On 30A and Our First Family Vacation

Boys,

Sometimes it’s easy to get into a rut when you journal/blog/write to your kids, where you think that if you don’t have something profound to say, then you just don’t say anything at all. But I need to remember that I can just talk to you and not have to have it be about anything at all.

With that, it’s been a few weeks since we got back from a trip to 30A (aka – Rosemary Beach). Your mom and I talked about finding a place like this to get a vacation home in a place like this, so who knows, if we end up somewhere on 30A, then this post might have a little more meaning to you.

As it stands, we don’t yet have that house and it’s more likely than not that neither of you will remember anything about this particular trip. With that, I figured it would be worthwhile to recap some of the things we did and some of the ups and downs of that trip from how I saw it.

First, the flights were unique. Reagan, you did pretty good the whole time. You were excited about taking off and landing, and were on your iPad most of in between those two things. Koen, you surprised us with a solid A grade on your travel down. We did stop briefly in Nashville for a layover, and honestly, that was probably the toughest time you had as far as travel goes.

We did a lot on 30A (in 30A? It’s a stretch of road with a lot of little beach towns with names like Watercolor and Seaside). We rented a condo with a golf cart, and Reagan, you would have just taken that to all the places and been perfectly happy. The weather was good-not-great. Mostly sunny and warm, but not warm enough to heat up the community pool or allow us to get in the Gulf (we did let the waves chase us up the beach). We also rented bikes and rode them every morning.

Koen, I think you thrived at a cool little collection of shops, restaurants, and live music stage across the street from our condo called “The Hub.” We stopped by most mornings for coffee where you got to explore the empty stage, and also most nights for some live music. You were fascinated by the live music and even put a few dollars into the tip jar for all the musicians.

We found a cool little town called Alys Beach where all the buildings were white, and we took the golf cart down to get donuts one morning. The other town we liked was called Watercolor, and they had really cool shops, some great food trucks and bar food, and was just a great place to watch all the people buzzing around.

This was our first trip with just the four of us. Rogue was with us in spirit, but told me before we left that he didn’t want to deal with the travel so he decided to sit this trip out. We had a lot of fun, there were a handful of stressful moments, but all in all, I loved being on vacation with you boys and exploring a new place along side you both (and your mom, of course).

I’m sure there will be a lifetime of trips like this, but there is something special about this one that I will remember forever.

Love,

Dad

On To Koen

Koen,

You are an amazing, wonderful, funny, sometimes psychotic, other times love magnetic, absolute honor-to-be-your-dad kind of kid.

There is so much I love about you. Your personality has exploded in the past few months. You love your family, and your dog. You will walk up to Rogue and tuck your head into him, just like you do your favorite characters in “Everything is Mama.” You love your dad. My favorite way to start the day is when your brother is still asleep, you and me get up early, come downstairs, I pour you a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, and you sit on my lap and we have a snack. It doesn’t matter what’s on — Mickey or sports — you’re happy to be there with me as much as I am with you.

You’re exploring your voice, too. You grunt, yell, change inflection, learn, forget, learn again. You babble. With your Mima, you ramble but with changing sounds and tones and it’s like you’re just chatting with an old friend. Your laugh fills up the room. Your cries also fill up the room, but that’s another post.

You’re playful. You cheers like the world is ending and you dance when you see your mom dance. You fit into our family so perfectly and I can already see a day when you’re your brother’s age now, and you’re going to be so different in so many ways. But there are going to be things that stay constant with you, too. I love your heart, your passion, your presence, your joy, and the way you look; asleep in the monitor.

No matter what our life looks like in the future, I will love you through the bad times, celebrate you through the good times, and awe in the boy you’re becoming.

Love, Dad

On Reagan’s Poop-Phase

This isn’t an easy topic to cover, but sometimes you have to call out your own son on some sh…

Reagan,

This is me taking the power back. As I write this, you’re less than a month out from your 4th birthday. You’re very kind, love trucks and construction equipment, enjoy playing in your room with me, and are just genuinely in a place where having fun is your top priority. However, you’re also going through a “poop-phase.”

Now this “poop-phase” isn’t like the horror-movie, enter the room and cue the shrieking sound effects, “decorate the walls” kind of “poop-phase.” It isn’t a “curiosity with the utility” kind of “poop-phase.” Thankfully, that side of the coin is kept mostly under wraps.

No, your “poop-phase” has to do with the word itself — “poop.”

The face you give every single time you say the word, “poop.”

I think being a good parent means that I should engage with you and ask you questions. I think I should challenge you to explain how you feel or why you reacted to something in a specific way. I want to stimulate your brain so that you expand your sphere and think bigger, outside-the-box thoughts that will change your world.

I think I might be a tad ambitious, because as of recently, your little brain just defaults to “poop” whenever I try to ask you questions.

  • Me: Reagan, what’d you dream about last night?
  • You: Poop
  • Me: You dreamed about poop? Do you have to go to the bathroom?
  • You: Poop!
  • Me: Uh-huh. Did you dream about anything else?
  • You: Pee
  • Me: Good talk, son. Go brush your teeth — excited to pick up on this conversation when you get downstairs.

Oh, and guess what song you want to listen to non-stoppity-stop on the reggie — The Poop Song by The Toilet Bowl Cleaners. I hope that you read this when you’re an adult and click on the link and it still works somehow and you listen to it and say to yourself, “why was I such a strange kid?” Guess how many unique words there are in this song — not 2…not 3….not 4…

Now I want to build a relationship with you and your brother where you can tell me anything — good, bad, embarrassing — whatever it is, I want to know about it. With that being said, too much of anything can tiptoe toward too much, and I think that is where your “poop-phase” has taken us.

Your grandma told me that your uncle Tyler had a “poop-phase” too, and that it was super annoying at the time, but funny looking back at it. I’m sure that is how I’ll feel one day, but I also wouldn’t be mad if we moved on from the “poop-phase” in the near future.

I digress. In truth, I know this is just you exploring your silly side and I love seeing you find your sense of humor. Everyday you and Koen become a little more unique, say and do new things that I’ve never seen or heard, and it becomes more and more fun to be your dad. Would I enjoy being your dad just as much without us going through this “poop-phase?” Maybe. Probab…yes. Yes I would.

Love you boys.

Dad

On “Leaving in 30”

Boys,

Your mom and I keep in pretty good communication – we more or less know where each other is at all times. Not only do we know each other’s schedule (so long as it’s on the CALENDAR!!), but we talk throughout the workday and keep each other posted on when we get places and when we leave places.

However, we each have this fun way of projecting this “best case scenario” type of a situation when we’re almost done with work, almost done with Bad Mom’s Club night(s), almost ready to finish doing the thing that the other knew we were doing and where we were doing it… and we say, “leaving in 30.”

This phrase is kind of the kiss of death for actually leaving in 30 minutes — it’s never happened. I’m notorious for doing it at work. I’ll be there, wrapping up my work after having seen the last of my patients for the day. I’m stacking my charts and all signs point to being done before long and I just have to do that one last thing that shouldn’t take too long, and I’ll be out the door and on my way to the car in 30 minutes.

And then it happens. There was one person in the back that needs talked to before I go. Or I have to stop next door for one quick thing that gets me pulled into a conversation with so-and-so and there I go into the time suck.

“I’m just about to leave.”

Now here are the rules – once the other one realizes that you weren’t able to leave at the predetermined 30 minutes from when you told them you’d be “leaving in 30,” you MUST send a text message that says, “still there?” Before you send this text, you have to check the “Find My” app to confirm that they are, in fact, still at the place they said they were leaving (now at this point, more than 30 minutes ago).

So when you’re called out, you have to deflect. Say anything. “I was going to, but…” “See, what happened was…” “I was literally out the door, when a giant alligator grabbed me by the foot and drug me back into the bar.” It doesn’t matter if it’s legit or not, you just have to state any reason that the 30 minute self-imposed time limit lapsed. Of course, it doesn’t matter to the other person, and any reason, valid or otherwise, is met with some kind of “mmmhmmm” or “GIF” of an eye roll from Luke from Gilmore Girls — that one usually hits pretty solidly.

Sometimes posts have a lot of meaning and I hope that you take away something impactful that you can use to be a better man or boy or person someday. Other times, posts are just meant to entertain and make you laugh and put a smile on your face. This is the first one – one of the really important ones. So, when you grow up and get married, just tell your partner when you’re leaving and it’ll all be fine. They really won’t care.

Love you, boys.

Dad

On The VIP Project and This Blog 2.0

Boys,

So this will be a post less about what I want to talk to you about, and more to do with two very big things that I hope take this blog — this idea of me talking to you throughout your lives — to the next level.

The first is what I’m calling “The VIP Project.” As I write this, all six of your grandparents are alive, and you have four living great-grandparents. Your great-grandpa Slee (Don) hasn’t been in my life since I was born, so I don’t think he’ll ever be someone we’ll talk about as you grow up. All I know about him is that he left your Tutu’s life when she was a little girl, and moved to Georgia and has had a new family since them. He had a son, which would technically be your grandma’s half-brother, but I’ve never met him. I think I’ve met your great-grandpa Don maybe twice in my life.

Then, both your great-grandma Rosi and great-grandpa Pat Whitt are alive. They are two very special people that welcomed your uncle Jordan and me into their family with the openest of arms when we were kids — probably 10 (me) and 8 (Jordan). I think it takes a special person to become a step-parent to two older kids the way your Grampy did — that is a conversation for another post — but it takes just as special kind of people to accept two new people into their family and love them the way they do their other grandkids.

Your other great-grandma Rauch, your Papa Rauch’s mom, is still alive. She was a much bigger part of my life, but I fear that you won’t remember who she was by the time you get older. I have a picture that I took in 2018 or 2019 of me, Reagan, Papa Rauch, and his dad (my Grandpa) out on The Farm in Newark. As soon as I had you, Reagan, I wanted that picture. Sadly, my grandpa died in August 2020, about a month before you were born, Koen. I would have loved to get another picture of him with the two of you, but never got that chance. I have so many memories of him throughout my childhood that I would have loved to hear from his side of things – to learn more about him and his time in the Army, or raising six boys, his love of flying (and sometimes crashing) airplanes, or where he got his sense of humor from because that is what always stood out to me most about him (and is probably where I get my playful side from).

This is why I want to capture a conversation with my grandma where we talk about her life, who she is and who she was, and what stands out in her life so that you can learn a little more about where you came from. This is the basis of The VIP Project. I want to talk to the people who will be the biggest impact on your lives and listen to who they are, what they might want you to know about them, and let them ask me questions that you might find interesting as you grow up.

So I am putting it out to the world to hold myself accountable, and hopefully it turns into something special that I can put pieces of on here, but also save that audio for you to revisit in its entirety when you’re older.

So, The VIP Project will segway this blog into version 2.0, which I see as including more audio and video content. I see the two of you becoming a part of this so that, again, as you get older, you can revisit conversations we have and listen to who you were and what ideas you had about the world when you were younger. I don’t think I want this to turn completely into a podcast-type of thing, but to record us (and your mom if she’s up for it) periodically so that we capture little moments with us.

So there it is. Some goals established and plans laid out. I’m excited to see how The VIP Project goes and I hope that I capture some valuable things for the both of you, but also for myself. I don’t know for sure where things will turn out once we get through everything, but I’m excited to see where this new direction takes us.

Until then, I love you both!

Dad

On Koen is Almost One!

Koen,

As I write this, we are about 12 days away from your first birthday. It’s crazy to think about all the stages of this past year. But just so you have something to reference, here they are:

STAGE 1: ‘So this is what all those sounds I heard from in there is all about’ stage

STAGE 2: ‘I understand sleeping, but I refuse’ stage

STAGE 3: ‘The hold me and bounce me or else’ stage

STAGE 4: “OK I’ll sleep at night, but all bets are off during the day’ stage

STAGE 5: ‘The hold me and bounce me or else — part 2’ stage

STAGE 6: ‘So these teeth are coming soon? Well, then everything hurts’ stage

STAGE 7: ‘Hey look I can crawl! But I still need you to hold me and bounce me or else’ stage

STAGE 8: ‘I’m on the carb-only diet, TYVM’ stage

Catch me outside

So that is about it. I was going to elaborate on each of these a bit, but I think it is pretty well understood what was going on during each of those stages just by the titles. At the end of the day, the important thing is that through all the holding, chasing you around the house, and angry meal time screaming because we’re trying to get you to eat something other than Ritz crackers, your mom and I kind of like you.

As a second child, it’s really hard not to naturally compare you to Reagan. I want to describe your looks, temperament, personality, etc. to the way Reagan was when he was your age. But I realize that as you look back and read this, that isn’t really fair to you. You’re your own person and while some things might be very similar, they are inherently yours.

SWAG

You’re very much a monkey-see-monkey-do kind of kid. Maybe it’s ironic that I call you “monkey.” But you love doing a voice, waiting for me to do the same voice back to you, and then doing it again. There is a game we play (usually when I’m changing you or getting you ready for a bath) where I’ll look away and wait for you to make a noise. As soon as you do, I’ll whip my head around to face you and you will just gut-laugh. Your laugh is one of my favorite things in the world. I will I could save it on my phone and play it on repeat all day long.

Another thing about you is that while you just started crawling not too long ago, it almost seems like you’re over it and ready to walk. You love pulling yourself up on furniture or toys and using those things to move around the room or around the house. I’m always nervous when you’re on the hard floor that the toy is going to move a little faster than you, and you’ll faceplant into the floor. So, you usually ask that I follow you around and make sure that doesn’t happen. (When we’re on the carpet, go nuts! I’ll be over here).

We’ve been on a few runs together, too. I don’t think we’ve done a 1-on-1 run yet, but you mostly enjoy going in the double stroller with me and Reagan. I’m glad we have a good running double stroller, but even still, you two are NOT easy to push on that thing. Actually, the pushing isn’t the hard part, it’s the maneuvering. There is a little bit of a wheelie-and-pivot thing going on and it is a momentum-killer. I’d say you enjoy our runs for about 85% of the time. But, if we stay out too long, you let us know about it. There was one time you had enough and we were about 2 miles from home. I think I broke some course records getting us all back, all the while talking you down and explaining to Reagan that it was really hard to keep a conversation about trains with everything else going on in those 15 minutes (he is such a talker during our runs!).

Rauch Run Club

Right now in our lives, there are a lot of bad things happening to the people we love around us. I don’t think this is the right place to talk about it, but ask me in a few years and I’ll let you know what was going on. But with so much out of my control that happens in this world, I am so thankful that you are healthy, more-or-less happy, and (along with your brother) bring me so much joy. I know all of that can change in a minute, but I want to acknowledge you now and pray that continues throughout your life.

I love that you are the one that completed our family. Your mom is great about getting pictures of you and your brother (and dog Rogue) up all around the house. And as I’m sitting here now, watching you sleep on your monitor, I’m looking at pictures of all the places we’ve been in such a short time and I am so happy to have all these great memories with you. I was running by myself this morning and thinking about the cicadas that took over earlier in the spring, and how it will be another 17 years before they come back — you’ll be almost 18 the next time they come back and won’t have any idea what these things are or how they got here. But I’ll think about this first year of your life and how crazy of a time it was for our family.

Derps for days

So cheers to a wild first ride around the sun, and cheers to a lifetime of new memories that we’ll look back on one day and cherish forever.

Love,

Dad

On Paw Patrol

Reagan and the addiction that is Paw Patrol — The Movie

Boys, — actually no, just Reagan for this one,

Reagan,

So I was literally in the middle of another post about changes that you boys are going through when ezyour mom decided to “free trial” Paramount+ so we could watch The Paw Patrol Movie.

Instant Side Bar: “free trial” Paramount+ the same way we “free trialed” HBO, HULU, YouTube TV, those things from Target, a new rug to replace the other rug that we’ll move where the other rug used to be, and those things from Target — yea we’re going to have Paramount+

I digress. I was in the middle of this meaningfully-charming post about the seasons of change in your young little lives when we started watching Paw Patrol and lets just say, we’re Chase-deep in some serious Rubble. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that its been two days, and we’ve probably watched that movie six times. Between your sleeping and napping, that is like 75% of your waking hours are spent watching Paw Patrol.

Now Paw Patrol had its heyday in our house probably like, a year ago or so. It was one of those shows that you locked in on for a bit, then moved on to bigger and better things (Blaze and the Monster Machines, anyone?). I mean, we did go as 2/5 of the Paw Patrol for halloween last year, so maybe I’m underplaying it. So when your mom decided to put it on, I thought it would hold your attention for a few minutes then you’d be back to Blazing with Blippi.

Second Side Note: Blazing with Blippi would smash on some PPV channels and YOU CANNOT TELL ME THAT THE BLIPSTER DOESN’T….

I digress. In honor of your new fav. movie, I’ll offer my cinematic take on The Paw Patrol Movie. Don’t worry, parents — no spoilers.

Reagan and his team of pups

Synopsis: The Paw Patrol head to New York Adventure City to save the city from newly elected Mayor Humdinger’s latest scheme.

What they got right: so my biggest issue with Paw Patrol has always been how Rider/Ryder(?) financed the whole Paw Patrol operation. I mean, it’s not like Adventure Bay is some booming tech metropolis, and yet here is this skyscraper of a command center that houses retractable slides, fire trucks, helicopters, a central elevator shaft which just has to drive design engineer’s nutty, and the whole thing, I’m pretty sure, is on some kind of a hydraulic lift for god knows what reason. But can you imagine the taxes those people must be paying to keep that operation running? There is a character who just bakes pies all the time, usually gives them away to the townspeople anyway, and he’s probably got to shell out $100,000 every month in local taxes. Beyond that, I’m pretty sure they also have a waterfront post that is equally as impressive — probably just to make Zuma feel good about his place on the team because, lets be honest, his inclusion in the Paw Patrol feels more like charity and less like necessity.

Zuma, a fisherman who spends half of his life on the water capsized and he’s over there treading water pretty calmly in the still bay water, take your million-dollar hovercraft over to him and shoot him a life raft!

What was I talking about?

Oh, so they do acknowledge how they can afford their new, and even more impressive, command post in the center of New York Adventure City which I can appreciate.

The story is pretty good and it is entertaining throughout. Each character gets to flex their importance to the team, with the exception of Zuma. he does save a family in the big climatic final scene whose car happens to fall into the only tiny channel in the entire city.

Can you imagine being Rider/Ryder(?) and doling out directions to the Paw Patrol and him being like, “OK guys – lot going on. Need you all to get out there and save the people in the city. Oh, but Zuma, just hang by that little piece of water so in case anyone falls in, you can jump in and get them back out. What’s that, Chase? Already shot a net over the water to prevent anyone from falling in? Great thinking! Zuma, take the night off, again.”

I digress.

What they got wrong: Zuma is still on the Paw Patrol.

-Dad

On Facial Hair

Boys,

Who am I to speak to trends decades from now, when other males your age may or may not find that growing facial hair is something worthy of pursuit? What I can speak to is that in today’s world, men of just about any age can coif a scruffy moustache or tightly kempt beard and look flier than a feather in zero gravity.

Before I continue, I should apologize. There are many things I will pass on to you both — rugged good looks, unparalleled athleticism, witty word-talk n’ stuff, and I’ll show you both how much one man can love his boys. But what I need to apologize for is that which I cannot give you — facial hair.

You see, I started getting facial hair the same time as most other boys my age growing up — 22 or 23 years old. However, my facial hair has always been thin and, frankly, embarrassing. After a few days without shaving, your mom would whisper sweetly to me that I look like someone who, if I were to do the things that she suggested I look like, would carry a minimum sentence of 25+ years.

This is actually a picture of me on my 21st birthday.

The point is, I can’t grow it and my guess is that you boys probably won’t either. OR — life will play a cruel joke on your dad and give you both glorious facial hair. And you’ll both probably wear it over when you come to visit your mom and I, braided down the chin like Aquaman or something — like I said, I don’t know what kind of facial-fashion 2040 has in store. And the nuts of it is that your uncle Jordan, Papa Rauch and all his brothers, even everyone on your Grandma’s side of the family…can all grow facial hair. Why can’t I?!?

You know, I made this blog as a way to kind of talk to you both as I am now to who you’ll be some day when you’re old enough to pick up on some of my humor and tone. I hope that as you age, you’ll appreciate these posts in different ways and I hope they are something you can come back to and find a piece of who I am, who you both were, and what our lives were like outside of the pictures and videos of us from this time.

But it’s also therapy for me to vent and acknowledge my shortcomings in a way that makes other people smile and allows me to laugh at myself.

So whatever you take from this, just enjoy the ride and I hope that you can find moments of brevity when you can step back and appreciate life’s silly moments. And if I can end on a poker analogy, a 2-7 off cracks aces 12% of the time, so make the most of whatever squirrely chin hair you end up with (or do the smart thing and just keep a clean shave).

Love you, boys.

Dad

On T.B.M.o.K or (your) Mom’s Night Out(s)

Boys,

Your mom is a part of a secret society and the very fact that I’ve said as much puts me in danger. As I write these words — July 2, 2021 — your mom and four or five other moms are standing on the driveway, wine in hands.

Since we moved to our house about this time last year, your mom has been assembling a network of other neighborhood moms to be a part of this secret society. Their HQ is the main bar at Kinsale. They’re fueled by white wine and High Noon. They call themselves… The Bad Moms of Kinsale.

Like I said, I’ve already said too much. Of course, I’ll have to keep from posting any pictures on this post so not to further put myself in harms way. This secret society of ‘Bad Moms’ meet up no less than 1x per month “officially,” but I’ve cracked their iCal and they’re getting together more and more on nights just like tonight.

T.B.M.o.K. are not a violent bunch, physically. In fact, they probably wouldn’t even be the most intimidating bunch at Kids Club, but what they lack in physical prowess, they make up for in volume.

Volume as in, like, turn it up to 11 not volume in the sense that there are a lot of them. I mean, there are a lot of them, but once properly lubricated, they’ll let anyone know who they are and… who they are.

WE’RE THE BAD MOMMMMMSSSS!!!!

all the moms, probably

Here’s the thing. If you stoke the fire from time to time and stay on T.B.M.o.K.’s good side, then you’ll be OK. Give them just enough encouragement to keep it within reason, but not too much rope to let them run completely wild. Could you imagine? We’d never see your mom again until we’d get word that she somehow overthrew the management at Kinsale and was pirating the clubhouse like Jack Sparrow on a rum charter.

Have you heard the story of the grasshopper and the ants? Long story short, the grasshopper controlled the ants because he was bigger/faster/stronger/#chaingamestronger than every ant in the colony, so he ran the show. But as soon as the ants figured out that by working together, they could drive the grasshopper out.

Here’s what I need from you, boys; consider this the first seed. Did you know that the word uprising comes from the latin word upris, which means to take action.

That’s not true at all. I made that up. But it would fit really well with where I’m going here, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, be the ant, boys. We can take back this house and take back this neighborhood and make it a respectable place to live. T.B.M.o.K. will have their time in the sun, but we, too, will rise and have our time to shine one day.

It all starts here…

-Dad