stories

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.

Time Flies

Tempus fugit - Il tempo vola - Time flies

Last night my boys and I were shuffled out of the house to make room for a “make up” party that my wife was hosting. At first it seemed like an annoyance to be forced out of the house on a Thursday evening. It was up to me to figure out what to do with my sons for the hour and a half that they would occupy our house.

We ended up going to a park near a small lake about 2 miles from our home. The boys played on the playground, ran up and down the hills, and played near the water’s edge. As I watched them, I was grateful for the excuse to go out and spend time with them. They are a lot of fun to be with and I realize daily that they are growing fast and I need to make the time to be with them and develop our relationships.

I never thought I would say this, but Thank You crafty, over-priced, makeup sales Lady, for giving me an excuse to spend time with my boys. I may rethink that statement when I see how much the makeup costs.

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.

 

Kendall is a boy name

So I’m that guy who woke up to his phone ringing at two in the morning, only to be told he was a girl.

Hello my name is

(Disclaimer, this is intended to be a humorous rant on names.)

Growing up, I didn’t know many people with my name, but I did know some, and they were all boys. As I got into my late teens, I realized that there were also girls named Kendall, but it was a rare occurrence for me to hear this and I was not overly concerned. Now I am afraid that the name has almost completely been taken over by the opposite sex. In 1906 the name was 100% male. In the early 80’s, when I was born, it was still mostly a boy name. But by 2012 it was 86% female. I found it interesting, that a Google search for “girl names that became boy names” yielded absolutely no results. This is a phenomena that affects males exclusively.

I am troubled by this, as I am sure many other men are. Just think about all the Lynns, Quinns, Shirleys, Ashleys, Shannons, Stacys, Taylors, and Whitneys to name a few. They are stranded in a world where their names were once proud and masculine, only to hear kids snickering when they perceive that they have girl names.

A few years ago I was woken up at 2 a.m. by my phone ringing. I tried to ignore the call, but the caller was persistent. I answered the phone and a woman asked, “Is Kendall there?” I said, “This is Kendall.” She says, “No this isn’t; Kendall is a girl name.”

Still partially awake, I was hurt and offended and when she tried to end the call I said, “You can’t just wake me up and call me a girl without an explanation of why.”

She proceeded to tell me that she had found a note in her husband’s pants pocket with my name and number. Assuming I was a girl and fearing the worst, she decided to call the number at 2 in the morning to catch the person off guard and find out if there was something going on. It turns out her husband is a contractor I had spoken with earlier that day about a job I needed done.

This woman’s trust issues, or her husband’s lack of trustworthiness, vividly illustrate the confusion that is being created in the world because of the name migration. Some women think it is cute to name a baby girl with a name that is not commonly used for girls, and I have to agree that sometimes it is cute. But at what cost for all the boys that carry that name? Is it fair to take a name and change it to fit your purposes? Just think of all the Leslies out there that have no choice but to be Les. (Pun intended.)

I guess my hope is that before you choose that name that is not traditionally used for a particular gender, you think of the effects on society. What name will be next? Maybe it’s David, Michael, or even George that will be the next to cross the line. No name is off limits apparently. And although this is written mostly tongue in cheek, I have been affected by the blatant takeovers of male baby names.

What’s your opinion? Agree or disagree, please comment and put in your two cents on this issue.