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:

The Weekend

Well, folks, Monday is knocking at our door again.  My initial reaction to that news is to break down crying.  However, I’m going to try to stay positive and make the most of this workweek.  We got this.  Yo.

Before I dive back into the exciting world of Outlook calendar invites, Excel spreadsheets, and the occasional PowerPoint presentation, I wanted to highlight why this weekend was awesome:

1.  I did no work.

2.  We went to a rocking first birthday party for Big Daddy Zane.  Zane’s parents, Josh and Avery-Lynn, are some of our dearest friends.  Hanging with cool babies like Zane and “Fresh Prince” Will Smith(son) have helped make me less terrified about having kids.  Avery-Lynn did an amazing job decorating and cooking for the party.  Never underestimate the power of The Hyphen.

Here’s an example of Zane’s coolness.  He has a talk show.

3.  I ate some stellar fajitas at an awesome Colombian Christmas party hosted by Natalia on Friday night.  This epic throwdown was at Sol Mexican Grill on H Street.  Natalia used this fun and festive event to raise more than $200 for DC Doors, a non-profit that serves the Latino homeless community in the DC area.  You go, guuuuurl!

Amanda (+ two babies), Natalia, Ashley, and Ryan Gosling
The Weekend

4.  The Christmas Tea.  Although I’ve been going to Capital City Church for nearly five years, this was my first time rocking out at the “Beautiful You” Christmas Tea.  I shouldn’t have waited so long.  It was a stunningly beautiful event.  More importantly, it was so inspiring to hear Christine Caine share stories about the work the A21 Campaign is doing around the world to fight human trafficking.  Of course, like any respectable Christmas event, tacos were involved:

District Taco

Props to Kerry for generously paying for everyone’s lunch after I jokingly thanked him for picking up the tab.  We should go car shopping together.  I tried to pay his generosity forward by buying tacos for the two ladies in line behind me.  They were pretty stoked, but also confused.

Here’s some more Beautiful Dudes who helped out at the Christmas Tea:

Beautiful Dudes

5.  I liked this incredible Christmas tree at The Willard Hotel.  A lot.

The Willard

I also liked this girl:

McCormicks

6.  My dear friend Hannah posted an amazing series of photos showing her adventures with a gingerbread man named Stefan over the weekend.  You need to follow her on Instagram (@lovehannxoxo) to check out ridiculousness like this:

Stefan

7.  It was fun hanging out (and laughing) with these two:

Teresa and Amanda

That is Amanda, my wife, and Teresa, not my wife. However, Teresa and her husband, Marcel, have been incredible new additions to the Cap City Church family.

8. I got to see this guy:

alex

(I see you posing like you’re not posing.)

9.  I ate a lot of Oreos.

Oreos

Thus, I decided to make a music video about it.  Coming soon.

10.  I got to rock out at our church’s DC site today.  I usually hang out at the CapCityKingstowne location, but I had a blast getting funky with the DC crowd.  Christine Caine shared an incredible message about making the most of your current situation instead of always looking towards the next “best” thing.  That’s always been something I’ve struggled with, so it was a wonderful reminder.  I also made my second Miley Cyrus joke while MCing a church service.  That’s a win.

11.  Most importantly, this photobomb:

Photobomb

Thanks for reading!  Have a wonderful week!

Everyday Heroes: Lamar the Lion

I know this guy who was painfully shy and he spent most of his days studying, eating junk food, and watching “Beverly Hills 90210.”

It was me.

Then I met Lamar.

Lamar the Lion - 3

I knew there was something special about Lamar the first time I saw him.  Most noticeably, he was dressed like a secret agent and leading an enormous “Men in Black” song and dance routine at Tallwood High School’s freshman orientation.  He was confident, he was charismatic, he was captivating.  I didn’t know him, but I wanted to be like him.

I still do.

Lamar the Lion - 2

We both like to fly under the radar.

Lamar is the most gregarious person I know.  He’s also hilarious, and fifteen years later, he still captures my attention.  When Lamar walks into a room, you notice. (His bright shirts, loud voice, and enthralling personality are hard to ignore.)  He has a heart of gold and spends his workdays serving local kids and communities through various programming activities at YMCAs in the DC area.  There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people around the world who look up to Lamar, who have been impacted by Lamar, and who call Lamar a hero.

I’m one of them.

Like I said, I was a shy dude back in the day and I was floating through life aimlessly.  I met Lamar, he took me under his wing, encouraged me to get involved at school, and taught me what living a passionate and engaging life is all about.  Thus, if you think I’m loud and annoying, blame Lamar.  This guy had hundreds of friends and thousands of things on his to-do list, but he took the time to mentor me.  He changed the entire trajectory of my life. For the better.

I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Here’s what others had to say about Lamar:

Cristina F. (@cristinamary):  “Lamar is the most resilient person I know, hands down. He has overcome so much, and I attribute that to his natural talents and abilities, which are plentiful. He is a born leader. He is an amazing friend. How long has it been now, 17 years? And NEVER a dull moment. I’m grateful for his loyalty and love. He has made me laugh more times than I can count. He has been at all of my shows, with bells on. So much support! We have seen each other through a lot of trials, tribulations, joys, successes and life lessons. Here’s to 17 more years, my dear friend!”

Amy H. (@AMH5):  “Lamar is the true definition of one-of-a-kind. He’s not only my best friend, but the brother I never had. He’s selfless, always knows how to put a smile on your face, full of words of wisdom, he is the guy who will take his shirt off his back for his friends.  Anyone who is able to call Lamar their friend should consider themselves lucky. He is one of the few people in my life that I will cherish forever. He’s been a hero to me in more ways than I could ever say. I’m proud to call him my best friend.”

Lamar the Lion - 4

Chad H. (@chadhartigan):  “My impression of Lamar in high school was that he had the most school spirit of anyone I knew. He was involved with absolutely everything: school government, theatre, administration, even cheerleading (I think). Now that we’re more than a decade removed from that context, I know that it had nothing to do with school spirit. It was people spirit. Lamar was involved with everything because he loved mingling and working with every type of person. It’s an attitude he brings to his work, his play and his relationships, and it’s infectious.”

In short, Lamar is a fabulous human being, a hilarious person to know, and a faithful friend. Most importantly, Lamar loves Miley Cyrus and he’s a great rapper:

Thank you, Lamar.  You make the world a much better place.

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.

B-U-S-T-E-D

I love all the old “throwback” pictures posted on Thursdays.  Although it’s not as exciting as awkward high school photos, I’m going to start bringing back old blog posts I wrote on some Thursdays.  In other words, I didn’t have time to write a new blog post last night.  The below was a post named “B-U-S-T-E-D” that I wrote in December 2009.  A lot has changed since then, so please don’t judge me.

Here we go...

Throwback -  B-U-S-T-E-D

“I suppose it had to happen eventually.  I’m usually a pretty conservative guy, but have grown increasingly liberal since making the move to Arlington.  Nope, I’m not talking politics.  I’m talking about dancing in my apartment.

It’s probably no surprise that I’ve always been a big fan of the bedroom dance floor.  I will never forget one bitterly painful 9th grade morning when I could barely move my right arm because I had air guitared myself silly while listening to It’s All About the Benjamins” (the rock remix, duh) twenty times straight the night before.  (I had an accomplice, but I’ll keep his name secret. For now.)

Amanda and I still have the occasional dance party when an old school rap song comes across the iTunes playlist.  Or, in her case, when the newest Miley hit starts playing. Okay, who am I kidding?  I obviously have no qualms about getting down to a Miley or Britney tune, as well as all the cheesy boy band songs that clutter our playlists. Although these mini-parties used to go down in a room with closed blinds, our view from Pentagon City is too beautiful for closed shades.  But no one is actually going to be creepily looking into our 8th floor apartment, right?

Wrong.

While getting dressed before going out to dinner last Friday, I had the music blaring in our apartment.  And then it happened: the annoyingly catchy song, “I’ve Got a Feeling,” started playing.  Look, I’m no Black Eyed Peas fan, but it’s impossible not to dance to that song.  At a minimum, you have to bob your head a little.  And so, as I put away some freshly-cleaned clothes, I started to dance around our bedroom.

While breaking it down in true white dude style, I looked out the window and saw a guy staring right at me.  Heart.  Attack.  Sort of like when you get caught looking at someone and you suspiciously jerk your eyes away all too quickly, when our eyes met, I hit the floor.  In retrospect, I wish I could have made it look like I was just aggressively stretching to help play it off.  Nope.  I would have loved to know what he thought as he saw a grown man dancing around his apartment.  Alone.

Whatever he thought, he must have really enjoyed it, because he kept staring.  I snuck into the living room, hid behind a lamp, and looked out the window.  His eyes were still lurking in my direction.  I turned off the lights and went back to the bedroom to get a better view.  He was still staring.  It felt like two snipers dueling it out, as they repeatedly shot, moved, and sought new cover.  Or at least I did.  He just kept creepily staring into our apartment.  I was REALLY hoping he wasn’t counting floors and apartments to figure out where I lived.  I figured I should just play it cool and so I sat at the computer and pretended to do some work as I scoped him out with my peripheral vision.  He ducked out of view every few minutes, but he kept coming back.  And he kept staring.

And then I closed our blinds.  For the next five days.”

Awkward White Guy Rap (Vol. XII) – Wrecking Ball

It was a typical Saturday here in DC yesterday. We went to a slamming church breakfast, I did a little work, and then we tore up some sick BBQ at Hill Country with a few special friends.

Oh, and I made a video between consuming all those calories. A Miley Cyrus rap video.

Awkward White Guy Rap (Vol. XII) - Wrecking Ball

Our two singers got sick over the weekend and couldn’t make it. However, our dynamic trio still had a great time rocking out to the best song of 2013.

PS – You can find more Awkward White Guy Rap videos here, including another famous Miley jam.

PPS – Thanks to Capital City Church for letting us use the church office to film these silly videos.

PPPS – Thanks to Paul A. for letting us use his snazzy camera to film these silly videos.

PPPPS – Thanks to the amazing band, The Unlikely Hero, for letting us use their guitarist (David) to film these silly videos. You should check them out. For reals.

PPPPPS – Bye.

Don’t be Mean

Fat.  Stupid.  Crazy.  Ugly.  Annoying.  Weird.

Those are powerful words.  Words that tear people down, words that destroy hope, and words that leave a smoldering trail of painful memories.  Sadly, I imagine all of us have identified with at least one of those words or something similar.

I sure have.

I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life.  I had to buy “husky” clothes.  Kids laughed at me for being overweight.  Pull-up day in gym class was my annual nightmare.  I hated anything involving the beach or swimming pools.  A “funny” remark by a friend in college about my weight still cuts me today.  Ten years later.

Those kinds of memories are not easily forgotten.  Even though I lost a lot of weight five years ago, it is still a constant struggle.  Every single day.

Tragically, despite the condemning power of words like “fat” and “stupid,” we sure do use them a lot.  Whether we’re talking about celebrities, random people on the street, and, sadly, even our friends, hurtful words are way too common in our vocabularies.

We should change that.

Being mean and judging people sucks.  Not only are you ripping through someone else’s emotions, but you are also missing out on all the beautiful things that person has to offer.  If all you see is a “loser,” you won’t notice the gifts, talents, and abilities he or she has been blessed with.  Gifts, talents, and abilities that can bless you if you give that “loser” a chance.

For example, one of the most important heroes of history, Miley Cyrus, is stunningly talented.  She’s accomplished more in a few years than 99.99% of humanity ever will.  Sadly, I don’t think anyone on this planet has received more criticism during the past month than Miley Cyrus.  Not Congress.  Not Assad in Syria.  MILEY RAY CYRUS.  Yep, she shaved her head (kinda). Yep, she wears some skimpy outfits (or no outfits at all). Yep, she got kinda freaky at the VMAs. Yep, her new video is a little strange.

Don't be MeanOh well.  She’s human, and weird, just like the rest of us.  I thank God I’m not judged completely by my craziest and most unflattering moments.  Other than Tom, we all have our flaws.  Even some of history’s greatest legends had some screwups:  Moses killed a dude, Elvis was hooked on drugs, Martin Luther King had an affair, and Britney Spears made a song called “E-Mail My Heart.”  We’d miss out on all sorts of awesomeness if we only judged those heroes by their faults.

So please give Miley a chance, y’all.  A lot of people have called her some terrible things and labelled her an “idiot,” a “slut,” or much worse in recent weeks.  Yep, she has some issues, just like everyone else, but she straight up made the best song of 2013.

“Wrecking Ball”

I listen to this song at least ten times a day and I’m not even ashamed of it.  If you’ve written off Miley because of some of her antics, you’re missing out on a masterpiece that would make Mozart jealous.

So please don’t rob yourself of life’s riches.  Don’t be mean.  At least that’s what Taylor Swift told me.  And Jesus.