Ohhhhhh, We’re Halfway There…

The kids are now six months old. Justin Timberlake had agreed to come down to DC and perform at the kids’ (half) birthday party, but we couldn’t quite get our schedules *NSYNC…

(sorry, folks)

Oh, and we’re not having a (half) birthday party. That would be sad. Plus, we’ll probably celebrate tonight by falling asleep on the couch by 9:30pm.

That sounds like the perfect Friday night to me.

One day and (almost) six months:

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Wait. Six months?! Seriously?!

Honestly, I’m not sure how that happened (other than the fact that the Earth spun around on its axis approximately 180 times). Time flies when you’re changing diapers.

Here are a few random thoughts about the kids hitting this (half) milestone:

1. Like an athlete accepting an MVP award or a rapper accepting a Grammy, I’d first like to thank God. Seriously. These babies are miracles. I never want to take that for granted.

2. I am also so thankful that these babies are healthy. They have had a few problems here and there, but nothing too major. However, those little worries have weighed heavily on us. My heart breaks when I read about precious little kids struggling with health problems.

3. Our tiny little babies aren’t so tiny anymore. I’m sure the rest of the world sees them as small, but they look huge to us. STOP GROWING UP SO FAST!

4. Babies get tired. In response, babies fight sleep. Babies are crazy.

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5. Seriously, did you just wake up for the tenth time tonight?

6. Our kids love to roll over onto their stomachs when they sleep. Within seconds of rolling over, they start to scream. We flip them onto their backs. Two seconds later, they roll back onto their stomachs again. Unsurprisingly, they start to scream. Again, babies are crazy.

7. In the middle of the night, we sometimes find ourselves in a dark place between anger and frustration when the kids wake up wailing. Amanda sets the kids down sometimes and leaves the room. I grab the side of the crib and squeeze the railing. In the morning, we feel terrible about getting mad about those two precious angels.

8. If I could restart this whole parenting thing over again, I would never use a pacifier. Our kids are hooked on them. I imagine them singing Miley’s “We Can’t Stop” when they cry because their pacifiers fell out, but then I remember that might be a reference to drugs.

9. I wouldn’t trade the most frustrating and challenging moment with kids with the best moment of my life without them. I know one day I’ll desperately miss this stage when they were so dependent on us.

10. We will never get to an event on time again.

11. Seeing the kids interact with each other is priceless. However, it usually ends with someone trying to scratch the face of his or her sibling.

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12. We sing the kids three songs at night as part of their bedtime routine. One is “Amazing Grace.” The other are *NSYNC songs.

13. Everyone on the road seems to drive so much faster these days. Oh, and there are a lot more germs everywhere. I also leave a bunch of lights on at night now so no one robs us. In general, these kids have made me paranoid.

14. I’m running out of creative excuses to use when strangers ask to hold our babies.

15. Confession time. I wish I could breastfeed the babies. It is such an incredible way to lose weight. Oh, and there is that whole bonding thing too. Similarly, I’m always tempted to taste some of the milk when feeding bottles to the babies. I have not given into that temptation because that is both creepy and gross.

16. Sleeping for four hours straight is now a huge victory.

17. Making plans can be kind of pointless. The kids run our schedules now. More specifically, the kids’ naps run our schedules now.

18. We’ve taken cheesy birthday pictures each month. We tried to take the six-month pictures last night, but the kids had other plans. I’m really excited about their six-month costumes and the terrible pun(s) I’ll be using. Honestly, I’m probably way too excited.

The Five Month Photo:

5 Months

19. Moms are the best.

20. Toys are a waste of money.

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21. I can’t remember a life without kids. I also can’t remember a life where I didn’t have to listen to a white noise maker playing through the baby monitor all night.

22. The poop is getting grosser.

22 seems like a good ending point. Mainly because it’s late at night. Oh, and I like Taylor Swift.

Have a great weekend! Austin is already celebrating:

Fantastic Four

The kids are about to celebrate their four-month birthdays. And by “celebrate,” I mean that they’ll lay on a blanket and we’ll take pictures of them wearing cheesy costumes and I’ll use a terrible pun.

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I’m not sure where all the time has gone. On one hand, it feels like we were just waiting anxiously in the hospital delivery room a few heartbeats ago. On the other, I can’t remember life without kids and so it seems like they have been hanging around forever.

So here are some random thoughts about fatherhood and babies after four months of priceless moments, a thousand dirty diapers, and a lot of sleepless nights:

-Baby smiles and laughs are the greatest thing I’ve ever watched. “Jurassic Park” is a close second.

-My wardrobe is ridiculous and I’m meticulous with organizing my clothes and making sure that everything is neat and ironed before I leave the house. Well, I used to be like that. On Monday, I picked my clothes off the floor and rocked red pants to work that had spit-up on them, because, well, babies.

-The kids have regressed with their sleep during the past few weeks. It’s humorous in a sad and “wow, is it really 3:30am?!?!” kind of way when you long for five hours of sleep.

-I love watching soccer players celebrate goals at the World Cup. I do similar airplane moves and fist pumps when I successfully lay a baby down in a crib without waking him or her up.

-There are a lot of movies out that I’d like to go see. I’ll catch them on Netflix in six months.

-It’s amazing how babies can shift the important question of “what do I want to do with my life” to “what should I do with my life so I can help support these kids” so quickly. .

-I look at baby photos and videos on my phone multiple times a day when I’m at work. I should print a bunch out and put them around my office, but that task hasn’t passed “work,” “sleep,” or “exercise occasionally” on the to-do list yet.

-Trying to figure out day care is the toughest decision we’ve ever had to make during our relationship. First, deciding whether we’ll both go back to work is a really tough choice. We both want to work and interact with human beings who can form sentences, but we also want to stay at home and hang out with the kids all day. Second, deciding who will watch your kids, your perfect, beautiful, and adorable kids, all day when you’re at work is a sad, challenging, and scary decision to make.

-The protective papa bear in me has already come out a few times. I called to report an 18-wheeler that recklessly cut us off a few weeks ago. I also confronted a guy, politely, in the Metro parking lot after he blew by a stopped school bus with kids walking around so he could make a green light. I was worried he would go crazy and try to fight me or something, but I guess my teal pants scared him off.

-Travelling with kids. OMG. Someone invent a teleport ASAP.

-We had to listen to Katy Perry’s “Roar” 10 straight times when driving to the lake house last weekend. Although I appreciate that it always calms down Madison, instantly, I’ve listened to that song way too many times.

-The inventor of baby swings is our savior (other than Jesus and Tony Bennett, UVA’s basketball coach, not the singer). Thank you.

-Kids grow up too fast. I miss the “old” days when they were “small” and I wish I could relive those moments over and over again. Not because those days were better, but those first minutes, moments, and days were so intense, so scary, and so beautiful.

-I miss my autonomy. I miss sitting on the couch and staying there as long as I wanted. I miss eating dinner when the food is hot instead of an hour after it is cooked due to baby shenanigans. However, I will gladly give up all of those things for these kids.

-Hearing a baby stirring or crying on the monitor often creates an interesting test for a relationship. Neither of you wants to get off the couch or bed, but someone has to do it. Thus, you wait 5-10 seconds, sometimes pretending to be asleep, hoping the other leads the charge…

-Having these kids has given me such a different perspective with my faith. I am constantly mesmerized by His love for humanity and His endless grace.

-Most importantly, moms are heroes. So are people who want to babysit.

Mission Accomplished

As I wrote about on Monday, I was pretty hyped for this week’s battle of the law firm bands event. This amazing musical throwdown is in its eleventh year, is hosted by Gifts for the Homeless, and has now raised more than a million dollars for the DC homeless community.

Well, it was a smashing success.

1. This year’s event raised more than $300,000 for the DC homeless. (fist pump)

2. Our band did such a great job. Yes, I’m biased, but we killed it. And by “we,” I mean everyone else in the group. I just showed up for a one-song cameo. The band performed Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” “Power of Love” by Huey Lewis, and Lady Gaga’s “Applause.” Oh, and one more song…

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3. We did a sweet mashup of Queen’s “Under Pressure” and Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” (which are two very different songs that sound nothing alike). We were nervous it would sound muddled, that people wouldn’t get it, and that I’d pass out from wearing a gold trash bag. Thankfully, none of those things happened, but I may have pulled a hamstring due to some awkward white guy dance moves. Here’s the video:

4. Thanks to everyone who came out and who donated. It was a blast seeing so many friends jamming out there with us. Our firm raised $40,000 for this event, more than any other law firm in DC, and had SO many people there! Holla. I was so happy that Amanda was able to attend and that our kids and the babysitter all survived. However, the babysitter, a former teacher, said Madison was the most strong-willed child she had ever seen. That sounds about right.

5. Most importantly, has anyone seen my gold necklace? I threw it into the crowd during “Ice Ice Baby.” P. Diddy will be really mad when I tell him that I lost his $50,000 necklace.

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See you next year. Word to your mother.

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.

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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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Everyday Heroes: My Wife

Hi, world.

This is Amanda.

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Amanda is my wife. Amanda is my best friend.

Amanda is my hero.

For SO many reasons.

Amanda is 37 weeks pregnant. She has fourteen pounds of babies growing, squirming, and kicking inside her.

She went to work today.

I’ve told her for weeks that she should take her leave early and just rest.

But that’s not Amanda.

She is always working, always knocking out to-do lists, always hustlin’ to complete the tasks that need to get done.

She is always thinking about others.

Amanda has worked in public schools in Fairfax for the past eight years. She spent seven of those years as a special education teacher. Her passion for those kids was remarkable. She never gave up on them and never judged them by their disabilities.

She’s always treated me the same way.

I have done a lot of dumb stuff, made too many mistakes, told a lot of bad jokes, and I have some weird eccentricities. I have dragged Amanda to two Britney Spears concerts and two Backstreet Boys concerts. We went to WWE Monday Night Raw on the night of our first anniversary.  I have worn silly mini-shorts, every color of pants imaginable, and I spend too much money on sneakers. I make dumb music videos and yell a lot during sporting events.

Despite all that, never once has she judged me, mocked me, or walked ten feet behind me so people wouldn’t know we were together. Being yourself is a critical part of any healthy relationship and Amanda helps make that possible for me. She has helped me become a better man, even if it has taken a lot longer than she probably hoped. She is more than I deserve.

Amanda is my hero.

Bye.

The Mistakes of Marriage

Three Simple Rules

I hate it when things are unnecessarily complicated. “LOST” was a brilliant show until it fell victim to complex spiritual motifs and complicated story lines. I also disliked the confusing moments in relationships when I was quasi-dating someone.

“Hey, John. Good to see you, dude. This is my, uhhhh, my, uhhhh, girlfriend Amanda.”

That’s awkward.

Most of all, Christianity has become way too complicated. Although the Bible is crazy long, there are really only three simple rules:

(1) Love God
(2) Love everyone else
(3) Love football

If you agree with any of those “rules” and live in the DC area, we should kick it on Saturday.

And pass it.  And run it.  And bounce it.

Capital City Church is organizing a huge program to help serve some of the people in our nation’s capital who have no place to live.  We’ll be serving food and organizing all sorts of games and activities for the kids who live at DC’s homeless shelters.  There’s even a flag football tournament, which will be won by the team I’m coaching.  However, we could use some more stellar volunteers to coach the other teams, ref the games, and do all sorts of other awesome stuff.  We’ll be rocking out from 10am until 5pm.  Even if you only have a free hour, come on down to the Rosedale Recreation Center (1701 Gales St. NE) on Saturday and show a little love to the community.

Nope, we’re not going to cure homelessness with one day of service.  However, we hope that hanging with these kids will remind them that someone cares.

Oh, and there will be a moon bounce.

If you’d like to volunteer, you can let me know or shoot an email to Steve, one of my BFFs (even though he denies knowing me in public), at steve@bethelovecampaign.org.

We hope to see you there!

Here are a few pictures from another epic Capital City Church service day:

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…and hopefully Saturday’s event goes better than this…

Awkward Homeless

Everyday Heroes: Ron DMC

2013 has been a really special year.  I turned 30, found out I was going to be a babydaddy, later discovered I was having twins, and I finally got to see the Rolling Stones in concert.  Most importantly, I got a bunch of new Jordans.

Oh, and I met this incredible dude named Ron.

Everyday Heroes - Ron DMC

You may recognize him:

That video has gotten more than 4,000 hits on YouTube.  That sort of scares me.

In addition to his beautiful “falsetto” T-Swift voice, I love that Ron wears boots every single day.  If you try to put Ron in a box, he will use those boots to break those walls down.  He loves Jesus, but he also loves tattoos.  He rocks out to heavy metal music, but never misses an episode of “Gossip Girl.”  Ron is a tough military guy, but he spends more time fixing his hair than any other guy.  Ever.

Ron SelfieRon is also a veteran.  While movies and video games are the closest most of us will get to experiencing the horrors of war, Ron has witnessed it up close and personal. He’s lost friends.  He’s also struggled with depression, drugs, and divorce.  Less than a year ago, he tried to take his own life.

Now’s he the lead guitarist at Capital City Church’s new Kingstown site and one of my best friends.  Sadly, he’s leaving DC for music school in a few months.  Although I’ve only known Ron since April, he’s already meant so much to me.  We have a pretty sweet bromance and I will miss him.  A lot.  Ron has seen the best of life, but he’s also seen the transforming power of redemption, hope, and change.  When I have doubts about my own faith, Ron’s story reminds me why I believe.

He’s hilarious, he’s energetic, and he’s a perfectionist.  Both with his hair and his guitar game.  Ron makes everyone around him better.  In fact, he makes the entire world better.  Although I didn’t have a chance to interview all seven billion people on Earth, here’s what a random sample of eight really smart people had to say about Ron:

Eileen (@eileenwild): “What I appreciate about Ron is that he does life with his heart ‘all in.’  Whether it is meetings, music, or friendships, nothing is done halfway or without his contagious joy.  This one thing is for sure:  when Ron walks into a room, everything just got better.”

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Gio (@gio32r):  “Ron is a perfect example of God’s love.  His heart came in a box full of gift and talents.  His heart is big and willing to serve.  Mi amigo Ron eres el mejor.  You are the best, my friend.”  

Hannah (@lovehannxoxo):  “Ron is the coolest.  He is not only literally a rockstar, but he also has an incredible heart to see people connect to God and is willing to do just about anything to see that happen.  On top of that, he’s fun, can sing Taylor Swift (and everything else!), and can save your life if you’re choking or fall off of a curb.”  (Ron is also an EMT.  And Hannah is kind of clumsy.)

Jeff (@jefforzo):  “Ron is very inspirational in his tendency to dive in headfirst when he’s involved in something.  He puts himself in places where God can activate his passion and creativity, and it’s awesome to witness.”

Ron and Orzos

Ben (@benevans01):  “Ron’s a hero because he’s not just one person. He’s a talented musician, God-loving citizen who cares for everyone.  He’s also a friend who will do anything for the ones he loves and calls friends.  Doing those things aren’t easy in today’s negative-minded society, but that’s why he’s a hero!”

Alicia (@aliciaorzo):  “Ron is an encourager.  He is always working to get people excited and he is the first to “like” everything!  He brings the mood wherever he is!”

Ashley (@ashmichelley):  “Ron keeps me in stitches. And when I’m not laughing at/with him, I’m just feeling honored to call him a friend.  He’s a true worshiper who has a great head on his shoulders!” 

Amanda (@ajmccormick1):  “He’s cool.”

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Ron has survived life’s toughest and darkest challenges.  When I see Ron singing and playing guitar, I’m reminded that life is a miraculous and precious gift.  It is also remarkable to watch Ron play guitar and see someone doing exactly what they were born to do.

If you want to learn more about Ron, his guitar game, or his sweet hair, you should follow him on Instagram at @imronmillward.  Seriously.  Do it.

Stop Yelling

There are a lot of interesting things in DC:

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Unfortunately, our nation’s capital is also full of angry people.  I’m not talking about bitter Redskins fans still stuck in 1991, but people on street corners causing all sorts of shenanigans.

I often see some guys driving around the Mall in a trippy van decorated with intense Bible verses and proclamations about hell.  They are usually rocking a megaphone and yelling at people for lots of different reasons.  Just a few blocks away, there are always some intense dudes at the Chinatown Metro station angrily yelling about Israel and/or white people.  Ease up, bros, I just want some froyo.

Sadly, the examples don’t end there.  TV, Congress, and our Facebook NewsFeeds are full of people screaming about something or berating those who think differently, especially if there is an election around the corner (or a Cowboys/Redskins game).  Although it’s good to live a life full of passion, here are five reasons we should ease up on the yelling:

1.  I don’t have a degree in marketing and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I’m confident that you will never convince someone to change their beliefs by yelling at them.

2.  Discussing and debating religion, politics, and/or your favorite Miley song over a Bud Light Lime and nachos is a lot more enjoyable than screaming at someone.  And more productive too.  (P.S. – The answer is “Wrecking Ball.”  You are the BIGGEST IDIOT IN THE WORLD if you think differently.)

3.  Anger, stress, and screaming are bad for your health.  I can’t cite scientific evidence to support that hypothesis, but the two times I thought I was going to black out were both at UVA football games.  No, not because I had been drinking too much whiskey.  Rather, I was losing my mind screaming about a stupid playcall and/or a mistake a ref made.  That would have been a dumb way to die.

4.  Diamonds are forever.  So is the internet.  Don’t blow your reputation and legacy by launching a tirade that eventually ends up on BuzzFeed.

5.  Screaming discredits you.  You might have some brilliant ideas, but if you unveil them to the world through fiery, heated, and disrespectful exchanges, no one will actually listen to what you have to say.

Bye.  TGIF!

Awkward White Guy Rap (Vol. VIII) – Beastie Boys

There are a lot of reasons I’m really thankful for my job.  I get a regular paycheck that can buy important stuff like Legos and Jordans (and baby stuff too, I guess).  Even better, our office has free animal crackers and monthly fajita buffets.  Most importantly, once a year, rapping is part of my job description.  Other than every day that I’m not at work, it’s my favorite day of the year.

Awkward White Guy Rap (Vol. VIII) - Beastie Boys

Walk This Way

Thrift Shop

Well, in 2013, it happened twice.

At the 2013 “Battle of the Law Firm Bands” event at the Black Cat in D.C., Sutherland Comfort brought down the house with an eclectic set of Alanis, Christina, Bruno Mars, Eminem, Gun ‘n Roses, and Maclemore songs.  We also raised $40,000 for the D.C. homeless community.  Even better, the entire event raised $250,000!  Holler!  Despite the excess amount of sweat I put off during our performance, someone from the D.C. Bar liked everyone else in the band so much that they asked us to perform at a fancy lawyer prom-esque event.

Like me at the aforementioned fajita buffet, we enthusiastically said “YES!  YES!  YES!”  It was a little different from what we’re used to, namely, there were fewer drunk people, less insanity, and more tuxedos.  However, we still gave it our best shot and the band crushed an eight-song set this past Saturday night.  Here’s our lawyerly rendition of “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys.  Enjoy!

You can find all my other “Awkward White Guy Rap” videos here.  YouTube is full of other Sutherland Comfort videos that are much better, especially ones that don’t involve me.