On the Trenches: Part 1

And it was a grey morning and they all wondered how they would fare…

My dearest love,

I would usually use this space to talk to our boys, but I fear I might not make it.

It’s day three, twenty-oh-seven and we’re bunkered down. The General Reagan of the opposition has agreed to a ceasefire for the evening, and his understudy Koen is off duty in the barracks upstairs. Both sides are exhausted and you can see it in the infantrymen — swollen under-eye bags and marker-stained feet and hands tell a tale the history books will soon forget. The end is in sight, but certain casualties are still ahead.

The first shot was fired on a Thursday. Treaty talks had been ongoing leading up to that day, with Admiral Kelly set to leave town for important state matters on the coast. She was to gallivant with our allies and discuss important matters of high security clearance. We received word she had arrived safely and that important work was surely being done, but by then, the enemy saw their opportunity, and the gears of war were set in motion.

Our troops were caught off early with a hunger blockade. Captain Koen flanked us and refused to eat anything but goldfish for the whole evening. This blockade held our troops’ attention, all the while General Reagan used the cover of Koen chaos to inflict a tornado-storm of toys and little puzzle peaces all over the floor in the playroom. Possible chemical warfare tactics were employed on their own troops, as temperatures rose (physically and literally), as the opposition retreated back for the evening under the thin vail of Benadryl and Motrin.

Our other allies at Target and Amazon have kept us well-supplied with trendy clothes, humidifiers (both plug-in and free-standing configurations), and other essentials.

Friday saw reinforcements come in, and we welcomed cavalry from the nation of Juggle. They sent their most qualified and equipped girl Allison, who did her best to distract the enemy for a few hours, but even her best efforts couldn’t prevent further chaos and casualties.

BREAKING NEWS: 20:28 in the familyroom – ceasefire has been broken as General Reagan stood up and open coughed aggressively straight into my face. Treaty of Versailles be damned, there are no rules in war!

Troops were still showing signs of fever and fatigue Friday night, and the rest of the night saw medics tending to the wounded. Saturday brought signs of promise, as potential peace talks began during a shared breakfast of coffee, water, waffles and,” more waffle. No egg. No! Waffle. WAFFFLLLEEE!!!!” I took Admiral Reagan and Captain Koen to neutral grounds by the train tracks, with the promise of “maybe seeing a train” enough to lay the war to rest and begin times of peace. With spirits high, we attended a joint celebration of the birthday variety. This is where Captain Koen, ever the wildcard, unleashed the most vicious attack to this point of the war.

It feeds…

Of course, it started with a door. He was to man that post while his General had cake and went about his business very disinterested in the captain. As guest came and went, the ease at which the captain could man the door freely and as he chose became too much to bear. In an attempt to keep the peace and infrastructure intact, I attempted a maneuver to move the captain to a lesser traveled part of the house.

This was not the move he saw coming. Nor the move he would let slide.

Wild screams resonated throughout the house, and it was apparent that to prevent further casualties, we must take the battle back to familiar grounds. General Reagan sauntered about with the urgency of a runny nose to gather his water bottle and hat. As he trudged behind me and the captain, who was being held in a horizontal cross-grip because all tradition and pleasantries were out the window… as the admiral trudged behind, he slow dumped his water bottle down his shirt because he left the cap on the table.

Action has been slow since the enemy woke up from their mid-day naps. We were able to put the angry captain to bed without much fuss, but the night ahead includes a time change, which does give the enemy ammo for early morning aggression.

More to follow…

On The Butterfly Experiment

Boys,

A few weeks ago, your mom ordered caterpillars online that would become butterflies. They arrived and your mom quickly removed herself from any responsibility and further interaction with the caterpillars and left it up to us to ensure that life would ensue. She would, however, maintain a seat on the board so far as to question and criticize decisions and the general happenings of our new pets.

So the caterpillars came in a cup that had some food in the bottom they would eat for about a week or two. Reagan, you took the lead and made sure they got lots of sunlight and got to see lots of places around our house. Eventually, they grew, and we wondered if they were going to get too big for their little cup. The directions said they’d form their cocoons after 7-10 days, at which time we were supposed to move them to a bigger cage where they would become butterflies.

Simple 5 Step Process

Simple enough, right? Well, life doesn’t happen in a straight line. Of the six caterpillars that started, three or four crawled up and made their cocoon (chrysalis?). The other two didn’t seem interested, and I wasn’t sure if I should wait until everyone cocooned up, or if I would hurt those guys who were already formed and they’d hatch too soon in the sealed cup.

So, one night, me and alcohol decided that it was time to make the move. I left the cup in the bigger cage and the two guys who weren’t quite ready to cocoon would have their food supply, and could make the transition whenever they wanted in a bigger house. Or so I thought.

Now, I’d like to break from the linear flow of this post to note that your mom ordered these things in October. What we learned after the fact was that butterflies would not survive in sub-60 degree temps, and that fall wasn’t the best time to bring that kind of life into the world. At least not in Ohio. But nevermind that, she removed herself from responsibility and it was up to us to figure it out.

Fortunately for me, Deb took over a lot of the heavy lifting. Whereas I tried to use packing tape to fasten the paper sheet to the top of the cage, Deb swooped in and used clothespins to secure them. She also brought in some paper towels and lined the bottom of the cage, as some of the cocoons fell from their perch. She assured all of us that they would be fine, despite your mom being convinced every other day that we (I, really) surely killed them and that chances of survival were less than zero.

Eventually, they began to hatch, one by one. One of the last to cocoon never quite formed a full chrysalis, and it seemed like he might grow up to be a half-butterfly, half-caterpillar when he grew up (a halferpillar?). As they continued to hatch, we had to replenish a bowl with sugar water in it every so often, and Deb furnished the cage with flowers and chopsticks so that they could meander into their sugar water and exit safely.

These were truly magical times in the kingdom and all was well. You boys loved checking on the butterflies in the morning and Reagan, despite my best efforts to divert you, love reaching in and letting the butterflies land on your hand. We even tried to name them. One is Camille because she was feisty and had a red butt. The rest kind of look alike, so we named the rest of them Dan. Camille and the Dans. Another fun fact is that like most animals, butterflies poop and butterfly poop has this redish-brown hue to it. I think your mom still believes the poop is really blood and the cage is some sort of living crime scene where some butterflies were savagely murdered and everyone is just going about their day, but the truth is, they just cling to the side netting and poop down the mesh walls.

But like any good book or movie, the good times didn’t last forever. Dan-4, aka Halferpillar, didn’t quite blossom like his brothers and sister. Your mom and I each tried to “do the humane thing,” (if you’re reading this and not old enough to know what that means, I’ll tell you later) but Deb squashed that and held out hope for a full recovery. At last, Dan-4 half hatched and had these tiny little wings that couldn’t quite do what he needed them to. Sadly, Dan-4 did not make it.

Dan-4 is survived by his four brothers and one sister. Those who knew Dan-4 want him to be remembered for his charisma and can-do attitude. Unfortunately, his being grounded and down-to-earth did not serve him well since he was a butterfly.

Me

Today, we held a small service in the backyard for Dan-4. Reagan, you picked a spot in the corner of the yard and we wrapped him in tissue with some of his favorite flower pedals. I found a funeral song on Spotify and we said some kind words — I asked you to say something nice about him and you said you loved him. You then tried to dig him back up and I had to remind you that I wasn’t going to live in a house with dead butterflies. Also, not trying to have a Pet Cemetery thing going on so we just left him there.

So I think we all learned something from this butterfly experiment. Your mom learned that before she brings new life into the house and just because the box says you can set them free after a few days, that more research should be done so that we aren’t trapped with five-and-a-half butterflies who can’t live outside in colder weather and just splatter-poop crime scenes on the reg. I learned that one wife, one dog, and two kids is all the life I can preserve, and that I need Deb’s help if we’re ever going to bring another pet into this house. Reags, I think you learned that all good things come to an end (REP Dan-4), and Koen learned that he can continue to be a tyrant and still get whatever he wants because he’s scary when he’s mad.

Oh, and I think your mom wants to get you a drum set, Reagan. Looking forward to writing that one in a few months…

Love,

Dad

On Velcro-baby, Hey-Dad, and Trains

Boys,

It’s been a little while so I figured it’s time to check in. It’s summer and your mom and I are currently in French Lick, Indiana. We don’t get a lot of chances to go away without you boys, and while we do appreciate being able to sleep in (I haven’t been able to, BTW), we do miss you both a lot. Luckily, you’re in good hands with Deb Deb.

Bubble City

Koen, you’re going through what your mom and I call “velcro baby” phase. Basically, and I don’t think your mom would argue this, but I’m kind of your security blanket. If you get upset, you usually just look for me and run up and just grab my legs, stare at me with big tears, and hold on for dear life. Deb says I need to be strong and not pick you up, but you put the velcro grip on and I can’t get away.

Happy baby

Reagan, if Koen is in his velcro baby phase, you’re in “Hey Dad” (or Hey Mom) camp. Pretty much every conversation starts with “Hey Dad.”

Reagan: Hey Dad.

Me: Yes, Son?

Reagan: Um. I gotta tell you somethin’

Me: OK

Reagan: Um. I love you, Dad

Me: Love you too, buddy

You’re both very smart and it will probably frustrate you as you get older because you’re setting a pretty high standard that your mom and I will expect a lot out of you. Koen, you are 20-ish months and can say all your letters and pick out every letter if I ask you where a certain letter is. Reagan, you can pretty much read at 4 years old and you always surprise me with how much you know. The other morning, I was telling you about a trip to Japan I went on a few years ago and I was telling you how it was an island. I asked you if you knew what an island was (maybe a dumb question, IDK?), but you just gave me this “yeah duh, dad” kind of response. I guess that doesn’t necessarily show you how smart you were, but it made me think not to question you. Point taken, son.

Just normal human behavior

Reagan, you also LOOOVVVVVEEEEE trains right now. I was just running this morning, and there was this old, rusted out train near our hotel. And without hesitation, I had to stop my run and take a video of it because I know how excited you’ll be to watch it 1000x in the next few days once I get home. You also are in a phase where, nearly every morning when your sound machine turns green, you come down to our room, go pee in our bathroom, then jump up in our bed (whether we are in it or in the shower), and turn on Youtube train videos. Just one train after another, on loop, for as long as we let you. Eventually, we make you get dressed, and the train-dream gets put on hold until the next day.

You’re both at a fun age. You’re both also at a tough age because Koen, you’re just a few months away from really being able to communicate and, maybe more importantly, being able to be communicated to — not sure if that makes sense but I reread it and it makes sense to me. AP Style be damned! Reagan, you’re just headstrong and like to push the limits of your mom and my patience.

Either way, wrapping up and I love you boys so much. Until next time…

Love,

Dad

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 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

To My Son, Koen

Koen,

I think I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again — sometimes I want to write to just one child. Part of me feels like I’ve written to Reagan for two years before having a chance to write to you, so there is some making up I need to do. In either case, I want to write to you because I want you to know how special you are to me, your mom, Reagan, and our family. (Not to mention, your grandparents and just about anyone else who meets you).

Your mom sometimes calls you a COVID baby — I’m hoping by the time you read this, that won’t make any sense to you. But because you were born in 2020, the sad truth is that your birth year will also be remembered as the year that COVID-19 – aka “coronavirus” — took over the world. This was a time when everyone was forced to stay indoors and away from people. Because of that, you haven’t been acclimated to the world the way a normal baby would the first year of his life.

Chilling out maxing relaxing all cool —

Despite the struggle to find normalcy this past year, you’ve been such a bright spot for me. Sure, the lack of sleep didn’t earn you many brownie points with me or your mom, but you’re starting to get the hang of it and we’re actually starting to get some sleep at night (you + your mom and me). You getting a good night’s sleep I think has made you a happier baby throughout the day, and that is just a good thing for everyone.

Right now as I write this, you’re 7 months old. Its hard to say the things you like and don’t like, because you’re still figuring out this whole world-thing, but I think there are a few things that make you more happy than others.

  • Being carried — especially in this “strap-you-to-my-chest-facing-out” thing I wear. When nothing else works, I strap you up and we just walk around the house.
  • Baths – your mom is usually the one who gives you baths, but the amount of Instagram videos or pics there are of you, naked-butt, being held by your mom getting selfies in the bathroom mirror before your bath is borderline concerning — but it is super-cute and you eat it up so I love it too.
  • Bouncing- whether it’s in your bouncer or being held under your armpits and just hopping on my stomach, you like to jump.
  • Raspberries – aka the thing when you get your belly blown on and it makes the big fart sound.
  • Waking up from naps and seeing your mom or me – you are kind of startled, but as soon as you pick up on what’s happening, you get the biggest smile.
  • Your blanket — Reagan calls his “Mel” because it’s shaped like a giraffe and we named him after the character in Madagascar. Your looks like a lion, so we tried to name him “Alex” or “Al,” but we’ll see if that sticks.

I just want you to know I’m super excited to be your dad. We have moments like tonight where you and Reagan got up at the same time, so I got you out of bed and we went into Reagan’s room where your mom and he were sitting in his bed. I laid you down next to Reagan and we had a family moment and it just made me really happy. This is just a tiny taste of what the next 15-20 years will look like as a family, and I can’t wait for all the moments — both little and big — to happen.

In the meantime, I just want you to be happy. Keep on figuring this sleep thing out, then we can work on crawling, popping some teeth out, and turning you into the happiest, healthiest, perfectest little person there is. Your mom and I are so thankful to have you complete our family, and we both love you so very very much.

-Dad

On Sleep

Boys,

Now the thing about being a parent is that you’re unable to choose which child is your favorite. With that being said, if favorite child status were based on sleep — which it isn’t — then Reagan would be far and away the favorite.

Now I’ll say this: Reagan, you weren’t the poster boy for sleep when you were a newborn either, but your mom and I have been trying to go back in our minds and remember when it clicked and you became the great sleeper that you are today. It’s very possible that it could be later than where Koen is at now, and our brains just refuse to go back to that place.

I’ll also say this: I’m writing this to you boys the day after Koen decided at 3:45am that he was going to pull an all nighter on your mom and I, so there may be some level of bias in these words. Now three hour sessions like last night aren’t the norm, but they are more common than the “wake up once, take a quick bottle, and clock out” kind of nights that we’ve seen from you.

You’re cute, but not cute enough to keep me from sleeping.

Sleep is a funny thing. When you’re young like you boys are, you sleep all the time. I guess a lot of brain development happens when you sleep, which could explain why you’re a genius, Reagan. I can count on one hand the amount of times you haven’t slept through the night in the past two years.

As you grow into your childhood, sleep becomes something you almost resent. You don’t want to go to bed, try to stay up as late as you can, and generally have enough energy in the mornings to carry you through the day without ever really feeling tired. Then you become a teenager, and you start to appreciate morning sleep like you didn’t when you were a kid. I remember Sundays when I was a teenager and didn’t have baseball practice, I would try to sleep in until noon if my mom would let me. Then college comes and noon is an early day on a weekend.

But as you get older still, and the teen years and college are in the rearview, sleep starts to become something you, dare I say, look forward to. It doesn’t happen right away. You’ll find yourself in your mid-20’s, and midnight hits a little differently than it did a few years ago. You might have Orange Theory in mind for the (not-too-early) morning and decide to bypass that last drink in lieu of getting to bed at a “reasonable” hour.

Now you’re in your late-20’s or early 30’s, and bedtime is kind of the “event” of the evening. Like, you’ll go out to dinner and get a drink with friends at 7 so that you can be home, flossed up and in bed by 9pm on a Friday — big win! If you get a workout in on the weekend, better believe you’re going to at least get an hour on the couch while football is on TV (or Bravo for your mom).

Then come kids and that thing you’ve grown to love, that sweet sweet sleep…. just goes away. Baby naps are inconsistent at best, and parents never really get restful sleep at night in between feedings because the tiniest little movement or sound that comes out of your mouth gets a full sit-up and monitor check from both parents.

Parents make jokes about “going on vacation” to a hotel where they just go to bed early and sleep in. There’s a reason that these jokes hit home with anyone who has lived with a baby for more than a few days.

Listen, I love you both and I’m just venting because your mom and I are in the thick of it right now. I’m sure that, Koen, sooner or later, you’ll figure this sleep thing out and then your mom and I can count on at least a few good hours each night, which would be super fun. But until then, just keep being healthy, hitting us with those 3am smiles that make staying up with you a little bit easier, and we’ll all figure this thing out together.

Love,

Dad