The Right Little Things: #ThanksBaby 

Life can be tough, especially when you are a parent. Sometimes you can find yourself overwhelmed with work life, home life, and trying to fit in all the other things you want/need to spend your time on. But with all those possible negatives comes what I have found to be a lifetime of positives that I like to call “The Right Little Things”.

I found myself getting stressed out, and the wife was as well, with all the “wrong” little things that seemed to be piling up. Dishes, laundry, getting the bills paid on time, remembering appointments and meetings and things we need to do for work, etc. It seemed to just go on and on and keep piling up on us, and right when we thought we were on top of it, another one shows up. One day, after “one of those days” I had a moment with the little one. 

It was just cute, just a standard little thing. Actually it was pretty gross. She farted, then came right up to my face and said “excuse me” with the biggest, silliest smile ever. I giggled uncontrollably and our cute little moment ended up with us cuddling on the couch watching an old cartoon from the 80’s called “She-Ra”. After a few minutes it dawned on me. 

These moments aren’t “just standard little things”, they’re the most important things. All this time we had been focused on all the little things that were causing us stress, not because they were important to remember, but because they were stressful. What we should be focusing on are “the right little things”, the ones that make every second of our day happy. The ones that lift our hearts more than any stressful one could sink them. And then I realized something else.

None of those moments are possible without her. It all comes from that beautiful little brain with that gargantuan personality. The result of 4 years of life comes overflowing with joy and adorableness and happiness and a simple understanding of what makes her happy. And that simplicity is part of the beauty of life itself, the simple understanding that its ok to be happy and move on from the stress as soon as it happens. 

The same can even be said for when she has a tantrum. 

Something she doesn’t like, happens. 

She throws a fit for 2 minutes. 

She finds something that makes her happy and boom, no more sadness. The misery washes away like it was never even there because it’s not important any more, or at least not as important as what’s making her happy. And thats the key. 

So thank you baby, for showing me how to let the stress pass and focus on the things that really matter. 

Thank you for teaching me how to live happy again. 
-B.K. 

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*Disclosure- Pampers and Life of Dad sponsored this post, although…it was about time I write it. They may have sponsored it, but the words and the feeling and the life are real.* 

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Just This Once

It’s 4AM, and I’m usually at work by now. It was a rough goings getting up though, considering the little one didn’t fall asleep till late. But I’m still up and technically my schedule has me in at 8, not 4. But this is the schedule I want, the schedule I love, and the one that’s available to me lately. The work has to get done and it’s easier to do when there is nobody else around. 

It’s gas day. I’ve been able to keep gas consumption on my thirsty Lincoln down to filling every week and a half, but I’ve been running on fumes for a few days now. 

For some reason the Turkey Hill has its own smell this early in the day. A mix between early morning clean air, gasoline, and a smell that can only be described as “the 80’s”. 

After filling up I head inside. Part of my diet change was switching from the sugar-loaded Red Bull to the not-as-sugar-loaded Monster “Zero Ultra”. As “sugar free” as one can get from an energy drink. One a day with breakfast, and good ol’ Turkey Hill has em 3-For-$5. 

It’s the usual scene inside, the lonely 3rd shift guy who’s overly positive for working 3rd shift retail. More power to him, he must have figured something out. I grab three cans and head to the register, loaded with knick-knacks as usual. Then I spot them. 

The thing the world has grown to love and hate all at the same time…..Fidget Spinners. 

If you’ve been off the Internet lately (and I can’t blame you) a Fidget Spinner is a palm sized device that is weighted evenly around the edges and has a freely spinning bearing assembly in the middle. You pinch the bearing assembly between your thumb and forefinger, then spin and watch while it spins for an immeasurable amount of time thanks to physics. 

It’s meant to be a handy tool for ADHD individuals to concentrate on tasks, giving their subconscious something to focus on while their primary conscious focus’ on the task at hand. So naturally, it’s being bought up by the thousands by every-fucking-body. 

I have resisted. It’s not for me, and my interest in it at all is very small. Big enough however, to pick one up for a moment while being rung out at a tiny gas station at 4 in the morning. 

“Just this once” I say to the cashier “for luck.” 

I spin. It does exactly what it’s meant to do. The satisfaction is minimal. I put it back. He picks it back up, spins it, and puts his salesman hat on. 

“Hey if you buy one it could be satisfying all day.” 

“No thanks,” I respond “if I needed it I would have it already.”

I ring out, duck into the car, and head out. The little message board on the dash says “287 miles till empty”, and I’m reminded of Frost. 

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
-Ben

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In Places: A Photo Series

Over the last 4 years I’ve found myself in a lot of places. Whether it’s traveling for work, working my day job, or just admiring and acknowledging my surroundings, I find myself snapping a picture that I’ve been there. But for me it’s beyond the preserving the memory or using it as content for my social media channels. 

It’s about sharing the opportunity to appreciate being present. Looking at your surroundings and being greatful, or simply seeing more detail than you used too.

When I was a kid (and sometimes as an adult as well) I’d look out the window of our moving car as we’re traveling down the highway and pick out something noticeable. A tree, a wall, a random spot off to the side or even in the middle of the road itself. I’d see that spot and I’d wonder what life is like right there in that spot, often wanting to just pull over and go experience it.

Maybe I’m crazy, but it’s a great big world out there and every inch of it has something knew to appreciate and experience in different ways. Looking at life through the lense of what things really are instead of taking them for granted and walking right past as I look deeply into my phone. 

Over the next couple of months, starting in June, I’ll be posting pictures one at a time along with the story behind it. If you follow my social media channels you may see some that are familiar, but I promise…

…the story will change how you look at it. And maybe even how you look at the world itself. 
Cheers, 

B.K.

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Junkyard Hound

As I walked up to the aisle I checked my phone again. A few years ago they started keeping an updated inventory on their website, innovative stuff for such an earthy gig. I was in the right row, now just to find the car. The familiar face of the front end of a Honda Civic, the same year as my wife’s car. Summer is rolling in and she needs a new A/C compressor, and we’re on a budget. Not because we have to be, but because we can be.

Growing up I learned to fix my own car, and it’s something I’m incredibly proud of. All the hours spent covered in grease in uncomfortable postitions with bloody knuckles and a number of choice words being yelled at whatever I was working on, they were all worth it. These days I can do things without hesitation and it’s not only saved us thousands of dollars, it’s paid back into my soul millions of times over. 

Part of this process is knowing something important about car parts: just because it’s used doesn’t mean it’s un-usable. 

A key to this is to also be knowledgeable about what is usable and not, but you’d be surprised what you can get used that will do you just as well (if not better than) new. It’s with this in mind that I’ve spent countless hours in a local junkyard. It’s not like the standard “idea” of a junkyard, get that out of your mind. Yes its dirty and occasionally run by “less than sociable” individuals, but this is the place of home mechanics’ dreams. 

Rows and rows and rows of cars. Some of them are totaled from accidents, some just have so many issues the owner decided to have it junked. Is every piece perfect? No. Is every piece ruined? Not even close. They drain all the fluids, remove the most valuable parts (aftermarket rims and sound systems) and park the thing up on bricks. Then the hounds come to pick it apart. And it’s never just one type of car, it’s every type. Trucks, vans, coupes, four-door, etc. all of different brands and colors. 

So there I was again today, clear skies and my tool box in hand. I recognized the car from the fenders, since the hood and the rest of the front end had already been snatched up. 

Good. 

That means the engine is out in the open, right in front of me like a patient prepped for surgery. I put down my box, take a gander at the front of the engine block and find the exact place where the A/C compressor lives. 

Well…..lived. 

“Fuck.” I’m too late. Someone already got to this one. A referrbed one goes for $350, a brand new one goes for a bit more, hence I’m here. We’ve got other things we’d rather do with that kind of money, but we’ll do what we can and what we have too. 

So I text the wife, and move on to the Lincolns. Cause I’ve got one at home that needs a few things, and they have 4 here to choose from. A Buffett of mechanical awesomeness and the Junyard Hound within, with black fingers and random scars, smells that familiar smell and feels that familiar feeling. Putting in work, getting dirty, and fulfilling my promise to my family to do the best I can to keep us going. 

It satisfies on a spiritual level thats hard to describe. 

Cheers,

B.K.

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#ISleepTo Live Better: Beautyrest Sleeptracker 

It’s been a crazy couple of months. With starting a new job, taking care of the house and taking care of the kiddo, there are nights where we don’t sleep at all. But as we’ve worked out our new schedules and new daily processes, we’ve become more serious about taking care of ourselves. Sleep is an important part of how the body works and it effects everything, right down to your hormones. So getting as good a sleep as you can is a huge boost to the body and your day to day life. 

We were ripe for the challenge presented by Beautyrest when it came up. Use the Sleeptracker along with the app to track our sleeping habits and biometrics, then improve our sleep performance over the next 30 days. Challenge accepted! It’s been 5 days and it’s been interesting to get to know ourselves from that perspective, especially the breakdowns of what type of sleep we are getting each night and for how long. But there is also a little something else we are keeping track of thanks to the Sleeptracker. 

My side of the family has a number of genetically passed down illnesses and conditions that will manifest at any time, and it seems the first one has already been going on for a number of years: Sleep Apnea. Now, I don’t know for sure that I have it, but I certainly have some of the effects such as heavy snoring, inability to enter deep sleep regularly, and I occasionally stop breathing for a few seconds at a time every once in a while. All of these things, how well I breath and how much deep sleep I get, is tracked by the Sleeptracker and it’s seriously refreshing to have that data. 

Being healthy isn’t just for me though, it’s for my family. Let’s face it: parenting is hard enough as it is, but being unhealthy while trying to work a job, keep house, and take care of the little one is a huge challenge. Getting enough sleep helps me function better at work, which means I function better all day and into the evening when the little one is home and it’s time to “switch hats”. 


One of the better aspects may seem a little odd, but bear with me, because it’s a comparison that my Wife and I looked into a few years ago: I like that I don’t have to wear it to bed. Wearables need to be charged, and they’re mega uncomfortable. The Sleeptracker is completely non-invasive and all I had to do was set it up, plug it in, and hit a button on the app before I crawl into bed to get cozy and pass out. The convenience is awesome. 

Has sleep for my wife and I improved over the past 5 days? Probably not as much as we were hoping, but having the knowledge and the data to adjust things as well as being more conscious about the importance of sleep on the body is a huge step forward to getting better. 
-Ben 

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***I have partnered with Life of Dad and Beautyrest for this campaign. They gave me the tools, but the results and opinions are my own.***

The Sound and The Feeling

Growing up, music was a huge deal. Over the years I learned a lot from my parents, my brothers, and my friends. Everything from Motown to Green Day, B.B. King to Paramore, ZZ Top to A Tribe Called Quest, Buddy Rich to Mighty Mighty Bosstones. You get the idea. 

We were a tad late when it came to technology, for a number of reasons. It made no real difference to how often we consumed music though, and I’ll never forget my earliest memories of music in the house: my Dad’s record player and a collection of Beatles, Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and more from that era. It played while he was cooking, while we ate, and on into the evening before bed. My Dads vinyl was a cornerstone of life for a while, so it was only natural that I find myself tapping into the same vein now that it’s available to me. 

I suppose it’s always been available, but for years I went for the cheaper and more portable versions of music players and so far into adulthood it’s been one of the keys to my sanity. But a few weeks ago, fate struck, and now I’m on a path that feels so….natural. Like putting on an old pair of boots, and wondering why you ever stopped wearing them in the first place.  

As part of my blogging life I often get sent free stuff, whether its for promotion of said item or an item that is part of the promotion of some brand’s message. A few weeks ago I received a pleasant surprise that is already in full “rotation” so to speak. 

I opened the box, and there it was: a suitcase record player. Smaller than a traditional briefcase and about half the weight of my 3 year old, wrapped in the classic faux leather, a solid plastic handle, and sporting a red velvet interior behind all the mechanics. It plays all three speeds (33, 45, 78) and it’s brand spanking new. The 45 it came with, featuring promotional music was pretty good, good enough to make me drop the needle as soon as possible. Beautiful. 

Instantaneously though, while fiddling with it to get the promo disc on there, I knew the next step. First payday from my new job was coming up, and there is a universe of vinyl out there just waiting for me, and more importantly, for them. For my wife and my little girl to experience the magic. Because here’s the thing: 

If you’ve never heard your favorite song on vinyl, you’ve never really heard it. 

There’s a certain level of clarity, not with the sound per se, but for the soul. The music is physically cut into a large disk that is then played by dragging a needle across those ridges, producing the sound. It’s dirty, and it’s natural. It’s like nothing else. You pick up on the little inconsistencies and pick out the different sections of the song itself. It’s magic. 

So it was time for my first trip, my first time buying vinyl. Or as my Dad called it “breaking your black cherry”. He was there of course, the perfect person for the job. Not to choose the music to listen too, but to let me know if the used stock we were perusing through was in good enough condition to spend the money on. He was my teacher yet again, as I took my time buying what I like to call “physical music”. 


The selection was decent and my collection started off strong. 

The Best of The Band: 

           The Band has always been one of my favorites, but admittedly only for the hits. It’s time I start looking deeper into their library, and I figure starting with a mix of my favorites and some I’ve never heard before is a good start. 

Billy Joel-“The Stranger”:

            I have never been a fan of Billy Joel. This album was one of a series of cd’s my oldest brother bought for me when we had a weekend together to just chat and get to know each other, something that we need every so often considering how far apart we were at that time. Not just in age (he’s 12 years older), but by the time I was in elementary school, he was in college. Getting to know him was one of the best things I’ve ever experienced, and this album is part of that. 

Tears for Fears-“Songs From The Big Chair”:

             One of my all time favorites for as long as I can remember. I don’t know who initially introduced it to me, but I do remember my brother Ash (9 years older than me) going on a binge of “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” for a week, and I was immediately in love with that song and this album. Not a want, but a need. 

George Carlin-“Class Clown”:

               The “must own” for comedy lovers. I’ve heard “The 6 Words You Can’t Say on Television” (a track from this album) more times than I can remember, but I’ve never listened to the whole album of the live recording from 1976. I can’t wait. 
I dropped them off at home, picke up the little one from Day Care, made her food, and brought the record player into the kitchen. I had a few moments to myself with Tears for Fears, and then it was time to show her. She took to it completely natural as soon as I started to explain it too her. I let her touch it a few times, get one or two fingerprints on the already dirty album before it was properly cleaned. She loves it. 

And now it begins, teaching her what I know and what I love. I can’t wait to see what she comes to love over the years, what I can offer her and what she brings home in the ways of music and the arts. It’s only the start. Another exciting part of being a parent, and a moment I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time. 


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