Tasty Buttered Toast

Quips and Quandaries from a re-employed house husband

They Say Its Your Birthday

A lot can happen in a year.  This past Saturday was my birthday… and after having to get up early to drive 40 minutes to school so I could take my first final of the semester,  I was able to return home just in time to gather up the family and roll over to my in-laws house to help decorate Christmas cookies.  And while I’m pretty sure if I had wanted to, I could have played the birthday card and went back to bed or something, but I would have felt guilty for leaving my post.  My MIL and I are the two lone frosters… everyone else (we had 6 this year… ) and I it is up to us to get the cookies frosted so they can be adorn with sprinkles, candies, and various items of deliciousness.

So I assumed my post on the east side of the island in the kitchen with seven bowls of homemade frosting between us and a pile of cookies, my MIL and I got after it.  The family time is something that I really enjoy… with Kate’s brothers living farther away than we typically travel, I really enjoy the time I can spend with them and their significant others… and hanging with the nephew is always good times too.

After cookies, we headed home for a nap for Eddie and what I thought would be a little unwind time for me… but then I remembered some of the items on my honey-do list… so I was off.  Reflector stakes to line the driveway, return cans because the box was full, try not to lose my cool while waiting for the can return machines to be fixed; making friends with a little girl in the cart in front of me was a highlight of that trip as well.

Closing out the evening was a visit with Santa and dinner with Kate and Ed, with a special viewing of The Big Lebowski made my birthday celebration complete.  Given all my little family has been though this past year, both good and bad, I think made this year’s celebration that much more sweet.  Seeing Ed so excited to give me a birthday card brought emotions to the surface I hadn’t ever felt before.  This birthday is one I shall not soon forget.

Thank you family for a wonderful celebration, you make me feel special each and every day!

Friends We’ve Always Known

I miss my friends.

Everyone has that group of friends, that close circle of people that you feel the most comfortable around, they allow you to be the best you in any scenario… and most Thanksgivings give us either that Wednesday before or Friday night after for a late evening of conversation and storytelling… and typically with some “adult” beverages to lubricate the conversations.

Some in North Carolina…

This year, that didn’t happen.  My friends are smattered across the country, which makes for the gathering of everyone in one place that much more difficult. Normally we gather at a parent’s house, we arrive when we arrive and leave when you want.  But the longer you stay, the more likely you are to see someone that hasn’t been in town for quite some time.

Some in Colorado…

For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t able to see my best friend from high school.  Not that we get together that terribly often, and I’m sad to say, I haven’t been out to see his place in Denver yet, but when he’s around, it brings me back to old times, when he and I could kill an entire day listening to music and shooting pool in his parents basement.

Some in Illinois…

The great thing about those close friends… the really great thing about great friends, is that regardless of how often or rarely that you see them; the minute you share the same space with them, any time spent apart melts away and the chatter picks up right where it left off the year before.

This is what I cherish about my friends, and hope they feel the same way… even if only a little bit.

Flew The Coup

Gobble! Gobble!

Having a sick kid is never fun… not for anyone involved.  Those of us who are parents or know how frustrating it can be to try to comfort your child or to get them to chill out so they can find a way to recoup.

This past week Ed has had a pretty fierce cough, so we took him to the doc to get checked out and the result was allergies.

Allergies?  Really?  Ok, I’ll bite, but then why doesn’t the allergy medication do the job and turn the faucet that is his nose off and maybe do something about that cough?

And then to top everything off, Saturday evening while spending a ruckus time with some friends, he gets a fever.  Cue the drugs to take care of the fever and then the eventual dosage of the allergy medication.

Now this is the part where I’m going to take a little side step and make a suggestion to those pharmacists out there.  You know how medications that cause dizziness and drowsiness and they put those brightly color stickers on the bottle to make you aware of those side effects?  My question is; why don’t they have one that says “It might make your child act like a serious wack-a-doo”?  Needless to say, Ed was and has been a serious wack-a-doo about 30-45 minutes after his dosage.

Anyway, some have mention that this symptoms could be the result of additional teething… while this seems odd in my mind, everything but the cough is quite similar to his teething exploits of months past.

The doc said to give a call on Monday if the cough hasn’t left / if he hasn’t improved.  I’ll be on the horn tomorrow morning and see what she’d like us to do.

What I do know is that Ed as a wack-a-doo before bed is not a fun way to end an evening.

May your turkey be moist and delicious, the gravy be smooth and delightful, and the cranberries be not from a can.

Safe travels on your Turkey Day… don’t be afraid to take a nap while the Lions get their backsides whooped by the Packers… as is tradition.

Roots… not just a band.

Sometimes it’s good to get back to your roots.

Getting back to that place that helped shape who you are and what made you the person you are today.  For me, it was attending church again for the first time in a long time when it wasn’t a holiday or special occasion… and it felt GREAT!

In my heart I know I never wavered far from my beliefs or my upbringing, but with so many of life’s events going against what I thought was supposed to happen to a faithful Christian had me questioning a little bit… maybe even a lot at some points.  Bad things aren’t supposed to happen to good people, right?  So why the continuous strikes against me? Why the continuous strikes against my family?

And then today, sitting in that hard, wooden pew, the message began… and it hit me in the face.  What have I done for other people lately rather than be concerned with my family and our well-being?   Truth is, I haven’t done a damn thing.  With all the hustle and bustle of school, work, family, fatherhood, trying to be a loving husband to a pregnant wife, I haven’t done a whole lot outside of that to really deserve any of God’s graces.

Today’s message was a story of using your talents and gifts and sharing them with others, so, I’m going to try to improve my efforts to think of others first, and let everything else handle itself.  God doesn’t give you  more than you can handle, so worrying about how to pay for something or plan for something else will work out if it’s meant to be… not to mention, way less stress since time won’t be wasted worrying about it.

After the service Kate asked if she should get a card from the Angel tree so we can buy some gifts for a child that might not get anything otherwise and I told her to go ahead and do it.  Sure it might not completely be in the “budget,” but it felt like the right thing to do.  I’m confident it will work out in the end, and that child might just have a better holiday because of it.

Sorry to have gotten all spiritual on you there… but I felt it was important, especially this time of year.  If you find it in your heart, mind, or spirit, please consider “sponsoring” or being an Angel to a child in need.  There is little that you will find more rewarding.

… and I think we’ll be attending services more regularly now.

In A Father’s Eyes

Unless you are a dad, you have no way of understanding the overwhelming emotion that comes with holding your child for the first time.  Until tonight, I thought that kind of feeling could only come from biological children….

Tonight I had the distinct pleasure of spending a lovely meal at my sister’s house with her husband, my brother and his wife, my mother and step-father, and Kate and Eddie.  You see my sister and her husband recently returned from their first trip to Ethiopia.  They are in the middle of the adoption process and had the awesome experience of being able to spend a few precious hours with their soon to be children, and then having to leave them until the paper work clears the embassy… which could be anywhere from 4 to 10 weeks before they will be able to hold their children again… anyway, getting back to that emotion that only a dad can feel…

After dinner we all left the dining room and retreated to the living room to look at some pictures and video from their trip.  These images were some of the first of my new nephews that I had the pleasure of viewing.  And that’s what I saw it.

My brother-in-law, new being a first time father to twin, 6-month old boys from Ethiopia, had that look… that twinkle, the perma-grin type look that only a father can have when he holds, meets, EXPERIENCES his child / children for the FIRST time.  He had it.  As plain as the day is long… I could see it in the photos, in the short video that was shared… he had that look and I knew exactly what he was feeling because I remember how I felt when I held Ed for the first time.

I couldn’t be more happy & excited for my sister and brother-in-law… they are so very happy and excited, and I’d like to think a little terrified about how much their lives are going to change in the next 2-3 months.  They have a blog called Stepping Stones Feel free to pop in and say hello.  I’m sure they would appreciate the support and well wishes!  As the big brother, I couldn’t be more proud.

Thumbing My Way

This past week I had the pleasure of guest posting at a little blog most of you have heard of called Sluiter Nation.  I was a Sluiter Nation Recruit, and I have to say, it was a fantastic experience.

If you haven’t heard about a Sluiter Nation Recruit, you can check it out here, and while you’re there, why not check out my post.  🙂

That post, in it’s most basic of topics, was a joy to write.  Not only was it fun for me to try to create something worthwhile for Kate’s HUGE readership to consume, but it sparked a renewed enjoyment of putting together a post, flushing out what it is that I want to say, and trying to say it the right way.

The comments were so supportive and genuine, it reminded me how much I enjoy writing and commenting when I have a chance to read your writings.  I will make a pledge to return the favor of your readership and make a presence known on your blogs as well, so let me know when you’re here and where I can find you.

That being said, I’m going to do my best to post at least once per week… probably on Sunday or Monday, in hopes that my writing skills improve, and that you special few who check out my blog will have new posts to read on a more regular basis.

Until next week…

Open Letter

Pops,

Hard to believe it has already been six years since you’ve left us.  So much has happened in the last two years alone, it is difficult to decide where to begin… but I’ll try.

Two years ago in June your first grandson was born, and he continues to amaze me with how much he is able to absorb and retain each and every day.  He is speaking more and more phrases and is able to repeat many new words on his first try.  He loves the water and is becoming more and more comfortable in his life jacket.  As he gets older, I can’t but help wonder how your influence on his growth would enhance the little boy he is quickly becoming.  You would love him, he’s such a character; he has that little twinkle in  his eye just before he does something he isn’t supposed to that makes me wonder if you somehow had something to do with it.  On the good days and bad, I really wish you were around to offer up parenting advice… or at least share some anecdote on how to handle a particular situation.

This past March I started a new job.  I’ve taken a position working for Construction Specialties as their inside sales person, and assisting with some estimating duties.  The guys I work with are great, and I really feel like I’m starting to hit my stride in this line of work.  Who knew selling truss installations would be so different from selling the trusses themselves.

Kate is looking forward to her second year teaching mainly Spanish at Park after being bumped around from her English position for the last couple years.  Speaking of Kate, she / we are expecting child number two.  She’s 8 1/2 weeks along and is feeling the first trimester blahs in full force.  She’s a trooper and has been dealing with it as best she knows how, and is beginning to know when to ask for help and lean on me a little more than she is accustomed to.

This past May I can finally say I am a college graduate, all be it a lowly Associates degree, I know that you would be proud to know that I have finished, and am still attending to complete my Network Administration degree, and potentially get a Bachelors.  Believe it or not, I graduated with a g.p.a. north of 3.8… hard to believe I know, especially considering how much I didn’t exactly excel the first time I attended.

That is a quick swoosh of what has been going on, and there is more to share, but for now we’ll leave it at that.  Know that while you might not be here in person, I feel your presence everyday.  My goal every morning is to try and do my best to make you proud of me as your son, a husband, a father, and as a man.  I wish there was a way to know your thoughts and feelings about the job I’m doing and the decisions I’m making for myself and my family. I always valued your opinion and insight on everything… and I still do.  Those old stories still find away to work their way in to my everyday life and I want to thank you for that.

Six years have past since you left us, but the pain hurts like it was yesterday.

Love you Pops.

Cortney

Happy Birthday Pops

You would have been 55 today.

I miss you and think about you daily.

Just In Time For Father’s Day

Artists Rendering

This weekend is always a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me.  My wonderful wife and I were married the day before Father’s Day back in 2005.  It was a wonderful day, one that I will never forget for obvious reasons.  But at the same time, there was a grey cloud over that weekend, as there was the unspoken understanding that this could be the last Father’s Day that we would have Pops with us.

On Thursday I decided to get a tattoo in honor of my father.  While he was never in the Navy, he was definitely a boater through and through.  We ended up spreading his ashes in Lake Michigan per his request.

I’m not one who has many a tattoo, in fact, this was my first.  I had been thinking about this particular tattoo since he passed, but did not know what I wanted.  I just knew I wanted it to be nautical in nature for him, but still have the symbolism for me.

Finished Product

The ship’s wheel and an anchor just made sense.  The ship’s wheel to represent the various changes in direction my life has taken over the last 6+ years… and the anchor to remind me to stay grounded and know that I have a place that I can call home.

Yesterday, Kate and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary, and today we celebrate fathers everywhere… specifically those who are near and dear to use.  We love and cherish those fathers that w can still spend time with, and miss those greatly who are no longer with us.  I miss my father greatly, and think of him more now than ever, but knowing that he’s watching over my family is a comfort.

Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads out there, and to those of you who maybe aren’t Dads yet, or will be soon, there is no greater satisfaction.

Education

I’m questioning my education
Is my education who I am now?

So… this past Friday I became a college graduate.  Granted it’s been almost 14 years since my last day of high school and this being my third college that I’ve had the honor of attending; I will have something to show my long days and tired afternoons.  This journey has been one of many nights where I didn’t think I would make it to the finish, and actually took quite a few years off while I found my direction.

I had the great fortune to marry Kate, who, being an educator by trade, was more than supportive of my going back to school.  I think what really helped me go back was something she said when I was trying to decide if school was the right choice for me.  I knew I needed more education to get ahead or open up additional career options, but I was stuck.  Then she said it…

“So to school for something you enjoy.  It doesn’t have to be for what your job is right now; just because your job is sales now doesn’t mean that is what you have to choose.  You like computers and technology, why not pick that?”

And there you have it…it’s like a light switch had been flipped and I knew what I wanted to go to school for… and in the fall of 2008, I applied and registered for classes to start my new path towards a CS degree in Network Administration.

While you’re deciding, I’ve been finding
Looking around in the here and now.

And then it happened… In the fall of 2009, I was let go from my place of employment and I wasn’t anywhere close to finishing my degree.  I had only been going to school part-time, a class or two per semester, whatever my schedule or budget could handle and now I was in serious trouble with finding a way to cover tuition, books and the whole lot.  Not to mention that without a degree finding new employment was going to be a serious challenge, especially in today’s job market.

I met with my adviser.  I wanted to know what my options were for financial aid since it was the middle of the semester, I had a pile of classes to finish and I knew I needed to keep 1st shift hours available so I could still continue the job search.  While reviewing my transcript, he noticed that, while being on the path to a Network Admin degree, I was only 10 or so credits away from finishing an Associates in Liberal Arts… so the path took a little turn.  Now, instead of taking computer courses and following a set path, I had new pressures to finish that degree as quickly as I could…

I’m questioning my education
Rewind and what does it show?

And with great pride, I can say I’m a college graduate.  I made the Dean’s list a few times, managed to maintain a 3.9 GPA since going back to school.  Of course, now that I have the one degree down, class starts up again on tomorrow (Monday) and the path regains its original direction… hopefully in a couple more years, I’ll have another degree to hang on my office wall someday.

Could be, the truth it becomes you
I’m a seed, wondering why it grows

* lyrics from the song Education by Pearl Jam, composer: Vedder

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