You Can Judge Me…

You can judge me…after I’m dead.

After my life has finished here on earth, by all means, judge away. However, I don’t want you to judge me by my accolades. Don’t judge me by the amount of trophies I won, or the amount of certifications I earned. Don’t judge me by my social status. Don’t judge me by my place of employment. Don’t judge me by the amount of hair left on my head, nor by the changed color of it.

After I’m dead, and you start your judgement, don’t judge me on whether or not I went to church. Don’t judge me on whether or not I finished college. Don’t judge me by the type of car I drove, or the house I lived in. Don’t judge me because I thought differently than you. Don’t judge me because our politics didn’t align. Don’t judge me because I talked differently than you. Don’t judge me because I got divorced. Don’t judge me for falling in love. Don’t judge me for falling out of love. Don’t judge me because I didn’t understand.

Don’t judge me because you’ve seen me drink in excess. Don’t judge me because you’ve seen me places I shouldn’t have been. Don’t judge me because I didn’t have as much money as others. Don’t judge me because I had more money than others. Don’t you dare judge me because of the way I looked. Don’t judge me because of the way I looked at you. Don’t judge me because I didn’t ask, and don’t judge me because I did.

This may seem like a fairly long list, and rest assured, it should definitely be a little more lengthy. However, the list is there for a reason. It’s there because like every one of you, I have a side that is not the prettiest. It’s not the most insightful. It’s not the most handsome. It’s still me, don’t get me wrong. Just be sure to understand, that it is not the only side of me.

As I’ve gotten older, and the years go by, I’ve learned a lot. That, you can be sure of. I’m still a work in progress as are each and every one of you reading this right now. I do have many things I’m proud of. Some of them are accomplishments. Some things I’m proud of are intangibles. You may not be able to see every side of me at once. In fact, you should consider yourself lucky if you catch the majority of them as I pass by your lives.

As far as accolades and trophies, you’re right—there’s not that many. I’ve earned a diploma, sure, and I’ve even received a few certifications in a few things after that. I’m not a wealthy individual, but I do work (a couple of jobs) to ensure I’m not in poverty. I’ve actually worked lots of jobs over the years, and I don’t regret a single one of them. I may not go to church every Sunday, but that does not mean I do not strive for what’s morally right in most cases. There have been times I’ve been fortunate enough to have a pretty decent car, and other times that I went months without one. There’s been times when I’ve lived in a nice house, and others where I was fortunate people cared enough to take me in.

I’ve fallen in love at last count at least 145 times—and that was just the first year of high school! I married young, divorced young, and didn’t learn a thing from it. I married a little older, divorced a little older, and learned lots from it. Am I happier now? Yeah, most of the time. I have been drunk. I have thrown up all over the side of a couple of my friend’s cars because of it. I’ve thrown up in my house because of it. Some of those times I was younger and thought nothing could phase me. The other times I was older and thought nothing could phase me.

I’ve been in numerous places I probably shouldn’t have been. If you saw me there, then before you judge, let me hold the mirror up for you. Sometimes I thought I was rich, when really I wasn’t. Sometimes I thought I was poor, when really I wasn’t. Either way, money is overrated, and I hate that we have to use it to get things. I’m all for going back to bartering for stuff. Sometimes in life, I’ve taken good photos. Like, really good ones. Ones that made me take a second glance, because that model looked a lot like me. Other times, I’ve taken some not so flattering ones. Especially recently. Maybe it’s because I’m gaining weight. Maybe it’s because my hairline is retreating inland like a hurricane is on its way in. Maybe it’s because now when I look at a picture it’s just “me.” That’s what I look like now. Life, in general, has made me look like this. “This,” by the way, is NOT like a model.

Anyways, back to this judgement people like to pass on towards others so much…Here’s what I’d like you to judge me on:


My kids. Judge me by THEM. Judge me by their kids. Rest assured, my life at some point in the last few years went from “me, me, me, me, me” to “I have to protect them, love them, be there for them, love them some more, study with them, teach them about boys (trust me, their moms don’t know the half of it like I do), and love them even more.



I have to teach them every single thing I know, both good and bad. I have to teach them to trust themselves, believe in themselves, and to be GOOD people. I have to teach them to reach inside their souls and find something, anything that they have a strong passion for, and to follow their dreams.


It’s such a thin line, we as parents toe each day, as we strive to LIVE through them. Watching them grow, watching them play, watching them learn, watching them argue, debate, cry, laugh, whatever it is.


It is my life. They are my life. They truly are my everything. And I guarantee that by the time you decide to judge me, after I’m gone…You’ll see that I did OK. I am so freaking proud of my children in everything they do. I delight in the smallest things. They make me laugh like you would not believe.


They give my life a purpose. Because of them and their acceptance of me, as their dad, I will never worry again what others think about me.

Go ahead, you can judge me…after I’m dead.

And He Loves You

And He Loves You

The Best Things in Life are Free…

“The best things in life are free.” It’s such a simple statement. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who is not familiar with that quote, or something very similar to it. It was a song, then another song. It is the title of a movie, and is the subject of many popular “feel good” images here on the internet.

It really is a lovely statement. If you think about it, and I do mean really think about it, it rings absolutely true.

In forty-five short minutes, one of my children will turn eleven years old. Although it is only forty-five minutes away, this kid has yet to really ask me for anything for her birthday. She gave me a little list to give to my mother and sister, because they insist on lists for birthdays. As for me, her father, however, I get nothing.

I have taken her to numerous stores, mentioned her upcoming birthday to her a few times, and still I get no hints. I get asked for nothing of financial value from her. No, she asked me to make her a lunch tomorrow of nothing but junk food. She wants donuts, cookies, pop, the works; just as long as it’s not healthy. She insists it’s only for one meal out of one day, and for that one day she’s going to be the star of the lunchroom.

When her oldest sister turned five years-old, I took her sister to Branson, MO and Silver Dollar City (just the two of us). For years now, she has reminded me that I took a vacation with her older sister, and not with her. She has come to realize that her dad is by no means a wealthy man, and has not only accepted it, but tries to live in a more humble manner because of it. She knows I have three other children, and she has trained herself to be more wary of my finances than I am sometimes.

For example, if we go out to eat, she almost always orders last. She listens to what everyone else has ordered, and then almost always orders something way cheaper than everyone else. If her sister orders an overpriced drink, she asks for a kid’s meal that comes with a drink usually, or she asks for water. Every time we discuss where to eat, I can hear her have a discussion with her oldest sibling on where it will be cheaper for dad.

I’m not poor, mind you. Like I said, I’m also not wealthy. This child of mine has taught me more about believing in myself than just about anybody I’ve ever met. She’s taught me to love my surroundings and be grateful for everything that I have. She believes that one day, the grass on our side of the fence will be greener, and I hope know that she is absolutely correct.

She’s beautiful from the bottom of her tippy toes all the way up to her lightly freckled, bright, blue-eyed face. Her inner beauty is truly a work of art, it really is. I’ll never be able to fully communicate just how much she means to me, but I hope she realizes what a vital role she plays in my life. She is just one of four, and they are all four very special to me in their own unique ways. Her sense of selflessness is one of her best traits, and she probably doesn’t even realize it yet.

photo (8)She is a comedian, no doubt, and she loves to be the center of attention. She is definitely in the top two for the backseat dancing awards in my family. The kid simply puts a smile on my face every time I see her face. She loves me more than I could have ever hoped she would, and I appreciate her more than she ever thought she could be appreciated. I hope she continues to shine bright wherever she decides to go with her life.

Today at the park, while her older sister and her friend played, she and I took a walk around the trail. Near the end of the trail she made us stop, pick a dandelion, and make a wish as we blew them into the wind. She then crossed them on top of one another, and placed them back intertwined together back into a hole in the ground. She placed grass on top of them, and it was probably the most sincere I’ve ever wished on a dandelion.

I won’t state what my wish was, because I believe that might break the “dandelion-wishing code of honor,” but I do know that my wish was very heart-felt.

I hope she knows, I want her to laugh more. I want her to give people second chances. I want her to learn to be patient with others. I hope she knows every day won’t be a good hair day, but some of them will be. I want her to be trustworthy, and I want her to be open-minded to other people and their ways of thinking. I want her to think for herself, and be the amazing person I know she is capable of being. I want her to find her purpose in life, and use her talents to bring it to fruition. I want her to appreciate the little things, but be willing to work for the bigger things. I want her to be happy beyond her wildest imagination. I want her to respect others, and I want her to earn other’s respect. A good reputation, a happy home, and a happy, trustworthy personality are all very good things in this life to have.

Everything you may ever want in this world, may not come to life, but plenty of it will if you just work hard, play hard, and enjoy the best things in life. After all, they really are free.

I Saw the Most Beautiful Smile Last Night…

I saw the most beautiful smile last night. No really, I did. Its curves made her cheekbones ball up into little spheres right below her sparkling brown eyes. Her whole face lit up, and you could just “see” the happiness overflowing out of her.

You see, last night was Kindergarten Roundup. Although it was my third one attending(fourth if you include mine), it was her first. She was anxious, nervous, excited, happy, and who knows what other emotions she was feeling.

photo (4)

We sat on the front row for the initial presentation, and then it was off to tour the school. We stepped into one classroom, then off to the next. We looked at the desks, the chairs, the engaging posters on the walls. We looked at the games, the laptops, the massive amount of crayons the children get to use. We noticed her school mascot is a Wildcat, which also used to be my mascot when I was in elementary school.

My ex-wife and I admired the creative spelling children use as we walked through the halls and recognized just how much potential this place carries inside of it each and every day. I imagined kids from every walk of life roaming the halls, checking out books from the library, standing in lines, learning new rules. A set schedule, boundaries, discipline, a caring support group is what every child needs and deserves.

Sometimes we think as parents we can do it all. Heck, some parents DO it all. That is not the route that we are taking, but I admire those that do. We are entrusting our children to a collective group of people to nurture, teach, and care for our kids while we ourselves tend to our daily duties, be it work, play, or a little of both.

Letting go of our children into the big scary world of public schooling, does not mean we are not doing our part. Getting a little help is sometimes all that we need to restore peace and order to our very own lives. That help can come from numerous places, from different people, and from various circumstances.

I’m at such a different place right now emotionally than where I was five years and seven years ago. I am so done going through the motions of being a parent. Now, I am enjoying each and every single moment of it. There are plenty of bad moments to go with the good. However, teachable moments are everywhere around us. Take those moments and learn from them, and you and your children will be better for it.

I am so freaking excited for my daughter starting school this summer. Although she isn’t technically a Kindergartner until August, she is being allowed to start summer school in June. She is already brilliant, talented, and an extremely fast learner, so I know we have nothing to worry about. Over these past few years of getting to know her, I know that this is a huge deal to her.

I can’t wait to do it again next year with my youngest daughter, so maybe I’ll have a chance to see that beautiful smile once again.

The Worry Rock

photo“Dad, I forgot to bring something with me. I got you something yesterday.”

Walking through the mall together with my fifth grader, she goes on to tell me that she saw the counselor at her school the day before. The counselor gave her something to give me.

She said she had set the appointment up for the week before, but she was sick on that day. Without trying to be too nosy, I asked what she talked about. She didn’t go into too many details.

I know she’s going through a tough transition period right now. She’s moving to a new house next month with her mom. More than likely, she will be switching schools. She informed me today, that she feels as if she only has a couple of “real” friends. One of them is possibly moving away also.

She has such a hard time being a younger sister, that sometimes I think she forgets that she’s a big sister too. photo (1) We all have strengths, we all have weaknesses. One of her biggest weaknesses is the same as her older sister’s (getting along with the other sibling).

Sisterly Love

Sisterly Love

I wish I could explain, in terms she would understand it, that life is what you make of it. You cannot control everything around you, but you can make the best of certain situations, even if you can’t control each individual situation.

I am PROUD of my children. In almost every aspect of their lives, they have taught me something new about them I didn’t know existed. They are kind. They are loving. They venture to places I never knew existed when I was their age, and in some cases, even at the age I am now.

Behind their beautiful smiles, are even more beautiful spirits. So when my daughter told me tonight she went to the counselor yesterday, I was confused. They usually come to me to talk. I definitely don’t have all the answers to everything, but it’s nice to know they see me as an option usually.

She told me the counselor said she is too little to be worrying about such big things. From what I took from it, one of the “big things” is ME. She told me her counselor gave her a rock. It’s called a worry rock, and she’s supposed to carry it with her and put all her worries in it. When asked if there was anyone else that could benefit from such a thing, she told her “My dad could.” So she got me a worry rock, too.

Needless to say, we went back to her house to pick it up tonight. You know why? Because she’s right. I really could use it.

This past Saturday, she asked for some alone time, just her and I. As we looked at books together at the book store she did something I will never forget. She stopped walking next to me, got in front of me, and wrapped her tiny arms around my waist. As she nestled her face against my chest she looked up and told me she loved me. She told me that although I don’t have to, that I spoil her and her sisters. She said something like “You don’t hardly have anything, but you give us everything.” She had tears in her eyes when she said it, the hug was real, and the tears in my eyes I fought back were very real also.

I love the person she is becoming. I love her honesty. I love her innocence. I love her thoughtfulness. I love her beautiful blue eyes almost as much as I love my new worry rock. photo (2)

Ten Years Apart…

January 29th, 2004.

Although I was twenty-four years old, I look back now and realize just how childish I really was. A lot has happened in the past ten years. I guess that’s to be expected, really. Just wish things were different sometimes, that’s all.

Ten years ago, I stood in front of a judge. She stood next to me. Our youngest daughter was only eight months old at the time. TaraNot really looking towards the future was one of my biggest downfalls. Not realizing that every time she asked about us, there would BE no memory of US. Well, for her at least.

Our oldest daughter was barely more than three years old. She was full of questions that I had no “right” answer for. I made up plenty of things to appease her tiny mind. As she’s gotten older, she’s asked harder questions. AshI’ve yet to venture out and tell her just every stupid thing her dad has done in the past. I’ve yet to lay out in detail every harmful thing I said, and every stupid, childish reason I left.

As these past few years have gone by, our lives have taken dramatically different turns. Turns out that sometimes things are best seen from a distant lens. Looking back, in my memory, is the best lens I have now. Ten years is a long time, and every day that goes by makes my vision a little more blurry.

I DO, remember how we met, however. Without going into too many details, it involved a party. It involved a party that ended with leftover alcohol in my trunk. Halfway through the week, her friends figured out who had the alcohol, and I was called at my job with strict instructions to bring alcohol to a different address that following Friday night.

I remember her boyfriend walking out the front door right as I pulled up, and seeing her and her two best friends at the door. I had a bunch of alcohol in my backseat thinking it was for a party. Turns out it was for these three young ladies. Luckily, they allowed me to join them in their drinking shenanigans, while the parents were away.

Throughout the course of the evening, two of them left with a couple of guys, leaving her and I alone in the house. We talked about her boyfriend, and school, and how her prom was the next night. She told me she was going to break up with him probably the next week, but she couldn’t do it yet because he had already spent money for the dance, and she didn’t want to miss it.

Standing beside her in the kitchen that night, making ramen noodles together, I had no idea that we would fall in love. I had no idea that we would bring two of the most amazing people I’ve ever known into this world.

I do remember our first date being a double date. I remember playing miniature golf with her. I remember getting our first apartment together. I remember every single car we owned together. Every single place we lived. I remember how much my grandmother loved her. I remember so many good things about her, that sometimes I forget why I ever wanted a divorce.

It’s easy to find fault in others. For a long time, that’s what I did. Trust me, there are definitely reasons why we didn’t work, but I was to blame for almost every single one of them. I have blamed almost every hardship I’ve had financially on her, because that’s the easy way out. I put myself where I’m at.

I’ve tried to fall in love again. It’s not near as easy as you’d think when you already have one ex-wife and two kids. It’s not impossible, but it’s definitely not the ideal scenario either. Trust me, however, when I say having TWO ex-wives and FOUR kids, isn’t the most ideal situation either.

I have dated just about every single type of woman in this world, and I’d have to say that none of them have ever made me feel “complete.” I’ve been remarried, and I’ve been divorced a second time. Even the woman I’ve written this blog about never really made me feel complete. Maybe it’s me. I do know one thing, losing them sure does make me feel empty.

I’m feeling sentimental, because ten years is a really long time to know somebody. The fact that we knew each other for years before that, means I’ve known her for a long time. We don’t normally knock on each other’s doors and ask to borrow a cup of milk, but when it comes to our children, we both have their best interests in mind.

There has been numerous times I have seceded a decision to her, because I just wasn’t sure what the right answer was. Likewise, there has been numerous times in which she has done the same. The kids are older, they both have figured each parent out, and they know what to expect from each one.

She has a very important job. Mine, gives me money, but not really that important. She has financial stability, whereas I am still searching high and wide for it. She sets rules, gives punishments, acts as a taxi, and is responsible for half of their smarts, and their adorable looks. I too, set rules, give punishments, act as a taxi, and am also responsible for their smarts and adorable looks.

However, it’s different. It’s different because of our individuality. I am very laid-back. I am definitely NOT as carefree as she may assume, but I have since had two children with someone else. I realize that some battles just aren’t worth the fight. I do not believe that I am a pushover dad, but I will agree that I am not the most strict parent in the world. I have very high expectations of my children when it comes to school, and life lessons are my favorite thing to teach to them.

She has been the perfect yin to my yang, so to speak. We are co-parenting without a handbook, and so far, things are going pretty good. She has since had another child as well (ALSO a girl), and we are all learning as we go.

She has been with the same man for about 8 years or so, and he too, has been a pretty stand-up guy. We’ve had words a couple of times a few years ago, but overall, we respect the boundaries that are there. It sucks that stupid mistakes I made years and years ago, helped him find his happiness, but…I digress.

A whole decade has separated the rings on our fingers. A whole ten years apart has taught me more things about her than I ever knew while living with her. Hopefully, those ten years have done the same for her about me.


Raindrops on a Windshield…

This afternoon, as I was driving home in the rain, I noticed something different about me. You know, it’s not too often when you actually have an “aha” moment about yourself. Learning new things about ourselves is actually a pretty important part of growing, and it can be very revealing sometimes.

When I very first learned to drive (almost twenty years ago), whenever it rained, I almost always turned my windshield wipers on immediately. Not only did I turn them on, but I turned them on as fast as they would go, because I didn’t want my vision impaired. I wanted, no needed to see the road. Little did I realize just how distracting those wipers were, going back and forth, back and forth, over and over again.

What I realized today, is somewhere along these past few years, I have learned to look through a lot of the raindrops before I reach to turn on the windshield wipers. Then, when I do reach down to turn them on, I almost always start at the very slowest setting. In fact, I enjoy watching the rain fall and bead up on my windshield. I still have my eyes on the road. I’m still focused. I understand there are lines drawn there, and those lines are my boundaries and my guidelines to get safely from one place to the next.

Looking through these raindrops today, as I had my “aha” moment, my moment of clarity if you will, I learned something about myself. I’m more confident than I used to be. I’m not more confident, because I think I can drive safe without using my wipers as much as I used to. No, I’m more confident as a person, because I have started looking through other obstacles in my life as well.

Keeping your eye on the prize, or what you want out of life is not always easy to do. In fact, it is extremely easy to get distracted, sometimes on a daily basis. Getting sidetracked by whatever distraction happens this day, or yesterday, or whatever may happen tomorrow happens to all of us at some point in our lives. What we do about it next, is what makes a real difference.


First of all, you must remember that not all distractions are bad distractions. There are plenty of obstacles you will come across that will bless you ten-fold. There are some things that are just slightly annoying, but can be easily overlooked, or looked through, and you can keep moving in a forward, or more positive direction.

Sometimes, a distraction can bring your life to an absolute dead halt. These obstructions in our life can be detrimental to how we feel, how we behave, how we treat others in life. You must be very careful when dealing with these things. If you know of someone going through what can only be characterized as a monumental distraction, you must deal with them accordingly. Every one of us behaves differently, because we are wired differently. We have different DNA. Some people deal with a small amount of stress with no problem at all. Some people flip out if the mailman is seven minutes later than their “usual” time.

If you are having a monumental distraction in your life, it is important to turn on your windshield wipers, if you will. In fact, sometimes not only do you need to turn them on at full-speed, but you may also need to pull over to the side of the road and wait it out. By waiting it out, it may mean to lean on a friend. Lean on a co-worker. Pray about it. Maybe no matter what, you can’t find an answer to why it is why you’re going through something. Whatever it is, just know that unless you’re living in a tropical rain forest somewhere, that the rain will stop eventually. The sun will rise again, and you will be able to move forward. The progression may not be in the same direction. In fact, the progression may actually be a regression because you were going about something the wrong way.

Life doesn’t have easy answers. Life is NOT fair. If it was, we’d all be sipping pina coladas on a beach somewhere.

However, there are plenty of times in our lives, where we may panic, we may put our wipers on full-speed, and we don’t need to. Sometimes, obstacles are a great way to learn new things, new ideas, and maybe even learn about other people. Maybe a particular person, is now a very particular obstacle. If so, try to find the good in that person. Weigh it, along with the bad, and see if it evens out. If not, well, it’s up to you on what to do. Like I said, we’re all wired differently. If your job is your obstacle, still go to work. It’s the responsible thing to do. Really, it is. Going to work at a dead-end job, or one that you may feel is “beneath” you, is in fact the opposite of what it may feel like. It should give you POWER, to know that you are doing something uncomfortable, for the benefit of you and your FAMILY. Do it. Look elsewhere, educate yourself, and get that better job when you can.

Until then, look through the raindrops, watch the lines in the road, and slowly reach down to occasionally move the rain out of the way. Just remember, no matter what you believe in, who you believe in, that there are people in this world that are counting on you. There always are. You may not know them, you may not ever even meet them, but they may very well look up to you. Show them that you are every bit of the person that they think you are. Be your own windshield wiper, wipe away the bad, and concentrate on your lane. You do that, my friends, and weights will be lifted off of your shoulders, and the rain will slowly start to disappear…

“By the Way, I’m an Accountant”

“So, that field trip you signed up to be a volunteer on…you might not get to go.”

“Why not?”

“Well, over 50 parents signed up and only 20 can go. There’s going to be a raffle to see who can go. If you are one of the winners you have to drive your own car. By the way, I’m an accountant.”


“An accountant? What about the health inspector job? That’s the one you wanted, right? You did your resume and interviewed for the health inspector job?”

“I know. I didn’t even list the accountant job down as one of my other choices.”

“Well, how many of these health inspector jobs were there?”


“FIVE jobs?! And you can’t even get one of them? Do you need me to break any knee caps?!”

Laughing, she said “No, dad. The accountant job will be fine. It’s fine.”

“OK, I guess I’ll let your friends keep their knee caps…”

*FLASHBACK to 1989*

Little 10 year-old Jeremy turns in his application for Exchange City. For his job choice, he picks Bank President. His teacher banked at the same bank his mom worked at. Jeremy thought he had the Bank President job locked down. Well, until he looked down at his piece of paper that read “Bank Teller.”

Who got Bank President, you ask? Why, none other than Melanie Sims. She was tall, beautiful, had long hair, and apparently seemed more “Presidential” than Jeremy.

Then the actual field trip to Exchange City happened. Jeremy, sitting behind the teller stand, looking at Melanie all dressed up, realized something.

Being a teller ain’t all that bad. I’m sure being an accountant won’t be that bad either…