Watch out World… Here We Come!

The Test(s)

July 30th, 2018

To start this story, I need to tell a little bit about myself.

One of my main personality profile traits is a fear of failure.  It’s come up on a couple different personality tests from a couple different places I have worked.  This trait has its pros and cons with my career in IT – where I tend to test things very thoroughly and overall try to be risk averse. This ultimately helps our customers have less downtime – so to some degree that can be a pro. One of the cons of it, however, means that if I’m unsure about something I may tend to set it on the backburner and procrastinate it.

A very specific example of this is taking certification tests for IT related technologies. Throughout my career, I’ve been to training for many enterprise level things: Cisco networking, VMware, various Linux/Unix, Microsoft Server, etc – the list goes on and on. But I had never taken a test after these trainings to get certified.  I would tell myself “oh my employers don’t care about the certification, just the knowledge that comes with the training”  but if I am being honest with myself, I avoided the tests because I was scared I’d fail. I would feel humiliated, disappointed in myself, and that fear of failure made it too easy for me to avoid facing a test.  I’d think about this every year or so, and have this twinge of guilt and remorse; a dark spot on my IT career that I would try not to think about.

Fast forward to 2018 and Chase being 8 years old.  The cub scouts are having a late nighter at the YMCA which has a couple hours budgeted for swimming.  In order to be able to swim the full range of the pool and not be confined to the kiddie section, swimmers have to take a “test” to demonstrate their swimming ability to a life guard on staff.  The test consisted of treading water for 60 seconds, and then swimming the length of the pool without touching bottom or stopping.  I knew without a doubt that Chase could do this after swimming for a couple summers at Grandma’s house – but he was less sure of himself.  He didn’t want to take the test, and he was telling me (and himself) he was going to be fine in the shallow end of the pool.  As I started to talk him through it, at some point my words of advice to him became my own advice as well.  “I know you can pass – but even if you don’t, it’s ok!  Try your best and see what happens.  Even if you do fail, we’ll practice and try again”.  Even after a few rounds of this, he remained hesitant and was going to settle for the shallow end.  I didnt want that for him.  I dont want him to settle.  But, that meant I couldn’t settle for the figurative shallow end either…

I finally said “you know what – I know exactly how you feel.  I’m scared to take tests too.  I never take them when I should at work because I worry I wont pass”.

It was now clear that Chase has this same personality trait, so it was time for us both to get over this hump together.   I proposed a deal:  If he would try the swim test at the YMCA, I would register for an exam on the latest training I had gone through – Microsoft’s Cloud.  Once he had me willing to take the plunge with him (puns, puns everywhere), Chase summoned up the courage to try the swim test that night at the YMCA.  Of course the kid passed.  He treaded water without an issue, and swam his best to get to the end of the pool with an excited grin on his face.  I congratulated him, telling him I knew he could do it.  Now with his part completed, I was committed.  Even if I had to admit to my son that I failed my part, I had made a promise and there was no backing out now.  I went ahead and scheduled my exam for implementing Microsoft cloud solutions.

I took it seriously.  I did some practice tests, hands on labs, and even studying my practice exams while coming back from a road trip to Mackinac island.  I felt prepared, but I was still very nervous when it came to test time.  The proctors of these exams take it even more seriously.  You’re monitored on video, and they take all your belongings off your person before you’re allowed to start the test.  You get a notepad and writing utensil for notes…  That’s it.   I honed my concentration as much as possible and tried to remember my own advice – “It’s ok if you fail – but try your best”.  About an hour later, I was done.  Before I was even ready to see my score, the electronic system thrusts it at me.  861/1000 – RESULT: PASS.   I was more happy and excited than Chase had been when he’d passed his respective test, for sure.  Although, I guess mine has been over ten years in the making here.  And even better for me was how awesome it felt to tell the kid that ended up being MY inspiration that neither of us were settling for the shallow end…

A 2014 Update

January 2nd, 2015

2014 is the year that our “family” has really hit began to hit it’s stride.

Carter turned 1, and has really started to gain a personality. He communicates mostly non-verbally now by pointing, grunting, and shaking his head yes/no. He tries a few baby-signs for “more” and then confirms or denies when we ask him. His head nod for “yes” cracks me up because he has to move his whole upper body. He’s walking, climbing, and loves to do laps in our living room and go up/down the stairs repeatedly.

The kid has toughed through a good cold and a couple rounds of ear infections without even letting that break his stride. We didn’t even know he had an ear infection until he had a 1 year checkup in mid December.

He’s starting to try and talk. If I say “High Five!” and hold my hand out, he puts the right number of syllables together and mostly matches the tone as he slaps at my hand. He will throw out “Wow!” and “Uh oh” from time to time – and periodically we catch Ma-ma / Da-Da / Pa-pa used mostly in the right context.

The level of interaction continues to increase across the board – especially with Chase. They find ways to play together, to steal each other’s toys, and be exactly what I hoped brothers would be.

Chase at 4 has been my favorite part of being a parent so far. We can start to experience things together and learn and discover as a team. He may ask me “What’s this car’s name?” – some toy from one of the new Cars movies – and we’ll find out together. Or, he’ll ask a question that doesn’t really have an answer and we collectively imagine answers. “How could we get touch the sky?” for example. However, he’s managed to start asking some tough questions that I wasn’t really prepared for.

Chase: When the dinosaurs were here, we were just bones, right?
Me (confidently): No, actually we weren’t even here yet.
Chase: Well, where were we??
Me: Uhhhhh…..
Chase: When will dinosaurs be alive again?

He’s a smart kid and is patient enough for me to explain almost any topic he asks about, which is good because some of these tougher questions required me to think pretty hard on an answer…

It’s an interesting shift in my personality as well. The things I want to do now revolve around how fun they’ll be for us to do. I’ll take an evening go-cart race at Craig’s Cruisers over almost anything I used to do for fun by myself – as long as Chase is in the seat next to me in the cart. We can laugh together about the fart gun in Despicable Me, and I enjoyed that way more than Bill Burr’s comedy special that I watched by myself.

We have to balance how much he wants to watch Iron Man, Legends of Chima, or Ninjago — But we manage to get outside as well where he prefers Soccer, “Pretend football” so he can catch, and basketball on our hoop’s lowest setting.

Haircuts continue to be interesting. We’ve never taken him to get a “real” haircut, mostly because I’m pretty decent at cutting hair and have a professional grade set of tools. So for now Chase is rocking a mostly real-looking haircut instead of a typical buzzcut. Normally, we’d do a #2 clipper on the back/sides, a 4 on the top, and a 3 to blend it.

I’m sure every year continues to get better and better as a parent. But 2014 was a pretty solid one for the VanBergen family.

The Art of Family Sleep

October 2nd, 2014

I can remember when we first had Chase, it seemed like there was such a focus on a sleeping schedule.  With our first kid, we didn’t know any better.  We didn’t know what “normal” meant.  We went off of parenting books and everyday conversations.  The books heavily referred to establishing a sleeping schedule, and many conversations about parenting started with “is he sleeping through the night?”  I felt like a failure if I had to say “no”.  Well, on to kid 2 and I realize that is BS.

Carter is almost a year old now, and he still wakes up twice almost every night.  And this time, I don’t care.  We haven’t let him cry it out.  We haven’t let him “self soothe”.  The way I see it, he’s waking up for a reason and I’m not going to let him cry until he’s so tired that his body forgets it was hungry.  He needs whatever he needs, and I’m happy to read the signals and provide whatever that is.  The kid is off the charts 99th percentile for height.  Yet he’s only around the middle of the pack for weight.  That tells me that he has an insane metabolism which I think he gets from my side of the family.  Laugh all you want, but the way my brother and I consumed calories throughout our 20’s compared to our exercise levels; we should have weighed 350 pounds.   So if my kid cries at 5am after eating just at midnight or 1, I’m going to feed him.

This mindset, which I will maintain is correct, comes at a cost.

That cost is sleeping arrangements.  It’s a merry go-round of options that changes every single day in our family.  Some days Chase sleeps in his own bed by himself.  Most days Chris sleeps in Chase’s bed by herself while Chase sleeps with me in our king size bed.  Some days I end up in our recliner while Chris ends up with Chase.  It just depends on how the night goes and who ended up getting up with Carter throughout the night.  Is that a little bit chaotic sometimes? Sure.  Would I want to change it?  Nope.

There’s a piece of this that I cherish, and that is having Chase want to sleep in the same bed as his dad.  At some point it will be wierd.  At some point he won’t want to do it.  And when that happens, I’m going to miss it.  The nightly routine of reading some books together and talking about life gives me a great perspective on him as a person.   Instead of being negative about how the sleep schedule is crazy and changes daily, I’m looking at what pieces I’ll miss after everything finally does go  back to normal.

For now, the sleeping is what it is, and it’s normal for our family.  That’s good enough for me.

A Few Stats

August 2nd, 2014


  • We have defeated Super Mario Brothers Wii
  • We have defeated Mario 64
  • You love playing Subway Surfers, Hill Climb Racing, and every Angry Bird game.
  • Your favorite shows are Iron Man, Legends of Chima, and Turbo
  • 4 has been my favorite age because we have quite a bit in common and have alot of fun


  • You started crawling at about 5 months.  You did an army crawl for most of this time, but you now are crawling in a more standard fashion.
  • You aren’t happy being stationary.  You crawl all over, spill Molly’s water dish at ever chance, and pull yourself up to anything within reach
  • You’re fairly talkative:  “Dah Duh DAAAAAHHHHH”  – You sometimes hold your hand out while yelling various syllables as if to announce your presence .
  • You haven’t had the same problems with ear infections that your brother did, we’re glad for that.

Closing the Gaps

July 30th, 2014

Any father/son relationship is going to have what I’m going to refer to as “gaps”. And, what I mean when I say this I guess is something like a generational divide. Music, media, technology – the entire world really, all change at a rapid pace. So, for me it’s easy to understand how a father might have difficulty relating to a child. A father could easily have no idea how to get a new computer game set up. A father could want his son to play baseball when the boy wants only to skateboard. etc etc, you get my drift. Granted, most of my experience in this area comes from the son’s perspective. I’ve been a son for almost 34 years, but a father only 4. Being a father now and having it pretty easy gives me a full appreciation what my father had to do and how great a job he did to relate to his boys.

Computers as we know them didn’t exist when I was born. Video games didn’t exist when I was born. But things changed quickly as I grew. Bugs bunny surrendered the crown of the cartoon realm to He-Man, Lion-O, and some humanoid amphibians that could do karate. Playing with cap guns outside yielded, at least in part, to the Nintendo Zapper. I could go on forever with examples, my point is the world changed so quickly during my lifetime that I can only imagine what it felt like to try and keep up. In a lot of ways, my brother and got to maybe learn along with my father. I’m sure in fact that I owe my career to one of these areas in particular: Him tirelessly experimenting with our computers to keep up with the relentless demand of his greedy sons and their countless computer games. Sitting alongside him as he had to hack and tweak computers to run our games fostered a curiosity of my own with computers. It’s amazing to me to think that a career in Healthcare I.T. started this way, but it truly did.

Compared to my father, I have it pretty easy. There are hardly any gaps for me to close. At least, for now… The Ninja Turtles still have their place in the animated world and Mario and Luigi are still trying to figure out why Princess Peach doesn’t have a restraining order against Bowser. If Chase (or Carter in the future) have trouble with a tough level of a video game, the chances are pretty good that I can help them without a great deal of effort. If they want to skate board instead of play baseball I’ll be able to show them how to do an ollie and a shady shuvit. But, at the same time, I haven’t lost the “old school” pieces. I feel incredibly equipped and confident helping my boys with whatever life might throw at them, and whatever they might throw at me; whether it be old school or new. This is a direct result of my father working so hard to fight these gaps that grew so quickly for him. For that, I am immensely grateful.

Who knows, much of this might change as our lives continue. If the gaps begin to grow, I know exactly what I have to do. Somebody has already shown me.

This blog post would probably be very different if we had girls though.

Down With the Sickness

March 4th, 2014

February was a brutal month for the VanBergen family.

It all started after a fun weekend visiting the Grandparents up north. Sunday night as the weekend came to a close, I started experiencing a norovirus/stomach flu like illness. This spread to every adult who was around us over that weekend. Grandma V, Grandpa V, Uncle Vanbergs, Aunt Kayla, myself and Chris all got similar symptoms within about 12 hours of each other. That level of contagiousness just seemed insane. A week later, the virus was apparently still around as Grandma and Grandpa J and uncle Dale all got it from a followup visit to our house… It was just nuts! The main symptoms only lasted about 24 hours and then you were back on your feet within 48 hours or so (except in my case, more on this later though).

Then Carter started getting badly congested and really had a terrible cough. We took him to his pediatrician 2 times to make sure it wasn’t affecting his breathing and that his lungs were still clear. It was pretty scary for me because some of the coughing fits he experienced really made him struggle to catch his breath in between coughs and would last what felt like minutes at a time. This congestion worked its way throughout his entire Ear/nose/throat system and left him with a dual ear infection. Which then led to antibiotics. Which led to terrible baby diarrhea. Which led to blistered baby bottom despite copious amounts of Desitin diaper rash cream. Chris and I kept him home from daycare an entire week plus a couple days into the following week before he was well enough all around to make it back.

Meanwhile, while everyone else recovered from the stomach bug swimmingly, my symptoms worsened. A couple doctor visits and I end up with GI track inflammation and a bladder infection. My doc thinks it possibly developed into diverticulitis and he put me on 2 different antibiotics. This really began doing the trick immediately; but I was also on a fairly strict diet of bland food and clear liquids only. I really think this was the sickest I’ve ever been. The bird like diet with this type of illness combined to lose me 19 pounds over a 14 day span of time.

Chase somehow managed to avoid EVERYTHING. Which leads me to believe he’s the one that spread all these germs to everybody.

Finally, after what feels like forever, things have improved… We went on a disinfecting spree, washed all bedding from all bedrooms, and even opened all our windows to air out our house in near-zero temperatures. This terrible couple week span only adds to how much this winter has absolutely sucked. We’re all feeling claustrophobic and more often than not it’s been a struggle to keep everyone occupied. It’s important to remember the good times as well as the bad. February, you were pretty bad…

Week of the Dad

January 28th, 2014

As Carter aged closer to the 12 week mark, I started thinking about how the transition to daycare would impact us as a family. This is certainly the toughest part in the early stages of a kid’s life – even if only from the perspective of the parent. On one hand, families must work to provide income which pays for a home, food, and clothing; while on the other it can be difficult to think about being away from your kids for so long at a time. The baby probably doesn’t even notice a difference, but Mom and Dad can sometimes feel a sense of guilt.

I’ve found that the right daycare helps this immensely. We have found one that we feel very comfortable with, have gotten to know the staff, and overall view it as a very positive experience vs a negative one. This trend should definitely continue now that we’re throwing a 2nd kid their way, even if it may not feel like it initially.

Even though I told myself this repeatedly and continued to reassure myself, I decided to take a “Dad week” and postpone Carter’s daycare start date. So I put in for some PTO and am playing “Stay at home dad” this week. Even though I’m only on the 2nd day of this, I’m already very glad I did it. These first 3 months are just a total blur. Visiting alot of people, people visiting us, making sure to help Chase understand and learn the transition, and really just the family life in general. During that time, Carter has definitely developed a special bond with his mom. I struggle to soothe him repeatedly only to see her calm him instantly. At times it can feel frustrating, but then I think to myself I’m glad that he has that bond with her now. My time will come when it’s time to drive a stick shift, or to throw a curve ball. So it’s fine that Mom’s time to shine is now. But even with that said, my goal with this week was to slow things down a bit and enjoy just being a dad.

Armed with some tips, tricks, and a schedule for eating and napping – I’m going to make the most of this week and enjoy focusing on being Carter’s dad. Whether he likes it or not! 🙂

A Brother’s Arrival

November 17th, 2013

Carter John VanBergen was born on 11/12/2013 at 9:20am. At 21.5 inches long, and 8 lbs, 9 oz he is a good sized baby!

Being the 2nd time around for mom and dad, one could say we cut some corners. We didn’t go to any baby classes. We didn’t take pictures or blog every facet of the pregnancy. We felt like we were pros. This over confidence caused a bit of procrastination on Dad’s part. “Oh, we have 4 weeks to get the room ready, paint, get out clothes, car seats, bottles, etc?” … Granted, much of that was busy work and we did get it done with plenty of time to spare, but I was surprised at how much I’m having to relearn already only 5 days into Carter’s life. Anyway, with all the slacking, I’m going to try and put a pregnancy worth of cliffnotes into one blog post. 🙂

We did not find out ahead of time whether you were a boy or a girl. I fought this a bit, because I wanted to know if we had to rebuy everything, or rebuy nothing. But after this experience I decided I’d never want to find out again, and am glad we didn’t. There is no way I can describe what that moment is like. There’s nothing else like it. When I saw you were a boy, I lost it and cried as I simultaneously told your mom the news.

Your room is a boring color, I’m sorry. This is what has to happen when you don’t find out ahead of time. A light shade of green comparable to maybe the center of a kiwi. But, you’re in our new house! Your brother Chase got to help me do a little painting. I also dropped a roll of frog tape down our HVAC vent never to be retrieved. In traditional little brother fashion, you get Chase’s hand me down crib, dresser, clothes, rocker. Sorry in advance for a lifetime of this. I’ll let you get away with more than Chase to make up for it.

You were alot easier on your mom during birth than Chase was. I think the entirety of your labor was maybe 5 hours, vs over 19 hours for Chase. Your mom did a great job! A few rounds of pushing through contractions and there you were. Your head was perfectly round and you had fuzzy wolfman ears.

Chase has been amazing. He frequently wants to see you, share his toys, hold you, and help with feedings.
Chase may have enjoyed your birthday more than we did. He got “big brother” presents from everybody.

Some random memories I’ve kept in my mind wanting to share:

  • On our way to the hospital, “Sweet child O’ mine” was playing on the radio.
  • The very first thing you did as they put you on your mommy’s chest was to squeeze my finger.
  • You peed on your own face when you were 16 hours old.
  • You eat like crazy.  Doctor said “Yeah anywhere between 20-30 oz”.  Well, you eat 40+ every time.


With all that said, the most amazing aspect of this experience is seeing the genesis of a brother’s relationship. This is something I really hoped for and looked forward to, because I cannot put into words what it means. I am lucky enough to have it with my brother, and I’m so thankful for that to continue with my sons.

Finding the Balance

July 26th, 2013

It’s the most cliche statement in the entire universe: “Time flies” — You hear every parent say that about every kid that has ever existed. And you know what? It’s 100% true.

Being a father is like this crazy catch 22. I can’t believe Chase is over 3 years old. But at the same time, I can’t believe pictures of him when he was an infant; that he was ever that small.  I don’t want him to grow up, yet I look forward to playing catch, teaching him to drive, and watching him become a man.  I don’t want to waste every minute worrying about getting out a camera instead of enjoying precious moments, but I want to remember every single thing.  I worry about having to share the amazing bond I have with him when his future brother/sister comes, but I want him to know what it is to be a big brother and to have the opportunity for the friendship like I have with my brother.

I think it comes down to the realization that I’ll never get enough of this.  Chase’s childhood.  Being a dad with him at this age.  No matter how much time I spend doing anything with him, it will never be enough.  I’ll still miss it when it’s over, even if I was sick of it while it was happening (“Oh my gosh you seriously want to read the ‘scary’ troll book AGAIN!?”).  So, I can’t worry about it.  I just need to enjoy it while it lasts, and balance it as much as possible with the rest of the filler that fills in the gaps of life.

Some fun brainstorming bullets that I don’t want to forget

  • You always say “oot” (Like foot without the f) instead of “ate”.  “I oot it all gone!”
  • The term “last night” means anything that ever happened in the past.  Yes, you did have a birthday last night — like 3 months ago.
  • You always want to take the highway when we drive somewhere.  You know the terms M6 and 131, but you mix them up depending on if we are going to/from home.  You correct me when I correct you.  “No this is M6″….
  • You like to tackle me at a full sprint, mom does not like this so much.
  • You mix up syllables in “forgot”; “Daddy, we ‘got for’ Buzz light year at home!”
  • Your old bike is too small but you don’t really like your new bike yet because you can’t pedal it backwards, as those are brakes now instead of reverse
  • You tripped over your stool today in the bathroom and bumped your chin on the toilet.  You insisted on a Lightning Mcqueen bandaid that looked like a football chinstrap on you.
  • You like the Deftones. Specifically “Entombed” and “What happened to you”
  •  Just this last month or so was your first time on a go-cart.  I crashed into walls lightly on purpose because everyone was so far ahead of us.
  • We play soccer and baseball outside.  Regarding baseball, you reverse your hands on the bat but you make good contact.  You  say “home run” after the smallest hit and run wildly around the yard as if you’re running bases.  With soccer, you mostly try to keep the ball away from me by turtling over it.  You like to be goalie but you just stand there while I score on you.
  • .. I’m going to keep adding to this as I think of more…


The balancing act continues…  We’re just stacking some stuff up a little higher to make it more interesting.


Something to Remember

April 1st, 2012

I didn’t think too much of this as it happened, but it’s stuck with me throughout the evening and I want to write it out while it’s fresh so I don’t forget it.

We took Chase shopping to pick up some odds and ends at Meijer tonight. It was a pretty standard trip. We picked up some food, some random stuff, we ran up and down aisles, we looked at fish, and we checked out Sandy the 1 cent pony as we paid for our items. Walking through the parking lot, it was starting to get dark, and the sunset was giving a reddish orange tone to some clouds rolling in that may have been a rain storm; but it was hard to tell.

Chase is always looking up and checking out clouds, stars, airplanes, birds, you name it…

Tonight he looks up as I carried him to our car, and he said “Moon!”… Sure enough, there was a half moon poking through some clouds. I asked him “where is it?” acting like I didn’t see it, so he pointed it out to me and said “BIG!”

I acknowledged, “yeah, that is a big moon!…” And then I asked him: “Do you think you can reach it?” Without any hesitation, without any thought of failing, he pushed up on my shoulders, tried to climb with his feet against my chest, and he reached his hand as high as he possibly could.

I let him try for a bit as Chris put the grocery cart away, and he kept at it while saying “high!” and “reach it?!” It was somehow profound in an intensely subtle way. Even now I can’t help but smile thinking it.

We’ll try again kiddo, maybe you’ll get it next time.