Changing the Game

Life has changed a little bit since the twins arrived in March. For example, going to a baseball game has become quite the chaotic adventure.

Changing the Game

We’ve been to about sixty Nationals games during our time in the DC area. We like to get to the games two hours early to watch batting practice, get some sun, and chat with the players. We have watched hundreds of games on TV. Witnessing Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS in person, when Jayson Werth hit a walk off home run on the 13th pitch of an at bat to break a 1-1 tie, is one of the ten greatest moments of my life. Watching the Nationals blow a 6-0 lead in Game 5 the next night, and give up three runs with two outs in the ninth, to lose 9-7 was one of the worst ten moments of my life.

In short, our family takes baseball very seriously.

Changing the Game - 2On Friday, it was finally time to introduce the kids to one of our favorite traditions.

It was exhausting.

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Unlike prior years, when we’d just buy tickets and show up, I checked the weather report dozens of times before we decided to go to the game. We had to Goldilocks that sucker: it couldn’t be too hot or too cold. Thankfully, the weather was perfect this weekend in DC. We also weren’t going to risk the insanity of the pre and post-game Metro rides, so we reserved a parking spot for $16 in advance.

Game on.

Almost.

We got into the stadium just before the first pitch. It then took us 20 minutes to find the stroller check-in, get all our junk unloaded, and awkwardly put the kids into the baby Ergo/Bjorn/backpack things. They felt so nice and swampy. We finally got to our seats in the lower level in left field. Ten seconds later, a foul ball landed ten feet away from us. That helped with the paranoia that the kids might get hit with a ball. The kids were pretty chill for five minutes, but then the stirring began, then the crying, and then the screaming.

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The whole experience was a bit of a circus. Thankfully, our dear friends, Brian and Caroline, were there to help us out. Occasionally, we were able to talk and sometimes we even got to watch the baseball game. Amanda had to pump some milk in a bathroom stall, which probably prompted some funny looks due to the unmistakable sound that little machine makes. The six of us spent about ten minutes sitting together, the other two-and-a-half hours were spent with one of us walking/bouncing/swaying the babies somewhere in the stadium.

It was awesome.

Yup, it was different. Yup, it was tiring. Yup, it was a hassle. Nope, our family isn’t going to a game again anytime soon. But, you know what, we got to do something we love with two little babies we desperately love. That’s a win. Plus, the Nationals won too.

Changing the Game - 4

Round Two

I enjoy my job. A lot. However, the last six weeks have been tough. It’s been really sad to leave my amazing wife and kids at home each morning to go sit in an office and stare at a computer all day (and sometimes night). It’s especially tough because the kids are so happy in the mornings when I leave and, well, they are less so at night when I return.

It’s all good though.

It’s time for paternity leave, baby babies.

I took two weeks of paternity leave in April. It was amazing. However, it also felt like I was Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. It was a battle. It was exhausting. Much like that Creed-killing Communist, I lost the fight. It was just diapers and feedings for fourteen straight days. Checking the mail and taking the dog out were my recreational activities. Going back to work seemed like a vacation.

Now it’s time for Round Two of paternity leave.

We’re going to try to stretch our family wings a bit more this time. Of course, there will be plenty of diapers, feedings, and naps, but here are some other things that will be going down during these two weeks of paternity leave (I hope):

1. The kids are going to their first Nationals game! I feel bad for subjecting them to decades of frustration as a Nationals fan, but at least they’ll be in “good” company.

Round Two

2. No alarm clocks will be set.

3. I got a new bike last weekend. It’s shiny. I’ve been too scared to ride it because of the nasty weather and my massive work bag I’ve been rocking on the trail. I will ride it this week. A lot. Next week too.

4. We’re going to Charlottesville! We considered hanging out in San Francisco for a week, but my work schedule was a bit up in the air and the thought of 12 hours of flight time with two babies was terrifying. We’re excited about giving the kids a tour of our family history, visiting Monticello for the first time (I’m ashamed of that fact), and eating way too much food at some of our favorite college spots.

Round Two - UVA

5. I’m going to read a book. It has been a year.

6. There will be another silly “happy X month” photo. Sorry, kids.

Two Months

7. I’m going to eat at Taco Bell. For breakfast.

8. I’m playing a game of basketball at the Verizon Center. Amanda and the kids will be there too. I’m hoping John Wall will sign the kids’ heads.

9. I will not gain any weight on paternity leave this time, but…

10. We will eat at Dairy Queen. At least twice. I need a Blizzard.

11. It’s been about a hundred years, but rap videos will be made. The kids have been going on and on about how badly they want to be in a rap video. It’s time. Yo.

12. An epic cookout with 273 other tired parents and their kids will occur. We’re hoping we can leave our kids there for a few hours and no one will notice. I want to go see “Godzilla.”

13. The 183-foot high pile of clean clothes on the guest bed and the 392-foot pile of dirty clothes on our bedroom floor will be eliminated. By me. Amanda flooded the house last time she did laundry. That’s my game.

14. We will go on walks. Our dog will likely pout after a few dozen feet, lay down, and then I’ll be forced to carry him home. Our neighbor with the Greyhound will laugh.

Napoleon Confused

15. We will go to the neighborhood playground. I will play basketball and destroy the local middle schoolers. Amanda and the kids will pretend they don’t know me.

I. Can’t. Wait.

(All of this is subject to Amanda’s written approval.)

Happy weekend, party people!

War on Weight – Week Four

Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times.

John Quincy Adams lost seven elections before he became President.

Britney Spears shaved her head and attacked a SUV.

We all have setbacks.

***

That is what I started to write during my Metro ride home Wednesday night. I planned to continue to lament about how I had a setback on my weight loss journey and gained a few pounds last week. I had some good excuses too.

After a fateful bout with a bee last Wednesday, I had to take my bike into the shop.

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It’s been there for seven days now. Thus, I’ve only exercised once during the past week. It’s hard to find free non-commuting time these days to go exercise for an hour. I’ve also had some increased stress at work. With my bike in the shop, I’ve recently turned to food for comfort. That’s not ideal.

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I ate six Rice Krispie Treats in a row one night at 1:00am. I kinda regretted it, but those things are wicked good. I should have stopped at five.

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(That 54-pack box lasted less than a week.)

So I finally had my fateful meeting with the scale last night. I had already written out my “setback” post and was just going to plug in the number of pounds I gained. Although I was frustrated, I was ready to move on to a successful Week 5.

I weighed myself.

210 pounds.

The exact same as the week before.

I reset the scale.

I weighed myself again.

210 pounds.

I weighed myself again.

Still 210 pounds.

I was shocked. I was relieved.

I was also disappointed.

I had been down on myself for falling off the wagon, both with my eating and exercise, and I expected the worst. A button busting off of my pants at work yesterday didn’t help. Despite all the negative thoughts and fears, I gained zero pounds.

That was more exciting than any of my recent weight loss successes. I once had a bad week in 2006 and gained twelve pounds in five days. Last week, the scale didn’t move at all when I put exercise and healthy eating to the side. More importantly, seeing “210” on the scale for the second week in a row was an important reminder that I’m my own harshest critic and that things are rarely as bad as they seem.

220 and 210 (sadly, no pictures with me and a baby from this week):

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Making Room

“Hi, kids. Here’s the room where you’ll spend the first few (?) years of your life.”

No pressure.

There were a lot of things I loved about our pregnancy: buying fun baby clothes, awkward comments made by strangers, and, finally, planning out the nursery. Although it seems like decorating and planning a nursery are topics that often end up on the to-do lists of the moms, that isn’t the case in our house. I love that kind of stuff. I spent so many hours reading a seemingly endless number of art and design websites for inspiration. Things were so serious that I almost looked at Pinterest once. Unsurprisingly, our family is pretty good at procrastinating and so we were painting walls and hanging pictures shortly before the kids made their grand debuts. Despite the frantic pace at the end, we’re happy how things turned out.

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We didn’t want the room to be too kiddy or too grown up.  We also didn’t want to fall into gender stereotypes and have flowers on Madison’s side of the room and trucks on Austin’s. Oh, and we wanted the nursery to be bright, funky, and full of color. Most importantly, there needed to be some Star Wars stuff up in there.

Mission Accomplished.

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Well, I just wrote a blog post about decorating our nursery.  I’m old.

The Ring Reminder

Our house is a mess.

There is laundry, mail, and baby stuff everywhere.  Thus, it has been really easy to misplace things lately, like bills, our dog, and my wedding ring.

One day this week, I couldn’t find my wedding ring before I went to work.  Thus, I was seemingly single for the day in DC.  Although there were no cat calls and no one offered to pay for my salad at Panera, the day was still memorable.  I felt off all day long.  I felt like something was missing and I didn’t feel like myself.  Honestly, I felt sad.

My, how things have changed.

Three years ago, I rarely wore my wedding ring.  Our marriage was crumbling and my wedding ring, once a symbol of a sacred promise, had become a symbol of frustration, pain, and bitterness.  I didn’t want to be constantly reminded that my marriage was failing, so I didn’t wear my wedding ring.  We hit rock bottom.

But just like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky II and Britney Spears in 2008, we bounced back.

Now, I feel lost without my wedding ring.  Not only is it a beautiful symbol of a sacred promise, but it is now a daily reminder that hope should never die and that restoration is always possible.

My Love. My Inspiration

 

War on Weight – Week 3

The last song at a wedding is often a slow jam.

At our wedding, it was Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

If you play that song anywhere, once that chorus hits, “Ohhhhhh, we’re halfway there…,” people will sing.

Just like those American poets from New Jersey famously proclaimed, I too, am halfway there. I’m halfway to my weight loss goal! However, I never worked on the docks. And my name is not Tommy. Or Gina.

I kicked off my War on Weight on April 21, 2014 and set the goal of losing 20 pounds by July 4th. After three weeks, I am now down ten pounds. Holla. I lost six pounds the first week, two pounds during Week 2, and two more last week.

220 on the left. 210 on the right (sorry, fellow Costco customers):

War on Weight - Week Three

Pride can be a dangerous thing, but I’ll admit it, I’m proud of myself. After seeing the numbers on the scale increase for more than three straight years, it’s nice to see things go the other way for a change. I’ve also ridden my bike to work for ten straight days. While I doubt that’s a world record, it is my personal best.  Not only have I burned thousands of calories during the past few weeks on the bike trail, but I’ve saved about $150 on Metro fares and spent hours thinking, exercising, and dreaming instead of mindlessly looking at my phone on the Metro.

I’m really excited to have made it to Week Three because I hear people say that things become a habit after 21 days. Well, it’s been 21 days. Hello, new habit. Please stick around this time.

Things are still a challenge and sometimes there are missteps. Oh well, that’s life. Candidly, as I was writing this post at 1:00am I remembered we have Rice Krispie Treats. I ate one. Then I ate three more by the time it was 1:05am. I was disappointed I didn’t stop at one, two, or three, but one time I ate 11 in a row back in 2005, so I’m calling last night’s misstep an improvement.

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Best of luck to anyone else out there on the weight loss journey! As Bon Jovi said, “we’ll make it, I swear.”

The Thief

As each dawn breaks, I reach for you.
As each day closes, in the darkness, it is you I pursue,

You are my closest friend, my constant companion,
A life without you I cannot imagine.

Through the good times and the bad, you never leave my side,
During the darkness and confusion, you are my ever-present guide.

You capture my attention with a stunning perfection,
You are always there to provide me direction.

Despite your many wonders, you have now become my prison,
I’ve missed too many priceless moments under your supervision.

You’re not a co-worker, a spouse, or even a beloved friend from home.
You are a piece of plastic.
You are my phone.

You are a thief of priceless moments,
I’ve fallen victim to your electronic components.

I love to say to “make the most of each day,”
That is impossible until I put the phone away.

Beautiful creations surround me while I stand in line,
I stare blindly at my phone to help pass the time.

There are friends who need support, so many people in need,
Yet, I just continue to scroll through my Facebook Newsfeed.

I always turn to you in the moments when I feel bored,
Creative thoughts, dreams, and wonders never get explored.

A world full of people constantly on their phone,
No one truly embracing the present, everyone living alone.

Churches, classes, and concerts full of people staring at screens,
I’m afraid we’ve missed the point, we’ve become slaves to machines.

I’ve had a painful realization lately, one that brings me much shame,
I always have a phone in my hand, even when holding a baby or at a baseball game.

If a baby’s smiles or friendly conversation are not enough for me,
Then I have become a man I do not want to be.

The Thief

My friends and family deserve my full attention,
It’s finally time for a phone intervention.

No more mindlessly checking my phone due to some twisted addiction,
My phone can’t control me, it’s time for an eviction.

I don’t want my kids to look at my phone and feel jealousy,
I will not be that dad, that won’t be my legacy.

War on Weight – Week 2

Whether it is starting a new job, buying a new car, or picking up some new kicks, everything seems so exciting and so fly at the beginning of an adventure. However, you’ll probably get bored at work someday, your car will pick up a few dents at the Safeway parking lot, and your new shoes will eventually get scuffed (especially if you ride the Metro).

Unsurprisingly, the same applies to an ambitious new desire to lose weight. Things are a piece of (low-fat) cake during Week 1. And then reality sets in. Your willpower wanes, non-fat popcorn starts to taste like styrofoam, and the long hours at work take their toll.

But you got to fight back. Yo.

Or else you might wake up three years and 6,000 billable hours later and find yourself 40+ pounds heavier.

Although Week 2 of my War on Weight was definitely harder than the first, I’m still calling it a success. I weighed in today two pounds lighter than last week.

Holla.

As I’ve noted before, my weight struggles over the decades have usually been the result of insane bingeing. I’ve limited that a lot over the past two weeks. On Friday night, I ate four pieces of cheesecake in ten minutes. Thankfully, they were relatively small slices. On Sunday night, I woke up from a bizarre 10pm nap desperately craving peanut butter. As my wife and two babies slept peacefully (thanks, baby swings), me and Peter Pan had a party. However, I’m proud to say those were my worst “binges” of the week. Historically, four pieces of cheesecake or two PB&Js is what I would call a typical snack.

So Week Two was a success. I didn’t lose as much weight as I did in Week 1, but the scale moved down a little, I rode my bike 70+ miles, saved $30 on Metro fares, my clothes fit better, and I feel much healthier. Physically, mentally, and emotionally.

220 and 212:
War on Weight - Week 2

Week Three, let’s dance.

Carlton Dance

It Takes Two

Two months ago, my life changed a lot.

I ate an epic club sandwich. It was perfect.

I also met our newborn son and daughter that day.

First Day

Two months and approximately 1,200 diapers later, life looks a lot different now:

My wife and I haven’t left the house together, without children, for 60+ days.

That probably won’t happen in the near future. We’re still firmly in the paranoid parent stage.

I desperately want to go see the new “Captain America,” “300,” and “Transformers” movies. I will watch them on Netflix in six months.

We have started using online grocery shopping. Thank you, internet.

We had dinner with some friends on Friday night. I was able to engage in focused conversation 25% of the time. The rest of the night was spent bouncing, swaying, and trying to hold a pacifier in a kid’s mouth while having a conversation.

On that note, I have a love-hate relationship with pacifiers. Just like a midnight run to Taco Bell, things are great at first, but you may eventually regret that decision. That pacifier will fall out at some point and there is a good chance that baby will scream.

I’ve got nothing but love for baby swings. God bless the man or woman who invented those.

My wife is a legend.

I want to give out millions of high fives on those occasions when I successfully transition a sleeping baby from my arms to the crib. However, I give out zero high fives on those occasions due to the risk of waking the baby.

However, those times when you lay a baby down and you start to hear some grunts, whimpers, cries, or movement, those are the moments that strengthen your prayer life.

I’ve been to thirty countries and three Britney Spears’ concerts, but there is nothing greater than hanging at home with the family.

The dirty laundry never ends. The piles of clean clothes on the floor never go away.

I’m disappointed when a diaper has pee, but no poop. The poop will likely happen within five minutes of putting on the new diaper.

I enjoy baby clothes a lot.

Matching

Going to work in the morning, especially on Mondays, is so rough. I do everything to stall for time. I’ve done laundry and paid bills at 8:00am on some recent workdays.

We hit a dark spot a few weeks ago where we felt like we were going crazy. Thankfully, that has passed. However, we sometimes feel like prisoners to two hungry babies. At least our captors are really cute.

The idea of taking our kids to day care in a few months is terrifying and sad. Not just because it will cost an insane amount of money, but because we’re paranoid parents who will miss them desperately. I’m sure it will become easier as they get older, bigger, and stronger, but right now that thought is depressing.

I think way too much about germs these days.

I have listened to Katy Perry’s “Roar” 100+ times. This week.

These kids are growing up too fast. We see them as big kids already. I’m sure that’s funny to the rest of the world who sees them as tiny babies.

There are a million different baby books, videos, and websites out there that will tell you a million different ways to raise your baby. Those suggestions are infinitely helpful, but there is no right way to do anything. Just do what you have to do and don’t judge others who do things differently.

I’ve realized I use my phone way too much. I think a lot of us do. That should stop. We all deserve better.

Our kids may not like us when they are teenagers.

One Month

 

Two Months

Taking a shower at home is now a luxury. Naps too.

Seeing these kids smile, even if gas induced, is the best thing ever.

Other than naps.