Awakening

Life has changed a lot over the past few weeks:

We got a new coffee machine at work. It looks like something from Star Trek, but it’s downright amazing. “Despicable Me 2” was dissed at the 2014 Oscars and didn’t win “Best Picture.” Finally, my incredible wife gave birth to twins on March 5th.

Parenthood

As evidenced by the dearth of blog posts and the dark circles under my eyes, it’s been a challenging three weeks. I’ve had a lot of fun topics that I wanted to write about, but I usually just fall asleep instead. Alas, I’m slowly crawling out of the shadows and starting to resume a normal life. A normal life that is so much richer now that I have two new partners in crime (and a house full of baby junk).  After three weeks of parenting experience, here are my initial thoughts:

1.  Mothers. You all deserve a round of applause. My goodness.

2.  To the man or woman who invented the pacifier, you are my hero. I’m not even kidding. Thank you. Now, can you figure out how to help a newborn keep one in his or her mouth?

3. I have often had doubts about the existence of God during various times of my life. I’m a critical thinker who appreciates facts more than feelings. However, I have no doubts when I realize that this…

Austin and Madison - The Start

…became this…

A Fantastic Beginning

4.  People often ask me how the babies are doing. I always respond by saying that they are still alive. They think I’m trying to be funny. I’m not. That is a big deal because we’re stumbling our way though this whole parenting thing.

5.  For a horrifying sixty seconds, we thought we were going to lose Madison. On her first day of life. She started to choke and began turning blue. We had been parents for about five hours and had no idea what to do. There were no nurses around. It was the worst moment of my life. Alas, she pulled through and she’s alive today, which, again, is a big deal. Oh, and now I’m insanely paranoid about any little mouth noise the babies make.

6.  These kids are in the 90th percentile for height and 30th percentile for weight. I wish I was that lucky.

7.  Austin and Madison each had a distinct and beautiful personality the moment they were born. Madison came out at 1:41pm. She wasn’t really crying, but her big, beautiful eyes were looking around with a bold sense of wonder. Since that moment, she’s never stopped soaking in all her new surroundings. You can tell she’s constantly thinking and learning. Meanwhile, Austin, just like me, spends his days eating, sleeping, and crying.

8.  This was the happiest moment of my life.

IMG_6480

 Not pictured: Austin screaming.

9. We have so many amazing outfits for these kids to wear. I had big plans for them to be dressed to the nines like ballers each day, even though they are just hanging out at home for a few weeks. In reality, the clothes selection process usually happens in the wake of a diaper explosion and the owner of said diaper is likely crying. A lot. His or her brother or sister is probably crying too. Thus, they wear whatever is on the top of the stack of clean clothes.

10. I’m struggling to find a healthy work/life balance. Hopefully paternity leave in a few weeks will help. I’m also finding it really challenging to find time to exercise, but really easy to eat way too much junk food.

11. Our poor dog is confused.

Napoleon Confused

12. I did not know what true fear felt like until a fussy baby has just calmed down at 3:00am and I laid him or her down to sleep and I crawled into bed. A minute later, as I lay staring towards a dark ceiling, I hear stirring and whimpering from the pack-and-play across the room. Will the baby fall back asleep or will the noise continue to build until a violent explosion of cries emerges?  The seconds feel like hours. Those moments have helped strengthen my prayer life.

13. Those first few diapers were horrifying.  So smelly, so sticky, so black.

14. I’ll be honest, when I found out we were having twins, my first response was to laugh. Then I nearly passed out. Then I wanted to cry because I thought my life was over. Now, despite the late nights and 150+ diapers a week, I realize that it was the greatest gift(s) I’ve ever been given (except for the purple Jordans Amanda got me for Christmas).

15. Seriously, let’s give the mothers a round of applause.

Meeting Mommy x2

Bye.

Anniversary Rap

Oh snap!

(Do people still say that?)

Me and my BFF made an anniversary rap:

Anniversary Rap

Happy 8th Anniversary, Amanda!

Yesterday, I wrote a post about some of the mistakes I made that once crippled my marriage.  It’s never easy to share the dark parts of my past, so I greatly appreciate the kind words and support.

I’m a complicated guy who likes to swerve between serious and silly in a haphazard manner.  Thus, here’s Part 2 of my marriage post: a surprise anniversary rap for Amanda.  It’s awkward.

Thanks so much for watching!  You can check out other dumb “music” videos here.

The Marriage Mistakes

Today is my eighth wedding anniversary.  I have three thoughts about that:

1.  I’m thankful that we’ve made it this long.
2.  We’re old.
3.  I wish I didn’t screw up the first six years.

I was 22 when we got married back in 2005.  Thus, I didn’t know anything.  Unsurprisingly, we got off to a rocky start.  Three days before our wedding, Amanda wanted to pull a “Runaway Bride” and ditch everything.  She told me to marry one of her non-sister bridesmaids instead.  That would have been awkward for Amanda’s family who showed up for the wedding.

Thankfully, I didn’t get left at the altar.
The Mistakes of Marriage

Law school and the pressures of teaching a classroom full of middle school kids didn’t help.  Neither did watching too much trashy TV.  We talked about divorce in 2009.  We talked about divorce in 2010.  We talked about it a lot more in 2011.  However, by the grace of God, we stuck it out, mostly because neither one of us wanted to be responsible for taking the dog out twice a day.  Back in October 2011, I returned from a ten-day trip to Turkey, and BAM, everything was different.  We got the fresh start we desperately needed.

Wedding Chapel

Although I’m not a marriage expert and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, I’ve learned these important lessons from my many mistakes over the past eight years:

(1)  Your wedding is not that important.  Yep, it should be a fun, amazing, and joyous day of celebration.  However, it’s just one day.  Don’t lose sight of the person you are marrying and why you are marrying him or her because you’re too stressed about floral arrangements and seating assignments.

(2)  I love TV.  I love the internet.  However, I’ve spent way too much time looking at screens over the past eight years instead of hanging with my wife.  I regret that.  The two of you sitting on the couch while you each stalk people on Facebook or watch “Heroes” shouldn’t count as your “quality” time (especially because “Heroes” sucked after the first season).

(3)  Work is important.  School is important.  Neither is more important than a relationship with your spouse.  It’s hard to live that out day-to-day, but if you don’t, those lost days will quickly turn into months and years.

(4)  When you get mad at your spouse, it’s easy to start thinking about how your life would be so much better if you were single or if you had married someone else.  Don’t go down that road.  It usually leads to dark places full of discontent and lies.

(5)  Don’t dwell on old drama.  It’s fun, in some sort of twisted way, to reopen old wounds and play the blame game.  However, those types of shenanigans will poison your relationship with bitterness.  You need to learn from past mistakes, not dwell on them.

To avoid ending on a serious and depressing note, here’s a picture of our dog wearing sunglasses:

Napoleon Sunglasses

The Family

Other than some intense hours at work spent wrasslin’ with an Excel spreadsheet that has more than 20,000 rows, today was a pretty sweet Monday:

I chilled with this cool girl I know:

Amanda

I kicked it with this tough guy:

Napoleon Titanic

We also got to see our little dude and dudette during a sonogram appointment today.

The dude:

Boy

The dudette:

Girl

The sonogram appointments are pretty tiring: it’s really warm in there, the white noise is sleep-inducing, and you spend 1-2 hours staring at a grainy screen.  However, those appointments are such a powerful reminder about the miracle and wonder of life.  The doctor also gives out free mints.

We’re so thankful for these little superstars.  They appear to be perfectly healthy and they have already brought us so much joy, thankfulness, and faith (and increased credit card bills).  Most importantly, the baby doctor is right next to a McDonald’s, so the babies have given us a wonderful excuse to crush some McFlurries.

Finally, we decided on the names. It’s so exciting, and makes everything so much more real, when it’s not just a “baby” or a “dude,” but a “Luke” or “Leia.”  We’ll keep the names a secret for now, but, for better or for worse, my top choices didn’t make the cut.  Thus, no Luke and Leia, Justin and Britney, Aaron and Erin, or Andy and Mandy.

Thankful

Christmas and Halloween are pretty rad, but Thanksgiving is the Britney Spears of holidays.  

Thanksgiving is the best holiday.  Yo.

There is amazing food, endless football, and it’s not out-of-control crazy like Christmas.  Most importantly, it’s an amazing time of reflection and gratitude.

Our 2013 Thanksgiving Family Photo
Thankful

Things will look a little different next year.

Oh, and I can eat SO much pumpkin pie during Thanksgiving and not even feel that bad about it.

Thankful5

Back to the “important” stuff.  Being thankful and junk.

Here’s what I’m most thankful for in 2013:

-A God who forgives.  I desperately need that.  All the time.

-A wife who is patient and doesn’t reject my pleas to help film “music” videos.

Awkward White Guy Rap - Lose Yourself - Eminem

-The dude(tte) who invented selfies.

Thankful3

Thankful7

-Creative friends.

Bert and Ernie

-A little boy and a little girl.

Sonogram

Sriracha.  I put that stuff on everything.

-Jordans

Jordans

-Baby Jordans.

Baby Jordans

-The new fro-yo place by my office.

-The new fro-yo place by my house.

Justin Timberlake.  “Mirrors” was my jam this year.

-My new brother-in-law.  Now I don’t feel like a third wheel when Amanda and her sister hang out.

steven

-A job where I can be myself

-A church that encourages me to become a better version of myself

-Tom Brady.  Thanks for standing ten feet away from me in January.  It was fun hanging out with you.  (It counts.)

-Sparkling water

-The heroes who come to our Cap City Church small group.  Y’all are nuts, but you are encouraging and entertaining individuals who I don’t want to do life without.

-“Wrecking Ball.”  This was the best song of 2013.  Hopefully I didn’t ruin it.

-The Mexican and Peruvian restaurants by our house.

Thankful7

-Razors

razor

Hannah M., Brian W., Matt C., Jon Acuff, and Taylor Swift.  You all inspired and encouraged me to start writing this blog.  Thanks.  Now, you must apologize to the rest of the world.

-The people who read this blog.  It means the world to me and I am so grateful for you.

-Red pants

redpants

-My Virginia Beach friends.  Yes, our city can be a little cheesy.  Yes, it can be a little trashy.  However, it’s an amazing place to grow up.  Plus, it’s full of spectacular people.

blog2

-All my friends.  Thanks for the encouragement and the laughs.

-My BFFs who decided to marry each other.

howardandkelly

-Beaches in winter

-The people who actually watch my dumb “rap” videos.  They have gotten 40,000 hits on YouTube over the past few months.  That makes me a little scared for humanity.  However, ease up on the mean YouTube comments.  We have feelings too!

-Kelly Kapowski

-Silly friends

Stop Yelling

Chubbies Shorts

-Cheesy baby stuff

Halloween Shirt

-My red Puma coat.  I’m biased, but it’s pretty dope.

Eric and Andrew

-Taco Bell.  I want you everyday.

-Getting every penny back from our trip to Toronto that was cancelled at the last second due to a blizzard.

-Going crazy for Amanda’s 30th birthday by building her a tower of 30 presents.

amanda gifts

-Being alive

-Powdered donuts

-Game nights

twister

-The Washington Nationals.  The 2013 season was disappointing, but we still had fun.

lombo

-Haribo gummy bears

-Haribo everything else

-Our flower beds.  It was fun feeling like an old man each morning I watered the beautiful flowers and plants Paul, Eddie, and Chris planted.

Nando’s Peri Peri.  If you’ve never been, go immediately.  Eat everything.

Bonobos

bonobos

-UVA’s basketball team.  Thanks for helping me heal from a disastrous UVA football season.

-“Cruise” by Florida-Georgia Line and Nelly.  I love this song.  A lot.

-My bicycle

-Not crashing on my bike at all in 2013

-Family

-Sunrises

-Sunsets

-Chips and salsa

-Jack Link’s beef jerky

…and…most importantly…

My dog

photo

Oh, and Zack Morris.  Thanks for the inspiration, bro.

The Gift of Giving

I was up until 1:00am “tonight” doing work.  I’m now writing this at 2:00am even though I should probably be sleeping or watching late night P90X informericals to inspire me to lose some weight.  Because it’s way too late and my mind is kind of a mess, I’m going to try to keep this post short, just like my BFF Phil.

In addition to our love for junk food, weekend mornings without alarm clocks, and Taco Bell, we all have something in common:

We really enjoy getting gifts.

The Gift of Giving

Even my dog loves getting gifts.

The Gift of Giving - Napoleon

But do you know what’s BETTER than getting gifts?

Lady Gaga.

gaga

Wait, although true, that’s not what I’m going for right now.

GIVING GIFTS!

It’s really easy to hate on humanity.  All the other drivers on the road suck and everyone else on the Metro smells like an armpit (except for you and me).  If we still read newspapers, we’d see horrifying news on the cover each day.  Worst of all, people use the wrong form of your/you’re way too often.

Despite our flaws, there’s a positive spark in all of us.  A spark that can radically impact our world.  It might be buried under layers of insecurity, resentment, and years of calloused pain, but it’s there.

Let it out.

Yo.

My goal over the next few days is to think of something I’m good at, which shouldn’t be too hard because the list is pretty short, and then use that gift to bless someone else.  I used to write funny poems for people in high school, so yea, maybe it’s time for those to come back.

If you’re a great encourager, hit up one of your friends on the telephone just to chat.  With your ears and mouth, not thumbs.  If you are an artist, paint someone a picture.  If you have righteous baking skills, make me some cookies.  If you love pop music, do a surprise song-and-dance routine at a friend’s birthday party.

The Gift of Giving - 3

YOU all have amazing gifts and talents.  Use them.

(Seriously, make me some cookies.)

Even Divas Love Church

Despite my love for shoes and my passion for fashion, I’m actually not the biggest diva in our house.

Meet Napoleon.

Even Divas Love Church

He’s a seven-pound beast.  However, like Cubs fans in October, he is never satisfied.  No amount of treats is ever sufficient and laying on the floor without pillows is inconceivable.  He’s a diva.  In fact, he hates everything that doesn’t involve him eating, sleeping, or humping.

Almost.

This little diva dude loves church.  Specifically, Capital City Church in Washington, D.C.

There’s hope for everyone.  Even rappers.