Jaxson’s First Halloween (PHOTOS)

But first, some site stuff. My friend Ian and I are trekking out to Universal Studios after work for Halloween Horror Nights. I will be posting live on Instagram (sethtearz) and Twitter @sethtearz tonight (NO FACEBOOK!), so follow me to join along in the fright fest.


As the days of the calendar rapidly fall off of October, I figured a fun way to count down to Halloween would be to post Jax’s costumes, in order, from his first Halloween. So here we go.

First Halloween

Two weeks before Jax’s first Halloween I was shipped off to Hopkinton, MA for five weeks of training at my new job at a mega insurance company. He just turned 9 months. It crushed me to miss his first Halloween. My wife sent me photos and updated me about the severe fires just down the freeway from our house. It was bad enough that she took photos of our possessions in our house for insurance purposes, should our house burn down. Fortunately it didn’t get any closer than that.

But it was an unusually hot Halloween. While I was partying in downtown Salem, MA in 45 degree weather, my wife and family were sweating it off on a 85 degree night with smells of a bonfire.

We picked out Jax’s furry first costume at Old Navy, and never imagined it’d be as hot as it was. Our criteria was cute and warm. So he was a skunk.

Jax skunking it up at our coffee table.

Jax skunking it up at our coffee table.


"Candy? Really? F you, Mom. I want PUFFS!"

“Candy? Really? F you, Mom. I want PUFFS!”

"Look at all this colorful stuff my parents won't let me eat until I'm 3. Jerks."

“Look at all this colorful stuff my parents won’t let me eat until I’m 3. Jerks.”

Next week I’ll post pics of his second Halloween.

CHOC Walk – How Was Your Weekend?

Iron Jax group shot at California Adventure.

Iron Jax group shot at California Adventure.

Shortly after Jax died, my great friend Sam, who was working for Disney at the time in the art department, first told me about the CHOC Walk. He has worked many special events at Disney, and worked for this event and figured my wife and I might be interested in supporting the Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

I was hesitant. I was still deep into grief, and I didn’t want to walk around with a bunch of families celebrating the hospital that saved their kids. Ours died there. We can skip this.

But I told my wife about it, and because of her strength and her more optimistic outlook, we registered as a team. We figured some family members would walk with us. We didn’t recruit people to join us. But in six weeks our team went from maybe 10-15, we figured, to 80. We raised $10,000 as a team and Sam created the best logo for a t-shirt at the Walk, which we clipped capes on the back of. And Iron Jax was born.

On Sunday, Sam, his new wife and his mom, who has known me since the third grade, walked with 50 of our friends and family to remember Jax. To honor him. To celebrate his super hero spirit of life.

This is how the CHOC Walk weekend went.


Friday was wristband/t-shirt pick up night at my parents’ house. But unlike last year, only a  few people stopped by. Most packages were distributed in groups. We watched the Dodgers lose to St. Louis in extra innings in game one of the National League Championship Series. And the twins set a new record of sound decibel in that house when a couple of friends stopped by to play with them. Gray screams louder than Ellie and her 4-year-old friend combined. That’s not a good thing.



The early part of the day was pretty normal. Breakfast, play, lunch, play, nap. Because of my wife’s hard work and planning, we weren’t racing around working on last-minute details. She even grabbed some shut-eye.

Like last year, we booked a hotel room near Disneyland for the night before the Walk. It’s appealing to wake up, walk 15 minutes and not have to deal with the traffic of 15,000 people, many without their coffee yet, all driving to the same place.

But first we met my wife’s family at Buca di Beppo for a pre-Walk carb load. Her mom, aunt, brother and his girlfriend stayed in an adjoining room with us at the hotel, which makes for a fun time.

After dinner, we hit up the hotel to unpack. My wife and her mom went to Albertson’s to blow up balloons with a helium tank. They also brought back a six-pack of Shock Top and Lysol spray. Ever since nursing school my wife sees germs everywhere. The hotel remote. The floor. The bathroom. That couch. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY BARE BUTTS HAVE SAT ON THAT COUCH? You’re disgusting for even thinking about sitting on it, Seth. (She’s never said that. It’s just what I imagine is going on in that mind of hers).

While they were out, I got the kids ready for bed. Because two pack-n-plays take up a large amount of floor space, I thought it’d be smart to get two queen-size beds and each of us could sleep with a kid. It’d be Gray and Ellie’s first time sleeping in a big bed. So after I unknowingly tossed Ellie’s long-sleeve shirt into the hotel trash (which we didn’t discover until just before check-out the next day, after a 15-minute hunt for it), I loaded the kids into the same bed. It was 9:01 p.m. I figured they’d be up a bit, then quiet down. I went next door to hang with the others.


An hour later full of giggling, playing footsie and “Daddy” requests, my wife came back. They were too excited about this newfound freedom. Usually they just reach through the bars in their cages (cribs) to touch each other. Now they have no obstructions.

Gray finally fell asleep. Ellie, however, wanted to p-a-r-t-y. She talked to herself. Sang to herself. When my wife finally went to bed a little after 11 p.m., Ellie wanted to watch her play on the iPod Touch, or watch TV. Anything but sleep.

The whole idea of them sleeping with us was a bust. Our 5 a.m. wake-up call came far too quickly. I found a little sleep between Gray kicking me in the nuts and my fear he’d fall out of bed. My wife had similar luck. At one point, Ellie was turning herself around like the hands on a clock.


Fortunately my wife heard her alarm go off at 5 a.m, because I didn’t. She got ready, I showered and the twins woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I found a quiet moment to explain to Gray why we do the CHOC Walk, which they’ve been looking forward to. He stood on the bed next to me. I told him it is to remember Jax. And it was the first time I let myself have any emotion about the event. To avoid walking through streaming tears, I focus on the event aspect of it. What needs to be done. For the first time, my eyes welled with tears. Gray, normally go go go go, contemplated what I told him. It was a moment.

The twins were very excited.

The twins were very excited.

With the twins loaded in the stroller and balloons, signs and posters in hand, we hurried over to Disneyland to meet the rest of the team.

It was still dark. My face was puffy – dehydrated and full of Buca di Beppo’s sodium. Our team joined up and we made our way inside.


As opposed to last year, Disneyland had the Walk begin at Disneyland. Because of this, the Walk went much more smoothly. We didn’t get stuck in the same spot for 20 minutes listening to Phineas and Ferb‘s theme song on repeat like we did last year. Talk about a near nervous breakdown. Naw, this year was noticeably better. Kudos, Disney.

Our team weaved around Disneyland, into California Adventure and finished at Downtown Disney. Gray and Ellie jumped between family and friends after we unstrapped them from their stroller.

Gray and I.

Gray and I.

Ellie found older girls to walk with, and she went from being 2 to 12 in the matter of minutes. She ate up the attention, stuck out her hip at pictures and was in full tween mode.

Ellie with her girls.

Ellie with her girls.



Gray, however, hung out with me a lot.


And when we came across, Jake, his best friend in the world (or tied with Jack Sparrow), he freaked. The characters terrify him. He won’t let me stand near them even if I’m holding him. He starts to climb up my back to get away.

My nephew Liam, on the other hand, loved seeing Jake.

My nephew Liam loved seeing Jake.




After the Walk, my wife’s friend and co-worker gave my wife the a necklace she was wearing. The Walk was over. Everything went well. And it was time for my wife to unleash some emotion.


The day turned out as well as we could’ve hoped. We left exhausted but satisfied.

In all, our team raised $8,987. Thank you everyone that walked, sponsored a walker or donated to our team. It means so, so much to our family that you will help us to honor and remember Jax and raise money for a tremendous organization in his name.

Thank you.

On Monday, a friend of mine text me to say that my wife and I handled the day really well. She said she admired my strength. But it’s not me. I just follow my wife’s lead. She does all the heavy lifting for the event. I’m just a supporting actor to her Oscar-nominated role. And really, we don’t have much of a choice. What others see as strength, we see as our new life. We do what we have to do. For the twins. And to preserve Jax’s legacy. Our little hero.

Thank you Tim and Heather for your outstanding photos. I hope you don’t mind I used them here!

(T)GIF – I Hope You Like Spiders

As October rolls on, I celebrate with another creepy GIF for today. I kill spiders all day long in my house. It’s one of the two things I do well at home. But if I came across this anywhere on my property, I’m burn the whole f’ing place down.



T)GIF is a regular Friday feature at Smiling Through Tearz. Know of an animated gif that makes you tinkle with laughter, cry or cringe that you think should be featured at STT? Let me know at seth@smilingthroughtearz.com.

Life is Busy – CHOC Walk This Sunday


I’m at that point in life, which everyone hits, and hopefully not for an extended period, that life is just too busy. A lot of it has to do with the CHOC Walk coming up this Sunday.

I tried writing a post entitled Why We Support CHOC to explain the importance giving back in Jax’s honor is to us. It started like this:

Jaxson died at 9:26 p.m. at Children’s Hospital of Orange County on June 24, 2012. He wasn’t born a preemie or cured for cancer at the hospital, much like many of the participants for Sunday’s CHOC Walk 2013. For about three hours, the hospital staff did everything they could to save our boy. But it was after he left us that the CHOC staff’s grace, compassion and solace left an overwhelming mark on my wife and I. We lost our boy, but it was if they lost him with us.


The rest of it is deeply intimate and I decided against posting it. I tried to figure out a way to make it less intimate, but to me, it loses the impact. Just know that for us, it’s a very meaningful cause that honors Jax’s very special spirit.

At the time of this post, team Iron Jax has raised $7,314. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone that has donated, raised money and is walking with us on Sunday. Giving lasts until 10/31, so you still have time to donate if you wish. 

Last night my wife and I were going to pick up the wristbands and t-shirts for our team at CHOC’s office building. Since people in southern California lose their minds on the first rain of the season, the 91 freeway westbound turned into a giant parking lot. It took her 45 minutes to drive two exits on the freeway, sit in traffic, turn around, get some drive thru and head home. With the twins in the car. Yayyyyyyyyyyy her. Awful, huh?

I was going to meet her at my parents. Instead, my mom and I went down to the office to deal with the money and pick everything up. By the time I got home the twins had just finished their milk and were going to bed. I helped my wife sort the CHOC t-shirts, attach safety pins to the capes for the Iron Jax shirts and create some more fundraising goodies.

Between my new commute, the new job, CHOC Walk and everything, I feel like I don’t have time to get to the blog. I have ideas, but either no energy or no convenient windows to post. So bare with me. And I think we are about 50 hours behind on television shows on our DVR.

For those walking on SUNDAY…

You can pick up the wristbands, shirts and capes Friday night at my parent’s house starting at 5 p.m. The twins will be there and we’ll have light refreshments, so feel free to stay and visit. If you need an address or my cell phone number, email me at seth@smilingthroughtearz.com or hit me up on Facebook and I’ll get back to you quickly.

On Sunday, we’re meeting at the lockers at the left in front of the Disneyland entrance. It’s the same place we met last year. The even starts at 6:15, we’re meeting at 6, but I urge everyone to try to be there earlier. Traffic is going to succcccccckkkkkkkkkkk.

Thanks again to EVERYONE. We love you all, and we feel your love in return. And it means so much to us.

(T)GIF – Gettin’ Creepy

As you know, I’m pretty stoked about October. It’s time to get creepy. With that, let’s kick off a month worth of creepy (T)GIFs for ya. Good luck sleeping at night.



(T)GIF is a regular Friday feature at Smiling Through Tearz. Know of an animated gif that makes you tinkle with laughter, cry or cringe that you think should be featured at STT? Let me know at seth@smilingthroughtearz.com.

It’s October, bittttccchhhheeessss


It’s October, my favorite month. I don’t care what yours is. October is the best.

It’s finally starting to cool off in southern California, except for the week that the Santa Ana winds hit and half the region becomes a giant barbecue. The air feels more crisp. Sure, you people up in the northwest, east coast and Midwest can laugh. But the slightest chill to the air means crisp out here. AND IT’S FANTASTIC. The leaves turn from green to brown; it’s beautiful.

Football is well into its seasons (college, NFL). Our favorite television shows have returned to hopefully not start sucking. Homeland returned this weekend with LOTS AND LOTS of talking. We finally get to find out how Ted met his children’s mother, Parenthood is back and I have no recollection of how last season ended. The mom doesn’t have cancer anymore, right? RIGHT??? The Walking Dead and American Horror Story start back up. Great, two MORE hours of trying to cram in TV that my wife doesn’t want to watch with me. My DVR will want a raise.

But there are two main reasons why October owns my heart.


The older I’ve gotten, the more Halloween romanticizes me. As a kid, I don’t remember caring a whole lot about Halloween. I mean, sure I dressed up and trick-or-treated, and it was fun, but it came and went and that was it. Now, I find everything about the holiday enchanting. Black and orange are like the best color combination possible, right? Throw in some purple and holy crap why use any other color combos at all. Candles, ominous trees, fog, tombstones. Spooky is sexy.

(I love that commercial. This was from 2012. It’s a play-on of the Knott’s commercial for the regular park.)

At 14-years-old, a freshman at El Modena High School, I first went to Knott’s Scary Farm. That began an annual tradition of 12 consecutive trips to the fright farm. Until finally no one wanted to go with me. This year I’m going to Universal Halloween Horror Nights for the second time. Last year’s The Walking Dead tram ride blew my f’ing mind. AND IT’S BACK!


The week after Universal we’re taking the kids to Mickey’s Halloween Party. Two years ago we took Jax, then 3, and the infant twins. Jax was in heaven. And so was I. Fog oozes off the Rivers of America. Halloween music blasts from party spots. The villains are out, cruising around. And the haunted mansion is transformed into The Nightmare Before Christmas ride. I could sit outside the mansion, illuminated by candles and jack-o-lanterns, for hours. I feel warm and fuzzy gazing at the beauty.



I’ve seriously considered a cemetery scene for a tattoo. That’s how much I like the atmosphere. I’d get it along my rib cage. Which is really just blubber, and why I haven’t done it. It’d be like inking a water bed. Anyway, the image in my head, which I can’t describe, is black and white. A creepy willow tree. Crosses and unmarked tombstones, to be filled in later. But three marked tombstones – Presley, Jax and Addison. Fucking morbid, huh?

Baseball Postseason

Ever since I was 9, when I started Little League, fell in love with Wally Joyner and the Angels and memorized The Natural, I’ve been obsessed with baseball. To put it lightly. I’m a baseball fan first, an Angels fan second.


October 1 marks the beginning of postseason baseball. If the World Series goes a full seven games, it’ll end on the 31st. So pretty much, the entire month is postseason baseball. Every game matters. The intensity is ramped up. The pressure boils. My wife actually pays attention, it’s that captivating.

The New York Yankees aren’t in it this year. So that’s a bonus. I’ll be rooting for a first-round exit for the Boston Red Sox. And I’ll enjoy watching my friends and family live and die by each Dodgers game.

But all of it makes me miss Jax even more. I want to watch the Dodgers and Braves with the the lights out in our house, candles lit, fake jack-o-lantern glowing in the kitchen, my right arm wrapped around his shoulders and his head resting against my side. I want to watch his excitement after a collision at home plate or diving catch. I want him to be disappointed when I put him to bed in the 7th inning of a 4-3 game, only to tell him in detail how it ended the next day.

I want him to beg me to watch Scream. I want to watch him flip through the Halloween costume catalog as he flops between five different costume ideas. I want to carve a pumpkin with him. I want him to help execute my weekly plans to scare Gray. I really, really want to take him to Mickey’s Halloween Party again.


October would’ve been Jax’s favorite month, too. I just know it.