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:

6 months  - 5

6 months - 4

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.

6 months - 3

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.

6 Months  - 1

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.

photo (11)

photo (15)

photo (16)

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.

Lost and Found

In case you didn’t notice the creepy bunny at the mall or the absurd amount of yellow candy at CVS, Easter is almost here. I’m really excited about Easter this year because we’ll actually be able to go to church. It’s been five years since we’ve been to an Easter service because we were either gallivanting through Thailand or Hungary or visiting my brother in jail. I’m also really excited about Easter because I have a new pair of teal and orange shoes I want to wear.

Oh, and because I have a new appreciation for the story of forgiveness that is central to the message of Easter.

Like every human being ever, I am my own worst critic. I magnify my mistakes and replay the memories of my stupid decisions over and over again like they were Katy Perry songs on my iPhone. I’ve struggled with a lot of the same issues for so many years. It’s tiring. It’s frustrating. I feel defeated, I feel like a loser, I feel condemned. Thus, if I feel that way, then God, OMG, must really feel the same. It has to be a horrible movie for Him to watch me screw up again and again (but it is still a better movie than Cloud Atlas; that was a waste of three hours this week). I feel like the weight of my mistakes is so heavy and my shame so great that I am unworthy of God’s grace.

And then Luke 15 slaps me all up in the head. In this chapter, Jesus tells three stories:

The first is about a sheep that got lost from the herd. Jesus emphasizes that a single sheep is so valuable to the shepherd that he will leave all the other sheep to find the dumb one that went astray. After he finds it, the shepherd invites all his friends over to celebrate the return of his lost sheep. I’ve been to a few awkward parties over the years, but a “I Found My Sheep” party sounds like the worst. Despite that, I still love this story.

The second story in Luke 15 is essentially the same as the tale of the lost sheep, but it is about a lost coin. Thus, there is less poop and fleas, but still the same awkward party at the end to celebrate finding the lost coin.

Finally, there is the story of the prodigal son. I like this one the most because sometimes it is hard to relate to a sheep or coin. However, a dude who lived it up, made some poor life decisions, and found himself full of regret and laying face down in the mud, yea, I get that. Although the prodigal son blew a bunch of his dad’s money on booze and prostitutes, the dad still welcomes his son back with open arms. Yep, the son screwed up. A lot. Yep, he hit rock bottom. Yep, pops still threw a rocking party to celebrate the fact that his son came home. It didn’t matter that the son was filthy. He was home.

I love these stories because they remind me (1) that we should throw more parties; (2) that God isn’t up there excitedly waiting to smack me down each time I screw up; and (3) my mistakes will never be too great for His grace.

I am the sheep.  I am the lost coin.  I am the prodigal son.

I am also hungry for some McDonald’s breakfast. BRB.

Regrets

It’s almost time for Austin and Madison to make their big debuts.  Although it feels like we should be on month five or six of the pregnancy journey, we’re at Week 37 and only have a few days left.

Honestly, I’m filled with so many different emotions.  I’m infinitely excited, I’m stressed about getting the “IT’S TIME” phone call, I’m humbled that I can be a part of something so wonderful, I’m intimidated by the idea of being a role model for two living creatures, and I feel a fulfillment that I’ve never known before.

However, I also feel sad.

No, I’m not sad that we’re having kids (even though we gave up our Nationals season tickets this year because of the babies).

I’m sad that I didn’t live the last eight years to the fullest. Amanda and I are about to enter a very special season of our lives, but it is a season that will look nothing like the past decade. I’ve been becoming increasingly nostalgic about the “old” days when we ate cheap pasta 3-4 nights a week, spent our evenings watching bad reality television, and got home from work at 5:15pm.  We wandered through an Egyptian desert, hiked through Austria, and lived in Cambodia for two months.  We have a lengthy list of things we loved and appreciated about our 8+ years of childless marriage, but it’s hard not to think of the missed opportunities.  

Regrets

It would be nice to say I lived a life without any regrets, but that’s not true. However, I’ve learned from those mistakes.  After eight years of childless marriage, here’s what I wish I had done differently:

I wish I worked less.

I wish we went out to dinner more.

I wish we spent more money. Saving is great, but saving just for the sake of saving isn’t worth it. Sorry, Dave Ramsey.  #yolo

I wish I studied less in law school.

Although we went to 13 different countries, I still wish we traveled more.  There are few things more important than seeing how the other 6,999,999,999 people on this world live.

I shouldn’t have wasted so much time watching TV.  Especially “Heroes.”  That show was terrible after the first season.

I wish we went on more walks.

I wish we never spent a single second trying to blame each other for our marriage problems.

I wish we prayed together more.

I wish I spent less time looking at my phone.

I wish we didn’t walk ten miles through shady parts of Los Angeles to save $20 on a cab.

I wish we did more DC touristy stuff.

Although I didn’t drink a ton of alcohol, I still wish I drank less.

I wish we adopted a second dog. (No offense, Napoleon.)

I wish we bought a grill.  Both the cooking kind and the sweet rapper mouthpiece.

I wish I cared less about what people think and cared more about what God thinks.

I wish I never made Amanda stay at a $5 hostel in Bangkok that had poop on the wall.

Well, that’s the list.  I’m sure there are more things to add, but my metro ride is coming to an end.  I won’t sit around and wallow about those regrets, but the missed opportunities do make me feel a bit sad.  However, reflecting on such things encourages me to do better during this next stage of life.  And I’ll make sure we splurge on the $10 room next time we go to Thailand.

Second Chances

I turned 31 today.

I thought about writing a post about how I still feel young, but that would be a lie.

I feel old.  My knees pop when I walk. I have to take knockoff Ibuprofen every day to keep the swelling in my ankles down. My favorite drink is sparkling water. I fall asleep by 11pm on weekends if I don’t have any plans. I’m always tired. Gardening excites me. I turn on the radio and I don’t recognize most of the songs playing on the “hip” stations (but I still know all of Deliah’s jams at night). I am constantly reminiscing about the “old” days of AIM, *NSYNC, and answering a telephone and not knowing who was on the other end.

Honestly, some of that stuff makes me sad.  I miss being able to lose five pounds over a weekend.  I miss the late-night shenanigans of college.  I miss TRL.

But, yo, I’m so thankful to be 31. I’m so thankful to be alive. I’m so thankful for my friends, my family, my church, my job, and my Chihuahua. I’m so thankful for Justin Timberlake.

I’m so thankful for second chances.

Just a few years ago, I wanted to give up on God. I wanted to walk away from my marriage. I wanted to quit on my dreams. I was bitter and confused.

Thankfully, I’ve seen each of those areas of my life restored. I’m undeserving of such a gift. I thank God for His limitless grace, my wife for her infinite patience, and my friends and family for their constant encouragement.  I thank Justin for “Mirrors.”

I’m thankful for second chances.

I’m also thankful for all of you who feel inspired to babysit our twins.

Purpose

I’m a big believer in the ideal that we each have a purpose in life. I think there is a God-designed narrative out there for all of us where we can have the greatest possible impact on this world. It might be something you discover during your teen years or you might be an immature 30-year-old attorney who is still trying to figure out what he wants to do when he “grows up.”

I’ve been trying to discover my purpose for most of the past decade. I’ve desperately hoped for the indisputable answer written across the sky that points me in the right direction. However, God doesn’t seem to work like that. If the answer is quick and obvious, you’ll learn nothing from the journey.

I just wish the journey wasn’t so long.

Of course, there have been months and years during the past decade when I pushed these types of questions to the side because of exams, busy times at work, and episodes of “Flavor of Love.” However, I’ve thought about these issues every single day for the past two years.

This is a challenging issue because stepping into your purpose usually takes a lot of hard work and I don’t have much free time to be running some kind of side hustle.  Additionally, this also gets tricky because I have a number of different passions, including music, fashion, and Chipotle, but I don’t think any of them are my purpose (unless there is a burrito tester job out there).

Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’ve finally discovered my purpose. However, I am getting closer. I’ve recently realized that there are two things in life that bring me the most joy (other than Chihuahuas, gummy bears, and baseball):

  • making people laugh; and
  • standing on a stage with a microphone.

I would have said the exact same thing ten years ago. However, those feelings have been buried by the stresses and to-do lists of life. Thankfully, our church gives me an opportunity to MC services sometimes, where I have an opportunity to (1) stand on a stage, (2) hold a microphone, and (3) tell cheesy jokes. Doing those things illuminates a spark within me that is unlike anything else I’ve experienced. It just feels right. 

Thus, I need to do it more.  I want to do it more.

Oh, back to that whole fear thing.

For the past two years, I’ve wanted to try stand-up comedy. I’m a pretty outgoing guy, but the thought of bombing in some sketchy nightclub is paralyzing. Well, it’s time to get over that mess. I want to try it. I need to try it.

I’m going to try it.

This year.

That’s partially why I’ve been posting lots of random, and hopefully humorous, Facebook status updates in recent weeks:

Old

Toxic

Taco Bell

Ninja Turtles

Target

I love to laugh at life, both the beauty and the awkwardness. And it’s time to sign up for some comedy classes and talk about the wonders of life on stage. Again, I’m terrified about that idea, but now the three of you who are reading this can help keep me accountable.

Thanks.

Think Fast

There are few things in this world that I love more than gummy bears, Oreos, and Sour Patch Kids. To be honest, I’m not sure if I love anything more than those delectable sweets.  Other than burritos.

However, I’m giving up all that sugary goodness.  Not for a lifetime, but for three weeks (which feels like a lifetime).  I’m giving up all sweets, sodas, and alcohol during those 21 days.  Not because I think those things are bad, but because I need to refocus.

There is a lot of noise in my life.  Some of it is good, some of it is bad, most of it is distracting.  Life is too busy and there are too many things competing for my attention. Despite my good intentions, a lot of my days are wasted.  Those days quickly turn into weeks, months, and years.

I need to prioritize.  I need to refocus.

I need to fast.

I’m not sure of all the theological underpinnings behind a fast, but it’s a pretty simple idea. I think about gummy bears, Oreos, Sour Patch Kids, Coke Zero, and Coronas approximately 217 times a week.  Instead of hitting up the vending machine or searching for Amanda’s secret stash of junk food when I get a craving for high fructose corn syrup, I’ll say a prayer.  It won’t be anything fancy or impressive, but just a quick prayer of thanksgiving. A quick prayer asking God to help me love people more. A quick prayer that the Metro won’t be single-tracking during my commute home.

Those brief moments of prayer and reflection throughout the day will hopefully lead to a substantial attitude shift.  Instead of merely trying to squeeze God into a tiny compartment, my hope is that I emerge from these three weeks of sweet sacrifice with a faith that permeates every aspect of my life.

But, on the day, the hour, the minute the fast ends, I will be yelling, “SHOW ME THE GUMMY!”

Think Fast