On Confidence

My idea of confidence is constantly evolving. The more you’re willing to fall, and the more you’re willing to learn, the more confident you’ll be.

Boys,

Websters dictionary (dot) com defines…. just kidding. Truth is, I may have written to you, Reagan, about this before. I might not have. Either way, I think its important to recognize that even as a 35 year old man, I don’t always have everything figured out.

Its funny because I know that everyone reading this in the time I’m writing it (Feb. 22, 2021 @ 7:10 pm), would look at that and say, “yeah, duh. We’re all just making it up as we go.” But I have to imagine you boys stumbling across this when you’re eight, 10, 15 at the latest (or else I really let this blog go…). But I would like to think that at those ages, I would appear as though I have things pretty figured out. I know my parents were constantly in flux at that age, each in their own way, but I still believed they had their shit together.

…big mood

I do believe every year I get things a little more together. But I can also admit that when I evaluate my own ideas and thoughts, they aren’t always the same as they have been even a short time ago. And that’s OK! No one expects anyone else to have it all figured out. I guess this is just all a long-winded way of saying that my idea of confidence — confidence in my role as a husband, dad, even confidence in myself in who I am as a person — it’s all changed so much in the past year or two.

I used to think that confidence meant projecting I had all the answers. I used to think that to be a confident husband, I had to be firm in every decision I made with your mom — that I had to have the answer as soon as she asked the question and would have to be able to lay it out in a way that was quick to the point, but also profound and with deep meaning.

Working though the toughest problems.

I used to think that I would have to prepare 10,000 stories for any given situation you boys might find yourself in someday… so that I could sit you down as soon as you did something wrong and illustrate the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, love and hate… all in a way that would keep with you for the rest of your lives. I wanted to be able to tell you stories that you would use on your own boys when you were teaching them how to be men.

I used to think that confidence was something I had to project, when the truth is I was afraid to ask for what I wanted in life.

But confidence is something else entirely. Confidence is being comfortable with knowing that you don’t know a lot of times. Confidence is being able to confidently say to your wife that I know where we want to go in our marriage, and that I need her help in figuring out how best to get there. Confidence is watching you boys make mistakes, then sit you down and tell you that I don’t know the right thing to do, but that I’m planted solidly in your corner and I will do whatever I can to help you find the best path forward.

When I look back at who I’ve been the past 35 years, I don’t think of myself as having been a confident person. There were always situations I was more sure of myself than others, but I think I would look at more situations than most with an “afraid to fail” attitude, when I wish I would have looked at failures as an opportunity to learn.

Your mom has made me a more confident person, but I think that you have to find confidence on your own terms, too. Growth is something that is both exciting and terrifying, but critical when it comes to finding confidence. I’m sure you both will struggle at some point in your lives with confidence, and that is OK — it’s normal even! But you have the best mom and a pretty good (if I do say so) dad to help you along the way and make sure that you both will grow into confident men.

Love you both so 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 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:

86565f22-bf32-4873-bfae-f2eed047d02f

Now you look like this:

lloyd_christmas_-_Google_Search.jpg

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….

img_0564
We might have to rock this look for the next few weeks until your hair grows back!

Love,

Your Dad

On Music, Rhythm, and your Mom’s Singing

On Music, Rhythm, and your Mom’s Singing

A yin-yang is a symbol that is shaped like a circle that is split into two parts — one side black and the other white. Within each side of the circle, there is a smaller circle of the opposite color, and it’s meant to represent the idea that there is good and bad (lightness vs. darkness) inside each of us. The idea is that nobody is 100% one thing — there is always a little bit of something else in every aspect of our lives.

Often times, a yin-yang can represent a relationship between two people. A perfect example of this can be understood with your mother and I, and our relationship toward music. You already know that I play guitar and sing.

I was never meant to give Justin Timberlake a run for his money in the talent department, but I do OK for it just being something fun that I enjoy. Your mom has rhythm. She can dance, shake her booty, and find a beat to just about any song and come up with some pretty entertaining/interesting/interesting moves.

The yin-yang of it all is that your dad can’t dance, and your mom…

bless

…can’t sing (sorry babe).

Now I can bop around with you when we’re listening to music, and your mom can surprise me sometimes by hitting some notes when she’s feeling it (aka – wine), but for the most part, we are just two opposites that kind of make a musical whole (it’s why we’re a good match).

My hope for you is that you get the best of both worlds, and are a musical triple-threat — sing/dance/play. Even if you choose not to do any of those things, I hope that you’ll find a love for music through your mom and my efforts to sing, play, and dance with you as often as we do.

Bonus points if you follow my tastes in music. Your mom and I also have a little yin-yang when it comes to musical tastes. Her side is full of Timberlake, Beyoncé, things she used to dance at the club to in her red hat, and girl-anthem songs spanning the last 30 years (Janet-Clarkson). My side is a HOF-worthy playlist of modern classics, all-time great artists, and the unsung heroes that make up the fabric of quality music. You mom appreciates a few of the things that I play, and I will grant her that Timberlake has some ability.

 

 

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 Fear

Why I won’t let fear hold either of us back.

On Fear

When you are young, fear is a very real thing. Right now, you are afraid of your mother or I stepping away from you because you lose your sense of space. Your arms lock out and your eyes show genuine fear. As you grow, your fears will change into things your mind imagines, like scary things in the dark or movies about monsters.

Older still, you’ll begin to fear things like lost friendships, lack of popularity, or embarrassment in front of classmates. Then grades, girlfriends, money… If you are like your mother, you’ll be afraid of leaving your hair straightener plugged in or a candle lit, which will ultimately lead to the house burning down along with half the neighborhood.

The point is, there will be fear present in your life, in one form or another, for your entire life. It’s OK to be afraid, but the key is to not let that fear stop you from doing whatever needs to be done.

Let’s say you get a little older and have a fear of the dark — the unknown can be scary sometimes. When it’s time to go to bed, you might be afraid of things your mind might make you think is there. But you can’t let that stop you from getting a good night’s rest. That is what needs to be done, and you have to believe that you are braver/stronger/capable of defeating any monster that is dumb enough to hide in the dark in your room. Plus, you should remember that I also have special powers that can detect monsters anywhere within 100 miles from home, and if one came into your room, I would beat him up and send him back to Monsters, Inc.

Fear has a funny way of keeping people from doing things they want to do when they’re older. Grown ups get comfortable doing things that they don’t really like to do because it’s easy or they know how to do it. Just because we know how to do something, doesn’t mean we like doing it. We do something for so long, we are afraid to do something else sometimes because we have a fear that we will fail at it.

Grown ups have a great imagination when it comes to failing at things. We are afraid to exercise because we think we’ll hurt ourselves. We are afraid to leave our job because we fear that doing the thing we love to do won’t work out. We have a constant fear of not being good enough, so we continue to do the things we hate because there is comfort in complacency (that is a word that means doing boring things over and over and over again).

Here is the point of all of this. If I ask you to not be afraid of the dark, I should also ask myself to no be afraid of doing the things that scare me. Sometimes, starting something new can feel like standing at the bottom of a mountain that you need to climb. You might think that it will take forever, or that it would be easier to turn around and start your climb tomorrow/next week/ next year, but the truth is, the more you climb, the small the mountain begins to look. And before you know it, you’re at the top.

Here is my deal with you, son. If you promise to be brave whenever you are afraid, then I promise to do the same, and we both will achieve everything we set our minds to.