Sunday, January 10, 2010


So here I sit, boys just tucked in, plants all around me trying to keep them out of the cold, wanting to avoid bills, listening to a new double CD of Michael Jackson called This is It that's excellent, followed by 10,000 Maniacs Live, a double live CD of Sister Hazel, and probably my all-time favorite album (damn I'm old I still call them albums! --- that would be like my kids calling them VHS or Atari) Counting Crows August and Everything After. Isn't everything after August the best time of year anyway? I think so as that's when the heat starts to let up here and right now a little heat wouldn't hurt. We are in the midst of the longest cold snap I can ever remember in my 25 years of living in FLA (It's funny because I still say I'm from New England even though it's been over a quarter century since I lived there --- maybe it's because except for the Noles that's where all my sports allegiances lie or because most of my family still lives there) and tonight is supposed to be the coldest night of the year. The Pats were absolutely crushed today by a much better Ravens team. I hate to say it but I think the dynasty is coming to an end. We have the wrong mix of young and old right now and Wes Welker getting hurt was the final blow.

This is always the toughest part of every day. Sitting alone in the quiet except for Michael singing. I often get on the phone and talk to some friends/relatives to not feel so lonely, get things done from work to the house to bills (still avoiding because this blog is so much more important right now). I still almost never watch TV except for a few big sporting events so it's not like that's filling a void. The only TV shows I try not to miss are House and the Office. Family Guy is another favorite but I just don't seem to catch it as often as I'd like. I wish so much I could be like Hugh Laurie at work but that just doesn't seem to work for anyone but him. I'm thinking about picking up the cane and old school Nikes though. I know one of my top goals needs to be comfortable by myself and I think I've made huge strides. Hope used to tease me that I couldn't be alone with myself because even if I was in the car I'd be on the phone with her or someone. I actually enjoy now listening to the radio or CD's again instead of always being on the phone in the car. I just have this lonely feeling in my gut too often at night right now.

Some nights I have a couple/few glasses of wine and that seems to make it feel better, but I've been cutting way back on that lately. Self medicating is not the answer as much as it feels good. Someone I consider a very good friend even though I have a hard telling them that gave me a book called Post Secret - Confessions on Life, Death, and God. It is a collection of secrets revealed anonymously about life, death and god. My friend thought it could really help me relate to others. I've always tried to do the same with this blog, just put myself out there with the honest raw hard feelings I have. Some times I feel great, other times the blog is the only thing getting me through moment. I have a bottle of champagne sitting in my fridge right now left over from New Year's, so I'm waiting for the right moment to open it. But how sad is it to open it alone.? I thought about doing so 366 days after Hope's passing but by myself??? That adds to the loneliness, even the little things you want to share with someone.

Don't get me wrong, I love my boys and share everything with them. It's just that certain things are for taller people and I probably should cut back on the amount of alcohol they're drinking. My mom was single for 9 years, I'm not sure I can handle that. Nathan would be 16 and Reese 13, probably neither one of them excited about spending a lot of time with me at those ages. Right now they say things like, Dad did you know you are a superstud? Something tells me that will diminish in the future. I just read a friend's philosophy on teaching and it knocked my socks off. The passion you could feel in the writing about something that is honestly boring to most really got to me. The dedication she felt just oozed out of the essay like the Festivus episode on Seinfeld where they aired out grievances and showed feats of strength (Festivus for the rest of us was the line I remember best). I'm just not feeling that way about much anymore like I used to except of course the boys. I have my moments, but they are not sustained like they used to be.

It's been a while but I used to always ask for my old self back. I have me in spurts and feel so much more clear headed now I think I can find that inner drive when I need it but it's just not there as much as it used to be. Maybe I'm more drained becuase I am taking so much more on right now (that's what my psycho tells me --- for example I just don't get to come home once in a while and not tuck the boys in, or not cook dinner, or not do homework, or just take 10 minutes for myself until they're in bed). It's probably a combo and the size of my corpus callosum killing me right now as I want to figure it out. I find myself when at home checking e-mail or texts all the time when I'm even in the middle of something. In the past I would have been annoyed by such things but now I feel like I'm desperately seeking some interaction with others. It makes me sad that I'm not at the point yet hanging by myself is satisfying (don't get me wrong sometimes it is --- yeah I couldn't leave that one alone or myself for that matter --- damn there I go again) but maybe I won't. Either way I know I'm one lucky MF'er (that's old school not text shorthand) to have of course the boys but also so many loved ones be that friends or family. Sometimes my heart just flutters kind of like when you go over a steep hill or hit that drop on a rollercoaster when I think about the friends, family, teachers, etc. that are part of our lives. Other times are like, well like right now.

There's even a few of you out there that still read my painfully long blogs and then of course wish you could get the last 15 minutes of your life back. I love my boys, I love my friends and family, and I know I'm so lucky to have the life I have. Hopefully at some point I'll find someone to share it with. Maybe I have and I just don't realize they're it yet. I'm not always the fastest on the uptake. Well I was hoping to keep this blog shorter so I'll close with a couple of boy updates.

Natedog won his first basketball game 10-2 (almost a shutout) and the kids had an absolute blast most importantly. We've got 9 kids (5 play at a time) but they all had so much fun and were great. We may make a run this year, we've got an incredible team from what I can tell. Of course it all comes down to coaching (I wish, we've just got great kids!). I also just signed both boys up for spring soccer ($193 combined and signed up to coach both). I can't believe I'm going to try and do this again but I love coaching them so much I'll punish myself again with an impossible schedule. That should stave off some loneliness. I'm going to go pay bills and read others secrets about life, death and God. The first example I read was "I am a Southern Baptist Pastor's Wife. No one knows I don't believe in God." At least if I do find Ms. Right I won't be able to keep any secrets from her because it's all on the blog.

I e-mailed some friends this weekend two Jake Genius ideas of the day and it seemed to fall flat but I'll share them here right now anyway. I think I've blogged before about my idea for a restaurant where everything is served on a stick. I think it's genius and will take off. Burger King is now copying my idea with funnel cake on a stick. I'll have to add that to my menu but in the meantime just think about the possibilities. How much fun would spaghetti be on a stick, or healthier fare like bacon wrapped fried hot dogs which I hear is all the rave with rednecks right now. Eating off a stick just takes you back to your childhood and being a caveman or cavewoman or caveperson (I'll bet they never had to correct themselves back in their day). Who doesn't love that big freaking turkey leg you get for like $9 dollars at the fair? BTW for dinner tonight because we had a late lunch while watching the Pats gets stomped the boys both had two bananas each and popcorn. When putting my name on the father of the year plaque please use my middle name "is" (one more BTW was that I actually went through a short period when Hope was pregnant with Natedog that I wanted his middle name to be is, how cool would that have been? --- at least he would learn to fight at a young age).

My second idea is to play board games with squishies. You can play Sorry, Monopoly, Pachisi, Life, you name it with squishies (if you don't know what they are you don't have young children obviously --- they are basically little pencil topper animals that squish in your hands and my children have hundreds of them at $0.25 each). They don't play video games anymore at restaurants arcades, only the damn squishies. Andrea must have fed my kids $5 each this weekend because I keep finding them in crevices everywhere (not mine for the record, around the house silly). Alright this blog is long too, sorry about that Will. At least I'm not feeling lonely right now, but I am feeling like some flipsides or hummus along with that glass of grape juice I had avoided until now. Hope's been gone 368 days (but who's counting) and by the way my alarm has not acted up again since her 1 year anniversary night with virtually the same weather conditions every night. Nolan good luck with your surgery tomorrow on your arm, I can't wait for your sister to get here at 5:30 AM. It's the least I can do, your mom helped me more times then I could ever repay. I love you Roo, and Ann-Marie you too (note the correct spelling of your name --- don't get used to it!) for everything through 2008 much of 2009 but especially last Thursday. I am a lucky guy...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

One Year --- No more firsts!!!

Can you believe it's already been one year today since Hope left her lifeless cancer riddled body and flew free of anymore pain (unless of course she reads my blogs still then the pain continues) in her life that contained way too much for any single person on this earth only 36 years? Well the day started very strangely for the Wise boys. It was right at midnight (i.e. the day Hope passed away) last night when I was getting ready for bed except two teacher friends working on essays for an award they had a chance of winning (now please explain to me why when you're up for a major award as both of them are you have to write a five-page essay just for a chance to win? I think I would say thank you for the nomination but I'll just assume I'm not winning and save a couple evenings of my life for my kids, friends, video games, whatever!) that kept us texting. If any of you have been at our house we have an alarm system that beeps every time you open a door or window across the house or in our detached garage. It tells you "kitchen door open" or "upstairs window open" (that is how I'll keep my boys from sneaking out, but I'm sure they'll learn some type of bypass so they can sneak out like I did so many times growing up. I think walking the streets at 3 AM is a right of passage every growing boy should experience and if you can sneak into a girl's window or backdoor bonus. FTR that never happened with Hope and I just in case any relatives still read this --- of course her mom knows better).

Anywho, right at midnight one year from Hope's passing all of a sudden my alarm says "garage door open." Now I have a detached garage referenced earlier so it freaks me out. I'm thinking some homeless person is looking for a warm place to sleep because we are having record low temperatures (believe me I'm on top of this because of my poor plants that my neighbors call my other children --- I love them almost as much as my brother and his strange kinky coy pond in his backyard) or it's just a coked out mass murderer that can't tell the main house from the garage so he'll be at the back door soon (now please ladies don't be upset I assumed the mass murderer was a man, I know all too well that you can kill just as easily it's just over the course of a marraige with nagging that it normally occurs --- sorry that sexist remark was courtesy of Dennis just to get my mom all riled up). So I freaked out a bit and turned all my external lights on hoping to scare anyone away. Then I hear the "garage door open" again and start to really freak. I decided then to set my house alarm so opening any doors or windows would set off the very loud siren alarm and in a few minutes it goes off telling me someone opened a door again. I turned it off right away not wanting to wake the kids.

Now I'm needing to go check the garage to make sure nothing is up or if something is confront him but I won't leave the kids alone in the house. So I decide to wake up my neighbors on the coldest day of the year and Rich my new superhero is kind enough to wake up and come over in the cold. We search and find nothing at all so he goes back home. Two more times after he leaves the same message goes off, "garage door open." I'm now thinking it's some kind of short or other problem and this will go off all night so I'll never sleep. I can turn it off but just in case it's something real I don't want to. So I then decide to set the alarm one more time and if it happens again the alarm goes off hopefully scaring anyone off. This time though I'll just let it sound off and just let the kids know if they wake that everything is ok. Knowing this would happen because it had been doing so now for almost 90 minutes straight I decide to watch Family Guy DVR'd. It was the episode when Peter gets amnesia (I think every long-standing comedy show has to have an amnesia episode per FCC regulations) and so Lois teaches him about sex again. He likes it so much he brings home another woman and asks her to leave so they can enjoy this newfound sex thing. So she moves the kids out and ends up with their giggity-giggity neighbor Quagmire before Brian (the talking dog) goes back to Peter to help him fight to save their marriage only to find out that a chicken that he fights with all the time knocked his amnesia away about 3 days ago and he was liking the bachelor life (if that's not your typical Happy Days/Cosby Show sitcom I don't know what is).

You just have to love that freaking show!!! Anywho again, I watched the entire episode and nothing happened with the alarm. If it was a short, the wind, the cold or anything except a person it definitely would have gone off again. It could not have been a person because we searched everywhere possible. So unless someone has a better explanation since Hope promised to haunt me and it was at midnight exactly one year from her passing I can't imagine what else it could have been. Damn I'm too wordy telling a story, but I think it had to be Hope just letting me know she was here.

So I had no idea what to do with today. It's obviously not a celebration day like her birthday or Mother's Day. I decided to let the kids got to school and I went to work this morning. For lunch I met Hope's three best friends in Florida (Jen is her best friend outside of Florida no doubt) Man-Marie (sorry that nickname will always crack me up), Roo, and Cheryl for lunch. We stayed for a couple of hours telling old stories including many that took place in hospice or at our house between hospice visits and they ended it sharing a piece of chocolate cake in her honor. Ann-Marie and I then went to Taylor Park in Rockledge next to Wuesthoff hospital that had hospice in it where we spent a few different days walking during the toughest of times in 2008/2009. We have a brick paver carved with Hope and my name in it with our wedding date so we visited our brick (it was a present from Mom and Dennis when we got engaged while living in Rockledge in a duplex). We sat there on one of the coldest days of the year with the sun beating down on us like it was the middle of summer as we each pealed layers off just to keep cool. We could just feel Hope's presence as we must have talked and cried for an hour or more.

We then went our different ways and I drove past our old duplex in Rockledge and our first house in Viera. I then joined another friend Jon at one of her favorite places in the world Wickham Park where we spent more weekends then probably anywhere else except home hiking, playing soccer, frisbee golf, playgrounds, birthday parties, Christmas lights, boy scout camp, etc. I then went home and spent the rest of the night with the boys before I took Nathan to his basketball practice where I coached. As I tucked the boys in to bed (now remember every night we hold mommy's picture and tell her our favorite part of the day) we talked about what we missed most about mommy. Reese said her hair, hands, hugs, eyes, and love. Nathan completely independently said her love and hugs.

It's now 12:20 AM and Alabama just won the national championship (congrats Jen! and sorry all you Tebow lovers) which is where Hope grew up in her early teens. Tonight is basically the exact same weather conditions and wiring for that matter so I'm waiting for the alarm to go off. However, it's not still one year since Hope left her lifeless cancer riddled body so I don't think I'll hear it at all. I really hope not because my neighbors aren't home. The whole day I felt strange, again not mad, not too sad except for a couple of emotional moments, but just kind of numb going through the motions. Now that we've survived and at times thrived through the first year, there will be no more firsts without Hope! That's right, no more firsts in 2010!!! We have made it through her first birthday, mother's day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, anniversary of her death, groundhog day, and Tiffani Amber Thiesen's birthday so it can only get easier from here. I personally made it through without any huge gaffs I'm aware of like getting remarried, becoming gay and forgoing women, selling the house, business, or kids, etc. I think I've got my wits about me most of the time now and the fog has lifted. That feels good, the boys and I are in a groove.

What does this mean for 2010, who knows? I'm ready for anything, I've survived what I hope is the worst that can be thrown at me, our boys are doing so well I absolutely glow every time I think about them, and there will be no more firsts! I have to work tomorrow, the kids will go to school, the weather will stay cold, Nathan has his first basketball game Saturday, and my friends Shondra and Cheryl will celebrate their birthdays on Saturday. Our life, your lives, and the world will go on tomorrow like it's just another day. It's not for us, it's the first day we will no longer have any firsts without Hope. We will always love and miss her, she will never be forgotten as my wife, first love, and my children's mother, but I think everyday will make it a little easier. I hopefully am slowly not being THAT guy anymore, people aren't thinking as much before they speak around us, and we are just another single parent family making their way through the world as we know it. I think Hope visited me again last night because she promised to haunt me, the alarm tonight is still silent, and now that it's been one year I can hopefully make good decisions again. I love you like water Hope, one year later and that has not diminished. I am trying and will eventually move on, but you will always be my children's mom and the first love of my life. Despite their young age, you will never be forgotten by our boys and I am making sure of that.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Size Does Matter" - Quote from my family

Well I haven't blogged in quite some time and that's mainly due to our ridiculous schedule we've been keeping over the holidays. When you last tuned in I had my worst break down I have ever had on Thanksgiving night. It was much worse then when Eli Manning magically escaped the Pats' pass rush and then David Tyree caught the impossible pass to ruin their undefeated season. It was just a tiny bit worse then when I saw Daisy Duke in the Dukes of Hazzard reunion show, some memories need to not be impacted. Joe in my family explained that size does matter in an e-mail response to the last blog and that I shouldn't be upset when I don't understand things because my corpus callosum is smaller then in women's as studies show so us men are slower to catch on. In case you don't know the corpus callosum (ok I had to look it up) its the bundle of nerve pathways that connects the two sides of the brain. Now mine are further delayed by hops, barley, cabernet grapes, and hot sauces so I don't even have a chance to figure things out quickly. Please keep that in mind ladies when I'm not fully understanding (or distracted because you're talking while the game is on, a rerun of Saved by The Bell, or I'm trying to pretened I'm looking at only your eyes) your feelings because of my small cc (as I refer to it while texting). BTW, WTF is up w ur cc? U r slow.

Now a miniature sized version of our lives over the last 5 weeks. After Thanksgiving 6 friends all with kids went without short people to Gainesville to watch Bobby's last ever regular season game and Tebow's last home game (if you haven't seen me lately I'm still wearing the black eye goop under my eyes with hand picked bible passages --- I think Hope had one of those books in the house, at least I think we have a couple of real books in the house as I'm not 100% sure unless it's Star Wars Legos or my personal favorite snakes that will scare the potty out of your dad). We had an absolute blast and if it wasn't for me being quicker on the uptake we would have even stolen a stuffed animal mascot from a liquor store. If you don't believe that story e-mail me and I'll show you the picture. I am going to refrain from naming anyone so Judy does not get in any trouble (ah yes the same lap dance Judy that put me in my place on New Year's Eve by telling me I'd know it when she gives me a real lap dance). I love that only the married woman seem to show the most interest or at least find me as harmless as ever for good reason. We had to scalp tix but ended up with row 7 10-yard line seats at face value so it couldn't have been better. Maria got to go to her first college football game ever and I think she was more interested in the dog dressed in UF clothes then anything else but if you're a regular blog reader that won't surprise you. Thanks Whit and Ed for setting the whole thing up, your dad has an amazing place and I bought myself the same kitchen mat for Christmas because it feels almost like an orgasm in my legs every time I do dishes now. Anyone want me to wash your crystal? Please!!!

After that weekend Monday was Hope's birthday. I kept both kids out of school and we had a wonderful day at Hope's favorite them park Sea World followed by Lego Land and T-Rex restaurant at Downtown Disney. It was the perfect way to spend her birthday, just the three of us. I also had my parent/teacher conferences for both boys. I want to say so much more about them but I know teachers at the schools at least used to read the blog so let me just say I love Nathan's teacher's name and now know where it came from, and found out that Reese touches his penis too much at school. I know his teacher personally and we've even been out socially before as you may have previously read, so I quickly told her that we actually don't stop doing we just try not to be so obvious. So Reese is working on not touching his penis so much when people are paying attention. Otherwise both boys were given rave reviews and Nathan's teachers were funny in that they thought they'd have to give him so much extra attention and time to get things done but they've been thrilled that hasn't been the case at all. They come first no matter what I told them, it has to be that way.

Then I had just a crazy time trying to take care of presents, work, the boys, house, bills, etc. before our 9 day trip to New England from 18 Dec to 27 Dec followed by a week of brother Kurt staying with us in FLA. I was on my game with unbelievable help from Jamie, Traci, and Shelby at work. I bought and they wrapped/shipped all my gifts that were small before my trip, and anything big secretly made it's way under the tree while we were gone thanks to Gran. The boys wrote letters to Santa with their wish lists and letting him know they'd be in Maine. He found them big time including a DS game for each and filled up stockings. Our trip included meeting brother Kurt and his two kids (ages 16 and 10) at the airport where we had rented a Lincoln Navigator complete with heated and air conditioned seats that worked like my ass was sitting on a heating pad. We visited the following all before Christmas:
  • Brother Scott and his wife/two kids for my birthday which included tubing on a ski hill with a tow chain followed by 15 inches of snow that night and more sledding on a hill by their house with two jumps thanks to the plows as we went skidding across his road.
  • Then Stow Mass to see an Uncle Cliff/Aunt Lois, 5 cousins, great aunt Kitty (my favorite grammy's sister), and 2 nieces/2 nephews including new baby Trevor that was quite a load and we had a blast with. That included one of the most entertaining and unique Yankee gift swaps where only one person put all the gifts together --- it was really cool!
  • Then Westboro Mass to see the town we grew up in where cousin Keith put us up and put up with us for three nights in a row. It's amazing how much things like our old house, school, the graveyard we grew up playing in (thanks mom), old sledding hill etc. have actually shrank over the years. There must be some scientific explanation that Joe can give me since I'm so upset size matters all of a sudden.
  • Then Holliston Mass to see my sister, her mom and two sisters/one brother, my step mom and her husband in their almost 300 year old house that Paul Revere famously rode past yelling something about the British invasion --- yes the Beatles were arriving.
  • Then Framingham Mass to see my dad, 95 year old grandpa that still works and golfs (too damn bad my dad was adopted so you guessed it, I don't get any of his genes), and sister again. We spent the day catching up, eating, drinking, eating, drinking, and bowling. That night was highlighted by Nathan throwing up in the bathroom of the restaurant we ate dinner in (please keep in mind the previous winter trip up north he caught pneumonia and Reese was on a neutralizer so them getting sick again was my worst nightmare), said he felt better, then ate an ice cream sunday with no signs of wear.
  • Finally we went to Maine to see an enormous amount of family including aunt Renie/uncle Bruce, cousins Jess, Luke, Brad, with all of their spouses, multiple children apiece, and Jess's extended family that we love as much as our own (except Danielle after this trip and I'll explain why) including 4 more cousins with most of their spouses. There we had more snow, more fun, and our family Christmas that was unforgettable.
  • Christmas day Kurt had to leave with his two kids but we stayed a couple of more days.

A few details on the trip, my mom and Dennis joined us at the first two and last stops. On Christmas morning Nathan woke up first, collected all of the stockings, and then numbered them from youngest to oldest explaining that the youngest were the least patient and should open their stockings first. My aunt Renie was wearing a negligae (no idea how to spell that word) that revealed everything but she was wearing it over her jammies. My favorite present was the breathspray that said feel like a canadian, succumb to the dream, and had the goofiest white guy smiling on the box that I've ever seen. It was 6 degrees the first morning we woke up, we had two major snow storms while there, we borrowed a ton of clothes but just couldn't have had more fun. At every stop my boys were amazing, almost no complaints, playing with cousins everywhere they either didn't remember or hadn't met, had many nights of minimal sleep, and could not have made a dad prouder. They both said it was there best Christmas ever. Kurt's kids by the way were equally amazing with mine and everyone else. It's not easy at 16 and 10 to do the family trip thing. We gorged ourselves at every stop and my liver is still floating from that trip and the following week with my brother. I think New Year's Eve was our slowest night of indulging if that tells you anything --- I felt like Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas if that tells you anything, except I didn't get Elizabeth Shue.

Back to why I don't like Danielle anymore, any regular reader of the blog knows my cousin Jess adopted Maeve from China. Well it never dawned on me due to flawed math and family tree growing that somehow I'm now a great uncle. While I've always strived to be great I realized I was starting to get old now despite all my childish behavior and denials. I did turn 37 on this trip, still feel like I'm 20 though. I did have a few extremely difficult times the worst of which was on my birthday when I felt like I was having an anxiety or almost heart attack that night. My two bros talked me down and I was over it relatively quickly. Then came Christmas eve during one of the most wonderful family gatherings possible, I had to run off by myself where my cousin Luke caught up with me and really got me through some tough moments. On multiple evenings but especially Christmas night Uncle Bruce/Aunt Renie had some amazing conversations about Hope, life in general, and they really helped me get through some tough emotional times. Even Sunday morning the first time I got to visit with Jess/Joe alone, we only had a short amount of time but they were also so caring, loving and understanding when I needed it. I had a lot of great talks with so many others, but those in particular really stand out at my toughest times being a lot of firsts without Hope. Of course that was the entire reason behind the trip, to not be here!!!

Before I forget, I cannot thank so many people for sending us holiday cards. Please understand there was just no way I could do it for the 2nd year in a row but I so appreciate everyone that sent us one. I had one friend hand me there's a week late (no problem I understand a thing or two about being late) and another that arrived today called a new year's card. That's brilliant, I'll have to remember that trick. I have a ton of stories from my travels and FLA visit with my brother, many of which cannot be repeated in mixed company but my fave was our fishing trip with two of his buds from high school...

Against my better judgement I decided to tag along. Well we got out a few miles from where we put in and quickly found the shallowest section of the river with absolutely no fish. Our motor started overheating so we decided to fish for a while. After a couple of hours of killing brain cells (thank Hope it was a gorgeous day because otherwise I may have lost it) and catching nothing his buddy Brian that "borrowed" the boat finally decided we could not run the engine any longer. We tried to talk him into calling his buddy he "borrowed" the boat, trailer, and even truck from before we finally realized he had stolen it. So we saw a couple of vehicles on a dirt road north of KSC so we paddled over there as close as we could get where Kurt and I took our pants off and went ashore. We found a truck with three drunk teens inside (we did get our pants back on before then) and a completely full bed. They begrudgingly let us sit on the tool box in the back as they told us they were racing some friends. They then hauled ass down this dirt road as we held on for our lives over huge holes and hairpin turns while we braced our legs against a cooler and clutched the tool box beneath us. I kept yelling at Kurt, "tuck and roll when we're thrown!" At one point Kurt turned and tried to yell at them, "sorry but we're still here!" Somehow we made it back to the "borrowed" truck and trailer and drove it back.

That was the easy part. The rest consisted of falling into the river, making a makeshift coquina rock boat ramp that I still have cut up hands from, almost running out of gas, not eating the entire day, fearing the rusted bumper was going to be dragging behind us, and then for some reason going back to his bud's house that "borrowed" the boat/truck/trailer and meeting his neighbor that smelled worse then when Hope used to clean Cody's and Mocha's anal sacks. Now that's true love for a dog by the way. My favorite two quotes from the day were when I had my pants off and was getting off the boat before the tool box truck ride I turned back to Kurt's buds and said, "thanks guys always a pleasure catching up with Kurt's friends. So what are you doing tomorrow?" My second favorite was his bud that fell in the water and drove the "borrowed" truck back to his house only to start bitching about the driver's seat being all wet. He was still wearing the soaked shorts he fell into the water with and had burnt enough brain cells over the years that he didn't realize why the seat was wet. Any kids reading the blog don't do drugs and stay in school based on this story alone. That reminds me of another moment on our Mass trip when I saw a roofer in single digit degree weather, a really strong wind, on top of a 1:2 or steeper pitched roof when I turned to the 4 kids in the back of the Aviator and said that's why we tell you to stay in school kids.

Even though it's been a while I'll wrap this up. I think everyone loves favorite quotes from kids so I always try to remember my kids' for the blogs whenever I get to them. The first one was just this morning as we ate eggs, bagels, toast and bacon for breakfast (yes I am enjoying cooking now and have been accused of being a girl by many of which Shondra is the worst because I've also gotten into candles and my plants around the house --- all of which are currently wrapped in towels and sheets because we may have a freeze and I have to protect my other children that I nurture so) when Reese asked me, "if we switched brains would you no longer be colorblind and would you like chocolate?" I told him yes, and what a cool question that was. Then Nathan spoke up, "then you'd have Reese's brain and would have to go to school in pre-K. That would be hilarious Dad to see someone your size in pre-K." All I could think about was the parent/teacher conference when I couldn't even fit in the chair and of course Billy Madison.

Another time Nathan was flipping through a GQ magazine I had in the house (it was a gift from my sister just for the record --- although this one had Tom Brady on the cover and I've been further accused of being a girl or having a man crush on Tom but in my defense who wouldn't when you've got 3 rings and it should have been 4 along with being so damn attractive, ANYWHO) when he asked, "why do magazines have so many naked people in them because it seems inappropriate." I loved the words as I remember him saying them and then I explained that nakedness sells. I then asked him, "it got your attention didn't it?" Another night we were watching Where the Wild Things Are at the movies and Nathan and Reese kept saying Dad no handfuls because you take too much. Then Reese turned to me like he'd discovered Lego's for the first time and said, "only I can take handfuls because look at my small hands." I loved it, rationalization at its best at only 5 years old.

The one I remember the most was also from Reese just at a casual moment during the day, "I love you daddy more then anyone except Mommy but that's because she's dead and I miss her." I just cried and hugged him and said I hope you always love mommy more then me. He may not have any real memories of her but dammit he'll remember his mommy no matter what. As for me, I've had some tough times from Thanksgiving through even today. I was kind of bummed out today putting Christmas decs away because most of them have memories with Hope, pictures of Hope, or actually say Hope on them. Thursday this week is the one year anniversary of Hope's death. Nathan's basketball team that I'm coaching has practice, not sure if I'll be up for that. It's our last practice before our first game on Saturday so hopefully I'll be there. I gave myself one year before I made any changes of substance so stay tuned to see what I do or don't try. Nothing planned right now but I also have put many things off worrying I wasn't in the right state of mind yet.

This Thursday please take a moment to think about Hope. Think about how great it was that her soul left her broken down body that had no quality of life left in it, how amazing that moment was per my previous blogs as I was able to experience it with her, how she affected your life in the smallest ways or much bigger just appreciating life, her eyes filled with more life then any other person I've ever met except maybe Reese who has the same eyes, and then just for me as a special favor either call or go hug and kiss a little bit harder your closest loved ones. Think just for a moment what it would be like without them and appreciate so much what you have and what they give to you every day. We are doing great, we are loving life, but we miss Hope everyday and will especially on Thursday of this week. Hope you made me a better man and I'm doing my best to pass on all of your lessons to our boys. One year, it's been foggy and eye opening across the board. I feel like the luckiest man in the world and that's because of everything Hope gave me, mainly a lifetime of memories in only 20 years of being together but more importantly two amazing new souls that will always be with me. Those boys are my everything!!!

-Just Jake and sorry this was so long.