On Sanity

Boys,

Websters defines the word “insanity” as “your two year old constantly screams at you the phrase ‘Koen (or “I”) do it’ while your oldest son constantly screams that he ‘can’t do it,” often times when referencing putting on clothes, riding a bike, or staying in his room for more than six second once he’s put down because he either has to pee (despite the fact that he peed literally less than five minutes ago) or because he heard a noise outside and needs to ask you what the noise was, even though it’s often times as obvious as a car driving by our house.”

It’s a weird definition but totally 100% true — look it up. So, if the word “insanity” means all those things, the word “sanity” would therefore be defined as “when two parents finally get both kids down to sleep and can daydream about a trip where they can sleep in, talk to other adults about things other than carwashes and trains, and after a day where those two things are accomplished, look at each other and admit they miss their kids a little bit.”

Believe it or not, there are some days where your mom and I are hanging on by a mental thread. You boys can be the sweetest, kindest, best eaters in front of others-kinda kids. But you can also be, well, insane. Somehow, I fell like every parent goes through this phase (some phases can last 18+ years, or so I’m told). I feel like every parent looks back at raising kids (once those kids are slightly older and slightly stable), and admire how difficult the journey was and how much they appreciate where those kids are now.

One time when I was a freshman in college, three friends and I drove my car down to Ft. Lauderdale for spring break. The year was 2005, and we weren’t able to get Waze to load on our Chocolate, slide-to-text cell phones. So we used paper maps to find the best route to and from FLA.

Two things happened while driving to and from that trip. One the way down, my car broke down, needed a new engine put in, and we had to take a greyhound bus from Melbourne, FLA to Ft. Lauderdale. On said greyhound bus, we literally overheard someone tell someone else they were just picked up from getting out of prison. Maybe this was a way to scare four kids probably wearing Hollister polos and cargo shorts, but it worked — we were a little out of place. Oh, and one of my friends was holding an 18-inch box TV because my Avalon hada power outlet in the back and we were taking turns playing PS2 from the back seat of my sedan.

PS – a greyhound is a public bus people had to use before Uber or whatever kind of teleportation you have now that you’re reading this.

On the way back, after greyhounding back to Melbourne to pick up my car (and now down two because their parents bought them plane tickets to fly home), on the way home while in WV, and again, using a paper map, we got lost and took what looked like a shortcut up and down Appalachian mountains trying to reconnect to the main road.

The point is, whatever happened on that trip is mostly lost. For one reason or another, I don’t remember much about what we did or where we went on that trip — although I’ve never been able to stomach Barcadi O since — but the two things that stick out most to me are what happened during the journey to where we were going.

Still with me? Picking up what I’m putting down? I think that is probably parenting in a nutshell. Things are insane when you focus on each of the moments, but as I write this and think about the journey to get to where we are, sometimes…., well, I kinda think I really like being with you boys and watching you grow up.

There are also certain moments, like the one now where Reagan is crawled up on your mom and Koen, you’re leaning against my leg watching a real-life carwash on Youtube just on repeat, that make me really, really happy. I’m sure in a moment we’ll tell you it’s time to go up and take a bath, and a chaos-bomb will go off and send everything into crazytown, but I also want to acknowledge that even though you two are absolutely, without a doubt, certifiably insane sometimes, I kinda like you both and hope that you look back on this time when you’re both older, and think that it was a pretty good ride.

Love you boys.

Dad

On Reagan’s Only Child Trip

Boys,

This one will be mostly about Reagan because this past week, we dressed you up like an only child and took you to FLA to see your grandparents. Koen, we had every intention of bringing you too, but you caught a little bug a few days before we left, and we decided to leave you home-home with Deb-Deb and Tutu. We decided very quickly as we checked in to the flight out and watched Reagan BFF anyone near a window with a view of any airplane that leaving you home was the right choice. Your mom was even feeling cocky enough to get a pre-flight drink while we waiting on the plane.

I also just need to include the fact that this trip has been planned and rescheduled 3-4x over the course of the past two years. The first time we had to cancel, we got Covid and pushed it back a few months. Then your grandma (Memaw) got it and we had to reschedule. Then another sickness or random hurricane kept pushing things back, so when Koen began to get sick earlier in the week, we almost decided that the universe was working against us and we’d never get to go to FLA. But since the rest of us felt OK, we decided to forge ahead as a family of three.

The flight down was pretty low-key. I sat with you, Reagan, and we mostly played on your Switch, drew on some design app on my phone, and talked until we began to descend into FLA. We saw the same woman you befriended by the window on the way out, and you were curious if she was going to join us at your grandparents. After we decided to go our own separate ways, we had Memaw pick us up and we drove back to their house.

So aside from spending time with family, I had an obstacle course race lined up for the day after we landed. It was to be my “coming out of retirement” race, but it unfortunately went the same way as the race that sent me into retirement went — ended with an injury. Some might point to me being a little older, a little less Crossfit than I was when I did this seriously, or that my little baby hands couldn’t hold up to an hour-and-a-half of grip and strength obstacles… whatever the reason, at the next to last obstacle, my grip gave way on a hold and I tore open two blisters on my right hand. I couldn’t complete the obstacle, and finished the race a little bummed at how well it had gone to that point and how frustrating it was to lose my place that late in the race.

However, happy I didn’t try to push it and feel like I am on the mend now that it’s been 4-5 days since the race. From there we headed home and decided to hang by the pool for the remainder of the day. We grilled out burgers and worked on setting up a giant umbrella for your grandparents. After a few hours of grinding with a nail file, a trip to the storage unit for some power tools, and the waining sun, we finally had some shade. Your PaPaw did most of the work, but we were there to supervise and make sure everything went to plan.

I have to say, you were feeling like the king of the world as the only grandson there. You had the whole pool to yourself, all the toys to yourself, and both your grandparents’ attention the whole weekend. The next day, we went putt-putt and you and Memaw beat your mom and I. It was close, but you guys were the winners and you couldn’t have been happier. Your golf game might need a little work, but you played all the holes and aside from a pee break that took way too long based on how hard it was to get to a bathroom mid-round, things went well.

We then picked up Papaw and headed over to their golf course where they work. We had lunch and talked to some of their friends there at the course before heading home and taking a nap. After that, more pool time, more attention for Reagan, and we finished the night with some pizza.

The next day it was time to say goodbye to FLA. I was feeling a little exhausted, and now that it’s been a few days, we realize that I ended up being a little sick. After I started to get better, you got sick and that is where we are now. All in all, though, we had a pretty great trip and your mom and I were happy that you got to get all the attention for a few days, that Koen got to get better and also get some Tutu-time.

Now things are settling back down and we’re all ready for Ohio weather to feel more like Florida weather. Reagan, I know you’re bursting at the seams to get outside as much as you can, and hopefully that happens sooner than later.

Until then, I love you boys.

Dad

On Reagan

Reagan,

This one is for you. I think when we’re all older and we look back at this time in our lives, we’re going to remember that I was Koen’s person. With that, he demands a lot of my attention, so I don’t always give you as much of my time as I’d like to sometimes. Your mom and I joke that I’m Koen’s favorite person, and mom is your favorite person. I’d like to think that she and I are both your favorite people, because you’re my first born son and I think we share a bond that only we’ll be able to understand (I was a first born son too, you know).

It think it’s worth noting that I’ve deleted and rewritten this a few times over the past few months. I think it used to be easier to talk to you this way (me writing to you) because it was harder to express myself and how I felt to you in person since you were so young. What I’m finding now is that you understand so much more and I can have real conversations with you in person. As I write this, I can’t help but to think how cool that is and what a fun age you are!

Cooler than me

But, as I imagine you reading this when you’re older, you might want to know a little more about yourself at nearly five years old. As an adult, I think my earliest memories are at about that age (not many, mind you). I remember my two best friends when I was that age who lived on my street in Reynoldsburg – Trent Spangler and Eric Fryer. Eric hadn’t moved in yet, so maybe that was a year or two later, but Trent and I used to play all the time. I remember going over to his house and watching Top Gun (his favorite movie). We’d play baseball in the big field behind his house and we’re ride his Power Wheels jeep (you also love driving your Power Wheels jeep).

The other memory I have from that time is a reoccurring dream that probably started for me at that age. I still have it from time to time, but it was more frequent when I was younger. I was alone in your great-grandma’s house (Tutu’s mom) and there was a monster upstairs. I had to kill the monster, so I remember walking up the stairs. It was an L-shaped staircase, and at the elbow where you would turn and head up the final four or five steps to the second floor, someone was there holding a blue and pink book in each hand. To defeat the monster, I had to choose the right color book. I chose pink because as a five-year-old boy, I remember thinking that blue was “too obvious.”

Stealing my style; swag on 10

For awhile, I thought about that dream and thought that it meant I was supposed to have a girl when I would get older and become a dad. But, I don’t think I ever believed that because I always felt in my heart that I was meant to be a “boy dad.”

There are so many things I love about being your dad — I love the playfulness we share and the energy you have for the things you love. I love seeing you grow and learn and stand out in whatever crowd you’re in no matter how big it is. I love how you talk — both your little country-twang that comes out every now and then, but also the goofy things you say that can come out of left field some days. Just last night, your mom and I were sitting downstairs. She was working on her computer and I was reading. You came out of your room (as you often do once we put you down), and go into the bathroom. Nothing out of the ordinary, until a faint little whimper comes out from the bathroom.

Side bar: this is a reoccuring thing you do. We put you down, you come out 3, 4, maybe 29 times for the next hour having to either “gotta go pee!!” or “I fell out of my bed and really hurt my arm.”

Anyway, that little whimper got a little louder when neither your mom or I acknowledged what might be happening up there. A few moment later, you come out and call down to us that the toilet seat fell down and hit you in the head. The mechanics of how your head was between the toilet seat and (presumably) the bowl are still a mystery, but your mom and I laughed pretty hard at that one after we assured you that you were OK and to go back to bed. Like I said, you just say such funny things!

In the dream, I never did see what the monster looked like or got to see if my choice was correct or not. I would always wake up after picking the pink book. At the end of the day, I don’t think it matters. What does matter is that you are the absolute perfect kid, even when you’re being a little too crazy, a little too goofy, or a little too excited to maybe stay down and go to sleep. Your mom and I are so lucky to be your parents and I’d go to the edge of the earth for you if you ever needed me to.

Love you so much, buddy.

Dad

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 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