Friday, August 5, 2016

Together is my favorite place to be...

Today is August 5th, 2016 and the picture below is of my best friend, my partner in life, my everything, my wife - Rebecca Joy. 

You see when I was a little boy I walked into school one day and was immediately overwhelmed by the cuteness of this little girl with her long braided hair. I may not have understood at that moment how deep my feeling ran as I was just a little boy myself but I knew she was the girl of dreams.

My childhood came and went and before I knew it I was graduating high school and while she may not have been ready to date me at that moment, I was grateful to have that little girl from so many years ago as my friend.

Rebecca, I can still remember the details of how we became a couple, the moment I asked your parents permission to date, our first kiss, what you were wearing on our first date and so many of the moments between then and now. You see, while I may enjoy my quiet time alone, guys night out, or hanging with our kids, my favorite times in life are the moments that I get to spend with you - my wife.

21 years ago today I made one of the best decisions I could have have made, I said "I do." I promised to love you in good times and bad, in sickness and in health till death due us part and its a promise I never intend to break.

Rebecca, Over the years we have expanded our titles from husband and wife to include parents, mom and dad. I am grateful for the years we had to grow together before we started our family but I am forever amazed when I reflect back on both of your pregnancies and how beautiful you were as our children grew in your womb. I am sure the kids feel as blessed to have you as their mother as I do to have you as my wife. Over the years I feel that we have had a life and a relationship together that would make others envious. Yes, there were moments where we struggled and may not have had enough money to do the things we wanted. Despite those moments I can look back and say that I love our life together and the fact that we always found a way to have fun and make the best of each and every moment.

The past couple years we have been blessed to spend time together doing things I would never have imagined we would do and in places I never dreamed I would get to go. The vacations are always fun but only because I have you by my side to experience them with me.

Together is my favorite place to be, it doesn't matter if we are on vacation on an exotic island or browsing the isles of the local grocery store, I love every moment we spend together!

We have grown together and have morphed each other into the people we are now. I have learned to be a little more behaved while in public and you are no longer the shy girl by my side. I remember how nervous we both were that first night together as husband and wife when it finally sank in that we were starting a journey of our own. Over the years you have stood by me when times were tough, you cared for me through times of sickness. You have been an encouragement to me when life gets me down and on many occasions a voice of reason. I am thankful to have you as my partner in all I do. You may not have ever imagined 21 years ago that you would have ended up raising chickens or that you would have helped drag deer out of the woods on multiple occasions and then process said deer to feed our family with. Despite never imagining it you can say that you have done those things and you did them well. You have stepped up to the challenge each and every time and shown us all what a strong and amazing woman you are.

 Over the years we have seen friends come and go and while it hurts to think of how some people have taken advantage of you and treated you poorly I want you to know if nobody else wanted to bother with us I would be happy to have the company of you and you alone. You are my best friend, my lover, my wife and I look forward to sharing another 21 years of marriage together and many, many more after that!

Thank you for choosing me to be the man who gets to walk through this life with you hand in hand. I love you with all my heart and I hope you know each and every day how much you mean to me. I hope every single day that goes by you feel loved and know that I couldn't get through this journey without you. Thank you for being the cornerstone of our family. I hope that things continue to get easier during the next 21 years and that we can afford much more time of relaxation together. No matter what the next 21 years have in store for us I want you to know that as long as you are by my side they will be great and  I will cherish each and every moment spent together. I love you with all my heart, Happy Anniversary!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

In the Blink of an Eye...

I sit here wondering how it all happened so fast. My firstborn, my baby girl, my favorite daughter is now an adult. It seems like in a blink of an eye she has gone from being the little baby to a grown woman.

As I drove into Boston this morning as the sun was rising over the rolling hills of the Massachusetts turnpike I realized that 18 years ago at almost the same moment I was driving home from the hospital as a father for the very first time. Much like today I was short on sleep but couldn't wait to get to work on the sheet of plywood I had put aside just for that very day.

I was proud to let our neighborhood know that she was finally here, that I was finally able to look into her eyes, hold her tiny hands as well as hug and kiss her, She was my little miracle.

She was perfect in every way! At the time I couldn't wait for her to grow as I had dreams of hunting and fishing together, little did I know that in the blink of an eye I would give it all to slow the past 18 years down so I could enjoy those moments even longer. Today my baby turned 18, while I don't expect her to instantly change into an adult I have to face that fact that my baby is no longer a child. A fact that became a reality to me last weekend when we celebrated her completion of high school and announced that she had officially graduated, top of her class I might add too!

Over the years we have made some great memories and I am grateful for every moment. The past 18 years have been a learning experience for both of us. It was my first time raising a child and why I may not have always done things right but I tried to do them the best I knew how. The fact that I get to celebrate with my baby on her 18th birthday is a milestone for me as well considering my dad didn't live long enough to celebrate my 18th birthday with me. Much like my dad though I have spent countless hours with my daughter doing the things I loved together and while I don't know if Ariel will always want to carry on our traditions I am grateful that she shared so many of them with me so far.

As I said earlier I dreamed of the days we would get to hunt and fish together. I knew that having a little girl might mean she didn't want to do these things and that I may have to settle for playing barbies or sitting around a tiny table having tea parties, something that I would have loved just as much. Thankfully as soon as she could walk and talk she would be waiting for me when I came home from my outdoor adventures wanting to see what I had and help with the processing of whatever game I was going to feed us. It was no surprise to anyone who knew us that I was taking her out to my deer blind when she was only 3 years old. It wasn't about hunting at that point it was about spending time with my daughter and watching wildlife that most kids her age only saw in picture books or zoos.

My dreams of hunting and fishing together became reality and before I knew it I watched Ariel catch her first trout out of the rapids in a brook, a memory that is a family favorite due to all the other things that happened on that trip, ask me about it in person some time and I will be more than glad to tell you the story. I had a fishing goddess for a daughter! It didn't take her long to start outfishing the boys and even less time for her to feel more then comfortable trash talking while doing it - another story that is probably better told by Tony! As you can see below there are no fish tales when it comes to Ariel, especially out on the ice!

If she didn't amaze me enough with her skill as a fishermen (or should I say fisherwoman) it didn't take long for her to amaze me with her skills in the field and woods. She was a natural when it came to swinging a shotgun and an even better shot with a rifle. Something she proved when she earned her shooting award through BSA Venturing. An award she earned with style by outperforming her firearms instructor on multiple outings, Ya, you could say I am a proud father!

Hunting has always been an emotional activity for me and I am grateful for moments shared with high fives and smiles as well as the tearful hugs in thanksgiving for a life given to sustain us.

Don't get me wrong, Ariel may seem like a tomboy from what I have said so far but trust me she is all girl. She loved her dolls, pink dresses and cute fluffy animals but at the same time she had no hesitation to chasing snakes and toads around the yard with her dear o'l dad.

Over the past 18 years we have made lots of memories each of them special in their own way but I have to say the past few years we have got to do some things together that for me as a kid were only a dream. Together as a family we explored the Island of Bermuda multiple times as well as many of the Caribbean Islands earlier this year.

We learned together that I enjoy taking selfies more than the average teenie bopper and I am good at doing it with style!

Ariel taught me that there is more than heavy metal, 80's rock and old school country music by convincing me to take her to see some of her favorite artist. A lesson that she may regret as now she is stuck with taking me along to all her concerts. At least I find fun places to eat when we are in the city.

Life growing up raising a child isn't always fun and games though, you see there comes a time when said child reaches the age when they want to start spreading their wings and find some independence which means that a bicycle isn't good enough anymore, they want to drive a car! Thankfully I work a lot so Rebecca had to take the first rides of terror but not long after I finally stepped into the role of a teacher and buckled into the passengers seat. Now I don't want to pat myself on the back but I think one of my greatest accomplishments since loosing my hair was teaching Ariel how to drive. I know I didn't do it alone but I think we had fun and had some pretty good lunches along the was as well. 

 So here I am sitting down thinking about the reality that my daughter is beginning the next journey of her life. A journey that may start out slowly but before you know it life will be totally different, much like it has changed in the past 18 years for both of us. I don't know what the next 18 years have in store but I hope and pray that each and every day we wake up thankful for the chance to make it a story everyone want to hear about which is how I feel looking back on the past 18 years.


     I know I may have been rambling as I shared some of the brief moments we have shared together but I want you to know I cherish the fact that you are my daughter. You have your mothers beauty and your fathers hardheadedness, your devotion and your fathers aim. You have experienced grief, you have experienced love, you have been hurt and you have comforted others. I know there are days when it seems like its not worth getting out of bed but I want you to know that each day I see you beautiful face I am reminded how truly lucky and blessed I am. I hope that the next 18 years of life are nothing but good but the reality is in life there are hard times too. I hope you know that in good times and bad I love you, I am proud to call you daughter and now that you are growing up I look forward to calling you friend as well. I will always be your dad and you will always make me proud to call you Daughter. Happy 18th Birthday and I look forward to celebrating many more with you. I love you always and forever.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Reflections of a year gone by...

2015 isn't quite over but I am looking forward to 2016. The past 12 months have had their ups and downs but as I write this I smile as I am focused on all good things that made 2015 what it was. 

My year started out fast and furious with me commuting back and forth to upstate NY every day for almost 3 months. I am very grateful to have a job, especially one that affords me all my wants and needs but there are times when the stress and hours make me wish I was either wealthy or retired already! My year started out on a big work project and it is ending on another which is why I decided to write today while I had a moment, rather then waiting till another year had passed me by.

After three months of long commutes I was ready for some relaxation and we decided to splurge when we got an offer that was too good to pass up. I have become quite fond of cruising and the turquoise waters surrounding the island of Bermuda. Although I have gone on two other cruises this time was different, as I said earlier we decided to splurge and boy, oh boy was it worth it! We booked the family / penthouse suite and were pampered like kings and queens. The down side is I don't think I ever want to go back to a normal balcony room so once again it's a good thing I have the job I do so I can save every penny possible before our next adventure on the high seas!

Ariel & Alex's annual tradition while leaving port!
The Beautiful Pink Sand
Bermuda Longtail - I am mesmerized by their beauty
My Happy Place, just past the famous Horseshoe Bay
 I love the time spent in the rolling waves of the ocean, the food and drinks, the shows and of course the island but the time spent with family away from life's cares, concerns and distractions is the reason I love it and can't wait to take everyone on another adventure as soon as possible.

This year I was forced to come to grips that my children are growing up. I watched them go through the struggles of adolescence during which they learned life long lessons about adults, friends and enemies as well as a lot about themselves. The highlight of these life lessons is they had a family to lean on during them. One lesson I always try to impress upon my children is that friends come and go but family is family forever. 

I think one of the harder memories of this year was saying goodbye to my Mom and Roger when they moved to Florida. On one hand I felt alone but on the other I was thankful to have people like my cousins Mert and Bert and my cousin Kim to lean on as well as my wife, kids and In-laws (although I hate that term and I always introduce Chuck and Gay as my Dad and Mom.)

As I said my kids are growing up and Ariel went out and got her first job at Dunkin' Donuts which is fitting considering our families love of the beautiful roasted bean.

She also started working towards getting her drivers license which is much more involved then it was when I went through the process. Thankfully she passed her written test and is now putting some miles under her belt with her learners permit. Rebecca has been the one coaching her but I had a break in my work schedule the other day and I got to spend 2 hours in the passengers seat while she chauffeured me around the surrounding towns.

Ariel has continued her love of music and art both of which have continued to flourish this year. In 2015 along with her love of the piano she taught herself how to play the ukulele, began learning the cello and found a mentor at a local art studio. Sandra has not only helped Ariel hone her art skills but she convinced Ariel to share her beauty with the world by being a sit in model. 

Ariel becoming Art as a model
2015 was a year full of music for the whole family which included me jumping into the mix. I have always loved music, making it, singing it and of course listening to it. I decided that I wanted to prove the saying "you can't teach and old dog new tricks" wrong and picked up a bass guitar. I have been amazed at the methods Alex's guitar teacher used and love watching him hone his talent while encouraging him along the way. I decided I wanted to give it a go and have been pleased with the knowledge Jeff has passed on and can't wait for my work schedule to lighten up so I can get back into the groove of things and pick back up where we left off last month. 

This year my best friend and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. I honestly have to say that my greatest success in life is convincing Rebecca to marry me!

 She has stuck by my in sickness and in health, in good times and bad and now I just need to prolong the till death do us part as long as possible! 

The past 24 years have gone by in what seems to be the blink of an eye but I couldn't imagine a single moment with her by my side. This past year I have experienced people come and go that I thought were friends our family and although I am disappointed about how things turned out I am not really upset when I realize that my family are the only people that I really need.

Were riding the bus to crazy town together as a family!
As I was going through pictures from the past 12 months I realized how much Alex has changed. I have watched him grow from a little baby into a young man who is now as tall as me and reminds me of myself when I was his age. 

I have enjoyed the developing a father son relationship with my boy. For the longest time I felt like we didn't have anything in common but the past year has been a learning experience for us both. I was able to take him with me during a week of work in Maine which allowed us both to spend some time with my cousins Rick and Lynne. I am proud of how much he has excelled with his guitar playing and the fact that he has started to step out of his comfort zone which has opened the door to new band opportunities and friendships. I think the highlight of firsts this year was getting the opportunity to watch Alex harvest his first deer.

I have written about my love of hunting and the memories I have spending time with my Dad as a kid hanging out in the woods. I will cherish the memories I have of hunting and fishing with Ariel as she was my original partner in crime way back when she still liked wearing pink princess clothing and I am thankful that Alex has joined us in our pursuit of the great outdoors.

The next step of our journey will begin on 12/23/15 when we pick up our newest family member - Tiberius, the Doberman Puppy! I honestly never thought I would open my heart to another dog but I was wrong and while I miss Goliath and Navarre every day I am ready to feel the love of a new fur baby. 

As the sun sets in the Bermuda Triangle I can't help reflect on the fact that even though there are moments that make you feel like the weight of the world is upon your shoulders throughout the year they were just that, moments! I have so much to be thankful for and look forward to embracing 2016 with open arms. I know the year will be full of firsts for me and my family but together we will work through them and when the sun comes back up we will look back and remember the lessons learned and smile as we reflect upon the good memories of our life as we lived it day by day!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The next up and coming green giant...

My job has been very demanding as usual but I wanted to give an update on the gardens progress. It has been 10 days since I finished seeding the hydroponic system and I am happy to report that everything has sprouted! 

I managed to snap a few pictures with my cellphone the other day in anticipation of writing this post! The parsley and cilantro had us worried because they took so long to germinate but after doing a little research we are way ahead of schedule as they can take 2-3 weeks to sprout under normal conditions! The hydroponic gardens are filled with lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, radishes, bok choy, beets, green onions, parsley and cilantro. 

I am especially excited about the beets, they are one of my favorite root vegetables and I love the greens both raw and steamed! 

Despite the area bear emptying out the bin once already the potatoes that he didn't find seem to be growing in the mulch and compost. It looks like the muskmelon seeds I threw in last week have sprouted too as well as the celery bottoms I tucked along the edges. I am leaving this all to do its own thing so I will be curious to see how things turn out!

The raised bed garden has started to take off as well, I am hoping to get some deer netting this week as I have a large doe that seems to like stopping by every now and again for her fix of tomato greens.

The peppers have begun producing and I will be harvesting this yummy serrano chile as I don't think I can stand to wait for it to turn red - I am sure there will be plenty more in the coming weeks.

The zucchini plants have quadrupled in size and with some sunshine I think we will be blessed with blossoms for frying and yummy green squash before too long

All the rain we have been blessed with has made it care free for watering but I am looking forward to some warm sunshine to get these sweet fruits ripened so I can begin snacking on them daily!

Last year we grew some dill and much to our surprise we found it had seeded itself in the deck planters for this year - I
 love free food!  

Some of the basil we planted in the deck benches

Organic cilantro we picked up at whole foods and decided to plant so we would have some to harvest while waiting for the hydroponics. I am amazed at how well it is filling out.