Mar 062015
 

Hello all.  So I am back to writing my Friday posts all about being a Stay at Home Dad.

Last night I had a strange thought.  I was getting in the shower and there were no naked barbies in the tub.  Let me tell you, there is a creepiness that Mattel never intended with a Barbie doll that is your daughter playing with them in the bath, and subsequently leaving them there.  Without clothes.  Why? “Well Daddy, she can’t bath with her clothes on.”  was the logic from my oldest daughter, though she would probably deny that now.

 

Playing with the barbies in the bath would not be so bad, it is when I would go to take a shower and there were 10 of the things naked in the tub.  Made me feel quite creepy to tell the truth.  But last night there were no naked barbies.  Sure I had to clean up some hot wheels cars and a boat, but no barbies.  I had almost a nostalgic twang before the elation crept in.

 

My kids are growing up.  My youngest daughter is almost 9, and she rarely plays in the bath anymore, and when she does, she cleans up the toys.  The older kids just shower.  It is only my 4 year old son who has the bulk of the bath toys, and his are not barbie.

 

Mainly, I start thinking about how my kids are growing up, and the things that we are losing, or more correctly, just done with.  We start cleaning out things to send to charity, and many of the toys that we have accumulated over the years are not relevant or just not being played with anymore.  We don’t want to hang on to these, we don’t want to move them again.  We have thought about saving some for grandkids to play with in the future, but, looking at it, why bother?  By the time we have grandkids and unpack these wonderful (?) toys that we have saved, the plastic will be brittle, pieces will be lost, and there will be so many other new toys out there that it doesn’t make sense to save anything.

 

Some other things have gone away as well.  My favorite thing to get rid of was the diaper genie.  Now, the diaper pail is a great invention, and the diaper genie is great because it holds in some of the smell, but I’ll tell you, the day we thew that thing in the garbage 2 years ago I danced a jig.  We have finally now got rid of all diapers and pull ups.  Some days I am not sure if that is a good thing or not, it is easier to toss a pull up than wash out tiny underwear, but….I have a whole other post about potty training coming up.

 

In the end, there are some pangs of nostalgia for the things that we had to have when the kids were babies and now don’t need anymore.  There are strange feelings when you realize your daughter, your little girl, the one you held most of the first night when she was born the day before yesterday (now 14 years) now needs deoderant, or a bra….don’t get me started.  Or when your son starts to leak body odor like an Exxon tanker, and it is time for his deoderant.  Or when it is finally time to stop helping your kids bathe because they are just too old and it is not appropriate.

 

Yes there will be new things.  in about a year and a half, there will be a drivers license for my oldest, some pretty significant church stuff for my son, and school starting for the youngest.  Holy cow, I am getting old.  But I wouldn’t trade this for the world.

 

Until later,

 

-Justin

 

 

 

Jan 162015
 

head on back Here and read Part 1 of this story from yesterday if you haven’t already.

This weekend I taught my daughter 9 and my son who will be 7 in a week how to shoot.  They kind of knew about guns but had never handled one.  They mainly knew what they had seen on TV or in movies.  That of course is not necessarily  safe or correct.  **disclaimer here- Safety is my #1 priority when it comes to guns.  I once got knocked on my butt by my grandpa for turning around with my rifle (cradled and unloaded mind you, we just got out of the truck) and the muzzle passing within a foot of him.  Never forgot that.  Never lost track of a muzzle again either.**

Now, I needed to teach them safety but I didn’t want to be a Nazi about it.  Until I realized that I had to be a Nazi about it.  There was no getting around these rules.  There was no give to these rules.  That is why they were taught to me like that.  And you know, they seem to have taken just fine.  My son took them to heart and I only had to remind him a couple of times.  But I could not relax on the rules.

We went through the rest of the afternoon without a problem.  My son almost had it figured out.  He was almost hitting the targets at the end, but he was so tired he couldn’t hold the rifle anymore.  So of course I pulled out one of the big pistols and helped him shoot that.  I am not sure he could have smiled bigger without some sort of injury and the giggle that came from him was priceless.

I can only hope that I have done “it” right.  This is the first of many trips I am sure but I think this first one is one of the most important.  I’ll never forget the lessons I learned my first trip, and I hope he doesn’t forget his.

I also tried to teach my 9 year old daughter how to shoot.  She took a couple of shots and decided that it wasn’t for her.  I am fine with that.  Not because of some stupid notion that girls shouldn’t shoot, My aunt could shoot well, my Grandma was fantastic.  My sister could prune branches from a tree with a .357 Magnum when she was about 14.  My wife is pretty good as well, so that is not an issue.

My  daughter decided that it wasn’t something that she wanted to do.  She didn’t like the danger of it or what could happen.  Again, goal accomplished.  She may not be a shooter, but she knows how to handle a gun and she will be safe around them.  She told my wife and I later that she was afraid of the power that guns can have.

If you have read very many posts here you will remember that my wife is a trauma nurse in the ER.  She has all sorts of horror stories about people shooting each other.  Those have stuck with my daughter.  I respect that.  I won’t push her into something that she does not want a part of.  But, at any point, if she wants to learn more and shoot again, I am not going to be hesitant about it.

This was a great trip overall.  There is nothing quite as satisfying as sharing your passions with your kids.  Friends are one thing, but your kids are awesome.  I will never forget my son trying like hell to hit that bottle so it would explode.  I willnever forget his giggle at the boom and kick of the big gun.  I will never forget my daughter saying she was done and she was going to go hiking.

I will also never forget the nostalgia that I felt as I placed targets up on the trees.  There was a time I was walking back to our shooting “station” and I could almost feel my Dad and Grandpa there.  I would like to believe that my Grandpa, Great-Grandpa and my uncles who liked to shoot but have passed were there with us watching and smiling at me passing the traditions on to my son.

It was exciting but at the same time disheartening to take over my dad’s place as instructor.  Here I am, almost 36 years old and I am still growing up.  I am sure that there will be other episodes where I feel like that.  I just hope that I will do the right things when the time comes.

Until Next Time,

-Justin

Jul 092014
 

I feel like singing that old Tom Lehrer song, “Spring is here, Spring is here…” Oh here, just watch it.

While there may not be many pigeons meeting their demise at my hands, I can’t say the same for the fish.  The ice is melting, the sun is shining, the fish are hungry and so am I.  I just recently cleaned out my garage and nicely stacked my fishing gear near the door.  I am almost ready to put them permanently in the car for the summer.

I just love to fish.  I like to teach people how to fish.  I like to read about fishing so that I can be better at fishing.  This summer I will be fishing less and less, thanks to the money grubbing (insert your own insulting adjective here) people who sell gas and are making it hit $4 per gallon.  I can’t afford to go fishing; very often.

I will still manage a few trips to the over fished community ponds, and maybe I will take a long hike to a couple of lakes, but that will probably be it. I am not even going to register my boat this year, I don’t know that it will get used.  But I will still have my fishing license.  A side story on that, I was buying a little pistol last year for my birthday and I neglected to take in 2 current forms of address verification.  I only had one utility bill, but they were able to accept my fishing license as proof of address because it was issued by the state.  Second best thing I have ever used my license for.

Anyhow, most of you know that we are headed to Florida this year for my daughters Make A Wish.  No, I don’t think I will have any great deep sea fishing moments, and Disney only lets you fish in a couple of the lakes if you are a guest of the resort, but the place we are staying for the first part of the trip is made just for kids getting their wish granted.  They have all sorts of things geared to kids of all abilities and restrictions, including a fishing pond.  I do believe that I am going to volunteer to help these kids fish.

Some of them will never have had the opportunity to fish and I can only hope that they will get into the sport.  Some will only ever be able to fish there.  How could I not help?  Well, if they will let me.  I am going to try though.

For a long time I thought fishing was the best thing ever.  Now, after teaching my kids to fish, I find that bringing in new people is awesome.  My kids were asking me yesterday when we were going to go fishing.  They have the bug.  My 11 year old wants to learn to fly fish.  That may as well be Christmas morning to me.

So, for now, I will clean my gear, respool my reels, and hope that I can get out soon.  What about you all?  Do you fish?  Do you want to fish?  Are you willing to split gas so we can go together?  I would go with my friend Bob but Georgia is even further away than the mountains here.  Let me know what you all think down there in the comments.

Have a great day.

-Justin

 

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Jul 092014
 

A while ago I wrote a post about my aunt and going to her house in the desert and what was happening and what would happen when she was gone.  Well, this week she is gone.  She passed away last Saturday morning and I was asked to give a eulogy.  I’ll tell you, this was the hardest thing I have ever written.  I decided to just post the whole thing instead of trying to rehash it.  This is the first post.  Read it here.

 

It seems almost everyone knew her as Aunt Nora. She was a woman hard to define in just a few words, and I don’t know that we will ever know the real extent of her contributions to the world.

We are gathered here today in one of her favorite spots on the planet; this little white church.   I can feel her even now, looking down on us, coaxing each of us to hold to our faith, no matter the denomination. Her faith in the Lord never wavered in all of the years that I have been alive, and I believe it was never stronger than when she had this entire church join in with her praying for a miracle for my daughter. That miracle was realized when Amelia got her kidney transplant. It has shown me the power of applied faith, and group prayers, and leaves no doubt to the mercy of our Heavenly Father.

Since then, we have been down here, and joined her in this very church, thanking the Lord for his grace and mercy. Nora never wavered in her belief in the Almighty. She knew without question His love and grace. Now that she has returned home to our Father, I know that she is happy. She is where she always knew that she would end up.

They asked me to talk a little about what I remembered of Aunt Nora. Well, she was always there, always so permanent. She was my Dad’s aunt, my great-aunt, and my kids’ great-great-aunt, but she always seemed a bit more like Grandma. She was one of the strongest, most stubborn people that I have ever known. Life never seemed to get her down for long, she always rolled with whatever life gave her, and came out even stronger at the end.

She always had a story about either overcoming adversity, or making the best with what you had. She has told us countless stories of growing up in Indiana, helping to raise her brothers and sister, and having a home filled with love.

She was an inspiration to my family as we began to learn to overcome the obstacles that life throws at us. She always told us that we just had to have faith in the Lord, and he would take care of us. I know that this is true. She has helped to teach us about growing our own garden, and cooking everything from scratch. She was always more than excited to hand off a recipe or a little trick to get vegetables to produce more, or to save the fruit trees from bugs.

Her home is covered with pictures and mementos of her life. It is like a museum dedicated to her family. There are so many people in those pictures that I don’t know, but she knew them all. She could tell a story about every person in every picture. Many times that was all she wanted for Christmas or her birthday, was more pictures of the family.

My kids loved to come down to Aunt Nora’s. She gave them the rock hound bug and now they don’t go anywhere without picking up rocks and hoping for a treasure. I got that bug early as well. I can remember lots of times we would go picnicking in the mountains around here and come home with a bucket of rocks to polish.

She was the last of what I always thought of as the “older generation” on my Dad’s side of the family. Now, all we have left of that generation is memories of those who grew up without television, cell phones or the internet. There is a break in the history now, and I have to remember what Nora taught me of her generation, from their history, to their exploits, to their epic hunting trips, to their working conditions in the mines, and of times when life was much simpler. Times when siting on the patio and talking was prime entertainment.

I feel privileged to have known my Aunt Nora for my nearly 40 years. I am glad that my 4 kids knew her. I am glad that they are old enough to have heard some of those stories as well as learned some of the values and sensibilities of her generation that seem so old fashioned and worn out now. I try really hard to keep some of those values alive and not let my kids become like what much of the world is becoming nowadays.

This world will not be the same without Nora.  I don’t know exactly how many people were blessed by her influence over these past 92 years, but I am sure the list is long. The good that she brought into this community, and to this world will never be forgotten. Years from now Nora will be remembered by the people that she came in contact with, and those who they came in contact with and so on.

I know that she is finally, completely at peace. She has been welcomed to Heaven and has been reunited with her family that has gone before her. I really wish I could have seen her smile when Jesus opened the gates for her and said, “Welcome Home Nora, I am well pleased.”

Farewell to the last

You’ve had more life than most will ever, Your book of deeds is full,

            From rocks to mail, from fish to deer, Your life is now come whole.

            For Jesus welcomed you this week, With his sweet and open arms.

            He has watched you from afar, And knows of all your many charms.

            Much more to us you ever were, Than just a simple Aunt,

A teacher, friend, a grandmother too, who never said “You can’t.”

You’ve told us all the stories, That we did hunger for,

And prayed with us for guidance, Then showed us so much more.

The things you knew that no one else, Remembers now today,

You passed on to us on the porch at night, To ever guide our way.

You kept your head up, Through trials and troubles too,

You kept your faith and remembered well, That Jesus would see you through.

And now this life is over, The next in Heaven starts,

Where you’ll be teaching others, To keep the Lord close in their hearts.

I’d love to’ve seen your face, When Jesus welcomed you home,

And said, “Welcome Nora my dear, dear, one, You’ve nowhere else to roam.”

We will greatly miss you here, Upon this mortal coil,

Yet feel your spirit watching o’er us, As we finish with our toils.

Rest well my dear Aunt Nora, In our hearts you’ll always be,

Rest with those you love in Heaven, We will always remember thee.

We’re going to miss you Aunt Nora, we will never forget you.