Learning as a father

Being a dad is rough work– it’s another one of those challanges that life throws at you– showing you that even the greatest thing you can accomplish in your life has challanges.  I thought of this in particular today because we went to breakfast at one of my favorite places for breakfast– the place isn’t important– but Lili and I both noticed an older gentleman having lunch with his son– you could tell right away that his kid was an addict of some sort– probably heroin, definitely something, and they were there, sitting across from each other, having breakfast, in silence.  The son looked homeless and went outside every couple of minutes to have another smoke– he had five while we were there eating our breakfast and each time he would pace back and forth past our window– the life practically gone from his eyes.  I kept looking over at his father, in his 60’s to see if there was some kind of reaction, something we could look at to indicate he was aware of what was happening– and it never came– each time his homeless looking son would come back to their table and they would continue on, eating and not saying anything to each other.

That stuck with me for most of today.  I wonder to myself if that older man ever felt as much joy as I do everyday with my kids or if he was always like that– present, yet so distant– and it really makes you think about the grandest of things, life, relationships and how they change us, the mold us, into the people we are– we really are rarely just ourselves, but rather a complicated twist of all the personalities around us.  I think of my own father over the years of my life– at times we are close, at times we couldn’t be further apart from one other, but we always seem to come together.

1976 dad
This is probably the earliest picture I have with my dad left anymore– and clearly you see him pouting and me looking pissy about something– and thats what typically happens, fathers and sons are almost always paired at odds– one has to enforce the rules and one wants to break them– it’s not an easy task and there is always conflict , but what makes or breaks a good relationship is how you deal and live in those moments where there is conflict.  Every kid has their rough patches with their fathers and I am not exempt from that rule by any means– my dad and I have had some good battles over the years about life– but you learn over the years to get better and forgiving and forgetting that you about remembering what you were at odds with in the first place.

fatherson2015The thing about that I am always trying to learn about fatherhood is how selfless it is.  I find that the best way to be a father to your kids is to just be there for them– and that is a rough thing to put yourself into that position when you spend most of your adult life trying to distinguish yourself with other people– our identities are shaped by the people we associate with– for the formative years, that’s the people that raise you– for some its their natural parents, for others, step parents, grandparents, foster parents, adopted parents, etc… and all of those experiences help shape who we all are, but then there is the social engineering of us all– the people we spend time with as we break out of that family inclusion, the daycare, the schoolmates, the fraternity brothers, etc– and those people also help shape who YOU are– they particularly shape that individualism that helps to make YOU.  For me, the people I have met over the years helped to give me the wings to fly and discover the world– but the kids, the kids that you have, they are the ones who bring you back to the reality– they are the ones who make it all simplier, it’s no longer about the money or the experiences, it’s about going up to get an Ice Cream with them– and not a blizzard, but a plain junior vanilla junior cone.  It’s about not going out to some exotic location that you have never been, its about sharing a bowl of popcorn and watching Thomas the Train– all stuff that the individual me would have scoffed at– that it was ridiculous.

A great example of that happened in Cabo this past week– here we were staying at this awesome resort with seemingly endless beach and Elliott got so excited that Jake and the Neverland Pirates was on (but he did get excited about swimming after that)

Another example is the photo below– my buddy Neil and his family (we stayed at their timeshare **Thanks Neil) went snorkling our last full day there, but Elliott just wanted to ride a boat, so we took a simple $15 glass bottom boat tour around to where the pacific meets the sea of cortez and it was just perfect.  With kids, you don’t need to go to the extremes– you just need to be there to hold their hands and point out the stuff they are seeing.  In a way, they just simplify it all– they break it all down so easily….

This was the first year of fatherhood x2– as Liam was born last October– and that boy makes me smile everyday– its interesting to see the personality difference between two of my own kids– even at 7 months now– I am humbled by him everyday– and I love that these two boys are already realizing that they are brothers– I’m sure the fighting and nitpicking will come- it always does, but its interesting to watch how Liam watches everything that Elliott is already doing– how he laughs differently at him and listens to when Elliott is talking– its like he already respects him?

Then there is watching it all come together– in the end, I have such newfound respect for my father in the way that he takes my sons under his wing and simply adores the time with them– he teaches Elliott — the whole reason Elliott just loves trains is because of my dad– he takes him down to watch the Amtrak trains and the Sounder trains and the Coal trains — all the different trains that run by Edmonds, Elliott could give you the low down on all of it and he does it year round with him, rain or shine, if he at grandpa’s there will be a walk and it will be to watch the trains– and it’s specifically their time– and I know both of them are better people because of it and that’s what being a father is all about– forgetting about all the things you want to do and just jumping on board for the crazy ride of what your kids have planned for you– you just have to remember to hold on tight.


On fatherhood

When Elliott was born, three and a half years ago, I was going to keep this blog up because if anything ever happens, I wanted him to be able to always have a place where he could go and read what his dad was thinking at any given time period. I think for the first couple of months, if we go back to it, there is some cool entries there, but like anything else, other life moments happen and soon you can’t remember the last time you found the time to organize the photos, let alone putting words or connections to that medium.
Here we are at number 2, Liam, who is now 6 months old, soon to be 7, and I haven’t much about our life together, mostly because the amount of time I have to do anything other than sleep, work and watch the kids is about less than an hour everyday. Priorities.
Our day fits into this kind of rhythm. Monday through Friday, we usually wake up at 7am. Liam is usually the first one to wake, crying and asking to be fed his breakfast. Elliott is next, asking from his big boy bed…
“May I come and sleep in your bed?”
Sounds adorable, right? Right– except this isn’t a question or a request. It’s a notification that he is awake and he IS coming to our bed– but NOT to sleep. Some days he will read, some days he will watch TV if we allow, rarely will he relax– he’s THREE!! We are trying to get more on a morning schedule, dicated by time, but the thing you learn with kids is that time is an adult concept. Elliott at 3.5 years old has zero concept of time– it can take up to an hour to get just him ready, it’s a power struggle that we are working to minimize.
Lili usually takes the kids to daycare and we both usually drive, even through the daycare is just a couple of blocks away. It again comes back around to the amount of time that we have and what we choose to apply it to. If we got up earlier, got the kids motivated sooner and closed some of the leisure time, we would have time to walk everyday like we said we were going to do when we bought the house– afterall, the reason we bought this house, in part, was its overall location to the daycare, to I-405, etc…. and now what do I find? I find myself with the same habits.
…and that’s what your try to do when you have kids– you try to still live the life you have carved out, yet try to accommodate these future examples of you as they try to figure the world out… and that is what is so crazy about all of it– I spent literally years and years in college learning about things, but my kids have taught me so many things in such a small amount of time– an education complicates everything as it teaches you the science of life, but then when you have kids, they take life back to it’s most simplistic terms. The cycle of life starts over and you have to journey with them as they piece all of it together– and that’s the thing that has REALLY caused me to pause– and I need to work harder on these moments where I am just blown away at how awesome these kids are and how fast they are growing up. I hope I get to spend a lot of time with them before they are grown up. Working as much as we do, you start to notice it….


The Miracle of Life, Part 2

In some ways, it feels like ground Hogg day, having that second baby in the same hospital that you had the first one. Here we were again, almost exactly three years ago– and not much changed.

This time there was no labor to see how far we would get, this time it was purely surgical, an early morning appointment that led to a son being born about 2 hours after we checked in.

We learned a lot this time.  For example– in the south, they don’t encourage breast feeding, but rather direct to formula.  Seems insane to me, especially given the overall health of Elliott and he was breastfed for 14 months.

One thing that was new this time was the immediate skin to skin contact following the C-section.  This is now highly encouraged if not loosely required.  As soon as Liam’s vitals were checked and his health and weight recorded, he went to spend a few moments with mom as she was being stitched up.

This birth was much less stressful than the previous one with Elliott.  Elliott had a slight heart murmur and after 18 hours of pushing, we were all out of our element.  The procedure was unfamiliar and there were some complications.  This time around, it was like clock work — the only surprise was his weight– all along we were all thinking it would be a big baby– at least 8.5lbs– but in the end, he ended up at 7.5– not a bad surprise to say the least.

All of this is good, but what most of you will come for are the pictures… Speaking of pictures– we will have some really great photos done by Trellis Photography… I will post those as soon as we get them…. (http://www.trellisphotography.com)

Wish us well… We go home tomorrow and then the double trouble begins…. Hope to have enough time to post to the site and keep things updated.  I know that people get tired of cute baby pics clogging up their Facebook feeds. 🙂

Thanks to everyone that came by and we hope to see more of you this weekend!


Things are moving fast in Hoggland.  We are in the process of closing on our first home and it is both very simple of a process but at the same time its very complicated– somewhat unnecessarily so, but they do seem to make it seem like it was the people’s fault the banks got into the mess that they did some years ago– they need all these forms and there are all these questions— where did this money come from, why did these people pay you in cash, why were you saving cash outside of a bank– its all so silly in the grand scale of things, but people have to do what they need to in order for us to get permission to pay a bank for the next 30 years and at the end of the day, what protects the consumer from the banks?

Regardless, I think that its a good idea to buy, even though it seems crazy expensive and I could laugh/cry if I think of the size of the place I was spending this kind of money somewhere else, but land value is a funny thing– the odds are pretty good that what will buying will just increase in value– one thing is for sure– rent will certainly increase over the years and I like the idea of having a place that I am free to do what I may.   Even if it does seem to cost us every cent we will earn for a number of years.

I never thought I would be interested in being a homeowner, but I think children turns that rather quickly– giving your family a place where they can spend their formative years– in a consistent sense is important to me– part of what makes me is the way that we moved around so much, so that culture might be important, the perspective of different people, but I think I given the choice, I would have probably preferred one place and then been set free in the world, but who knows.  It is usually the case with people I meet that have only lived in one place their whole life have more of an altered perspective than those who have traveled.  That being said tho– most of the experience with place comes later in life– going away to college, getting that first job in a different city, the ability to know that you can survive in a city on your own is a rewarding thing– not to be taken for granted.  Children almost beg for consistency, especially during those developing and early childhood years.

Owning a property doesn’t necessarily tie you down either– it just puts the roots in the community I want to live in while we are here.  There appears to be a trend here with housing which indicates that investing is a good idea and if we decide to go to Germany for a couple years, we could easily rent the place out and head out.  Which I could see us doing before the kids get settled in school.

When I say kids, there it is.  Number 2 comes just after number 1 turns 3.  That is going to be interesting.  Elliott is a special kid– such a great demeanor to him– and I think pretty smart for his young age– but I think children now have a lot of things at their fingers that we didn’t have– for example, he knows how to find his own shows on this device I am typing on and the iPad and the iPhone– its pretty interesting to see him do it– at 2.5 years– it wasn’t a skill we taught him, but we are on these things a lot– and it does work to keep him calm at times when there is adult talking to be done.  I used to make fun of parents that would bust out the phone to entertain their kids, shaking my head and saying to myself that there was no way I was going to let my kid get away with that.  But here I am today, eating crow as usual.

The summer has been super fun and busy with the preggers wife and the son — it started with a great visit from my in-laws who spent three weeks with us and it was good to take some time off and enjoy it with them.  Soon after they left, we were back on the housing hunt, thinking we wouldn’t be purchasing a piece of property until late in the summer at the earliest, then one day when we were just planning to look at a couple of places in the market to see what was out there, we stumbled upon the kind of thing we were looking for.

–Not a flipped house.  Buying a house that someone just bought and flipped seems cheeseball to me.  Buying a new remodel means you have to accept everything that people did to that house and every house we looked at– we had to gulp at a lot of the things that people did– from the odd sinks to the fake tiling… it reminded me bad Russian stuff you would see in China– No Thanks!

–Updates over the years is fine, just not dreadfully outdated or just shipped from Home Depot.

–Big Yard.  This was huge and this is disappearing with the amount of zero lot housing being developed here.  I wanted something that we could make into our own at this point– I have been gardening a lot lately and its something I enjoy– as a hobby.  I also think it would be cool to plant a tree when the next boy is born– but with my luck, it would die by winter if we planted in October.

So, lots of things to consider as we throw ourselves into this next chapter– exciting, scary and amazing.

Here are some pictures, because no one likes stories without pictures…

One of the three rooms for the kids.
Another one of the smaller bedrooms
Walk in closet…
…an example of what needs renovating… The guest bathroom– needs a makeover– but it is functional now– but its little projects like this that tend to skyrocket the asking price for a home– and I would rather do this to what Lili and I want.
View from the Master Bedroom of the yard. Hot tub is located below.

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The Christmas Story

Issac and Elliott Elliott:

Your second Christmas this year was a lot of fun!!! For being just two years old, you got to see Santa three times– once with Nana, another time with your cousins and a third time with Mom and Dad!  This picture was taken just after we saw Santa on the Santa Train in Elbe, Washington.  We decided to go with Joe, Kristin, Issac and Gabe and Nana and Grandpa on the steam trains and Santa was there– it was a lot of fun.

A tale of two santas

Here you are with the same Santa, when you were one and just starting to walk and here you are at two, standing tall and proud with Santa– such a cool picture I always look at and just can’t help but smile how adorable you look– so happy and such a big boy.

I am still working on the video of Christmas morning– which will get posted soon enough.  On Christmas Eve, you woke up about 12:30 in the night and wanted to know if Santa had come yet– you made me get you out of the crib so we could check and see if we could see him– and I think we saw a light in the sky above the house– I couldn’t believe it myself, but I knew he was getting close.  This just excited you even more and you called for mom to come up to your room and when she did, she said that a red light filled the room– which has never happened– I am sure now that was Rudolfs red nose checking to make sure everyone was asleep.  You quickly went to bed once you figured that out– pretty cool stuff.

The next morning, you slept until after 8am– I think that will be the last Christmas your mom and I get to sleep in that late!

As we took you downstairs, we saw your face just light up– It’s Christmas!  You kept saying Woo-Woo while you liked at all the presents, wrapped under the tree for you.

The coolest part is you opened each one individually and looked at each gift before moving on to the next one– such a cool thing.  You saved the biggest gift for last– a big set of Duplo blocks!  In the end it was a lot of fun to watch you dig through the Duplo and play with all of your new trains and take over more of the house !!!! ;P

We also had a couple of visitors come from Germany to spend the time with us!  Markus and Tonia!  They had such a nice time hanging out with you and watching you play and here they are trying some hot buttered rum:

Marcus N Tonia

I will be adding the video and additional picture later, but I wanted to get something up while I had a couple of minutes to spare.  We are having so much fun with you right now– it was such a nice Christmas.