A Birthday Note For Sweets

RebekahRebekah is 15 today.

My Sweets.

The girl who started out at 5-lbs, 6-oz is now 5’6″ tall. She’s bright, smart, different, compassionate and loves to smile.  But I’m her Father, and am expected too say those things. (the picture to the left is from 2005)

On Friday she received a card from one of her girl friends from school and so that anonymity is preserved I will not name names.  However.  This was the writing on the inside:

Dear Rebekah,

You’re probably wondering why I’m giving your b-day card 2 days early, well silly I can’t give you your card Sunday. 🙂

Happy Happy 15th b-day beautiful!!  You are an amazing best friend, and sister.  I feel so happy talking to you.  Your beautiful and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  🙂 I’ll always be here for you even when times are tough! 🙂 You’re an amazing singer. We really should hang out soon!! 🙂 Even when times get tough, no matter how big or small the problem, I’ll be there for you to infinity and beyond. ❤ You’re amazing at so many things but my fav is just being yourself. 🙂

If I hadn’t met you back in elementary school, I’d probably be a weird girl with no friends. You gave me a sense of hope, love and always told me never to give up! 🙂 I’m so glad you’re my sister. 🙂 The two of us can be weird together but that’s okay because we don’t care what people think.

❤ ya more than this whole world!! 🙂


Happy Birthday Sweets.  You are indeed a very special girl, and you are loved.


18 Years, and Counting



Today I celebrate 18 years of marriage with my wife Julie. 18 years of memories:

In 1996, we made a promise

In 1997, we were blessed with the best gift we never knew we wanted. Joseph Paul

In 1998, I graduated from CCS, Julie was changing lives

In 1999, we took a chance and moved to Atlanta, GA

In 2000, our reward for that chance was a beautiful little girl we named Rebekah Louise

In 2001, we took a chance and moved to the state of New York

In 2002, our reward for that chance was a beautiful little boy we named Aaron John

In 2003, we were regulars at the Strong National Museum of Play

In 2004, we cultivated our garden

In 2005, we spent many days in Maryland with Joanne

In 2006, we saw RENT in NYC

In 2007, we welcomed my brother and his family to spend Christmas in NY

In 2008, we traveled to OZ

In 2009, we saw my mother get remarried

In 2010, we spent lots of time in Disney thanks to our generous parents

In 2011, we bought a home

In 2012, we took a chance to forge our own path with Brandtatorship

In 2013, we left the country to celebrate a retirement (read: freedom)

In 2014, we started the college tours for the best gift we never knew we wanted

In 2015…


The Moral of Mystic River

“Just admit what you did. Come on, it will be alright… just admit what you did.”

Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn) speaks these words as he waits for the justification he needs before killing Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins) in the 2003 movie Mystic River. Dave is bullied into giving Jimmy the closure he needs to deal with the death of his own teenage daughter. If you have not seen the movie read no further: Spoiler Alert! Dave dies, and shocker… he didn’t do it, and his reward for fessing up to crime he didn’t commit is his body gets dumped in the Mystic River.

In this case it’s not about getting to the truth. It’s about the need to be right at that moment so that feelings can be placed at ease. In most disputes the truth is muddled by our own interpretation of events, our own insecurities, or logical point of view. But what can’t be disputed are facts. In Mystic River, Dave was dealing in fact. Jimmy was dealing in emotion. Dave didn’t kill Jimmy’s daughter, and Jimmy finds out too late and since he was hunger for closure he acted in haste.

I hope my children understand this very key point so that when they are on the playground, or as adults they can always deal in fact. I don’t want their own interpretation altering the truth just to justify their position. Nor do I want them to wrongfully own up to something they didn’t do just because of pressure by another. Remember, facts can’t be disputed. Any good lawyer knows this.

The moral? Stand up for yourself and deal in fact. That way nobody gets wrongfully dumped in the river.

The Picture Frame

Picture FrameThis picture sits on the side table located in my daughter Rebekah’s bedroom. It’s a picture of her and me at the hospital probably minutes after she was born. I love this photo of the two of us. It captures a moment in time that is burned in my memory forever. Rebekah was full term but tiny at birth. 5 lbs – 6 oz. For a bit of size perspective, all of her fingers could fit on my thumbnail. The reason I am writing this post is because I didn’t give Rebekah this photo for her picture frame. At some point she came across this picture on her own. She decided to hijack it from where ever it was, cut it to size, and place it inside this picture frame that at one time had her baby photo inside. Now this one of the two of us sits at her the bedside. When I asked her when she did this, she just smiled and raised her one eyebrow.

I love this girl like no other girl on the planet.

This once tiny little girl turns 13 today. A teenager. Happy Birthday Sweets.

Two Ways to Relieve Stress.

I have been having pain in my upper back for weeks now. Just inside the left shoulder blade. The knot is quite big and it sends pain to my elbow. Now I am not a doctor, or a chiropractor but I do know where the pain comes from.

It comes from stress.

Today a concerned Rebekah came up to be when she saw me wince and asked me a simple question.
“Why does your back hurt?”, I responded with “Well Rebekah, I have been under a lot of stress lately, have not been sleeping well, and as a result my muscles in my back are tense. They squeeze nerve endings and it’s painful. It’ll go away soon. Not to worry, or maybe I just need a good back rub!”

She the responded with “I know two ways to get rid of your stress.”
Captivated by her confidence I eagerly awaited her sound advice.
“1. Go see a chiropractor.”
“2. Stop having stress.”

I love the simplicity, but Sweets if it were only that easy.

My Apologies Mr. Google

According to my daughter Rebekah, I’m famous.

I’m famous because Google said so. She told me that on the last day of school she did a Google search on me, and since I came up first and really multiple times I must be famous, because in her words…“Only famous people are on Google.”

It was sweet. Now, I don’t expect Rebekah to understand the concept of the search engines, spiders and keywords just yet. It’s hard enough for the educated adult to understand proper SEO. Anyone, not just the famous, can make it to the top of a search list if your active in your profession and participate in social circles. What I liked about her “you are famous” comment is that she’s really saying that she’s proud of her papa, of what I do for a living, and after all that, I am her father and that makes me important to her.

Sorry Google, that’s all the notoriety I need.

(However, a Wikipedia page would be nice… just sayin’)

All Stall Questions Get Answers

My kids are funny.

They ask questions.

A shit ton of questions.

I love that they are so inquisitive, but there is one set of questions they ask that I rather they didn’t ask as much. They’re the stall questions before they formulate their thoughts. The “Dad, do you know what I find strange?” type of question that leads into what they really want to ask. I’m trying to get them to realize there is a better way to start a thought. Occasionally starting with a question is understandable but I want them to learn how to formulate their thought before they speak instead of using a lead in line to stall before they get to the point. When they get in front of their peers in school, or when they are working on a presentation to a future client I want them to speak intelligently with clear concise thoughts. In turn, they’ll be looked upon with greater authority and they’ll be able to command the room better.

Until then I will continue to use this opportunity to hone my improvisation skills.
Here are some of my responses to their stall questions.

Dad do you know what I find funny?
Realizing that plumbers do not grow on trees, but plums do?
Bears that juggle?
Pants with back pockets on the front?

Dad do you know what one thing I don’t understand?
Why the Germans invaded Poland?
How Wall Street trading works? Yeah I don’t understand that either.
The lyrics to songs written by James Mercer of The Shins?

Dad do you know what I find surprising?
The fact that three words that don’t rhyme happen to be colors? Silver, Purple and Orange… really what are the chances?
That all those clowns can fit in that tiny car?
That a cruise ship can float? Well that’s just basic physics…

Dad, do you know what I have been thinking?
That the movie Waterworld should never had been made?
That it’s a good thing cats don’t have opposable thumbs? Because if they did, I am pretty sure they’d rule to planet, well at least Canada.
Why Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck had to split up?

Dad, can I ask you something?
Sure, as long as it does not reference any movie involving Goldie Hawn.
Sure, as long as it has nothing to do with the rules of board game Stratego.
Depends, are you going to ask me if I can eat fire? Pretty sure I can’t do that.

Dad can I ask you a question?

Sure, ask me anything about the game of Monopoly.
Absolutely, but i’ll warn you now, I can’t speak Spanish, so if it a question about Spanish your out of luck.
Yes, but after I am done practicing my wax statue impression of Johnny Depp. (then I just stand there frozen)

The trick is trying to come up with something new and random each time. Joey and Rebekah, have caught on and now rarely start thoughts with stall questions. Aaron on the other hand gives me plenty of opportunities. When he finally catches on it will be mission accomplished.

On a side note Aaron turns 10 on July 19th. Happy Birthday Little Buddy. Do you know what I have been thinking? (No, it’s not about the bulk cost of upscale French textiles) That it’s hard to believe that my Little Buddy, is not so little anymore.