Month: May 2011

Amazing Powers of Observation

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Emily spent 30 minutes yesterday looking for her blue Nintendo DS.  She looked in every room.  She looked high and low.  The only place she didn’t look?  In plain sight.

April and I spotted it pretty quickly, but we let her look anyway.  It was a good lesson for her.  The same lesson I remember my parents teaching me many times.  The difference though is that it’s much more fun on the parent’s side.

I grabbed my iPhone and snapped a photo of her looking in the family room under the couch.  I put a red arrow pointing to the blue DS on the coffee table.  Ahhhh…..I love being a parent. 🙂

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Em’s Words of Wisdom #2

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“Alaska is cold because it is closer to the North Pole and farther from the equation.”

-Emily Jackson, Age 8

A Humbling Experience

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Having been involved in emergency services in both the public and private sectors for many many years, I can tell you that nothing prepares you for actually being at ground zero of immense destruction.  It is breath-taking.

I had the opportunity to travel to Joplin, MO yesterday with some colleagues from the Sam’s Club Home Office.  For the benefit of those that aren’t aware or don’t remember, Joplin was struck by an EF5 tornado this last Sunday.  The tornado was on the ground for several miles (including the main part of town), destroyed over 8,000 buildings, and killed over 120 people.

I’m always amazed by the level of strength that people display during events like these. The level of patriotism and sense of community could be felt in the air wherever you went.  Everyone I talked to was relatively upbeat and bent on recovering.  There were smiles and hugs.  There were people from all over the region there to help prop this community back up.  While the road to recovery will be long, but the people of Joplin will recover.

Our small team spent the day helping three different business members.  Amongst all of the destruction, it’s humbling to think that our few hours of labor actually meant anything in the grand scheme of the needs of the community.  However, it is hour after hour, day after day that recovery occurs.  And there is no donation of time or resource that is too small to help make a difference.

We tried to make a difference in the lives of three.  The first was a small restaurant by cleaning their shop.  The second was the elderly mother of a construction company owner, who hadn’t had time amidst the chaos to collect valuables from her destroyed home.  The third was a series of small companies, where we moved tons of office equipment and paper from one location to another.

I am posting several pictures so you can see first hand the level of destruction.  This is similar to what you see in the news, but let me tell you that when you add the physical touch, smells and sounds of ground zero along with the images in vivid detail, you gain a completely different sense of reality.

For my children, I leave these three lessons.

  1. Stuff Isn’t Important.  As we scrambled through this elderly lady’s destroyed home that was missing it’s roof and parts of walls, with rain beating down on us, there was an overwhelming feeling of “what things do I help her save”?  With the weather getting worse, we had to make quick decisions.  I tried to take my cue from her.  Did she want the grandfather clock?  Or some of her more expensive possessions?  I heard her mutter, “I just need some clothes to wear.”  So, we spent time unloading the closet of clothes and other basic items.  At the end of the day, she just needed the basics to get by.  In the big scheme of things, all the material stuff that we tend to cling to and own doesn’t define us.  Stuff just isn’t that important.
  2. Contribute to the Greater Good.  While we were at the last business, there was a paid temporary worker also doing some clean up along with us.  In a conversation, he seemed baffled by the fact that we were there volunteering to help.  He kept asking, “Why?”  The repeated answer was, “Because, we want to help.”  There was no ulterior motive.  We just wanted to be part of doing something good and right.  We just wanted to be part of making someone’s life better.  If you have opportunity as you grow older to help in situations like these, do so.  And do so without motive of gain or greed.  Just do so to make someone’s life better.
  3. Life Goes On.  Disaster after disaster, I have seen people’s lives ripped apart, homes destroyed, and communities devastated.  But I have also seen them all rebuild; and they usually rebuild them stronger than before.  The human spirit is an amazing thing.  It is stronger than most people would think.  And in times like these, that strength shines through.  If you ever find yourself as a victim in this type of situation, know that you are stronger than you think and that life will go on.

Crying like a Little Girl

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At Emily’s end-of-season soccer party, the girls were running all over the park playing, jumping and having a blast.

With parents looking on, Emily was running near a flower bed, when she tripped and hit her shin on a step.  We instantly knew that she hurt herself, because you could see it in her face.  But she stayed calm, regained composure quickly, shook it off and acted like nothing happened.

Later, on the way home, we asked her about the event and told her that we knew she hurt herself, but were proud of her for being so strong.

She quickly responded, “Good! Because on the inside I was crying like a little girl!!”

It was all we could do to contain our laughter at the irony of her statement.

Em’s Words of Wisdom

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Jason and I have been getting up every morning and working out.  When I checked on the girls the other morning, Emily was awake for some reason.

Emily:  “Mom, what are you doing?”

Me:  “Dad and I are about to exercise…..Go back to sleep.”

Emily:  “You are exercising at 5:44 in the morning?!”

Me:  “Yes.”

Emily:  “Weirdos!”

Hmmmm…..Maybe she’s right!!

Fun Day for Em and Me

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On Saturday, Emily and I took a trip down to Fayetteville, AR – just her and I.

It initially started out as some errands, but turned in to our own little adventure.  We had a blast!

Once our errands were completed, we decided to go to the mall.  We hadn’t been in quite a while and this was a chance for us to go with no agenda and just “be”.

One of the first stores we went in to was Romancing the Stone, you know….the store that smells like incense and is filled with flower child memorabilia.  We had the best time goofing off.  We tried on Mardi Gras masks, played with hermit crabs, and found a bunch of stuff on sale that had peace signs on it.  Emily made out like a bandit because of that sale.

At checkout the clerk asked us how we were doing and I said, “Awesome!”  Surprisingly, my answer took her aback a little and I could see her wheels were turning before she responded with a “that’s great”.  I guess she get’s a lot of “okay” answers or just gets ignored altogether.  As our conversation continued, she said, “Some one must love peace signs.”  I said, “Is there any other way to be?”…..which again surprised her.  Finally, she asked if it was someone’s birthday or something.  I responded, “No.  She’s just awesome.” and motioned over towards Em.  The clerk got a big grin on her face and said, “You should write a book!  More dads need to do nice random things for their daughters.”  I agreed and smiled……then we were off to the next store.

We made our way around the mall visiting store after store – trying on hats and being silly.  When we got to Dillard’s I found some shirts I liked, so went to try them on.  They had a single little dressing room below the escalators.  Each time I would go out to look in the mirror, Emily would go in the dressing room and lock me out.  When I would knock, she would say, “What’s the password.”  Of course…the password changed every time.  About the third time that I was locked out, I couldn’t remember the password.  I kept rattling off passwords and didn’t feel dumb until I looked over and saw some lady looking at me really funny like I had lost my mind.  I just gave her a half-smile and then told Emily I was leaving, which prompted her to unlock the door.

After the mall, Em and I headed over to the Guitar Center.  I thought she was going to rush me through there, but it turned out that she was just in to it was I was.  She was jamming out in the keyboard section and I was actually impressed that she jumped right in to playing some tunes.  I was looking at some recording gear when I heard, “DAD!  You HAVE GOT to check this out!”  She grabbed my hand and took me to the live music area (where they sell live performance gear like speakers, amps, mixers, and lights).  I think it was the performance lights that got her excited.  I found a guitar and plugged in to the Bose L1 Compact system and started strumming away.  What a blast!  ….now how to convince April that I need one of these Bose systems….Hmmmmm ….Father’s Day IS coming up.

While at the Guitar Center, Emily said she had to go to the bathroom.  We had to wait as the women’s bathroom was in use.  After a minute, a young lady (highly redneck would be best way to describe her) emerged and Emily ran in and shut the door.  Emily immediately emerged and stated loudly, “Ewww Dad!  She didn’t flush!”  What she didn’t realize is that young lady was standing about five feet from me around a wall.  Embarrassing for me, but I guess she should have flushed.  Got to love the honesty of kids.

Before we left Fayetteville, we stopped by a movie theater parking lot where we saw a yellow Volkswagen Bug pull in earlier.  Emily is really big in to “Slug Bug” right now and this one had some extra special decals on in.  So we stopped by for a quick picture.  I think all in all, we were even on “slug bugs” for the day about 9 or 10 each.

Everyone should have random days of fun – just because.  And for us, it was a great Fun Day for Em and Me.

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Ava’s Awesome Antics

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I am so very blessed to be able to spend every day with Ava.  She constantly makes me laugh!  I am going to share some stories that have happened recently.

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The other day I was dropping Ava off at her preschool.  After putting her backpack and lunchbox away, I was ready to leave.  So, I told her to give me a kiss and a hug.  She gave me a quick kiss and hug and then put both of her hands up, palms facing me, and said “Now…Go home mommy!”

Clearly, she doesn’t have separation anxiety.  I, though, am another story.  I was really hoping my baby would need me a little longer, but *sigh* I guess they have to grow up.

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We have a company come out to spray our lawn for weeds and fertilize it.  They came the other day and left a note to stay off the grass until it dries.  It was a beautiful day and after Ava woke up from her nap she immediately wanted go outside.  I told her that she couldn’t go yet because the grass was wet and we needed to wait until it was dry.  Her response…..”Get a towel!”

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One of Emily’s soccer games was cancelled due to a quick moving rainstorm.  It started raining just as we arrived for the game.  The sun was shining at the same time and a beautiful rainbow appeared that we all enjoyed.  I have never seen a rainbow so bright and complete.  The picture really doesn’t do it justice.  We were all amazed and in awe…..even Ava!  She said it made a tunnel.

About a week later this was what we saw after taking Emily to school:

Ava saw it first and pointed it out to me. It was basically two ends of a rainbow on either side of the sun.  Ava was quick to point out that there was no tunnel this time!