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…



14 Things I Love and Hate v2.0

This years Valentine’s Day Love/Hate list version 2.0… enjoy.
(Version 1.0 can be found here.)

I love green olives. Especially when drowning in a martini glass.

I hate hearing loose change in people’s pockets as they walk.

I love to run. Despite the hills that hate me.

I hate seeing people ride bikes without wearing helmets.

I love hearing stories told by other people, unless of course they’re stories.

I hate that there are haters in this world.

I love the word B U L L S H I T.

I hate the word “whatever”.

I love ice cream and cheese, even though they hate me, so now i don’t eat them.

I hate that I love to drink Mountain Dew.

I love music I can …and repeat, like Sara Bareilles.

I hate irrational behavior and try to avoid it like the plague.

I love sitting on my front porch during a severe thunderstorm.

I hate that Julie and the kids eat sardines right from the tin.

I love that my children find it a requirement to scoop kernels of corn with potato chips at the dinner table. Thus making their own corn chip.

I hate the feeling of throwing up, so I don’t.

I love to sneeze, so i do. Loudly.

I hate wearing glasses.

I love that a pencil behind my ear is a passport to creativity.

I hate eating at restaurants that specialize in the buffet.

I love baseball. Pitchers and Catchers already reported to Spring Training. Here comes the warmth.

I hate drinking pop straight from a aluminum can.

I love the burden of my sketchbook.

I hate stumps.

14 Things I Love and Hate

Valentine’s Day is about a cliche as it gets. In the spirit of those in love or in heartbreak, I figured I’d share 14 things that I love, and 14 things I hate.

I love tater tots … maybe more than a good thin crust pizza.

I hate onions. Even the ones called sweet.

I love improvisation, lamp, and the rest of that movie too.

I hate the music of Rod Stewart.

I love the smell of freshly printed 4-color brochures.

I hate walking into a bathroom with poor ventilation.

I love how certain people seem to reinvent themselves with ease.

I hate seeing good people give up.

I love how sincere Joey conducts himself.

I hate watching people put on Chapstick.

I love Rebekah’s innocence.

I hate the hearing the words slacks, moist and penetration.

I love holding hands.

I hate movies featuring live-action pets that speak.

I love how Aaron can dramatically effect the energy in a room for the better.

I hate that not everyone likes cauliflower.

I love that I have a tight circle of friends who know me better than me.

I hate the days when I don’t laugh.

I love the sound of wood pencils in a sharpener.

I hate watching a pencil die.

I love and admire how resilient Julie can be.

I hate birds. They peck, they poop, and they have beaks.

I love music and need it like water.

I hate walnuts in brownies.

I love getting paint on my hands, so much that it’s like a topical cocaine.

I hate smoking.

I love Max. Even if he is … a little shit.

I hate lists.

Not-So-Silly Bands

For years now I have been wearing silly bands on my left wrist. I wear them because my daughter Rebekah gave them to me. I can tell it makes her glow inside to know that I do. Every so often she’ll turn to me and say “Daddy, are you still wearing your silly bands? Do you need new ones? Want to trade?” Now the ironic thing is she no longer wears them, but I do. At first, I wore them because she asked. Now I wear them to serve as a daily reminder that my daughter Rebekah needs my constant protection, love and support.

Each time I look at these simple silly bands I am reminded that life for her is difficult. That each day is a struggle. She misreads social cues. She’s trusting … sometimes too trusting, and suffers from anxiety. Rebekah is allergic to seemingly everything, and does not understand sarcasm. A tough road for a little girl who’s in her first year of middle school. As a result, she has become an easy target for bullies at school. I know, kids are kids, and some of her classmates, or friends on the bus may not intend to hurt her feelings, but I certainly remember being 12. Kids jockey for social position during these years. It has to be hard for Rebekah to know that she doesn’t quite relate to her peers, but not understand why. As a Father my heart breaks for her and I am fully aware that I am overly-protective. Rebekah may be wired different and she may struggle, but that does not mean she is not smart. On the contrary, she is very smart, and just sees the world differently. Rebekah’s a good person with a huge heart and beautiful smile. Really get to know her past the playground, and you’ll see.

She is my daughter. My only daughter.

And I will forever support her. Silly bands and all.

Love at Three Sights

When I was younger I never believed in love at first sight. My life in advertising as an Art Director had trained me to never buy into the movie or television romances exploited by the entertainment industry. From early on I understood that on-screen romances were driven by plot lines, ratings and had nothing to do with real chemistry. A major component to love. However love is very abstract. It doesn’t follow rules and doesn’t pretend to play favorites and I understand that now. Love transcends the logical and gets you to see life differently. Eyes become opened, and this, at times, happens in an instant.

Such as, the first time I saw my son Joey. That was love at first sight. The doctor held him up, eyes wide open and he was big and strong. I picked him up and everything changed (stealing a line from Ben Folds).

The first time I saw my daughter Rebekah. That was love at first sight. Her tiny frame so fragile. Her cry so sweet. I fell hard that day.

The first time I saw youngest son Aaron, albeit one month early, well you guessed it, and that was before i knew he would grow into a sarcastic and witty energetic fireball.

I often think back to that time when I first saw each one of my children. When i do, my heart swells, and I get lost in thought. My reward is a memory burned into the soft tissue of my brain. It’s like the finger print of the one I love is permanently there for the rest of my days. I hope it’s something my three kids get to experience someday.

So if someone today asked me if i believed in love at first sight I would respond with a revised view of “depends on the case”. If somebody said to me “what about chemistry at first sight?”

Well that’s a definite yes, and a whole ‘nother blog post.

Target of Brotherly Love.

Our ability to love stems from the brain, not the heart.  So why does the heart get all the love?Going to Target on a random evening is hardly the melting pot for inspiration on a blog post. Something about aisle after aisle of toasters, button down shirts, and built-your-own dinette sets I guess. But there is a first for everything.
For instance, I was in Target last week with my two sons, Joey age 13, and his little brother Aaron age 8. For Valentines Day, their Grandma Mayernik had sent each one of our three children a valentine with her signature 2 dollar bill inside. This two dollar bill put Joey over the edge on a DS game that he had been saving up for weeks. So into Target we strolled. Joey smiling ear to ear. Beaming with success of a job well saved. And as the Target employee ceremoniously turned the key on the game case I heard Joey utter an “Uh Oh”. As he looked through his folded up money he just pulled from his pocket. “Oh shoot,” he muttered again. Now he has the attention of his little brother Aaron. “What’s going on Joe?” he questioned. Joey turned to me and said “I don’t think I have enough to cover the tax.” Well I asked him “How much do you need? Do the math and let me know how much will be short.” So I watched Joey as he figured out in his head how much he needed. I could tell he was taking the price of the game multiplying that number and then adding the total all the while his head was bobbing from side to side. Aaron looked on with concern. He knew how long Joey had been saving for this game. “Shoot” Joey responded to me, defeated, he said “I need another $2.39”. Without missing a beat Aaron pulled from his pocket his “Grandma Mayernik 2 dollar bill” he had gotten that afternoon and another dollar he just happen to have in his pocket. Aaron handed Joey his 3 dollars and said with bold confidence, “Here Joey now you have enough for your game”. I thought to myself, “Wow…what kind of a guy tears up in Target, and in the electronic section no less?” A dad that’s proud of his kids. That’s who.

Happy Valentines Day.