5 Things I Forgot About Infants

A little over 10 months ago, we welcomed our baby boy into the world. Suddenly, I went from a father of one precocious little girl, to a father of a precocious little girl AND a little boy, who would teach me more flexibility and juggling than I have ever encountered. It’s only been a few years since I had an infant last, but there are certainly things I have forgotten (either by choice or by the sheer delirium of parenting). Here are five things I forgot about infants:

  1. How awesome baby laughs are. Like really, is there a more pure joy in the world than a baby laughing? My daughter laughs a ton as well, and her laugh is fantastic and brings me so much joy, but the laugh of a baby is on an entirely different level. It’s like a auditory representation of sunshine and candy, coated in sprinkles. I love it. No wonder Tinkerbell says that when a baby laugh, a fairy is born. (side note: I’ve watched far too much Tinkerbell in my adult life. #Parenting)
  2. How disastrous a blow out can be. As joyous as a baby’s laugh can be, a baby’s blow out can be equally as miserable. My beautiful baby boy, in all of his smiles and laughter, was sitting in his car seat while we were at a restaurant. I didn’t hear anything, smell anything, THERE WAS NO WARNING, but my daughter says “EWW” and I look down, and he’s playing with his poop. You guys, it blew out literally all over his car seat, and his hands are all up in it like it was play dough. *insert gagging .gif here* I looked at my wife and said “the baby’s broken, take it back.”
  3. How significant every milestone can be. We get so excited about every roll over, every sit up, every new food, every giggle, every time our infant breaks into a new size of clothes. Everything he does is mind blowing. I kinda wish we shared this same level of excitement in the rest of our life. Like, “OH MY GOSH, my wife rolled over in bed all on her own awwweeee.”
  4. How precious sleep is. Sleep is life. Life is sleep. Sleep is the aqua vitae of the infant universe. If baby is asleep, don’t you DARE effing wake him up. If he needs sleep, he gets sleep. And heaven forbid you make the choice to do something for yourself that conflicts his sleep schedule, because you’ll be paying for it for the next week. Say it louder for the ones in the back – LET THE BABY SLEEP.
  5. How little they care about your physical needs. Oh, dad, you made a bad choice and stayed up until after midnight last night? Don’t care. I’m up at 5 am and demand my bottle NOW. So grab your coffee, buttercup (after my bottle, of course) because you’re in for a long morning.

Infants are wonderful, beautiful creatures. They demand the highest level of dedication, but the rewards are unlike anything else I have experienced. Cherish these early days, because your little infant in all their splendor is growing and changing by the day.

Why I Left, And Why I’m Back

It’s been a long time since anything has been posted here. Looking back at some of my old posts, it’s easily apparent how much I, my wife and my daughter have all changed. No longer is my little girl a baby – instead, she is a fully opinionated, long haired, vastly undersized almost three year old. Time moves more rapidly than ever before.

Taking a break from writing was never an intentional decision – rather, it was a biproduct of a life continuously changing, of my energy and efforts being steered in a multitude of other directions. Through it all, through the constantly changing landscape that I have been navigating as a husband and father, I have come to realize that not writing, that not prioritize putting my thoughts on paper, has caused a part of me to get lost. There is dearly important part of my mind that only seems to come alive when I use my creative side. Writing is one of those mediums that brings out that passionately creative side, and I have been missing it.

That aside, I have also come to realize that these posts, that this snapshot of my current life and the challenges and victories and joys and sorrows that we face as a family, is deeply important. This blog is more than a hobby – it’s a diary, a chronicle of the growth of myself, my wife, my daughter, and our family as a whole.

So that being said, I am back. I hope that in some way my writing can provide some level of entertainment, joy, and those moments that make you as a parent feel like you aren’t alone. Our lives are not always the highlight reels that we convey to the world. Life is sticky, messy, smelly, frustrating, exhausting, and occasionally highlighted by a moment of unparalleled love, joy, peace, perfection.

But most of the time, life is just life. And I love my life.

4 Reasons I Strongly Dislike”Frozen”

A few weeks ago, I got laid off from my job. It was a terrible circumstance, left me feeling basically incapable and like a tremendous failure to my family. Since then, I have been able to land a fantastic new position that will be a great blessing, and it has given me more time with my little girl.

I have an interesting dilemma on my hands three days out of the week (the other two, my daughter is at day care). In order to start my new position, I must take a state licensing exam that requires me to study. On the other hand, my cute little girl is here and I would much rather play with her, take her to the park, go to the zoo, etc. Since I have the studying to do, what can I do with my daughter when she’s awake? Needless to say, she’s been getting a little more screen time than I would love, but I don’t know what else to do about it.

In the last three weeks, I’ve watched Frozen at least 50 times. I’m not even exaggerating. Since I’ve watched this movie so many freaking times that my eyes are about to bleed, I decided to write a lovely ode to why I loathe this movie. Anna, you’re stupid. Here are four reasons why I most certainly do not want to build a freaking snowman.

  1. The music is unbearably repeatable. I can’t stand it. Other than the opening scene with the song “Frozen Heart” with the burly outdoorsmen cutting ice and hauling it back, the music should and will make most men pull their hair out. The music behind “For the first time in forever….” plays – AND I HAVE COUNTED – four times. FOUR TIMES. One song, in the same movie. Oh, and just to rub it in, they’ve gone as far as to make it the background music on the menu page as well. So it plays four times during the movie, then once on an endless loop when I’m too busy to turn the stupid thing off. Also, I know it won an award an all that stuff, but “Let It Go” is actually terrible. Stop it Elsa, I don’t care if you’re letting go of your troubles. Find some other words to express yourself.
  2. Anna is a crazy impulsive teenager. Considering Elsa has just come of age, which presumably means 18, Anna being her little sister must be somewhere in the 16-year-old range. She’s a 16 year old that is entirely fixated on finding romance, so much so that she is willing to marry literally the first male she has ever met, the same night as meeting him. If she were my daughter, I would probably lock her in her room and throw away the key until she’s 30. Have some common sense, dear.
  3. Why is Hans left in charge? Seriously, there is no other qualified authority in all of the kingdom to watch over it during the blizzard than a foreign prince with no leadership skills? The power structure is literally Elsa and nobody else? This seems to be quite the vast oversight in the plot line. Surely there is somebody else – an adviser, something – that would have been better suited.
  4. Elsa’s makeover bugs me. I know I might be prickling some hairs here, but bear with me. Elsa climbs the mountain, realizing her own powers, emphatically casting her gloves into the storm so as to never hide her powers again. That’s all fine and good, and I understand that it’s a critical moment in the plot line, but why did we have to go to “that perfect girl is gone” as she struts out on to the balcony, transforming Elsa from a well-meaning princess to a girl that is identifying with her rebellious side? I don’t see how this moment is critical to the plot. Elsa could very well have continued to develop her powers, realizing her own potential, without having to change her appearance. I hope my daughter does not glean from this movie that self empowerment and self actualization must come with a scandalous makeover.

Please, I beg of you, take this all with a grain of salt knowing that I am a battered and tortured father of a toddler girl. I’m sure the movie isn’t as bad as I say it is, if I would have only had to see it once – maybe twice. But 50 times and counting is wearing on my good senses.

Send help soon.

7 Promises I Always Make And Never Keep

Ever since the birth of my daughter about a year and a half ago, I feel as though I have been hurtled into the passenger seat of a Ferrari. It’s really fast, I am in no way in control, and everything is flying past me in such a blur that I can hardly make out what I’m passing.

This is the time of year for resolutions. Yes, a vast majority of individuals will excitedly rush to the gym for about six days before falling back to their Netflix binge-watching habits, and parents everywhere will tell themselves that they will get it all together. I’m going to cut through the crap, though: I am most certainly going to continue to fail

in my next year as a father. Despite my best efforts, here are seven promises I will end up not keeping… (Continue reading at Scary Mommy here.)

Simple Joys of a Father’s Christmas

There is something utterly captivating, magical and nostalgic about Christmas. Hands down, above anything else, it is my favorite time of the year, and it always has been. Ever since I was a child, I could feel that holiday magic – that indescribable warmth that consumes us all from the inside out; a joy, love and peace that spreads to all that we are near. To this day, I still feel the embrace of that same warmth at this time of year.

But now, enjoying the second Christmas season of my daughter’s life, Christmas becomes a little bit more. It has morphed from simply a magical holiday into a true honor and privilege to be in some small way responsible for the manner in which my daughter feels that same magic that I always felt as a child. Christmas as a father means having the tremendous blessing of developing and creating life-long traditions, memories, and a tone for the season that my little girl will carry with her always. This season has so many joys, but here are five of the most wonderful simple pleasures that this season brings to me as a father.

  1. Decorating the Christmas tree. Is there a more splendid representation of this magical time than a tree, trimmed with elegant decorations on every bow? Taking the time to put up the tree, to string it with lights that set the whole tree a-glow and gently, strategically, hang ornaments from tip to trunk sets the entire season into motion. It’s the first thing we do in my home – it’s the symbol that the season of Advent has arrived.
  2. Turning on the Christmas music. I have always believed that music sets the tone no matter where you are in life, and with Christmas, it is no different. Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como – they provide the soundtrack to the season. The music is nostalgic and brings back that familiar feeling, and having the opportunity to give daughter memories of the same music from year to year is something I cherish.
  3. Wrapping presents for my family. On a fundamental level, I absolute hate wrapping presents. It always takes me too long, I’m terrible at it, and I feel like my gift looks like a wad of crumpled up newspaper. Putting all of that aside though, it feels absolutely wonderful to wrap presents, knowing my wife and daughter will rip into them on Christmas morning. Wrapping presents, in a sense, is setting the table for the opportunity to bring happiness to their lives in some small way.
  4. Christmas dinner(s). My wife and I are so greatly blessed for the closeness of our families – every year, we cram three elaborate, delicious and entirely fattening Christmas dinners into three days in one week. Coming together, giving thanks and sharing a delicious meal with family gives me a chance to deeply reflect on just how lucky I am for the family I have.
  5. Christmas morning. I’ve heard it said that “to awaken on Christmas morning is to awaken the child in all of us,” and I simply could not agree more. I still wake up and smile, the joy of the day in my heart, but now for many different reasons than when I was a child. Now, even better than all those years ago, I have the joy of brining happiness to my own child on this day. Waking up, carrying my sleepy toddler downstairs as she rubs her eyes and teaching her all about what Christmas morning means, I showed her to the tree and my wife and I taught her how to unwrap presents. This year was wonderful. I will always love Christmas morning.

I’m a blessed man for the wife and daughter that I have the joy of loving, and at no time throughout the year is love better shown than at Christmas time. It’s the little things that make this season so merry and bright.

In the immortal words of Charles Dickens, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

Why Being a Great Father Has Nothing to do With Being a Great Father.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. I’ve been thinking about what fatherhood means, who I want to be, what I want my daughter to see me as, and how I want my wife to see me in my role as a father, husband and leader. First and foremost, I haven’t been living up to any of the ways in which I have been wanting them to view me, but more importantly, I’m realizing that it isn’t about me at all. Being an amazing husband and father isn’t about trying to be amazing – it’s about being humble, gracious, kind, generous, and pointing my family to Christ. It isn’t about me. It’s about Jesus.

I have made my entire life has been about me. It’s been about trying to earn people’s adoration, about fitting in, being liked, being talented. This frame of mind that has been so highly consumed with self promotion and self image has led to me telling people what I thought they wanted to hear out of me instead of telling them the truth. It turned me from a kind-hearted person into a selfish, lying jerk.

Is this who I want my daughter to see? Is this the character of a man that will set the tone for what she is to look for in a man when she gets older? Absolutely not.

It has been a startling realization lately as to how out of control and rampant I have let my fixation on myself and my own image run, so much so that it has been at the expense of my family. I’m ashamed of the character I have developed, and am eager to start anew.

Fathers, please listen carefully here – your job is not to focus on how well you are doing your job. It isn’t to try to appear to be something you aren’t, or to focus on being better than the other person. The best thing you can do for your family is to seek first the kingdom of God. Pursue Him, learn His character, embrace His grace and know that you don’t have to pretend to be perfect, because God loves you for exactly who you are. Once you have truly experienced His grace, knowing you don’t have to try to earn his (or your family’s) love, life just becomes more simple.

So, you are fourth in line in your own life. God first, then your spouse, then your children, and then yourself. This is what I am learning in my own life, and by no means do I have it all figured out. I fall short of the glory of God each and every day. But the greatest news I have for you is that God loves you.

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How To Transition From Baby To Toddler

Babies are easy. They sleep, they poop, they eat, they smile and yes, they cry. With babies, that’s about it. But see, the things is, those tiny little things that don’t go anywhere end up growing, and then they sit up, and then they crawl, and somewhere in that flurry of dirty diapers – you have a toddler. Get ready, because this next phase of life will seriously test your patience. Here are six ways to prepare yourself… (Continue reading on Scary Mommy here.)

5 Ways My Daughter is Smarter Than Vegetables

You know, I never really paid much attention to vegetables until my daughter started eating solid foods. I have always liked them – I think they are delicious, they come in a tremendously wide variety of shapes and colors and flavors, and I have willingly ate them for pretty much my entire life. But now, I have a staunchly opinionated one year old on my hands, and she hates them. She hates all of them. Suddenly, one of the biggest points of emphasis in my life is how to shove those healthy things into my daughter’s face and, ideally, convince her to chew and even swallow some of them. My daughter has proven to be vastly superior to the vegetables and has outsmarted them at every turn. Here are five ways she has proven to be smarter than vegetables.

1. She picks around them. It’s quite amazing to watch this little person be so determined not to consume a single vegetable. We have put mass assortments of food on her tray, and somehow, she navigates that maze like a pro, eating every ounce of starch and protein, even fruit, without being fooled into the tiniest bite of chopped vegetable. Stinker.

2. She throws them off her tray. When she’s not in the mood to pick around them, she will straight up clear them out of her way. “Hey, broccoli, you’re in the way of my chicken. Get gone,” she mumbles in baby babble, chucking the broccoli into oblivion.

3. She swats them off the spoon. We’ve even resorted to trying to spoon feed her vegetables, but it’s like she knows it’s coming. She has given many-a-spoons the backhand to end all backhands, and she has no problem doing it.

4. She purses her lips in a “you shall not pass” sorta way. When the spoon doesn’t work, we have tried hand feeding her vegetables, hoping that if she could just get a little taste, maybe she’ll change her mind and realize that these delicious little morsels of health are not going to kill her. But no, she won’t possibly allow it. She’ll lock her mouth down tighter than a safe door, and there is no hope at pushing some health past it.

5. She screams. A lot. If you are foolish enough to keep pushing at this point, she unleashes a scream that is so opinionated, so shrill and sharp that you are completely demoralized and begin to question your very existence. You have failed, and there is nothing you can do about it, except try it all over again tomorrow.

My daughter really, really hates vegetables.

My Daughter Needs More Space – Why We’re Moving

This has been an absolutely ridiculous season of life. My wife and I have decided to list our house, got it ready for market, listed it, and accepted an offer – in three weeks. Quite frankly, we probably could have done it in two if it wasn’t for the crawling, crying 18 pound thing demanding our attention, but it’s because of that 18 pound thing that we are moving. (Side note – this entire process is exponentially more challenging when you have a baby.)  Here are five reasons why we have outgrown our current house.

1. We have no yard. Where we currently live, there is a beautiful green space off our back patio. It’s wonderful to look at, but as our daughter start’s getting older, it doesn’t make much sense. Just to play, she would have to go out our front door, through the car port, around the side of the house to the back where she could play. Even still, we wouldn’t be able to see her from the kitchen, which is a challenge. Yards are full of magic and memories and dirt. Kids need dirt.

2. Toys. Toys everywhere. Right now, Olivia’s toys are under our stairs or in our living room. That’s it. And while I personally don’t mind it, it doesn’t exactly scream “look how welcoming our home is” to guests when they trip over a pillar of stackable rings. We need an alternative.

3. Babies have a ton of stuff. Speaking of toys, oh my goodness to babies come with way too much stuff. I’m not convinced that my 11 month old doesn’t have more things than I do. Books, toys, towels, clothes, toys, bedding, toys, pillows, TOYS…. everything they own takes up much more space than it should. So yeah, a place with more storage would be nice.

4. Schools matter all of a sudden. I didn’t used to care about the rating of nearby schools, but I do now. I know, I know, it’s still five years away… but it never hurts to start thinking about it. Seeing that the elementary school around the corner from my place is a 3/10 doesn’t inspire much confidence, so we better invest in our daughter and set her up for as much success as we can. Grown up stuff, amirite?

5. We’re way too far from our church. We absolutely love our church and the family we have created there, and right now, it’s about 35 minutes away – on a Sunday, with no traffic. Calling up a friend and being like “hey buddy! We would love to have you over for dinner next week! Just make sure you leave your house an hour before you need to be here, because that traffic is AWFUL” is not a fun conversation. It’s no surprise that nobody comes to our house. The drive sucks.

So, yes, my little 11 month old has begun making all the decisions in my family and she can’t even talk yet, but we are doing this out of our love for her and  our desire to give as much as we can to our little lady. On to the next chapter.

10 Things Nobody Tells You About Feeding a Baby

As an adult, eating is a pretty easy thing. No matter what your food of choice, an adult can look at it and determine the appropriate way to transfer said item from the table to their mouth. Generally speaking, we don’t make messes, we don’t throw tantrums, and we don’t harm ourselves in the process. Babies, however, do not have this set of skills. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about feeding a baby.

1. Bibs don’t really work that well. A bib covers one tiny swatch of clothing beneath the chin, but when you’re feeding a baby, that stuff goes everywhere. Bibs don’t do anything to stop food from getting in their hair, on the ground, on their pants, behind their ears… so, while it may save you a tiny bit of your mess, it will not solve all your problems. That’s what we call “false assurance.”

2. Messes are inevitable. Along the lines of that bib lesson comes the fact that messes are entirely unavoidable. Hands, face, neck, hair, ears, floor – food gets everywhere. Understand this. Embrace this. This will happen.

3. Remove all jewelry before feeding the baby. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of pureed sweet potatoes crusting my watch. It’s a little thing, but helpful. Take off the watch, the rings and the bracelets, because food will end up everywhere.

4. When a baby doesn’t like something, you’ll know about it. They make faces. They cry. They pound their hands on the table. Actually, I guess it’s pretty similar to adults. Your baby will make sure to let you know what they don’t like, so don’t be startled by the negative reactions. Consider those “learning experiences.”

5. Eating can be frustrating. Between the textures, the inability for the body to catch up to what the mind is doing, the different flavors and the fact that this food is not mom, babies can get pretty frustrated at eating time. This happens. Meal time is a roller coaster – ride it.

6. There are way too many baby food options. The amount of baby food brands is completely and totally out of control. Why are there so many options that all look exactly the same? A PUREE IS A PUREE. This is not difficult. Oh but that one is Organic, this one isn’t, that one has “Natural Flavoring” (MSG), this one has another word I can’t pronounce… it’s exhausting.

7. Babies will gag themselves. They gag on food. They gag on spoons. They gag on their own hands if you let them. When you give your baby solids and they start to gag, I assure you, you will lose your mind. But one thing I’ve learned is that the gagging is part of the process for them – just like everything else, they have to learn how to do things us big people take for granted, and chewing and swallowing is one of them. So, don’t get your undies in a knot. They’re fine.

8. Food temperature is a really big deal. Some babies are more particular about this than others, but if her food is not warm, my daughter will absolutely not touch it. Actually, I take that back – she’ll throw it far, far away from her. But it will not be consumed.

9. Let them play with their food. Personally, I find this to be a really important step in the process. Let your kids grab and play with new foods – it helps them get accustomed to these new feels and smells before shoveling it into their face. So, I know it’s counter intuitive, but at this stage, let them play with their food.

10. Don’t stress too much. Most importantly, don’t stress yourself out over what you’re doing right or wrong for your baby. Yes, do your research, talk to your pediatrician and make the best choices you can, but know that your baby is going to be just fine. It’s all going to work out.

Remember, everything is going to be okay. Just prepare yourself for the messes that will happen, teach your baby what you can, and don’t stress the little things. You’ll get through this.

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