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 The #RauchdyRecap

Boys,

Yesterday, your mom and I finished The Match. I’d like to think you’ll read these as I’ve written them, just one per day, so you can follow along at the same pace things came together for this. It started as just a conversation, turned into an argument (albeit, a playful one), and led to a mini-event in the neighborhood.

I’m sure you want to know who won, so I want to provide you with a recap of how the actual match played out.

But first, let me take you into my mindset. The day started with normal pleasantries. My champion mindset knew that by keeping it low key, I could get into the mind of my opponent — chess not checkers. I knew the round didn’t begin at 5:10 as our tee time might have suggested, no… that was just when the golf started.

As I settled into my day, I kept stringing her along with texts like, “how’s your day going? Check this thing out or can you believe what so-and-so said/did/wore earlier?” Just straight mental games NONSTOP.

By the time we actually got to the course, I was living rent free in her head and she had no idea what was happening. Up was down and left was right. But you probably are curious how that translated to the results of the match.

…which is important. But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, at least according to my master plan. First of all, I wore the blue and black striped shirt she HATES to work that day. I was going to keep that on for the match, but made a last-minute decision to wear something fresh.

Strike one.

We then get to the course, and “ANDY” tells me we have to “ride in the same cart” because there was an “event there earlier” and carts were “a little scarce. Sorry.” Guh. Like, the nerve, you know? So your mom and I had to share a cart, which WAS NOT in my masterplan. This totally changed the dynamics, totally worked to her advantage since she loves me so much and I couldn’t isolate her both mentally and physically on the course.

Strike two.

Then, the tee opens up a few minutes early and we get to tee off at 5:05 instead of 5:10. Could the universe be any more against me? I mean, come on!

Strike three. You’re out.

But that didn’t stop me from watching your mom hit a decent-shot-I-guess-if-fairways-are-good-kinda-shot, then blowing it by her to the right rough, exactly where I wanted to be. A green, two-putt, and par saw me take the lead by one going into the second hole.

I followed that up with another monster, this time 51 yards or so past your mom down the second fairway. Your mom was so shook, she topped her approach and left it 30 yards or so from the green. I felt like Tyson who could have put her away with a first round KO, but I wanted to cat-and-mouse her for a bit, so I put mine in the water. Despite the (obvious to everyone) gift, I still came out one shot ahead of her on the 2nd hole. Two up through two holes.

So who won? I think we all won. The community at large got to see something they thought was, dare I say, impossible? The notoriety Kinsale probably got from the windfall of this whole event probably earned them millions in future earnings. I’m sure they’ll comp our membership this next year as a “thank you” for that. And I think you both won for having the kind of dad parents that are so awesome at golf.

But, I guess if you “counted strokes,” you would find that your mom hit a few less than I did. I guess her 200-yard tee shot on #4 over a bunker and to about 20 feet was fine. And that the four shots she hit on #6 to make par were kind of pure. Maybe being up one going into the last hole and grinding out a par could be considered ultra-clutch, especially when a few shots didn’t come out the way she wanted.

They say history books are written by winners. So until you show me her blog about who the real winner of The Match was, you tell me who won The Match? The one who hit fewer shots, or the one who captured the hearts, minds, and imaginations of a community, brought people together both digitally and in person, and sent shockwaves through the golfing world from just a tiny corner of Powell.

Until next year… Love,

Dad

On The #RauchdyMatch Part 2 of 3

Boys,

This will be the second of three posts on this. You might be saying to yourselves, “Dad, you’ve never written three posts on anything in our lives. At best, you might have written two blogs on milestone moments or important life lessons.” To that I’d say, “yeah, well. It is what it is, isn’t it?”

Officially “not” presented by Capital One

There have been some developments since posting this yesterday… We have set a date for what I’m calling “The Match” or “#RauchdyMatch” for the socials. I’ve asked that Kinsale update the tee sheet to reflect this and also requested a GGID so the world can follow along. Just got confirmation that those two things are happening so now things got a little spicier.

#RauchdyMatch tee sheet official

In addition, I’ve asked one of the pros at Kinsale to officiate the match. If there was more time, I’d rope off the course so that the gallery is contained and try to find a cart kid to follow behind us with one of those big PGA signs that shows what the score is at all times. Would probably sign a ball for him once the match The Match is over.

I also posted a poll on my Instagram asking the golfing world who would win between us given the parameters previously laid out. Now, I don’t have a huge following, but I want to say the results were about 80/20 that your mom would beat me. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Now, there were a good amount of “non-golfers” who voted for your mom, so I want to throw those out due to blind allegiance, but there would still be a majority of people who know both our games that think I’m going to lose. Maybe I’m delusional, but we’ll find out by tomorrow.

So the final post in this series will be a recap. Good, bad, or divorce, we are going to figure this out once and for all — or at least until we do this again next year. Not sure what I think the best case scenario would be for us — would a tie settle anything? If we’re being honest, I think one of us would handle defeat better than the other, so maybe that would be best case scenario. But I also think that we both have nothing and everything to lose no matter the outcome. If I win, it’s like “of course you did, there is a reason even the best women play from the up tees.” If she wins, it’s like “of course she did, she’s the club champion.” I think to the outside world, that is how it will be viewed. But to our family, there might be more to the story than what meets the eye.

I’ll finish this post by saying one more thing. No matter the outcome, this is your mom’s fault. I may have run with it once the genie was taken out of the bottle, but I would have been fine leaving sleeping dogs lying and let each of our imaginations comfort one another with what our version of how things would go would be. But your mom is competitive and I love that about her. I just hope that if things don’t fall her way, well, we’ll leave it at that.

Love,

Dad

On Golf, Marriage, and the Biggest Game of All Time

Boys,

As you probably know by now, your mom and I both love golf. We love to compete. We love to play together and to compete against each other, too. And, we usually do so with love, respect, and mostly positive banter during a round. In fact, we even played yesterday, both played well, and had a great time playing together.

Then, something happened that changed the foundation of our marriage…. forever. I don’t know how it came out, but the question was “who would win a round of golf (stroke play) if we both played from the blue/men’s tees?”

There are a lot of things your mom and I are happy to brush off our shoulders. Who is the better driver? You think you? That’s fine, respectfully agree to disagree and let’s talk about what’s for dinner. No follow up needed. But when it comes to golf, very few things can be mentioned and not follow up on, discussed, dissected, argued, presented in opposing hypotheticals, and used as jab-fodder the following day/week/forever.

Style and Power

If your mom and I both played 9 holes from the same blue tee box, who would win? Here’s a sneak peak at how this conversation went last night.

  • Her: I am 100% certain that I would beat you if we both played the blue tees.
  • Me:
  • Her: What? What? Why do you have that stupid look on your face?
  • Me:
  • Her: There is no way you’d beat me. Ryan Rauch. I’m a better golfer than you are.
  • Me: I agree. You are a better golfer than me. I JUST THINK that the yardage difference between the red and blue tees is greater than the difference in skill between us. I agree you’re the better golfer.
  • Her: Ryan Rauch. No. You’re so stupid. I am ONE-HUN-DUH-RED percent sure I would win and it’s not even close.
  • Me:
  • Her: Oh it’s happening. This has to happen. What do we have going on tomorrow? This is happening.

You can see from that direct quote how aggressively I handled that. By the time you’re reading this, you might have parents living in different houses. Your honor, there were simply irreconcilable differences — one simply couldn’t live with the other after those 9 holes!

Not saying it’s the best swing, but it works well enough!

Let’s lay out the stats:

Who:RyanKelly
Handicap12.9 (plays from blues)7.0 (plays from reds)
Most recent score40 (blue tees)37 (red tees)
Driver DistanceBombsBombs minus 50 yards

Now let me be clear. (At this time) I would never say that I am the superior golfer. Your mom is much more consistent than I am. She hits more fairways and greens. I think I have a better short game than her and I don’t think either of us are great putters (I’m probably better on long putts but she’s more consistent on short putts).

So where do we go from here? Well, a match must be played. And, I feel this should be an annual match to account for improvement and the current status of the power hierarchy in our marriage. Naturally, whoever wins controls that dynamic of the relationship (should there continue to be a relationship once a winner is declared). I think this match should be played toward the end of each season as the “final major” of our golf seasons.

Lastly, just know that your mom and I love you both very much. If you grow up never remembering the two of us ever talking to each other, now you know why. My hope is that we play the match, we both play well, and that your mom realizes that there are more important things in life than beating her husband in golf.

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 “Leaving in 30”

Boys,

Your mom and I keep in pretty good communication – we more or less know where each other is at all times. Not only do we know each other’s schedule (so long as it’s on the CALENDAR!!), but we talk throughout the workday and keep each other posted on when we get places and when we leave places.

However, we each have this fun way of projecting this “best case scenario” type of a situation when we’re almost done with work, almost done with Bad Mom’s Club night(s), almost ready to finish doing the thing that the other knew we were doing and where we were doing it… and we say, “leaving in 30.”

This phrase is kind of the kiss of death for actually leaving in 30 minutes — it’s never happened. I’m notorious for doing it at work. I’ll be there, wrapping up my work after having seen the last of my patients for the day. I’m stacking my charts and all signs point to being done before long and I just have to do that one last thing that shouldn’t take too long, and I’ll be out the door and on my way to the car in 30 minutes.

And then it happens. There was one person in the back that needs talked to before I go. Or I have to stop next door for one quick thing that gets me pulled into a conversation with so-and-so and there I go into the time suck.

“I’m just about to leave.”

Now here are the rules – once the other one realizes that you weren’t able to leave at the predetermined 30 minutes from when you told them you’d be “leaving in 30,” you MUST send a text message that says, “still there?” Before you send this text, you have to check the “Find My” app to confirm that they are, in fact, still at the place they said they were leaving (now at this point, more than 30 minutes ago).

So when you’re called out, you have to deflect. Say anything. “I was going to, but…” “See, what happened was…” “I was literally out the door, when a giant alligator grabbed me by the foot and drug me back into the bar.” It doesn’t matter if it’s legit or not, you just have to state any reason that the 30 minute self-imposed time limit lapsed. Of course, it doesn’t matter to the other person, and any reason, valid or otherwise, is met with some kind of “mmmhmmm” or “GIF” of an eye roll from Luke from Gilmore Girls — that one usually hits pretty solidly.

Sometimes posts have a lot of meaning and I hope that you take away something impactful that you can use to be a better man or boy or person someday. Other times, posts are just meant to entertain and make you laugh and put a smile on your face. This is the first one – one of the really important ones. So, when you grow up and get married, just tell your partner when you’re leaving and it’ll all be fine. They really won’t care.

Love you, boys.

Dad

On The VIP Project and This Blog 2.0

Boys,

So this will be a post less about what I want to talk to you about, and more to do with two very big things that I hope take this blog — this idea of me talking to you throughout your lives — to the next level.

The first is what I’m calling “The VIP Project.” As I write this, all six of your grandparents are alive, and you have four living great-grandparents. Your great-grandpa Slee (Don) hasn’t been in my life since I was born, so I don’t think he’ll ever be someone we’ll talk about as you grow up. All I know about him is that he left your Tutu’s life when she was a little girl, and moved to Georgia and has had a new family since them. He had a son, which would technically be your grandma’s half-brother, but I’ve never met him. I think I’ve met your great-grandpa Don maybe twice in my life.

Then, both your great-grandma Rosi and great-grandpa Pat Whitt are alive. They are two very special people that welcomed your uncle Jordan and me into their family with the openest of arms when we were kids — probably 10 (me) and 8 (Jordan). I think it takes a special person to become a step-parent to two older kids the way your Grampy did — that is a conversation for another post — but it takes just as special kind of people to accept two new people into their family and love them the way they do their other grandkids.

Your other great-grandma Rauch, your Papa Rauch’s mom, is still alive. She was a much bigger part of my life, but I fear that you won’t remember who she was by the time you get older. I have a picture that I took in 2018 or 2019 of me, Reagan, Papa Rauch, and his dad (my Grandpa) out on The Farm in Newark. As soon as I had you, Reagan, I wanted that picture. Sadly, my grandpa died in August 2020, about a month before you were born, Koen. I would have loved to get another picture of him with the two of you, but never got that chance. I have so many memories of him throughout my childhood that I would have loved to hear from his side of things – to learn more about him and his time in the Army, or raising six boys, his love of flying (and sometimes crashing) airplanes, or where he got his sense of humor from because that is what always stood out to me most about him (and is probably where I get my playful side from).

This is why I want to capture a conversation with my grandma where we talk about her life, who she is and who she was, and what stands out in her life so that you can learn a little more about where you came from. This is the basis of The VIP Project. I want to talk to the people who will be the biggest impact on your lives and listen to who they are, what they might want you to know about them, and let them ask me questions that you might find interesting as you grow up.

So I am putting it out to the world to hold myself accountable, and hopefully it turns into something special that I can put pieces of on here, but also save that audio for you to revisit in its entirety when you’re older.

So, The VIP Project will segway this blog into version 2.0, which I see as including more audio and video content. I see the two of you becoming a part of this so that, again, as you get older, you can revisit conversations we have and listen to who you were and what ideas you had about the world when you were younger. I don’t think I want this to turn completely into a podcast-type of thing, but to record us (and your mom if she’s up for it) periodically so that we capture little moments with us.

So there it is. Some goals established and plans laid out. I’m excited to see how The VIP Project goes and I hope that I capture some valuable things for the both of you, but also for myself. I don’t know for sure where things will turn out once we get through everything, but I’m excited to see where this new direction takes us.

Until then, I love you both!

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