Sunday, March 2, 2014

Emotional Overload

This photo puts me into tears every time I look at it.
Let’s face it, men are hard coded to not show emotions or stress levels. There is stress that a man, husband, father, etc. goes through that not many people know about. No one knows because we don’t talk about it. From paying the bills to parenting in general a man is always concerned about something. Over the last few moths I have been talking to my wife about what is bothering me. She really understands and listens to me. One day she thanked me for being so open with her.

We were forced to go through something no parent should go through. We learned that our child was not going to live long after she was born. She had a fatal birth defect called anencephaly. We had to make a choice to go through the rest of the pregnancy, or terminate the pregnancy. We went on through the rest of the pregnancy and our angel gave us over 6 hours of time with her.
That has been over a year ago and I still have my moments that I have a breakdown. It's very hard to discuss your feelings with something that is bothering you from over a year ago, but that's okay. I'm going to let everyone into my world for a few minutes. The Wife is pregnant again and everything is going great, but there is always that thought in the back of my head and she thinks about it too. This pregnancy is very different than the others because there is caution.

I make it a point to read Eden's blog at least once a week to remember everything about her. I look at the "Eden Wall" in our home, and remember everything I can. I do not want to forget anything. Her only cry, her flinch when I tapped her nose, the look on my Mom's face while she was holding her, the wife's embrace as we sit on the hospital bed, the impact that Eden had on our community, I can go on and on. Where I'm going with this is I'm remembering Eden today, and I am writing it down for future thoughts. I'm not going to lie if someone is going through what we went through, it is very hard, but there are people out there that have been in your shoes. Those are very hard shoes to be in.
To see Eden's story, go to and look through our story.
See my original post on Eden's birth here,

Emotions can be overwhelming at times, but we can get through them together. It takes more than one to talk about what is on your mind and it is not healthy to keep them inside. At some point you will get to a breaking point, and when that happens, it takes a bigger toll on everyone than talking about it before that breaking point happens.

The new addition to our family is due in May and we are very excited to see our bundle of joy. Her name will be Rosilee. Crazy thing happened with this name, the wife had a dream that The Brookie was playing with another little girl and her name was Rosilee. The Wife had a dream about the future, and this name stuck with her. This name, Rosilee, was actually a name of a woman in The Wife's family generations ago and many women in the family were named with that name.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gluten Free Banana Pancakes

The day that the wife introduced the idea to go gluten free is the day I thought she finally went off her rocker. How could I give up the gluten filled awesomeness we call bread and cake? The short answer is it was very hard at first. There was no way I had a reaction to wheat products. Sure, I have joint pain from being in the military, but that was part of it. But, after a few weeks I noticed that I wasn't in pain anymore, and I was sleeping better. It's got to be a fluke I kept telling myself. I would fall off the wagon and I would start feeling bad again. That was my reaction, joint pain, feeling tired all of the time, and I would wake up four to five times a night. I know I sound crazy, but that is my reaction to gluten products. Let's get back on subject here, I was trying to find a way that I could have good tasting pancakes in the mornings, and I started experimenting with bananas and eggs. After a few failures I figured out the perfect way to have my precious fried cake and eat it too.

This is going to be easier than opening a box and adding the wet ingredients that you would find with the gluten filled box you would get out of a store.

Here is what you will need.
A bowl - I use a normal soup bowl.
1 Banana - A little over-ripe works best.
2 Eggs - We use eggs from the farm that are not full of the crap that major farms pump into their chickens for profit.
1/2 cup of gluten free oats. Yes, for those of you that don't know, some companies put extra stuff in oats to addict you, and yes gluten is addictive. Don't believe me? Go gluten free and see how you react. I know your saying "There is no way I could do that." Isn't that addiction? Just sayin'. Let's get back on track here. I know I'm babbling.

I use my small Ninja blender to grind up the oats into a fine powder, we are making a flour-type substance here. You can use a food processor, but I just love how the Ninja grinds thing much faster.

Peel your banana and add the 2 eggs to the bowl. I use a potato masher to mash the bananas and mix the eggs. I have tried this in the Ninja and a food processor as well, but I get better results with the potato masher. It's a personal preference. Once everything is mixed, you will have a thin batter, and mix that oats in that we ground earlier. This will thicken that batter perfectly.

That's it. I am a griddle guy when it comes to making pancakes, so I can pour six small pancakes with this recipe and share them with the Brookie for a fast morning breakfast. You can top with whatever your favorite topping is. I like peanut butter with a small swirl of organic maple syrup, and the Brookie loves blueberries and yogurt on hers.

Prep time: 3 minutes
Cook time: 7 minutes

All times rely on you don't have kids running around or wanting to help. We all know how it is.

Enjoy these great and easy pancakes. These are the closest to the old, gluten filled, beasts that I used to eat, and I have been very satisfied. The Brookie loved them too. I've seen this 3 year-old throw down 4-5 of these with eggs and asked for more.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Outside Lights for Hailey

It's every parents worst nightmare. Their child is missing. I know this happens a lot in this country, but this time it was close to home. A 10 year old girl was taken off the streets in broad daylight. There were witnesses that chased the suspect down the street and one witness took after the suspect in his car, but lost the suspect while going through rush hour traffic. 

Hailey was walking along the street when a man in a truck called her over, talked to her, then grabbed her and put her in the truck, then drove away. Hailey's mother told police that she has no idea who the man was. That is when I noticed the locals were blowing up FaceBook with missing child alerts, but no Amber Alert has been triggered. It was almost two hours later that the Amber Alert was released and our phones started going crazy with what I think, is the most annoying noise ever. This got me thinking of what the protocol is for an Amber Alert. There has to be an operating procedure for an actual Amber Alert to be activated. There has to be a protocol for getting all the information needed to make sure this is not a false alarm, and not just a joint custody dispute. Is the child really in danger, or is a parent just mad at the other parent?

This brings up a great point that how long can this process take? This time, it took two hours to gather the information and it was too late for this little girl. The damage had already been done, and my heart breaks thinking of what really happened to Hailey.

Here is what the national Amber Alert guidelines state: (from
Every successful AMBER plan contains clearly defined activation criteria. The following guidance is designed to achieve a uniform, interoperable network of plans across the country, and to minimize potentially deadly delays because of confusion among varying jurisdictions. The following are criteria recommendations:

Law Enforcement Confirms an Abduction

AMBER plans require law enforcement to confirm an abduction prior to issuing an alert. This is essential when determining the level of risk to the child. Clearly, stranger abductions are the most dangerous for children and thus are primary to the mission of an AMBER Alert. To allow activations in the absence of significant information that an abduction has occurred could lead to abuse of the system and ultimately weaken its effectiveness. At the same time, each case must be appraised on its own merits and a judgment call made quickly. Law enforcement must understand that a “best judgment” approach, based on the evidence, is appropriate and necessary.

Risk of Serious Bodily Injury or Death

Plans require a child be at risk for serious bodily harm or death before an alert can be issued. This element is clearly related to law enforcement’s recognition that stranger abductions represent the greatest danger to children. The need for timely, accurate information based on strict and clearly understood criteria is critical, again keeping in mind the “best judgment” approach.

Sufficient Descriptive Information

For an AMBER Alert to be effective in recovering a missing child, the law enforcement agency must have enough information to believe that an immediate broadcast to the public will enhance the efforts of law enforcement to locate the child and apprehend the suspect. This element requires as much descriptive information as possible about the abducted child and the abduction, as well as descriptive information about the suspect and the suspect’s vehicle. Issuing alerts in the absence of significant information that an abduction has occurred could lead to abuse of the system and ultimately weaken its effectiveness.

Age of Child

Every state adopt the “17 years of age or younger” standard; or, at a minimum, agree to honor the request of any other state to issue an AMBER Alert, even if the case does not meet the responding state’s age criterion, as long as it meets the age criterion of the requesting state. Most AMBER plans call for activation of the alert for children under a certain age. The problem is that age can vary---some plans specify 10, some 12, some 14, 15, and 16. Differences in age requirements create confusion when an activation requires multiple alerts across states and jurisdictions. Overuse of the AMBER Alert system will undermine its effectiveness as a tool for recovering abducted children.

NCIC Data Entry

Immediately enter AMBER Alert data into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.  Text information describing the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the child should be entered, and the case flagged as a Child Abduction. Many plans do not mandate entry of the data into NCIC, but this omission undermines the entire mission of the AMBER Alert initiative. The notation on the entry should be sufficient to explain the circumstances of the disappearance of the child. Entry of the alert data into NCIC expands the search for an abducted child from the local, state, or regional level to the national. This is a critical element of any effective AMBER Alert plan.

Here it is. There are crazy people all around the world. There are sick people that do twisted things and there is not much we can to to stop it. The key is education. I am in no way blaming the parents or the school system for not educating children about talking with people they do not know. I do not blame the Amber Alert system either. I blame the suspect, which has been caught and charged accordingly. Am I mad? Yes! Very angry, but anger gets us nowhere. The suspect will get what's coming to him and it is such a shame that this happened.

There is a FaceBook page that people all around the world have heard about this nightmare and are leaving porch lights on for Hailey. I am drawn to this community and I will be keeping mine on over the next week. Here is the link to anyone that wants to share and join in on the memorial to this little girl:

Over the next week I will be posting information on child safety and I would urge everyone to do their own research. It could have been anyone's child. It could have been my child and that scares the crap out of me. Feel free to follow me at and I can be found on Twitter as well @dadsdenjames.

Friday, February 14, 2014

I Hate Water in the Floor

We all have them, right? Those things that make us want to scream in frustration, because they are just so... ANNOYING!!

Here are some of my pet peeves...tell me I'm not alone.

- Water in the bathroom floor. I would rather walk across broken glass than on water in the floor...maybe not literally, but just about. I have to admit that little footprints can be cute when they are made by a two year old. But adult "puddles" are NOT allowed. It drives me nuts.

I know, I'm horrible, but those little old ladies that stand in the line at a store and watch every. single. item. being scanned to make sure the price is correct. THEN they start digging in the duffel bag they call their purse for their checkbook. THEN they search for 5 minutes looking for a pen, and refusing to use the cashier's pen because "I know it's in here somewhere!" THEN they write the check, and insist on writing out every little piece of it, because they don't trust that electronic machine that prints information on the checks. They really get under my skin. Get your act together ladies...You're making a 3 minute process last a decade. 

- Smacking while chewing... I want to punch you in the face when I see that. Come on, are you a caveman?? Close your mouth and stop growling... It's not that good. And if it is, eat it in private.

Your turn. What makes you want to pull your hair out?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Gluten Free YUMMMM...

We are a gluten free family. We do not eat anything with wheat products or gluten in it. This is possibly the hardest thing to do while growing up in a meat, bread, and potatoes generation. This all started when The Wife kept getting sick after eating. After a massive amount of research she cut out gluten for a couple of weeks and she started to feel great. I did what any man would do at that point. I will cut gluten out of my diet as well, because who am I to eat all of this great stuff in front of her and The Brookie while they can not have it. I didn't think I had a reaction to gluten, but when I cut it out of my diet I started feeling different. I used to be tired all of the time and I had a lot of joint pain that I blamed on the military years.
One of the biggest things that I missed the most was a big, super awesome burger. It's an American staple for the summertime. Light the grill and put meat on it. It almost seems too easy, but what about the bun? I have found my new best friend. It's a restaurant called "Red Robin"! We were having trouble finding a good place to eat out that had gluten free options, so on a random thought I called the Red Robin Burgers in Springfield, MO. They have gluten free options! As I looked at The Wife like a kid on Christmas morning.
We have gone there a few times and the staff is amazing! They have a full knowledge of allergies and are very helpful. Everyone at the Springfield, MO location are the best crew I have seen at a restaurant that are all on the same page. From start to finish I am happy to say that I have made this my go-to place every time we go into the city. The gluten free buns that are used in Springfield are Rich's brand, but I don't know if that varies by location. I have bought I lot of gluten free buns, but Rich's are the best yet. For those of you that have the question about the seasonings or equipment, the kitchen staff will not season anything if the seasoning has gluten in it and there is separate equipment or it is cleaned thoroughly before anything is prepared for an allergy. None of us have been cross contaminated in the many trips that we have made to what I would have to say is one of the best places to eat in Springfield, MO. Red Robin has a lifetime customer.
This is the first in a series that I will come back to about gluten free restaurants in Springfield and most of these places are nation wide, so give them a chance. There ARE options at most chain restaurants for gluten free eating.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I Suck at Video Games

I used to be awesome at all video games. I would go to the local mom and pop shop and spend countless quarters in arcade games while waiting on food. High scores all around and the happy dance ensued. I still do the happy dance, but only when something awesome happens and I am not as limber as I used to be. 15 years later and here I am. 34 years old and still playing video games. I will throw down on some Halo and realize something. I had 5 kills and 45 deaths. That's odd, I don't remember dying that much and I know I killed more people than that. There must be a glitch. I can here The Wife's eyes rolling from here and I didn't say anything to her.
GameStop had some great deals on Black Friday, so we did what any other great set of parents would do. We got The Brookie (2) out of bed at midnight, grabbed the baby carrier, and took off to GameStop. We got Just Dance 2014 for $15 bucks! I have played Just Dance at family functions for years. This will be great.
The first few songs there was some tight competition going on in the house. The Wife and I were always close and split many songs. The smack talk started and there may or may not have been some pushing and shoving.
Enter the Dragon. The Brookie wanted to play, so we set her up so the game system would see here movements. The next song came on and my heart sank. The Brookie was moving around and all I saw was "Perfect! Perfect! Perfect!" I guess her size and movements matched perfectly. I guess it's another glitch. I now have to work hard to stay up with a 2 year old's score. She tells on me when I push her over to get ahead, so that is out of the question. The Wife frowns on that and tells me something about cheating to beat a toddler.
Video games have come a long way over the years and I love to play old and new games. The only thing is that I have lost my mojo. I can not play like I used to, or maybe I was never good at them in the first place. I choose I'm awesome and the games suck these days.

I am a Present Day Dad

We have evolved. Men have evolved into family men that play hard with our children. We change diapers, help clean the house, do the dishes, the list goes on and on. I am completely random. I work a highly demanding job (I am the IT department) that keeps me busy sometimes all hours of the night. I know I am busy, but I still take time for family. My life is my kids and I am here to talk about them and life in general. 

This is going to be a very random blog about my life and what is on my mind. There is not a theme and I will not be writing gold plated editorials. I write like I think. I write like I am standing right in front of you. Welcome to my world. My posts will be what is on my mind. Yes, it will be totally random, but life is random and this post is boring me. 

I think that is enough serious talk for right now. Stay tuned for some down to Earth thoughts about parenting and being a Dad. I will be throwing some random tech thoughts as well. Don't forget to have fun and stay safe.