Tag Archives: birth

Dodge’s Birthday Weekend Of Firsts

4 Mar

20140303_175007This past weekend has been circled on my calendar for months.  I knew was going to be hectic…I just didn’t realize how hectic it would be.  Like the perfect storm of to-do lists…the launch party of our new nonprofit, the Wichita State Shockers final game of the season, my son Dodge’s first birthday, my in-laws, the Oscars, and a winter storm all collided within 72 hours for a strange (but awesome) weekend.  It was a weekend of firsts.

Kristyn Chapman Wins

Harvester Launch Party

Over two years ago my wife Kate and I started a program called *asterICT to bring visual arts to Wichita, KS via our digital nomadic business, CreativeRHINO.  Last year Kate turned the project into its own separate entity with her business partner Kristin and it evolved into Harvester Arts, a fiscally sponsored 501(c)3 under the umbrella of Fractured Atlas.  Friday was the launch party.  Months of planning, fund-raising, programming, paperwork, painting, etc. were all set to happen in our 5,000 square foot space and there was of course nervous energy.  We split the space in half, themed the party “Under Construction,” and through the AMAZING work of our volunteers threw a fantastic launch party.  I had told myself I would be happy if 100-200 people came…the weather report was very cold and there were hundreds of other things going on in Wichita for Final Friday.  Then it happened…over 300 people came in the first half hour.  Then we ran out of space.  Then over 500 people were there!  It was a HUGE success and everything from the tech, to the music, to the awards show, to the crowd went perfectly and I couldn’t have asked for a better night.  It was a great weight lifted off my shoulders!  I relaxed, drank a few beers, did my job of kissing hands and shaking babies (see what I did there?), and celebrated the night instead of stressing over working the night.  The local art paper F5 had given us an amazing write-up and it was clear…Harvester Arts was the place to be that night and hopefully the future of alternative visual arts in Wichita.

Friday?  Check!

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The whole family

Boom!  March 1st!  Where has the time gone?  Kate’s parents were in town for the launch party and our son Dodge’s first birthday…but a winter storm was blowing in making their planned Sunday return look impossible.  Many Saturday morning calls were made and the decision was made that for the sake of safety they would leave right away to try to get home before the storm hit and the roads closed.  We felt terrible.  They drove 8+ hours Thursday just to crash with my folks, run errands for us on Friday, party late on Friday night, and then drive 10+ hours back.  They were in town for less than 36 hours and on the road for about 20.  That’s some awesome grandparents right there.  For months Kate and I debated what to do for Dodge’s first birthday.  On one hand he’s just a 1-year old and will never remember the day nor comprehend it as it is happening.  However, we live in a digital era and his older brother Max got a petting zoo for his first birthday.  The bar had been set and Dodge needed to be able to look back at pictures and not feel like he got cheated.  Max liked animals so the petting zoo made sense.  Also, Max got a sunny spring-like day on January 26th, 2012.  Dodge got a winter storm warning with freezing fog and ice.  No petting zoo.  Also, when Kate and I asked each other what Dodge likes right now there was zero hesitation when we responded:  “Food.”  Dodge loves food.  If you have food…he’ll try to pilfer it from you and a simple “no” won’t deter him.  He is persistent.  He knows “more” in baby sign language and that’s what he signs 24/7.  “More!”  More!”  More!”  Then he points to his mouth.  “More food!”  It’s either that or books.  So Kate made a birthday cake that looked like a book, we got him tons of books, and we let him eat as much of whatever he wanted all weekend long.  No one was coming out in the ice so we took him with us (as planned) to the biggest party in town.  We took Dodge to see the Wichita State Shockers play the last game of the season.


Shock & Dodge!

If you don’t know about the Wichita State Shockers…you are living under a rock or don’t follow sports.  On Saturday they defeated the Missouri State Bears to go 31-0 on the season.  A perfect regular season sweep!  The first to do so in over a decade and the only team to have 31 wins in an undefeated regular season.  It is a record that belongs solely to the Shockers and Dodge got to be there for it!  He is forever a a part of history!  We brought (as always) ear protection for both boys and man they needed it on Saturday.  All 10,506 fans were on their feet screaming as loud as they could and Dodge loved it!  He smiled, he clapped, he gave high-fives, he pointed, he smiled more…he had a great birthday.  It tuckered the little man out and he passed out in the second half.  We woke him up after the game and took him into the locker room to see the team where he got high-fives from seniors Nick Wiggins, Cleanthony Early, Chadrack Lufile, and Kadeem Coleby as well as a hug from Coach Gregg Marshall.  I have a tiny shirt being autographed for him that he can keep forever as a keepsake as proof that he was there to witness history…albeit at the age of 1.

31-0 Shockers

130225170727-wichita-kansas-snow-horizontal-galleryBy the time we left the celebration and headed to the parking lot it was clear that Kate’s parents had made the right decision leaving early.  A fog had rolled in and frozen covering everything in ice…turning Wichita into an ice skating rink.  Kate and I thanked our lucky stars that the weather had held off long enough for us to have the Harvester Arts launch party.  I got the car de-iced enough to drive, and we poked our way home to put the kids to bed after a long dinner where Dodge happily gorged himself.  Kate’s parents watched as highway 30 was reduced to one lane plowed and the whiteout hit Iowa just as their car pulled into the driveway of their home.  Everyone survived Saturday.

Sunday was a hangover.  Flat out truth.  Hung…over.  Saturday had been a hangover too but Advil and some hair of the dog had pushed it aside so I could appreciate my baby boy’s birthday and the Shockers’ win.  Sunday however was a snow day and I couldn’t be happier.  Fat-pants ahoy!  We watched cartoons with the boys, Max and I made chocolate waffles, I did the dishes, Kate did laundry…it was awesome.  That night we were going to continue Dodge’s celebration at dinner with my folks and let him tear into his cake.  The snow turned to sleet, then back to snow, and the temperature dropped.  The boys played together at the train table together til the next first of the weekend happened.  It went like this:

MAX:  “No Dodge!  No!  Dodge!  Noooooo!

<Loud crashing sound>

DODGE:  <Screaming tears>


Dodge’s Cake

Max (3) was playing with a train when Dodge reached over and grabbed the track.  Max didn’t want Dodge to touch the track he had built so he hit Dodge in the face…hard…and left a mark.  Happy birthday Dodge…you’ve just been cold-cocked!  This was a first.  Max often gets frustrated by Dodge or other kids, but had not retaliated using physicality until this moment.  Max was sent to his room.  This resulted in an epic temper tantrum including screaming, hitting the walls, slamming a door, and talking back to Kate and I.  His time out was escalated to being grounded.  This in turn escalated the tantrum.  This is a topic for another day but we let Max get all his screaming and yelling out then I had a long conversation with him about what had happened.  We got washed up and went to dinner, braving the weather, with my folks where Dodge got to eat to his little heart’s content, he got fun cards that made funny noises, new books, a bouncer toy, and the highlight of the weekend…a cake he attacked with two hands!  Fistfuls of cake and frosting went into his mouth as his sweet little pupils dilated with delight.  Sugar!  It was a first.  Max partook as well and a mini tantrum ensued when he found out it wasn’t his birthday and he kicked Dodge’s new toy…officially solidifying his entrance to the Terrible Threes.  the Oscars played in the background and I said, “Screw it…I’ve had enough events for one weekend.”

2014-03-02 20.09.31

Calm down Max


Tell more about this “cake” you speak of…


Best gift…talking card.


Not too sure about this bouncy horse thing…

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Caaaaaake! Caaaaake! Cake! Cake! Caaaaake!

Once Sunday night rolled around it was just Kate and I.  We’d hosted in-laws, launched a nonprofit, thrown the biggest party in town, watched the Shockers go undefeated, survived an ice storm, parented our way through our boys’ first physical altercation, and of course…thrown our baby boy a fun first birthday complete with high-fives from the Shockers, new toys, cake smashing, and a sweet shiner from his brother.


Getting taller!

Its hard to believe just 1 year ago I was holding Dodge in my arms for the first time wondering if I would be a good parent.  Wondering if I could handle being a father of two?  Wondering what life would be like with Dodge.  Now?  I can’t imagine life without him and wonder what life was like before he was born.  He greets me at the back door when I come home from work saying, “Dada! Dada!”  He is incredibly ticklish and if you don’t tickle him…he’ll show you where you should tickle him and say, “Tickletickletickle…!”  He’s too busy for hugs but loves to run up to you and say, “Hi!” in a very soft voice, then grin sheepishly, and toddle away.  His favorite game is playing peek-a-boo with the dish rags hanging from the dishwasher and he loved the train table til he got punched by Max…though it doesn’t seem to have deterred him.  He has a little squiggle on the tip of his nose just like me.  He looks like my wife.  He doesn’t understand the concept of riding on my shoulders and tries to sit on my head instead.  He likes to be held, he hates to sleep, and his eyes are soul-piercingly blue.  His hair smells like milk, his patience is astounding, and he is smart as a whip!  He plays nicely with the cat…but that tail is too hard to resist grabbing.  He has a sweet stiff arm he gives to his brother Max when Max is being too rough…needs to work on getting it out in self defense a little sooner.  He has a full-faced smile.  He’s stocky.  He loves books and no matter what is going on around him if you read to him…all is right in his world.  He loves his Mama.  He holds hands with Max when they ride in the car.  He snores when he sleeps and it lulls me to bed.  He is a wonderful little child and I’m proud to be his Dad.

Happy Birthday Dodge!  Next year you get to punch Max.


The day you were born Dodge.

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Dodge Is One Month Old

1 Apr

Today is Dodge’s 1-Month birthday! He looks just like Max at this age.  Can you tell which one is Dodge and which one is Max?


Baby Weight And Breastfeeding

18 Mar

20130301-163532.jpgOur second son Dodge was born two weeks ago on 3/1/13…an awesome palindrome date if ever I saw one (3113).  He joined us at 3:37 AM weighing in at 7 lbs and 9 oz.  My wife Kate is a bit of a math nerd and loves the number 3 as well as powers of 3.  Our alarm clock is set for 7:11 (7+1+1=9 and 9/3=3), when slicing up the Quiche in the morning there are 9 slices instead of 8, and as we travel along the road she points out how many things we have encountered along the way in powers of 3.  So it’s no coincidence that if you add up the numbers of Dodge’s birth date and time (3+1+1+3+3+3+7) it equals 21…which is of course divisible by 3.  Stick with me here: 21 divided by 3 is 7…which is how many pounds Dodge weighed.  3×3=9, which is how many ounces Dodge weighed.  Okay…now you know a snippet of how my wife’s brain works…if you understand why I love that is how my wife’s brain works then you understand a snippet of how my heart works.  Now, enough with the math and on to the cute new baby.

20130301-163516.jpgDodge was a screamer in the delivery room and a crier in the days following.  I knew that Max (our first son) had been a “sucker baby” luring us into thinking babies were easy.  Max had been calm in the delivery room and spent his first few days flirting with everyone, sleeping in my arms, and smiling.  Dodge?  Crying.  Both boys had been C-Section babies that were two weeks “late” so they were a good comparison.  Max was a full pound heavier, quieter, and was happy to be held by others.  Dodge was a crier, tiny, but would sleep so long as someone was holding him.  As with any baby, they lose weight after birth and the goal of your 2 week visit is to get back up to their birth weight.  Dodge weighed exactly 7 pounds when we left the hospital meaning he needed to put on 9 ounces in two weeks.  Could it be done?

Ryan and DodgeKate’s milk came in faster than with Max, most likely because this was not her first rodeo.  Both boys were fantastic eaters but Max barely put his weight back on at first and then started growing later – which is most likely why he was able to control his head early and started walking at 7 months.  Dodge, it turned out, was as chill (if not more) than Max once he was full.  The best part is that Dodge takes a 2-3 hour nap in the middle of the day at the same time as Max!  At night…he sleeps in 3-4 hour chunks!  Seriously, we have had two super babies (understanding this could all change next week – knock on wood).

Sleepy DodgeThis morning was Dodge’s 2-week checkup and we were excited to see if he had put back on the weight he needed.  His nickname is “Little Chicken” because he has tiny chicken legs.  He pee’d three times before heading into the exam room for measurements.  Arg!  There goes that water weight.  The nurse measured his height and he had grown over an inch!  Wow.  I wasn’t expecting that.  Then she put him on the scale, the numbers beeped around, and “zoink” they stopped on 8 lbs 7 oz.  Dodge put back on his birth weight and added on an extra pound for safe measure.  Woohoo!  Mon petit poulet.  Then he wow’d the doctor by tracking with his eyes, something he had been doing at home for the last few days.  She told us that was something she looks for around 1 month so it was great to see he was doing it early.  I’m not bragging, I’m just happy to know I have a healthy baby boy who is progressing as he should and seems very happy.

My 2 BoysNow I’m not going to lie, Kate and I make cute babies.  So far it would seem we also make very happy and calm babies which I entirely attribute to Kate’s calm demeanor and the fact that both boys were breastfed.  Both births the boys were brought to Kate’s chest as fast as possible and since there were no complications with Dodge’s birth he went from womb to chest in a matter of seconds where he instantly started rooting.  Now that Dodge is eating well and sleeping he is putting on weight at an awesome rate.  Max would cluster feed which was exhausting.  I can’t wait for the point where Dodge will lay off a bit so Kate can pump and I can feed him too…plus we can start getting a sitter.  All and all, I am humbled once again by the amazing female body and the things it can do.  Everything I can do Kate can also do…plus she can grow a human being inside of her, birth it, create food for it, and feed it.  I cannot do that.  I can convert food into flatulence more efficiently…but that’s not something to brag about.

20130316_220237Both births we have had great luck with breastfeeding and I understand it isn’t always as natural and easy as we’ve had it.  I remember the cluster feeding with Max and thinking, “This is ridiculous, let’s just give him some formula and shut him up!”  However, Kate stuck with it and before long we had a great schedule going.  If you have a new baby and are getting frustrated with breastfeeding I urge you to seek help and stick with it.  With Max we went back to the hospital and met with a specialist who gave us pointers on what we could do better.  Kate joined a La Leche group where she really found the info she needed as well as the support group she was looking for.  You can find info about groups near you and speak with professionals on your local or the international La Leche League websites.  As always, you gotta do what you feel is best so long as it is not endangering you, the baby, or anyone else.  I can’t wait to get home from work today and play with my two son’s…maybe the “Little Chicken” will be a crawling rooster before long!

The Boys

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Max Is Big Boy Now?

8 Mar

Ryan and DodgeBrining home a new baby can be a lot of change for a toddler, and there was no exception for our 2-year-old Max when he met his little brother Dodge last week.  Things started of fine with hugs and kisses but have daily descended into the expected pit of regression as Max acts out in an attempt to still be “the baby.”  Temper tantrums, fake crying when Dodge cries, insisting that Dodge’s toys are his, and everything else you’d expect from a toddler robbed of being an only child.  I feel bad for him…but at the same time I’m suddenly aware of how stinky and massive he is. Max is not a baby…he’s a big hulking kid.

The hardest part in all this is that Dodge got all tangled up during birth so we had to have a C-Section…meaning Kate can’t lift Max.  So not only is he coping with not being the baby, he has to do it without Mama picking him up.  It’s a lot for a little guy to digest.

wpid-IMG_0640.jpgI’m working from home this week but fully aware of the fact that next week we need some solutions for how Kate will be able to handle both Max and Dodge…so we started celebrating “Big Boy Moments!”  Max can already go up and down the stairs all on his own so even if it is me (who can lift him) he’s been asked to walk on his own like a “big boy.”  Diapers can be changed on the floor, he can get in and out of his car seat in Mama’s car, he can sit at the table and feed himself.  He’s pretty much fully prepared to be a big boy with the exception of one thing…the crib.

Max In Crib

Max In Crib

Knowing it was a lot to throw at Max all at once, I took the front of the crib off and threw a “Big Boy Bed Party” for Max which pretty much consisted of showing him the bed and reading books with him in bed.  Max was very excited to have a bed that was just the right size for him and loved crawling in and out of it at his leisure.  We discussed the rules of the bed and how once it was night-night time he had to stay in the bed.  He agreed.  Then it was nap time…and the true test.  Would he stay in bed?  I tucked him in, kissed him goodnight, then left to observe from the camera.  This is what I saw:

Max touches the floor to see how far it is and prove he can reach it.

Max touches the floor to see how far it is and prove he can reach it.

Now two hands on the floor...still technically in bed.

Now two hands on the floor…still technically in bed.

Next Max sends his favorite stuffed animal "Muffin" out to test the waters.

Next Max sends his favorite stuffed animal “Muffin” out to test the waters.

As Muffin has survived the floor test it is clearly safe to add more stuffed animals.

As Muffin has survived the floor test it is clearly safe to add more stuffed animals.

Next up, the orange monster tests out the floor..."Yup, all safe down here."

Next up, the orange monster tests out the floor…”Yup, all safe down here.”


The orange monster and Max check under the bed to see if there are other monsters.

Max looks up at the camera to see if I'm watching

Max sends Muffin down to help then looks up at the camera to see if he’s busted.

BUSTED! Max pretends to be asleep.

BUSTED! Max pretends to be asleep.

Max goes to sleep.

After a quick re-tucking…Max goes to sleep.

Between the Muffin and Orange Monster tests there was a brief out-of-bed experience to help Muffin back to bed.  Other than that…he has stayed in bed.  On his third night he fell out and bonked his head, since then he has slept in the back corner instead draped over the edge.  In the morning he gets out of bed on his own and plays with his toys, reads books, and dresses Muffin.  Then he knocks on the door and says “I’m up!” and we come get him.  Not too shabby.

The Gates Boys

The Gates Boys

Since implementing the “Big Boy” test he has also attempted to pee in the potty twice, started doing his own dishes, and tries to help with Dodge.  When he can’t help with Dodge he plays pretend with Muffin and acts out the role of parent.  Muffin recently found his way into the bath and is currently tumbling in the dryer out of sight.  Adding a brother to the mix will be beneficial to both children as they will fight, compete, love each other, and eventually learn to work as a unified force in defeating Mommy and Daddy and getting into trouble beyond my wildest nightmares.  For now…we are all in transition.  Kate and I are learning how to be parents of two while maintaining our identities as individuals, a couple, and professionals.  Max is learning how to be a big boy, a big brother, and not the center of attention.  Dodge is learning that the dark blurry shape in front of him is Dada.  So long freedom!!!

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Max Meets Dodge

3 Mar

All questions as to if Max understood we were having a baby have been answered…he gets it. He’s met Dodge twice and is quick to point out, “that’s the baby.” We explained his name is Dodge and Max calls him “baby Dodge.” He knows to be quiet around him, wash his hands, loves touching his soft hair, and kisses him on the head every chance he has. Today we bring Dodge home and I’m excited to start our lives as a family at last!


My boys

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