Friday, September 8, 2017

In the Eye of the Storm

  The day the doctors scheduled Keegan's C-section was probably in my opinion the worst possible day in history for him to be born.  It was our other son, Rory's first day of preschool, and so we were worried about how that would go without us being there right away after school to pick him up.  On top of that, it was kind of a crazy time to be out of work because school had just started and this was the second day of the first full week of school.  Unless you're a teacher you might not know that setting your super strict expectations at the beginning of the year is vital.  As you might imagine, I was envisioning my kids tying the sub to a chair and painting the walls red.  I have a good team though, and they'd informed me plenty that they had my back and they'd sit on my kids if they didn't behave. 
  And although there were so many things going on completely overwhelming me.  The day Keegan was born was nothing short of amazing!  It was sunny and beautiful, a typical 97 degree Florida August day.  The palm trees blew gently in the humid breeze outside the hospital windows, and Keegan came into this world like a calming presence.  It's super ironic of course, because everyone that has had a child or has spent ten minutes around a newborn knows how demanding of time and attention they are.  But this precious little guy is very content in all things he does or experiences.  He even sleeps most of the night which is just crazy, but so, so very nice.

  In just these 3 short weeks since he's been born, he's been such a blessing to our family.  Rory is completely enamored with him and I haven't spotted one ounce of jealousy.  This was
always a fear of mine that Rory would feel threatened that there was a new family member, but no.   He truly cannot get enough of his brother.  I also want to thank our Anna and family for everything they have done for the past four years in caring for Rory and also prepping him for our new family member.  We couldn't survive in Florida without you guys!

  And we were doing so well too with balancing the transition between starting a new school year (no one needed to sit on any kids by the way, because I'm sure you were wondering), and introducing Keegan into our changing family dynamic.  And then just as one Grammy flew back home a few days early and another grandma, Mimi came to visit, we heard about Hurricane Irma coming to Florida. 

  At first I figured it would be okay.  We'd stayed last year for Hurricane Matthew and it was fine, but as the storm grew closer and more and more unpredictable, it just didn't seem wise for us to stay with our two little babies.  We sure did debate though.  Do you stay and hope the storm isn't too bad?  Do you flee and risk running out of gas halfway to your destination?  How can we deal with a newborn in a flood or sitting in traffic for hours upon hours?   They are all impossible choices.  Especially if you're making them alone, so we prayed about it for days and we decided in the end God was telling us to go.  Where?  We weren't sure yet.  Not until Kim's sister called and told us we should come stay with her.

  And so after school we packed up, walked through the house praying that God would protect our home, our city and our state.  That he would protect the people here from what is predicted to be a catastrophic hurricane.  That he would sway the storm back to the ocean.  (Or as Rory was saying - that the sharks would eat the storm in their bellies.)

  It felt so surreal evacuating a place that has been my home for so long.  I said goodbye, and maybe I'm dramatic, but it took me back to a time in my past where I had to escape from my home quickly, leaving almost all of my belongings behind, knowing I'd never see it or them again.  And just like before, it's not the things that you'll miss.  Things are just things.  It's the memories you made there.  The feeling of having to leave a place, not knowing if you'll see it again is very unsettling.

And as we were leaving town with my mom, my dog, the four year old, the three week old and my wife, the lines of traffic already forming, we prayed for safety for us and our town.  And as soon as we said amen, we saw the biggest rainbow I've ever seen behind me in the gray sky.  And I just knew it was God saying that he was going to be with us and keep us safe.  I don't know the big plan here, I probably never will, but God will be faithful.  He always is.  I don't know how that will look or what that will mean for our state but as I've experienced many times in my life.  He is smarter than I am.  His ways often are too far over my head to comprehend.  I just try to wait and listen for some directive.  And I got it.  To go.  Others in town heard theirs too.  To stay.  So I don't know.  I just pray that everyone stays safe and after everything clears we can continue on.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Adventure Continues

I remember having the idea for this blog four years ago when we were endlessly waiting through an uncomfortably hot summer for our little baby boy to make his grand August appearance.  As teachers, there isn't a lot going on at that time and we figured writing about our adventures would be a great way to pass those endless five weeks.  Plus, all of our family was so far away that it was a small way to let them be involved in our daily life.  The blog was an instant hit with family and friends and I kept it going strong throughout the first year of Rory's life.  I thought I might publish it one day so Rory could always look back at his zany parent's take on the first year of his life.

But, as all parents know, when that sweet little infant starts transitioning into toddlerhood, fatigue and straight up exhaustion take over.  The blog suffered because of it, but my life couldn't be any fuller.  I mean, there's way more messes, and tantrums. (Kim and Rory) There's also so much laughter and happiness, how can you even describe it?  Possibly only in a delirious state.  Sure, I'm always tired and sticky and not allowed to poop by myself, but I sincerely love being a father and can't think of a more important or rewarding job.

I personally never understood how fully capable I could be to truly love some one else.  Not when like many, my childhood was stained with trauma.  But then there's the moment when you actually become a father and you see your beautiful child and your life is instantly different... those things that hold you back, those traumas, they  have to be put to rest.  How could anything in this world ever be more important to hold on to than that tiny little human?   Fatherhood for me is brilliant and amazing but also a metamorphosis.  Healing and transforming.          

And so, here we are again, as the end of our school year approaches and my wife and I find ourselves expecting another little boy in August, I thought perhaps I'd brush the dust off the ole keyboard and start writing again.  Lord knows, we're not doing much or going very far with a pregnant woman in her last trimester.  There's also the fact that the blog entries will get even funnier this time around, what with my natural wit, and all of the comedic gold that spews from an almost four year old's mouth at any given moment.  Already Rory wonders if  he can teach "our baby" how to crawl and he even tells our babysitter that she needs to teach him how to change diapers so he can be prepared for his baby brother.

Here's to life never being the same again.  Can't wait to continue the adventure.      


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ode To Binga

Dear Rory,

Saying that you are a child of routine is the biggest understatement in history.  You NEED things to happen the same way they have always happened.  Even if it was just that random moment when you were sobbing uncontrollably because I opened the garage door instead of you, and I pretended that your little toy remote was actually a garage door closer.  And now every day you feel the need to not only open the garage door but also "close" it with your remote when we leave for work.

It's exhausting but I can't get enough of it really.  That leads me to today's blog entry, which unfortunately is months late.  That extra hour at work gives us less time to spend together and when I get home I'd much rather play with you than write about it.  But I don't want to forget all of these amazing moments!

Like the time you beyond all comprehension willingly gave up your Binga. (that's a pacifier for anyone who doesn't have a toddler that makes up weird words) 

I'm sure I've written about how much Mommy hated that Binga.  She never actually wanted you to have it to be honest, but there came a point that you really didn't need it anymore.  Don't get me wrong, you screamed for it!  You wailed at the top of your lungs if you didn't have it.  But you truly didn't need it anymore.  You were just so on a schedule that whenever you took a nap you'd mentally check off your list.  Blanket.  Check.  Binga.  Check.  Water cup.  Check.

It was when we took your crib out of your room and put your fancy new Mickey bed in there that a new checklist was formed.  New bed.  New rules.  We told you that Mickey didn't want a binga in his brand new bed and you said "okay."  And haven't asked or needed it since.  You'll sometimes see a picture of a younger you and talk about it.  But you don't need or want it anymore.  It was such an easy transition that I didn't actually believe it could be true. 

You continually surprise me all of the time.  And a quick FYI, I'll be writing more entries now and again.  Because let's face it.  You're hilarious, you're brilliant, and you're simply the greatest gift God's given me.  I love you. 


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!

   As soon as Rory wakes up in the morning and Mommy and Daddy's 5:30 workout is over; Rory in his sweet little voice will ask  for "Milk.  Milk.  Milk." and "Mickey Mooouuuse."  It's just like clockwork.  Everyday.  We don't let him watch very much TV with us at home.  Usually just an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the morning and one before bed.  And that's because getting ready for work with a 2 year old is not very easy.  But he likes it, he's two, and I think Kenny Rogers said it best "Ya gotta know when to hold em and know when to fold em."

But I'm getting off task: Since Rory is so obsessed with his little group of Disney Critters, Mimi Kay has always had a special place in her heart for Dumbo, and because it's Fall (and we really just love Fall) we decided to surprise Rory and Mimi Kay and take them to Disney World for Mickey's Not So Scary Party!

It was hard to keep the secret considering we were dressing up as the cast of the Wizard of Oz, but we told Mimi we were going to Old Town and there was a special costume event happening.  She ate it up with a spoon.  Never questioned anything.  But once we passed underneath the Disney World Arches, Mimi almost fainted in the backseat.  "IS THIS FOR REAL?  WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?  I'M SO HAPPY!"

And I have to admit the whole experience was totally magical.  Rory was so into it from the very first moment when we saw the "Mickey Mouse Pumpy".   Everything was so exciting to him, which of course made it even more exciting for me!  Walking down the streets toward Cinderella's castle was    awesome.  Kids and adults were dressed up in Halloween costumes and milling all around.  I especially enjoyed all of the Cast Members commenting on just how amazing we looked.  One even asked me if I needed a match.  (I was the Scarecrow, so I politely told him no.)  But let's be real, the tiny Cowardly Lion stole the show.  Everyone stopped and stared as he walked by.  And walk he did.  He literally strutted around the entire park from 5pm until Midnight; only sitting in his stroller during the Halloween Parade. 

  We rode the Pirates ride right away and went trick or treating at all the stops.  We met up with our long lost Tinman, Katie, and stood in some delightfully inclement weather waiting for the parade to start.  It was a little cold but actually okay because while everyone went to hide under shelter, we just strolled ourselves to the best spot right on the curb and waited.  The rain eventually stopped and the parade was spectacular!  Rory lit right up and started waving to Pluto, who was leading the parade in a matching lion outfit.  Pluto AKA "Tuto" came right up to Rory and gave him a high five.  Rory was ecstatic!  I tried to get a good picture but I was not in the best position to get Rory's face in the shot.  Snow White also showed up and said hello to Rory, along with a bunch of other characters Rory doesn't really know very well.  He thought it was fun and entertaining, but it was when "ChipDale" came up and fist bumped Rory, I thought Rory was going to climb out of the stroller and join the parade.  He was in literal awe!   Every moment of standing in the rain was worth it to see the joy on that kid's face.  Kim says that Rory must feel like he's in an episode of Mickey Mouse Club House, because all of his friends are here waving at him and giving him high fives. 

One of the coolest things we got to do was meet some of Rory's favorite characters.  We decided to start with Goofy AKA "Fooey" because that's Rory's number one.  And when we got in line and Rory saw him from afar he couldn't stop grinning.  He pointed and told us that Fooey was right up ahead.
  "Yes we all see him, Ror!"
  It was so stinking cute and Rory might tend to perseverate slightly but man it was epic!  When we got up to Goofy I put Rory down and he wasn't quite sure what to do.  Perhaps he was a tiny bit nervous by this overly tall guy, but once we told him it was okay to give "Fooey" a hug he lunged into his arms and we got some fun pictures.  He kept staring at "Fooey" completely mesmerized.  When we said goodbye, Rory bolted back for one last high five and kept repeating, "Bye Fooey, Bye Fooey.  Bye Fooey."  I had to pick him up and carry him away.  Yes.  We were those people and I loved every second of it.

We also met Daisy, Donald and Minnie, dressed in their Halloween Best.  At this point, Rory was in all his glory, hugging them, holding their hands, and just loving every moment!  Clearly what Disney World is all about, but more than that it got me thinking.  Remembering all of those things I already know about life.  It's too fast.  It's way to easy to get busy or tired and let the little things pass by and make a choice to flop down on the couch and watch a show, instead of writing a blog entry about the things your little guy is doing now.  Life happens way too fast and we all have choices on how we want to spend it.  I want to enjoy every moment to the fullest.  I don't want to be distracted from the important things.     

After meeting the characters, Mimi got her wish and she rode with Rory on Dumbo.  As we were gliding through the night sky the fireworks show at Cinderella's Castle began and we soared among the exploding colors.  While Daddy, Mommy, and Mimi went on the Haunted Mansion ride, Rory and Katie flew on Peter Pan and rode the Carousel.  Rory chose a blue horse.  (I'm writing that for my dad's sake.  He thinks fake horses should be traditional colors.  I know right?  Creativity killer much?  Just kidding Dad.  Sort of.)

Right before Midnight as we walked up to the castle for the final showing of Hocus Pocus, Rory asked to be picked up.  I did and he gave me a lethargic little look and then his head fell forward.  He immediately picked it back up and looked at me again as if asking what we were going to do next. 

"It's okay baby," I told him.  "You did a good job.  You can lay your head down on my shoulder now and go to sleep now."

And he did.  Immediately. 

Thank you Disney World!  It was one of the most fun events we've done in a while.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Always Have To Steal My Kisses From You

  Well let's be honest.  Daddy doesn't have to.  It's Mama who has to steal her kisses from you.  She got so upset at first because she used to think that it meant that you didn't love her.  She is quite dramatic, isn't she?  I personally love the little games you play with her.  It feels like something I would do too, but since you do it, I can just sit back and laugh.  And trust me.  I do.

  You get really funny right at bedtime after we pray to God.  You'll point at the sky and tap each of our hearts (even the dogs, if she's in the room) because you have learned that God is always in our hearts.  Then we'll sing our good night song and you are so good at singing the words back.  Of course you don't know all of them yet but you sure have the " say goodnight, goodnight, goodnight Rory-Roo!" part down pat. 

I have to tell you it's one of our favorite parts of the day, and not just because we finally get a moment to relax, but you're just more precious than anyone I feel ever really expresses to their children.  I just want you to know that Mama and Daddy think you are the most amazing guy ever.

After we sing Mama demands her goodnight kisses.  You'll lean over to Daddy and give him a kiss and then you'll lean to Mama and just as she's about to kiss you, you'll jerk your head back to Daddy and give him a kiss.  Then back to Mama and just before she can kiss you, you'll jerk your head back to Daddy.  We all crack up, even you.  You're a certified ham.

Sidenote:  Mama will probably like you to know that 1 out of every 7 days, you will reverse roles and make Daddy beg for kisses.  These are Mama's favorite days. 

Sidenote 2:  One night Mama was so excited that you were going to give her kisses she almost danced for joy and just as you kissed her you stuck your tongue out and licked her.  When we all laughed you continued to lick people that night. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Happy Birthday Once Again!

Dear Rory,

  I can't believe you turned two.  It's unimaginable.  I guess this is what everyone meant when they said, "Don't Blink."  You're such a big boy now.  There's nothing you won't try.  That's probably why this past year you fell down at the pool and split your chin open.  You had to get 5 stitches but you took it like a champ.  However, they didn't last very long.  You must not have liked how they looked because you fell on that chin again and re-split it.  You didn't even bat an eyelash.  I told Mommy it's because you're a rough tough boy.  She says it's because you're made out of spit and vinegar.  If that's true, which I'm not saying it is, it's inherently from her.  I'm pretty sure she was born in a vinegar factory. 

  Of course there are so many things you do now that make your Mommy and I so proud (and tired).
One of your favorite things to do is copy everything Daddy does.  If I'm brushing my teeth and I clear my throat or spit in the sink you'll be right there dragging your stool to the sink to do it too.  I'll intentionally swat Mommy on the behind so you'll copy me.  It especially drives her crazy but we just laugh about it. 

  Honestly, you'll copy anything anyone does.  Sometimes Mommy will give me a kiss because it will magically make you want to give her one too.  Why does she have to trick you into kissing her you ask?  You my friend are a jokester.  You like to tease Mommy by withholding your kisses and pretending you don't know that she wants one.  You'll grin and look in the other direction.  We adore your humor!!!  At least I do.  ;)

 You know you'll actually imitate Bella too.  She'll be in an ecstatic barking frenzy because she wants to go outside, eat food, or get a bone and you'll be right there with her barking at us.  It's kind of insane but what's life without a barking duo?

 Something you've really started enjoying this past year is your massive book collection.  You'll bring book after book over to Mommy or Daddy every day and we will read every single one of them.  The best part is that you don't just sit there and listen.  You get involved!  You climb the coconut trees with the alphabet, and you snore along with Bear as all the animals have a party in his den.  You make reading the same books over and over everyday so much fun!  You're favorite books are Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, (which you only bring to Mommy to read), Desert Tails, (which you only bring to Daddy to read) Bear Snores On, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse books, and My Day (which is a picture book that you read to us). 

You'd rather eat Mommy's food than our own most of the time.  I think it's because you like to help mommy cook.  There's some strange food bond you guys must have created.  She sets you right on the counter and you help by putting things in the pot.  You even tell her how the flame is hot when your foot gets too close to it.  Of course this scares me, but then again I'm sure Mommy is watching you closely.  Right Mommy?

Another thing you do that is so hilarious to watch but equally crazy is how you bring your stool all the way from the bathroom to the couch just so you can throw yourself against it in a massive parkour like attempt.  You go flying like a ragdoll but get right back up to do it again.  I can't imagine how you ended up with stitches before you were two.

This past summer on our massive road trip across the United States you really began piecing together so many things.  You started stringing words together, associating names with things and people and just tapped into a new part of your brain.  Now anywhere we go you tell me about the meowing cats, the ducks that say "cack, cack", cars that drive by, and pretty much everything else.  This includes your favorite television show; Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  To say you are obsessed with Mickey and the gang would be an understatement.  You adore them.  You know all of their names, have an assortment of Mickey stuffed animals, toys, and even a guitar.  

Skype is very important to you as well.  Sadly since none of your grandparents live nearby, you  Skype with them weekly.  It's so amazing how you now know all of their names and deliberately will ask to talk to them and go and get the iPad so we can call them.   

One of the best things about you is how loving you are.  You just love people and you aren't afraid to let them know it.  We love how much you enjoy your second family; Mrs. Anna, Leta, Ethan and all the rest.  They love you so much!  They are truly a part of our family.  (Sometimes you don't even want to leave.)  There's also the Wolfpack, little Rae Rae, Cara, and K.T.  Everywhere you go you seem to spread joy.  Please don't change.  This world needs more joy and love.  Keep spreading it.

I guess I should end this because it's about that time and statistically speaking, people stop reading if an entry is too long.  Not that I'm writing this for anyone other than you.  I just want to make sure when you're older you'll read the whole thing.   

I ended last year's birthday blog by saying that you still liked to be wrapped up in blankets when you went to sleep.  That's not true anymore.  That ended quite a while ago.  Mrs. Anna was like, "Umm.  No I haven't used blankets to swaddle him in like forever.  He just falls right asleep."  I don't get how she is literally magical but she was right.  That night we put you down and you just went out.  We rejoiced on that day and probably had a glass of wine.  I mean it totally took a good 10 minutes off the bedtime routine.  I will say though, that we still sing your bedtime song every night, and every once in a while I'll still rock you to sleep because I love the feeling of your head on my shoulder. 

You are the best thing that's happened to Mommy and I and we never knew what we were missing before you came along.  You have made the past two years so amazing and even though you exhaust us sometimes and make us fall asleep before 9 at times.  We wouldn't trade anything in the world for the time we've spent with you.  You have made fatherhood 100 million times more amazing than I ever imagined it could be.

I love you so much!  Happy birthday Little Ror!


Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer: The Season of a New Rory

  I love Summer.  It's that time of year that I get to spend extra loads of quality time with Ror.  (and perhaps blog more)  This summer, similarly to last, we're on a mega road trip visiting family.  And in just this past week, as we've traveled from Florida to New Hampshire it's as if Rory has begun a new stage.  I'm calling it the SpongeBob stage.  He's literally sponging everything up and retaining it.  He's using words like "awesome" and asking "where is she?" when looking for the dog.  It's like suddenly he's figured out how to apply the words he's learned and manipulate them for specific needs.  
    He's learning names of people and remembering which name goes with which face.  He knows the difference between "Papa" and "Bumpa" and it's super exciting.  He's singing and dancing, which he's always done, but he's singing to the same tune of the song that's playing.  He's counting, naming his stuffed animals, distinguishing by name and face the characters of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Minnie, "Fooey", "Tuto", and Pete are his favorites.  There's so many cool things going on I can't even go into every detail.  I wouldn't know how.  The brain is such an amazing thing! 

  I've always been kind of intrigued in brain research because as a teacher, knowing how brains work is kind of important when you're impacting and trying to teach 18 new ones each year.  And with this technological generation, strategies and information are constantly being improved and updated.  One that I've used for years is to incorporate movement into your teaching.  Movement is very important in brain development.  Without movement, no dendrites grow, and that means no learning.  As for Rory, he never stops moving.  This is most likely the reason why his little dendrites (my new favorite word) are sprouting out of control!

Josh Van Wormer's photo.I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to everything Rory has yet to learn but I also have to admit that it's all going so fast.  He'll be two in August and he hardly resembles a baby anymore.  What happened?  I guess that's just how it goes.  I'll continue writing and watch for all the new things in this amazing season ahead.