Sunday, January 23, 2011

This One is Easy!

It's been about two months since my last blog entry. They have been eventful and great and have flown by so quickly. So, in the spirit of fun, light-hearted enjoyment, Id like to take this opportunity to express my joy and love for my family…so here goes nothin’!
I absolutely love my family.

Joe Joe is, as you know, our oldest. He will be 10 next month and already has the personality of a 14/15 year old. This is such a great age. He has such a great sense of humor, still wants to share his experiences and loves spending time with his family. This is a phase that I hope lasts forever. Unfortunately, I know better. All to often, the kids get to early teenage ears and shut down all communications with their parents. This cannot happen….fingers crossed. Here lately, the two of us have been slipping away to the skate park every Saturday morning. It has been such a joy watch him go through a certain sequence of events, repeatedly, each Saturday. This is how it normally goes; He sees someone else at the park perform a move or a trick, gets excited about how cool it looks, expresses an interest in doing it himself, and like clockwork, tries over and over again to do said trick until eventually, he does just that. It may take 5 minutes to accomplish. Other times, it takes the better part of our session. But, each and every time, Joe Joe accomplishes that which he sets his mind to. There have been a few instances where he got pretty bruised up in the process, but even then, he pushes through and ultimately prevails. What a wonderful exercise in conquering ones fears. And the great thing is, it happens multiple times in a short span of time. I am sure that this will translate into a strong, driven, unstoppable force within my son and am so excited to watch it spread throughout his life like wildfire. I am so dang proud of him.
Emma is our precious little princess of a daughter who can do no wrong in my eyes. Although I am quite hard on her at times, I am truly proud of her sincere, kind-heated disposition. I could spend hours just watching her exist. She and her little friends take turns hosting little play dates at each other’s homes. I love watching the roles that they all assume. It is great to see them each take turns running the show so to speak. They are so polite to each other. Emma loves to put little outfits together for school and needs no help doing so. I look forward to each morning, wondering what outfit she will come downstairs in. Every single time, she hits a home run! She is so kind to all those she comes in contact with. I have never known a 7 year old with such drive to please their parents. She goes out of her way to make her mama happy, which in turn, brings my such joy. I love this stage in her life as well. I am not looking forward to the days when she goes through all the stereotypical hormonal mood swings. I want her to stay in this phase forever. This way, she will always be mine. I don’t want her to ever leave.
Little Ryan is our youngest. He is 4 years old and, I swear, this child has the attitude and wit of someone twice his age. He is on this kick lately, where, rather than answer a question positively, he clicks his mouth twice, winks. And snaps his fingers, ending it with a finger point at ya, as if to say, “you got it dad!” When hes not playing his little video games, he is absolutely tormenting the two tiny dogs we have in the house. I hafta tell this child at least twice a day to get away from the dogs and leave them alone. That being said, Ry Ry is a such a little angel in so many ways. He can look at you in a way that can dispel and frustration you may have had with I'm just moments before. He is still the child that climbs into bed with us on a nightly basis, claiming that he cant sleep. This doesn’t bother me in the least. Knowing that he is our last baby, I find that I have more patience with him than I had with the other two children in the past.
April, my wonderful wife. Where do I begin? If I could spend every waking hour with this precious being, I so would! She truly makes want to be a better person, each and every day. She is the source of much inspiration and drive for me in my life. It is her presence in my life that absolutely drives me to work harder at everything I do. It is April who makes me want to continue on this path of life, reaching every day, for the next level of success in whatever capacity that may be. She has this unbelievable ability to make everyone she comes in contact with, smile ear to ear. I marvel at the way she holds peoples attention throughout the night, regardless of the venue. I have watched her transform an otherwise mediocre evening, into a long lasting night to remember. I have lost count of the times my wife has surprised me with an small token of her love for me and, no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to even come close to repaying all those wonderful memories…but I will always try to do so.
That’s gonna do it for me this evening. Bottom line is that I love my family and am in a truly happy time in my life. I look forward to the continual betterment of our lives and know that it is the people within my life that will be the source of that betterment. …

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ever so Grateful...

In February, I will have been married for 11 years. In that time, I have learned so much about whom I am and what is truly important in this life. The one thing that Im sure of and it’s this: Love is so extremely important in our lives. It is what inspires us to create lavish dishes, orchestrate timeless ballads and change our life’s course to meet the otherwise unattainable expectations of those we love so dearly. Without love, our soft, giving dispositions tend to all too often solidify into an unrecognizable jaded distain for life and everything it has to offer.
I was talking to some friends from my past this morning, who have genuinely had difficult lives. Although they are still pressing onward, it is quite evident that they have been mistreated, and that, as a result, they are more inclined to deprive others of the love they have to offer, rather than run the risk of getting hurt again. A vicious cycle, perpetuated by their abuse, by those individuals initially considered trustworthy, the depravation of love can only bring about more of the same.
For instance, a young boy is mistreated by his parents and deprived of the loving and nurturing experiences that teach him how to love himself, grows to a man. As an adult, the boy does not have an understanding of the importance of love and in return, does not have the capacity to offer this important sustenance to his girlfriend or wife. Instead, he replaces the patience, love and understanding that would otherwise be there, with frustration, rage and abusive actions.
Love is so very important in our lives. It is extremely important that we receive it. And in return, as we gain an understanding of its effects, we will feel compelled to freely administer it to those around us. I feel that this is the only way to break the vicious cycle. Someone has to start giving in order for the poison to be extracted, so to speak. This charitable emotion is one of action, which can truly help us heal ourselves and those around us. Just like any other healing device, some require, and will take a great deal more, for a much longer period of time, before the affects thereof begin to manifest.
In closing, as easy as it is for me to say, allow yourself to love freely. Forgive others swiftly. It will make you so much happier. Be patient with those who recoil from your loving gestures. They have their own demons they are dealing with. Recognize situations and relationships for what they are/were. Look for learning moments, retain them and dispose of the negative. My loving wife April always says, resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other person gets sick. Let it go and move on. Know that there is a higher being who loves you unconditionally, everyday. He is waiting to hear from you, everyday. If you are looking for someone to lean on, who is trustworthy of your love, who won’t hurt you and who will listen, He is the one for you…everyday.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What Influences You

This weekend, I spent time with my family, decorating the house for Halloween and picking out pumpkins at the local pumpkin patch. It was truly a wonderful time. Although, I have always found it interesting how, whenever we decide to do something as a family, that would undoubtedly bring us closer together, April and I tend to get into some silly argument just before. For the most part, it’s always about something inconsequential. I don’t think this is a coincidence. It’s clear to me that we are not alone here on earth. Through my experiences and research, I am sure of this. I believe there are powers for good and evil, constantly influencing us from the moment we awake, to the second our head hits the pillow at the end of the day. We are not free from these influences at any point. This concept is mockingly represented, in so many of the movies we watch, as a little devil on one shoulder and a small angel on the other, always whispering in our ears.
We are here to gain knowledge, to carryout God’s will, and rear families to share in our knowledge and happiness. By doing these things; we stand to gain happiness that would be otherwise unattainable by any other means. With that in mind, and considering that the great majority of ideas and principles can be loosely sorted into categories of good and bad, and agreeing upon the idea that there are intelligences on either side of the spectrum, it makes sense that one stands to be influenced by one or the other at any given time.
The part that I find interesting is the fact that each one of us has it within ourselves to choose to act upon those influences, whichever they may be. Even though we are small in the grand scheme of things, we are mighty in OUR grand scheme of things. This self realization will, in fact, give its possessor even more control over their thoughts, words and actions. Furthermore, as each of us realizes this, and strives towards self-mastery, we begin to recognize and identify the very intelligences that so swiftly influence our lives. Focusing upon the positive promptings and working towards getting our lives in consistent harmony with the will of our Father in Heaven, gives us the positive momentum that compels us to seek out the positive influences. Consequently, we give less power and influence to the negative intelligences that so quickly draw our spirits down, encouraging insubordinate thoughts and discourage the obedience that we so genuinely need in order to be truly happy.
This concept can easily be understood within the life of an alcoholic (Brian). Set aside the issues and experiences that caused the person to arrive at their current position of “addict” and focus upon today. As Brian wakes for the day, he prays for help and strength to refrain from partaking in the drug that so thoroughly ruins him. While watching television, he sees a beer commercial that associates alcohol with fun and enjoyment. Although Brian has learned through his own experience that drinking has brought him nothing but unhappiness, he still wrestles with the idea. The beer companies want to sell a product at any cost. They are pushing their agenda. While at his arrival to a daily AA meeting, he listens to the voice of reason over and over again as his co-addicts relay their struggles, and the steps they’ve taken towards sobriety. Brian recognizes the fact that, life becomes increasingly easier, each day that he listens to the positive influences in his life. As he distances himself from the negative and adheres to his strict set of standards, he finds happiness and stability in his routine.
I have a firm testimony of the importance of focus and positive influences in life. They will compel you to strive towards serving others, living a life long example of how the savior would have us live, and refrain from thoughts, words and actions that will do nothing but cause unhappiness to yourself and those around you. Work towards self-mastery. Listen to and focus upon the good intelligences that sit upon your shoulder, waiting to be heard and acted upon. Learn to recognize them and distinguish between them and the negative intelligences that hunger for your attention. Be slow to anger. Be quick to forgive. Through doing these things, you will come to know of thy Saviors love for you.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Today's Rambling Tangent

I have doing a lot of thinking on relationships and all of the things people say a good one should contain. Interestingly, these things tend to vary between men and women and the young and old. In thinking about it, I have realized that my expectations have changed. So too, has my appreciation for the little things in love.

April and I have been married for 10 years now and are in a great place. That’s not to say there haven’t been a few ups and downs. There have been. What intrigues me is the fact that, we seem to be stronger now than we were when we started. We are much more secure in our feeling for the other and have found great joy in helping each other through trials.

When I consider the people I know, who have had a “privileged life” and haven’t had to endure hard times, it all makes sense to me. I’ve always thought that there are only three things that make us happy. One of those things is hard work. So, in working through hard times, trials and tribulations successfully, we find ourselves happier and stronger. In the gospel, this is referred to as, “The Refiner’s Fire.” In others words, through intense heat (trials) and the cooling waters ( the guidance of The Spirit of God), like a fine tempered blade, we become strong, indestructible and able to cut through the trials of life that, for most, seem overwhelming.

That being said; is it better then, in the long run, to live a lavish, overindulged life of flighty expectations and unquenchable worldly desires, or one of reverent appreciation for the people in one’s life and the investment of time and hard work into the relationships therewith. It truly is a hard pill to swallow for some of us.

Consider the following: Why is it that when we spend our days in the pursuit of the almighty dollar, and trying to decide what we want to spend it on, in many instances, we are left wanting more, planning our next purchase. Conversely, we spend time with our family members and friends, engaging in good wholesome activities, all the while, learning more about each other, we come away with a very different sensation. Our hearts are filled with appreciation for those whom we have grown to love and a satisfaction that is not easily reproduced any other way.

How will you invest your time? What is important to you now? Will that change as you go through life? When was the last time you evaluated your wants and weighed them against your needs? What if the things that were important to you remained constant? Family, friends…people. Serve the Lord with all you might, mind and strength. Be a good example to those around you. Pray unceasingly for prudence and the strength to carry out that which you know to be right.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

To New York and Back

I recently visited New York for five days, for our annual Memorial Day campout. Friends that haven’t seen each other for a year or more, come together, catch up on life and reminisce for hours. While there, I was able to see people that I consider to be some of my best friends. Additionally, I got to know some people I attended high school with. We had a fantastic time.
I was able to visit one of my favorite restaurants of all times. It’s called, “Reid’s” and it’s by far the place to go to get unbelievable burgers, fries and milkshakes. Not to mention the fact that it is as cheap as heck. The entire week was filled with good food, camping and friends. It couldn’t have gone any better.
Throughout my time in New York, I couldn’t help but think of my wife and kids…the entire time. Each time we went someplace new, I found myself thinking, “My wife and kids would love this.” It’s amazing how we change as we progress through this life. As I compare and contrast the person I was when I lived in Buffalo, and the person I am today, a lot has changed. Presently, each and every day of my life is spent in the service of my wife and children…and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Once in a while I may stay up late with a neighbor playing video games, or head up to the mountains for a day of fun in the snow, but those times are few and far between. And as I consider everything (past & present) I can genuinely say that I am much happier today, in the service of my family, than I ever was, living for myself. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
One of the things that I have gleaned from life thus far is that joy and pleasure are quite different, and that there are very few things that bring us true joy and long lasting happiness. For me, it is only three things. They are; God, family, and truly hard work. I’m referring to extremely exhausting, physical & mental exertion. What is intriguing to me is how these three things seem to be inseparable. Consider the following.
God tells us to, “Love the Lord thy God with all thy might…” We are also told to love thy neighbor as thyself. Throughout the scriptures, we read that the word “love” is considered an action word. So, to “love someone in an active manner can only mean one thing. We are to love others by way of service. Service, for the most part, is a truly exhausting thing, that is rarely convenient in its timing and, at all times requires sacrifice of one kind or another. Thus, to help others is a sign of our dedication to the Lord and his teachings. And so, I find that, the harder I work at something and strive towards completion of whatever it is, the happier I become. There is definitely a direct correlation between the two.
I had such a great time there in New York and consider myself truly blessed to have such great friends who love unconditionally. I am so grateful that they have the desire to keep in touch as I do. I look forward to next year, when we can get together once again and exchange stories of the years past.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Week Without My Wife

For the past week, I have been trying not to burn the house down while my wife was away. See, April (my wife)and her friends from England, all got together at one of their homes in Florida. She spent six wonderful days there while I was home with the children, attempting what I thought was a the impossible.
I chose this as the topic for a blog entry because I feel it sheds light on the importance of wives/moms in our lives.
I knew right off the bat that this was going to be hard. I knew this because I have received countless phone calls from April in the past relaying her frustration with the days tasks and the monotony and exhaustion therein. So, to avoid a great deal of heartache (i.e. house cleaning), I did an initial cleaning of the house, packed the kids up and drove down to my brother’s house in Colorado Springs, where we would stay for four of the six days, patiently awaiting the return of “sanity” (April). The time we spent in the springs was fantastic. We spent time with cousins, aunts and uncles and had an all around grand time shooting guns, riding four wheelers and being in the mountains. The time flew by. The time to return home and prepare for Aprils return quickly approached. We wanted to get home on Sunday, to ensure plenty of time was had to put the finishing touches on the house and spend some time together, just Dad and the kids.
The kids definitely took advantage of the situation, eating whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted too. They got to stay up later than normal and not take showers as often. I was at the point where I had way more tasks and responsibilities than I had time to accomplish them. So, I had to choose the things I considered most important, do those and let the other things fall upon the wayside. That’s where I get confused. I don’t recall April ever talking about this dilemma. I don’t remember a time when she spoke of having to disregard some things to get the more important ones done. What was I doing wrong? How does she do it? To me, it seemed absolutely impossible to do it all. Anyways, one day they’d get to bathe, the next, they’d straighten their room. One day, I made lunch and we had a light snack for dinner. I was a wreck! My insides were screaming for a break! I was able to get through it because there was an end in sight. None of the kids’ homework was done. Their teeth were all but falling out of their heads and dying to be brushed. There was more dirty laundry than I knew we even owned! … But, the dishes were done and the kids had fun I think my priorities were a bit askew!
Which brings me to the point: I’d like to take a moment and commend my lovely wife for all that she does. Throughout the last ten years, she has ALWAYS found a way to ensure everything gets done. There is dinner on the table when I come home. Our children always dress properly and look kept. My home has always felt like home. I know that at the end of the day, when I am spent and have nothing more to give, my sweet wife is still going strong at home, in preparation for my arrival. When we get the kids to bed, she is still folding laundry. She puts the energizer bunny to shame.  It is April who initiates family home evening each week. It is she, who gets us out the door to church on time. And it is my wife who gives the credit for all of these things to everyone but herself. I am so grateful for her in my life and can’t envision it without her. Thank you to all the Moms and wives who fight daily to ensure their families are taken care of and presentable. To those who do not these things and want to know what you aren’t doing, take a look at my wonderful wife who gives until it hurts…and ignores her needs to meet ours. Thank you Buddha! We love you.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Im the Luckiest man EVER!!!!!!!

Aside from my wedding, the birth of my children and the day I joined/separated from the military, there aren’t many memories in my life that stand out vividly, as the ones that were made last weekend. I have truly been blessed beyond my wildest dreams and I owe it all to my precious wife and her dedication to our family’s happiness. With that, I will go ahead and jump right into it:
For our 10th wedding anniversary, April and I decided to get a babysitter and head to a local restaurant that was said to be one of the best in northern Colorado (Texas-de-Brazil). We’d decided we were to get dressed up fancy to make it seem more official. The entire day was filled with anticipation for both of us. Aside from the disbelief that ten years had come and gone, we were just excited about spending time together, alone. The time had come. The babysitter arrived. I grabbed my keys and was heading for the door to start the car. I wanted it to be nice and warm for my precious bride. As I reached fro the door, April shouted from the second floor, “Don’t go Out There!” Immediately, I knew something was up but was unsure what it was exactly. So, I stayed inside and waited patiently for my date to come downstairs. There was very little difference in my anticipation and that of a teenager awaiting his prom date at the bottom of the stairs. Finally, she came down and boy-oh-boy was it worth the wait.
We hugged and kissed the kids and left our final instructions with the sitter, and proceeded outside. To my surprise, a black, shiny, stretch limo was parked in front of our home with a sign on taped to the back that read, ”Just Married (10 yrs ago)” . I had no idea that this was coming and couldn’t believe she slipped it past me. What a wonderful surprise. After some fun pictures, we jumped in the limo and headed to the restaurant.
The food at this place was fantastic. Truly, I think it was some of the best I have ever had. We enjoyed wonderful flowing conversation and food. I don’t think I can remember a date in my life going better than this night. Let me tell ya, I had no idea what was in store for me. I asked for the check and as it arrived, the waiter handed us am envelope. Now, for those of you who love reality television, you probably know what the bachelor is. In it, towards the end of a season, as the contestant reaches the final two women, at a dinner for two, a card is read that reads, “Should the two of you choose to forego your individual rooms, please take this key and stay in our fantasy sweet for the night.” Just before opening the card given me by the waiter, I recited that line as a joke, and April cracked up laughing. You guessed it. That’s exactly what the card read. I joined April’s laughter momentarily and, thinking that the “fantasy sweet” was our bedroom back home, I said, “I will take it!!!!!!!”
We jumped in the limo and as we were driving home, April and I talked about all the good times we’ve enjoyed over the past 10 yrs. I really enjoyed her company and loved watching her expressions as she recounted her fond memories. The limo stopped and the door opened. We stepped out to thank the driver and, preoccupied with figuring out how much to tip him, Id neglected to recognize that he had brought us to a local 5 star hotel. My jaw absolutely hit the floor. She’d done it again.
As we walked into the spacious lobby of the hotel, we were greeted by a man, calling us by name and informing us that the water in the rooms was at a comfortable 130 degrees and, should we need assistance, not to hesitate to ring them. I was soo surprised and excited to see what the room looked like. We headed to the top floor of the hotel and walked down the long dimly lit hallway. I opened the door, to reveal rose pedals scattered across the room in a delicate path, begging to be followed. They led us to the bedroom where the word “SHMILY” (See How Much I Love You?!) was formed on the bed with even more rose pedals. Well…we enjoyed a wonderfully romantic evening and slept in that next day. That morning, April and I enjoyed a romantic breakfast by a roaring fireplace as the snow fell in huge flakes just outside our window.
While we were eating, my lovely wife handed me two cards that were labeled ’50 minute couple massage”! Are you kidding me?! When will the heaven end?! I suggest that it will not. WE enjoyed that massage together and were preparing to head to Colorado Springs to pick up our kids that my family so lovingly agreed to watch while April surprised me repeatedly for an entire weekend. As we started for the door, a card was slipped under the door. Gimme a friggin’ BREAK!!!!!!!!!!! Another surprise?! I looked at April who was just tickled with herself at this point and unable to contain her excitement. She told me to open it. I did and was soooo blown out of the water by what was in the envelope. It was two tickets to see a famous comedian Brian Regan! At this point, I was so overwhelmed with appreciation for my wife, I couldn’t see straight. We had such a wonderful time there and throughout the night.
At this point, I’d like to address the obvious here. I am a truly blessed man who, at times, doesn’t feel too deserving. April has been such a blessing in my life. Someone who has lifted me past what I could’ve ever imagined achieving in work, in family and beyond. For that I am grateful and hope to surpass her expectations throughout our lives as she did this last weekend. We shall hafta see what happens. Stay tuned….SHMILY?!