Books, Story Time

Story Time W/ Daddy & Papa (Daddy, Papa & Me and Mommy, Mama & Me)

The 2nd video in our Story Time w/ Daddy & Papa Series! We’re reading Daddy, Papa & Me and Mommy, Mama & Me. Join along as Daddy and Papa read these books with Grace & Charlotte!

You can also purchase these books and more on our website here.

*Net proceeds from every sale will go towards our next adoption or surrogacy.


Daddy, Papa, and Me
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Mommy, Mama, and Me
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Travel

Atlanta's Beltline

As an environmentally conscious family, we are always drawn to innovative ways to make urban living more friendly. Since moving to Atlanta from mountainous Vermont, we were immediately drawn to a project which started as a master’s thesis and has become an economic and environmental victory for the City of Atlanta. The Beltline deemed, “the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States” will have 22 miles of pedestrian-friendly rail transit, 33 miles of multi-use trails,  and 1300 acres of parks. Many of the elements of this project are already underway and a stunning success. The system tightly integrates 45 in-town neighborhoods utilizing transit-oriented development strategies (for anyone that has been to Atlanta, traffic sucks.)

When first looking for a place to live, we were immediately drawn to areas that were close to or on the Beltline (proof that the economic draw of the Beltline is real). Ability to access the trails is a hot commodity. Housing that is near the Beltline is highly sought after, to the point that if you hesitate, even just a little bit, it’s gone! Our favorite area is master-class ofurban renewal. Ponce City Market, is one of the most sought-after areas to live. What is very special about Ponce City Market is that it is a complete transformation of a vacant Sears Roebuck & Co distribution center. What once was empty floors, has become a multi-use development that has built a massive economic engine for a once depressed area of town. Massive lofts, dining, shopping, one of a kind stores and restaurants all abound in what has become one of the best places to spend an afternoon out and about. And did I mention there are carnival rides and games on the roof of the building? Ok, enough gushing over a super cool place to live, work and play. The most exciting part of this LEED certified project is its direct access to the Beltline. Walk up to the third floor and you’ll find the Beltline!

Hundreds of spots to park your bike, tools to tinker and fix that flat, and vendors catering to passers-by, holds just one example of the atmosphere popping up all along the Beltline.  The old station where merchandise was once loaded onto train cars is now a lounging area where you can watch thousands of people, pets, bikes, and scooters fly by.  On our first trip to the Beltline, we started at its furthest most completed section North of Midtown Atlanta.  First, what is impressive is that deep in the heart of a massive American city, is a serene trail of nature which made biking all the more comfortable.  Just like a subway in New York or Metro in DC, people utilizing this Beltline trail system are avoiding bumper to bumper stalled traffic, all while getting exercise, and taking a moment to enjoy the beauty of nature around them.  

Our Schwinn Cruisers were perfect for the gentle slopes, and paved trails.  Everyone on the trail exudes a state of relaxation.  Our family was able to enjoy our trip with our Schwinn Bike Trailer, a healthy snack from Whole Foods and a popsicle from King Of Pops.  After hours on the trail, our three-year-old girls are so hooked that they ask to go “bike ridin” every chance they get.  The system of trails is growing every year and expects to be done by 2030.  What is impressive is that neighboring cities, are working to connect their trails to the Atlanta Beltline to make a more extensive network of pedestrian and bike-friendly trails, linking even more to a healthier, more sustainable mode of transportation and recreation.

For more information about the Atlanta Beltline, visit https://beltline.org/about/the-atlanta-beltline-project/atlanta-beltline-overview/

Family

Emma's Story - A Story of Love & Loss

It had only been a few weeks since we had finished all of the required training classes to become certified as a foster family by the Baltimore City Department of Social Services. At the time, we were still an Active Duty military family, so finding the time to commit to such an undertaking was tough. Even when it wasn't as easy as we had wanted, we found a way to get it done in just a couple of weeks. Those details matter, because only a few months prior we had lost our first child.

Daddy & Papa West in 2013 while stationed at the Presidio of Monterey in California.

This is where her story begins. It's difficult to remember the exact day we received the email from our attorney who had been guiding us through the adoption process. At the time I was a Cryptologic Russian Linguist in the US Army (meaning the Army trained me to speak, read and write in Russian) and I recall being more than 2/3rd's of the way finished with a language course funded by the Intelligence Community in the Washington, DC area. I was stationed at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland and lived just within the Baltimore City limits, so on top of studying the Russian language for eight-plus hours a day, I was bound to the reliably unreliable Amtrak schedule between Baltimore and DC.

Just a few weeks prior, we had matched with a birthmother in Texas. Not all of the details were clear just yet, and she still needed a sonogram, but we were told to get ready because we were having a girl. Her name would be Emma, so that's what hung above her crib.

It happened with an email. In an attempt to blunt the sharp and painful nature of what we were about to learn next, our attorney chose to use that email to explain Emma would not live more than a few minutes after taking her first breath. I remember feeling frantic and hopeless as I read those words and even more so as I sat on the train headed home to be with my husband. It was the first time in my life I can remember crying in public without a thought for what those around me might have been thinking.

Even though we never got the chance to meet her, hold her tight, or tell her how much she was loved, she’ll always be our first baby.
— Daddy & Papa West

Emma's story is incredibly painful even to this day. The door to her bedroom, the one where her name hung above what was supposed to be her crib, stayed closed for weeks. Regrettably, we were unable to attend her funeral and have yet to visit her in Texas. I know that we will someday. Not only is it essential for Grace and Charlotte to learn her story, but for all of us to get the chance to say goodbye in person.

In reality, Emma's story hasn't ended. She is the reason we were able to complete the foster care training and move forward with our dream of becoming parents. She made us stronger, more determined to become a family, and we do our best every day to remember the joy she brought us.


Parenting, Family

Her Lucky Coin, A Watch Battery

Not once had we ever imagined that a watch-sized battery could be so dangerous. One morning Charlotte told us she had just finished eating her snack. The comment was odd because we hadn't given her anything to eat since we had just recently finished breakfast, so we prodded further only to hear her say, "I swallowed my lucky coin." She then showed us a small toy calculator the girls had both been given to use as a "supercomputer" (@pbskids #superwhy). Not even a minute went by before we were speaking with someone at Poison Control. They explained that it was hazardous and could burn a hole through her esophagus (think feeding and breathing tubes) in as little as two hours and we should rush her to the nearest Emergency Department.

To make a long story short, we found out how fast and agile a Tesla Model 3 can be on our drive to the nearest hospital with someone able to help. We were in Southern Vermont at the time, so that meant driving to Albany, NY. Typically a 90 min drive, but "safely" done in 45 minutes that day. The 1st set of X-rays showed the battery in the worst possible place (lodged in her esophagus requiring surgery to remove), but fortunately, the 2nd set of X-rays confirmed that it had passed down into her intestines (now we hope that it passes in less than a week).

In a single moment, our life as a family almost changed for the worse.

In a single moment, our life as a family almost changed for the worse. I'm sure some statistics show how unlikely it is for the worst to happen in a situation like this, but as we rushed her to the hospital, that's all we could think of. This photo was not staged btw. It happened in Clarkston, GA, a small Southern town incredibly welcoming to refugees from around the world at a local coffee shop (@refuggeecoffee). The night before we had watched the season 2 finale of @queereye and were compelled to see the town for ourselves since it was only about a 30-minute drive from Atlanta. I just happened to have my phone out taking pictures when she leaned over and asked daddy for a kiss. I (papa) stay home with them during the day, so they tend to show me more affection. We were both a little surprised in the moment, but the combination of that photo, in that town and our day spent at the hospital left us wanting to be better parents. If you've made it this far down (thanks), please take a minute and get rid of or secure batteries your children have access to because it might just save their lives.


More Love Camp Flag
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Airstream

We Bought an Airstream

It finally happened! We bought a 2019 27’ Flying Cloud Airstream and couldn’t be more excited to share our plans with all of you. Below is a quick video we made to announce the purchase and explain what our plans are. Let us know what you think in the comments! Are we crazy or is this a dream of yours too!?



Books

The Daddy & Papa Book Collection

We’re so excited to officially announce the launch of our very own book store! We hope to showcase the best of children’s book that are not only inclusive, but LGBTQ friendly. The first books in our collection are actually the very first set of books we bought for our daughters when they were born. Check them out below!

Use Discount Code BOOKSTORE for 15% off until 01 June 2019.


Daddy, Papa, and Me
8.00

One of our family’s favorite books! Daddy, Papa, and Me is a fantastic (board book) that will help you show your children what a loving family can be and do together, regardless of sex.

*Net proceeds from every sale will go towards our next adoption or surrogacy.

By @daddyandpapacollection

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Mommy, Mama, and Me
8.00

One of our family’s favorite books! Mommy, Mama, and Me is a fantastic (board book) that will help you show your children what a loving family can be and do together, regardless of sex.

*Net proceeds from every sale will go towards our next adoption or surrogacy.

By @daddyandpapacollection

Quantity:
Add To Cart

Working Remotely

Stories of a Remote Work Dad: Change in Plans

Remember the time when that weekly all-hands-on-deck meeting got kicked out of the conference room because someone else decided they were more important? You and your ten other colleagues scramble to find a quiet spot in the break room until someone comes in and makes popcorn just as the group begins discussing something important.

Being agile in your work environment is no different, whether you are in an office or working remotely from home. A perfect example, is happening in real life to me, this week. After taking a long weekend to spend time with family in our Nation's Capital, we returned home to news of a death in our family. After talking it out, we decided that driving was the best option. Although lengthy, the cost of the last minute flight was simply too much.

I had planned on working from my desk at home or even walking over to the nearest Starbucks, where I know the corner is quiet, and the internet is reliable. Now I am subject to unknown conditions when I arrive at the hotel and particularly unsure of what my schedule will look like for the rest of the week. Will I need to take more time off from work or can I manage to be present, both in terms of family and work? As of late, I've become pretty good at expecting the unexpected and working through it. However, sometimes, I push the limit of what's acceptable.

Here are some things to remember when your work environment isn't what you planned:

Always have a backup - Don't leave yourself with merely one option. If you think you can have a call in a quiet location at an unfamiliar place but aren't sure when guests may arrive, make sure your car is also nearby, it works as a great last-minute spot to find quiet and get the job done.

Never rely on just wifi - In most cases for general computing needs, a generic internet connection will be just fine. But if you're working on a more vital task, say a presentation or a conference bridge, always have a mobile hotspot ready. If you have a modern smartphone, you already have this feature. 90% of the time, the internet connection from your phone will be 10-20x faster than some public wifi connections, especially in hotels or coffee shops. Plus, public wifi connections are known to be insecure and leaves your connect open to malicious actors.

Get a good headset - Noise canceling headphones are a great way to create your own private office no matter where you are. These types of headphones will help you focus and get the job done.

Don't be afraid to reschedule & always use a planner - If it's an informal meeting, don't hesitate to pick a time that's better for you. Most people would do this regardless of where they were working that day anyhow, especially if they were "swamped" with tasks to complete. My favorite planner was created by CNCPTS. It’s a weekly planner and notebook designed for business.

Check them out here for yourself and use discount code DADDYANDPAPA for 15% off your order!

Bring your power - These days most airports, coffee shops and hotel lobbies have upped their game in an effort to make it easier to charge our devices. But sitting on the floor against the wall in an airport terminal is not that appealing. I always carry two charging options with me. The first is my Mophie USB-C 3XL. It can charge my MacBook and iPhone simultaneously. The other is conveniently located inside my Away Suitcase (click here for $20 off your first purchase). They have it tucked in just under the handle so I can charge my phone while waiting for my flight.

Give yourself time - If you are the type that needs at least five minutes to get settled before a meeting or a call when in an unknown working environment double the amount of time you need. Try doing a test call with a colleague to make sure everything is working properly ahead of time.

Finally, while I believe there is nothing wrong with working remotely, keep in mind many people still think that it's a terrible idea. Background noise to you may be nothing, but to someone on a call, it may be incredibly distracting. Use good judgment when taking your phone off mute, and remember to get in the habit of muting when not talking.

All of this might sound like a lot of extra work to make sure your workday is productive, but once you get the hang of it, and know your limits, you will find it freeing and more enjoyable than an awful commute to the office everyday.

Working Remotely

Stories of a Remote Work Dad: The Beginning

For years, I have spent most of my working adult life in some capacity as a remote work employee. My commutes have generally been pretty mild, although once in a while there is a hold up at the coffee pot. My journey started years ago when I took my first real office job. Working from home was just a "thing" most people thought was simply a way to "take advantage" of a situation. In the years since with the tech boom and race to get the smartest, and the brightest employees, companies have had to rethink their thoughts on where an employee is most comfortable working.

Working from home is NOT, and I repeat NOT for everyone.
— Daddy West

The average person when asked what they think about working from home, will likely think of pajamas, lounging around the house and not getting as much done as you would if you were in an office environment. What most people aren't aware of when given the option to work remotely is how much of an adjustment it takes to go from an office setting to working and being productive where ever you want. Plus, it just might not be the right fit for everyone.

On my first day working from home, I was excited. It was probably a bit of nervousness soaked in caffeine and freshly showered wet hair. It felt great for a few minutes until I needed to start working, but had a question. I went to stand up as if I were going to walk over to a colleague and suddenly remembered I wasn't in the office anymore! I would dig through my notes, try to ask Google for the right answer when all of a sudden the buzzing of the dryer would interrupt the solitude most people think of when working from home.

I then thought to myself, "can I fold laundry on this upcoming conference call?"

Week two went by in a flash as I slowly started to figure out what worked best in my new workspace. I began to realize that I was working a lot more than I expected, likely because of that insatiable need to check emails (on my work computer) while binge-watching the latest Netflix drama.

Week three arrived, and I began to feel like something was missing; something was not right. It's still difficult to describe just how that felt, but it's a feeling that soon thereafter subsided because in a flash I had finally found a rhythm and it seemed so natural.

That was my first three weeks. After ten years of working remotely, my employer suddenly changed, and it was time to go back into an office. At this point, I've become used to the mundane noises around the house, but even with tenure, getting back into an office environment would make any person feel like a rookie. I was no different.

Remembering that the weekly conference call is at the same time the garbage truck stops just outside my window and hitting mute on my phone finally became a habit.
— Daddy West

In the coming months, as we start our next journey as a family and I step away from the office again, I hope to share how I have been the most productive. My goal is to help you better understand what "working from home" really looks like: the good, the bad and the ugly.


Custom Stickers, Die Cut Stickers, Bumper Stickers - Sticker Mule

Favorites

CNCPTS - Weekly Planner & Notebook Designed for Business W/ Discount Code

We have been struggling to find the best planner/notebook to keep ourselves organized, not only on a personal level but as a small business for a long time. I can't even begin to count how many of these types of notebooks we've gone through over the years. 10, 15, 20? We've lost count.

Today we want to share with you our favorite and most used planner to date, CNCPTS Notebooks. We love everything about it, especially its simple, minimalist design.

Whether you’re starting a business, side hustle or pursuing a passion project, we want to help.
— CNCPTS Notebook

This little gal has already helped us organize our daily lives and our "side hustle." After struggling to keep ourselves organized and on track for months, if not years, we stumbled upon this notebook in an Instagram ad. We loved the idea so much that we personally bought one for ourselves.

Check them out here for yourself and use discount code DADDYANDPAPA for 15% off your order!

Here’s a bit more info directly from Jonathan Tao, the founder and creator of CNCPTS Notebooks:


The Idea

The idea for CNCPTS Notebook began in a small stationery store in Los Angeles, California after failing to find a notebook and weekly planner that could do more. On the outside, notebook after notebook, they all looked the same - black leather cover, single bookmark ribbon, and elastic band. That’s it. Sound familiar? On the inside, the layout was either completely bare with a dated design or overly complicated with a rigid structure asking us to complete excessive tracking. We knew there had to be a better solution.

The Design

After failing to find a product that worked, we went out to create our own solution. We began this challenge by asking ourselves, “How do we create a weekly planner that people are actually excited to use?” And with this question in mind, we embarked on an interactive eleven-month design process.

We knew the most important aspect to this question was usability, so we sought out to create a product that worked with the needs of a modern-day entrepreneur. We designed the weekly layout to be intuitively simple and flexible for your daily tasks while having separate sections for your “Personal To-Do’s” and “Chores & Errands.” All this helps your brain easily segment your tasks so you’re able to focus on what’s important.

The next step was to make sure the CNCPTS Notebook had enough function to keep up with today’s needs. We loaded it with things like blank & perforated pages, pen holder, multiple bookmark ribbons and elastic bands so you’re ready in any situation.

The Process

We worked with a London-based bookbinding specialist to bring our idea to life and this is where we obsessed over the details. We shared our prototype with dozens of entrepreneurs and side hustlers through monthly mastermind group events we hosted. With feedback in hand, we iterated. And iterated again. Until we had the perfect product to bring your ideas to life. Trust us when we say, no detail was spared.

Check them out here for yourself and use discount code DADDYANDPAPA for 15% off your order!


Custom Stickers, Die Cut Stickers, Bumper Stickers - Sticker Mule

Favorites

MindJournal - The Journal for Men w/ Discount Code

I, Papa West, have been struggling for a long time with chronic pain. While serving in the US Army I was diagnosed with Progressive Small Fiber Peripheral Neuropathy (PSFPN). In short, I was told the small nerves, the ones closest to my skin, were damaged and will continue to get worse.

The pain first appeared in my feet and has slowly progressed up my legs and into both arms. I find it difficult to explain to my closest friends and family what it feels like to endure the sensation of burning, numbness and itching in both legs and arms, all at the same time and in varying intensity. Unless I’m in the middle of what I would call an attack (sharp spike in pain), you’d never know the nerves within my body were destroying themselves.

I was recently gifted a MindJournal. It’s a journal designed specifically for men with prompts to guide you through the process of journaling. I can’t say it’s a cure for my condition in particular, but I can say that it is helping me to accept the pain caused by my PSFPN.

First, the quality of the journal is out of this world. I was not expecting to open it up for the first time and find something so solid and durable. Second, I’ve never used a journal before in my life. I was a little apprehensive at first, but guess what happened. I started using it. Not everyday, but enough that I could feel something. It got me thinking about my life, my friends, my family and more importantly my sanity.


It’s rarely talked about, but chronic pain can be deadly. I’ve considered suicide more times than I’d like to admit. Putting words down on paper has helped me rethink what it’s like to live with chronic pain. I can’t say that that I’m alive today because of MindJournal, but I can say that I’m still here.
— Papa West

If you’re looking for a way to start putting your thoughts on paper, stop what you’re doing right now and buy this journal!

Plus, the folks at MindJournal were gracious enough to give all of our friends a 10% off discount code. Simply put in DADDYANDPAPA at checkout.


Custom Stickers, Die Cut Stickers, Bumper Stickers - Sticker Mule

Favorites

The True Colors of a Princess Coloring Book

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It's not very often that we share products that are gifted to us on Instagram, but our mission has always been "acceptance through visibility." Simply posting "carefully curated" photos of our family on instagram is a good start, but we also want to share some of the truly empowering and inclusive products that can also help move us one step closer to achieving our mission.

Mark Loewen, a published children's author, and a fellow gay dad, recently shared two copies of his coloring book with our daughters. The True Colors of a Princess Coloring Book: Companion to What Does a Princess Really Look Like? (Brave Like A Girl Series) came to be when his daughter asked him to play princess and knight.

"I was reminded of the other day when my daughter asked me to play princess and knight. 'What does the knight do?' I asked. 'He fights,' she told me. I then asked her what a princess did, to which she just responded, 'she looks beautiful!'"

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We can do much better for our children, especially our daughters. Mark has helped to take us one step closer to doing just that with the creation of his children's books, What Does A Princess Really Look Like? (Brave Like A Girl Series). Plus, it's really hard to find a book about a kid with two dads, let alone a coloring book!

Both of these books are prominently placed on our bookshelf and should be on yours too! We highly recommend checking these out!

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*Some of the links in this story are associated with our Amazon referral code and we may be compensated if a purchase is completed. 

Favorites

Smiirl Instagram Follower Counter w/ Discount Code

Referral link is below!

We just received our Smiirl Instagram Follower Counter and couldn't be happier with how great it is! It's awesome motivation to keep us moving on Instagram, especially when we hear the follower count jump up. Check out the video to see it in action.

Also, we did NOT pay the total $$$ amount. We found a promo code and got 7% off. Here's our referral link to get 7% off your order today: http://smiirl.refr.cc/daddyandpapa

Family

Charlotte's Story - A Story of Love & Adoption

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Three years ago on 18 September, just around 5:00pm, daddy, Grace and I were just sitting down to eat dinner. Little did we know our 2nd daughter had just been born. It wasn’t our intention to adopt twice, let alone two infants only 5-weeks apart, but later that night as we were all getting settled into bed our phone rang. It was relatively late on a Friday night, but we immediately recognized the number. It was someone from the Baltimore City Dept of Social Services. On the other end of the phone was the deputy director with a straightforward question.

“We have a newborn who is immediately available for adoption. Would you like to adopt her?”

I think we both said YES before she was even able to finish asking her question. Her next question was, “can you come to the hospital right now to meet your daughter?” It took us all but 15 minutes to get out of the house and on our way to meet her.

Charlotte’s story is hers and hers only to tell, but we do know and have told her many times that her birth mother held her one last time and with tears in her eyes, asked the nurses in the room to find her baby girl a good home.

Charlotte was born at 1659 (4:59pm) and all three of us, Grace included, met her just a few hours later at the hospital.

It was a surreal and unforgettable moment that I know we will never forget.

At only 3 years old, she has grown into a strongwilled, curious, brilliant little girl and will no doubt go on to do incredible things!

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