Marriage

The Fuel Can

Coca Cola

 

Sometimes I just see things differently from other people. I was that kid that ran with scissors, swam immediately after eating, and played too close to the electrical outlet.

So, now I’m that guy always looking to use things in a way other than their intended use.

I was with a church group of teenage boys helping a neighbor clean up a fallen tree in his yard. As I looked at the gas can for the chainsaw that was being used, I had a brief glimmer of clarity, and that is when The Fuel Can was conceived.

I jokingly laughed with the boys as we imagined people drinking out of gasoline cans. As far as we were concerned, we might as well have just discovered penicillin. The thought of seeing this at car races, car shows, air shows, and similar venues was fun to think about.

It easily could have ended there. How many times have you had a really good idea, and said to yourself, “maybe someday I could do that”? That night I decided to follow through on this one. I wanted to show the boys what it looked like to carry an idea like this through to finished product. I wanted to show them that when there are obstacles to your success, you plow through them and find a way to make it happen.

I am an entrepreneurial type of person. My wife and I own and operate a couple of businesses. We manufacture and sell infant special occasion clothing (christening gowns) on our website http://www.OneSmallChild.com, and I run a general contracting business in our town. My passion in these businesses is developing something from nothing. I enjoy making things happen. When I come up with a new idea, it is difficult to redirect my thoughts. So you can imagine her reaction whenever I start a sentence with: “So get this…” This was no exception. She kind of dismissed the idea at first and I dropped it for the night. I had a hard time sleeping that night and I could not let it go. The more I thought about it, the more I saw the path to make it happen.

The next day I was on the phone with attorneys trying to figure out if I could patent the idea and insurance agents to see if it could be covered by a product liability policy. After each call, I was more excited and determined to make it happen. By the end of the day, I had a clear path to put together all the legal details and I had hired a freelance designer to develop the first design for prototyping. Now all I had to do was convince my wife.

With a few conceptual conversations and getting her input on the design, she was in. I had her blessing to move forward and make it happen. A week later we had the design and 45 days after that, the patent was filed with the U.S. Patent Office. Another week and a half went by and I had a 3D printed prototype in my hands. It was an amazing feeling seeing a tangible result from the crazy idea that sprang up as we were busy helping a neighbor.

Now with pride and hope, I am presenting this product to the world. My hope is to see The Fuel Can in the hands of millions of people like me across the world that look at things just a little bit different. Please help me bring this dream to reality.

Foreplay Starts in the Kitchen

So I’m that guy that thinks it’s cool to do the dishes.

The road to happiness.

Disclaimer: This post may be a little controversial and get me into some trouble, but this is one of the most important things that I have learned in the last 12 years of marriage to my beautiful wife.

Early in our marriage I read a quote that hit home for me. More or less, it goes like this, “Happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and  well-being of one’s spouse.”

My wife and I have taken that quote to heart and made it a priority to focus on each other’s needs, rather than always thinking about our own needs. When each of us is focused on the other, our own needs our met and we see each other as equals partners. That doesn’t mean that we do the same things and that our roles are interchangeable. We each have strengths and weaknesses, but when we work together we make a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Every marriage is different, but this is what our marriage looks like. I work and my wife stays home with our four children. She also works very flexible hours from home, but mainly she focuses on the children. I see her role as equal to mine, in fact most times I feel like my 8 hours at work is a vacation compared to the war zone at home. When I get home I help with the kids, help make dinner, help clean up dinner, and help to straighten up the house. We both have demands on us through the day so I try to share equally in the responsibilities that come at night. I change diapers, do bath time, put kids in pajamas, and help put them to bed. It is all in my job description.

We take turns waking up late at night to feed the babies. This is the hardest part because it is hard to remember whose turn it is at 3 a.m. when there is a baby screaming.

So some guys may be asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” I am sure at some point you have heard the statement, “Foreplay begins in the kitchen.” I have found that to be true, need I say more?

The overall lesson I have learned is that I truly want my wife to be happy. My taking responsibility for some household duties makes her life easier. In return she is focused on my needs and it all comes together to make an awesome marriage. It may sound bizzarre, but I really like doing dishes.

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.

Adoption “What If’s”

So, what if I’m that guy who analyzes things too much?

what if

Adoption was not our “plan A” when it came to growing our family. Don’t get me wrong, I had the idealistic thoughts that many have, thinking that someday it would be nice to adopt. I viewed it as something that truly selfless people do to help humanity, but it was not necessarily for me.

Infertility changed all of that for me. It took some time to wrap my mind around the situation, but eventually it became a present reality. I realized that adopting would fill a need in ourselves and our family as well as give a child a good home. I didn’t come to this realization easily, here are some of the “what if’s” that crossed my mind, and some of the conclusions I’ve come to through my experiences.

-What if it is too expensive? This is a very valid question. Adoption can be very expensive and to some it seems impossible. We were blessed with the resources to make the adoptions happen and I have never regretted it. There is nothing that money could have bought that would bring more joy and happiness to me and my family.

-What if I’m not able to bond with the child? This question was one of the first I had. I had no idea if I would bond with an adopted child the same way as I had with our biological daughter. In my situation this is the easiest one to answer, the bonding happened immediately. From the first moment I saw each one of our adopted children, I was totally and completely in love. There was no hesitation or second thought.

-What if I feel like a babysitter? This question went back to the previous question of bonding. Like I stated earlier, from the beginning there was not question of the bond that immediately formed between us. Whenever my wife goes out with her friends, leaving me alone with the kids, she likes to tell me that it’s not “baby sitting” when they’re your own kids.

-What if the birth parents want the baby back?  We have all heard the horror stories of the birth parents who come back after two years, and after a long court battle regain custody of their child. While this does happen, it’s very rare. In my experience, the birth parent’s greatest motivator is the happiness of the child. Though difficult, they put their own needs aside for the child to have an intact home, and a better future than they can provide.

-What if the child grows up wishing they were with their birth parents? In visiting with adults that were adopted, I have found that the child does mourn the loss of his or her birth parents, but they all have expressed to me the gratitude they have for the birth parents that placed them for adoption as well as for their adoptive parents. A few have described difficulty in their teen years, but adolescence can be a very difficult time for anyone. We all try to identify who we are and who we want to be. Adoption is something that kids can blame their troubles on, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that is the root of the issue. While I am sure there are exceptions, adult adoptees that I have met are very well adjusted, happy people.

-What if I’m not a good enough Dad? This was the hardest question for me, and continues to be difficult. A birth mother places a lot of trust and hope in an adoptive couple. She wants her child to have a life that she can’t provide, and it rests on the shoulders of the adoptive parents to fulfill her dreams for that child. When I lose my temper or catch myself not being the best I can be, I feel like I’m letting that her down. We all have weaknesses and struggle at times, but I always try to remember the sacrifice of their birth mother and try harder to be the father she wanted for her children.

Don’t let the “what if’s” stop you if you are thinking about adoption. If nothing else, through my experiences I’ve realized that things have a way of working out. And even though they may not turn out the way we first planned or hoped, I can look back and say I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you have had experiences with adoption that you would like to share, please leave me a comment.

How I met their Mother

So I’m that guy, who while looking into his wife’s eyes as they were married, thought that he loved her more than anything in this world and couldn’t possibly love her more, but realizes now that he can and does love her more every day.

Couple holding hand at sun rise

 

When I first met my wife, Katy, she was only 16. I thought she was cute, but as she was a little more than 4 years younger than me, I didn’t consider dating her. She worked for my mom’s business at the time, and I also ended up working in the business. We didn’t work together but we were around each other sometimes through the day, so we were able to get to know each other a little.

When Katy was 17 I was pressured in to taking one of her friends to her Senior Prom. I wasn’t very excited about the situation, but I said I would do it if Katy came along, so I arranged a double date where she went with a friend of mine. We had a really fun time together, and on that date, I saw her sense of humor and personality and I really liked her. After that night, I was talking to my friend, who had also had a good time, and he said he had also liked her. “Too bad she’s so young,” he said.

It was another year before we started dating, but through that year we had a few opportunities to hang out and get to know each other a little better. Finally, one day at work we were talking about our lack of weekend plans. I had said that I wasn’t doing anything, and she said the same. So I asked if she would like to go out with me to see the Star Wars movie that had just come out in the theaters. She said yes, and the rest is history.

That was around the last week in May of 2002. By the middle of June we were going out almost every weekend. We had a really good time together and enjoyed talking and spending time with each other. We talked about anything and everything. The realization that she was the one I should marry came little by little, but it wasn’t long before I knew I would be very happy sharing my life with her. We really became close through those few months, and in late August our relationship had arrived at the point where we started talking about marriage.

I remember the first conversation we had about marriage. It was exciting and new to realize that we were both thinking about this. We were driving in my truck at the time, and she said, “We haven’t even held hands yet.” I was a very shy person and struggled to get up the courage to make the “moves,” but when she said that, I reached over and held her hand. From that point on we were inseparable. We spent all of our free time together and shortly thereafter I bought a ring.

We went for a drive and parked to talk. I had the ring in my pocket and I was so excited at the thought of putting it on her finger. We were talking and I held her hand and said, “When we are old and grey, I want to look at your hand and see this ring on your finger,” and I pulled out the ring and showed it to her and I asked, “Will you marry me?”

She said yes and I put the ring on her finger. Then she said, “Don’t you think you should kiss me?” Looking back on those moments, I can’t help but think I could have done it all a lot better. I could have made the proposal more elaborate or more romantic. We could have held hands more and kissed while we were dating. But all in all I don’t have any regrets. From that courtship we have developed a relationship that is built on a true friendship and not solely a physical bond.

That stage in our lives culminated in the most important day in my life, November 30, 2002, when I held her hand and we were married. It was at that time that our family was united and began. I can truly say that I married my best friend. I clearly remember thinking on that day that I could not possibly love any person more than I loved her. Looking back at our lives, we have gone through a lot together. There have been amazing times, hard times, tragedies and miracles. I realize now that I do love her more with every passing day. Through it all, the friendship that we started with has only strengthened. Our relationship has become integral to our lives. I realize that with each passing day, I do love her more and more.