Monday, January 6, 2014

First Day of the New Semester

I set my alarm this morning for 7:15. I had a reason for doing so last night. Now I'm literally kicking myself. It was a poor decision. I had the opportunity to sleep for another 30 minutes. Oh, well. I can't remember why I wanted to get up a little earlier, so I guess I'll just live with the decision.

Today marks the first day of class of my final semester as a Senior. That's not to say that I am done with school. I have a whole year of ball I want to play. I hope to be able to accomplish that. However, it is a weird feeling, as real life gets closer. But I must admit that I am so grateful for the transition phase that has existed. I had an opportunity to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and while serving that mission I was able to grow up rather quickly. My experience was much different than others, and I reference it a lot, because for me, I felt more like I was being beaten with a rake than much else- however, I would now say that my mission experience gave me insight that I wouldn't have found anywhere else. While it has been ridiculously hard trying to figure out how to transition from the hardships of my mission. I will say that it was worth it, and it helped me grow up in a way that I think I needed. From High School to college, I had the mission transition, from that I had school, and though it's been a long shift in the paradigm of life, I feel as though school has slowly and gently prepared me for the real world.

I wouldn't say that I am 100% ready, I would just say that I didn't have to dive right into it. A lot of people here in Hawaii go straight to their jobs because school is so expensive, and unions can get enough money for employees to live on to the employees themselves. I think that's crazy. To jump from High School right into real life would be so hard I think. This transition phase has been something that I think will be a great benefit to myself, and my family.

Aleiah has started teething this week. The poor girl cries and cries and gets all snotted up, and any parent knows this, but it's hard to watch. She struggled pretty bad yesterday and last night. Man that extra little sleep would have been nice. 

Tonight is also another basketball game for the team. Mens' and Womens' teams both have a game tonight, and I get to do play-by-play for the womens' game, and possibly color for the mens'. That's something I really enjoy, doing this broadcasting thing. I really, really hope I can find a career in it.

So. I just thought I would get a little bit in here before class. That's all I have to say really. Another semester, here we go. It should be fun. Excited for tonight. The end.

--Brack

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year Ends

I haven't been good about keeping up the blog lately. In fact my last post was in October on Lejana's Birthday. Maybe it was the fact that I loved seeing her picture every time I opened my browser, or maybe it was that so much happened after that that I never found time to write something. Any way it happened, I suppose I'll quickly recap the last little while.

I blew out my knee. Not my right one, my left one. I did it on Halloween night. We were playing at the University of Hawaii, and I had just gotten into a groove. I drove baseline, and then it was gone. A fleeting second. A jump stop that would stop the season. It was gone. I knew it the second it happened. I fell to the floor, looked at Coach Wagner, and told him, "I just blew out my ACL," and then proceeded to cry.

I'm not much of a cryer. I used to be. When I was in elementary school, I cried at everything. I haven't ever really "fit in" in my life. It's not something I do well. Maybe it's because I'm a control freak, or maybe it's because I don't like to be pressured into things. I just like to do me, and it's always been that way- sometimes to a fault. I would cry in frustration when things didn't work out. I would cry in frustration when I got a small scratch or things weren't fair. I cried when I lost the election for student council president. I cried when our principal died. I cried when we played Kevin Lindquist's team at Open Court and lost by 50. I cried when Tela Gonzalez didn't like me in 7th grade. I was a cryer. I grew out of that. I'm not sure when. Somewhere in-between 7th and 9th grade. I was still different. I've had different interests and different forms of conversation. I grew up a little. But still different. It takes a lot to get me to cry.

My ACL did that. I cried. I swore. I was so angry. The bitterness was almost a taste in my mouth. I remembered doing the knee surgery in high school. It was so hard. Sitting out, watching my team go and play in North Carolina and Boston. That hurt. It hurt because Tyler Haws and I were the best players on that team, but the injury derailed all that. Tyler is a hell of a basketball player. I am not raining on his parade at all, please don't misunderstand- but I watched my team go play and get recognition that I couldn't get because I was now on the injured reserve, and my teammate, who I loved playing with, was getting all the recognition, and I would have liked to have shared it. When people think of that Lone Peak team, the one that went back to back first, very few people recognize my name. I was a great high school player, I was very important to that squad, but I am forgotten because of that injury. Maybe I sound proud, and if you think so, then you are very entitled to that- you may even disagree. I again, can't argue; it's just the way I saw it.

So I cried. I cried for a while in fact. The doctor had to ask me if I wanted him to take a look at my knee. I blubbered something, I don't remember. He didn't seem to feel too much pity. He looked at it, told me it was probably just a sprain. I knew better. It felt the same way my knee did in High School when I blew it out.


Laying on the table in the tunnel right after the injury, Stan Sheriff Center
It's been hard. I've watched some of my best friends out on the floor playing, and it hurts a little bit inside. My mom and dad flew me to Utah to get surgery from the best knee surgeon in the country (and I actually think that is a fact, not just me saying that), and my in-laws flew my wife and baby to join me. I got surgery on the 19th of November. Doctor Cooley said it went very well, which felt good to hear. I've been working on recovering since then. It's been tough, but worth it. Injuries build character I hear. Discipline. Strength to do hard things. I know this will help me in my family as we move forward, it just sucks that I had to learn it this way.


Lejana and Aleiah with me in that hallway. Lejana has been an inspiration through this whole thing
I would like to publicly thank my wife. I don't handle pain well. Kind of a wuss in that way. Lejana has been there the whole way to help me through this. She is so loving, and patient. I hope one day I can be more like her, because she has this amazing sensitivity about her that I am literally in love with, and I hope I can emulate and develop. I don't know what I would do without her. She has everything I ever wanted in a woman. Before we got married, I had dated a lot of awesome girls, and learned to fall in love, and what I loved- but when I met Lejana, and we started dating, I finally understood love, knew how to use love, and it was a truly amazing experience for me, and I find myself learning more about love every single day from her. She is an incredible woman, and I am so grateful for her, and love her very, very much. Every time I am down, she offers comfort, and reminds me that I can do hard things, and encourages me every step of the way. I, again, am so grateful.

Aleiah in the suitcase as we started packing for Utah
So, we were in Utah from November 5th, until yesterday. It was nice to be home with the family again. I haven't been the most workable human on the planet, and so living with my parents worried me a little, and while my aggressive nature led to a few fights, none were very big, and all of them were handled quickly.

I have the best parents in the world. It was so fun to see them interact with their granddaughter, and watch her interact with them. They were so cute and fun with her, and they were so helpful with Lejana and the baby as I was recuperating from the surgery. My dad, and my mom were champions. It was fun when my mom would come home from work, and literally run downstairs to see if Aleiah was awake, available to play. She'd give her baths, and was so cute trying to get her to talk and telling her often that she should cry and "tell [her] about it" and giving her kisses. And my dad would give her kisses under the mistletoe after telling her "oh, there's mistletoe, now we have to kiss... MWAH!" and reading her stories, and laughing with her.

The family (minus Marquelle, she came later) with Aleiah
Grandpa and Aleiah smiling and giggling about something
Marquelle dressed her up in this awesome outfit!! It was an amazing gift from our Aunt Dennalee
Glen, one of my best friends in the whole world loved her. Any time we were around, he wouldn't put her down
And she met her Great Grandma and Grandpa Funk for the first time
Like I said, it was good to visit home. Sometimes we forget how much we love our stomping grounds until we go back, and see our footprints, and remember the amazing memories and people that helped us make them. It was a lot of fun.

Aleiah grew up a ton. It was fun to see the every day changes that occurred. She went from the suitcase picture you see up there, and little alertness, to crazy uncontrollable spurts of attention requirement disorder, or ARD. It's where you have to have all the attention available, or you begin to cry... a lot. Here is a video of her highly overstimulated brain working out life. Please forgive my voice in the background:

video

We borrowed this toy from someone in the ward (the name for a Mormon Congregation) back home, and are so appreciative. She loved it. The exersaucer is a great invention! She would pine and whine for it. It was really cute. I loved when she would hold her hands out at it, and make the grabbing motion. It was so cute. So, so cute. Sorry... I get carried away sometimes.

Here's a few more videos/videos, including her unwrapping her first gift of Christmas on her first Christmas Eve, and Christmas. Laughing, rolling over, and some other stuff. All firsts of course:

video
Laughin' with mommy
First present ever. It was so funny to watch her try to figure out what this was
video
Just talking with her daddy. He's on pain killers so he sounds... high

video
Rolling over like a pro

video
This one is a little harder to see and hear, but she is trying to copy the noise I am making, and she's spitting all over
video
Unwrapping a gift on Christmas morning

And while it would appear that Aleiah is all that happened to us this year, you would be right. Our lives revolve around her, and that's just how it is. Lots has happened this year, though. We had a baby, our first anniversary, happinesses, sadnesses, joys, and fears. Here are a few more pictures of our little family:




















A lot of good memories from this year. The best part- I got to do it all with my best friend, and the love of my life. It's been a great year in a lot of ways. And I anticipate that 2014 will be an extension of the great things we've done, and the amazing family we have. Here's to us, you, and the new year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!

--Brack

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's Her Birthday!!

Today is the birthday of the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on, and before you clamor to google, it isn't some actress who's overpayment has led to some onslaught of drug issues and is therefore no longer attractive. It is my wife's birthday!



Lejana Leigh Funk is an amazing woman, who I probably don't deserve. She is loving, caring, kind, cheerful, happy, sweet, and tender. For those of you who know me- those really aren't my strongest suits. They are hers. She is an amazing woman who really knows how to keep our family together, and has a great disposition about everything she does. I wish that everyone had the chance to see her in action, because they would be amazed by the things that she sacrifices in our family.

Our family may be small, but it is busy. Playing basketball takes a lot of time out of my day. There are sometimes where I go to school around 8, and don't get home until about 6 P.M.; and this woman is so supportive, and so wonderful and I just wanted to shout it from a mountain... But I don't have a mountain, I have a blog. And so here is my wife, whom I love so very, very much.

And, in honor of the occasion, I offer my wife a poem for the world to read. I can't promise it will be good, but at the very least it is very heartfelt.


Hero

When I was but a little boy, I thought that heroes weren't real
Because all I saw was Superman fighting the bad guys who would steal
Spidey crawling on the walls, swinging through the sky on web
And Batman in his Batmobile fighting Jokers too instead

But then I met my Lejana Leigh, a girl who's full of grace
She showed me what it was to live, and feel feelings I'd misplaced
And now I know my hero, is the woman who swooped in to save me
and just like all the supermen, she is more than men can be

Heroes are all around, but none as strong as my wife
I know that I can be with her through forever and this life
She is my heart's companion, makes me sing when I'm awake
For her I'll reconcile, every one of my foolish mistake(s)

So keep saving me Lejana, your "Mansel" in distress
and I will laud your prowess, and say "hey, you look GORGEOUS in that dress"
You are my guardian angel, my goddess and my muse
And I will always love you, and promise that that is no ruse.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Media Fire, Today's Men, and My Outlook

WOW!

We rarely see the media fire that happened after the VMA's this year, with Miley Cyrus becoming some form of caged animal, and the many things that circulate around that. I have seen many articles that have lashed out at Miley's actions, which were out of control and atrocious- but only a few that have pointed at people like Robin Thicke- who are most likely to blame in this particular instance.

I just wanted to weigh in here, because I feel like I owe it to my children to at least have taken a stand. Here is my stand:

For years music has taken an artistic downturn. It's now becoming remixes of old time songs that are about fornication, lust, sexuality, homosexuality, clubbing, drinking, stripping, partying, drugs, or absolutely nothing. While I am not so naive as to claim that music has always been uplifting, or to beg for the olden days, I do pine for some form of quality in what we are producing in today's day and age.

Rap music is the bane of culture. It speaks often of the above mentioned categories, and objectifies women, often referring to them as "bitch", and many other degrading names that should never be sent towards a woman. The "unculture" that is cultivated by rap music (and its affiliated genres), I believe, has a strong trickle-over effect into the lives we see being lived today.

Somewhat related, we can look at how many years ago, a husband and wife weren't even allowed to be shown in the same bed on television. Now, almost every channel shows what is meant to be held in the highest regard as the highest form of love. Now it is used widely for entertainment- sexual intercourse has become as common as breathing in many instances. Youth use it to "experiment", and "explore"; affairs are rampant, and there seems to be no stop to this.

I am a religious person. I believe in God, and also his commandments which have been passed down from what I see to be the beginning of man until now. You may, or may not disagree. While I respect your opinion, I would like to point out why I think, regardless of it being a firm part of my belief, why our generation needs to push the stops back in, and calm down in not only our sexual activity (and I say our only because I am in the generation), but also in our media intake.


Reason #1 - The Children

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a beautiful illustration of how important the basic needs for not just ourselves, but our children's especially. It shows the core of human development, and is often referenced in psychological profile studies throughout the world. Here is an illustration and a simplistic explanation of the theory:
To reach the next tier, one must feel they have, or have fulfilled the previous section

One of the largest and more prominent arguments in academia, is that the feeling of love and belonging is difficult to achieve in a split parent home. When parents split time with their children they tend to compete for who is the "better" parent. This causes a fixed feeling of contention, and can often result in the children being unable to feel the love their parents have for them because they are so focused on the parent they are with- and the comments made about how the other isn't doing x, y, or z.

How does this fit in to the mass media issue I have presented? Simple. In an article in the Huff Post, Vicki Larson explores the issue of pornography in marriage, and how it can effect both spouses. She then shows a statistic that pornography was an issue in 56% of marriages (a statistic from the family research council). While that number is most likely facing a 5% error, that still leaves it above 50%, which is staggering. 50%+ of all marriages end in divorce in the United States (and that number is climbing), If 50% of those marriages is a pornography issue, that is a stunning number.

And even if a man were trying to quit watching porn, how could he even attempt to begin with all the reminders sitting in the quiet corners of everything we do. Music, television, radio, internet, email, even phone advertising. Psychologists talk about trying to reset your life to avoid the activity, or representation of the activity you're addicted to- it's in the seven step program we taught while I served my mission in Houston, Texas. Any addiction is hard to steer away from. Cigarettes, Alcohol, etc. But when this is around you every day staring you in the face- it would be extremely difficult not to dwell on it, and be sucked in to it.

If everything we do talks about sex. If everything we see shows sex. That's the ultimate goal of life- that is the thing that everybody is now aiming for- striving for. Our children become caught in the crossfire. How many families are broken because of premarital childbirth? How are those children going to feel when they find out? That's not a slap at single parents at all! But wouldn't it be so much easier to have two parents that can help raise a child from two points of view- with twice the manpower, and twice the energy? I feel as though that would be an important part of any child rearing. Family support is great, but there is a real bond between a whole family.


Reason #2 - Lower Risk

A study was done on 522 African American girls aged 14-18 in lower socio-economic neighborhoods. While this particular study isn't incredibly bulky in its participants, I would submit that the findings would be similar anywhere we were to look. For the article containing this study, click here. The study looked at their rap music to at-risk ratio, here's the results:


  • Three times more likely to hit a teacher
  • Over 2.5 times more likely to get arrested
  • Twice as likely to have multiple sexual partners
  • 1.5 times more likely to get a sexually transmitted disease, use drugs, or drink alcohol.

What we fill our minds with really does have an effect on our actions. If I spend all day thinking about doing drugs, I most likely will not do it. However, when I here someone else talk about it, and then continue to repeatedly hear it during the day; and then also begin to consider it in context with what I'm hearing, I am more likely to spend my day searching out the behaviors I condone by accepting them in my listening.

Rap music references sex, drugs, drinking, jail, and other high risk behavior in 72% of it's published "music" (if you can call it that). The music videos also tend to be very graphic, and can heighten the risk for youth that are watching it. For those of you Darwinists out there, that would be "monkey see, monkey do".

Reason #3 - Sexually Transmitted Infections/Diseases

HIV is often spoken of, and is a dreadful infection that can occur from sexual activity with a partner that already is infected. Because of the recent rampancy of sexual activity, HIV is continuing to boom. The World Health Organization presents this data:

Results of people living with HIV per year increases every year except 2009. 2009's death toll of people living with HIV was the highest on record.

HIV has continued to ravage the population of the world over the last 4 years as well, with death tolls reaching staggering rates, especially in well populated first world countries. The rates for all infections are continuing to increase, with approximately 1/4 of the population of the United States suffering from Herpes.


I'm not going to sit here and harp on sexual activity. My religious belief is that we should keep this sacred part of our lives sacred until marriage, and hold to that marriage forever. For those of you that don't, fine- but it is a fact that 80% of club-goers are looking to "get laid" when they go to the club, and even a higher rate (couldn't get a number) of young adults 18-24 use internet sex sites with paid subscriptions to find "lonely" partners to hook up with 4-5 times per week. This casual response to sexual activity (outside of my afore-mentioned spiritual realm) is unnecessary- instant gratification, as offered by the PEW foundation, often results in higher levels of anxiety in young adults, but also lowers their IQ and problem solving capabilities by 50%. Young adults who are able to wait for things, save for things, and focus analytically on any given problem, without oft being gratified in the instant have more meaningful relationships, careers, families, and are able to feel more efficacious about their role in society and the workplace. This constant pandering causes far too much damage, and not enough good.


My final thoughts are this. A phrase that I hear yanked around often in today's day and age is "YOLO", meaning of course that "You only live once". While that is a lovely sentiment, and surely what is oft accepted to be true- the world doesn't need YOLOers. The world has many future generations to come- our grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all of their children. If this world is to continue to adopt "YOLO" as it's anthem, people like Hitler, Sadaam Hussein, Fidel Castro- those who tear freedom out of the throats of those they are around, they will rise and drag this world down. If George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and all of the other founding fathers had drunk and clubbed their lives away, and sent their problems down to the next generations, the United States may very well still be an addendum to Great Britain. If Martin Luther King had started rapping obscenities, and accepting the fate that fell on him and his people because of overconfident pricks that felt like skin color meant anything, he simply would have proved them right. Instead, these men realize there was change to be had, and took out to do it.

All I am saying is this. Young people. WAKE THE HELL UP! It's time to stop partying every night, getting high, and surfing facebook all day. It's time to turn of the xbox (talking to me mostly), the computer, and get out into the world, find what needs changing and change it. Stop whining on facebook. Stop telling us what you're doing on twitter- find people. Find interests. Work for what you want. Stop frivolously pittering around with your lives, and let's find a common goal to advance for. Let's not only live once, but make a mark on society that helps us become immortal for the things we were able to do. We have so much power at our fingertips- but we waste it away on things that can never do anyone any good! Let us stand up, become men and women and not simply usernames and hashtags! This is my plea, and I beg for you all to join me in this endeavour. I'll see you making your differences. Thank you.

-Bracken Funk

Friday, August 9, 2013

Our Daughter Has Arrived

Birth is a miracle. A true, and incredible miracle. I don't know how else to put it. Whether it's your pet cat giving birth to a litter of kittens, or a bear in the forest birthing her cubs, or watching your wife give birth to your daughter, the whole process is a miracle. It truly is! I will say that clearly the latter of those examples is the most incredible to me, but it is such a miracle to see in any aspect of nature.

Aleiah Jay Funk, about 2.5 minutes after birth
Basic Birth Information
Length (Height): 19.5 inches (1' 7.5'')
Weight: 6 lbs, 12 oz
Active Labor Time: 26 Minutes
Total Labor Time: 12 hours
Birth Date: 7/07/13
Birth Time: 7:10 A.M.

Aleiah is such a blessing in our lives. We think she is the best baby in the world. She's quite mellow, and has a glow about her that I can't remember coming from any other baby I have held, pushed, or talked at. She's adorable. Of course I'm partial, and don't attempt to be unbiased. She sleeps well, she isn't too grumpy (which is surprising given who her dad is), and she isn't a fussy eater.

A lot of people have helped us out in a great many ways before, and after Aleiah's birth. We haven't the means to purchase and mail thank you cards. We haven't the means to send you flowers or cartoons. All we have is our heartfelt gratitude that we can express to you from the online regions of the universe, and to you personally, and even to others about you. Thank you so much for everything that you've done! We are so blessed for all the support, help, meals, and gifts that have come our way. Again. Thank you so much!

An interesting note about our daughter. She has an affinity for one tune, and one tune will calm her down when she's sad. It literally is a magic trick for Lejana and I. I thought I'd give you the music video version! This song will stop all frustrations usually.


And finally, Some more pictures of our daughter that are also on facebook, but that we might as well get on here :)






Friday, July 26, 2013

Almost There/Pensivity of Thought on Becoming a Father (A very long title, so bear with it)

Ladies and Gentlemen,
       Tonight is becoming increasingly closer to the birth of our little girl, and I have to admit that I am incredibly excited to meet this little miracle of life. Lejana seems to be consistently contracting, and that means that we could have a little girl very, very soon!
       So, now I sit here, typing away, bracing for whatever lies ahead. I have to be honest- I am straight-up terrified to bring a child into the world. I don't know the first thing about being a parent- I'm still trying to figure out how to be me, and trying to limit the mistakes I make every single day. How am I supposed to show this perfectly innocent little girl what life is, or how to behave, or where to go, or what to do, or how to do it? Isn't that a scary thought. I just feel so inadequate, and it scares the garbage out of me.
       I am very grateful for the loving people around me. That is a great blessing, and the examples that I've been able to coexist with have truly impacted me for the best. I just hope that I can put into work the things that I have seen, and be able to, with effort of course, help my daughter- whom I love beyond comprehension already- function as a proper figure of protection, learning, and help for her throughout her life.
       So there it is, my worries, my hopes, and my dreams- somewhat simplified.
       On the other note, Lejana is grabbing my neck right now, telling me exactly what I want to hear- she's coming, it's time.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Laugh for You

Here is something Lejana found that I think everyone will enjoy- learn how to sing like your favorite (popular) music artists! It's a thrill!!




ENJOY!!!


--Brack and Trip (Lejana)--