My “Oh, Joy Begin” tattoo

Kailah Bartolome at Black Opal Tattoo hooked me up with this bright, wild tattoo that perfectly represents the essence of my son, Jack.

A couple of years ago, I got a tattoo in tribute to my daughter. Ever since then, I’ve been thinking and planning for the equivalent for my son, who is a couple of years younger than she is.

My wife discovered a tattoo artist in Bend, OR (Kailah Bartolome at Black Opal Tattoo), whom she instantly fell in love with. After looking at her work, I too came to love her work and her style.

My wife also introduced me to a song which, as soon as I heard it, knew was a perfect for Jack. The song is Samuari Cop by Dave Matthews Band and it talks about the joy that his child being born brought into his world and the importance of appreciating the younger years with your children.

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Becoming an American citizen

I live and die by my to-do list. Anything that needs doing needs to be in there or it won’t get done. So, when I got my permanent green card 12 years ago, I set up a reminder for earlier this year that I would need to renew it.

After taking a look at the situation, I was presented with a choice: renew my green card for 10 years for $540, or become an American citizen and pay $725 one time.

Previously, I’d never given it much thought. I had zero desire to become an American citizen and very much wanted to retain my British citizenship. But after actually thinking about it and asking myself the question, I decided there were definitely some benefits to becoming an American citizen:

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The current status of the “Hygiene Hypothesis”

The Hygiene Hypothesis says that Western culture is too clean to allow our bodies to build up a strong immune system. It turns out that’s mostly true, but with an important recent update.

I have grown up hearing that being a little bit dirty is good for you and that it helps to build your immune system. It kind of makes sense and it’s been my general approach to my own personal hygiene as well as how I decided to raise my children.

What I didn’t know (thanks to a recent episode of Stuff You Should Know) is just how new that theory is. In fact, it’s younger than me.

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The perfect alarm clock

First, there was the digital alarm clock. That was superseded by our mobile phones. Now, we know that having our mobile phones in our bedrooms is detrimental, and we need something much better to take its place.

As a child of the 90s, I grew up with a bog standard digital alarm clock and if I was lucky, it even had a radio.

However, as I grew up, mobile phones (cell phones) had all of the same functionality as the alarm clocks of old and you could even wake up to your favourite song so they were a sensible replacement for the now-defunct alarm clock.

Skip forward a decade and the pitfalls of using your mobile phone as an alarm clock are too widely known: Continue reading “The perfect alarm clock”

Should I buy a Prius or mentor a teenager?

With as much as Portlanders love the environment and the outdoors, there are quite a few Priuses on the road. But with all the carbon released into the atmosphere from the Eagle Creek fire, could all that environmental consciousness and good have been undone by a reckless teenager wielding a firework?

As a colleague of mine and I were talking about the devastation of the still-raging Eagle Creek wildfire, he mused about the environmental impact of this single man-made event. My curiosity got the better of me and I wondered whether the good deeds of environmentally-friendly Portlanders who buy Priuses have been undone by the firework-flinging teenager who (allegedly) started the fire. Continue reading “Should I buy a Prius or mentor a teenager?”

A Sky Full of Stars

I’ve wanted a tattoo in honour of Ellie for a while now and seeing how free and joyful Ellie is when she hears ‘A Sky Full of Stars’ was perfect for expressing my love of her in ink

Back in January, I went ahead and got my second tattoo. Whereas my first tattoo was for Marti, I decided that I also wanted one each for Ellie & Jack.

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about exactly what I wanted to get that embodied Ellie and how I feel about her. One of my favourite videos that I have of Ellie is when she fell in love with Coldplay’s A Sky Full of Stars and she would rock out to the chorus when it came on. Every single time I watch that video, her uninhibited joy makes me smile. And every single time I hear that song, it instantly makes me think of her.

I knew that I wanted to use A Sky Full of Stars in my tattoo for her when one day I was vacuuming with my headphones on and A Sky Full of Stars came on. For some reason, I was overcome with emotion (to the point of falling to my knees and sobbing with joy, which has never happened before) thinking about how much I love Ellie, what a blessing she is and how one day she’s going to be a grown woman that I may have the honour of walking down the aisle.

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How to say sorry

It’s taken 30+ years of life experience and 10+ years of marriage to realise that there’s a LOT more to apologising than I ever thought possible, and frankly, most people kind of suck at apologising.

“I’m sorry” is one of the most common phrases in the English language, but probably one of the most misused.

Before I got married, I didn’t understand any of the art of how to apologise. I thought you did something, you recognised that it was wrong, you said sorry and you perhaps asked for forgiveness. I was missing out on huge swathes of psychology, intricacy and emotion behind the phrase.

Since getting married and learning both by experience and by reading, I have learned that there is so much more to apologising and I was certainly doing it incorrectly in the past. A quick rundown of some of the things that you’re probably doing wrong when you try to apologise: Continue reading “How to say sorry”

Coming to terms with Trump

Preface: I’m keenly aware that as someone who has no voting rights in the USA, my words carry little weight, however, I’m also raising children (most notably, a daughter) in this environment, so I’m exercising my voice on behalf of my children who will one day have the ability to shape the world in which they live.

I’ve very much come to terms with the fact that Trump will be the next President. It’s done and I accept that.

What is much harder to come to terms with is the fact that people think this town jester who:

  • mocks the disabled,
  • lusts after and assaults women like an immature and dangerous college student,
  • considers “religion” to be an appropriate factor in determining one’s suitability for entering the country,
  • perpetuated the longstanding lie that Obama was born in Kenya
  • adjusts his limp backbone based on the response he gets from the people,
  • claims business acumen when his wealth would be double what it is today if he’d have retired in 1982 and invested in the S&P500,
  • derides people based on their looks despite looking like an orange-tinted, wig-adorned, plump corpse himself,
  • etc., etc. ad nauseam

is someone that a (near) majority of the people consider to be fit to serve in the highest office in the USA. It’s an absolute mockery. Continue reading “Coming to terms with Trump”

Because I said so

“Because I said so” stops conversations dead in their tracks, and that’s how we intend it: to shut our children down and expect their obedience without their understanding. This robs them of an opportunity to learn, develop and become more capable, functional people.

“Because I said so” is one of those phrases that drove us crazy as kids, that we swore we’d never utter and yet slips out of our mouths almost unconsciously.

Conventional parenting says that children are to be seen and not heard, which makes phrases like “because I said so” acceptable. They’re our last line of defence in a conversation that we’re seeking to end without any further explanation or inquisition. We expect full adherence because we’re in charge and what we say, goes. Continue reading “Because I said so”

Planning a road trip (move) from St Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR

Marti and I have been wanting to move to Portland for many years now and in the recent past, all of the stars aligned and we’ll be picking up and leaving FL early next year. I’ll be moving our belongings and vehicles across the country, so with many months to plan, I want to make sure that if I’m going to travel 3,500 miles, I’m going to make it the most enjoyable and beautiful road trip that I possibly can.

It has been our dream to move to Portland, OR for many years now. We’ve been waiting for the right time when my company was able to accommodate me in our Portland office so that I could stay with my company (whom I enjoy working for) and so that I would have a job waiting for me at the other end.

Sadly in my case, my company isn’t going to pay for the move because it is my preference to move there: they’re not requesting that I move for work reasons, so the financial burden is on me which I understand and accept. It’s just the price that we have to pay to realise our dream of moving out west.

So with that in mind, I now find myself in a position of trying to figure out how to achieve this. It’s quite a logistical operation, especially when you have a wife, two children and four cats. Continue reading “Planning a road trip (move) from St Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR”