Be Longing

To be
Or
Not to be

But
To think
Therefore
To be
Begs the questions
To be asked
Have always been asked

The questions
Are the quest

To do
And
To be

To do
Is
To be

But belonging is not doing
Though doing is becoming
It is being that
Is

So
Just
Be

To belong
And
Longing to be

All and all
Must ask again
Why?
And
Who am I?

All have been
And is to be
For being is indelibly bound
And cannot
Not be
Yet what is to be
And could be is infinitely free

So, here

To becoming
And
Belonging
To be

Selah Rain

Shy little one,
When will you say?
“Hello!”

I know you’ve spoken in your own small ways:
A turn and tease, a playful push, a grasp;
To tell us, “Hi, I’m here.”

But, sadly, we are not yet fluent
In the language of miracles and spirit.

And we’ve been waiting, oh so long,
Praying for so long,
Loving for so long,
Longing for so long.

Before that thought and twinkle first appeared,
You already lived inside our soul as one.
A perfect, tender fruit
Grown from grace
By the springs of hope
And nourished in the sunlight of wisdom
Rained down.

Yes, expectation
Is a fun game.
But now it’s time to play
A new way.

So, hello
My Dear
Now and always.

Pooh Sticks Is a Thing… That Exists

Slater, T. (1994). “Winne the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore.” The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: A Classic Disney Treasury. Disney Press: New York, 152-153.

Has anyone ever heard of the game Pooh Sticks? And no, I’m not referring to some new juvenile self-harm game like when 13-year-old boys take turns slapping each other silly just for kicks and giggles. I’m referring to the classic A. A. Milne characters of Winnie-the-Pooh and his fellow stuffed, cuddly cohort from the Hundred-Acre Woods.

Basically, the game goes like this: you gather a bunch of sticks with your friends, take turns throwing the sticks off one side of a bridge, and then look out the other side of the bridge to see whose stick floats out first. Now, let’s not get overly caught up in the finer details such as: how do you know for sure which stick is yours? Does it really need to be called “Pooh” Sticks? Or should small children and creatures be playing on a bridge in the first place?

I think the point of Pooh stories are about the beauty of simplicity and the magic of curiosity in childhood. Pooh is basically conducting his own physics experiments while at the same time bonding with his fluffy wuffy buddies while also simultaneously filling children with delight and adults with bashful amusement. Our kids are always coming up with new games like this. Except usually they’re more like “Poke Each Other With a Stick” rather than “Pooh Sticks.”

I don’t really have much to say about this game Pooh Sticks or about Winnie-the-Pooh in general. I just found it all quite comical and thought I’d share the whimsy.

Whether it’s Pooh Cones or Pooh Sticks. The potential puns are limitless. I suppose, let’s just all be glad that Pooh-Bear didn’t invent the game Pooh Poo… Oops, now I am giving those middle school boys ideas to get in trouble with.

Stay curious my friends.

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – A. A. Milne

Personal Pet Peeves

“I’m really not comfortable with this…”

My wife always wanted to get a pet and name it Peeve, so that way, she could tell everyone, “Hey, this is my pet, Peeve.”

Well, I have some pet peeves of my own (why do we call it that anyways? It’s not like I cuddle my peeves and take them out for walks…). And this is my semi-customary opportunity to rant and complain into the empty void of the Internet where no one can hear me scream and no one cares either way.

Pets

Speaking of pets, I just don’t get it. What’s the point? My kids have been pestering me ad nauseum about getting a pet. But why? Why would I voluntarily go out and pay money for another living organism just so I can bring it home and pay lots of money to keep it alive? Why would I willingly bring into my nice, clean home something that is going to track in dirt, shed, and slobber everywhere? Why would I want to feed, potty train, clean up after, discipline, and take to the vet something that won’t even help pay the bills or wash its hands without assistance? I mean, come on, I have children to fulfill all those roles already. So, I certainly don’t need a pet. Plus, they always want to crowd your personal space and sleep in your bed. Again, kids.

Hammocks

Speaking of sleeping, my wife also loves hammocks, and I, in turn, also hate them. Some people’s definition of rest and relaxation would be taking a nap in a hammock while lying underneath a tree in the cool Spring air. That would be my definition of unlawful incarceration and inhumane confinement. I’m a human; not a burrito. Once you get into one of those things, there’s no getting out. It’s like a Chinese handcuff or quicksand—the more you struggle, the stronger the strangle hold. Anytime I’ve ever tried to lay in a hammock, my life has flashed before my eyes as I have a near-death experience. Look, I just prefer not to sleep while being swaddled by a fish net.

Soft Towels/Blankets

Speaking of swaddles, another thing my wife likes that I despise is soft fabric (is this a list about my pet peeves or about my wife’s irrational preferences?). Most of all, I hate soft towels and blankets. Feels like cruel and unusual torture. Maybe it just reminds me of pet hair. I don’t know. All I know is that when I die, don’t bury me in one of those padded, silk coffins. Straight-up, unfinished wood please. This was actually a pretty contentious subject early on in our marriage when my wife wanted to get a new color-coded, matching towel set from Bed, Bath & Beyond; and I wanted to keep using the same rough, scratchy towel that I’ve had since middle school. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I just don’t trust them—soft things that is. Especially if they’re too soft, like suspiciously soft. Makes me think, “What are you trying to compensate for? What are you hiding under those thread counts?”

Limp Handshakes

Speaking of soft things, I absolute cringe at a wet and/or weak sauce handshake (I’m actually not sure where my wife lands in this category…). Why even shake my hand bruh? Is that a handshake or a wet noodle? Is that a handshake or a limp biscuit? It’s like grabbing onto a dead, five-legged salamander. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to go all toxic-alpha and try to crush my hand. Just be normal. Better yet, just pound it dude. A fist bump is the superior greeting. All the social pros of a handshake greeting with none of the cons.

Handshakes During a Pandemic

Speaking of handshakes, just better not right now. Listen, here’s the thing, if we’re out in a public gathering, and you see me wearing a mask, please don’t rush up at me and start shaking my hand like we’re long, lost friends when we’ve never even met before. And definitely, definitely, don’t touch my kids. PEOPLE PLEASE! I’m talking to you! Strangers! Stop touching my kids! What is wrong with people? What social etiquette class did they play hooky during? In what dark parallel universe is it okay to just walk up to strangers and touch their children? So, again, please don’t touch me right now, and absolutely don’t touch my kids.

Don’t get wrong. I don’t think you’re a horrible person if you happen to like pets, hammocks, or soft things. Everyone is entitled to be miserable in their own special way. No judgment here. These are simply my own petty gripes. But seriously, don’t touch my kids. That’s all.

10 Games to Play During Quarantine

If the shoe fits…

Note: Although these games are geared towards children, with a bit of imagination, they can be played by the most immature of adults.

As a family, we learned a tremendous amount during the quarantine. We learned things like how many different games you can play with Alexa (even she gets cabin fever), how precious a single square of toilet paper can be (count your blessings, count them one by one), and how viruses can only really spread in small businesses but you’re okay in giant, multi-billion dollar department stores. But to pass the time, we also came up with some of our own games. So, here’s a list of 10 games (minus a few because I was going to do a list of 10 to make a nice, even list, but then I started making the list and I was like, 10 is way too many things to think about!) to preoccupy your family in the case of any future lock downs.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoe! – One day, my three-year-old came up to me and said, “Let’s play a game!” She held out one little palm and put her other fist on top saying, “Rock, paper, scissors, shoe! Umm… Daddy, how to make the shoe?” Rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, paper beats rock, and shoe beats… cockroach?

Will It Hat? – Our one year old son, loves to put things on his Benjamin Button, bald head. Gotta cheese puff? Put it on your head. Will it hat? Gotta dead leaf? Put it on your head. Will it hat? Gotta shoe? A book? A cup full of water? An actual hat? Put ‘em on your head, and see: will it hat? The answer is always: most certainly, yes it will.

Dress Up – I used to think one shirt was enough for one day. But why only wear one outfit when you can change multiple times a day, and do loads of laundry everyday? Baby spit up, toddler nail polish, slime, boogers, the options and opportunities are endless to have a reason to change again. Or you could just not wear anything. It is quarantine after all.

No Mess Finger Paint – The game is that while you had a momentary lapse in sanity, you allowed your toddler to play with paint, and now, while she has fun painting, you spend the entire time just trying to clean and keep paint off of everything in the house.

Sharing is Caring – No matter how many toys you give to each child, even if they’re identical, they only want to play with what the other one has. I just keep telling myself that the screams and tears are watering the little seeds of maturity in their souls so they won’t covet their neighbor’s new deck and jacuzzi.

Sleep Over – The best part about a sleep over is getting to stay up late. Having young children is kinda like that except instead of staying up late to eat junk food or play video games, you stay up late to put one kid to bed just so you can then get the other back in bed who woke up because of a feral cat outside, so that you can then wake up early for the other one who seems to have no concept of a lazy weekend morning.

Hide the Biscuit – The biscuit can be anything. Cereal puffs, green beans, carrots, crackers, cheese, or even biscuits. Where do you hide them? Well, our son hides them in his chair, under his chair, in his pockets, in his diaper, in his armpit, on his head (refer back to Game #2), behind his ears, in his ears, up his nose, under his bum and around the corner, and within black hole-like interdimensional portals that confound the known laws of space and time in which you thought you found and cleaned up all those puffs just for them to reemerge later either fall from the ceiling, be stuck to an elbow, or be stepped on.

Hide ‘n’ Seek – No. Just no. Never play this.

Naturally Gifted

(Like Father, Like Son)

As an incredibly blessed parent, I try not to brag. I don’t want to be one of those parents who vicariously lives through their children, attempting in vain to supplant past failures, and overly boasts of their accomplishments as if they were their own. (Did I use enough ambiguous antecedents in that last sentence? I’m sure you can figure out who the unclear pronouns refer to. I’m not going to spend time rewriting sentences for clarity when that’s not what this is about. Do you realize how much time I could waste just going on and on and on about every little word and sentence. I could take at least some 87 words talking about it. Look, I’m just not going to overthink these blog posts. Okay? Hmm, maybe I should…)

Anyways, as I was saying before being rudely interrupted by the grammar sheriff, as a proud father, I try not to brag. But my son, soon to be one, is gifted at eating. Quite remarkable acutally.

It’s like we didn’t even have to teach him. He just figured it all out with almost no direction. Finger foods? Check. Fruit pouches with little slurp spouts? Check. Sippy cups? Check. Beverages with straws—obviously the decomposable, plant-based, non-marine-life-harrasing kind? Check. He just gets it.

But of course, greatest strength, greatest weakness.

With his prodigious penchant for food consumption also comes a few unsavory habits (see what I did there? “unsavory”). We’re currently trying to wean our kiddo off these shady lifestyle choices:

Eating leftovers.

By leftovers, I mean the food that has fallen off the table and onto the floor. Some people have a dog. We have a baby. He’s like a weird, squishy little vacuum cleaner. One of his favorite after-dinner pastimes is to try and crawl under the table and sample the variety platter of crumbs and collateral. When eating in his highchair, he often eats one, and then throws one down on the floor. I believe this is all part of his master plan to have readily accessible, self-selected hors d’oeuvres for later.

Eating dirt.

It’s not that he necessarily “loves” the taste of dirt and sand, but they’re also not really good deterrents either. The other day when we went to the beach, he tried a generous handful of sand, and then made the face of confused trepidation that you would expect. So, he was good, he wasn’t going to just eat more sand for the kicks and giggles of it. But then it was also the day he first tried potato chips. I personally have a weakness for those crispy, golden, fried spuds of nirvana myself. Perhaps it’s genetic. Either way, if a chip were to fall in the sand, he would do a quick cost-risk-benefit analysis and then determine that the right course of action was to push through and munch on. The chip was totally worth a little garnishment of sand.

Eating garbage.

By garbage, I mean basically anything and everything he can get his grimy, little paws on. Paper of all assortments and colors. Sticks, mulch, and grass. Carpet fibers. His sister’s polyester princess dress frills. Seriously little dude, you gotta stop doing that. Sometimes, opening up his diaper is like unwrapping one of those dollar store mystery bags. We’re really trying to set realistic goals for our children. Keep it simple ya know: try to stop eating random trash. We’re totally setting them up for success!

Eating people.

There’s always that one kid at the preschool who’s a biter. Look, we’ve really made some progress here so don’t worry too, too much. I’m sure by the time our son is ready for school he’s not going to want to gnaw on your offspring. But just in case, I’d send your child with some extra snacks. Think the “Sandlot” movie when the kids need to try and bribe the guard dog with a tasty beef treat. Did something like that happen in that movie? I don’t know; sounds about right.

Scars are there to remind us of the love.

At Home All These Past Years

(On Our Anniversary Today)

If home is where your story begins,
Then I don’t recall a chapter before you.

There must have been no prologue;
At least not one worth mentioning.
Perhaps, the editor removed it for clarity.
All the better,
For the story worth telling
Must be the one that starts with you.

So, if home is where your story begins,
Then my story began here with you.

And if home is where the heart is,
Then my heart was stuck far too long
In the pages of the lonely flyleaf and the dull copyright.

Was I homeless before my heart found you?
I can’t remember. I don’t want to.
Perhaps, the realtor was banking on a better market.
All the better,
For the home worth sharing
Must be the one that’s here with you.

So, if home is where the heart is,
Then my home is forever with you.

5 Joys of Covenant Marriage

(or Five Things I Love About You)

(also or Happy Birthday)

1. Sharing

Food—I’m mostly talking about food. I love going out to new places and trying new things to eat. But what I love even more is being able to order TWO different things and being able to try some of both. Before being married, I felt like I was only living half of a life because it’s socially frowned upon to order two entire entrees for yourself alone. Don’t bother checking my math on that. You have completed me in so many ways—especially in allowing me to indulge in my foodie lifestyle; now our sharing is caring, and a happy tummy makes two lifestyle.

2. Synergy

You are my synergistic soul partner. I’m not even talking about the tax benefits of filing jointly. Well, maybe that is something to talk about. But really, I love that we accomplish more together than the sum of our individual efforts. It’s like if you tried to make a sandwich using whole peanuts and churned butter. Just doesn’t make sense or taste very good for that matter. But when you put it together: peanut butter! Wait, I don’t think that’s how it works… my metaphor is falling apart here…

3. Creating

And making a baby is like the jelly! Now we got a PB&J. There, totally saved it. But seriously, this whole making one from two phenomenon is wild. I love creating a new family, a new breath, a new existence with you. At the altar, two became one in spirit and in love. Now with our children, two have literally and physically become one. Mind blown. I have not recovered.

4. Unconditional Love

Total acceptance. Flaws and all. You see me like no other ever has. You see me at my worst and most shameful. I only get older and uglier every day. Yet, you still love me and choose to love me daily. Our love is not fragile. It is faithful. It is unconditional. We take each other as we are and choose to be bonded so that life is no longer life without the other. Not you or me, but us.

5. Kissing

It’s nice and fun. And other stuff too.

I love you Carmen Ruth Walker. Always and forever.

On Your Birthday

When you first opened your eyes,
The moment before I blinked
With vista full of tears,
I thought I saw
The galaxy swirling.
That a universe so incomprehensibly vast
Could be confined to such small vessels.

As hopes and
Dreams and
Wishes and
Prayers
All shot by at over eleven million miles per minute.

As you became,
I became something new under sun and moon.

Hope fulfilled.
More than dreams imagined.
Wishes turned truth.
Prayers answered
With a soft cry pushed into being by tiny lungs.

Miracles.

I thought I saw the galaxy be born.
I believe I heard the voice of God.

How To Keep Loving You More

Or what I’ve learned in seven years.

When I first fell in love with you
I thought my chest would explode.

Surely a heart cannot hold more.

But then it did hold more it seems.
Or perhaps better said:
It grew in capacity as time waltzed on.

When we first tied ourselves
Together in that
Beautiful,
Unbreakable
Knot.
My cup was full and
Overflowing
That it seemed to make an embarrassing mess.

Are not there limits even to this?

But then a larger cup was bestowed
And continued to be filled
Beyond what I can pretend to
Understand.

I loved you before to the point of bursting,
And I could not love you more.
But now I do love you more.
And tomorrow I shall love you more still.

And now,

As if the one
No longer able—or content—to grow and contain alone,
Determined to breathe into existence another that the
Love may be given yet over again;

As if there were no other way
To keep loving and stay sane
We have created another life
To love
And
To be loved.

So that if this heart has loved to its full,
Then here,
Here is another heart
I have helped to create to love more fully too.