My journey of balancing small business and small kids

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Does my 5 year old have racial bias already?

This morning my five year old helped me take out the trash. She was dancing around in the drive as I cleaned out evidence of my many fast food lunches crushed into the corner of the passenger seat of my car.  I’m a Realtor so I eat a lot of lunches in my car.

We started making our way to place trash bin at the curb when she noticed about thirty birds eating birdseed that our neighbors had tossed in their driveway.

She looks at me and tells me that it looks like a birdie restaurant.  That it did with thirty doves quickly picking up seed and eating as fast as they could, much they way I must have looked creating my pile of fast food bags.

“Look daddy there is a one black bird, he must be the waiter.”

The waiter, the waiter! Why would she think the black one is the waiter? Does she think that since he’s black he must be the servant? We haven’t broached the topic of slavery from a historical perspective. We’ve taught that all men are equal and all birds too.  Where is she getting this from? Why would she think this?  We probably go out of our way to treat other races better than we treat ourselves. Does that make me a racists against my race and hers?  Heck she’s bi-racial so by offending ourselves I’m offending two races.

For a girl who has only known an African American President and knows that daddy’s favorite golfer among all the white guys is an African American, how the heck is she seeing racial bias.

All of these questions flooded my mind in a split second like a MSNBC reporter at a Trump rally.  I pictured myself running for city council in a few years having to answer questions about how my little girl obtained racial bias and not having any answer other than “I don’t freaking know!!!!”

So I asked, “sweetie, why is the black bird the waiter.”  She looked at me with innocent eyes and said “Because he’s wearing a black uniform like waiters do.”

Phew! She’s not racist just observant (not that we eat at many restaurants with waiters in tuxes, Chili’s waiters have been known to wear black).

I know that racial bias will creep its ugly head into my child’s world through TV, the internet, music, class mates and yes through her parents.  It’s nearly impossible to avoid. The problem as I look at it is not that its there but how we handle it. I honestly believe we have become  conditioned to see differences over the last many years in a way that I didn’t feel growing up.  I’m thirty-seven and think about race more now than at any point of my life. I had African American, Hispanic, Anglo and Asian American friends growing up. To me they were just friends and race was just a thing.  Sure I’ve felt odd being the only Hispanic at times when I’m certain places but  when I stopped thinking about it all was good. I have always just considered myself an American who’s family came from Spain and Mexico a long time ago.  My race is just part of my history. I’m not disowning it, I just don’t let if define me. I like the cultural elements of my heritage, especially the food.  I just believe my character is what should define me. That’s my choice and others have the right to think different.

We are all different and that’s a beautiful thing, yet we are all humans and love flows from and to us the same. Cultural differences make the world an amazingly awesome place. It would be boring if we all act the same way. If the whole world was like Texas it would be boring, well run but boring. We need Californian’s, New Yorkers, Europeans and everyone else.

The difference we as parents can  have is to make sure our children understand that we are all the same  in that we are all unique and we all need love.  We need to discuss these issues with our kids because if they don’t learn from us they will from someone else.  First to discuss the world from this standpoint we must really take a look at how we see others and the world. Our beliefs pass on to them.  Both hatred and love are taught. We can change the entire world in one generation if we all just really grow up and think like an innocent five year old who just observes the word through fun eyes.


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Seventh Anniversary of Dadhood

Seven years ago today I became “DAD” better known today as “Daddy, daddy, daddy”.  The very word strikes fear in the strongest of fatherless men world wide, yet I claim it proudly. I am dad hear me …. frankly sometimes its hard to hear myself because I’m the father of two little girls.

Seven short and at the same time long years ago at 2:56 pm my Ayla was born.  I honestly can’t remember what it felt like to not be a dad. There is a piece of my brain and all of my heart that has been captured by my littles.  I was always afraid that becoming a father would cause the identity of Joseph Cortez to be lost. In reality it was not until I became a dad that my full identity was fully revealed.

I’m not saying that I was incomplete prior to fatherhood just that who I am increased. It’s like God expanded my capacity to understand Him in a new way.  The same can be said of when I married my amazing wife.  There are certain things that only parents can ever understand and that can only be revealed through marriage.

I now look at the world through a lens I didn’t know existed prior to that magical day. Each and every day on this journey I discover new things about the world and myself. I find new weaknesses and once hidden strengths.  My outlook and approach to the social constructs under which the world operates have undergone a transformation in some respects and been reaffirmed in others.  I comprehend love to a level I never could have reached with out the precious gift that is fatherhood.

The main lesson I have learned over the past seven years is that no matter how well read I am, how many sides of every social and political issue I research,  how much advice I garner, I am incapable of being a great father without the grace and strength of God.  On my own I would give in to the temptation of taking the easy way out of difficult situations,  of discipline and guarding their hearts.  I so try to guard their hearts not to shield them from the world but to teach them to be rooted in the strength of conviction of knowing Gods love as best I can through the completely fallible vessel I am. 

The complexity of being a dad in a world focused on Bruce Jenners issues while a Christian holocaust occurs in the Middle East and goes untold is a daunting task.  Parenting in a world where we can’t figure out who should use what bathroom anymore and what was once right is now wrong is becoming increasingly difficult as being self guided instead of God guided is the new normal.  I shall keep my head laser focused on their hearts and do my best to grow as a father and understand I can only control my part. I must trust that my daughters will become who they are supposed to become.  So today I celebrate my daddy hood anniversary with great joy with, great concern for , and most importantly great love for my daughters.

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Till On!!

I’m sitting staring at a blank screen full of empty white space begging to be filled with insight and wisdom to be spread across the world wide web that connects every corner of the globe.  My fingers just hovering over the keyboard itching to spill out the many topics I just ran over in my head that I could share with the world. My thoughts on parenting, the ISIS crisis, why I love The Big Bang Theory show so much, or a recap of what Pastor Bil said this week. Thought after thought, idea after idea spring forth like Old Faithful. The problem is that like that geyser the thought springs to life with burst of energy only to fall gracefully to back of my mind only to spring forth at a later time.  So I have sat at this computer several times in 2015 waiting to bring life into my blog, the blog that someday will help a dream come to life.  I feel like I have been in planting mode with a lot of my life dreams lately.  I have been planting the seeds of our real estate business and building company. I have been planting the seeds of a book in various journals that are spread throughout my house and office.  The thing about planting is that it’s messy work and back breaking at the same time.  I remember a couple years ago borrowing an old gas tiller from a friend. I need to take out some grass in our front yard to put in a flower bed. I had never used a tiller before and it showed. I had a tough time controlling the machine at the outset. It bounced back and forth with a mind of its own. My attempts at straight lines were as crooked as a mayoral election in Chicago.  Once you start tilling an area you have to finish otherwise you have a pretty interesting landscape that screams of an unfinished task.  So till on I did.  After several minutes of fighting against the machine’s power I figured out that when I leaned in the tiller would dig in and allow me to push it forward. I began to use the once chaotic power in a controlled fashion to bring up the unwanted grass and get to the good soil.

So till on I shall with my dreams. The key is to take my chaotic power and push-in to bring out the good soil of my life. Honestly doing so is going to take some trial and error. The plan is not complicated. It’s three fold:

  1. Get Focused – I am an easily distracted person. I really enjoy learning so I will sometimes jump towards new things to learn. Getting focused for me looks like this:
    1. In business find out what brings the green and do that first. Key principle for all businesses. Fundamentals rule the game.
    2. In health – eat better exercise more. No infomercial needed for that one.
    3. Simplify my world by saying no to things that don’t get me closer to my goal.
  2. Move forward – instead of staring at a blank screen, just start typing. Taking action in the right direction is key. It may not be good to start with, but as they say you must start to be good. I’m going to get older. I might as well get older and try, than be older and wished I had tried.
  3. Have fun with life – In 2014 I allowed myself to get consumed by stress and fear. Looking back I had a lot more fun than I allowed myself to feel. My family and I made a lot of progress as a family and in our businesses. I’m going to smile more even when I don’t feel like it. Smile folks, it makes those around you smile as well.

Planting seeds is done for one reason and one reason only – TO GROW SOMETHING!!!! “The fruit will come,” is something I keep having to remind myself a long with, “you have a lot of fruit now, you are just planting a new type of tree. Be grateful for your current harvest while the next one grows.”

Plant your seeds and keep tilling. Find out what it is that you need to keep you going. Harness the chaotic power in your life. Push in and press forward. Life is hard sometimes especially when you don’t see the fruit of your labor. The sprouts will soon spring forth and a tree will appear. Blossoms will come and more fruit than you can handle will be yours. Just don’t stop planting and tending to it. First fruits only come after the growth. That’s the promise I’m holding on to. With each key stroke a seed is planted, with each new agent that joins our team a seed is planted. The sun is shining world and the sprouts are coming.

Till on folks!!!

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Father of the Brides and they are 6 and 4.

When I was in college I had a feeling that I was going to have daughters. I didn’t think about it much until I saw the movie “Father of the Bride.” I have always been a big Steve Martin and Martin short fan. Put them together in a movie and I’m going to watch even with a title like “Father of the Bride.” I knew I was in for trouble when I got misty eyed the first time I watched it. Thankfully I was solo at the time. I’ve held that secret for fifteen years. Anyone that knows me well knows that my thoughts are generally future based. I can envision my life many years in future. Being single and not in a serious relationship at that time I often wondered what it would be like to be married and have kids. I may have been one of the only guys I knew back then who really wanted to get married. I’m thankful I had enough sense and patience to wait for the right girl and not go down the wrong path just to fulfill a desire on my own instead of letting God’s plan work itself out. It’s amazing to see how he was working in my life even when I wasn’t following him.

Fast forward fifteen years to a Saturday afternoon. I’m thirty-five, happily married and father to two beautiful little girls, six and four. My oldest is at the age of wanting to watch movies with actual people in them and not just Disney Princesses. My wife and I are very conscious of what they watch and don’t let them watch to much TV that’s outside of their age range and if it is it’s usually something we have previewed. It’s impossible for them to unsee or unhear something.

My daughters have been fascinated with our wedding album so I knew they would have an interest in the wedding portion of the of Father of the Bride. From the beginning scene where George Banks (Steve Martin’s character) is speaking of his daughter my eyes began to water. I knew enough to stay in the kitchen working on dishes so they wouldn’t see me crying every 10 minutes. Okay it wasn’t that bad but close. The scene that kills me is when he is thinking about his daughter growing up through the years. The movie shows his daughter as a baby, then around 4, 8, teenager and then to the present time in the film. My future oriented brain ran me through the same sequence with my daughters. It is so true that sometimes your brain doesn’t know the difference between thought and reality. I could see myself walking them down the aisle and feeling the emotions of them growing up and leaving the nest. I teared up like a leaky faucet. I wasn’t sure if it was the thought of them leaving or the pain of how much a flipping wedding is going to costs.
I made the through the movie and took a big breath ready for a shot of testosterone from some sports watching. No such luck because part two came on right afterwards. In the second one George Banks’ daughter and wife both get pregnant. It’s hilarious and my girls enjoyed it more than the first. As the movie neared the end I was on the couch cuddled up with both girls watching as George Banks held his grandson and daughter. I held mine tight remembering when each was born and thinking about the day when I will become a grandpa.

I’m so glad there is not it a part three. I found the Spartan race on TV and watched amazing athletes at work. After an emotional morning with the movies and doing several loads of dishes and laundry while my wife was out I needed so man time. That being said man time was hard to do even with the Spartan race on as my girls pranced around the house singing.

I believe the college version of me who first saw the movie thinking about being a dad would be pleased with the wonderful family I have. I really look forward to seeing my daughters get married and I will be pleased to walk them down the aisle. I pray for their future spouse and ask God to bless them the way he blessed me. I also ask him to give the girls patience to wait for the right guy and not rush marriage. I think one of the greatest causes of divorce is people getting married to people they really shouldn’t marry and don’t know it because they rush.

I look forward to being Father of the Bride some day just glad I have a long time to wait and be the main man in their lives (I’m also thankful I have some time to save up for the weddings).

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Mom’s Gone Now What? Running Solo for A Week Part one

When my wife asked me if she could go to a conference for her company I said sure.  I go to two or three trainings a year and spend thousands of dollars a year on events to further my personal and professional education.  I love events where I can get surrounded by colleagues and superstars in my business.  My natural response was “yes”, because I want my wife to have the same opportunity I get.  What I didn’t fully realize at the time was that her being gone for 6 days meant I had to fly solo with two precious little girls during the summer in the midst of the busiest season of my work world with over a dozen real estate deals going and four construction projects on the ground.  I pulled up my daddy boots and put on my house husband apron and went to work. I am thankful that my parents were able to watch the girls during the days while I worked.  Without that I’m not sure I would have made it.

I’m fully capable of handling dinner and bedtime solo  and hanging with the girls for a night, as a HOTONE (Husband of Thirty-One) that’s no big deal. If you didn’t know my wife is a rockstar Thirty-One Gifts consultant. She really is amazing in her business, meaning I get to practice nighttime with the girls several times a month while she is hosting parties. Comes with the territory and I’m glad to do it. Supporting your spouse is key and should work both ways.   Doing nighttime and daytime for six days in a row was definitely a first.  Who knew kids ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus a snack and another snack and another snack. These kids eat like teenage boys. I was never told that growing girls eat like crazy as well.  Oh yeah did I mention that my six year old had just come out of the hospital for pancreatitus and was on a low fat diet. No easy out with McD’s and pizza every night. I actually had to come up with real meals and made a lot of salads. Thank God they ate them.  During lunch I crammed as much fattening food as I could find to ease the pain and fill my fat food cravings. 

We got so busy before my wife left that neither of us remembered to go grocery shopping.  Taking two little girls to the local grocery store at 5:30 pm in the middle of the week is like running into a hurricane. Don’t people shop on weekends? What was supposed to be a quick trip turned into an hour of “Daddy can I have this, daddy can I have that ….., daddy why are you buying so much wine?”  My kids are great when we go to a store about not crying over toys and other items. When it comes to telling them no about food it’s like I punched them in the gut and ran over their non-existent puppy. I was looking around to make sure no one called the police telling them I was depriving my girls of sweet tarts.  I could hear the sirens in my head and the “doink doink” sound from Law and Order.  Best thing to do is race to the check out and head home with boxes of non mom approved cereals (insert villianist laugh, hehehehe)

I did my best to keep up with dishes (paper plates), laundry (wear the same clothes for 6 day kids), and house work.  I did nothing but work, be dad, and house work. By ten o’clock each night I curled up in a little ball in my bed with a sippy cup of wine and watched Big Bang Theory reruns counting the days till my wife came home. 

Over all I really handled it well.  I actually managed to get a bunch of work done with the kids which I will detail in my next post. Nothing like showing your most expensive property of the year with the little ones in tow. 

The day before my wife came home the girls and I put it into high gear to have the house as clean as possible. The goal, let mom come home to a house with no dishes, laundry to be done and no toys in the living room.  I accomplished this with Disney Princess and Tinkerbell movie marathons and lollipops. 

I have the utmost respect for single parents everywhere.  If you’re a single parent and running a business you have the absolute toughest job in the world.  As a dad I’m equipped to handle a lot of things, spiders, bills, changing light bulbs, checking for the boogie monster and scaring off boys. However I’m not equipped for a week of dressing, feeding, and attempting to do the hair of  little girls. I tried and had some epic hair fails, so much so that my oldest just looked at me and said, “Lita (grandma) will do it when you drop us off.”

Amidst of all the chores and girly things I had some of the best quality time I could ever imagine with my kids. We danced and played games, watched movies and stayed up late a few times because it takes me forever to get through their nighttime routine while taking calls, sending out contracts and doing dishes.  I also developed an amazing appreciation for my wife.  The one thing I made sure of was to do my absolute best not to complain to my wife about the extra stress.

I wanted her to enjoy her time and get the most out her trip. Making your spouse feel guilty over work trips is not going to help your marriage at all. I must say my wife has been really good about this over the years. I never felt more guilt than my self imposed guilt. After a few trips I gave myself permission to enjoy my time and really focus on my trips. The great thing is once a year we now take a trip together to attend a personal growth event.

I made it through the 6 days unscathed and the kids had a good time, but we were all super excited to see mom.

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Working from a Children’s Hospital

The past few months have been to say the least extremely busy in my life. So much so my blog has taken an unwanted backseat.  Every time I have sat down to write my brain and body scream “get some rest and relax,” the unfortunate thing is that I listened.  One of the elements of the craziness over the past month has been my six year old daughter’s tummy pain.  After a few  visits to the doctor, a blood test, x-ray, ultrasound, and another blood test we were told she had pancreatitis.  Our family Doctor had us schedule an appointment with a gastrointestinal doc. The initial appointment was set three weeks out. My wife and I were not happy about waiting that long. Fortunately a few minutes later the Doctors office called back to say we could go in the next day, Friday. We showed up for the 8 am appointment and we didn’t wind up leaving till Monday.  The Friday appointment was pretty routine till the Doc said he wanted to do blood test and an MRI.  To take our daughters mind off it the impending needle, my wife and I danced around the exam room to the Happy Song. It was a great moment in parenting history like off of a sitcom. The great news about the MRI is that my daughter was able to watch the new Barbie and the Pony Tale movie. That movie isn’t even at our local RedBox yet. So next time you want to see a movie before it’s available for rent, might I suggest a $2,500 MRI because they beat Red Box.  Self employed insurance comes with a nice big deductible on top of the hefty monthly payment. For that kind of money you would at least expect a beer for the dads in the waiting room instead of watching a bad knock off of a Disney movie.  I could have definitely used a drink at that moment to calm my nerves. My wife was able to go back with my daughter and I had to wait solo while my little girl was undergoing a major medical test. Don’t tell me its not major because when it’s your kid a shot is major. My mind was racing with possibilities. I was trying to stay positive. I even went to my car to take a drive down Ocean Drive because I had an hour to spend. The phone rang as I got in my car. It was the Doctor from the morning appointment. He explained that her lipase levels had increased even higher and that they were admitting her into the hospital. I’m going to forgo the explanation of what pancreatitis is completely, lets just say its painful enough to make grown men cry. The only cure is fasting to keep the pancreas from producing lipase.

My wife and I handled the whole thing pretty well. We kept each other comforted and stayed positive and upbeat for our daughter. Inside we were more worried than Donald Sterling at a 50 Cent concert (was that a little to much, maybe). My wife rarely left my daughters side and I only went home to take care of my three year old one night. We gave each other food breaks so we wouldn’t eat or drink in front our precious fasting child. Confession, I snuck Baby Ruth’s while she was on potty breaks. Don’t judge, I had to keep my energy up. We couldn’t have made it through it with out the help of both of the grandmothers (lita and mimi) and my dad. My wife’s dad was a great support from Tennessee. We had some great friends and my brother and his family helped with food and visits. In addition we had a ton of people praying for her.  I don’t think I have ever prayed so hard in my life. I really do believe we prayed the pain from her. The doctors were astonished about the lack of pain she was in. It was earlier in the week that she was doubled over at night crying herself to sleep. That was tougher to watch than her in the hospital. A friend of mine prayed like have never heard anyone pray before on the phone with me. I was standing in the middle of Wal-Mart holding icecream dripping while we prayed. He encouraged me to go home and pray commanding prayers of her. I wasn’t sure what to do, but when it’s your child you do what you have to. I stood at her bedside with my hands on her stomach and prayed for the pain to go away. The next night was the first night she went to bed with out much pain.

So while my daughter is in the hospital I had to do a little work because as a Realtor where you are is your office. I negotiated a few deals and saved another. At 9 pm on a Saturday night I sat with my daughter in her hospital room watching Barbie movies and worked on contracts between her 6 trips to pee every hour. She went a lot because they were pumping her with fluids as fast as a hydraulic fracking operation.

As a dad it’s painful to see your child in the hospital. I literally wanted to switch places with her. It was tearing me apart to see her hooked up to an IV.  The first 5 am blood draw had me worried.  My little girl handled it like a champ. She learned to take deep breathes and focus. She sounded like a beginers lamas class.  she got through it.

The second morning when the doctor told her she had to stay another night was not so bad. The second day when she was told she had to stay for a third night was tough on her. She began to get hungry and frustrated. We did our best to keep her busy and distracted. The hospital staff was amazing as was the child life team.  She cried for a bit. A mommy’s hug was just what she needed.

The morning of the fourth day, Monday, she was cleared to eat a non-fat meal.  She had not eaten a real meal since Thursday night and only had a McDonald’s parfait at Friday at 10 am. She was so excited to have food.  I had to go back and forth to the hospital to take care of work responsibilities. I did the best I could, but I was so focused on her that it was tough to be my best.  I was able to make it in time to be there when the doctors cleared her to go home. She wept and wept. I had never seen her cry like that before. I asked her why and she said, “I’m so happy to be going home.”

That night when we were relaxing on the couch as a family we watch one of our favorite family shows, “America Ninja Warrior.”  I’m not really sure why the girls like it so much, but they do.  One of the guys on the show had been in the hospital and worked his way back from his death bed to compete. He told the announcer that after the hospital he had good perspective.  My daughter looked at me and said “Daddy, if I can beat the hospital, I can beat anything.”

That’s a phrase that I told myself as the administrator handed the first of several bills.  I can beat this. I am so proud of my little girl and the whole family. We pulled together and pulled through. I was definitely in full Fatherpreneur mode. Sleeping on the little fold out chair/bed that was designed by an Oompa-Lumpa for several nights, holding her during blood draws and the IV, negotiating deals with the phone in one hand and her hand in the other. It was the most stressful few days of my life. The health of my little girl trumps everything, however working helped keep me from getting to focused on negative thinking. The beauty of being and entrepreneur is that I didn’t have to ask permission to take off. It was a no brainer, I just did it. I worked with my clients to clear my schedule, I asked for help from my team and other than a few hours of work here and there I was more father than preneur.

I learned a lot from those for days, the most important things I learned is that my children are stronger than I think, my God is bigger than my situation, and if I can beat the hospital I can beat anything.


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5 Lesson I Learned During the Chaos that Was April

This past April was the beginning of a whirlwind for me with work and family. My real estate and building businesses both saw increases in customers and my wife’s business saw a dramatic increase as well.  The month literally flew by. Along with the increase in business we hosted our annual Easter Egg Hunt with approximately 100 kids in attendance and 2,500 eggs. My oldest daughter also turned six and had an amazing tea party birthday.  Looking back on April I am not sure how my wife and I made it, but we did and actually we are better for it.  Below are some lessons I learned and relearned during the past month. I say relearned because we all know the basics of what to do in life, we just don’t fully embrace the lessons until we truly need them.  

1. Eggs Don’t Stuff Themselves  – This simple lesson is ASK FOR HELP!

Last year my wife and I stuffed all the eggs for the Easter egg hunt, approximately 1,500. This year our schedules did not give us much time to get it done especially  with 2,500 eggs. Call in the moms.  My wife had some of her great friends stop by and they worked their little bunny tails off and did in a few hours what would have taken us a week of evenings. Don’t be afraid to reach for help. There is no shame in it. Ask for help with your business and family.  People are more willing to help than you may think. I will add this caveat, if you find yourself in constant need of help to sustain, then you may need to rethink some things in your schedule or what you are taking on. Enlisting additional help should get your through a period or advance you forward to where you can hire help.

2. Set it, focus on it, get it done – Short term goal achievement takes great effort.

My wife sells Thirty-One (cool hand bags and organizing equipment) www.mythirtyone.com/oakleycortez  She is really good at this business and is growing a great team. In April her team needed to sell over $15,000 worth of merchandise for Oakley to win a trip the Mexico.  I had never seen my wife so focused. She booked a ton of parties and sold a lot of merchandise and personally produced over a third of what was needed. She rallied her team of a dozen plus women. She reached the goal and will be heading to Mexico.  If you have a short-term goal you are working on, you must stay focused on it and do the hard work. It requires a sprint of effort and few other things (See lessons 3 and 4). Of course some-times it requires a half-marathon, wait for my next post.

3. Spousal Support Is a Must – Lean on each other when needed and push each other forward when needed.

Since we both are involved in the parentpreneurial journey my wife and I often have conflicting schedules and goals.  It’s not uncommon for her to have a party scheduled on an evening and for me to have a ton of paperwork to do or contracts to write etc.  No problem except for the little girls who kind of like us around and food with their meals.  If felt like there were several times I would come home and we would kiss each other in the doorway as she was heading out.  There was a lot of tag teaming going on. I knew that it was going to be a busy April for her. I just didn’t know mine was going to be as busy.  I was completely aware of her goal and had to make a commitment to support her in it.  I had to shift some more of my energies to focus on the house and kids. There were times where it was a struggle in my business and I got behind. That is part of the struggle with business and kids. If I got frustrated, I would remind myself of how much she has supported my efforts and that the chaos of the moment has a purpose (that last part is worth rereading).  When you get married you agree to support each other. It amazes me when I hear of marriages where the couples don’t really know whats going on with each other or even seem to care. I am extremely proud of my wife and feel great for doing my part. I must admit that in the midst of the chaos I wasn’t always so great. I’m glad she really loves me.

4. It’s okay if it doesn’t get done (at least right away) focus on the priorities.

Things are going to slip when you have a lot going on. Things are going to slip even more when your family has a lot going on.  In prep for the Easter Egg Hunt the house looked like the Easter Bunny had exploded in the living room.  During my wife’s and my tag team approach weeks the house was no better. We had an eminent threat of a tea party forcing us to get the house clean. I am a big fan of the eminent threat approach.   When you have no choice you get it done. We got  most of the house clean with the help of my wife’s parent who came in for the impending tea party.  After the tea party which was awesome it looked like a pink nuclear bomb exploded with girly fallout.  It has taken a while to recover. When you have a lot of major things to get done you have to put your energy into them. Get help on the small things and if they don’t get done then they can wait.  It’s not an excuse to forgo responsibilities. If it takes a few days to do dishes or if you have to eat out, it’s okay.  During spurts stuff happens. When a ship is in a storm the deck is not getting mopped.  Give yourself grace in the storms. Give your spouse and kids the same.  Not sure how, see next paragraph.

5. High Frustration Equals Low Patience and Visa Versa.  

There is not doubt that crazy schedules, lots of priorities, tiredness, hard work, and those delayed small things can add up to frustration.  During April my wife and I experienced the hangry thing several times. My love meter is at low when my frustration is high. It’s during these time that the kids usually tend not to listen, so I may have to speak a little louder than normal.  I really do my best to not push frustration on my family. It’s really hard sometimes. This is where grace towards one another is huge.  The antidote to frustration is love. I have to remind myself how much I love my family and they deserve the best of me.  I recently heard the acronym HALT. When you are Hungry Angry Lonely and Tired you need to halt or you may hurt those around you. During the chaos times take moments to gather yourself. Find a release that calms you down such as exercise, a nap, or reading.  My wife and I have a rule, only one of us can be frustrated at a time. This way we can relieve each other.  When the leadership in the family is all frustrated the kids have no one to turn to and instead they turn against both parents.  Find a way to fill your love meter up and lessen the frustration of the chaos. I did get to a point of asking myself why I was frustrated and then saying “is this really worth getting angry over?” More often than not the answer is no.

Busy times are part of the journey. Learning to get through them is essential. You will experience burnout if you can’t learn to manage these seasons.  The great thing is that with each season like this in my life I get better and managing them. Chaos strengthen character.