Saturday, August 8, 2015

That Magical Place We Knew As A Kid (Part 2)

After passing through the deep valley where we always stopped to look for deer; we would continue on down the bumpy dirt roads towards the cabin. We'd have to take many twists and turns down different roads before reaching our destination. I always tried to remember which road was the correct one for us to turn off at, but I never could quite remember the right direction. Yet, for some reason I never once feared that we'd get lost. I knew that my dad knew exactly where he was going, even if I didn't. There was always that sense of security being in this different world, completely cut off from everyone else. Even though I was fully aware that I'd be completely helpless should I ever be left on my own, I still never had to feel that fear.

After we'd head down the last hill before reaching our cabin, we would first see the cabin that my Uncle Ken built. He had sold it to some friends of the family that we went to school with and were fairly close with in that chapter of our lives. About 200 yards beyond that was our cabin. We would slowly pull onto the needle and fern strewn ground, sprinkled with broken branches and deep roots that twisted in and out of the forest floor. Our car would slowly bob up and down as we passed over those roots, making our way in between two trees off to the left side of the cabin. For the most part, that would be the final resting place for our car while we were at the cabin.

Rear view of the cabin.

Almost like clockwork, mom and dad would start unpacking the car dutifully bringing things into the cabin, while my brothers and I more often than not, would run off to begin playing. One of the first things we often did was start gathering small sticks, twigs, and pine cones together to start the first fire in the fire pit. After all, the fire was one of the best things about camping. Since it was also a fairly long drive for three impatient kids, we often had to relieve ourselves in the outhouse. Since we didn't have any running water, it was either that, or we would have to find a tree. I don't think mom ever really cared for the outhouse.

Although there were many times that it was just our family (and usually our friends up the way) staying at the cabin, there were probably even more times when another family would join us when we went to the cabin. Three different families in particular have blessed me with life long memories at that place. My brothers and I had so much fun, if for no other reason than because we got to share this magical place with other kids around our age. We would run back and forth between the two cabins, pretending we were ninjas. Armed with long sticks stuffed down our pants, or tucked inside our shirts we were always ready for the evil enemy that lurked around every tree. Oh, and in case you didn't know, there are HUNDREDS of sticks that look just like pistols. That's because in our minds...they were pistols.

Front view of the cabin

One of the strangest yet greatest thing about the cabin was the spring. As I previously mentioned, we didn't have any running water (or electricity for that matter) at the cabin. So we'd have to take empty milk jugs and walk what felt like a mile, back up the hill that we came from when we first arrived to the cabin. Near the top of the hill, we'd exit off the road to the left, and walk down another hundred yards or so before reaching the spring. We could always hear the running water, long before we reached that spring. To my knowledge it was a natural spring, the origins from whence it came...I never knew. But long ago someone had put a pipe into the ground, and that's where the water would flow. It was completely covered in moss built up from the constant running water. There was also a metal box a few feet down from the "spout". People would often store their bottles of pop or other items in this box to keep them cool.

How we got all of our water while at the cabin

A couple years ago, Danae and I found ourselves visiting in Pennsylvania. We were able to take her up to the cabin to show her the place that I loved so much. I'm pretty sure she didn't quite feel the same warm and fuzzies that I did. But, I was glad she was able to see it for herself. Almost like a family ritual, my dad, brothers, and myself all went back to the spring, and each one of us in turn straddled the rocks on either side and cupped our hands into the frigid water for a sip. That was another strange thing about the cabin. Water in the area was always FREEZING, and it stayed freezing even after we brought it back to the cabin.

The inside of the cabin was by no means large, nor was it glamorous. But I never once thought that it was anything less than perfection. There was a very small kitchen/dining area upon first entering the cabin. In the back there were two beds on either side of the room, and in the middle was a sleeper sofa. All of us brothers loved sleeping on the fold out couch. I don't know if it was just more comfortable than the single bed, but it was definitely cool as we never slept on a fold out couch any other time than at the cabin. We would rotate who had to sleep on the single bed and the remaining two boys got to share the sleeper sofa.

Looking at the front door from inside the cabin

The kitchen/dining area. To the right is the ladder that led to the loft.
The bed mom and dad shared and the fold out couch

So what does a family do for a long weekend without running water or electricity? Plenty. This time period was well before the recent technological boom of our society, so thankfully we still had our childish imaginations fully intact. We spent hours just running around in the woods, playing whatever game or adventure that we could think up. We played board games, and learned how to play different card games. We would spend time up in the loft and read mystery books with some of our friends. There were actually two mattresses up in the loft, and when we had guests that didn't bring their own camper, they would sleep up there.

The loft. Pay no attention to the falling insulation.
The cabin also had a wood stove that we used to heat the cabin. There was a gas stove in the kitchen that we used to cook from (if we ever made a meal that wasn't utilizing the fire pit outside). That fire pit outside was where we enjoyed all kinds of hobo pies. For those of you who don't know what a hobo pie is, it's a little cast iron square (the size of a sandwich) that you put your ingredients into, and put either over the fire or place into the coals. The possibilities were endless. We made everything from toasted PB&J sandwiches, to pizza, toasted ham & cheese, and even desserts. The dessert was usually two pieces of bread sprinkled with powdered sugar, and some kind of pie filling or marshmallows inside. Of course we had potatoes that we'd wrap in tin foil and toss into the coals, plenty of hotdogs and roasted marshmallows. There was also a grate that we used to stretch out over the fire so that we could grill on top of it as well.

After the daylight was gone, we'd often all be outside by the fire pit. Each person would have their own lawn chair and we'd just sit and bask in the warmth, sharing stories and memories. Sometimes we'd swap riddles or tell jokes. Us kids would always collect a few long sticks to hold into the fire while it slowly ate away at that stick. We'd hold onto it until our hands would start to hurt, then it was time for another stick. Directly above us, the trees overhead opened up to the sky. You could always see thousands of stars.

We had so many great times at the cabin, and I could go on and on about the all the different things we did: hiking, the first day of trout season, pulling bullets out of the bullet stump, Jake's Rocks, Hector's Falls, Crocodile Rock, Kinzua Dam. We had so many great times there and I will always look back on those memories fondly. My hope is that one day, I can share the happiness I felt at the cabin with my own children. I imagine it won't be in the same place, but as long as we're together enjoying each other and making our own unique and lasting memories, it won't matter one bit.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

That Magical Place We Knew As A Kid (Part 1)

Danae's been mentioning to me the past few days, "I haven't seen you write anything for your blog in a while." I know, I know. I can't quite put my finger on it; call it lack of inspiration. More accurately put: lack of motivation. My tendency has always leaned more towards the lazy spectrum of life. I'll go through these highs and lows of drive towards different things. Take for example: the other day, I got it in my head that I needed to start cleaning. The house wasn't very messy by any means, but that's just what I was feeling compelled to do. So that's just what I did. The following day....not so much.

That's how it goes for me. I feel ready to go one minute, and the next I'm just as content to sit on my butt and stare at the ceiling fan. Oh, did I mention that we got a new ceiling fan? This one actually puts off a bit of wind, which is PARAMOUNT during our oh-so-beloved Texas summers.

The past few months, my thoughts have been traveling back to my family's trips to our cabin. My great grandfather Sam Mears, built a cabin in the Allegheny National Forest many years ago. Our family would take multiple trips to the cabin throughout the year, and I LOVED it! As a kid, there were hundreds of amazing things about that place. 

I vividly remember how anxious my brothers and I got as we loaded up the car so much that you couldn't see out of the trunk window. We often would fight who would get to sit in the back seat. That seat was often loaded up with the pillows and sleeping bags, which is a natural pre-built fort ready to accommodate the lucky inhabitant for the duration of the trip. 

It's amazing how in just under a two hour drive, the complete landscape of the world can change before your eyes. I remember it seemed as if we were driving to a different world. The trees became giants, the rocks and stones turned into cliffs, and the air always became more crisp and fresh. It felt as if this different world was very old, yet somehow pure.

Once we got to the entrance of the woods that would lead to our cabin (marked by the crossing over a specific railroad and emerging onto a dirt road) we were allowed to take off our seat belts and roll down the windows. I would get chills as I took that first deep breath, taking in the scent of pine, spruce, and hemlock. My dad always slowed the car down to take in the sights. I would always scan between the trees, hoping for a glimpse of a bear. I'm not sure if I ever came across one. 

At a certain point between entering the forest and arriving to our cabin, we would pass through a deep valley that stretched on either side of the road. The area was completely devoid of trees on both ends as far as you could see. I believe it was a power line trail. But, to our family that was the prime deer spotting location. Every time we went to the cabin and hit that specific spot, dad would stop the car (or at least slow down significantly) and check both sides for deer. It got to the point where we would anticipate reaching that mark of our journey. I'd dare say that now, most of the things I've just mentioned were all little parts of our journey that we anticipated the most. 

Not the actual power line trail, but a field in the area

But there were so many more great things to come...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Teething: Ain't nobody got time for that!

It's hard to get a clear picture from a fast screeming baby

Remember when you were a little one and you were sprouting your first set of chompers? No? Me either. I pray it's the same for our little guy. He's had the same four teeth for months now. He's currently 16 months old and we believe that he's starting to cut a few more these past few days. The poor guy has been miserable and has been making sure we're well aware of that fact. I can't blame him.

I remember what it was like having braces and that sucked most of the time. Each month (or however long it was), you'd go into the orthodontist and they'd tighten those metal contraptions to sloooowly move your teeth into the proper position. I can only imagine this practice evolved from some type of medieval torture device. "We have ways of making you talk Mr. Bond". I'm not sure which was worse, four years of that, or a super condensed week long version that Emerson is experiencing. Either way, I'm ready for it to be over. For both our sake.

The past two days have been much better. He's moved past the, "Get out of my way or I'll run you over with a steamroller" to the "I'm kind of miserable, please just hold me and everything will be fine". We've tried to use popsicles and other chilled teething toys, but he hardly wants to put anything in his mouth. Including food. He's always been a picky eater, but the last couple weeks have definitely been a challenge for Danae. I'm hoping that once his new teeth come through, he'll be so anxious to scarf down his meals that we we can slip in a few green veggies. I can dream right?

I was telling Danae that I remember as a kid, having insanely sharp pains in my legs. My parents told me they were due to me having growth spurts. When I'd go to sleep at night, we'd have to put hot water bottles on my shins because they hurt so bad. I don't remember how old I was, but I do remember how awful that was. Apparently this growing up stuff is hard. Whoda thunk it?

Overall, he really is taking it like a champ. He's at that age where he's very aware of what's going on, and what he'd like us to know, yet can't quite verbalize everything. Imagine how frustrating that would be! I picture being in a foreign country and desperately needing a specific type of medicine. You can't tell someone what you need because they don't understand you. It would be frustrating and scary.

Even though I know what's going on in his mouth, my stamina has been running low. I feel really bad getting frustrated with him, because I understand the root issue. But it's hard. It's hard to keep that game face on in the presence of a red faced toddler. I've been praying to be filled with patience and grace. I guess God's been sending me plenty of opportunities to practice just that.

Luckily, this is just a short season of life. I know it's temporary. I know it's not the most difficult thing for us on the horizon. It's always the most difficult when you're in the middle of it. I'm just anxious for that sweet hindsight. The time when we can look back on it and laugh as we think to ourselves, "Wow...we thought THAT was difficult?"

Keep going strong Emerson, you've just got a little further to go.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Getting Over Self

Growing up, I used to believe that I was a fairly laid back, easy going, and dare I say...outgoing person. I felt confident in who I was, especially when I was in my comfort zone surrounded by familiar people and places. I certainly wouldn't have considered myself to be high-strung.

It's amazing how quickly the door is flung wide open once you get married. All of a sudden, there's another person in your life 100% of the time. When you wake up, she's there. When you come home from work, she's there. When you go to bed, yup...there. The wonderful thing about this new person that soaks up every second of your life, is that she's not you. She has opinions, her own way of doing things, and her own free will. She folds clothes a certain way. She puts only the toilet seat down, while I also close the lid (mama taught me right). She grew up with different life lessons, different priorities, and different habits.

(Enter baby stage right). Now you've got a third person in your life, also there 100% of the time. Guess what? This little person also has his own opinion. And if he's anything like his mommy, that personality is a big one. He also does not have the same desire to do things the way that we do. After having been married for close to a decade, we've gotten into a sort of a rhythm. We're privy to each others ticks and the things that make us go bonkers. We know the buttons. Baby boy however, doesn't care about any of these things. He does like buttons though. Oh boy, does he like BUTTONS.

We come into this world as completely dependent individuals. Our entire being relied on those entrusted to care for us. How can we not grow up with an inclination to believe that our life truly is the center of the world. Because it's the very center of our world. Each and every day, our own thoughts rule and direct our lives. Every outside voice is either in harmony or conflict with the things we want and the direction we believe our life is moving. I think this is a major part of the struggle when new people come into your life.

I've been finding myself getting so frustrated lately because things aren't a certain way. It could be something as small as a dirty diaper sitting on the changing table instead of in the diaper genie. Sometimes it's a kitchen that's been messy for going on a week. Why do all of these things affect my mood? I think it's because they're not the way I would have them. Kind of makes it sound like my problem right? Exactly. 

1. My wants and desires do not dictate the priorities of others. 

2. The people I interact with, are not cognizant of every unspoken expectation.

3. If you want something done right, do it yourself. 

Sometimes I need to keep these things in the front of my mind and remember that my world is not the true center. It's okay sit on a pile of graham cracker crumbs at the end of the day. 

I've basically come to the conclusion that I'm not as laid back as I once believed. The reason I used to be, was because I only ever had to worry about my own needs. Now there's more cards in my deck. I've been given a responsibility, and responsibilities aren't always easy. I look forward to the challenge, and am becoming a slow learner. As long as my family can have patience and grace with my stunted emotional stability, we'll all be heading in a great direction.

I love my wife and son, and I would have my life no other way. Come what may, we're in this together!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Visit From The Family

The past two weeks I've taken a little bit of a break from writing. Two Saturday's ago, my mom and sister came down to visit us from Pennsylvania. The following weekend, my grandparents and my mom's boyfriend came down to stay with us for another week. It was a great time.

Everyone got to see how big Emerson's grown since the last time they've seen him. It's been about six months since the last time they've seen him in person. And in case you didn't already know this, little kids grow up A LOT in 6 month. Now that he's walking all over the place, talking up a storm, and wanting to constantly play, it was a real sight to see everyone being able to interact with him.

We know he had a blast as well. My sister Annika seemed to take on the role of "big sister" rather than Aunt. She played with him all the time and you could just see the admiration in his eyes when he watched her.

I still had to work during the time that they were here, but I was able to take the last Friday off before they went back home. During the days, everyone kept themselves pretty busy. They went to a community pool, our local park that has a splash pad, a couple malls in downtown McKinney, and occasionally outside on our new swing set (weather permitting of course). They even met me for lunch one day while I was at work. It was the first time they'd been to a Chick-Fil-A. Can you believe it?!

I'll be honest, we did do a couple things without Emerson. Danae's parents were more than happy to babysit for us. During those times, we went to the Mesquite Rodeo, and also to see Inside Out in 3D. Both of those were a blast!

We also go to show the family a bunch of restaurants that they don't have in Pennsylvania. We went to the Rainforest Cafe at the Grapevine Mills, BJ's Brewhouse, and Pluckers. Emerson was not all that crazy about the moving gorillas in Rainforest Cafe. He had been there when he was 3 months old, but I'm thinking he probably did not remember.

The last big thing we got to do was going to the Dallas World Aquarium. It was pretty fantastic. Emerson was able to walk all over the place thanks to this little monkey backpack he wore that had a leash so we could keep close tabs on him. It felt curiously similar to walking a dog. I thought I'd be getting plenty of strange looks from others for how we treat our child. We actually had one couple come up to me and practically offered to buy ours off of us. It ended being a real life saver.

It's amazing how quickly two weeks can fly by. But, fly by they did, and we were sad to see them go. It's always bittersweet saying goodbye when you know there's the possibility of months in between your next visit, yet at the same time there's a bit of a relief getting back to "normal". Thanks for visiting with us and we can't wait to get to see everyone again!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

How Important Is Your Name?

How important is your name? You had no say in the matter. You had no voice in the family you were born into, or in the region of the world you entered. But here you are. God saw fit to give you to us. So now what will you do with the opportunities laid out before you?

I can tell you what I see for your future. How I pray and strive to shape and mold you. Your mommy and I see a much different world around us than when we were kids (which wasn't all that long ago). It's a bit frightening to think that there will be an intangible disconnect between your parents and the outside influences of the world in a few years time. The time that you step out into this world and start making decisions on your own. But it's coming. 

So how important is your name?

Do you care that your story can travel far beyond your immediate reach? The people you interact with can have a chain reaction that moves further than you know. Will you choose to be a blessing to others? Will you learn to see the need of others? It's all too easy to overlook things that are outside of your world. Don't miss them. 

I'm going to help you along for the next few years that we get to have you in our home. I'll point out to you the places where your hand is needed, as well as the places where it's better to not be included. It's okay to remove yourself from a harmful situation. 

You're going to see daddy holding the door for others, not just women. You're going to learn to respect those in authority, responding with "Yes sir, no ma'am". You're going to learn to stand up for your siblings and your friends. You'll know how to speak in truth, but in love.

You're also going to know how to slow down and breath easy when life is pounding at your back. I'll try my best to show you how to lead by serving. Mommy and daddy are trying to make sure that there are other people in your life who value these traits and practice them as well. You'll be able to see how much better your world can be when we practice and cherish all of these things. 

There's chaos and confusion in this world. But, if you strive to see things through a clear lens, not diluted by selfish ambition, it's usually not too difficult to see what needs to be done. I'd wager that most people know what needs to be done, but choose to go their own direction. They're distracted by the dirt in their lens, and foolishly follow the things they think will lead to satisfaction. Don't be mistaken. It's always more satisfying to be a blessing to others than to yourself.

 Every action has a result. Everything we do in life follows this principle. The results may not be immediate or on a large scale, but they are there. You may not even be able to see them, but they are there. Don't forget the impact you will have on others. Be mindful of the impression you leave after you are gone. Make a conscious effort to bring joy into the world. Train yourself to leave that same kind of impression on others while not even trying.

You've been given a great opportunity being born into this world at this place in time. A time when you have the ability to reach so many lives. If you can keep one thing while you're on this world, keep your name. Take pride in it, and don't lose sight of the things that truly hold value.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Digging for Gold

I walk around, look up and down
So as to not get caught
“What’s this?” I wonder, a treasure to plunder?
But mommy calls it “snot”.

I run away, so that you’ll play
My game of run and chase.
If you catch me, I’ll squeal with glee,
You’ll see it on my face.

You must be quick so you can pick
The booger off my hand.
I have a hunch you’ll lose your lunch,
But now you understand.

My gift to you was overdue
I’m glad our game is done.
But wait one minute, your hand…what’s in it?!
Clean hands aren’t near as fun.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

15 months...

15 months and he's already picking up on SO MUCH!! I should be thankful right? I feel like I should be anyways. He's growing, he's learning, and he's mimicking as well. 

Do you know how easy it is to forget that he's in the car? I've never left him in the car before. I have forgotten that he was in the backseat while I was in the middle of some wonderful Texas traffic. God help me...I do a lot better with road rage most days, but every once in a while my attitude is not the most pleasant.

It's a bit scary at times to see how much he notices and mimics the things we do. We can stomp our feet like we're dancing, he'll dance right along. We can belt out an evil laugh, "Mu HAHAHA" and he chimes in with his own rendition. It usually sounds like, AH AH AH AH. It's pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

It's just a bit daunting to consider that although they pick up on all the cute and funny things that we try to teach them; they also pick up on those things we'd rather just forget about. The problem is that he was created with at least half of my character traits and half of Danae's. (This is my math of course, it could be give or take a few characteristics) Either way, I know myself, and that scares me. 

I mean yes, he got his good looks from daddy. He got his contagious charm from me as well, but did he get my temper? Did he get my tendency to go inside himself when he's frustrated (no, I don't think he actually got that one). I'd say he's fairly comfortable letting the world know when he's angry. 

Danae keeps reminding me how much he copies the things I do. I know somewhere down the road (and probably not too far down) I'm going to slip up. Say something I regret. Teach him something I wish I hadn't. React to something poorly, or even make a poor decision. I hope when those times come, he remembers the good things we teach. Isn't life all about balance?

We as parents have such a vital role in the development of our kids. My goal is for Emerson to be filled with the best characteristics that I can instill in him. I've got my own shortcomings and I work on those daily. Some days are worse than others. Every day when I come home from work, I try to take a second in my car to consider, "You've just punched out, now it's time to punch back in."

My job isn't done when I leave work for the day. My primary role in this season of life is a husband and a father. Work is secondary. I have no right to shut off when I walk through the front door. That's when my day should really start. Occasionally I'm all too eager to lose sight of that. Luckily, Emerson leaves little reminders in his actions that although I may not be paying attention to the effect I'm having on him, he's still watching.

"Daddy was using a hammer on the back door. I thought I'd use a wrench on the wall."

Monday, June 1, 2015

An Open Letter to My Obnoxious Wife

Dear Obnoxious Wife,

I wanted to write you an open letter to let you know exactly how I feel about you.

From the moment I walk through the front door at the end of my work day, I'm bombarded with hugs, kisses, and comments such as: "I love you", "How was your day?", and "What time would you like to eat dinner?" Just exactly who do you think you are? What about the occasional, "I'm thinking about taking Emerson out for a couple hours, would you enjoy some time to yourself?" Does it never end with you? How was I to know that I'd end up being the introvert in the family and need some alone time every once in a while? You noticed it as clear as day, and acted without hesitation.

I'll admit that I didn't know exactly what I'd be signing up for when I said those fateful words of "I do". But I know that I don't deserve this. How was I to know how much you'd infect me? How much you'd permeate and fix parts of me that I didn't even know were broken.

Your heart is too big.

I see the immense amount of compassion you have for others, how you relentlessly put other's needs before your own, even at the expense of your own discomfort or inconvenience. You just won't stop, will you? How many times do you need to see the smiling face of others, the kind words of thanksgiving before you're satisfied with doing beautiful things for those around you?

You're hurting my eyes.

In a world that's filled with darkness and filth, you hurt my eyes. Your words and actions shine so brightly that you illuminate everything you touch. Those you come into contact with don't even recognize how much you care and think of them.

Your prayers clearly go beyond the ceiling in our home. I'd dare say you're giving me plenty of practice patching all of the holes in our roof. Thanks a lot for that.

Oh, and thanks for being such a great mom. Anyone can see how much our child adores you. When he falls down and hurts himself (as every boy does), he'll run all around the house just to seek you out. And guess what, you're always there. I guess he must sense some sort of relief knowing that he's cared for, and loved so much.

So much love in this home.

Danae, you are the reason I much sometimes that my face hurts. Is it funny how occasionally it's the good things that cause physical pain? The laughter we've shared has led my stomach to ache.

You're the reason I dread having to stay late at work and why I rush to get things done. You're the reason I work hard to be more productive so that I don't have to lose any time with my family. You're the reason I have any drive to lead my family.

I don't deserve this, but I thank God that He saw fit to stick me with you.

Thanks a lot for eight years stuck in the same place with someone so wonderful.

You're my favorite,


Friday, May 29, 2015

A Dog's Life is Ruff

   If memory serves me right (which it often does not), we got our golden retriever Chase the first week after moving into our new home. We found a breeder out near Denton, and Chase was the last puppy available from her litter.

  I have always wanted a large dog. Little did I know that your house actually shrinks when you introduce a large animal into said home. Almost five years later we have a 95+ lb miniature horse that loves to gallop through our living space.

   We've gone back and forth over the past year debating on whether or not to keep him. But here's the problem when you introduce a dog into your life (at least from my perspective and experience), they almost immediately become a part of your family. Does that sound cliché? It probably is for a reason.

Here's a brief list of some pros and cons I've come up with:

   Loose dog fur all over the place, all the time
   Letting in a wet/muddy dog when it rains outside
   Potty training a puppy results in a permanently ruined carpet
   Large dog + small house = dog constantly under foot
   Heavy dog + your foot = involuntary expletives
   Big dog + big bowl of food = big poop to clean up

   Our golden retriever is one of the best family dogs I've ever seen
   He rarely EVER barks
   He's extremely patient with Emerson
   He gets scared during thunderstorms and loves to be close by, no matter where you are.
   He chews only on his bone and mostly nothing else
   He's never aggressive
   He's protective of his family if he feels something is wrong

   There was a time when we seriously considered getting rid of him. The real reason behind it? He was becoming an inconvenience to us. We had multiple reasons, but that was the bottom line. The problem with that? It's not his fault. It's not his fault he's big, it's not his fault our house is small, and it's not his fault that we chose him to be a part of our family.

   The older Emerson grows, the closer the bond grows between them. It is tangibly visible, and I think I speak for both Danae and myself when I say that we made the right decision keeping him.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Concealed vs Open Carry

   This past Friday, the Texas Senate gave its approval on House Bill 910: an expansion to the concealed carry license to include the right to open carry in the state of Texas. The bill will next be sent to the House for a vote and finally, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

   The concealed carry law has been in affect since 1995, yet the open carry has been banned for over 100 years. Currently certain long guns, rifles, and shotguns are already legal to have out in the open in certain locations. 

   I currently have a concealed carry license. I took the state mandated 4-6 hours of classroom/range time, filled out an application, got fingerprinted, and paid the state for my license. My original goal was not actually to carry in public. I initially only wanted a handgun to protect my family inside the home. You don't need a license in Texas to do that. I also wanted to become better educated on some of the laws that protected individuals in a self defense situation.

This is the concealed holster I own: Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 2.0
   The more I thought about it however, the more it made sense to me that the likelihood of something happening to my family outside of our home could far outweigh the chance of it happening inside our home. I understand that neither places are completely safe. One thing kept coming back to me. Should someone ever attack my family or threaten their safety, what would I be able to do? Using my gun would be the absolute last resort. I'm a firm believer that you do not pull your gun out unless you fully intend to use it. 

   Now that an open carry law is on the table, I'm once again considering my options. I feel that those who are legally allowed to carry in the general public could act as a deterrent to those who mean to do harm. On the flip side, how would we know who was legally able to carry and those who are bold enough to just show off their piece? 

   It was very strange walking outside my house the first time with my handgun tucked inside my waistband. I felt like the whole world could see it. We went over to Danae's parents the first time I wore it in public. I asked her dad the next day if he even knew I was carrying. Of course he had no idea.

   I can only imagine how it will feel in Texas once we start seeing handguns popping up in plain view for the world to see at the movies, in restaurants, in the grocery store etc. I'll admit, it will be a little intimidating to me for a little while, and I could very well be carrying one as well. It's just the nature of the beast. My father-in-law talks of a time when as a boy, you'd take your rifle with you into school. It wasn't a big deal. The majority of the boys hunted, and no one thought twice about it.

*side note, this is not my father-in-law*
   I believe 100% that we as citizens have the right to defend ourselves. Unfortunately, such a large part of the population feels "uncomfortable" about others carrying guns. I guess that's fine for them. I'll continue to carry as long as it's legal. I'll tell you what though, if my children were out at the mall and someone pulled out a gun and started firing off shots, I would be SO thankful if there was a stranger present with a concealed handgun.

   We live in a world with good and bad. Lawbreakers do not care about the laws that we put in place. That's why they're called lawbreakers. I just don't see how trying to place such tight restrictions on gun control can do anything positive for the general public. I for one, do not want to be stuck sitting idly by while someone intends to do harm to my family.

Friday, May 22, 2015

"Honey Don't List" #2 - The Rogue Toothbrush

   When you were first born, your world was limited to wherever your parents placed you at that specific time. You couldn't move around, you couldn't roll over, nothing. As you got a little older, your world slowly became a much larger place. After a while you learned how to roll over, you gained some neck control and could actually look around. Your vision might not have reached quite as far as it does now, but you could still inspect bits and pieces of your surroundings.

   Shortly after, you began to sit up, then eventually started crawling. This was the first real leap into this giant place that we live. We call it home. After plenty of bumps, tumbles, and fits of laughter watching mommy dive head first in an attempt to save her precious child, you learn to walk.

   Now you embody all that is Indiana Jones. Scaling the tall towers of the couch, diving backwards out of my arms into the treacherous sea of blankets on the bed, springing over the royal beast called Chase, you quickly gain an appetite for adventure and exploration.

   You find things hidden around the house long ago forgotten. You also hide things in those same places never to be seen again. And sometimes you surprise us with the things that you find amazing. The things that mommy and daddy would never think would need to be moved "out of reach". For example, the edge of the bathroom counter. A few weeks ago, this would've been a tower much too tall for even you to reach. Now, it is easily within your grasp.

   Daddy sits at work and gets a message from mommy, "Do you remember how I told you not to leave your toothbrush at the edge of the sink?" Instantly thoughts come rushing to my head. "Please tell me he didn't scrub the floor with it" (I have a major phobia of loose hair). Did he drop it in the toilet? Not this time, not this time.

Thankfully, he was just practicing... I will take that any day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Food Stuff. When you just can't think of what to call it.

   Who does the cooking in your family? Is it primarily one person? Is it a role shared by multiple people? Or does no one cook and the local delivery guys know you by your first name?

   In our house, Danae is the cook. And by cook, I actually mean chef. She can get an idea of something she wants to make and just throw it together. 9 times out of 10 it turns out great, and I always go in for seconds. 

   She has this 6th sense that she got from her dad. It's the "I bet it would be better if I added THIS!" And BAM!! Just like Emeril Lagasse, she kicks it up a notch. 

   I'm not the worst cook, but i need to have exact measurements of everything in place ready to go before I start. And heaven forbid I try to get more than one item going at once. I just can't get the timing right. I'll get the chicken going but put the bread in too late. Now the chicken's done but the bread is still cooking. 

   Since she's the pickier one of the two of us, and it tends to work out well. She can make something she likes and there's a pretty good chance that I'll enjoy it as well.

   On the flip side of all this, I'm the baker. You see, in baking, it's pretty crucial that you get the majority of the ingredients down correctly or you could end up with a not so sweet treat to eat. Sure, you can always add a little something extra, but for the most part you stick to the script. And I'm good at that. 

   Over time you start making the same meals/desserts over and over again. You become better at making them; they become easier to make. You take a dish over to a party. This is how our conversations end up going:

Friend: Wow, this (insert delicious dessert descriptive) is really good. What's it called?

Me: Uhh....*I quickly scan the room for Danae. She usually has the answers*...It's Cookie Stuff

Friend: Cookie stuff?

Me: Yup, cookie stuff. Glad you like it. 

   We now have a list of recipes including: Cookie Stuff, Pasta Stuff, Cinnamon Apple Stuff, Spicy Queso Pasta Stuff, the list goes on and on. 

   I'm not sure if that makes us lazy, BUT should you get the privilege of joining us for dinner and we make a dish ending in stuff, you can bet your bottom dollar it's going to be delish!