March 15, 2008

Spending time with your kids

How do you balance life between taking the time to enjoy it with yourself or with your partner and spending enough time with your kids? My wife and I have had plenty of discussions about what it really means to spend time with our kids. I think personally it's those moments when I've got my littlest one on the bed and I'm making her scream with laughter, the times that our middle child and I play fight like we're ninjas and those instants that our oldest and I sit on the couch with her head on my shoulder. Those are the moments not only I'll remember forever, they are also the moments I think they'll carry with them. It's especially fun when, during the warmer days, my wife and I go all gunge-ho with the girls in the backyard using the garden hose and a bucket. They run around squealing and laughing their heads off and so do we. But am I naive to think of just these moments as time enough with my kids? Should I be more active in their lives? Of course I should. I'm guilty of getting self-indulgent and ignoring them. I think every parent has done it at one point or another. I should help our two older daughters with their homework more often, sit and watch their new Barbie movie with them and invite them into the kitchen when I'm cooking to help/learn. I'm not the perfect parent and I'll never claim that throne. I want every parent out there to know that and accept that, you'll never be the perfect parent but if you really love your kids and show them that you love them, those small moments will mean the world to them; even when they're 35, married and have kids of their own. Ask yourself, at least once a day, did my son/daughter and I have at least five moments today. If you can't remember or can honestly say "No we didn't", than start working on it. You might not hit your goal right away, it may take some time to really get the hang of it. That time will come though, when you can say "Yes, we had some very special moments today", and when you can say that, you'll feel like a million dollars. Your kids need to learn independence, how to spend time with themselves, have an imagination and so on and so forth; but they also need, very much, those memories of their parent/parents spending that time with them. Those kind of memories make them better parents, people and, in general, can be a really nice day booster when life's not going so well.

March 14, 2008

Western Karma

For some reason now ,in the past decade or so, Americans have started studying the whole "Eastern Religion" thing in an effort to "cleanse" themselves and find "inner peace". Through classes, meditation, i-ching, etc. we have begun to try to "cleanse" our auras. Maybe it's just me but what right do we have to have "inner peace" or to "cleanse" ourselves. We're the country of that prides ourselves on how well our economy is doing, celebrates material wealth and the country that throws away enough food to feed 3 or 4 third world countries. We are the producers of mass amounts of toxic waster and the biggest contributors to the depletion of the ozone. The list I could come up with would fill up my blog for a year. Yet somehow, in the midst of our "fast food nation" we think that "inner peace" is anywhere near our grasp. I personally think that you'd have to give up everything it is to be American and move to a small monastery in Tibet to achieve even a minimal amount of "inner peace". Or you could just let some obscure scientist erase all of your memories and drop you off in a remote Malaysian island, than you might find a yourself "cleansed". Let's face it, Americans carry way too much baggage for any amount of "inner peace". Self involved and short attention spans aren't qualities suited well for these "Eastern Religions". Either you accept the fact that you're an American and try to better yourself as a human being that way or go with the whole obscure scientist route. Because, I'm sorry, you're not made for inner peace even if you did give up your cheese burger for a garden salad.

March 13, 2008

Religious National Holiday's

I was thinking, while putting together Valentines day cards for my kids and their school sponsored Valentine's party, how no one really thinks about the significance of these holidays that we celebrate every year. Valentines day, for example, is a day meant to memorialize Saint Valentine. But I'm guilty too I guess, I don't know much about Saint Valentine myself. If you're interested in learning along with me about him, send me a comment or e-mail and I'll do some research. The big one that always got me though is the Christmas season. We have millions of people across the U.S., more than half of those people considering themselves "Non-Religious", celebrating a Christian holiday. Why, may I ask, are you celebrating a holiday for something you don't really even believe in. I know we've got Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and other varied religious holidays but if you're handing out presents in your living room on the 25Th of December, I'm sorry, but you're celebrating a religious holiday; The birth of Jesus the Christ. The word Christmas should be enough to point that out; Christ-Mass. So next time you're hanging your wreath, singing Christmas songs, giving and receiving Christmas presents, etc; Don't try to say "Oh no, I'm not religious" because otherwise you're doing one really sick thing. You're using a religious holiday only to get stuff and you need to take down all the decorations and return the presents. Christmas is a religious holiday, no matter how you put it. I don't care if you call it X-mas, it's the same holiday. If I say that was a frickin awesome movie, everyone knows your just using a code word for the alternative cuss word. It all adds up the same, no matter how you put it. I mean come on now people even the jolly old elf himself comes from an old German myth about a Christian Saint, Saint Nicholas. Okay that's it, got it off my chest.

March 12, 2008

Who are you ?

How do you truly decide who you are as a person? The common belief is everything from religious beliefs (or lack thereof) to the style in which you dress is part of who you are physically as a person. But how much of this even shows to the world who you really are. There are tens of thousands of "Christians" who believe in the bible, but how many of those people follow "biblical law" to a T. That guy sitting next to on the bus or at the stoplight with his i-pod and high end laptop could be considered by others to be egotistical. But inside he could have the self esteem of a snail. So, do we every really show who we "really are"? Of course the answer to that can be answered very simply, "No". We most commonly act and dress outwardly to give off a specific idea of who we want to be or what group we want to belong to. Think about how many people are in heavy debt and ended up in that position because they had a "wine taste on a beer budget". People trying to keep up with the "Joneses" often end up in this position in a futile attempt to "belong". And, of course, you can go to the extreme of this idea that we pretend to be who we are when you come across serial killers, child molesters, pedophiles, politicians, celebrities, etc; People that act a certain way to purposely hide who they are. There are plenty of accounts of people who have known serial killers and thought they were the "nicest neighbor" or a "great guy". Yet, behind that image they've given the people around them, there beneath the facade is a "monster". The same could be said about gays and lesbians who, for years, hid their sexuality from people close to them to avoid conflict; some even going to the extent of getting married and having children. Think about it next time you're sitting on the bus or in a restaurant look at the person next to you, remember not to get too freaked, and take in the realization that you could be standing next to a serial killer, your long lost father, a child molester or heck, even the next in line to the throne of Transylvania. You never know.

March 11, 2008

A brief history of Denver local Cheesman Park

Rumors abound about infamous Denver, Colorado’s Cheesman Park. Its history stretches back to 1858 when a General William Larimer jumped claim on the St. Charles Town Company and decided to found his own city, Denver. It was in November of that year that Larimer set 320 acres of that land aside to create a cemetery, the land now being the site of Cheesman and Congress Parks. Naming the cemetery Mount Prospect Cemetery, Larimer set aside several plots on the crest of the hill specifically for the wealthiest and most influential of Denver’s elite. The outer portion he kept for the criminals and beggars. Historians and folklorists dispute the first burial in the cemetery. Historians believe it to be a Mr. Abraham Kay, who died of a lung infection and was buried March 20, 1859. Folklorists tell a more sensational tale of the first burial being that of a man hanged for murder.
Two infamous murders later, one that of a man killing his brother, the other of a man well known figure in Denver history, Jack O’Neil, the U.S. government deemed that the property sat on federal land, having been signed over to the government by the Arapaho Indians in 1860. The government decided to offer the land to the City of Denver who purchased it for $200, the name being changed to Denver City Cemetery. After being used by different groups; Masons, Catholics, Jews, etc. the cemetery slowly rotted away. But in 1881 the cemetery became the home of a smallpox “hospital” and was used to rid the city of smallpox, most of the sufferers being left to die. Mass graves from this era still exist all over the Potter’s Field section of Cheesman. By the later 1880’s the cemetery had fallen into total despair and the city began to see it as a Bain on Denver’s landscape. Soon thereafter real estate developers lobbied to have the cemetery turned into a park. Senator Teller, of the Colorado Senate, finally convinced the U.S. Congress to allow it to be converted to a park on January 25, 1890. Renamed Congress Park by Teller the families of those buried there were given 90 days to remove the remains of those departed. A contract to remove the remains of the many criminals and beggars was set in motion when in 1893 the City of Denver contracted an E.P. McGovern to transfer the bodies to the Riverside Cemetery. McGovern was an unscrupulous man and used the contract to “milk” as much money as he could out of the City of Denver by using coffins to small for whole bodies and looting the gravesites. Mayor Rogers soon terminated the contract when McGovern’s tactics were discovered. But a new contract was never rewarded; although many of the graves were never reached and some were left completely exposed. Leveling the area began in 1894 and after filling many of the exposed holes with shrubs, the work was finally completed in 1907. Two years later a marble pavilion was built on the site in honor of Denver pioneer Walter Cheesman. And that area of the park became the now well known Cheesman Park. But the bodies of those left, due to Denver never signing another removal contract, still remain underneath the dirt of Cheesman. Many Denver residents believe Cheesman Park to be “haunted” because of the forgotten, robbed and desecrated bodies of those once buried there. To this day there are tales of paranormal activities occurring on the grounds and many visitors tell of a feeling of sadness and dread associated with much of the park grounds.

March 10, 2008

Did I hear you correctly ?

I remember growing up that as a parent you had boundaries on certain things. Those included the language you use around your kids, the kinds of things you wear around your kids, what they watched on t.v. or what kinds of books they read. There was a certain pride in being a parent and setting a good example. Now I go see these parent's walking around throwing cuss words left and right, dressing like they never left the teen years behind and listening to the heaviest gangster rap or metal out there. I get that you don't want to "give up" your individuality, but come on. Get it together, these are your children. If you felt like staying a teenager and not growing up than maybe you should have thought about that before you stopped taking that birth control or stopped using those condoms. They are not just your kids, they are the next generation. The ones who will carry on when we're gone. I'm not perfect and I'm not trying to tell you that you should be. I've made the mistake of throwing around cuss words like they're going out of style. That's why I'm trying, as one of the guilty, to get the message out that we're doing harm. That t-shirt that says "I don't ride bitch", that t-shirt that says "Open all night", etc. Those kids are paying attention to what it says and they're going to figure it out. I know that some of you say "What's wrong with that? They're gonna figure it all out anyway", but do you really want to look back and realize you're the one that showed them how to be crude. I guess I'm just trying to slow down the progress of turning our kids into clones of generations that obviously aren't working to well. Look at the world, can you honestly say everything is going great. We've got to start taking some responsibility for that. I'm not asking anyone to take all the blame on their shoulders, I'm just saying you've gotta carry some of the load. None of us are guilt free. We're all in this together, whether the world sucks sometimes or not, so let's at least try to tone down the negative and make it a bit easier.

March 9, 2008

Step Father, Who me ?

Becoming a father for the first time is a half scary, half exciting prospect. I experienced the birth of my first daughter, Kyrie Rayne Smith, May 22, 2007. But I was a step-father for quite a while before that. I have 3 daughters at the moment, a son is being added to that soon, and two of them are my “step” children. Now I guess most people when put in a situation with step children have a hard time connecting with the children at first. But from the very beginning I’ve felt like their father because I never let myself think about being a step father. I “had” my first step child a little over 2 and half years ago when I met my wife for the first time at a local restaurant. Her daughter Aleksa actually ended up being the one to introduce us. She and I kept making faces at each other and she ended up inviting me over to her table to meet her mom. From that moment on every time I saw Aleksa we were running around together, I was carrying her sleeping back to her moms car and I never for once thought “this isn’t my daughter, I shouldn’t be doing this”. I remember thinking the first time I carried her out to the car that I would protect this child with my life. It was a few months later, after her mom Bree and I started dating, that I met her other child Taylor. I talked to her on the phone a couple times but was nervous talking to this child I’d never seen. Apprehensively I drove down to Texas to bring her back from her birth fathers residence. Once again, right off the line I felt completely comfortable with her and had the same thought of protecting her with my life. Maybe it was because it was all so abrupt, so I didn’t have time to really think about it. But I think it was something else completely. It was the fact that I never made that conscience choice to look at them any differently just because they had a “birth” father out there. I play with them, teach them, punish them, feed them and protect them the same way I would if I’d been there in the delivery room. And I think that’s the real key to being a successful step parent. Just relax, it’s a child. They aren’t going to bite, hard. You’ve just got to stop thinking to yourself “this isn’t my child”. Because guess what, if you’re going to really be in a relationship with someone that has children from a previous relationship, you’re going to have to be their father. You’re not going to get a free ticket to sit on your butt when they cry, or want to play, or need help with their homework. And if you do try to take that free ticket out; your relationship with their mother or father isn’t going to last too long. Why would that person want to be with someone that is going to ignore their children and/or not take any responsibility at 3pm on some silly weekday when that child pee’s their pants? What are you going to do, just stand there? Never think that just because you weren’t there from the beginning that you’re not the parent because although that child may not start out looking to you as a parent, there will come that day when they need you as a parent. As my wife always says, “Love is thicker than blood or water”. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go make sure my kids are in bed, we have school drop off duty tomorrow and I want them to get plenty of sleep.

"Fifteen Minutes of Fame"

Something I’ve noticed for years now is that most people will do just about anything for their “15 minutes of fame”. Run around nude in public, do a stunt (usually of the shopping cart down the stairs variety), people even kill for their moment in the spotlight. We are living in what I like to call a “hey, over here, look at me” society. You’ve got people like Paris Hilton, who thrive on the attention whether it’s positive or negative. People like her and many other well known celebrities play the whole “dumb blond” thing up to obtain attention. Than on a whole other level you’ve got the case of the Columbine School shootings. The two shooters took quite a few lives in order to get the attention of those who had plagued them throughout high school. It doesn’t seem to matter all that much anymore whether the attention received is for a job done well or an act of evil. Attention is attention, right? And why wouldn’t a society, the U.S. especially, develop this “hey, over here, look at me” philosophy. We egg it on through television shows like Survivor, Jackass, American Idol, etc. They show that no matter what kind of stupid stunt you pull or how big of an ass you are that your prime time ready. Of course, this need for attention thrives in many other areas of our society too. The “nerd girl” who sleeps with “Mr. Popular”; hoping to pull some of his attention to herself and the countless women who have slept with “rock stars” and other celebrities; once again hoping to pull some attention in their direction. Even the supposed “alternative” cultures give into the game of popularity; watching terrible movies shot by some tweaked out director who needs a new day job. They say things like “Oh, I’m not into the mainstream stuff”, in effect making themselves stand out. The next group is the “posers”, people who listen to whatever music is popular at any given moment and dress up like the group they’re trying to immolate and spouting the group’s lingo. And they’ve always got ego’s the size of a double wide trailer. Speaking of ego, seems that in this day and age the louder, more obnoxious and egotistical you are; the “cooler” you are. Even the once taboo tattoos and piercing culture has become name brand. People go out and get a tribal band around their arms to show how unique they are; all the while the guy standing next to them at the grocery store has an almost identical tattoo. People take these things and become the poster image of alternative and “cool”, which of course takes everything unique about whatever was alternative and turns it into a fad. So now you’ve got everyone from “Daddy’s” girl to high school drop outs showing off their “flash” or their “tats”. But hey, maybe all of this need for constant attention is derived from “broken” families and my daddy was never their complexes; and people have become so used to running from their problems that they have to express themselves, make themselves “unique”. Let’s face it though, in the long run, if you’re not relaxed enough to just be yourself you’ll just spend the rest of your faking your way through. And guess what, people notice. In the end you’ll just end up confused about who you really are, going to therapy for help and buying up all the “self help” books you can find. In conclusion, if you’re not really being you than you’re just another ant marching along to the beat of a mass drum.