Millstones and Milestones

Seventeen. My oldest daughter would have turned seventeen last week. Seventeen seems like such an unimportant birthday. You became legal to drive the year before, and it will be another year before you are an adult. Seventeen is just seventeen.

As I sit here at the park watching my boys and my little girl play at the park, I can’t help but think there is more to being seventeen. This year would be the last she would be a child. Responsibilities sh e will never have to face would be looming around the corner. Decisions about the future would need addressing. She does not have to worry about any of that, but I wish she did.

This morning might have opened with a big breakfast, if we could get her out of bed, and she would have gotten hugs and kisses until she told us to go away. We wouldn’t listen. A dinner of her choosing and a cake made by her mom (or maybe her brother since he loves to bake) would end the day. Would she go out with her friends, or would she stay home with her family? I don’t know, and I never will.

My wife asked me if it would ever stop hurting. I told her no. It will always hurt when those two lonely milestones come around.

For my part the grief for her, my Hailey, hangs about my heart like a millstone grinding away at the wheat of my soul with a slow persistence that I may never be rid of entirely.

Thankfully, I have my wife and children to keep me whole. They are the light that chases away the darkness that wants to feed the destructive urges that lurk beneath the surface. They may never know exactly how much I love them, but I try to show them and tell them every day.

My Inspiration

It is easy to say you are inspired by someone. I say I am inspired by H. P. Lovecraft, L. Ron Hubbard, Tolkien, Asimov and a number of other writers, and that would be the truth. But those sources of inspiration are of the sort that I look at and say, “I want to write like them. I want to be known like them.” They are passive inspirations, long gone and safe to emulate from afar.

It is a rare thing for me to find someone that inspires me to do something solid. They make me want to change something about myself and be more like them. Well I can say with all honesty that I have been inspired, and I think it only right to share who inspired me. Continue reading “My Inspiration”

Vacation On a Field of War

This past weekend I drove up to Pennsylvania to pick up my boys. I hadn’t seen them in almost two month and my parents thought that meeting my wife, daughter, and I in Gettysburg would be more fun that meeting in Columbus, Ohio (no offense to Columbus intended).  As the day approached we learned that my wife would have to stay behind for her Triathlon training. It was very upsetting for her and the boys, and I wish she could have made it, but she is working on hard on her training and it was the right choice.

My daughter and I were on the road ten minutes before five o’clock AM with our camping gear in the trunk and our snacks in the front.

Six hours later we arrived at the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center. We met my boys and my parents in he Visitor Center just in time to watch a film and see the Cyclorama. With that done, we went into the museum.  All of the artifacts and presentations were interesting, but I’ll be honest, I was far more into being with my kids and seeing Kaitlyn glomming onto her brothers.


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After a quick break for lunch, we started on the driving tour through the park. We borrowed the CD’s and booklet from the Gettysburg KOA where we were staying. Not to get too sidetracked, but I would definitely recommend the campground as an affordable overnight option if you don’t want to pay for a tourist town’s hotel rates. It’s a great place for the kids to play and includes a playground, swimming pool, over-sized chess set, and breakfast on the cheap.  There is a little store with snacks, toys and touristy stuff.  I bought the  auto tour book and CD’s after the fact and I plan on coming back.

I enjoyed the auto tour immensely. Of course I had to get out at a number of stops to read some of the numerous markers that litter the park with information. Much of it would mean little to anyone not well read on the Civil War, but even for the uninformed it would be interesting. When we got to Seminary Ridge I was completely in awe. Staring up at Cemetery Ridge and knowing that on the third day of the battle, 12,000 Confederate soldiers lined up a mile across and marched up that field to face the Union troops tucked behind a short wall and makeshift fortifications. The insanity of it is mind boggling. Those men were incredibly brave and I cannot imagine marching into the face of so much firepower.

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The auto tour was cool, but we got kind of a late start, so by the time we got to the Army of Northern Virginia Memorial, we had to make a decision and opted to skip some sites in order to hit the two places I really wanted to check out: Little Round Top and Cemetery Ridge.

Little Round Top  was amazing. What a commanding view of the battlefield. I can completely understand why the Union dug in and the confederates fought so hard to take it. We walked around, took a bunch of pictures, and I got to spout off to my children about the battle that was fought where we stood. The one thing I missed out on was Chamberlain’s memorial. It was a little way down the hill from where we parked and I could tell the kids were getting tired.  I’m looking forward to checking that out when we come back.

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Cemetery Ridge. Wow. Walking onto the field and seeing the path traveled by Pickett’s Charge was incredible. Standing on the spot where the Confederate troops briefly broke through the Union line and standing beside the spot where Lewis Armistead reached the Union cannon before being shot was breathtaking. Zachary went with my mom to check out the cemetery, while Katie, Connor, my dad, and I walked the length of the ridge. It was incredible. some of the monuments brought up more questions than answers, but all of them were beautiful in their own right.

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We ended the day with a visit to the Pennsylvania Memorial. It stands out in a field of exceptional monuments. It is the largest structure in the park outside of the Visitor Center and amazing to behold. It was the ultimate stopping point for our little trip.  As a reference, the statue at the top stands twenty-one feet tall, so you can imagine just how immense the structure is.

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You Are The Love Of My Life

Happy Anniversary, Tracy.

Fourteen years ago today my beautiful wife, Tracy, married me at the Edgefield on the hottest day of the year. So much of that day is a blur, but I’ll never forget the site of her walking down the aisle. She was so beautiful in her wedding gown, but I would have taken her if she had come to stand beside me wearing nothing but a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.  On that day I was bonded to my soul mate, and it will always be one of the greatest days of my life.

Tracy, I know things have not always been easy with me, and I know that we have spent years toughing our way through loss and difficulties, but you have always been the high point in my life and at the end of it all, your love has carried me past the points where I would have broken. You are the mother of my children and I could not have asked for better.  With so many years behind us, I look forward to so many more years ahead and I count myself as blessed for having you as my wife. You are as beautiful today as you were the day we were married, and you shall always be the love of my life.

Happy Anniversary
At the Alter

Happy Mother’s Day 2014

Today I want to say Happy Mother’s Day to the three mother’s in my life.

Mother's Day
Tracy and Phyllis on our Wedding Day

To Phyllis, my Mother-In-Law, thank you so much for bringing my beautiful wife into this world and being the grandmother to my children. It is always nice when you come for a visit and we look forward to the next time you can make it here.

Mother's Day
My mom and I on my wedding day.

To Marianna, my mom, I miss you so much and getting to see you last fall was a great treat. You’ve always been there for me, even when I didn’t know I needed you, and though I don’t always remember to call or send a card, I am glad you’re my mom and I hope you have a wonderful day.

Tracy on our Wedding Day. Isn’t she beautiful?

To Tracy, my wife and mother of my kids, I love you more than words can say, but I am going to try anyway. Every day I count myself lucky to have met you and to have you in my life. If I had known how great a mother you would be I would have thought you were too good to be true. Our children are brilliant, friendly, and beautiful. I know they got most of the good stuff from you and I know that with your guidance our kids are destined for great things.


I love you all. Happy Mother’s day.

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Free Comic Book Day 2014

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This past Saturday was Free Comic Book Day and Tracy found us an awesome event at Spandex City Comics, so we loaded up the family and headed out. We started out with a visit with a pair of Scout Troopers from the 501st Regiment North Carolina Chapter. The two guys that were there were absolutely awesome. They talked with us and the kids and were more than happy to pose for pictures.  Katie was pretty impressed with them and did not want to lose sight of them. I tried to get her to say Darth Vader for them, but she was being shy. And yes, my daughter can say Vader. I will fully admit that I spent about an hour looking into how I could make armor of suitable quality so that I could join the 501st. Maybe once I have a house with a garage I could find someone local who would help me out.

After that we got to go inside and get our free comics. For the most part the boys picked out Marvel titles, with an emphasis on Guardians of the Galaxy. I’m just guessing they’re a bit excited for that movie.

After the comics it was all about the Sith lightsaber training. Zachary wasn’t sure he wanted to do it since he would be in front of a bunch of people, but we convinced him to give it a try and he had a great time with Connor. Katie was not at all sure about the Sith Lord and her Apprentice though. They would come around and she would grab on tight and keep them right where she could see them.

Once the training was done it was a quick stop for ice cream and then the long drive back home.

It was a great day and I look forward to doing t again next year….only with costumes next time.



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Like A Caveman!

Paleo Diet

Adventures in Paleo Dieting

Some time ago I tried the Whole Foods thing, and I really enjoyed it, but Tracy’s pregnancy and a busy life made keeping up with the whole foods thing almost impossible, so it was abandoned in favor of our more traditional diet of processed foods and eating out. Don’t get me wrong, we are not horrible eaters for the most part. Just like most people, we have good days and bad days, but we try to eat well. We try to cook at home, we try to make sure there is at least one green veggie on hand, and we try to stay away from the fattest of the fat, but we slip and we eat out way too often, and anyone can tell you that eating out, especially fast/convenient food, is a sure way to do yourself in with too many calories and too much bad for you foods.

A couple of weeks ago we were at the book store and Tracy found a book on the Paleo diet. It was expensive, so we thought we would take a look online, see what we could find and give it a try before making such a substantial purchase. Tracy went online and found a number of sites with Paleo recipes and meal plans, so we gave it a try.

Now, what is the Paleo diet you ask? Well the idea of the Paleo diet is that  you are supposed to be eating the same sort of foods that our caveman ancestors might have eaten, but the reality is a bit simpler.  On the Paleo diet you can eat meat, vegetables, seeds, fruits and the like. Organic is the best (cavemen didn’t use chemicals and drugs…duh), but I don’t think that is necessarily a hard and fast rule as much as it is a guideline.  What is more important are the things you’re not supposed to eat on the Paleo diet. The rough list is no dairy, no legumes, no grains, no starches, nor sugar, and no processed foods.  In layman’s terms, no bread, no milk, no cheese, no beans, no candy, no cake, no pasta and no alcohol. That I did not revolt outright is a testament to how much I love my wife.

The groceries for our first week just about did me in. Between the two grocery stores that weekend, and a couple of supplemental trips, our grocery bill that first weekend nearly reached $400. This is almost three times our weekly budget for groceries, so you can imagine the kind of sticker shock I was dealing with, but I agreed to give this diet a try and I figured at least some of it was the up front pantry stocking.  The truth of the matter is that we didn’t do a good job shopping around and prepping for this change. We jumped in with both feet. In the following weeks we have done better, but we are still a bit over our regular budget.

Normally a diet like this holds little appeal to me, but I’m willing to try it because I want to be supportive in finding a diet that is good for the family, and if that diet gets us away from eating out and eating the processed garbage that normally enters the house, then so much the better.  Where I became a believe in this diet was last week. We had a meal that was a little less than filling, so we cheated and got a couple of McDonald’s cheeseburgers. For the next two days I felt like crap. Stomach cramps, bloating, gas, nausea; all of that and then some, and I had only been on the diet for a week and a half. My body quickly got used to the good stuff and rejected the bad almost as quickly.  Eating healthy seems to be the way to go for me, and the Paleo Diet seems like a good place to start.

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Happy Birthday, Tracy


Happy Birthday
Erika, Tracy and Amber


Today is my wife’s birthday. I would tell you how old [wb_fb_f name=”Tracy Swett” id=””] is, but I like getting to spend the night in the same bed as her.

She is amazing and I cannot imagine my life without her.  Here, on my blog, you get to read my writing and occasionally I share a little bit about my life, but I don’t often speak about how central to my life she is.
She is there for me every day, no matter how badly I screw up or how much I lose sight of things because I get wrapped up in myself.

It would be easy to say that she stays with me because it is easy, or because we have kids together, but the truth is that I am anything but easy to live with and neither one of us are big believers in staying together for the kids. No, living with me and putting up with my crap is no easy thing, so I can only conclude that she must love me far more than I deserve.

Tracy, I love you so very much and I am so glad that you are my wife and my best friend. I would not be half the man I am today if it were not for you, so happy birthday.

Love, Eric



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40th Birthday Approaching

BirthdaySo this is the year when I turn forty. Being the end of the next full decade of life, this is supposed to be one of those years that I look back at how little I have accomplished and how little time I have left on this planet. I don’t feel like doing that.

I have lived a pretty good life so far, and yes, there are things I screwed up, but without those I wouldn’t have the life I have today. I have an amazing family with a beautiful wife and incredible kids. I have published one book and if the writing god’s allow, I’ll have the second book out before I hit that big four zero.

So what is the point of this blog post if I am not going to whine and complain about my age?  Simple: I want stuff.

That’s right. I want things. Specifically, I want you to buy me things.  I’m not silly or ridiculous in my wants, but I have them. Now is your chance to step up and help me get stuff just for surviving another year. It is important to note that the amount of stuff I receive from you directly decreases the chances of me having a midlife crisis in the coming year.  Don’t do it for me…do it for the children.

Thank you.

 Eric’s Wish List

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