June 12, 2012

They Say It’s Your Birthday

Seven years.

I can’t believe it’s been seven years.  It seems like I’ve always known you.  The sound of your laughs, the way you speak, the smell of your skin during a goodnight kiss.  All of this is you and before there was you doesn’t even resonate with me anymore.

I am incredibly proud of both of you.  Swee’Pea, you really hit your stride this year in school.  You read at almost a sixth grade level and, socially, you blossomed into someone who makes good friends.  Monk, you loved first grade.  Your teacher was the perfect teacher for you and you soaked up school.  Your math and analytical skills are amazing and your love of Junie B. Jones is unmatched.

But I can’t believe it’s been seven years.  Just yesterday, you were snuggling in my arms.  Just yesterday, I was watching you take your first steps.  Just yesterday, you were clinging to my legs on your first day of preschool.  Just yesterday, you weren’t seven.

And now you are.  You are the most wonderful seven-year-olds the world has ever seen. You radiate joy and revel in the world around you.  You believe in magic.  You believe in fairies and Santa and the Easter bunny too.  I hope, in some way, you will always continue to believe what precocious little seven-year-olds believe.

But I also hope that you’ll slow this ride down just a bit.  Seven years.  It seems like yesterday.

Seven Years Old
Happy Birthday to my beautiful kids

November 5, 2010

One Day

Dear Little Ones,

One day you will spend too much time worrying about what others think.
Stop. As Dr. Seuss, one of the greatest authors of our time, so eloquently stated, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

You owe it to yourself to be you. Only then can you achieve your fullest potential. Living a life that you feel others want you to live only keeps you boxed in.

One day you will not do something you really want to do because of an irrational anxiety.
Some call it fear, but it’s really anxiety. Most of the time, those anxieties that manifest themselves as negative voices in our head are irrational and will never come to fruition. They are there to keep you from achieving your goals or fulfilling your dreams. Don’t let the voices win.

All the excuses running through your head that tell you that you can’t do what you really want to do are just that: excuses. If you want to be the person you envision yourself being, you have to look the anxiety in the eye and laugh. And then be the amazing person you want to be.

I want you to learn what took me so long to finally grasp. The gifts you have locked inside need to come out to be shared and enjoyed by others. Those who you imagine would react negatively to you being the awesome person you want to be most likely will love the amazing person you are even more. Don’t hold back. The world needs more people who embrace life and accept who they are.

I love you and I know you can be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do. And I’ll be there whenever you need some help.


August 16, 2009

When Elvis Left the Building

Thirty-two years ago. A lifetime. But not even a lifetime. Thirty-two years ago today my father died. He left behind a young wife and two young sons and a lifetime of “what ifs.”

And thirty-two years ago, my mother had the presence of mind to write down the details in my brother’s baby book. It reads:

“Aug. 16, 1977 Benjamins and Matt’s daddy died tonight at about 7:30 p.m. He had bought a 1942 dump truck. He was going to start his own hauling business to make extra money for his family. He picked up the truck about 5:30 p.m. at Rancho Lynn in Corralitos. He drove it back to Aromas and took it up to Seely Ave to have Rick and Pam Fischer look at it. He knew the breaks were bad. But he thought he could make it in 1st gear down their driveway. Well he couldn’t. He tried to jump out and I’m not sure what caused his death. He died enroute to the hospital. Elvis Presley died the same day. I loved him. Sept. 1st would have been our 9th anniversary.”

Since this is my de-facto baby book, I wanted to write to my own children about this significant event in my life.

Dear Swee’Pea and TheMonk,

This week, for some interesting reason, you began asking me about my father. Especially you, Monk, and I could tell that the questions were being asked for more than general knowledge. You asked how he died. You asked why he died. You asked what happened to him after he died. And in the back of your mind, as you digested my answers (which I tried to do in an honest, yet gentle, way), I could tell that what you were really asking was, “Daddy, are you going to die?”

And that, my son, is my greatest fear. You are too young to explain how my entire life has been shaped by my father dying. You are too young to understand that the reason I am so devoted to you and your sister is that I want every. moment. to. count. I want you to know that, even if I were to die tomorrow, being your Daddy is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have written about this topic a few times and once even wrote a letter to my own father but when it comes to explaining death and looking into your eyes and seeing the confusion and the fear that you won’t be with me anymore makes my heart ache for you… and for me.

And as I told you this week, yes, I will die. But my fervent hope is that I will die someday in the future when you are confident enough to travel on this journey without needing the guidance of your father. I don’t want you, Monkey, to grow up wondering what it means to be a man. I don’t want you growing up having to figure out how to hold a hammer or how to shave your face or how to ask a girl out on a date. And, Swee’Pea, I don’t want you growing up wanting something from a man and searching in vain because you didn’t get it from me. I pray that by the time I die you will both miss me but not really need me.

I want to tell you how much I love you. I want to tell you that when I look down at your face as you are looking up at mine, I see your future and how very much I want to be a part of that. And I think of my own father and how much he missed and I am sad for him while my own heart aches from a hurt that never really goes away. I am reminded that my father wasn’t there to see my first hit in baseball. He wasn’t there to hear about my first crush. He wasn’t the one to teach me to drive or celebrate my running victories. He wasn’t there to see me graduate from high school or college or graduate school. He wasn’t there to see me get married or to see your beautiful faces for the first time. He missed so, so much. And my worst fear in the world is that I will miss those too.

And as tears stream down my face as I type this and the words are blurred as they appear on my screen, all I can tell myself, and tell you, is that I will do my best to be here for you. I will do everything I can to make sure that I wake up to be with you and share your life with you and guide you in ways that I never had. I want to teach you the joy of love and the comfort of humor and the mystery of the infield fly rule. I want to watch over you and help you grow into confident adults who know their father loves them and is their biggest fan. I want that for you. And I want that for me.

Death is the one certainty of life, my little ones. We don’t know when we will go and that makes it so much more important to embrace each day as the gift it is. I try not to forget that. It is why I am an optimist. It is why I will dance with you when you take the lead and it is why I probably say yes too often and no not enough. But it’s also why I say no when I really want to say yes and I say yes when I really want to say no. I want you to have what I lost thirty-two years ago today. I want you to have the comfort of knowing your father and knowing that he will love you and cherish you forever.


My brother and I both wrote on this topic today. Please read his post as well.

May 30, 2009

Retirement Options

Dear Swee’Pea and TheMonk,

You might not be aware of this right now, but we’re in a recession. The economy has taken a dive and families all over the country have taken a hit in the wallet. We’re no different. Our house is worth much, much less than when we bought it and retirement funds have been slashed as well.

As I have been eying our options, I have come to the conclusion that you two are the single biggest factor in how your mother and I live our golden years. No pressure but every life decision you make will directly impact the quality of life we will have. In case you needed some clarification on how this works, I have taken the liberty of creating some scenarios for you so that you can better understand the connection between your mother and father’s happiness and your own future.

Married vs. Single
If you stay single I upgrade to a BMW (and save a little “just in case” there’s a future wedding)
If you decide to elope, I upgrade to a porsche within the week.
If, however, you have a real wedding, I downgrade to a unicycle bought off Craigslist from an unemployed circus clown.

Prestigious University vs. School of Hard Knocks
If you don’t go to college, your mother and I take your college fund and travel the French Riviera for weeks on end dining on escargot, caviar and lobster.
If, however, you do go to college, we travel as far as the local Taco Bell, dining on 7-layer burritos before rushing back to the house in gastrointestinal distress while arguing who gets to use the “good” bathroom.
Of course, if you don’t go to college you’ll have other worries – like where you’ll live.

Fame & Fortune vs. Do-Gooder
If you become famous for something other than appearing naked in a magazine, leading to untold riches, your parents will be moving to a Hawaiian estate overlooking the ocean. You will pay for it. It’s in the contract you signed when you were three. I know it’s in crayon but it’s still enforceable in a court of law.
If, however, you follow your old man into the non-profit world, your parents will be renting out your old rooms to some meth-smoking college students who steal our identity and spend your inheritance on pay-per-view porn and prostitutes.

Near vs. Far
If you marry your high school sweetheart, live nearby and come visit us periodically, you can make sure we’re okay on a regular basis and we’ll be able to live in peace knowing loved ones will be there for us in our times of need.
If, however, you find love, move away, have kids and never come back except for the odd holiday or high school reunion, one day you will realize you haven’t heard from us in a while and authorities will subsequently find our mummified bodies. I will be sitting in front of the TV, remote in had, with Food Network still on. Your mother will be found staring forlornly at the phone that never, ever rang.

I’m still in the process of creating Plan B for retirement. So far I have come up with a handful of ideas but they all include webcams and farm animals and I don’t think your mother is going to sign off on any of these ideas. So, as you see, your decisions are what really will make or break the latter years of our lives.

Choose wisely.

September 29, 2008

Seeking enlightenment

Dear Swee’Pea and TheMonk,

One of the things that most surprises me about being your father is how much I have learned from you both. As your father I thought it was my responsibility to teach you but, rather, you have often taught me about life. You have reminded me of the special magic that is created when sharing something with someone you love. You have reminded me that power of laughter and the wonder that exists at the eye level of a toddler. You have reminded me how discovering new things is still a wonder – even when you’re old and jaded like me. Yes, you have taught me so much.

But I gotta tell you. For all that you have taught me, my little ones, you absolutely suck at “hide and seek.”

Tonight we played our first all out “hide and seek” game and while I don’t like to brag, I kicked your little toddler butts. And while you may have taught me so much in the last few years, your old man proved tonight that he can still teach you a thing or two.

Like when you ask me to count and then stand by giggling? Hello?! I can totally hear you!

Or when you go hide and scream to each other where you think you should hide? I can STILL hear you!

Hiding under the covers is a great idea and I totally give you credit for that, but for it to work you have to lie still. Flopping around like a fish out of water is kind of a giveaway.

Oh, and just because you can’t see me? Doesn’t mean that I can’t see you. Hiding your head under the pillows with your little booty poking out, waving back and forth as you squirm in anticipation, is not going to cut it. I may be dumb but I’m not blind.

And finally, when you run through the house screaming, “DADDY! WHERE ARE YOU?!!!” because you can’t find me hiding behind the shower curtain in your bathroom, don’t expect me to just shout out, “Here I am!” No, you found out the hard way that I will scare the bejeebus out of you when you least expect it. It’s for your own good, really.

So, you might teach me a thing or two about life but every now and then I get to teach you a thing or two as well.

You learned tonight that if you want to beat Daddy at a game of hide and seek, you better bring your “A” game.

Just call me The Bus Driver. Because I took you to school.


November 25, 2007


Dear Little Ones,

The Holiday season has arrived. It’s a nice time of the year to take a step back and reflect. As I remove myself from the daily motions, I find myself focusing on the relationship I have built with you.

A few nights ago, after we put you to bed, your mother and I watched a movie called Big Fish. The movie is about a father who tells fabulous stories – often making it difficult to find where the truth ended and fantasy began. The movie is also about a relationship between that father and his only son. It is up and down. They go years without speaking. And then the son finds the truth and all he was looking for – but not what he was expecting.

The point I am trying to make here is that I try so very hard to be that special person in your life. I do it because, as you know, my own father died when I was just six. I can honestly say, that every time I leave you to go to work or anywhere without you, I wonder if this will be the last time I say goodbye. It is part of who I am, good or bad, and I am driven to live each day with you as if it could be my last.

That is why I’ll jump on cushions with you rather than watch the big football game. That’s why I pack so much fun into the 40 minutes of time we have to spend together when I get home from work. That is why I tell you that I love you every chance I get. I may not be here tomorrow and that sucks. But the thought of that possibility makes me a want to be here for you now.

Now, I know someday that you won’t be as quick to dance the “Chicken Dance” with me on a Thanksgiving day or get in fights with the Tickle Monster. Someday you’ll have friends and then a family of your own to compete with my time. Someday, the idea of dancing in the streets will probably embarrass you but I hope that you know that the feeling behind what we do together will never change. I love you with all of my heart.

I love you more than there are stars in the sky. I love you more than there are grains of sand along the shore. I love you more than you, my little ones, will ever, ever know. And whether I am here in person or just an imprint on the fabric of your souls, I hope that I have made a difference in your life.

You, along with your mother, are the center of my universe. The stories that I tell, the joy that I bring to each of you, the love that we share in the craziest of moments build a relationship between us – a bond that, I hope and pray, will never ever be broken. Even when I have gone.

I love you, my little ones. For now… and for always.


November 7, 2007

Dear Little Ones,

There are a couple of things you need to know before I get to the point of this post. First, I love music. But I’m not a music snob. I don’t care if it’s manufactured by the music industry to sell a million albums, if I like it I’ll listen to it. Second, I love songs that give me a visceral response – taking me to a time or place or emotion. This power to make us feel really speaks to the power of music. The songs that I tend to gravitate to are songs that make me feel good.

Another thing I want you to know is that I often neglect to tell you how wonderful your mother is. Too often we get caught up in the day and the day turns into a few days and suddenly those few days have turned into weeks and in that time I haven’t truly expressed how much your mother loves you and how much I love your mother. You see, this blog that you someday will read as an adult is meant to chronicle your lives. I want you to know how much I love being your father but I also want you to know how much I love your mother.

And this is the reason for this post. You see, your mother and I have known each other for ten years. Before we had you we had plenty of time to get to know each other and know what kind of parents we wanted to be. Now that you’re along, I know that waiting to have you so that we could work on loving each other first was an important part of the process. Because we know how to love each other unconditionally, we can now share that love with you.

The great thing about being married to your mother is that I still love looking at her. I’ll watch her when she doesn’t know I’m watching and I am still awed by her beauty. And the great thing about your mother is that her beauty is more than skin deep. She is such a good person – always wanting what is right, always worried about the stray cat or the injustices of the world. She has a good heart and it makes me happy that you will someday embody that kindness in your own heart.

What does this all have to do about music? Well, recently a new artist named Colbie Caillat released a song called Bubbly. It’s a soft, easygoing song that instantly relaxes me. But it’s the lyrics that draw me to this song. You see, it’s all about the feelings one gets when you’re in love with someone – the way I’m in love with your mother.

And since music is timeless, I want to give you this song so that you can listen to it when your mother and I are long gone and know that your father felt this way about your mother. And I pray that you too, someday, will feel this way about someone you can call a soul mate.

Love Daddy.

To listen to a great unplugged version, go to VH1′s website here and scroll down to play the unplugged Bubbly video.

April 19, 2007

A lesson for my children

To my son and daughter,

This week, my little ones, a very angry man took the lives of 32 innocent young men and women at a university in Virginia. I wish that I could explain why or how something like this could happen but when things like this happen, it’s difficult to pinpoint a reason. Even saying it’s “God’s plan” seems hollow.

What I do know is that as I read about the unfulfilled promise of so many, all I could think about was you. It is times like this that push home the stark reality that I will not always be around to protect you from all the bad, angry people of this world. As hard as I pray and as tightly as I hold on, I know deep down that I cannot be there for you all of the time.

As I read about this tragedy I think of the parents of these victims and how they must feel. How they must feel knowing they will never feel the embrace of their only son or the beautiful smile of their youngest daughter. I cannot imagine the despair and anguish these parents are feeling but I do know that were something to happen to you, life as I know it would end.

As you grow and become more aware of your surroundings my hope is that I can prepare you on how to deal with the bad, angry people you may encounter in your life. I hope to teach you to turn the other cheek when accosted. I hope to teach you that being alive tomorrow is more important than being arrogant today. I hope to teach you to pick your friends wisely.

But none of those lessons would have saved these 32 beautiful people whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I want you to know something now – and you will learn more about this as you get older, I’m sure. But I feel very strongly that guns are not the answer to a safer society. While I am a proud, patriotic American who understands why our forefathers insisted on the right to bear arms in our constitution, I feel that this “right” has turned very, very wrong.

It is because of the right to bear arms that I worry about you, Monk, being shot and killed by a gang member because you happened to be wearing the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood as happens three or four times a year near where I work. It is because of our right to bear arms that I worry, Swee’Pea, that you could be assaulted in ways no Daddy wants to imagine happening to his daughter.

The old adage is that guns don’t kill people – people kill people. This is a gross simplization of a very complex problem that has been growing for generations. All I know is that this week 32 innocent people died because a crazy person was able to buy a gun in the same way I order flowers for your mother.

Because of this, I want you to understand the impact that guns have on people’s lives. Because of this impact you will never have a toy gun to play with. You will never see me holding a gun. And while there are many good, honest people out there who strongly disagree with me on the subject of gun ownership, I think the risk to our society far outweighs the good.

Anyway, tonight I say a prayer for the families of those whose lives were tragically lost. I also say a prayer for you, my little ones, that you be safe when you are far beyond your father’s grasp. I pray that you never know the horror of what these people had to endure and I pray that the America that your children live in will be a safer and more tolerant place than it is today.

I love you.


June 22, 2006

Good to the last drop

Dear TheMonk and Bri,

Today marks a large milestone in your evolution from helpless little beings to growing little boy and girl. Today, little ones, you had your last nursing session. Now, truth be told, Swee’Pea you pretty much gave up nursing a couple of weeks ago, just as Mommy was beginning to wean. But we’ve been lying you down next to Mommy while TheMonk fed so Mommy could savor the bonding moments you have shared since the beginning.

Ah, the beginning. You probably don’t remember this but you didn’t feed very well when you were first born. We had to feed you with a syringe and a small tube we stuck into your mouth. This, to put it mildly, sucked (no pun intended). After consulting with a Lactation Consultant, we began to make some headway and your mother lead the charge in getting you to breast feed.

In fact, I’m not exagerating one bit when I tell you that you have the best Mommy in the world. If you only knew what that woman has gone through while nursing two babies at once. For the first several months of your life, just about every feeding you had was through your Mommy. Six to eight times a day you would be placed on the ever-present twin nursing pillow and Mommy would get you to eat. Sometimes, sessions would last over one hour – just to make sure you got enough. As you can imagine, having ravenous little ones sucking constantly, is bound to cause some problems. Your mother has endured pain so bad that I’m pretty sure tears were involved. Yet she continued. Even when she went back to work, she would feed you before work, pump twice while at work and then feed you two more times before you went to bed for the evening. Your mother rocks.

Not that this whole thing has been an awful experience. On the contrary, your mother has come to love the time she gets to spend with you – just the two of you (We learned early on that I was too much of a distraction so I couldn’t be in the room when you fed). Over the past year I’ve often peeked into the room where you feed with Mommy to see you playing “Patty Cake” or “Where’s Mommy’s nose?” Your mother’s smile as she interacted with you is something I’ve never seen anywhere else. This was her moment to be with you and she cherished it – even while enduring so much.

So, the year has come and gone. While your mother will certainly miss some of that quiet two-on-one time, we are also looking forward to having more flexibility to do more with you guys outside of the house. We’re no longer bound to a nursing schedule and we’ll take advantage of that. Your mother will also be able to do some things for her now – going for a run, going out with friends after work, or just going shopping at night while Daddy feeds you. Whatever she decides to do, after all she’s done this past year, she deserves it.

So don’t forget how much your mother loves you and how much she has done for you. Because if she can nurse twins for over a year, just for the benefit of you two, she’d do anything for you.

April 8, 2006

A daddy’s concern

To my little ones,

I woke up today, as always, with you on my mind – thinking of another day with both of you in my life. What a wonderful way to start the day. In the 10 months you have been in my life, I cannot imagine my life without you.

That is why, when I opened today’s newspaper and I read a story about a vivacious, bright and energetic 15-year-old boy who was hit and killed by a train as he tried to cross the tracks, I wept. I wept for the boy whose potential will never blossom. I wept for his parents who must be beside themselves with grief. And I wept for you, my little ones, knowing that someday you will venture out into this world without my watchful eye.

Someday, I will have to trust you to make good decisions – even when those around you may encourage you to make the wrong ones. In the coming years I will do everything I can to teach you the difference between right and wrong. I will try and teach you to make the good but often more difficult choice over the wrong, and maybe more popular ones.

But ultimately the decision will be yours. I want you to know how important you are to me. I want you to know that when you are out of my sight I worry about you. Not because I don’t trust you, but because I know I can’t be there to protect you. You are my shining stars. My guiding light and I want you to live a long and successful life. My body aches for that to happen. My mind worries that it might not.

So, when you are 15 or 13 or 25 or 55, please remember that the decisions you make each and every moment can have enormous consequences. Please, make the right choice, little ones. Today, I weep for a boy I never knew. I can’t imagine there being enough tears in the world were something to happen to you.


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