Incomplete

I was in Atlanta this past week. Despite all the rumors on TMZ, I did not spend my four days in the ATL partying it up with Outkast. It was a work trip. When I wasn’t working, I was missing my family (and making an ill-advised decision to eat an entire pizza at 11:30pm).

I often spent breaks flipping through photos of the kids on my phone. It felt depressingly silent during the early mornings and late nights without babies crying. I missed the constant whir of the white noise sound machine.

I felt incomplete.

A year ago, I didn’t even know these little kids existed.

It was on July 19, 2013 that I found out we were having a baby. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I instantly loved that little nameless and faceless baby who was only the size of a poppy seed.  A few weeks later, we thought we may have lost the baby. We were terrified. Instead, we found out we were having two babies.

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I thank God for those two miracles every single day.

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Sure, there are times when I’d like to take a nap or I’m tired of walking up the stairs to put a pacifier in a crying baby’s mouth, but I can’t imagine life without these kids. They have melted this thug’s heart. I don’t know how the military heroes of our world do it. Being away from the kids for four days felt like an eternity. I can’t imagine having to do it for six months.

In short, it is really good to be home.

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All-Stars

Hi.

Tonight is Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. Unfortunately, I fell a few million votes short of making one of the teams. Maybe next year.

In the interim, I’ve put together a list of some of the All-Stars in my life. This list isn’t exclusive, but just some of the names I could think up at midnight. I just want to say thanks to these people for being awesome.

Amanda M.: I’m really glad I married this lady. She makes me laugh every single day.

Steve Ellis: I’m guessing none of y’all know Steve. I don’t know Steve. However, Steve founded Chipotle. Thank you, Steve.

Paul M. and Eddie W.: These guys are some of our BFFs. They make us laugh, they are always there to help, and they are incredible cooks.

Paul and I as (unintentionally creepy) Bert and Ernie, Halloween 2013:

All Stars

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Hannah M.Hannah inspired me to start this blog. She also loves the same kind of terrible music that I enjoy.

Tom Brady: He’s won “5” Super Bowls for my beloved New England Patriots. Thank you, Tom. We should hang out again:

My mom and Amanda’s mom: Both of them have stayed with us a bunch over the first few months of our kids’ lives. Their love, support, and help have been priceless. We would not have survived without them.

Joe S.We send a lot of snarky texts. Most of them are about baseball and the horrible grammar we see people use on Facebook. It is healthy to vent somewhere.

Steve F.: More snarky texts. Most are about crazy stuff our kids do, the highs and lows of being a lawyer, and how amazing our wives are at everything. Steve also makes me feel young when we hang out because he’s much older than me.

Josh O.: I look up to this guy more than I do any of my other friends. Josh is 6’6″.

Howard and Kelly A.: Howard has been one of my BFFs for 20+ years. They are the nicest people in the world. Kelly is also really short.

Kelly and Josh:

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Terrence C.This guy drives like a thousand miles to church on Sunday. He’s a wonderful, insightful, and funny guy who I am honored to know. He also likes Mexican food.

Kim and Matt H.These two model the love of Jesus in such incredible ways. Plus, their son is absurdly cute.

Vanilla Ice: Thank you for the inspiration and the greatest work of art ever created.

Dennis and Donna P: They are such incredible pastors, mentors, and inspirations.

Ryan Zimmermann: You’ve followed me from Virginia Beach, to UVA, to DC. Thank you for the support. You are also my favorite baseball player.

Joy and Hunter W.These two are crazy. Crazy because they are willing to do whatever it takes to build an incredible church community.

Andy DunnThis guy is the reason I wear pink, yellow, green, orange, and purple pants. He founded Bonobos.

“Wear the Rainbow.”

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Chris D. and Alissa K.: These two are hilarious. They are getting married in October. I can’t wait to celebrate their lives. However, I’ve been told that I have to stay at least 20 feet away from the microphone.

Charles C.This guy constantly challenges me to be a better man, husband, and father. He is from Texas. I am too.

Brian WilliamsHe is my favorite newscaster. He is also my baseball BFF and such a wise and thoughtful friend.

Chad and Kaci C.: Their lives are crazy, but they live them out with incredible grace, composure, and humor. We want to be parents like them.

Ben I.: This guy came to church one time and was volunteering the next week. He has been such an inspiration to so many people at our church.

Ron M.Amazing man. Amazing life story. Amazing musician. Amazing beard.

John C.Very few of my guy friends love shoes as much as I do. John does. #solidarity

Jen S. and David W.I could not live the thug life without them.

My grandparents: I would not be here without them. Literally. Plus, all four are magnificent human beings.

My kids: They have changed everything. For the better.

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Okay, time to go to bed. Bye.

 

Communication is Key (and hilarious)

People always say that communication is the key to success in any relationship. Other than figuring out who is going to wash the dishes, which is often a stumbling block in our marriage, that is probably correct. Having kids has also taught me that communication can be incredibly fun and hilarious.

At first, the kids were just little blobs. They could barely open their eyes. They could only cry, eat (sometimes a challenge), poop, pee, and look around ever so slightly. Occasionally, I could tell they would look at me for a brief moment. It was priceless. As they got older, those looks grew longer. Eventually those looks turned into stares.

Communication is Key (and Hilarious)

Then the kids started to squeak, or in our daughter’s case, shriek, and then they started to smile. Not because of gas, but because they were happy. “Sentences” of sounds, screams, and shrieks came next. We have had many conversations with the kids full of incoherent and high-pitched noises. Then, came the laughs, which are my favorite. Each step has been so priceless, so fun, and so hilarious.

Just like me, Austin is a little camera shy and he usually stops laughing and talking whenever the camera is around. Well, we used some ninja camera skills this week and caught him in these two fun videos. Enjoy!

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Austin and Madison Talking About Their July 4th Plans

Tears, Fears, and Tantrums

Babies.

They can’t talk, they can’t feed themselves, they can’t walk, and they can’t take out the trash (yet).

But babies do have the power to bring a person to his or her knees in tears, whether it is due to a stunning smile or a relentless tantrum.

Hi. There have been a lot of tears in our house this week.

My dear Madison, our fearless leader, our brilliant and beautiful baby girl, our “change my diaper right NOW” diva, has been embracing the “Mad” part of her name over the past week. She had a little attitude during her time in the womb and she’s continued to rock it since the day she was born:

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Madison has been reminding us that she’s in charge lately. So much that we were pretty certain we’d get kicked out of our hotel last week. While Austin’s cries are pitiful, Madison’s cries are, well, full of “spunk.” Lately, when she gets hungry or tired, instead of just eating or falling asleep, she politely lets us, and everyone on our street, know that she runs this town.

This has led us to take some desperate measures, including standing on the side of the highway swinging her car seat and sitting in a pitch black bathroom rocking her for thirty minutes as the bath water runs. Of course, we’ve been playing Katy Perry music A LOT. It’s been intense. It’s been frustrating. It’s been tiring. Those moments create a ton of raw emotion. We’ve felt like we’re doing something wrong, we’ve felt helpless, we’ve worried that she might be sick, and we’ve both needed to take a mental and emotional timeout. But that crying, fussing, drooling, squirming, screaming baby is our glorious, fearless, world-changing daughter. So we do whatever it takes, despite the exhaustion, frustration, and tears.

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While Madison’s “spunky” moments have weighed heaviest on Amanda, that little girl has been causing me all sorts of tears too. These kids bring me so much joy that I’ve cried more over the past three months than my entire life combined (excluding the Patriots’ Super Bowl losses to the Giants). On Saturday, as I was driving home from playing basketball with some dudes from church, I heard this song on the radio called “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman. It’s all about a dad and his daughter and how she grows up so quickly. Of course, the daughter gets married in the end of the song. Of course, it’s super cheesy. Of course, I was crying the entire car ride home.

Because that’s my baby girl. She’s not allowed to grow up. Neither is her brother.

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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.

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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!

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.

A Fantastic Beginning

I’m a dad now.

A Fantastic Beginning

The last five days have been some of the most tiring, stressful, paranoid, and intense moments of my life.

They have also been the best.

I know everyone thinks I’m this really tough guy, but I’ve got a sensitive side too.  I’m so in love with these kids and so humbled by the opportunity to be their dad, I’ve cried at least a dozen times over the past few days.  This world has so many adventures to offer, but there is nothing better than holding these kids in my arms.

I haven’t slept much over the past week, but I used some of my late-night free time to make a short video that captures some special moments from Day One.  Enjoy!