Home Alone

Although I don’t own a volleyball, I feel a lot like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” this week.

I’m living alone.

All alone.

We spent the weekend at a lake house with Amanda’s parents. It was awesome. This morning, I woke up at 5:30am, got ready in the darkness and in complete silence to avoid waking up the semi-sleeping kids, and boarded a train back to DC. Everyone else is still at the lake house. Even Napoleon stayed behind so he can do some water skiing.

20140630-102524-37524767.jpg

So how will I spend the next few days home alone? Other than working, going to a Nationals game, and warding off burglars with broken Christmas ornaments and buckets of paint, I’ll be sleeping. Like, going to bed at 9pm and not waking up to baby shrieking at 2:30am kind of sleeping.

Although I’ll miss everyone dearly, the thought of uninterrupted and peaceful sleep is a beautiful and glorious thing (but still not as beautiful as my wife, kids, Chihuahua, and all the junk food at the lake house).

Happy Monday, y’all!

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…

IMG_6753

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.

IMG_6729

See you next year. Word to your mother.

One Night

I spend most of my work days sitting at a desk.

I spend most of my work days staring at Microsoft Word.

I spend most of my work days resisting the urge to eat all the free cookies in the break room.

But not this Thursday night.

Oh no, not this Thursday night.

This Thursday night. I will rap. I will dance. I will wear a crazy costume.

For work.

One Night - 4

This Thursday night, June 26, 2014, is the 11th annual “Banding Together” battle of the law firm bands throwdown in DC. Other than free burrito day at Chipotle during Teacher Appreciation Week, it is probably my favorite night of the year.

Here’s why:

1. This event raises more than $275,000 for Gifts for the Homeless, an amazing charity that provides clothes for the DC homeless community. This proves that lawyers are capable of doing good stuff.

2. I get to perform on the same stage where the Foo Fighters, Arcade Fire, the Killers, Kings of Leon, Radiohead, and the Roots have all jammed. I apologize for hurting those bands’ street cred.

One Night - 3

3. I get to perform with some amazing, talented, and funny people:

Sutherland Comfort. We’re often mistaken for the Wu-Tang Clan.

photo-18

4. 1,000+ people go to this thing. Although a lawyer battle of the bands might sound kind of lame, it’s not. It’s pretty [[ insert whatever is the most current word for hype/cool/ill/dope/ ]].

5. I’ve made the Washington Post twice for this event. Unfortunately, both times I was shown wearing the (fake) red Kangol hat pictured above.

6. A bunch of my awesome friends go. You should too. Please?

One Night

7. I’ve been practicing the Running Man. For work.

8. Sarah Jessica Parker would be jealous of my on-stage wardrobe changes.

One Night - 2

9. Our firm really supports this thing. We raised $45,000 for our band last year. People at our office buy Sutherland Comfort t-shirts. They also scream really loudly to help cover up my slightly-worse-than-average rapping.

10. I’ll be singing one of the most important songs in the history of the world.

In short, I’m a little bit excited about Thursday night (but also fearful that I pass out or fall off the stage and end up on Tosh.0). If you are in DC that night and want to help support the homeless community, come on out and watch some lawyers get turnt (or turned?) up! The event starts at 7:00pm and is going down at the Black Cat. Sutherland Comfort will start rocking the stage around 9:15pm. Tickets are $10. If you can’t attend, but would still like to contribute to this awesome cause, you can do so here. Finally, if you feel compelled to babysit two adorable twins that night so Amanda can attend, that would be the illest.

An Idiot’s Guide to the World Cup

Billions of people around the world have been getting turnt up over the past week:

Prince George took his first steps and Kelly Clarkson had a baby!

Additionally, the World Cup is back.

World Cup GIF - 2

I’ll admit it: I don’t follow soccer. I don’t know all the rules, I don’t understand all the different professional leagues, and I don’t get why people laugh when I say Beckham is the greatest human player ever.

However, I do watch soccer every four years. Yes, I’m one of those people. I know a lot of soccer fans look down on folks like me. I’m sorry. It is what it is. However, after spending many weeks in dingy hostels overseas with European hipsters over the years, I’ve learned to fake my soccer knowledge enough to avoid too much scorn.

World Cup - GIF 3

So if you’re like me, and you feel a bit lost with this whole soccer thing, here are a few tips to help you pretend that you know what’s going on when watching the World Cup with your friends and family who are devoted soccer fans:

  • Complain about the corruption of FIFA, the governing institution for international soccer. Reference the alleged bribes that encouraged FIFA to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Your fellow World Cup viewers will think you are in the know. However, make sure to say “Qatar” really quickly so no one can accuse you of pronouncing it incorrectly.
  • On that note, while watching soccer, call it “football” a few times. Soccer/Football fans get really excited about that and you’ll look cultured and distinguished.
  • Reference a soccer “game” as a soccer “match.” I don’t know why. Fancy soccer fans also refer to the “field” as a “pitch.” That one will win impress your friends.
  • Soccer fans reference the sport as “the beautiful game.” Although the rest of us know that Apples to Apples is the only game worthy of such a description, if you bust that phrase out at a World Cup party, you’ll score major points. The host may even let you take home the leftover Gouda.
  • If someone asks you who you think will win the World Cup, just go with Brazil. If Brazil is eliminated, you’re on your own. If someone asks you who will win a particular “match,” just use some geography to answer that question in a somewhat reasonable manner:

South America > Europe > Africa > North America > Middle East

  • I’m still not sure about the difference between Holland and the Netherlands, but that small country is apparently really good at soccer. So don’t laugh when someone says they think the Netherlands will win the World Cup.
  • Please don’t complain about all the flopping in soccer. Soccer fans hate it when you say that kind of stuff and will promptly bring up the NBA, Lebron James, and Duke basketball. So just silently sip your Moscato when you see some guy flailing about on the pitch like he’s the worst actor in the world (other than Shia LeBeouf).
  • To appear to be well versed in the game of soccer, and international politics generally, ask your couch neighbor during a World Cup viewing party why he or she thinks China or India can’t field respectable teams. It seems bizarre that the two most populous countries on Earth can’t each find eleven good players to form a team that can qualify for the World Cup.
  • Landon Donovan is the only U.S. soccer play I can name and recognize. I think this is probably true for many other once-every-four-years American soccer fans. Do not ask where Landon is during a U.S. World Cup match in 2014. He did not make the team. This makes me sad.

So if you follow those basic rules, no one will make fun of you when you’re at a World Cup party (and secretly following baseball scores on your iPhone).

Wonders

I’ve written a lot about parenting and family issues lately. It’s time to take a break from the personal stuff and get back to issues of global importance.

First up:

What is the greatest one-hit wonder of all time?

Great question. Thanks for asking. Here’s the answer:

Honorable Mention:

Vicki Sue Robinson – “Turn the Beat Around” – This song makes me wants to jump out of my seat and dance all night in the club.  Unfortunately, I’m a bad dancer and I’m too old and too married to dance all night in a club.

The Heights – “How Do You Talk to an Angel?”  AOL Instant Messenger?

Sinead O’Connor – “Nothing Compares 2 U” – This sorrowful ballad should be in the Top Ten, but a deep, intense, and powerful song like this one deserves to have the words in the title spelled out.  Is that 2 much 2 ask?

Okay.  Now on to the Top Ten.

10.  Marky Mark – “Good Vibrations” – As an awkward white kid growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, two guys gave me hope that anything was possible: Larry Bird, a seemingly non-athletic white guy, was one of the best three basketball players on the planet, and Marky Mark, a seemingly untalented white rapper, made one of the best rap songs ever.

“Vibrations good like Sunkist.”

Marky Mark GIF

9.  Modern English – “Melt With You” – This song is so good that Amanda and I planned to do a ridiculous choreographed dance to it as the first dance at our wedding back in pre-YouTube 2005.  However, we were 22-year-olds planning our own wedding and we ran out of time.  Plus, some of the lyrics would have been an awkward way to kick off a wedding reception.

amanda

8.  The Calling – “Wherever You Will Go” –  During my first year of college, I did three things: (1) eat waffles; (2) play Halo; and (3) listen to this song.

7.  Tag Team – “Whoomp! (There It is.)” This is an oft-forgotten song that, well, should never be forgotten. I remember a bunch of us singing this jam in gym class in elementary school. No one knew the words so it would be thirty seconds of awkward mumbles followed by a bunch of prepubescent kids yelling “Whoomp! There it is!” My only problem with this song is that the video is depressing: 1993 was a long time ago.

6.  Des’ree – “You Gotta Be” – I recorded this song on a cassette player while listening to Deliah one night back in the mid-1990s. I later listened to that tape all week during a basketball camp in 1996. It was my hype song. My roommate laughed. Then he stole all of my basketball jerseys. I still miss my Penny Hardaway jersey.

5.  O-Town – “All or Nothing” – A few months ago, I made a list of the best boy bands. O-Town was on that list. 98 Degrees was not. Hundreds of thousands of Nick Lachey fans sent me nasty emails. No offense to Nick and his frosted tips, but this song is the reason why O-Town was ranked higher. It’s a masterpiece.

o-town-liquid-dreams

4.  Gary Glitter – “Rock and Roll Part II”This song has no words other than “heeeeeeeeey,” but I could still listen to it all day long. Even at 31 years old, I still go nuts when I’m at a UVA game and this (jock) jam is played. Confession: I sometimes play it when the kids are doing tummy time.

2002 (Surprisingly, UVA actually won this football game):

2002

3.  Macy Gray – “I Try” – While some of the songs on this list are cheesy, this one is a moving and powerful work of art. I love it. I also love the fact that Macy Gray and her unorthodox voice and style became a star. 15 years after this song was released, I still sing it all the time (usually when I buy a pack of Double Stuf Oreos after swearing to give them up).

2.  Vanilla Ice – “Ice Ice Baby” – In Exodus, God, in burning bush form, tells Moses to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. We do the same in our house when this song is played.

Vanilla Ice

1.  Francis Scott Key – “The Star-Spangled Banner” – This song is awkward, I don’t know what “spangled” or “ramparts” mean, but America is cool and this is our jam.

America

Bye.

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:

Madison

Madison - II

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.

Madison - 4

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.

photo-17

In the Beginning

Ten years ago today, I went to work. I had just finished my third year at the University of Virginia and I was a baller earning $7.25 an hour selling sneakers at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I spent most of my nights watching Seinfeld, eating ramen, talking to friends on AIM, and studying for the LSAT.

The night of June 4, 2004 was a little different.

I went on a date. A first date.

Her name was Amanda Alward.

We had been friends for about a year. However, it was a very weird “friendship.” It was one of those relationships where you both like each other, but the timing is off and no one wants to bust a move. Thus, our pre-dating story is very complicated and dramatic, largely due to my own immaturity, so I’ll save it for another time. Amanda even told me a few times during that year that she hated me. Ouch. Despite all that, before our first date, I knew she would be the girl I would marry. Amanda felt the same way about me.

On our first date, we went to a drive-in movie just outside Charlottesville, got Slurpees at 7-11, and sat on the steps of the Rotunda and talked for hours. Amanda was supposed to bring a picnic dinner, but was afraid of bringing the “wrong” kind of food, so brought nothing at all instead. On our first date, we told each other that we’d get married someday. On our first date, we wondered aloud what our kids would look and act like.

All on our first date.

People, don’t do that. That’s crazy.

Unless it works.

The funny thing about love and relationships is that there is no guide. No blueprint. No roadmap. I think the fact that we talked about getting married and having kids on our first date is nuts. We were 21 and didn’t know anything, except for the fact that we knew we were on the start of an amazing adventure. Although we didn’t know where the Yellow Brick Road of our lives was leading, we knew we’d be walking the road together.

Of course, at the time, we thought that road would be straight and easy. Despite all the happiness and joy that saturated the start of our relationship, there have been many mistakes over the years and we’ve almost bailed a few times. Of course, ten years ago, we would never have thought anything like that was possible. But it happens. That’s life. Although the tough times have been frustrating, humbling, and challenging, they have helped make our relationship so much richer and stronger.

I’m thankful for a God full of hope and mercy. I’m thankful that Amanda said “yes” ten years ago. I’m thankful that I had 50% off coupons for the movie because “Starsky and Hutch” was terrible.

(Almost) Ten Years Ago
In the Beginning

In the Beginning - II

Our Kids in Front of the Building Where We First Talked About Them. Ten Years Ago.

Rotunda