Feminist Dad

I’ve learned a few important lessons during my six months of being a dad:

(1) I love traveling. I love baseball games. I love biking. None of those things come close to the magnificence of hanging out with my kids at home.

(2) Rolling Stone said that Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” is the greatest song ever. Rolling Stone is a liar. The right answer is “Butterfly Kisses.” You win, Bob Carlisle.

(3) I am a feminist.

I say that with pride.

“Feminism” is a word that may spark many different reactions. I’m an old school gangsta so I like to cut through the nonsense and go straight to the basics. Here’s what my homeboy Webster has to say about the word “feminism”:

“the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities”

Well, that was easy.

So why do I call myself a “feminist”?

That’s easy too.

(1) I believe God created men and women as equals. God has the same abundant love and limitless grace for all of us.

(2) Everyone is equal under the United States Constitution. Unfortunately, that was not always the case. It is now though, so we should embrace it passionately.

(3) I want my bold, remarkable, brilliant, beautiful, hilarious, and magnificent daughter to get the same opportunities and respect as my spirited, adorable, enormous, goofy, handsome, and gregarious son.

Feminist Dad

I fear that will not be the case.

We live in a world where people asked Amanda if she was going back to work after the kids were born, but no one asked me.

We live in a world where it seems like every single item of baby “girl” clothing is pink or covered with flowers, hearts, or cupcakes.

We live in a world where one of the most popular organizations in America suspends an employee two games for beating up his wife, but another employee four games for taking prescription drugs.

We live in a world where people make jokes and memes about that very issue.

We live in a world where gaggles of men ogle and harass women at bus stops.

We live in a world where nearly all of our political and business leaders are men.

We live in a world where girls are told to be princesses. If my daughter wants to be a princess, we will have the grandest of tea parties and make-believe balls. Cinderella will be jealous. I hope my daughter grows up dreaming about being President or a scientist, but it will be her choice.

We live in a world where women in magazines are photoshopped because apparently just being themselves is not good enough.

We live in a world where I’m told I should dress my daughter “like a girl” when I put both kids in cheesy cartoon costumes for their monthly birthday photo.

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We live in a world where 20% women are raped at some point in their lives.

We live in a world where rape victims are blamed for their “bad” choices.

I don’t want my daughter to live in that world.

I don’t want my wife to live in that world.

I don’t want my son to live in that world.

I don’t want to live in that world.

That’s why I’m a feminist.

Me and My Drool-Covered and Fabulous Daughter:

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Never Forget

Thirteen years ago today, I was a first-year student at the University of Virginia. Most mornings, I ate too many waffles at the dining hall. On the morning of September 11, 2001, I decided to go to the gym. I walked in, sat on a stationary bike, and nerded out by reading a book about JFK. I looked up at one of the TVs in the gym. They weren’t flat in those days. They also weren’t HD. I saw a bunch of smoke and the frantic faces of terrified people on the television screen. I assumed there had been a bombing in the Middle East. It was not Israel or Jordan. It was New York City.

I watched as the reporters on television spoke of an airplane crash and a tragic accident. I watched as flames smoldered near the top of the first tower and smoke began to fill the sky. As I watched, I saw a second plane rocket across the screen and smash into the second tower. As I sat on a stationary bike, I watched hundreds of people die on live television. It felt like I was watching a movie. Everyone in the gym stopped what they were doing. The world changed. We were under attack. I wondered whether Charlottesville could be a target. I was afraid that my family and friends in the Virginia Beach area were in danger because of all the military facilities down there. No one in the gym checked their emails, text messages, or Facebook accounts. Smartphones and social media didn’t exist. We stood there and watched. Together.

There were frantic reports of bombings, fires, and other missing planes. People could be seen jumping from the tops of the towers. I had never witnessed such raw fear and desperation and I hope I never will again. As we continued to watch in an eerie silence, one of the towers collapsed. In the comfort of an air-conditioned gym hundreds of miles away, we watched thousands of people die. Shortly thereafter, it happened again. There were massive clouds of ash on television. Underneath it were mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters.

Every 9/11, I watch the videos again. I watch the planes crash into the buildings. I watch the towers fall. I watch people jump to their deaths. The news reports look so old these days, but it still hurts. I try to imagine the fear of the people on those planes and in those buildings, but I can’t do it. I can’t even begin to understand the horror. I’m left feeling both sorrow and gratitude that I’ve never had to choose between being burned to death or jumping from a 100-story window.

Most of all, I’m left feeling confused. I don’t understand why someone could do something so horrific. I don’t understand why someone would kill thousands of people just because they are different. I don’t understand why after thirteen years, trillions of dollars, and thousands of additional lives lost at war, there are even crazier terrorists who want to see Americans die. I don’t understand how we can stress about traffic, bad Wi-Fi connections, and a waiter who takes too long to bring us menus when we all share the common experience of watching thousands of people die a horrifying death simply because they were Americans.

I stayed at the gym for three hours that day. It feels like yesterday. I will never forget. I will never forget to take life for granted.

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.

6 Months - 2

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:

The Best

I’m probably not the smartest guy you’ve ever met. If I am, you need to meet more people. However, I do know one thing:

The 1990s were the greatest decade ever.

You want proof? Excellent. I’m a lawyer, so I like stuff like that. Here’s your proof:

“Saved by the Bell”

The Best

Honestly, that should be enough to settle any debate. However, here are a few more reasons why the 1990s were the best decade ever:

-It was cool to wear a Bugs Bunny shirt to school

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-The Nintendo 64. I could have sworn those graphics looked just like real life.

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-WCW v. NWO v. WWF.  Mondays were awesome.

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-Epic TV shows like “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” and “The Fresh Prince.” Two of those shows are now on “Nick at Nite.” That makes me want to cry.

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-Oh, and “TRL.” I miss the days when seeing a thirty-second clip of your favorite music video was the highlight of your day. Seriously, that show was the peak of MTV and still the best thing that ever happened at 4pm.

-The 1990s graced us with songs such as “Gangsta’s Paradise,” “Getting Jiggy Wit’ It,” “Wonderwall,” “Waterfalls,” “Black or White,” “Wannabe,” everything Lauryn Hill did back then, “Baby One More Time,” “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” “Vogue,” “Jumper,” “Push,” “Sabotage,” “Ironic,” “One,” every Hootie and the Blowfish song, “No Diggity,” “California Love,” “Hypnotize,” “Iris,” “Don’t Speak,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “1979,” “Mr. Jones,” every Boyz 2 Men song, and, of course, the greatest song in the history of the world: “Ice Ice Baby” (dum dum dum da da da dum)

-Oh, and “I Want it That Way.” That is the song of our generation even though no one knows what the lyrics mean. It’s that good.

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-In the 1990s, “TGIF” was more than just a phrase. I miss the 1990s.

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-“Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and the “Lion King” were back-to-back-to-back Disney masterpieces. There would be a lot fewer wars, violence, and crime if we were all required to watch those movies each week.

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-The best movie in the history of the world was released in the 1990s:

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Nothing has ever captured my sense of wonder like “Jurassic Park.” Except for the Seven-Layer Burrito at Taco Bell.

[ Timeout: There are many more items to include, but it's 1:00am. Thus, I'll wrap this up soon. Time in. ]

Timeout

Finally, the 1990s were the best decade ever because we weren’t so obsessed with the internet. We were at the perfect point in the evolution of technology. An endless world of information was at our fingertips, but only at dial-up speed and if no one else at home was using the telephone. We no longer had to rely on Microsoft Encarta or World Book Encyclopedia to answer all our questions, but we couldn’t get an answer to every question within seconds. You had to work for it. Oh, you had a favorite song in 1997? Then go buy the CD for $20. Or if you were really tech savvy, you could download that bad boy on Napster or some other shady site while fighting through thousands of pop-up ads. There were no iPods or MP3 players. If you wanted to listen to a song away from home, you had a Walkman or Discman. Good luck using the latter when exercising. Today, we can download or stream a song within seconds from anywhere.

All these technological advancements are great things. However, it’s time for the old man rant. I miss the days when everything wasn’t so connected, so instant, and so constant. I miss the days when you would hang out with friends and family and you were hanging out with friends and family, not all the different people on their respective newsfeeds. I fear that we’re missing out on so many of life’s treasures because of cellphones. Magical things can happen when we’re focused on the people around us or when our minds are empty and open to the creative sparks that happen during times of mental silence. Instead, we often fill those moments by looking at a screen.

Zach Morris Phone

Reminders

After a year of consistent blogging, I’ve fallen off the wagon in recent months.

Here’s the reason why:

Well, actually, here’s the reasons why:

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Those kids are the greatest blessings in my life. I love them so much. However, along with all the incredible joys, there are many challenges. The kids have decided that sleep is overrated and they usually cry a combined ten times a night. That means that the carpet between our bedroom and the nursery is well-worn and that my wife and I are really tired. All the time. I’ve also been struggling with the work/life balance in recent weeks. It’s hard to see my kids for only a few minutes at night. To even make that happen, I usually have to rush home to make it back before bedtime and then I work late at night. In light of all that, stuff like blogging, exercise, and basic hygiene have fallen by the wayside.

So even though the kids have made life a little more challenging, tiring, and complicated, they bring me infinite and indescribable joy.

They also remind me to be thankful and to never give up hope.

Three years ago, our marriage was a hot mess. We talked about divorce. It makes me so sad to admit this, but I researched Virginia’s divorce laws. Amanda spent a lot of nights in our guest bedroom.

Three years later, that bedroom is now inhabited by two demanding long-term guests who don’t even pay rent: our kids.

Three years later, our marriage has never been stronger.

Three years later, I’m so thankful for such an incredible wife. I’m so thankful for such wonderful kids. I’m so thankful for God’s infinite grace.

I’m also thankful that throughout all of the stresses and worries of life, I have four beautiful and hilarious reminders who will never let me forget how much I’ve been blessed.

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See you tomorrow (or in two weeks).

A Friend Like You

The death of Robin Williams has made me very sad. I never knew him, but he had a profound impact on my childhood. I know millions of other folks feel the same way.

The news was shocking. Of course, none of us know why he’d take his own life. Mental illness is such a powerful force. I’ve seen it rip apart my own family in recent years. We’re repeatedly left asking the question “why?”. There is no answer.

Robin Williams has left an incredible legacy of laughter. However, I hope his greatest legacy will be the awareness his passing brings to mental health issues. There are millions of people out there who desperately need help. My brother is one of them.

Rather than do a disservice to mental health issues, which I know little about, I want to write about a few fun and silly ways Robin Williams impacted my life over the years:

1. I don’t care what the experts say, “Aladdin” is the best Disney movie of all time (“The Lizzie McGuire Movie” is a close second). The music in “Aladdin” is amazing, the story is great, Abu is my dude, and Jafar is an epic villain. However, that movie is legendary because of Robin Williams. His Genie character was fantastic. He also improvised most of it. Genius. I loved “Aladdin” so much, I would watch the cartoon show every single day after school in sixth grade. I was a hardcore middle schooler.

Friend Like You

2. “Hook.” It was my first favorite movie. It was also my first job. I loved that movie so much in second grade that I would sit in class and doodle pictures from the movie. Of course, I then put them in the front of my Trapper Keepers. Other kids saw them. Other kids wanted them. I wasn’t about go give my masterpieces away for free, so I charged a dollar for each drawing. I made $4. I was rich.

“Hook” has continued to play a significant role in my life, 20+ years later. A few weeks before the babies were born, we watched “Hook.” It was still such a great movie. However, I had a bit of an identity crisis. It seemed like only a few heartbeats ago that I was a little kid watching that movie and swindling classmates out of their money to buy my terrible drawings. As a little boy watching the movie, I identified with Peter’s kids and the Lost Boys. Now, all of a sudden, I had become the dad in the film. Much like Peter, I had grown up. However, just like Peter, and just like Robin, I’m still a kid at heart (and I’ll still draw you a picture from the movie for a $1).

Hook

3. All kids like to push their bedtime to the limit. Our kids hate sleeping. As soon as we put them down to bed, they start laughing and hollering to keep themselves awake and to try to convince us that we should let them stay up later and play with them instead. I remember once in elementary school I stayed up past my bedtime. No one said anything. So I stayed up longer. I ended up watching “The Tonight Show” by myself. That joint came on at like 11pm, so I was living on the edge. Robin Williams was a guest on the show. I probably didn’t understand all the jokes and references, but I laughed so hard. He told a story about throwing sandwiches from a hot air balloon. I thought it was the greatest thing ever.

4. I saw “Jumanji” in seventh grade. I was terrified. I had legitimate concerns that a herd of rhinos would come storming through my bedroom. I was in the seventh grade. That’s proof that Robin Williams was not just a hilarious comedian, but a phenomenal actor (and that I’m a wimp).

Thanks for the laughs, Robin. You will be missed.

Thank God It’s Monday

Thank God it’s Monday.

Like nails on a chalkboard or Britney Spears singing the National Anthem, those words just don’t sound right.

I’ve spent most of my “22” years dreading Mondays. It usually starts on Sunday nights. Once 6 or 7pm hits, the inevitable march towards Monday morning begins. There are feelings of dread, stress, and sadness. Once Monday morning arrives, the complaining about work usually begins soon thereafter.

Lately, I’ve realized that I spend too much time complaining and just trying to survive until the weekend.

No more.

I heard an awesome message at church a few weeks ago from a guest speaker who challenged us to stop dreading Mondays, to stop complaining about work, and to stop spending our days thinking about the next big thing. Rather, he encouraged us to treat work like an opportunity to be a positive influence on others, to serve those in need, and to think of work as another way to give props to God.

Hello.

I felt convicted. I needed an attitude adjustment. So now I’m saying, “thank God it’s Monday.”

TGIM.

However, I’ll miss these two:

TGIM