Welcome To September

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Pumpkins and scarecrows adorn shop windows and Target has Halloween costumes up for grabs. Even though the grocery stores are piling up on endless supplies of candy, all the kids are a bit downcast because they’re faced with a whole year of school ahead of them.

Welcome to September.

The end of summer, shorter days, longer nights, and browner leaves.

And a slow, dreadful preparation for winter.

But that’s just the thing. If you’re like me, you’re always looking back wishing it were the glory days of summer or dreading the drudgery days of winter ahead. You’re never living in the moment. You’re never taking the time to just enjoy the season for what it is.

Fall is everyone’s favorite time of year. It’s not too hot to stay inside or too cold to necessitate the use of all the hot water in the house. You can open the windows and begin building your Christmas list while looking for the best recipe for butterbeer. I think what Green Day meant to sing was, “Wake Me Up When September Starts.”

It’s the perfect season, and maybe this year we can learn to just enjoy it for what it is and live in the moment.

And if I don’t, will you remind me to? Because I’m not getting any younger, and my Septembers are falling off.

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The Value of Building Memories

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I don’t know about you, but when the daily routine gets to be too routine, I grow quite tired of it. In order for me not to grow cantankerous, I need to do things a little out of the ordinary. Fun things. Like take my family to the fair.

We went to the Kentucky State Fair last week. There, I watched my daughter’s eyes light up when she saw the goats and pigs and cows. She loved petting the lambs and just running around the farm animals in general.

Even our son, strapped in his stroller, was interested in his surroundings and took an interest in the dog shows and the flying motorcycles.

The food was way overpriced and tasted like crap, but it broke up the daily grind. It afforded the family quality time together outside of the house.

Something I’m learning is to always go out and do things with the family as much as you can. That way, when we look back on it all, we’ll know we really experienced life together with every opportunity offered.

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The Things That Make Me Happiest

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It’s only Tuesday. And for most of us who hate our jobs, that’s like saying, “You’ve got a thousand more years before you get to sit down and relax.”

Well, I find that if you take a moment to jot down the things that make you happiest, and then every day until the weekend you do a couple of those things, it makes your work week much more bearable. A dark tunnel isn’t so scary if you see the light at the end of it.

So here’s a list of things that make me happiest.

  1. My wife and kids: My wife’s loving words, my daughters contagious laugh, and our son (still a foster) not crying if he falls down as he’s learning to walk.
  2. Ruffles’ Cheddar Cheese and Sour Cream potato chips
  3. Pixar/Disney movies – especially the ones that make me cry.
  4. Finishing a new book every week, because that means I’m actually enjoying the art of reading a lot.
  5. Boneless buffalo wings so hot your nose runs and your eyes water, making your plate a soppy mess.
  6. Pizza where the mozzarella is so discernible you’d think you were eating a block of warm, melted cheese.
  7. Ice cream that’s so creamy you’d swear the cow stirred the milk herself.
  8. Random trips to Starbucks with the family and getting a big honkin’ frappuccino with whipped cream.
  9. Good ideas for new books to write. Because those are mine alone and I get excited about the prospect of writing a new book.
  10. When my dogs go potty on the grass right away.
  11. Those limited edition Oreo’s they have out now (especially cotton candy flavored).
  12. Reading your comments below my blog posts.
  13. My new website (andrewtoybooks) which is still in development.

Share some of the things that make you happiest below and have a great rest of the week!

How We Got Engaged

slide12July 19, 2008, seven years ago today, lives were changed.

Plans were altered.

Questions were asked.

It was unlikely that Sarabeth and I would ever meet – me from California, she from Florida. The chances were slim at best.

We didn’t meet on either coast as one might think, but in the middle of God’s country, Colorado Springs where we met at school.

It took me maybe two weeks at most to ask her out. But like all good things, our everyday courtship ended and I had to go back home to California and she back to Florida. We dated each other from our prospective hometowns for a year and a half.

That’s eighteen months with over 3,000 miles between us.

It wasn’t easy. I hate talking on the phone to begin with, and at some point I gave up and dumped Sarabeth.

Worst mistake ever.

I don’t know how or why she ever accepted me back when I came to visit her on her birthday. But I’m glad she did.

I made many promises that I was going to propose to her, but every time, I found some excuse or another to put it off again and again.

I had moved up to Seattle to work at a camp early in 2008 (almost as northwest of the continental country as one can get, while Sarabeth was almost as southeast as one could get).

She came to visit me on July 18 and that night I told her I couldn’t propose to her yet. I needed to wait.

Again.

Maybe around Christmas.

To her, a snail could crawl from Florida to Washington quicker than I was going to propose.

I picked her up from her hotel the next morning to bring her to the camp I was working at to show her around campus. I was wearing a raggedy shirt that she had expressed disinterest in at some point in our relationship. After all, I had no reason to dress up.

The chapel was first on our tour. Before we reached it, one of my colleagues came out and said I had an important call to take. So I passed my girlfriend off to him and asked him to take her to the chapel and I’ll meet her there in a few minutes.

I ran to the offices not to take a call, but to shed my raggedy shirt, and put on a nice button down I had purchased and checked for the trillionth time that the box was still in the breast pocket. I removed it and clamped it tightly in my sweaty hand.

While this was happening, my colleague led her to the chapel where she found a video of me projected onto the big screen talking about how much I love her and how glad I was that she was there. Then video ended with me saying, “Now, I have just one question to ask you…”

And right below the screen I walked in through the door with the ring in my hand while John Mclaughlin’s “So Close filled the chapel through the speakers.

I asked the question. She said yes.

We sat on the steps and talked and laughed and made plans for the rest of our lives.

“I have just one more surprise for you,” I said.

I then led her down to the camp’s lakeside as the morning sun danced in its reflection, and there on the sand was a table set up with flowers, two chairs, and a couple of servers (the camp cooks) ready to take our breakfast order.

Our own private breakfast on the lake.

And lots of pancakes – she loves pancakes.

But I knew our engagement anniversary would be celebrated for years to come, and I wanted to set a tradition. So later I took her to our favorite restaurant, Cheesecake Factory in downtown Seattle. It was a good choice because so far there has been a Cheesecake Factory in every state we’ve lived in.

Well, this year, Cheesecake Factory is being postponed until Wednesday the 22nd. We’re taking our daughter to celebrate her adoption day and our foster son.

Traditions are meant to be tweaked.

As long as they’re still shared with the ones you love.

Adoption Week is here!! Follow my Facebook Page for updates!

When to Let Your Kids Watch What

Las-mejores-películas-de-miedo-para-niñosProbably one of the most controversial issues with parenting is when to introduce nostalgic entertainment to our kids.

Moms and dads seem to always have a different view on this topic, and Sarabeth and I are no different.

Every dad wants to show the old Star Wars movies to their sons, while moms seem content to let them watch The Little Mermaid for the eightieth time. (Not that I have anything against The Little Mermaid–I think it’s a masterpiece.)

One thing Sarabeth and I agree on is that our kids won’t have their own video game consoles – that’s just setting the whole family up for failure, and is a no-brainer on many different levels, in our opinion.

But I made a comment the other night in bed when we were watching The Lord of the Ringsimg494678dbe5ca2 that went something like, “I’m totally fine letting our kids watch these movies even when they’re five.” (Keep in mind this was during the scene where the cave troll had just stabbed Frodo in the heart and the other members of the fellowship were beating it to death.)

Sarabeth was gracious enough not to say anything, probably realizing I had at least four years to come to my senses.

Heck, I play Jurassic Park with my daughter all the time, pretending to be an T-rex while she’s a raptor. Our son just plays the stagnant dilophosaurus since he still spits up overtime he moves.

I’m all about skipping the whole Playhouse Disney stage and jumping right into Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 

zs5WlqpUgxtNA6Ycf0naoaVRdDBut that’s because I forget that The Never Ending Story made me scream bloody murder when that wolf jumped out of the trees. And some old non-Disney cartoon version of Pinocchio gave me nightmares for weeks (in an alternate story, Stromboli actually did cut the puppet up into firewood – although, that may have just been a bad dream Pinocchio was having – I never cared to resist that).

It’s easy to forget that kids still think everything is real. The only thing that can be construed as imaginary is Mom and Dad telling them to do something they’d rather not do.

But I’m sure when the time comes to make those decisions, I’ll know my kids enough to know if they’re ready for such fun revelations.

Besides, it might all be moot. Who knows if, when my kids are thirteen in 2027, they’d even be interested in watching those old fantasy movies about “hobbits and stuff” made twenty-seven years ago.

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Adoption Update

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Good news. Extraordinary news.

Incredible, exciting, jubilant, fantastic, exquisite news!

We had out first adoption social worker visit last week. Not a foster care social worker, but an ADOPTION worker. We have now officially begun the process of adopting Baby A.!! (The real name of which we’ll reveal at the time of adoption.)

At seventeen and a half months, Baby A. is doing wonderful. She is growing fast and learning even faster. She laughs a lot and sleeps through the night (mostly), and really loves to be tickled. She just recently overcame her fear of the bucket swing at the local park, loves to slide down the biggest and fastest slides, and is always anxious to go outside for a walk or splash around in the bathtub.

She’s also learning to be a really good big sister to Baby B. – whose case is being audited so we can get him into the adoption process quicker.

So when will we get to sign the official adoption papers? The worker said it could take up to ninety days for everything to be finalized, so we’re hoping sometime in September.

That feels like waiting for Christmas 2019. But in the meantime, we’re anxious to have her belong to us officially. Sarabeth and I cannot possibly be any happier to have her in our lives and in our home, as we couldn’t possibly imagine a better daughter.

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Enjoy This Mother’s Day Treat

Happy Mother’s Day. Enjoy a hilarious Youtube video by my favorite video guys.

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