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Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

So, I am at home visiting the family for Thanksgiving.  My wife, and three kids braved the crazy airport scene to arrive in California where most of my family resides.  If you can avoid LAX, I highly recommend it.  We landed at 8:45 pm and did not get out of the airport until 10:15.  Here is the thing, we got all of our bags at 9:20.  It took us almost an hour just to get out of the airport, CRAZY!  The bizarre thing is that I was born and raised in LA, but now this place feels like a foreign country to me.

If you are from the Midwest, which now I must say I am a Midwesterner (You have no idea how sad it is to write that.  I am even looking at it now and thinking if I should erase it, but sadly, I can’t, the Midwest is my home now. Sad clown), you should consider a trip to LA for the experience.  I promise you, the city will not let you down.  It starts with the flight into the airport, where you will see more lights on the ground then possibly anywhere else on the planet (and I have been to a lot of the planet).  When you arrive, you will see every walk of life; black, white, hispanic, asian, muslim, greek, jews, gentiles, you name it, they will be there.  Also, foreign languages will be spoken all around you.  When I go to the grocery store near my mom’s house, the dominant language by far is Spanish.  You might find that odd, I find it very cool.  The bottom line is, despite having way too many people, too many cars, traffic at 3am, and times of smog that could kill a canary, I love LA.  However, I now must say, great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live here.

Alright, now that was a huge digression.  I want to talk about family, my family, all of my family.  On Thanksgiving we ate at my Dad’s house. 

This picture is nothing like dinner at our house. First of all there are no ribs in the picture. Secondly, there is no can-shaped cranberry sauce (A must have. Don't eat, but must have). And who eats fresh green beans? Where is the green bean crap?

At the house were my father, stepmother, stepsisters and their families, my stepbrother and his family, my sister and her kids, my cousins, my family, some random people I didn’t know and my mom.  There was like 35 of us.  The dinner was planned and hosted by my stepmom and it was a great time.  There were babies everywhere and multiple generations.  We shared stories, laughed, and ate; we ate a lot.  Looking around the gathering I couldn’t help but think to myself, this is who I am, this is me.  All of this is what has made me who I am and if you are like me, I would encourage you to embrace that fact.  Your family and my family has made us who we are today.

My sister who tells a story of my father’s arrogance.  She says, “Am I right? He is arrogant!”  My father notices that no one is disagreeing with her.  Everyone in the room doesn’t say a word as everyone looks at each other and bust out laughing because we all know it’s true.  Even my mom chimes in on how my father has the ability to smooth talk his way through any situation, fully expecting to get his way. – this is me.

We share how my mother used to make all of us stand in line at the grocery store as she headed back into the store to find more items.  If she came back and we did not hold our position, or if the checker made us move, she would get mad at us for not standing our ground.  Always stand your ground. – this is me.

My father talked of not knowing his father and being raised by his mother.  It is very clear that despite not being raised by his father that he did not take that path.  He broke his cycle, and became a father to his kids, all of his kids.  You see, my sister’s dad is not my dad, nor my older brother’s, and obviously not my stepbrother’s and stepsisters’, but you wouldn’t know it in that room.  He may not be the father by blood, but he is father by action. – this too is me.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, I hope you spent the time with your family.  Maybe it was stressful, maybe it was joyous, maybe your drunk uncle got out of control again, but remember this:  Your family has made you who you are, some for the good, and some for the bad, but all you, and if you take a moment, you will see the little origins of you in the faces and actions of your family members.

I could go on and on with family stories from this weekend, but what I will remember most is that we may not be the Brady Bunch, the Cleaver’s or even the Cosby’s, but we are truly the Modern Family.  They made me who I am.  And remember this, if your family is the best at pushing your buttons, you shouldn’t be surprised because they are the ones that installed them.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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I went golfing with my father, brother and stepbrother yesterday.  It was awesome.  So awesome we are going to try to do it every year.  The funny thing is we all complained of the cold.  I live in Wisconsin, so it made me laugh because the temperature was about 60.  I now know why I hate Wisconsin winters so much, I clearly have a California weather gene.  I’m just sayin …

I’m Just sayin … (Part II)

Is it just me or when you go home you walk through a time warp and the family dynamics become that of when you were a kid?  I’m a grown-ass man with kids, but when I am home I can’t help but wonder why it’s Thanksgiving and my mom has not made my apple pie yet.  I may throw a tantrum soon.  Wrong? Yes, but true.  I’m just sayin …

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So, once again I am preempting my scheduled blog for a blog about my son and being a parent.

I am divorced.  My oldest son is almost 11 (October 24).  He has a three-year-old brother and a nine-week-old sister.  I am sure in his mind he had eight glorious years of being an only child.  Now despite having to share his home with two other young siblings, hs has always had the escape of visiting his mom on the weekends to have a place all to himself.

Yesterday, he received the news from his mom that she is going to have a baby, and he was not happy about the news.  Now, if you are an avid reader of this blog, I hope you have garnered that I take parenting seriously.  I am not a perfect parent, but I do the best I can.  I mention this because I have thought long and hard about the lessons that I must teach my children, more specifically, my son who is getting closer and closer to becoming a man.

As my son becomes more and more independent, I want to make sure that he has the tools to be prepared for what life will bring.  For example, we preach healthy eating in my house.  We know that he will be in many situations in which the food will be presented in large amounts with many unhealthy options.  My wife and I have had multiple conversations with him to talk about what it means to be healthy and hope that he will choose to make healthy choices whether we are there or not.

Last week we talked about tithing.  We talked about how we believe that all we have is a gift from God and He only asks for 10%.  Brett does not attend church with us, so we have made it a point to at least discuss some of the things that we feel are important in regards to our faith.  He has a lot for a 10-year-old, and we want him to not take it for granted and appreciate all that he has.  I also think it is a good lesson about finances, something that I think many of us were not taught by our parents.

So, when my son came home last night and made it very clear to me that he was not happy about his mom having a child, I knew it was time to have another talk, and this is what I said (Thanks to my friend, Doug, for his inspiration of this chat):

Isaac was in the stroller as Brett and I walked and talked around the neighborhood.  “Brett, first of all you are a great big brother.  You have handled the arrival of your brother and your sister very well.  You have done great.  And I know it is hard dealing with so much change, but you have done an excellent job.  What I want to talk to you about today is what it means to be us.  We are Woods men, and that has meaning.  I want to tell you about two things that I believe is something that we do.  One, we do our best in everything that we do.  Whether it is school, violin, football, or Taekwondo, we do our best.  That is why it is important to practice, read or study, we do our best.  Do you know what pride is?  Well, we have pride in everything that we do.”   And we talked about this for a while. 

“The second thing we do is we help people.  That is very important.  When we see people in need, we help them.”  Brett asked, “Just friends?”  “No, everyone.  We open up doors for people.  We help strangers in need if we can.  We help our friends.  And we especially help our family and that is why your job as big brother is so important.  You have been a great big brother to Isaac and Violet, and I know you will be a great big brother to your new brother or sister.  You will help your mom when she needs it, and you will do your best to make her happy, because that is what we do.”  We continued to talk, and he was surprisingly engaged in the conversation, adding his own comments and questions about things.  By the time we got back home, we had moved on to other things, such as Ben 10 Ultimate Alien.

So, I have been thinking, maybe that is our mission statement.  We do our best and we help others.  It makes me wonder if every family should have a mission statement.  It helps with family identity, unity, goals and understanding of who we are as people.  It might make it just a little easier for our children as they grow older having a clear understanding of what they are about.

You see, Brett was significantly more positive after our conversation.  I will never forget the moment and the power of talking and teaching your kids.  It is a conversation I will definitely have with Isaac and then one day with Violet.  I am sure it will be modified, but it will still be our Woods Mission Statement.  The cool thing is that Brett spent the next hour playing and talking with Isaac during dinner.  It was a lot of fun to watch.  Striving to improve and be better, that’s another thing Woods men do.  I’m just sayin …

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