Follow Follow Follow

This will be my 3rd post of the day.  I have so many topics to write about and so many stories to tell but as I’ve mentioned previously, it’s difficult to find the time.  I have noticed that as “we” get more followers, it motivates me to post more, to write more, to share “our” story more.

Although, Mrs. Z hasn’t posted anywhere near as much as me, I know she will get on this sooner than later.  For instance, since I am away this weekend, I can almost bet that she will spend some time to post something good.

I realized the joy I get when I get a notification saying “User XYZ is now following you.”  I know the reason I get this great sense of accomplishment is because someone read one of the posts and wants to know more about what I’m going to write, what advice I may provide, and interested in hearing more of the story.

Writing has never really been a passion of mine.  Reading has never been a passion of mine.  However, I am now 29 years old.  I am a Father.  I am a husband.  I am son.  I am a grandson.  I am an uncle.  I am a friend.  Looking back, I have definitely grown up because now I believe writing is helping me express the way I feel and think at times.  Reading now makes me think of things I may have not thought about before.

I want you to follow this blog because I literally have hundreds of topics I want to write about and provide advice on – parenting advice, how to play the role of husband, how to make relationship lasts, better health advice, life tips and just a Guy POV.  I believe the more you read, the more you will understand.  I do not care about making money at all.  I wouldn’t even know how to make money off a blog.  What I do want to do is get enough followers to make a difference and be able to make a difference in people’s lives.

Follow Follow Follow…

Max 10.01.2013

A bachelor party that isn’t mine.

My busy time at work is starting.  It’s the end of the Quarter.  My position at financial analyst is to gather all financial statements, review them, consolidate the divisions, , provide our external auditors all needed documentation for their audit, and help prepare the 10Q report to file with the SEC.  This is not a good time to be taking time off but I do not have a choice.

One of my great friends is getting married in December and I am standing up at the wedding.  His brother is throwing a bachelor party this upcoming weekend and it’s in Nashville, TN.  It’s going to be a 4 day bash of celebrating the last single days of bachelor hood.  I can’t miss this.  My initial plan was to fly and I realized plane tickets were much too expensive from Chicago.  My next plan of driving failed with several other groups.  I already took the Friday off but I wasn’t able to take Thursday off as well.  I emailed the brother and told him I couldn’t make it.  His response, there is someone else that is leaving later and I bet you could hitch a ride with him.  He was right.  I was going.

I am leaving late Thursday afternoon and not coming back until Sunday night.  Next week will be a 70+ hour work week.  As previous experience has taught me, and I think most will agree, I usually feel more exhausted and tired after extended weekends.  For instance, Memorial Day Weekend is a 3 day weekend leading into summer.  All the family gatherings and busyness of trying to fit in all the activities makes me come back more tired than a normal 2 day weekend.  So I know that spending 2 nights with 20+ dudes of “celebrating” is not something I am particularly looking forward to.  Although, this should be a “fun” weekend, there are many things that are making me think otherwise.

I will be in car for almost 20 hours.  I will not see my girls for 3 nights.  I have a ton of work to be done at work and come back to one of the busiest times of the year.  I will be away from my wife on our one month wedding anniversary (smirk) – seems funny to me since we have been together for so long.

However, with all of this said, I need to be more positive and take this weekend as an opportunity.  It’s not very often a close friend gets to celebrate this.  This needs to be a special time and he needs to have a great time celebrating.  I hope that it is everything he hopes it will be.  I will begin preparing myself mentally for this trip right now…

Max 10.01.2013

Riding a one wheeler.

As I have been writing a post, I found a note from myself regarding my oldest daughter who will be 5 next year.  Eeeek!!!  Time sure does fly.  Anyways, she learned to ride a bike this past spring.  I basically put her on a two-wheeler and she told me she already knew how to do it.  I responded with, there is no training wheels.  Apparently, it didn’t matter to her and she just went.  I remember the initial proud feeling I got when I saw her riding.

So I found a note today about a funny thing she said I thought was so cute and decided to post it.  It was around Memorial Day weekend and A (my daughter) was riding around the neighborhood with me.  She was doing great.  I told her how proud I was of her.

Me: “I’m so proud of you for riding a two-wheeler.”

A: “I know Dad.  Soon I’ll be riding a one-wheeler.”

I love being a Dad.

Max 10.01.2013

Honeymoon without My Heart

I have been married for nearly three weeks and have been working diligently and attempting to post as much as I can about the wedding planning, the wedding, the honeymoon, coming back to work.  Today I wanted to quickly recap the honeymoon that my wife and I took.  Have you ever felt like your heart was missing?  That’s how I felt on my honeymoon after a couple of days… let me explain.

After a successful wedding on Friday (details on this soon to come), we spent Saturday hanging out with our daughters, packing, gathering ourselves together to take our very first vacation together since before we had kids.  We were going to a Secrets resorts in Riviera Maya, Mexico.  An all inclusive, adult only vacation with unlimited food and drinks, enjoying the beach with no craziness of children, sounds perfect right?  I mean we as parents deserve a break too sometimes, relax, and get back to our busy lives of children, work, and just everyday life.  I have been excited about this trip and looking forward to it since I initially booked it 6 months in advance.

We left our kiddos at Mrs. Z sisters house for a couple of days and my mom would be watching them the next couple of days.  We would be gone for 4 nights.  We left Sunday morning and were coming back Thursday night, we didn’t feel comfortable leaving the kids longer than that.  We also wanted to come back and have a few days to recoup from all the wedding and honeymoon chaos.

As we got dropped off by Mrs. Z Dad at the airport that Sunday, I felt anxious.  Would the kids be okay without us?  Would we be okay without them?  Am I sure this was a good idea to leave them for this long?  Will I make it in time to watch the 1st week of Bears Football?

Our flight was smooth and perfect.  We got in earlier than expected, transferred to the hotel and it was about noonish.  We were greeted like royalty.  The room was beautiful.  Our view I thought was fantastic of the ocean.  We began knocking back a few drinks and looking for a TV, to see if we can catch the Bears game and try some food as well.  I thought the hotel setup was just great, it felt relaxing, I really felt like I was in paradise.  Unfortunately, no Bears game, but I dismissed my disappointment and Katie and I just ate and drank and gave ourselves a tour of the hotel.  We were only on a few hours of sleep from the night before and discussed taking a nap, but that didn’t happen.  We were both running on adrenaline from being away and being able to relax for a few days almost seemed surreal to me.

We enjoyed the beach and ate a delicious Mexican dinner that night.  By 8pm we were absolutely exhausted and although I wanted to stay up later, and Katie’s eyes were closing as we sat on the patio, we decided to call it a night.  As much as I wanted to stay up and take advantage of the open bar, my body could no longer handle it and as soon as we both hit the bed, we were out.  The next morning, day 2, we were both up at 5am and enjoyed our in-room hot tub.  We watched the sunset from our balcony and went to enjoy a breakfast.

That morning, we agreed to a meeting with the Unlimited Vacation Club package – this was basically a presentation about a timeshare to come to any AM Resorts at anytime for huge promotional discounts.  I believe vacationing and taking time off to travel is essential to be able to move forward in life and keep a positive attitude, as well as have something to be looking forward too.  Without hesitation, we agreed to make our first big item purchase as a married couple but more details on this at another time.

That afternoon, we enjoyed LOTS of adult beverages with another couple at the swim up bar and passed out at the nearby cabana was reserved.  After our afternoon nap, we had dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse.  As mentioned perhaps in another post, I proposed at a Japanese Steakhouse (restaurant we have been going to the past 10 years) and this place just didn’t compare.  After dinner, and all the days drinking we have been doing, we were exhausted and both passed out for the night.

Tuesday morning, this is when I felt it changed for me.  I missed my girls.  Although we had video phone calls with them several times and we knew they were okay and having a great time, I missed them dearly.  The rest of the trip just felt off to me.  I tried to relax as much as I could, but it was hard, it felt as though my heart was missing from the trip.  We enjoyed more of the beach, great food, and drinks the rest of the trip.  We had a great couples massage that night.  Wednesday afternoon, we did some Jet Skiing.  But it all just seemed off to me from that point.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Z was not in her usual positive mood so I can only assume that she was feeling the same as I was.

My mom called me and we chatted with her and our girls.  They did not seem at all interested in what we were doing and didn’t seem like they missed us.  I missed them.  I felt like my heart was left in Chicago.  My mom offered to watch the girls and encouraged we stay a couple of days.  I couldn’t even imagine doing that.  I thanked her but respectfully declined and couldn’t wait for Thursday so I can give my girls hugs and kisses.

You spend all this time imagining time away from kids, away from work, away from life – to just relax, unwind, be rejuvenated and when the time comes – you don’t know what to do.  Perhaps it was just me.  I didn’t know what to do spending multiple nights away from them.  Perhaps they are just too young for me to leave them.  All I know is that all of the next vacations will be with them until they get older.  When we got back, I got all the hugs and kisses I had wished for.  We spent the next three days cleaning up and spending time with them.  It was wonderful, perhaps this was the type of honeymoon I needed.

Although I thought the overall vacation was a success, I missed my heart.  If I had a chance to do it over again, I would do it the exact same way because I wouldn’t realize how much I actually miss my girls and how much I need them.  Even if I spend a long day/night at the office and come home right before their bedtime, I still feel okay because I know I’m sleeping with them, I know they are close to me and I need that.  I need my heart because without it, is an unhealthy situation for me.

Stay tuned for more…

Max 09.26.13

Wedding Planning Guy Advice (Part 2)

I began a post yesterday about planning a wedding from a guy’s point of view.  So I wanted to continue with Part 2 today – click the link to read Part 1.

Wedding Planning Guy Advice (Part 1)

So my wife did most of the planning and organizing of our wedding but believe me, I was involved in plenty and did experience all of this first hand, especially since we already live together.  Although this may be changing currently, I assume most couples don’t live together prior to getting married, but with us living together, having combined finances, having kids already – I was there for most everything.  As mentioned, I don’t believe my opinion really mattered unless she agreed with it but I did know a couple of things which was important to me that I wanted to make sure happened.

Open bar.  I wanted to make sure that the guests had an option for premium beer and spirits.  I am a fan of consuming adult beverages, especially on special occasions and I wanted to make sure that everyone had exactly what they would like to drink.  Since I felt like Mrs. Z dismissed most things I had to say, she did agree with me on this particular selection and we went to the next topic.

Another discussion we needed to have is the flower girls at our wedding, I was initially nervous about this, mostly about the older one, who has been shy on multiple occasions and I was afraid she would chicken out.  We discussed this multiple times leading up to the wedding day, but we ultimately decided on having her do it which was an excellent decision and she did great, more on this on the wedding day post.

DJ selection?  We had multiple options and Mrs. Z had done more research on this than I had.  I did have a recommended DJ through my network, but Mrs. Z had decided on this which I was a bit apprehensive about as well.  This was a conversation my mom brought up numerous times because she had multiple suggestions on the DJ and wanted specific DJs that were recommended to her.  She wanted to make sure that certain Russian songs were played and that “my” Russian side of the family had fun.  Mrs. Z had made a deposit on based on her own research and we ignored this subject up until a week before.  We had so many obligations with jobs, kiddos, daily tasks that once the deposit was made, we ignored this and the online organization chart for the wedding day (basically what we expected from the DJ).  Thankfully, we met with him a week before, and went through a lot of information that made me feel more comfortable about the day.  More importantly than the songs he would play, and other details – I felt he had a great personality and seemed like a fun guy, another decision that I applaud my wife on.  Although I think she just got lucky on her selection.

And since I mentioned the DJ, think about all the things you need to select.  What song the bride comes out to, the song groom comes out to, what song you walk out to during introduction, first dance song for bride and groom, first dance song for daughter dad dance, first song for son mom dance.  Although I thought these would all be easy selections, I was wrong.  I had to second guess myself, we often debated on our first dance song up until the day of the wedding.  As a guy, be sure you prepare yourself for solid arguments and what songs you want heard, its not as easy as you may think.

Another guy task was selecting the Groomsmen Gifts.  Although my wife had hers selected and bought months in advance, I’m a guy and procrastinated this until the last possible moment.  I actually picked up the gifts the day of the rehearsal dinner which is when we gave our bridal party favors.  It’s not that it was difficult to select this for my boys, but it got stressful to have to run around and do this type of thing when I knew 9 months in advance that I needed this done.  For those of you interested, I bought glass decanters engraved with their initials which were not super expensive but looked outstanding, very happy with my decision on this.

The one item I did select ahead of time was the tuxes for the groomsmen and I.  As the day got closer, I changed my mind.  I was at Men’s Wearhouse multiple times changing my mind.  Although I had selected what I was wearing, I had worn a complete different shirt to the wedding, more on this at the Wedding Day post.

What about the photographer?  Katie had selected this and made a deposit months in advance.  However, as the day came closer, and after talking to several people, what about a videographer?  At first we had both chose that we needed to save as much money as we could, since we were making all the deposits and payments on credit cards, and a video was something we could live without.  The conversations I had though, made me think differently.  This wasn’t a traditional wedding, we were going to have our daughters there.  This was going to be a memory they would not remember since they are both young (4 and 2), so a wedding video would be perfect, making sure to let our video guy know that we wanted as much footage of them as possible.  I told Mrs. Z to place a phone call to our photographer company and see if they had any available, fortunately they did.  Once I received the various package information, I made the choice and called and made all the payments.  This was done less than a week before the big day.

I talked about adding more stress to the big day and leading up to it.  Well, to add more to the pile which was growing rapidly already, I had to give a ‘Thank You’ Groom speech since nobody else was doing it.  I wrote a draft of the speech a week before.  I reviewed it, I read it, I memorized it – kind off.  But the closer the day got, the more I felt it needed to change.  The more nervous I got about what I was saying.  Although it was simple ‘Thank You’ that I have written about previously of my speech, I was getting over-worked up about it.  Want to know how it turned out?  A wedding day post coming up from me point of view.

So Guy Advice?  Don’t wait until the last minute.  I guess that would be the right advice to give you all.  After going through everything, I may have another.  If you wait until the last minute, you will be going with your gut choice on most everything and I believe all the choices I made were perfect.  If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change a thing.  So how did the wedding turn out on September 6th, 2013?  How was the rehearsal dinner?  How was the honeymoon without seeing our kids for 4 nights?  All of this and more from the husband point of view coming soon…

Max 09.24.2013

Wedding Planning Guy Advice (Part 1)

I got married September 6th, 2013.  The day came and went in the blink of an eye.  It was only two weeks ago but it seems like a blur already, but what about all the wedding planning?  Well, here is a Guy Point of View, a Father point of view, and now a Husband point of view of the past year… this is NOT what I had expected no matter how many weddings I have attended, and trust me when I say this, I am only getting married once and this was it.

I proposed late December 2012 and the past 9 months have been planning for an event that only lasts six hours.  I never realized how much time is spent, how much money is spent, and how many people it takes to plan a “Perfect” wedding and make that day as special as possible for the bride.  In our case, we had two beautiful girls, ages 4 and almost 2, to make it even more challenging for us when it came to planning the big day.  Trust me, I have been to enough weddings, but until you experience and plan  your own, I don’t believe anyone really knows how much time it takes to plan everything and for it to come together.  So for those of you who have been there and those who haven’t, I would like to walk you through a middle class wedding planning extravaganza.

As I mentioned, we have two daughters, at least we have our flower girls picked out, right?  I have known my wife for 10 years, so after I proposed, I figured I had at least a couple of years until the actual wedding.  We were doing things backwards with having kids first, but we should enjoy the engagement phase.  That was not the case, a couple of days later, Mrs. Z already began the big day preparations.  I am pretty sure we barely talked for the next week because she was consumed by everything that involved our wedding.  Now I know a lot of girls always dream of getting married, being the center of attention, having your Dad walk you down the aisle – this fairy tale of a day, and my wife is a perfect example of that.  She has envision her wedding day since she was probably four.  So now that it was official, she wasted no time.

I remember I had the week off of work and I proposed right as the my time off started to really enjoy the next week.  Unfortunately, the week consisted of when do you want to get married, where do you want to get married, how are we going to afford it, who will stand up, how many people should we invite, should we take a honeymoon without our girls, and blah blah blah.  Not that I wasn’t interested in helping plan, but I thought we would just enjoy being engaged for some time.  Incorrect.  So my advice to all Guys is this – if you do not want to hear any wedding talk once you propose, please have a conversation and understanding with your girl before hand.  Otherwise, you are in for something you never had expected and it will happen quick.  Moving on.

Once I realized that this was it and we were getting married this year, September, I began to cautiously give my opinion on all items she asked me about.  I came to realize the truth though, and that your opinion does not matter what so ever, UNLESS, she agrees with your opinion and had already chose that in the first place.  Now I know for one, that I had no idea how many choices needed to be made… a venue, a church or other place, dress, tuxes, people standing up, food, flowers, photography, cakes, deserts, drinks, limo, guests and much MUCH more which in our case included how much we were willing to spend on a wedding, because at the time, I expected little to no help with any parents.  After everything is now done, I believe with over 150+ guests, we spent around $20,000 which isn’t all to bad considering…  so let’s break it down and let me provide guys advice they won’t get anywhere else when it comes to their own wedding… stay tuned for Part 2!

Back to Work after Honeymoon

As I mentioned yesterday, I am officially a married man.  My wife and I took our four night honeymoon in Mexico (more on this in another post), we came back to hang with the kiddos for a couple of days and get settled back home and yesterday it was the all dreaded back to work day.  Surprisingly enough though, it was not nearly as bad as previous back to work days.  Does this mean I actually like my job?  Does this mean I was rejuvenated from all the time off and was ready to get back to work?  Does this mean I was tired of spending every waking moment of my life with new wife?

No matter the reason, it was definitely a long first day back.  I did not turn on my laptop at all, did not look at any work including work emails so turning on my computer for the 1st time in 11 days was a bit overwhelming… watching your email inbox just exploding with emails over such a long stretch of time off.  I had notes of stuff to go through from management, there will multiple people missing in the office which made me wonder if there was additional items I needed to look at from them as well.  My head began to spin.  After sitting there for a few moments in silence and chatting with my manager about my past week, I gained the courage to stand up and get my 1st cup of coffee of the day.  It was official, I was back at work and back to reality of everyday life.

I devised a game plan to tackle all the emails and prioritize them, put together a list of things to do over the next few days, and most importantly caught up with my boss over any important items I may be missing.  Once I had this done which was at least a couple of hours into the day (lunchtime), I felt a great weight lifted all my shoulders.  I realized this was all manageable and it wouldn’t be as bad as I had envisioned.  As the day continued, I was able to plow through a lot of items and check things off my list.  The day was over.  I was back at work.  It wasn’t so bad.  I had imagined something much worse in my head after having so much time off.  After reflecting back on yesterday, I believe I really did feel rejuvenated from my time off.  Now that the wedding was over, all the stress from that was gone.  I was anxious to leave the kids for the honeymoon, but that anxiety was now over.  And coming back to tackle all the home things that we have procrastinated on, well it just wasn’t that bad.

I believe it was all just built up in my head and there was nothing to worry about at all.

Max 09.17.2013