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Kids Turning 5

26 Jan

Today my oldest son (Max) turned 5.  It seems like he has been 5 for a while…but that may be due to the fact that he’s been reminding us of his birthday since Halloween.  He was keenly aware that Thanksgiving came after Halloween, then Christmas, then New Year’s, then his birthday.  He even asked if we could celebrate his birthday at his cousin’s birthday in December since it was almost his birthday too.  On January 1 he announced it was his birthday month and asked if we could have fireworks every day.  I explained it was my birthday year which apparently wasn’t very funny judging by the look on his face.  While understanding of the fact that we couldn’t celebrate EVERY day in January, he was slightly saddened and requested we use the Christmas advent calendar to countdown the days till his birthday.  That seemed okay…and here we are: January 26.

He has been very patient.  As patient as an “almost 5-year old” can be.  So we have been celebrating for 5 days and it has been hysterically awesome and exhausting.

DAY 1 (Friday) We got the ball rolling with his grandparents driving into town and partying at our house.  The boys are always so excited to see them and love showing them all the books they want them to read.  My wife Kate and I are always excited to have another set of adults to help with them and then after they go to bed the bourbon and wine flows freely!  Uncle Mark is a fan of not having to babysit.  Having outgrown his old Wichita State Shocker Basketball jersey I surprised him with a new jersey, hat, and sweatshirt which I think he slept in that night.  Kate and I revealed that tomorrow he’d be going to the game and sitting with Dada and both his grandpas.  This was greeted with insane dancing and excitement that roughly translates to “Hell yes!!!”

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DAY 2 (Saturday) The guys took Max out for lunch, ice cream, and sodas before the game and then watched the Shocks thump Bradley.  Max always wears his “headphones” which are sound mufflers when we go somewhere loud.  He begs for them if there are fireworks.  A few minutes into the game he took them off and handed them to me.  “You can give those to Dodge, I’m 5 now and I don’t think I need them anymore.”  Well alright then.

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After the game Max got to go into the locker room and help lead the team in song and high-five all the players.  He even got to meet his idol Fred VanVleet who gave him a big birthday hug, snapped a few photos with him, and signed his jersey.  Awesomeness overload!

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Max even got to snap a few photos with Coach Gregg Marshall on the court!

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After the game we went to Max’s favorite restaurant, Stearman’s in Benton, KS.  Its attached to the small airport and he likes to watch the planes takeoff and land.  He also likes all the plane parts and model planes inside.  Grandpa liked all of this too.  I’m not sure who had more fun…maybe Grandpa.  Max was pretty exhausted by that point and started to fall asleep half way through the first book at bedtime.  Hang on buddy…Day 3 is gonna blow your mind.

DAY 3 (Sunday) Was the day he had been planning and asking for since last year.  Max wanted to go cosmic bowling at The Alley.  They put the bumpers up, dropped the lights, turned on the disco music, we filled them full of sugar, and insanity ensued.  Bowling turned into less of knocking down the pins, and more into who could roll the ball in the funniest way or hit the bumpers the most.

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The Alley also has video games and indoor go-carts.  We piled into the carts for a race with all Max’s birthday buddies and off we went!  Max was really upset that we were in 3rd place so Dada spun Isaac’s mom out and passed Kellen’s mom on the straight away before lapping Liam’s dad before the pits.  This made Max happy…and Dada too.

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He got exactly what he wanted for his birthday and slept like a hibernating bear that afternoon before partying with all grandparents, parents and Uncle Mark that night.  Pretty epic Sunday!

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DAY 4 (Monday) It was back to reality as Kate and I had to work and Max and Dodge went to school.  However, he was crowned the Birthday Boy at school by his classmates and surprised with cupcakes, songs, and birthday games.  Its good to be king!  He told me all about it at the dinner table that night where we played his new Star Wars board game.

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DAY 5 (Tuesday) The actual day.  Today.  Max is finally 5…and with everything we’ve done leading up to today we sheepishly let the day begin like any other as if nothing were going on.  Per tradition, I told Max the story of his birth the night before (which is a very different story than what we tell adults or doctors).  The short story is, it was the day Mommy and Daddy met Max in person for the first time and we became a family.  There are songs, there are cuddles, there are hugs, and I get teary every time…I’m just an old softy who blubbers anytime I think about how lucky I am to be “dad” to these boys.

Dammit!  Tearing up now!  Keep it together Ryan.

Tonight I will leave work early, Dodge will stay home with a sitter, and Kate and I will take Max to the movie theater.  He won’t know what we are going to see but he’ll figure it out pretty fast.  Max is going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  I can only assume this will be greeted with the same happy dance he did on Friday.  He has watched all 6 previous movies and in my opinion proved he’s a real fan when he explained that Hoth was his favorite planet and therefore Empire Strikes Back was the best movie.  He also leaned over to me during Revenge of the Sith and said, “There’s a lot of these love scenes and not a lot of action.”  Agreed Mr. Max…agreed.  This is how Hayden Christensen’s acting career fizzled out…Jumper just sealed the deal.  Anyhow, Max is a superfan of Star Wars and honestly with as much marketing and merchandising as Disney has done I don’t know what kid isn’t?  Seriously…kudos Disney.  Almost EVERY gift Max got this year was Star Wars themed.  Even the birthday cards.  He even got a Darth Vader costume and lightsabers.

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…and that’s how you do 5 days of birthday celebration for a kid turning 5.  All that’s left to do is measure how tall he is (he’s a giant) and listen to him ask how many days till he turns 6.  Easy buddy…enjoy 5 first, 6 will be here before you know it.  Real school, more independence, more rules, and your brother hopefully emerging from the terrible three’s.  Oh please let Dodge emerge.  Max is proof they do.

Cheers!  Here’s to another year!

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What a Toddler is Thankful For

23 Nov

This week at school the teachers asked Dodge (my 2 year-old) what he was thankful for.  I didn’t make the list.  His words, verbatim, were…

“um… pigs… and my bed, my blanket, space shuttles and Mommy.”

Dodge Gates

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My Two-Year Old Has Surgery

7 Oct

Today my two-year old, Dodge, has surgery for an inguinal hernia.  I know it is a common surgery, but I hate the idea this little guy being under anesthesia and feeling pain.  He’s my little snuggler.  Please keep him in your thoughts today…he’s tough as nails and has sharp elbows!

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Back To School

17 Aug

While putting in 10-14 hour days at the office isn’t my definition of a “fun time,” I do appreciate the fact that it is a change of scenery that affords me perspective on family, parenthood, and my children (2 and 4) I might not get if I were home all day with the boys.  My wife Kate, however, spent the summer home with them…and we agree they are gremlins.  Adorable, sweet, loving, terrifying gremlins.  They have grown up so much and are sooooo sweet!  But don’t turn your back on them…they’ll eat you alive and they always travel as a pair.  I’m not sure if we fed them after midnight, maybe they were exposed to bright lights, and we definitely got them wet since we spent the summer at the pool…but whatever mogwai was left in them has turned to full-on terrifying gremlin as they decimate the small town of Kingston Falls that is Kate’s and my sanity.

We have looked forward to today for a while, Kate more than me.  Today is the first day of school!  For both the boys and Kate.  Everyone is out of the house!!!  We took those gremlins to get haircuts yesterday, bought them school supplies, drenched them in soap, polished them up and…tada!  Cute little boys again!  So please, help me congratulate my wife Kate…she survived the summer and didn’t go crazy despite the constant barrage of…

“Ma! Mama! Ma! Mama! Maaaaaa! Mamaaaaa! Ma! Ma! Ma! Ma! Maaaaaaaaa…!”

“WHAT?”

“Watch me!”

<sigh>

School’s back bitches…and I know one Mama who’s stoked to be back at the head of a college classroom.

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Dodge & Max heading to their first day of school, Fall 2015

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Bachelordom: Day 4, the Finale

7 Aug

bach·e·lor (băch′ə-lər, băch′lər)
n.
1. A man who has never been married.
2. A person who has completed the undergraduate curriculum of a college or university and holds a bachelor’s degree.
3. A male animal that does not mate during the breeding season.
4. A young knight in the service of another knight in feudal times.

lonewolfYesterday was Day 4 of being an honorary bachelor while my family was out of town.  I finally had a good night’s sleep and awoke feeling conflicted.  On one hand I was so excited to see my family while on the other hand…I was sad to know my days of bacheloring around were over.  I finally ate that lone hard-boiled egg in the fridge and a Tupperware container full of potatoes.  Guess the fridge wasn’t bare after all.  Uneventfully, I went to work where I defiantly ate a burrito with everything on it for lunch…one last bachelor meal that my stomach would regret.

So long bachelor meals…so long.

My wife and I checked in as she made the 8 hour drive back with the kids.  With her in the home stretch, just a few minutes away, I sat down in the back yard with a Whiskey and a cigar to watch the sunset one last time…like Brad Pitt in “Interview with the Vampire,” but with much less hair and no Lestat looming over my shoulder.

So long doing what I want when I want…so long.

wolf-7That night I read to the boys and cuddled them in my arms for the first time in nearly a week.  It was so good to have them home.  They showered me with kisses as they hugged me as hard and told me all about their adventures on the farm in Iowa.  They fell asleep hard & fast, happy to be home in their own beds.  Downstairs, Kate shucked Iowa sweet corn that had been on stalks the day before at her family’s farm – it doesn’t get much fresher than that.  We feasted, played a drinking game while watching the GOP Debate, and teared up watching Jon Stewart’s final night hosting The Daily Show.  Kate cuddled up to me on the couch and I recoiled a little in surprise.  “Are you okay?” she asked.  I wasn’t used to having someone to cuddle with.  I replied, “You can’t expect me to be so easily domesticated after leaving me in the wild for so long.”  Kate ignored this comment and exclaimed, “No one left you in the wild you big baby.”  She cuddled in.  My home was full of love and affection again.

So long TV at full volume on a school night…so long.

As I turned off the lights I remembered there were two sweet little boys sleeping in beds…not just an empty room I walked past en route to Sad Town, USA.  I tucked them in one last time and kissed their foreheads as they slept.  They breathed heavily as they slept and my mind was at ease.  I climbed into bed and found my missing puzzle piece waiting for me with open arms, I was engulfed in the arms of loving affection from my best friend.  Kate planted a kiss on my lips and then earnestly asked me, “Are you eating beef jerky?”

I was.

It helped cancel out my beer breath.

I also had malted milk balls.

I jogged to the bathroom to brush my teeth.  I had to come back from the wild and was remembering how to be part of the pack.  ArooooOOOoooo!  I know it was only 4 days but I came to love my time alone.  It reminded me of why I started this site in the first place…to document my transition into my 30’s, corporate America, parenthood, and responsibility.  So much change all at once and it came rushing back in just 4 short days.  I remembered what it was like to be the lone wolf, and it was lovely.  Odd…I was so scared of it leading up to the week.  I had so much anxiety asking myself how I’d fill my time during these 4 days.  What would I do when I was left alone with…with…with…myself?!  The answer?  Eat beef jerky and malted milk balls with beer on the couch while watching TV at full volume in my underwear whenever the heck I want…dammit.

So long bacherlordom…so long.

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And now, the end is near; and so I face the final curtain.  My friend, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.  I’ve lived a life that’s full.  I’ve traveled each and every highway; and more, much more than this, I did it my way.

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