Extra Life 2014 – Team Carr

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For the last few years, I’ve been trying to find an excuse to play video games all day, and even all night. Although I had heard of the Extra Life Charity gaming event, trying to justify a 24-hour gaming session, with a wife and two young children was all but impossible. To my surprise, this year, my wife gave me the go-ahead. Yes, she is an amazing woman!

I decided to take it a step further, and start an Extra Life team inviting my high school students, and colleagues to join in on the fun. Not only am I hoping to raise a nice chunk of money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, but I will finally live the dream of gaming all day and all night. Hopefully, I can stay awake!

As of right now, I plan to play Star Wars: The Old Republic. I have three more Republic toons I want to finish the class story for, and with the recent expansion announcement, 12x EXP for class quests will make that possibility a solid reality.

If you want to join Team Carr as a player, or want to donate to help the kids, click here. Thanks in advance for your support!

 

Geek T of the Day – My Pieces of Flair

Anyone who knows me, knows that I wear geeky T-shirts just about every day. It’s one of my “pieces of flair.” The other, of course, are my awesome socks from our little shop called Pippi’s Longstockings. I plan to post a shirt a day on Instagram, but I thought, why not just do it here too? If anything, it’ll get me posted to my overly neglected blog every day. So, without further ado, here are some of the shirts I wore this week. Just in case you’re wondering, most of them are from teefury.com. Enjoy all the geeky T-shirtiness!

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This one is for Archer fans. “I guess I blacked out because I don’t remember stabbing him at all. ” -Cheryl

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Two shiny new Guardians of the Galaxy T-shirts. I’m pretty sure the answer is: “I am Groot”

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Just in time for new Big Bang Theory episodes! Bazinga!

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Man, I hate this word, but I love this T-shirt! MTFBWYA

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Live long and…craw?

The New Tomorrow

A few weeks ago, it was reported that Disney is making preparations to once again revamp Tomorrowland and turn it into Star Wars Land. The Star Wars lover in me hit the roof with excitement, while the deep, deep rooted lover of Disneyland started to cry. To really work through the huge disparity of emotions I felt upon hearing this news, I’ll have to take a brief look at each of the warring fandoms that threaten to tear me dramatically in twain.

Hey Daddy, is the old Tomorrowland gonna be in here?

My girls were hoping The White Rabbit was at home:)

4 Months and Beyond

I’ve been a resident of California my entire life. My mom grew up in Pasadena, California, and because of the close proximity to Disneyland, she grew up going to Disneyland at least once a year. Fast forward a couple decades to 1979. I was four months old when my parents took me to Disneyland for the first time. Granted, I don’t have a single memory available from that first visit, but my parents continued to make the drive from the Bay Area to Disneyland every summer thereafter.

I have several very fond memories around Disneyland as a child. I remember my siblings and I sitting up late, no sooner than month before we were scheduled to make the trek, pouring over last year’s Disneyland map and plotting out what we would do first, and discussing at great length what worked well the year before and what didn’t. Even geekier than that, we would even sing our favorite songs from certain rides, attempt to recite the Spanish warning phrase instructing us to “remain seated please,” and of course, seeing who could say the Thunder Mountain Railroad intro the fastest. If memory serves, I won.

As adults, that feeling of being a kid in a place of constant joy, music and fun is still part of who we are. My brother takes his son almost every year, usually around his birthday. Lucky for them his birthday is near Halloween, so they’ve been able to do Mickey’s Halloween Party, and of course, ride the Haunted Mansion Halloween style.

I’ve not only had the joy of passing my families tradition to my wife, but after years of showing her “the Carr way to do Disneyland” we’ve not only carved our own style to tackling the two parks, but started several new traditions with our first daughter, and now with our youngest as well. I’m not ashamed to admit that one of my new favorite family traditions is the Princess Lunch at Ariel’s Grotto in California Adventure. Seeing my girls’ faces light up when Cinderella, Snow White and the rest of their favorite princesses stop at our table, all but makes the sometimes difficult journey from Fort Bragg beyond worth it. Being able to sip on a ice cold IPA is another bonus to this meal.

It's not everyday Belle drops by while your eating lunch.

Belle dropping by during lunch

Another one of our favorite family traditions is to take our pictures as Star Wars characters. Yes, the cheesy digital “facelift” of new and traditional Star Wars images with our faces Photoshopped in. I’m still waiting for the day when my girls get over their fears and watch the Star Wars films with me. (My oldest is even too scared to watch an entire episode of The Clone Wars!) Only then will they be ready to make their geeky father proud on stage at Tomorrowland’s Jedi Academy.

Minnie!!

Minnie!!

For the Love of the Wars

My love for Star Wars hasn’t been as ever-present as my connection to Disneyland but it’s pretty damn close. I remember seeing The Empire Strikes Back at my grandmother’s house when I was five or six years old. One of my first memories was the scene where Yoda is giving sage advice to a young, stubborn Luke Skywalker. From that point on I was sold. I’ve made my love of Star Wars part of who I am. Although I didn’t own many Star Wars toys, every day I’d go to my neighbors house and play with his massive collection. I was so jealous of his Millennium Falcon toy carry case and countless action figures. Not too long after I got a Nintendo, so I eventually got to see his face wrinkled in jealousy.

Like most other Star Wars fans, I waited in line for the midnight showings for the prequels and re-releases of the original trilogy, I get several Star Wars collectibles and toys for Christmas each year, I’ve listened to almost every unabridged Star Wars Audiobook, and I have played just about every Star Wars video game ever created. Currently I spend my nights playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. Although I no longer write for them on a consistent basis, I’m one of the longest running contributors to TORWars.com, and help them cover community events near the Bay Area and San Diego Comic-Con.

Changing Tomorrow

When I heard that Disney was going to revamp my favorite land in the park, at first I was stoked. The ever hungry Star Wars fiend within was more than ready to consume more from the a galaxy far, far away.

Then, I started to think about what that meant. What people are forgetting is that there will be no more Tomorrowland! I’ve watched that land change several times over the years. Off the top of my head: The re-imagining of Space mountain, the removal and return of Captain EO, decommissioning the Skyway to Fantasyland and the People Movers, and of course, the overhauling of Star Tours.

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The kids fell asleep, so I soloed Star Tours…twice.

It’s this last point I want to address because it directly relates to how I anticipate feeling when Tomorrowland becomes Star Wars Land. When I heard that Disney was going to change Star Tours I immediately felt upset. Not only was I going to miss the ride completely during the construction period, but changing the ride meant changing the nostalgic feelings that go hand in hand with visiting the park every year. For me, a huge part of my yearly visits to Disneyland are that many of the things I love have never changed. The Jungle Cruise, The Haunted Mansion, and Splash Mountain have seen few if any changes since I was a kid. When I ride these attractions, I feel fully engrossed in how the child version of me felt the first time I rode it.

As most Star Wars fans know, the franchise seems to be synonymous with change. At least in the hands of George Lucas. When the new Star Tours ride debuted, I felt a mixture of “Whohoo that was awesome!” with “Aww what happened to Pee Wee Herman?” I knew the original ride by heart, and this new one changes every time. After a couple years I got over my nostalgia and fully embraced the awesome that is the new Star Tours attraction.

As far as the changes to Tomorrowland, I imagine my ability to walk through the Millennium Falcon, and ride speederbikes instead of Autopia cars will out weigh the part of me holding onto the Tomorrowland I’ve always known…eventually. I still have years to enjoy the most recent incarnation of Tomorrowland so hopefully, with this much time to let change sink in, I’ll be ready to get my Star Wars on for real in 2017.

Podcast Addict: Fatman on Batman Episode 2 – Mark Hamil!!

I’m not entirely sure when it happened. I used to listen to NPR religiously on my iPhone while I walked to work, walked the dog, worked out and played with my daughter Rowan. That seems like so long ago now. I guess my addiction to podcasts started when I started following Star Wars: The Old Republic. After becoming stupidly excited to play a game with no release date and very limited available information, I started following the SWTOR news site TORWars.com. Shortly after I thought, how cool would it be to write for a SWTOR fansite like this? I’ve always wanted to work in video games but lack the math skills necessary to program, and have no industry experience to apply for writing positions with established gaming companies. TORWars runs a weekly podcast and the combination of humor, news and humor (did I say it was funny yet?) showed me that podcasting is, and can be more than just nerds raging behind a mic with only their mothers giving them a courtesy listen or two.

While visiting my sister in Chicago I decided I had nothing to lose but to email TORWars and ask if I can help with their site. I figured the worst they could say was no. Well, not only did they say yes, but after writing for the site for over a year, the game has launched and the site is still going strong.

After signing on with TORWars I started listening to a few other SWTOR weekly podcasts. It really was a few at first. But like any “addict” I inevitably upped the dose. I found myself listening to over a dozen weekly casts, some up to two hours long! By the end of week I found myself not only out of podcasts, but going back and listening to my favorites over again!

Out of podcasts. Now what?

Now that SWTOR has released and hasn’t done as well as the fans, and likely the developers, thought it would, many of the casts I loved have slowly gone away one by one. TORWars is still posting two casts a week, and if you are fan of SWTOR like I am, and you haven’t heard the TORWars podcast, shame on you! In fact, click here and start up their latest cast while you read the rest of my little story.

As the SWTOR community settles in and the most dedicated fans continue to produce amazingly high quality, informative and humorous podcasts about the game, I was desperate to find something beside NPR to listen to while I waited for new SWTOR casts to post. Enter Kevin Smith, his amazing gift of gab, and his love of the interwebs.

I have always loved Kevin Smith’s movies. Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and of course, Clerks, are some of my all time favorite movies. Recently, I finally found the time to sit down and watch Red State. I could go on for days about the brilliance of this movie, but I’ll save that for another day.

Besides making movies, Kevin Smith is an avid podcaster and has several podcasts posting every week under his SModcast label. His most recent endeavor was the inspiration for this new column. Fatman on Batman.

If you love Batman, and are fan of Kevin Smith, you should be listening right about now. (pic from smodcast.com)

I’ve always been a geeky guy, and every true geek has a favorite superhero. While men in tights, capes and amazing superpowers are most comic book geeks favorites, I’ve always loved Batman. It’s because of his lack of superpowers that drew me to him. He’s a man who makes mistakes, takes a few right crosses to the chin, and actually feels the pain that makes him more than a superhero. It makes him a super human, and infinitely easier to identify with.

Kevin Smith’s new Fatman on Batman podcast is part comic book rant, part interviewing people working in the Batman universe and part nerdgasm. His second podcast, a two part episode, was absolutely no exception. Kevin Smith interviews Mr. Skywalker himself, Mark Hamil. I only use the Star Wars reference there because it is so absent from the 3+ hour interview. The podcast is full of what Mark Hamil did before and after the blockbuster Lucas films, and focuses on his work as The Joker in the Batman animated series and beyond. It’s one hell of a listen and me going on and on won’t do it justice. Hamil is an amazingly talented actor, and a sharp witted speaker that rivals even Kevin Smith himself. Never once was I like: “Talk about Star Wars!” Sure it comes up, but the conversation moves on just as quickly as it started. After listening to this beast of a podcast, my only hope now is to score a Comic-Con pass and hope to meet the man himself. (I scored the pass by the way! Thanks to Deirdre Hollis;)

Bottom line is if you are a fan of Batman at all, if you spent your “childhood” watching the animated series or reading Batman comics, this is your podcast. Best part, it’s free. Check it out and let me know your thoughts. Better yet, tell Kevin Smith. I sent both Kevin and Mark a Tweet praising the episode and Kevin Smith favorited it! I know, I had a crazy nerdsplosion when I saw that.

Honestly, there are hundreds of hours of hilarious podcasts to listen to over at Kevin Smith’s website. At the moment, I listen to Fatman on Batman, Jay and Silent Bob Get Old and SModcast, but there are many more to check out. When I can, I’ll give them a listen and give you some suggestions. I’ll have plenty of time to listen on the way to Comic-Con tomorrow. Speaking of which, I bought tickets to a live taping of Kevin Smith’s Hollywood Babble-on Saturday night and plan to check him out in Hall H earlier that night and on Friday night for a live taping of Fatman on Batman. Couldn’t be more stoked!!

Much to my wife’s dismay, I’m rarely seen outside of work without an earbud in my right ear listening to a podcast of some sort. Although it’s never actually on when my wife and kids are talking to me, or during family dinners etc., it makes great filler for washing dishes, patting a toddler to sleep or rocking my youngest daughter back to sleep for the hundredth time in one night. My name is Marshall Carr Jr. and I am a podcast “addict.”

The 4th of July 2012

The 4th in Fort Bragg is always fun. For small business owners it’s not the best day for sales, as most shops in town close, and everyone heads to Mendocino for the parade. This year it fell in the middle of the week, so closing Pippi’s wasn’t a terrible decision.

Jeremy and Danielle came into town for a visit and we had a blast. There was less nudity in the parade compared to years past, but watching people who have never seen the event before is thoroughly entertaining.

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Just one example of the strange floats in the parade. The dog lifts its leg and pees on the guy dressed as a fire hydrant.

When I started packing up beer and wine for the parade, Danielle was concerned. When we got there, and she saw that everyone was drinking on the street, I promptly poured her a glass of wine. Nothing like having a drink with great friends, on the street watching insanely off-the-wall floats pass by. End the day with a small barbeque at our house rounded out an amazing holiday.

Happy 4th everyone!

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I seem to have a Star Wars shirt for every occasion.

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The newly engaged, and his best man.

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Every fire house within a 50 mile radius is represented in the parade. Hope there’s never a fire on the 4th!

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Rowan making fruit kabobs for the BBQ.

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This guy yells “Root Beer” at the top of his lungs while helpers pass it out behind him. He sings too. Be thankful you didn’t hear it.

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This is about as scandalous as it got this year.

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This “pigeon” shows up for every parade without signing up. The white stuff on the street is the “poop” it leaves behind. WTF?

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Grubbing on some Q.

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The kids love Jeremy of course

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No idea he could even read!:)

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Apparently size matters.

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Your guess is as good as mine.

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Just one of many protest floats

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Painting in the yard on the 5th. An artist just like her mom.

Which Way to the Beach?

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This way to the beach…right?

When I was a kid, my parents took me and my siblings camping at least once or twice a summer. We had our favorite campgrounds, Yosemite included, so during a particularly awesome summer, (my parents having more time off, or more money, or both) we would camp three, maybe four times a year.

Now that I have my own kids, camping is not the worry free, work free, let’s play, play, play until we pass out kind of trip. Still, I could be at home participating in the norm. I’ll take a sunny day in Big Sur with my family any day.

The wife planned a trip about six months ago to one of my favorite places in the world: Big Sur. My parents have been wanting to camp with us the last couple of years, so this year it all worked out. Me and the girls, my parents, my brother and my nephew all made the long trek to the Big Sur Coast.

When you become an “upstanding” adult with a career and such, sometimes you just need to spend time with your family. Not just your wife and kids, but with your parents and siblings. I’m not talking about just going out to dinner one night, or meeting at grandma’s house for Christmas, but out and away from technology, electricity, and our stupidly comfortable Flobeds. This trip was just what we all needed. I got to reconnect with my parents and my brother, the kids got to see their cousin and play constantly for days, and there were no distractions, deadlines, or general life chaos to deal with. That said, there were a couple of real life intrusions while we were gone nearly a week. For me, there was a nagging desire to log into Star Wars: The Old Republic to check out Game Update 1.3 that went live last Tuesday, but the most noteworthy was my bartending, college graduate of a little brother getting the job offer call from Lockheed Martin he’s been waiting patiently for what seems like forever. I’m so very proud of my brother for maintaining his persistence, and his hope for a “real” career. I wish him the best of luck.

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Grats little bro! We are so proud.

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Great to camp with the parental units again.

There will be many, many pictures to follow, but overall it was an amazing trip, and although traveling with a one year old and a three year old is just plain silly sometimes, my little clan of beautiful ladies and I needed a break from the norm that is summertime and small business ownership in Fort Bragg, CA. After a nearly 12 hour journey home during crazy rush hour traffic on a Friday before the 4th of July, we got home physically dirtier but ready for a clean start to our summer together.

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So here’s Zoey…

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And heeeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Rowan!!

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Instead of cheese, Zoey’s goes ahhhh like she’s at the doctor getting her throat checked. Cute is one way to put it.

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Zoey is pretty attached to her Uncle Seanie.

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One of many “tumbles” down a slight incline Zoey would have during the week.

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No idea what time it is, but the girls are finally sleep!

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Motherly beauty on the beach

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So it’s not a toboggan in the snow, but it’ll do.

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Even a short hike up a large boulder is an accomplishment when you’re three years old.

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Cousins hanging out in the sun.

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It was my dad’s birthday while we were there. 6 weeks after foot surgery and a “mile” long hike to the beach, he deserved a brew. Happy birthday Pops!

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Julia Pfeiffer day hike to the falls. Don’t worry Zoey’s on my back:)

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Dinner at Big Sur Bakery took a while, so I took the kids for a “run.” The pizza was phenomenal as usual.

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The “phone” game with Uncle Sean

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It was windy, but still a nice lunch on the beach.

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Turns out there is a beach that you don’t have to walk a mile to see. Who knew! Still windy though.

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Yeah, yeah we all love Uncle Sean…

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It’s 6am, but a closed tent isn’t stopping them.

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Oh yeah, Auntie Gianna made the trip for a day as well!

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I know we’ve had a couple beers , but which way is the frakin’ beach?

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Okay wife, the hammock you bought came in very handy.

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Roe’s new favorite imaginative game. “Driving cars” with Pops:)

Busy, Busy – Part Two: Zoey’s First Birthday

Although the frequency with which I speak to my parents has decreased since Zoey’s birth, it’s visits like this that remind me that regardless of the distance, and time spent on the phone, my family’s connection will always be strong. I love my family, and I love my friends.

We celebrated Zoey’s 1st birthday (June 10th) with my parents the weekend before. We headed to Bay Area to attend Jeremy’s and Danielle’s engagement party, and later that night we barbequed and hung out with my parents, my girls, my brother and my nephew.

I often regret how far I live from my parents. It’s weekends like these that I cherish most when I’m away from my parents for what can be months at a time. Although we spend so much time apart, and not as much time on the phone catching up, when we all get together again, it’s like we’ve only been apart a few days.

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Grandma made cupcakes. No Zoey, you don’t get all of them.

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She did pretty well with the one cupcake though

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Hard to tell with the face my dad’s making, but they were stoked to celebrate for Zoey a week early.

The next weekend, we had a small birthday party at the house for Zoey. The girls’ friends and parents came over and we watched the kids play, fight to open Zoey’s gifts and eat cupcakes. It was yet another great day with friends. I still can’t believe Zoeys already one. Time is moving at a pace I fear I will never be able to keep up with. Enjoy the pics, and happy birthday Zoey Mae!

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More cupcakes!

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Somewhere in there are gifts for Zoey

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A new pack just like Rowan’s.

Busy, Busy – Part One: Jeremy’s Engagement Party

Me, the girls, and the eclipse.

Those who know me well enough, know that I would do anything for my friends and family. Sure, I’ve missed a few events, and a few get-togethers, but I’ve made the ones that matter most to them…I think.

The last few weeks have been crazy busy. As the school year ends everything becomes at least twice as stressful. My patience with my kids, my wife, and my students becomes shorter the closer I get to graduation. Other things go by the wayside as well. My ability to write for TORWars consistently was the most frustrating. This week I hope to carve chunks of writing time each day. Not only to keep up with the game I love, and the website that I love writing for, but also to get back to what I’m doing now.

With my second batch of seniors graduating and venturing into the great wide world beyond, I finally have to time to share with you a few of the things I was somehow able to do with my friends and family despite the chaos that is teaching seniors at the end of the school year.

Part 1: The Engagement Party

One of my best friends got engaged a few months ago. I couldn’t be happier for him and his fiance Danielle. When he asked me to be his best man, honored is only one of the feelings I had. I’m so proud of him, and can’t wait to stand at his side on his big day.

The wife and I were of course invited to their engagement party and ventured out of Fort Bragg the night before and stayed with my parents. My mom doesn’t get to see her grandkids very often considering we live about four and a half hours away. My mom, dad and brother, were more than happy to hang out with the girls while we helped Jeremy and Danielle set up for their big day.

Not having to be parents at the party was weird. Not only was I able to have conversations with amazing new people, but I could actually look them in the eye, and truly connect rather than constantly darting my eyes around the yard hoping my girls are okay, not getting into trouble, and all of the other dad-on-duty tasks.

We had a blast with the wedding party giving Jeremy a hard time, and laughing constantly with Danielle’s family. Kate and I haven’t had that much fun childless in a long time. I love my girls, but I think every couple needs that reconnect time with their spouse. This means a break from the parenting norm, having a few drinks with good friends, and doing those little things like holding hands, and putting our arms around each other, that happen so rarely when the kids are there.

Halfway through writing this I realized that I took no pictures during the party. I was clearly having to much fun. Instead, I stole most of these from Jeremy’s Facebook page. There are dozens and dozens more there if you want to check it out. Enjoy, and Part 2: Zoey’s 1st Birthday, is on the way soon.

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Jeremy and the groomsmen.

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The recently engaged couple.

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As good as it looks, we weren’t done setting up yet.

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Can you go wrong with a cupcake tower?

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I’m trying to train Jeremy in the delicate art of listening to your woman:)

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Me hoping what she’s looking for is actually in that bag!

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Nearing the end of a great party…for us anyway. Had to go to back to being parents at some point.

If the engagement party is any indicator, the wedding’s going to be amazing. Congrats guys!

Congrats and thanks for a great day Jeremy and Danielle! Let’s fast forward to the bachelor party!

1st Day of Summer

The Saturday after graduation is trip. Last year, Zoey was only a few days old, so needless to say, last year wasn’t quite the same as this year. It took most of the morning to realize that Monday would not be the start of another work week.

After Zoey’s nap we grabbed the annual pass to the botanical garden gifted to us by my father-in-law packed up the dog and a picnic and went for a walk. It was a perfect day for it and a perfect way to reconnect with my girls.

I guess I took a few photos!

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At least she wearing the hat. Not correctly but it’s on nonetheless.

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Me n the wife.

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The girls rolling out.

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Rowan riding the “waves.”

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Zoey got a little distracted.

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Rocks painted to look like eggs in a fairy garden. They won’t want to leave.

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Daggett is stoked to be hanging with us.

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Whoever though of this is brilliant.

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Rowan telling us all about the fairy garden

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Father’s Day 2012

Father’s Day is not Mother’s Day. The latter is a day where you treat the mother in your life to whatever she wants as a family. This year, the girls and I went to the garden store with Kate, let her pick out stuff to plant, then we spent the rest of the day in the yard helping her garden. In reality I chased the girls while Kate worked, but it worked out very well.

My wife asked me a couple of weeks ago if I wanted to play golf on Father’s Day. My first thought was that she was totally messing with me, and as soon as I said yes, she’d throw her head back, laugh and say we were doing something as a family or with the in-laws. Don’t get me wrong, all of that would’ve been just fine. In fact, we went to the in-laws for dinner anyway. The point is that this year I was encouraged to be selfish and spend the day on the course with many other Little River Men’s Club guys celebrating the day the same exact way; a beautiful day, and 18 holes of golf.

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You can’t see it, but there are several birdie putts waiting on the 2nd green.

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A beautiful day for a stroll.

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Dewey and I cooked at the in-laws this year. We grubbed:)

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Dewey didn’t last long after dinner.

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My father’s day gift from the in-laws. Win!