As I’ve posted all week, we are currently at the beach on vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Earlier this week, about 8 Miles down the beach, they flew the dreaded double red warning flag, essentially closing the beach. They did this due to 100-150 sharks being “dangerously” close to the beaches. They were gathering due to people throwing fish carcasses out into the gulf. I have read numerous accounts on social media and heard many complaints down here at the gulf about how they need to do something about the sharks. And then tonight, after reading a post on Facebook by Jeffrey Hallman, the reality of the situation hit me. How dare those crazy sharks swim in their waters and come too close to vacationers? How dare those silly sharks swim around within their natural habitat and ruin our human vacations? I can’t believe the nerve of them…
Over 3, 287 days. 9 years. As of today, that is how long I have been married. Sure, when you commit to a marriage you give up some things, but the things you gain far outweigh those that you lose. Since we have been married, I have gained 23 lbs. That is a gain I could have done without, but it is there nonetheless. I have gained a lifelong companion. I have gained someone that understands me. I have gained memories that will never be forgotten, even as we create more. I have gained a pet name that I’ll keep to myself. I have gained the wonderful opportunity to be called “daddy”. I have gained so much, and it breaks my heart to see so many marriages give up so easily. Because in the end, when you fight through all the difficult times, the gains are incredible.
Newlyweds, enjoy your one on one time together before you start a family. The family life is great, but create memories you can cherish with your spouse. You will still be able to do this after a family has been started, but the opportunities will be few and far between. And it changes so quickly. Leslie and I were celebrating New Year’s Eve in the middle of Times Square in 2007, and then at the exact time in 2008, just one year later, we were at the hospital bringing our first child into the world. It all happened so fast and everything changed. Of course, life goes on, and changes are good, but again, I wasn’t prepared for the swiftness of the change. Then 2 years later, it all changed again with the birth of our first son. Then about another two years later, it changed yet again with the birth of our third, and final, child.
These 3, 287 days have been a blur, but they have been awesome. I know that I wake up next to someone every morning that loves me and supports me and understands me. I know that even though we may not agree on everything, we will make it through anything. That is a good feeling, but I also realize you’ve got to fight for what you want. Marriage isn’t easy. It is awesome, but it isn’t easy. Nothing that is great comes free, and I think too many newlywed couples assume that it does. Be ready to fight. If you aren’t willing to fight for your marriage, then maybe you should reconsider the union created by God.
So fight. Fight for the one you love. Don’t give up. I married a woman that I know will fight with me when the dark side of marriage pokes out its ugly head. That is a good feeling.
Though our lives are hectic, we make sure that our kids understand our love for one another, and that is important to me. Our kids already know and understand that they will not be able to wedge between us. They know they will always respect their mother or they will have to deal with me. They know we are a united front. Without us, there is no them, and they understand that. And that is as important to Leslie and it is to me.
So Happy Anniversary Leslie! These 3, 287 days have been incredible. As one of my favorite movie characters ever once said, “You complete me.” I am reminded everyday about how we are meant to be together. We have created some great memories. And I look forward to making more incredible memories until death do us part.
So we are still at the beach and will be for the rest of the week. If you are looking for a relaxing vacation, then I would advise you to stay as far away as possible from us. Don’t get me wrong, I love going on vacation, but it is….different.
A couple of weeks ago, I read a blog that compared going to the beach without kids and going to the beach with kids. And to be honest, the blog nailed it. She listed several differences and everyone of them was correct. So I am posting my thoughts on the same subject, but from a man’s point of view. I’ve always joked with my wife about the differences in vacations then and now. And to be honest, I don’t remember specific things the other blog listed. I just remember agreeing. But anyway, here are the differences from my point of view (sorry about the length but I didn’t want to leave anything out and I’m sure I still did).
When going to the beach pre-children. things are simple. You show you and unpack your one suitcase. You then take a nap. After a nap, you go enjoy your night out on the beach or out on the town and then you come in and sleep….as late as you want. When you wake up the next day, you grab your cooler and some snacks, a towel, and maybe a ball or something to throw around on the beach. You then relax at the beach as long as you desire. You get into the water, but most of the time just in the shallow end to cool off or to throw the ball or frisbee around. Whenever you get tired, you either sleep on your towel or go back to the hotel and sleep. You then wake up, take a shower, go grab some dinner, and then go out on the town (or on the beach). You repeat these steps for the duration of your vacation.
When going to the beach with children, things are never simple. You show up and unpack your 4 suitcases, 4 beach chairs, cooler (for water and Capri-Sun), beach cart (if you’re smart), 454 sand toys, your Puddle Jumpers, 7 floats, and 4 noodles. After unpacking, you decide that the day has been long enough and you want to grab the first edible thing that you see, shove it in front of your kids, give them a couple of minutes to eat, swoop them up, run a toothbrush with water on it across their teeth, and tuck them in. Once you get them tucked in, you and your spouse crawl into bed in the clothes you have had on all day and sleep. Usually at around 6:30 AM, the kids are at your bedside telling you they want to eat breakfast and go to the beach. So you eat breakfast, lather everybody up with SPF 300 lotion, put on bathing suits, fill the cooler with ice and water and kool-aid, fill the beach cart with chairs, towels, and sand toys and haul everything and everybody to the beach. Once you get to the beach, you chase your child that got too close to the water, you get buried in the sand, you build a sand castle, you wade in the shallow water with the younger children, and then you let the 5 year old convince you to swim out past the point where she can touch (and where you can touch). While out there, you smile at her as her Puddle Jumper holds her head above water while you struggle to tread water in order to keep your head up, while refusing to let her know that this is really killing you. You then somehow convince her to go back to shore. Once you crawl out of the water, you see that the draft has carried you 800 yards from your belongs so you start the haul back to the rest of your family. About 10 steps into the haul, your little angel notices that her legs are like noodles and she wants to be carried. Once you finally get back to the family, everyone starts whining and you and your spouse decide to pack up and go back to the room for nap time. You pack things up and you look at your watch and discover that you have spent 2 hours at the beach (20 minutes unpacking, 20 minutes buried in the sand, 15 minutes in shallow water, 20 minutes treading water, 20 minutes walking back to everybody else, 5 minutes deciding that the whining merits leaving, and 20 minutes repacking). Once you arrive back to the room, you lay everybody down and then you lay down to take a nap yourself. Within 5 minutes of laying down, your kids kick into Fireman mode and start working in shifts. The first will cry and whine about the rashes caused by the sand for 40 minutes and then finally fall asleep, and which time the second will start whining about being kept awake by the first one whining and this will last for 40 minutes. Once he falls asleep, then the baby will wake up and scream for 40 minutes until the other two are now awake and ready to go again. You then get everybody a shower, find a “fun” place to eat, wait for an hour and 45 minutes to be seated, and then have a meal with cranky kids because the night has drawn on for too long. Once all three have fallen asleep with their faces in their plates, you load them up, tuck them in, sleep fully clothed again to maximize your sleep, and then wake up 6 hours later to repeat the all process (except the process isn’t repeated, but you repeat a chaotic day nonetheless).
So after all that, I can tell you that pre-children vacation is about relaxing while vacation with children is about seeing the excitement and enjoyment on their faces and putting on a happy face yourself, no matter how tired you may be and you truly love every minute of it.
And I’ll fill you in on a little secret. When at the beach, find the child that appears to be the sleepiest. Then pick up this child, smile at your wife, and “love” on them by holding and rocking them for a bit. If you are lucky, then you may get to sneak in a little nap yourself. It does result in a horrible tan line, but it is well worth the price.
And you may ask how I managed to write this book…I mean blog…while on the vacation I just described. The answer is simple. Sometimes you get lucky and the good Lord rewards you for your hard work. It is raining tonight, so the kids are playing games before they lay down and I am getting a chance to watch the game. The game isn’t much of a game right now, so that little “Hey, you need to blog” voice popped into my head.
So here we go (again on our own)…off into the unknown world of blogging.
We are on vacation. Everyone else is napping. I can’t sleep, so I thought to myself “Hey you, why not start a blog?”. I’m not sure if anyone will ever follow this blog nor am I sure what to tell people to expect from this blog, as to be honest, I don’t even really know. I am random. Need proof? I just out of nowhere decided to start a blog. Need more proof? I made a random tribute to Whitesnake in my opening line because that song pops into my head everytime I say “here I (or we) go”. I actually started it last night and posted on a different site but have since decided to change to wordpress. So my apologies if you are one of the three people that read it over there, but for now on this will be my blog.
At 34 years old, I pretty much answer to two different names: “Dad” and “Coach”. That is about what everyone that I come into contact with on a daily basis calls me (to my face anyway). My wife doesn’t call me that, but my pet name is pretty random and somewhat embarrassing, so we will just stick with Dad and Coach for now.
Anyway, I outkicked my coverage. My wife is way better than I deserve. And the three kids that the good Lord has blessed us with? I can’t even start to describe what they have brought into our lives. They are ages 1, 3, and 5. So yes, things are crazy around here. But it is a pretty awesome kind of crazy. There are times when it all feels like too much…but at the end of the day, after fighting them to finally fall asleep, I sit back and realize all the ways that my family has blessed me. We aren’t even close to perfect, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything (pretty cliche, huh?).
As if 3 kids at home doesn’t make life crazy enough, my chosen profession is to work with more kids….the middle and high school kind. This may make me certifiable, but again, it is awesome. I teach 8th/9th grade and coach middle school football and varsity girls soccer. So I leave my craziness at home just to walk into the drama of middle school kids and then once I leave there, I walk into the drama of jock middle school kids during the fall and then the drama of HS girls in the spring. But again, I love the craziness.
Teaching and coaching are a passion. I love working with kids. I love the excitement when they finally see that history really isn’t all that bad. I love the celebration after that 8th grader scores his first (and possibly only) touchdown. I love the emotion of watching a team that I have seen grow from infancy win their first area championship.
So yes, I am crazy. But I love the craziness. And I am also a rambler as you can tell from this blog (or you could simply ask any of my students or athletes about my ramblings). I guess this blog is a first step. To what? I really don’t know. It may be the first step to me blogging to myself. Or maybe I will get lucky and have a few folks find some comic relief in the stories I am planning to tell. I’ll probably even get a hard time from some about having a blog, but that stuff really doesn’t bother me. The good Lord has blessed me by surrounding me with so many great personalities and wonderful people so that I usually don’t let a little negativity bring me down. My life is too hectic and crazy to worry too much about those types of things.
I love it. And you are welcome to come along for the ride.