16 Years… Longer Together than Not

Today marks a milestone for me and my wife. Today is our 16th anniversary of dating and after today, we will have been together longer than we have not. A pretty crazy thought when you think about it. For many people it will take many years of being with their partner to reach this point but I was lucky enough to trick meet her while we were still in high school to start dating.

Now if you ask her, this day has very little meaning because she only counts the years that we have been married. And yes, that is truly when our lives became “permanently connected.”

But today marks the day that two 16 year olds started “dating.” Looking back us dating was very different. Even though I had my license it would be months until I could start driving her. A date night was meeting up with friends at a movie or Elitches and boy was I awkward back then. (I had a phase where I thought mutton chops was a cool look.)

The last 16 years have been full of many crazy adventures and happy occasions and I am truly lucky to have spent half my life so far with this amazing woman. She has made me a better man, husband and father. She understands me in ways that I still cannot figure out. When I am stressed or upset, she always knows the real reason… sometimes before I do. She has challenged me to grow personally and professionally and has stood by my side through thick and thin.

I look forward to what the next 50+ years of life will bring us and cannot imagine going through this journey with anyone else.

Happy 16th (dating) anniversary! I love you.

Happy 6th Birthday, B

And after a year long hiatus, I am back. Over the next few weeks, this blog will morph into a new site which will highlight the nonprofit sector, parenting, coaching and more. However in the meantime, I wanted to start back up with something personal.

8915715376_9c03eb685eHey B,
Happy 6th Birthday! It is amazing to think that 6 years ago you entered our lives as it feels like just yesterday. Every day since that moment has been an adventure and I am so glad to be on this journey with you. You have made my life fuller and more complete in ways that I never thought possible.

You are an amazing 6-year-old boy who loves to explore the world in front of you. You care deeply about thinking about how things need to be fair and you strive to make sure everyone around you is treated equally. Even this morning after your doctor’s appointment rather than just thinking about a sticker for yourself you asked about getting one for your sister.

B, as you are getting older, I want to tell you about someone that you are named after. Her name was Grace and she was my grandmother. She was a social worker (someone who takes care of others) and cared deeply about those around her, just like you do. She would have loved meeting you and how you are becoming such a little mensch (a good person) in taking care of your family and friends. She would have loved to see how you lit up last week delivering food bags to people from our synagogue and listening to you ask questions about each family. You truly embody the caring person that she was and I look forward to watching how you will continue to care for others around you.

You continue to impress me on a daily basis with what you are learning in kindergarten. From beginning to read to your love for science and how things work to writing a letter to the tooth fairy because you lost (yes, we never found it) another tooth, you have grown so much this year. Your endless questions about everything around you continue to keep me on my toes and help me see that I need to slow down in my own life and just enjoy life. Your creativity in your drawings and voices that you give your toys bring a smile to my face and your passion for musicals is fun to watch. You have already gone to your fourth play at the DCPA.

I cannot wait to see what this year brings for you. From your first soccer and baseball games to beginning first grade, I know that there will be many fun adventures this year that I get to share with you. Continue to dance funky and enjoy every moment.

I love you.

Love,
Daddy

My 31st Year, My 31 Wishes

31 Cake

As I celebrated my 31st birthday yesterday, I wanted to share my 31 wishes for my upcoming year. This is the fourth year I have laid out my wishes and for the first time, I have decided not to look back at my wishes for last year but look forward to this next year.

I have decided that I cannot live in the past anymore. I need to live in the present and enjoy what is in front of me. So here is my 31 wishes for this next year.

Family
Family is the number one thing in my life. I have been blessed with an amazing wife who takes care of the everyday things in our household and two amazing children. 

  1. Be present when I am with my wife and kids. Leave work at work and remain unplugged from technology for the first hour I am home.
  2. Continue monthly date night with my wife.
  3. Make dinner once a week.
  4. Take a weekend vacation with my wife.
  5. Take a weekend family staycation.
  6. Set up “father-son” and “father-daughter” play dates at least twice a month.
  7. Read to my kids every night.
  8. Learn to say no to “extra” obligations and continue making family a priority.
  9. Make time for PFG boy and PFG girl to continue to build relationships with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
  10. Plan trips to visit extended family who I haven’t seen in years.

Spirituality/Faith
2014 marked my return professionally to the Jewish community but in a role where I could still personally enjoy my spirituality and build traditions with my family.

  1. Continue going to weekly Shabbat services.
  2. Participate in weekly Tot-Shabbat services.
  3. Continue unplugging from social media, email and internet on Shabbat.
  4. Hold one Shabbat dinner a month at our house for just for our family or with guests.
  5. Find a learning partner/group to continue to learn and ask questions about Judaism.

Professional

  1. Participate in 5 networking events.
  2. Attend two professional conferences.
  3. Connect with two nonprofit professionals a month for coffee.
  4. Find a mentor and meet with them on a monthly basis.
  5. Stay connected and participate on a regular basis with nonprofit and development associations.

Volunteer/Philanthropy
Philanthropy has been a major aspect of my life for the last few years and I have worked to make philanthropy a part of our entire family. In my 31st year, I want to pass on and help PFG boy develop an understanding and passion for giving back.

  1. Give 2% of income to charity.
  2. Volunteer once a month (could be with same organization or different organizations.)
  3. Participate in three volunteer activities with PFG boy.
  4. Establish charity (tzedekah) fund for PFG boy so he can learn how to give his own money.
  5. Determine whether to continue with current board commitment or make a change to a new organization.

Personal
Each year, I set out some personal goals that I want to meet either for myself or for my family. I believe each of these help me become a more well-rounded individual.

  1. Work out three times a week.
  2. Reconnect with five friends from high school or college.
  3. Pay down $4,000 in debt.
  4. Build a personal board of directors which includes: a spiritual advisor, a financial advisor, a life advisor and a health advisor.
  5. Take 15 minutes for myself every day.
  6. Have fun & live each day with intent!

As always, thank you for your love and support in my professional and personal endeavors.  These wishes could not come true without your ongoing support.

As with last year, I would like to challenge you to come up with your own wishes.  What things have you always wanted to do but have been too afraid to do?  Set out wishes that you believe you can meet and share them with us.

Taking Her for Granted

Earlier this morning, Mrs. PFG left with her sister to join her mom, aunts, grandmother, and other sister for a girl’s weekend in Austin. For the second time in two months, I will be a single parent.

Okay, actually that is not fair… I do have help. The Pure Family Gold family is lucky because we are surrounded by family (seven siblings, three sets of parents and two grandparents) in Denver and both sets of parents have stepped up both times Mrs. PFG has been gone to help me with PFG boy and girl.

However, for the second time in a short period of time, I realize how lucky I am to have a partner in my life who keeps our family going. For those of you that don’t know, Mrs. PFG left her job at a retail store sixteen months ago to raise PFG boy and prepare for the arrival of PFG girl. I also realize that I have taken this for granted.

I take for granted the fact that PFG boy gets taken to school four days a week and picked up without a worry. I take for granted the fact that I can wake up, shower, feed PFG boy and go to work for 8-9 hours a day. I take for granted that I don’t have to leave work to deal with contractors. I take for granted that Mrs. PFG runs a household, serves as a chauffeur, a nurse, and runs a business out of the house.

I have taken this whole scenario for granted for too long and it took Mrs. PFG’s two trips to make me appreciate what we have.

I am truly grateful that I have a partner who for the last fourteen years has stood by my side as I have experienced successes and failures. I am grateful that I have a partner who wanted to raise our two kids AND run her business. I am grateful that I have a partner who keeps our family going in the right direction. And I am grateful that I have a partner in life who is really a partner in everything we have done and will do in the future.

Thank you, Mrs. PFG for everything you do on a daily basis with our kids. Thank you for your endless love and support. Thank you for helping me realize that I couldn’t do all of this on my own. Most of all, thank you for helping me be a better husband, father and son.

Happy 1st Birthday, PFG Girl!

1st birthdayDear PFG Girl,
Today is your first birthday! It is amazing to think that a year ago, Mommy and Daddy weren’t expecting to see you. Unlike your brother, you were excited to enter this world and you came two weeks early. Surrounded by your many aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, you entered this world and had everyone’s love from day one… especially your big brother’s!

Maybe one day he will grow tired of you but he loves you more than anything in the world. We will see if this continues as you grow older and try to hang out with him and his friends!

Your birth marked an interesting time in our lives, Mommy decided to start her own business out of the house to stay at home with you and your brother. Daddy was still enjoying his job at the Community College and PFG boy was just about to start preschool at a new school (little did we know you were going to arrive two days before school started). A little less than a month after you were born, we had a major flood in our basement and we are still dealing with some of the aftereffects. We are just grateful that you were so young that you won’t remember the chaos.

PFG girl, you are the happiest and most easy going baby one-year old we have ever met. You go with the flow of our crazy and ever-changing lives. You love the attention from all of your cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents. You love to laugh and play and listen to the drums at services.

You just started pulling yourself up and you are finally getting your top front tooth… don’t most babies get a canine tooth first? You just started rolling a ball back to Mommy and me. You love Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck and the way you hold your sippy cup reminds us of your brother. (Wait isn’t the cup supposed to be held against your face to soothe you? The liquid inside is just a bonus!)

There isn’t a food that we have introduced to you that you don’t like and you love to feed yourself. You love to giggle with your brother and when you both get going, the whole house becomes full of laughter.

We are so excited to watch you continue to grow and learn. From taking your first steps to speaking your first words, we know this next year will be full of growth and memories.

We love you so much and are so glad we are your parents!

Love,
Mommy and Daddy

 

 

The Power of the Sun – May 2014

Each month the PFG family presents the current power that our solar panels are producing. We give an update on how many kilowatt hours our system produces each month and the financial impact this has for our family. To read more about how we got solar power, click here.

A Little Late
Ideally, we would like to give this update as close to the first week of every month but this month Mr. PFG started a new job and is trying to get settled.

The Numbers
Now for the numbers. For the second month in a row, our system is providing a lot of energy that goes back to our energy company and gets banked as credit for us against what we use each month.

Below is the monthly graph for May of what we produced.  Please note that there are some days where there are no results being presented.  Our system wasn’t correctly responding with the monitoring service but we were still producing energy on most of those days.  There were also three days where the system wasn’t working and we had to have maintenance on the system to turn it back on.

May Solar

 

In May, our system produced over 849 kilowatt hours (see note above) and in a little over two months, our system has provided 2,316 kilowatt hours of energy.  Last month alone we banked over 330 kilowatt hours for our reserves!  Knowing that we are helping the environment and saving some extra money has made this whole experience even better!

If you are interested in learning more about how you can install solar panels, help the environment, and save some money, please let us know and we will tell you more!

We Raised a Tattletale

While we are not experts in this whole parenting game, we thought we were doing a pretty good job.  I mean these little human beings we are in charge of don’t come with instructions (or as PFG boy says constructions).

Both PFG boy and PFG girl are growing (I never thought both of my children would even be on the charts) and learning new things on a daily basis.  They get three plus meals a day, baths on a regular basis, and are overall happy.  PFG boy loves to play with legos, play catch, and still give his toys voices.  PFG girl is feeding herself, crawling, and grasping her toys.

But for the last month, we have noticed something out of the ordinary.  PFG boy is a tattletale.  Not just any tattletale but the most peculiar tattletale we have ever seen.

He is a tattletale on himself.  And not just when he has done something wrong but when he has thought about doing something wrong.

“Mom, I almost hit someone.”

“Dad, I almost tripped over the dog.”

“Nanny, I almost stole a toy.”

“Ms. M., I almost spilled something.”

“Nonnie, I almost touched my sister’s hand.”

At this point, we are not sure whether to laugh or to be upset that we have raised a tattletale. Mrs. PFG has even started joking that if PFG boy commits a crime later in life, that we will know before the event ever takes place.

How would you handle this situation? Do your kids tattle on themselves? What funny things do your kids do or say?  

Slow Down. Enjoy Life.

A Memorial Service
On Monday, I attended the memorial service for a 22-year-old family friend.  This young woman impacted the lives of hundreds and the church where the memorial was held was packed with people wearing her favorite color which was red.

This young woman never had an easy life.  When she was born, the doctors told her parents that she would never walk or have much brain function.  At five years old, she proved them wrong when said her first words.  She used to walk my elementary school with a walker and then over time, she learned to walk on her own.

A House of Mourning
And then last night, I made a shiva call (the seven days of mourning after the funeral of a loved one) for a friend’s father.  This was a man whom I had never personally met but had impacted the lives of many in my community.  He was an educator, a mediator, and a friend.  He was someone who loved learning and sharing his knowledge with the community around him.

As I sat at this house and listened to the stories about him, I truly gained a deep understanding of what this man stood for.  He was a visionary and a trusted friend.  He was a “rabbi” for people who didn’t have one.  He was a supportive husband and an excellent father and he was a risk taker.  At one point in his life, he gave up his profession to go to rabbinical school.  He picked up his family and took a leap of faith.  Little did I know this wasn’t the only leap he took.

Bird Calls and Skydiving
Both of these individuals whose lives we were celebrating learned how to “fly” during their life times.  One learned how to use her charm, passion, and love to enter the lives of those around her.  The other was always looking for new ways to learn, educate, and have fun.

One used to make bird calls twice a day using it as a way to communicate with those she loved.  She didn’t care that these bird calls were “different.”  She didn’t care about the “differences” that existed and as her uncle said “she didn’t view people by the color of their skin.”  She didn’t think of herself as different and lived her life to the fullest.  These simple bird calls made the people around her smile and the walls that might have been put up were easily broken down by this daily communication.

One jumped from a plane on his 60th birthday.  His happiness and excitement from this experience showed a child-like happiness when there isn’t a care in the world.  He lived in the moment and took every opportunity and challenge head on.  To watch the video of his jump at the shiva (a rare occasion and the first time the rabbi who was there has ever watched a video after a memorial service) showed his passion for life.

In both memorials, I truly learned that it is okay to slow down and enjoy life.  Both of these individuals’ lives were short in years but both of them showed me that I need to slow down and enjoy what is going on around me.  Whether it be a daily tradition of five minutes to do something out of the norm or a ten minute gliding back to earth, I need to learn to appreciate what is around me.

May the lives of these two great individuals be remembered.  May their memories remind us to slow down and enjoy life.

 

 

 

Financial Friday: The Power of the Sun

We love to live in Colorado.  The mountains.  The outdoors.  Being close to our family.  And the sunshine.  300 plus days of sunshine!

Okay, maybe not 300 days but in actuality in Denver about 70% of the days have sun putting it in the top ten cities in the United States for sunshine.

So as a frugal family and a family that worries about the environment, we wondered how we could get the sun to do more work for us.  For years, we had heard about putting solar panels on our roof to provide electricity to our house.  I remember watching news stories about how the cost of the solar panels was in the tens of thousands and that you had to have large batteries to store all of the extra electricity.  This didn’t include all of the water needed to make sure the system remained cool.

Yes, this was the way of the past when many people wanting to install solar did it themselves.  But could the PFG family really get solar without breaking the bank.  We knew we didn’t want to purchase the panels ourselves because the cost and maintenance would be out the roof.  We also didn’t want to have to put up a lot of money to install them on our roof.

Then I read a post on a friend’s wall about a company where you paid for the power of the solar not the panels.  We reached out to her and were connected to SolarCity and to a representative who met with Mrs. PFG and I to talk about the benefits and costs of working with them on installing solar on our house.

The entire initial meeting put many things at ease for us.  We would never have to do any maintenance on the panels, the installation would be done over a couple of days, SolarCity would contact our current electric company to transfer over the service, they would be in charge of all of the city and energy inspections, and the cost of the service would be locked in every year with a minimal increase every year (compared to an ever changing increase from our current energy company).

The best part of it was that there were no up front costs and right off the bat we would have the potential to save money every month over what we were currently paying.  From our initial meeting to the time that the solar panels got installed was a good three month process but a lot of this had to do with the winter, inspections, and design of our system.

Additionally, we had an issue when the system was first installed and within two business days, they had someone out to fix the problem.

The Numbers
Now for the numbers.  starting today, we are going to share with you every month how much energy our system is providing.  For us, our system is providing a lot of energy that goes back to our energy company (not SolarCity) and gets banked as credit for us against what we use.  For any energy we produce that isn’t used, that amount rolls over to the next month.  So for example during the summer when there is more sunlight than energy we use, we will be banking that energy for when in the winter there is less sunlight.

Below is the yearly graph so far of what we have produced since our system was turned on in April.  Moving forward we will share this at the end of each month.

Solar City - May 9

In a little over a month, our system has provided 1,062 kilowatt hours of energy.  Last month alone we banked over 270 kilowatt hours for our reserves.  Knowing that we are helping the environment and saving some extra money has made this whole experience even better!

If you are interested in learning more about how you can install solar panels, help the environment, and save some money, please let us know and we will tell you more!

Book Review: The Circle

The CircleWhen we first started Pure Family Gold, we had some people ask us why we would want to share all of our personal stories and financial trials and tribulations with everyone.  Some thought we were putting too much information online while others loved that we were being transparent and telling the “reality.”

One reader felt that we needed to be careful and suggested that I read “The Circle” by Dave Eggers which talks about the dangers of social media.  Seeing as we are trying to be frugal, I decided to try and check out the book from our local library and unfortunately it took over a month to get the book… and only the Kindle version.

However, once I downloaded the book, I couldn’t put it down.  This wonderfully written book introduces you to the life of a young woman who begins working a new job for the new “it” company.  This company has its own campus, sports fields, dormitory, child care center, cafes and more.  Throughout the book, the reader is introduced to new technologies and programs that are designed and introduced within days of the idea being formulated.

While the Circle is a fictional company, there are many parallels to the current technology and social media boom happening in the United States.  The Circle buys ideas and their creators to bring them into the Circle and expand their “stronghold” on the average Circle user.  This fictional company encourages utilizing the services at all times and one of the companies biggest slogans is “secrets are lies and privacy is theft.”

For me, this fictional book really puts my own social media use into question.  Am I relying on the newest technologies and social media too much?  To what extent are companies and individuals relying on these services too much? Are we telling too much about our lives by advertising everything on our blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and more?

Or is the new way of life?  Are jobs going to not hire individuals if they do not use social media to interact with customers and clients?  Will you be able to apply for a job without uploading your LinkedIn profile?  Are you going to lose friends for not interacting with them within the minute you receive their message on Facebook?

While this book struck some fear for me and made me do a double take on what I post, I believe that there has to be a happy middle ground.  Do people need to know every little detail about the PFG family online?  No.  Should we post all of our pictures or activities on social media? No.  Should we continue to share information that might be useful to other young families and allows for conversations to form.  Yes, but we will do it in a thoughtful way.  We will not post articles just because we want to but articles that have true value to our readers.

The Circle, while fictional, really does an amazing job of portraying what the future could look like if people do not protect their privacy, use all social media, and become too connected.  I would highly encourage people to read this book… but read it with caution.  Some of the situations are way too far over the top and unrealistic.

In addition to the Circle, there has been a viral video that has also made me look at how connected I am and how I need to begin unplugging more.  For those that don’t know, I have unplugged from email, Facebook, and Twitter for over the last year on Friday night to Saturday night.  But this viral video by Gary Turk has shown me the importance of unplugging from our phones and “Look Up.”

I will begin doing this by turning off my work email on my phone and Ipad, leaving my phone in its charger during dinners, leaving my phone in the car during meetings, and I will continue to evaluate how to continue being present with those I am interacting with.

What ways would you “Look Up” and do you believe that our society is becoming too connected?