Sometimes when I’m mad at you after a bath, I’ll put lotion on your butt before your face.
A blog from a dad to his sons
Sometimes when I’m mad at you after a bath, I’ll put lotion on your butt before your face.
There are just a few days before you turn one, and I want to give you an idea of what this last year has been like for your mom and I. Before you were born, I think we were both very nervous about the costs of bringing a child into this world, the lack of sleep we’d grown accustomed to, and many other things that I have to believe most parents feel before they have a child.
The most important thing I can tell you is that I am most happy that you are you. What I mean by that is that your little personality, from the way you laugh and point out school buses as they drive by to the way you put your head down and crawl with intention, is so perfect and fits who your mom and I are to a T.
You’re a happy baby for 23 1/2 hours a day, and I am so thankful for that. I am more thankful that you’re healthy, because a lot of people we know aren’t as lucky as we are. I know this might not be the case forever, but I will count my blessings now because to this point, you’ve been pretty perfect.
Your favorite word is “dada.” Unfortunately, you call me “dada,” Rogue “dada,” Deb “dada,” and even your mom “dada” more often than she’d like. You also hit her with a “mama” which melts her heart, so maybe amp that up a little in year 2 if you want to keep her wrapped around your finger.
Your favorite thing is your dog, and he’s come around on you I think thanks in large part to your willingness to share your meals and snacks with him. We had one little incident where he tried to yell at you and “alpha” you, but your dad took care of that situation pretty quickly, and aside from a few iffy moments, that is all behind us. Still careful not to let you bang on him when we’re not right there, but for the most part, I think you two are besties (even if he wants to stand in between you and your parents to get some attention 99.9% of the time).
Your favorite food is anything your mom or I are eating, which can be eggs, pancakes, pizza… We’ve moved our dinners to 7:30 most nights because it can be a little tough to eat while you’re climbing up on us and trying to make our plant your plate.
You LOVE baths. Before bed, we will ask you if you want to take a bath, and because you’re so smart, you get excited, yell “bah!” and start crawling toward the stairs.
Side bar: I time you when you crawl up the stairs. I think the second or third time you did it, it was 32 or 34 seconds. Now you get distracted half way up, and can barely break a minute. Hoping this birthday will set you straight and we can get back to our speed work.
The best part about being your dad is that everything I thought I was afraid of, the money and the lack of sleep and everything else, is such a small tax on what has become the biggest joy in my life. I love everything about you and want nothing more than to see you grow up, explore, and find happiness. I want to be your best friend and can’t wait to play baseball and basketball with you, go golfing with your mom and your cousins (who have a head start on that, but your superior athletic genes will allow you to catch up in no time), go running and see you do some kids OCR races (I hope I hope I hope) and so much more.
I can’t wait to teach you things, and to stay up late with you watching movies, and to have secrets (it’s boy stuff, mom). It amazes me how much I want for you because it goes so far beyond what I want for myself, but I know that to show you how to get those things, it means being an example. I guess what I mean by that is you make me want to be better just for being YOUR dad.
This first year has been the best year of my life, and I can’t wait to celebrate your birthday with you. All your favorite people are coming (ahem, Gma), and I’m excited to turn the page to another year full of adventures, firsts, and lots of love and laughter.
With every ounce of my heart,
The other day, you turned seven months old. What this means is
You can pretty much sit up all by yourself, which is cool, and you’re eating solid foods. You’re in this “I don’t want my bottle in the afternoon” phase, which is not cool, but your mom and I are persistent and we usually get it down one way or another.
Last week, we took some family pictures in the same place we did our pregnancy announcement pictures. You did great, and the whole thing went pretty easily. We don’t have the pics yet, but I’ve seen some of the proofs and they look great.
We also took advantage of our pool for the first time this summer one day before it was set to shut down, despite the fact that it is still 90* outside — you loved it! Your mom and I figured you’d be a water baby based on how much you like taking baths (evidence below).
Your mom showed me a side-byside-by-side picture of you at one month, four months, and just now seven months all in the same chair. It’s crazy how much you change. You went from this little baby to this little boy with all the personality in the world and the biggest and best cheesy smile. I’m sure you’ll be crawling and walking in no time.
The other thing we love is you cruising around in your little scooter. We’re considering changing your name to “scoots” because you are a pro in this thing. Rogue is not the biggest fan of this thing, as you have a way of bull rushing him and he doesn’t know what to do.
Other things you are into these days are:
I just want to end this by saying that I love being your dad. I think you’re the coolest guy I know and I can’t wait to continue watching you grow each day, and see what the next thing you learn to do is because it’ll be just as exciting for your mom and I as it is for you!
Something that struck me the other day is that you will only know me as the person I am now, and will be in the future. You won’t know me the way your mom knew me, nor will you know me the way my mom knows me. And that’s OK, but I think it is important if you know more about who I was when I was young.
I grew up in a few different places. First, there was the little red house in Reynoldsburg where your Uncle Jordan and I lived with your Grandpa Rauch and Grandma (GM) Whitt. We had a lot of woods in our back yard where we would play with the neighborhood kids, and a church softball field where we would play baseball. I remember we would use big rocks as bases because the church would remove the bases when they weren’t being used. My two best friends were Eric Fryer and Trent Spangler. Trent’s grandpa had a baseball field named after him in Reynoldsburg, and Eric and I played baseball together for a few years, and he went on to play a little in the pros.
I also liked playing Nintendo, lining up Matchbox cars with your uncle Jordan and racing them from one side of the table to the next to see which was fastest, and watching football with your grandpa Rauch.
We moved to Hollywood, Florida after my mom and dad got divorced when I was about 9 or 10. I remember being angry about it for a long time, but as I grew up and saw how much happier each of them turned out with where their lives would go, I came to understand things a lot better. We moved to a city named Coral Springs, and it was more baseball and hanging out with my friends Zach Weiner, Johnny McPherson, and some kids around the neighborhood. We would rollerblade, play basketball at the park, listen to alternative music and wear Airwalk shirts and wallets with chains. I was a skater kid who could barely skate, but it was fun for me.
Also in Florida, your Grandpa Whitt came along and married your grandma. This was a big change for everyone, and I think I had a hard time with it for awhile because of the initial divorce. But I liked your grandpa Whitt and I knew your grandma liked him, and we eventually became friends. He ended up being one of, if not the most important people in my life. He showed me what it means to work hard and not accept things if they don’t fall in your favor. I hope he and I both can teach you those same things.
I came back to Ohio after a few years and moved to Gahanna where your Whitt family lived (and mostly still live). Around this time, your grandpa Rauch and grandma Anissa got married. Seemed like everyone was having babies, and your aunts and uncles (Tyler Paige, Mauri, Rese) all came about in those next few years. I think it was a unique thing to be the age I was and have all these new brothers and sisters in my life.
Baseball (again) was where I found my place, and between that and just meeting people in school, I made my group of friends. Middle school was a lot of fun. I would meet up with friends before school and play 2-on-2 basketball in my buddy’s driveway before walking to school. I learned to play saxophone, which led me to teach myself guitar.
High school was another fun time. I started playing golf and was on the golf and baseball team all four years of high school. My best friends were James Rice and Chris Nighland. They both played baseball and golf too, and we would hang out on the weekends. Chris lived with his grandparents who had a lot of woods in their backyard, and we took four-wheelers out to a campsite we made and camped out every warm weekend we could. We had parties out there, and I got into a little bit of trouble a few times, but mostly we just wanted to hang out and have fun.
I had a lot of jobs, too, when I was in high school. Your grandpa Whitt thought it was important for me to work hard, and I think that it helped me grow a lot and taught me responsibility. Some of my jobs (I probably can’t remember all of them) included carpet cleaner, bus boy, Abercrombie stock room worker, Gap salesperson, fence builder with your grandpa Rauch, Abercrombie warehouse worker, Uno Pizza cook, Lowes garden center worker (like, two times before I quit), and maybe some other ones in there. Some jobs I liked, and some I hated, but I always showed up and worked hard, and tried to keep a happy face while I worked. I learned a lot about a lot of different jobs, but more importantly, I learned how to work with a lot of different kinds of people.
As I grew up, I found that the most important things to me were friends, sports, and family. I learned that my parents cared about me, and when they wanted me to work or wanted me to get straight A’s in school (sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t), it was because they were trying to show me how to be successful in the “real-world.” I know that I will expect a lot of the same things from you as you get older, but I promise that I will only push you because I believe in you, and I will only expect from you what I know you’re capable of.
I had a lot of fun growing up. I had many crazy adventures and did some things that I look back on and think, “what was I thinking?!?” I took some chances, and was smart enough to say no to other things that I knew were not good for me. I hope to share with you as much of those stories as you’ll hopefully want to hear someday, and I hope that you share with me all of the fun and adventures that you’re sure to have as you grow up.
Right now, you’re only 4 months old, and there is so much adventure ahead of you. The most important thing I’d ask of you as you grow up is to have fun, be confident in yourself, and keep your mom and I as involved in your life as possible. We will be your biggest supporters for the rest of our lives!
Love your biggest fan,
There is a line in an Avett Brothers song that goes, “When nothing is owed or deserved or expected, and your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected. If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected. Decide what to be and go be it.”
Hopefully you will appreciate the Avett Brothers when you’re older because, if not, your mom, dad, Aunt G, and team Mayberry will all be very sad at you. But even if you don’t like the band, there is a lot of truth in that line, particularly the first and the last parts. To illustrate my thought, I want to focus on the last line, “Decide what to be and go be it.”
When you start something with the end in mind, you are working toward a goal and you’re free of circumstance. No matter what each day brings, you can navigate the challenges by deciding what action you take will get you toward your goal. Decide what to be doesn’t have to mean what your career will be, but decide what kind of person you want to be, and live each day in a way that makes that a reality.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t… you’re right.” — Henry Ford
Perspective is a powerful thing. I think when you’re young, and even a lot of people who are older, you can’t grasp the gravity of what these expressions mean. You might hear it, and say, “yea, I get it.” It’s the same thing as when I would tell you to start with the end in mind. If you take it to heart and adjust your perspective so that you make that expression a rule you operate by, you will find that you achieve those things you set out to achieve — you reach the end instead of stall along the way.
As you grow up, I promise to teach you to take on challenges with the end in mind, whether it be in sports, school, relationships, or anything else you ever need help with. I will show you how to visualize the things you want, and let the goal be your compass that guides each decision you make along the journey.
Decide what to be a go be it, son. And if you have confidence in what you want to be, there won’t be any person, situation, or circumstance that will keep you from that goal.
A yin-yang is a symbol that is shaped like a circle that is split into two parts — one side black and the other white. Within each side of the circle, there is a smaller circle of the opposite color, and it’s meant to represent the idea that there is good and bad (lightness vs. darkness) inside each of us. The idea is that nobody is 100% one thing — there is always a little bit of something else in every aspect of our lives.
Often times, a yin-yang can represent a relationship between two people. A perfect example of this can be understood with your mother and I, and our relationship toward music. You already know that I play guitar and sing.
I was never meant to give Justin Timberlake a run for his money in the talent department, but I do OK for it just being something fun that I enjoy. Your mom has rhythm. She can dance, shake her booty, and find a beat to just about any song and come up with some pretty entertaining/interesting/interesting moves.
The yin-yang of it all is that your dad can’t dance, and your mom…
…can’t sing (sorry babe).
Now I can bop around with you when we’re listening to music, and your mom can surprise me sometimes by hitting some notes when she’s feeling it (aka – wine), but for the most part, we are just two opposites that kind of make a musical whole (it’s why we’re a good match).
My hope for you is that you get the best of both worlds, and are a musical triple-threat — sing/dance/play. Even if you choose not to do any of those things, I hope that you’ll find a love for music through your mom and my efforts to sing, play, and dance with you as often as we do.
Bonus points if you follow my tastes in music. Your mom and I also have a little yin-yang when it comes to musical tastes. Her side is full of Timberlake, Beyoncé, things she used to dance at the club to in her red hat, and girl-anthem songs spanning the last 30 years (Janet-Clarkson). My side is a HOF-worthy playlist of modern classics, all-time great artists, and the unsung heroes that make up the fabric of quality music. You mom appreciates a few of the things that I play, and I will grant her that Timberlake has some ability.
Grading your performance on your first trip to Orlando.
This past weekend, we took you to Orlando to see you Mimi and Papa (I think those are the names that were informally chosen, but that might be subject to change). We took you on your first airplane trip, each way consisting of less than two hours of total fly time. Below is your report card for how you did on this Mother’s Day travel weekend.
Please note: while a majority of your grades revolve around the travel aspect of this trip, additional consideration was given to hours spent during leisure and non-recreational activities as well.
The flight down started well, as you slept for about the first 45 minutes of the flight. The next 60 minutes were divided into bouts of anger, mixed in with your mom and I bouncing like idiots to soothe you. The way back, you woke up right before the plane took off, and there was a pretty even split between light sleep, mild anger, cute sounds, and reading/toy playing.
There was only one “instance” that happened during the trip. While one bad diaper wouldn’t normally drop you down a whole letter grade, the fact that it happened the only time we visited your grandma’s friends’ house, and that the “substance of question” ran up your back and ruined your outfit does drop it from an A to a B. You get the “B+” because your mom and I forgot to bring the changing pad, and careful improvisation had to be done.
A-friggin’-plus, buddy. You know how to turn on the charm, even when you’re upset. You pulled out all the tricks — a bottom lip you could hang stockings from, the toothless morning smile from your burrito-swaddle, and how fly you look in your baseball cap! Flirting with girls on the plane, listening to the Ojays with your Papa, you passed with flying colors.
You napped like a champ, and it only took you a minute or two to go down for the most part. The biggest issue was sleeping through the night. You usually gave us a good stretch initially, but between 3:00-6:00, you liked to wake up and talk…loudly. You didn’t want to sleep on the plane very much, but we won’t hold that against you since it was your first flight.
The trip itself had a few bumps, but you did a pretty good job with the travel aspect and being a cool little man with Mimi and Papa. Your mom and I look forward to many more trips with you in the future, but maybe we’ll wait until you’re just a bit older before we travel (commercial) again.
I have talked a lot about your mom on here because, well, she is kind of a big deal. There are more things to say about her than I can do in any one post, so I will probably have a lot of these posts dedicated to her. This one is about how we met, and what we did in between that day and the day we had you.
It was a chilly December evening when…
Your mom and I were set up by a co-worker of mine at a job I didn’t like very much in 2011. Someone I worked with told me about a girl who worked at the Builders Exchange, to which I thought “jackpot!” I can’t remember why, but I only saw one headshot-style picture of her, saw that she was pretty (from what I could tell) and agreed to meet her.
My company was having a Christmas party, and I got her email and started talking to her to get to know her a little bit. I think my coworker invited her to the party, and I was convinced that there would be awkward exchange if we were just getting to know each other, so maybe we could get to know each other a little bit through email first, and cut down on the awkwardness.
Anyway, we emailed back and forth a bunch the week before the party, and I spent most of my work days trying to write the perfect response to her emails. We ended up having a pretty good time at the Christmas party, and decided to go out on a few more dates.
Things moved somewhat quickly between your mom and I, and we moved in together after about 6 months of dating. Her rent was up and I was house-sitting, living at your grandparents house while they lived at an apartment with your uncle Tyler and aunt Paige. She lived with me there for a few weeks while we looked for our first apartment together.
We moved to a two bedroom apartment in New Albany and learned how to live with each other. Apparently we were really good at it, because we decided not too long after to add Rogue into the mix. As much as we learned about each other when it was just the two of us, we learned a whole lot more when Rogue came along. We learned how to compromise a little bit, and what life was like when you had to account for another life all the time. We also got engaged a little while after Rogue arrived, and he helped to set up all the balloons around the apartment after I proposed.
Soon after we got Rogue, we moved to Dublin. We planned a wedding there and eventually got married (I don’t mean to blow through that part, but I’m sure there will be other posts that go into that in a little more detail). Your mom and I had fun in Dublin. We went on more walks because the sidewalks there were super wide and we could all walk next to each other. We looked at big houses that were out of our price range and talked about how we’d like to live in that house, but not that house, and when we have the money, we’ll have something like that!
I think it’s important to look ahead like that and dream a little bit. Sometimes, we would drive around country club neighborhoods with huge houses, pick out “the one” that we want the most, and talk about what we’ll do once we live there. In the winter, we sometimes drive around those big neighborhoods and look at the Christmas lights because they always look so good (except the color lights — ask your mom about color lights when you’re older).
After about a year and a half, we moved to Powell. We found a brewery and a restaurant we dubbed as our own, and your mom finally broke away from the corporate world and began working for herself. This, along with one last big trip, were the final hurdles we wanted to clear before we decided we were ready to bring a baby into the mix.
The last big trip came when we went to Ireland for a week in 2016. It was my #1-overall-top-bucket-list-travel-wanderlust place I’d always wanted to go, and we did. There were so many funny stories and memories made that trip! I can’t wait to go back someday with you.
Anyway, we got back, and began talking about whether we were ready for a “human puppy” as Rogue liked to say. Your mom thought she needed just one more trip, so we went to Savannah and Hilton Head for a few days. Once we got back, we were a little more sure that we were ready for a baby. Not too long after that plus 10 months, you came along and changed the game forever!
Why I won’t let fear hold either of us back.
When you are young, fear is a very real thing. Right now, you are afraid of your mother or I stepping away from you because you lose your sense of space. Your arms lock out and your eyes show genuine fear. As you grow, your fears will change into things your mind imagines, like scary things in the dark or movies about monsters.
Older still, you’ll begin to fear things like lost friendships, lack of popularity, or embarrassment in front of classmates. Then grades, girlfriends, money… If you are like your mother, you’ll be afraid of leaving your hair straightener plugged in or a candle lit, which will ultimately lead to the house burning down along with half the neighborhood.
The point is, there will be fear present in your life, in one form or another, for your entire life. It’s OK to be afraid, but the key is to not let that fear stop you from doing whatever needs to be done.
Let’s say you get a little older and have a fear of the dark — the unknown can be scary sometimes. When it’s time to go to bed, you might be afraid of things your mind might make you think is there. But you can’t let that stop you from getting a good night’s rest. That is what needs to be done, and you have to believe that you are braver/stronger/capable of defeating any monster that is dumb enough to hide in the dark in your room. Plus, you should remember that I also have special powers that can detect monsters anywhere within 100 miles from home, and if one came into your room, I would beat him up and send him back to Monsters, Inc.
Fear has a funny way of keeping people from doing things they want to do when they’re older. Grown ups get comfortable doing things that they don’t really like to do because it’s easy or they know how to do it. Just because we know how to do something, doesn’t mean we like doing it. We do something for so long, we are afraid to do something else sometimes because we have a fear that we will fail at it.
Grown ups have a great imagination when it comes to failing at things. We are afraid to exercise because we think we’ll hurt ourselves. We are afraid to leave our job because we fear that doing the thing we love to do won’t work out. We have a constant fear of not being good enough, so we continue to do the things we hate because there is comfort in complacency (that is a word that means doing boring things over and over and over again).
Here is the point of all of this. If I ask you to not be afraid of the dark, I should also ask myself to no be afraid of doing the things that scare me. Sometimes, starting something new can feel like standing at the bottom of a mountain that you need to climb. You might think that it will take forever, or that it would be easier to turn around and start your climb tomorrow/next week/ next year, but the truth is, the more you climb, the small the mountain begins to look. And before you know it, you’re at the top.
Here is my deal with you, son. If you promise to be brave whenever you are afraid, then I promise to do the same, and we both will achieve everything we set our minds to.
On Two Months
Reags, I promise I won’t post something about you every month. Today you are two months old, and as cliché as it is to say “how much you’ve grown” in that short amount of time, it doesn’t make it any less true. After the first month, you were still this tiny, delicate thing that just kind of ate, pooped, and slept. Now, you are a bigger, stronger, slightly less tiny thing that still mostly eats, poops, and sleeps.
Speaking of sleep, last night you slept the longest you over have! I think it was probably 7 hours in between feedings. Your mom and I didn’t know what to do. We woke up after six hours or so, and weren’t sure if we were supposed to wake you up to feed you, or let you sleep. We decided to let you sleep, and 30 minutes later, we woke up and had the same conversation. Finally, after seven hours, you woke up enough to feed, then fell right back asleep. Your mom just texted me as I’m writing this and told me you’re still sleeping! C-H-A-M-P!
Baths – no matter how upset or frustrated you are, once you get in the bath, you are a happy, naked dude
Bouncing on your ball/chair – actually, you love being held while your mom or I bounce you on your ball. You also love your bounce chair. When all else fails, bounce!
Letters from your GM – about every week or two, your GM writes you a letter that you are saving for a scrapbook. You might not know you love it yet, but you will
Kicking feet – whether you are in your chair or on your back in your play gym, you love kicking your feet
Dancing to Dad’s music – nothing against John Legend, Justin Timberlake, or Beyoncé (God forbid), but when you and I put on Bob Dylan or The Wood Brothers and dance around, you seem to enjoy yourself
Relationship with Rogue – I think you two like each other, but we need to work on calming him down when you get upset. Don’t worry, your mom and I have a plan
Nighttime routine – once you go to sleep, you’re out. But your mom and I would love it if it didn’t take two hours for you to get there
Other than that, you’re pretty perfect for two months, little man. You keep growing and staying healthy, and your mom and I will keep doing everything we can to keep you happy, healthy, and smothered in love.