dad life part 2.

Larkyn SmileIn my last post I was really honest with what we are going through as a family but I feel like I made it sound like our lives are nothing but struggle and we have no fun around here. Let me just say, the days can be long and hard but our family still is having fun. Not the same kind of fun we had when it was just MaK and I, or just MaK, Maebyn, and I, but it’s still been a great time of life. So, with that said, I thought I’d share the brighter side of what three kids just one year a part is like.

After we got the diagnoses that the twins had TTTS our lives shifted in a dramatic way and it hasn’t been the same since. MaK and I really relished the time we had before the twins got here because we knew we’d be confined to our house for an unforeseen amount of time after they arrived. With having 2-4 doctors appointments a week and a one year old, our time was still limited in what we could do but we decided we were going to go out to eat while we still had the opportunity. We frequent Mexican restaurants and one time while walking into one of our favorite Mexican joints a woman stopped us (as was the usual with MaK’s huge belly and a not-quite-one-year-old). She asked us what we were having, how old was Maebyn, are you guys nuts, and this that and the other. Upon finding out that we were having twin girls, the elderly woman stopped talking leaned into me and said “Ya know, it takes a real man to blast the balls off.” I was honored by the comment but thought if she only knew I actually wanted to keep the balls on.

Mom and GirlsAnother thing that has been fun to see is how Maebyn has assumed her role as the second mother in the family. If one of the twins is crying, she’s right there with a paci, blanket, or bottle. She may not know how to use them or where exactly they should go but she knows one of those three things usually stops the crying. She already loves her sisters very much. Any time she can get to them, she wants to kiss them and hold them.  She does most things in series of two. Someone’s crying? Two paci’s are needed. If we’re blessed with another child and only one shows up next time, we’re gonna have some serious explaining to do. Also, she got two baby dolls for her birthday and all day long she carries one or both of her babies around saying “baby, baby” all the while rocking, burping, and pushing them around in her shopping cart. We love seeing how Maebyn has adjusted to the craziness of our life and how she already loves her sisters at such a young age.

cousinsAnother perk to being outnumbered by babies is the response we get when we’re out and about as a family. We went to Chipotle last week and not only did the cashier insist on carrying our food to the table but when we looked around the restaurant for a high chair and all were conveniently being used, a sweet family immediately lifted their little boy out of the high chair and brought it to me. The husband gave me a pat on the back and said “you guys need this way more than we do”. It sometimes feels like there must be a huge “HELP!” sign on my back when I take the girls out judging by the response I get.

We are finally starting to enjoy being a family of five. Yes, our lives are much different and mostly about our kids, but the joy that has come from having children and being parents is unmatched to the struggle. It’s taken 2 months to get out of the haze of bringing home 2 tiny babies but seeing them smile, snuggle each other, and get kisses from her sister have started to ease the daily frustrations. MaK and I both want a big family and are thankful for the three kids that the Lord has blessed our family with.

– Ross

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Thoughts on faith

Ross_Maebyn_8monthsI’ve talked a lot about trying to increase our family’s faith in the last couple of posts and since I can’t think of anything else to write about I’m going to ramble on more about faith. Why? Well, the reason I started this blog was to record in some way our families story. My hope is that over the next couple days, weeks, months I can look back on this post and see areas where our faith has grown and areas where we still need to have more faith. It’s a good way to remember along the journey.

Even now, it’s funny to look back 5 months when I first started writing and see where a seemingly simple decision to trust God with conception has landed us in a place where we will have three girls in less than a year. I’m still amazed by this and if children are a blessing, we have been richly blessed this year. Although I have been humbled by this blessing, I’m tempted everyday to stare into the details of life and become overwhelmed. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times… I hate not being in control. If I look back on my life, I have some pretty strong examples that I’ve never really been in control in the first place but feeling out of control starts to grip me with fear. If I’m really honest, the root of my fear rests in the fact that at the core of me I don’t want to trust God. It’s too scary. Too risky. I don’t trust that He is good and that He is trying to train me up in His ways. I’ve had the tendency to look upon my circumstances with fear and that has downward spiraled me into some of the hardest years of my life.

I’ve always viewed faith like this – Sure, God, I’ll take a leap of faith, now God please lead me into a place of comfort and security. I see how God has honored my steps of faith but it hasn’t always led me into a place of comfort. Actually, the opposite has often been the case. I’ve often taken the lack of comfort not as an opportunity to walk in increased faith but more as a punishment for something good I was trying to do. It’s caused me to doubt and question my decisions that I knew where right and wish I had chosen the latter. And interestingly enough, years (sometimes months) down the road I can look back and see why the landing place that seemed comfort-free was exactly what my heart needed. Need examples? OK, here we go…

When I got married about five years ago, MaKenzie and I decided to live in Cincinnati. I took a job as an insurance provider and she found a job at a publishing company. Long story short, she’s found nothing but success in her career thereafter and I found nothing but failure.  For years I was mad at God. I walked in faith moving down to Cincinnati. I knew this is where He wanted us to live, so why was this happening? I started to doubt Gods plan for me in Cincinnati. I thought to myself, our family should have moved to Michigan where my dad could have helped me find a job and then things would have been better for ME. This lasted for about 3 years. It was not fun and I was not the best husband I could have been. The story revolved around me and since I hadn’t found “my calling” just yet, I was unhappy. Not a fun way to live.

A lot has changed in me over the past couple of months and a lot of that has to do with my new found title of Stay at Home Dad. However, the biggest change has been one of perspective. If I’m the center of the story then all these things I’ve discussed previously in this blog culminate into me being one gigantic failure and that’s tough to live with. However, if God is the center of the story then all these circumstances are ones in which He was trying to train, teach, and disciple me for His good purposes. This has brought me and my family so much freedom. What I’ve learned about faith is its not about taking huge leaps into the unknown hoping to come out into a place of comfort but rather willingly walking in the unknown and trusting that the Lord will train, teach, and disciple your hearts so that you can dive deeper into knowing He’s in control.

Ross

Chef R.A.D.

FEED ME. Seriously... like now, dad.

FEED ME. Seriously… like… now, dad.

A new responsibility that I have assumed as a stay at home dad is making the babies food. This task is usually reserved for Mondays. Maebyn and I go to Kroger, I talk to her in The Grocery Voice, a fan-favorite that sounds something like Arnold Schwarzenegger meets Count Dracula. I’m not sure how it got started but the grocery voice is a ritual that neither of us are willing to give up (I’m sure she’ll feel the same way when she’s twelve). We peruse the aisles together, she smiles at me and tells me what kinds of food she wants – I mainly buy fruit because that’s my personal favorite. We actually got in a fight today cuz she was hell-bent on sushi but it just wasn’t happening, Kroger’s supply was less than impressive. I’m trying to incorporate vegetables but it’s hard, because I HATE vegetables and for some reason it makes me think she does too. MaKenzie laughs at me because I truly feel guilty feeding her veggies, just the other day I tried to throw out some asparagus I made because the guilt was almost unbearable. As for Maebyn, her favorite foods (to-date) are avocado, mangos, apples, pears, bananas, and basically anything sweet. She gets this from her mothers insane obsession with candy I think.

When I first started making food for Maebyn it was fun. Now it’s more of a necessary task than fun. I like feeding her food, it just takes so much time and to be honest I’m excited for the day I can set food down and she can feed herself. I have a tough enough time eating balanced meals for myself, and feeding her a nice balanced nutritious meal can be overwhelming. She’s not a fussy eater and eats everything I’ve given her so far so I really have no complaints. The only problem is – man is the girl needy. I have to scoop every bite of food into her mouth, clean her face after every bite, and repeat the process until she’s full. I mean come on, learn to do some things on your own, Maebyn, you’re seven months old for cryin’ out loud.

Today, we made mangos, mixed with apples and carrots. I thought the concoction tasted quite good and so did she. She polished off about a jar and a half of the stuff and didn’t spit out any of it. This is an accomplishment too because she recently discovered that she can spit the food all over her face and that it’s quite fun to make messes. She’s also discovered that the dog is standing by at all times, willing and ready to take any food off her hands (or face, toes, neck…).

Maebyn is seven months old today and seeing her growth and development over the past couple months has been our joy. Simple things like learning to eat has been fun to witness. She changes everyday and the only thing I keep thinking is, time is going by too fast.

I’m in the market for new recipes so if you have a favorite, leave a comment below and let me know about it. I’m always down for trying new things and I think my baby-food-creativity has hit a wall.

Ross

Me First, Please

Maebyn's been working on her selfishness this week too. Starting with her obsessive headband collection.

Maebyn’s been working on her selfishness this week too. Starting with her obsessive headband collection.

Staying at home with my daughter and just being a parent in general has brought a lot of things to light in my life. I think I’ve mentioned it before but I’m still coming to terms with how selfish I can be. I can blame some of my selfishness on our culture, some to human nature, but most just falls on the fact that most of us at the core of who we are believe we are the most important. We believe a story that focuses around us and our needs. My dad use to remind me of the profound idea that “the universe doesn’t center around me” or, my personal favorite, “it must be a burden knowing everything.” Although I didn’t appreciate it then, I actually see that on some level during some circumstances, I actually believed these ideas and I still do even today. Hey, I’m working on it.

I’ve seen these things play out in my marriage with uncomfortable regularity. My wife is very a very diligent hard worker. She’s worked for everything and is careful with our money. I have repeatedly given her a hard time when she wants to buy things and have heaped burdens onto her for wanting certain things that I may not deem necessary. I, on the other hand, have no trouble spending money on myself, it’s actually quite easy. And I’m fairly good at it. I’ve found it’s so much easier to worry about my needs rather than elevating someone else’s above my own. I see this tendency revealed even in doing simple chores. Most of the things I do, I expect something in return. Even if its a simple thank you (or a national parade, letter from the President – I’m not picky), I’m still looking for my own self to be recognized for the things I do for others and when that’s not the outcome, I feel wronged.

What I want to strive for is doing for others just because that is what I feel the Lord leading me to do. No expectations, no need for repayment, and definitely no national parade in celebration of my feats. I’ve bought into the lie that relationships are entered into when there is something that can benefit me. I want to be someone that freely enters into relationships with people where I may not gain or receive anything and be OK with it. We all need each other and if we are only interested in our own personal gains than how can we can truly be a blessing to anyone?

The reason for this post is that ever since I started this blog random people have been asking me to mention, promote, or partner with their businesses. Obviously, my audience is pretty limited and not really that focused so I haven’t known how to respond to them. I haven’t even concocted a plan on how I could benefit from doing it, so I’m not sure how they will either. Regardless of all that, I’ve felt compelled to at least try and help those who ask for my little assistance. Paul Serra, the owner of the domain CustomOnIt.com, asked if I would mention his new website in the hopes of driving more traffic. They’re a young company, trying to gain some interest, with some pretty cool products (personalized sweatbands, anyone?). My first thought was, embarrassingly enough, what can I get out of this? I desperately don’t want this to be my mindset when someone asks for my help and that is why I’m asking you guys to check out his website. Paul is not giving me anything to write this post and I do not want anything in return. My hope is that some of you check out his site and maybe even use his services.

My wife and I had a long talk last night about what it really means to change the course of your life/lifestyle/family and how (pretty much always) these tasks seem way too big to undertake. We overwhelm ourselves with the “how”, “when” and “what” questions – thinking that we need to come to some epiphany that will propel us into endless action of “right doings”. False. At least that’s how we feel. More often then not, it’s making one right decision in hopes that it propels a bigger goal or purpose. My father-in-law always says “Just do the next right thing”.

Conquering selfishness isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but today a new friend gets a free plug. Best of luck, Paul. I wish I would have found CustomOnIt.com back in my competitive intramural dodgeball days. We totally would have had custom “Man Candy” sweat headbands.

Till next time,

Ross

To my baby momma

galsBeing a stay at home dad or parent has its perks. My days are wide open and there is not much you can’t do with just one kid. Maebyn and I go to Lowes, the gym, the grocery store, and install closet doors together. She’s my little helpmate and wherever I go there she is also. I’m never alone anymore if MaKenzie is gone, and although it has its challenges, I’ve really enjoyed spending the days with her. She’s enthralled with me and everything I do now, I can tell she’s watching. Plus, who doesn’t love having their personal little smile-machine along for the ride everyday?

In the past few weeks something has been weighing on my mind. Is Maebyn getting the best of me? I’d say for the most part, she is. I’m not perfect but the majority of my day is spent serving her needs… but is that really the best of me? I first realized how selfish I inherently was when I got married. Putting someone else’s needs before mine… now that’s a struggle. I’m sorry MaK, you know as well as I do, this isn’t something that came naturally to me. My wife MaKenzie is my best friend but I can still so easily chose myself before her. Then I became a parent and I really realized that deep down inside I am very selfish. My desires, my wantings, and some of my needs have been forced to come second to the little one’s. As any parent knows, this is not always easy. You want to sleep more, have a quiet meal, and go on dates at the drop of a hat. However, my days are spent trying to give Maebyn the best that I have. It’s my responsibility not only as her father but as her primary caretaker everyday.

My wife however, is forced to expel most of her energy at work. She is a hard worker and has a great job but as any parent that works 40+ hours a week knows.. it’s exhausting. It’s especially hard to come home and have to parent, be a friend, daughter, entrepreneur, sister and wife on top of it all. She is an amazing selfless wife and without her our family would be lost. She is a rock solid woman and I am so lucky to be her husband. Not a day goes by that I am not so thankful for her. I may not always show it but I feel blessed to be married to her. I am proud of her and the mother that she is. Although many may not realize the sacrifices that she makes for our family, I do. So I say thank you, MaKenzie. You are an amazing wife, mother, daughter and friend. Anyone who knows you is blessed.

Your husband and best pal,

Ross

Friends helping friends, helping friends….

Being a stay at home dad has a few perks, I guess. One being that every day seems to look completely different than the day before, seems like that’s the life of a stay at home parent in general. The crazy chaos has a way of surprising you in unexpected ways, a nice twist to the mundane 9-5. I spent the majority of the day Friday with one of my best friends and mentor Mike Zimmermann. He had an apartment that he needed to get ready for a prospective renter and I tried my best to act like I enjoyed painting. I love working on home repairs and miscellaneous things around the house but I always try and push the painting off on my wife. I’m sorry, it’s just the truth. Although I was painting all day, I had a great day. I love spending time with my friends. MaKenzie and I don’t have a ton of friends together as a couple, but the few families that are in our lives we love very deeply and feel like God has very intentionally put them in our path.

I wish you could get paid for being a professional friend. Money, time, and overall responsibilities get in the way of one of the things we are called to do… LIVE IN COMMUNITY. I feel like if one of my friends families succeeds then I succeed, and if one of them hurts then I hurt. Jordan Stone, another one of my close friends, has said that friends/ families showing this kind of love for one another is what The Lord intended the church to look like. This has always seemed like an insurmountable task to me, to love everyone in my church family with this kind of love. However, if I start with my friends and family it seems like a much more achievable task.

All in all, I think I came out of the day with an incredible appreciation and thankfulness for the family and friends MaKenzie and I have been blessed with. Hopefully through our relationships the world will see something that is compelling and different. To all our friends and family, we love you very much. Thank you for all you do for us!!

To wrap this post up I think I’ll part again with the wise words of Clark Griswald… “The most enduring traditions of the season are best enjoyed in the warm embrace of kith and kin.”

With love,

Ross