A Walk

It’s winter and a lot of things suck about this season, particularly in Kansas. It’s cold. Bitterly cold, actually. Even when it’s not actually bitterly cold, Kansas gets windy and totally-adaptable temperatures become shiver-spreading snot-freezers.

The problem is that I have a toddler, and toddlers can only be kept in a house for about a week before the rage in their eyes becomes your eternal regret. Yesterday we decided to go for a walk.

Adventures

When I was a kid my grandpa would take me on “adventures.” Generally it was just a long walk, and generally there would be something memorable about it. One time we found an arrow. Another time he found something vulgar scrawled in the dirt on the trail and used his shoe to cover it up. He never told me what it said. I have very fond memories of those walks so I intend to pass that on to my kids.

Our Adventure

Thing 1 and I walked down to the park and she got up on the outdoor stage. She’s been singing a lot lately and any chance she has to get on the stage is a thrill for her. God help me.

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So we played on the stage for a bit then walked down near the river. The water is pretty low, so a normally-submerged bank is visible, complete with mud, trash, and a lot of sticks.

She had picked up a smallish stick earlier in the walk, but we found a neat new stick with a 90 degree bend in it. She grabbed it and dubbed it her new walking stick. I found a good stick for myself and we made our way home.

We cleaned our sticks but she was a bit upset that hers had little knots in it that hurt her hands when she grabbed it. We grabbed dinner and went to mom’s house. She has tools. Lots of tools.

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We scraped, sanded, cut and measured, probably not in that order, and ended up with a pretty sweet little walking-stick for Thing 1. She’s pretty proud of it.

And we did it using all of Grandpa’s old tools, so that was nice.

I’ll probably try to find some way to seal it and maybe color it a bit, but it’s smooth and kinda neat now. I’m kind of proud of it. Thing 1 sure loves it.

The end-result.

The end-result.

 

Stop It, Me

Pulls me back and forth
But never where I am now
Learn to be happy

PANO_20160116_195736

Slow Down

My last post was all about slowing things down and being more intentional than I had been. A lot of last year was reactive for me. A thing happens, I react, move on to the next thing. As it turns out, too many things happen and my ledger starts to fill up with constant catching up.

So I decided to make a change. And then I found myself at Monster Jam.

Here’s the thing I learned about myself from going to this event.

 

Life is pretty exciting when you let it be.

 

I was offered a free ticket. Normally this would not be on my radar as an event I’d attend. I’m not even sure I knew it was a thing that still happened. I had, however, heard of Grave Digger.

I tend to be an evangelist for leaving one’s comfort zone, so I decided to go. I’m a car enthusiast, I can appreciate loud engines. I had something of an epiphany while I was there.

There’s More

Seriously. I’ve fought my entire life to break out of my habit of sticking with what I know. Every time I break it I experience something new and awesome, but for some reason I always go back to my “comfort zone” and become an experiential recluse.

If you’re willing to drop your stupid preconceptions, or even drop the ones that you think are justified, you’re going to find new things you love. You’re also going to find new things you don’t love, but experiencing those things becomes the yardstick for the stuff we love.

I truly enjoyed myself at Monster Jam, definitely beyond what I expected, and it reminded me to keep breaking out of the box. Or drive over it with a big truck.

Slow Down

I was actually able to go to Monster Jam because I had time. The last two years have become a whirlwind of involvement for me. I regularly contribute to so many different ventures that I more-or-less blew out my calendar for two whole years. I found that a lot of what I was doing was happening simply because I could.

So, my experiment for 2016 is to cut back on those things. I’m trying to stay involved in the things I love, things that grow me creatively or emotionally, and spend much more time with my family. I’m trying to find ways to model a rewarding lifestyle for my kids because youngling #1 is already watching everything I do and starting to model her actions after mine, for better or worse. It’s time to model things “for the better.”

So yeah, slow down a bit, friends. Find the things you love.

Light through the frost.

Whirlwind

Wait.

Where’d December go?

For that matter, where’d 2015 go?

Oh no…

Last month was a cracked-out emotional and mental hodgepodge of a December. Obviously holidays are a busy time, but holy-jeeze. Now, I realize I’ve basically been blogging “I’m too busy” for like a freaking decade, but December was notable because of different reasons.

Namely, future plans and development.

Over the last four years or so I’ve built up a lot of extra-curricular activities through music, development, computer stuff, games, and hobbies, all on top of the normal time commitments to family and (sometimes…) friends.

The last half of this year I made a decision that I was going to start winding down on that sort of thing and start focusing on the three or four things that really matter to me and make a difference in my life. Basically, it’s the result of a period of two months or so where I had to take a month and basically work most evenings to wrap up a bunch of projects. It took away time from family, friends, hobbies and even relaxation. It was ugly.

Anyway, December was my final push to rid myself of these loose ends. For all intents and purposes, it seems to be wrapping up for realsies. I even played a video game because I had the time to do it this week. It was neat.

So, January 2016 is here. The year 2000 turned 16 and is now allowed to drive. Scary thought.

I’m making a concerted effort to refocus. Mainly, that means that I’m focusing on learning, reading, improving. Naomi bought me a Kindle for Christmas and I’ve already powered through a couple books, bought even more, and plan to read until my eyes bleed. Or until Matt asks me to play Rocket League.

Anyway, boring post, I know, but I don’t make any money on this blog so I don’t have any incentive to impress you. Just saying.

This guy.

Twice as Nice?

So we got this new kid and he’s pretty cool. Our daughter is basically in love with him and it’s flipping adorable. I have found that having two children is different than advertised. Let me tell you the things I’ve learned so far and attempt to make it kind-of-funny so we can get through this with all our wits and still be internet-friends.

It’s Easier Than People Said

Let’s get right out of the gate here. We had people telling us that two kids was a completely different ballpark than one kid, and it is. That said, I have to concede that some people may have set the expectations a bit high for us. Maybe their kids really are drastically more difficult than ours, maybe the political season has boosted everyone’s hyperbole, but (admittedly, this is soon to be making this declaration…) three weeks in, sure there’s lots of newborn things to do but we still do all the same things we did before.

I should probably point out here that my wife and I have talked about this and she agreed with me last week. This week, she’s had less sleep than before and may have changed her mind. I’ll follow up. 

Won't even let me take a decent photo...

Won’t even let me take a decent photo…

Our First Kid Was Harder

That first rodeo was completely new to us, and sure it was difficult, but we didn’t realize just how difficult until this kiddo showed up. Our daughter cried a lot. A LOT. “Happiest Baby on the Block” saved our bacon, but one rage-fueled sofa-punch did cost me my old phone screen. So far, this kid only cries when he’s being changed or hungry, both are pretty easily fixable situations.

Kids Are a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

It’s pretty simple. If you think kids suck, and you have kids, your kids will suck. They may not actually suck, but you’ll think they do. If you think kids are great, you’ll think having kids is great. Excluding the obvious outlier situations, your own attitude has basically a 1:1 ratio on the outcome of your kiddos. I’m gobsmacked at how many parents don’t get this. This isn’t even really about parenting, because you can approach life this way, day to day.

I discovered this because, while I liked kids before, I didn’t really have a baseline for what it was like to be a parent (obviously) when we had our first. In two and a half years, I’ve found how much I care about that little debris-spectre and knowing that made me instantly excited when I met our son. It took me a while to bond with our daughter because I was learning the landscape, but it took far less time with our son because I knew what to expect, and knew that I loved our kids.

D'awww

Kids Have Weird Stats

Every kid is different. If you become a parent, 4,372 people a month will utter this cliche at you, usually accompanied by some quip about their kids and how awesome/awful/smart/dumb they were. This is a given. Kids are different.

However, the measure to which they are different is really interesting. I think each kid is born with a really interesting and unique set of stats. Our daughter had +8 to crying, +4 to cuteness, and +5 to adorable-laugh. Our son, so far, has +25 to explosive-diaper-power, +10 to urine-volume, and +1 to Jaundice, but that last one is dropping quickly.

In Summary

I think it’s been really crucial to our parental success that we approached both kids with a “we don’t know what to expect so let’s figure out how to roll with the punches” attitude. Ultimately, I think the only bad call you can really make is to set an expectation so thoroughly that it’s going to throw you off completely and befuddle you beyond comprehension if the expectation doesn’t pan out.

Please don’t come to the conclusions that this post is a “general rule for all two-children families.” That would be a dumb thing for you to do.

Family Douchebag

Consider your faults
lest you shame your family
by being a douche

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