Cranio Dad says #ThanksBaby for making me a dad.

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Pampers for this promotion.

This weekend is an amazing one. Father’s Day is a chance to celebrate dads, and all that they do in our lives. But this year I am looking at this day a little differently. Yes, there will still be the accolades for my amazing dad.  But Pampers is giving thanks to babies for making Dad feel exceptionally special; for empowering dads to discover new roles in life through fatherhood.  While I am forever thankful for each of our growing children (Zoey, David, and Jacob), my role as ‘Dad’ started when Zoey was born.

After a crazy labor and delivery, there was a ton of worry. Zoey was rushed to the NICU. The picture-perfect story about entering fatherhood was squelched with worried whispers from the staff. “What are we going to tell the parents?” is something one NEVER wants to overhear.

I remember, and still hold close, the very first time that I saw my daughter in the NICU. As I quietly pulled back the curtain, I saw before me a dark room and a little tiny bed. That bed had a light that shined with a radiance that hurt my eyes. Bathed in the warm, glowing light was my little girl, my Zoey. The one of whom I had prayed for, sung to, and talked with through my beloved bride’s growing belly. On shaking legs, I walked over to her bedside; tears streaming down my face. A quite voice from the corner of the room said “Dad, you can touch her, she is ok.” With tear-filled eyes I looked at the nurse that I had not noticed before. Her calm, penitent smile met me as her hands beckoned to the bed.

My hands were trembling as I reached out and placed my hand next to her. Choking back the tears, I said the words that I had been waiting nine months to say. “Hey Zoey, it’s me, Daddy.” At the sound of my voice, she stirred. I watched as her little body moved, and her tiny, tiny hand reached up. Her hand found my finger, and she grabbed on.

Dad and Zoey

This was the moment that I realized my entrance into the role of fatherhood. I knew that I would climb mountains for her. As her little hand grasped tightly onto my finger, I knew that just as she was born, this dad was born as well.

How Cranio Dad feels about Pampers.

For more than 50 years, moms and dads have trusted Pampers to care for their babies. Meanwhile, over the last five years, our family has come to understand Craniosynostosis. We have also learned about the challenges for a child with an imperforate anus. On Day One Zoey was in Pampers. We have tried others, but, honestly, no others work for her. Weather it be dealing with blow-outs, or looking for some comfort after a surgery, Pampers have always been there. Because of how well they worked for Zoey, we knew they were our choice. They are a staple in our home as all three kids wear them.

Pampers has released a new #ThanksBaby video that captures the amazing relationship that is created between a dad and his baby when a baby is born.  I love how this video makes me smile.

I am so happy that Pampers is helping to make this Father’s Day, and every day, special by honoring dads; for thanking dads for all the amazing things that we do, big and small, to help our little ones.

Please join me by tweeting why you are most thankful for baby with the hashtag #ThanksBaby

This Father’s Day let’s do our best to live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

The Little Moment: A tale of realization as a dad.

My life, as of late, has been measured by the moment. To some this may be a dad thing, in this case it is amazing. This weekend I took some time and headed to a park with Zoey and David. I have been working with the  City Dads Group and finally was able to get a chapter started here in Richmond, VA. While this has added to the never-ending list of things that I am working on, it is extremely important. I have benefitted through my current journey from countless other dads. This has empowered me to do something to help others. I have watched a community building itself out of awesomeness.  City Dads is a community of fathers that work hard to redefine fatherhood in the 21st century. I am so happy to be bringing this to Richmond, leading the charge, but that is a story for later.

There was a moment while we were walking on the trail that struck me.

moment of joy

The recent rain brought forth a bouquet of fresh aromas under the canopy of the trees. The deep, earthen soil mulling with sweet pine being baked in the humid spring heat brought memories of my childhood forward. I watched as their little bodies would lean and run around the winding path. The joy and excitement of each and every step reverberated through the deep woods.  The rapid scraping sound of little shoes running across fine gravel echoed with a cacophonous tumult, pushed further with the sound of laughter.

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Taking this time with my kids means the world to me. It is my honor and duty to raise them up to be better than myself. It was in this moment, far from the sounds of suburban life, that the juxtaposition of the quote struck me.  As I glanced through the trees, over the standing water, and watched the blur of my son and daughter, I smiled. This moment was the embodiment of the quote from Goethe. My children were simultaneously showing their roots and wings. It was beautiful, and inspiring.

This is not a mark of completion, but a trail marker on the way. It is a sign that I am doing something right, that amidst the trials and failures, there is something beginning to grow.

 

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.

The Importance of Video for our Children

We live in a state where technology surrounds us.  It is a part of all that we do. Quicker access to take pictures, and video, of our daily lives seem trivial to some.  But, as we are getting back into the swing of things, this state is not lost on me. In fact, I noticed something last night that made me pause. Something awesome.

In the middle of archiving a video that we shot a few weeks ago, I decided to watch it. Normally, I do not do this. I just drag it to the archive, wait for the prompt to finish and move on. But, I double clicked, and it played. Having some time, I decided to sit back and watch the video play.  I listened as my beloved narrated the scene, and watched as Zoey and David played.  Their laughter filled my ears.  I listened as Zoey ‘spoke’ with David about the tower they were building. Upon hearing this, I was startled. I sat up and rewound it. Playing it over and over again. With each repeat of Zoey’s ‘speech’ a smile broadened upon my face.
Zoey building a tower for the videoDavid getting ready for a video about building a tower

Why did Zoey’s ‘speech’ on the video cause me to pause?

I reference Zoey’s speech abilities with quotes here because, well. Let’s talk about that for a second. Due to the structural issues that Zoey was born with, due to her Craniosynostosis, things like eating and speech have never come easy to her. We have been thankful that David, since very early on, seems to be able to understand her, perhaps even better than we do.

But that is the thing. Kati and I can often understand what Zoey is trying to say. We live in this world where many around us look to us with a perplexed smile as they wait for us to decipher.  We roll with it. But, we often lose sight of the advancement she is making.  Watching this video, I realized that in just the last few weeks some astonishing advancements have been made.

It caused me to reflect to the other night.  After cleaning up the dishes from dinner, I handed Zoey a bowl of ice cream. As I stepped away from the table a sweet sound came from behind me.  My daughter saying, clear as day, “thank you daddy”.

Why the video we take is important to us?

The videos that we are capturing are not for vanity. They are to show us the steps that our children are taking. They are moments in time, forever captured, to show where they are.  Down the line, we can reflect at where they have been, and see the huge strides they have made along the way. These videos are the archive of our successes, and failures, as we teach our children how to…

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

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired

It has been a rough couple of months.  For all the reasons that many of us her on the East Coast know all too well, we have been inundated with colds and sicknesses. I have watched as my family has gone from being leveled by an illness, to healthy, back to being sick.  The cycle has been vicious, and none in our house has been spared.

For me, this is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to parenting. Dealing with wave after wave of sickness is a grueling practice.  For the older two we can give Tylenol for a fever, Benadryl for a runny nose or cough, and they get better.  We can give them juice, water, or Gatorade to drink to keep them hydrated.  Though it is painful to watch any child be miserable, we can deal with what we see.

However, this whole process is complicated when it also involves our youngest, Jacob. There is not medication to give him for his stuffy nose, and cough.  There is nothing to do but hold him, cuddle him, keep him upright, and let him know that he is loved. We know, from what we have experienced with Zoey and David that this will help to make him strong. Furthermore, we know when it gets too bad to take him to a doctor.  But that does not make any of this any easier.

Oh the Joy!

Being sick sucks. Being a sick parent, with sick kids… well that sucks even more. I feel like I am going to jinx myself (again) by saying that we are all doing much better than the week before.  However, thanks to this awesome weather (25 degrees Fahrenheit today… it was nearly 80 last week… 50’s by this weekend) I am certain that we are not done with this awesome ride.

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

Fatherhood: to carry on the conversation from the Vlog

Fatherhood has to be one of the toughest things I have ever embarked upon.  It is also the thing that brings me some of the greatest joy.

Important Note:

IF you have not seen the vlog that this post pertains too, stop what you are doing and go to the link here:

Vlog

And spend less than eight minuets getting to know me a little better. I will be referencing things that I spoke about in this video here, and context may be important.

Ok, back to what I was saying:

Now that you have watched the video, let us continue on with the conversation.

Right out of the gate, I want to thank those of you that have been following along for the last few years.  Our journey has been rather unique, to say the least, but I hope that you have seen that I try to make the best of it.

I guess that I could roll up the topics into a few points, and discuss them a little further here.  Please bear in mind that we are still figuring out how things are going to work with our Blog and Vlog, so let’s see how this works!

Fatherhood:

From the beginning, my adventure into fatherhood has been overwhelming. Not many parents have the ‘opportunity’ to get to know their child as well as Kati and I did.  With all of the tests and conversations that surrounded Zoey (many still do to this day), we had the opportunity to get to see how her bones were developing, how her brain looks, and much more.  However, looking back, I see that I had a choice that I had to make early on.  I could either embrace Cranio, and all that it brings into our lives, or I could live in fear of it.  Out of the shear love of my daughter, I faced cranio, and have embraced it.

It is interesting to realize that in these (almost) five, short, years the ways that I have learned to be a dad.  I saw a quote the other day that stated motherhood was natural and fatherhood was a social construct.  Now, I could fly off about the wording of that quote, or, I can point out the flaws.  Simply, the social construct that surrounds fatherhood is a carryover from the 50’s.  There are currently so many working on changing this view. I, proudly, am one of them.  The concept of fatherhood needs an overhaul, just as much as does the concept of what makes a man.

Soapbox moment (sorry):

The topic of fatherhood makes me emotional.  For some of you, it was plan to see in my video.  There is a love that burns like the fire of a thousand suns for my children.  Fatherhood has placed my heart on my sleeve, and I am not at all worried about it. Far to often the voices of dad’s goes unheard.  This is based on the social construct that dad’s have little to do with raising their children.  They just go to work, come home, and help.  This social construct surrounding fatherhood does not stand in MANY of the households that I know of. It surely does not hold in mine.  It is part of my journey of fatherhood to show this to my children. To have my daughter know what to expect, and my sons to know what is expected.

 

How has it made me a ‘damn good dad’?

I really do mean what I said in the video regarding not taking the title of “Cranio Dad” lightly.  For all the ups and downs that I have been through this far, Fatherhood has been a grand adventure.  I have been able to take so much about what I have had to learn to be the kind of father that Zoey needs, and apply it to how I am raising David and Jacob.  By ensuring that there is equal 1:1 time, that I focus on the activities that bring them wonder, and by getting to know them, I am taking all the steps that I can to be the dad that EACH of them needs.

Needs vary greatly, and every child is different.  One of the biggest things that I learned as I entered fatherhood is that we need to pause, as parents, and wait to see who each child is going to be. That is the hard part, and also the avenue to produce the greatness that we strive for as parents. Waiting. Letting our little ones show us who they are, what they like, what interests they hold dear. It sucks, but I would rather be their champion than their absent-minded coach. Perhaps that is why I feel I am doing my best to be a damn good dad.  Because, even though I do not take fatherhood lightly, but I look at it differently than most.

Well, that does it for now.  As we keep saying, please feel free to continue this conversation with us.  Subscribe to our blog for daily snippets, our vlog for more conversations, and comment with your thoughts.  We want to hear what you think, even if it differs greatly from our point of view.

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