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True Love

Posted on April 26, 2017 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

True Love Take 1
Going to Walmart at 10 pm to buy a burnable cd (when will schools learn about yhis thing we call the internet?) So you can burn a song for your daughter to audition for the elementary school talent show.

True Love Take 2
Doing dishes at 11 pm when you just want to sleep.

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.

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.

Kicking Off Las Vegas Summer Pool Side

Posted on May 31, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

One of the great things about being a Las Vegas blogger is that there are so many incredible activities for you and your family to do and write about. Yes, there’s the other side of vegas, but most people are surprised by how many family friendly things are available in Las Vegas.

When we first moved here about 10 years ago, it was shocking to think that Las Vegas had no waterpark. Something about the heat of Las Vegas and no waterpark didn’t sound right. However, over the past couple years, Las Vegas now has 2 waterparks. To kick off the Memorial Day weekend and summer, I was given some tickets for my family to attend Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas. Not one to pass up an opportunity to skip work and go to a waterpark, I jumped at the chance.
Wet N Wild Las Vegas
The Crash Wife and I were interested to compare Wet ‘N’ Wild to Cowabunga Bay in Henderson. I’ll admit that we haven’t been to Cowabunga Bay this year and so we haven’t checked out the new slides, but we both came away loving Wet ‘N’ Wild much more. The kids area was better. The flow between slides was better. The pizza was better.

In a pretty genius move, Wet ‘n’ Wild even offers a free sunscreen station thanks to Comprehensive Cancer Center of Nevada. Smart advertising for them even if they’re trying to prevent new customers. Consider all the white boys we have in our family, this was essential.
Wet N Wild Free Sunscreen Station

This next picture is what I call the Wet ‘n’ Wild Hammam. Crash Kid #3 loved the warm cement. The funny part was that I asked the Crash Wife if it was too cold to go to the waterpark since it was only going to be 90. #DesertRats
Wet N Wild Hammam Las Vegas

I think that my kids favorite part of Wet ‘n’ Wild was the cabana boy (Josh was his name). It was so funny to see them talk about Josh in the first person as if he was their friend or something. Josh had a hard job with so many people getting hungry at the same time. He was even nice enough to pose for this picture with the Crash Kids:
Wet N Wild Las Vegas Cabana Boy

Crash Kid #1 suggested that if I really wanted to show Wet ‘n’ Wild on my blog, then I needed to get a go pro and hold it while I went down a slide. I told him we’d have to see if we could do that next time. I’m not sure the lifeguards would have been too happy with me doing that, but I’d have certainly been game.

All in all, a fun time for the Crash Kids and me. Thanks Wet ‘n’ Wild for the tickets. I’m sure we’ll be back. In fact, I think the Crash Wife has purchased more tickets already.

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.

Matsumoto Castle Might be the Coolest Thing I Have Seen in Japan…So Far

Posted on February 1, 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.

My kids really need to work on their fighting stance.

My kids really need to work on their fighting stance.

It is a good thing that Crash Aunt is such a go getter when it comes to getting out and exploring this amazing country that we are living in.  I am pretty content to hang out and explore the local area, and by local area I mean my bed, my couch, and my backyard.  Fortunately, she really loves doing the research and finding cool places for us to explore.  To be totally honest, sometimes these places are not very exciting, and other times they are super cool.

Matsumoto Castle was definitely one of those super cool things.

The water was so incredibly still it was stunning.

The water was so incredibly still it was stunning.

The castle can be found in the city of Matsumoto which is pretty close to Nagano, where the Olympics were held in 1998 and is also on my list of places to visit.  It is a pretty small city with a number of tasty restaurants, and mostly small buildings that we have come to really enjoy as we travel around Japan.  The castle rises up above the rest of the city like the beacon that it was likely supposed to be with five stories for you to explore.

Young ninja in training.

Young ninja in training.

Even in the winter the grounds have a beautiful simplicity that is very much Japanese.  You can tell that they are meticulously maintained and provide a peaceful beauty that I have not really experienced in the states.  As you can see from the pictures, it is surrounded by a large moat that had a couple of swans swimming in it, and worked wonderfully as a reflection pond.

I love cultural locations that give my kid a better experience.

I love cultural locations that give my kid a better experience.

Inside the grounds of the castle our kids got to meet a ninja, a samurai, and a geisha that walk the grounds and keep it entertaining for the kids.  You are not allowed to wear street shoes in the castle so you have to put on slippers before climbing the stairs and exploring.  I was proud of all of my kids for climbing up the really steep stairs all the way to the top.

This is the "warrior passage" that is extra wide for the Samurai coming through in full battle armor.

This is the “warrior passage” that is extra wide for the Samurai coming through in full battle armor.

On each level of the castle they had plenty of signs explaining all of the different memorabilia they had there which was really nice because oftentimes it is only in Japanese.  The kids loved seeing all of the cool guns and swords and a samurai suit.  It was also really interesting to see how the castle had been adapted from the time when bows and arrows were used to the time when guns and rifles were utilized.

I think the samurai would lose against these three little monsters.

I think the samurai would lose against these three little monsters.

It is also crazy when you consider that the vast majority of the structure was made with wood, granted they are massively huge beams and supports, but it is still wood that kept this structure safe for so long.  As I mentioned before, they even let you climb all the way to the top and look out on what the ruler of the castle would have seen.  It was such an amazing experience to learn more about this fascinating culture.

The most amazing thing about this picture is that I am in pants.  Stay tuned for why in the next post.

The most amazing thing about this picture is that I am in pants. Stay tuned for why in the next post.

This is such a unique opportunity that we have to learn about another culture, and I am glad we are taking advantage of it.  At the same time, it makes me wonder what awesome experiences I was missing out on back in the states because I didn’t look hard enough.  I am convinced that there are fascinating things to expose your kids to if you just look hard enough.

Japanese Zoos are Awesome…and There are a Lot of Them

Posted on January 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.

I love that cheesy grin, and the red panda is cute too.

I love that cheesy grin, and the red panda is cute too.

One of our favorite places to visit no matter where we are in the world are zoos.  Animals are just awesome, and it is a rare opportunity to see them much closer than would normally be possible.  Sometimes you even get to see them do things that you would only ever see them do in a video, like the time CrashDad and I saw a giraffe giving birth at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, UT.  The last time I checked, that giraffe still lived there which I always find special.

Koalas have always been on of my favorite animals, and they let you get real close at Tama Zoo.

Koalas have always been on of my favorite animals, and they let you get real close at Tama Zoo.

In many ways, Japanese zoos aren’t all that different from zoos in the states as they are mostly just animals in cages with some cooler habitats being built to make things a little more realistic.  There are a few animals that are unique to Japan that added a certain amount of special, but it is some of the other unique opportunities that make their zoos so cool.

In this instance we were visiting the Tama Zoo which is located about an hour or so Southwest of Tokyo.  Considering that most of the greater Tokyo area is essentially solid buildings it is incredible how much space this zoo actually included.  It was also a great workout as the zoo sits in a group of hills forcing you to go up and down as you walk through the zoo.  Those hills did provide for some extra views of the animals though, so it was worth it.

No orangutans to be seen, but the zoo had pictures of them climbing over the people.

No orangutans to be seen, but the zoo had pictures of them climbing over the people.

One of the cool things that they have set up is a cool rope bridge for the orangutans to climb across a portion of the zoo.  You can kind of see it from the pictures, but there are two different areas for the orangutans that are maybe quarter to half a mile apart that are connected by this overhead bridge where they can climb over the guests and make for a pretty cool experience.  Much to the dismay of Crash Aunt (orangutans are one of her favorite animals), none of the orangutans were out the day we were there, but I am sure we will be back more than once before we leave Japan.

The other cool experience that they have at the Tama Zoo is a chance to feed the lions.  This was not an opportunity to offload unruly children in support of the zoo, though we did tell the kids that was the plan, but it was a chance to see these majestic animals up close.

You can see the kids' excitement in their reflections.

You can see the kids’ excitement in their reflections.

The way it works is you get into a bus that has hooks on the outside by the windows where they put little pieces of meat.  You then drive out into the lion enclosure where they have platforms set up for the lions to come and eat the meat off the side of the bus.  As you can see this leads to some pretty up close and personal experiences with the lions.  They are amazingly powerful yet gentle looking creatures when you get close.  I’m not saying I want to snuggle with one in the wild, but it would be a little tempting.

One of the cool things I have noticed about Japanese culture is that they are very big on having experiences for their entertainment, not just mindlessly sitting in a venue.  That is why they have so many of these places too.  There are zoos and parks and playgrounds and shrines and various other amusement areas all over the place.  It would be nearly impossible to visit all of them.  They are also quite reasonably priced as it usually only costs us about $10 for the parents total, and the kids are almost always free.

The older I get, the more interested I am in experiences versus just stuff so I guess it is really no wonder that I would find this so enjoyable.  I really look forward to having even more of these experiences while we are here.