I have blogged a lot about myself, my cancer, my life, my love (Carey), and everything in between. I mention my kids fairly frequently, but I haven’t spoken too much about them. In the past it was because they were younger and I didn’t want to expose them on the web. Now that they’re older, I think I’ll introduce you to them, by age.
Matthew is 15-years-old and is in his first year of high school. As you can see from the picture above, he loves to play the guitar. That’s my Dean electric he’s playing, although I suppose it’s really his now – he plays it non-stop and I am usually picking on the acoustic guitar.
Matthew is an amazing guitar player. He took, literally, garage lessons from a friend of the family for a few months a couple of years ago but he’s otherwise self-taught. He has far surpassed my ability to play guitar. He’s like his grandfather (my father). My father has always been a great guitar player and, while the talent skipped a generation with me, Matthew inherited it.
Matthew was on the wrestling team for his school this year (the season is over now). This was his first year of participating in school athletics and he really enjoyed it. He made an impression on the coaches with his dedication and commitment.
Matthew’s also in a program called AVID. It’s a scholastic program where fairly average students with high potential get a chance to push themselves. Matthew is extremely intelligent, but has always struggled with school – mostly because if focus and interest. No longer – in the AVID program, Matthew is in all Honors and AP classes. He’s doing great – he averages a 3.0 – 3.5 GPA, although lately he’s been struggling more because he missed a lot of work when he was sick with the flu last month.
Matthew also was chosen to participate in the People to People Ambassador program. If we can raise enough money, he’s going to Japan this summer to represent his town. We’re coming down to the wire and don’t really have enough money yet – so if you want to donate, drop me an email and I’ll work it out with ya.
Matthew has an amazing sense of humor – he finds EVERYTHING funny. He also has a big heart – he looks out for his younger brother and sister. He befriends everyone and gives everyone the benefit of the doubt. He’s generally easy-going, laid back, and just a joy to be around.
He’s at an age where he’s becoming a man and the typical pushing of boundaries is occurring, but Matthew, the amazing young man that he is, is never disrespectful. He knows what he wants, approaches me, and gives me an intelligent argument or explanation. We have very few issues – I used to worry that him and I would have major issues the way my father and I did at that age, but we seem to have worked it out and share a mutual respect and admiration for each other.
Christopher is also an incredible writer. He inherited my talent for the written word. He wrote his first real story, “The Adventures of Glowboy” when he was in third grade. It reads like it was written by a high school student. By contrast, I wrote my first story in sixth grade, it was titled “Knight and Squire.”
Christopher is a straight A student – and has never had to work hard in academics. I worry about him a little when he hits middle school next year – classes will be a lot harder. I know he’s going to do fine (he’ll probably still get all As and Bs), but I wonder how he’ll feel about having to step it up to keep up.
It’s not uncommon to have completely random facts come out of Christopher for no good reason. He’s like me in that way. He’ll pipe up out of nowhere and tell me it took 644 licks to get to the center of his Tootsie Roll pop. Or he’ll get angry at his brother and tell him he’s lucky that the “Code of Hammurabi” doesn’t apply any more.
An example of how intelligent he is. he knows the speed of light. His middle name is “Orion” after my favorite constellation. One of his big Christmas presents was a 130-in-one electronics kit. He spends hours making Morse code generators, AM radios, and tweeters on that kit.
When his older brother needs help on the computer he goes to Christopher. Christopher hooks up all the electronics in the house – I don’t even supervise any more. He’s a natural scientist.
But that’s not all – he’s also a nature and animal lover. He is the primary trainer of Cassie, our Beagle. He can spend hours in the woods or walking by himself, and loves to go camping. He’s quite a character – he loves nature and hates being away from his technology. heh
Christopher is also my “toughie.” You only know he’s sick when it’s really bad. He also doesn’t talk a lot unless he’s in a really goofy mood. He’s quiet, introspective, and likes to hold himself a little bit on the outside of things. Like a good writer, he observes a lot and participates when he wants to. He’s not the social butterfly Matthew is. He has a few friends and doesn’t need a lot of fanfare or attention from them.
Christopher is also my sensitive guy. He is devastated whenever he gets caught doing something wrong and feels bad. Counter that with the fact that he’s also the biggest practical joker in the family and you have a recipe for disaster. He scares the hell out of someone then feels so bad about it he gets upset. heh
Christopher’s latest thing, which reminds me so much of myself when I was his age, is that he likes to wander the neighborhood alone. He’ll grab his cell phone and tell me he’s going to roam the neighborhood. He just spends time with himself and walks and thinks and has adventures in his head. Just like Dad.
I have learned that this is a key difference between little boys and little girls – and in the year and a half I’ve been with Carey and Ashlee I have learned how to interact with her – although I still tease her a little like I do the boys.
Ashlee and I bonded very quickly over our love of science fiction. We watch sci-fi on TV together all the time. She particularly loves the new Knight Rider and won’t let me delete it from the DVR until she is done watching it – twice. Right now she’s annoyed at me because I got the first season of Eureka from Netflix and won’t let her watch them without me.
Ashlee loves to color – but not to draw. She has a great sense of color coordination and regularly brings me colorings she has done. She has a way of putting two colors together that I never would have thought would have looked good – but they do.
We have this game on the Wii, the Animal Crossing game I blog about that Carey and I play so often. Ashlee drives me nuts when she plays – it’s a perfect example of how non-competitive she is. When Carey and I play, we’re trying to get as much “money” as we can so we can get a bigger house or better furniture. When Ashlee plays, she’ll spend hour upon hour designing new outfits for her characters. And she’s good at it too.
Ashlee is also my little animal lover. Ever since she was introduced to Cassie (our beagle) she’s became Cassie’s primary caregiver. She takes Cassie for walks, feeds her, plays with her, and begs weekly for permission to let Cassie sleep with her.
Ashlee used to struggle in school, but not any longer. She’s a very strong-willed child and went to a magnet school when she was younger that held her back. Consequently, she’s struggled ever since with keeping up at grade level and convinced herself that she’s not bright.
Now that she has two brothers who are great students and is in a great school she has begun to see that she IS bright. She keeps up with the boys – knows things they don’t know. Her confidence in herself has grown significantly and it shows in her grades. She’s a solid B performer in school now. I’m very proud of her.
Ashlee has an infectious laugh and a face full of expression. It’s easy to see when she’s happy or when she’s upset. She knows it too and, like most women, is becoming an expert at wrapping men around her finger. She certainly has MY number – I can rarely deny her anything.
She amazes me at how well she’s integrated into our family. Before I entered her life, she was an only child. It was her and mom against the world. I turned that world upside down very quickly – in the space of a little under a year I entered her life and then (gasp) moved myself and two (ewww) boys in with her.
She now has a father-figure in her life for the first time and two brothers. Out of everyone in our family – she’s had the biggest adjustment to make. She went from being the center of the world to being a member of a family – no more and no less special than anyone else. She has adjusted beautifully and I am so proud and amazed by her – not many kids would have transitioned into a family as well as she did.
Cassie is a 2-year-old full bred Beagle. She’s a wonderful dog. She’s playful, intelligent, and just a joy to be around. When her feelings are hurt it just breaks your heart – her ears and tail droop and she looks at you with big soulful eyes. It’s hard to remain stern with her when she pulls “the look” on me, but I have to.
She is a terror on the leash. Like most bloodhounds, her nose leads her and she can’t walk in a straight line to save her life. She chokes herself half to death on a leash – she has to wear herself out before she’ll walk normally.
She loves everyone and is the worst guard dog in the world. She is not a digger, but she does love to chew. I have a constant supply of pig hooves for her to munch on else she might chew on a shoe or two.
She’s a very social dog, but independent as well. It’s a Beagle trait. She loves to sleep on a cough with someone next to her or in bed with someone – but that’s a rare treat for her. She’s crate trained and loves sleeping in her crate as well – it’s her little den. It’s our policy that we never go into her den after her – she needs to think of it as safe haven away from everything – even us.
There you have it folks. My kids and my dog. I have three wonderful, amazing kids and I am so proud of them. They have been by my side every day as I go through my cancer treatments. I get so much joy and strength from them. They have, each of them, cared for me and been by my side every step of the way. They haven’t shied away or tried to avoid me as I deal with cancer. They embrace me and love me – I am their hero, their father.
I am a lucky man to have such wonderful children. I can’t wait to see what amazing adults they grow into. Already they are more sensitive, compassionate, and mature than I could have ever imagined.