Second Chances

I turned 31 today.

I thought about writing a post about how I still feel young, but that would be a lie.

I feel old.  My knees pop when I walk. I have to take knockoff Ibuprofen every day to keep the swelling in my ankles down. My favorite drink is sparkling water. I fall asleep by 11pm on weekends if I don’t have any plans. I’m always tired. Gardening excites me. I turn on the radio and I don’t recognize most of the songs playing on the “hip” stations (but I still know all of Deliah’s jams at night). I am constantly reminiscing about the “old” days of AIM, *NSYNC, and answering a telephone and not knowing who was on the other end.

Honestly, some of that stuff makes me sad.  I miss being able to lose five pounds over a weekend.  I miss the late-night shenanigans of college.  I miss TRL.

But, yo, I’m so thankful to be 31. I’m so thankful to be alive. I’m so thankful for my friends, my family, my church, my job, and my Chihuahua. I’m so thankful for Justin Timberlake.

I’m so thankful for second chances.

Just a few years ago, I wanted to give up on God. I wanted to walk away from my marriage. I wanted to quit on my dreams. I was bitter and confused.

Thankfully, I’ve seen each of those areas of my life restored. I’m undeserving of such a gift. I thank God for His limitless grace, my wife for her infinite patience, and my friends and family for their constant encouragement.  I thank Justin for “Mirrors.”

I’m thankful for second chances.

I’m also thankful for all of you who feel inspired to babysit our twins.

Worthless

If you are anything like me, there are days, if not weeks, months, or years, where you feel worthless, hopeless, and insignificant.  You’ve screwed up, a lot, and you believe that you have nothing important to say, do, or contribute.  You missed your chance.

Wrong.

How do I know?

Well, as my wife says, I know everything.  If that doesn’t convince you, check out these two pictures:

Patriots Logo

Napoleon Block

Why do I care about a Patriots logo and a name plate with a mostly-legible “Napoleon” on it?  Don’t worry, I’ll tell you.

These objects are handmade.  Each was carved from a piece of wood and painted by hand.

By my brother.

My brother has been in jail for three years.  He’s 17.

He’s done some terrible things and has made some bad decisions.  Despite all that, he is still capable of making something beautiful.

You are too.  Regardless of your flaws, mistakes, and despair.

Never let anyone, especially yourself, tell you differently.  

America’s Year in Review (2013) – The Music Video

Happy New Year!  I hope and pray that you all have a blessed, exciting, and adventurous 2014!  With twins on the way, I think I’m in for an interesting, wonderful, and tiring year!

A lot of important things happened in the United States in 2013.  Thus, I wrote a song about them.  My wife, my Chihuahua, and I then made a music video about some of those memorable moments.

2013 Year in Review - Music Video

Thanks for watching, for sharing, and for being YOU!  Enjoy!

Anniversary Rap

Oh snap!

(Do people still say that?)

Me and my BFF made an anniversary rap:

Anniversary Rap

Happy 8th Anniversary, Amanda!

Yesterday, I wrote a post about some of the mistakes I made that once crippled my marriage.  It’s never easy to share the dark parts of my past, so I greatly appreciate the kind words and support.

I’m a complicated guy who likes to swerve between serious and silly in a haphazard manner.  Thus, here’s Part 2 of my marriage post: a surprise anniversary rap for Amanda.  It’s awkward.

Thanks so much for watching!  You can check out other dumb “music” videos here.

The Marriage Mistakes

Today is my eighth wedding anniversary.  I have three thoughts about that:

1.  I’m thankful that we’ve made it this long.
2.  We’re old.
3.  I wish I didn’t screw up the first six years.

I was 22 when we got married back in 2005.  Thus, I didn’t know anything.  Unsurprisingly, we got off to a rocky start.  Three days before our wedding, Amanda wanted to pull a “Runaway Bride” and ditch everything.  She told me to marry one of her non-sister bridesmaids instead.  That would have been awkward for Amanda’s family who showed up for the wedding.

Thankfully, I didn’t get left at the altar.
The Mistakes of Marriage

Law school and the pressures of teaching a classroom full of middle school kids didn’t help.  Neither did watching too much trashy TV.  We talked about divorce in 2009.  We talked about divorce in 2010.  We talked about it a lot more in 2011.  However, by the grace of God, we stuck it out, mostly because neither one of us wanted to be responsible for taking the dog out twice a day.  Back in October 2011, I returned from a ten-day trip to Turkey, and BAM, everything was different.  We got the fresh start we desperately needed.

Wedding Chapel

Although I’m not a marriage expert and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, I’ve learned these important lessons from my many mistakes over the past eight years:

(1)  Your wedding is not that important.  Yep, it should be a fun, amazing, and joyous day of celebration.  However, it’s just one day.  Don’t lose sight of the person you are marrying and why you are marrying him or her because you’re too stressed about floral arrangements and seating assignments.

(2)  I love TV.  I love the internet.  However, I’ve spent way too much time looking at screens over the past eight years instead of hanging with my wife.  I regret that.  The two of you sitting on the couch while you each stalk people on Facebook or watch “Heroes” shouldn’t count as your “quality” time (especially because “Heroes” sucked after the first season).

(3)  Work is important.  School is important.  Neither is more important than a relationship with your spouse.  It’s hard to live that out day-to-day, but if you don’t, those lost days will quickly turn into months and years.

(4)  When you get mad at your spouse, it’s easy to start thinking about how your life would be so much better if you were single or if you had married someone else.  Don’t go down that road.  It usually leads to dark places full of discontent and lies.

(5)  Don’t dwell on old drama.  It’s fun, in some sort of twisted way, to reopen old wounds and play the blame game.  However, those types of shenanigans will poison your relationship with bitterness.  You need to learn from past mistakes, not dwell on them.

To avoid ending on a serious and depressing note, here’s a picture of our dog wearing sunglasses:

Napoleon Sunglasses

The Family

Other than some intense hours at work spent wrasslin’ with an Excel spreadsheet that has more than 20,000 rows, today was a pretty sweet Monday:

I chilled with this cool girl I know:

Amanda

I kicked it with this tough guy:

Napoleon Titanic

We also got to see our little dude and dudette during a sonogram appointment today.

The dude:

Boy

The dudette:

Girl

The sonogram appointments are pretty tiring: it’s really warm in there, the white noise is sleep-inducing, and you spend 1-2 hours staring at a grainy screen.  However, those appointments are such a powerful reminder about the miracle and wonder of life.  The doctor also gives out free mints.

We’re so thankful for these little superstars.  They appear to be perfectly healthy and they have already brought us so much joy, thankfulness, and faith (and increased credit card bills).  Most importantly, the baby doctor is right next to a McDonald’s, so the babies have given us a wonderful excuse to crush some McFlurries.

Finally, we decided on the names. It’s so exciting, and makes everything so much more real, when it’s not just a “baby” or a “dude,” but a “Luke” or “Leia.”  We’ll keep the names a secret for now, but, for better or for worse, my top choices didn’t make the cut.  Thus, no Luke and Leia, Justin and Britney, Aaron and Erin, or Andy and Mandy.

Thankful

Christmas and Halloween are pretty rad, but Thanksgiving is the Britney Spears of holidays.  

Thanksgiving is the best holiday.  Yo.

There is amazing food, endless football, and it’s not out-of-control crazy like Christmas.  Most importantly, it’s an amazing time of reflection and gratitude.

Our 2013 Thanksgiving Family Photo
Thankful

Things will look a little different next year.

Oh, and I can eat SO much pumpkin pie during Thanksgiving and not even feel that bad about it.

Thankful5

Back to the “important” stuff.  Being thankful and junk.

Here’s what I’m most thankful for in 2013:

-A God who forgives.  I desperately need that.  All the time.

-A wife who is patient and doesn’t reject my pleas to help film “music” videos.

Awkward White Guy Rap - Lose Yourself - Eminem

-The dude(tte) who invented selfies.

Thankful3

Thankful7

-Creative friends.

Bert and Ernie

-A little boy and a little girl.

Sonogram

Sriracha.  I put that stuff on everything.

-Jordans

Jordans

-Baby Jordans.

Baby Jordans

-The new fro-yo place by my office.

-The new fro-yo place by my house.

Justin Timberlake.  “Mirrors” was my jam this year.

-My new brother-in-law.  Now I don’t feel like a third wheel when Amanda and her sister hang out.

steven

-A job where I can be myself

-A church that encourages me to become a better version of myself

-Tom Brady.  Thanks for standing ten feet away from me in January.  It was fun hanging out with you.  (It counts.)

-Sparkling water

-The heroes who come to our Cap City Church small group.  Y’all are nuts, but you are encouraging and entertaining individuals who I don’t want to do life without.

-“Wrecking Ball.”  This was the best song of 2013.  Hopefully I didn’t ruin it.

-The Mexican and Peruvian restaurants by our house.

Thankful7

-Razors

razor

Hannah M., Brian W., Matt C., Jon Acuff, and Taylor Swift.  You all inspired and encouraged me to start writing this blog.  Thanks.  Now, you must apologize to the rest of the world.

-The people who read this blog.  It means the world to me and I am so grateful for you.

-Red pants

redpants

-My Virginia Beach friends.  Yes, our city can be a little cheesy.  Yes, it can be a little trashy.  However, it’s an amazing place to grow up.  Plus, it’s full of spectacular people.

blog2

-All my friends.  Thanks for the encouragement and the laughs.

-My BFFs who decided to marry each other.

howardandkelly

-Beaches in winter

-The people who actually watch my dumb “rap” videos.  They have gotten 40,000 hits on YouTube over the past few months.  That makes me a little scared for humanity.  However, ease up on the mean YouTube comments.  We have feelings too!

-Kelly Kapowski

-Silly friends

Stop Yelling

Chubbies Shorts

-Cheesy baby stuff

Halloween Shirt

-My red Puma coat.  I’m biased, but it’s pretty dope.

Eric and Andrew

-Taco Bell.  I want you everyday.

-Getting every penny back from our trip to Toronto that was cancelled at the last second due to a blizzard.

-Going crazy for Amanda’s 30th birthday by building her a tower of 30 presents.

amanda gifts

-Being alive

-Powdered donuts

-Game nights

twister

-The Washington Nationals.  The 2013 season was disappointing, but we still had fun.

lombo

-Haribo gummy bears

-Haribo everything else

-Our flower beds.  It was fun feeling like an old man each morning I watered the beautiful flowers and plants Paul, Eddie, and Chris planted.

Nando’s Peri Peri.  If you’ve never been, go immediately.  Eat everything.

Bonobos

bonobos

-UVA’s basketball team.  Thanks for helping me heal from a disastrous UVA football season.

-“Cruise” by Florida-Georgia Line and Nelly.  I love this song.  A lot.

-My bicycle

-Not crashing on my bike at all in 2013

-Family

-Sunrises

-Sunsets

-Chips and salsa

-Jack Link’s beef jerky

…and…most importantly…

My dog

photo

Oh, and Zack Morris.  Thanks for the inspiration, bro.