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Parenting, Life, Business & Freedom in 2015

Let me apologize in advance by saying that this post is a mess. It’s a mess of thoughts, emotions and frustrations most of which are not in any specific order. I just started typing about where I am at right now and stuff came out. So if you are interested, read on.

Well, it’s 2015 and though I don’t put much into resolutions or starting over, part of me does hope for the best when the new year begins. The last couple of months of parenting have been tough. All three of my kids have been super emotional and they constantly mess with each other. Of course there are those moments where they play nice but its short lived. As I sit here and type this, my kids are watching Clifford. Emmy looks over at Cohen and he kicks her in the leg. They love each other one moment and hate each other the next. I don’t think they know any other way to express themselves yet, but it’s sure annoying to have to constantly be putting out fires as each battle is taken to far. A very naive part of me hoped that something would change and the first of the year would magically start off perfect.

Here is a photo of my daughter. She was screaming for no reason at all. Well, I am sure there was a reason, but I have no idea what was upsetting her. She gets so mad just out of no where. The only way to fix that is to pick her up. If you do anything at all with Liam and it does not go his way, he shuts down and throws a fit. Cohen is quieter but has his moments of complete breakdown where you can’t to anything but put him on his bed and tell him to come find you when he is done throwing a fit.

What is nice is that both of my boys are easy to talk to. They are quick to ask for forgiveness and they know when they have wronged someone. I recognize that they are just going through a phase where they are not sure how to express feeling so they lash out at whomever is in the way. Liam is not like this with anybody but us. He knows that he cannot get away with acting that way toward friends but he knows that he can with us. I have not found a good way of dealing with his outbursts that consistently works. Trial and error I guess. Each kid is different.

This last year was a bit rough for me physically. I have never felt more tired and been less active than I was in 2014. I probably made it to the gym less than 15 times the entire year. There was a time when it was easy for me to get to the gym 6 days a week and spent about 2 hours there each day. I realize what needs to happen to change that, but I have gotten myself into a place of too much demand of my own resources to easily change that. I recognize that this needs to change this year as I cannot continue on the path I am on. Part of what is annoying to me is that I am not an unhealthy person. I don’t eat bad foods and I don’t overeat. I am active compared to most people I know, but for me, it must not be enough.

I have found that I am on a path that I did not intend on heading down. I don’t want to sound like I am complaining as I really love my life and have absolutely nothing to complain about. What has happened is that I have driven myself to a place that was not where I originally had intended on being.

When I was in my early 20’s, I was working a lot. I knew that what I was doing was not sustainable and that I would need to change if I wanted to be healthy and have a family one day. I made those changes by closing off a business I had started and began freelancing as a website and graphic designer. My time was instantly more manageable and I had much more control over everything. Fast forward ten years and I have wound up in a similar situation as I was before. I am not overworking and I almost never work on the weekends but it is not the level of freedom I wanted and was working to create for myself. As we get older, we get more responsibilities but some of those are not necessary. I worked from home for six years and only got an office because we needed the extra room for our growing family. With those added expenses I took on more clients because I wanted to make sure I was able to cover the increase in overhead. As I brought on more clients I needed to hire employees. Then I needed more space so overhead went even higher. There is nothing wrong with all of this as this is part of growing a business into something successful. The issue is that it has not brought me the freedom I originally wanted. I am achieving a lot more than I could be on my own, but it has not resulted in the level of freedom I desire.

Some people want to build a business to make money, I want to build a business to give me more freedom. Freedom to me is being able to drop everything and hang out with my family or be there for them when they need me. Freedom is the ability to attend all of my children’s school functions. Freedom is being able to take off anytime I want to take my family to the coast. For the most part, I do have those freedoms, but I am still not where I want to be. Freedom does cost money. To be able to have a flexible schedule, you have to be able to afford to take that time off.

I do have much more freedom than most. We have vacationed a couple of times each year as a family. I have been able to be there for my wife before, during and after each of our children have been born. My oldest and my wife have had some extended hospital stays over the last few years and I was able to drop everything to be there for them. The business I have built has allowed me that kind of freedom.

I am starting to feel like it sounds like I am complaining about my life. This is not the case as I am blessed far beyond what I deserve. What I am not, is content. Typing that last sentence kind of makes me sad but at the same time optimistic. I know that I am not the kind of person who could ever be completely content, but I am at the point where I would like a season of contentment. My life is constantly in R&D (research and development) but lately I have not been able to spend as much time in R&D mode as I would like. I like trying new things so I can see what works and what doesn’t. I always want to know what will work best. I am not happy until I know the best way to accomplish a task. I have also not been able to cultivate relationships with my friends for several years and that is starting to wear on me. We need community and I don’t really have that on a personal level.

It’s not going to be comfortable, but there will be changes this year. I hate the fact that I am talking about it and even going as far as typing it out on January 1, but it is what it is. I have thought about it every day of last year and not much changed. It is too easy to get into a rut and just let the days pass by while you continuously tell yourself that you will start that tomorrow. My family gets my full attention and my clients do as well. Its time for me to find a way to continue to be available to those who need me while making sure there is enough energy left for myself.

With all of that said, here is the thing I need to keep reminding myself: It’s not about me. It really is not about me. Its about what I find important and where my priorities are. When you have those in line, it is much easier to be where you want to be. The hard thing is that when you have more priorities than you used to, it gets harder to figure out how to keep them all at the top. My family is my most important earthly possession. It is important to me that my wife is happy and that she feels secure. It is important to me that my kids are happy and that my wife is able to stay home with them rather than have to work. I would sacrifice just about everything to keep my wife home with my kids, that is more important than possessions or any kind of freedom I could desire for myself. I don’t think that many people get that, and the only one who suffers is the child.

So where does that leave me? Well, it leaves me tired and sometimes frustrated, but I need to see past that. Last year was a lot about giving into that tiredness and allowing myself to feel like there was not enough time for myself. This year, I will make an effort to assure I fix the things that have been bothering me. No more excuses. Its 2015, which is the year the movie “Back to the Future” gave us a glimpse into what the future would be like. We might not have Hoverboards and we definitely don’t dress like Biff and his crew did, but we are living in exciting times.

With all that said, I’m going to go peek in on my precious sleeping children which erases all memories of the frustrations of the day.

Parting words from Biff Tannen:

So, why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here?

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Our Trip to the Children’s Museum of Stockton

We have these friends of ours who also have two young boys close to the age of our two boys. We planned this family play date to the Children’s Museum of Stockton and had such a great time. It’s an old museum filled with basic every day life stuff that little kids can experience first hand. For example, there are decommissioned emergency vehicles, a small scale grocery store, recycling center, post office and so much more. You can climb in the ambulance, police car, firetruck and explore to your hearts content. It’s basically a playground filled with stuff we typically tell our kids not to touch. Today was a very rainy day so it was perfect that we would get to spend it indoors exploring with our little ones. The four of us with our four kids walked around each exhibit and let our kids try things out on their own. It was also a lot of fun to help them with things if they were confused or did not know what something was for. Kids are amazing. If you let them do their own thing, they will figure it out. Their little minds are fascinating.

Of course I had a camera with me. I was playing with my new Canon EOS-M camera which is Canon’s first mirrorless camera. It took some getting used to. I only had a 22mm fixed lens with me and the camera does not have a built in flash, so I had to get used to the touch interface for adjusting camera settings when I am very used to buttons and knobs. Below are some of the photos I took from today.

If you are in or near Stockton, CA and have kids under the age of 10. I highly recommend you take them. The cost was $5 per person over the age of 2, so Cohen got in free.

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I Have a Two Year Old

Today is a cool day. My oldest boy Liam turned two. The last two years has been pretty amazing and quite a challenge. Liam had a rough trip into this world with a some what traumatic delivery. Everything was fine after that until he broke his leg earlier this year. All of that aside, he is one amazing little boy. I really have no idea how I got so lucky. I guess I figured that after marrying the best possible woman for me in this world that my luck would have ran out. Now I have two fantastic boys and I am the most content person on earth. Liam has bounced back from the broken leg like I could have never imagined. It’s pretty crazy how kids are through situations like this. I grew so much as a person and as a father through that situation.

Lately I have been thinking about the fact that I am a husband and a father of two and that I have a home, two cars, health insurance, a gym membership and a business. Growing up I used to sit with my family at dinner and wonder if I would ever be able to afford to take my family out to dinner. The concept seemed so out of reach. I used to wonder where the money I had went. Priorities change and the way we spend money changes.

Aside from all of the self reflection over the past couple of days, I have enjoyed celebrating my son’s existence with him. I enjoy telling him stories about when he was born and about memorable moments I have with him. I enjoy sitting on the couch with him under my arm while we read a book. I can not wait until he is old enough to go on short adventures with me. I want nothing more than to show my boys this amazing world God created for us.

If you ask Liam how old he is, he will tell you. “Two, Dada!” His little vocabulary is growing by the minute. Watching him grow is the most amazing experience I have had yet.

We had a small family birthday party for his this last weekend, which was a lot of fun. Here are a couple of photos from his birthday.

Liam
Excitement over his new Bubble Lawnmower.

Liam
Digging into a Birthday Bag.

Liam
Pushing his new Bubble Mower.

Liam
Blowing out the candle on his cake.

Liam
Coming after me with his new battery powered squirt gun.

Liam
Serious business with his squirt gun.