🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
BTE and Div 💍
Brother Greetings 👨👩👦👦
Travel Day ✈️
The morning after Boy The Elder was born, I awoke in the hospital to his sweet cooing and his momma’s deep-sleep breathing. Scooping him up carefully and holding him nervously, I sat in a rocking chair in the pre-dawn darkness and talked to my son as we waited for the sun to rise.
I don’t remember the exact words, but I remember telling him how thankful I was that he was here safely, that I promised to try my best to be the best daddy he could possibly imagine. By the time Wifey Poo awoke, he and I pretty much had the world figured out.
Saturday, I watched from about 20 feet away as BTE got down on one knee and asked his girlfriend of three years for her hand in marriage. I’m not sure how dads are supposed to feel in a moment like that, but I was awash in this mishmash of emotions as I watched Div, an amazing girl who is very, very good for my son, accept his proposal.
BTE has every reason to not be too fond of me. He’s seen and heard a lot in his life as I’ve dealt with the various obstacles on my path. I wish I could say that I lived up to my promise to be the best daddy he could possibly have, but he knows and I know that I haven’t. Yet there we were Saturday, celebrating this amazing occasion as a family.
I don’t remember the specific day on which I realized BTE was headed toward dating Div, but I do remember the situation. I had fallen asleep on the couch and was hauling my still half-asleep butt upstairs and to an actual bed at about 2 a.m. when I heard BTE’s voice from his bedroom. He was still in high school, and it was now an early Saturday morning.
I paused on the stairway landing and listened, my interest piqued by the fact that I heard a female voice responding to whatever enlightening thing BTE had to say at 2 a.m. There wasn’t a thought in my mind that BTE had an actual girl up in his room, though perhaps — considering he’s my son — the idea should have at least crossed my mind. I just figured he was talking to one of the people he know from his job at Chick-fil-A or his internship at church.
The next morning, I asked him about it. “Oh, that was just Div.”
Just Div? No one talks to “Just” anyone at 2 a.m. Certainly not a member of the opposite sex.
The next night, the same thing happened. I fell asleep on the couch (bad habit. I’ve broken it) and hauled my still half-asleep butt up to bed, and the same two voices welcomed me to the new floor. The morning after that, I told Wifey Poo, “Our boy is on the way to having a girlfriend.”
About a month later, it became official. As I said, no one talks to “just” anyone at 2 a.m., and certainly no one talks to “just” anyone regularly at 2 a.m.
I am beyond blessed that BTE included me not only in the big moment Saturday but in the planning that led to that moment. It was only about two months ago that BTE called me from Mizzou to talk to me about engagement ring shopping. I knew this moment was coming. He’d been dropping hints that things were headed that direction for a few months.
And honestly? I was so touched by the fact that he was reaching out to me … me, his old man … for advice, I cried when I got off the phone. Yes, I know I do that a lot. That he still thinks highly enough of me to include me in such an important event is something I will forever count as one of the biggest blessings in my life.
Shortly after the engagement ring talk, BTE came home from Mizzou for a weekend. He and I had been kicking around ideas for his engagement surprise. He wanted to do something special, something memorable, and he told me he had mad respect for how I asked his momma to marry me.
On that day, I created a scavenger hunt all across Des Moines, leading soon-to-be Wifey Poo from place to place to locations of memories of our dating life. At each stop, there was another clue to send her to a new location. Finally, those clues led a friend of soon-to-be Wifey Poo’s to drive her blindfolded to parts unknown to her. There, she stood blindfolded while I drove up. When the blindfold was taken off, she realized she was at the Roseman Bridge in Winterset, Iowa, and that her boyfriend was walking toward her. I put down a handkerchief on the dusty ground, got down on one knee and told her that this type of certainty comes but once in a lifetime. We were married a year and a half later.
Back to last month. After kicking ideas around for a while, BTE and I drove down to the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis. We were hunting for the perfect spot there for him to ask Div for her hand in marriage. “Dad, you’re the creative one. Help me,” he said.
We walked around, looking for the perfect spot, and then we saw the lake. It was beautiful and perfect, ringed by a walking path.
BTE’s front for this whole thing was that his really good friend Guy, who is co-owner of a marketing company along with his sister and who is a great photographer, would be taking fall pictures of Div and BTE. The plan was made. BTE and Div would break off from Guy and his sister and take a stroll around the lake. At different points, there would be gifts with memories of their three-year relationship. It would end up at a nice, private place where Guy and his sister would be waiting to capture the official moment.
And so it was that Wifey Poo, Boy The Younger and I were a part of BTE’s big day Saturday. We were the advance team, making sure the final spot where he would ask for her hand in marriage was set up and beautiful and ensuring that the gifts and notes were in the right places at the right time so they’d be there for Div to discover.
In the summer of 2024, there is going to be a wedding in this family. The Core Four is going to become … something more. Div is an amazing girl and I already consider her my daughter. She and I have many similarities. We’re feelers, emotional and have our flighty moments. She and BTE are amazing for each other. I said early on in their relationship how much the two of them remind me of two other crazy kids who fell in love and ultimately got engaged young (Wifey Poo and I were early in our senior years in college) and married young (Wifey Poo and I were both 22). I cannot be happier to see that my son, the little baby boy whom I held on my lap that first morning of his life, has found his Person. That’s a rare thing. That’s a blessing. They both know it.
Who knows what the world has waiting for them? Wifey Poo and I would never have believed the challenges we’d face as a couple, and I’m quite sure BTE and Div are just as naive as we were. What I’m quite sure of, though, from having seen their relationship evolve, from watching how it’s grown, from witnessing how they survived separation through a pandemic and as BTE went off to Mizzou for a year while Div took advantage of free community college back home, is that there is much joy ahead of them. They are good together.
And I am blessed to have a part of their big day.
It preparation for Saturday’s big events, BTE arrived home Friday night. BTY was on the computer in another room. BTE and I hugged, talked and then BTE headed back toward the bathroom, past where BTY was seated.
BTE: “What’s up, Dummy?”
BTY: “What up, Stupid?”
The love these two boys have for each other makes me so, so happy. Only two brothers who truly love each other greet each other like this. BTE was a little unsure of what life would be like when Wifey Poo and I told him we were having another child. The day after BTY was born, some relatives brought BTE, then seven, to the hospital to meet this new creation.
He walked into the room apprehensively. Then he saw his baby brother, plentiful hair sticking up all over the place, snuggly wrapped like a baby burrito. BTE sat down, and we placed BTY in his lap.
And that was it. All resistance BTE might have felt faded away. There was this look that said, “Yeah, you and I might have some problems, but you are as much my responsibility as you are Mom and Dad’s, so I got you, bro. I got you.”
And he has. Capped off by literally saving his life once with the Heimlich Maneuver, BTE has been an amazing big brother to BTY.
Which leads to greetings like what I heard Friday night being something special, something that made me smile.
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Alone Time, Girl Time 👩👧Picture Hanger🔨What Amazon Reveals 🚚 Wifey Poo and I found ourselves in an interesting position at home today for a little bit: Alone. Boy The Elder took off for Six Flags with his buds, and Boy The Younger left with a friend and his family (Chicken Owner,…Keep reading
Sunday was a travel day. Wifey Poo dropped me off this morning at Terminal 2 of Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, where I grabbed a flight along with about a dozen work colleagues to Ft. Lauderdale for a Monday through Thursday conference.
It’s been a minute since I’ve flown. I think the last time I was on an airplane was April 2019, to Savannah, Ga. Some things haven’t changed. We’re still taking our shoes off and being generally crabby, it seems. We’re still cramming impossible numbers of people into flying metal tubes. We’re still doing the same “put your mask on yourself before helping your child” thing.
The flight was fine. Descending into Ft. Lauderdale, you realize exactly how Florida is basically constructed on a swamp. I have a presentation to give Thursday morning. It’s on digital marketing. Until then, I’ll be doing random marketing things to help other presenters, and I hope to get some chill time to just sit on the beach and smoke a cigar.
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Who’s going to give my presentation Thursday if I’m dead?
- Gotta be there for BTE’s wedding.
- Chicken wings.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Death Cometh Sooner 💀Twitter Security 🔓Game Over 🌑 Average life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2020 by almost two years in 2020, the biggest decline since World War II. Every state and the District of Columbia saw a drop. Guess it was a little bit more than that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Worm brain 🧠Chicken Big Mac 🐔Eye Twitch 👁️ Caenorhabditis elegans is probably too elegant of a name for something that is really just a disgusting little worm about a millimeter long and most easily found in rotting fruit. It is more commonly known as a lab roundworm and was the first…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Agliata Homeschool Academy 🚌Hypnosis 😳Sunburn 🌞🔥 When you tell people you homeschool your children, you typically receive one of three responses: An enthusiastic: “Oh, that’s so cool!” An I’d-rather-be-dipped-in-acid: “Oh wow! I could never do that!” A you’re-one-of-those-weirdos: “Oh… really… homeschooling, huh?” The percentage for each has changed in the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Indycar 🏎️Best Friends 😎Baseball Irony ⚾ There are certain people who look at car racing as an endless series of left turns. These people are idiots on whom nuance is lost. Boy The Elder and I crossed the border yesterday late-morning to head just past the fine city of East St.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Swine Inflation 🐖Swamp Thing 🎥Phone Calls 📱 Life was different when I went to college in Iowa after growing up in suburban New York City. This isn’t to suggest I was a city kid. I wasn’t. The city was a place we went to a few times a year, and where…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Triple-Threat 🖥️🖥️🖥️Tasmanian Tiger 🐅Video Work 📹 Humans were not meant to stare at laptop screens. At least, humans of a certain age were not meant to stare at laptop screens. I say this after successfully lobbying for a second monitor at work, which effectively turned my laptop screen into a third…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Look Before Brewing ☕Hoop Construction 🏀Nuclear War ☢️ If you’d like an indication of how much of a Monday yesterday was for me, know that I ended up with an orange in my coffee. Well, to be fair, it wasn’t a full-blown orange. It was something called a Cutie, which is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Date 🪦Nature Walk🌳Bulldog Bath 🐶 If you have a date walking around a cemetery, you’re either weird or goth, and neither Wifey Poo nor I were wearing black today, which I guess tells you all you need to know about us. Old cemeteries are something of a fascination for us,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩So Long, Kid 👨👦Steak Celebration🥩Chip & Joanna 🪚 Regular readers of my drivel know that I’m kind of an emotional guy, which is like saying that Jack kind of could have fit on the spacious floating door with Rose in Titanic. So it should come as no surprise when I say…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cash 4 IRS 💰Cash 4 Workers 💸Sound of Silence 🤫 Be extra careful on your taxes this year. The IRS is expected to receive nearly $80 billion when The Inflation Reduction Act eventually becomes law, and its plan is to hire 87,000 full-time workers. More than half of the $80 billion…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Spoon Nose 🥄👃🏻Dump Truck 🚚Twitter Traitor 🐦 Every night, I strap a mask attached to a long hose to my face so I don’t die. Not satisfied with looking kinda like an idiot, I then wrap a flexible Velco-enabled strap around my chin and fasten it on top of my bald…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Thanks, Yankees ⚾Kitchen Moment 👩🍳McDonald’s Glasses 🥛 Wifey Poo and I were recent college graduates and months away from becoming Married Folk when our relationship nearly faced its greatest test. The New York Yankees were rolling toward their first World Series appearance since I played with Matchbox Cars, and the St.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mammoth Dilemma🦣Zombie Pigs🧟🐖Stadium Pals⚾ Finding the fossilized remains of a Wooly Mammoth in New Mexico isn’t exactly news. It seems the furry elephants loved to hang out in the land so frequently visited by aliens. What is news is the condition of the fossils from the latest find. Some of the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ankle Shot 🦶🏻Teamwork 🤝🏽Talkspace Stupidity 🤪 Over the years, I’ve played catch with Boy The Younger dozens and dozens of times. From those early days of him aimlessly flinging an oversized soft thing a few feet forward, to now when he’s zipping a real baseball the regulation distance from a pitching…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Creative Desert 🎨So Long, Supra 🏎️Taco Truck 🌮 I have absolutely nothing today. On most days — even the really, really bad days — I can push out something creatively worthwhile. A blog post. A flyer. A video. Not today. Today I have jack shit. This is professionally problematic, considering my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hungry=Stupid 😋Strategic Planning 📅Bed Sizes 🛏️ Hunger is a strong motivator. This, most of us know. Yet I witnessed this truth at a whole new level this weekend. Wifey Poo and I traveled up to Hannibal, Missourah, for a few days. Hannibal, for you uncultured folks, is the hometown of Mark…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Change 🌀Me, Different 😷Bad Baseball ⚾ I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Most everything in humanity is governed by two intertwined forces. Supply and demand. Scarcity. Whether its the economy or human emotions, everything about us is geared toward responding to these two things. For example, when there…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double Standards 🦅Birthday Deals 🎁Video Guy 📹 The United States has a problem with hypocrisy. Don’t worry, though; it’s nothing new. It just happens to be glaringly apparent right now. Our revered Founding Fathers got things off on a really bad foot when they penned the lofty statement that all men…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Revolution 🌍Rain 🌧️Refund 💰 By this time tomorrow, I will have completed 48 trips around the sun. Or is it 47 and I’ll be starting my 48th? Whatever. I’ll be 48 years old tomorrow. I have to admit, I’m feeling kinda blah about it. Looking back, this past revolution was busy…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bitchy Mother Nature 🌧️⚡Tech Woes 🖥️Maturation 👦 Overnight storms made for a restless night, as waves of rain and thunder rolled through our section of Missourah. Flash flood warnings pinged my phone sometime in the middle of the night, and by the time I left for my drive to work, eastbound…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Rollercoasters 🎢Sad Puppy 🐶News Roundup 🤖 It’s possible to think a lot of thoughts while plummeting 90 feet at a 90-degree angle while staring up at the sun. This I learned yesterday while at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missourah, with the Core Four, Div, Wifey Poo’s baby sister and baby…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Date Day 🤟🏽Prison Justice 👊Universe Questions 🚀 Wifey Poo and I ended up having more than 12 hours to ourselves yesterday here in the Midwest Redneck Mecca of Branson, Missourah. Boys The Elder and Younger, along with BTE’s lovely girlfriend of nearly three years, and Wifey Poo’s baby sister and family…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩WFH WTF? 🧑💼Rebel Ball ⚾Psych Myth 🧠 As a writer/columnist/blogger/thought-spewer, I always enjoy when I get something out there before anyone else. I dug that when I was a newspaper journalist, and I dig it now. That’s why I’m happy to be hearing national publications and sites like Business Insider starting…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fahrenheit 🌡️Blindingly White ⬜Alone Time 👴 Muricah is very much a reactionary nation. Much of what we do and who we are is because we were pissed off about the way someone else did things. Monarchy? We’ll have a democracy, thank you very much. The metric system? We’ll measure stuff our…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Tryouts ⚾BBQ Sauce🍖TMNT🐢 There is cause for celebration in the Core Four: Boy The Younger has been drafted. Sadly, we’re not talking about the ongoing Major League Baseball draft. Rather, we’re talking about the sick modern world of Little League baseball. Not to get too “Get off my lawn!” on you,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Growth 💗Dreams 💤Redecorating 🛋️ There are moments in a dad’s life in which he can see the growth of his sons quite clearly. Sometimes that growth is physical. One day, Boy The Elder was a short, stocky little boy and then, boom, he came home from his high school job at…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Burn Pit🔥Alaska Ass🍑Nose Hair🐽 Having a plan is a far different thing from having a plan work out. I’m really good at the former, yet the latter seems to be extremely elusive. Yesterday, my plan was to take the huge pile of chopped-down cedar-tree limbs that have been in my backyard…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Jewel💎First Kiss💋Slow Ahead🐢 Wifey Poo and I are headed out into the sweltering hell that is Missourah this evening to see the woman who, should she knock on my door and say “let’s go,” I am fully empowered to join in the next part of life’s journey. I jest. Sort of.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Parenthood 🚓Alexa 📋Quick-Hitters 👋 Just about every statistic imaginable tells us we shouldn’t have kids — at least, not if we’re concerned about our own happiness, mental health, marriage, career, finances, time or ability to buy a really boss car instead of a freaking minivan. Yet here we are, still a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Lawrence Pfaff Sr. Sucks 🚓Engagement Talk 🌯Quick-Hitters 👋 From what I know of Lawrence H. Pfaff Sr. of Belmont, NY, he was kind of a douche. The 81-year-old man died on June 27. I never met him. Never even heard of him. Until I read his obit. And about that obit?…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Travelling Companion🚓Free Beans 🌯Unfollowed 👋 Brandy Bottone is either stupid or brilliant. Whichever it is, she’s also right. The Texas woman was traveling in the HOV lane — which, for the country folk out there, stands for High Occupancy Vehicle and is reserved for cars with two or more people to…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Slots 🎰Dude Perfect ⚽Bye Bye Facebook? 👋 My mother-in-law (AKA The Judester) is nearly 81 years old and has knee problems that keep her from getting around too well these days. Watching her stand up from a chair is to feel pain yourself. Yet when I walked into the Ameristar casino…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Reflections on Grandma 👵Kids & Death 👨👦👦Don’t Say It 🤫 My grandma died yesterday, four days shy of her 96th birthday. As it goes with people at that age, it wasn’t a surprise. She had been fading for more than a year and, though she still was breathing, that version of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sleepwalking 🧨DnD Gang 🎲Gas Idiots 🛢️ If there were a day-by-day measure of the collective output of workers in these here United States of Amuricah (and for all I know, there is), I would venture to guess that July 5 ain’t our most productive day. I base this on my observations…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stupid Parade 🧨Math Matters ➗What Amazon Reveals 🚚 Not being a hugely patriotic person at this point in my life, I made no plans to go to any Fourth of July parade this year. It seems mighty foolish to be celebrating freedoms that are eroding right before our eyes, though I…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oil Change 👨🔧Goose Lover🛦Church & State⛪ Based on my history, the last place anyone should ever look for me is underneath a car. Yet that’s where I found myself late this morning, side-by-side with Boy The Elder as he showed me exactly how stupid I’ve been all my life. I’m not…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Media Bias 📰Rudy’s Sandals 🩴Lack of Faith ⚖️ I’ve watched with interest the blowback against newspaper tyrant Gannett following its reminder to its journalists in the wake of the Supreme Court’s undoing of Roe v. Wade that they are not to take sides on social media. “You cannot use social media…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Censorship 🍈🍈Newspaper Talk 📰Toothbrush 🦷 I did my first actual “work” thing at my new job yesterday. The first two-plus days have been filled with meeting new people and learning about the kazillion awesome products we sell so I can talk somewhat intelligently about what we do. But then Nu Bossman…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hitler Talk ⚖️Chicken Postscript 🐣Green Seats ⚾ I wonder when the average German in the 1930s/1940s said something akin to “Oh shit.” There has to be a point when the rational, sane sauerkraut-lover realized that perhaps his or her vote for a certain mustachioed politician was a really bad idea. For…Keep reading