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

On Reagan’s Special Day

Reagan, today was your special day. Your mom had the idea to go out — just you, me, and her, and make an afternoon all about you.

I’ve said it before, but I don’t think every post I write has to be able something bigger than it has to be — sometimes it’s worthwhile to just highlight a good day we had and let that be that. Additionally, I can already feel a twinge of guilt writing a post that will be about a day that was special for Reagan, but I think that I need to be OK writing to one or the other of you boys. I know there will be posts ahead that will be directed to Koen, but this one is for Reagan.

Reagan, today was your special day. Your mom had the idea to go out — just you, me, and her, and make an afternoon all about you. We built it up last night by making sure you were ready for your big day today, and teased a few of the things we were going to do. One thing I love about you is that your steel-trap memory made it so that the first thing you said to me when I got you up this morning was “today is my special day!/?”

[“!/?” means it was a partial statement, and partial question. Almost as though you were telling me it was your special day and looking for validation — or were you asking me if it was your special day in a way that would tip me over the edge just in case I was wavering?]

So for your special day, me, you, and your mom went down to Bridge Park for check out some ‘struction ‘quipment and make a day of it down there. First, we saw said ‘struction, then crossed the bridge and wandered down to the toy store. Your mom said you could pick ANYTHING in the whole store — two days before Christmas — I know, right? Anyway, you check some things out, and settle on a diecast toy VW bus (see it in the main picture of us on this post). Not exactly “big time move,” but you were happy.

Then we crossed the bridge again, got some lunch a Rebol, and capped the day off by hitting up the chocolate store. With your mom and I being pros in the chocolate game, we hit up the counter and got some good stuff — chocolate covered oreos, chocolate grahams, etc. Once again, we gave you a free shot at anything in the place, and you took a little chocolate santa. And I should say, Santa came only after we had to talk you out of some bottom-shelf chocolate coins that were probably the least exciting thing in the entire store — you’re welcome.

We had a little in the store, but you really dug into Santa once we got home.

Now I’m writing to you a few weeks past your special day. As time has passed, I think about how much I enjoyed spending time with you and mom and hope that we don’t have to wait until 12/23 again to do that!

Now this goes for both you and Koen — but while you’re brothers, you both deserve to be made to feel special because you both are just that — special. Taking days to celebrate one of you, or even both of you, are days that should be done often. Plus, your mom and I had a ton of fun taking you around and doing something different with you guys.

This is your unique, er… “special” new picture smile!

Anyway, this won’t be a long one (partially because it’s taken me 3 weeks to finish this!), but just know that you are special Reagan. Koen, don’t be mad, you’ll get a post too and I’ll remind you that you’re special. But its OK that sometimes, I acknowledge how truly one-of-a-kind you are and how blessed your mom and I are to call you our son.

Love,

Dad

On picking up where we left off

Son,

The last time I wrote to you was November 2019. To say a lot has happened since then would be the understatement of a lifetime — and some people say things like “understandment of a lifetime” and it’s more of an exaggeration — similar to the way people say “best night’s sleep EVER.” No. The best night’s sleep EVER probably requires a gallon and a half of melatonin and happens in a sleep chamber somewhere around the north pole where there is zero light.

To say a lot has happened to you, us, the world…. since November 2019 is the understatement of YOUR lifetime. Lets check the stats…

  1. You have a new brother
  2. You have a new house
  3. Lady Gaga won best song AND best collaboration on MTV Video Music Awards
  4. This thing called “COVID-19” happened and the world completely turned on it’s head
  5. Your mom and I bought and sold our first investment property
  6. Your mom got her real estate license and is in the process of selling her first house 5 weeks post-malone…. er, post-baby

…I know. Post Malone was all over the radio and still took the L. Wild year. But this blog is about you, not Post Malone.

In a lot of ways, the more things changed for us, the more they stayed the same. You’re still the same amazing little human you were last year. And when we ask you, you’re happy to remind us how smart/handsome/tall/cute/best eyes (you see all the things)/fast/strong you are.

You still see “Deb-Deb” three times a week. Your mom and I joke that you “go to school” when she comes over, because you guys are always reading, spelling, learning, or going to the pine tree park or walnut park.

You’ve also made friends with so many people around the neighborhood. To say you’re not shy when talking to people is an understatement as well. You love our neighbor “Todd,” who is the dad to two kids about the same age as you. You also like Ethan and Owen, Todd’s kids, but go out of your way to talk to Todd whenever he’s outside. You love talking about anything and everything with Miss Lynn, our next door neighbor. You and I have been outside a lot since we moved, and we always chat up Miss Lynn to let her know what’s going on in your world.

To be honest, there is really too much to try and sum up everything else that has happened in this past year, but just know that you’ve been absolutely amazing through all the chaos that has gone down this year, and through six week of being a big brother, you’ve been nothing short of amazing.

Looking forward to getting back to writing you more and to all the fun we’ll be having for years to come.

Love you, buddy.

Dad

On Becoming a Boy

Son,

You change every day. At the same time, you do so many of the same funny things every day. For example, you wake up and have the same conversation every morning…

Us: Goodmorning!

You: Two Mels! Boats. Mima, Papa. Hi Rogue! Mama. Two Mels!

Us: Can I have you?

You: No! Nap. Hi Rogue! Two Mels!

It’s really an inventory check on your crib items and a recap of the same dream you have every night (the same dream that you pre-plan every night when we ask you what you’re going to dream about — yellow boat with all your favorite people).

Lately, you’ve been making a lot of subtle changes that let me know you’re becoming a little boy. You take direction. Sometimes, you ignore direction, but you understand what we’re asking you to do. You negotiate. Sometimes you need your matchbox cars when you eat, and if I ask you to eat three bites to get your car, you might tell me “two bites.” Or, when we’re wrapping up watching a show (usually Peppa), you’ll tell us “one Peppa,” (which means you just need one more episode to get your fix).

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The other night, we got dressed up to go to a party. We usually rock the messy hair look around the house, but that night we put some of my product in your hair. You stood there and was patient while I put the pomade in your hair and brushed it. It was like you knew we were getting dressed up, and understood that you needed to be still while I got you ready.

You’re also just more confident in your movements. You still fall from time to time, and still blame stationary objects for getting in your way while you tornado through the house (no-no floor! Don’t you jump up out of nowhere and trip Reagan!). But, I don’t worry about you running from one room to the other. I don’t worry about you climbing on or off couches, or stepping off the step onto the porch.

The other thing, and maybe the most visual way, that you are becoming a little boy is that you’re just getting longer. You have little definition in your legs and your body is just stretching out. When you lay in your crib and spread out, you look huge. You still don’t weight a ton and you’re probably still on the shorter side of kids who are almost two, but to me you just look huge.

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I’m very excited to see you changing so much. You used to be so much fun just to look at, but now you are making decisions, having conversations, communicating your thoughts, making jokes, and everything else that makes you so much fun to interact with.

The other thing that has been fun is seeing you and Rogue interact. You now help pour his food in the morning and give him his pills. You also call him up with us when we go up the stairs and kind of double-tap your butt to get him moving. You tell him to, “lay down,” “sit,” and always give him a much bigger hello in the morning than your mom or me.

OK, son. All for now.

Dad

On No No No

Son,

Lately, you’ve been doing this thing that I think you got from me and I think I got it from my mom.

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But anytime you trip, or fall, or something bonks into you, or you just decide you’re mad at one of your toys, you shake your finger at it and say, “no no no!” It’s the funniest thing in the world because your mom and I see it coming from a mile away. We’ll see you running across the living room, and you trip on the rug and fall down. Sure enough, after a two second, hurt-but-not-hurt cry, you stand up, turn around, and “no no no” the rug. Nevermind you ran into something that literally just sits in the same place ALWAYS, but shame on that carpet for tripping you.

The other funny thing about it is the way that you say it. There are two ways. The first is when your little inflection kind of raises up with each “no.” The first no starts at a mid-range note, and jumps to a higher octave by the last “no,” which also drags out for an extra beat or two.

“no no nuuuuw.”

The second way you do it is with more of a stern, “I’m talking down to you” tone. In a way that you’d tell a dog (not your dog, though) “bad dog!” You furrow your little brow and look down at whatever it is, and kind of “nuh-nuh-nuh.”

The first way is kind of a warning shot, and the second one comes into play when you mean business.

Look how sad your dog looks when he gets the business end of your “no no no.”

The rub comes in when you run into Rogue and try to “no no no” him. Or worse yet, you “no no no” your mom or I when you are in a mood.

That, homie, is crossing the line.

And I recognize that we created this monster. I also recognize that we feed this monster when we laugh at you shaming the rug, or the water for rushing from the straw into your mouth too fast and causing you to choke. It’s like, slow your roll, water, I like you but I don’t LIKE YOU LIKE YOU.

I tell you all the time, but you are such a funny kid. I can’t remember where we were recently, but you said “HI!” to every single person who walked past you. I think we might have been out to dinner, and you will look at someone two tables away and yell “HI!” to them. Your mom and I talked about it, and while you make most people’s days a little bit brighter, someone might want to just be in their own space.

So, I guess, recognize that cuteness and funniness have times and places. The right time is most of the time, but not all the time. Ya dig?

Love you, buddy.

Dad

 

On TGIS(pring)

Son,

I love you. Your mom loves you. Rogue loves you, but that might be because you leak food like an old car leaks oil. But let’s be honest with each other, we need this warm weather so we can get outside.

Sure, we have passes to the zoo which has some indoor exhibits (hello, you’re a huge fish guy). And we have COSI passes, which is fine for taking a long afternoon (perfectly spaced between naps and meals, of course). We even have gone on some fun field trips to the Franklin Park Conservatory to see some butterflies. But for the most part this past winter, we’ve spent A LOT  of time….. indoors.

Now, we do a lot of fun things indoors. Some of your recent favorites have been playing with poker chips (usually before bed), looking at race medals, dancing to Alexa (next!), and snacking while watching Peppa Pig, Sesame Street, Dinosaur Train, and GooGoo and GaaGaa. Now, as much fun as we have all the time, you can get a little cranky when you get bored. Which is why having the option to go outside is something we all, your mom and I especially, welcome with hope and excitement.

Spring has given us a few warm and somewhat dry days so far, and we’ve taken advantage. You love walks with your dog, playing in your yard, and the occasional trip to a local brewery where your mom and I can settle in while you find some fun outdoors (we’re there with you, BTW. We don’t just send you off and saddle up to the bar). A recent fav. has been Nocterra, where we met another couple who had a baby a little older than you and, fingers crossed, we might have made some adult friends!

There is so much your mom and I want to do with you as the weather gets warmer. We have a lawn mower that blows bubbles, plastic tee ball set, plastic golf clubs, a fenced in yard with minimal amounts of sharp corners, a hose with a sprinkler attached, jogging stroller that may or may not have been recalled because the front wheel falls off (feeling lucky? let’s get a run in!), and tons of other things you are going to love and we are going to love watching you experience for the first time.

Now granted, you’ve lived through a Spring-Summer-Fall before, but you were a baby who couldn’t even roll, and now you’re a walking-ish, talking-ish, unstoppable ball of energy ready to get out in the world and take it over.

So here is to warm days at the park, lots of sunshine, snacks on the porch while we look for school buses, unplanned adventures, and maybe a few more trips to some breweries because it helps keep your mom and dad sane. We can still drink our milk and watch Peppa, but we’ll do that looking forward to getting to go play outside afterward.

On you being a “Taby?”

What it’s like living with a Taby.

Son,

Taby. I guess it’s an internet word that real people don’t use but is used to represent that special time in a child’s life where he’s not quite a toddler, but no longer a baby. Therefore, as the world you are growing up in tends to do, a word is made up and circulates around the web.

Taby. You are 14 months old and you are a Taby.

The taby-stage is probably the most stressful time for your mom and I because you tornado around the house like a madman, not quite walking but not quite running (ralking? wunning?), and crash into anything and everything at all times. You know you’re in the danger zone when your arms stick out at shoulder level (#frankenbaby), and you go charging out of view toward who knows where.

Another component of the Taby-stage is that you love attention from your dog, and you love snacks, and you love getting some serious attention from your dog when you have snacks. Typically, you make it rain Cheerios on the floor for Rogue as your motoring through the house. The fun thing about Cheerios is that they have no smell, so Rogue doesn’t always get all of them and we find lots of Cheerios in the carpet later that day, later that night, later that week. Why are there Cheerios in our office? Taby-stage.

You also love noise. Noise from your Taby-mouth, usually in a high-pitched, pterodactyl-shriek. If someone asks me what a typical day is like with you, I’d say something along the lines of “tornado #frankenbaby-pterodactyl Hansel-and-Gretel’ing Cheerios throughout the house with a dog-shadow close behind.” This might not make sense to some, but I feel like other parents would say “Taby-stage, right?”

Anyway, as stressful as it can be sometimes helicoptering over you and making sure a face plant into just about anything doesn’t happen, you’re more fun now than you’ve ever been. You’re still hilarious. You are more snuggly than ever. And when I call you and your mom when I’m leaving work and I hear “DADA!” screaming in the background, it gives me the biggest smile of the day.

It’s almost Spring now, and the weather is getting nicer and nicer. I can’t wait to take you outside so we can go running together in your stroller and play in the backyard where, if nothing else, there are fewer corners for your to find and more room for you to tornado around screeching as loud as your little Taby lungs desires.

Dad

 

On Being A Dad

Son,

Having you makes me reflect a lot on my own childhood. I find myself picturing going back in time as my adult self, and spending a day with my younger self. What would I say? Would my younger self like my adult self? Would I give  advice or just try to live in the moment and enjoy a day? Then I come back and I see you…

I get to live this “dream” of spending time with myself everyday that I get to be in your life. Anything I think I would want to do or say to my younger self, I get to do or say to you. Right now it’s all living in the moment, enjoying every step, mistep, “fall-and-go-boom,” tear, unexpected sound, laugh, cuddle, “Rogue, stop!,” “good boy, Rogue!,” dada, mama, and shriek whenever your mom and I are trying to talk when one of us is (or isn’t, God forbid) holding you.

I get to remember every first with you, and hope that you want to know more about your younger self when you get older. I can’t wait to see what things you’ll want to do together when you get older.

I think a lot about who you’re going to be when you’re older, sometimes more than I should. I think it’s selfish of me to want to see you grow up so we can do things together because I don’t want to miss who you are now. You’re so funny. Like, so so funny. You are fearless. Ever since you could move, you would crawl to the edge of the bed and try to “death-dive” off head first. I think you took your first steps in a bathtub (not exactly the easiest place to take a tumble).

But you’re also shy — when you meet new people, you tuck your head into your mom’s neck and grab the back of her arm. When someone gives you affection, you smile and look down.

You’re so many things and that is all the more reason I don’t want to look ahead, not even a day. Sure it’s fun to think of all the things you will be, but it’s also fun to admire all the things you are now. That is a big thing that motivates me to write this blog to you. I want to stay present and let you see who you are, and who I am when you look back.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to have you. You have been getting so big so fast. Last night, your teeth were bothering you and you woke up after having been asleep for 30 or 45 minutes. I was out at a work dinner, so I didn’t get to put you down, and when you couldn’t fall back asleep, I went up to put you back down.

When I picked you up, you put your head on my shoulder and mostly stopped crying, aside from a few little lingering sniffs that were hanging around. I think it was the absolute sweetest thing ever and I didn’t want to put you back down.

Being a dad is more than these little moments, but these are the things that I will remember forever — holding you tucked under my neck and head on my shoulder, half asleep and half calming down from heavy tears… It is these little moments that remind me that as much as I want to know who you will be in a few years, it doesn’t get any better than holding you and being your dad in the present.

I love you so much, son.

Dad

On Kelly’s Hair Salon

What happens when a mom’s love meets a momfail, and one little boy’s locks are on the line!

Son,

Your mom loves you very much. And your dad has been known to be a little stingy when it comes to spending money. Your dad also has decided a long time ago that he is willing to spend money on a good haircut. Your mom also understands the value of a good haircut. That is why it doesn’t make any sense that we send you to “Kelly’s Hair Salon” every time you need to get your haircut.

So there’s that. But the other side of the coin is that your hair grows like weeds, and it doesn’t make sense to take you to a place to get your hair trimmed every two weeks. We did do that once, and you did really well, but the idea of taking you 20 mins away every two weeks will a.) have my hair girl not like me very much since she didn’t charge you for your first cut and b.) it’s too hard to fit into your schedule as quickly as your hair grows.

So what am I getting at? The other night, we took you to Kelly’s Hair Salon for your regular cut.

Kelly’s Hair Salon

  • Owner, stylist, and only employee: your mom
  • Motto: it’s good enough, right?
  • Location: upstairs bathroom
  • Perks: snacks and Youtube videos of Mickey Mouse and/or BIG TRUCKS!

It’s a place like Cheers where everybody knows your name (and also knows your height, weight, favorite foods, etc. etc.). Normally you get what the motto suggests, but this past cut was something else entirely.

Here is you before the cut:

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Now you look like this:

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You see, your mom may have… just a teensy-weensy bit, more on one side than the other, kinddaaaa, Lloyd Christmas’d you. When we took you to get your haircut at the non-Kelly’s Hair Salon, your mom saw the hair girl doing some vertical scissor work, and she’s been on a quest to use the same style on you.

I will give her this. Before your last cut, you were looking pretty, pretty amish. Your mom would trim around your ears, but we like your long hair so we didn’t touch that, and the long hair up top caught up to the shorter hairs around your ears, thus giving you the amish bowl (sounds like a college football game in december between some D-3 schools in Pennsylvania). Make no mistake, the amish bowl is not something you want to be known for.

But then again, neither is the Lloyd Christmas. The good thing you have going for you is that you’re so cute you can pull it off. And as I’ve told her, the shape is good. It’s just the details that did this last cut in.

So where do we go from here? Your guess is as good as mine. Your hair will grow back, but will you or I trust Kelly’s Hair Salon to not make the same mistake again? Do we give your mom a second chance or cut her hair privileges (see what I did there?)?

Time will tell….

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We might have to rock this look for the next few weeks until your hair grows back!

Love,

Your Dad