Give him some cred and lift him up! Let him know it is ok to wonder, it is ok to be scared, and I am here for him when ever he needs me. How am I going to help this man you ask? Well how nice of you to ask! By explaining what being a parent IS and what it IS NOT! Of course this is purely from this fathers perspective. (there might be a few marriage tie inns as well)

WHAT BEING A FATHER IS NOT

Glamorous; No matter how anyone tries to sell parenthood there is nothing glamorous about being a dad.  There are no Ward Cleaver moments, Eight really is enough, The Brady Bunched things up for you and its open season on Partridges! Things are quite simply never tied up in a neat little bow in under 20 minutes and 9 times out 10 you can’t fix everything with a hug. You will never be able too juggle your job, after school activities, dirty diapers, runny noses, and the occasional vomit then expect to come home slide ever so carelessly into a $5000.00 dollar tuxedo, expect the misses to look like a Bond girl ready for the taking while you fire up the Aston Martin for a night at the Casino. Martini’s shaken, not stirred!

Easy: Don’t ever believe for one moment you have it all figured out, because if you do, it hurts twice as hard once you realize you don’t! Parenting is hard work, every single second of it is hard! Rewarding, but hard! You can’t just turn parenting off, set it down and go shoot hoops with the guys down the street! Throwing your child in a locked room while you watch Monday night football with the boys down at Hooters is also out of the question! Just because you taped a daycare placard upon the closet door doesn’t make it so!  I know you think the kid will be fine, rooms dark, he should sleep and wont even know you are gone right? NO! BAD, BAD, BAD! It’s not even an option moron! From late nights rocking junior to sleep,(that’s right buddy its your job as well as the wife’s) to cleaning everything, fixing scraped knees, doing homework, forcing yourself to actually become smarter than a fifth grader (yeah you will quickly learn your degree don’t mean shit). Parent teacher conferences, rashes, sickness, crazy questions, arguments, sleepless nights, bratty friends, good friends, snobby parents, caring parents, children’s sports, children’s obnoxious sport parents and so on, and so on, and so on… There will be days you will feel so numb from exhaustion you may find yourself at the park napping on a concrete bench only to be mistaken for a homeless man.

Scheduled: If you are a person who lives and dies by your calendar you are doomed my friend! Who needs everything to fit in a nice neat little box of time or emotion anyways right? You will fail and its ok! Toddlers don’t run on a clock trust me! You can have nap time at the same time everyday, but it doesn’t mean you will get that entire block to yourself! And it only gets worse as they get older! Between school and sports you will re-learn the importance of HAVING a calendar while ignoring the time boundaries for which that very same calendars foundation is formed! Layman’s terms? -LEARN TO GO WITH THE FLOW MAN!

Sanitary: In the early days you will clean more strange, smelly substances than an Emergency room orderly! Heck some days you may even have a touch of something spewed, sneezed or wiped, stuck directly to your clothes! (Hopefully your James Bond Tux has a great dry cleaner)There will even be a time when you notice people have begun standing a bit away from you during conversation. Now while you are understandably perplexed by this newly found distance, wondering if it’s a coincidence or not, trust me when I say it is you!

Don’t worry about those people anymore,anyways, because after a while you will stop caring! Also you will quit looking over your shoulders, sleeves or sniffing your clothes for baby remnants! It just wont matter! Around the three to six month phase you will stop caring about the fact you are wearing the same clothes day after day, and the smell of every possible baby stench in the world will no longer resonates within your sniffer! Nope you are now a true entrenched father! 5 O’clock shadow, JC Penny sweats, disheveled hair and all. It is a disgusting badge of honor, it is the first step to never having a real wardrobe again and it will in the end bring a certain peace to your egotastic vanity; so wear it proudly.

Without conflict: You and your spouse will fight over the stupidest things! I know she folds the towels all wrong and refuses to turn off the bathroom light! But believe me the fights will reach a new level of stupidity! Rivaling a group of ten-year old boys engaging in verbal judo on the ball field! Yes you two are best friends, the two amigos, this is your best bud, your party girl, the woman who drinks beer one night like the boys then classes it up in a knock out dress while caressing a glass of wine the next!  But put a bun in that oven and all bets are off! Her body morphs faster than a Decepticon, her opinions change by the minute, her maternal instincts take over, the baby begins sucking the life out of her and blam! Your ship of freedom has sailed! You being the stubborn man you are continue searching for your lost buddy with boobs, your amigo, your sex with my best friend high-five afterwards partner in crime! But guess what pally? That ship has sailed! Blame it on exhaustion, brooding, misunderstandings, low blood sugar, what ever! Having a child will test the very meddle that is your relationship!She is still there, trust me, and you will find a whole new beauty to the woman you love, but get ready to shed your former life. I know it sounds bad right now, but it is so worth it in the end.

There will also be times where your parenting is nowhere near on the same page, when the two of you will become ships in the night, passing casually from time to time with nothing more than a horn for bellowing at each other. You will feel at times disconnected from one another. It sucks! It really sucks but it is the way it is! You can put each other first, put the children first, do what ever it takes or do nothing at all, but you will need to figure out how to raise this child together and you will need to work on your relationship all the time! If you don’t, you will suffer and so will your children. There will also be conflict as your children become teenagers. It’s what I call “poking the bear”and you better be ready! Oh they start poking the bear early on, challenging your parental authority, your patience, your mental acuity and your ability to recover. But it really hits hard once that nasty angry, hormone raging, puberty comes around. I have found over time that anger and yelling is definitely not the answer when dealing with this teenage metamorphosis. Staying firm and direct always wins when dealing with untamed emotions! Teaching your children to have a good sense of humor about their minor transgressions is also a good thing. There is an old saying I have plagiarized for years; He who yells first looses.  They can be absolutely disrespectful little shits that you want to beat within an inch of their lives as venom spews from their massive unrestricted pies holes. But staying calm while talking with a very firm almost terrifying tone wins each and every time. Once things have settled down, talking about what they were trying to accomplish also helps their young minds expand and become one with a future in adulthood.  Teenagers have wild emotional swings that are really not their fault, if we as parents can remain calm both parties win.

WHAT A BEING A FATHER IS

Humbling: I don’t care how tough you think you are, how many bullets you took in a gangland rumble, shrapnel from Afghanistan, bucking broncs you rode at NFR, Harley s you’ve built, Bulls you wrestled! MMA fighter, Doctor, scientist, Police Officer, Fireman, Garbage man, banker or lawyer.  I don’t care if you are this years Nobel Peace Prize recipient! The moment you hold a child, your child for the very first time, unless you are a piece of shit heartless bastard it will bring you to tears. Look into the face of that little wrinkled, pale, writhing, shaking life that now depends on you. That’s right buddy this human is a part of YOU! A baby’s cooing will make even the strongest mans knees buckle. That emotion never changes either. I cried just as hard as the day he was born on the day he left for college, you see in my eyes this one child had taken everything there was to give and now off into the world he went. I was spent, I was proud, I was filled with love, I was humbled by what God had entrusted me and my wife with. A life…

Full of mistakes: Hey big shot guess what? You are not perfect! Sure you scored four touch downs in a single high school game, went to college on scholarship, dated the homecoming queen, and now own the most successful flooring business in the tri-state area! Being a father is all about making mistakes and you sir are going to make them whether you like it or not! You are going to make huge, gigantic and at times what feels like irreversible mistakes! SO WHAT!!!! Do you know what separates the good dads from the bad ones? The ability to recognize those mistakes and act accordingly! Everything you have accomplished in life to this point doesn’t mean shit! You are now the CEO of a new company!  Corporations have merged creating a new entity and you need to give this start-up 100%! These people we bring into this world learn by watching and they are watching from the very minute they are born. If you act like an ass don’t question why your kid acts like an ass! If you treat people like shit expect the very same in return as they grow older. If you continually show compassion, empathy, creativity, solid ethics and an ability to communicate effectively you, your wife, and your children will all win! You wont always be perfect at it, but winners you will become. I have said this before many times but learning to say you’re sorry when you are wrong, sometimes even when you don’t feel as though you should apologize and your child will grow doing exactly the same. Being a dad is about setting a good example, but that example is not set by being perfect. It is set by being perfectly honest with yourself.

Rewarding: For every twenty set backs to your selfish life. (of course you didn’t know you were selfish until you had kids and your wife points it out to you. Over and over and over again) There are those moments. Moments that will stay with you forever. Moments that stir emotions within a man suppressed by modern-day society. Moments like the first time I saw my child walk on his own. Or when they draw you a picture and write; daddy I love you on it. When they climb in bed with you in the middle of the night or laugh at your impressions while reading a story. The first time they ride a bike, or sing on stage and to you looks like Travis Pastrana jumping buses or sounds like angels harmonizing in heaven. A solo with the clarinet, your daughter who was terrified riding a horse, now doing so with perfection and loving it! Letting them catch-all the fish on a day trip or helping them tie their shoes. It’s all the little things that make up the day. Its remembering not to let your shitty day fall upon their tiny shoulders because their hearts are so big they will gladly carry that burden for you without even knowing they are doing it. Coloring, legos, playing on the swing-set or jumping on the trampoline with them. Camping, smores and scary ghost stories. Watching them grow and evolve, change shape and voice tone. I once came across an old voice mail as we were changing out the system in my firehouse. It was my 14-year-old when he was 8. The sound of his little voice politely asking my voice mail for his dad to answer the phone please had me bawling like a baby. I hadn’t realized just how much this child had transitioned to almost man status until I heard the lost squeaky voice of his prepubescent age. It is still getting a hug and an; I love you dad, after they’ve turned 18. For all the freedoms given up, conquests never taken,  and selfish time disappeared there isn’t a moment I would trade, a second I would change or give up, for five minutes of being surrounded and loved by my children.

To my friend, I hope this helps your decision, I hope it made you laugh and puts you at ease.

If Love conquers all… Loving your children is the greatest reward.

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2015- I cant wait to meet you.

AND NOW A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE…

On January 1, 2014 I wrote this piece, posting it on the 2nd. My 2015 post is at the bottom of the page..

The Face of Leukemia 2014

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2014 Day 1……..

364 days to live.

364 days to wake up every morning, count our blessing and live. 364 days to write a new and exciting story! You see my dearies pontificating New Years resolutions involving the standard fare of weight loss, higher education, finding love, spending more time with our children, adding onto the house, finding a better job, saving more money, vacationing more, visiting family and friends and so on and so on is just not my style this year. But watching my wife live is.

364 days, until I can count 365 more days of life lived, 365 days written into the history books of our family. Cancer has this funny way of cheating you from a reality lived by so many others, changing the way your life story is told.  Cancer also has a way of sticking in your craw like an annoying persons laugh or an itch you just cant scratch.  It’s there, no one else can see it, no one else can feel it, only those who have it, or love someone burdened by it understand, yet the rest of the world just goes on with its business of worrying about resolutions for which a majority will sadly never achieve.

A new year a new fear.

We are winning this battle! Jacys superwoman body has done incredibly well! The last bone marrow draw showed no signs of Leukemia swimming in her blood, lurking in the darkness like an evil monster. Consolidation therapy starts on Monday and she will begrudgingly return to the hospital for 5 days of chemotherapy.  Her strength is back, she is feisty as ever, feeding horses in the morning and an occasional walk in the afternoon! (rumor has it she was spotted jogging on a levee, but its only a rumor) The next round of therapy will knock her down again and from what we understand recovery gets harder each time she finishes a session. She will come home weaker and a little sicker. Chemotherapy is not for the light-hearted, these patients (my wife included) are my heroes as I have witnessed the strain it places on the human body.  Yet Super Jacy has never deterred from her mission. Kicking cancers ass one cell at a time!

A fear still remains though. What if it (Leukemia) comes back? What if her white blood cell count doesn’t recover? What if she catches a common cold during these periods, (something that could kill her) what if?????? These are fears we will live with for the rest of our lives.  Every cough that arises, every sniffly nose, every fever, every-time she feels run down, for the rest of her life she will need to go have blood drawn and see the doctor. 3 more times to go, 3 more week-long sessions, three more weeks of hell.  In the end, a small price to pay to live. Jacy promised me she loved me enough to beat this, she is keeping her word.

Day 1…. Today began our 2014 journey and Jacy spent it the only way she knew how.

It was a day filled with visiting friends, making her children laugh, planning a birthday party for her son and wondering whether or not to shave the small patches of hair fighting against the laws of chemistry. Little strands hanging on for dear life, trying their very best to make my wife look like a chia pet. Biggest decision of the day? Shave the head or let those little hairs grow only to meet an untimely death in 4 days.

With the beginning of a new year I wonder about the thousands of other spouses, significant others, and children all living and loving someone close to them with Leukemia. I worry about the ones who struggle to support their loved ones without the means of expression such as writing brings to me.  Do they lay in bed at night afraid of the darkness, wondering how long, why them, all while scooting a little closer to the one they love just to feel their body heat. Are they ok, do they know its ok to feel the way they feel, can they find peace? I am sure they do and I am just rambling, but its in my nature to worry about everyone and everything.

So welcome 2014! I welcome you with open arms (and Betty’s arms are plenty big enough) for the hug of a lifetime! 2014 we hope you are filled with many misadventures, happiness and love! But most of all 2014, we pray you don’t leave us reeling like your bastard predecessor 2013 did! But if you do, not to worry, the story you tell will be interesting none the less…

364 days… The story begins right now…

images-18And what a story the year 2014 became.

2014 was indeed a year of highs and lows and yes I embraced it all with open arms.

Leukemia, sickness, emergency rooms, a torn up knee, a hurt back, a bum shoulder, my horse injured yet again.  An old friend lost while other old friends struggled to understand why?

A senior headed off to college, a Freshman headed to Nationals for rodeo, a daughter no longer scared of horses and trying her hardest to train them herself. A littlest son, discovering his love for art, painting, drawing, and creating.

Hundreds of new friends, family members united, a wife who Kicked Cancers Ass and cheated death!

2014 was indeed a challenge; it has left myself feeling many years older than my earthly age. I am tired, worn, raw, broken and quite frankly even though there were scattered good times, very glad to see it go!.  This year found me working hard at remaining mentally strong throughout the first half while floundering physically during the second half. It was indeed a struggle to keep a positive attitude at times, but thankfully I had an entire village of people supporting me, something I will never forget.

Highs and lows, isn’t that what its all about? Highs and lows?  We travel this pathway of life learning, absorbing, growing and hoping one day we understand what it all means. Changing, evolving, sculpting our little piece or niche that we can point to and claim as our own, our destiny, our end game.

I don’t know what’s in store for this year 2015. So many things swimming in my head about life, the future and what it may or may not hold for myself and our family. What direction our lives should take, both personally and professionally. What lays around the corner, hiding in the darkness? Are more demons waiting to rear their ugly heads, further terrify our souls or is this family finally going to see a silver lining surrounding us for some time to come? My fingers remain crossed…

Either way there is one thing I know for sure, I am and always have been a believer in new beginnings; that each day you arise from slumber a fresh day awaits you like a clean chalkboard, an empty etch a sketch, or a blank canvas just waiting for your creation.  No matter the pain felt inside, no matter the physical or mental limitations holding you down, and no matter the baggage carried by others in your name. A new day awaits. But one must remember, with a new day comes a responsibility to create, otherwise it is just that and nothing more. Only your vision achieved through hard work and positive thinking can mold an unforgettable day, a brighter week and eventually with time and practice a spectacular year.

No one can hand you these skills, no one can will you an outcome, steal success for you or force you into making changes you need to succeed. Just you, only you, and only through an ability to let go of the past and look forward to a brighter future.

So even though I am tired, worn, raw and broken, a new year is on the horizon and with it, anticipation for 364 more days of creation…

Betty thanks you for following me in 2014 and wishes you all the very happiest of New Years…. 2015 here we come!

 

Party on man….

santa

Christmas time is here my darlings; time for good tidings and fellowship! Time to praise God, celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and reflect upon another year gone by! A reflection that includes ones own growth or demise along with those cherished most. Family and friends.

One problem. After a long year filled with many activities, surrounded by a multitude of generations, families, friends, strangers, covering from here in California to as far East as Iowa. I have been fortunate enough to make new friends, meet, watch and cheer new kids playing new sports and revile as children I’ve known from childhood into adulthood move on with their lives.  Being the ever astute observationist it has come to my attention a certain (middle) age group believes entitlement should be afforded regardless of the fact they are not law-abiding adults.  It is also becoming rather apparent after witnessing such behaviors, looking on FB, Instagram and such this entitlement issue is expanding at a rapid rate, further propagated by the lackadaisical attitudes of the very same law-abiding of age adults that are supposed to be prohibiting such behavior!

What behavior would I be referring? Drinking alcohol, chewing tobacco, smoking cigarettes.

To say I am shocked would be a lie.

Oh yes I hear the groans now for this has been the very same argument passed from one generation to the next. The same question tossed forth year after year. Is this generation really worse than the last? Isn’t this the very issue we dealt with ourselves as young adolescents? Come on, whats a drink  here or a drink there anyways? A dip never hurt anyone and jeez our parents smoked all the time! Not everyone gets cancer right? Seriously, as long as it’s happening in my home under my watch its ok!

Now before I ramble on in some parent/wet blanket/buzz kill tirade lets clear the air.

I had my first drink at 13 and was a pretty proficient drinker by 16. Let that sit for a minute.

There was never a time, I turned down beer, California coolers or wine. If it showed up on friday night, I drank it, partied hard, then drove, where ever and when ever I pleased. I was hell on wheels and there was no stopping me! My parents tired of the fight and I think at one point short of just yelling at me every time they saw me, they gave up. I never came home at curfew, I stayed out way too late, put myself in situations I should never have been in, and I survived.  During the school week it was not uncommon to place a few drops of Everclear in a can of Copenhagen and get royally stoned during class. I snuck (gulp hard here) Black Velvet during the day replacing it with water in hopes no one would know, then hid in my room for hours on end staring at the ceiling wondering why I hated my life.

I was lucky.

My parents DID NOT condone this behavior. My parents tried everything they knew to stop me, but it didn’t work and do you know why? Because there was always somebody elses parents who did condone drinking. Someone else’s Uncle or Aunt who believed the law was stupid and as long as the drinking was held inside their home it was ok. If that didn’t work there were students who looked like adults and could purchase alcohol at 7-11, and there were students who worked at stores where alcohol was available, thus bringing it home for Friday and Saturday night parties on the hill, in a field or out at the sloughs. No Student drinking task forces with underage buyers to bust the stores, no one to stop the wheels of intoxication from turning and a law enforcement group that still believed a ride home or following you to your house with a stern talking too or speech to your parents was sufficient. We were just a bunch of really young kids with no common sense doing things that could (and in some cases did) change our lives forever.

So where am I going with this?

Today life is so much more complicated. Laws are tougher and enforced with vigor. Lawsuits are the norm as opposed to a last option. We as parents have much more to lose and so do our children.

It (temptation) is around us everyday, enveloping our moral compasses; Drink Budweiser and beautiful girls will flock to you. Stay thirsty my friends is touted as gorgeous twenty something’s caress the most interesting geezer in the world. Coors light can only be consumed by sheik sexy men who climb mountains to provide that ice-cold freshness for only you. Copenhagen is for the only the toughest of Cowboys, baseball players and such, and if you want to be the sexiest, coolest, darkest most brooding social misfit then light up! There is a multitude of products for you to burn down those lungs of yours.

Don’t worry though, thanks to the errors of your parents (such as myself) we are also drowning in advice, direction, and choices provided from the likes of MADD-Mothers Against Drunk Driving, TATU Teens Against Tobacco Use, AA-Alcoholics Anonymous etc.. yet despite this barrage of media saturation both in schools and on the street through social media outlets etc. Our kids continue to laugh it off as if nothing will ever happen to them! Do you know why they laugh it off, shrug their shoulders and continue to do as they please? Because we allow it, as parents WE are not unified. We are not setting the standard. WE never learned from our mistakes and are now in some instances relieving those glory years through our children without any thought about the ramifications within our modern-day justice system! ITS NOT 1983 ANYMORE PEOPLE!!!!!

Here is where my problem grows larger.

In the logical sense I am a hypocrite for telling my 14-year-old son not to drink solely based upon my torrid past.(Regardless of the obvious under 21 reality) Recently he was busted partaking in a bottle of beer with a friend. No doubt both of them were covered in AXE body spray, sipping their micro brews just waiting for Victoria’s secret models to fall from the sky on angels wings. I mean seriously they had 2 out of 3 of what advertising agents are gleefully promising the male species on television! So who am I to say he shouldnt do this? Drinking beer with friends; being one who went out of his way to do so at his age it is a conundrum for sure? What is the big deal anyways, its one beer right?

I can see it in his eyes, when his mother and I talk with him about consequences for his actions. The same genetic eye roll, the same blank stare, the very same I dont know what the hell I am talking about tone in his voice! Then just as my blood begins to boil and my teeth cant clench any tighter as I suffer through watching a smaller version of myself reincarnated! I think fine let him head down this path, let him learn the hard way, the same way I learned to become a complete failure! Her you go! Have at it! Your future will now consist of never being able to chase your dreams as a young man because once the party bug bites it’s a hard infection to shake! It’s all you will think about and everything else WILL SUFFER!

But I can’t do it…. I cant let him follow a path leading eventually to the possibility of losing everything he and his parents have worked so hard to achieve. Having been there, walked in those same old alcohol/barf soaked shoes, living through it was an exhausting personal, internal struggle to overcome and the time lost, I can never retrieve.

Like I said I was lucky. Not everyone is so…

Today our children not only risk losing their identities through alcohol/tobacco use, but with social media girls are at the highest risk ever of sexual impropriety. illicit photos taken, shared with god knows who, advances that would be thwarted otherwise, even rape.  The same goes for our young men, temptation is too great for their VERY underdeveloped minds! Hormones raging, social media at their finger tips, throw in peer pressure, some alcohol and a full-fledged conflagration is brewing. We expect them to act like men, their bodies begin to look like little men, they carry themselves in some case like men and yet we forget their minds are still that of a child!

So my worries continue; not just for my child (which is why I am rambling so), but for all our promising young adults. I don’t know how to fix this problem, I don’t know how to get other parents on board, I don’t know the answer when it comes to keeping my child on the straight and narrow. But I do know from what I have seen, a storm is brewing, our children are at risk, and it seems as though we are all living a life as if it (something horrible) will never happen to us, our children, or our families.

I will leave you all with this.

Last night I sat my boy down and told him as calmly and directly as I could.

Son, I know you are going to do stupid things, its genetic! (Insert laugh here) But I want you to know if that idiocy ever leads to you becoming inebriated or climbing into a vehicle with a drunk friend you need to call me. I will come and get you and your friends anywhere, anytime. I never want you to be so afraid of being punished that you make the wrong choice hoping you wont get caught. But let it be known, the very next day you will face your mother and I to answer for what you have done the night before.

He agreed then wondered why it was so important, that I drill this knowledge into his head. In his mind all he could correlate our conversation to was the fact he had drunk ONE lone beer the week before and I was seriously overreacting.

I looked him in the eyes, leaned over the counter and in a dead calm voice asked him. Have you ever been there when a mother is being informed her son was killed in a vehicle accident with a few of his friends and alcohol was suspected?

He looked at me and said; (sullenly) no

I placed my hand on his and told him I had, it hurts really bad. (my throat tightens and hurts as I type this)

Then just as calmly said; please dont ever put that responsibility upon someone else because you made a bad choice. It’s not fair, it never goes away and it can never be taken back.

I am hoping he understands….

Talk to your children about drinking, talk to your children about tobacco use, follow-up on their extra curricular activities, its your job to NOT be their friends, its your job to MAKE them hate you at some point, It’s your job to drive them crazy and when it’s all done hopefully with a little luck they turn into outstanding adults who will always remain your child, but have now earned your friendship.

Then sit back, reflect on another year gone by while enjoying watching the very same traits you instilled in them trickle down to their children, your grandchildren.

norman rockwell santa

 

I may be a parental failure.

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Today my dears, a realization hit with the ferocity of a hammer.

I am a horrible father….

Since becoming a father on July 11, 1996 nothing has been more important for myself personally than becoming an extremely successful father (yes I am competitive). No books, no mentor following me around pointing out the do’s, don’ts, and why’s along with sharp poignant strategy to overcome even the smallest of situations. Nope just me and the wife figuring things out as we go.

Along this journey there has been incredible highs, overwhelming lows and obstacles thrown my way that far exceed anything one could ever have imagined in the parenting realm. Work, friends, my personal time and space all cast aside sometimes begrudgingly, but cast aside none the less because my eye has always been on the prize. That prize of course, becoming a great father with absolutely wonderful well-rounded children who outside the home are polite, practical, hardworking, giving, with empathy for their fellow-man, a strong social conscience, a definite awareness of right and wrong and a complete understanding that all actions bear consequences both good and bad. I don’t think it is too much to ask as a parent for your child to meet this glaringly obvious criteria before entering our revolving wacky, social populous. It is after all my job to help them become successful in life. As one half of this parenting equation and after time spent giving up on my own selfish wants and dreams it is with great sadness that I must report. I am indeed a horrible failure of a father.

A Horrible father you say; why how can this be true? I mean we all see the Instagram perfect Brady Bunch family pictures you post almost daily on Facebook! Is that all a lie?? Well my darlings its like this; after dealing with the emotional distress of graduating one child from high school while walking another warily through the very same gates. Struggling to understand the wants and needs of my, not quite but almost teenage daughter who balls her fists up whenever things don’t go her way like DeNiro in Raging Bull. Then standing slump shouldered and befuddled while my 9-year-old refers in the third person repeatedly to his “being” in the afterlife to avoid putting down the iPad and read an assigned book for the evening that I realized something is amiss. The whining, the complaining, the hatred or mean looks cast our way whenever we investigate, disseminate, initiate, propagate and communicate, well, it all just seems wrong. My parenting is missing something, I must not be reaching out to the children in a way they understand. Are my ways to old and antiquated, am I expecting too much? After doing further investigation I have determined the answer to be yes! I have gone about parenting all wrong, way, way wrong. Thanks to the internet, the Disney Channel, Snap-chat, Instagram, askfm, and Yik Yak I feel the needs of all children everywhere and it has nothing to do with my plan of attack or game plan as it were. No sir I was not only WAY off base I wasn’t even in the same ball park!

So from this point on it is with great trepidation that I must announce a new game plan, a winning formula for parental success! It has taken hours of deciphering the aforementioned comments, concerns and wickedly smart one liners thrown at us parents by our own children, both in person and on the internet. But seriously I think I got it down and failure is not an option!!!! So here goes..

From this point on I Betty declare here and now to my children that I will no longer:

  • Tell you what time to go to bed or care if you even “make” that bed.
  • Remind you to do your homework
  • Let you know you need a shower
  • Expect you to care about your grades
  • Expect you to study and achieve good grades
  • Expect there to be good grades when I check the schools web-site
  • Expect the teacher to give me a glowing review when I ask about your grades
  • Aw hell, even expect you to go to school
  • Limit your time on the x-box, Nintendo, or Playstation to the weekend only after your chores and homework are completed.
  • Have any chores for you to do at all. I apologize for the burden of work we placed on you.
  • Expect you to clean up your room
  • Lift the toilet seat before you pee
  • Put the toilet seat down after you pee
  • Clean up the god damn pee!!!
  • Flush the toilet
  • Brush your teeth
  • Do your own laundry
  • Fold your own laundry
  • Put away your own laundry
  • Even give a shit about what freaking clothes you are wearing!
  • Make you wash your hair again (of course this is if you are still showering)
  • Ask you to pick up after yourself
  • Feed your animals
  • Clean up after your animals
  • Hell even care at all about YOUR animals, set them free!
  • Care if you talk back/smart mouth your mother. It is open season from here on out!
  • Ask to see YOUR phone, even though we pay the bill I fully understand possession is 9/10ths the law. I am sorry for invading your privacy.
  • Look through your phones apps-once again apologies for the privacy invasion. My bad…
  • Punish you and take away your phone for inappropriate texts, pictures, and comments left on your phone by not only you but your friends as well. (That’s right you little bastards I know who you are and I have seen body parts that I cannot erase from my brain)
  • Set limits on your use or interpretation of the English language. No more G rating expected and all forms of slang are now allowed! Got it playa! I know sick huh! Word…
  • Monitor the television shows you watch.
  • Make you go to church
  • Ask you to help elderly people, such as grandma and grandpa. They are just gonna die anyways right?
  • Expect you to do the dishes after dinner
  • Expect you to help with dinner
  • Expect you to eat dinner. Your mother and I are hiring a professional eater for you.
  • Care whether you spend the entire day inside lying around or outside, lying around.

That was just a few examples but as you can see young children, fruit of my loins, this world is all yours for the taking! No more stupid old parents and their even stupider rules to bog you down! Dope huh?

This new winning strategy is sure to be a hit! I will no longer hang my head in shame as that of a failure! No more confrontation, no more irritation, no more aggravation, it is all yours, all three of you left in our house and you will chant the sonnet that is my name from the mountains high and it will ring sound from the hills below! It will be glorious, magnanimous, there will be parenting books written about me for decades to come as others soon follow my lead!

Things shall be written like, visionary, mind bending genius, a parenting guru! I shall grace the cover of People magazine and the View will book me ASAP!

Yes a new brighter future awaits!

Let the children live I say! Let them be free to express themselves anyway they see fit, do whatever they want to do and experience life in a way only our youth can admire! Imagine! Imagine the adults they will grow to become, the leaders, the thinkers, the pillars within their communities all because WE took the time to release them from the parental chains that bound them from true expression!!!! Yes….Yes… YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!

Wait…….. Maybe I am not failure after all……

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Being Thankful-One year and seven days later

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. I browsed briefly through many blogs this afternoon all touting the importance of being thankful and although I hate jumping on any blog bandwagon (Ferguson), I find that this evening in particular thankfulness shall abound and with good reason.

One year and seven days ago I stood in an arena, working a cute grey mare, getting her in shape to practice hard during the off-season. At 11:40 am my phone rang and through trembling voice my wife informed me she needed to head towards Vallejo Kaiser immediately or she might die.

Think about that for a moment.

A seemingly perfect day, slightly overcast and a little chilly brought to a screeching halt, turned upside down because of one single phone call and the words “I might die”. I have been dealt this card before so my recollection powers are incredibly strong and as I type the smell of cold wet sand and winter eucalyptus trees fill my senses. A moment captured forever deep within my brain.

One year and seven days ago our world changed forever. Although we try, it’s like the ghost in the closet, the elephant in the room, the fat lady who hasn’t sung yet. It is just there.

One year and seven days ago, I didn’t know if there was going to be a forever for her and me. I cried, hard, then did what I always do; Sat down, absorbed all the information, shut my mouth for a while, and developed a plan.

One year and seven days ago my friends, people I have known and cared about knocked on my door, called me, walked into my home and said nothing more than: how can we help? I have never been good at accepting help, I am a helper by nature not a recipient, but all that changed and they assured me with love that I had no say in the matter.

One year and seven days ago my children sat dumbfounded, confused, and unable to comprehend exactly what was going on. Words like chemotherapy, drugs, cancer, Leukemia, blood cells, and sick all became a staple of conversation in their worlds. They never quite knew how to take it all, the thought that their mother might die, but they did in their own ways. It changed them a little, I am not sure what the lasting effect will be, only time will tell.

One year and seven days ago a six month odyssey began with month-long stays in the hospital, missing most of our high schoolers senior year, juggling a family with the help of friends, multiple midnight runs to the emergency room, nights alone wondering if she was going to die, nights in bed with her wondering if she was going to die. Days knowing she would be alright only to be slapped in the face with another trip to the hospital. Days of triumph and love, nights of cursing our life and the strain it was bringing to our family and to her. Nights of praising God for the reprieves, and slowly understanding things were going to get better.

One year ago today we had Thanksgiving in our house. The meal was completely prepared by friends, family and strangers. It was amazing that so many people cared about us, our family and our children to the extent of ensuring we had a thanksgiving meal. We Facetimed with Jacy that night and before desert could be dished I was back on the road, heading to Kaiser to sit with my wife, thankful to be able to do so thanks to a rapid diagnosis by an extraordinary young doctor and a myriad of family and friends watching my children.

Tonight, my wife lies next to me asleep from a long day of travel and family. She is not perfect, she may never be the same as she was before, although it won’t be for a lack of trying. Her emotions are still raw from 6 months of chemo-hell, her brain struggles with the after effects of chemotherapy at times which leaves her frustrated and her body is always doing strange things. We don’t know how long chemo-brain will last, we don’t know how long her body will continue to hold her down when it comes to strenuous activities and we don’t know if the leukemia will come back in one year, five years or never. But put all that aside and what you’re left with is one mother of four who can hug and kiss her children and to date is cancer free.

For that, on this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful….

The Fire Service saved my life/The Fire service is slowly killing me….

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The Fire service saved my life.

The Fire service is slowly killing me…

When becoming a firefighter in 1995 it was clear to me this choice would forever change the course of my life. No longer would my family wonder when daddy would be home, no longer would stressing about paychecks, health care, retirement, and the ability to actually take a vacation fall upon my shoulders with such weight. There would always be adventure, excitement and the repeated knowledge of a job well done for me to submerge my inner ego or satisfy the adrenaline junkie long hidden deep inside.

Constant education, growth (both inner and professionally) a career tailor made for a lost soul looking for something, anything to help define who he is, what he is, while allowing his search to encompass a life with honesty and compassion. Two emotions he knew he possessed but could never quite get to emerge.

You have not truly lived until deaths hand has been held. I know that sounds hard and cruel but looking into deaths seething eyes while your team members rip away a life chosen, robbing deaths intentions, handing life back to the living, one cannot help but leave feeling a tad bit invincible. This euphoric high comes from helping someone on the “verge” and it must be ten times more potent than any other drug. There are different levels of euphoria achieved through a job well done. Whether it be a successful extrication, saving a life, any life from fire or re-starting a heart then witnessing a human being trying their hardest to breathe again; to feel the warm soft touch of an elderly persons hand in thanks for helping them back into bed after spending an unwanted night on the floor, or calming a new mother who has called 911 for nothing more than cough, or sniffle. Changing a smoke alarm battery at 2 in the morning because the occupants are scared there may be a fire somewhere in the residence, or simply smiling and waving to a kid on the street as their eyes light up watching us drive by. This job has saved me, it took a man filled with pride, and no idea how to harness an energy created by his abrasive personality and shaped me into what those who love me, hoped I would or could always become. Yes this job saved me, from no one person or anything other than myself.

This job is also killing me…

Every day I hurt, something hurts, my back, my neck, my shoulder and some days my heart. I carry with me the pain of every person I have ever comforted or held, I remember locations in town by the severity or need. I have a job that is very emotional and yet we can show no emotion while on scene, many times stepping outside for just a moment to swallow hard, retain that granite exterior the public expects, then walk back inside to do your best. I know I have spoken of this in the past and it’s no different for any other person who works hard every day, struggles with life’s ups and downs, but it seems that writing it out always makes me feel a little better. This job, this blessed job, with the ability to touch so many lives, garner respect that you often wonder is really deserved, this job is slowly killing me. I stay in shape, both physically and mentally. It is a requirement if you chose this career path. To believe it is not is pure naivety usually held by the young and brash. This entire writing came about due to a realization two days ago while driving home that in fact some days are better than others and some days it just isn’t my fault for the way I feel.

In the fire service we work very hard at creating awareness. Awareness of our surroundings, including people, places, weather, traffic, building size etc… Basically we teach what is known as ‘size up” from the moment we leave the station on a response we are constantly sizing up the situation. So imagine everyday you are at work the captain is preaching size-up, analyze the call, the updates, the appearance once on scene, your immediate surroundings. Now being a good new guy you start sizing up everything throughout your day because well practice makes perfect. Yes? So at lunch you size up the structure, pretend it’s on fire, what is the occupancy load, what time of day is it, who is or is not inside? Now since it’s my fantasy fire there is flames ripping from the A/B side of the structure and in my little fantasy world I need to determine manpower, resources, plan of attack, do we go offensive or defensive? Should I up this alarm or can we handle this fire at the current alarm status? What are my needs and the needs of my men and am I able to adequately relay those needs?

Do you get the picture? Day in and day out we do this as good firefighters sharpening our skills, keeping us ready for any contingency, setting ourselves up for the next promotion. To ultimately become the very best we can be. Then over time practice slowly becomes filled with little doses of reality.

A few days ago while driving home gazing into a perfect beautiful blue sky, a light wind is blowing, temps in the mid 60’s, tail of a slow moving front pushing through (see still sizing up) off in the distance there is a plane banking off to the left or southwest. It looks so serene pressed against such a glorious sky. A sigh of contentment as I stare at this military giant cruising through the sky. Then it happens, all my eyes see is a plane, wing separated, spiraling into the ground with smoke billowing from its fuselage. Explosion, location, the farmland and house it has leveled, people inside the plane screaming as gravity takes hold. A shake of the head, the plane is still aloft, safe as it has been a thousand times before. It is the epitome of size up combined with real life past experiences. Because during this planes imaginary corkscrew into the ground my brain instantly went from size-up mode to reality. Visualizing one of the many plane crashes I have responded to including one where I witnessed the plane fold up and plummet straight to earth! So in my brain the process continues, what would I see, what resources would I need etc..

I feel at times as though I can’t do a thing or listen to any conversation, idea or verbally expressed thought without instantly ruining it with my engrained fear. Every car crash, house fire, CPR that was unsuccessful, suicide, fall victim, shooting victim and person assaulted or raped have all left an indelible mark upon my heart, mind and soul. It has created a better firefighter, it has created a person who can share their experiences freely, openly with others in our ranks, but it has taken a toll.

My children can’t do anything without me overanalyzing, my poor wife, no matter what fantastic idea she comes up with gets shot down immediately because in seconds I see the tragedy associated with whatever her plan held if something were to go horribly wrong. Odds are something will never happen, but for me the responses are always the same and hurtful. My parents are aging and somedays I wonder if their passing will affect me? Not that I won’t be sad, but am I so callous towards the face of death that I fear I will be the one comforting others instead of allowing others to comfort me?

Driving my family anywhere is reserved solely for me; the fear of relinquishing the steering wheel is too great. While driving down the road my mind visualizes every guardrail, ditch, narrow road, blind intersection, car alongside and where we would go in a collision. It is hell, a 2-3 hour family trip feels like an eternity in my mind.

Over the years there have been many coping processes but in the end just being quiet although irritating to those who care about me, has been the best. Writing about my experiences has helped immensely as has drinking copious amounts of alcohol. (Just kidding, couldn’t write this whole piece without one smart ass comment) Humor has saved me as well, although some of my humor is not fit for the public as we need to laugh at times at the public’s expense. It is not as though we are heartless, but there are things we see as funny and if we can’t laugh at them or our own stupid responses then this job would quickly become unbearable.

The good runs, lives saved, houses saved, humans touched by our service definitely keep things in perspective. I am surrounded by a loving and incredibly forgiving family and a choice group of friends who understand to the very core what we go through. People who I can speak openly with about the real horrors of this job. It is by far still the greatest job in the world, the fire service did truly save my life and I am forever grateful for all it has afforded me. A great career, bountiful memories, wonderful friendships and a feeling of success. But I would love just once, one single solitary moment where I don’t look at something fun and see only the tragedy.

That is how the fire service is slowly killing me..

My little angel might be no angel at all…

What you are about to read is an opinion; it is not a solution, it is based upon expressed emotions pondered for a specific amount of time. We (as a society) are allowed opinions afforded us through the first amendment to the United States Constitution. Although we are afforded these rights, I will never abuse that privilege. I have and always will take very seriously what ever opinion is put forth by my ever spinning brain.

I purchased a laptop, and promised stories would continue, I wrote a few relatively funny snippets about parenthood but just could not bring myself to post them. Why? Life got in the way, and my sense of humor has been affected.

Over the past couple of weeks since posting my last story a multitude of events have transpired both locally and nationally  leaving me wondering what the hell?

  1. A warning comes down from the federal government stating that ISIS is now looking at soft targets.  That is right; no longer are we safe in our homes as operatives are now individually targeting military personnel, (first and foremost) police officers, politicians and firefighters.  We now have terrorism at its very core.  When you become afraid to post with pride what you do for a living through social media, walk out your front door, and fear for your family’s safety.  Our country has a serious problem. Note I said “fear” because that is the root of terrorism. It may never happen, it probably will never happen, but the fear is always there, always present.  For this I have no comment other than to shake my head in sadness for our country.
  2. School shooting in Washington.  We have all read or watched the reports.  Teenage boy gets together with his closest friends during lunch like he does everyday then pulls a gun from his backpack and proceeds to shoot them in the back, in the middle of the cafeteria, with all to see.
  3. Teenager walks towards a high school, back pack containing a handgun and several rounds of ammunition.  A friend of said teenager feels comments he made the previous day are of concern, notifies school administrators that this teenager had in fact made credible threats in regards to coming to school and shooting several individuals, including a teacher that very day. (this is all para-phrased) Long story short-cops look for teenager, teenager finds them first unloading several rounds into unsuspecting patrol car, barely missing the police officer inside. Short chase ensues, face off happens, teenager ends up with a superficial wound after being shot (public knowledge) by police.
  4. A young girl decides she has had enough.  After some discussion with her mother she disappears from home, the police are called and a missing persons report is filed. What no one knows or could have known was this girl proceeded to walk towards the train tracks and step boldly in front of a 70mph Amtrak train. I say boldly because it takes a certain amount of resolve/inner pain to willingly step in front of a moving train. It makes me nauseous just thinking about it.  It was my shift, my guys responded to the incident, and all though it is not the first time nor will it be the last time for our crew dealing with such a morbid scene along the railway. It has forever changed the face of suicide for each and every one of us. Her reasoning for taking her life stemmed from bullying.

These four things all happened with in the last few weeks.  I have screamed at the television, written a few things in regards, decided the tone was all wrong and deleted the subject matter. I as have all of you, have sat patiently while political pundits cast stones in all directions away from any responsibility their own party may bear.  I am frustrated, confused, disgruntled and angry! As a parent it makes no sense to me why we can’t create solutions! Instead we all sit by as the news media (who cares not one bit about finding an answer through non bias reporting, but instead thrives on ratings and if there are none then the story disappears forever) gnaws on the raw meat that is our emotions. My emotions are raw as well. I have pondered and pondered, written and as I stated before, erased. My blog has always been about my life, the life of my family, the fun and exasperating moments along the way. I never want anything on my page to become a political debate as it takes away from the fun.  Unfortunately this is still about my family as I have been affected personally by each of these 4 stories. Number #1 is self-explanatory. The shooting in Washington, #2, only in relation to #3 as my crew responded to this incident, and the “what if’s” rolled fast and furious afterwards. What if he made it to the school? What if-it turned into a mass shooting are we prepared? What if- my son was one of the victims could I have continued to do my job? Number #4 was also my crew and opened my eyes to what is out there, pulling my head from the sand and re-evaluating my own personal responsibility when it comes to our children. Remember these are only my opinions, and although many may disagree I am open to any conversation that is held respectfully on these topics.

  1. More gun laws- More gun laws are not the answer. I would like to say they are but they are not. The answer: allow our police officers to do their jobs, then hold the courts accountable for not upholding the strictest of sentences when these laws currently in place are broken!!! We don’t ever hold our court system accountable! It amazes me that a drug offense is stricter than a gun violation. Our country screams for justice, why are we not starting with the justice system! We knee jerk react instead of planning for the future in turn we allow another idiot politician to revel underneath his own fodder, founding a bill in their
    name so he/she can pat him/herself on the back a little more.  Here is another idea, how about a revision of all laws currently on the books in regards to guns? I bet there are many that are redundant or have no bearing what so ever in this supposed civilized society! Listen people a sign at school that says this is a no gun zone doesn’t mean shit to an angry person hell-bent on vengeance.  And if it’s not a gun, then maybe its a crossbow, or a knife or what ever that angry person is using in the commission of a crime. Hell a weapon is not a description used solely for guns as the news media would have you believe! A weapon is any object used in the commission of a heinous act.  I get it, put up the sign which creates another charge added to the suspect, but that leads us back to my original complaint! Our justice system. Now before you get angry with me, I am neither pro-nor anti gun.  I am for reasonable people making reasonable decisions when it comes to our future as a society. Something I feel we have lost.
  2. Bullying- Ok so we have all been bullied at one time or another in our lives. If you have read any of my stories than you know in high school I was a bit mouthy (yes that means I bullied a time or two as well).  Got myself into trouble and at times ran scared (being bullied in return).  The ability to handle those situations and learn from them is what made me the person I am today, it developed my character.  We as parents cannot protect our children from everything and at some point they (our kids)  need to learn to stand up for themselves, hopefully with our help and guidance. Although that all sounds good and fine, it is not happening, the problem lies with our current way of living, our social structure, the need for rapid gratification! What is the problem, the root cause you ask?  Social media and a severe lack of respect! Not just for others, but for ourselves! Our children are not equipped for what lays in wait for them on the internet, like a wolf hiding in grandmas dress waiting for little red riding hood to come through the door, so does the internet. We have provided our children with too much! To much freedom, too much trust, to many  electronic gadgets with windows to a world we just can’t keep shut from prying eyes! Television shows  that exemplify treating your best girlfriends like shit, talking behind their backs, having sex as a social status in school! Teenage girls portrayed as sluts, hookers, meat for young boys to have anyway they wish and whenever they want! And if you don’t give it up, you are anonymously trashed on every social media site available! FB, Yik Yak, KIK, Snap-chat all there to post how she was a slut, what degrading acts you performed on her (or really didn’t but by lying about it you keep your rep), why she should sleep with your friends-oh hello snap-chat! Here is a picture of her naked everyone, I took it with my cell phone camera! I promised I wouldn’t show any one, but I lied! Also On the Snap-Chat front, girls willingly sending pictures of their boobs to boys! What the hell! It’s no wonder bullying is such a problem! Dont believe me?                               I will use Yik-Yak as an example. I downloaded the app, set my geographical area to the center of my town, within one hour I knew where to go for drugs, who was looking to score, what girls were hoes (yes I even knew a few of them) whose ass was so hot it needed to be (one boys own words) POUNDED! I now know the description of several shapes of a penis’, the detailed description of both what its like having inter-racial sex and sex between boys, what group everyone wants to kill at school, who the hottest teacher is everyone wants to sleep with, and so one. And I really mean SO ON!!! Oh and let me add I only chronicled the boys here, the girls are just as descriptive, mouthy and vile. As a parent I have never been so disgusted by what I read in a very short period of time.  Did we talk this way as teenagers 35 years ago? Hell yes we did, not to the extreme I am reading here, but yup! It happened. The difference is it was between us, our small group, done in person and if you crossed the line it was handled then and there, either with apologies afterwards or some smoothing over that took a few weeks.  Today they are all hidden behind a veil of secrecy, they can say what they want without retribution, it gives them power! It creates monsters that have no repercussion for their actions. The ones with no conscience, or parental guidance will only grow bigger and stronger until someone decides they have had enough, choosing to step in front of a train as their only option, as opposed to seeking help, receiving that help and living.

Unlike the gun control debate where I only provide a suggestion; I think I have a solution to help us begin to conquer our social media related troubles.

  • We can start by eliminating cell phones from campus.  I am sorry your little angel is at school and you need to get ahold of them right now, but guess what? THEY ARE AT SCHOOL!!!! We didn’t have cell phones at school in my day and our parents got along just fine without us! If little Johnny needs a message from you then go through the office! Its called the chain of command. Something we use to a T in the fire service.  If you don’t allow your school to guide and control the motions and activities of your child while they are on campus then you are circumventing the system and empowering your child. You are telling your child they are more important than the lesson being provided which in turn takes away from the respect due towards the instructor inside the classroom.  Eliminate phones and you eliminate distractions, kids texting kids, taking pictures, surfing the internet. Dont tell me your little one would never do that, because I guarantee if given the chance they will. If we can’t take them away (cell phones) maybe just as a few of these social apps restrict their use while near a school campus, we jam all cell signals within the same specified area, neutralizing the temptation. Just a thought.
  • Mandatory bullying class- a class taught by adults, sharing their experiences being bullied. Bullying doesn’t just happen to children, it also happens to adults, if we are to become this great civilized society, an example to all around the world then why aren’t we educating ourselves in regards to the destructive nature of bullying.  Why are we not recognizing the life long damage it can create? Why are we not empowering the weak, celebrating the strong and bringing them all closer together.  Our society currently crushes the weak, watch any teenage show on Disney and prove me wrong. We are teaching our children to cast them aside instead of standing up, protecting them, and showing compassion. Our children, parents and siblings should be supportive, creating change, providing a better society that thrives on pushing forward mankind, people’s rights and ability to thrive. It sounds nice I know, I also know we can’t save everyone, but education has and always will be the key.

So there it is, its off my chest. Like me or hate me, agree or disagree. I felt it had to be said. I am tired of fearing for our world and what we as adult are allowing to happen. I am just as guilty as the next person. My children are just like yours and given the same opportunities will follow the very same paths without proper guidance from their mother and me.  In the end, it comes down to this, we are trying our hardest to raise respectful, well-rounded children who understands the needs of others. It’s a hard enough job parenting with both of us working multiple jobs and running from one kids sporting event to the next, but it is what we signed up for and we all need a little help now and again.  I also never want to see another young child take their life, or see a kid who is so frustrated they feel killing someone or there fellow students is the answer. Because it never is.

Betty is sad………

 

Lip Foliage

kid stacheIt started out strangely enough as an act of laziness.  It had been 4 days since my last encounter with a razor, the face had become stubbly and rough.  There was no ill-intent, no malice aligned discord, no social stance of support or injustice to be had. Instead it became nothing more than a middle-aged man deciding he just didn’t want to shave anymore.  Besides, it could never happen anyways, my entire life at one point or another had been spent trying to grow one! Secretly hoping and praying as a lad that one hair would turn into two, two to four and four to a five-o’clock shadow!

So with the skill of a veteran barber from the old neighborhood I shaved it all…..except what lay conspicuously over my upper lip.

Maybe this time will be different I thought! Maybe it will grow and look really cool? Yeah…. Cool like Clint Eastwood or no wait; super cool like Rollie Fingers, Tom Selleck, or maybe even Wyatt Earp!! Oh yeah I could see it now, laying there across the upper regions of my mouth, big, bold, so tough it carries its own zip code! That’s it, I must try! But WAIT!! Do I quaff this soon to be surely beast with the stylish subtleties of a Ron Burgandy or stretch her out sly and snakey with a hint of country charm like Sam Elliot? So many choices, such inner excitement at the mere prospects laying before me!

Over the next few weeks every morning I rose from bed, walked into the bathroom and carefully started cultivating my follicular garden of manliness! I am not sure if I could really witness its progression or wanting it to finally happen so badly was allowing my vision to become superhuman! Zeroing in on one hair after another choosing them for a specific length, size and girth! But there I stood, staring, combing, wondering, if this would be the day? Oh don’t get me wrong, I had tried many times in the past, only to feel like a freak show! A clump of hair here, a spike or tuft there, some of it red with Irish rage and other portions brown with a Caucasian curse.

Inevitably they all met the same fate, to spikey, to scattered, to ragged; all of their untimely ends were met at the hands of Gillette.

Then one day I woke up, made my way into the bathroom as I had done so many times before, partook in the very same ritual as any other day, but this time I could see it without the light on!! Yep that’s right, a natural wonder in the making, right there, just under the confines of my inhalation portholes, perched upon the ledge of a saliva sanctuary, running down both sides of the devils curl lay what I had been dreaming of since puberty!

My very own mustache!!!

And not just any mustache mind you, a super MANLY mustache, the kind of mustache that makes women quiver and men perish from envy! (not really it just sounded good) Best part? It was mine!! A fine cross between Sam Elliot (Ok if Sams was a little smaller and well not quite as thin) and Officer Dangle from Reno 911 (but only in color, not the whole looks like Ned Flanders thing)! Yes sir this thing, much like an unattended garden was owning my face!!! It felt great! It felt AWESOME! Like; like I should ride a horse with a cowboy hat on (oh wait I already do that) or maybe throw on a “cut’ grab my Harley and ride!! (Hmm I kind of do that too) Gosh I really feel like I am not getting anywhere here? Maybe, it’s cool enough I can finally be in a band? Yep that’s it, new cool handlebar mustache obviously means I should be in a band! Right! There are lots of cool singers with big burley manly mustaches like this one! Let’s see, I know there are at least a couple? Think…. Think….

I got it! Freddie Mercury Yeah that’s it!!! He got tons of looks with his mustache! It made him cool! Didn’t it? Ok he was kind of wafey looking, and a little pale. Hmm. How about Frank Zappa? No, no maybe not so much, he was kinda weird too. Or Hey that Biker dude (Glenn Hughes) from the Village People! Yeah that’s still kind of cool isn’t it? Isnt it?? Man maybe not so much….

I know!! I can look like a FIREMAN!! FUCK!!!!!! I have got that one nailed and I didn’t even need a mustache!!!

Huh? What the HELL was I thinking?

After all those years of trying, having a mustache just wasn’t that great. The dog growls at you, the kids think you look weird, everyone greets you with “hey what’s that on your face?” Which is usually followed with the obligatory; Ah yeah man it looks, ah it looks g r e a t? And last but not least the wife stops kissing you. Something about having a brillo pad rubbed across her lips while a porcupine simultaneously wrestles with her cheeks! I don’t know the kisses felt the same to me.

So in the end my great mustache went the way of all my other feeble attempts, landing one grainy strand at a time in the bottom of a bathroom sink, taking all hopes of testosterone filled adventures and adoration from those around me with it.

All I am left with for reflection is a quote by the great scholarly mind of one Mr. Peter Griffin; with great Mustache comes great responsibility.

No truer words have ever been spoken.

Sadly I just wasn’t up to the task…..

mustache

A boy finds a horse…or did a horse find a boy?

When the dust had settled he stared into the soft, red dirt scattered around his partners feet.  Frustration filled every fiber of his body, anger brewed deep inside as he coiled up his rope slowly, deliberately as if this woven, intertwined piece of apparatus had feelings to be hurt by such forcefulness.  He had missed his throw again, leaving his header dragging the steer alone. Team Roping* is his new rodeo sport of choice, it has a pretty big learning curve and right now this boy is bearing that weight.

Looking at his partner from a distance the appearance was one of a nervous looking paint horse standing silently, waiting, hoping not to fall upon the wrong end of youthful rage.  But nothing could be further from the truth. The boy leaned over gently petting his friend, his amigo, letting him know that he (the horse) had in fact done his job, and done it quite well.  The sole responsibility fell completely upon the boy and as they rode out of the arena only a blind person could not see the anger this boy had within himself.

Toowey is a 12-year-old paint, purchased for the staggering sum of $5 dollars.  Toowey was born to be a cutter * He was purposely bred from a fine stallion to a mare of substantial quality all in the hopes he would someday reign king of his craft. But for poor Toowey that was not to be, for this horse was a thinker, so much so that he repeatedly would get into his own way, not allowing the natural course of action to take place. Thus leaving him without a job. A sorry thing for a horse with such a sharp mind. That was until three months ago when a proposition was laid before this young lad; You need a horse to rope from and this horse needs a job. The owner absolutely loved this horse and could not bear to part with him. The deal was simple, if he works he is yours, if Toowey cannot do the job, bring him home, no questions asked. And just like that a union was formed, and my family is forever grateful for this amazing gesture.

Now don’t think for a second it was that easy, you see two months ago I may have paid $10 dollars to send him home. (joking) But you see the thing about Toowey that makes him different from every other horse (besides the astronomical purchase price) the thing that continues to amaze me about this very animal is not that he needed a job, but that he needed a boy.  You see as I previously stated; Twooey is a thinker, he is also a very fast learner, and yes his ability to over think a situation still gets him into trouble on occasion, but he has an uncanny way of saying he is sorry. Roping gives him the release of responsibility that cutting does not and that fits this horse just fine.  He is also incredibly loyal.

That’s right I said he is loyal, loyal like an old bloodhound or your best friend.  I have been around many, many horses in my 48 years and yes they are all different, they all have personalities; traits we love, behaviors we try to correct and we may even like some more than others.  But I have never seen a horse that loves and loves to be loved by just one person like this horse. I am not talking about leaning into a good scratching or nuzzling up I am talking about devotion shown directly towards one human being.

Twooeys engine is huge! He can go and go and go, and just when you thought he was done, he would go some more.  When we sent him off to roping camp I warned the trainer about the size of this horses engine. It was big! Two weeks in, after checking in with the trainer it was confirmed just how big this horses motor was by him stating he almost gave up. But then like a light switch Twooey started to give, and just like that, everyday he learned more, became faster and stronger, and calmer all at the same time. Twooey finally had himself a bonafide job.

When we went to see him the first time is when I noticed Tooweys love starting to show.  As we walked towards the arena his head hung low, he sat still not a muscle twitching (unusual for him) and then he heard Jake’s voice. The boy who brushed him everyday, rode him in countless circles, walked him in the back and talked to him on the way back towards the paddock.  Tooweys head popped up, ears twitched forward and a loud whinny echoed across the arena.  As Jake approached Toowey could barely contain himself, scooting from side to side, licking his lips, quivering his lower lip.  Jake slowly reached out, placing his hand on Tooweys face and neck, slowly stroking him, whispering; hey buddy I’m here.  The horse stopped moving, dropped his head and leaned into my son.  A heavy sigh released, an eye softened and for a moment all was right in this animals world.

It broke my heart to leave him that night, as we drove back I could tell Jake missed his new buddy as well. Two weeks later when we picked him up, I have never seen a horse jump into a trailer so fast, ready for the long ride home, ready to be back with his rider.

Since that time it has been non stop practices and one official rodeo. There have been little successes here and there as far a this young boys roping goes, but no matter what happens or how it ends each afternoon after leaving it all in the arena; no matter how upset this boy becomes with himself or his performance his horse is there, always leaning into him, sighing heavy, lip quivering, happy to be his partner, his friend.

To have that kind of friendship with an animal as a young boy fighting the throes of testosterone coursing through his veins, competition, hard work and the sting of failure is priceless.

It appears as though the boy didn’t just need the horse, but the horse needed a boy. Some matches we just don’t understand, like a 5 dollar horse who unknowingly needed a home, a job and a frustrated boy who unknowingly needed a new partner and a friend. I believe the lord works in mysterious ways…

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*Cutting is an equestrian event in the western riding style where a horse and rider are judged on their ability to separate a single animal away from a cattle herd and keep it away for a short period of time.

*Team roping also known as heading and heeling is a rodeo event that features a steer (typically a Corriente) and two mounted riders. The first roper is referred to as the “header,” the person who ropes the front of the steer, usually around the horns, but it is also legal for the rope to go around the neck, or go around one horn and the nose resulting in what they call a “half head.” Once the steer is caught by one of the three legal head catches, the header must dally ( wrap the rope around the rubber covered saddle horn)and use his horse to turn the steer to the left. the second is the “heeler,” who ropes the steer by its hind feet after the “header” has turned the steer, with a five second penalty assessed to the end time if only one leg is caught. Team roping is the only rodeo event where men and women compete equally together in professionally sanctioned competition, in both single-gender or mixed-gender teams.[1]