Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Maya's Up

Typing really just doesn't feel great on my wrist yet, so Maya stepped up and wrote these captions for me.  She's good, too (she even wrote as if she was me).  Sorry, but it might be a couple more nights of this.

Just a little sneak peak at Bode's new Halloween costume. His smile goes absolutely PERFECTLY with the costume!!!!!!!!!!
Cary Collins' new art project. I must say it is very impressive...
Because my parents were here today I finally had the chance to go to social services and change my name from Heather Keenan-Gallagher to Heather Bergeron. So of course I get there and the only day of the week that the office closes at noon instead of three is Wednesday. Typical Heather Bergeron luck right there.
Bode and I went shopping today for halloween costumes and ended up with two costumes, tights for Harley, a sweatshirt for me, and an iPad cover. I swear with Marshalls and TJ MAXX you end up with the most ridiculous variety of purchases and come out with way more than you intended to.
The best part of art class are the two stamps at the end
Happiest kid ever when you give him some tools and some sand to make an absolute mess with.
"Hey!! Thats mine!!!!! Move over!!!"
Love this kid to the moon and back especially when he makes me his art work
Even though he makes a total mess while making it

EC is back on the rice wagon!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How To Be A Good Dad

Maya has asked me to send her to school with game day goody bags...for the rest of her four years of high school.
Jonah just killin' it at middle school class.
TWINSIES.  This is Rachel instinctively protecting Harley's little ears from the sound of Spencer's barbell dropping during the ECC demo shoot.  At least someone's being a responsible mom.
No, he's not picking a wedgie.
Or, maybe he was.
Carpal tunnel release surgery this morning :(
James gave me this awesome blanket/shawl for my birthday.  I know it's high maintenance, but I find it very comforting to have my own blanket when I'm in the hospital.  If it were any longer of a procedure, I definitely would've brought my own initial pillow, too.  Sean Rockett was in there today, too and was kind enough to come make fun of my blanket for about a half hour.
Bushey and Bode made a tent today!
Felt awesome today when I got home, so I kidnapped Bode from Ben and took him to go catch TWO trains go through Natick Center. 
Wait for it...
"IT'S HERE!!!!"
This is maybe the cutest part of the whole experience...watching him wave and yell goodbye to that train.

My back and forth with Harry about how the morning went and how I was recovering.

People always forget that anything texted to me is fair game on my blog.

Or, they are totally I imagine Harry is.
I got carpal tunnel release surgery this morning, so seeing as I mistype every third letter right now...and, to be quite honest, it doesn't feel all that great...I'm going to share something that Michelle Marshall found and forwarded to Ben.

It's by a guy with four daughters, talking about his idea of how to raise a girl, or four of them.  You don't need to be a dad to appreciate it, though.

""I feel sorry for you when they become teenagers." "Dude, you're surrounded by women." "What did you do to deserve that?"
Being a dad of four daughters (we also have one son), I hear stuff like this almost daily. And honestly, I'm the one who feels sorry for people who think this way.
Having daughters is one of the greatest joys I could imagine. We have a saying at our house that goes like this, "I love you more today than I did yesterday." Raising girls is a privilege, not a burden.
I certainly don't have it all figured out, but I have learned 15 things about raising girls these last 11 years.
1. She wants to be loved. More than she wants the stuff you can buy her or the things you can teach her, she wants you to love her. No one else on Earth can assume your role as daddy. Your daughter will let you down, make huge mistakes, and maybe even turn her back to you for a season, but don't ever let her doubt your love for her. Look her in the eye and tell her you love her. Lots.
2. You have an influence on her future partner. Scary thought, but the kind of man you are to her will have a direct impact on who she chooses to marry some day. For years, our third daughter would beg me to marry her when she grew up. I had to explain that I was already married to her amazing mother. If you're doing it right, she'll want to marry someone like you one day.
3. Listen to her music. When my girls are in my car, you'll be able to catch us rocking out to the following Pandora stations: Taylor Swift, One Direction, Cody Simpson, Kidz Bop Radio, Katy Perry, you get the point. Not stations I'd listen to on my own (with one exception -- I love Taylor Swift), but when it lights them up, it lights me up.

4. She's watching how you treat her mom. If you take one thing out of this entire list, make it this. One of the best things you can do for your daughter is to love her mom well. It's easy to be child-centered. Running from one kid activity to another. But fight for your marriage and make it a priority. The seasons of life when I lose focus on dating Brooke (my wife) are also the same seasons when our children have more issues. I don't think that's coincidental. Love your wife, make time to date her, take her on trips, and show your kids that she is a bigger priority than they are.

5. Don't shrink back as she grows up. Our oldest is almost 11, so we haven't hit the dreaded teenage years, but I say bring them on. Dads who are further down the road than I am regret not being more emotionally engaged with their teenage daughters. It will be awkward for all of us, but I'm leaning right into it. Periods, boyfriends, shaving armpits, Snapchat, whatever it is. My girls won't know any different than their dad being every bit as engaged when they're 15 as he was when they were 5. Don't disappear when their emotions and bodies start changing.

6. Teach her how to do a real push-up. I won't be mistaken for Billy Blanks, but we take health and wellness seriously at our house. My girls aren't wimps. They know how to do real push-ups. They play sports hard. They think "throwing like a girl" is a compliment, not an insult. They bring it. And more than the physical toughness, we're raising mentally tough girls. Like their momma. In a world where femininity gets assigned far too often to princess dresses and fairy tales, my girls are tough as nails.
7. Make memories. A friend once told me that my job is to be the Chief Memory Maker of the house. It's morbid, but I have 50-60 years left on this Earth, tops. That's not a ton of time, so I'm going to go hard and create as many memories with my girls as I possibly can. We celebrate big things like a 10-year-old trip, but we also take the little things seriously. Family movie nights on Friday nights. Big breakfast Saturdays. Hikes after church. It doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate, but it does have to be intentional. Fill up your daughter's emotional journal with memories of being with her dad.

8. Teach her that it's not about her. Something amazing happens when we realize that the universe doesn't spin around us. We're not modeling it perfectly for our girls, but we're trying to show them that life is best lived when we give ourselves away. To serve others. To go last. To not always have to be right.

9. Show up to her events. As dads of young daughters, most of us are building careers at the same time. So it's not possible every single time, but make the effort to get to her stuff. Even if it's not your favorite stuff. I hate the commercial of the dad at the daughter's dance recital who is watching a football game on his phone. I love a good football game as much as the next guy, but clap as hard for your daughter's recital as you would on your couch watching sports.

10. Proximity doesn't equal presence. I'm guilty of forgetting this often. The simple fact that you're there doesn't mean you're really there. Especially in an era of constant information and entertainment. Turn your phone off when you get home from work. Or at least put it in another room. Your daughter couldn't care less about your Twitter feed, your emails, your fantasy football team, or your group texts. She cares about spending time with you. Playing with you. Being with you.

11. Do her hair and nails. Brooke does this 99 times out of 100, but I make it a point to tell all my girls that daddy can make a killer ponytail. And I can paint their nails like a champ. Heck, they've painted mine on many occasions as well. Show her that a man can be gentle.

12. Date her. I wish I could say I do this consistently, but even once every few months is better than not at all. Dating your daughter is critical to showing her how a man should treat a woman. Call me old school, but on my dates with my girls, I open the doors, pay the bills, look them in the eye, and make them feel like a million bucks. This doesn't have to cost a ton of money. A walk around the block. A short bike ride. A trip to the ice cream store. Doesn't have to be fancy, but again, it must be intentional.

13. Her heart is more beautiful than her appearance. Guess what, dad? It's your job to tell your daughter, and then remind her a million times, that what's on the inside of her is what will make her go far in life. The heart is how we talk about it at our house, but it can be her character, her self-worth, her core. Raising girls in this sensual world isn't easy, but they don't have to settle for the belief that to be pretty means you must fit into a size zero or show almost every piece of your skin when you walk into a room.

14. Don't blink. Kenny Chesney was right. She calls you daddy. Enjoy that role -- it flies by.
15. Will you forgive me? I forget 1-14 more than I would like to admit. I'm doing my best. You are too. But when I blow it, when I hurt her feelings, and when my intentions were better than my actions, I'm learning to ask her for forgiveness. Not a simple apology, but a sincere plea for forgiveness. Model being a dad who gets down on her level and admits that you don't have it all together. She'll forgive you for that."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ali Leblanc: The Sister I Never Had

I just love this guy's enthusiasm for the daily car wash selfies.  He's getting better at it by the day.
The cartoonist and his wife.
Ben's mom took Bode for the morning so we could actually watch Maya's basketball tournament.  Lucky for them, this little festival was going on down the street from her house.
Baller.  HAHAHA!!!
Off a table full of cupcakes and cookies, Susan said Bode chose an apple.  That fires me up.
I love how much this kid loves staring at the water.  He loves it.  He's gonna' be awesome.
Susan: "And, we've now done it all."  Hahaha.
I don't know that there is really one other human being out there in the world like Ali Leblanc.

I'm not even sure, really, where to start with her.  In fact, this is one of those posts I've been putting off for months because whatever words I am able to pull together will certainly not do justice to how deeply grateful I am for having her in our lives.  Nor will this post stand a chance at allowing me to celebrate the amount of respect I have for the person she has proven to be every single day since we've know her.

For starters, she's gorgeous.  I mean, in a stunning sort of a way.  I'm usually in the middle of training when she gets into the gym every day, but no matter what max effort lift I'm working on or what PR I'm trying to hit on any given workout, I always catch her out of the corner of my eye.  It's a great way.  It's like she walks around with doves circling her and this gigantic smile on her flawless face, even when she's been punched in the gut by some curveball life's thrown at her.

She's always positive.


Then, there's her laugh.  It sounds weird, but she has one of those laughs that just make you want to laugh.  I have no idea if she actually thinks everything is as funny as she makes it seem, but she sure as hell has me fooled if doesn't.  Her laugh: it's just so damn contagious

Her voice is something, too.  I'm not a huge one to go hunting around critiquing people's speaking voices, but if I were that sort of person, Ali's voice is one I'd go looking for.  I don't know what it is.  It's crazy.  But, it's like every word that comes out of her mouth is wrapped with a big hug, some killer wrapping paper that has layers of meaning, and sprinkled with almost a motherly sort of love.

Ali has no children, but for some reason she's the one I call when Bode decides to pick up Harley and drop her on the floor.  Or, when I spike a 104 fever when Ben's away at The Games for a week and I don't know what to do.  She just has a way about her.  It's that whole thing where she never reacts with an ounce of nervousness, but somehow you know that she has immediately bumped you up to the top of her list of priorities.  Those are two tough emotions to marry together at the same time: making something out to be not as big of a deal as you think it is, but still making you feel like the other person cares tremendously about what you're going through.

But, the thing I will never cease to be both impressed and grateful for with this woman is how she treats her job: with more professionalism than anyone I've ever met, and as if our business is her own family's business.

Seriously, she treats everything she does in our business as if her own grandmother owned it and her family's livelihood depended on the success of her work ethic.  It's an incredible characteristic to witness.

We trust her as much as we trust our own parents, and you have no idea how much weight that statement carries.

For sure, there are a million other details I could add to this, but I don't want the little stuff to dilute the big picture with this girl.  

I love the comfort in knowing that when I leave CFNE everyday to take care of our kids and home, Ali's the one who's at the gym taking care of Ben.

So, here's to Alessandra Leblanc.

I love you like the sister I never had.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Photo Post

Caught up on some photo editing today on the way home from the Cape today.  Maya had a tournament this morning in Bourne, and we got to spend the rest of the day with Ben's mom in Megansett.  Got to take some photos on the lawn in front of their house where we got married five years ago, which was one of the deciding factors on why we got married there in the first place: being able to watch our family grow on the soil that brought us together.  Maya and Susan took the lawn pics.  Not too shabby, ladies :)

Some more pics from the BC-Clemson game that Jim and Mary Sullivan invited us to since box seats are the only way our family can be talked into that sort of sporting event. 

Some photos I finally cleaned up from last weekend in New Orleans. 

And, a few from my Friday trip with Bode and Harley to the farm.  Loving the New England weather these days :)