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Making Time For Experiences

Prioritize Your Children over Work

Growing into an adult I realized that it was the experiences I remembered from my childhood. I remember some of the material aspects of my childhood, but the experiences outweigh that by far. I remember racing go-karts, going to the park with my brothers and Mom, I remember going on trips with my grandparents. These were some of the experiences that I can vividly recall.

What I don’t remember is the specific brand of clothing I wore when I was in kindergarten. I don’t remember the kind of shoes I had on. I don’t remember what kind of car my Mom drove at that time, though I do remember a few of our cars from childhood, and it was the experiences in those cars that I remember. I don’t remember what was considered cool at the time for my Mom to wear. I didn’t know what fashion was. I don’t remember if the restaurants we ate at were the popular spots or not. I don’t even remember too many of the toys I had, though I do remember some of them and they were the toys that I could be creative with.

As a parent, I have found that it is all too easy to bury my kids in toys and stuff to keep them busy. Sports are no longer leisure activities, they consume lives. People are all too ready to commit themselves and their kids to all the things. While there is nothing wrong with toys and sports, it has never been easier to take it to a level that could be considered an unhealthy obsession. That obsession is usually more about the parent than it is the child.

With that said, it was obvious to me that the experiences I have had in life were more important to me than the things. I know that there is nothing wrong with acquiring things. I have more things than I need. I could do with fewer things. However, I have always wanted to make sure that things don’t get in the way of making time for experiences.

Through observation, I have found that many people do not share my take. They seem to be working extremely hard during the childhood years of their children where experiences matter most. They are focused on the future while at the same time wasting the now. The now is most important to me because if I focus on the now, the future will work itself out.

I will not trade a few extra dollars for the childhood of my children. There is no value in that. I can make extra dollars later. At the same time, I do recognize that I want to have some level of achievement of my own during the younger years of my children. I look at every opportunity and say no to what would not fit into the lifestyle I am trying to have for my family.

Hill Family Color Factory

We recently visited The Color Factory in San Francisco. This popup museum featured color specific rooms with different experiences in each room. It was a lot of fun and my kids loved it. We spent about almost two hours going through each color room playing, laughing, and taking a few photos. It was an experience my kids will remember. After that, we had dinner and stayed at a hotel in Sausalito, which is just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. My wife and I had stayed there before so we knew it would be a fun experience for the kids as well.

It was a challenge to get tickets to The Color Factory. It was very popular and only sold a certain amount of tickets to assure it was not overcrowded. It was like trying to get an iPhone on launch day. I was waiting on my computer with the order page open just waiting for the moment. I almost missed it they sold so fast.

Confetti Party Color Factory

In 2015, we took a road trip up the coast of the US stopping off at different destinations every day. It took us a little over a week to make it up to Seattle Washington. We stayed in hotels each night at a different location and visited interesting spots along the way. Some of the highlights included Fern Canyon off the coast of Northern California, a Dinosaur Attraction in Oregon, and several other roadside attractions that will forever be fun memories to remember with my kids. I also filmed our experiences which we revisit to keep those memories fresh.

I don’t do everything right and sometimes can’t. I have had to miss a few of my kids’ school things, though I have made the majority of them. I occasionally have to travel for work. I often leave for work before they leave for school. I recognize that we can’t be perfect and attend everything, but we can try.

The purpose of this post is to remind parents that the childhood their children experience is important. We all want to provide our children with a better life than we had but please don’t put it off. I often hear people say that once they make a certain amount of money that they will be able to vacation more and spend more time with their kids. The problem is the pursuit never ends and before you know it, your kids are grown up and don’t want to spend time with you. Your kids will grow up recognizing that you traded time with them for money, or something else. I want a healthy balance there. I want my kids to see that I work hard but that I also build into my work-life enough time to spend experiencing life with them whether that be playing in the front yard or taking them to The Color Factory. My kids need to know that I prioritized them in my life. People complain about the selfishness of the Millennial Generation, but those kids had to learn from someone.

Prioritize time with your children. Give them your attention, especially if both parents in the household work. Give them experiences over toys. Rather than new iPads for Christmas, take the family on a trip. Invest in your children, rather than investing in distractions so you can keep your kids busy.

I know I have written before on spending time with kids, but it’s so important. There is enough time in the day for our kids and a healthy level of personal achievement. If you are not able to find that, I would suggest you take a look at what is in your life and how you could revise it.

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Things I’m Into (July 2017)

jerad-emerson

It’s been a hot month in Modesto, CA so we decided to retreat to the mountains to escape the heat. We tent camped a few weeks ago for six nights at beautiful Lake Alpine. Our trip started out a bit rough having woke up to a burglarized trailer that contained all of our camping gear. You can’t let stuff like that get you down.

Love this place.

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This is not a new realization, but I don’t get to spend enough time with my wife. My absolute favorite thing from this month was a hike that we went on together while camping. My in-laws took the kids for the morning so my wife and I could go on a hike. Though the hike was longer (about 8 miles) and steeper (about 1500 ft) than I would have liked, it was the best time we have had in a while. My body does not like elevation nor does it like climbing things (I’m old), but after a while, all I could do was enjoy our conversation and the exploring we were doing together. I miss exploring with my wife.

Quote of the Month

As I get older I realize that habits are hard to change. Whether it is breaking bad habits or trying to form new ones, it takes a lot more effort to repeatedly do something than it used to. This year has brought out some of those habits that need to go and also led me to realize that I have a few good habits that have worked to my advantage over the years.

4th of July

This is my favorite holiday! It’s not the fireworks or even the BBQ, it’s my love for the country I live in. This country is one of the few places in the world where there is limitless opportunity. It truly is a blessing to be here.

Happy 4th y’all.

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Camping

As I mentioned before, we went camping for six nights. It was a lot of fun and I have realized that there are a few things that we just can’t go without on camping trips.

The Zipline was a huge hit at the campsite. Kids have to check it out and before you know it, half the campground is hanging out. My kids enjoyed zip lining with new friends.

Put in a zip line in our camping site. One of the few things that didn't get stolen.

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Last year we purchased a Standing Room Tent which mounts inside of a 10’x10′ canopy. We already had a canopy so it made sense to give one of these a try. It’s nice to be able to stand up inside of the tent. It also has big windows which let in a lot of air on warmer days. It is very easy to set up and it rolls up like a sleeping bag to store. We have had a couple of other tents and this one has been our favorite so far.

It’s Still Summer!

Last month I confessed to feeling like I was in “Summer Mode.” Well, I still feel it, but it’s coming to a close. Next month school will start back up so I feel that crunch to get a few more things in with the kids before schedules are more locked down. All three of my kids will be in school this year. Hopefully, we will have a chance to get a short trip or two in before school starts back mid-August.

Cast Covers

Sounds weird, but a cast cover made life a lot easier this last month. My daughter fractured her left arm and has been in a cast since the beginning of this month. She only has a week left but we have not let a cast slow her down. This cast cover that was recommended to us has kept her cast dry through dozens of swim sessions and through the entire week we were at the lake. She swam in the lake, paddle boarded with my wife and even jumped off some rocks into the water and the cast never got wet. This thing was a life saver.

Check it out: DryPro Waterproof Full Arm Cast Cover

Cast isn’t going to slow her down. #bucklefracture #nbd

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Blade of the Month
Check it out on Amazon: Tops Knives El Chete

The El Chete is the only way to roll into the camp ground. This monster can handle anything you swing it at.

Time to cut stuff.

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Apps

Lightroom Mobile – I have been using Lightroom Mobile which is a simplified version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom which is a popular photo editing application for computers. Adobe recently added a camera within the app that captures RAW quality images in the Adobe DNG format. This is excellent because capturing images in RAW format provides more detail for photo editing apps to work with. Newer smartphones are now allowing images to be captures in a RAW format but being able to capture a photo in DNG format right in Lightroom Mobile is pretty fantastic. I plan to do a video on this soon over on photography education site Ditch Auto.

Newton Mail – This app is the best email client for smartphones. It is cross platform so when I switch between Android or iPhone I simply download and log into Newton Mail and everything is there. My email accounts are either Gmail or G Suite email accounts, but I like what Newton Mail has to offer over the basic Gmail app or the Mail apps that come on most smartphones.

Diaro – I have been trying to journal more. I mentioned this last month. I have tried journaling with a physical journal, but I hate carrying extra stuff with me. I also find it a pain to go through old entries to find something I was writing about. The Diaro app allows me to search old entries and add tags to entries so I can easier find journal entries on certain subjects. I paid for a Diaro Pro account, but you can use the app for free.

Technology

The Sony a9 is still my main camera. I mentioned last month that I got it right when it came out, but was unsure about it. I think it is the most innovative camera to come out this year. I will be making a new video for Ditch Auto soon talking about this camera.

Drones – I’ll be the first to admit that I have too many drones. My first drone was actually a pretty expensive one. I wanted a drone with a good camera on it but I quickly realized that it was not a very practical drone for flying for fun. I have used my technology YouTube channel as an excuse to get a couple of drones but I have narrowed it down to the Phantom 4 Pro being my favorite of them all. The Inspire 2 is a much better drone, but it’s not very practical. Unless you carry it in a huge case, it takes a while to set up. The Phantom 4 Pro can fit in a backpack and is ready to fly in under a minute. I prefer the Phantom 4 Pro over the Mavic Pro because the camera on the Phantom is fantastic and it has stronger motors which can deal with a small breeze. It does not take much for the Mavic to get knocked around. I will talk more in-depth about this on a new YouTube channel I am launching next month specific to drones.

Phantom 4 Pro | Mavic Pro | Inspire 2 | DJI Spark

Reading

Never Split the Difference – Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It: I have never liked the idea of being a hard and fast negotiator, but I have come to understand that knowing negotiation tools to use in different situations helps me understand my own needs and the needs of the other person. I feel that every situation should have a good outcome for all parties involved but there are some situations where you need to negotiate on your own behalf.

The Opposite of Worry – The Playful Parenting Approach to Childhood Anxieties and Fears: Over the years I have allowed myself to become a worrier of things. I never used to be, but add in marriage, children, and employees, and I have the worry. I worry about providing for everybody and a variety of other things. There are issues there that I am working through. I want to make sure that my children grow up with a healthy understanding of worry and that means making sure I have a toolkit to go to.

Conclusion

The Any.do reminder worked. To be honest I did not think about writing this post at all this month until the reminder went off. As I get older, I need these reminders because I don’t have the mental bandwidth I used to.

August is back to school month for my kids. All three kids will be in school this year so that should be pretty exciting.

What was one of your favorite things this July? Share it with me in the comment section below.

Blog

Our Stuff Got Stolen But It Was NBD

Our-Camping-Stuff-Got-Stolen

Life is a series of situations unfolding and I believe that the way we react to those situations is what defines our quality of life.

Last Sunday we had planned to load up our food into an already loaded trailer and head off for six days of tent camping. What we found was a cut lock and 80% of our stuff missing.

Now we don’t pack light. I rented a 12-foot trailer and I loaded it with plenty of stuff to keep us busy for the week. Besides clothing and camping basics I had new archery sets for my kids cause we were going to shoot some stuff. We had that mouth spreader card game. Plenty of other things. We were dialed in.

While I was gathering my thoughts and deciding what the plan was going to be, I saw my son sitting on the edge of the trailer looking sad. He had just experienced loss of his material possessions for the first time. He was aware of toys that were already loaded and clothes of his that were now gone. He was bummed out.

As a Dad and someone who as a kid had made some poor decisions of his own, I immediately knew that this was a teaching moment where I could help my kids better understand the emotions they were feeling in this moment. I knew where I could have easily gone with this. It would have been easy to talk bad about the people who robbed us. We could have spent the day calling them names, imagining what kind of people they were, and wondering what they were doing with our stuff. I didn’t allow that to happen. Instead, I explained a few key things to my kids, mainly my boys. My daughter is still a bit young to understand much of what happened. Some of these things I wish I knew when I was younger. I will continue to use this situation to teach my kids about loss, selfishness, and being content. In time, I will disclose my past in regards to dishonesty and theft with my children. It is important to me that they have a better connection to theft than I did as a kid so they can understand it on an emotional level.

Some People Don’t Know Any Better

I explained to my kids that some people steal because they don’t know any better. They didn’t have a good role model in their life that told them that taking things from other people was wrong. Even if they did, they probably had people in their life that thought it was ok. They might have believed that people who live in certain neighborhoods are rich and have more than they need. Taking from them is not a big deal because they can just go buy more stuff. Rich people have insurance and will get paid for the stuff that was stolen so it’s no big deal.

Some people were raised with the understanding that taking from others is ok. They didn’t have a mom or dad that taught them how to respect others and their property. Some people just simply don’t know.

As a child, I was told that stealing from others is wrong, but that was about it. It was never explained to me in a way that would help me understand what was really going on when you took from others. I don’t blame my parents for this, they didn’t know what to do with me and my behavior.

Some People Feel They Don’t Have A Choice

I explained to my kids that some people feel they have no choice but to steal from others. They might have had a bill to pay or needed money to put food in the mouths of their family. Some people choose to steal from others instead of working for an honest living. It’s easy to assume that people are stealing so they can buy drugs. That may be the case, but knowing the real reason is not important. I didn’t want my kids to dwell on the why of what happened.

Stealing is Selfish

Taking something from someone without their permission is one of the highest forms of selfishness. By taking something from someone else you are telling that person and the world that you deserve it more than the other person did. There are many reasons why this kind of selfishness might exist in someone and I didn’t go into that with my kids. I did, however, explain that selfishness is a disease. When we are selfish, we are robbing someone else of experiencing something.

When Someone Steals They Are Making a Choice to Disrespect Someone

I know that when I stole as a child, it was not for money to buy drugs. I didn’t steal to turn that item around for cash. I stole because I wanted something so bad that I was willing to take it from someone else instead of working hard to earn it myself. I am very thankful for the fact that I obviously sucked at it and was caught each time. I quickly learned that taking from others not only disrespects them but it cheated me out of the joy of ownership. I was able to understand this because each time I was forced to make amends.

Stealing is an empty shortcut

People who steal things that they want are taking an empty shortcut. As a young child, if we want something, we grab for it. I often see one of my kids take something from one of the others because they wanted it. It may have been their toy to begin with, or for some reason, they just wanted it in that moment. Regardless, the act of taking the item without using any words is a selfish shortcut that only causes hurt and pain to all parties involved.

As I grew up and started earning money I quickly realized the joy in legitimate ownership. Though I hated letting go of hard earned money, when I bought something with money I had earned, there was a real connection to that item. You don’t get that kind of connection when you take the item from someone else.

It Really Is No Big Deal

We need to protect our assets, but as an adult, I have never been someone that was so attached to their things that when something happened to those things, I would fall apart. I take measures to assure my investments don’t grow legs and walk away, but when they do, I get over it fast. I want my kids to understand that the things of this world are replaceable. What is not often replaceable are experiences and relationships.

Though we had planned to leave around eight that morning to head to our campsite, my wife and I purchased all new items from the store and we were on the road early that afternoon. We were not going to let this stop us from spending time together and from creating memories. I filed a police report online and contact my insurance company, and we left for the lake.

The bottom line is this: I want my kids to grow up understanding that bad things are going to happen in life, but when they do, we have a chance to grow. I am fortunate enough to have learned my lesson quickly as a kid and to have the self-awareness to see a situation like this as a teaching moment. We could have let something like this ruin our week, but we turned it into an opportunity to thrive and give the benefit of the doubt to those who wronged us. It’s easy to be cynical and play the victim card. Doing that gives the situation more power than it deserves.

I decided to write about this not to boast of this parenting moment, but to encourage other parents to look at every situation they go through with their kids as an opportunity to teach their kids something before they have to learn the hard way like I did. As parents, we have a finite amount of time to imprint on our kids. It’s easy to bark orders at our kids and give them short reasons why things are the way they are. When we do that, we are not giving them the information they need to understand and empathize.

Vlog

And we are home!

Glad to be back in Modesto, CA. After 6.5 hours of driving and three stops for food and potty breaks, we made it. Today we drove from Medford, OR to Modesto, CA.

Vlog

On The Road Again

Today starts our three-day-journey turned two-day-journey home. We have had tons of fun, but we are ready to be home and decided it would be best to cut a day off of our travels home and do six hours each day instead of four.

Vlog

We Got Wet!

Our last day at Great Wolf Lodge was a lot of fun. I had some one-on-one time with Liam and we went on the big kid water slides.

Vlog

Seattle Center

We spent our last day in Seattle playing and visiting with friends who live in Seattle. Seattle Center has a lot to offer. We visited the Seattle Children’s Museum, International Fountain and the new climbing structure/playground.

Vlog

Portland Children’s Museum

Portland Children's Museum

Today was fun, but very testing of our parenting abilities. Not sure if our kids are over-stimulated or their daily schedule has been disrupted too many times, but they have been kind of crazy today. The Portland Children’s Museum was fantastic. Tomorrow we leave Portland and head to Seattle.

Vlog

Enchanted Forest

After leaving Salem, OR we spent the first part of the day at Enchanted Forest in Turner, OR. Enchanted Forest was amazing and our kids loved it. Silver Falls would have been amazing if we had the energy to go for a hike. We ended our day in Portland, OR at our hotel swimming and getting to bed at a decent hour.