I’m not babysitting…I’m parenting!

While watching the last few minutes of a lopsided victory by the Green Bay Packers over the Minnesota Vikings I heard the announcers talking about the short break the players were going to have this coming weekend since their game was played on a Thursday instead of the usual Sunday or Monday. One of the guys, Phil Simms, a former quarterback for the New York Giants, mentioned that the Vikings’ QB, Christian Ponder, was going to be “babysitting” his daughter, Bowden, since his wife, Samantha Ponder, is a host for ESPN College Gameday every Saturday. The banter between Simms and his broadcast partner, Jim Nantz, continued as they enjoyed a little chuckle discussing Mr. Ponder babysitting his 12-week old daughter. Did you catch what they did there? While trying to sort of compliment him for caring for his own child they made a little bit of a dig at fathers, even if it wasn’t intentional or malicious. Dads and moms don’t babysit their own children. Never. What they do has a term already. Yeah, you guessed it. PARENTING!

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Samantha and Christian Ponder and their infant daughter. She’s an ESPN reporter/host and he’s an NFL QB for the Minnesota Vikings.

Some of you more cynical types might be wondering why this is an issue to me. After all, who really cares? Glad you wondered. What Simms and Nantz basically did was further the stereotype that dads who care for their own children are nothing more than babysitters. It’s an insult for any parent to be called a babysitter when he or she is actually being a parent. I did enough babysitting in junior high and high school to know the difference. Based on the reactions I saw on Twitter after the game finished I wasn’t the only one who noticed the babysitting comment. Other people were quick to point out the poor word choice by Mr. Simms. On a personal level, this is important to me because for the last 14 years I have chosen to be a full-time Stay At Home Dad for my children. I’m not a babysitter. I’m their dad. I “retired” from my teaching career after six years to move into an even more challenging career as a SAHD. Yes, I said career. This isn’t some part-time gig I do to make extra money to go out with my friends. I don’t get paid. At least not in cash. This is what I do. What I choose to do. What I get to do. I parent. All day. Every day. 24/7/365. Even when I’m not physically with my family I still parent through the wonders of modern technology like texting and FaceTime. Yet, I continue to love my career choice and thank God every day for the opportunity I have to be at home with my children. It’s not a chore. It’s my choice and my passion.

Yet, I’m not offended by what they said. I’m a pretty laid back guy. This wasn’t offensive. Offensive is using derogatory terms that I’m not comfortable saying or typing. What I’m feeling is disappointed. I’m disappointed that these guys chose to use that term to describe something that is so near and dear to me. About the only good thing is that they stopped short of using that hilarious term “Mr. Mom”. When they had the opportunity to recognize and applaud Mr. Ponder for spending his upcoming days off with his infant daughter they instead diminished it with a single ignorant word. I’m not demanding or expecting an apology from those announcers. That would be ridiculous. But I am calling them out on their choice of words. Such ignorant comments are way beneath them. This is, however, an opportunity to educate them and everyone else about the difference between babysitting and parenting. Babysitting has an end point. The parents come home, you get paid, and then you go home. It’s not parenting. Parenting starts the moment you first realize that you’re going to become a parent and then it never ends. Once a parent, always a parent. To paraphrase my fellow SAHD, blogger and friend Doug French, We still have much work to do. We need to get the message out that being an active and involved parent is a good thing. It’s what should be the norm. It should be celebrated and not mocked. Being a parent is the most rewarding and frustrating and exhilarating and awesome and terrible and joyous experience all in one. Keep calm and Daddy on!

Back to School Blues

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Today is the big day. It’s been written on our family calendar for months. It’s a day of anticipation and dread. It’s the first day of school. As a Stay At Home Dad it means the return of taxi driver to my daily routine. As well as alarm clock and lunch-preparer for my kids. Today is a day that I both dread and celebrate, but not for the reasons many parents do. As a former student (a long time ago) and former teacher (not as long ago) I loved the first day of school. There was a sense of optimism and possibility and freshness. A new year with a new teacher and mix of old and new friends. Getting to see friends and colleagues again after the summer break. It almost made the chore of getting everything ready worth it. Almost. After all, it was still school. It also meant the end of staying up late and sleeping in. Playing at the park, hiking at Mt. Rainier, going to week-long camp, and vacationing in Europe, to name a few. Doing nothing and enjoying it. Replaced by getting up early (rude alarm clock) and homework or lesson planning and correcting papers.

What I don’t understand, though, are the parents who are celebrating that their kids are finally out of their hair. Fruit of the Loom (makers of fine underwear) even started a #TGIBTS (Thank Goodness It’s Back To School) campaign to capitalize on this sentiment among parents (although it was aimed at moms). It makes me sad that there are some moms and dads who genuinely celebrate the absence of their kids. I’m going to miss my kids while they’re at school. It’s going to be quiet(er) with only a four year old and one year old at home all day long. What ever will I do with all of my newly-found free time? HA HA HA! As much as the teasing and such between my kids is a little bit annoying, I love having them at home. They bring so much joy to my life on a daily basis. I’m going to miss the fun that we have just doing life together. Yet, I love that they get to go and learn and be with friends and teachers and experience things that I cannot give them. I loved being a student (even though at times I had to work hard) and had a lot of fun in school. While I wasn’t a fan of the significant homework and studying in high school and college I understood it to be a part of my “job” as a student. I hope that my kids will view their educational opportunity in the same way. If anything, I celebrate the new and fun things that my kids will learn this coming year.

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The only bit of dread that I have is in wishing I had done more with my kids during their time off. Did we do enough fun stuff to make up for the days where we did basically nothing? Did they get to do something memorable enough that they can write about it for their first assignment in English class? Will they look back on their Summer 2014 as fondly as I do? I hope that they each can answer yes to all those questions. But, in the minds of my kids, I’m sure they’re probably already starting the countdown. 180 school days to go. June 11, 2015 can’t come soon enough.

Newton’s Laws of Parenting?

Before I became a Stay At Home Dad I was a teacher. I taught fifth grade for one year and then seventh grade science for five more years. I absolutely loved my teaching job as I was paid to get hormonally-challenged 12 and 13 year olds excited about science. Why would I love that? Because I got paid to blow things up and/or light stuff on fire. Okay, there was also a lot of actual scientific stuff but that’s not the point. Despite my love for fire (safety, of course!), my favorite unit of the year was the six weeks we spent on Physics, studying Newton’s Laws of Motion, among other things. I’m guessing that many of you are having trouble reading this because your eyes are starting to glaze over at the mere mention of science. Please, stay with me. I promise I’ll try to make it fun. You might even recall learning about Sir Isaac Newton, that famous guy who is credited with “discovering” gravity when he observed an apple fall from a tree. Sadly, it didn’t actually fall on his head like those Saturday morning cartoons portrayed it.

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He also contributed mightily to the Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century in the fields of mathematics, physics and philosophy. You might also remember learning about Newton’s Laws of Motion. Words like inertia, force, mass, acceleration, rest, motion, action, reaction. I’ll wait for you to rub your eyes. Ready? Here’s where I hope it gets fun. It dawned on me recently that Newton’s Laws of Motion could easily be applied to parenting, especially if you happen to have teenagers in your house. So,buckle up! (Yeah, that was a nerdy Newton reference. Seat belts.)

Newton’s First Law, also called the Law of Inertia. Simply put, a body at rest stays at rest and a body in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by another force. This could be renamed the Law of Sleeping In. Or the Law of Not Helping With Chores. Or the Law of Netflix. If you have teenagers in your life then you know that asking them to do anything before noon during the summer or weekend is pretty much not going to happen. Unless it’s something that they want to do, in which case they can be up and at ’em by 7 am or earlier. Trip to Six Flags leaves at 6:30 am? No problem. Could you please take out the trash by 8 am? No way. I’ll be sleeping. The motion part of this applies to toddlers/preschoolers. Once they’re awake it’s GO TIME! There is no slowing them down. They run (or crawl) everywhere. Sit down to eat? Maybe for a couple of minutes but they’re going to be squirming the whole time. Stop playing and go use the potty? Not a chance. And don’t bother trying to get them to wash their hands. And don’t get me started on bed time. Ha! Of course, Newton understood something that we as parents often forget. We have power. Use the force! (Wrong force, but I had to drop that in there.) Amazingly enough, we can help direct our children to change what they’re doing through a variety of methods, hopefully more creative and kinder than using actual force. Unless you lick your hand…it’s a joke my 10 year old taught me. Be the force that changes lives for the better.

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His Second Law states that Force = mass x acceleration. You unknowingly apply this truth whenever you drive your car or even toss a ball to your child. If you want your car to go faster you need to press the gas pedal giving it more force. If you want to throw the ball down the hall so your kid has to go farther to retrieve it so you can play several turns on Candy Crush (shame on you, pay attention to you kid!) then you know that you have to use a small ball (less mass) and throw it with enough force. Hopefully you have good aim. But how does this apply to parenting? It doesn’t. It’s about motion. Kidding. Really, though, I like to think of this as showing that you don’t always have to use a lot of force to be a good parent. Sometimes being strong and forceful isn’t what’s needed. Maybe your kid needs you to lighten up a little bit and change the pace from the usual big bad wolf parenting that’s easily assumed. Run around with them. Have a sense of humor. Keep them on their toes. Be quick-witted. Push them to succeed without being oppressive. It’s a delicate balance that may need to be tweaked daily. If you’re too heavy-handed in your approach then you might force your child away. By the same token, you can draw your children to you (think of it as a reverse force or gravity) if you’re full of love and joy and patience.

The Third Law is the Action-Reaction Law. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” It’s rocket science. Really. Balloons whooshing through the air if you let go of the untied end after blowing it up. It’s that toy that you see with five steel balls in a row suspended by string. One of my favorite toys from my grandparents’ house when I was a kid. This one is pretty easy to apply to parenting. Ever try to tell a toddler or teenager “no”? What’s the usual response? They do the opposite. Please don’t eat the dog food. Chomp. Chomp. Please set the table. Please leave your brother/sister alone. I suppose it’s all part of the push for independence in our kids. At some point they’re probably going to have to make decisions on their own and they won’t always be the ones we would choose for them. But, here’s the thing. As parents, we can help guide the direction of our young “rockets”. They don’t have to be like the aimless balloon going crazy all over the place. With some self-control and perhaps a fair amount of tongue-biting we can help give some direction to our children, starting when they’re young and innocent and continuing on all they way into their teenage years and beyond. My oldest is 19 and moved out two days after graduating from high school about 14 months ago. Yet, my parenting with her is not finished. She still calls and texts me (almost daily!) to ask for advice or simply to talk. Just because she’s not living at home now doesn’t mean my job is finished. My influence may not be as evident with her now as it is with my toddler, preschooler or my school-age children still at home, but it’s still significant. And all six of my kids are watching my actions just as much as I’m watching their reactions. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, our actions influence the lives of our children.

I hope my nerdy application of Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion to modern parenting was as entertaining for you as it was in my mind. If you like my action here, please give me some reaction by commenting, liking or sharing this across social media.

50 More Things That Are More Offensive Than Nursing In Public

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August 1-7 marked World Breastfeeding Week and there were numerous articles that shared a variety of viewpoints about breastfeeding. As a 13 year Stay At Home Dad of six I’ve been my wife’s biggest supporter in her desire to breastfeed each of our children for as long as they choose. She has received many dirty looks or sideways glances from people who somehow think her choice to nurse our child is somehow offensive when done in public. The reality is that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and not at all offensive, even in public! In fact, there are many things in life that are truly more offensive than a woman nursing in public (NIP for those that like acronyms). Almost two months ago I came up with a sarcastic and light-hearted list of 50 Things That Are More Offensive Than Nursing In Public. It quickly became the most-viewed post of my fledgling blog, Big Cheese Dad. Many people added suggestions and I held on to them in anticipation of this post. So, thanks to the collective creative genius of my friends and readers, I am happy to present, 50 More Things That Are More Offensive Than Nursing In Public. As always, please like, comment and share if you enjoyed this list.

  1.  People who have no idea what they want when the get to the register at Starbucks. In store or drive through.
  2. People who drink all but the last couple of swallows of milk and put the jug back in the fridge instead of rinsing and recycling.
  3. People who don’t know how to merge or won’t let you in when you’re trying to merge. You’re supposed to use the gas pedal to merge, not the brake! Ever hear of the “zipper method”? I’m just getting started with drivers. Ugh.
  4. People who congratulate women who aren’t pregnant on their pregnancies (just fat, thanks). <<—her quote, don’t get mad at me!
  5. Backwash. If you’ve ever given your toddler a drink of your water or juice you know exactly what I mean. And exactly what they were just eating. It will be floating in your beverage. Drink up!
  6. Helicopter moms (or dads) at the playground. Let your kids play and explore and have fun. They can do it without you hovering.
  7. When my kids complain about being bored while on summer vacation. Really? I can find you a chore or 50! And, adults who complain about being bored. Really? You’re an adult. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
  8. People touching your baby. DON’T! She just got better after a week of a runny nose and you’re not going to start that again. Do you know how hard it is for a baby to nurse that has a plugged nose?
  9. Wearing socks with sandals. I thought that was standard here in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe I’m doing it wrong. Ask my kids. Actually, don’t. Nothing I do is cool by them.
  10. Guys who think they’re really funny and could do stand up comedy because of that one funny “that’s what she said” joke made by the water cooler that one time.
  11. People who think a pregnant belly in public is an invitation to touch it. When tempted to reach out and touch a belly, channel your inner MC Hammer and think: U CAN’T TOUCH THIS!
  12. People who leave grocery carts in parking spaces instead of walking the 20 feet to put it away. Lifestyle exercise is okay.
  13. Hitting or slapping a child. Disturbingly ironic when done to punish that child for crying or hitting or slapping someone else.
  14. School. Especially math. Who needs it really? Can’t I just ask Siri what 25% off is instead of actually using my brain?
  15. Smokers who think the world is the trash can for their butts.
  16. The Detroit Lions. Submitted by a Michigan resident. This Packers fan won’t disagree. I purposely made this one #16.
  17. Flossing teeth in public. Really, any personal hygiene in public. That includes mining for gold while driving. And, please, don’t eat that booger. Unless you’re a toddler, and even then it’s gross.
  18. Drivers who don’t respect pedestrians or bicyclists.
  19. People who don’t pick up after their dogs. On walks in the neighborhood or at the dog park. You’re giving the rest of us a bad reputation.
  20. Public selfies. At every single tourist spot. Stop already.
  21. E-cigs. And the rude people who try to push them on you at the mall.
  22. Cell phone usage while in the bathroom. We can tell where you are by the echo. Dead giveaway.
  23. Guys texting while standing at the urinal. Put it down and wait. And by it I meant the phone.
  24. Parents who leave their young kids alone in the car. No matter the weather. It’s not worth it. I’m going to call 911…and I probably won’t wait even five minutes if it’s really hot or really cold.
  25. Parents who smoke while their kids are in the car.
  26. Parents who are louder than their kids. Just because we’re bigger doesn’t mean we have to talk over them.
  27. Victoria’s Secret. If you think Nursing In Public shows too much breast then you MUST have an issue with this company. Walk through a mall and you’ll see what I mean.
  28. When people in the back of the plane stand up as soon as the seat belt sign is turned off. You’re in back. You’re not getting off this plane for at least 10 minutes. Sit down. And stop sighing so dramatically.
  29. Saying the F-word and other vulgarities in family-friendly places like grocery stores, parks and swimming pools. My kid doesn’t need to hear that.
  30. Neighbors or relatives who make rude insinuations about your parenting choices or abilities without coming right out and saying it. Passive-aggressive anyone?
  31. This is for my wife…When the new TV show that you discovered and think is really cool and decide that you’re going to follow gets cancelled after only one season. Talking about you, Journeyman and Alcatraz. Yet, we have how many reality-TV shows and game shows?
  32. Candy Crush Saga notifications/invitations. Or Farmville. Or whatever game you’re playing. Waste your own time. Not mine.
  33. People who don’t follow the “walk left, stand right” concept on escalators and moving sidewalks. Or those who stand in the middle, clogging it for all.
  34. Wisconsin drivers in Illinois. (from the Illinois guy, of course)
  35. FIBs driving in Wisconsin. You know you’re from Wisconsin if you understand the reference. Mom, don’t click that link. It’s rude. No, I don’t use it. 🙂
  36. Traffic circles. No. Actually, people who treat traffic circles like a stop sign and always stop.
  37. People who wear yoga pants or sweats or sweaty workout clothes to the store. Too much. Or too little, I guess.
  38. People who show up late for something holding a Starbucks (or other establishment) bought coffee.
  39. People on their phones at cash registers. Or at the doctor’s office. Whatever happened to common courtesy?
  40. People who throw gum on the ground or in urinals. And it’s always the nice or new shoes that attract the gooey gum.
  41. People on their smart phones while at a red light who wait an extra 5-10 seconds to go once the light turns green. And they’re always in front of me. BEEP!
  42. People who try to outrun emergency vehicles. Or those too oblivious to see/hear them to get out of the way.
  43. People who are ungrateful for their jobs in this tough economy. So it’s not your dream job. At least you have a job.
  44. People in restrooms (public or my own house!) who don’t flush. Related, why must people be so nasty in public restrooms? Feces on the walls and TP everywhere? Give me a break.
  45. The South’s obsession with the Confederate Flag/Pride. Y’all do understand the meaning behind it, right?
  46. Waiting rooms. Snotty kids. Loud cell phone talkers. Old and germ-infested magazines. TV on a station no one wants.
  47. The price of gasoline. Which pretty much affects the cost everything else.
  48. The rapid decline of manners in most people. Saying please and thank you and being pleasant is just as easy as being pushy and demanding and patient.
  49. Our general obsession with boobs that fuels multimillion dollar plastic surgery and lingerie industries while at the same time interfering with the primary and most important function of said boobs.
  50. Anyone who thinks that a woman breastfeeding her child is flaunting her breast or her sexuality in everyone else’s face. She doesn’t need to cover up. Maybe it’s too hot. Maybe her baby won’t eat properly with a cover. It doesn’t matter. Ultimately, it’s none of your business. Look away if you’re so offended. But don’t harass the mom and her baby. She’s feeding her child the way God intended. Leave her alone.

If you agree that women need to feel empowered to nurse in public please share this list across social media platforms. I’d love to be a small part of the growing support for all moms (and dads!) to care for their babies as they see fit and without public scorn.

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Special thanks to the following people (listed in order of appearance, some with multiple entries) who contributed ideas to the list above: Josh Gloer, Kathleen Cleg, Allison Tedford, David Wallach, James Ward, Scott Posey, Benjamin Mullen, Jonathan Criswell, Dawn Rubbert, Cuda Mitchell, Marty Josephson, Bryan Alkire, Laura Hargis, Kelly Berg, Kathy Robinson, Kathy Lehman, Marty Josephson, Trish Sheikh, Tony Hernandez, Jeff Tepper, Eric Williams, Michelle Swank, Jessie Johnson, Janet Crum.

10 Lessons from Two Weeks in Europe

I’m typing this from my comfy Eurostar train seat in the Chunnel under the English Channel, heading for London. My daughter and I have been away from home since 25 June and we go home again 15 July. We’ve had an amazing trip with stops in Brussels, Munich, Salzburg, Venice, Rome, Florence, Milan, Paris and London. Being a long time fan of a certain late night host (don’t want to name names in case it’s a copyright infringement), here are my Top Ten Lessons Learned from Two Weeks in Europe.

  1. Mass transit is awesome. We’ve used trains to get all over Europe and it’s been a pleasant and efficient way to travel. There’s no way we could’ve traveled to so many countries if I had been trying to drive us all over the place. While it’s not cheap, it’s nice not to have to drive or worry about finding parking. It’s also great to be able to take a short nap on the train, which is generally frowned upon while driving. Getting used to the nuances of each city’s system was another story, but we usually got the general hang of it by the second day.
  2. I really appreciate the availability of bathrooms in most restaurants and stores in the U.S. that are clean and free. Having to pay to use a Water Closet is overrated.
  3. Europeans smoke. A lot. Everywhere. It’s really annoying. Ok, let me put this in a positive light. I am so thankful for the “no smoking” laws in the States. While there are still many instances in the US where I encounter second-hand smoke it’s nothing compared to here.
  4. Holy cow is Europe ever expensive! Or, maybe the US Dollar just sucks. Either way, YIKES! How much would you expect to pay for a 20 oz. bottle of Coke in the US, maybe $1.75 or $2? Try double that (or more) over here. Drink water instead. Except…there are not very many drinking fountains (bubblers for some of you) to fill up water bottles. There were a bunch in Italy, but not so much in the other countries we visited. And I really don’t care for buying bottled water for my daily travels or even when dining out. Speaking of dining out…
  5. Ordering a meal from a waitress who doesn’t speak English is a bit difficult. And I wish it wasn’t so awkward to ask if the tip is included in the bill. I did find out from a restaurant employee in Florence (on our last day in Italy, of course) that “Italians never tip” since it’s included in the bill. Yet, in France it wasn’t. Or was it? I really don’t know because I got two different answers from two workers in the same Irish establishment in Paris. Come on Europe, make up your mind. I don’t want to be rude but I also don’t want to be a sucker and tip when it’s already been included.
  6. Tourists are easy marks. We stick out even if we try to blend in. There’s no way around it. Embrace it and be prepared to get asked for money by every beggar in every Metro station. And whatever you do, don’t accept flowers from a nice guy in a public area. He’s not being nice. He’s going to expect you to pay him for his, um, “niceness”. Same for the girl in the train station who will find you wandering in the station and ask you sweetly if she can help you. If you let her help you out then you can expect she’s not helping you simply out of the goodness of her heart. She’s going to expect to be paid for her 5-10 minutes of assistance. Although, if you look at it as a chance to skip the long lines at the ticket counter and a learning opportunity (how to use the automated ticket machine) then it’s not such a bad deal. Be warned.
  7. Sandals might not have been the best idea for a three week trip. Not because there’s so much walking. Nope, they’ve been just fine for all the walking. Because they stink. Literally. Probably doesn’t help that I’ve gotten them wet from the rainy places and they’ve never fully dried out. My shoes and feet are so smelly every evening that I have to wash my feet with soap and water and put the offending footwear as far away from my daughter as possible. I also douse them with baby powder nightly. Still doesn’t fully cover the smell. Oops. I’d consider buying some shoes but doubt I could find anything in a size 16.
  8. Basketball is a universal language. I saw some teenagers playing hoops at a park near our hotel in Paris and watched them for a few minutes. A few of them approached me and invited me to play with them. They were enamored with my height (over 2 meters!) and ability to dunk without much effort (yay 9’ rim) despite wearing my stinky sandals. One boy gave me the nickname of “Easy” because I kept making so many mid and long range jumpers without much (apparent) effort. They also wanted to know if I knew LeBron James because we’re both from America.
  9. Sometimes after waiting in line for an hour or two to enter a specific tourist attraction (that happens to be historical) it doesn’t live up to expectations. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Vatican/Sistine Chape, Mona Lisa and Palace of Versailles. Sometimes it does click (Eiffel Tower, Venice, David statue) and it makes it all worth it. You just never know.
  10. I’m pretty sure that people taking selfies EVERYWHERE is just about as annoying as all the smokers ruining the nice clean air I want to breathe. Of course, if you can’t snap your mug in front of whatever thing you’re seeing and post it on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter then it didn’t really happen, right?

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Note: I typed this on 10 July but neglected to post it until now (14 July) because we were having so much fun in London.

The Hills are Alive…With the Sound of Munich

It’s Monday morning and we’re on the 8:12 train, heading for the Austrian Alps on our way from Salzburg, Austria to Venice, Italy. My 14 year old daughter (E) and I left Seattle, Washington, last Wednesday and still have over two weeks left on our European vacation. Here are a few of the highlights/lessons learned from our first five days.

  1. It’s always best to be patient and polite. Despite a multitude of travel problems getting out of Seattle (cancelled flight, missed connections, no electronic ticket, long wait on hold…) I was able to keep my cool and not get frustrated at the people or circumstances. It was a good opportunity to extend grace to others even when inside I felt like releasing a Walt Whitman-like “barbaric yawp”.
  2. #1 is easier said than done, especially when you’re really really tired and just want to sleep somewhere that is comfortable. But we did it.
  3. American “passion” for the World Cup is nothing compared to the “PASSION” of Europeans. Yikes. They’re simply mad about it here. Cup Crazy. And it doesn’t matter if their team is any good, as demonstrated by the large crowd of people in London-Heathrow who gathered in front of the TVs to watch the U.S.-Germany game on 26 June. We arrived at our hotel in Brussels just before the start of Belgium’s last game and could hear the cheers and groans of the fans from our room. The loud cheering and horns just after midnight were a little annoying but an indicator of the passion they have for their team. The fever is everywhere. We spent two days in Germany and one in Austria and saw signs, posters, shirts, hats and more all over the place. I guess the only thing I could compare it to is the fervor of NFL fans for their teams, but on a national scale. (Bears fans, think about how you would’ve felt if you’d beaten the Packers in the NFC title game in 2011. Or how you felt in 1985.)
  4. There are a lot of really nice people out there who are willing to talk and visit. We’ve met so many people in just five days of traveling. Thanks to the 10 1/2 hour delay in Seattle we chatted with several fellow passengers who we wouldn’t have known if our flight had been on schedule. A kind lady on the train to Munich sat next to me and helped translate the announcements and even helped us find a hotel upon our arrival. Turns out that she’s a Literature professor at Shenandoah University in northern Virginia, back in Germany for some research this summer. While in Germany I met some people from Australia and some from Bulgaria. I learned that I’m terrible at deciphering accents. Except for American accents. Which leads me to my next point.
  5. Americans are obnoxious tourists. Case in point: while at a small bakery/café in rural Austria on Sunday, the loudest group was a table of five Americans. Completely unaware that their obscenity-laced conversation was dominating the entire room. Come on, people. We can be better than that. I’d expect such self-absorbed behavior from middle schoolers, not from grown adults.
  6. I’m tall. No. REALLY TALL! So tall that lots of people feel the need to point it out to me. I’m not remotely bothered by it. More entertained. At the train station in Cologne a guy who came around begging for money proceeded to dramatically point out how tall I am. Yeah, I’m 5’20” and I wear clown shoes. Move on.
  7. I wore a Packers football shirt on our trip to see castles in Bavaria. It was fun to see so many people say “Go Packers” upon seeing my shirt. Met people from Madison, Waukesha, Waupaca and Appleton. One guy from Atlanta, older and retired, asked me where I was from in Wisconsin. He knew Neenah (the city where I grew up) and all the cities in the Fox Valley…even Little Chute, Kimberly, Kaukauna and Combined Locks. Apparently he did a lot of business up there back in his day. What a small world. Then there was the guy from the suburbs of Chicago who saw my shirt…but what could he say? Turns out he’s a really nice guy (despite his taste in football team) and we had a pleasant conversation on our hike to the bus stop from the castle.
  8. I can understand why a lot of Germans settled in the Midwest when they came to the United States years ago. The rolling countryside of Bavaria is just like what you see in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Seeing the green fields, cows and barns seemed just like “home”.
  9. The public transportation here in Europe is amazing. We’ve taken trains everywhere and it’s been terrific. No hassles about parking. I can read or blog (like I am now) or enjoy the scenery. There is always a nearby WC for when nature calls. And you can rest. E has discovered that sleeping on trains is a great way to fight jet-lag. You just can’t do that if you’re driving. Too bad we Americans are so obsessed with our cars. And I’m certainly guilty of that.
  10. Solar power. I wonder how much less reliance on fossil fuels we would have in America if we put solar panels on top of our buildings? It’s so common here. There were even solar farms with hundreds of panels in dozens of rows. The technology exists. Why don’t we use it?
  11. Europeans seem to get a lot of lifestyle exercise. Our legs are already sore from all of the walking we’ve been doing and we’ve only been here for four days. A ten to fifteen minute walk is not considered a big deal over here. Maybe I should try to implement some of that mentality in my own life. Build in extra time for walking. Or biking. There are also a lot of bikers, including parents pulling young children. Even in the rain.
  12. A good breakfast is a very good thing. We’ve enjoyed the fresh fruits, pastries, eggs and sausages every morning so far.
  13. I can understand more German than I thought I would. My Spanish minor from college isn’t helping me much, but there are quite a few words that I pick up from time to time when hearing German announcements or reading sign
  14. Rude cell phone users know no nationality. They’re everywhere. Trains. Cafes. Shops. Hotel lobbies. Sidewalks. Bus stops. Even castles and gardens. The lady in the train compartment with us is now on her third call. Seriously.
  15. Speaking of cell phones…it’s been nice not having cell coverage here. Unplugged vacation (at least during the day) is quite a throwback. While having a smart phone is nice it’s been pleasant to use it just as a camera during the day. I will admit that there have been multiple times that I would’ve googled something to find out more about where we were but couldn’t since I have no coverage here. Yet, we still managed.
  16. Don’t buy stinky cheese and then put it in your backpack. Even if it’s wrapped and double-bagged in Zip-Lock bags it’s still going to stink. It was going to be my lunch today but I don’t think my fellow passengers on the train would be very happy if I opened it up. Although, if that lady next to me starts on her cell phone again…
  17. I really love history. I knew that already but it’s being confirmed on this trip. And, it appears that E loves it as well. She impressed our tour guide (who happens to be a history professor in Switzerland) with her knowledge on our trip to the castles in Bavaria. While over half our tour group rudely talked during his short historical presentation (on the train to the castles), E was really into it and he was pleased. So much that on the way back after the tours he came over and spent a lot of extra time telling us more details and sharing interesting tidbits with us that the rest of the group didn’t hear. Which reminds me, history is fascinating when presented properly. It’s too bad that so many people hate history because of the boring way it’s often taught in schools. Hearing about how King Ludwig of Bavaria sold his kingdom to King Bismarck of Prussia for money to build his famous Neuschwanstein Castle was incredible. But, that’s not all to the story. It gets better. Yet, we only learned that information because our tour guide happens to love history and shared his passion with us. Without him, we wouldn’t have known that, to this day, King Ludwig is still despised and hated by the people of Bavaria. And that his castle, made famous by Walt Disney, is a symbol of greed and selfishness to the locals while a beautiful tourist spot for almost everyone else. Also, in the nearby small town of Füssen there is a statue of the uncle of King Ludwig who removed Ludwig from the throne. Every day a new wreath or crown of some sort is placed upon his head by the local people, as display of their affection for him, even though these events all took place over 125 years ago. Now, THAT is history coming alive.
  18. I miss my family. Don’t get me wrong. I’m loving this trip and the break from the daily responsibilities of being a Stay At Home Dad. But, seeing little kids with their parents makes me miss my own kids that are at back in the States. I especially miss the snuggling and cuddling of my little girls, ages 4 and 1. But, then I hear the same cute kids fussing, fighting or screaming and I don’t miss them quite as much. I really appreciate FaceTime. It’s nice to see my family for at least a few moments.
  19. Of course, visiting so many romantic spots here makes me miss my own true-love, but I doubt anyone wants me to go on about that. If they’re reading this, I’m sure my own kids are losing their appetites at the very thought. I love her and am thankful for her hard work at home to care for our kids (with the help of her mom – thanks!) and to fund this trip.
  20. Finally, I’m reminded of the importance of this one on one time with my daughter. She’s really a great person and I like being around her. The memories that we’re making on this trip are priceless and precious. I’m looking forward to what the next two weeks holds in store for us.

Check out many more photos of our trip on the Big Cheese Dad Facebook page. Watch for daily additions to the Europe Trip 2014 album. We’re going to be in Italy for the next week, followed by a few days in Paris before finishing our trip in London.

A Chance To Pay It Forward

Oren

I started blogging about nine months ago. During that time I’ve shared a lot of stories about my family and how being a full time Stay At Home Dad has challenged me to be a better man, husband and father. I’ve blogged about some of the triumphs and some of the failures that I’ve experienced as a parent. I’ve written about some current events and even shared the story of the Frehley, the eleven year old daughter of my friend AJ who has inoperable brain cancer. Frehley’s story really gave me pause, as it is a parent’s worst nightmare, to see your child get sick and hear the terrible words, “There’s nothing more medically that we can do other than to keep her comfortable.” Well, unfortunately, at the end of May, the founder and creator of a dad-blogger group/community that I’ve been a part of was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. My friend, Oren Miller, happens to also be a SAHD. He has a wife and two young children. The “normal” life expectancy for his diagnosis is roughly 12 months. That hit home for me in a big way. Here’s a guy who gave up his career to be Daddy and, barring a miracle, his children are soon going to be without their Daddy. Just typing that makes me choke up at the very thought.

So, why am I telling you this? Here is an opportunity for you (yes, YOU!) to get involved. Oren and his wife, Beth, have not asked anyone for help. In fact, shortly after receiving his devastating news, Oren wrote one of the most beautiful and moving pieces I’ve ever read. It is because of the love and courage that Oren has always shown – even in the face of such adversity – that one of the guys in the Dad Blog group thought it would be cool if our group of roughly 800 guys could raise $5,000 to send Oren and his family on a nice vacation this summer. That goal was reached within 12 hours. So, the bar has been raised several times and now donations have surpassed $25,000, with a new goal of $35,000. This money is going to help pay for Oren’s medical treatments, to put some money away for his kids and to help pay for some memorable family experiences this summer.

Often there’s a stigma attached to people who ask for help or need help. Let’s put that aside and realize that this is simply a chance to make a difference for a hurting family. Even if you don’t know Oren personally (I haven’t met him, but I’ve still been impacted by his friendship and leadership), chances are pretty good that you have a friend or relative who had cancer. Maybe you could make a donation as a way to honor the memory of that loved one. Or, maybe, just do it out of the goodness of your heart. Every bit helps. In this case, the GiveForward site has generously offered to donate an additional $25 for every blog about Oren that links to his donation site, up to 40. That’s an additional $1,000 just for taking the time to write. Think about how much more we could help if we actually got involved. Don’t be afraid to step out and give. There’s this phenomenon that’s commonly called bystander apathy.

This  phenomenon refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders. In other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help. –Startups and Burritos blog

If you’re willing to step out from the crowd and share your blessings with Oren and his family please click here to donate at the GiveForward site. If you’re unable to give financially at this time, I know that Oren and his family would welcome any and all prayers and healing thoughts. As always, please share this with others who might be willing to help make the magic happen.

50 Things That Are More Offensive Than Nursing In Public

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I find it hard to believe that American society still has such a hang up when it comes to the rights of mothers to nurse in public. As a father of six children who all were nursed (some still are!) by my amazing wife, I have always been and always will be a huge supporter and defender of the rights of women to publicly breastfeed. Breastfeeding has been in the news again because Facebook recently relaxed its ban on breastfeeding photos and also because a 25 year old woman graduating from college had the audacity to discreetly nurse her young child durning the commencement ceremony. To fight back, I respectfully (and sometimes disrespectfully!) give you my list of 50 Things That Are More Offensive Than Nursing In Public.

  1. People who give you unsolicited parenting advice.
  2. Using phones for pretty much any reason at the movies, but especially talking.
  3. People who can’t park their cars between the lines in parking lots.
  4. People who talk about politics or religion and then get mad when you don’t agree with them.
  5. Parents who bring their sick (feverish, coughing, sniffling, sneezing, wheezing, hacking or fluid-dripping) child to the park or indoor play area.
  6. People who complain that McDonald’s food isn’t healthy. You’re at McDonald’s. WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?
  7. Drivers who don’t signal their intentions. Use your stinking turn signal already!
  8. The one-upper. You know, that co-worker who always has a story to top the one that was just told.
  9. Moms that dress like teenagers when out with their teenagers.
  10. Garbage dumping on social media. Marginally outdone by #11.
  11. Drama-seeking and Vaguebooking on Facebook. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
  12. People who pay for groceries in pennies. Or a check that they have to hand-write even though the machine will do it in 1/10 the time.
  13. Loud cell phone talkers. Particularly annoying on airplanes, buses and subway trains.
  14. The SBD. Silent But Deadly farts. Might be the guy sleeping next to you on a plane or the person who just exited the elevator.
  15. Left-lane cruisers. Oblivious. Almost always a middle-aged woman in a Prius or Subaru Outback.
  16. Saggers. You know, mostly teens who wear their pants around their knees. No one wants to see your boxers.
  17. People who show up in the Express Lane at the grocery store with a cart that exceeds the 15 item limit by about 30.
  18. Guys who talk about their Fantasy Football team. No one cares. Really.
  19. People who smoke while hiking so others following them get to smell smoke instead of trees, flowers or grasses. Not that kind of grass!
  20. The Duck Face. Just. Don’t. Unless you’re really a duck. Then it’s fine.
  21. Open mouth chewing of food, gum or toothpicks. Don’t even get me started with chewing tobacco and related spitting.
  22. People who abuse handicapped parking tags and plates.
  23. The word MOIST.
  24. My kids that leave one square of toilet paper on the roll but don’t change it because it’s (technically) not out.
  25. Drivers who don’t stop at stop signs. The California roll…
  26. Cyclists who ignore traffic laws and get mad when drivers don’t see them or (nearly) hit them.
  27. Public urination, particularly when the individual is drunk.
  28. Karaoke night. Exacerbated by alcohol consumption and/or false sense of one’s ability to carry a tune.
  29. Texting while driving.
  30. Holding your phone to your face while driving so that nearly half of your vision is blocked so that you nearly run into a father and his child who were walking in the crosswalk. (True story.)
  31. When people overuse the phrases “I know, right?” and “I’m just sayin'”
  32. Drivers who pass a car on the highway, cut in front of them in order to immediately take the exit. Bonus for doing that to a semi-truck.
  33. People who use their cell phones at the dinner table and say, “Oh, nothing. I’m just eating dinner with so-and-so.” Makes your dinner company feel mighty important.
  34. Heck, people who always take calls even if they’re in the middle of a face-to-face conversation with you.
  35. Talking loudly at the movies. Heck, doing anything other than watching the movie. Except breastfeeding, of course.
  36. Drivers that are in such a hurry that they pass around stopped cars and narrowly miss hitting pedestrians in the crosswalk where the other cars were stopped.
  37. America’s obsession with the Kardashians.
  38. People who comment “Blame Obama” for anything online. Same for those who comment “Blame Bush”.
  39. Hit and run jerks drivers.
  40. People who are oblivious to anyone around them. For example: stopping to text while in the middle of a busy sidewalk or blocking the aisle with your shopping cart while texting.
  41. When the person in front of you in line at Subway has a list of subs greater than two. Of course there are complicated toppings for each one.
  42. Neighbors who throw loud parties late into the night (technically early morning) in a residential neighborhood. On a school night. And then proceed to have a loud and obscenity-laced discussion about who makes the best f-ing chili.
  43. Short people who request exit row seating on airplanes.
  44. People who recline their seats on airplanes without looking back or giving any kind of warning and crushing your kneecaps.
  45. People who take to Facebook and spoil movies or tv shows.
  46. Mosquitoes.
  47. Drivers waiting to turn left who don’t pull forward when the light turns green.
  48. Fake accents. Unless you’re really really good at it, you sound like a fool, y’all.
  49. People who use the phrase “Mr. Mom” to describe Stay At Home Dads. Try Dad. It’s shorter and more accurate.
  50. Anyone who gives a nursing mother any grief about her decision to feed her child the most natural way possible. If you don’t like what you see then turn away and look somewhere else. And keep your negative thoughts to yourself.

If you agree that women need to feel empowered to nurse in public please share this list across social media platforms. I’d love to be a small part of the growing support for all moms (and dads!) to care for their babies as they see fit and without public scorn.

Five Days in June

At 7:29 am, on June 5, 2013, our sixth child entered this world and officially became a part of our family. Five days later, almost to the minute, our oldest moved out. What happened in between was a flurry of emotions and pomp and circumstance. Literally. That fifth day in June, a Wednesday, was our oldest daughter’s last day of school at Stadium High. She was excited to be finishing this chapter of her life even though she didn’t have definite plans for her future. But before her final day could even begin my wife began having contractions at 4:30 am. She woke me at about 5:00 to inform me of the immediate change of our plans for that day…and if I wanted a shower NOW was the time to take it. After getting dressed I helped her pack the bag for the hospital, alerted my sleeping mom (who had just arrived the previous day from Wisconsin) and escorted my wife to the car for the drive to the hospital. That drive to the hospital was supposed to take about 12 minutes. It took us closer to 30 minutes because I had to pull over every 2-4 minutes so she could get out of the car and endure the next set of contractions. I’m pretty sure her shrieking really freaked out some guy sitting quietly at a bus stop about 20 feet away during one of the stops. Being a doctor herself, my wife didn’t want to go through the “normal” route to Labor & Delivery, instead choosing to park in the doctor’s lot and walk through the basement to the elevators. Several contractions and concerned looks from hospital employees later we found ourselves at the L&D desk. After a few minutes in the waiting room, where we shrieked out another family, we finally got roomed. Baby J didn’t wait very long to make her appearance once we were settled there. In fact, the doctor on call barely made it back to the room to catch her. Even though I’d been blessed to be a part of five other deliveries, I teared up when she was born and thanked God for the health of mother and child. There is something truly beautiful and miraculous about childbirth. Amazingly enough, this was the first and only delivery in which it was only the two of us in the room with our new baby (and medical team, of course). For each of the other five births we had a gallery of family and friends in the delivery room with us. Pretty sure one of them was standing room only. So, there was something particularly tender about sharing this moment with just my wife and our new baby daughter.

Baby J only a few minutes old.

After a few minutes of gazing at this new child, I called home to tell the good news of Baby J’s arrival. I texted a picture of her and our almost three year old was rather unimpressed with the “cheese” on her new baby sister. We assured her that it would wash off and that made her feel a little bit better. The rest of the morning was spent resting in the room, recovering from the early start and the physical exertion of shoving out delivering a 10 pound baby! After lunch, my oldest (remember, she was at school) texted me, wondering if I was going to pick her up at 2:15 as usual. Since her school was visible from the hospital, I told her that I could drive the few blocks to get her but that she’d have to come back with me to the room. She was excited to meet her baby sister and pleased with the knowledge that she would be the first sibling to make her acquaintance. Her friend Blanca wasn’t too upset to be along for the meet and greet. By about 4 pm we had been given the clearance to go home, so we slowly made our way back down to the car and packed our baby in for the much shorter ride home.

Bringing Baby J home to meet the excited family.

We were greeted at home by four extremely excited siblings and two equally excited grandmothers. It was certainly fortuitous timing that they both arrived (one from Wisconsin and one from Florida) the previous day in advance of my oldest daughter’s Saturday graduation. It’s mostly a blur for me, but I know that we ate an early dinner before departing for my daughter’s softball game about an hour later. It was kind of odd to be watching her play not even 12 hours after watching my baby make her grand entrance. I’m pretty sure I slept well that first night. Thursday and Friday passed without major events. In order to give my wife and baby quiet time together, I took my toddler and our visitors out for much of each day to see some of the local sights. I felt a little bit guilty, that somehow I was neglecting my duties as a SAHD, but my wife assured me that peace and quiet were much appreciated so that she could nurse and nap, uninterrupted. I guess the biggest event was the gradation dress rehearsal for my oldest at the Tacoma Dome. We were spoiled by the presence of both grandmas, who took over cooking, cleaning and childcare while they were visiting. That allowed us to focus on bonding with our new baby. I believe I bonded with her a few times in the form of her napping on my chest while I napped on the sofa. Even now, she’s still Daddy’s girl. Don’t tell my wife.

Saturday was sunny and warm, perfect weather for an indoor graduation ceremony. We arrived at the venue all dressed up and ready to cheer on our graduate. After finding 10 seats together (no small task) we sat down, unprepared for the emotions that were about to seize us. It was quite surreal for me to watch my oldest walking with her friend into the arena while holding my three day old baby almost literally in the palm of my hand.

The graduate holding her baby sister

The graduate holding her baby sister

It was like two worlds colliding. Both filled with so much hope and excitement yet at such different places in life. At some point during the ceremony I made eye contact with my wife and noticed that she, like me, was quite teary. For me, it was a combination of relief and pride and hope. Relief that our daughter had graduated. It’s no secret that her math class (which was needed for graduation) was a major challenge that wasn’t fully resolved until a few days before graduation. And pride. Pride knowing that our daughter had made it this far and pride in successfully raising and guiding a smart, secure and talented young lady to this point in her life. And hope. Hope for her future, as uncertain as it was a year ago. Hope and a belief that she would successfully find her own way in life. After the graduation ceremony we took lots of pictures and then went out for dinner at our favorite local Mexican restaurant to celebrate our daughter’s accomplishment.

Since both grandmothers were in Washington at the same time and our oldest daughter was still “home”, we were allowed a special baby dedication ceremony at our church on Sunday morning. It was a special opportunity for our church family to meet our tiny bundle of joy and rejoice with us. After church was over we said our goodbyes to Florida Grandma and her husband and returned home for more rest and relaxation for mom and baby. I took my mom (Wisconsin Grandma) and three of our kids to Northwest Trek wildlife park. We had a great time learning about and observing the many animals. Perhaps the highlight of the visit was my almost three year old losing her Croc shoe in the water of the bobcat exhibit. It was retrieved for us by a park ranger and returned with the warning, “This should be sterilized before anyone touches it.” But, I digress. While we were at NW Trek, our graduate was busily gathering her belongings and packing what she was taking with her in some large canvas duffel bags. Her plane was scheduled to leave the next morning. It was getting real. My oldest was moving out. There was no stopping her. No last minute change of heart. I don’t even remember what her “last supper” was but I do know that we finished off that evening with s’mores over the campfire in the backyard fire pit.

We hit the road relatively early on Monday morning to get my oldest daughter and Wisconsin Grandma to SeaTac Airport on time. I was determined to not lose it until she left. I almost made it. As I was unloading the last of her bags on to the curb I could feel the tears start to build. We posed for a couple last pictures together before she headed into her future.

So long. Farewell.

So long. Farewell.

It was not lost on me that I dropped her off at almost the exact same time that her baby sister had been born five days earlier. As I pulled away from the curb my emotions washed over me like a wave crashing on the shore. I pulled off at the end of the drop off area and cried. Just. Cried. Through the tears I had the presence to thank God for allowing me to be her Daddy for those first 18 years. And now, with her leaving the safety of our home, I was releasing her into God’s care. While I know that she’ll always be my little girl and that I’ll always be her daddy, there was such a fierce emotion that was released when the finality of her life at home came to be a reality. After a few minutes I had gained my composure enough to drive home where I held my baby and kissed her head.

Fight Like A Girl: A Matter of Perspective

Monday night I opened up the laptop and sat down to write a blog entry. I’d been kicking around a few ideas for a good rant. I thought about writing my thoughts about the terrible shooting in Santa Barbara, California last Friday and the related issues of misogyny, mental illness and gun control. I also considered going off about my lousy backyard neighbor whose puppy escaped his yard and attacked several of my chickens in my backyard earlier in the day. I even considered unloading some thoughts about parents who shout and scream at their children in public as their form of discipline. Yet, nothing really worked for me as I sat there. My heart and mind just weren’t in it. Instead of trudging onward I closed the laptop and went to bed. As I laid there, I realized what I needed to write about; what was bothering me. It was the status update of my friend, AJ.

Well, results of Frehley’s MRI last Friday have shown that the tumors are continuing to grow…. It was our last visit at children’s hospital today, there is nothing more they can do on a medicine point of view. We will truly miss the oncology team at Childrens, they have been our saviors for the last 2+ yrs. They did say they may come for a home visit. As of today we will discontinue chemo meds and continue with just keeping Frehley comfortable. Lisa is taking the summer off of work to be with Frehley, She is doing ok….. we are working on a bucket list of things to do this summer. We will keep you posted on all our adventures. We continue to be in awe of all the support we receive from our friends, family and community. Please STAY STRONG FOR US we are going to need it.
Frehley is his 11 year old daughter. For more than two years she’s been bravely fighting a brain tumor. Her family and friends have rallied around her as she has received many treatments. Her friends started a Facebook page called “Stay Strong Frehley“. T-shirts were sold with the slogan “Fight Like a Girl” across the front. She even got to meet her idol, Selena Gomez. All in an effort to give Frehley encouragement and strength in her battle. While I’ve never met Frehley, I can tell you from following her story these last few years that she is one tough kid. Along with countless others, I’ve been praying for her to beat this. But, barring a miracle, she’s not going to win this battle. I cannot begin to imagine the wide spectrum of emotions AJ and his wife, Lisa, are experiencing right now as they are coming to terms with the fact that there is nothing more that can be done medically for their daughter. For me, as a father of six, I couldn’t imagine anything worse. I guess it took reading this terrible news about Frehley to shake me a bit, to help give me a little perspective. Those other blog topics can wait. They’re not really that important. I can write about them another time, if at all. But, for me, what really matters right now is thinking about what’s important in my life. It’s far too easy to take things like health and loved ones for granted. Sure, we’ve all lost loved ones, maybe even watched them die. We’ve all experienced times of sickness, maybe even extended sickness. But, for the most part, we’ve recovered and moved on with life. It would be easy to get depressed thinking about how sad it is that this young girl is going die way before her time. Instead, I’d like to challenge each of you, including myself, to use Frehley’s story as inspiration and motivation to shake out of the day-to-day routine and refocus yourself. Live. Love. Laugh. Appreciate. Make a family bucket list and start crossing items off as you make memories together.
While I’m not going to pretend to be close friends with AJ and his family, I can assure you that I’m going to continue praying for them as they go through this difficult time. Please note that I asked for and received permission from AJ before sharing Frehley’s story with you. Please share this story with others so that Frehley and her family may be encouraged. I’m sure that they would appreciate knowing that you’re staying strong for them, as well.