My Kids are Thankful For….


My wife asked the twins what they were thankful for as part of a Thanksgiving project she’s making for family members. She tends to bring some sort of craft or art project to family at Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings. And she always incorporates Jax.

Anywho, their lists gave me a chuckle, as I’m sure any list a 3 1/2-year-old creates, so I figured I’d share. Not all of these made the final list. Ladies first.

Ellie is thankful for:

  • Grayson
  • Movies (particularly Frozen and Cars)
  • Baseball
  • Turkey
  • Eating some food
  • Mom and Dad
  • Bears
  • Go Fish (the card game)
  • Shoes and crowns

Gray is thankful for:

  • Xbox (he doesn’t play it…ever)
  • Chicken
  • Liam (his cousin)
  • Going shopping with mommy
  • Having a turkey for Thanksgiving
  • For Santa’s hard work
  • Toys that fly like super heroes
  • Dad and Mom having a good time
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Batman
  • Baseball

And for Jax:

We are thankful for every moment with you.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


(T)GIF – Now Let’s All Remove Our Tats

I can’t imagine laser tattoo removal is as easy as the gif below. If I had a bunch of money to invest, this is an area I’d look in to. All those tramp stamps gotta come off somehow, right?

gif tattoo removal

(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

Tootin’ My Wife’s Horn

The last ten days have been full of photographs in our family. Two weekends have been spent at some parks scouting photo locations as my wife is shooting friends ours for their family photos. Yesterday a friend of ours shot our photos in downtown Fullerton, which we’ll use as our Christmas card. Assuming she knows how to Photoshop away my extra chins.

I just wanted to brag a bit about my wife and her talents. A registered nurse professionally, her passion is being creative, and photography is one of those outlets for her. Below are some shots she took at Bommer Canyon Community Park in Irvine during a scouting trip. Just messin’ around.

You’re rad and talented, wife.

DSC_0234 DSC_0204 DSC_0203-001 DSC_0167 DSC_0028

(T)GIF – Let’s All Go Get Tats

It’s Friday. You ain’t got a job. You ain’t got shit to do. I’m gonna get you tatted by the end of the day.

This is what getting a tattoo looks like in slow motion. It’s also how my chins jiggles when I walk. FML.

gif tattoo slow motion

(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

Picking and Eating Boogers Good for One’s Health? I think (s)Not

ralph picking nose

See what I did there? With the S? I spelled sno…forget it. Never mind.

A professor at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada hypothesizes that eating boogers may benefit the immune system. According to a CBC News article posted in 2013, biochemistry professor Scott Napper posed the theorem to first-year science students to illustrate how something as simple as picking one’s nose and discussing the potential benefit of the feat could lead to scientific advances.

As Napper told CBS News:

“All you would need is a group of volunteers. You would put some sort of molecule in all their noses, and for half of the group they would go about their normal business and for the other half of the group, they would pick their nose and eat it,” he said. “Then you could look for immune responses against that molecule and if they’re higher in the booger-eaters, then that would validate the idea.”

If this were true, (and I don’t think it is because, after all, THIS IS THE UNIVERSITY OF FUCKING SASKATCHEWAN! IS THAT EVEN A REAL THING? IT’S CANADA! THEY’LL EAT ANYTHING!), Gray would be the beacon of a healthy immune system. He’s going to live until he’s 118. Dude eats more boogers in a week than there are days.

We regularly catch him in the act, tell him to stop, watch him turn his head to continue in hiding and tell him it’s gross and how much it’ll make him sick. We’ve even told him his girlfriend Hayley won’t like him if he does it. Jax was the same way. There’s something about the mind of a 3-year-old Tearz boy that decides boogers are fucking fantastic, and parental shame be damned, they’re chowing down.

This must’ve skipped me. Honestly, I don’t remember ever picking my nose and eating the booger as a child. It’s disgusting. No, I’d just pick my nose, and then wipe the gooey things on the wall next to my bed enough to build a colony of crusties and pretended like they weren’t there. That’s how I rolled.

Since it skipped me, I can only assume my dad’s stomach was lined full of nose goblins until he met my mom.

Fortunately, Ellie is a classy broad (besides that whole propensity to be a stripper thing) and picks and wipes like a normal human being.

Earlier this year the web site dug in to the premise and determined that there is no known experiments to test the thesis. And they provided this fabulous “bonus fact”:

The correct term for eating one’s own mucus is the decidedly less off-putting sounding term: mucophagy, and according to the BBC, at least 10% of people who regularly pick their nose “occasionally practise mucophagy“.  Further, about 90% of the adult human population in the same survey admitted to picking their nose (a figure that climbs to 99% in younger people).  So the habit is oddly common considering the extreme taboo that surrounds it.

Vaguely related, in a college public speaking class our professor gave us an assignment to give a how-to lecture to the rest of the class. I forget the required length of the speaking engagement, but it was about five minutes. My dumb ass decided to instruct my peers how to pick your nose, roll it and flick it out the window while driving in a car. I never did figure out why none of the girls in that class showed an interest in me.

I do hope that someone decides to run an experiment to test the hypothesis and pay a lot of money to subjects which will include preschool-age children. We need to start building Gray’s college fund somehow.

It Happened Again

grief pic

Shattered Faith

Shattered Faith Part II

Shattered Faith Part III

At the risk of sounding like spirit stalkers, we went to another Theresa Caputo live show. It’s our fourth experience. I didn’t write about the third, because nothing happened. She happened to be back at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, the same venue Jax came to us, so we decided to give it another try. You might think we’re nuts. But really, we just want to hear from him as much as we can. If you haven’t read the our previous experiences, click the blue links above. 

Earlier in the day my wife explained to Gray what we were doing. The twins have watched a few recorded episodes of the Long Island Medium with me before, so he vaguely knows who she is. My wife explained she talks to dead people and asked him if Jax was going to show up that night. Gray paused and looked towards the sky.

“I think he’ll come down,” he said.

He was right.

* * *

Next door to the Saban Theatre is The Hill Bar & Grill, tucked away on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and South Hamilton Drive. It’s a cramped neighborhood bar which I’m sure locals avoid on nights that the theater holds a show. My wife, her mom, my dad, our friend Megan and I grabbed some dinner and I threw back a Maker’s Mark and a couple of Bud Lights before heading over to the venue.

the-hill bar and grill

As we people watched the always interesting Los Angeles population from the lobby of the venue, I felt a sense of calm. We found our seats, which were towards the front left of the theater, on an aisle, but well removed from the front of the stage. I didn’t expect anything to happen tonight. Nothing happened last time, and it was just great luck that Theresa came to us a year ago.

The show began exactly as it had the previous three experiences. While her jokes were the same, she didn’t dawn the disco ball heels this time. I mean, they were still sparkly enough to make Ellie jealous, but at least they were different.

Split the theater in half down the middle. Once Theresa began to let Spirit lead her, she started on the right half of the audience and spent about 45 minutes on that side. That sense of calm still flowed through me, caused by either the booze or something unexplained. At this point I’m just along for a fun night out in L.A. and a show. Theresa’s back faced us.

And then it happened. Again.

“Who here lost a boy that drowned?” she asked.

I looked around the theater as I felt my wife or her mom or Megan, if not all three, raise their hands. No one else in the theater did. It took her a couple of seconds to find us, but she did. My wife stood up and I just sat there like a sack of potatoes. I have no idea why. That calmness still weighed on me.

At this point, I’m just going to reel off what we can remember happening. It may not be in chronological order.

Theresa asked us if he drowned but shouldn’t have. She saw shallow water (this pool’s step extended about 10-15 feet out which he was last seen playing on) and lots of people around (a grandmother played with her grand kid right next to Jax, there were other kids in the pool and lots of adults outside of the pool looking on).

“He tells me knew how to swim,” she said. Jax and the twins were in swim lessons for about a month. It’d make sense that in his 4-year-old mind, he thought he could. But he couldn’t.

She knew I was at the pool that day with him, and asked if I tried to resuscitate him. I explained, no, but I was there when it was happening. She told us he was already gone. To give us peace that know matter which hospital he went to or what could’ve been done, it was already too late. My wife questioned this, and now, doesn’t have to doubt any more. Also, this matches what Theresa told us a year ago, when Jax told her he went in an instant.

She asked if we had a daughter, but then never followed up with that. Later she asked “What’s with the twins?” We told her we had twins. So did Jax show her Ellie or Presley? We lost Presley, my wife’s first pregnancy, at 16 weeks gestation.

As Theresa stood directly in front of us (only one row separated us and the medium), she looked at my wife only and asked if Jax wrote his name, and if she had a tattoo of something he wrote. She pulled up the sleeve of her sweater and revealed her tattoo, which is “Jax” written by him.


“Do you have a necklace you wear for him?” Theresa asked. My wife pulled out the necklace Children’s Hospital of Orange County gave her after he died. It’s a ceramic heart empty inside. We cremated Jax with the smaller heart that fit inside hers. She’s worn it every day since he died.

heart necklace

She asked us about the color green. I had no idea how that was relevant. My dad, seated to my right, spoke through a throat of tears. “We got him a dinosaur costume that was green that he loved.” I think this was a way for Jax to speak to my dad.

On Halloween a friend of mine posted charming photos of her son playing in the fields with an orange dinosaur costume. I replied in the comments below.

fb screen cap green dinosaur

On October 20, my mom text me a heads up that Gray was wearing Jax’s dinosaur costume. She didn’t want me to walk in to their house and lose my shit, as we haven’t seen it since Jax wore it.

“He was your side kick, right?” Theresa asked. “He would follow you around?.” If my dad didn’t believe before, this slammed the door shut on any doubt he had. Because calling Jax my dad’s side kick, or little buddy, is an understatement. They have a very special connection. My dad retired around the time Jax started preschool, and as my wife was on modified bed rest pregnant with the twins, my dad helped pick Jax up from school, take him to speech lessons, hang out at Bass Pro Shop, etc.

Remember that calm thing going on with me. It almost made me feel like a heartless robot. I didn’t shed one tear. I’m a crier. A year ago when Theresa spoke to us (I stood up that time) I sobbed. If anything was going to punch me in the gut and make me spill tears, it would’ve been the side kick thing. But it didn’t. Anywho, back to the show.

Theresa asked my dad if he had something in concrete with Jax’s writing. There’s a stone with his name and hand prints with gems set that stands in my parents’ backyard.

She asked us about angel wings. Three of us had different interpretations, I found, talking after the show. But during the show none of us spoke up.

Two nights before I talked to Jax out loud before I went to sleep. I told him about going to the show, how my dad was going to be there and would love to hear from him, how my wife would love to hear from him, and how he needs to mention something specific that only we’d know, so I know it’s true. I told him to talk about the Angels or Torii Hunter or something. Angel wings. Was this how Theresa knew to mention something about angels?

My dad thought it could be his mom, who died years ago. Earlier, Theresa asked us about the mother figure. My wife’s grandmother passed a few years ago, too, so it could be either one, or both. My dad’s mom had an affinity for angel wings. After she died, my cousin got a tattoo of her face on his inner forearm with angel wings.

My wife thought it could be a wooden angel wing decoration she almost bought online. She flagged it so if it goes on sale again she’d get it. Since we have four souls in heaven (Jax, Presley and two other miscarriages), she wanted it.

Or it could be all three. I don’t know how any of this works.

Theresa asked us about a vacation. We shrugged. That’s what people do, right? They go on vacations. Then she said she saw Disneyland. That’s her image for vacations. I explained we just went to the Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland, and he loved Disneyland and Halloween, so that could be it. Megan reminded my wife about the CHOC Walk, which was just two days before that Halloween event. My wife explained the walk and the reason behind it. He knows about it.

She brought up another memorial. She asked about a balloon release, which we did for the one and two-year anniversaries of his death. She asked about a lantern, which we tried to do for his first remembrance, but found out they were illegal, and a huge pain to do when we illegally tried to send a couple off after the park’s lights shut down and most everyone at the remembrance left.

She also asked about a tree or bench in his honor. A co-worker of mine got us a memorial tree, which we had planted in my wife’s grandpa’s back yard. Apparently Jax wanted to touch on all the ways we remember him.

Theresa talked to us for a shorter time than a year ago. And while skeptics may say she remembered us from before, or found info on my blog, or whatever (it’s crossed my mind, too), she brought up some very specific things she’d never know. The biggest being my dad’s side kick, and their strong bond. And just as a side note, at the last show we went to in Long Beach, Theresa acknowledged speaking to a woman she’s “read” to before. It was clear, looking in to her eyes four feet away from us, she had no recollection.

Theresa moved on to speak with others, and I just sat there, calm as all heck, as if nothing happened. I don’t know what my deal was. But I was still calm. And full of peace. And ready to move on knowing Jax is always with us. I didn’t have this feeling a year ago.

We carpooled back to my parents’ house where my mom watched Gray and a fever-fighting Ellie. My wife and I drove separately, and she drove the kids home in the minivan. Gray was awake, so she told him that Jax did come and talk to us. She asked him if Jax ever came and talked to him. He said no, they just played. She asked if that was when he was a baby or now, that he’s bigger. He said when he was a baby.

“Now his soul just watches over me.”

What 3-year-old talks like that??? We may have our own medium in the family.

(T)GIF – In Memory of Hank Conger

The Angels traded catcher Hank Conger on Wednesday to the Houston Astros in exchange for a young pitcher and minor league catcher. This gif is for him.

Conger, the Angels first-round pick in 2006, is a local boy. He attended Huntington Beach High School and grew up an Angels fan. I’m pretty sure he’s going to go to Houston and find the bat that made him a top pick now that he’s out Mike Scioscia’s “catchers only catch” grip (see Mike Napoli).

Also, this happened last year…

Good luck in Houston, Conger. I wish the Angels gave you the at-bats to succeed offensively in Anaheim.

gif hank conger

(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