Defeated

Man trapped in snowed-in car for two months now awake, says hospitalSo there I am, lying on my back on the kitchen floor, out of breath, hands frozen numb. My wife’s feelings are hurt, my dog’s locked up, and the baby’s crying. And I just kept thinking one word: Defeat. 

As I’m sure you’ve all heard on the news, Kentucky’s just been hit with a really bad snow storm. We woke up yesterday morning to almost a foot of snow, which was really quite awful because we just had a snowstorm and the rain just washed it all away the day before. I mean, I had my shorts picked out and everything.

So we woke up to about ten-inches of snow, and luckily it was already my day off, because I think I’ve used up all my personal time already (thanks, snow). And just like normal, I take the dogs out to go potty.

The dogs have been really good about not going potty inside on the carpet, which led me to stupidly trust that Pixie just might not have needed to go number 2 in the snow.

Big mistake.

We’re all back inside, the baby’s awake, Sarabeth’s in the bedroom and I’m in the kitchen putting away last night’s dishes. And then I hear Sarabeth yell from the living room, “Andy! Come here! Run!”

When I get to the living room, I saw (and smell) feces smeared everywhere. On the curtains, the carpet…the baby (I’m still learning that when it’s too quiet, that’s actually not a good thing).

Sarabeth quickly ran the baby to the bathroom for a bath while I pulled out all the cleaning supplies in our house and got to work. “I’m going to have to rent a carpet cleaner,” I told Sarabeth when she finished washing the baby. “I’ll just clean the living room.”

“If we’re going to spend $50 on a carpet cleaner, we might as well clean the whole house,” she said, logically.

Even though she was right, I was infuriated at the prospect of having my whole day shot to clean the entire house. If you’ve ever used a carpet cleaner before, you know how slow those things are!

And, like the gentle, loving husband I like to think I am, I yelled at her that I didn’t want to waste the whole day cleaning the carpet, and I stormed out of the house to rent the stupid thing from Home Depot.

But my feet were instantly stuck in the driveway. So I had to spend fifteen minutes shoveling the foot-thick snow from the door to my car. I dropped my keys in an effort to pry the frozen car door open and had to dig in the snow for them. (I’d been telling myself to get a pair of snow boots and gloves for so many years, but never took my own advice.)

When I finally found the keys and got the car door open, I realized I was utterly and completely out of breath and my hands were completely frozen to the point that they were so red they could have guided Santa’s sleigh.

Seeing stars, I dragged myself back to the front door and, not having the use of my hands, tapped the door with my elbow. Sarabeth was kind enough to let me back in so I could let my hands warm up under the kitchen sink. But my legs were giving out, so I had no choice but to lay down and catch my breath on the kitchen floor.

Turns out, Sarabeth had the brilliant idea of covering the living room with a giant blanket, as she knew I wouldn’t be able to drive all the way to Home Depot in that weather.

Moral of the story? Make your dogs go outside, no matter how cold it is. And don’t ever yell at your wife; she might not let you in from the cold.

I’m just lucky I married the right woman.

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Baby A’s First Steps

So she’s walking now.IMG_1864

Sarabeth and I were lucky enough to be together when “Baby A.” took her first step a few nights ago. And now it’s official. She’s a walker, and the days of crawling are behind her.

I came home from work last night and guess who just hobbled up to me all the way from the living room, through the dining room, and into the entryway to give me a big hug? Okay, it wasn’t a hug more than an attempt to snatch my glasses off my face, but you get the idea.

I’ve been wondering though, where are those feet going to take her? I thought of all the professions that she might take up, and then I stopped abruptly because then I thought about her feet carrying her down the wedding aisle… and I can’t quite go there yet. I’m still just trying to get her to say “Daddy,” because she’s got “Momma” pretty much down pat.

IMG_1858Oh, and more good news. We go to court in a couple of weeks to change her goal to be permanently adopted by us! Even as I write this, I’m getting real soppy and can hardly see the computer. I mean, I’ve always known that she’ll be ours the moment I saw her, but to actually make it official… our lives would be completely incomplete without her – temper tantrums and sleepless nights (for Sarabeth) and all!

At any rate, I hope her feet take her far and wide and to places that will bring her much happiness in this life. But I’m just so glad that her first couple of million steps will be made under our roof.

Join my Author Facebook Page for more updates on Baby A.

Marriage: A Beginning, Not An End

funny-marriageIt seems marriage has become the topic of ridicule and mockery. The prestige and honor of marriage has been replaced by the glamor and dazzle of bachelorhood and promiscuity. Not that this is anything new.

But honestly, when is the last time you’ve heard a good word spoken about marriage? When is the last time you’ve spoken honorably about your spouse?

Think about it. We spend the whole first part of our lives searching for our significant other – someone to spend the rest of our lives with. And then, when we find that person, we grow tired, and spend our time wanting out.

(The Man in the Box is a great book for those who feel this way.)

I, myself, often forget that marriage takes work. I take for granted that I don’t have to stress over who I’m going to take out on Friday night (not that that was often), or figure out some clever way to score a girl’s phone number (I got numbers to Bill’s Plumbing and Domino’s quite often).

Then I met Sarabeth. I achieved the Big Yes. When I said “I do,” I was 25.

If I live to be a hundred, I’ve still got 75% of my life to live.

We get this idea in our heads that marriage is the end-all goal, when in fact, things are just beginning!

I love Disney movies. But they repeatedly got one thing wrong with their classic princess movies:

Marriage is once upon a time. Not happily ever after.

Happily ever after is years of commitment and devotion and love in the wake of an elderly couple still holding hands … not the first kiss after slaying the dragon.

The dragon invades our marriages in the form of finances, late oil checks, dirty diapers, dirty kitchens, morning breath, unseemly hair, burnt food, the Hallmark channel, etc.

So, a reminder to married people and to myself: let’s begin to treat marriage as the midst of a journey we’re trekking through, each bounding toward a certain goal, warding off the dragons together.IMG_1180

To those of you not yet married, start ingraining it into your heads that marriage is the start of a new life, not some early retirement.

I’m thankful to be married to my wife. Her corrections sometimes sting, and my attitude toward her often needs to be checked. But with her help, I am growing and learning, and without a doubt, I am a much better person today because of her than I was eight or ten years ago. (I dress better, too!)

And no matter what, I know she loves me, and I love her, and we never have to worry about who we’re going to spend Friday night with.

I only share the best on my new Author Facebook Page.

No TV For My Daughter

GA4051_2iwatch-tvIt may sound like a miracle, or even undoable or impossible, but our daughter is almost 13 months old and she has never once watched TV.

I work for a cable company and, let me tell you, it’s true what they say about TV being Picture 6the surrogate parent for children. If I get calls from customers and the cable’ s out while the kids are home there is going to be hell to pay and innocent people will be slaughtered throughout the world and nations will collapse until I get that TV back on.

Why? Because, let’s just get it out there – no one wants to actually spend time with their kids.

Let me disclose here that I am by no means a perfect parent in this regard (but my wife on the other hand…well, let’s just say that without her convictions and strength as a mother, I wouldn’t be writing this post).

We didn’t employ any fancy tricks or adopt some rigorous legalism to abide by. Simply put, we don’t think it’s necessary for a baby or toddler to watch TV. Whether or not it does any harm, what good could it possibly do?

Below are a few reasons why our little girl doesn’t watch TV.

1. The TV is not a babysitter or a go-to

Just as our little girl wouldn’t want to be replaced, we as her parents don’t want to be replaced by anyone or anything. We want to instill in her that we care deeply for her and that if she has problems, her parents – not the TV – are going to help fix things.

funny-reading-book-vs-watching-TV2. TV should not be our primary source of information

Call us old-fashioned, but we don’t believe you can learn everything there is to learn from the boob-tube. Books are where it’s at. That’s where you get all your knowledge and information and build your verbal and writing skills. The Internet, too, can be a source of education, if employed properly, but let’s be honest, the computer’s more fun for games, just as TV is served much better as an entertainment outlet. Let apples be apples and oranges be oranges.

3. I don’t want to watch Playhouse Disney or Spongebob SquarepantsClassicSpongeBob

Let’s be honest. No adult wants to watch those mindless fart-joke happy cartoons day in and day out. If the TV is going to be on, it’s going to be what Mommy and Daddy want to watch, because we’re the ones that pay the cable bill. This also is a great accountability paradigm because it forces us to cut back exponentially on shows that are damaging or inappropriate.

4. What’s wrong with family time?

Now, out of the whole household, I struggle with this one the most. I’m an introvert to a fault and I’m not of the mushy-huggy lovey-dovey persuasion, and would much rather spend my time advancing my career as an author, which can be just as bad as flopping down in front of the TV when my kid wants me to play with her, or my wife wants me to pay attention to her. But I think there’s definitely something to be said for old-fahioned family time, and the TV doesn’t have to be a part of it, at least not all the time.

Now, none of this is to say that we’re never going to let our kids watch TV. But we’re setting the ground rules now that the TV is not the ultimate go-to, that there are other ways to learn about the world, there are better forms of entertainment than cheap cartoons, and that we can, indeed, exist without cable in our lives and actually enjoy each other’s company.

Be sure to join my new Facebook author page for more fun stuff!

The American Dream Revised

Beach-beaches-4843817-1280-800-001

It used to be that people in America achieved the Great Dream by running and sustaining a business or trade, owning property, and passing down an inheritance to your offspring, be that monetary or a learned skill. But that Dream has morphed into something different over the years.

This is what the new American Dream sounds like: Pay off any debts and live on a private beach, emphasis on private. 

Nowhere in today’s revised Dream is there a place for work. To be more specific, people want to earn as much as possible doing the least as possible – and for most of us, that will always remain just that: a dream.

Me, I like to work – the issue is, the type of work I’m doing. My Dream is the freedom (or time) to do my work to earn money for me, not for a company. I want the freedom to travel so I can write about different locations and research history for compelling books.

Stop dreaming about doing no work and start thinking about doing your work.

Think about what energizes you. Maybe it’s teaching kids in Sunday school, or gardening, or critiquing restaurants, or sewing pillow cases.

Dive into your hobbies and personal projects as though you were making millions of dollars off of them. Become an expert in your field. And then find a way to make money off of it.

Make that your new Dream.

A Letter to My Foster Daughter on Her First Birthday

Little girl,

You’re a year old now, although we’ve only known you for 11 months. I’ll never forget seeing you for the first time in the nurse’s arms after the foster care program told us we could go see you in the hospital.

My first three thoughts were: You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. You look just like my wife – your foster mother. And, I know we’ll adopt you one day and you’ll be a Toy. 

I still think all three of those things every day.

Sometimes I go to work and I get a little teary-eyed when I think of you because I am just so thankful for you. And when I drive home, most days I just start laughing because I’m so excited to see you.

I’m always wondering what you’re going to be like when you grow older.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor going to be? What will you want to be when you grow up? Who will your favorite Disney princess be? Will you eat sugary cereal with your dad in the mornings, or share a pot of coffee with your mom? Will you love dinosaurs more or Volkswagens?

Last year we found you – and that made it the best year ever. This year will be even better, because I believe you will be a Toy, and we’re going to celebrate that for like a whole month (but really, for the next seventeen years)!

Your mom and I are so proud of you and are thankful for you. Nothing on the planet has ever made us happier and brought us so much joy and laughter. You, little girl, are the greatest gift we’ve ever received.

Happy birthday, Baby. Rest assured there will always be enough salsa in the house for both of us.

Love, Daddy

Hope you love the doll Mommy made you!

IMG_1487

Post Your New Year’s Resolutions Here!

2015 new years illustration with christmas balls

Happy New Year!

Even though we can start fresh any day of the year, this is the day to declare a new life path starting on 2015.

If you read my previous post about setting impossibly high expectations for yourself, and read my ridiculously ambitious goal, you’ll hopefully be inspired to tap into your inner child (or dreamer) and start laying out a path for yourself toward that goal today.

So now’s your chance to put it in writing. Share with the world, not your New Year’s resolution, but your life goal that you are going to actively start pursuing today!

Just click the title of this post and leave a comment below. Have you already written your own blog post about your new goals? Then feel free to paste the link below!

Share your impossibly high goals and inspire us all to expect better of ourselves!

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