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Gotcha Day: The Most Emotional Day in an Adoption

Posted on May 5, 2017 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

Gotcha Day is a term that I had never heard before starting the adoption process.  Even when we started to research the adoption process and started to see the term it wasn’t immediately apparent what exactly it was.  Fortunately, the wonder of Google allowed me to quickly discover what exactly it was.

Gotcha Day is the day that an orphan finally gets to meet their new adopted family.

As you can imagine it is quite a big deal for everyone involved.  Lots of pictures are taken, sometimes videos, and memories are made that will never be forgotten.  Because many of the children don’t know their actual birthday for sure, Gotcha Day is often the day that many families celebrate instead.  It makes sense to me since it is the day that they joined your family, just like with your biological kids.

April 10th is now a day that I will never forget because that was our Gotcha Day with our son Ty.

The tension of Gotcha Day started the night before for us because we were told he was likely already in the city at another hotel.  In China, you have to come to the provincial capital to file the paperwork for the adoption, but the city he lived in was six hours away so they came the night before to make the day a little less stressful for Ty.  So there we were sitting in our hotel room knowing he was so close, yet still having to wait, after a year of waiting.

When we found out he was coming the night before, we were hopeful that we would get him early in the day, but unfortunately it would have to wait until the afternoon.  So we ate a nervous breakfast, and walked aimlessly around this lonely city of five million people as the minutes crawled by.  We tried to talk about anything other than Ty, but as you might imagine he was sort of on our mind at that moment.

I couldn’t help but start to wonder how he was going to react to the whole thing.  I know that we are good parents, and that we would love him as much as our other kids, and always try and give him the best of everything we possibly could, but how long would it take for him to feel and accept that?  What if he hated us for years to come and those were the first things he learned to say to us was that he wasn’t happy with us?

Then I started to wonder about how I would react to the whole thing.  Would I actually come to love him as much as my other kids?  Would I be able to give him everything he needs?  Not just physically or medically, but emotionally?  I am gone fairly often for work, and sometimes for long periods of time.  I already feel bad for the times I have to leave my kids, and he would need as much stability in his life as possible.

Stability, the reason that everyone joins the military right?  Holy crap, what was I thinking bringing a kid who needs as much stability in his life as possible into a military family, and on top of that an aircrew member whose job description literally includes leaving home and family on a very regular basis to fly all over the world for days, weeks, and even months at a time.

That is my problem when I have a lot of time to think, which we did in the hours leading up to his arrival.  I started to question my decisions.  I start to look past my generally optimistic desires and start to look for all of the reasons that something is a terrible idea.  A lot of us do this with all kinds of decisions and choices we make in life.  I guess you could call it a form of buyer’s remorse, only I hadn’t bought anything, and I didn’t even have him yet.

Finally, after one of the longest mornings of my life, made dramatically better by sharing it with my dear wife, we went up to our hotel room to anxiously await his arrival.

Our guide showed up at our room shortly thereafter to wait with us until the people from the orphanage called to say they had arrived.  If you go to YouTube there are tons of videos of Gotcha Days that you can watch, but be warned they will make you cry.  Oftentimes they involve a group of people all receiving their child at the same general time.  This is because there are often multiple kids from a province, or even from the same orphanage, getting a family on the same day so the families all wait together.

Not us.

We were literally in the middle of nowhere China with nobody else from our agency, in a city our agency hadn’t even sent someone to in years.  Fortunately, there was a family from another agency there at the same time who became an essential lifeline for us the day before this, and in the ensuing week.  I am so grateful for their presence, and the companionship and friendship they provided at this momentous time.

Sorry, there is just so much to say about this journey that it is easy to digress.  As I mentioned, Gotcha Day often takes place in a hotel ballroom or conference room where many families wait together for their child to arrive.  Because it was just us we were able to meet him in our hotel room which made the whole thing a lot more personal from my perspective.  So there we sat with our guide waiting for her phone to ring to say he was finally in the building.

After what seemed like an eternity, the phone did ring and she headed downstairs with our camera to bring them up to the room.  At this time I turned on my GoPro that was placed inside the room to get a little more of our perspective.  Crash Aunt and I couldn’t sit down or stop moving for what seemed like an hour but was probably more like five minutes.  We just nervously walked around the room talking just so that are nerves wouldn’t be accentuated by silence.  Then came the knock on the door.

We went to open it and there stood an adorable little man wearing two sweat suits (more on this later), and awesome little overalls.  As I type this I am actually getting speechless because I don’t know how to put into words what I was thinking or even what I saw.  Based on the video I know he just kind of stared at us for a minute, then came in and touched hands with my wife before turning around and walking back out.

In a lot of ways I kind of feel like that has been symbolic of exactly how the last three and a half weeks have been.  He gets closer and does better, and then walks away a little bit.  It’s okay though because I knew this would happen, and the getting closer is much more than the walking away.

I won’t give you a play by play of what happened after that because you can see that in the video below.  What you can’t see are my emotions in the first few minutes of him joining our family.  As much as I would like to put them into words for you, I don’t know that I can.  To help you understand, I would say I felt exactly the same way the first time I saw all of my other children.

For those first few minutes there was nothing else happening in the world.  I wasn’t worried about money, or work, or politics, or any of the other stressors I have in my life.  And just like the births of all of my other kids, all of those worries I had in the time leading up to it were blocked from my mind and all I could do was focus on this perfect little man that was changing our lives forever.

As anyone who understands the feeling that I am talking about can tell you, those concerns ultimately work their way back into your mind, but God has this incredible way of allowing you to see Heaven if only for a moment as you have these incredible life changing experiences.  It doesn’t have to be the birth/adoption of a child either.  It could be a wedding, or seeing a dear loved one finally recover from a sickness, or finding peace after a long struggle.  It is something I have also experienced when I have been standing on top of a remote mountain top gazing over the wonders of the world, that we are so quick to ignore and overlook, and also in deep valleys where the soft sound of a small stream speaks peace to your soul.

You don’t have to be religious to understand the feeling I am talking about, you just have to be willing to open your heart enough to experience it, and experiencing it is the only way to ever really understand what I am talking about.

I hope I don’t make anyone feel left out or excluded by saying that because it is by no means an exclusive club.  Anyone can experience the feeling that I am talking about if they are willing to do it.  You just have to be willing to get past your fears and inhibitions, and open yourself up to a truly moving and memorable experience.

I had originally intended to write about the rest of our day, but I think this is as good a place as any to stop.  I hope that reading these posts is as therapeutic as writing them because I am having the most amazing time writing them.

I think the reason I am so anxious to share this experience is because I am equally anxious to hear about similar experiences of other people to feel that deep emotional connection with even strangers.  We just don’t do that very often these days, much to our detriment.  So if you have something you would like to share I would love to hear about it in the comments.  If it is something more personal then please feel free to use the Contact Us button at the top of the page.

I know this blog is generally lighthearted and fun, and I promise, there will be plenty of that coming in the future, but I hope you enjoy a little more personal side as well.

I originally intended to edit this video, but I decided to just let the whole thing roll for your enjoyment.  We actually meet him around the 1:30 mark, and the rest is just us getting acquainted.

 

How Are You Supposed to Feel Right Before You Meet Your New Adopted Son?

Posted on April 25, 2017 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

Visiting Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City in the days before we met Ty.  The families behind us were also their adopting. We had a total of 17 families with us.

I have written a little bit about the emotional roller coaster that is the adoption process, but having just returned from China with our new son Ty, I have experienced emotions that I never expected to feel.  It is funny how often I think I know exactly how I will react in situations, but the older I get the more I am realizing I have no idea how different situations will impact me.

The one thing that I am convinced of at this point, is that the emotional ride is only just beginning.  I don’t know how many people that will read this are in the process of adopting, or might even be considering it, but I feel like it is something that I just need to share.  It may not help anyone else, but writing is very therapeutic for me so I am writing just to get it all out.

I already wrote about my feelings the night before our son arrived at our hotel so I will go ahead and skip that, but just the very next day presented a whole new range of emotions for me and my wife.

It is bit of a surreal experience standing in a hotel room waiting for your new child to be delivered.  If it sounds like we had ordered a pizza or something and were just waiting for it to be delivered, then you kind of understand the mix of emotions that I was feeling as we waited.  This may sound cold or emotionless but that could not be farther from the truth for all of the obvious reasons, the biggest being that we are talking about a human being having his entire life changed.  To top it all off, we were the ones changing it.

Crash Aunt and I have discussed a few times since then how hard it must have been on him, something that we can in no way comprehend.  Adoption on its own is a beautiful sincere thing where you are trying to provide a better life for an orphan (more on that word later) but I am not sure that I had actually considered how incredibly hard this event was going to be on him.  He is about three and a half years old, and for the last two years his entire life has been essentially one building with the same beds, and the same general foods, and maybe most difficult to leave behind, the same nannies.

While I am someone that generally enjoys change and looks forward to new experiences, my stuff, my bed, and most importantly the people close to me, namely my family, are things I always get to take with me to help me feel comfortable and safe.  While Ty no longer had an actual family that he knew, those nannies have been his family for more than half his life, and he will likely never see them again.  The thought of losing all of the people I know forever just strikes fear into my heart, and I was doing that to this sweet little boy.  But this sweet little boy was no longer going to be an orphan.

I can honestly say that I don’t think I ever connected my new son with the word orphan until right before we met him for the first time.  Obviously I was aware that he had been abandoned and had no parents, but for some reason the specific word “orphan” had just never been something that I associated with him before.  In the past when I thought of orphans I thought of the ones that you see in movies like Annie or even Cinderella.  Sure they had a tough life not having parents, but they always seemed so happy, and it ultimately worked out for them.  But when I finally did connect that word with Ty I couldn’t help but feel sad for him.  He had lost his parents and would likely never know anything about them.

I really just wanted to cry.

Those are the perfect feelings to be having right before your son walks through the door to have his life changed forever, but nevertheless they were my feelings.  Everyone reacts differently in these types of situations, and I have found it hard to be totally honest with people about all of the feelings I felt, but never was that more true than in the hours and days after we first met our son…

I’m Going to be a Dad Tomorrow…Again

Posted on April 9, 2017 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

I really find it hard to believe that I am actually where I am at right now.  I am laying on a bed in a hotel in Lanzhou, China anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new son tomorrow.  

These words may not trip you out as much as me, but in a lot of ways I still find it hard to believe.  It has taken about a year to get through this process that at times has felt like forever but the day is finally upon us.

I really can’t put into words what I am feeling right now, so naturally writing a blog post makes a lot of sense.

As a father to three other children I am not inexperienced with the anticipation that comes with the arrival of a new child.  With both of my girls I also knew the date they would come since my wife was induced.  My son didn’t feel like waiting for his induction date and came a few days early.

But obviously this one is different.  My new son is already three and a half and has developed some of the skills and abilities that you would expect at that age.  He does have some special needs that we will gain a better understanding of once we get him back home.  

Oh yeah, and he only speaks Chinese.

So while I have never been able to communicate with any of my other children on the day they were first in my arms, this one is going to try, and I will have no idea what he is saying.  It is hard enough as a parent when you are trying to love your child and give them everything they need but I worry about the struggles we will face as we all get used to each other.  

I know that it will all work out, and that there will inevitably be some bumps along the way but isn’t that what life is all about?  Moving forward in pursuit of what you know to be right.  Finding things that you can put your whole heart behind no matter how daunting the task may be.  Relying on those that you love most to fill in the gaps where you have weaknesses and working together to do something more grand and amazing than you ever could have imagined.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to stand on the Great Wall of China and wonder at the sacrifices and effort that countless people put into building that wall.  I wonder how many of them really understood what they were doing, and how they would have felt if they had known it’s full purpose.  With that being said, the work of those people has lasted thousands of years as a testament to their dedication and devotion to accomplishing something far more incredible and inspiring than they likely ever imagined.

So as I lay here wondering how this first day together will go tomorrow, other than the obvious waterworks that will be flowing from my eyes, I do have a certain sense of peace knowing that this little boy has the ability to change the world and leave a mark far more lasting than even a wall that is thousands of miles long and thousands of years old.  He will ultimately choose his path and determine what that mark will actually be, I just hope that I can play my role well when I enter his life tomorrow.

Adoption is a Long Journey That is Worth the Wait

Posted on February 7, 2017 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

I’ve waited a long time to post about this because I really didn’t know what I wanted to say.  Now that we are nearing the end of the process I figured it was as good of a time as any to share a little bit.

If you would like to read about the whole process then please head on over to our adoption blog where we posted a lot of good information.

The short version is that after mountains of paperwork, and a seemingly endless wait, we have finally been paired with a child from China.  The name we have given him is Ty Drechsel Lynn.  He is about three and a half years old, and has some developmental delays that seem to have been improving since he has been in his orphanage.

I can’t even begin to tell you about the range of emotions that Crash Aunt and I have experienced over the last eight months.  There have been periods of tremendous amounts of excitement followed by months of anxiously waiting for paperwork to get approved.  In some ways it is like having your own biological child with all of the waiting, but on the other hand there is even more uncertainty as you wait to see the age, gender, and special needs that you know your child will have.

While we have been confident in our decision since the day we started, there have been plenty of days where the uncertainty just starts to wear on you.  At the same time, it is amazing how quickly a lot of that stress just fell away once we were paired with our new son.

It actually still trips me out a little when I type those words, our new son.  We have three kids already that each have their own unique arrival story, and Ty is no different than them, it is just an even more unique story.  I think part of the challenge has been the lack of physical change in preparation for his arrival.  With our other kids you could see the physical change in my wife that showed how close we were getting.  In this case the only physical changes have been with paperwork and the shrinking of our bank account.

Even with all of the challenges we have faced, and the seemingly never ending wait, I can honestly say that it has all been worth it.  We are now about two months from bringing Ty home and I couldn’t be more excited.  The thought of holding him in my arms and bringing him home just leaves me beyond words.

If you have ever considered adoption I would encourage you to go the distance and make it happen because each of these children need a special family of their own.  If you have any questions about the process please feel free to ask.

If you would like to contribute to our adoption we are running a T-shirt fundraiser and would really appreciate the support.

These awesome T-shirts turned out even better than expected. You should get some.

Who Would Have Thought Air Could Be Historic?

Posted on December 20, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

In the continuation of my family’s journey in Asia, Crash Aunt and I took the kids to Osaka (which was very cool) and then today to Hiroshima (which was cool for very different reasons).

Whenever we go places I really try and teach my kids about how important the places we visit are in the history of the world, and in this case there are not many places more influential in the history of the world than Hiroshima.

They have a very nice little museum with a lot of good information as well as numerous displays that really drill home the effect that the bomb had on the city.  It was fascinating to see the “shadows” that were created on all different structures as well as some of the before and after pictures and how completely decimated the city was.

Outside of the museum there were a number of little memorials and shrines for various groups of people including the Children’s Peace Memorial that was erected after the death of a young girl named Sadako who died from leukemia but was made famous for her paper crane making and the book that told her story.

As I walked with my family to the northern end of the park we saw a building now known as the A-bomb dome.  This building sits only a few hundred meters from the site where the bomb detonated but somehow lived through the blast and has been preserved as a reminder of the devastation that took place.

Looking above that building and imagining B-29s flying overhead and dropping the bomb that detonated about 600 meters above ground left me speechless.  It was unreal to look into that sky and realize just how historic that air was.

This experience reminded me of my visit to Ft. Sumter in South Carolina and being in awe at the historic air resting above that bay where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.  Who would have thought that air could be so awe inspiring?

While both of these events led to the loss of countless lives and altered the course of history forever, there was something surreal about both of these locations.  There was an incredible feeling of peace in both places.  This has been even more pronounced here in Hiroshima.  Despite the typical congestion and bustle of Japan, this whole city, and in particular the Peace Park by where the bomb was dropped, have a tremendous peace that is unmistakable.  My wife felt it and even some other Japanese people we talked to that were visiting the area said the same thing.

If ever there was a city to have a feeling of hate or anger or frustration this would certainly be it, but the exact opposite has been true.  The city that they said would not have a living thing for 75 years is now flourishing with industry and beautiful trees and happy people.

As we were walking away from the Peace Park we stumbled across a couple of men that were sitting there making paper cranes, and as usually happens with my cute little white kids in Asia, they were immediately drawn in and offered free cranes.  As we talked to them we discovered that they were both survivors of the attack but rather than bitterness or anger they were some of the happiest, kindest, most friendly Japanese people I have met during my time here.  They have lived full lives and have beautiful families that they were happy to show us pictures of.

I don’t know how many of our experiences here that my kids will remember, but I hope that at least some of the thoughts and feelings will stick with them and help them to better understand the world we live in.  And also the reality that we can find peace in some of the most destructive places in history.

Memories From the Past Can Come Unexpectedly

Posted on November 4, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

red-hot-chili-peppers-logoIt’s so funny how the most benign things can bring back some of the best memories.

As I was driving home tonight I switched CD’s (yes my car only has a CD player because it is old, and yes I still have CD’s because I am old) and put on one of the discs from the amazing Stadium Arcadium album by The Red Hot Chili Peppers.  As I started to listen to the music I was instantly reminded of a great memory from high school.

I had a good friend named Greg that had an old white hatchback Ford with a sound system that was likely worth more than the car itself.  Greg and our other friend Sam, who now has his doctorate in music, always had impeccable taste in music and opened my eyes to some of the great artists of all different times like Prince, David Bowie, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

One of our favorite things to do on weekend nights, in particular during the winter, was to drive around with amazing music screaming through the speakers, windows down, letting in the bitter cold Utah winter air, and the heater cranked up so we wouldn’t all freeze to death.  It was nothing ground breaking, or something that I thought would be particularly memorable at the time, but as I look back now I realize that it is those moments of simple joy that bring me the most happiness and inevitably put a smile on my face.

I know this often took place without me, or with our other friends Jon, Borsos, Naysahn, Mike, Thayne, Jamison, Mark, Jason, or the occasional female like Mary Jane, Liz, Erika, or Tricia, but it honestly didn’t matter who it was.  All that mattered was that a few teenagers were together making a memory that still puts a smile on my face even 15+ years later.

The older I get the more I realize how important memories like this are for one simple reason, they are about people.  I don’t regularly talk with any of the aforementioned people, and some of them I haven’t seen since we graduated high school, but that doesn’t matter either.  What matters is that these people were an integral part of my life during one of the most important times in any person’s life.  They helped me make good choices, and the occasional bad one, but I will forever be indebted to them for helping me become the man that I am today.

I did have the opportunity to see some of these friends a few years ago and it was so fun to see how all of our lives have developed over time and how quickly we just caught right up.  Even our children became immediate friends and had a great time running around my Grandparent’s old yard making their own memories.

So, as The Red Hot Chili Peppers serenaded me on my way home, I couldn’t help but turn up the heat, roll down the windows letting the cold air in, crank up the radio, and think back on some beautifully simple memories from my past.

Living the Dream in Alaska

Posted on August 23, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

No picture can ever do justice to the wonder that is Alaska.

No picture can ever do justice to the wonder that is Alaska.

Often times when someone asks me how I am doing I give the response that I am living the dream.  Oftentimes that is interpreted as a negative thing, and while sometimes that is exactly what I am trying to say, most of the time it is really just something quick to say in response than an actual indicator of how I am doing.  However, this last few weeks has been quite the opposite.

As I have mentioned in the past, by job often takes me to some pretty cool places.  As much fun as I have had in the Philippines, Thailand, and Guam, there is nothing that could really compare to my most recent adventure.  Alaska is just the perfect mix of so may of the things that I totally love.  I have literally been living the dream.

Watching the ground rush past you with another plane out in front of you is such a rush.

Watching the ground rush past you with another plane out in front of you is such a rush.

On the work side of things, the flying has been amazing.  I could do without the full day mission planning, but that is just part of the deal if you want to operate legally and safely.  It has been incredible to get back down to flying at only 300 feet above the ground at 250 knots raging through the mountains of Alaska.  I have been able to see moose and bears, and some of the most scenic views I have seen in my entire life.

Sometimes it is nice to take it slow and just enjoy the moment.

Sometimes it is nice to take it slow and just enjoy the moment.

On the flip side of flying, I had the opportunity to go out and explore more of Alaska in a Cessna 172 at a much slower speed and really just enjoy the wonder that is Alaska.  It was a sort of pleasure cruise in the air with a great aviator who made the experience that much better.  As someone who just loves everything about airplanes, it was amazing to explore this dream destination with my friend Chris, who is even more passionate about aviation.

One of the most spectacular things about flying in Alaska is the massive glaciers that are all over the place.  It is truly something to behold how immense these glaciers are.  They are so dynamic in their shape and color providing the bluest blues I may have ever seen, along with huge ice cliffs, and deep, sharp valleys.  There really are not words good enough to describe how incredible they are.

There are no words for the majesty of Alaska's glaciers.

There are no words for the majesty of Alaska’s glaciers.

To cap off this dream, I had the opportunity to get in some Alaskan fishing which was really the sprinkles on top of the icing on the cake.  Then I got to eat the cake, because what good is cake if you can’t eat it?  My first day down at the confluence of the Kenai River and Russian River started out great grabbing a couple of sockeye salmon for the first time, and then a couple of trout.  Unfortunately, one of those trout snapped my brand new rod and my day was pretty much over.

With an opportunity to see the silver lining on a very, very dark cloud, we were delayed from returning to our families (which totally sucked) I was able to make another trip down to the river with a much more amazing experience.  Having already literally snagged a few salmon, I returned to my favorite pastime and went after some trout.

Few things are more serene than a fly fisherman executing his craft.

Few things are more serene than a fly fisherman executing his craft.

It started out a little rough losing the first few through poor execution on my part.  Thanks to a couple of crucial tips from my fishing partners, I was able to start landing some gorgeous rainbow trout and dolly vardens.  I felt like a little kid reeling in the biggest fish that I have ever caught in my life.  There are few things more beautiful than a stunningly colored rainbow trout in the midst of a the majestically forested Alaskan mountains.

In recent months I have come to realize how much more important pursuing my dreams and having experiences is when compared with having things or other status.  That is why this trip to Alaska will always be one of my fondest memories.  I don’t know that I have ever been more honest than right now when I say I was living the dream.

Things That Make a Daddy Cry

Posted on June 19, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

It is Father’s Day here in Japan, and by the time most of you read this it will be Father’s Day in the US as well. So first let me say thank you to all of the Fathers in my life.

I can’t begin to list the amazing men that have influenced me since I was very little. Each of them helped form me into the father I am today through their teachings and example. I have been blessed to know some of the truly great men of this world, and I hope I am living up to their expectations in some small way.

Rather than focus on my Dad today though, I would like to focus on the gems that made me a dad.

I have always been a pretty emotional guy thanks to coming from a pretty emotional family. I am not ashamed to admit that I got a little teary-eyed at the end of Toy Story 3 when all the toys almost died. Generally though, it is the amazing things that my kids do that get me the most emotional. I am just always blown away by how talented they are. I realized I am biased, but everything they do makes me proud.

Before one of my first trips here in Japan I told my son that he needed to look after his mom and sisters while I was I away. I explained that he was the man of the house so he needed to make sure they were taken care of. Now every time I go on a trip he makes sure to tell me that he is the man of the house before I leave. I am super proud of him for trying to be a big boy and take care of the girls, even if it means he tries to tell his mom what to do, because after all, he is the man of the house.

A few weeks ago my two little princesses had a dance recital which is pretty much guaranteed to make me tear up. You watch these videos and try not to have some tears of joy.

It is so rewarding to see your kids do something they love, and do so well at it. The youngest was just disappointed that she didn’t get a sticker after the dance recital like she does after class.

As much as I like to come off as a tough guy (I am sure Crash Dad, Mom, and Aunt just laughed a little, or a lot) I come to appreciate these tender moments more and more the older I get. Being a Dad is just about the greatest thing I have ever done, and I am proud to get a little emotional about it every once in awhile.

Fighting the Battle Between Responsibility and Passions

Posted on May 13, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

I am not really sure where I am going to go with this, but I am hoping that putting my thoughts on (digital) paper will bring some clarity.

It is likely not a surprise to anyone that military life can be somewhat chaotic and uncertain.  That is sort of the nature of the beast, and something that I understood well before joining.  Even with all of the uncertainty there are still certain times when I get to be a part of the decision making process, like it or not.

The short version of this story is that I am a navigator on the C-130H that is being replaced by the C-130J which has no navigator.  In case you can’t do the math, that means I have to find a new job.  The real problem, as I see it, is that I have a few options and none of them stands head and shoulders above the rest.

I will spare you the specifics of my different options as it is not entirely relevant to my troubled line of thinking.  What is relevant is that my choices can largely be grouped into two categories: responsible rational choices, and choices that get me excited about the future.  The best answer would obviously be something that was a good mix of both, but if it was that simple I wouldn’t be grinding my mind over this.

So how does somebody find that good balance between responsibility and passion?

I was hoping that somehow an answer would appear after typing that, but no such luck.  I did stumble across this video today though which clearly leans towards one side of the debate:

I have seen multiple videos and stories like this recently and maybe that is my answer, but I simply can’t ignore the responsibility side of my life.  Then again, maybe that is just the doubt that the video talked about.

Feel free to share some insights with me.

I’m Glad My Kids are Patriotic

Posted on April 20, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

I just got back from a long couple of weeks in the Philippines for work, and as usual it left me concerned about how my time away from my kids impacts them and our relationship.  It is always heartwarming to come home to their handmade signs and super tight hugs and kisses, which I guess means I am doing something right.

All of my other doubts aside, I know my kids are learning one thing that is incredibly important to me.  They are learning to be patriotic and have respect for the great symbols of our nation.

For those of you unfamiliar with military installations, there is music that plays every morning and every night.  I have seen different variations at the various bases I have lived at in terms of what music they play, but the national anthem is always a part of that music at some point during the day.  A fun addition here in Japan is that they also play the Japanese national anthem.  When the music plays you are supposed to stop walking or driving, and if outside stand with your hand over your heart much like you would at a sporting event.

This is our first time living on base so my kids were not super familiar with this tradition before we lived here, but I am proud to say they have learned quickly.

Just now my youngest was in the living room with my wife and I when the music started playing.  She immediately wanted to run outside, but we stopped her since she isn’t supposed to be running around while the music is playing.  Much to my happy surprise she said, “Fine, I put my hand on my heart.”  Technically she put her hand on her stomach, but we helped her find her heart and she stood there in the living room for a minute while the music played.

She is only almost three years old, but I am super proud of the fact that she is learning that respect already, even though I realize she doesn’t really know why she is doing it.  I am grateful for parents who taught me that respect at a young age as I think respect is one of the most important character traits we can develop.