Posts Tagged With: Fatherhood

Good Enough is still Good Enough

Good Better Best Signpost Representing Ratings And Improvement

A few months ago I came across this article via Facebook. A lot of what it said I had hear before, but the one line of advice that really struck me was this:

“Go for ‘good enough’ instead of ‘best decision ever made on earth’”.

I think that most of us want the best—the best for ourselves, children, spouses, etc. However the reality is that “the best” isn’t always attainable. Sometimes no matter how hard we work, prep and execute we are not able to obtain the best. Even if the “best” is not obtainable should that keep us from seeking the next best thing—good enough.

Our dynamic at home has changed in the last few weeks, which is difficult for us type A, routine-is-our-best-friend kind of people. One of those dynamics has me picking up the kids and then getting home to immediately cook dinner for the family. Inevitably, cooking takes time, which then takes time away from hanging out with my kids. However I have found that we have this 30-minute window between cooking dinner and my wife getting home that I have been using to go outside and play fishes and minnows with my girls. We run around, chase each other and then go on our playground and pretend we are the characters from the Magic Tree House book series.

Is this the most epic hangout time with my daughters? Probably not.

We could be doing lots of other things that are more fun and more memorable, but we don’t have time for it during the week. However this 30-minute window is good enough to bond with my girls, run around a bit and spend quality time together. Sure, I would love hours on end with them, but it’s not going to happen on a weeknight after working all day and getting dinner ready. The realization that good enough is actually good enough has been a much welcome relief for this dad who wants the best all the time.

So for all those dads out there that feel like there’s never enough time, space, room, resources, fishing, hunting, etc. in your life; know that even a little bit of it makes a big difference.

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Categories: dad and the kids, fatherhood, fathers, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Killing Me

Here liesDad

The last two months have been tough. Going from one kid to two has its challenges. The baby has been easy: sleep, eat, poop, repeat. My wonderful wife has been great and for the most part is the one that has to focus on Cecilia (the baby). Most of my time and focus has been on Claire (the four year old). This started of really well, but it has quickly spiraled into chaos.

Everything is a struggle with Claire.

Waking up, getting dressed, eating, going to preschool, coming home, play time, snack time and definitely going to bed at night. There isn’t one thing that we do during the day that doesn’t have the potential to explode on my face, and it usually does. Claire and I will have a great time playing and eating a snack, when suddenly she will fight with me about getting a bath. Claire will be dead tired and fight getting into bed; she will then wake up at 3am, 4am and 5am because she “can’t sleep”. WHAT THE HELL!! There is no rhyme or reason to it (at least I can’t see one).

I realize that change for a four year old is difficult, and lets face it…she is only four years old. Regardless of this fact, I am exhausted. I literally feel dead and spent every single day and night. The nights where Claire decides to wake up at 3am because she’s hungry are the worst. It takes all that I have to not run off to Mexico and seek asylum.

The kid is killing me.

When I am able to see past my exhaustion I recognize that this is exactly what is suppose to happen.

I need to die.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve come to realize that it isn’t my daughters fighting, crankiness, random 3am wake ups that are killing me. Sure this is tough for any person, but the fact is that my comfort, my desire for control and order are being purged out of me. They are unbalanced and unrealistic.

I don’t want to be purged. I want comfort. I want control. I want order.

I have known that I am “particular” about things; I believe its one of the reasons why I am successful at work. However, I never would have consider myself so rigged that I would be stressed out the way I currently am. I guess its always different in the most sacred of inner sanctums like home.

Comfort is good to some extent, but there is no growth in it. Comfort doesn’t allow for testing and purging. Trying to control things and people isn’t freedom, its slavery for them and myself. Order has value, until it turns your wife and daughters into tasks, objects that must be taken care of.

The kid isn’t killing me, she is an instrument of Gods grace that is taking this overly comfortable, control freak, that values order way too much; and is slowly, painfully, yet beautifully changing me into something else. Something better.

Something worth dying for.

I never would have thought that I would have these things messing with me, but I do. My spiritual director and counselor tell me that I am in a beautiful place, a sweet spot of sorts that has exponential opportunities for growth and transformation. I see more and more through this crazy, beautiful gift of a four year old that discovering fatherhood is not just about what I can do to help my children become holy, loving and responsible adults. It is also a journey of discovering that this father has to become a holy, loving and responsible adult.

Man! Never a dull moment in this journey.

Categories: being a man, best self, Catholic, dad and the kids, dads, death, dying to self, fatherhood, fathers, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Village

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We are 4 weeks into being parents for the second time around and it is great. My wife is doing well, minus the whole sleeping thing. Cecilia is healthy and very alert. We were told that, “its easier the second time around” and it definitely is. We knew what to expect which was great. Even though it was easier there still have been some challenges along the way that have made me incredibly grateful for our village.

My wife and I have some friends who have a good chunk of their immediate family living within walking distance. We tease them that it is a “compound” and that they are taking over that part of town. Kidding aside, there is something beautiful about that level of connectedness with family that these friends share. This little village of theirs gets them through the good, the bad and the ugly. Although my wife and I don’t have immediate family within walking distance we are blessed with a local community of friends, church family and amazing neighbors that have become our village.

The last few weeks have been a reminder of how necessary it is to have a village. Not just to provide meals because we had a baby, but for the overall goodness and formation of our family. Our village consists of men and women whose holiness and general awesomeness is being absorbed by our family and particularly our oldest daughter. Claire hears mom and dad say, “be good, be holy” but she also sees others living that way. Our village provides concrete examples of serving others and Claire sees that, absorb it and jumps right in. The village gathers for fun, for prayer, for joy and for grief. We love and serve one another. We laugh and cry together. We teach and learn from each other.

If you don’t have a village join one or gather people together to form one. No family can ever become what it is suppose to be in isolation. We need one another.

Categories: being a good example, being thankful, community, fatherhood, home and family, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reflections on Day 4 of Our Second Kid

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My wife and I got back from the hospital a few days ago after the birth of our second daughter Cecilia. Both mom and baby are doing really well and resting at home. I have been reflecting on our whole experience with Cecilia from conception to now, and man it has been different than with our first. The experience has been so different that at first I questioned whether baby number two was getting second best from us.

When Claire was born it was all new. We were prepping for Claire right away: buying a crib, sheets, curtains, etc. I had a baby gate up 6 months before Claire was born. It was all new and I guess thats the difference. Another significant difference was that we had no other kids to take care of and so we were able to really dive into preparing to become parents.

The last nine months have flashed by in the blink of an eye. We planed for Cecilia to be born in May and we were really excited for a second kid. Life had settled down with my wife’s studies so it was a perfect time for our little family to grow. That being said, we still found ourselves busy, running around constantly, and not with as much “free time” as we expected. Claire at four years old dominates most of our time and as the weeks turned into months suddenly I found myself in a hospital labor room telling my wife to “push”. I blinked again and Cecilia was in her mothers arms.

Here is what I am learning/experiencing so far with number two:

  1. Guilt: There is a level of guilt and general feeling-bad-ness that I’m experiencing due to comparing Cecilia’s pregnancy and birth to Claire’s. I know I’m not supposed to compare, but its where I am at. Lots of what I already said above applies here. I have heard from parents of 3+ children say that these feelings are normal.
  2. Focusing on first daughter: Although Cecilia needs mom pretty much all the time I am focusing more attention on Claire. I am sure that in Claire’s mind there is a certain level of “hey lets all still focus on me”. Claire has been pretty amazing so far and really enjoys her little sister. However, I want to make sure that Claire still sees how important she is to us even if we have to focus more time on Cecilia. There is just no way to know how a four year old mind will interpret certain actions from our end.
  3. Two isn’t that tough: Granted we are only four days in, but that ‘oh-my-god-we’re-responsible-for-a-baby’ mindset that most new parents experience is none existing. We have been out already and really all that number two does is sleep, eat and poop. As long as we can feed Cecilia, change her and stick her in a corner to sleep going out isn’t terrible.

I am sure there is sooo much more to come with having two kids, and with that a whole new list of what I am learning/experiencing. Right now we are so grateful for our little family.

Categories: babies, fatherhood, fathers, new baby, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Four

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A couple of days ago I was outside doing chores. My daughter Claire was out back playing on her playground and running back and forth entertaining her self. At the end of the day before bedtime Claire asked, “I want someone to play with me.” Regardless of how long we play with her, Claire will always want more play time. After Claire went to bed my wife and I reflected on the day and I couldn’t help but hear Claire’s words: “I want someone to play with me.”

Claire turned four a few days ago and it has caused me to pause and reflect on these last four years. What does my daughter see within these four years? Does she see a dad whose engaged, present, kind, forgiving, gentle, calm? I’m not quite sure. I’m those things described above: hopefully most of the time. Still the words, “I want someone to play with me.” echo in my mind and heart. Do I play enough with my daughter? Have I spent the quality time that Claire needs? Am I busy doing things for our life while Claire entertains herself?

Lots of questions now that she is four.

Claire will have a little sister soon. Cecilia. Will Cecilia ask the same question? Will I look back when she is four and wonder; did I play enough with her?

Maybe it’s the realization that my baby isn’t a baby but a little girl. Maybe those thoughts, emotions, etc. are getting the best of me. Maybe I’m doing as best as most dads. Maybe the statement, “I want someone to play with me” is a challenge. Something God is letting rattle in my head. Maybe I need to be pushed to become more, to do less, and play.

Lots of questions now that she is four.

 

Categories: being too busy, best self, dad and the kids, dads, fatherhood, fathers, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Strong-Willed Child

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My sweet little Claire is wonderful. Claire is kind, loving, intelligent, and as stubborn as a mule. At three years old, Claire is showing that she is her own person and will do what she wants, when she wants. This would be fine if Claire was 25 years old and living in her own place. However, at 3 years old and in my house, this isn’t going to fly.

It is quite amazing to see how strong-willed this little girl is. No matter if it’s what clothes she wants to wear, when she wants to eat, or whether playtime is over, Claire lets you know her desires without any hesitation. I find myself, at moments, wondering where the line should be drawn between letting her be this strong-willed, little person and needing to “break her in”.

I’ve been reading about strong-willed kids and the positive side is that, while early on they can be tough, they will grow to become great teenagers, capable of holding on to their integrity and not easily peer-pressured. This comes as great news to this father.

Here are a few things I’ve discovered so far about parenting a strong-willed child:

  1. Choices are essential: Early on I learned that asking Claire what she wanted was the wrong question to ask. Strong-willed kids want to be in charge of their choices, so if you ask them what they want, they will tell you without hesitation. The problem comes when their response isn’t an option you are willing to accept. I now word my questions like so: “Claire, which of these three outfits do you want to wear?” I have preselected the three outfits so I can live with whatever choice she makes. It is a win-win for both of us. This has been huge in dealing with food, clothes, and activities.
  2. “I wanna do it myself!”: This comes out of my daughter’s mouth anytime there is anything to be learned, experienced, or explored. Claire is not okay with mom or dad telling her that getting too close to the fireplace could burn her. Claire wants to feel the heat on her skin and see why she shouldn’t get that close. I’ve realized that Claire learns better when she can experience what we are talking about. I guess this can be applied to most people; however, there is a clear need for Claire to understand things by “doing it her self.” As long as there is a safe way for this to happen, it is worth doing.
  3. Raising my voice is pointless: This is really hard for me. My personality is pessimistic by nature, so when my daughter does something I disapprove of, it shows. I naturally raise my voice to confront Claire when she is doing something wrong and this causes her to become defensive. My wife constantly reminds me that a calm, cool voice will go a long way when disciplining. When I am able to listen to my wife’s wisdom, Claire is willing to listen as well.
  4. Strong, yet gentle leadership: We hear from counselors, psychologists, and all kinds of experts that children need discipline and guidance. Yet, the strong-willed child wants to be the master of his or her own destiny. As parents, we need to have just the right balance of strength and gentleness when leading these kids. I wrote a post a while ago about the strength of men. I think this post explains that balance well.
  5. Expect it to be challenging: Parenting in general is hard. When my daughter asserts her strong will it shouldn’t come as a surprise. I know that my daughter is going to want to do it her way. I know my daughter will want to question or challenge what I say. Therefore, I’ve learned we must be preemptive with strong-willed children. Think about what your child might do or say when you tell them it’s time to eat, or take a bath, or put toys away. When I expect my daughter to do it “my way” and it doesn’t work out I have myself to blame.

So, there you go. This is just some of what I have observed/learned so far. Nothing terribly complicated, but it’s so much easier said than done. Maybe our next kid will be willing to accept a simple, “because I said so.”

Categories: children, dads, daughters, fatherhood, Parenting, Strong-willed kids, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Perspective

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A few weeks ago I rented a moving truck to pick up a couch that was given to us. I had my daughter with me so I strapped her car seat to the passenger seat of the rental truck (I made sure the airbag was turned off—safety first). I hooked Claire up to her car seat and as I did she ‘oohed and ahhed’ as she looked around. I didn’t think anything of it at first, but Claire continued to be super excited. I got in the truck, fastened my seatbelt, and off we went to pick up the couch.

As I pulled out of the parking lot Claire said, “Wow Papi! Look at the cars on the road!” I acknowledged that cars were on the road and kept driving. “Papi, look at that (pointing to the road)! Look how fast we’re moving!” I looked down at the speedometer and thought ‘were not going that fast.’ “Papi, look at those colorful chairs on the side of the road! Wow papi!” I turned and said to Claire, “Those are always there baby.” Claire looked at me with a puzzled look and continued to be amazed by everything she was seeing.

This is the same road we take every day to go home or to visit family.

As the hamster began to pick up momentum in my head I realized why Claire was so excited about everything she saw. Claire had never seen any of this. At most Claire got partial views of this road, and heard sounds of cars passing by, or noises. In my car, Claire’s car seat sits much lower and her view is limited. In the rental truck Claire sat high up and had full access to all before her. Claire had perspective.

As I watched my daughter look around in awe and wonder I couldn’t help and think what a great analogy this experience was. Many of us, myself included, can’t always get a full picture of what’s going on or where we are going in life. We might get partial views and glimpses from time to time. We want perspective; we want to sit high up for full access to the whole picture. Claire sits low in my car and has to trust that when I tell her, “We are going home” that this is exactly where we are going even if she can’t see the way. When I say, “I’m taking you somewhere special” Claire tries to push up a little higher in her car seat to get a glimpse, but always realizes that even though she can’t see the way her father will get her there.

It is really hard to not see the full picture. We want to see so badly. We push up a little higher hopping we can sneak a peak.

May we trust that our Father is taking us on the right path. May we trust that although it isn’t always clear, and the sounds might be frightening our Father will get us exactly where we need to go.

Categories: dad and the kids, dads, fatherhood, fathers, God, perspective, trust, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Mi Vida Loca

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It has been a long time since I have written. I apologize for this. I can’t stand when blogs go dead for a while and here I am doing the same thing. The truth is our family has been going through lots of stuff (whose family isn’t) and we are now coming out on the other side. So here is a snap shot of some awesome things that have happened that I will certainly be writing more about.

  1. Home Sweet Home: This past summer my wife and I moved to a new-to-us-house. We were not planning on moving and all of a sudden we were. It was one of those situations where you find yourself thinking “are we really doing this?!” The move was a great financial decision. We were blessed to find a house that we could do minor work to at a price point we could afford. The best part of the house was the location—really close to the city, but tucked away in the woods on a little less than 3 acres. Going from apartment living to buying a house is a simple process, but buying a house while owning another house was nuts. I honestly never want to move again just because of the stress we experienced.
  2. We can have friends again: My beautiful bride is officially done with school and will be taking her license exam to be a Nurse Practitioner very soon. It took our whole family three long years to make this happen. We spent most of our weekends giving my wife the time and space to study while normal chores, and everyday tasks were completed. We are so happy its over! My bride worked really hard and soon it will pay off with a better paying position and the opportunity to do what she loves. We threw a party a week ago with some friends to celebrate the fact that we can have friends again. Seriously, if we haven’t talked to you in a while, please be our friends again. We have a fire pit we can share!
  3. Baby #2 is on route: We are super excited for our second baby to be on the way. My bride and I wanted to get pregnant close to the completion of her degree. We are teaching our first born that she will be a big sister and that this means she needs to listen more and step up to the plate to be a good example. Claire is a little over three years old so how much of that she is actually capturing is unknown to me. My bride and I are having some baby name troubles. She hates what I pick and I dislike hers—well see how that goes.
  4. Fix it: It didn’t take long before we moved to out first house that I began working on small projects I could tackle on my own. The new-to-us-house was no different. Now that trees surround us I made it my mission to get gutter guards installed. The project was super simple and took no time at all, which lead me to change out every single light switch and outlet. They were this puke brown color that didn’t match our wall paint choices. I finished most of that today. I accidentally wired some toggle switches wrong, but it all worked out. Gotta love Google and YouTube—I swear I can do anything on my own with those two.
  5. Internet Woes: Comcast is the only high-speed Internet provider in our area. I spent a month and a half fighting on the phone with them to get us hooked up. Apparently there wasn’t a connection point anywhere near our property. After over a dozen calls, several techs coming out, a city permit and a really great Comcast executive we finally got the Internet installed. We didn’t have to pay the $1200 fee they were going to charge us (due to my many calls and threats of going to the press). Unfortunately, my poor wife had to live like a gypsy going from wifi to wifi connection at friend’s homes, Panera and Starbucks to do work and school. They finally set up the Internet connection a week before my wife’s semester ended.

Here is a little taste of the blessings we are so lucky to experience. Our life has been a little crazy, but that’s what makes it fun.

More to come very soon.

Categories: being thankful, blessings, Catholic, fatherhood, fathers, home and family, home improvements, moving, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Stuff

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My family and I are moving to a new house in the next week. Needless to say we are in full-blown packing mode. We have only lived in our current house for a little over 3 years and it is amazing how much stuff we have accumulated. You would think that two adults and a 3 year old wouldn’t have so much, but man…there is a lot of stuff here!

What is crazy to me is how often in this packing process I have found things that we should have gotten rid of a long time ago. Clothes, food, toys, random things that I cannot even remember buying, etc. Some things I just shake my head at and wonder why we ever thought it was necessary in the first place.

A few months back there was a smell coming out of one of our lower kitchen cabinets. My wife thought it was the smell of the fish I had cooked the night before that had embedded itself into the cabinet. I figured, like most food smells, it would go away or be overcome by the next thing we cooked. The smell remained. Neither my wife nor I really paid too much attention to it. One day (sadly to say, this was about three weeks ago) I reached deep into the cabinet to get the food processor and amongst the movement of stuff I released a foul smell. I was immediately repelled back by the stank that came out. I recovered myself, took a deep breath and went in to investigate. I pulled the food processor out, some pans, and pots and finally there it was: a really old, really decomposed red onion. Thankfully it was in a bag and I was able to pick it up and throw it outside.

We threw the onion out and right away we could smell the difference in the kitchen. My wife and I laughed about the whole thing, but it got me thinking about how often the same type of thing happens inside of us. We can accumulate so much stuff inside our mind, heart and soul. Things we should’ve let go a long time ago. Regret, doubt, failures, what someone said, what someone didn’t say…the list goes on. Sometimes we don’t even realize that this stuff is affecting us.

Kind of like a decomposing red onion.

At some point I bought that onion and placed it in that cabinet. For some crazy reason I forgot about it but it affected me—it affected the whole household. As a man I recognize the desire to push things that are bothering me away. The “get over it” mind set may lead this, or maybe I convince myself that it really isn’t that big of a deal. The reality is that the serious stuff, the things that bother us do need to be dealt with or else they rot inside and whom are we kidding—it affects everyone we encounter: especially our family.

There is a lot of stuff—red onions—that I have stored up over the years deep inside the “kitchen cabinet of my being”. Some are based on old situations with my dad. Some are insecurities that are common to many men. Some are silly, but for whatever reason have a hold of me. As I continue to find random things in my house that we don’t need to carry on with us I am challenged to reflect on what I need to let go of so that I am not carrying it within me anymore.

Who knew moving to a new house would be such an existential exercise.

Categories: being a man, best self, cleansing, fatherhood, getting rid of junk, home and family, letting go of the past, moving, packing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Train

the rosary beads and gun

Last year I wrote about my discernment on whether or not to conceal carry. Here is the post if you are interested: Babies, Guns and Jesus. After the experience mentioned in that post I did a lot of thinking, praying and discussing with my wife. I spoke to lots of people about this subject. Some were experts in weapons training, police officers, military, priests, friends, neighbors, etc. My wife and I made our decision and I spent quite a bit of time training, learning and familiarizing myself with the safety and use of firearms. I still have a long way to go. On average I train every month or two with live fire and do dry fire drills at least 3 times a week. I know that many people do not feel the same way about guns and that’s fine.

This post is really not about guns.

Most of the guys I do weapons training with are very much convinced that they are doing this for the safety and welfare of their families. I wholeheartedly believe that. One guy got teary eyed as he shared how much he loved his family and how he wanted to be ready for anything that could potentially harm them. So do I.

I try really hard to listen, read, and follow the guidance of men and woman who are wiser and holier than I am. I especially try and study how to be a better man, husband and father. I find it so easy to want to be selfish and focus on my own desires and ignore my family—individualism is all about that. I have to constantly check myself and refocus. There is a certain discipline, training if you will, that I have to take on for this.

A few weeks ago I bumped into this video that really spoke to me about the importance of men training to defend their families. The video was not about weapons or hand-to-hand combat. The video was about prayer.

Prayer is the ultimate training that all men must take on. St. Padre Pio once said, “Prayer is the best weapon we posses.” Prayer isn’t something a weak man does. Prayer is something that a man who understands his place in the world does; a man who knows his limits, capacity, and potential; a man who recognizes that ultimately God is the one we need to turn to for our families protection and for them to become what they are meant to be.

Real men pray.

So here is the challenge I put to myself, and the men who read this blog. Pray. If you want to defend your family there is nothing more powerful than prayer. Here are some suggestions:

  • Get up earlier than your family does and pray for God to guide their path towards holiness for that specific day.
  • Pray with your spouse that God may lead both of you to be holy and help each other to grow towards that holiness.
  • Pray with your spouse for your children to be godly men and women.
  • Pray with your children and spouse before and after meals. Have each member of your family go around the table during meals and share how they saw God work in their lives that day.
  • Pray over your children. Literally put your hands above them and ask for Gods blessing to be poured out upon them. Not only is this good for the kids to see, hear and experience, it is also your duty as father to bless your children. (See Numbers 6:24-26 as one example)
  • Take time to pray alone. This is absolutely crucial. You can’t lead your family to pray if you don’t know how to do it. There are tons of devotionals, apps, scriptural guides, etc. that can be used to do this.
  • Go to confession and take your family with you. (Obviously for the Orthodox or Catholic folks)
  • (Again for Catholics and Orthodox folks) Take your family to adoration once a month. Have them sit before Jesus for 15-30 minutes (it will depend on how old your kids are, etc).
  • Read books that will inspire you to grow in holiness.
  • Surround yourself with other men who are training to grow in holiness.

I really enjoy shooting my guns at targets and training for scenarios, but lets be honest; there is a small chance that I will ever need to draw my weapon on anyone (thank God for that). However, if I am ever in that situation I’ve done all I can to be ready. I am more likely though to be tempted sexually, to be greedy, selfish, to be dishonest: insert your potential situation here. Praying for God to transform you and to guide you when those situations come (they will come) is important training. How will you respond to those situations if you have not prepared yourself?

Praying for and with our families is absolutely necessary. This world is filled with situations that if we are not actively “training” for we will get eaten alive. I pray every single day. Sometimes it’s short and rushed due to my daughter or other things outside of my control. More often than not I spend quality time in prayer. I need it. I cannot become whom God intends me to be if I am not communicating with Him. Communicate with Him. Encounter Him.

I want to protect my family and myself. I want to be ready for whatever this world is going to throw at us. I am whole heartedly convinced that there is no better training for a man than to seek the face of God in prayer and to ask the most important question we could ever inquire of Him: God, what do you ask of me?

Categories: being a man, Catholic, christianity, conceal carry, fatherhood, fighting, guns, holiness, manhood, prayer, protecting family, training, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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