Tag Archives: children

This Mess

11 Jul


My life’s a mess.
I woke up this morning and stepped on a pile of books.
I stumbled into the bathroom to take a shower, but had to remove a million toys from the tub.
A rubber ducky leaked on my leg.
I poured a bowl of granola, sat at the table, and felt something between my toes.
I wiped my brow in relief, it was only some black beans. It could have been much worse.
As I sat there crunching away I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about this beautiful mess called my life.
I smiled at the thought of Addie pouring oatmeal on her head as she learns how to use her spoon.
I thought about Ellie running out of the bathroom naked and sopping wet as she says, “I want Daddy.”
I thought about my beautiful wife who is adventuress enough to take a toddler and an infant camping, and then willing to document our disheveled self for all to see.
My life’s a mess.
Today, I’m embracing it.

You can embrace the mess today.
God’s willing to embrace you.
Regardless of your mess.

I won’t even tell you what my car looked like….

Disappearing Acts: A Whistle In The Dark Teaser

24 Apr

His heart felt like it was going to beat out of his chest, and he knew if he didn’t act soon, he might not act at all. He counted to three slowly and then jumped up shocking the ducks like he was a human jack in the box with a gun. The sound of fluttering thunder filled the air as the ducks fled for their lives. Eaner’s legs wobbled slightly as he lifted his gun and took aim. Nervousness told him to shoot quickly before they were gone, but his dad’s reminder of the time he had steadied his trigger finger while he took aim. He flashed back to the round clay disc as he locked in on the bird letting his gun move a steady trail just ahead of the ducks projected flight pattern. His finger squeezed as he felt the instant impact shock his shoulder quick and powerfully, but not letting the force detour the guns pattern of motion until he saw the duck flutter and nose dive towards the golden brown ground. Just thinking back on it all lifted his countenance and brought a large grin to his face, but it slowly disappeared as the realization hit him that it would never happen again. His dad would never be able to take him duck hunting, or fishing, or too his favorite thing ever, a St. Louis Cardinals game.

The Lanyard: A Darn Good Poem

20 Apr

Excerpt from: The Trouble With Poetry And Other Poems by Billy Collins

The other day as I was ricochetting slowly off the pale blue walls of this room, bouncing from typewriter to piano, from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor, I found myself in the L section of the dictionary where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist could send one more suddenly into the past–a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp by a deep Adirondack lake learning how to braid thin plastic strips into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard or wear one, if that’s what you did with them, but that did not keep me from crossing strand over strand again and again until I had made a boxy red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts, and I gave her a lanyard. She nursed me in many a sickroom, lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips, set cold face-cloths on my forehead, and then led me out into the airy light and taught me to walk and swim, and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard. Here are thousands of meals, she said, and here is clothing and a good education. And here is your lanyard, I replied, which I made witha little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart, strong legs, bones and teeth, and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered, and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp. And here, I wish to say to her now, is a smaller gift–not the archaic truth

that you can never repay your mother, but the rueful admission that when she took the two-tone lanyard from my hands, I was as sure as a boy could be that this useless, worthless thing I wove out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

Billy Collins

Underground Sanctuary’s: A Whistle in the Dark Teaser

19 Apr

“Over here.” Eaner exclaimed jumping off the side of the stairs next to the secret storm drain as Henry followed close behind.  “You’re going to get a little dirty,” Eaner warned, “but it’s totally worth it I guarantee.” “That’s okay; I don’t mind a little dirt.”  Henry stated, watching Eaner lower himself to the ground next to the entrance.  “Follow me.  There’s a little bit of a drop off, but it’s not bad.”  Eaner told him.  Henry just nodded and lowered himself to the ground as well, as Eaner disappeared into the hole.  Henry landed just as Eaner flicked on the flashlight, revealing the spectacular hidden world before them.  “Whoa!  What is this place?”  “It’s an underground storm drain that runs underneath the whole town.”  “This is so cool.”  Henry exclaimed.  “You haven’t seen anything yet.  Wait till you see my secret place.”  Eaner said, gesturing for Henry to follow him down the tunnel.  They approached the massive metal red door as Eaner grabbed his stashed tools out of the tin can, and began jimmying the door open.

Eaner had the door opened in a matter of seconds in usual fashion as he pulled with might exposing his sacred chamber to unsuspecting eyes for the first time.  Eaner watched Henry’s expressions of delight and awe like a proud parent on Christmas morning as he took in the magical sights and smells revealed to him.  He was speechless for a few moments as he took in the endless possibilities of adventure presented to him.  “This place is so awesome!” He said dumbfounded as he watched Eaner grab the lighter on the table next to the door and begin lighting the candles placed around the room.  “I told you this was the greatest place ever!”  Eaner replied.  “There’s more down here as well.  I’ve found so many amazing things.  Maybe you can help me gather more stuff for our fort too?”  “Yeah, that would be great!  We need some more furniture down here, and then we could just live here forever.”  Henry replied excitedly.   “Yeah, no kidding,” Eaner chuckled as he walked over to an old faded orange metal cabinet.  He twisted on the long slender handle jolting the door back and forth as it refused to relinquish its stubborn grip as Eaner put his full weight into the effort.  The bending door finally surrendered, sending Eaner shooting backwards from the sudden release.

Anniversary Dates You Didn’t Know Existed

18 Apr

Last night my wife and I brought our 1 year old over to some friends house for dinner. As new parents we are always freaked out about other peoples things since our little girl could careless about stuff and just wants to put it all in her mouth or throw it on the floor. Thankfully, last night was the perfect house to bring her since their living room was showcased with stuffed animals, Build-A-Bears to be exact, and a small wooden rocking chair placed in the dinning area just for her riding enjoyment. As my daughter man handled ever animal she could get her grips on, we soon discovered that every bear came with a story. Most of the animals were gifts, and after further conversation we realized they were anniversary gifts at that. Now, as a newlywed, I’ve discovered that the term ‘anniversary’ has a very loose definition that no man on the planet can define or fully comprehend. Remember that time in sixth grade when they separated the boy’s and girl’s to give you the ‘big talk,’ and each gender was wondering what in the world the other was hearing about. Well, I ‘m convinced that in that class all little girls were informed of anniversary dates that should be adhered too in a marriage relationship. These are not dates that will come up until after the wedding bells, so don’t try to figure them out before the big day. Remember these dates or suffer the consequences.

1. The First Date: I decided to start with an easy one. The first date is a no brainer, right? Well, this would be the case if you knew the first date. The fact is, you only think you know the first date. In her mind the first date actually started two days before the actual date. Why, you might ask? Well, remember that time you and her were out with a bunch of friends. You didn’t classify it as a date, but believe me, she did. If you don’t remember this date, which you won’t because you don’t even know when it is, you will be in the dog house. Good luck.

2. The First Time You Met: I bet you didn’t realize this was an anniversary. It is. Don’t make the mistake of over looking this crucial day, because if you do, you’ll be sleeping on the futon in the kids room. In your mind, this date ranks right up there with the first time you guys ate spaghetti together, but to her it’s the beginning of it all. If you don’t remember this date, find out quick.

3. The First Gift: One day you’re going to walk in the door from work and she is going to hand you a present. Panic will immediately set in because you’ll know you forgot something, and then she’ll remind you of the first present you ever gave her. It’s in this moment you’ll realize this is a special anniversary date you have forgotten. At this point it’s to late to do anything, but by now you’re starting to realize there are a lot of dates you don’t seem to have marked down. If you’re smart you’ll buy a couple presents, wrap them, and keep them in your car. This way you can always say, “Oh, I forgot your present in the car.”

4. The First Time You Met Her Parents: Remember this awkward day? This event is one of the official markers of commitment in her mind, so don’t forget it. The day she invited you over to meet the parents was actually the day you proposed and didn’t know it.

5. The First Time You Talked Marriage: Remember that time you were watching the Princess Bride, and that funny look guy that say’s “Mawage, is what bings us togeber today?” Well, that was your first official conversation about marriage and you totally missed it. I can only pray you don’t forget this while she’s pregnant.

6. The First Time You Talked About Having Kids: This one will be a challenge for you to remember because it wasn’t an actual conversation. You were at Best Buy getting ink for the printer and you saw a cute little kid and said something like, “Wow, that’s a cute little guy. I can’t wait to have kids.” She won’t even have said a word, but that date was just logged into the database in her mind as a new anniversary date you are now expected to celebrate.

7. The First Argument: I know what you’re thinking; why in the world would she remember this day? In her mind, the first argument marks the day your relationship went from being a surface level relationship to one of depth and true love. Forgetting this day is the equivalent of taking off your ring and stomping on it. Don’t do this.

8. The First Time You Didn’t Die: Remember that time you were driving home from her house and you got caught in traffic? You usually always call her to let her know you’re home, but that day you decided you didn’t need too. Well, the second you made the decision not to call was also the second she started thinking you were dead. With every passing minute she planned your funeral and her tragic life without you. Once she had figured out every last detail is when you finally got home and made the call. After an outburst of anger she then book marked that event into her mind as a day to remember forever. You forgot all about it, but she has immortalized the fact that you didn’t die.

9. The First Picture Together: Here is a day no guy remembers. In our digital age, the first picture was likely taken on your iPhone at Chipotle’s, but in her mind is was as significant as any wedding photo. You probably have guacamole on your lip, but she was mentally marking that photo as a day to celebrate.

10. The First Prayer: There is no doubt this was a significant moment, but once again she probably remember it differently than you do. You remember asking God to bless your burrito’s, but she heard was a quote from Pride and Prejudice. “Elizabeth quietly answered “Undoubtedly;” and after an awkward pause, they returned to the rest of the family. Charlotte did not stay much longer, and Elizabeth was then left to reflect on what she had heard.  It was a long time before she became at all reconciled to the idea of so unsuitable a match. The strangeness of Mr. Collins’s making two offers of marriage within three days was nothing in comparison of his being now accepted.  She had always felt that Charlotte’s opinion of matrimony was not exactly like her own, but she had not supposed it to be possible that, when called into action, she would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage. Charlotte the wife of Mr. Collins was a most humiliating picture! And to the pang of a friend disgracing herself and sunk in her esteem, was added the distressing conviction that it was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen.” Scary stuff, but that’s the significance of the first prayer.

11. The First Time You Hurt Her Feelings: This day will never be forgotten because you’re a big jerk. End of story.

12. The First Time You Made Up: Need I say more.

13. The First Time Of Her Parents Anniversary: I know, right now you’re saying ‘what?’ Yes, at some point you’re going to celebrate the fact that her parents fell in love and got married. It’s going to confuse you, but go with it. It’s not that you don’t want to celebrate things like this, but you just don’t know what is celebratory and what isn’t. At this point it’s time for you to throw out an anniversary date of your own just to switch things up a bit. This is an opportunity for you to celebrate something like the first ball game you took her too. Once you tell her of the date, she will then inform you that you have the wrong date, and then she will go grab the ticket stub to prove you wrong.

14. The First Time You Made Her Laugh: This is a day she celebrates because once kids come along there is just a lot of crying and sleepless nights. The fact you don’t remember the first time you made her laugh will make her cry though, so be prepared.

15. The First Time You Did The Dishes: Before getting married we only did the dishes once, and that was just to wash off the mold growing on the side of our coffee cup. We probably didn’t even use soap to get it off. So you can appreciate the fact she celebrates this day. The day represents the day you as a man were domesticated and transformed from a disgusting bachelor to a well mannered family man.

16. The First Diaper You Changed: She celebrates this day because of the comic relief involved in it all. For most of us men we had no idea our babies could poop on their heads, let alone poop a sticky paste that is impossible to wipe off. This is the one date you don’t need to remember. She is celebrating this one all on her own.

17. The First Time You Touched: This one isn’t what you think. Remember that time you took her to Starbucks and ordered a triple grande four raw sugar soy latte for her, which she takes to sips of, and when you handed her the cup your fingers brushed. You didn’t think anything of it, but she immediately went to the bathroom and tweeted sixteen of her friends about the encounter. I hope you enjoyed that touch because during pregnancy her favorite words will be, “Don’t touch me.”

18. The First Time You Held Hands: Finally, a day you can understand, kind of anyway.

19. The First Time You Danced: 90% of men try with all their might to erase this moment from their memory, but she won’t let you. She might even make you dance in the living room. No doubt you have forgotten the moves you learned for your wedding, but don’t worry, she’ll remind you.

20. ?

What’s the craziest thing you’ve celebrated?

Lightening Sabers: A Whistle In The Dark Teaser

12 Apr


“Whoa!” Henry Thomas exclaimed at the sight of lightening bugs.  “Come with me,” Eaner said, leaving two of the eight positions in the outfield vacant as he and Henry Thomas scurried off to the grassy lot adjacent to his house.  “Take off your hat Henry and use it as a net and I’ll show you something really cool.  My sister hates when I do this because it’s a little gross, but you have to see this.”  Eaner waved his hat into the night sky, snagging unsuspecting fireflies in mid-flight.  “Here’s what you do,” Eaner said fingering an innocent bug.  “You see the light at the end here?”  “You mean the butt?”  Henry snickered.  “Yeah, the butt I guess.”  Eaner replied.  “Take the butt and tear it off.”  “That’s disgusting!”  Henry protested.  “Just wait and see.  I told you it was kind of gross.  So once you rip off the butt, as you call it, you squeeze the juice out of it and onto your hands.”  “I’m not squeezing the juice of a bugs butt onto my hands.  That’s gross!”  “You haven’t seen the cool part yet.  You see, you squeeze the juice out and smear it wherever you want it to glow, and then wa la, you have your very own light saber.”  Eaner waved his hand leaving trails of light behind wherever it had been.  “That’s so awesome!”  Henry gawked.  “See, I told you.”

Quickly, Henry caught a bug and repeated the act.  In a matter of moments the two boys were glowing warriors battling the forces of darkness with bug juice and boyish energy.  “I forgot to tell you one thing,” Eaner said, putting a pause to the galactic battle.  “What?”  “Smell your hand”.  Henry lifted his hand toward his nostril and let out a putrid holler as the scent registered in his senses.  “I was so excited to show you it that I forgot how bad it smells.”  “It’s horrible!”  Henry exclaimed.  “There’s one more thing though.”  Eaner said hesitantly as if he’d just snuck a quarter out of his mom’s purse and been caught red handed.  “What?”  Henry replied not really sure he wanted to know what Eaner was going to tell him.  “This glow juice is really hard to wash off,  I mean really hard!”  “How hard, Eaner?”  “Like, maybe a couple days to wash off hard!”  Eaner replied sheepishly.  “Awwwe!, Henry let out in a light hearted disgusted gasp of disapproval as the previous battle resumed with heightened intensity.  Soon the two boys were rolling in oak leaves laughing and stinking the night away.


Excerpt: A Whistle In The Dark: The Adventures Of Eaner Pickernan



A Whistle in the Dark: Teaser

9 Apr

When swimming in a river as powerful as the muddy Mississippi even the most seasoned swimmers can wear thin against its persistent currents. Every year mid summer Randolph County puts on a tough man competition of sorts. One of the most popular events in the competition is the swim across the Old Miss. Hundreds of competitors break the water at one of the widest sections of the river in hopes that they will be one of the few to overcome the mighty waters and emerge victorious on the other side. The hopes are high for a few hundred men and women every year, but only a small fraction of those who start out find themselves standing on the west bank of the river. Most competitors begin to wane once they hit the powerful currents in the middle of the river and expel themselves from the race. Boats flood the waters to take on exhausted swimmers at every point of the swim. For most competitors, the temptation for relief is too much to resist and they find themselves panting and drip drying from the safety of rescue boats.

10 Lessons Learned The Hard Way

2 Apr

Being a dad is great! Although I’m new to the whole dad thing, I have been blown away at how fun the whole experience has been. There is nothing like walking through the front door after a long day of work and having your little one come running to the door with a big smile and out stretched arms. It’s in these moments you know beyond a shadow of a doubt, “this is the life.” As much as I love this whole dad thing, there have been some things I’ve had to adjust too.Here are a list of 10 adjustments for a new dad. It all starts in the womb mind you.

1. When “Oh no I’m sick” turns into, “oh no I don’t feel sick phase.” Get ready for this phase guys. As men we will never understand the physical sickness and agony our wives go through during pregnancy (We would probably die if we had too.), but prepare yourself for this phase. There are obviously mixed emotions when finding out about pregnancy (depending on whether or not you were trying), but after settling into the fact that you’re going to have a miracle bundle of joy, something happens. All the happiness turns into nausea. Now you’ve hit the morning sickness phase. Prepare yourself, because this is going to be a roller coaster ride. At first, your wife is going to think something is wrong because she feels way to sick. This will continue for weeks. Right about the time you have been able to comfort her, she will then start to feel better. You’re going to be tempted to think that everything is down hill from here. Pinch yourself, because you need to wake up. You’re now moving into the second part of this phase, which is, Oh no, I don’t feel sick-something must be wrong phase. You will now have to switch gears on a dime, and everything you told her for weeks is now the opposite. Where you were only a few days ago trying to convince her she is supposed to feel sick, you will now have to convince her she is supposed to feel hunky dory. Good luck.

2. Don’t ask about the coffee cups phase. Men, we will never be able to understand the changes that are taking place in a woman’s body during pregnancy. More than once, my wife thought she was losing her mind. I’ll never forget the morning I woke up looking for my travel coffee mug. We had three the last time I looked, but that morning I couldn’t find any for the life of me. I checked every cupboard and every bag, and eventually I even looked in the cars. After searching everywhere I knew, I finally went in to ask my wife (Bad idea if you haven’t already guessed.). I woke her up gently and asked, “hon, where are the coffee mugs?” Without hesitation she sat up like the saddest basset you’ve ever seen and burst into tears. You must tread lightly in this phase, and never ask where the coffee cups are.

3. The please don’t die phase. I’ve skipped ahead  a bit, and now your baby’s been born. You saw the miracle of birth and hopefully didn’t pass out, but now you have this little creature that is yours, and if it wasn’t for your wife (and her mother in most cases), you wouldn’t have a clue in the world what to do. Now is the time to panic, and pray (for the sake of your baby mind you), that your wife recovers miraculously. It’s in this phase that we realize our wives are super hero’s. During the pregnancy we thought they were losing their minds, but now we see clearly that it’s they that are the strong ones, and we are puny weaklings. After some time in the hospital God will cause a deep fog to surround the nurses and medical teams to convince them that you’re are able to take care of your wife and baby at home, and they will release you. They will hand you this tiny little human and send you on your way. You are going to feel like you just pulled a fast one on the hospital. You’ll be thinking, “I sure duped them. I can’t believe they are letting me leave and with a baby, Suckers.” This is when you hit the next phase. This beautiful little creature that is now in your full care is going to sleep, well, like a baby. There will be more than once that your baby will be sleeping so hard, you will think they are dead. They’re not, they are just messing with your head. The next three months you will be living in this phase. You’ll have every gadget none to man to monitor your child, which leads us to our next phase.

4. What is sleep phase? No matter how many times people told me that I would be tired, I didn’t get it until I held my baby in my arms. But, don’t make the mistake that I made. No matter how tired you may be, your wife is a million times tireder. She has gone through the most excruciatingly painful experience known to man (side not: and actually wants to do it again, which is the biggest miracle of all. The population would no doubt die off if men had to give birth.), and in many cases now has to live on an hour and a half sleep cycle for the next month. I’m tired, but she’s delirious. No matter what, if you pass out on the couch for five hours, don’t wake up and say something like; “wow, we really got some good sleep.” There is a 99% chance that “we” doesn’t exist. “We” was just “you”, and “you” will never live this down, trust me.

5. What is that on my shirt phase? Well, there’s no easy way to break this to you, but for the next few years, you’re going to have slime, sludge, food, and spit up all over you. There are going to be times while at the grocery store that you’ll notice your sleeve and think a slug traveled the length of your arm. The worst is when you’re in a meeting and realize you smell like sour milk. Embrace it, because this is your new life. Rejoice that you’re already married because you’re going to seem like a disheveled mess.

6. After a few months everything will go back to normal, right phase? Let me just break it to you now. Normal will never be NORMAL again. If you’re ever tempted to think this, ask a good buddy to slap you across the face because you’re living in a delusion. Look around you, because what you see is the new normal. Every scattered toy that you step on to every smell on your shirt is now what you need to call normal. The sooner you adjust to this fact the sooner you will be able to move on with your life.

7. How can something so cute produce something so vile phase. When you look into the face of your beautiful child, never in a million years would you think they would be able to produce a waste by-product as gnarly and vile as they do. And not only that, there will be a time that you’ll be in a public setting that your child will mess themselves in a way you never would have remotely thought possible in a million years. I don’t know how a tiny little 8 lb thing could have the pressure of a fire hydrant, but they do. You don’t believe me, just wait. They will poop on their heads.

8. There’s a new kind of currency phase. At some point your going to take your children to the store (Starbucks is where it first happened to me), and once your ready for check out, you’ll discover a new kind of currency. You’ll reach for your wallet, but instead you’ll find a snot rag. You’ll try a different pocket, and there you’ll find Cheerios. You’ll look everywhere, but money you won’t find. If you’re really bold, you’ll ask the cashier if they take graham crackers as currency.

9. When your worst nightmare comes true; your wife wants to buy cloth diapers phase. Brace yourself for this one. Baby’s are expensive. At some point money will get tight. You will cut out everything, but still, you’ll need it to stretch further. This is God’s way of showing us what really important. Right when you think you can’t cut back on anything else, the mother load will hit. “How about we try cloth diapers?” she’ll ask. Your response will probably be as ignorant as mine was, something like; “you mean like the 1890’s?” At this point, you’ll go to the kitchen to get your giant humble pill and swallow it without a glass of water while you order your new cloth diapers on Amazon. Take heart though, their not as bad as you think, that is unless they poop on their heads.

10. ?

You’ll notice I left 10 blank and that because you probably have something even funnier that every parent learns the hard way. What’s the funniest thing you’ve experienced and adjusted to as a parent?

If you like this post read: 10 Things You Need To Know In Beijing

A Whistle in the Dark-Chapter 6 Preview

30 Mar

Fatherlessness creates an appetite in the soul that demands fulfillment-John Sowers

Already they could feel the rivers current pushing them down stream further away from their destination, but both boys adjusted accordingly with each stroke. Eaner knew the current got much stronger past the buoy, but wasn’t about to divulge this fact to Henry Thomas. Their minds were set and their focus was resolute as they powered through the muddy river stroke for stroke and kick for kick. –A Whistle in the Dark: The Adventures of Eaner Pickernan

A Whistle in the DarkThe Adventures of Eaner Pickernan, is a coming of age tale that will both challenge and inspire.  It explores the lessons of healing, forgiveness, tragedy, and most of all, how a boy can be fathered  in the most unsuspecting of ways and by the most unsuspecting of people.

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