The Mother of Daughters

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Today is a day that people like to pronounce their thankfulness and name its source.

I find that I’ve got countless things to be thankful for. Friends who keep me honest and always make me laugh. A job that pays me fairly and consistently, and allows me to use my talents and pursue my interests. A family that supports me unconditionally and loves me immensely. A healthy body and a sound mind.

But this year I’ve added to my bounty. First in April when I married my Honeybun. Then last week when she gave me two beautiful daughters. A few weeks early and unbelievably small, but healthy and strong and the most unexpected of blessings.

I didn’t want any more kids. And I never imagined that I wanted any girls at all but now that they’re here, I can’t imagine a world without them. I’m so thankful for my new daughters and the completeness they bring to our family of 6.

But this little post really isn’t about the girls. It’s about their mother. The titular “Mother of Daughters”. That’s a play on HBO’s Game of Thrones and the “mother of dragons” one because we both love the show, but more because I like one of her other nicknames, and it fits my Honeybun just as well, “my moon and stars”.

Kelly is an amazing woman, my best friend, my confidant, companion and my Moon and Stars. She’s my rockstar and if anyone had any doubt about her awesomeness, the ease with which she handled the pregnancy and delivery should put it to rest.

As I’ve already said, I’ve got so much to be thankful for, but Kelly tops the list. Thank you, Honeybun, for loving me, for leading me and for letting me be the father to our wonderful little family.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

The VUTT, or Why I’m Not Afraid of the Dark

I haven’t written much in a while, and for people who enjoy my blog, I’m sorry for that. Honestly, I’ve been enjoying my summer, trying to set up several projects for launch in the fall, and take a little extra time with family. Then the family goes and gives me something to write about.

Yesterday, Honeybun and I had our first ultrasound. We found out we were expecting the Monday night before our wedding (as hilariously detailed in Episode 54 of Two Guys, One Podcast), and we’ve been ecstatic ever since, researching baby names, filling registries, remaking the house etc. But we’d both been on pins and needles to SEE the kid once and for all. Honeybun talks about “verification”. It’s not that she doesn’t believe she’s pregnant (she’s showing all the obvious signs, including having felt the baby move in the past few weeks), but just that sometimes she feels crazy because the symptoms and the hormones and the well…if you’ve ever been pregnant or lived with someone who has, you understand.

So there we were, smiling and starving for a look. When we got more than we’d bargained for when we SAW not one, but two bambinos. Twins, though there are ZERO sets of twins on my side of the family for generations back on either side, and just one set on Honeybun’s side of the family. Twins, though Honeybun was on birth control (again, as hilariously detailed in Episode 54!) and I’d said we needed to wait AT LEAST a year or two before adding even one more member to the family. Twins. Oh my.

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So what does that kind of information do to you? For Honeybun and I it was astonishment, then elation (holy crap, we’ll get to do two kids, but all at once and still retire on time, woohoo!), then a little panic (holy crap, we’re going to have to feed four children for most of the next two decades or so!), then a lot of nervousness and fear. As any parent can tell you, the vast UNKNOWN terrible thing is the worst part of being a parent. It sits on your shoulder, weighing you down as you go about your job and the carpool and kickball in the back yard. The vast UNKNOWN terrible thing (or the VUTT as I like to call it) is what replaces the boogeyman and monsters in the closet for grownups. The VUTT is what you read about happening to other people’s children in the paper, the million different syndromes, conditions, diagnoses and labels that you fear your unborn child might have that will somehow make his/her way in life just a little harder, when you already know it’s plenty hard enough. The VUTT is the bus accident you heard about in the next town over or the school shooting you saw on the news. It’s cancer, it’s diabetes, it’s depression, it’s Down’s Syndrome it’s Parkinson’s disease, it’s congenital heart failure and male pattern baldness.

It is the terrible secret of our genes and the cruel twist of fate and there is nothing that can be done about it.

The VUTT descended on Honeybun last night, in a full double portion, as befits the news of Twins. She’d feared and dreamed and hoped for our child already, of course, but last night just before we climbed in bed it hit her with all it had. She bent under the force, as I have time and time again. Parents, if you haven’t cried a few tears thinking about all the ways you can’t possibly hope to protect your kids, then I question your parenting. Or at least your humanity. But my Honeybun surprised me, as she has since the day I met her. She immediately saw the VUTT for what it is. Motivation. Listen to that scary little voice on your shoulder, feel it’s weight from time to time, and then carry it for your kids. Make sure it keeps you from ever forgetting a seat belt, or a locked medicine cabinet, let it make you understand how important every moment with your children is, and how few there really are when you add them all up.

We created the boogeyman and monsters under the bed and in the deep woods to keep children in line, and perhaps Someone greater than us gives us the VUTT for the very same reason.

We’re scared. And humbled. And excited. And blessed.

And thankful to everyone who’s dealt with the VUTT or Twins or blended families or parenting before us. And thankful for the love and support we’ve already been shown. As Son #1 said about Honeybun and me getting married, “My family is getting bigger with love!”

Amen, kid. Amen.

3 Years Ago on My Blog: To My Youngest Son, on His First Birthday

3 years ago today, I was celebrating Deuce:

You are mischievous, inquisitive, loving and outgoing. Watching your personality develop and see the ways that you and your brother are alike and the ways you are different is absolutely fascinating.

My wishes for him and his brother are still as valid today as then, and my promise to walk through hell for him if I had to is just as valid. But in the past three years, Deuce has gotten stronger, smarter and more entertaining than I could have hoped for. He is a surprise every day, and while he may be more willful and challenging than his older brother, he’s also more snuggly and cuddly and that goes a long way to smoothing things out.

Our little family has also gained a Bonus Mom to help wrangle this brood and while she and Deuce have only celebrated their birthdays together for two years now, it feels like it’s always been this way. And hopefully it always will be. I’ll make the same wish now, that I did 3 years ago.

My littlest man, I love you more than I can say. I wish you the happiest of birthdays, and 200 more behind it.

All of my love,

Dad.

Some Pondering on the Question of Edward Snowden

After seeing a meme of Ron Paul discussing the Snowden situation on Facebook today, I started this conversation:

I’m interested to hear your take on Snowden’s recent actions. Especially the recent admissions that his entire intention in getting the job was to gain access to secrets in order to release them.

He did the American people a great service by exposing the extent to which we’re all under surveillance. But, his comments and admissions to other world governments, his choices for refuge and the fact that all of this was premeditated has me second guessing his status as a “hero”.

It’s an impossible situation to be in, no doubt, and I don’t presume to know how I would act or who I might look to for help if I was in it, but then again, I never set out to find my government’s secrets and release them. I’d like to think that in a world in which I’d made such a decision for myself, it would have been made with the knowledge that my life was forfeit and that the only importance was the release of the information and the validity with which the American people held it once I released it.

Getting in bed with Russia and China, and talking about how this was all planned from the beginning are not ways to get the average American to view you as anything more than a spy.

Having said all of that, just because the circumstances look “fishy” doesn’t mean that Snowden is, in fact, a “spy”. Tough stuff, interested to see what the Administration says about it (the petition to pardon has reached the threshold for the White House to issue an official response).

From My Blog: June 15, 2008 A Letter to My Son

On my first Father’s Day, I wrote my son a letter.

It was as much about me and my dad as about my son and I. There’s some good stuff in there, and it’s nice to have it written down since five years later, I’m not much better at remembering to tell my loved ones how much I love them.

My favorite part of this is my wishes for Son #1 and of course now, they extend to Deuce and the upcoming Little Bit.

A great love, a great mind, a great imagination, a great friendship and a great spirit.

Son #1 and Deuce’s mother and I may no longer be together, but my desire for my children to find their great love isn’t diminished. I’m living proof that Second Act’s often have the best parts, and Honeybun is more than I could ask for or deserve as a partner and wife. She’s become a great mom too, or “Bonus Mom” as the boys call her sometimes. She’s tender, firm, consistent and even better at anticipating their needs and freakouts than I am.

I’ve been blessed in my life so much with health and opportunity, friendship and love, this one almost feels like too much at times. But as I spend this Father’s Day weekend preparing to become a Father all over again, it’s Mom’s that I’m thinking about most. The boys’ mother. My mom. The boys new “Bonus Mom” and the wonderful Mother that my newest child will have when he or she gets here this Christmas.

Happy Father’s Day weekend! Make sure you tell Dad how much you love him and miss him this weekend, but don’t forget the Mom’s that keep it all together.

From My Blog: June 12, 2010 LeBron vs. Durant

A year ago today, I was seeing stars:

At many points in this series the following young men will all be on the court simultaneously: LeBron, Kevin, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem. This is a series that any sports fan can get excited about. It’s a series that we should have at least 2 or 3 more chances to see over the next few years. A rivalry to compare to Magic & Bird (hopefully).

A year later, Harden is a star in Houston, Westbrook got injured and KD couldn’t do it alone. Now, three games into a Finals series against the San Antonio Spurs, LeBron may have to try doing it alone as well. I don’t like his chances much more than I liked Durant’s.

I still say that the Spurs don’t shoot that well again. I say LeBron isn’t hushed offensively for another game. Not one more. I say that Wade and Bosh find their mojo again. And while the Spurs still may win, I’ll take the Heat. In 6. And like my chances.

As to last year’s finals. I still believe that we’ll see at least two more Durant vs. LeBron series, but I’m not nearly as certain they will be Thunder vs. Heat series.

My Thoughts on iOS 7 and Apple’s New Groove

“Can’t innovate anymore, my ass.” – Phil Schiller, WWDC 2013 Keynote

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With that line, Phil got a lot of laughs, and he got me excited about what’s next from Apple.

Alright, realistically, I was predisposed to be excited. I own an iPhone 5 (that I just traded up to from my iPhone 4s, this is my 4th generation so far), an iPad mini (I now run my life from this device), an iMac (the 27″ just to make you jealous). My sons each have an iPad mini (Deuce’s is currently in the shop for repairs), and Honeybun has the iPad 3 (as well as Macbook Pro and an iPhone from before the marriage, she’s got such good taste). We’ve got an Apple TV on each television in the house and an Airport Express Base station running it all.

I’m living the white and aluminum lifestyle, is what I’m saying.

But the criticism recently that Apple has been lagging behind the competition (Samsung and Google primarily, although Microsoft has wowed me with a few of their ideas lately as well) wasn’t completely bogus, in my estimation. I’m not a Google user anymore, but even I had liked what I’d seen recently as regards the design changes and updates to Gmail, Android and their latest devices with their branding are actually pretty nifty. I’m not on board for Glass yet, but I do see the inevitability and the utility of wearable computing. It’s coming, sooner rather than later, but I don’t think it’s Glass that will win the masses and start the next revolution.

Samsung has swallowed entire industries before and while I feel they tend to stall once they become the market leader, no one can doubt their ability to play catch up. It’s been truly remarkable to see them destroy what was just a year ago a wide market of mobile phone companies. Samsung cannot be ignored.

Turns out though, that Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Schiller, Federighi and the Oompa-Loompas Jobs left behind to man the design shops, weren’t just twiddling their thumbs and rolling around in their massive cash pile. They were working on what’s next.

It’s flatter. It’s more functional. It’s certainly as fun and personal as ever. But there is no doubt that iOS 7 is a departure from the past. There are parts that look very much the same, but when the big new release comes, and all those people who have loved their iPhones and iPads when they’ve never even enjoyed computers before MAY be a little upset. It looks different. Very different. If they can move past the surprise (or Apple does enough preparing the masses between here and public release) then most will find it works pretty much the same, better even. Simpler in some ways, more direct. But Apple is taking a chance here.

And I’m always excited when industry giants are willing to take chances even while enjoying great success.

iOS 7 launches this fall, likely alongside a new iPhone or iPhones and will be a free upgrade. See the link for more details.

A Little Rogue’s Dreams: Why Heat vs Spurs Makes Me Feel Like a Kid Again

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Tonight, the NBA Finals begin. The San Antonio Spurs seek their 5th Championship under the historic reign of Greg Popovich and Tim Duncan. They face the defending champions, the Miami Heat, Led by reigning NBA MVP, LeBron James.

In 2007, James led the Cleveland Cavaliers against this a San Antonio team comprised of the same three leaders (Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli) and coach (Popovich). James said yesterday and interviews that he was humbled in that finals appearance. A feeling that he’ll never forget.

It’s a series I’ll never forget it either. I’ve always been a basketball fan, as long as I can remember. Jordan, of course, was my first idol. Nike’s commercial series was nothing if not effective in planting (in perhaps every child in the Western Hemisphere’s mind) that they wanted to be “like Mike”. God I did. I still do.

This past Monday night, as Honeybun and I watched LeBron and the Heat win their third consecutive Eastern Conference Finals, I told her that even now, I’d give up almost anything to have the physical abilities and size to play professional basketball. It’s silly but it is my dream.

That dream started with Michael breaking free from gravity and defying his opponents to win again and again and again. It didn’t take long to realize that a dream was all it would ever be, while there have been small players throughout the history of the league and desire and hard work can achieve a lot, the tallest anyone has ever been able to credibly described me as is “around 5 foot 9″ and that was being generous.

I’d never play at the highest level (honestly, I never played at many of the lower levels), but I’ve always followed the sport and I always intend to. LeBron James came back into the league I was reborn anew as a fan. I literally made a T-shirt. During his first year in the playoffs the popular “Witness” T-shirts were ever-present in the city of Cleveland, and I’m sure in other major cities around the countr,y but in my neck of the woods there were none to be had. So I bought a black T-shirt, and I printed out an iron-on transfer and I made my own shirt. I was a fanboy there’s no doubt about it.

I haven’t made a shirt since then, but my love for LeBron has not faded. I understood when he made, “The Decision” but was worried that he’d never find the greatness that I once imagined he would achieve. I don’t know exactly what it was that flipped the switch for LeBron, writers better than I have speculated on it already and someday I’m sure a great book will be written about it. But he’s made it to the top of his powers and mental abilities seemingly earlier in his physical prime than almost any other player in NBA history. He does this all while having an unbelievable understanding of and appreciation for the history of the game. He respects and loves the NBA and basketball in general at least as much as any active player. It turns out LeBron’s a fan just like us. Well, not just like us.

I’ll stop my little love note to LeBron here with this:

That series against the Spurs during his Cleveland days was as much a heartbreak to me as the fans there in Cleveland. While I can’t know exactly what it is to stand at the top of my profession and then be humbled on a public, international stage. But I do know what it is like to see a seemingly unbeatable hero bruised and broken.

When I was a kid I read comic books, and just as I was reaching adolescents DC Comics decided to kill Superman. Of course they brought him back, but that storyline changed something to me at least. The status quo could be broken, icons could fall, heroes could die.

When the Spurs beat LeBron up in 2007 was a little bit like reading that “Death of Superman” comic book. It took quite a while but just like in the comic books where Superman was reborn and finally got a rematch with Doomsday, LeBron has got a chance to exorcise some old demons and make sure that the heroes come out on top again. Maybe it’s time to go get another iron-on.

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Freedom of Speech is Not a Freedom from Repercussions

Fred Phelps is a despicable human being. As Americans, we are (we’re told) more divided politically, socially (economically?) than ever, but we pretty much all agree on that one.

Fred Phelps is a despicable human being.

So, why do we suffer him to exist? For reasons. It’s Freedom related for those too busy to click through (It’s the Bill of Rights). Fred Phelps has (as an American Citizen) the Freedom of Speech, and the Freedom of Religion for that matter, both in the first Amendment. And he exercises them like nobody else!

But the fact that he believes that all homosexuality is damnable, and that anyone that doesn’t decry it in the same way he does is a “f—enabler” and therefore damnable as well doesn’t mean that we get to lock him up. The fact that he takes his “faith” and uses it as justification for trampling on funerals, weddings, public tragedies and anything else he thinks will get him noticed doesn’t mean that we get to lock him up, or shut him up.

And as Fred Clark has pointed out so well before, that all makes Fred Phelps a great example of why conservative leaders are full of hot air.

No one is going to make you like homosexuals. Or marijuana. Or socialized medicine. Or any of the other horsemen of the apocalypse that you’re sure my generation is bringing down upon us. You can hate gay people your whole life, (just like you might still dislike and mistrust black people), but we’re all going to stop acting like it’s okay for you to say those things in public.

The Founding Fathers gave us the Freedom of Speech (although it only applied at the time to white, property-owning men), but they didn’t even give themselves the Freedom from Repercussion. That’s what the opponents of Marriage Equality are asking for. They want to be free to continue saying terrible untrue things about homosexuals. They want to continue to be mean in the public square and to have the media and the public not mind. They don’t want to take their homophobia “subtle” like they’ve been forced to take their racism.

And tough. That’s what I have to say about that.

From My Blog May 25, 2012: Post Partisan Christians

A year ago, David French wrote an article about (you guessed it) Post-Partisan Christians.

I’ve said before that having all my writing in one place is humbling. Here’s a great example of a time when it’s made me very proud. Here are two of my favorite bits, first my simplified layman’s explanation of Christianity:

We believe that all humanity has the spirit of God within us. Not a picture of God, not a copy of the outline, not an idea about God, but the SPIRIT of God. Further, we believe that by recognizing the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and accepting it for yourself, our naturally occurring spirit of God is reinforced and strengthened by actual communion with our Deity. God, in us. That’s Christianity.

And my summary statement:

There is no Post-Partisan Christian. There was never a Partisan Christian. You can be a Republican Christian, she can be a Democrat Christian and I can be a Libertarian Christian. Because Politics isn’t religion and religion isn’t faith.

Amen, Brother Joel.