Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Dear Sonshine

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Dear Sonshine Academy, 

Last week our 5 year old daughter graduated from you. Today is her last day to be a student with you. She is no longer a Pre-K'er.

(Sidenote: Whoa.)

Yes, our oldest daughter is growing up and let me tell you, we're not sad about this at all. Nope. Not at all. Not in the least. And if you believe this, I also have some ocean front property in Arizona you might be interested in.

Norah was thrilled about this picture too. Promise. 

It feels like the time she spent with you guys zoomed by at light speed. I mean just absolutely flew. The craziest part of it all: Maddie was only a student there one full school year, even though it feels like it was so very much longer. But man, the growing up that we all did during that school year there was unreal. The tender care you guys gave to not just Maddie but both our daughters, and the encouragement and support all the time is something we will never forget.

We came to you guys last August a little worried, a little apprehensive, a little tentative considering some of the issues we had been through with the last school Maddie attended. But all those fears quickly subsided and the amount of growth and progress she's shown in the year we spent with you frankly brings tears to our eyes. 

We know there were plenty of times along the way where things maybe seemed like a bit much for her to handle and Maddie decided she'd rather sit this one out. Animals she didn't want to pet or see. Big noisy firetrucks. And yeah, maybe she was the only one who didn't want to wear her mortarboard during graduation last week. But you guys never forced her to do something she didn't want and loved on her anyway. For the awesome little kid that she is. And we can't tell you how much that means to us.

So thanks to you, Sonshine Academy. Thank you, Mrs. Nan. For reasons we don't understand and probably never will, but the compassion you've shown Maddie has been a game changer. Thank you Sarah and Carolyn, for all your hard work this school year and the gospel-centered love you've shown to our big kid.

Thank you for causing two parents with so many anxieties about a 5-year old like ours to be able to breathe a little bit, if only for five hours a day.

Please know you will always have a special place with us. Always.

Monday, October 10, 2016

What Ranger Baseball Means To Me

Image result for texas rangers lose blue jays

You all will have to grant me a little levity for this rather 4th grade book report title sounding blog post, but it's the morning after another particularly soul-crushing loss by your Texas Rangers and I feel the need to vent a little bit. 

Before we get into all that: Hey! How's it going? Long time no see, huh? We've been pretty busy with new jobs and t-ball games now and just generally watching our children grow up before our very eyes. So, you know, normal stuff. 

But I chose this subject matter today because often times I think back to an earlier point in my life as a sports fan, where I miss the days of not caring whether my team made it to the playoffs. I didn't care about things like winning the division or clinching home field advantage throughout the playoffs - all I cared about was whether we won or lost that day. Each day was like a little miniature Game 7 of the World Series to me. 

Then there are times when I reminisce about not caring about sports at all. When all that mattered to me was how long I would have to sit in the backseat of my parents light blue Oldsmobile 98 listening to Christopher Cross sing "Sailling" while on my way to swim lessons. 

There were two times in my life both of those feelings reached peak emotional levels at the same time for me: One was in Game 6, 2011 World Series, and the other was last night. The only reason last year's ALDS exit at the hand of the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista isn't also a part of that list is that I was at work at the time and was distracted by my job thankfully.

But last night....

I'm not so much sad over losing, because with the way that series had gone if the game remained tied into extra innings it was almost a foregone conclusion for me. But the way that team played, and lost - badly - is what really sticks in my craw. Best record in the American League? Didn't mean squat. Home fiend advantage? Didn't mean squat. Didn't feel like squat either what with two home games in the middle of the day at home that nobody cared about or watched on television because they were in the middle of the day.

What it did mean was that our pitching, and our hitting, both failed us at the absolute worst time. Sure there were red flags up about the shortcomings of our pitching all throughout the month of September, but the offensive disappearance was pretty ugly and deflating at the same time. If you had to pick an MVP of a series that you lost, it'd probably be Alex Claudio. Or maybe Matt Bush for basically telling the rest of the team last night, "hey since the rest of you guys can't pitch worth a crap just leave this to me."

So there it goes. Like a floater in the toilet bowl, another season flushed down the drain. 

And really, as much as I have just ranted and raved about what this season means to me, I think Mel and I would both agree that we're more sad for our 3-year old who had to wake up this morning to the news that there's no more Rangers to watch this year. No more going to the ballpark. No more Ian Desmond (her favorite). She probably doesn't understand all that right now. Plus we can still watch other games or MLB Network as much as we want to or will let her. But until next April, it's all over for her and for us. 

There's a guy I follow on Twitter for TCU related sports tweets who is a big Red Sox fan, and I think it's the 2004 World Series he's made mention of going in and waking his son or daughter up to watch the final out. This is something that I've dreamed about being able to do with our girls one day and how it would play out. Would I run in screaming like a mad man? Would I sneak in quietly and just kind of scoop them up out of bed and carry them out to the TV half asleep? 

Would they be 21 and in college, wanting to know why their Dad was calling to bug them so late because they're busy hanging out with their way cooler friends? 

Who knows.

But for now, it'll have to wait. Again.

Friday, May 20, 2016

that post where I'm emotional about The Ballpark

I'd be naive to think this was never going to happen.  I knew it would come at some point.  But I really didn't think it would happen so soon.  Gut reaction is I'm sad.  I know the new park will be all new and cool and "oh hey man, there's a roof and AC and everything."  But to borrow a page from my 3 year old's handbook "noooooooo, I don't wanna!"   

Ok, sure.  Some of you are telling me to grow up, and deal with it.  It's just a Ballpark.  But you see, to me, it's not just a ballpark.  It's the spot where ten years ago, I first met my husband.  Poof - blown up.  It's the place where we had our wedding reception.  Poof - blown up.  It's the park where I met some incredible people.  It's where my kids, especially my oldest, developed a passion and love for the game that I dare say rivals almost any other 3 year old out there - it's where she even had her birthday party a month ago. I know there will be new memories and milestones and traditions created somewhere a few hundred yards to the southwest.  But my gut reaction is I'm sad.  And don't tell me I'm not allowed to be.

October 2008
March 21, 2009
opening day 2010

October 2010

my sporty parental units

sports sally
me being the bet Aunt ever, September 2011

39 weeks pregnant with Madeline

Madeline's first game June 15, 2013

Norah's first game May 2, 2015

my people
Fan Fest January 23, 2016

Opening Day - April 6, 2016

and I mean, this happened at the Ballpark - May 15, 2016

Sunday, April 10, 2016


This was originally supposed to be posted on Norah's first birthday, which was like three weeks ago now. Unfortunately, life kind of happened and we got busy. So with today being National Siblings Day and all that jazz, I figured now would be as good a time as any. Better late than never, right?

It was the middle of March 2015.

Mel was pregnant. Very pregnant. And we were getting antsy. Her due date had come and gone without any kind of great fanfare. At one point Mel's doctor changed the due date by like three days. He still didn't think this would be that late an arrival for baby number two, and from knowing what we know about how childbirth goes the second time around, I wouldn't say we were overly concerned about how long things were taking. So we went ahead and packed up some hospital bags so that way as soon as things started to happen, we'd be ready to go.

And then, we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited

And waited some more.

And some more.

And then waited some more after that. Five days later, still no baby.

And then at about 10 PM (Editor's note: I'm sure as the years go on the time and weather conditions for this tale will alter dramatically. By 2030 it may be almost midnight in the middle of a hurricane) on the night of March 20th, Mel started having contractions. Yes! It's time. We woke Maddie up, dropped her off at my parents, and knowing this would be one of the last meals we would eat outside of a hospital room for a little while, did what all married couples on the way to the hospital to have a baby do and stopped to get some Whataburger. It was delicious, I'd be lying if I didn't say that the fact that we would be welcoming a brand new baby girl into our arms soon made it taste that much better.

Then we got to the hospital. This is where the fun begins.

Our regular doctor was not on call this particular weekend, and since Mel wasn't dilated enough yet to to start doing some pushing or anything - guess what? More waiting. All the while the contractions she was suffering through were getting closer and closer together.

But, nope.

Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Do not get a baby.

Before I go any further, I should issue a brief side commentary about things at this point: As you can imagine, this sucked. Like this really, really sucked. This really sucked for both of us, but mainly for Mel. I'm not even exaggerating anything by telling you that I've never felt a more terrible amount of sympathy for a human being than I did for her that night, in that examination room, waiting for something - anything - to happen.

Now, it's after midnight. And we're both tired. Tired of nothing happening, tired of looking around at the same stupid room we've been in for awhile now, tired of the clock on the wall seeming to tick by slower.......and slower.........and.........slow........er......with every second.

Finally, after calling the on-call doctor for the weekend and conferring, a nurse finally came in sometime after 2 o'clock in the morning to tell us "sorry, there's nothing we can do for you tonight" and sent us home.


Just like that. Welp, see ya later.

On what I like to refer to as the "Drive Of Shame" on the way home, we needlessly stopped at a Walmart in the wee hours of the morning looking for some pain relieving medication in hopes it might ease some of Mel's pain. Yeah that didn't work out too well.

Back at home now, tired and angry and over emotional about the world, we both tried to find some way to get some sleep. More importantly, Mel had to find a way to get some rest with contractions occurring every two minutes.

Then finally, at about 6 AM the following morning we both decided, screw this crap. We're going back to that dang hospital and pushing out a baby. Today.

Thankfully, at this point all systems were go, and in early afternoon - we were blessed with this tiny little bundle of joy you see below:

So uh, hey we have two kids now! Both of them technically toddlers! How is this possible?

Its been said that going from a one child to a two child house causes you to change your defensive alignment: You go from a zone defense to man to man. This is very true in our case, although with the schedules we both have at times it's hard to even play a solid defense when Maddie and Norah are at their worst best and one of us are not.

A day with both of these girls up and on the go can be..........I don't know.......you pick an adjective. Exhausting. Frustrating. Hilarious? Yes, all of the above. But one of the biggest joys we get in life is from watching these two little girls learn, play, laugh, and grow up together.

Happy belated birthday, little girl. You are such a blessing to all of our lives.

Monday, February 22, 2016

That's The Way Potty Training Go

Say, is that my old pal John? 


Well I'll be! How ya doin' old chap? 


How was your Christmas? Did you have a nice holiday? 


Whaddya think about this weather? Been a pretty mild winter so far, dontcha think?

Um, yep.

So what's new? Read any good books lately? 

Stop it.

How about this election? Trump or Cruz? Bernie Sanders and Hilary? Boy, oh boy!

I said, stop.

So by now you're probably wondering, "Hey John, where ya been all this time?" Well the short answer to that is life. Life is where we've been. I still work odd hours, Mel has her hours at the salon, and when we're not parenting and our house is actually quiet it's nice to just plop down on the couch and forget about everything, let alone updating a blog. Maybe watch a little Netflix. Right now, we're on Mad Men. Did you know there were 3,000,000,000 people in the world in 1960 and according to this show approximately 2,995,000,000 of them smoked. That's the highlight I've taken out of this show so far.

Anyway, I digress.

Recently, we had decided it was time to start potty training with Maddie. We'd been receiving reports that she's been staying pretty dry in her diapers at school throughout most of the day, and after doing research on a particular method which involves a hardcore three-day regiment of strict potty training - we decided to give it a shot. This was not without its trials right from the get-go, however, as Maddie was dealt a pretty nasty case of pink eye and an equally annoying yet somewhat less unsightly ear infection at the same time. Turned out it wasn't really that much of a factor as far as effectiveness for the potty training aspect of it goes, but boy there were times when we had to tread lightly and struggle to keep disease from spreading around like wildfire.

Let's begin.

Day 1: Much of what we've read said in the first day of this three day period you should expect a lot of accidents. In anticipation of this, we loaded the house down with cleaning supplies, wipes, paper towels, and also Lysol to avoid any outbreaks of the aforementioned pink eye malady. We had potty seats on both toilets, upstairs and downstairs, and a portable seat in case of a sneak attack bladder evacuation while watching television or while we were outside. Mel also came prepared, and we were fully stocked with at least 20 pairs of panties stocked and ready to go.

We got Maddie up and started the day with her as we would any other, but made a bigger deal this time around when we took off her diaper and put on some big girl panties instead. I think there was even a ceremonial reading of this book, which has quickly skyrocketed to the top of her own personal Amazon Best Seller list. We then sat her on the toilet and gave her specific instructions to let Mommy or Daddy know when she had to go potty. I don't remember if she went or not that first time, but it was a bit of a struggle getting her to do so as you would imagine.

The first success of the day occurred later in the afternoon after I had left for work. It came complete with letting Mel know a pee was about to happen, escorting her to the bathroom, and doing the deed on the potty (followed by a token of our appreciation for being a big girl and doing a good job - one Nutter Butter). I wasn't around but I'm pretty sure there were trumpets and at least one verse of the Hallelujah Chorus that broke out.

Day 2: The day, as I recall, went mostly smooth. We did have a few accidents - one of which involved me stepping out of the room to get something leaving a dry Maddie by herself with some toys for a moment, and then returning to said room only to find a Lake Michigan of urine forming on the floor.

Still, it did start to noticeably get better as the day went on. Even though Maddie was still trying to get the hang of letting us know when she needed to go before it got too late, when we did stick her on the toilet it was beginning to flow a lot smoother than it had the day before.

(Editors note: Stop. No more potty jokes.)

Day 3: By day number three, a Sunday, we were a lot less apprehensive about Maddie sans diaper. To reward her for the hard work she had put in up to this point, and because it was practically 90 degrees in January, we let her run around with the hose in the backyard in her bathing suit. We still instructed her to tell us when she needed to go, but obviously weren't as concerned about it if she did.

I think we may have still had at least one accident this day, but by this point it was just one of those things. It wasn't until a week later that Maddie had her first accident of the #2 variety, and it was a messy one. Gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelet, and all that good stuff.

And so, here we are 3.5 weeks later or so, feeling pretty good about things. Maddie's gotten much better about telling us when she needs to go, although we still remind her all the time to let us (or Yiayia, or Oma, or her teacher, or someone of some level of authority who is or will be watching over her) know when she needs to use the potty.

Conclusion: The three day method of potty training definitely seems to have done its charm. I don't know how many other rigorous, clandestine methods of training there are for this sort of thing but if there are any parents who have yet to cross this bridge in the life of their child and are looking for suggestions of things to try and help them along (sidenote: You're a fool. I would feed my child cereal every day if I could. Why are you reading one of my blog posts. Go look at something else my wife posted and stuff.) I'll post the links to the references we used below.

“It’s been said that adults spend the first two years of their children’s lives trying to make them walk and talk, and the next sixteen years trying to get them to sit down and shut up. It’s the same way with potty training: Most adults spend the first few years of a child’s life cheerfully discussing pee and poopies, and how important it is to learn to put your pee-pee and poo-poo in the potty like big people do. 
But once children have mastered the art of toilet training, they are immediately forbidden to ever talk about poop, pee, toilets and other bathroom-related subjects again. Such things are now considered rude and vulgar, and are no longer rewarded with praise and cookies and juice boxes. 
One day you’re a superstar because you pooped in the toilet like a big boy, and the next day you’re sitting in the principal’s office because you said the word “poopy” in American History class (which, if you ask me, is the perfect place to say that word).” 

― Dav Pilkey, Captain Underpants And The Preposterous Plight Of The Purple Potty People

Hopping The Potty Train: The 3 Day Method / PB&J Babes Link
How To Potty Train Your Toddler In Three Days / Project Potty Training Link

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Moving on

Mel and I, we like where we've been living. It's been fun. Not "a Saturday at Six Flags where there's no lines and you can ride every ride as many times as you want" kind of fun, but more like a "opening up a pack of baseball cards and out of the 20 of them inside the pack 19 of them are worthless but one of them is a Mike Trout rookie card." kind of fun. Did that even make sense? No? Okay.

Anyway, somewhere along the line we had decided we would like to move out of our house before Maddie is elementary school age. It's not that the area is terrrrrrrrible, and no offense to any educators in the Arlington school district because I'm very certain you all do a fabulous job molding the minds of the youth of America. But, we really wanted to move to an area with better schools.

Then we heard about what we could potentially get for selling, and decided to strike while the preverbal iron was hot. And that's where we are today. We close on this house, the first house we've ever lived in, on Monday. We're moving out of here sometime next week.

It hasn't been without its fair share of stress and drama and all that comes with the territory of selling a house. Getting a brand new roof, among other things, has a tendency to do that to a person. But we know that a house is simply a house, and it doesn't make a difference if it's your first, your last, or anywhere in-between. "Home is where the heart is" and all that jazz - the only true home should, and always will be, the one we all are anticipating getting to one day when we leave our earthly bodies behind.

But that being said, I've gotten pretty sentimental lately thinking about some of the memories we've made here, first and foremost with our two beautiful daughters we brought home from the hospital.

(Sidenote: Good Lord we both look tired in this picture.)

(Another sidenote: Sorry for you being completely blinded in this pic, Maddie.)

We didn't get any pics taken outside of the house when Norah was brought home, but I remember the days in complete contrast to one another. A grey, overcast day thanks to a cold front blowing through the day before on the day Maddie came home, and a bright, sunny and warm early afternoon when Norah got here.

Other things/moments that I will miss about our house:

- Having easy access to the park. A quick 5 minute stroll through our neighborhood would spit us out inside the park right on the trail. It also caused a plethora of wildlife to migrate into our neighborhood from time to time, including but not limited to turtles, raccoons, possums, armadillo, turkeys, bobcats, and coyotes. None of our dogs were ever maimed by any of these things, thank goodness, although Lacy did try to eat a grasshopper once.

- Having easy access to the Ballpark. Leaving games after the final out (which we don't really get to do anymore anyway) and making it home 10 minutes later. And Sunday afternoon nap time when there's a home game just won't be the same.

While we're on the subject of the great game (I told you we like baseball in this family, didn't I. Well we do.) October 27th, 2011. I get nauseous just bringing up that date and may have just thrown up a little inside my mouth. Mel wasn't here for that game because she was in St. Louis at the scene of the crime (and is now subsequently scarred for life). I sat in a dark living room after the conclusion of that game, the warming glow of the television long since ceased, and pondered my existence. Not exactly one of the greatest moments to have ever occurred inside these walls.

Moving on.

- I will miss the quiet times. Obviously those are few and far between now. But in the sporadic occasions when it does happen on a Saturday when Mel's at work and both girls are asleep, and I don't feel like watching anything on TV, one of my favorite things to do is Keurig up some coffee, fire up Spotify (usually some kind of Neoclassical new-age, post-rock, minimal music like Balmorhea, Sigur Rós, or something like that), and relax on the couch by the window in our living room with nothing across the street except a big open field of park land. Just me and the planes taking off and landing not very far away.

- I will miss the aforementioned big, open field across the street from our house. It wasn't really great and usually got all filled up with weeds until the city came every once in a while and mowed it all over, so I'm sure that completely wrecked people with allergies. But it was fun because it was just that - a big open field that we would stare out at from our driveway, and not another house. I'm not sure how much getting used to that will take. 

- I will miss our front porch with its ample space for two rocking chairs, which admittedly I wish I had spent more time just sitting in watching it rain, hail, sleet, snow.......anything. 

I could go on and on about this, and honestly things would be a lot tougher if we were moving somewhere much further away. Out of state or something. But we'll still be in the area somewhere, which makes things a little easier. But it's hard to not look back on this place we've lived in even if it's just been for a short amount of time and get sentimental about it. 

We'll miss you, Hinsdale Drive. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015


So it has come to my attention numerous times that I haven't blogged about anything in awhile. For that I owe you, the reader, my sincerest apologies. Truth be told we've been kind of busy...I work sort of weird hours now that give me free mornings to be a Dad and do whatever I want or need to around the house, and then after going to work in the afternoon and coming home at night all I really want to do is go to sleep. Occasionally that occurs after watching sports or an episode from a past season of 24 which we have been getting caught up on thanks to our local library. 

Where was I? Oh right, the main part of this all. We have two kids now. 

Meet Norah Rebecca Vittas. 

Norah was born on a Saturday, March the 21st, after one hellacious night of going to the hospital and sitting around for awhile before ultimately being sent back home because she just wasn't ready to come out, and then enduring what seemed like the longest 20 minute drive in the history of the world to get back home only to return to the hospital the following morning with one very pregnant wife in a boat load of pain. Seriously you guys, there was so much cursing. Such a large amount in fact that I almost considered saying something to Mel in an effort to calm her down. I quickly decided that would most likely not be in my best interest to do so for fear of her getting up out of her hospital bed, IV's and everything, and punching me through a wall. But she made it. I love her, and I'm very proud of her for enduring that and giving me one more beautiful daughter. 

Maddie got to meet her new little sister the following day up at the hospital. Her initial reaction could best be summarized with a simple "Meh." Not really that interested at all. But since that first week Norah has grown on her in a very big way, and now Maddie's always trying to give her kisses, feel the tiny baby hairs on her head, and just stare at amusement at this new little person. Lately she's started "helping" Mel out by handing us her empty bottle to put in the sink and such. 

"Oh, watch out for Maddie!" you say. "She's going to get so jealous!" you say. Although Maddie can be a stubborn little toddler at times and it's definitely a possibility of happening, we've also been blessed to have a very affectionate and loving kid, so if she's going to get all jealous on us hopefully it's only because she hasn't gotten a chance to hug and kiss her sister enough. 

Which brings me to my next subject: The hearing test. We tried to not make finding out what the results of Norah's test would be a big deal, and I think for the most part we accomplished that. Seeing how Maddie has been doing learning to overcome her hearing impairment has been insightful for us, and also gave us a little sense of knowing what to expect with that sort of thing. So I can't really say we would have been ready for anything, but we kind of were preparing ourselves to be. 

So Norah failed her first test. Okay, fine. Tomorrow is another day and all that. Sometimes newborns fail their first hearing test and it ends up being nothing. Of course, Maddie also failed her first test and we all know how that turned out. But then, Norah passed her second test with flying colors. Our first reaction upon hearing this news was gladness and maybe a bit of relief. But after the nurse exited the room, that's when the gravity and realness of the moment hit us. Mel and I cried and cried, because we felt so horrible being happy that Norah was able to pass her test while her sister isn't so lucky. We felt horrible, but we both know it's just the first of many circumstances like this we'll all have to get through together as a family - and I know we will. 

One last thing, because I know I have some family member out there wondering: No, we haven't taken Norah to her first game yet. 

We love you, Norah. Maddie's little sister. Our little daughter.