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Spaghetti Smiles & Cotton Candy Mustaches

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Most people I know think it crazy of me to drive all the way across the state to Kansas City to watch an NFL game when I could stay in the Lou and watch one without the drive. What those peeps don’t know is that there is no comparison. I’ve watched a Rams game in person, and the experience pales in comparison to a Chiefs game day experience at Arrowhead Stadium.

The 5:00am wake up call this morning for a 6:00 departure is actually 2 hours later than I would prefer. It’s the first game for NE and SI, though, so I chose to take it easy on you…this trip. Eventually, we’ll be leaving by 4:00am though, so be ready. 🙂

There’s just something electric about coming within sight of Arrowhead Stadium…and pulling up to the entrance to the lot. It’s the culmination of all the excitement building over a three hour drive. It’s the sea of red all around you. The anticipation of what’s ahead. The atmosphere. The people. The noise and the sounds. The smell of thousands of grills cooking up everything from burgers and brats to shrimp, steak and lobster. It’s all that wrapped into one exciting moment that gives me chill bumps every time.

The haze that covers the parking lot before the game can’t be seen well in a picture, but once you’ve experienced tailgating KC style, nothing the Lou has to offer will ever come close.
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Game day brings good food.
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Good fun.
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And memories that will last a lifetime.
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And if you’re paying attention, you might just find a cotton candy mustache.
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Or a spaghetti smile.
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I had a blast today boys. Can’t wait to bring you back. Next time, I won’t forget to pack the headphones. After all…it IS Arrowhead, the loudest stadium in the NFL.
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And while someone going to a game in the Lou might be home long before us, it’s the long, quiet drive home that I get to enjoy one of the best views all day.
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Love,

Dad

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Happy Tears

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I never understood happy tears…until I became a dad. I just put my NE on the bus to school, his first day of kindergarten.

First Day of School

Excited For His First Day of School

 

First Day of School

Ready To Go

 

My little man is growing up. It literally seems like yesterday we brought you home from the hospital…all 5 pounds of you snuggled in a pumpkin seat. As I sit here with my youngest buddy, a 3 year old SI on my lap, a wave of emotion is flowing over me. I think today (and this week) is going to be harder on me than you.

I never understood happy tears…until I became a dad. The “firsts” in life are often the best. And the most bittersweet. Your first words…your first steps…your first time going “Wa Yay” on the Potty…those milestones in life we celebrate a little more than the rest. By the end of the year, I’ll be used to this, and it won’t be so dramatic. But for now…I know happy tears.

It’s not easy trusting your 5 year old to the world. It’s all I can do to pray that we’ve made the right choice and trust in God to protect you. That’s harder to do than I thought it would be. Until today, we have controlled almost 100% of your life. When you eat…sleep…play…what you watch…who you play with…what you see…what you hear. And as I reflect on giving some of that up today, I know happy tears. Because I’m happy to watch you grow into a young man…and I’m sad to know you’re growing into a young man.

Sending my little buddy out into the world is hard…and quite honestly, I’m having a hard time typing this through the tears. I trust that God has your back. But I’m your dad…my trust in God is not often tied to my emotions. Your brother misses you already. He’s been hugging me over and over for 30 minutes. Perhaps he senses my sadness and knows its what I need. Either way, you two have been together almost 24/7 for 3 years. Where you go, he goes. Your momma said it best: “He’s gonna miss his partner in crime.” So am I.

And yet it’s time to stop wallowing in my sadness. I find comfort in this verse today:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10

I find comfort in knowing God is preparing you for a great work. He’s preparing you for the world…and the world for you. For Him to do that, I have to let go…and let God.

So I will continue on with my day because I have the attention of my 3 year old Bubba all day. He has me all to himself today, and I am going to soak it all up. Because two years will pass in the blink of an eye, and tomorrow he’ll be getting on the bus to kindergarten too. And I’ll again know happy tears.

Love,

Dad

Run on Dudes!

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It dawned on me today why I “enjoy” running. Yes I sarcastically say “enjoy” because it’s not something I find pleasure in, except when I’m done for the day…it feels good to have accomplished a good run. In the sense of the way I use the word “enjoy” above, I find some satisfaction in running because I have a hope that it will improve my overall health and level of fitness.

I’ve been discouraged a little here of late because I’m not seeing the pounds drop off like I’d hoped to have already seen by now. It’s been over a year since I started running, and my weight has not really changed much…and my pace is not improving because the weight means it hurts more to run as much as I need to to maintain my training level. I know why the weight’s not coming off like I want, and I know what I need to do to change that…implementation is the part I’m missing. But that’s subject for another note.

Yesterday was NE’s 5th birthday, and he asked for a running hat…like the one I wear when I run, except red. Today as we were running errands, NE was wearing his new hat and SI was wearing mine.

Running Kids

These two beautiful faces smiling back at me say it all. Watching the two of you running around all day, and then NE running your “race” around the cul-de-sac, reinforced for me that while I run for my own health, it ain’t all about me. I may never see the results I want to see in my own body. But the choices I’m making now are changing my family tree. Choosing to be active and eat healthier now are setting a better example for you in these young, formative years…setting a higher standard for you to live by than what I was previously setting. Watching you following in my footsteps, trying to be more active is doing my heart good…knowing that you want to live a healthy life…even if you don’t realize what that actually means yet. And that in itself is worth all the pain and hard work I put into my running. Even if I never lose another pound, if my being active keeps you healthy, then I did good. I pray that’s the case. Run on dudes!

Love,

Dad

Lawn Mower Train Rides & Caterpillar Tickles

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As I write this, we’re headed home from your grandma and grandpa’s house. It’s spring break, and we came down for a day and a half to visit. It’s nice being close enough that we can drop in for a day or so without driving all day. I like that we can spend some time in the country, letting you explore and have fun roaming the property freely. It’s the little things in life that remind me what matters.

Y’all just eat up the attention and find excitement in such “mundane” and “normal” experiences…things we adults take for granted…like it’s the greatest thing you’ve ever done. Watching as your grandpa pulls you around the yard in your wagons, hooked behind his riding mower like a little train, is like watching a momma duck and her little ducklings waddling behind, trying to keep up. He’s going so slow, even I can run faster…and we’ve already discussed how slow I run. Yet, the wonder in your eyes and the excited laugh that escapes your lips as you roll past…waving at me like you’re leaving on a 3 month cross-country trek…reminds me that this is the good stuff.

Watching your amazement and awe at seeing a real live caterpillar for the first time. The initial timidness and anxiety you have about the mere thought of letting it touch you slowly morphs into little giggles of excitement as I show you how it tickles to let him crawl on your hand. Then, watching as you so boldly carry him around, proudly displaying your new find, reminds me that this is the good stuff.

I love you all SO stinking much! Yep…lawn mower train rides and caterpillar tickles…this is the good stuff.

Love,

Dad

Pork Chops & Apple Sauce

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It’s a sad, bittersweet moment tonight. For about the last two years, SI you and I have had a mutual understanding. We’ve agreed that whenever I want, I can come to you for my pork chops and apple sauce fix, and in return I won’t abuse the privilege by doing it too much.  I don’t blame you directly for now believing that your belly button is NOT your apple sauce…that it’s apparently called a belly. Tonight when I tried to get me some apple sauce, you told me “NO” for the first time EVER…wouldn’t even let me try, as you tried to set me straight by correcting me and telling me “it’s NO apple sauce! It’s my “buy-eee!'”

I don’t know who told you otherwise, but when I find out who it was, I’m going to have a stern conversation with them.  I mean really!  Who would do such a thing?!  Ruin a daddy’s bonding moment with his youngest son?  That’s just rude!  At least you still have pork chops.  Whoever spoiled the apple sauce better never try to tell you that your pork chops are something other than just that.  Now I’ll just have to work harder at protecting your innocence.  Because I’m still gonna be coming to you for my pork chops AND my apple sauce.

Love,

Dad

Daddy Proud

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We started homeschool today. NE, you’re 4 years old and still enrolled two days a week in the preschool at church, but I felt led earlier this year to join the ranks of the many who’ve chosen home schooling over public or private school. When I put all the pro’s and con’s down on paper, it really was a simple decision, although it was not one I took lightly. This year is a trial run for us…an opportunity to test the waters, so to speak. I figure worst case scenario: it doesn’t work out, you’re still in preschool twice a week like you would have been anyway, and next year you’ll start kindergarten in public school. It’s like a free year for you and me to see how we do together in the teacher/student role. Although I was (and still am) a little apprehensive about it, I don’t know why. God’s the one who called me to do this. I’m not doing it because it’s something I particularly want to do. I’m doing it because God led me to. He knows what He’s doing.

If today is any inclination of how our year is going to go, I’m excited to see what God has in store for us. You did awesome for our first day! Although I had a 30 minute lesson plan ready, I’m a realist…my only real expectation was to be happy if I could get you to sit and stay focused on me for 15 minutes. At the young age of 4, that can be a challenge, and you’re so much like me it’s scary…stubborn, hard-headed and strong-willed, we want to do things our way. You did me proud today son. You sat at your desk and paid attention, tracing the letter “i” and repeating the sounds the letter makes and saying the names of the items in the pictures that had “i” in them. You really stayed focused longer than I’d hoped. SI, even you participated and repeated the letter and its sound back to me. You’re an amazing young dude SI! As we were wrapping up, NE, you were the one that encouraged me, rather than me encouraging you. I was a little flustered in my not being organized. The printer hadn’t been working to print the tracer page I wanted you to work from, I had supplies strewn all over, and my OCD was kicking in. You looked up at me and said, “Daddy. You a good teacher.” Even later that day as we were swimming, you asked me, “Daddy? We go inside and you be teacher again?” Two very “daddy proud” moments in one day! Yep, can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.

Love,

Dad

The “Wa Yay” on the Potty

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While not a note you may have expected from me, I like writing some of these daily memories down. Although, these notes are mostly for your benefit, I know that your mom and I will find some benefit and joy in them as we read back on your younger years after you’ve moved on with your own lives. So some of these notes are occasionally more for us than you. This is one of those:

SI, you’re 2 years old as I write this, and you’ve started to show interest in going potty on the “big boy” potty. Seems younger than I remember with NE, but maybe that’s part of having an older brother to watch and learn from. I’m sure that having someone to model daily life for you helps you become interested in things earlier than most. Makes sense anyway. Anyway, last night your mom put you on the potty just to see how you’d react to it. It wasn’t the first time you’d done it. You actually went potty on the big boy potty about a week or so ago at bath time. This time, though, as soon as you sat down you started pushing, and voila…you went pee. With the expected accolades and praise from your momma, you were ecstatic and immediately ran into the room to tell me all about it, flashing me in the process and pointing to yourself where the “wa yay” came out. Well done son! Well done!

Love,

Dad

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