Month: August 2014

Happy Birthday: 10 Years Has Flown By

So I’m that guy, watching time slip by and his daughter growing up too fast.

number candles

Yesterday was a fun day for our family. My oldest child, our daughter, turned 10 years old. For her birthday she was able to plan all the meals, and choose an activity to do that she would enjoy. Her meal choices were pretty fun, she wanted biscuits and gravy for breakfast, lunch was not too important as long as there were artichokes to eat, and her dinner request was barbequed meat from Dickey’s Barbecue. She also asked to be able to go out in the evening with just me and her Mom to go to dinner and shop for some school clothes.

So Grandma came over to babysit the other kids and we took her out on her birthday date. I really enjoyed the evening we had together. It was a lot of fun spending time with her alone. We have not done that for a while. I think sometimes older siblings get lost in the chaos as younger children require a lot more attention and care at the early ages.

It struck me that somewhere along the way she had turned into a beautiful, funny, smart, silly, playful, responsible young girl. I took a mental snap shot as we laughed and joked around throughout the night. We had a great night together and I will treasure that memory.

Time seems to fly by, the last 10 years are a blur, and truly it will not be long before she is a teenager. Nothing in life has given me more pride and satisfaction than seeing my children grow up and develop into the people they are becoming. I am excited for the future, but at the same time I want to make the most of the present and live in the moments we share together.

It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since she was born, but I think it is even harder to believe that I am old enough to be the father to a 10 year old.

Balancing It All

So I’m that guy trying to find balance in chaos.

Health Work Career Friends Signpost Showing Life And Lifestyle Balance

I’m sure everyone is just like me in thinking that life is chaotic. The hardest part for me is trying to find the balance in all the different aspects of my life. The ambitious part of me would spend 24/7 working on my projects and developing my businesses. The family man in me would love to stay home with my kids all day and develop those relationships.

I grew up with less than perfect examples of balance. My father is a farmer and in that profession the demands of the farm generally take control. There is no way to maintain a 40 hour work week throughout the year because the needs of the farm are much greater during certain times. He did try to balance that by involving us in the farm labor and spending more time with the family during less demanding seasons.

My mother is a business owner as well. She started her business when I was 3 years old out of our basement. Through the years it has grown into a business with about 30 employees that I currently manage. It has always been a big part of our family. My mom even likes to refer to it as one of my siblings. Unfortunately, as we grew up, it was the favored sibling and it received much more attention and care than the rest of us.

As a result of my childhood and role models, when I reached adulthood I had no concept of balance. Throughout my childhood, the careers of my parents came first and on many levels I can’t fault them for that. It taught me how to work hard and I had many opportunities to grow through working with them in their businesses. But looking back on that, I want to live a more balanced life.

My roles are many, I’m a husband to a beautiful wife, and we have four children ages 10, 4, 20 months, and 5 months. Professionally, I’m a part owner and general manager of the business my mother started when I was 3. I also own a general contracting and real estate development company, and I try to fit in selling some products on Amazon on the side. Civically, I serve on a board of trustees for a public charter school in our community, and I’m a volunteer leader in my church of a group of young men ages 14-16. Sometimes I feel like I have A.D.D. as I switch roles throughout the day. There is always a problem that needs attention, or a challenge to overcome. With all the demands on my time, it would be easy for me to focus solely on my work and neglect the important parts of my life.

To overcome my tendencies and maintain balance, I try to schedule out my day and structure it to meet all the needs of myself, work, community, and my family. I wake up every morning at 5 a.m. and focus on myself and my personal development. I meditate, read and write. Exercise is also a big part of my morning. I’ve found that if I don’t get it done in the morning it won’t happen.

When the family wakes up, I usually have my personal things done and I’m able to help my wife prepare the kids for the day and we sit down together as a family to eat breakfast. I help clean up and I leave for work at around 8 o’clock.

At around 12 o’clock I’m usually able to come home and eat lunch with my family. Then I’m back at work until 5:30 when we have dinner together. My office is close enough to my home that my commute is generally walking, so throughout the day I have the chance to see my family and sometimes we all load up in the car and go run errands for work together. Some evenings I have activities with my youth group or board meetings for the school, but most are spent at home with my family. Saturdays are always reserved for family activities or work projects around the house, and Sundays are set aside for church and visiting extended family.

This schedule has been working well for us and I think it is helping maintain the balance in my different roles. I’ve found that the most important part of the scheduling is living in the moment. For example, when I’m with my children, I can’t let my mind drift into work. I have to be present in every moment whether it is with my wife and children, at work, or in a board meeting. If not I’m neglecting another part of my life and losing the balance that I’m trying so hard to maintain. I’ve found that being present is both the key to balance as well as the hardest part.

In the end, what is really important? At my funeral, I don’t think anyone will talk about how great I was at business or how many houses I built. What they will talk about are the relationships that have been developed. They will talk about the fun vacations we went on together. They will talk about the lessons they learned through example and conversation. They will talk about the memories of eating meals together as a family and spending time together.

Life is too short. Children grow up fast. Providing an income and meeting their physical needs is an important part of being a father, but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of spending time together. Finding balance between these roles has been one of my greatest challenges, but I have found that it is also very rewarding.

Miracle Morning

So I’m that guy that figured out a way to add another 2 hours to his day.

Man on the beach

When I’m doing work that doesn’t require a lot of thinking I like to listen to podcasts. I learn a lot from them and it brings new ideas to think about as I’m working. Recently I was listening to an entrepreneurial podcast where the author of a book was interviewed. His name is Hal Elrod and the book is called, The Miracle Morning.

Some of the things they talked about got my attention and I decided to read the book and see what it had to offer. The book encourages people to wake up earlier than usual and start the day with a period of meditation, reading, writing, and exercise. I’ve never considered myself a morning person. The only time I’ve consistently woken up early was during the times I have been training for marathons. It has always been the hardest part of the training to drag myself out of bed and start the day early and head out on a run. But this seems different. The main focus is to get up and get your mind in the right place before the stresses of the day distract you from what’s important.

I decided to try it for myself. I was actually kind of excited to take control in this way. I’ve always felt that I’m at my laziest at that moment when I’m trying to get out of bed in the morning, and this seemed like it gave me a purpose to get up. The first day I tried it was June 9th. It has been almost 2 months since then and I can say that with only a few exceptions while on vacations, I’ve been able to wake up and start every day with a miracle morning.

I’ve seen some significant differences in my life. I’m excited to wake up every morning and start my day in this way. I’ve been able to continually do things that I’ve always thought I didn’t have time for. I’ve been more consistent with my exercise goals. Ideas have come and I’ve been able to follow through on them. This blog, for example, is a result of the extra time I have in the morning to think about what’s going on in my life and write it down. I feel that it has helped me to be more focused and proactive in my business dealings.

I’ve had to cut back on my sleep somewhat. I’m used to getting a little over 8 hours, and now I’m getting a little under 7 hours. I haven’t noticed any change in energy levels throughout the day. The main things I’ve noticed are that if I want to take a nap in the day, it’s a lot easier than it was before. The other thing is that I fall asleep a lot faster at night. All in all, I don’t think it’s had a negative impact on me, but I will continue to pay attention to this and make adjustments if necessary. As far as sleep, I feel the key is going to bed somewhat early and maintaining a consistent schedule.

Based on the last two months, I think this is a habit that I would like to maintain in my life. I feel more creative and proactive in all areas of my life and I’ve come to the conclusion that the benefits outweigh the negatives. I’m not following the outline of the book to the letter, but I have adapted the morning rituals to fit my life and my needs. I think I might become a “Morning Person.”

Coping With Camping

So I’m that guy, chasing my 20 month old son around the great outdoors, trying to keep him from killing himself.

 

No Camping Sign

We took the whole family camping last weekend for a reunion with my immediate family. I have mixed feelings about camping with kids. We have a 9 year old, 4 year old, 20 month old, and a 5 month old. The 5 month old was nearly perfect during the trip, the 9 and 4 year olds had their share of whining and drama, but the 20 month old was the challenge. I think it might be somewhat normal, but he seems to have a stronger than usual desire to test the durability of his small body. One comedian I have listened to likes to say that all children around the age of two are essentially suicidal and it is our job to make sure they do not succeed in their attempts. I’m becoming more and more convinced of the truthfulness of that theory as I observe the judgment of my son.

The campground we went to was next to a small water park. Our first activity after setting up camp was to go swimming with the kids. As we got to the pool I was watching our son. We went to set our towels down about 20 feet from the pool and I set my son down as I took off my shirt. As I was distracted, my son recognized the opportunity and went straight for the pool. He is not necessarily fast, but my judgment to finish taking off my shirt before chasing after him was called into question as my wife rushed to catch him with less than 1 foot to spare before he went toddling into the deep end of the swimming pool. It was an effective reminder that my son could not be trusted and I would have to be on high alert through the rest of the trip.

The rest of the trip was essentially two days of suicide watch as I followed my son around the campground; watching him get as close to danger as possible and dragging him back to our campsite.

The first night in the camper was a disaster. Our kids thrive on routine and changing that routine by being in a new environment and sleeping in a camping trailer was enough to make life difficult. Once again, the 20 month old proved to be the most difficult. At 11 p.m. my wife finally gave up trying and loaded him into the truck to drive him around until he went to sleep. No one got enough sleep that night.

The next day in the pool was when it finally caught up with them. The 20 month old fell asleep on my shoulder while I was carrying him around in the water, and the 5 month old fell asleep in her floatation device. I found a quiet corner of the pool to hold them as they took their naps. After the morning swim we went back to camp for lunch. We spent some time with my family visiting and after lunch I took the two babies into the trailer where they both fell asleep. I think that was one of the best parts of the “vacation.” I was able to take a short nap and the rest of the afternoon I watched the Shaytards on my phone.

That evening our routine was interrupted again. My sister was in charge of dinner for the group and she was at the swimming pool. Our family is accustomed to eating dinner at between 5:30 and 6:00. We were finally eating at 9:00. In spite of this delay and the late bedtime, thankfully the children slept better than the night before.

In spite of all the interruptions to our family routine, we were able to have a good time. It was great to be able to visit and spend time with my siblings and their families. We have a pretty close family and get together regularly, but being in a different environment seemed to improve the interactions that we had. The children had a lot of fun playing together and swimming.

It may sound like I had a terrible experience, and yes many aspects of the camping trip were difficult and annoying. But there were moments of fun interspersed throughout the experience that, in the end, made it a worthwhile trip to go on.

I was telling a neighbor about our trip the other night and he said something that impacted me. “Making memories and having fun, are not the same thing.” That is a very profound statement. I may not have enjoyed every minute of my time camping, but the memories of the good times we had will stick with my older children for a very long time. I have to constantly remind myself to live in the moment and enjoy the experiences we have together. Children grow up fast and the memories we have are the only things that last.