I guess I only do these things in years when Hailee is pregnant. It’s hard to believe the last time I did this was 2015. I remember thinking, I’m definitely going to do this every year. And I mean to… er meant to.
I’m back and it’s hard to believe it’s already the end of another turn around the sun. Feels like we just started. Not to be cliché, but I’m going to. The days are short, but the years are shorter. That’s how it goes for me anyway. Most of the time, I feel like I have no concept of how quickly the whirlwind of life is rushing by. I never had anxiety before having children and now it sort of quietly stirs and it’s mostly about my children getting older and me having zero control over it.
My therapist (yes, I have one, or should I say we since Hailee and I both see her together and separately. There seems to be a taboo around therapy, but part of why I tell you this is to help break that taboo. I think everyone should have someone who is independent of their family to talk to on a weekly or monthly basis. Otherwise, you’re just in an echo chamber of your own head and as we see from 45, that’s not a great place to be.) asked me if this quiet anxiety is really about my own mortality.
After some reflecting, I truly believe that has nothing to do with it. I don’t mind getting older. In fact, I kind of enjoy it. It’s nice being smarter, having more experience, earning more money. Physically I feel great so no concern there. Although Hailee said she did see a gray hair a few weeks ago. Not sure I believe her. Ok, let’s get on with it.
I suppose for consistency sake, I will follow the same format as I did in 2015.
The first highlight of 2018 was becoming Uncle Jake, Aunt Hailee, and cousin Harper and Hudson. Jayson and LeighAnn welcomed two of the most beautiful and lucky babies in the world.
Westley Penn and Evangeline Paige shared the womb for 9 months, arrived in February, and are now sharing their unique personalities with us. Harper and Hudson are obsessed (especially Harper) with the “Twin Pins” as Hudson calls them. It’s been a really awesome sight to watch Jayson and LeighAnn become parents as they are not only surviving with twins, but most definitely thriving.
The next highlight came shortly thereafter — our discovery of the impending addition of a third offspring. We decided this time we were going to find out the gender of the baby before the delivery room, which is what we did with Harper. We went yes, no, yes to the finding out the gender before birth thing. We didn’t plan it this way, it was just a gut feel each time and it worked for us. I’m glad to have experienced all ends of the spectrum, and even more excited to experience a little balance in my household with the addition of a baby boy. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my girls and fully believe I was meant to be a girl Dad first, but I do like the idea of having a little guy around.
We did a “gender reveal”, which was our first time doing this sort of thing. We gathered some close family and friends on the beach, made our predictions, drank a little champagne, and voila.
I was shocked. I had mentally prepared to have girls for every child I fathered until the end of the time. Although I knew this was my last regardless, so really just this one. But I was convinced the balloons were going to be pink. I’m still not sure it’s fully settled in this is a boy. I’m definitely one of those Dads that connects after the baby is born. I am looking forward to seeing what color hair he has. I picture dark hair and that he will be born on December 11th. I do wonder what sports he’s going to play (whichever ones I tell him to, damn it). I’m most excited to watch Hailee be a Boy Mom.
We are ready. The room is prepped. Now, we wait.
2018 marked the beginning of the 7th full year of gainful employment at Beachbody and was another transitionary year for both company and me. I moved from “digital marketing” into “production”, which is a bit more in line with what I was doing on a day to day basis, so in many ways the transition was more of a formality. It did remove some of the day to day tasks that I was less interested, so addition by subtraction in some ways. Most of my days involve some aspect of producing video or photography content for new fitness programs, nutritional supplements or doing the pre and/or post production around those shoots. It’s a big operation so I rarely see things through beginning to end, but when I do, it’s quite fun and quite rewarding.
On the side hustle front of things, Hailee and I continue to work doing freelance photography and video production for brands and private clients. Hailee leads a lot of the photography efforts and I do more of the video, but there’s a nice synergistic overlap. Some projects are more exciting than others. Some pay better than others. All of them teach me something new.
Perhaps the most interesting client of the year was a cryptocurrency trader named Luke that took me along to document his journey to South Africa and Dubai. From there, I met another Crypto Public Figure who I accompanied to San Francisco, Dallas, Miami, and Puerto Rico, but not in that order. At least I don’t think it was in that order. There was a time there where I was traveling a bit too much and it was wearing me thin, but the experience was good and I got to witness the rise and fall of crypto/bitcoin first hand. Fascinating. In Dubai we were having drinks on a rooftop with people who had almost literally become millionaires over night. Many of them had bought Ethereum and Bitcoin in its early stages and with the incredible run the market had in 2017, they were all sitting on a fat stack of internet money. How many of them cashed out and turned it into real money? I have no idea. But for a minute they were internet rich and the only destination was on the moon via a Lambo. Now they are heading to the local car wash in a Prius.
In March, my good friend Brent Chase Smith and I got to travel to Puerto Rico and film interviews for a documentary about the intersection of cryptocurrency and Hurricane Relief. Puerto Rico is beautiful and kind of a mess.
Okay, enough about work. On to the fun stuff, the kids!
Harper, like most of us, is certainly not one thing. She’s a participant in life in the most passionate and endearing ways. She got rave reviews during her first grade parent/teacher conference, which is fresh on my mind since it recently happened. She checked all of the “boxes” in reading, writing, spelling, math, numbers, etc – which is all well and good, but what we were most excited to hear was how she is genuinely a kind person. If there’s one thing I tell my kids, it’s that the most important thing you can do is be kind. To see that she’s taking that and applying it in the real world, makes me feel like we are possibly doing something right as parents. According to her teacher, she participates and always has something valuable to share (but not in the know it all way), she’s thoughtful and offers to get kids a pencil if they need one, she cares about how other people are feeling and has an awareness of the room that is unparalleled. This is not common for most 6 year olds. I couldn’t have been prouder.
Here are also some of the things we wrote about her earlier this year when we were introducing her to her 1st grade teacher:
“Harper has taken a theater/acting class, tap/ballet/hip-hop dance classes, did jujitsu for a few months, did a yoga camp over this past summer, and currently takes gymnastics once per week and hip-hop dance once per week. She doesn’t seem to gravitate to the “ball” sports just yet, but loves being active and learning new things. When things don’t come easily to her, or she’s not interested – like learning to ride a bike – she’ll get frustrated and give up fairly quickly. On the flip side, once she decides she wants to learn something and is passionate about it, she will give it her all. She’s very into playing with her friends and often takes charge of the group, giving each person a defined role. In school, she seems to appreciate being “good” and “listening to the rules”. We don’t always get the same level of appropriate behavior at homes, but for the most she’s a pretty amazing person to be around. She displays a strong level of empathy for someone her age. We’re a vegan family and she’s been raised with a love of animals and a kindness that even surprises us sometimes. We have two dogs, Jasmine and Asher, who have been around most of her life. She does like to get her way and if you give into her a little, she’ll take more, more, more, more. A good quality in some cases, but a frustrating one in others. She can have difficulty switching from one task to another, although that seems to be getting easier for her since she turned six.”
She checked off the milestone of ditching her training wheels on Thanksgiving day. Good timing because this Summer it’s going to be her turn to keep up with Dad when we ride to the beach. Baby JackJack* will be riding in the carriage with his sister.
I do have to say, since I’ve mentioned Harper’s teacher a few times, how impressed we are with her school. They do an excellent job of crafting well-rounded kids, with a focus on developing the whole child, teaching them social skills and important values, and of course doing the academic stuff, too. It’s important to me that my kids are challenged academically, but it’s even more important they’re challenged to be good people and it seems like we are getting that. I have high hopes for public school.
Hudson is most certainly at that age when I want to freeze her, squeeze her, and just put her in my pocket and take her everywhere. Pretty much everything she does is in some way cute, funny, or some combination and variation of those two things. Cute and funny people are kind of the best people to be around so that’s probably why I want to keep her.
Hudson is tough as nails and could would easily beat up her sister in a fight. If we put them in a ring and told them to duke it out, Harper would either be out cold or running for her life within the first 30 seconds. It’s a testament to both their personalities. Thankfully we haven’t had to do this because they love each other intensely. Hudson is always trying to keep up with her sister. It’s become one of the things I like to document with my camera – where she’s just a step behind or trying to climb up something that Harper can, but she’s not quite big enough. As a second/middle child myself, I have a kinship with Hudson. It’s fascinating to watch this dynamic of “keeping up” become part of her personality and shape her determination. I don’t have any doubts this girl will accomplish whatever she sets her mind to.
Hudson is also a bit of a Momma’s girl and still looks for Mommy when adversity strikes. In recent weeks, as JackJack is set to join us, her Mommyness is becoming even more pronounced. Perhaps a sign she knows Mommy’s attention is going to be diverted to the baby.
Both the girls are so excited to meet their baby Brother and Harper became 4/4 on her predictions of gender when she guessed correctly when Hailee was only about 2.5 months pregnant. See the evidence here.
Hudson is taking tap/ballet dance class and by that I mean she put on cute little outfits and runs around for about 50 minutes doing cute things. She’s also very proficient on the balance bike, which is a bike with no pedals. Apparently it helps kids learn balance before learning the actual pedaling. We didn’t have those when I was 3.
We haven’t started Hudson in any official school situation yet. She gets a lot more social exposure to kids being the 2nd, and is showing all of the proper developmental signs – you know like enjoying to play with figurines, hang out, climb all over things, and run everywhere she goes. I try to make it a point to just watch her, usually when she doesn’t know I’m watching, for like 30 seconds to a minute every day. Sometimes it works. Sometimes she catches me and asks what I’m looking at. It helps with the anxiety.
In May/June, Hailee was able to take a trip with her Aunt Kathy to Europe – I believe they hit England, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium. This was just a few weeks after we found out about baby 3, so it was a nice break from the norm and some quality travel time. By the end, she was very much missing her crew – which was nice to hear. I think we drive her a bit crazy sometimes, but you know how much something means to you when you can’t have it and even after just a few days she was having some serious FOMO.
Hailee is the queen of the ship ands keeps the train on the tracks. She prepares most of the meals, does most of the getting the kids where they need to be when they need to be there all the while managing numerous clients and projects, and growing a human. This often results in late nights or early mornings, sometimes both, but most of the time she makes it look easy.
As you may or may not have surmised, we didn’t EXACTLY plan this 3rd baby. We were open to a third, but when we found out, one of the first things Hailee said to me was, “I’m going to be pregnant bridesmaid. How cliché!” And it’s true. She was the Matron of Honor in her best friend Brittany’s wedding in Temecula. But she was a damn cute pregnant bridesmaid. Sometimes cliché is A-OK.
Speaking of being cute and pregnant, it’s been fun to observe Hailee during her final pregnancy. I think something about knowing this is her last has made her a bit more reflective on the process. She was able to craft a nursery for the first time and has done an amazing job converting our former guest room into a nursery/guest room that also happens to have Hudson’s clothes. Space is a premium in California.
As a family we took our first trip to Hawaii in September, right around Popsie’s birthday. We all had an absolute blast, but the girls were in heaven. The days were filled with swimming, snorkeling and looking for sea turtles, tater tots for lunch and dinner, paddle boarding, going headfirst down the slide one hundred times in a row, and watching the sunsets. Hudson also ditched her floaties and pretty much taught herself how to swim. She can’t be left unattended just yet, but she can go under, swim for a few strokes, and come up. Gramie and Popsie have a timeshare there so I think it’s something we will probably do every year, schedules permitting.
Hailee and I celebrated our third anniversary with a very “LA” night. It started with dinner at Matthew Kenney’s Plant Food & Wine in Venice. It is way fancier than our normal lives, but a great spot for an anniversary date. Abbot Kinney can be quite the scene. We followed that up with a Groundlings Halloween Improv show, which we were late for because it took 45 minutes to go 8 miles. While we were waiting we got ice cream and saw Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson, and Kurt Russell at the corner of Melrose and La Brea. I would’ve walked right by them, but Hailee noticed them. Her celebrity awareness is much higher than mine. Our dates are few and far between, but when we do get that solo time, it makes it that much sweeter.
South Bay Crew
I can’t open Pandora’s box and write about every friend and event we had this year, so I’ll just focus on my favorites, or the ones who got married. Maybe it’s both. I’ll let you decide. Brandon (Frogs) and Tawny, got married in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. It was my first time and it was a dream. The pace and vibe is very not American. You go everywhere on a 4-wheeler, the surf is always firing, and the food is quite delicious. It was such a bummer to not have Hailee with me, it was going to be our trip together for the year, but JackJack and the Zika Virus had other ideas.
The Grahams put on an incredible 3 day extravaganza complete with a waterfall hike, candle lit rehearsal dinner on the beach, sunset ceremony, and epic pool dance party which I think ended with nearly everyone jumping in the pool in the suits and dresses and head banging to Rage Against The Machine, “Bulls on Parade”.
Photos and More
Now, here’s a few photos from each month that help round out the year.