Category Archives: Courtney

About my daughter Courtney

What Will My Girls Think?


Today I was waiting in line at the grocery store with my two Daughters. Nestled in between National Enquirer and Cosmopolitan was Women’s Health. I scanned the cover without thinking. Then I read the magazine’s tagline – It’s Good to Be You™

The story callouts look like they came from a handbook on anorexia. Healthy, Sexy Breasts: 9 Easy Steps. 75 Hot Body Moves. Flatten Your Belly. Firm Your Butt. Sculpt Your Legs. Tone Your Arms. Eat, Drink & Still Shrink. More Sex, Better Sex. Is this is a magazine about Women’s Health? Is it about “being yourself”?

I joked about it with Savannah and Courtney while we were waiting in line. The woman behind us overheard us talking. She didn’t say a word. She gave me a nod of approval.

What do you tell your daughters?

It’s Your Heart Running Around Outside Your Body


One of my dear friends gave me some advice a while back. “Kids change every day, they come home and have new experiences to share and new stories to tell. They are miniature human beings with a lifetime of living still in front of them”.

So many things about that ring true. I think about them all the time when they are not home. I hope they are seeing the world around them. I hope they experience all the beauty this world contains. I hope they find what they love, be it work or someone else.

But you know what the problem is? The problem with children is that they carry your heart with them.

Tone Deaf


Courtney’s cell phone started acting up several months ago. The phone would drop in the middle of calls and texts. I couldn’t get the issue to reproduce. I did a hard reset on it, re-synced her contacts from the iMac, and left it at that.

Another week goes by. Courtney tells me that it still “doesn’t work”. I see that the SIM Card isn’t reading into the device. I resolve it by powering off, removing the battery & SIM, snapping it back together and turning it back on. I show Courtney this. She tells me that’s what’s she has been doing all along. I tell her to hang on until we can get a free upgrade. She’s not a happy camper.

Being the geek I am, I go online and googled “Sony W518s” issues. I read the ATT and Sony support discussion boards. The next day I re-install the firmware and wiped the SIM card’s memory. It seemed to work. I handed it back to her.

About a week later, I asked Courtney how her phone was. She replied “It’s broke. I don’t use it anymore.”

I log into my AT&T account and see that she’s eligible for a “free” upgrade on December 6. I tell Courtney that it’s a few months before we can get the phone replaced. She doesn’t like hearing that. It’s late September. December 6 is too long to wait for a teenage girl.

The blog-sphere is alight with rumors about the new iPhone. I know the current iPhone will see a price drop. Apple always does this. I take the leap and tell Courtney that I’ll get her an iPhone.


I don’t know.

Why not?

Because no one outside of Apple knows. It’s a secret.

Can I get a new phone now?

When Apple introduces the new iPhone.

But I need a phone now!

Apple’s announcing their new iPhone at their October 4th Media Gathering. We’ll know for sure then.

I can’t wait that long. I need a phone now.

OK, I’ll see if I can get one to use until the iPhone is out.

I’m all in at this point. Courtney has been using friend’s phones to contact me. How embarrassing. She needs a new phone. I look on Craigslist, there are jailbroken iPhones and “hot” smartphones at ridiculously high prices and nothing else. I post on Facebook asking if any of my friends had an unused ATT/T-Mobile phone that we could borrow. No luck.

October 4th comes and goes. The new iPhone 4S is introduced, and it’s a marvel. The 4 goes down to $99. The 3GS becomes free. Availability is listed as October 14th. My teenage daughter somehow knows this. She wants to know when she can get her iPhone. The last thing she wants to hear is me babbling on about how cell phone contracts work. She just wants a phone.

I call ATT. I tell the Rep the situation. She’s remarkably attentive and courteous. I ask if there was any way we could get Courtney bumped into an upgrade right now

The Rep says Yes. Based on what you told me, we could make an exception here.

So I can get her a new phone today?

Yes you can. We can chose any phone except Apple’s iPhones.

Any phone except an iPhone?

That’s correct.

Let me ask you, if we got a new phone, does that mean that Courtney has to wait another two years on contract before she’s again eligible for an iPhone?

That’s correct.

I don’t want to do that. I do want to get Courtney an iPhone in December. What can we do for her until December? She needs something today.

Why don’t you get a Go Phone?

Doesn’t that require a month-to-month contract?

No. Just go to a local ATT store, and bring in her phone. They’ll take the SIM card and activate the Go Phone with it.

That’s all?

Yes sir. That’s all.

Yesterday I go into Radio Shack. I pick up a Samsung Go Phone. It’s marked $9.99. I bring it to the counter. I tell the clerk I don’t need to buy the Go Monthly airtime contract. I just wanted to buy this phone and activate it with Courtney’s ATT SIM card. How much would that cost me?

The clerk looks at me with an incredulous stare and says $9.99.

I feel like an idiot.

Back To School


I’m happy that the kids are back in school. They’re fully engrossed in their new routines.

Savannah is already knee-deep into homework. She is carrying 3 AP classes and 1 honors class. X-C running is transitioning into speedwork. And she is looking forward to the Hannah Welker Soccer Tournament this upcoming Sept 24/25.

Courtney made the HS Volleyball team. I saw her last night play at their first home game. They won their match. Courtney has really stepped up her game from last year. She looked real good playing on the front. Once she jumped so high up to spike a ball her head was up over the net. She’s so strong. Her homework so far has been pretty easy. A very good sign.

Douglas keeps saying his teacher is awesome. All the Moms I’ve talked to say the same thing. I’ve only talked with the teacher once. I don’t know her like I knew Doug’s teacher last year. Douglas is in very good hands and will have another awesome year. That’s a comforting feeling.

Me, well it’s feeling discombobulated. My world has changed since I met this wonderful women last month. Her name is Alexandra and she is perfect. It’s all good, supremely good.

Yet I need to put away the last bit of pain from Janet, knowing the next step I take with my children and Alexandra is for keeps. This is it. Whatever I do next, it’s for my kids and Alex. May we all find peace and get on with it.

What A Difference


This picture was taken August 23, 2010. First day of school. Seventy-one days since my Kids saw their Mom pass. It’s not enough time to heal. The pain was fresh. Look at this photo, the pain is evident.

Savannah, Courtney and Douglas have worked so hard since that first day of school last year. We changed, we grew, we wept, we learned, and we laughed.

The kids are super excited about going back to school tomorrow. The energy in our home is much brighter. This is going to be a great year.

Dog Days of Summer


Several week ago Savannah left for a week to attend her school’s annual X-Country running camp. It was at Shaver Lake in the Sierras. She had a great experience. We missed her all week. Courtney made a Welcome Home banner for her sister. I was lucky to get a shot of Savannah embracing Courtney.

Savannah has been busy this summer. She’s been doing Soccer and X-Country training nearly every day. Playing Soccer Tournaments. Spending quality time with her boyfriend. I’m totally cool with that, but the reality is that Savannah hasn’t been around much to help out.

She’s growing into a confident young lady. I give her space to grow. She’s sixteen and already has one foot out the door. Every Parent has to go through this. Part of life I guess.

This weekend Savannah is playing in the Santa Barbara Summer Cup. It’s a very competitive Soccer Tournament. We always enjoy the venue. Several weeks ago I asked Courtney about coming along (Santa Barbara is 100 miles South of us). She said she’d rather stay home.

Several days ago Courtney asked if she could go to a friend’s party on Saturday. I reminded her that Savannah and I were going to be in Santa Barbara, and that she should call a friend to get a ride. She said “No Dad, I can’t call someone and tell them to pick me up. That would be rude!” I tell Courtney that any of our friends would be happy to share a ride to the party. She wasn’t hearing any of it. It was my job to get her there.

At the beginning of the Summer Courtney had been granted an invitation to attend a week-long academic camp at Cal Poly. I wanted her to go, to be exposed to different things. She didn’t want to go, she felt I was forcing her to go. Looking back, I should have found a way to get her there. It would have been good.

Douglas. He’s so imaginative, active and curious about the world. There’s always something new to discover, balls to throw, bikes to ride, Nerf gun battle to wage. If he’s not with friends, you can’t expect him to entertain himself for six hours.

There have been too many days this summer spent watching TV. I’ve never been much of a TV watcher myself, but when you are trying to get stuff done you learn to rely on the electronic babysitter. I get stressed out over that.

The McCarthys have been very fortunate to have great friends helping out with my kids. I am grateful for their time. I’d like to tell everyone that we had a great summer. The truth is that I’m happy that school is starting up next week. My kids need the challenge. And I need to get some work done.

Pet Fish


Ever since the kids were young I had pet fish. There was something serene about watching them swim around at night, under the tank lights. Whenever I came home there they were, peacefully swimming around without a care in their little world.

Seven years ago I couldn’t find anyone to adopt my fish when we relocated to California. Sadly I had to dispose of them. I packed up the Nissan with our family heirlooms. In went photos, diplomas, the portrait of Uncle John and our curly maple rocking chair. And the tank. I remember seeing that fish tank in my rear view mirror driving across the country.

After I had been out here a month alone, working at my new job, I flew back to my family in Ohio. The movers packed up our stuff, then we hopped on a train westward into our new lives. Several weeks later, after things got settled in our new home, I bought home some pet fish.

Savannah, Courtney and Douglas had names for the fish. They each had unique little personalities. They would recognize me when I walked up to the tank and congregate in the front right corner where they got fed. For such simple little creatures I sure enjoyed them.

Janet wasn’t happy about my fish. She would complain about the smell. Or worse, yell at me for cleaning the filter elements in the kitchen sink. All the time.

Sometime in May of last year I learned that Courtney had sold her chickens. I asked Janet why, she brushed it off saying Courtney didn’t trust me with them. I was so looking forward to taking care of them while she was back east. Courtney and I built the coop together. It was something we shared. I didn’t understand where she got the idea that I wouldn’t take care of her birds.

One day, in a fit of desperation thinking about having my kids away for two months, I drained the fish tank and disposed of the fish. Just like that sad day seven years ago in Ohio. The kids came home and asked what happened to the fish. I lied by telling them they had died.

The following week Janet sold my fish tank at a garage sale.

Today my three children gave me the most wonderful Father’s Day present I have ever gotten. A little fish tank with three fish in it. It’s the most beautiful thing in my world. I’m looking at the little guys swim around their tank as I type this. It feels like a little piece of me has been put back into place.

It’s amazing when you think how children understand things more than you thought they did. I am happy that my children appreciate little things like pet fish.

The Jared Tyler Cunningham Memorial Award


Jared was an Atascadero Junior High student who died several years ago in a car accident, the result of a young, reckless driver who was speeding. His family presents the award at tonight’s Atascadero Junior High’s Top Dog Awards Ceremony to a student that exemplifies the qualities of Jared: intelligent, athletic and kind. A panel of Teachers and peers select the winner from a select pool of candidates. This year, Courtney is one of the Award Finalists.

It is a special award because it recognizes a student who exemplifies academics, athletics and most importantly – good citizenship. There is a small Scholarship stipend that goes along with the award, but that’s not what makes it special. The Cunningham Family’s support and recognition is what makes it prestigious.

Savannah won the award when she graduated from Eight Grade a few years ago. It meant a lot to the McCarthys back then. It’s great to get recognition from the community that says “Yes, you’re doing a great job. Your child is thriving and all of us honor that.”

I hope Courtney wins tonight. It would mean so much to her and the McCarthys to see her receive the award. Courtney has worked so hard this year. Being considered for the award is a honor in itself. In a way Courtney has already won. I’m so proud of her.