Like many people, my family is the ultimate joy. Although happiness and fulfillment are deeply personal, my wife and children inspire me to be better and make me feel like the luckiest man alive. I am forever grateful to them, and this year was no different. Same goes for the many friends that have stayed with me over the years.
But there are several new things that came into my life this year that I’d like to recognize. Some of them are simple. All of them make me even more grateful to be alive. While I don’t mean to be insensitive to anyone still struggling with this moving goalpost of a pandemic, I can honestly say that I’m happier today than I was pre-COVID.
Here’s why: Continue reading…
There are a lot of things I miss since coronavirus scared, scarred, and upended the world.
I miss the large number of people I used to freely associate with. I miss seeing the bottom half of people’s faces. I miss the wonderful customer service we used to receive from restaurants and other stores. I miss a normal workload.
I miss live events, especially sports, music, and movie theaters. I miss roaming about my city, country, and world in what was surely the heyday of global travel. I miss knowing that I could shake hands or high-five anyone I encountered. I miss the trust we used to have in immune systems, the ones that largely kept our species alive for hundreds of thousands of years.
But mostly, I miss being treated like a trustworthy human instead of a disease-carrying leper that should be avoided. That’s a gross feeling to confront on a near daily basis.
That said, I couldn’t have stomached and mostly thrived over the last three months had it not been for the following: Continue reading…
I wish coronavirus never happened. Given its uncertainty, I also wish society would have partially distanced like Sweden did instead of hitting the giant “off” switch on social life or “save hospital capacities at all costs” approach the rest of us took.
It’s a fearful world we live in.
That said, I’ve been able to take the lemons, if you will, to make some sweet lemonade recently. Although I was an angry, stressed-out wreck the first two weeks of quarantine, I’ve been able to transition to first coping and eventually thriving over the last month.
Here’s how the unwelcome outbreak and draconian quarantine have actually changed my life for the better: Continue reading…
Valentine’s dinner with kids at home beats crowded restaurants
Like any red-blooded American, I grew up observing Valentine’s Day, albeit casually. I traded candies with classmates, chocolates and stuffed animals with crushes, and used to take my wife to “romantic” dinners at crowded restaurants.
It was not an enjoyable experience, especially the latter. A few years after marriage, my wife and I started eating Valentine’s dinner on another day the week to beat the crowds, but that didn’t feel right either.
Then one day nearly 10 years ago, my wife proposed a radical idea: “Why don’t we stay home and cook a nice candlelight dinner with the kids and celebrate all kinds of love, not just romance?” By this point, I didn’t really care since nothing seemed to work. “Sure,” I said. Continue reading…
As parents for over a decade, my wife and I have forced a lot of dogma upon our five children. Some might call us total meanies for doing so. Nevertheless, here’s how we’ve indoctrinated them so far: Continue reading…
There’s a great line from Goonies uttered right before the second act. “Kids suck,” grumbles an exasperated Mother Fratelli, having been reminded how unruly children often are.
There’s no denying what a pain-in-the-ass kids can be, especially while traveling. There’s also no denying their ability to help us see the world with younger eyes again, laugh more, soften calloused hearts, learn new things, reawaken zest and relive the past.
Depending on your outlook, the trade-off is usually worth it. For the brave souls traveling with kids, here’s how to minimize collateral damage on your next trip. Continue reading…
Courtesy Cathy Snow
Cathy and Brent Snow, as pictured in the mid ’70s with my older sisters Cami and Summer. Happy birthday, mom! You’re as beautiful today as you were then.
But oh! How I depend on them, including the ones not pictured.
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life,” says Richard Bach. “A happy family is but an earlier heaven,” adds George Bernard Shaw.
I’m grateful for mine.
Credit CC/Fred Mancosu
The below short story entitled “Birthday Cake” was written by my friend Josh Ray (under pseudonym) and published with his permission. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
I got a birthday. I suppose everybody does, and it comes around every year at the same time. That’s the way they do. Mine’s in November, but I don’t suppose that matters much one way or the other for this story. Anyway, I’m gonna tell you about two birthdays I had in particular. Continue reading…
Good summation of advice that certainly mirrors my independent research. #bookmark
My wife and I recently borrowed a large sum of money to buy a highly illiquid asset. To secure the loan, we disclosed more of our financial behavior to the bank than we’ve admitted to anyone else, including God. And rightfully so—again we were borrowing a large sum of money, and they wanted to make sure we’d pay it back.
In addition to scouring our personal finances, the lender took a fine tooth comb to our business finances. I’m self-employed. But my wife owns 50% of “the company.” I generate and service all the income. She gets half. Many would call her—as my lender often did—a “silent partner.” But she is anything but. Continue reading…
Saying “I love you” for the first time is always a crap shoot.
It’s easier to do when the other one says it first. Difficult to do when you’re the emotional, head-over-heals, and “want to lay it on the line” type like me.
That was the case when I first expressed my love to Lindsey. If I remember right, the conversation went something like this (probably after one of our legendary make-out sessions):
Me: “I love you.”
Lindsey: “Thank you.”
Crash and burn.
Not to worry, though. I was flying high again a few months later, after hot stuff reciprocated. And we lived happily ever after.
Thank you, Lindsey.
My dad won’t like me for repeating this on the intertubes, but it’s too good not to.
Growing up, my old man would regularly sneak off to his tiny toilet room to get away from his loud wife and six, know-it-all children. It was one of those “bathroom within a bathroom” type deals where the toilet had its own lockable door—you know, for added privacy and to keep the fumes from offending a significant other using the sinks, bath, or shower.
Funny thing is, that toilet room would have been claustrophobic for an undersized gnome. While sitting on the toilet, small children could have (and regularly did) touch opposing side walls with ease. It couldn’t have been longer than six feet.
Nevertheless, my dad would retreat there for what seemed like hours, reading Rand-McNally maps or whatever almanac or resource books he left in there. It was his sole sanctuary, that is until he took over the entire second floor after the kids left home.
As a stunning teenager, I remember thinking something like this: “Dude bought this big ole house and everything in it, and yet the only space he has to himself is a 6×3′ toilet room.”
Now, as the children have begun overrunning my own house, I have found myself in similar situations. Granted, I have it better than he did. I enjoy a private home office that is only occasionally open to the kids for impromptu dance sessions (since my desktop doubles as the house’s best hi-fi). And my “toilet room” is much larger than his.
But I still stay in the bathroom longer than I should. The only difference is instead of Rand-McNallys, an iPad comes with me.
(Note: I defer all flagging concerns to George Costanza)
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjedB9d2v8k[/youtube]Now can someone lend me a few thousand dollars so I can take up the hobby full time? Either that or let me impose on your Cape Cod, Maine, or Southern Florida timeshare?
Seriously though, Lindsey and I had a wonderful time and plan to go again sooon. It’s a perfect way to slow down your life.
Thanks, Bonneville Sailing.
While considering a TV upgrade, Lindsey and I were price checking a nearby retailer yesterday. Thankfully for us, the outfit was showing a kids movie, so parents could shop around.
Lindsey and I didn’t wait to take advantage. After a few minutes, I glanced towards the girls to find my four year-old looking the opposite direction, peeking through tiny fingers, and squirming in her skin as she watched a sci-fi movie on a different TV. I then rushed over to rescue her from the gnarly Alien surgery taking place on screen.
She was pretty upset. And I’m sad to say I didn’t notice the movie beforehand. (Was neck deep in materialism—not parenting— at the time, okay?) She cried when we got home. Her mother wisely recommended prayer. I offered. It helped.
This morning, it was Sadie’s turn to pray. “Please help me forget scary movies,” she supplicated.
Cutest. Prayer. Ever.
Like her daddy, I recently learned that my two-year old has a fetish for really good blues rock.
While listening to Band of Skulls on the way to St. George this weekend, Lindsey and Sadie weren’t as excited to hear the band. Meanwhile, I caught Maddie in a self-taught and deliberate headbang—she enjoyed it so much.
True to chain letter form, Lindsey emailed me the following “friend survey” today. With exception to nos. 23 and 41, her responses made me proud to call her my wife—especially with Valentine’s around the corner. They also make me look chivalrous, which is always a good thing.
Warning: some of her answers are a little sappy. But this is my blog—not yours. You can get lost if you have a problem with that! Continue reading…
In an effort to avoid having to finish her lunch yesterday, my four-year old casually lied to her mother, claiming to have had a headache and, therefore, would be unable to finish her meal. Playing along, my wife ask, “How long have you had it?”
“14 days,” came the reply. Upon hearing this from the adjacent room, I did a double take and replied, “That is one massive headache.” Laughter ensured. Kids Say the Darnedest Things now up to 16,470,002.
I got the new Punch-Out for Wii today and have been reveling in the nostolgia and reliving the combos required to beat each opponent. Currently I’m stuck on that frackin’ Great Tiger, who uses tricky teleportation punches to win. Cheater. My older brother Brooks was always better at this game. Where’s a good wing man when you need one?
Amid the great economic apocalypse of 2009, Lindsey and I sheepishly took an undeserved (as opposed to the popular “well-deserved”) vacation to Fort Lauderdale this month, while my mom watched the girls. It was the best trip I’ve had in a while, considering the stunning beach, lovely weather, great food, and cheap airfare and accommodations. We liked it so much, we plan on returning with the girls as soon as possible. Here are some of my favorite photos taken during our stay: Continue reading…
Lindsey and I gave few gifts for Christmas this year — virtually none to friends and family (gulp). I justified the stinginess given the imminent economic apocalypse.
Now, as the wee hours of Christmas are upon me, I feel like a grinch. Only I have no sleigh full of toys to return to double the size of my heart. Happy Holidays?
At least my three year-old is getting something.
While Lindsey and I (and PBS Kids) teach Sadie a boat load of stuff, I cherish the innocence she teaches me. I’m not sure how she came up with the following, but this is what she wants for Christmas:
- A pink flashlight
- A “key,” so she can pretend to unlock doors in our house.
That’s it. $15 of awesome.
This year felt a lot like last for me. I liked that.
That’s not to say thetr weren’t any life improvements — there most definitely were. But it did feel like business as usual with a few notable exceptions. Lindsey and I went on a lovely vacation to the Caribbean in February. Sadie started dance class and abandoned diapers over the summer (rad). Maddie started walking and her colorful personality has filled our house with 100% more smiles. We visited my parents home in Georgia for the first time in three years. And I started two new writing gigs.
In sum, here is what I am most thankful for this year: Continue reading…
Boston.com has published an interesting story surmising what a depression in the 21st century might be like. While the Great Depression and all its similarities to our current situation was very public, the New Depression (defined as a recession lasting a few years and unemployment upwards of 25%) will be very private, the article suggests, given the proliferation of the Internet to perform many daily duties including shopping, banking, entertainment, and communication. In short, author Drake Bennett expects long lines at the ER since people will drop their health insurance, a television boom since it’s the cheapest form of entertainment (movies and baseball were in the 30s, but not anymore), and barren suburbs due to crashing home values. Oh, and those shiny gadgets (bu-bye iPhones) will be traded in for reliable and durable tech like Nextel phones, and people will stop consuming organic food and other snobbery items because they’re too expensive.
Confession: We do not shut bathroom doors in our house while relieving ourselves, that is unless guests are over.
Lindsey and I inadvertently started the bad habit as newlyweds living in a small condo, wanting to maximize our conversation time. The practice has stuck, and often times one of use will even sit in the hallway to carry on a conversation, as if the other was merely sitting down as opposed to going to the bathroom. I guess we’re a modern day Adam’s Family.
Last week, I was making lunch for the girls while Sadie, our three-year old, dispensed u-boats in the guest bathroom toilet. As usual, the bathroom door was wide open so Sadie and I could talk should the “urge” arise. It didn’t take long.
Lindsey and I took the girls and our friends The Andersen’s on Friday to Jumping Jacks, an indoor playhouse with more than 6 dozen connected trampolines. I especially liked the warning sign: “Please jump in control. Don’t be stupid!”
I love taking jumps in life, so long as they’re “in control,” and I hate the consequences associated with being stupid. Definitely words to live by. A cute picture of Lindsey and the girls after the break…
Lindsey, the girls, and I drove the Alpine Loop for the first time yesterday. While the number of trees are admittedly more barren and less colorful than East coast foliage or the Appalachian Mountains, the scenic drive reminded me of my roots just the same, with some lovely mountain vistas not seen anywhere else. Screenshots or it didn’t happen. Continue reading…
Myself. Normally not wide- or cross-eyed, I swear.
I’m a younger brother and LOL’d upon seeing this (via Digg).
Randy Pausch, a computer science professor diagnosed with terminal cancer, clearly understands the value of life. His thoughts on carpe diem, achieving your childhood dreams, and materialism are precise, inspired, and honest (no gimmicks here).
At the time of his discourse (Sept. 2007), doctors said Pausch would have “three to six months” to live. As of today, he is still alive. His original full-length lecture at Carnegie Mellon can be found here.
See also: My attempts to be a shoe designer | You have a choice
Lindsey and I will be leaving on our first cruise this Saturday, departing from Miami on Sunday to tour the Caribbean. Any pointers for a cruising noob? Disembark? Don’t disembark? To the comments with you, kind reader!
NOTE: As a result of our travels, Smooth Harold will be on a publishing hold until Monday, February 18 at the earliest. Have a great week, everyone.
I’ve uploaded a handful of recent images to Flickr after Lindsey and I erected our Christmas tree on Tuesday. Peep ’em, if you dare. Oh, and expect a steady influx of photo blogging in the coming days — the newness of this camera has yet to wear off.
Holidaze 2007 (or Blake tries out the new DSLR) [Flickr]
The toy compact disc you see pictured above is not compatible with PS3 hardware — in fact, the little booger is twice as thick as standard CDs.
But the irregular gauge nor warranty endangerment would keep my little Sadie from trying to play “I’m a Little Tea Pot” on the ill suited $500 machine this past Monday. Amazingly, the PS3 took the disc, but wouldn’t give it back — the Blu-ray drive was in duress.
Madison Snow spawned Thurs. Oct. 11, 2007 at 4:22pm MDT. She weighed 8.2 oz and is 19 inches long. Mom and baby doing fine…
First, let me preface this post with a disclaimer: I come from a long line of individuals that simply must be right all of the time. No inaccuracy, however insignificant, can go uncontested in my immediate family. Part of that stems from the high number of intelligent siblings I grew up with, not to mention two shrewd parents. And while I can’t speak for others, I know my motivation to cross-examine every single statement was — and still is to an extent — rooted in my desire to display how much I know rather than enlighten others with meaningful truths. Truths with value. How noble of me, right?
That said, my feelings have slowly changed over time, especially since courting the beauty and brains that is Lindsey Snow of Seattle, Washington. In the last 4 and a half years of knowing her, Lindsey has taught by example in discerning what warrants correction, and what doesn’t. I can’t imagine how many times she must have let slide something I inaccurately said. I doubt she even acknowledged the act, rather opting to just let it go. At the same time — and while typically a quiet individual — Lindsey will readily stand up for something that matters; a material truth. “What matters,” you ask? I’ll leave that up to you, but I do know the order someone was cut from a reality show or what color shirt someone was wearing (when not profiling a criminal, of course) doesn’t matter.
I’ve been presented with three opportunities in the last week alone to correct another individual on some minute detail. In realizing what was important, I decided against correction without telling myself, “Don’t worry, Blake. You REALLY know what s/he doesn’t.” I just moved on in the moment, and it felt really good. Like, “Wow, that was really nice. I should do this more often,” good.
So, yeah. It’s a refreshing experience not to have to be right all of the time. There I go boasting again…