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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…!”


“Watch me!”


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


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

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Emails From My 2 Year Old

6 Mar

A couple of times in the past I have used this site to write letters to my boys for them to read when they’re older.  Now, they are writing to me.  Max (4) is starting to read and can write his name as well as a few other words while Dodge (2) thinks my name is “Dada Butt.”  Both boys are amazed by anything with buttons and the flock jukeboxes and ATMs whenever we are out to eat.  What else has buttons?  Phones.  Dodge has taken to emailing me while I’m at work where (I recently found out) Max thinks I go to play video games on my computer all day and “get stuff.”  Understandable since the only time he has ever used a computer was to play a game and whenever we swing by my office on weekends I tell him I need to run inside to “get some stuff.”  Makes sense.  I play games and get stuff.  Pay is pretty good too.  Anywho, I don’t know if it is through my wife’s phone, tablet or laptop but I love getting emails from Dodge.  Here is what he has to say:

kkl./kmkjkl;;;;from doDg e////;pkjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj”/// .;.,n nm,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,…

gfffffg.jjjlkjjjjgvfff]TOTALjjkjhjjjl,,,.//  ? nlkjbvvbbbcc    m,,,;/.,njffjj’njjjjjjjjjklll

k,jj     ,,,,,,,,,,,[[[,,

..  ;jjj..mhmjl.//ikj./

mk                 jl/.,m     njyu\/ k k  i mn ;;…….;;           hhhhhhhhj                ggggiiii m,uiyyc 

  cc   ,./   

mnn….    n    umgb               [[. 



Thanks buddy…I love you too.  -Dada Butt

Dodge's Christmas Piano

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Dodge’s 2nd Birthday

2 Mar

IMG_5687It was a week in which my youngest, Dodge, grew up in many ways culminating to his 2nd birthday on Sunday.  Dodge is a soft-spoken little boy with soft straw blonde hair and piercingly blue eyes.  He can melt your heart with a smile, he squeezes hard when he hugs, and when he wants something like candy he turns into a screaming devil.  He sleeps stomach down in his bed with his feet on his pillow and his face towards the foot of the bed with his tiny rump protruding into the air.  He spends a good majority of the day pretending he’s a dog with his tongue hanging out, panting, woofing, and occasionally licking things like household objects that shouldn’t be licked.  He’s spent the last two years fending off his older brother, Max, who is almost a foot taller than him and thunderously affectionate to the point of smothering.  He’s shorter, stockier, and has sharp elbows.  We call him “Big D” or “Dodgeball” depending on the situation.  He’s a fantastic little boy on the verge of passing through toddlerhood into boyhood.

Dodge’s 2 year coronation began midweek when he decided to casually toss the F-bomb into conversation at about 7:15 AM to see if he was using it correctly.  “Time to put your shoes on Dodge,” my wife Kate told him.  Dodge smiled wide and happily replied, “Fuck that!”  The look on his face after can only be called sheer joy.  He awaited applause from us as if we were going to say, “Good job!  You used that correctly!”  In his defense…the context was perfect.  He didn’t want to put on his shoes.  However, he’s 2 and gets timeouts for arguing…this got him grounded and there were multiple conversations to follow.

20150301_154547On Saturday Dodge and Max (who is 4) were cooped up inside after snow and sleet covered the land.  They were running back and forth through the living room and slamming into the chairs…trying to knock them over…as boys do.  After successfully knocking a few things over I sent them upstairs to play.  They share a room, there are tons of toys up there, and they can bounce off the walls for all I care…and they did.  They had a great time and played together fantastically.  Then I heard Dodge scream…I mean screeeeeeam!  I ran to the bottom of the stairs to find Max and Dodge standing at the top of the stairs fighting over a toy that Dodge had and Max wanted back.  Max tried to take it away and Dodge hit him.  Max, stunned for a second, hit him back.  Then it happened.  They stood toe-to-toe and started trading punches back and forth.  Tiny fists!  Tiny smacks!  Both had their eyes closed and their arms extended as their little heads popped back every now and then as the other landed a blow.  I was not prepared for this, this is too soon for fist fights!  “Hey!”  I shouted from the bottom of the stairs as I made my way up.  They stopped hitting, and Dodge took this opportunity to hit Max in the side of the head with the toy in what you could call either a cheap shot, a winning move, or a reminder that though he is smaller…he’s not to be trifled with.  Whatever you call it, the toy now belongs to me and both boys ended up grounded.  The fun part was watching how fast they went from enemies to friends working together to get out of being grounded.  I remember it well from days past with my sister.

Then Sunday came.  The big day.  Dodge was 2.  We started off by going to the YMCA to swim in the kid pool where Dodge invented a game where all the adults were crocodiles and he was coming to get us.  It was hysterically fun and the look on his face as he said, “I’m gonna get you!” was priceless.  As always, I slipped away to the deep pool with Max to honor my agreement with him.  Plain and simple: I take Max swimming in the shallow kid pool so long as each time he lets me work with him on real swimming in the deep pool.  We did our usual with the swim board, worked on getting his feet up while kicking, and dunking our head under water.  Then we put the swim board aside and I held Max as he swam with my help.  Then it happened…on Dodge’s 2nd birthday in the YMCA pool.  I felt Max drifting away from my hand…he was swimming.  So I let go.  At first he panicked…then he started kicking and wham!  Swimming.  No vest.  No help needed.  Swimming.  He swam about 10 feet, pretty awesome for his first time.  He did it a few times.  Each time he swam better than before.  It was awesome.

20150301_154554After the Y the boys were wiped and went down for a nap which gave us the time to set up for Dodge’s “Uptown Funk Dance Party” themed birthday.  We had disco lights, balloons, Uptown Funk on the TV, cool sunglasses, cake, cupcakes, and more.  Kate’s parents got Dodge a fedora like the one Bruno Mars wears in the music video and he excitedly donned it as he showed off his sweet dance moves.  He and Max danced, they shouted out their favorite part (“Call the police and the Fireman!”), and it was awesome.  Dodge wore his fedora all day and was keenly aware that it was HIS birthday.  He wore the fedora in the car, he wore it at dinner that night, and he would have gone to bed with it had we not told him it would get smooshed.

As I stroked his straw blonde hair and watched his piercingly blue eyes drift off to La La Land that night I asked him, “Dodge…how old are you.”  He smiled at me and said, “I’m two!”  Then he held up eight fingers.  Close enough.  I told him about the day he was born and how excited I was to meet him.  I told him about how Max held him when he was one day old and kissed his forehead.  I told him how stubborn he was even back then.  I told him about the first time I held him.  Then I told him what I tell both my boys every night:

Dada loves you no matter what.  There is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you or love you less.  Every day I love you more, my love is a tree that grows and grows.  You are special, there isn’t another person like you anywhere in the world.  You are the only you and I love you.

Dodge cuddling Luna, our cat.

Dodge cuddling Luna, our cat.

Then Dodge squeezed me extra hard and kissed my cheek.  “Love you Dada.”  He replied.  I tucked Max in and congratulated him on his swimming accomplishments, sang them their favorite song, blew kisses, and said the same thing I say every night, “Night, night.  Sleep tight.  Don’t let the bed bugs bite.  I’ll see you in my dreams tonight.  I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my babies you’ll be.”  Both boys rolled over and yawned.  “I love you!”  I said.  “LOVE YOOOOUU!!!”  They shout back together.  “See you for breakfast,” I said as I closed the door to their room, “Happy Birthday Dodge.”  Then…silence.  Then, “I’m two!”  I imagine 8 fingers were held up victoriously in the air.

It’s good to be the Dada.


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So Long 2014!

2 Jan

Its been a heck of a year filled with up and downs…as life should be.  So Long Freedom began 2014 with a post entitled “Parenting On A Plane,” a look at some of the rules we created for our then 2-year-old (Max) and ways to enforce them.  Max was on the verge of turning 3 and we had no idea that the “Terrible Threes” would put the “Terrible Twos” to shame.  Dodge was 10 months old and referred to as “The Octopus” because he grabbed everything within his reach…seemingly with a multitude of arms.  Time moved forward and the blog marched on.  I adjusted to being Midwestern, my sister got married and landed a role on NBC’s “The Blacklist,” Dodge began using baby sign language, one of my music videos won a few awards, and Max turned 3.  Max turned 3!  Wasn’t it yesterday I posted a sonogram photo of him on here as this journey began?  Dodge learned to walk just before his first birthday, I co-founded an arts organization with my wife and great friend, my beloved Wichita State Shockers went undefeated in the regular season, Max began throwing temper tantrums, and Kate and I instigated the “Good Behavior Chart.”  Max discovered the freedom of playing alone outside, Dodge ate dirt, I finally identified with Wichita as my home, my anxiety got substantially better, the boys took their first bike ride, we adopted and rescued an ornate box turtle, and we returned an ornate box turtle to the wild when we realized they are a terrible pet and it is against the law to “rescue” them.  Max rode a horse for the first time, Dodge started biting, Max got bit by Dodge a few times, Dodge started talking, Max started playing with Dodge by the pool, and Dodge learned that he doesn’t float.  Dodge switched to a forward facing car seat, Max got a booster seat for the car, we vacationed on Lake George, and Dodge learned again that he doesn’t float.  My dad’s best friend and surrogate uncle to me passed away…I love you Ali, thank you for reading with me in your final days on Earth – reminding me there are things bigger than my understanding of the world.  A few weeks later my grandma Dawn passed away…goodnight Grandma, I love you now and always and will always think of you when I have pancakes.  My pear tree had a bumper crop year, I hit my mid 30’s, Max and Dodge saw their first movie in a movie theater, the boys started roughhousing, Dodge started daycare, and Kate rediscovered what its like to not have 2 kids clinging to you all day long.  I made a hand-developed black & white Super 8mm film in under 24 hours as part of a film race which was selected to the Tallgrass Film Festival where it won the audience award for its showcase.  I lost Max in a crowd.  I found Max.  I cried.  I voted in the midterm elections, Harvester Arts found great success, and my 9-year-old nephew (Jake) humbled me when he wrote a Thanksgiving essay at school about how he was thankful for me, his Uncle Boo Boo.  Max got his first haircut in a salon, I lost my bacon, I got new bacon, and lest we forget from the Lay’s Salt & Vinegar Chips letters…don’t come between me and my food.

Max's Christmas Croup

Max’s Christmas Croup

…and that’s just what happened on this site.  Max got croup on Christmas, Uncle Mark brought out the best in our family over the holidays, and our best friends bought a house 4 blocks from our house…3 minute walk…amazing!  In 3 weeks Max turns 4 years old.  That little schmoop!  He’s turning 4!!!  Max is fully potty trained and sleeping in a twin bed…across the room is another twin bed where Dodge sleeps, and he’s started asking to use the potty on his own in the past few weeks.  Dodge turns 2 years old in 2 months.  My nephew turned 10!  There are 2 major milestone birthdays coming up in my family but that’s not my place to say…never discuss age and politics, right?  Yesterday the company I work for nearly tripled in size and I was humbled to be asked to move up in to a senior director position, something I have been working towards for the past few years.  Our cat is dying…not today, but probably this year.  Luna is 17 and time has simply caught up with her, Kate and I are doing everything we can to make her happy and comfortable.  Both boys will be in school, work schedules look to be insane, and 2015 is looking like the year our little family turns the corner and finds our own identity with each other.  Its been a great year…and 2015 has potential to be even better.  Through it all, the best moments of 2014 were the ones I’ve shared with my loved ones…the simple things.  Oddly, the highlight of the year was my grandmother Dawn’s passing.  Her passing was a relief because I know she was in pain and it eases my soul to know that pain is gone.  It simply was her time and she left behind a great legacy and a life too funny and complex to ever fit into a blog.  Her passing allowed me one last trip to Lake George where I was able to visit my favorite spot, feel the sun on my back one more time, feel the water on my toes, the air in my hair, and say goodbye.  Not just to her, but to the lake…which always feels like home, but Wichita IS my home.  I dove down deep in the water and retrieved a stone from under the Commission Island buoy.  It is mossy.  It is orange.  It is my little slice of home.  When I feel lonely or sad I hold this stone and I can remember EXACTLY how I felt that sunny day…Sunday, August 3rd…sun on my back, water on my toes, and wind in my hair.  It is the moment I will always think of when I look back on this year.  It is the nexus of all the events of the year.

So long 2014.

Me and Grandma, 1980.

Me and Grandma, 1980.

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