New Adventures For NCDads?

The End For NCDads and new beginnings.IMG_0673

After 5 years, we have decided that I am no longer NCDad.  Thank you all for your support.  It has been so much fun but our adventure in NC is over, we are headed back to Florida to be closer to family and on to more exciting things.  Now we will be part of the elite few that have a reason to visit Greenville, NC (G-Vegas).

Top 10 things we will miss about Greenville, NC

10.  Our house, we have a great house here in Greenville, very roomy inside and out. We have to greatly reduce to move to Florida but we should be doing that anyway.  We thought we had a great deal of things moving here 5 years ago.  Now we are seasoned parents and have more toys than we know what to do with when all the kids want is their iPad.  Spoiled brats!

9.  Jarvis Memorial United Methodist Church and Pre-school. We are not Methodist but the pre-school and church has been so welcoming to us.  We’ve met many great people and my wife and kids have attended church services there.  In the pre-school all 3 kids had the same first year pre-school teacher who was amazing as were all the teachers and staff who have done a great job preparing my kids for school, life and Chuck E. Cheese.

8.  The Cheers effect. Anywhere you go in Greenville, you’re bound to run into someone you know.  That can be good and bad.  Now we’re heading back to the beach where we can blend in as a nameless, faceless, weird beach family.

7.  Visiting Florida as a tourist. I’ve learned so much from my Wisconsinite In-laws.  Not until I left Florida, did I come back to visit and rent a moped.  I enhanced that authentic tourist experience by getting pulled over on it for running a red light.  Good times.  Maybe I’ll continue to embrace these things I never did in 30 years of living there, by parasailing, or maybe driving slow in the left lane.

6.  Play Date. This was a gem that I have posted about in the past.  It is a drop-off child care center that has an amazing and caring staff.  The rates were reasonable and the kids love going there.

5.  Wasabi 88. This is a great sushi restaurant that is a must when visiting Greenville.  Like Greenville, when we get to Florida, there are sushi restaurants every 5 feet, but I can imagine, it will take us a little while to find a suitable replacement as Wasabi 88 was better than any sushi we had in Florida.

4.  School. AJ’s Elementary School here in Winterville, NC is a newer school and through Kindergarten and  First Grade, our expectations of an Elementary School in the struggling NC Public school system, were surpassed.

3.  Traffic. Everyone in town likes to complain about traffic, but there are really only 3 major roads here.  The problem is that all are so afraid to be pulled over, that here in Greenville when it comes to speed limit signs, 40 is the new 20.  Fortunately everything in Greenville is only 10 minutes away.

2.  Weather. Right now, there’s a heat advisory, at a high of 96’ today I cannot take the kids outside to play.  However, we will miss the Fall and Winter here as we are cold weather people but we’re heading to year round heat anyway!  Can’t wait to get back to blasting the A/C on New Year’s Day again! Hmm.

1.  Friends. Once I moved here, I really hadn’t thought of how important this was.  While my wife and I were new parents, adjusting to a new job, new life; new role for me, we had made a great network of friends here.  We are so thankful for that and despite the distance; we have made friends for life.

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Traveling has been such a big part of our lives the past 5 years and it’s wonderfully exhausting.

Here’s an example of travelling with AJ:  while taking him into go potty at a gas station somewhere between NC and FL, I walk him in and a rather large over-tattooed, sketchy looking trucker held the door for us.  AJ and I go in and I say thank you to the man.  AJ turns around and yells to him “Say you’re welcome!”

Travelling with Andy:  I recall returning from a trip and taking AJ to school.  Andy was home with me and I took him grocery shopping.  Andy was maybe two years old and was so exhausted from our trip to Florida.  He was not totally verbal yet and kept gesturing to my hand.  Having not known what he was doing, he finally grabbed my hand as he sat in the grocery cart.  He then laid his head in my hand and fell asleep.  Awesome.  I miss that Andy sometimes.  When he was a baby, he was so quiet;  I really feel for those people who leave their kids in hot cars as I feel I’m an attentive father but that some days that could easily have happened because he was such a quiet baby.  Scary stuff.

Travelling with Jamie:  This is a fairly recent story and is by far my favorite.  Jamie’s seat next to him in the minivan is normally vacant.  This is during a trip to Marbles Museum in Raleigh, NC.  We went with some friends that have a little boy Sam, 7 years old, an only child.  Sam is not used to the rowdiness, noise, rambunctiousness, comradery and annoyingness that go along with brotherhood.  If he is, it is only because he is now used to my kids. So during this hour and a half trip, Sam was sitting quietly watching whatever movie was playing.  Every time Jamie would speak, it would be in the average 3-year old manner.  He would yell, point out whatever caught his eye and project that at Sam.  Once Jamie realized he was getting on Sam’s nerves, he kept at it.  Jamie was in heaven.  Sam was not.  What Sam didn’t realize was that Jamie was so happy to just have someone sitting next to him.  Jamie began to talk about breakfast.  Sam replies that he ate breakfast and wanted Jamie to stop so he could watch the movie.  In classic baby brother fashion, Jamie exclaims in the most demonic voice I’ve heard “You can never eat breakfast!”  Sam is now livid, wants to prove him wrong and discusses with his father who says, Sam, “he’s 3, and we know you’ve eaten breakfast today.”  Jamie says again, “You never eat breakfast!!”  Sam’s Dad again says “he’s 3 and not making sense.”  We are laughing hysterically when we hear Jamie’s response…. “YOU CAN NEVER MAKE SENSE!!!!”

 

Writing this blog has been so much fun.  I felt pressure to produce but only from myself.  I certainly didn’t have readers begging for more.  I started out writing a few times a week and the first few years went pretty well.  I found that the more I wrote, the more I wanted to read and research.  That served me well until I was reading so many blogs, that I realized there were many more motivated writers out there.  They had motivations such as money, fame, employment.  I always touted my blog as an avenue to share stories and pictures with family and friends out-of-state.  Now it serves as an online chronicle of our 5 year journey in North Carolina.

Early on in my writing, I was having a tough time adjusting to my new role; my new life.  I recall writing about people who influenced my posts.  I remember adding full names of friends that were important to me.  I stand by that, I love those people.  The following day I noticed I had more hits than usual which was kind of exciting, something like 200+ views (that was a high number for me).  It turns out, because I had these full names in my post, the hits were from googling these names.  They were potential employers, friends, stalkers maybe?  That post was a good example of when I would get down on myself for what I wrote.

Another instance was 2 years ago writing a top 10 list on how things have changed since my 20 year high school reunion.  I was unable to attend due to the distance, but I was excited to read Facebook updates and hear of people who I definitely hadn’t seen in 20 years. Through Facebook, I was able to reconnect with some former classmates, and I am thankful for that.  So what I did was I met a friend at a bar and sat at said bar and wrote my post, from my phone.  I got friends’ and the bartender’s take on what was written and in an altered state, I posted and shared.  Now I haven’t gone back to read it since, but I know that with something so important to me, I probably should have had my editor-in-chief review it first, my wife.  I don’t think it was that bad, I just felt that from a bar stool on my phone, may not have been the best place to write and I think that what I wrote was more from my current point of view at said bar than how I should have been reflecting on high school days and friends.  That point of view being a dingy bar, non-HD TV showing local news above a PBR, Natural Light and Bud Light taps above a cooler that had a crack in the glass.

I have had many successful posts, by my own judgment of course.  One that I was most proud of I have read recently, it was right after Jamie (my youngest) was born.  It was our scary experience of having Jamie born and put in the NICU.  That was a scary time but the blog was a much-needed distraction, it allowed me to chronicle our experience.  I recall my sister telling me that soon enough, this will all be a distant memory.  While it was hard to see little Jamie in that glass box, she was right.  Now he’s a completely happy and healthy 3-year old and a great addition that completed our family.

So, this is my last post.  Our family is moving back to Florida to be closer to family.  While it’s a nightmare to move, it’s also hard to say goodbye to friends.  Fortunately, we’re moving to a great place to visit.

I wouldn’t call my blog a success only because there are hundreds of thousands of blogs that are researched, written, visited and shared daily and I cannot remember when my last post was.  It has however been a great deal of fun and I found that I do still enjoy writing but don’t like my self-imposed deadlines.

Thank you so much to all who have read this today and in the past.  I am so grateful to my wife Kerry, my editor-in-chief, for encouraging me to start it and for keeping me from posting (most of my) stupid ideas.  Thanks to my Sister-in-Law Heather for tech support and to my friend Garett in North Carolina as my graphic designer.  Thanks also to my 3 sons for giving me endless material.

This has been so much fun and a great experience to be an NCDad.  I would continue as FLDad but as the kids age, so do I.  Recently I turned 40 so I’m no longer the young man I once was.  Plus, FLDad may not be as interesting, if you google Florida Man, you may find much more riveting material.  I plan on living there, but do not plan on becoming “Florida Man.”

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The New Year’s Challenge

1. Every time you log into Facebook, send a positive message to the person at the top of your news feed.

This can be public or private.

Today marks 1 week until Christmas, 2 weeks until New Year’s.

Everyone has their own ideas about how a new year should change but let’s take the initiative to propel us positively into the next year.

If you’re like me, you might check Facebook or your social media of choice about once a day….maybe more.

I tend to a little more frequently because of the holidays, because I want to stay connected and know about my friends’ lives no matter how distant the relationship is.

Here are the benefits to the challenge:

– it’s easy. There’s really only one step.

– it costs nothing

– it’s not like you were working anyway

– it counts as your good deed for the day and keeps you off the “naughty list”

– you’re not contributing to the negativity that were already
bombarded with. (Seriously, who cares what Kim Jong Kardashian is doing to James Franco?)

– I promise, nothing bad will happen to you if you don’t repost this or forward to 100 people and that Nigerian Prince will go on living without your personal account numbers.

Hopefully you will find your own benefits to this, reconnect with friends and start 2015 off in a positives way.

Happy Holidays from NCDads

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Why We Care About The Ice Bucket Challenge

Mom

Mom

This is written in the loving memory of my Mom, Diane Littlewood.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is important to many people. It’s not just a fad or a mechanism for over-glorified attention seeking behavior. It’s a way to show compassion, help others and spread hope to those with a deadly disease. It’s a way to remember those who have been taken too soon by a deadly disease.

I’ve heard radio DJ’s compare it to fads like planking and they wouldn’t participate because it was stupid. Shortly after they continued with the fart jokes and insults to continue their pursuit of popularity.

I’ve read criticisms that it’s a waste of water and an insult to 3rd clean drinking water. I’m okay with that rationale as I am not one who wastes water and try to instill those same values in my kids about not being wasteful.

One criticism that I’ve seen is that most people don’t know why they’re doing it, from what I’ve seen, the speeches given in the videos explain why they’re involved and many videos tell of a link to someone with the disease.  If these people didn’t know why they were doing it to begin with, they do now from how widespread this has become.

With increased marketing of this challenge over the past two weeks on Facebook, the NFL and other media coverage, I’ve had an opportunity to remember my Mom more often. I’ve been enjoying it and appreciative for the silly premise that has not only improved public awareness for ALS, but has also generated increasing revenue for research and cure development.

Did you know that it’s been almost twenty-five years since my Mom lost her life to ALS? With all new medical advancements and medications for disease management, we still know very little about ALS. For those of us who have witnessed loved ones struggle with this disease, we know how crippling it can be and what a challenge it is to provide love and care to those struggling.

From age 10-14 I watched ALS progress through my amazing Mother. At first, her motor skills would show deterioration, then speech, walking and communication was difficult. Eventually, she was confined to a wheel chair. Then, she needed something to help hold her head up as her neck was too weak to do it and had a few devices available to her to help her communicate with us. Eventually she was completely immobilized, unresponsive and it was her time.

That’s the very short version of her battle with ALS. Today, I want to spend more time writing to celebrate her life. She was an amazing Mom, not defined by the disease that ultimately took her life. She’s why I am the person I am today. I talk to my kids about my Mom as much as they ask. They know she’s in heaven and that she had been very sick.

There is an ALS walk every year that we participate in and help raise money for the search for a cure. Kerry’s family in Wisconsin also participate in honor of my Mom (Thanks for organizing, Diane!). It is hard to see people at this walk who have the disease, especially after everything my Mom and my family went through so many years ago. However, I find a great deal of solace knowing that awareness is raised and funds are collected to help other people afflicted with ALS and also help their families celebrate them. There is technology and methods of care and comfort that did not exist during my Mom’s battle, but are now available because of the contributions of support and funding for research on this disease.

In the past 2 weeks, there has been almost $10million raised for ALS and it has been awesome for me to read about it every day and watch these videos of friends that support something that’s been held dear to my heart for most of my life. Whether they knew it was important to me or not, they are doing something great by participating and following through to donate. The rush of freezing water over their heads is just a bonus.

To be honest, the trigger for me to write about this was all the naysayers that I read on Facebook, saying they don’t care about this challenge. In fact, one of my young family members posted that “Even Lou Gehrig is sick of the Ice Bucket Challenge.” That hurt, although I’m sure that my young cousin barely remembers my Mom. As I called him out for his comment, I wondered what a 20something was doing on Facebook anyway and hoped to educate him on the importance of raising awareness and money for this disease is for our entire family.

We use social media to promote what we care about. If there is something that is very prevalent in our news feed, we may have an opinion about it and tend to be negative about it if it’s not important to us. We all have the things we care about and eventually you’re going to see something that affects us personally like this has for me. Whether it’s Cancer, suicide, poverty, famine, Diabetes, etc. as we age, we’re all going to have things like this that we see will press our buttons. It’s important that we be respectful and educate, instead of berate and turn our backs or noses up on things we don’t understand.

One thing I recalled was a video where a father was holding his son and said he wasn’t a fan of the Ice Bucket Challenge but rather he wanted to challenge men to be fathers to their children. I thought this was clever and another important issue for me personally. I totally agree that Men need to be in their children’s lives…..and that they should dump icy water over their heads.

So as of now, I haven’t done the Challenge yet, but I will. I do hope that everyone who does it donates as it is not necessarily tracked. Either way, it’s raised awareness and will continue to do so.

So my challenge is this, before you go negative (which is something we all say we hate) educate yourself and realize this is just about helping people and if you don’t agree with it, DON’T DUMP ICE WATER ON YOUR HEAD, more importantly, STOP WATCHING THE VIDEOS!

Those with ALS are having a tough time (that’s an understatement) and it only gets worse with time and it will ultimately take their life. Right now they’re in the spotlight for the first time I can remember. Do they care if I dump water on my head? Probably not. They do care that money and awareness is being raised to help them.

It is great that the NFL is involved.  The Challenge is also spread to other major league sports and celebrities as well.  For an awesome cause.  Yesterday I saw a video of Charlie Sheen dumping a bucket of money on his head that he is to donate.  Awesome, as it is very important to know that the disease does not discriminate by race, color, class; it is something that can come after anyone.

Guys, this is so important,

• The cost to develop a new drug to treat ALS is $1-2 Billion.

• There are as many as 30,000 Americans currently affected by the disease.

• People may live from 5-20 years with the disease (this is much longer than my Mom had and their quality of life is much better today with the technology that is now available because of people caring about dumping water on their heads).

The bottom line is we have to take care of each other and whatever our “First World Problems” are, compassion, empathy and love are paramount.

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sfsUntitled

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Like, totally.

Like, I think the present has overtaken the 80’s in how often we use the word “like.”
Like maybe the 80’s were foreshadowing to the present.
Like if you agree.

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Happy Cinqo De Drinko

060Happy Cinqo De Mayo!

Here are a few things to ponder that have nothing to do with Mexican Independence…..

Why are peas always better in Chinese food?

The guy who invented dental floss must have eaten a lot of celery.

My favorite McNugget is the one that is shaped like, tastes like and is made from a boot.  Thanks Mcdonald’s.  I hate you and your cheap, plastic, awesome toys.

I was the first kid to use the word Dope out of context but was quick enough to follow it up with “That was dope!”Untitled

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From the Desk of NCDads

UntitledI’m petitioning the Stay at Home Dad community to change our title. Please refer to me now as a Hawaiian Shirt Collared Worker.

I enjoy my job and get many compliments.  I appreciate it but spending this much time with my kids is a full-time job.  These are some big flip-flops to fill.

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Crib Notes

I’m adding this new category to the blog, one that will probably be used more in an effort to add more short entries while avoiding using just Facebook or Twitter.  These entries will not include pictures of my kids but rather how I deal with them.  Or maybe I’ll just write more of whatever I feel like.  Maybe there will be pictures.  That sounds like the plan.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy!

 

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In Loving Memory of Mom

Mom

Mom

This Saturday is the Walk to Defeat ALS.  My family and I will walk with hundreds of others in an effort to raise money and awareness for ALS.  ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease took my Mother’s life in 1989.  My Mother was a great woman.  She was always happy and positive in any given situation and I credit my demeanor to her and I hope to pass on that love to my kids.  I talk to my kids about their Grandmother but not as often as I should.  Fortunately, this Walk brings up quite a few memories of Mom that I can share with my boys.  That and house cleaning leads me to find family pictures to share with them.

My Wife discovered the Walk in Florida about 9 years ago and we have been doing it each year since.  She also gets her positive attitude and giving spirit from her Mother who actually does the Walk in Milwaukee because of my Mother, someone she’s never met and has no connection to ALS other than my family.  I am in awe of the way they both show empathy and selflessness in everything they do, especially when it comes to family.  I wrote something on the subject last year.

http://ncdads.org/2013/10/14/like-mother-like-daughter/

Walk day, 4/12/2014, is my Wife’s birthday.  We have a fun day planned for her starting with the Walk to Defeat ALS.  The weather has been great and after the coldest Winter I can remember in 30 years, we are excited to get back into doing things outside without needing to dress the kids for sledding.

If you can, please donate  http://web.alsa.org/site/TR/Walks/NorthCarolina?px=2953745&pg=personal&fr_id=9723 or to ALS.org directly.  I was 14 years old when my Mom passed away.  While there is no cure today, there is research that is being done that gets us closer to a cure and innovative ways of how to care for those battling the disease and ways to make life easier at a time when ALS makes life so hard.

Thank you

For reading and for your patience, as it has been a few months since my last post.

Special Thanks

To Garrett Bissonnette for the amazing artwork, he is responsible for the new header and logo of the site.

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From Boys To Men

This video really spoke to me when I first saw it.  I’ve watched it 3 times and for an internet video, I never really watch more than once as things we find on the internet need to be taken with a gargantuan grain of salt.  I’ve thought about this subject matter in reflection of my own life, insecurities and dealing with people, but more importantly, how my wife and I are raising our 3 boys.

Please click the link below and watch the attached video….

http://www.upworthy.com/theres-something-absolutely-wrong-with-what-we-do-to-boys-before-they-grow-into-men

It’s so true that we are asked repeatedly as men, boys, to sack up, man up, push down our feelings and not give it a second thought.  That is really harmful and I think it’s worse in the U.S. because of our constant inflating and deflating of our egos.

As a father, I’m totally guilty of it.  I hear crying, whining, complaining and irrational venting.  I respond by yelling, sending kids to their rooms, time-out, deny them treats, take away toys, basically anything I can think of but draw the line at violence.  They’re not always wrong, but if I don’t scold them, then they’re given the impression that their behavior is okay.  To be specific, today, playing outside, Andy was bursting into tears at every little thing, his helmet was too tight, his bike wouldn’t go as he was trying to pedal up a slope.  This is a new bike and new helmet, so we just had to make adjustments.  My thinking is, let’s just discuss it, Andy needs to ask for help; yes he’s got to calm down and ask nicely and be polite.  This is just today between 4pm-5pm, to be fair, his brothers also had their times today and I have to remind myself that they’re kids, constantly learning and testing to see what they can get away with.  One of my most difficult tasks as a Dad is I’m always looking for rationality from irrational brains.

I definitely have many fears about the future for my kids.  I want to make sure that I convey the importance of talking about things that might seem petty, but important, no less, to my children.   Mental health is an issue that has been misunderstood, misdiagnosed and ignored for too long.  We as a society need to change that and it starts at home.  If our kids are not shown love and understanding, then they will never know a how to give love and understanding.

I am always trying to remember what it was like to be a kid as I watch my own.  My previous comment about the future relates to exactly that.  I can’t imagine being a kid today, from technology to the way technology is manipulated to exploit and endanger is hard for me to grasp.  I’ve been needing to change the settings on the iPads as AJ searches online for videos relating to Scooby Doo and Skylanders Giants, but general searches could lead him anywhere.  I was told that having no restrictions on Internet searches is like sending them out alone at night in NYC.  My kids could handle it, but I wouldn’t want them to have to do it.

When I talk about the future of my kids, I am trying to remember middle school and high school, but I should probably include elementary school as well as our kids are exposed to so much more real life, earlier in life.  They are also exposed to so much more that is not real and they need guidance, preferably parental.  When I was in middle school, I had awful friends and I changed that in high school.  While I was still an immature kid, I also learned that it was important to have friends that build you up and to do the same for them, as I think that as a teenage boy, it was in our nature to cut each other down.  That is so important to building relationships, whether it’s with teachers, peers, bosses or family members.  We have to be good to each other.  Many of us are on Facebook (or whatever social media you choose) every day and our interactions since not face to face, are not 100% genuine.  We post what we want people to perceive about us and if someone does us wrong, it’s so much easier to call them out on it from behind the laptop screen. That’s one reason cyber-bullying has become such an issue in recent years. There is no fear of consequences as kids don’t see the repercussions of their actions immediately and need something drastic to happen to make them realize that the internet can be damaging and permanent.

fb 1There are 1000’s of tangents that could lead into lengthy discussions but the bottom line here is that we cannot act surprised by our kids’ actions if we’re the ones shaping them.  Kids are so impressionable. They will go through things we will never understand. It is important that we as parents are the ones that give them the strongest positive influences. Kids learn through our modeling. It is important that we are aware of how behavior influences them. We have to make an effort to spend quality time to get to know who our kids really are and make them feel comfortable enough for them to show us.

**All of the attached media in this post was found at the George Takei Fan Page on Facebook, with a link to the attached video at www.upworthy.org, both are highly recommended and I give 2 enthusiastic thumbs up.  Thanks George!

 

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