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.

5 Exciting Things About Having A Son

Having a daughter is amazing. Terrifying, but amazing. She is stunningly beautiful, makes my hair go grey, keeps me on my toes and every day is an adventure. There is something about having a daughter that simply makes your heart swell as a father, even when you are forced to endure the mind numbing pain associated with watching yet another princess movie.

Having a girl has been the best thing that has ever happened to me, but there is something that feels remarkably different knowing that I am having a son. With that said, here are 5 things about having a son that I am extremely excited about.

1. Easier diaper changes. If you don’t have a girl, you have no idea what I’m talking about. There are every specific concerns and techniques associated with changing a girl. With a boy, from what I’m told, you can just do whatever the hell you feel like. Wipe it any direction you please, use a hose, whatever. All you have to worry about is getting clean. No real threat of UTIs here.

2. Colors other than pink. And it isn’t just because all they make is pink for little girls. My daughter truly LOVES pink. It’s pink everything. Pink walls. Pink clothes. Pink toys. Pink blankets. It’s all pink. And listen, if my little dude loves pink, I’ll let him, but I’m really hoping he’s more of the blue/green/grey type of guy. I can really use a break from the pink, little man. Help a brother out.

3. Hopefully some less shrill noises. There are certainly some boys whose screams could rival my daughter’s, but I’m really hoping for some sounds to be an octave or two lower. Not every sound emitted from my house needs to be capable of calling every dog within a five mile radius to our location. There are other ways to communicate.

4. A knight to protect my princess. My daughter is exactly what I would expect from my wife’s daughter – strong willed, opinionated, has strong lines, and will not tolerate anything less. I love it about her. It will serve her greatly in her life. Even with that being the case, I have every intention of teaching my son from the day he is born that women are to be respected, and that his family means everything. He will be taught to always look out for his sister, no matter the age gap or the situation. I won’t always be around to protect my daughter, but I hope there will be situations where my boy will be able to stand up for his sister.

5. Watching my daughter become a sister. I cannot wait to watch my little girl take on the responsibility of being a big sister. Watching her step into that roll, be a good example and nurture and care for her brother will be so awesome. Now I know there will be times where I will walk in to her duct taping her brother to a chair or drawing on his face with makeup, but I believe she will largely be a great care taker.

I’m Having a Son

About three and a half years ago, I became a first time father. June 4th, 2014 was the single most exhilarating, terrifying, emotionally unstable day of my life, all of which was experienced by the time my daughter way born only 31 minutes into that day. I was a father, yet hardly a decent man. I had a daughter, a tiny princess whose smile and laugh would leave me reduced to no more than a puddle, and whose every adventure would highlight the different chapters of my life. I was a Dad of a Daughter, a Dad of playing tea, watching Frozen (no matter how deeply I despise the movie), surrounded by pink and princesses and tutus, and loving every second.

Just one thing – a small little curveball is being thrown into the mix, a wrench into the gears. We are approximately 23 weeks into our second pregnancy, and everything is changing. Now, pregnant with number two, my wife and I are having a boy. A BOY. I am having a son. Goodbye princesses, hello woodland creatures, tonka trucks, super heroes, loud noises and sports. There will be balance, parody, juxtaposed situations and varying nuances in the raising of my two children, and I cannot be more excited.

With becoming the father of a boy, there are inherent and innate fears and responses that enter into the picture. How am I supposedto teach this boy how to become a man when Ihardly feel qualified to teachhim? How do I help him avoid my own pitfalls? What if someday he looks atme with nothing short of total disappointment?

This is real. These are the fears that have kept me up at night and have given me sudden bursts of emotion throughout the days since we have found out. I’m not a man that will be able to teach my son to fix things. I’m not a man with a track record of integrity, humility and respect. These are all things that I wish I was. These are things that I am working for, not just for my own sake, but for that of my two children. They deserve a father that is steady, rock solid, dependable, trustworthy, and that they know will protect them.

To my daughter Olivia and my future son Emerson, you are my everything. The two of you are the two greatest things that I have ever done in this life and for this world. My promise to you is this – I will never give up, I will never stop trying, and I will always be there for you. I am still and will always be finding fatherhood.

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.)

What My First Year as a Father Has Taught Me About Life

My beautiful, smiling, brilliant, opinionated, strawberry blonde little angel is one today. She’s one. I don’t know what happened. There was crying and diapers and midnight feedings (admittedly much more by my wife than myself, but I digress), bumps, bruises, learning experiences and the occasional fear that I was completely ruining my daughter’s life, and suddenly I have a one year old. She is brilliant, entirely too cute for her own good, and is pretty much already the boss in the house. In my twelve months as a father, there are many nuggets of wisdom I would like to pass on. You know, seeing as I’m an old pro now. Or something. Here are 10 things fatherhood has taught me about life.

1. Slow down. Nothing shows you quite how fast your life moves like having a baby. Suddenly, she’s one. She is 1/18th of the way to adulthood. It has flown by, and I’m terrified of missing it. Having this little lady in the house is making me reevaluate what it means to be present. Don’t blink, people. Be present. Savor every day.

2. Stop stressing. There are way too many unknowns in life to spend your time constantly stressed and under the gun. Guess what? One way or another, everything will work out. You’ll be fine. Take a breath, let tomorrow worry about itself, and just take care of today.

3. Have joy like a child. My daughter finds so much beauty, bewildering disbelief and pure joy in the simplest of things. From a single flower, to the color of the sky, to the shine on daddy’s ring, she sees beauty in the every day. That bewilderment and unfiltered joy is astonishing. I wish I saw the world through the same lens.

4. Invest in family. There is nothing more precious than family. Think outside yourself, think of others, look at how you can make their day better, how you can serve them, and you will have a sense of peace and happiness that comes from very few things in life. This is a lesson I’m still learning, so to my wife reading this, sorry I haven’t been better.

5. Things are just things. It’s all stuff. It’s junk. In the end, it doesn’t matter at all. Your clothes, your jewelry, who won the NBA Finals (side note… go Golden State) – in the end, none of that matters. What matters is love; what matters is family. 20 years from now, I will care a lot more about how my daughter thinks of me than I will about how I looked one day at that one place for that one event.

6. You are more resilient than you think. Life happens, mistakes are made, things don’t go according to plan, and sometimes that is terrifying. But the more I get through, the more I take on and see myself grow, the more I am learning that I’m a very resilient creature. You’ll be just fine, promise.

7. Forgive yourself. Hate to break it to you, but you’re human. You’re going to screw up, especially when it comes to parenting. If you constantly dwell on your mistakes, that’s where you will stay. It is so crucial to forgive yourself, to let yourself learn instead of dwelling in your imperfections. Keep your chin up and eyes forward. Stop regretting, start learning.

8. Listen. Listen, listen more, and when you feel like you’ve listened enough, listen again. You are surrounded by people willing to provide words of wisdom, others who want your feedback, and others still that have needs you are capable of meeting for them. You will miss all of these if your ears are tuned out to the world around you. Get out of your own head, stop focusing on yourself, and start listening to the people around you. Game changer.

9. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Like nothing I have experienced, parenting is wonderfully adapt at hurdling you outside of your comfort zone. With each new phase, you are presented with an entirely new set of challenges that you feel absolutely inept to handle. Get used to this! Feeling uncomfortable in new situations is perfectly fine, just don’t let it completely hamper your ability to step out, try something new, and tackle the situation head on. Embrace these learning experiences for what they are.

10. There is no love like your love for your child. Nothing – and I mean nothing, compares. Your child is the only thing on this planet that can simultaneously elate you and break your heart. Never before have I desired so deeply to be better – to be perfect – than I do when I am around this kid. She is the light of my life, a one year old representation of all I hold dear. There are no words, no possible way to describe, what it means to have a child and the instant, remarkably intense love that you feel for them. This is the only situation as a writer where I feel absolutely comfortable in knowing that I will be unable to describe the way I feel.

Parenting is awesome. It’s challenging, time consuming, tiring, and simultaneously the most exciting, joyful and rewarding experience I have ever had the privilege to have. Being the father to my beautiful girl makes me more proud than anything else I could ever accomplish, and has taught me tremendous things about myself and what matters most. I hope that, in some small way, she will someday know all that she means to me.