On my childhood

Son,

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.

 

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Proof I was a good kid

 

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.

 

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Me and your Uncle Jordan

 

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.

 

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Me and 1/16th of my homecoming date

 

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,

Dad

On 3 Month Olds and Plane Travel

Grading your performance on your first trip to Orlando.

On 3 Month Olds and Plane Travel

Son,

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.

Temperament

Grade:  B-

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.

Cleanliness

Grade:  B+

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.

Cuteness

Grade:  A+

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.

Sleep Factor

Grade:  B

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.

Overall

Grade:  A-

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.

On Your Mother and I – Pre-Reagan

On Your Mother and I – Pre-Reagan

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…

Just kidding.

Early dating

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.

RK Vegas

Living 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).

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Powell Peeps

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!

 

On Being a Son

On Being a Son

There is a song by Lee Brice called, “Boy.” I remember your mom told me to listen to it when she was very pregnant with you and she told me it made her cry. Naturally, since everything from Crest commercials to reality TV shows made her cry at that point of the pregnancy, I told her I’d listen to it and didn’t think too much more about it. But then I saw the video of the song and it made me tear up a bit too.

I think a lot of people make a big to-do about what it means to be a father, but there are things you need to do to be a good son, as well. I am lucky enough to be the son of two different dads, which is something I am proud of but something that I never want for you. Being a son doesn’t stop when you turn 18, or when you have a child of your own.

I understand you might not read this until you are older. And I hope that anything I might say to you now I will have the ability to teach you so that by the time you read this, these things are already ingrained into you.

Be honest

One of the most important things you can do as a son is to be honest with people, especially to your family. You are going to do things you aren’t proud of when you’re young and as you grow older, but a good man owns his mistakes and lives with the consequences. No matter what you do in life, no matter how bad, your mom and I will love you through it and help you however we can.

Try Hard

Your mother and I are going to spend a lot of energy trying to teach you how to use your brain and your abilities to make you into the best version of yourself, just like my mom and dads did for me. “Try hard” doesn’t mean you have to always get straight A’s or be the best one on your team, but it means that when you put your effort into something, put all your effort into it.

Be Polite

Kindness is the best reflection on your mother and I that we could ask from you. If you love and value your parents, be polite to everyone and show that you are a good reflection of us.

Find what you love and do it

The most important thing you can do to be a good son is to do the things that make you happy. Your mother and I will live through your joy and want nothing but the best things for you. Do not settle, and use every opportunity you can to find what you love, and surround yourself with people and things that will allow you to keep that love and make a life around it.

You don’t have to set the world on fire to be a good son. You’ve already showed me that you like dancing with me to good music (not that John Legend isn’t good music, but when you calm down to Tangled Up in Blue, it makes my heart happy). Your mom and I will do our part by setting a good example, and your grandparents will make sure you are showered in love. Your job is to just be the little man you are destined to be, follow your arrow, and be the best son you can be — I know you will!

03-14-18

On your Grandmother

On your Grandmother

There will be a lot of people who will be a part of your life. Your mother and I will probably be the most important, at least until you meet a girl, fall in love, and make a little blog like this one of your own. But your GM Whitt will be one of the most important people in your life, because she has been one of the most important people in my life.

You are lucky enough to have many grandmas and grandpas, and all of them will love you like crazy from now until forever. And I will talk about all of them at some point so you know where you came from and understand all the people who love you and who will shape your life.

But this is about your GM Whitt, and it’s no coincidence that this is being posted on her birthday. She is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. She is one of six children, and had to take on a lot of responsibilities helping to raise her brothers and sisters when she was just a kid herself. She has always wanted the best for herself and for her family, and you are so lucky that she will want the best for you, and she will show you how to get the best out of yourself.

You won’t meet anyone as committed as your GM Whitt. When I was younger, she sat through double-header baseball games, sometimes with your uncle Tyler and/or Aunt Paige when they were babies just so she could watch me play. She was able to move your uncle Jordan and I to Florida and get us acclimated to a new state and new school and new friends, all while going to school for he PA degree. She was bettering our lives by taking on so much, and she did it while still making sure we were having fun and having a childhood.

Your GM Whitt is super funny, too. I think she learned how to be funny from me, aka her favorite child. I think that means that since I am her favorite child, and you are my favorite child, the transitive property says you are the favorite grandchild (sorry McKinley and Cora!). She has a great sense of humor and, no pun intended, has more wit than anyone else. She can be sarcastic and caring at the same time, and she knows how to make everybody feel included, loved, and welcome wherever she goes.

Everyone’s age changes on their birthday, but your GM Whitt changes age differently than most. Last year she was 37, and this year she’s 43. It’s kind of a “wake up and see how old you feel” kind of thing for her most years, but she always looks years younger than whatever age she thinks she is every year.

I hesitate to say this, but your GM Whitt will give you anything you want. If you tell her you want to see the Pacific Ocean, she will book the two of you a trip in a week to fly out and book a hotel right on the water so you would wake up and it would be the first thing you saw. She writes letters to you and your cousins every week and mails them to you because she wants you to feel loved at all times. I hope that the two of you develop a special relationship and you let her take you on all kinds of exciting adventures like she did with me when I was young. She’s even taking you to England this fall for your first big adventure!

So be sure to tell your GM Whitt that you love her as often as you have the chance. Draw her a picture and pick her flowers and tell her that she’s pretty whenever you can. Find something that is special to the two of you. Make as many memories as you can with her, because those will be the best memories. Snuggle on her and sing to her and make her feel as special as she is whenever you can, because she will do all those things for you, plus so much more.

02-27-18