8 Aug

There’s love, and then there’s love


I love you, always will
I love you more today than yesterday
I’ll love you more tomorrow than today
Because there’s love, and then there’s love
Let me explain

At first I didn’t love you, I liked you
We were friends, but I wanted more
So I began to pour out my feelings
For the girl I adored

I held my ground
Soon you came around
Now you were my girl
You became my world

My love for you grew
I couldn’t just let it brew
Again, I wanted more
So I confessed my love
And asked your parents
To marry the girl I first adored
But now I loved

Friends and family gathered
You came down the aisle 
I threw you a smile
We said I do
And then I kissed you

Next thing we knew
Your tummy grew
Ella Grace arrived
And sleep became deprived

Chasing a toddler wasn’t enough
So we “did it” again
Lucy Joye came into this world
A wonderful sleeping wonder

We’ve now reached 5 years of marriage
And have 2 beautiful daughters
So I just wanted to say

I love you, always will
I love you more today than yesterday
I’ll love you more tomorrow than today
Because there’s love, and then there’s love

By Cody Lamens

image

27 Feb

Daughters

I always thought about having a son
Playing with cars and trucks
And communicating with farts and grunts
Peeing outside behind a tree
And coaching a little mini me 

Teaching what it means to be a man
And how to install a bathroom fan
How to woo a girl with just a wink
And to hate the color pink

To show my love with a pat on the head
An “atta boy” or a firm handshake
I’m a man’s man for heaven’s sake

But, I never thought about having a daughter
Playing with dolls and princesses
And communicating with hugs and kisses
Wearing pigtails, bows, and boots 
And going on daddy daughter dates

Teaching what true love means
By loving her mother
And that she deserves more respect 
Than to be woo’d by a wink
So it’s okay to embarrass boys pink

I sit here today a father
To one beautiful daughter 
And another arriving soon 

So I must say
I wouldn’t have it any other way
For this man’s man wasn’t really a man
Until he had daughters

- Cody Lamens

image

4 Sep

en•tre•pre•neur

Well, it has been just over two months since my last post.  What have I been up to, you ask?  Let me fill you in.  First, summer decided to show up here in Seattle so we’ve been out and about as much as possible trying to take advantage of the weather.  You can read up on our summer over at Bethany’s blog. The highlights were Bethany and Ella coming with me on a work trip to San Diego and another trip to Sunriver, Oregon with Bethany’s parents.  We’ve had a great summer and are sad to see it coming to an end as Bethany started school today.

Amidst all the summer craziness I also decided it would be a great time to become an entrepreneur and start a business.  That’s right, I’ve launch EllaMenoPea, a kiddos furniture company.  I’ve actually been working on the idea for over a year but got my first order at the end of June while we were in San Diego.  Since that first sale I’ve been pretty slammed trying to keep up with orders, which is why the blog got put on the back burner temporarily.

So, let me tell you about EllaMenoPea.  It has always been a dream and passion of mine to have my own business. Over the years I’ve had hundreds of crazy out of nowhere ideas.  Being that I have been in the high tech software industry for the
last 8 years most of my ideas were tech related and were guaranteed to make me the next Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, or Jeff Bezos.  That was until I’d pitch each crazy idea to Bethany, thanks for the support babe, and two of my best buds Matt and Rob.  Bethany’s initial reaction would tell me how crazy I really was and the feedback from Matt and Rob would lay out the gaps, barriers, and challenges I’d encounter which would usually deflate the sails and bring me back from cloud nine.  It was all really good feedback and I was able to learn and grow from each failed idea.  Some of the ideas were really good and others who’ve come up with similar ideas have been able to execute and start some pretty decent little businesses.  I just wasn’t positioned well enough to do anything with those same ideas at that point in time.  Something about time, capital, and resources being important to starting a business.

However, there was one idea where they all reacted quite favorably.  Yes! You better believe it was oh so sweet to finally get that reaction out of them.  I had been waiting for that moment for quite sometime, years in fact.  The idea was to design and build children’s furniture.  I’m sure some of you are thinking that is another crazy idea and that’s okay.  Just bare with me.  

In order to entirely understand I have to tell you a small backstory.  My uncle, Neil Lamens, is a master furniture maker.  You can read all about Neil at WoodMag Coverwww.furnitology.com.  Neil has been featured on the cover of Wood Magazine and appeared on episodes of Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac.  He is a great designer and his work and craftsmanship are absolutely beautiful.  If you want to get into woodworking yourself I’d highly recommend that you check out the Furnitology podcast on itunes.  I’ve spent numerous hours with Neil talking about the craft, it’s history, and it’s future.  Through all of Neil’s mentoring over the years I’ve developed a passion for woodworking.  Throw in my passion for business and entrepreneurship and the idea for EllaMenoPea and children’s furniture should make more sense to you now.  

I know some of you are still saying, “Hold on, isn’t there 1 million companies out there that make children’s furniture?” To answer your question, yes there are actually 2 million companies that make children’s furniture.  I’ll be number 2 million and 1.  I know it sounds crazy but I believe there is niche for me to play in and numerous ways to differentiate EllaMenoPea from the others.  

I’m really excited about this new venture.  I have learned a lot over the last year and it’s no lie that starting a business requires a lot of hard work and late nights.  Bethany often reminds me that if starting a business was easy everyone would be doing it.  She’s right! At times I’ve wanted to throw in the towel.  At times I’ve doubted myself.  At times I’ve been near tears trying to understand all the child product safety laws. At times I’ve so badly needed to catch a break.  I’m sure I’ll continue to experience those emotions as EllaMenoPea is still very, very young and the most difficult and challenging times are still ahead.  But, making that first sale made it all so worth it.  That first dollar wetted my appetite and made me hungry.  Seeing others excited for me gives me confidence to push forward.  Hearing from happy customers gives me the biggest smile.  Having Ella think that I make everything by hand makes me feel like a superhero.  

Only time will if I’m able to get this pig to fly so jump on the bandwagon and ride this crazy train with me by liking EllaMenoPea on facebook and joining the website launch list at EllaMenoPea.com.


Stay tuned as I’ll be blogging about EllaMenoPea in future posts.

Here are a few of the designs for the first collection.  One of my goals with each piece is to maintain a simple design while maximizing function.  For example, chalk boards on all the lids and removable drawers for easy access and portable storage.

  

30 Jun
Perfect day with my main squeezes!

Perfect day with my main squeezes!

27 Jun
Airplane ride to San Diego! If the sun won’t come to us we’ll go to it.

Airplane ride to San Diego! If the sun won’t come to us we’ll go to it.

Parent Dating and Street Cred



Ella started Lil’ Kickers this last weekend. Yay! Yep, we enrolled our daughter in organized soccer at 21 months exactly. I know you are probably thinking that we are trying to force feed our daughter into being the next Mia Hamm. And, maybe we are. Get over it! In all seriousness, we enrolled Ella in soccer because it is an activity on a Saturday that I can actually attend since I’m usually working during all weekday activities. At this age Lil’ Kickers is parent and child participation so I love being able to run around with her. Of course, when mom is around dad is only cool for so long so Bethany and I subbed in and out. It was a fun hour! We played red light green light, stacked and kicked over cones, kicked bubbles, ran through an obstacle course, played with a parachute, and attempted to dribble a soccer ball. Watching toddlers who are just starting to run Lil Kickers Ellatry to dribble and kick a soccer ball is comedy at its best. Little Joey couldn’t care less about the ball and insisted on running toward a coyote, yes a real live coyote, who was checking out class. Another little girl, Morgan, wanted to kick everyone else’s ball. Isabel didn’t want to do anything and another boy only wanted to bounce on the air tubes that outlined the field. As for Ella, she mostly wanted to pick up the soccer ball and throw it. Poor coach Tim had his hands full trying to keep class going and the parents spent most the time scrambling to corral their kids. All in all it was a kick of a morning for our little family.

There’s more to the story though. I had ulterior motives. I was going to make friends. We have some amazing friends that are our best friends and will be for a lifetime. We do most everything with these couples. The only drawback is that we live in Issaquah, and while a few of our friends live close the rest live on the the other side of the pond in North Seattle. When we get together with friends outside of Issaquah it has to be planned and is a slight production with a toddler. As Ella gets older and is able to do more I think it would be great to have some more friends close by for impromptu BBQ’s, trips to the park, dinner out, or any other shenanigans. I figured that Lil’ Kickers would be a great opportunity to meet other families who have common interests. Bethany got a good laugh when on the way to soccer I made the comment I felt like I was on back on the dating scene. That is truthfully what it felt like, in a way. Let me explain. We got there early to check Ella in and get her jersey, which stressed me out more than anything. More on that in a minute. After we got her checked in we headed down to the field and I immediately started sizing up parents. I’m canvassing back and forth making mental notes. Are they our age, do they have a boy or a girl, is the dad wearing any Seahawks gear, can I see Bethany and the mom clicking, and so on. I determined there were some candidates and settled into the start of class. As class got going it was time to break the ice. This is always the most awkward part. It usually goes something like this.

Me: Hey, I’m Cody.

Them: Hey, I’m Gino.

Me: What’s your daughter’s name?

Them: My son! His name is Hamilton.

Me: Oh sorry! He’s a cute little guy.

Me: What do you do, Gino?

Them: I work for Microsoft (go figure!)

Me: Ahhh….

Them: (Silence)

Me (in my head): Ok, well that guy over there looks cool. Get Ella to kick the ball in their direction.

I played that game all morning long. One guy blew me off mid-sentence to go yell at his pregnant wife for not taking enough pictures. He was also wearing a gold chain and combined with the way we treated his wife I put him directly into the narcissistic bucket and decided not to strike up the conversation again. There were some pretty cool families and a few of the dads were indeed wearing Seahawks swag so we’ll see how the rest of the classes go. Maybe we’ll come away with some new friends that live close by. If not, no big deal. Before I fell head over heels for Bethany my dad always told me, “When one gets away you have to put your hook back in the water and start trolling again.” That’s what we’ll do.

Now, for the stressful jersey situation. As we were checking Ella in, the coach asked Ella what number she wanted. My heart immediately started racing! This was a big deal and I wasn’t prepared for this so early in her life. Whatever number she ends up with could very well end up being her lifetime number so it better be a good one. My lifetime number was 13. I first wore 13 in little league at the age of 8 or 9. From that day forward 13 was my number and all my friends knew it was off limits. You see, they knewLil Kickers E&C 13 was my number because I had street cred. You heard me right, I had street cred. The earlier in life you get a number the more street cred you have to lay claim to that number. If anybody ever wanted to contest me for the number 13 all I had to say was, “Nuh-uh, I’ve been wearing 13 since I was 8!” BOOM, now take your ball and go home, son. Side note, nobody else ever wanted unlucky number 13 anyway. Ella was getting the opportunity to develop her street cred at 21 months, that’s huge. We picked the number 2 since Ella is almost 2 years-old. I think 2 is a great number and if she chooses to make it her lifetime number I highly doubt any kid will ever be able to play the trump card on her street cred. I just don’t see anybody being able to say, “Yeah, yeah well I’ve been wearing the number 2 since I was 15 months. Actually I was born wearing the number 2.” Now, re-read that last sentence in your best 12 year-old voice, it’s fun.

Seriously, don’t be too school for cool. Go back and read the last sentence with your best 12 year-old voice.

To tie it all together it just goes to show that as a parent you never know what is coming next. An easy, laid back morning at the park could lead to a life long friendship or the need to make a critical parenting decision in the clutch under pressure, such as choosing a jersey number. It’s all about street cred!





22 Jun
"You know you’re a mom when you get excited about a solo trip to Target!"

—My Wife

16 Jun

Crayons, Chocolate, and the Dog


We have a dog, Lily.  Do we love her?  We used to, until Ella was born that is.  Lily is a wee little one weighing in at 5 pounds soaking wet.  She is also the yappy, ankle biter type.  Actually, Lily is a good dog as long as there isn’t a knock at the door, the neighbor kids are quiet, no visitors are over, car doors don’t slam shut, I Lilydon’t make any sudden movements, or invade her 20 feet of personal space.  Basically the world has to be at complete peace for Lily not to bark at every little noise she hears.  That is why we loved Lily until Ella was born.  Lily and a sleeping baby are like oil and water, they don’t mix.  I’m sure you know the feeling, right?  If not, let me lay the situation out for you. You work for 2 hours to get your kiddo to sleep.  You rock them, walk with them, bounce them, do the stupid shhhh, shhhh, shhhh trick just like the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD told you to (FYI - this never works) and at last, your baby is asleep.  You sneak out of the room and head for the couch to relax.  Your butt barely hits the cushion and then BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!  The neighbor kid is bouncing a basketball and the dog goes crazy!  You know what happens next.  Ugh, so frustrating!

Over the almost two years of Ella’s life we have had many conversations about what to do with Lily.  Do we debark her, accidentally leave the gate open, give her away?  One of Bethany’s friends thought we were so serious about giving her away that she texted one night and said her sister would love to take Lily off our hands.  My in-laws also often dog sit for us when we go out of town and there may or may not have been a few occasions where we have left Lily at their house for an extra day or two just so we didn’t have to put up with her.  Last Saturday we actually had the conversation about the budget of how much we’d spend to save Lily’s life.  We randomly threw some numbers out there but passed the conversation off without too much serious thought or discussion.  Yup, we jinxed ourselves because later that night we had an emergency trip to the 24-hour vet.  

It all started Saturday morning.  Bethany had an end of the year BBQ for her first grade class that overlapped with a birthday party for a couple of Ella’s pals.  So that morning Bethany briefed me on the day’s itinerary and sent me on my way.  I was to go to Finn and Nora’s birthday party with Ella and then be at the BBQ between 11:30 and noon.  Simple enough.  Ella and I made it to the party.  I had one, two, three, four Krispy Kreme donuts and Ella had apple juice and strawberries.  We hung out and when 11:30 rolled around we headed for the door, grabbed the party favor, loaded up and headed for the BBQ.  We got to the BBQ, caught up with Bethany, did our thing and headed home.  All in all a busy morning but fairly uneventful.  
RainbowMustache
Here’s where the fun began.  After we got home I was headed out to the garage to tinker around and in passing told Bethany there were race car shaped color crayons from Finn and Nora’s party.  Next thing I knew Bethany came flying through the door screaming at me that Lily just ate all the crayons.  She what!?  Why in the world would she eat crayons? I ran inside to find four and a half crayons gone and a big bite mark out of the fifth.  She didn’t just eat the crayons, she inhaled them.  Bethany and I stood and stared at each other for a minute before trying to figure out what to do.  After a quick team discussion we decided to just watch Lily and see what happened.

As things were calming down and Lily seemed to be acting normal Bethany turned to me and asked, “Are you sure those were crayons?”  Oh shoot!  You see, I didn’t actually ask what was in the party favor bag.  I grabbed one on the way out the TheFavorsdoor, did a quick evaluation and determined they were crayons. Easy peazy!  Not convinced, Bethany texted Finn and Nora’s mom, Kate, to confirm if they were crayons or not.  Kate replied back and….(drum roll please)…they were chocolate candy melts molded into race cars.  Leave it to me to confuse crayons with candy.  My parents always said I was blessed with book smarts and my brother with street smarts.  Fitting that I became an analyst and he became a police officer.

Now that we knew that Lily just ingested a whole bunch of chocolate, things got a little more serious.  We called Lily’s vet, explained what happened and were instructed to watch Lily closely and if she started to act funny or throw up to get her to the emergency vet ASAP.  A couple of hours went by and she was acting like her annoying self so we were feeling pretty good.  That was until we came down from putting Ella to bed.  We walked right into rainbow colored throw up everywhere!  There was tons of it on the couch, on the floor, and everywhere else.  I took a pic to show the vet but I’ll spare you by not putting it on the blog.  Needless to say I loaded Lily up and off to the vet we went.  The vet saw lily for 5 minutes, determined that she had probably already thrown up all the candy, gave her a shot for nausea, took $150 out of my wallet and sent us home.  Good thing it wasn’t more because when we casually discussed the “save Lily’s life budget” I don’t think we were throwing out numbers much higher.  

We got Lily home and by morning she was 100% back to normal barking at every little noise and annoying the heck out of me just as she always does.  However, IChocolateCrayons can honestly say that I was concerned for lil’ Lily and if it came down to it, we would have paid to keep her around.  Yippie, that it didn’t come to that.  At the end of the day Lily is part of our family and as annoying as her yappy bark is, we do love her.  Besides, Ella and Lily are best buds.  This saying comes to mind, “Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts!”  Lily is our nut, but we love her!

Before I go, is anyone looking for a dog?  I have one for you.  She’s small, white, barks a lot and can tolerate an incredible amount of chocolate.  Let me know! 
8 Jun
Daddy diaper bag! Ya dig?

Daddy diaper bag! Ya dig?

How times have changed


Have you ever thought what the last 10 years of the NFL would’ve been like if Tom Brady never would have started playing football at the age of 14?  Me neither!  But, I did read an article recently that said Brady’s dad would have been hesitant to let his son play football if he knew then what he knows now about the long-term dangers of concussions.  Kurt Warner also recently came forward and said that he would prefer his sons didn’t play football.  

SYFA Coach CodyReading this article really hit me upside the head, pun intended, since football has always been a passion of mine.  It’s always been my favorite sport, I played in high school and college, I’m on the board of a youth football program, and it is my favorite professional sport to watch today.  I have thought many times how cool it would be to coach my own son(s) in youth football should the good lord bless me with a little linebacker.  After reading this article I still think it would be cool, but it really has me thinking.  It’s less about should or shouldn’t I let my kids play football and more about the realization that my kids will grow up in an entirely different world than I did.

I grew up in a small eastern Washington town where nothing ever seemed to go wrong.  We’d leave our doors unlocked 24/7.  My brother and I would be up to no good out with our friends roaming the town well past midnight.  We’d wander miles out into an open field with our pellet guns on a big hunt for tweety birds.  And I never wore a helmet when riding a bike until I was an adult!  These are some of the best memories of my childhood and as great as they are I’m not about to arm my kids with a pellet gun for a day of unsupervised hunting in the foothills of the Cascade mountain range.  Sheesh!  More so, when was the last time you saw a kid anyone on a bike without a helmet on?  Out of fear of public backlash and being “that dad”, my kids will never get on a bike without said protective equipment! What happened to the good ol’ days?  Or, think of it this way.  What things are today’s youth doing that won’t be allowed when they are adults?  Will football still be played at the youth level?  How about this angle - was my childhood so wild and crazy with no concern for children’s safety or is society today way too overprotective of our children to their detriment?  Somewhere in between?

As I earlier mentioned it’s less about football, but c’mon I’m a football guy so I have to talk about football a smidgen.  It will also serve as a good example of how times have changed and how stuff I did in my childhood may not fly today.  That said, I get where Brady’s dad and Kurt Warner are coming from.  I played the sport at the collegiate level and yeah I “saw stars” on many occasions.  While I was never diagnosed with a concussion, I’m sure I had to have had at least one somewhere along the way.  Roll forward 8 years since I last put on a brain box and I don’t think or feel like I have any psychological issues, although my wife may beg the differ!  So from my experiences and coming out the other side unscathed I don’t see any reason to not allow my kids to play football. However, I must go deeper.  I didn’t play organized tackle football until I was in the 9th grade.  Kids today start when they are in the third grade, which wasn’t even an option when I was that age. That means by the time kids reach the age where I first put on a helmet they have already endured 6 years of thumpin’!  I only played 8 years total.  By the time they graduate high school they will have played 2 more years than I did in my entire life.  If they go on to play in college you can tack on 5 more years.  If they are lucky enough, or should we say unlucky, to play in the NFL you can tack on another 5 years on average but up to 12+ more years.  Let’s do the math on that, 6 years of youth football, 4 years of high school, 5 years of college, and an average of 5 years in the NFL for a total of 20 years.  Whitworth Football - CodyAt that point in time, that player would be 28 years old.  That means that 20 of 28 years of this player’s life have been spent playing football with the possibility of head injuries.  I only spent 8 of my first 28 years playing football.  When you look at it from this perspective on paper with no scientific backing it appears to be a no brainer why concussions and head injuries are such a big deal in the NFL today.  After looking at it this way I ask myself again if I would allow my kids to play football and I’m not so sure.    

It’s not only football, this can be any sport or activity that could have potentially long term health risks for those that participate.  If it isn’t football for your kid, it may be soccer, especially for girls where concussions and ACL tears are as big of a deal as concussions in football.  So, what do you do?  I’m sure there are many options, but here are two that come to mind.  Option one, you make the decision to not allow your child to participate.  This is the bullet proof option of completely eliminating the risk.  However, your child could miss out on time with his/her friends, learning sportsmanship, teamwork and other life skills that can be learned from participating in sports.  Option two, you allow your kid to participate, but make a family decision to set boundaries.  For example, child can participate up until “X” injuries or concussions.  This allows the kid to participate but you’ve been able to put a boundary in place and strongly communicate what will happen if that boundary is met.  Since I only have a toddler, I have yet to be put in this situation but I’m sure when or if that boundary is met it can’t be easy as a parent to draw the hard line. But, it’s for the safety of our children and as parents one of our most important responsibilities is to provide safety for our children, right?  

To close it out it is more than fair to say that as parents we have tons of tough decisions to make that will impact and shape our children’s lives.  Man, that’s a big deal!  We also draw on experiences from our own childhood to help us make the best decisions for our children.  I’m sure we have all said, “sure, I did that as a kid” at least once when making a parenting decision.  That is a slippery slope since times have clearly changed since we were kids.  I guess you take it one day at a time, make decisions based on what you know today and pivot when you need to. I know, easier said than done!

Here’s the original article.