Category Archives: Dad Dealings

I Open At The Close

I open at the close.

Advice given to Harry Potter in Deathly Hallows now has a new meaning to my family.

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This has been a long journey from us actually deciding to look into houses in earnest. We found this house after looking at quite a few other options. Most were simply not viable. This one was the best option and it sort of clicked when we walked in that this was the place.

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We first signed a contract for the house in December but found out a few days later that it couldn’t be sold. Apparently there is a rule about getting a mortgage on a property that had been bought less than three months ago. Three months ago, you ask? Yep, it’s a flip house.

The previous owners bought the property and put some work into it, including a roof, windows, and general cosmetics, in order to turn it around and sell it for a profit. I’m completely comfortable with this because I simply wouldn’t be able to do that kind of work nor be able to finance it.

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It’s a 3br/1ba house, about 1100 sqft, a couple mature trees in the front yard (tire swing? yup!) and, one of my leading requirements, a nice flat front yard for playing around.

Going into a nice new house we were going to get newer furniture and will need a washer and dryer but we’ve already graciously been gifted some pieces by friends and family! Thank you all! We don’t really need much but if you want to contribute something small a gift card to Lowe’s or Target or Walmart (or anywhere you want) wouldn’t be turned away, but please don’t feel like we expect anyone to contribute anything! Just a message of good luck and any experiential advice will be welcome.

Keep an eye out for new posts about the house because we have plans to make this a home. I want to craft a loft bed for Sariah, we are planning a cool paint treatment for Sophia, and the kitchen will need some shelving and maybe a desk area. So much to do now. Keep an eye out on my Facebook page and YouTube channel too for videos from us!

 

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So, we have a new part of our life opening at the close of this deal Monday Feb. 22. Wish us well. Thank you for your part in getting us to this point in our lives!

My Awe-mazing Life, pt.4 – Parenthood

When you see you children conceived, developed in utero and then born thru this amazing process, it doesn’t make you wonder about the mind behind such a design?

101003205930_1_900x600.jpgI think I’ve said this before but of course I do! Wait, no, I don’t wonder about the ‘mind’ behind it because I don’t see the need for a mind behind it. I am in awe of the process and the intricate details that must be in just the right place and time for the sperm to fertilize the egg, for the sheath to form so only one sperm gets in, for the DNA of the two to combine to form the zygote, for the embryo to attach to the wall of the uterus in just the right place… I understand the process and wonder at it. But there is no reason to explain it away with a god.

images (1)Being a parent is more of an experience than I ever thought it could be. Everyday I am amazed at something Sariah or Sophia have done. One day I came home from work and Sariah was in her room reading to herself, I didn’t know if she would turn out to be a reader. Another day I was taking a nap and Sophia found me, woke me up, asked me to bite her apple for her (she can’t take the first bite), and then went to Crystal to tell on me for eating her apple! Hearing her exasperated sighs and explanation in her baby talk was incredible. These are my accomplishments, not your god’s.

How about one last Tim Minchin quote and video link.

And you, my baby girl
My jetlagged infant daughter
You’ll be handed round the room
Like a puppy at a primary school
And you won’t understand
But you will learn someday
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people who’ll make you feel safe in this world
My sweet blue-eyed girl
….
And if my baby girl
When you’re twenty-one or thirty-one
And Christmas comes around
And you find yourself nine thousand miles from home
You’ll know what ever comes
….
Your brothers and sisters and me and your Mum
Will be waiting for you in the sun
Whenever you come
Your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles
Your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum
We’ll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun

My Awe-mazing Life, pt.3 – Design

All the knowledge you hold about the human body and at the cellular level and the intricate detail involved in development and sustaining the metabolic process, you don’t ever wonder if their is an intelligent mind behind that design?

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Just as this person said, the details of the processes our bodies go through everyday with zero active involvement by us. It is awe-mazing. I don’t need to use a god to explain these processes because evolution does just that.

I’m sure there is contention in your mind about the idea of evolution but I’ll tell you this, in the scientific world there is evidence enough to have attained the status of scientific Theory (big T).

Evolution is powered by survival of the fittest. This means that the individual or group that is most adapted to the environment will be thrive while less adapted ones die off. I see it as a very simple and logical idea. The main problem people have is the amassing of very many extremely small changes causes a large change over a big period of time.clock2

I once explained it as a clock, don’t know if I came up with this or heard it from somewhere else. If I were to show you pictures of a clock at different hours and told you that the pictures were related but didn’t have a picture for every second in between each picture, you could say you don’t believe they’re the same clock because there were holes in the timeline. If we were then to look at the clock in person you say “See, only the second hand moves, you can’t watch the hour hand move so those pictures must be of completely different clocks.

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This analogy relates directly to the erroneous distinction of micro vs macro evolution. Just as the only difference between an hour and a second is time, so to the only difference between micro and macro evolution is time. Extremely small, even imperceptible, changes can add up. So the changes between each successive individual is unnoticeable but if you can look at the difference between individuals thousands of years apart the change could be drastic.

Some advice on reading about this subject would definitely include Richard Dawkins’ The Ancestor’s Tale, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Magic of Reality, or The Selfish Gene. Another great analogy is in the Ancestor’s Tale (I think) where we take an elevator down the floors, each a different step on the evolutionary chain, towards the ancestors. If we stop at each floor along the way we won’t see much, if any change, but if we jump say 100 floors or 1,000 floors the differences would be immediately noticeable.

If the mechanism can be explained then there is no need for a designer. The next book I will recommend is The Blind Watchmaker. When you believe everything is divinely designed what makes anything more amazing than any other thing?

The problem with saying there is a designer is the the design flaws. Glasses and hearing aids are the least of the worries, what about childhood cancer, or cancer at all. It is easily explained with science, why try to give credit to a faulty designer when you can’t also give the blame for the flaws.

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My Awe-mazing Life, pt.2 – Morality

Why you think some things are right and others are wrong?

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Morality. What is right and what is wrong. Of course I’ve thought about this, I’ve decided to take the burden of deciding what is right and what is wrong on myself, and I think if we look hard enough some theists have too.

To understand my morality I will link a video here that explains the basis for a secular morality. This talk was given by Matt Dillahunty, a well known, outspoken atheist who is one of the hosts of The Atheist Experience, an atheist talk show (now on skype/internet stream) that actually welcomes questions and comments from theists.

GoldenRule-2.jpgFollowing the dictates of a higher power isn’t morality, it’s following orders. Basically the foundation for my morality is empathy. You know the “Golden Rule”, but just to stop your thought process, this isn’t a Christian idea. Every religion/culture throughout history has had this idea, if they didn’t have this simple thought the civilization wouldn’t last. It isn’t rocket surgery to know murder is bad, but in some instances I think we would agree that the death of one individual is acceptable. This is a very big thing, situational ethics.

moralityGood and bad are within us all because that is what is required to keep our society around. I see no reason to give the credit for our good deeds to a god, especially when we would still keep all the blame for the bad.

Can a deity be both just and forgiving? Forgiveness is to take away the punishment for a misdeed, while justice is the rightful punishment of a misdeed. Seems like a contradiction to me but, then again, it isn’t my god so I don’t have to rationalize it.

If you have a good sense of humor about your belief and could use a laugh check out this video of Tim Minchin’s song The Good Book. The morality part of the song lyrics are here:

Morality is written there
In simple white and black
I feel sorry for you heathens
Got to think about all that
Good is good and evil’s bad
And goats are good
And pigs are crap
You’ll find which one is which
In the Good Book
Cause it’s good and it’s a book
And it’s a book (yeah!)

My Awe-mazing Life

Do you never wonder about the immaterial things like, why you have a conscience? Why you think some things are right and others are wrong? All the knowledge you hold about the human body and at the cellular level and the intricate detail involved in development and sustaining the metabolic process, you don’t ever wonder if their is an intelligent mind behind that design?  When you see you children conceived, developed in utero and then born thru this amazing process, it doesn’t make you wonder about the mind behind such a design?

 These are comments that were sent to me recently in an email, they reflect questions that many atheists are asked every day. I don’t think I’ve ever done a post about this particular stuff so here it is. I’m going to break down the quote into each question and address each one individually.

Do you never wonder about the immaterial things like, why you have a conscience?

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Of course I do, who wouldn’t!? I just don’t feel the need to answer every question with ‘god did it’. I can’t explain the exact parts that make us have higher brain functions than other animals but I am confident that it is something like Aristotle described it “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

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We don’t know exactly how much ‘feeling’ other primates or other animals have. It has been shown that mice will stop pressing the button that gives them food if they find out it is causing another mouse pain. Sharing and apparent caring have been observed in gorillas. To deny that animals have morality is some sort of special pleading and denial that we aren’t completely unique in this world.

More immaterial concepts exist; love, hate, etc. These are usually brought up so I will address them beforehand. Some people claim that the skeptic can’t be sure of love because there isn’t evidence for it. There is evidence if the love is there. In the little looks and caresses you and your partner share. A kiss feels much different when the feelings aren’t there to motivate it. Hate is much the same, except for the kiss part. A lovely post I came across recently on Imgur.com recounts children’s answers to the question ‘What is love?’

I’ll link this video by Tim Minchin here and the most relevant lyrics below.

But the human body is a mystery!
Science just falls in a hole
When it tries to explain the the nature of the soul.
….
Life is full of mysteries, yeah,
But there are answers out there
And they won’t be found
By people sitting around
Looking serious
And saying isn’t life mysterious?
Let’s sit here and hope
….
Does the idea that there might be knowledge
Frighten you?
Does the idea that one afternoon
On Wiki-fucking-pedia might enlighten you
Frighten you?
Does the notion that there may not be a supernatural
So blow your hippy noodle
That you’d rather just stand in the fog
Of your inability to Google?
….
Isn’t this enough?
Just this world?
Just this beautiful, complex
Wonderfully unfathomable, natural world?
How does it so fail to hold our attention
That we have to diminish it with the invention
Of cheap, man-made Myths and Monsters?

Sharing vs. Self-Denial: When Your Kids Insist on Martyrdom

Source: Sharing vs. Self-Denial: When Your Kids Insist on Martyrdom

Accountability

It is nearing…

I know no one reads this except me. I’ve accepted that. Just as Dumbledore needed his pensieve, I need this blog.

I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.
-Albus Dumbledore

Eight years old is considered the “age of accountability” in the LDS church. I suppose that means I have to bring up my apostasy again. I don’t know if it will renew the fights that have been known to occur when I bring up the church but I hope it won’t.

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I haven’t ever said anything (that I know of) about the girls being taken to church. They have gone both to LDS services and different Christian churches with family members, though I think I could count the number of times on one hand. This seems to be a different issue though. Should I allow her to be baptized into a church that she knows nothing about? Is there even going to be any push-back from the other side? Will I have to fight for my stance? Hopefully all three of these answers are no.

I’ve been online and reading through the thought processes of other people who have gone through this. Some say to be the man that baptizes your kid while others say to take a stand and make the decision wait until it is fully understood by the child. While each side is going to work for some family I haven’t wavered from what I thought I would do before I read all the stories. I am completely unable to do the first as I have renounced my membership and faith in the LDS church, but that doesn’t have any affect on my thoughts.

The fact is that I won’t agree to Sariah, and Sophia in a few years, being baptized into the church at eight. I am steadfast in my position that they won’t be taken “into the fold” until they choose to associate with the church.

Since I’m bringing up the theism stuff again I think I will take this time to share a podcast that I’ve been listening to lately. Unequally Yoked is a show of a couple talking to each other about their beliefs and their journey to where their family is now. I know I haven’t been this open in my relationships and use this blog to get what I need out of my head.

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Naomi is LDS and Neal is an atheist. I enjoy their open and honest discussion and am actually envious of it. I haven’t listened to it yet but one of their children is coming up to eight years old and is the first to do so since Neal renounced his faith. I hope to hear their discussion on the topic but I don’t feel that it will change my position on the topic.

I have tried to stay away from religion since the fighting and distancing of family members, as part of that I don’t know where some people stand. I guess it will all come out soon. In reference to that, I’ve been reading about and listening to something called Street Epistemology, another post to follow at some point.

 

An Unusual Feeling

That’s what I’m having currently, an unusual feeling. It’s somewhere in my chest, I know I’ve felt it before but never like this. Don’t be scared, I know what it is and why it’s there; it’s pride.

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Yes, I’ve been proud of myself before; Graduation, Marriage, Births of my daughters, their accomplishments, but never about something I chose to do and stuck with. I’ve been attempting to make myself better and I had a lull through the fall but I’ve been back at it and am seeing some results.

I decided, before Christmas, to get back on the diet but to be a bit more lenient with it so I could stick to it better. So far, I’m doing good. I can’t keep a vegan diet; I just can’t, yet. I love cheese, and milk, and eggs, and yogurt. I have cut out meat for the most part and very carefully call myself a vegetarian. I don’t have anything against meat but I think I will save it for those “rare and appropriate” times. I have also tried to keep out processed foods as much as possible, and attempted to cut out as much salt and sugar as possible.

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I’m down 32 lbs as of today. I actually saw some change in my face in the mirror a couple days ago. Someone at work knows I am trying to change and has been super supportive. She tries to make note of me changing every day she sees me. I don’t know if it’s her being nice or her actually seeing a change but it is helpful. You know who you are, just so you know, you are the only person who has said anything to me so far. No one has been outright discouraging or mean about it but it feels the same when they simply don’t address it at all or are dismissive of my choice of food.

If you don’t know, it’s hard being the fattest person around. Being aware of the furniture and deciding whether or not it will hold you up. I simply look at a toilet and if its one of those floating ones I just have to hold it in. It’s hard feeling like everyone is watching you and judging every movement. Even if you aren’t wanting to be discouraging, maybe you just want to be silent about the whole thing, being silent feels just as bad sometimes. Don’t go crazy but just for my (and anyone else in my position’s mentality) fake it, act like you are supportive.

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To help me on my journey I splurged a bit and bought myself a scale and a watch from Withings. I got the Activite’ Pop in Bright Azure and the Wireless Scale. I wish I had gotten the Smart Body Analyzer now but it’s done. (I got a very, VERY, good deal on these products because of a short time special offer so I can assure you that the price on the website was not what I paid.) If you want to get me a gift I would really like the Aura Connected Alarm Clock. I actually think I will get the Nest thermostat when we get our new home because it can connect to the system too.

I wish I knew more people who were losing weight and had this equipment because it is possible to share your activity with your support structure.

Speaking of support, my links are here. If you are attempting to change your lifestyle or have changed and are looking to encourage and support, befriend me. (I don’t know how to connect or show a link to my Withings stuff but it all funnels into MFP too.)

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This isn’t my New Year’s resolution. They hardly ever stick. This is my life changing. Thanks for reading!

My Favorite Podcasts

It has been a while since I have written as often as I did when I began this blog. It seems as if I said what I needed to say and now I only write about something that sparks my thoughts. Today’s post isn’t about religion, it isn’t about about work, it isn’t even about my family; it’s just about me.

What do I do to entertain myself? This is the post that will answer part of that question. I intend to do a series of posts explaining what I like. Certainly they can be used as gift ideas for yours truly but these posts are more for memory sake. I want to be able to reread these in the years to come and see how my tastes have changed (or not) and to be able to share memories with Sariah and Sophia as they grow. You know those old people and their stories. We’ll all be there one day, might as well get my stories ready now.

If it’s in my list I would endorse it for you to listen to. Enjoy.

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Dessert For Your Ears

A comedy podcast hosted by Matt Donnelly (@SweetMattyD) and Paul Mattingly (@TheFamousPaul) with Jacob the AudioGuy on the wheels of steel. Matmatt_and_mattingly_by_jon_estrada_WEBt and Paul are godless improv comedians in Las Vegas who chat about life and news, respond to ScoopMail from listeners (aptly called “Scoops”), and compete in Jock vs Nerd quizzes in this twice weekly cast.

I’ve been a listener since episode 1 and it has been a favorite ever since. From legal issues with their first design to their recent weight-loss journey, the show is a must listen. A “Voltron of hilarity” it says on their homepage; as Matt is co-host of Penn’s Sunday School and Paul is co-host of the Ugly Couch Show and Geek Shock.

Tune in for Matt and Jacob’s take on sports or Paul’s feelings about nerd news, either way, tune in and get lost in a world of inside jokes.

Admittedly, this the place (along with Penn’s Sunday School) that sparked my drive for weight-loss currently.

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Preaching the Love

Penn’s Sunday School was one of the first podcasts I downloaded when I became aware of what podcasts were. Honestly, it has slipped down the list of my favorites as of late because he has gotten away from the interviews I so enjoyed, but I keep it on the download list in hopes he’ll hook me once again.

penn-sunday-schoolPenn Jillette (@PennJillette), of Penn and Teller fame, Matt Donnelly (@SweetMattyD), Dustin Knouse (@DustinKnouse), and Michael Goudeau (@DamnedJuggler) host a weekly podcast in which they talk about the week’s news and speak to special guests.

Hopefully it is obvious but I will put the warning out there: the listeners are called the “Congregation” but this show is by atheists for atheists, it is not a sunday school for the church-goers. This does not mean this show is dedicated to religion bashing!

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Bringing Pop Culture and Cult Geekery to the Masses

Geek Shock (or The Ugly Couch Show or The Paul Show) is the epitome of geek culture put into one show. The guys are currently: Master Torgo, The Famous Paul, Kommander K, 80’s Jeff, Maple Leaf Matt, and Fact Check Andy, among others. If you thought the other shows on this list had inside jokes, it’s nothing compared to those associated with the Ugly Couch Show and Geek Shock.

“This Week in Geek” and “News You Don’t Give a Shit About” are major features of the show and you can always count on The Famous Paul to bring out a character (Mumm-Ra the ever living apparently lives in a cellar under the bathroom) or two and bring the entire show to a halt with laughter.

For news and information on movies, games, comics, TV shows, games, and geek culture this is the show for you.

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The Atheist Experience is a show that has been going since the late 90s as part of the Atheist Community of Austin. They produce a weekly show that is on public access tv, streamed live online, uploaded to YouTube, and placed up as an audio podcast for download. The show is dedicated to develop and support the atheist community as well as field questions from theists.

It would be much too long a list to list all the cast and crew here but they are all identified on the Atheist Experience website. I enjoy this show because they not only speak to atheists but to theists and everyone in-between. As it is a public access show,language is censored but not ideas.

The Non Prophets is a live internet radio show airing on the first and third Wednesday of every month. Jeff, Russell, and Denis make their way through atheist news, events, mail and “Shit Internet Apologists Say”.

Both are outreach arms of the Atheist Community of Austin.

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My Brother, My Brother and Me is an advice-cast for the modern era featuring three real-life brothers: Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy. For roughly five-sixths of an hour each week, with new episodes dropping every Monday, the brothers McElroy will answer any query sent our way, each fielding questions falling into our respective areas of expertise. We operate like a streamlined, advice-generating machine. It’s both terrifying and humbling to behold.

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The Dead Authors Podcast is a comedy and faux-historical podcast hosted by Paul F. Tompkins in character as H.G. Wells. In each episode, he welcomes a deceased author via his “time machine” to discuss their lives and their work. The podcast was created in support of 826LA and all proceeds from the show are donated to the organization

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MuggleNet.com’s podcast, appropriately titled “MuggleCast,” is an informative talk show dedicated to everything Harry Potter. This show’s been around for years and years. I remember being a part of the very first few episodes, including my member status in the “Pickle Pack”.

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Assume nothing. Question everything. And start thinking.

The Thinking Atheist is a website, radio podcast and online community which rejects faith as a suitable tool for living.

Far too often, faith (believing something without evidence) is celebrated, reason is distrusted, and people are encouraged not to ask questions, test the waters, demand evidence or think outside the religious box.

Host Seth Andrews wants to make sure everyone knows the Thinking Atheist isn’t himself; isn’t a person. It’s an icon. It’s an idea.

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The Mormon Expositor is a biweekly podcast leveraging a panel discussion format and focusing on Mormon doctrine, practices, culture, and history.

Named after the publication of the same name from the 1800s. If you don’t know the story of the Mormon Expositor, especially if you are LDS, look it up. This podcast routinely has people who were deep into the religion and even those that aren’t entirely out of the belief system yet talking about the church, the beliefs, and personal experiences.

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Keep Looking Up

StarTalk Radio bridges the intersection between Pop Culture and Science with clarity, humor and passion. Captivating subjects—such as space travel, extra-terrestrial life, the Big Bang, the future of our Earth and the environment, and breaking news from the universe—will all be explored. Hilarity ensues as Tyson is joined each week by comedian co-hosts, celebrities, and other special guests.

Favorites of the co-hosts include Eugene Mirman and Chuck Nice. This is a fun, science-filled podcast for all listeners.

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ER Cast is a focused discussion on the questions, quagmires and known unknowns we (they) face everyday in the emergency department. Each episode of Ercast covers a single issue and tries to tease out all the relevant elements that affect your practice without overstuffing your frontal cortex. It’s for physicians and anyone interested in a bare bones look at emergency care.

It’s directed at physicians but I love getting the insight and behind the scenes look at medicine from the eyes of the docs.

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Ardent Atheists Emery Emery and Heather Henderson talk with comedians, actors and friends about atheism, deism and the effects of religion on us all. Guests of the show are a mix of atheists, agnostics, deists, scientists, humanists and the occasional god-loving, scripture-quoting crusader. Discussions are deeply impassioned, mostly respectful and always funny.

Skeptically Yours is really just the same show, another way to make money I suppose but I like having more content to fill my ears.

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A Quick Message for Sariah

So, last night you told me about a boy in your class. I thought I had more time. Just kidding. David Tyson, I think was his name.

You told me about how he talks funny and messes with you. I had to explain that boys are just like that. When they like you they are usually too shy or embarrassed to say they like you, instead they pick on girls and kind of try to deny that they like her. It took some probing but I got you to admit that you liked him too. I am so proud that I could get you to talk about it.
I don’t know if you are still this way but you have always been shy/embarrassed when confronted with even the most basic things. In ballet you were always embarrassed to show off your dances but then on other days you’d just dance your heart out. You never wanted to be congratulated for doing something good and god forbid we put you in front of a crowd for anything. I love that about you because I am the same way.
It’s quite funny that this came up now, it’s only been a week or so since you and your mother found my old yearbooks and saw where I had drawn a heart around my elementary school crush, Brittany Wiseman. I will never forget her and I wonder if the same will happen between you and David Tyson (apparently there are two Davids so everyone calls them by their full name).
I can remember my feelings for Brittany and constantly wonder what if but I doubt very much that I would change anything if I could go back in time.
Don’t spend your time worrying about the past. Hind sight is 20/20, yadda yadda. The past is in the past, the future is unwritten, the present is just that, a present. Enjoy your life now.
As always, from your loving father.
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