My husband surprised me with a weekend away to celebrate the end of my 20’s and hello to my 30’s. A week ago I declared that August was my “Birthday Month,” and while he rolled his eyes and chuckled at my high-maintenanceness (is that a word?), he literally could not have made my leap into a new decade anymore special. Shout out – Thank you, Nathan!
I snagged this picture on our newly power washed deck. I had no clue what natural beauty existed beneath. But, soon this too will be a distant memory as we are painting our deck and home. I have been Googling like crazy exterior paint and design. My Pinterest Board blew up too with some pins and I fell in love with This charming home.
I turned 30 last week, and my dear parents bought me my favorite boots! So, now I am contemplating a Matching Pair for Lo. I feel like there is a marginal window when we can wear matching attire.
No foundation? This is me. Well not me but my routine. I cut out the liquid foundation long ago, and recently even powder. Instead I too, opt for a concealer dab.
How lovely is This Top? Seriously! I can see it paired adorably with flowy Army green shorts, to end out summer. Then paired with dark denim skinny jeans and ankle boots. Check out, please!
This is one cool Mom and cool kid. Birthday Party In Target? Yes, please!
USA’s First Ever Gold Medal For Women’s Wrestling. Talk about dedication, compassion and determination.
Hysterical. I will leave it at that.
I was going to title this Blog post – Beach Hacks or Tips for Beaching With Kids. SEO friendly post titles that get straight to the point of my message. But, as I reflect on our beach vacation (you can read all about it – Here) I realized, those titles, just won’t do.
No, sometimes, it is straight up survival mode around here. And, well, sand and waves, you really are no exception.
Children are tough little cookies and they require more work and attention when it comes to beach planning than I myself every did.
I pretty much took three things to the sandy shores – 1) a beach chair 2) a magazine 3) a cold beverage. I was set.
Yeah, not so much anymore. Thank goodness my in-laws rent an oceanfront home each year which saves us from completely thinking ahead, as we merely run across hot coals, I mean the sand, to the house for said items. But, while we do have that advantage to our stay, I still find the following beach tips necessary to share.
Zip Lock Baggie It
I have a Lifeproof cell phone case, but that does not mean I confidently leave my phone on my towel or in the cup of my beach car. No! I still zip lock baggie that baby. I even will throw extra bags in our cooler. They are great for holding a pacifier, snacks, random seashells found on the beach and that precious cell phone!
Sprinkle some of this magic pixie dust on your little ones feet and legs to easily remove sand. It is much better than rubbing a towel against your child’s skin which can easily irritate.
Dig A Bed
I know, you are thinking… “What?” Laying a towel on the sand and climbing under the umbrella, while sounds appealing actually is the worse “mattress” you may sleep on in your life. Have you tried? It is hard! And, yet, you see parents do it over and over for their kids. Use the palm of your hand to scoop the sand left and right to create an indent (almost like a cradle). Then lay a towel over the sand and place child. We even do this for the older kids, creating mini recliners in the sand.
Pack Snacks… And Well!
Unless you want to make multiple runs from the ocean to your lodging, pack some great snacks. Always prepare to be on the beach for a length of time. Even if you are not! We pre-make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, gummies, pretzels, goldfish crackers, etc. Try to pack individual snacks so nothing goes to waste and you can accommodate multiple people.
Freeze Water Bottles & Use As Ice
This tip accompanies the tip above. Food safety is a must. Especially on a hot beach. Keep cold foods cold with frozen bottles of water. 1) They tend to last longer than heaping piles of ice and 2) They are multi-purpose. As they melt you eventually have water and we also use the bottles to cool down. Placing the bottle against the back of our necks for some instant relief.
This Towel for the win! My sister-in-law, Abbey scored this great beach find. It repels sand! Yes. You read that correct.
This was a total whim, but I am glad I purchased and packed. When we got to the beach we were greeted by lots and lots of jellyfish. They were in the water and all over the shore. Within the first hour, my oldest niece was stung three times and she never went in the water! I packed the shoes for the rough ocean floor but these provided some comfort and piece of mind for walking across the jellyfish invested shore. Try These or These!
Pack A Spray Bottle of Vinegar
For the fries, y’all! Just kidding. Hence the tip above and the jellyfish dilemma and possible stings. I had always heard, you pee on a jellyfish sting. I think that public form of medicine is looked down upon. Vinegar does the trick! We actually learned that from a lifeguard. Vinegar takes the sting out.
Reusable Shopping Bags
These make great beach bags! Coming from a self-proclaimed, “fashion girl” – skip the beach bag fashion. Unless you are in Saint-Tropez… no one cares! These are great for toting sandy towels and toys and they rinse up and dry great. Seriously, save your money.
5 Gallon Bucket
Can’t you tell from the photo above? My dear daughter and our young nieces and nephews enjoyed every single moment with this bucket! Fill that sucker up with ocean water and watch the kiddies frolic around it like it is a magic well or something. No, in all seriousness, it is great for quick washes of the hands and feet, for sand castle play and for even quick dunks from the sun.
Do you have a beach tip that I missed? If so, share in the comments section below. Happy beaching!
We have been beaching it up for the past week in South Carolina. Shout out to the Palmetto State, you are beautiful.
Each year my husband’s side makes the pilgrimage for a week of fun, sun, laughter, crying, whining, food & drinks (oh, lots of drinks) and little to no relaxing. Yes, you read it right – little to no relaxing. What all vacations are made of!
Oh, and there were selfies. Lots and lots of selfies!
We take it in great stride. It has not always been this way and won’t always either. In fact, this is the 10th summer I have spent with his side ocean front and many, many years were spent staying out late, bar hopping, shopping for cute cover-ups and suits (for hours, not minutes), dining out often and staying on the beach from sun up to practically sundown.
8 Adults. 8 Children (Ages 7 and under) and 1 House. Yes, 1 house. What the hell are we thinking? I swear I question our sanity each year as we load up the SUV’s and truck, and place sleeping babies in their car seats and take bets on how long until – “Are we there yet?” begins or complete meltdowns and bribery take place. The trip is long, even for us adults. Although, the kids were champs, except for my nephew, Sam. I think he puked about 4 times along I-95. Just kidding. Not about the puke, but about the champ comment. In reality, he can take the crown for longest car ride ever for a car sick little boy.
My sister-in-law, Amie wins the most-creative-mom award for entertaining her kiddies with a small toy on the hour. Unlike Nathan and I who purchased a portable DVD player and three DVD’s and popped that sucker in the moment Lo made her first peep. Anyways, Amie shopped at the local Dollar General before we left and gift wrapped coloring books, stickers, small figures, etc and allowed the kids to select one as each hour passed – all 9 long hours. So, take note, fellow parents of little kids, as you plan a long roadtrip. Just calculate better. Amie missed an hour so we had to convenience them dinner was one of their gifts!
I made the point to someone that driving to South Carolina was sort of like having a baby. The trip is painful like delivery. The beach week is delightful like the baby and the whole experience is so worth it that you do it over and over again, forgetting the upfront pain (hence, why women have more than one child and why this growing family keeps going back for more and more).
The week flew by. But, it always does when you are on vacation. Time is never enough. You feel selfish for wanting more and yet deserving for not having enough. Or, at least we do! When you work so hard all year and await this one week yearly, you can feel selfish with your time and money. Vacation almost becomes a celebration of all your hard work.
My daughter woke up screaming in pure joy each morning when she heard her cousins outside our bedroom door.
We also successfully went out for, wait for it – lunch. Which could have been like a tornado hitting a house but we managed to get through it with minimal wind damage. One child dive bombed off a chair sideways and most-creative-mom, Amie, turned into most-easily-persuaded-mom and then morphed into thank-the-heavens-you-think-of-this-crap-mom, purchasing cotton candy and rainbow popcorn PRE-lunch for us all to snack on at the table. I think for 2 minutes all of us were in our dining room seats eating, but as meltdowns began to occur an adult and child would pop-out. Hey, small victories, right? This was one.
Somehow we also managed a birthday party for the family “triplets.” Really a set of identical twin boys and an ornery red head girl who all shared their third birthday just days a part.
It helps that us adults enjoy our morning bloody marys and afternoon Corona’s with lime, because when the chaos hit a high and the majority of our children were whining like baby birds waiting for Momma Bird to drop a worm, we would look across the madness, open the refrigerator or uncork some wine and just laugh.
So, I am not refreshed for Monday morning – sorry, world! I am not richer – much poorer and I am not relaxed, oh the opposite – I am pretty beat.
I am; however, content, grateful and fulfilled.
We have given our Lo girl and along with our family, our 7 nieces and nephews some amazing memories. We do it all for the kids right? And, us too! We laughed much, we ate well, raised our glasses, got some serious tans (y’all I looked like Casper pre-vacation) and were able to carve out time some much needed family time.
Mommy’s, Daddy’s, lend me your ear. If I can tell you one piece of advice regarding parenting and baby equipment needs, put some major thought into your diaper bag of choice.
Your diaper bag is your constant steady as you negotiate through the trials and tribulations of parenthood. It is the steadfast friend. There through meltdowns at the restaurant, there for major blowouts on the road, there on your shoulder when you breakdown and cry because you just can’t take it any more and there to hold every flipping thing a little human could possibly need. So, give it thought and shop wisely.
Lo is already a year and a half and my diaper bag has been through it all and still standing. Dirty, but still standing.
How to choose the perfect diaper bag?
Functionality is HUGE! You need a bag that has a large amount of compartments or pockets. Currently, I am carrying around: two swimsuits (because why only 1, right?), a swimsuit cover-up, 4 disposable swim diapers, boogie spray, two types of sunscreen (spray and lotion), face sunscreen, Tylenol, sweatshirt, 2 bibs, 3 outfits, a pacifier, a burp cloth (now just an extra wipe up rag), Clorox wipes, bottle or sippy cup, a book, a small stuffed animal and a changing table insert (which holds diapers, wipes and trash bags). You see that is a lot of stuff! So, without great compartments for organizing I would be one hot baby momma mess. Make sure those pockets are inside the bag too! That is the perfect place to through keys, money or your ID. I promise you, your diaper bag will become your purse for some time, so just accept it and move on.
- Room To Grow
Maybe one day there will be two children in our home, so that diaper bag will need to hold double the stuff! Have you ever seen a parent with a diaper bag per child? Please don’t say yes. Of course, not. You have one bag per fleet of children, so make sure your diaper bag can grow with you.
There are so many options out there when it comes to diaper bags. There are coated canvas which creates waterproof barriers, Teflon coated nylon which is stain-proof and washable, cotton fabric which is lightweight and leather which is durable and beautiful. These are just a few. There are multiple fabric options out there. The point is each provides pros and cons that need considered when purchasing.
Shopping for a diaper bag is just as important as shopping for new shoes. This is an item you will be wearing daily, so go with something that is not too bulky. Something that won’t make you cringe every time you go out. The straps on a bag are super important too. Make sure there is support or extra padding. As you weight down your bag with items, it can wreck havoc on your shoulders and back. Be considerate of the purpose of the diaper bag to begin with and if you can, I suggest wearing it around the store while you shop, before you commit.
Again, your diaper bag, will replace your purse, so my advise is to pick out something that reflects you and your style. Something you want to own and wear. While I love Disney movies, I would not want a Disney character purse, so why would I want a Disney character diaper bag? Pick a bag that you want to wear. This is definitely one of those baby gear items that you should selfishly find that works for you versus your child. They will not care what your bag looks like. I can promise you that!
And, don’t worry, Daddy’s, there are some great bags out there for you too! In fact, they even have a name, Diaper Dudes. Here are three I would recommend.
Whichever bag you choose, make sure you love it! This is something that you will use daily, I repeat, daily, and will be an important part of your wardrobe and travels.
Hello and happy Sunday!
Certain things symbolize summertime to me. Campfires, lighting bugs, Blue Moons with an orange slice, flip flops, sleeping with a fan on through the night, a bushel of crabs, ice tea brewing in a glass jar on the back porch, a Kenny Chesney new single release and low country boil.
This one pot wonder packs a mean punch of flavor and I love the ease of serving. A low country boil quite simply is a large pot of boiling yumminess, some newspapers lining a gathering table and just before the dinner bell rings, one giant pour of all ingredients, spread across a tabletop.
Typically, you reserve this dinner for a back porch evening. You pour yourself a cold one, invite over your closest friends and you sit back and pick and eat. Simple as that. My kind of meal.
My mother-in-law was the first person to introduce me to low country boil, many blue moons ago! 🙂
When Nathan, requested I make it for Father’s Day dinner, I will admit, I was intimidated. But, good golly, this meal seriously is as easy as they can come. Just like a summer night. So, after one attempt and personal declared successful attempt, I share with you!
LOW COUNTRY BOIL:
- 5 Quarts of Water
- 1 – 12 oz Bottle of Light Beer
- 1 Bag of Crab & Shrimp Boil Seasoning
- 1/4 Cup of Old Bay
- 2 T Sea Salt
- 2 Lemons (juice and rind)
- 1 Sweet Onion
- 1.5 lbs of Red Potatoes
- 5 Ears of Corn
- 2.5 lbs of Large Shrimp
- 1 Stick of Butter
- 2 T of Minced Garlic
In a large stock pot add water, beer, bag of crab and shrimp boil, Old Bay, salt and the juice of two lemons. Bring to a boil and add the lemon rinds and an onion, quartered. Reduce to a simmer for five minutes. Add potatoes and set timer for 10 minutes. Add corn and cut kielbasa and cook for five minutes. Add shrimp and cook for three minutes.
Melt one stick of butter. Once melted, add minced garlic and mix well.
Drain the ingredients leaving a bit of liquid in the bowl. Pour the melted butter and garlic over ingredients and serve.
Today, my beautiful Momma turns a milestone age.
I won’t announce her year of birth or the numbers of candles on the cake. As a woman I know, that is reserved for her discretion. But, I will share that it is in fact a celebration year.
I cannot adequately express the love and admiration I have for this beautiful soul. She is the heartbeat of our family. Strong and unbreakable.
You see, roots typically lie below the surface of the earth’s soil. My mother has always been in the background. She was the stay-at-home-mom, who managed five children, each with unique personalities and passions. She had gone to college to become a nurse and put that on the back burner for her children. As a child, I never noticed occupations, but as I entered middle school and became more observant of my friends and their family dynamics, I often wondered. At times, I remember not being proud when someone would ask, “What does your mom do for a living?”
“She stays at home,” I would mumble without making eye contact. Why did I think it was so bad? In fact, it was great! She was always present. She juggled us, our schedules, our wants and needs, the home, our meals, the laundry and much more. But, just like wine gets better with age, so does knowledge and understanding. I soon absorbed the weight of her sacrifice and once I had a child, truly understood the work, my golly the work of a stay-at-home-mom. It is a thankless, demanding, 24-7, no vacation days job. One no career seeker would ever want to take on. But, it was rewarding for us kids. She was the steady one, often unnoticed and underappreciated for her contributions and their value.
And, severing roots, can damage a tree. When she was down, we all were down. You know the saying “Happy wife, happy life.” It goes for Mom too! If our Mom hurt we felt it. To this day, any pain or sadness she endures seems to magnify my own feelings. It is like we are virtually connected and what her soul feels, I too can feel.
Roots take up water, minerals and nutrients from the soil to help the tree grow. When I read this, I smile, because that is the epitome of my Mom. The most selfless human I know. Sacrificing for the sake of others. Piling on her plate and adding another line to her to-do list. Not motivated by money or things for such added responsibility but for the mere sake of giving. Soaking up every bit of herself, her energy and her love, to throw back out to us to have and experience and to rely upon. Her kindness and care for her mother, my grandmother, who has become dependent on her through the years, to willingly and excitedly taking on childcare of my daughter, so that I can work outside the home. These are just a few examples of the magnitude of her love and heart.
Then the strongest of all, roots provide an anchor to the plant. And, that is what she is. Our anchor. A constant reminder of safe, home and love. The best wide open arms you would ever need to come running, crashing into. The best contemplation of words you need to hear. To make you a better person or comfort your breaking heart. The soft shoulder to cry onto or lean upon when the world gets brutal and tough. The steadfast root system that breathes the life into our family.
She is deeply rooted to us and we to her.
Thank you, Mom for all that you have sacrificed, for the strong support you provide and for the life you have made for us. Happy Birthday!
There you are, my sweet baby girl.
Those big blues, get me every time. How has time flown? How are you running and chasing and climbing and talking? I always heard other parents exclaim, “Cherish every moment. Time will fly by.”
I never believed them. How could it be? A month sometimes felt like forever, and a year an eternity. But, now that I have you I see, understand and feel time. The tick tock that echos in my mind.
You have a personality. Ornery at its best. You make us laugh and smile. You keep us on our toes with your energetic ways. Never too tired. Never content with the same thing, but always, always on the go. Up and down and literally all around. Yesterday, you mimicked my ways and hid on the opposite of the bed waiting to “roar” as I walked by. Sometimes you leave me quite awe-struck at your little brain and the way you pick things up.
You are smart. Counting to 10 on cue and proudly announcing the color “Blue!” when detected. Surpassing “Where are your eyes? Noes? Ears?” and now identifying your shoulders and elbows! You absorb at the highest.
Your temper tantrums intensify. And, patience not yet your virtue. But, maybe not mine yet either, so you get it honestly. Sorry.
Your smile. Those crazy “big kid” teeth that seem to sprout like a well watered bloom and that crazy giggle gets your Daddy and I every time.
All decked in your Sunday best, you just want “down!” to run, to explore, to see the world and take it in. I have made a mental pact with myself to never buy you white anymore. It just gets ruined. You live in the moment like all kids do. Spotting a fluttering butterfly and chasing. Hearing a crackling in the woods and looking up at me before taking off to the tree line. It is refreshing and lovely.
1.5 years old and staring me in the face. My goodness, what a sweet wonderful world you are.
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano
During Mother’s Day, I reached out to a handful of friends and asked them to contribute to my Blog. You can read that Here. The whole process was so enlightening and inspiring that I decided to do the same for Dads, but switch it up a bit.
On Friday, I shared This Post. It was a tribute to my own father. A man that I do not thank or appreciate enough. This morning I awoke, kissed my husband and told him “Happy Father’s Day,” opened Facebook and found out that one of my friends lost her husband last night. He a father, a great father, I witnessed him in action. My heart broke and the sudden heaviness on my chest seemed much more overwhelming as I sat and thought about his children who would awaken this morning without the earthly presence of their Dad. While I pray for them today and send positive thoughts out to the universe, I know so many of you too will read this Blog as a “fatherless child.”
I do not know your pain. I do not know the emptiness you feel. Whether it be a sudden loss, a father who has passed for many years, a father who is alive but you are estranged from, know that today while you pass the greeting card aisle, see a family out at breakfast, open Facebook to a flood of messages and pictures, know that I am thinking of you.
Those who are blessed to still have their Dad with them today, please call him, visit him or send him a text. Say “I love you,” say “I appreciate you” and please say “thank you.”
As a mother, I know the sacrifices and love I make for my child. Watching my husband with her, well the love and sacrifices he makes for our family is equally as tremendous. And, also as a parent, I finally feel like a fog is lifted from my eyes and I see just how much my parents have given through the years and how incredibly their love has been.
So today, Happy Father’s Day Friends and to my Blog contributors – Thank you.
I asked each friend below to answer the following:
“What is the best advice your Dad has given to you?”
The answers, well, you just have to read!
“When asked ‘What is the best advice your Dad has ever given you?’ I really didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t think of a time when my dad sat me down and said, ‘Here is some advice to live by.’ The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my dad has given me a lifetime of advice without saying a word. The whole, “actions speak louder than words” rings true. In my life, my dad has advised me to work hard for every single penny you have, that those same pennies mean nothing at the end of the day, to make good on your promises even when jumping ship feels like the easy way out, to be true to yourself and never apologize for that, to admit it when you are wrong, to always say you’re sorry, to never settle for ‘good enough,’ to always help those in need, and to laugh like heck every step of the journey. My Daddy has never had to give me any advice, I’ve always been blessed to watch his actions and simply know, this is how you live.” – Mallory
“My Dad gave advice by example. He would tell me to be kind, sensitive to others, generous and do what’s right. Of course, that’s how he lives his life. The best advice he gave my brother, ‘I don’t care if you want to dig ditches the rest of your life. Just be the best ditch digger you can be.’ And, I have to share two from my husband’s Dad, ‘Don’t ever get a financial advisor. If they know so much about money, they’d be retired.’ And, my favorite, on the occasion of our first date, ‘Just remember, pick your nose with your right hand and scratch your butt with your left.’ That man was a character.’ – Michaela
“My Dad and I are cut from the same cloth. The older I get, the more similarities I find. As you can see from the picture and our incredible sense of style, lol. My Dad is the most inspirational man on the planet. He dreams big, fights for what he believes in and never gives up. All while maintaining a big belly laugh that makes you feel at home every time you hear it. I call him the “Big Fish” because he reminds me so much of Dad from the movie, “The Big Fish.” The best advice he ever gave me, and there have been some gems, is that ‘Failure is not an option.’ Anytime I was afraid of making a leap of faith in life, love, or business he would just tell me to believe and that if I believe, I can’t fail, then anything is possible. He is 100% right. Anytime the “what if” worry trolls start to creep in I just repeat that phrase and know that I can overcome and find success. I love this man more everyday and feel honored to call him my Father, my mentor, and one of my best friends.” – Coty
“Okay, it was hard to choose what the best advice has been since all of his advice has helped to shape who I am but I’ll go with this. My Papa many times has said, ‘Live your life honestly, be true to those you love and always follow what it is that makes you who you are. (…and clean your room!).’ Ha! He’s our favorite storyteller, a forever friend, and our hero!” – Deanna
Look out there…
“My father was a large man. My mother referred to him as a ‘gentle giant.’ His large posture and huge hands had many young suitors of his daughter’s shaking in their shoes. I was the youngest of his five children and due to the large age gap from my closest sibling, quite possibly an “Oops!” I was; however, definitely daddy’s little girl. I remember my dad taking me kicking and screaming in his big, strong arms and walking me calmly into the Atlantic Ocean. He finally stopped waist deep and told me to stop crying and ‘look out there.’ I did and it was amazing. A few years later he took me on a Ferris Wheel. Once again, I was screaming because we were stuck at the top. He giggled softly and told me to take my hands away from my face and ‘look out there.’ I did and it was awesome. Fast forward to my teens and my father was teaching me to drive. Half way through the stressful lesson when all I did was stare at the road, he placed his hand on my shoulder and told me to ‘look out there.’ I did and it was easier. I didn’t realize it at the time but my father didn’t want me to live my life with my head down. He didn’t want me to be too scared, too serious or too focused. He wanted me to stop worrying and enjoy the people, places and experiences around me no matter how big or small. I still struggle to follow his advice in my busy life. I do find that I have missed a lot because I didn’t ‘look out there.’ But I will be forever grateful that he told me to ‘look out there’ and I hope I can pass this advice on to my children.” – Joy
“My Dad was an amazing, amazing man. I know many people will say this today, especially since its Father’s Day and I’m sure they mean it also, but anyone who knew my Dad will tell you this is absolutely true. I don’t know of one person that did not like him nor do I know of anyone that he disliked. I never heard him speak a harsh word about anyone. In my entire life I never saw him mad or angry. I don’t know of any other person I can say that about. He was so kind and compassionate. He chose to talk about the good in people. He had patience beyond words. He was never to busy for you. He gave you his undivided attention. I’ll tell you a little story about this. My Dad use to work on his vehicles in his garage. A little neighborhood boy whose father had died would come down to his house and for hours would lay on the ground with my Dad under his car asking questions. ‘What’s this? What’s that? What does this do? What does that do?’ On, and on. My Dad explained everything in great detail to him. My Mom would say to my Dad, ‘How can you stand that day after day? All those same questions?’ My Dad would reply, ‘It’s ok, Honey, he just needs someone to talk to. He’s just lonely.’ My Dad was a very funny guy also. He loved to play jokes on people. He loved to scare the living day lights out of you. I can still hear his laugh. He was a huge Washington Redskins fan. He loved picnics, amusement parks and especially riding the roller coasters. He loved going camping with his kids and grandkids. Sometimes spending the entire summer at the river with his family. Christmas was his favorite holiday. He was like a sorcerer working his magic. When we were kids the tree was never brought into the house until we were all in bed on Christmas Eve. By morning it looked like a mystical, magical farmland. The tree decorated from top to bottom and a Christmas yard under the tree that was so detailed it looked like a live village. There were houses, churches, stores and roads made from coal dust. A train that ran on a track (THIS ONE IS FOR YOU, ASHLI) a mirror for a pond. Still to this day, I don’t know how he got it all done in one night. He was a Veteran. He served in the Army during World War II. He was loyal. He kept the same friends he served in the war with his entire life. He was a honest, hard working man that never missed a day of work. He was a Christian and he put God and his family above everything. His parenting skills surpass all others. He taught us to love unconditionally and we learned this by following his example. Oh! By the way, he always smelled so good! I still have a bottle of his after shave lotion. Sometimes I open it up and just breath the scent of him in and at that moment I know he’s right here beside me. The one thing he taught me, and I learned this by his example, was to love unconditionally. I hope I have passed this down to my kids and grandkids. There is a song that says, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” If this was my Dad’s song, it would say “I’d like to teach the world to love in perfect harmony.” HAPPY FATHERS DAY DADDY! Love you!” – Pat (my Meema)
How beautiful? Again, thank you to my special Blog contributors. Much love to you! And, to you all, no matter where your heart feels today, I send you virtual hugs and love.
Father’s Day weekend is here and I thought it would be fitting to carve out some time and some space on the internet to honor my Dad. Although, it is kind of funny though, as my Dad really deep down despises the internet and social media because he can’t stand walking into a room and seeing his family, with their ‘noses all in their phones and faces down.’ As a marketing professional with a strong grasp on all things social media and digitally related, he still to this day, eight years into my career, cannot fully understand what I do or how it impacts business.
I have had countless conversations on what Twitter is versus Facebook and the definition of a ‘Tweet’ and how it all works. He knows I have this Blog but cannot fully grasp what a ‘Blog’ is or why I would ever spend my free time doing this. He has questioned why we (as in his family) are so obsessed with our phones, and then when I say, ‘This is the way the world now communicates with each other and businesses.” He scowls and explains, “Well, I don’t.”
It is ultimately funny that I sit here writing about communication when my father is a man of very little words. Let me repeat for you, very little words.
Growing up we knew no different, but I would be remiss if I didn’t share how I realized in elementary school just how little he spoke, when I would have sleepovers at friends’ houses. One girlfriend had a Dad who was always the life of our get-together. You knew it was her birthday party each year, as he would march through the house starting a Kongo line and yelling for us each to join in. Another friend’s Dad was such an integral part of her life, that he was the one we called in High School to pick us up outside dances and parties, and when we pilled in the car he would entertain and crack us up the whole way home.
My father was different.
We picked on him, and still do for his lack of words. With that said, I never questioned his love for me or involvement, because he showed his emotions through other means. When I would want to sit for hours with my Mom rehashing every detail of a major accomplishment, all I needed from Dad, was eye contact and a quick ‘proud of you’ and I was content. He attended every major high school football, soccer and basketball game… to watch me cheer on the sidelines. He made me learn to drive a stick shift and as I whined and pouted, “I cannot do this.” He gritted his teeth and yelled back, “Yes, you can.” Then on my 17th birthday, he woke me up extra early and said, ‘Let’s practice driving a manual again.” Only to lead me, from the passenger seat, to a local car dealership to test drive an automatic. Then as we pulled back in the dealership, he simply stated “Happy Birthday, Ashli.”
When I graduated from High School, I rushed around like an idiot trying to get ready for the big night so I could go meet my friends for a pre-ceremony celebration. As he tried to stop me multiple times in our home, I was too selfish to give the man who said so little any time of day. Then he slipped a piece of paper in my hand, and as I waited for my friends in a grocery store parking lot I cried like a baby at the hand written note he had given me, praising me and expressing his love.
My Dad had placed emphasis on me to be an architect, something to this day, I still regret not doing. Buying into his urging, we agreed I would attend the local college for one year and then transfer to the state university for Architectural school. When I fell in love with theater my freshman year of college, I unveiled my new plans to my Dad, on the stage of a state Beauty Pageant competition. As he sat in the crowd watching me, with a big button of my face, attached to his shirt, the announcer read the pre-submitted cue cards, in which mine stated, “A theatre major.” Shortly, after defeat and facing my father in the hotel hallway, he hugged me, kissed my forward, told me I should have won and quietly said, “theatre, huh?”
Then, when I fell in love and soon my wedding day starred us both in the face, he stayed in the background for pre-planning. Shining as the unsung hero who somehow was able to arrange a seating chart to accompany 175 people in a tiny red barn. As we lined up for the procession, and the violinist played softly in the background, I knew he sensed that I felt a bit faint and suddenly incoherent. I remember distinctly my father saying to the nearest bridesmaid, “Get her a glass of wine.” As, the bridal party walked out of the house and through the field to our wedding guests, we stayed back a moment longer. I sipped the wine and starred my father in the eyes. Little words. But a private moment I will always cherish.
I agreed, but while I always listened, I didn’t always appreciate. For that, I am sorry, Dad. But as I near 30 years old in August (Yikes!), I finally, finally do. My Dad has taught me the following about life.
- America was built by hard working individuals, who made a lot of sacrifices in life for the betterment of others. Respect that and them, and more importantly honor that, by in turn giving your all every single day, always working hard.
- Save your money! Gosh, I remember thinking I hated him for this. After ever birthday party, “Ebenezer Scrooge” would make a grand appearance, with a palm open. I would have to hand over any money I received as a gift and he would count it in front of me. Then promptly hand me back half. He would explain that the other half would go into my savings account he opened and would in turn be mine when I turned 18 years old. I remember crying. Screaming, “These are birthday gifts. You want the half of my Barbie too!” He really never argued back, more just walked away, but not without hearing me scream, “This is not fair!” (By the way, he kept his word, and at 18 years old, I received access to my account.) I miraculous, loved my father again!
- Speaking of fair. He taught me just that… life is not and will never be fair. Learn it and accept it.
- Sacrifice. With five kids, I sometimes to this day get mad at him for working so hard and sacrificing so much, and feel saddened that he truly doesn’t live. But, I am starting to believe that to him living means watching his five kids enjoy life and be happy.
- Contribute to a 401k. Even if you make little to nothing and you think you need every dollar. Put something away for retirement.
- That the best things in life are sweets! You can totally eat 12 cookies, a large piece of cake and a slice of pie in one seating! He does it all the time.
- You can always get by in life with far less than you currently have.
- You always, always have a choice in life. This was a recent, new, tough lesson from him. As tears rolled down my face over some tough decisions, he coldly told me, “You are not allowed to cry in front of me over this.” You are in control here. You have a choice.
- Sometimes it is best to remain quiet. 🙂 That not everything needs your opinion.
- And, finally his favorite line – “Accept what you can not change, change what you can not accept, and have the wisdom to know the difference.”
Powerful lessons from the man who would nod his head at the game scoring touchdown, vs leap off his stadium seat screaming. A man who bites his nail and mumbles a chuckle, while the rest of a room erupts in laughter over comic relief. A man who subtly tells you, “Drop the p,” when you hand him a card with “Grandpap” written on the front, to announce how he wants his first grandchild to address him.
You, see I grew up through this life with a man who spoke few words… but generated loud messages, loud lessons. It wasn’t until I became an adult and maybe even a parent that the weight of his quiet presence, all through my life, has been felt.
Thank you, Dad. Thank you for big lessons, tough love and your steady presence through my life. And, Happy Father’s Day!