Family Bike Ride

For a couple of Sunday's now, we've packed the little ones up in the bike trailer, attached it to the trusty Trek Super Duty F-250 diesel mountain bike, and headed down the wonderful Clive Green Belt bike trail.  There are numerous parks along the way so we'll stop and let the kids play, have some snacks, and head home. 

What I've found fascinating is how cleansing, bonding, and emotionally recharging this is.  It's not that often that the kids are harnessed and shoulder to shoulder for an hour and forced to listen to their dad ramble about butterflies, squirrels, and the mechanics of a flowing stream.  Steph and I get to chat while the kids play too.  That's something that can get lost in the day to day schedule of raising these two, work, etc.

I guess the feeling I get from this is best described as total alignment...and it's when my subconscious knows I'm doing something physically and psychologically beneficial with zero downside. 

If we repeat this type of activity, we'll be a better family unit over the long haul.  For those few hours yesterday...I was 100% in the moment with everyone and there's nothing like that. 

Do less people.  Breathe in your kids.  Experience nature.  Sweat a little.  Reclaim casual conversation with your wife. 

(Special thanks to Des Moines, Iowa for making this experience possible)   


Discipline

Img142 I was hanging out at my 4 year old boy's Karate class yesterday and struck up a conversation with another dad.  I asked him how long his boy had been doing this and what changes he'd seen in his kid.  He replied, "I've seen a big change in discipline and his listening skills over the last year and a half...he's really able to focus more now." 

Interestingly enough, some casual observation clearly defines a line between those who've been in a while, and the new boys.  New boys have hands in pockets, look around quite a bit more, and generally have that "little boy wandering mind" that I seem to have never lost (sorry Steph)  I look forward to seeing that change come about in my boy.  I don't want the little boy nature to go away...but I do want him to learn respect, discipline, and how application of oneself breeds success.

He paid attention so well last night that one of the instructors picked him out to do a "board break".  When she called his name, he BOLTED to the front, set up for a PALM STRIKE and executed complete breakage of a small pine board first try.  After his success, he sprinted to me and handed me that board with a glow that cannot be accurately described in words.  I choked back the tears of pride and watched him bow to the instructor as he returned to the line up. 

In that moment, my boy showed me a glimpse of his future as a man...and as his daddy...I had another moment of absolute clarity into the love a parent has for a child.  It was like a window opened into his heart and I saw inside.  He knew this was a special moment, as did I.

I've seen that look before in my daddy's eyes when he felt this way about me.  Those moments build your kids into the adults you wish them to be.  Have more of them.

Sunrise in Hot'Lanta

Img110It's amazing how powerful face to face human contact is in the business relationship.  All of the emails and webinars in the world don't allow reconnection with your fellow man the way a social visit does.  Last night, I spent a couple hours reconnecting with old friends and clients while getting that "unfiltered communication" that comes when folks enjoy a few cocktails and tell you how they really feel.

As I look out the window this morning high above the earth (I took this photo 15 minutes ago), I can't help but dream of squeezing my loved ones and eating real food, making coffee at home, and chatting with the neighbors.  It's hard to imagine, but Spring is right around the corner.  Hold on...because soon we'll be cutting the grass a couple times a week and visiting Lowe's each weekend.  See how fast Winter races by...when you're running the race of life?    

Gaining Clarity on the 35th Floor

Img109Img108_1These are night and day photos from my room in Atlanta at the Marriott Marquis downtown.  I'm in the last stretch of this road trip and can't wait to get back home, even if it's been in single digit temps forever in Iowa.  I always begin to feel a bit disconnected after a week and I start to crave "that which I know and love":  The Panera crowd, blogging workshops, Bloganostra summit meetings, walking with my boy to pre-school, seeing our "family squirrel" (nicknamed Burger by my boy) romp from the front tree to the roof to the backyard where he torments my dogs...you know the simple stuff. 

The "busy-ness" level so far in 2007 (really began December 2006) is quite absurd but reaching critical mass in a few areas that will hopefully activate the relief valve soon.  I'm experiencing a situation where it's very difficult to get deep into something and use creative brain power.  Time constraints are forcing a skimming of the surface - mercenary type approach to business.  During these times, it's helpful to have start up or small company experience on your side.  Many that go through this blow up or crash because of sensory and task overload.  However, a good sense of prioritizing your "high value targets" and setting clear expectations will get one through. 

Anytime someone tells me they're at the end of their rope or just "in the red" I'm usually able to bring them back from the brink with some shared experience wisdom since, I've read this book before.    

Family Trippin'

Img089 We're in Harpersville, AL now, the result of a 16 hour Honda Odyssey minivan road trip with the family.  Our kids (2 and 4) have always loved long car rides and they really do well.   We spent one night in a hotel with the four of us and the two 60+ lbs dogs...and we had a blast! 

I really hope these early trips set the stage for family road trips around the United States from our central home base in Iowa.  These trips bring back so many memories of my Griswald'ish family trips including the 1984 circumnavigation of the United States by my mom/dad in a Toyota pick up truck.  Our truck had a carpet kit in the bed with homemade storage boxes and cabinets.  There was also a boot between the cab and the bed!  Yes, my parents put me in the bed of a truck for 10k miles...and I loved it!  Of course there were no seat belts or even seats for that matter.  "Don't let the suitcases crush you boy."  Back then, these things seemed to matter less.  I'm not exactly sure why.   

On that trip, we ate at the Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo, toured the White House and the Capitol, saw Mt. Rushmore, NYC, The Great Wall Drug Store in SD, and a million other sites guided faithfully by AAA printed "Triptik" maps.

I think we'll probably graduate to a motor home in the next few years, and I'll still require seat belts, etc. but the idea is still the same.  A family that spends time together trippin' around the US builds bonds that last a lifetime.  The kids may complain a bit and inevitably your wife will berate you for not stopping  to use the restroom when you had the chance...but in the end, you'll cherish these trips and memories they forge.  Maybe your thirty something kids will write about them someday too.




Paper Blogging & the Circle of Life

My wife brought the mail into today and much to my surprise, I received a "blog comment" on a real post card (that's a paper missive for the younger set).  The comment was a follow up on a "posting" I did in our local newspaper the Des Moines Register.  I responded to an editorial board opinion piece titled, "Pave Way For Preschool For All Iowa Children. The editorial board's penchant for spending my money seems never ending but I digress.

The crux of the story is the following non exaggeration.  Iowa needs to pay for preschool for everyone and for daycare before and after because it's a proven concept that preschool educated kids do better.

This idea is flat out wrong and I wrote the newspaper with my comments.  Here they are below and (linked)

The magic money tree must have sprouted here in Des Moines with all of the warm weather. At least that's the feeling I get when reading your gushing editorial about providing preschool and "wraparound child care" to everyone.

The piece builds from a "widely understood" truth that odds of future success are improved by attending preschool. I've seen plenty of alternative opinions that show unstructured play time being equally important to early development.

Now on top of paying yet more money for this option, you're calling for pre-preschool and post-preschool daycare funding! Let me clarify this concept to your readership: You'd like to outsource the management of children from early morning to evening with our tax dollars.

All of the statistics in the world cannot defeat common sense. Send your kids to preschool if you want to and can afford to, but please don't ask the general populous to provide nanny services at our expense. What a novel concept personal responsibility has become.

- Doug Mitchell,

Clive.

My commentary was received very positively by an Iowa reader near Sioux City Iowa.  I'll call her Mrs. W.  Mrs. W said the following in her post card sent to me:

Thanks for your thoughtful letter in Wednesday's Register.  I taught kindergarten a couple of years (after mothering my own 3 past that stage) and learned the "common sense" advice - that children should not be pushed at that age.  They just need time to mature & at different rates.  You are correct:  "unstructured play time is equally important to early development."  Do continue to share your wisdom:

Mrs. W.

That word:  Wisdom made me feel pretty darn good Mrs. W.

Synopsis:
I emailed a newspaper after reading a piece of printed paper.  My comments were read on paper and a postcard comment was submitted back to me.  Now I'm blogging on a paper comment and the circle is complete.  Now I'll follow up and send this printed post back to her.  The only piece missing was telepathy.  Blogs are just an extension of the conversation and I hope you'll join in like Mrs. W. did.




Drum Roll Please...For IconizeME

A few weeks back, after asking friends and associates where to get a "caricature" type logo made for my dad, I was provided with Iconizeme.com by Sandy over at Purple Wren.  I was looking to get an affordable logo built for my dads blog CarniceroLOCO.com that's "Crazy Butcher" in Spanish in case you didn't know.  My dad is many things including a philosopher, cool dude, and artist of the animal flesh out at Dutch Creek Foods in Sugarcreek, Ohio.

I am so pleased with how things turned out...and the entire deal was less than $100.  I received the following items for that fee:

1) Icon (for both Mac OS X and Windows XP Operating systems).
2) PDF vector based file, that you may resize anyway you want without any quality loss.
3) A high resolution jpeg file.
4) An avatar. A transparent gif file 128 pixels in height.
5) Transfer of all rights. Which means that this unique one of kind artwork is yours to use any way you see fit. We will only use it for display purposes in our samples area.
My artist was Jose Ramos and he did a GREAT Job.  He captured my thoughts and description expertly in his caricature.  I hope you agree and I highly recommend his work.

These pics:



Became this:


Love you dad.

Life with Super Heroes

You don't often get a glimpse of the "behind the scenes" life of super heroes.  Well.  I'm lucky enough to have two of them living in my house.  They're able to outsmart me with Johnny Cochran like logic...leap 2 couches in a single bound, bring me to tears with a simple unsolicited, "I love you daddy". 

Now please don't let their super hero identities out if you know me and my kids.  Pre-school teachers tend to treat heroes differently and we'd like to keep a sense of order in humble Des Moines.

Fall In Iowa

You now my wife said to a friend of ours while I was in her presence, (referring to Iowa), "You know, the kids would have never been able to play in the leaves and have this kind of seasonal fun if we didn't move here". That warmed my heart since I know this move has been tough on her. 

Here's what my boy thinks of Iowa.  Gosh darn I love this place.

Leafpilefeet

Being A Mommy

Although I'm of the daddy variety...I'd like to share a glimpse of what happens sometimes when you're a mommy.  Below is a picture of my wife's shoes.  She was so excited to get out of the house alone, to do some shopping (I was on a biz trip for 3 days) that she mismatched and was in public for about 3 hours like this.  If anyone noticed, I bet they thought it was a fashion statement. 

Img041

The work, dedication, mental stamina, drama, self-control, anger management, etc...of motherhood is beyond my simple daddy brain.  Her job is so much harder than my small company, start-up, cash flow, blah blah work that it blows me away.  She deserves at least $250k/year for doing her job...and having to put up with me too (often the 3rd kid).   Can anyone really say that any job is harder than raising well adjusted, loving, kind, generous, educated, contributing kids?         

Youthful Exuberance

Ben Casnocha talked today about young people and the freedom they have to "develop a cultural identity" since they're unencumbered by the ,"But what will they think" modality. 

Cultivating the, "Try like hell and fail...now is the best time in your life to explore what you can do without boundaries, fear, or the prospect of ruin," is the most important lesson I believe we must impart upon our children. 

I'm rabidly focused on this with my two children.  The best teaching method however is to lead by example and involve ones children in the processes, decisions, day-to-day operations, and planning of ones ventures.  Let them see that daddy still has that spark and attitude that, "It doesn't matter what the neighbors or the other big people think...it's what you think and do that matters."




Dude Stuff

My family joined me for lunch today at Panera, the newly adopted office extension, meeting room, wifi super-mega-ultra room.  Toward the end of lunch, I asked my boy (3.5) if he'd like to go with daddy by himself to the store to for "home made pizza ingredients".  He was beaming with joy, said yes, and proceeded to tell my wife that he was "Going to do Dude Stuff with daddy" and that she couldn't go with us...nor could his sister apparently. It's amazing what he hears, stores, and can repeat these days. (Yes I've told him that when he and daddy go out together, without mommy and sister...it's called dude stuff). I'm still smiling.

I couldn't help but notice also that EVERY person that walks past us in the store just looks at my boy and smiles.  He got his mom's looks no doubt...but he just elicits joy from casual observers.  Sure he's cute but he's got something to say, he's outgoing, and he just talks to strangers.  I admire this behavior and intend to cultivate it for life.  Who says talking to strangers is bad?  I challenge that idea.  Sure there's the micro percentage of incidents that lead to bad things...and he'll be taught about  what bad people can do.  But he will be encouraged to be a stranger to no one. 

A Moment of Clarity from the Author

I don't believe that one must announce things to the world to make them stick.  Thus I hesitate to post this tidbit about my choice to change certain modalities that apparently run my life.  But my readers get many of my salient life moments so here goes another one.

I love food.  Man do I love food.  Most of my friends and associates in life would describe my passion for food as Emeril like.  Unfortunately, I learned some very poor eating habits growing up. This is not blame but fact. My mom always cooked enough food for a small army...thus, portions were always massive and reloads plentiful.  My dad could eat like a horse, and Sunday dinner can be explained in the following manner:  Eat 'til the bursting point, go lay on the couch and talk about how good it was, while mom cleans up the kitchen.

However now at age 34, at 6'1" and 250lbs, I do not love the way I feel.  My back hurts, my belly is big, and I can't keep up with my little kids.  Self-image is fine here so I'm not making changes to look better.  My driving forces are my genetics and my family. 

I carry my weight pretty well and most say, "You don't look that big" (subconscious takes over and goes for the creme brule)...but that's not the point anymore.  This is about not waiting until the first heart attack or something else to make me eat less and move more. This is about being here for my family as long as possible.  This is about counteracting my genetic predisposition to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.  This is about a wife that loves me and needs me.  This is about 2 angels delivered from heaven that worship the very ground that my overly large body envelopes.  This is about conquering one of the last items that still conquers me.  I've grown so much through the years but this piece still vexes me and I'm done with it.  I just don't see how I can live to my fullest or perform to the level that I must when I'm ensnared by my next meal. 

There are no extremes here.  Life and food are meant to be enjoyed...but like many other things, I believe moderation is the best choice.  So don't be surprised if you see me order a 6oz filet, with fresh steamed asparagus, and a wedge salad with the dressing on the side for dipping (versus the coated indulgence that typically graces this work of art).

I will never stop enjoying the finer things in life...I'll just stop acting like every meal I eat is the last meal I'll ever eat. 

My Prime Directive

My goal in life is to teach my kids to think entrepreneurially.  Here's a link from Gaebler.com that highlights this issue.  I'm already working on my 3.5 year old.

1 Boy, 2 Soldiers & A Daddy's Tears

The family and I just arrived in California for 2 weeks of business and reconnecting with family.  Our trip on American Airlines took us through Dallas Forth Worth airport as usual (DFW).  While walking with my family to our gate, my boy (three and a half years old) spotted a couple of soldiers chatting.  I've been explaining to him how important soldiers are to our freedoms and what they do to protect that which we often take for granted.  Sure, he doesn't really get most of it, but what has stuck is that these men are to be honored and respected and thanked for their efforts.  He walked up to them and said, "Hi soldier, what's your name?"  This officer was at least 6' 6'' so the imagery was powerful as he stood next to my small boy.  Both of the military men introduced themselves and held a brief conversation with my boy.  They were extremely gregarious and were smiling ear to ear at what my boy had done.  Tears welled up in my eyes when my son stuck out his hand and said, "Thank you".  (We've been working on the firm handshake and big smile introduction for everyone you meet for a couple of years already.)  I choked it back and we sat down...later carrying on more in depth conversation with the tall soldier.  He shared pictures from his assignment, told us of the Afghan culture, and showed us pictures of the grandkids that he was about to see in California.  It was truly a pleasure.

I marveled at my son and what he's becoming.  He freely walks up to people or strikes up a conversation saying, "Hi what's your name."  I will never coach that out of him, rather I'll continue to take cues from him.  He has the reckless abandon of not caring what others will think.  He's a stranger to no one, friend to many, and cultivator of new relationships.  That alone is a trait that will carry a man to big places, and he's well on his way. 

Stop and appreciate your kids.  Everyone tells you that they "grow up so fast" and they're right!  Someday I'll be pulling my hair out when he comes home late with the car some night (sorry dad). But if I do my job, my most important job, my only real job... of raising them properly, I've got nothing to worry about.

Fishin' Hole Moment of Clarity

This past weekend, the family and I went to the local Fishing Derby.  The Water Works park here in town puts it on, stocking ponds with over 10k bullhead catfish.  Of those 10k cats, 2k have a tag on them that afford your kid a chance to enter "the prize tent".

This was my first fishing expedition with the boy.  Of course, there's a mystique about that first fishin' trip between a boy and his daddy.  This trip was a little more hectic, a little less outdoorsy considering this park is in town, and it was very crowded since about 20k people lined the shores of these ponds.  But there was still something magical about the day that brought yet another moment of clarity into laser sharp focus.

The raw excitement and wonder in my boy's eyes when that first fish came out of the water was seared into my heart.  Our walk over to the prize tent with his eyes as big as the pond and his step so springy, he almost floated there...will temper my frustration when he misbehaves for a long...long time. 

The local BassMasters pro fishermen stopped him and congratulated him on his "record catch" about 10 times on the way to the prize tent.  He looked them right in the eye and said, "yeah that's my fish and I caught it", and that was priceless.  I was so proud to hold his hand and call him my boy.

I guess the secret to enjoying parenthood, loving your family, and building an incredible bond with your kids is taking the time to appreciate them.  Stop and smell the flowers with them.  Absorb that you are their guiding light...their compass.  Keep correcting their course and letting them shine and things will be just fine. 

Breeding Bosses

Rich Karlgaard does it again with a great little piece in the May 22 Forbes entitled, "About That First Job."  His Digital Rules Segment is my "must read first" every time I get the magazine...but this week's piece really spoke to me since I have 2 small kids.  Since Karlgaard is so "connected and in the know" within technology and VC circles, apparently he gets the question all of the time at conference, "What career should my kid pursue?"

I leave the bulk of the article to your reading pleasure, but the bottom line is that Karlgaard says get your kids obsessed with reading and if you uncover a passion of theirs...absolutely immerse them in it and let it flourish.  Also, think like an owner and use formal and informal mentors to accelerate your learning. 

I couldn't agree more.

In my life, there was never a question of whether or not I'd go to college.  Thanks to very dedicated and wonderful parents who valued education above all else, it was just a progression that happened and I participated happily.  I have a different spin on things these days though.  If my son or daughter were gifted with a passion for something that steered them away from post high school education, I'd support it fully.  Our economy and our nation are increasingly about specialization and 4 years spent fighting the indoctrination of academia and boring non-essential classes do not support this vision.

As a 30-something, I don't head to classes about botany and calculus because they'll round me out.  I attend focused seminars, learn from other successful people, and read books to achieve my goals. 

There's plenty of time to get "rounded out" when you've attained your own personal level of satisfaction with yourself, your career, and your place in life. 

I am doing my best as a dad to expose them to ownership, control of destiny, and leveraging others success to achieve the best in life.  Sometimes they don't go along with that model (you know...both being under 4), but at a very early age, I believe they'll "get it".  If they both end up as PhD'd University Professors who are obsessed with political science...I'm doomed.

Back to CA

I'm back in California for a few days with the family in between a Vegas conference that I'm attending.  I've noticed a few things this time back.

  1. The growth here is unfathomable.  The economic engine of CA is alway on full tilt somehow.  There are so many new places to spend money, eat, and live.
  2. Infrastructure is an after thought.  I just experienced this outside of Birmingham too.  It's as though cities are so drunk from the idea that tax revenue will come NOW...that they put off thinking about how to manage the same roads, etc. when there's 3x the people.
  3. Traffic is just as bad on the freeway, and worse on the surface streets.  I left this stuff for a reason.  Now at home, there's freeway construction, and it causes a mile or so of backup during 2 peak 1-hour blocks.  I sit in it and I keep my mouth shut if I have to because I flash back to what I used to live through daily.
  4. I forgot what May weather is like in CA...very gloomy and overcast until late in the afternoon.  Remember, the longer that it's gloomy and overcast...the cooler it will be overall.  It's when the sun is blazing at 6AM that things get HOT.  So far, I'll vote for Spring in the Midwest...even with the occasional severe weather.
  5. There are more people in the county that I'm in...than in my whole state.  Everything and everywhere is a reminder that the volume of people living here is massive.  I check some population density numbers on the US Census site and CA about 3x average...Iowa is less than the national average.  That's OK by me.

CA brought me and my family (including my parents) such prosperity and I'm greatful.  I'm also grateful to live elsewhere now. 

Getting Reflective

I'm sitting here on my deck in the perfect breezy Midwest Saturday afternoon, kids napping, wife on a well deserved weekend scrap booking retreat about 1 hour away from Des Moines.  I'm having a few well crafted beers and am finishing up what will be the first cigar of about 3 today, a Cusano 10th anniversary BOLD cigar that spares no tastebud.  I'm in a lounge chair that happens to be directly across from the french doors that lead from the house to the deck.  One of the doors is open...one stationary and I can't help but clearly see my reflection in the glass. 

I don't often take to blatant narcissism...but I found myself staring into the reflection.  I noticed my gray hair, now pervasive.  I noticed that I looked like two kids' daddy. I looked like a devoted (and sometimes lazy) husband.  I contemplated how far I've come in the last few years, what I've learned, how I've grown...and I was satisfied.  I was satisfied to sit there and stare knowing that I've accepted what I've done...and that I still have the fire in my belly to learn, do, and become. 

My time was interrupted as is often is by an 18 month bounding toward me, smiling so brightly, saying "daddy daddy".  I picked her up, squeezed her hard and whispered....I love you baby in her ear.  She wont remember this...but I will for the rest of my life.

Relaxation Hounds Unite!

Thanks to my friend at BusinessLit for pointing out this fantastic "relaxation infrastructure" kit found on Lifehacker.com.

It's the Grass Armchair.  Yes.

Family Friendly Decisions ALWAYS Feel Good

Well, we offered on a house in West Des Moines.  My family and I went to Iowa with the specific purpose of procuring our new home.  After seeing about 20 houses, we ended up exactly where we thought we would NOT...West Des Moines/Clive area.  Our friends live in SW DSM near the airport and I thought for sure we'd like this older, established, more secluded area.  The SW is close to the airport don't get me wrong.  Door to door including rental car return can be 10 minutes from here.  Much to my surprise however, the CA native in me came shining through and I really appreciated being close to the "New Des Moines" including the glitzy Jordan Creek Mall, the chain restaurants, and the freeway.  This area is about 15 minutes from the airport give or take.   I even went so far as to see if I was close to the major grocery chains (don't tell anyone). 

In CA, everyone has fences, walls, etc. that completely block each neighbor off forcing either Home Improvement like discussions over fencetops or front yard "hey man's".  I thought I'd like to continue that trend by finding something with a completely secluded feel keeping my comfort zone.  After a few visitations however, I found myself saying, "This backyard is nice and I really like the fact that I can see the neighbors too."  In fact, I began to prioritize houses based on number of playsets in backyards that I could see from my own future backyard, parks in proximity, etc.   Ultimately, we picked a house that had a clear view of downtown DSM, a short walk to the elementary school, less than 2 minutes to the mega mall and about 15 minutes from everything else (Des Moines is not that big). 

Who'd a thunk it huh?  I guess we're really moving to get fewer people, no commute, MORE family oriented activity, MORE contact with our neighbors, MORE money in the bank, and MORE time to spend with each other and with a church.  Noble goals indeed.  I have a feeling that after about 15 minutes of emotion over moving from our first house...I wont look back.  Goodbye California and hello to our new home...Des Moines, Iowa. 

the greatest gift God can give

This is a re-post of my first blog entry.  I had no idea that I've created 127 posts and have been at this over 1 year already.  It seems like yesterday someone explained to me what a "blog" was anyway.

kids. wow. one can't really explain the joys and the miracle bestowed upon steph and I with our two little ones. it's truly overwhelming. (prelude)

begin flight from orange county airport (SNA) to Chicago (ORD) en route to Des Moines (DSM). 15 minutes into the flight, gavin pulls out the binky from his mouth, let's out a short cry, and proceeds to vomit profusely all over himself, the seat, the dvd player, etc. shocked, i scramble to "catch it" w/my hands and in sort of a slow motion handicapped kind of way...i begin to wipe. steph yells "blanket" or something and about 5 minutes later, it's done.

oh god help me. my son has made a puke fest out of row 33. @#[email protected]$%#^^%$^t. what to do. next thing i know, baby 2 is in someone else's hands, and steph's in the bathroom taking off boys clothes, and washing them. he's traumitized and the only worse trauma is mine.

they come back, he's in a diaper only. and for the next 8 hours, he remains that way, in airports, cars, etc. poor guy. had a fever for 2 days after so not sure if it was motion sickness or a flu bug.

i will never be the same...but this episode simply reinforces that i would literally die to take away the pain of my kids. i felt so bad for him, and would have done ANYTHING to bring back my spirited little trouble maker who worships the ground i walk on and waits anxiously every day for me to return from work to play on the pillows or outside. someday, i'll be telling him about how i held him in one arm, cleaned his poop, and how he was so cute when he said his own name for the first time.

what a gift.