Category Archives: Abby

When I Grow Up…

I’m a new parent. Well, I’m a fairly new parent. I’m on my third year as a dad to three little girls. And when it comes to parenting, three years may as well be three weeks, in my opinion. Especially in a household of only girls. Every day is a new day, with new experiences.

Prior to three years ago, my life was mostly simple. I got up early and went to work. I worked late, and then I came home to my old Australian Shepherd, ate dinner, would have a few glasses of scotch and then head to bed, only to wake up and repeat the whole routine again the next day.

Me

But then I met this great gal, and she had a couple of pretty daughters. I fell in love with all three of them, and suddenly my whole neatly kempt, organized existence was turned on its head. Abby is our oldest at 14, Emma is the middle child at 10 years old, and then just to be sure that my wife April and I turned gray well before our time, we added another little girl to the mix about 18 months ago and we named her Gracee June. My life is now such a stark contrast to the life I had before. But in a very good way.

Being a parent is the most rewarding, exhausting, hilarious, exasperating and wonderful experience that I could have ever imagined. And it’s also terrifying. Being responsible for three little humans is daunting; for their safety, for their education, for their health, for their emotions. Helping to encourage them and guide them in the right directions, not to mention the financial responsibilities that go along with them, is often enough to bring a man to his knees. But still, the rewards far outweigh the stress and worry that goes along with them by leaps and bounds.

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One thing that I did not anticipate when becoming a father was the amount of questions that I would be asked on a daily basis. Oh my gosh, you guys. The questions…they just never stop. THEY NEVER STOP. Most of the questions are just simple questions that require one word answers. “Stoney, what’s your favorite food?” “Stoney, what’s your favorite color?” “Stoney, do you like milk?” These questions are easy to answer, and frankly, there is really no ‘wrong’ answer to them.

However, sometimes the questions become more difficult and have much more serious consequences if not answered correctly. I was asked one of those questions earlier this week. At first glance, this question doesn’t seem too scary. Emma simply asked, “Stoney, what do you think I should be when I grow up?” That seems like an innocent enough question, I suppose. Right? But suddenly, I picture Emma as an adult. I picture her in business suit. Or wearing scrubs. I picture her having children of her own, a career, a husband. And then suddenly, this small piece of advice that I am giving her takes on a whole new meaning. Because she listens to my advice. She trusts me. She takes anything I say to be the truth. Talk about pressure! What if I’m wrong? What if I steer her in the wrong direction?

Ice skating

As I am sitting there with all of this running through my mind, Abby decides to pipe up as well, “Yeah, what do you think I should do when I get out of school, Stoney?” Oh good grief…now they are both looking at me with these expectant stares, awaiting my response. First, I ask Emma, “Well, what do you want to do, Emma? What would you enjoy?” After thinking for just a moment, she blurts out “an animal doctor!” I smile at her, and say truthfully “You would make an EXCELLENT veterinarian.” But then she says, “But I don’t know if I get good enough grades to be one of those. I think you have to be real smart.” My quick reply was, “Of course you’re smart enough.” She quickly rebounded with “or, maybe I’ll just be a Mall Cop. Cuz they get to drive around on those cool scooters and segways.” There’s the Emma that I expected to hear. As much as the mall needs quality security personnel, I am going to urge to her follow the veterinarian field instead, I think.

The conversation then quickly took a different turn, as conversations often do in this house, and we never really finished what we were talking about that night. But I haven’t stopped thinking about it. It’s been very prevalent on my mind, because I want to say the right things to them and give them advice that will stay with them all of their lives. So I think back to my parents when I was growing up. How would they have answered these questions? Thinking back on this, I cannot think of a single time that my parents ever discouraged me from anything in my whole life. I am a confident adult, because they constantly encouraged me as a child. Sure, I failed at certain things growing up, but I was taught to learn from those failures, to get back up, dust myself off and try again. But because they believed in me, I believed in myself and that helped me to succeed more often than I failed.

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It was then that I realized that I don’t actually remember any specific earth-shattering pieces of advice that my parents gave me. I can’t tell you exactly what they may have said to me when I lost, or even when I won or did well. But I do know that unequivocally, they believed in me. And that made all of the difference in the world to who I became as an adult. It’s not about what they said, but about how they made me feel, and how they treated me.

So to my girls, the most important thing I can ever say to you is this: I may not always say the right things. I may stutter and stammer, searching for the right words. I may even say the complete wrong thing. But always know this; I believe in you. Your mom believes in you. We will always believe in you with all of our hearts. You are smart, funny, thoughtful, kind and generous. Abby, you are responsible, mature and creative. Emma, you are tenacious, eccentric and a true original. Gracee, we don’t know yet what all your strengths are, but we already know that you have a fire that burns bright inside of you.

Girls

You are all exactly what your mother and I want you to be. And you can be ANYTHING you want to be when you grow up. ANYTHING. There is nothing stopping you from becoming the person that you want to be as an adult. Nothing except for the limitations that you put on yourself.

Believe in yourself, girls. Because I believe in you.

Happy Anniversary, girls

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I am proudly from Murphy, Oklahoma. Population 98…..so it says on the sign as you came into “town”, which was really nothing more than the family ranch, and about 10 or 15 houses in a small neighborhood. We always said “Population 98 includes all the dogs and horses, too”. Needless to say, we were a small and closely knit community. Most of us were family.

 
So, about 24 years ago, this little brunette girl moved into a house just down the road from our place, there. She was a cute little girl. She actually looked and acted a great deal like my, now 9 yr old daughter, Emma. She was spunky and curious, and as luck would have it, she had a MAD crush on yours truly. She was a few years younger than me, and I thought of her as a “little girl”. Even once I got into high school, even though it was only two years, I still felt like she was just a bit too young for me. This still makes her mad to this day. You see, that “little girl’s” name was April. And she would, undoubtedly, turn out to be the most persistent person that I’ve ever met.

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She moved away from our little town as a teenager, and I only saw her one more time in 14 years, at our mutual friends wedding. We both moved on; she made a few babies and started a few businesses, and I worked on carving out a career. We made plenty of bad decisions, and did some things, looking back, that were ridiculous, and that we wish we could take back.

 
But I guess life has a way of righting the ship, so to speak. Even though I’d done so many things wrong, and made so many wrong turns….I guess God had decided that I’d had enough, and he sent me just what I needed, even though I didn’t know then, what that was. But just to show that he still had an awesome sense of humor, he didn’t just give me one lady, or even two ladies. Nope. He gave me 3 ladies. And then, he put a little cherry on top, and we named her Gracee June. Four ladies. All mine. And then he laughed and laughed and laughed.

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I really cant express how thankful I am for them. These four amazing girls gave me another chance to find the beautiful things in life….things that I’ve never had before. They don’t care about the things I’ve done wrong, and the bad decisions I made in the past. They just care about today. They give me their best, and I give them mine. And it’s the greatest thing that I could’ve ever hoped to have.

 
Today we celebrate our 1st anniversary. Not just an anniversary of our marriage, but also an anniversary of our family. In some ways, the year seems like it’s flown by. In other ways, it seems like an eternity (pregnancy). And I wouldn’t change a single second. All the bad stuff before this was worth it, even though it may not have seemed like it at the time. Sure, it would’ve been nice if God had said, “hey, hang in there, cuz someday, I’m gonna make everything make sense”. But I guess maybe I wouldn’t have learned what I needed to learn or know what I needed to know.

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So what have I learned, and what do I know??? Very, very little. But I DO know, that I’ve found my place….and I looked for that for a VERY long time. So I figure as long as I’m in the right place with these four gals, that nothing else really matters. The rest will take care of itself. I’ve learned that “things” are unimportant, and money, even though its nice to have, won’t fill your heart up the way it does when you get to lay down beside your best friend every night, or when an 11 year old little girl tells you “pineapple” for the very first time. Those are the things that matter. Those are the things you take with you. Those are the things that give you peace.

So I need to thank April Stamper, and Abby, Emma and Gracee, for taking the time each day, to teach me what life is really all about. Happy Anniversary, girls. I love you, very much. And…pineapple.
Stoney

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Happy birthday, TDD!

So, one year ago today, something crazy happened. I finally gave in to April’s constant nagging, along with some other friends, that thought that I should start a ‘dad blog’.

I was skeptical. First, I didn’t have any idea how to “blog”. I have written all of my life…ever since I can remember. But it was mostly just for me. I’d write poems, stories, or just journal my days. I’d buy Moleskine notebooks at Barnes & Noble in packs of 3, and I’d fill them up with gibberish. Anything and everything I could think to write, I wrote down. And then, when I’d get a pretty impressive collection together, I’d put them all in a box, walk outside to my burn pile, and light them on fire.

Hey, most of what was in there wasn’t good enough for anyone else to read, and what was good enough, I didn’t really want anyone reading it. Writing is a way for me to express myself. In person, I’m boisterous, loud (probably a little too loud), and I joke about almost everything. Writing is a way for me to let out a different side of me, that I may not show you in person. A softer side, I guess.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I let that boisterous side run wild in my writing quite a bit, too. But I think that the side of me that you see in my writing is probably the most honest picture of who I really am. When I’m writing, all of my walls come down. It’s just me and the paper, or the iPhone these days, and my thoughts.

However, there’s a big difference between my writing now, and my writing 5 years ago. I used to write, mostly, because I was sad, or lonely. I drank too much, I worked too much. I was a successful guy, but was truly lost. I had no direction, except to try and make more money. But NOW, I write for nearly the exact opposite reasons. Now. I write everyday about the funny things, the cute things, the happy things that happen in my life. I write about the overwhelmingness (I don’t think that’s a word) of learning to be a dad. A daddy. A father.

Secondly, I was scared that no one would read the page. And I deplore failure. I didn’t want to put myself out there, open up about myself, my family and our life, and for no one to care, for no one to read about it. I’m a very, very goal oriented person. So the thought of starting a page, opening up, and then not succeeding scared me. But alas, just like in most cases, April wanted me to do something….so I did it.

So, I wrote my first blog. It was a little rough around the edges. A little bit raw, looking back and reading it now. But it was the story of the first time I met the girls (Abby and Emma). And people loved it. I was so excited! And then on the FIRST day, I had 500 followers. FIVE HUNDRED! I was ecstatic. And frankly, I’ve never looked back.

Well, a lot has happened in a year. Look at us all, now! Over 30,000 of you follow this page about my little family. The page has a total reach of between 750k-1.2Mil people each month. And that’s freaking insane.

I am very proud of TDD. I’m proud of my family, that I unabashedly show off to you every day. I’m proud of the community that we have built here, and the goodwill that we have been able to share. Actually, that’s what I’m most proud of, well, after my family of course…that somehow, with my writing goofy stories, that we have been able to use it for the good of others. That we were able to give a Christmas to families that would not have had one, otherwise. That we’ve raised money for people with cancer, or ALS. That we’ve been able to send thousands of prayers and well wishes, from all around the world, to some boys that were hurt in a car wreck. Those are the things that I love. In all, TDD has been able to gather donations totaling nearly $15,000. That makes my heart swell. That brings a smile to my face, and nearly, a tear to my eye.

So, let’s look back at what we’ve done on the blog this year, shall we?
• We were attacked by a dick llama
• I was a naked ninja in my bathroom
• I drank some rotten champagne that had turned into a douche
• We had a Lemonade Stand
• My best friend, Doc, died after 14 years of being my loyal companion
• Gracee took a dump in the sink
• Gracee puked in my mouth
• Gracee took a dump in the floor
• Gracee took a dump on a stuffed wienie dog
• Gracee melted our hearts with her funny faces
• Emma melted our hearts with her crazy, off the wall, completely free spirited thinking and her hilarious words
• Abby melted our hearts with her awesome dry sense of humor
• Abby became a beautiful young lady, at some point, but I’m not sure when
• I showed you a picture of me when I was fat and wearing a cocktail dress
• I talked to you about the sometimes NOT so fun parts of pregnancy
• I taught you new curse words and derogatory names to call stupid people, that you’d never heard before, like “whistle-dick”
• I told you about how toddlers were like drunk people
• I told you about how I dressed Emma in only pantyhose and sent her to school in them
• I told you about Gracee’s first words, her first steps, and her first nose dive and face plant off the porch
• I told you about my siblings, my grandparents, my mom and dad, and my best friends

And the list could go on for a really long damn time. Because I’ve written, a lot. And I’m going to write a lot more. Because you are here, and you like to read it. I don’t do this page for money. On the contrary….it COSTS me money. I do it because I love it. Period.

I’m so glad you’re here. Thanks for liking the page, for sharing the page, and for helping me to promote the page. You guys are the best.

So, from my family to yours, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all of the TDD family!

Stone, April, Abby, Emma, and Gracee
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