Stay at Home Dad/Online Tutor / Gifted & Talented Services Coordinator
I was born and raised in the suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota. I now live in the city of St. Paul. In-between has been an adventure.
One major passion of mine is learning about the wider world. When combined with a strong work ethic instilled by my parents, it led me to self-fund travel experiences as a youth with the Boy Scouts to scuba dive in Florida, with my church to canoe and camp in northern Minnesota, and with my school to practice Spanish in Costa Rica. At the time I didn’t know where God would guide me, but travel was just the beginning.
In college I explored some of my ancestral roots by spending a semester studying in Scotland. I trained to be a social studies teacher and learned that I could do my student-teaching semester overseas. I chose that option and ended up being placed at an international school in Hong Kong, China.
Living abroad was life-changing for me. I loved being able to live in a culture, not just travel through it. I also met Rachel while living and teaching overseas. I was also able to worship beside a diversity of Christians in each place I lived or visited. I ended up returning to Hong Kong to teach full-time for four years and then moved to Monterrey, Mexico for four more years.
When Rachel and I married we wanted to be closer to our families so we settled in St. Paul. While our professional lives as teachers continued in Minnesota, married life and then parenthood were major changes. Being married to Rachel has been wonderful and a stretching experience as I grow into a shared life with her. With the birth of Bram we have shifted into the role of parenting which has been incredibly rewarding overall.
When Bram was one and a half we decided that I would become a stay-at-home dad. I still am using my social studies teaching skills to help students with online tutoring, but the focus of my day is family. I enjoy cooking and baking with Bram, playing inside and outside, and exploring our community. It has been fun and rewarding to help him grow and mature.
In addition to enjoying cooking and baking, I like outdoor activities like camping, hiking, biking, playing ultimate frisbee, and tending to a vegetable garden. Indoors I like to read, play board games, and follow Minnesota-based college and professional sports teams.
I was born and raised on a farm in rural Iowa. The values and love that I had from my family, friends, and entire community have really shaped who I’ve become today. I thrived in a small school. I was quite shy while I was growing up, but because you can be involved in almost any activity you want in a small high school, I was. I took dance lessons from when I was three years old until I was 17, and acted in plays and musicals in high school. Those two things helped me to grow in my confidence.
I loved school growing up and that has continued throughout my life as I still love to learn and help others. That pretty much sums up who I am to the core. This desire to help others I think may also stem from growing up in a small town, where families still have to rely on each other and help one another when disaster strikes or someone needs extra help. I became a teacher because I love to learn and I love to see the lightbulb come on in kids’ eyes. I also really enjoy being around kids and hearing all the creative, interesting and sometimes hilarious things they come up with. To some extent, I’m a kid at heart, and so one of my favorite things about being a parent is getting to do all the fun things that kids get to do - go to the Children’s Museum, to the zoo, eat macaroni and cheese.
One of my favorite ways to learn is by traveling. In college and right after college, I was able to travel to Australia, West Africa, Singapore, and finally I lived in Mexico for a few years. I’m so grateful for those experiences where I was able to meet so many people who are different from me and learn how other people view the world. Traveling has been one of the things that has truly changed my life and given me a whole different perspective after living in small town Iowa for most of my life. Meeting and interacting with people who are different from us is such a powerful experience. Drew and I have been involved with a program here in Minnesota called the St. Paul Intercultural Institute, where we help find host families for Japanese college students. This has been one way that we’ve been able to continue our passion to learn from and interact with other cultures since we’ve settled back in the United States.
Becoming a mother has been the best and most transformative thing that has ever happened to me. As mentioned previously, I just love doing fun kid things and experiencing them for the first time again through Bram’s eyes. I love when Bram tells me that he loves me and gives me a giant hug. I love seeing how he grows and changes over the years. Honestly, I even love learning more about parenting. I’ve read a number of books over the past few years and have joined multiple discussion groups to talk about parenting because I’ve found that it helps me to be a better parent when I can learn with and from others.
Prior to having Bram, Drew and I had been interested in the idea of adoption, though we knew little about it. After having Bram, we decided to try again for our own biological child. After two years of infertility, we decided it was time again to consider adoption more seriously and have been pursuing it ever since. We know there are children that need loving homes. We are a family that has lots of love for children. One of the other reasons that we are considering adoption is for Bram to have a sibling. We’ve seen him play and interact with his younger cousins and believe he would make an excellent older brother. With Drew and I both having siblings and those relationships being very important to us, we want Bram to experience that too.
We live in the city of St. Paul and enjoy many things that city life entails. We love being close to all sorts of opportunities - entertainment, restaurants, diversity – all the things. We absolutely love our neighborhood. Our home is near the top of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and there are excellent trails to walk on for beautiful views of downtown St. Paul. There are also lots of woods around where we live and because we love being outside and in nature, this is a definite draw for us. We’ve formed a pretty good community with the neighbors on our block, hosting get-togethers in the summer, and helping each other snowblow and shovel in the winter. As Bram has gone through preschool and recently started kindergarten, we’ve started to get to know more children in the neighborhood. Though there aren’t a lot of kids on our immediate block, Bram benefits a lot from that because the neighbors totally spoil him: he gets Christmas presents (almost too many!) from multiple neighbors. Another thing we love about our neighborhood is that it is more diverse than the suburbs or a more rural home would be. We believe it is really important for Bram to see, know, and love people who don’t look like he does (and for us as his parents to do so as well!).
While there is still much more to explore in our area, we do have a few favorites. If we are going to buy tacos, a favorite place is the nearby Tavial Grill where we can get delicious tacos and a jamaica and/or horchata to drink. Rachel also loves going with friends to Amore, our neighborhood coffee shop. Though she doesn't like coffee, they have delicious apple cider in the fall and fabulous smoothies year round. In past years, we have had a membership to the Children’s Museum in downtown St. Paul and Bram has loved taking the city bus to get there – perhaps sometimes even more than visiting the Children’s Museum itself! We also live somewhat close to Good Times Park, an indoor playground, which comes in handy here in Minnesota when there is an especially cold winter day. At this time we have no plans to move as we love our neighborhood and our house has room for another child.
I must mention though that I (Rachel) grew up on a farm near a small town in Iowa. While I do not wish to live there permanently, we do visit frequently to see my parents, my brothers, and their families. I love the wide open space and sharing the slower pace of that lifestyle with Bram and am excited to do the same with a second child. Bram LOVES helping his papa out on the farm with all sorts of different jobs.
Living in the Twin Cities near Drew’s family makes it a bit easier to see them frequently. We probably get together once a month or so for a family dinner with Drew’s parents and his sister’s family. Since moving back to the United States, Drew’s sister has also invited us along for a number of social events with some of her friends here in the cities, and so we’ve gone on vacation together with that friend group, as well as done birthday parties, trivia nights, etc.
Though they live in another state, we have been very intentional about spending time with my family in Iowa throughout our marriage. A big reason for that was because my 98-year-old grandma was still alive until 2022 and loved visits from her grandchildren and great grandchildren. I wanted Bram to know and love her, and am so grateful for all the time they got to spend together in Bram’s first four years. While she was alive, we were going down to Iowa monthly. Now that she’s gone, and since we’re getting busier with more activities as Bram gets older, we only go down once every other month. But being on a teacher’s schedule helps to provide a number of good breaks throughout the year so that we can go and stay for a couple of days at a time. Bram loves being on the farm with my parents and visiting his cousins to play together.
All About Rachel from Drew
One of the things that drew me to Rachel is her caring and compassionate heart. Her dedication to Jesus serves as her inspiration and is a great model for others. She cares deeply about her family, friends, and strangers. That has played out in service to others at our church, in community organizations, and in her personal learning and growth. It is a beautiful part of her personality that adds incredibly to her physical beauty.
In our marriage I have learned that she is very hard-working. That occurs in her job and in her responsibilities around our house and family. She loves working with our family’s budget and does a good job managing our finances. Outside she likes to bike and has come to tolerate some camping. Inside she prefers to read and she uses it as pleasure, to grow her faith, and as an opportunity to better understand diverse perspectives.
She is a fantastic mother! She is constantly learning how to do it better through books, podcasts, conversations with other mothers, etc.. Her patience with Bram is wonderful. And her rapport with him is a great model for me. He is often included in her chores around the house, so she is a big reason that he is such a great helper.
All About Drew from Rachel
Drew is an excellent husband and father. I’m so grateful to have him as a partner. While there are many characteristics that make him wonderful, the top two for me are his steadiness and his wisdom.
Drew is calm and collected in almost every situation. It is very rare to see him get upset about something. The steadiness that he brings to almost every circumstance helps to calm those around him, particularly me. I know that I can trust Drew to be there as a calming presence in so many situations.
His amazing ability to remain calm in most circumstances also helps with the second aspect that I love about him - the wisdom he brings to decision making. Drew is thoughtful and patient and does not rush into decisions lightly. His naturally calm presence helps him to think clearly and make sound decisions no matter what is going on around him. He’s also really intelligent and reflective about what he has learned from his past experiences and so he tends to make really good decisions because of all the previous knowledge he has. I also appreciate that he also can be a pretty resourceful problem solver. While he is not naturally handy, I have been very impressed by all the things he has figured out how to fix and do by watching Youtube. His willingness to learn and try to figure something out is much appreciated by his family and friends.
One of the aspects that makes Drew an excellent father is his ability to remain firm in his expectations of Bram. When Drew says something, he means it. This predictability and the routines he has established for himself bring a level of comfort and safety to our family as we always know what to expect of Drew. Many kids, including Bram, thrive on routine and Drew is very good at providing this.
Drew is also an excellent father because he is so hands-on and feels comfortable with the role. He has been the stay at home parent with Bram for the past three years. Because of all that extra time with Bram, Drew can do all of the parenting tasks just as well, if not better than I can! He can change diapers, cut fingernails, play cars, find snacks, you name it. One of Drew’s biggest desires is to be involved in his family and play an active role with his children, and he does this every day with Bram.
Finally, I just have to mention this because I’ve said this a million times since I married him; one of the main bonuses of marrying him has been benefiting from his cooking/baking abilities. Drew is an amazing cook and I am incredibly fortunate to be able to be on the receiving end of that so often. Over the past year he has tried to perfect a recipe for chocolate chocolate chip cookies and I honestly think they might be some of the best cookies I’ve ever had. There are actually a number of foods that I would much rather have from Drew than from any restaurant or another person. Tacos, homemade bread, chocolate cake, wild rice soup, honestly, he’s amazing.
Drew and I met while teaching at the same American school in Monterrey, Mexico. He caught my eye one of the first weekends I was there, especially when a friend that I was sitting next to let me know that he was also a Christian. For some reason I can’t remember now, I decided to play ultimate frisbee with some teachers on Monday nights in Monterrey and it turns out that was what Drew was doing on Monday nights as well. I’m not entirely sure he noticed me at all that first year, until one of our teaching colleagues started pushing us towards each other. By the second year of my time in Mexico, Drew asked me out and we started dating and going to salsa dancing lessons. I mean, what else would you want to do while dating in Mexico??? While we were still dating, Drew decided to move back to Minnesota to be closer to his family, while I wanted to stay another year in Mexico. We ended up dating long-distance for a year and then Drew proposed the day before Thanksgiving in Mexico City. The following July we got married and I moved to Minnesota then as well.
First and foremost, we desire for our children to be filled to overflowing with love. The church we attend often talks about the four loves: loving God, loving others, loving ourselves, and loving creation. This is what we are trying to establish in our family. We strive to give Bram lots of opportunities to show and grow in these different types of love. We’ve got a lot of room for improvement, but we’re grateful for our church community, our family and friends, and the schools that we have worked with who also help us work on these as well. Truly, these four loves are the foundation for any of the other values or lessons we want to teach our children.
Drew and I believe it is very important to try and instill antiracist values both in ourselves and in our children. This means developing a lifestyle that is different from what we grew up with. We need to constantly be educating ourselves, working on seeing our biases, fighting against systems of white domination in our culture, community, and in ourselves. With our children, this means having conversations about white privilege, racism, biases, and more. We need to point out the myths and lies in our culture that have helped white supremacy thrive for hundreds of years. This is part of the reason that we live where we live, why we worship where we do, and why we are being very thoughtful about where Bram goes to school. We desperately want Bram, as a white male, to be surrounded by others who are different from him. We want him to develop friendships with all sorts of people and to see that our differences make us stronger together and are cause for celebration, rather than something to dismiss or get rid of.
Drew and I believe in the power of education and hope to instill a love of learning in our children. Our lives have been enriched so much by the thirst for more understanding. We hope to find many opportunities that will help our kids find their passions and develop them into something that they can enjoy doing for many years, whether or not they get paid for it.
We very much hope to have an open adoption with our child’s birth family. The more we’ve learned about adoption through workshops, reading, and podcasts, the more we see the importance of starting and maintaining a relationship with any and all members of the child’s birth family who are interested. Moving a child from one family tree to another will be no easy feat, and we hope to help our child understand that by being adopted, there is so much more that they can gain - multiple families and relationships. We realize that any child who is adopted will experience the trauma of losing one’s birth family, cultural, racial, and ethnic heritage. One way to help mend and heal that trauma is through providing contact through visits, Facetime calls, letters, and more to help them interact with their birth family and cultural heritage.