A quick update on all things

Things, as always, have been nothing short of chaos for the first half of this month. There are times that my beloved and I just want to kick back, relax, and breathe a little.  But, no, that is not how things are.

  1. I think that we were a little taken aback by how much the daily vlogs for Cranio Acceptance Month were going to wipe us out. It took us over a week to just recover from the grind.
  2. We were able to take a small vacation to the beach with the family. It was a much needed break. Kati and I were on the tail end of exhaustion. But it was so good to be able to see the family.
  3. I am preparing to run a rather large group for Dungeons & Dragons. This is extremely exciting, but there is so much work that goes into running a game. I have worked hard to update and reconfigure my home office to accommodate for game night. Now, I have a little over a week, to test all of the systems and prepare for awesomeness.
  4. Kati has been doing an awesome job for her role as an Usborne consultant. She has learned a ton, in very short time. Every party that she hosts is exiting. It does often mean that our conversations late at night are dominated by ideas, but I think it is cute and I love it.
  5. Zoey has lost her hearing aids twice in the last three weeks. Want to know what can stop everything in a household. Have a $2500 medical device go missing. These are critical because Zoey has been doing such an amazing job with her speech therapy. From the moment that she has put her ‘super ears’ in she has rocked it.
  6. Jacob is nearly walking. By that, I mean he is at 6-7 steps in a row. It is amazing to see the look on his face when he is walking around. His smile is amazing.
  7. Both Zoey and David are killing it with homeschool this semester. David is doing an amazing job with addition and subtraction. Both are starting to read. Considering that neither would be in school yet (Virginia law states that if a child is going to start, the must start by the year that they are six), I am ecstatic at what they can do.
  8. Last but not least, we were surprised to find out that our daughter will have her yearly craniofacial clinic in early November, rather than December. For those that read my beloveds post about cranio, this is when things get real for us. We know that there are more surgeries coming, we are exactly where they said we would be when forecasting when we would be discussing the next one. My heart… well, my heart resides in my children, but I do not know if my body can take the stress that I am feeling right now. I am sure that we will talk about that more once we know more.
  9. Seven years ago (last week) my beloved and I went on our first date. Time flies, make sure you live in the little moments.

That is all I have for you guys right now. Thanks for hanging in there on our crazy, chaotic, life. We are doing the best we can to…

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Craniosynostosis: A Response From A Dad

It is no small, strange thing, the feelings that come to the surface this month. We are forced to pause and reflect upon the path that our lives have been lead down over the last five years. All because of one long, scary, word that we did not know before our daughters birth. Craniosynostosis.

We look back and see what we have all endured. Kati and I, as we became parents. As we watched our daughter defy the odds that she was given, and face greater challenges than many of her peers. With every vlog, conversation, tweet, blog, and post, we have relived some of the nightmares that we barely made it through. There have been more solemn nights over this past month, then during the entire year that has lead up to September.

But, it is not all bad. Over the same time we have been able to look back at all of the accomplishments. We look out our window and see our sweet daughter climbing a tree, and hanging upside down. This child for which we were told may not walk. We listen to the laughter ringing through the house, and the stories that she tries to tell us. This child for which we were told may not talk. Granted, it is in a language that only we can understand, but we understand. We reflect on old movies and pictures showing each and every surgery she has been through. Breathing a sigh of relief we see how far she has come. This sigh is hesitant as we know not the road before us.

Though the fires that have hardened us, the mountains that have climbed, we have been made strong. We have found that our greatest strength has lied within our darling daughter. Resilience, repose, defiance, independence, all these and more are her forte. From her we have drawn much into ourselves. We thrive on the tears and laughter, always the laughter. The pain and discomfort that we feel with this time of recollection outmatched and outpaced by the revelry and ballyhoo of where we are.

Craniosynostosis, you are what WE make YOU.

But, in the stillness of the night, there are still the hard moments. The ones that draw out of us the words that no one else is saying. That compel us to write them down, exposing our fears to the world. Posts like this one, by my beloved, that floors me. We scream into the wind out of frustration, begging for others to relinquish their positivity, for just one moment. To be real about this world that we live in. To become better beacons of hope, real hope, for those that are sailing the uncharted seas with us. Especially to those whom have found themselves in the eye of the hurricane that is this world, per manum Dei.

We cannot live in fear of inadequacy. For all of us that are in this world of Craniosynostosis should have realized…

Our children have taught us better.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always

Day 29: Favorite Cookie: Snickerdoodles

Oh the rollercoaster that is this list. But that is the flaw in not looking ahead, and only reading it once before posting it. But the fact that I limit myself to 10 minutes a day for this challenge, in and of itself should get me a cookie. Right? Well, even if it does not, let me tell you a little bit about my favorite one.

Snickerdoodles

There is an amazing fragrance that overtakes the kitchen as these wonderful cookies are being baked. The cinnamon and sugar as they amalgamate under the heat profuse into a scent that I consider heaven.  I can feel the salivation build as they are cooling on the rack. My beloved already knows that I will not mind the burn to take one a little early. Biting into the surgery goodness, feeling the reserved heat sear my mouth, it is awesome.

It is hard to beat a good snickerdoodles, and only the best are homemade. There is something severely lacking from any of the store-bought imitations that I have had in my life. Note, I am not saying that the ones that you can purchase from bakeries are substandard, just that pre-packaged nonsense.  Of course, it is almost always the case that homemade is better.

There is a small joy in sharing good snickerdoodles with my kids. Seeing their eyes light up, and a smile come across their faces is amazing. I know that I am leading them down a great path in only providing the best ones for them. Prior to them, sharing was not an option. However, now, it is a constant. There have been times that I have watched the excitement build as the snickerdoodles are baking in the oven. I share in their exclamations as the oven opens, we gape in pure joy, and we watch as they are transferred onto cooling racks.

I feel somewhere between a kid and a dad when this happens. It is so worth it.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Travelling: Becoming a Storyteller

Travelling. Once a great mainstay, and a measure of a person, seems to come and go with the ages. Every few months a map makes its cycle around my little sphere of social media.  You all know the one, with the states where people have visited highlighted. It is funny for me to see some of the reactions, comments, excuses and proclamations that accompany these maps. Perhaps it is because, well, to be frank, my map was completed nearly a decade ago.

Travelling provides a chance to see life in ways no others have.

Ibn Battuta once said “Travelling. It makes you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”. I have done my best to become quite the storyteller. I flex my lexicon to paint the beauty of a sunrise over the Atlantic. The sweeping colors pouring into view over an expansive, white capped, sea. I pull on the heartstrings as I capture the stillness of a single tear fall from the cheek of a parent in a waiting room. I bring the undeniable smile when expressing the joy of being smothered in the kisses of my children. All of this in an effort to give you an opportunity to travel. To close your eyes, sit in the stillness, and picture the scene I have laid before you.

A new thought on travelling for me.

But, those silly maps, the ones that cause me to chuckle have sparked an idea. What if, I were to complete the map with my children before they become adults? Would they enjoy travelling? I am sure that they would. More so, they would enjoy the stories that I would tell about some of my favorite places, while we are there. They may be inspired when we stop in a field and lay there on the grass. To look up at the clouds in the sky in wonder. To explain to them that this is but a starting place, and it is about the journey.

So, the days, and years, ahead I will be overjoyed to expand my stories as we travel. However, I feel that the real excitement will be in watching the new generation of storytellers. Watching them take in all that they can from our travelling journeys. Listening as they become speechless, and begin painting pictures with their words.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Sleep, where we are going we don’t need sleep…

For far too long we have been off the radar. We have been working hard at creating a new format for our vlogs, and those should be starting again soon. Kati has been doing an awesome job juggling all that there is to do taking care of a house full of children.  I have been working towards launching a dad’s group here in Richmond, more preparation on a book that I am writing, projects, and more projects. Sleep has long since been a common thing for either of us.

Averaging, still, three hours of interrupted sleep has been my thing so long that I think I am going to make business cards that state it. At current, it is not due to the (almost) eight month old Jacob, or the potty-training three year old David, or even the amazing and full of life five year old Zoey. Life. It is the time of year where projects are the thing to do. Also, scraping every moment of family time that we can. Sure, there is the awesomeness of the days lasting longer.  That SO helps when you tell your kids that it is time to go to sleep.  David, in particular, has gotten great about pointing out that the sun is still up.  This means that it is not bed time, right?

“Every mountain top is within reach is you just keep climbing”. Barry Finlay, Kilimanjaro and Beyond

But, there is a ray of hope. There is a glimmer of light cresting over the pinnacle of this phase of life. We can see the cairn that we have been building in this place, as we face the light. The work that we have done, the nights that we have spent working, are coming to an end. Soon, we will be at the peak, facing a new dawn, and a slope that we can coast down.

There is more to come. Hopefully it is all awesomeness. There will, undoubtedly, be many more summits ahead of us. But, and this may be the lack of sleep speaking, I think that we can take them on. Thanks for hanging in there with us.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Watercolors: Testing Affiliate Links for Amazon

It is that time of year, fun arts and crafts with the kiddos! Recently we have been letting the kids experiment with watercolors, and it has been awesome. Melissa and Doug have been staples in our home ever since Zoey was a year old. The quality of the products that they produce is outstanding.  After all, they have been able to stand up to the overzealous play that my kids are known for.

Here is something that we have been using with Zoey and David as of late… and they love it. It seems weird to be posting about watercolors. Seriously, you can get these things for a dime a dozen. However, there is just something about these watercolors that make them stand out above all others. The fact that both our 5 year old (still not used to that) and our 3 year old love painting with them should say a lot. I think that more is said by the fact that these watercolor sets put up with our 5 and 3 year old.

Watercolor Painting

This link for the Melissa & Dough Paint With Water Activity Books Set: Farm, Ocean, and Safari are the ones that the kids are digging the most. The link is an affiliate link.  This means that if you purchase the item using the link, that Amazon will take a portion of your payment and send it to us to help us continue to grow this channel. Though this sounds like a rave review for these watercolors, it is not a paid endorsement. It is merely a chance for us to test our Amazon affiliate links. It is also a chance to share something awesome that we use with our kids.

More than watercolors.

Care to share some of the awesomeness that you have found to do with your kids? What awesome crafts have you found for your kids to do?

This started as a chance for me to test an affiliate link, and turned into a post…. #bloggerproblems

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Space: An adventure through little eyes.

The other night, we did something awesome.  We took our kids, to space!

For some time we have been all too aware of our children’s love for all things space. I can say that the rekindling of our childhood, for Kati and I, has not helped the matter. We have long felt that we would always embrace our children’s desires to learn.  Space, the final frontier. The wonder filled awesomeness that captures the hearts and minds of so many children.  Those that are lucky, this wonderment carries on into their adulthood.

My kids are in love with space. My three year old son can name all NINE (that’s right… #plutosnotforgotten) planets, in order. You can catch both David and Zoey outside, at night, just looking up at the stars. If the moon is out, it lights the smiles on their faces as they point and shout “MOON!” much to the chagrin of our neighbors.

So, the other night, we wanted to take our kids to space.

We rearranged the living room, brought out the projector that I use for Dungeons and Dragons, and set up for awesomeness. I searched for hours for something that was worthy of my kids. Something that would bring the similes and shouts long into the night. You might be surprised to find all the things related to space that exist out there. But, I wanted an adventure. I wanted my kids to experience space, the thing that the love so dear.

Secretly, my goal is to prepare them both for a trip to a planetarium.  I want to ensure that we do not get asked to leave within the first few minutes of the show starting. For me, there is nothing sweeter then the excited shouts of my kids with things that they love. It shows their desire to learn. Others, you know, adults, may not be as fond of it. After all, in an enclosed space (like a planetarium) their voices would surely echo.

But as I was saying, we rearranged the room. We prepared to launch our children into space, on the largest screen we could manage.

I settled on the first episode of Cosmos.

Cosmos: Space, it's whats for dinner.

I went with the Neil deGrasse Tyson reboot, purely for the visualizations for my kids. Trust me, as they grow older, there will be time for the original.  One cannot simply look at space and not think of Carl Sagan. For the next 90 minutes, they were glued. There were shouts of joy, and questions being asked. Both David and Zoey were fighting sleep by the end. They were sad to go to bed. However, there is something awesome about hearing your kids, in there room, singing the planet song. Even though they should be sleeping.

I cannot wait to surprise them with this again.

Ladies and gentlemen.  I took my kids to space… and it was awesome.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Baseball Season Is Here! Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

Growing up some of my fondest memories surround baseball. In the cool summer Ohio nights, my dad could often be found playing catch with us. As the sun set the game would get harder, transitioning from 500 to practicing our grounders. This was not just on the weekends. There were days that my dad would come home from work, and just after dinner we would head outside.

There were a few times when I was having a bad day, that he would take just me outside to play catch. We would talk about what was bothering me, and find solutions to make it better. All while tossing this little white ball with red laces back and forth. The smack of the impact in the leather gloves punctuating our thoughts. Baseball found itself firmly in a group of activities that promoted bonding, growing up and development.

baseball

Baseball was one of the many sports that I played growing up.  Mixed in with soccer, swimming, tennis and football, my parents did an awesome job of cheering us on, and letting us be active. Of course, things were simpler then. The streetlights were are alarm clocks, and passing notes was our texting. It was also something that we enjoyed watching or listening to as a family. Be it on the radio, tv, or the awesome time we were able to go to a game, it was part of life.

Why am I writing about baseball?

This past weekend, and through most of this week is opening day. Baseball season has started. I realize that for many this means little. There has been a steady decline in attendance and viewership over the years for my beloved sport. However, there are many out there that hold this time, this season, near and dear. I, for one, cannot wait for another season of ‘stadium nights’ with the family.  Were we grill hot dogs, fry pickles, and put the game on.  It is also possible that we will get to a few Richmond Flying Squirrels games as a family. Watching their eyes light up as the distinctive crack of the bat fills the air means the world to me.  If we are really lucky, perhaps we will be able to make it to a Washington Nationals game as well.

Baseball holds a space in my heart that reminds me of countless good times as a kid. It hearkens back to all the things that my dad did to take care of us, and how awesome of a job he did. It should be no surprise that baseball is a love that I hope to share with my kids as they grow. A bond, a season, a team, a rivalry, all as a chance to remember the simpler times in life. Baseball is a great medium for me to teach my kids how to…

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Thoughts on the movie Gifted: A spoiler free review.

As a point of clarity, I was not asked to write this review in exchange for the tickets to pre-screen Gifted.  I am writing this for you, because it matters.

Last night I was offered an opportunity to pre-screen the movie Gifted. In true form, my beloved bride and I turned this into a date night.  Things have been crazy for the last few months, so we made the best of it. We both got dressed up, had a babysitter lined up (thanks Mom) and headed out. Leaving our three kids under the age of five behind, we entered into the night.

It is an interesting thing that happens when parents get some time without the kids.  We talked about our little ones, and how things were going. We stopped by and grabbed a bite to eat.  One thing that was noticed was that there was a frequency of checking our phones.  No, not checking Facebook, Twitter or the like.  But making sure that we did not miss a text asking us to come home.

As the sun was setting we parked in the theater. We made our way in, and found seats.  We had watched the trailer a few times, and were equally excited to watch the movie. However, we were a little unsure as to what was to come. From the moment that the movie started, this capriciousness subsided.

From the moment that the movie started, we were hooked.  The characters were equally engaging and understanding. We found that we were able to identify with both the protagonist and the antagonist, throughout the film.  What unfolded before us was a beautiful story.  Much like picking up a good book, we were engrossed.  We were invested in the plot. Again, like a good book, with each turning of the page something awesome was revealed.

Yes, there were tears. In fact, there were points that everyone was in tears. Parts of this story strike deep into the visceral component of parenting, of love, of trust.  But, these sullen tears were balanced with amazing storytelling as well as fantastic, jovial, laughter. Time did not matter for this movie. From the opening screen to the rolling credits, everyone was hooked. There was not a single moment where we felt the actions on the screen were filler, everything mattered.

Gifted Movie Picture
Mckenna Grace as “Mary Adler” and Chris Evans as “Frank Adler” in the film GIFTED. Photo by Wilson Webb. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved.

As the movie ended, and the audience departed, we silently walked to our car. We made our way home, discussing the movie and what it made us FEEL.  We realized that if this were a book, it would make sense to have been written by the seven year old.  But not in a bad way. In a way that resembles the way children tell stories. Depicting the events as they unfold, starting with the big stuff, and then giving the backstory… because the backstory matters.

We made it home, took a deep breath, and walked in the door. The baby was fed, and I hugged the two little sleeping toddlers, kissing their foreheads and telling them that I loved them.

What are my final thoughts on the movie Gifted? What can I say, without spoiling it for all of you?

It is simply this.

If you are a parent, go see Gifted.

If you are an aunt or uncle, go see Gifted.

If you are a teenager, and cannot understand what your parents are doing, and think that you could do things better, go see Gifted.

If you are a grandparent, cousin, person, go see Gifted.

Gifted is now, nearly, at the top of my list for movies. The acting was amazing. The story will not leave you for want, but is full of emotional depth that grabs at your heart, and soul. We are planning on buying it the moment that we can.  Perhaps there will be another date night in our near future.  If there is, you can almost bet that we will be watching Gifted, again.

Live big, love bigger and be kind, always.

*taps mic*

Is this thing still on?

 

 

Hey everyone!

We have been super busy, but things are going well.  Soon, very soon, more posts will be coming!

We also have a vlog now… because sometimes video is better.

Check out our channel on YouTube at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCf-OtnYosKRFbPt8TyymwA 

 

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.