Dear Deh-dy…

Dear Deh-dy,

We overhead Mommy talking to her friends the other day. And she said you’re not like the other dads. 

  • She said that you won’t babysit us.
  • She said that you’re bad at tracking when it’s ‘your turn’ at diapers or cleaning up the kitchen.
  • She said that you don’t read us stories before bed. 
  • She said that you rarely make us dinner at night. 
  • She said that you keep us away from her sometimes and that other times, she’s the one that leaves work to pick us up from school.
  • And she said that you don’t even take us to Daddy & Me play dates.

You do so many things different from the other dads. And Mommy notices. And we notice. And science people notice. They even think that because you treated us different, that we’ll be different from the other kids too. And sometimes that’s just how luck works.

Sometimes you lose, but sometimes you win. And we hit the jackpot!

  • Thank you for spending every minute you can with us as special Dad time; even when Mommy can’t come too. It’s extra cool that “Daddy raining” time has built us a reputation in hot and humid Singapore with our double running stroller!
  • Thank you for teaching us that there’s no need to keep score, that it’s everyone’s job to help out with the house so that we can all play more once the laundry and dishes are done.  
  • Thank you for trying so hard to tuck us in every single night, even though we act like werewolves. We will always love you more for the flying game, though. Don’t worry! It’s just that at bedtime…. Mommy has magic.
  • Thank you for managing all the grocery shopping so our helper can have dinner ready. And for not only making us breakfast every morning, but for taking the time to sit down and enjoy it with us before you go to work. Someday we will back in America with a deck and backyard where you can teach us your grill master skills for dinner too!
  • Thank you for taking Mommy out on dates without us. You always have so much fun and so do we; even getting to watch movies some nights!
  • Thank you for dropping us off at school every. single. day! And even though picking us up is your favourite thing, thanks for letting Mommy do it sometimes too!

And someday, when we’re big and you’re an old grandpa, we hope we can be exactly like you. Except we hope Daddy & Me will actually be a thing so awesome Dads like you don’t have to feel silly with all the Moms. 
Someday, Dad, we’ll be able to tell you how truly thankful we are that you weren’t like the other dads. 

Until then…. Do it “‘gain!” (and don’t forget to remind us about that time we talked with a British accent…..) 

Love you!

“He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” ~Clarence Budington Kelland

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Balinesian Backpacking Babies

Bali; tropical honeymoon destination and island oasis for surfing and yoga retreats.

…or ya know… The bucket list must-do of hiking up an active volcano with a 2 and 22 month old to watch the sunrise! Obviously.

But packing was quite different than what I originally envisioned when I thought of visiting Bali… Obviously making sure we had our passports, flip flops, and sunnies was as expected. But due to delays in life and a healthy dose of Zika floating around SEA (South East Asia), by the time we got around to booking the trip, we swapped out the surf board for trekking poles and the yoga mat for diapers and Peppa Pig pajamas.


And once Nana arrived, it was off to the airport we went for our way-too-fast 48 hr tropical escape from the big city.

Monday was spent lounging at the infinity pool with our much awaited fufu drinks and a few hours exploring the local market. And what a market. Asian markets in general are well worth exploration…. But Let. Me. Tell. You. Nothing says Bali quite like a bouquet of huge wooden……… bottle openers. I’m serious – those things were EVERYWHERE!

After an early bedtime, our day 2 alarm was set for 2am, where we would head off to spend the day with our (highly recommended) private driver and guide for only $150 USD.

We were a bit conflicted as to what to wear for the hike. Because reviews from Singaporeans made you expect something akin to Denali in December, but others did the thing in flip flops??! After doing it ourselves, our attire recommendation is to realise you’re climbing an active volcano for about 3-4km distance and 1000m elevation each way. You’ll slip and fall a lot less with hiking or trail shoes of some kind. As for the temp to workout attire, we were all pretty comfortable in shorts/capris, a short sleeve shirt, and light (read: fall) and wind proof jacket or pullover for at the top. Or when in doubt, a fleece blanket, Crocs and your favourite Peppa jammies will do. (Mom of the Year forgot kid socks though, so her feet also got wrapped in our buffs.)

It was a bit foggy the morning we went up, but still absolutely breathtaking. As was the view from where we had breakfast afterwards (top photo) looking back at the peak. The crater (2 lower photos) is riddled with stray dogs and monkeys ready to dig through your bags or jump on your head during selfies. So we held kids close, smiled quick, and had trekking poles at the ready for batting practice if needed (only once), and let the less informed tourists take their pictures while actually holding or touching the raccoons of Asia. In case no one ever told you…. Macaques are not cute. They’re annoying and disease ridden. 

Total trip was 2:30am – pickup | 4am – start | 6:30am – summit | 7:30am – start decent | 11am – finish! 

Despite having sunlight in our favour, going down was harder and slower than going up. The misty rain made things a bit slippery, had to pause for a few trail side diaper changes, and navigated a detour due to trees down over the original return path. But overall, an excursion well worth it that I’m sure our guide had no expectation of finishing when the 5 of us crawled out of the van that morning.

After breakkie with a view, we made it back to our hotel, found some rendang for lunch, and headed off to the airport for home. Of all the places we’ve visited in three years so far, Bali is up there on the must-do-again-before-we-leave list. What a fun and fast few days. And all the better to spend it with my mom, better half, and two munchkins. 😍

“My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.” ~Aldous Huxley

I love you biggest.

Gramma,

Today is the 86th anniversary of the day the world was blessed with a you. And that’s pretty damn awesome.

Not everyone has a role model in life that has accomplished so much.

  • You spent tax season with us for 20 years
  • You swam every summer of you life, went tubing at 75, and waterskiied at 60
  • You travelled the world; Tahiti, Australia, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Okinawa, London, Copenhagen, Canada, Mexico, Hawai’i and even came to visit us kids all over the States well into your 80s. Though good thing you didn’t need a passport to get to my graduation in the UP of Michigan…
  • You taught us manners and respect and good Catholic values like giving up watermelon and waterskiing for lent
  • And then a little over a year ago, you even became my tech savvy Gigi; Skypeing with your great grand daughter half way around the world.

You make me proud. You make me dream big. You make me a better person. 

But then this past February you also decided we needed a lesson in never knowing how good you have it until it’s gone.

On February 7th they told us that the cancer was back; and aggressively. Which makes sense, because cancer is as asshole like that. So, as best we knew how, we started bracing for one last summer… one last visit… one last trip back home… one last weekend at Gramma’s. But I suppose with 86 years of experience, you knew how to be ready sooner. 

Way too sooner.

And on February 28th, 21 too short days later, I had to have one last FaceTime call… one last E and Gigi pigeon noise session… and one last ‘I love you biggest’… 

No one told me then that last fall would be the one last time you sat on my lap… and the one last Chalice mushroom sandwich… and the one last time I would get to hug you close…
So I’m going to take your last lesson and do my damnedest to learn from it. I need to make the most of the time with my own parents and family and life. I wasn’t ready for it to be your last anything, so I’m sure as hell not ready for it to be our last anything either. They have way too much Nana and Grandpa-ing to do and we have too much exploring to do.

So right now… today… that means we need to make the most of our remaining time in Asia. And we need to live up to what this blog was started for to begin with — living in the now. Because one of these days will be our…

  • last 61st floor sunrise with a view of 3 different countries
  • last stroll around the Marina
  • last run through MacRitchie or the Botanic Gardens
  • last sunset at the Barrage
  • last quick long weekend to Thailand or Cambodia or Bali

I have no idea when those things will happen, but I know they will. 

 
I can’t imagine what kind of strength it takes to decline treatment and say goodbye like you did; I know they didn’t give me near enough morphine for this past few months. But if I can live and die with even half of the vigour and dignity and courage and gratitude that you have, I will be proud. I will have done something right.

We were beyond blessed to spend as much time as we did with you growing up and spoiled rotten that you stayed so active and able to keep up with us well into your 80s. I know that so many people don’t get to say that. So instead of being sad, I’m going to have to remind myself over and over that the sad only comes from knowing how great we had it.

Thank you for all the joy. I will always love you biggest. 

“I’m going to spend the rest of my life living, not dying.” ~ Phyllis Rothe, 7 Feb 2016

  

A Grand Mummum’s Day

Mom, 

I would have to imagine that the last 32 years of Mother’s Days for you looked something like this:

The most recent decade or so was floral deliveries or cards or maybe a spa treatment if, while we were busy with class and work and life, one of the four of us remembered to send something nice. College kids and 20-somethings have impeccable taste, you know. Unfortunately, I think my brother got the “favorite” award this year because he sent a real card. In the mail. That got there before today. Well played, broseph!

Before that dad maybe helped coordinate a relatively relaxing Sunday for you…. Or atleast hopefully loaded the dishwasher after dinner. And made sure your brood of teenagers signed the card. 

The most thoughtful of years thus far, though, had to have been right before that; where we made macaroni cards at school or were excited to (and insistent on) helping prepare breakfast in bed. Sorry about the egg shells that dad may have missed. I’m sure you smiled through a few of those crunchy suprises without our even realizing it.

But that first year… Before my three siblings showed up… When you were only a few months into this “mom” thing… I want you to know that I get it now. 

Well… Starting to get it now. Not saying I get the whole entire mom thing. No way. (Rumor has it we actually never do.) But I’m now 5 weeks in and getting to experience my first Mother’s Day. So I’m now starting to understand what “mom” means. 

And the first Mother’s Day isn’t about me. It’s about you. 

It’s about realizing how drastically different this last 32 years must have been from your perspective. And how much you sacrificed for us without a second thought. And without our even realizing it. 

In these first weeks I’ve learned…

…What they truly mean by “breast feeding is hard”. That shit hurts and is frustrating as hell when it’s not going well. 

…How depressing it can be when dad gets the fun and flirting time with the baby, while I get looked at as simply the food truck. 

…How exhausting growth spurts can be. Just. Go. To. Sleep. Child. 

…And that my body is no longer my own.

But you’ve always reminded me that I can do anything for a little while. And those reminders have helped me through the hard parts these last few weeks. 

“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.” ~Linda Wooten

So I want you to realize that when I look back on the last 5 weeks, what actually stands out is …

…How gratifying it is to finally get the hang of feeding; and how bad ass you feel knowing you’re the sole provider for your kid’s nutrition. ‘Meals to go’ is open for business!

…That some days, I’m the only one (not even dad) that can calm the crying baby just by picking her up. She only wants me!

…How much I can accomplish on just a few short hours of sleep. Chest naps with the kiddo are a new favorite. 

…That it’s pretty miraculously amazing that my body made this unbelievable little person!

And because while she sleeps in my lap, this part never gets old….

 

So thanks for the advice. Thanks for reminding me that I can do anything. And thanks for setting the bar so high. I can only hope she can look at me someday and feel exactly like I do today. 

Happy (Grand)Mummum’s Day! 

ILY.

 

“Call your mother. Tell her you love her. Remember, you’re the only person who knows what her heart sounds like from the inside.” ~Rachel Wolchin



CastAway

Once upon a time…. In a forest, in the middle of the woods…. Wait wrong story. That’s every campfire I ever sat at as a kid.

This story starts in 2006. When I went through a relatively major life event in the form of a break up. One of those “well, crap… Now what?!?” kind of new career, new country, what-in-the-heck-do-I-want-to-do self-discovery phases. Where people talk about windows and doors. And they’re opening and closing…….. Or something like that. Yet all you see is a crapsammich.

And in going through that hot mess, I got some of the best advice of my life. From my dad.

“Watch CastAway. And pay attention to what Tom Hanks says after he’s rescued.”

wtf does Tom Hanks have anything to do with this, dad????

Turns out; everything.

I couldn’t see it then, you rarely ever do, but hind sight really is 20/20!

And that one bit of advice snowballed into a mentality that has stuck with me ever since. It was the open window.

The ability to keep breathing, even when you have no pressing reason to do so or idea why, has been a life changer. It’s made me happier. Reduced stress immensely. And has helped me deal with the unexpected, new, and (many times) shitty parts of life like I never thought possible. Because I’ve learned to embrace the fact that it’ll all make sense later.

And today, because I devoured that crapsammich, the most unplanned and gloriously perfect part of my life just arrived in Singapore (after 48 days apart) to celebrate 6 years since we met randomly at Britt’s Pub in Minneapolis.

So try not to lose sleep over the crappy parts. Try and see the open windows. But even if you can’t, just keep breathing.

It’s *so* worth it once you get there.

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“I know what I have to do. Just keep breathing. Tomorrow the sun will rise and you never know what the tide will bring in.” ~ Tom Hanks

Superhuman

bionic [bī än′ik]
adjective

1. Of or relating to bionics.
2. Having anatomical structures or physiological processes that are replaced or enhanced by electronic or mechanical components.
3. Having extraordinary strength, powers, or capabilities; superhuman.

First of all. And I repeat: superhuman.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, we can officially celebrate the exactly 2 month anniversary of turning this pull up fall:

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Into my new superhuman arm!

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Yes, today is 2 months post foreign country surgery. And while it’s all cool be bionic and I’ve gotten over my relatively suicidal looking scar, it’s even cooler to realize how much different today would be had I opted for the 8 wk, we’ll hope it heals correctly, cast method originally suggested.

Little tidbit: Never be afraid to your own health care. Ask questions. Get 2nd opinions. Do your own research.

Surgical care in Singapore was a great choice. And it was a brilliant solution and collaboration of science and nature.

And I now confirm that choice as the right one in a few ways:
1. I was immobile (catered to by a wonderful woman – MH!) for only a few days; even traveling to Taiwan for work 6 days after surgery.
2. I was given nothing but an oversized bandaid and some antibiotics/painkillers to wait for the stitches to heal. Amazing.
3. No cast = No shrink wrapped arm to shower. FTW!
4. I got to work with a surgeon, physio, acupuncturist, chiropractor, and masseuse to collectively heal. And no one gawked at my using the others. As it should be.
5. I have 57% of my flexibility back. And graduated to 1 PT session/wk.

And most awesome is that I’m already back to 6 mi runs, 40# power cleans, double-unders, and even ring pulls working my way back to full on pull-ups!!!

Piece of advice: when given 2 options… You will rarely regret the “take action” option.

I don’t for a second.

The cure of the part should not be attempted without the cure of the whole. ~Plato

Chinese lessons

Hello. Thank you.
Hola. Gracias.
Bonjour. Merci.
Guten tag. Danke.
Selamat … Terima Kasih.
G’day. How ya goin’? Cheers mate.

2 of the first, and sometimes the only, words/phrases I try to learn when in a new country because the least I could do is greet and appreciate you in your own language!

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“Ni hao” and “xie xie” are how you spell them in Mandarin. But pronunciation is proving to be an entirely different and new hurdle. As I’ve yet to use them with a stranger without that few second delay until the realization of what I’m actually trying to say.

I have to think it’s our version of deciphering “15” vs “50” or “sank you!” in the right accent in ‘Merican. Or worse – someone using the wrong version of their/there/they’re… gasp! Right?

So on top my language lessons in China, I also get to learn new customs. Just basic nuances you never notice in daily life until they’re different. The biggest unexpected ones this week include:

1. They honk. A lot. Which is good, because 2 particularly vigilant cab driver horns saved us from clueless bus and truck drivers.

2. Bentley is to China like ambulance is to the US. You in a hurry and need a path through traffic? Get a driver that knows how to be a Bentley chaser!

3. ‘Quite’ is used QUITE a lot here. Actually in Asia in general.

(4 is unlucky. It’s our “unlucky” 13)

5. Asians don’t like to wait for the elevator to close and are just in an inexplicable hurry in general. And eye contact during a 33 floor ride is not standard.

6. Asians chew with their mouths open. A lot. Full on professional business dinner while I hold back childish jokes about see-food! 🙂 But to be fair, they think it’s really weird that I eat boiled eggs with my hands for breakfast. ‘Wow! So much protein!’

7. Just because someone nods and says yes, does not indicate that they agree nor understand you.

1 yes = I heard words
2 yups = I heard all of the words
3 uh-huhs = I understood the words
4 affirmatives= I agree with the words

Or at least that’s what I’ve deduced with some help from my brother.

And last but absolutely not least….

There is a ridiculously beautiful amount of old gorgeous temple meets brand new, biggest city in China, 24 million people culture.

And I did manage to find my way…

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In the rain…

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To the Jing’an Temple…

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With gorgeous Buddhas!! (ok, this might not actually be Buddha, I don’t know, but it was pretty!)

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Needless to say … I’ve got a lot of practice in my future. And many more visits to make. But did get the thumbs up today that Chinese lessons are slated to begin this year!!

讀萬卷書不如行萬裡路
Dú wàn juǎn shū bùrú xíng wànlǐ lù.

“Reading ten thousand books is not as useful as traveling ten thousand miles.”

– Chinese Proverb