Monday, October 2, 2017

Guns and Silence

Did you know you can hear your own heartbeat? You can. All the time. It’s loud too. Try this sometime. Find a very quiet place where you can be still. Close your eyes and listen. It might sound faint and far away, but it’s there and I promise, it’s loud.

How do I know this? A few years ago, I got a call from my wife telling me that she was short of breath, her heart was doing “weird things,” and that she was going to the emergency room. Somewhere between 15-45 minutes later I too found myself in the emergency room screaming at the poor lady at the front desk to tell me where my wife was.

She was down the hall and she was fine. Turns out she has heart palpitations. Every once in awhile her heart skips a beat or it has an extra beat out of rhythm to help catch up for some small fraction of beats it missed at sometime leading up to the palpitation. At least that’s how I interpreted what the doctor was saying as I worked my hardest to suppress my own heart attack. He also said that part of why heart palpitations are so uncomfortable is because we’re so used to the normal beat of our heart that when even a single beat is off, our body become alarmed and we feel discomfort.

Last night Stephen Paddock, who had been staying for the last few days at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, used a hammer to smash out the window of his 32nd floor hotel room, and used between 1 and 10 of the guns to fire indiscriminately down into a crowd of sixty-thousand men and women attending a music festival below. The number dead is currently around 50. The number injured, 500. The Mandalay Bay Concert shooting of 2017 is the worst mass shooting in modern American history... second only to the Pulse Nightclub Shooting of 2016. I spent my morning calling everyone I know in Las Vegas to make sure they were alive. My Twitter and Facebook feeds are on fire.

We have to talk about gun control.

We can’t we can’t talk about gun control.

We have to prevent mass shootings.

We can’t prevent mass shootings.

Can’t we avoid politics and just focus on the dead and their families?

Now is when we have to talk about gun control.

The answer is that we need to love each other more.

You’re the problem.

No, you’re the problem.

Don’t worry. In two weeks someone will tweet something ridiculous, we’ll find something shiny to distract us, a Kardashian will marry someone or divorce someone. We’ll put a plaque in a field somewhere and login into Facebook in a couple months to see that a susceptible teen trusted the wrong people online, or our friend was depressed and took their life, or someone who needed mental health treatment had easier access to assault rifles than they did to healthcare, or gang members got a hold of untraceable guns that were purchased legally at one point in their existence but then sold and sold again through unregulated markets. Subconsciously we’ll check the number in the headline and if it’s a 1 or a 2 we'll shrug and scroll on, and if it’s a 30 or a 50 we’ll cry and feel uncomfortable, maybe reach out, maybe say it hurts, maybe ask for change… for a minute.

Somewhere around 30,000 people die a year in the US from gun related death. Just under two thirds of those are suicides, another third are violent deaths resulting from homicide, the rest are accidents and unclassified. 30,000 people. That is 2,500 a month. 208 a day.

That’s our current normal. That’s the heartbeat we can’t hear.

The heartbeat of America is 208 bullets killing 208 people a day, every day. Every. Single. Day.

And the only time we notice, when things are irregular, out of the normal rhythm, uncomfortable, is also the time we’re not allowed to talk about it.

It’s disrespectful.

I want to respect everyone’s feelings. I really truly do. I desperately want to put enough love into the world that it will somehow shift the scales of chance away from a person becoming so damaged that they want to shoot and kill people. But I will never understand why we can’t address the issue from both sides, the person and their access to a weapon designed to kill as many human beings as it can as fast as possible.

Too soon though. It is disrespectful. I’ve been told to wait 24 hours... which is someone else’s 72... which is someone else’s 30 days, which is someone else’s never. "It's too soon to get political."

This isn’t politics to me.

And honestly, I’ve been quiet all day today. At work, online, at home. I wasn’t going to say anything at all. Not out of respect (I do) or out of mourning (I am), but out of defeat. I am defeated. I don’t believe anything is going to ever change.

The big ones are getting closer and closer now. They’re getting less coverage. The half-life of a tragedy is decreasing with each mass shooting. Columbine was covered for nearly a year. Pulse was covered for a few weeks.

The big ones are becoming our new heartbeat, and pretty soon we won’t be able to hear them either.

Earlier this morning Bill O’Reilly made a lot of people mad when he wrote in a blog post about the Vegas shooting “This is the price of freedom.”

I very rarely agree with Bill O’Reilly, and only partially do in this case. This is the price we choose to pay for our freedom to have easy access firearms, these daily deaths, the less and less anomalous big numbers. We can fight about the "politics" of it, but somewhere inside we all have a kernel of the truth in us. This is the price we pay. This is our Hunger Games. Only it’s not once a year. It’s every day. Forever.

Sorry. I love you guys. It’s been a rough day for me, much much rougher for others. If you hate this post, just ignore it. Or message me and tell me you hate me. My love to you and your family. My heart for those who died and theirs.

- John

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Horrible Moments in Parenting #3569

Last week during dinner I was trying to ask Duchess about her day and she matter-of-factly told me that she didn't feel like talking. A few minutes later she had chewed her tortilla into the shape of a star and was remarkably proud of herself.

"Look dad! I made a star."

"I don't feel like looking at it." I quipped back.

And then she started bawling.

I thought I was being snarky and she would immediately relate it back to what she had said earlier, but that's not how it came across. It came across as cruel and dismissive... which honestly she has probably never experienced from me before.

Anyway... not my finest parenting moment. But, there are no take-backs. We fill our lives with irrevocable acts, and its only later we find out which ones actually mattered.

One time, when I was about my daughter’s age, my dad and I were going to the store. I was probably a year into reading and was paying particularly close attention to business signs. When we pulled into a strip mall I asked “Dad, why are the O’s on the Payless Shoe Store sign orange dots.”

“I don’t know. That is a really good question,” he replied.

Let’s be honest. It wasn’t a really good question. It was kind of a dumb question. Knowing the answer to why a graphic designer decided to make the O’s orange dots on the Payless Shoe Store sign probably would not have been a life changing realization. But all six-year-old me could think was ”YES! I asked a good question!”

Saturday, June 3, 2017

8 Positive Wonder Woman Toys - Dad Picks (Mom Edition)

Hey everyone! Stevie here. I asked John if I could write this round-up because of how much I have loved Wonder Woman lately.

Here's the thing, my daughter has always loved super heroes. For years she cycled through all her favorite Justice League characters. Any guesses on which one she wants to be this year? Wonder Woman.  Since the movie came out, she sees Wonder Woman everywhere and I LOVE IT. It's so empowering for her to see herself as a Super Hero and not just a love-interest or a damsel in distress.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

10 Best Star Wars Toys for Kids - Dad Picks

We're a Star Wars Family. It was one of my stipulations of becoming a family. I said, "Stevie, we can make tiny humans, but I need to be able to buy them lots of Star Wars stuff. She really wanted to make tiny humans, and moderately enjoyed Star Wars so it wasn't much of a debate. So hooray!

One thing we've found with our purchases is that there are a TON of Star Wars toys out there. Here are our ten favorite ones! 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Sleep and Hard Decisions

Sometimes the sponsored posts are fun. I get to try something new, sync up with a bunch of cool people, and make a few bucks to keep this blog running. This one was not as fun. It brought up some hard decisions. It caused some difficult discussions. Even as I am writing this I don’t know what the answers are, but before I get into all that let me just say: This post is sponsored by Beautyrest and in partnership with Life of Dad. All opinions are mine.

Beauty Rest sent me a sleep tracker that I have been using for the last thirty days to keep track of how much or, in most cases, how little I am sleeping. It is a pretty amazing little piece of technology. A sensor placed between my mattress and my box frame monitors my movements, my breathing, and my heart rate throughout the night. The plan was to use it for 30 days and see how much I could improve my sleeping. Stevie and I both put one on our side of the bed and every morning we look at how we slept, how our heart and breathing rates were, and how many times we woke up.

We woke up a lot. And it is my fault.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Things We Tried - Do Your Part(ner) Follow Up!

This post is sponsored by my long-time friends at Plum Organics.

So a few weeks ago Stevie and I made a fun video and took the Plum Organics Pledge to Do Your Part(ner). The pledge wasn’t just to get jiggy with it (yes I just typed that) but also to make time for each other outside of our parenting responsibilities. Honestly, it was a nice reminder that we need to work harder to find time alone together. So, remaining completely PG, here are the actions that Stevie and I did over the last three weeks to find time to find each other, and their consequent reactions and results. Spoiler alert: Some worked. Some didn’t.
Action: We turned off the TV
It seems like such a simple thing, but tell that to someone who absolutely NEEDS to know who Nick sent home on The Bachelor. Still, despite my need to see who got sent home and whether it affected my standing in my Bachelor Fantasy League (It didn’t. I’m still losing), Stevie and I decided to turn the TV off and spend a night actually talking to each other. Reaction: My wife is really funny and smart and fun to talk to.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Stevie and John Talk about Sex, and Being Parents, and Kids, and Stuff [Video]

This post is sponsored by my long-time friends at Plum Organics.

So… yeah. A baby food brand asked me to create a post about sex. Why? (You and I both ask simultaneously?) Well, I believe the first reason is that sex means more babies and babies like baby food. Also, having worked for Plum for a couple years now discussing ALL the unfiltered realities of parenting, I can tell you that they care about parents being happy. And well… sex and sad don’t really pair.

Before saying yes I checked with Stevie to see if she was down for a little parent time sexy talk on the blog and she said fine as long as Plum doesn’t think we’re having another baby, because no sir/ma’am.

I talked about sex once on this blog and things got a little crazy. It was probably because I had kind of a click-baity title. The piece was called “Giving up on Sex” and honestly it was kind of a bait-and-switch. We weren’t really giving up on sex. The whole premise was that Stevie and I both felt so much pressure to keep up the physical intimacy portion of our marriage that the anxiety it was causing was seeping into and affecting other portions of our life. And it was hurting any drive we had to put the effort into being intimate. So we gave up on sex being an obligation or a chore. It worked out great… for awhile. Then it didn’t. Then it did. Bottom line there were a lot of internal and external factors that kept us from finding each other in intimate situations and sometimes just loving each other and waiting for it to happen was a great solution… and other times that was a dumb idea and we needed to put in the effort.

Which is why I’m stoked about this cheeky campaign with Plum. It is called Do Your Part(ner) and the whole point of the campaign is to empower parents to make time for their relationship and their partner, sans guilt. They’ve made a website with videos, expert resources, and some fun quirky humor. It's also a place to take a pledge to Do Your Part(ner).

To celebrate the launch of the campaign, Stevie and I interviewed each-other with some sexy time questions, and took the pledge together. We also opened our date-night box that Plum sent us! Anyway, check out the video and stay tuned until the end for a special announcement. (NO WE’RE NOT HAVING ANOTHER KID.)

OK, so the announcement is that if you go take the pledge and come back here to leave a comment saying you did so, I will be selecting five winners!

Step 1: Go to
Step 2: Take the pledge.
Step 3: Come back here and let me know you did by commenting and clicking contest button.
Step 4: Probably most likely win.*

*Chances of winning are actually determined by the number of entries in the contest, not by me saying the probability.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The King of Soup is Me

I have partnered with Life of Dad and Idahoan® Foods for this campaign, but all opinions expressed above are unbiased and true. For instance, the soup is actually as good as I say it is. Seriously. It's exceed all my expectations.

It's January and I am writing about soup again. This time I am working with Idahoan® Foods. They apparently heard about my love of soup and asked me to give their potato soups a try. Since this post is also a partnership with my long-time friends, Life of Dad, of course there is a spin on it. They challenged me to become the "#KingofSoup" by transforming my kitchen into a steak house... and then eating soup.

You guys know me. I won't pass up an opportunity to put an adorable bow-tie on my kid and have him serve me steak, so we gladly obliged. I stopped by the store and picked up a couple New York cuts for Stevie and I, and some Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets for the kids. FYI, Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets are the Steak of the kid world.

But back to the soup, because that is why we are here. Look guys. I am going to be completely honest. I have long been a lover of powdered mashed potatoes. When I was younger and thinner and more apt to wander off into the mountains for weeks at a time, powdered mash potatoes were an easy and light way to carry calories. The potatoes I brought were Idahoan® and I loved them very much. Toss a little cheese and some boiling water into a mug with your potato powder and you have a delicious dinner.

But could they do soup? The answer is yes. Yes they can. Surprisingly well. It was better than soup I have had at some real steak houses.

We made the Creamy Potato one that night. The rest have been eaten since.

The Steakhouse

While I was excited for the soup, Stevie was excited to get to use a tablecloth. That is, she was excited until she realized that our table cloth was in the garage and I may have left the lawnmower on top of it. We're working through that. Instead we used a sheet, because we are classy and our steak house is classy.

Duchess also decided we needed rose pedals on our table. I tried to tell her that steak houses don't have rose pedals on tables and she just looked at me with eyes that said "You get soup, dad. Let me have rose pedals."

I looked back at her and thought with my eyes "How do you do that with your eyes? Did you learn that from your mom?"

"Are you trying to fart dad?"

"No. I am talking to you about rose pedals with my eyes."

"You are weird"

"No. I am the #KingofSoup."

When a six year old rolls her eyes at you, you know you're parenting at a 10.

Duchess didn't just want to set the table. She also wanted to make the soup. She is getting really good at making all sorts of "pour this thing into that pot" foods. I may be the #KingofSoup, but she is the princess of Mac and Cheese. She did really well with the potato soup too.

Captain, on the other hand, cannot be trusted in front of boiling water just yet. So he got to be the MaƮtre d'. He was just as excited by his tiny bow-tie as I was. I wish I could wear bow-ties. Bow-ties are cool. Unfortunately, at my current weight a bow-tie makes me looked like a tied off upside down balloon... so I live vicariously through my son's bow-tie. That's how parents do it right?

Side note. Captain has hit maximum cuteness. We didn't think it was possible for a kid to get cuter, but holy cow. My theory is that since he is the second child and constantly competing for attention that some sort of evolutionary cute gene kicked in and now he has unnatural level's of cuteness. I may be the Soup King, but Captain is so cute that I don't even remember how I was going to finish this sentence.

Anyway, that's all I've got. In summation, I still love soup. We got to have a fun date night with potato products, and my kids are pretty swell.

Also, Stevie apologizes for not taking any pictures of us. She's not sure how it happened. I blame the bow-tie on my unnaturally adorable son. Anyway, try the soup. Seriously, you'll be surprised by how good it is. Try dipping your dinosaur chicken nuggets in it... or your steak.

For more information, be sure to follow @Idahoanfoods on social media or stop by