The Shut In Life

Wow 2020 has come to us with vengeance. This year has brought something I never thought I would see in my life or something that I have only seen on the silver screen. .

COVID-19 has rampaged through the U.S. and the rest of the world and has left a terrible trail of death and carnage in its path. So many of us have been seeking shelter at our homes as our offices are forcing us to work from home or, for some of us, we are on the front lines serving the public and the infected as we all navigate through this pandemic.

We actually had an entire Disney vacation planned for the week of Spring Break and were super excited to head to Florida. Then everything was shut down and we were forced to reschedule our trip for September. We were able to recover our funds and actual reschedule our new trip for cheaper thanks to Disney for giving us our dining plan for free.

So what I been doing since being quarentined at home? Like most of you I have tried new hobbies, caught up on shows, and have added the title of teacher to my resume.

Here is what I have been up to…

I have picked up baking.

Like most of us I have turned to stress baking as a way to deal with all the recent changes and also eat my feelings. I know this is not the most super healthy way to live and is a recipe for disaster but I find it helpful in multiple ways. It is a great way to past the time with my 7 year old and also teach her something new that she may become interested in. It also gives me a chance to master a challenge and try something new at the same time.

I made some homemade chocolate chip cookies about two weeks ago. They were a little flat but eatable. My recent post on the gram was all about my lemon pound cake that I made from scratch. As it did look very good in the picture with all that tasty lemon glaze on it, I must be honest and explain that I left 1 and 1/4 cup of flour out of the recipe by accident and the inside was as dry as the Sahara and we ended up throwing it away.  I am still very happy with how it turned out and I plan on making another one soon… with the correct about of flour in it.

I started air frying everything! 

My wife and I decided to eat healthier a few months back( I know I just said I was baking but stay with me) and we both love fried food on occasion. A coworker of my wife suggested that we get an air fryer and try some of our recipes in it like fried chicken, nuggets for the kids, and cheese sticks. So after looking and looking we finally found one in our budget.

I must say…WHY DID I NOT GET ONE OF THESE SOONER? This appliance is a game changer and I love it! I made fried chicken in it on Easter and it was so crispy and juicy that even my kids ate it and did not complain. This was very much worth every penny and I am excited to make buffalo cauliflower soon in it.

I have become a highly UNQUALIFIED teacher!

Like all parents today, my kids school is closed and my wife and I have had the pleasure of entering the world of home schooling with our 1st grader. It has been both fun and difficult at times. Sometimes I find myself questioning my own intellect and if I really know what I am talking about. There are times where it gets frustrating and I have to walk away and then come back an hour later or I have to say to wait on Mom to come home to help.

It makes you realize that you take your kid’s teacher for granted and all that they do and for the little amount of pay and respect they get. If anything, the take away from this experience is to treat your kid’s teacher with more respect and to be there for them when they need help and be more involved in your kids education. This is something that at least with this school year I have dropped the ball on. Looking forward to changing that once this is all over.

I just hope that my ability to explain fractions to my child did not seriously screw up her future success in academics as I ate most of the example pizza.

One of the cool things about this is that my kids can still do their dance classes  and even a craft class with their friends via Zoom and I am impressed with how easy it is to set up. They made lava lamps out of water bottles yesterday in craft class and they do virtual dance parties and yoga sessions for the kids. I am so thankful for the digital age we live in.

I have watched a lot of TV and movies!

I think I speak for everyone on this when I say that the TV has become by best friend. I recently started binging both new and old shows. I watched the entire first season of Mystic Quest on Apple TV+  in one day and I am one episode away from being done with Home Before Dark. I have also started to rewatch Friends, which is always a fun show to go back to and it never gets old. I was not that young when the show went off the air(I was a senior in high school) so rewatching it lets me understand some jokes I did not pick up on the first time around. I watched IT: Chapter Two a few nights ago and I will say that I should not have waited to watch it at night.

I also downloaded Quibi and have become obsessed with Most Dangerous Game and Murder House Flip. Both are amazing shows and the best part is you can watch them on the go in under 8 minutes. They have a free 90 trial so if you want to try it then now is a great time.

I have also become obsessed with Disney+ and have made my Fridays dedicated to watching all the new content that has come out. I am watching the final season of Star Wars: Clone Wars, Shop Class, Be Our Chef, and Running Wild. I also binged watch most of the Disney Nature movies in one weekend like Born In China and Elephant. My kids love the original Ducktales and Gummi Bears which makes me happy as I loved those as a kid and rewatching them has been a joy.

I am always open to suggestions on shows so if you have any, please send them my way.

I have been running long distance again.

Since recovering from heart surgery I have put running on the back burner and started to pick it up slowly over the past 6 months. I have worked my way up to 5 miles and have been treading the pavement after dinner the past couple of weeks. I feel great and it feels good to be back at it again. My only complaint is that I wish the weather would make up its mind if it wants to stay warm or stay cold.

Other things include… at home spa days

Night time bike rides

A trip to the drive thru zoo.

Family game nights.

 

and fun trips to the outdoor pool when it is warm outside. 

These times are hard but one thing that I always keep in the back of my mind is that we all must be support one another. I am a believer in acts of kindness and how it affects people. So although we are all practicing social distancing, please remember that some people don’t have it as easy as you and we all must do our part to help one another. Even if is a cup of coffee,  taking care of your neighbors electric bill, or even providing a meal for family member. Kindness goes a long way.

Please stay safe out there and please wash your hands.

Back At It Again

It has been a long time since my last entry. There really are no other excuses other then life happens and that sometimes breaks are a must. That does not mean that I am not ever coming back. It just means that my time was spent on more important things like my kids and family.

There last entry I posted was in February and so many things have happened since then. Let me take a second and update you.

K-Dub is getting big. I sometimes cannot believe she is five cause I swear in the last few months she has hit a growth spurt. She looks more like she is 7. In my last update I told you she was starting dance. She has since had her first ever recital and loves it. We have plans for her to re-enroll in the fall.

Speaking of enrollment… K-Dub is starting Kindergarten in less then three weeks! Where did the time go? We were very lucky she got accepted at one of the local charter schools near where we live. She is excited and this weekend I am going to start gathering her school supplies while BrittWhitFun gets her school uniforms. I just can’t believe that we are finally at this moment and it makes me sad and joyful.

Evie is a force of nature. She has been getting big also. She has really come around on the loving Dad front and now she never wants to leave my side unless Mom is around. She has been really trying to grasp this whole potty training thing. She has #1 down by #2 has been a really struggle for not only her but for Mom and Dad. I may have stepped on poop while putting her on the potty. It just kind of rolled out of her underwear. Sorry. I hope you were not eating when you read this.

We have tried to transition Evie from her crib to toddler bed but it was a disaster so we decided to keep the crib a little longer. She is just not ready and until she is fully potty trained she really needs to stay in her crib.

Here are some of the other highlights of the past few months:

My SIL got married back in April. 

K-Dub learned to swim

My brother and I could not be better

My brother dressed like a lady for charity

I decided to take on swimming

Easter was a lot of fun.

We went to the Zoo

I won Coordinator of the Quarter

Had a great Mother’s Day Mingle At The Mint Event

Got a Vasectomy and my wisdom teeth out in the same month

K-Dub graduated from Preschool

BrittWhitFun and I celebrated 7 years of marriage

I tried float therapy and like it and did not drown

I did a build for Habitat for Humanity

Enjoyed 4th of July with friends

What is next for the family? We have a lot of things coming up. K-Dub starting school, Evie is turning 3 and we are heading back to Disney World in less then 90 days and I am not even close to being ready!

As always comments are appreciated and I can’t wait to here from you.

 

Back At It

So it has been a while since my last post but I am back. A lot has happened since my last post. My family and I have been very busy and things don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.

First, Happy New Year, I missed writing this blog, I missed you, yada, yada, yada. I am not going to waste my time or yours writing about goals for 2018 as if I was going to try and stick to them anyways.

It is really hard to find the words to put on the screen. Usually it is pretty easy but I am finding it hard these past few months to find my voice again. I really hate to waste your time so lets start with some updates.

K-Dub has been enrolled in dance and LOVES IT! All she talks about is dance class and her teacher. She is really cute in her outfit and to watch glide across the floor. She just turned five and the attitude is starting to be more intense. I cant believe that it will not be long before she is in Kindergarten. Where has the time gone? She still is a Daddy’s girl and I love every minute of it.

Evie is Evie. She is still mean as a snake. The best way to describe her is that she is a sour patch kid. She hits you in the face one minute and then the next she is hugging your arm and telling you she loves you. She is not a big fan of me but a die hard follower of my wife. She loves my wife. Her new thing now is to fight going to bed. When she commits to hating something she really commits to it.

BrittWhitFun is still the same. She is the leader of the pack. She spends her days working and calculating schedules and making lunches in the evening. She keeps our family going and I really have no clue what I would do without her. She is awesome.

As for me…My job has taken off in a very different direction then I ever thought would be possible as I am now more then ever in the core of my magazines. South Park Magazine has really taken off and we just had Greg Olson on this months cover. Carolina Bride has a new editor and I am working very close to her to get our magazine in front of as many eyes as possible.  In addition to working with the magazines I am also coordinating events which puts me in front of some new people and new places. I think this is by far the most fun thing about my job.

As far as fitness goes I have been in slump for the past few months. I have given up Crossfit and decided to journey out on my own. So far I am just not feeling it. I have however been focussing on my nutrition very heavy. Trying to find what works best for me and how different food affect my body. Once I find a new balance I will get back to it.

Very thankful to be here working hard to be a better me.

Football, Splash Pads, & Life Lessons

Let me start by saying that I am sorry for not following up on this past weeks blogs. Things have been nuts around the house and and trying to find the time to blog and update you guys has become difficult but I will talk about that later.

Picking up from my previous entry, the past few weeks we were grieving the loss of Tanner and things are still not the same. You would think with all the losses that my family and I have had that we would be come pros with dealing with grief but it still is easy and I have come to the conclusion that it never will be.

Many people know that my relationship with my brother has never been the best and I am not going into much detail about it but just know that we did finally have a talk and decided that we don’t always have to hang out or see each other every day. I can work with this. After mending some fences he invited me to the open preseason Panther game and you know I love my Carolina Panthers!

I had a great time. Too much of a great time and maybe should have never drank that 6th beer. Anyways, I was really glad to spend some time with him and enjoy some football also.

Finally the weekend came along and we had another birthday party to go to. This time it was for my other niece Charlee as it was her birthday. I can’t believe my niece is going to be in 1st grade this year! Where has the time gone?

The party was fun and even I got on the splash pad and got soaked. My girls had a blast and it was great to be around family and friends.

One thing that I never stop doing is learning. I always try to learn life lessons and sometimes I learn thing even when I don’t want to. I have learned that no matter what happens to just forgive and move on. That does not mean keeping the person around but to not let that hurt control your everyday life. Just let it go. Now sometimes it is harder then others and I struggle myself sometimes but you need to let it go.

The other lesson I learned was to stay out of God’s business and other people’s business and just worry about your business. This has helped me at work. When something does not go my way I have to tell myself I cannot control other people and what they do. I can only control what I do and how I react. This is more then likely my biggest lesson to learn.

I have a lot of cool things happening on the blog soon. A lot of fun things with the kids that need a post so stay tuned.

Adjusting To Grief

img_3281It has been a long time since I been on the blogosphere. Maybe that’s because I have been afraid of what would happen when I came back or maybe it was the fact that I did not know what to say. My heart is heavy and broken and I feel like I am in a nightmare that not even coffee can fix.

Almost a month ago I lost my mother. The women who gave me life. She suffered through a long battle with diabetes and heart disease. As many of you know she suffered a stroke and refused treatment. She was sent to hospice where a little over a week later on September 11, 2016 she took her final breath.

My close friends and family will tell you that I did not have the best relationship with my mother. It was not until right before Evie was born that we started working on our relationship. Soon after that, I found myself not being able to start my day with out my morning phone call from my mom between crossfit class and driving to the office. She became my friend and my mentor. She told me things that I never thought she would. She encouraged me, prayed for me, always asked about “her” girls, what was going on with work, and how was running going. She told me about the ups and downs she was having with her health and her husband. It always broke my heart to hear about her struggles cause I knew there was nothing I could do but to be encouraging and to be the ear she needed.

After she passed, the next few days were insane. I actually went back to work for two days and was surprised at how much I needed the distraction. The visitation was amazing cause I got to see people who I have not seen in years. My Grandma’s best friend, coworkers, former youth group member, my best friends parents, and my crossfit coach made the trip to provide comfort and to pay respects to both me and my mother. I felt loved and appreciated.

img_3324The funeral was special. We had a small turn out but it was on a Monday and I understand that people have jobs. My wife and I started the day with a trip to Starbucks. We talked about the visitation and how much it was important for us to keep our family together. When the funeral started my mother’s favorite doctor and coworker spoke about how much she meant to him and to the practice that she devoted her whole being to. It made me feel proud of the work she did and the person she was.

img_3336That weekend, my stepdad, brother, sister-in-law, nieces, bother from another mother, his girlfriend, my wife and kids headed down to Oak Island to do as my mother wished and spread her ashes on the beach. We stayed at a beach house  and spent the whole Saturday playing on the beach, fishing, and eating pizza. It was a great family time that I will never forget.

Sunday morning came and we packed our bags and loaded the car. Before we headed back to Charlotte we gathered on the beach and prayed as a family. My brother and I took our mother’s remains and some flowers and walked to the shallows of the ocean. We poured the ashes and watched the sea carry our mother out. I placed the flowers in the water and watched as they floated away. I held back the tears but was left with a memory burned in my mind forever.

img_3374

The feeling of not having any parents is a strange one. I often find myself picking up my phone to call her only to get the phone halfway to my ear and realizing that she is not there to answer. I feel there is a void in my heart. Where do you go from here? I am an orphan. I miss her more than I can even say in this post. I am angry that I did not have more time with her and all those years we were mad at each other were wasted. I am mad that she suffered with her health for so long and that she could not seem to do what she wanted cause her body would not let her.

I am thankful for the time we did have and the conversations we had. My mom was always the best person to talk to. She offered advice even when you never asked for it. She loved her grandkids so much. They were the lights of her life. She cooked with her heart just like my grandmother. She loved to have family over and to plan family gatherings. The Manus Family Christmas Party was her favorite cause it is a tradition passed down from her parents to the her siblings and I hope to us now.

img_0385

One thing that my mother hoped for and unfortunately did not happen when she was alive was that now my brother and I have a relationship. We are working on our relationship. We have made it a point to talk everyday, to plan family events, and put out past differences away. We are all we have left and I am excited to see where this will go. This is what mom would have wanted. For her two boys to get along and be a family.

img_3408This blog entry has taken me three weeks to write. I had to stop and take a break and let myself grieve and feel. Now here it is my youngest daughters birthday and all I want is for her to be here. To watch her wear her princess crown, to sing “Happy Birthday”, to watch her open presents, and to smile and laugh as she loved to do. I know she is looking down on us and watching us but I can’t help but feel like we will all be ok. We will have our moments where the grief is too much to take. We will need time to cry. As soon as we are done, to keep doing what she wanted which was the following:

“Love one another unconditionally and do for others daily. Above all, laugh- a lot.”

-Paula Helms

Love you Mom!

T.

A Hard Pill To Swallow

IMG_0385

This has been a hard entry to write. The past couple of weeks have left me numb, angry, scared, and bitter. I feel like I have lost a member of my family. It is not the best feeling to feel like someone is gone forever, only to have them laying right there in front of you. It brings new meaning to your life and what you find important. It makes you humble and grateful for what you have and what you will have. At the same time, you want to cry out and scream.

This past weekend my mom took a turn for the worst. We thought that with a little rehab she was going to be ok, not 100% but she was going to fine. Then Saturday, I got a call saying they think my mom had another stroke or maybe a seizure. They were not sure. She was not responding.

My emotions started to fall from that steep hill on this emotional rollercoaster that I thought I exited. Here I was still on the ride and it was at the jerking sideways, full speed part that left me breathless.

The news I was told by family was that there was more swelling on the brain and that it was worse. Her brain had become dislocated. That may not be the word they used but it is hard to remember everything when you are faced with such a life-altering event.

When seeing her in the hospital bed, an all too familar thing in my family, I saw her body. It was so still…so calm. My brother standing over her talking to her and crying. He told her I was here and directed me to come closer. I could not move. Somehow I was in a state of shock that still is hard to describe. I knew what was happening but I still was processing it.

The entire length of the visit I sat there looking at her. She looked to tired. She was done and ready to call it quits. Finally after almost an hour my wife and I were left in the room alone with her. I grabbed her hand and told her I loved her and if she felt like she needed to “go” then to do so. I assured her we were going to be fine. She looked at me and very clear told me she loved me too. I held her head and kissed her forehead like it was the last time. Like I never wanted to let her go. Then the tears started. I left her unsure what was going to happen next other then I was certain that things were never going to be the same.

Today I was informed that she is being moved to hospice. I don’t know a lot about hospice but from what people tell me it is not always good. I was told that my mom would never recover and the swelling on her brain has taken a toll on her. She will never be ok. The only thing now is to make her comfortable.

That last word(comfortable) is one that is the hardest to hear. I feel like I was told that it was ok for my mom to die and that locking her up is what is best for her. What do you say when something like that is said to you? What do I do now? Do I just let her lay there alone? It breaks my heart to think of her in that place waiting to die. I am mad. I am angry. This is not the way this was suppose to happen.

Please continue to keep my family in your prayers. We have been through a lot the past couple of weeks and this is one of those things where we need each now more then ever.

Finding Your Way Back To the Grind

Photo on 8-14-16 at 8.35 PM
After a rollercoaster of a weekend, I needed some cuddles with this little cutie!

So this weekend has been rough. There is not an easy way to say it. I feel like I have been on a crazy ride of emotions the past three days. One minute I am happy, then sad, then scared, and then angry. Its not always in that order but the intensity of emotions varies.

This morning I decided to go for a run. The one thing I know that makes me forget. It keeps me in check. It is the time in my day where I think the most clearly and I am the most relax. I think it is the runner’s high. I managed to complete 4 miles. I would tell you the time but I was not watching the clock. This run was just for fun.

I got a call before stepping in the shower from my brother. He told me that my mother’s condition had gotten worse and that I needed to come to the hospital ASAP. I jumped in the shower and threw my clothes on and headed up to the hospital in a hast.

I was told that my mom’s brain had swollen and we only had two options. One was to do surgery and allow them to drill a hole in my mom’s skull to let some of the pressure out or to let nature run it’s course. After a long discussion with my brother and stepfather, we decided to honor my moms wishes and to let nature run it’s course.

I spent the rest of the afternoon coming to terms with what was decided. I knew this was the right decision. This is what she wanted.

I never thought I would have to decide someone’s fate like that. It is a strange feeling. The closest I have ever came to this was when I had to sign the papers for them to extract my deceased child out of my wifes womb. As tramatic as that was, this was different.

On a brighter note, my mom was talking today. She would come in and out as she was trying to regain her conscious. She told me she wanted a Pepsi and a chicken biscuit. I had to explain to her that the nurses said she could not have that as they feared she would choke. She would sometimes ask strange questions. She asked to get her phone so she could call her mom. My grandma has been died for over 10 years.

When I go home my wife gave me a hug and told me that everything was going to be fine. I knew she was lying but I appreciated the attempt to make me feel better. She did surprise me with a new desk. It was just what I wanted to complete things for the gym and to keep blogging.

IMG_3862

Now its time for bed. I have 75 burpees waiting for me in the morning. Goodnight guys!!!

Here Is To Hope In 2016

  
So now that the tree has been dragged to the curb, the lights are rolled up, and the ornaments are boxed up, it’s time for that annual New Years post…

2015 has not been an easy year for my little family. We have struggled to make ends meet more then people will ever know. Once thing I am hopeful for us to get a little more financially secure as a family. Saving money has always been a struggle for my wife and I. My plan is to cut back on expenses and put a little back each week and slowly pay off our debt. To also plan for big events like Christmas and to coupon like a beast. 

This year I want to get lean. I want to work on building muscle and getting that lean body I have struggled to get my whole life. I am turning 30 soon so it’s time to get lean and get big. My diet will have to change a lot but I will get there. 

I want to run more races. 2015 I ran both a half and full marathon which were huge accomplishments but it did nothing but make we want more “bling” for my wall. The more metals the better. I at least want to run six races this year and I want to also keep a steady running routine. 

I want to get more organized this year. Throw away useless stuff that I don’t need a make more room for useful items. 

I want to get more closer to my wife. This past year we did a lot of our own things. I was running marathons and she was growing our second child. There was a lot of distance between us. Date night stop happening and the “awe” effect of our marriage was gone. We were going through the motions. I don’t want that. I want a more steady date night with my wife. I want to experience the best things about our relationship and I am willing to work for it. She is an amazing woman but I want to make our relationship better. She deserves that. 

I want to blog more. In 2015, I stopped blogging as much. I want to document more for my readers so this year I am going to write more and post frequently. I want to build my readership up like it use to be and post more recipes and funny stories as they happen. 2016 is going to be a great year for this blog. I just know it. 

Well, there you have it. What I want out of 2016. I am so happy to have you along for the ride. Stay tuned. 

Finding That Full Time Groove

  

I have to say that the end of 2014 up until now has been hard for my wife and I. We have struggled to maintain or house and we have faced a lot of challenges. At a few points we spent our nights crying on the couch cause we did not know if we were going to make it. How were we going to take care of our daughter and the one on the way if we could not keep the lights on?

I spent the late part of 2014 working odd jobs, couponing so we could have our next meal and spending all the time I could with my daughter. I was the most domestic dad you would ever meet. I told people I was a part time stay at home dad and I secretly loved every minute of it.

Then in February, I found a small part time job was available at the local paper in Charlotte. Did not think anything about it and applied. I never thought that I would get a phone call that night. I was interviewed over the phone and asked to come in the next day. I interviewed two more times for this position and was offered it the next week while making a Target run.

My job was taking classified ads for garage sales, pet, and automobiles. I worked five hours a day and still had time to workout, pick K-Dub up from school, have dinner on the table, and my house was always clean. I loved it! I got a satisfaction of being able to bring money in and still take care of my family. I was the dad that I always wished I had.

After 8 months of working really hard at the paper, I was offered a full time position that I could not turn down. It was my dream job and I felt like I finally arrived. Months of praying to be full time had finally been heard.

What I did not expect was that I had to give up and change some things in my day to day life. I was now not able to take K-Dub to and from school, I had to stop going to my 6 am crossfit class, and I could not longer make dinner cause I was now getting home after 6 pm. Life has changed and I am still finding my groove as a husband, father, athlete, and now a full time employee. I have had to adjust my schedule a lot but I think that I will find my groove. Has anyone else had these issues?

I am grateful for this opportunity and I feel I deserve it but I just hope that the relationships with my family and friends stay strong as I spent the last year trying to strengthen them.

The Past Few Weeks

So I would be totally surprised if I had any readers left after this post. It’s not like I have been ignoring the blog but it seems that every time I go to write, it seemed that my mind just would come up with something. I guess I have a case of “extreme writer’s block”. Is that even a thing? 

I don’t want to keep writing about marathon training as that can get boring real quick. It has consumed most of my life at the moment.  My runs are getting faster and by the time I get to the end of the month I start to go further. I am both nervous and scared at this point. I am also excited to see how well I can do this. I have so much support around me. People taking time out of their day to come to the race to cheer me on. I feel I owe it to them and myself to keep going and not stop. 

Did I just bore you with a marathon training update? Sorry. 😁

Crossfit is starting to make a difference in my life. My body has never been stronger.  I actually have muscles on my arms, my chest is looking more chiseled and less like I have “man boobs”. I was really proud of myself for doing a 155 lb squat clean last week! That’s huge for someone like me. I also think I am ready to try a pull up. My coaches are amazing. Coach Greg, Sharon, and Mike encourage me to do my best. To push my limits and to never give up. I think after my marathon I am going to focus more on crossfit and work up to being able to compete. I think I am ready! 

As for the baby… I am not going into too much detail cause I have been working on a post about it. All I will say is that Everly moves a lot! She never stops! My wife has not slept good for the past two weeks and it’s not been the easiest time at our house. 

More on this later.